The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: December 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

The Launch of them

Condé Nast. Have you heard that name? Do you know what it is? My first association was with my hometown, because it is the travel magazine that rated it the number one city in the United States. I always thought they were a bit rubbish and irrelevant for that, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love my city for what I’ve made of it. But number one in the country? For the birthplace of the Civil War and current gentrification hub? Well, it’s re-branded as a quaint and cosmopolitan city with loads of history™. So, eh, maybe not.

But then I was doing some digging into a new platform that I had seen advertised on social media called them. them is a mission-driven next-generation community platform that centers LGBTQ people. And they actually have some people of color featured, including Tyler Ford, agender social media personality, and Alok Vaid-Menon, non-binary performance artist and self-proclaimed fashionist@! I find this pretty wild that Condé Nast, a well-known mass media company, has launched this project. them is actually the first project of Condé Nast’s new incubator that, according to their website, was “created to develop new brands and businesses for the company’s consumer audience and advertising partners alike” and “designed to capture and mobilize the innovation.”

The company is specifically targeting “the most influential demographic – Gen Z,” claiming that, actually, “more than half of Gen Z identifies as queer.” The website then states that equality is a “high priority for the population.” So, obviously, Condé Nast is appealing to a market and to specific consumers who they claim have influence on culture (minds). They’re looking ahead to think about what the next relevant cultural matter is in order for them to capitalize on it. But, also, they’re actually giving platforms to LGBTQ and queer and trans people, some of whom are of color.

This is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are so many LGBTQ political and cultural platforms in the United States that are completely exclusionary or closed-off to people of color, and especially to trans people of color. In my own state, the organization that I was working for that sought to financially support queer and trans people of color (POC) leadership was greatly overshadowed by the organization, Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). AFFA pulled some moves over the years that made it pretty clear that they weren’t actually down to commit to the fight for queer and trans people of color, especially those who are not cisgender (cis) and cis presenting. Above them is Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national organization that has historically been problematic and is pretty much a big red X for a large swath of queer and trans people of color for that reason. An LGBTQ space that actually respects the voices and wallets of people of color is much needed. I hope that them can rise up to the challenge.

Secondly, apart from actually including and hopefully respecting people of color as members of their platform, them has the potential to influence culture especially in terms of representation. If greater numbers of people have access to platforms like them on the internet, they might feel a little less alone with their identity or expression. They might feel a little more a part of a larger community, but one that doesn’t force assimilation into white culture and beauty standards for acceptance.

Shane Bouchard for Mayor

The Bates Republicans are proud to endorse Shane Bouchard ahead of Lewiston’s mayoral runoff on December 12. We — as conservatives, Lewiston residents, and Americans — are fortunate to have a man of Mr. Bouchard’s experience, unwavering commitment, and exemplary integrity working towards a better future of the city our community calls home.

Shane Bouchard is a dedicated husband, father, businessman, and public servant. A sixth-generation native of Lewiston, Bouchard is a graduate of Dirigo High School and Central Maine Community College. Owners of Bouchard Lawncare & Landscaping and Maine Home Recreation — two highly successful local enterprises — Shane and his wife, Allison, recently signed a lease to expand operations. Mr. Bouchard proudly represents Ward Four at the Lewiston City Council, putting his managerial acumen and municipal government know-how to living out the responsibility of being the closest government official to citizens’ wallets. In these times of bitter partisanship across our country, Bouchard aspires to the office of mayor to serve all residents regardless of ideology and to continue giving back to his hometown in “a better, more profound way.” Although we have Mr. Bouchard’s back for many reasons, it is primarily his succinct, well-thought-out positions on the most pressing issues facing Lewiston that afford us faith in his candidacy.

Repairing the Image of Lewiston: According to FBI data put together by Bangor Daily News, Lewiston is one of Maine’s safest cities — an especially impressive standing given that we are the state’s second largest metropolitan area. As mayor, Mr. Bouchard will work to dispel false stereotypes taking a toll on the city’s investment and social climate. At the same time, he will cooperate with local and state law enforcement agencies to further improve public safety. Mr. Bouchard also pledges to visit trade shows across the country at his own expense to promote “our city and the assets we have to offer.”

Rebuilding and Renewing Infrastructure: A successful businessman, Mr. Bouchard understands better than anyone that safe, modern, and aesthetically pleasing infrastructure is the key to fostering tourism and encouraging young people to make Lewiston their home. Bouchard plans to take advantage of the vast space across Lewiston to catalyze change, focusing on the untapped potential of Exit 80 and Riverfront Island. While inspired by the recently revitalized Lisbon Street, Mr. Bouchard thinks there is still work to be done with upper levels of the buildings and façade grants. Bouchard plans to invest in shoring up single-family housing and creating new office and commercial spaces by revisiting zoning laws. As someone who has contributed to the creation of a recycling committee, Mr. Bouchard is in a unique position to ensure that our city becomes more environmentally friendly and its residents — particularly inner-city folks — lead more sustainable lifestyles.

Combating Opioid Epidemic: As a city amidst America’s calamitous addiction crisis, we look to Mr. Bouchard’s innovative, out-of-box proposals for a potential remedy. Bouchard’s plan consists of beefing up cooperation with the police chief and examining zoning laws to locate counselling, treatment, and prevention facilities at locations where they can have the most impact.

Even more importantly, Mr. Bouchard pledges to revisit the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula to provide more funds to local non-profits specializing in tackling addiction. That is to say, Bouchard views highly adept agents within civil society as a vehicle of bringing about change.

Encouraging Economic Growth: At a time when there is no shortage of chatter around lowering the mill rate, Mr. Bouchard understands that the fastest and most practical way to lower the mill rate is through accelerating economic growth. Instead of pursuing the Lewiston-Auburn merger — which, according to the Sun Journal can cost as much as $5 million (although government efficiency fund might help, some of that money will inevitably have to come from the cities’ budgets) — Bouchard has his eyes set on ambitious projects such as port authority around the Lewiston-Auburn Airport, historic rail-trail through the city, and outdoor venue near Exit 80. These developments will, in turn, create a positive feedback loop: better infrastructure means more tourists and young professionals in Lewiston, which will further reinvigorate the city.

Shane Bouchard understands that local politics is a people, not a left or right, issue. In Mr. Bouchard, citizens of Lewiston will have an unrivaled champion both locally and in Augusta.

In Mr. Bouchard, our students will have a leader who believes in the potential of young people and an even bigger role for Bates in the city’s daily life.

On Closing the Political Loop

Though voting is not the only or most important political action, it often builds positive habits and allows for political action in the future.

It is no great secret that voter participation rates show that  “millennials” have the lowest voter turnout rate of any demographic. This statistic always has a biting irony as “millennials” both make up the largest potential voting block, as they do not actually vote much, and also usually will live the longest and thereby be the most affected by current policies. Yet, the interpretation of this fact varies significantly depending on who gets hold of the information. I am guilty of citing this as just “a historical characteristic of young voting blocks” in response to the critique of millennials as “privileged, out of touch, needy” and the like. Though I realize that people strategically levy critiques of young people as “irresponsible” or distant from “the real world” as a way to disarm serious social movements and thoughts from the “newfangled youth” that disrupt their perspectives.

As I am obviously biased in my perspective on this issue, I think part of the way of disrupting this unnecessary chasm between age groups requires serious engagement in the political system. However, this only indicates a singular type of change that would occur if millennials more actively engaged in political system, systems expressly political and not. To help achieve this end, I will discuss a few different aspects of the problem, that often go under discussed within the whole “young voters don’t vote much” narrative and it is an “ahistorical unsolvable problem.”

Supposedly one of the largest reasons why millennials do not engage with political systems is because they live “sheltered life styles.” While this criticism usually assumes a default cisheterosexual white man or woman, or just a wealthy person, it often completely disregards the types of privileges associated with being in the work force. Though having a sustained job requires a type of focus and attention and responsibility different from being a young student, it provides a powerful security distant from student life. Many students and young people avoid participating in politics because the pressures of trying to figure their life out and general uncertainty about the future often cause anxiety that hinders political action. With a tenuous future, young students possess trepidation in action that does not immediately contribute to their future economic or social capital or perceived social wellbeing.

Older, more financially stable, folks do similarly, yet the relative costs of minor political acts like voting represents a far more minor sacrifice (especially as most have already developed job stability for much of the future) so more of them do it. This reflects but one of the structural barriers that often disincentivize young people from voting, outside of the procedures and impacts of voting.

Beyond structural barriers, people regularly perpetuate the myth that young people are not affected by many economic and socio political systems that they would vote on. For example, young students who do not yet have a primary job, are asked how they could vote on policies that increase taxes or other laws that supposedly do not directly impact them. Yet, this mythos implies in the first place that all voters vote on policies that have immediate influences on them.

I roll my eyes when I hear this argument from cishet people who are older than me, forgetting that in the ’80s in a California referendum queer people were voted to be rounded up into concentration camps. In the context of local elections, like Lewiston, students are often portrayed as foreign or distant from the needs and ideas of a town.

Though this is true to some extent, this idea reifies the alienation and division that it supposedly  points out. These categories undermine and substantiate the divisive and unproductive rhetoric of locals and students that disregards any connection, shared experience, or common goal between townsperson and student.

Separations like these often cause great pains, and often times they leave metaphorical scars on our subconscious. Though often daunting gaps to close, simple, attainable actions like voting often lead to positive future participation in communal spaces.

With that said, I encourage anyone eligible to vote to consider doing so in the run-off election between Ben Chin and Shane Bouchard.

The Royal Engagement

On Monday, November 27, Prince Harry announced his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle. After noting the fact that Harry designed the engagement ring himself and even asked his fiancè’s parents for their blessing, it is important to understand what their engagement means in the larger socio-political context. Markle best known for her role as Rachel from the hit-series Suits, will become the first “biracial” member of the British monarchy and only the second American to join the royal family.

Wallis Simpson was the first American to marry into the monarchy. However, the union was so controversial that King Edward VIII decided to give up his throne in order to ensure his ability to marry her. After learning that Harry has been coaching Meghan on how to act “royally,” many citizens noted that American manners are different from British manners and being royalty comes with an entirely different handbook.

Aside from just being an American citizen, Markle presents another challenge to the traditional British ideal as she identifies as a biracial woman. Reflecting in an essay for Elle that as a child, when pressured to check the Caucasian box on the census, she could not and instead chose not to fill out any box. The idea of “passing” has long plagued American society, as people of color are encouraged to deny part of their cultural history and experience to be fully accepted into society.

According to studies and reports, the British culture and media in general tend to operate similarly to the antiquated American thought that even “a drop of black blood” qualifies someone as being entirely black. It is said that the British media do not make the distinction between biracial and black.

Although Markle has already come forward and criticized the media for its focus on her race and ethnicity, many British citizens believe that she will be coached to deny her blackness. Kehinde Andrews, a sociology professor at Birmingham City University, remarked, “she won’t be allowed to be a black princess. The only way she can be accepted is to pass for white.” Even though the media and many theorists seem to perceive Markle’s racial identity as problematic, reports show that the majority of British citizens seem to be unphased by their soon-to-be duchess. It will be interesting to follow the development of this, as Markle has been described as “an independent career woman,” and has been outspoken about her gender and racial identity in the past.

After reading countless articles leading up to the announcement and after the official word was given, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy.

I was left wondering, how are we as a society still stuck at this crossroads? While Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry is a sign of progress, it also draws out trolls and highlights the fact that not enough attention has been given to the ways in which our societal and governmental institutions contribute to the maintenance of white supremacy. Why has it taken so long for non-binary conforming ethnic identities to be added to a government survey, such as the census? How can we support and encourage platforms that allow people the space and freedom to understand and live out their identity?

Even while writing this I am overcome by the privileges I am afforded. We must work to identify, understand, and deconstruct privileges so that one day my delusions of grandeur may actually be realized.

We Are More than Angry Black Kids, but We Are Still Angry

This title is based off of a Concerned Students of Color meeting during my sophomore year. If I remember correctly it was towards the end of the year after we had already started organizing and had multiple meetings with administration already. This meeting was planning for future action, and talking about how people were perceiving us was a part of this meeting. What people thought of us was important for future contexts when reaching out to other groups and individuals to join our organizing.

I said at one point something along the lines of “so we can be seen as more than angry and hungry black kids.” I said all this in a quite shrill high-pitched voice as well expressing the frustration of this perception as it is a common trope for many African-Americans to have to deal with when it comes to the injustices of institutional racism. Then, Jalen Baker ’16, graduating senior at the time, said in response, “but we are angry. And we are hungry.”

His tone was a solemn statement of truth. And when I look back on this I know now what I will learn after that moment; worrying about the respectability politics and people’s perception of black kids is not going to do anything. It’s because, no matter what, if you play the game of the system or you are all the way against it, it’s hard getting treated and supported like you should have in the first place.

In the last article, I talked about what angry black kids could accomplish and really this one is about why some of us, particularly us black kids and other minorities, are angry in the first place, specifically at Bates.

We are angry because we get here in our relative excitement for being a first year at college. Coming to a college expecting that it lives up to its illustrious mission statement, which includes the commitment to diversity and inclusion and emancipating liberal arts. Yet, the institution fails continuously and we are left disillusioned by experience.

We have experiences of having to advocate for ourselves on topics ranging from: help with meals over break, wages, diversity in faculty and curriculum. We repeatedly express our situations just to have the slow-moving institution tell us “it takes time.”

Times like when we expressed issues in the beginning of the last academic year about security, to have one of us abused and handcuffed by the end of the year by the same security officers that we complained about.

You are left wondering if our radical founder Oren B. Cheney would disapprove of the path Bates had taken, and if Benjamin Mays, class of 1920 would be disappointed to know that a black male student was abused by authority figures in a building named after him, even though he worked hard in the civil rights era to prevent this very type of situation.

Feeling rage that we were not listened to, nor heard in time to help make progress to end students of color suffering on campus. Wondering if we should have even taken the time to do all of this organizing at all, and if our efforts will even make a difference in the long run.

So whenever you see a student of color frustrated, upset, “making noise”, disgruntled, or “all up in our feelings,” just know that we are tired, we are hungry, and we are angry.

Christmas Dinner Hosted by BCF Was Full of Joy, Food, and Fun

This past Saturday evening, the Bates Christian Fellowship (BCF) hosted a Christmas Dinner to celebrate the holiday season with the Bates community. The event was festive, heartwarming, relaxed, and welcoming. Hosted in the Benjamin Mays Center, the space was cozy and warm as any Christmas dinner should be. With a combination of delicious food, wonderful entertainment, and friends all around, BCF provided a great night for all guests.

The evening started off with an informal review of the night’s program and a prayer, led by BCF co-president Brie Wilson ’18. The prayer was gracious and loving towards all in the room and the greater Bates community, and set aside a moment for the guests to reflect on the networks of people that exist in their lives. Next, a bible reading was given by another BCF member before dinner started. The thoughtful reading segued the guests from contemplation into dinner.

With over 75 attendees, there was an abundance of delicious food to go around. Catered by DaVinci’s, the Italian buffet-style meal provided the perfect kind of comfort food that goes along with a holiday dinner. As guests ate, the room was filled with cheerful chatter and bible readings were shared intermittently throughout the meal. Each reading highlighted a theme important within the Christian community and the holiday of Christmas. The readings also provided a platform for reflection as well as reminders of the historical and religious context of Christmas.

Not only were students in attendance, but professors and other staff and faculty members also filled the room. BCF members, non-members, and many students of other faiths and beliefs mixed together to celebrate the holiday season. Additionally, some Lewiston and Auburn community members were in attendance.

BCF connects students with families in town, and some of these families joined students for a dinner to celebrate the holiday season. The dinner acted as a special opportunity for BCF members to spend time with both their Bates friends and these connected families within the same setting. The meal highlighted the important role of the greater Lewiston-Auburn community with BCF and their impact on members of the club.

Danielle Fournier ’18, a co-president of BCF, said the dinner is “the annual gathering of all of the people who make Bates Christian Fellowship happen throughout the year. It is a joyful event and one of my favorite nights of the year at Bates.”

After dinner, a dessert provided by the families was served to all guests as the Gospelaires performed. Their beautiful harmonies fit perfectly with the tone of the event and gave the room a classic holiday feel. They sang gospel songs about being grateful for the life that they have in relation to Christianity; these were particularly relevant due to the time of year and the birth of Jesus.

Upon a quick observation, it was clear that all of the attendees were full of joy resultant from spending time with friends and family. Even in this busy time of the semester, with finals coming up and stress levels elevated, the Christmas dinner provided a calm space that was perfect for celebrating the holiday season here at Bates. I look forward to many more relaxing and thoughtful Christmas Dinners with BCF and the L/A community in the years to come.

DC Can’t Touch Marvel

I’m going to say something polarizing: Marvel is better than DC. Now, I’m not unbiased in this regard. I come from a family of proud Marvel watchers (we have been known to miss exits on the highway due to deep discussions about the Marvel universe). That being said, we obviously had to go see the new Justice League movie over Thanksgiving break, just to make sure that Marvel was still top dog.

Spoilers ahead, so if you read on and haven’t seen the movies mentioned below do so at your own peril.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past nine years, you know that Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been hitting it big time with the super hero movies (aside from the drastic Fantastic Four remake). MCU has produced a total of sixteen films, starting in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. According to Forbes MCU has earned $12 billion, while Harry Potter earned $7.7 billion.

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) started trying to compete with MCU in 2013 with the release of Man of Steel, a Superman reboot attempt. This movie organization has only released four other superhero movies since then. If I’m being honest, the Superman and Batman vs. Superman movies were kind of a flop. They boasted typical story lines and broody actors.

So, what does Marvel have that DC doesn’t? On the surface level, both the Justice League and Avengers teams look pretty similar – they are mostly comprised of white, good looking men and have the token black and female characters to round out the teams.

But now the Avengers team is expanded. There are two additions of African American actors: Anthony Mackie plays Sam Wilson/Falcon while newly introduced Chadwich Boseman plays T’Challa/Black Panther (whose movie will be coming out in 2018) while Samuel J. Jackson’s Nick Furry has left the franchise. In addition to Scarlett Johansson who plays Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen is a new addition to the team as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.

On the other hand, nearly the entire Justice League Team is white, good-looking men.  However, we do have Gal Gadot who plays Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Ezra Miller as the Barry Allen/the Flash who will also star as the first queer superhero in later films.

I believe that DCEU owes much of its success to the previously released Wonder Woman. In this respect, DC one-upped Marvel in making a movie that centered around a heroine rather than a hero. However, I wouldn’t exactly call this movie a completely feministic classic. Whenever we see Diana in her costume, she is always wearing that dang miniskirt and most of time accessorized with high heeled boots. Let me tell you, if I were fighting the Lord of the Underworld the last thing I would want to be wearing is a miniskirt. And most annoying, she only gets the strength to defeat the bad guy once her boyfriend, Steve, dies.  Really, a bad-a** Amazonian women only has inner strength once her man dies?  I’m unconvinced.

I’m not denying this movie is refreshing and a step in the right direction, but it does have a long way to go.

Justice League just still can’t quite measure up to its Marvel counterparts. As Shonda Rimes would say, everyone on the team is kind of “dark and twisty.” There are some attempts at comic relief, but they peter out rather quickly (but in Marvel, when Captain America makes an offhand remark about swearing, the writers carry that punchline through the entirety of Age of Ultron!).

People are looking for escapism in their movies and I don’t believe dark lighting and brooding men are the way to do it. Also, there’s a weird quasi-messianic bend towards Henry Cavill’s Superman highlighting that only he can truly save everyone from the bad guys. You are telling me that a woman who successfully fought off Hades can’t handle this other enemy god that shows up? Uh huh, sure.

Sorry, DC, you were just too late to the superhero party. Might as well pack up your toys and go home.

Ashlee Haze: Comedy and Personal Stories in the Benjamin Mays Center

VCS, often a music-exclusive space, hosted slam poet Ashlee Haze on November 30. Haze, a Chicago transplant currently living in Atlanta, has received several slam poetry honors since formally entering the scene as the Grand Prize Winner of V-103’s 2006 “Got Word” Youth Poetry Slam. She came to Bates as a stop along her 100+ city college tour of the U.S.

Haze opened her performance comfortably, introducing herself as a slam poet who discusses her experiences as a black, plus-size woman in today’s world. Wearing all black with electric pink hair, Haze’s strong personality was evident after spending her first seconds on the stage. She quickly jumped into introducing her first explanatory vignette and its associated poem.

This first vignette and poem shared her reaction to the release of the film The Help. Several prominent film critics decried the film’s depiction of black women in the 1960s, however, Haze saw accurate portrayals of her aunt and grandmother in the maids and housekeepers presented in the film. “I find this film to be mildly nostalgic,” said Haze, disagreeing with reviewers’ opinions on the “bad image” of the black maid. The poem itself addressed Haze’s opinion and questioned why critics thought The Help presented a “bad image” if it was an accurate image.

Her next set of vignettes revolved around the theme “Hexes on my Exes” and included the poem “Ode to F*ckboi.” Haze found herself faced with the National Poetry Month prompt to write an ode, so she wrote the satirical “Ode to F*ckboi.” Before presenting the poem, Haze made sure all audience members were familiar with the term “f*ckboi” and gave us a few examples of such people. The poem itself was a critique of all aspects of a f*ckboi existence, such as using the utilities, internet, and resources of others without being held accountable. A hilarious ode, Haze appealed to the audience members’ experiences dealing with such lecherous existences as a person who would not be held nor hold themselves accountable for their actions.

Haze presented herself as a confident and happy woman, however, her poem “Faceless” addressed the path she took to achieve the self-acceptance she now has. In this poem, she describes her response to the microaggression “you have such a pretty face.” She argued that “when he complimented my face that isn’t what he meant;” the compliment highlighted how the rest of her physical appearance was not worthy of such praise.

In between vignettes, Haze built up a comedic rapport with the audience. As she transitioned to new poems, Haze talked to us about pop culture, about her childhood, and about the next poem. She asked us “either or” questions, where she would say two things and the audience would shout out their preference. For example, she asked “Skittles or M&Ms?” and the audience responded with their choice. As she jumped into her haikus, she explained that she would chant “5-7-5” then we chanted “5-7-5,” then she would jump into her haiku.  Because her haikus are so explicit, Haze didn’t need a long introductory vignette or quick anecdote; this call and response chant worked to prepare me for the 17 syllable poems to follow.

Through her powerful poetry and funny stories, I related to Haze; she articulated her version of the human condition well, and it resonated with me. Though many of her stories were not about my particular experience (I am a white medium-build female) I still felt included in what she had to share. I hope VCS continues to explore other genres outside of the indie and folk artists that often populate the Mays Center, because Ashlee Haze provided Bates students with an opportunity to enjoy a genre and hear a voice not often shared on campus.

The Marcy Plavin Fall Dance Concert: An Homàge to Our Roots

Every year, the Fall Dance Concert provides a glimpse into the place of dance in our college. This year’s Marcy Plavin Fall Dance Concert demonstrated the importance of this combination, inviting the community to reflect on works that expand the boundaries of dance as a discipline. During the opening, the artistic director for the show, Associate Professor and Director of Dance Rachel Boggia mentioned that the pieces were inspired by questions that emerged during the ’70s and ’80s, when dancers and choreographers applied a new creative eye to the methods of dance. Dedicated to Marcy Plavin, the founder of the Dance Program at Bates, the six pieces in the show took me on an emotional rollercoaster.

“Seed Awakenings on The Eve of Blue (study 2)” by Marlies Yearby was an overload of information. The piece reflected on GMOs and food sources in contemporary society. The piece combined movement, text, and live music on stage. While the piece is visually complex, the messages displayed and sung were morally simplistic by condemning all processed, industrialized food. The complexity of the politics and the very privilege that surrounds the act of selectively eating did not come across in as much depth as I would have expected. Regardless, I am glad that the piece inspired discussions and conversations about the politics of food access across campus, revealing the importance of interdisciplinary modicums to discuss multifaceted issues.

  Son of Gone Fishin’ Restaging Project” by the Trisha Brown Company brought me a feeling of nostalgia. The piece had a blue color palette complemented the diverse movements relationships that emerged across the stage. I experienced this piece as a surfacing of connections that grew in complexity and then were drawn back to simplicity with a marvelously done retrograde. As a beginner dancer, seeing the retrograde section of the dance was an incredible experience – the technically challenging movement was nearly flawless, and I kept engaged by searching for the retrograde portions of the movement.

“Foray Forêt Restaging Project” by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, performed by Riley Hopkins ’18, was one of the highlights of my night. Hopkins danced this physically and intellectually challenging solo as the performance component for his senior thesis in Dance. “My thesis is exploring ‘performance as discovery’ as in discovering the logic of the movement while I’m actually doing it,” Hopkins explained. He also told me that the solo was made around the idea of fluidity and momentum, and their interruption.

On my notebook, the words “softness” and “sensibility” stand out. I had already seen Hopkins perform a number of times, but this piece was unlike any else that I had seen by him. “It was really interesting to learn because it wasn’t made for my body but I had to learn how to adapt to it and embody the movement for a live performance,” he told me. The solo, adapted from a similar piece in the late ’80s, carries some of the key characteristics of Trisha Brown’s postmodern choreography such as the emphasis on the creation process.

“Improvisation,” presented by the Dance 270I class, cracked up the audience multiple times. The confidence of the performers and variation in the movement are beautiful and surprising; the performance was different every night.

“Turning and Other Everyday Objects” by Vanessa Justice demonstrated a few key ideas of postmodern dance, such as everyday movement and abstraction of themes. During the piece, some performers broke the fourth wall and sat in front of the stage, completing everyday activities in slow motion. Other dancers performed a series of quick and visually complex movements, creating a juxtaposition between the upstage and downstage dance qualities. I interpreted everything in this piece as historic; Justice’s piece deftly demonstrated the postmodern movement of the ’70s and ’80s.

“Passing” by Rachel Boggia and Carol Dilley was a thoughtful ending to the concert. Specifically dedicated to Plavin, this piece involves dancers imitating the portrait of Plavin outside the dance studio in Merrill gymnasium. The packed stage full of performers and colors created unique geometric shapes that entwined emotion and movement together. Sometimes, dance conveys messages that would have been impossible to express with words; only those who saw the fluidity of the performers’ movements and their relationship with time can understand the significance of “Passing.”

The combination of critical thinking, dance history, and movement was powerfully present at the Marcy Plavin Fall Dance Concert; it was a fitting homàge to the woman who created the Bates College dance program.

Cook ’18 Earns All-America Honors To Cap Off Her Last XC Season

December is the time of year when all Fall courses come to a close, capped off with a daunting finals week. A never ending string of exams, papers, and group projects quickly bombard students as deadlines lurk around the corner.

Imagine if during the stress of tackling all of the end of semester assessments, a group member backed out of a project last minute or a professor changed the length of a paper to double what it was supposed to be.

That immediate and overwhelming feeling of shock is what senior captain of the women’s cross country team, Katherine Cook ’18, experienced as she travelled to Elsah, Illinois without her teammates on November 19 to compete at the NCAA DIII Championships.

Cook finished fourth at the NCAA Regional Championship meet in Gorham, Maine, earning her an automatic bid to the national championships. Even though the team finished fifth overall, a place that has sent cross country teams to NCAAs multiple times in years past, they did not earn a nationals bid and what was one of their most successful seasons to date came to a surprising and abrupt finish.

Cook faced this upset in the best possible way, representing Bates in Elsah and placing 16th overall to earn her first-career All-America honors. Her impressive finish was the fifth time in Bates history that a woman has earned the title of All-America.

I, a teammate of Cook’s, had the opportunity to interview her about her NCAA experience.

Sarah Rothmann (SR): What was it like traveling alone after you found out that the team did not also get an NCAA bid? How did that shocking moment influence your training for nationals?

Katherine Cook (KC): I felt really sad about the team not being there with me because I knew that they 100 percent should have been there. The whole time I felt this gaping absence and I did not really know what to think. The days leading up to the race I was just so anxious. I could not relax at all because I felt all this pressure, not that Jay put on me, but pressure I put on myself because it was weird doing this whole big trip just for me to run and it was all somehow coming to some kind of climax that I did not feel prepared for. The lack of preparation was probably just a feeling of anxiety and loneliness. That being said, Coach Jay and I did get to spend some good time together and she was great. It was just my own anxiety and feeling like I wanted to have the team with me.

SR: The cross country team travelled to Saratoga, New York in October, but since then all of the meets have been in Maine. What was it like going from taking a bus to a meet at most 45 minutes away to flying on a plane to a meet several hours away?

KC: The travel was actually quick and pretty easy. We left at five in the morning on Thursday November 16. It was very smooth on the way over. We ran into my family on the way over and some of the other teams on the way out. I recognized RPI’s men’s team because they were wearing their uniforms and had their hair dyed bright orange which was funny and comforting. That all being said, the planes were small and there was horrible turbulence! At one point I thought I was going to die! It was really scary but we got there. On Thursday we arrived at the hotel and went to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. All of the days kind of merged together because there was so much going on.

SR: How did you approach warming up and racing all by yourself?

KC: That part was scary. On Friday I previewed and ran the course. It was a really nice course: two loops with hills and a cornfield. My race anxiety actually started on Wednesday before we left so after two day of feeling so worried and panicked I ran in silence to try and relax. The day of the race we got there kind of late so I had to warm up basically 15 minutes after arriving and it was terrifying. I felt rushed and kind of unprepared. The hardest part of being alone on race day is the warm up and the drills because you are left to judge that on your own and to be fully ready by the time the gun goes off. But I just remembered that everyone was doing the same thing so I spewed off of other teams and my sister. My sister actually came into the field and did some drills with me. She could tell that I was about to jump out of my skin so she just did all that with me and acted as my little support. The race was also very cold and fast. It was windy, 40 degrees, drizzly and felt like a wind tunnel. I definitely felt like I was racing against the weather. However, by the time that the race started I started to feel more in my element and snapped out of the anxiety right in time.

SR: You keep on mentioning that you felt both pressured and nervous. How did you snap out of your anxiety and channel your confidence to compete? Can you remember any specific thoughts that went through your head as you ran?

KC: The race immediately began uphill and I felt like I had to fight my way out into the front. I wanted to position myself within the top 40 at the beginning of the race. At first I was nervous because I was very boxed in so I cut to the outside. There was definitely a brief moment when I was like “oh my gosh I won’t do this.” Then, I felt a sense of relief when I was able to cut around some people and find a group in the top 10. I sat between number 7 and number 12 for most of the race. And then there was also a moment of panic when I was like “wow I am too far up right now.” I recognized some of the runners so that was comforting. I tend to be over zealous at the beginning and sometimes get nervous that I will be overtaken by a sea of women at the end of the race. After the first lap I was still feeling good which was reassuring. Once I started and was able to find my way to the front, I actually felt very calm. At nationals there is always so much noise and my mind gets mentally riled and very overwhelmed. It is such a fast moving race and only lasts roughly 20 minutes. It is always just a fight to stay focused so it was kind of a blessing that I was able to stay calm. At the very end it was a fight to get to the finish and I had no idea what place I came in.

SR: Before you left was the unspoken expectation that you would be All-American?

KC: A personal goal for myself was definitely to be All-American. I talked to Coach Art a little bit about it before and he did not seem to think that it would be an issue. I also talked to Coach Jay and we set two goals. The first goal was to be top 40 which would be All-American and the second was to be top 20. In my head I thought that I could do it but I tend to have the problem of self-doubt. When I have these expectations and goals for myself I get worried that at the end something will go wrong. The race did go well. The only part of the experience that went wrong was not having the rest of the team there because they would have killed it too.

SR: How was seeing your family there and having that support?

KC: Seeing my family there at the race was very helpful. I feel like I am very fortunate to have the family that I do because they all make themselves available and are so incredibly supportive. They knew that I was nervous and they gave me the space that I needed but were also there as my crutches when I needed to freak out to them. Coach Jay was not stressed at all which was also nice. I ended up talking to her in the car for a little while and asked “have you ever had anybody else who has been this overwhelmed?” and she reassured me that she has seen girls who were much more nervous. I also loved having my sister there because she races too and gets the race day anxiety. Coach Jay and I were on our way to the race and everything hit me and all the nerves came out. My sister stayed right with me up until the moment that the gun went off. She even hurt her hip again to be able to do the warm-up with me. I didn’t know that she was hurt but she told me that she did not want me to be alone. She is incredible and I am very thankful to have her in my life.

SR: Last year after nationals you went abroad to Nepal and missed two seasons of track. Even though an entire year went by without competition, you came back and had this incredible season. How did you tackle training abroad and when did you start to train intensively for cross country?

KC: When I was abroad, especially at the beginning, I ran very moderately. I ran about 2-3 times a week and my runs were only at most 4 miles because it was really hard to find time. I would have to go in the morning before sunrise and would have to run with the dust, cars, cattle, and then when I got back take a shower out of a bucket at my host family’s house. Then, as part of my abroad experience, I spent some time in India for a month. I was just trying to keep up with the team and heard that Jess Wilson ’17 broke 17 minutes for a 5K. That was a really impressive and fast time and I wanted to try and reach a similar goal. I started to feel like the cross country season was coming up fast and I wanted it to go well. After that, I started running almost every day and expanded my runs to 60 minutes or so. When I returned home to Burlington I did not skip a day. When I set a goal or expectation for myself I can’t not do it. This drives me crazy most of the time because it makes it really hard to relax. But I just kind of went for it this summer I felt good about my progress.

SR: Cross country just finished and indoor track is already quickly approaching. What are your immediate goals?

KC: I really don’t know what it would take to make nationals for track. I always want to start by breaking some of my old personal records. I have not had a track season since my sophomore year. I want to get back on the track and see where I am time wise. Track is so much more predictable than cross country so I want to have measurable goals for right now. I will cross the later competition bridge down the road when I know how the rest of the season plays out. I am just excited to race on the track again and hopefully see if I can improve from sophomore year.

SR: Overall, what are your thoughts of the season? Do you hope to keep running after you graduate?

KC: There has never been a kinder group of people and I feel blessed that I was able to finish out with them. When I was feeling downtrodden by all the training the team was always there. I am glad I stayed with this team during my four years at Bates and am thankful for all the connections that I have made. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with running and I just want to remember why I do it. I would like to go out and run a marathon as just kind of a cherry on top of a running career. After that I want running to fall nicely into the backdrop of my life. When I want to go on a run then I will do it. I also want to go on hikes and maybe even just lie on my couch! I think I won’t be able to let it go completely but want to strike a balance. Nationals was definitely a good way to end the season. It was more or less a goal of mine to be All-American in either cross country or track since I started Bates. I always thought it was a pretty lofty goal and could not be happier that I was able to achieve it my last cross country season.

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