The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: January 30, 2013 (Page 1 of 4)

German-Russian Fusion: The new “European Studies” major

Beginning this fall, the German and Russian Departments at Bates are combining forces under the newly-minted Program in European Studies. This change aims to “reinforce the College’s mission to engage students in a journey of intellectual discovery and informed global awareness.”

In the same vein as American Cultural Studies, Women and Gender Studies, or French and Francophone studies, the European Studies is an “interdisciplinary and multi-faceted program that broadens students’ understanding of the region and encourages them to question assumptions about Europe’s role in the world.”

Current global affairs affirm the Department’s assertion that “Europe plays a major role on the global stage and has significant cultural and political influence.” Furthermore, history proves, “the establishment of the European Union and the negotiating of national identities are recent, contentious steps towards greater political, economic, and cultural collaboration.”

The Department flaunts its interdisciplinary approach with its inclusion of attention to “national politics, cultures, histories, sports and entertainment, arts, economics, and languages which have all played a part in defining what Europe is today and will become tomorrow.”

The major in European Studies (EUS) consists of 11 courses including a senior thesis. These are grouped as: 1) foundation courses, 2) language courses, 3) electives, and 4) seminar and thesis.

The “gateway” course for EUS “introduces students to major themes in European studies, considering the dynamic processes by which Europe and European identities have been defined since the Cold War.” The course examines “how Europe has changed in the wake of new economic and political realities, with the formation of international organizations, and in the face of shifting ethnic, religious, and cultural landscapes.”

As to be expected, all EUS majors must complete either four courses above the 100 level in one of the following languages: French, German, Russian, or Spanish; or 2 credits above the 100 level in 2 of these languages. Study abroad is encouraged but not a requirement.

Associate Professor of Russian, Dennis Browne, explains that the process of installing the EUS major took several years. He explains, “We actually started over a decade ago with meetings among interested faculty from the languages, history, politics, sociology, theatre, and economics departments.”  The most recent activity culminating in the proposal to create an interdisciplinary program began about three years ago.

Browne “would not call the process difficult” but explains that it “just takes time.” “You need to meet with as many potential stake-holders as possible, listen to students, gather data from other schools as well as enrollment figures here at Bates, determine the parameters of the program, meet with the Dean of the Faculty and Division Chairs, and present a proposal to the Educational Policy Committee, which decides whether or not to move a proposal on to the Faculty for a vote.

When asked about foreign language enrollments at Bates, Browne spoke to the fact that they are not as high as they were 20-30 years ago but that this applies to higher education in the USA in general.  German has remained fairly steady over the years but Russian dropped in the late 1990s, but has risen again to levels similar to what they were in the 1980s.  “The boom in Russian Studies throughout the US was during the transition years – Gorbachev, glasnost, perestroika.”  Browne concludes, “My sense is that the study of some languages in the US appears to be closely tied to international events – I would count Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and even German in that category.”

Embrace the unexpected: A Batesie reflects on time abroad

As the off-campus study application deadline approaches (February 1st), many Batesies are anxiously weighing their options. Study abroad continues to be very popular at Bates – over 60 percent of juniors study abroad every year. Evan Binder ’14 reflects on his experience.

Binder, a politics major, spent the fall semester in Namibia, Africa. He is enthusiastic about his experience.

Victoria Falls Evan Binder“I loved how my program was focused around giving its students the opportunities to have so many experiences built into the program. We traveled all over the country and got to speak to so many people and see so many things we never would have done on our own. As part of my program, we had three homestays of varying lengths (ranging from a long weekend to two weeks) in different settings (urban and rural). In a typical university setting, we would never have had the ability to do as much as we got to do,” said Binder.

Binder differentiates his experience from the more traditional choice to study abroad at a European university. While the latter option serves as a stimulating experience for many students, Binder appreciates the benefits of partaking in a group program in a non-European country.

“I would look for programs that give you an opportunity to do things you would not be able to normally do, programs that offer opportunities you would never even think of on your own. Being at a foreign university seems great, but being on your own limits the different experiences you can undergo, simply because you didn’t know they existed,” said Binder.

Binder’s program stressed experimental learning. While the program had base classes, its core was guest speakers and travel seminars. For example, Binder embarked on a weeklong trip through Southern Namibia studying tourism. [Tourism is a crucial industry in Namibia, constituting 20% of the Namibian GDP].

In accordance with this emphasis on experimental learning, students on Binder’s program also pursued internships or volunteered. This allowed students to meet more people and interact with locals (many of whom Binder is still in contact with via Facebook.) This opportunity to venture outside of the program was especially important because Binder’s program was unusually small. Binder cites this as his least favorite thing about the program.

“My program was only 8 people, which could admittedly feel a bit claustrophobic. (Normally there are 20 students.) Our location in Windhoek (Namibia’s capital) was great and allowed you to get away from everyone for a bit if you needed,” said Binder.

Binder learned a plethora of valuable things from his time in Namibia. However, the most important thing he took away from his experience was his newfound understanding of what it means to be an American.

“I learned the value of being American. When people hear you are American, they all have so many questions and so much reverence for you just being there. It taught me to value that I was lucky enough to arbitrarily be born into the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world,” said Binder.

Binder actually did not find the transition back into the Bates community particularly difficult. In fact, the hardest thing for Binder has been trying to integrate his experience into the rest of his life.

“In a way, it almost feels as if I left the U.S. and came back without much changing (other than the temperature), and my study abroad experience is removed from that narrative. I would attribute this to it being my own experience, and the only people who genuinely understand go to schools all over the country. You can talk about your country all you want, but it can never replicate being there,” said Binder.

Binder loved his program and highly recommends it.

“I would absolutely recommend my program to a wide range of students. The staff is great, the opportunities are limitless, and the city of Windhoek is amazing. I’m considering looking for a job there out of college I loved it so much,” he said.

Binder’s experience illustrates how influential a study abroad experience can be. Before his experience, Binder had never been to Namibia and now he is considering living there full-time after Bates.

Binder urges students thinking about studying abroad to be fearless.

“Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! Go somewhere you think you would never choose to go otherwise. I know that if I had not gone to Namibia for study abroad, I would have never visited the region later in life,” he said.

In conclusion, as you are glossing through pamphlets, and listening to recommendations from other students, family, and advisors, remember to ask yourself what you want out of your study abroad experience. Take advantage of the opportunity, and welcome the possibility that it could change the course of your life.

2013 welcomes a new bobcat

With a new year comes a new bobcat. On Saturday, January 26, the new Bates College mascot was formally introduced at halftime of the Bates-Tufts men’s basketball game. The new bobcat is a fresh take on the college’s former seventeen-year-old logo– it is both differentiable from the original mascot while simultaneously retaining much of the original’s character.

The quest for a new bobcat commenced after the Bates College’s athletic marketing committee suggested the college consider adopting a new logo. The committee is comprised of four Bates students and four college alumni. The committee selected Skye Design Studios (SDS), a New York brand identity and design firm, to develop the new bobcat. Skye Design Studios is the brainchild of Maine native Skye Dillon.

Dillon took his job to design the new Bates College logo seriously. Dillon sought to invent a bobcat truly representative of the current Bates College community. For that purpose, Dillon visited campus in October. While at Bates, he attended multiple athletic contests, met with the college’s athletics marketing committee, and leafed through archival photos for inspiration. Probably the most effective method, was his decision to gather thoughts about the logo from Bates students, faculty and staff.

The result of Dillon’s search is a bobcat depicted in the “distinguished” design style. Another noticeable feature of the new bobcat is that the logo solely consists of the bobcat’s head. Yet despite its differences, the new bobcat in many ways resembles the old college logo.

bates-bobcat-primary3“I think it looks different enough so that it’s impressive and new and 2013ish. But it does a nice job of sticking to the old look enough so it’s not a drastic revolution,” said Lydia O’Brien ’15.

Whether you love it or hate it, the new logo will soon adorn campus. However, it will be most visible in the college’s athletics department – it will appear on the new athletics website as well as on students’ athletic jerseys as soon as spring 2013. The new bobcat is the valiant new face of Bates College’s 31 varsity athletic teams.

The question is: How will the Bates College community respond to its new mascot? The majority of Batesies seem to embrace the new college logo. Feelings of surprise and doubt soon giveaway to bobcat pride.

“Although I didn’t feel that it was absolutely necessary to change the logo in the first place, I must admit that it is growing on me. It’s simple, clean and manages to really capture the true essence of a Bobcat,” said Elena Jay ’15.

The new bobcat seems to be a fitting manifestation of the Bates College spirit. It both manages to respect the college’s tradition while also accounting for change reflective of a malleable college community.

B.E.A.M. fights for an examination of the college’s endowment

BEAMSince returning from winter break, members of the Bates Environmental Action Movement (B.E.A.M.) have been making their presence known on campus through tabling and other means in an effort to gain support for their latest venture in the combat of climate change, a petition for an investigation into the fossil fuel investments of Bates’ endowment.

Addressed to both President Spencer and the College’s Board of Trustees, the petition calls for Bates’ leadership in this, “critical point in the fight against climate change” and alludes to the College’s roots in, “social justice and progressive thinking,” as moral reasoning for such a move. The petition has garnered over 500 signatures to date.

The brainchild of climate change, celebrity Bill McKibben and his grassroots organization 350.org have sponsored similar petitions around the country under the moniker, “Go Fossil Free”. In total, 192 campuses have joined up with the movement thus far, including fellow NESCAC institutions like Connecticut College, Bowdoin, Colby, and Tufts.

Recently at Colby, the Colby Alliance for Renewable Energy (C.A.R.E.) met with the College’s President and Vice-President to discuss the group’s divestment goals and at Tufts, students presented the signatures of 1,100 students and 185 alumni while meeting with the University’s Investment Committee for the Board of Trustees. At the meeting the Trustees revealed that roughly 5% of the University’s endowment is invested in fossil fuels and that a divestment process would be complicated, but committed to continuing to meet with the students.

Earlier this year Go Fossil Free gained momentum outside of the collegiate sphere as Seattle, Washington mayor Mike McGinn formally requested the divestment of the city’s two largest pension funds, including Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System which, at 1.9 billion dollars, is the largest portfolio to date to publicly consider full fossil fuel divestment. Of the decision to begin divesting Mayor McGinn said, “There is a clear economic argument for divestment. While fossil fuel companies do generate a return on our investment, Seattle will suffer greater economic and financial losses from the impact of unchecked climate change.”

Meanwhile in Lewiston, Bates is in the early stages of a process that B.E.A.M co-coordinator Annie Cravero says could, if eventually successful, take five or even ten years to fully implement.

“Right now we’re trying to see how much of an effect divestment would have,” Cravero told The Student, explaining that currently B.E.A.M. wasn’t requesting divestment, but simply an investigation into the fossil fuel investments of the Bates endowment. Of the initiative, Cravero said, “I’ve had more faith in this than I’ve had in [any other climate change reform] in my four years… more than lobbying for political change or state legislation or recycling. This is real change, but this is just the beginning of the process.”

Beyond the student body, B.E.A.M. has also been making progress, meeting recently with trustee Darrell Crate, the chair of the advancement committee and co-chair of the investment committee for the Bates Board of Trustees. Cravero called the meeting a positive one, adding that Crate was interested to learn about the College’s fossil fuel investments and would look to pass on student concerns on this issue to fellow trustees. President Spencer did not wish to comment for this article at this time.

Students who are interested in further supporting B.E.A.M can join the organization for a roughly 30 minute candlelight vigil on Wednesday in front of President Spencer’s house at 256 College Street. The vigil, meant to honor the victims of climate change, will begin at 8pm and will include chai and a cappella performances.

Bates airs “You Can Play” video

On the Bates athletic website on January 21, Batesies saw some familiar student athletes flicker across the screen. After smashing squash balls, diving into pools, and hurling shot-puts, each student then turned to the camera with the same message to say: “If you can play, you can play.”

Bates’ “You Can Play” video is part of an ongoing campaign to raise LGBT awareness and to promote athletic inclusiveness to all gender identities. The campaign actually originated in the NHL when former Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Brian Burke and his son Patrick took up the cause of LGBT inclusion to honor Brendan Burke, son to Brian and brother to Patrick, who died in an automobile accident in February of 2010. Brendan played high school hockey but quit his senior year when it became too difficult for him as a closeted gay teenager to put up with locker-room antics and homophobic slurs. In college, Brendan had just found hockey again—this time as student manager to the Miami of Ohio Red hawks—when the accident occurred.

After the NHL aired its first “If You Can Play” video last spring, colleges soon took up the cause. Today over a dozen schools including Northeastern, UCLA, and Princeton have all made similar videos to encourage LGBT students to compete at the collegiate level. Bates was among the first small colleges and the second NESCAC school after Bowdoin to produce a “You Can Play” video. But, as lacrosse coach and instrumental supporter of the program Peter Lasagna joked, while “Bowdoin beat us to it, our [program] is better.” What is more, Bates has a special connection to the cause; Katie Burke, Brendan’s sister, is a Bates alumna and former Bates volleyball player.

According to President Spencer, who spoke in the video, “The You Can Play program represents the extension to Athletics of our core commitment to inclusion, helping to ensure that fans and teammates alike judge our student-athletes and coaches on the effort and commitment they bring to their sport — rather than on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

Of course, while the “You Can Play Program” is an important step in the ongoing effort to promote athletic inclusion, it is not the first time Bates has implicitly or explicitly recognized LGBT athletes. For example, Keelin Godsey ’06, who remains the most decorated athlete in Bates history with 16 all America awards and two NCAA national championships, came out as transgendered before his senior year.

In addition, as Lasagna and football coach Mark Harriman noted, student athletes at Bates have been involved in more formal LGBT inclusion initiatives in recent years. According to Lasagna, student athletes joined something called the Athlete Ally program—started by LGBT student athlete advocate Hudson Taylor, then a wrestler at the University of Maryland—and administered pledges, signed by athletes, non-athletes, faculty, and staff, promising to promote an inclusive atmosphere to student athletes of all sexual orientations.

Women’s squash player Chloe Mitchell expressed her excitement at Bates’ ongoing mission to include all qualified athletes. It “puts Bates in a good position to recruit players,” she said. “They’ll (LGBT athletes) know they’re accepted here.” Senior Cheri-Ann Parris, another women’s squash player, agreed that this program would help to attract competitive athletes who may have worried that their sexual identifications would exclude them from competition.

Accounting for the steadily increasing inclusiveness at Bates and other schools, football coach Mark Harriman suggested, “Young people are a lot more tolerant than they used to be. I think athletics will follow along with that…the way young people are addressing these issues is a lot better than it was 20 years ago.” Coach Lasagna added that he thinks society as a whole is “moving ahead and evolving.” He emphasized that college age people grew up in a different time and were more “likely to have gone to high school with people who are ‘out.’ ”

But more than an LGBT issue, coaches and players alike stressed a broader message in the “You Can Play” campaign. In coach Lasagna’s words, “The message is respect for everyone…I would hope that it extends to respect for all.” Parris had a similar message: “I think the video really showed that anyone, anyone can play—of any race, class, gender or sexuality. I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Multifaith chaplin Bill Blaine-Wallace retires

Bill Blaine-Wallace taught Bates College that, among other things, sadness is an acceptable emotion. As the Multifaith Chaplain announced his pending retirement late last week, his lesson held a lot of credence. After what he described as “seven amazing and life-giving years” at the college, Blaine-Wallace and his wife, Victoria, are leaving the community and opening a counseling practice in Farmington, Maine.

Blaine-Wallace has been a powerful presence on campus in many capacities. From teaching a Short Term course on the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, to comforting students, staff and faculty in the wake of Troy Pappas’ tragic death and joining the ongoing conversation on college sexual assault, to lending an ear and a smile to any person with a concern, Bill’s contributions to our community cannot be overstated. When asked what advice he would give to Bates College upon his retirement, Blaine-Wallace supported a culture of openness and expression.

“When big things happen that affect daily life at Bates, it is important to create spaces for voices and feelings to be heard, a time and a space to reflect,” he said. “In community we find the strength and the knowledge to go on together.”

Blaine-Wallace recognizes the importance of conversations in Commons, dorm rooms and classes as a means of processing daily life, but believes in the power of many voices to make a tangible difference.

As Multifaith Chaplain, Blaine-Wallace would host dinners at his house on Thursday nights for any students who wanted a space off campus to hang out, mingle with new people, and discuss issues pertinent to their college lives. Blaine-Wallace cites the multifaith dinners as some of his fondest memories of the college. “It is important to me to be together with students when there’s no real agenda or purpose in a space to talk about whatever comes up,” he said. “Whenever that happens, those are my best times at Bates.”

At last Thursday’s multifaith dinner, Blaine-Wallace and Associate Multifaith Chaplain Emily Wright-Magoon posed a query to a room crowded with students. They drew attention to the rhetoric surrounding identity, that figuring out who one is has become a large part of today’s society. They offered that it is more important to figure out what makes one passionate, what makes one feel like they are alive. The students were very receptive of this query–as seniors prepare to graduate, juniors think about theses, sophomores declare majors and first years sign up for courses in hopes of finding direction, it is easy to paint oneself color-by-number instead of taking the time to explore one’s spirit. Blaine-Wallace’s answer to the query seemed to crystalize both his role at Bates College and why he feels it is time to leave.

In the past, Blaine-Wallace counseled a member of the community who was ill. In their conversations, he uncovered meaning and purpose and a struggle.

“I realized how precious those conversations are to me and I think over the years I’ve come to focus less on who I am or who those people are and more on what happens between us,” he said. “What’s sacred to me is the space between us and I think our culture’s fascination with the self is pretty harmful in a lot of ways.”

Of the saying “I think, therefore I am,” Blaine-Wallace corrected, “We relate, therefore we are.”

Counseling is not new to Blaine-Wallace; aside from a background in pastoral psychology with a focus on family therapy and loss and transition, his role at Bates College in many ways leaned towards counselor. He and his wife are looking forward to spending more time on their farm, raising chickens, goats and any other animals that may come their way.

“I guess my passion is to participate in conversation that makes a difference, sort of tilling a smaller piece of land (figuratively speaking) and being able to focus more directly and intently on those conversations,” said Blaine-Wallace.

Although Blaine-Wallace will not be teaching this Short Term, he admits to the possibility that he may return to teach some classes in the future.

In an email to the entirety of the college, President Clayton Spencer said, “We will find a time to celebrate [Blaine-Wallace] properly during the spring semester, but today, please join me in thanking Bill for his remarkable service.”

Many of us have been affected, even if indirectly, by Bill’s kindness and willingness to listen. Although the community supports him in following his passion, it is a bittersweet parting and one that will certainly leave a void.

Rondo’s ACL tear might force Ainge’s hand

Danny Ainge has the worst job in Boston right now.

Think a million-dollar job picking the roster of the Boston Celtics sounds like a cushy occupation? Allow me to explain.

The dust is still settling following the gut-wrenching news (for Boston fans, at least) that Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo tore his ACL in Friday’s double overtime loss against Atlanta, and the range of opinions surrounding the short-term and long-term future of this team is as varied as it can be. Should the Celtics stay the course and hope the current roster can do damage with Rondo back at the helm next year? Or should they blow the entire thing up, getting rid of the old while ushering in a new era? There is no right answer; but Danny Ainge still has to try to find one.

The idea of blowing the Celtics roster up is an admittedly sensible one on paper; Boston has an aging roster, and unfortunately, the old guys are the most important ones. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren’t getting younger, and one has to wonder how much they have left in the tank. I personally think that both have two or three years left, but I’m also not the one who gets paid to decide such things.

That unfortunate distinction falls to Ainge. Despite the fact that he transformed a lottery team into a juggernaut in one year through a staggering list of moves, Ainge hasn’t been very popular in Boston ever since he traded Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green, taking a giant dump on the entire concept of “ubuntu” in one dumb move. His draft record has also come under fire in recent years, and there exists (unfairly, I might add), a perception that Ainge was simply gifted with Garnett and Ray Allen. Any way you shake it, Ainge simply doesn’t have a lot of leeway among Celtics fans.

If Ainge is underappreciated now, there is no limit to the vitriol that will be aimed at him if he trades away either Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. If he trades both – look out.

Regardless of how much basketball sense trading two highly paid, highly…distinguished members of your team makes on paper, that’s not where the game is played. It’s played on the floor of the TD Garden, inside the building where Paul Pierce has spent his entire career. Older Celtics fans remember Russell, or Bird, or Havlicek, or any of the countless other Celtics legends who took part in making the Boston Celtics arguably the most historic franchise in NBA history. Pierce is the only Celtics great anyone from my generation can truly appreciate, which is what makes this so difficult for Ainge. How do you trade the only great Celtic of the last two decades?

Of less import sentimentally is Kevin Garnett. Garnett’s arrival in 2007 coincided with the Celtics’ immediate ascension to the ranks of the NBA’s elite defensive units. His impact goes beyond quantifiable measures; he was the face of ubuntu, because what’s more Kevin Garnett than a bunch of grown men chanting maniacally before playing a game of basketball? Garnett is still effective today; the Celtics remain a great defense with him on the floor, and a bad one with him on the bench. Trading him would destroy whatever chance Boston has at being good defensive team, and also removes a versatile option on offense.

Finally, there’s Rondo. Dumping Pierce and Garnett announces to the world that Rondo is officially a franchise player, and the Celtics are his team. Yes, Rondo has been an elite point guard for a few years, but Pierce and Garnett have always been the team leaders while Rondo does his thing in the background. Without those two, Rondo is suddenly the veteran leader. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether he’s is ready for that role. I don’t really care that he’s prickly or a punk; being a nice guy is hardly a prerequisite for leadership (see Bryant, Kobe). What I worry about is what happens when the Celtics need a big basket. He won’t have Garnett or Pierce as his safety blanket; instead, he’ll have the ball in his hands and the other team’s best defender to deal with. He’ll also have hordes of media members following him everywhere he goes, something he apparently hates. If Ainge thinks Rondo is ready for all that, great. I’d like nothing more than for Rajon Rondo to be a franchise guy. I’m just not sure he’s there yet.

I guess the message in all this is that I think Danny Ainge should be patient. It sounds crazy, but I still like the Celtics roster, even if the loss of Rondo leaves a gaping hole in their offense. They still have a great defense, and it’s not like their offense can get much worse – it’s currently ranked 26th in points per possession. The Celtics don’t win on offense; they win on defense, which won’t suffer too much in Rondo’s absence. With that in mind, I’m interested to see how this team responds.

To be clear, I’m not one of the bozos who think that the Celtics will better off without Rondo. I’m also not shooting off flares and picking who to eat first on the Good Ship Celtic. If the Celtics play good basketball over the next three weeks before the trade deadline on February 21st, I see no reason to hold a fire sale. This team is good enough defensively that it will still be a tough out, even if they play offense like my intramural team.

However, if the team nosedives in the next three weeks, then Ainge really doesn’t have a choice but to listen to offers. I still think that he should explore every option besides trading Pierce or Garnett, but if he gets a good enough offer it’s going to be hard to say no (just to clarify, Rudy Gay’s bloated contract and one-way game does not constitute a “good enough offer”. Dangle DeMarcus Cousins or Harrison Barnes/Klay Thompson and we’ll talk).

I leave you with this. The Celtics team at present is still talented. Kevin Garnett and Avery Bradley are still going to hound opposing teams into horrendous shooting nights. Doc Rivers is still one of the best coaches in the league. It’s true that the Celtics have virtually no chance of winning the NBA title this year, but I think that was the case before Rondo’s injury. Danny Ainge and Celtics management should use the next three weeks as a free trial run for the Rondo-less Celtics, and go from there.

As a Boston fan, I refuse to believe that this is the last time I’ll see Paul Pierce in Celtic green. I hope Rondo’s torn ACL doesn’t cause that possibility to become a reality.

Best shows to watch in 2013

With the New Year comes new TV shows to watch and the mid-season winter returns of some old favorites. Now that February is almost upon us, here’s a quick update on the best shows to watch in the coming months as the cold weather keeps you bundled up inside in front of your television or computer.

For your weekly dose of the glamorous lives of the Crawley family and England in the twentieth century, watch the Masterpiece Classic Downton Abbey. The show is on its third season, which previously premiered in England. Watch Downton Abbey Sundays at 9 on PBS.

Are you looking for a show that mixes thrilling plot twists, juicy gossip, constant backstabbing, and revengeful romance? If so, then try watching Revenge, which chronicles Emily Thorne’s (formerly known as Amanda Clark) attempts to avenge her father’s unjust imprisonment and murder. Revenge is on its second season, but the drama is just heating up. You may even want to watch the first season before starting the second to watch the story unfold from the beginning. Watch Season 2 of Revenge at 9 on ABC.

Not into period shows or murder thrillers? No worries. You may enjoy the witty and sharply entertaining Suits. Suits follows the drama at the law firm Pearson and Hardman, where lawyer Harvey Spector has earned the reputation the self-imposed reputation as “the best closer”. Harvey employs Mike Ross, a brilliant college drop-out with a photographic memory as his associate, even though he lacks the one thing that the firm requires of all of its employees: a degree from Harvard. Together, Harvey and Mike work to close seemingly impossible cases and to conceal Mike’s secret. Television critic David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said “Adams (Mike) and Macht (Harvey) are terrific, with the former loosening up quite considerably this year as Mike. ” Wiegard also notes that other members of Suit’s cast “contribute greatly to the energy of the show’s core ensemble.” Watch Season 2 of Suits on USA Thursdays at 10.

If you miss watching the vicious gossip and high fashion on Gossip Girl, which just aired its series finale this past fall, you may enjoy the CW’s newest show, The Carrie Diaries. The Carrie Diaries is a prequel to the widely popular show, Sex and the City. The shows follows Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw as she makes the move from living in suburban Connecticut as a high school student to life in New York City as an intern at a law firm. The show’s recent premiere has received positive reviews from many critics, including Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who writes: “The CW’s attempt to capture the magic of Sex and the City in a prequel, set in 1984, could have gone very wrong. But The Carrie Diaries is surprisingly right.” Watch The Carrie Diaries on the CW Mondays at 8.

If you find musicals and theater more interesting than twentieth century England, murder thrillers, lawyers, or fashion, then try watching NBC’s Smash. Smash captures the pressure felt by the members of a new musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe that is scheduled to hit the Broadway stage. The show is an even balance between drama, and musical numbers that will have you dancing and singing along. The show’s second season is set to premiere on Feburary 5. Watch Smash Tuesdays on NBC at 9.

Women in military represent positive shift

In the last few years, the Pentagon has been a progressive force in aiding current civil rights movements, first with the 2010 overturn the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gay troops, and now with last week’s the decision to allow women to fight in open combat. If approved by Congress in the coming year, the military’s step forward in gender equality ensures that both servicemen and servicewomen will be given opportunity to succeed among the ranks. This decision could continue to uproot traditional gender roles entrenched in Western society: that of the life-giving mother and the life-taking father. The movement towards universal military participation has the potential to become the catalyst for a much needed social paradigm shift.

Due to the continual militarization in American society, violent self-sacrifice in the name of American values is rewarded with full citizenship and respect. Conditional citizenship is at the heart of the present gender inequality. During the early years, women as Republican Mothers risked life to give birth to sons who could fight in wars for their country and girls who could also become Republican Mothers. It was this civic obligation of raising a child with a love of nation that put women on the same plane as their brave life-taking male compatriots.

However, in the last hundred years, childbirth has become a fairly safe procedure with the advent of effective pain medication and other medical advancements. Childbirth is no longer associated with a high incidence of maternal death. As a nation deep within an “Era of Choice”, birth control and abortion provide women with much needed power over their bodies and lives. However, these medical advancements have proven to be a double-edged sword: women are no longer asked to risk their lives, while each year 18- 25 year old males must register with the Selective Service in order to be readily selected in the event of a draft.

Furthermore, up until last week, even willing female soldiers were barred from open combat because of the masculine assumptions of physical and psychological differences that rest on the life-giver and life-taker dichotomy. However, women have proven in the past that they are as capable in life-threatening situations as men.

The 2008 film, Lioness, documented the secrecy surrounding female involvement in open combat and the uncertainty these women face upon return home as the first female combat veterans. “Team Lioness” is the name of the group of under-trained female solder-mechanics, supply clerks, and engineers who were ordered to fight alongside the Marines in some of the most dangerous counterinsurgency battles in Iraq.

Similar stories from female soldiers continue to surface. The rise of insurgency in the Iraq War has obliterated the concrete idea of the “front lines”, while women in support units diffuse tensions between soldiers and civilians. In many instances, women must be prepared to fire weapons in order to protect themselves, their fellow soldiers, and civilians.

Lioness director Meg McLagan said, “[t]his war changed the face of America’s combat warrior; it is no longer male.” However, because female involvement in open combat is illegal under the Pentagon’s 1994 combat exclusivity policy, these women have been denied complete recognition for their bravery and the physical and psychological distress precipitated by scenes of war.

Therefore, supporters of the women’s military movement are applauding the 2013 decision for several reasons. First, women will be given the proper combat training that was absent in the past, preparing women fully in the event of surprise attacks. Gender equality in training will refute any assumptions of female fragility and weakness.

Second, women who have fought in the past will be recognized and awarded. In November, the ACLU teamed up with the Service Women’s Action Network in a lawsuit to help recognize plaintiff Major Mary Jennings Hegar’s combat participation. Hegar was wounded in Afghanistan but was denied a combat leadership position because the Pentagon would not acknowledge her combat experience.

Full recognition of Hegar’s involvement provides both men and women with an equal opportunity to succeed within the military. Hegar’s involvement serves to be crucial for much-deserved career advancement, and the Pentagon’s failure to recognize her achievements violates women’s right to equal opportunities. Rewarding Hegar formally could not only change binary gender dynamic in the military, but also diminish long-standing images of women as the weaker, and solely life-giving gender. This is a chance for the military to push masculine tradition aside and set women up as successful, strong soldiers, who are as well trained and capable as their male counterparts.

Although this change was met with much bipartisan approval, the conservative Christian group Family Research Council and General Jerry Boykin believe that letting women into combat situations, “is part of another social experiment, in which living conditions are primal in many situations with not privacy for personal hygiene or normal function.”

This comment alone exemplifies sexist standards that have created the gender hierarchy within the military and other parts of society. The assumption that women cannot live without first-world comforts is insulting. Perhaps the Family Research Council and General Boykin need to remember a person’s competence and character rests on expertise and personal fortitude, not gender.

Worldwide, longstanding gender equality in the military coincides with heightened social equality. Northern Europe, including Scandinavia and the Baltic Nations, has been known for a lack of workplace bias, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Gender Gap Report. Iceland, Finland, and Norway top the podium for gender equality among 135 countries. On the other hand, United States comes in at 22nd place in political empowerment, education and economic participation, and health, losing three places since 2010. The existing gender gap in America may be on its way out with the introduction of the female combat fighter. With bipartisan support and a little help from Congress, America could retire an age of misogyny and move towards increased opportunities for the servicewomen who risk their lives for a country that has failed to recognize their bravery for too long.

But, before the celebration starts, complete gender equality in the military may rest entirely on draft registration. Because women are not required to register for the draft, the common complaint is that women get all the benefits without any sacrifice, while men endure compulsory military service. The CIA World Factbook reports that Norwegian men and women share service obligation, while Sweden has completely abolished conscripted military service. In order to establish further gender equality it is time for the United States to either mandate universal draft registration or rescind the draft completely.

Taking the personal route to advice in the modern age

Close your eyes and image a time, long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Close your eyes as I bring you back in time, almost back to the dinosaurs but not quite. Close your eyes and focus as I bring you to a white picket fence, to the American nuclear family, complete with a dog in the yard, to a blurry time warp of suburban living. Welcome to the year 1956! Elvis Presley is just entering the U.S conscious for the first time, the Interstate Highway System has just been conceived, the crisis over the forcible reopening of the Suez Canal is headline news, General Electric is introducing the groundbreaking “snooze” feature for its model 7H241 alarm clock, and the first Dear Abby column appears unassumingly in the shadows

Pauline Phillips, the woman behind the penname “Abby,” catalyzed the new social acceptance for straight-talk. She stopped beating around the bush, as was the pre-1950s convention, and cut to chase. From social decorum to the taboo, Phillips answered her readers and writers with grace and sass. Dear Abby started with one column in one paper, but it soon became an international and global phenomenon. Dear Abby, because of Phillips, became the world’s most syndicated column; it has appeared in 1,400 newspapers and boasts a daily readership of more than 110 million.

On January 18, 2013, America’s beloved incognito adviser died at the age of ninety-four. With the death of Pauline Phillips, we must consider if her era of straight-talk–and the earnest advice-seeking that came with it–has also passed.

While Ask Abby and columns like it persist with wide readership, where and to whom do we, as the up-and-coming generation of Americans, go for advice? The information era allows us access to answers in a mere instant. However, although we are able to “Wikipedia” and “Google” and “WebMD” to our hearts’ content, this type of answer seeking lacks a human touch and provides an instantaneous answer. A digitized and overburdening of information presents a counterproductive environment for us to seek advice or answers to our questions. It is too easy to forget, avoid, or regard why we sought an answer in the first place and to be satisfied simply with a quick and easy answer.

As a tribute to the type of open discussion of social or personal issues Pauline Philips fostered and the difficult situations she mediated, The Bates Student is proud to introduce the addition of an advice column. Like Pauline Philips, Savvycat will answer quandaries and promote thoughtfulness in an equally straightforward and amusingly sassy manner. All inquiries emailed to Savvycat (writetosavvycat@gmail.com) will be answered regardless of whether they are published in The Bates Student. Complete confidentially is, of course, Savvycat’s mantra.

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