Student Town Hall Meeting: “Local Issues”

 

On Nov. 14, the second Student Town Hall Meeting was held in Lane University’s Atkinson Room. The meeting is the second one held this semester; it was centered around Frostburg’s local issues.

At this meeting, students talked about environmental, racial, and educational concerns in this town that correlated with other cities and places nearby. Tim Mcgrath was the mediator of the night’s dialogue, and two mics were passed around to students.

“The notion of what democracy is means participation and people getting involved among other things; I want you to be the ripple of our country and states to go out and make change” Mcgrath encouraged. Just as the last meeting, he reminded students that the meeting belonged to them.

The first student who spoke asked the crowd about the current state of fracking in Frostburg. “Maryland was the first state in the United States to ban it by a legislative action. It’s illegal to frack in the state of Maryland,” a faculty member answered. Some members of the audience clapped after receiving the news about fracking. The faculty member told the crowd that meetings where held in Frostburg to stop fracking from happening here prior to the state law. “That helped, I think, solidify Western Maryland in terms of the region because it was the region impacted; water was an issue down the stream, etc.,” he said. The students thanked him for the information.

Another student posed a question about Frostburg Grows: “On the environmental issues, I don’t know if any of you have heard of Frostburg Grows. They essentially work to find a way to utilize the damaged land that has come from the strip mining in the area. I wonder if the city is working to promote organizations like this to give them a bigger platform,” he said.  The same faculty member told the student that Frostburg Grows and The City of Frostburg have been working together for a number of years.

One student received the mic and changed the topic: “I haven’t been here long, but one problem I noticed personally is racism,” he said. The student then went on to give three examples of this: one of the examples came from a story he overheard. “One example would be there was a group of black students in FatBoys Pizza and they were kicked out because of the racial comments of the customers,” he explained. A student, who is an upperclassmen, informed him that the allegations against the local business were blown out of proportion and merely rumors. “We heard it through the grapevines, so it had to be true, and within my fraternity it was my job to make sure all of these other organizations knew about it,” the other student retorted.

The students last two racial observations were being called the “N” word by a passing car in Frostburg and his friend being singled out to take his hood off in the Country Club Mall. “I was walking in the mall with my friends, and while there were other people with hoodies on they came up to my friend and told him to take his hoodie off so they could see his face,” he stated.

“All of this hatred in our community, the only thing I can think of is starting dialogue to bring about a better understanding,” Mcgrath announced.

Once the mic was handed to someone else, a student told the room that her cousin was a victim of being called the “N” word by a driver passing by two years ago in Frostburg. She believes that bystanders should stand up more instead of remaining silent. In response to the mall situation, she believes that rules should be enforced for everyone and that singling out is immoral.

“I would say as far as racism goes, I would advise you not to make faulty generalizations. Don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder,” a new speaker said. However, she was empathetic towards the student and the alleged racism he endured in Frostburg.

In response, the student cleared the air on what he was actually trying to accomplish with his accounts on racism in Frostburg. “I’m not saying everyone here is racist; I’ve met a lot of wonderful people in these small mom and pop shops on Main street,” he explained. Nevertheless, he wanted everyone to know there is a racial problem in the area, and it needs to be addressed.

Lastly, the conversation drifted into the topic of education. A DVMT math student-instructor spoke on the high percentage of freshmen who placed into these developmental math classes, and he believed that education is something that we can help one another with. “If you have a little sibling who the school’s can’t seem to help read, help them out because it will help in the future,” he advised.

“Going to a public school I noticed if you weren’t really good at things like math then they didn’t really care about you,” a student said. He went on to tell the crowd that these students didn’t fail, but they did not excel either. Furthermore, to him the public school systems fail, because they neglect students with disabilities and who have a hard time at a certain subjects.

One student believed that more parents should step into a child’s education. He referenced the way Ben Carson’s mother forced him to become serious about his education. Another student believed that No Child Left Behind is not a beneficial system. She thinks this system was used to pass along her younger sister with special needs, instead of educators actually investing in the child’s learning.

To end the meeting, Stacey Twing, the wife of a professor here at Frostburg State University, responded to the student’s comments on a failing education system. “I’m not a student and I’m not supposed to talk, but I am teacher and I just had to speak up,” she told the crowd. She was highly empathetic to the students who encountered negligent teachers. She informed them that there are teachers who care, and that these teachers are still in the work force.

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