The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: September 20, 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

We went behind the doors of President Spencer’s study and chatted with her about the vibe she hopes will be present on campus this year.  Covering topics from Bates’ response to the proposed repeal of DACA, the class of 2021, the importance of the liberal arts education, and more this article sheds some light on what our president sees for college’s immediate ten month future.  The article has been edited for grammar.

 

The Bates Student (TBS): What is the tone that you hope this year will embody? You mention most of this in your Remarks at Convocation, but if there is anything else that you would like to add.

Clayton Spencer (CS): I would love this year to celebrate the strengths of Bates where we have been building year-to-year with our three best admission years ever, our highest Fulbright year ever, our best athletic season last year, winning the Women’s North American National Debate Championship. We have a lot to be proud of and I want us to embrace that and I would love the world to know more about what Bates students are capable of, and the wonderful outcomes we have. I’d also love to get to a place that I think we are working very hard on, on genuine communication and a mutuality on the student social scene, and making sure that we find the right balance of robust, vibrant social life for students, yet safety and the right balance between off-campus and on-campus options and social venues. I feel like we haven’t gotten the balance right yet, and we’re getting a ton of really great ideas and feedback and interactions with students, so I think we’re going to be moving in the right direction there. We’re also about to get a new Head of Security, which I think can be a great part of resetting that. So I’d like this to be a joyous, optimistic year. I think there are tough issues nationally on all sorts of questions: free speech, equity and inclusion that affect campus climate, and I’d like us to manage those with the kind of creative, communal approach that Bates excels in.

 

TBS: What are you most looking forward to about the present first-year class, the class of 2021?

CS: The thing that I am most looking forward to is getting to know the students, and that’s in each class because you guys are smart, you’re funny, you’re idealistic, you are witty, you have taste in music that are so far beyond me, so it’s just for me, really fun and joyous to actually deal with the students we are here to educate. You are the reason we are all here. I’m not the reason we’re here, nobody else is, you all are the reason we’re all here. So the more I get to know students, the more I am infused on a daily basis with the mission of what we are doing, and the more fun it is.

 

TBS: In your statement on DACA you state, “Bates remains committed to admitting students without regard to their immigration status and to ensuring the safety and support of all students while on campus.” Can you elaborate on how revoking DACA would be contrary to Bates’ essential nature?

CS: I think revoking DACA would be contrary to America’s essential nature, which is that talented, young people, wherever they come from, ought to have the ability to realize their hopes and dreams. And Bates certainly was founded with that core principle in mind. In fact, we were a hundred years ahead of many of our peers in embracing students from all walks of life, et cetera. The 800,000 DACA participants, some of which are students and some of which are working, young adults, are talented, hard-working people who are part of the future of America. So I think it goes against everything of defining American ideals, and certainly everything that defines Bates.

 

TBS: In your convocation remarks you state, “Never has the humanistic project of the liberal arts been more important. Never has this form of education been more needed–or more challenged.” What is Bates doing to combat these challenges?

CS: I think what we’re doing is trying to teach our students to approach intellectual work, their own development, and the notion of social contribution with rigor and integrity. So when we talk about intellectual work, it’s learning to work hard on problems, to reason from evidence, to realize that in a democracy, you need to persuade people of a point-of-view, you need to be open to divergent points-of-view. Free speech is fundamental, so is respect for others. So in every dimension of how students are developing, which is intellectually, also as a whole person, and hopefully as leaders and contributors to a larger social good–that’s everything that Bates is about, both in the liberal arts as the academic core, and our community engaged work in the notion of Purposeful Work, which is aligning what you do with what your deepest interests are. And in preparing you guys to be creative, adaptable agents in the world ahead of you.

 

TBS: A small follow-up question, why is the liberal arts education so vital right now? Has there been a change, a pivot point that you’ve seen in the past couple of months, couple years?

CS: I would say that given the many forms of communication–social media, segmented access to news and information–the notion of having a common set of facts, the ability to interpret however one wishes from a common set of facts is really at risk. So I think the liberal arts–the integrative thinking, the commitment to truth, the notion that facts matter–these what we all know that in the last several years, these very basic notions that many of us probably took for granted, both as Americans and as educators, have come under attack. A lot of that has to do with the manner and means of communication, some of it is more cynical and political in nature.

 

TBS: Our final question, what is something you hope to change about yourself this year in relation to Bates, or yourself in general?

CS: I’d like to get my tennis game back, that’s thing one. And change myself in relation to Bates, I would love to spend more time on campus with students. Last year we launched our fundraising campaign–largest fundraising campaign in Bates history–$300 million goal. We’ve already raised $168 million before we’ve even launched, so we’re in great shape. But to do that I was off campus more than I would like and I really would like to be on campus participating more than I was able to last year.

 

TBS: I actually just have a small question, I was just percolating in my head. You as a highly, highly educated person, very impressive list of schools that you’ve attended, just population-wise, what do you see the value of a small, 1,800-person community as?

CS: Okay, so let me first just note that I grew up on the campus of a liberal arts college, Davidson College in North Carolina. And I went to Williams College, so another small NESCAC. So my first, and most deeply ingrained model of education is the residential liberal arts college. What I think it has to offer is education at a deeply human scale. I think that allows us, more than any other model, to take on the project of educating the whole person, and I think it’s an inspiring and highly effective model.  

Halley Posner '18 of Southport, Conn., (white shirt) and Jeanne Hua '18 of Honolulu (black shirt) editors from The Bates Student, interview President Clayton Spencer in her second-floor Lane Hall office.

Halley Posner ’18 of Southport, Conn., (white shirt) and Jeanne Hua ’18 of Honolulu (black shirt) editors from The Bates Student, interview President Clayton Spencer in her second-floor Lane Hall office. PHYLLIS GRABER JENSEN/BATES COLLEGE

Brutal Subjugation of the Media in India, and the Threat to Democracies

On September 5 2017, Gauri Lankesh, a firebrand activist-journalist, was shot dead in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. Just forty-eight hours later, Pankaj Mishra, another renowned activist-journalist, was shot in the northern Indian state of Bihar. A preliminary glance at their work reveals the stark difference between the two. They spoke different languages, were occupied by dissimilar local issues, and targeted varying audiences. However, despite habiting different journalistic planets, Indian news outlets like the Hindu and Times of India were quick to notice that the two were ardent critics of Prime Minister Modi, his political party and its Hindu nationalist following. In an increasingly majoritarian and aggressive India, that is a mistake few citizens dare to commit.

Astonishingly, few hours after Gauri’s cold-blooded murder, Hindu nationalists who despise the secular fabric of India’s media (often labeling them as sickulars or presstitutes) swamped social media with messages applauding this gruesome crime. According to them, her killing was justified because she was a communist, an apparent terrorist-sympathizer, an anti-national, and a feminist. Some fanatics used Gauri’s murder as an opportunity to openly threaten other secular journalists. In an independent investigation conducted by the Wire, it was revealed that a majority of these posts came from individuals who were closely affiliated to the BJP, India’s current ruling party. To top it all, a Twitter account followed by Prime Minister Modi posted a tweet openly celebrating Gauri’s assassination.

These murders and the despicable response by India’s right-wing demonstrates the volatility of democratic institutions in India. It has showcased that democratic India’s biggest enemy is not an autocratic leader or a foreign power, but the Indian people themselves. Instead of asking tough questions to the establishment, a majority of Indians have channeled their anger towards the press for flirting with ‘radical’ ideas. Therefore, in the near future, self-censoring induced by a fear of the majority will be a greater threat for independent media than an actual bullet.

India is definitely not an anomaly. History is unfortunately ripe with cases of democracies capitulating to majoritarian pressure. In April, as reported by BBC, Turks voted in favor of a constitutional referendum that greatly expanded the powers of the President and weakened checks and balances on the executive. Brexit, Trump’s election, collapse of Weimar Germany, Charles De Gaulle’s France are just few famous examples of democracies partially surrendering to the will of their own people. In each of these cases, national, ethnic, racial, and religious fundamentalism effectively clouded the moral judgment of the majority, and pushed it towards making a decision against its own interests.

Therefore, to protect democratic culture worldwide, we need to increase our focus on the sources of these contagious and disastrous ideologies. Throughout history, we have chosen to focus on the threat posed by a single individual. Trump, Modi, Erdogan, and Putin are seen as the problem, and removing them is viewed as the solution. For instance, right here in America, liberals have often committed the grave mistake of highlighting Trump as a one-off problem, while ignoring the structural defects that permitted his rise in the first place. Similarly in India, Modi is viewed as the cause of religious fundamentalism, when in fact he is its product. It is high time that we start recognizing the role of the corruptible majority. Only by being honest to ourselves and our fellow citizens can we save democratic culture worldwide.

 

Court Jester or Political Comedian: People Need Comedy to Digest

Chelsea Handler, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel. The list goes on and on. These aforementioned people are all wildly successful, make gobs of money, and have a massive influence on the public’s perception and knowledge of politics. For those of you who live under a rock, they also happen to be late night comedians.

In our post-November world, we have seen a huge upshot in politically active comedians. Many lefties are angry and terrified about the world they see today and see late night comedy as an escapist realm where they can shut off their minds for an hour and laugh. Instead of hardcore news-hour, they want someone to make them laugh at a situation rather than rage or cry.

For example, Jimmy Fallon is a notoriously middle-of-the-road guy, more of a song and dance man than a political personality. Pre-November 2016, he was at the top of the charts of late night comedy. But now on the other side of November, according to Nielsen data from May 25 to August 13, Fallon is down about eighteen percent in total viewers. On the other hand, from the same matrix, Stephen Colbert’s audience has grown about six percent in total viewers. I believe those statistics can be accounted for by one simple fact: Colbert is not afraid to engage. He picks a side of the political spectrum and sticks to it, poking fun at leaders from all over the world and in all levels of the American administration. It may not be too bold to say that President Trump’s election helped revive, if not resurrect, comedians such as Colbert.

Chelsea Handler is another such example. Moving her talk show to Netflix for its second season, airing her show on the internet juggernaut allows this comedian some more freedom than regular network would. Handler openly criticizes the agendas of the current administration and invites prominent guests on her show to express their opinions. In a Skype interview on April 20, 2017 I got a firsthand look of what this comedian is like when the cameras aren’t live. Handler vehemently emphasized that “[it’s] really important to be political during this time. If you have a voice I feel like it’s really important to use it.” A person like Handler (or Bee or Kimmel) is privileged to have a platform from which they can have their opinions reach thousands if not millions of people.

It is also important to remember that while people in positions like Handler’s are smart and know their stuff, they are still comedians. Going back to the days of the court jester, a comedian’s job is simple: illuminate the truth by being able to laugh at yourself and your world. Handler notes, “I can be a mess, and that’s the beauty with being a comedian.” There is almost an allure to the slightly crazed life she lives because it seems so distant from many others’. Handler further remarks, “[f]irst and foremost, I’m a comic and want everything to be funny and easily digestible.” The hard issues seem less daunting when people poke holes in the plot and makes you think just for a second at the utter ridiculousness of a statement. It allows people to take a step back and remind themselves that the world is not (completely) spiraling down into a pit of deep, dark despair.

But in addition to being flamboyant and funny, Handler always brings an underlying somberness to the situations that warrant it. Living in present day America, we always have to remember people who came before us, the people who trail blazed first. Handler notes, “You have to constantly keep fighting for the rights that other people left for us.” Our reality does not exist in a vacuum, we are a result of the past. We owe it to Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Ida B Wells, and countless others to keep on fighting for what we know as right.

Handler, Kimmel, Meyers, Colbert, Bee, Oliver. These people are so monumentally important because they can get the message out to the world. Turning on the TV, viewers watch political comedians and come away with the knowledge that everyone is not content with the new status quo.

 

A Day Out at the Bates- Morse Mountain

This past Saturday, my friends and I decided to go to the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation. We had gone to Clambake last year and this year we were up to trying something different and new. This pleasant sunny day bore no trace of a winter to come – it was the perfect day to explore. The one hour drive from campus went by in a blink. We were ready for a day at the “Bates beach.”

I must confess I am not very adventurous. I don’t own a car, I don’t have hiking boots, and my home town is a thousand miles away from the sea. As a slightly out of shape international student, it took me almost a whole year to start appreciating Maine. However, it would be hard not to enjoy the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation and I wish I had visited it much sooner. The laid-back 30 minutes’ trail from the entrance of the conservation area to the beach was meditative. “I found that I had a much greater appreciation for the beach because of the hike in you have to take, so that when we eventually got to the beach it was a magnificent light,” says Madeline Schapiro ’20. The beach was truly magnificent; the balmy temperature created a fog that covered everything in glowing white sheets. The beach was slightly deserted and only a few silhouettes were visible in the distance.

As many other Batesies, I sometimes feel the sudden need to escape campus and create memories of a different sort. Everyday I realize that there is a priceless sensation in venturing into something new and exciting. On our hike back from the beach, we met a couple of Bowdoin alumni who quickly recognized us as college students. Even though they did not tell us their class, their white strands of hair seem to show a history that goes way back in time. They told us that when they were 20 or so a friendly Bates student introduced them to the “Bates beach” which they have sometimes visited ever since. For me, it was just refreshing to see the genuine looks on their eyes. I took the excited nostalgia of their voices as an unexpected part of what it means to have a liberal arts education. “It was just nice to see an enduring connection to a place because I can imagine us, as friends, doing the same one day when we are older,” mentioned Jesse Saffeir ’20 who had already visited the beach before.

As we headed back to Bates, I couldn’t help but think that my friends and I had found a place of our own. Not as physical spot but as a unique memory that will linger with us. You don’t have to be adventurous to appreciate Maine and its beautiful scenery. “I am upset that I hadn’t been there sooner. I think it would be a shame to go to Bates and never take the opportunity to go to a place as secluded and beautiful as that beach,” emphasized Schapiro. “The Maine coast has this Spartan, chill beauty to it that is really just a sight to behold,” mentioned Josh Andino ’20. Sometimes we just need to see the rush of the ocean breeze in the fall to understand that life is worth living. And, as it is often the case, it is a great day to be a Bobcat.

On Commons and Mental Health

Being back at Bates after a semester abroad brings up many things to re-adjust to, classes that actually require hard work, friends you have not seen for a year or so, but most prominently the readjustment to Commons. Whether it be Brad’s Eggs or Vegan Pad Thai, being away from Bates for even just the summer is sure to have left you desiring your favorite Commons dish and hoping it pops up early in the cycle this school year. While having only one dining hall at school has many advantages, being thrust back into the atmosphere has many consequences for mental health.

The idea of a single dining hall at a college branded for being small and inclusive, seems to set up the ideal random meetings of strangers who end up becoming life-long friends. However, does this happen in practice? Throughout my career at Bates thus far, I have personally never sat down at a table where I did not know anyone, and only twice has a stranger or group of strangers sat down with me. Understandably, at a high-demand school like Bates, meals can be a large part of the socializing and catching up you do with your pre-established friends, but even still Commons can be a source of anxiety or general uneasiness.

The influx of people at noon lunch can be enough to make anyone feel claustrophobic. Weaving in and out of lines, trying to find a table or figure out where your friends are sitting can provoke certain fears we may not have even recognized before. After finding your friends, and hopefully a table, you head up to get your lunch. Trying to grab a bowl without accidentally bumping into someone or running your hand along an area it should avoid, you are suddenly conscious of every step you take. Not to mention the possibility of running into an old classmate, friend, or partner you were really hoping to avoid.

Apart from the herds of people, familiar or not, finding the right place to sit in commons can also be nerve-wracking. Venturing onto the tile can mean scrutiny from anyone walking in or up to get food. Not to mention — isn’t the tile reserved for athletes? The fishbowl may offer some solace to the general white noise of Commons, but the proximity of the tables inside allows all other diners to hear the conversations being had at your table. Or, what if you are like me and just like to eat a meal alone? What do other people think of you? Is it okay to enjoy alone time?

Finally, we get to the actual meal. Is it embarrassing to eat certain foods if your body looks a certain way? What if your Commons crush or someone you would rather not see is in line for the food you want, do you circle around and pretend to look for something else until they clear out? What will happen if someone else takes your omelet by mistake but you can’t just eat theirs because of dietary restrictions?

So, next time you are in commons, think about some of these things and how we can work as a community to alleviate some of the inherent anxieties that arise when entering Commons. Sit down at a table with people you have never met before. Say hi to that person you wanted to avoid. Look for a table in the opposite location of where you usually sit. Most importantly, enjoy all of the great, local food options Commons has to offer.

 

AESOP: Then and Now

With the school year just getting under way, and first years only recently returned from their AESOP, many current seniors may be feeling nostalgic about their own AESOP experiences. From incredible outdoor excursions to lasting friendships, AESOP has been setting the tone for incoming first-years for decades. Its role in the larger orientation program has changed slightly since the class of 2018 were first years, however.

Unlike current first years, AESOP was the very first thing that members of the class of 2018 experienced at Bates; preceding any other orientation events. The shift to the current schedule, where AESOP trips start after a few days of orientation, began with the class of 2019. The Bates College website now identifies AESOP as a chance to “take a breather” from orientation programming.

Katie Hartnett ’18, one of this year’s AESOP head coordinators, has experienced the trips in both time slots; as an AESOPer herself four years ago, when trips still kicked off orientation, and now as one of its organizers. While she “loved that AESOP was the first thing [she] experienced at Bates,” she thinks the program can be successful whenever it comes in the orientation schedule.

“Forming shared experiences, strong relationships with upperclassmen role models, and mini-communities on campus is what AESOP is all about. I think it is an incredibly valuable part of orientation, and it doesn’t lose its magic being sandwiched between orientation events,” said Hartnett.

Hartnett noted that both schedules come with their own set of challenges. With the current schedule, leaders sometimes “run into situations where AESOPers have hooked up before or have formed cliques that translate to their trips.” However she also thinks that first-years not attending an AESOP trip in years past may have felt excluded.

“[With orientation first] If one is not going on AESOP, they still get to feel the same excitement and welcome as everyone else.”

For the sophomores and juniors involved in AESOP, a mid-orientation trip may not seem as unique, since it’s what they experienced themselves as first years. Mike Somma ’19, an AESOP leader this year for a hiking trip in Acadia National Park, noticed that some of the first years on his trip already knew each other, but didn’t run into any of the negative situations described by Hartnett.

“Two girls on the trip were both on the cross country team and they were definitely friends. It didn’t really affect the group dynamic at all though.”

According to the Bates College website, AESOP has been around for over thirty years. It is currently the only student-run, outdoor orientation program in the country. The program offers trips for incoming first years of all experience levels in the outdoors to locations across Maine and New Hampshire. Trip activities vary widely, from yoga and community service, to backpacking, rock climbing, and kayaking.

While there are certainly pros and cons to both ways of scheduling, the importance of AESOP trips is not in doubt. Whether hiking the Appalachian Trail, kayaking the coast, or doing community service around Lewiston, incoming first-years have been treated to some of their first Bates memories on AESOP trips. Though the program has gone through changes since the class of 2018 first stepped on campus, it remains a vital part of the Bates experience.

 

Walter Washington ‘19 on the Importance of Being a Well-Rounded Student-Athlete

Walter Washington ’19 wears many hats.  On top of a full slate of classes and being Student Body President, he sings in an a cappella group, works a job, and is a member of the football team. With this much on his plate, managing time effectively becomes very important.

“Even if I have a very busy day, I will take 20 to 30 minutes… I’m going to do something that takes all the pressure away. That way when I get to whatever else that’s time consuming or busy that I have to do, I’m at my best,” he says. By allowing himself to take some time for himself, he always manages to stay on top of the full schedule in front of him.

One of the largest commitments is playing football, with time taken for games, travel, practices, and more. Despite this, Walter finds these dual roles beneficial to his jobs on campus.

“I have a hold on a lot of different communities, which I thought would be great for a president to have in order to advocate for everyone’s desires,” he says. The ability to hear from various groups of students frequently gives him a chance to see how a majority of students at Bates are feeling about things, instead of being limited to a much smaller pool.

More specifically, he feels that he can speak effectively with people on the athletics side better than someone without a connection to that aspect of the Bates community.

“Part of being in those different communities is it gives you different perspectives that allows you to advocate and interpret everyone’s needs in the proper way,” Walter says. He gave an example of understanding the need for new equipment. He knows what is needed because he has used the equipment and lived the experience, whereas someone that has not had that role with Bates athletics cannot understand what goes on to the same extent.

This also extends to his ability to sympathize with student-athletes.

“I don’t know if a football player has ever been Student Body President. Football players, no matter where you go, are going to get sort of written off as meatheads, but we’re at one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country,” he explains. “We got in here for a reason, not just because we can play sports.” Not only is Walter proving this to be true through his many roles on campus outside of athletics, he can also make sure not to let that perception influence his thinking as he operates as president.

Walter’s many roles speak volumes about his character. He cites wanting to make his parents proud as the reason for pursuing all that he does at Bates.

Being a Division III football player also highlights his mentality about his college experience and beyond.

“If you’re playing DIII football it has to tell you something about your character, right? Because you’re not doing this for any other sort of glorification, you’re doing this because you love the game of football. To compete for no other reason than just to compete is something that speaks largely to an individual’s character,” he explains. Clearly driven to compete and be the best he can be, Walter has utilized athletics, student government, and academics to achieve these goals.

Ultimately, Walter will have an important role in both sides of the Bates experience this year, as a football player and a student. He does not think that these things are separate entities, however.  He knows that the solution to bringing the two together is simple, saying, “great football players being great individuals and great students.”

As Bates football comes off a tough week one loss to Amherst, Walter will take the field with the Bobcats on September 23rd at 1 p.m. for the home opener against Trinity.

Washington ‘19 delivers speech at convocation. PHYLLIS GRABER JENSEN/BATES COLLEGE

Washington ‘19 delivers speech at convocation. PHYLLIS GRABER JENSEN/BATES COLLEGE

What You Need to Know About Lewiston Police and Bates Campus Security

For years, Bates College has allowed students in their senior year to live off-campus, renting houses from local landlords. Most of these houses are situated very close to campus on streets like: College Street, White Street, Elm Street, Davis Street, and Mountain Avenue. Unfortunately, relations between these off campus residents and their neighbors, lifelong residents of Lewiston, have not always been companionable.

On August 24, Dean Carl Steidel and Mr. Paul Menice, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Interim Director of Security and Campus Safety, respectively, sent a letter to the student body outlining these concerns and prospects, including a call for “active leadership and engagement on the part of students living off campus” to ameliorate disruptive behavior.

On Tuesday, September 5, the City Council voted 5-1 to institute an overnight winter parking ban on residential neighborhoods surrounding Bates campus. Going into effect within a month, the ban will forbid parking from the hours of 11 p.m. – 6 a.m. on virtually all streets connected to Bates College (Central Ave., Davis St., Vale St., Bardwell St., etc). According to an article published in The Sun Journal on September 5, 2017 written by Andrew Rice, the ban may be a tactic to stop students from blocking driveways and intersections, as well as to minimize the amount of students hanging around off-campus; thus preventing parties from growing out of control.

In an interview, Dean Steidel said “over the past couple months and really towards the end of the last academic year, the concerns from our neighbors in the surrounding community have increased. Many concerns related to noise, parking, trash issues, and some concerned for their safety at different times.” These strong worries were the final straw that made the community say something had to change.

The Lewiston Police Department (LPD) is giving the apprehensions of residents, and in conjunction with the Bates administration, much consideration. Officer Charlie Weaver works for the community resource team of LPD, primarily focusing on outreach and education in regards to police work and response. This summer he was asked by the Chief of Police, Brian O’Malley, to take the lead on outreach to the off campus students at Bates. According to Weaver, “what we have done is try to open up the communication between the police response, students, security, and the administration.”

The major change that students are seeing on campus is a result of a change in the LPD’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). In previous years, when a noise complaint was called in to the LPD 911 dispatch switchboard, it was rerouted to Bates Campus Security and they would be the ones to respond to the first call, not the police. If the disturbance persisted and another call was placed, then the police would have showed up at the residence. At that point, the officer would issue a warning to the hosts and be on their way. If a third complaint was placed and a police unit had to go to the same residence, the individual throwing the party would be charged with disorderly conduct. The police officer could give a summons or arrest the person in question because is a Class E crime.

But that protocol changed this year. Weaver notes, “the SOP now is, instead of having Bates respond to that first complaint, we respond. If it is a legitimate complaint and the officer sees it is a legitimate complaint, the noise level or disturbance is completely unreasonable, based on objective standpoint, that officer on the first call would give the disorderly warning. If the behavior didn’t change, noise levels didn’t change and we had to go back, that is when we would charge disorderly conduct. What we have eliminated now is the ‘freebee’ in the beginning and made it an immediate police response for anything off campus.” Bates Security will still show up when the police do, but the police now have the right to start the warning process on the first infraction rather than the second.

For clarity, when “off campus houses” are mentioned that refers to the residences where Bates students rent directly from a third-party landlord. For the college owned houses like those on Frye Street and some on College, Wood, etcetera, the police still have jurisdiction over the public streets, but not inside the specific houses. Weaver explains, “Frye Street is still a public street, it is maintained by the city so it is not privately owned and exclusive to Bates. We still have to enforce local and state laws on Frye Street as they apply to whatever the case may be.”

Right now the City Council is working on two new ordinances that could affect the current situation. One is a noise ordinance which breaks down and specifies what it exactly means to have unreasonable noise levels and behaviors. The second is called the “Nuisance Party” ordinance which states that if there is a substantiated claim of a large noise dispute, the police would be in touch with both the resident and the landlord to figure out a solution. Ordinances are civil infractions, while disorderly conduct is a criminal infraction; both are enforced by the police.

Weaver reminds us that “ordinances are not arrestable offenses. They are the equivalent of a traffic ticket. Essentially instead of arresting like you would a disorderly conduct, you issue a summons which typically has a fine of some sort…Here, if a student is charged with a city ordinance, no crime goes on their record. It’s the equivalent of going 40 miles per hour in a 25 zone. So it’s a civil citation which is still going to be effective in ending the problem but the party responsible is not going to have a crime on their record, which I find is a little more reasonable for a college student.” This new idea was modeled after the University of Massachusetts, Amherst when it had similar complaints of noise disturbances and the tactic was found to be highly effective. These are still in the workshop phase here in Lewiston and it is unclear when City Council will present them for a vote.

The first weekend of the school year, September 8-10, a total of thirteen citations were given. Eleven of those were for underage drinking: minors consuming and possessing liquor. All of these were given on public streets. The other two citations were for furnishing (giving or selling alcohol to a minor). All of these citations were also given by police officers in full uniform. According to LPD’s records, there were no plain-clothed units in the Bates area that weekend conducting liquor enforcement. There were, however, unmarked cruisers in the area, with uniformed police officers. But there can be plain-clothed police officers in the future traversing what the LPD refers to as “The Bates Neighborhood.”

Officers can also address the evident possession of alcohol in public. “If [the police] see someone walking down the street with a beer in their hand, they are going to address that individual; it’s illegal to drink in public…There are occasions when they address the drinking in public but the individual was twenty-one or older so they simply had them pour out the drink and continue on their way with a warning not to drink in public. But if they are underage, now you have a violation here,” Weaver states. Visit https://www.aclumaine.org/en/Know-Your-Rights for a more comprehensive legal look at what your rights are living in Maine.

During July of this summer, headlines were made in The Sun Journal when a large of group of Lewiston residents, police officers, landlords, and Mayor Robert MacDonald met in Pettengill Hall on Bates campus to discuss their frustration with off-campus parties. Because this meeting was held during the summer months, most students were not on campus and therefore could not participate in the meeting. Dean Steidel remarked that having another meeting similar to the aforementioned one is “not a bad idea, it is something we can think about and something I can pass up to Josh [McIntosh, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students] for him to think about as well. It seems as if this is starting to reverberate past just the students who are living off campus and so I think we want to be as open and transparent as possible with what’s going on. What we are trying to do is help.”

On September 8, Dean McIntosh and Dean Steidel sent an email to the student body outlining the new rules regarding off-campus housing and the party environment. They reiterated that there are spaces on campus optimal for throwing parties and that peaceful relations between the college and city can only happen “if students take personal responsibility for limiting the extremes of behavior that are the main source of concern.”

Mr. Menice noted that on the annual 80s theme dance, held on September 16, “it seems in comparison with previous years, this was excellent. Student behavior and that type of thing went really well. Bates EMS only transported two students.” It may seem that the uptick in police presence around Bates campus is causing a noticeable change from previous years.

Dean Steidel also noted that the administration “wants students to have a positive experience on campus. We want students to be able to initiate events, to have a fun, safe, responsible time on campus.”

For now as the year begins, we must wait and see how events unfold.

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Students can expect to see swifter punishments for off-campus parties. JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT

 

Are Bates Students Too Respectable?

On September 6, 2017, I made my way to the Office of Intercultural Education for a Welcome Back Event that was being hosted in the space. I’m not sure I can say I knew what to expect, but, at the very least, I predicted it would be a strange environment.

After all, President Spencer, towards whom students have held innumerable public and private complaints recently and over the years, was speaking — and, in a space where students of color, first generation, international, and LGBTQ+ students yearn to make feel safe and comfortable for them.

Following the assault on a male student of color by a security officer at the end of the last academic year, students formed a coalition for racial justice called Bates+Who?, a riff on Bates’ capital campaign called Bates+You, which sought to raise $300 million dollars for the college. One of their primary demands after the assault directly sought “honesty from President Spencer.” They claimed that “President Clayton Spencer’s email response [following the assault] concealed the reality that Bates Security used excessive force during this incident” and that she has a duty to “notify all members of the Bates community (i.e. including alumni and parents) of this event and the role that racism played.” Of course, this did not happen. Instead, Bates formed two working groups that statedly sought to examine and improve “how Security frames and carries out its interactions with students.”

So, I fumbled into the event with my head down, my mind swirling with theory and emotions. After just leaving a meeting with my professor during which we discussed Asian American assimilation and anti-Black racism, respectability politics — attempts by members of marginalized groups to demonstrate their alignment with socially acceptable ways of behaving rather than assertively challenging structural problems like racism — was on my mind.

I lifted my head to greet some friends who were distractedly goofing around with each other while President Spencer spoke. Looking around, I saw some members of the audience nodding in agreement and others staring at the President behind a Bates engraved podium. The majority of the audience were people of color, though there were a number of white folks present as well.

What surprised me most in the first few minutes that I was at the event was that, after Bates+Who? and a long summer, nobody said a word while President Spencer went on about her openness to discussions with students, and while she referred to the current global political climate as “interesting” and then comparing it to a slow car crash. Nobody dared to say, “what about our demands?” None of us — nobody in the room — spoke up.

After the event, while the Bates photographer swirled around the room photographing students and staff who were speaking with one another — an act which many students have claimed to be attempts at demonstrating token diversity — everybody went on as usual. Speaking, laughing, and engaging eagerly with one another.

And let me be clear. I’m not insinuating that the onus for disruption in this instance should have been on the people of color present. If people of color were to rise up every time a white person at a PWI (predominantly white institution) like Bates said something slightly racist, we would be … very much risen. It’s really not worth it in every instance.

But I think all students, myself included, can do a good deal of thinking around whether this culture of Lingua Franca type discussions, continued tokenizations, and microaggressions of that nature are bearable, and what we can do to resist them (within our emotional capacities) to produce tangible change for more marginalized people on this campus.

 

Initial Impressions

I was walking across campus, newly picked-up key in hand, trying to find my dorm, when it hit me: this essentially foreign place is my home now. I knew nobody, and yet, I was surrounded by my new family. This is how I saw Bates, but each student had a different first experience as they arrived on campus so naturally, everyone’s impressions are different.

Over the next week of orientation, I would be bombarded with massive amounts of information that told me all about strategies to succeed in the classroom and what to do in a crisis, but nothing about the people that make up this tight-knit community that everyone talks about. And yet, when I asked multiple first-year students’ for their initial impression of Bates, they all immediately spoke of the people. Amelia Keleher, a student from New Mexico said, “Super friendly and interesting people. A little overwhelming but mostly seemed like people were fun, yet could be serious.” The fact that she was able to see past the academic prestige, the sports teams, and the beautiful campus and just see the people when she looked around for the first time says a lot about the people she was looking at, but even more about her. It appears to me that Bates is made up of people just like this; that see people for who they really are and embrace the differences that exist between them.

The first time I saw the true Bates, was when I walked into Commons the first day after orientation ended. Now, I thought it was crowded when only the first-years were there, but all of a sudden, there were four times as many people and it was completely overwhelming, to say the least. I felt like a little kid that had been thrown in a pool and told to swim. At first I didn’t know what to do, but after a few seconds of flailing about, I began to look around and see old friends reconnecting and new friendships forming. I saw people connecting and for a second, it didn’t seem so foreign anymore.

Sleeping outside in thirty-five degree weather on the other hand, was completely foreign. I was just starting to feel comfortable when I was pulled off the Bates campus and thrust into the wild, which I think would make almost everyone uncomfortable. I guess that’s the point though, to take us out of our comfort zone, and force us to adapt. Since returning from AESOP, I realized that the whole experience is not all that different from starting college. It was hard and scary, but as each adventure was tackled, I became closer and closer to my group, just as I have with my fellow classmates. According to first-year Ben Goldberg, “AESOP was a fantastic opportunity for a break from all the stress that came with orientation, and served to give me a bit of a better look into the type of people who would be my classmates.” The trip put things in perspective regarding my new living situation. Trust me, after climbing up the steep, rocky face of a mountain, the walk up the million stairs to the third floor of Hathorn Hall doesn’t seem as daunting. Rachel Deptula said, “I was kind of intimidated by the few upperclassmen that were on campus when we got here but AESOP definitely helped with that. It affirmed my impression of Bates being a welcoming place, while also showing me that everyone here is pretty down-to-earth and just able to be themselves, which is super comforting.” So yes, starting college is still scary, but the physical challenges of starting college seem lesser after returning from AESOP and, more importantly, the emotional and social anxieties that come along with being the new kids on campus don’t appear as impossible to tackle.

 

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