The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: January 24, 2018 (Page 1 of 2)

Nordic Ski Teams Compete at St. Michael’s Carnival, Placing Eighth

On January 20-21, the men’s and women’s nordic ski teams competed in the St. Michael’s Carnival at Sleepy Hollow in Huntington, Vermont. Parker McDonald ’18 and Kaelyn Woods ’20 led the men’s and women’s teams to a combined placement of eighth out of 12 teams at this event with 229 carnival points.

Despite the relatively warm weather this weekend, Bates posted a strong showing at the event with some standout performances to help push the Bobcats through the rankings.   

The men had some impressive results in the 10 kilometer classic on Saturday, earning 76 carnival points total during the event. McDonald raced a personal record of 24:58 in this race, placing sixth out of 97 collegiate skiers and earning 37 points. Following him to round out Bates’ point scorers were Graham Houtsma ’20 with a time of 25:54 in 22nd place and Leo Lukens ’20 in 54th place with a time of 26:54.

The women’s team raced the five kilometer classic on the first day of the carnival. Taking 22nd place in a field of 87 skiers, Woods raced a time of 14:20, earning 22 carnival points for Bates. Zoe McKinney ’21 came in second for Bates, placing 54th with a time of 15:12. Samantha Pierce ’19 followed close behind and placed 66th in 15:30.

At the end of the first day, the men’s team was tied with Bowdoin for fifth place and the women’s team held 10th place with 39 carnival points.

“Parker was sixth yesterday, which was awesome,” Woods says. “[It] put the team in a really good place going into day two.”

There was no break for the Bobcats this weekend. On Sunday, both teams were back at it for the second day of the event. Here, the men raced the 15 kilometer and the women raced the 10 kilometer freestyle.

McDonald once again led Bates’ men in a time of 39:57, placing 17th out of 86 athletes and earning 25 carnival points for the team. As in the classic 10 kilometer race the day before, Houtsma and Lukens rounded out Bates’ point scoring trio with times of 40:12 and 41:47, placing 19th and 48th respectively.

On the women’s side, Woods also came in first for the Bobcats in a personal record time of 30:04. She placed eighth out of 80 skiers in the race and earned 33 carnival points for her efforts. In 50th place, McKinney crossed the finish line in a time of 32:31; not long after, Annie Blakslee ’20 came in 61st place with a time of 33:37 to earn Bates’ final points of the event.

“It’s really fun,” Woods comments. “The racing in the EISA in college is just so fun, the atmosphere around it, getting to see all the teams every weekend. It’s a hard sport but you feel pretty good afterwards.”

In total, the men’s team earned 137 points and the women earned 92 for a total of 229 carnival points. Throughout the competition, McDonald, Houtsma, and Woods earned 54, 23 and 43 NCAA points respectively.

“I thought we did really well,” Houtsma says. “I think it was a really good weekend for us. The team’s looking good right now which is all that matters…We didn’t really have too good of a season last year but things are looking up this season.”

   Until their next competition at the University of Vermont Carnival in Stowe, Vermont next weekend, the nordic ski teams will continue to train hard and wear their new, bright red pom pom hats conspicuously around campus.

“We just got brand new hats, so we’re all sporting the Bates skiing hats,” Woods says. “It makes it really easy to find us.”

Cessing out Insularity: Poker and Asexuality

“Ace” carries a variety of meanings. Many of its connotations only occur within closed linguistic circles. Though not limited to these, ace can refer to a card in a deck or as a label associated with an identity somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Both of these definitions have features far more multifaceted than an outside observer might perceive.

Although much of competitive poker revolves around the televised, and ultimately fairly static, gameplay of Texas Hold ‘Em. Texas Hold ‘Em has only one mode called “high.” The hands are categorically ranked from best to worst with the proverbial “Royal Flush” being the best (“highest”) and “7,5,4,3,2” (with at least one different suit) being the worst (“lowest”). Yet, this mechanic does not exist in all card games within poker. In fact, a large portion of card games operate in a dynamic where both the “lowest” and “highest” hand split the winnings of a so-called pot. Similarly, a large part of poker is not played in person, like on televised tournaments of ESPN, but rather in online poker services. Though statistics on these pools of players are limited by the anonymity of account holders, there is a community of people who have full time careers in online poker that rival in-person players. Professional online poker players describe their experiences operating as fairly monotonous and highly technical in nature; a far cry from the gutsy interpersonal dynamics of in-person. Players will simultaneously compete in 5+ online tables, while mainly making the majority of their decisions based upon statistical calculations. This repetitive job seems particularly odd when juxtaposed with popular media portrayals of poker, like Daniel Craig’s supposedly suave James Bond in Casino Royale.

Poker has primarily become a symbol of jet-setting, attractive, wealthy, white cis-male heterosexuality, even though, in my mind, I more readily associate it with sterile mathematics for mostly cis-males in their mid-20’s to early 30’s. The largest pool of players for these games are people with self-taught mathematical skills who were never credentialed with either college degrees or entry-level job positions. This divergence between representations would only be apparent with an amount of in-group knowledge.

Similarly, even though I view my asexuality as liberatory, popular media would have audiences use asexuality as a marker for neuro-atypicality and trauma. The consistency that these identities are pigeonholed together reflects ableist attitudes and acephobia. Popular imagination of asexuality imagines ace identities as alternatively not real or, if real, a sign of mental disorder. Both of these onerous mythologies validate high rates of sexual assault against asexual folks. This is particularly pernicious, as these features are often used to signify a person’s purportedly damaged characteristics. Sympathetic white male ace-coded characters such as Sherlock, referring to the depictions in Elementary and BBC’s laughably overproduced Sherlock, only exist so far as their ace-coded features can be linked to youth, adolescence, and young adult trauma. On the reverse end, media tends to represent polyamorous allosexuality, often bisexuality, as a marker of unhealthily prodigality and general deviancy. The people at the extremes of a manufactured sexual spectrum face varying degrees of respite. All of this malignance has a bitter aspect, especially given how the toxic normative institutions of American compulsory heterosexuality have created and maintained high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence. The entrenchments of these aspects of normative cultures seem particularly egregious when when people with disabilities and asexuality navigate noticeably high levels of sexual violence.

Even still, when I hear “ace,” I imagine far more multifaceted instantiations of identity than these political realities and representations would indicate. Yet, perhaps the most tantalizing characteristic of so-called aceness is how tantalizing, foreign, and mystical it is for allosexual people.


Maine’s Future Requires Collaboration

Back in December, while I was feeling that combined anxiety, stress, and excitement about finals, the semester ending, and winter break imminently approaching, I found myself thinking a lot about the future of Maine. Why Maine?

In part because Maine is, and has always been, home for me, but also because I was lucky enough to attend Educate Maine’s annual symposium on education. The theme that dominated the day’s discussions was how inextricably linked Maine’s future is to the future of how we think about, prioritize, and approach education.

Some of the standout moments of the day included learning about how University of Maine Farmington is addressing our state’s teacher shortage by changing the way it attracts and supports students interested in teaching careers. Another highlight was learning about the steps that are being taken to help Maine’s prison inmates pursue a college education and the approaches school districts are taking to diversify their teacher workforce to match changing student demographics.

There were many other examples of creative, phenomenal, and largely unknown educational initiatives going on around this state, and they all reaffirmed my belief that an investment in education must be the cornerstone of Maine’s future growth and success.

I am especially grateful to our State Treasurer, Terry Hayes, for inviting me to attend this symposium with her, following a discussion we had about the future direction of educational policies, and where we both would like to see Maine headed.

Not only was I struck by Terry’s genuine interest in my thoughts, but also by the philosophy she embodies when it comes to involving and mentoring Maine’s next generation of leaders. Terry makes it her practice to invite members of the younger generation to attend events with her, because she recognizes the connection between keeping young people in Maine and showing us that we have some skin in the game.

Both Terry and I have lived in what is now the oldest state in America for our whole lives, so we’re both aware that when we walk into events like these, where important conversations about our state’s future are taking place, the room is usually full of gray hair.

This is a problem, because members of my generation are missing out on critical opportunities to gain real-world experience and important learning in the fields we’re passionate about from knowledgeable and experienced individuals.

On the flip side of the coin, the decision-makers of today are also missing out on opportunities to learn from the perspectives and experiences of younger generations who are, or soon will be, deciding whether or not they want to start college, their careers, or their families here in Maine.

Terry explained to me that this is why she regularly challenges her peers to seek out younger people and invite them to the table where these critical discussions are being held. She recognizes that, sooner or later, the torch will be passed, and the more prepared we are to take on the responsibilities of leading our state, the better the future will be for all of us.

My thanks go out to Educate Maine for facilitating such an important discussion about our future and for honoring the phenomenal educators and community leaders that are making critical investments in our students and our future. And I especially want to thank to our independent State Treasurer, Terry Hayes, for being such a strong advocate for bringing the next generation to the table when important discussions are taking place.

Following her example, I, too, will strive to encourage my peers to bridge generational divides and join these conversations to listen, learn, and get prepared to lead.

Bates Throwers Discuss their Craft

Team captain Katie Hughes ‘19 leads women’s track team in a cheer before the start of their meet on Saturday, January 20th . THEOPHIL SYSLO/BATES COLLEGE

As a mid-distance runner for Bates’ track and field team, I train for races by running workouts on Merrill’s indoor track. Every workout I run past where the throwers train but am unaware of the the intense technical and strength practice that is taking place each day.

Katie Hughes ‘19 and Adedire Fakorede ‘18 are captains for this year’s track and field team and have been throwers since they were first-years at Bates.

Hughes, from Pittsfield, Maine, is a psychology major and education minor. She has been involved with the Bates track and field community since her sophomore year of high school when she attended throwing clinics run by head coach Al Fereshetian.

“Ever since I started the clinics in high school I knew that I wanted to go to Bates because I thought it would be very cool to throw for Fresh,” Hughes says. “Fresh is the best coach I have ever had. He is so knowledgeable and if there is something that he does not know he is going to learn it. I am just so much more confident and relaxed when he is around.”

Hughes placed fifth in the shot put and sixth in the hammer throw at the NESCAC Championships during her sophomore outdoor season with marks of 36-7.75 and 131-9 respectively. Last year at NESCACs she placed third in the hammer and fourth in the shot put, earning personal records of 143-8 and 38-10.35 in both.

Hughes spent her fall semester in Copenhagen and is very excited to see to be back at Bates to compete with the team for what should be another successful indoor and outdoor season. As a junior captain her main goal is to make sure that the track and field team becomes a cohesive unit of distance runners, sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers, and throwers.

“Hearing from Coach Fresh and Jay all fall about how strong the men and women looked, keeping up with the cross country team and knowing how that was going to transition into the indoor and outdoor season was awesome and got me really excited about this year,” Hughes says. “We have only been in season for two weeks but over time as we get into the track meets I hope to see our team chemistry keep getting stronger.”

In terms of personal goals, Hughes is eager to reach personal records in all of the throwing events including the shot put, hammer, weight throw, and discus.

“The goal is always to do better each week,” she says. “You want to build off one performance and make each one better. I came into this year knowing that I am not going to start off at exactly where I ended last season because it has been seven months since I have thrown.”

Hughes, as well as all the Bates throwers on the men’s and women’s teams, practice at least five times a week. Once competition season starts they also have morning individual, or small group, morning sessions with Fresh in order to receive one-on-one attention to improve and adjust technique. The team practices the weight throw on Mondays and Thursdays and the shot put on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Coach Fresh works with the pole vaulters on Tuesdays and Thursdays so on the days that he is not with the throwers, they receive help from Coach McNeal and Coach Kirkland. Lifting is also a crucial component of their schedule.

Last year Hughes was the only woman’s thrower but this year she is joined by first-years Genesis Paulino ‘21 and Ellie Strauss ‘21.

Like Hughes, Fakorede has had a positive experience with the Bates throwing squad and is eager to start a new season as one of the team captains.

Fakorede, an econ major from Newark, New Jersey, has been throwing since his freshman year of high school.

“In high school I had absolutely no idea what I was doing,” Fakorede remembers. “It was sick to have a coach like Fresh to refine everything and teach me the importance of technique. Without him I definitely wouldn’t have achieved anything I would have in college and is technical prowess has helped me with other sports that I do such as powerlifting. I really implement his ideologies into my training.”

During his sophomore indoor season as a Bates thrower, Fakorede participated in the NCAA championships and earned All-America honors with his third place finish in the 35-pound weight throw. He returned to NCAAs last indoor season, earning his second All-america honors placing fourth in the weight-throw. Fakorede is the sixth Bates men’s thrower to earn at least two All-American finishes in the event.

“Being able to compete at NCAAs is a huge opportunity and is not something to be taken for granted,” Fakorede says. “It is definitely a big stage with other athletes in the country who have been working their hardest but I am trying not put too much pressure on myself this year because in reality it is just another meet.”

When she was a first-year, Hughes remembers watching Dire compete at NCAAs. “Seeing throwers like Adedire and Nick Margitza‘16 achieve great success gives me something to aspire to. Having that so tangible right in front of me makes me think ‘Ok I can go to national someday.’ Continuing to have Dire over the past years has definitely made me a better thrower.” The impact that the throwers have on each other speaks volumes to the positivity and support of this team.

This year Fakorede is joined by first-years John Rex ‘21 and Zack Smith ‘21, along with returning throwers Zach Bernstein ‘20, Zach Campbell ‘19, Tom Endean ‘18, Tyler Harrington ‘19. Including the women’s first-years, there are a total of four first-year thrower this year.

“I definitely see [the first-years’] competitive spirit,” Fakorede says. “They are really working hard and pushing themselves. They are also being really great students of the sport, making sure they know their positions and asking a lot of questions which speaks to how they are inquisitive and driven.”

This past weekend Bates legend David Pless ‘13, threw the shot put at the Bates Invitational, hosted by Bates College. Both Hughes and Fakorede, along with the other Bates throwers, hold him as the symbol of Bates throwing.

“Pless was a three time national champion in the shot put, combined for indoor and outdoor, and more than that number All-American. He is one of the double plaques for All-American,” Hughes says. “Because I live in Maine I had the privilege of watching him throw when he was in college and he is just very impressive.”

“Pless just really was a student of the sport and rose up to be one of the top premiere shot putters in the world,” Fakorede says. “I think that his character just speaks volumes. He helps us with film analysis and is coached by an Olympian so we have an Olympian looking at our work. It is good to have him on board.”

Keep an eye out for these Bates throwers because they are sure to make a tremendous impact on Bates’ indoor and outdoor track and field seasons this year.


Women’s Basketball Falls to Tufts

On Saturday, January 20, the women’s basketball team played at home against Tufts, a team that is ranked eighth in the country. The game started out tight but the Bobcats fell behind and unfortunately could not come back, losing 67-28 in the end.

The only scorers of the game for the Bobcats were Nina Davenport ’18, Taylor McVeigh ’21, and Julia Middlebrook ’21. During this game, Davenport, the leading NESCAC scorer at 18.3 points per game, scored 18 points for the Bobcats. First-year Taylor McVeigh scored 2 points and had six rebounds, which was the team high of the game. First-year Julia Middlebrook scored another 8 points for the Bobcats.

Last night’s game against Tufts was definitely a tough one to swallow because we came out with such fire and energy in the first quarter. Even though it’s not the outcome we wanted, we have to learn from our mistakes and focus on the next stretch of the season,” says Middlebrook.

In the first quarter, it was an exciting and tight match as both teams battled hard, ending the period 12-10. Davenport made 4 of the 7 shots in this opening quarter and 2 of 5 from three. With 5:57 remaining in the second quarter, a fantastic layup by McVeigh and a 3 pointer by Davenport made it 16-15 in Tufts’ favor. However, the Jumbos aggressively finished the first half with a 16-2 run.

In the second half, Tufts completely controlled the game. They outscored the Bobcats 17-6 in the third quarter and 18-5 in the fourth. After three periods, the Jumbos led the Bobcats with a score of 49-23. From Tufts, Jac Knapp and Melissa Baptista scored 6 points each in the third quarter and Cailin Harrington added another 5 points. Knapp added another 7 points in the fourth quarter in four minutes and six other Tuft players scored as well.

“I thought we were really able to compete with them in the first quarter, and then the game kind of got away from us after that. I thought Nina shot especially well, scoring most of our points,” says Caroline Bogue ’21.

This was unfortunately the game where Bates had their lowest point total in over a decade. Tufts outrebounded by a 57-27 margin and outscored 38-6 in the paint. This led to Bates having their season low 19.0 percent shooting from the floor for the game.

“Tufts is a really talented team and in order to compete with a team like that you have to have an extra level of focus. The window is very narrow to find an open shot against a tough defense so we could’ve done a better job recognizing when it was the best opportunity to score rather than waiting for a wide open shot. Next weekend is our last weekend at home, we are looking forward to playing with high intensity and leaving it all out on Alumni,” says Lyse Henshaw ‘18.

For the Jumbos, Jac Knapp led with 17 points. Melissa Baptista added another 13 point and Katie Martensen scored 10 points with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Erica DeCandido had the game high of 13 rebounds. Lauren Dillon contributed to the big win with six assists and two steals.

The Bobcats will be playing Wesleyan on Friday, January 26 in Alumni Gym where, with the adrenaline and emotions from this tough loss against Tufts, they are hoping to come back with a win.


Foreign Language Spotlight: Khouloud Gargouri

This week, I had a chance to sit down with Khouloud Gargouri and ask her a few questions about her background in French, her home country of Tunisia, and how the French language functions in the cultural landscape of Tunisia.

Gargouri is a Teaching Assistant in the French and Francophone studies department and this is both her first year at Bates and her first time teaching in America. Gargouri is from Tunisia, where the official spoken language is Tunisian Arabic. Among other languages, some of the children in Tunisia learn French.

While Gargouri was growing up, her mother was a French teacher and taught her French from a very young age. Gargouri  explained that she really admired her mother when she was younger because of the activities she did with her students. Her mother incorporated elements of theatre, poetry, cinema, and music into her teaching of French to enhance students’ understanding of both Tunisian and French culture. Gargouri tries to do utilize the same tactics in the French classes she teaches at Bates, as well. She explained that she exposes students to cultural elements of both countries to encourage students to compare the two. Doing so, she says, reveals that the “context, history, and literature” of both countries are drastically different.

When teaching about Francophone culture, Gargouri strives to raise an awareness about Tunisian culture. Specifically, she wants to “show that French and Francophone culture are not just about France… they’re about the influence of French in Maghreb countries where French is spoken as a main language.”

Gargouri aims to teach students that Tunisia is “more modern than one might think.”

She explained that the Jasmine Revolution, which started the Arab Spring in 2011, ushered in “more freedom to express opinions” in the country. She even listed some of the many modern policies recently enacted in the country, such as the abolishment of laws that prevented Tunisian women from marrying non-Muslim men and laws that previously granted men a larger sum of their parent’s inheritance than their sisters. Additionally, she feels that compared to “other Maghreban countries or the Arabic world,” the arts community in Tunisia is much more developed and commented on the quality of Tunisian theatre and film.

As to the role French plays in the cultural landscape of Tunisia, I learned that the language is taught as a subject in Tunisian high schools. However, Gargouri  explained that “French is highly spoken by ‘la bourgeoisie,’ or the rich people.” She described one’s ability to speak French as a symbol of status, saying that “it’s basically something that people can afford to give a sense of French civilization to their kids.” Unfortunately, this creates a disparity between the upper and lower classes in Tunisia when it comes to access to education.

Simply put, Gargouri said that “farmers don’t speak French.” This is detrimental because speaking French grants students wider range of job opportunities in the professional world.

Through her work as a high school teacher in the poorer regions of Tunisia, Gargouri found that her students “aren’t as motivated to learn French as [the students] in the city… because their parents are farmers… so it’s not seen as important.”

Unequal access to language education isn’t confined to the classroom, either. Gargouri revealed that some students suffer by missing out on cultural exposure to French because “their parents don’t speak French with them at home, they don’t watch French TV shows, and they don’t watch the news in French.” Because of the unequal learning opportunities in some areas of Tunisia, Gargouri strived to instill a love and passion for the language in her high school students in the classroom.

Eventually, Gargouri plans to earn a PhD and study to become a professor. For now, she is excited to continue teaching in the French and Francophone Studies Department at Bates.

She says that teaching is much more than just “giving knowledge” to the students, she feels her job as a TA is a two-way street and loves learning from students’ questions and interests, “I enjoy it so much. It motivates me, it makes me feel productive to learn and teach at the same time.”

Midnight Meow and VCS Spark New Era

This past Thursday, I found myself drinking chai and waiting for a new performance in the Benjamin E. Mays Center. As it has been for the past number of years, VCS was consistent – at 9 p.m. of Thursday, January 18, the audience welcomed two violinists with applause. Midnight Meow started their performance strong, with “We’re Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes. The violinists Jonathan Chan and Jan Bislin mixed the picking and bowing of the strings and created a textural interpretation of the slow-paced, sweet song. I expected the night to go on to be a simple but delicate acoustic interpretation of classic songs punctuated by sips of my warm beverage.

This was not always the case; in between songs the duo was quite awkward. They talked about travelling and their hotel and about how, after the White Stripes song, we were already friends, but nothing that really hooked my attention. “Do they even know each other?” Sydney Anderson ’20 whispered to me when the performers started to stumble over each other. At first, their lack of coordination between songs was funny, but became less so over time. They shared their social media tags and whatever once towards the beginning of their set and then some six other times over the course of the night (@midnightmeowofficial for Instagram, if you were wondering).

The second interpretation by the duo was “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. Much like the first song, the performers started softly and progressively eased their way into a lively crescendo. “They are good!” Khouloud Gargouri, French and Francophone Studies Teaching Assistant, told me while we refilled our cups of chai.

The duo’s interpretation of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” once sung by Nancy Sinatra was particularly interesting, since the duo played it all in one violin. There was a playfulness in seeing four hands and two bows moving through the tiny instrument. Towards the end of the night, Midnight Meow performed a quick improvisation piece based on audience suggestions: love and breakups. Gargouri mentioned that this part specially stuck out to her, “They make us part of their experimentation,” she told me after the show was over. “You feel the story in the way they play with each part of their body,” Gargouri emphasized the authenticity of live performances. I personally thought that part was a bit forced but interesting nevertheless.

I am a fan of VCS; everyone knows what is and when it is. While some performances are undeniably more memorable than others, I think VCS is one of the most reliable social events at Bates. Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Dressler, direct advisor of the Village Club Series Crew, is constantly seeking to make it better for students. In regard to VCS, he said, “it was very clear to me that it was an important part of the student experience, part of the cultural fabric of the college.”

VCS has a long history and this year is its 25th anniversary, which means a quarter of a century of performances and student participation. I couldn’t help but wonder what VCS would be like in the years to come. Dressler shared with me that, when he arrived, it stood out to him that the most common performances at VCS were by folk artists. “Having only been at the college for 1.5 years, it’s hard to say what VCS will look like for the next 25… But I can tell you what to expect while I’m at Bates: variety,” he clarified, when I asked him about the future of the series. “It is my belief that VCS should embody the mission of the college by exposing attendees to performers from ​as many backgrounds and walks of life as possible;​ a diverse array of genres, and ​different kinds of performance types,” said Dressler.

Midnight Meow was not my favorite group, but I always appreciate live performances and the intimate space of VCS. I am genuinely excited to see other art forms and performers join the stage and share their stories with the Bates community. I also look forward to seeing more of the incredible performances I’ve seen in the past. Dressler confirms, “For those who are reading this who are avid VCS attendees: don’t be fearful of change – we’re still going to have our ‘regulars’ – in fact, Tall Heights is coming this week on the 25th!”

Suggestions to VCS can be submitted at

Jonathan Chan and Jan Bislin play the song “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” by Nancy Sinatra, on one violin. JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT


Think Beyond the 24-Hour News Cycle

The twenty-four-hour news cycle is an idea ingrained in the nature of modern day reporting. With all the social media platforms that disseminate news, in addition to the websites of each newspaper giant, stories cross a screen as fast as users can click a button. But is this breakneck pace really good for the world’s understanding and   internationalizing of the news?

Having fast and secure access to breaking events is necessary to keep the world informed. According to The New York Post, Americans check their phones an average of once every twelve minutes, eighty times per day. When looking at their screens, people are checking out the latest photos on their social media accounts, looking at what their friends are up to, or maybe texting to coordinate plans. In any of those interactions, people are either reading or hearing about the news and the trending stories of a given day.

In their hearts, people are curious – but that trait can also lead to being interested in reading the most gruesome stories. No one wants to hear that a cat was successfully rescued from a tree. Boring, right? People want to hear that there were twelve kittens dangling precariously from said tree and that shirtless firemen with eight-pack abs had to dive-roll to save the helpless, though cute, baby animals. Granted, that is a rather flamboyant example, but imagine the clicks a story like that would get.

But think about North Korea. Everyone knew the second the North Koreans fired a ballistic missile test over Japan; it was splattered across every new source. But, when the two Koreas decide to march under one flag at the PyeongCheng opening ceremonies, that headline is splashed across outlets, then quickly cycled out. If you Google North Korea right now, countless articles concerning their missiles and ideas of how to combat the country pop up. But you would have to dig around, or type in a more specialized phrase into the browser, to get to the aforementioned flag story. Maybe the question of twenty-four-hour news is a merely a product of Google or Apple’s browser algorithm, not with an intrinsic norm of twenty-first century news.

Having news and information so readily accessible can change the way we regular people read it and think about the impact it has on government planning. Imagine: what would have happened if a Roman farmer took a selfie with Caesar casually crossing the Rubicon in the background and posted it to Twitter? Well, an analyst working for the Roman Senate would have passed the information along to their supervisor and there would have been time to prepare a more effective counter strike. Maybe Caesar would have been defeated. This is a hyperbolic example to be sure, but I say it with the hopes that it will convey the potentially history-alternating nature of real-time publication of facts.

The primary function of news sources, this paper included, is to disseminate facts and to educate the public. Technology allows new sources to broadcast those stories at an exponentially faster rate than was ever possible in the past. Now, there are so many more stories at everyone’s fingertips; someone in New York can know what is happening on the streets of Kabul, a German reader can know that Prime Minister of New Zealand is pregnant—there are infinite examples.

With the rate at which new stories come to light, older, though not any less relevant, ones can be thrust aside. While we consume newer and newer headlines, we should not forget about the enduring humanitarian crises or fallouts from natural disasters that need our constant support and attention. We have to remember the news from days, months, and weeks ago.  It is not any less pertinent, although it may be somewhat less accessible.

Douglass Morency: New Director of Security Champions Dialogue

On November 15, 2017, Douglass Morency started as Bates College’s new director of campus safety. Taking over from interim head, Paul Menice, Morency hopes to bring a fresh, new set of ideas to Bates security.

Born in Haiti, Morency moved to northern Virginia at a young age when his mother got a job at the World Bank. “I grew up Virginia in a very eclectic neighborhood and school system,” Morency remarked. “I was in school with everybody from all walks of life. Very working class growing up, I was always involved with different groups, whether it was cub scouts or church groups, athletics.”   

From his own experiences being mentored by such a supportive group of people, community engagement was always high on Morency’s list of priorities. “One thing I knew about myself was that I love working with people and with everyone helping me out and keeping me on the right path, I wanted to do the same and pay it forward.” This mindset propelled him to his first career on the Washington D.C. police force after graduating from Howard University.

Pivoting out of that field, he then went to work security at a private school in northern Virginia, implementing new protocols surrounding active shooter events and emergency responses. But then he spotted the Bates job announcement looking for the new head of security.

For Morency, “It was the first time I had ever seen a job announcement being framed in the sense of community, outreach and supporting students from different walks and students from the LGBTQ+ community, just working outside the scope of your title and just being part of the community. I said this is me, this is what I want.”

Though he has only been on campus for a few short months, Morency is already working to implement his own security philosophy. When asked what that means to him, Morency answered, “My focus is more supporting the students and to make sure that they have the good college experience they are here to have. Along the way if issues arise, you know, try to figure out how to take care of them and to really find a learning opportunity with those situations and to move forward. I think for me, also makeing sure that whoever we are dealing with has their dignity is intact once we’re done and there’s respect that is given on both ends. We must look at it through a lens of understanding and compassion and trying to find a way through it.”

It seems that Morency opts for a policy of transparency and aims for easy relations with the student body. Students come to Bates, and any college really, looking for an experience that will be enriching both academically and socially.  Morency aims to support students in all those endeavors.

When asked how he found the Bates student body and community, he answered without a pause. “They’re nice,” he plainly informed me. At the start of his career here at Bates, it is clear that both the students and the administration are working to create a cohesive and symbiotic relationship with the new head of security.

Strengthening the student-security relationship is high on Morency’s to-do list. Last semester on a snowy day before finals week, security had a pop-up cocoa stand for students outside of commons. There were even security members who came in on their day off to help distribute the chocolaty treat to stressed students walking into Commons.   

Talking about his team, Morency noted that there is a lot of longevity there. But as retirements approach, he is not opposed to diversifying the force.

In the more immediate case, security is “expanding the safe rides program. By doing that we are going to add two more driving positions, non-security, not uniformed, just driving positions to help with transporting students around campus and some locals off campus. When it’s time to go out there and roll it out, I’d like to talk to folks in the community, do a little presentation and tell them about Bates. If there’s a group…[of single moms like what his mother had] in Lewiston I will found out and I will go to those groups and say ‘hey we have these jobs and this is what we’re offering, this is what the community is like,  this is what our approach is.’”  Gaining some minority and female perspective on the force would be a welcome addition.

So far, things are off to a great start. Time will tell of all the lasting impression Douglass Morency has on the Bates community.


Captain Fantastic is Truly Fantastic

In the current political climate, many of the governmental actions have left a majority of the population in the United States despondent over the state of our nation. A blanket of corrupt capitalism, greed, and an overall lack of professionalism on Capitol Hill continues to smother the hope and choke the optimism from parents, caregivers, and children; it knows no class, age, gender, or race. At times, it seems as though this toxic environment that our government has become will lead to the inevitable downfall of not only the ideas on which the United States was established, but also on those we have come to endorse over generations: empathy, acceptance, love, and understanding. In an ideal world, an escape from politics would prove a saving grace for humanity.

In Matt Ross’s 2014 film, Captain Fantastic, Ben Cash and his six children do just this.

Cash, played by actor Viggo Mortensen, and his wife Leslie decide to move their family of eight into a self-sustained homestead in the Washington Mountains. The children are homeschooled, live without technology, and rely completely on each other for survival. Having refused the bureaucratic capitalism that dominated mainstream society, the pair raised their children in values of liberal philosophers and humanitarians. Having sought escape from the oppressive society in which they previously perpetuated, Cash and Leslie have created a kind of paradise all their own, deep within the untamed wild of Washington. Everything is perfect for the Cash family in their own bubble of learning and support. Then, the unthinkable happens.

After receiving a phone call, Cash leaves his family’s sanctuary and ventures into urban New Mexico in order to visit his wife, who has been staying in a mental hospital while dealing with suicidal ideation associated with bipolar disorder. Although viewers never meet Leslie

Cash, it is implied that while she initiated her family’s move to the mountains, she has spent several months struggling with her mental health in a treatment facility prior to the beginning of the film. Upon his return to his children in Washington, Cash announces that Leslie has taken her own life, and that their maternal grandparents do not wish for Cash and his children to attend her funeral. However, as Cash notes, Leslie was a Buddhist and wished to be cremated upon her death; as Leslie’s parents are strict Christians, they intend to host a traditional service with a burial. Feeling compelled to honor her request, Cash and his children embark to New Mexico on “Operation: Rescue Mom.”

Much of the film chronicles the Cash family’s journey into mainstream society in their efforts to fulfill Leslie’s last wishes. During this time, the family must rely on their intense bonds with each other as they struggle to navigate a foreign world of virtual violence and materialism.

Over the course of the film, several of Cash’s children question his teachings and their way of life in comparing it to that of their grandparents and cousins. Ultimately, Cash must reconcile with his decisions to raise his family sans technology.

Captain Fantastic is not only a touching story of human loss and redemption, but also one of the power of family and its many facets. Viggo Mortensen portrays the subtle complexities associated with regret, caring, hopelessness, and family so artfully; his acting is not overbearing so much as it creates a multilayered character with an idealistic worldview who must face reality, and with it anguish, doubt, and grief. Writer Matt Ross excellently highlights the intricacies in the unique family dynamic shared by the Cashes, while also injecting bits of realism that allow viewers to sympathize with the many challenges that Ben and his children face throughout the film. Additionally, the portrayal of a family completely separated from the technology that isolates us forces viewers to question their lives. Can a family living in such isolation be more in touch with human emotion than those who are caught in society’s web? This question prompts a critical analysis of our modern lifestyle; inventions intended to bring us together often erect invisible walls between us.

Captain Fantastic is an incredibly well produced story of the bonds that hold families together, and the hope and strength that emanate from them in times of strife. As visually striking as it is thought provoking, Captain Fantastic is a modern film that forces us to question our motives in this age of technology, capitalism, corruption, and overall hopelessness, while also providing shining rays of faith for humanity throughout.


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