The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: February 2019 Page 2 of 3

CHEWS Mindfulness

When people hear the word “mindfulness” what do they think? What do they associate it with? What do people do that may be considered mindful? These were the questions that guided my attempt to identify how mindfulness plays a role in the Bates community. Early on, I ran into a few roadblocks—most people I talked to had no idea what mindfulness was, or how one might go about being mindful. They are not alone. In my research, I found several different definitions of mindfulness, each with their own mix of vague terminology. For example, one self-help site defines mindfulness as “the practice of purposefully focusing all of your attention on the current moment, and accepting it without judgment” ( A different site states practicing mindfulness is “the art of creating space for ourselves—space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions.” Superficially, these may be two different definitions, but as one peels the layers back they both speak to the importance of awareness and self-reflection.
After I briefly explained what mindfulness was and what it could look like to my interviewees, they all had a similar moment of realization. While they found it difficult to speak to mindfulness per se, they found it easy to talk about awareness and reflection. For many people, mindfulness manifested itself through methods of preparation, removing distractions, and taking a step back when stress levels increase. Mary Richardson, a friend and teammate of mine, plans out her weeks by identifying deadlines, organizing a work schedule, and setting goals for how she wants to spend her time. At night she journals about things that went well during the day, explaining, “it helps me focus on things that I am grateful for, because we can get too wrapped up in the things that made us stressed or upset.” A common theme throughout my conversations was an awareness of how phones have interrupted many of our daily actions. Carly Harris, a first-year from California, described a moment of realization she had when walking to the library earlier this week. The icy sidewalks had forced her to pay attention to every footstep she took, and to put away her phone in order to do so. “It made me feel present. I see so many people on their phones as they walk, but it can be really relaxing to notice the world around you.” Henry Colt ‘19, a senior from Massachusetts, turns his phone off at 9:30. Mary puts hers away until she completes a task. Another great manifestation of mindfulness came from Jackson Donahue ‘22, a first-year from New Jersey: “I don’t hold grudges against people because there are reasons behind people’s behavior—I don’t know what they’re going through.”
Perhaps my favorite thing about mindfulness is the ability to see a sort of domino-effect of benefits. Being aware of what you have to do in the week to come, of how technology distracts you, and of how people behave won’t just positively affect your mental health and productivity, but will also strengthen those connections in your brain, making mindful behavior second-nature. On Thursday the 14th—Valentine’s Day, for those who are keeping track—CHEWS is sponsoring a “Hang Up, Hang Out, and Spread the Love” event in which we encourage people to put away their phones, be present, and write a letter to a person they appreciate. Come by our table to learn more about the event, pick up supplies, and kick off your mindfulness journey!

Athlete Spotlight: Meghan Graff ‘22

Meghan Graff ‘22 has been named Rookie of the Week by the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for three consecutive weeks. She was also named New England Women’s Basketball Association Rookie of the Week which has not been received by a Bates player since 2015. Currently Graff leads the team in points scored per game (11.4) and career points scored among the first years (274).

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“And We Must Do Better”

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

Disclaimer: The ambiguity of this article is designed to keep the identities of those mentioned protected. However, because the article clearly indicates that my perpetrator was someone I’ve dated, I want to make undeniably explicit that this person does not and has not ever attended this college. 

It took me three and a half years to admit to myself that I was raped. Neither my experience of rape nor my rapist matched my preconceived notions of what rape looked like: he was no stranger, there was no alley, there were no drugs involved. In fact, he was someone who I was deeply in love with at the time of the event. I pardoned, sugar-coated, and remembered everything he did gazing through rose-colored glasses. It was easier to remember him and his actions as choices I was making than to admit to myself the disconcerting powerlessness he inflicted upon me. 

How could I conceive of myself as a strong and independent woman, a good feminist, if I let myself stay in a situation that was textbook abusive for two and a half years? How could I claim such abhorrent labels, such as abuse and rape, if he loved me? What about all the other victims of assault who experience bodily injury and debilitating mental trauma? I wasn’t them. I signed up for my situation. As I saw it, I really was asking for it. 

It was around the time of the Kavanaugh hearings that I remember the heaviness of exhaustion sinking in; it became harder to do school work, harder to sleep. I felt unrecognizable and visceral bouts of anger creep into my bloodstream when discussing sexual assault. I listened to the detail with which Dr. Ford recounted her story. Her memories were so vivid, clear, and credible, and yet hundreds of thousands of people wrote her off. 

I would lie awake at night wracking my brain for details, too. I couldn’t remember the month that it happened to me. I couldn’t even tell you how old I was, let alone describe the narrow staircase of the high-school house party as Dr. Ford did. All I recall were the boots I was wearing, the direction I was facing on my couch, and that it took nine minutes from start to finish.

A few weeks after the Kavanaugh hearings, a close friend divulged her experience of assault to me. I was utterly chilled when she told me that she, too, could hardly remember the time-frame of when she was assaulted. The more I listened to people, the more I noticed the desperation with which survivors tried to recall details of their experience, and their consequent inability to do so. 

It was only then that I understood the body’s physical response to trauma. Sometimes we can’t remember the place, the night, the person’s face, the things they said, or how many drinks we might’ve had. But the art on his walls, the peanut butter on his breath, the temperature of the hot tub, the hand on the back of her head, or the nine minutes it took for him to satisfy himself are the details that are seared into our psyches. What did I say to him?  Did I kiss him back? Did I orgasm?

These lingering questions prevented me from accepting the significance of my experience for years. Even today, I struggle with using the word rape, unsure if that is a label I get to claim. For years, I listened to other stories and compared them to my own. I grew up with robust sexual education and a supportive network that believed survivors unquestioningly, yet I simply couldn’t situate myself within the crux of the problem. I couldn’t say #metoo, out of a fear that maybe I was wrong. 

I downplayed my experience. I chalked it up to melodrama. Maybe I’d misremembered. It wasn’t until I became cognizant of the fact that so many other survivors struggled with the same self-doubt that I realized the immense capability that systemic power-based violence has to silence. It wasn’t until I noticed the common thread of all the stories I heard was the terrifying sense of bodily dissociation. The moment we left our bodies and became receptacles. The moment we left our bodies and became observers and involuntary participants. The moment we left our bodies and simultaneously watched and experienced what was being done to us. 

I might not remember everything, but I will never forget the feeling of leaving myself, closing my eyes, letting my limbs go limp, and counting down the seconds until the pounding would stop. We might not remember everything, but survivors will never forget the moment we left our bodies to survive the dislocation and unparalleled fear.

This year, I tried to explain to him my realization. I thought that talking through some of what happened might bring me some peace. I thought that two and a half years of reflection might bring an apology, or, at the very least, an admission. Instead, I received, “Okay Maddy, go ahead and #metoo me if you want,” in return.

It is that utter lack of accountability that drove me to write today. The immense feeling of hopelessness that I have been enduring, working through in therapy, and falling asleep to has begun to take its toll.

I was on a run in Lewiston the other day when a man catcalled me. For him, the outburst was a fleeting moment. However, I spent the rest of my run looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was behind me. He did not understand that his moment of sexual lasciviousness triggered a chilling fear for my own safety.

My freshman year at Bates, one boy tried to get me alone in his room; another cornered me in an elevator; a third convinced me to leave a party, and upon realizing I wasn’t going to sleep with him, left me drunk and alone in the street. This year, I found out that all three of the men described are known predators on this campus, some even having assaulted some of my closest friends.

I do not conceive of myself as the poster child for sexual assault. Others have experienced different, life-changing trauma. I am simply exhausted by the fact that each time I go into Commons, I see multiple men who freely walk around this campus having faced no consequences, social or official, for their actions. I am exhausted by the fact that the Title IX office has closed the cases on some of the most egregious forms of sexual assault I have ever heard happen in my life— instances that would shock the world in the same manner as Brock Turner’s did if they saw the light of day.

I am exhausted that I am unable to publicly name many of these on-campus assailants without facing legal repercussions. I am exhausted because facets of our community know these perpetrators and willingly choose to continue associating with them. I am exhausted by the juxtaposition between support groups held by Bates in the wake of the 2016 election and the class time dedicated to speaking about these issues after the Kavanaugh hearings against Bates’ continuation to let those with money, power, and status roam this campus with no repercussions. All this hypocrisy condones and encourages the message that those with plentiful enough resources are free to “grab [us] by the pussy” here.

The experience of rape culture I am attempting to address does not solely encompass rape and its survivors; it is about each and every coercive sexual experience, every instance of workplace harassment, every inappropriate passing comment. It is for every person who has had to wrestle with their own self-doubt, draw on the power of hindsight, and fight to legitimize their discomfort. This letter is meant to address a culture that conditions some people to believe that other bodies are worth less than their own. By writing this, I hope that if even one or two people understand the persistence of my fear, they might begin to hold those responsible accountable. It need not get to the point of physical assault for someone to care, let alone take action. It need not take knowing a survivor personally or thinking of the women in our lives for someone to care. This is an issue of moral urgency and human dignity.

There are wonderful people on this campus, of all genders, actively combatting the system of power-based violence in a variety of ways. We see you and we hear you. In writing this, I simply want our administration to be aware of the consequences of their complacency. And even more so, I want us all, myself included, to remember that this horror starts and ends with the student body. It starts and ends with us calling out one another for the ways in which we degrade each other’s bodies, in turn lessening their value to justify our own desires. It starts and ends with a joke in Commons. It starts and ends with our conduct at dances. It starts and ends with who we let in the doors to parties. It starts and ends with accountability.

This need not create a culture of fear. Sexual assault is far from simple, far from black and white. But at the end of the day, those who aren’t participating in or contributing to this culture of violence have nothing to be afraid of. I recognize the nuance and delicacy of sexual assault cases. However, it is not a difficult or trying task to simply respect other people’s bodies. Sexual assault is an issue of unbridled entitlement, and we sacrifice nothing in trying to do better. And we must do better.

A Portrait of a Dancer as a Young Woman

Amirah Sackett, artist, activist, and dance educator who performed on Feb. 5 in Schaeffer Theatre at Bates, took her first ballet class at age 10. But before she ever registered for formal training, she’d been dancing for years. Sackett “grew up with hip hop” in Chicago, when the now deep-rooted dance form was still just “something you did with friends.”

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Sustainable Abigail: The Concerned Flusher Edition

Dear Sustainable Abigail,
Some automatic flushing toilets flush like 3 times before you even stand up (e.g. the ones in Hedge, 55, 65). It’s so frustrating and wasteful 🙁

~Concerned Flusher

Dear Concerned Flusher,
Thank you for recognizing this! These automatically flushing toilets, while convenient, have been proven to cause a significant increase in water usage from bathrooms since they first came into use as a hygienic alternative to manual flushers. It is great to draw attention to the issues we have with them at Bates and luckily this is exactly the sort of thing that can be an easy fix while also making a major change. While it is not possible to change the flushers entirely, the sensors can be set to be less sensitive to motion. This would make the sensors not sensitive enough to go off randomly, though it may cause for some hand-waving in front of the sensor when the time to flush does come- making flushing more fun and more active!
In order to reduce the sensitivity of the sensor, the best thing to do is to put in a work order form with Bates Facility Services, the link to which can be found here: In the request you will only have to submit a brief sentence about what you wish to be fixed (the sensitivity of the toilet in your dorm as to reduce water waste), the building, and any other details you wish to provide. It is a quick and easy form and would certainly make a big difference in water usage! Thank you for being a concerned student and doing your best to live most sustainably!

How Did We Get Here? Carbon Neutrality at Bates

Bates has promised to go carbon neutral by 2020, a seemingly daunting task, as few other schools have accomplished such a feat. However, the college is not falling short. This year, we are proud to say, Bates College has reached 95% carbon neutrality, with further improvements still coming. This has happened through working on three major areas that are critical to carbon neutrality: fuels, efficiency and culture. With all of these changes working in conjunction with one another and with the dedication from the team of Eco-Reps led by their fearless leader Tom Twist, Bates has gone from emitting 11,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide to now we are on track to emit only 600 metric tons, mostly from travel both from commuting faculty and study abroad travel. So the question is: how did we get here?
Beginning with Fuels, much of Bates Campus runs on the energy from three boilers in which we once burned heating oil or natural gas, largely dependent on which was cheapest at any given time. Over the past three years, however, we have transitioned all of these boilers to burn Renewable Fuel Oil (RFO). This is a wood-based liquid fuel with an extremely low carbon emission profile. The “wood-base” is collected through scrap wood, namely wood chips, bark, and other such wood that would often be discarded.
It is also cheaper than its fossil fuel alternatives, thus the college is benefiting financially from this switch. All the major buildings run now on this main steam line, the only buildings that do not are the smaller wood-frame houses which have their own boilers. This was a major step on the path to carbon neutrality, and it is one that many places have yet to consider because RFO is a relatively new technology with less than five other places in the nation using this option.
As for efficiency, this entails wasting less energy within the systems that we already have. These changes have been more straightforward, however have had profound impacts. First, the simple question of light bulbs was tackled- we moved away from incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs and towards the LED bulbs. This is lightbulb jargon translates to mean we are now using lightbulbs that use as much as one-tenth less energy than some other types of light bulbs. Our lighting has changed in other ways as well, including a system called “Daylight Harvesting.” This means that rooms are motion sensored, along with people light sensored, that is, the room can detect when there is a significant amount of sunlight in the room and thus will dim or shut off entirely. Beyond light bulbs, major energy losses have come from the poor insulation of old buildings that make Bates the classic New England college that it is. So systems were put in place so these cozy buildings could keep the wonderful New England aesthetic, while being more energy efficient. Systems like “Air to Air Heat Exchange” or “Variable Frequency Drive” make the warming of the building more energy efficient. These systems seem complex, but in fact have been rather small changes, to the placement of pipes closer together or implementing a dial rather than only on and off switches, both of which reduce energy usage and keep the buildings more comfortable and consistent in temperature.
The final piece to the sustainable puzzle was the culture change on campus that had to take place. Changing behavior is one of the hardest methods in making change, however, particularly with a change that is focused on such a small and specific community, behavioral changes can make a difference. Over the past three years, Bates students have left less windows open, left less lights on, have improved their recycling habits, and even have been asking Sustainable Beanie questions about what more they can do! This is an incredible cultural change within the student body, and it is long lasting. It was a student-led effort to get rid of the paper cups in commons and now three-quarters of a million cups are no longer going into the landfill, and this is just the number that weren’t recycled! It has been with the support and effort of the student body that has risen to the challenge of sustainability that has made this campus the (almost) carbon neutral place that it is, and it is this same student body that will get this campus to the 100% carbon neutral goal. With only 5% left to reach the goal, these small behavioral changes really are going to make a difference. Thus this is not only a congratulatory piece to the excellent work that has been done, but also a call to action- not necessarily in the large or dramatic sense, but rather a call to urge students to take on their days with sustainability in mind, with simple and small daily incremental changes, which will help us push through this last 5% to finally reach 100% carbon neutral. A ‘Congratulations Bates’ is in order, but let’s not reward ourselves quite yet- there is still work to be done.

First-Year Shines at KCATF

Last weekend, Bates sent five students to participate in various competitions at the Region I Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Massachusetts. The festival is a celebration of theater hosted by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the Nationals in April, eight regional festivals occur across the country in January and February. Actors Ethan Winglass ‘19 and Sukanya Shukla ‘20, who starred as Orpheus and Eurydice in Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” last November, were both nominated to compete at the festival. In addition to their nominations, Maddy Shmalo ‘19, Lucas Allen ‘22, and Jack Willis ‘19 received a Merit Award for Ensemble Work as The Stones in “Eurydice,” though they did not attend the festival. Winglass and Shukla both performed monologues and scenes and were accompanied by their scene partners, Michael Driscal ‘19 and Cael Schwartz ‘19.

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Debating 4 Democracy

Bates College is a constituent member of Project Pericles, a consortium of 31 institutions that have a commitment to public and community engagement. On February 9, Project Pericles held at Bates its Debating 4 Democracy workshop, which aims to train individuals interested in activism and advocacy work to effectively reach their goals.
Leading the workshop was Beth Huang, a senior trainer at Midwest Academy, an institution founded in 1973 that provides training for successful activism and organizing. Among the participants in the workshop were students from the University of New England, Bates College, Unity College, Lewiston High School, and Central Maine Community College – all who came in with specific social problems about which they felt passionate and needed systemic reform.
At the beginning of the workshop, Huang pointed out an often unrecognized but crucial distinction: the difference between a problem and an issue. “A problem is something that’s wrong, whereas an issue is the solution to the problem… so that’s what the issue is – it’s defining what the demand is.”
A good issue, posited Huang, is one that is worth the time spent fighting for it, capable of actually being won, arouses interest and passions in others, is “widely felt” by others, is comprehensible to others, is not polarizing within one’s own group, possesses a clear figure who can make decisions, and establishes leadership.
Students then split into three groups, where each group tackled either race inequality, environmental injustice, or education inequity. In the race inequality group, participants discussed issues of systemic racism that were especially prevalent in Maine. One student, a senior at Lewiston High School, remarked powerfully on his experience with racial stereotyping after recently moving to Maine from the city of Detroit.
“Since I’ve come here, I’ve been stereotyped so many times. One time I went to the gas station with my friends… It was a white dude who was checking me out, [and he asked me] are you paying with food stamps? And I was like, just because I’m black you’re asking me if I’m paying with food stamps? I just wanted to hear what he was going to say… and he was stuck. So he went back and talked to the manager, and he said yeah, [he asked if I was paying with food stamps] because I’m black.”
The lack of racial diversity in Maine seemed to be a focal point in the conversation. Increased communication, dialogue, and interaction amongst different ethnic and racial groups, specifically within the realm of public education, were common threads among the proposed solution. The group devised three potential solutions, or “issues,” to help tackle racial inequality in the United States: desegregation bussing in schools, changes in school curriculums to provide accurate histories of people color, and equalization of school funding.
Upon hearing these solutions, Huang had two key questions. Firstly, she inquired “do these three [issues] positively impact people’s lives? Do they make real improvements in people’s lives?” Secondly, she asked the group “If you ran a big campaign for any of these three [issues] would people feel like they have more power?” To both questions, the group answered in the affirmative – these solutions would help alter existing structures of power and lift marginalized voices.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the entire six hour workshop. However, after meeting in small groups, the workshop’s schedule moved to strategizing tactics for the issue’s success. According to the goals stated by Debating 4 Democracy, groups would design for their issues “appropriate tactics to carry out the strategy, including voter mobilization and holding a meeting with an elected official.” Given the creativity, passion, and expert guidance from the workshop, there is no doubt students at the Debating 4 Democracy workshop will make enormous social progress in their local communities and beyond.

Men’s Basketball Concludes Rocky Season 7-17

Well, they say all good things must come to an end. It appears that there will be no postseason this year for men’s basketball. The 76-73 loss to Trinity on Friday Feb. 9 effectively ends the season for the Bobcats, who needed a win and some help from other teams to find their way into the playoffs.

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A Psychological Critique of Disney Romance

Princesses, hands-down, have to be some of the most iconic additions to the Disney franchise. We remember them for their long, luscious hair, their hourglass figures, and their gorgeous smiles. We also remember how these lovely women ended up with the men of their dreams and lived out their happily ever afters. This prompted us to believe that we have to emulate a Disney princess in order to find true love. Consequently, this “knight in shining armor” complex has clouded our judgement about how individuals should act in a relationship. It allows a slew of bad behavior to go unacknowledged. 

But, at the same time, there is no denying that Disney princesses can still offer hope and illustrate a solid foundation when it comes to building a romantic relationship.  Both the negative and the positive traits of a Disney relationship can be categorized in three different ways: intimacy, which refers to developing a close bond to a person; passion, which can be summarized as the physical attraction one has for the other person; and commitment, as in the decisions that are made that affect both parties in the relationship. These three aspects make up the Triangular Theory of Love created by psychologist Robert Sternberg.

When it comes to intimacy, Disney princesses are known to fall head-over-heels for their “knight in shining armor” rather quickly. In Sleeping Beauty Aurora fell in love with teh Prince after a two minute dance sequence.This is very unrealistic considering individuals have to get to know each other first in order to see if they’re a good match. Imagine finding a “love at first sight” only to later discover that you all have nothing in common. But on the bright side, Princess Aurora does teach individuals to give others a chance and break down walls that keep others from getting to know them. Princess Aurora and the Prince trusted that they wouldn’t hurt each other and were able to create an accepting environment for one another. 

For passion, Disney princesses are the definition of being sought after for beauty. When you look at Snow White, her whole gimmick was that she was the fairest in the land because of her silky dark hair, rosy lips, and snow-colored skin. Her looks made her a target for the Prince, not her brain or her ambitions. This sends a horrible message to impressionable young people because it is saying that the only thing that matters in life is your looks. Instead, Disney princesses should make everyone feel comfortable in their own skin and teach society that every skin and body type is perfect in its own way.

Disney princesses are pretty committed in that they usually give up their old lives to be with their prince. Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” decided that she would give up seeing her family to be with a man. Now this may sound romantic, but in hindsight it’s pretty toxic. She had to abandon everything to be with someone and has, therefore, become dependent on the prince.

Both parties should benefit from whatever decision is made. A relationship is about both individuals wanting to help each other to reach each other’s full potential. But, then again, commitment is also about sacrificing to be with that person. You are dedicating your time, energy, and money to a person for whom you care deeply about. To be fair to the Prince, he was ready to sacrifice his life to save Ariel from Ursula.

 Disney makes us tolerant of toxic relationships. But as long as we’re aware of solutions, we can take the healthy parts and use them in our own relationships.

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