Two USM student senators step down over Latin graffiti controversy

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. First Friday Art Walk is tonight. Here’s what’s going on.

What we’re talking about

Two members of University of Southern Maine student government have stepped down after a campus furor over how they handled the discovery of allegedly anti-Muslim graffiti on the Portland campus.

Benjamin Bussiere, secretary of the student senate, announced his resignation during a Friday afternoon meeting of the student government group in Gorham, and Derrick Stanley, the chairman, resigned before the meeting, according to a University of Southern Maine spokesman.

During the public meeting, some students accused the two of not wanting to report the graffiti, said university spokesman Bob Stein, who attended the meeting.

“It was certainly shared by a lot of people in the room that there was a feeling that there was a cover-up or attempted cover-up,” Stein said. “I think they were stepping down because they felt that they were a distraction to moving the senate forward.”

It came during a tumultuous couple of days for the student government group, and followed a protest at the Portland campus over how the student senate responded to the Latin graffiti, which read “Deus vult,” or “God wills it” — a rallying cry during the Crusades that USM President Glenn Cummings said was viewed as anti-Muslim. The writing was found in the student government office and was believed to have been written by a student not on the senate, USM Student Body President Muhammad “Humza” Khan told the Press Herald

Neither Bussiere nor Stanley immediately responded to messages seeking comment.

Campus police are investigating the graffiti as a possible hate crime.

In other news

Portland Beer Week couldn’t have come at a better time — Coinciding with the elections, the celebration of breweries in Maine’s largest city arrives right on time on Saturday, and runs through Nov. 12.

Instead of sitting home on Election Day clutching your Tums as the presidential results roll in, head to The Thirsty Pig for a four-course beer dinner. There will be Allagash with scallop ceviche, steamed pork buns, and Maine Beer Co. Try not to talk about politics.

On Wednesday, call in sick and board the Maine Brew Bus with beer writer Kate Cone for a taste of classic Portland breweries including D.L. Geary and Gritty’s.  

The next day continue your ale education with Josh Christie, author of “Maine Beer: Brewing in Vacationland.” He’ll take you to former taverns, brewery sites and the Neal Dow House in this history of Portland beer tour.

The hoppy week, packed with tap takeovers, new releases and fun food pairings, closes Nov. 12 with a battle of the brewery bands at Portland House of Music and Events. Click here for more info, times and prices. — Kathleen Pierce

Tomorrow is the annual WMPG record sale — I have failed to make it to this event for the past 14 years. Pick up some records for me, would you?

It’s time to start thinking about baseball againTickets to the Sea Dogs 2017 season go on sale Saturday at 9 a.m. If you line up at Hadlock Field’s ticket office and spend more than $40 you’ll go home the proud owner of a Mookie Betts bobblehead doll. Find out who the next Anthony Rizzo will be when the Dogs take the field in May. — Kathleen Pierce

Your election guides

I’ll keep these in the newsletter through Election Day.

Here’s everything Portlanders really need to know about this election — This includes municipal and local state house races.

Everything Mainers need to know before they vote — This includes referendum questions and other statewide races.

The Big Idea

‘How Much Arctic Sea Ice Is Each of Us Melting? Quite a Bit, New Study Says’ — Portlander Sabrina Shankman writes:

Ice-free summers are edging ever closer in the Arctic. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice has declined an average of 13.3 percent each decade since 1979. This year’s low point was the fifth-lowest on record, and after an initial period of rapid freeze, levels are now at record lows. In addition to providing a habitat for polar bears and an entire ecosystem, sea ice also acts as a refrigerator for the globe. It keeps the Arctic cool and moderates temperatures worldwide.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.