The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: February 2017 Page 1 of 4

A walk through the arts: Bates Arts Crawl 2017

Art Crawl is a yearly event occuring all over campus that incorporates multiple types of art. It ranges from singing to dancing, theatre to visual art. I find this night to be special because as an Art & Visual Culture Studio major, I think it is important for other members of the Bates community to see what the artists are doing. I find that sharing art can benefit everyone; the artists get some feedback as well as non-artists can come in and experience something new.

Alanis Carmona ’18 said, “[b]eing a Biochemistry, pre-med student, my life has been made up of pure science; I see life through the eyes of medicine. Arts Crawl definitely opened by eyes to seeing the world in an artistic way. It was such a great experience that I’m definitely looking forward to next year!” It is always a pleasure to see students who are not used to seeing art through their lens come out of their comfort zone a bit to experience new things. Carmona was not the only non-art major student for students, teachers, alumni and members of the community were all there to appreciate and learn from our fellow artists.

This year was the first time there was an incorporation of a capella as well as animation. A capella has been a tradition at Bates for many years and while it is widely popular, incorporating it into the Bates Arts Crawl attracted more students to come in and experience the rest of Arts Crawl and all the wonderful things it had to offer. Animation is a new concentration of artwork that has been introduced this semester. It is led by Professor Carolina Gonzalez Valencia who is new to Bates. This type of art is focused on hand drawn pieces. Students during the event were in the animation studio demonstrating the importance of the art form.

All the art studios theses were open to the public in Olin. The works ranged from photography and graphic novels to classical painting. It was a great way for thesis students to get some feedback from the people coming in and reacting out to their work. Additionally, it is always great to see what our fellow Batesies are up to, for they have already been working on their projects for a semester and are beginning to start finalizing some pieces.

On the other hand, Chase Hall was filled with all the performance arts. There was a bit of a change this year, the performance artists decided to collaborate. As Riley Hopkins ’18 explained, “We ended up recruiting the ManOps, Bollywood, a scene from Exit the King, directed by Charlotte Cramer ’19, Rachel Boggia, the current Director of Dance and a professor in the Dance Department, to put together an improvisation score that included audience participation.” The Strange Bedfellow joined, as well as some talented singers and dancers of our community. It was a great show to watch.

“The arts are such an integral part of the Bates community, yet seem to get overlooked too often. This is why Arts Crawl is so important. Everyone who performed was outstanding, and I’m so proud of the way they all represented the arts.” Hopkins could not have said it better. I was and continue to be in amazement with the amount of talents Bates students have to offer.

Chamique Holdsclaw highlights panel on mental illness

Last Monday evening in the Olin Concert Hall, Bates’ athletic department organized a documentary viewing and panel discussion on the subject of mental health. The guest of distinction was NCAA and WNBA star, Chamique Holdsclaw. The documentary, Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw, co-produced by academy award nominee Rick Goldsmith and Lauren Kawana ‘06, tells her life story. Holdsclaw has battled depression for most of her adult life, and in her retirement has committed herself to raising awareness for mental illness.

“To live a balanced and healthy lifestyle it’s been a lot of work, it’s not easy,” she said in her opening remarks before the film. “I always like to tell people you kind of see me grow throughout the film, and what you see is me finally accepting this journey and now living in recovery.”

Holdsclaw grew up in Queens, New York, and attended Christ the King Regional High school. She was utterly dominant on the basketball court in high school, as evidenced in the film by raw footage from the early 90’s of Holdsclaw scoring at will and with elegance against her opponents. She earned a scholarship to play for Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, where she won three NCAA championships, including an undefeated 39-0 season in 1997-98 — at the time the most wins in a NCAA women’s basketball undefeated season ever. Holdsclaw’s personal accolades at Tennessee include being a four time All-American, two-time Naismith award winner, and a 3,000 point scorer. That last mark put her in the company of University of Maine standout Cindy Blodgett, whom Holdsclaw mentioned competing against during the event.

During her time at Tennessee, Holdsclaw began to experience bouts of depression and the beginnings of bipolar disorder. The documentary, during the screening of which Holdsclaw removed herself from the auditorium, focuses primarily on Holdsclaw’s struggles with her mental illness, beginning at Tennessee and continuing during her career in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks.

Following the screening, Holdsclaw was joined on the panel by Greg Marley, the clinical director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Maine, Brittany Longsdorf, Bates’ Multifaith Chaplain, and Luke Douglass, Bates’ interim director of counselling and psychological services.

Questions from the audience, largely made up of members of Bates’ athletics community, were robust. They ranged from the challenges of mental health that come from the collegiate athletic environment to the intersectional challenges of race and a lack of common experiences in therapist-patient relationships, and the stigma of mental health surrounding those who don’t immediately recover from their mental illness.

Holdsclaw mentioned accountability, therapy, and medication as some of the keys to her successfully “living in recovery.” “I think my friends really stuck up and learned how to support me, to really check on me,” she said. “They let me know how much they love me, how much they care.”

“You can’t give it up. It is easy to do. Sometimes everything becomes overbearing these days as I live with this, still those thoughts creep in. Like I just want to give up. And then I am just inspired by the courage that you guys have to share your stories and your journey, to know how much I have grown, and continue to grow.”


Women’s, men’s track teams continue dominance at indoor state meet

Bates’ indoor track teams continued their dominance in the state of Maine, as both the men and women’s teams secured state titles over the weekend at the Maine state meet in Gorham.

The women came out on top at the annual meet for the fourth consecutive year, blowing away the competition and outscoring second place USM 215.5 to 155.5.  The men’s path proved more challenging, winning a close and competitive meet by nine points over second place Bowdoin, 186-175. For the men, this victory gives them four Maine state championships over the last five years.

The women’s team, on their way to a relatively easy meet win, broke three state meet records in the process. Jess Wilson ‘17 ran a sub five minute mile, setting a new state meet mark, while Sally Ceesay ‘18 set a new record in the triple-jump with a distance of 38’ 4”, while Ali Hill ‘17 broke the 55 meter hurdles record by 12 hundredths of a second.

On the men’s side, their meet victory was as exciting as it was improbable. “The team across all events stepped up and collectively put together what we feel was our best overall effort of the season so far” said pole-vaulter Blake Downey ‘17, who set a personal record in the event on his way to a second place finish. According to Downey, projections calculated by their coaching staff based on previous personal bests had the men’s team projected to lose to Bowdoin by 26 points.

“There were so many standout performances across the board, but what it all came down to was that each guy stepped up to either meet or exceed expectations,” he said. According to Downey, of the 59 men on the indoor roster, an incommensurate 61 personal bests were tallied at the meet, leading to the impressive 35 point swing from the initial projections.

Having that many athletes exceed their previous levels of performance is bordering on an athletic miracle. With the New England Championships two weeks away, and NCAAs over a month away, Downey is confident the team is peaking at the right time. “Looking ahead we have a lot of work to do, but the whole team is peaking at the right time and everyone is setting personal bests every week.”

The steady leadership from this team’s senior captains is likely another important facet of this team’s impressive performance last weekend. Patrick Griffin ‘17, who was named most valuable track athlete of the meet, won the 800 meter race with a time of 1:55.62, and ran one of the legs of the 4×800 meter relay, which Bates also won. Similarly, captain Jeff Jones ‘17 finished second in the triple-jump, bounding to a distance of 45’ 5.25”.

Both teams will travel to Boston University this weekend for the David Hemery Valentine Invitational.

An alphabetical journey into the English Premier League: M

Manchester City (The Citizens)

Overview: The club was founded in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton) before becoming Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and finally Manchester City in 1894. The team was most successful in the 1960’s and 1970’s when they won the League Championship, FA Cup, League Cup, and the European Cup Winner’s Cup. After this, the team went through a period of decline, including relegation to the third tier of English football in 1998. In 2008, the team was purchased by Abu Dhabi United Group and now has the sixth-highest revenue of any football teams. Recently, they won the Premier League in 2012 and 2014.

Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium (Etihad Stadium)

Notable players:

Yaya Toure, M (Current)

Sergio Aguero, F (Current)

Carlos Tevez, F (2009-2013)

Bert Trautmann, GK (1949-1964)

Alan Oakes, M (1959-1976)

Richard Dunne, D, (2000-2009)

Vincent Kompany, D (Present)

Erik Brook, F (1928-1939)

Colin Bell, M (1966-1979)

Fun facts:

Oldest player to play in the Premier League played on Man City, John Burridge (43 years, 4 months, and 26 days)

Only team to be relegated with a positive goal difference (1938)

Joe Mercer is their most decorated manager

Manchester United (The Red Devils)

Overview: Manchester United, the winningest English team of all time, was founded in Manchester in 1878 and originally called the Newton Heath LYR Football Club. They changed their name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to their current stadium in 1910. They have won a record 20 League Titles, a joint record of 12 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, and a record 21 FA Community Shields. They have also won 3 European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup Winner’ Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. Alex Ferguson won 38 trophies with them between 1986-2013. United was the highest earning club in 2016 as well as the 3rd most valuable team. They have one of the biggest fan bases in the world and are sometimes described as a brand rather than a team. Their biggest rivalries are Arsenal, Leeds United, Liverpool, and Manchester City.

Stadium: Old Trafford

Notable players:

Wayne Rooney, F (Current)

Christiano Ronaldo, M (2003-2009)

Peter Schmeichel, GK (1991-1999)

Rio Ferdinand, D (2002-2014)

Bobby Charlton, F (1956-1973)

Ryan Giggs, M (1990-2014)

George Best, M (1963-1974)

Paul Scholes, M (1992-2013)

Denis Law, F (1962-1973)

Eric Cantona, F (1992-1997)

Ruud van Nistelrooy, F (2001-2006)

Fun facts:

First team in English football to win the Treble, the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League

They were the first English team to win the European Cup

Manchester United is on top of the all-time Premier League table by 250 points


Tony Derosby ’80 on Trump’s immigration ban

Students attend the immigration information program. JOSHUA KUCKENS/BATES COLLEGE

Students attend the immigration information program.

On Friday January 27, Donald Trump signed a “blanket ban” on all people coming from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan, whether or not they hold valid visas. He issued this executive order on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day that remembers a time when Jews were not allowed asylum in the United States and elsewhere due to their religion.

Tony Derosby ‘80 came to Bates College Thursday night to take questions on and cover what the executive order means. Derosby is an attorney at Pierce Atwood LLP who specializes in immigration law and represents companies whose employees are affected by the ban. He was later invited to talk at Bates College addressing the implications of the order. His talk covered the details of the order, the questions left after it, court actions since then, and where the executive order is headed.

Derosby first summarized what the executive order means. There is now a 90 day ban on entry to the United States for all nationals of the seven identified countries and immediate suspension of the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. There is indefinite suspension on processing and admission of any Syrian refugees as well as indefinite suspension on the Visa Interview Waiver program.

The banned countries list is likely to expand. Under the order, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has 30 days to submit a report to the president identifying a list of countries that do not provide sufficient information to verify identity and to make a threat assessment. The countries will then be given 60 days to provide information, and if they do not, they will be added to the banned country list until such time as they come into compliance.

Where did the list of banned countries come from? The executive order does not explicitly list the seven countries; rather, it refers to a 2015 federal statute enacted under the Obama administration. Derosby clarified, “In 2015 an amendment was added…that made ineligible for the Visa Interview Waiver Program anyone who had been a national of one of the seven countries or who had visited one of the seven countries after March 1, 2011. So for those people, if you had ever held citizenship…and are eligible for a visa interview waiver, you would have to be subject to an in-person interview at a consulate abroad”.

The executive order targets Syrian refugees. Refugees are individuals outside the United States requesting a visa to travel here under the Refugee Program. Derosby stated, “In order to establish eligibility, they have to show a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group”. The executive order halts the refugee program for 120 days and reduces the country’s refugee quota from 110,000 to 50,000, the lowest number in over a decade.

Trump bypassed the traditional inter-agency process that would have allowed Congress and Homeland Security to provide operational guidance. According to Derosby, “Multiple sources reported that the United States Customs and Border Protections (CBP), which is the agency responsible for doing traveller inspections at any port of entry… didn’t see the final version of the EO until after it was signed. So this entire federal agency learned about the order the same way I did.”

On Tuesday, the State Department issued an emergency internal directive cancelling all visas for nationals of the affected countries. Derosby explained, “If you are outside the state…the visa which would be your travel document…is no longer valid…The State Department directive was not communicated to individual visa holders. So you could easily try to board a flight and learn about the order that way”.

This brings up the issue of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). LPRs reside in the United States under a green card status and pay taxes. In the first two days after the executive order, LPRs were detained. Derosby said that upon detention, “they [were] told that they are going be deported, which is a bar on entry of up to ten years, or they can elect to surrender their status voluntarily…and depart…And people did that”. CBP later said in a press release that LPRs are allowed admission. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve never seen CBP issue an internal policy directive in a press release. But that’s how this was handled”, said Derosby.

There have been many court acts against the order based on due process to equal protection grounds and on various other statutory grounds. As Derosby put it, “What’s going on in those cases is that plaintiffs who are adversely affected… can go to a federal court and can ask for something called a temporary restraining order, also known as injunctive relief”. The plaintiffs must prove there is an imminent danger that unless the court states enforcement, they will suffer irreparable harm and injury. In essence, the plaintiff has to prove the negative impact on themselves outweighs the threat to national security.

“So far it appears that CBP has demonstrated intent to comply with federal orders”, said Derosby. “One of the things that I’ve been very nervous about is…what happens when a federal court issues an order striking down part or all of the executive order? Will the administration honor the federal court order? Courts don’t have armies, they don’t have police. Our Constitution works because the branches respect each other”.

Derosby ended with his prediction for the country’s future: “This executive order is resulting in some of the earliest, the earliest, judicial tests of executive action with this administration. And so far CBP has avowed an intention to comply…I think there is a good chance that there will be a federal court decision soon which will stay all or part of the order indefinitely”.


Men’s, women’s squash perform well in NESCAC championships

The Bates men’s and women’s squash teams competed in the NESCAC Tournament this past weekend. Both team’s performances showed why Bates continues to be considered one of the elite squash programs in the country.

The action at the Davenport Squash Courts in Amherst, Massachusetts began on Saturday morning. In the quarterfinals, the no. 16 ranked Men’s team beat no. 26 ranked Bowdoin 9-0. This shutout score means that each of the nine Bobcat starters defeated their Bowdoin counterparts; only one of these matches went longer than three games. That is what you call domination!

Reeling off of their convincing victory, the men faced No. 17 Williams later on Saturday. This match would feature a little more competition, but the Bobcats still won handily. The men only took losses at the five and eight positions, cruising to a 7-2 decision and extending their win streak to 10 matches.

Meanwhile, the no. 15 ranked women’s team began their NESCAC tournament by beating no. 18 Amherst 7-2 in the quarterfinals. Especially impressive were Charlotte Cabot ‘17 and Katie Bull ‘19 who both finished off their opponents in three straight games.

They next faced up against the team that no one wants to see on their schedule, the Trinity Bantams of Hartford, CT. In both men’s and women’s squash, Trinity is a perennial powerhouse. The Bantams have won the NESCAC tournament every year it has existed. In fact, ESPN recently ranked Trinity squash as one of the top 10 sports dynasties of all time. Bates men’s and women’s Coach Pat Cosquer ‘97 attributed Trinity’s preeminence to institutional factors. “The school and the admissions department have really decided to focus on squash, so they bring in players who have professional experience.” He said. The women’s team fought hard against the tough opponent, but eventually fell 9-0 to Trinity.

By Saturday evening, the stage was set for a rematch of last year’s men’s NESCAC championship final between Bates and Trinity, scheduled to take place Sunday at 3. The Bobcats put up a good fight against no. 2 ranked Trinity, but were not able to get over the hump. The Bantams would eventually win the match 8-1. Nevertheless, it was a great second place finish for the Bobcats. The team was paced by superstar Ahmed Hatata ‘17, who secured the lone Bates win at the no. 1 spot. Hatata is known as a Trinity killer, because he has beaten Bantam opponents in each of the last three NESCAC tournaments; which is not an easy feat against such great talent, and is a testament to Hatata’s playing ability.

The women competed in the third place game on Sunday against Middlebury. Back in January, Bates lost to Middlebury in a close match that came down to the wire, and they hadn’t beaten the Panthers since the 2012-13 season. “One of the motivations for the women to win was to get revenge against Middlebury,” said Cosquer Monday afternoon. “They were one of the three teams that had beaten us earlier in the year and that give us the extra edge.”

And revenge is exactly what Bates got. With the two teams deadlocked at 4-4, Vicky Arjoon ‘17 and her opponent found themselves tied at two games a piece in their own match. Essentially, this meant that whoever won the 5th and final game would both win the match for herself and her team. “It was very dramatic and intense, like a sudden death goal in soccer or an overtime touchdown in football,” Coach Cosquer explained about the final match. “Every single person in the facility, parents, kids, coaches, were watching as Vicky performed.” Although this was Arjoon’s first time in a situation like this, she proved to have ice in her veins, winning the game 11-7.

The Bates squash teams will both compete in the National Championships next.


Exit the King delivers a thought provoking performance

I am given a program and enter the Black Box Theater, which is smaller than I imagined, but indeed a “black box.” Its walls are painted with a thick, inky gloss. The lights – cannon shaped – radiate heat and light unto the set of the play – three thrones – assorted other chairs. Light also falls onto a standing guard, Samuel Findlen-Golden ’20, who is looking around with these wide startling eyes and holding a spear, but the head is actually a cake knife. It is all very disorienting. I just want to sit down. I do.

I notice the set, which is very impressive and interesting and presents an atmosphere of decay, a central theme of the play. Who designed it? Oh, her name is Flannery. O’Connor. No, you dunce, read the page: Black-Ingersoll. Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19. Beautiful set design Flannery. Bravo. I love those mirror shards, the sweep of red velvet across the back wall, the white sheer creeping the way of the audience, which is small but attentive. Beside me are my friends who are giggling and red. I am giggling too now.

Some sort of operatic piece has been playing for some minutes now and I am only hearing it now, a soprano’s tame and trembling howl. Listen to that vibrato, muchacho. Incredible. It is cutting out now, the lights are beginning to dim, and the soldier stands in the receding light, wild eyes catching what is left of the departing atmosphere. The curtain rises. There is no curtain. The show begins? It is always hard to tell when life ends and art begins.

The guard is suddenly yelling. That is something that sort of continues, the yelling. The actors and actresses all yell with such irreverence, with intent to disorient and confuse. It is very psychological. It is kind of silly. All of the actors enter, the play begins. It is director Charlotte Cramer ’19, watching from a corner, observing her work.

Exit The King is silly and horrific and simultaneously melodramatic and bleak. It falls within the Theater of the Absurd. The script rhymes and reasons with itself solely and not the audience’s expectations. It is very funny, but always very startling. It is incredibly well written.

Similar to the yelling, there is a lot of rather visceral noise and touch. I recall Queen Marie, played by Claire Sullivan ’18, slapping an electrical box in a way that actually frightened me. Things similar to that.

Somebody is laughing at every joke made (there are lots of jokes made) and I am starting to wonder if she were planted in the audience by the director, as a sort of pro-laughter agitator. She is laughing with such heavy pronunciation, like a gun salute: huh-huh-huh. I am laughing too now. I do not think at her; I would like to imagine I was not so cruel.

The end is sad and stares you in your frightened sockets. It is genuine, stare-into-the-abyss sort of terror. You would think that we, as an age group, a young generation, would not be able to so acutely portray that sort of horror but the Robinson Players do so, wonderfully. Much of that capability, rested on Michael Driscal ’19, the rambling, dying king, who provided so much of the confusion and fear of the play. Other notables: Julia Gutterman ’20, who delivered her lines and character with a lovely deadpan and Justin Demers ’18, who portrayed the Doctor and did so with wit. Bravo.

The play ends. I am happy to have been there.


Come relax, recharge, and jam out at Nezinscot Farm

In case the fact has escaped you, we go to school in Lewiston, Maine. Our little town is not exactly the most hustling-bustling place there ever was. But if you know where to look, there are a plethora of activities to keep you occupied on a chilly Saturday night. If ever you feel suffocated by the Bates Bubble, find a friend with a car and head over to Nezinscot Farm for Fiberjam.

Located just up the road in Turner, Maine, you can normally find Batesies at the farmhouse store for brunch during the warmer months of the year. But, what many do not know is that every other Saturday night the farm hosts a potluck dinner and a bluegrass jam session.

For just ten bucks, you can indulge in homemade pizzas, baked beans, pulled pork, and fresh organic salad with dressing made of a secret recipe that is out of this world. Sitting at long tables, I ate with the friends with whom I came to the farm, and others who needed to fill the empty seats. Among the people I met were Forest – who is indeed a forester – and Roberta the ecologist. Over dinner, we talked about everything from present political situations and sustainable farming to the secret in that delicious salad dressing.

Sarah Sachs ’18 noted, “the atmosphere made for the perfect relaxed Saturday night. The food was amazing and the community was incredibly welcoming.”

But the fun did not end after the last bite was eaten; after dinner everyone was invited upstairs to the Fiber Studio to listen or participate in the jamming session. Chairs placed in a circle among the hand-dyed yarns provided a cozy atmosphere that could not be beat. Taking seats in the back of the circle, my friends and I took time to take in the scene before us. In the musicians’ circle there were guitars of all shapes and sizes, ukuleles, a blue fiddle, a trombone, a banjo and a homemade Bronze Age era dord.

We thought that for the rest of the evening we would be sitting around listening to all the great tunes coming out of the circle. However, we soon found out that the price of admission was more than just the ten bucks we paid at the door. Going around the circle from person to person, the leader of the session, Roberta the ecologist, called on each of the non-musicians in the crowd to throw out a song they wanted to hear. Participants could either sing their own piece, or request a song and quietly listen to the performance.

Danielle Fournier ’18 remarked “I instantly felt at home, the group tossed some lyrics at me and insisted that I join in.” A feeling of community is something we understand at Bates, and finding it outside the four streets of campus is a welcome surprise.

As one would expect, the music at a farmhouse get together is of the bluegrass variety. I will be straight with you: I am not really a bluegrass aficionado, but that did not preclude me from enjoying the songs being played. Going around in the circle, each person got his or her turn to share a song of the evening. There were performances of John Anderson’s classic “Seminole Wind,” many Woody Guthrie tunes and of course Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel.” No event of this ilk would be complete without that last one.

During the week at school, our lives are filled with class, homework, club meetings, and spending way too much time in the library. Taking the time on the weekend to decompress makes for a more productive week. As Bria Riggs ’18 states, “Nezinscot is a home away from home. A place to feel cozy, relaxed, and clear minded.” What better place is there to recharge for the week to come?

Fiberjam 2Fiberjam 2

Tom Brady and human trafficking

I suppose that it is worth noting that football history was made on Sunday night, with a certain comeback led by a certain “amazing” quarterback. There was cheering, crying, indulging, and “I’m skipping work tomorrow’s” heard all over the country. Multiple friends of mine called their families after the game ended to congratulate each other. But as the high from the Pats’ comeback on Sunday night fades to a subtle tinge of triumph, it needs to be said that the national event on Sunday comes with an intense flood of human trafficking.

According to reports, there were around 114 million viewers of the game, almost four times as many as the alleged 30 million who viewed Trump’s inaugural ceremony. Disregarding the reported all-time low viewership for Trump’s inauguration, that means in a certain sense that the 50th Super Bowl has received the most attention of any event in 2017. While it is only February and Trump’s regime has much more havoc to wreak, and Hollywood has much more movies to produce, in terms of the power in viewership (this generation’s form of interaction) the Super Bowl is an extremely powerful event.

Regardless of quantified viewership and unquantifiable emotion poured into the event, I have to wonder the connection why this event has been identified as the largest human trafficking event as well. What about the Super Bowl’s branding, Lady Gaga’s headline, patriotic Bud Lite commercials, draws such an obscene amount of human trafficking compared to other events?

The Super Bowl is one of the most “American” events celebrated nationally; it is a bastion of advertising, ridiculously athletic and physically charged entertainment, crappy alcohol and processed hot dogs, championed by a team geographically rooted in the American Revolution, or the foundation of today’s capitalist-centric, white-centric United States.

What I am asking here is to consider the connection between the human trafficking of women of all ages and the celebration of Tom Brady, the celebration of the Patriots, the celebration of hot dogs and beer, the celebration of white male victory in the United States. These traditions are nothing new to the foundation of the United States, so does the celebration of white masculinity coincide with human trafficking? Is it being exploited by technology, the seductive commercials in between plays, the repeated images of athletic men tackling each other in tight pants?

I am not arguing that the atrocity of human trafficking is inextricably linked to white male victory in the United States, because of course it is more complicated than that. But how intense is the connection of Tom Brady’s branded heroism to the sexual exploitation of young women?

What it means to perform at KCACTF

From January 31th to February 4th, Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) hosted the Northeast Regional of The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). Through the course of the week, select Bates students had the chance to showcase their work and participate in workshops designed to improve American collegiate theater. The Festival offered a multitude of theater programs from journalism to playwriting. The Festival was started in 1969 and now reaches over 600 colleges nationwide annually. The program brings together students from around 50 colleges and universities to exchange experiences and learn more about theater.

Since its founding (by Roger L. Stevens), KCACTF has affected over 400,000 college theater students, creating around 10,000 with over 16 million spectators in total. Even though the numbers are certainly impressive, the Festival’s impact goes much deeper than numbers. KCACTF was designed to promote creative exchange, critique, and networking among college students in a unique chance to showcase works and develop new ideas. The week of events was organized as a competition, along with workshops and lectures on all theatric areas. John Dello Russo ’18 was one of the Batesies who had the opportunity to experience the Festival first-hand. According to him, the conference “was a great opportunity to compete against and be around others who shared that same passion.”

Dello Russo and Nora Dahlberg ’18 partnered to create two short scenes and one monologue. It was not an easy journey! In interview with Dello Russo, he mentioned that the Festival participation was full of challenges. “The hardest part was trying to provide the judges with something they would want to see without doing the same thing that everyone else would do.” Even though they had to compete at 8:00 a.m. after a long night of driving to get to WCSU, Dello Russo was very positive about the outcomes. “As a science major it was great to be able to experience and be immersed in the arts for a week to expand my horizons and think in a different way.”

KCACTF had much more than just acting. The Festival had opportunities for playwrights, directors, undergraduate scholars, art administrators, art journalists, critics, and others. Some of the areas, such as the “scholarly papers” section, awarded cash for winning submissions.

There was an impressive diversity of categories. “One thing that surprised me was the many different people that were there. I feel as though many people have a particular vision of theater kids in their mind, but to meet so many other students who came from different walks of life was refreshing,” Dello Russo mentioned. The event mobilized an entire structure and engaged students from the most diverse backgrounds to promote the development of college theater. According to the WCSU website, the 2015 version of the Festival was expected to bring as much as $1.5 million in total benefits to the surrounding community.

The Kennedy Center for American College Theater Festival had much to offer. A quick look at the Kennedy Center’s website shows that there is an entire task force associated with the event – there are multiple support structures, partner institutions, media professionals, lecturers, and administrators that make the event possible. Events like this come to show that theater is alive, and has an enormous presence and potential in American colleges and universities today.


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