The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

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College Choir Explores Love and Fortune in “Carmina Burana”

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Bates College Choir’s spring concert. The choir performed Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, composed in 1935 and 1936. The piece is adapted from a collection of medieval poems from the 11th-13th centuries and retains the original Latin and Middle German text. You have probably heard the opening movement, “O Fortuna,” in Cheaper by the Dozen, a Paul Blart: Mall Cop trailer, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, various talk shows and ads, and more– and if you don’t believe me, there’s a whole Wikipedia page on it.

The piece is divided into five sections for a total of twenty-five movements. There is not a coherent story arc per se, but rather a series of ruminations on fortune, springtime, dead swans, drinking, gambling, and relationships. The lyrics represent classic medieval themes but still find relevance in today’s world. The music is inspired by the late Renaissance and early Baroque melodic styles. The choir was joined by Bates Music faculty Bridget Convey and Chiharu Naruse, on the piano, and Joëlle Morris, who sang with the choir. Sarah Drewal played the timpani drum and Mark Fredericks, John Maillet, William Manning, and William Wohler played additional percussion.

Much of the piece is sung by the full choir in four-part harmony, with several instrumental sections dispersed throughout. The piece featured ten soloists: Christian Bradna ‘20, Henry Buckley ‘19, Kathryn Cleary ‘19, Xavier Hayden ‘19, Andrew Mikula ‘19, Senyo Ohene ‘20, Auguste Perl ‘20, Noah Pott ‘22, Michael Somkuti ‘19, and Muskan Verma ‘21.

I really enjoyed the concert and the choir’s rendition of Carmina Burana. The choir sounded amazing, balanced, and had very strong dynamics. Because the text of the movements are not in English, it was difficult to make out in some places. Having lyric translations included in the program was certainly helpful– and rather amusing. For example, Bradna’s solo was sung from the point of view of the roasted swan on the tavern table, about to be eaten. The music being rather melodramatic only helps create the comedic effect.

From there, the choir transition into the fourth section, the courtly love series. Courtly love was a whole medieval subgenre aimed at the nobility. It featured often adulterous affairs between highborn ladies and queens with knights. In every case, the knight was in love, which at times was unrequited, with the woman more than anyone else in a form of almost god-like devotion. The tragic tale of Lancelot and Guinevere stems from this time, as does Tristan and Isolde. The fourth section plays up the courtly love aspect: the music is perhaps some of the lightest of the whole piece, and the lyrics focus on an implied courtly gentleman seeking to woo an implied courtly woman.

The concert was somewhat bittersweet as it was director John Corrie’s final performance with the choir before he retires at the end of the year. His final performance with the choir was a resounding success. The piece worked quite nicely for the current College Choir performers and was a pleasure to attend. It will be sad to see Corrie go, but I look forward to many more enjoyable College Choir performances in the future.

Not Just Rocks for Jocks

This past week, I sat down with Emily Erard-Stone ‘20 and Christopher Sargent ‘20 to talk about the newly formed Geology Club. The club was originally started by The Bates Geology Department and was then accepted as an official Bates club in January. “We wanted to be an official club in order to get more funding and make it possible for us to go more places and host more trips to get Bates students involved in the earth sciences” said Erard-Stone.

The club has yet to host any official trips but is currently in the process of planning a trip to Short Ridge this April which would start with chai and cookies before teaching students about the geology of the Maine coast. “We will start with short presentation of the geology of the coast in addition to the species and plant life, to present that to people who don’t typically do sciences or those who just don’t know that much about geology. After that we will go out into the field and show them the things that we talked about in the presentation” said Erard-Stone. “We are really looking forward to showing Bates students the fun of geology,” said Sargent. 

“It is really hard to get geology trips in the winter time, because [the club] is all outdoor focused. A lot of the different aspects of geology are covered up with snow this time of year, so we are looking forward to the trip in the spring” said Sargent.

In addition to the trip to Short Ridge in April, I asked the club leaders what they hoped for the future of the Geology club and it’s involvement with the Bates community. “I think the Geology club could be really big going forward because the Bates academic council just removed the L requirement for a lot of the humanities majors. We are hoping the club can help people at Bates get outside and have a general understanding of the outdoors” said Erard-Stone, “I became a geology major after taking just one class that got me outside and having fun. I have been interested in geology ever since.” In addition to creating events for Bates students, the club also plans to go to local schools and teach students about the outdoors and outdoor education.

Being that this is a newly created club, Sargent and Erard-Stone hope that involvement from the Bates student body will come from word of mouth. “Once we get going and people start going on our trips and seeing how fun they are, word will spread and take off from there. Geology is a fun subject and I think the trips will speak for themselves” said Sargent.

Club members will have the opportunity to understand geology and other important, related concepts. “The science part of geology is what you get in the class, but it is important to get people who aren’t interested in the science aspect of things involved and to know the importance of geology. We hope to create better communication between the science of geology and the politics of geology. I think when there is better communication and understanding of that, the politics have a better backing” said Erard-Stone.

“[The Geology Club] is big on focusing on the fun of geology, so everything fun that geology brings we hope to show that to the Bates community!” said Sargent. Be sure to check out the Bates Geology club today and be sure to keep an eye out for their April Trip offering! 

Admissions Discusses Incoming Class of 2023

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.

Motivation with Maru: Throwing in the Towel vs. Doing your Laundry (A Piece on Productivity)

“I’d get it one piece at a time…and it wouldn’t cost me a dime..” Oh hey! Didn’t see ya there! I was just singing “One Piece at a Time” by Johnny Cash, a fantastic song. I recommend listening to it if you have never heard it! The song from ‘76 tells of a man who works on a car-manufacturing assembly line who steals tiny pieces of the cars by bringing them home in his lunch box so that after many years he can eventually build his own car using the bits and pieces he has collected. Pretty neat. Now, how does this long introduction relate to productivity, let alone the title of this piece? Lemme explain!

Sometimes when we get overwhelmed and stressed, we put things off like calling our doctor from home, sending Aunt Martha a thank you, or doing our laundry. We let these to-dos (let’s think of them as dirty clothes) accumulate until our list of to-dos (which we can think of it as a hamper) is overflowing and we can’t deny the fact that we have to take care of beeswax, do a little of adulting, get it over with, and DO IT.

But what if we didn’t have to go through this? That sinking feeling of seeing all of those dirty clothes every time we came in our room always weighing on the back of our mind? Here’s where the Johnny Cash song comes in, “One Piece at a Time.” Let us strive to approach these back-burner-to-dos with a positive, one-piece-at-a-time-mindset. If we conquer one application, one email, one assignment, our “hamper” of “dirty laundry” will not only a, begin to shrink but b, become less intimidating the more we work through it.

If we allow our “hamper” to pile up with more and more tasks, not only will it take longer to conquer but it will also start to have a greater emotional toll on us. Knowing that we have “so much do to” will show us down. But if we tackle it “One Piece at a Time,” we can chip away the block slowly but surely to shorten our list of to-dos. Don’t throw the towel in, go git on the laundry grind and clean out that hamper!!

Wish all of y’all a very happy week and a most glorious Gala experience, let’s embrace this spring weather!!

All of my love,


OUR Revolution Has Begun

The revolutionary senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, has launched his bid for the presidency, vowing to transform our country. As a former presidential hopeful, Bernie is seasoned in the game, possesses an extensive support network, and is shaking up our concept of the “mainstream” as we know it. Bernie’s platform is one of democratic socialism and emphasizes a grassroots movement. At its core, Sanders’ platform represents an unprecedented shift to restore and revitalize the foundation of this country, which is grounded in the will of the people and expanding the circle of liberty. Unlike 2016, Sanders has household name recognition as well as an extensive donor and volunteer list. He has amassed a network of millions of contributors and raised money in a record-breaking amount of time, which speaks to his magnetic message that appeals to large swaths of the population. Furthermore, his policy ideas occupy a unique space in the current political landscape that gives him tremendous bragging points. The Sanders campaign proposes policies such as Medicare for All, tuition-free college, and environmental justice, manifesting itself in the Green New Deal. As a Prometheus-like candidate, he takes power from the status quo and gives it to the people of the country. On some level, it seems somewhat disappointing that the wealthiest nation on the planet has embarked on these essential policies for its people. It is a disgrace that Americans have to pay several times more than what their counterparts in other developed nations pay for prescription drugs. Alongside basic affordable healthcare is the question of how we educate our young people, who are integral if we want to shape a sustainable future. And that sustainable future can only be a reality if we have a concrete plan to deal with climate change. How are people going to actively go against their interest and vote against policies that benefit them and their children? Sanders has the answers. His populist messages are set to do very well with primary voters once the campaign trail heats up. However, unlike 2016 when Bernie was the only diamond in the rough, he is now flanked on all sides by other presidential hopefuls who have adopted many of his ideas. Like clockwork, this has prompted mass coverage from the mainstream media who try and downplay his significance and, of course, prop up their favorites who align more with their establishment wishes. This was seen clearly when Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar entered the race for president. Their presence was viewed as electrifying and was met with jubilant reviews and personal endorsements posing as political analysis on major network television stations. A blatant example of this bias was after Bernie raised 6 million dollars in 24 hours, which was met with lukewarm descriptions and even wholeheartedly rejected by columnists at the Washington Post, questioning whether or not this indicated any clout for the Sanders campaign. In a double standard, Kamala Harris’ sizeable haul of 1 million dollars was seen as confirmation of her unmatched fortitude as a Democratic candidate. There is nothing wrong with opinionated pieces to create a healthy discourse of ideas, but when that creeps into actual journalism, it threatens the objectivity of the Fourth Branch of Government. Attacks on Bernie are not new by any stretch of the imagination. As we speak, Fox News is undoubtedly creating new graphics to smear him as a “radical” and a “communist.” Any time there is opposition, the opponent has to shift its thinking. They now have to take you seriously. The establishment reads the polls, just like supporters of Bernie do, and they understand the growing support for his policies, and that rocks them to their core. Their ability to control and shape the country in their image, whether it be lower taxes for the rich or more wars for the military industrial complex, is coming to a swift end. The 2020 Presidential Campaign season proposes to be a true referendum on the values and direction of the United States. Bernie Sanders has thrown his hat into the ring, created a disturbance and has woken up dormant voters. The revolution has begun, the time is at hand, the dawn is upon us.

My Proposed Curriculum

It is that time of the year again. As March brings unwarranted hopes for a warm respite from Maine’s record-setting winter temperatures, the Registrar’s Office reminds us to sign up for fall classes. I always enjoy crafting my course schedule. But there is more to the process than casually lingering by our advisor’s office, scrolling through Garnet Gateway, and demonstrating our commitment to a perfect GPA by crashing Rate My Professor. Course registration is the ultimate exercise of our role as students: an opportunity to mull over our career goals and pursue our intellectual passions. I must confess every sign-up season leaves me yearning for more. Even as Bates consistently provides a rich menu of academic offerings, there is always that one class I wish I could take… that one issue area I have always dreamed of exploring further… that one subject that would allow me to draw from multiple disciplines. So I’ve taken it upon myself to create a list of courses I think our professors should consider teaching: ASTR 139: Exoplanets and the Future of Humanity. Following the launch of NASA’s Kepler telescope in 2009, scientists have identified over 50 exoplanets within the goldilocks zone: that is, neither too close nor too far from their star to sustain liquid water and atmosphere. According to an MIT professor Sara Seager, “We will [soon] be able to take children to a dark sky, point to a star, and say ‘that star has a planet with signs of life.’” Some researchers find an even greater reason of optimism in our neighboring Mars and Jupiter’s moon, Europa, claiming that a revolutionary announcement about life beyond earth is just a few decades away. Conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial beings, even at the molecular level, portends for social consequences of astronomical proportions. While ASTR 139 would predominantly be a science class – deconstructing the wobble detection method, calculation of celestial distances in light years, and planet-hunters’ interest in red dwarves – it would also turn to psychology, religious studies, and philosophy to ponder a variety of questions. How does the discovery of other habitable worlds shift our perception of earth as the center of the universe? Will finding life beyond our native planet amount to the ultimate theological conundrum?

ENG 211: The World of Accents. Per the old saying, “the only way not to have an accent is not to speak.” As a geographically diverse institution, Bates is teeming with both regional and global sounds. Students would dive into classical linguistics to explain how accents form, why most adults are good at hearing foreign accents but bad at losing their native ones, and how en masse presence of television sets in the nation’s households led to the evolution of a standard American accent in the 1940s. The second half of the course would commit to examining how accents affect our perceptions of national origin, race, socio-economic class, and intelligence.

PLTC 305: CapSTONE Seminar on the Politics of Marijuana Legalization. The tide of marijuana legalization is sweeping the nation, bringing joy to herb enthusiasts and case studies in American federalism to scholars of politics. The course would evaluate how state legislatures, ballot initiatives, and federal regulations interact on different cannabis-related issues. Special attention would be given to America’s judicial and penal systems, because even as weed knows only one color, the laws surrounding its consumption disproportionately affect African American and Hispanic communities. In light of the recent nationwide legalization of marijuana in Canada, as well as long-standing commercial practices of several Western European countries, there might even be a lecture or two in comparative government. Instead of a traditional discussion format characteristic to Bates seminars, students would play the roles of interest groups, politicians, and researchers to explore the world of policy-making. And should no Bates classroom be large enough to handle record-high (pun intended) enrollment in the course, Mount David is always an option.

Women’s Track & Field Qualifies Five for NCAAs

Over the past two weekends, Bates Women’s Track and Field team has competed at two huge year-end meets in pursuit of fast times, long throws, far jumps, and excellent team performances.

At the Division III New England Championships held at Bowdoin, the Bates women faced one of the most competitive fields that any region of Division III has ever seen, with each event having multiple nationally-ranked athletes.

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Ready, Set, Row!

Bates Rowing prepares to supersede success of 2018

Anyone familiar with the second floor of Merril at 4 p.m. on weekdays and the prevailing smell of hard work wafting from the erg room will know just how hard the Men’s and Women’s rowing teams have been preparing for this upcoming season.

The Women’s Rowing team enters this upcoming season on the throne after two consecutive national championship titles and a stand-out fall season when the team won the prestegious Head of the Charles for the second year in a row.

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Fun in the Snow: Bobcats Teach Kids to Ski

Winter. A season that brings snow, darkness, and bitter cold. It may not sound like the most pleasant time of year. For some of us it’s just a time of year where we hope for days warmer than 10 degrees. For outdoor enthusiasts, it’s ski season.

It is no mystery that Maine is a skiing paradise; Sugarloaf, the second largest ski resort east of Mississippi, is just one of many ski resorts found in the state. Bates is home to both Division I Alpine and Nordic ski teams and has no shortage of students who have skied since they were two.

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Francine J. Harris, Literary Arts Live

On Thursday evening at the Musky Archives, Bates College welcomed the poet Francine J. Harris to campus. At 7:30pm, students came to listen to Harris read some of the works from her most recent book, Play Dead, that came out in 2016. Harris was introduced by Bates’s visiting poetry professor Myronn Hardy, who told the audience about his first time meeting Harris at an arts retreat. Professor Hardy spoke of how he had been captivated by Harris’ laughter and joy – even amidst the academic challenges of the retreat – and from that moment forward they had been friends.

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