The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: March 11, 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Edges: A not-so-typical musical that addresses real-life dilemmas

It’s no “Mamma Mia” or “Phantom of the Opera,” but the student-directed musical “Edges,” premiering on March 13th, is sure to rise up to the same expectations.

After the success of the musical last winter, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the Robinson Players asked sophomore Colby Harrison to direct this year’s production.

“I fell in love with it the moment I listened to the music,” said Harrison. “I knew I couldn’t do this alone, so I wanted a partner-in-crime and I went to Katie Van Patten. She agreed and we decided to go in this together as a team.”

What makes this production so unique is the idea that there is no specific plot to follow; it’s technically a song cycle. While the songs don’t directly relate to one another through narrative, the show is still comprised of musical numbers that tell a story. “Edges” attempts to break down the walls between the self and society, as it is these walls that prevent us from expressing our true personalities and embracing the world around us. The show reveals the barriers that we think protect us but ultimately shut us out of the space around us.

Accordingly, the music and general theme of the show revolve around questions about one’s personal being and identification, such as, “who am I and who do I want to become? Am I good enough? Why can’t I just connect with someone? Will I find love?”

First-year Sarah Curtis plays an overly independent character who, throughout the play, transitions to become open and vulnerable to the outside world. She said, “I think that ‘Edges’ was a really fantastic choice, because it not only showcases the voices of everyone in the cast but also addresses common themes throughout each song that people can really relate to. In the grand scheme of things, the show is really genuine and universal.”

Even the audition process foreshadowed how connected the show would be to the ideas of collegiate atmosphere and personal development. Curtis had to prepare a song for the directors and stage manager as well as recite a monologue. Perhaps the most interesting part of the process that had a lot to do with the overall theme of the show was the “additional talents” portion of the audition, where Curtis ended up freestyle rapping to an instrumental version of “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast.

The songs in this production were written when the authors were sophomores in college, the exact age of Harrison and Van Patten currently, emphasizing the fact that everyone here can relate to them in one way or another. The songs encompass many issues that we deal with on a daily basis, “emphasizing the importance of communication and vulnerability when becoming an adult,” claimed Harrison.

He stated, “all of the actors in the show sing songs about love, breakups, divorce, family, careers, as well as many other subjects around this central question. We still want to make these characters come alive by giving them some sort of story. While we believe that the emotion of the characters is most important to express to the audience we have also made relationships and small story arcs between the songs and characters.”

The cast of students that bring these characters to life have been working tirelessly with Harrison and Van Patten for weeks to perfectly convey the messages “Edges” embraces.

“I could not have asked for a more perfect cast,” exclaimed Harrison. “Theater is all about collaboration and this cast was the epitome of it. All of them are talented singers, musicians, and actors. They were so patient when Katie and I were behind schedule or a little flustered from dealing with important director duties. These are powerful songs accompanied by powerful actors.”

The audience can expect to be not only wowed by the talent of the performers like Curtis, but also to be faced with resonating contemplations about who we are as the human race as well as individually.

Curtis added, “the audience can expect to see some great performances sing songs from comedic to serious, all of which are moving.”

Enjoyably overacted: “Into the Woods” filmboard preview

Let’s be honest, when you finish the week, finally hand in those papers and complete those exams, you just want to relax and have fun. And it’s good to watch mentally stimulating movies like Selma every once in a while, but sometimes you deserve a weird, brainless movie like Into the Woods, which is conveniently the Filmboard movie this weekend.

On paper, Into the Woods sounds like it should be a mess. First of all, it is a fairy-tale/romantic comedy/drama/musical that is not satisfied with only having one fairy-tale involved. There is Cinderella and her step-family, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Rapunzel and the Witch, Jack and the Beanstalk, and not one but two princes. Somehow, though, all the pieces fit together to make a fun movie filled with mostly unintentional funny moments.

Now, if having all your favorite fairy tales combined into one movie that is also a musical is not enough to make you want to see Into the Woods, then simply look at the cast and try not to faint. First off there’s Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, who always kills it with the music. Emily Blunt and future late night host James Corden bring their comedy A-game as the very funny Baker’s Wife and Baker.

Thankfully, the producers realized that Johnny Depp’s acting performance is directly proportional to the level of weirdness that his role requires. Accordingly, Johnny Depp is great (and creepy) as the Wolf. Chris Pine plays Cinderella’s Prince Charming (of course he does, he is very charming) and Billy Magnussen plays Rapunzel’s Prince Charming (once again, no surprise there). Finally, there’s Meryl Streep basically being Meryl Streep. Honestly, I would pay to see Meryl Streep try to print in Ladd for an hour over a lot of movies, but seeing her as the Witch is just as good. Meryl is the best part of the movie, and she justly earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Oscars.

Furthermore, the movie itself is beautifully shot with a nice mixture of animation used to create the fantasy world. Everything from the titular woods to the costumes is meticulously thought out and executed. Of course what puts Into the Woods onto a higher level of weirdness is the music. The music is not necessarily bad, but it’s just nothing special. The songs all sound just as if they were being performed on Broadway, which makes sense given that the movie is based on a Broadway musical.

Luckily, Anna Kendrick nails all of her songs, which somewhat makes up for the very average singing of the rest of the cast. Yet, even though the music by itself might not be anything special, the performances in the movie are very memorable. The highlight is by far the performance of “Agony” by the two princes. It is unclear if the director wanted this scene to be funny, but there is something about seeing two princes sing about how their respective princesses won’t love them back while they dance around in a river and rip open their shirts that makes me laugh out loud every time. Furthermore, Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen both overact to the point where the scene is so ridiculous that it’s impossible not to laugh.

But then again, this movie is filled with overacting, which is what makes it so weird, but also so fun.

F.A.B. celebrates 10th anniversary

People say that dancing is the closest humans can come to flying. After watching the tenth annual F.A.B. (Franco-American/Bates) performance at the Franco Center for the Heritage and the Preforming Arts in Lewiston, I can confidently say that being a dancer takes someone above and beyond. These talented people use their bodies to accomplish mind-bending feats that leave an audience in wonder.

The F.A.B. performance is a unique conglomerate of dancers. This wonderful event is managed by the director of the dance program at Bates, Carol Dilley. Dilley danced professionally for thirty years before coming to be the director of the Bates Dance program in 2003. Dilley stated, “F.A.B. began as an initiative to create an annual dance showcase of professional dance work to bring quality dance to downtown Lewiston.” However, Dilley noted that this event quickly snowballed further than anyone expected. Now, in its tenth year, the event draws college students, professional choreographers from all around New England, local youth, and more.

The logistics of pulling off an affair of this magnitude takes coordination, organization, and a lot of devotion. For the first couple of years, Dilley had to constantly reach out to potential performers in order to get slots filled for the show.

Now, Dilley said, “artists are calling me before I even turn my attention to the event.”

As time went on, and the event was well received by the Lewiston community and beyond, potential dancers came flooding in. Furthermore, for this tenth anniversary show, Dilley remarks that she “ended up with seventeen pieces instead of the usual ten to twelve.” This is a very high compliment to this initiative.

This year, seventeen individual groups preformed at F.A.B. Many of these companies are new to this event, but some are returning for a second, or even third time. This is an accomplishment that dance groups would return to share their talent year after year.

Vignettes included solo performances, duets and bigger group numbers. The ages and talent of the dancers varied to collectively form an eclectic array. Between Bates students, students at the local dance school in Lewiston and professional dancers, the audience was continuously bombarded with dazzling dancing.

Courtney Sinclair ‘18 said, “It was great to see so many genres of dance preformed in one space.” Dancers continuously pushed the proverbial envelop with their awe-inspiring routines. One soloist employed spoken word in her performance, which gave the excerpt that explored ideas behind metaphorical paralysis a new sphere of understanding.

The Franco Center itself is a beautiful church that has been repurposed into a preforming arts center. The slopped floor of the audience gave the theatre a stadium-like feel. Arches bordered the stage and the audience to lend height to the room. Those same arches, when combined with lighting and dancers, threw exquisite shadows onto the walls.

It goes without saying that choreography is by far one of the most vital parts of a performance, because, really, without it there would be nothing to watch. The variety of style presented was dizzying; there was a style of dance at this gathering for every type of viewer. The choices the choreographers made were interesting. Some chose not to have music in their numbers, while others chose to have props to help display a dream sequence. It is clear that these choreographers held their dancers to a high standard and that it all paid off in the end.

First-year Sam Reiss also said, “Seeing the Franco Center filled with people from all over Maine coming to watch dance was just amazing.”

Bates women’s lax splits, men fail to record first NESCAC win

The women’s lacrosse team grabbed a NESCAC victory and then lost a close one on their weekend trip, competing on both Saturday and Sunday. After falling short last weekend at Amherst, Bates got back on track with its first conference win this season.

The Bobcats downed the Wesleyan Cardinals at their home nest in Middletown, pulling out a 12-6 road victory. A hot start by the visitors set the tone for the afternoon, as Bates scored five unanswered goals in the first 14 minutes of play. Junior attackers Emma Brinkman and Moriah Greenstein combined for five goals, with Brinkman scoring just 39 seconds into the contest. Cruising to a 7-2 halftime lead, the ‘Cats never looked back. The Cardinals remained relevant but couldn’t get within four goals, as the Bates ultimately won the second half as well, by a 5-4 margin. Junior Hannah Jeffrey remained strong in goal, finishing with 11 saves. Draw controls proved integral, as Bates won the battle with 14 to Wesleyan’s five.

Coming off their first NESCAC victory, Bates was set to face off against Stevens College in Hoboken, NJ. In a game that included five lead changes and six ties, Bates came up short, losing 11-8 to the Ducks. Brinkman remained hot, notching three goals and keeping the ‘Cats in the game. Bates continued to hang around, trailing 5-4 at halftime, and taking the lead 8-7 on a Greenstein goal shortly after the break. But the visitors failed to cash in after the junior’s effort, and Stevens scored four goals over the final 19:20 en route to their victory. Stevens won the draws 14-7, also gaining a 20-9 edge in groundballs. The Bates women come out of the weekend sitting at 3-2 and 1-1 in the NESAC. The team will be playing their first in-conference home game next weekend against Trinity on Saturday, where they’ll look to grab another victory.

While women’s lacrosse experienced some success this past weekend, the Bates men couldn’t pick up their first NESCAC win, losing their second in-conference game in two tries. Bates couldn’t quite hang in against Wesleyan despite pulling within two goals with under five minutes left, as the Cardinals kept the ‘Cats at bay and won 10-7. Junior attacker Charlie Hildebrand got the party started with a tricky shot off a rebound to put Bates up 1-0. However, a furious Wesleyan attack led by senior Matt Prezioso (five goals) and freshman Harry Stanton (two goals) paced the visitors, not allowing the Bates to reclaim the lead. Joe Faria was under fire for most of the game once again, as Wesleyan shot 32 times, and the junior goalie recorded ten saves. Despite winning the ground ball battle 33-28 and outshooting the Cards 39-32, Bates couldn’t put all the pieces together. The ‘Cats will look to get back on track on Wednesday at home against Roger Williams at 4:30 PM. If they can’t turn things around soon, the Bates could be staring down another long season.

Track team keeps foot on the pedal

Though the women’s team finished 21st out of 60 teams at the ECAC Championships this weekend in New York, their placement does not accurately reflect how well they truly did. The team sent their distance medley relay team to Tufts this weekend, as the group wanted to improve on their time on a flat track to ensure they would have a spot in the NCAA Championship. The relay squad of sophomores Jess Wilson and Claire Markonic, and seniors Sarah Fusco and Elena Jay finished their race with a time of 11:54.60, which moved them into eighth in Division III and propelled them into the NCAA tournament. With these four top runners at Tufts, the women’s placement at the ECAC meet should not make anyone panic.

On the bright side, there were multiple standouts that stepped up. Freshman Srishti Sunil had a great day, finishing fifth in the 4×400 relay and fourth in the long jump. Another first year who did not disappoint when her number was called was Sally Ceesay, who placed seventh in in the triple jump. The veterans who participated did their job as well, especially those on the 4×400 relay team. Seniors Quincy Snellings and Amelia Oliver, junior Melanie Ehrenberg, and sophomore Allison Hill had never raced together before this meet, and still finished in fifth place with a time of 3:54.48. Hill did not stop there, as she placed fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 9.19 seconds. I got a chance to speak with Hill about the team’s performance.

“Our coach believes that if each individual performs her best in every event that she is placed in then we will succeed overall as a team,” Hill said. “She is very smart and tactical when placing people in events for championship season; she will not overexploit our abilities and put us in multiple strenuous events, but rather will place each athlete in three events or fewer in order to maximize everyone’s best performance.”

It’s safe to say that the women’s team has a solid game plan that has proven to be successful. On Monday, Ceesay qualified for the NCAA Championships in the triple jump, making her the only freshman selected in Division III. She’ll join her teammates on the distance medley relay team for NCAAs Friday and Saturday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The men’s team is still on a roll. The Bobcats placed fifth out of 56 teams at ECACs, with numerous athletes placing. Some notable mentions are the 4×400 relay group (who also had never raced together) placing sixth with a time of 3:22.54. Junior Nick Margitza had himself a great day with a placement of third place in the shot put contest, and senior Mike Horowicz placed seventh in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 15:13.77. The star man on the day for Bates was senior Sean Enos, who won the weight throw and shot put contest and scored 20 of Bates’ 37 points at the meet. Enos set new records in the weight throw for Bates as well as Bates’ ECAC record throw of 20.17 meters. He has swept the throwing events in four straight meets. Enos has hot hands and plans to keep them warm going into the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship. Enos is seeded second in the weight throw based on his top performance of 66-2.25 feet and fourth in the shot put with an effort of 58-4.

Horowicz spoke about the team’s morale after the meet: “Everyone was pretty happy after the meet,” he said. “Although not everyone set new personal bests at the meet, many Bobcats concluded their seasons with huge progress and development.”

For the men, the distance medley relay team of sophomore Patrick Griffin, junior Gregg Heller, and seniors Mark McCauley and John Stansel will compete at the NCAA Championships in addition to Enos, senior Eric Wainman in heptathlon, and Stansel in the mile.

Enos, a five-time All-American, will be making his fifth NCAA Championship appearance while Stansel will be making his sixth appearance at an NCAA Championship meet across cross country and track.

Ferguson revisited

Last Wednesday, the Justice Department released two highly anticipated reports on Ferguson.

The first focused exclusively on the shooting itself, which sparked months of protest and debate in the community of Ferguson and nationwide. In the report, the Justice Department declared it would not pursue civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson. In supporting this course of action, the federal government reinforced an earlier Grand Jury decision not to indict Wilson, arguing the available evidence did not disprove the Officer’s account of this deadly encounter.

In October, I wrote an article in The Bates Student in which I argued that we have a moral responsibility to allow for all the facts of a specific case to come to light before declaring the guilt of any individual. I also maintained that any rush to judge the officer undermined the right of “presumed innocence and… to argue [one’s] defense in the court of law rather than on cable news.”

This principle, which has served as the hallmark of our judicial system, stands in stark contrast to the statements of those who were eager to judge the officer before the investigation could release its findings. For example, Al Sharpton confidently declared, “Michael Brown posed no deadly threat to the officer,” way before the known evidence could support or contradict this conclusion.

In addition, protests such as the die-in at Bates implicitly declared Wilson’s guilt by using the slogan, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” This phrase emerged from initial, and now arguably debunked, accounts of the shooting which reported that Michael Brown had raised his hands in the air and uttered this statement before being executed in the street by Darren Wilson. The focus on this slogan orients the purpose of the protest on this specific case rather than on a broader structural problem and inherently rejects the account given by Officer Wilson. Given the context, it is impossible to separate the slogan from the facts of this specific case.

Movements such as the die-in protest, so anxious to create a national symbol to support their cause, stake their legitimacy on the guilt of one individual. This is highly unfortunate because the facts surrounding one case are more or less irrelevant compared to broader questions regarding race relations and justice within our society. This strategy deflects focus from the debates we should be having and places too much importance on details which should be exclusively discussed in the courtroom.

In the second report released by the Justice Department, the federal government detailed evidence of systemic malpractices by the Ferguson police department which creates “clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans.” The findings demonstrate the danger when a police force which is concerned more with extracting revenue from its citizens than protecting them, is mixed with racial prejudice.

This moment offers both sides of the political spectrum something to be incensed about. While conservatives are more likely to focus on the danger of predatory government, liberals will warn about the pervasiveness of racism in our society. The report offers yet another opportunity to openly and honestly examine the sources of racial tension in communities such as Ferguson. To make real progress and prevent Ferguson from becoming just another political wedge issue, let’s remain focused on the more pertinent issue this time.

Professor Dauge-Roth wins 2015 Kroepsch Award


Alexandre Dauge-Roth, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies.

In 1985, Robert Kroepsch (Class of 1933) established and endowed The Ruth M. and Robert H. Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching to acknowledge those professors who go above and beyond at Bates College. Each year, previous winners decide a winner based on nominations from the student body. This year, the committee selected Alexandre Dauge-Roth, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies.

What makes a great teacher?

“I would say… several things… There’s not one thing that’s going to make it happen. I think one important thing is trying to meet students where they are… Here at Bates… we are teaching a whole range of classes… in each class you try to meet people where they are. For me, where they are is defined by their linguistic ability to speak French…You have to meet them linguistically so they can understand you. But then I think you also need to try to meet them where they are and what they are interested in in terms of topics. I have a lot of choice in what I can address in terms of material. It could be songs, books, whatever. So that what we are studying in another culture is also something that is relevant to them…The second [criteria] would be having high expectations for them and yourself as a teacher… It’s only if [students] invest [their time] fully is something going to happen. It means also that you as a teacher need to set up a certain rhythm and give feedback on a regular or fast basis… Third would be to be a good listener because often the questions that students ask may be the best feedback. About what you teach is understood. That allows you to modify the pace of the class… The fourth would be to be enthusiastic about what you do because if you don’t believe in what you teach then its not going to be exciting to students either.”

Why are you so passionate about French and Francophone Studies?

“The beginning of the passion is by default because I was born in [Switzerland]… I have to put it into reverse by learning English. English allowed me to meet and to discover a lot of cultured people and have a certain number of interactions that I would have not had had I only been a French speaker. Here, it’s the other way round with the students… There’s the cultural aspect. The French and Francophone world is about 50 countries, so there is a lot of diversity. I know maybe 5 percent of the Francophone world. I’m discovering facets of the francophone world with my students. When they do presentations I discover… things I didn’t know were there. So there’s the discovery aspect. Then there’s the intercultural awareness that one can gain… because you are dealing with cultures that are not your own because you cannot project your values [and] your world views. So you have to understand your own position as an American Student… There’s also the literary part… Literature is one venue for you to reshape, or re-envision, the way you see people, the world, issues, interactions.”

Why Bates?

“The question should be why have you chosen to stay at Bates?… What I like… is especially all of the work I’ve been able to do with the Harward center with Franco-Americans in Lewiston, with communities in Rwanda when I did short terms over there… There is still an ongoing association with Bates and a generation of orphans who survived a genocide of ’94… The socially engaged aspect is something that keeps me here and makes me happy to be here.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

“I was fortunate to have great students. I have a lot of pleasure to be pushed…with the students I have because the pleasure is to be shared in the class room. I am fortunate each year with a good number of students who have a pleasure to work and we all roll up [our] sleeves and dive into different topics.”

Professor Dauge-Roth will give a talk on Wednesday, March 18 on “The Transformative Power of Literary and Testimonial Encounters” in Pettengill Hall, Room G52 (Keck Classroom).

“The Poets and the Assassin” highlights women activists in the Middle East

In an evocative one-night-only performance, Bates Theater offered an impressive interpretation of Reza Jalali’s play, The Poets and the Assassin. Theater Department faculty member Katalin Vecsey directed five students in five monologues that unveil the strengths and struggles of Iranian women striving to discover their identities amidst the sometimes hypocritical and oppressive expectations of their deeply conservative society.

In his introduction to the play, Jalali writes, “Although women in Iran have historically been in the forefront of the national struggle for liberation, democracy, and human rights, and are among the most educated and progressive women in the Middle East, their stories of courage, resistance, and survival—as well as the strength and character of the century-old women’s movement in Iran—are unknown to most in the West.”

Why do these stories remain so untold? Often, there can be a dangerous line that performers dance over when they consider sharing stories that are tied so strongly to certain cultures, and there is always a fear that ‘foreign’ audiences will not be as receptive to the intended take-away message. In the case of many southern African dances, such as the Mandiani and the Zulu Warrior Dance, they are so familiar to the people of southern Africa and are deeply rooted in their culture’s history that it is rare to find these dances shared outside of those who can truly identify with the political and emotional undertones. However, Jalali asserts in his introduction to the piece that his intent for The Poets and the Assassin is to, “[unveil] the complex and contradictory plight of Iranian women caught in the battle between traditionalism and modernity, while challenging our assumptions about women in Iran and Islam.” His show was written to be shared with the uninformed, and for that, I applaud Bates, Kati, and the five women of the cast for tackling such an important endeavor.

As an avid member of the audience in many of Bates’ theater, dance, and music performances, I found myself not only intrigued by the narrative of the show, but also by the make-up of the individuals who came to see it. Amidst the overwhelmingly non-Bates student audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what attracted this specific group of people to attend the show. The monologues addressed highly contradictory beliefs surrounding women in Iranian culture, a perfect venue for Bates students to engage in the critical and controversial thinking we so often enjoy; yet these discussions can’t occur if too few students are present for the stories that inspire them. I am torn between feeling disappointed that so little of the Bates student community was able to hear such an important, eye-opening story and impressed that such an eclectic group of the non-student community dedicated their time to the hear truthful tales of the women portrayed.

On the importance of sharing this play with all communities, senior Shana Wallace comments, “stories are the building blocks of community. Using stories to retell and reconstruct identities and systems of power is something that can be applied to any community, really. My character serves as a beacon of what it means to do just that—and it is easy (and inspiring) to note the many people in each community who serve similar roles.” With her words in mind, I believe that another on-campus performance would have given the show an opportunity to gain the fuller recognition that it deserved.

Audience aside, it would not be fair to the six incredible women, who made this show possible, if I did not comment on their contributions to the performance. Vecsey, as a director, has repeatedly proven to create a unique space on the stage and continues to draw-out such honest performances from her cast, and her direction of The Poets and the Assassin proved no differently. Wallace further praises Vecsey for her “equal parts intensity and intentionality. [Kati] unfailingly cares for her actors and I have never felt such support from a director.”

Even more so, I was particularly impressed by the ability of the performers to weave aspects of humor into the serious nature of their monologues; Wallace as the fabled Scheherazade and junior Rebeccah Bassell as ‘That Veil Thingy’ portrayed some of my favorite moments during the show, capturing an essence of light-heartedness and intensity, vulnerability and strength, and incredible growth over the course of their monologues.

With regards to the importance of the discussions addressed by the character women, Wallace said, “I hope that the play will bring to light certain systems of oppression against women—both in Iran and elsewhere—that have been perpetuated for an incomprehensible amount of time. Poets teaches about women’s rights in a frank, unforgiving way, but with beauty and grace. I hope that the people who attend leave with new knowledge about these systems and the ways in which they include certain people and exclude others in painful, personal ways.”

Sit-in draws scant attendance

A small group of students staged a “sit-in” at Pettengill Hall on Monday, urging President Clayton Spencer and Dean Josh McIntosh to sign a contract that aimed at increasing communication channels between students and the administration.

There were three main goals of the contract; reinstating the Dean’s Advisory Committee, creating a monthly open forum in which students can raise questions and concerns, and finding a way to communicate news with students that is more respectful and more efficient than an announce email.

“Josh was very open to the conversation, and agreed to the context of the contract,” junior Tommy Fitzgerald said. “[Vice President for Finance and Administration] Geoffrey Swift was accommodating to the students while waiting for Dean McIntosh to finish a meeting, and overall it was a really positive response.”

President Spencer was not present. While Dean McIntosh agreed with the stipulations of the contract in principle, he did not agree to sign the document.

“We want to open up a bigger highway between the administration and the student body,” Fitzgerald said.

After meeting in the Pettengill Hall Atrium, a small group of students ventured over to Lane Hall, where they waited to present the contract to Dean McIntosh, who was finishing a meeting.

“My initial response is good,” McIntosh said to the students in attendance when presented with the contract. “My question is how does what you are proposing fit into the landscape of student governance?”

The students present made it clear that the biweekly meetings are for all students and that there needs to be greater communication with students regarding changes that are made by the administration.

“I want to see biweekly meetings for students who may not want to actually speak to Josh and have the administration announce, face-to-face, what is going on,” senior Nicole Schlichting said. “This forum can also be used by the administration to fill us in on issues.”

“I’m here because of the departure of Dean Gurney and Tannenbaum,” senior Mark Charest said. “Dean Gurney can relate to students and has benefited me personally. I think students will suffer if a new person is brought in because it takes time to acclimate to the student body and a lot of new people.”

The attendees of the sit-in also felt that President Spencer’s email on Monday was a step in the right direction, signaling that the administration is willing to hear student voices when making decisions.

“I want to improve upon the culture we have without eliminating faculty members and social events,” Schlichting said. “Have students be more involved in the decision-making process.”

McIntosh said that the administration is already working to open avenues of communication with students.

Remembering Dorothea Dix

March 8th was International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to recognizing women’s economic, political, and social achievements, something often forgotten or ignored in history.

Among the various accounts of women who had incredible impacts in their respective fields, one particular account stood out. In a country where there is still a large stigma against mental illness, one Maine-born individual stood out more than any other to initiate activism for those with mental illnesses.

Born in 1802 in Hampden, Maine, Dorothea Dix revolutionized the perception surrounding those suffering from various psychiatric disorders. From 1840-1841, Dix conducted a thorough investigation in Massachusetts in order to further learn about the way the state dealt with these patients. In a heated report to the state legislature, Dix wrote, “I proceed, Gentlemen, to briefly call your attention to the present state of Insane Persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.”

Her next investigation brought her to New Jersey, where she proceeded to visit jails and all the counties in the state. After her extensive exploration, she urged the state to construct an appropriate treatment and care center for many of those suffering from various mental disorders. Writing a powerful piece about a renowned state jurist who had begun suffering from a psychiatric disorder in his old age, she was able to make a case strong enough to get her report introduced to the Senate.

Less than a month later, a committee was formed to further plans to create a facility. A group of politicians opposed the measure, fearing the taxes that would be needed for this facility. Upon learning of this, Dix took further action. She wrote letters and editorials, continuing to lobby for her cause. During the day she met with numerous state legislatures. During the evenings, she would conduct meetings in her house. The act was read for the last time on March 14th, 1845, and the bill was subsequently passed eleven days later for the establishment of a state facility.

Traveling from New Hampshire to Louisiana, Dix continued her investigations, recording thoroughly the conditions in which mentally ill patients were treated. Along the way, Dix was able to open the first mental hospital in Illinois, helped form the first public mental hospital in Pennsylvania, and three hospitals in North Carolina.

After passing both houses of the U.S. Congress, the culmination of her work, the “Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane”, was vetoed by President Franklin Pierce, citing that it is the duty of the states to provide for social welfare. Frustrated, Dix left the country to investigate maltreatment overseas in England and Scotland. If that was not enough, she managed to also assist in the rescue of a shipwreck in Nova Scotia.

During the start of the American Civil War, Dix was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses by the Union Army. Dix’s team of nurses was often one of the only in the field to provide care for both wounded Union and Confederate soldiers. One of Dix’s nurses, Julia Susan Wheelock, commented, “Many of these were Rebels. I could not pass them by neglected. Though enemies, they were nevertheless helpless, suffering human beings”.

Given the fact that one woman was able to accomplish more than what many bodies of Congress cannot, it remains baffling that Dorothea Dix has not received the praise and recognition she deserved. Raising social consciousness, Dix was able to wake up a nation that was fast asleep, one that mistreated and neglected the thousands across the nation that suffered the most profound mental disorders.

The most appropriate way, however, to celebrate Dix’s work would not be to simply teach about her and other incredible female leaders the world has seen, but to continue the important work they have started. In order to create a new wave of empowered generation, it is of the utmost importance to emphasize that the fight is not over. In what is often considered one of the world’s most progressive countries, the United States currently has more mentally ill individuals in jails and prisons than they have in hospitals receiving care. Whether it is due to a lack of funding or an inability to understand many of these psychiatric disorders and treat them appropriately, in 2015, this remains a frightening and inexcusable statistic.

In order to continue the legacy of these incredible women it is of the utmost importance that we begin by recognizing them for the work that they have done and continue in their footsteps, redefining the society we live in as advocates of social justice.

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