The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Grace Pezzella Page 1 of 3

A letter to President Spencer and Dean McIntosh

Dear President Spencer and Dean McIntosh,

My name is Grace Pezzella. I am a senior writing an Honors History Thesis, with no record of misconduct, and I am a concerned member of this community. I am 21, I drink regularly, and I have attended Trick or Drink since freshman year. I recognize the efforts of the College to make our campus a safer place, and I support this initiative. However, events like Trick or Drink are significant not because of the alcohol involved, but because they foster camaraderie based on a love of and respect for the traditions passed down to us by upperclassmen since the beginning of our time at Bates.

Respectfully, my peers and I will drink regardless of whether or not there is a sanctioned event. I am of age, I adhere to laws that limit my ability to drink openly in public places, and I am appreciative and aware of my surroundings at all times. I am not in the minority. In the past, Trick or Drink has been a relatively mild event, especially in comparison to school-sanctioned functions like 80s Dance and even the All-College Gala. It is, after all, a school night, and Bates students take their studies seriously. This Halloween tradition is not as much about drinking as it is, simply, tradition.

All of this aside, the administration applied a glaring double-standard when making the decision to cancel Trick or Drink. Bates encourages its students to become adults in their time here, to grow up and take responsibility for their own actions. Bates teaches us that community is invaluable, and that creating spaces in which people can put aside their differences for a common objective is of the utmost importance. However, canceling Trick or Drink without offering an open forum in which members of the community who felt passionately about this issue could gather and discuss ideas implies that we are incapable of mature, adult reasoning–the very skill set this college is intent on granting us.

We are not upset because we have lost an opportunity to drink. We are disappointed in the unnecessary loss of another tradition that brought us together as a community, and the lack of faith our administration demonstrated in us by making this decision a closed process. I love this school because of what it represents in theory, but the reality is that Bates College no longer resembles the fun-loving, democratic, and open environment into which I matriculated. Until we can reach a meeting of the minds over this sudden and surprising culture shift, I cannot in good conscience continue to sing the praises of Bates College or contribute financially as a member of the senior class.

Thank you for your time,

Grace Pezzella

Class of 2015

Bates United spurs discussion about differences

bates united logoIf you have noticed homogenization of your friend group or have grown tired of finding yourself engaging in conversations in which every member comes from the same political background, then it could be worth checking out Bates United, a student-run organization that meets every Sunday evening.

Founded last February by students Jourdan Fanning and Jeremy Mack, Bates United seeks “to create an open forum to facilitate interactions that encourage unity on campus,” according to the club’s mission statement.

Fanning and Mack met last year while spending time on the Parker Hall porch, and the two had a chat that ended up inciting action.

“We realized that despite our differences in age, race, geographic background, etcetera, we saw many of the same types of social divisions existing on [the] Bates campus,” said Fanning. “From this conversation, two things were created: a friendship, and the idea to create a student group that addressed these very issues.”

A few weeks after their initial conversation, the two attended a forum hosted by Professor Emily Kane’s Sociology course called Privilege, Power, and Inequality. At the event, Fanning and Mack were pleased to see many issues they found important being discussed on a larger scale.

For Fanning, this moment indicated that many Bates students were concerned about the student body’s personality and character. “[This] further fueled our drive to create a space where these issues could be discussed, formally and informally, on a regular basis–resulting in the creation of programs and other initiatives that addressed [them],” Fanning explained.

Growth was slow in the beginning, with roughly three people attending meetings. However, the club has since gained momentum, and Fanning reports that now anywhere between ten and thirty students participate each week, coming together to discuss a wide variety of topics.

What happens at a typical meeting? “We talk–about difference, diversity, adversity, poverty and systems of oppression, racism, sexism and others of these systems of oppression, and more,” explained Fanning. “We talk about these subjects and experiences pertaining to them, in terms of our experiences (and identities formed from them) before coming to Bates, and how those experiences, and others from after coming to Bates, shape the social divisions that exist on our campus.”

Bates United leaders (1)Topics vary from issues of class and race to the ever-fascinating college party culture, and each is treated as seriously as the last. The group does not affiliate with any specific political alignment; however, Fanning noted that they “do believe that there are certain rights and wrongs that exist and that should be advocated for, and attained.”

While Bates United was largely an experiment last year, it is currently transitioning into an official Student Organization. Fanning says this means they are “preparing to publicly address many of the issues that have been discussed in our meetings and the overall themes and reasoning for these experiences.” Fanning believes it is important that the club get official recognition because these conversations pertain to and affect every member of the Bates community.

“Sometimes advocating for these ideals requires us disagreeing with the institution itself, or its practices,” Fanning admitted, and he was quick to defend the club’s purpose. “Bates United is, at its core, a student group whose goal is to educate on difference, equality, diversity, and unity, and to serve as an example of the authentic daily implementation of the ideals that our very institution prescribes.”

Bates Democrats support independent candidates

The heat of the 2012 Presidential election is well in the dust by now, but this year in Lewiston Election Day is no doubt providing big opportunities for the city as a whole and for the Bates Democrats.

On Tuesday, November 5, residents of Lewiston and those registered to vote in Maine will elect their new city officials. Zam Zam Mohamed, the incumbent candidate, is running for reelection for the School Committee at-large. This is a highly influential position for the city, and when she was first elected, Mohamed was the first Somali woman to hold a political position in Lewiston.

Members of the Bates Democrats with Zam Zam Mohamed of Lewiston.

Members of the Bates Democrats with Zam Zam Mohamed of Lewiston.


Over the past few months, the Bates Democrats have been heavily involved in supporting Mohamed’s campaign, and Mohamed spoke in front of the club about a month ago.

“She shared her life story and really inspired a lot of us to get involved,” said Emily Roseman, President of the Bates Dems and someone who has spent time working on the campaign. “We have met with her to help distribute fliers and have canvassed for her three times,” said Roseman. The most recent canvassing effort was this past Saturday.

It is no secret that relations between Lewiston natives and the growing Somali community have been strained in the past. In a 2012 BBC documentary about Lewiston, Mayor Robert Macdonald asked immigrants to “leave your culture at the door,” and former Mayor Laurier Raymond in a 2002 letter wrote about the “negative results” of continued Somali immigration. This is to say nothing of the tensions that occur at an every-day level.

Teddy Rube, a sophomore and Bates Democrats Vice-President, sees a fortunate shift on the horizon, however.

“At this point, the Somali community has been in Lewiston for over a decade, and I think that even some of the members of the population that were resistant to cultural and political change in earlier years are coming around,” said Rube.

Through canvassing for Mohamed’s campaign, Rube has “encountered very positive reactions from almost everybody” and that he has never experienced “any outright resistance or push-back from residents that I’ve met.” Rube also noted that none of his fellow canvassers reported negative experiences either.

As Mohamed is currently an elected official, Rube explains that she has already established a presence in the city.

“A large amount people have either heard of Zam Zam or know her personally, and are very supportive of her candidacy.”

The Bates Democrats officially endorse Mohamed for the Lewiston School Committee at-large as well as politician Larry Gilbert, who is running for Mayor, a position he held in the past.

Roseman explains that while the Bates Democrats usually support candidates who identify with the Democratic Party, Mohamed and Gilbert are not running on a party ticket.

“This isn’t too much of a partisan issue,” she said, citing the candidates’ interest in education and a “collaborative power dynamic” as the reason behind the club’s support.

A common question on campus is whether, as Bates students, we should be involved in local elections, and Roseman recognizes that this question has been problematic in the past. For the most part, Bates students hail from different backgrounds than the majority of the Lewiston population, and our supporting candidates, campaigning, and even simply voting could potentially be seen as naive. Some question whether it is possible that Bates students understand the needs of a city that has been home to most of us for only a short while.

Furthermore, does our inherent status as “outsiders” create a dangerous relationship in which we, playing the role of privileged, elite members of the intelligentsia with a liberal bias, try to “fix” the problems of a city we view as economically depressed and in need of social reforms?

Teddy Rube says no. He and Roseman both admitted to thinking about this power dynamic outside of Dems meetings, and both suspect that other club members had similar internal conversations.

“By committing to attend Bates for four years, we’re also committing to live as residents of Lewiston for those four years. Bates and Lewiston are not separate–what happens in Lewiston affects us, as long-term community residents,” said Rube.

He emphasizes that the idea of “Bates students getting involved in local elections is not a matter of the privileged descending from the ivory tower to ‘help’ Lewiston,” rather, it involves “students as concerned, involved, and equal members of the community attempting to help make changes.”

He went on to explain that, when canvassing, students are always clear about their affiliation with the College, but they also emphasize their connection to the city as a place of residence, leisure, and employment, or at least volunteerism for students.

“We advocate for a candidate not because he or she will be good for Bates College, or will support what Bates students want, but because he or she will be an asset to Lewiston as a whole,” he says.

Rube also mentions that, for the sake of respectfulness, Batesies always try to team up with community volunteers when campaigning in order to make it more of a shared experience. “Campaigning with fellow Lewiston residents also helps us form good personal relationship with people outside of Bates, something which I think most Batesies don’t get to do nearly as much as they could or should.”

If you are registered to vote in Maine, consider voting in this upcoming election. As students and voters, and in the interest of becoming authentic members of the community, it is important to treat local elections with as much respect as one would a state or federal election, and recognize it as a chance to understand more about the place where we have landed. If it is possible for the native and Somali populations to begin to reach an understanding, then perhaps it is not out of the question for Bates students and Lewiston residents to also correct misconceptions stemming from both parties. It’s not an obligation; it’s a privilege.

Chase Hall rebranding: Center for students and Bates community

The Bates College campus is an important factor in the feel of this community. It is small enough to walk across, everything is more or less centrally located, and there are plenty of open- air spaces for students to enjoy the Maine weather. These are all important aspects that contribute to the close-knit nature and spirit of the student body and faculty.

Up until last year, however, there was no traditional “student center,” no place to congregate and unwind. With the renovations of Chase Hall that were completed last year, that is about to change.

Beginning this fall, the Chase Hall Event Series will open up the space in a way it has not been used before, establishing the building as the premier spot on campus for afternoon and evening activities during the week.

Each day, the building now hosts a different event. Mondays are dedicated to “Den Fun,” next is Tuesday Tea and the perennial favorite Wind-Down Wednesday, followed by the “Learn-to” series on Thursdays, and finally a monthly treat on Fridays.

Assistant Dean of Students Keith Tannenbaum is spearheading this rebranding of Chase Hall.

He says, “The series started as a way of bringing more people in to Chase Hall.  After last year’s renovations we didn’t get a chance to do too many activities, but with the start of a new year we wanted to introduce the building as a place on campus for students to come hang out and spend some free time.”

The entire Bates community is welcome at each event, but the target demographic is really the student body, as the goal is to create a space that is as big a part of student life as the Ronj or Commons.

The series kicked off with a grand opening attended by over 200 students, faculty, and staff and featuring delicious treats from The Gelato Fiasco. The Tuesday Tea and Thursday’s Learn-to-rumba lesson had smaller turnouts, but Tannenbaum does not see this as a defeat.

“I have confidence that they will continue to grow over time, and there are some great learn-to events still to come.”

Although an official schedule is still in the works, Tannenbaum promises that some great events are on the docket. The Den will host smaller events like Bingo, acoustic performances, trivia, and karaoke, with a special emphasis on Monday Night Football. The Learn-to series will include cooking lessons from Commons chefs and an appearance from Gloria Varney, the owner of Nezinscot Farms.

As far as planning is concerned, student involvement is encouraged. Wind-Down Wednesdays are traditionally in the hands of student clubs and organizations, but there are plenty of other opportunities as well.

“Many of the rest of the activities–especially in the Den–will be student-organized as soon as I hire the new Chase Hall programmers,” said Tannenbaum. “If students have ideas for events or improvements in Chase, I am happy to hear those ideas and would love to support them if possible.”

Most importantly, Tannenbaum wants students to know that Chase is their space.  If anyone in the community has questions about events or is looking to schedule one of their own, he or she should not hesitate to ask. This is a tremendous opportunity to continue fostering community cohesion, and an even better chance for students to step up and plan something wonderful for their peers.

Shooting incident on College Street proves non-fatal

Rene Jefferson, age 32, was shot in the shoulder while walking down College Street last Wednesday, September 4. As of Thursday, no arrests had been made, and The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal has released no further reports on the subject. While police believe they have identified a suspect, the department will not currently release any details of the shooting.

What implications does an incident such as this have for the Bates community? College Street, after all, is home to many students and acts as one of the main thoroughfares that connects our campus to the downtown Lewiston area. Lewiston may not be New York City or even Boston, but it is still a city, and with that distinction necessarily comes a certain level of crime. Students who checked their emails over the summer will be familiar with a series of burglaries that had Bates Security and the local police working hard to stop the crimes, and this non-fatal shooting is the most recent, if not most dramatic, occurrence that may put some Batesies on edge.

However, the Annual Campus Safety Report, which is compiled by Security and available on their page of the Bates website, shows little to no increase in the number of violent crimes committed on campus over the past three years. Aside from a spike in “forcible sex offenses,” which The Student sought to address in a series of articles last spring, the only other category on which Security reports that has grown in frequency is “drug law violations referred for disciplinary action.” In 2009, there were 78 cases reported on campus as opposed to the 96 cases reported in 2011. Even burglary has stayed relatively the same for the past three years.

Bates is fortunate in that it has a relatively safe campus, which is not to say that Lewiston is an unsafe city. Yes, crimes are committed outside of Bates. Yes, bad things sometimes happen inside Bates as well. But for students concerned about their safety, the best defense is common sense and a familiarity with all of the resources that the College has to offer.

As a new year begins, take the time to look over the list of services that Security has compiled in their Campus Safety Report. Treat Lewiston as you would any other major city, and stay alert while walking back to your room at night. While what happens outside of the “Bates bubble” is dependent on the people who live here, we have a responsibility to keep our own campus –– our home –– a safe and welcoming place. That being said, do not be afraid to explore Lewiston and all that it has to offer. Just be smart in the process.

Not ‘the naked dance’: Lick-It 2013

If you didn’t hear on your AESOP that Bates is a “clothing-optional campus,” then your leaders were kinder than most. Although the Residence Life staff has taken time this year to put an end to the student body’s scantily-clad dreams, the spirit behind this cherished Bates rumor perks up every spring in the days leading up to Lick-It. Sponsored by OutFront, Lick-It is a nineteen-year old tradition that asks Batesies to let loose, in direct contrast to how they will behave the following night at the All-College Gala.

This year, OutFront Coordinator Jarron Brady ’15 decided that Lick-It’s reputation needed a facelift. He stumbled across the famous Rolling Stone photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which inspired him to launch a new advertising campaign for the dance. OutFront had promoted Lick-It with scandalous posters in the past, according to Dean Keith Tannenbaum, but Brady was ready to take it to the next level. With the help of some friends, Brady recreated several famous Rolling Stone covers and plastered the photographs across campus and on Facebook. “You can be as sexy as John and Yoko or as studly as Patrick Dempsey,” said Brady. “It’s all about showing Bates students in a different light.”

So what is the purpose of Lick-It? Brady resents the colloquial designation of the event as “the naked dance”. Instead, Lick-It is about pushing boundaries. “The message that I inherited from past years is that this is a dance at which to be sexually expressive without worrying too much about it,” Brady said. “If that means wearing a lot of clothes or getting down to lingerie, do whatever you want.”

Some Bates students seemed perplexed by the advertising and the message behind the event. Was nudity encouraged? Brady explained that since our campus does mandate clothing, and since the Mays Center is a small venue, some form of clothing was necessary for entrance. The purpose of the dance was, as Brady put it, to be safe, be smart, and have fun. While Lick-It was certainly meant to push some boundaries, no one should feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and public nudity tends to have that effect.

While the dance was sponsored by OutFront, not every member of the LGBT community was entirely comfortable being associated with the event. “A few people who are out and active around campus were concerned that [the LBGT community] would be judged based solely on their behavior at the dance,” said Brady. He explained that, since Lick-It is a space for sexual expression, it would necessarily challenge heteronormative constructions of the weekend hookup. After some deliberation, however, the club decided not to pass the event on to the Bates DJ Society and continue to host it themselves. “Gay people are just as deserving of a dance floor make out as any other student,” noted Brady.

Fundamentally, Lick-It is meant to challenge the student body’s conception of itself. Brady encouraged students to push the envelope while still remaining true to themselves in terms of dress and behavior. “So many people are not comfortable with expressing themselves in a way other than how they are every single day,” said Brady. Whether this refers to a girl afraid of being called a whore for wearing something risqué or a boy worried about exposing too much upper thigh in those jorts, it comes from a culture that is inherently uncomfortable with sexual expression.

“Bates doesn’t want to be a sexually repressed campus, but it doesn’t really know how to express itself,” noted Brady. Lick-It was meant to be a venue for just that. For the most part, students seemed pleasantly surprised by their experience. It could be because only a handful of students really went wild with their clothing choices, or because Lick-It somehow managed to feel like a departure from typical Bates dances. Brady recalls a first-year student who sought him out, commending him on his ability to make Lick-It feel somehow different from other “Silo” dances, even though the student couldn’t explain why. “People do the most growing when they’re out of their comfort zone,” Brady said. “We don’t know where Lick-It will go on this campus because it’s hard to combat the stigma of ‘the naked dance’, but we want to make people to debate how comfortable they are. The point is to just be expressive.”

Whether or not you went, Lick-It’s message is important. As trite as it sounds, tolerance and self-acceptance are valuable traits, and if it takes a raucous dance party on the evening before Bates’ most classy event to remind us, then here’s hoping for another twenty years of Lick-It.

Q&A with Professor Loring Danforth, winner of the Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching

Charles A. Dana Professor of Anthropology Loring Danforth is this year’s recipient of the Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Bates Student had the chance to sit down with him last week for an interview.

Sam Learner: What scholarship have you been working on recently?

Loring Danforth: The most interesting thing I’ve done in a while was take a short-term to Saudi Arabia. It was a wonderful teaching activity and also really interesting from the point of view of my scholarship. We had so many interesting experiences there; I decided to spend my sabbatical this year writing a collection of essays on different aspects Saudi culture—about museums, science, evolution, and religion in Saudi Arabia—instead of doing a project in Greece, which is what I was going to do. We all came away impressed by how little Americans know about Saudi Arabia. What they do know tends to be so negative—executions, no rights for women, no democracy, sand and oil—period. There’s just so much more going on than that. These essays as a whole will try to demonstrate the complexity and variety of Saudi culture that Americans are not aware of.

SL: What has your work for most of your career focused on?

LD: I did my dissertation on spirit possession in northern Greece. Since then, I’ve done a book on modern death rituals in Greece, a book on Greek nationalism—the Macedonian-Greek conflict over whether Alexander the Great was Greek or Macedonian. It’s really a big political issue in the Balkans. Most recently I did a book with a coauthor about child refugees in the Greek Civil War.

SL: Why Greece?

LD: Third grade we had to pick three places in the world we wanted to go. I picked Greece because of the ancient Greek culture. I also picked Panama and Iceland. I’ve spent years in Greece, been to Panama once, and am going to Iceland in May. I also studied ancient Greece in high school, and went to Greece the first time to study archaeology. I then went back to teach for a year and discovered modern Greek culture was really interesting. I was still interested in ancient Greece, but the problem with archaeology is that you can’t talk with people. Archaeology is not as fulfilling as being able to go live in the place you study and talk with people every day.

SL: Let’s move on to your teaching. How did you win this prize?

LD: Well, I think you defiantly get better at teaching over time because you figure out what works and what doesn’t work. The biggest challenge for me is to get students to be engaged, to take what we’re talking about seriously, and to get students to want to ask questions and figure out what’s happening. My ideal class is when I say “what did you think about reading,” and then students argue about what the author said. More often the challenge is to come up with questions that aren’t too vague and general or too specific. Students I think often don’t like to play that game where they fill in the blanks for you. Instead, I like to read something, go over it, and then take a contemporary example and say “how does what we read relate to this example?” I also like to set up a question or a problem and have students argue it out. I really like it when a student raises his or her hand, and says “I think this,” and then another student raises a hand and says “I think that.” Another student might then turn to me and say “well, I think this,” and I say, “no, talk to them!” If you can get a conversation going between students, that’s a lot of fun.

SL: Has your teaching changed over the years? Has technology changed what you do in the classroom?

LD: Well first, I’m probably one of the least technologically sophisticated faculty members—I’ve been known to use slide projector or overhead transparencies. You get as nice a picture as PowerPoint. One big change though was moving toward small group discussion in class. When I was a student, nobody did that. When you start teaching, you think “who is best teacher I had? I’m going to try to teach like that person.” But now, twenty years later, people teach in ways that I haven’t seen, so Bates teachers start experimenting, and new teachers bring in new ideas, like breaking larger groups up into smaller groups. I tried that and it worked really well. You know some people think I lecture because I stand in front of a class of fifty people. But what I try to do is maybe talk for five or ten minutes to make sure some difficult concept is clear and to provide some background. But then I’ll do a quick Q&A, followed by something else.

SL: Do you have any reservations about this new teaching style?

LD: Well, here’s the worst-case scenario: I sat in on a class where the professor broke the class up into five small groups and then circulated around the room, group-to-group, listening in. Meanwhile, I was in another group where the professor wasn’t, and the students just started talking about the football game, the weather, or the dance. But that’s the worst case. You also see great things. For example, one time a student sat in class for weeks and never said a word. One day we broke into groups and the student was full of great ideas and asking great questions. I said to this student afterward, you have great ideas, I would love for you to contribute. I told the student to feel confident. That is another thing that contributes to good teaching—having a personal enough relationship so that the student knows you really care.

SL: You mentioned that professors often turn to past professors for teaching inspiration. Have any one of your professors inspired you?

LD: It’d be hard to pick one. I had an anthropology professor who would stand up in front of one hundred people and keep us fascinated. I was also an ancient Greek literature major, and so I had classes with just four people sitting around a table translating Greek, so I can’t pick just one person.

SL: Now that you’ve been recognized for your teaching, have you found “it?” Will you keep changing and experimenting with your teaching, or do you plan to stick with what you know works?

LD: Well, you’re always learning, always trying different things. The world keeps changing, and I keep reading new books. For example, there’s a book called “Things Fall Apart,” which I’ve been teaching for thirty years, and it continues to be a delightful book to teach kids about cultural relativism. But new events happen in the world that are directly relevant to this book. For instance, the big scandal a few years ago with Shell Oil polluting the lands of the Ogoni people in Nigeria is directly comparable to what “Things Fall Apart” talks about, except the book takes place one hundred years earlier and deals with British colonialism. So now I can assign “Things Fall Apart,” find some websites with Shell Oil PR and the movement to save Ogoni people, and have students read these to see how they are related to the course. It’s really just a combination of wanting to continue to be a good teacher, going to programs Bates sponsors for teaching, and keeping alive yourself—and that’s where doing scholarship and teaching come together.

SL: So how do you balance your teaching with your scholarship?

LD: First, there are some schools that value scholarship 90/10, and other schools where the ratio is reversed. Bates is about 50/50. I really like that balance and wouldn’t want to be at a place where nobody cares how you teach, or, conversely, where nobody does scholarship. There are lots of people at Bates who like that balance. The challenge is to do both well. My strategy is to devote myself 100% to teaching during year, but then, during the summer or when I’m on sabbatical, it’s like flicking a switch. From the day after graduation to the day before classes, I’m in Greece doing fieldwork, or sitting in the library writing an article or a couple chapters of a book.

SL: How do you think teaching anthropology will change over the next thirty or forty years?

LD: (laughs) You need to ask someone who is 30 years old. One thing I will add, however, is that the Harward Center, community service, and service learning have all been a huge change that I think will continue. I taught a course on fieldwork and research in the Lewiston-Auburn area for ages. But when the Harward Center became active and the idea of community service really took off, I began to offer, encourage, and even require students to tutor Somali refugees in Lewiston as part of their service learning component of the course. I did it too. It changed my life, and the students found it really rewarding. You know, the classroom is the real world. I’m not in some ivory tower. I feel that teaching is changing the world in a different way from, say, someone going out to give people advice about how not to get AIDS. But one of the greatest joys is to have students who go on to do things like that.

SL: Any big plans for the prize money?

LD: The most important part of the award is the satisfaction that comes from working really hard to be a good teacher for 30 years and to have students appreciate that enough to say positive things. I almost didn’t notice the money. I plan to divide it into 12 paychecks and go to the bank.

As the next round of Theme Houses are selected, students reassess the effectiveness of their presence

Selected each year by the entirety of the Dean of Students office, different theme houses are chosen each year after an application process that involves participation from both interested student groups and their faculty liaisons. This year the Arts House, Dren House, and Film and Culture house were chosen from six applicants, a 50% acceptance rate which the Housing Office calls, “about average.” The 2012-13 school year included five theme houses.

Houses are selected on criteria ranging from their inclusion of students from various class years to their ability to prove to the selection committee that their mission will be better served in living together. “Theme Houses are meant to improve the academic experience, both through faculty engagement and the living-learning environments that the houses provide,” offered Housing Coordinator and Residence Life Assistant Mina Beveney. Theme houses are expected to not only host relevant events within their own living spaces, but also events that engage the larger Bates community.

Beveney told The Student she believes theme houses are, “generally effective,” in accomplishing these goals, but student body response to theme houses remains split. Some, like sophomore and current Arts House member Sean Murphy believe theme houses create a scenario of, “a close knit community of people who share a common goal,” which Murphy adds is a, “unique experience.”

Although most students surveyed believe in the potential of the theme house, many in the Bates community call into question how successful the houses are in practice.

“What has the Arts and Sustainability [House] done this year? I know I couldn’t tell you,” said one current theme house member who wished to remain anonymous. “I think the administration is so focused on picking theme houses that will look good in a pamphlet that they rule out the more esoteric themes. But, this is a mistake because these weirder themes have the more involved and excited kids… They would make [students] more happy.”

Like most things at Bates, however, the consensus seems to be that you get what you put in. While Murphy cited Arts Crawl and other events as successes of his theme house, sophomore Kelly DiMatteo, a member of the Environmental Justice House, admitted that while she has not been adequately involved in her house’s activities, “my house as whole is very involved and does a lot to promote environmental awareness.”

Can sexual misconduct reform overcome student apathy?

In theory, Bates students care about sexual assault. It’s a current and salient issue, one that lives on the periphery of most weekend escapades and colors conversations as diverse as the informal chat in Commons to the serious analysis of required readings. However, when students are given the chance to examine our college culture in a safe space, few take advantage of this opportunity. In a continued look at Party With Consent, senior Nora Hanagan hosted a forum last Wednesday night to explain and scrutinize student responses to her survey, meant to gauge the general success of the event. Though publicized, only thirteen students attended. Thirteen, out of over 1700. This is a problem.

While it is probable that a large percentage of those not in attendance had very valid excuses–practice, an exam the next day–some surely felt alienated by or apathetic to the language surrounding the discussion. For example, it is not uncommon for men and women alike to think that sexual misconduct is an inherently feminine issue, and that only those who consider themselves “feminists” should get involved. Otherwise, it could simply be that students feel the issue does not apply to them; there is a mentality that if a student does not assault, or does not consider him or herself a target for assault, then they are somehow removed from the equation. But it takes an entire campus to keep each member of our community safe, and this means that more of us need to start paying attention.

Heather Lindkvist provided a brief introduction to the forum, noting some structural and administrative changes in college sexual misconduct policy, including changing the official name to “sexual respect” in order to foster a healthier environment before incidents occur. She also reminded participants that all college employees, including students on the Bates payroll, are mandatory reporters of sexual assault. Similarly, the new Diversity and Inclusion page of the college website includes a section for anonymous stories or suggestions that could help Bates help victims in a more efficient and sensitive manner.

The rest of the night was run by those participating, under the guidance of Hanagan who explained survey data and facilitated discussion. In the interest of maintaining a safe space, students will remain anonymous in this article.

A large theme was the ever-controversial relationship between alcohol and consent. How many drinks are too many? Why is the state’s definition of consent different from Bates’? The recently-passed Violence Against Women Act tried to clarify some of the rhetoric surrounding what is and what is not considered consensual, yet a hard-and-fast definition has yet to reach the public in any large capacity. Even the Bates definition, although certainly clear that “consent means words or actions that show an active, knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity”, references incapacitation “where alcohol or other drugs are concerned” as determined not merely by drunkenness or intoxication, but by something beyond that that can change on a case-by-case basis. In this context, how can partners ever be entirely sure?

Participants wondered about Bate’s total ban on hard alcohol. The going logic seemed to be that maybe if liquor wasn’t considered a taboo, then perhaps students would be better educated about their limits instead of “pounding five shots before heading to a party,” as one sophomore put it. While in theory this argument makes sense, Bates’ policy is rooted in precedent. When student safety is the top priority, it becomes difficult to isolate a single greatest threat and the issue of hard alcohol was one upon which the student body, at least initially, agreed.

Students emphasized a need for better communication. “I think male students feel like they are usually portrayed as the villain in these situations,” said one female student. “We overlook that girls have as much responsibility to get consent as do guys.”

And while it’s true that one in four college women reports having survived rape or attempted rape in her lifetime compared to roughly 3% of men, this is an instance in which there should be no double standard. If communication between partners is unclear, then the chance that one party could push the envelope a bit too far, regardless of their gender, increases. In the same vein, one student pointed out that “people consider consent to be what happens behind closed doors.” She went on to explain that personal responsibility is as important as communication; if we consider ourselves old enough to be drinking and having sex, then we have an obligation to know our own limits and set boundaries from the beginning of the night, not just when things get heated.

The idea of personal responsibility threaded through many of the night’s conversations. Hanagan revealed that in the previous five years, only one to three instances of assault were reported annually. This past year, there have been six reports. Reforming policy can only solve so much. When structural and bureaucratic conflicts are stripped away, we are left with our culture, and maybe that deserves a second look.

“Guys put pressure on girls to sleep with them,” admitted one male student, “but guys also put pressure on other guys to hook up.” Although perhaps less severe, the same notion of not wanting to be the only one who doesn’t have a dance floor make-out or basement hookup exists within groups of girls, as well. So how can we look out for each other, keep the same spirit of our youth and the intrinsic carefreeness that comes with it, without being reckless? The group, for obvious reasons, did not come to a conclusion.

Participants compared Bates to other similar schools like Colby and Williams that already boast Men Against Violence groups, and one student reported that Bates is working on its own iteration. It is a step in the right direction to have groups that devote themselves to consent issues, but it remains to be seen whether or not Bates holds sexual responsibility as a cause worth rallying for. The “this does not happen in my friend group” mentality that one sophomore pointed out becomes dangerously obvious when forums like these are under-attended. At the end of the day, this is our campus and we are the ones who set the rules of engagement for our environment. We have both the privilege and the power to define what we allow to happen, and apathy should not preclude us from creating a healthier Bates culture.

Police presence not unprecedented

Bates is known for its “work hard play hard” mentality and has also garnered an unofficial reputation within the NESCAC as a “drinking school” rather than a party school. For the most part, however, weekend parties remain checked and controlled and while visits from Campus Security aren’t rare, they only infrequently end in substantial punishment. For the past few weeks, though, the Security crime logs have read like an unfavorable laundry list, including two separate nights when Small House alone had five infractions and the rest of Frye Street did not fare much better.

News spreads quickly throughout the student body, and many Batesies were overheard wondering about an increased security presence and why, suddenly, it seems as if Lewiston police officers are showing up at parties with more frequency than this year has seen.

In the past, there was the Maine Liquor Enforcement Unit that dealt with liquor law infringements all over the state, with a special emphasis on underage drinking. About ten years ago, former Governor John Boldacci decided to dissolve this unit and put its funding instead towards county health consortiums, projects like Healthy Androscoggin. Most police chiefs were not in favor of the dissolution, which requires city police departments to now apply for grants that cover the overtime required of officers to patrol weekends and nights. However, alcoholism is one of Maine’s leading issues, and therefore necessary to address.

The primary focus of these grants is underage drinking in high school, not necessarily college. But in order to keep receiving the money, officers are required to perform well, meaning that summons, write-ups, and arrests play into the cycle of funding. As a consequence, officers who have broken up high school parties are likely to buzz the fringes of campus looking for violations.

This is nothing new.

Thomas Carey, Director of Security and Campus Safety, explained the parameters under which these officers operate. Most of the time, officers are not patrolling through main campus. They stick to city-owned streets and sidewalks, including off-campus houses which are frequently visited due to noise complaints from neighbors. “I understand why students get nervous,” said Carey, “but unless they have probable cause, officers are not going to visit the center of campus.”

Traditionally, Bates has maintained a mostly positive relationship with the Lewiston Police Department, especially in comparison to other colleges. At one point in time, the relationship between Colby and the Waterville department was so strained that every time a public ambulance was called, the police would issue a summons to the patient, no matter what state they were in, if alcohol was involved. This stemmed from students acting disrespectfully towards EMTs, but perceived police aggression did nothing to quell the problem. Similarly, police will enter Bowdoin dorms with campus security in order to conduct a full investigation.

As any fan of crime dramas knows, police are not supposed to enter a building without probable cause. This is a right that students hold dearly, yet it turns out that we may be our own worst enemies. If an officer notices visibly-intoxicated kids entering and leaving a party, that is implication enough that there is alcohol inside. Even if the hosts are legal, they could face a fine of up to $1000 for providing for minors and also a mandatory court date.

Carey explained that much of Bates’ disciplinary actions come from liability and risk management issues. If the college is found incapable of enforcing state laws, then it could be sued by the attorney general. In some instances, the state has allowed for Bates to make its own laws. For example, if a student is found in possession of marijuana but it amounts to less than two and a half ounces, the college can decide how to proceed regardless of the drug’s current illegal standing. There are some laws, however, that Maine stringently enforces, such as its open container policies and that, no matter how much Batesies have a tendency to ignore it, consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is still illegal.

Springtime is synonymous with partying, as everyone seems to rejoice at having survived the lengthy Maine winter. The police know this. “I can guarantee you that they will be out every weekend until graduation if they have the money,” said Carey.

No one is expecting that college students, even minors, are going to stop drinking. Carey, a Bates graduate himself, remembers what it feels like to be a student needing to blow off some steam. But treating the sidewalk like a courtroom is not going to win you any friends. “A college student who does not have any sort of degree and is not a lawyer should not be arguing with the police,” said Carey, who noted a direct correlation between number of summons issued and instances when the officer thought a student was being disrespectful.

Having fun, partying, and maybe even causing a small ruckus is part of the much-lauded “college experience”, but there are ways to do this that will not cause trouble. As students, we have certain rights and it would behoove us to learn them because sometimes even the best of intentions end with trouble. Making adjustments to account for a springtime law enforcement presence around campus will most-likely improve our relationship with Security and police officers.

“This is grown up time,” said Carey, noting that the desire to be treated like an adult couples with the ability to face adult consequences. As we all look forward to Short Term and warmer weather, we can figure out how to party respectfully and respond to authority figures in a manner that will not get us a summons for the secondary offense of sounding mouthy or entitled. If we can rise to the occasion, hopefully our authority figures will respond in kind.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén