The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: November 2, 2016 (Page 1 of 3)

Why we should end slavery in America

During the early hours of September 9, 1971, nearly half of the Attica Correctional Facility’s inmate population overtook control of the New York prison. They held 42 staff members hostage for a total of four days in attempts to negotiate better living conditions and protection of their rights, making it one of the largest Prisoners’ Rights Movements. Tensions escalated after Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused to meet with the prisoners, resulting in 43 deaths, and very few tangible improvements, apart from raising awareness of the inmates’ bleak situation.

45 years later in 2016, a labor strike emerged in prisons in at least 24 states at both the state and federal level, demanding “an end to ‘“slave-like’ working conditions, illegal reprisals, and inhumane living conditions,” reports The Nation. Inmates can be paid as little as $0.12 to $0.40 per hour, significantly lower than the $7.25 federal minimum wage, an amount that is highly contested as failing to amount to a living wage. Imprisoned individuals rarely, if ever, are able to raise their wages up to $4 per hour.

This has two important implications. First, this severely diminishes one’s ability for socioeconomic stability and mobility upon release, during a time when individuals are most vulnerable in living and employment prospects, possibly helping to explain why over two-thirds of released prisoners end up back in prison within three years of release. Second, this pitiful wage institutionalizes inhumanely cheap labor for the government and private companies to exploit. In fact, there exist states that hold the right not to pay their inmate workers anything at all for their labor, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas, essentially constituting forced unpaid labor.

If the federal/state governments and private corporations outsource jobs regularly for cheaper labor, why would they not do the same for America’s most vulnerable population? While this certainly is not the only reason, it may help to explain why despite making up 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. Of course, American prisoners are not representative of the American populace. Instead, black males are incarcerated at 6.5 times the rate of white males and black females at three times the rate of white females, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

The War on Drugs has granted incredible power to law enforcement agencies to target and maintain the status quo of racial injustice. While black and white marijuana use remains nearly identical, the former is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for an alleged crime than their white counterpart. But it does not end with targeting drug possessors, users, or distributors. Drivers are more likely to be stopped on the road if they are Hispanic (7%) or black (6%) than if they are white (2%), according to the BJS, often leading to escalated interactions between law-abiding citizens and police officers, such as in the recorded executions of Philando Castile and countless others.

Upon arresting minority populations at a far greater rate than their white counterparts for similar crimes or lawful existence, private, state and federal prisons are allowed to have their inmates work long hours in miserable conditions and are often denied appropriate workers’ compensation for any work-related injuries, refused medical care and attention when needed, and denied the ability to unionize, contest work conditions, or take time off work.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires all prisoners to work if they are medically capable. And of course, the several cents an hour prisoners make is subject to taxes, taxes that will help pay for the mass incarceration that effectively enslaves over 2.3 million people, people who lose their rights not only in prison, but afterwards, as well. While each state varies on the rights that felons permanently lose, these often include the right to vote, the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the ability to travel abroad, employment in many fields, and public social benefits, including food stamps and public housing.

While the loss of certain rights may be justified on the potential threat convicted felons may pose to the public, it must be acknowledged that most of these attempt to extend punishments past prison sentences in an effort to make life more difficult for this population. The recovery of released prisoners and the well-being of those currently imprisoned, 1% of our population, has never been our priority. In the allegedly most free and progressive nation to exist in human history, we still allow up to 23 hours in solitary confinement, a punishment that had included juvenile offenders until very recently.

This is why the September 9 inmate worker protest was monumental. Although largely ignored by the media, over 24,000 inmates refused to work in grossly inhumane instances of forced labor. They are trying to shed light on the fact that the 13th Amendment quite literally constitutionalized slavery and indentured servitude “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” while ending slavery and indentured servitude for non-imprisoned populations but establishing it for inmates.

It is time we admit that America runs many of its private corporations through private, state, and federal prisons on cheap or unpaid forced labor in working conditions that would be declared abhorrent in any other setting. It is time we afford proper medical, educational, and rehabilitative care to our inmate population, one that is discriminatorily comprised of certain groups of people over others. It is time we reform a law enforcement system that enables extrajudicial executions of its citizenry. It is time we rethink our nonviolent crime laws that mandate minimum sentences without opportunities for parole. It is about time we end slavery in America.

Voting at Bates and Maine

In less than a week, on Tuesday, November 8th, citizens around the country will be heading to their local polling places to cast their vote for the next President of the United States of America.

If you’re not registered, it is not too late to vote. Bates Students can register on election day at the polling place, which is the Lewiston Armory. The Lewiston Armory is down the street from the new dorms right off campus at 65 Central Avenue. If you live on campus all you need to do is bring your social security number and your Bates ID. If you live off campus you still need to bring your social security number and your Bates ID, but you must also bring a piece of mail you have received that has your Lewiston street address, such as a bill. If you are already registered in Maine, bring your social security number and a photo ID to insure that there will be no confusion about your registration. As Maine State Representative Peggy Rotundo said, “Every Bates student who is not voting somewhere else has the absolute right to vote!” Despite this right, in 2012 only 42% of Bates students voted, compared to the nationwide 57.5% voter turnout rating.

Maine is one of only two states (Nebraska is the other) that has the potential to split its electoral votes. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, two of Maine’s electoral votes are awarded by Congressional District and the final two are distributed by the state’s “at-large” vote. The Lewiston/Auburn area is a part of Maine’s second Congressional District where there are regularly very thin margins of victory. In state and local elections there are often recounts resulting in the winner receiving less than 100 votes more than their opponent.

Maine’s system of splitting the electoral vote increases the weight of each individual vote, especially in such a highly contested district. Furthermore, within this system there is the potential for three different candidates to receive electoral votes. Therefore, regardless of whether you are voting for the Democratic or Republican nominee or a third party candidate, your voice will be heard.

In this election there is more at stake than just who the next President will be. If you are registered to vote in Maine you will also have the option to vote for Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin or Democratic challenger Emily Cain in their race to represent the Maine’s second Congressional District. The other elections included on the ballot are for Register of Probate, County Commissioner, State Senator, and Legislative Representative.

Finally, there are six referendum questions registered voters in Maine get to weigh in on. The first is over the legalization of Marijuana; the second is about taxing individual income of over $200,000 a year to create a state fund for K-12 education; the third is about closing the gun-show loophole; the fourth is about raising the minimum wage; the fifth is about rank choice voting; and the sixth is about improving Maine infrastructure.

There are a wide variety of issues at stake in the election coming up on Tuesday, November 8th. Maine has made it very easy for Bates students to make their voices heard in this election. If you are not registered, it is not too late! If you have any questions, reach out to the Brenna Callahan ‘15 (

Against false equivalency: The Student endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Although this Presidential Election includes two far from perfect candidates, The Bates Student Editorial Board has no hesitation in endorsing Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

A lot has changed from eight years ago. We have seen some of the greatest strides in social progress in decades, from the legalization of same-sex marriages to protection of transgender rights to addressing gender disparities. President Obama has rescued a suffocating nation from the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. With an increasingly globalized society and diversified American culture, we now realize that we must face unprecedented questions of racial tension. Now more than ever, we face deep racial wounds and are coming to terms with questions involving police brutality, Native land rights, immigration, and Islamophobia. We are aware of the discomfort of far too many citizens who questioned our first African-American president’s legitimacy with the overtly racist birther movement. We have witnessed the President face unprecedented obstructionism, from government shutdowns to a refusal to uphold Constitutional duties of voting on Supreme Court nominees. We find ourselves at a delicate crux, when decades of civil liberties will be determined by the next President and influence the social climate of our nation.

A deplorable man is the Republican Nominee for President of the United States. A man who has attacked Mexicans, Muslims, women, the disabled and countless other groups could be the Leader of the Free World by the time we publish our next issue. How did we get here? It may not be pleasant to admit it, but large sects of the Republican Party have endorsed an ideology of aimless anger, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and bizarre conspiracy in the last 15 years. When you add on top of that the absurd culture we live in, where entertainment and gratification trump basic values like respect and civility, you get Donald Trump. He is not the hero we deserve or the hero we need. He is not even a hero, but he is the man we must confront, the man we must acknowledge as a legitimate candidate to be the boss of the United States.

We are left to decide between two of the most unpopular major party candidates in American political history. We are left to decide between a candidate many Americans view as an untrustworthy politician with a history of hawkish tendencies and a lecherous orange man enabling white power. This may help to explain why many are turning towards either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, the nominees for the Green and Libertarian Parties, respectively. While holding distinct ideological views may appear sincere or attractive, both Stein and Johnson fail to make a legitimate impact in changing political dialogue or posing as practical alternatives. Though democracy encourages and, indeed, fosters a diversity of opinions, our current political system is run by two major parties with little if any hope for other candidates. As noble or sound as voters may feel giving their votes to third parties, they must also acknowledge that either Clinton or Trump will be our next president. And more importantly, the difference between Clinton and Trump is not one of degree, but one of kind. Saying that this election is between the lesser of two evils, as it were, is to be willfully ignorant of the glaring differences between the candidates and their policies (or lack thereof).

Outside of salacious issues like Donald J. Trump’s hair, or Donald J. Trump’s attitude towards Rosie O’Donnell, or Donald J. Trump’s latest tweet about a sex tape, we have to assess which candidate is best equipped to represent America on the world stage and make crucial decisions about the direction of our country. The most difficult part of doing this is separating the drama of wondering what ridiculous thing Trump might say next from his fitness to lead. The simplest way to make such a judgment is to ask which candidate has the best character. And the sad reality is that Donald Trump’s character is disqualifying: Giving a volatile, sensitive buffoon like Trump control over the nuclear codes would, quite literally, be a disaster. Giving a man who thinks it’s acceptable to sexually assault women because of his stardom reign over America would be, to put it mildly, morally repugnant. Even with her numerous faults, Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be, even to her worst skeptics, a mature, reasonable, and principled person during her 30+ years in the public spotlight.

We disagree with Donald Trump when he says all of Clinton’s years in public service are “bad experience.” Hillary Clinton has a long, consistent history of advocating for women and children’s rights, from her early years working for the Children’s Defense Fund and fighting for children’s healthcare, to her support for educating young women across the world as Secretary of State. This record is especially important to consider in the context of appointing our next Supreme Court Justices, as Clinton has proven that she will select Justices who will protect women’s reproductive rights. After an intense primary battle with Bernie Sanders, Clinton has embraced a more progressive platform, taking an aggressive stance on urgent issues such as climate change, removing money from politics, and providing tuition-free college education for any family making less than $125,000 per year.

That said, Hillary Clinton is far from a perfect candidate. A part of the untrustworthiness surrounding her comes from radical changes of her stances, from opposing marriage equality to coming around a few years ago, to considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “gold standard” of trade to eventually opposing it. Even today some of her stances remain problematic, such as not yet taking a staunch stance on the North Dakota Access Pipeline, both for environmental reasons and for Native rights’ sake. From once calling black children “superpredators” to now understanding Black Lives Matter, Secretary Clinton has changed her views on a number of issues in a drastic manner that leaves some unnerved. There are serious questions to be raised regarding her view on America’s role abroad. Was her vote for the War in Iraq a precursor of military interventionism? Will the United States send troops into Syria to overthrow Assad? What role, if any, ought the country play in defeating ISIS? These are tough foreign policy questions that require a seasoned, rational adult to answer, and given Clinton’s history of changing her publically stated stances, it’s understandable why some would doubt her ability to stay true to her word on these matters.

It’s important to recognize these deficiencies while also acknowledging that Clinton’s flaws are in no way comparable to those of Trump. Our nation does face some grave problems, and one of these is Donald Trump. It may be typical for the media to treat the two major candidates as equals, but we feel it would simply be false and irresponsible to do so this election. Only one candidate in this race is capable of competently addressing the pressing issues of our country, and her name is Hillary Clinton.

Sherlock Holmes: A Preview

In a dark and stormy theatre, a group of performers are rehearsing for the opening of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, under the direction of Katherine Van Patten ’17. Van Patten is directing the play in conjunction with her senior thesis work in theatre, and has been in charge of each aspect of production since September. The play revisits the character of Sherlock Holmes, master detective, in the context of saving the King of Bohemia before encountering age-old adversaries Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty.

Describing the play as “classic adventure fun,” Van Patten indicates that the drama will please all audiences.

Amanda San Roman ’17, playing the supporting role of Madge Larrabee, believes that the play emphasizes identity. Citing Holmes’ various disguises throughout the play, San Roman states that “it’s not until he lets his true colors show that he can truly be happy.” Describing the show as “complicated” and “exciting,” it seems as though audiences are in for a night of contemplation as well as entertainment.

With regards to her experience, San Roman struggled to portray the “wicked” Larrabee. San Roman notes that Larrabee “has lots of sass and pent up anger and frustration” due to her lack of agency. However, the character also demonstrates the behaviors of a “volatile criminal.” To overcome these challenges and access her character, San Roman drew inspiration from her peers.

Van Patten was intentional with her casting, crafting a specific group of performers who she thought would augment the play and emphasize her unique desires. The cast is warm and supportive of one another through the stresses of putting on this show. San Roman is “constantly surprised and impressed by [her] cast mates” and their capacity to work hard. For her, acting in Sherlock Holmes has been a lucky chance to engage with an interesting story and dedicated craftspeople.

Van Patten expressed her excitement for working with her cast and production team, “I’m super proud and thankful for all the work that everyone has put into this production. Without such a brilliant cast and brilliant designers I don’t think this play would be what it is today!”

Participating in a thesis performance brings its own challenges and rewards; of these, San Roman is inspired by her classmate of four years taking on a huge project with gusto and success. With many theses, the performers become integral to the creative process and production. In this regard, San Roman again noted the support system the cast has provided for Van Patten, indicating both a safe creative environment and a close-knit cast. As Van Patten mentions above, her designers and cast have helped her out immensely. Clearly, this group of artists created a healthy environment for exploration.

One last item of note is the role of gender in this play: both Van Patten and San Roman indicated how playwright Steven Dietz devalued the role of women on the stage and off through “sexist” and misogynistic dialogue. Van Patten hopes that her play will “get people to think about ideas of women’s representation and opportunities in theater.”

Look out for Sherlock Holmes in Gannett theater on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This compelling play is one you won’t want to miss!

Nora Dahlberg ‘18 gazes at other members of the cast. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Nora Dahlberg ‘18 gazes at other members of the cast. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Hanna Bayer ‘17 rehearses for Sherlock Holmes. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Hanna Bayer ‘17 rehearses for Sherlock Holmes. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Spoon University comes to Bates

Bates welcomed a chapter of Spoon University—a “national food publication with the goal of uniting college students around food and food-related topics”—which was co-founded by Isabella Der Priore ’19. The Bates Student sat down with Del Priore to gain a better understanding of Spoon University and the goals of the chapter at Bates.

This interview was edited for brevity and grammatical errors.

Mariam Hayrapetyan: What are the goals of Spoon University? What are some thing the chapter is trying to achieve?

Isabella Del Priore: The goals for Spoon University are to give college students an everyday food resource through an online blog-style website. As a chapter here at Bates, we will be running our own website specific to Bates and our unique culture with respect to food and food-related topics. It is a way to unite students around a common passion for food, whether that’s writing about food, eating food, sharing recipes, or photographing food. It gives students experience in journalism and teaches valuable marketing and social media skills, as well as how to effectively run, and maintain an online publication.

MH: Why did you decide to open a chapter at Bates?

IDP: I decided to start a chapter of Spoon University at Bates because I have always been passionate about cooking and baking as well as food photography as a way of sharing recipes. I also love to write, so Spoon University was the perfect platform to unite those two passions. I feel that this type of online, easily accessible food publication is something that would appeal to a Bates audience.

MH: What are the leadership roles, and how was the decision as to who should fill the roles made?

IDP: The leadership roles have been filled. The roles are as follows:

Editorial Director– responsible for approving content of articles proposed by the writers; editing drafts of the articles and giving suggestions to writers before publication on the site; making sure the quality of the site is up to certain standards; this position is held by Isabella Del Priore ’19.

Marketing Director– responsible for organizing club activities, events on campus, collaborations with local food stores and restaurants, and posting on social media such as Instagram and Facebook to share with the Bates community and beyond what our chapter is doing; this position is held by Amy Turtz ’19.

Photo Director– responsible for coordinating the photographers and writers so that there are photos that accompany each of the published articles as well as photos that can be used for event flyers and posters and to be posted on our chapter’s social media; this position is held by Emily Lufburrow ’19.

Video Director– responsible for creating video content to be put up on our chapter’s website; videos are often “How To” videos demonstrating a certain simple recipe; this position is likely to be held by Jack Doyle ‘18 (he is in the process of being interviewed).

The leaders are selected by the national chapter of Spoon University which is an organization run out of New York City. Each applicant was selected based on an extended application process that involved personal questions about leadership qualities and experiences, a test of skills necessary for the desired position, and an over the phone interview with Spoon University headquarters in NYC. In the future, the Bates chapter of the club, and not the national chapter will select leaders.

MH: Do you have anything specific planned for this year?

IDP: As of right now, we are still trying to get the online publication up and running, so we do not have an extensive list of planned events yet, but we will soon, as we are having our first meeting this week. We plan to have new articles posted to the site each week and roughly one event every month or two. Some event ideas include hot chocolate on the Quad, simple cooking classes, and trips to Portland to sample foods from different restaurants and then write reviews.

MH: Given that members will be writing articles, what will be content of the articles?

IDP: The articles will all be related to food in some way, but beyond that, the writer can choose any topic of interest to them. Generally the articles have a fun and easy-to-read tone. They are meant to be easily accessible and the topics have to be presented in a way that is clear and concise and gets to the point fast with a lot of pictures.

Jeff Rosenstock-Worry

Jeff Rosenstock is a goon. He drinks forties with his friends and smashes the bottles and never gets to work on time. He is a slacker’s greatest hero and he makes great music. Rosenstock follows up on his last work We Cool? (an excellent indie/punk rock record) with Worry, an album in which Rosenstock wheels through the various incarnations of punk rock and works through his own trauma, baggage and fear.

The front half of the album demonstrates some real expertise in the discipline of pop punk. “Wave Goodnight” is an especially exemplary track, having all of the sentimental energy and shout-y choral sing-along of, say, a Blink-182 song. But what sets Rosenstock apart from the rest of his competitors is his lyricism and his presence on the album. All of his songs are very dense and stacked to the brim. Sometimes when he is singing, it just sounds like Rosenstock cannot keep up with his own thoughts and he ends up tripping on his teeth and then shouting about it. He sings about the messed up things he has done and seen and he does so very well, with great imagery and sad little hooks. It is endearing the amount of honesty he is channeled into the album.

The second half of the record becomes a sort of punk montage consisting of eleven songs (or vignettes or movements) in nineteen minutes, each song slipping into the next one, forming one enormous protean anthem. Within that nineteen-minute stretch there are some very real standouts such as the pretty punk waltz “Blast Damage Days,” the coherent and kicking “I Did Something Weird Last Night” and “Rainbow,” a ska-punk imitation. If there is one song to certainly pay attention to I would suggest “Blast Damage Days;” it is incredibly rich, full of electric fuzz and feedback and aggressive melody. As mentioned before, it is a punk waltz, which is sometimes a cheesy thing to attempt, but very successfully done. Rosenstock’s sonic smorgasbord reminds me of the Clash’s attempts at the punk catalog. Unlike the Clash’s Sandinista! (the behemoth thirty-six song triple album), Worry is a digestible and rational attempt at a bouquet of punk sound, however nobody beats the Clash.

The album as a whole is very cogent. It all makes sense and it all sounds like Rosenstock and there is never a moment where the album tries to be something it’s not. It is very humble and honest and real, which is commendable. Nothing on the album is untouchable or sacred, it is all there for you to interact with, in whatever pitiful way you choose. Let us take a look at what this album has: shouting, distrust of technology, adult uncertainty, alcohol-induced regret, fear for the future, head-smashing anxiety, pitiful masculinity, the occasional horn blast, less than subtle weltschmerz all around. This album is one for the real young adult, failing and scared. Plenty of us, I imagine.

In all sincerity, it is a really great album. There is so much I enjoy about it and I am a little giddy about it, so much so that I cannot very well punctualize my enthusiasm for the record. It is got everything a good emo album needs, like shouting and distress and cute little synthesizer patterns and the sad blinks of a wurlitzer or a xylophone or whatever malleted instrument he’s swatting at. It is not even a real emo album but there is so much there for you that it can be whatever you want it to be. It can be an album of defeat or victory, regret or congratulations. It all depends on you, whoever you are.

Subjectively best tracks: “I Did Something Weird Last Night,” “Blast Damage Days,” “Festival Song,” “Hellllhoooole.”


Mood swings end study on male birth control

This past Friday, a study on an injectable male birth control was released. What’s good about it? It has a 96% success rate of preventing pregnancy. What’s bad? The study had to end early because twenty participants dropped out due to side effects. Mood swings, acne, panic attacks, decline in sex drive– all uncomfortable, worrisome issues. However, let us look at the side effects for the female contraceptive pill: “nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, decreased libido, vaginal discharge and visual changes.”  The pill also comes with a higher risk of life threatening blood clots, which occur in about one in one thousand women taking hormonal contraception.

Yet, women have endured these side effects for decades because the responsibility of avoiding unwanted pregnancy is culturally placed on the woman. This can raise issues when a woman can’t tolerate added hormones, or does not have reliable access to healthcare. Male birth control would be a first step in making this responsibility a shared one– both in personal relationships and in the overall cultural association between birth control and gender.  There is a stigma attached to birth control, and its cultural ties to women. Employers have refused to cover costs for workers, citing religious objections; this same view has been shared by conservative politicians. Because people with biologically female reproductive systems are currently the only ones able to take hormonal birth control, these views target them specifically. Perhaps by expanding hormonal contraception accessibility to all genders, this stigma would be alleviated.

The presence of inconvenient side effects will not halt the progress of the development of male birth control (representatives say that the study is a “great step forward” and proves promising) but it is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the historical burden of sexuality women have had to face medically and culturally. Ideally, hormonal birth control would not have uncomfortable side effects, but it does and women have been obligated to weather them for decades.  Not everyone experiences these side effects with birth control, and the advent of a male option would be convenient if one partner could not tolerate side effects while the other experienced few or none.

Men’s Cross Country places seventh at NESCAC championships, bright future ahead for coming regional meet

Despite the ominous weather forecast and slick terrain, the Bates men toughened out a grueling 8,000 kilometer course at the NESCAC Championships this year. The meet was hosted by Colby College at the Quarry Road Recreation Area on Saturday October 29. The NESCAC Conference is one of the most competitive in New England, including nationally ranked teams such as Williams, Amherst, and Middlebury. The men finished 7th out of 11 competing schools, ousting Connecticut College, Hamilton, Wesleyan, and Trinity.

“The NESCAC meet is always really exciting because all the schools in the conference are excellent competitors,” says captain Evan Ferguson-Hull ‘17. “This meet is a great time to demonstrate to our peer institutions what our program is about, and what we can do.”

James Jones ‘20 led the men, running a blistering time of 26:03.7 on the challenging course. His stellar performance placed him fourth out of a field of 123 runners, earning him First Team All-NESCAC Honors. All-NESCAC Honors is a prestigious achievement awarded to student-athletes who both place amongst the top fourteen runners in the conference meet and are in good academic standing. The fact that Jones is able to achieve such an accomplishment as a first-year illuminates an exciting future for him.

Jones was followed by Ferguson-Hull who placed 27th with a time of 26:51.6. The next three Bates runners, Zach Magin ‘18 and Jack Kiely ‘18, and captain Joe Doyle ‘17, finished within 20 seconds of each other, showcasing the driven pack mentality this team has. Magin finished in 34th place, followed by Doyle in 47th and Kiely in 51st.

Although the men had hoped to place higher in their conference meet, they feel ready and confident going into the remainder of the championship season. They will next compete at the NCAA Regional Championships at Westfield State University in Westfield, Massachusetts on November 12.

“While the result may not have been the one we were looking for, our main goal is to perform well at the nationals qualifying meet (NE Regionals)” says Jones. “I feel that we’re in a good position to be competitive on that day.”

“It isn’t a lack of preparation or skill,” added Ferguson-Hull. “Hopefully we can use this meet as a learning experience and perform like we know we can at Regionals in two weeks.”


The stigma of conservatism

Tonight at dinner, my friends and I were discussing how easy it is to be socially and politically liberal at Bates. Often times, I will find myself having passionate conversations about gender, the presidential campaign, and education reform. However, one thing that all of these conversations have in common is how unified and singular opinions on all of these issues are. Often times, there is no debate on the ideas we put forth. The liberal opinions that we all hold are stated as truth. If there is any disagreement, it is usually regarding the nuances of the issue rather than the issue itself. Sometimes, talking with friends about politics is about patting each other on the back for sharing the same opinion than anything else.

There is something comforting about being surrounded by people who share your world view. Working towards social and political justice can be exhausting and it is important to have a support group with whom you can share your grievances and frustrations. However, I think that by having such a one-sided dialogue, there are things that we miss. Problems are usually better solved when people work together to solve them. I often write off conservative opinions without listening to the substance of them. When we graduate and leave this cozy liberal bubble, we are going to be living and working with people who have ideologies all across the spectrum. To make any sort of change, you have to compromise. In order to compromise, you have to be willing to hear and really understand the other side’s argument. Now is the time to learn how to have conversations with people that see the world in different ways than you. Furthermore, learning how to have these sometimes uncomfortable conversations will help us become more compassionate towards people that we disagree with.

Another reason one-sided dialogue is limiting is because it does not challenge us to really think about why we hold the ideologies and values that we do. The other day, I was discussing the Maine ballot initiatives with a friend and I realized that I did not have a good explanation for my support. That is because I have not had any conversations with people who did not also support them. I want to have sound reasons for the having the ideas that I do and if I am never pushed to think about why I believe what I do, then my ideology will be nothing more than empty words.

We are doing ourselves a huge disservice by stigmatizing and silencing conservative voices at Bates. I think part of this stigma is due to the degree to which we tie people’s political and social ideologies to their character. I am often guilty of attacking the person rather than the idea. As college students, we are supposed to be learning how to be critical thinkers, but how can we do this without hearing from the other side?

My friend, a Trump supporter

This is the story of an American. Some would say an average American, others would not. This is the true story of James Richardson, who is not a man but a mirror. A mirror for someone and a portrait for many, but a reflection of a real person. So this is his story. The story of James Richardson, a Patriots fan, a lover of the series Ray Donovan but also the movie How to Kill A Mockingbird; a Harley motorist, and a habitual reader; a boater, and a gun-owner; an American and a Trump supporter.

Let’s be clear what this is not: this is not an apology for Trump or even Trump supporters. This story doesn’t have a right-side or a wrong-side; it isn’t promoting a specific agenda or even advocating for a specific position. This story isn’t supposed to give you the facts or the objective truth. It is just a story and that’s all it can be. If you chose to not listen then you are no worse for it, and if you do that doesn’t mean that you are any better as a result. Take away whatever you want from James’s story. My job isn’t to tell you what to think, only to tell you the story as best I can.

James was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to a father that he never got to know and a mother who provided as best she could for him. He grew up in the kind of neighborhood that few want to stay in, but even fewer manage to get out of. He got thrown out of high school for punching a teacher who verbally abused him during gym class. Life went on and James went on to get his G.E.D, attend community college, and later trained to become a fireman. All his life he had wanted to be a fireman. He passed his physical test, and got a perfect score on the written exam. But James did not become a firefighter. He lost his place to another man. He was black. He did not have a perfect score.

There was a minority support quota, in essence an affirmative action program, for the Lowell firefighters, which helped minority groups join the force. Does that mean it was the right thing to do? Probably. But it was different for James. He never had a problem with the color of your skin. He never was a racist or committed a hate crime. So why was he paying for a crime he didn’t commit? Arguably a crime even his ancestors, being Irish immigrants never committed? To James, it isn’t that it wasn’t right, it’s that it wasn’t fair.

James made it out of Lowell after joining the airforce, and made a life for himself. He got a fair job, married and started a family. He always was intensely aware of the world around him and, of course, that includes politics. He was a Republican and Reagan was a hero.

But in 1992, Bill Clinton ran for president and won. Four years later, James, a Republican, walked into a voting both, closed the curtain and voted. This time he had decide to vote down ballot for Republicans in Mass., except for one candidate, a William Jefferson Clinton. The economy was good, and James felt Clinton had done a fair job as president, so without prejudice he voted for him, no questions.

James had done well for himself. He raised two daughters on his own. He got a good job and started saving up money. He never got into financial trouble and always kept a tidy house. He never had a run in with the law and had a great credit score. He got a license to carry and often would head over to a gun range to go out shooting with his buddies. He got a girlfriend and when his kids had grown up, he helped to raise hers, no question asked whatsoever. He never stopped listening though, even as the world around him changed. But during that time, he lost something. Faith. He lost faith in America.

He felt that America, over the course of the last couple of decades, had failed. We had a War on Poverty; there is still poverty. We had a War on Drugs; there is still drugs. We had a War on Crime; there is still crime. And the War on Terror seems to be going no better. He had gone through a lifetime of politicians saying “Yes, we can” with the “we” ending the day after an election. He was frustrated with politics and even more with politicians. James does not understand why the last few decades have been solely a fight about more rights for minorities or less rights for minorities, when he sees roads, bridges, airports, and communities that need to be rebuilt. What about his home? How can a politician stand and be praised for his successful and progressive agenda when he has neglected the very people who elected him? Everyday James is told that his privilege being white makes his voice louder than others, so why does he still feel like he is never being heard?

James looks at the election cycle today and is skeptical. Trump isn’t his first choice, but after decades of the living with the ‘evil you do know’, he believes that the ‘evil you don’t know’, may just be the change we need. He has seen what the other side has to offer: a decline of manufacturing, trade that is disportionately affecting Americans, increased spending and deficits, welfare programs that do not end poverty, and unaccountability between a leader and their electorate. James still isn’t sure if he’ll vote for Trump, but all he knows for certain is that he can’t vote for the system that has let him down after so many years.

That is James’ story. You may disagree, as do I, with the way he sees certain parts, but that is not the point. James is a person. James is human. He is not the vilified or ignorant caricature of a Trump supporter that is constantly portrayed. No doubt these people exist. But if on November 9th, Trump is the new president elect of the United States, he will not have won from bigots or racists, but from Americans who lost faith in our country not so long ago. At the end of the Civil War after Lee surrendered to Grant, Grant famously quieted his celebrating soldiers remarking: “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.” After November 8 and the next president is chosen, that is what we will have to be “countrymen” or else we will cease to be a country altogether.

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