The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: March 2014 (Page 1 of 12)

Joshua Macht ’91 shares new tricks of an old company

This semester, the Purposeful Work Initiative and the Entrepreneurship Project Steering Committee have sponsored an entrepreneurship speaker series entitled Purposeful Work: Voices in Entrepreneurship.  Thus far, Bruce Stangle ’70 and Daniel Vannoni ’05 have spoken about their experiences; the first founded the largest private economic consultancy in the world and the second works as a tech-centric serial entrepreneur, despite little technical experience.

On Wednesday, March 19th, Joshua Macht ’91 delivered the third presentation, entitled Old Company, New Tricks: Big Businesses Need Entrepreneurs Too.  Macht has worked as a journalist, publisher and entrepreneur inside some big traditional media companies, from Time Magazine to his current employer, the Harvard Business Review.  Macht spoke to members of the Bates community about the need for innovation even within large established companies and shared experiences to support this idea.

From the start of Macht’s talk, he worked to keep his audience engaged in the material he presented.  He began by asking attendees what their majors were and if any dream of starting their own businesses or becoming writers.  He used this opening to segue into his own time at Bates.  “Wanting to be a writer drove me,” Macht told his audience, describing how he and some classmates started A Journal of Undergraduate Work as a platform for publishing scholarly pieces produced by students.  Macht and his partners imagined the journal might expand to include a host of other schools, but the project only endured for three or four years.  For Macht, he thought that although they had failed, they had tried.  This theme of innovating even with the threat of failure ran constant throughout Macht’s talk.

Although Macht grew up in a print world, once he graduated he found himself surrounded by new emerging technology, including the Internet, which he admits stole his heart immediately.  He projected images of the first webpages, pointing to this visual representation of brand new ideas as the “core of this whole idea of innovation.”  Macht broke the concept of innovation down into two categories.  First, sustaining innovation, the kind that big companies employ to improve upon and perfect products that elite customers are willing to pay for.  Second is the kind of innovation that entrepreneurs employ to find pockets of underserved customers and come up with a product to suit their needs – known as disruptive innovation.

Kodak served as Macht’s example of sustaining innovation.  The company excelled at making great film and cameras that produced high quality photos.  When the digital age came around, Kodak invested billions of dollars and countless hours into developing a great digital camera that would take equally high quality photos.  By the time they rolled out their new product, they had missed the point.  Kodak had misjudged the competition.  People weren’t searching for the perfect digital pictures; they were searching for inexpensive access to photography and ways to share that photography with other people.  Kodak has since gone out of business.

Entrepreneurs don’t work at the painstaking pace of Kodak.  As Macht put it, “entrepreneurs move quickly…they adapt.”  For instance, Herb Keller founded Southwest Airlines in the 1970s, striving to compete with busses instead of the established airlines.  He provided an inexpensive service with few frills, targeting a lower-income group than traditional airlines, and found success.

Macht continued to encourage audience participation as he turned the discussion to Apple.  He asked students to articulate why people like Apple products so much and eventually articulated that, “people don’t like their phones, they love their phones.”  Macht stressed how Apple has successfully emphasized the emotional appeal of their products.

After delivering this mini lesson in business practices, Macht returned to his own experiences in the workplace.  When he began working for Harvard Business Review eight years ago, the magazine had barely changed since its first issue.  He suggested they turn a new page, embracing failure and producing lots of blogs and online posts.  Although his ideas were at first laughed at by some, Macht and his team has succeeded in making the magazine more accessible, resulting in 40,000 copies being bought on newsstands today, 23,000 more than previously.  Additionally, Harvard Business Review’s website now hosts more than four million viewers annually.

Students asked how Macht suggested such change could be implemented at established companies.  How does one politely bring up the idea of innovation?  Macht answered that humility is important.  The most important thing to keep in mind when suggesting change is, in Macht’s words, “showing reverence for what’s gone before you.”  At the core of any push for innovation must lie respect for the tradition of a company and a belief in what that institution does.

Macht’s talk provided a great overview of how entrepreneurship works for those unfamiliar with the idea as well as detailing his personal relationship with innovation within big companies.  Interested students will soon be able to view Macht’s presentation in its entirety on the BCDC webpage.  Additionally, Batesies should keep their eyes out for emails detailing upcoming Purposeful Work: Voices in Entrepreneurship speakers Jennifer Porter ’88, and David Shaw P’00 and Ben Shaw ’00.

Goodbye: A senior’s ode to Bates College

My best friend hates this place. She doesn’t like the weather. She doesn’t like the “city.” She doesn’t like the social scene. She is pretty generally unimpressed. In spite of that, and ironically in large part because of her, I love it here. In fact, I am terrified to leave.

Deciding to attend Bates College was one of the best choices I ever made. As soon as I set foot on campus, during the summer of 2009, I was struck by the feeling that I was home. I wanted to go to Bates because everyone here seemed like they were really nice, and so far, and not necessarily including me, that has proven to be true—we are a campus of smiles. I genuinely hope that this has been, despite all the other flaws this school may have (like GECs and terrible weather, for example), everyone’s experience: that they have been touched by kindness during their time here.

College is a weird thing. It’s a huge adjustment and freshman year can be really hard. I hated it here at first, dreaded having to come back at the end of every break, and didn’t understand what all the hype was about (“college friends are the best friends you’ll ever make”—as if!). But as soon as I started to catch my breath and stop panicking, I realized that my friends were, in fact, pretty incredible, and that I had basically been afforded the opportunity to go to summer camp all year round. Sure, schoolwork can be a burden and Lewiston is not all that scenic, but at what other time in my life am I going to be able to live with all of my friends in one place…for a series of years? I would do anything to be able to stay here just a little bit longer (thank goodness for Short Term, am I right?).

I am so thankful to have gone to school here. I am thankful that as I sit here in the library (which is actually my favorite place on campus—I have a feeling I just lost all credibility in deciding to say that) writing this I can look up and see the faces of so many people that I have grown to love. I’m thankful that I have laughed throughout the vast majority of my time here, and that I never felt any shame in crying, knowing that there would always be a shoulder at my disposal. I am thankful that I have learned that there are always new and exciting people out there to get to know, and that it’s never too late to make new friends (even if they are incredibly cynical). I’m relentlessly thankful that Portland (civilization) is only a short drive away. I’m thankful for events like Gala where I get to see all of my favorite people in the same place at once (its almost as good as being in the library) and have the opportunity to be surprised by the fact that most of them actually look pretty good when they put effort into it. I’m thankful for 80s dance and 90s dance and Halloween and all of the embarrassment and shame that comes along with it. I’m thankful for puddle jump (I’m actually not thankful at all). I’m thankful that I go to a school where everyone is so nice that I was able to decide not to drink alcohol until I turned 21 and never once feel pressured. I’m thankful for the caring professors that I have had the opportunity to work with, and who have challenged me and made me feel worthy. I’m thankful that I am really proud of the person that I have become and that I feel like I have finally developed the sense of confidence that will be necessary of me in order to be successful when I walk away from (am dragged off of) this campus.

Bathroom anxiety: The problems with gender segregation

Constructing social barriers to separate people from each other appears to be a reoccurring theme in human history. We have come a long way though by understanding that no person is to be considered “property,” acknowledging that women deserve just as much of a right to vote as men, and finally beginning to realize that every consenting adult has the right to marry whoever they love, regardless of sexual orientation. It would be preposterous to claim that we live in a society that does not have remnants of social tension. It is time to reconsider something universally applicable in arguably the most vulnerable place known to humankind: the bathroom.

bathroomWhether you are brushing your teeth to glistening perfection, showering away intoxicated regrets, or simply alleviating yourself of a demoniacal meal, taking a few trips to the bathroom on a daily basis is inherent to the well-being of every member of society. Without even thinking about it, people will separate themselves by gender and enter into the bathroom that society has deemed to be acceptable for a particular individual based on the binary notion of gender that has been ingrained within society. The only time this notion of such a rigid barrier is questioned is oftentimes in transsexual/transgender school cases, in which students have to go through a rather cumbersome process to convince their academic institutions that they might have a better sense of their gender than the school does.

Segregated bathrooms inherently imply that gender is binary and that every member of society must fall neatly within one of these pre-established domains. The very fact that there exist so many “cases” in which a student must insist to use the bathroom of their preference implies that society is still not even ready for a person to use a bathroom that they believe corresponds better with their gender. If the country cannot grasp the notion of identifying with a gender that differs from their biological sex then we certainly have a long way to go before we can forgo segregated bathrooms.

The bathroom may be the most vulnerable place every person visits on a daily basis. One of the most popular arguments against having desegregated bathrooms is that many people feel “uncomfortable” with the idea of having members of the opposite sex in the bathroom with them. One of the beauties of restrooms is that they oftentimes feature an exquisite cubicle in which one can privately attend to one’s business without being bothered, regardless of those around them, oftentimes referred to affectionately as the stall. It becomes very difficult to consider the argument of feeling uncomfortable as a legitimate one, given that such logic could also be applied to racial discrimination just as easily by arguing that one feels “uncomfortable” by those around them. The feeling of discomfort is not a license for discrimination.

Once one begins considering the idea of segregation in terms of bathrooms, it begs the question where else people are segregated so uncompromisingly based on gender. It becomes rather difficult to justify this unnecessary separation that the world has so promptly adopted. Much of this stems from the notion that gender is not a vast spectrum. From bathrooms to pronouns to clothing, it seems that society has already determined the gender of each of its constituents.

The issue of segregated bathrooms certainly has not been receiving the attention it deserves. As an aficionado from its roots, Bates College has made dedicated efforts to promote egalitarianism and create a campus of inclusiveness by creating clubs open to all students, promoting coeducation from the very beginning, and by never having any sororities or fraternities. As a college on the forefront of nearly every social issue ranging from abolition of slavery to gay rights, it is unusual for such a progressive campus to not make a more prominent effort to have more desegregated bathrooms. It would be unlike the nature of Bates to fall shy on a matter that so overtly divides people and forces them to pick one of two genders that society has decided are the only ones to exist. This concept strikes at the very principle of inclusiveness and coming together that has truly distinguished Bates for over a hundred years. I think it is very possible for Bates to win this bathroom battle. We just have to push a little harder.

The Hunt broaches the stigmatic world of falsely accused child molestation

In the race for the best foreign film Oscar this year was The Hunt, a little know Danish film from director Thomas Vinterberg that aired in 2013. Although it was beat out in the end by The Great Beauty, The Hunt is certainly not a film to be swept under the rug. Beautiful, dark, haunting and incredibly uncomfortable at times, “The Hunt” is a movie that makes us examine a part of society no one particularly wants to.

The main character, Lucas, is a man who, despite losing both his job and his wife, seems to be making the best of things. As the story begins he has taken a job as a kindergarten teacher working with many of his friends’ children. The kids delight in his presence and adore him for his kindness and playfulness. One girl in particular, Klara, the daughter of his best friend, finds him intriguing and develops a crush on the much older man.

In the United States, we often marginalize the romantic and sexual notions of children. There is a taboo in American culture that dictates a child is not sexualized until after puberty. The reality however is that children, in their curiosity and learning about the world, inevitably touch on smaller and more specific intimate details that involve very mature and intimate sexuality. In Klara’s case she is “jokingly” show a pornographic picture by her brother and his friend who laughingly spirit themselves away. This minute detail, shown in a matter of 5-10 seconds in the film, is the cause of all the horrible things that follow.

When Klara decides to act on her crush on Lucas, by kissing him and giving him a toy heart, he rebuffs her in the way any mature adult would, by trying to explain the inappropriate nature of such actions. Klara becomes very unhappy and in her tribulation she meaninglessly describes a sexual detail of the picture her brother showed her, projecting in unto Lucas. She does so in the presence of the proprietor of the daycare, who begins to extrapolate much from this tiny lie. And without asking Lucas whether or not it even happened, brings in another man to question Klara, to determine the nature and extent of the claimed abuse. Although she denies having said so at first, Klara becomes caught up in her lie which spirals into an accusation so large that it spreads to other students at the kindergarten, who, when pushed by their parents, begin to remember the same details of Lucas’ sexual abuse. They even remember the same paintings, couch and space of Lucas’ basement where all these events happened.

Lucas is arrested and brought to trail, a proceeding we see little of as the film focuses not so much upon the legal aspects of the situation but on the social and societal ramifications for the accused child molester. Lucas loses everything: his new love interest, his son (whom has expressed the wish to live with him full-time), and the vast majority of his friends, excepting one.

The journey to the bottom for Lucas is not a happy one. As he loses everything he faces the atrocities of his furious and disgusted neighbors. His dog turns up dead with a rope around its neck and he faces physical violence even in trying to buy groceries from the local market.

The small, offhand lie from a jilted eight-year-old has completely and unequivocally ruined Lucas’ life. Despite Klara’s efforts to recant her momentary lapse in judgment, her parents convince her that she is suffering from shock and simply does not remember the events.

Vinterberg here has created a situation completed constructed by society and assumption where the ostracization and condemning of one man is built solely upon projections. Masterfully haunting, miserable and completely captivating, The Hunt examines how our society now treats both children and sexuality. Because the film takes an inside look at a hard and usually polarized objective topic it makes the viewer consider the ramifications of such polarity.

As critic Colin Covert said: “You leave The Hunt unsettled in the best sense. Its images and implications are likely to stay in your head a long time.”

Students look forward: revamping the first year orientation program

The college experience can be daunting; First-years move into their room’s with new people, eat meals in a new place, and take classes that are more challenging than high school. Now, upper classmen reflect upon their orientation experiences in a surprised manner, seeing how far they have come from their first few days at Bates College. Bates tries their best to welcome new students with open arms as they leave the familiarity of home. The Orientation program serves as a road map for the for first-years’ initial days at Bates. Whether it is the hours of the package center, or learning about campus security, students begin to develop their college support system during this time.

However, incorporating these valuable talks and information sessions into a few days, while keeping the students interested, is a challenge. “Our freshman year, many people didn’t go to the events. It seems like students are way more engaged now, and the Orientation program is beginning to provide things that they are actually interested in,” said Senior Caroline Daniels. Junior Alyssa Morgosh and Senior Jake Sandor served as the Co-directors of Orientation this year, taking on a large portion of the planning and renovation in conjunction with Dean Holly Gurney. One of their successful programs this year included an off-campus tour of the Lewiston-Auburn area including trips to Range Pond, Sparetime Bowling, Nezinscot Farm, and Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary. This allowed students to acclimate to not only the Bates environment, but also to the resources and activities surrounding it, coinciding with Clayton Spencer and the Administration’s community engagement goals.

In addition to elements like the off-campus tour, the Bates Orientation program received another facelift. Like many of the NESCAC schools, Bates decided to switch to student-lead programs, hoping to create a more engaging environment. This year, the Orientation program introduced Orientation Week Leaders, more affectionately known as OWLs. Next year’s Orientation Co-director, Sophomore Tommy Graziano reported, “Entering students loved that they had the opportunity to meet and ask questions to another upperclass student (in addition to their AESOP leaders and/or JA), and most of them report that they are still acquainted with their OWL on campus!” OWLs take on an important role in First-years introduction to Bates College, picking up where AESOP leaders and fall sports captains left off. Dean Holly Gurney describes what Bates is looking for in an OWL, “If the stereotype of the AESOP leaders is the cool student, then the corollary for the OWLs is that of the “really good folk” who passionately love their college and wish to share that passion with new students.” Orientation Directors received a lot of positive feedback from current First-years. The student-lead style allowed students to form Orientation social groups in addition to their residential First-year Centers (dorm/house floors) with their JA, and AESOP groups. These social network foundations serve as touchstones throughout the academic year.

Alyssa Morgosh and Tommy Graziano are already hard at work planning for Orientation 2014, looking to continue to improve this year’s events, and add some new elements. In particular, the Coordinators discussed the implementation of a “menu-style” Orientation, giving the students a choice of activities between required talks and information sessions. Morgosh states, “Entering students will have breakfast with their OWL and orientation group every morning, and then have the opportunity to attend different events at different times throughout the day…”

A major criticism of the Orientation program that students currently have is the inability for fall athletes to participate in AESOP. AESOP is a precursor to the Orientation program on campus, yet student athletes are already separated from the main body of the class due to their inability to go on trips. The renewal of Bates Orientation is a five-year process, and will look to ameliorate this issue in order to create a more cohesive Orientation that allows the incoming First-years to mingle with all members of their class.  In addition to the whole class Orientation, supplemental resources will continue to be provided for international students, but will not conflict with any of the other programs, a recent change as of Fall 2012. Coordinators and Deans alike are excited for the arrival of the Class of 2018 in the fall to test out all of these new ideas.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street shows the truth behind the glamour

Released on Christmas Day, The Wolf of Wall Street marks director Martin Scorsese’s fifth collaboration with actor Leonardo DiCaprio.  The film is based on true events and is outlined in a memoir of the same name by former stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

Belfort, played by DiCaprio, sets off for Wall Street in New York City with dreams of becoming a successful stockbroker.  There, he is mentored by his boss, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey).  Hanna advises Belfort to delve into drugs, including cocaine and quaaludes, and to engage in plenty of sex in order to cope with the stresses of the industry.

The Wolf of Wall Street challenged every boundary possible in the movie industry,” said Michael Rague of Emmanuel College. “It also showed the audience the excessive lives that people involved in stocks lived at the time. After watching a film, most people would hope that it was a true story; knowing that The Wolf of Wall Street was about a real person’s life made me love it even more.”

Eventually, Belfort joins forces with salesman Donnie Azoff, played bonah Hill, to create their own firm, Stratton Oakmont, which engages in less than reputable behavior.  The firm does well; Belfort’s wealth increases and his life spins out of control as he over-indulges in a life of hedonism.  His world is a constant blur of drugs, sex, and debauchery. (In other words, don’t see this one with your parents, or be prepared for some awkwardness.)  Ultimately, Belfort’s opulent lifestyle leads the FBI to take a closer look at just how Stratton Oakmont is accumulating so much wealth.

The movie has a knock-out cast, which also includes Jean Dujardin, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, and even a cameo by Spike Jonze. DiCaprio holds nothing back with his performance, fully embracing the repulsive characteristics of Belfort, who will do anything for a buck.  Hill’s portrayal is at times humorous, including two drug-filled scenes that generate laughs, while also being mildly disturbing; it is a black comedy, after all.  Robbie, who plays Belfort’s wife, Naomi LaPaglia, adds drama as she futilely attempts to bring her depraved and out-of-control husband back to reality.

The soundtrack is memorable as well.  The Foo Fighters, The Lemonheads, and Billy Joel are just a few of the artists that contributed to the almost sixty songs that provide background music for the movie.  (Although the official soundtrack only features sixteen of them.)

Just a few months ago, DiCaprio gained acclaim as Jay Gatsby in the highly anticipated The Great Gatsby. Before that, he stunned in Django Unchained as 1800’s slave owner Calvin Candie.  Despite these noteworthy performances, DiCaprio has yet to win the much sought-after Academy Award.  Of the twenty-eight films he’s starred in over the past twenty-two years, he has only earned four Oscar nominations and, of course, has always come up empty-handed.  After watching The Wolf of Wall Street, it is obvious that DiCaprio wants that Oscar badly.  He did a stellar job, and earned an Oscar nomination, but once again failed to be recognized by the Academy. DiCaprio did, however, win a Best Actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of Belfort.

The Wolf of Wall Street is enjoyable, but its length – just about three hours – detracts from its appeal.  It does drag on, and at times gets a bit repetitive.

But, as Benjamin Pinette of Endicott College puts it, “Lives like Belfort’s that are full of extravagance can lead to a repetitive lifestyle of overindulgence in substance abuse and spending. The movie reflects that lifestyle.”

This movie is simultaneously funny, serious, and disturbing.  Although it takes a while to get there, the ending is ultimately worth the wait.  I give The Wolf of Wall Street 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Black Cat Lost, Mortality found

After leaving the Black Box Theater on Saturday afternoon, I was a little on edge as to how I felt. I felt uncomfortable about being confronted with the reality of my own mortality. I felt joy about being reminded of the small intricacies of a person’s life that can outweigh the greatest tragedy. I felt confused as to how this piece even connects in a narrative form. Most importantly, I felt this production has done what most pieces of theater could only dream of: it has inspired me to look inward and embrace everything that I feel. These were my feelings after viewing Black Cat Lost this weekend, directed by Max Pendergast ‘15.

Never in my time at Bates have I seen or heard of anything quite like this production, and it’s for that exact reason that I connected with the show so strongly. Coming from someone who is both a frequent performer in theater productions as well as an appreciator of all things theater, I can safely say that this experience was truly unique. Black Cat Lost, written by Erin Courtney, is an auto-biographical collection of literary pieces which reflect her experience with the loss of a loved one.

The play takes on a non-linear format, highlighting both the disarray in form and longing for form that grief brings to its victims. The play has three actors in total, without giving them any sort of name or indication of title. These three actors were Mara Woollard ‘16, Ciaran Walsh ‘15, and Christina Felonis ‘16, who each play a host of various characters as the “play” progresses. Black Cat Lost weaves a series of non-linear vignettes, in which the actors portray stages of accepting death, realizations of mortality, loss, and recognizing their own humanity in between.

The theater itself was also a character to be recognized. Set in the black box, the seats were organized around the perimeter of the room, making the production an “in the round” event. Though seats were very limited, it was this exact choice that made this show even more powerful as an audience member. The small space created an intimate connection each evening with not only the audience and the cast, but the audience in relation to one another as well. Meant to heighten the personal connection one associates with feelings of being, this transcendent piece invites its audience members to not only view the actors on stage, but to become part of the cast by way of its small performance space.

Impressed does not begin to elucidate my feelings about this production. Pendergast deserves the utmost praise for taking such a difficult piece – both in subject matter and in non-conventional form – and making it resonate with audiences all over campus.

Wollard, Walsh, and Felonis also command an exorbitant amount of respect for their performance of the taxing subject matter and difficulties in physically performing. From the vocally taxing screams they emit to provoke the audience, to the physical work they endure to create the scene, this ensemble truly shines in this piece.

Overall, Black Cat Lost was a piece that forced me to do something I don’t do on an everyday basis: it made me think about my own existence as well as the beauty of our collective.

Men’s lacrosse can’t get the game that mattered

After blowing out a Husson team on Wednesday in an absurd contest that was essentially over within minutes, the Bobcats failed once again to grab their first NESCAC victory of the year. The Bobcats rolled over Husson, pouring in 27 goals while allowing none. It was a record setting performance by the far superior squad, but on Saturday against Williams, the offense returned to their previous struggles. Despite solid defense down the stretch, Bates scored just seven goals, their average in NESCAC play thus far, against the visiting Ephs.

men's laxFreshman Kyle Webber got the party started on Saturday, scoring the first goal of the game after a dodge down the right ally and a rip to the top corner. But the Williams defense was able to keep the home team in check, allowing the Ephs to score a couple of their own and close the quarter with a 2-1 advantage. Things started to heat up in the second quarter, as both teams went on runs of their own. Williams went up 4-1, then 5-2 behind goals from Eric Kelley and Andy Grabowski. The Bates’ offense responded and began making the plays the ‘Cats desperately needed to not only keep them in the game, but also in NESCAC contention. Sophomore long stick midfielder Ken O’Friel provided a spark, assisting on a goal to classmate attacker Charlie Hildebrand, and scoring on a feed from fellow classmate defender Colby Spehler. It seemed as though the tide was turning for a Bobcat team that’s been thirsting for their first NESCAC victory. The promising run wouldn’t last long to the surprise of the home crowd, for Williams soon took the lead for good. Just seconds after Bates was able to tie up the game 5-5, Williams kept their composure by scoring on a fast break off the ensuing faceoff. Still, spirits were high on Garcelon after the ‘Cats were able to claw their way back in it, trailing just 6-5 at half.

But after an eight goal second quarter came a one goal third, as Williams was able to grind down a tough Bates’ D to squeeze one in while stopping Bates from reaching the back of the net. Extending the lead to 9-5 in the fourth quarter kept the Ephs comfortable, as the visitors appeared primed to win their fifth straight and move to 3-1 in NESCAC play. When it seemed that all was lost for Bates, a pass from senior Captain Jack Strain led to a finish from sophomore Jack Allard. Soon after, a man up opportunity led to another Webber rip, closing the gap to 9-7 with just under four minutes to play. There was time, and opportunity, but once again Bates came up short. Despite moments of brilliance from a skilled team, it was just too little too late in a winnable contest for the ‘Cats, who now sit at 0-4 in the NESCAC.

Although the Bobcats struggled to put the ball in the net, the Williams defense stands as one of the most formidable in the NESCAC. It was difficult for Bates to get much going on the offensive end, which Strain attested to the Ephs’ ability to deter the hungry Bobcats: “It was a battle. We have to credit their defense and d-middies. They played really well against us.” Bates was also bested in face offs (where they generally have had great success), lost the ground ball battle, and only converted 7 of 37 shots.

Staring down a 0-4 record in the NESCAC, Bates is in a tough place going forward. If there wasn’t a must-win mentality before, you can bet that the ‘Cats are there now, having to essentially win out in the league, which entails beating a powerhouse Tufts team and pulling out W’s against rivals Bowdoin and Colby. Sophomore workhorse Matt Proto, a midfielder who does it all between the restraining lines, isn’t ready to throw in the towel at this point, stating, “We just have to smooth out some rough edges and then we’ll start to see things falling our way.” There is no doubt that this team has the potential to be dangerous in the NESCAC, but the edges have indeed been rough and have lost them games; though they’ve been a bit unlucky, the Bobcats also haven’t quite yet risen to the occasion. Proto speaks for his teammates with his belief in the ability of the team moving forward: “We have talent and the personnel to accomplish great things this season.” Unless they can pull it together at Hamilton on Saturday, Bates’ season may be ending a bit earlier than they had planned. A team that is still trying to find their identity hopes they still have time to ensure that their rough start doesn’t end up defining their season.

Sawubona from Durban!

Durban may be a place that few Americans have heard of, but it is one of the most fascinating places in South Africa. Situated on South Africa’s east coast overlooking the Indian Ocean, Durban is warm all year long and the beaches are perfect for surfing.

I am currently halfway through my study abroad program in Durban, which focuses on social and political transformation. South Africa is currently in the midst of a vibrant election cycle, with the African National Congress (the party of Mandela) attempting to keep its supermajority in government.

Durban specifically differs drastically from the other two major cities in South Africa, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Durban was initially settled by the British and remained in British hands until South Africa became independent in the early 1900’s. As a result, the British brought over Indians to serve indentured servants during the 1800’s and they now form a vibrant minority community. Indians today outnumber whites in Durban and are the innovators of Durban’s signature cuisine, the bunnychow. Bunnychow is a hollowed-out loaf of bread stuffed with your choice of delicious curry and is quite the challenge to eat with your hands.

I currently live in Cato Manor, a former township about four miles from the city center. Cato Manor was originally settled by blacks, but they were forced out of the area during apartheid. Indians were forced to settle here afterwards but since the end of apartheid, blacks have moved back into the area. Blacks in this part of South Africa speak Zulu, which is a fun but challenging language. Out of the 11 official languages in South Africa, Zulu is the most common mother tongue. English is everyone’s second language but only eight percent of South Africans grew up with English as their first language.

Since arriving, I have had the chance to experience a lot of Durban’s history and culuture. I visited Mahatma Gandhi’s house north of the city, where he lived for two decades while fighting for the rights of Indians before returning to lead India’s struggle for independence. Rugby and soccer are the two most popular sports here and I have attended both. Soccer games here are an experience, the crowd is bursting with vuvuzelas and everyone stands and sings for the entire match.

I have also spent some time in the rurual areas north of the city. These areas are beautiful, with lush rolling hills, but face some enormous challenges. HIV infection rates are some of the highest in the world and there is a lack of significant infrastructure in many areas. However, the people are some of the friendliest you will ever meet and my family made me feel at home the entire time I was there.

Two highlights for me was spending time south of Durban on the coast where my fossils are visible and where the movie Blood Diamond was filmed. The fossils found on the coast have also been found in India and Australia and were one of the first pieces of evidence to show that the continents were once all together. I also had the chance to go on a game drive where I saw plenty of rhinos, giraffes, and water buffalo.

In the next few weeks I will be moving into another homestay with an Indian family. I also will be starting my final project, where I will work with an NGO in the informal markets of central Durban which sell everything from curry powder to cow’s head.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my cultural immersion in South Africa and I encourage first-years and sophomores who are thinking about studying abroad to check it out.

Women’s lacrosse loses two straight

After a historically outstanding 6-1 start to the season, Bates women’s lacrosse suffered two tight losses this week, on Wednesday to Endicott by a score of 11-10, and on Saturday to #19 Williams, 6-5.

Following a dominant 17-3 victory at Saint Joseph’s last Monday in which 14 players scored, the #13 Bobcats were confident heading into their home game versus Endicott on Wednesday. The early action was intense, with Endicott opening the scoring before Bates countered on a goal from senior Wally Pierce assisted by sophomore Moriah Greenstein. Bates and Endicott traded the lead for the next several minutes before the Bobcats established a firm 7-4 advantage near the end of the first half, thanks in part to senior defender Cat Dioli’s first career goal. And despite the Gulls notching the first goal of the second half, the Bates women appeared in control of the proceedings, as senior attacker Blair Shrewsbury’s consecutive goals gave the Bobcats a 10-5 lead with 20 minutes remaining. Yet the Bobcats struggled to hold on to their seemingly commanding lead, conceding four successive goals to Endicott over the next 11 minutes. From there, with Bates attempting to regain their grasp on the game, Endicott continued to push and pressure the Bobcats, winning draws and forcing turnovers that led to an assault on star sophomore Hannah Jeffrey’s goal. Jeffrey, who had received the honor of NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Player of the Week two days earlier, was ultimately unable to stymie the aggressive Gulls attack, and conceded the deciding goal on a free-position attempt with 41 seconds left.

Though they competed valiantly at Smith College on Saturday against NESCAC rivals Williams, the Bobcats again fell victim to a flurry of late goals that erased their lead. Jeffrey had a standout performance in defeat, saving 14 Williams shots. Sophomore Kelan McCann also played especially well against Williams, with 2 goals to add to her season total of 8. Again, the Bates women definitely played well enough as a team to deserve a victory, but Williams refused to let them have an easy, coveted NESCAC win, dropping the Bobcats’ conference record to 2-2. Even though Bates led 5-3 late in the contest, Williams was able to score with 2:32 left, then registered two more late goals, including another devastating game winner within the final minute. Greenstein commented on the difficult defeat, “Losing late in the game to a great NESCAC team such as Williams will not define the rest of our season, but rather help us improve and execute in one goal games in the future.”

The Bobcats will have ample opportunity to compete in the NESCAC over the next month, as their five April games are exclusively against NESCAC opponents. First, Bates will host Hamilton on Saturday at noon seeking to quickly halt their first  losing streak of the season.

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