The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Margy Schueler

Maintaining Our Wild Tongues

Each year, the observance of the Martin Luther King holiday honors the life of an instrumental figure of the civil rights movement. It also acts as a day to celebrate our shared diversity and spread awareness of contemporary social issues. The theme of Bates’ 2019 MLK observance, “Lifting Every Voice: Intersectionality and Activism.” The title of one workshop under this theme was “How to Maintain Our Wild Tongues: Language Diversity and Language Rights in Policy and Practice,” and was derived from an essay by Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s called, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” in her provocative work Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.
Faculty and students involved in the Bates Writing Center and Academic Resource Commons ran the workshop. In her introduction, Assistant Director of Writing at Bates Stephanie Wade said, “In my work I’ve noticed a big gap between what the research and what the policies say about language diversity.” The other facilitators echoed Wade’s observations and aimed to fill in the gap by creating greater awareness of language diversity staring with the Bates students and community members assembled at the workshop.
Sophomore Sarah Raphael ’21 began the morning by delivering a presentation on the roots of American English. Raphael discussed how geographic barriers allowed different dialects of Germanic English to evolve in Europe, and the effect the slave trade had on influencing the English language in the United States.
“It’s not a coincidence that we speak differently than [other] areas. We have ancestors from different parts of the world and they have influenced how we speak and how we accept the languages that we speak,” noted Raphael. Some surprising statistics were also shared, including: before colonization, there were more than 300 indigenous languages spoken by Native Americans, and over 70 million Americans speak a language other than English at home today.
The loss of language diversity directly coincided with the arrival of white settlers in North America. Stephanie Wade reported that missionaries and colonizers “[Connected] the practice of taking a land with taking the language and culture of the local people.” Many people have and still choose to ignore the influence of other languages and dialects on English, when according to Wade, “The English language at its core is a language that’s composed of many different dialects.”
One of these dialects that makes up the English language is African American Vernacular English (AAVE), formerly known as Ebonics. In an “MTV Decoded” video shown at the workshop, the show’s host Franchesca Ramsey explains the origins and stigmatization of AAVE in the episode, “Why Do People Say ‘AX’ Instead of ‘ASK?’”
According to Ramsey, AAVE finds its origins from slavery and communication between slaves who did not share the same language. Today, AAVE is commonly associated with lower and middle class black populations. Despite popular belief, AAVE isn’t “just misspeaking,” but rather has an alternative grammar system. Language stigma is derived from racism and classism which is fortified by mainstream media and academics.
Code switching is a practice that in the past has been championed by schools and used by members of society who speak languages or dialects different from Standard American English (SAE). Code switching is the idea that a person moves between two different languages or dialects based on their audience or the context of a situation. Although code switching can seem to honor diversity and legitimacy of different types of English dialects and languages, at its core it promotes a hierarchy of language.
For instance, a student may use AAVE in a social situation, but be expected to use SAE for a school presentation. Additionally, self-esteem issues have the opportunity to manifest.
Code meshing as a counter to code switching is the practice of moving between one or more languages or dialects in the same sentence or situation. Code meshing does not require the compartmentalizing of languages, and reduces the perpetuation of racism through language stigma. Wade sums up research regarding language diversity, “Literacy experts have come to the conclusion that home languages and dialects are inherently as valuable as the conventional English that is typically taught in school.”
The workshop concluded with the creation of a collective action tree. Participants of the workshop defined their values regarding language rights and proposed actions to generate their desired outcomes. At Bates we ought to be committed to the encouragement of the use of multiple dialects and languages, but members of the workshop see places in the community where the commitment can be strengthened. If you want to get involved in promoting language diversity in the Bates community or elsewhere, get in touch with the Bates Writing Center.

Get Connected With the Harward Center


If your interests lie with assisting those with disabilities, then you may want to get involved in the Social Learning Center Friendship Program. Bates students get the chance to form a one-on-one connection with a member of the Social Learning Center. Coordinator Maddy Shmalo ’19 described the program as “A very rewarding experience.” The friendships acquired can be gratifying for all parties involved.

George Steckel ’19 has been involved with the Harward Center for all of his time here at Bates and characterizes the center as a family. Steckel is in charge of the Book Buddies program which entails reading to early-elementary aged children who might not have access to books outside of school.

To discover the wide assortment of ongoing and onetime community programs outside of this selection, you can go to the Harward Center website and visit the opportunities page. Contact the community outreach fellows for information if you would like to participate in any of these programs. Most of the locations of the programs can be reached using the Service Learning Shuttle for Community Engaged Learning (CEL) which leaves outside of Chase Hall.

Funded summer opportunities are also available through the Harward Center. The Center has generated a list of non-profit organizations in Lewiston and Auburn that Bates students can spend the summer working for. Students are also encouraged to bring their own ideas for community-engaged experiences that align with their interests. For 8 to 10 weeks or full-time work up, to $4,000 can be earned. For more information, students can visit the Harward Center and speak with Peggy Rotundo. The deadline for applications is March 18.

Students can get involved off-campus in numerous ways. To get on the Community Links email list if you are not already, send an email to Marty Deschaines. The Center encourages students to take community-engaged courses at Bates or participate in community-engaged research. Approximately 50 seniors every year complete their thesis or capstone project in relation to community-engagement.


Bates is fortunate to be situated in the diverse and vibrant Lewiston-Auburn community, and there are a multitude of ways to engage with the members and organizations of L-A. As George Steckel put it, “When you come to Bates, your home becomes Lewiston.”

Get Connected With the Harward Center

The frigid temperatures did not stop students from attending the Harward Center open house this past Friday, January 11, to learn about the Center’s many opportunities. The purpose of the event was to connect or reconnect students with the off-campus community for the upcoming semester. Information about funded summer activities was also given.

The Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships strives to promote civic awareness and action in Lewiston-Auburn and the wider world. The director of the Harward Center, Darby Ray, remarked that the goal of the Center is to “help the Bates community to connect with the outside community.” Students can access community-engaged activities through various facets of Bates, including; academic courses, research, dorm life, athletic teams, and clubs. The Harward Center will make connections between volunteer programs and students’ interests, academic or otherwise. “We are kind of like a matchmaker,” added Ray.

Casey Kelley ’21 is a community outreach fellow. She notes, “It’s really important to be involved in the community where you live.” Kelley is the coordinator for Art Programming. These programs include weekly opportunities with the ArtVan and at Hillview Family Development to work with low income youth on art projects.

If your interests lie with assisting those with disabilities, then you may want to get involved in the Social Learning Center Friendship Program. Bates students get the chance to form a one-on-one connection with a member of the Social Learning Center. Coordinator Maddy Shmalo ’19 described the program as “A very rewarding experience.” The friendships acquired can be gratifying for all parties involved.

George Steckel ’19 has been involved with the Harward Center for all of his time here at Bates and characterizes the center as a family. Steckel is in charge of the Book Buddies program which entails reading to early-elementary aged children who might not have access to books outside of school.

To discover the wide assortment of ongoing and onetime community programs outside of this selection, you can go to the Harward Center website and visit the opportunities page. Contact the community outreach fellows for information if you would like to participate in any of these programs. Most of the locations of the programs can be reached using the Service Learning Shuttle for Community Engaged Learning (CEL) which leaves outside of Chase Hall.

Funded summer opportunities are also available through the Harward Center. The Center has generated a list of non-profit organizations in Lewiston and Auburn that Bates students can spend the summer working for. Students are also encouraged to bring their own ideas for community-engaged experiences that align with their interests. For 8 to 10 weeks or full-time work up, to $4,000 can be earned. For more information, students can visit the Harward Center and speak with Peggy Rotundo. The deadline for applications is March 18.

Students can get involved off-campus in numerous ways. To get on the Community Links email list if you are not already, send an email to Marty Deschaines. The Center encourages students to take community-engaged courses at Bates or participate in community-engaged research. Approximately 50 seniors every year complete their thesis or capstone project in relation to community-engagement.

Bates is fortunate to be situated in the diverse and vibrant Lewiston-Auburn community, and there are a multitude of ways to engage with the members and organizations of L-A. As George Steckel put it, “When you come to Bates, your home becomes Lewiston.”

B’tayavon!: Professor David Freidenreich highlights how food defines religious differences

Many of us were fortunate enough to have shared a meal with friends and family this past Thanksgiving. For most Americans, what defines the holiday is the preparation and ultimate consumption of food with family. In return, the holiday has defined what makes Americans American. Identity is powerful, and oftentimes people use food to distinguish their own identities and the identities of others, as is the case with Americans and Thanksgiving.

On November 13 in Pettengill Hall, Professor David Freidenreich discussed how food and religious identity are intertwined. In his talk, he sought to unwrap some of the ideas about what makes food Jewish and how Jewish food is used to distinguish it from other religions in his lecture titled, “Food and Jewishness: Jewish, Christian and Islamic Perspectives.” Freidenreich is the Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby College and the author of the book, “Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law.”
At the beginning of his talk, Freidenreich asked the audience to consider these questions, “What makes food Jewish in the first place? And why, given that definition of whatever Jewish food means, should you make a point of eating it, or perhaps of not eating it?”

Professor Freidenreich proceeded to answer his own queries by drawing from various authors in the field of religious academia: “They all agree that the difference between Jews and non-Jews matters. They also agree that food is an ideal medium to express and emphasize this distinction between Jews and non-Jews, even though the distinction itself really isn’t about food at all.”
Even though the real difference between the Jewish religion and other religions doesn’t pertain to food, restrictions surrounding food are used to set apart the Jewish from the non-Jewish. According to Freidenreich, Christians and Muslims also use ideas about Jewish food to set themselves apart from each other and from Jews.

Freidenreich used a hypothetical scenario, or what he called the start of a bad joke, to demonstrate the beliefs of various religions pertaining to food. The premise: a rabbi, a Catholic priest, a Sunni imam, and a Shia imam walk into a cafeteria. All adhere to the medieval food-related restrictions of their respective religions from the past. In this situation, the rabbi would order a salad and would worry whether the cook was Jewish. The rabbi would order the salad to avoid biblically prohibited foods such as shellfish and pork and to make sure that it wasn’t transformed by non-Jewish persons.

According to Freidenreich, the Catholic priest would refuse to eat any food if the cook was Jewish and would refuse to eat with the rabbi. Per Freidenreich, the archetypical Christian, while not facing religious dietary restrictions, would refuse to sit with the rabbi in order to avoid being led astray by his supposed false interpretations of the Bible.
The Shia imam, in his example, would order a salad and would sit at their own table. The Shia imam would renounce the food practices of Christians and Jews as a means of distancing their own religion from the others. This appeals to the stereotype of Shias refusing to eat food tainted by Christians and Jews because it would transmit impurity.

In Freidenreich’s demonstration, only the Sunni imam would be able to eat any of the food selections, and would be able to sit with the Rabbi. Sunnis would be tolerant of all of the food because they believe that legitimizing Christianity and Judaism makes the circle larger of those who believe in certain fundamental principles of Islam. This reinforces the idea that all Muslims have access to God.
The only common denominator between the religious leaders in this long, complicated, and somewhat inflammatory scenario is their concern for the Jewishness of their food. The multitude of rules and regulations concerning food distinguishes and separates the religions. As Freidenreich put it, “Rules about who you can’t eat with reinforce identity and social hierarchies in powerful ways,” and tell us that “the divide between us and them should not be bridged.” Even though the food regulations in the Torah are rather insignificant, they have far-reaching global impacts.

Over all, Freidenreich wanted the number one takeaway from his lecture to be that identity matters, and food can be used to distinguish identities.

Something’s in the Air: Men’s Soccer adds to success with overtime Trinity defeat

Reminiscent of a year ago, the Bates men’s soccer team found themselves in double overtime this past Saturday, Sept. 29, against the Trinity Bantams. Thanks to a game winning goal by team captain Peder Bakken ’20 109 minutes into the game, Bates walked away victorious, besting their draw against Trinity last year.

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