On any given summer night at roughly 1:00 in the morning, you are apt to find Shane Moore ‘21 at the Portland Denny’s typing furiously on his computer. At this establishment, says Shane, is where he and his high school friend Gus wrote a sizeable portion of their six month long project—a 325 page anthology—aptly titled “Musings of the Basement Pigeon: A Treatise on Common Existence” —which relates grand philosophical concepts to personal anecdotes from the authors.
“What it really is,” says Shane, is satire. ““What it really is, is satire. I mean, when we were writing it—we’ve been writing this thing for quite some time now—[Gus] and I had this philosophy class in high school, and we started talking about it over the summer and we started writing this thing. We figured if we could take, you know, kind of weird but funny or interesting little experiences we’ve had, and go really deeply into them, it would scratch the surface of some kind of base level philosophy stuff. And it’s all absurd… it’s all satire. Because nobody wants to sit down and read some heavy philosophy.”
The two were prompted to tackle complex philosophical concepts after taking a required theology course at their Catholic high school, which primarily centered around questions of ethics. Moore hopes that the book’s quotidian analysis of concepts like absurdism and nihilism will stoke the interests of layman philosophers. “I don’t really expect anyone to have some sort of [philosophical] revelation. If somebody can just read it and enjoy it, even if you don’t agree with what I’m talking about or saying, or you think whatever we’re saying is ridiculous, you still get some enjoyment out of it. Enjoyment out of something meaningless—that’s absurd philosophy right there.”
For Moore, the experience has been edifying on both a personal and academic level. “At the very least,” he remarked, “I think I’ve become much more perceptive to what’s going on. Even just sitting around not even thinking about the book maybe, I just have these experiences now where I’m paying attention to something that’s going on over there and I think that’s something I could write about. Beyond that, I think my writing has improved.” While the work is currently unpublished, The Bates Student has published an excerpt wherein Moore reflects on death, existence, and squirrels on the drive from Portland to Lewiston.
For the last few months I have been wonderfully content, and would have remained so, had it not been for the events of the last few days. Allow me to provide a bit of helpful context. This is being written a few days after I moved back to college. In the spirit of efficiency, highway travel is required. While on the highway, I noticed a number of dead squirrels on the side of the road. This was not wholly out of the ordinary. We continued on the highway. I began to notice many more dead squirrels. After the fifth squirrel, I sat up. I began to pay greater attention. At dead squirrel number 7, my vision began to blur, warping in and out of focus, and my hearing began to sound muffled. At dead squirrel number 10, the color of the leaves on the roadside trees began to change from green to orange and yellow, and then back to green again. At dead squirrel number 12, every radio station not overcome with static was playing “Jungle Boogie”, by the terrifically popular funk band Kool & The Gang, and nothing else. By squirrel 15, my hearing was gone completely, and I began to experience extraordinarily vivid hallucinations. At squirrel 17, I began to sweat. At squirrel 18, I lost consciousness. When I again entered this reality, I had arrived at my destination. I felt somewhat normal again, and brushed off my unconsciousness by saying I had taken a nap. I continued the day as normal. I did not think about the squirrels anymore. I do not want to think about the squirrels. I am sure I will have another encounter with one sooner than would be favorable. Perhaps not. I still wonder why they challenge the cars. Would you, if you were a squirrel? Would I?
Category: News Page 1 of 6
On any given summer night at roughly 1:00 in the morning, you are apt to find Shane Moore ‘21 at the Portland Denny’s typing furiously on his computer. At this establishment, says Shane, is where he and his high school friend Gus wrote a sizeable portion of their six month long project—a 325 page anthology—aptly titled “Musings of the Basement Pigeon: A Treatise on Common Existence” —which relates grand philosophical concepts to personal anecdotes from the authors.
As college tuitions are at an all time high, many students both at Bates and abroad are forced to ask themselves when applying to colleges what they intend on doing with a liberal arts degree or a humanities major. Many high school and college students worry that they won’t be able to make a return on their investment, or worse, that they’ll be stuck to work an unfulfilling career. While these issues seem more prevalent than ever, the worries are not new. On Friday, March 14, Carolyn Ryan ‘86, a former English major and current Assistant Editor at The New York Times came to share her experience with purposeful work and quell some of the worries familiar to liberal arts students especially those in humanities. Mediating the discussion was The Bates Student Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Rothmann ‘19, and Bates Magazine Editorial Director and Editor, Jay Burns.
Like many first years, Ryan came in to Bates certain about pursuing one path only to change her mind and pursue others in later years. “I do remember that initially, I came to campus and my extremely elaborate and very solid career plan was that I was going to win Wimbledon,” Ryan paused as the audience laughed, “and then I would appear on tour and maybe do Bates from a distance. And then I was going to be a cartoonist, and then I was going to be a lawyer…What happened to me, and I’m sure your college experience is similar, my first year I did tennis and it was pretty intense, didn’t win Wimbledon, but I think we beat Colby. But, the second year I stumbled into The Bates Student office, and what I really noticed—the tennis kids were great, but they were like, you know, a certain kind of kid—the kids at The Bates Student office were curious about the world, interested about talking about issues, compassionate, interested in talking about politics… and I admired them so much and I just thought ‘these are my people.’’
Ryan, who would eventually be nicknamed “Scoop” by her peers, began writing articles like “The Joy of Being a Dana Scholar” and “Steel Band on the Quad,” which eventually lead her to write more substantial pieces later in her Bates Student career, such as restaurant reviews and “The perils of roommates.” (For the record, according to Ryan, the best roommates should have a great stereo and love the Violent Femmes).
Through it all, Ryan was fueled by her love of writing which came to her at an early age: “…I mean I was very nervous about writing, but I had always, as a kid, liked to write. And when I was a little kid, really little, like fifth grade— I wrote a book. I grew up outside of Boston, and it was—it’s going to sound more sophisticated than it was—it was about the desegregation battles in Boston and the black and white racial class. And I had always liked the idea of being a writer.” In college, one of the biggest draws for Ryan to write for the newspaper was her excitement for “the possibility of describing things.”
Now, as one of the names on the masthead for The New York Times, Ryan works to hire new talent. “Just as a general rule, what I try to do is hire people for hunger and potential more than credentials, obviously we want people with experience, but what I’ve noticed at The New York Times, what distinguishes those journalists from the rest of their field…is something that you can’t really teach, which is drive.” One example of this drive would be the slew of message she would receive when she reemerged from going to the movies at night: “I would come out the movie and my phone would just be pulsating with all the messages from the reporters who were like working through the night, sending me a new draft, just got a new source, wanted me to know this, had another idea, and there’s like a drive that really defines almost an obsessiveness about what they want to do. And you can sort of sense that whether people are at a small paper or digital outlet. Where I’m seeing the good journalism training nowadays is at the non-profits.” A few of the non-profits that Ryan highlighted were New York’s The City, San Francisco’s Reveal, and Austin’s Texas Tribune.
One of the questions Burns asked during the talk was about what Ryan penned as “The Worry Trifecta” in an essay to the Bates Magazine—the three pillars being “Finding work”, “paying student loans”, and “wondering whether your English degree has any value whatsoever”. Burns then read a particularly poignant excerpt from her essay: “‘I found myself deeply troubled by how to shape a future for myself that will expand the limits of my learning. I fear that I will shrink from the task of self-enrichment. How does one remain a student, a seeker of knowledge, ideas, and meaning, in a modern, complex, bureaucratized world: how do we prevent our lives from being frittered away by detail as Thoreau wrote?’”
Burns then asked Ryan what she would tell her 21 year-old self knowing what she knew now. Without skipping a beat, Ryan responded “What a pompous kid!” She continued, stating, “Well, I think the thing that journalism is about is embracing your native curiosity and it’s an essential ingredient, and I think, for one thing, I did worry about—I don’t know why I worried about this as a kid—but I had seen, maybe in movies or in real life…people who have become bitter as they aged, or cynical, um, and I never wanted to be like that and it frightened me a little. And I used to read a lot of biographies, I still do… but I would read biographies both to understand how people became successful but also to understand how they dealt with disappointment. And what I didn’t want to do was to become negative, cynical, bitter, and for some reason I think that shaped what I was looking for and looking not for, and I think, to me, the essential ingredient really comes to curiosity.”
During the question and answer period, the majority of the questions the audience asked had to do with the recent shift in journalism from traditional print media to a more digital platform. For Ryan, one of the biggest changes has been the “biorhythm” of the newsroom:“It used to be, and not that long ago, maybe ten or maybe fifteen, that our biorhythms as a newsroom were really based on a daily paper. So, that meant people came in, kind of late in the morning, maybe 10:30, and maybe got an assignment, and then people took time for lunch, and you would kind of regroup at like 3:00 or 4:00, and you might follow your story by 6:00 or 7:00, and it gets edited at 8:00 or 9:00, and that was kind of the rhythm of a newsroom. And that has really changed. As soon as you really get news, and confirm news, that goes up. You publish it on the web and I think it has forced a kind of transparency around what we do.”
“What we want to be, and one of your fellow Batesies said this today,” said Ryan, “we want to be the one you turn to when you really want to get something solid, you really want to know what’s right and what’s wrong in terms of a big news story. So that’s our reputation, so even in a digital universe, we have to preserve that, and so part of that is being as forthright with readers about our reporting, about what we know, and we have to be really careful—even in a fast-paced environment. So we are not driven to get things first, we certainly want to, but what we really want to be is right.”
This year’s election of the Bates College President and Vice President is even more important than usual: in the aftermath of the Student Government temporarily stepping down to protest their lack of purpose, the new leaders will have an exciting opportunity to lead the transition into increased autonomy. Need another reason to be an active voter in this year’s election? This year marks a period of fresh eyes, as two-time President Walter Washington ’19 will be graduating.
There are five candidates for President running in this election, all with extremely different backgrounds and qualifications. All five were present at a Presidential Debate on Wednesday, March 13, where they answered questions posed by Walter Washington and students in the audience.
Julia Panepinto ’20 lost the election for a Student Government Representative as a first-year, but took that opportunity to become Vice President of the Chase Hall Programming Board, where she helped to organise Snowball and other dances. Since then, she has been a representative for two years, and plans to use this experience in office as President.
A key issue for Panepinto is advocating for students, saying, “As President, I think it’s important that we’re here for the students. Instead of forcing students to go to our meetings, we go to them. We ask them what they want, and we work on their schedules.” In particular, Panepinto plans to implement course reviews, give students access to all dorms at all times, work on making more social spaces accessible, and prioritise Government transparency.
Ryan Lizanecz ’20 brings similar experience to the table. He and his Vice Presidential candidate, Lebanos Mengistu ’21, have a combined 5 years of experience in Student Government. During his time as class representative, Lizanecz implemented meal plans over break, made strides toward addressing the parking crisis, and helped to create the Bates Security Council. His action plan for the future includes improving security relations, parking reform, community involvement, creating a new student union, enhancing school spirit, and, like Panepinto, focusing on ensuring transparency of the Administration and Student Government.
Justin Levine ’20 ran last year for President and lost, showing his resilience as a candidate. Although he personally runs track and is a member of Club Volleyball, he tries to go to most athletic events, and is passionate about supporting his fellow Batesies. He describes his spirit and friendliness as being characteristic of his campaign, describing, “Personally, what I bring to the table is being a friend. I have a lot to provide in terms of just being a good friend to people.”
In terms of action, Levine is focusing on mental health through strategies such as advocating for more CAPS faculty; rebuilding relationships with President Spencer and between athletes; promoting school spirit; and other improvements such as adding an additional eatery to campus and requesting small printers scattered around campus.
Leo Crossman ’20, who is running for Vice President and represented Presidential candidate Michael Williams ’20 —who is currently abroad—at the debate, confesses that he has spent the past couple years being an average student. This gives him key insight into the current flaws of Student Government, as he is able to see the reasons why the Government has been unable to access students like him in the past. Crossman and Williams plan to prioritise including increased avenues for students to be able to interact with their student representatives, continuing to work to improve security-student relations, and advocating for the increased power of students in the administration of Bates.
Christian Beal ’21 has a unique background, as he transferred to Bates as a sophomore. This experience gives him the ability to look at the Bates Student Government with fresh eyes, and to give insights and comparisons from his past in another environment. As this is his first year at Bates, he also has a unique investment in the first-year class, as he can freshly understand what it is like to be a new student at Bates. Beal is focusing on government transparency through avenues such as weekly social media addresses, a more strategic disbursement of printers, better social spaces, and increased funding to club and varsity sports.
All five candidates bring very different backgrounds to the table; two are current BCSG representatives, one is a self-professed “average student,” another a transfer, and the last a second-time candidate. Polls are open between Monday, March 18, and Wednesday, March 20 on Garnet Gateway—make sure to vote!
The Bates College Office of Equity and Diversity welcomed Professor Imani Perry to the Olin Arts Center on March 7, 2019. Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies and faculty associate in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University, was chosen as the OED’s 2019 social justice speaker.
Titled, “‘Nice for What?’ The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Digital Activism,” Perry’s talk was centered around the power of technology in digital communities for initiating social change. Perry began, saying “[we] now have the opportunity to network with people doing similar social activism work. A great deal of opportunity develops out of that.” Perry expanded on this opportunity, saying digital platforms, such as social media, “facilitate the building of organizations, ultimately having the ability to shift the discourse nationwide.”
Yet Perry cautioned the audience of the detrimental effects of digital activism that she has witnessed. Speaking on the act of police brutality, she said “When death started to be recorded, we watched [police brutality against black boys], forgetting that we are being subject to entertainment that is being aired as a way for news networks to gain coverage, and make money.” Perry said this coverage evoked memories of lynching—displaying death, in some respect, for control and profit.
As viewers, she is afraid we are becoming desensitized to these images and the messages we are receiving. She said digital activism is only as successful as the understanding of its intention. What you want people to pick up as the message is not always what ends up being picked up. She concluded her talk asking whether we can shift culture, what is necessary, and if we should be patient. She said if we want social activism to be effective, we need to “commit not to claims of innocence or virtues, but to our own transformations.” She said it is imperative to be open and eventually comfortable to changes in transformations, welcoming “our own transformative possibilities, and anticipating the discomfort of growing.”
Quoting Bob Marley, Perry said “someone will have to pay for the innocent blood shed every day.”
During the question and answer period after Perry’s talk, one audience member asked: “How can we shut down or change destructive conversations? He further said, “For example, I don’t think we should talk about Trump tweeting all the time, I think it is creating rhetoric that is detrimental. So how do we combat that conversation with another conversation?”
Perry answered: “We need to not be passive recipients of information we receive.” She acknowledged the constant presence of information unwittingly being forced on us all the time. She said “On one hand, there is use in the presence of information, but on the other we need to learn how to curate this information and we can do that through community.” She continued to reveal how it surprised her that when she became intentional with what she was listening to, watching, and engaging in, she felt more in control, saying “we need to talk about what we want to listen to, what we want to read, what we want to look at—commitment, cultivation and curation is especially challenging but also essential.”
The 2018 midterms saw the election of a record-breaking number of women, many of whom achieved historic “firsts” as individuals. To name a few, Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the youngest woman elected to Congress, and Kyrsten Sinema the first openly bisexual senator. There are currently 102 women serving in the House of Representatives and 25 in the Senate. One of the key figures that helped facilitate these numbers was Emily Cain, who serves as the Executive Director of EMILY’s List.
On Thursday, Mar. 7, Emily Cain visited Bates and gave a presentation entitled “Women in Politics: The New Normal.” Her talk touched on the founding and history of EMILY’s List as well as its role today in expanding the representation of women in office. Upon graduating from Harvard, Cain was elected as a member of the Maine House of Representatives in May 2004 and served in office from 2004-2012. While a member of the Maine House of Representatives she served as a Minority Leader from 2008-2010 and as House Chair of the Appropriations & Financial Affairs Committee from 2010-2012. She was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 and 2016 but unfortunately lost both races. Cain was elected the Executive Director of EMILY’S List in June 2017.
EMILY’s List was created in 1985 and has been working for 34 years to fund campaigns for pro-choice Democratic women. Before 1985, there had never been a democratic woman elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right. Ellen R. Malcolm, who founded EMILY’s List, recognized that the primary obstacles women faced when running for office were a lack of funding and an exclusion from influential social networks. Therefore, she built her organization with the motto: “Early Money Is Like Yeast” (it makes the dough rise). What began as a small group of women writing letters to their friends and encouraging political participation has become a national community of more than 5 million members supporting the voices of female candidates.
This year, 23 candidates endorsed by EMILY’s List ended up flipping seats in the House to help secure the Democrats’ majority. Emily Cain describes these exciting results as the arrival of a “new normal.” In defining this phrase for the audience, she said, “To me, the new normal means we will always have multiple women running for president. It means you should never turn on the TV and watch a story about Congress and not see a diversity of women on the screen.”
She continued, “It means that more women will be running for office up and down the ballot across the country. It means 2018 was not a wave year: 2018 was the start of a sea change for women in politics across the country.” She continued, saying “The political system needs women’s voices. It is not about being perfect. It is not about getting trained in all the ways you think you need to. It is not about the perfect resume. It is about how hard you are willing to work and whether or not you are willing to listen to the people you want to represent so you can really speak to them and advocate for them.”
While the beginning of her talk focused on the recent successes for women in politics, Cain also made sure to emphasize how much work there is still left to be done. After all, the United States has only had one woman as Speaker of the House, one as a majority party nominee for president, and has never seen a woman as president. Even with all of the progress for women in 2018, there have been several setbacks, notably the national reaction to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony regarding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s history of alleged sexual assault. Whether as candidates running for office or as brave individuals fighting against the culture of sexual violence, women are still treated differently than their male counterparts.
For example, Cain compared the questions that women and men receive on the campaign trail, highlighting the particular discrepancies regarding childcare. “Mothers, particularly of younger children,” she explained, “get asked the question: ‘How are you going to take care of your children if you win?’ Male candidates are not asked these questions.” Similarly, Cain drew attention to the inconsistent conversations in the media about women and men as potential politicians. During the 2016 election, the media flooded voters with articles and TV segments surrounding Hillary Clinton’s personality and “likeability.” Even though Trump and other male candidates in the primaries did not face these concerns, the media claimed that their comments weren’t sexist and instead, specific to Hillary Clinton. However, as more and more candidates announce their intentions to run for the 2020 presidency, we once again see stark contrasts between media analyses of men and women. Frontrunners such as Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar have already been the subjects of pieces that question their “electability,” “likeability,” and “authenticity.” Emily Cain explains that these are “all code words for ‘this is a type of candidate I have not encountered before.’ In other words, that is called sexism.” Cain and her colleagues have been working to fight against these sexist patterns and report those responsible for unequal treatment of women.
“One of my personal mantras is: Let’s just tell the truth. It is easier to keep track of. And that is really the same with campaigns. Just be yourself,” Cain said. “Don’t be what you think a member of Congress should look like or don’t be what you think a member of Congress sounds like or says. Speak your truth. Many women have incredible personal stories of overcoming obstacles. Dealing with health-care. Struggling with poverty. Struggling with illness. Having a family to take care of. Struggling in their careers. Facing sexism. Facing discrimination. Women across America have the same things happen to them in their lives every single day. Therefore, in telling your truth and being yourself, that is how you connect with people.”
To conclude her talk, Cain reminded the audience that the “new normal” does not just apply to politics. “The momentum for the fundamental shift in the role of women can ripple beyond government,” she stated. She mentioned the importance of women in business and was upset to share that there were only 32 women CEOs for the companies listed on the 2018 Fortune 500 list. Women should also be leading in education, medical fields, and technological innovation. The new normal means that women and girls should never feel as though they must have separate aspirations from men. Cain hopes to guide the next generation of women away from their fears about being “qualified” and needing training. She believes women should recognize that they have the same potential to be great politicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, and engineers as any man would.
The Bates Student sat down with the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Leigh Weisenburger, on Friday, March 15, to discuss the incoming Bates class of 2023. The next morning, regular decision candidates were notified with their admission decisions. The 2023 applicant pool is another record-breaking pool, and Weisenburger was happy to share her thoughts with The Bates Student at the culmination of the applicant decision process.
What excites you most about the class of 2023 applicant pool?
It’s thrilling that it is a record-breaking pool and the fact that we have 8,222 applicants to the college is exceptional. That is about a 7 percent increase over last year. Last year, we had a meteoric rise of about 45 percent. So, just the continued growth on growth and strength on strength. But it’s not just about the numbers, and I mean that sincerely, it’s really about the diversity and talent we see in the pool. We saw that it wasn’t just sheer numbers, it was growth across almost every cohort with students who are really interested in and excited about Bates.
Why do you suppose the number of applicants has risen?
I think there are three or four main factors that contributed not just to last year’s rise of 45% but have had a continued impact in what was this year’s growth. I say this meaningfully, and don’t take this lightly, but we have an exceptional team in the office of admissions. Applicants see that, and feel as though they have someone in our office who they can connect [to]. So, staff first and foremost. Second, is with the staff we have increased our travel significantly, and also strategically changed up our travel. We are literally hitting almost every corner of the U.S. as well [as international travel]. Three, would be our close work with communications and strategic outreach and that we are really inventive and having fun when we think about communicating not just with high school students, but communicating to their parents and families and communicating to high school counselors, and using all channels and media to do so. Lastly, the fact that we removed our supplemental essay likely was a factor in the increase in the applicant pool last year and likely a factor this year, just wanting to remove barriers to the admission process.
What qualities in prospective students were you looking for to fill this year’s class?
I wouldn’t say this is unique to this year’s class, but with all classes and selecting applicants and admitting them to the college, first and foremost is obviously their academic strength and potential and their intellectual curiosity. So, our number one job always is to provide faculty talented and curious students. That doesn’t mean every student comes to Bates as a finished academic product: they are here to grow and learn. Beyond that, we are looking for students who are engaged and engaging community members. The ways in which they will contribute to the community is different, obviously, per student, but we are always seeking students who see themselves at Bates, and we get a sense that they can really be engaged in thoughtful meaningful ways.
The class of 2022 was large, so will that size impact the class of 2023 in acceptance rate or otherwise?
It has not impacted the size, at least as far as what our target goal is. We had some thoughtful conversations across the institution to think about [changing] the class size in response to the large class of 2022 and decided not to react to the moment, but rather stay the course. [For] the college, that steadiness of 500 students each year is important in a number of ways as we try to plan and prepare for students in the classroom, and dorms, and whatnot, hence the pulling back a little to 495, but not wanting to throttle back beyond that.
You may not be able to answer this but, were there any applications that stood out to you as particularly special or unique?
I really can’t speak about the particulars of particular candidates, just as a matter of practice and policy. I will say though broadly, it’s really a privilege to read student’s applications and get to know them individually. I think [for] those of us who work in admission, it’s what keeps us in it. And it’s wild… it’s wild that you think about these students on paper and you don’t really know them, and then they come alive. It’s very exciting. Some students, you read their applications and you don’t see them until their junior year, and you’re like “I remember your essay.” Especially where it’s this incredible year for Bates, and we are very selective, and [with] the time we spend combing through applications you get to know the applicants incredibly well.
What has been the most surprising aspect of this year’s admission process?
I guess I would say, maybe not surprising but affirming, it’s just how well the students in our applicant pool self-select. I’ve been in admissions for almost 15 years at Bates and to see that as our applicant pool has grown, and diversified, and grown more global, it’s as if the applicants are almost more self-selecting than ever before. They know that they want to be at Bates and they know that they should be at Bates; that that has not waned as the applicant pool has grown. That is what makes our work fascinating yet challenging.
On Wednesday, February 27, Bruna Benevides, a Second Sergeant in the Brazilian Navy, spoke in Chase Hall. Translated from Portuguese by Visiting Assistant Professor Jacob Longaker, Benevides advocated for tolerance and activism in her hour-long talk.
While Bruna Benevides was serving in Brazil’s Navy, she fought a mental battle unlike any other. As a trans woman, Benevides battled a hyper-masculine environment and countless stigmas all while coming to terms with her gender identity. After Benevides announced to her peers her intent to transition, she was promptly removed from her work due to “transsexualism.” Despite the setback, Bruna fought for her rightful place in the military and was reinstated to her duties in 2016.
As a trans woman, Benevides’ outlook provided a perspective that many Americans rarely get to hear firsthand. Of the 1.4 million people in the United States armed forces, 15,000 are transgender. However, Benevides is currently the only openly transgender servicemember in the Brazilian military, making her a true minority. Benevides’ talk came roughly one month after the United States Supreme Court upheld a ban instituted by President Trump in 2017 that effectively barred all transgender members of the military from service. Benevides responded to the ban by saying, “Once I am able to pass the exams and meet the requirements, it shouldn’t matter whether I am a transsexual woman to continue my work with the force.” She then went on to explain that being transgender did not translate to being incapable of performing duties. Around the midway point of her lecture, Benevides spoke to many criticisms that are commonly put forth in order to advocate against transgender military service. While addressing the argument that transgender military servicemembers usurp military funding, Bruna comically pointed out, that, “The military expenditures for trans members are roughly 0.001% of military spending, whereas the cost of treating erectile dysfunction in the military is significantly higher.”
Benevides moved on to disprove the idea that transgender people as a whole were at a higher risk to commit sexual violence, an argument used to promote bathroom separation bills. She cited that, “There isn’t any registered case of transgender-specific violence in a bathroom.” Finally, she stated, “People say that recovery time is too long to return back to work. It is actually about thirty days to work. The argument that we would be away from work for long is simply not true.” After tackling the common misconceptions, she stated, “There is no argument that is presented that is plausible or understandable that says transgender people can’t serve in the military.” After her lecture, Bruna took time to field the audience’s most pressing questions regarding transgenderism, the military, and life in Brazil. When asked if she was in any danger, Benevides shared harrowing statistics from her home country of Brazil. “In Brazil, a trans person is fourteen times more likely to be assassinated than a cis person.” Despite the danger, Benevides remains positive, revealing that occupying the maximum number of spaces possible is her best form of defense.
In the end, Benevides’ message promoted activism and tolerance across the world. She revealed that her fight was not against the Navy or the institution. Rather, “it is simply a fight that society should recognize that different people exist in the world. Diversity should be recognized and incentivized.”
The words ballooned on the homepage of the Nuyorican Poets Café’s website are derived from the quote by the iconic beat poet, Allen Ginsburg: “The Nuyorican Poets Café is the most integrated place on the planet.” Karen Jaime, Ph.D. who came to Bates on Wednesday, February 27, to talk on a particular event hosted by the Café, would probably agree. Jaime’s talk, “Tens Across the Board: The Glam Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café” was the first in the series, “What is American Studies?” presented by the American Studies Department at Bates.
Jaime is an Assistant Professor of Performing and Media Arts and Latinx Studies at Cornell University. In addition to her many publications in academic journals, Jaime is an accomplished spoken word and performance artist. She acted as the host and curator of the Friday Night Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café where she received the inspiration for her current book project, “The Queer Loisaida: Performance Aesthetics at the Nuyorican Poets Café.”
The Nuyorican Poets Café, located in the lower east side of New York City, was founded in 1973. Over the past four-and-a-half decades, the Café has served as a multicultural space for groundbreaking work in poetry, visual arts, music, and theater. Nuyorican was an originally pejorative term for members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, but in her talk, Jaime described the way the term has been reclaimed as by the founders of the café to mean an “Aesthetic practice based on the history and politics of both the ethnic marker Nuyorican and its relationship with the café itself.” In her project, Jaime demonstrated that “Nuyorican” came to encompass those who not necessarily identified with a Puerto Rican ethnicity but practiced the same cultural art forms. This allowed for Nuyorican to define Puerto Ricans as well as those in the queer and black community.
The Grand Slam, the culmination of the year’s various poetry slams, is one of the most well-known events at the café. The event Jaime discussed on Wednesday, the Glam Slam, is a linguistic play on the Grand Slam. The Glam Slam was a competition that involved the intersection of the slam poetry community and the queer ball scene. Performers shared their poetry and art with an aesthetic of glamour usually associated with the queer drag scene. Jaime noted that, “The Glam Slam centered queerness not a reason for the happening, but as the reason for the happening.” The Café had always been a location which represented diverse ethnicities and queerness, but, “The combination of the slam poetry community and the ball scene through voice and movement [in the Glam Slam] effectively [developed] a new poetic aesthetic and rubric for queer poets at the Nuyorican Poets Café”, according to Jaime.
Before becoming a host, Jaime was an attendee of the Café and participant in the Glam Slam. In 2002 Jaime competed in and won the Slam. Jaime identifies as Butch Lesbian, and said, “For me, the Glam Slam brought together two communities that I desperately desired to be a part of: spoken word slam poetry and queer nightlife in New York City.”
Jaime used herself as a text in her talk, in form of her personal memories and a video of herself preforming at the Café in order to demonstrate the Glam Slam’s role in defining the Nuyorican aesthetic. The Glam Slam in the Nuyorican Poets Café created a venue for Jaime and others to compete in a space that honored the caliber of their talent while simultaneously accepting them for who they were.
The next installment of the “What is American Studies?” series will be on March 12th and will feature Jami Powell from Dartmouth College in a lecture concerning indigenous representation and institutionalization of native art.
On Wednesday, February 27, students entered Commons 221 to find the room set-up differently from the usual presentation layout. Instead of the typical rows of chairs facing a chalkboard, the room was filled with round tables covered with pens and paper. This presentation, one of a three-part series hosted by Lingua Franca, was centered on why people are included or excluded from citizenship.
The set-up of the room was not the only difference between this talk and others. As opposed to a lengthy lecture, there were brief presentations made by Andrew Baker and two students, with the rest of the time being devoted to discussion. Andrew Baker, a professor in the history department, was the first to speak, choosing to pass up his prepared presentation on the history of citizenship in favour of a personal story. Baker is one of a small percentage of Americans to have been born outside of the United States to an American parent. He was born in Canada to an American father, which automatically made him a citizen of both countries. He described his fortune in receiving the privileges of being an American citizen without even having been born there, saying, “I had this legal stake in the United States, even though [as a child] I couldn’t care less.”
Sarah Daehler ’19 has an extremely different relationship with the United States. Born in Switzerland to Swiss parents, Daehler identifies as an immigrant, though she recognizes that her skin color and accent often give people the wrong impression. “People have said to me, ‘you don’t look like an immigrant. You don’t sound like an immigrant,’” she recounted. It took Daehler’s family years of waiting and paperwork to obtain citizenship, and she described her parents having to overcome “absurd” barriers such as proving that no Americans were more qualified for a job than her father. Despite this struggle, most people had no idea that she had this background. She referred to this aspect of herself with, “It’s a minority identity I have, but at the same time it’s a hidden identity.”
Reflecting on these stories, students discussed the inequity between some people receiving automatic citizenship rights, while others being forced to undergo years of struggle to get citizenship or any legal status, even when necessary as an escape from their home countries. Besides the speakers, several students were quick to add their own stories to the conversation, whether first-generation Americans, dual citizens, or born and raised citizens. Alexandra Salazar ’20, another student speaker, contributed to the conversation differently. She described herself as being an American citizen with Colombian heritage. She was raised in Connecticut, where others often assumed she shared the same background as them. She discussed how this impacts her character, commenting, “I haven’t been able to fully take ownership of my identity.”
A common theme between the two student speakers was that their unique identity was only truly realised when they arrived at Bates. Growing up in smaller communities, being at Bates encouraged them to reflect more on their heritage and their relationships with American citizenship. Lingua Franca’s citizenship forum not only gave a formal platform for Andrew Baker and two student speakers to share their identities, but also provided a space for students of all years to have a frank discussion on their own connection to citizenship.
Foodies at Bates from all four corners of the campus flocked to the Gray Cage for the annual International Dinner on Saturday, March 2. The dinner is one of the most anticipated events of the year, as Batesies get the rare opportunity of a literal world-class dinner for the price of $10. In preparation for the dinner, students from all around the world spent Friday night and Saturday cooking their traditional dishes for the dinner. Needless to say, tickets for this year’s show were sold out quickly.
One student, Alexis Fifield ’21 from Guatemala City, Guatemala brought what she calls “friendly cake,” which is like a sponge cake with vanilla icing: “It’s my favorite dessert and kind of a multipurpose tool. It’s kind of known as the friendliest cake because it’s used for any occasion and if you have nothing to give, this is what you give.” One of her favorite memories she associates with eating the cake is “Sitting around the campfire with some really close family friends having some hot coffee, some cake, and just kind of talking.”
From Westerham UK, Shane Ward ’21 made Banoffee Pie. According to Ward, “It’s one of my favorite British desserts, and it’s pretty easy to make.” For those interested in the recipe, Ward added, “It’s got bananas, toffee, it has a cookie base, and whipped cream at the top.” According to the Telegraph UK, the origins of the pie started in 1971 with one Nigel Mackenzie, who had been frustrated with an “unreliable” American recipe for a toffee pie—which he would improve upon by adding bananas. The word Banoffee comes as an abbreviation of the ingredients: bananas and toffee.
In keeping with the theme of desserts from around the world, The Bates Student went to Phuong Vu ’20 of Hanoi, Vietnam, who was serving sticky rice balls which are often referred to as “Bánh trôi”. The little grape-sized balls were sprinkled with sesame seeds, and tasted pleasantly sweet. When asked about the dish, Vu responded, “So, annually, in Vietnam, every March in the Lunar Calendar we make sticky rice balls and present them to our ancestors as a way of showing gratitude. So, it’s not actually March in the Lunar Calendar right now, but I kinda miss making all the stuff with my family, so that’s why I decided to make it.”
One of the most popular stops at the International Dinner was that of Yichun Liu ’21 of Yueyang, China, who prepared Bubble Tea (AKA Boba Tea). The drink is fairly simple, as it consists of milk, black tea, and tapioca pearls. As Liu put it, “Everyone likes it and it’s easy to make!” One of her favorite parts about being in the International Dinner is, “you can try a little bit of every fantastic food in the world and you can also enjoy cooking with your friends, which is awesome.”
After everyone had time to eat, students put on a fashion show, donning clothing from their nations of origin, and gave short descriptions of the clothes and what occasions they were designed for. One of the fashion show members was Minah Kim ’20, from Seoul, South Korea: “I’m wearing Hanbok today, which is our traditional dress…We usually wear it on special holidays like New Years and also for weddings and those kinds of things.”
Next, Trisha Kibugi ’21 from Nairobi, Kenya, described her outfit: “I’m wearing the Kenyan flag, which people usually wear during national holidays and for rugby games, because Kenyans are good at Rugby—biased opinion. And I’m wearing headgear, which is typically given as a passing on from the Maasai tribe, so like passing on a present for marriage, this was for a birthday present.”
One of the memorable highlights of the fashion show was Senyo Ohene ’20 from Accra, Ghana’s description of his clothing: “I’m wearing a kente print shirt; usually people who would wear kente would just wear shorts, and no shirt, but my abs aren’t strong enough to do that, so I’m just wearing the shirt.”
Dean Reese concluded the fashion show by displaying the many gifts he’s received working at Bates: “The attire I’m wearing represents several South Asian nations. I’ve been fortunate here at Bates to be given items from students from Bates from all over the world, students here that I don’t know at all will come to my office and will want to have their country represented, so some of their families will send along some attire for me to wear and many times the statement is, ‘You better wear this to the international dinner.’”