The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Helen Chyz

Three things that all Batesies should think about but sometimes forget

Turn off the lights in the library bathrooms.

For anyone who has ever used the bathroom on the first floor of the Ladd Library you must have noticed the little red lights outside the doors to the individual rooms.  You also probably noticed that those little lights correspond to the lights on the inside so that if the lights in the bathroom are on there is an indicator outside.  This is actually very smart of whoever designed the library bathrooms because it does away with the awkward knocking or trying every door to see if they are locked.  What are you even supposed to say if someone knocks on the bathroom door?  Sorry?  I’m not.  Occupied?  True, but sounds like something my grandpa would say.  Hang on a sec?  Maybe, but do not go making promises you can’t keep!  Clearly, the obvious solution here is to just use the little red lights that are so handily there. If we all, as a college, work together to turn the lights off when you leave the bathroom all the ambiguity of whether a bathroom is in use will be gone.  You save some electricity and save someone the embarrassment of waiting outside an empty bathroom because they are too nervous to knock.

Commons is not your kitchen at home.

Specifically it is a shared space where everyone has to eat and get along together.  Even more than your kitchen at home which can be left in whatever state you see fit, Commons should be treated with extra care out of respect to your peers and the wonderful people who work there.  This means that there is no excuse not to pick up your dirty napkins off the table.  You have to walk past the dish return anyways with silverware and plates so why would there still be napkins on tables after meals?  Another thing that causes distress for some in a communal dining environment involves the heating and toasting devices. The toaster oven is great for heating or melting cheese on a sandwich but nothing is going to happen if you keep opening the door to check on your food.  There is glass in front so you can monitor the status of your melted cheese without letting all the heat escape. A similar grievance occurs next door at the microwave. When more food is added to the microwave, it takes longer to cook everything in it, so sometimes it might be easier to just wait a second instead of shoving as much food in there as possible. Common courtesy can go a long way, and we should all try to make group dining feel as comfortable as possible.

Take the five extra steps to the mug bin.

There are more mug bins around this campus than it may seem like and mug hoarding is one of the more preposterous problems for a Batesie to have.  We have been lulled into a state of laziness where it is considered too much of an effort to even return the mugs that the college provides to their bins. A perfect example of this is at the library. Just like the little red lights, the library people were clever when they put three mug bins right outside the door. This is why it is painful to see so many desks with stranded mugs after people leave the library only to walk past the mug bins outside. Leaving your mug on the table after you pack up is not only lazy but also makes a lot more unnecessary work for other people. I think we can all admit that the mug system is an extremely convenient luxury, which is why it is so popular. This is also why people get so angry when there are shortages of mugs in Commons. While the in-the-room mug hoarders are a completely separate issue, there are too many times when mugs are simply left on tables or counters even though there is a mug bin on the way to anywhere someone could possibly be walking. Simply take the second to carry your mug for part of your walk and we can decrease the clutter around campus buildings as well as the clean-up work that other people have to do.

Finding meaning and purpose in the liberal arts context

As the middle of the semester draws near and stress levels start to increase, it is important to take a step back and think about the meaning and purpose one’s life holds.  “Meaning” and “purpose” are daunting words, especially when related to the course one’s life takes, but they are important to think about.

During her inaugural address, President Clayton Spencer spoke about the “obligation” of a liberal arts college to include preparation for the reality of the working world.  However, not to be confused with a career-track university, Bates places the focus on students finding purpose in their work.

Now, a little more than a year after President Spencer’s inauguration and roughly three months since the $11.5 million Catalyst Fund announced the monetary support for purposeful work, it is time to take a closer look at how students can find purpose and meaning in their lives and work.

Psychologists have defined purpose as having three main components: An ultimate aim towards which progress can be made, meaning for the self, and an impact on the world beyond the self.  Purpose can come from many areas of life including one’s actual work or occupation, relationships, athletics or religion, to name a few.

While it is important to have more than one source of meaning or purpose, the Purposeful Work Initiative focuses primarily on occupation.  Finding purpose in daily work as a student, or in the real world predicts better overall well-being which depends on enjoying what one is doing each day and using one’s strengths.

There are myriad benefits from reaching this state of well-being with purposeful work, an ultimate aim, and all that comes with it.  But how do students of the liberal arts achieve this?  Psychologists discuss finding “flow” in work and leisure activities as a way to increase satisfaction and happiness.

When someone has flow in their work, they are able to make mundane tasks more complex, which develops their skills and keeps activities challenging.  Flow also comes from focusing on an activity and allowing oneself to get lost in it.  The last ingredient to create flow is recognizing opportunities for action related to the activity.

If students can try and work towards finding flow and purpose in their work, they will be better off psychologically.  How, then, does the Purposeful Work Initiative help students practically?

Practitioner-taught Short Term classes, an emphasis on internships and increased career mentoring are part of the plan. In addition, the Purposeful Work Infusion Project is underway, reaching about 250 students this semester through eight classes and the Bates College Leadership Collaborative workshop series.

“The Purposeful Work Infusion Project aims to bridge the gap between course content and worlds of work,” said psychology instructor Rebecca Fraser-Thill, who is leading the project along with Bonner Leader Director Ellen Alcorn. “Too often students sit in classes and co-curricular activities gaining terrific skills and knowledge bases that they never learn how to apply beyond the boundaries of campus. The Infusion Project is trying to change that.”

The programs that are made possible by the Catalyst Fund are meant to help students discern the things that interest them the most and then develop these skills.  It is important for students to try out different things before deciding on one path for the rest of one’s life.  This liberal arts thinking has been proven by psychologists who found that the most satisfaction is found when one is fully committed to their career but had also gone through a period of exploration.

So take that random Short Term class that sounds cool.  Think critically about your major or the student clubs and organizations you participate in.  Psychologically speaking, the happiest people are challenged, find enjoyment in their activities and did not settle on their chosen path randomly.  Working towards these goals can help students achieve purpose and meaning in a liberal arts education.

If you or someone you know have questions during your search for purpose in your work, contact BCDC; the Chair of the Purposeful Work Working Group, Darby Ray (dray@bates.edu); or Professor Fraser-Thill at rfrasert@bates.edu.

“Double-dipping” rules for major and GEC classes set to change for Class of 2017

Starting this fall with the Class of 2017, the double-dipping rules and specifications for General Education Concentrations are changing to allow more open crossover between majors, minors, and GECs. In response to the altered system, various members of the student community weighed in with their thoughts on GECs at Bates.

According to the Bates College website, “General Education requirements help students develop a range of skills across many disciplines and challenge them to think in complex, interdisciplinary ways.”  The current General Education requirement system was created in 2007 and included the scientific reasoning, laboratory experience, and quantitative literacy requirements (SLQ); three writing requirements; and two interdisciplinary General Education Concentrations (GECs).

The change this year comes as a relief to many students who were previously concerned about finishing all of the requirements.

I think it is easier now with the ability to double-dip, because otherwise it would be a struggle to fit in all my classes,” said sophomore Hannah Kiesler. She does, however, see the benefit of the GECs, because they “allow us to diversify classes a little bit.”

The purpose of GECs is to complement a major and encourage students to explore classes outside of their focus of study, besides taking a smattering of introductory-level courses. This requirement sets Bates apart from other NESCAC colleges, which mostly only have requirements similar to the SLQ and writing requirements.

Will Wise, a senior at Bowdoin College, says, “Even without as many requirements, people [at Bowdoin] still take classes that don’t have anything to do with their major.” As an Economics major with a minor in Government, Wise has found that even classes outside his areas of study have related back to other subjects and courses.

I am taking theater design right now which has nothing to do with my major, but if you think about it, the research and creative process of designing a set is the same as it is for writing a paper,” said Wise.

At Colby College, there are requirements for courses in international diversity; U.S. diversity; two science classes, one with and one without a lab; writing; literature; art; and foreign language.

Colby senior Peter Quayle says, “I think the language requirement may be good for some people but it wasn’t as good for me.  Every requirement is more rewarding for some than others.”

Quayle is an Environmental Science major with a concentration in Marine Science. He is also pre-med, which does not leave him with a lot of room in his schedule. “I think that to some extent the requirements are inhibiting” of academic exploration, he says.

A common concern of Bates students is that despite the intention of allowing students to take a variety of classes, GECs limit the electives a student can take.  “Many students start out taking classes that are interesting to them but then are forced to take more similar classes in order to finish a GEC, rather than exploring other areas outside of their GEC,” says senior Margaux Donze.

William Pollard, also a senior, agrees, “My understanding of the GEC system is that it is supposed to get us out of our comfort zone, but it is self-defeating because people struggle to fit their fourth GEC class in rather than taking something they really want to take.”

There are some GECs that are more interdisciplinary than others. For example, Public Health and Latin American Studies encompass a variety of departments, while others are not interdisciplinary at all. These include GECs such as Chemistry, English, and Philosophy.

“My GEC is essentially just classes that could also count for my major so it doesn’t force me to go very far from my focus,” explains senior Neuroscience major Jake Sandor, whose GEC is Psychology and Philosophy.

A similar concern arises in relation to the breadth that is actually gained by the distribution requirements, specifically because the requirements seem to be easier for “science people” to meet.

Senior Tess Ferguson said, “As a Biochemistry major, I had no problem completing SLQ and the Ws [writing requirements] within the classes needed for my major, but students who major in humanities have a much harder time fitting all of the classes into their schedules.”

Adds junior Rachel Lippin-Foster, “Often students pick a GEC because it includes classes they have already taken, so it defeats the purpose of providing an interdisciplinary education.”

Jake Barbato, also a junior, remembers, “My [First-Year Seminar] was cross-listed with a bunch of GECs, so I just chose the GEC with the most classes I would want to take.”

While there is the opportunity to use GECs to explore other courses with a unified theme, “A lot of people don’t view GECs as a way to get outside of their major but as a hurdle, and if that is how they are viewed, [the GECs] aren’t really doing their job,” said sophomore Jon Gougelet.

Overall, students expressed a significant amount of frustration with the planning required to fulfill all of the requirements, which actually ends up decreasing the amount of academic freedom. Instead of being able to try new things, students have to incorporate extra required classes into their schedules to complete their requirements.

Gougelet adds, “It makes it so hard to have so many requirements in addition to a major; there is probably a better way to encourage people to study outside of their fields.”

Goal of student-run Bobcat Den delivery service: Bring happiness to your doorstep

When he was a first-year, Matt Peredja ’14 was part of a group of students who tried to fill the need for a food delivery service on campus.  Because of the way the system was structured, the service only lasted a couple of weeks before it disintegrated.

“The idea was pure gold.  Everybody loved it, and I got to see that since I delivered some of the orders,” said Peredja.

In the original system, students could order food by phone, paid with cash, and Peredja and his team would deliver the food on foot. Peredja has since updated these features in his new service.

“I came up with this idea to create a system that in theory would work using Google forms,” said Peredja.  He enlisted the help of his friend Jack Gonsalves ’14, and together they decided to give it a shot. “So we came down here with square card readers and laptops like, ‘Well, here it goes!’” remembers Peredja.

The Den delivery service now works using a mix of high-tech tools like Google forms and square card readers, but also beautifully simple tools like sharpies and bikes for delivery. Students can like the Bobcat Den Delivery Facebook page, which has photos of The Den menu and even the drinks refrigerator, in case one can’t remember what the choices are. The Facebook page also has a link to the order form, a simple Google form with spaces to fill out name, location, phone number, and order.

Once an order is placed, it shows up on Peredja’s or Gonsalves’ laptop. They then place the order in the Den, pick it up, and deliver it to the student. There is a small delivery fee depending on the size of the order: $3.00 for orders less than $8.00, $3.50 for orders $8.00-$14.00, and $4.00 for orders $14.00-$20.00.

“The whole idea and what makes [the Den] let us do this is that we are waiting in line and not overstepping people that actually came in to get food,” says Gonsalves. “They don’t want us to be able to cut in line, so we have to wait for every order.” The service also requires that orders be less than $20.00, so in the case of a larger order, the fee will be greater.

Fine-tuning the details has been a long process for Peredja and Gonsalves but, as Gonsalves says, “It’s working so far.”

Peredja added, “We were pretty sure people were going to like this.  There is no point in talking to all these people and doing all this work if no one wants to order.  So we just tried to check it out and see if people want delivery food and people answered with a resounding ‘yes’, they want it a lot.”

Peredja wishes to stress the invaluable support they have received from the administration, Dining Services, the Den, and Keith Tannenbaum, all of whom gave Peredja and Gonsalves guidance and help.

In the interest of longevity for the service, the important aspects have been the organized, systematic process as well as keeping the customers happy. If an order is messed up, the customer will get something for free.

“We’re delivering happiness, so if people aren’t happy we aren’t delivering,” quips Peredja.

Even with winter approaching, the delivery team is prepared with studded tires for their mountain bikes. As long as the Den is open, they will be delivering happiness to the Bobcat community.

Kelly Mackenzie ’14 praises the delivery service for its organization combined with friendly service. “Not only were they certain to attend to my specific requests, they were prompt, my food was hot, it was reasonably priced, and I got to meet some really nice people.”

There is an ordering app on its way, but for now any Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday students can log into Facebook and go to the Bobcat Den Delivery page for updates and ordering instructions. The page also features the “Hungriest Bobcats of the Week” in its cover photo, a prestigious title that is attainable to different customers each week.

Admirably, Peredja is proud of what he has accomplished regardless of its popularity. “I just wanted to do something.  Maybe you screw up but at least you did something,” says Peredja.  “We’re solving a basic need in a creative and efficient way.”

Seeing red: Cardiovascular disease awareness

This weekend as I was watching my beloved Seattle Seahawks play the Colts, all of the players, referees and fans were sporting pink breast cancer awareness gear.  Across the NFL, teams are supporting the American Cancer Society and working to raise awareness on the importance of regular breast cancer screenings for women, especially over the age of 40.

While this is a very noble cause, and certainly an attention-grabbing way to support the fight against cancer, I would like to note another woman killer that gets a lot less media attention.  I do not mean to belittle the severity of breast cancer in any way, but the reality is that cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women in the United States.  “Women are seven to ten times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer,” said Psychology Professor Su Langdon.

Cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, hypertension and stroke, affects many men and women every year in the United States and is extremely preventable with lifestyle changes.  Coronary artery disease, more commonly known as heart disease, is the cause for one in every four deaths, more than any other condition.

Women are more likely to die from their first heart attack than men, especially because women are less aware that the disease can affect them so they don’t know the warning signs.  Symptoms for women can actually be much less obvious than those experienced by men and include nausea, dizziness, tightening of the jaw, shortness of breath, achiness, and pressure in the chest.

While women are at a greater risk of dying from their first heart attack, their hormones seem to protect women from getting heart attacks at younger ages. Women are told early on and reminded throughout their life, in part thanks to the great job done by the American Cancer Association, to screen for breast cancer. Heart disease becomes more of an issue with age and women aren’t used to watching out for it.

Once a woman goes through menopause, her “good” cholesterol levels may drop and her estrogen levels change, putting her at higher risk for a heart attack or heart disease. This is the time when women need to be extra careful about the lifestyle changes that can prevent a heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases.

The silver lining to the rain cloud of cardiovascular disease is that the risk factors are mostly related to lifestyle, meaning changes can be made to decrease risk relatively effectively.  “Genetics and your gender you can’t change, but a lot of the risk factors you can change,” said Langdon.

People who are at risk can do things like change their diet, exercise more, stop smoking and try to lower their stress to easily reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. People who are aware of the risk factors and symptoms are also more likely to seek medical attention.  If someone misinterprets symptoms or is unable to accept that they are having a heart attack, they may often delay treatment which is ultimately going to make their condition a lot worse.

If more women, and men, were aware of the severity of cardiovascular disease and the ease with which someone can reduce their risk, it would seem that there could be fewer deaths attributed to this disease. Not to say that breast cancer awareness doesn’t deserve to be in the media, I just think that there would be a lot to be gained from also featuring cardiovascular disease.

The sneakiness of a heart attack could be reduced if more people know what the symptoms are.  There is also little knowledge of how common heart attacks and cardiovascular disease is.  Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks made a video on YouTube in which she reflects the views of many saying, “Do I look like someone who would have a heart attack?”

Awareness of breast cancer has brought funds for research and a culture of screening; couldn’t awareness of cardiovascular disease and ways to prevent it save just as many if not more lives?  If the goal of the NFL is to help save women’s lives, I would like to see them wearing red cleats in addition to their pink ones. In terms of saving lives, heart health awareness gets a lot of bang for your buck considering the lifestyle changes that can so easily help prevent cardiovascular disease. So while I love seeing football players decked out in pink gear, it is important to still think about the other killers, like cardiovascular disease, that go under the radar.

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