On Saturday, April 28, 2018, volunteers from Bates College and Rebuilding Together L/A gathered together at 7 in the morning to drink coffee and eat donuts to fuel for the long day ahead of them. Rebuilding Together L/A is a non-profit that repairs homes of the needy and elderly in the Lewiston/Auburn community at no expense to the homeowners.
Author: Christina Perrone (Page 1 of 3)
On Thursday, March 23rd, Bates celebrated Trans Identity Day by hosting a space to discuss and learn about experiences of people in the trans community and some issues they face in regards to representation and identity. Before discussion, everyone agreed to being recorded and featured in this article.
After watching a video, students and faculty joined in a round table discussion, answering questions regarding the video and its content. The first question asked to participants was, “What is your experience with HIV/AIDS been and what social or cultural elements have had an impact on this experience from your life?”
For Raye Chappell ‘18, HIV/AIDS was very real growing up, “We talked about it a lot just because a lot of people had it. But there’s a lot of stigma attached, especially to some notable figures–like Magic Johnson, Eazy-E…I think we know it’s serious, but we think it’s always someone else, we don’t think that it’s our problem. We need to talk about this too…It’s a community and public health topic: it’s not something to be pushed to the side, you know you wouldn’t joke about cancer.”
For many, past discussions about HIV/AIDS never left the Health Classroom. Cameron Huftalen ‘19 reflected, “There’s just a disconnect and I think that it’s harmful, because it takes away any type of personal face or connection to it: so you start thinking of it as this far-off concept. You don’t get the sense that it actually affects people. You’re like, ‘This is some awful disease and we talk about it in health class once.’” They added, “You only hear about it in the context of people suffering, really you don’t get to hear, in your health class or your isolated communities about people who are living with this and doing work with it and being successful.”
Dylan Carson ‘18, a SPARQ Peer Mentor highlighted how people have recently turned to normalizing HIV/AIDS: “I feel like the last few years have had this shift from all this attention for how it was treatable or how people can live for years and stay healthy and have sexual activity and lead regular lives with it, so it also decreases the urgency of it when people are still getting infected by it and not everyone may necessarily have access to PrEP or adequate healthcare to stay healthy.”
One goal of the group conversation was to dismantle typical narratives that we hear regarding the trans community and trans individuals. For Angela Eustache ‘20, “Something that I struggle with, that I see happening in the black community, are the hate crimes against people who identify as gay or LGBTQ. It’s very normalized, and to be someone of color, and to witness some of things that go on in the black community, it’s very disheartening and trying to address it with your peers who might think it’s a joke or it’s not that big of a deal.”
For Danny Carmona ‘18, a SPARQ Peer Mentor, one issue they face at Bates is the expectation placed on people who identify as trans to advocate for all trans individuals: “A lot of times that [expectation to be a representative for an entire identity] further puts on a burden onto those people who hold these identities because it’s like, not only do they have to deal with figuring out themselves, but they also have to appease other people and deal with the notions of people thinking that their identities aren’t valid because you have to dress a certain way, or like you have to uphold someone else’s standards— which is something I think we don’t talk a lot about, and a lot of the blame for their subjugation goes onto them rather than society as a whole.”
Near the end, people discussed how to keep the balance between discussing issues that severely impact trans women while also not erasing other identities. According to Lexi Mucci, the Assistant Director of the Office of Intercultural Education, many outside things influence the erasure of the trans community, “The binary notions of what transness needs to look like and the representation across the media of what the problems are within the trans community, who is deemed as trans enough, and what that looks like— I think all of that plays into the erasure of the trans community and the hyper visibility of the struggles and who those struggles impact, and those are the only people included in this community.”
On Wednesday March 21, 2018, Professor Matthew C. Jadud delivered his inaugural lecture, “It Begins with a Step” to celebrate the generous donation and contribution the Colony family has given towards founding the Bates Digital Computational Studies Program (DCS). Jadud has been inaugurated as the Colony Family Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies and currently serves as the chair of the department.
“The story of the Colony family and DCS at Bates is a story about the transformative power of philanthropy” began Clayton Spencer in welcoming the attendees, “the magic that happens when a visionary, and incredibly generous family of donors decide to get behind a project that is crucial to the future of a college, in this case our wonderful college.”
The Colony family has been no stranger to Bates over the last two decades. Ann and George Colony have three sons, two of whom have graduated Bates, William ‘12 and Charles ‘17. They also have a niece Zola Porter Brown ‘93 and nephew Joel W. Colony ‘06 who attended Bates as well. George Colony is the founder and CEO of Forrester, one of the most influential business and advisory firms in the world.
“The first thing you should know is that George Colony was not a passive investor in DCS,” said Spencer. Early on in her tenure at Bates, she paid a visit to Forrester to talk to Colony.
“So early in the conversation I managed to blurt out that Bates does not teach computer science,” continued Spencer. “Now it was my impression at the time that this came as news to George, who seemed to be quickly rethinking whether his son Charlie had made a good decision.” Colony then turned to Spencer and asked some questions about Bates’ plans for DCS. As Spencer recalled, “The most vivid of which were these, ‘Are you thinking of making a straight computer science program? Or are you going to take on the question of how Digital and Computational methods are infusing with a wide variety of fields?’”
Years after Spencer’s initial meeting with George Colony, Bates has lead an initiative to create a DCS program focused on inclusivity and the liberal arts values.
During his speech, Jadud listed some of the exciting accomplishments students have done for the DCS classes offered.“The students have been engaging with virtual reality, creation of interfaces for dance and music, the students have stepped up to engage in summer research…and we’ve been working at the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation area engaging with various environmental questions in terms of sensing and drone imaging. So it’s just been an incredible group of students to dive in with.”
Before Bates, Jadud taught several interdisciplinary courses including “Storytelling through Computer Animation,” “Building Better Apps,” “Entrepreneurship and Hardware Design.” At Bates, he currently teaches “Design of Computational Systems” and “Nature of Data, Data of Nature.” During his time here he has also worked in collaboration with the Dance Department.
“I had the great pleasure of working with Bill Matthews and Rachel Boggia and what we had the opportunity to do through the inspiration of Shony [Shoshana] Currier—the new director of the Bates Dance Festival—she asked us if there a way to bring artists whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with, who do some really incredible work around integrating data and code and technology into performance and the creation of digital music? Can we bring that to our students?’ And we said, ‘Sounds crazy. Let’s do it!’”
His students came together to meet the challenge and were successful in doing the hardware and the programming necessary for making sensor on the bodies of dancers that transmitted the data to musical composition systems, which created digital music as the dancer danced.
However, Jadud has bigger plans when it comes to integrating DCS into the broader liberal arts context. During the “What If?” portion of his talk, he asked several questions that indicated his future intentions for the program. He first asked, “What if we don’t have a major? What if we have a minor in DCS?” Indeed, Jadud hopes that in keeping DCS a minor, students will have the tools to engage with technology in other fields.
“What if Art and English say ‘It would be really cool to work with DCS and develop a major in the Digital Humanities.’ We can draw from courses we already offer, and we can think about new courses that we can develop in collaboration with DCS to anchor that and give a name to computation embedded in the humanities,” said Jadud.
On Wednesday, March 14, Joel Clement, the Former Top Climate Official at the Department of Interior came back to his home state of Maine to deliver a speech on the Trump Administration’s War on Climate Policy. In recent news, Clement has become somewhat of a celebrity whistleblower after writing an explosive op-ed in The Washington Post titled “I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration” this past July. More recently, The Washington Post has also published his fiery resignation letter to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, criticizing him for failing to address the threat of climate change.
When Clement first came to the podium, he commemorated Stephen Hawking who died the morning of his speech, adding “how clever [it was] of him to die on Pi Day and also Albert Einstein’s birthday.” He continued, “So in his honor, I’m going to state a scientific consensus on climate change. Rapid climate change is real, it’s dangerous, and we’re causing it.”
His speech centered on Maine State’s motto: dirigo, meaning “I lead” in Latin. “I always thought it was just referring to Mainers, you know. We lead, we’re leaders. There’s a farmer and a sailor on the emblem and they’re leaders. It totally escaped me that the north star was at the top of the emblem. Polaris, the symbol of guidance and direction is sitting there.”
In his work, Clement advocates for Alaska Natives who are facing the threat of being erased from the face of the earth due to extreme weather and ice-cap melting. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, “The warm temperature anomalies…I don’t know at what point anomaly stops becoming anomaly, because this year we far exceeded those warm temperatures. In fact, I think the closest recording station to the Arctic is in Northern Greenland. And in February they detected temperatures over 40 degrees.” Unfortunately, Maine is next on the list after Arctic people for facing devastating consequences of global warming.
“I’m going to talk a little bit about my experience as whistle blower to give you a sense of what we’re up against both in Maine and Alaska with these climate impacts and can give you a little bit of a taste of what they’re up to in this administration,” said Clement.
He first began by describing the responsibilities involved for his job at the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C., “Every aspect of every mission is affected by climate impacts, whether it’s managing our legendary national parks, protecting biodiversity, providing world class science that the US. Geological Survey provides… And so I was very public about this. I spoke very publicly and very frequently about the importance of addressing these impacts. I wasn’t talking about CO2 and methane. I was talking about how do we handle the impacts that we know are already coming.”
According to Clement, their goal was to eliminate all programs from the previous administration, “Anything with an Obama stamp on it had to go, good or bad, effective or ineffective. Marginalize all the scientists and experts, get them out of the way, and shrink and hobble government to allow industry fuller access.”
One of the punches from the administration was aimed at the Senior Executive Service at the Department of the Interior where Clement worked at the time. As an expert in climate change, Clement belonged to the SCS, which is the executive core of career professionals who were meant to be deployed wherever an agency needs high level but nonpolitical talent. “No agency in any administration has ever come in and move dozens in one night, as this group did…and to accomplish that they moved people into positions that were completely unrelated to their backgrounds or expertise. They moved them across the country, there was no prior consolation, they were given no choice in the matter.”
Clement then admitted, “At any rate, I guess it was obvious that I was on their list, I believe, because of my work on behalf of Alaska natives facing these climate change effects. They seemed particularly eager for me to quit and I stayed at it because I was the climate change guy. They moved me to the office that collects and disperses royalty incomes from the oil and gas companies.”
Clements was then promptly moved to an auditing office. Although he enjoyed the people working there, he felt that it was “a huge waste of my expertise and background and my salary.” To him, it was very poor governance, but more importantly, it ended his work supporting the Alaska Natives. In fact, to this day, there is no one in D.C. coordinating federal response to this disaster in Alaska.
For the second half of his speech, he focused on how can we can put science back in the forefront of public policy, and “make it the north star of public policy.” He proposed that we should have five goals: Democracy, transparency, fair budgeting, rule of law, and science advocacy.
On Friday, March 2, 2018, 65 people gathered into a small room in upstairs Commons to listen to a talk with a rather provocative title. Timothy Lyle, an Assistant English Professor at Iona College, and Bates College’s own Stephen Engel, an Associate Politics Professor, gave the talk as part of the “Angels in America” Bates series. The two have been in collaboration for two years, conducting archival research in the New York Public Library and the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village. If all goes to plan, their article will be published this month in the Chicago-Kent Law Review.
“Our paper’s title is called ‘F*cking with Dignity,’ and we thought we should start by explaining the title,” humored Engel. Their full title, “F*cking with Dignity: Public Sex, Queer Intimate Kinship, and how the AIDS Epidemic Bathhouse Closures Constituted a Dignity Taking” can be interpreted three ways. The first being that f*ck is a synonym for play, “and we’re playing with the idea of dignity as a theoretical concept since our objective is to destabilize normative notions of dignity,” said Engel. The second interpretation of the title‚ “messing with,” conveys how the New York City municipal authorities dealt with the HIV/AIDs crisis in the 1980’s.
“And third, we’re discussing queer sex; I mean, we should be pretty blatant about that,” said Engel. This third notion contends how queer individuals can have sex with dignity, despite efforts lead by political authorities to dehumanize and infantilize them. “Our paper explores dynamics of what legal scholars increasingly refer to as something called a ‘dignity taking,’ and we’re looking at one episode of HIV/AIDS history, when, in the name of public health, municipal authorities in New York City pursued the closure of gay bathhouses in ’85.”
During the AIDS epidemic, these bathhouses were primary targets for closure. Fearing government intervention, the community formed organizations such as The Gay Men’s Health Crisis which produced educational materials that recommended safer sex practices within the gay bathhouses. Engel described some of the posters featuring messages such as “Sex is wonderful…but don’t let it kill you” and “Affection is our best protection.”
In addition to the efforts lead by organizations like Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Coalition for Sexual Responsibility (CSR) organized a schedule of three inspections to be carried out by volunteers throughout 1985. Said Lyle, “Now, these volunteers would enter into these bathhouses armed with clipboards, check lists, and go looking for these 19 recommendations.” Despite the community’s best efforts, elected officials continued to infantilize and dehumanize gay men. In 1985, the state continued to close these long-run establishments of community building and kinship.
“If the bathhouse closures continue to be a dignity taking,” began Engel, “then we must ask if dignity restoration is possible and what it might entail. Dignity as a legal concept has been the foundation of much U.S. pro-gay rights jurisprudence. While the supreme court’s decisions… could be understood as dignity restorative, these rulings, Timothy and I contend, ultimately fail to compensate dignity takings embodied in the bathhouse closures.”
Another example of recent dignity taking can be seen in the government’s recent measures for preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, a type of prevention known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). In 2012, the FDA approved Truvada, a once-a-day anti-HIV medicine as PrEP. While Truvada has proven powerful in curbing HIV infection, this approach to health regulated by the state are clear efforts to monitor and make decisions for gay men. To get a prescription, individuals must consult their physician—a complicated process as those conversations are typically surrounded by stigma. However, these are the fortunate ones. Many doctors refuse to prescribe PrEP, since they understand it as a party drug that encourages “reckless and hedonistic abandon” as Lyle put it.
Said Lyle, “Now in an ironic, disturbing turn of events, the institution that had long ignored the HIV crisis, that had dragged their feet or erected bureaucratic red tape that prevented access to resources and research, and that eventually profited from expensive treatments in HIV-infected bodies, become the same institutions that seemingly come to the rescue with PrEP.”
He continued saying, “So thus, gay men must participate in a system entangled with surveillance, policing, and big pharma profits in order to appeal to the state—one that failed them miserably during the bathhouse debate years—for protection and a sexual life less haunted by HIV.” The two argue that the ideal way to administer PrEP and restore dignity to the gay community would be to invest in community-based anonymous testing sites, seen historically in the bathhouses.
As part of Sustainable Earth Week at Bates the EcoReps in conjunction with the Eco Justice house organized a tour of the elusive greenhouse on the top floor of Carnegie. Once you arrive at the top floor, you need to climb an additional flight of stairs to arrive at a white, steel door– the only thing that separates you from the fabled greenhouse of Bates legend. The greenhouse is looked after by Mary Hughes, the plant coordinator for Bates College.
Upon opening the door, students on the tour stood in awe of the general “green” exuding from the door’s entrance. “As you can see, we have a beautiful view. It’s very nice and quiet up here, especially in the winter time,” commented Hughes as students looked out the windows to see the skyline made of roofs and trees. Fashioned like a botanical garden, the greenhouse is filled to the brim with cacti, succulents, and other exotic “humidity-loving” plants.
Hughes began the tour by pointing out Professor Andrew Mountcastle’s beehive in the corner of the room. “Over in this corner we have Andrew Mountcastle, he does flight projection and he’s working with wasps and bees, so that’s his little contraption over there” she said, pointing to a door that warned “Do Not Open… Seriously.” Although Mountcastle’s experiment is self-contained, the greenhouse is often visited by outside life, such as bees, wasps, ants, and other critters such as aphids. To this, Hughes shrugged, “It’s just how it is.” She went on to say, “We do only treat organically, that’s basically with dish soap and organic soap, we do get aphids and we get the mealy bugs—it’s just part of life in organics.”
“It’s hard to believe that this is kind of like a lab,” stated Hughes midway through the tour, “but one of the things we do is plant diversity, and the students will come here and pick a plant to study it and learn to the identification and all that. A lot of different types of plants are here, these are more of our humidity loving plants which are in the back here…”
She next went over to point out one of her personal favorite plants. “This hoya plant was given to me and I wish it was in bloom because it’s just amazing. It’s the most bizarre flower that I’ve seen. It’s a vine plant, and it just grows and grows, but it’s purple and it’s just very unique…” Often throughout the tour, a certain flower or plant would catch Hughes’ eyes, such as the orange clusia (“It’s just—It’s just gorgeous…But, you know, I’m partial”).
After the official tour, Hughes was excited to field any and all questions thrown at her by those on the tour. One student asked why there were dark spots on a fern. Without missing a beat, Hughes replied, “They’re not bugs, they’re spores. So in the wild, or in the forest, they’ll get old and then they got hard and fall off, and they’ll either propagate on the ground or the wind will take them, that’s why you find ferns everywhere!” she laughed. “And we’ll find ferns in all these different pots,” she gestures around the greenhouse “You know, it just transports so easily.”
“We have banana trees, and we have a pitcher plant! Are you familiar with carnivorous plants? Pitcher plants are carnivorous…This is one of my worker’s, and it was looking a lot better than this,” she laughed a bit nervously, “It’s very, very sensitive, it has to have purified water, and our water appears acidic, as you know if you drink the tap water…So we’re trying to get this back to looking good.” She went on to describe where these pitcher plants can be found, in places like rainforests and South Carolina, but also, according to Hughes, “You will find it in the woods in Maine in the bogs, because it stays warmer with the peat moss [decomposing] and all that.”
Before too long, the tour was over and the students filed out the door after taking a satisfactory amount of photo-ops with the plants. As students descended the steps back to Carnegie, Hughes joked, “Now you have to be biology majors!”
Dear Sustainable Abigail,
I’m a huge yogurt person! Unfortunately, I always feel bad eating yogurt in Commons because we just have the individual yogurt cups (unless it’s a Sunday hooray for Greek Yogurt!), and it seems like a lot of packaging. I remember hearing once that Bates had some sort of deal with the Stonyfield Yogurt Company that allowed them to help with our sustainability. I can’t quite recall the details on that, but if that was the case at some point, is it still? Also, what exactly did it entail? Thanks so much!
-Don’t Want to Give Up Yogurt
Dear Don’t Want to Give Up Yogurt,
I too am an avid yogurt eater, and do understand where you are coming from with the concern about packaging. If every Bates student eats one yogurt everyday for a week that is around 14,000 wasted yogurt cups. In one month that becomes about 56,000, and in one academic year we’re looking at about 448,000 yogurt containers (give or take, this is a rough estimate).
In any case, that is a LOT of little wasted plastic containers. Fortunately, you are correct: Bates does have a great relationship with Stonyfield Farm and they actually collect and recycle all of these 448,000 yogurt cups! So every time you are eating a yogurt, don’t worry too much because Commons and Stonyfield are looking out for each of our individual impacts. Nonetheless, your question inspired me to do a little research regarding the sustainability of our yogurt. It turns out we are pretty lucky at Bates to support Stonyfield! Stonyfield is one hundred percent organic and to the best of their abilities aid and invest in family-farmer-supplied organic milk by not only exclusively purchasing milk from family farms, but also investing when they can in strategies to aid family farmers as well as in organic education and research. However, of course, there are a lot more factors that go into being sustainable.
One such that is great to have on your radar is the carbon footprint of the food products that you consume, or what is called the “CO2e” score of the product. This score is the “carbon dioxide equivalent” score, which references the amount of greenhouse gases emitted throughout the entire life cycle for a product. So for example, thinking about yogurt, the CO2e score of yogurt with fruit is about 306. Now, let’s compare that to an alternative breakfast food: a Tuesday or Thursday omelet with meat and cheese in it has a CO2e score of 1573! In other words, in terms of carbon footprint, there are many worse things than yogurt. Thinking about the carbon footprint of the different foods you eat is a great way to get serious about being sustainable in even more nuanced ways. Thanks so much for writing, and thanks for caring about the way your food has a big impact!
Who is Sustainable Abigail? She is a sustainability advocate at your service! If you’re worried about recycling, have ideas about addressing food waste, or concerns about your role promoting sustainability on campus, Abigail is a great resource to turn to. Whatever your sustainable inquiries may be, Abigail is ready to address them all! Simply write to her by either filling out the Google form found in Bates Today or by writing your concern on a piece of paper and placing it into her question envelope in Commons. Any question is valid and appreciated and will stay anonymous, so don’t hesitate to ask!
To honor the memory of Philip Otis ’95, Bates invites a lecturer each year to give a talk on environment related issues. His endowment fund, along with sponsoring lecturers, goes towards scholarships for Bates students to travel and partner with communities in seeking to understand interdependencies with the planet.
This year, Bates invited Jamie Workman as the Otis Lecturer. Workman is the author of Heart of Dryness: How the Last Bushmen Can Help Us Endure the Coming Age of Permanent Drought, a book that he had spent over 15 years researching and writing. Over the years, Workman has collected quite controversial accolades, including: blowing up dams, releasing wolves, restoring wildland fires, guiding safaris, smuggling water to dissidents, and becoming a dad.
His research question for the book, as he said, was: “How do you put a price on the priceless? We never had to ask these questions before, but now we do.”
Over the years, economists have sought different methods of controlling and conserving scarce resources. Workman began his talk detailing the people that have helped come up with a way to put a value on water. One economist in particular, Adam Smith, asked the “water paradox” in his book Wealth of Nations. Workman summarized this paradox, asking, “Why is water, what we can’t live without, treated so worthless? And why is a diamond, which has no value whatsoever, valued so high?”
To solve this, Workman looked at how humans have evolved over time and where the first civilizations emerged. According to Workman, “[We] can trace our oldest DNA to the Bushmen of the Kalahari, a people that you’ve heard of from ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’ to National Geographic.” Workman had heard about this indigenous people during a conference about the Botswana government shutting off these peoples’ water. After this, Workman decided to take it into his own hands.
“I have never felt more self-righteous in my life,” humored Workman. “I am helping the poor and downtrodden… and it didn’t work out.” On his journey, he had broken down in the middle of Kalahari Desert, after the air intake in his Land Rover became loose and sucked in sand. “And it was at about that time when I realized, ‘Geez, these people have been out here for more than 30,000 years without me. Somehow I think they’d be alright without me coming to their rescue; in fact, I need them to rescue me.”
From the Bushmen, Workman discovered a possible solution for putting a value on water. He saw that the Bushmen had a system in which the people would earn and own what they hunted and gathered. They would mark what they had brought back and store these resources. Workman explained, “To really make [saving resources] valuable they would negotiate with one another, and this was a reciprocal system called ‘Xaro’… and through this system they would turn scarcity into abundance and reduce conflict, turn it into cooperation.”
Under this idea, Workman developed his “H2Ownership” concept, where you have equitable shares that are earned brought home, saved, and traded. He argued that this could be a way to tackle the economic theory, “Tragedy of the Commons.” The theory details a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users behave in self-interest and deplete resources, to the detriment of the common good.
To test his theory, Workman developed an app called Aquashares, where families and firms that have a meter in front of their house can trade their unused shares of water, as a credit. Workman was astounded by the interest garnered in his app: “Utility is interested, in finally having a carrot that goes with the sticks, the foundations are interested in keeping water in the rivers, keeping it wild. Businesses can go, ‘We’re water neutral! Drink our beer or our wine, we’re not harming nature to get this out, we’re able to offset our footprint!’”
More exciting yet, Aquashares has found a place to try this shared-resource system out—Russian River Valley in Northern California, home to an endangered species of salmon. According to Workman, it works like any standard, mundane bank system works. The simplicity of the system has spread to places like Marrakech where resorts are depleting water resources.
The app’s tradable water savings has risen to 91 cents per thousand gallons, which according to Workman is “a fifth of the cost of what a new dam or new salvation plant would be, it’s less than the energy that goes into pumping that water, it’s less energy than the rebate programs. So people have gotten excited about this.”
On Jan. 26 Bates College continued its tradition of jumping into the depths of Lake Andrews, affectionately known as “the puddle” to Batesies. The puddle, home to ducks, diseases and miscellaneous projectiles, opens its waters each year to all those brave enough to take a dip. Puddle Jump marks the peak of Winter Carnival, a tradition almost a century old at Bates and one of the oldest of its kind.
But why celebrate what it is to be a Bates student by jumping into a freezing body of water? Aren’t there better/ more comfortable ways to celebrate identity? Perhaps since the puddle is central to the college, perhaps because not everyone chooses to bear the Maine winter like Bates students, and perhaps because it’s just fun and we’re in college. The Bates Student went off to investigate.
To make the puddle jump even more over the top, students exchange their winter clothes for flashy, DIY costumes and sometimes, they wear nothing. “I can’t express how warm I am not being in the water,” commented Morgan Baxter ‘20 as he watched the first students jump into the puddle. When asked what the best mode of clothing to wear for the occasion, Baxter replied, “Birthday suit is the move. Wet clothing is what keeps you cold.”
“We’re individually doing it because it’s our first year at Bates and it’s a tradition” said Amelia Brown ‘21 and Teagan Ladner ‘21. All class years participate, making the Puddle Jump the social event of the year, second only to Fall’s ‘80s dance.
Sophomores, Anne Trapp ‘20 and Christie Fatica ‘20 also took a dip into the puddle. For Trapp, jumping into the puddle is, “More like bragging rights.” For Trapp, the main thing going through jumpers is “A lot of adrenaline,” but she conceded, “It’s not cold as you think it will be.” Her companion, Fatica, admitted, “I want to cry.”
“We’re all dressed as pink, cozy grandmas” said Justin Hoden ‘18, Bridget Nolan ‘18, Sadie Homeier ‘18, Chloe Oslin ‘18 in unison.
“We’re all seniors, I have never done it before,” said Nolan. “Neither have I” added Homeier. “So it’s sort of tradition” finished Bridget. “I did it freshman year, so full circle” added Hoden before the “pink, cozy grandmas” filed into the long, daunting line trailing the puddle.
Emma Martinez ‘21 said she was participating this year because,”It’s a huge part of the Bates experience, not only that, but it’s experiencing something new and I think that’s really exciting.” Her friend Willky Joseph ‘20 responded, “I was forced.”
“I don’t want to jump in. But you know, it’s just going to happen,” joked Sofie Sogaard ‘20. “Last year I jumped in twice. It was a good time. The second time was obviously pretty rough, but the first time was fun.” Sogaard then abruptly blurted out, “Are those people riding their bikes into the puddle?”
After students jumped into the puddle, a blazing pyre of wooden logs awaited them along with hot chocolate and warm showers. Reactions of the first jumpers varied widely from “Cold” (Matt Morris ‘18) to “It was really awesome” (Zeke Smith ‘19). However, Chris Dsida ‘18 put it best when he said, “It’s just as cold as freshman year.”
So why has the Puddle Jump become a rite of passage at Bates? After thinking long and hard about this absurd occasion, only one answer comes to mind. There is no better way to embody the creative, innovative, brilliant student body at Bates College than to take a leap into freezing depths of Lake Andrews along close friends and classmates.
On Thursday, Jan. 18, Bates students gathered at the home of Brittany Longsdorf, Bates’s Multifaith Chaplain, to participate in Hearth, a dinner event centered around discussion and engaged silence. This week’s Hearth included queries based on the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. and spicy drunken noodles. Those at the gathering separated into small discussion groups to discuss this week’s topics. Conversations were lightly guided by Multifaith Fellows, but overall were unstructured and freeform.
In this relaxed “hygge” atmosphere, complete with scented candles, soft lighting and comfortable furniture, students felt free to express what made them passionate or angry or fierce. What made this event stand apart from lunch discussions with friends, was the exposure to silence. Seldom do we have social interactions in our modern age with silence present. Often we feel pressured to fill those awkward gaps in conversations, removing the sense of intimacy contained in silence between people. Students could momentarily forget about the pressures of work, school, or friends hanging over them and could be present to hear the voices of others.
After the queries were over, students rejoined and talked with one another before returning across the street to Bates’s campus. Alexis Hudes ‘20, a frequent visitor at Hearth, explained what initially brought her to it: “When I was at the beginning of my freshman year, I was sort of dragged along by some upperclassmen on the frisbee team and I just fell in love with the small community and the good food, the opportunity to get off campus and engage in a really different kind of conversation than I get to have in my day-to-day life at school.” Jin Wei ‘20 added that, “Being at Hearth offers me this opportunity to find the balance of social and calm states of mind.”
Prior to being the co-coordinator of Hearth, Sara Moradi, ‘20 said, “I had a pretty rough freshman year and I found myself very ungrounded and lost.” What initially excited her about working at Hearth was how welcoming the space was: “I loved how open students were with each other, students that they really didn’t even know that well. I thought that that was really important.” She continued, “I like fostering a space where people can just come and feel at home and out of the Bates Bubble that we normally are stuffed into.”
One of Moradi’s favorite queries was earlier this school year, “There was one time earlier last semester, it was like really stressful—I think it was during midterms—and we made it about the seasons.” Moradi went on to explain that the first query is a lighter question and the second one tends to be deeper. “For that particular Hearth, the deeper question was ‘What grounds you?’ For me, that grounding comes from Sufism, the chaplaincy, and Hearth, and all the programs that I attend. It’s cool to hear how different spaces around campus do that for other students that are going through the same things like anxiety or just the pressure of being at Bates,” said Moradi.
In the other room, Longsdorf spoke amongst other Hearth goers. “Hearth has existed in a couple different forms at Bates for a while,” said Longsdorf. “But the real brainstorm behind the query-centered Hearth that we have now was from Emily Wright, who was the Multifaith Chaplain before me, so I inherited this beautiful program, and have loved to continue it and grow it in some small way.”
Over the years, Longsdorf has collected a couple queries that have meant a lot to her, “We had a query early on which was like ‘what was a time when you experienced childlike wonder?’ and I think that one’s really stuck with me and one that I think about a lot.” She paused to think for a moment, then continued, “Then, last semester we had one that was ‘when do you feel full?” Some people talked about food, some people talked about wholeness, about when they feel peace, and some people talked about meaningful moments in their lives…The ways you could interpret it were really cool.”
What’s the secret behind Hearth? “I just think it’s a special thing,” expressed Longsdorf. “I am just so touched to see my hallway filled with shoes every Hearth,” she laughed, “like there are few things that make me happier than that, so yeah I really love it, wouldn’t change it.”