The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: March 2015 (Page 2 of 8)

Brad to speak at Baccalaureate

Brad McArthur will have to take a break from conducting the orchestra that is the omelet station to speak at this year’s Baccalaureate. At the Senior Dinner this February, students nominated faculty or staff members who have a connection with the student body to deliver the speech.

This is not the first time Brad has been nominated, Baccalaureate Planning Committee Chair Eliza Kaplan ’15  told The Student, but this is his first time winning—other candidates for this year were Politics Professors Bill Corlett and Stephen Engel, Sociology Professor Emily Kane, and English Professor Robert Farnsworth. All nominees are consulted before the election proceeds.

“It [has been] very fulfilling and very rewarding the last few years, and suddenly they nominated me to be speaker,” Brad said. “I was thrilled that they thought… to bring me up.”

The Baccalaureate speech used to be delivered by staff members, while a member of the faculty spoke at the Senior Dinner. A few years ago the faculty speech was eliminated from the Senior Dinner, and the Baccalaureate speech was opened to both faculty and staff members.

The Baccalaureate Planning Committee, overseen by the Multifaith Chaplaincy and comprised of members of the senior class, helps to coordinate the event as well as facilitate speaker elections.

“It’s important to include both faculty and staff because there is such a wide range of people at Bates that have meaningful, impactful relationships with students,” Acting Multifaith Chaplain Emily Wright-Magoon said. “We all cherish the relationships we are privileged to create with you all, inside and outside the classroom.”

Brad first joined Bates Dining Services in March of 1996 as what Commons workers call a “redcoat,” or beverage worker. He has watched Bates grow out of Old Commons, build Garcelon Field, and go through multiple Presidents. He moved to the grill station around ten years ago, working the well-oiled breakfast machine, where many students begin their mornings.

Brad’s connection with students begins when he arrives at 6:00 AM. The regular, half-and-half, and egg white omelet pitchers remain in the same position each day. Brad coordinates chaos using the “line method.”

“The first thing to go on is the first thing to come off… I do everything the same—in line order,” Brad said. “That is really the only way we can keep track of it.”

The omelet station may seem like a collection of half-asleep students, but Brad acknowledges the little moments that happen there. Many students develop personal relationships with Brad throughout their four years; he watches them grow, which is partially why many students chose him to be speak at an event that ushers in the end of their Bates career.

“It is great to see freshmen come in a little shy and timid and you watch them through the years [as they] gain maturity and confidence,” Brad said.  “I have two kids of my own, so it is nice to see some come in very uneasy and skittish and you try to give them a little confidence. You then see them when you are seniors and you think, ‘Can you believe you were worried about this and this and this?’ But now they are worried about the real world, but they will do well.”

The Student decided it was only fair to ask Brad how he liked his eggs.

“I like omelets,” Brad divulged. “I like the Western omelet the best, with the vegetables and the ham and the meat, which is probably why I don’t mind doing them [laughs]. People ask ‘How can you eat an omelet?’ and I say that I like them and it doesn’t bother me.”

Taking responsibility

There has been a lot of backlash from the student body against the administration regarding all of the “restructuring” that has been occurring in the last year. Students are worried about where the school is going, what Bates will look like in 10 years, the loss of student autonomy, the role of security, lack of transparency between the student body and administration, some changes amongst staff and faculty, and last but certainly not least, how a lot of these changes are being conveyed (the widespread but seldom read good old announce emails).

At the beginning of the year I spoke on behalf of many students at the forum between President Spencer, Dean McIntosh, and the student body. There was a lot of negative energy being directed at the administration and people were demanding answers. However, over the last few months, particularly during my time working with faculty, staff, and other students on the Campus Culture Working Group, I have thought about the transition that is occurring at Bates, what it really means, and why it is happening in this particular way.

Students (myself included) have been quick to point fingers at the administration for making decisions that the students perceive as antithetical to what Bates is. The elimination of “traditions”, stricter enforcement on the weekends, and the fear of the loss of our autonomy as students is what rests on the minds of many students. However, many students are not introspectively criticizing our behavior, which has caused these changes to come about. We destroy Bates property in our dorms and academic buildings every weekend. We get transported to the hospital from intoxication to the point where our lives become endangered. We disrupt the Lewiston community so much that our neighbors feel as though they must call the police to be able to have peace and quiet in their own homes and on their streets. We make sure that every weekend our beautiful quad is littered with trash. We leave our common rooms in disarray, expecting our staff to clean up after us. We make our peers uncomfortable through bias incidents on campus. We are so loud that we cause our own friends to call security on us because they can’t sleep for their 8 am exam tomorrow. We sexually assault our schoolmates, the very people who comprise this community that everyone calls so special, caring, and close knit. People complain of how the image the administration puts forth to prospective students is not in line with what Bates is becoming. Likewise, are we acting in a manner that is in accordance with how we talk about Bates to prospective students, family, and friends? It is not as if all of us engage in every one of these examples of misconduct, but the fact that it happens here shows that we can do better. Whether that pertains to personal behavior, intervening where these situations are likely to unfold, initiating conversations to spark awareness, or just having your friend’s back to be the voice of reason that avoids these situations, we can all contribute.

What troubles me is how we can be so quick to point fingers at the administration, claiming that they are ruining what Bates is and not involving us in the conversation. However, the majority of students aren’t thinking of how if we didn’t engage in this behavior, or allow the circumstances to arise in which this behavior does take place, perhaps the administration would not feel the need to be the ones to enact these changes. If we as students change our culture for the better, and improve on this incredible and unique community that we have, then the administration will not have to step in and do what they think is necessary to create a safer and healthier space here.

None of us is perfect. I’m not perfect. I am not a model of what it means to be the best Bates student who embodies our community values every second of every day. That is why we have each other so that when I am not acting how a perfect Bates student should be acting, I rely on my friends to remind me, or to lend me a hand. Likewise, I do the same for them.

With regard to dorm damage, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, misconduct in the community, and a general lack of respect for our peers, I would say Bates fares better than a lot of other schools, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for mediocrity. It is up to the students to take this community, this social fabric that everyone speaks of, and build upon it to make it even stronger. We can be the model for other schools of how college should be, rather than just accepting that these negative occurrences are simply a part of college, and always will be. We should not be content with where we are just because it is the norm nation-wide, but rather we must take the initiative to become an even stronger community where we not only say that we care deeply about one another, but act as such. If we as students make this our goal, and lead the way toward a better campus, there is no policy, no programming, no change of faculty or administration, and no elimination of events that can stop us from achieving this goal. It is up to us.

Instead of channeling our energy into what the administration is doing wrong or why we are not content, we the students must focus on what we can do, collectively and individually, to make this campus healthier, safer, and more enjoyable for everyone who chooses to make Bates their home for four years. Will we sit back idly, let the administration try to make these changes, and be like other student bodies who simply accept that these negative events and experiences will happen to people, because it is what always happens in college? Or… will we take responsibility and take the initiative to make this campus one where everyone is included, everyone is safe, and everyone graduates thinking that Bates really was the right choice? It is up to us.

Filmboard preview: The Theory of Everything

Adapted from the memoir by Stephen Hawking’s ex-wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, The Theory of Everything takes the viewer through a biopic Hawking’s extraordinary life. The movie was directed by James Marsh, and he does an impeccable job of capturing Hawking as the famous theoretical theorist, but also as a father and husband. However, despite the impressive directing and cinematography, Eddie Redmayne, who plays Hawking, absolutely steals the show.

What makes this movie so poignant is Redmayne’s ability to capture Hawking in all his mannerisms. It is no easy feat to embody a person suffering from a motor neuron disease, yet Redmayne finds a way. Co-star Felicity Jones flawlessly plays Jane Wilde Hawking. The unyielding compassion that the real Wilde had for Hawking comes through in Jones’ portrayal, but as I watched the movie I felt as though I never learned anything about Wilde. By the end, all the viewer knows about her is how well she took care of her husband, and then eventually moved on. There should have been more of a back story to Wilde; we see her and Hawking meet, and from there everything happens too quickly.

Soon, Hawking is diagnosed with his motor neuron disease that the doctors said would kill him in two years, and then suddenly they are getting married. Of course a sense of urgency stems from the grim future for Hawking, but it still seemed all so overwhelmingly fast. However, this is a minor critique. It does not take away from the story as a whole, which is of the upmost importance when creating a biopic. Another minor criticism that I had was the negligible role that Wilde and Hawking’s children played in their lives. It felt slightly odd to not really feature the children throughout the movie.

In the end though, all of these tiny critiques don’t matter because the movie so eloquently captures Hawking’s life in a span of two hours. Most importantly, the movie also documents the profound, earth shattering theories that Hawking produces, yet even though his ideas of black holes are fascinating, what really struck me was his thoughts on human life and purpose.

Toward the end while he is giving a lecture, he says, “[t]here should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.” Despite his devastating setbacks, Hawking still believes in the beauty of human life, and this is what makes the movie marvelous.

The Theory of Everything is an undoubtedly remarkable piece of art that will be remembered for more than its awards and accolades; the passionate acting from both Redmayne and Jones make the movie truly phenomenal. This is a film that everyone must see whether they are a passionate Hawking fan or not.

Mixed bag for tennis

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Bobcat tennis teams hosted the Colby Mules in their first conference matchups of the 2015 spring season. Both teams certainly put the right foot forward on the inevitably arduous journey of NESCAC play.

The men’s and women’s teams were both victorious, as the men won 6-3 on Tuesday and the women triumphed 8-1 on Wednesday. The matches were held indoors in light of the frigid temperatures and windy conditions last week, but this appeared to be an enabling rather than deterring factor influencing the play of the Bobcats. The men won two of three doubles matches and four of six singles matches, while the women dominated across the board, only dropping one singles match in their victory. In the matches the women’s team won on Wednesday, they only lost 12 games combined.

“Our NESCAC matches are the most important, and it was great to see the guys compete the way they did during our win over Colby,” said two-time All-American Pierre Planche ’15 of the men’s team performance on Tuesday. Planche played at first doubles and first singles for Bates on Tuesday, falling in both matches despite the team’s victory.

While the women’s team had the weekend off, the men travelled south for three out of conferences matches and slightly warmer weather. They played in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Thursday and Friday, against N.C. Wesleyan and Mary Washington, falling 7-2 and 6-2 respectively. The redeeming moments from these challenging losses came from the stellar performances by Patrick Ordway ’17 on Thursday against N.C. Wesleyan, and Christopher Ellis ’17 on Friday against Mary Washington.

Ordway teamed up with Henry Lee ’15 to secure a second doubles victory, and then followed up with a singles victory in straight sets against N.C. Wesleyan. Ellis and Planche were victorious at first doubles on Friday, with Ellis also picking up a win at number two singles.

Before travelling back to Lewiston, the Bobcats played Johns Hopkins in Baltimore on Saturday in another challenging matchup. Bates fell 8-1, with the lone victory coming from Planche and Ellis at the first doubles spot. Three Bobcats went to three sets in their singles matches, belying the seemingly dominant 8-1 margin of victory.

Both teams host Brandeis and Wesleyan this weekend, looking forward to another important conference match up.

Planche commented on the team’s mentality as the heart of the season gets underway.

“Moving forward, we’re just taking it one day at a time by focusing on our process rather than seeking results. I’m confident that if we keep competing the way we do and continue to come together as a team, we can expect to achieve great things this weekend and moving forward.”

Chris Borland, the NFL’s headache

The sport of football and the NFL are being questioned once again. Former NFL linebacker Chris Borland told the San Francisco 49ers that he would be retiring due to his concerns over the long-term effects of football related head trauma. He is only 24 years-old. Borland’s decision comes as a shock to most, not only because he is retiring after his rookie season, but also since he was the only highlight in a weak 49ers defense, leading the team in tackles. His choice to leave due to fear of head trauma has sparked another uproar amongst former players and others who deem football too dangerous.

In 2013, the NFL reached a settlement with 15,000 former players over concussion-related brain injuries. A plethora of former players sued the NFL for covering up the risks of concussion while praising and profiting off the pain and big hits their players were taking. There are reportedly many players whose death may have been related to head trauma; the Department of Veterans’ Affair brain repository in Bedford, Massachusetts found chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 101 of the 128 players they examined.

The NFL has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and ensures the player’s health is a concern of theirs. Some notable players whose brains showed signs of CTE were Junior Seau, the legendary linebacker who shot himself in the chest in 2012, and Jovan Belcher, a former linebacker who killed his girlfriend and then himself at the Kansas City Chiefs facilities in 2012. Incidents such as these have raised the question whether football is worth it? Wll Borland’s decision really get America thinking about the major risks and health concerns of football?

I am a huge fan of football and love the grit and grind that goes into the game. I love the big hits, I love when Marshawn Lynch goes into “Beast Mode”and runs over defenders, and I just love the game in general. I was very shocked when Chris Borland made his decision, but I understand why he did. I do not think football will ever go away, and I do believe that the league is constantly finding ways to minimize concussions by upgrading equipment, doing more research on CTE and creating stricter guidelines on player’s head injuries. I could never be as upset with a player leaving the game as some people are at Chris Borland, because I recognize that he is looking out for his well being and his family. As much as I would like to see him play, I imagine the thought of leaving the game would cross my mind if I were in his position.

At the end of the day, I will always support the NFL and will be a fan until the end. There are some things that come with playing in the NFL, and unfortunately the risk of long-term head trauma seems to be one of them. But I do think there needs to be some accountability on the NFL, as the current settlement is not enough for player safety. Former players have said they did not come out of the game when they absorbed big hits to the head, and that they were expected to stay on the field and play through it, which is obviously a ruthless practice on the part of the league and the individual teams.

Even with the progress of player safety since the 1970s, it is not enough to have people like Chris Borland question if playing the greatest sport in America for money is worth more than the risk of their health. More parents are refusing to let their kids play football now, and even Lebron James has spoken out against his kids playing football (Lebron was an All-State wide receiver in high school). The battle between the NFL and players regarding player safety does not look like it will go away anytime soon. For players, it comes down to trusting the league and their progression to protect the players or trusting the correlation of CTE in former players and the incidents that were caused by long-term brain trauma.

Ephs Stomp ’Cats: Men’s and women’s acrosse fall to Williams

Both Bates lacrosse programs came up short against Williams this weekend, as the teams did battle in both Williamstown and Lewiston.

The women fell to visiting Williams 10-9 in overtime, while the men couldn’t hang with the home team, losing 11-5. Both Williams teams are ranked among the top 20 nationally, with the men at number 12 and the women at number 20, and the Ephs proved tough matchups for Bates.

The women found themselves in a 6-2 hole by halftime, but weren’t ready to call it quits at the break. They could have folded, but instead Bates stayed tough and kept chipping away. The Ephs were keeping the ’Cats at bay and remained in control with a 9-6 lead with 7 minutes to go in the game, but goals from freshman Teal Otley, junior Suzannah Smith, and sophomore Kaileigh Maguire in just over one minute closed the gap, as Bates clawed back and were able to force overtime. It seemed that the home team had regained momentum and were in position to steal a NESCAC victory when Williams’ Bridget Malicki scored the game winner and her second of the day.

The ’Cats were led by junior Moriah Greenstein, Smith, and sophomore Joanie Oates, each of whom notched two goals in the effort. Junior Hannah Jeffrey made 12 saves for a Bates defense that subdued the Williams attack in the second half.

Junior attacker Emma Brinkman remarked on Bates’ slow start and inability to finish. “We need to figure out how to play a full 60 minutes,” she said.

Brinkman also echoed the sentiment in the locker room of a still confident squad after a tough loss. “We have the potential to win the rest of our games. We just need to put all the little aspects together,” she says. That sounds like a recipe for victory, but it may be easier said than done. The Bates women have a chance to get back at it with a home matchup Wednesday at 5:00 PM against Tufts, and you can bet they’ll be right in the thick of it again.

While the women clawed back at Williams, the Bates men didn’t have much of an answer for the Ephs. Falling behind 5-0, Bates never really got into a rhythm offensively.

Senior captain Conor Henrie commented, “It was probably the worst possible start you can have on the road.”

Coming from their first NESCAC victory last weekend, the men were confident that they could string together a couple of wins to kick-start the season. The Ephs had another plan in mind, coming out hot and keeping the ’Cats scoreless until two minutes into the 2nd quarter.

Bates was able to slow Williams’ attack, holding them to just six goals in the rest of the contest behind a stellar effort from junior Joe Faria in the cage (15 saves). But the offense couldn’t pull their weight. Out of the five goals Bates scored, three from junior top scorer Jack Allard and one each from the other attack men, senior Jack Strain, and sophomore Andrew Melvin. The midfield continued to struggle, producing no goals and accounting for only two assists. The ’Cats had fewer shots than Williams (42-35) and narrowly lost the ground ball battle (31-30).

Henrie, a member of the midfield unit, expressed disappointment in the team’s performance, stating, “We were excited and prepared to give Williams a serious test, but coming out as flat as we did never allowed for it.”

The number 12 team in the country certainly was beatable, but Bates just couldn’t rise to the challenge. Henrie, like he must, is remaining optimistic about the team going forward, and realizes that they can learn from this experience, commenting, “That type of loss helps remind us how hard we need to work every day in practice. We’re looking forward to turning it around with two games this week.”

Their backs are against the wall now, midway through the season with just one win in the conference to show for it. Hopefully the Bates men can improve from the loss, and pull it together for a road game against Keene State on Wednesday and another NESCAC match-up at home against Hamilton on Saturday. It will be important for the Bobcats to avoid another in-conference loss next weekend.

Bates as a billboard

As Batesies, we often see ourselves as existing within a bubble. This reference is of course not limited to jokes about how Bates should have more to do. I think it finds itself so ingrained that it is often forgotten that such a reference could help us to contextualize the college within wider society in such ways that could tell us, as students in an elite academic institution, quite a bit about ourselves.

I think that, all too often, we view the goings-on at Bates as being separate from those in the rest of the nation, or that our two histories are somehow not inextricably intertwined. The “Bates Bubble” seems to comprise Bates as a community, with functions, people, and financial and social problems separate those in the wider community of Lewiston-Auburn, all our own, and without any relevance to the rest of the United States.

What integrity can this bubble have, when we have so often felt its bursting by national tragedies and political struggles? Take, for example, the recent hopes of the LePage Administration to tax non-profits. Does this not imply drastic consequences throughout the Bates community, including students and faculty? Tuition, employment capabilities, and services of both Bates and the local hospitals could all be financially, and therefore institutionally, harmed in service to the Lewiston-Auburn community. There could be some very serious consequences for students that are outside the power of Bates itself; we are not an autonomous institution, we are influenced in a very real way by forces outside the easily perceived.

Consider the recent events at the University of California at Irvine, where a student council, believing that the UCI student government should operate as a sovereign entity, voted to ban all national flags (including the U.S. flag) from the lobby of its offices. Their vote was overturned, and the American flag continued to fly. Immediately thereafter angry patriots, alumni, and God-fearing, red-blooded, American flag-wearing Americans descended upon the campus, calling for blood. Kill-lists for the seven students have made their way across the internet, causing these students to hide on their own campus from some crazy nationalists.

Is this not a sign that the fate of the American college/university is at the hands of national society? How free-thinking (or even democratic) can an institution be if the very right to dissenting thought through democratic venues is conditional?

Perhaps the most pervasive institution in America is that of global capitalism. The two above examples, in my logic, can both be traced to the economic underpinnings which both concretize and transcend U.S. borders. Capitalism is as rooted in the historical trajectory of Bates as it is in the history of each of our individual families, and indeed in the very function of our role, as students, within society.

Is not American higher education, at its most elemental, an economic institution? The barrier to entry is usually economic: either s(he) cannot afford college, or his/her parents could not have afforded to raise their child in a society which would prepare them academically for the rigor of academia. The expected outcomes are most often thought of in economic terms. Consider the institution of the internship, or the platitudinous “what are you going to do with your life” question we are constantly asked by society. Even better, consider the ways in which the “emancipating potential of the liberal arts” are now being packaged up at Bates as “Practitioner-Taught Courses,” and “Purposeful Work” (as if some work is not purposeful in the liberal arts context).

I am arguing that our conceptualization of the Bates Bubble as insular from the rest of society makes an adequate critique of higher education as an institution impossible. Evidence like the historical disenfranchisement of African Americans shows that Bates has been complacent in the system of structural inequality. These connections can be best understood in the conceptualization of Bates as an historically economic entity.

In 2006 Brown University set up a panel to explore its historical relationship to the slave trade. It is forgotten that, while founded by “abolitionists” and funded with money made from Civil War textile production, Bates had a quota on racial minorities (including African Americans and Jews), and had a set proportion of two-fifths women to men. Milt Lindholm, the Dean of Admissions at Bates from 1944-1976, toyed with implementing racist and sexist admissions policies. He is now commemorated with the name of our admissions office and a portrait gazing into the remains of Milt’s, juxtaposing a broken printer. The abolitionists that founded this college must be rolling over in their graves in a way that current Bates students, forgetting historical fact, are not. The historical arc of higher education surely follows that of society in general: we forget things.

To understand Bates on its most fundamental, economic level provides several fascinating insights into the relationship of institutions like Bates to structural inequality on a wider scale.

We need only look at Bates’ marketing strategy to see that the continuation of Bates as an institution is dependent on the perpetual flow of Batesies. Bates is far more dependent on parents, donors, and alumni than they are on current students. This is why our rooms can leak while prospective students and their parents are marched through the dorms at 280 College St. This is why Bates can shove three first-years in a cubby in Page. This is why the college allows for a broken advising system where students fall through the cracks, all while potential paying customers carefully avoid Frye Street as they weave their way from Lindholm House to the Chapel. As a marketing strategy, the image of Bates is paramount; the rhetorical iteration (the “discourse” of Bates) has become the only significant reality: it works (the money keeps coming).

Why is it that most student protest at Bates goes undocumented on the College website, the moneymaker of the College? As an institution reliant on rhetorical iterations of itself, anything that goes against the advertised top-down status quo, should be ignored and forgotten. It is no accident that student protest such as the die-in earlier this fall was used as marketing on the Bates.edu homepage (the first point of contact for most parents of prospective students): it showed how “Bates creates future leaders who stand up for social justice in the world.” On the other hand, student protest against the administration (coal divestment, public art policy) is quickly dispatched, often before the first tour goes by…

Is it possible that, by confining the significance of the certain silences imposed by institutions like the Bates “Bubble,” our generation is being indoctrinated with a spirit of revolt without the possibility of revolution? Students are trained to speak the same broken language of democratic politics which have been nullified by the institutional machinations of global capitalism within Bates. If we are to understand our role as students and activists in society, we need to do away with the “Bubble.” Just as we are single neurons within the societal mind, so too is Bates a society existing as the product of the history in which it came to be.

Why Bibi didn’t change his position on a two-state solution

Last week, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu achieved a resounding victory for himself and the Likud party. Although most polls showed the Prime Minister trailing his Zionist Union rivals in the days leading up to the election, Netanyahu defied popular expectations, winning 29 seats for his party in the Knesset, the Israeli equivalent of Congress.

Most political observers have attributed this late comeback surge partially to Netanyahu’s deliberate pandering to his base in the final days of the campaign, drawing away support from other far-right parties and providing Netanyahu with enough votes to garner a plurality.

The largest and most consequential part of this strategy was the Prime Minister’s comments pledging that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch, a seeming reversal from his 2009 endorsement of a two-state solution. This statement sparked a large backlash internationally, including a warning from the Obama administration that the United States would “re-assess our options” with regards to its policy towards Israel. This reassessment may include a formal endorsement of a Palestinian state at the United Nations, which the United States has previously blocked because of its preference to achieve this goal through diplomatic negotiations with Israel.

Two days following his election victory, in an interview with MSNBC, Netanyahu further clarified his views on the subject of Palestinian statehood. Arguing that his statements did not alter his position, Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful two-state solution while maintaining that the current posture of any potential Palestinian government will make this feat impossible during his term.

While Netanyahu’s dual-statements are clearly a reflection of him playing to different audiences, something that should be familiar to American politicians, he is correct that they are not necessarily inconsistent. The continuing failure to end the conflict peacefully has, at least in recent years, nothing to do with Israel’s reluctance to make necessary sacrifices.

In the last fifteen years, Israel has repeatedly made every plausible concession in each series of negotiations, including offering Jerusalem as a divided capital while the Palestinian leadership has consistently refused to come to the bargaining table in good faith. The only conditions where Israel has rightfully drawn the line, on the refusal of the right of return, the assurance of demilitarized Palestinian state and the acceptance of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, are so essential to Israel’s security and continued survival that no responsible Prime Minister would ever concede them.

The only problem impeding a peaceful resolution is that Israel’s negotiating partner, Mohammed Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, has neither the willingness nor the authority to enforce a meaningful and lasting agreement. That’s why, even when Netanyahu called Abbas’s bluff and agreed to his demand of a settlement freeze in 2010, the Palestinian leader still refused to come to the bargaining table. In the latest round of talks lead by Secretary of State John Kerry, it was once again the Palestinians, not Israel, who walked away from negotiations.

If Israel were to remove its security forces from the West Bank, it would likely meet the same fate as the Gaza Strip. Following Israeli unilateral withdrawal from this area in 2006, Hamas, now a partner with Abbas, was elected and took power. Since taking control of Gaza, this openly genocidal terrorist group has murdered and oppressed its Arab political opponents, killed gays, continuously fired rockets at Israeli civilians, used its own people as human shields, and built a series of tunnel networks to wreak havoc on Israeli towns. Hamas’s terrorist acts began the Gaza War last summer, a conflict which was tragic and devastating for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Hamas’s likely ascension to power in the West Bank, given its track record and superior organization, would place Israel’s basic security at great risk and ensure both sides remain on permanent war footing. The terrorist group would have ideal strategic position to pour rockets down upon Israel’s most populous cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel would have no choice but to respond militarily, ensuring great Israeli and Palestinian loss of life. Netanyahu or any Israeli prime minister, for that matter, cannot allow the creation of a Palestinian state at this point of time because doing so would be greatly destructive for both peoples.

As demonstrated by the election results, the Israeli public understands the tragic dilemma it faces. The question now is whether President Obama fails to grasp this clear dynamic or is simply using Netanyahu’s statements as an excuse to further his longstanding goal of creating “daylight” between our two countries. Both troubling arguments explain why Israelis believe that their nation will never be secure as long as Obama occupies his office and why, therefore, they have returned his greatest foreign adversary to his.

Artist Watch: Set designer Guen Figueroa on creating the world for ‘Breasts of Tiresias’

Anyone who saw Breasts of Tiresias knows that the magnificence of the production lies partly in the fact that it was an immersive theater experience in a Bates-owned house. The walls of each room were detailed with anything from Afghans to bubble wrap, from tin trays to funhouse mirrors. And those were just the walls…the set-dressing spanned technological decades, and allowed space for the people in them to have full-fledged breakdowns, instigate fights and musical numbers, start revolutions, and witness births. There were many challenges to the performance, so I decided to ask set designer Guen Figueroa a few questions about her overall process. The following are excerpts from an e-mail chain with Figueroa about her thesis.

The Bates Student: Did the script lend itself easily to a particular stylistic image or did you have to work with Nick to invent an image that supported the script?

Guen Figueroa: Well starting off, we knew the show was written to be done in the style of surrealism…it was actually the show in which Apollinaire coined the word “surrealism.” With that in mind, we took the author’s design notes as mere suggestions and decided to create our own world.

TBS: The house, as I understand it, was a total blank slate for you. Where did you even start when you thought about the design?

GF: We actually didn’t get into the house until much later in the process! Nick and I worked together to create a dialogue for the show and bounced back and forth words that propelled the show’s design. Words thrown around included “old vs. new,” “domestic,” “playroom.”

TBS: What other productions (site-specific or not) inspired your design of the house?

GF: Of course, being a site-specific theater piece we looked at Sleep No More and Then She Fell. After that, a lot of my research was done by scanning through the art books in Ladd. This show was very true to devised theater in that a lot of ideas were collaborated throughout the process, and the design was deepened every week as we learned more about the world we wanted to create and the characters that inhabit it.

TBS: In the play, each room of the house has its own personality or identity. It is home to a particular scene. What common threads do you see linking each of these rooms?

GF: I feel like I designed each room to work around the characters. The kitchen and the living room were meant to be very domestic and almost stifling with all the afghans. The funhouse mirror room had a game quality to it but also represented Lacouf and Presto’s battle with reality—are we in Paris or are we in Zanzibar?

TBS: What was a surprise when working with the house?

GF: My brain wanted to design for a much larger space, and I would always be surprised by how much smaller a room was when I got to it in person.

TBS: Do you see more site-specific work in your future? Why or why not?

GF: Definitely!  It was such a fun and unique experience.

TBS: What is one piece of advice that you would give to a future student looking into site specific work?

GF: In the beginning there will definitely be a lot of unanswered questions, but start with the things you know and go from there. It all fills itself in eventually.

TBS: What will happen to the house now that the play is over?

GF: There were rumors that it would be demolished but we found that to be false, so it is being restored to its original blank slate. For what, I’m not sure.

TBS: Did you (or do you plan to) keep anything from the set?

GF: After hanging all the afghans I definitely wanted one of those! I also took a fun house mirror we made for my suite because the shop didn’t have use for it. All the pictures that were taken on the Polaroid were nice souvenirs for the cast.

A fresh start for Bates women’s volleyball and new coach Melissa DeRan

After last fall’s tough season, Bates women’s volleyball will enter a new era next fall with coach Melissa DeRan. Each and every player on the volleyball team is ecstatic about her arrival.

First-year Lisa Slivken said, “She is everything our program could have hoped for. We all can’t wait for next season to start! Her enthusiasm and energy will bring the type of change we need to be successful in the fall.”

I had the opportunity to talk in-depth with Coach DeRan about a variety of topics including her upbringing, previous jobs, and approach to coaching. Coach DeRan grew up in the Midwest, where volleyball was second only to walking. Whether or not she would play was never a question. After being the water girl for her sisters and starting to really play in fourth grade, she can’t remember a time when volleyball wasn’t a huge part of her life.

After being recruited to play at Murray State University in Kentucky, she began to understand that higher education is something she always wanted to be a part of. When volleyball and that aspiration came together, she felt that “realizing [she] could do this for a living was one of the best moments of [her] life.”

Coach DeRan most recently spent five years coaching at Union College in New York, and previously coached at St. Lawrence University, Tiffin University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Coach DeRan grew up working with her sisters on a farm owned by her family, where she raised cattle and picked tomatoes. In addition to volleyball, work is one of her earliest memories. It is very obvious that Coach DeRan will uphold a work ethic that is central to the values of each individual player as well as the team as a whole. When the team met with her in the early stages of her interviewing process, they were excited by the intensity and vigor they knew she would bring to practice and games.

First-year Jacqueline Forney says of the team, “We want to pack the gym with supporters next season, a loud crowd will really help us win games.” It seems that Melissa DeRan can create an atmosphere that inspires not only us, but also the Bates community in turn.

After being 0-10 in league competition, the players are looking for a season that will turn their spirits around. Team goals in the past have included measurable improvements like point differentials, and limiting the number of errors committed per game.

Coach DeRan has similar goals in mind. She believes that if the team “does the right thing in practice, the wins are going to come.” She is more focused on the “strong and intense focus” the team will give in practice, and the results that will come from that. Coach DeRan adheres to the title of the book by famous football coach Bill Walsh in her approach: “the score will take care of itself.”

Whenever Coach DeRan talks about the coming season, or volleyball in general, anyone can see her passion come alive. When asked about her coaching philosophy, she was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. It is always hard to respond to this question, because there are so many factors that could affect the answer. The point she articulated had to do with the relationship between being a good player and being a good person. She said, “A great program comes from quality human beings.”

Coach DeRan will foster an environment where each player can thrive in all areas of their life.

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