The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

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“Commitment, Cultivation and Curation:” Prof. Imani Perry on Digital Activism

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.”

We’re Not Invinsible: Living with STDs

As Bates continues on after Sex Week, it’s important to be aware of how you’re conducting yourself sexually. This is a topic that carries such a heavy stigmatism that I’ve chosen to write this article anonymously. If that in and of itself doesn’t already touch upon how detrimental these diseases can be, perhaps the content of this article will. We are not invincible. We may go through our lives unwittingly thinking we are, but we aren’t. Our bodies are susceptible to any and all diseases, and yet we still go on thinking: “It won’t be me. It can’t be me.” But it can. After getting my first Pap smear at the gynecologist this year, I found out that I have high-risk HPV (human papillomavirus), a common STD. I was distraught and scared. I didn’t know what to do. I had no symptoms at all. It wasn’t something on my radar; I thought it would never happen to me until it did. HPV can be contracted by unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex, and there are two types: high-risk and low-risk. It’s important to know both men and women can get HPV. However, there are no current tests for men. High-risk types are detected by Pap smears and cause abnormal cell changes that may lead to cancer. Low-risk types do not lead to cancer but can cause genital warts. Because HPV is a virus, your body can fight it and it usually does so within a few months to a few years. If you’ve been vaccinated, you have a better chance of fighting it off faster. It’s also said to clear quicker in men than women, although many men do not know that they have it unless they show physical symptoms. I haven’t been the most careful in the past; I’ve had unprotected sex with people not thinking anything of it. It’s impossible to know who I got HPV from because the virus can live dormant in your body for months. I had asked my partners if they were tested, but none of them could’ve been tested for HPV. Everyone should get tested, especially if you’ve had unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. In the case of HPV and so many other STDs, even if you’ve had only one partner, if that partner has been with other people there’s a possibility you could have something. When I found out I had HPV, I felt very alone. It was hard to tell my current partner and it was even harder to come to terms with the fact that I’d been very naive and irresponsible in the past. I now know that I am not alone nor invincible, but that I need to be more careful and always use protection. You always hear people say: “Use condoms!” and “Don’t get pregnant!”, but condoms are never stressed as defenses against STDs in the same way. And as a person with a highly effective form of birth control, I thought condoms were a precaution I could skip every once in a while because I wouldn’t be pregnant. I remember feeling uneasy one morning, thinking something was wrong, and then I felt a bump. Naturally, I panicked. But then I assured myself it was razor burn, anything but what it could be: a genital wart. I chose to ignore it because what were the chances? Pretty high, believe it or not. According to the American Sexual Health Association, roughly 80 percent of sexually active people contract HPV at some point in their lives. That’s well over half of the sexually active population. And they may be transmitting HPV to any of their sexual partners, knowingly or not. Everyone cannot be in the 20 percent. Not only is that mathematically impossible, but it’s also a hard truth that no one wants to accept. And personally, I got lucky. My strain of HPV caused no worry for my OB/GYN. She said that it will resolve itself and likely not manifest again, but I have to live with the constant question of, “what if could it?” It’s weird to think you could be putting yourself in danger every time you have sex with someone. It’s also not something people tell you. Instead, sex is coveted and kept private. That is totally okay that’s your prerogative. However, it cannot anyone’s prerogative to keep the facts of STDs in the dark. These diseases should not be ignored due to petty stigmas, due to the fear of being shamed. Because guess what? If 80 percent of people are affected by HPV, chances are the people that you fear will judge you probably have it too. I’ve had both friends and family come forward and offer their support because they’ve had experiences with STDs too. These are people I look up to and who inspire me every day. They made me feel heard. My own mother offered me this advice: “It happens! It’s embarrassing but there’s something called ‘the heat of the moment.’” And unfortunately, that’s the truth. We can get carried away. But we must encourage each other to be more aware. The more we choose to ignore the facts, the more rampant these diseases will run amok. We don’t want a pandemic to keep on our hands, and I’m afraid we already have one. You can get checked under your insurance at the health center. Schedule an appointment by calling 207-786-6199 or email healthservices@bates.edu.

Mueller, Woods Race to Finish at Ski NCAA’s

This year, the women’s ski teams sent two athletes to the NCAA Championships in Stowe, Vt. Kaelyn Woods ‘20 raced the 5K Individual Freestyle and the 15K Classic on March 6 and 8; Griffin Mueller ‘21 competed in the Slalom on March 9 and placed 28th. Altogether, the Bobcats took home 20th out of 24 scoring teams with 11 points.

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Surviving March Madness

If you were to go around and ask a dozen of random Bates student what is the hardest month in the school year, I guarantee you that most of them would say March. Between the weather rapidly changing from a snowy nightmare to a sunny paradise, and professors handing out assignments with a very short timelines for completion, many students find themselves exhausted by the end of the month. I can speak from personal experience. As a sophomore and a double major in psychology and politics, I’m currently enrolled in courses required for my majors. However, each course requires a large amount of time and energy, and I have been stretching myself pretty thin. When you add how the courses never stop presenting new material nor give you the chance to digest old material because there is no break to indicate a time for professors to review, it can be overwhelming. Not to mention how half of the time it’s always raining or snowing, which can invite negative thoughts or emotions into a person’s consciousness. Overall, for me, March can make me question if college is really worth it. Is it worth my sanity? But that’s the thing! You have to stop yourself from reaching this point and bring yourself out of this self-loafing state. One of the things I do to remind myself about why I chose to go to college is going to the gym and working out. Now, I know many might say that they don’t have time to go to the gym. But hear me out. You can always find time to do something you love, or carve out time if it means you’re straightening out your mind. The gym is a great way to blow off all of that pent up anger one might have, or it could distract you from work by forcing you to focus on a different aspect of your life: your health. You can finally work on that summer body you’ve been talking about all winter. What if the gym isn’t your thing though? How about television? Television is another way to escape reality and fantasizes about the beauty in life. And depending on the show, you start to appreciate coming to Bates College more. If you ever need some motivation, “Beyond Scared Straight” helps me remember why I read books and focus on school. It reminds me that I have a purpose and that I do matter to my friends and family. It reminds me that my successes also belong to the people that care about me. All in all, you could take my tips as tools for self-care or possibly come up with your own strategies. The point is that you have to take care of yourself during rough times like this, otherwise you’re going to exhaust yourself. The health of your mind, body, and soul is just as important, if not more important, than your GPA when trying to achieve success.

Back from Florida, Softball Prepares to Tackle the NESCAC

The Bobcat Softball team travelled to Florida just a few short weeks ago to kick off their season with 12 games against schools from all over the United States. They finished the trip with a 3-9 record, however there were some positives even though the results weren’t exactly what they hoped for.

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Women in Politics: The New Normal

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.

Bates Track and Field Delivers Stellar Performance at NCAAs

On the biggest stage that DIII Track and Field has to offer, Bates Track and Field delivered some of the strongest performances of the meet. Overall, the team placed 13th out of 109 teams. The women were seeded in three different events: Ayden Eickhoff ’19, ranked in the top 10 nationally, in the 800m, while Katie Barker ‘19 qualified for a particularly competitive 3000m field.

Additionally, the Distance Medley Relay (DMR), composed of Vanessa Paolella ’21, Amanda Kaufman ’21, Elise Lambert ’22, and Eickhoff, was also set to compete. Johnny Rex ’21 was the sole representative for the Bates men, qualifying for a very deep weight throw field.

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H.R.1: the Anti- Pluralist Manifesto

Imagine waking up in an America where H.R. 1: For the People Act of 2019 is the law of the land. Washington, D.C. is a full-fledged state of the Union (so what that the city was profoundly dependent on the federal government and the statehood has given its residents an unfair influence over national politics?). Our Constitution has at least one new amendment to end Citizens United and curb the influence of money in politics, even at the expense of free speech. The Supreme Court, having recently been hit by a flurry of statutory ethics laws, is at Congress’ throat over the questions of jurisdiction and separation of powers. If you thought a few too many candidates were staking a claim to the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, you might be surprised to learn that the number of aspiring office-holders has doubled if not tripled – and not just for POTUS’ seat. People from across the political spectrum are running in record numbers for both the House and the Senate, and the federal government compensates their campaigns generously for the effort. Earlier in March, H.R.1 passed the Democrat-controlled House. While the Republican Senate Majority Leader McConnell pledged the bill is “not going anywhere in the Senate”, Democrats are not remotely discouraged. As a minority party navigating America’s highly polarized political landscape, the 226 co-sponsors of the bill had anticipated legislative gridlock all along. The hope, as Nancy Pelosi has made clear numerous times, is to eventually ram through individual parts of H.R.1. And, speaking of individual provisions, one, in particular, is likely to have a chilling effect on free speech and pluralism. Proposed by our own Jared Golden (ME-2nd), the campaign reform introduces a matching donations program at a 6:1 ratio. That is, for every small donation dollar to presidential and congressional candidates, the federal government would match it six times over for up to $200. Increased funding would translate into a younger and more socio-economically diverse field of contenders, the argument goes. I say it is a sweeping attack on pluralism. Over the years, America has been able to ward off the many dangers inherent to direct democracy by allowing businesses, advocacy groups, labor unions, and other associations to play an active part in our policy-making process. Americans may want lower taxes or greater reproductive rights for women, but given the scarcity of information among the general public, it is often the issue expertise and public policy know-how of private groups that help translate citizens’ desires into legislation. Our national discourse would be much poorer without such organizations as the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, and others. Introducing the matching donations program would severely decrease private group spending on elections – affording the federal government close to monopolistic power over defining policy issues at stake. H.R.1 is much more than a stumbling block to the lobbying prowess of corporate giants. H.R.1 is the anti-pluralist manifesto that should be clearly identified, discussed, and discarded.

Mental Health: The Persistence of a Major Problem

I have many friends on this campus who talk about how March is the hardest month at Bates, and rightly so. Coming back from February recess, it is a non-stop effort to get to short term and the warmth of April. March is a month of long nights in the library, late hours at practice, and spending much more time dealing with the general pressure of college. It has been hard to experience but it is even harder to talk about. For many people, mental health is a problem that takes a lot of courage and inner strength to talk about. It is a nuanced and complicated issue that requires those who are affected time and space to deal with personal affairs. For me, anxiety and pressure come at a sacrifice of many things and have resulted in acute emotional trauma. For many others who suffer from mental health problems, I cannot even imagine the pain that you are going through right now. But I truly believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many misconceptions about mental health. The amount of times I have heard people say, “Suck it up” or “Get over it” is appalling to me. Mental health on college campuses, especially Bates, is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously and have more support. According to Mental Health America, there are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, the forms of which range from social withdrawal to persistent nightmares. The range of mental health disorders are startling, and they cannot help but shine a light on the issue of the lack of attention we pay to people’s emotional traumas. Especially when it comes to college students, studies show that young adults continuously suffer from mental health issues. “Nobody said college was going to be easy” is an old saying that speaks volumes as to just how an intense academic environment can impact a student’s mind. According to the Mental Health Guide for College Students, approximately 80% of college students claim that they suffer from some type of stress or anxiety. Additionally, 13% of students have claimed that they experience some sort of depression and/or have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Statistics, however, cannot be substitutes to people’s experiences dealing with anxiety and depression. These illnesses can be neither unilaterally defined nor categorized in a study; these are emotional realities. As someone who suffers from stress and anxiety, I am proud to say that I am comfortable talking with others amount my emotions. It is important that Bates students, faculty, and staff work together, as a community, to support those who are suffering from mental health conditions. While we are fortunate to have on-campus resources like CAPS to help those with mental health concerns, it is still not enough to provide a long-lasting impact. Bates, along with all colleges in the United States, need to do better when addressing mental illness. Too many young adults suffer from anxiety and depression on a daily basis and do not have the people or the resources to support themselves. Good mental health is not just something that spontaneously occurs. It is a process that gradually happens over a period of time, and it is a process that we as a community must address more seriously if we going to help those in need.

Men’s Tennis Dominates in NESCAC Opener

No. 23 nationally ranked Bates College men’s tennis team cruised to an emphatic 9-0 win over Connecticut College on Saturday’s open to NESCAC competition. After a disappointing loss to Brandeis University earlier this month, the Bobcats bounced back to sweep the Camels.

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