Twenty Stories for 2020

August 20, 2020

In the past few years, I’ve come across many remarkable articles in past issues of The Bates Student. Some of these articles tell of momentous events: the creation of new majors, celebrations of great achievements, and proud deeds of activism. In 2012, we welcomed a new president; now in 2020, Batesies expect the college to earn Fulbright honors as a matter of course. As a college, we have so many accomplishments to be proud of — in the present and in the past.

Yet, these stories also provide a window into the concerns and disappointments of previous students. Articles drawing attention to the challenges faced by cherished local businesses, attempts of voter suppression and uncertainty about Bates security and community relations. Through these stories, we can better understand the outrage among students after the administration cancelled a beloved, but troublesome, tradition, as well as the ire that followed significant institutional and personnel changes.

The Bates Student doesn’t capture everything that goes on at Bates, and this is by no means a comprehensive list. But, I am immensely proud of my keen, tenacious predecessors and the legacy they’ve left behind. There’s nothing I love more than paging through old issues of The Student and reading about the people and events that came before us. Below are 20 of the best news and feature articles from the past decade, some selected to represent major milestones for the college, others for their timely and insightful coverage of student-centered issues.

New Major Dances into College Curriculum

Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

New Major Dances into College Curriculum

In a unanimous vote on March 7th, the Bates faculty approved the creation of a dance major, which will be the first new major since 1997 and the first major devoted to dance in Maine. This exciting victory for the dance department is the result of a seven-year long push from Director of Dance Carol Dilley. The dance department received administrative support from the Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jill Reich.

The approval of the major shows that dance has evolved from an extracurricular activity to an academic pursuit. “The campus community has accepted dance on the same level as any other area of study,” said Acting Director of Dance Rachel Boggia.



Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

Harvard’s former VP for Policy selected to lead College

After eight months of rigorously reviewing candidates and gathering community input, on Saturday, December 3, the Presidential Search Committee presented Ava Clayton Spencer as their candidate to the Board of Trustees, who voted unanimously to elect her the College’s eighth president. Although not assuming office until July 1, the president-elect was formally revealed to the public and welcomed at a community-wide gathering the next day, Sunday December 4 in the Gray Cage.

When former College President Elaine Tuttle Hansen announced last spring that she would step down to become the executive director of the John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, the College began a search initiative to determine the right type of leader to fill the position, and then to find and vet candidates. Since July 1 of 2011, Vice President and Dean of Enrollment and External Affairs Nancy Cable has served as interim president, a role she will hold until Spencer assumes office.



Ian Mahmud ’12 and Colin Etnire ’12, ranked among the top U.S. debaters in 2011-12

Brooks Quimby Debate Council now No. 11 in world, Etnire ’12 No. 4 in US

The Brooks Quimby Debate Council’s (BQDC) competitive success this semester was acknowledged by a drastic jump forward of 21 places in the international rankings, which were changed to accurately reflect how debate societies across the globe stack up against each other.

The updated world standings are just one reflection of the BQDC’s recent successes. “The debate crew this fall is the most impressive in recent history,” said Virginia Flatow ‘13, who has been a member of the BQDC since her freshman year. “The team has done amazingly, both individually and as an entire group,” she said.



BEAM Facebook

B.E.A.M. fights for an examination of the college’s endowment

Since returning from winter break, members of the Bates Environmental Action Movement (B.E.A.M.) have been making their presence known on campus through tabling and other means in an effort to gain support for their latest venture in combating climate change: a petition for an investigation into the fossil fuel investments of Bates’ endowment.

Addressed to both President Spencer and the College’s Board of Trustees, the petition calls for Bates’ leadership in this “critical point in the fight against climate change” and alludes to the college’s roots in “social justice and progressive thinking” as moral reasoning for such a move. The petition has garnered over 500 signatures to date.



Michael Bradley/Bates College

Pless wins third national title, men’s track takes 5th at NCAA’s

Senior David Pless further solidified his place as one of Bates’ all-time great athletes in winning his third NCAA Championship in the shot put. Pless’s best throw measured 60 feet and 3 inches, and Pless also placed second in the weight throw with a best effort of 64 feet and 10.75 inches. Beyond extending his national title streak, Pless also became Bates’ first eight-time All-American.

“This was the most significant nationals experience for me,” noted Pless, “Though I had won twice before, I was not jaded by my previous success. I was incredibly proud of the team. Everyone battled in the competition, which speaks volumes about their character.”



Peter Krieg/The Bates Student

Lost Valley Ski Area threatens to close

Bates and the Lewiston/Auburn community may lose their local ski spot this winter, as Lost Valley Ski and Banquet Resort is struggling to open its doors for the 2014-15 season.

Costs are mounting, according to co-owner Connie KingKing, who has owned Lost Valley for 10 years, said that electricity alone cost $17,000 in February, not including heat. Maintenance work is required to get ready for winter. A thorough state inspection of all lifts and equipment must occur before Lost Valley can open to skiers and snowboarders.



Phillip Riback/The Bates Student

Bates Students make their voices heard at the People’s Climate March

Bates makes history at People’s Climate March

Sixty students travel to NYC over the weekend

It’s rare to realize a particular point in time when one is making history. This past Sunday, Batesies had no doubt about it as they marched alongside a staggering 400,000 people down the streets of New York City in the People’s Climate March.

The People’s Climate March was a movement organized in anticipation of an UN summit meeting on climate change held Sept. 23.

Bates Energy Action Movement (BEAM) coordinated the trip. Students drove down to New York on Saturday in preparation for the march the following day. Bobcats from all class years stayed in different homes in and around the city; a Bowdoin student even offered to house some Batesies.



Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

Hundreds of Students from all class years gathered in Memorial Commons to hear from President Spencer and Dean McIntosh

The year without Trick or Drink: Tradition unexpectedly cancelled

Bates students were overwhelmingly disappointed last week when an announce email informed the campus that the long-celebrated Halloween tradition, Trick or Drink, was cancelled.

As Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs Joshua McIntosh explained in his message to the student body, the binge drinking and underage drinking that often accompanies this event, as well as the potential ramifications within the Lewiston community, do not align with the College’s goal to create a healthy, respectful social environment on campus.



Ashleen O'Brien/The Bates Student

A banner protesting the recent changes in staff and administration hangs inside the Perry Atrium in Pettingill Hall

RA passes no-confidence vote on President Spencer and Dean McIntosh

Last Wednesday, the Representative Assembly voiced their frustration with a perceived lack of transparency between the administration and student body through a vote of no confidence towards President Clayton Spencer and Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Josh McIntosh. Members of the RA were concerned about the announcement that Assistant Dean of Students Keith Tannenbaum and Associate Dean of Students Holly Gurney would be leaving at the end of the year.

The final vote was 19 RA members in favor, two against, and one abstaining.



Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

Athlete recruitment: A complicated and confidential process

College athletics is an incredible source of energy and excitement.  From the booming Division I football stadiums, to the raucous Alumni Gymnasium, college sports are undoubtedly an important component of college life.  But how exactly do these athletic teams form at academic institutions? In this feature, we examine different aspects of the college recruitment and admission process as it pertains to student-athletes, first by examining recruitment in the NESCAC, then through looking at Bates specific policies, and finally by examining Bates’ institutional philosophy on student-athlete recruitment.



Bates crew conquers New England and ECAC Rowing Championships

Though they may not compete under the spotlights in front of hundreds of fans at Alumni Gym or Garcelon Field, Bates rowing has been quietly dominating on the water. In the wake of the team’s historically excellent performances at the New England and ECAC Rowing Championships, a national championship is not an unreasonable prospect at the NCAA Division III Championships on May 29th and 30th in Sacramento, California.

The Bates women’s team has solidified the number one spot in the nation on the strength of their recent successes. At the New England Championships on May 2nd, Bates swept the first, second, and third varsity eight grand finals, the team’s best showing ever at New England’s. In the first varsity eight final, Bates’ time of 6:57.656 beat both Trinity and Williams, who were ranked first and second in the nation respectively at the time.

Later this season, the women’s crew team won their first NCAA Championship.



Max Huang/The Bates Student

The Digital and Computational Studies program is introduced to Bates with the help of Mike Bonney ‘80 and six other families.

College receives $19 million to establish Digital and Computational Studies Program

Bates College will now boast a Digital and Computational Studies program with the support of a $19 million donation from seven Bates families. In addition to the three new professorships needed for the DCS programs, a portion of the gift will go towards endowed professorships in neuroscience, economics and chemistry with a preference for biochemistry.

According to President Clayton Spencer, the faculty voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new program last May. The program will start in the fall of 2017 with a major intended for the 2018-2019 year.

The addition of the DCS program, as well as the three new professorships in the already established departments, marks the first expansion of the Bates faculty in over a decade.



Bates ranks 3rd in 2016 Fulbright “Top Producers”

The Bobcats have earned their place on Fulbright’s “Top Producer” list for the past five years. This year, Bates surged from 9th to 3rd in the country, ranking below only Pitzer (CA) and Smith Colleges (MA) for the Bachelor’s and Liberal Arts category. Rival Bowdoin ranks 4th with Williams close behind. With students travelling from Luxembourg to Malaysia or earning their Ph.D in Scotland, what is the secret to Bates’ Fulbright success?

The rise in both applicant acceptances is not random. In fact, Bates essentially builds Fulbright candidates from the moment they step on campus, argues Director of National Fellowships Robert Strong.


These fliers were dispersed around the Bates College campus early Sunday

Christopher Petrella Twitter/Courtesy Photo

These fliers were dispersed around the Bates College campus early Sunday

Maine ACLU asks US Dept. of Justice to investigate voter suppression effort at Bates College

Sunday morning students encountered bright orange leaflets reading “BATES ELECTION LEGAL ADVISORY.” The word ‘legal’ was underlined and had stars around it to add emphasis. Below that were two categorically false statements. First, students wanting to vote must change their driver’s licenses to a Maine license and second that vehicles must be re-registered, with a note stating that this often costs hundreds of dollars. The leaflets were immediately removed from Commons and dorm buildings, and a suspect was identified in the Lewiston Sun Journal as a tall blonde man.

Less than two weeks ago, Federal and State officials along with the ACLU of Maine published a press release on election fraud claims. U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II said in the press release, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”



James MacDonald/The Bates Student

What You Need to Know About Lewiston Police and Bates Campus Security

For years, Bates College has allowed students in their senior year to live off-campus, renting houses from local landlords. Most of these houses are situated very close to campus on streets like: College Street, White Street, Elm Street, Davis Street, and Mountain Avenue. Unfortunately, relations between these off campus residents and their neighbors, lifelong residents of Lewiston, have not always been companionable.

On August 24, Dean Carl Steidel and Mr. Paul Menice, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Interim Director of Security and Campus Safety, respectively, sent a letter to the student body outlining these concerns and prospects, including a call for “active leadership and engagement on the part of students living off campus” to ameliorate disruptive behavior.



Max Huang/The Bates Student

Bates Students register to vote in the 2016 election

Report Shows Disappointing Voter Turnout Statistics for Bates

From its very founding by abolitionists to its history as one of the first coeducational undergraduate institutions in the nation, Bates has prided itself on its reputation as a college brimming with active political awareness.

However, according to a study conducted at Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, only 43.5% of eligible Bates students voted in the 2016 election. While this number increased by 1.9% from 2012, Bates fell below the national voting average of 50.4% for all institutions.



Sarah Du Pont/The Bates Student

Bobcats celebrate after their victory over Bowdoin to claim their fourth consecutive CBB Title

Bobcats Takes Down Bowdoin to Claim Fourth Straight CBB Title

It was a great day to be a Bobcat on Saturday, November 6. The football team beat the Bowdoin Polar Bears 24-17 to capture the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title for a team-record fourth consecutive year. No team has won four in a row since Colby won five in a row between 1988 and 1992. The senior class of this team become the first to beat Colby and Bowdoin all four years of their careers,  an impressive feat in Bates’ 123 seasons of football.

“Winning the CBB trophy for four consecutive years is a testament to the strength of this senior class,” senior Grant DeWald ’18 says. “This journey began with Frank Williams’ overtime touchdown at Colby our freshman year, and every member of the senior class has played an integral part in keeping the trophy at Bates ever since. Years of pushing and setting the bar higher for one another has finally paid off, and the Class of 2018 will leave its mark as the first to achieve this record.”



Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

Professor Hill with 1991 open letter to the Times in protest of Thomas appointment.

Bates Professors reflect on Kavanaugh appointment

On Oct. 5, Senator Susan Collins voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, a vote that ultimately decided his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Two days before her decision, Collins received an open letter signed by faculty, administration, and staff members of higher education institutions around Maine: 84 of the signatories were from Bates.

The letter stated that the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh were credible and provided proof beyond reasonable doubt. The letter also reported a statistic that if each of the approximately 200,000 adult sexual assault survivors in Maine were to tell their stories for 15 minutes at a time, it would take over five years.




Christina Perrone/The Bates Student

Councilwoman Khalid Shares Goals for Lewiston

Sixteen years ago, a seven year old Somali girl arrived in a congested terminal of JFK airport alongside her mother and her two younger brothers with no knowledge of what the signs above read, no familiar faces to find solace in, and no way to ask for help from passersby. This young girl was Safiya Khalid.

Her family escaped war devastated Somalia as refugees four years prior, and stayed in a refugee camp in Kenya for three years, until they were eventually sponsored to travel to the United States where they expected to smoothly settle in to a new place they could call home. But upon landing in America, Khalid recalls being immediately confronted by frightening struggles. Her family’s case manager had forgotten to pick them up from the airport, forcing them to navigate American life all by themselves.





BCSG President Perla Figuereo ’21 (right) and President Lebanos Mengistu ’21 (left).

Perla Figuereo ’21 Makes BCSG History as the First Woman of Color Elected President

The Bates College Student Government (BCSG) released the results of the 50th BCSG election last week, naming Perla Figuereo ’21 and Lebanos Mengistu ’21 as the next President and Vice President of the 2020-21 assembly. The Bates Student has confirmed that Figuereo will be the first woman of color to hold the position in the BCSG’s 49 years of existence, making this milestone election even more significant.

While Figuereo is humbled to be recognized for this achievement, she’s even more excited to be a role model and source of inspiration for underclassmen.

“At Convocation [my freshman year], I watched Walter Washington give his speech and I thought, a black student body president, that’s so cool.” She said that seeing him in that role made her feel like she could do the same. Now as the President-elect, she hopes to be an inspiration for underclassmen and prospective students.




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Photo of Vanessa Paolella
Vanessa Paolella, Editor in Chief

Vanessa Paolella '21 was the editor in chief of The Student during the 2020-21 academic year.

At Bates, she majored in geology with a strong interest...

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