The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: September 18, 2013 (Page 1 of 3)

Bobcat intern: Megan Lapp ’15

Each week The Student will profile a student who completed a summer internship. This week’s student is Megan Lapp, who spent the summer interning at Altus Marketing and Management in Boston, Massachusetts.

What were the basics of your internship?

Megan Lapp: Well, most days I worked 9-5 Monday through Friday at the office in Boston. Summer is their busy season, and over the course of the summer I worked on seven different events.”

What kind of responsibilities did you have?

ML: I did everything from composing letters to soliciting donations to making phone calls to clients and vendors. As time went on, they definitely trusted me with more responsibility. They’re a small company, so I was really an asset to them. This definitely wasn’t just a “go and get coffee” kind of internship.

How did you end up at Altus?

ML: I heard of the company because one of the founders, Aaron Sells ’01, is a Bates alum. So I checked out their website, applied online in February, and two weeks later they called me for an interview in Boston. It’s honestly not the kind of internship I planned on getting initially, but it ended up being a really great experience.

What was the coolest part of the internship?

ML: Altus deals with a lot of sports stuff, so I got to meet a bunch of local athletes.  I met Shawn Thornton [Boston Bruins forward], Jon Lester [Boston Red Sox pitcher] and Rob Gronkowski [New England Patriots tight end].

Did anything surprise you about the athletes you met?

ML: Yeah, they all had really strong handshakes! My hand was sore. I don’t think they understand their own strength. But also they were all really humble and nice, and they really try to help each other out with their respective charities.”

Were there things you disliked?

ML: Not making any money. But honestly I learned a lot and had a great experience, so it was still worth it.

What did you take away from your internship?

ML: A lot of life skills; dealing with people, conference calls, meetings, problem solving, attention to detail—all of that kind of stuff. I’m really good at talking on the phone now. But I also learned a lot about keeping calm in chaos.

Keeping calm?

ML: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot going on during an event. We hosted an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) charity event one night and things got pretty crazy. But luckily we all had radios so we could freak out to each other without everybody knowing about it. You’re trying to stay cool but over your radio you can hear your co-worker saying, “Oh no… there’s a parent attacking an official…They’re calling in medical staff… His shoulders out of its socket… Oh wait now they’re putting it back in… GROSS!” So stuff gets pretty crazy.

Is this something you can see yourself doing post-Bates?

ML: I don’t know, maybe. I’m not someone who came into Bates with a specific career path in mind. But this is definitely something I could be interested in. That’s part of why internships are so awesome: it’s a no-risk situation to help you figure out what you want to do with your life. That’s pretty cool.

Why Manziel should never change

Essentially since he became the first ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious award, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s actions and character have been under fire from just about every press outlet.

The only reason I can come up with for why the press will not leave Johnny Manziel alone is simply that they are jealous of him. Johnny has it all, and on the field, he has the system gamed.

The lightning-paced, air raid oriented A&M offense perfectly harnesses Manziel’s strengths and allows him to baffle defenses. By flooding the field with receivers, Coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense allows Manziel to use his excellent vision and play recognition to find any open man. His arm strength and accuracy are both outstanding. When the defense drops more men into coverage to compensate, Manziel can utilize his running back-like speed and agility to torch the defense with his legs. He is nearly impossible to sack because of his evasion capability and speed. He is, in other words, nearly unstoppable.

This is precisely why he is the youngest ever Heisman winner, which is truly incredible when you consider how many great college football players there have been. It is also incredible when you factor in how he accomplished this while playing against the toughest defenses in the nation in the SEC (South Eastern Conference).

While his play has been nearly flawless, it is his antics—first off the field, then later on the field—that have drawn so much criticism. After winning his Heisman, Manziel spent the offseason living the life. He golfed with Tiger Woods, showed up in courtside seats to a Mavs game, hung out with Drake, and threw the first pitch at a Rangers game.

Then came the drinking and partying, getting thrown out of the Manning Passing Academy, more tweets of pictures of Manziel drinking, getting thrown out of the Texas frat party in a Tebow jersey, which all culminated in the autograph signing scandal.

The press tore into Manziel for all of these well-documented shenanigans, including a particularly scathing article by Wright Thompson that argued Manziel’s behavior would put his team’s season in jeopardy because of all of the scrutiny. ESPN essentially ran a loop of people criticizing Manziel, and Tom Brady called him a “turd”. The press microscope that Manziel was placed under is virtually unparalleled. Every talking head on TV called on Johnny to correct his behavior, to stop having fun, to just focus on football, or he was bound to come unraveled and lose everything.

But I don’t think Manziel should change anything about how he operates. I think it would be a shame if he did not enjoy the benefits of his extraordinary athletic capabilities. Why not go hang out with celebrities, have fun at parties, and live life to the fullest?

Manziel is not hurting anyone else with these adventures, barring anything that gets him suspended from playing games.

Furthermore, the press seems to be selectively administering their calls for moral rectitude. This is college football, arguably one of the most morally corrupt athletic institutions in the country. Every year, programs commit blatant recruiting violations, players are suspended for drug use, and players are often arrested for violence. Yet the columnists and pundits cannot seem to get over a 20-year old kid who is awesome at everything having a fun summer after winning the Heisman. Why? The only thing that makes sense is that all of these people wish they had what Johnny has.

Johnny Manziel is hands-down the most fun football player to watch. The maverick, outlaw gunslinger has always had a place in the hearts of football fans and Americans in general, especially at quarterback. From John Wayne to Brett Favre, this persona is the most compelling entertainment has to offer.

I think it’s beyond fun to watch while Manziel trash-talks opponents, fakes signs autographs in their faces and points at the scoreboard after lighting said scoreboard up.

Those same critics might see Manziel’s loss to No.1 ranked Alabama this past weekend as proof that they were right. But they aren’t, because Manziel threw for five touchdowns and over 400 yards, and if the voters are impartial to his mannerisms, he will likely win the Heisman again.

Manziel is must-see TV, and I can’t wait for him to win all the games, break all of the rules, drink all of the beers, steal all of the girlfriends, and make millions when he goes to the NFL (where he will succeed). He is not hurting anyone, including himself, by enjoying his life and his gifts, and he should not change his identity to placate the pundits. I hope he never changes, because the ride so far has been so much fun.

Consult the Cat

Dear Bob,

The relationship between my roommate and I is a bit strained. We were really close during orientation, hanging out all the time. But now that classes have started, we don’t get along like we used to. She’s hanging out with a new group of people and doesn’t seem to want to go to Commons with me like we did before. I want to still be good friends with her but I don’t know how to confront her about the situation.




Dear Lost-for-Words,

Relationships between roommates can change over time. When you first arrive on the Bates campus, it can be incredibly overwhelming. More often than not, your roommate is the first person you meet on campus and you both are comforted by having made an instant friend. You go to the orientation events, eat in Commons for all the meals, and watch Netflix in the room together. But once the semester starts, you are exposed to even more new and exciting people in your classes, clubs, and sports teams. It makes sense that you’d make more friends and begin to hang out with them. Your roommate is probably excited to be meeting so many new people, and you should be, too! Sometimes it’s better if roommates don’t hang out all the time so the relationship does not become stagnant. Both of you can be friends with other people but still have fun hanging out when it’s just the two of you. Mention to her that you’d love to hang out this upcoming weekend or get dinner at Commons that night. This way you show her that you like being in her presence and would love to see each other more often.

All the best,


Dear Bob,

After going to the Activities Fair last Wednesday, I realized how many clubs there are on the Bates campus. I wanted to do everything! I signed up for so much but now I’m getting inundated with emails of meetings and events. I can’t do everything I signed up for but I don’t know which ones to stay with and which ones I should drop.

What should I do?



Dear Spread-Too-Thin,

I did the same thing my first year at Bates. There really are so many fun activities to do on campus; it’s hard to pick your favorites! But just because you are interested in an activity, doesn’t mean you have to attend every single meeting and event. Go to stuff when you can and sign up for events that interest you. Your first year is a time to explore your interests! So go on a random hiking trip, be in a One Act play, and write an article for the paper here and there. Your activities should be fun; they shouldn’t be stressful! It’s not until later on that you should start narrowing down you interests into a few activities that truly interest you. Some activities are more time-consuming than others. It’s all based on how much time you’re willing to put towards your activities and away from your academic work. But for now, have some fun, explore, and make some memories!



Dear Bob,

I’m from the sunny state of California and I’m desperately trying to understand this Maine weather. I’m so used to wearing warm clothes all year round that I’m a little stumped by the coolness of autumn here. What are some clothes around campus that are both fashionable and fitting for this climate?



Dear Hot-then-Cold,

Fall is so beautiful in Maine! The trees turn beautiful shades of reds, yellows, and oranges and apple cider returns to Commons. It’s a great time. However, the trees and beverage options are not the only thing that changes here. You’re right, autumn weather can be tricky. But have no fear – here are some fashionable clothing options I see around the Bates campus:

Leggings: These are perfect for fall! They are not as thick and hot as jeans can be and are great to wear with a big sweater and boots.

Combat boots: They bring some edge to your outfit. Wear these with leggings, skinny jeans, or with a lacy dress to get away from the classic summer footwear of flip-flops.

Scarves: Solid or patterned, this accessory can complete any outfit. Wear it with a sweater, t-shirt, or dress to keep you warm when the cool breeze blows on the Quad.

Jean jacket: This is perfect to layer over almost any outfit. Wear it studying or to go out on the weekends. It is fun, fashionable, and fits the fall weather perfectly – not too hot and not too cold.

Hope that helps!

Stay classy,




Men’s golf finishes strongly at Maine State Championship

Bates Men’s Golf bounced back last weekend at the two-day Maine State Men’s Golf Championship at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. Senior captain Garrett Johnson, led the Bobcats to an impressive 5th place finish among a field of 11 talented teams including perennial powerhouse and eventual state champion Husson.

Johnson finished 9th individually among 55 golfers, shooting a 79 in the opening round and improving to a 76 on Sunday giving him his first top-ten finish of the year.

After a disappointing first tournament last week, Johnson’s performance is encouraging to say the least, as he seems to be getting his swing back.

Johnson commented on his recent improvement and said, “I talked to my dad on the phone before the tournament this weekend and he gave me some great advice telling me to ‘just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball.’ I was the ball this weekend.”

Johnson’s hard-work preparing for the tournament throughout the week must have been contagious, as his teammates followed suit and stepped up to the plate this weekend.

First-year standout Brad Rutkin finished tied for 10th place for the weekend after posting two 78s.

As a newcomer to Bates golf, Rutkin has made a strong impression on team manager and super fan Chris Debrase, who noted, “Rutkin crushes the ball. He reminds me of a young Happy Gilmore off the tee.”

With their fantastic performances Johnson and Rutkin have achieved All-State status, the first time two Bates golfers have done so since 2008.

First-year Alex Stekler also played very well in his first collegiate tournament this weekend, following a score of 86 on Saturday with a 77 on Sunday. Junior Garret Bonney finished the scoring for Bates with a two-day score of 174.

According to Bonney, the Bobcats “were sniping all weekend.”  He added, “it was great to put last weekend behind us and play so much better this weekend. The trip to Bangor really helped the team bond and build some chemistry for the rest of the year.”

The Bobcats will travel to Bangor again next weekend for the Husson Invitational Penboscot Valley Country Club in Orono.

Online forums enable parents to pass on adopted children to new families

“Private Re-homing” is probably not a term you’ve heard. It sounds a bit like “re-homing,” the practice of a pet owner finding a new home for their pet. Unfortunately, we are now using that same term for children.

Parents, after encountering problems raising their adoptive children, use the internet to give their adoptive children to new families, are calling the practice, “private re-homing.”

After 18 months of investigative research into the practice, Reuters published “The Child Exchange” which described parents looking to find new homes for their adoptive children using Yahoo bulletin boards and Facebook forums.

Most often these children are adopted from abroad, from countries such as Russia, China, Ethiopia, and Ukraine, and are between 6 and 14 years old. The youngest child put up for “re-homing” was 10 months old.

Parents who use these websites to find new homes and families for their children often call “re-homing” their last choice. They claim that they didn’t have the proper training to adopt a child from abroad, that the children they adopted had emotional and behavioral problems that were not disclosed to them before adoption, and that the adoptive agencies did not offer any aid to the parents when they told the agencies of their difficulties in raising the adoptive child.

The private system of “re-homing” is not regularized. The process is simple. A parent signs a power of attorney form, stating that the child is now under the custody of the new family, and hands the child over to the new family.

Without a background check, parents have no idea who they are signing their child over to. The Reuters investigative report tells the story of Quita, a troubled teenager from Liberia.

The parents of Quita claimed that they could not handle her, and posted an ad on the Internet. In less than two days, they found new parents, Nicole and Calvin Eason, who wanted to take her. Quita’s adoptive parents claimed that the Easons “seemed wonderful.”

What Quita’s adoptive parents didn’t know was that child welfare authorities had taken both of the Eason’s biological children away from them years earlier, that the parents had “severe psychiatric problems as well as violent tendencies,” and that the children the Easons had babysat accused them of sexual abuse. Quita’s adoptive parents signed her over to the Easons without any governmental or adoption officials.

“Private re-homing” does not require a background check and thus can lead to adoptive children being given to new parents who have criminal histories or abusive tendencies. Clearly, “private re-homing” is a horrible practice. But it is also a little known practice, and resultantly, there is only a patchwork of state laws in place. In general, “re-homing” is a “lawless world” as Reuters journalist of “The Child Exchange,” Megan Twohey, calls it.

What needs to be done? The Internet is impossible to control—it’s too big, too massive. But the first step would be to hold Yahoo and Facebook accountable for the information posted on their sites and the content of their forums.

Yahoo, after learning Reuters’ findings, acted quickly, shutting down the bulletin board Adopting-from-Disruption, a six-year old bulletin board on Yahoo that Reuters targeted in their investigative research. Reuters brought five more groups to Yahoo’s attention, which Yahoo consequently took down.

Facebook, on the other hand, refused to take down one of their forums, Way Stations of Love, claiming, “that the Internet is a reflection of society, and people are using it for all kinds of communications and to tackle all sorts of problems, including very complicated issues such as this one.”

But giving your child away to a complete stranger is not a way to tackle a problem. A child is a responsibility you cannot simply throw off.

How can the process be so simple and quick to sign over their children? Parents only need a basic “power of attorney” document. This document is a notarized statement that declares the child to be in the care of another adult.

While this “power of attorney” document offers flexibility for those parents unable to care for the children and allows them to sign their children over to a trusted relative or friend, it is currently being abused through the act of “re-homing.”

“Private re-homing” needs to be regulated and laws need to be put in place to prevent child abuse. Federal law needs to protect these children who are often adopted from abroad and promised a better life in America.

Overseas adoption services need to offer training to parents and counseling during the adoption process. The adoption process is not over when the child is handed to the parent. That’s only the first step in a long process.

And then there are the adoptive parents who adopt children from abroad and run into difficulties with the children they adopt. I can’t help but see their selfishness. Yes, the children may be difficult. But did you not think parenting a child, from another country or not, would be difficult? Did you not think that unforeseen problems would arise? Could you think of no other alternative than giving your child away to a stranger you’ve met on the Internet?

VCS Spotlight: Winding down for the weekend

When vibrations of the four-part harmony fade into the walls of the Mays Center, the lead vocalist from Darlingside looks in to in the compact group of students and says, “You guys have to know, this coffeehouse series is really special. At some schools, there is just nobody that shows up. Or,” he turns to his fellow singers and starts laughing, “It’s just like a snack time. All you hear in the middle of your song is ‘Tuna fish sandwich for JULIA!’ And then everyone just gets up and decides it’s snack time! But you guys,” he pauses, “You guys are great.”

It has become increasingly clear in the last two weeks that Bates Village Club Series is unlike any other college coffeehouse in the northeast. Performers praise the turnout, attentiveness, and spirit of the students who settle into their Mays Center seats with a warm cup of Chai and a cookie (many cookies).

 It isn’t too difficult to be a Bates student on Thursday nights at 9pm, and an hour long, low key concert at the Mays Center is exactly the wind down they need. After a long week of class, students relish the opportunity to be engaged without the stress of knowing you’ll be tested on what you’re listening to.

While Bates students are used to the relaxing and respectful atmosphere at VCS, this coffeehouse series wasn’t as consistent and intimate as it is now until Keith Tannenbaum started in Student Activities.

Tannenbaum reflected on this evolution; “In 1999, the Village Club Series was being handled by a student, or perhaps two, who booked a band or two that he liked for the occasional shows.  They were good events, but just not done with any consistency, and the music was much more specific to those students in charge.  Shortly after that I made the decision to try to make things more consistent, and much more of a series…Over the past 10 years or so we have found that having the shows on a weekly basis, at a consistent time, and with fantastic performers is a formula that works and that students have really appreciated.  Oh, and the coffee, tea, chai, and cookies helps.”

While Tannenbaum is the primary man responsible for turning sporadic concerts in to our much beloved coffeehouse series, there are also student workers behind the scenes. These students come early to the Mays Center each week and prepare the space by setting up lighting and sound equipment. They also have the unique experience of eating dinner with the artists before they perform.

These same students also help pick the acts that come each semester to VCS, and Tannenbaum observes that these students “Are committed to the quality of the series, and that shows up in the success as well.”

 VCS brings in acts in accordance with the budget and coffee-house atmosphere. Within these guidelines, students and Tannenbaum strive to have a well-rounded line-up. Tannenbaum says: “When we go to Hartford in late October/early November we will check out new acts to book for the winter.  We combine those with the returning favorites that people ask for each year and try to put together a good mix of old and new, male and female, solo and band, and different genres to make the series unique each semester.”

These days, unless you’re a devout music blogger, it’s incredibly difficult to be ahead of the trends in the music industry. VCS over the years has excitedly brought artists before their “big break”; however, their success can mean that they don’t return to VCS.

This melancholy cycle started back in 2000 when VCS brought Matt Nathanson to Bates before he became very successful. The same thing happened again when VCS welcomed Javier Colon before he won The Voice. Once a regular, Mr. Colon is now too expensive for the budget.

While consistency is very important to this series, VCS organizers have expanded the acts in the past few years to include one student performed show and one spoken-word performer each semester. This broadening has been well received by students because it doesn’t change the type of energy in the room nor does it alter the type of audience that students need to be.

 No matter the small alterations made in the future, Bates students will always know that VCS is a place where we can go to unwind after a long week of class. In accordance with Bates’ mission, we’re still engaged, but in the most stress free environment imaginable.

Women’s golf edged by Bowdoin in opening match

The Bates women’s golf team had a disappointing opening weekend, travelling to Bowdoin for a match against the Polar Bears at Brunswick Golf Club. The Bobcats lost by an overall score of 357-411 (lowest score wins) on the two-day match.

Bowdoin was able to capture the top three spots in the match, but sophomore Liz LaVerghetta prevented the Polar Bears from sweeping the leaderboard by posting a respectable score of 92 for the weekend. In another bright spot for Bates, first-year Sarah Centanni played quite well in her career debut, scoring an overall 99 and coming in fifth.

Senior Jordan Banez came in eighth, scoring a 110 on the weekend, while sisters Emily and Jess Plotnikov scored 110 and 111, respectively.

A waterlogged and unfamiliar course certainly affected Bates’ play, as torrential downpour toward the end of the week significantly altered conditions. “

The wet course was an obstacle for us on Saturday,” noted team captain Ali Desjardin about the conditions.

“The course layout wasn’t exactly more difficult than Martindale (our home course) but it was definitely more challenging due to all the rain we just had,” commented Banez. “We also really weren’t able to practice as much as we had hoped to because of the thunderstorms, so this weekend at Bowdoin was a good way to ‘get our feet wet’, so to speak, before our tournaments at Middlebury and Williams. There’s definitely room for improvement in the coming weeks.”

This year’s Bates team returns all of its players from last season, giving it sorely needed experience on the course. The Bobcats will expect lower scores next weekend after a crucial week of practice in (hopefully) good conditions.

“The team has improved so much since last year, and to see that improvement has been awesome. All eight of us have been playing consistently, and we are all excited for our upcoming tournament at Mt. Holyoke,” explained Desjardin.

On Friday, Bates women’s golf will travel to Orchards golf course in South Hadley, Mass for the Mount Holyoke Invitational.

Maine’s Becca Carifo ’15 brings beauty and brains to Bates

Fashionista: Becca Carifio

History Major

Scarborough, ME

Becca C. Pic

 Becca Carifio ‘15 is the epitome of a Maine sweetheart.

On a Sunday afternoon, Carifio is sitting in the island situated mid-library, with a wide smile that draws two bright-eyed friends her direction. Wearing a charcoal-hued cotton dress that hugs her toned arms, Carifio is buried beneath a pile of vivid Staples notebooks. A soft aquamarine scarf decorates   her neck. Upon realizing that she needs to recycle a reading, she begins the day by an attempt to scoot to the recycling bin, 4 meters away, in her wheeled desk chair. The scene evokes laughter amongst her two friends, and eventually she moves out of the chair, emitting a slight giggle and walks over to the blue bin.

“Becca is brilliant, friendly, and outgoing,” says Nyle Rioux ‘14. Overwhelmingly humble, this junior is a Dana Scholar and the coveted darling of the Bates history department.

Extremely busy reaching her high standards of academic excellence, Carifio’s approach to fashion is simple, but not simplistic. She chooses low-maintenance pieces that work well with her lifestyle, which involves more nights in the library than she cares to admit.

“I like to combine classic, timeless pieces, like a black dress with something just a little bit different like bright shoes, cowboy boots, or a jean jacket. I would describe my fashion sense as ‘girl-next-door’: comfortable and easy, but still put together… most of the time, anyway, and feminine,” says Carifio.

Carifio’s sweet, all-American look is not out of anyone’s means. Often found perusing the racks at American Eagle and Forever 21, she also enjoys discovering fun finds at Target, TJ Maxx, H&M and Pink.

Becca C. Pic 2This fashionista is always on the prowl for her next style inspiration. Her dorm room is the product of every college girl’s dream Pinterest account. Profound quotes are juxtaposed by pastel colors and floral designs in the many pictures fused to create her wall of inspiration.

“My friends all have amazing style, so they inspire me all the time. Other times, I’ll notice a stranger’s cute outfit, and I’ll make a mental note of it to try for myself later. This summer, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sabrina for the first time, and I just fell in love with Audrey Hepburn’s style, so I’ve been trying to channel her classiness a little more. She and Taylor Swift have influenced me to incorporate some retro elements into my outfits like high-waisted shorts and polka dot dresses. I also think that Emma Watson’s style is flawless – very simple, but very chic as well,” says Carifio.

And sure enough, Emma Watson, clad in a red blazer with severe lines and a sultry smirk, adorns a corner of this fashionista’s wall. The similarities between Watson and Carifio are uncanny: Two elegant, refined collegiate women with a flair for fashion, a dash of endearing goofiness and sharp intellect.

As for her no-fail method to getting ready for class in the morning, Carifio recommends stocking a closet full of dresses that are versatile in the summer and the fail. “I just have to add a sweater and a scarf, and I’m ready to go to class. It’s such an easy way to look put-together when you’re busy. Also, scarves are a must-have! I own an unhealthy number of scarves, and once it gets cold, you will rarely find me without one. They’re practical and add a punch of color to any basic outfit which is especially good for me, since a lot of my clothes are black or gray,” says Carifio.

Her fall staples include a slouchy purple sweater that reminds her of the changing seasons during fall.

Although this fashionista has her A-Game on during September, “My style goes downhill over the course of the semester. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m being featured now and not during finals week,” says Carifio humorously.

The FDA’s homophobic policy on blood donation must be defeated

Yesterday I donated blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive. As long as I’m not sick, I try to donate blood every time the Red Cross comes to Bates. Donating is a virtually painless, quick and easy way to literally save lives – especially since this time there was an “Urgent Need” for blood. Yet even though it’s encouraging to see so many Batesies happily volunteer to give blood and proudly walking around with “I donated” stickers, it makes me uneasy knowing that many people will never be able to feel the satisfaction of donating blood simply because they are gay. Yes that’s right: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules dictate that any man who has had sex with another man at any point since 1977 is banned from donating blood for the rest of his life.

The FDA defends its policy by citing public health risk: “MSM [Men who have Sex with Men] are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion”.

This policy would make somewhat more sense if the FDA were consistent with their attempts at limiting “high risk” groups from donating; but the rules are nowhere as strict for heterosexual males. A straight male could have unprotected sex with a prostitute, share needles while using IV drugs, or have an HIV-positive opposite-sex partner and as long as all of this happened more than a year ago, you can donate all the blood you want. Even if a gay man has been in a monogamous relationship for the past few decades, has never engaged in unprotected sex, or even has only had sex with another man once, he is banned from donating for life.

The FDA website provides some epidemiological statistics to support their policy:
“Men who have had sex with other men represent approximately 2% of the U.S. population…[but] in 2010, MSM accounted for at least 61% of all new HIV infections in the U.S.”
If the FDA is trying to eliminate the groups of highest risk, then why not ban African Americans and Hispanics from donating blood? After all, the rate of new HIV infections is nine times higher in African Americans (69% of all infections) and three times higher in Hispanics (21%) than white people (9%). Or why not ban all black women, for whom HIV prevalence is 18 times higher than white women?

Of course this is a ridiculous notion – potential donors should be assessed for their individual levels of risk rather than the being lumped into a group of “higher than average risk”. Similarly, MSM should not immediately be banned from donating blood. Instead, a more detailed sexual history should be taken into account before deciding whether or not to allow them to donate.

The policy arose decades ago when there was no reliable test for HIV in donated blood. Nowadays, all donated blood is tested thoroughly by two types of assays that detect HIV antibodies and RNA in the blood, but there still remains a four to seven day window after initial infection when HIV will not be detected by these tests. However, the odds of a man with newly acquired HIV donating blood are almost none. The man would have to have had unprotected sex with someone HIV-positive, gotten infected from that encounter, and have lied to the Red Cross about his sexual orientation. And all of that would have to occur only a few days before donation. As a result, only one in two million blood transfusions results in an HIV infection.

Recently, several countries have realized this hypocrisy and have altered their policies for MSM blood donation. In 2011, the U.K. eliminated their lifetime ban for MSM donors and instead changed the policy to apply to men who have engaged in high-risk behaviors over the past year. In 2000, Australia also changed its policy to a 12-month deferral period from the previous five-year ban. A follow-up empirical study by the Australian Red Cross assessed the policy change’s effects on the risk of accidental HIV transmission from receiving infected donor blood. The prevalence of HIV among blood donors five years before the policy change was compared to the prevalence give years after the policy change. The study found “…no evidence that the implementation of the 12-month deferral for male-to-male sex resulted in an increased recipient risk for HIV in Australia.” Instead, the study found that one of the biggest problems was due to people lying about their sexual histories. All five cases of donated HIV-infected blood (out of five million total donations) in the five years after the policy change came from men who did not provide a complete sexual history to the Red Cross and were therefore not deferred from donating blood.

It is important to reiterate that it is the FDA and not the Red Cross that enforces the ban against MSM blood donation. In 2006, the Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers presented a joint position to the FDA in an attempt to change the policy. The main idea of the position was “that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted…” and that the policy on MSM “be modified and made comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections.”

Earlier this year, the American Medical Association also recommended that the policy be changed to one that would consider the donor based on his individual risks rather than his sexual orientation alone. In a statement from the AMA, board member Dr. William Kobler said, “The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science. This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and not based on sexual orientation alone.”

The FDA must listen to these groups and reconsider its policy. The lifetime ban should be switched to the one-year ban as it is in Australia and the United Kingdom. The ban on MSM blood donation is homophobic, ignores the pertinent scientific research, and was founded in a time when accurate HIV detection in blood was not possible. The ban on MSM blood donation only serves to reinforce the horrible stereotypes that gay people are somehow “unclean” or are diseased. One can only imagine the type of situations that this ban leads to. In an article in Slate, Mark Joseph Stern points out that “blood drives are common at offices, universities, sporting events, and other social activities where donors are encouraged to tour their good deed with a button or sticker.”

In these situations, gay men would be left unable to contribute and, if he is in the closet about his sexual orientation, having to think of an excuse as to why he isn’t participating. Stern adds that “it isn’t easy, after all, to explain to a colleague that though you’d like to give blood, the FDA, based solely on your sexuality, has deemed you too likely to be diseased.”

In August, Russian MP Mikhail Degtyarev proposed a new policy to the Federal Assembly that would instate a lifetime ban on MSM blood donation. Degtyarev cites the FDA’s policy as a reason for his attempts to instate the ban. The American people have rightfully been vocal in their opposition to Russia’s anti-gay laws particularly as to how they will apply to the upcoming Winter Olympics. Americans must not limit themselves to defending gay rights in Russia. We must eliminate this obsolete, homophobic policy and show Russia – and the world – that America will not stand for institutionalized homophobia.

Volleyball splits at MIT Invitational

It was an eventful weekend for the Bates women’s volleyball team as they traveled down to Boston for the MIT Invitational. The team had a very strong and successful weekend, going 2-2 in matches against Endicott, MIT, Wellesley, and Simmons. Bates finished the week 3-2 overall, as the Bobcats also downed Husson, and the ‘Cats head into NESCAC play 6-3 overall.

On September 11th in Bangor, the Bobcats took on Husson. It was a dominant performance by the Bates squad as freshman Gabby O’Leary and sophomore Mary Deneen combined for 19 kills which led to an eventual 3-0 (25-15, 25-8, 25-17) victory. The Bobcats used two setters on the day: juniors Miranda Shapiro and Tess Walther combined for 31 assists. Sophomore Nicole Cueli and freshman Hannah Tardie contributed on defense, combining for 20 digs. For the match, the Bobcats hit a .290 in the first set and .348 in the second.

The team next traveled to Cambridge for the MIT Invitational.

In the first match of the invitational, the ‘Cats participated in a nail-bitter against Endicott. The Bobcats won the first two sets, but dropped the next two before finally securing the decisive final set. Walther recorded a double-double with 16 assists and 11 digs while teammate Shapiro also had a double-double with 17 assists and 10 digs. First-year Chandler McGrath added nine kills and six total blocks while fellow first-year Nicole Peraica registered seven kills.

“We played a great match against Endicott,” noted head coach Margo Linton. “Coming from behind 8-11 to win 15-12 in the 5th set,” she added.

The ‘Cats fell to MIT in the second bout of the day, however, (25-16, 25-10, 25-13). Cueli posted 14 digs to lead the Bobcats while Tardie added 13 digs and Deneen contributed 6 kills.

The next day Bates took on Wellesley and Simmons, again going 1-1 on the day. Against Wellesley, co-captains Walther and Shapiro recorded 16 and 10 assists apiece while McGrath had a team-high nine kills. Facing Simmons, Cueli posted a career-high 22 digs to lead the defense while McGrath paced the offense with 12 kills. Co-captains Shapiro and Walther both had outstanding matches, Shapiro posted her second double-double of the tournament with 25 assists and 17 digs while adding five aces while Walther dished out 21 assists of her own.

Linton was pleased with how the team preformed, explaining, “Overall we performed very well. The competition is some of the best in New England.”

Heading into NESCAC play, Deneen believes anything can happen with an improved squad.

“We have the ability to beat a lot of the NESCAC teams this season,” explains Deneen, “We have a young team, but a talented team.” The youth will be put to the test as the team hits the road to Williams on September 20th.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén