The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: November 2015 (Page 2 of 6)

Mourning is a privilege

On Friday evening, tragedy struck Paris by means of ISIS terrorism. News sources have estimated that at least 129 lives were taken in a series of coordinated attacks, including shootings at a concert venue and multiple suicide bombings. The entire world took immediate notice.

International landmarks across the globe, from the Sydney Opera House, to the Tower Bridge in London and the Empire State Building in New York were lit Friday night with red, blue and white lights to express solidarity with France. The news went viral almost instantly on Facebook, which now has over a billion users around the globe. Facebook even installed a French flag overlay for users to edit their profile pictures, similar to the rainbow flag that the social network installed when gay marriage was nationally legalized. Mark Zuckerberg himself utilized this feature to “Support France and the people of Paris.” Facebook also installed a “Safety Check” to mark yourself, friends, or family members abroad in Paris as safe.

One of the reasons why this tragedy sticks out in the media is because Paris is a place that is very similar to many cities in the United States. Culturally, we are not that different than the citizens of Paris, and as President Obama remarked on Friday night, France is our oldest ally. This tragedy also strikes a personal chord because there are members of the Bates community that are currently spending the semester abroad in France. As a community, we identify with the people and place where this tragedy occurred, thus it makes sense that we responded with tremendous empathy and support.

While these responses via social media are considerable acts of kindness and kinship towards those affected by this tragedy, we so easily forget that this is not the first ISIS attack on civilians. Syria, Kenya and Lebanon are just a few countries that have been terrorized by this extremist group. ISIS’ attack on Paris wasn’t even its first major attack of the day. The extremist group set off bombs in Beirut earlier on Friday killing almost 50 people. But it’s clear that the international response to these terrible acts is not equal to the global support France has received in the wake of this horrific incident.

Which raises the question — are we emotionally moved by the incidents in France because they are gross violations of human rights, or because they are gross violations of human rights committed against white westerners?

As a society, we don’t have a great track record of treating all human lives with the same reverence. On January 15 of this year, the UN estimated that 220,000 Syrians have died during the nation’s civil war. Many of the dead were killed by their own government, which allegedly used toxic gas to end civilian lives. These events were not treated with the same attention and respect both in social media and news coverage. Why has there never been a Syrian or Kenyan flag option so that we may virtually stand in solidarity with the lives that have been both threatened and taken?

It makes sense that we, as a community, would feel scared, threatened, and sympathetic in response to these atrocities committed against white westerners, because we are taught to relate to them. This is exactly the type of life that this country is taught to value, and value above every other life. There is no ethical rationalization that could explain how 220,000 Syrian lives could matter less than 129 Parisian lives. The silencing of the deaths and injured lives of peoples of color furthers this nation’s structured ideology of xenophobia and racism, and strengthens our cultural narrative of islamophobia. What happens when we react solely to the Paris tragedy is that we ignore and continue to under-represent the tragedies resulting from human rights violations all around the world.

Combating ISIS without resorting to violence or inciting xenophobia

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, governments around the world have enforced tighter security measures to ensure the immediate safety of their citizens. In the midst of heightened fear we must ensure that we do not enact any policy changes that are rash and that may not only prove to be inefficient, but are unnecessarily undermining the livelihood of other people.

The series of attacks in Paris left at least 129 victims dead and over 350 injured or wounded. As the extensive search for the perpetrators continues, authorities believe that one of the attackers may have disguised himself as a refugee, traveling with a group through Greece in early October. These concurrent events of a massive refugee movement and the recent attacks introduce the possibility of falling into the trap of xenophobic and racist political responses disguised as security measures and accepted by citizens as necessary precautions.

Immediately after the attacks, France’s President, François Hollande, announced temporarily closing the French border, something that the nation had not seen since 1944 at the end of World War II. Many European countries, including Germany, have suspended the Schengen agreement, which had made travel between participating countries easier since 1985. These changes, however, are seen as short-term decisions intended to help catch any of the fleeing attackers. The intention behind the closing of the French border is crucial, as the measure seems to be set up to block off exit from the country as opposed to entrance. The problem, however, begins to escalate tenfold once other countries begin tightening borders from incoming refugees, many of whom are trying to escape from the exact same sorts of horrors that we are trying to prevent by closing more borders.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump was quick to politicize the issue by inciting the NRA’s prescription for a world diagnosed with an obsession for weaponry, namely, by pointing out that if the victims of the Paris attacks had guns the events would have unfolded quite differently, despite the fact that countless studies have found that an introduction and increase in weapon prevalence is strongly correlated with increased incidents of violence. Go figure.

Closing the gap in the GOP race to the White House, Dr. Ben Carson considered aloud what he would do if he were “one of the leaders of the global jihadist movement,” according to New York Magazine and explained how hiding someone in the group of refugees would be a viable way of infiltrating a country. As stated before, authorities do in fact believe that at least one of the attackers travelled with a group of refugees and had possibly used a fake passport; however, barring all refugees from entering the country isn’t isolating and eliminating the problem at hand, something I would imagine a neurosurgeon would’ve gotten fairly good at by now.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, approximately 210,060 people have died in Syria, according to conservative estimates, averaging about 144 people per day. Yet apart from the hardships of escaping a nation undergoing a civil war, these estimated 4-million Syrian refugees now also have to experience the ugly faces of xenophobia and racism, as refugees are increasingly being targeted as being potential culprits in future attacks.

The U.S., however, has issued no plans on curtailing the effort to accept refugees, with President Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes explaining, according to USA Today, “Let’s remember, we’re also dealing with people who’ve suffered the horrors of war, women and children, orphans. We can’t just shut our doors to those people. We need to sort out how to focus on the terrorists that we need to keep out of the country.” While the U.S. is still on track to accept around 10,000 Syrian refugees, sentiments have grown heated.

Two U.S. law enforcement officials have already disclosed that the FBI plans on increasing monitoring of any suspected ISIS sympathizers. Whenever possible, we ought to go about finding ways to prevent terrorism that do not infringe upon the rights of humans, whether that be racially profiling individuals, closing borders from refugees, or invading the privacy of others. Terrorism pundit John Schindler recently wrote a piece in which he suggested that the only way to go about preventing such attacks in France was to begin arresting and imprisoning “potential jihadists,” those who may hold certain beliefs even if they have not committed any crime yet. This sort of thought-policing, already inherently problematic, is now also susceptible to subjecting certain groups of individuals to scorn over others. The last thing, it seems, that Europe needs in the midst of a large refugee crisis and increasing racial and xenophobic sentiments is the systematic generalization, accusation, and internment of large groups of minority groups.

Very often we begin to forget that many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees are trying to escape exactly that which we are trying to defeat: violent theocracies. One dentistry student and Syrian refugee reflected on the recent attacks in Paris by saying to ThinkProgress, “What’s happening to them is happening every day in Syria, 100 times per day for five years…”

The student’s point is not to belittle the Paris attacks, but rather, seems to be an effort to make people realize that we are both fighting on the same side. Why is it then, that we do not account for those who have already been terrorized by Islamic extremism, such as many of these Syrian refugees? Preventing mass terrorism and attending to victims of a common enemy are not mutually exclusive ideas. Conflating the Syrian refugee crisis with terrorism only catalyzes unnecessary tensions, neglects the millions of victims of senseless acts of injustice, and breeds domestic xenophobia and racism.

Yet many choose to ignore the plights of the refugees and insist on favoritism, especially whenever it is most politically and personally convenient. GOP presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, for instance, after the attacks called for the U.S. to take in refugees, insofar as they are Christians, of course. This sort of petty religious favoritism has no place when considering the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. To add insult to injury, Cruz continued by releasing an official statement on his website in which the senator claims that the U.S. ought to be less concerned about killing civilians in airstrikes, especially “when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life.” One cannot justify one wrongdoing by trying to replicate it under a different flag.

Regardless, French fighter jets dropped twenty bombs on ISIS sites in Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday. But this wasn’t some last resort militaristic strategy. It was purely retribution, with retired Major General James “Spider” Marks explaining, “It’s a military activity, but it really sends a very strong political message, and it’s all for internal consumption within France. This is very visceral. The types of targets they strike right now really are symbolic.”

There is no justification for dropping “symbolic bombs.” Our outcry should be for France to stop using human lives as a way to get a message across. Isn’t this the sort of senseless violence, the utter disregard for human lives, that which we’re trying to stop by dropping these bombs and engaging in further military action? It is easy to consider situations in which war may truly be a last resort; the hard part is coming up with solutions before we reach that point.

As Janine di Giovanni, an editor for Newsweek, said, “I think that it’s very complicated, launching airstrikes like this as a retribution, but also as a way of wiping out ISIS. Because, the other thing is, that you can’t wipe out an ideology.” And she’s absolutely right.

Instead of focusing on hasty militaristic efforts, we should remember that it was only in 2013 that Saudi Arabia passed legislation criminalizing the financial support of terrorist organizations including the likes of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Al-Nusra. Despite the passed legislation, ISIS is believed to have received funding of upwards of $40-million in just the past two years from either governments or private sources in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, three of America’s allies in the region.

ISIS’ reliance on weapons and wealth exposes the group’s vulnerability. The use of brute force and violence exposes the insecurities of the ideas backing the movement. Without access to these sorts of weapons, many of which are American-made, as well as the wealthy donors to this cause, it seems that the scope of ISIS and its effects may crumble if we cut off ISIS from that which makes it dangerous to humanity: its violent ways. Instead of falling into the NRA logic of claiming that violence can only be stopped by more violence, perhaps we ought to consider getting to the source of the problems and begin dismembering ideas instead of people.

Tobacco Free Campus Initiative: What do the students really want?

Earlier in September The Bates Student reported on the new Tobacco Free Campus Initiative spearheaded by sophomore Reed Mszar and the Public Health Initiative, as well as ‘Cats Against Cancer. The current Bates policy has not changed since 2004, making Bates and Bowdoin the only two colleges, out of 21 in Maine, that are not smoke-free.

To reiterate the policy:

“Smoking, the burning of any type of pipe, cigar, cigarette, or similar product, and chewing tobacco is prohibited in all campus buildings, including residence halls, as well as in all vehicles owned, leased or rented by the College. Smoking is prohibited within 50 feet, approximately 20 paces, of all campus buildings, including residence halls.”

Bates, who pioneers itself as a progressive institution, is behind, but not because of Administrative opposition to a new policy. After discussing the initiative with Dean McIntosh, Athletic Director Kevin McHugh and other members of the administration, Mszar found that a new policy garnered unanimous backing. “It was clear that the Administration would fully support this Tobacco-free Initiative, so long as this was something that the student body, as a whole, truly wanted” Mszar said.

As a result, the Public Health Initiative conducted a survey not only found on the Bates Today, but also on the napkin dispensers in Commons. Mszar states that the survey is intended to gauge the opinions of all members of the Bates community in order to develop a fair path forward with a new policy regarding tobacco use on campus. The new policy is not intended to isolate the smoking population, but “since students, staff, and faculty all share the same campus, everyone’s voice matters,” Mszar said.

The results of the survey are too preliminary to draw any substantial conclusions, but Mszar believes that they will shed light on some of the concerns throughout campus. However, one point has become clear—there needs to be a much greater enforcement of the 50 foot policy. Currently, the policies enforcement is lackadaisical. Students can be seen standing outside of Commons, Ladd Library and other academic buildings smoking less than a 50 foot radius away. Faculty and Staff currently abide by the 50 foot policy. Commons workers travel across Campus Avenue to the field where tailgates are held to smoke.

Senior Jessie Jacobson does not smoke, but she has many close friends who do.

“They don’t acknowledge [the 50 foot policy]…they probably don’t know the policy exists. The fact that there is a rule respected by Commons workers is disrespectful regardless if students know or not,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson also serves as the Peer Writing Assistant to the Tobacco in History and Culture First Year Seminar. She talked about the smoking ban with her professor. To Jacobson’s surprise, her professor was not wholeheartedly for a ban.

Regardless of health concerns, the Public Health Initiative is committed to a fair response. “As this is a particularly sensitive issue,” Mszar said, “the road to becoming a tobacco-free campus should be a gradual and thoughtful one, one that incorporates different perspectives in an open and respectful dialogue.”

Shaping Sound and So You Think You Can Dance astound Portland in a weekend of dance

The bakground at the live SYTYCD performance. RILEY HOPKINS/THE BATES STUDENT

As a Dance major here at Bates, I am constantly looking for shows and venues to quench my enthusiast thirst. I was lucky enough to attend two spectacular shows this past weekend, both in Portland. Professional dance company Shaping Sound performed their show Dance Reimagined at Merrill Auditorium and the So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) season 12 tour came to the Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday. Both of these shows were clearly constructed to be spectacles for the audience, made for pure enjoyment, excitement and entertainment, almost in a Cirque du Soleil fashion.

Coincidentally, both of these shows were quite similar because of their relationship to one another. Shaping Sound was founded by Travis Wall, now an Emmy award-winning dancer and choreographer, with the help of three other professional dancers, Teddy Forance, Nick Lazzarini and Kyle Robinson. Wall was a finalist on SYTYCD – a dance competition TV show that begins with 20 dancers and eliminates two every week until a winner is chosen – almost a decade ago in their second season. His cast now consists of several past contestants of the show, including Lazzarini, winner of the very first season, Jaimie Goodwin of season three, Kathryn McCormick and Channing Cooke both of season six, Ricky Ubeda who won season 11, Kate Harpootlian of season 12 and several other amazing dancers in the professional world. Watching all of these talented dancers on Friday night that all emerged from the same origins, followed by the show that got them where they are today, was truly special.

Dancers take a curtain call at Shaping Sound. RILEY HOPKINS/THE BATES STUDENT

Personally, I thought the Shaping Sound performance was more enjoyable than the SYTYCD tour, if there’s even a notable discrepancy among their entertainment values. Overall, it was more professional and developed. However, this makes sense because this cast has more experience in the professional world than the dancers on the tour – SYTYCD is just the beginning of their career. The dancers in Shaping Sound are more seasoned, simply put. The show followed a storyline the entire time as duets, trios and group pieces transitioned effortlessly in and out of each other on stage.

The show began and ended with pedestrian choreography. The dancers were walking around stage wearing everyday clothing, silently interacting with each other in a way that mimicked the movement of humans in ordinary settings. Before long, they fluidly integrated technical, high energy and exciting choreography that set the tone for the entire performance. The intense and complex concert lighting, the gaudy sets and the clear sound system all amplified the overall surface value of the performance.

McCormick was the main character as she battled light and dark forces manipulating her life both in dreams and reality. The rest of the company performed in various costumes and characters as they portrayed the light and dark McCormick was struggling through. There was one point when she had a large white sheet attached to her waist and the end corners were attached to cables as they were lifted to the ceiling, causing the sheet to cast a white landscape within the entire three-dimensional space of the stage. The other dancers were rolling and crawling from behind, below and around the sheet, emphasizing McCormick’s presence as the main character and personifying the light that the sheet was representing. This is just one example of how the company worked together to elevate the show from entertaining to spectacular.

Shaping Sound’s most popular photo. RILEY HOPKINS/THE BATES STUDENT

Similar to Dance Reimagined, the SYTYCD was clearly a spectacle. The intense and creative lighting, the technical backdrops and the booming music all contributed to this. However, unlike the Shaping Sound’s performance, there was no story to follow. This was strictly a showcase of all the fan-favorite dance numbers from this season. There were no clear transitions between numbers, in fact it was a bit awkward to watch the dancers just leave stage and have the next performers come in at the same time. They tried to make it smooth by attempting to meld the beginning of one dance to the end of the previous one, but it didn’t quite work. Nevertheless, there is no denying that these dancers put on an amazing show and upheld their incredible technique in an artistic and superhuman manner.

One of the dancers, Hailee Payne who came in fourth place, stole the show. She was in almost every number and stood out the most (this was unanimous among everyone I talked to about the show). I didn’t even notice the winner of the show because Payne caught my attention every time with her incredible technique, charisma and loud personality on stage that put her above the rest.

Both Shaping Sound and SYTYCD took Portland by storm this past weekend. Although I have come to value dance in different ways since coming to Bates, I still appreciate what these dancers have offered us and would see them live again and again.

Meet the presidents

Ryerson and Brittis-Tannenbaum seek to create new traditions for the Class of 2016. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

Ryerson and Brittis-Tannenbaum seek to create new traditions for the Class of 2016. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

Andre Brittis-Tannenbaum and Sally Ryerson have been elected as the new senior class co-presidents. The Bates Student sat down with one co-president, Ryerson, and asked her a few questions.

The Bates Student: Why did you decide to run for senior class president?

Sally Ryerson: We wanted to see the class really bond as a cohesive unit not just during senior week, but all year round. I think our class does have something special and Andre and I wanted to ensure that senior week is the best one that Bates has ever seen.

We also thought this role is really cool because the role of the senior class president lasts a lifetime, meaning that we are in charge of the reunions and fostering the relationships between members of the Class of 2016 beyond senior year.

TBS: What are some of your plans and goals as president?

SR: Instead of doing the previously established events for senior week, we want to find new ones and create new traditions. We want to keep the old ones, but possibly have a night where the whole senior class goes out and parties on a boat. I have these crazy ideas, like taking advantage of the slope by Page by creating a slip and slide.

I also want to keep the line of communication open between the student body and the Administration because I know that a lot of students feel like their voices are not being heard. As senior class presidents we really want to make every voice heard. I am considering creating an anonymous drop box where people can post their ideas and concerns. They can either have their name attached to it or not because sometimes it can be easier for people to be anonymous. Then, Andre and I can bring those points up to the Administration just to make sure that every person on campus is being heard.

TBS: What are some skills that you possess that you think fit well with the role of the president?

SR: Andre and I have co-hosted numerous events together. We can deal with the stress that comes along when you have to organize and plan a specific event. We have really big and wild imaginations and that creativity is really important in planning events. Our communication skills are also vital, for Andre and I love to talk—sometimes too much, but we believe it will be an asset in this case.

One thing that I need to work on is keeping organized with the little details encompassing an event, but Andre and I will be on top of this and have been mentally preparing for this.

TBS: What are some challenges you have run into recently?

SR: We have not run into challenges yet because it is so early in the process. The only challenge that we have run into was during the campaigning process where people took down our posters, but I think it is because we are not supposed to put posters up on the glass wall.

However, I am sure there will be some challenges later on while working with the Administration and the deans. There are bound to be some conflicting opinions along the way and it is part of our deal to work through those problems.

TBS: How had you been campaigning?

SR: We have been utilizing Facebook and the Class of 2016 page. We made a Facebook event and invited all the seniors and reminded them to vote. We also went around to Commons and talked to the tables with seniors. We merely reminded them to log onto Garnet Gateway and cast their vote because that can always slip people’s minds when so many things are going on. The last thing they may be thinking is, “I need to get on Garnet Gateway.”

The history of the NFL on Thanksgiving

One of the best times of the year is almost here. It is one of the only days where you can eat all you want and not feel bad about yourself. The turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and of course the ever-scrumptious stuffing your mother makes promises the best meal and reminds you how lackluster Commons does the food at Harvest Dinner.

However, another tradition that has become a staple on Thanksgiving Day is the three NFL games that turkey-goers have placed countless bets on. This tradition dates way back, starting just 11 years after the end of the Civil War in 1876 when football fans all had the special day off and decided to make football a part of the day’s festivities. It started with college programs such as Yale, Princeton, and Michigan leading the Thanksgiving Day charge, followed by a brief lull in popularity in the early 19th century due to problems such as numerous rigging scandals.

Towards the 1930s, the NFL on Thanksgiving began to take real shape. While it was not as exclusive as it is today, teams such as the Chicago Bears and New York Giants took part in the festivities. After the outbreak of World War II forced a temporary cancellation of the games from 1941 to war’s end, the Packers highlighted a 13-season run by solely playing the Detroit Lions each Turkey Day.

From 1958 leading up to present day, the shape of Thanksgiving Day football has largely remained the same. Aside from the shuffling of teams in and out, the NFL has provided fans with significant entertainment. Stretching far beyond the confines of select NFL stadiums, it is common to see family and friends battling it out on their own gridiron before the Tryptophan hits.

In the modern day, three teams have dominated Thanksgiving airtime, including the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers. The Philadelphia Eagles hold the best record for Thanksgiving Day games (6-0) and look to keep their streak alive against the Lions a week from tomorrow.

 

#BatesStandsWithMizzou under the lights

On Monday evening, hundreds of Bates students came together on Garcelon Field to take a photo demonstrating their solidarity with students in the Concerned Student 1950 movement at the University of Missouri. Students there are currently protesting racism and racial prejudice on the part of that school’s administration. An estimated 250 to 300 students, staff, faculty, and community members attended the event at Bates—organizers were pleased with the strong show of student and institutional support for those speaking out against racism on college campuses across the nation.

Since November 2nd, students at the University of Missouri have been protesting the continued presence of blatant and institutional racism towards black students, condemning Mizzou’s administration for ignoring these issues. Leading the charge in these protests is the organization called Concerned Student 1950, which takes its name from the year that University of Missouri first accepted a black student. While the protests had been previously circling on certain social media circles, they became a nationwide news topic last weekend when Mizzou’s football team, led by at least 30 black football players, threatened to boycott all football activities unless student demands were met. Protests eventually pushed the school’s president to resign.

On social media, students and student groups on campuses throughout the country have been issuing declarations, photos and videos expressing support and solidarity with the student protesters at Mizzou. Bates students decides to express their support as well.

A Facebook event titled #BatesStandWithMizzou, was created on Wednesday, November 11th. “On Monday, November 16th at 5pm, we as a campus will show our support and solidarity with these students by taking a photo on Garcelon Field holding a large banner that will read: “#BatesStandsWithMizzou.” The event was organized by a small group of students that included Rakiya Mohamed ’18, Raegine Mallett ’18, Annakay Wright ’17, Rachel Chappell ’18, Kenyata Venson ’18, Monet Blakey ’17, Yara Abdelhady ’17, and Ayesha Sharma ’18.

151116_Bates_Stands_With_Mizzou_0097

Approximately 250-300 Bates students, faculty, and staff gathered on Garcelon Field at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16, for a photograph to express that #BatesStandsWithMizzou. Following the picture, the Office of Intercultural Education provided a space for dialogue and support for all. PHYLLIS GRABER JENSEN/BATES COLLEGE

The majority of the action was directed by Rakiya Mohamed ’18, from Auburn, ME. Wielding a megaphone, Mohamed welcomed the increasingly large group to the event, and directed arrivals to cluster around the 50-yard line in front of the bleachers, where another student organizer stood with a camera. Other students helping to organize the event were directing arrivals to sign their names on a large and colorful banner that read “#BatesStandsWithMizzou,” and beneath it, “#ConcernedStudent1950.” The banner was so covered in names that little white space was visible.

When it came time to take the photo, Mohamed kicked off the demonstrating by shouting into the megaphone, “Make some noise for yourselves!” eliciting a large roar in response from the crowd. “We are here because we at Bates feel like Black students at Mizzou need our support, need some love right now,” she said. Alluding to instances of violence and racism that have rocked the world over the past five days, Mohamed added, “there are a lot of places that need some love right now.” Shortly thereafter, the banner was brought to the front row of the crowd, Mohamed advised participants to have serious faces during the picture, and said “If you want to put your fist up, put your fist up.”

The demonstration had broad support from all quarters of the Bates community. In addition to the large number of students, there were many faculty and staff in the crowd as well. Organizer Yara Abdelhady ‘18 said she was “definitely pleased with the turnout. It’s heartwarming to see this turnout.” President Clayton Spencer was present, along with administrators from the Office of Intercultural Education, Office of Campus Life, the Athletic Department and Admissions. Phyllis Graber Jensen from the Communications Office was on the bleachers taking photos along with one of the student organizers. The megaphone used by Mohamed was provided by the Athletic Department.

The Bates Football team played a particular role in the demonstration. After most of the crowd had departed, a large contingent of the football team, along with coaching staff, crowded around the banner to take a picture. Mohamed told The Student that originally she had talked to one person on the football team, Ben Coulibaly ’17, about getting black football players to participate in the demonstration. However, she said that when Coach Mark Harriman heard about the demonstration, he strongly encouraged all of his players to get involved. The demonstration was originally planned for Friday, but was moved to Monday when organizers learned that the Football team was out of town for their final game against Hamilton.

Praising the awareness of many Bates students, but alluding to larger fundamental issues, Mohamed said, “We have a group of people here who are aware of blatant racism, but there’s also institutional racism.” But she expressed optimism about the conversation about race at Bates going forward. “If we had support like this tonight, we can get support like this for other stuff. There are a lot of ways we can influence each other, encourage each other to be respectful.”

Student participants also felt positive about the event. Max Silverman ’16 expressed a hope that this event would spur students to be more involved in social justice movements in the future. “I hope people bring that support beyond this photo-op, and that students continue engaging with social justice movements,” Silverman said.

“They Fly Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease:” Food for thought

Everyone likes to think that they have a strong moral character. Yes, I realize that is a sweeping generalization; but think about it. People want to say that they would rather stand in front of a bullet than shoot a gun themselves. People like playing the hero. But, as history shows, the faith individuals put in their personal fortitude is easily broken, and most of the time, people will simply follow orders when the time comes. Originally a radio play, “They Fly Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease,” written by Norman Corwin and directed by Bates’ Samuel Wheeler ’17, fleshes out this question of morality for the audience to see.

Since its origins come from a radio play aired in 1939, there are unique factors that the director and cast overcame. Wheeler notes that “[the production] was a challenge because the ensemble and I were taking something entirely auditory and making it visual.” However, this jump across mediums allowed Wheeler to make the stage movements completely his own, since there was no concrete example by which to model. However, the director also notes “the challenge of creating the visual aspect out of virtually nothing was [his] favorite part of the process.” The return on the investment of his work was palpable to see, the end result of a fluently and beautifully staged play.

Theatre is a collaborative art; a good director does not make all his decisions without consulting his cast members. Claire Sullivan ’19 remarks that “[Wheeler] encouraged a very collaborative process, meaning that our input in terms of blocking and character choices were extremely important to him.” This collaborative spirit is evident in the seamless running of the show, and the way characters were able to play off each other.

Without characters there could be no plot, and without plot there would be no play. Here, the cast is made up of only five actors, with each of the actors playing multiple roles. This type of performing is called an ensemble piece, and can be very tricky to do correctly. Nicholas Muccio ’16 explains that “every actor has more than one role, and the separation between these two roles errs on the side of fluid as opposed to static.” In different plays, the audience can be befuddled following characters as they continuously slip into different roles. However, in this production, the characters easily lead the audience through the character switches.

Visually, the show was entertaining and kept the audience on their toes throughout the performance. The intimate setting of the Black Box Theater allows for an up close view of the actors. By sitting directly in front of the actors, the audience was able to fully appreciate the emotional turmoil each character felt. Sometimes in larger venues, audience members can be sitting hundreds of feet away from the stage and the individualized expressed emotions are lost in the distance. While each venue has its own place and time when it is useful, for an emotionally charged production such as this, the Black Box was a good choice.

As all good directors do, Wheeler wants his audience to leave with “something to think about.” The problems the characters face in this production are still relevant today. While the world is now concerned about the threat of terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests rather than bomber airplanes dropping incendiary missiles, the threat still remains. “The acts of war depicted in the show are unfortunately too present in our society and this show hopes to act as a jumping-off point for thought,” Wheeler concludes.

Actors in the Black Box perform directly in front of the audience. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

“Melancholy Play:” Live music, choreograpghy and salted almonds

Azure Reid-Russell ‘17 plays the character of Joan in Sarah Ruhl’s play. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

On a cold and desolate Sunday evening while most students are scrambling to finish their homework, Allie Freed ’16 is sprawled across a musty old couch under a bright fluorescent spotlight. Posed as a hopeful, yet depressed young woman, her character, Tilly, assumes a melancholy role, desperate to find happiness in the minute details in life. “Melancholy Play” is not only filled with witty comedy featuring existential almonds, but it is a play representing the necessity of emotion, specifically the necessity to be sad and feel melancholy.

Written by playwright Sarah Ruhl, the play tells the story of a depressed and iconoclastic woman named Tilly, and the different people she affects. Through the use of great metaphors and stories that touch people’s emotions, Tilly is able to make all the people in her life fall in love with her, but only in her melancholic state. She glides from person to person, vividly describing the solitude and hopelessness that comes with being melancholy. Directed by Sam Myers ’16, “Melancholy Play” attempts to create a raw and dynamic atmosphere where actors and audience members are able to connect through the emotional state of the dialogue.

“Why are you like an almond?” Throughout the play, Tilly uses the demeanor of an almond to understand the ones around her and to connect with her fellow characters. She describes the almond as being hard and unfulfilling and only edible with salt. But she goes into great detail about the inside of an almond; how she wants to crack it open and look at what makes up an almond. Tilly wants to understand other humans. She wants to crack people open and find the good in each and every individual. Her eventual happiness stems from a genuine concern of the well-being of the people she loves.

Freed commented on her role as Tilly. “I really loved exploring Tilly’s melancholy. Melancholy is a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no cause, and this specificity inherent in the definition was so fun to play with and explore. I think the biggest challenge I faced was that Tilly, as a character, lives so honestly within her emotions, but does so with such nuance and subtlety. I really enjoyed working on her emotional arc, making sure that I was capturing her emotions truthfully but still giving them depth and complexity.”

Allie Freed ‘16 and Hope French ‘18 perform side-by-side in “Melancholy Play.” DREW PERLMUTTER/ THE BATES STUDENT

“A huge part of the play is that the characters are so honest and they talk about their feelings with so much sincerity,” Myers said. “I really just wanted to connect with an audience and have them leave feeling like they had seen something honest. They hadn’t been lied to.”

A large element of the play, according to Myers, was the challenge of mixing all these different entities into one theatrical performance. Throughout the play there was a live musical accompaniment done by cellist Izzie Koyama ’16 and composed by Maddie Legro ’16. Myers went on to say that there was also extensive choreography done by Laura Pietropaoli ’17 that was learned in a very short amount of time.

Many audience members thought the play was something different than what they had previously seen.

“I thought that it was fantastically done. I’ve been going here for a while and I know all the actors and I think they did an excellent job with Sarah Ruhl’s play” Brennen Malone ’17 said. “Shows like this have a very scattered feel to it but it was very much contained to the point where I could watch it where it was understandable and comedic at the same time.”

Freed concluded, “this experience has been absolutely wonderful and one of the most rewarding and collaborative projects that I have worked on. Our entire cast and creative team worked so well together.”

 

 

Dance Repertory: Worth the commitment

Dancers embody new ways of movement in the dance studios. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

PERLMUTTER_20151108_0376As college students, we spend twelve weeks per semester in any one class learning from the same person. Let me rephrase: that is two thousand and sixteen hours listening to one person’s point of view on a given subject matter.

However, that is not the case for the Dance Repertory Performance class, which meets three hours every day. Though time consuming, the course is so unique that it is worth the commitment. Affectionately called Rep, students not only learn from the Bates instructor, but from guest choreographers brought in throughout the semester to work with students and take a one to two week residency at Bates. At the end of fall semester, students perform the pieces they learned at the Fall Dance Concert. Carol Dilley, the head of the Dance Department, describes Rep as “one of our most advanced and exciting classes in the Dance curriculum . . . [because] students engage in intensive choreographic processes with a variety of different artists.”

So far artists such as Cathy Young, Dante Brown and Sara Juli have already guest-taught. These different artists bring fresh ideas to the dance community and force students to be adaptive and constantly interact with new ideas. Laura Pietropaoli ’17 remarks “everyone in the room is in a perpetual state of discovering, changing and learning about how different people work in different ways.” Adaptability is a necessary tool for a dancer because outside in the real world, they can be expected to seamlessly embody the expectations of the dance group or choreographer.

Personal growth for the student dancers is also a pivotal aspect of the program. Mary Anne Bodnar ’16 remarks “artists tend to do a really good job of giving each of us personal feedback that makes us better dancers and community members.” The personal facet of the program is also mirrored in the strength of the Bates community.

This class brings an extra layer of cohesion to its members, which allows them to grow and learn together as a unit. Bodnar states “during each residency there is always a simultaneous emphasis on building community, technique, performance quality, cast relations and a genuine sense of self-respect.” Put those ingredients together and the end result is a dance company that is in tune to each other, thus making the performance more enjoyable for both the audience members and the dancers.

Rep is not exclusive to students who danced since they could walk. If a student shows enough interest in learning the craft, he or she can excel in this course. Brett Ranieri ’16 picked up dancing his sophomore year in college. “[I] still look at myself as someone who is ‘new to dance,’ but the choreographers that I’ve been able to work with in this Rep class have a special quality of considering everyone’s presence in the studio regardless of their previous skill level or experience,” Ranieri said. This is a true luxury for an intensive class to contain.

This course is quite a success; students cannot seem to get enough. Both Bodnar and Pietropaoli participated in this class since their first year at Bates. For both of the performers, Rep is an essential part of their dancing experience. Pietropaoli notes “I’m not sure my experience in the arts at Bates would be the same if I did not continue taking this class each fall.”

To have a class make such an integral difference is a quality that each of our courses here should strive to do.

Gavin Schuerch rehearses in the Repertory class. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

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