The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: December 9, 2017

Dear Everyone,

Dear Everyone,

 

Thank you so much for participating in changing the way we interact with and appreciate our world. I know at times the environmental plight can seem overwhelming and dire, and the individual impact that we all have can seem small, but I just wanted to send along some holiday cheer and a reminder that each and every person can make a change that aids the health of our planet and our home. I want to do so by sharing with you an incredible change that some of our very own Batesies made happen.

This year, a group of 11 motivated Bates students representing all class years came together and participated in the “Maine Food System Innovation Challenge,” a challenge that called for a creative and inspired idea for addressing and supporting “the expansion of production, distribution, processing, and consumption of local, sustainably produced food and seafood.”

The planning stages of the project took many weeks and many meetings at the Ronj, involving ideas such as “edible landscaping to using milk that was past its expiration date (but still perfectly fine to consume!) to making yogurt at a kitchen in Mill #5 in Lewiston.” While all of these ideas were exciting, the group settled on pursuing a project involving gleaning, which entails “reducing food waste by distributing excess crops to people who could use them, rather than leaving good food in the field to rot.”

As they developed the idea further, the days passed quickly until finally the big competition day was upon them. The weekend of the competition involved an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workshop on Saturday, followed by the various teams pitching their ideas on Sunday. During the workshop, the Bates team met with “over 15 professionals from Maine involved in all aspects of the food industry and/or running a business, including lawyers from Drummond and Drummond, the owner of Rosemont Bakery in Portland, farmers from all over, a representative from Sodexo, and more!” Sophie Landes described the experience as a wonderful learning opportunity. “Our team went into the competition with very little prior business and entrepreneurial experience. Through the wide variety of experts brought in for consulting and step by step guidelines on how to create a value proposition…we were truly able to learn so much over the course of a single weekend,” she said.

After a long weekend of inspiration and hard work the team was finally ready to pitch their idea. They took to the stage, and in a live-streamed presentation, delivered an incredible plan to make a change to the way we address “the twin challenges of food waste and food insecurity, both locally and beyond.”

Eventually, the time came to announce the winners. The Bates team sat anxiously until the announcer proclaimed, “And First Place goes to the Bates College team!” While I, Sustainable Abigail, was not there, I can only imagine the crowd went wild. The first place team received a cash prize of $2,500 to implement their project.

Professor of Environmental Studies Francis Eanes will be teaching a Winter Semester and Short Term course called “Urban and Regional Food Systems” in which students will continue working on this project to make it a reality. “So what?” you may ask, “How do I know that I can do that too?” This project and sustainable change was founded in the passion and inspiration within just a few Bates students, and came together when they shared in and built upon each other’s thoughtfulness and creativity.

If you have an idea, a question, or even the beginnings of a passing thought about making a difference, know that there are people at Bates and beyond that want to help you make the world a little better. Perhaps every idea won’t come with the $2,500 cash prize, but I can guarantee that every idea you have will spark an inspiration and conversation in someone in your community. Just remember, keep your head up and your heart open to making a difference, because you can!

 

Happy Holidays,

 

Sustainable Abigail

 

*Quotes throughout the piece came from various Bates students that participated in the competition*

 

Senate Tax Reform Passes

On December 2 at 2:00 a.m. ET, the Senate passed the new tax overhaul (HR1) by a 51-49 vote. Earlier in November, the House passed a similar, though not identical bill. Before the bill can be sent to the president for his signature the House and Senate bills must be conformed in a conference committee.

With the Republican majority in the Senate, they did not need any Democrats to vote for the bill, and only one Republican senator (Corker R-TN) voted against HR1. Forbes notes that the bill was continually worked on into the early hours of Saturday morning and even sported hand written marginalia in the final copy. Each tax cut will expire on December 31, 2025 in order to be compliant with the Byrd Rule that states that bills impacting the federal budget cannot add to the deficit beyond the ten-year budget window. The tax plan, at this stage, will add over $1 trillion to the deficit in ten years.

In theory, this new tax plan was designed with the middle class in mind. However, the Tax Policy Center estimates that 15-20 percent of people earning $86,000-$300,000 will see an immediate tax increase due to what Forbes describes as “…the confluence of lost itemized deductions, eliminated personal exemptions, and slower indexing of the individual tax brackets.” The aforementioned three items are the reason why taxes will go up for those people.

The first point will lower the amount people can deduct from their income, so you will ultimately have to pay more. For example, if I make $100,000, I used to be able to deduct about $10,000 for various reasons and then I would only have to pay taxes on the $90,000 rather than the complete sum. In this new case, those deductions would become moot and I would have to pay taxes on the full $100,000, effectively paying more. Now, people would be paying on the sum rather than the subtotal – therefore responsible for a higher percentage of money.

Furthermore, inflation will be calculated differently in this new plan.

The way people calculate inflation would become less. People don’t pay the same amount of tax on everything they earn. The increment at which they make more money gets taxed at a higher rate with a slower inflation rate. Slower inflation (indexing) but consistent income rates makes for higher taxes on that income rate.

The above talks much about the macro-level of the new bill. But we must not forget the micro-level, especially for us college students who are graduating into this new fiscal world.

The previously noted House bill puts students at a large disadvantage. CFO of Bates, Geoff Swift notes, “[t]his proposed tax legislation increases pressure on both higher and continuing education. Repealing deductions on student loan interest and employer-provided assistance and eliminating vital credits restricts access to affordable undergraduate and graduate education. Raising the standard charitable deduction and levying an excise tax on endowment investment income pulls directly from the critical funding sources that colleges and universities leverage to support their underlying mission to educate students, including important student services and financial aid.”

Similarly, President Spencer notes, “current efforts to overhaul the U.S. tax code in the House and Senate represent an unprecedented assault on students, educational opportunity, and our nation’s innovation economy. Cuts directed at students – to the tune of an estimated $71 billion over ten years – will eliminate a range of tax benefits for undergraduates and their families, hike taxes on graduate students by thousands of dollars, and place undue burdens on colleges and universities. Impairing the ability of students at every level to access higher education is a deeply misguided strategy in legislation that purports to stimulate economic growth in a knowledge economy.

“By increasing the cost of education for both students and institutions, the tax bill will constrict access to education at a time when it has never been more vital to individual advancement and national prosperity. Bates has communicated these concerns to our Congressional delegation and we will continue to work with other colleges and universities to resist these wrongheaded policies.”

There are important differences in these two bills. This Senate bill, opposed to its sibling in the House, is better for college students. The Washington Post notes that the Senate bill, as of now, will keep in place two vital pieces of legislation that the House bill abolished. It would no longer repeal the tax deduction for student loans and college graduates and there will be no tax on tuition waivers as income.

Ultimately, the public will not know anything for sure until the conference committee is complete and the bill is re-voted on the House and the Senate and the two bills are conformed into one.

 

Understanding Net Neutrality

It’s t-minus 10 minutes before you need to send an essay in through Gmail and at the least convenient time you see the dreaded wheel of death. You may try to use a different search engine, to little or no avail. You may try to restart the computer, but that doesn’t fix the problem. So what is it that is eating our internet speeds?

In 2003, Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia, penned the term “net neutrality.” It is the principle that internet traffic should be treated equally. Internet traffic is the amalgamation of data and files sent over the internet, these include emails, video files and music files—basically anything requiring broadband. The case of net neutrality argues that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) including broadband providers like Comcast and mobile carriers like T-Mobile cannot cherry pick which content you’re able to access. For instance, AT&T cannot legally slow down Netflix speeds so that you have to pay extra for their television network package. Without net neutrality, platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, would not be able to compete in the market against bigger social networks and apps.

This is where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) comes in. Under the Communications Act of 1943, signed into law by FDR, the FCC was born in order to regulate interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio. According to the FCC’s 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, the FCC works towards six strategic goals: “Broadband, Competition, Spectrum, Media, Public Safety, Homeland Security, and Modernizing the commission.”

For the most part, regardless of political inclinations, Americans are in overwhelming support of net neutrality.

But in recent years, net neutrality has been under attack. The figurehead of the opposition is Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC. Pai was appointed into office during the Obama Administration, and was appointed to Chairman during the Trump Administration. Before joining the FCC, he was a lawyer for Verizon.

On May 18, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission took the first formal step toward dismantling the net neutrality rules. On December 14, the FCC will vote on Pai’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal, which would reclassify internet service — now considered a Title II “utility” — as an “information service.” If passed, this proposal would end the 2015 net neutrality policy brought into law under the Obama Administration and give ISPs more power over what their customers do on the internet and how they access it.

This proposal has brought a huge backlash of criticism. Matt Ameduri ’19 says on the proposal, “I feel like it’s pretty stupid that our regulatory agency is deciding this. It could potentially have huge consequences to the entire nation’s internet infrastructure.”

Yet the burden falls on Republicans to insure that this act is not passed. So far, only our own senator Susan Collins, (R-Maine) is the only Republican member of Congress who has opposed Pai’s plan against net neutrality.

All of this has reached a pinnacle with the recent AT&T merger with Time Warner Cable, which for all economics majors out there is a run-of-the-mill vertical merger.

Typically, vertical mergers go by unscathed, as they do not reduce competition. However, on November 21, the Department of Justice sued the $85 billion merger. This occurred the same week in which FCC unveiled the proposal to overturn net neutrality rules.

In a New York Times article titled “Justice Department Sues to Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger” authors Cecilia Kang and Michael J. de la Merced put the situation as follows, “[e]ven as one government agency looks to constrain the growth of AT&T, the nation’s largest pay-TV company and one of its largest internet providers, another is working to unshackle broadcast and telecom companies from rules its staff says are burdensome.”

 

Snow Ball Semi Formal Welcomes the Cold with Chocolate, Funk, and Fun

The temperature is dropping and final exams are just around the corner. Naturally, many students across campus are tense and melancholic. This year the Chase Hall Committee looked to alleviate the stress of the last weeks of the semester with the first edition of what may become an annual tradition: Snow Ball Semi Formal Dance.

The dance featured two distinct venues, both of which were inside Chase Hall. Memorial Commons featured the main dance itself, while students looking for a more low-key atmosphere could head down to the Little Room. The lower venue featured a selection of beers and ciders for 21+ students and stacks of pizza for everyone.

Upstairs, the featured fare was more fitting for the semi-formal dress code. Food choices included a variety of cheeses and a chocolate fondue fountain. Adding to the holiday spirit, students could get a cup of hot chocolate.

The Logistics of Funk, a student ensemble with a retro bent, provided the music in Memorial Commons. The group played a variety of funk classics, including “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5.

Owen Schmidt ’21, one of the percussionists for Logistics of Funk, said playing at Snow Ball was an extremely enjoyable experience, just as he says playing in the band has been all year.

“It’s my first year in Logistics of Funk, and it’s been great to learn from everyone else in the group. Everyone is so incredibly talented and skilled at their instruments,” said Schmidt.

The performance was just as enjoyable for many members of the audience as it was for the performers both. Zeke Smith ’19, who attended the dance, reported being blown away by the overall atmosphere.

“It was a super classy event. I’m really glad Bates added this to its repertoire for the coming years,” said Smith.

Schmidt also acknowledged that most of the audience seemed to be having a good time, and said that it helped to drive him and his band mates.

“The crowd energy was great, and we were really able to feed off of everything they were doing and have a really great time,” said Schmidt.

Snow Ball was organized by the Chase Hall Programming Board, which oversees a wide variety school-sponsored events for Bates students. Events range from weekly programming like the Village Club Series, to annual traditions like Gala. This year was the first time that the Programming Board had added a second school-wide formal in addition to Gala, which takes place in February. The Programming Board’s most recent larger event was this year’s Fall Concert.

Over the past year, the Chase Hall Programming Board has been pushing to increase the number and attendance of on-campus events available to students. The shift comes as a new city-wide “nuisance party” ordinance has been put into effect by Lewiston’s City Council to curtail large off-campus parties. Other new events that have been added this year include a series of events in 280 Underground on many Friday and Saturday nights.

Overall, students seemed to be excited about the addition of a second school-wide formal. Gabe Benson ’20, an attending student, thought the event overall offered a fun atmosphere. Benson summed up his experience in simple terms:

“It’s about friends. I got to spend time with friends.”

newspapersnowball

Funk and holiday festivities filled the night. OLIN CARTY/COURTESY PHOTO

Spotlights on First-Generation Bobcats: Part II

At the beginning of this semester, I spoke to several first-year students who are the first members of their immediate families to go to college. That article was the first in a series whereby we at The Bates Student will check-in with our trio at the beginning and end of each semester to see how they grow as students and as people. This is the second entry in that series.

Deandra “DJ” Hyman ’21 of Hartford, Connecticut looking to major in Asian Studies

What do you think of Bates so far?

So far, being on Bates Campus has been an eye opening experience. Thinking back on this last semester, I have encountered new experiences daily, whether academically or socially, and it has given me the chance to grow as a college student.

What groups have you become involved with?

I spend the majority of my time in Knit Wits but I am also a member of Caribbean Students Association (CSA).

What was the highlight of your semester?

It is hard to pinpoint a specific highlight. I often find small moments throughout my day that have added to the overall experiences of my semester. It can be the interesting conversations that I have in class or it can be learning a new phrase in my language classes.

What was something that challenged you significantly?

Something that challenged me significantly was finding a good method of time management and organization.

What are your goals for the winter semester?

My goal for the winter semester is to improve my study habits in my language classes.

Monica Luna ’21 of Avondale, Arizona/Adjuntas del Refugio, Mexico looking to major in Economics

What do you think of Bates so far?

I think Bates is a great school where you can be independent and find yourself. There are so many things that students can be a part of and explore but it relies on the person to open up and reach out. This year I believe I did that for myself and I am so thankful that I got to explore subjects inside and outside of my comfort zone.

What groups have you become involved with?

I am a part of the Student Affairs Committee and I work at the IT Help Desk.

What was the highlight of your semester?

The highlight of my semester had to be the moment I wrote a song with my friends Ian and Carlson. During our “Singer-Songwriter in History” class… I took over the lyrics while Ian and Carlson took over the music. It was a great moment for me because I felt like I was in my happy place. For me, I was writing poetry like I used to and it was so easy to do something I enjoyed.

What was something that challenged you significantly?

I took an Econ 101 course this semester and it was definitely challenging at first. I felt like I threw myself into something I had no knowledge of and my first exam really opened my eyes. I did not do great and that only made me feel so insecure about myself but after I talked to my friend Jennie, she encouraged me to keep going. I tried different methods of studying and I began to understand. I definitely do not feel 100 percent comfortable but I do know that it is possible for me to be great.

What are your goals for the winter semester?

My goals are to pursue Economics as my major. I am very excited and nervous because I want to explore before I declare, but I have amazing people in my life who will push me to take risks.

 

Lewiston Mayoral Election Progresses into Runoff

The mayoral race for the city of Lewiston will continue until December 12, where voters will have the chance to choose between Ben Chin and Shane Bouchard.

Early voting will be going on at Lewiston City Hall until December 7, and Election Day voting on December 12 will be at Longley Elementary School on Birch Street. Absentee ballots are also available. Contact the Harward Center for more information.

Chin, a Bates alum of the class of 2003, is a progressive community organizer who has worked closely with the Maine People’s Alliance on issues such as increasing minimum wage and tax increases for wealthy brackets to fund local schools. Chin has stressed the importance of mitigating Lewiston’s housing crisis, specifically with regard to the pervasive practice of slum lording. Chin also hopes to implement something he calls a “belonging agenda”: a system that aims to quell the Lewiston opioid epidemic through public health reform and education.

Bouchard is a strong conservative and the incumbent city councilor for Ward Four, as well as the owner of a landscaping business. Bouchard vehemently opposed the Lewiston-Auburn merger, though he clarified that he would ultimately support the decision of the people. He has emphasized the importance of changing Lewiston’s “image problem” in order to attract business and generally rebuild the city. Finally, he hopes to dismantle the root causes stunting economic development in Lewiston.

Chin, when asked why he believes he should be supported by Bates students, remarked that “at a time when racial demagogues who brag about sexual assault can be elected president, it’s important to demonstrate at the local level a different way forward. My campaign is about building momentum for change that people of all backgrounds–young, old, rich, poor, all races and genders–can get behind. It’s the only way we are going to tackle problems as local as parking, and as big as economic inequality and racial disparities.” He went on to say that “we have an opportunity on December 12 to show the world it can be done, and it’s essential we do it together.”

Bouchard could not be reached for comment.

I spoke with two Bates students, one who supports Chin and the other who supports Bouchard. Roy Mathews ’21, a moderate Republican from Columbia, South Carolina, is in support of Bouchard. “Overall, I would say that socially I’m probably the most liberal person on this campus. But economically, I’m pretty conservative. I don’t believe you should spend money that you don’t have.” Reflecting on his support for Bouchard, Mathews remarked that he was not initially compelled by Bouchard’s policies until he was able to learn more about his personal background. “When I started talking to him, he told me about how he was raised on food stamps by a single mother. I was inspired by his story, which doesn’t happen a lot.” In terms of policy, Mathews was most convinced by Bouchard’s fiscally conservative economic proposals. “Back in South Carolina, we used to throw money at everyone who didn’t have a job, and that put us in debt, which resulted in a huge corruption case about ways to get rid of that debt illegally.” The most crucial action for Lewiston, in Mathews’ opinion, is thus job development. “Shane’s focus on job prospects in Lewiston,” started Mathews, “with the mills and trying to revitalize them, I would say that’s the biggest component for me.”

Conversely, Lars Gundersen ’20 of Freeport, Maine, voiced his support for Chin. Gundersen identifies as an independent, and has worked for several canvassing initiatives throughout Lewiston and the greater Maine area. Though he has primarily supported Democratic candidates in the past, Gundersen expressed that he has felt alienated by both parties. “I think Ben Chin has a concrete vision for what he wants to achieve for Lewiston: like addressing the housing situation downtown and issues of economic development.” In explaining his support for Chin, Gundersen reflected on Chin’s “outsiderness,” as an out-of-stater who has espoused policies that deviate from normative political expectations. “Voting for him,” said Gundersen, “then entails some degree of risk. But because Bouchard represents the status quo, I don’t see there being anything to lose by voting for Ben Chin…But I think he won’t fail. I think it’s a risk worth taking.”

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén