The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: September 2014 (Page 1 of 7)

[Announce]: Announce is dead

The [announce] system was originally implemented in the mid- 1990s to broadcast a tragedy; that a Bates student had passed away. This is the sort of information that ought to be disseminated to the school community quickly, effectively, and thoroughly. It is the type of information that concerns each and every member of the Bates community. It is the type of information that legitimately ought to be included in the [Announce] model.

The issue with the [announce] system is that it is so disorganized and overused that it has become entirely ineffective. It is abused to the point that it no longer fulfills its very necessary duty. And, unfortunately, it has become problematic enough so as to no longer be a true solution.

The purpose of the [announce] system, in its earliest iteration, was to inform the Bates community of immediate, imperative issues. The system, in its current iteration, does indeed fulfill this purpose on occasion, but it is also used to broadcast information that only concerns smaller sects within the greater Bates community. This is a clear misuse of its original intent. Below is a brief list, chosen at random, of [announce] email subject lines currently sitting in my inbox.

[Announce] Room Change: German Club General Interest Meeting.

[Announce] Circus Club Training Tonight.

[Announce] A.A.S.I.A. Sushi Night…Postponed.

These emails do not concern me. While I may love sushi, I have never signed up for A.A.S.I.A., or the German Club. And while I think it’s hilarious that there is actual circus training occurring on the Bates campus, you won’t see me playing a clown or juggling balls of fire while walking a tightrope any time soon.

Roughly 30 [announce] emails are sent daily; sometimes fewer, sometimes more. I’d say that, on average, 3 to 4 of these emails concern me in some way. However, these all too frequently get lost in the mix. If I have 30 emails to delete (I try to keep my inboxes at 0 at all times), the 10% of those that I actually care about can easily get misplaced, archived or placed in the trash. I know that this is a rampant issue for others on this campus as well. Some students have even chosen to abandon these emails entirely by using filters, due to the inconvenience they cause with their overwhelming accumulation in our inboxes. This leaves students vulnerable to ignorance.

We need to improve our communications system at this college, because if we cannot effectively communicate, we cannot effectively coordinate. It seems that the average student spends more time deleting [announce] emails than actually reading the announcements themselves.

If the point of the [announce] system is to effectively circulate information that we specifically designate as vital to the community at large, then this system is blatantly broken. It is so overused and untargeted that it is more of a nuisance than a tool, more an annoyance than a solution. As Bates works to develop a more cohesive, informed community, it must also replace this antiquated system.

There are initiatives currently developing ways to improve this system, and I have been taking part in one such group. As the communications system at Bates becomes more targeted and more efficient, more people will be aware of the things they specifically want to be aware of. Cutting out the [announce] system does not decrease communications on campus. It does the opposite, because it increases communication and coordination. When the process is over and the [announce] system has been replaced with a more effective system, our communication will be clearer, our community members will be more engaged, and our campus will be stronger.

In essence, this article is an announcement in itself:

[Announce] Announce is dead.

A brief breakdown of the College Alcohol and Drug Policy

With new guidelines, a new Dean of Students, and a new school year, it is easy for students to get lost among Bates College student conduct policies. One question continued to resurface: How do drug and alcohol “paraphernalia” fit into the picture? What will happen if there is a shot glass on the table with no clear presence of hard alcohol, which Bates College strictly prohibits? If Security enters your room, what can they do? When does the Lewiston Police Department get involved?

The answers to these questions can be found in The College Alcohol and Drug Policy. The Bates Student reached out to Director of Security Thomas Carey to discuss the school’s procedures.

The basic rules of student conduct remain cut and dry. Over two decades ago, Bates College adopted the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, requiring the school to certify with the U.S Department of Education that it had implemented a program to “prevent the illicit use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol by its students and employees.”

Bates is not a haven from the law; students are required to adhere to all laws in the state of Maine. Students under the age of 21 are not permitted to drink or possess any form of alcohol, and Bates has a strict ban on hard liquor to any member of the Bates community regardless of age. If hard liquor is found, it will be disposed.

Furthermore, Security does not issue strikes in any situation. An officer will create a report with a student’s information and forward it to the Dean of Students Office, where the disciplinary process will begin.

When it comes to possession of marijuana or smoking accessories, more information is needed. “Both the District Attorney’s office as well as the LPD have told Security that they will allow Security to handle instances of possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces within the College system [of the disciplinary process],” said Carey.

More than 2 ounces of pot or any amount of other drugs will be directed to the Lewiston Police Department. Carey also explained how Security handles smoking paraphernalia. “If we observe the leftover of marijuana, etc. on any paraphernalia such as pipes, bongs, scales, they will be seized and destroyed as well.”

In relation to alcohol, Security will not seize a shot glass, wine glass, or beer mug without visible contents in it. However, any keg or tapping systems not registered under the school’s blue slip system will be confiscated without return; this includes a keg that is at a blue-slipped event but has failed to be registered individually.

The Bates Student does not condone any behavior against Bates College policies but simply seeks to inform students and members of the Bates community.

Fear and loathing at Bates College

In the real world, there are police and there are judges. In the new Bates student-athlete conduct policy, it seems as though the judges are no longer a part of the picture.

Bates is at a unique turning point in its storied history. With a new President and a new Dean of Students, our future is looking bright. I hope that, ten years after I graduate, saying I went to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine means more than it does today to the outside world. Bates’ reputation throughout the nation, and world, is not as strong as it ought to be, but that is changing. Every year, it seems, we are ranked higher and higher on national lists. Whether these rankings are arbitrary or accurate, they are a powerful indicator of national reputation, and I am proud to see our rankings continue to bolster in the world. But this positive change in reputation will reverse if we don’t foster the right on-campus culture.

“Today, half the student body, the athletes, lives in fear of security,” sophomore Andrew Segal said. “They live in fear of write-ups, live in fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, live in fear of a policy that they don’t understand.” The new student-athlete policy essentially relies on Security write-ups to judge conduct. Once a student-athlete gets two write-ups, they are essentially liable to immediately lose playing time, or, as it has so eloquently been put, “there will likely be a participation sanction.” And the third “violation,” regardless of how petty and inconsequential the write-ups may have been, will result in a suspension.

Within this policy lies an inherent issue: it is not Security’s responsibility, nor their duty, to discipline students. Security is a reactionary force. They are there to regulate student activity only insofar as student behavior is unsafe or unhealthy. Fundamentally, they are there to help us, the students and members of the Bates community. They are not there to regulate playing time of student-athletes—but in the current system, they are basically given this power.

The College has deans in place that we have entrusted to uphold the law of the school and to discipline our students when they violate these laws. Why, then, are we usurping this power of school judiciary to the security force we have in place to protect us?

In the real world, there are police officers and there are judges. The police officers charge you with a crime—the judges decide, impartially, whether or not you are guilty of this crime.

Getting “written up” requires nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe you’re hanging out, drinking a beer with friends, and Security shows up and decides to stick it to you. Been there, done that. Well, let’s say that happens twice. Remember, in this case, the individual has not necessarily been disruptive; they have not necessarily harmed the community; they have not necessarily engaged in behavior that is injurious to themselves or to others in the Bates and Lewiston-Auburn communities.

Yet this individual, because he or she has been written up twice in this manner, can now lose playing time. When you play eight games a year, like the football team, any loss of playing time is a massive loss. When you train all year for eight games, losing even a quarter of playing time because you were written up twice by Security, with no discretion from the deans, is unfair and unjust.

There are clear issues with this policy. First, it can obviously lead to increased conflict between student-athletes and Security. If the athlete’s playing time is at stake, and the Security officers are given the power to take away playing time from student-athletes on a whim by “writing up” an individual, conflict between the two parties will arise on the front-end: out on the streets of Lewiston, or in a crowded quad in Smith.

Second, it can lead to binge drinking. Where drinking is in inelastic demand, cracking down on students leads to binge drinking. Students will drink regardless of policy, welcome to the real world. I discussed this in my last article, and there is vast scholarly literature about his phenomenon, so I will not hash it out further other than to say that when authority cracks down on responsible drinking on campuses, it leads to irresponsible, clandestine binge drinking behind closed doors.

There are various other issues with this policy, but the most glaring issue is this: the current system breeds fear and loathing. The athletes I have spoken to about the current student-athlete conduct policy fear its prospects and loathe its agents. That is not acceptable. No policy of this college should bread fear and loathing.

Limiting judiciary discretion on the part of deans, and usurping this judiciary power by instilling a quasi-autocratic security force that has the power to basically limit the playing time of our student-athletes by simply writing their name down, is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad policy.

It will change, because it needs to change. Fear and loathing ought not to preside over this campus.

 

Green Lewiston?

On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the nation to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

Washington Initiative 502 (“on marijuana reform”) led to a voter turnout of 81%, credited as one of the highest in the nation. This suggests that the issue of marijuana legalization is something that the general public feels strongly about, and it appears that it has finally reached the polls.

This November 4, Lewiston residents will have the opportunity to vote on the legalization of marijuana in their city. Lewiston would be the second city in Maine to legalize the drug, Portland being the first back in 2013, passing with about 70% of votes in favor. That year, Portland became the first city on the East Coast to legalize recreational marijuana.

The question of marijuana legalization runs far deeper than many initially anticipate. One of the most startling factors is the fact that marijuana inmates cost prisons $1 billion each year, money that surely could have been spent more efficiently than on petty nonviolent crimes of possession, often being the very first offense of teenagers, thus introducing them to the world of social marginalization.

If incarcerating juveniles for possession of marijuana isn’t bad enough, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related “crimes” than a white person is, which is even more striking given the about equal usage of marijuana by blacks and whites. The issue of marijuana reveals the racial tension that still exists within our society, rearing its ugly head through archaic laws and biased arrests.

Laws exist to promote the general well-being of individuals in a society while protecting rights and freedoms. Many argue, and rightfully so, that the focus ought to be shifted from non-violent crimes to more serious matters. One germane example would be the fact that Denver’s murder rate fell by 52.9% within a year following the legalization of marijuana. Furthermore, sexual assaults went down by 13.6%, robberies by 4.8%, and assaults by 3.7%.

While this doesn’t necessarily imply that marijuana legalization caused this drastic decrease in crime rates, one must acknowledge the correlation between the two. Importantly, one must realize that once the police force doesn’t have to worry about petty crimes such as marijuana possession, they can begin focusing on more serious crimes, those that bring incredible harm and disruption to the social fabric of a community.

Perhaps it is time to end this futile “war on drugs,” an effort that has proved to be quite ineffective over the past few years, and instead shift the focus to helping people escape socioeconomic circumstances that turn into vicious cycles.

To cast a blanket of prohibition on every drug while keeping alcohol and firearms legal doesn’t appear to follow the logic that the prohibition of marijuana is to prevent potential harm, especially when the drug in question has caused astronomically fewer fatalities. The regulated sale of marijuana along with further funding and research into the possible pharmacological benefits of the substance should be considered, if not at least discussed in depth.

One of the beauties of living on a campus that is saturated with intellectual minds ready to converse about a slew of topics allows for exactly the type of environment in which healthy conversations and debates can exist. It is important that we as students begin talking about this issue along with others, because the implications of our decisions will ultimately create the world we will one day live in. And it’s finally our turn to vote, Lewiston.

Filmboard preview: The Grand Budapest Hotel

“It’s an extremely common mistake. People think the writer’s imagination is constantly at work, that he’s constantly inventing an endless supply of incidents and episodes; that he simply dreams up his stories out of thin air. In point of fact, the opposite is true. Once the public knows you’re a writer, they bring the characters and events to you.”

These are the first lines spoken in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and as usual for a Wes Anderson film, they sum up perfectly both the adventures displayed in the film and Mr. Anderson’s approach to art-making.

For those who are unfamiliar with Anderson’s work, to step inside his films is to venture to the most aesthetically pleasing realms of our earth, where the very foundations of life tiptoe on the edge of the absurd. We don’t quite believe that any of the pristinely framed events in pastel colors actually ever happened, but we don’t commit ourselves to the opposite, either.

But what he lets us know in the opening lines written above is that he doesn’t imagine these worlds. In reality, their essence is extracted from the most extravagant characters of his life and then (hopefully) exaggerated on screen. Tim Burton’s films give us far off and frankly disturbingly saggy-eyed characters, but Anderson’s characters possess the qualities found in the farthest corners of our lives that actually make their quirks the most lovable qualities.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is not without its extravagant characters. The trailer alone reveals the superb cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, and Adrien Brody, among others.

The story follows Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a “legendary” concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel, and his lobby boy, “Zero,” as they get tangled up in the theft of a valuable artwork, the dividing of a valuable family estate, and the affairs of the men and women at the hotel. We watch them as they adventure around Europe between wars to cake shops, monasteries, and ski resorts, strengthening their mutual admiration for the other along the way. Like many Wes Anderson films, the plot contains activity from seemingly distant genres. There are cross-courtyard gunfights, intimate scenes in the back of a cake shop, chase scenes on alpine skis, and Ralph Fiennes sleeping with an eighty-three-year-old woman. Thankfully, the latter is only talked about.

With these extravagant characters and surprising adventures, Anderson pulls off the great cinematic feat of making us love the people and places we’re watching. We don’t really understand why or how the situations occur and characters make decisions, but we trust the logic and the consequences of the film. The fact that Gustave H. has a tendency of sleeping with eighty-three-year-old women who pass through the hotel isn’t as bothersome when we see him lean over her casket a few scenes later and say, “You look wonderful darling, you really do. I don’t know what kind of cream they’ve put on you down at the morgue, but I want some.” He’s not being sarcastic because we can see in Fiennes’s doting expression that he genuinely admired and possibly loved this old lady. Or we could just go with the explanation he gives us a few lines later: “I go to bed with all my friends.”

Grand Budapest Hotel is playing at the Filmboard this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for $1.

 

Iced chai and morning hours: Le Ronj reopens with style

“Chai or die.” That’s the mysteriously enticing motto of the Ronj, which opened back up for the school year on Wednesday. Located at 32 Frye Street, the Ronj is Bates’ only student-run coffee house.

The opening was a great success, as the first ten people in line were guaranteed free Ronj t-shirts. Those who showed up ten minutes too late, however, still got to enjoy the new iced chai latte for just one dollar. Even though Wednesday evening was Dollar Chai Night, most of the Ronj drinks don’t cost more than two dollars. With prices like these, it’s no wonder the Ronj’s reopening was met with enthusiasm and a long wait in line.

The coffee house’s hours have been extended this year to include a morning shift, so early bird students on Frye Street can now get their fix of morning caffeine without having to walk to Commons for mediocre coffee.

Nothing at the Ronj is mediocre. Although they always (deservingly) boast about their chai, they offer so much more than that. They have a variety of coffee drinks, tea, and hot chocolate flavors each day. Farther into the heart of fall, the Ronj will often serve apple chai-der, a delectable combination of apple cider and chai. (Is there anything more deliciously autumn than that?) In addition to the wide range of beverages, they also have freshly baked cookies and brownies for sale, as well as snacks and candy, all of which are very reasonably priced.

Not only can you find the world’s best chai latte there, but you can also find homey, warm rooms with comfortable couches, desks, and the most fantastic wall decorations. The environment is somewhat Zen; there’s something indescribably lovely about writing a geology paper while looking at hand-painted rainbows and forests on the walls around you.

Not only are there smaller rooms for individual or small group study sessions, but there are also larger rooms that are perfect for club meetings, rehearsals, and performances. The student-run improv group, the Strange Bedfellows, often perform to a packed crowd in the Thunderdome.

Contributing to the Zen vibe is the amazing staff, who also mostly say that their favorite thing about the Ronj is simply the atmosphere around it.

Adam Figueiredo ’15 thinks his favorite thing is the “chill vibes” that the Ronj has to offer. Advertising and accounting manager Ali Hakusui ’15 says that she loves the Ronj for “the community and friendship” that it fosters.

“I love that it’s student-run. It makes us equally accountable and invested in what we do,” said stocking manager Max Pendergast ’15. Clearly, there’s no lack of passion served up at the Ronj.

And so, after an amazing opening, the Ronj is officially back in business. If it’s a late night cappuccino you’re looking for or just a quiet, comfortable place to do some work away from the library, then the Ronj is the place for you.

Football loses season opener in game of inches

Three yards: That’s all that separated the Bates football team from a season-opening win over Amherst, a NESCAC co-champion in 2013. After senior quarterback Matt Cannone’s one-yard touchdown run with 1:16 remaining in the final quarter made it 7-6, coach Mark Harriman decided to attempt a two-point conversion to try to take a late lead as opposed to the safer option of an extra point. Though an impressive win over a top NESCAC contender eluded the Bobcats when an Amherst defender snared Cannone’s pass, there are plenty of positives the team can build on heading into their upcoming game against Tufts.

For one, Gilbert Brown, a senior co-captain who anchors the defense as a linebacker for the Bobcats, fully supports Harriman’s aggressive call to go for two and believes it represents the team’s confident, bold mentality.

“Personally I liked [the conversion attempt], as opposed to past years when we would be conservative and tie the game with an extra point; this year we are all or nothing! What I mean by that is, as a team and coaching staff we feel that we should have a chance to win every game no matter the opponent,” Brown said. “I think it was the right decision ten out of ten times.”

The defense that Brown led did a solid job of containing the dangerous Amherst offense, picking off quarterback Alex Berluti twice and recovering two fumbles. Senior safety Ryan Newson snagged both interceptions.Newson, who also tallied 10 tackles, has been tasked with filling the star-studded shoes of Andrew Kukesh ’14. In his first game replacing the perennial First Team All-NESCAC honoree, Newson exemplified the defense’s gritty mentality.

“Our mindset is to force a lot of turnovers and to be the most physical unit on the field,” Newson said. “No matter where the ball is or what the situation, our defense plays a relentless and physical style of football.”

Another defensive standout for the Bobcats was sophomore linebacker Mark Upton, who humbly declined a request for comment in this story due to his desire to let the senior captains speak for the team. On the field, Upton’s play said a lot about both his potential and his diligent efforts to maximize that ability. Following a freshman campaign in which he tallied 30 tackles, Upton had a team-high 11 tackles in the opener.

“It was an overall team effort but certainly our younger athletes such as [linebacker Ben] Coulibaly ‘17, Upton, [cornerback Brandon] Williams ‘17, and others all set the tone for what it takes to play in our defense,” commented Brown. “These guys work their tails off day in and out and its no surprised that they shined in the game.”

For the Bates offense, the wide receivers had a bit more of a chance to shine than they did last season. Cannone threw the ball 31 times against Amherst, completing 17 passes for 113 yards and throwing three interceptions. He also ran 27 times for 57 yards and the aforementioned late, lone touchdown. Junior wide receiver Mike Riley caught a career-high eight passes from Cannone, while fellow receiver and senior co-captain Mike Tomaino snagged four balls for 34 yards.

Tomaino explained that the Bates offense tries to alter its approach depending on the defense they’re facing. “I think the coaches do a great job of taking what the defense gives us, so I think it depends on the opposition. With that said, having the option to throw the ball will be make us a more efficient offense because the run game and the passing game are reliant on each other,” he says.

Though the Bobcats’ air attack was featured more than expected, the team will aim for better production on the ground in the future. Counting Cannone’s 57 yards rushing, Bates ran for 133 yards, significantly less than their average of 231.5 yards per game last season.

Larry Guinee, a senior co-captain and the team’s center, was frustrated by the mistakes that prevented the offense from having a more productive day.

“I wouldn’t chalk it up to just the turnovers. We need to improve on executing our individual assignments and playing with much more focus,” Guinee said. “Missed assignments and penalties, along with the turnovers, were real drive-killers for us.”

Before you gear up to watch the squad for the first time Saturday afternoon, there’s one more player you should be on the lookout for. You might usually lose focus when it’s time for the special teams unit, waiting for the exciting clash of offense vs. defense to commence. That would be a mistake this weekend, because you would miss seeing the NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week in action, senior punter David Kurey. The typically underappreciated Kurey garnered recognition for a performance in which he punted nine times, averaging 42.3 yards, and pinning Amherst inside the 20 three times. As any player will tell you, executing the small details that are so essential in special teams plays an integral role in the team’s success.

Considering that Tufts ended an unfathomable 31-game losing streak in their first game of the season against Hamilton, notching the first win of the season Saturday might seem like a mere formality for the Bobcats. Nevertheless, the team wants to focus on performing their best in every outing and taking each game as a serious obstacle.

“While we played well against Amherst, I think this program has moved past “moral victories” and we are ready to take the next step and beat these top-tier teams,” said Tomaino. “While we are certainly not discouraged because we have seven more games to compete, as a whole we were disappointed that we didn’t complete goal one, which was to beat Amherst. In order to beat Tufts, we are going to have to learn from our mistakes through watching film and continuing to get better in practice.”

Despite the inevitable discouragement of dwelling on those agonizing three yards, Cannone boldly and succinctly sums up what he learned about the team.

“The one major take away from the game at Amherst was it was evident how much heart this team has,” Cannone said. “We have many players that played with a lot of passion, and that is something that will carry us this season.”

Marijuana legalization on the ballot

The drug will still be prohibited on campus regardless of the outcome

Lewiston voters will be voting on more than just candidates in the upcoming November election. Earlier this month, the Lewiston City Council scheduled a vote to determine whether the recreational use of marijuana should be legalized.

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted a petition with 863 signatures calling for the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and over. The City Council had the option of approving the measure, but instead chose to send it to a referendum.

Bates will not allow the recreational use of marijuana on campus if the measure passes, however.

“We have consulted with the Lewiston Police and they have let us know that they would be obligated to continue to enforce relevant state law regarding marijuana,” Assistant Dean of Students Carl Steidel said. “For this reason, the college would also still be obligated to continue to prohibit marijuana use on campus since our policies cannot be in conflict with state law.”

The measure would legalize the use of marijuana in private spaces. Marijuana cannot be used in public places or by anyone under 21. Landlords will have the option of banning the drug on their premises.

Portland passed a similar ballot measure with overwhelming support last November, but local police have continued to issue citations for marijuana use in private spaces. Marijuana is decriminalized in Maine, meaning that anyone who is in possession of less than 2.5 ounces of the drug is issued a citation instead of facing arrest.

The Bates Democrats are supportive of marijuana legalization making its way on to the ballot.

“We’re a very diverse group, and it wouldn’t be representative to say that every member of the club as a whole supports yes or no,” Bates Democrats President Teddy Rube said. “However, we all agree that it’s good for city residents to be able to have their voices heard and decide for themselves.”

Bates Democrats will focus their efforts towards on-campus voter registration this fall and supporting local Democratic candidates. “If marijuana legalization is an issue that energizes residents and students, we certainly hope they take advantage of voting on the rest of the issues and the candidates on the ballot,” Rube said.

The Bates Republicans were also contacted for this article but did not respond to an interview request.

Batesies have mixed opinions on marijuana legalization.

“I think [marijuana legalization] is a good thing,” senior Amit Dubey said. “The police won’t be arresting people for smoking pot and instead can focus their time on real crimes such as theft and murder.”

Lewiston Police have indicated that they will enforce state laws and not the local law if the referendum is passed, according to Steidel. This means that the impacts of the referendum are largely symbolic.

“It’s up to law enforcement to do what they want to do,” first-year Santi Rozas said. “If there is a precedent they should do whatever that is. I personally think they should follow the local laws if they are cops from Lewiston, and state police should follow state laws.”

“The police should enforce local law,” first-year Cole Limbach said. “It’s more practical to legalize it because it’s so expensive to enforce. Alcohol causes more problems and disrupts more lives than pot.”

Students will still face disciplinary penalties if they are caught using marijuana on campus.

“It is likely that any marijuana violations would remain a part of the three-strike system for the current academic year,” Steidel said.

Bates policy prohibits smoking in student dorms and academic buildings, which would make it harder for a student to smoke in a private place without violating Bates policy.

Dubey and Limbach offer alternatives to banning marijuana on campus and disciplining students.

“Bates can simply force people to smoke outside of their dorms like [Bates] does with cigarettes,” Limbach said. “So what if it’s pot, what’s the difference?”

“I think you have to create a special area where people can smoke,” Dubey said. “Create a designated area so people don’t get in trouble and those who choose not to smoke are not impacted.”

Rozas disagrees and feels that Bates should continue to ban marijuana on campus.

“From a student’s perspective, I obviously wouldn’t want it banned, but from the Deans’ perspective it would be beneficial if it was banned,” Rozas states. “The perception of Bates by parents and students who are looking at the school from all around the country would be greatly impacted.”

While on-campus marijuana policies will not change this year regardless of the outcome of the referendum, Dean of Students Josh McIntosh is taking a “comprehensive look at alcohol on campus and the culture around it,” according to Steidel.

Students should still expect Bates Security to look out for marijuana usage on campus and to report incidents to the Dean of Students.

However, the current strike policy with regards to marijuana could change in the future.

“A thorough review of the strike system will absolutely take a look at where marijuana violations should fall and what our response should be,” Steidel said.

 

 

Glasses, kisses, and awkward situations: “New Girl” returns with hope for a better season

The fourth season of the sitcom “New Girl” premiered last Tuesday evening. Viewership has been steadily declining, and while the fourth season’s first episode was adequate, it is clear that the show is not the clever comedy it once was.

“New Girl” first aired in 2011 as a quirky and humorous show about the life of schoolteacher Jess, played by Zooey Deschanel.  In the pilot, Jess suffers a tough breakup and moves into an apartment with three single guys, Nick, Schmidt, and Winston. Among the other main characters and included in the hijinks are Jess’ childhood friend Cece and another roommate, Coach. Much of the show revolves around the late-twenty-something friends encountering awkward and comical situations.

A main draw of the show has always been the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Jess and Nick. The suspense and sexual tension quickly dissolved after the two shared a first kiss in the second season. I’m all for having shippable characters get together, but really? They couldn’t have waited longer than one-and-a-half seasons? After all, it took Jim and Pam until the fourth season of “The Office” to officially start dating; J.D. and Elliot didn’t start a real relationship until the eighth season of “Scrubs.”

All of this is for good reason. The uncertainty surrounding whether two main characters will get together is highly entertaining to watch. Setting it up for Jess and Nick to start dating so early in the show, however, was like getting ice cream before having dinner; you like it, but a part of you wishes it hadn’t come so quickly.

The plot of the show weakened after that, with almost the entirety of season three of “New Girl” revolving around Jess and Nick’s relationship. Sophomore Katie Stevenson agrees, “The show started to go downhill during the second season.”

While season three disappointed many fans, the premiere last week suggested a turn in the better direction. Although the plotline wasn’t extraordinary–the gang was attempting to all get lucky at the last wedding of the summer–the jokes recalled the glory days of the show. Especially amusing was the character of Schmidt, whose obsessive drive to have a four-way with the wedding’s bridesmaids led to his characteristically weird quotes (“Go to housekeeping [and] have them give you as many shower caps as they›ll give you”).

Also impressive in the episode was the guest appearance by Jessica Biel, who was perfectly cast as the type-A girl vying for the best man against Jess. In a twist, both girls reject him, resulting in all members of the gang going home solo. Jess shows her friends that really they aren’t alone, because they’re all heading back to their apartment together.

The ending is, of course, incredibly corny, but that’s part of the charm of New Girl. After the premiere, sophomore Tessa Holtzman, who dressed up as Zooey Deschanel for Halloween last year, noted that she is “interested to see where the show is headed.”

Although the show doesn’t set up romantic relationships in the best way, it wins when it focuses on the friendships within the group. If this season concentrates on that instead of awkward dating dynamics, “New Girl” has the chance to be a hit once again.

Our Lethal Language: The Flame Alphabet shows the importance of human communication

What would happen to society if words were poisonous? Ben Marcus explores the consequences of toxicity of language in his book entitled The Flame Alphabet. This dynamic author poses the question, if language is lethal how does society communicate?

Marcus builds a dystopian world to test this question. One of the central ideas to his novel is what it means to be a community and what defines a community. Can it be as big as a country or as small as a family unit?

Through the decision to make his protagonist and narrator male, Marcus adds another layer of individuality to set his book apart. Most often, the narrator is an omniscient one, a female, or sometimes the perspective switches between multiple characters. With a man leading the story, the audience gets a different perspective.

By starting his book in the middle of the action, Marcus gives a shock to the unassuming reader. This serves two purposes; first, the audience has no base with which to compare current events. This gives Marcus complete control of the reader’s headspace. Second, by starting at the root of the problem, Marcus primes the rest of the story for the actual quest for the answer.

Problems take on an interesting form in his book. Marcus writes, “Blame is interesting, but be careful. It’s a dangerous strategy.” Finding the culprit for problems may be easy, but making sure it is the right offender is the tricky part.

Marcus comments on the current state of family life by creating a dysfunctional family unit as the axis around which the story revolves. Sam, the protagonist, and his family are the focal point of the novel, though they do not stay one cohesive unit throughout. Some of the turbulence results from Sam’s tempestuous relationship with his daughter, Esther. Marcus explores the smaller unit to show how broken relationships can be if the only mode of communication hurts one member of the equation. With only this example as a guide, Marcus leads the reader to imagine what his world looks like by looking at the experience of Sam and Esther.

The other group that Marcus centers his book around is a religious one. An interesting technique that the author employs is to take the Jewish religion and innovate it to fit his dystopian society. The evolution and eventual redemption of the Jewish religion begs the question of the part in society that ethnic, cultural, and religious groups play. They can give a place to go and provide security, or others can target them as scapegoats. Marcus blurs the line between those two ideas to suggest a frightening thought–maybe these groups are not mutually exclusive.

At the core of the narrative is the uncertainty Sam has about his own identity. As time progresses in the book, Sam finds himself in different conditions that require him to alter himself. In order to adapt to the new situation, he compromises his individuality. This character needs to figure out which parts of himself are worth preserving and which he must change in order to survive in this new society.

Identity, family, and religion share a common theme, that of communication. Marcus leaves his readers with an alarming thought, “[t]his was not a disease of language anymore, it was a disease of insight, understanding, knowing.” This evolution goes to the very root of our society. Marcus begs the reader to look at the world today and think about the repercussions of failed communication, of families and societies not listening to each other. These repercussions are indeed very real and just on the horizon, unless our society decides to change.

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