The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: December 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

In defense of Yale: The issue of White respectability politics

In the previous issue of The Bates Student, Harry Meadows presented an argument against Yale students protesting Erika Christakis’s email, stating that the protesters expressed “blunt and violent intolerance towards opposing viewpoints.” Respectfully, I wish to point out that his response – as well as the response from The Atlantic, Vox, and many other sources across the nation – directly engage with white respectability politics.

Allow me to expand: “White respectability politics,” a term becoming increasingly popular as the Black Lives Matter movement picks up speed, refers to the neoliberal assertion that people of color – and especially students of color – should abide by societal standards of politeness when engaging in political discourse on race. Within the context of BLM, the disruption of society through public occupation, protest, and expressions of anger directly defy the polite mode of action that should (i.e. that white people would find most comfortable) be taken by people of color to discuss their own oppression.

What Meadows misunderstands about the occupation of Yale, the anger of these black students and its manifestation on this campus, is that black people do not owe white people comfort. Let me say this again: black people do not owe white people any form of comfort in discussing their oppression. When black students feel their concerns are being undermined by a privileged white womyn who neither understands their immense fear nor deep-seeded and historical pain, there is no reason to prioritize her or her husbands’ comfort – especially when she has instigated the argument.

Meadows quotes Christakis’s email in his article, defending it as a “reasonable” rebuttal to the “questionable” announcement originally sent out by the Intercultural Affairs Committee and several Yale faculties. I would argue that these adjectives should be reversed. Yale has a long history of racially insensitive action on the part of its students – from the blackface events of Halloween ’07 to the recent “white girls only” party at the school’s SAE chapter. Furthermore, schools across the country, including the University of Colorado and Ohio University, have sent out emails similar to this one in the past. Distributing an email asking students to remember, as they have neglected to do in the past, to consider the implications of their costume – to remember that other cultures deserve respect – is only ridiculous because it has reached this point. It is only ridiculous because students must be told, again and again in our modern time, to respect each other. This is not a Yale-specific problem; this is a systemic, historical, racially driven problem.

In her email Christakis states that she does not want to “trivialize” genuine concerns by the student body over race, respect and safety. My question is, then, why did she not take greater caution and kindness in its formation? She explicitly asks at one point: “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Citing her experience as a former preschool teacher, Christakis expresses genuine confusion over the fact “there is something objectionably ‘appropriative’ about a blonde-haired child’s wanting to be Mulan for a day.” There is no way that I can approach this section of the email without an intense sense of anger, confusion, and hurt for the students that have to know this person is in a position of power over them. To answer her first question: no. There is absolutely no room for people to repurpose the culture of other people because Walt Disney, a known racist and bigot, decided to create a children’s film riddled with stereotypes about Chinese culture. My question for her is: if you, as a child psychologist, understand the importance of introducing lessons to a child during their early – and thus, developing – stages of life, would you not rather capitalize on this opportunity to teach children not to perpetuate these stereotypes? Would it not be more beneficial for all people of color (the people that you claim to have genuine concern for) to explain to white children especially the racist implications of these costumes, still so readily available in the 21st century?

On the issue of Nicholas Christakis: it upsets me that Harry has forgotten to mention the master’s advice to all students prior to the video released of the student yelling at him at Silliman College. Written in his wife’s email, N. Christakis aptly told students that if “you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended.” This statement is riddled with the privilege that has brought America to these racial tensions. Firstly, simply “looking away” does not erase the image from someone’s mind; this is blatantly rude and ignorant advice. Second of all, people of color are told – through social media and everyday interactions – that their lives are insignificant. Why then, would someone assume that they could simply approach another person to let them know that they are “offended” – the most lenient, problematic description of a student of color’s pain – by what they are wearing? Daily, systematic abuse of our cultures and populations wears most of us down to the point where we cannot stand to teach white America anymore about why their various actions and lifestyles are wrong (another whole issue that needs to be discussed.) How, then, are people of color supposed to gather the strength, and persist past the pain, to explain again to someone why their costume offends?

Furthermore, this media and social backlash against the student in the video exerts the very issue of respectability politics. Instead of focusing at all on N. Christakis’s shortcomings as an academic authority or his offensive comment, the media has attacked the legitimacy of the student’s tactics. Both Christakises have dismissed the very prevalent and historically ignored concerns of these students with an email. Why, then, would that student – or any other of color – owe them their kindness?

Subtle and unconscious expressions of intolerance and racism will persist long past our lifetime. Vocalizing our ignorance is, as Meadows aptly alluded, the only way to continue educating ourselves. However, there is a difference between productive discussion and assumed authority that has been left undistinguished in the Yale case. I hope here at Bates we continue such discourse among ourselves and keep the relevance of these issues alive.

Stop covering up White Christian terrorism

Following the Planned Parenthood attacks on November 27 that left three dead and at least 11 wounded, local police identified the perpetrator as 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear Jr. The shooting took place at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, raising the possibility that it may have been a planned and targeted attack with anti-abortion motives, confirmed by the fact that Dear said “no more baby parts” in an interview with investigators after the shooting. Despite this, it was only a matter of time before the tragedy entered the political stage and was exploited to further an agenda.

The comment “no more baby parts” refers to a provocative Planned Parenthood video which was leaked months ago, alleging the sale of fetal tissue material. Since the release of the leaked video, it has been found that this heavily edited video explains that the reference taken in context was actually in regards to donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research in an effort to “serve their patients.” Despite this, the idea of making money worried individuals as there may have been an underlying monetary motivation behind the selling of fetal tissue to researchers; however, as it turns out, the cost of $30-100 is about the standard price scientific researchers pay for tissue material of this sort, a price that barely breaks even with the cost of providing the tissue samples, never mind actually turning a profit.

The last thing the GOP wants is to have people think that the belief of anti-abortion rhetoric and these doctored videos is what inspired and motivated the terrorist act. If anything, they are going to want to distance themselves from these allegations. The first tactic employed was claiming that the shooting began outside Chase Bank and that the shooter just happened to take cover in the Planned Parenthood clinic after authorities showed up, then leading to Fox News reporting that this attack was then probably a “bank robbery gone wrong,” despite the fact that the entire incident occurred at the Planned Parenthood clinic, according to local police.

Ted Cruz became the first GOP candidate to speak about the incident, aware of the potential backlash this sort of uncovering may have on people’s perceptions of the anti-abortion movement. In a desperate effort to distance himself and anti-abortion views from the shooting, Cruz decided to instead insinuate that the shooter could be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.” This idea comes out of a finding that Dear is registered as a female, according to a voter registration document. This implies one of two plausible situations. Either it is that Dear identifies as a woman or that there was a typo in the voter registration, given that there has been no other evidence speaking to Dear’s gender identity. Regardless, upon learning this, Cruz attributed Dear’s potential identification to “leftist activism,” which is inherently smuggling in the idea that anyone who identifies as trans must necessarily then also not only be a leftist, but must be promoting an agenda of leftist activism simply by existing as a trans individual. A further investigation later revealed that it was indeed a typo.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan later remarked that this tragedy only emphasizes our need to focus on mental health issues in this country, a suggestion that is certainly true, but not in the context of this tragedy necessarily, especially when other motives can easily be identified.

These rhetorical strategies do many important things: First, the claims wrongly associate Dear with the left despite being considered by The New York Times as being “generally conservative,” and also having a history of handing out anti-Obama pamphlets to neighbors. Second, it adds to the long history of transphobic attacks, namely trying to claim that this may somehow explain the violent acts. Third, Ryan’s attribution of Dear’s actions to mental illness attempts to wrongly explain away the compelling drive that led him to commit these acts of violence, despite Dear’s clear motives. Lastly, this seeks to dispel any notion that Christian terrorism exists and that this anti-abortionist view may be one of the major factors that motivated Dear’s actions.

The line of logic used in foreign terrorism rhetoric by the GOP is swiftly ignored when the issue pertains to homegrown, domestic white terrorism. If we are to claim that a belief in Islamic extremism may motivate terrorists, why then are we to dismiss even the possibility that a belief in anti-abortion Christian rhetoric may also contribute to violence in society? If we are genuinely pursuing the truth, we ought to be honest about discussing the motives that inspire violence, even if they may be inconvenient or uncomfortable to confront. Ignoring this form of terrorism furthers the idea that terrorism only exists when done by certain minority groups and not by white Christian Americans, simply because the idea of it makes people uneasy.

These crafty retrospective retelling of motives ignores the fact that right-wing extremists have averaged approximately 337 per year from 2001-2011, according to a study by the Combating Terrorism Center, with the number only increasing in the years after the study was conducted. Furthermore, the FBI has even released an explicit warning to reproductive health care facilities, stating “it is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities.”

The same reasons that point to the possibility of danger being associated with incoming refugees, despite a lack of evidence that any actual incidents of refugee terrorism in relation to ISIS, are then disregarded when homegrown terrorists promoting Christian extremism with anti-abortion rhetoric have actually wrecked havoc and introduced terror into our society. This double standard is the epitome of political convenience, crafty rhetoric to imply untrue associations, and a general disregard for the varying manifestations of terrorism in our society.

10th Annual Trashion Show dresses prove nicer than my own

Choi and Chipman basking in their trashion. JOSHUA KUCKENS/THE BATES STUDENT

For the 10th year in a row, after Harvest Dinner has been conquered, very full Batesies head to the Gray Cage to watch recycled materials modeled into high-end fashion. The 2015 Trashion Show, hosted by the Bates Eco-reps, raises awareness about sustainability and recycling through transforming recycled goods into very stylish outfits. The eco-reps also give us statistics about garbage, recycling, waste and sustainability so we can make more informed decisions about where our waste goes.

I personally love the Trashion Show because the outfits that people create are extremely creative and beautiful. Fashion is definitely an art, and to create such forward pieces from “trash” is not something one sees everyday. Everyone always creates such interesting and different outfits, but I was especially excited to see the outfit created by Kevin Tejada ’17. He has been entering an outfit into the Trashion Show since his freshman year and they never disappoint.

This year’s piece was worn by Elise Krims ’16, and appeared to be inspired by a peacock, as it had a cape-like attachment that draped her back and arms. The dress itself was a very cute form-fitting mini dress with embellishments on the chest, and it fit Krims perfectly. She looked extremely chic and the outfit used a variety of recycled goods. Tejada used magazines, newspapers, crushed cans, garbage bags and other materials to create his look, winning him “Most Creative.”

Another outfit that I loved was Lisa Choi’s ’17, modeled by Hanna Chipman ’17, because of how versatile it was. Her outfit transformed with nearly every turn on the runway. She took her coat off on one, and her skirt off on the other, revealing harem-like pants. The skirt was made of tea bags from Commons, and was very colorful but still muted, so it was fun but wearable. The pants looked quite comfortable but also stylish, and I liked the idea that one could have multiple looks from one outfit. The idea of an outfit change has always seemed very glamorous to me after watching brides have one on TLC (guilty pleasure). Needless to say, Choi’s look won “Best Overall,” and Chipman did a great job showcasing all the ways one can wear this look.

The Trashion Show is an excellent way to end Harvest Dinner. The show raises awareness for sustainability and encourages creative thought and processes, the electronic music blasting has people dancing in their seats and wondering where they could find the songs. It also gives students an opportunity to digest the obscene amount of pumpkin dip they’ve eaten before returning to the library. Lisa, if you’re reading this, I would love an outfit (with an outfit change)!

To vote or not to vote: A reaction to Luke Jensen’s citizen initiative

The Bates role in local voting has taken center stage over the past few weeks. First, to clarify the current state of the municipal election: there will be a mayoral runoff election on December 8 at Longley Elementary School. In Lewiston, mayoral candidates must obtain an outright majority of the votes cast in an election to win; Ben Chin received 44 percent of the votes and Mayor Robert Macdonald received 37 percent of the votes, and so these candidates will compete in the runoff. Anyone who has not yet registered or who did not vote on November 3 still has the opportunity to vote in the runoff.

Chin actually won in three of the seven wards, two of which contain many Bates voters. This fact sparked action around a petition that pushes to have municipal elections moved to June (initiated by Luke Jensen, one of the mayoral candidates who lost). Essentially, this would require any Bates student who wants to vote in the municipal election to vote absentee, indirectly, yet intentionally, discouraging the “liberal” college student vote. This initiative, much like voter ID laws and laws banning same-day registration, suppresses the electoral voice of a large group of people. It should not matter the political party you identify with or how long you’ve lived here; all people in a community should have equal accessibility to casting their vote. Aside from the sway of Bates’ vote, there are many other arguments circulating about why students should not be voting municipally. I would like to deconstruct these arguments, made by long-time residents and Bates students alike, in order to assuage the discomfort as well as encourage students to speak out about why voting here is important to them.

A frequent argument being made about the ethics of college students voting is the fact that they do not pay property tax. This is problematic in that property tax necessitates owning property, and property of ownership as a marker of voter eligibility has been outlawed since 1828. However, if this argument is really about whether college students have “skin in the game” in Lewiston, Bates students’ economic impact is very real. First, Bates is the fifth largest employer in Androscoggin County, according to Maine.gov from 2015. Our tuition therefore goes towards the salaries of many Lewiston residents. Additionally, we pay significant sales tax on things like Forage bagels, Pure Thai, and especially PBR at Lewiston Variety. If you drive through a toll, you pay taxes. If you do work-study, you pay taxes. If you live off-campus, you pay rent and are indirectly paying property tax for your apartment. Bates students should be able to vote towards what those tax dollars go towards.

Another argument being made is that Bates campus and Lewiston are two separate entities, and that laws made in Lewiston do not affect college students. However, if a law is made in regards to improving the sidewalks and roads down College Street, that would affect all the nordies who speed skate through them. If a law was proposed to start treating our Lake Auburn water with fluoride, it would affect the lives of Batesies who hate going to the dentist. If a law was passed taxing the properties of nonprofits (which was proposed and shot down last year) it would greatly affect the price of our college tuition as well the ability for many local organizations like Tree Street and the Lewiston Public Library to sustain themselves. Bates students are perfectly entitled to vote along lines of self-interest because laws made here do affect students.

Along the same lines, not only should Bates students be able to vote out of their own self-interest, but they should also be able to vote because they care about their neighbors. Bates was founded on the principles of informed civic action. Evidence of this action is proved by over 12,000 community-engaged hours recorded by students for the 2014/2015 academic year, according to the Harward Center in the report regarding Civic Engagement at Bates 2014-2015. This includes work done through work study, Bonner, education placements, and by students who merely want to explore the wonderful organizations that exist in our city. Many students are active community members and care not just about how municipal laws affect us, but also the middle school students that we tutor in math, the New Mainers that we teach ELL, and the elementary kids that we play basketball with at Tree Street.

It has also been claimed that students only live here “9 months of the year” and many do not plan on staying. Students should therefore not vote on things that affect the future of Lewiston if they do not plan on being here to experience it. Firstly, young adults rarely spend more than a few years in one place at a time. Between the wanderlust mentality of millennials and a job market that requires locational flexibility, four years is quite a significant part of our lives. Ask any mother who is taken aback by her son or daughter calling their dorm home — those 36+ months can be very grounding. However, the amount of time that you live some place should not qualify capacity to vote. Teddy Rube, president of Bates Democrats, brought to light that the same standard of “time commitment” is not held to people with job contracts. No one is criticizing a 40-year-old insurance company manager for voting in Chicago even though he knows he is going to move back to New York in three years.

Now that we have established that Bates students do live in Lewiston and do make both time and economic investments here, I would like to address the issue of voter suppression. “Bates students vote liberally and do not represent the sentiments of Lewiston residents.” What is the general sentiment of Lewiston residents? We will never know! An election can never accurately represent the political leanings of a population. Voting is not required; consequently only a small non-generalizable portion of a population’s voice is heard in any election. There are many people in Lewiston who are legal non-citizens who pay taxes and work, yet are not able to have their voice heard because of the lengthy asylum process. There are many people in Lewiston who work more than one job and do not have time to go to the polls. There are people in Lewiston who are perpetually discouraged by their continued marginalization through local political leadership and thus refuse outright to vote. The only way for an election to get closer to an accurate representation of the population is to increase voter turnout among all groups of people, including college students. This petition does the opposite.

In the end, the Supreme Court already decided in the Symm v. United States case of 1979 that college students can choose the community that they want to vote in, be it their college town or the town they live in when not in school. This choice is not dependent on the time spent there, property tax paid, or community service hours contributed. I encourage all students who feel disheartened by the petition to vote in the runoff, and also to express their thoughts in Sun Journal op-eds, at city council meetings, and in conversations with their peers.

“The relationship our community has with Bates and students is invaluable. Our city has benefited from the deep rooted connection students feel who have gone above and beyond for their community. Do not let this petition deter you from your continued involvement in your community. Lewiston needs you. We see you. We appreciate you.” -Melissa Dunn, long-time Lewiston resident

Hello, Adele

Ah bless, Adele is back. You’d be surprised, a lot has changed since Adele last released a soundtrack for your tears. Clayton Spencer was not even President of Bates yet. Trick or Drink was still around. And just like Bates has come a long way, so has Adele.

Luckily Adele did not take a complete u-turn and make a hip-hop EDM folk album about the circle of life. Well, 25 is about the circle of life since like Bates, Adele went through a lot of change since 21. Gone is the heartbroken Adele who had a fire starting in her heart after a (really) bad breakup that led her to write eleven songs that made everyone scared as hell to make Adele pissed. Everyone except one man, since Adele is now in a happy, stable relationship with a young child in tow. How can Adele be Adele without the heartbreak? Who will we ugly cry to now?

Turns out settled down Adele still holds grudges and sings about lost love, though this time the bitterness is gone and replaced with a mix of nostalgia and regret. Adele has always sounded much more mature than her age (no, she is not 25, she is 27). She no longer wants to make her ex’s life miserable through angry songs; rather, she accepts that relationships end but that you can still be sad about them. So yes, this album will still make you cry and make you want to text your ex.

If you loved 21 or 19, then you will definitely love 25. If you love voices that can transport you to heaven, you will love 25. And it is not all hype and no delivery, 25 is really good. It is the first ever album to sell over three millions copies in a week, a million more than the previous record holder (*NSYNC, if anyone’s counting). There’s no stopping Adele.

By now everyone has heard “Hello,” the song that features Adele tearing through our hearts and making us cry all over again. The song has already made its place in pop culture as Saturday Night Live made a sketch about how the song diffuses family disagreements about politics. “Hello” has the booming chorus that Adele perfectly executes: once she gets going, there’s no stopping her.

Oddly, Adele enlists the production of Max Martin and Shellback, who are responsible for hits like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “…Baby One More Time.” At first glance it’s a little odd to see producers like them on an Adele album, but fret not. Their song, “Send My Love” is not bubblegum pop. Though the song is not particularly memorable, it is very catchy.

Lucky for us, we also get the first ever Adele sex jam with “I Miss You.” It’s not the sex jam that you would expect from Miley Cyrus but it is still a fun listen. Since the song is called “I Miss You,” yes you will cry. “When We Were Young” is the highlight of the record. It’s peak nostalgia; it’s the song everyone should play on graduation and look back at the past four years to. The song is all about being scared of growing old and missing when we were young. Expect tears.

There are also happy tears on the album too, especially in the songs dedicated to Adele’s son, Angelo. In both “Remedy” and “Sweetest Devotion,” Adele promises to be there for her son forever and protect him. Doesn’t everyone just want a famous parent to write a song about them?

There’s even a song about Adele’s relationship with her boyfriend and how she realizes this is the relationship she will always want to be in. Great for you Adele, but promise to keep making music for us to cry to.

Men’s basketball kicks off season

The wait is over for the return of the Bates men’s basketball team, who started their season over Thanksgiving break. The Bobcats have high expectations for the season, coming off a record-setting season last year that saw them make it to the DIII Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

Through four games thus far the Bobcats are 2-2. They opened the season with consecutive victories in the Charlie Ryan Classic hosted by Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, toppling Norwich and University of Maine Fort Kent by scores of 79-49 and 86-55 respectively.

Against Norwich, Malcolm Delpeche ’17 led the way with 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals. Delpeche and his twin brother Marcus Delpeche ’17, who had 10 points and 2 rebounds, established themselves right away as a dominant duo. The two should have their way with anyone in the paint this season.

In the Fort Kent matchup, Marcus Delpeche led the way with a near double-double, tallying 16 points and 9 rebounds. The Bobcats also got a strong performance from senior sharpshooter Josh Britten, who was 3-5 from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points.

Following up this opening tournament, the Bobcats dropped their next two contests against University of Southern Maine and University of New England, giving up over 100 points in both games. While there is certainly room for improvement on the defensive end of the court, Bates might have ran into the wrong teams at the wrong time. Southern Maine shot 58 percent from the field and made 12 threes, while New England shot 64 percent from the field and 10 of 14 from beyond the arc.

“It was a combination of the two, but we will learn from it and rebuild,” said senior captain Mike Boornazian, who is averaging 15.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game so far this year. “It’s better to have these experiences now so that we can improve and be at our best by the time NESCAC play begins.”

In his eighth season as Bates’ head coach, Jon Furbush ’05 has been pleased with his team’s start so far. “We are scoring the ball the best in my eight years here, and it’s coming from both our starters and our bench,” he remarked. “I think we have great depth. We have also established an inside presence, which has forced defenses to collapse, leading to higher percentage shots for us.”

Another storyline for this year’s team is how point guards Jerome Darling ’17 and Shawn Strickland ’18 will fare as the replacements for Graham Safford ’15, who was the offensive leader on last year’s squad. Four games in, Furbush has been pleased with the results.

“They are doing a great job for us thus far,” Furbush said.  “As they get more comfortable I expect they’ll control the game better.”

Strickland has started all four games this season, and is averaging 11.5 points per game with a 2.3 assist to turnover ratio. Darling has been averaging 14.5 minutes off the bench, contributing 5.8 points per game and turning in the same assist to turnover ratio of 2.3.

Comparing these numbers to Safford’s production last year, the Bobcats actually have slightly improved at the point guard position. Combined from the four-game sample so far this year, Strickland and Darling are averaging 6.3 assists per game, slightly better than Safford’s 6.2 last season. This year’s duo is averaging 17.3 points per game, better than Safford’s 15.9 last year. Similarly, Safford averaged 3.6 turnovers a game, while Strickland and Darling are giving it away just 2.75 times a game.

The grueling NESCAC conference schedule has yet to begin, and we are only four games into the season, but these numbers are a good sign for this year’s team.

The Bobcats have the weekend off before resuming their non-conference schedule at home against Husson on Tuesday.

A New Approach to Conflict, A New Initiative at Bates

A new student leadership position in the Office of Student Support and Community Standards, the MRJ Fellow, was created to proactively provide education and outreach to the Bates community. MRJ Fellows seek to engage students, faculty, and staff in meaningful conversations that will strive to build community and mutual respect. All three fellows have nationally recognized Mediation certificates acquired from the short term class Mediation and Restorative Justice. We strive to help individuals and communities develop the capacity to communicate effectively and work through conflict on their own, through mediation and restorative justice practices.

Mediation, completely confidential and voluntary, is a facilitated conversation between two parties in conflict who desire help in coming to a resolution. A mediator is a neutral, third-party perspective that helps foster a healthy dialogue between two parties in conflict, and helps them come to a solution.

RJ can be defined as a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and make things as right as possible.

To better understand RJ, let us look at a hypothetical situation in a residence hall. Imagine you are woken up at 3 am by one of your floormates for the fourth time this week. Recently, he has been drinking more than usual and has been disruptive almost every night. The following morning you find vomit in the bathroom as well as a hole near your door. The traditional process would not ask the question: “How can we rebuild the floor community?” Instead it would ask: “How can we punish this offender? Suspension? A Fine?” Through a RJ lens, it is clear that the floor’s community has also been affected – perhaps there has been a violation of trust, respect, etc. A restorative process would seek to reach out to those impacted, the community, the victim and the offender.

A prerequisite to RJ is consent to meet and exchange experiences. Additionally, the offender must acknowledge to some degree that their actions caused harm. In order to do this, one would take time to prepare the individuals involved for a restorative conference by explaining what the process looks like and confirming consent. In this case, the restorative conference may have looked like a circle that was moderated by a RJ facilitator who posed questions or requests such as, “Can you explain to us, through your eyes, what happened that night?” The goal of this first round is to allow all members to clarify their side of the story. Further questions would develop the stories and identify the harms that were caused. At the circle those impacted and the offender could have an advocate such as a family member or partner. In this case, addressed topics may have been a violation and impact on trust in fellow Bates students, concerns for safety, a soiled image of individual character, a hole in the wall, and alcohol’s influence on judgement to name a few. After identifying what the harms were, the moderator would pose questions with the theme: What can be done to repair these harms? In a non-coercive space the stakeholders‒the floor members and the offender‒are allowed to generate possible solutions that hold purpose and specific relevance to their case. This active exchange would give the offender more sovereignty over the process and actively engage the individual instead of promoting a more passive process where the person sits down and receives judgement and punishment.

To recap, Restorative Justice employs a victim-orientated mindset, a corrective to the offender-orientation, which excludes the victim. RJ, like the traditional system, recognizes an imbalance that must be repaired by evening the score. While Retributive Justice theory proposes that pain will absolve the offender and the issue, Restorative Justice theory asserts that vindication comes from acknowledgment of the victims’ harms and needs, augmented by an active push for righting the wrongs, for offenders to assume responsibility, and for addressing the origins of the harmful behavior. If you would like to learn more about Mediation or Restorative Justice, feel free to contact us at MRJFellows@bates.edu.

Where do you call home?

Bates Vote (Max Huang) 9

Strong support shown for Chin on campus. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

A current petition has the potential of complicating the newly popular process of voting for many Bates students.

Several Lewiston residents proposed a petition last Tuesday, the 24th, to move the municipal elections—mayor, city counselors, and school board members—from November to June.

The man spearheading the committee behind this petition is Luke Jensen, a Republican mayoral candidate himself, who lost in the November 3rd election.

According to Jensen’s explanation in the Facebook group ‘Lewiston Rocks the Vote,’ “The City Charter sets the date for municipal elections, so this petition aims to directly amend the Charter” by moving the voting date to the second Tuesday in June as well as moving the date officials are sworn in to the first Monday of August. As the Sun Journal reported, to come to a vote, this petition needs 2,736 signatures by March 16th.

Jensen’s two main goals behind this petition are “to communicate to Bates voters that they should weigh the ethics of voting in local elections, and secondary, to boost voter turnout among longtime Lewiston residents, considering the poor turnout this year”.

Following this, Jensen goes on to detail the reasoning behind his petition. First is the effect of the Bates student participation in the November 3rd elections.

“It was clear that the Bates turnout was hugely disproportionate to the rest of the city,” but more bothersome to Jensen were the “reports that Bates students were given, ahead of time, voter registration cards and a printed list of which candidates to vote for, rather than them going to the voting booths of their own accord”.

Jensen attended college in Virginia, while still calling Maine his home. He continued to vote in Maine through his years in college via absentee ballot, as it is his “personal belief that college students should vote in their home town”. To him, it makes sense for people to vote in the area they are paying taxes, or their parents are claiming them for tax purposes. He understands that college towns can be considered ‘home’ for certain students, as they might contribute to the community and immerse themselves there. This is why he points out that those students can continue voting through the absentee ballot if this petition passes.

An additional benefit precipitating from this change is, hopefully, an increased voter turnout. Due to warmer weather in June, more will be out and willing to vote, especially the elderly. Also, “our snowbirds will be around in person” and more likely to vote, says Jensen.

Finally, Jensen mentions that this change could possibly “save the city some money”, as Maine would be able to “combine local elections with a voter referendum”.

To fully understand the situation, a couple points in this argument need to be addressed. One is the fact that Jensen notes in the Facebook post that the absentee ballot method of voting is “less-secure,” so subjecting Bates students to this is not quite as easy as it may seem at first.

Additionally, the suggestion that holding an additional election would possibly save money is also somewhat misleading. The City Clerk, Kathy Montejo, says, “The cost to run a municipal election is approximately $26,400. If the proposed Charter amendments are approved, the City would incur this approximate cost every two years,” due to the additional election in June. Essentially, the city might save some money each November by not paying to hold municipal elections. However, the city would have to pay to hold these elections in June, regardless. The November elections might be cheaper, but the addition of the June elections would make the entire process more expensive, overall.

While it is natural for the supporters of the petition to mainly consist of those who would benefit from fewer Bates votes, it is equally natural for those in opposition to the petition to be those who benefit from the Bates vote.

Ben Chin, mayoral candidate and Bates graduate has certainly made his presence known on campus. This was seen in the November 3rd election as, according to the article addressing the petition in the Sun Journal, he won most decisively in Wards 1 and 3—where Bates voters are.

In response to this petition, Chin says, “Our generation is maybe the most mobile generation in American history.” Going on to describe the reasons this is beneficial, Chin points to the fact that we have a great opportunity to see the world and become exposed to different ideas and cultures in order to formulate our own opinions and understand the world better. This happens best, and students learn the most, when they “engage in the process” and the community listens in return. Chin believes, “participating in elections is a good start.”

In terms of this election specifically, Chin says, “In Lewiston, this election is about whether or not a thousand asylum seekers will be homeless or not. It’s about whether our neighbors will have heat in the winter or not. If you vote, people stand a chance. If you don’t, their chances get a lot worse. At the end of the day, it’s as simple as that.”

To the petition directly, Chin states, “I oppose this petition because the problem in our democracy is that too few people vote, not too many. We should spend our time making it easier for everyone to vote, not putting up obstacles for the people with different opinions than us.”

An additional voice of opposition, this one on campus, is the Bates Democrats. Building on Chin’s arguments, they state that only some students on campus vote in Lewiston and those who do are “often well-informed and civically engaged voters.” This petition, which will complicate the process of voting for Bates students, according to Chin “serves to drive a wedge between Bates students and the wider community of which we are a part.”

The Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions for the state of Maine states that a voter must be a United States citizen, be at least 17 (you must be 18 to vote, but you may vote at 17 in the primary elections only if you will be 18 by the general election), and must establish and maintain a voting residence in the city.

‘Residence’ to the Bureau means “that place where the person has established a fixed and principal home to which the person, whenever temporarily absent, intends to return.” In addition, the Bureau goes on to emphasize that this means the city in which you register must be the place you choose to establish your residence.

The Bureau states that students have the right to register where their school is, “provided [they] have established a voting residence there as defined in Maine’s election laws.”

While, initially this petition may entice reactions from unaffected observation to rage, this is an opportunity for all to consider the role we, as students, have, or wish to have, in the places we call ‘home.’

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