The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Alex Daugherty (Page 1 of 8)

Think before you party, themes can hurt

Organizing and attending parties is one of the main ways people socialize at any college. It’s how we bond with friends, meet new people, and strengthen our sense of community on campus. But when we are partying and simultaneously making fun of a certain demographic we do not identify with, it becomes classism, racism, and ethnocentrism, and it’s not cool.

Over the past couple of months, we have seen and heard about theme parties on and off-campus that make fun of and misrepresent certain marginalized groups of people. On more than one occasion there have been social gatherings involving a “white trash” theme. We understand that the intentions of a “white trash” theme party are not meant to be offensive. Dressing up in clothes we don’t typically wear is fun because it’s exciting to do something different. Plus, when planning outfits together it creates camaraderie and a chance for new friendships to be made.

We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. We too have participated in theme parties that may have misrepresented and mocked groups of marginalized people in the past. All we want to do is start a conversation. Let’s take a minute to really think about the implications of parties that clearly mock people who have been subject to generational poverty and degradation in America. What is being said when predominantly middle to upper class students wear jorts, trucker hats, and wife-beaters? What does “white trash” even mean? Who is “white trash”? And more importantly, why do we think it’s funny to dress up like “white trash”?

For the most part, “white trash” is not a term we would use to label Bates students. And for the most part, we think we can all agree it’s a term that labels a group of people struggling to overcome poverty who are probably unable to attend academic institutions like Bates. Do we need to remind you of our through-the-roof tuition?

By dressing up in costumes portraying this specific demographic of marginalized Americans, we are perpetuating widespread stereotypes of poor, uneducated whites. These stereotypes further alienate poor whites from middle-class whites. In doing so we are creating distinct class identities, rather than one unified American national identity. The term “white trash,” like all the costumes that go along with it, separates a population who physically, emotionally, or economically fail to measure up to standards of the middle class. When middle to upper-class students, which is predominantly what the Bates student body is comprised of, dress up as “white trash,” we are distinguishing ourselves and proudly saying “we are not ‘white trash.’” When we dress up in these costumes, we are having fun at the expense of the people we are ridiculing; we are taking pleasure in thinking we’re superior to poor working class whites.

As Bates students, we have a responsibility to carry out the Bates mission to “engage the transformative power of our differences, cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action.” By organizing “white trash” parties and furthering these misrepresentations, we aren’t cultivating civic action–we’re destroying it.

As students attending a progressive liberal arts college, we need to embrace and respect the differences of all human beings. Instead of dressing up as marginalized groups of people for fun, we need to question our actions and the ways in which we are partying. We aren’t saying we should stop having theme parties. Theme parties are great. But there are countless themes that don’t make fun of other people’s circumstances. Let’s think about themes for social gatherings that don’t isolate and make fun of marginalized groups of people. Let’s have these conversations and talk about how we can promote the understanding of all different races, religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic classes.

Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine statement on eviction notices

Last night, around 500 students at Bates received mock eviction notices posted on their doors. We, the Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine, joined other university campus movements and participated in distributing these notices to raise awareness of the regular practice of home eviction as a part of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The purpose of this action was to raise awareness of the reality that affects hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. While the response that students may have experienced pales in comparison to the experiences of Palestinians, our goal is to compel students to think empathetically about the violence that we are complicit in as Americans and as students at an academic institution invested in the state of Israel.
We want this to be a part of a larger conversation about political apathy and the myth of neutrality at Bates and elsewhere, especially with regards to Israel and Palestine, but not excluding other resistance movements across the world. We hope you will join us for an open and critical discussion about home demolition and the egregious colonial exploitation of Palestinian bodies and land. We also encourage you to start conversations about Palestine that venture outside of conventional Western narratives.

Constructive action, concrete change: J Street U takes on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Last week, students across campus awoke to find mock eviction notices taped to their doors, which members of Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine (SPJP) had posted the night before. These notices ordered students to “vacate the premises,” as their dorms were “scheduled for demolition,” a comparison to similar practices used by the Israeli government in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. SPJP notes that these “forced evictions are devastating,” as are many other daily realities for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

J Street U agrees that these practices are violent, immoral, and horrifying, and we agree that the occupation must end. However, we do not believe that mock evictions, or similar antagonistic actions, move us toward this goal. In fact, these actions serve to further polarize students and further entrench an increasingly one-sided and hostile situation. It is vitally important to confront and think deeply about these controversial issues, but not in such a way that inhibits critical thinking. Now more than ever, dialogue and constructive, meaningful action are absolutely crucial.

J Street U at Bates seeks to move beyond the typically polarized discourse that so often plagues conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are a group of students from all walks of life who are as equally committed to ending Israeli occupation as we are to ensuring Israel’s existence as a Jewish and Democratic state. We believe that the only just way to ensure dignity and security for both Israelis and Palestinians is the creation of an independent state of Palestine alongside Israel. As one of over sixty J Street U campus chapters across the country, a national student movement actively working for American support for a negotiated two-state solution, we educate, advocate, and take action for freedom, justice, and peace.

Unfortunately, conversations at Bates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are rarely two-sided. Op-eds are written, flyers are posted, and people yell back and forth, forcing students to choose sides. The lack of nuance surrounding this issue is astonishing, especially at Bates, an institution that claims to value diversity of thought and intellectualism. It’s about time this campus moved past the status quo of two sides volleying back and forth with one another. It’s about time we all reminded ourselves that we don’t want to just talk about the conflict, we want to end it. J Street U students recognize this, and stand firmly as pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and most importantly, pro-peace.

Tired of so much antagonistic rhetoric, we are choosing to take concrete action and support activism of individuals on the ground in the region. Starting this Short Term and continuing into next fall, J Street U at Bates will be collaborating with EcoPeace Middle East, a grassroots organization jointly run by Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian environmental activists. We hope to raise at least $1,000 to benefit communities in the Gaza Strip, desperately in need of clean water in the wake of last summer’s war.

Working closely with BEAM and the Environmental Coalition, we also hope to educate ourselves and the broader Bates community about the complex interaction between environmental issues and political conflict.

Now, we recognize that this small initiative will not end the conflict, but we see it as an important way to support everyday people whose lives and homes have been destroyed by this conflict. Rather than polarize a campus with inflammatory actions that have no clear impact on the ground, J Street U is taking a concrete step toward cleaner water, increased dialogue and communication across borders, and ultimately a safer and more peaceful future. Join us.

Bernie Sanders can stir the political pot

On April 12th, Hillary Clinton posted an official video announcing her presidential campaign to the delight of millions nationwide. Political gurus marveled at the early polls, with Hillary holding a clear majority, robustly supported by the vast majority of Democratic voters. With no other significant threats in her sight, Hillary seemed to be the likely Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016.

This all changed when the 73-year-old Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders officially announced his presidential campaign on April 20th. Bernie has earned a reputation in Congress for being the longest-serving Independent in U.S. Congressional history. While there had been talk of the senator from Vermont running for President, it seemed highly unlikely that he had any chance of gaining any serious attention, never mind winning the 2016 Presidential Election. If Sanders were to run, the common fear arose that this left-leaning Independent would steal votes that would otherwise be going to the Democratic Party, or in other words, to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders surprised many when he stated that was going to be running under the Democratic Party, given that one does not technically have to be registered with a particular party to run under that party’s ticket for nomination. His choice to run as a Democrat, he explained, is based on his desire to appear in the debates that will be nationally televised. And the only way he would be able to appear in these debates is if one is running for the Democratic or Republican Party.

One of Sanders’s most passionate positions is against income inequality in the United States, something that he believes arises largely as a result of the large concentrations of wealth held by the wealthiest of the country.

Sanders explains, “99% of all new income is going to the top 1%.” This might be one of the most important distinguishing factors between him and Hillary. He has mentioned, time and time again, that the largest reason he was weary of running was because he wouldn’t be able to raise nearly as much money as Hillary would, given her ties with the 1% that Sanders so passionately bashes.

Pointing out the state of the nation, one in which a few key players on Wall Street dictate the winners of any given election, Sanders has called for a grassroots movement featuring local communities coming together to keep money out of politics. Even the bottom of his campaign site proudly boasts, “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (Not the Billionaires).”

Sanders has promised to never accept any corporate money or super-PAC funds, yet still was able to raise over $1.5-million within 24 hours of announcing his campaign from donors, thereby exceeding the amounts raised by GOP candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul in their first day of running.

Receiving national attention for his speech in 2010 on the Senate floor lasting over eight hours, Sanders declared, “Enough is enough! How many homes can you own?” This episode cast the Senator into the spotlight as a champion for ending economic disparities, eventually leading to him gaining the support of an entire movement. For the first time, Occupy Wall Street has chosen to officially endorse a presidential candidate publicly.

While even Sanders enthusiasts are skeptical of his realistic chances of ever becoming President of the United States, he will serve as an important leftist voice during the upcoming election, one in which he will be able to argue on behalf of those who do want a drastic change. If anything, Sanders will force Hillary to address topics that may even push her platform more to the left, ranging from her decision to support the Iraq War compared to his staunch opposition as well as to her ties with Wall Street.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Hillary and other candidates will need to prepare to face a candidate who isn’t afraid to blatantly state his views and call out politicians for their transgressions.

Passionate about all things, Sanders explains how he doesn’t participate in personal attacks, stating, “I’ve never run a negative ad in my life… I hate and detest these 30-second, ugly negative ads.”

Sanders is not going to be playing the games classically associated with campaign season. He is in it to win it. And as the Twitter hashtag has begun to promote, it is time for the other presidential candidates to prepare themselves to “Feel the Bern.”

Show me the money

The Model United Nations club at Bates is not very large. We have about eight members spread across each class year. However, what we lack in size, we more than make up for in passion. Our club loves to travel, debate, make friends, and compete with other schools. Through our discussions about international justice and development we have become more responsible global citizens and more engaged students. We understand that due to our size we will not always be preferred when it comes to budget allocation. However, we have a reasonable ambition each year: to attend one conference. On Monday evening, that ambition was shattered. That was the night I received our budget for the 2015-2016 school year. Along with a general cut of about 5% which was applied to all clubs, our hotel and transportation funds were completely removed. These cuts represent more than a 50 percent reduction in our budget. Please take a minute to fully appreciate the impact of a 50 percent reduction in funds. It is more than just annoyance; it is, in effect, a death sentence. This year, our club was hard-pressed to attend our conference, even with the “full” budget. Members paid for all parking, food, and gasoline expenses out-of-pocket. Losing half of our budget means that the Model UN club is over at Bates College.

When pressed, the budget committee will stammer, claiming that they expect us to pursue Cosponsorship. The Cosponsorship process essentially entails begging our student government to give funds as needed, when the deadlines to a given expense comes closer. This response is a non-sequitur. Not only does it push costs up by making payments dangerously close to deadlines, it insults the identity of what student activities is supposed to represent. Every year we would be required to justify our own existence to a student government who, with a stroke of a pen, could destroy our club’s aspirations. The security of a club should not change upon the whims of non-affected students who have won a popularity contest. Clubs who have demonstrated their worth to the campus and have attracted a dedicated membership should be given the chance to succeed, period. How can I justify advertising to new students when our club, by default, is not able to do anything? I can only imagine the barriers for any bright-eyed student with the ambition of starting a new club. If the cuts to current clubs are any significant indication of how desperate our Student Activities Fund is, I expect funds for new clubs to be close to nothing.

We are not the only ones. Across campus last Monday night, almost all clubs were devastated by draconian cuts to their budgets. My question then is the following: where is the money? Our tuition rates consistently go up. Our budget allocation for existing clubs consistently goes down. Is it really the case that costs are so high that the college needs to both raise revenue AND reduce relative spending for student clubs? If it is a fact that budget allocation has been diluted by a huge influx of new clubs, why can’t the absolute value of our Student Activities Fund increase to at least maintain the status quo? After all, it should not be the case that, for example, a new videogame club takes away funding from an existing chess club. There is no transparency regarding the spending of our college and it is sickening.

I can tell you where the money has not been going. It has not been going to our academic education. Where are the professors that our college desperately needs? Every student at Bates knows that the highly touted 10-1 student ratio is at best a distortion of the truth and at worst an outright falsehood. If you are unlucky enough to be interested in a popular major, brace yourself for 4 years of petitioning and 30 plus-student classes. Due to their relative popularity, majors such as economics and neuroscience have even removed their thesis requirements, a staple of the Bates education, simply because they do not have enough manpower to provide every student with a thesis experience. Many departments have not changed their overall faculty numbers in decades, despite enormous changes to interests and major distributions. Bates has no politics, economics, biology, psychology, sociology, biochemistry, English, art & visual culture, or environmental studies minor. Bates has no computer science major (a school for the coming times indeed). Bates has no international relations major. There are huge gaps in our academic repertoire that the college has shown little indication of filling despite huge decreases in the relative funding for student activities.

But instead of addressing budget concerns, our administration seems to be spending its time playing office politics and antagonizing the student body. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard students (seniors in particular) say that they are either not donating or are less enthusiastic to donate. And who can blame them? Our college has shown itself to be incapable of spending its money wisely while at the same time demonizing student traditions. Sneer all you want at the Trick-or-Drink protests, they perfectly epitomize the state of relations between administration and students: a student body that is fed up of being patronized and an administration who thinks they can purchase good will from Papa John’s. This sort of attitude exacerbates our budget crisis, and our administration has not put forth any genuine concession to salvage the relationship. The RA’s recent vote of no confidence is evidence of how drastic the situation has become, although the RA betrays the stature of its office when it states that its vote has no “practical weight”.

Speaking of student government, what is the stance of SG on this issue? Where is the outrage from our campus leaders? I am calling on all members of student government to challenge the administration on its spending priorities. It seems that money is not being allocated according to students’ best interests and the college needs to explain why such an assessment is mistaken. I have treasured my experience with Model UN and I’m sure many of you feel the same way about the activities in your clubs. It would be a shame if we resign ourselves to lose future friends and experiences just because nobody is willing to fight for them.

Penobscot community organizer cuts ties with Bates

The Penobscot Nation’s ongoing lawsuit against the State of Maine has significant ramifications for Bates. Senior Lecturer of Anthropology Bruce Bourque is testifying on behalf of the state in the lawsuit, providing evidence that the Penobscot Nation never had legal claims to the Penobscot River. Recently, Maria Girouard, the Community Organizer with the Penobscot Nation, declined to visit Bates due to her concerns over Bourque’s role in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, first filed by the Penobscot Nation against then-Maine State Attorney General William Schneider in August 2012, argues that the Penobscot Nation should have territorial rights over the Penobscot River. Schneider sent an opinion to the Penobscot Nation stating that the Penobscots’ territory only includes the islands in the river and does not include the river itself.

While the lawsuit does not mention pollution or discharge rights on the Penobscot River, municipalities along the river are worried that a victory by the Penobscot Nation could have a significant impact on their ability to use the river for storm and industrial runoff.

Two weeks ago, the town of Orono withdrew from the lawsuit after arguments were made by the local Penobscot community. Orono was one of 18 municipalities situated along the Penobscot River listed as an intervenor in the suit on the side of the state, since the town discharges waste and runoff into the river. The decision to withdraw from the lawsuit by Orono officials was seen as a victory for the Penobscot Nation.

Recently at Bates, Girouard declined to visit Professor Ethan Miller’s Environmental Studies class out of protest of Bourque’s involvement on behalf of the State of Maine in the lawsuit. Girouard previously co-taught a Short Term class with History Professor Joe Hall. Girouard claims that the state’s lawsuit constitutes theft of the Penobscot River and that Bourque’s involvement is disrespectful of the tribe.

The March 11th edition of The Student contained an article titled “Penobscot Nation stakes claim of river, conflicts with Bates professor.” This article contained factual errors and did not reach out to anyone associated with the Penobscot Nation. Below is an interview with Maria Girouard. An interview with Professor Bruce Bourque will be published online at a later date. Bourque was contacted for this article, but is in the process of cross-checking his responses to the interview with the Attorney General’s Office.

What’s your role with Penobscot Nation and the ongoing lawsuit?

I am Panawapskewi (a Penobscot person – or more literally in our language, I am a person from the rocky place in the River).  I’m a citizen of Penobscot Nation, an environmental activist, a peace advocate, and a Penobscot historian. In the past, I served the Nation as director of their Cultural & Historic Preservation Department (2006 – 2011).  I also served a 2-year term on Penobscot Tribal Council (2012- 2014).

What connection do you have to Bates?

I have had a long history with Bates. Formerly as the director of Cultural & Historic Preservation department for the Penobscot Nation, I hosted numerous student groups at Penobscot Nation; I forged a great working relationship with Professor Joe Hall; and even had a Bates student work in my department one summer as an intern.  Following my tenure as cultural director, I continued to engage with Bates, coming often to be a guest speaker in classes, and I co-taught Wabanaki History with Professor Hall last Spring term.

What do recent developments with the Orono Town Council have on the ongoing lawsuit regarding fishing rights?

Two weeks ago in a unanimous decision, Orono Town Council voted in committee to begin initial steps for withdrawing as interveners in the Penobscot River case.  The committee met at the urging of Orono residents who were upset to learn their town was named as one of 18 interveners in litigation against Penobscot Nation their neighbors. Other towns who have been dragged into the case include Bucksport, Brewer, East Millinocket, Millinocket, Howland, Lincoln, and Mattawamkeag.

Several towns have been seduced into joining the case by a fear-mongering attorney infamous for representing polluting industries. All speakers urged the town to withdraw.  The council plans to investigate necessary steps for withdrawing and will update on its progress at the next council meeting on Monday, April 6, 2015.

Does the lawsuit aim to radically change the discharge regulations for towns along the river, or is it more important for the Penobscot Nation to gain control over fishing rights?

The original U.S. District Court case, Penobscot Nation v. Mills has nothing to do with regulating discharge.  It is in direct response to the state government attempting to redefine the ancient Penobscot Indian reservation.  In August 2012, Penobscot Chief and Council received a letter from state government stating that it was the state’s interpretation that the Penobscot reservation, which is comprised of over 200 islands in the Penobscot River, did NOT include the Water! Penobscot Nation placed the issue with a federal court in order to protect our territory.  This legal battle is a territorial dispute and a fishing rights dispute.

Recently, another issue has cropped up between the state and the tribes, and it is happening simultaneously, and [it is] confusing (and scaring!) a lot of people.  Additionally, this issue involves the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  In an effort that has been considered “escalating the battle,” the state has been ordered to take measures to improve water quality on the Penobscot River, so that Penobscots can enjoy their inherent right to sustenance hunt and fish within their reservation territory.  Instead of complying with the order, the State of Maine told [the] EPA that they have no intentions of following the order, and in fact, have notified them (the EPA) that the state plans to sue them instead.  In essence, Maine is suing, using tax payers dollars, for the right to continue to pollute and poison the Penobscot River!  In any case, the state of Maine seems hell-bent on seizing Penobscot waters.

Could you describe your issues with Professor Bruce Bourque’s testimony on behalf of the state of Maine for this lawsuit?  

My issue with Bourque providing “expert” testimony is that he is no expert and he has no respect in tribal communities because of his narrow theories and the consequences that they have.  His theory regarding the Red Paint People, for example, has allowed the Maine State Museum, where he is curator, to keep ancestral remains and not release them to the tribes for proper re-burial, because he theorizes that the Red Paint People were some mysterious, vanishing race, and that the current Wabanaki only recently moved into this territory. This goes directly against and undermines our traditional cultural teachings.  It is considered incredibly disrespectful.

As an anthropologist, it doesn’t seem he would even be qualified to speak about relatively recent history; the fact that he is associated with the State of Maine as a curator in their museum makes me question whether this is a conflict of interest.  I sent an email expressing my disappointment to President Spencer, Crystal Williams Chief Diversity Officer, as well as Loring Danforth, [the] Chair of Anthropology, when I learned the news. Of course Bourque was defended based on academic freedom, but to me it’s still shocking what someone can get away with in the name of academia – even committing genocide against indigenous peoples by stealing all that defines their culture… in this case, the Penobscot River away from the Penobscots.

What has led you to decline visiting Bates campus?

Just the fact that he [Bourque] is there makes me literally sick to my stomach. What he is doing to the Penobscots is beyond egregious. I decline visiting Bates because he is there.

What do you want Bates students to know about the case?

That this case is incredibly serious and a major crisis for Penobscot Nation.  It is with no exaggeration, a fight for our cultural survival.

Is there anything that can be done to repair relations between Bates and the Penobscot Nation?

I’m not sure, but it certainly is not the primary concern of Penobscot Nation right now.  We are currently “in the trenches” defending our territory against state-sponsored theft.  Bates is not our concern at the moment.

Do you believe that Professor Bourque is entitled to his opinions regarding Penobscot water rights?

Anyone is entitled to an opinion, but as an educated professional, his words hold extra weight.  In my opinion, he is not qualified to speak about Penobscot water rights. It baffles me why he would be considered an “expert witness.”

What would make you reverse your recent decision not to visit Bates?

Unfortunately, I cannot think of anything at this point in time that would cause me to change my mind about not visiting Bates. Although I did just recently receive a very touching email from one of my spring term students that moved me and it was greatly appreciated.

Overflow house burgled

Senior Michelle Pham thought something was amiss when she heard noises coming from the first floor of her house at 350 College Street without her roommates greeting her. Her suspicions were confirmed an hour later when junior Nancy Tran returned to the house to find that her room had been pilfered.

“For some reason—probably a matter of divine intervention—I didn’t open my door as we almost always do 99 percent of the time when we hear one another come home to say hello and to ask about each other’s days,” Pham said. “If I had done that, I would have definitely encountered the thief/thieves who were daring enough to come into our house when there was someone clearly at home.”

After Tran and senior Rokya Samake returned home to find their belongings strewn about or missing, the trio immediately contacted Bates Security.

“They searched our backyard, called the police as back-up and got us to come downstairs and to stay in the Bates Security SUV until the police and Bates Security were able to verify that the thief/thieves were no longer in the house,” Pham said. The Lewiston Police brought in a dog and searched the yard for traces of the thieves. The burglars gained entry through the back door, a door that does not have electronic key card access.

“We believe that’s why they targeted us because our house is right across from Page Hall,” Pham said. “We also thought that it was extremely bold of the burglar to break into the house despite knowing that someone was at home, because they could have just taken the TV and left but they came all the way upstairs into our bedrooms while I was at home.”

Pham was playing music and all of the lights were on in the house at the time of the incident. Two wallets, a TV, and other personal items are missing. “We do not know what they were looking for since what they stole was an unusual assortment of things,” Pham said.

According to Pham, no suspects have been identified and the investigation is ongoing.

Bates Security did not issue an alert to students after the burglary. “Every such instance is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if a warning should be issued because it is a serious and on-going threat,” Director of Security Tom Carey said. “In this instance, Security called for the LPD to clear the location to be on the safe side.” Since the police searched the area and Bates Security determined there was no active threat to students, an alert was not issued even though the perpetrator is still at large.

“They [Bates Security] came incredibly fast and got us out of the house immediately,” Pham said. “However, we think there needs to be more safety and security measures in the house. The Bates Residence Life Office is taking care of that today—very promptly after the matter.”

Carey reminds students to keep their valuables locked at all times.

“If something doesn’t seem right, call Security [at] 6111,” Carey said.

John Nolen Durkin triathlon set for May

Durkin Logo

A hike through the mountains became the spark of inspiration for seniors David Kurey and Reed Lewallen. “He [Lewallen] initially brought up the idea of having a triathlon at Bates, and then I brought in the idea of honoring John’s life with the event,” Kurey said. “When I was abroad, I knew I wanted to do something to remember John at Bates, and then when Reed brought up the idea it seemed perfect.”

John Durkin, a member of the class of 2015, tragically passed away while studying abroad in Rome last winter. A scholarship fund was set up by his parents, and Kurey wanted to raise more awareness about the fund on campus.

The triathlon will take place on May 17th from 8 A.M. until 12 P.M. Registration will cost $90 per threesome. A maximum of 48 teams can participate due to space constraints and the event will take place on campus.

The 625-meter swim will be held at Tarbell Pool, the 5k run will be held on campus, and the 9-mile bike ride will take place in the neighborhood across the street from Merrill Gym.

“The triathlon is a team-oriented triathlon where one person does each event,” Kurey said. “However, there is an option to sign up as a solo racer as well.”

Additionally, the Senior Gift Campaign has included the option of donating to the scholarship fund. Seniors can indicate that their gifts be directed to the scholarship fund instead of the senior gift fund, their gifts will still be counted for the total amount at the end of the year.

Currently, Kurey would like to see the triathlon raise $5,000 for the fund and to cover overhead costs.

The triathlon aims to raise money for the fund but more importantly aims to raise awareness for John’s life. “The event isn’t all about raising money,” Kurey said. “The scholarship already has a lot of money in it, and $5,000 would really be a drop in the bucket. Instead, I want this to be a recurring event at Bates with the main intention to remember and honor John’s life in a positive light.”

As an added incentive, the team which raises the most money for the fund receives a $150 gift card to Fuel, while the team which completes the triathlon in the shortest amount of time also receives a $150 gift card.

The day before the triathlon, the second annual John Durkin Softball Tournament will take place. Proceeds from that event will also go to the scholarship fund. “It will kind of be ‘John’s Weekend,’” Kurey said.

An announce email was sent to students last week with details of the triathlon, and signups are open until April 16th. When participants sign up, they will be given instructions on how to raise money.

“If people simply want to donate, go to the Bates Gift Page, enter the amount in the ‘other’ box, and then in the comments simply put ‘Durkin Triathlon,’” Kurey said.

Anyone who has further questions on the event or would like to volunteer should contact David Kurey at dkurey@bates.edu.

Sit-in draws scant attendance

A small group of students staged a “sit-in” at Pettengill Hall on Monday, urging President Clayton Spencer and Dean Josh McIntosh to sign a contract that aimed at increasing communication channels between students and the administration.

There were three main goals of the contract; reinstating the Dean’s Advisory Committee, creating a monthly open forum in which students can raise questions and concerns, and finding a way to communicate news with students that is more respectful and more efficient than an announce email.

“Josh was very open to the conversation, and agreed to the context of the contract,” junior Tommy Fitzgerald said. “[Vice President for Finance and Administration] Geoffrey Swift was accommodating to the students while waiting for Dean McIntosh to finish a meeting, and overall it was a really positive response.”

President Spencer was not present. While Dean McIntosh agreed with the stipulations of the contract in principle, he did not agree to sign the document.

“We want to open up a bigger highway between the administration and the student body,” Fitzgerald said.

After meeting in the Pettengill Hall Atrium, a small group of students ventured over to Lane Hall, where they waited to present the contract to Dean McIntosh, who was finishing a meeting.

“My initial response is good,” McIntosh said to the students in attendance when presented with the contract. “My question is how does what you are proposing fit into the landscape of student governance?”

The students present made it clear that the biweekly meetings are for all students and that there needs to be greater communication with students regarding changes that are made by the administration.

“I want to see biweekly meetings for students who may not want to actually speak to Josh and have the administration announce, face-to-face, what is going on,” senior Nicole Schlichting said. “This forum can also be used by the administration to fill us in on issues.”

“I’m here because of the departure of Dean Gurney and Tannenbaum,” senior Mark Charest said. “Dean Gurney can relate to students and has benefited me personally. I think students will suffer if a new person is brought in because it takes time to acclimate to the student body and a lot of new people.”

The attendees of the sit-in also felt that President Spencer’s email on Monday was a step in the right direction, signaling that the administration is willing to hear student voices when making decisions.

“I want to improve upon the culture we have without eliminating faculty members and social events,” Schlichting said. “Have students be more involved in the decision-making process.”

McIntosh said that the administration is already working to open avenues of communication with students.

What is going on with student government?

On Friday, the student body will have the chance to vote on a new constitution that would dissolve the Representative Assembly and replace it with a smaller body. The new body would give more power to a new Student Senate and significantly reduce the number of elected positions on student government.

Language of the proposed constitution is available on page four of this week’s Student and I strongly encourage all students to read it. The new constitution is not available on the student government website. Last week’s amendment allows for this Friday’s vote, and as of right now it appears that there is some sort of internal power struggle going on in student government.

I don’t know exactly whether a smaller student government makes sense. There are certainly arguments for both sides. Currently, student government consists of a myriad of committees and working groups, and RA members are not present at all meetings. However, a larger student government allows for more voices to be heard and increases the representative effectiveness of government. The biggest reason why the new constitution is not a good idea at this time is because there are pressing issues with administration, and student government needs to be our voice.

An announce email on Monday from Parliamentarian Kiernan Majerus-Collins read “On Friday, we will be holding a referendum on a proposed amendment to the Bates College Student Government Constitution put forward by Tomás Jurgensen. Voting will take place in Commons from 9:30 am until 5:30 pm. Anyone who won’t be on campus on Friday should write to me and arrange an absentee ballot.” This email does nothing to inform voters beyond the logistics of voting.

Philosophical debates about the size of student government aside, why are the RA and executive council bothering to go through this process now? It is clear over the past few weeks that there is widespread uncertainty over the direction of the administration and whether current students are actually being consulted about changes that are occurring. If the student government exists to represent the student body, why have they resorted to infighting when the student body needs them the most?

Last week’s vote of no confidence in President Spencer and Dean McIntosh was important, whether you personally agree with it or not. It shows that student government wants to take an active role in ensuring that the administration consults students in decision-making processes. Weakening a body of democratically-elected students through threats to dissolve it does nothing toward ensuring that student voices are heard by the administration, it only further divides them.

If the debate over the size of student government is actually about efficiency instead of internal issues, then simply wait until the end of the year when the current RA finishes its term. That way, students who were democratically elected can finish their time in office and it can be clear who will be taking their place.

Don’t further divide student voices on campus, and unless there is a sufficient and transparent justification for shrinking the size of student government immediately, I urge everyone to vote no on Friday.

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