The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: March 2013 Page 2 of 12

Men’s tennis nearly shocks Johns Hopkins

Bates men’s tennis team, currently ranked 21st in the nation, narrowly missed upsetting the No. 8 ranked Johns Hopkins Blue Jays when they traveled to Baltimore on Saturday, losing 5-4. The loss will likely give Bates a slight bump in the rankings this week, as the Bobcats were only one set away from an impressive road victory.

Bates and Hopkins split the six singles matches, while Hopkins barely managed to edge Bates for two out of the three doubles matches.

In singles, senior two-time All-American Rob Crampton lost the top seeded game to the formidable Tanner Brown, who is individually ranked 21st in the nation, in sets of 6-2 and 6-3. Fellow senior and two-time All-American Matt Bettles highlighted the match for Bates, defeating the (individually) No. 5 ranked Andy Hersch in two sets, each 6-4.

Junior Timmy Berg showed determination and mental toughness in overcoming an early deficit and winning the second set in a heart-pounding tiebreaker. Berg won his match 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Sophomore Pierre Planche provided the third win for Bates, dominating his match 6-1, 6-2.

An incredibly deep Hopkins team managed to tie the singles matches at three matches apiece by winning the fifth and six seeded matches against sophomore Henry Lee and junior Eric Ruta, respectively.

In doubles, Crampton and Bettles showed why they combine to form the tenth ranked doubles team in the nation when they defeated Hopkins’ top-ranked duo 8-6. Planche and Berg came agonizingly close to winning the deciding doubles match, but ultimately fell 8-6 to the fourth ranked duo. Bates’ third doubles team of Lee and junior Ben Bogard also fell by a slim margin of 8-5.

We had our opportunities against Hopkins,” commented a frustrated Crampton, “It didn’t go our way this time but everyone on the team is confident in our big matches coming up against NESCAC schools.”

The loss moves Bates to an overall record of 4-5, and the Bobcats are 1-1 in NESCAC play. The tough test against Hopkins should provide a good springboard for Bates as it enters the heart of its NESCAC schedule in the coming weeks. Bates will next play at Tufts on Saturday in a match that the Bobcats will be favored to win.

Thinking about fossil fuel divestment

divestment_smallLast Wednesday, March 20th, the Bates Energy Action Movement (BEAM) and the Brooks Quimby Debate Council teamed up for the “divestment debate”. With the debate team’s help, BEAM sought to get more of the Bates community to consider fossil fuel divestment.

The debate was the brainchild of Annie Cravero ’13, the president of BEAM. Approximately 40 students attended the debate. The Mays Center was completely filled – to the point where some interested students had to resort to sitting on the windowsills to watch the debate.

Already, over 250 colleges and universities across the country have taken up the fossil fuel divestment cause. Students around the country are petitioning their administrations to begin investing their schools’ endowments in fossil fuel companies. Currently, BEAM is pushing for the Bates’ administration to divest the college’s endowment from fossil fuel companies. Accordingly, the debate centered on BEAM’s quest for fossil fuel divestment. The debate was structured as the pro-divestment side versus the anti-divestment side.

Two BEAM members, Jordan Becker ’15 and Cravero participated in the debate. They received a crash-course on public speaking before the debate. They were joined by several members of the Bates debate team including Ty Daly ’15, Matt Summers ’15, Kate Fetrow ’13, Ashleen O’Brien ’15, and

Taylor Blackburn ’15. Eric Devaux ’13 served as the convener and organizer of the debate.

“BEAM advocates for fossil fuel divestment and has been trying to raise awareness about the issue on campus for the whole school year. We’ve had many conversations with people about whether divestment would be an effective strategy and whether it’s worthwhile to do. So the debate was a way for us to address some of the questions and/or concerns people have been voicing about divestment and to let more people know about divestment. The debate was a tool that we came up with to educate the Bates community about divestment in general. We are very focused on creating and fostering conversation about this issue, and the debate allowed us to add to that conversation in a formal and public way,” explained Becker.

Therefore, the debate allowed for BEAM to share exactly why they support fossil fuel divestment. It presented an ideal opportunity for BEAM to attempt recruit other students to join them in their quest for fossil fuel divestment.

“BEAM’s main argument of the debate was that Bates is an institution with a moral responsibility to the environment. We cannot ignore this responsibility because it is inconvenient or because we stand to lose a small amount of profit. Choosing not to divest would undermine all the sustainability initiatives that Bates already has taken and would contradict the very words of our mission statement, which explains our ‘commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world’. Bates cannot be willingly complicit with the actions of an industry that will destroy the Earth and kill and displace millions of people,” said Becker.

Overall, the debate was well-received by the Bates community.

“It was great to be a part of the divestment debate. It was also really fun that Annie and Jordan were able to be a part of it. It’s unusual to have a debate that isn’t entirely composed of debaters. They both did really well. Because they know so much about the issue, they had a really nuanced understanding of the questions surrounding divestment and were able to lend a really unique and important voice to the debate,” said Fetrow.

One of the goals of the debate was to shed light on just how complicated the issue of fossil fuel divestment actually is.

“I hope that audience members were able to get a good sense of the main arguments on both sides, and don’t feel that the choice to support or not support divestment is a choice between preferenceing the environment or profit, because in reality it shouldn’t be reduced to a binary, it’s a lot more complex than that,” commented O’Brien.

In addition, participants in the debate hoped to spark more conversation on campus about fossil fuel divestment. They want to get as many members of the Bates community as possible to at least consider the subject.

“I hope this debate continues to stimulate conversation about divestment at Bates. Global climate change is probably the most pressing issue facing our generation, and divestment could be an important crux and focal point of that movement,” observed Fetrow.

However, of course not every aspect of the issue could be covered in one debate and some was left unsaid.

“Something I wish my side (the pro-divestment side) had responded to better was the argument that allowing for investment in fossil fuel companies increases our endowment, and therefore there would free more funds to be channeled towards making Bates itself more carbon-neutral. I think the causal linkage here is missing–the additional profits we make each year are not allocated toward green campus projects. Just because we are making more money does not mean we are spending more money on improving sustainable practices,” said O’Brien.

Mainly, the debate was an attempt to foster conversation about fossil fuel divestment amongst members of the Bates community. If BEAM succeeds in their goals, Bates will switch to divesting the college’s endowment from fossil fuel companies. This is a decision that would impact the entire college community and thus, demands at least consideration from members of the Bates College community.

Fiery comedic one-acts spark non-stop

What do you get when you combine failing marriages, grooms left at the altar, crowded honeymoon suites, awkward interactions with exes, and shouting matches that would be painful and uncomfortable in real life? You get comedy, if you let college kids act out these scenarios on stage.

Two one-act plays, performed together under the  title Nearly Beloved, opened in Black Box Theater this weekend with comedy and energy that made the space positively reverberate with laughter from the audience.

The plays, directed by sophomores Max Pendergast and Nick Auer, featured a wide range of actors from all class years. The two stellar casts, though distinct, seemed to unite together seamlessly for the two different plays through their equally humorous representations of tangled love relationships and complicated family dynamics.

Wanda’s Visit

by Christopher Durang opened the combined production, starring first-year students Rebeccah Bassell and Jonah Greenawalt and senior Marketa Ort. Greenawalt and Ort played Jim and Marsha, a married-for-thirteen-years couple, “an unlucky number,” Wanda (Bassell) quips as she relishes the taste of Jim’s and Marsha’s failing relationship.

Greenawalt and Ort depicted the failing marriage with humorous but nonetheless somewhat heart-wrenching tension, simultaneously revealing the smallest hints of underlying feelings with skill and believability. Bassell brought Wanda to life as Jim’s obnoxious, emotional, burdensome high school girlfriend, though such a definition of their past relationship is under debate for much of the play, which fuels much of its humor.

The three leads completely and perfectly embodied their characters. Greenawalt with his hesitant and back-and-forth manner portrayed a husband torn between his past and present life and past and present flames; Ort blended the wife’s tense, controlling manner with underlying sensitivity; and Bassell dove into the physicality of her all-over-the-place, over-the-top-emotional character with humor and confidence.

Though Woody Allen is most known for film screenplays, his play Honeymoon Motel is like his films in its adult, comic portrayal of love’s twists and turns, affairs and broken marriages, and overall ridiculous characters.

Auer’s cast featured seniors Charley Stern, Caroline Cook, Spencer Collins, Caroline Ulwick, Tommy Holmberg, and Max Arnell; sophomores Hanna Allerton, Abby Zwetchkenbaum, Ciaran Walsh, and the director himself in a cameo appearance.

Stern and Allerton opened the show as what the audience believed to be a newlywed couple in a honeymoon suite. However, as the couple’s numerous friends and family members barge in, they reveal that the bride (Allerton) has in fact run off with her groom’s stepfather (Stern). The play’s humor unfolds around the arguments that interrupt other arguments as rambunctious relatives knock on the door with varying urgency.

The characters and the actors who played them were hilariously vibrant. The groom’s mother (Zwetchkenbaum) and a shrink (Cook) arrive to yell at the step-father. The bride’s parents (Ulwick and Collins) arrive with the intention of helping their daughter but end up revealing too much about their own marriage problems. Though one expects the wedding’s rabbi (Holmberg) to be the voice of reason in the heat of the business, his drunkenness prevents such rationality, adds to the hilarity, and allows for an impromptu, inspirational speech from a pizza man (Arnell).

The chaotic group of ten yelled, quipped, reasoned, and argued with each other with impressive speed. Performing in a small space was also a benefit to the actors, whose constant movement and multiple dynamic interactions with each other heightened the energy and chaos of the play’s plot. The actors’ mastering of the script was a successful tribute to classic Woody Allen comedy.

Regardless of experience in theater, it is not easy for college students to portray adults navigating the marriage realm. It is a world into which our age group has not ventured, which presents a challenge to actors who often draw on past emotional experiences to bring out their characters’ emotions.

The convincing reality of the characters’ emotions and the rollercoaster of laughter, discomfort, surprise, and pity that the actors led the audience onto are therefore testaments to the skill of the actors involved. The noise in Black Box Theater and the crowds it received are also signs of Auer’s and Pendergast’s competency and skill in directing. Lewiston’s got talent.

Defining sexual health: A lecture by Steven Epstein

On Monday, March 18th the Bates community packed the Keck Classroom for Steven Epstein’s lecture titled “Sexual Health as Buzzword: Competing Stakes and Proliferating Agendas”. Epstein is a professor of sociology and the John C. Shaffer professor in the humanities at Northwestern University. The Bates Learning Associates Committee, African American Studies, American Cultural Studies, and Women and Gender Studies co-sponsored the lecture.

Epstein’s lecture reflects the early stages of a book he is currently writing while on sabbatical from Northwestern University. More recently, his work will be featured in a journal article co-authored by Laura Mamo of San Francisco State University.

Epstein opened with the observation that the concept of “sexual health” only dates back a few decades. Yet it is on its way to becoming a “recognized medical subspecialty”. Today, “sexual health” is featured in journal titles, commemorative events (Sexual Health Day), and there is even an app devoted to sexual health. “Sexual health”, Epstein argues, has become a “buzzword”.

Epstein conceptualizes a “buzzword” as possessing two conditions: emergence and proliferation. Emergence is how a concept comes into being and proliferation refers to “buzzword” as a distinctive scholarly topic. A buzzword, Epstein explained, has a compulsory quality – it is something hard to avoid. Everyone can use buzzwords and they can use them in different ways. “We can say ‘buzzword’ has become a buzzword,” joked Epstein.

However, the transformation of sexual health into a buzzword cannot be explained by institutionalization. No single agency or organization owns the term “sexual health”.

“Sexual health now appears to be everywhere but no single meaning prevails,” noted Epstein.

Epstein argued that the multiplicity of meanings attached to sexual health defy any simple attempt to arrive at a singular definition. Sexual health, Epstein stated, has resisted being packaged and standardized in a particular way and instead, has unraveled in different threads of meaning.

Epstein is not the first to acknowledge the perplexity involved in defining sexual health. In 1975 the World Health Organization (WHO) offered a uniform definition for the concept. However, just 12 years later in 1985, the WHO decided sexual health is not definable and then in 2002 the WHO contradicted itself yet again to offer another definition.

Epstein observed that in the 1990s there was a shift in conceptualization of sexual health from emergence to proliferation. The HIV/AIDS epidemic funneled the term into public discourse – sexual health became into a respectful way of addressing health issues. Today, sexual health is everywhere but it continues to lack a singular definition.

“In contrast of any established, stable meaning, sexual health appears to be now ubiquitous but it’s practically unattainable,” stated Epstein.

A primary contribution of Epstein’s emerging work is his 12 threads argument. Epstein highlights 12 distinct sexual health “threads” in the public discourse. His first thread is “sexual health as the surveillance, prevention or treatment of sexually transmitted infections”. This, Epstein argues, is the dominant thread of sexual health.

His other threads include the second thread “sexual health as biomedical practices to treat sexual dysfunction”. This is analogous to “sexual medicine” (i.e. Viagra). This thread embodies the “better than well” philosophy regarding sexual function.

His third thread “sexual health as the management of sexual side effects of medical treatment, especially treatment of various cancers,” is the idea of returning to “sexual normalcy”. For example, correcting side effects of chemotherapy that are inhibiting sexual function.

Epstein’s sixth and seventh threads are noteworthy because they sharply contrast with his eighth thread. His sixth thread “sexual health via the marketing of toys, devices, and other products that produce pleasure,” is tied to the seventh thread, “sexual health as enabled by ‘sexual health education’.

In juxtaposition, is the eighth thread, “sexual health as a conservative discourse”. This thread emphasizes abstinence, healthy relationships, etc.

Epstein’s 12 threads exemplify the plethora of divergent meanings attached to sexual health. Epstein argues that these meanings, while shaped by biomedicine, emerge from a diversity of social actors. Furthermore, discourses about sexual health are intertwined with other discourses including sexual liberation, and reproductive rights. Epstein also points out that sexual health has a “unique cultural force” stemming from its diffusion of meanings and the ability for everyone to be an expert on it.

In his work, Epstein is primarily concerned with how sexual health holds different implications for different actors. Does altering the meaning of the term across cultures, discredit the term? Epstein states not yet but by calling it a “buzzword” we are inviting suspicion in the future. There is the possibility for too many meanings, for the term to become too convoluted, and be eventually rendered useless.

Epstein’s top priority is to study when people use the term “sexual health”, and what they mean when they use it. However, he is always aware of the broader social context – other debates on sexuality are always occurring simultaneously.

Epstein’s lecture begs the question: What really is sexual health? And how many meanings are too many meanings?

Baseball splits at Husson

After nearly a month without playing a game, the baseball team finally returned to action at Husson this past Sunday. Thanks to Husson’s artificial turf field, the snow was able to be plowed and games able to go on. The Bobcats showed no signs of rust in their first game, scoring 10 runs en route to a 10-2 blowout vistory. In the second game, the Bates bats couldn’t replicate their earlier efforts, and the Bobcats fell to the host Eagles 5-3.

The Bobcats jumped out to an early lead in the first game on a Griff Tewksbury RBI double. From there they didn’t look back, as they added five more runs in the top of the third. Mekae Hyde, Ryan Sonberg, and Tewksbury loaded the bases with no outs for junior Kevin Davis, who singled to center, scoring Sonberg and Hyde. Junior Steve Burke followed suit, recording an RBI with senior Kevin McGregor doing the same.

Consistent hitting, along with a stellar performance by pitcher Brad Reynolds secured the eventual victory. Reynolds, primarily a relief pitcher prior to this season, went 6.0 innings only allowing one run on one hit with three walks, while striking out five. For the game, both Ryan Sonberg and Kevin Davis led the charge, both accounting for two RBIs while a plethora of other players chipped in with one a piece.

It was obviously great to get back out on the baseball field today [Sunday] after about a month of not playing a game,” noted Tewksbury. “I think there were some opening day nerves as it had been a while, but we definitely came out excited to play,” he added.

It was a much different story in the second game as Husson pitcher Brandon Reilly held Bates scoreless for the first five innings. Senior Ryan Sonberg broke the scoreless drought in the top of the sixth with a solo homer over the left field fence. In the top of the 8th, senior Tewksbury tried to get a rally going, drawing a walk and eventually scoring on Davis’s RBI single. Sophomore Rockwell Jackson reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a double by Sonberg, but that wasn’t enough as the Eagles won 5-3.

“Overall, we aren’t thrilled with the results from the day,” said Tewksbury. “But we’re taking away the positives as we head into our first NESCAC weekend against Tufts.”

Again, senior Sonberg accounted for much of the offense in this game, recording two RBIs and a homerun. Michael Spinosa earned the loss, going four innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts.

Bates starts NESCAC East play next weekend at Tufts.

Senior Bobcat, Quinn Moran, combines edgy with eclectic elegance

Fashion photo 2As the sun slowly sets over the Bates campus, Bobcats rush to the library to seclude themselves in the wooden cubicals for a night of arduous work. However, one Batesie looks ready for a night on the town. A cream floor length, pleated skirt contrasts her black lace top. Elegant? Yes. Edgy? Yes. Uniquely Quinn Moran? Absolutely. Overlooking the snowy Quad, this senior Bobcat opens up about her collaging obsession, her love of high fashion, and who supplies her with her bold and classy jewelry.

This Batesie has always had an affinity for fashion, especially through magazines. In the 7th grade, Moran insisted on decorating a taped-off section of her room with various high fashion articles and ads. Her clipping and collaging allowed her to live vicariously through “the beautiful photo spreads and fashion styling.”

For fashion icons, Moran admires the quirky styles of Cara Delevingne, Alexa Chung, and Nicole Richie.

“Each of them are able to assemble combinations that are understated and yet still paired with an unexpected piece that catches your attention,” states Moran.

She also admires the designers who are able to twist their signature styles in an interesting and fresh way. These include Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen (The Row, Elizabeth and James), and Alexander McQueen.

As for her own “signature style,” Moran cannot give an exact, pinpointed description. She tends to veer towards edgy pieces as opposed to a sweet or preppy ensemble. Moran tries to start with a classic foundation and throw in some eclectic accents.

“I gravitate to all things bohemian,” states Moran, “but I’m not afraid of some good structure, as in a great blazer.”

To this stylish Batesie, getting dressed is always entertaining as she tries to incorporate some of her own signature looks with new and fun styles found in magazines.

“A good outfit makes for a good day. I don’t over think it. If I like it, I wear it,” states Moran.

Moran comes from a very rural area of West Virginia where camouflage is not a trend but more or less a lifestyle. It is safe to say that Moran uses her hometown as an example of what she did not want her style to be.

This Bobcat’s favorite accessories are her mother’s and grandfather’s gold signet rings, which she wears on her right ring and pinky fingers.

You can spy this bargain-lover Batesie perusing the racks of thrift shops. During her time abroad in Copenhagen, she was able to find some of her favorite, funky sweaters in the downtown stores. Moran also enjoys searching through the numerous online pages of unique bohemian pieces at along with some solids and edgy basics from Moran’s main supplier of her statement jewelry is her grandmother. She also is a strong believer that “you can find anything and everything at Nordstrom.”

Looking to the future, Moran definitely thinks that it’s natural for a person’s style to change over time.

“It’s incredible how ever-changing fashion truly is,” states Moran. “Trends obviously loop, but they also transform in one way or another. In my world, that will never be boring.”

So catch this fashionable Bobcat, Quinn Moran, rocking her edgy, yet glamorous style down the Alumni Walk runway, around Frye, and beyond!

As the next round of Theme Houses are selected, students reassess the effectiveness of their presence

Selected each year by the entirety of the Dean of Students office, different theme houses are chosen each year after an application process that involves participation from both interested student groups and their faculty liaisons. This year the Arts House, Dren House, and Film and Culture house were chosen from six applicants, a 50% acceptance rate which the Housing Office calls, “about average.” The 2012-13 school year included five theme houses.

Houses are selected on criteria ranging from their inclusion of students from various class years to their ability to prove to the selection committee that their mission will be better served in living together. “Theme Houses are meant to improve the academic experience, both through faculty engagement and the living-learning environments that the houses provide,” offered Housing Coordinator and Residence Life Assistant Mina Beveney. Theme houses are expected to not only host relevant events within their own living spaces, but also events that engage the larger Bates community.

Beveney told The Student she believes theme houses are, “generally effective,” in accomplishing these goals, but student body response to theme houses remains split. Some, like sophomore and current Arts House member Sean Murphy believe theme houses create a scenario of, “a close knit community of people who share a common goal,” which Murphy adds is a, “unique experience.”

Although most students surveyed believe in the potential of the theme house, many in the Bates community call into question how successful the houses are in practice.

“What has the Arts and Sustainability [House] done this year? I know I couldn’t tell you,” said one current theme house member who wished to remain anonymous. “I think the administration is so focused on picking theme houses that will look good in a pamphlet that they rule out the more esoteric themes. But, this is a mistake because these weirder themes have the more involved and excited kids… They would make [students] more happy.”

Like most things at Bates, however, the consensus seems to be that you get what you put in. While Murphy cited Arts Crawl and other events as successes of his theme house, sophomore Kelly DiMatteo, a member of the Environmental Justice House, admitted that while she has not been adequately involved in her house’s activities, “my house as whole is very involved and does a lot to promote environmental awareness.”

The art of the upset

It’s a dream month for any sport fan, the perfect excuse for not getting your work done in time. The NCAA tournament is a special time of the month, not because #1 seeds get to showcase their talent and hotheads get to shine under the spotlight (we’re looking at you Marshall Henderson), but because it’s a place for mid-major underdogs to really live in the spotlight and shock many. Over the past couple of years, there have been many upsets; some shocking while others not so much. But, why do teams from power conferences such as the Big East, Big Ten, amongst others continuously choke in the postseason while the Cinderellas always find a way to win?

They are just having fun

I think many of the players on mid-major teams would admit that just getting a win in their first round game would be a major upset. Because of this, they relish in the spotlight for that moment, in what is probably the only time they will get to be in that position. But, with that attitude and talent, a mid-major can accomplish a lot more than just being a one and done. Eventually, once the team gets on a run and the fan base is behind them, there is no looking back.

Some mid-majors are just better than advertised

Many of the conference tournaments are televised, but usually only those of the power conferences. You typically don’t see the A-10, Atlantic Sun, or Missouri Valley tournaments on ESPN until the conference championship. That’s part of the reason fans are typically shocked at the athleticism and skill of some of the mid-majors; because they have never seen them play before. The lack of television exposure allows great players to fly under the radar, before catching fire under the spotlight that is the NCAA tournament.

After their first upset, it’s destiny

When they get their first win, you can just tell they are on a roll and were meant to achieve a lot. In 2006, George Mason did this, winning close games against Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, and eventually an overtime thriller against #2 UConn. VCU followed suit in 2011, a team that was largely unknown and shocked the world, making an improbable run through their region before falling to Butler in the Final Four.

The Cinderella of this year has been Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles should be the role models for any mid-major looking to make it to the tourney and be successful. Andy Enfield’s squad is athletic and talented, but hasn’t let the moment get too big for them. Because of this, this team has a whole country behind them and a whole lot of momentum going into their matchup against in-state opponent Florida.

Divestment is a waste of campus activism

Throughout the year, The Bates Energy Action Movement, or BEAM, has been working tirelessly to pressure the administration to pull its investments from fossil fuel companies.  It was revealed a few weeks ago that around three to four percent of our endowment is currently invested in fossil fuel companies.  Currently, our endowment stands around $216 million, which would mean about eight and a half million dollars is invested in fossil fuels.

There are plenty of practical reasons why retracting millions of dollars from fossil fuels and putting it towards less lucrative investments is undesirable for Bates students.  However, the purpose of this article is not to talk about the practical concerns of divestment but rather why the divestment movement at Bates is misusing its resources.

The problem with the divestment movement at Bates right now is that it is not the best use of time or activism on our campus.  As such a small school, Bates has a limited number of students who are interested in environmental advocacy.  In addition, the small student body cannot adequately process too many social or political causes at once and still pay attention to those issues.  How many times have you walked past a table of people in Commons trying to get your attention to sign a petition or attend a panel discussion?

In that sense, the BEAM movement to divest has been relatively successful in getting and keeping student attention in a way that many social movements around campus have not.  Protests like the one outside of President Spencer’s inauguration and the misguided attempt at a candlelight vigil have kept the discussion going around campus even after the initial curiosity has faded.

Given that the administration and board of trustees is not about to take a potential seven figure financial hit to the endowment any time soon, it would benefit activists across campus to get involved in other areas.  Another problem with divestment is that it divides the campus community unnecessarily. A student who is currently on the borderline of receiving financial aid or a student who relies on financial aid to attend Bates is not likely to support potential hits to our fiscal health.

Bringing more attention to environmental issues that do not divide Batesies by their wallets can actually lead to substantial environmental change.  Continuing initiatives such as protesting the Keystone XL pipeline and scheduling events around campus that bring awareness to environmental problems are better ways to increase environmental sustainability without alienating portions of the student body.

An example of successful campus activism was the campus-wide push by Bates Democrats and other liberal groups to encourage people to vote for marriage equality.  In that case, the activism had a clear and feasible goal that could be accomplished in a certain period of time.  Environmental movements that follow this blueprint on campus are more likely to achieve tangible goals related to consumption and corporate responsibility.

Another movement that BEAM could draw attention to is the Bates plan to produce zero carbon emissions by 2020.  Getting students to reduce consumption or lobby for more efficient ways of heating and construction allows for environmental sustainability while also helping the college financially.  There is also a specific end goal, zero carbon emissions, and a specific end date, 2020, that can motivate students to rally behind the movement.

I do not think the divestment movement is without merit.  However, the limited amount of activism that is available at a campus as small as Bates needs to be spent in the most productive ways possible.

Given that Bates is currently facing a crisis with its endowment, now is not the time to waste campus activism on an issue that will not lead to tangible change.

After all, there’s only room for four tables in the entrance of Commons.

Same-sex marriage returns to the national spotlight

It’s easy to forget that, outside of the Bates Bubble, much of America remains staunchly opposed to passing legislation to allow same-sex marriage. This past November, Maine legalized same-sex marriage with 53 percent of constituents voting ‘Yes’ to the question “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?” Yet in many states outside of New England, polling data shows that this issue is skewed in the opposite direction. Only 13 percent of those polled in Mississippi support same-sex marriage. In West Virginia, this number rises slightly to 19 percent, and six more states are also below 30 percent in terms of support.

These numbers are not entirely surprising since the South has traditionally voted much more conservatively than the Northeast in terms of social political issues. So why bring up gay marriage again?

This week the Supreme Court will hear two cases that have the potential to change America’s national trajectory for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, the court will hear the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry that challenges California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. The proposition was overturned in 2010 when Justice Vaughn Walker ruled that it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses in the U.S. Constitution. An appeals court upheld Walker’s decision, but the proposition’s supporters successfully petitioned for Supreme Court review as a last stand against gay marriage.

On Wednesday, the Court will consider the case of United States v. Windsor in which the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be called into question. Specifically, the case challenges Congress’s ability to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married according to state laws.

Although national support of same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of 58 percent (according to a Washington Post poll), there is no guarantee that the justices will rule in accordance with public opinion. In the past, the Supreme Court has ruled in opposition to the public in many high profile cases. When interracial marriage was officially deemed legal in the landmark 1967 decision Loving v. Virginia, only 20 percent of those polled agreed with the decision. Overall public support for legal interracial marriage remained less than 50 percent until the early 90’s. Similarly, when the Supreme Court found flag burning to be constitutionally protected in Texas v. Johnson (1989), the ruling only had the support of 24 percent of polled Americans.

In terms of this week’s cases, many political commentators are expecting a close vote with the generally conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy as the tiebreaking vote.  In 1996, Kennedy wrote the decision that overturned a Colorado ballot measure that banned recognizing homosexual individuals as a legally protected class. Seven years later, Justice Kennedy wrote the decision striking down a Texas sodomy law – a decision that effectively made same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state.

However, the decision is likely to fall short of legalizing same-sex marriage in the 41 states in which it is currently banned. Such a decisive ruling would likely encourage much backlash, and since other less-drastic options are available, the court may make only a limited ruling. For example, the courts could rule in such a way that same-sex marriage is affirmed only in California or in the eight states that currently recognize civil unions but not actual marriage.

In an article with Yahoo News, Law Professor Doug NeJaime from Loyola University agreed that the court would likely not make a drastic ruling.

“Things are accelerating so quickly that it seems like an opportune moment for the court to just be nudging that movement forward rather than making a really decisive move,” NeJaime said. “Instead they would just be allowing that momentum to continue.”

Legal scholar Douglas Kmiec also recently wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post in which he predicted a 6-3 decision overturning both Proposition 8 and DOMA.

After hearing these cases, the Supreme Court ruling will likely not be unveiled until the end of the court’s session in June. No matter what the final ruling is, it seems inevitable that same-sex marriage will not remain federally illegal for very long. Forty years ago, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case from a gay couple wanting to get married in Minnesota, stating that the couple’s claim raised no significant legal issue. Today, public support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high. It is time for the Supreme Court to officially place itself on the inevitable side of history: sooner or later, gay marriage will (and should) be legalized.

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