The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: March 2015 Page 1 of 8

Democrats propose to raise Maine minimum wage

On March 23, the Maine State Legislature in Augusta heard proposals to raise Maine’s minimum wage, which has remained at $7.50 per hour since 2009.

The Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee heard eight proposals, reported The Poland Press Herald in an article on Monday. Seven were public proposals, and one came from Republican Senator Tom Saviello, who proposed a bill on banning microbeads in cosmetics earlier this year.

Supporters of the proposals said to lawmakers that granting workers higher wages would spur economic growth. However, many Republicans claimed that a minimum wage hike would kill jobs; supporters of the proposals rejected these claims.

Last year the Congressional Budget Office Report found that raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour could cost half a million jobs, the Herald reported. Republican Governor LePage previously vetoed a minimum wage hike in 2013.

Julie Rabinowitz, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Labor, stated that LePage’s administration believes that raising the minimum wage will not address the causes of poverty such as a lack of skills for good paying jobs.

“Simply raising the minimum wage leaves these people still at the bottom of the skills and earnings ladder without the ability to climb it,” Rabinowitz said to the Herald.

Rabinowitz and the administration anticipate that wages will increase naturally due to the state’s demographic challenges.

Portland mother Karen Cairnduff traveled to Augusta to support a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12. Cairnduff told the Herald that she spent little time with her two sons while working her minimum wage job at McDonald’s because she had to work extra shifts to provide for her family.

A minimum wage worker who works full-time earns $15,600 annually, which is $4,190 below the federal poverty level, reported the Associated Press (AP).

According to an AP article published on the WMTW News webpage Monday, many of the bills were proposed by Democrats. The proposed minimum wages ranged from $8.10 to $12.00 per hour.

Opponents say hiking the minimum wage would lead to job losses and higher prices for consumers.

Wendyll Caisse, co-owner of Buck’s Naked BBQ with her husband in Freeport, said to the AP that she may have to increase her menu costs by 5 percent if minimum wage is increased.

Anne Perrino, who has been waitressing for 20 years, also struggles to provide for herself and her son, reported AP.

“Most of the time it’s enough; sometimes it’s not,” Perrino told the AP. “That uncertainty—not knowing whether I’ll make enough to pay my bills from week to week—makes my life harder than it needs to be…I can tell you I’ve put up with inappropriate comments, requests, touching from customers, but because them being happy means the difference between my making rent or not, I often just smile and put up with it,” Perrino said.

More than half of the Mainers who work minimum wage are under the age of 25, according to state labor statistics.

President Obama is leading a national push to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour.

Spring Dance Concert Preview

Last semester, the Fall Dance Concert was certainly held to high standards and undoubtedly surpassed them. Will the Spring Dance Concert, storming the Schaeffer Theater stage starting Friday, April 3rd, do the same? All signs point to yes.

Unlike the Fall Dance Concert, this performance will exclusively consist of student work created in classes such as Dance Composition and Advanced Dance Composition, through independent studies, or for senior theses. Three theses will be presented by seniors Anna Lanoue, Isaiah Rice, and Tomisha Edwards. The show will consist of two different programs to accommodate the large number of pieces being performed.

Mallory Cohen ’17, a double major in Dance and Sociology, has been working on an independent study piece to display in the concert. Her piece is titled “Proximal Zones” and “explores the relationships between the dancers on stage, while still showcasing their individuality and independent characters,” she explained. Aside from presenting her own piece in the show, Cohen will also be performing in works created by other dancers.

Another student choreographer, Sofi Elbadawi ’18, will also be presenting a piece for Dance Compostion. In addition, she will be performing in Edwards’ senior thesis and Claire McGlave’s Advanced Composition piece.

As a first-year student, Elbadawi has been feeling the pressure and nerves throughout her choreographic process. “I have never done anything quite like my dance composition class before, so things are a little challenging. I have big standards to live up to, as all of the dancers in the dance department have made amazing pieces before,” she exclaimed. “As a first year, I have been lucky to have a lot of different mentors throughout this process. Whenever I get stuck or have a concern, there are a number of various places I can turn to for help. I am excited with how my piece has come together, but I am even more excited about how much this process taught me.”

An overwhelmingly and under-appreciated amount of work goes into the creative process of each choreographer and dancer. However, Cohen and Elbadawi both agree that is has ultimately been a positive and exciting experience.

“I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience throughout my entire creative process this semester. My dancers have made rehearsals an invigorating creative space with their willingness to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and try anything in regards to both movement and critical thought about the piece as a whole,” said Cohen.

“I think I can speak for my dancers, as well as for myself, when I say that this process has been a lot of fun, and really allowed us to create our own world of quirky energies and to fully commit to this piece and to dance.”

Elbadawi added, “[m]y rehearsal process has been surprisingly low stress. My cast has been extremely flexible and we always manage to get a lot done in a short amount of time. It is sometimes difficult to find a place to work, but it all comes together in the end. It has been stressful balancing three pieces at once, but I’ve been able to make it work.”

In the end, the tireless efforts of everyone involved in the concert will surely make for a fantastic show worth seeing.

Cohen concluded, “I know that I can expect my dancers to recreate the world we have built together and share the project to which I have been so dedicated in an incredible way. The show as a whole is going to be a lot of fun. It is really different than the typical dance concerts we put on in the best way possible, and will really invite the audience into our playful and creative world of dance that we are excited to share and would love for more people to become a part of.”

Her Campus Bates: A few concerns

Her Campus Bates is a blog dedicating to guide “collegiette” women, an intentional misspelling of the word “collegiate” in order to feminize it. The website defines the “collegiette” woman as “a college woman who is on top of her game—strategically career-minded, distinctly fashionable, socially connected, academically driven, and smartly health-conscious, who endeavors to get the most out of her college experience on every level.”

There are two main components to the blog: the first part is an advice column for college students around the country. Its advice sections are sorted into the following categories: Style, Beauty, Health, Love, Life, Career, LGBTQ+, Real World, and High School. The second component is a version for individual colleges. These advice columns are specifically tailored to the women at the college in question. For this reason, I am going to explore Her Campus Bates.

I would like to start off by saying that I think that Her Campus, although riddled with some conventionally sexist norms of femininity (the hot pink splattered on the main page, the crown on the logo, and style and beauty being the first two sections mentioned to read about), I think that, for the most part, this is a really good idea. It seems like it is aiming to be a positive outlet where women can read and relate to other women through a community based on respect, support, and guidance. I also think there is an important goal of female empowerment. And I think that Her Campus Bates achieves these things in some ways. I think, though, there are some concerning aspects of Her Campus Bates that need to be addressed.

Based on the content of the articles, the Her Campus Bates guidance caters to upper-middle class, privileged, heterosexual women that like to party. While a large part of the female population at Bates (like me) falls into these categories, not every woman does. I think that the demographic that Her Campus Bates is writing about needs to be extended.

In addition, I would like to point out some striking moments of sexism that this blog is promoting. I will first look at a couple of “Feature” and “Blog” articles and then move on the “Campus Cutie” section. I think it is also important to note that two important sections that the general scope of Her Campus has are missing in the Bates-specific version. There is no section on health and there is no section on LGBTQ+. Both of these sections talked about mental health and sexual health. By not including these sections, the Bates blog writers are inherently silencing any potential conversation of these topics on its blog.

The first article I would like to talk about is “10 Important Literary Quotes for College Women.” I love the title of this article, and think it has a lot of potential. I am a deep admirer of the books chosen to quote, and think that this article could have spoken to some genuine issues collegiate women go through.

Some obvious points of sexism sprinkled throughout this article are the quotation choices and the authors they come from. Out of ten literary quotations selected “For College Women,” only three of them came from a female author. Furthermore, every author selected was white. With this selection choice, 70% of the advice given comes from a white man, furthering their dominance and power in a context of advising young women how to live.

The content of the quotes is equally concerning. The #1 quotation mentioned is: “I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.” This quotation is introduced by an explanatory paragraph ending with: “Here are some quotes from famous literary writers that speak directly to us as college women.” So, the first quotation that speaks directly to college women is one that essentially tells women that they can’t read, no matter how much they have read.

I understand that this quotation was taken from a male author, but there is something inherently oppressive about throwing it into an article about relatable words for women, a group of people who have historically been silenced and labeled as having thoughts that hold no merit.

The second quotation is about partying, supplemented by a GIF of a group party scene in which three blonde white women are at the front, raising their drinks. The “relatable advice” given through the remaining eight quotes addresses a few problems that collegiate women might face. The problems addressed here include dissatisfaction with hookup culture (“So, ladies, remember that sex is not as important as communication and respect. Don’t rob yourself of a romance based on truth, because you deserve as much”), feeling homesick, procrastinating, how not to be bored and the importance of mischief, and lastly, how to “discover you” by “doing your own thing.”

By addressing these problems as the most significant and relatable ones a female Bates student could face, and by selecting authors all white and primarily male, Her Campus Bates is catering to upper-middle class, heterosexual, white women who like to party.

In another article, “The Top Five Reasons Why Every Girl Feels Good Wearing Glitter,” the title left me much less hopeful, as it is already making a sweeping generalization that all women like to decorate themselves in flashy ways as if they are ornaments or props for attracting attention. The first reason noted is that Ke$ha does it, followed by a slippery slope fallacious sequence that concludes that wearing glitter “leads to backstage pass, selfies with Adam Levine, and an Insta shout-out from The Bachelorette fan page.”

We are confronted with another generalization, this time that every woman at Bates must deeply desire a selfie with Adam Levine and an Insta shout-out from the Bachelorette fan page. The second argument that glitter is the “adult version of Lisa Frank” is furthered by the statement, “If you didn’t own a Lisa Frank pencil case, Lisa Frank notebook, Lisa Frank lunch box, Lisa Frank fuzzy poster in first grade—you just weren’t cool.”

This generalization is a bit more sophisticated in its oppressive nature than the last two: If you do not appreciate the hyper-feminization of horses that Lisa Frank promotes, if you don’t like a bright rainbow array of colors, not only are you not cool, you are also not a woman, because all women want to wear glitter because all women love Lisa Frank.

The third reason supporting the female fetishization of glitter is the last I will point out: “Real World becomes Fairy Tale World.” This supports every hetero-normative, misogynist fairy tale including the image of Prince Charming rescuing his damsel and fulfilling her every need. This is exactly the kind of systematized oppression that feminism is trying to derail.

Moving on, I am going to focus on only one more section, titled “Campus Cuties.” While this blog is aiming to empower women, it is dedicating its time to gush over cute boys instead of focusing on important issues that women face. Of the current 10 “Campus Cuties” listed, only two of them are women. This supports the hetero-normativity consistent with the whole site. In an interview with one of the female “Cuties,” two questions were asked about boys (consistent with hetero-normativity), and in both of the women’s interviews, their relationship status is mentioned, furthering the notion that men make up a part of a woman’s identity.

In addition, both of these women are sexualized by the words of the interviewer. One of the “Cuties” is asked questions about her hair and her workout plan, suggesting that her sex appeal correlates with her success.

There are obviously quite a number of oppressive attitudes supported throughout the blog, but the one that is most concerning is how this blog is portraying women, specifically the women of Bates. Women are portrayed in every aspect of this blog as I pointed out earlier with the articles. The female authors interviewed just two women by picking questions highly inclusive of the men in one, and of their beauty regiments in the other. The female authors wrote about women of Bates that they admire by sexualizing them and describing them with words such as “bombshell.” These choices supports the oppressive notion that a woman’s appearance contributes to her worth, which is extremely concerning.

Lastly, I would like to note that I only looked four articles in total, however, there were more than that which I could have explored only to find the same injustices. I see a lot of value and a lot of good intention in the Her Campus Bates blog, but I think that without being a little more mindful of the way things written on the blog, it will continue to misrepresent the women of Bates as well as support deep systems of sexism and dominance.

How do I love thee, March Madness? Let me count the ways

My bracket is busted (thanks, Villanova), and I’m fine with that.

Sure, I probably wouldn’t mind the glory of miraculously still having a perfect bracket, but there’s so much to love about March Madness besides the brackets.

Starting with the brackets, though, you have to love the delicious possibility that anyone who attempts to predict the results from the Big Dance could be lucky. Though it can be a little frustrating to see people who know hardly anything about the sport of basketball conjure nearly spotless brackets, the unpredictability is part of the Madness’ charm. This year, my dad, who has not watched a complete college basketball game all season, called 14 seed Georgia State over Baylor, number 14 UAB over Iowa State, seven seed Wichita State over two seed Kansas, number eight NC State over one seed Villanova, and number seven Michigan State over two seed Virginia along with a host of other upset picks that you’d only expect to see from an astute, obsessive basketball fan. March Madness has a knack for making you smile and shake your head.

The first four days of the tournament are a yelling, fidgeting, frantic, channel-switching heaven. There is always a game on, most likely three or four at once. The entertainment is so constant that you start to get desensitized to the amazing events unfolding in front of your eyes, which stay transfixed on the television. Harvard is coming back and has a chance to beat UNC? Not as exciting as injured Georgia State coach Ron Hunter falling off his custom stool after his son RJ hit a game-winning three from a few feet in front of the half-court logo. That’s part of the madness; if you immerse yourself in the tournament, you know that anything is possible, because you’ve seen it.

High-level college sports are still, of course, a seriously corrupt institution that makes millions of dollars on exploited athletes. The Sweet 16 run by Bates basketball is a welcome distraction from those festering wounds. In contrast, when you’re watching an elite team like Kentucky play, it’s pointless to even pretend that the supremely talented athletes on display are also valued as students. Out of all the things that elite Division I basketball programs provide (a free ride to school, quality coaching, national celebrity, exposure to pro scouts and the lucrative NBA), education is obviously low on the priority list.

Fortunately, the boundless energy, hustle, and mistakes that we see from the underdogs in March makes those “student-athletes” look like normal 18- to 22-year-olds. When they have a brain fart or miss pressure-free throws, we understand their nervousness. Even the Kentuckys and Wisconsins occasionally appear human.

If everything breaks in their favor, the minnows and mid-majors have shown that they’re capable of breaking brackets and winning hearts, reminding us that flawed, regular kids can beat the skilled, slick giants. I can’t condone the way the NCAA sucks us into an infatuation with March Madness that seems to help the wealthy adults more than the “student-athletes.” But I know that the Madness will keep drawing me in, and that I’ll be watching the day a number sixteen seed beats a one. It’s going to happen one day.

Bobcat swimming takes on NCAA Championships

If, over the past week, you happened to notice your fellow classmates watching swimming instead of paying attention in class, it is not because class was boring. Rather, it’s because the Bates men’s and women’s swim teams were competing at the Division III nationals in Shenandoah, Texas. The swim team is a close knit crew that supports each other all the way from Lewiston to Texas. From the men’s and women’s teams, 12 swimmers competed at nationals. This is the most swimmers Bates has sent in program history.

The team stepped up to the plate from the very first day of competition. Sophomore Sara Daher finished 8th in the 200-yard individual medley, the team broke three event records, and the men’s 200-yard medley relay race team came in 14th place in their first-ever appearance in this type of race.

With the eighth place finish, Daher earned her fifth career All-American award while simultaneously breaking her previous fastest time in the 200-yard IM. The men’s relay team, consisting of freshmen Riley Ewing and Theodore Pender and seniors Andrew Briggs and Matt Gagne, set a new Bates record while becoming first-time All-Americans.

On the second day in Texas, Daher clinched three All-American finishes by anchoring the 200 freestyle relay team to 14th place, placing sixth in the 400 IM trials, and leading the 400 medley relay team to the ninth fastest trial time. The relay team consisted of juniors Whitney Paine, Lindsey Prelgovisk, Caroline Depew as well as Daher. Their ninth-place time was almost four seconds faster than their previous record time. The women also posted the 13th fastest time in the 200 free relay. Composed of Daher, two first-years—Logan McGill and Anabel Carter—and Paine, their time was good enough for another round of All-American awards.

On the third day of competition, the women posted the faster preliminary time for the 800 freestyle relay before claiming ninth place overall at the event, resulting in a third All-American relay team for the Bobcats. The team was composed of Depew, Daher, first-year Nell Houde, and sophomore Julia Smachlo. Daher earned her ninth career All-American award, giving her the most in Bates swimming and diving history. She is second among all Bates women athletes, trailing Keelin Godey ’06 (16).

After the final day of competition, the Bobcats left Texas with a grand total of 30 All-American honors. The eight-athlete women’s team finished with 91 points to place 11th out of 46 scoring teams. The four members of the men’s team scored 16 points to place 37th among 54 total teams. Daher left the competition an unreal 11-time All-American. As a team, Bates set seven more team records in the final day of competition alone. This shows the ability of the team to rise to the occasion and push themselves, a sentiment that was expressed by sophomore Dan Walpole.

“This year was such a great year for both our men and women’s teams,” said Walpole. “It was a really fun year and with such a large senior class as role models, we really competed at our best. The freshmen this year were also a great addition to the team as they’re all so fast, which really helps the team to grow.”

According to Walpole, “The results make the 6 A.M. year-round practices feel worth it.”

The new nightlife at Bates

Have you ever felt the urge to ride a mechanical shark, play laser tag in the library, eat late-night pancakes, or play bingo? Luckily, thanks to the new Late at Bates initiative, on weekend nights you can do all of these and other fun (and weird) events.

Late at Bates is another response by the administration to the drinking culture at Bates. Yet, instead of trying to control the drinking culture by removing events such as Trick or Drink and Throwback Night, here the administration is creating new events to add to the community feeling of Bates.

Late at Bates, which started early this semester semester, is run by first-year Katie Carlton, senior Olivia Jacobs, and sophomore Calvin Reedy, with help from Assistant Dean of Students Keith Tannenbaum, who seems to have a hand in every single fun event on campus, and Coordinator of Student Activities Qiu Meng Fogarty. The students read proposals from different students and student groups for events and later play a direct role in planning the events with the various students and groups. To be approved, the events must be on a Friday or Saturday after 9:00 P.M., they must be open to everyone, and they must be interactive.

Some events have included Valentine’s Day card-making, inflatable games in the Gray Cage, Big Prize Bingo, Big Prize Poker, and of course, laser tag in Ladd.

Carlton says, “Bingo, inflatables, and laser tag were all super successful, but the card-making was not very successful given that it was very last minute since we were all hired the week before.”

So far, the most fun and out of the box event has been laser tag, also known as Lazer Ladd. The brainchild of first-year Ben Roop, Lazer Ladd was born when Roop realized the library would make a great space for some kind of campus-wide event. He submitted the proposal for laser tag to Late at Bates with the help of fellow first-year Emma Russell.

Coincidentally, the Chase Hall Committee was already planning on having laser tag in Chase Hall, but they decided to back Roop’s idea of the library. Initially, Library Services had hesitation but with some convincing from Tannenbaum, they agreed to host the laser tag. Originally, the plan was to have the laser tag take place on the third floor of the library, but Library Services were weary of the balcony so they agreed on the basement.

The library also nixed the idea of the fog machine because of the possible damage to the books. They also had the odd condition of having the laser tag being videotaped. The event was given a 10:00 P.M. start time so that Ladd had enough time to close before the event started.

“The laser tag company came so early that we had to set up while people were still working in the library,” Roop said. The company set the time for each round at 15 minutes and the slots were taken as quickly as tables in Commons at noon. The laser tag itself worked out amazingly.

“There was a lot of spirit in the games; lots of people came dressed up and they were super pumped. There was a men’s crew team vs. the women’s crew team, the swim team played together, and the football team did as well,” Roop added.

Roop was surprised by how respectful everyone was and how almost everyone showed up to their time slot on time despite various other weekend events being held on campus.

Late at Bates is proving that there can be alternative late night events that are well attended by the student body. Especially with Lazer Ladd, it shows that people will leave their weekend night plans to go to a community-oriented event. Late at Bates is a great way to move the culture of Bates away from binge drinking and more towards events that increase the community feeling among the students.

A fresh start for Bates women’s volleyball and new coach

Melissa DeRan is the 12th head coach in Bates volleyball history. Photo courtesy of UNION COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION

Melissa DeRan is the 12th head coach in Bates volleyball history. Photo courtesy of UNION COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION

After last fall’s tough season, Bates women’s volleyball will enter a new era next fall with coach Melissa DeRan. Each and every player on the volleyball team is ecstatic about her arrival.

First-year Lisa Slivken said, “She is everything our program could have hoped for. We all can’t wait for next season to start! Her enthusiasm and energy will bring the type of change we need to be successful in the fall.”

I had the opportunity to talk in-depth with Coach DeRan about a variety of topics including her upbringing, previous jobs, and approach to coaching. Coach DeRan grew up in the Midwest, where volleyball was second only to walking. Whether or not she would play was never a question. After being the water girl for her sisters and starting to really play in fourth grade, she can’t remember a time when volleyball wasn’t a huge part of her life.

After being recruited to play at Murray State University in Kentucky, she began to understand that higher education is something she always wanted to be a part of. When volleyball and that aspiration came together, she felt that “realizing [she] could do this for a living was one of the best moments of [her] life.”

Coach DeRan most recently spent five years coaching at Union College in New York, and previously coached at St. Lawrence University, Tiffin University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Coach DeRan grew up working with her sisters on a farm owned by her family, where she raised cattle and picked tomatoes. In addition to volleyball, work is one of her earliest memories. It is very obvious that Coach DeRan will uphold a work ethic that is central to the values of each individual player as well as the team as a whole. When the team met with her in the early stages of her interviewing process, they were excited by the intensity and vigor they knew she would bring to practice and games.

First-year Jacqueline Forney says of the team, “We want to pack the gym with supporters next season, a loud crowd will really help us win games.” It seems that Melissa DeRan can create an atmosphere that inspires not only us, but also the Bates community in turn.

After being 0-10 in league competition, the players are looking for a season that will turn their spirits around. Team goals in the past have included measurable improvements like point differentials, and limiting the number of errors committed per game.

Coach DeRan has similar goals in mind. She believes that if the team “does the right thing in practice, the wins are going to come.” She is more focused on the “strong and intense focus” the team will give in practice, and the results that will come from that. Coach DeRan adheres to the title of the book by famous football coach Bill Walsh in her approach: “the score will take care of itself.”

Whenever Coach DeRan talks about the coming season, or volleyball in general, anyone can see her passion come alive. When asked about her coaching philosophy, she was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. It is always hard to respond to this question, because there are so many factors that could affect the answer. The point she articulated had to do with the relationship between being a good player and being a good person. She said, “A great program comes from quality human beings.”

Coach DeRan will foster an environment where each player can thrive in all areas of their life.

Student behavior at Range Pond irks park rangers

While it may seem that the perpetual state of freezing winds, snow, and down jackets will never fade away, Short Term is (slowly) approaching. A marvelous time of the year, Short Term ushers in warm weather, a relaxed schedule, and a multitude of Bates traditions.

Among them are the classic sun-soaked Saturdays and Sundays at Range Pond, where Bates students get as close to a tropical paradise as Maine allows. This year, however, Bates students may find themselves facing a different relationship with Range than they have in the past.

Patrick Tolosky, a senior, was co-leading an Outing Club camping expedition at Range Pond and had the opportunity to talk to a park ranger about the sentiments park authorities have toward Bates students. While setting up a tent on the frozen water, Tolosky was approached by a park ranger who engaged him in a conversation about the ways Bates students treat Range. The ranger expressed frustration in the carelessness and overall disregard that Bates students exhibit when relaxing at Range.

Public consumption of alcohol, often by underage students, lackluster clean-up efforts, and disruptive behavior are only a few problems that the park rangers face in dealing with Bates students. As the ranger made clear to Tolosky, the rangers do not have a personal vendetta against Bates students as a whole, but they are frustrated with the minority of Bates students who chose to treat Range Pond as an outdoor party space.

It seems that Bates students fail to realize the reality that Range is a state park where families and other people that are not Bates students come to walk, swim, and relax. When hordes of Bates students go to Range and mistreat the park, it allegedly eliminates the inclusive and respectful environment of the pond.

Park authorities understand that Bates students want to enjoy the warm weather, but many of the activities conducted by a minority of Bates students at Range—Kan Jam, inebriated canoeing, and drinking—are either extremely disruptive to the public or generally unsafe. In response, Range Pond authorities are considering measures such as changing hours of operation to hopefully limit the influx of Bates students at the state park.

Tolosky, a member of the Campus Culture Working Group, believes that the issue between Bates students and Range Pond authorities is indicative of the Bates student body at large.

Many changes on campus are targeting issues related to the social scene of Bates in order to foster a more inclusive and less destructive weekend culture. These efforts should translate to student conduct at Range Pond. Students have been able to exhibit respectful relationships with the off-campus community; Thorncrag, a bird sanctuary in Lewiston, has long been an outdoor space that Bates students enjoy in a responsible way—Range Pond is no different.

One thing is clear; if Bates students want to continue enjoying Range and the amenities it has to offer, they must change the way they interact with the space.

In looking to repair the already tarnished relationship between Bates students and the park authorities, Tolosky has brainstormed ideas such as a service and clean-up day at Range. Initiatives such as a service day, which would come from the leadership of Bates students and could potentially be in collaboration with park authorities, would be a step in the right direction towards exhibiting a respectful and mature relationship with Range Pond. For now, Bates students may continue to enjoy Range Pond responsibly.

‘The Laughing Monsters’ is the new 007

Everyone knows spy-thrillers. An operative has a futile task they have to accomplish it before the world, as we know it, ends (or something to that effect).

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson follows this spy-thriller arc but elevates the cookie-cutter plotline. Characters are not what they appear, locations are ever-changing and situations are not what they seem. Strap on your seatbelt and get ready to take a ride with Johnson as he guides you through all the twists and turns his book has to offer.

Characters are the most basic aspect to any book. In most good books a character is relatable, witty, intelligent, and just a smidge awkward. The main character of Johnson’s novel, Nair, is all of those things but not in the stereotypical way.

For most of the book, I found myself wanting to reach through the pages and shake some sense into this man. He arrives in Africa on a clandestine mission for NATO, but as soon as his plane touches down in Sierra Leone, he meets up with a devilishly scatterbrained friend Michael and his beautiful fourth fiancé, Davidia. The trouble Michael manages to get this rag-tag group into is breathtaking, taking them all the way from Sierra Leone to Uganda.

By using neither an American protagonist nor setting the novel in the United States, Johnson is able to give his readers a sense of what the intelligence community is like outside of this country.

Nair comments that in the post-9/11 world, “I think you could easily say the part that’s changed the most is the world of intelligence, security, and defense…The money’s simply without limit, and plenty of it goes for snitching and spying.” In a world where countries do not trust each other and they have greater capacity for destruction, solid information could mean the difference between life and ruin.

The book is divided into three parts with no chapters separating the parts. Instead, within each portion, there are page breaks, which denote pauses or changes in locations or ideas. Within each part, Johnson slightly changes his writing style. These changes take many different forms. One part is made up Nair writing, but never seeming to receive, emails from the enigmatic character named Tina. Another part is just a normal dialog based narration with Nair always taking the first-person voice.

At times, the plot can be a bit hard to follow. It is common within the spy-thriller genre for nothing ever to be as it seems and for characters to never mean what they say. Because of this, it takes active reading to follow Johnson through his novel.

That is not to say, however, that his book is any less worth reading. On the contrary, with so much of reading nowadays becoming solely focused on trashy magazine-like websites (which are good for their own purposes) it is a nice change of pace to actually be required to think in order to follow a plot line.

Furthermore, Johnson offers his readers a look at what a soldier’s psyche really looks like. You may ask what soldiers have to do with spies, but, what are spies if not clandestine soldiers? Michael says that “[a] soldier must never think. In fact, when you’re forbidden to think it comes as a relief.” The reader quickly learns that, due the immense pressure a man in Nair or Michael’s position is under, thinking and decision-making come as huge surprises, and even hindrances, to their commanding officers. A good spy does what he is told, or that is what they want you to believe.

If want you want to take a break from March Madness and exercise your brain somewhere else, Johnson’s novel is the place to do it.

Talking BCSG elections with Kiernan Majerus-Collins

Kiernan Majerus-Collins, former Bates College Student Government Parliamentarian, answers some questions regarding the recent election, which consisted in a surprising 695-ballotcount, and with a 93 to 7 percent result favoring a new Constitution.

Amar Ojha (AO): There was a question surrounding 695 ballots being counted and 695 students actually showing up to vote during this election.

Kiernan Majerus-Collins (KMC): Concerns about the legitimacy of any election are well-placed. The first priority is to make sure that elections are secure. In this particular election, we used the same security procedures we used in January. In January [election for Student Body President] we had 707 votes, and this time around we had 695, a slight dip. There is no evidence that we have to suggest that there was any sort of manipulation of the election results. It’s always possible that fake IDs may have been used.

AO: Can you comment on the time frame of the election, especially with regards to basketball game that day?

KMC: The most important thing that we were looking to do was that we had the election at a time when folks could vote and we made sure the election was held promptly after the amendment was offered. And so, we opened the polls on 7 A.M. that Friday, and kept them open until right before the basketball game started at 5:30. Obviously the turnout suggested that people were able to vote. 7 A.M. polls allows for anyone going to breakfast, lunch, and the first part of the dinner rush to go and to vote.

AO: Can you talk a little about the changing of Constitution the day before the election?

KMC: That is not quite right. The Constitution that was offered to the voters on Friday was the Constitution that we had in our possession the entire week. Changes that were being made, informally and unofficially being made by folks like Tomas, Berto, that sort of thing, were not changes that were offered Friday. We used the Constitution that was offered to us when the process started. What people sent out over announce emails, what people sent out over Facebook or links or whatever were not our concern. We sent out the text to the Constitution as it stood on Friday.

AO: There has been a lot of concern surrounding the deleted names of people who voted. Can you comment on this?

KMC: We don’t collect names. We collect ID numbers. This is an important distinction to make because if we collected names there wouldn’t be an issue. In January we reached out the Administration hoping to get a list of all the students to get names instead of ID numbers, but they wouldn’t give it to us, citing privacy concerns and that sort of thing. We had to make due with the next best option. The next best option was using ID numbers. And when you use ID numbers you have to balance between ballot security, which means checking ID numbers, to make sure no one votes twice, and also deleting those numbers, because we can’t have the officer of Student Government walking around campus with 700 ID numbers in their backpack. That is a terrible idea. It violates every principle of having private information and the fact that we’re using ID numbers at all is unfortunate, but that was something that was forced upon us by the administration. This is our best option to make sure we have a secure ballot while also maintaining student privacy.

AO: The U.S. Government has public record of voting attendance in registrar offices of different levels. This information does not reveal who or for what they voted for, but just who voted and who did not. Recent student government elections do not follow this protocol. Thoughts?

KMC: This is something we would love to do. It requires a list of every student who goes to the college. And we weren’t provided with that. To keep ID numbers in the system, that’s [what is] being suggested, is to say that we don’t care about student privacy in terms of their ID numbers and that we are supposed to go back and reverse engineer what ID number corresponds to what student. When we’re doing ballot security, we’re making sure that no ID number votes twice. We have no record of which student is connected to an ID number, as it should be because we don’t want to have anyone’s ID number stored with a name. The principle of trying to examine an ID number list is not only problematic because we have privacy concerns, but is doubly problematic because we have to reverse engineer what the numbers are. This is something that could be easily solved if the administration would give us the names, but so far, they’ve declined to do that. The other important thing to remember is that from the moment the polls opened to the moment the polls closed, the entire process was in full public view, and the counting process was in full public view. And so, the ID number security system was to make sure from our end that people weren’t trying to vote twice. It was successful in that endeavor. Nobody tried to vote twice, but the point is that we have a system that spits back those results. We enter a number, and it says whether or not they voted. So, that was on our end, to make sure we had ballot security. In terms of the faith of the student body on the election, the reality is that the election from the moment it opened to the moment we finished counting votes, the ballot box was in full public view. That’s something that’s incredibly important to us.

AO: Would just keeping ID numbers be problematic even if there was no way to make a connection from an ID number to a name, just to see that that was the actual turnout?

KMC: I can’t speak to every student at the college. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem [if] my ID number was checked against a list, but the reality is that we’re trying to encourage people to vote and anyone that is not going to vote because of privacy concerns, that’s a real loss. So we’d prefer not have to ask for ID numbers at all because I’m sure that’s turning away at least a couple of people. But the reality is that if you keep the list, if you keep the numbers, you could definitely see a drop in turnout because of the fact that people don’t want their numbers to be stored indefinitely. We had a lot of questions like, “What are you doing with the number?” more in January than in the recent election. But in both elections, “What’s happening to the number?” and the answer we would give that would satisfy most, but not all voters who asked that was that the numbers were going to be wiped at the end of the night, that that was just the policy. They’re gone. We’re not going to store them, we’re not going to keep them; they’re totally erased.

AO: Has that been the case in the past election?

KMC: Yes. That’s how we did things at the referendum, how we did things in January.

AO: In terms of counting the vote, I heard that there wasn’t the normal committee counting the votes at the end of the night.

KMC: Everyone who was counting the ballots was a member of the EJC.

AO: Who is a member of the EJC?

KMC: That would include myself and Owen Cardwell-Copenhefer, the same people who counted the bulk of the votes in January. And the reality was that we had Matthew Parrino and Connor Cahill, who decided to watch the vote counting in the room, and so in terms of public counting, there were other people there the entire time.

AO: Given the high turnout, was it hard to regulate the poll?

KMC: Not really. The system works very well. It’s a system where I think people are getting used to the idea where you write down your ballot, you give the ID, the ID gets checked, the ballot goes in the box. It’s a pretty smooth-flowing system. We would prefer, again, a system that was name-based. But the reality is that we’ve got this down so we can do several votes a minute at a really rush time.

AO: Can you talk about the lopsidedness of the election results?

KMC: Right, well, I wouldn’t want to speculate as to what the student body thought, but certainly some of the comments we heard at the polls were that people were fed up with the Student Government, and that anything that was going to shake it up, change it, was good with them. And the reality here is that I think we’ve seen a lot of dissatisfaction from the student body regarding the Student Government, so it’s not a surprise that they would want to try a different process.

AO: Can anyone launch a referendum from here on out?

KMC: Yes. In accordance with the constitution that was passed, the same rules regarding referendums that we had before are still the same. Any student can propose a referendum that Owen, myself, folks in the Parliamentary Council will work with them on wording to make sure that what the referendum says is what they want it to say and then it will be offered to the student body in the same way that we offered the last one.

AO: Any other clarifications you would like to make?

KMC: We saw the tremendous strength and effectiveness of this referendum system with the last referendum and anyone who wants to offer additional changes to the constitution should feel free to do so. We’re happy to work that out for them, make sure that the student body has a chance to think about other suggestions as well, that this referendum is only what we hope to be the first of many to continue to refine the role of the Student Government.

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