Bates in the News

Edited by H. Jay Burns and Doug Hubley

A bungled bundle

Since her alleged offenses occurred off campus with no indication of a Bates connection, media coverage of the arrest of Assistant Professor of Music Linda F. Williams on drug charges focused, with one interesting exception, on her prominence as a music scholar. Maine Public Radio’s Jeanne Baron described Williams as an “accomplished musician as well as scholar” whose work investigates the mix of jazz, culture, and gender in Africa and America. Baron interviewed Ingrid Monson, the Quincy Jones Chair of African American Music at Harvard, who said it would be “definitely a loss…should anything happen to Linda Williams’ presence in the field.” (The full report is archived at The Boston Globe, however, stumbled in its otherwise similar treatment of the Williams story. The paper bundled the arrest and two other unrelated Bates tragedies — the death of Morgan McDuffee ’02 and a campus rape in 2002 — together in a subhead of its April 23 story, “Professor’s Arrest Stuns Bates.” The treatment smacked of piling on and spurred a few Bates loyalists to respond to the paper’s ombudsman. One who wrote was Mark Segar, the parent of a 2000 Bates graduate and head of Waynflete School in Portland. “I believe your editors did a disservice both to the College and to Professor Williams by linking the previous tragedies together in a headline,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It is wrong to suggest that such events are somehow linked together in any way other than the grief and sadness left in their wake.” The Globe‘s ombudsman, Christine Chinlund, was unequivocal in her response to Segar: “You are right; it was a lousy headline.” The paper ran a clarification on April 25.

Talk of war

With the Iraq war sending the news media into overdrive, Bates faculty and students proved useful for the press. James Richter, associate professor of political science, fielded questions on a Maine Public Radio call-in program the day before the shooting started, while sociologist Francesco Duina and historian Christopher Beam helped the Portland Press Herald analyze the relationship between casualty rates and public support for the war.

The Associated Press looked to Professor Richard Wagner, prominent in the relatively new field of peace psychology, for guidance with the mixed feelings the war has produced for many. Confusion is understandable when there are so many unanswered questions, Wagner said. “We’ve got a situation where the U.S. is basically starting a war,” he said. “And we don’t have enough information to judge the rightness of it.”

Another AP reporter talked to Smadar Bakovic, a senior from Israel, about living life in the midst of armed conflict. “I feel that Americans in a way are privileged, because they can claim to be pacifist,” she said. “I wish that the world was like that — where saying that ‘I’m against war because it’s bad’ was enough.” Meanwhile, the Rev. Peter Gomes ’65 was defending our right to say just that in an eloquent Boston Globe op-ed; and in New Jersey, Yvonne Custis was wishing to the Bridgeton News that she would hear from her son, Marine Capt. Jon Custis ’91, who is serving in the Gulf theater. (See excerpt of Capt. Custis’ letter elsewhere on this page.)

Friends of the court

The Portland Press Herald graciously commended Bates, Bowdoin and Colby for joining 25 other selective colleges in filing a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow schools to consider an applicant’s race or ethnic background in the application process.

Friends in high places

Bates alums never stop making news. The Roanoke Times singled out freshman legislator Ben Cline ’94 for voting his conscience in Virginia’s House of Delegates, while the Boston Herald covered the election of Darrell Crate ’89 as chairman of the Republican State Committee in Massachusetts.

Elmer W. Campbell Professor of Economics David Aschauer explained to Jonathan Rauch in the January-February Atlantic Monthly how government spending actually does help the economy — if it’s infrastructure spending. Dan Doyle ’72, whose Encyclopedia of Sports Parenting (written with classmate Deborah Burch) will be published next year, commented for a November Sports Illustrated piece on the trend among young people toward sports specialization.

Bates media in the media

Already celebrated for its early entry into Webcasting and a breakthrough interview with President Hansen (favorite cereal: oatmeal), Bates’ radio station WRBC-FM turned up in Teen magazine’s annual College Bound guide. Listening to ‘RBC was No. 51 in a list of 101 “Cool Campus Activities” — ranked after the knighthood ceremony for newbies at Wartburg and above the Ranch Management Program at Texas Christian University.

Notable quote

“The convergence creep in advertising and human expression, such as music and movies, is simply appalling. There is no longer nobility nor purity in expression with jackals like Mr. Heyer drooling over our shared ideaplace. Profit motive is an acceptable human trait; culture has been up for sale for quite a while now. What scares me about Mr. Heyer’s comments at the Advertising Age ‘Madison & Vine’ conference is that he models a future where culture exists only to serve those who wish to manipulate others into buying sugar water.” — Thomas Ito ’99, in a letter to the editor of Advertising Age. Ito was commenting on a speech by Coca-Cola head Stephen Heyer, calling for a new convergence of product marketing with art and entertainment.