FARMINGTON – Seabren Reeves III, wearing a sharp business suit, stood at the lectern looking out over the 20 or so faces who were waiting for him to make sense of the numbers.

With professional poise and developed delivery, Reeves explained his research, his data collecting methods and what it all meant.

To the untrained eye, it would seem like a typical day of classes at the University of Maine at Farmington. But despite the suit, overheads and spot at the front of the room, Reeves is no college professor.

In fact, he is a student; one of just dozens who presented months of research to the campus and community on Wednesday as part of the college’s fifth annual Symposium Day.

The event is a chance, for students like Reeves, to branch away from the normal collegiate routine of exams, thesis papers and in-class presentations, and get real-world experience presenting on a topic they are passionate about. Not for a grade, but for the love of learning and exploration.

From a talk about the questionable accounting practices that have encompassed Martha Stewart to Kenneth Lay to a presentation of data about the effects of organically produced yogurt on ulcer causing bacteria, UMF students got their chance to move out of their school desks and strut their smart stuff at the head of the classroom.

With war in Iraq rolling along, Reeves’ symposium was especially relevant as he presented and analyzed the student body’s opinions of the current conflict in the Persian Gulf.

The sophomore from Cornish spoke about a general trend on college campuses toward liberalism and explained with numbers how UMF was no different. That trend, he said, is because students are directly effected by their professors, have more exposure to diversity than ever before in their lives, and in small part, may be based on the rebellious nature of the age group.

“UMF students are severely more liberal than the rest of the U.S.,” he said, basing his statement on 30 random student responses to a survey he and classmate Brad Dean conducted about the war sentiment on campus from March 28-30, beginning the day after the first bomb fell on Baghdad.

His survey coincided with one done by the Gallop organization. Of the 30 students surveyed, 30 percent said they considered themselves Republicans, another 30 percent considered themselves Democrats and 16.7 percent listed themselves as independents.

Of those same students, 63.3 percent said the United States was justified in going to war with Iraq, well below Gallop’s average of 76 percent. Meanwhile party lines were prevalent as 88.9 percent of those who had listed themselves as Republicans were in favor of the war, while only 11.1 percent self-proclaimed Democrats and only 20 percent of independents said they were in favor.

“I was surprised so many people at UMF were in support of the war,” Reeves said. “We are less liberal than I thought we would be, but still pretty liberal.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.