Microaggression photos go viral, elicit controversial reactions
ELECTION 2016 Maine issues: 4 key ballot referendums
Professors confront politics in the classroom
Swimming and diving performs well going into winter break training
In new book, Kolster captures legacies of once-polluted Atlantic rivers
Comedy troupe Purity Pact brings viral YouTube star Chris Fleming to satirize gender, liberal arts
Comedian and internet superstar Chris Fleming, known for his viral YouTube series “GAYLE,” will perform stand up this Saturday night in Kresge Auditorium. Fleming is expected to poke at notions of gender and liberal arts colleges in his routine. The event, funded by Student Activities, Reed House and all-female comedy troupe Purity Pact, is free with no reserved seating.
“GAYLE,” which has been viewed over a million times on YouTube, was created by Fleming and friend Melissa Styles. It focuses on the life of Gayle Waters-Waters, the archetype of a competitive, stay-at-home mom in suburbia.
Though the show has a narrative that links the videos together, each five to 10 minute episode contains a new adventure for Gayle. Among other oddities, she hoards couscous, imprisons SAT tutors and vacuums her driveway. She makes Christmas cards, storms in on town meetings and even tours colleges with her daughter, Terry. (Bowdoin is mentioned several times in the web series).
“GAYLE” is currently in its fourth season with plans for future seasons underway. Fleming and Styles have also developed a “GAYLE LIVE” show that plays to sold-out audiences across the country.
Callye Bolster ’19, a member of Improvabilities and the founder of the new all-female comedy group Purity Pact, reached out to Fleming to bring him to campus. Bolster, who has been a fan of Fleming’s for months, personally invited Fleming to campus through his Facebook page.
“I reached out to him first on his email, and he didn’t respond,” said Bolster. “Then I went to his official Facebook page and messaged that with a way over-eager message. I told him the background of our group and why we wanted to bring him. I was like, ‘I’m drowning in a coleslaw of emotions just writing this.’ But he answered.”
Bolster has high hopes for Fleming’s performance and believes it will reflect the central ideas of her new group Purity Pact.
“I want people to be able to laugh at themselves and a large part of the culture of our school,” said Bolster. “I feel like we’ve been talking about the extraordinary percentages of our school and the one percent, and we have discussions about gender, but this is a really fun way to approach those things that are already hot topics.”
Like Bolster, many Bowdoin students already know Fleming’s work and are excited for his performance. Katie Craighill ’17 has been a fan of Fleming for years and even attended his “GAYLE” LIVE show in Portland two years ago, where she got the chance to meet Fleming.
“Meeting [Fleming] was fabulous,” said Craighill. “He was very friendly. He came right into the audience and he even used my coat as a prop during the show. I asked if I could take a picture with him after the show where he was wearing my coat and he was really excited about it.”
This weekend, though, Craghill will be watching to see how Fleming has updated his routine.
“I’m excited to see what he has come up with since the “GAYLE” performance that I saw two years ago,” said Craighill. “I don’t think this show will be as “GAYLE”-oriented—I imagine it will be rants and stand up—but I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s new from him.”
Professors confront politics in the classroom
In response to polarizing actions by the Trump administration, certain professors who teach courses related to American politics are implementing rules of engagement and providing students with relevant historical context in order to confront such charged issues in the classroom.
Associate Professor of Government Jeffrey Selinger, who teaches classes in American government, has accepted discussions about current political events as inevitable in his courses. As such, he has developed several rules to help guide discussion.
“One rule of engagement is that there must be a generous and fully legitimated and comfortable space for politically conservative students of various descriptions, whether they call themselves libertarians, whether they call themselves more social or religious conservatives, or something else,” Selinger said. “When they are in the numerical minority, my standard operating procedure is [that] I will, in argument, side with the minority.”
In an Orient survey prior to November’s election, 6.6 percent of student respondents identified themselves as Trump supporters.
In an effort to avoid alienating students whose political beliefs align with the president’s, Selinger tries to focus discussions critical of the president on Trump himself, not on his supporters.
“We have a clearer sense of what we’re talking about when we talk about Trump [himself] because he’s one person,” Selinger said. “We don’t have a very clear idea of Trump supporters because it’s a diverse lot of people. It’s 46, 47 percent of the voting public.”
Selinger also acknowledged that students’ emotions matter because politics can be deeply personal.
“It could be very constructive if feelings were treated as fodder for analysis,” he said. “It may happen to be therapeutic but that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to get some kind of mutual understanding. It’s a public purpose.”
Selinger stressed that professors should not avoid difficult subjects out of fear of being political.
“Faculty would do the College community a terrible disservice if we used apolitical, ‘balanced,’ or euphemistic language to sugarcoat a reality that we all should find deeply troubling,” Selinger said.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Government and Environmental Studies Divya Gupta spoke of a similar need to present the facts in her course, Earth Justice: Global Climate Change and Social Inequality.
“Telling [students] the science behind [climate change] and the history and the policies that have been building up to address this issue—I do not hold back on sharing those realities,” said Gupta. “At the same time, I have to make sure that I frame the message in a way that I do not come off as somebody who is being partial or biased.”
Assistant Professor of Government Maron Sorenson agreed on the importance of discussing current political events, but expressed the desire to do so in the context of her specific curriculum. In her constitutional law class, she presented students with Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and had students use the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause case law to determine the order’s constitutionality. In Sorenson’s judicial politics class, students take turns preparing 15-minute presentations on a current event, usually in relation to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
“My obligation is to provide the students a framework to critically engage with current events,” said Sorenson. “I won’t turn my class into a discussion of currents events or supplant what would be the baseline learning for a discussion of current events, because absent the academic structure—the reason they signed up for the class—they are not engaging with current events in any way that is different than they would have had they not been exposed to this material.”
Sorenson believes that objectively linking the curriculum to political events can work to eliminate partisanship in the classroom.
“The very easy way to avoid being partisan is to follow the tack of ‘here’s the scholarship, let’s apply the scholarship,’” she said. “Framing current events and forcing students to place them in decision-making models is, in and of itself, a generally non-partisan way of approaching [issues].”
John F. and Dorothy H. Hagee Associate Professor of Government Laura Henry also prioritizes addressing recent politics through the framework of her curriculum. She strives to strike the balance between students’ eagerness to discuss current events and her role as a professor to provide the historical, political, economic and cultural contexts that her courses intend to teach.
“The challenge that any professor has is to provide the necessary context and analytical frameworks that help us ask the best questions and not get distracted by the absolute onslaught of information that comes out of Twitter and Facebook and the 24-hour news cycle,” Henry said.
This semester, Henry is teaching two classes, Post-Communist Russian Politics and Society and Social Protest and Political Change. In both classes, she uses current events—such as Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March and representations of Russian politics in the news—to “help [students] guide how we can ask good questions and how we can compare to the past.”
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History Brian Purnell asserted that professors are not required to respond to the current political situation in their teaching.
“From a professional standpoint, as of today—and I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so the answer could change—the current American political situation does not mandate American historians, or any academic, to respond, or to respond in a specific way,” he wrote in an email to the Orient.
However, much like his colleagues, Purnell feels he may be able to provide historical context to help students understand the present. To this end, he has developed a new course, U.S. History, 1877-1945: The Making of a Superpower, which will debut in the 2018-19 academic year.
“I wanted to teach courses focused specifically on the nation’s history that, in part, answered the question, [of] what social, cultural, political and economic history brought us to our current national situations and conditions,” Purnell wrote.
While students generally found political conversations in class to be beneficial, many noted that a class discussion can cross a line and leave some students feeling excluded. Jacob Russell ’17 said that in one of his classes last semester, there was at least one contentious moment regarding current political events.
“Though generally discussion has been very good and open, in one class it was clear a professor and a majority of students were on the same page,” said Russell. “I think there were a couple of students who were more likely to be Trump supporters and felt like they didn’t have a space to share their opinions.”
Emma Newbery ’19 spoke highly of the atmosphere that Associate Professor of Religion Elizabeth Pritchard has set in her Marxism and Religion class.
“Professor Pritchard has struck a really good balance between supporting students, contextualizing the curriculum in the current American political climate and feeling free to talk about the readings and get an escape from everything that’s happening,” Newbery said.
In new book, Kolster captures legacies of once-polluted Atlantic rivers
What started as simple curiosity turned into a meaningful adventure for Associate Professor of Visual Arts Michael Kolster. His new book, “Take Me to the River,” explores four rivers’ stories of contamination, neglect and restoration.
Environmental photography and history are not new topics for Kolster. Originally from the West Coast, he has worked on projects examining natural transformations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Around 2008, he became particularly interested in the Androscoggin River, which runs through Brunswick and would become the eventual inspiration for the book.
“At first, I felt like by studying the Androscoggin, I could get the know the place I’m living in a little bit better,” said Kolster. “The Androscoggin was one of the most polluted rivers in the United States, and now it’s a place full of life, where people are frequently spending time.”
Kolster’s fascination with the Androscoggin led him to find rivers with similar stories. His search took him all the way down the Eastern seaboard as he documented the three other rivers that are also featured in his book—the Schuylkill in Pennsylvania, the James in Virginia and the Savannah, which defines the border between South Carolina and Georgia.
“These rivers were sewers,” said Kolster. “Nowadays, they are cleaner, but perceptions are slower to change. It’s an interesting moment in their transition where they’re just starting to become noticed as valuable property.”
To capture these rivers perfectly through a camera, Kolster used ambrotypes, positive images formed on an 8-by-10 inch glass plate. The process is done completely by hand and is quite laborious—Kolster had to bring a portable darkroom to the riverside with him, where he poured chemicals on the wet plate to prepare, develop and varnish the image. But the final product, he said, is worth the extra effort.
“People say, ‘Why bother? You can make things with a phone.’ But there were these imperfections that would speak back to me as I made the pictures,” he said. “It reinforces this correlation between the unstable and dynamic qualities of subject that I was photographing and the actual images themselves. It was a wet process photographing a wet subject.”
For this project, Kolster teamed up with Bowdoin Associate Professor of History Matthew Klingle to collect oral histories from Maine residents about the Androscoggin.
After conducting dozens of informal interviews in order to understand Mainers’ relationship to their environment, Klingle wrote a series of essays for the book that were heavily influenced by these stories. Most notably, Klingle observed the generational divides between older people who thought of the river as polluted and younger people who saw its pristine beauty in the community.
Although the release of this book represents the end of a journey that started in 2011, Kolster not leave the rivers he visited. His next project will take him to Hawaii for another work focused on environmental history, but for now, Kolster can look out towards his backyard and marvel at the Androscoggin.
A panel and discussion was held last night at Kresge Auditorium in celebration of the book’s release. Panelists shared their thoughts on the making of the book and its larger significance in the community.
NYC-based alt-pop duo Cults to perform this weekend
Over 500 students have purchased tickets to see the band Cults in concert tomorrow. Tickets went on sale at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, and within 30 minutes, the first 100 tickets were sold. As of now, seating is “limited,” according to Entertainment Board (eBoard) co-chair Brendan Civale ’17.
Over the past four years, Cults, an American indie band, has risen to prominence in the alternative music scene. The group is best known for its hits “Go Outside” and “You Know What I Mean,” which it will perform in Pickard Theater at 10 p.m. tomorrow.
This will be the second concert hosted by eBoard this year; the first concert featured Louis the Child, performing to a packed audience in Smith Union in October. The Winter Concert will not be the last concert, however—the 152nd Ivies weekend in April will feature more artists, which are yet to be announced.
Co-Chairs of eBoard Civale and Arindam Jurkhan ’17 were very pleased with the positive student reception on campus. With this event, eBoard sought to replicate the success of last year’s BØRNS concert which sold out in four hours and also bring a different style of live music to campus.
“For Ivies, we ask students what kind of artists they want, and it’s usually hip-hop, rap, EDM or some loud party music,” said Civale. “But we also want to appeal to a lot of people on campus who might want a slower, indie act. We knew how well BØRNS did last year, so we wanted to bring a performer that had a similar vibe.”
Despite Pickard’s limited space, eBoard insists it is the only place that the concert can take place for financial and security reasons.
“It’s the only venue on campus where you can sell tickets,” said Civale. “Also, crowd control for the administration and security is much easier there. In [David Saul Smith] Union, there are 40 entrances and exits; in Pickard, there are two [entrances].”
Students are generally pleased with eBoard’s decision to host another concert after Winter Break.
“It’s a really great idea to do a concert in the winter because otherwise, Bowdoin doesn’t get a lot of musical acts until Ivies in April,” said Christina Moreland ’17, who will be attending Saturday’s concert. “BØRNS was very successful last year. Everyone really enjoyed it, so I’m glad the eBoard has decided to continue the new tradition.”
Swimming and diving performs well going into winter break training
Having competed in two meets so far, the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams have gotten off to solid starts this season. In addition to performing well as a group, Bowdoin has had a number of notable accomplishments on an individual level.
This weekend, Gabriel Siwady ’19 will be representing Honduras at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Canada. The Polar Bears also swept NESCAC Performers of the Week last week as Sterling Dixon ’19 and Karl Sarier ’19 earned honors for their strong performances in the teams’ season opener against MIT and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Siwady made the Honduras National Team after placing first in events at a national level. Although he has competed for Honduras multiple times before—including at the Junior World Championships in 2013—this will be the first meet where he will represent his country at a senior level.
The World Swimming Championships draw the top talent from more than 172 countries around the world, which is the most exciting aspect of the meet for Siwady.
“Just the experience of getting to swim with the best in the world and being there and having a good race—I know that whatever happens, it’s something that I won’t forget,” said Siwady.
Last weekend, the Polar Bears competed against Colby, Bates and the University of Maine-Orono (UMO) at the two-day Maine State Meet, hosted by Bowdoin. At the men’s meet, Bowdoin finished second overall with 814 points, behind Bates’ winning total of 1030 points. In a close race on the women’s side, Bowdoin took third place overall with 792.5 points, where Bates once again clinched first place with 976.5 points, followed by UMO followed with 873 points.
Men’s captains Tim Long ’17 and Michael Given ’17 were very impressed with the team’s performance at the Maine State Meet.
“It was really cool to see that our teammates were setting meet records, especially this early in the season,” said Given. “In regards to [Sarier’s] races, it’s a little scary to know that he’s only getting better.”
In addition to echoing Given’s praise of the athletic performances, Long spoke highly of the team’s camaraderie.
“We did an especially good job off the water cheering for each other,” he said. “There were always people behind the lanes, motivating each other, pushing each other on.”
Women’s captains Erin Houlihan ’17 and Isabel Schwartz ’17 were enthused with the results of the meet but are more excited about the team’s prospects after winter break. Since the team has only been in season since November 1, they have had little time to make significant progress, especially with increased academic pressure at the end of the semester. Over winter break, however, swimmers and divers use the hiatus from classes to practice, usually completing two pool sessions each day for over three weeks.
“We definitely have a more flexible schedule approaching finals because most of our training happens over winter break,” said Houlihan. “Over break, our coach expects us to be focused 100 percent on swimming.”
Head Coach Brad Burnham agreed with Houlihan, saying the teams’ current goal is maintaining fitness levels until they are able to focus on training over break.
“These are the most intense academic weeks of the year, so we just try to keep them moving,” he said. “Winter break for us is a chance to eat and sleep and get in really good shape, but also to learn how to swim fast, make the right choices and prepare for competition.”
The teams’ winter break schedule consists of roughly two weeks of training on the Bowdoin campus and one week of training in Coral Springs, Florida. In Florida, the team will also compete in the Coral Springs Invitational—a small meet against three other schools—to get swimmers ready for competition in the spring. Swimmers and divers face some of the toughest training on the Florida trip, but it also serves as a great opportunity for them to unwind and bond during downtime.
“That week that we’re in Florida the practices are really intense, and it’s not uncommon to fail a set,” said Schwartz. “But you get to go outside in the sun, and you’re able to bond with your team by playing football on the beach and staying in a hotel room instead of just grabbing a meal and swimming in the pool.”
After Florida, the team aims to beat Bates at the January 13 meet in Lewiston.
“Bates is always the team we compare ourselves to because they train very similarly to us and have some of the same philosophies,” said Long. “Meets against them are always intense, close, and emotional, and we plan to come out on top.”
Microaggression photos go viral, elicit controversial reactions
Photos from the #ThisIs2016 photoshoot by Bowdoin’s Asian Students Association (ASA) and South Asian Students Association (SASA) went viral on Facebook, with 85,000 album shares, 5,000 individual photo shares and 18 million total views in a span of two weeks.
ASA and SASA uploaded the photos—which are also hanging in David Saul Smith Union—to Facebook on November 18.
“My friend in Korea messaged me the other day and said she saw the album, but from her other friends, not from my status,” said ASA Secretary Arah Kang ’19, who helped organize the project. “I left for Thanksgiving break and we had just broken 100 likes. But now look at it—over 30,000! We had no idea it would leave this campus, let alone go worldwide.”
The project originally drew inspiration from a New York Times article written by Asian-American editor Michael Luo. In the article, published in October, Luo directly addresses a stranger who yelled “Go back to China!” at his family, Asian-Americans across the nation responded to Luo and his encounter by using the hashtag #ThisIs2016 and sharing their stories of confronting racism. Luo’s piece, in addition to the timing of the divisive election and No Hate November, served as inspiration for the project.
As the project has gained an immense following, much of the attention has been directed at the comment threads on the photos. Since the subject material touches on sensitive and often controversial themes, it has elicited a wide range of strong responses, some supportive and some polemical.
Many Facebook users argued that students involved in the project were overreacting to comments. In response to a photo of a female Indian student holding a whiteboard reading, “Are you going to have an arranged marriage?” one Facebook user commented: “It’s actually a perfectly reasonable question and anyone from India would expect another Indian to ask the same. This is not racist or bigoted in any way.”
Other commenters supported the students and their reactions resolutely. In response to a photo of an Asian student holding a whiteboard that read, “I guess you’re pretty … for an Asian #ThisIs2016,” one user commented, “Oh my gosh, I hate this one! I get it too. ‘Oh, you’re so pretty for a dark skinned girl’ … As if because I’m dark I would automatically not be pretty.”
“We understand that posting our project publicly online is an open invite to criticism,” said Irfan Alam ’18, president of SASA. “There will always be internet trolls who will say whatever they want. Now we’re thinking of ways to respond to the comments as an organization, because so far it’s just been individuals reaching out. But it’s amazing that our message is getting out there.”
Alam was pleased to see the students’ message resonate outside of Bowdoin.
“As I look at the photo album and all the comments, I think about how much we get stuck inside the ‘Bowdoin Bubble,’” he said. “I’m amazed at how many people—not just nationally, but internationally—understood the sentiments I expressed on my photo. We really shattered the bubble.”
At the same time, most non-Bowdoin Facebook users didn’t have the same context for the project that students did.
“We developed the project thinking it would be seen solely by Bowdoin students,” said President of ASA Mitsuki Nishimoto ’17. “Because it’s gotten so popular, some of the context is missing and the comments might not have the clearest understanding of our goal and of who the students in the pictures are.”
Though they did not expect that they would receive such passionate responses from around the world, leaders of ASA and SASA are very happy with the following that the project has garnered and the attention it has brought to microaggressions.
“I’ve heard these types of jokes starting in elementary school, and at that age, we don’t know how to respond to it, so we become desensitized to it,” Kang said. “People are saying ‘You must have it easy with racism, being Asian,’ but one type of microaggression is not better or worse than someone else’s. None of them are okay.”
Multiple outlets, including Upworthy, have contacted ASA and SASA in recent days to report on the ascendancy of their project. Moving forward, ASA and SASA leaders are now focusing on contextualizing their project for a broader audience.
“The project might end with the photos, but the discussions won’t,” Nishimoto said.
Students revive Professor Robinson's 90s play based on 'Krazy Kat' comic
Professor of Theater Davis Robinson drew inspiration from the early 1900s comic strip “Krazy Kat” when he adapted the story of a dynamic cat and mouse duo for his award-winning theater company. This weekend, Bowdoin students will revive Robinson’s play, bringing it to the stage for the first time in over 20 years.
“Krazy Kat” originated as a newspaper comic strip by cartoonist George Herriman and ran for over 30 years from 1913-1944. Set in the desert of Coconino County, Arizona, the strip centers around Krazy, a happy-go-lucky cat, and Ignatz, a cranky mouse. Ignatz hates Krazy and devises clever plans to throw bricks at Krazy. At the same time, Krazy secretly loves Ignatz and misinterprets Ignatz’s assaults as signs of affection. Before things get out of hand, Offica Bull Pup, a benevolent cop, intervenes, often throwing Ignatz in jail.
The plot for this show, however, has much more depth. The play was created in 1995 by Robinson with his theater company, Beau Jest. Pulling the best scenes out of several hundred comic strips, Robinson worked carefully to put the play together for almost a year and performed it in Boston. It received rave reviews. Now, back with his original design team at Bowdoin, he felt it was the right time to bing the show to campus.
“When I chose this play in the spring, I knew that it would be Election Week,” said Robinson. “The characters are animals, so it breaks away from the bifurcated idea of Republicans and Democrats. We’re all going to want to be throwing bricks at each other at the end of this election campaign. But at the same time there’s a need to heal, to sing, to dance, to be in a room together, regardless of whose nerves were frayed.”
Robinson chose to adapt the show from its original version to highlight current issues, such as gender identity.
“George Herriman never answered the question of whether Krazy is male or female, and he often switches Krazy’s pronouns,” said Robinson. “That issue has surfaced this time around in a whole different way, with our awareness of gender being a more fluid spectrum. Now that we’re in 2016, the actors and I looked through the strip and found scenes that fleshed out that aspect of the plot line further.”
In addition to its sense of humor, the production is unique in its use of sound effects. Conner Lovett ‘19, the sound Foley operator, has worked in tech for previous shows at Bowdoin, but said he has never felt so involved.
“My role in the show is to produce all the sound effects, and there are many important ones,” says Lovett. “Since this show is based off a cartoon, I’m using classic noisemakers, like a slapstick and a slide whistle. For example, every time Ignatz Mouse throws a brick, I can hit a whistle and a knock.”
The audience at Thursday’s premiere seemed to appreciate the dynamic use of sound—Daniel O’Berry was reminded of Looney Toons cartoons throughout the show.
“They really utilized sound to enhance the comedy and the energy of the scene,” he said. “On the whole, it was phenomenal.”
Though the play is based on a comic strip, its humor, themes and characters appeal to both children and adults. Sophie Sadovnikoff ‘19, who plays Krazy in the show, said she loves working on the show and encourages everyone to go for a fun night of comedic release.
“‘Krazy Kat’ is the perfect break from the real world right now,” said Sadovnikoff. “With everything that’s going on, it’s nice to spend an hour or so in a world that’s not so serious, full of joy and without hate.”
“Krazy Kat” will be performed on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall’s Pickard Theater. Tickets are free and are available at the door.
ELECTION 2016: Maine issues: 4 key ballot referendums
Q1: Should Maine legalize recreational marijuana?
If passed, Question 1 will allow individuals over the age of 21 to use and possess recreational marijuana. In addition, the measure would provide for the regulation of marijuana as an agricultural product, permitting licensed marijuana retail facilities and enacting a 10 percent sales tax.
Medical marijuana was first legalized in Maine in 1999. However, repeated attempts to legalize recreational marijuana within the state have been unsuccessful. This year, recreational marijuana measures will also appear on ballots in Arizona, California, Massachusetts and Nevada.
According to a poll by the Portland Press Herald in early October, 53 percent of Maine voters support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
What is the case for legalization?
Supporters of the measure, including Matt Schweich ’09, Director of State Campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project, cite economic benefits such as increased tax revenue and creation of jobs. Schweich called the legalization of recreational marijuana a “social justice issue,” arguing that moving marijuana out of the unregulated market and into regulated business would work against drug-policing policies that disproportionately impact people of color.
Who opposes it?
Critics of the referendum argue that the measure does not include adequate preparations to regulate marijuana after it becomes legal. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has argued that the phrasing of the law would also legalize the possession of marijuana by minors.
In a letter to the Portland Press Herald, Stephanie Anderson, district attorney of Cumberland County, argued that Question 1 would create a “profit-driven [marijuana] industry” in the midst of an already overwhelming substance abuse public health crisis. Furthermore, she wrote that the Department of Agriculture is not experienced enough to create an adequate regulatory system, and costs generated by the law will surpass the tax revenue it generates.
How would this impact Bowdoin students?
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Orient, marijuana is the most commonly used drug on Bowdoin’s campus. The results showed that 58 percent of respondents had smoked marijuana “at least once to a few times” at Bowdoin, while 31 percent reported smoking “every month or two” or “weekly or more.” The survey found a slight increase in marijuana use on campus since a previous survey, distributed five semesters earlier.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster declined to comment prior to the election on how and whether the College’s policy toward marijuana would change if the drug was legalized.
Q3: Should Maine require background checks for gun transfers between non-licensed dealers?
Question 3 asks Maine citizens if they want to require background checks before a sale or transfer of firearms between people who are not licensed dealers.
The law is aimed at further regulating the secondary gun market and stipulates that if neither party is licensed, they both must meet with a licensed dealer, who will conduct a background check on the transferee. Exceptions include if the firearm is used in emergency self-defense, if both parties are hunting or sport shooting together and if the transfer is to a family member.
Who supports Question 3?
The referendum is supported by political heavyweights, most notably former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety has donated over $1.7 million to the cause.
At a debate on Question 3 held by Quinby House on October 27, Associate Professor of Government Jeffrey Selinger and Gary M. Pendy Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarborough discussed the costs and benefits of the law. Selinger defended the referendum, hailing its sensibility.
“You don’t always know who you’re selling your gun to,” he said. “The law would just ask that all citizens follow basic regulations for a second sale too.”
Who opposes it?
Twelve of 16 Maine police chiefs as well as the vocal National Rifle Association oppose the referendum. The main argument from the opponents—some of whom are supporters of gun control themselves—is that the law is too difficult to implement and enforce. They claim that since Maine law already prohibits criminals from purchasing firearms, the only people affected by closing the gun show loophole are law-abiding citizens. Others believe that the law will not stop criminals from getting their hands on guns, so this regulation is unnecessary.
Gary M. Pendy Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarborough, who argued in favor of a “No” vote, characterized the law more as an impediment at odds with Maine’s culture that a safety measure.
“If I want to lend my gun to a student who’s going hunting for a weekend, both the student and I would have to go through so many barriers if this referendum is enacted,” she said.
Q4: Should Maine raise the state minimum wage to $12 by 2020?
Question 4 presents an increase of the state minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 in 2017 and increasing by an additional dollar until 2020 when it would reach $12 per hour. The referendum will also increase the minimum tipped laborer wage from $3.75 to $5, increasing by $1 every year until 2024 when it equals the general minimum wage. The state statute would also insure that the minimum wage will continue to rise with fluctuations in the consumer price index, which measures the changes in prices of basic consumer goods and services.
Why raise the minimum wage?
Proponents of raising the minimum wage often point the concept of a “living wage”—the idea that people who work full time jobs ought to earn enough to support their families. Real wages, adjusted for inflation, have remained stagnant across the country in recent years.
“The minimum wage has fallen in real terms, or in inflation adjusted terms. If it was kept to where it was in the early 70s it would be up above $11 an hour,” said William D. Shipman Professor of Economics John Fitzgerald.
Higher wages translates to more expendable income for consumers, which can benefit businesses, as consumers with higher incomes buy more. Increasing the minimum wage might also decrease the number of workers and families dependent on public assistance.
What could go wrong?
The main complaints levied against raising the minimum wage focus on the loss of jobs, rise in prices of basic consumer goods and the impact on small businesses.
If businesses are forced to pay their employees more, companies with thin profit margins might hire less workers. Small businesses in particular would be affected. In 2015, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that over 500,000 jobs would be lost nationally if minimum wage was increased to $10.10.
Opponents also argue that businesses will respond to this wage increase by proportionately increasing prices, which in turn, deters consumers due to inflated costs. Furthermore, price increases could also negate the quality-of-life benefits that low-income earners would receive from higher wages.
How would this impact Bowdoin?
The law would not immediate impact Bowdoin students who work on-campus jobs—all student employees who are paid hourly already receive at least $9 per hour after the College restructured student pay at the beginning of this academic year.
The College, like all employers in the state, would be required to increase wages for hourly employees each year until 2020 in accordance with the law.
Q5: Should Maine institute Ranked Choice Voting?
Question 5 asks Mainers to consider implementing something that no state has done before: Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). By allowing voters to mark candidates on the ballot in order of preference rather than voting for one candidate, RCV would redistribute votes for last-place candidates until a majority is reached.
How does RCV work?
Voters would rank candidates for Maine elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate and State Representative in order of preference on the ballot; if no candidate receives an immediate majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The votes of that candidate’s supporters then count for their second choice candidate. This process continues until a candidate earns the majority.
What are the arguments in favor?
Supporters of this bill—including the Maine Democratic Party, Libertarian Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, the League of Women Voters of Maine and a number of individual Maine politicians—say that this system would eliminate the voting mentality of the “lesser of two evils” and ultimately create less negative and targeted campaigning. They argue a more broadly-liked candidate will be elected, rather than a candidate reaping the benefits of “the spoiler effect,” where the vote splits between two ideologically similar candidates, allowing a third candidate to win by plurality.
Current governor of Maine Paul LePage was elected into office because of split voting—62 percent of the population voted for another candidate—some opponents of RCV argue that the bill is an attempt to get LePage out of office. Out of the 11 last races for governor, nine winners were elected with less than 50 percent of voters; five of those winners were elected with less than 40 percent.
What are the arguments against?
Opponents of the bill—including LePage and a few other individual politicians—point out the cost, ineffectiveness and potential unconstitutionality of implementing RCV.
According to the Maine Office of Fiscal and Program Review, this bill would roughly cost between $600,000 and $800,000 per year for new equipment and necessary resources. Similar costs would persist over the years.
Opponents also worry that the new, “more complex” system of RCV would detract voters, particularly “young voters, African-Americans and those with low levels of education,” according to a Bangor Daily News editorial.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, as well as a number of other people, believes that the bill would be unconstitutional. In a March memo, Mills cited that the Maine constitution allows candidates to win by plurality (whereas RCV focuses on candidates winning by majority) and necessitates municipal officials to count votes, rather than a multiple-round, electronic tallying.
A number of other experts—including courts in four states—disagree with Mills, determining RCV constitutional since it maintains “one person, one vote” and fairly allows the candidate with the most votes to win.
Renaissance scholar Sarah Ross ’97 on building new lives with old books
In a time when enrollment in the humanities is sharply declining, Renaissance scholar Sarah Ross ’97, associate professor of history at Boston College, visited Bowdoin yesterday evening to stress the importance of the liberal arts tradition. Her presentation, titled “Building New Lives with Old Books in Renaissance Italy,” primarily dealt with her research on the value of the humanist teachings, not only in our time, but throughout the ages.
“If you Google ‘Crisis in the Humanities’, there are tons of hits about useless majors: ‘don’t major in English, don’t major in History,’” said Ross in a phone interview with the Orient. “We’re in a moment of time where anti-intellectualism is rampant, perhaps because scholars aren’t selling what they do very well. Everyone is focused on teaching students just the practical skills for the job market, and in the process, space for emotional, spiritual and artistic exploration is sacrificed.”
In her defense of the liberal arts, Ross told the stories of two distinct protagonists whom she encountered in her research on the Italian Renaissance. The first, Laura Cetera (1469-1499), received an education from her father, who taught her a wide range of subjects, from moral philosophy to mathematics to astrology. Using her breadth of knowledge as an adult, Cetera became a strong public speaker and advocate for feminist causes such as women’s education and marital rights. The second, Francesco Longo (1506-1576), worked as a physician and used his extensive library of humanist teachings to find meaning in the war-torn, diseased world around him.
“I thought her presentation was amazing,” said Christabel Fosu-Asare ’18, who attended the lecture on Thursday. “She focused a lot on the idea of liberal arts—how the humanists were doing it back in the Renaissance and how we Bowdoin students are doing it today to change the world. I loved how Dr. Ross used letters written by Laura Cetera and connected them to the idea of feminism, which goes back a very very long time.”
Ross was invited to speak by Bowdoin’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Colloquium, an interdisciplinary organization which brings scholars to campus. Aaron Kitch, chair of the English department and co-director of the Colloquium, found Ross to be an “obvious fit” for this symposium.
“Aside from the amazing history and philosophy in her lecture, [the audience] will get to see how someone has grown from their liberal arts degree and has used it to become an accomplished scholar,” Kitch said.
Though Ross felt a penchant for history and English even in high school, she found her passion for classics and Renaissance studies here at Bowdoin, where she graduated summa cum laude in 1997. She went on to Northwestern University and received both an M.A. and a Ph.D in history. In her graduate work, she specifically explored how women fit into humanism and the liberal arts during the Renaissance, a topic which she still enjoys researching. Now as the director of the history core at Boston College, she teaches hundreds of students each year in both undergraduate and graduate courses while continuing to research Renaissance history.
After almost twenty years, however, Ross was overjoyed to set foot on Bowdoin’s campus again, saying that she was “giddy with delight” to return to a community that meant “a tremendous amount” to her.
“It’s surreal for me to be back,” she said. I just hope Bowdoin students don’t take this place for granted. I encourage them every day to pause. To look around. To understand that they are so lucky to be at such a special place that values the liberal arts and gives them an environment to learn boldly.”
College hosts symposium on intermediality in art history
Experts from around the country visited Bowdoin this Thursday and Friday to present their research at the Art History Department’s symposium, “Across the Divide: Intermediality and American Art.” The event explored the interactions between various forms of media, including paintings, photographs and newspapers and examined the larger social and political implications of art forms.
Dana Byrd, assistant professor of art history at Bowdoin, was inspired to organize the symposium when the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) acquired a camera that belonged to the famous painter Winslow Homer.
“Scholars had not considered that Homer, a painter, used a camera in any way,” Professor Byrd said. “Using a photograph as a preparatory mode for creating a painting is sometimes considered less desirable in the field of art history and that prompted me to examine the issue of the camera and more generally, the interplay of media in American art.”
Byrd said she brought in speakers to challenge the audience to think critically about different art forms.
In her lecture entitled “Audiovisual Grammar,” Ellen Tani, Andrew W. Mellon post-doctoral curatorial fellow at the BCMA, analyzed the ways in which sound influenced photographer Lorna Simpson. Similarly, Jason Hill, assistant professor of art history at the University of Delaware, considered multiple angles of interpreting photographs in newspapers and magazines by looking at captions and context.
Speakers at the symposium also focused on salient social and political issues in art history, such as the representation of freed slaves after the Civil War through the artistic depictions of their clothes, as well as depictions of lynchings of African-Americans in the press.
Byrd said she structured the symposium differently than most in an effort to keep the audience engaged throughout the conference. After each presentation, a discussant offered immediate feedback and opened the floor for questions. Byrd said the idea was to create interactive conversation where the audience not only heard from esteemed lecturers but had the opportunity to connect with them as well.
“I took so much away from the symposium, especially from Michael Leja’s presentation,” said Daniel Strodel ’20.
Leja, Professor of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, who gave Thursday night’s keynote address, spoke about how images both transcend and are bound to media forms, including daguerreotypes and lithographs.
He argued that in changing the form through which the visual is represented—whether that be from daguerreotype to lithograph or drawing to painting—an artist can facilitate a change in perceived meaning.
“When you move an image from material to material, it will retain intrinsic values, but each material gives it a different nuance,” said Strodel. “The whole experience was truly eye-opening.”
Women's tennis gears up for ITA Regionals focusing on individual strengths
The Bowdoin Women’s Tennis team will be traveling to Boston this weekend to compete against NESCAC rivals and other Division III schools in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) New England Regionals. The ITA, hosted this year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the second of three tournaments the team will compete in this fall and also the most important.
“The ITA is a really good way to gauge where we are as a team and see a lot of opponents we’ll play against in the spring,” captain Tess Trinka ’18 said. “We also see opponents we won’t see in the spring, so it’s good to mix it up and try out new competition. It’s definitely the biggest event of the fall for us.”
Although spring is the main season for tennis, the fall represents a unique opportunity for the players to focus on their own successes as well as those of the team. Unlike the spring season, when all matches affect Bowdoin’s record, the results of fall competitions only contribute to individual standings.
Furthermore, only players who qualify get the chance to compete in the fall tournaments. This year, six women from Bowdoin will compete in the ITA as five singles players and three doubles teams.
Joulia Likhanskaia ’17 enters the singles tournament as the third seed this year and the team of Likhanskaia and Samantha Stadler ’17 will enter the doubles bracket seeded third as well.
The competitors have big shoes to fill after the 2015 ITA. Last year, two Bowdoin doubles teams—Pilar Giffenig ’17/Sarah Shadowens ’19 and Tiffany Cheng ’16/Likhanskaia—advanced to the semifinals, with Cheng/Likhanskaia moving on to a final match against ultimate tournament champions Yu/Chong from Wesleyan.
On the singles side, Likhanskaia and Cheng, originally seeded second and thirteenth, respectively, advanced to the round of 16, while Trinka advanced to the round of eight.Last weekend, the women squared off against Division I teams at their first tournament at Stony Brook.
“[Stony Brook] was the first college match for our freshmen, and that’s an adjustment for everyone,” said Trinka. “It’s tough because tennis is an individual sport, and in college when it becomes a team sport that can be a really hard transition. But our first years are doing such a good job.”
This spring, the team lost one of its key players with Cheng graduating, but despite this setback, the squad heading to MIT is nothing but eager and hopeful.
“We’ve only been in season for three weeks or so and we’ve only played one individual tournament so far,” said Stalder. “But from what I’ve seen, I’m expecting good things.”