ST. THOMAS – He sauntered aimlessly into the classroom, ten minutes after the bell had rung, with his back stooped as if belabored by the small backpack. He shuffled to his desk, noisily pulled out a chair and slumped down with a sigh. His bag dropped with a thud on the floor.
Taking a cursory glance in front of him, he noticed the notes scrawled across the blackboard. Looking around the room, he quickly observed that his classmates were engaged in their classwork. Without even bothering to take his copy book from his bag, Jahlil, whose name like the others below have been changed, propped his head in the crook of his arm on the desk and closed his eyes for the entire session.
When the bell rang to signal the end of the class period, Jahlil lifted his head from the desk, yawned, stretched, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, picked up his bag from the floor, and left the room, as if in a daze.
“He’s like this most days,” his history teacher said. “He hardly does any work, but I continue to encourage him.”
Jahlil, 19, is just one of many students who appear to have little or no interest in academics. His school records show that he is failing all of his courses. Four other students who were interviewed are not faring any better. Brent, 17, is in ninth grade – for the third time. He thinks that school is a waste of time for him. He has no plans to graduate.
“School is boring,” Brent said. “I am going to drop out of school soon, get a job and get my own apartment. I’ve already discussed it with my mother and she agrees.”
Featured Image: Dr. Tim Faley and Team McKrigger after they were presented with the “Best Hack” $500 check and a certificate for 40 hours of free mentoring from NEARiX.
The Hackathon 2016 T-shirt design.
Alicia Taylor |
ST. CROIX – Imagine getting paid to bring your crazy ideas to life. The UVI Hackathon allowed students to do just that.
The 2nd annual Hackathon to be held on St. Croix took place September 9th and 10th in the Albert A. Sheen Campus Library. Thanks to NEARiX LLC, UVI’s Research and Technology Park (RTP) and Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR), UVI Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Association (UVIDEA), students competed for $700 in cash prizes and a $100 UVI bookstore certificate.
In a 24-hour span, students broke into teams to develop an app that reflected the year’s theme of health and wellness. UVI Distinguished Professor and Special Assistant to the President, Tim Faley, instructed students to create an app that they would personally use.
The students took that advice and ran with it. They saw a problem and came up with a solution to solve it in the form of an application for cell phones.
However, of the four teams competing, there could only be one grand prize winner.
Feature Photo Caption: Ryan Shaw ready to take on the new academic year and next, the world. (Photo taken on St. Thomas courtesy of Adeola Adelekan, Orientation Leader)
By Alicia Taylor and Nathalie Trow-McDonald
Albert A. Sheen- St. Croix campus new student orientation island tour, August 20, at Point Udall. (Courtesy of Catey Mendoza, a National Student Exchange student from Alaska)
Albert A. Sheen – St. Croix Campus Orientation: Perspectives of An Exchange Student
Attending UVI is the beginning of our flight towards success. With the help of the orientation staff and student leaders, we were introduced to the flight attendants and captains that will assist in our navigation throughout the journey we call college.
Throughout our flight journey at UVI, we were instructed on safety precautions and instruments we can utilize to assist us. We were educated about campus security, dating and violence, sexual assault and physical and mental health concerns. Through counseling and health services, RAVE and a variety of other departments on campus, students can be reassured that the flight they are traveling on is a safe one.
The theme for orientation on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix was “Navigating Your Path to Academic Success,” hence all the flight metaphors.
Being a National Student Exchange (NSE) student, the Virgin Islands was an unknown territory waiting to be revealed to me. Attending orientation allowed me the opportunity to experience the university and the culture of St. Croix first hand.
The orientation staff and faculty made it their priority to make sure each student either learned or was reminded of the heritage of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. Meals were prepared with a variety of foods local to the Caribbean, including the introduction of two local food trucks for students to try at lunch.
The St. Croix campus offered orientation students to take part in a movie night at the Caribbean Cinema, an island tour, bowling at Ten Pins and snorkeling lessons.
Of all the organized activities and events, the New Student Convocation and Buccaneer Welcome Reception was my favorite. Specifically, President Hall’s address to the students.
“He was engaging, relatable and genuinely cared about each of us individually,” said Cassie (Cassandra) Glodowski, a NSE student from Wisconsin. “He didn’t just see us as a statistic, but rather as a student of UVI.”
After walking the stage and being bestowed the medal, I felt like an official member of the Buccaneer community. UVI is proud of each and every student, whether they are here for a semester or five years. The bond created here is unbreakable and each individual of this community will assist in navigating you towards the path of academic success.
Featured Photo: Designated Parking Map of the St. Thomas Campus. (Courtesy of the University of the Virgin Islands)
Alayna Belshe |
ST. THOMAS – This is my third fall semester at UVI and every year I learn a little more about how to get things done at our university. This year, I mastered getting a parking pass and completing the vehicle registration process.
If you are new to campus or if you have been lucky enough to get a new vehicle over the summer, you need to register your vehicle online through your BanWeb account before you visit the security office.
To complete the online registration you need:
Your driver’s license
Your license plate number
Your car’s make
Your car’s color
Your car’s year
Accessing BanWeb is as simple as logging into your MyCampus page on the UVI website and selecting the BanWeb link on the left.
Screenshot of the BanWeb Home Page after Logging into MyCampus (August 2016)
After filling out the vehicle registration form found on BanWeb, proceed to the campus security office. The entrance to the office is right next to the Banco Popular ATM on the St. Thomas campus and near the First Bank ATM by the Evans Center on the Albert A. Sheen- St. Croix campus.
You will need to bring your driver’s license, registration and your student ID. (If you still don’t have your UVI Student ID, a piece of paper with your name and ID number will be accepted).
The campus security office is open 24 hours a day, so there is no excuse for not getting this done.
The best part of this whole process is that the permit is free. (Provided that you do not lose said permit, otherwise be prepared to fork over $25.00 to the security office.)
As of Wednesday morning all members of the UVI community received an email detailing the parking policy and the process of registering your vehicle including maps of appropriate parking for each campus.
Good luck to all of us finding our preferred parking spaces!
Designated Parking Map of the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. (Courtesy of the University of the Virgin Islands)
Participants taped their mouths as a way to exhibit the effects of anti – LGBTQ acts.
Olinger Augustin |
ST. CROIX – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning organization ONELOVE, held their second annual Day of Silence, hosting a silent march on the Albert A. Sheen campus.
On Thursday, April 14, students, staff, faculty and community members joined together to take a vow of silence to address the issue of anti-LGBTQ and bullying acts. Participants illustrated silence by taping their mouths to showcase the effect of bullying and harassment on those perceived to be LGBTQ.
ONELOVE member, Michael Rosario, had a comment on the event. “What we wanted to do with this march is to show that we weren’t going to be silent anymore. This is the third or fourth event we’ve done on campus, and we just want the UVI community to know that there is an LGBTQ organization that is willing to represent and have a voice for anyone who needs our help.” Continue reading UVI CELEBRATES DAY OF SILENCE→
Volunteers repaint the kiosk information center as part of Pride Week activities.
Olinger Augustin |
ST. CROIX – Students, faculty, and staff met on Monday, March 28 to provide a day of service on the Albert A. Sheen campus by sprucing up the kiosk information center.
As part of the university’s annual Pride Week, the UVI community gathered to provide community service on the campus itself.
Student Activities’ Hedda Finch-Simpson noted, “Often times we tend to go off campus to provide community service, but this time we decided to bring it to the actual campus to get students excited about school pride.” Continue reading UVI PRIDE DAY OF SERVICE→
Aerial View of UVI St. Thomas Campus. Photo Credit: uvi.edu
ST. THOMAS — Students at the University of the Virgin Islands will have to brace themselves for a possible tuition increase in the upcoming academic year in light of the university’s continued fiscal challenges. As the university continues to tighten its belt amidst decreasing government appropriations, increasing tuition will likely be one of the new schemes to improve its financial situation.
In an email on Feb. 9, David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands alerted the UVI community that there was a deficit in the 2016 fiscal year budget. Dr. Hall explained the three main factors that contributed to the deficit.
“This present challenge is a result of various factors, including (1) the drop in enrollment over the previous fiscal years from 2,700 students to 2,300 students which has lowered our revenues and unfortunately we have not made the appropriate adjustment in expenditures; (2) the drop in our government appropriations over the previous fiscal years has eliminated a lot of the flexibility in our operating budget; and (3) some of our accounting controls have not forced units to stay within their budgeted amounts,” the email read.
In an interview with the UVI Voice on Feb. 15, President Hall explained that the units were not maliciously overspending, but accumulated unpaid bills that rolled over from the end of the previous fiscal year.
In light of such, President Hall said the university is introducing new monitoring tools. These controls include denying authorization for purchases that exceed department budgets, closely monitoring department budgets towards the end of the fiscal year, and bringing forward the cut off point for orders and purchases.
“All of us have to be much more willing to stay within the budgets we are given and not exceed them, even when they are good reasons to do it,” Hall said.
In an effort to mitigate the impending deficit of $1.4 million, the president asked each unit of the university to reduce its budget by 4.8 percent for fiscal year 2016. In doing so, Dr. Hall asked each department to ensure that the reduction in budget does not affect employees’ jobs nor the quality of students’ education.
According to Hall, the fall in enrollment by some 400 students significantly affects the school’s operational budget, as the faculty size remained the same.
“We are also attempting to enhance our revenues through various new programs and especially through an increase in enrollment,” President Hall said. “The university is looking for ways to increase class sizes but not affect the quality of students’ education.”
Though the proposal is not final, Hall said a tuition increase is likely to be among the new measures to circumvent the deficit. The decision will only become final after the president proposes the tuition increase to the board and meets with the Student Government Associations and the student population.
Zoé Walker, vice president of the Student Government Association on St. Croix said the tuition increase is warranted in light of UVI’s fiscal challenges.
“I can understand why the students would find this proposed tuition increase frightening. But our students must remember that UVI currently has the most affordable tuition in the nation as an HBCU. In order for us to continue to receive a quality education in paradise, the university has to do certain things to achieve that, especially in light of a decrease in funds received from the government.”
Walker is also advocating for an improvement in the university’s payment option, stating that the options should be more flexible to accommodate students.
“I also believe that the university must observe that, although it is not a drastic increase, every student’s situation is different and (we) should make sure we have appropriate payment plans available,” Walker said.
Though the fiscal challenges are burdensome, President Hall is confident that UVI will overcome them as it has in the past.
“…I am still optimistic about UVI and where we are heading,” he said. “We have had fiscal challenges for the last four or five years. Students should not be fearful that this signals some major problem with the institution, but it is just unfortunately a part of doing business these days, where you have to tighten your belts and ensure you are generating more revenue. Besides a tuition increase, we are looking at new programs that can bring more revenue to the institution,” Hall said.
President Hall will present a revised fiscal year 2016 budget to the Finance and Budget Committee of the Board on Feb. 22 and approval is expected at its March 5 meeting.
As the new semester starts, students here at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) have a lot on their minds. Our staff went around surveying local and exchange students to learn their thoughts and opinions for the Spring Semester of 2016.
first semester exchange student
What was your first reaction to St. Thomas and/or UVI? What surprised you the most?
My first reaction to UVI was kind of bad. This school is super tiny compared to my college back home. I arrived and my phone didn’t have service, hardly anyone was on campus, I didn’t have the code for the WiFi, and there were problems with my room. It was pretty tough for the entire afternoon. Then I met some other National Student Exchange students at dinner and everything changed completely.
What was your biggest mistake of last semester/something you want to improve this semester?
Last semester, I slacked off at the beginning of my classes. Thus, I dug a hole for myself and was forced to climb out of it by the end of the semester. This semester I’m going hard in the beginning so it will be easier at the end.
What are your goals for the end of the semester?
My goals by the end of the semester are to visit a lot of places, make lifelong friends, and become more cultured.
ST.THOMAS-The University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas Campus took part in the international drug and alcohol abuse campaign, Red Ribbon Week, on Oct. 21-25.
According to the DrugRDumb website, Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to promote a drug free America. Colleges have joined the cause as they celebrated this notorious battle against drug.
Colleges are one of the most common places where drugs, such as alcohol and other substances can be found. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found statistical evidence that shows about four out of five college students consume alcohol.
To extinguish this alarming statistic, especially in UVI, the St. Thomas campus participated in a week of events that promoted a drug-free life. Activities such as poster presentations, Red Ribbon decorative competitions between dormitories, promissory drug free signings, and Open Mic night were implemented to get the students involved.
Counselors like Ms. Dahlia Stridiron greeted students in the hallway of the Classroom Administration Building encouraging students to pledge to a drug free “week.”
“It is impossible to get students to completely stop drinking for the rest of their college lives but I was more than willing to make the pledge,” Clement Browne, a biology major, said.
Lesa Royer, a resident assistant of the Middle Dormitory, said “I have collected an estimate of 100 students who pledged to be drug free. As fun little prizes, cups and double sided eraser pencils were given out.”
The dorms also participated in decorating their dorms showing Red Ribbon Week spirit. Dorm decorations included poster murals by West Hall Dormitory and red painted rocks, which formed the shape of a ribbon by the Middle Dormitory. In first place was the East Dormitory, which was adorned with red ribbon posters, streamers and balloons.
“East Dorm definitely brought the competition and creativity. Their dorm was awesome,” Royer exclaimed.
ST. THOMAS– According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) “about four out of five college students drink alcohol.” In the Virgin Islands the legal age to consume alcoholic beverages is 18. As a result, a college freshman in the VI is allowed to purchase alcohol compared to a student in the United States who would have to wait until he or she is 21.
Due to the lenient drinking laws in the Virgin Islands, it is not the local college students that abuse the right to drink, but the foreigners coming from areas with strict laws against drinking, Jill wagner said. All college students are affected by drinking whether they consume alcohol or not.
Many students between the ages of 18-24 consume alcohol and put themselves and others at risk for unintentional death.
Karence DeCosta, better known as Miss St. Thomas Carnival Queen in 2009, died in a car accident after her graduation celebration from the Charlotte Amalie High School. She died more than a month into her reign as queen. It was suspected, but never confirmed, that alcohol was involved.
Many students consume alcohol and are not fully prepared for the worse outcome of the situation. According to NIAAA, about 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall.
College drinking can result in termination from the campus and even worse, students can be restricted from the school property. Females who drink excessively are at risk of being assaulted and/or abused in their vulnerable state. The NIAAA states that more than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape and 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
While a vast majority of students do consume alcohol, not everyone does. “Joining groups such as brothers with a cause, sister to sister and SGA can help students refrain from alcohol” College senior Shana Gilbert said.
Every college student needs to be aware that alcoholism is a disease. Alcohol is considered the gateway drug that leads to the use of other drugs and paves the way for addiction. The university offers a nurse and counselor that students can meet with to discuss their drinking issues and get help. Students may think they’re too young to be an alcoholic, but anyone constantly abusing alcohol is an alcoholic.
On St. Thomas, many college students attended the Metropolis Night Club due to its close proximity to the campus and its infamous “free all night” specials on Tuesdays. This made it easy for students to abuse the substance and drink excessively. However, the club was shut down due to a consistency of violence and criminal activity.
“I do not drink and am not for drinking because it destroys the body, but I would advise those students who drink to be responsible and stay away from the campus when they do consume alcohol” freshman Paulita said.Paulita is a mature student who lived on the island most of her life and supports alcohol awareness.
Drinking alcohol is not the problem, abusing the privilege is. If, as a college student, you feel the need or desire to drink, drink responsibly.
ST. THOMAS–The cafeteria is the center of entertainment and dining at most universities and colleges. The on-campus students at the University of the Virgin Islands are tired of complaining and giving suggestions to Student Housing and Student Government Association about their dissatisfaction with the food service.
Academics are the most important part of a student’s college career. On-campus students aren’t spending thousands of dollars to just hang out around campus. Students are spending this abundant amount of money so they can actually learn something.
However, that doesn’t mean university administration should focus their attention solely on education and forget about the importance of providing students with quality food service. The dining hall has a great atmosphere and view but lacks cleanliness. Several students have gotten sick from eating the food and the lack of professionalism by the employees is a serious problem.
The impolite staff in the cafeteria has added to the bad reputation for on-campus dining. Several students have gotten into verbal confrontations with cafeteria staff. Many students and staff have witnessed the cafeteria staff use profane language and aggressive tones toward each other and students.
“One of the chefs was very disrespectful to me during the lunch hour for complaining about my food being cold and I was simply trying to inquire the type of chafing dish they use. The food service is beyond reprehensible and the employee needs to learn how to be professional in their place of work,” said Sharifah Matthew, biology major.
The dining hall meals are predictable every day. There isn’t any variety or options on a daily basis. They often serve the same baked chicken that they served for lunch at dinner. Most students take the food and throw it in the garbage or go to the grill section which is not healthy.
There aren’t many healthy choices for lunch or dinner. Some students may even have health concerns such as high blood pressure, but there aren’t any low sodium food options for them.
“I was hospitalized during the spring semester of 2013 due to food poisoning from eating curry tofu from the dining hall and I received nothing but excuses from the dining hall manager. The on-campus nurse also dismissed my case when I requested to be removed from the meal plan,” stated Zubida O’Neal.
Students deserve and expect to eat from the cafeteria without having to worry about food making them sick.
It is imperative that the University of the Virgin Islands takes action to improve and start providing students with an inexpensive meal plan with good food. The university’s cafeteria food lacks variety and options for students on campus. And to top it off, they provide expensive, low quality food and keep bad hours.The university often speaks about creating a campus culture and promoting student involvement. However, the first step is being promptly responsive to all student ideas or complaints by taking affirmative action.
ST.CROIX— College students face the struggles of dealing with finances, personal life and staying focused through the different types of stress.
There is a lot that has to be considered when it comes to making those decisions to acquire a higher level of education to better one’s future. No doubt everyone would and should want to achieve educational heights, but for many, there are some obstacles that can get in the way and cause the journey to become quite a challenge.
Finances are one of the top reasons for students quitting or taking a break from college, especially for the vast majority of students who are low income African Americans and Hispanics.
Even with numerous announcements of financial aid that are being advertised and spread, some students find it difficult to really handle the demands of school.
“There were times when I literally ate nothing but Easy Mac and Ramen Noodle,” Marcos Castillo said.
Castillo was one of the many who left the island of St. Croix for the mainland in hopes of pursuing a degree that he was passionate about. He has now graduated from Columbus College for Arts and Design with his bachelor’s degree.
“Some kids don’t think about the other stuff. They just want to go to college and experience the fun aspects of college life, but don’t ever really think about the scary parts,” Castillo said.
Castillo had to deal with living in a place that was completely new to him. He had to deal with different personalities, find means of transportation, figure out how he would eat every day, earn funds for necessities we normally take for granted when we don’t have to get them on our own.
He had to deal with those factors along with studying for school and dealing with his personal life.
One might read this example and say, “Oh that comes with the territory of college life.” But, do we ever stop to think how overwhelming it might be for some individuals?
People go through life changing events that occur around their college years, especially those that go straight from high school into college. Many take on relationships, part-time jobs, and go through a period of figuring out who they are. They are just finding out what’s important, maybe discovering their spirituality, and even who they are able to trust.
These are normal processes until they go wrong for some students.
The relationship that was once beautiful turned sour and has an emotional toll on both parties.
The job that was okay in the beginning is becoming demanding and overwhelming on top of school work.
You start to question your choice in major and worry if this is the direction you really want to take.
You are pressured by “friends” to do things you’re not too comfortable doing, like drugs and alcohol. For those who already got caught up in drugs and alcohol, it’s a distraction in school and you find a hard time pulling away from it.
There are many factors that contribute to the stress that college students go through. How they handle is what is important because stress will always be a factor in life, whether you are in school or not.
I created a random question survey on the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. When asked, 11 out of 20 students said they listen to music if they are feeling overly stressed out. Four out of the 20 said they stop whatever they are doing and go for a walk or some form of physical activity. Three out of 20 said they go for drinks and two out of the 20 said they simply break down and cry depending on how severe the situation.
There are healthy ways to cope with stressful things regardless of whether or not you are a student.
It’s always great to find a positive hobby that involves physical movements. You should have at least one person you can trust to vent your problems to and maybe even get positive advice from. Make sure the crowd you hang around or affiliate with is comprised of uplifting, motivating and positive people; if this is not so, you might need to reevaluate who you consider friends.
It’s okay to take time off when you are overworked. Your mental health and overall well-being is more important than any other factor that contributes to your life.
Yes, it’s college and it should be taken seriously, but you need to give yourself permission to chill out. This only one of the many chapters in your life.
ST.CROIX – Students at the University of the Virgin Islands took part in the co-ed intramurals volleyball game Monday night behind the campus cafeteria just south of the campus dorms.
The university’s intramurals volleyball league played for the second time Monday night around 9 p.m. on the basketball court with teams “Stop Playing” against “We Would Hit It.”
The volleyball season officially kicked off last week on Thursday night and usually starts each year in September.
“Coach Bruce Ray has been doing most of the intramurals as far as putting the sport together and organizing the schedule here at the university and this year we started early,” Roderick Moorehead Jr. one of the coaches for the volleyball teams, said.
While enjoying the game with the rest of the audience Moorehead also said, “One of the main purposes for this weekly activity is to inspire campus life. It’s always great when you have students who have the interest to play.”
The league plays every Monday and Thursday at 9 p.m. with a second game following immediately after.
“If you want to take part in the sport you have to be somewhat serious. You can come and just play for fun but there should be a level serious interest in joining the teams,” Makeem Perinon said.
Perinon is a part of the Virgin Islands Juniors National Volleyball team and is also a sophomore studying criminal justice. He heard about the student activity at the University and became immediately interested. He decided to take part and started his own team called Go Hard for the intramural league.
The game is free to the public. It gives students on campus an opportunity to leave the dorms and enjoy a moment of interaction with other students on and off court.
ST. CROIX- Freshmen beware! one of the most feared things that can possibly happen to you is lurking. We are not talking about failing a test, or arriving late to a midterm. We are talking about the dreaded “freshman 15.”
The freshman 15 is an expression often determined by the amount of weight freshmen gain after their first semester of college.
A 2006 study by researchers at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, NJ, found that out of 67 freshmen, 18 lost weight and 49 gained an average of about 7 pounds each. In another study at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 44 freshmen were studied; 16 of them lost weight, two stayed the same and 26 gained an average of about four pounds.
Hence, along with worrying about your exam tomorrow, or five page essays for English class, managing your weight is a must! How so? By avoiding the horrible freshmen fifteen.
The transition to college from high school gives most freshmen a sense of independence.
Eating what you want is one of the many privileges of being a college student, but what you eat makes a difference and college students typically the young adults eat poorly.
On average people sometimes eat in response to anxiety, homesickness, sadness, or stress, and all of these can be part of adapting to being away at school.
After speaking with University of the Virgin Islands fourth year student Kareem Eugene, he shared the advantages of the wide selections of foods available each day. He also added, that the UVI Snack Bar has the tastiest and fastest food, and available all day long.
Junior Garcia, a student and fitness trainer at the university, and was kind enough to share some tips:
• Eat three meals a day
• Eat a big breakfast
• Workout once a day for 3 days out of the week
• Eat healthy snacks in between meals
(nuts, granola bars, etc.)
• Always eat from the food pyramid
• Eat lots of colorful food for example fruits and vegetables
• Eat more meat than carbohydrates
• avoid eating when stressed, while studying, or while watching TV
• eat slowly
• eat at regular times and try not to skip meals
• keep between-meal and late-night snacking to a minimum
• choose a mix of nutritious foods
• pick lower-fat options when you can, such as low-fat milk instead of whole milk or light salad dressing instead of full-fat dressing
• watch the size of your portions
• resist going back for additional servings
• steer clear of vending machines and fast food
• keep healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables on hand in your room
• replace empty-calorie soft drinks with water or skim milk
If you abide by these helpful guidelines you will have absolutely nothing to worry about.