The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: February 2015 Page 1 of 4

Sexual assault prevention at its un-finest

About two weeks ago, the National Panhellenic Conference, the leaders of university sororities across the country, sent a letter to University of Virginia sororities telling the women that they would not be allowed to attend the fraternity parties on the following Saturday night. That Saturday was Boys’ Bid Night, when the fraternities’ parties would welcome their new members in an apparently rowdier-than-usual atmosphere.

UVA was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 and often prides itself on tradition, but with this new strategy it might as well be turning back the clock even farther back. The message that the NPC is sending out echoes the mindset nineteenth-century women had to deal with. You can’t make yourself look pretty, or you’ll get raped. Then your life will be worth nothing. You can’t go out on Saturday night, or you’ll get raped. And you—not the frats—will be held to disciplinary action by the university for being at those parties, because boys are boys…so can you really blame anyone but yourself?

Imagine for a moment that the Bates administration sent out a letter to the entire campus saying, “Sorry girls, you can’t go out to Frye Street, or the Village, or JB, or any off-campus houses on Saturday night, because there will be boys there.”

True, Bates doesn’t have fraternities and sororities, and yes, these organizations are often unfortunately sites of sexual assault. But obviously sexual assault exists here. If the administration split the student body the way UVA essentially did into men and women and gave them different degrees of privilege, not only would it be anti-Bates-philosophy, but I’m pretty sure it would ignite a stronger reaction than the one we had to the cancellation of Trick-or-Drink.

Speaking of that infamous October event, the Washington Post article about the UVA issue said, “Many students were sympathetic to the goals of the national sorority leaders and understood the difficulty of keeping women safe, particularly when they’re not sober. They just didn’t like the method.”

Sound familiar? This rhetoric—minus the specific implications for women—could easily define many Bates students’ reactions to the cancellation of Trick-or-Drink: Yeah, we get that the goal was to stop the issues that arise from our drinking culture for a night, but the way it was cancelled, some say, wasn’t so great.

As college students, we need to acknowledge how our drinking culture affects us as a community and the outside community. Nearly all sexual assault cases occur because the aggressor and/or the victim is drunk, so college administrations are naturally going to focus on curbing alcohol consumption. But college administrators also need to be conscious of how they are attempting to accomplish this, because without enough consideration, they can end up sounding patriarchal and archaic at UVA, as well as ignorant of their own implications.

Many conversations about sexual assault revolve around the statistic saying that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. But not only is it ignorant to assume that fraternity boys are the only committers of sexual assault, it is also ignorant to assume that all women are victims—and that the only female victims are sorority girls—simply because they go to a party. Because they’re wearing short skirts or tight tops, because they’ve put on make-up, because they might be flirtier than usual after a couple of drinks…this is the activity that UVA was trying to stop on a Saturday night, rather than trying to stop the actual boys—or whoever they think commits rape—from drinking too much, from getting too aggressive, from taking a girl to a room where no one can hear her scream.

What about the UVA girls who aren’t in sororities? If the NPC and UVA are concerned about rape at frat parties, they should be concerned about any parties with men and women in the same room. But they’re ignoring those gatherings, because incidents at frats and sororities are the newsworthy ones that could be published in Rolling Stone. So non-sorority girls, you can relax. You don’t need attention or protection at the moment. Go to male-occupied parties and drink, and you’ll be in a safer situation than sorority girls doing the same thing.

The letter and its message might not have been purposefully trying to “victim-blame,” but it certainly comes off that way. It is time for colleges and our society to realize that perhaps the way to deal with sexual assault is not to tell women to be afraid of men, and not to focus the premature blame on the presumed victims before anything happens. They may be attempts to increase the prevention of sexual assault rather than just post-incident support, but we need to make the preventive measures more about changing the “boys will be boys” culture we live in rather than restricting what should be—in this century—women’s and students’ rights.

Activism? At Bates? Which way did it go?

I have been writing this piece on the walls of Bates for a while. In recent months, boats have been shipwrecked in front of Commons, public death has occurred at our most popular eatery, paintings have been nailed up, cars have been parked, and, in addition to this, some activism happened. So what’s it all mean?

I don’t know, man. Seeing is believing, and yet the meaning of the Bates Naval Historical Society’s rendition of the losing battle between Academia Batesina and the H.M.S. McIntosh remains in obscurity. The Academia sank and all was lost: and yet this display in many ways has had more of a presence at Bates than discussions about Ferguson. So what’s it all mean?

I was involved in the exclusive Facebook group chat that discussed “Ferguson at Bates,” and was a member of the group planning the die-in. I remember being the only male (a white male, indeed) sitting in a house on College Street in a room full of female Bates students. I recall mentioning that the die-in should include the public, and that the focus of the group should not be solidarity between a minuscule entourage and a national movement and should instead foster campus-wide solidarity behind the issue. For example, don’t go into Commons and tell a room full of people that they could not possibly understand; acknowledge instead that nobody at Bates could possibly understand and that it is our responsibility to educate each other.

I suppose the die-in was the closest thing to direct activism seen at Bates in recent days. It was, in my book, a step in the right direction. Students have stepped up for what they believe in. In doing so, however, “educating” an “ignorant” populace, they have managed to estrange themselves from the only constituency they could have had, had they included their captive audience in the discussion from the get-go.

So where is Ferguson-related activism at Bates now? I don’t know, man. Aside from SANKOFA and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I have not seen or heard even a bit of the rhetoric or student passions that drove (part of) the campus to mass, orgasmic revolutionary catharsis several weeks ago. On the other hand, now we can all be activists, the bouncer at the Pearly Gates has our names on the list. I feel better.

In the last issue of The Student, Editor-in-Chief Alex Daugherty called for more student participation in terms of elections and petitions; for the new student body president Berto Diaz to get his hands dirty and shuffle off that mortal coil of pomp and circumstance that has forever shrouded our prestigious student body presidency.

Daugherty argues frankly that, with an authoritative president packing “hundreds of voting-age student signatures on a petition,” the administration “will at least listen.” Okay. With respect to the issue of invoking some form of authority over the decisions of the administration (which will of course be here after every single Batesie is long gone) would be a valuable first step in having a voice in the institution of which every Batesie has become a part. However, the issues that surround this claim run shallow: parking, Throwback Night, Trick or Drink. I’m baffled that the call for student participation at one of America’s most historically progressive colleges has limited itself to resolving issues about parking and booze.

Then again, we seem to have an idea at Bates that student vocalization regarding locally relevant issues (the work of the Juice Boys, for example) is considered activism in the same sense that those movements which immediately latch to national fervor (the die-in). We seem to constantly ask ourselves why it is that some forms of student action under the banner of “Bates activism” succeed as other forms are dead on arrival.

I agree with Managing [News] Editor Hannah Goldberg that “not all forms of protest are created equal.” The Juice Boys have never, in my time here, labeled themselves activists and have not seemed concerned with attaching themselves to any national movement, ever. In fact, I have yet to see the Juice Boys put their name on anything this school year. Yet the work they do is consistently effective in conveying whatever message it was they had in mind; but can we even call them activists in the same way that activists at Bates consider themselves “activists”?

Such exclusive forms of mobilization as the die-in have served to reinforce an “us-them” mentality. Mass invitations were not sent out because the ignorant masses needed an education dished out by a small, self-righteous group of true believers, while the Juice Boys include every single Bates student in every prank they commit.

Activists at Bates take themselves so seriously, and act so quickly, passionately, and without strategy that “activism” has come to represent a form of cathartic release. Even the Civil Rights Movement had a focus on local activism, maintained even on a national level. The activists of Bates are the types to show up to a climate march some Sunday because it’s quick, convenient, something to put our name on (and then follow up with a beer with friends before the long drive home). It is becoming harder and harder to take activism at Bates seriously when the best our student activists can do is tell people they cannot possibly understand.

Olivier Brillant, co-director of this year’s SANKOFA, noted in an interview with Goldberg that “Ignorance is okay…you cannot yell at someone who is not educated about something.” I wasn’t at the die-in (I wasn’t invited, were you?), but I heard that there was some yelling, dogmatic, tired and banal, at a big, born-ignorant fleet of elite liberal arts students. When did indoctrination come to mean education? Maybe this is how Bates avoids effective advocacy.

I don’t mean to inveigh against the slacktivism that has come to replace real activism in this glorious snow globe in which we live: it’s always good to have something to your name; straight shots of activism have me so fired up that I might actually go out, find my soapbox, and give the world a talking to. Right, Vonnegut? Yeah, man.

What’s up with the cups?

First, they took our mugs.

Now, just when we’ve finally come to know and love the 16-ounce disposable cup, they’ve robbed us of a precious four ounces, leaving the new cups at a measly 12 ounces.

What’s next? Will they strip us of our chairs, tables, plates, and silverware, forcing us to sit on the ground and eat with our hands like barbarians? A moment of silence for Commons’ impending regression into the Stone Age.

But now, an actual moment of silence for the $33,000 we squander each year because of liquid waste. Maybe switching to a smaller cup isn’t such a bad idea.

“But I forgot about it, and it got cold,” my roommate says in reference to his fourth cup of hot chocolate that lies untouched on his desk. While most people at Bates probably don’t waste four cups of hot chocolate in a day, it’s certainly easy to get complacent about wasting a half-cup because your beverage got cold or because you simply forgot about it. We need to remember that this waste adds up collectively as a school and over the course of a school year.

The problem really lies in the size of the cup. When Commons workers examine the cups that come in through the conveyor belt, they consistently find that more liquid is left in the larger paper cups than in the smaller plastic cups. This presents another problem. While Commons workers know to drain the liquid left in the cup before disposing of the cup, the busy Bates student tends to struggle with this concept.

Properly disposing the cup and the liquid within that cup is an equally pressing issue in addition to the liquid waste problem. More often than not, liquid remnants end up in trashcans and recycling bins rather than in sinks and drains. If you leave liquid in the cup before recycling it, the liquid contaminates the whole bin and deems all of the cups in that bin unusable for recycling. When energy is expended in order to recycle a larger cup, that’s one issue. When even more energy is expended in order to create those larger cups from scratch because of recycling bin contamination from liquid remnants in that large cup itself, the issue of the larger cup becomes even more pertinent.

The other consideration is that liquid in trash and recycling bins makes an unpleasant job that much worse for the staff who have to deal with it. At an individual level, the best way to solve this problem is to take the amount that you will actually drink, finish your drink (and if you cannot, drain it), and then recycle it. At a school-wide level, the solution to this problem lies in the smaller cup and the Bates Mug Program.

While numerous solutions to this problem have been proposed to Commons, such as incorporating multiple cup sizes, ceramic mugs that stay in Commons, and an even larger transparent plastic cup, the most economically feasible and environmentally conscious solution is the switch to a 12 ounce cup and greater individual participation in the Bates Mug Program.

By switching to a smaller cup, each person is forced to take less liquid, inevitably leading to less liquid waste, fewer cases of liquid contamination in trash and recycling, and less energy and resources needed to produce the cups. Of course, if you miss those four ounces or are seriously turned off by the aesthetics of the new 12-ounce cup, you can join the Bates Mug Program.

In the Bates Mug Program, we either give you a Bates mug (the same ones from last year) with a barcode on it, or we print out a barcode for you to put on any of your reusable liquid containers. Every time you come to Commons and scan your mug (you use the barcode on the mug to sign into Commons in place of your ID), you receive points that add up and allow you to get free meals for guests or for yourself over breaks.

While the new 12-ounce cup and participation in the Mug Program may take some adjustment and effort on your part, I encourage you all to graciously adopt these trends in order to appease the Commons gods. With our combined efforts, perhaps the gods will decide to hold off on bringing Commons back to the Stone Age.

Bates swimming excels in final meet before NESCAC Championships

Tarbell Pool was the site of a precursory meet this past Saturday, before the looming NESCAC Swimming Championships coming over the next two weeks for the men’s and women’s swim teams. The meet might have been low key, but the performances from the Bates squads were high quality.

In a meet that featured Bates, the Bowdoin men, and teams from University of New England, and St. Joseph’s, the Bobcats set a slew of records, tallying a total of 10 new best times.  This type of boost is exactly what the team needed in their final meet before conference championships.

“The team put their fast skins and racing faces on and brought their A-game on Saturday. We had National B cuts and we’re not even at our conference meet yet. People swam some fast events and it was really exciting to see,” said first-year Hope Logan.

One of these National B cuts was the women’s 800 free relay, which established a new pool record with a time of 7:37.00. On the men’s side, a pool record was broken twice in the same day. Senior Andrew Briggs set a new pool record of 58.13 in the 100 breaststroke, breaking the record of 58.75 established earlier in the meet by sophomore Dan Walpole. Asked if she had ever seen this many records fall in one meet, Logan responded “Of course not! I’m a first-year so the meet was the most exciting and fastest one yet this season. It was a really great low pressure situation where everyone got to swim fast and see what times they could throw down.”

As the teams look forward to the most critical stage of their season with the NESCAC Championship meet approaching, they are trying to stay calm and focused.

“We’ve got a ‘no biggie’ attitude, because this week can be stressful with school and swimming heating up. However, the whole team is beyond excited and pumped to race,” said Logan. “We have high expectations of what is going to happen at NESCACs. The whole team is gearing up because this is the meet we’ve been training for.”

The women travel to Wesleyan this weekend in search of a conference championship, while the men will prepare for an extra week before travelling to Middlebury for their own chance at glory. If the competitive edge demonstrated this past weekend at a relaxed meet is any indicator, the Bobcats will be ready to maximize their potential in the coming weeks.

Men’s and women’s track win Maine state title

Track Pic 1 by Drew Perlmutter

Drew Perlmutter/The Bates Student

Bates track and field added two more trophies to their collection, as the men matched the women’s Maine State Championship on Friday with a title of their own on Saturday.

The Bobcat women dominated the field of Bowdoin, Southern Maine, Colby, Husson, and St. Joseph’s, notching 230 points, 58.5 more than runner-up Bowdoin. Out of the 19 events, Bates won eight and finished second in five. From freshman to senior, every member of the team stepped up on Friday. Srishti Sunil (long jump winner), Katherine Cook (3,000 meters champion), and Sally Ceesay (new Bates record in the triple jump with her winning jump, 37-5) are several freshmen who especially impressed.

In their final Maine State meet, the senior women ensured that they ended their careers by earning the state championship for a second straight year. Senior Elena Jay won the 5,000 meters, while her classmate Sarah Fusco triumphed in the 800 meters. Senior Colby Gail won the weight throw at 48-6.25, but that wasn’t all. Gail also set a meet record of 5-6 in the high jump on a day in which the Bobcat women made it clear that they were the best team in Maine.

Though their competition might have been a bit closer, the men’s team matched the women the next day. Bates posted 177 points to top Bowdoin’s 146, defeating fellow competitors Southern Maine, Colby, and St. Joseph’s as well. Senior Sean Enos led the way by seizing the title in both the shot put and weight throw, repeating his feat from last year.

In the weight throw, Enos’ teammates junior Nick Margitza and first-year Adedire Fakorede came in second and third place respectively. The other two event victories for the Bobcats were in the mile, where senior John Stansel narrowly won in 4:18.95, and in the pole vault, where first-year Garrett Anderson was victorious with a 14-1.25 jump.

Journeying away from their home track, Bates track will head to Boston University this weekend. They’ll look to show their competition why they’re the best in Maine.

A night to write home about

Add together ten talented acts, two passionate student-run clubs and a room full of engaged audience members and what do you get? A Sense Of.

Last Friday night, the Robinson Players and the Dance Club combined their talents to present a variety show based on the theme of “home.” Students sang, recited poetry, danced, and shared short stories in this one-night-only event. Gannett Theater was buzzing with words of inspiration and admiration after the show. The night presented such a variety of talent and skill that begs for the Robinson Players and Dance Club to collaborate again.

This show is the beginning of hopes to get these two clubs more involved in community engagement around Bates. Junior Mary Anne Bodnar spearheaded the project with the help of senior Talia Mason of the Dance Club along with seniors Max Pendergast and Nick Auer from the Robinson Players.

The idea of having a show revolving around the theme of home came from an interest in “organizations involved in programming for homeless members of the community,” according to Bodnar.

Pendergast added, “Before we could truly engage with our surroundings we thought we needed to understand what home and place meant to us.”

The students’ interpretations of home varied across the acts. Senior Abby Zwetchkenbaum wrote a short existential play performed by senior Hanna Allerton and junior Sam Myers about two pieces of candy in a vending machine discussing what happens when they get chosen and have to leave their home.

Junior Detmer Kremer shared two beautifully written short stories “that complicate the sense of place, home, and safety with a queer narrative.” First-year Jorge Piccole’s dance piece reflected the idea of being “left out of place.” Other pieces included an improvisational dance by Mason, Bodnar, and sophomore Laura Pietropaoli, three acoustic songs performed by sophomore Declan Chu, poetry written by Mason, a skit by Pendergast and Auer, and two songs performed by seniors Hanna Allerton, Katie Silberstein, and Abby Zwetchkenbaum. All performers were wonderfully dynamic and passionate in their perspectives on the theme of home.

In the future, the Robinson Players and Dance Club hope to work together again. “They are such thoughtful and innovative creators,” said Pendergast, the Robinson Players President, of both performing arts groups’ members.

Bodnar took the reins on this project, but she owes it all to team work and collaboration. “Everyone really wanted this to happen, and for it to pan out in the most stress-free way imaginable. I think we succeeded.”

Men’s squash finish third, women in fourth at NESCAC tournament

Though both the men’s and women’s squash teams won their quarterfinal matchups in the NESCAC tournament, both teams were not able to get by the powerhouse Trinity Bantams, who are ranked number one in the country.

In their opener on Saturday, the 18th nationally ranked men’s team mauled Colby, winning 8-1. Across the board, Bates dominated their CBB rivals. Junior Ahmed Abdel Khalek (11-7, 11-7, 11-1) and sophomore Ahmed Hatata (11-7, 11-1, 11-3) at the number one and two seeds kept their undefeated records intact.

While Trinity squash is accustomed to beating any opponent in front of them, the Bantams’ top players were unable to vanquish Khalek and Hatata. Abdel Khalek won in straight games, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6. For Hatata, the undefeated streak was in serious jeopardy, as he fell behind two games to none. Still, Hatata was not willing to allow any blemishes on his 11-0 record, and seized the next three sets to ensure that he won his first dozen matches of the season.

The rest of the Bates squad did not have nearly as much success against Trinity. In a dominant display, Trinity beat every Bobcat seeded three through nine in straight games.

After that disappointment, Bates regrouped well the following day, taking third place with a 6-3 victory over Middlebury, who were seeded second in the tournament. Unsurprisingly, Abdel Khalek and Hatata kept up their winning ways. The Bobcats also got wins from senior captain Andy Cannon at number four, junior Caran Arora at number six, and sophomores Spencer Burt and Carlos Ames at seeds eight and nine respectively.

The Bates women finished one spot below the men due to their 7-2 defeat in the third place match, where they also encountered Middlebury. In order to get to that point, Bates first had to beat Amherst in the quarterfinals, which they did by a 6-3 tally. Seniors Nessrine Ariffin, Myriam Kelly, and Lesea Bourke won their matchups at number one, two, and three respectively.

Against top-ranked Trinity, the 16th nationally ranked Bobcats were massive underdogs. Ultimately, a 9-0 defeat versus Trinity is nothing to be ashamed of given their elite stature in the world of college squash. To wrap up their tournament, Bates faced Middlebury on Sunday. Arrifin at the one seed and junior Lauren Williams at the seven seed were the lone winners for Bates.

As a collective unit, overcoming Trinity is frankly almost impossible. That said, Bates men’s and women’s performed well against some challenging competition at the NESCAC tournament.

The untamed wilderness

In her spectacular collection of short stories entitled Man v. Nature, Diane Cook shows that personal, internal demons look different for everyone, but affect them on the same basic level.

Everyone has demons to fight in daily mental life. Although some of her stories take place in different realities than our own, these dystopian spaces are not so far out of the unimaginable norm. The stories that she does keep within the universe we know takes normalcy and twists it so that the reader has to check twice to make sure that the world being described is actually familiar. Cook’s characters are collectively dynamic yet each has their individual flare. While reading this collection, you will be horrified and awed at once.

Diane Cook begins her collection with a quote from Emily Dickinson about the wilderness. Most people will say that there is only one kind of wilderness; the untamed wild that lays beyond human control. Wild creatures are thought to be untamed beasts that only wreak havoc on the world. However, Cook makes the argument that wildness takes on as many forms as there are people in this world. Being wild is an amorphous trait that presents itself differently in each person’s world.

Author Diane Cook of "Man vs. Nature" (Taylor Blackburn/The Bates Students)

Author Diane Cook of “Man vs. Nature” (Taylor Blackburn/The Bates Students)

In a collection of short stories, it is easy to have the characters of different tales sound the same and the narrator to have an unchanged tone, but this is not true in Cook’s work. Throughout the twelve stories, the reader is exposed to a variant of characters and types of narration. In “It’s Coming,” the characters are all office works in an urban center being chased by an unknown monster. Conversely, in “Man V. Nature,” the only speaking characters presented are male.

“The Mast Year” follows a woman who has such good luck that people flock to her and infiltrate every part of her life for an entire. While “The Not-Needed Forest” is placed in a world where randomly selected boys are deemed unwanted by the government and sent away to be incinerated. Throughout the collection, Cook keeps the tone mysterious and fast-paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Though cleverly disguised, Cook has each character in each story battle their wild, inner demon. In every person, there is a fiend that gnaws wanting to break out of your subconscious into the conscious world. The way Cook outwardly manifests the inner demons is by having each character assume some wild characteristic.

In “The Way the End of Days Should Be,” the story’s protagonist is trying to keep some semblance of his old, normal life in a time where the tide is rising and destroying everything in its path. This character adopts an intense narcissism, which he demonstrates with, “I’d begun to think of this earth as my own private sanctuary.” While ignoring the rest of the struggling human race just outside the doors of his pristine mansion, the protagonist of this story shows the intense selfishness to which all humans are prone.

In addition to Cook’s amazingly fluid writing, another huge draw to this collection is the fact that it is not a full-length novel. If you get bored with one plot line, there is nothing holding you back from flipping back to the table of contents and looking for a more intriguing title.

Read the whole collection, or just read parts, you choose. Let Cook take you out of your own headspace and embark on a journey that flows through a diverse portfolio of amazing work.


Vinny retires from Package Center

On January 30, 2015, Gregory Vincent, commonly known across the Bates campus as “Vinny,” retired from his position as Supervisor of Student and Campus Mail at the Package Center.

After speaking with his three children Sarah, Adam and Justin and his wife Doris, they collectively decided that it was time for him to retire early.

Vinny uploaded the following post to his Facebook page on January 31: “It was a very hard decision, but one I had to make. For over 6 years God blessed me with the Bates students that worked for me and the thousands I served! The stories, situations, laughs, lifelong friendships, and sad moments was all worth it!” The post received 109 “likes.”

Vinny would share stories when he was young and how much snow there was and how cold it was back then, or when he would visit the Bates Malt Shoppe, which is currently the Security Office.

“After a year and half in the mailroom I have seen that Vinny embodies what Bates is and the ideals that this intuition was founded upon. Vinny does not have a degree, but is a self-made and hardworking man that had found a place at Bates where he thrived,” sophomore Package Center employee Gina Ciobanu said.

A Lewiston resident since birth, Vinny grew up on Russell Street from ages 8 to 18 when Bates only consisted of 750 students. There was such little traffic that he and his friends were able to play baseball in the middle of the road.

When Vinny was a junior at Lewiston High School, he was asked to be the in drummer in a rock band on Bates campus called the Quick and the Dead for two years. He remembers one special time he playing for a protest for co-ed dorms in 1968. He stated that the protest was controversial but peaceful.

“Lewiston was the mecca in the state of Maine for all kinds of music in the 60s. There were 75 music groups who played and made good money… There was music galore,” Vinny said.

vinnyIn February of 1968, Vinny saw Jimi Hendrix live with his wife at the Lewiston Armory, which is in walking distance of campus. Vinny recalled, “We bought two tickets for $1.75 each; were 20 feet away. That was a marvelous night. It was a real thrill. It was a packed house. Tickets sold out within the first hour.”

Growing up in Lewiston, Vinny had his first job delivering newspapers in the fifth grade, and worked different jobs throughout middle school and high school. He felt that these jobs gave him the ability to interact with adults in the workplace.

“In the culture we were brought up in, we learned to fend for ourselves and we learned to work early. Basically you got was what you earned. If I wanted a bike, I bought my bike. If I wanted my clothes, I bought my clothes. That’s how it was in the Lewiston-Auburn area. The work ethic was very, very strong. A lot of people would make their children work regardless of their income,” said Vinny. Vinny displayed those hard working value here at Bates.

Before working at the Package Center, Vinny worked at L.L. Bean until he retired at age 57. While working there he developed a strong work ethic, for in any given day he would have a number of different tasks to perform such as operating a forklift and answering phone calls.

Vinny was very selective in choosing his Package Center workers, only hiring those who were hard workers and could work effectively as a team. Some of his interviews lasted for more than two and a half hours, for he wanted to be certain that his employees were right for the job. He looked for students who were responsible and reliable.

“This is a fast moving job where you have fun,” Vinny elaborated. “I took the people who most resemble me, my tough parameters, and we went from there. It’s a long process to be an employee. If I’m interviewing you, I want to know what makes you tick, and I want to know where your heart is. You can put all you want on the resume—I want to know what moves you.”

Furthermore, Vinny highly valued employees who did volunteer work. To him, a volunteer is a giver, and a giver is someone who fits his criteria to be an employee, for he views himself as a giver.

“My mission is that I’m a giver. I hope by giving and showing how to make people happy that it wears off. I just like to see people smiling and having a good time,” said Vinny.

Some of Vinny’s favorite memories from working at the Package Center were hearing his employees share stories about their lives. One of his favorites was of student from Nepal who lives 75 miles away from Mount Everest, and thought nothing of it. However, he was thrilled after hiking Mount Washington.

“I enjoyed my time with the students. I think the students gave me more than what I gave them. Students give me gifts of where they’re from, gifts of telling me about themselves, sharing who they are,” Vinny said.

Vinny noted that aside from working with his student employees at the Package Center, the biggest thrill he’s had at Bates was giving Baccalaureate speech with his wife in 2011. “That was my finest hour,” said Vinny.

“Vinny would always brighten my day with his smile and trivia question for the day. I know much more about pitching statistics and the Civil War than I know what to do with, but as the topics come up they serve as quiet reminders of a great boss I had the privilege of working for,” Ciobanu said.

Vinny served as not only a boss for many students, but also as a mentor and will truly be missed.

Netanyahu spat reflects immaturity of our partisan politics

Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on March 3 has sparked a new crisis in US-Israeli relations. The Obama administration immediately expressed outrage regarding the speech, arguing that the Speaker disrupted long-standing diplomatic protocol by failing to consult the President before delivering the invitation. The Obama White House is particularly incensed given its disagreement with Netanyahu and Republicans over how to address Iran’s nuclear program. Obama fears the speech will offer Netanyahu a major forum to argue the futility of negotiations with Iran and push for greater sanctions. In his view, Netanyahu’s actions represent an unprecedented and inappropriate attempt to manipulate American politics. This charge is particularly hypocritical given the frequent attempts of Obama officials to influence Israeli politics. For example, many Obama Campaign advisors are now working to support the opposition party in Israeli’s elections. It seems unlikely that these officials would provide this assistance without the consent of their former boss.

In retaliation for these perceived slights, the Obama administration have responded by delivering threats towards the Prime Minister in the Israeli press. One Obama aide told an Israeli source, “Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.” This supposed tough talk makes the President sound callow and insecure, especially because this administration goes out of its way to address the leaders in Tehran with far more respect. Ironically, this strategy has had the affect of boosting Netanyahu’s standing domestically in the polls, as most Israelis understandably harbor a great deal of distrust for Obama.

While this spectacle is unlikely to hurt Netanyahu within Israel, it has undermined bipartisan support for Israel in the United States. Many Congressional Democrats, traditionally supportive of Israel and friendly to Netanyahu, are threatening to boycott the speech in order to support the President and spare him from further embarrassment. Israeli leaders have long gone out of their way to ensure that support for Israel is not viewed as a partisan issue. A speech delivered by Netanyahu to only the Republicans in Congress would surely undermine this perception.

Why then would Speaker Boehner invite the Prime Minister without informing Obama, therefore damaging this important alliance? Many argue that this gambit was payback for Obama’s stated strategy of repeatedly circumventing congressional authority.

This fiasco is occurring at a time when Iran is only months away from nuclear weapons capabilities, ISIS controls vast areas In Iraq and Syria and the radical Islamist Houthis just conducted a successful coup in Yemen. US and Israeli cooperation is needed more than ever, yet our leaders in Washington are letting personal grievances get in the way of this critical relationship. Just another example of business as usual in Washington these past few years.

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