The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: February 10, 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Allegations of random security searches untrue according to administration

Security’s goal is to build relationships with students and get to know the first-year students. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

Security’s goal is to build relationships with students and get to know the first-year students. MAX HUANG/THE BATES STUDENT

Claims that Security is conducting random searches of student dorm rooms are not true, according to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Josh McIntosh, Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standard Carl Steidel, and Director of Security and Campus Safety Tom Carey.

“We are not randomly going into students’ rooms,” McIntosh said.

Due to an increased presence of Security in the dorms, as part of a community effort initiated by the Department of Security and Campus Safety, blatant violations of college or state policy are more frequently detected. That is, Security is present in the dorms and therefore will notice if there are violations of college policy, such as the smell of marijuana or visible bottles of hard alcohol, to name a few.

Carey explained that Security placed an emphasis on getting to know students in the first-year dorms to set the tone in terms of safety and responsibility for their time a Bates. The desired end is that first-years would become familiar and comfortable with the Security Officers and understand their role on campus.

“The fundamental issue with it is to try to have Security have a presence on campus in places where students start to recognize them as part of the community, as a member of the community, and quite frankly a helpful member of the community,” McIntosh said.

Steidel added that the motivation behind the presence in the dorms and around campus is to “build relationships,” not just limiting interactions with security to incidents involving conduct violations.

Security’s staff underwent some changes over the last year, only just returning to a full staff earlier this fall. Though these changes were not explicitly advertised, they are now a full staff and aim to be “consistent and even-handed” when handling violations of college policy.

The increased presence of Security facilitated a narrative that Security Officers were present in dorms more often in order to get more students in trouble or meet some type of quota.

“There are no quotas, there are no expectations that they knock on a certain number of dorms or that they write off certain number of reports,” Steidel said.

“Never has been, never will be,” Carey added.

When there are clear violations of college policy—such as loud music, the smell of marijuana, or beer pong tables in common spaces—Security personnel have a responsibility to intervene.

Students discussed these searches at the recent BCSG Town Hall meeting and via anonymous posts on Yik Yak.

However, this reporter reached out to an alleged victim of one such search, but received no response before deadline.

If a student feels they were not respected or that they were treated unfairly, McIntosh, Steidel and Carey want to know of those incidents.

These conversations need to be grounded in something “specific and correct,” McIntosh said.

“I’ve heard quite a bit of conversation around this, but nobody I’ve actually talked to that’s talked to me about this stuff has actually personally experienced it,” McIntosh said. Reports of disrespect by a Security officer have come from second or third parties.

According to college policy, Security maintains the right to enter any room at any time.

“The reality of the practice and the way that we’ve directed officers around the practice of that is to not just randomly enter students’ rooms, but when there is a reason to enter a student room, and it involves safety issues, to do so,” McIntosh said.

On very rare occasions, a dean on-call can authorize the search of student’s room. More often than not, these authorized searches occur if a student is not cooperating or if there is an overriding safety concern.

“In reality, over the years that I have been here, when [authorized searches] have generally been used is because of some very specific information that has been provided to us and the deans that we feel obligated to have to take action,” Carey said.

“We do not think it is a wise or sound practice to be randomly going into students’ rooms, unless there is a reason to go into those rooms,” McIntosh added.

Authorized searches are not the preferred means of addressing suspected conduct violations. Cooperation and understanding is the goal, and, more often than not, students are cooperative.

“Fundamentally this is about relationships. What makes Bates special is its relationships…and we want to sustain and maintain those relationships while also realizing we have a responsibility to intervene in these situations,” McIntosh said.

CDC: Paternal decrees that infantilize women

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental conditions affecting infants with symptoms including growth deficits, learning disabilities, hyperactive behavior, distinctive facial features, vision or hearing problems, cardiac complications, and a slew of potential cognitive defects. Prenatal exposure to alcohol, through maternal consumption of beverages, is the cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Furthermore, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders have been considered the most prevalent of any developmental disability and birth defect in the Western world. So why, and more importantly, how, could the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) incite such outrage with its campaign to spread awareness about the preventable measures one can take?

Instead of relaying information regarding risks during pregnancy, the CDC failed not only to accurately convey scientific knowledge, but wrongly assumed what was best for women, not pregnant women, but all women. The CDC starts off their colorful campaign pamphlet by outlining risks first for women who are pregnant, including miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and sudden infant death syndrome. This seems appropriate enough information to convey, given that the medical community does have a relatively strong case for the numerous potential dangers that alcohol intake may pose to a developing fetus. But here’s where the real issue starts.

The CDC then lists the risks that “any woman” would need to consider if they are “drinking too much” such as “injuries/violence, heart diseases, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, fertility problems, [and] unintended pregnancy.” This is an unbelievably bold claim to make. I would love to see how “drinking too much” can cause either STDs or unintended pregnancies. That’s right, they can’t. At least, not until making some blatantly sexist assumptions.

These sorts of “risks” necessarily imply that when a woman is to drink, she somehow automatically is at a significant risk of, presumably, having unprotected sex. This is an incredible supposition without any credible reason for believing it. This seems to be playing off of some slippery slope argument that considers a socially normal experience and behavior (whether it be drinking alcohol or dressing “inappropriately,” as the argument goes) as the cause of the harm that is then brought upon the woman. This then somewhat implies that if a woman is made aware of this soon enough, it is up to her to break the cycle, claim responsibility, and then know better than to partake in anything that may be problematic. But this, of course, is leaving out something important to the equation.

These kinds of accounts fail to paint a complete picture of the situation at hand, implying instead that women drinking can lead to “dangerous sex.” Sure, it can, but it doesn’t necessarily have to, and more importantly, this point seems arbitrarily targeted towards shaming women for drinking and further dictating how women should use their bodies. Drinking can lead to pregnancy and/or STDs, just as drinking can lead to vehicular accidents. But, somehow, the dangers associated with drinking are only relevant to women and, more importantly, only have to do with sex. How surprising.

So what does the CDC consider “drinking too much” for women? Having more than 1 drink on average per night. Furthermore, the CDC is recommending that doctors and health professionals “assess a woman’s drinking” and that they “recommend birth control if a woman is having sex, not planning to get pregnant, and is drinking alcohol.” This kind of paternal decree is poorly hidden. Instead, it resembles the kind of condescending “advice” that women are all too familiar receiving, whether it is telling them what to eat, how to dress, when to talk, how to behave, how to reproduce, how to and how not to use their bodies, etc.

In a time when Planned Parenthood seems to perpetually face threats of federal defunding, when women still are not making the same amount of money for the same work, and they still must confront many other discriminatory federal policies, it is of the utmost importance that individuals recognize and acknowledge the persistent attacks on women and women’s rights.

Instead of presenting current neurodevelopmental findings and allowing women to deliberate on their own, the CDC has chosen to make lifestyle decisions on behalf of all women. We, as a society, assume we know what is best for certain groups of people, instead of having the shred of humility to admit that, just maybe, individuals ought to be able to make their own choices without external interferences, particularly from institutions of power. Writer Rebecca Ruiz summarized the CDC’s publication best: “Its underlying message was unmistakable: Women should consider themselves first a vessel for human life and make decisions about their health and behavior based on that possibility.”

Easy A for community service? Think again…

In response to the article titled, “Easy A for community service” by Henry Steckel, published in last week’s issue of the Bates Student, we are writing to share our perspective on community engagement at Bates College. As two seniors heavily involved with community engaged learning and research, we strongly disagree with Steckel’s idea of half-credit “community service” courses in order to incentivize community engagement and to give students an “Easy A.”

In direct contrast to Steckel’s assumption that community engagement is a simple task worthy of an “Easy A,” our countless hours of community engagement tell us otherwise. Our community engaged courses and projects have been mutually challenging and rewarding—academically, intellectually, physically, socially, mentally and emotionally. We have learned how to diffuse hostile situations between students—we have learned what to do when a white girl tells a Somali girl to “go back to Africa” and what to do when a white boy says that “all Muslims are suicide bombers.” We have been bitten, punched, concussed and we have had our hair pulled. Yet, we have also experienced the pure joy and inspiration of helping a six-year old autistic boy read for the first time, tutoring a formerly incarcerated youth to achieve his goal of staying out of the criminal justice system, mentoring a low-income teen mother to regain her daughter from the Department of Human Services, and assisting an asylum-seeking student who has been in the United States for less than a year through the college application process. Through these moments and experiences, we have learned and reflected about Lewiston and its citizens, Bates College, the concept of community engagement, and, most importantly, ourselves and our actions.

Steckel’s conceptual understandings of community service, volunteerism, philanthropy, charity, altruism and community engagement are deeply flawed. The conflation of these terms and actions pose as a disservice to community engagement at Bates College. According to the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, “Bates students, faculty and staff enact the college’s civic mission through reciprocal and sustained partnerships that connect the college and the community in mutually beneficial and transformative ways.” It is important to note the emphasis on partnerships, reciprocity, sustainability, mutuality and transformation. There is no emphasis, as there should not be, on “service,” “giving back” to Lewiston, “charity,” or boosting GPAs.

Both the missions of Bates College and the Harward Center are founded on principles of informed civic action, community engagement, and societal responsibility, all in order to cultivate a mutually reciprocal relationship with one’s community. In no way shape or form do these founding principles equate community engagement with “service” or “charity” work, which imply the need to assert one’s privilege and power over the “other.” Community engagement entails a partnership that is derived from a societal need. According to the Harward Center, “as they partner with off-campus communities to address pressing societal needs, Bates students develop the intellectual, ethical and personal skills needed for lifelong civic responsibility and purposeful work.”

If Bates were to adopt Steckel’s idea of incentivizing “community service” with course-credit, we would not be promoting the values and mission for which the institution stands. Steckel’s proposal implies that the purpose of community engagement is to participate in the honorable work of volunteering, as if Lewiston needs our “charitable ardor” in order to be saved from itself. Not only does the concept of “service” elevate our status as privileged college students, but it devalues, degrades and strips agency from the individuals of the Lewiston community. Further, claiming that we as privileged college students need to be incentivized with “Easy As” only widens this gap of privilege that Steckel so ignorantly disregards. In regard to Steckel’s notion of “accessibility,” if the purpose of community engaged partnerships is to cultivate civic responsibility and alleviate societal needs, why then would our focus—as privileged college students – be to make this work more “accessible” for ourselves? This perspective only serves to illuminate the fact that many Bates students misunderstand the concept of privilege and the issues concerning the greater Lewiston community. If Bates legitimizes this type of “service” and “volunteerism,” it only reinforces the “us v. them” divide, upholds the white savior complex, furthers the very real concept of the Bates Bubble, and upholds the status quo of the Ivory Tower.

From our four years of collaborating and interacting with individuals from the Lewiston community, we have come to learn that community engagement is a mutually beneficial partnership, for we have learned just as much, if not more, from the community and its members as they have learned from our tutoring, teaching, mentorship and research. Community engagement has truly been a privilege and humbling experience for the both of us, as it has allowed us to recognize our own privilege, power and positionality in relation to the broader structure of society. In response to Steckel’s proposal, we hope that you will take our criticism as an invitation to step back, think of the bigger picture, and question your own privilege and purpose as a Bates student within the city of Lewiston.

American conservatism in crisis

Blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote the following of the conservatism prescribed by the 20th century political philosopher Michael Oakeshott (whose own conservatism is derived directly from that of arguably the very first conservative, Edmund Burke): “…Oakeshott requires us to systematically discard programmes and ideologies and view each new situation sui generis [as unique]. Change should only ever be incremental and evolutionary. Oakeshott viewed society as resembling language: it is learned gradually and without us really realising it, and it evolves unconsciously, and for ever.” (…) “…a true conservative – who is, above all, an anti-ideologue – will often be attacked for alleged inconsistency, for changing positions, for promising change but not a radical break with the past, for pursuing two objectives – like liberty and authority, or change and continuity – that seem to all ideologues as completely contradictory.”

This, while it may seem alien to us in America, is far from an illegitimate characterization of conservatism. Oakeshott viewed conservatism—as I, a self-identifying conservative, do—as primarily a disposition, a lens through which to view the world and evaluate it. These characterizations ring true across the globe—look at conservative parties leading major European democracies; the head-on-shoulders pragmatic policies of leaders like Angela Merkel and David Cameron are accurately described by the Oakeshottian/Burkean analysis above.

With this in mind, recall the types of accusations thrown around in G.O.P. primary campaigns. It is frequently the charge from radical populist right-wingers like Ted Cruz and others that one or the other candidate is “not a real conservative.” What, then, is the type of conservatism they’re talking about? It’s not actually any kind of conservatism at all. It’s something more like a three-way unholy union between a sort of hardline traditionalism that rejects basic civil liberties for LGBTQ+ individuals on a religious basis, a sort of Ayn Rand-ish libertarianism that would deny the state the ability to provide for basic rights like healthcare, and a feverish nationalist xenophobia which would build walls, physical and otherwise, to keep out the very job-seekers and refugees whose presence has built America into the great and diverse nation it is today. These radical ideologies are not only not conservative; they are actually antithetical to the conservative disposition.

So what does this mean for the G.O.P.? I think it explains the phenomenon that occurred last week at the Iowa Caucuses: Marco Rubio, who is certainly more of an Oakeshottian conservative (although not really one at all; the true conservatives in America are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) than Cruz or Trump, finished third, behind those two, and is now the darling of the G.O.P. establishment. They see a “moderate” conservative, who aligns with the candidates toted by the G.O.P. for the last ten years: McCain, Romney, etc. The problem is that these candidates fail to win general elections because they cannot mobilize the radicalized base of the party. Rubio will lose in the general for the same reason, and reset the cycle once more.

It just might be, therefore, that a reckless, radical right-wing presidential candidate is just what American conservatism needs. That candidate would lose the general, and barring that, would certainly achieve little as president (no radical would). This could conceivably lead to a massive soul-searching and ideological upheaval similar to what we saw from Democrats pre-F.D.R. years.

In order for the Republican party to move past the woes, ideological and otherwise, with which it has been beset since essentially the Reagan years to experience, this kind of trial by fire could be the best possible thing. And out of the ashes might rise a new American conservatism, perhaps by necessity more compatible with the 21st century.

“So why,” readers may ask, “should I, a bleeding-heart liberal college student, care about the status of conservatism in America?”

For two reasons: 1. Read again Oakeshott’s prescription for conservatism. Maybe you, as I did, will discover you are more conservative than you thought. 2. If you don’t think conservatism is an appropriate worldview, maybe it’s worth considering that progressivism needs a legitimate ideological counterpart to get anything done in America. Political systems cannot move forward or achieve progress unless some sort of legitimate, two-sided conversation is happening. Sanders and Clinton are currently undertaking the progressive vs. conservative debate. This intra-party running-to-the-middle is no platform on which to have this crucial conversation play out. It is corrosive to our democracy and our political soul.

If the G.O.P. will persist in its current debacle of right-wing populist debauchery, instead of resetting the warm-glass-of-milk McCain-Romney-Rubio candidacy cycle, I predict, admittedly optimistically, and hope, that its inevitable implosion will give rise to something new, positive, and more truly conservative in our political dominion.

F.A.B.:Maine dancers connect

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A fierce duo brings the Argentine Tango to F.A.B. RILEY HOPKINS/THE BATES STUDENT

Maine is definitely not the first state that comes to mind when we talk about dance. New York, California and the Midwest might be on the list, but perhaps not Maine. The annual F.A.B. (Franco And Bates) performance, however, exemplifies just how prevalent dance is in Maine and how much all artists here value collaboration. Held at the Franco Center for Heritage and the Performing Arts on Cedar Street in Lewiston, F.A.B celebrated its eleventh dance showcase on Saturday, February 6.

What makes this event so special is how involved the Bates community is with both Lewiston and the rest of Maine’s arts communities. The contribution Bates makes is directly illustrated by the production crew and the performers in the show. Carol Dilley, Chair of Theater and Dance Departments, serves as Artistic Director of the show. Hannah Miller ’14, currently serving as the administrative assistant for the Dance, Theater, and Rhetoric departments, was the Producer and Stage Manager of the show. Maya Cates-Carney ’16 operated the lights and Laura Pietropaoli ’17 served as the Assistant Stage Manager. With half of the production staff being represented by members of the Bates Dance Department, the arts community has a clear presence in this show.

The performance consisted of fifteen pieces by artists who have some tie to Maine. Mary Anne Bodnar ’16 opened the show with her senior Dance thesis solo, “Sparkle,” that she presented in the Fall Dance Concert on campus in December. The sound score for her piece is comprised of excerpts from Aziz Ansari Live! At Madison Square Garden, Cutting and Women Who Kill. Bodnar uses these pieces of stand-up comedy to reveal the harsh reality behind the humorous presentation of what these comedians are talking about.

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Sara Juli and Claire Porter perform “SHORT STORIES” at the Franco Center. RILEY HOPKINS/THE BATES STUDENT

The next piece was performed by members of Portland Youth Dance and choreographed by Dante Brown, the Artistic Director of Dante Brown Warehouse Dance in Brooklyn, NY. Brown was a visiting professor at Bates last year, and he set a piece on members of the Bates Modern Dance Company last semester during a two-week residency.

Laura Peterson, a current visiting professor in the Dance Department, performed a highly physical and athletic solo entitled “get up.” She was continuously knocked down and beaten by her own physicality, yet she fought the challenges and channeled her own physical, technical and mental strength.

Another piece by a Bates Dance member, “Last Chance to Get It Right,” was choreographed and performed by Kristen Stake and visiting professor Melinda Buckwalter. They put emphasis on live electronic music and the use of random paraphernalia such as a mini fan, silly string, glitter, party banners and bubbles. It was an extremely unconventional way to perform a piece, yet it will be one to be remembered because of it.

Jorge Piccole ’18 performed a hip-hop solo, “Don’t Forget,” where he presented choreography produced in the Bates studios. Piccole is also making another group piece in the Dance Composition class where he will choreograph on several other students throughout the semester. He will present the piece at the Spring Dance Concert in April.

One piece that stood out the most was performed by Claire Porter and Sara Juli titled “SMALL STORIES.” Resulting from a collaboration between the two artists, they created and rehearsed it at Bates and performed it at the American Dance Festival this past summer. Juli set a piece on Bates dancers last fall during a two-week residency where she facilitated the creation of textual content in her piece. Both Porter and Juli work heavily with minimal “dance” movement and put emphasis on talking, pedestrian gestures, unnatural sounds and expression of the general human experience. In this piece, for example, the two women were dressed in ball gowns and sneakers as they told short stories throughout the whole piece. In doing so, they created an ingenious composition on the stage. Their stories matched up with their movements and sounds, making associations with certain gestures. At one point, Juli told a story of how she needed to wear red underwear. Towards the end of the piece, the artists simultaneously lifted up their gaudy ball gowns to reveal matching red underwear. Overall, the piece was hilarious, entertaining and brilliantly crafted.

F.A.B. was a compilation of the best of what Maine’s dance community has to offer. This performance brought all of the biggest names in dance together on the same stage to show just how intertwined every dance relationship is, and Bates is right in the middle of it all.

Women’s basketball clinches spot in NESCAC Championships

The women’s basketball team picked up an important road win on Saturday heading into their final week of the regular season, defeating Trinity 77-61. It was not their only game, however, as the day before they took on undefeated Amherst, losing 63-44.

Sophomore Nina Davenport led the charge against an undefeated team Amherst squad with 15 points, scoring seven of the Bobcats’ nine points in the first quarter. However, Amherst, the number three team in the nation, went on a series of runs throughout the game that eventually gave them a 39-22 at halftime.

Juniors Allie Coppola and Bernadette Connors helped keep Bates in the game, but a key 15-3 run by Amherst meant that they pulled away. Eventually, behind 40% shooting from the field compared to Bates’ 29.6%, Amherst got the victory.

The next day against Trinity, senior Chelsea Nason scored a career-high 22 points, which was crucial in Bates getting the victory. Davenport also continued her solid season, also scoring 22 points to go along with a career-high 15 rebounds.

With the victory, the Bobcats sit at 7-13 overall and 3-6 in the NESCAC at press time. The team also secured a spot in the NESCAC Championships, their first trip to the postseason since the 2012-13 season.

The women will next be in action on Friday when they hit the road to take on Babson.

Tackling Tent City to make way for Super Bowl City

“We’ll give you an alternative. We are always going to be supportive. But you are going to have to leave the streets,” Mayor Ed Lee told the homeless population of San Francisco. This initiative was announced in preparation for the Super Bowl, which the city hosted this weekend. However, Lee stated that they were not sweeping away the city’s homeless because of the Super Bowl, but that this was a long-term plan to reduce homelessness in the city. Yet an increase in anti-homeless laws, including those that criminalize camping in public parks, speak to the contrary. The “alternative” that Lee mentions is to relocate a small portion of those living on the street where “Super Bowl City” will take place to a shelter called Navigation Center. Unfortunately Navigation Center, which estimates 4,358 people live without housing in San Francisco on any given day, can only provide housing to 75 individuals and currently has a waiting list of 150 people. The population that Lee has ordered to be relocated to Navigation Center will be prioritized over those on the waiting list. Does this sound like Lee is really concerned about the welfare of the homeless and isn’t just cleaning up for the Super Bowl?

Ed Lee has previously promised that he would push city planners to make room for low-income housing, but nothing has come of this yet. On the other hand, Lee doesn’t really seem to understand how homelessness works, saying, “If you decide you still want to be on the streets, then we’re going to ask you that this area has to be used for our Super Bowl facilities so that we can actually make the money for the general fund, and provide the services that we pay for.” Yes, homelessness is obviously a choice. (Please note the heavy sarcasm.) Even if those without shelter decided they “still wanted” to be on the streets it doesn’t sound like they would be “asked” to leave as many interviewed have said they were bullied by police, even having their possessions confiscated. Even more insulting, “Super Bowl City,” which will feature live music, games, and pep rallies, is free to the public. Apparently “free to the public” does not apply to you if you’re homeless.

The situation in San Francisco is not unique, though. It’s another episode in a long string of anti-homeless measures throughout the United States. Perhaps most visibly, cities are installing structures that make it impossible to sleep in public places. Some of these include arms in the middle of benches and spikes on sidewalk edges and window ledges. It’s not enough for politicians to say they’re going to provide housing; they need to actually do it. San Francisco is a rapidly growing city, and it expects to earn a significant profit by hosting the Super Bowl. If Mayor Lee is as serious as he stated he was about helping the city’s homeless population, he will ensure that a significant portion of this revenue goes to social programs and to low-income housing.

If you watched the Super Bowl this weekend, you probably didn’t hear the protestors taking a stand against Lee’s policies over the roar of the crowds. And although ESPN published a brief (136 words) report on the unrest surrounding the Super Bowl, it didn’t provide any coverage on television. As a nation, we need to do better. Too frequently we collectively ignore the disenfranchisement of our fellow citizens. This is only encouraged when politicians force their less fortunate constituents out of the city—doing so is placing a penalty on poverty. To echo one protester’s sign, “Hey Lee, tackle homelessness, not the homeless.”

CCWG Part II: Where we diverge from inclusivity

The Campus Culture Working Group is attempting to foster and improve a culture of both diversity and inclusion within the Bates community. Last week, the Bates Student published the first part of its coverage on the Campus Culture Working Group’s most recent findings, pulling data from the NESCAC survey and multiple on-campus sources to address alcohol related and off-campus issues. This week, the Student examines the CCWG’s findings and recommendations to tie together different groups of students.

Commons is the first area that comes to mind, the Group said, when struggling to solve divides in the student body. The Group cited social anxiety and racial divides, among other concerns. Student members of the CCWG mentioned the stratification of groups among students in the “Green Room,” the “Fishbowl,” and the main dining area. The Group came to the conclusion that Commons has natural separations both visually and spatially, but the real issue of preventing students from crossing social lines lies elsewhere in the broader interactions on campus.

The Working Group pinpointed different areas where a balance of inter and intragroup mixing can occur. “[It is] important that our community has space and affirmation for both of those things,” McIntosh said.

The “Working Draft of Recommendations” that the Working Group published states, “some annual campus events continue to separate, rather than unite, the student community…” The CCWG hopes not only to address specific event-related issues but also to take it a step further to foster community development in areas like the Office of Intercultural Education, Chase Hall, the Harward Center, and among athletes and non-athletes.

“While the student community is small, it is still large enough for students to feel they do not know one another,” said the Working Group report. One idea includes class dinners. These would have “assigned seating [to] support students getting to know one another beyond their traditional friendship circle—while having the added benefit of building class identity,” said McIntosh.

Members of the CCWG are working towards a leadership program that will help teach different leaders on campus (athletic captains, club presidents, and others) how to create a more inclusive atmosphere and bridge the gap between cultures.

Furthermore, the CCWG looks to augment the success of the Late at Bates program to include events for diverse interests in addition to those “where alcohol is legally and safely consumed.” The Late at Bates program, implemented winter 2015, has so far been very successful. The Group states that a range of metrics showed high numbers for “creative and innovative programming, high attendance, and promotion of community and conversation across differences.” A second program will help strengthen relationships among students, faculty and college staff, hoping to increase community development. This would include events like the Dinner Table, implemented last semester.

Additional reports from the CCWG will be released in the future as these recommendations become tangible projects.

The Book Thief and the way Markus Zusak stole my heart

When I was a little girl, I learned the difference between good tears and bad ones. Bad tears belonged to scraped knees, while the happy kind came from laughing until my sides hurt and then laughing some more.

But sometimes, once in a blue moon, an author comes along who can blur the lines between pain and euphoria. Sometimes an author is talented enough to take these two opposing emotions, sort out their differences and knit them together. When this strange collision happens, it creates characters and a plot that stick with the reader long after the last page is turned.

It is due to the aforementioned reason that part of my heart will always belong on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany. This suburban street is where Markus Zusak plants the characters of his wildly successful novel, The Book Thief. The reader first encounters the street when its protagonist, Liesel Meminger, arrives there to live with foster parents. The year is 1939 and Leisel is just about to turn ten. I know what you must be thinking: if the book starts in 1939 then it must have something to do with World War II. And yes, you would be correct. The difference, however, is that Liesel is not Anne Frank. She does not need to hide in an attic, as she is a blonde Lutheran girl. Zusak reminds us, “Anything was better than being a Jew.” Conceivably, Liesel was safe.

This would be true if not for the Jewish man in her basement. Heck, it would be true aside from the fact that war is like a fire hungry for oxygen: it is belligerent and all-consuming.

This author makes the bold choice of using Death as his narrator. Yes, that is Death with a capital “D.” Through Zusak’s mastery, Death becomes a living, breathing tour guide, ready to direct the reader through Zusak’s story. It is Death who taunts the readers by saying, “If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I’ll show you something.” This third-person narrator is crucial to understanding Liesel, Rudy, and Max, the man in the basement who carries a copy of Mien Kampf. Death breaks the fourth wall and comes off the page to interject explanations and context to scenes that make the plot flow in a cohesive direction. Death reminds us, “I am not violent. I am not malicious. I am a result.” It is best to keep this in mind.

Through Death and Zusak, I saw Liesel grow up. I saw how the war affects a girl who is just trying to read and play soccer with the other kids on her street. It is Death who tells us of Liesel’s book-thievery and compels us to follow the story until the end, even when all we really want to do is throw the book against the wall in protest at the unfair hand dealt to our characters. Through Zusak’s words, I heard the sirens and felt the tremors of bombs shaking the ground. And most important of all, I was in the basement listening to Liesel read to the residents of Himmel Street as they wait for the bombs to fade.

I read this book for the first time when I was twelve. This may seem like an odd choice of literature for a prepubescent girl to read. However, in Zusak’s words, I found Liesel and Rudy: there was no better pair in the world. Liesel is resilient, brave and smart, while Rudy is the fastest runner, mischievous and thoroughly in love with Liesel. Pairing these two together while juxtaposing them to all the troubles that came with World War II (air raids, food shortages, the Hitler Youth), I was given a glimpse of what my world would have looked like had I been born sixty-five years earlier.

Every time I read this book, I have gone through a box of tissues and my face is all blotchy and red by the end. There is no other way to put it: this novel is extraordinary. From the prose to the characters to the story, everything is captivating. There is a reason this book was on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 230 weeks.

Through Zusak’s words, I learned that humanity is sometimes depraved, that broken hearts can mend through time and that, above all else, words have power.

Our Country’s Good: Getting inside the minds of Australia’s first inmates

Australia. When we think of this island nation, some fun facts come up. It’s the only country that is also a continent (my seventh grade geography coming in clutch with that tid-bit), it’s home to adorable kangaroos and, yes, at its inception, Australia was a penal colony for Britain’s criminals.

This is the context in which Our Country’s Good is set. In 1980, Timberlake Wertenbaker adapted this play from Thomas Keneally’s novel, The Playmaker. Chronicling the experience of British Royal Navy officers and their convict charges, this play-within-a-play structure allows the audience to more fully grapple with the hardships of settling a new country filled with convicts and their guards.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater, Sally Wood, is directing this play at Bates. Wood revealed in an interview that the idea to do this play came to her at Convocation. “I can vividly recall the physical sensation of having my head spill over with thoughts of privilege and income inequality. As I listened to Danielle Allen, I jotted down Our Country’s Good?? on the front of my program.”

Having first come across this play while going to school in Tennessee, it “always stuck with [her]” from then on. This play has great potential because it is an ensemble piece (there is no single individual lead), and it offers ideal acting and design opportunities. Wood noted, “What it says, or what I think it trying to say, is what I find so compelling.” In addition to the practicality of the piece, its message will resonate with audience members long after they leave the theater.

Directors have a lot to juggle when creating a show; they must communicate ideas with the actors, set designers and lighting designers. Wood emphasized, “Judy Gailen, our set designer, […] has done a beautiful job of taking a very clunky idea and making it delicate.” In any theater production, directors must somehow articulate all their ideas and get everyone else involved to understand the vision they are trying to create. Communication, like in anything else, is key.

I think we can all agree that without actors, the show literally could not go on. At auditions for this play, there was “a very strong turnout.” As a result, it has a bigger cast than most other productions of this play.

Some parts of this play are double cast. This means that one actor plays more than one character. For example, Mara Woollard ’16 plays Reverend Johnson, who is “a higher ranking officer who came with his wife on the first fleet.” She also plays Mary Brenham, “a young woman who falls in love with a man in England and is tricked into stealing and sent to New South Wales (Australia).” These two characters are about as different as you can get. It is a testament to the actors and their director that a show can run smoothly with this many quick changes.

Allie Freed ’16 plays Liz Morden, “who is referred to by all the convicts and officers in the colony as the most difficult and hardened prisoner.” It may be difficult to get inside the head of someone so callous, but Freed admitted, “I am so excited to bring Liz to life. She is such a fascinating and complex character, and even though her situation in life is quite unique, the themes that follow her throughout the play are themes to which we can all relate in one way or another.”

As many teachers will admit, the best part about undertaking a project at a school is the opportunity to work with students. Professor Wood is no different, as she told me that working with the students is the part of the process for which she is most excited.

Professor Wood said, “I have never seen a previous production [of Our Country’s Good], so for me everything about this production is new.” This is an advantage because she has neither preconceived notions in her head nor a little voice badgering her about all the ways her production is different from others. Going in blind allows for more of a creative license to be used, and the director can draw from what the script says instead of worrying about what other directors have done.

After all is said and done, Professor Wood wants the audience to remember, “in our darkest, nastiest, most undeserving moments, we are all capable of just a little more.”

The opening night for Our Country’s Good is one month away. It will run from Thursday, March 10 until Monday, March 14.

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