The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Julia Mongeau (Page 1 of 13)

A week for elephants

A small crowd gathered as President Uluru Kenyatta doused the first pyre with fuel and set the pile on fire. Guards stood with large automatic weapons around the perimeter, and journalists, government officials, local citizens and media personnel watched in near silence as the fire burned for days. What they were all witnessing in Nairobi National Park was the largest destruction of ivory in human history, over 105 tons of elephant ivory and 1.35 tons of rhino horn, the only remains of over 6,500 slaughtered elephants and 450 rhinos, all killed for their tusks and horns by poachers.

This move was a controversial one, as the entire stockpile was estimated to be worth nearly $110-150 million, an incredible amount of money that could have done wonders to continue developing the nation, as the president himself pointed out. But he went on to explain, “I would rather wait for the judgment of future generations, who I am sure will appreciate the decision we have taken today,” according to National Geographic. And he is probably right.

Elephant populations are dwindling at an alarming rate, with nearly 30,000 of these creatures killed each year on average by poachers in hopes of turning over a lucrative profit. The Kenyan government is hoping that destroying these ivory stockpiles will ultimately change consumers’ demand for the product, thereby dropping the price of ivory and eventually killing the incentive for poachers to target and kill the tens of thousands of elephants that are currently being hunted.

However, one of the most important aspects of this feat wasn’t simply to protect a keystone species essential to preserving local ecosystems; burning pyres of ivory worth hundreds of millions of dollars sent a loud symbolic message. “For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” said President Kenyatta in a speech to the nation.

Other nations have taken other routes, with South Africa and Namibia both holding onto their ivory in hopes of possible future sales. Some countries have decided to make the most of existing ivory, such as Botswana, which in 2014 revealed a gigantic sculpture made of tusks in the shape of in elephant right in the middle of its international airport, a clear reminder to all to whom these tusks are most essential: to the elephants themselves.

Just days apart, a company in the United States made a stunning decision as well. After 145 years of performances, Ringling Bros. Circus held its final show with elephant performers, a decision announced back in March of 2015 but which came to fruition 18 months earlier than expected. This decision followed waves of protests and criticism, as well as a series of bans in many U.S. cities on the use of bullhooks. These long steel rods with pointed ends resemble fireplace pokers crafted to inflict pain, which were regularly used in “training” and “handling” elephants. The phasing out of elephants from these shows represents a shift, not just in the circus industry, but a societal one.

Our societal shift in environmental consciousness means we can start to see ourselves as a part of nature, instead of apart from it. And as we learn to respect and take care of the environment, we come to realize that elephants and their bodies, like other parts of nature, are not to be slaughtered for profits, but cared for and protected for ages to come.

New Pass/Fail policy finally implemented

Bates College Student Government’s Oliver Farnum ’19 and Nicole Bermudez ’16 worked to accelerate efforts to reform Bates’ current pass/fail policy this year. The most common issue arises when students realize that they are doing well in their pass/fail course, but have already committed to a non-letter grade. Now, students have the ability to change back to a letter grade from pass/fail up until the last day to drop a class. The new policy will begin in the Fall 2016 semester. The Student interviewed Bermudez to understand the motives behind this decision.

The Student: What prompted you to initiate the new pass/fail registration timeline?

Nicole Bermudez: This pass/fail policy proposal actually started about two years ago when Alyssa Morgosh was the Student Body President. I believe she initiated the creation of an ad hoc committee to get this proposal started. After I returned from my study abroad this fall, I learned that the proposal was not approved yet so I wanted Student Government to move forward with it this year. We also felt that the previous pass/fail policies were outdated and much more restrictive compared to those of our peer institutions.

TS: Can you describe what the process has been like?

NB: The process has been long and more challenging than expected. It was hard to find who to go to at first because there were changes made to faculty committees in charge of various academic matters in the past few years. When the proposal process first started a few years ago, the Education Policy Committee was in charge of things like this, but another committee that did not have any student members recently replaced it. We also had to wait to be put on the agenda for the faculty meetings, which are held only once a month. Once we presented at the faculty meeting, we had to wait until the next month for the proposal to be voted on by the faculty. Recently, the Academic Affairs Liaison position was created so students could have other students to go to if they have questions or proposals related to Academic Affairs, so processes such as this one are more manageable and accessible to take on.

TS: What are the new changes that will take place and when?

NB: With this change, students can decide to pass/fail a course within the typical 1.5/2 week add period. However, students have the option to change this pass/fail grading option to a letter grade up until the last day to drop a course (usually around 6 weeks). This does not allow students to switch from a letter grade to pass/fail grading option, only from a pass/fail grading option to a letter grade.

TS: Who else did you work with on the Student Government to pass this new legislation?

NB: Two other student senators provided some comments and suggestions to the proposal draft. Student Government members also gave us suggestions after Oliver and I practiced for the faculty meeting at one of the Senate meetings.

TS: When did the Student Government first decide to work on passing this new legislation?

NB: During Alyssa Morgosh’s term in 2014, I believe. Then the proposal was not brought up again until the second semester of Berto Diaz’s term when I mentioned it to Student Government again after returning from abroad.

Farnum and Bermudez are both members of the Student Liaisons to the Academic Affairs Committee for which they were appointed temporarily. Bermudez will be graduating this year and Farnum was appointed for this semester only. Therefore, it is encouraged that students apply for the aforementioned position for next year.

 

Hate speech or freedom speech?

Earlier in the year, someone, presumably a student, chalked “Trump 2016” in various locations around campus. The graffiti was met with a variety of responses on YikYak—from those who demanded it be washed away to those who claimed that this text should be protected under the First Amendment. However, the issue goes a lot deeper than the oft-quoted adage, ‘I can do whatever I want, it’s a free country.’ Rather, openly supporting Trump could easily be considered hate speech.

In the case of the campus graffiti, it wouldn’t have mattered if the chalked words said “Hillary 2016,” “Cruz 2016,” or “Bernie 2016”—vandalism is vandalism and Bates is private property and it is thus legally problematic to advertise any political candidate. The problem isn’t the graffiti (although that is, in fact, a legal problem). The problem is the message that these words send. The American Bar Association (ABA) defines hate speech as “speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” Donald Trump’s proposed policies towards immigrants and certain religious groups are hateful and include “rounding up” illegal immigrants and deporting them, and “temporarily” banning all Muslims from entering our country. Trump, who has claimed “Islam hates us,” has a habit of targeting specific groups, homogenizing them as “the”—as in, “the Hispanics […] are going to love Trump”; “Frankly, we’re having problems with the Muslims”; and “I have a great relationship with the blacks.” Trump has openly been supported by white supremacists, including the former Grand Wizard of the KKK. These statements, attitudes, and policies are so obstreperous, they’re impossible to ignore. In other words, one cannot possibly support Trump without also condoning his positions on minority groups.

After Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race, leaving Trump as the Republican frontrunner, the Bushes and Paul Ryan, the highest ranking elected Republican, have announced that they are unable to support Trump because of his “bullying” tactics. And while neither have cited racism, it is clear that, even amongst conservatives, there is an obvious hostility to Trump’s targeted policies.

Returning to the topic of hate speech, it’s evident that Trump’s policies target individual groups and could make those groups feel threatened, clearly adhering to the ABA’s definition. On top of that, Trump’s supporters have a habit of misidentifying individuals, such as using an image of a Sikh soldier with a caption claiming he was Muslim in an article on “The U.S. Patriot,” a nativist news site. In fact, the rate of hate crimes directed at Muslims has tripled since 2015. And this Islamophobia includes not just followers of Islam, “but anyone who ‘appears’ or ‘sounds’ Muslim, including Sikhs and non-Muslim Arabs, and Hindus.” In one incident in Wichita, Kansas, a Trump supporter attacked a Muslim man named Khondoker Usama and a Hispanic man who didn’t give his name, using racial slurs against them and telling them that they were “trash” and that they “better go home.”   

Trump supporters are quick to say, “When Trump says, ‘build a wall to keep out immigrants’ or, ‘ban Muslims from entering our country’ he means ‘control immigration,’” but they also have a dangerous tendency to sharpen his words. So, when Trump says, “round up” illegal immigrants, they feel the need to threaten any person who appears Hispanic with violence. And when Trump says he wants to ban Muslims from our country, they decide someone ‘looks’ Muslim, even though being Muslim does not indicate that a person belongs to any certain ethnicity, and thus must be harassed or threatened. Because of the multitude of instances in which Trump supporters have violently confronted marginalized groups, I argue that “Trump 2016” is a synecdoche for racism in America. Trump is the candidate supported by the most racists (that’s an actual fact) and if you support Trump, you are complicit in that. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Any person who supports Trump and claims that they are ‘only in favor of his economic policies,’ or that they “don’t agree with those ‘passionate’ supporters’ are passively accepting, and therefore perpetuating, the behavior of Trump’s racist fans, whom he has refused to denounce. “Trump 2016” emblazoned anywhere is an active threat against the communities targeted by Trump’s supporters and should be treated as such.

The Concerned Students of Color at Bates: A Call to Action

In the past few months historically underrepresented students have expressed how they have been deeply affected by the racism and inequity that occurs on college campuses across the country. Students of Color nationwide have been reflecting on their college experiences and have been organizing to dismantle the racist structures that exist on their campuses. The student protests that have been happening at colleges such as the University of Missouri, Princeton, Yale, Ithaca, etc., has sparked a fire and deep sense of solidarity for students of Color. Students have been organizing on their campuses and have come up with strategic ways to help their institutions improve their racial climate and to end the systemic and structural racism that exist at their colleges. Students of Color at Bates have also been organizing over the past five months and have come up with a list of grievances and recommendations to present to the Bates administration. This document is entitled, The Concerned Students of Color at Bates: A Call to Action.

In November 2015, Bates College hosted the Creating Connections Consortium (C3) Summit. The theme for the 2015 summit was “The Transformative Power of Race in the Academy.” After the conference President Clayton Spencer along with Chief Diversity Officer and associate Vice President Crystal Williams met with a group of students that they saw attend the conference to discuss the racial climate at Bates. After the meeting, students of Color began to reflect very deeply about their experiences at this predominantly white institution and we all found that there were common struggles that students of Color face as they navigate their racial identity daily at Bates. As we continued to meet on a regular basis we began to brainstorm ways we could improve the racial climate at Bates in order to enhance our own student experiences. Keeping in step with the movements that have been happening on college campuses across the country we decided to come up with a document that specifically identifies areas Bates needs to improve in order to better its racial climate. The three main sections of the document are “The Academy,” “Campus Culture,” and “OIE and other Campus Resources.” To be clear The Concerned Students of Color at Bates do not speak for all students of Color at this institution. There are in fact a myriad of different experiences that are held by many students of color on campus. However, we imagine that the majority of the issues expressed in the document are shared by many students of Color at Bates.

Each section of the document was reviewed and revised numerous times before presenting it to the President and her administration. We are also open to hearing any feedback from other students, especially if their experiences and the struggles they face aren’t reflected in the document that The Concerned Students of Color created. This semester we have had three meetings with the President and members from her administration about each section of the document. After these meetings, senior leaders who oversee the areas of concerns of The Concerned Students of Color detailed in the Call to Action were assigned to action teams. These small action teams, which consist of students and administrators, have been working diligently during Short Term to come up with concrete solutions that address the needs and struggles that students of Color face at Bates College.

The Concerned Students of Color: A Call to Action highlights the voices of students of Color from different backgrounds at Bates and lists concerns that impact every aspect of our college experience. As students of color, we would like our experience to be as beneficial and as worthwhile as our white peers. We expect Bates, a place founded on anti-slavery principles that stresses the importance of diversity and inclusion while continuing to increase the enrollment of students of color each year, to include us in the academy as a whole, inside and outside of the classroom. On the pages that follow we will provide personal narratives while also going into vivid detail about how the specific sections of the Call to Action were created. We also list the concerns as they appear in the document itself.

The Academy
By Deshun Peoples

Many students of color struggle to find themselves reflected in the different elements of the College experience at Bates. Students of color, myself included, go through years of courses without interacting with the works of a single creative or intellectual of color. Many of the students of color have to constantly educate their white peers both inside and outside of the classroom, enumerating their personal experiences oftentimes to be challenged as if it were a theoretical situation they sought feedback on.

Upon matriculation, particularly coming from a predominantly black home environment, I was overwhelmed by the whiteness I was now thrust into, but this whiteness posed no threat to me initially. I saw this as an opportunity to expand my network and learn how to navigate a world of the white majority. It is here that I knew I’d learn their language, their culture, their references, their experiences to prepare me for the future interactions I’d constantly have with them.

During my sophomore year, I began to hear horror stories of professors signaling out students of color to speak for the entirety of a diverse race or ethnicity and then arguing with these students about the validity of certain situations that sometimes were the students’ actual experiences. Questions of hyper-sensitivity around race/racism, honest and open debates about positionality and personal beliefs at the expense of the humanity of people of color, general ignorance about facts, and micro-aggressions began to dominate the stories of the classroom experience of friends of mine, and eventually forced their way into my own experience.

I will never forget the time my professor insisted that a Korean international student answer a question about Mandarin Chinese grammar rules. The shy, quiet student hesitantly proclaimed his Korean identity and expressed that he knew nothing about Mandarin Chinese language. Perhaps even more unforgettable was the professor’s response, or lack thereof. He simply said, “Oh,” and continued with his lesson. There was no apology or recognition of an instance of wrongdoing.

I can never un-hear my most trusted advisor tell me that the racism that black people experience is all a figment of our imaginations, implanted into our brains from the writings and teachings of a few critical theorists. The lived instances of overt racism, and racially biased incidents, and micro-aggressions, and prejudice were clearly not things that we continually experience on a daily bases in very dehumanizing and destabilizing ways. Rather, they elaborate narratives that we adopted as part of our experience—according to this professor. Even worse, I cannot un-hear this same white advisor essentially calling me lazy amidst personal and familial struggle, and telling me that my “minority status is a privilege” despite my artistic merit, labor, and grant writing abilities that contributed to me receiving several highly selective scholarships. Being led to believe that you are only granted opportunities because of your “minority status” further embeds “imposter syndrome” in the psyche of underrepresented students who, despite their obvious qualifications, feel as though they do not deserve the opportunities that they worked hard for. This makes them feel that sense of inferiority that the system of American higher education already ensured. It’s infuriating to have to explain the nuance of the complicated, entrenched concepts of white, class, and heterosexual privilege to those who ignorantly use, abuse, reproduce, and continually choose to not acknowledge these privileges and the social hierarchies they enforce. To have to bite your tongue, accepting verbal abuse, for the fourth time that week while talking to a professor who continually claims that she supports you and your best interest can begin to take a toll on students.

After meeting as a collective body to discuss the multiplicity of our experiences, some things began to enter the conversation with a disgusting frequency. As a group of intellectuals and students who already hold a particularly inferior status in America at large and in higher education specifically, we could only hear the stories of professors mistreating, disrespecting, disempowering, and verbally attacking students of color so many times before we demanded change. Having professors and peers invalidate our voices and experiences, along with not learning about contributions that intellectuals and creatives of color made to academia, and not physically seeing “us” significantly represented in the faculty and staff at this institution, made mobilization a necessity. We demand that our experiences be well considered and significantly changed. While the experiences listed above as well as the experiences of our body of Concerned Students of Color as a whole may not be universal, they still constitute a vital role in the overall Bates student experience. The issues that we face deserve recognition and redress. Even if they aren’t your experience, they are still incredibly valid and important. Hopefully you feel that they warrant your support. Below is the section ‘The Academy’ as it is written in the Call to Action.

The Academy

1. The integration/diversification of class material that should include contributions from people that come from marginalized backgrounds (people of color, queer folks, disabled folks, etc.). We suggest that a good first step into meeting this goal is to have a full audit of Bates’ current undergraduate curricula in order to determine the diversity of the existing curriculum.

Also, we suggest incorporating Diversity and Inclusion in First-Year Seminar courses. We feel that orientation is too short of time to engage first years with issues of diversity and inclusion. We believe that having first years engage with these issues throughout their first semester will set the tone for the rest of their Bates career.

2. We request that some type of diversity requirement be implemented at Bates. We request that every undergraduate take a course that engages issues relevant to understanding race, gender, class, and queerness in American society. We strongly suggest that this requirement be implemented along with the SLQ requirements for graduation. Being that diversity and inclusion impacts the way in which we treat one another on campus, having students take classes where they are engaging with this material will go a long way in improving the racial climate and the broader campus culture.

3. We request that faculty highly encourage their students to attend MLK Day events. We also suggest that as an incentive faculty think about having their students write a one page response to a workshop or session that they attend for extra-credit.

4. We request training sessions before each semester starts for faculty and staff, including lab instructors and teacher assistants that is focused on race. These sessions should help equip professors on how to intervene and handle situations when students make racist, homophobic, and xenophobic comments in class, especially in the STEM fields. These sessions should also teach faculty, staff, lab instructors and teacher assistants how to interact with students of color, and how their tone of voice, use of words, and overall actions can offend students of color. We request that students and alumni be involved in the development of these trainings to ensure that the content reflects the needs of students.

5. The hiring of more faculty/staff of color. Students of color should be on the search committees or a part of the process of hiring faculty and staff of color, specifically for STEM disciplines.

Campus Culture
By Folashade Ade-Banjo

My name is Folashade Ade-Banjo and I will be giving my thoughts on the social climate at Bates and explain the line of thinking that went into creating the Campus Culture section of the Call to Action. The Campus Culture section was drafted as a response to the areas where Bates has failed to address the concerns of historically disadvantaged groups on campus. As a member of Concerned Students of Color, I along with other students of color worked to identify and hopefully rectify institutional issues that have plagued the experiences of students of color.

At Bates, black students make up less than 5 percent of the entire population. Due to just numbers alone, being black on campus can be a fairly polarizing experience. Most of the concerns raised by black students about the campus culture at Bates fell into two categories: (1) Social Constraints and (2) Economic Constraints. In response, Concerned Students of Color devised a list of grievances to assist in alleviating these issues and better serve students of color. I will not speak too much on Economic Constraints because a good portion of them have already been recommended and addressed by the Concerned Students of Color at Bates and the Administration. There is now financial support for students in need to access transportation and meals during break. Conversations on the rising cost of textbooks and the insistence of a minimum wage increase are being held currently. So, in the following piece, I will offer some of the ideological backing on the social constraints that students of color face and why we recommended these grievances to the administration at Bates:

Social Constraints

It should come as no surprise that there exists a pervasive culture of “self-segregation” at Bates. It is visible everywhere you go, from Commons, to Ladd, to social gatherings, athletics, clubs, etc. On the surface, this phenomenon makes complete sense. People, not just students of color, have a propensity to hang around like-minded people with similar perspectives and experiences. This tends to translate into Bates students deciding to associate themselves with people of similar race, socioeconomic status, common interests, race, sexuality and gender. I will not note whether or not this phenomenon is implicitly or explicitly imposed by students of color or by non-students of color. I also don’t really think inquiring on that matter is really relevant to the conversation at hand. What we Concerned Students of Color are interested in is finding a way to assist students of color in feeling “connected” to campus regardless of their background.

There’s this misconception that the onus falls on black students (or any marginalized group for that matter) to freely integrate themselves into any environment. There’s this idea that the only people stopping black students from freely assimilating into campus are black students. It is especially easy to make this claim when you happen to be within the majority of any social setting. For students who fall into the privileged or the majority, their experiences usually take precedence in establishing perspectives, ideologies, interests, etc. I find that as a black student, I am constantly adapting my experiences to enable those of the majority to relate to people like me. However, there doesn’t seem to be a fair reciprocation or exchange of experiences. I typically have to scavenge and sift through my experiences to find one that relates to white students, to students with privileged upbringings, or just to students with a completely different set of experiences from my own. I am totally fine with this and, in fact, grateful that there are different experiences I can learn from. However, I don’t really think students who fall into the majority often do the same for those who don’t. Because of my experience as a black, female, low-income student from the South, I’ve found that it’s extremely difficult to add to a conversation or have ownership of spaces that do not incorporate my experiences.

I’ve also found that there is a lack of sincerity and genuine understanding in relation to racial matters on campus. Sure, people will attend discussions or forums on these matters but it is usually because they are mandated to for extra credit in a course. And in the case that they are not, I rarely see a proactive sentiment to not only discuss these issues but act on them, as well.  Every year during MLK Day, I have witnessed overwhelming disinterest in the current social environment for black people. A lot of white students at Bates see MLK Weekend as merely a 3-Day Ski Trip. Many white students won’t even acknowledge MLK Weekend. It is disconcerting that some students do not go out of their way to understand differing perspectives unless they are incentivized to do so. Lack of empathy from white students towards black experiences has probably been the most nauseating sentiment I have felt at Bates. For instance, I’ve heard many conversations of white students attempting to dismantle the positive narrative behind the Black Lives Matter movement. A few months ago, there were a slew of racially insensitive comments towards students of color on YikYak. And to speak from personal experience, I have even been hurled racially explicit slurs on more than one occasion during my time at Bates.

The final issue I have come to notice about campus culture is that there is a lack of unity apparent amongst students of Color.  It is really difficult to come together as one in order to advocate, support, and befriend each other which is why creating spaces for students of color to congregate and expound on their experiences is so important. Ensuring that the OIE is a place where students of color can uphold ownership is also of the utmost importance. Jeremy Glover will discuss this issue in further detail when he explains ‘The OIE/Other Resources’ section of the document on the following page.

Last important detail: Bates is an incredibly friendly school filled with well-meaning students, for the most part. However, students with good intentions can still encroach on the experiences of other students without even noticing it.  Hopefully, the grievances of the Concerned Students of Color can shed light on these matters and how to remedy them.

The Campus Culture

1. We suggest the diversification of athletic teams/sports clubs (i.e. lacrosse, rowing etc.). When students of color are in the vast minority on these athletic teams/club sports, they tend to face challenges with their racial identity because they are often tokenized. We also suggest that all athletic coaches go through a training before each semester that is focused on race so that they know how to react to racist incidents on their athletic teams.

2. We request that the minimum wage for campus jobs be raised for all students to $9/hour.

3. We request that the college should hold forums that allow students of color to network with alumni and other professionals at least once a semester so that we can build connections in order to make a smoother transition into the workplace (which will mostly be White and systematically disenfranchise us).

4. We request that there needs to be more robust programming in helping students either rent or buy textbooks at discounted rates. The prices of textbooks for four classes show that professors and the college are blind to the economic constraints that students have when paying for very expensive text books.

5. We request that some type of break shuttle system be put into place so that students can more easily be able to get back and forth from the airport/bus station during breaks.

6. We request that during breaks, there is some type of meal plan for students who are almost forced to stay on campus because they cannot afford to go home for breaks.

The OIE/Other Campus Resources
By Jeremy Glover

Born out of protests against the Office of Admission in 1995 and originally named the Multicultural Center, The Office of Intercultural Education (most commonly known as the “OIE”) is perhaps one of the most important campus resources for students from marginalized backgrounds at Bates. Personally speaking, my own experiences with the OIE, its staff, and the students who utilize it have been utterly transformative in how I understand my identity as well as an essential component to my Bates experience. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be at Bates today without it. This fondness for the OIE, which is certainly shared by many other students, is in part the source of the Concerned Students’ frustration. From its inception in the Spring of 1995 until Fall semester 2014, the OIE has resided on Campus Avenue as its own building in the form of a house. In order to build the new dorms and campus buildings on Campus Ave, administration needed the OIE to be moved. It’s current location in Chase Hall has several problems which our document was created in part to communicate to administration.

Firstly, the physical construction and design of the space makes privacy nearly impossible to attain, as the walls are semi-transparent, easily heard through, and with the exception of the staff member’s offices, the space is essentially one large room. Secondly, the space’s new centralized location and overarching shift to become more mainstream has diluted the potency of the space to be the support space that it was intended to be. More or less, the OIE has become more widely known as a general student center for studying and cooking than a place of support for students of marginalized identities. The issue with this shift is that for many students the OIE was or is the only space that they feel ownership over and comfort in, and many of the students who now take advantage of the space make little or no effort to recognize this fact. These changes have also informed our request for an external review of the OIE as it seems to have lost sight of its mission and the goal of centers like it. Our request for a space for students of color only stems out of a desire for feeling ownership over a space that has been lost for the OIE. This request is of course provisional on the inclusion of other spaces for students of other marginalized communities. For example, students who identify in the LGBTQIA+ community (who aren’t people of color) would have their own resource center or something of the like.    

The OIE/ Other Campus Resources

1.  We request that the administration write an open letter to the community informing us of how the OIE supports students of color.

How do staff members in the office go about supporting students of color?

What are the specific programs aimed at meeting the needs of the unique experiences of students of color?

2. We request that there be an external review of the OIE. From students’ of color perspective there seems to be a discrepancy between the employees in the OIE and what it does for students of Color and what we actually need and how we need to be supported by the office.

We suggest that an outside source comes in and provide this external review. Or if Bates cannot afford to pay an outside agency then we request that students pick two faculty or administrators within the college, and the Chief Diversity Officer choose two faculty/administrators to perform this external review.

3. We request that a 24-hour, multi-functional space be created that is specifically designed for students of color.

The goal of this space is for students of color to go and be amongst individuals that understand their struggles of being a racial minority and where they don’t have to constantly worry about the racial micro-aggressions that they experience either in the classroom or amongst their white peers. Students of color also can relax from the bombardment of questions about their culture, their experiences, etc. This space is meant to be a safe space for students of color because right now frankly the OIE as it stands is not a space specifically for us, which is ironic given the history of the office.

4.  Along with this space being created, we also suggest that there be at least one person of color hired in the Health Center that can serve as a counselor and a psychiatrist. Given there is no safe space on campus outside of student residence rooms–and these spaces can be compromised in dorms through racist, sexist, ableist, classist, etc. incidences–it is important that students have a qualified mental health resource available.

5. We request that more funding be given to the OIE so that more staff persons can be hired that can meet the programmatic needs of students of color specifically.

Women’s ultimate frisbee wins bid to nationals

Cold Front poses during Regionals at Williams College ERIC KRATHWOHL/COURTESY PHOTO

Cold Front poses during Regionals at Williams College ERIC KRATHWOHL/COURTESY PHOTO

Hard work, new talent, and 6:30 a.m. practices pay off—Bates Women’s Ultimate heads to D3 Nationals for the first time in both men and women’s program history. An ode to Maine weather, the team Cold Front will travel down to Winston Salem, North Carolina, on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd to compete against top ranked schools like Williams, Claremont, Bowdoin and Mt. Holyoke.

Cold Front is one of three teams from their section that includes Bowdoin and Colby. After sweeping the competition, Bates won the sole bid for Regionals. There, the women competed against eight teams for only for spots for Nationals.

The Student sat down with Captains Ruthie Baker ’16 and Josie Gillett ’19 to understand this year’s success. (Claire Bartell ’16 is the third captain and star talent, but was unable to meet with the Student at the time and two other junior captains are abroad.)

The Fall season began per usual with a flood of new players recruited around campus. Unlike the competitive spring season, the fall is coed and catered toward showing new players “what frisbee is about,” said Baker who, along with Bartell, competed in high school. In fact, most new members have never played frisbee before. But this year was slightly different.

With an already experienced senior captain squad, Cold Front was ready to make the move towards a more competitive team when first year and now Captain, Josie Gillett, joined the team in the fall. She provided her extra experience and talent from her frisbee career that started in the sixth grade.

“This year getting Josie on the team [added] so much knowledge of the game and how to train for the game,” said Baker. Cold Front was left with a void after junior two captains, Kate Cuthbert and Camilla Walker, went abroad, so they reached out to Gillett to be spring captain.

Of Seattle, Gillett first entered the ultimate game in the fifth grade, where she fell in love with the sport. As a seventh grader, Gillett competed at the high school level. In her freshman year of high school, she made the varsity team and soon joined two additional club teams—one competing year-round.

But to Gillett, it’s not the time played that counts. “My skill as a frisbee player is probably the least important part I bring to a team,” Gillett said. “I have had coaches that have given me the tools to elevate other people’s play.”

Gillett brought in new workouts designed around interval training and sprints, which the team emphasized during the winter when outdoor play was limited. The conversation surrounding the team’s level of play began last semester. Cold Front had the potential to rank nationally as a team, but was there also a cost?

“We wanted to make sure we were not losing our community in the process of becoming competitive,” Gillett said. There was a desire to maintain the inclusive nature of the sport at Bates, while pushing those who wanted to take their play to the next level. The captains decided on creating open practices for everyone, with additional closed practices for the competitive team.

“The whole team, and the captains especially, were ready to push the team a little bit higher and put their best selves forward,” the captains said.

However, sending 19 players to Nationals is no simple tasks. With less than $1000 left in their budget, Cold Front has been caught in their own storm of logistics and fundraising. Senior team member Natalie Silver started a GoFundMe page to kick off the fundraising efforts in addition to reaching out to Bates for help—the team raised $5000 in the first day.

“What we have been surprised by and grateful for is the community that we have around us,” Baker said.

“Dean Mcintosh and his receptionist Donna have been so helpful with flights and organizing,” she added.

The fundraising goal was set to $8000 and was reached last week, but there are additional costs not covered. The team hopes to pay for every player’s transportation costs in full. An outpouring of love and funds has come from other groups on campus.

“It has been incredible to see that support,” Gillet said. Some notable names include the Circus Club, with a generous $1000, and the Ballroom Dance Club, with $400.

“These other clubs are so happy to help us out,” said Baker.

Looking forward to North Carolina, Cold Front will be up against 16 different teams seeded based on their Regionals performance. Saturday will be composed of “pool play” where teams are broken down into groups, followed by traditional bracket play on Sunday.

The team is ready, both physically and mentally, despite stiff competition.

“Williams will be tough to beat, but I think we can do it. It is hard to tell because there is so little out of region play,” said Gillett.

Hopefully Cold Front can perform with the same ferocity that they used against top-tiered Bowdoin where, as Baker put it, they “were not prepared for the level of intensity that we brought.”

Follow Cold Front on Twitter @coldfront_ulti and Instagram @coldfront_2016 to watch the action.

 

Seniors from Alaska conquer post-grad

Alaska has given the world more than just Sarah Palin. Three seniors from the 49th state in the nation will take the world by storm upon graduation. Erica Veazey and Kelsey Schober were awarded Watson Fellowships and Helen Sudkamp-Walker will pursue a degree from Yale School of Nursing.

Schober, originally from Palmer, Alaska, is a triple major in Politics, Dance and Psychology. Schober started senior year with an open mind about the future. She wanted “something interdisciplinary.” The Watson Fellowship offered an opportunity to combine her majors “where all three of them informed the other and intersected in an awesome way.”

Schober will study community building and individual growth through social circus. Social circus uses the circus arts to help at-risk youth with personal growth and social development, according to Cirque du Soleil’s website.

Specifically, Schober will study how social circus functions within vulnerable populations to shape individuals but also how it can build a community of individuals. She originally planned to go to the Netherlands, South Africa, Chile and Arctic Canada, though there may be some changes. Schober thinks her project may broaden to consider arts and community building, noting she “would be remiss to ignore the other doors that open themselves along the way.”

Taking advantage of open doors and opportunities brought Schober to the East Coast, though it was not without noticeable differences.

“Being in an environment with so many students who are so engaged and love what they are doing was totally new to me,” Schober said.

As a first-generation college student, Schober felt a lack of guidance her freshmen year, though recognizes that the college offers more assistance to first-generation students now. She found a community within the Dance department.

“The Dance department is really my community of people, the community that I feel the most comfortable in and the most dedicated to,” Schober said.

While not necessarily unique to these students, finding community was a common theme. Erica Veazey, who will also pursue a Watson Fellowship, had spent a semester prior to college in Washington, D.C., so adjusting to the East Coast culture wasn’t as shocking. Her advice to anyone coming from her hometown of Fairbanks is to find a community.

“Try to connect with people,” Veazey said. “You never know where your community is going to come from. That’s what will make it feel like home here.”

Veazey’s community is with Milliken House—”I’m a Millikid.” She is still close with the students she lived with her first-year.

Come July, Veazey will leave for Sweden, Armenia, Ethiopia and Australia, where she will study the perception and treatment of depression in different countries. Though she is a neuroscience major, her interest in this topic is both academic and personal.

“Fairbanks has really high rates of depression and seasonal affective disorder,” Veazey said. “Everyone is affected by someone who has committed suicide in the village.”

The term “committed” has a different meaning to Veazey when in Fairbanks and on the East Coast. Here it means headed to college, while at home it means committing suicide.

“I really feel like I have a foot in two worlds here,” Veazey said.

After coming to Bates and starting her studies in neuroscience, she came to recognize depression as a mental illness. Watson will give her the opportunity to see how other countries treat mental illness.

“Bates opened my eyes to a lot of different possibilities,” Veazey said. She came into Bates driven by the need for security—earn a degree, then get a job. The emphasis on personal growth and impact instead of just a paycheck is a common Bates mantra, and the Watson Fellowship will only continue this independent, personal growth.

Helen Sudkamp-Walker, also from Fairbanks, has been part of the Bates Nordic Ski team since starting at Bates. She has found a lot of similarities between Maine and Alaska, especially the sense of community.

“Bates really helped me figure out that I wanted to do nursing,” Sudkamp-Walker said. “I’m a psychology major and hrough psychology I learned more about the social aspect of health and behavior change, and treating people as a whole rather than their disease.”

She took a healthcare administration Short Term course and shadowed a nurse practitioner and it clicked. She is entering Yale on the family practitioner track.

Sudkamp-Walker was attracted to the liberal arts experience because of her mother and a friend on the ski team who talked to her about Bates. If anyone asked her about coming to Bates from Fairbanks, she would stress the opportunities available with  a liberal arts education.

“The experience is worth it. You get to come out of your shell so much more than just staying with your high school friends,” Sudkamp-Walker explained. “I just think there are so many more opportunities to get out and explore the rest of the country that you should take advantage of when you’re young.”

Sudkamp-Walker will spend the summer working for her mom at a farmer’s market and working as a research assistant. She will also spend her free time getting outside to hike or camp.

While it may seem that Bates is flooded with students from New England, these three Batesies from Alaska have made an impact on the community and will continue to do so in their post-grad explorations.

That’s all, folks

I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what I was walking into when I accepted this position a year ago. Sure, I had worked for the Student since freshmen year. And yes, despite all the pushback when I told people I wanted to be a journalist, I still was holding out hope for the industry. And one confession: I wanted to be Rory Gilmore since I was 12 and I refuse to give up that dream. On a serious note, however, I had no clue I would be dealing with retractions, advertising nightmares, ethical concerns, inflated egos and downright distasteful submissions.

A quote that’s gotten me through this year has been, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” It isn’t always easy in a position where people don’t always agree with what you publish or what you say. If I could leave you with some words of wisdom though, it’s figure out what you value, but also know when those values should, and will, be challenged. That’s where the growth and learning happen.

For instance, in light of a surge in student activism at colleges across the country, and in the midst of a frightening presidential election marked by hateful, ignorant discourse, I found my previous, rose-colored understanding of freedom of speech and political correctness challenged.

Or rather, this past year with The Student has taught me that no matter how hard you push people to listen or reason with those they disagree with, sometimes people just don’t listen. And sometimes, you need to accept that you’re not always right, or that things change and you need to be open to those changes.

But those of you who kid yourselves and think you can launch a vendetta against a movement you disagree with, or resort to belligerent name calling and raging rants in an effort to get some likes on a Facebook post, well then, I’m not sure how much you have to offer. Little growth happens when you cater to only the closed-minded.

Despite feeling like I was just trying to keep my head above water half of the time, I’m proud of what The Student has accomplished this year. We covered local elections and inserted our voice into national conversations about campus PC culture. The Sports editors did phenomenal investigative work into the hiring and firing of coaches, the history of the NESCAC, and the international presence on the squash team. We were administrative watchdogs (when we needed to be) and we served as a platform to celebrate the artistic talent of the Bates community. And we took some kick-ass photos (but shout-out to Phyllis Graber Jensen for saving us on numerous occasions).

I could go on and on (no one’s ever called me humble) but if I could leave you with a final tidbit of advice, it would be to write for The Bates Student. Kidding! You should, but seriously: have a little faith in yourself and the people on this campus. Four years is too short of a time to dislike people over petty grievances or ideological differences. You’re missing out if you don’t take a class because you had one bad experience with the professor, or if you don’t participate in a club because that kid from your FYS is the president and you didn’t get along. And don’t let people dissuade you from doing what you really want. At the risk of sounding sappy, if Bates has taught me anything, it’s that the door is never shut for good—you just have to keep knocking.

Governor LePage holds town hall in Lewiston, Bates students protest

Lewistonites, Auburnians, and others from the surrounding area packed into an event space in the Lewiston Ramada this past Wednesday as Maine Governor Paul LePage held a town hall meeting. As one of a series of weekly town hall meetings held around the state, LePage fielded questions from his constituents for just under an hour and a half.

According to Peter Steele, LePage’s director of communications, the governor uses these meetings as a means of communicating his platform to his constituents without the threat of media bias. Steele added that the governor “isn’t asking people to agree with him, just to hear what he has to say.”

While introducing the governor, Press Secretary Adrienne Bennett expressed her and the governor’s desire “to have an open dialogue,” adding only one request: “that we all be open-minded and civil.”

These requests for open-mindedness, civility, and the willingness to hear the governor out were repeated like mantras by both LePage and his aides throughout the evening. At several moments during the meeting, Governor LePage repeatedly referenced his treatment by the media, arguing that they had failed to make good on the same requests he and his camp were making of the crowd. This reasoning was also used in response to a group of Bates students who, about fifteen minutes into the meeting, revealed signs reading “LePage: Maine’s Shame.” Then they voluntarily exited the event. “I hope you’re not Bates kids,” Lepage responded. “You’re giving the U.S. a bad name.”

Before taking questions from the crowd, the governor first gave what he described as “a quick overview of the state moving forward,” speaking on various topics important to Maine’s future. The first issue Governor LePage spoke on was the proposed minimum wage increase which will appear on Mainers’ ballots this coming November. LePage called the increase “detrimental” to the state, elaborating that “I don’t support a minimum wage, I support a living wage. I know poverty, the way out of poverty isn’t through a minimum wage, it’s through education.”

A few minutes later, the governor shifted his criticism to another 2016 Maine ballot initiative: a three percent surcharge on the income of any Mainer making more than $200,000 dollars per year, to be put towards funding the state’s education system. LePage stated his opposition to the initiative, calling it “an insult” to “people who are successful.”

The governor then shifted from the proposed initiative to Maine’s tax rates in general, arguing that they were too high to benefit Mainers. Central to LePage’s argument against higher tax rates was the notion that the people know how to spend their money better than the government does, and referenced other states like Florida, New Hampshire, and Texas, whose tax models he argued Maine should follow. “Elected officials shouldn’t try to tax you more, they should put more money in your pocket.”

Once the governor had said his piece on these issues, he opened the floor to answer questions from the audience, all of which were screened first by Bennett. This part of the meeting constituted the bulk of it. Governor LePage even stayed almost half an hour longer than he was scheduled to. Those who asked questions came from a relatively diverse background, from hardcore conservatives to one shop owner who identified himself as “very liberal.”

The meeting was not without conflict, however. After the protest by Bates students, LePage remarked on several occasions throughout the rest of the event that Bates students are “wealthy kids” who “don’t know what it means to work.” When one liberal constituent started off his question by stating that “even though I didn’t vote for you, you are my governor,” LePage cut him off, replying, “No I’m not.” The governor’s response to both these criticisms was the same: “America is a great country because you can make your own opinions, but you cannot make your own facts.”

 

Take a stand against racism

On Sunday, May 1st, the fifth annual Stand Against Racism workshop took place at the YWCA in Lewiston, ME. This year’s event focused primarily on females of color.

The event began at 12:30 with a keynote address by Shay Stewart-Bouley, the executive director of Community Change, Inc., a 48 year-old Boston-based organization fighting racism. Stewart-Bouley is also the author of the blog, Black Girl in Maine.

Moving from Chicago to Maine in 2002, Stewart-Bouley explained, felt like moving to another planet. What started out as a joke, her blog became a way for her to deal with the frustration she felt on account of her race, gender and geographical location. Living in Saco, Maine, days would pass without her seeing another person of color.

Stewart-Bouley started her address with two sobering statistics: black girls are suspended six-times more often than white girls are and black boys are suspended three times more often than white boys are. Although there is clearly still racial inequity in this country, Stewart-Bouley explained that many people do not have the language to talk about race and racism. She feels that the intersection between race and gender is imperative to discuss and that girls and women of color face very different realities than other groups do.

Following her short introduction, Stewart-Bouley sat down alongside a group of Lewiston High School’s 21st Century Leaders and engaged in a moderated discussion. The 21st Century Leaders is a fifty-student group that meets weekly to develop leadership skills and to mentor elementary students at Lewiston’s Longley Elementary School. This year the group also conducted a year long research project on school disciplinary policies in the Lewiston School District, urging the administration to move from punitive policies to more restorative practices.

The 21st Century Leaders on the panel were all black Muslim girls. Throughout the discussion, which consisted of a question-and-answer dialogue within the panel and with the audience, the girls revealed their experiences with racism. One such anecdote a student disclosed occurred when she was walking down a Lewiston street, minding her own business, when a white adult male yelled at her to “go back to her country.” Other girls said that people are skeptical when they say they are from Lewiston, even though they were born here.

Another powerful and emotional incident was one that Stewart-Bouley herself recounted. She was in the car driving at night in Chicago with her then husband, a white man. They were pulled over by a cop, which she assumed was for random inspection. But, it soon became clear to her that the policeman had other assumptions. He thought she was a sex worker, even after her husband introduced her as his wife. This event profoundly changed the way she saw herself, and still affects her more than twenty years later. She feels self-conscious about what she wears and how she presents herself, trying hard not to live up to stereotypes. This incident even affects how she parents her daughter.

When asked whether racism is based on one’s culture or color, Stewart-Bouley replied that racism is based on a culture of discrimination. According to her, there is a dominant culture in this country that black people are just not a part of.

The girls also asked Stewart-Bouley what she thinks they should do if they experience racism in school. She said “no one has to fix a problem they did not create.” She then explained that every teacher in Maine should have anti-racism training so that they are adept at handling those types of situations. Applause erupted. And after the keynote address and the moderated discussion, Stewart-Bouley received a standing ovation.

At 1:30 p.m., workshops were led by the Neighborhood Housing League, the Lewiston High School (LHS) Civil Rights Team, the LHS 21st Century Leaders and the Southern Maine Workers’ Center. They presented on such topics as racial justice and its relation to housing conditions, the school to prison pipeline, access testing, and redistricting. Another workshop discussed the role of white people in creating an anti-racist future and another allowed participants to interact with members of the Muslim community and to try on a hijab.

The day ended with an anti-racism march through the neighborhood and an official stand in front of the YWCA.

In closing, Stewart-Bouley addressed white people specifically: “You have to do this [anti-racism] work in your own communities and be relentless in that work.”

 

Common(s) Courtesy

Did you know one day in Commons, nearly 38 lbs. of food was wasted just by spills on the counters alone? If that’s the common practice, that adds up pretty quickly, averaging to about 10,000 lbs. of waste a year, according to a poster provided by Dining Services. And that’s just the food that gets wiped off the counters.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have three meals a day prepared for them by trained professionals and culinary artists—not to mention that these are some of the kindest staff members on the Bates College campus. Imagine how undervalued they must feel when people are careless and disrespect the food they work so hard to create.

Leaving tea wrappers on the counter, dropping food on the floor and leaving it for someone else to pick up, or dumping lemons in the fountain drink dispenser are a few behaviors that are an unfortunate occurrence in the dining hall. We see it everyday. Plenty of us have sat at a table covered in spills and food remnants, or grabbed the serving tongs only to find them covered in sauce, or sticky with jam. And I’m sure everyone at one point or another was the cause of these spills.

Some of this may be a matter of mere discomfort. For others, however, it is a matter of their personal safety. Cross-contamination is a serious matter, and Dining Services has made extensive efforts to ensure the wellbeing of all students with food allergies or dietary restrictions.

Back to the jam example: butter and jam makes toast all the better. Using a utensil that has already come into contact with nut butter or peanut butter, however, contaminates the jam for the rest of the campus community and makes the food extremely dangerous for anyone with a food allergy.

Heard this all before? Have you seen the signs posted at various stations? Sure you have. Now it’s time to take it to heart.

Those cross-contamination signs are not in vain. The nut and peanut butter station does not exist by chance. Everything Dining Services does is intentional and meant to make everyone’s meal time in Commons a happy and safe one.

“New” Commons as we know it today opened in the Winter of 2008 and has been staple of many students’ Bates experience. It is a social place, a community gathering place. Time, energy and heart go into the food that is put out each day for us to enjoy. So the next time you go up for seconds (or thirds), think carefully about how you treat the food, and the people, who make our dining experience feel like home.

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