The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: March 20, 2013 (Page 1 of 4)

Damsel swaggers onto the stage this weekend

The Bates Theater Department’s production of The Swaggering Damsel opens in Gannett Theater this weekend. The show’s director is Dr. Matteo Pangallo, Visiting Assistant Professor of English, who sat down with The Bates Student to give Batesies an exciting preview of what is to come.

The Bates Student: What is The Swaggering Damsel about, for those not familiar with the show?

Dr. Matteo Pangallo: Robert Chamberlain’s 1640 comedy is about Sabina (played by Sarah Wainshal, 2016) and Valentine (played by Gunnar Manchester, 2015), who are a young couple in love and engaged to get married. Because he just can’t wait, however, Valentine convinces Sabina to sleep with him before they’re wed; after their night together, however, he fears that she’s sexually promiscuous because she agreed to sleep with him. He therefore resorts to an elaborate plot to try to get out of marrying her, but she comes up with an equally elaborate plot to make sure he sticks to his promise.

TBS: What are you most excited about in this show as its director?

DMP: I think the humor is quite sharp (Chamberlain was, by profession, a joke-book writer), the characters wonderfully ridiculous, and the issues very much of relevance for modern audiences (particularly young people, who might find a few familiar situations in the characters’ predicaments over parental authority, social pressure, and sexual desire).

TBS: As a professor of English, do you think Swag Dam (as it has been affectionately nicknamed) has much to offer in terms of its historical importance in the literary world?

DMP: As a scholar and teacher of early modern drama, I’m especially excited to see this play staged because it’s one of only a handful of plays from the period that were written by audience members rather than professional playwrights, like Shakespeare. These peculiar plays are a kind of early modern “fan fiction” that can tell us how playgoers in the period saw the stage and what they thought about it. Chamberlain, for example, borrows much from Shakespeare (particularly the comedies Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona), but he also seems to lampoon the ridiculous and implausible romantic comedies that were extremely popular in the theaters of the 1620s and 1630s, after Shakespeare’s death.

TBS: What challenges have you and/or the actors faced in the production of this show?

DMP: Developing a command over the language and spirit of an early modern play is always a challenge, especially when it’s a play by someone other than Shakespeare. Most actors and audience members are comfortably familiar with most plays by Shakespeare, but works by other writers from the period can often seem daunting at first. What makes Chamberlain’s play relatively easy to get a handle on in this regard, though, is how remarkably relevant and contemporary many of his insights are about sex, youth, and love–especially young love.

TBS: Since we can’t give too much away in this interview, when and where can we come see The Swaggering Damsel?

DMP: The show goes up in Gannett Theater on Thursday, March 21 and Friday, March 22 at 7:30pm, as well as Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 at 2:00pm. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended because seating is limited. For reservations or more information, people can call 207-786-6161 or visit batestickets.com.

Bates alum gives lecture on the history of graphic design

Where do you find graphic design? Everywhere! Graphic design is as much a part of our daily experience as a commons mug is for a Batesie. We can find graphic design in posters, glossy magazines, textbooks, advertising…the list goes on. Whether in subways, bookstores, or art galleries, graphic design adds its patterns, colors, typography, and images to every generation’s sense of style and appeal.

Brandy Gibbs-Riley, associate professor of design and design history at Colby-Sawyer College gave a talk entitled “Modernist and Contemporary Design” last Thursday on graphic design through the ages.

An alumna Bates from the Class of 1996 and a student of both science and art, Gibbs went on to receive her MFA leading to great success in Boston’s corporate world of design. Soon afterward, she was asked to be an editing curator for the 2011 edition of what is considered to be the Bible of graphic design history, Megg’s History of Graphic Design.

This history of graphic design is an interesting topic and one that people often overlook.

“A lot of people are unaware that it is an academic discipline,” says Gibbs.

Gibbs’s lecture took its audience through a visual journey. The history of graphic design was not even an academic discipline until 1983, explains Gibbs. The term “graphic design” sounds modern and edgy when in fact its early roots can be traced all the way back to prehistoric cave paintings and the invention of writing. For example, in addition to being communicative, hieroglyphs are abstract, pictorial, and very basic examples of early elements of design.

The history of design builds off of each preceding generation as either an evolution of a genre or a reaction against it. For instance, while the Arts and Crafts movement in England was a reaction against the elaborate ornamentation of the Industrial Revolution period, the Vienna Secession School of graphic design borrowed the influence of curvilinear forms from its predecessor, Art Nouveau.

Graphic design has the power to reflect political and cultural trends. Futurism, Cubism, and Surrealism all arose in the early half of the twentieth century and have strong components of technological advancement, war machinery, and the anxieties of the modernizing world.

Russian graphic design in the 1920s and 30s projected a desired self-image with the “healthy body” movement. By portraying Russian citizens as healthy and physically buff, this style of design mounted something close to a political defense of the new communist regime in Russia through the strength of its idealized human forms.

Like great art, graphic design, whether in advertising or elsewhere, has the power of big ideas. It is politically and socially reflective in a uniquely everyday way through posters, type settings, or mass media. With time, much of graphic design becomes a hallmark of the era it was born in and continues to affect pop culture well beyond its visible lifespan. It is iconic.

However, Gibbs pointed out a mantra in the corporate world is “all good design is timeless.” You never know what will be “a la mode” tomorrow. That is something that makes design so exciting and cutting edge in today’s world.

When asked about her interest in graphic design, sophomore Frances Leslie poignantly observed, “I believe graphic design (in every medium) is really an art form about communication; and a powerful, imaginative way of changing the way people look at and think about things. It takes a critical, tasteful mind to create something that draws one’s attention but is also artistic and beautiful to look at.”

 Whatever message or style you want to communicate through your work, there is a rich history to draw from and the help of new computer technologies and designer programs.

“How do you know what will be historically important even a day out?” asks Gibbs.

The lecture was especially fascinating given that Gibbs is a Bates alumna. At the end of the lecture, Gibbs recounted her experience as an undergraduate being torn between a pre-med track and studio art. Her ability to synthesize her education between the lab and the studio propelled her on a career path following graduation that has brought her to a teaching position at a prestigious college. Her success in following both her academic and artistic interests provides an exciting perspective on all the possibilities that a Bates liberal arts education can provide.

Like good graphic design, the liberal arts are timeless.

Rhode Island gal Abby Zwetchkenbaum ’15 incorporates staple solids into her classy and sophisticated wardrobe

abby2As she approaches the big red doors of Alumni Gym, sophomore Abby Zwetchkenbaum shows that she has her own unique style. She contrasts her solid shirt with a pair of cobalt lace shorts layered over her go-to black leggings. Draped in her blanket-like hand-knit scarf, Zwetchkenbaum opens up about her fashion, her favorite color (black), and style inspirations.

Even from a young age, this Batesie has always had an awareness of fashion. Zwetchkenbaum gives credit to her “beautiful, glamorous, and fashionable” grandmother, who would take her shopping when she was young. She would also love changing her outfit over and over again as a source of entertainment.

Zwetchkenbaum’s style has definitely developed as she progressed through high school and her first two years of college. Once she discovered the fashionable yet comfortable article of clothing known as leggings, it is hard for the Bobcat to regress back to her jean-wearing days.

“Since that discovery I have chosen leggings with shorts, a skirt, or a dress over pants any day! A lot of my friends joke that they have never seen me in non-athletic pants,” says Zwetchkenbaum.

At this point, Zwetchkenbaum feels that fashion does come easy to her. She has developed a good sense of what she will wear which makes buying clothes a lot easier. Her wardrobe is filled with a lot of “staples” and “basics” that allow her to play around and pair with brighter and colorful dresses, skirts, and shorts.

“I am mostly drawn to neutral and dark colors and solids,” states Zwetchkenbaum. “I also wear a lot of black – it’s my favorite color to wear!”

This fashionista loves dressing the way she does for the love of experimentation. She enjoys having fun with clothes yet also being comfortable. Her grandmother always said she was so “put together” so she tries to incorporate this sense of style into her everyday attire.

Aside from her grandmother being the catalyst for her fashion, Zwetchkenbaum finds fashion inspiration in the media as well. She admirers Zooey Deschanel’s pretty and classy style, especially in 500 Days of Summer. Zwetchkenbaum also loves the costumes in the outrageous movie Down with Love and secretly wishes that was how everyone dressed in real life.abby1

This Batesie’s favorite fashion accessories are knit hats and scarves. Her favorite is her enormous scarf she knitted her senior year of high school. After seeing a picture in a magazine of a woman swaddled in a huge scarf, Zwetchkenbaum was inspired to make one herself. This 1.25-by-10-feet, warm, and cozy accessory is this Bobcat’s fashion go-to. She also loves her short, worn-leather ankle boots (or Chelsea Boots) that she wears all the time with wool or fun patterned socks.

Zwetchkenbaum buys many of her staples and basics at H&M, as well as at boutiques and specialty stores in her home state of Rhode Island.

Zwetchkenbaum is sure that her fashion will evolve as she grows older, especially in the various silhouettes and styles that she wears.

However, in terms of color palette, “I think my eye will always be more drawn to the same darker colors and solids I’ve always loved,” states Zwetchkenbaum.

Zwetchkenbaum’s style is ever evident as she strolls through campus leading Admissions tours and in Robinson Player theater productions throughout the year.

Why Bates needs a computer science department

Let me first grab your attention by saying that, of the eleven schools currently in the NESCAC, Bates is the sole institution that does not offer its students a degree in computer science.  Now obviously that does not constitute an argument of why we should adopt a program of our own, but it is certainly a striking statistic that speaks to the ubiquity of computer science in academia, even at liberal arts colleges.

It may seem counterintuitive to be talking about a liberal arts school offering what seems to be a technical degree.  Therefore, it is important to first acknowledge what is meant by “computer science” and then to examine how that definition can fit into a liberal arts community such as our own.

In a paper published by the Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium in 2007, computer science is defined simply as the study of algorithms and data structures, with specific focus given to their syntax, semantics, interaction with computer hardware and real world application. Though seemingly technical, this definition can actually fit neatly within the confines of a traditional liberal arts curriculum.  Bates, as with most liberal arts institutions, emphasizes problem solving, analytical skills and communication while avoiding the transient technical skills that may be taught in a pre-professional program.

If we think about these values in the context of a computer science degree, it is not hard to see that the study of algorithms and their application towards effectively processing, analyzing, and communicating of data is a continuation of many of the entrenched values of Bates.  I would argue that the logical thinking process born through the study of applied computer science is as essential a tool to a critical thinker as are any of the tools acquired via the study of the humanities.  In fact, many of the proposed curricula for liberal arts degrees in computer science take an integrative approach to the subject, with only 40% of the program being attributed to computer science or mathematic specific coursework.  This leaves a considerable portion of a student’s time available for the exploration of other subjects and the development of a contextual framework in which the student can apply his/her acquired skills.

The utility of a computer science department at Bates would reach far beyond those students who intend to be majors.  The positive impact on non-majors would be vast and could possibly be the greatest benefit of a program.  In today’s increasingly computer driven world, the ability to not only understand, but to also interface with and wield the extraordinary power of modern technology is essential.  This necessity has prompted prominent technology and industry leaders to promote programming accessibility to not only college students, but to all high school students!  If you are reading this and thinking to yourself that your area of study does not require this level of computing, I would encourage you to think again.

As the functionality and accessibility of computer programming is increasing, the areas of academia that are able to utilize these powerful tools are also growing.  While the more traditionally technical departments, such as engineering, mathematics and physics, continue to utilize computer science, other areas such as biology, chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, economics and even the arts are turning towards computers to facilitate their work.  As the research questions being asked and the topics explored become increasingly more intricate, it is not uncommon for researchers and academics to create their own programs rather than to wait for the mainstream software industry to catch up to their needs.

Currently, Bates does offer two courses related to computer science, though their scheduling could be considered erratic at best.  The two options are a short term programming course, offered through the geology department, which aims to teach the fundamentals of the C++ programming language. The other is a mathematics department elective, “Dynamical Systems and Computer Science,” based off of the outdated visual basic language.  In either case, the curriculum falls short at providing any in depth study in the field.

In terms of feasibility, the introduction of a computer science department does not seem to be an impossible undertaking.  The average NESCAC college (excluding Tufts), employs approximately five faculty in their computer science departments, much less than many of already established departments here at Bates.  Additionally, the overlap between the mathematics and physics departments would only strengthen all three programs.

As this year’s class of graduating seniors enter the workforce, it is becoming more common to see computer skills beyond the scope of basic word processing and excel listed as desirable or even necessary.  This is increasingly the case for jobs across all disciplines.  By not offering its students at least an option to pursue some level of proficiency in computer science, Bates is limiting the potential of its graduates and we are failing to keep pace with our fellow NESCAC schools that we so often compare ourselves to.

Foraging for more at Forage Market

IMG_1850Picture a cross between a Parisian cafe and an Italian bread bakery emitting homey aromas of American Thanksgivings. This is the bliss that waits at Forage Market, one of Lewiston’s newest and most premier eateries, with a charming woodsy interior that seems to magically erase college students’ stress.

Forage, located in the heart of Lewiston on Lisbon Street, opened last year and has since become a bustling breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot. Friday lunch time and afternoons at Forage fill up with families, friend groups, professors, and an increasing number of Batesies.

“It feels like we’ve had more and more Bates students coming in, like the word is getting around,” says Cody LaMontagne, one of Forage’s owners.

The word should certainly get around even more, because the food at Forage is, quite simply, amazing. Sandwiches come on house-made breads such as ciabatta, focaccia, and seven-grain that the Forage workers bake in their impressive wood-fire brick oven. Fortunately, slices of the mouthwatering bread come with the menu’s soups, too.

The sandwiches and soups have henceforth remained anonymous because the menu at Forage changes every day. The geniuses behind the counter rotate items on and off the menu almost as rapidly and as skillfully as they rotate ciabatta loaves in and out of the brick oven; there is a new, unique menu for each week.

Although one might occasionally lament at the disappearance of a delicious sandwich, the rotating menu fits well with the Market’s mission to provide “seasonally inspired” food.

“We try to pay attention to things people really like, but the rotating menu helps us stay creative and use what’s in season,” LaMontagne explains.

On a Friday, for example, you could be choosing between roasted artichoke and basil soup and a curried sweet corn and carrot soup, but on the following Thursday they will be replaced by a tomato and roasted red pepper soup and a spicy kielbasa and kale soup. Springy sandwiches such as chicken salad with spinach and sundried tomato and the Mediterranean ham sandwich eventually go into hibernation when options like the roasted sweet potato sandwich and the creative “I Can’t Wait for Thanksgiving” sandwich take over in the fall.

Though the menu changes, its excellent quality does not. The soups and sandwiches, colorful epigraphs on the chalkboard menu, always sound delicious and taste even better. The roasted artichoke and basil soup was creamy and sweet, hearty yet light, and refreshingly evocative of spring; while the curried sweet corn and carrot proved a prime example of autumnal-style soup. The accompanying slices of homemade bread completed the comfort food image.

Constancy at Forage is found in the form of bagels and pastries. The omnipotent brick oven elevates the former to haute bagel cuisine, as do the sweet and savory cream cheese flavors. Pastries include scones (sometimes blueberry, sometimes candied orange), Jewish rugelach, croissants (plain, almond, and chocolate), biscotti (chocolate-almond and candied orange-pistachio), and fruit turnovers. (Hint: a cup of chai or one of the creative latte flavors make any pastry five times better.)

The bagels and pastries are available daily, but there are also rotating breakfast sandwiches for morning frequenters and brunch specials on the weekends. The breakfast sandwiches are usually savory, often involving local eggs, whereas some brunch specials such as waffle and crepe dishes occupy the sweet side of the breakfast taste bud spectrum.

If Forage has any shortcomings, it is that one often wishes there were more options day to day. The two sandwiches and two soups on the chalkboard embody a culinary talent that one wants to see wield its creative abilities even more, although admittedly, choosing between the four items is already a difficult task.

Thankfully, there are no shortcomings in prices. Sandwiches are mostly around $8, which is reasonable for how big they are. Soup prices depend on size, but a medium (8 oz.) soup bowl with bread and a drink came to only $6.

It is also impressive how Forage encompasses flavors and combinations reminiscent of various world cuisines. Last week’s menu featured a falafel sandwich with Greek tzatziki (even better, Maine blueberry-cilantro tzatziki) on a Mediterranean-inspired Monday, an Italian-style polenta caprese sandwich on Tuesday, and good old American BLTs and pulled pork sandwiches later in the week. Forage also pays attention to vegetarianism with style and adept taste buds.

“My newest favorite thing is our house-made quinoa veggie burgers,” says LaMontagne. “We make them from scratch every week.”

Most recently, it was topped with queso de freier, arugula, and house-made romesco sauce on ciabatta. There have also been a tempeh version of the chicken salad sandwich and, on BLT days, “fakin’ bacon” LTs.

The shape-shifting menu made prompting a favorite menu item out of the co-owner a challenge, but an understandable and amusing one–the changing routine is beneficial to Forage’s vibrant character.

“We don’t always have a baseline [for the menu], so it’s really exciting when it comes together. Every time we make something new, we get really excited,” LaMontagne says with an enthusiastic spark.

Eventually she realizes, “My favorite, favorite dinner item is our pulled-pork enchiladas. We make the enchilada sauce from scratch; every time I make it I want to take it home.”

They deserve to toot their own horn.

 

 

Progress at a glacial pace

This week, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) “came out” in support of gay marriage and gay rights, revealing that his own son came out as gay to him and his wife only a few years ago. The response from Portman’s own party has been overwhelmingly mixed, but in general, this is indicative of a great trend in this country.

Portman writes of his shift in his op-ed, “[M]y position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.”

It was only a few months ago that this very state, Maine, became one of the first states to ratify gay marriage by popular vote, and still, on a federal level, there still isn’t legal recognition for same-sex couples. Change is coming, but it is moving at a glacial pace.

But, what of the Senator’s published sentiments? His revelation is based wholly upon the fact that this issue now affects his family directly. He was more than happy to be a gay marriage detractor as long as it had no bearing on his own life, happy to deny a certain percentage of the population the rights that he himself enjoys, but only as long as it doesn’t affect his family. Now, though, the tables have turned, so to speak, as it does affect his family, and that is why he now supports rights for gay couples.

That’s not the point, though. Sure, his motives may be questionable at best, but often enough in history the motives of the radicals have been morally dubious. Abolitionists acting for God, or white guilt, and not necessarily the people they were trying to free. However, the result is the same. If the methods are questionable, but the outcomes the same, is it really any matter how we get there? Yes and no, but the important part as that the result, in this case, is favorable.

Portman even takes a different view on the marriage issue, “One way to look at it is that gay couples’ desire to marry doesn’t amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution.” His admission is one of the fundamental shifts that detractors need to understand. Wanting to marry is not an issue of trying to destroy the “institution.” It is a testament to its importance.

Even though I don’t approve of the way that the Senator arrived at his decision, I do applaud the fact that he arrived there. In a party that overwhelmingly shuns the idea of progress, this, I hope, will become a positive trend.

We can’t always force people to see the light, and indeed, as much as I am loathe to admit, we shouldn’t. If you read my column on a regular basis I often advocate for broad and sweeping reforms, often in the face of popular sentiment. Often enough, these ideas are undoubtedly beneficial, but if no one is ready for them, then why should we force them on the people? The answer is that we shouldn’t.

Gun control is an important issue, and it needs to be urgently addressed, but if over half of the population thinks the government is trying to take their guns, then we’re not going to get sweeping change.

A shift to green and clean energies is necessary for a healthy and secure future, but if we can’t yet convince people of their necessity, then there’s no reason to try and get people to use them.

As much as we’d like to reform overnight, the unfortunate truth is that, like evolution, change is gradual.

The best outcome for this whole ordeal is that we might start to see some of the other Republicans understand that this isn’t about rights for a small portion of the population, but rather it’s really about rights for all. If we start to deny rights to some, then it becomes easier to usurp the rights of others.

In his op-ed, Senator Portman writes, “The process of citizens persuading fellow citizens is how consensus is built and enduring change is forged.” This is the foundation of his argument, and this is what I’ve been missing in these recent years. As the old adage goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I believe this is what we, as liberal members of society, have to realize. There’s no point in trying to force ideas on people who aren’t ready for it. The best we can do is to make a solid and wide-reaching argument and hope that it lights a spark in the minds of the people.

Inside Africa Fashion Show explores the diversity of African dress

IMG_0567Last Friday, the Africana Club hosted its second annual Inside Africa Fashion Show. The event highlighted various art forms from the African continent, including a Swahili song, a Ghanaian Azonto dance, and fashions from over ten African countries.

Bates students served as the models for the undoubtedly beautiful pieces of clothing. A lively audience cheered for the models’ impressive catwalk skills while taking pictures of favorite ensembles. The relaxed atmosphere allowed the audience to be actively engaged in the show, thus ensuring that the event was fun for everyone involved.

Sophomore Alex Bolden, the show’s master of ceremonies, provided an informative commentary of the features that characterize each country’s clothing.

In Senegal, for example, hand-woven and hand-died garments are reserved for the most special occasions. The colors and designs of Ethiopian clothing represent the geographic region in which pieces have been crafted. Garments from southern Kenya are accompanied by decorative jewelry and beading. People in Somalia wear diracs to evening dinners and weddings. Also on display were fashions from Togo, Swaziland, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana, each with its own fascinating story.

Bolden challenged the audience to discern which aspects of African clothing have been incorporated into Western fashions. During the fashion show, first-year Emma Davies perceived one such example of cross-cultural similarity.

“Clothing from Ghana shares similar silhouettes to those represented in Western fashions, but the patterns are so much more interesting,” she said.

In fact, the last segment of the show displayed examples of American clothing that have been influenced by African fashions. It should be noted, however, that not all Western attempts to incorporate African fashion have been benign. Popular American designers like Michael Kors have created collections with undertones that are somewhat stereotypically “tribal” and simplistic.

One of the most important lessons of the show, therefore, lies in the importance of eschewing such simplistic generalizations about Africa. To audience members, it became obvious that each country has its own distinct, beautiful fashions.

Sophomore Jessica Clergeau emphasized this point when describing her experience as a model in the show.

“Some people may conjure stereotypes of what ‘Africans’ wear without taking into consideration the fact that Africa is a continent with many countries. Each country has its own way of expression and dress. By modeling, I was able to display a different emotion through each of my six outfits.”

The Bates community can only hope that the Inside Africa Fashion Show will continue for many years to come, as it is a testament to the ideals of diversity and inclusion on which Bates prides itself. Congratulations to the Africana Club for its wonderful show.

Hot, hot Heat and the winning streak’s place in history

Despite Sportcenter’s perpetual attempts to jinx them (along with the rest of the world), LeBron James and the defending champion Miami Heat continue to amaze everyone by extending their absurd winning streak. The streak is currently at 23 games after their win over the Celtics on Monday night. This streak marks the second longest in NBA history, subordinate only to the 33 games of the 1970-1971 Los Angeles Lakers.

In an era where parity is coming to pervade in each of the major American sports, the Miami Heat have a real chance to separate themselves from the pack and achieve greatness.

First of all, the Heat have a legitimate chance at winning the rest of their games and setting a new NBA record. In their remaining 16 games, only the Bulls, Spurs, and Knicks (just because I love them) seem to stand a realistic chance at knocking Miami off. While no game is a given win in today’s league, we might be able to make an exception for this Miami team.

And here’s why:

LeBron James has the system gamed. He is playing some of the best basketball that humanity has ever seen. Every facet of his game is exceptional, and he knows how to put it all together in order to win. Jump shooting has become a strength for James this year, shooting 55% from the field and 39% from three-point range. He can create space for his own shot, drive past any defender using his size and speed, or find the open man for the open three or easy layup if he is double-teamed. He always makes the right basketball decision when the ball is in his hands, and he can be an outstanding defender at all five positions. And he leads his team in assists and rebounds. A more perfect basketball player could hardly be conceived of, and he is surrounded by the best role players in the league in Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Ray Allen.

The dynamic of scoring and superb defense created by James and his entourage is why Miami is a good team. But we all know that simply being good isn’t enough; that much was made abundantly clear by the infamous “Decision” and the pre-season party the Heat put on after acquiring James, Wade, and Bosh. They already have one ring as a group; what will truly mark the Heat as a great team is if they can sustain this run they are on.

Winning 23 straight games is beyond impressive. The Heat have also defeated just about every good team in the league on their way to 23 games. They haven’t taken a single play off during this run, always searching for the easy buckets in transition (which usually end up on top plays), and always, always, hounding and hustling on defense.

Miami probably won’t win the rest of their games this season, but I wouldn’t bet against them. It is incredibly refreshing to see a team like this, a team loaded with talent that doesn’t take anything for granted and pours its heart out on the court every game.

Moreover, the Heat aren’t just winning games, they are winning public opinion over. Easily the most hated team in America after James joined, the Heat have since ceased to be talked about as villains, but as winners. While the logic behind this shift escapes me (maybe we just got tired of hating them), it will go a long way towards shaping this Heat team’s place in history.

The public perception of the Heat has also been helped by the failure of comparable “super-teams”, such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Los Angeles Lakers. Having a collection of talent does not equate to winning; it takes much more than that.

Even without setting the winning streak mark, although that would help, the Heat have a legitimate opportunity to become seen as one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Yes, the Heat are playing that well. If they keep going like this, dominating night in, and night out, and carry this through to another championship like everyone expects them to, then they will enter the realm of greatness. Again, sustaining this level of play is the key, but the Heat have somehow gotten better every week since James and Bosh came.

Few of us are old enough to remember, but this Heat team is playing the way that Jordan and the Bulls did in the mid-1990’s. It is too premature to equate Miami with the greatness of Jordan’s Bulls, but that is the level of play they are on right now.

It will soon be time for all observers to recognize that that is how good this Heat team is, and we are all lucky to be able to watch them on this ascent.

Short Term needs to be revamped

On the Bates website, Short Term is defined as, “An unusual opportunity for a variety of educational programs, frequently off campus, that cannot be offered in the regular semesters.”  There is copious mention of all the programs that do not take place at Bates, and no mention of the majority of Short Term courses that function as regular classes on campus during the entire five week period.

While Bates does offer a variety of off campus programs throughout Short Term, the on campus Short Term programs include offerings like Decoding Disney, analyzing “The Wire”, and Medieval Re-enactment.

Courses like these perpetuate the stereotype of Short Term as a time where students can slack off and drink heavily. I am not arguing that Bates needs to get rid of Short Term. There are a lot of unique academic offerings off campus that cannot be replicated during the semester, such as the class that is taking a two week trip to Turkey. What Bates needs to do is keep the off-campus learning component of short term while emphasizing career development and community engagement.

Implementing a required sophomore/junior year class focusing on career preparation within every major is a novel step that can improve Short Term.  Bringing in recent graduates who were majors and employers that relate to the major can be a crucial first step for students who have no idea how to answer the question, “What do you plan on doing with that degree?”

Combing the career preparation with some academic work relating to future employment is a much better way to spend a Short Term than taking a class that students regard as a joke.  Offering more internship programs during Short Term in the Lewiston-Auburn area is a great way to prepare students for life after Bates while offering high quality talent to local businesses.

In addition to the career preparation aspect of Short Term, there needs to be a greater emphasis on community involvement.  Instead of requiring seniors to be employed on campus if they have reached their maximum amount of short term credits, Bates should instead require seniors to work directly with a local nonprofit.

Pursuing academic knowledge for the sake of learning is important and a crucial part of a Bates education.  However, not every student at Bates is going to pursue a doctorate or professional degree in their field and become a professor.  The most engaged group of alumni are those in their twenties who have recently graduated, and having more graduates working in fields that relate to their major reflects positively on Bates.  It also helps to have graduates working and making money because highly engaged recent graduates are more likely to contribute to The Bates Fund and other fundraising efforts.

I do not think that classes like “The Wire” or Decoding Disney are not important.  There is academic value to the classes like “The Wire”, as analyzing urban sociopolitical themes is a topic that is valuable in understanding the world we live in.  However, a class like that does not need the specific five-week intensive period to achieve its goals.  A trip to Turkey or an intensive internship cannot happen in Bates’ current academic calendar during a regular semester.

Bates could market Short Term to prospective students as a time where career skills are built, community service is emphasized, and there are opportunities to study off campus.  More importantly, parents of students looking to justify their decision to drop $55,000+ on a school like Bates now have something unique to judge Bates against comparable schools like Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Colby.

During summer job interviews, Short Term often comes up as a reason why students will not be able to start summer jobs or internships until Memorial Day.  There needs to be a better justification for Bates to potentially hurt summer employment for students other than pursuing academic enlightenment.  Giving students the option to engage in unique off campus learning, career preparation, or community service is a better way to spend the last five weeks of the year instead of sitting in a classroom reading about Foucault.

The Meat Market: The glamorous world of fashion modeling

I was inspired to write this article after attending the on-campus premiere of the documentary Girl Model. The film follows the life of a small town Russian girl called Nadya, then aged 13, who wins a chance to go to Tokyo by contract to model. The film narrates the dangers, the lies, and the difficulties faced by such young girls dumped in a big city looking to start a modeling career as well as the line that blurs with prostitution.

When we think of modeling we think of Gisele Bündchen making millions for a few seconds on the runway, the glitz and glamor, the adulation, the high class connections and the physical perfection; an almost god-like state of being. Then here come shows like America’s Next Top Model and its international incarnations, The Face and even the Miss Universe pageant that allure girls all over the world.

In the world of modeling, as in acting, it is only the very few who make it that are overhyped to give the impression that anyone can be a model so long as you are thin enough. But for every Heidi Klum, Naomi and Adriana Lima there are thousands of exploited girls who never go far and end up wasting their time chasing fantasies; assuming they were lucky enough to walk away from the business with only wasted time.

Some of the hazards of modeling are obvious: the body image issues, the shallowness, the eating disorders, the overvaluation of youth that leads to a fear of aging (gerascophobia), the early sexualization of young girls and unattainable standards of beauty.

The reality of the industry is that girls get rejected so often that most careers never take off. If they are lucky to find work after rigorous casting calls and painful, shallow criticism, they are sardine-canned together in small modeling apartments starving themselves. The pay is usually very low for most. Fashion is so unpredictable and it changes so seasonally that some models eventually are weeded out with the change. “Beauty is also submitted to the taste of time, so a beautiful woman from the Belle Epoch is not exactly the perfect beauty of today, so beauty is something that changes with time,” says Karl Lagerfeld.

The hypocrisy of the industry is rather astounding. I remember watching an episode of Scouted where two aspiring models were taken to New York to be tested and judged. The very woman criticizing an otherwise beautiful girl’s eyebrows was overweight and unattractive herself. I even recall looking at the women that line up the front rows of fashion shows and thinking “They judge?” Of course some people have an eye for physical beauty even when they do not possess such traits themselves and their opinion may be very valid; that is called talent. But in a lot of cases some people take pleasure in staying in a position of power where they can jab others for qualities that they themselves lack.

As discussed in the documentary, for a lot of girls at the very bottom of the food chain who struggle and do not make it eventually translate the use of their bodies as art for money into sex for money. In the HBO film Gia, a biographical drama on the life of the “first” supermodel, Gia Carangi, even the girls that make it all the way to the top and have it all eventually deal with the fast crowd they run with by taking drugs. It was heroin that eventually destroyed Gia when she acquired AIDS in the 80s through an infected needle.

Considering how few models of color succeed it is also right to think that non-Caucasian women stand far less chance of making it. Off the top of my head I can only think of Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Imam as successful black women who made it. I do not even know any Asian or Indian models that made it as big as that. After speaking to the directors of the documentary, they made it known that even the Japanese market does not have a taste for Japanese girls; they prefer the blue eyed, blondes they bring in from Russia. Naomi’s fashion representative Carole White said once in an interview for the Daily Mail “[In Paris and Milan], they absolutely don’t want black girls. A black model has to be a real star before you can take her there. They only take a black girl when the biz is buzzing about her.”

In the end girls of all types flock for a chance to make some quick money on the meat market world of fashion. It will never stop even though many people know the reality of the business. We had just completed our very own Africana Fashion Show where Nicole Kay accepted girls of all shapes, heights and ethnicities who wanted to be a part of it. If only catwalks around the world could be more like that.

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