The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: March 2018 Page 2 of 8

Taking Risks with Online Privacy

Is there such a thing as smart social media use? A method for utilizing online resources without compromising one’s personal information? In 2018, it seems that the best way to assure privacy is to opt out from social media and internet use altogether. On March 21, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook to address the political data firm Cambridge Analytica’s “alleged misuse of 50 million Facebook users’ data,” according to WIRED. Zuckerberg’s account of the situation reflects that the scandal stretches all the way back to 2013, when Cambridge University researcher and scientist named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app.

According to Zuckerberg, he and others at Facebook learned in 2015 that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg writes in his post that “It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data.” He then shares that in the week prior to his post, Facebook learned from The Guardian, The New York Times, and Channel 4 “that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified.”

Cambridge Analytica is not just any political data firm. According to WIRED, it was also “a vendor to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.” The company has offices in London, D.C., and New York, and its stated functions as a privately held LLC are, briefly, according to Wikipedia, to combine data mining, “data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process.” It was founded specifically to participate in American politics, as an offshoot of its British parent group, SCL.

According to Wikipedia, the family of Robert Mercer, “an American hedge-fund manager who supports many politically conservative causes” and investor in Breitbart News, partly owns the company. An article on Politico reports that Cambridge Analytica worked on Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign as well. “Many companies compete in the market for political microtargeting, using huge data sets and sophisticated software to identify and persuade voters,” according to an article in The New York Times. This article goes on to discuss Cambridge Analytica’s claims to have developed “‘psychographic’ profiles that could predict the personality and hidden political leanings of every American adult.”

Could Zuckerberg be involved with facilitating data leaks to these external companies? Privacy advocates and Trump critics, according to this New York Times article, seem to think so. They warn of “a blizzard of high-tech, Facebook-optimized propaganda aimed at the American public, controlled by the people behind the alt-right hub Breitbart News.”

Contrary to Zuckerberg’s statement, Aleksandr Kogan stated in a CNN Tech article that he believes that Facebook is using him as a scapegoat for the scandal. “Using users’ data for profit is their [Facebook’s] business model,” he claimed. He does not believe that he violated Facebook policy. Kogan did, however, reveal that he was working with Cambridge Analytica. These combined statements from Zuckerberg and Kogan, as well as the political affiliations in this data management, say a great deal about the security of personal information in the present. There are few ways, apart from going as far as encryption, to ascertain the security and privacy of personal information in the present day.

 

Swimming and Diving Program Records Historic Achievements at NCAAs

This past weekend, members of the Bates swimming and diving team competed in Indianapolis at the Division III NCAA National Championships. Both the men’s and women’s teams had great performances by the athletes in attendance. There were a total of eleven swimmers that were selected to compete: six women and five men. From the women’s team: Caroline Apathy ’21, Janika Ho ’20 (her second NCAA’s), Monica Sears ’20 (her second), Lucy Faust ’19 (her second), Hope Logan ’18 (her second), and Logan McGill ’18 (her fourth). For the men: Tanner Fuller ’20 (his first NCAAs), Alex Bedard ’19 (his first), Jonathan Depew ’18 (his second), Teddy Pender ’18 (his third), and Riley Ewing ’18 (his fourth).

For the women’s team, they finished with 76 points, 12th place out of 51 teams. The most notable event was the 400-yard freestyle relay. This team consisted of McGill, Apathy, Sears, and Ho. The squad was able to secure a slot in the eight-team field for the final by inching out Wesleyan in the trial, swimming at 3:26:88 and winning by .37 seconds. Then, in the final itself, the relay team came in sixth place with a time of 3:26:39. This finish established a new program record for the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Other notable performances from the women’s team came from Sears and Apathy. Sears finished in 27th place with a time of 17:40:93 in the 1,650-yard freestyle, while Apathy raced in the 100-yard freestyle, coming in 38th with a time of 52:61. Perhaps most notable are the accomplishments of McGill. For her role on the women’s relay team mentioned above, she earned All-America honors for the 13th time in her Bates career, the second-most in team history and the third-most of all Bates athletes. Overall, the women’s team has now finished in the top-13 in points for three consecutive years.

There were also impressive feats performed by the men’s team, as they completed their best finish in the team’s history, scoring 48 points to secure 14th place out of the 53 teams. Fuller, Depew, Bedard, and Pender competed together in the 400-yard freestyle relay, breaking two team records. On this success, Pender says, “I’ve learnt that NCAAs is an experience to be shared with your teammates. Not only knowing that I’ve got four guys cheering for me on poolside, but also 20 more back home watching is what makes it low stress and much easier to perform at our best.” Bedard also competed in the 200-yard breaststroke, placing 24th with 2:04:78.

Notable career performances for the men came from Pender, Ewing, and Depew. Depew finishes his Bates career with five All-America honors, while Ewing secured seven. Pender, over the course of his time at Bates, finishes with eleven, setting a new record among Bates male athletes. On NCAAs in general, he says, “This year’s NCAAs was the highlight of my swimming career. It’s always so much fun to participate with my teammates at the highest level in our sport.” Now that these seniors’ careers have come to an end, Pender says, “Our careers as athletes who score points for the college might be over, but our job supporting, cheering, and helping the team in the future starts now, and I know we’re all excited to see the program continue to go from strength to strength.”

 

Mt. David Summit Showcases Student Work

Each spring, Bates students are given the opportunity to share their unique research projects with the rest of the Bates community at the Mount David Summit. This past Friday, March 23, Pettengill Hall was buzzing with academic energy as students presented their research projects in the atrium and more formal presentations in the classrooms below.

Beyond being a celebration of the impressive and important work that Bates students are doing, Mount David gives students a chance to interact with the research of their peers. Haoyu Sun ’19, who presented on the epigenetics of memory in her project, “Drug Discovery Research: TET1 Enzyme Inhibitor” in the atrium on Friday afternoon, enjoyed learning about the research her peers had been working on during the school year. “It allows us, different students working in the same lab, to communicate with each other. This is a really awesome opportunity because everyone is very busy, we get to get together and see what’s going on for each other.”

Raegine A. Clouden Mallett ’18 shared a similar sentiment. Clouden Mallett’s project, “Translational Efficiency of flaB from Borrelia burgdorferi: Effects of Change in Secondary Structure of mRNA Leader Region,” focused on Lyme Disease. Clouden Mallet explained that, in putting together her project for Mount David, she appreciated the opportunity to prepare and experience presenting her own research. “If I want to further my career as a researcher, as a scientist, I want to be able to present research.” In presenting on Lyme Disease specifically, she learned how prevalent the disease really is, even in the Bates Community. Lyme Disease is “a big thing for a lot of the students here at Bates.” Most students “know someone with it.” Clouden Mallet enjoyed doing research that felt personal to her own community. “It was cool in that aspect that I’m doing research to help further the understanding of it.”

Both Allison Greene ’20 and Hope French ’18 were excited to explain their experiences in their formal presentations on behalf of the Bates Theatre Departments. Greene, who assistant directed Bates Theatre Department’s production of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, was “excited to share” her unique experience working backstage in the production through her presentation, “Assistant Directing and Dramaturgy for Angels in America.” In being given the opportunity to present, Greene was grateful to hear what the audience thought of her presentation and “share more about the theatre world.”

Similarly, French wanted to “invite the audience into [the theatre] world,” in presenting her work, “Portraying Harper Pitt in Angels in America: A Process” at Mount David.

Beyond presentations centered on STEM research and projects from the Bates Theatre Department, this year featured a multitude of diverse work from the Bates community. Presentations from many varied majors were featured, including work from the music, politics, classical and medieval studies, and European studies departments. And after experiencing only a fraction of the presentations on Friday, I found that the magic of the Mount David Summit is based in its academic diversity.

While each Bates student has their own passions and academic pursuits, the community is granted the opportunity to join together and experience each other’s work during the Mount David Summit. Clouden Mallett truly encapsulated the spirit of Mount David when she remarked that, due to “the friendly faces of Bates students and Bates faculty and staff,” there was “only good energy,” in the Pettengill Atrium on Friday. Regardless of the prior knowledge on subjects of projects by presenters, “people are genuinely interested in hearing what [presenters] have to say.”

Understanding Marlon Bundo

On March 19, Charlotte Pence, daughter of Vice President Mike Pence, released a children’s book she wrote, and her mother illustrated entitled Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President. The book outlines a day in the life of the Pence Family rabbit who is cleverly named Marlon Bundo. In the book, Bundo follows Vice President Pence to his daily meetings and the children’s book even includes a moment where Bundo contemplates the significance of a Bible verse. The Pence family set dates for a book tour for their picture book, which was published by Regnery Publishing, and pledged some of the proceeds to A21, a charity that works to combat human trafficking, and Tracey’s Kids, a charity that provides art therapy for pediatric cancer patients.

The politics of Vice President Pence have been a target for many comedians and civilians alike, however one outlandish Brit, John Oliver, has taken the cake and written his own book entitled A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. In Oliver’s version of the book, Marlon Bundo is gay and falls in love with a male bunny named Wesley. A direct criticism of Pence’s anti-LGBTQ+ political stances, John Oliver has also pledged to donate all proceeds from his now New York Times bestseller to The Trevor Project, a charity that works to prevent suicide amongst LGBTQ+ youth, and AIDS United. As of March 23, Oliver’s satirical version is out-ranking former FBI director James Comey’s memoir and Charlotte Pence even purchased her own version saying she could get behind the book because Oliver is giving the proceeds to charity. The Second Family’s publisher did not feel the same way, saying in a statement, “It’s unfortunate that anyone would feel the need to ridicule an educational children’s book and turn it into something controversial and partisan.”

Oliver is known for promoting stunts like these amongst his fanbase through things such as creating a fake mega church or remaking a music video of “A Man like Putin.” While a satire, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo has a few very important sociopolitical points to make. It plays to Pence’s fears of the LGBTQ+ community, but also serves as a platform for encouraging discussion regarding queer sexuality with children through the book’s unique love story. Although I understand the desire of Regnery Publishing to ensure their book is profitable, issues like these should not be partisan. Oliver’s decision to write his book is a power afforded to him by the Constitution, and the publisher identifies themselves as “The Leader in Conservative Books.”

Using comedy as a coping mechanism has been a longstanding and worthwhile tradition. The popularity and following that shows such as Oliver’s Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and the resurgence of Saturday Night Live viewership following Trump’s election, reinforce this idea that, in order to digest tough facts and gut-wrenching stories, it is oftentimes easier to receive those stories in a manner that allows for understanding and humor. Not only do these shows provide comfort for their viewers, they also play an important role in critiquing the actions of politicians and garnering public support for holding public officials accountable. Show hosts like Oliver and Noah can use their influence for the betterment of society by vocalizing issues present in society and mobilizing viewers that agree with them to take action and demand change.

 

Bates Launches Digital Computational Studies

On Wednesday March 21, 2018, Professor Matthew C. Jadud delivered his inaugural lecture, “It Begins with a Step” to celebrate the generous donation and contribution the Colony family has given towards founding the Bates Digital Computational Studies Program (DCS). Jadud has been inaugurated as the Colony Family Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies and currently serves as the chair of the department.

“The story of the Colony family and DCS at Bates is a story about the transformative power of philanthropy” began Clayton Spencer in welcoming the attendees, “the magic that happens when a visionary, and incredibly generous family of donors decide to get behind a project that is crucial to the future of a college, in this case our wonderful college.”

The Colony family has been no stranger to Bates over the last two decades. Ann and George Colony have three sons, two of whom have graduated Bates, William ‘12 and Charles ‘17. They also have a niece Zola Porter Brown ‘93 and nephew Joel W. Colony ‘06 who attended Bates as well. George Colony is the founder and CEO of Forrester, one of the most influential business and advisory firms in the world.

“The first thing you should know is that George Colony was not a passive investor in DCS,” said Spencer. Early on in her tenure at Bates, she paid a visit to Forrester to talk to Colony.

“So early in the conversation I managed to blurt out that Bates does not teach computer science,” continued Spencer. “Now it was my impression at the time that this came as news to George, who seemed to be quickly rethinking whether his son Charlie had made a good decision.” Colony then turned to Spencer and asked some questions about Bates’ plans for DCS. As Spencer recalled, “The most vivid of which were these, ‘Are you thinking of making a straight computer science program? Or are you going to take on the question of how Digital and Computational methods are infusing with a wide variety of fields?’”

Years after Spencer’s initial meeting with George Colony, Bates has lead an initiative to create a DCS program focused on inclusivity and the liberal arts values.

During his speech, Jadud listed some of the exciting accomplishments students have done for the DCS classes offered.“The students have been engaging with virtual reality, creation of interfaces for dance and music, the students have stepped up to engage in summer research…and we’ve been working at the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation area engaging with various environmental questions in terms of sensing and drone imaging. So it’s just been an incredible group of students to dive in with.”

Before Bates, Jadud taught several interdisciplinary courses including “Storytelling through Computer Animation,” “Building Better Apps,” “Entrepreneurship and Hardware Design.” At Bates, he currently teaches “Design of Computational Systems” and “Nature of Data, Data of Nature.” During his time here he has also worked in collaboration with the Dance Department.
“I had the great pleasure of working with Bill Matthews and Rachel Boggia and what we had the opportunity to do through the inspiration of Shony [Shoshana] Currier—the new director of the Bates Dance Festival—she asked us if there a way to bring artists whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with, who do some really incredible work around integrating data and code and technology into performance and the creation of digital music? Can we bring that to our students?’ And we said, ‘Sounds crazy. Let’s do it!’”

His students came together to meet the challenge and were successful in doing the hardware and the programming necessary for making sensor on the bodies of dancers that transmitted the data to musical composition systems, which created digital music as the dancer danced.

However, Jadud has bigger plans when it comes to integrating DCS into the broader liberal arts context. During the “What If?” portion of his talk, he asked several questions that indicated his future intentions for the program. He first asked, “What if we don’t have a major? What if we have a minor in DCS?” Indeed, Jadud hopes that in keeping DCS a minor, students will have the tools to engage with technology in other fields.

“What if Art and English say ‘It would be really cool to work with DCS and develop a major in the Digital Humanities.’ We can draw from courses we already offer, and we can think about new courses that we can develop in collaboration with DCS to anchor that and give a name to computation embedded in the humanities,” said Jadud.

Thinking About Ableist Rhetoric in Activist Circles

“Crazy” has become a part of common parlance. Many invoke the term to indicate that something lacks an apparent explanation. This understanding is rooted in ableist discourse. Distinguishing disability and impairment can help clarify why this is the case. Impairment refers to a material trait or characteristic. Disability describes the socially constructed expectations of value sets and spaces that confer privileges onto able-bodied people. Ableism confers privileges based upon a set of assumed expectations about embodied habitation of the world. Able-bodied privilege, like white privilege, relies on the repeated recreation of characteristics made both invisible and naturalized.

“Crazy” finds deep roots in discourses of ableism that stretch far into the past. These discourses have created an ever-shifting notion of what constitutes a normative, and thus privileged, mindset. Within the United States, one does not have to investigate far to find institutionalized marginalization of people pathologized as “crazy” or “insane” through imprisonment, so-called shock therapy, and other forms of abuse. “Craziness” and “insanity” intersect sexist, homophobic, and racist ideas, albeit are not limited to them.

Unfortunately, various activists invoke “crazy” and other synonymous ableist slurs within their causes. In the context of gun death, violence, and accidents, many anti-gun control and other conservative voices invoke an abstract mental health of those who commit mass gun death, especially when they are white. Many think pieces, such as “Stop Blaming Mental Illness for Mass Shootings” on Vox, explain and source why people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Similarly, it is fairly easy to observe that vocal pundits scapegoat American society’s poor handling of mental health as a justification for why gun control should not be enacted; a narrative never invoked when discussing extrajudicial violence aimed at black men. While many activists note this failure of institutional discourse, fewer contend with how many advocates describe the static rate of gun death and mass shootings as “insane” or “crazy.” When people use these words, they attempt to describe moments of violence they find incomprehensible. This choice of words locates people with mental illness as essentially not understandable or uncontrollable, through the ways that metaphor creates a bidirectional relationship of pseudo-equivalency. Using these words entrenches people with mental health illnesses as the Other. Doing so also obfuscates actually critiquing the forces that lead to the seeming perpetuality of mass shootings and gun death.

Even though I describe ableism in particular relationship to mental health, it oppresses a much broader set of disabled identities. Saying someone “has been blinded by their privilege” is a trope that had been foisted upon me as defining of the campus left discourse at small liberal arts colleges. Though I do not remember ever hearing this phrase specifically, I hear “blind” being used as a synonym for unawareness. There are many ways to gain knowledge about the world, and blind is not synonymous with unawareness. This phrase is not random either. The preference of visual senses over all others is known as ocular-centricity. Not all cultures and people have this inclination.

Suffice it to say, unlearning ableist discourse is thoroughly integral to any type of advocacy for an equitable future.

 

Men’s Lacrosse Nabs First NESCAC Win of 2018 Season

After narrow losses in the first two NESCAC matchups this season, Bates men’s lacrosse headed into Saturday afternoon’s game against Trinity eager to pull out a win. Although sub-zero conditions deterred a large crowd, the team exploded onto the field ready to fight.

The Trinity College Bantams were the first on the board, but the ’Cats quickly responded and took the lead with three goals in the first quarter; two of which were scored by Matt Chlastawa ’20, who finished the game with a season high five goals. The points in this game also brought Chlastawa up to the top of the NESCAC standings in points, tying for first at 30.

The only goal of the second quarter came from an assist from Chlastawa, who ferried a ground ball to fellow sophomore Curtis Knapton ’20, who put one more on the board from eight yards out. The second quarter came to a close with the ’Cats up four to one against the Bantams. Bates came into the third even stronger, bringing it to 5-1 within the first thirteen seconds with a goal scored by Jack O’Brien ’18.

Rob Strain ’20 recorded 11 saves throughout the game, but let two slip in in the last few minutes of the quarter. However, with another four goals in hand, scored by Chlastawa , Dahnique Brown-Jones ’19, Clarke Jones ’18, and Breschi ’18, Bates finished out the third at 8-3. The Bantams fought hard, putting another four goals on the board. Despite the Bantams’ aggressive offense, the Bobcats scored another six goals in the fourth, three of which came in the first minute of play. At the end of the game, Jones netted a hat trick, and star of the game Chlastawa popped in two more to bring his tally up to five.

“This year has been so much fun. We have so many new guys contributing, that every practice and game has tremendous energy,” said Chlastawa when asked about this year’s squad. “I love my team and the coaching staff. We are extremely excited for the four-game home stretch we have for the next couple of weeks. It’s always nice seeing and hearing family and friends in the stands.”

That young talent has proved to be key for Bates, with first-year Will Haskell ’21 quickly making his mark as a defensive force, racking up two ground balls and a game high three turnovers.

“The whole team has been putting in a lot of work this whole year, and it feels good when it shows in a game like today’s against Trinity,” says Haskell.

Although there is plenty of young talent on this year’s squad, there certainly isn’t a lack of talent or leadership from the upperclassmen. Senior captains Burke Smith ’18 and Jones  are consistent scorers, fierce leaders, and hold their team to a high standard on and off the field.

“The leaders on this team have emphasized from day one that this group works for each other and is a family,” says Peyton Weatherbie ’21. “From the start, every 6:00 a.m. conditioning class, every practice, every game we have played together and for each other. That is what drives us to succeed, and it shows in games like [Saturday’s].”

The men’s lacrosse team will take on Keene State at home on Tuesday, March 20.

Pau Faus Brings Humanity to Spanish Political Figures in Film “Alcaldessa”

I am a 1997 kid and I grew up in a Spain of economic decadence, a straight-up (note the irony) down-hill Spain. The new millennium approached and within less than a decade, apartments went from somewhat affordable prices to price tags that nobody could handle. Banks gave out a lot of money and messed up a lot of people, particularly hard-working, middle-class folks. I still remember the year my sister moved to Madrid and she paid 1,000 Euros in rent for a 30 square meters (322 ft.) apartment. Having a teacher salary of 1,600 euros/month for a tiny apartment and using more than half of it to pay rent had become the norm in the big city. This was 2004.

Discomfort grew and we transitioned from a right-wing government to a left-wing government when I was six. I still remember the moment when socialists won the election in 2004, and my dad increased his involvement in the party. I also remember the day when he had to close his small construction company, which he had worked his way up to owning after years of being a construction worker himself. There were too many buildings, and no one to live in them. Hundreds of construction companies around the country shut down, hundreds of people were out of luck. This was 2008.

Ada Colau, Faus’ film star, had a lot more schooling than my father. Nevertheless, the two of them have something in common and that had to do with money. They were both affected by a collapsing burbuja inmobiliaria (real estate bubble in English). Whatever side of the bubble they had been in, both companies and customers alike weren’t happy. Fast-forward, mass evictions became a norm and Ada Colau, current mayor of Barcelona, became one of the leaders for the social movement emerging from such evictions– the PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, or People Affected by Mortgages).

Pau tells the story of another working-class member, Ada Colau, who went from calling a representative of the Spanish Banking Association “a criminal” at a parliamentary hearing to the first female mayor of Barcelona under the merger left-wing party of En Comú Podem. As Pau would put it in his Q&A session, he “was interested in documenting how someone moves from activism to institutional politics.”

Through Catalonian independence debates mostly unmentioned in his work, Fau brings a human perspective to the life of the politician. How many times have I heard people insulting politicians? I don’t even know. As my mum used to say, “blame all these politicians now, but the one getting crazy mortgages without holding a clue of whether you’d be able to pay back were you.” Political figures come from all different socioeconomic backgrounds, and they get credited and discredited often. Fau succeeds in creating a documentary film that forgives the position of the politician and humanizes the gaze of their viewer.

Presented in a countdown narrative that unfolds in both Catalán and Spanish, Fau documents a whole year of En Comú Podem’s political campaign through the eyes of his camera and its gazes at Barcelona’s mayor.

We see Colau in campaign planning meetings, in rallies, in debates with other electoral candidates, and in her humble apartment in Barcelona. We also see her a lot in the back-room of the party’s untidy headquarters. There, Fau pulls out some black background and films Colau in some sort of video-diaries that express her concerns.

Interestingly enough, when Fau was questioned about what he asked her in those interviews, he stated that his go-to strategy was to ask, “How are you feeling today?” These video-diaries, extremely powerful because of the intimacy created, let us learn about her strengths but also about her fears. Believe it or not, she is human and is afraid of becoming a leader as she analyzes her journey and realizes that a couple of years ago, it was she who cursed institutional political powers.

Politics is a tough and over-complicated beast.

I am aware that back home people would hate on me for looking at our politicians from a forgiving point of view. “Whether they are right-wing or left-wing, they are all thieves” is the current motto in many households. That being said, I found enjoyment (as one of the only Spaniards in the room) in watching Fau’s documentary succeed in finding an empathizing eye in a profession that can bring its “professionals” as many supporters as haters.

 

Discussing Willful Ignorance in an Era of Mass Media

Though the internet only came into being fairly recently, it is an invention with implications similar to, if not more profound, than the wheel. Humans have only just begun adapting to the anthropological effects of the internet. Many of the consequences remain to be seen.

On a personal level, the access to unfathomable amounts of information can be just as disorienting as empowering. The unassuming dimensions of a “smart” phone has led to the now familiar eye contact-less circles of craned necks. This is a cultural norm that anthropologists fifteen years ago would find unimaginable, save works of science fiction.

Yet, as new as these technological forces may be, there remains a tendency in discourse to erase traditions and movements that have existed for long periods of time. For example, though the social movement #BlackLivesMatter is certainly new, the black American diaspora community has been protesting extrajudicial violence within popular discourse since at least slave catchers became the American police force. #BlackLivesMatter is certainly revolutionary in many important respects, but there can be a dangerous erasure of histories of political resistance that gets lost in the purported complete newness of modern movements. Complacency is easy when current social change is seen as uniquely revolutionary, without any reference for progression. At the same time, denying new characteristics in contemporary social movements usually leads to a type of misinformed and apathetic cynicism. Yet, knowing what characteristics actually defines a contemporary moments can be incredibly difficult living within that period, especially with the rapid expansion of information technologies.

Even though this expanse of knowledge is real, there is a manufactured paralysis of an individual’s own types of social privilege. Though social privilege is not a fixed object, there is a tendency to accept clean theories of progress along the ways a person can be privileged. This is a broad tendency that I would like to examine in a context in which I have more knowledge.

In recent years, “visibility” has become a paradigmatic word to describe themes of transgender and gender-queer representation in media and public space. This word, as a concept to describe a current moment, has a fairly flexible application. Still, from many perspectives, when understood as “increasing,” “visibility” is usually understood to be a positive sign of change. “Visibility” often becomes a rhetorical repository for all action on behalf of people who are transgender among Bates discussions with cis- students on justice for trans people. It is relatively common to hear the main part of the solution to discrimination against trans and genderqueer individuals to be answered with vague “visibility.” Frankly, I do not know what is meant by this, nor do I think it has any efficacy. Simply being allowed to exist visibly in public spaces, does not necessarily deconstruct white centric cis-hetero patriarchal societal structures. Combatting discrimination against trans-people is far more multifaceted than being visible in public spaces. This is especially the case when being visibly of queer gender presentation can become met with reactionary violence. Further, “visibility” operates under the presumption that the issue is incumbent on trans and genderqueer to solve, it obfuscates the ability for cis people to advocate on behalf of trans people in employment discrimination, reactionary violence, gender marked bathrooms, or any number of well publicized issues. This does not even touch on the basic demands to be inclusive in language, activism, and application of emotional labor. Furthermore, the discourse “visibility” decouples contemporary American trans activism from any type of historical impetus. Transgender equality cannot be extricated from European colonialism for a plethora of reasons, particularly as inculcating gender binaries were a large part of white European colonial projects. This fact becomes manifest in moments of political resistance like the heading of the Stonewall riots by black and brown drag queens.

Though this idea of “visibility” is certainly more complicated than I have space or the knowledge to exhaust, I think it demonstrates a particularly important reality that seems to have become heightened in the age of the internet. It is relatively easy to be flummoxed by massive amounts of information and impetuously accept culturally reproduced ideas about groups outside one’s own knowledge base.

 

Five Time All-American Triple Jumper, Sally Ceesay ’18, Opens Up About NCAA Experience

While March drags on for most students in the cold of Maine, Sally Ceesay ’18 has had a very different experience; she traveled to Birmingham, AL to compete in the 2018 NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships earlier in the month. She says, “Generally for nationals, the meets are pretty far away. My first one was in North Carolina, so it was really nice to get back down south to warmer weather. I love going away for nationals, because it’s right in the middle of March, and everyone hates this month. I always see it as my vacation and quick break away. It was great.” She continues, talking about being in a new place: “It was my first time in Alabama. I got to see a lot of civil rights landmarks and stuff like that, so that was really cool.”

The bulk of her time, obviously, was spent preparing for the competition. Ceesay competed in the triple jump, placing second and breaking her own record by a half inch with her jump of 40 feet, 4 inches. On preparation for the meet, she says, “In the last two years, I finally figured out what works for me in terms of my mental preparedness. I do the same thing that I’ve done all season, and I think that helps me best, because it keeps my nerves down. I know that if I’m doing the same routine I’ve been doing, and I’ve been doing well at any normal meet, then everything should fall in place if I’m doing everything exactly the same.”

With this preparation heading into her attempts, she then focuses on one thing: “My freshman year I had this coach. . . . He told me before every jump I have to tell myself that I am the sh*t and believe it and take every jump like it was my last one. I still do that to this day. I run through it in my mind.” After this, she gets on the runway and clears her head. She says, “I try to clear my mind so I’m not thinking about anything.”

Clearly this method of preparation has paid off, as Ceesay as earned All-American honors five times, the fifth coming at this NCAAs. As a first-year, she competed in the triple jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships, finishing 16th with a jump of 35 feet, 3.25 inches. A year later, during the 2015-16 indoor season, she earned her first All-American honors with a Bates record-breaking jump of 38 feet, 1.25 inches. With this jump, she became Bates’s first All-American triple jumper since 1985. She went on to earn four more All-American honors in the event and has broken her record multiple times.

Of this accomplishment, she says, “It’s really exciting. It’s not something that I expected before I got to Bates, but ever since I’ve been here and realized what I’m capable of achieving, I’ve always been working towards it. It’s an honor, and I’m thankful every time I think about it.” As this is her senior year, her last indoor season has come to a close.

Reflecting on all four years of competition, she says, “It’s sad thinking about it coming to an end.” However, despite the emotion, she is proud of her accomplishments and does not wish for anything to have gone differently. She says, “I’ve achieved everything I want to achieve. I’ll walk away knowing I had a great track career, put everything out there, and have no regrets.”

Of this accomplishment, she says, “It’s really exciting. It’s not something that I expected before I got to Bates, but ever since I’ve been here and realized what I’m capable of achieving, I’ve always been working towards it. It’s an honor, and I’m thankful every time I think about it.” As this is her senior year, her last indoor season has come to a close.

Reflecting on all four years of competition, she says, “It’s sad thinking about it coming to an end.” However, despite the emotion, she is proud of her accomplishments and does not wish for anything to have gone differently. She says, “I’ve achieved everything I want to achieve. I’ll walk away knowing I had a great track career, put everything out there, and have no regrets.”

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