The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: April 2015 (Page 1 of 3)

Show me the money

The Model United Nations club at Bates is not very large. We have about eight members spread across each class year. However, what we lack in size, we more than make up for in passion. Our club loves to travel, debate, make friends, and compete with other schools. Through our discussions about international justice and development we have become more responsible global citizens and more engaged students. We understand that due to our size we will not always be preferred when it comes to budget allocation. However, we have a reasonable ambition each year: to attend one conference. On Monday evening, that ambition was shattered. That was the night I received our budget for the 2015-2016 school year. Along with a general cut of about 5% which was applied to all clubs, our hotel and transportation funds were completely removed. These cuts represent more than a 50 percent reduction in our budget. Please take a minute to fully appreciate the impact of a 50 percent reduction in funds. It is more than just annoyance; it is, in effect, a death sentence. This year, our club was hard-pressed to attend our conference, even with the “full” budget. Members paid for all parking, food, and gasoline expenses out-of-pocket. Losing half of our budget means that the Model UN club is over at Bates College.

When pressed, the budget committee will stammer, claiming that they expect us to pursue Cosponsorship. The Cosponsorship process essentially entails begging our student government to give funds as needed, when the deadlines to a given expense comes closer. This response is a non-sequitur. Not only does it push costs up by making payments dangerously close to deadlines, it insults the identity of what student activities is supposed to represent. Every year we would be required to justify our own existence to a student government who, with a stroke of a pen, could destroy our club’s aspirations. The security of a club should not change upon the whims of non-affected students who have won a popularity contest. Clubs who have demonstrated their worth to the campus and have attracted a dedicated membership should be given the chance to succeed, period. How can I justify advertising to new students when our club, by default, is not able to do anything? I can only imagine the barriers for any bright-eyed student with the ambition of starting a new club. If the cuts to current clubs are any significant indication of how desperate our Student Activities Fund is, I expect funds for new clubs to be close to nothing.

We are not the only ones. Across campus last Monday night, almost all clubs were devastated by draconian cuts to their budgets. My question then is the following: where is the money? Our tuition rates consistently go up. Our budget allocation for existing clubs consistently goes down. Is it really the case that costs are so high that the college needs to both raise revenue AND reduce relative spending for student clubs? If it is a fact that budget allocation has been diluted by a huge influx of new clubs, why can’t the absolute value of our Student Activities Fund increase to at least maintain the status quo? After all, it should not be the case that, for example, a new videogame club takes away funding from an existing chess club. There is no transparency regarding the spending of our college and it is sickening.

I can tell you where the money has not been going. It has not been going to our academic education. Where are the professors that our college desperately needs? Every student at Bates knows that the highly touted 10-1 student ratio is at best a distortion of the truth and at worst an outright falsehood. If you are unlucky enough to be interested in a popular major, brace yourself for 4 years of petitioning and 30 plus-student classes. Due to their relative popularity, majors such as economics and neuroscience have even removed their thesis requirements, a staple of the Bates education, simply because they do not have enough manpower to provide every student with a thesis experience. Many departments have not changed their overall faculty numbers in decades, despite enormous changes to interests and major distributions. Bates has no politics, economics, biology, psychology, sociology, biochemistry, English, art & visual culture, or environmental studies minor. Bates has no computer science major (a school for the coming times indeed). Bates has no international relations major. There are huge gaps in our academic repertoire that the college has shown little indication of filling despite huge decreases in the relative funding for student activities.

But instead of addressing budget concerns, our administration seems to be spending its time playing office politics and antagonizing the student body. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard students (seniors in particular) say that they are either not donating or are less enthusiastic to donate. And who can blame them? Our college has shown itself to be incapable of spending its money wisely while at the same time demonizing student traditions. Sneer all you want at the Trick-or-Drink protests, they perfectly epitomize the state of relations between administration and students: a student body that is fed up of being patronized and an administration who thinks they can purchase good will from Papa John’s. This sort of attitude exacerbates our budget crisis, and our administration has not put forth any genuine concession to salvage the relationship. The RA’s recent vote of no confidence is evidence of how drastic the situation has become, although the RA betrays the stature of its office when it states that its vote has no “practical weight”.

Speaking of student government, what is the stance of SG on this issue? Where is the outrage from our campus leaders? I am calling on all members of student government to challenge the administration on its spending priorities. It seems that money is not being allocated according to students’ best interests and the college needs to explain why such an assessment is mistaken. I have treasured my experience with Model UN and I’m sure many of you feel the same way about the activities in your clubs. It would be a shame if we resign ourselves to lose future friends and experiences just because nobody is willing to fight for them.

Penobscot community organizer cuts ties with Bates

The Penobscot Nation’s ongoing lawsuit against the State of Maine has significant ramifications for Bates. Senior Lecturer of Anthropology Bruce Bourque is testifying on behalf of the state in the lawsuit, providing evidence that the Penobscot Nation never had legal claims to the Penobscot River. Recently, Maria Girouard, the Community Organizer with the Penobscot Nation, declined to visit Bates due to her concerns over Bourque’s role in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, first filed by the Penobscot Nation against then-Maine State Attorney General William Schneider in August 2012, argues that the Penobscot Nation should have territorial rights over the Penobscot River. Schneider sent an opinion to the Penobscot Nation stating that the Penobscots’ territory only includes the islands in the river and does not include the river itself.

While the lawsuit does not mention pollution or discharge rights on the Penobscot River, municipalities along the river are worried that a victory by the Penobscot Nation could have a significant impact on their ability to use the river for storm and industrial runoff.

Two weeks ago, the town of Orono withdrew from the lawsuit after arguments were made by the local Penobscot community. Orono was one of 18 municipalities situated along the Penobscot River listed as an intervenor in the suit on the side of the state, since the town discharges waste and runoff into the river. The decision to withdraw from the lawsuit by Orono officials was seen as a victory for the Penobscot Nation.

Recently at Bates, Girouard declined to visit Professor Ethan Miller’s Environmental Studies class out of protest of Bourque’s involvement on behalf of the State of Maine in the lawsuit. Girouard previously co-taught a Short Term class with History Professor Joe Hall. Girouard claims that the state’s lawsuit constitutes theft of the Penobscot River and that Bourque’s involvement is disrespectful of the tribe.

The March 11th edition of The Student contained an article titled “Penobscot Nation stakes claim of river, conflicts with Bates professor.” This article contained factual errors and did not reach out to anyone associated with the Penobscot Nation. Below is an interview with Maria Girouard. An interview with Professor Bruce Bourque will be published online at a later date. Bourque was contacted for this article, but is in the process of cross-checking his responses to the interview with the Attorney General’s Office.

What’s your role with Penobscot Nation and the ongoing lawsuit?

I am Panawapskewi (a Penobscot person – or more literally in our language, I am a person from the rocky place in the River).  I’m a citizen of Penobscot Nation, an environmental activist, a peace advocate, and a Penobscot historian. In the past, I served the Nation as director of their Cultural & Historic Preservation Department (2006 – 2011).  I also served a 2-year term on Penobscot Tribal Council (2012- 2014).

What connection do you have to Bates?

I have had a long history with Bates. Formerly as the director of Cultural & Historic Preservation department for the Penobscot Nation, I hosted numerous student groups at Penobscot Nation; I forged a great working relationship with Professor Joe Hall; and even had a Bates student work in my department one summer as an intern.  Following my tenure as cultural director, I continued to engage with Bates, coming often to be a guest speaker in classes, and I co-taught Wabanaki History with Professor Hall last Spring term.

What do recent developments with the Orono Town Council have on the ongoing lawsuit regarding fishing rights?

Two weeks ago in a unanimous decision, Orono Town Council voted in committee to begin initial steps for withdrawing as interveners in the Penobscot River case.  The committee met at the urging of Orono residents who were upset to learn their town was named as one of 18 interveners in litigation against Penobscot Nation their neighbors. Other towns who have been dragged into the case include Bucksport, Brewer, East Millinocket, Millinocket, Howland, Lincoln, and Mattawamkeag.

Several towns have been seduced into joining the case by a fear-mongering attorney infamous for representing polluting industries. All speakers urged the town to withdraw.  The council plans to investigate necessary steps for withdrawing and will update on its progress at the next council meeting on Monday, April 6, 2015.

Does the lawsuit aim to radically change the discharge regulations for towns along the river, or is it more important for the Penobscot Nation to gain control over fishing rights?

The original U.S. District Court case, Penobscot Nation v. Mills has nothing to do with regulating discharge.  It is in direct response to the state government attempting to redefine the ancient Penobscot Indian reservation.  In August 2012, Penobscot Chief and Council received a letter from state government stating that it was the state’s interpretation that the Penobscot reservation, which is comprised of over 200 islands in the Penobscot River, did NOT include the Water! Penobscot Nation placed the issue with a federal court in order to protect our territory.  This legal battle is a territorial dispute and a fishing rights dispute.

Recently, another issue has cropped up between the state and the tribes, and it is happening simultaneously, and [it is] confusing (and scaring!) a lot of people.  Additionally, this issue involves the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  In an effort that has been considered “escalating the battle,” the state has been ordered to take measures to improve water quality on the Penobscot River, so that Penobscots can enjoy their inherent right to sustenance hunt and fish within their reservation territory.  Instead of complying with the order, the State of Maine told [the] EPA that they have no intentions of following the order, and in fact, have notified them (the EPA) that the state plans to sue them instead.  In essence, Maine is suing, using tax payers dollars, for the right to continue to pollute and poison the Penobscot River!  In any case, the state of Maine seems hell-bent on seizing Penobscot waters.

Could you describe your issues with Professor Bruce Bourque’s testimony on behalf of the state of Maine for this lawsuit?  

My issue with Bourque providing “expert” testimony is that he is no expert and he has no respect in tribal communities because of his narrow theories and the consequences that they have.  His theory regarding the Red Paint People, for example, has allowed the Maine State Museum, where he is curator, to keep ancestral remains and not release them to the tribes for proper re-burial, because he theorizes that the Red Paint People were some mysterious, vanishing race, and that the current Wabanaki only recently moved into this territory. This goes directly against and undermines our traditional cultural teachings.  It is considered incredibly disrespectful.

As an anthropologist, it doesn’t seem he would even be qualified to speak about relatively recent history; the fact that he is associated with the State of Maine as a curator in their museum makes me question whether this is a conflict of interest.  I sent an email expressing my disappointment to President Spencer, Crystal Williams Chief Diversity Officer, as well as Loring Danforth, [the] Chair of Anthropology, when I learned the news. Of course Bourque was defended based on academic freedom, but to me it’s still shocking what someone can get away with in the name of academia – even committing genocide against indigenous peoples by stealing all that defines their culture… in this case, the Penobscot River away from the Penobscots.

What has led you to decline visiting Bates campus?

Just the fact that he [Bourque] is there makes me literally sick to my stomach. What he is doing to the Penobscots is beyond egregious. I decline visiting Bates because he is there.

What do you want Bates students to know about the case?

That this case is incredibly serious and a major crisis for Penobscot Nation.  It is with no exaggeration, a fight for our cultural survival.

Is there anything that can be done to repair relations between Bates and the Penobscot Nation?

I’m not sure, but it certainly is not the primary concern of Penobscot Nation right now.  We are currently “in the trenches” defending our territory against state-sponsored theft.  Bates is not our concern at the moment.

Do you believe that Professor Bourque is entitled to his opinions regarding Penobscot water rights?

Anyone is entitled to an opinion, but as an educated professional, his words hold extra weight.  In my opinion, he is not qualified to speak about Penobscot water rights. It baffles me why he would be considered an “expert witness.”

What would make you reverse your recent decision not to visit Bates?

Unfortunately, I cannot think of anything at this point in time that would cause me to change my mind about not visiting Bates. Although I did just recently receive a very touching email from one of my spring term students that moved me and it was greatly appreciated.

The Aliens paints intimate portrait of summer bromance

Ciaran Walsh '15 of Washington, D.C., plays KJ in a three-actor play "The Aliens," presented by the Robinson Players, directed by Gunnar Manchester '15 of Rehoboth, Mass., with co-stars Dan Peebles '17 of Piermont, N.Y., and Sam James '17 of Raleigh, N.C. Two professional slackers befriend a teenager in this "gentle and extraordinarily beautiful" (New York Times) comedy-drama from Pulitzer-prize winner Annie Baker. Catch the last performance on Tuesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Ciaran Walsh ’15 of Washington, D.C., plays KJ in a three-actor play “The Aliens,” presented by the Robinson Players, directed by Gunnar Manchester ’15 of Rehoboth, Mass., with co-stars Dan Peebles ’17 of Piermont, N.Y., and Sam James ’17 of Raleigh, N.C. Two professional slackers befriend a teenager in this “gentle and extraordinarily beautiful” (New York Times) comedy-drama from Pulitzer-prize winner Annie Baker. Catch the last performance on Tuesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Directed by Gunnar Manchester ’15, The Aliens by playwright Annie Baker examines the shifting friendship between three men as they spend their summer days lounging (or working) in the backyard of a local restaurant. Starring Ciaran Walsh ’15 as college dropout KJ, Sam James ’17 as awkward high school senior Evan, and Dan Peeples ’17 as aged high school dropout Jasper, the play provides an intimate look at the sometimes silent moments of their relationship. It’s a coming of age story that doesn’t shy away from stillnesses and shared silences.

For Manchester, this drama offered a change of pace from last spring’s upbeat, musical lens on similar themes.

He remembers, “Last year I directed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which was a completely different animal, and not just because it was a musical. But as cartoonish and fun as Spelling Bee is, it shares some themes with The Aliens. Both plays focus on the challenges of growing up, as examined through the relationships between adults and children. When I decided to direct The Aliens, it was mostly because it was so different from anything I had directed. I wanted to challenge myself, and I wanted to challenge the actors I cast.”

The characters in this play tolerate boredom as part of their daily routine. They breathe it in and exhale wisps of ambition that quickly evaporate in the hot July air.

While they aren’t academically “successful” in the same ways that Bates students might sympathize with, the experiences these characters go through aren’t too far away from paths that could belong to any of us. They aren’t uneducated individuals, and Manchester hopes that the development of these characters acts as a useful reminder to Bates students that college isn’t the only important component of our youth.

“I hope this play will resonate well with a college audience,” Manchester explains. “It does touch on the topic of college, and the importance of education […] It’s important to realize that college is not the ‘be-all end-all’ (something especially relevant to us graduating seniors), and that a life is so much more than where you’ve gone to school or what work you did there. Too often we get so wrapped up in our own lives and our work, especially around this time of year, and this play will hopefully be a refreshing chill pill for the audience.”

There’s no doubt that this play wouldn’t pack as strong of a punch if it weren’t for the synthesis of some superbly chosen talents. I haven’t seen enough of the work of these three actors to comment on how their roles compare to previous ones in their Bates careers, but I left the production questioning whether they were playing very familiar versions of themselves or if they were in fact doing their job incredibly well. The very fact that this question even entered my mind speaks to the performance quality and commitment of these performers.

The set, with all its rugged simplicity, underscores the life setbacks of these characters’ own difficulties. An unpainted wooden fence cuts diagonally through the space, making Black Box Theater seem even more intimate than usual. A picnic table and two large trash bins become the characters’ daybeds, punching bags, and podiums. In the tight space, these set pieces have nearly as much physical presence as the actors themselves; consequently, they are sad reflections of how the characters see themselves at this point in their life.

It’s not easy to present characters with such low self-esteem in an engaging way. Their lack of self-interest is deterring, to say the least, but Manchester manages to harness the talents of these actors in the small performance space in a way that makes their internal skepticism and external mumblings far more fascinating than you might expect. The Aliens is a perfect way to conclude this semester’s demonstration of student theater talents.

Clothing swap and homemade jewelery kickoff environmental symposium

On Friday, March 27th, the Ronj kicked off a weekend full of events that appealed to students and community members with a passion for environmentally aware activities.

The Environmental Symposium encompassed such events that ranged from an advertisement of homemade jewelry created from recycled materials to a clothing swap where students could bring their old clothes and pick out new ones from other “swappable” items in a pot-luck fashion. There was even an exquisite display of ceramic creations to represent the more artistic side of the weekend-long event. Oh, and the snacks.

The second floor of the Ronj was packed full of students expressing their love for what was being displayed as well as other artistic or environmental happenings in and around the community.

Claire McGlave ’15 was responsible for providing the popular homemade jewelry. Her mini-corporation, Sincere Irony, seemed to be a hit this weekend with her unique display of fashionable accessories made from materials such as recycled soda cans and various natural materials. With such a rare and artistic talent on campus, it is no wonder why McGlave was a representative at the Environmental Symposium.

“Sincere Irony started as a hobby,” McGlave explained. “I made jewelry for friends and family all through high school, and only gave it as gifts or for fun. When I moved to Portland last summer a friend dared me to go into a boutique and offer to sell my jewelry there. I did it, thinking of course that the owner would say no, but she called me in for a showing and ended up buying about 20 of my necklaces to sell! I still sell with her, and she has been a mentor and a guide throughout the process of starting Sincere Irony as it expanded to other stores, Etsy, and the Bates bookstore.”

Junior Julia Riback, the organizer of the Environmental Symposium, saw some of McGlave’s jewelry in the bookstore, on Etsy, and at the Trashion Show and asked if she could come and sell at the event.

McGlave expressed her love and excitement for the activities of the weekend. “The Environmental Symposium was so much fun,” she exclaimed. “It was great to see people from all different groups on campus come together to eat food, look at art, and talk about what’s going on with environmental activities at Bates.”

With an event such as the Environmental Symposium being held all weekend long on campus, it is incredible that the Bates community can be so receptive and supportive of all that has been offered through this artistic movement.

McGlave added, “as a senior at Bates, I am struck by how wonderful this student body is. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such smart, accomplished people every day. The more people I meet the more excited I get about what our class will accomplish, and events like this let me meet a diverse group of new people, which is always exciting.”

Bates spinning takes off

Rosy DePaul instructing one of the first ever Bates spinning classes in Old Commons. TAYLOR BLACKBURN/THE BATES STUDENT

Rosy DePaul instructing one of the first ever Bates spinning classes in Old Commons. TAYLOR BLACKBURN/THE BATES STUDENT

Last Monday, Bates spinning classes were held for the first time in Old Commons.

Sophomore Rosy DePaul has followed this brainchild from her freshman year to its growing success today. After five days of classes, students have already been turned away due the limited number of bikes and the quickly growing enthusiasm for the classes.

Taking her inspiration from the popular cult exercise trend known as SoulCycle, DePaul teaches a class that has participants riding up and out of their bike saddle, peddling to the beat of feel-good pop songs, and taking breaks to lift weights, all while clearing their head of the silly distractions that we let bring us down when we don’t take the time to value ourselves.

While the rides are successful in catering to the steady flow of curious students, the journey getting here wasn’t without a few roadblocks. Like many Batesies, DePaul came to Bates and quickly realized that she would have to accept having a different exercise routine here than she had had at home. After a year of optimism, and a summer of spinning more than she ever had before, DePaul was eager to bring her love of spinning to Bates.

At first she tested the waters with organizers at Bates. “I thought that I’ll go meet with Kevin McHugh,” she explained, “and see what he thinks. If he says, ‘No, we’ve tried it,’ then okay, at least I had the conversation.”

It’s a good thing she tried, because McHugh liked the idea and encouraged DePaul to meet with someone to figure out spaces and scheduling, but “that’s really where the process got stalled,” DePaul said, “because they said, ‘We don’t have any space to do this on campus.’”

The main concern was that DePaul wouldn’t have anywhere to store and set up the bikes and then integrate the class into the P.E. schedule, but she couldn’t turn back because she had already begun her fundraising efforts as she was instructed to do in October.

“You can’t just give that [money] back, that’s not how fundraising works,” DePaul said.

They key ingredient to her success happened in December. “When I was home over winter break I may have jumped the gun a little bit. I met with an alum who’s an athletic liaison and on the alumni liaison board, and he sent an e-mail asking them to give me another chance.” This alum assured athletics that she would do it all independently, and continues to check in with DePaul on her progress today.

“Keith [Tannenbaum] was the one who really came forward and said, ‘Let’s make this happen,’” DePaul said.

Other supporters of the process have been the maintenance staff and Facility Services.

“The maintenance and facilities staff has been so helpful!” DePaul added. Anytime she asks them for help they come quickly to her aid, and now DePaul says she has “some buddies on the maintenance staff.”

Even though she’s focusing on helping riders to get settled right now, she isn’t afraid to dream about the future of Bates spinning. The bikes are around $250.00 each, so ideally she would have 20 riders in each class once her organization was able to provide more bikes.

Bates’ classification of student organizations has been difficult to manage as well. The issue is whether Bates spinning should be a registered student club or a P.E. class. Becoming a student club would mean that DePaul could receive funding and easily purchase more bikes, but this route would prevent her from making Bates Spinning a P.E. class.

Given that DePaul will be facing a higher demand in future weeks, she says it wouldn’t be bad to have another student who was a trained spinning instructor help her shift the supply curve.

Another consideration that I couldn’t help ask DePaul about was the entire experience of Bates spinning. At popular chains such as SoulCycle and FlyWheel, the therapeutic experience isn’t just on the bike, but it’s about the smell and glow of the room. Yes, consumers are paying for the exercise class and guidance during the time that they’re on the bike, but their willingness to pay is so much is because of the apparent magic that ensues when the scent of grapefruit-scented Jonathan Adler candles wafts through a dimly lit room equipped with high-tech sound systems and disco lights.

DePaul appeased any materialistic fears that lingered in my question by emphasizing her focus, in the college environment in particular, on crafting and promoting a positive mindset.

She explained, “because the space I’m in is so big, I’m trying to right now create the mindset that [space] doesn’t really matter, that what you need to focus on is right in front of you. That’s what a lot of people lose sight of in school. They start thinking about too many things at once and what’s most important is thinking about what you’re working on in that moment. People tend to stray from the moment because they’re stressed or worried or thinking about the future, but that can detract from what’s going on in front of you. If anything were to translate from spin class to real life it’s that you’re right here, this is what’s going on, you don’t need to focus on or worry about anything else.”

“That’s my favorite part about spinning,” she continued, “I get on the bike and suddenly everything else fades away. It’s gone, and it doesn’t matter to me and for forty five minutes I can just forget, and be there. My biggest concern,” she adds with a growing grin, “is whether I’m going to be able to push through that resistance.”

Overflow house burgled

Senior Michelle Pham thought something was amiss when she heard noises coming from the first floor of her house at 350 College Street without her roommates greeting her. Her suspicions were confirmed an hour later when junior Nancy Tran returned to the house to find that her room had been pilfered.

“For some reason—probably a matter of divine intervention—I didn’t open my door as we almost always do 99 percent of the time when we hear one another come home to say hello and to ask about each other’s days,” Pham said. “If I had done that, I would have definitely encountered the thief/thieves who were daring enough to come into our house when there was someone clearly at home.”

After Tran and senior Rokya Samake returned home to find their belongings strewn about or missing, the trio immediately contacted Bates Security.

“They searched our backyard, called the police as back-up and got us to come downstairs and to stay in the Bates Security SUV until the police and Bates Security were able to verify that the thief/thieves were no longer in the house,” Pham said. The Lewiston Police brought in a dog and searched the yard for traces of the thieves. The burglars gained entry through the back door, a door that does not have electronic key card access.

“We believe that’s why they targeted us because our house is right across from Page Hall,” Pham said. “We also thought that it was extremely bold of the burglar to break into the house despite knowing that someone was at home, because they could have just taken the TV and left but they came all the way upstairs into our bedrooms while I was at home.”

Pham was playing music and all of the lights were on in the house at the time of the incident. Two wallets, a TV, and other personal items are missing. “We do not know what they were looking for since what they stole was an unusual assortment of things,” Pham said.

According to Pham, no suspects have been identified and the investigation is ongoing.

Bates Security did not issue an alert to students after the burglary. “Every such instance is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if a warning should be issued because it is a serious and on-going threat,” Director of Security Tom Carey said. “In this instance, Security called for the LPD to clear the location to be on the safe side.” Since the police searched the area and Bates Security determined there was no active threat to students, an alert was not issued even though the perpetrator is still at large.

“They [Bates Security] came incredibly fast and got us out of the house immediately,” Pham said. “However, we think there needs to be more safety and security measures in the house. The Bates Residence Life Office is taking care of that today—very promptly after the matter.”

Carey reminds students to keep their valuables locked at all times.

“If something doesn’t seem right, call Security [at] 6111,” Carey said.

Re-masking MASV

The group known as Men Against Sexual Violence has changed its name to ReMasc, and we’d like to tell you a story about why and how.

At the beginning of the year, MASV found itself in a bit of a predicament. While we had made a name for ourselves and built a strong presence on campus, we couldn’t help but shake the feeling that we had built our presence a bit too strongly. A lot of people saw us as the go-to group for promoting awareness about sexual assault. However, we thought it was unsuitable that as a group exclusively comprised of men, we were discussing and handling an incredibly sensitive issue that largely concerns women.

We by no means agree with or affirm the notion that all men are assailants, or the idea that men cannot be victims of assault. However, it is undeniable that women are most affected by sexual violence and its residual impacts. It’s unethical for us to lead the discussion because as men we are not part of the majority of sexual assault victims. We think that men should take active roles in tackling sexual assault, but they should be secondary roles.

We decided that an effective means to explore our role in this work as men was to go on a reflective overnight retreat to Short Ridge. On the surface, the retreat was about changing our name, our image, and our approach in addressing unhealthy masculinity, but it quickly developed into ongoing, deeply personal, and thoughtful dialogue.

In this vulnerable retreat space, we began a conversation about love in all its forms. This discussion served as a pivot to reconcile our role (personally and collectively) on campus with our desire to do the work we felt the need to do ethically.

We recognize that as men who have grown up in a culture built around patriarchal and sexist oppression we have to unlearn our own thoughts and actions that contribute to this culture before we can learn (and advocate) to be better and more loving human beings. It’s not really about our role, or even our name, that makes what we do important; it’s about taking down the many violent and restrictive norms imposed on men through self-examination and reflection.

Furthermore, with the rise of the Feminist Collective, another non-gendered group combatting sexual assault, we want to embrace our role as a member of a budding cohort.

Our new name is ReMasc because we plan on recognizing and removing the mask of violent and restrictive expressions of masculinity that contribute to the culture of sexual assault and oppression. As a group, we have grown past seeing sexual assault as something that we should, or even could, tackle independently of larger issues. We understand that we can best fight it through reconfiguring our thoughts and actions as men and as a group.

We invite everyone to a forum in upstairs Commons on Wednesday, April 8th at 7:30 P.M., where we will be discussing these changes in full. Comments, questions and reactions of all kinds are welcomed.

Athlete recruitment: A complicated and confidential process

Introduction

College athletics is an incredible source of energy and excitement.  From the booming Division I football stadiums, to the raucous Alumni Gymnasium, college sports are undoubtedly an important component of college life.  But how exactly do these athletic teams form at academic institutions? In this feature, we examine different aspects of the college recruitment and admission process as it pertains to student-athletes, first by examining recruitment in the NESCAC, then through looking at Bates specific policies, and finally by examining Bates’ institutional philosophy on student-athlete recruitment.

Recruiting throughout the NESCAC

Student-athlete recruiting is an aspect of college admissions in all three NCAA Divisions. For Division I schools, sports are a huge source of revenue, and as such require admittance of quality student-athletes that will continue to ensure athletic success.  Although not nearly as large a financial commitment compared to DI schools, at a NESCAC institution like Bates, athletics are an integral part of the campus environment. “The reality is that we have 31 varsity teams at Bates and that means in terms of fielding those teams, we as an institution have a commitment to doing that, and doing that with success,” said Dean of Admission Leigh Weisenburger in an interview with The Student.

The NESCAC is one of the premier Division III athletic conferences in the country, with a collection of 11 liberal arts colleges dedicated to both academic and athletic excellence. On the NESCAC website, the conference describes its mission as being, “committed to establishing common practices to keep athletics strong and in proportion to the overall academic mission of the member institutions.” All NESCAC schools do not give athletic scholarships, and the admissions offices alone can render decisions of acceptance. All student-athletes are required to complete their application in full, the same as any other applicant.

In her interview, Dean Weisenburger declined to comment on how the admissions office at Bates specifically goes about admitting recruited student-athletes, citing Admission and NESCAC policy.

The NESCAC does not officially publish how this process works on their website either. However, in 2005 the New York Times published an article about the NESCAC’s process of admitting student-athletes. The system reportedly establishes a slot system for recruiting student-athletes.

This slot system allows for schools in the NESCAC to admit a certain number of students who plan to participate in athletics and fall slightly below institutional academic standards for admittance.

In the Times article, the slot system is described as working like this: Each NESCAC institution is given two slots per varsity sport, with the exception of football, which is allotted 14 slots. At Bates there are 31 varsity sports, which would put Bates’ number of slots at 74, with 14 slots for football and 60 slots for the 30 other teams. It is at the discretion of each member institution in the NESCAC as to whether these slots are shared between different teams as they are needed year to year, or if each team is capped at two slots per year with the exception of football.

In addition to this slot-system, schools can establish a tier system to classify potential student-athletes, according to the Times article.  The first tier is for student-athletes whose academic resume meets the regular admission standards of the school.  These students would be competitive for acceptance regardless of their status as a student-athlete. The second tier classifies recruits whose academic resume falls slightly below admission standards and the third tier for those who fall substantially below. What these classifications are exactly in terms of GPA and test scores depends on the college, according to the Times.

Coaches then have the opportunity to use their allotted slots on potential student-athletes who fit within any of the tiers, typically within the second or third, to increase the chances of admission. Student-athletes who do not mean the minimum criteria for the third tier will not be admitted.

When asked about the tier process of student-athlete recruitment, Dean Weisenburger declined to comment, citing NESCAC and college policy. “That would just lend itself to other elements of the admission process that are confidential.”

In the 2005 Times piece, Amherst Dean of Admissions Tom Parker, who retired in June 2014 after 15 years at the college, stated, “The real danger was in not acknowledging that we give preferential treatment to student-athletes. It engendered a corrosive cynicism. When it was on the table exactly what we do, it wasn’t as bad as some faculty thought.”

Bates-specific policies

The recruiting process for Bates athletics centers on communication between the recruit, the athletic department, and admissions. In order to keep tabs on student-athletes across the globe, the athletic department and admissions rely on team liaisons.

According to Athletic Director Kevin McHugh, generally “three or four” sports are assigned to each liaison, which are tasked with getting a feel of prospective student-athletes. Weisenburger explains that the job of liaisons is to, “know the priorities and needs of their [assigned] team and make sure they’re articulating that to [the admission] committee.” Arts, international students, and geographic regions also have admissions liaisons.

These needs and priorities could range from outfield spots on the baseball team to needing a “libero,” a defensive specialist on a volleyball team, as Wiesenberger specifically noted. From there, the level to which a student-athlete can immediately contribute to Bates athletics is integral to the recruiting process, and is evaluated through their athlete rating system.

The system that the college puts into practice is a “1,2,3” system for athlete ratings. According to McHugh, “a one-rated athlete is someone that’s going to come in and make an immediate impact; you’re recruiting one-rated athletes.” He added that, “a two-rated athlete is typically someone that you’d like to have on a team, but they’re not necessarily going to make an impact right away.” A three-rated athlete would not be recruited by Bates athletics.

This past recruiting season, a minimum of 165 and a maximum of 210 student-athletes figured into this system according to McHugh, out of about a class of 500 prospective students.

The rating system, which McHugh noted is “strictly an athletic rating,” is especially prevalent in the early decision process. Although a prospective athlete does not need to meet an “academic standard to receive that rating,” according to McHugh, “the whole premise of ED [early decision] is that you’re basically guaranteeing a yield” on a large number of the total class of 165 admitted recruits. For a one-rated athlete who meets the academic guidelines from the tier system, getting denied ED1 at Bates is “fairly rare.”

However, with its academic rigors and assertiveness for finding students that fit the Bates culture, there are many factors other than numbers that play into the recruitment process. Before even going after an athlete, admissions gets an “early read” on high school athletes that are entering their senior year. McHugh explains that this read comes after July 1st and allows Bates to get sense of what their senior classes are like and what their junior grades are.

From there, if mutual interest exists, prospective student-athletes can arrange visits to the Bates campus and usually meet with coaches and the team. All of this happens without financial help from Bates. McHugh explains that the school can, “reimburse a coach for mileage and meals,” but cannot “pay for their [a recruit] transportation to Bates,” per NESCAC rules.

When attempting to delve into the specifics of recruiting for a sports team here at Bates, head women’s basketball coach Jim Murphy told The Student that McHugh informed coaches not to communicate with Student editors on the issue. Murphy did not refer editors to the college’s communication office.

NESCAC coaches have been more active in recruiting younger high school athletes, particularly freshmen and sophomores who are not cut out for the Division I level of lacrosse. This is due to the NESCAC moving the contact period from the end of an athlete’s junior year to the summer of their sophomore year. Contact, as defined by the NESCAC, limits coaches to attending camps and games. NESCAC coaches cannot make home or school visits.

To prevent recruits from slipping to other NESCAC rivals, coaches typically keep tabs on these athletes by phone and email. McHugh explains that, from this standpoint, “you are still keeping in touch and you are actively recruiting.”

The pool for prospective student-athletes is an ever-shifting landscape, mainly due to the fact that most Division III institutions require SAT scores, while a college like Bates does not. Getting an early read is pivotal for both Admissions and the Athletic Department, but can be a challenge because, according to McHugh, without requiring SAT scores, “it is a little bit tougher on us, because we can’t get as hard a read as soon as we would like.”

Still, potential student-athletes who are strong academically but with low test scores have SAT optional schools like Bates and Bowdoin as an additional option. To McHugh, this “let’s us get involved with some kids that other schools can’t, so it is really cut both ways.”

Though it is clear Bates’ SAT optional policy opens doors for athletes, recruiting can be a challenging process. With NESCAC limitations making it difficult for coaches to scour the country, they make every effort to keep in contact.

Furthermore, the early read and athlete-rating system processes attempt to satisfy the goals of Admissions, and attract student-athletes to Bates that will contribute academically and athletically. For teams like men’s basketball, swimming, squash, and track, Weisenburger notes that their recent postseason success will hopefully be a “point of aspiration” for student-athletes in the future.

The Bates Philosophy

As an institution, Bates has an underlying philosophy that influences the recruiting process. In Weisenburger’s 11 years at Bates, she has worked to reshape the perception of the athletics program.

She hopes to keep moving towards, “a shift in mindset and making sure that we continue to talk about those who happen to play sports as student-athletes, and not just strictly as athletes. I think that’s fair to them; I think that’s the truth. Their absolute identity is both, not just one or the other, and I think they deserve that, and we as a community owe it to ourselves and them to recognize they’re here for a multitude of reasons, not just for athletics.”

When it comes to filling Bates’ freshman class of approximately 500 students, Weisenburger said that, “College admission is an art not a science,” and emphasized, “in regards to admissions, we can’t have quotas.” Nevertheless, Bates Admissions realizes the importance of filling teams with competitive athletes.

But in this respect, Weisenburger believes that athletics is not unique. “Recruitment falls under a larger umbrella of making sure our students have opportunities to explore a number of their passions while here at Bates, not just athletics,” she said.

According to McHugh, success for Bates athletics can also help the overall prestige of the school, especially in regards to attracting a diverse mix of students. “I think recruitment is huge [for drawing students to Bates]. We’re helping the college meet its goals, certainly with the athletics piece, the diversity piece- I think we’ve made good strides over the last few years, not only with racial/ethnic diversity, but also socioeconomic diversity, and expanding outside New England. So we’re aligning our goals with what the admissions goals are too.”

Weisenburger added that, “Athletics travels, much like our debate team travels, and so when you are out and about representing the college, and doing so in a positive way, that helps the institution tremendously, in terms of drawing students who might have an interest not just in athletics, but in Bates at large.”

Internally, Admissions is committed to bringing in a vibrant freshman class with a variety of talents and the ability to make positive contributions to the Bates community. With recruited athletes in particular, this means, “we’re not simply rating or admitting them based on their athletic ability, because we need to make sure they will succeed in all facets of life at Bates, not just athletics.”

In recent years, many Bates student-athletes have earned NESCAC All-Academic accolades. This honor is awarded to varsity athletes who have reached sophomore academic standing and have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.35. The spring 2014 total of 92 NESCAC All-Academic award winners set a Bates record. This year, 49 and 72 student-athletes were NESCAC All-Academic in the fall and winter seasons respectively.

Other than publicizing awards, Bates has a policy of confidentiality regarding any kind of demographic breakdowns as far as academic performance is concerned, including between athletes and non-athletes. Over one third of the Bates student body plays at least one varsity sport.

Media Relations Director Kent Fischer explained this institutional policy: “It [publishing data on student-athletes’ academic performance] opens the door to what about artists, what about biology majors?” He continued, “I’m not saying that’s what would happen, but you get to point where the end value is so small you start to sort of identify. The big takeaway is the vast majority of students at Bates graduate.”

Institutions that give athletic scholarships are required to make available graduation rates by sport under Title 1, Section 103 of the Student Right-to-Know Act. Division III has no such stipulation.

McHugh was willing to divulge details on the academic performance of student-athletes, although he also did not provide any specific data: “The Admissions and Financial Aid Committee looked at athlete academic performance a couple years ago,” he said. “The problem was the college changed their whole rating system. Basically what they found was if you look at first-year athletes compared to non-athletes, there’s a pretty significant gap. But by the time they get to their junior, senior year, the athletes have made up that gap, and there’s really not a significant difference,” McHugh said.

“We haven’t run those numbers in a while; I would say it’s the same now, if not a little better. It’s not really surprising that in the first year it takes time to adjust to playing college level athletics and balancing that with academics…I would suspect that being part of a team and having that additional support probably offsets the time commitment,” McHugh concluded.

Weisenburger, who played varsity field hockey and lacrosse in college, summed up her feelings on Bates’ approach to student-athletes: “I personally really value the student athletic experience. I did not see myself as an athlete first, and I think that it’s a point of pride for the institution. Those accolades are a point of inspiration and something to be proud of as much as our debate team killing it across the globe; those achievements are something to be proud of just as much as our Fulbright’s are and beyond.”

Conclusion

Student-athletes make up over a third of the Bates student body. Due to the competitive environment of student-athlete recruitment, many institutions are reticent to provide information on the process. Both the NESCAC and Bates have certain policies that create an environment of stringent confidentiality surrounding recruitment procedures. We hope this piece helped to illuminate this complicated process. There are certain aspects of the student-athlete recruitment process where Bates believes that complete transparency is not the best option.

Rollercoaster weekend for tennis

On Saturday, Brandeis was the Bates tennis team’s first challenge of the weekend. The No. 26-ranked men’s team had a solid outing against the Judges, taking down No. 35-ranked Brandeis 5-2 in a non-conference battle. Doubles partners senior Pierre Planche and sophomore Christopher Ellis took home a win, defeating Brandeis’ top pair 8-6. Feeding off of that momentum, first-years Ben Rosen and Adam Schwartz won their doubles match with a final score of 8-4. Planche and Schwartz both won their singles matches in consecutive sets. The men would seize the day with a victory by the final score of 5-2.

As for the women, they were thinking of an upset all day in their non-conference matchup against Brandeis. Unfortunately, they were not able to edge out a win despite some strong performances. First-year Maisie Silverman and sophomore Kelsey Pearson took the only point of the doubles matchup with a 9-7 triumph. Sophomore Kate Rosenthal and junior Emma Blakely had a tight match and almost took the win, but would ultimately lose 8-6. This did not deter Rosenthal, as she would go on to win her singles match. Rosenthal was down a set early but came back to win consecutive sets to give Bates the point. As for Silverman, she would continue to have the hot racquet and won her singles match in consecutive sets. Sophomore Elizabeth Erbafina would also win her singles match, but Bates lost the match by a narrow 5-4 margin.

The next day, both teams took on NESCAC rival Wesleyan. The men’s team rallied for a comeback win against the Cardinals, beating them 5-4. Senior Henry Lee and sophomore Patrick Ordway would be the lone doubles pair to get a point, defeating the opposition 8-4. In singles, the men were down a match after Planche lost, but would rally back, with Ellis and Schwartz winning the next two singles matches with consecutive set wins. Rosen and Ordway would close out the day, picking up two wins to seal the deal for Bates. The Bobcats scored the upset against the 18th-ranked Cardinals.

The women’s team lost against Wesleyan in an 8-1 decision. Erbafina would go on to win her singles match after being down a set and making a strong comeback for the team’s lone point.

The men want to continue riding the wave of momentum when they take on NESCAC rival Bowdoin on April 9th at home. As for the women, they will look to bounce back from their current slump. They will travel to Wellesley College on Thursday for a non-conference matchup.

Power to the preschoolers

Four-year-olds are not usually the first group of people who we think of as social activists.

As such, it often helps when there is someone to speak up for their interests, especially when that person has some type of political influence or power. That is exactly what Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton did for over 47,300 of these young children.

On March 20th, as he sat in a preschool classroom, Governor Dayton called for the state’s lawmakers to pass a measure that would use almost a fifth, or $348-million, of a $1.9-billion budget surplus on a universal preschool program, effectively making Minnesota one of only a few states to offer a universal and full-day education program of this sort. While this particular measure would work towards ensuring that every four-year-old is guaranteed the opportunity for education, the Governor has also expressed interest in funding for children of younger ages as well.

This measure may be one of incredible importance to Minnesota in particular, as it is currently ranked the 50th state in the nation for the percent of children attending full-day preschool. While other states have tried to pass similar measures in the past, it is rare that these bills have the effect that policymakers hope for, given that many of the states still have difficultly funding preschool programs enough to actually consider them to be “universal.”

So, while Minnesota would technically be the 10th state to have a “universal preschool program,” only three states—Florida, Oklahoma, and Vermont—actually have over 70% of their 4-year-olds in a program that is funded by the state.

The true importance of early education has been reinforced by information on psychological development, emphasizing the importance of developing cognitive skills that will allow for these students to develop at a rate that will better prepare them for further education. Furthermore, there are millions of children who do not have parents or other figures that are able to spend the time that a child may need, say, to be read to on a frequent basis during a crucial time of development. Implementing a universal preschool system would allow for students to not needlessly be at a disadvantage due to any socioeconomic situation that may prevent them from being able to reach their fullest potential.

This measure, along with President Obama’s recent interest in providing two years of free tuition at community college, both have initated an important new discussion regarding the role that education plays in our society today. Instead of being seen as unnecessary or overpriced, these sentiments are slowly moving towards emphasizing the importance of considering access to education to be a fundamental right, something that no one ought to be prohibited from due to their financial situation.

Given that only 28% of four-year-olds are actually enrolled in preschools nationwide, making access to early education easier would have drastic effects on coming generations. This statistic places the United States at 26th in enrollment rank for this age group among other developed nations. While it is oftentimes difficult for citizens and certain lawmakers to see the importance of backing a bill that is focused on long-terms goals, such as investing in environmental protection or early education, instead of short-term goals, such as tax cuts, it is important to remember that these decisions do not just affect a certain group of people, but will ultimately define the future of our world.

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