The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: October 7, 2015 (Page 1 of 3)

The Office of Admissions looks west

“Just outside of Boston” may be a thing of the past. Well, not really—though the Class of 2019 is one of the most diverse Bates has ever seen.

The Class of 2019 has students from 38 states, as well as 43 different countries. 22 percent are students of color, 12 percent are the first in their family to attend college, and 72 percent of those who reported class rank graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

The Office of Admissions has increased their recruitment efforts internationally, as well as broadened their outreach to states like California, Texas, and Florida, where Bates is often not as well know. This extended outreach is a reflection of a national trend in shifting demographics of college-bound teenagers.

Interim Director of Admission Johanna Farrar Seltzer ’03 attributes the broadened outreach to “the changing demographics of the country, as the ethnic and racial diversity of the country increases, and as population centers shift from the northeast to the southwest, the northwest and in the south.”

“I don’t know necessarily the driving forces behind it, other than it’s happening and we are responding to that,” Seltzer said.

The purpose of their response is two fold:

“It’s both relating to the mission of the college—enrolling and celebrating students with diverse backgrounds and perspectives—and having that be a part of the Bates experience,” Seltzer said. “It’s intentionally recruiting diverse populations, but also pragmatically making sure we are responding to demographic shifts as well.”

In order to attract a student from the mid-west or the west coast, the conversation about Bates may be approached differently. Often times, the conversation can be about explaining the concept of the liberal arts education.

Admissions has a number of recruitment tactics. One of the strongest is face-to-face time with representatives from the school. The alumni network plays a significant role in recruiting students, with about 1500 alumni conducting interviews all over the world.

High school counselors play a big role in the college search and application process, so there have been targeted efforts to connect with counselors and make them aware of the opportunities Bates offers. In partnership with Bowdoin and Colby, Bates participates in a counselor tour in which counselors from around the country, particularly communities that are not too familiar with the small Maine schools, are invited to all three campuses.

On campus, student involvement is essential in attracting applicants.

“Our tour guides, senior fellows, and student workers who are meeting with families when they come are fantastic representors and recruiters for Bates,” Seltzer said.

Prologue and Preface are two fly-in programs used to get prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds onto campus. Both are competitive programs that require an application. If they are accepted, Bates flies the student in to visit campus, along with one family member.

Preface is relatively new, but has already benefited the outreach efforts. Preface takes place in the spring and is for high school juniors and it serves the same population as Prologue.

“[Preface] is a really great program for us,” Seltzer said. “Students who are that ahead in their college search are typically really talented academically, so we have the chance to get on their list early and compete with some of the big dogs.”

Korbin Houston ’18 and Denali Nalamalapu ’17 are two Diversity Outreach Coordinators who are involved with Prologue, a decades old fly-in event.

“The purpose of Prologue is to fly-in prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds who maybe would not have considered applying to Bates,” Houston said. “They get to see that Bates is a place [where they] can come and learn. We show them that Bates is a friendly and supportive community, so even though you are far away from home you can make great friends.”

Nalamalapu sees the benefits of providing programs like Prologue for students from diverse backgrounds.

“They’re the students who will potentially gain the most from this program,” Nalamalapu said. “They will get a taste of what it is like to be far from home and thus will be able to gauge how they react to it.”

The first Prologue session will start October 11th and extend through the 13th.

The Class of 2019, as one of the strongest and most diverse classes in history, will keep on the Bates tradition of “Amore ac Studio,” something Seltzer is proud of.

“We are really proud of our students and really part of the work we have been doing to continue to increase the size, the competition, and the quality coming out of our application pool,” Seltzer said. “We’re proud of you guys.”

This article was revised as the original version cited statistics representative of potential first-years based off of the applicant pool, not the 517 members of the class of 2019. 

Women’s Volleyball falls to Amherst and Williams

Despite an exceptional effort, it was a tough weekend for women’s volleyball as Bates fell to both Amherst and Williams.

The weekend started off in Williamstown, Massachusetts Friday night, where the Bobcats (5-7, 2-2) fought hard and hung in with a tough Williams Ephs team (9-5, 3-1). Despite their strong efforts, Williams ultimately finished victorious and swept the Bobcats 17-25, 21-25, and 18-25.

Junior Nicole Peraica tallied seven kills to lead the team.

“The Williams game was a very disappointing loss for us because at the end of the game we all knew that we had more to give,” Peraica said. “With that said, there were moments of greatness, but we struggled to maintain that greatness throughout the match. We are at a very competitive part of our schedule and although these losses are hard, they are making us better and stronger as a team. We are determined to work extra hard in practice so that we can face Williams again at the NESCAC Championships.

The determination and competitive nature of the team was definitely evident throughout the entire match. Bates found themselves down 11-4 in the first set but rallied to cut the deficit to 13-12. A service ace from sophomore Augy Silver and two service aces from senior Laryssa Schepel helped spur the rally. But Williams called timeout and proceeded to go on a 5-0 run thanks in part to three errors from the Bobcats. The teams traded points after that but Williams eventually took the first set.

During set two, the Bobcats cut it close with the Ephs as junior Chandler McGrath got her first kill of the match. She would finish the night with six kills. Bates pulled to within three points at 19-16, though Williams rebounded to score four of the next five points and take control of the set.

“Williams is a great team but nothing we can’t handle. We really love competing with the best teams because it forces us to play smarter,” McGrath commented. “Our best playing moments happen when we are confident and aggressive with our offense. Throughout the match, we had good rallies and now we just have to work on being consistent with our energy.”

The Bobcats showcased their confidence and positive energy as they grabbed a 6-5 lead in the third set. Unfortunately, the Ephs would slowly pull away yet again. Williams got 13 kills from Ally Ostrow and 11 kills each from Mia Weinland and Roxi Corbeil in the match.

The challenging weekend continued in Amherst, Massachusetts, where Bates (5-8, 2-3) fell to Amherst (11-1, 4-1) in three straight sets, 14-25, 15-25, and 21-25 on Saturday afternoon.

McGrath had another strong performance, as she tallied a match-high 12 kills. Sophomore Jacqeline Forney also had 16 assists.

Amherst started the match out very strong and outplayed the Bobcats in the first set. Bates fell victim to fast starts from Amherst in each set; Amherst jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and a 3-0 lead in the second. The Bobcats finished with a hitting percentage of .045, while the Lord Jeffs finished with a superior .257 hitting percentage. Amherst also finished with nine aces to Bates’ four, and nine blocks to Bates’ five.

Despite a tough start, the Bobcats played the match with a compelling intensity. They gave Amherst all they could handle in the third set, coming to a 20-20 tie before Lizzie Ahem delivered back-to-back kills. Nicole Carter, who finished with four aces overall, served two late aces, which secured the third set and the match for Amherst.

Among other notable performances for the Bobcats was that of senior Mary Deneen, who contributed three service aces and three blocks, and Silver, who tallied a match-high 12 digs.

The Bobcats look to showcase their competitive drive and cohesive team dynamic to end their three-match losing streak, as they compete at Tufts on Friday night.

Bates football falls to 0-2 with tough loss to Tufts

Alison Mackay/Courtesy Photo

Alison Mackay/Courtesy Photo

Just as they did in their season-opening defeat to Amherst, Bates took an early lead in Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming game against Tufts. And though they kept that advantage until early in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats were stopped on a crucial 4th and goal play at the one-yard line with 6:25 remaining, as Tufts ultimately held on for a 17-16 win.

Bates’ performance was a substantial improvement from their 37-14 loss in Week 1. The defense was much more effective against the run, limiting Tufts to 60 yards rushing. They were especially stout on third down, as Tufts converted only one of their 14 third-down chances. Sophomore defensive back Andrew Jenkelunas led the team with his second consecutive 10-tackle game. On the offensive side, Bates ran for a total of 188 yards, including a career-high 71 yards rushing by sophomore Frank Williams, who scored Bates’ first touchdown on a one-yard carry late in the first quarter. Senior wide receiver Mark Riley again led Bates with six catches, while sophomore Mickoy Nichol snagged a ball from quarterback Pat Dugan ’16 and broke a couple tackles on his way to a 31-yard touchdown. At that point, in the middle of the second quarter, Bates led 14-0.

Tufts elevated their level of play in the second half, with quarterback Alex Snyder connecting on touchdown passes of 45 and 27 yards to receiver Jack Cooleen. Besides giving up the long ball, Bates’ chances were also hurt by losing the turnover battle 3-0 (two lost fumbles and one interception) and registering nine penalties. After Tufts’ struggling special teams unit managed to make a 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, Bates trailed for the first time. A wayward snap on a punt attempt that flew into the end zone trimmed the deficit to one point, but an ensuing goal-line stand by the Tufts defense stopped a promising 11-play drive by the Bates offense. Though the Bobcat D stood strong to force the Jumbos to punt, a last-ditch final drive fell short, and Bates turned it over on downs.

Junior linebacker Mark Upton commented, “While it was a tough loss, we’re looking ahead to do whatever we can to beat Williams next weekend. There were flaws in our game this week, but we’ve improved a ton on both sides of the ball since the first game against Amherst. We’re looking to keep this momentum going and put it all together this coming Saturday.”

This weekend’s game against Williams, who lost their last contest to Tufts 24-0, is Bates’ first road game. If the team continues their upward trend, they should be able to pick up their first win of the season.

The effects of Climate Change

Environmental Talk(Max Huang-Bates Student)_0001

Noel Potter speaks to why climate change is everyone’s issue. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

On October 2nd, Bates – among other colleges across the United States – held an event called “Know Tomorrow” to ignite conversation and provide information about the climate change affecting our planet. Bates was one of seventy colleges to host the aforementioned event, held in front of Commons. The event lasted a mere hour; however, the speakers’ speeches and the students’ efforts will last a lifetime.

The event’s speakers, Professor Bev Johnson, Noel Potter ’17, Professor Tom Tracy, Phillip Dube ’16, and Professor Jane Costlow, presented a mixture of personal stories that introduced them to the fight against climate change and facts meant to instill fear and raise awareness.

The event concluded with a reflection period: a timeline was placed on the quad in front of Commons with short descriptions of ways to change our world starting today.

Students then wrote about where they see themselves in the year 2030. It was a way to show that each person’s goal is tied to the environment and the state of the climate; our goals cannot be achieved in a place where the extinction of species and the destruction of our rainforests become inevitable.

The first speaker, Professor Johnson, explained the state of our planet today. She stated that we are currently experiencing an increase in temperature with a .20 degrees Celsius increase every decade since 1975.

This increase may not directly impact Bates students; however, it is melting the snow caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will improve the earth’s climate, thus indicating that it is not too late to bring change to our planet.

Potter told a story that many Batesies connect to —about hiking in the mountains.

Potter recalled how during the summer of 2014, he went to Wyoming to research the melting level of glaciers. To his surprise, the glaciers were melting relatively quickly. Given that the glacier coating was that of debris, the glacier should not have been melting so rapidly.

Potter made a point of saying that political campaigns can be influenced to fund organizations that are opposed to climate change. Furthermore, economics and business majors have the proper resources to influence the way climate change is viewed.

The same point was reverberated by Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Tom Tracy. He emphasized that without our efforts to influence corporations and large industries emitting tons of thousands of gases into the atmosphere, our future generations will suffer greatly.

Professor Tracy stated that often the people who contribute the least to climate change suffer the most. Currently, in less developed countries people are experiencing drought, famine, and disease as a result of climate change. This could foreshadow how future generations will live.

Phillip Dube explained different perspectives of people living in unfortunate circumstances and of those who will follow us. He gave a short, emotional speech.

The last speaker, Environmental Studies Professor Jane Costlow, ended the event by referring to Leo Tolstoy’s words—to look around us. She asked the student body to pay attention to the world and understand its future.

Progress can only be made if humanity accepts that climate change is a serious, prevalent issue.

Student Senate election results recap

Election results for the Bates College Student Government Senate (BCSG) seats are in. Released last Friday, but delayed due to some listserv technical difficulties, the results show the winners of two seats for each class year, as well as eleven campus senators at-large.

The BCSG has gone through some restructuring that began last year, which resulted in a constitutional referendum in March, dissolving the Representative Assembly and replacing it with the Student Senate and Executive Council made up of five elected officers intended to represent the entire student body. This referendum also gave the Student Body President, Berto Diaz, veto power. The new Senate structure hopes to streamline the bureaucratic processes involved in the BCSG and also hold student members more accountable.

This year, Senior Allen Sumrall returned from abroad to his former position as Parliamentarian. The elections were run through Garnet Gateway like in previous years, making the result turnaround much shorter than the referendum count, which was through hand-written ballots in the Fireplace Lounge.

This is a large period of transition for the BCSG and hopefully a fresh set of Senators will push the government towards their goal of fairly and efficiently allocating money to student clubs and organizations.

First-year Andres Carranza, of El Salvador, hopes to influence change by voicing “the concerns of fellow Batesies and making sure that these are heard, as well as by highlighting and pinpointing certain small – and sometimes unnoticed – issues that if fixed, can bring about a huge positive change.” Carranza looks forward to adding diversity and a positive attitude to the “welcoming, vibrant, and inclusive” Bates community.

Many seniors decided to run for seats as well, hoping to make an impact before graduation. “As seniors we have the ability to reflect on the past four years and provide insight on what changes that we think need the most attention and encourage the other classes to address these issues even after we leave,” Senior Nicole Bermudez said. She is joined by 2016 co-senator Hannah Kiesler, as well as Seniors Mark Chatkin and Lydia Merizon as senators at-large. The full election results are shown below.

Class Senator 2016

1. Hannah Kiesler

2. Nicole Bermudez

Class Senator 2017

1. Gina Ciobanu

2. Kevin Tejada

Class Senator 2018

1. Samantha Garapati

2. Matthew Davis

Class Senator 2019

1. Andres Carranza

2. Liliana Brown

Campus Senator At-Large

1. Moise Bonheur (2019)

2. Oliver Farnum (2019)

3. Katharine Gaillard (2019)

4. Andrea Russo (2019)

5. Mark Chatkin (2016)

6. Andrew Voss (2017)

7. Liliana Brown (2019)

8. Wyatt Itin (2019)

9. Lydia Merizon (2016)

10. Tyler Post (2018)

11. Jessica Seibold (2018)

 

Disappointed by Bates’ Prejudice

We all have our favorite public bathrooms on campus that provide us with the solitude that we cannot always find in our daily lives. The ideal bathroom is a sacred place of trust and comfort and is always there when you need it. It has warm lighting, an endless supply of soft toilet paper, and most importantly, makes you feel as if you are in the privacy of your own home. Hedge gets some major hype for their bathrooms, mostly the ones on the first floor and basement. Some other nice getaways include the bathroom in Pettigrew basement, and the less frequented Chapel bathroom. The problem with some of these bathrooms, and with the culture around Bates bathrooms in general, is that they are gendered.

Gendered bathrooms force users to make a choice regarding their identity as strictly male or female, with no room in the middle. This is an intense form of discrimination, specifically segregation, on the Bates campus, as students with fluid identities are now forced to conform to an identity they might not be comfortable with. Furthermore, there is no reason that students should have to make a public choice about their identity when they are going to serve a private purpose. As Bates prides itself on being politically correct and socially progressive, it is disappointing to feel as though Bates is settling for an ignorant stance on issues such as these.

Not only do gendered bathrooms pose a discriminatory threat for students of fluid gender, they also pose a threat for some of the ideology that controls Bates’ culture. By imposing conformity to a single gender when going to the bathroom, Bates is making a statement that it is ignorant of transgender, gender queer, gender fluid, and other students. The Bates community is also making a conceptual statement that there is no separation between sex and gender. This is an intense fundamental problem that can potentially hinder growth towards the understanding of the complexity of human sexuality and gender for every person that sees the gendered signs on the bathroom. By simplifying public bathrooms into two categories, Bates is setting a cultural tone that the separation of the sexes and division into sexes is the social norm, which is extremely problematic.

I understand that gender neutralizing the bathrooms at Bates will not fix every prejudice that gender fluid students at Bates are subjected to every day. I understand that gender neutralizing the bathrooms at Bates will not automatically result in a cultural understanding and appreciation for gender fluidity. I do believe, however, that it is a step in the right direction. It is a step towards respect, a step towards inclusivity, and a step towards equality.

 

Senior Thesis: The Ultimate “Purposeful Work” Project

Since before many of us even arrived at Bates, we have anticipated the largest project of our college careers: the senior thesis. It’s one aspect of our education that all Batesies—past, present, and future—can share, discuss, bond over, and lament together. Undoubtedly, thesis requires significant effort, large volumes of work, and the dedication of some long nights; many students surely complete the experience with memories mostly of the difficulty involved. However, thesis is not simply a requirement dreamed up to keep seniors busy and away from the Goose, or used as an opportunity to torture students one last time before they graduate. With a good attitude and adequate dedication, this can be the ultimate “purposeful work” project.

As I begin my senior thesis, I have already identified a number of ways that the project has allowed me to improve, both as a student and as a future candidate for employment. On a practical note, thesis work often mimics that which will be expected of many of us in entry-level jobs. As a biological chemistry major, I have begun to improve a number of my laboratory skills that will be required of me in a lab tech position in a hospital, pharmaceutical company, or biotechnology setting. Not only are these marketable skills that will make me a more desirable candidate, but they will also contribute to my effectiveness as an employee should I be hired.

In addition to these practical improvements, I have also been able to develop skills that can be applied to other aspects of my life. Thesis requires significant amounts of independent work, problem solving, and research. Students learn when to ask questions, what questions to ask, and how to frame them. Every day we are required to make decisions that we would have previously delegated to professors or TAs. The ability to effectively manage free time becomes more critical than ever before, and we adjust to the challenges of accomplishing a long-term goal. In this way, thesis prepares us for post-college life in a way that other classes cannot.

Finally, if students hold genuine interest in their areas of study, thesis can actually be fun. In any discipline, this project often requires the formulation and investigation of a novel research question. Searching for undiscovered answers can elicit interest that simply can’t be piqued when attempting to replicate someone else’s results. The work we do at Bates for thesis—whether as a member of a professor’s research team or independently—can contribute to relevant knowledge and real change, an opportunity not offered to all undergraduates at other colleges. The forefront of academic knowledge is an exciting place to be; indeed, some students find that it’s exactly where they belong.

I am among a great number of Bates seniors and graduates who have utilized their senior thesis experiences to build their resumes as well as their character. Keeping in mind the many ways in which you can benefit from this opportunity, I hope that you can do so, as well. Enjoy it!

 

Coddling the villian: Review of The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy by Masha Gessen

We often forget that super villains have mothers. And fathers. And brothers and sisters. For most people, it is nearly impossible to reconcile that evil villains, terrorists, used to be someone’s innocent child.

In her book, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, Masha Gessen pushes her audience to understand the family and background of the Tsarnaev brothers, and how that foundation may or may not have been responsible for their act of terrorism. Presenting her book as a giant case study of the Tsarnaev family permits the reader to study the facts she presents as one would study for a politics exam. Moreover, Gessen expertly chooses anecdotes and uses specific diction that she hopes will illicit a sympathetic response. However, at least for those of us in New England, this book may come off as a plea for pity for the brothers, a plea that, most likely, will go unanswered.

By constructing her facts in a typical story arch — introduction, conflict, conclusion — Gessen allows her non-fiction collection of facts to read like a novel. This story line follows a linear time progression and goes through three generations; the reader follows the family as they move between three continents.

At the very start of the book, the author presents a mission statement. Within that declaration Gessen explicitly says that her book is about ” . . . the tragedy that preceded the bombing, the reasons that lead to it, and its invisible victims.” Baring these facts in mind, the book is a story of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s initial innocence that otherwise may not have been told.

The anecdotes from the brothers’ childhood are meant to illicit a sympathetic response from the reader. Stepping back into family lore, all the way back to where Anzor and Zubeidat (the bombers’ parents) met, and then moving through to 2013, this author is looking for her reader to form an emotional attachment to the brothers.

Furthermore, Gessen uses flowery language in the hopes that her diction will shed some sympathetic light on the Tsarnaev family. For example, when describing the scene in which the police find Dzhokhar in the boat, Gessen describes that the “terrorist responded [to the police] in a childlike voice…” Gessen creates juxtaposition within that sentence by using the words “terrorist” and “childlike” to describe Dzhokhar; this language is meant to remind the reader that this evil-doer was only nineteen years old, basically a still child, when he bombed the Boston Marathon. The same treatment is applied to Tamerlan when she says that his “cockiness had a way of coming off as innocent.” This author is trying to show her readers the benign and docile characteristics of these two men.

Midway through the book, Gessen switches from early life events of the Tsarnaev brothers and turns her gaze to the resulting political consequences of the bombings. As an active journalist in both the United States and Russia, and a staunch critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Gessen does not shy away from discussing the hard political issues. Instead, the author boldly goes to criticize the undertones of religious discrimination and initial investigation into the brothers. Gessen states that “using only the known facts, it is possible to construct a plausible theory of what happened with the Tsarnaev brothers – and to point to the gaping holes that the investigation into the attack had, at least by the time [Dzhokhar’s] trial began, failed to answer.” She suggests that the initial investigation into the brothers was shaky to start off. Thus, she readily shows her lack of confidence in the initial handling of the response and by extension the American justice system.

At times, Gessen’s book comes off as a eulogy to the children Tamerlan and Dzhokhar used to be. She laments their adult decisions and places the blame on their chaotic lives and the justice system. While it might be interesting in passing, Gessen’s representation of the story may not gain much credence with its audience.

 

Mayoral candidates offer visions of Lewiston’s future, reveal divisions in its present

On Tuesday night, in a packed room upstairs in Lewiston Public Library, the five candidates hoping to be chosen as Lewiston’s next mayor on November 3rd presented themselves to the public and shared their visions for Lewiston’s future. The forum was hosted by the Lewiston Sun Journal, Lewiston Public Library, and local law firm Norman, Hanson & DeTroy.

Ben Chin, a Bates College graduate of 2007 and the political director of the public interest group, Maine People’s Alliance, presented himself as an assertive negotiator with the skill necessary to wrangle funding from the State of Maine to pay for a progressive policy program. Chin promised to crack down on code violations by “corporate slumlords” in Lewiston’s downtown, encourage economic development on Lisbon Street, and create jobs by encouraging the solar industry. Citing a career of lobbying the state government, Chin was confident that he would be able to get funding from the state. “I’m going to be hustling to make sure that the millions of dollars our city is owed is given to us,” he promised.

Luke Jensen, a 24-year-old employee at TD Bank in Auburn and the Chair of the Lewiston Republican Committee, pointed to his youth as strength and positioned himself as a champion of the city’s outlying areas. He promised to reinstate positions in the Lewiston Fire Department, create a city advisory board staffed only by residents from suburban areas, and keep young people in the area. “Even though I’m young, with a baby face like this,” he said, alluding to his youthful appearance, “I have strong convictions.”

Robert Macdonald, Lewiston’s outspoken incumbent mayor pointed to his work bringing customer service center Argo Marketing to Lisbon Street, bringing 600 jobs, and the city’s creation of a new park under his watch. He also touted his record as an opponent of welfare spending and constantly reiterated that for Lewiston’s budgetary woes, “The only solution is welfare reform.” He also mentioned his close personal relationship with Republican Gov. Paul Lepage.

Steve Morgan, a middle-aged realtor and former City Councilor, stressed the need to attract businesses to Lewiston and promised to be a positive salesman as mayor. “Lewiston needs a mayor and ambassador to bring businesses to Lewiston and not watch them go over the river.” He promised to bring real-estate solutions like retail store development to city planning, and also promised to combat welfare fraud.

Charles Soule, a sometimes rambling 62 year-old veteran and downtown resident who has been running for mayor for the past fourteen years, asserted that “this election shouldn’t be about young versus old.” He argued that Lewiston should return to its Franco-American roots and create development by producing French automobiles and French wine.

The forum touched on topics ranging from welfare spending, downtown parking, school funding, city consolidation, and even bike lanes. Most of the candidates agreed on a number of the topics, such as increased publicity of downtown parking, bringing train service to Lewiston, and that Lewiston had an image problem that needed fixing. However, there was often a contrast between Chin, a progressive, and the other four more conservative candidates that spoke to some of the city’s societal divides.

The discussion over welfare—a hot button issue in Lewiston—seemed to speak to a divide between older and newer residents, and was further tinged by a subtext of immigration. Macdonald, Jensen, Morgan, and Soule all promised to continue welfare spending for Lewiston’s elderly. However, the four were critical of providing welfare to newcomers to Lewiston. “When you see people walking into Lewiston and asking for more money—it’s insane,” Jensen said. Macdonald expressed concern about people coming from out of state contributing to welfare costs. He also criticized Ben Chin for preventing attempts to cut welfare spending at the state level, a reference to Chin’s and Maine People’s Alliance’s campaigns to preserve welfare funding for asylum-seeking immigrants this summer. Chin for his part attempted to orient the discussion of welfare away from cuts and advocated for economic development to reduce welfare use. He also proposed creating a new office in City government to help New Mainers learn English and find jobs.

The candidates’ policies also spoke to a geographical divide in Lewiston. In attacking slumlords, championing businesses on Lisbon street, and aiming to reduce tenancy, Chin’s plans seemed predominantly oriented towards improving Lewiston’s more impoverished downtown neighborhoods. In contrast, Jensen and Morgan championed Lewiston’s suburban and rural neighborhoods, arguing that attracting middle-class families to the suburbs was the key to increasing the city’s tax base. Jensen in particular stressed his desire to “push the city’s peripheries,” describing the suburbs positively in contrast to “not as nice neighborhoods” elsewhere in the city.

The forum was formal and largely cordial, with few direct personal interactions between the candidates. However, Chin and Morgan, in evidence of their opposing policy positions, clashed over Chin’s use of the word “corporate slumlord” to describe three downtown landlords. “Mr. Chin, if I hear the word corporate slumlord one more time, I’m going to cringe,” Morgan interjected at one point.

The room was stuffed over capacity with over 200 spectators. Longtime residents indicated that this forum generated interest and attendance far above any previous mayoral race. “This is by far the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” said Mark Cayer, current City Council president and retired police officer. Members of the crowd were supporters of Ben Chin, identifiable by their blue-and-white Chin for Mayor buttons.

There were also nearly thirty Bates students in attendance and many seemed enthusiastic about Chin’s candidacy. Benjamin Palmer ’16 said he thought “Ben Chin spoke eloquently and brought confidence and specificity not seen elsewhere in the race.” Hannah Otten ’16 praised Chin, noting that “the rest of the candidates obviously perceived him as the biggest threat.”

 

Calling all women leaders

The Harward Center for Community Partnership in collaboration with Women of Color and the Feminist Collective hosted a panel discussion Wednesday, September 20th during which three women who hold public office spoke to their experiences and the importance of civic engagement for young women. As of 2014, the United States ranks 98th in the world for percentage of women who serve in the national legislature, according to a study by Representation 2020.

Peggy Rotundo, a Maine State Legislator, started her career in politics serving on the local school committee. She was encouraged by a friend to run, and driven by a desire to influence educational policy and halt the dropout rate of Lewiston students. Since her start 22 years ago, the opportunity to make a difference is “still the motivation that I get up with every morning to do my duty as an elected official,” Rotundo said.

To the women in the audience considering running for office in the future, Rotundo emphasized that each women “[has] qualities by virtue of being at Bates.” Holding public office is an opportunity to do something about something you care passionately about.

Kristen Cloutier is the Lewiston City Councilor, Ward 5. She grew up in Lewiston. After 9/11 she moved back home from Boston/New York to Lewiston to feel closer to her community. Cloutier notes that Lewiston has changed a lot over the years and that there were not as many opportunities for young people at the time. But after the 2012 mayoral election, she was excited to be part of the city council and change the way vulnerable populations were being talked about, and help those whose education is impacted by poverty.

Her time as a city councilor has been “the most rewarding work I have ever done” and “some of the hardest work I will ever do.”

Holly Lasagna serves on the Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission, which is working to join the two cities together. She spoke to her election and how she was told by people that they just wanted a woman on the commission.

The panel then broke up into small group discussions, centered on three questions examining obstacles for women seeking office, what’s exciting about this work, and how can we support women in office and in leadership.

The discussions turned into a conversation about Bates students voting in past and upcoming Lewiston and Maine elections. There is often a perception of students as “temporary citizens,” as many are only here their four years at Bates. Rotundo, Lasagna, and Cloutier offered some additional perspective.

“Your vote is incredibly precious,” Lasagna said.

“We know that the Bates vote matters,” Darby Ray, Director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships added.

Students who are involved in the service work – through the schools, Tree Street Youth, or other volunteer opportunities in Lewiston-Auburn – have a connection with the community. Therefore, their vote matters as they are invested in helping the community. Informed, invested students should consider voting, according to the panelists.

To close, the panelists noted that Legislatures, councils, and committees are “hungry for young voices.” And the women’s voice matters.

“It is very important for women to run for office because women are typically an underrepresented group and will provide a missing perspective in many public offices,” Nicole Bermudez, Senior Class Senator said. “If more women are in office, young girls become used to seeing women in positions of power and may be inspired to run for office in the future.”

The three panelists did not just wake up one morning and decide to be a legislator, city councilor, or committee member. The opportunity to make a change presented itself or they were encouraged by friend. Rotundo comments that women often wait for an invitation to participate.

“This is your invitation,” Rotundo said.

 

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