The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: January 2013 (Page 2 of 9)

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.

Poverty Post-MLK: How Can We Help?

Martin Luther King day began in the Peter J. Gomes Chapel this past Monday morning with a theme of debt and inequality. It began with an introduction from Dean Reese, a welcome from President Clayton Spencer, an overview by Pamela J. Baker, an Introduction by Charles Nero, and finally, Anthea Butler’s keynote address, titled, “MLK and America’s Bad Check: America’s Poor in the 21st Century.”

Anthea Butler is an Associate Professor and Graduate Chair of Religious Studies at University of Pennsylvania.  She is a historian of African American religion and has written books such as her Women in the church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World and The Gospel According to Sarah.  She writes for the online magazine Religion Dispatches and appears as a guest regularly on the Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC.

Butler began her speech with Dr. King’s less well-known history—his role in fighting against poverty throughout the nation.  In November 1967, Dr. King spoke at a meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and announced his Poor People’s Campaign—a plan for an initial 2,000 poor people to camp out on the mall of Washington, D.C. and meet with government officials to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, and general economic security.  After King’s assassination in April of 1968, the SCLC decided to continue with the plan and set up Resurrection City, a temporary settlement of shacks and tents on the mall of Washington.

While the Poor People’s Campaign made some gains, it had a lack of a clear set of demands, and the campaign failed to reach the main goal of economic security.  Butler brought the discussion of the Poor People’s Campaign to our poverty issues today and related the Poor People’s Campaign to our decade’s Occupy Wall Street.

We have a large problem of poverty in our nation.  Butler presented some shocking statistics.  15% of Americans live in poverty.  37.4% of African American children (that is children under the age of 18) live in poverty.  31.4% of Hispanic children in the United States live in poverty.  The numbers disproportionately show minorities living in poverty.

“Eradicating poverty is not charity, but justice,” Butler stated,  “Helping people has become a bad word.  And I call this the nation’s new Ayn Rand philosophy—we’re all on our own, we can choose to be selfish, and all those impoverished are there because they want to be,” she paused. “Nobody is poor because they want to be.”

Butler claimed that the bottom has dropped off for a lot people because of unemployment, the crash, the slowness of people coming back to work, and health care in this nation.  The poor now, are even poorer.  And there are mover and more people who have dropped below the poverty line.

“How do we start to fight this?” Butler asked her audience.  The first step she suggested is to stop having meetings about poverty where one talks about poverty without doing something about it or without even having a poor person at the meeting.  How does one know where to begin in the struggle against poverty, if one does not know poor peoples’ main struggles?

Butler offered one organization to donate to—Occupy Debt, an organization that buys debt from many of those stuck in debt.  Occupy Debt has wiped out $11 million dollars of debt already. One can visit their website at Rollingjubilee.org and contribute.

Butler stated a few main matters we need to focus on if we wish to fight poverty.  First, we need to change our rhetoric about poverty. We need to make sure we respect the impoverished.  People are not below the poverty line because of their laziness or lack of hard work.  Secondly, we need a new works project administration.  Not only would a new Works Project Administration rebuild our infrastructure that is falling apart and too long neglected, it would rejuvenate the economy and give jobs to many of those 15% of people below the poverty line.  Thirdly, we need to focus on education—children are our most important resource and teachers are our front line of defense against poverty.  Finally, we need to make sure everyone has affordable health care, and that they can pay for serious and much needed operations, procedures, and medicine.

Fighting and eradicating poverty seems like a lofty, if not impossible goal.  It is an overwhelming idea to take on, but not one that should be deemed impossible.  There are many roads to take on the battle to fight poverty—the first step is to become an active citizen.  One ought to be active not just with their votes, but with their words and with their actions, for the issues that one fights for.  With 47,000,000 Americans who live at or below the poverty line, we ought to aid in fight against poverty.

Anthea Butler’s speech was eye opening.  Many of us who go to Bates don’t have to worry about falling below the poverty line.  There may have been times when our families struggled financially—perhaps we didn’t get that new iPod for our birthdays, or our parents didn’t allow us to go to that really expensive sports camp.  For others of us, we moved in with relatives when our parents couldn’t afford our homes, or we ate the tasteless state provided school lunches because at least it was food.

We must remember that there are people at Bates, in Lewiston, in our hometowns, and across the country who are below the poverty line.  Perhaps we do not always recognize poverty or perhaps we do not like to think about it.  This is no excuse to ignore it.  Poverty is not a choice.  It’s not just the few homeless people you see in the cities.  Poverty is single mothers with their kids, the unemployed fathers and mothers who are desperately searching for jobs, or the young graduate who can’t pay back their student loans.  Poverty needs to be recognized. We can help the fight against poverty at the local level through volunteering and contributing, and at the state and federal level through our vote and political participation.

To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “There is nothing new about poverty.  What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it.”  We have the resources, and with them we can eradicate poverty.

Women’s squash falls at #9 Brown

Despite the return of No. 1 player Nessrine Ariffin, the Bates women’s squash team fell to ninth-ranked Brown University on Sunday by a score of 7-2.

Ariffin, an All-America selection in 2012, completed her first full match since November 30th against Tufts. Although she dropped the first game 8-11, the sophomore roared back to take the next three 11-7, 11-5, 14-12.

Senior captain Cheri-Ann Parris, playing at No. 2, also won her match. Parris, who had been playing at No. 1 in Ariffin’s absence, won a thrilling five-set match by a score of 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 16-14, 11-7.

The rest of the match, however, did not go the Lady Cats’ way. Sophomore Myriam Kelly came the closest to taking a win, but dropped a tough five-set match after coming back from a 2-0 deficit.

Sophomore Chloe Mitchell was the only other Bobcat to win a set in the match, as she lost an 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 match at the No. 4 spot.

Next up for Bates women are the NESCAC Championships, which take place this weekend and are hosted by Trinity and Wesleyan. The Bobcats have yet to find out their opponent.

Women’s basketball struggles vs. #4 Tufts

After watching the men’s team fall to Tufts in a close game, it was the women’s opportunity to give the crowd something to cheer about. However, it was no easy task, as the undefeated Tufts Jumbos stormed into Alumni Gym looking to back up their #4 national ranking.

For the first 10 minutes of the game, it was a close contest, with both teams exchanging leads. However, Tufts gradually began to suffocate the Bates offense with their trademark defense, racking up blocks and steals on their way to a commanding run to end the half.

“We are really trying to focus on consistency, intensity, and constantly being on the same page both offensively and defensively,” said sophomore forward Allania Murphy.

In the last nine minutes of the first half, the Lady Bobcats committed six turnovers helping Tufts finish out the half on a 14-1 run. Leading the way for Cats in the first half was senior captain Brianna Hawkins, who had five points.

The lead for the Jumbos only increased from there, eventually reaching 23 points as Tufts opened up the second half with two quick layups as part of an 8-0 run. For the rest of the game, the lead stayed in the twenties, as the Bobcats couldn’t muster up a comeback.

For the game, the Bobcats committed a total of 27 turnovers. Senior Hawkins finished the game with 11 points, the only Bobcat to reach double figures. Other Bobcat notables such as Meredith Kelly, Molly Brown, and Taryn O’Connell were held to season lows in scoring. Senior Allie Beaulieu chipped in eight points.

“We still have a lot of work to do through the end of the NESCAC season,” Murphy said.

The women’s team hits the road for three games before returning home on February 9th against Hamilton.

The People’s President

On January 21, Barack Obama made his second Inaugural Address. Much has been said about it: his address presented a liberal vision for the next four years, a renewed commitment to equality and social programs, and a promise to dedicate the United States to combating climate change. These things are of vital importance and have been discussed by people with far more political expertise than me. But what struck me about the speech was something else: Obama went out of his way to present himself as though he were speaking to us citizen to citizen. He never referred to himself as President. When he spoke of the inauguration, he spoke of it in the abstract: “Each time we gather to inaugurate a president…” His speech was written less as a statement of the actions his administration is going to take than as an attempt to articulate the thoughts and beliefs of American citizens – albeit a liberal portion of them. An undertone of the speech, I think, was a gentle reminder that we as citizens have to take an active role in participating in this republic.

The latter half of Obama’s speech was structured around a repetition of “we, the people” followed by an analysis of what it is that ‘the people’ know and believe in: equality and equal opportunity, ending war and encouraging peace, and a commitment to confronting climate change. These are things you might expect a president to bring up, but he framed the discussion around one of the most important phrases in American history: the beginning of the Constitution. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”

This is our founding charter, the blueprint of our republic, and perhaps the most important reminder that the United States was formed “of, and by, and for the people,” to quote both Obama and Abraham Lincoln. After five sets of “we, the people,” Obama finished with a call to action, for the moderation and compromise necessary to make political decisions. Then: “You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course,” he said. “You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time.”

His message, it seems to me, is pretty clear. Peoples’ duties as citizens are not reserved for one day in November every few years. The people – we, the people – are the fundamental source of power for every politician in Washington. They serve at our pleasure, and they are, therefore, not going to act in a way that would disturb their constituents. If the minority party’s constituents are going to punish any representatives who allow the majority party to pass legislation, no legislation will pass. House Democrats will fight tooth and nail to prevent Republican-majority legislation from leaving the House; Senate Republicans will filibuster any liberal bill or appointment they can get their hands on. Obama spent much of his first term trying to compromise with Congressional Republicans, with limited success. Members of Congress have no incentive to work with the president if their constituents will punish them for it by voting them out of office.

It is for this reason that Obama harped so hard on the idea of ‘we the people’, invoking the words of our founding document to beat us over the head with the fact that we are citizens of the United States 365 days a year, and with that citizenship comes responsibility. It is hypocritical to sit back and complain about the gridlock in Washington because we are the ones who caused that gridlock. We elected this set of intransigent politicians. We poured oil and water in a jar and were surprised to find they didn’t mix. Obama’s speech gently encouraged us, then, to take a more active role in participatory politics. As citizens, Obama said, we have the “power” and the “obligation” to determine the course of politics in this country.

I am not necessarily arguing that Obama is right in suggesting that we have the power to make a difference here. It is easy to claim that people were irresponsible in electing a liberal president, a liberal Senate, and a Republican House; but in reality it’s not as simple as that, because of things like gerrymandering in determining House districts. But Obama is surely correct in the principle of the issue: that the people ought to take more responsibility for what they do with their ballots. That the culture of politics in this country should shift away from the assumption that after early November, everything in Washington is out of our hands.

I am not arguing that Obama’s speech is going to change anything, but I am arguing that going public in the manner that he did was the best option available to him. Going public in this way has its downsides, of course. Conventional wisdom suggests that a president who sidesteps Congress and appeals directly to the people will face difficulty working with Congress down the road. At this point in Obama’s presidency, however, it appears that he has little choice in the matter. Senate Republicans have attempted to block, by way of the filibuster, even relatively low-level executive appointments. He simply can’t get anything done through Congress, and so used this speech to appeal directly to the citizens at large, to try to convince them that although it may seem that the system is broken, it need not remain so.

Where Anthea Butler went wrong: An unbalanced MLK Day

anthea butlerIt seems that our recent MLK Day celebration at our liberal arts college came with a heavy dose of “liberal”. Anthea Butler, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, delivered the keynote address. Butler is a frequent guest on the Melissa Perry Harris Show on MSNBC and unsurprisingly a supporter of the Democratic Party.

While I personally agree with most of her keynote address titled, “Martin Luther King Jr. and America’s Bad Check: America’s Poor in the 21st Century”, there are some statements that I feel should be addressed.

First, Butler’s insistence that the prosperity gospel is one of the key factors perpetuating income inequality is simply overblown. The prosperity gospel is a philosophy where preachers promote self-promotion and a material lifestyle. Our current tax policy and social safety net impact large groups of high and low-income people in a way that a preacher’s message saying you can possess material wealth cannot.

Butler’s critique is centered exclusively on church-going Christians, which is problematic. Many different groups of people from many different backgrounds contribute both positively and negatively to our income inequality problem in America and it is not fair to call out one group, specifically a group that often promotes large amounts of charitable giving, as responsible for income inequality.

Even if the Christian Church has become a place where serving others is no longer emphasized, an assertion that I disagree with, that does not mean we should demonize religion and individuals for our problems with poverty.

Butler continues to blame individuals with her statement that our rhetoric is derived from an “Ayn Rand philosophy.” Saying that the majority of Americans believe that people are poor because they want to be poor is simply not true. There may be some of this rhetoric from the far right fringes of our political discourse, but you did not see Romney or Obama saying anything similar to that philosophy during their political campaigns. Many Americans, both liberal and conservative, give heavily to charitable organizations that alleviate poverty.

There might be a moral obligation for individuals to alleviate poverty, but the practical obligation falls into the hands of the government. The government should expand our social safety net and promote programs like education and healthcare, but it is not the fault of an individual if the government fails to take action.

Butler has also made disconcerting statements on free speech in the wake of the Benghazi Embassy attacks.

A tweet from her account reads, “When Sam Bacile would be arrested?” Bacile was the fake name of a filmmaker who made the controversial film Innocence of Muslims which had multiple scenes that are offensive to Muslim viewers. There were riots over the film at the time of the embassy attack in Libya.

Butler says Bacile should be arrested because, “As a religion professor, it is difficult to teach the facts when movies such as Bacile’s are taken as truth and propaganda.” So essentially she is saying that when an insensitive film makes it hard to teach, then it should be censored.

Butler then goes on to say that she values free speech because she is a tenured professor. This is ridiculous, as having more education then someone else does not mean that you get to be the arbiter of when the First Amendment is applied. Butler uses the argument that the army felt the film was a serious threat, so therefore its creator should be jailed. I can think of many places where the army determines who goes to jail, and I would not want to live in those places.

I know I have been critical, and it isn’t because I disagree with the larger point of Butler’s message: we need to do more to fight poverty in America. It is because there was not an opposing viewpoint offered on campus during MLK Day.

If we have two keynote speakers that can articulate their opinions on a heated issue like government responsibility to its poor, then we can actually partake in a discussion of the issues that is engaging and beneficial for the entire campus.

We also have a responsibility to listen to opposing viewpoints, and it seems that there are members of the Bates community who do not wish to do so. One event that does involve a discussion of the issues from both sides is the annual MLK Debate, and there were multiple members of that audience, including some staff and professors, who felt the need to boo and hiss at the team from Bates defending less government intervention for the poor.

Even though before each of their speeches the debaters reiterated that they did not personally agree with the side they were defending, people still decided to give them a hard time. This is problematic because a lot of issues that a vast majority of Batesies agree on are issues that are contentious debates in other spheres. We need to be willing to listen to the other side of that debate.

As a college that was founded on embracing all viewpoints, we need to have balance in the viewpoints that are presented on campus, especially during a well-known event like MLK Day.  Bringing in a second keynote speaker can potentially stir a greater discussion of the issues that this year’s program lacked in some respects.

Sankofa: A Rose by Any Other Name Review

If you had any doubts about the amount of talent at Bates, hopefully you were lucky enough to score a ticket to the Sankofa show this past MLK Day. This multi-genre show was jam-packed with great acts. Entitled A Rose by Any Other Name, this show focused primarily on sexuality and it’s place in various races and ethnicities.

The theme of sexuality this year caught many by surprise. The previous two performances dealt more directly with the issues of racial identity following the African diaspora.

“We are bombarded with black bodies having sex but never question sexuality,” commented the director of this year’s performance, sophomore Alex Bolden.

“To me, this was a really good example of intersectionality. In this way they were making it very clear that blackness intersects with gender, it intersects with sexuality and people often identify with these things simultaneously,” explained chair of the MLK Day committee, Professor Nero.

This show grappled with a plethora of cultural issues, and integrated them in a way that was bold and innovative. One piece in particular stuck out as especially daring; a poem entitled “Asheville Offering,” which was performed by Jessica Washington and AnnaMarie Martino.

The poem wrestles with the ongoing battle between the gay community and the black community. It shows the futility of the argument over who has been the most oppressed. The powerful emotion behind the performances by Washington and Martino gave the poem chilling intensity.

“I think it is an important piece because it demonstrates the parallels between the Gay Rights and Civil Rights movements, which many people often think of as somewhat opposing movements,” said senior Martino, about her piece. “I identify as a gay female and have been faced with a lot of the issues I was able to present in our piece.”

The show brought audience members on a rollercoaster of emotions. Each performance was impressively heartfelt. Bates alum James Watkins’ rap, entitled “Love & Hip-Hop,” was an emotional triumph for the show.

“I didn’t want to just rap about some random stuff,” explained Watkins ’12, during the Q&A after the show. “I personified hip hop and exposed myself through the genre I’ve been loving for so long.”

That kind of personal devotion to the acts was clear throughout the two-hour show. Real life couple Bridget Feldman and Culture Brown performed a poem they wrote about the difficulties they face daily as an interracial couple, completing the poem with a kiss that elicited rapturous cheers from the audience.

The music in A Rose by Any Other Name was well chosen, with each song being used to it’s full potential to bring out the soul of the piece. Though Rihanna, Kanye, and The Weekend added depth to the performances, the most impactful musical moment of the night was when Senior Raina Jacques performed Lauryn Hill’s “Freedom Time,” a capella, standing still on one side of the stage.

Reactions to the show overall have been unexpectedly mixed.

“The majority of the bad reviews have reflected on the scripted portion of the performance and claim that Sankofa used stereotypical ways of “blackness” i.e. the angry black woman or the hyper-sexualized black man,” explains Bolden. However, Bolden continues, “We cannot hate Anderson [the father figure in the narrative] because we [society] created him.”

Though some may struggle with the portrayals of the characters, Bolden maintains, “These are situations that happen in real life.”

Despite the controversy, it is indisputable that A Rose by Any Other Name was an impressive, thought-provoking display of the talent and passion at Bates.

There was definitely a resounding message throughout the show. Sankofa’s one repeated question came off as more of a desperate plea to which everyone must listen: how could you hate love?

Do You have a Job Yet?

In a week, I will have been looking for a job for six months. I remember looking at schools and the exhausting process of applying for college: writing essays, fighting with my mom about edits, overnights, even flying to a hippy school in California and back to Maryland in the same day. Busy asking questions about study abroad programs, required courses, and class sizes, finding a job really never crossed my mind. Now most of us have found ourselves asking the inevitable: what the hell are we going to do next year? And more importantly, who’s going to pay for it?

For the past four years, we have had it pretty easy.  We have people to cook our food, clean our bathrooms, and Security to tell us when we have had too much to drink. For the most part, our worries have been minimal: trying to get A’s, make it to all of our classes, and deciding what to do on the weekends.

For the past four months, I have spent endless hours in the library not working on anything school-related, but on cover letters, emails and job applications. I have probably talked to at least a quarter million people who attended Bates College in search of advice and opportunities, yet still I find myself without an answer to the inevitable.

What I love most about finding a job is how companies think that you have all the time in the world. Many forget that I am still a student enrolled at a demanding liberal arts school trying to balance my academic and social life.

Two nights before I planned to drive to Boston for an interview, I received an email from the company with an invitation for an information session at their office the next day. With 24 hours notice to find a way to get to Boston early, find somewhere to stay, and figure out how to explain to my professors that I would miss class for the third or fourth time that semester, I scrambled to make it work.

The next afternoon, I rushed from my thesis meeting to get to Portland to catch the 4:30 bus. 4:25, 4:26, I still had four more exits. I began to panic. I sped into the parking lot of the bus station, looking in my rearview mirror to make sure that I had not hit any innocent bystanders on the way in. I parked, grabbed my suit hanging in the back, slammed the door, and sprinted to the buses. I had just missed it by a minute.

Furious and feeling defeated, I grabbed two bags of the free pretzels that they hand out, and moseyed over to the waiting room to wait two hours for the next bus. I ended up making it to the last 20 minutes of the event, making sure to snipe a few chocolate chip cookies and cheese and crackers from the buffet table to put me at ease. I never know where to draw the line with snacks when interviewing. They always announce that they have so much food and demand that you to take what you want, but is it really professional to take a plate of cookies for the road or to get chocolate in the middle of your two front teeth in the middle of a conversation with a potential employer? Maybe that explains why I do not have a job.

By the way, although the company said I would hear in two weeks, Human Resources did not even dare to bother to call me or even email me the bad news. Seven weeks later, I finally called them to hear the news for myself. I would like to think that after making two trips to Boston and speaking with alumni at the firm, that they would have the decency to just tell me.

I can safely say that I have checked off all of the possible things that could go wrong in the process. The list could go on forever: I have been told that I have lipstick on my teeth, have had my car battery die on the way to Boston for an interview, been asked by a bus driver on the microphone to get off of the phone because of bus policy while talking to an alumni, gone to New York and back in one day (missing Newman Day and the puddle jump mind you), ripped my panty hose (yes, I have to wear them) during a super day, tripped on my own feet in my heels when merely standing and talking to an alumni, knocking my glass of wine onto myself, and spent two weeks on a stock pitch for a job that I did not get.

A lot of my friends say just wait or tell me that I am killing myself over this, but I decided back in August that I would do everything that I could to get what I wanted so here I am. The numbers have started to look bleak: 100 calls or meetings with alumni, more than a dozen interviews, at least fifty job applications, and plenty of “We regret to inform you” emails, but after a few pity parties and many news articles about the plummeting job market, I look around and find many people in the same position.

According to an article in

The Huffington Post, one in two college graduates are jobless or unemployed. On top of that, median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees have declined since 2000 and the majority of future job opportunities will likely be in lower-skilled positions. Nearly 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or unemployed, the highest share in 11 years.

Before every interview, after double-checking my make-up and hair in the bathroom, I repeat that quote from

The Help, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” I hope that one of my seven crazy roommates finds a job soon, and I constantly picture the day when this miserable never-ending process will come to a close for all of us. Until then, we have to carry on.

Arts Crawl shines light on talent of artistic Batesies

ArtsCrawl_130125_Asia_Night_103 B&WIn the chilly, single-digit temperatures of Friday night, the glow of paper bag lanterns guided visitors along the path of the annual Bates Arts Crawl. Bundling up in parkas, knitted hats, and mittens, students, faculty, staff, and L-A residents spent the evening enjoying a range of creative activities and exhibitions across campus. A colorful map showed the route to all the events with a breadcrumb trail of stars.

In Chase Hall, Arts Crawlers became actively involved in a drawing installation by Sol Lewitt, overseen by Professor Seeley of the Philosophy Department. The basic concept behind Sol Lewitt drawings is, since the most crucial part of conceptual artwork is the idea behind it, the actual process of creating the art is perfunctory.

Sol Lewitt wrote lists of instructions for those who wished to play a part in the installation. A crowd of students gathered around the wall drawings and, following the precise yet ambiguous sets of instructions, debated over and participated in partial creation of the artwork. It was a live process of art.

“I think my favorite was the interactive art on the curved wall in Chase Hall,” says junior Zena Sabath.

“My friends and I drew lines from one person’s shoulder to the next person’s knees and from an empty corner into the middle of the page. While Sol Lewitt may contend that the production of art is merely perfunctory, I think everyone who helped produce the drawings in Chase would completely disagree,” said Sabath.

Delicious apple crisp topped with ice cream and bags of warm, buttery popcorn perfectly complemented the event as the crowd made its way to Old Commons, where a variety of performances were taking place.

On the raised stage set up in the hall, one performance involved volunteer dancers who were given unique prompts for dance movements. The wide-ranging and dexterous movements of the dancers were inspired by such prompts as interpreting the lines of their palms through dance, or the relationship between your wrists and your knees.

Particularly amusing was when the dancers were asked to imagine themselves in unusual circumstances in familiar spaces. One participant danced in a way to represent the transition from being a normal sized person on a bed to being a tiny person on a carpet.

Behind the large audience, sophomores Juwon Song and Sarah Ashley Miller oversaw arts and crafts activities, such as mask-making to face-painting, for families. Kids and adults alike waited patiently to have their faces painted and emerged from Chase Hall with brightly colored demonstrations of living, breathing art.

Hot chocolate in the library arcade helped students transition from Chase to Coram Library, where Arts Crawlers could snap photos with friends in a photo booth.

For many, the next stop on the route was the Olin Arts Center, where an impressive range of student work was on display on the first and second floors. Inside one of the studio spaces, two students talked to visitors about their original art.

Isaac Thompson, a Bates junior, stood in front of his mesmerizing sculptures and explained the concept behind them. His metal-framed, irregular cubes improbably projected themselves from the wall and floor. Thompson has been working with the cube to create pieces that he welds together in the Carnegie Physics Lounge.

“I want the audience to see the object as itself,” Thompson explained. His work encourages people to ponder the relationships with space both inside and outside of his work and with the objects around it. Thompson hopes, overall, to communicate an appreciation of simplicity through that of his work.

On the other side of the studio, senior Eleanor Anaclerio exhibited her photographic explorations into the realm of the technique known as camera obscura. She discovered the technique while studying how a camera works. The row of photographs she had on display featured haunting images of shadowy bedrooms overlaid with images of the outside world.

To create these images, Anaclerio completely covered up a room so that it was entirely insulated. She then created a single hole to project a ghost image of the Quad or other environments into the room, thereby making the room itself into a species of camera.

When asked what she hopes to achieve with her work, Anaclerio explained that she is exploring ideas of the personal versus the public, and internal space versus external space.

Up and down the hallways, student artwork from Bates’ broad range of art classes became food for thought as art seekers paused to discuss and ponder. Photography, ceramics, drawings, and paintings made for a rich and diverse display of creativity over which many lingered in appreciation.

“The most distinctive characteristic of Arts Crawl, I thought, was the openness of everything,” observed junior Mariya Manahova. “Artists’ studios were open to viewers, so one could look, touch, and talk about the artist’s work, especially when it was still a work in progress and was very much a part of the artist’s heart and hands.”

Music in the Commons fireplace lounge brought the night alive. Piano players alternated with Chase the Fiddlers before the lounge became a stage for College a cappella groups. The circular room’s excellent acoustics were convenient for the musical performers, who performed for a crowd of fans squishing into the room to see the latest from the a cappella world.

The Arts Crawl is a recently instigated Bates tradition that brings together a community of creative minds and art lovers in the dead of winter. A night of sipping hot chocolate, listening to student artists and musicians, watching dancers, and actively engaging in collaborative art projects has proved once again to be inspiring sustenance for the lively arts scene on campus.

The President’s Pitfalls and Potential

President Obama’s inauguration speech has reinvigorated his liberal base with promises of greater action on climate change, LGBT rights, and a commitment to the progressive paradigm of significant government involvement in society. Immigration reform, tax reform, and gun control are also on the second term agenda. After two years of costly conflict with Congressional Republicans, Obama also emphasized pragmatism stating, “[w]e cannot mistake absolutism for principle” and affirming his own limits as president by acknowledging that “[w]e must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.” An ambitious agenda fraught with pitfalls, but also with potential.

What realities and problems does Obama face in his second term, and how should he address them?

First, it is important to note that Obama did not directly mention his major policy success in his inauguration speech: the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains divisive and 73 percent of Americans believe the law will cost more than projected, according to a poll by Rasmussen. This is not an unfounded fear. Medicare was originally projected to cost $12 billion annually by 1990, but in reality cost $110 billion in 1990. Or, perhaps another reason Obama isn’t promoting the ACA is because 26 states (64% of the U.S. population) are opting out of establishing health insurance exchanges, a key provision in the ACA.

A final reason is that many important provisions are to be implemented in the beginning of 2014 but are burdened with numerous problems. These include: setting up the insurance exchanges (see above), penalties for failing to purchase insurance (set lower than the cost to purchase insurance, expansion of Medicaid in states (optional for states), and the CLASS ACT, a long term care insurance program (repealed by the recent fiscal cliff deal because it was financially unsustainable). To conclude the ACA, the signature piece of legislation of Obama’s first term, is already collapsing under the weight of its own irrationality. Reforms must be made to the Affordable Care Act to make it sustainable.

Second, Obama and many Democrats have failed to acknowledge that the reelection of President Obama, and surprising gains in the Senate, should not be interpreted as a mandate for President Obama’s policy agenda. There is that little problem of the GOP controlling a majority in the House of Representatives. They have as much of a mandate as the President does, so therefore neither party has a mandate.

The Democrats should focus their rhetoric on cooperating and listening to the GOP, something they have ignored whenever possible for the last four years. GOP intransience is a reaction to executive overreach by President Obama and a single-minded approach of Congressional Democrats during Obama’s first two years in office. To be fair, Congressional Republicans could have acted better themselves in some instances; but after the fiscal cliff deal where Republicans have capitulated on everything but the estate tax, and ground-breaking bipartisan reforms of Senate procedure, one cannot make the case that Congressional Republicans are roadblocks to progress.

Third, given the current fiscal situation immigration, gun control, and climate reforms will be difficult to achieve, because fiscal issues will dominate the next few months. The fiscal cliff deal only solved part of the problem, but it delayed the spending cuts until March 1. Also, because the Democratically controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget in four years, the government has been operating off temporary spending bills, known as continuing resolutions, for the past few years. The current one will expire on March 27.

Finally, the debt ceiling is delayed until May after a bipartisan agreement was reached to postpone it for three months. Already, there is significant disagreement with how to solve the problem, Democrats want more revenue, but Republicans insist that enough revenue was passed through the fiscal cliff deal and instead want savings through real entitlement reforms. Given this whole charade is likely to repeat itself how can Congress get a deal on many reforms that Obama’s second term agenda entails?

Fortunately, there is consensus between both parties that immigration is a priority, but not for gun control or climate change. So it is unlikely that any legislation on those two issues will pass Congress. Instead, Obama will likely use, and is already using, his power as chief executive to engage in policy making in both areas. On gun control, he has proposed 23 executive actions, and on climate change there is a push by environmental groups to have the Environmental Protection Agency regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Act. While Obama does have significant executive authority, he should be wary in using it because significant executive actions in the past, like filling several NRLB positions through recess appointments (recently found to be unconstitutional), enrages Republicans and will hinder attempts at compromise on issues like the upcoming second fiscal cliff and immigration reform. Immigration reform actually has a chance of happening. Speaker John Boehner announced there is a bipartisan framework on immigration reform that has been on the works for the past few years.

Obama’s second term, like his first, will be fraught with conflict. But that is politics, and some conflict can certainly be avoided by smart politicking and policymaking. President Obama should recognize that many of his first term policies remain controversial and at times problematic from a policy perspective; he should be open to reforms to his first term policies, especially the Affordable Care Act. Also, Obama should recognize that the Republicans still control the House and they have a probable shot of controlling the Senate after the 2014 midterm elections. An effective President remains above the fray, willing to compromise even at the expense of his own base. Finally, Obama must focus on the problems he is given, not on other problems he wishes to fix. In other words, Obama must drop his emphasis on gun control issues and climate change, a move surely to enrage his own base, but also a move to give him the political space needed to focus on issues where solutions are likely to be found, rather than on divisive issues that will infuriate the very lawmakers he is must work with. Despite the failings of his first term, President Obama is still my President and I believe that he can achieve a lot if has the willpower to follow the merits of his inauguration speech and embrace pragmatism as necessity of governing rather an inconvenience of becoming the next FDR.

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