The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: May 2015

Lacrosse team reaches NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen

The men’s lacrosse team must have been watching the men’s basketball team closely this winter. For the first time ever, the men’s lacrosse squad got a bid for the NCAA tournament, and they made the most out of the opportunity. The Bobcats would go on to defeat Keene State 16-11 in a high-intensity first round NCAA tournament matchup.

A roaring crowd came out for Bates’ first-ever home playoff game on Garcelon Field. Keene State came out of the gates swinging, taking an early 4-1 lead in the first quarter, with the Owls’ Tyler McKelvie scoring three times. However, two goals by sophomore Charlie Fay and one goal by sophomore Kyle Weber cut the deficit, as the score was 6-3 in favor of the Owls after the first.

Bates would answer back with four straight goals in the second period by senior Jack Strain, sophomores Scott Baber and Andrew Melvin, and junior Jack Allard. The Owls would finally answer to tie the game at 7-7 at the end of the second quarter.

As the back and forth between the teams continued, Keene State started the second half with a 2-0 run to gain a 9-7 lead, but Bates responded to their run with four straight goals to make it 11-9 at the end of the third quarter. Bates then owned the fourth quarter, outscoring the Owls five to two with goals from seniors Conor Henrie and Reed Lewallen along with Allard.

The Bobcats definitely did not let down their fans in their first NCAA bid. They won the groundball battle, taking 40 compared to Keene State’s 27, and fired 46 shots on goal, 11 more than the Owls.

Bates moved on to face familiar NESCAC rival Tufts in the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday at Bello Field. They were looking for another upset after defeating Tufts 12-8 on April 7 to end the Jumbos’ 24-game winning streak.

Bates began strong, taking a 2-1 lead after the first quarter with goals by Allard and Fay. Melvin had to be taken off the field after a hit left him with a concussion, which proved to be a major blow to the team. But first-year Clarke Jones stepped up in Melvin’s place and scored the first goal of the second quarter for Bates. Tufts maintained a high tempo pace and scored six goals in the second quarter, with Zach Richman notching two of those goals. Fay closed the gap on Tufts with a late goal in the second period to cut the deficit to 7-5.

Tufts opened up the second half with a goal to make it 8-5, but Bates replied with back-to-back goals by Weber and freshman Max Breschi. The Jumbos then came out swinging in the fourth, scoring less than two minutes into the quarter and adding four more before Strain scored a consolation goal with a little over four minutes left in the game to make the final score 13-8.

Though the Sweet Sixteen loss was tough for Bates, the team capped off a great and somewhat unexpected campaign this season. Putting up their best season in 28 years and hosting an NCAA tournament game on Garcelon for the first time ever is nothing short of tremendous.

Fay and Allard, both All-NESCAC selections, return next year to lead what should be a solid group.

After an excellent season for Coach Lasagna and his team, Bates men’s lacrosse has put the NESCAC and the rest of Division III on notice for next year.

Alabama Shakes: Sound and color

Alabama Shakes pictureAlabama Shakes exploded in 2013 with their debut album Boys and Girls, employing a sound heavily influenced by southern rock groups such as Clearance Clearwater Revival and the Allman Brothers Band.

Gritty and hard rocking, the band’s music stood in stark contrast with the Mumford-and-Sons-style folk revivalism that was beginning to dominate alternative music. Led by singer Brittney Murphey’s rough, soulful singing, the band received three Grammy nominations that year, including one for Best New Artist.

With such a successful formula, it would have been very easy for the group to make their second album in a similar vein as their first, and keep their sound within the confines of southern rock. However, instead of taking this easy route, Alabama Shakes have decided to move out of the shadow of their influences and broaden their musical palate.

Their second album, Sound and Color, blends elements of funk, soul, and heavy blues into an exhilarating psychedelic atmosphere. Through curiosity and experimentation, the band went from being a group of masterful southern rock imitators to one of expansive creativity. From wide and varied influences, Alabama Shakes created a sound indebted to the past, yet thoroughly modern.

One prime example of this ability to fuse together disparate musical elements is the albums second track “Don’t Wanna Fight.” The song’s verses have a scrappy, down-home groove reminiscent of Dr. John’s New Orleans R&B. However, the song’s style changes seamlessly during the chorus, with Brittney Murphey employing a sweet falsetto over the songs main refrain. Backed by funky, disco-influenced guitar, the music has sound not far off from that of Michael Jackson and Prince.

The song “Future People” pushes the sound of 60s soul to its limits with buzzing synthesizers and hypnotic melodies. “Gimme All Your Love” moves constantly between slow balladry and all out distorted psychedelic instrumentation. The band shows immense prowess in their ability to navigate different musical terrain so seamlessly.

While many of the album’s songs are more experimental, many of its best moments are its most simple and traditional. Tracks such as “This Feeling” and “Miss You” stay squarely in the tradition of singers such as Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Singer Brittney Murphey, like these greats, uses her voice effectively to evoke weariness and heartbreak, singing with a timeless emotional resonance. The stripped back and minimal production of these tracks allow for Murphey’s astounding vocal talented to be on full display.

Lyrically, the album draws from Brittney Murphey’s own personal troubles. The lyrics often deal with issues surrounding romantic relationships and are often vividly detailed. “Miss You” deals with the loss of a dearly held romantic partner, with Murphey singing about how she will miss her departing lover’s “Mickey Mouse tattoo” and after he “leaves in his Honda Accord.”

“Don’t Wanna Fight” explores the emotional exhaustion of arguing with someone you care about. “Attacking, defending,” Murphey sings on the track “until there is nothing worth winning.” Such themes of love and loss are typical of the kind of blues and soul music that Alabama Shakes creates. However, the authenticity and raw emotion in Murphey’s delivery make it seem as though these struggles are being explored through music for the first time.

In the midst of dark and emotional subject matter are moments of loose and spontaneous fun. The track “The Greatest,” one of the album’s stand-outs, is an uncut garage rock track. With distorted punk rock guitars, and long impromptu jams, the song has the energy of a live performance. The song, which feels as though it was recorded in one take, is an enjoyable break from the album’s more serious moments.

Alabama Shakes has managed to draw upon at the music of the 20th century while still creating something strikingly original. At a time when bands seem content to simply imitate their influences instead of pushing their music forward, the music of Alabama Shakes is remarkably refreshing. With elements of southern rock, blues, soul, psychedelic rock, and even elements of electronic music seemingly coalesced into catchy and intriguing songs, “Sound and Color” is a must-listen.

While by no means a musical game changer or an instant classic, the album presents Alabama Shakes as a musical force to be recognized. Hopefully it serves as an inspiration to other modern groups inspired by the past, and encourages them to be more daring and courageous in their musical choices.

Freddie Gray remembered: Solidarity March at Bates

On April 12th, Freddie Gray was arrested by the Baltimore Police for allegedly possessing an illegal switchblade. A week later, Gray died of a spinal cord injury that occurred while he was being transported in a police van. In the days and weeks after, the city of Baltimore reacted with protests, one of which turned violent.

At Bates, first-year Rachel Chappell, a Baltimore native, felt distraught over the events and helped to organize the march on campus. Chappell was unable to show her support in Baltimore as she had returned to Bates before the protests began in earnest. She organized the Solidarity March.

“I thought that it would be a great idea to show my support while I was up here, and I wanted to be able to give others the opportunity to show their support as well because I imagine that some people wanted to show solidarity with Baltimore and Ferguson and other Black Lives Matter movements,” Chappell said.

It all started after Chappell posted on Facebook about her frustration and need for action. First-year Yara Abdelhady immediately responded that she would help organize any sort of event Chappell wanted. Although Abdelhady calls Egypt home, she felt frustrated with the systematic discrimination of the American legal system. The two created an event on Facebook and on Bates Today for others who shared their frustration. Of the 100 people who responded, 80 participated.

Chappell’s frustration cumulated on May 1st when she led 80 people in a march around the Bates campus. The participants—all dressed in black—chanted together. Chappell yelled, “Tell me what democracy looks like!” While the rest of the participants responded, “This is what democracy looks like!” This slogan represented the march’s goal of peaceful civil protest and free speech as outlined in the First Amendment.

Another chant, “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” protested the larger systematic violence of the legal system. Finally, “All night. All day. Justice for Freddie Gray” called for the arrest and conviction of the six police officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death. Students, faculty and community members of various ethnicities and backgrounds marched.

Chappell and Abdelhady decided that they wanted to show the community what was happening outside of the “Bates Bubble.” But they also wanted to show the people of Lewiston the issues they cared about. The two eventually decided to lead the march around the Puddle, several academic buildings, and along the streets bordering campus. They ended in front of Commons with a vigil.

The vigil served to remind the community of the people who have died and continue to suffer due to racial injustice.

“It’s not just Freddie Gray who passed away. People are suffering as they are living as well,” Chappell said. The participants stood outside Commons with hand-made signs while holding candles. The signs—made individually by each participant—sported quotes, sayings, and original ideas. After the vigil ended, the signs were left at the entrance of Commons to remind students of the injustices against minorities in America. The goal was to disrupt people from their normal routine and make them think, if only for a second.

In the weeks following Freddie Gray’s death, the initially peaceful protests became increasingly violent in the City of Baltimore. Small amounts of property destruction, mostly aimed at police equipment, occurred near downtown on April 25th, and the violence escalated on April 27th when stores were looted and set on fire in West Baltimore.

Maryland Governor Lawrence Hogan declared a state of emergency in the city and called in the National Guard. Earlier in the day on May 1, charges were filed against the six officers involved in Gray’s death. The officer driving the van, Caesar Goodson, was charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder. The other five officers were charged with various crimes, among them manslaughter and illegal arrest.

Baseball finishes 3rd in NESCAC

In the NESCAC, and Maine in particular, it always takes a little more time than usual for the baseball season to get into full swing. For the Bates baseball team, it was no different this year, as they capped an up-and-down season with some thrilling baseball before ultimately falling short of a NESCAC Championship on Saturday.

The excitement began in the final NESCAC series of the year for the Bobcats, who were forced into heroics by the looming threat of elimination from postseason play. The boys of summer needed to sweep their three-game set against the Trinity Bantams in order to secure a spot in the four-team NESCAC tournament. Both Bates and Trinity were 4-5 in conference play entering the series, and both were still competing with Colby and Bowdoin for the second spot in the East division behind Tufts.

The Bobcats took Game 1 by a 6-4 score at Leahey Field, spurred on by a grand slam from senior Nate Pajka in the first inning and a gritty outing from ace Connor Colombo, a junior. The next day, Bates had a clear and simple task before them: sweep the doubleheader and qualify for the NESCAC tournament. The pressure was intense, but the Bobcats stood tall and grinded out a long afternoon of baseball that resulted in two clutch victories to secure their spot in the playoffs, and in thrilling fashion no less. The first game of the day featured another stellar pitching performance from first-year Connor Speed and a clutch walk-off RBI from senior Sam Berry to secure the 3-2 victory. In a seven-inning Game 2, Pajka homered again in the first inning, a two-run bomb that would give senior starter Will Levangie all the run support he needed. Levangie tossed a complete game shutout, leading the Bobcats to a 3-0 victory, a series sweep, and a birth in the playoffs. The Bobcats issued zero walks and had 17 strikeouts on the afternoon. The recipe for success in baseball at any level never changes, and the Bobcats showed that against Trinity. Just throw strikes.

“It just seemed like the odds were against us, but each guy on the team bought into the fact that we could sweep Trinity and prove everyone else wrong,” first baseman Rockwell Jackson said. “As a senior, I could not have imagined a better way to play my last home games. The series really showed the toughness of our team and how each and every guy never gave up.”

The playoff-clinching sweep presented the Bobcats with a tall task, a first-round matchup in the double-elimination NESCAC tournament with the undefeated Wesleyan Cardinals from the West division. Bates’ bats fell silent in the opening game of the tournament Friday, as Wesleyan ace Nick Cooney, who was 7-1 during the regular season, had a solid performance to lead the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory. Bates threatened a few times late in the game, but left the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings, and left two runners on in the ninth. Colombo had another solid outing, but he gave up runs in each of the first three innings that put the Bobcats in an early hole they couldn’t climb out from.

The following morning, Bates jumped out to an 8-0 lead against division foe Tufts in their first elimination game of the tournament, and held on for an 8-7 victory. Speed turned in another stellar performance on the mound, and Berry and junior Sam Warren each had home runs to pace the offense.

“We always talk about one hit at a time and passing the torch on to the next guy, and it was awesome to see how the hits became contagious for the whole team as each guy stepped in and did his job to put a crooked number up on the board,” said Jackson, who ignited the rally with a leadoff double.

Later that afternoon, Bates matched up with Amherst, who had lost to Wesleyan in Game 2 of the Saturday tripleheader. Amherst held on for a 6-5 victory despite another homer from Berry, eliminating Bates from the tournament and ending their season.

The Bobcats finished 17-20 overall and secured third place in the NESCAC tournament. This success is a reflection of the turnaround Coach Mike Leonard has achieved with the program.

“Ever since [Coach Leonard] came to Bates, he has given 110% into everything he does to turn our baseball program into the best that it can be, and I believe he has been very successful,” Jackson said. “In five years being here, he has already made Bates baseball history by leading our team to its first two NESCAC Championship tournament appearances in back-to-back years.”

Bates has a solid core of pitching returning for next season, although the team will have to replace Pajka, Berry, and a bevy of other seniors from the lineup.

Mumford and Sons, minus the banjo

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It’s all the rage these days for musicians to change genres and make a big deal out of it. First, you have Taylor Swift making her own not-so-huge change from country to pop, and now you have Mumford and Sons making their surprisingly not-so-huge change from banjo-filled folk to arena-sized rock.

Ever since Mumford and Sons declared they were getting rid of the banjo for their third album there has been much hoopla surrounding the change. At first it does sound odd that Wilder Minds would be banjo-free, given how successful the banjo made the band.

Their first album, Sigh No More, went on to sell three million copies; their second, Babel, won Album of the Year at the Grammys. Granted, Babel was basically Sigh No More: The Sequel, but that did not stop people from buying the album and creating stars out of Mumford and Sons. Yet instead of making a trilogy, the band decided to go in a new direction with Wilder Minds, which resulted in varying opinions.

The banjo sounds from the first two albums were very distinct when the albums came out, immediately setting Mumford and Sons apart from the pack. Soon after, other bands began to see the success of Mumford and Sons and tried to replicate their sounds in order to further their own personal musical victories. Thus, Mumford and Sons became the leader of a folk revival, which spread from bands like Of Monsters and Men to dance musicians such as Avicii. So Mumford and Sons abandoned the sound that made them famous for what they thought would be fresh, new music.

Though this is not to say that the album Wilder Minds is bad, it just does not have the same novelty feeling as the first two albums. However, Marcus Mumford’s voice still has the same mixture of grit heart and the instrumentation is phenomenal as always. Even the structure of the songs is similar to previous albums.

The great thing about Mumford and Sons’ songs is how they build over the course of three or four minutes from Mumford singing in a soft voice with a few backing instruments to hearing him sing his heart out with the full band at its loudest. “Believe” begins as a quiet and tranquil track about uncertainty in relationships then builds to a larger-than-life Coldplay-esque finale. “Thompson Square Park” uses an energetic guitar solo to end the song on a high note (figuratively, not literally).

Interestingly enough, the content of the songs also changed from the previous two albums. While old songs such “I Will Wait” showed the hopeful nature of relationships, the songs on Wilder Mind show the other side of relationships: heartbreak.

“Wilder Mind” describes the ending of a relationship that was once thought to last forever while “Just Smoke” follows the point of view of two people as they prepare to break up with each other. “Broad Shouldered Beasts” is a little more hopeful as a couple senses a potential breakup but still keeps the optimism of survival. The closing song, “Hot Gates,” is influenced by the entrance to Hades and the battle between Sparta and Persia that took place there, which Mumford uses as he sings to a suicidal friend of his.

Aside from the dark nature of most of the songs, there is also the odd setting of New York City in most of them. Many tracks throughout the album refer to specific locations in the city, most blatantly “Thompson Square Park.”

The songs provide an interesting insight into relationships, including both the hope and resignation one has. The banjos are missed in Wilder Mind, but luckily the album still provides an enjoyable listen.

Preview: Pirates of Penzance is full of pizzaz

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For the Robinson Players, Short Term means putting on the musical for the annual Stages for All Ages production, where they perform for students from Lewiston elementary schools. This year, the musical Pirates of Penzance is directed by seniors Max Pendergast and Shana Wallace, and with humorous characters, catchy music, and engaging choreography, this performance is sure to be a hit.

The audience meets the musical’s protagonist, Frederick, who also happens to be a pirate, on his twenty-first birthday when he thinks he has finished his apprenticeship to the pirates. The adventure begins when Frederick is told that he is not quite free yet, as his birthday falls on the leap-year date of February 29th and the pirates classify him as a boy of five years old. The plot continues to unfold through complications that arise from forbidden love and, of course, police and pirate clashes.

The production consists of twenty-two cast members and a nine-person production crew under the direction of Pendergast and Wallace. Pendergast remarks that she “recalls as a freshman how inclusive [Stages for All Ages] was to underclassmen and people from all across Bates.”

One of the best aspects about this program is that younger Bates students use this time during Short Term as a gateway into theater at Bates.

Furthermore, since the cast is preforming the musical for four elementary schools in the Lewiston school district, Pendergast remarked, “The musical is a great way to expose kids to art and to connect Bates with the local community.” Instead of creating an Ivory Tower-like experience for Bates students, the Robinson Players exemplify how our community reaches out to the public in order to fully experience new environments while also educating others.

Stage Manager Sara Hoye ’17 comments on the precision that goes on backstage in order to complement the onstage action. She noted, “The entire job is about timing everything so perfectly that nobody notices the job.” In any production, the people whom the audience does not see are pivotal in making a show run smoothly.

And what would a piece of musical theater be without a talented musical director? Fortunately, sophomore Madeline McLean manages to seamlessly teach the musical numbers to the cast while having them sound like they have been practicing for months rather than weeks. McLean said that she “chose this year to be musical director because [she has] never really been on that side of a musical.” One of the best aspects of a production during Short Term is that it allows for people to switch up their normally stagnant roles and try something new.

With singing there comes dancing, and senior Tomisha Edwards is choreographing the production along with her assistant choreographer, first-year Riley Hopkins. Normally, first-years are the proverbial low-man on the totem pole, but this stereotype is not true for Pirates. Instead, Hopkins says, “As a senior, Tomisha has taken me under her wing and is being an extremely thorough teacher.” The seniors want to impart as much wisdom on their younger counterparts so that the Robinson Players’ work remains exceptional.

The show would not be complete (nor as exciting to watch) without some amazing actors to bring the characters to life. Senior Nick Auer, who plays the swashbuckling pirate Frederick, says, “Not only do we want the show to be fun for Bates students to preform and put together, but it is also a show that is specifically for elementary school students.” Pirates of Penzance is an entertaining, wholesomely funny script, but the actors’ job is to ensure the humor is evident throughout the show.

“Theater is all about putting yourself out there and having a great time, which can all be done through acting,” first-year Sarah Curtis, who plays one of the many maidens, said. From the rehearsals, it is clear that the cast and crew want to share their love of the arts with the audience, which in turn makes for a more dynamic musical.

Pirates of Penzance will be performed for the Lewiston elementary schools from May 21st to May 23rd, but there will also be an enhanced version of the show for the Bates community on May 23rd.

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to be performed on the Puddle

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In just two weeks, members of the Robinson Players will be performing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the Keigwin Amphitheater, continuing the annual tradition of “Shakespeare on the Puddle.” The cast, directed by sophomore Sam James, includes first-year Hope French, sophomore Michaela Britt, seniors John Goodman and Ciaran Walsh, and several others.

As students, we have all read and perhaps performed Shakespeare’s classics such as Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and Macbeth, but this will be different. As opposed to a typical theater setting indoors, the performance in the amphitheater allows for a unique experience. Actor Ciaran Walsh says that the performance is hopefully supposed to leave the audience with a “new and rejuvenated love for Shakespeare.” This stylistic choice is, according to Walsh “a great nod to the way Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed.” The relaxed atmosphere of the outdoor setting will surely attract students, but it also is a beautiful way to memorialize the greatest writer of all time.

For those who need to refresh their Shakespeare knowledge, and for those who are more familiar with She’s the Man than with the original play, Twelfth Night tells the story of a young woman named Viola, whose ship was destroyed during a storm off the coast of Illyria and who consequently loses her twin brother, Sebastian. In an attempt to protect herself, Viola disguises herself as a boy and calls herself Cesario. She then becomes a servant for the Duke of Illyria, Orsino, who is madly in love with a woman named Olivia. Viola acts as Orsino’s wing-woman (or, in this case, man) as she delivers Orsino’s love letters to Olivia.

As you can imagine, this play is full of adventure. Walsh plays Sebastian, Viola’s seemingly “lost” twin brother; but in a surprising turn of events, Sebastian turns out to be alive. Walsh describes his character as someone who is “often left trying to make sense of miscommunications that have been thrust upon him. As a result he deals with a wide range of situations, making him a very fun character to play.”

This will undoubtedly be a night to remember as we watch the various trials and tribulations of the characters. Walsh urges us to “Come out and enjoy some Shakespeare! What’s better than hanging by the puddle during Short Term with some extra entertainment?”

Twelfth Night will be showing on Saturday, May 23 and Sunday May 24; both performances will be at 2:00 P.M.

World Wrestling Exploitation

It is tough business being a fan of the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment. Most people see professional wrestling as a “fake sport” that displays hyper-masculinity and ultra-sexualized female figures. It promotes violence as a way to settle disputes—a detrimental message for young consumers. It is seen as a product that must be enjoyed only by the uneducated, those who do not grasp its backwardness.

This negative perception of the WWE has caused me to become a closeted fan since fifth grade. On several occasions, I’ve tried to forsake my love for the WWE by mocking its over-the-top, melodramatic ridiculousness. I realized that the harder I resisted it, the more I needed the WWE in my life. Its content was too gripping. The balance of soap-opera-like storylines, acrobatics, technical wrestling, and larger-than-life personalities fills me with a transcendental excitement I simply cannot let go.

Over the years, my obsession with the WWE has evolved. Not only do I continue to tune in to its flagship show, “WWE Raw,” every Monday night, but I have also become totally fascinated by the industry. How does one get into the business of professional wrestling? Why has it gained such global popularity and contempt?

Questions relating to worker rights and labor laws have most recently piqued my interest. Fervent criticisms of the company by former WWE wrestlers require us to bring issues like employee mistreatment to the forefront. Does the WWE exploit the entertainers it employs? Examining the wrestlers’ status as independent contractors rather than as employees is key to understanding the immense (and unjust) control the WWE is able to maintain over its talent.

WWE Raw is the longest running episodic series in the history of television. It has aired every single Monday night since its inception in January 1993. Like a travelling circus, the WWE moves from city to city each week—and sometimes, even country to country—where its performers (a.k.a. “Superstars”) are able to showcase their unique in-ring abilities. Live events, which are televised four times per week, occur daily. The Superstars are expected to work at least 300 days a year, most of which are away from home. For how much they travel over the course of a year, it would make sense if the company provided transportation. Most Superstars, however, must drive themselves to the different arenas across the country and pay for food and gas along the way. Because the company defines its workers as independent contractors rather than employees, the WWE sheds many responsibilities of a typical employer. The WWE is not required to cover their workers’ transportation, food, lodging, and training expenses, nor are they forced to provide various forms of insurance (i.e. health care, social security, and unemployment). For all intents and purposes, WWE superstars are self-reliant.

The lack of support WWE offers its performers is astonishing, especially given their physically taxing line of work, but we must remember that independent contractors are technically their own bosses. As such, they must access essential resources themselves. Hollywood actors, professional athletes engaging in individual sports (such as golf, tennis, and boxing), and artists are all examples of independent contractors. They are freelancers who sell their services to anyone that wishes to hire them. Independent contractors are not confined to specific working hours, wages, or locations, which in theory allows for freedom and mobility.

While it seems as if WWE performers would have a degree of power and agency as self-employers, the WWE has established an employer-worker relationship that places much of the authority in the company’s hands. When WWE CEO Vince McMahon purchased World Championship Wrestling in 2001, he monopolized the “sports entertainment” industry. The WWE became the promotion that every aspiring wrestler hoped to reach one day. Thousands of talented individuals strive for an opportunity to be a part of the wrestling juggernaut.

Realizing the expendability of its performers, the WWE has created an extremely competitive environment. Performers work tirelessly, often when they are “off the clock,” to get closer to achieving superstardom. Electing to miss work due to illnesses, injury, fatigue, or other prior engagements jeopardizes a worker’s standing. His or her spot in a match will be given to the next able person. The cutthroat workplace, where no one’s position is protected, incentivizes performers to always show up for work regardless of their physical or mental states.

Furthermore, the WWE has been known to punish its workers. Complaining on Twitter about not getting enough opportunities to wrestle, “botching” moves, (failing to execute moves properly in the ring), or upsetting the company’s higher-ups often leads to punishment. The WWE will punish their superstars by having them lose several matches in a row or by removing them from television. Punished workers are restricted from engaging in high profile, high paying matches. The WWE can sabotage a worker’s career at any given moment, whether it is truly warranted or not.

Recently, one of the most talented WWE superstars named Dolph Ziggler was punished for booking a stand-up comedy gig because he did not inform the company of his plans. As a result, WWE had Ziggler lose his Intercontinental Championship, a prestigious belt in the WWE. Clearly, the WWE neither supports nor respects the “extracurricular” endeavors of their independently contracted superstars. Instead, the company carefully monitors and controls the actions of its workers, both in the ring and outside of it.

By attempting to control what services are performed, as well as how they are executed, the WWE treats its workers like employees rather than independent contractors. Creative license and the freedom to pursue other professional opportunities, rights that come with being an independent contractor, are denied by the WWE.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the WWE to consider its workers as employees rather than independent contractors? You’d think so. Billionaire CEO Vince McMahon chooses to treat his workers as independent contractors so that he doesn’t have to provide them with any employee benefits or compensation. The label “independent contractor” has been put into place as a way for McMahon to exploit his workers. Any form of resistance is unwise since it’s always met with punishment. Past unionization attempts have failed, in large part due to workers’ fears of opposing WWE management. Superstars are merely spokes on a wheel, and replacement parts are readily available. As ex-WWE star and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura stated, “you’re a piece of meat” as a WWE worker. Whoever is unhappy with the status quo must either suck it up or find a new job.

Bernie Sanders can stir the political pot

On April 12th, Hillary Clinton posted an official video announcing her presidential campaign to the delight of millions nationwide. Political gurus marveled at the early polls, with Hillary holding a clear majority, robustly supported by the vast majority of Democratic voters. With no other significant threats in her sight, Hillary seemed to be the likely Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016.

This all changed when the 73-year-old Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders officially announced his presidential campaign on April 20th. Bernie has earned a reputation in Congress for being the longest-serving Independent in U.S. Congressional history. While there had been talk of the senator from Vermont running for President, it seemed highly unlikely that he had any chance of gaining any serious attention, never mind winning the 2016 Presidential Election. If Sanders were to run, the common fear arose that this left-leaning Independent would steal votes that would otherwise be going to the Democratic Party, or in other words, to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders surprised many when he stated that was going to be running under the Democratic Party, given that one does not technically have to be registered with a particular party to run under that party’s ticket for nomination. His choice to run as a Democrat, he explained, is based on his desire to appear in the debates that will be nationally televised. And the only way he would be able to appear in these debates is if one is running for the Democratic or Republican Party.

One of Sanders’s most passionate positions is against income inequality in the United States, something that he believes arises largely as a result of the large concentrations of wealth held by the wealthiest of the country.

Sanders explains, “99% of all new income is going to the top 1%.” This might be one of the most important distinguishing factors between him and Hillary. He has mentioned, time and time again, that the largest reason he was weary of running was because he wouldn’t be able to raise nearly as much money as Hillary would, given her ties with the 1% that Sanders so passionately bashes.

Pointing out the state of the nation, one in which a few key players on Wall Street dictate the winners of any given election, Sanders has called for a grassroots movement featuring local communities coming together to keep money out of politics. Even the bottom of his campaign site proudly boasts, “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (Not the Billionaires).”

Sanders has promised to never accept any corporate money or super-PAC funds, yet still was able to raise over $1.5-million within 24 hours of announcing his campaign from donors, thereby exceeding the amounts raised by GOP candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul in their first day of running.

Receiving national attention for his speech in 2010 on the Senate floor lasting over eight hours, Sanders declared, “Enough is enough! How many homes can you own?” This episode cast the Senator into the spotlight as a champion for ending economic disparities, eventually leading to him gaining the support of an entire movement. For the first time, Occupy Wall Street has chosen to officially endorse a presidential candidate publicly.

While even Sanders enthusiasts are skeptical of his realistic chances of ever becoming President of the United States, he will serve as an important leftist voice during the upcoming election, one in which he will be able to argue on behalf of those who do want a drastic change. If anything, Sanders will force Hillary to address topics that may even push her platform more to the left, ranging from her decision to support the Iraq War compared to his staunch opposition as well as to her ties with Wall Street.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Hillary and other candidates will need to prepare to face a candidate who isn’t afraid to blatantly state his views and call out politicians for their transgressions.

Passionate about all things, Sanders explains how he doesn’t participate in personal attacks, stating, “I’ve never run a negative ad in my life… I hate and detest these 30-second, ugly negative ads.”

Sanders is not going to be playing the games classically associated with campaign season. He is in it to win it. And as the Twitter hashtag has begun to promote, it is time for the other presidential candidates to prepare themselves to “Feel the Bern.”

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