UB Admin. Silent on Tuition Refund, says FOIA request

  Photo credit: Fourth View Media

A public information request to University of Baltimore officials ranging from President Kurt Schmoke, Provost Smith, and Chief Financial Officer Beth Amyot yielded no results. 

University of Baltimore is one of nearly a dozen universities to receive a public information request from Fourth View Media, a multimedia company. 

These requests have been a part of “Return My Semester”, a series of Fourth View Media, that maintains a public database showcasing actions taken by universities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions can range from refunding student fees and parking to providing tuition credits at a prorated rate. 

Return My Semester’s database is growing with only University of Baltimore and University of Maryland at College Park being the only schools with data in Maryland.   

Fourth View, in their press release, recognized the University of Baltimore as the first university among those who received FOIA requests to respond. 

“That request sought communications, including emails, of President Kurt Schmoke, Executive Vice President and Provost Darlene Brannigan Smith, and Director of Finance Karen Karmiol that contained the phrase “tuition reimbursement” or “tuition refund” during months of February and March of this year,” said the press release from Fourth View. “The Office of Government and Public Affairs informed Fourth View that “the University has no responsive information.”

“We will continue to shed light on the discussion around how the coronavirus has impacted education and the campus experience by acting as a central resource for not only students,” said Dylan Thomas, content strategist for Fourth View to the UB Post. “But also for the general public. ”

University of Baltimore students have organized a Change.org petition on a tuition refund which could be accessed here.

KahnJunction: Diving Headfirst Into A Sea of Low Expectations

Photo credit: Moody Air Force Base

It’s been over a month since my roommates have been cloistered in our apartment. When not thinking of new and creative ways to not kill each other, my time has been spent wallowing in our basement watching embarrassing amounts of Always Sunny in Philadelphia or playing hours beyond counting ability of Call of Duty.  

This week’s KahnJunction, nonetheless, is the follow up to three weeks ago when I preached the gospel of getting up and dressing in a way that makes you feel good. 

It would be an understatement to say that I was diving headfirst into a sea of low expectations. Maybe, I thought to myself, I’d get some more followers on Insta. Or, perhaps, an additional reader of KahnJunction.

Nonetheless, I began my week-long challenge of getting up and dressed– in more than just sweat pants and a hoodie, that is. 

Every morning, Leonard (yes, the editor-in-chief who happens to be my roommate) and I would lay out my clothing and have a photoshoot. It’s basically been Instagram influencer orientation.

My attempt to incorporate multiple styles has been a journey with stops at destinations like business casual to street wear to the outfit I later went jogging in. 

Almost immediately, I noticed a change. Posting my outfits online caused a significant change in my life.

For the first time in years, I was beating my alarm clock to get out of bed before 7AM. I was beginning to put a dent in the sleep debt racked up from the copious amounts of Always Sunny and Call of Duty. But, it was more than sleep. I began taking walks, cooking, writing, and cooking, all for pleasure. I even took up running again, although you shouldn’t expect me in a marathon anytime soon. 

In my last piece, I expressed concern that those of us practicing social distancing are not taking our physical and mental health and well-being seriously enough amidst being trapped in our houses or apartments. For those of us fortunate enough to work from home, it seems that the lines between work and home have become extremely blurred. This is a challenging reality to embrace, but after a week of working from home, I am challenging you to do the same as I have done: post your outfits or find something to do with regularity that motivates you to get out of your bed. 

I never would have believed that dressing better would have such an impact on my mental and physical health. 

Recently, a friend asked,  “How will you come out of coronavirus better?” 

For days, I have reflected on this. Coronavirus has taught me the importance of good health and adopting a healthy lifestyle beginning with habits like good sleep, exercise, and strong work/life balance. 

So far, 2020 has sucked. Neil Pert is dead. My apartment’s rent has gone up. Not to mention that we’re in a global pandemic ten times worse than the deadliest flu or H1N1

 2020, however, still has potential to not be your worst year (so far). 2020 can be the year you finally decide to start dressing in a way that makes you happy. 2020 can be the year that you decide to learn how to cook. 2020 can be the year that you learn a new language or skill.

The year is far from over. These next few months will be clouded with much uncertainty but we should all be certain that we become the best version of ourselves that we can be. 

Benjamin Kahn is a senior writer at the UB Post. He writes a weekly column, KahnJunction.

Voting for SGA Opens Wednesday, Candidates Pursue Open Spots

“I Voted” stickers on pink background. Getty Images.

Editor’s Note: As editor-in-chief of the UB Post, my decisions have been guided by principles of fairness, minimizing harm, and high ethics as laid out by the Society of Professional Journalists. As a result, I am making an extra effort to disclose my relationship with two candidates mentioned in this article. Abraham Rodriguez is a friend and one of my two roommate. Daniel Khoshkepazi is a neighbor, friend, and the father of two pleasant house guests in the form of plants that I have been watching since he returned home at the COVID-19 outbreak. Under ideal circumstances, I would have passed this along to another UB Post writer but COVID-19 creates less than ideal circumstances. I nor the UB Post will be endorsing any candidate in SGA elections. 

Monday marked the first day of campaign season for the Student Government Association with voting beginning on Wednesday. 

Candidates are vying for president, vice president, chief of staff, treasurer, and secretary. 

The candidates for president are graduate student Daniel Khoshkepazi and junior Abraham Rodriguez

Graduate student Kevin McHugh, current president of the Student Events Board, and senior Hugh Norko, current speaker of the SGA Senate (and full disclosure, a contributing writer for the  UB Post writer) are running unopposed for Vice President and Treasurer, respectively. 

Amadou Bah, current chief of staff, is running for re-election against challenger Maricriuz Abarca. 

Sophomore Emily Kamp and freshman Randy Wells are seeking two of the 12 seats in the SGA Senate while John Lucas and junior Ashlyn Woods are returning for their second terms. 

At Tuesday’s forum, both Rodriguez and Khoshkepazi spoke of their previous experiences working with students. 

“As someone with over 5 years experience with student affairs and student life, both at UB and other institutions,” said Khoshkepazi, to the UB Post. “I want to help our Student Government Association fully utilize its platform to represent students to the fullest at the university and not be afraid to stand up for what students believe.” 

Daniel Khoshkepazi, seeking a graduate degree in Global Affairs and Human Security, highlighted his graduate assistant at the Center for Student Involvement and his student affairs work as an undergraduate at SUNY Plattsburgh in New York. This included creating a rainbow bridge to honor marginalized students who came from families and backgrounds that were not supportive. 

Furthermore, he emphasized his platform’s focus on increasing student services, such as providing feminine products and contraceptives on campus, while also creating new SGA Vice President positions that address various areas of student life, such as Academics, Student Affairs, and Public Relations. 

Abraham Rodriguez, a Jurisprudence major, highlighted his work in the Boglomony Library as a Student Staff Manager and his role as vice president of the History Club. Rodriguez cites working with SGA in these capacities and having less than positive interactions as his inspiration for running. 

Rodriguez focused his remarks on Tuesday to his platform issues of easing burdens for clubs and returning the Counseling Center to campus after its spring 2018 closing. Echoing the words of President Schmoke, Rodriguez argued that if students showcased their need for stronger mental health services that they could possibly receive them. He also emphasized his support for veteran students who are “often spoken about with little actually done for them”. 

“Unfortunately, the general population of the university thinks all we do is fun activities. However, the greatest benefit that SGA actually has is the voice of the students,” said Abraham Rodriguez to the UB Post. Khoshkepazi concurred adding, “Students can use the SGA platform to advocate for changes that they believe will better this campus and allow for their voices to be heard by the school administration.” 

Kevin McHugh, the de-facto Vice President, was absent from the forum yesterday and unable to be reached in time for publication. His platform, as shown on the candidates website, states his plans to “expand student discounts, expand travel grants for students, support UB’s campus pantry, work on offering affordable textbook options, and collaborate with student organizations to enhance your experience at UB.” 

Hugh Norko, the de-facto treasurer, spoke of his plans to ease the co-sponsorship process allowing for SGA to provide funding for activities for clubs, such as transportation, food, and lodging on out-of-town trips. 

In the race for chief of staff, Bah emphasized his previous experience in the past term specifically his open-door policy of “always willing to listen to students and advocate their ideas”.

Abarca, his challenger, at Tuesday’s forum, explained that her position as an advocate gave her a unique advantage for this role. In November of last year, Abarca was profiled in Reuters for her work advocating for undocumented students at the university and in the greater Baltimore region. 

Other candidates addressed specific changes that they planned to address. 

Randy Wells, in his run for a Senate seat, explains that he plans to advocate for non-traditional and working students. “I know, for me, the biggest challenge in the beginning was trying to get to school on time, finding parking, and getting to class on time before a professor won’t let you in for their lecture,” said Wells, to the UB Post. A possible solution, he adds, could be “ SGA working with administration and professors to maybe show a little more compassion with students when trying to get classes especially during that rush hour period and by making sure students discuss that with their professors at the beginning of the semester.” 

Voting through the MyUB portal begins on Wednesday, April 15 ending on Sunday, April 19. 

A recording of Tuesday’s forum can be found here.

Leonard Robinson is editor-in-chief of the UB Post.

MICA Mondays: Paulette

MICA Mondays is a project of the UB Post (University of Baltimore) showcasing the talent and work of students and alumni of the nearby Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) released every Monday during the fall and spring semesters.

Artist Details: Paulette – MICA 2020

http://www.instagram.com/monstertruckfairy/

http://www.pallasinspace.tumblr.com

http://www.pauletteandherhart.wixsite.com


Produced By: Nathaly Rivera

Edited by: Nathaly Rivera


MICA Mondays: Eric Simelton

Eric Simelton is a senior at MICA studying animation. His art, inspired by his love for anime (such as shows like Dragon Ball Z), draws on his passion for high octane fights and motion graphics. Simelton is currently working on his portfolio for graduation, and is looking to work in the animation industry.

MICA Mondays is a project of the UB Post (University of Baltimore) showcasing the talent and work of students and alumni of the nearby Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) released every Monday during the fall and spring semesters.

Artist Details: Eric Simelton – MICA 2020

http://www.instagram.com/ericddarius/

http://www.vimeo.com/ericsimelton


Produced by: Benjamin Kahn and Jeff Dominguez

Host: Benjamin Kahn

Edited by: Jeff Dominguez