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Bates in the News: Nov. 11, 2016

Voter Suppression

President Spencer says a flier posted on campus was “absolutely directed at suppressing the vote” — Washington Post

A dastardly attempt to discourage Bates students from voting caught the attention of local and national media.

“Somebody doesn’t want Bates College students to vote Tuesday,” reported the Lewiston Sun Journal on Nov. 6.

Orange fliers posted in Commons and residences on Sunday by an unknown person implied that voting in Maine meant that a student must get a Maine driver’s license and, if they owned a car, register it, which could cost “hundreds of dollars.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Orange fliers with false voting information posted on campus on Nov. 6 were a deliberate attempt to discourage students from voting, said President Spencer. (Photograph by Sarah Frankie Sigman ’18)

In a statement issued Monday morning, President Spencer took to the bully pulpit, reaffirming Bates students’ legal right to vote and to same-day registration and denouncing the fliers as “clearly a deliberate attempt at voter suppression.” She added:

We are proud of our students’ interest and participation in the electoral process, and I am deeply disturbed that anyone would seek to deter their exercise of the most basic form of citizenship…. Any unofficial communications that suggest otherwise are contrary to the ideals of American democracy.

President Spencer leads off this story by WCSH-TV in Portland by saying that the orange fliers seemed “absolutely directed at suppressing the vote.”

Sarah Frankie Sigman ’19 of Port Washington, N.Y., told the Washington Post that “rage” was her reaction when she read the flier, labeled as a “Legal Advisory,” on Sunday in Commons.

“This is obviously meant to scare Bates students from voting, which is not right,” said Sigman, who spoke to her upbringing and how “the need to vote has been instilled in me since birth.”

On Election Day, the newspapers of MaineToday Media editorialized that “the principle of one person, one vote is something to celebrate” yet it has been “under attack” in Maine and in the nation.

Maine law is clear that a U.S. citizen of voting age can vote in Maine and register as late as Election Day by establishing “voting residence,” which can, in the case of a student, be a college dorm.

Student voters

‘Batesies really showed up’ on Election Day — Lewiston Sun Journal

In a noontime story on Election Day, the Lewiston Sun Journal noted that “Bates College students aren’t backing down at the polls.”

Hannah Wilson ’17 of Brooklyn, N.Y., casts her ballot at the Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue, two blocks from campus. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

The Nov. 8 story looked at how students were reacting to a weekend incident in which “mystery fliers” posted around campus “appeared to be an effort keep students from voting.”

Despite the attempt at voter suppression, “Batesies really showed up,” said Hannah Prince ’18 of Ardsley, N.Y.

The Sun Journal reported that campus sidewalks were “chalked with many messages urging everyone to vote and pointing the way to the polls” and that “posters and banners hung on walls” in Commons. “And many students were involved in trying to rouse their classmates to go vote.”

Katherine Cook ’18 of South Burlington, Vt., said that people need to realize “this election isn’t just about you, it’s about everyone else.”

Joseph Hall and history students

America’s founding greatness ‘was also an incomplete idealism’ — Portland Press Herald

In an op-ed published the day after the election, Associate Professor of History Joseph Hall and four students wrote that America’s greatness under a new president will require teamwork to make the country’s founding ideals “more real.” They continued:

Working together can be difficult. Recent efforts of voter suppression at Bates College make clear that some wish to silence others. More troublingly, many millions remain outside of the political process, marginalized by their lack of money, their lack of education and simply who they are.

Hall’s coauthors were Ben Aicher ’18 of Falmouth, Maine, Max Milavetz ’20 of Salt Lake City, Andrew Segal ’17 of Glencoe, Ill., and Francesca Steiner ’19 of Salt Lake City, all members of his course “The Age of the American Revolution, 1763-1789.”

Op-ed writers Ben Aicher ’18 of Falmouth, Maine, Max Milavetz ’20 of Salt Lake City, Francesca Steiner ’19 of Salt Lake City, Associate Professor of History Joe Hall, and Andrew Segal ’17 of Glencoe, Ill., pose on Alumni Walk on Nov. 11. (Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

Ashley Murray Muspratt ’02

Turning human waste into biofuel — BBC World News

The BBC World News show Horizons covered a Rwandan-based company founded by Ashley Murray Muspratt ’02 that turns solid human waste into biofuel for industrial kilns and boilers in the cement and textile industry.

The sanitized and odorless fuel has 20 percent more energy and 10 percent less moisture than other biomass fuels. “Africa needs power,” says Horizons host Adam Shaw, and access to power is seen as a key factor in the continent’s economic development.

Ashley Muspratt ’02 founded Waste Enterprisers and its Rwanda operation, Pivot, in 2010.

“Our mission is to radically reduce the cost of waste treatment for developing cities by producing valuable fuel from human waste,” Muspratt tells reporter Fiona Mbabazi. “In the U.S., we treat waste as a disposal problem rather than a resource. We have a huge market opportunity across the African continent and beyond.”

A biology major at Bates, Muspratt founded Waste Enterprisers and its Rwanda operation, Pivot, in 2010. She has a Ph.D. from Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and was a postdoctoral fellow at the International Water Management Institute in Ghana.

Phantom Punch

Exhibition of Saudi artwork highlights a fast-evolving art scene — Portland Press Herald

The landmark Museum of Art exhibition Phantom Punch “sizzles and sparkles in the academically open-minded and intersectional museum space,” writes Portland Press Herald art critic Dan Kany, “but underlying it is an anxiety about how to create a functional contemporary art culture for Saudis.”

In a country without a “robust community of art venues,” Saudi artists are creating an art culture through social media.

“And because 60 percent of Saudis are now 30 years or younger, these artists are trying to build a new cultural path forward for an ever younger and more technologically savvy society.”

From “Elementary 240,” 12 photographic prints and a video by Njoud Alanbari. (Courtesy of the artist)

Margaret Creighton

Echoes of an exposition, and an assassination — New York Times

For three days in Buffalo, New York Times reporter Eve Kahn followed a group of scholars assembled by Professor of History Margaret Creighton as they went about “excavating artifacts and scouring archives” related to the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 and the assassination of William McKinley.

Margaret Creighton is the author of The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City.

Those events are covered in Creighton’s new book, The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair.

The exhibition, Kahn writes, was “meant to celebrate America’s ingenuity and dominance over the Western Hemisphere — you know, when America was ‘great again.’”

Creighton explained the fair’s “amusements and philosophical framework, not the least of which were its undeniably racist overtones. The displays, she told me, were ‘all about supremacy.’”