The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Katharine Sgarro Page 1 of 2

Why you should volunteer at the Blake Street Towers

As a one-month period where many students’ only formal responsibility is one class, short term marks the perfect time to delve into community service projects in the greater Lewiston-Auburn area. One such noteworthy volunteer opportunity is the Blake Street Towers (BST). The Towers is a public residence-housing complex for the elderly and the young disabled of lower socioeconomic means. Every week, Bates students partake in fun activities with the residents – including playing board games, serving brunch or simply enjoying a friendly conversation.

The effort to increase the number of Bates volunteers at BST is currently lead by Matt Gee ’16, a Harward Center Student Volunteer Fellow (SVF). Although all SVFs work as a team, Gee’s primary focus is BST (volunteering at the Towers is part of Gee’s job description). Gee is also responsible for organizing the programs and recruiting volunteers for the Towers.

Specifically, Gee runs two programs a week for BST residents. Thursday afternoon is “game day” (Bates students play board games like Pokeno, Bingo, and Yahtzee with BST residents). On Sunday mornings, Bates students prepare and serve free brunch to the residents. Typically, 3 to 4 Bates students volunteer each day. Gee personally volunteers at BST twice a week.

“Since my second visit to BST I was hooked. I saw how happy the residents were to see us young people and I was determined to do everything that I could to make their lives more pleasant. My experience at BST has been very rewarding, and as an SVF I have gained leadership skills and learned the value of all people no matter what age or disability,” said Gee.

In addition to the weekly activities run by the SVF, in the past a number of Bates’ student organizations have also hosted special events for BST residents. For instance, Bates students have held Roots and Shoots gardening days for the residents. Also, various Bates a cappella groups and the Strange Bedfellows (Bates’ sole improvisational comedy group) have put on performances for the residents. Other past special events include holiday meals and parties. This short term, the Deansmen will be visiting the Towers.

“This short term I am planning a musical performance by a string quartet of Bates students and the Deansmen,” commented Gee.

So why should you volunteer at the Towers? Gee stresses BST’s relaxed and fun nature.

“People should volunteer at BST because it is a low commitment program.  I know that many people want to volunteer but are afraid that if they volunteer once, they will be obligated to go every week. With the BST program, we have had volunteers that only come once to those who come every week. This program is also genuinely fun and rewarding. The “work” consists of playing games, cooking, and talking to people. Volunteers also enjoy seeing the noticeable mood lift in the residents due to their presence,” explained Gee.

While an afternoon of volunteering may not seem like a huge deal to a Bates student, one afternoon can have a substantial impact on one or more BST resident.

“The residents of BST love Bates students, so why not brighten someone’s day?” pointed out Gee.

There are a plethora of reasons to volunteer at the Towers such as lifting someone’s spirit, to relax, to have fun, as a study-break, for a community service project, etc. There are far fewer reasons not to volunteer. Chances are you, as a volunteer, will benefit just as much from your time at the Towers as the BST residents. What do you have to lose?


MEDLIFE: Helping low-income communities in Latin America


Still searching for a rewarding summer experience? Consider Medicine, Education and Development to Low Income Families Everywhere (MEDLIFE) – a non-profit organization devoted to providing low-income communities in Latin America with better access to medicine, education, and community development initiatives. For several years, Bates students have spent their summers with MEDLIFE. This summer, you could be one of them.

In 2005, Nick Ellis of the University of Maine founded MEDLIFE. Today, MEDLIFE has chapters at 48 universities and colleges across the world. Currently, Bates’ chapter is lead by Logan Greenblatt ’14.

“[Ellis] decided to make a difference. I have seen what he has seen; it is time to help others. For my whole life I feel I have had things handed to me. It isn’t fair that people have to live in these kinds of situations. By bringing MEDLIFE to Bates I can share my experiences and hopefully get other students on the train and do what we should do, help,” said Greenblatt.

Greenblatt has already succeeded in inspiring several Bates students to join MEDLIFE including Patrick Tolosky ’15 and Alex Millstrom ’15. Last July, Tolosky and Millstrom traveled to Tena, Ecuador to volunteer in a MEDLIFE mobile clinic.

“For me it was really special, since I speak Spanish well enough to converse quite thoroughly, so I was able to speak directly with the families that we were helping. I even got to perform some physical examinations of children when large families came in to see the doctor I was working with, and, I helped diagnose them with some parasites and other illnesses. That was the coolest part for me, since if I had not been paying attention, or hastily went through the examination, these kids would not have received the care they needed, so my actions were having an immediate effect on these kids and I could see that my presence was doing good right in front of my eyes. I have been very moved by my trip to Tena, and I hope in the future that I can do more trips to come,” said Tolosky.

As Tolosky acknowledges, MEDLIFE is a worthwhile cause for any Bates student. It aims to accomplish three fundamental goals. First, MEDLIFE strives to provide easier access to healthcare in these communities via mobile clinics (in which local and foreign volunteers work together to provide the most efficient care to families).

“Every day of the trip, the volunteer group will travel to a different community, set up camp, and from about 8 or 9 in the morning until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, the group can see anywhere from a couple dozen to a couple hundred individuals. There are different stations that the families will see, including an education station, teaching kids to brush their teeth, seeing a general care physician, a gynecologist, a dentist, and then receiving their needed medications and given instructions at the mobile pharmacy. The system is well structured, and works quite efficiently,” explained Tolosky.

MEDLIFE also emphasizes education. The organization cites lack of basic healthcare knowledge as a major problem in these communities. MEDLIFE aims to address this problem by offering educational presentations in each community it helps.

Lastly, MEDLIFE conducts enduring projects in each community.

“Whether it is a set of latrines to prevent contamination of food or water, or building a set of stairs in a highly traversed area so that people do not fall an injure themselves, these projects look to prevent injury or illness before they can happen,” said Tolosky.

This semester, students have been working on a constitution in the hope to become a formally recognized student group on campus. Their goals are to spread awareness about the many families in need of assistance in Latin America, and to encourage other students to partner with MEDLIFE.

Currently, about a dozen Bates students have expressed interest in joining the MEDLIFE movement this summer. The group is planning to travel to Riobamba, Ecuador to volunteer in a mobile clinic from June 8th through June 16th.

“Each individual person is so important in the effort to help these families in need, the trips will truly change how you see your own life, along with those of the families who are not as fortunate as us, and to be honest, the trips are extremely fun. It is a stress free, happy environment, working with great people to accomplish a meaningful task that will directly help these families. I don’t know why someone wouldn’t want to go,” said Tolosky.

Interested in the cause? There is still time to sign-up to work in a MEDLIFE mobile clinic this summer. The deadline to pay the $100 deposit for the trip is estimated to fall in early or mid-April. Email Tolosky ( with any questions about the organization or the upcoming trip. Consider giving back this summer.

Thinking about fossil fuel divestment

divestment_smallLast Wednesday, March 20th, the Bates Energy Action Movement (BEAM) and the Brooks Quimby Debate Council teamed up for the “divestment debate”. With the debate team’s help, BEAM sought to get more of the Bates community to consider fossil fuel divestment.

The debate was the brainchild of Annie Cravero ’13, the president of BEAM. Approximately 40 students attended the debate. The Mays Center was completely filled – to the point where some interested students had to resort to sitting on the windowsills to watch the debate.

Already, over 250 colleges and universities across the country have taken up the fossil fuel divestment cause. Students around the country are petitioning their administrations to begin investing their schools’ endowments in fossil fuel companies. Currently, BEAM is pushing for the Bates’ administration to divest the college’s endowment from fossil fuel companies. Accordingly, the debate centered on BEAM’s quest for fossil fuel divestment. The debate was structured as the pro-divestment side versus the anti-divestment side.

Two BEAM members, Jordan Becker ’15 and Cravero participated in the debate. They received a crash-course on public speaking before the debate. They were joined by several members of the Bates debate team including Ty Daly ’15, Matt Summers ’15, Kate Fetrow ’13, Ashleen O’Brien ’15, and

Taylor Blackburn ’15. Eric Devaux ’13 served as the convener and organizer of the debate.

“BEAM advocates for fossil fuel divestment and has been trying to raise awareness about the issue on campus for the whole school year. We’ve had many conversations with people about whether divestment would be an effective strategy and whether it’s worthwhile to do. So the debate was a way for us to address some of the questions and/or concerns people have been voicing about divestment and to let more people know about divestment. The debate was a tool that we came up with to educate the Bates community about divestment in general. We are very focused on creating and fostering conversation about this issue, and the debate allowed us to add to that conversation in a formal and public way,” explained Becker.

Therefore, the debate allowed for BEAM to share exactly why they support fossil fuel divestment. It presented an ideal opportunity for BEAM to attempt recruit other students to join them in their quest for fossil fuel divestment.

“BEAM’s main argument of the debate was that Bates is an institution with a moral responsibility to the environment. We cannot ignore this responsibility because it is inconvenient or because we stand to lose a small amount of profit. Choosing not to divest would undermine all the sustainability initiatives that Bates already has taken and would contradict the very words of our mission statement, which explains our ‘commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world’. Bates cannot be willingly complicit with the actions of an industry that will destroy the Earth and kill and displace millions of people,” said Becker.

Overall, the debate was well-received by the Bates community.

“It was great to be a part of the divestment debate. It was also really fun that Annie and Jordan were able to be a part of it. It’s unusual to have a debate that isn’t entirely composed of debaters. They both did really well. Because they know so much about the issue, they had a really nuanced understanding of the questions surrounding divestment and were able to lend a really unique and important voice to the debate,” said Fetrow.

One of the goals of the debate was to shed light on just how complicated the issue of fossil fuel divestment actually is.

“I hope that audience members were able to get a good sense of the main arguments on both sides, and don’t feel that the choice to support or not support divestment is a choice between preferenceing the environment or profit, because in reality it shouldn’t be reduced to a binary, it’s a lot more complex than that,” commented O’Brien.

In addition, participants in the debate hoped to spark more conversation on campus about fossil fuel divestment. They want to get as many members of the Bates community as possible to at least consider the subject.

“I hope this debate continues to stimulate conversation about divestment at Bates. Global climate change is probably the most pressing issue facing our generation, and divestment could be an important crux and focal point of that movement,” observed Fetrow.

However, of course not every aspect of the issue could be covered in one debate and some was left unsaid.

“Something I wish my side (the pro-divestment side) had responded to better was the argument that allowing for investment in fossil fuel companies increases our endowment, and therefore there would free more funds to be channeled towards making Bates itself more carbon-neutral. I think the causal linkage here is missing–the additional profits we make each year are not allocated toward green campus projects. Just because we are making more money does not mean we are spending more money on improving sustainable practices,” said O’Brien.

Mainly, the debate was an attempt to foster conversation about fossil fuel divestment amongst members of the Bates community. If BEAM succeeds in their goals, Bates will switch to divesting the college’s endowment from fossil fuel companies. This is a decision that would impact the entire college community and thus, demands at least consideration from members of the Bates College community.

Defining sexual health: A lecture by Steven Epstein

On Monday, March 18th the Bates community packed the Keck Classroom for Steven Epstein’s lecture titled “Sexual Health as Buzzword: Competing Stakes and Proliferating Agendas”. Epstein is a professor of sociology and the John C. Shaffer professor in the humanities at Northwestern University. The Bates Learning Associates Committee, African American Studies, American Cultural Studies, and Women and Gender Studies co-sponsored the lecture.

Epstein’s lecture reflects the early stages of a book he is currently writing while on sabbatical from Northwestern University. More recently, his work will be featured in a journal article co-authored by Laura Mamo of San Francisco State University.

Epstein opened with the observation that the concept of “sexual health” only dates back a few decades. Yet it is on its way to becoming a “recognized medical subspecialty”. Today, “sexual health” is featured in journal titles, commemorative events (Sexual Health Day), and there is even an app devoted to sexual health. “Sexual health”, Epstein argues, has become a “buzzword”.

Epstein conceptualizes a “buzzword” as possessing two conditions: emergence and proliferation. Emergence is how a concept comes into being and proliferation refers to “buzzword” as a distinctive scholarly topic. A buzzword, Epstein explained, has a compulsory quality – it is something hard to avoid. Everyone can use buzzwords and they can use them in different ways. “We can say ‘buzzword’ has become a buzzword,” joked Epstein.

However, the transformation of sexual health into a buzzword cannot be explained by institutionalization. No single agency or organization owns the term “sexual health”.

“Sexual health now appears to be everywhere but no single meaning prevails,” noted Epstein.

Epstein argued that the multiplicity of meanings attached to sexual health defy any simple attempt to arrive at a singular definition. Sexual health, Epstein stated, has resisted being packaged and standardized in a particular way and instead, has unraveled in different threads of meaning.

Epstein is not the first to acknowledge the perplexity involved in defining sexual health. In 1975 the World Health Organization (WHO) offered a uniform definition for the concept. However, just 12 years later in 1985, the WHO decided sexual health is not definable and then in 2002 the WHO contradicted itself yet again to offer another definition.

Epstein observed that in the 1990s there was a shift in conceptualization of sexual health from emergence to proliferation. The HIV/AIDS epidemic funneled the term into public discourse – sexual health became into a respectful way of addressing health issues. Today, sexual health is everywhere but it continues to lack a singular definition.

“In contrast of any established, stable meaning, sexual health appears to be now ubiquitous but it’s practically unattainable,” stated Epstein.

A primary contribution of Epstein’s emerging work is his 12 threads argument. Epstein highlights 12 distinct sexual health “threads” in the public discourse. His first thread is “sexual health as the surveillance, prevention or treatment of sexually transmitted infections”. This, Epstein argues, is the dominant thread of sexual health.

His other threads include the second thread “sexual health as biomedical practices to treat sexual dysfunction”. This is analogous to “sexual medicine” (i.e. Viagra). This thread embodies the “better than well” philosophy regarding sexual function.

His third thread “sexual health as the management of sexual side effects of medical treatment, especially treatment of various cancers,” is the idea of returning to “sexual normalcy”. For example, correcting side effects of chemotherapy that are inhibiting sexual function.

Epstein’s sixth and seventh threads are noteworthy because they sharply contrast with his eighth thread. His sixth thread “sexual health via the marketing of toys, devices, and other products that produce pleasure,” is tied to the seventh thread, “sexual health as enabled by ‘sexual health education’.

In juxtaposition, is the eighth thread, “sexual health as a conservative discourse”. This thread emphasizes abstinence, healthy relationships, etc.

Epstein’s 12 threads exemplify the plethora of divergent meanings attached to sexual health. Epstein argues that these meanings, while shaped by biomedicine, emerge from a diversity of social actors. Furthermore, discourses about sexual health are intertwined with other discourses including sexual liberation, and reproductive rights. Epstein also points out that sexual health has a “unique cultural force” stemming from its diffusion of meanings and the ability for everyone to be an expert on it.

In his work, Epstein is primarily concerned with how sexual health holds different implications for different actors. Does altering the meaning of the term across cultures, discredit the term? Epstein states not yet but by calling it a “buzzword” we are inviting suspicion in the future. There is the possibility for too many meanings, for the term to become too convoluted, and be eventually rendered useless.

Epstein’s top priority is to study when people use the term “sexual health”, and what they mean when they use it. However, he is always aware of the broader social context – other debates on sexuality are always occurring simultaneously.

Epstein’s lecture begs the question: What really is sexual health? And how many meanings are too many meanings?

CrushList: a chance to find love

Looking for a Gala date? Do you have someone in mind but you’re not sure he or she feels the same way? Let CrushList be your solution.

CrushList is the brainchild of Robert Crampton ‘13 and Jordy Winslow ‘13. “CrushList is an app that matches users who have mutual feelings towards one another. Prior to being matched on CrushList, neither individual was sure how the other felt. CrushList is a medium to connect these individuals without the fear of rejection,” explained Crampton.

Crampton and Winslow decided to create the app about a year ago. They specifically designed CrushList for small communities such as Bates College. “We came up with the idea for the app because apps and websites that have a similar concept do not fulfill the particular niche that CrushList does. Other apps such as Tinder, are created for blind dating and rarely lead to anything substantial. However, CrushList is built for users who already know one another, in a close knit community like Bates, but haven’t yet taken the leap of faith,” said Crampton.

 Crampton and Winslow have elected for the Young Entrepreneurs Club to assist them in releasing the app into the Bates community. This partnership exemplifies the great progress the Young Entrepreneurs Club has made this year.

“We have made great strides this year in the expansion and activity of our club. We hosted two highly successful entrepreneurial talks and are in the midst of having another one before the conclusion of the academic year. Also, we have done well in educating each other about different facets of entrepreneurship during club meetings such as capital raises, marketing, business plans and how to execute them, differentiation, leadership styles, and exit strategies. The biggest foe of any entrepreneur is his or her complacency in life.  With that in mind, the sky is the limit and we will see what the future brings for our club because there is still so much more work to be done,” said Matt Ross ‘13, president of the Young Entrepreneurs Club.

The Young Entrepreneurs Club currently has approximately 12 active members but new members are always welcome. The club is proud to support CrushList.

“The anatomy of our club is simple.  We are constantly thinking of executable businesses that will help and enrich the lives of the awesome community and home I like to call Bates College.  Let’s say we launch a viable company, the generated profits go back into our club’s budget and then are collected at the end of the year by the Bates College Budget Committee and Treasurer. The reason we launch companies is for experience and not to obtain profits for ourselves, but actually for the school and other clubs,” commented Ross.

 Crampton and Ross plan to host a promotional event for their new app with the help of the Young Entrepreneurs Club this Thursday. Their timing couldn’t be better. “We found no better time to release the App than right before Gala. Batesies can select their crushes prior to Gala and can have Gala be the night Bates students connect with their crushes,” said Crampton.

CrushList is sure to benefit the entire Bates community. The app was officially submitted to the iTunes Store on March 11th and is estimated to be available for download (free of charge) on March 18. Don’t miss out on your chance to find out if your Commons crush reciprocates your feelings.

New pope revealed

Wednesday, March 10th 2013 was a monumental day for the world’s approximately 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. At around 8 pm local time in Vatican City, the new pope was officially revealed. The new pope is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He is the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Bergoglio is 76-years-old and hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a pope of many firsts. For instance, Cardinal Bergoglio is the first Jesuit ever to become pope. He is also the first pope ever from the Southern Hemisphere and more specifically, he is the first pope ever to be from Latin America. In the modern age, it was almost inevitable that such a pope would be chosen – since 483 million Roman Catholics reside in this section of the world (approximately 40 percent of the entire Roman Catholic population).

Cardinal Bergoglio was chosen after five votes conducted by the 115 cardinals permitted to vote in this specific election. The cardinals voted once on Tuesday, twice Wednesday morning, and twice more on Wednesday afternoon. Finally, Cardinal Bergoglio was able to receive the two-thirds majority vote (77 votes in this particular election) required to become the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

One of the most important decisions a pope makes comes directly after he is officially announced the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church – the new name selection. Cardinal Bergoglio has chosen “Francis” as tribute to St. Francis of Assisi. This name marks another first for the Roman Catholic Church papacy. Cardinal Bergoglio is the first pope ever to choose this particular name. Some are equating this choice as an indication that Cardinal Bergoglio is determined to unify the Roman Catholic Church. They believe this because Cardinal Bergoglio is a Jesuit priest and Franciscans are the traditional rivals of Jesuits.

Also of noteworthy importance are the surfacing rumors claiming that Pope Francis was the runner-up at the last election for pope. He ultimately lost the papacy in that election to Pope Benedict XVI, who officially took the papacy on April 19, 2005 and resigned on February 28, 2013 due to “lack of strength of mind and body” caused by old age. Apparently, the other cardinals have had Cardinal Bergoglio in mind for quite some time to become leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis made his official introduction to the world from a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. There he spoke his first words to the world.

“[The cardinals] have chosen one from far away, but here I am,” said Pope Francis.

Will Pope Francis be able to successfully reunify the Roman Catholic Church? Will he be able to remove some of the stigma tainting the present day Roman Catholic faith? These are just some of the daunting tasks facing the new pope.

On Friday, March 15th the Bates Catholic Community student group celebrated the selection of the new pope. After 5:30 pm Roman Catholic mass, they hosted a papal celebration in the “fishbowl” in Commons. For students who could not make that particular celebration, they held a separate celebration on Saturday, March 16th in the same location.

As Bates’ Roman Catholics along with the world’s Roman Catholics celebrate a new pope, Pope Francis is busy getting acquainted with his new role. Only time will tell what will bring for this new papacy and the larger Roman Catholic faith.

God wins: Yale triumphs in public debate

On Thursday, March 14th, members of the Bates community gathered in the Gomes Chapel to witness Bates’ Brooks Quimby Debate Council take on the Yale Debate Association (YDA). The motion added another level of controversy and intellectual challenge to the competition. The motion was: This house would prefer a world in which God does not exist. Bates defended the motion and Yale opposed. Yale had God on its side.

The debate consisted of four speeches, a break for audience participation, and rebuttal speeches. Each speech ran for six minutes. Ben Smith ’13, Matt Summers ’15, and Taylor Blackburn ’15 represented Bates.

They were faced with a superstar opponent in the world of college debate. According to its website, the YDA is currently the top ranked collegiate debate team in the world. The first of Yale’s three speakers, Sesenu Woldemariam ’14, was the top-ranked freshman debater in the country two years ago. Yale’s second speaker, Ben Kornfeld ’13, is first team in year standings and the 2012 Harvard Tournament champion along with being a semifinalist at the 2011 World Universities Debate Championships. Yale’s third speaker, Robert Colonel ’13, was the 4th varsity speaker at the 2012 Harvard Tournament and the second half of the best debate duo in the country with Kornfeld.

Smith opened the debate. He set the tone for the debate. If words could kill, both teams would have been dead by the third speech.

“Sloth being one of the three deadly sins, I really hope the opposition doesn’t believe in God tonight,” began Smith, president of the Bates debate team, in a reference to YDA’s late arrival.

Smith’s speech laid out the framework of Bates’ argument. Smith stated that God has let millions suffer – in the Holocaust, world wars, etc. Worse still, millions have cried out for God’s forgiveness.

“How could an all good God turn a deaf ear?” asked Smith.

Woldemariam took the podium. Immediately his voice started climbing and his words rushed out as if a floodgate had just been broken – yet throughout his entire speech, Woldemariam never faltered. Woldemariam argued that some sense of purpose is vital to the psyche and without God, we have no such purpose.

Blackburn stood up and challenged Woldemariam’s claim. Woldemariam then condescendingly undercut Bates’ argument.

“All [Bates] gives you, as Taylor eloquently puts it, is a random universe,” quipped Woldemariam.

Yale’s argument was contingent on this sense of purpose. They asserted that Bates’ argument leaves us with an empty world.

“We fill it [the earth] and we fill it with hope,” finished Woldemariam.

Summers took the podium and rejected that notion that meaning can only come from a higher purpose.

Yale interrupted, stating it was better to have meaning and an afterlife.

Summers countered that a world in which you must ask forgiveness because you are starving is an unjust world. He argued that this cannot be the plan of God.

Kornfeld opened his speech with the assertion that the world is better when those who show good character are rewarded in an afterlife. Without God, Kornfeld stated, we can’t know what is wrong. Colonel argued that those who are punished are punished for a reason.

“This is where we win this debate. Given that people are starving: Wouldn’t you rather those people starving, starve for some reason and be rewarded in the afterlife than for no purpose?” challenged Kornfeld.

An invitation was extended to the audience to lend their thoughts to the debate. The chapel was silent. It is hardly surprising that no one was bold enough to follow any of these world-class debaters. Finally a questioned was offered, and it was decided it would be incorporated into the rebuttals.

Blackburn took the podium. She opened calling Yale “marvelous friends” and “wonderful opponents”. However, her tone quickly changed.

“I have spent a lot of time with these gentlemen and none of them is going to the Heaven they think is so worthwhile,” Blackburn jested.

Her witticism was met with the audience’s approving cheers. Blackburn continued to think of the motion in terms of the Sims videogame. She argued that Sims is the closest we come to playing God. She observed that often we force our Sims to suffer for our own sick amusement. Blackburn claimed that it is better if such suffering is random and human instead of planned and divine.

Kornfeld rose for Yale. He contended that there is a difference between the good debaters do and the good Catholic missionaries do in the third world.

“Are only Catholic missionaries doing good in the third world?” responded Blackburn.

Blackburn concluded with the observation that many of us do things deemed immoral. She challenged Yale’s conception of morality on the basis that if such a strict morality existed, the majority of us would “be screwed”. Blackburn argued that it hardly makes sense that a benevolent God would make us play a game we are set to lose. The audience roared as Colonel approached the podium.

“Taylor, we actually don’t like you guys at all…Taylor gives us a very riveting story of how she plays Roller Coaster Tycoon. Fortunately, she is not God,” joked Colonel.

Colonel argued that the real value of God is in the clarity his existence provides. He stated that the existence of suffering provides the necessary contrast for us to understand what is good. The question is: Are they getting what they deserve? Colonel contended that this question can only be answered if God exists.

As the debate drew to a close, it was unclear who had won. Both sides had put on a compelling show – every debater had been animated, passionate, and most importantly, convincing. It was clear no one envied Columbia debater Reid Bagwell, who was charged with the difficult task of choosing a winner.

“Normally, I feel compelled to give it to the home team but tonight there are two home teams –Bates and this guy (he pointed up),” said Bagwell.

After several minutes of deliberation, Bagwell gave the round to Yale. Or did he? Really it seems Bagwell gave the round to God.

Crowdvance: fundraising made easier

Does your student organization need money? Consider Crowdvance – new fundraising software designed by students at the George Washington University. The site was built specifically to give undergraduate student organizations a fresh and easy way to raise revenue for club activities. The site is already used by student organizations at over 500 universities around the country. Each active campaign generates on average between $500 and $1500 dollars. Currently, Crowdvance is interested in expanding to the NESCAC. Bates has the potential to be the first NESCAC to partner with the company.

Crowdvance was started after students at the George Washington University won the university’s Business Plan Competition in 2012.

After struggling with fundraising for all of the student organizations we were involved with, we wanted to come up with a way for student organizations to fundraise more efficiently and effectively so that they could accomplish more of their goals in the community. The traditional bake sales, restaurant nights, etc. have costs that can eat up anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of whatever funds are brought in, and the fundraisers damage relationships with supporters over time because they aren’t rewarding or engaging,” said Dylan Fox, a current senior at the George Washington University, and the founder and CEO of Crowdvance.

Joining Crowdvance is simple. Any student organization is eligible to register an account on the Crowdvance website ( Then organizations are free to create a customized fundraising page and use this page to collect donations.

“Crowdvance partners with national companies so that when a donor makes a donation to any organization collecting funds on Crowdvance, that donor can choose up to 4 exclusive deals to any of the companies Crowdvance has partnered with. These deals are good for things like food delivery, concert tickets, pro sports tickets, textbook rentals, a ton more. The organization can monitor the progress of their fundraiser right from their dashboard on the Crowdvnace website, and can withdraw the funds they raise whenever they want,” explained Fox.

Crowdvance sets itself apart from other fundraising initiatives by specifically focusing on the fundraising needs of student organizations. The company believes that more generic fundraising models are simply incompatible with the unique needs of student organizations.

“Other online fundraising tools are really just donation collection tools. That model doesn’t really work for student organizations though. If it was as easy as telling people where to send their funds, either by check or online, student organizations wouldn’t need to host fundraisers like bake sales or t-shirt sales in the first place. Crowdvance is a fundraising tool, not just a donation collection tool. With Crowdvance, student organizations are able to reward their donors with real value, keeping donors engaged, and keeping the fundraising process frictionless. This means wider audiences of potential donors are more likely to be captured, and donors are more likely to stay involved with the organization over a long period of time because the fundraising process was actually rewarding for them,” commented Fox.

In addition, Crowdvance is dedicated to providing personal service to all of its registered student organizations. The company is committed to helping each student organization use Crowdvance as effectively as possible.

“Part of the team at Crowdvance is strictly dedicated to getting on the phone with every organization that sets up a fundraiser to learn more about their goals, to give them support and tips on how to be more successful using such a new tool, and to just provide support throughout entire process to make it easier and more fun,” said Fox.

Crowdvance is an exciting innovation in today’s hard-pressed economy. Perhaps the best thing about the site, is the fact that it is designed by students for students. Student leaders on campus looking to generate more revenue through fundraising should seriously consider registering with Crowdvance.

Introducing Bates United

bates united logoFrom its founding in 1855, Bates has been committed to inclusivity and equality. Bates was the first coeducational college in New England. One of Bates’ newest student organizations, Bates United, seeks to honor this tradition. Bates United focuses on addressing issues of diversity on campus and bringing the entire community together. Specifically, the club’s mission is:

“To create an open forum to facilitate interactions that encourage unity on campus”. This new organization is a manifestation of Bates’ commitment to inclusion and pushes the Bates community to honor this crucial piece of the institution’s mission statement.

Bates United officially became a student organization in January 2013. The club was inspired by a conversation between its cofounders Jourdan Fanning ’16 and Jeremy Mack ’16.

“I live in Parker, and ran into Jeremy in passing one day. After an invigorating conversation about diversity, at Bates, I told him of an idea I had to start a group that focused on those very issues. He and I then began to draft the concept for Bates United,” explained Fanning.

The pair was further encouraged to start the club after they attended a forum hosted by students of Emily Kane’s sociology course entitled “Privilege, Power, and Inequality”. There, the community’s interest in diversity was confirmed.

“After [the forum] we were further encouraged from discovering that many people on campus have the same questions and concerns centering around issues of diversity, or a lack thereof, at Bates,” said Fanning.

Fanning and Mack view it as primarily the students’ job to guarantee Bates remains devoted to inclusion and community. They argue it is not enough to rely on the institution’s roots.

“Bates is, in my opinion, a co-existingly diverse school. However, cohesiveness and interactiveness is not necessarily a given, just based on that diversity, and is something that – as a campus – needs to be worked upon. Many look to administration for solutions for problems of diversity. However, this campus is our home, even after faculty and staff leave work for the day. We are the ones that have to experience Bates 24/7,” commented Fanning.

Therefore, Bates United enhances the Bates community by actively reminding students to be aware of diversity and inclusion. In this spirit, the club is open to all students – the main purpose is “to unify the entire student body”.

The club envisions a truly open and integrated student body. Bates United is devoted to making everyone feel comfortable on campus.

“Bates United seeks to acknowledge and create discourse about the various forms of social division that occur on our campus, and to work towards solutions to these issues. No one should feel unwelcome at particular events, whether social or academically, at Bates,” said Fanning.

After three campus-wide meetings, the club has already attracted 15 consistent members. This semester the club is striving to solidify their group membership and start to gain more name recognition throughout campus.

Bates United encourages every student to come experience the club first-hand. Any interested student is welcome at any of the club’s weekly meetings. The meetings are held every Sunday at 6 PM in Pettengill Hall, Room G65.

Bates beats Colby

Fundraising has never been so critical for Bates. As the Student Government sponsored budget forum in February confirmed, Bates is in serious need of more financial assets. Recognizing this need, the Bates fundraising team decided to accept Colby College’s invitation to join “The Senior Gift March Mania” competition this year. The “Beat Colby” posters displayed throughout campus are advertisements of this effort. Although not intended to be the campaign headline, the slogan successfully mobilized the Class of 2013 to donate – if for nothing other than to defeat one of the college’s main rivals. It is official: Bates beat Colby.

The Senior Gift March Mania competition spanned from Friday, March 1st to Thursday, March 7th. It pitted Bates seniors directly against Colby seniors with the goal of determining which college could reach the highest rate of Senior Gift participation. Bates’ class of 2013 was encouraged to show their support by emails, a mailing, and Facebook events outlining the purpose of the competition. Bates trustee Quoc Tran ’95 further motivated the senior class by pledging to donate $1,000 dollars to the Bates Fund if Bates did in fact beat Colby. In the end, Bates came out on top.

Bates garnered a 29 point increase in our senior gift campaign – increasing the class of 2013 participation to 83 percent for the year. While Colby garnered a 6 point increase in participation to make their class of 2013 participation 61 percent,” said Nina Emmi ’10, Assistant Director of Annual Giving/Student Programs at Bates.

The campaign led by senior gift co-chairs, Nancy Weidner ‘13 and Hank Geng ’13 was a great success. Throughout the week, they were able to collect 131 gifts.

“The campaign has been incredibly successful thanks to all the amazing and hardworking Senior Gift committee members, as well as a senior class whose gratitude towards Bates shines through in their willingness to donate. As of yesterday, we have the second highest Senior Gift participation rate in Bates history, and we are on track to beat the Class of 2012’s all-time record of 87 percent. So overall, I would say that the week has been very successful and we are happy with how we did!” said Geng.

The money raised from this effort will go to the Bates Fund. It is important to note that the Bates Fund is distinct from the endowment. For instance, if a $100 dollar gift is made to the endowment Bates only spends $5 dollars of that gift. However, if that same gift is donated to the Bates Fund the college will spend the entire $100 dollars that year. The Bates Fund is used for immediate expenses (academic resources, financial aid, library expenses, electricity, etc.) and made up 6.8 percent of the college budget in fiscal year 2013. Also, the Bates Fund has to be raised every single year while the endowment is more stable.

“The Senior Gift is an unrestricted monetary gift to the Bates Fund, which serves an opportunity for the Class of 2013 to make its first philanthropic mark on Bates. By making a gift to Bates through the Bates Fund, seniors join alumni, parents and friends in providing essential financial support Bates needs. A robust Bates Fund preserves the value of a Bates education by ensuring that future students have the same great opportunities on campus, Bates will remain an elite and desirable institution. Strong alumni, parent and student support will show prospective students and the incoming first-years that we care about the college’s future,” explained Emmi.

Senior Gift March Mania competition was inspired by the broader March Mania competition. This competition is still going on and requires Batesies to continue demonstrating support.

Bates alumni in the youngest ten classes (Bobcats of the Last Decade or BOLD) compete against Colby, Connecticut College and Trinity every March in a March Mania competition to see who can garner the most support for their college. Also, you can see the current results of the month long young alumni competition at,” said Emmi.

March Mania officially commenced on March 1, 2013. Currently, the results indicate we are beating Colby again. The order as of March 9, 2013 is: Connecticut College (148 donors), Bates (135 donors), Colby (70 donors), and Trinity (66 donors). Yet, the competition is far from over. Donations are accepted through April 1, 2013.

Therefore, it is crucial for Batesies to continue to donate. Bates’ recent victory in The Senior Gift March Mania competition indicates that the college is more than capable of generating revenue. In the context of Bates’ low endowment, it has never been more important for Bates to continue to beat Colby.

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