The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Sophie Mackin

#MeToo Means Who?

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in keeping with the theme of intersectional activism, Bates students explored the issue of sexual violence against marginalized groups and the ways in which we can support women as well as LGBTQ people whose stories have been ignored. So many people showed up for the “#MeToo means Who?” panel that the faculty had to find a larger space on campus in order to fit everyone. Once settled in the new room, Professor Melinda Plastas, Professor Emily Kane, Professor Carolina González Valencia, and Professor Leslie Hill, as well as Gender and Sexuality Studies major Paula Espinosa Alarcon ’19, led an interactive discussion, pushing the audience to reevaluate the power structures that enable sexual misconduct in this country and around the world.
The panelists began by asking the audience about their expectations for the talk and if there were any particular topics they wanted to tackle. Several people expressed interest in addressing the #MeToo movement outside the scope of Bates and other institutions of higher education, emphasizing events such as the Women’s Marches as well as issues of inclusivity. Professor Hill echoed these goals, saying, “There has yet to be a broad conversation about the #MeToo movement on Bates’ campus. And it is important especially to talk about it in a framework of intersectional feminism.”
Professor Hill then opened up the presentation by asking, “What are the structural, ideological, material, cultural, and social conditions that make people vulnerable to sexual assault and violence?”
Professor Plastas was the first to present on some of the historical conditions that have contributed to vulnerability. Specifically, she wanted to draw attention to the role that black women have played in speaking out against instances of sexual violence throughout history.
Professor Hill described the ways in which their stories have served as the centerpieces in efforts of organized activism. From the era of slavery to Rosa Parks’ activism during the Civil Rights Movement to the Free Joan Little Campaign in 1974 to the recent #SayHerName movement and Tarana Burke’s promotion of #MeToo, black women have been passionate activists and fought adamantly to end the culture of sexual violence throughout a variety of social and political environments.
Gender and Sexuality Studies major Alarcon then continued to speak about the power of social protest and pointed to the #NiUnaMenos (NotOneLess) movement that took place in 2015 in Argentina. The murder of 14-year-old Chiara Perez, who had been pregnant and was found buried in her boyfriend’s yard, sparked mass mobilization and soon an international movement through social media.
The hashtag became a platform for advocating gender equality issues like the legality of abortion, workers’ rights, and transgender rights. Alarcon argued that this campaign was a great example of intersectional activism due to its inclusion of transgender and non-binary voices as well the strategies it provided for other similar movements in other parts of South America.
Professors González Valencia and Kane then brought the discussion back to the United States and the ways in which cultures of unequal power are perpetuated by workplace norms here. Professor González Valencia, the proud daughter of a domestic worker, explained that Title VII laws have neglected to protect domestic workers since they only regulate employers that have more than fifteen workers. For example, domestic workers have no HR department to go to for help with language barriers, family issues, or reports of sexual assault. They are isolated in their work and struggle to mobilize for change without an organized community to lean on. Though nonprofits and advocacy groups have been springing up in the past three years, there is still so much more to be done to improve their rights.
We need to remember to stand up for those who are not in the spotlight and foster a sense of solidarity whenever possible. Professor Kane cited the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the National Farmworkers Women’s Alliance, as a great example of a group whose moral courage was a step toward building a network for change. In the wake of all the accounts about Harvey Weinstein, the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas wrote to the women in Hollywood who were sharing their stories to assure them that they were believed and had similarly been suffering in silence for a long time. Their letter, titled “Dear Sisters,” was incredibly courageous, as they were undoubtedly risking their present and future job positions in writing it.
To wrap up, Professor Hill asked the audience to expand on our considerations of vulnerability and examine the power imbalances that exist in the spaces we inhabit. “Work can’t only take place in the context of organizations, nonprofits, and institutions. We need to talk about what we can do to help those who are vulnerable get their voices heard.”

Winter Club Fair: It’s never too late!

It’s a new semester—which means more chances to get involved at Bates. On Wednesday, Jan. 9, over forty of Bates’ clubs and organizations gathered in Chase Hall to educate students about their plans for the winter and recruit more members. The Office of Campus Life sponsors this mid-year club fair as a low-stress alternative to the noisy crowds at the Gray Cage during the first week of fall semester.
“The fall club fair can be a little bit overwhelming. The Gray Cage can get really loud, and even though it’s very exciting, we wanted to do a mid-year one that was more relaxed and had a less intimidating atmosphere,” explained Jen Haugen, Coordinator of Campus Life Programming.
Club leaders and representatives set up tables in four different rooms throughout Chase Hall: Chase Lounge, Skelton Lounge, Memorial Commons, and Hirasawa Lounge. This set-up allowed students to stroll leisurely and easily seek out the groups they were interested in—each room was also paired with different pizza varieties.
With a better grasp of their time management skills, first-years can be more strategic and thoughtful about which clubs they choose to sign up for. “We realize that first-years now know their schedule and how much they can handle, so they won’t end up just putting their emails down for everything,” added Haugen.
Many of Bates’ clubs and organizations have exciting plans for the upcoming semester. For example, the Ballroom Club is looking forward to their performance at Gala in March. “I think we have a bigger group than we did last year, so we’re really excited about it,” said the club’s vice president, Joan Buse ’21.
The Ballroom Club practices several times a week and competes about four times a year. They focus primarily on rumba, cha-cha, swing, waltz, foxtrot, and tango. When asked why she joined, Jina McCullough ’20 explained: “I’ve been dancing for 19 years and finding a club that allows me to explore different kinds of dancing has been so fun. Everyone in the club is pretty close – even if they’re from different years – because we spend so much time together.” The Ballroom Club always welcomes new members, regardless of experience level.
Another club hoping to perform at Gala is the Circus Club. Ben Hoffinger ’22 joined Circus Club at the beginning of the year and speaks highly of his experience so far. “My favorite thing about the club is how willing all the experienced circus folks are to teach you brand new skills and elements of circus that you’re unfamiliar with. For instance, I learned how to walk on stilts just last semester,” he explained. Circus Club meets on Sundays and encourages everyone to come join the fun.

“If you’re interested in anything related to juggling, stilting, or unicycling and just want to give it a shot, come try it out with us even if you have zero circus experience.”
Other clubs have their eye on events coming up very soon. For example, Filmboard is screening the film Sorry to Bother You on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next week. Timothy Kaplowitz ’20 describes the film as both critically adored and potentially divisive. “I think it will lead to a lot of discussion and I’m really interested in seeing what the reception will be at Bates,” Kaplowitz adds. Everyone is invited to attend both the film as well as the discussion panel with Bates professors that will follow.
If you’re a movie buff or are interested in screening and discussing a specific movie, the Filmboard is the club for you! “At a typical film board meeting, we’ll be deciding on movies to bring in for screenings and planning events for the future. Mostly, we’re just hanging out and talking about movies,” explained the club’s president, David Unterberger ’19.
In addition, there are several new clubs that are looking forward to building their presence on campus. Astronomy Club is new to Bates this year and eager for more members. “Right now, we’re looking to get funding for a telescope for public events, so we’ve been doing a lot of planning for that as well as assigning positions and discussing future events,” explained the club’s president, Andy Kelly ’21. When asked who the ideal member for the club, the club’s vice president, Carolyn Snow ’21, replied, “Anyone with any interest in space should join. I haven’t actually taken an astronomy course here at Bates, but I just really like space.”
Clearly, there are many exciting opportunities for extracurricular life at Bates. Don’t miss out and take the time this semester to attend some events or meetings for clubs you’ve never heard of.

Celebrating Amelia Wilhelm ‘18: Bates Rower earns finalist distinction for NCAA Woman of the Year

Every day at Bates, close to half of the student population has to juggle the commitments of a varsity sports team in addition to their academic obligations. These student-athletes must foster great time management skills in order to balance homework and studying with practices, games, and hosting recruits. Their ability to use their time so efficiently should be commended

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