The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: November 2014 Page 2 of 7

Winter sports preview part 2

SWIM AND DIVE

The Bates men’s swim team graduated only three seniors from last years team that finished in 6th place of 11 teams at the 2014 NESCAC championships. The men’s team is expecting to improve upon that showing, given the large return of talent and chemistry they will have from last year’s team. The season gets under way for the men’s team this weekend at Wesleyan University, where instead of heading home for thanksgiving break, the squad will begin NESCAC competition. “Both the men’s and women’s team look to be stronger than ever on paper. However right now we are no where near where we need to be, and the teams are working hard to get a lot better” said head coach Peter Casares.

The women’s team is returning stellar sophomore swimmers Sara Daher ‘17 and Julia Smachlo ‘17, each of who received all-America honors last year at Nationals. These two will be looking to help the Lady Bobcat swimmers improve upon their 4th place finish at the NESCAC championships last year, with a conference championship in their sights, despite having graduated 8 seniors from last years team. Diver Emma Jarczyk ’17 will be hungry for improvement on her 8th and 12th place showings at the northeast diving regionals in the 3 and 1-meter events, respectively. The women’s team starts off their season at Wesleyan this weekend as well, as NESCAC competition gets underway.

SQUASH

Men’s

Coming off an impressive 13-7 season, the men’s squash team is a clear NESCAC competitor. They enter the season with strong momentum, having defeated Hamilton, Wesleyan, and Connecticut College in their first weekend. “This year it’s a whole new dynamic,” said sophomore Carlos Ames. “We want to try and break top ten. We’ll play to our full potential and just see where it goes from there.” Junior Amhed Abdel Khalek stands among the top competitors for a national championship, finishing the 2013-2014 season as the country’s 3rd ranked player. Sophomore Ahmed Hatata also looks to join the top ranks after being named the NESCAC rookie of the year last season. “Our team is really starting to come together,” said Ames.

Women’s

The women’s squash team finished 12-8 last season, earning the number two spot in the NESCAC. “We definitely have the potential to do as well as we did last year,” said sophomore Charlotte Cabot. Though the team lost a handful of seniors, the returners on the squad are primed to remain contenders. The season’s first weekend proved to be a great sign, when the team defeated Hamilton, Wesleyan, and Connecticut College. “We had high expectations for the weekend, and we fulfilled them,” said Cabot. The team will bring that momentum into the season and chase another top two NESCAC finish.

INDOOR TRACK

Men’s

The men’s indoor team took last season’s Maine State Championships, and they’ll look to do so again. “This year looks very promising, as we have a lot of new talent,” said senior pole-vaulter Eric Wainman. “Our top goals as always are to win states, win the NESCAC, and hopefully place in the top three at indoor and outdoor Division III New Englands.” As far as the NESCAC go, Williams is shaping up to be the team to beat. But with strong returners coming off of a strong year, Bates has a lot of potential, and a definite shot to repeat as Maine State champions.

Women’s

The women’s team also finished first at the Maine State Championships last year. The strong team should be competitive again this year, featuring a roster well spread out across the classes and with a lot of returners. Among these returners are junior Isabelle Unger, sophomore Claire Markonic, and senior Sarah Fusco, who were named All-American in the distance medley relay last season. The team will be competitors in the NESCACs and in Maine, and will look to have a strong showing in the New England Division III championships as well.

A harsh reality: The Homestretch

Last Thursday the Olin Arts Center, in conjunction with a volunteer program called New Beginnings, hosted a viewing of the haunting documentary The Homestretch.

This film tells the tale of three Chicago homeless youth, Roque (“Rocky”), Kasey, and Anthony, as they struggle to find stability in their lives. Filmmakers Anne de Mare and Kristen Kelly also critically look at the Chicago public school system, which fails immensely when it comes to homeless youth.

The filmmakers also feature an emergency shelter in Chicago called The Crib and a long-term teen shelter called Teen Living Programs’ Belfort House. The real-life narratives, along with the analysis of issues such as the lack of government involvement in youth homelessness, make this film an incredibly moving piece.

Beginning in his sophomore year, Roque was forced to survive completely on his own when his family was forced to leave the United States due to immigration issues. Roque is a particularly interesting character because he rarely reveals too much of himself throughout the film; he is not so much guarded or aloof as he is rather mysterious. This gives him a depth that becomes increasingly more fascinating as we learn more about him through his passion for Shakespeare and acting.

His teacher, Maria, took him under her wing and provided a home, food, and, most importantly a family for Roque. Maria has a husband and two children, but she cannot imagine her life without Roque. At one point, Maria says that Roque needs her as much she needs him. Roque makes it his mission to complete high school and go to college.

Before Kasey was forced to bounce from home to home, she faced judgment from her mother for being a lesbian. During her senior year, Kasey dropped out of high school. But she is nontheless enthusiastic and determined to succeed in life despite her obstacles.We first meet Kasey when she is living in a semi-permanent housing for teens. There is even a scene where Kasey, her mother, and grandmother are all together eating Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the people who run the shelter. This is especially moving because it shows Kasey’s immense capacity for love and forgiveness.

Anthony lived in foster care for most of his childhood. At 14, he decided to fend for himself and eventually ended up in the extremely supportive community at the Belfort House. He is a talented poet and rapper, and he performs his poetry during his “graduation” from the Belfort House. Anthony has a baby son who lives in foster care, but he wants to be a better father. At one point he reads his poetry while showing pictures of him and his son together, a particularly moving moment. Anthony passes his GED and is accepted to a Year Up Chicago Program where he works in telecommunications.

New Beginnings is a volunteer program that helps homeless youth in Maine. At the end of the movie, there was a question-and-answer session with employees of the program. One was a social worker who helps veterans find permanent housing, while the other was someone who was running an seemingly illegal homeless shelter. As he was once a homeless man, he knows how to help those in need of a home. He spoke about how he creates whole new identities for people in order for them to not merely survive in their lives, but thrive. He said that it is our right as Americans to lead a life that has stability, yet the government has not made it their priority to do this.

Both of these people spoke passionately about America’s issues with homelessness. The Homestretch ignited profound feelings for everyone in the theater because it gives a reality of a situation that has plagued America.

Ableist language and mental illness

One of the staples of modern-day society is our social consciousness, our effort to make legitimate attempts to acknowledge the existence of social issues openly.

In doing so, it is important to recognize the role that language plays not only in our thoughts but also in our attitudes and actions as a society. Our lexicon turns into the series of terms we allow ourselves to use for our inner dialogue, ultimately molding our attitudes, which are then reflected in our actions and behavior.

While the vast majority of people may innocently be using words under the cultural guise of colloquialism, one must consciously consider the weight and implications of the words that are often tossed around far too loosely. The following examples are not a cry for some Orwellian-thought police to enforce censorship for the crime of “political incorrectness,” but rather for a more reflective consideration of one’s vocabulary.

With all the social stigmata surrounding mental illness, it is becoming increasingly difficult for society to openly discuss these issues and help these people receive the proper help and support they need. We cannot achieve this if we insist on romanticizing, downplaying, and scoffing at mental illnesses.

Claiming to be “depressed” when there are no more large black salad bowls in Commons is displaying incredible ignorance to what this pervasive and persistent disorder actually is. Calling your roommate “OCD” because they insist on maintaining a clean room is belittling a serious anxiety disorder that millions suffer from. Saying “kill me” to someone because you have an exam coming up may possibly be one of the most strikingly insensitive things imaginable, given that there are millions of people who do take their lives because of society’s negligence and unwillingness to openly talk about these issues and getting these people the help that they need.

The fact that 38% of the schizophrenia references made by the New York Times in 2012 were metaphorical further displays the lack of attention and understanding we as a society are willing to pay to these serious issues. As a group of psychiatrists studying the media’s portrayal of mental illnesses said, “We look forward to the day when prevention and education, not metaphor and demonization, are the dominant messages carried to the public by news media”.

Instead of succumbing to societal conventions of speech, it is important for individuals to pause and seriously consider the millions of humans worldwide who suffer from some of the most unfortunate of mental health issues. By not downplaying them, we can begin important conversations about the marginalization of these people and the social taboo to discuss these pressing topics. Before using terms like “crazy,” “insane,” and “lame” to describe things as being “preposterous,” “irrational,” or “boring,” one should seriously consider the implications of using these words interchangeably, as well as the insensitivity stemming from the desensitization of these presumably synonymous terms.

Initiating and participating in meaningful conversations about mental illnesses can help open up important dialogue and might be what someone needs to come forward to confide in someone. By creating a safe and supportive environment, we as a society can slowly begin inching toward the elimination of this colossal stigma. In an environment in which students feel comfortable talking to others about these and perhaps their own issues, we will hopefully be able to finally provide the proper support they need and deserve.

Saferides and safewalks serve students on-campus

Bates Office of Security and Campus Safety instituted a program called ‘Safewalkers’ about 15 years ago in order to ensure safety after dark on campus. The program aims to employ student pairs to escort students to and from their dorms on campus after dark. Unfortunately, “the numbers have shrunk,” 12-year veteran Director of Security Tom Carey said in an interview on Friday.

The number of applications for the Safewalker position has dropped significantly and now the only hours the student employees on duty is between 8 and 10 pm. These safewalkers patrol campus, equipped with a radio and flashlight, responding to requests relayed to them through a dispatcher in the Security office located on College Street. Mr. Carey said of the program “It’s unfortunate that it has died back… the basic premise behind safety is that there is strength in numbers.”

In addition to Safewalkers, there is also a Saferide program that circulates campus. There are various points on campus where students can go to await the Bates van with yellow flashing lights. Signs for this program are posted by the entrance of each building on campus.

According to Mr. Carey, a Bates Security shuttle circulates from 9pm to 3am five nights a week and 10pm to 3am two nights a week.

There is a Safety Shuttle/Escort available to 1 or 2 students who feel their safety is at risk and want to cross campus. Carey spoke to the exceptions, which are also outlined on the Bates website. The shuttle does not accept intoxicated or disorderly students and reserves the right to refuse a ride to anyone.

The only provision for students who live off-campus is the offer of an escort or ride from campus back to their place of residence. Mr. Carey said that the safety shuttle would not provide a ride for on-campus students who had chosen to go off-campus.

“We believe in power in numbers,” Mr. Carey said “You can’t get a ride to campus from an off-campus house.”

When asked if he thought it posed a safety risk to deny students a ride back to campus after they had been off-campus, Mr. Carey responded: “I think they made the decision to go off-campus. I don’t feel the college has an obligation to provide them a ride back once they’ve left campus.”

“I think we are going farther than we have to give them a ride to their off-campus residence,” Mr. Carey said. “But I am willing to do that because at that point in time they are at least on-campus. I would not want that to become a regular situation.”

Yet a female student in the class of 2017, who asked to remain anonymous, presented a different opinion on the subject. “There should be provisions for a student who feels in danger off-campus, regardless of intoxication,” she said. “By getting intoxicated, by going off-campus, do you forfeit your right not to be verbally or even physically assaulted? Do you forfeit the right to feel safe?”

In reference to on-campus students who consciously choose to leave campus and drink at an off-campus residence, Mr. Carey said, “If somebody’s going to do that and make that conscious decision upfront, then they should of made the conscious decision to plan for how they were going to come back to campus,”

Mr. Carey suggests that if some students have concerns or problems with the current safety policies, they can go to him with suggestions for how to improve it. Availability of resources will always factor in. Students who decide to live off-campus should also consider the practical adjustments they have to make in regards to getting on and off-campus.

Bates’ neighbor and cross-Maine rival, Bowdoin, has a significantly more liberal policy towards safety rides late on weekends. According to their website the school offers a shuttle that not only ventures within a mile radius of the campus, but also offers to meet a student at a certain location if they are unable to get to a specified stop. The FAQ also mentions that security will transport student back to their residences even after the shuttle stops at 3am. The shuttle also does not stipulate that student may not be under the influence when he or she uses the service.

Mr. Carey mentioned that security would provide a ride to someone who felt unsafe off-campus but if security personnel are tied up it can create problems in terms of simple availability. The personnel limitations, he said, are due to budgetary restrictions.

Short Term 2015 abroad offers new travel opportunities

Short Term is labeled as a five-week opportunity for exploration and immersion in one particular field of study. Students can select courses for major or minor credit, or choose to delve into another discipline—sometimes taking the chance to study abroad. This year, five departments are traveling within the United States as well as in Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. Small class sizes ranging from 12 to 22 students creates an intimate climate to meet new Batesies on a journey abroad.

The Courses

The Anthropology department is offering a course in Kingston, Jamaica called “Place, Community and Transformation.” Course participants will join Professor Charles Val Carnegie in a “purposeful work” inspired campaign to assess the feasibility and possible benefits of NGO-supported green space development in Kingston. Students will serve as researchers and consultants, exploring the use of urban gardens, parks and other green initiatives to improve quality of life. Students will work with Jamaican architects, environmentalist, urban planners and more.

Professor Patricia Buck of the Education department will travel to Ethiopia for her course, “Teaching English in Ethiopia.” This course looks at not only the strategies for teaching English, but also the socio-political implications of language instruction as well—English is inextricable to the roles of “identity,gender, politics, the economy, and culture.”

Geology s23, “Melts, Glasses, and Magmas” with Professor Geneviève Robert, will begin with field work in Maine and end at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Batesies will observe the behavior of magma in different geological environments. Students will work in Bates’s very own molten rock lab as well as study Maine’s geology while hiking. In New York, students will study the geochemistry behind the glass blowing industry, gaining hands on experience.

Rhetoric s22, “Archival Research of Film and Television: The Cinema of John Ford,” focuses on the work of Maine native John Ford. Students will travel with Professor Jonathan Cavallero to Indiana University for a week—the University is home to Ford’s original papers as well as other film archives. In addition to traveling to Indiana, students will study for two days in Portland, Maine, where Ford lived and worked.

Lastly, the Theatre department is offering a course titled “Central European Theatre and Film.” Students will study how the political and social changes post-1956 Polish-Hungarian uprisings have effected film and theatre. Students will follow the evolution of culture through the Prague Spring in 1968, the Solidarity movement in the eighties, and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Professors Martin Andrucki and Kati Vecsey will teach alongside Central European scholars and professionals.

abroad eve maxon

The Experience

Short Term abroad is a unique experience. Last year, some students traveled to Malawi with the Psychology and Education departments to study development. Senior Nick Michaud—a year round athlete—used Short-Term 2014 to travel abroad and not interfere with his athletics.

“A Short Term abroad gave me the chance to have a transformative travel experience without leaving Bates for a whole semester. I’ve had the chance to travel abroad for athletics in the past, but none of the trips involved as much personal and intellectual growth as my trip to Malawi.”

Trips abroad have had a profound impact on participants. Junior Daly Johnson also went to Malawi. “I still draw on my experience in Malawi all the time, and feel incredibly grateful to have had such a special opportunity,” Johnson said. Johnson plans to return to Africa for her semester abroad—a decision she claims resulted from her experience in Malawi.

Batesies are encourage to apply their skills outside of the academic environment.

“The chance to spend time with a Bates professor and other Bates students on a trip to a beautiful and interesting place like Malawi, enabled me to use the critical and reflective skills we learn in the classroom to make sense of events, mundane or extraordinary, in front of me,” Michaud said.

The Logistics

Short Term courses abroad cost additional money apart from Bates tuition—financial aid is available for those who qualify. Information sessions run through the fall, including some this week, in order to begin processing passports and the collect necessary forms.

Don’t be a NARP

What makes someone an athlete? At Bates, this seems to be a very loaded question. If you’re a member of a varsity team, you clearly fit the athlete criteria. For the workout hobbyist or intramural enthusiast, the question is a bit murkier, and often significantly more contentious.

The term “non-athletic regular person” is, at its core, rather derogatory in nature. Bates College is not the kind of place where it’s typical to compliment somebody by calling them “regular.” Extraordinary achievement in all fields is the norm. Speaking of fields, I think it’s fair to say that, in order to avoid being a NARP, one must be intimately familiar with all kinds of fields and arenas, from the turf of Garcelon to the hardwood of Alumni Gym. And even though I can’t find a coherent, universal definition for a NARP, the sporting spirit is clearly essential.

The fringe NARP’s who become apoplectic when referred to by this enigmatic label perplex me. Why worry about the liberal usage of such an arbitrary term? Considering who tends to do the name-calling, this irrational fury might stem from a desire to belong, an inclination to defend a fragile ego, and pure fear. Perhaps this description is a bit extreme, but I do think it’s a fairly common reply to the feeling that a hulking lacrosse or football player is staring into your soul, penetrating your weaknesses, poised to demolish you to into total oblivion. I imagine that such a vicious, blindsided hit could leave you stunned, back in right field, humiliating yourself in front of everyone in the entire world with your inability to catch a baseball.

Should the crude insinuation that you’re unathletic spur such a crippling spiral of insecurity? Probably not, but it’s really not that anomalous. For the motivated, ambitious, and self-assured Batesie, there’s nothing worse than realizing that, in one respect, you’re a regular person.

Student government introduces “It’s On Us” initiative

Bates Student Government is making a concerted effort to reduce sexual assault on campus. The It’s On Us campaign was launched by President Obama in September to draw more awareness towards college campuses.

“We are looking at sexual assault not only as a crime, but as a social issue, and so change must come from the student body itself,” junior Forest Naylor said. Naylor is currently working on the It’s On Us Facebook page on behalf of the student government.

Student Body President Alyssa Morgosh started the initiative which has resulted in multiple meetings with student club leaders. Morgosh has been in contact with White House officials about implementing the project on campus.

It’s On Us acknowledges that one in five women are sexually assaulted during their college years but only 12 percent of assaults are reported and only a fraction of offenders are punished.

“It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable,” President Obama said during a September press conference.

Bates is attempting to proliferate It’s On Us through student organizations. Other schools such as Yale University have multiple student organizations pose with banners that state their solidarity with the It’s On Us Campaign.

“I would say many, if not most, Bates students are genuinely surprised to find out how common of an occurrence sexual assault is on our campus,” Naylor said. “I would like to see many, and hopefully even most, Bates students aware of just how big of a social issue sexual assault is at Bates.”

The It’s On Us Campaign is distinct from other groups on campus, such as Men Against Sexual Violence, because its goals are not focused on one specific group. However, members of MASV and other groups have been contributing to the initiative and their main goals of increasing awareness and encouraging people to take part in campaigns are largely the same.

The White House is taking the following steps as part of the It’s On Us Campaign. A White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault will work with colleges and universities on developing best practices on how to respond and prevent sexual assault. The administration will review existing laws to make sure they adequately protect victims of sexual assault and will send guidance to every college, school district, and university that receives federal funding on their legal obligations to prevent and respond to sexual assault.

“We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should,” President Obama said. “We make excuses. We look the other way. The message that sends can have a chilling effect.”

On campus, the It’s On Us initiative will table in Commons to encourage students to sign the It’s On Us pledge. The pledge asks students to be part of the solution rather than a bystander to the problem. The group will be giving out informational pamphlets and stickers to increase awareness.

“We have had meetings and presentations with student leaders, largely from athletic teams and clubs, to give them information and ask that they initiate a conversation about sexual assault with their teams, clubs, and friends,” Naylor said.

Men’s and Women’s cross-country compete at NCAA Regionals

On Saturday the cross-country teams competed at NCAA Regionals, held at Mount Greylock High School in Williamstown, MA. The women faced a challenging six-kilometer course, but ran well and placed tenth out of 57 teams, with all seven Bates runners placing among the top 100. This is the third straight year that Bates has made a top ten finish and has had all seven runners place in the top 100. Senior captain Elena Jay led the Bobcats, placing 37th among the 387 competitors with an impressive time of 22:58.9. If she had finished 0.4 seconds faster, she would’ve earned All-New England honors for the third time of her career. As it was, she ran her best race of the year according to head coach Jay Hartshorn. Junior Isabel Ferguson also ran her best race of the season, coming in 57th placunnamede in 23:24.8. Sophomores Molly Chisholm and Jess Wilson finished strong seasons, placing 74th and 88th respectively. Freshman Katherine Cook ran a great race, coming in 84th at 23:55.3. Bates’ displacers were junior Addie Cullenberg and senior Erica Gagnon, who crossed the finish line almost at the same time, 24:14.4 vs. 24:14.3, to come in 97th and 98th place. Unfortunately, the performance was not enough to make it to Nationals, but most team members will run indoor track now that the cross-country season is over.

The men’s team ran to eighth place out of the 54 teams on the difficult 8-kilometer course. This is the fifth straight year that Bates has placed in the top eight finishers. Senior captain John Stansel placed 18th among the 373 total runners with a time of 25:52.3. He alone will advance to NCAAs for the third straight year after competing with the whole team the last two years. Sadly, the rest of the team will not accompany him.

“Our team ran hard and put a really good effort out on a hilly course. Everyone is very young and they learned a lot from a race situation that many of them had never been in before. While we are disappointed that we didn’t have a good enough race to warrant selection, this race will be invaluable in the future as these runners take over the leadership of the team,” commented Stansel.

unnamedThe men did run well, with two All-New England awardees. After Stansel was junior Allen Sumrall, who in the last race of his first collegiate cross-country season placed 34th in 26:17.9. Other scorers for Bates were senior Michael Creedon (67th), first-year Zach Magin, (69th), and sophomore Evan Ferguson-Hull (78th). The displacers for Bates were sophomore Michael Horowicz and junior Taylor Saucier, who ranked 87th and 124th respectively. Although the season is over for the team, they will still be supporting Stansel at Nationals.

“As far as my personal race is concerned, I did enough to earn an individual berth; however, I wish I could have done more to help the team qualify,” said Stansel.

He will compete individually at the NCAA Division III Championships at Wilmington College next weekend. A true leader who puts the team before himself, Stansel will have the support of his whole team as he runs for a national title.

It happened then too: A literary window into sexual assault

There was once a Kasper Hauser Comedy podcast that pretended there was a game show called “Phone Call to the Fourteenth Century.”

The premise was that the contestants would make phone calls to the people of the Middle Ages to give them advice about how to live better (“Impart as much useful knowledge as you can to a resident of the 14th century in one minute!” the fake show’s motto says). The twenty-first-century phone callers shout out humorously accurate and arbitrary advice like, “Witches aren’t real, everybody floats!” and “Don’t throw out the middle of the donut, you can sell it!” as well as various suggestions for better hygiene and nutrition.

The fourteenth century was seven hundred years ago. Obviously the world has changed, and we like to make jokes about how much worse life was back then. Yes, medieval hygiene was usually terrible. People didn’t eat many fruits and vegetables. There was no electricity; houses and streets were terribly pitch black at night. Women couldn’t own property. The lower classes lived sucky lives. So of course we think, aren’t we lucky to live in the modern age? We understand the importance of bathing and eating colorful foods; we can stay warm in the winter with central heating and cool in the summer with air conditioning.

And yet, we have inherited something from the Middle Ages, something from the beginning of time really, that we still haven’t changed.

Sexual assault happened then too. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about it all the time.

Chaucer was a poet and political operative living in London in the fourteenth century. He was born in the 1340s and married a lady-in-waiting named Philippa in 1366. They had a son a year later. In 1380, when Chaucer was about 40, he was accused of raping a woman named Cecily Champaigne. There isn’t an official record of the rape itself, but there is a record of Cecily dropping the charges against Chaucer for her rape. The witnesses to the document record were all men with positions like high-society businessmen, members of the royal court, a former mayor of London…so Chaucer was fine. He also continued to get life supplies of wine and money from the King of England as a reward for the diplomacy (purported espionage) he conducted abroad.

In The Canterbury Tales, the work that the Chaucer course in the Bates English Department focuses on, there are more than five tales that involve some sort of sexual assault or raise the issue of sexual consent. Hardly anyone today would guess that these issues appear in the tales before reading them, because we don’t always think of medieval literature or culture as something that revolves around sex politics. But Chaucer’s stories do.

One of the questions the students in the Chaucer course (disclaimer: I’m one of them) always have to ask ourselves is whether the women in the stories seem to want the sex they receive from men, who are sometimes their husbands and sometimes not.

In one case, two male students are staying the night in a family’s home, and they decide they want to have sex with the mother and the daughter of the family. Chaucer writes that the daughter didn’t even have time to scream, because the guy jumped on her so quickly. But maybe she wouldn’t have. The other guy gets into the mother’s bed while she’s in the medieval version of a bathroom, and when she gets back she has sex with him, thinking it’s her husband. But then again, Chaucer hints, maybe she knows it’s not her husband. Maybe she wants it. (Side note: All of the characters in this story are drunk at the time.)

That’s what’s tricky about the consent issue in Chaucer–he writes it in a way that makes you think he’s purposefully blurring the lines, purposefully making it as complex as a lot of sexual assault cases today, which makes you want to time travel back to the fourteenth century grab him by the collar, and ask, “Who wanted what? Did no mean no for you guys too?”

It’s almost too easy to guess what authority figures would have said if the mother and daughter had accused the men of rape. You didn’t say no, so it can’t have been rape. You know it’s pitch black in your bedroom (this is the fourteenth century), you should have made sure it was your husband. The modern reader just wishes Chaucer would tell us what he was thinking.

Aside from the fact that time traveling isn’t possible, the idea of this conversation in itself is crazy–that a person today could actually find something to talk about with Chaucer, and he would understand (although you might need a Middle English translator). You couldn’t talk to him about iPhones or Yik Yak or other creations of the modern world, but you could talk to him about rape and consent. It’s incredibly sad that a modern victim of sexual assault shares something in common with that daughter in The Canterbury Tales, because not only is it a horrible thing for any single person to go through, but it also shows us what we haven’t changed yet.

Which makes me want scream, Seriously? That’s what we’ve inherited? We could have kept a diet that was heavier on meat, or the beautiful castles without central heating, or the gorgeous books with gold-embellished pages. But we kept sexual assault.

If Chaucer lived today, I would like to think that his assault on Cecily would be more thoroughly investigated, that he would be legally punished if he were found guilty of rape, that his status with political figures wouldn’t protect him, that the men in those positions would be sensitive to the girl’s situation, that the girl opening up about her rape wouldn’t be scared to pursue justice. It’s hard to tell whether all of those issues have improved by now.

If only we could use our phone call to the fourteenth century to say, “Start changing sex culture now. Start preventing rape from happening, and start creating a clear punishment system around it, because then maybe we wouldn’t still be having as many issues as we do.”

But since we can’t get a phone call to the fourteenth century, we just have to give a louder wake-up call to the one we’re living in.

Update on Milts’ renovations

On December 1, 2014 the Milts space will re-open as a printing and computer center, featuring one black and white Paw-Print printer and two computers. Additional features include counter workspace, USB and power outlets, wireless and cafe tables and chairs.

“In discussions with students, we heard that there was a desire for an additional printing venue on campus and this looked like the perfect opportunity to provide this service at minimal cost,” Andrew White, Director of Student Service said.

White, along with Michael Gustin, Project Manager of Facility Services, and Christine Swartz, Assistant Vice President for Dining, Conferences and Campus Events, worked together to plan this new space.

“We hope you find it a useful addition to public campus spaces. Bear in mind that the hours for the space mirror those of Commons,” said White.

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