Posted by: Naima | January 25, 2010

Welcome Back

The first two weeks of the new semester have been really busy. I’m not sure if our winter break ended late or started early but the second I got back to Bates it seemed like something was going on in every corner of campus. All of the activities started last Monday. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, all classes are canceled for the day and replaced with workshops that focus on race relations and social justice. This year’s theme, Faith and Ethics in the Public Sphere, provided a platform for students and faculty to host a huge selection of panels, films, lectures, and discussions to attend. On Monday morning, the Brooks Quimby Debate Council hosted their annual King Day debate with Morehouse College. The resolution, “this house believes that religion is a necessary element of a just social change”, created an environment filled with thoughtful arguments that allowed people on all sides to understand the many elements of social change. Here’s a photo including both teams of debaters after the event:

Later that day, four female students and I sat on a panel for the Women and Gender Studies Program. The workshop started with a screening of Chris Rock’s recently released documentary, “Good Hair” and was followed by a brief discussion of the social implications of the film. We had a really wonderful conversation about the purpose of the film, common societal pressures for women, and the politicization of black hair. Other events on Monday spanned from leadership training to dance performances by Bates students.

The richness of Martin Luther King Day is followed by Winter Carnival, a week of events sponsored by the Chase Hall Committee and the Bates Outing Club. The events included an a cappella concert featuring all of the groups on campus, kareoke with refreshments, ice skating on the puddle, midnight breakfast in Commons, sledding down Mt. David, and inflatables in the cage. The Friday of Winter Carnival is probably the most festive. 1. It’s  the weekend, and  no matter how you spend your weekdays, weekend = happiness. 2. The one and only Puddle Jump. Every year, the Bates Outing Club breaks a hole into a frozen Lake Andrews. After the hole has been made, Batesies line up in bathing suits, spandex, boxers, wetsuits, robes, and sometimes nothing at all to jump into the ice cold water. A lot of students here will tell you it was one of the things that made them apply early (ya know, aside from the fantastic professors and the energetic student body) and others will tell you it’s part of the general education requirements for graduation.

Does everyone jump in? No. But a whole lot of people put on some layers and watch their peers get a running start and cannonball into ice cold water…we’re a very supportive campus.

During months where the snow can be piled up high enough to cover dorm room windows, Winter Carnival is one of the ways Bates reminds its students that the winter/snow/rain/cold/sleet/ice of the northeast isn’t so bad. Hell, it’s actually really, really fun.

Peace and then some,

Naima

Video + Images contributed by YouTube.com, Ben Hughes ’12, and Joseph Kibe ’11

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