The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: February 2017 (Page 2 of 4)

Trekking for women’s empowerment

On Monday, February 6th, India native Thinlas Chorol, an entrepreneur and advocate for women’s rights, visited Bates to present her work. The talk was entitled “Women in Ladakh, India: Observations and Reflections.”

Chorol began her presentation with information on Ladakh, the mountainous region in Northern India in which she resides, where the population is about 250,000 and many of the inhabitants are Buddhists or those of Tibetan descent. She emphasized that Ladakh is “very different from other parts of India,” in terms of such factors as culture, climate, and religion.

Chorol grew up in a remote village in Ladakh and from a young age, her dream was to become a trekking guide: someone who leads other people on expeditions through mountains. However, this is a field dominated by men, and thus, she was rejected at first. Nevertheless, despite her initial setbacks, Chorol was determined to realize her dream and she ultimately became a guide.

However, her journey did not stop there. Chorol wanted to encourage other women to become guides as well and thus founded the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company–an organization completely owned and operated by Ladakhi women. These women guide anyone through the mountains from individuals to families to student groups.

The company specializes in organizing “homestay treks.” Aside from the cross-cultural exchanges that this experience fosters, the homes in which one stays are always run by women, as men seek employment outside of the home or even outside of the villages in which they reside. Thus, local, rural women are able to earn income and thus have more freedom independent of their husbands. In the words of Chorol, she “helps the women achieve the same status as the men.”

Chorol goes on to discuss the gender roles that have historically been perpetuated in Ladakh and throughout other parts of India–an aspect of Indian culture she is focused on combatting.

For a long time, girls were not allowed to attend school because they were “needed” to help out at home. Only boys went to school in order to become income-generating husbands in the future. Although now mandatory schooling for girls in rural areas has been instituted, many do not graduate. They instead get married or have children at young ages and many do not have job opportunities, whether they want them or not, outside of farming, cleaning, cooking, and taking care of their children.

Outside of the limited opportunities for women, Chorol also discussed other gender inequalities. Ladakhi women are not allowed to plough fields, to enter certain monasteries, or to become village leaders. Chorol added that if a women is sexually harassed, she tends not to report the incidents, as it is the norm to wrongfully blame the women involved.

Chorol further explains that Ladakhi women are reluctant to empower themselves through involvement in politics, as they already have a large number of responsibilities and in the past election, not one of the few women who ran were elected as representatives.

To combat some of these issues, Chorol founded the Ladakhi Women’s Welfare Network in 2012. The Network helps women suffering from sexual violence or domestic abuse, and any other issue they may be struggling with. The organization is currently working on 3 or 4 court cases and has already created the holiday, Women’s Day. Chorol’s future plans include educating Ladakhi women about their rights as well as leading sexual education classes.

When asked about opposition to her women’s empowerment movement and educational initiatives, she replied that there has not been much. Although it may seem very unequal in terms of gender, Chorol emphasizes that Ladakh is more progressive than other parts of India.

For example, in Ladakh there is no dowry system–the custom of the bride’s family giving goods, property or money to the groom’s family in exchange for her hand in marriage. Furthermore, In Ladakh, when females are born, the birth is as equally celebrated as births of males are. This is not necessarily the case elsewhere. The sole act of opposition to her movements that Chorol mentioned was when posters advertising the Women’s Welfare Network that she had put up in a local market, were removed.

Thinlas Chorol has accomplished much in only her 35 years of life and continues to combat gender inequality and to fight for the women of Ladakh, one trek at a time.

 

Bates Democrats practice civic engagement

The last few weeks have been the most interesting in a long time for politics in the United States; yet, as the fabric of the world order begins to change, traditional partisan opposition has remained the same. Throughout the week, the Bates Democrats have made it known through their actions that they do not support many of President Trump’s cabinet picks and they have done well to make sure that both Susan Collins and Angus King know as well.

Every day for the past week the Democrats have been hosting phone banks, calling on fellow Democrats and Bates students alike to call Maine senators Angus King and Susan Collins to state their opposition to some of President Trump’s cabinet picks, such as Scott Pruitt, and various bills that Congress is attempting to pass that could be destructive to the environment, such as the repeal of the Methane Waste Rule. These passionate students have tirelessly been attempting to persuade their representative and some of their efforts seem to have come to fruition, while others have not.

The devout Vice-President of the Bates Democrats, Elise Emil ‘17, stated that her work is not only important, but imperative: “starting this week the club has organized a weekly phone bank to oppose Trump’s cabinet picks many of whom are unqualified and even dangerous to the very agencies they are supposed to lead. Essentially we envisioned having a few students getting together in a room for less than an hour to make calls to Senator Angus King and Senator Scott Pruitt”.

Additionally, Emil went on to talk about how the call slots would help to incentivize students: “often, when a student wants to call a senator or one of their representatives, they’ll be focused on homework or a club, and then they will end up not having enough time to even talk with their representative. But by having them have a specific time slot, they are more likely to actually call their representative and the atmosphere of the room makes it less stressful for students as well”.

“In particular, we as a group want to come together to represent the vision of our group as a whole”, Emil added. “For many Democrats, President Trump’s choices for his cabinet are not just unreasonable, but completely unqualified. “Scott Pruitt is a horrible decision for head of EPA particularly because he denies climate change and has sued the EPA multiple times. By calling Senator Collins and Senator King, we hope to demonstrate to them how Trump’s cabinet pick does not represent the majority of Americans and their views on climate change. More so by scheduling events like this, we hope to promote and encourage student activism on campus and by engaging in this routine we hope to change Susan Collins’ mind”.

Determined and unwavering, Emil and the rest of the Bates Democrats will continue to host calls and oppose President Trump’s picks for the next few week.

 

About the big game

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, there was intense speculation over what role politics would play in the big game. This was particularly in regards to what many consider the most entertaining part of the whole spectacle: the advertisements. Super Bowl commercials are known and anticipated for being more ridiculous or having a higher production value — becoming a sort of cultural phenomenon on their own. Political demonstrations in sporting events, like Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, haven’t been met with warm support in the past year, but because companies were creating ads specifically for one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, it was clear they might use the opportunity to send a political message.

Before the Super Bowl even aired, Fox Broadcasting rejected at least a few ads, including one from 84 Lumber depicting a mother and daughter’s prescient story of immigration featuring an expansive wall separating Mexico from the US. This ad clearly has specific political aims and Fox asked that it be “retooled” before airing. In the end, many ads with more subtle political messages made it on the air. Budweiser aired an ad featuring the story of Adolphus Busch’s immigration from Germany to America, which Breitbart criticized for being “pro-immigration.” AirBnB’s commercial featured a hashtag: #weaccept. Google’s advertisement for their Google Home smart speaker featured people from a range of races and backgrounds, which, alarmingly, seems revolutionary for an advertisement to do. In an Audi ad, a father speaks about his fear that his daughter will be valued less than a man when she grows up, after which Audi affirms their support for equal pay.

I have mixed feelings about large companies using their platforms for political messages. Overall, though, I think this was a positive occurrence because the ads generally focused on inclusion and compassion as their “revolutionary” aims. My only reservation comes from the power dynamic inherent in advertising. As I’ve written before and everyone is aware, advertising is inherently manipulative and although these messages are positive, like every act of publicity, we should take it with a grain of salt. Yes, these companies probably stand behind these ads and their ideologies, but they are also trying to make a statement for their own gains. Every ad that had even the slightest political metaphor was featured on the news or blogs online. Paying for the Super Bowl spot resulted in exponentially more viewings of these company’s ads simply because they were subtly political. I didn’t even watch the Super Bowl, but I’ve watched all of these advertisements.

It’s hard to find a viral demonstration of political resistance that doesn’t directly benefit the demonstrator in some way. The fact that these ads go viral is because the companies have access to a large audience. It takes a huge number of individuals to achieve the same effect (one recent example is the Women’s March). I think, at this time, we need to accept and appreciate resistance and solidarity where we can find it, but particularly support grassroots demonstrations over corporate ones.

Barry: The Obama biopic for the post-election era

As America has entered the next generation of politics, a time of uncertainty, several films have looked to the past to hunt for nostalgia and comfort of America’s 44th president’s earlier life. While Southside With You presents the love story of Barack and Michelle Obama, Barry takes a darker approach, aiming to uncover past president Barak Obama’s internal struggle as a young college student. Surely by no accident, both movies were released on the tail end of Obama’s presidency. While Southside With You presents the self-assured and confident Obama that we have seen in the past eight years and prior to his presidency, Barry delves into a side of the man that the world had not yet seen.

Initially released in December of 2016, Barry is a biopic of a young Barack Obama as he struggles with his identity and the future as a college junior. Barry (Devon Terrell), as the future president likes to be called, transfers from Occidental College to Columbia in 1981 to study political science, and faces internal struggles as he navigates a new life in New York City. Barry battles with uncertainty in many aspects of his life, making it a fitting film for the current uncertainty in today’s political sphere. Barry gives audiences a peek into the internal crises that Obama faced as a young black man attending a predominantly white school, like Columbia.

Director Vikram Gandhi presents a pensive film that takes on racial and class divides, not unlike what we are seeing in 2017 America. The title character struggles with racial identity, not only through the transnational racial divides, but also through his unique family history. We see Barry struggle to fit into any crowd. As a biracial person, raised by a white mother in Indonesia and Hawaii, Barry questions his whiteness and his blackness. We do not know who this character is because he is also unsure of his own identity. However, Barry is able to glide between two different worlds with surprising ease. One moment he is strolling the streets of Harlem, buying a W.E.B. Du Bois book; the next he is sitting in a political science class at Columbia debating the pillars of democracy. He socializes at parties with other Columbia students and goes to parties in the projects of Harlem. Barry is torn between two worlds, neither of which he is a full member.

The film, while set during Obama’s college years, has a powerful insight into larger social and political issues. Barry’s struggles are easily related to the political issues of 2017. His internal divide between these two worlds seems symbolic of the current polarized political climate. His struggle for a concrete identity continues throughout the film. It seems that there is some part of Barry that cannot be fulfilled because he is unable to fully identify himself. However, in the end, this void seems to be filled.

Barry has a slow realization about his own identity and his role in the world. He comes to recognize that he does not need to be more white, more black, or more biracial. He can simply be all of those things; Barry is a mix of everything, as is the United States. With a message of openness and inclusivity, both personally and interpersonally, Barry strikes at the core of the political issues that have plagued America for decades, and embraces the possibility of accepting a country with no specific identity, other than being a mix of everything and a place for everyone.

 

AASIA statement on immigration ban

To the Bates Community:

It is widely known by now that the immigration ban ordered by President Trump has directly prevented thousands of immigrants, refugees, students and visitors from Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia from entering the US. Although the executive order has been temporarily halted by the Department of Homeland Security, we are still deeply disheartened by such an exclusionary motion.

As the Asian American Students in Action (AASIA) club on campus, we believe that the actions of the Trump Administration further polarize our country. This enactment echoes a similar sentiment to past discriminatory laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Japanese Internment Executive Order. Especially at a time when we should be embracing our differences, the ban only exacerbates the fears of individuals and communities who differ from our own.

We recognize that even if one may not be from the aforementioned countries or practice the Muslim faith, this ban can still be concerning for all members of our community. We want to express our empathy and extend our support. Our club meets Wednesdays at 7pm weekly in the Office of Intercultural Education, and we would love to have you join our conversation.

Barry: The Obama biopic for the post-election era

As America has entered the next generation of politics, a time of uncertainty, several films have looked to the past to hunt for nostalgia and comfort of America’s 44th president’s earlier life. While Southside With You presents the love story of Barack and Michelle Obama, Barry takes a darker approach, aiming to uncover past president Barak Obama’s internal struggle as a young college student. Surely by no accident, both movies were released on the tail end of Obama’s presidency. While Southside With You presents the self-assured and confident Obama that we have seen in the past eight years and prior to his presidency, Barry delves into a side of the man that the world had not yet seen.

Initially released in December of 2016, Barry is a biopic of a young Barack Obama as he struggles with his identity and the future as a college junior. Barry (Devon Terrell), as the future president likes to be called, transfers from Occidental College to Columbia in 1981 to study political science, and faces internal struggles as he navigates a new life in New York City. Barry battles with uncertainty in many aspects of his life, making it a fitting film for the current uncertainty in today’s political sphere. Barry gives audiences a peek into the internal crises that Obama faced as a young black man attending a predominantly white school, like Columbia.

Director Vikram Gandhi presents a pensive film that takes on racial and class divides, not unlike what we are seeing in 2017 America. The title character struggles with racial identity, not only through the transnational racial divides, but also through his unique family history. We see Barry struggle to fit into any crowd. As a biracial person, raised by a white mother in Indonesia and Hawaii, Barry questions his whiteness and his blackness. We do not know who this character is because he is also unsure of his own identity. However, Barry is able to glide between two different worlds with surprising ease. One moment he is strolling the streets of Harlem, buying a W.E.B. Du Bois book; the next he is sitting in a political science class at Columbia debating the pillars of democracy. He socializes at parties with other Columbia students and goes to parties in the projects of Harlem. Barry is torn between two worlds, neither of which he is a full member.

The film, while set during Obama’s college years, has a powerful insight into larger social and political issues. Barry’s struggles are easily related to the political issues of 2017. His internal divide between these two worlds seems symbolic of the current polarized political climate. His struggle for a concrete identity continues throughout the film. It seems that there is some part of Barry that cannot be fulfilled because he is unable to fully identify himself. However, in the end, this void seems to be filled.

Barry has a slow realization about his own identity and his role in the world. He comes to recognize that he does not need to be more white, more black, or more biracial. He can simply be all of those things; Barry is a mix of everything, as is the United States. With a message of openness and inclusivity, both personally and interpersonally, Barry strikes at the core of the political issues that have plagued America for decades, and embraces the possibility of accepting a country with no specific identity, other than being a mix of everything and a place for everyone.

 

Republicans speak out

Amidst the hype of the 51st Super Bowl on Sunday night, where the New England Patriots won by 34-28, it is important to remain focused on the politics that are affecting all of us. Given the new policies that President Trump is implementing, it is important to understand the point of view of the Republicans.

Molly Ryan ’17, the President of the Republican Party at Bates, shared some of her thoughts on Trump’s presidency thus far. It is critical to note that she is not speaking on behalf of all the Republicans at Bates; rather she is sharing her personal opinion.

Mariam Hayrapetyan: What is the agenda of the Republican Party at Bates right now?

Molly Ryan: The Bates Republicans’ mission this semester is to foster a bipartisan dialogue on campus, and to more importantly ensure that conservative voices are respectfully heard. We are currently in the process of putting together a couple of events with the goal of exposing the Bates campus to intelligent, moderate Republicans, while also facilitating conversations around partisan issues. We want people on the Bates campus to know that contrary to popular belief, Republicans do exist here, even if many of us are afraid to speak up due to our minority status on campus.  

MH: How do you feel about Trump’s appointees?

MR: Personally, I have issues with some of them, while I think others are perfectly qualified. Unfortunately presidents have a great amount of power when selecting their nominees, which I think is difficult for the public to understand. I think what we all must remember is that federal agency heads are not dictators, and states have a lot of power over many of their federal programs.

MH: It appears that the news sources are portraying Trump in negative ways and many are disappointed with him. As the Republican Party President, can you say a few things to dispel the notion that things are truly terrible?

MR: Obviously no one is going to deny that Trump has instituted some fairly radical policies in his first couple of weeks. However, I really push the general public – but more specifically, Bates students- to still give him an opportunity to govern. Every president deserves a chance and sometimes I think the media’s portrayal of Trump makes it extremely hard for him to be given any chance at all.

MH: What are your views on the immigration ban?

MR: I agree with the many federal court decisions that have ruled it unconstitutional.

If you are interested in attending the Republican Party meetings or are interested in learning more about what they do, contact Molly Ryan (mryan5@bates.edu).

 

Bobcats drop two of three, drop in the standings

On January 31 the Bobcats hosted the University of Maine-Farmington and handled them 91-72. Marcus Delpeche ‘17 had a game-high 22 points while Jeff Spellman ‘20 added a career-high 21 points. Nick Gilpin ‘20 gave support off the bench with a career-high 12 points. The Bobcats had four players in double-figures. Isaac Witham led his team with 19 points and Riley Robinson dropped 15 points for UMF.

The Beavers kept it close during the first half but the Bobcats would finish the half strong with a 9-0 run to end the half, giving them a comfortable 44-29 lead. The Beavers would not give up the fight in the second half, cutting the deficit to 8 with 8:10 left in the game. But a 6-0 run and a 9-2 run would solidify the Bobcats’ win. Bates shot the ball well, notching a 54% mark from the field and 48.1% from downtown.

On Friday the team visited Amherst, which is ranked 11th nationally, and lost 74-65 in a NESCAC showdown. Amherst’s Jayde Dawson scored a game-high 27 points, dropping 19 of those in the second half. Marcus Delpeche tallied another double-double and had a team high 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jerome Darling ‘17 and Spellman both added 10 points. The first half was about the Bobcats; they dropped six threes compared to the one made by Amherst which gave Bates a 38-33 lead at the half.

Things would flip in the second half, as Bates missed all seven three-point attempts whereas Amherst converted six of their 14 threes. Amherst would pour it in on the offensive side of the ball outscoring Bates 41-27 to take control of the game the rest of the way. The Bobcats had the lead at 58-51 with 8:32 left in regulation but Amherst responded over the course of six minutes. Amherst went on a 13-0 run to take a 64-58 lead with 2:07 left in the game. Bates never caught up as Amherst put it away. Foul trouble for the Delpeche brothers, who both fouled out, and poor shooting in the second half put Bates in a hole that they did not have enough time to climb out of.

Another tough NESCAC loss came this past Saturday when the Bobcats travelled to Hartford, Connecticut to face Trinity, losing 83-66. The Bantam’s Ed Ogundeko scored a game high 23 points and snagged nine rebounds while Langdon Neal added 14 points and four assists. Marcus had a team high 15 points and Darling tallied 10 points and five assists. Spellman and Tom Coyne ‘20 dropped nine and eight points off the bench, respectively.

The Bantams took a 7-0 lead in the opening 3:22, and led 40-29 at halftime. Trinity increased its advantage to a game-high 20 points at 65-45 with 9:08 left in the game after two Neal free throws, but Bates kept fighting and cut its deficit to single digits at 71-62 with 3:22 on the clock after a big 3-pointer by Coyne. But Trinity went on an 8-0 run in the closing minutes to put it away.

The Bobcat’s final game of the regular season is a NESCAC showdown against Williams, set for Sunday February 12. Marcus Delpeche will be looking to be the 33rd player join the Bates’ 1,000-point career club.

 

Women’s, men’s swimming finish third, second at WPI Invitational

This past Sunday, Bates Swimming and Diving competed in the WPI Invitational. Per the Bates sports and information office, this was an uniquely formatted event for swimmers, because it was comprised entirely of sprints. “It was a great change of pace to be able to swim 25 yard events and 100 yard relays,” Captain John Dina ‘17 wrote in an email. “Swimming can be so repetitive and everyone appreciated the chance to swim fun new events.”

Teddy Pender ‘18, and Alex Bedard ‘19 took full advantage of the 25 yard sprints, winning the 25 free and back respectively.

In addition for the men’s team, Alexander Ignatov finished second in the 200 free. “(Alex) made an incredible comeback in this meet. His sickness early in the season caused him to miss a big chunk of training which is hard to come back from as a distance swimmer,” wrote Dina.

A number of Bobcats on the women’s team finished first in their respective events. Despite feeling a little under the weather, Captain Emma Jarczyk ‘17 finished first in the 3-meter dive with a score of 478.35, breaking her own team record In addition, Jarczyk finished first in the 1-meter dive scoring 451.20.

A few first years made a big splash on Sunday. Janika Ho ‘20 won both the 50 free and fly, while Monica Sears ‘20 won the 100 and 200 free, and Emily Erad-Stone ‘20 won the 50 back. In addition, Logan McGill ‘18 won the 25 butterfly.

Associate Head Coach, Vanessa Williamson, was especially impressed with Kristy Prelgovisk ’19, “I thought Kristy did well coming back from an injury,” Williamson wrote in an email on Monday morning. Prelgovisk finished first in the 100 breastroke event.

Williamson also singled out Sara Daher ‘17 for a great performance. “Sara looked great in her events,” the coach said. “(She) looks ready for NESCAC competition.”

Overall the no. 25 ranked Bates women finished third in the meet behind no. 35 WPI and No. 50 Roger Williams. Meanwhile, the men finished in second place behind WPI.

The Bates women will compete next at the NESCAC championships on February 10th, and the men will compete in the championships on the 17th. The team seems excited and optimistic about their abilities going into NESCAC’s. “We are in a great place. The team loves NESCAC’s because it is the focus of everything we do from day 1, and being able to perform at our best is a special feeling,” Dina wrote. “The men’s team is excited to watch the girls swim fast, as they always do, setting the tone for what we can expect at our championship meet the following weekend.”

 

At least Trump sparked white activism?

In spite of the atrocious regulations the Trump administration has been enacting, the one slightly positive outcome is the activism non-minority groups now feel accountable to participate in. Although much criticism around the women’s march was its overwhelming lack of intersectionality and inclusion, it was one of the first in the 21st century in which different age groups of white women joined on that large of a scale to protest injustices against women, including Trump allegedly trying to ban abortion, which could potentially affect every woman who is able to get pregnant. In terms of highly targeted minority groups, the recent “Muslim ban” preventing anyone from  a primarily Muslim-“marked” country from entering the U.S. regardless of valid visa or green card status has sparked a number of protests, as well as Trump’s removal of LGTBQ+ information from federal websites.

While the circumstances for these protests are unbelievably horrific for the groups that they affect, from a privileged person’s standpoint like mine, they seem positive for the sole reason that they actually hold privileged people accountable. The micro-aggressions and other subtle abuses minority groups face every day are too often dismissed by people that do not personally experience them. It is easy to say that Afro-Americans do not face discrimination and other abuse in this country because segregation laws have ended. It is easy to say that women do not face discrimination and other abuse in this country because rape is illegal and it is normalized for women to work now. It is easy to say that LGBTQ+ people in this county do not face discrimination and other abuse because gay marriage is legal. But now that the President is enforcing actual legal abuse and removing rights from human beings in this country (or rightfully allowed to enter this country), the abuse is public knowledge. It is extremely difficult to deny. It is glaringly obvious that some people in this country are legally treated differently than others. While this is extremely horrifying and unprecedented, it might be the only way to hold privileged people responsible and to get them involved, and so far it has.

This is not the right way, and I am not advocated for legally sacrificing rights to add to the abuse of minorities in this country, I am only saying that every underprivileged person whose cautions were ignored on election is day is being proven right, and that is something that is becoming increasingly difficult for privileged peoples to deny. The racism (among other forms of hate) are becoming more and more overt in the face of Trump’s presidency, and that is something people unaffected by subtle racism (and other forms of hate) are finally coming together to decry. There may finally come a feeling of responsibility and accountability for people to use their privilege to reduce the increasing abuse of the Trump administration.

 

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