The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: September 21, 2016 (Page 2 of 2)

Sexual Misconduct at Bates

When speaking recently with a male friend and Bates alum, the subject of sexual misconduct came up. We started talking about our own personal experience of and witness to sexual misconduct at Bates.  Initially, it seemed our experiences were relatively similar, mine being more aware of victims at Bates, his being more aware of aggressors at Bates. We both had experienced, seen and been close to people negatively affected by sexual misconduct. This was until he noted that a lot of his friends did not seem to have any experience with this, because the general (Bates) public either knew not to mistreat certain people (mostly women), or that certain people (mostly men) had automatic access to sex with whomever they wanted; consent was embedded in their personhood. Upon hearing this I was infuriated to the point of dropping the conversation completely, and too worked up to even combat my friend’s argument.

After a few days, though, I realized that there was a lot of truth to what he was trying to explain: a lot of ugly, violent truth to certain social groups on our campus. While I cannot speak for all social groups, I can speak from my personal experience:in my time at Bates I have noticed a hierarchy  of attractiveness that is equated to personal value, building campus pressure to have sex in order to boost and prove personal value. Combined with alcohol, this pressure adds up to a disturbing amount of sexual misconduct.

What my friend was trying to explain, bluntly, was that more “popular” persons at Bates have consent woven into their social setting, and therefore, it becomes a non-issue. This is to say that there are certain people at Bates who have achieved the status of being so attractive or so magnetic that whomever they approach sexually is destined to consent. Therefore, consent is not a question they need to address;,their status as a person is elevated beyond everyone else. Conversely, there are people so deeply embedded at the top of this infrastructure that someone they would not choose to consent to would not dare approach them. While this sounds like an asinine approach to sociology, I have literally witnessed scenarios like these, particularly between upperclassmen men and underclassmen women. More embarrassingly, I have at one point or another in my Bates career believed that this kind of infrastructure is real,  that certain people are literally gracing me by simply existing as sexual beings. Every single time I have seen this happen and have witnessed misconduct because of it, I have been within or among the social group of predominantly white, heterosexual athletes.

I am in no way saying that this is the only social sphere where sexual misconduct occurs. I am trying to point out, however, that this kind of class system might be the highest culprit of rape culture at Bates College. The first way it promotes rape culture is in its inherent dependence on the framework that some people deserve sex more than others, not to mention the fact that it encourages the hyper sexualization and objectification of certain people on campus. Moreover, granting certain people access to social and sexual privileges based on their status as an attractive, likable person is nothing less than horrifying. There is not a single person that should be automatically rewarded consent based on social status,which leads me to the aftermath of this class system.

While the majority of these socially elected people granted sexual keys to the kingdom of white, seemingly heterosexual athletes do not actually commit acts of sexual violence (reference above), they play a role in the spread of this culture. The spread of this culture, and the majority of its violence, occurs within the social groups of the people that surround these “sexually elite,” and the way they cope with social pressures within it. Because the obscenely muscular yet slender white man at the top of this sexual food chain is allowed to make passes at whomever he pleases with zero repercussion, there are certain groups of people witnessing this behavior and mimicking it. Because straightforward and “confident” tactics works for this person, it seems like a good idea for them to attempt. This framework, setup in a dark basement and unhealthy amounts of alcohol, inappropriate sexual conduct opportunities are endless. Because there is no universal mode of consent within this social class, the entire sanction of consent becomes flimsy and blurred.

More stressful, the individuals who belong to this social group but do not fit into the slender categories of white, heterosexual, or athlete face even more pressure to assimilate, as their bodily ability and social skills function as the currency for which they are valued. Facing pressure to conform to an identity you do not belong to, mixed, again, with alcohol and more dark basements leads to overwhelming opportunities for sexual misconduct. By imposing stringent norms in this way, any outlier to the norm is put in an uncomfortable situation. While I am in no way excusing aggressors of sexual misconduct, I am making a comment that it is not shocking that, in a culture that values athletic, straight, white men and women with very active and very public sexual lives, anyone not falling into those norms is placed in a compromising social situation .

I am in 100% support of Administration taking action to add lights to and expand spatial boundaries of dances. I am in 100% support of Administration implementing the Green Dot program, linking alcohol to sexual misconduct, and taking efforts to minimize this misconduct by imposing discipline. I am, however, unsure how wholly effective these strategies will be if we as students do not work together to face the existing social climate.

80s dance!

The annual Bates College 80s night is a time when every student comes together to congregate in the library arcade for a night of neon colors, rock music, and all around rowdiness. I arrived at the dance around 11:30 PM and the dance floor was already packed. The weather was in the mid-60s, but amidst the crowd of people, it felt like walking on the sun.

The Bates dances are a place where every student, no matter their class year, gender, sports team, or club affiliation comes to dance, sing, and make utter fools of themselves with reckless abandon. The best part is, nobody gives their actions a second thought.

Between the hours of 11:30 and 2 AM, I won’t deny seeing some shocking things in the spirit of the 1980s. Tight, bright skirts with all too revealing hemlines and shirts buttoned down to unspeakable lows only scratched the surface of the promiscuity of the atmosphere.

It is a widely known legend that nothing goes unnoticed on 80s night. The library arcade, packed to the brim with students, seems like a mile wide, when in reality it is probably less than 100 square feet. So why do we let our inhibitions go out the window without a second thought?

I asked a few junior girls what they thought: “There is something about being in an 80’s costume,” they said, “it wouldn’t be the same atmosphere otherwise. There is a tone of absurdity that makes everyone feel entitled to a kind of free for all.” Maybe it is the ridiculousness of the whole experience that encourages us to step outside of our comfort zones. We all buy into the idea of letting down our protective walls for one night that boosts morale and puts people in a “try anything” sort of mood.

Maybe it is the costume idea itself, the idea of masking one’s identity that does the trick. Once I pulled on my red Chicago Bulls jersey and red short shorts, I became an 80’s basketball player, I wasn’t myself anymore, so I could do whatever I wanted without it being a reflection of myself—and everyone is doing it! “Everyone in a crowd acts differently than they would if they were alone, so if I look over and see people making out, I’m like okay it’s cool to make out here!”

While all these aspects of the 80s dance seem great, there are definitely downsides. Dances have a higher EMS rate than any normal Saturday night. Between the costumes, the group mentality, and of course the alcohol, the 80s dance takes on the role of one of the craziest nights of the year. How can we learn to balance the comic absurdity and sheer delight of the dance while still being safe? Enough students have accomplished this task so that nights like these are still endorsed by administration, so we can continue to dance the night away to live music in an all-inclusive and judgment free zone.  So let us work together to keep the dance culture alive and well on campus.

Warning: Graphic content

Earlier in September, the City of East Liverpool, Ohio posted a photo to their Facebook page showing a couple who had overdosed on heroin, with the woman’s grandchild in the backseat of the car.  Along with their names and the police report, page administrators attached a statement saying that the purpose of the post was to “show the other side of this horrible drug.” The post was met with mixed comments, ranging from condemnations of those who posted the photo to statements of support. To me, it is clear the police department, the Ohio attorney general who approved the photo, and the administrators of the Facebook page were misguided in their approach to this pseudo-PSA.

Public shaming is not going to cure anyone of addiction and is not going to “guilt” any addict who sees the photo into giving up their addiction.  That simply is not the way addiction works– it is a mental illness, not a fault of character. The DSM-V characterizes substance abuse as its own disorder.  It requires medical treatment, not public humiliation, to be ameliorated.  Obviously heroin use is illegal and the adults are at fault for putting this young child in harm’s way– I am not denying the fact that their actions were immoral and abusive.  This situation, however, is not as clear-cut as good versus evil. Clearly, the grandmother should not have custody of her grandchild; however, the people in the photo still need help.  The photograph taken by police, featuring a cop holding the woman’s head up by her hair so her face is visible to the camera, does not offer the couple any help.  I worry the photographs titillate more than they incite any social change.  Even the alert preceding the post, “Warning Graphic Content!” seems intended to be attention grabbing rather than cautionary.

The biggest problem with this post is the fact that no one in the photo has their faces blurred– not even the young boy.  In defense of this decision, the City wrote several explanations: “[W]e as a government agency can’t pick and choose what part of a public record we release. These photos and police report are public record,” further noting that “we debated that for many hours and with his face blurred the story is lost. The look on his face is important to drive the message of what this drug does to a child who never has a say. We feel it is appropriate to tell his story.” The City says they are all “well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis.” These statements oscillate on the exact reason for not hiding the identity of those pictured, including the child, and are actually contradictory. Brian Allen, the city’s director of public services and safety, later told NBC News, “As a public official I can’t blur public records and this photo is a public record. It’s all or nothing for us. We’re a government agency posting it. It’s not like we can willy-nilly do what we want.”

Piecing together these explanations, it seems they were not allowed to pick which part of the public record to release, including the faces; however, they also mention debating long and hard about blurring the faces, and this was all for the benefit of the “non drug using” public. Honestly, this just does not make sense.  It was flat-out lying for the government to say they “debated [blurring the boy’s face] for hours” when they were not even allowed to do that in the first place, according to Allen. The sister of the woman in the photo, who asked NBC News that her identity be withheld, said, “The city of East Liverpool humiliated my family and humiliated that little boy. They could have blurred his face and they didn’t.”

That testimonial from the boy’s new guardian should be enough.  The boy’s parents were “troubled” and could not take care of him, his grandmother could not take care of him, and we can only hope that he will have a better chance now in his new home.  This photo did not help him in the least– he would have been taken from his grandmother’s custody without the image.  It did not help his grandmother overcome her addiction, and it seems naive and misguided to claim it will stop anyone else from taking heroin or overcoming their own addiction. Brendan O’Connor of Jezebel.com summed up the situation well when he wrote, “Publishing these photographs and these documents, in this way, serves only one purpose: to reinscribe the unfettered disgust that people in positions of power […] have for those who lack it, who see drug addicts in particular not as sick and suffering human beings […] but as animals deserving little more than a vicious kick and to be ignored.”

Five in Top Ten, Men’s Cross Country dominates first home meet

Homefield advantage and extensive depth are two crucial factors that are not to be taken for granted in collegiate sports. This is especially true for the men’s cross country as they crushed the competition in their meet Saturday, September 17 at Pineland Farm in New Gloucester, Maine; winning the event by over 50 points. The men faced three other schools, Tufts University, WPI, and the University of Southern Maine. Bates recorded 115 points, followed by Tufts with 171, WPI with 196, and the University of Southern Maine with 397 points. WPI and Tufts are ranked 10th and 18th, respectively, in New England. However, after their victory, the Bates men are now impressively ranked ahead of both schools, securing 7th place in the division.

The future is definitely very bright for this team as James Jones ‘20, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, led the team with a blistering time of 26:19.7 over the grueling 8,000 kilometer course. This performance placed Jones fourth out of a field of 67 athletes.

“It was really nice for me to have a positive experience running my first 8K,” Jones said. “On a fundamental level, the race was very similar to every other race I’ve run, but it still gives me a bit more confidence to get one out of the way.”

Behind Jones, the men secured spots five through eight, unveiling the tremendous depth of this team. captains Joe Doyle ‘17 and Evan Ferguson-Hull ‘17 placed fifth and sixth, with times of 26:36.6 and 26:36.9. Next followed by Nick Orlando ‘18 and Matt Morris ‘18 in seventh and eighth. Although an individual Bates runner did not win the meet, the team pushed through the tough course together as a solid pack and found success as a group.

“We were very excited to get the win over some great competition, particularly Tufts since they’re ranked in the top 20 nationally,” Doyle said. “The fact that we were able to win scoring ten runners really speaks to how deep our team is this year.”

On October 1, the Bates men will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky, hoping to continue to strengthen their pack and remain competitive on both the regional and national level. “We’re very excited for the opportunity to race at Louisville,” Doyle said. “There will be many really strong teams from around the country and it’ll be a great chance to show that we can compete with anyone.”

 

First Village Club Series of the year features Shane and Emily

Shane & Emily cheerfully perform at the Mays Center for the year’s first Village Club Series performance. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

The Village Club Series never fails to entertain the Bates student body. Held every Thursday evening at 9:00 p.m. in the Benjamin Mays Center, this event brings incredibly talented musical groups to campus to perform original songs in addition to covers of popular tunes. If the hot chai and cookies are not enough, the intimate and relaxed atmosphere fostered by VCS certainly attracts a large crowd week after week. On September 15, 2016, an acoustic duo by the name of Shane & Emily kicked off VCS for the year.

Shane & Emily have performed at multiple colleges and universities around the country in addition to theme parks, bars and restaurants. Their set list is comprised of multiple original songs as well as popular covers which added a refreshing sense of familiarity and the common “I LOVE this song” reaction to their concert in the Mays Center. According to their website, they “incorporate many different elements of diverse genres into [their] original music.” While their music and personalities emit a contagious positive vibe, they are not afraid of “diving into the darker emotions” in search of musical inspiration.

Bates was one of their first stops on their tour going on for the rest of the 2016 calendar year. Their future venues include colleges, universities and churches in New York, Pennsylvania, Canada and multiple places in Florida

Their personalities match every characteristic of what VCS should be like: calm, reflective, personal and intimate. Looking around the venue, it was the perfect environment to do homework, chat with friends and just enjoy some great live music before the weekend.

Becca Howard ’19 truly enjoyed the performance and believed it was a great way to start of a year of VCS. She said, “Shane & Emily are a very sweet couple who have a unique, accessible sound that seamlessly fuses several musical styles and eras.” Howard found this to be a clever way to “reach a broad audience of listeners.”

Emma Schiller ’18 also found the show to be extremely enjoyable and the perfect way to set the tone and standards for future VCS performances. “They were very strong performers with awesome harmonies. It was a great show for both musical and non-musical people all across campus. I’m really looking forward to seeing new acts we haven’t seen before and seeing some returners later in the semester.”

Howard mentioned that she wants to take advantage of these weekly performances by attending more often. “Free live music every Thursday, provided by super cool musicians and groups from within and outside of the Bates community. I think that is something special we are lucky to have,” she said.

Schiller agrees that she is looking forward to the future of VCS this semester. “I think this is something very unique to Bates and I hope more and more students get the chance to experience it.” Schiller performed in the student VCS show last year with Talia Martino ’18.

In the coming weeks, some of Bates’ favorite groups will be making an appearance, including Ryanhood on November 10 and Tall Heights on December 1. There will also be the student VCS performance on October 13.

Village Club Series is put on by the Campus Life office. Any student can get involved with the planning process of these performances by contacting Nick Dressler, Assistant Director of Campus Life.

 

Climbing on up

The climbing wall at Merrill Gymnasium, adjacent to the track, has been a much enjoyed and well-used resource for years. Recently, the wall has become so popular that George Fiske ‘19, along with the rest of the Bates climbing community, is now leading the movement to expand it.

With the increased presence of indoor rock climbing gyms nation and worldwide, (the first one opened in America as recently as 1987), Bates’s climbing community, along with the world’s, is rapidly growing.

According to Fiske, a new wall is needed to “accommodate the increasing number of climbers on campus and the increasing skill levels of those who climb.” A new wall would, presumably, “be bigger, and offer a more varied, interesting experience, with more holds, overhangs, and surfaces”, says Fiske. And perhaps the wall would be moved to a more convenient location, away from the chaos of the track.

Ideas concerning a new rock wall have been in various stages for years. Last year, Callum Douglas ‘16, Jordan Cargill ‘16, and Toby Myers ‘16, picked up the idea from graduated climbers. However, according to Fiske, the new rock wall initiative has “never been followed through to completion. This year we’re picking up right where Callum, Jordan and Toby left off, so we’re in a good spot.”

A strong argument and proven student support is necessary in winning the approval of the administration, and the initiative has been met with great support already. In only one week, 83 people have signed the petition–a majority of the signers members of the class of 2020.

Despite the clear enthusiasm expressed from a large number of Bates students, the administration has consistently pushed back, resulting in the process being greatly delayed or shut down altogether. Fiske hopes that by creating enough publicity and awareness about the petition, perhaps this year students on campus can finally obtain an adequate climbing wall that can cater to more climbers of all skill ranges.

Even if you have never even seen a rock wall before, you are welcome to use the Bates wall. Although it may seem overwhelming, the only equipment one needs are climbing shoes (located right next to the wall) and a good attitude! Although the wall can sometimes be crowded with experienced climbers, the proposed new wall would solve this issue.

In the meantime, if you are very eager to experience indoor rock climbing on a bigger wall, as improvements to the Bates one will take too long, take a trip to Salt Pump climbing gym. It is located just outside of Portland; about a 40 minute drive from Bates. Although gear rentals are an additional cost, day passes cost only fifteen dollars. Fiske and the others involved in the rock wall initiative are also working with Salt Pump “to make the gym a more accessible and affordable resource for Bates’ kids.” Other ideas include special events for students, discounts, provided transportation, and yoga classes.

The first event is this Friday, 9/23 from 7-10 pm, and if you have not signed up for this one through the Bates Outing Club, do not worry! There will be more events at Salt Pump in the future. To sign up for future trips to Salt Pump or to get more involved in more outing club trips in general, email Nathan Diplock at ndiplock@bates.edu to get on the email listserve.

And if you want to show your support for the new rock wall, just go to https://goo.gl/forms/oeq99mEqZa273CyJ3 to sign the petition!

 

Sexual Violence Awareness Club to change the conversation

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding sexual violence on college campuses in the news, but has there been enough at Bates? Charlotte Cramer ‘19, and Ceri Kurtz ‘19, didn’t think so, and as a result they founded the Sexual Violence Awareness Club to help start conversations about sexual violence and the campus cultures that facilitate it.

“I don’t think a lot of people talk about this stuff and know this stuff. It’s a very quiet topic that not a lot of people think about, it’s really not their fault. I remember my first year thinking, ‘I know this is important, but this doesn’t really happen,’” said Cramer.

Co-president Kurtz shared a similar perspective, stating, “I personally think that there’s a population on campus that is very aware of the problem and actively tries to prevent or at the very least talk about it, but there’s also a large portion of people here that completely ignore the issue which is incredibly problematic, because a lot of those people are the ones who are perpetuating the problem–either through ignorance or intentional malicious enabling.”

Unlike other campus programs, such as Green Dot that is a top-down program fostered by the administration, SVAC offers a student-centered and student-run approach.

“Despite the fact that we have systems in place that will help people, there isn’t a lot of student support and student awareness, but obviously students are for the most part the perpetrators, they are the people that are standing by,” says Cramer.

The bi-monthly club meetings are discussion-based, similar to the Feminist Collective, another club on campus that deals with gender issues. Discussion topics have included staying safe during 80s dance, and consent, as well as an upcoming discussion on the ramifications of the Health Center’s new hours for those who have experienced sexual assault. There has been a fair amount of pushback from the student body over the changes of the health center hours, many arguing that the new and fewer hours are depriving students of resources that could be of aid in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault. For those who are not aware, the Health Center is now opened only on weekdays from nine to five, and closed on weekends, which is when most sexual assault cases occur.

But SVAC is not just about talking, “There’s a lot of activism involved,” says Cramer, “not necessarily standing out in front of commons and shouting at people, but the kind of stuff where we’re just engaging with the campus.” Those students on campus over Short Term last year might remember SVAC’s art exposé, which they hope to continue this year.

SVAC truly aims to reach the entire campus community. “It’s about bringing everyone together, because it’s an issue that a lot of people have. It does not discriminate,” says Cramer. Naturally, they are looking to partner with other groups and clubs on campus, like FemCo and Outfront, as well as obtaining greater involvement from athletes on campus.

“Reaching out to athletic teams is an effective way of reaching out to a large and influential part of the Bates community,” stress SVACs community liaisons, Claire Sullivan ‘19 and Emma Rivas ‘19, “at this point, we are in the process of formulating plans to involve athletes. Peter Lasagna, the men’s lacrosse coach, is a huge advocate for programs such as Green Dot and other sexual violence prevention programs, so we are looking forward to possibly collaborating with him to open our reach up to the athletic community.”

In addition to discussions and education around consent and intervention, SVAC also approaches prevention from a self-defense angle.

“My philosophy is that everyone on campus should be highly aware of what consent means and should hold themselves responsible for their actions (I don’t think there’s such a thing as not being able to “control yourself” in making an advance on another woman or man). However, in practice, it’s much harder to reach potential perpetrators — because they’re likely the people that wouldn’t attend things like the Art Expose on Sexual Violence or undergo a five hour Green Dot training–so I think it’s important to also empower people by letting them know that there are options in self defense and the consistent option to say no, and give people ideas in ways to keep themselves safe,” says Kurtz. Co-President Cramer also mentioned a potential movement for a weekend long women’s self-defense course, in addition to the PE class already held at Bates.

Although they have ambitious plans, the mission of SVAC is simple: get students to recognize that sexual violence at Bates happens. “Our club is trying to make Bates students aware and cognisant of the fact that it is a real problem that happens on our campus,” said Rivas and Sullivan, “whether you see it or not, the only way to make our campus a safer place is to open up a dialogue that acknowledges the problem that exists.”

The Sexual Violence Awareness Club meets bi-weekly Tuesdays at 7:45 in Pettengill G44.

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