Rochelle Gutiérrez: Shaking Math Education to the Core

Carletonian - 2 hours 24 min ago

As somebody who is passionate about math education reform, I was excited to hear that Rochelle Gutiérrez, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois, was coming to speak about “Rehumanizing Mathematics” at convocation. Most people would agree that the way we teach math in this country is deeply flawed; I would argue that it is, in fact, a critical issue for social justice, the soul of mathematics, and the basic humanity of the schooling experience.

In her talk, Gutiérrez outlined a phenomenal vision for revolutionizing math education, and returning beauty, joy, and humanity to the subject—and on the way, made me question everything I thought I knew about what math is.

On Friday afternoon, as I raved to my friend about rehumanizing mathematics, she asked me: “But isn’t the reason people like math because it’s so inhuman?” The question gave me pause. This is how our society sees math—abstract, separate from human beings, a sign of intelligence—something you’re either good at or you aren’t. At its core, math is far more of an art than a science, and shows itself everywhere in nature—and yet our public schools turn it into children’s daily torment session, where they are forced to spend an hour doing computers’ work, drudging through computations, nomenclature, and meaningless algorithms.

Most people have had to live through more than 13 years of this “slow violence,” as Gutiérrez aptly calls it, to the point where saying “I was never any good at math” is almost cool in a way that “I never got the hang of that whole ‘reading’ thing” never could be. The pent-up trauma and anger at the math education system could be felt bubbling beneath the surface in the chapel, as audience members shared stories of how they had felt dehumanized in math class. They had been told that they were not good at math, and thus not intelligent, and they had had to fight to believe that was not true.

The truth is that we are all born mathematical—in the words of Bob and Ellen Kaplan, founders of the Global Math Circle, we all have the “architectural instinct”—but only those who thrive on the narrow, detached-from-humans slice of it that we teach in school are left liking what we call “mathematics.”

Although this negative experience of math is widespread, it is not distributed equally across the population. The math education system consistently excludes and disadvantages women, people of color, and other minorities, preventing them from full economic access as the highest-paying jobs increasingly require quantitative reasoning skills.

In his book Radical Equations, Robert Moses argues that this is an issue on the same level of importance as the civil rights movement of the 60s. Gutiérrez seeks to combat this injustice by rehumanizing mathematics.

To do so, Gutiérrez challenges the very nature of math; to her, math can be found in musical rhythms, in dance steps; it can be found when deciding on a Tupperware for your leftovers, or when understanding “to what degree the seal nation as a whole is sick” based on the health of an individual seal.

By looking to indigenous perspectives and ethnomathematics from around the world, Gutiérrez paints a picture of math that extends beyond imagination, far past the confines of the arbitrary Algebra-Trigonometry-Calculus sequence that we stick to so religiously, or even the proofs of upper-level math that math majors tend to cite as “real math.”

Mathematics is taught for its supposed utility like no other subject. To Gutiérrez, mathematics should be a creative, artistic process. In her ideal world, the answer to the often-asked question of “when am I ever going to use this?” is: “you might not use it, and that’s okay; that’s not the point.”

I have struggled with this very question—even as a self-proclaimed math lover, I have often questioned the entire of field of mathematics, asking how they can justify exploring abstract concepts which seemingly have no foundation in reality—no “use.”

What Gutiérrez is suggesting is revolutionary. In the post-convocation lunch, she gave the example of an assignment her daughter was given in English class: to write a page of nonsense. Such an assignment has no practical “use,” but is simply done for the artistic value of it, and the building of a craft.

Just as you would create something unrealistic in art class, or do more than just play scales while jamming on an instrument, Gutiérrez wants children to be creative authors of mathematics, rather than consumers. She wants them to break rules; to “come up with a fifth” basic operation, to see what happens when the sum of the angles of a triangle exceed 180 degrees.

Gutiérrez made it clear that she does not advocate for an “anything-goes” sort of mathematics; in her classroom, falsehoods will still not pass for truths. But she sees these rule-breaking pursuits, which can lead to entirely new realms of structure such as non-Euclidian geometry, as inherently valuable and inherently human, and as a critical step in rehumanizing mathematics for everyone.

If a life-long math lover like me finds this idea liberating, I can only imagine what it could do if unleashed in the schools.

Gutiérrez stated clearly that the rehumanization of math is an ongoing process; we are just at the beginning of this revolution, which is vital for social equality, the soul of mathematics, and the wellbeing of our children.

Her talk was full of ideas and suggestions, as she reexamined every angle of math education, but her message rung out loud and clear: math is vast, varied, and human, and we should teach it as the creative, beautiful, joyful thing it is. I highly recommend her talk (a recording can be found on the Carleton Convocations website), and I hope that you will join the movement to rehumanize our children’s math education.

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Categories: Colleges

Searching for optimism amidst social media’s failed utopia

Carletonian - 2 hours 29 min ago

Perhaps Facebook first comes to mind. Upon its inception, the social, cultural, and political possibilities of Facebook as a vehicle for profound human connection seemed limitless. Both the fledgling company itself and popular discourse seemed assured of the platform’s unparalleled capacity to transform the qualitative nature and quantitative scope of human relations.

Facebook, and social media as a whole, would supposedly usher in a new era of increased information, mutual empathy, and shared understanding. Technology could be collectively benevolent, even if humans can be individually malevolent. Human utopia was near—all we had to do was connect and follow. Friendship was foundational to a better world, both online and off.

Such sweeping optimism has undoubtedly been relegated to the headlines of history. Facebook, rather than facilitating empathetic human understanding at the global scale, more frequently spreads state propaganda, political vitriol, and cat videos.

Instagram, rather than showcasing the beauty and diversity of social life, more frequently spreads self-objectification, digitally-induced imposter syndrome, and an endless anxiety-jealousy complex.

Twitter, while notable for its insufficient anti-hate speech guidelines, at least seems to cultivate reflexivity, humor, and sustained political engagement. Even Venmo, its status as a social media platform hotly disputed by the powers at be, seems to impose a neoliberal framework of valuation and economization upon digitally-ascribed friendships.

LinkedIn, a scourge of modernity I attempt not to remember, smells like a business school conference room, but tastes like a frat house’s basement.

Social media, as a conglomeration of digital platforms, burcreatized corporate structures, and compromised ideological justifications, thus has undoubtedly failed to achieve the lofty promises and aspirational rhetoric of the first decade of the 21st century.

Sorrowful realism has replaced unbridled optimism as the conventional characterization of social media in the common consciousness. Such pragmatism and critique are warranted, as social media increasingly operates in ideological and spatial spheres beyond and apart from the routinized performance of a sole individual. Social media reflects an ultimate paradox of modernity: the structures that most impact each individual assume a normative power that delimits the individual into mere objects.

To borrow from Foucault and Gramsci, social media has perhaps taken on a life of its own, simultaneously reflecting and reproducing toxic discourse and a hegemony of commodified human relations.

And yet, despite such searing (perhaps excessive) criticism, I am likely enmeshed in the digital world of likes, retweets, shares, and pins as much as the average college student. I am embedded in the digital world as much as the digital world is embedded in me.

Why is it that I made a LinkedIn account over the summer? Why is it that I implicitly care about my followers-to-following ratio on Instagram?

While such acknowledgment may expose me to charges of hypocrisy, I contend that the addictive nature of social media and its imposition of expansive, yet subtle conformity constitutes prima facie evidence for its hegemonic existence. We still participate in social media even as we level criticism against its societal purpose.

In the end, does hegemony leave much space for widespread sociopolitical change or active solidarity? What stands in the way of more robust political engagement by and through social media?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even WeChat are interested in social justice and political mobilization insofar as it aligns with shareholders’ desires. It is not that patterns of social networking or digital connectivity are, in and of themselves, noxious to progressive ambitions. Rather, quite simply, progressive ambitions are rarely profitable. Cheap rhetoric about corporate responsibility fades into the fine print of the bottom line. It seems impossible, or at least impractical, to envision radical transformation within an economic structure that so thoroughly depends on a centrist, market-oriented status quo.

To be sure, the position that capitalism, corporate bureaucracy, or commodification is the root of all social and political ills is too easy and too reductionist. Social media could certainly be reformed while still operating within a neoliberal ideological and economic frame. Meaningful reform and heightened political engagement does not a priori require social democracy or communist utopia. We need to be more pragmatic than that.

Optimism, along with the analog dreams of sociopolitical change and active solidarity, may not have passed yet into a non-earthly realm, but seems immobilized with an enduring bout of the human virus. It is a slowly-mutating, subtle, seemingly-benign virus. Sadly, if we know anything by now, humans are not always so easily convinced to inject necessary vaccines.

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Categories: Colleges

Social media offers new methods to enact same political tactics

Carletonian - 2 hours 33 min ago

People have been complaining about the pace of life for all of recorded history, so the old idea that social media has condensed and intensified our lives never made perfect sense to me. We have more access to more people in less time, but I think of this as a qualitative change and not a quantitative one.

I feel the same way about the development of current political discourse. Facebook, message boards, 24-hour news channels and websites, and of course Twitter have undoubtedly changed the way we discuss politics. But I hesitate to say that these media have created any entirely new trends, for better or worse.

Many pundits point to the Arab Spring as a sign that social media has changed how people organize in politics. Many of the movements developed, spread, and continued over social media.

But this is, in reality, only a superficial change. People always use the means available to them to enact change, and social media happens to be one of the most accessible platforms for communication in our world.

We can laud (or attack) social media for providing such a platform, but that does not change the reality: that change is as slow, unlikely, and stopgap as it has always been, with or without the presence of digital networks.

Of all the revolutions in the Arab Spring, only Tunisia’s was successful, and that has less to do with any specific medium of organization than with that country’s specific conditions. Social media does not change the actual relationships between people; it merely offers an additional way for people to access those relationships.

On a more trivial scale, the use of Twitter and other platforms in the United States to communicate political ideas to a wide audience differs from older forms only by degrees.

Just because more hot takes go viral now than before the Internet Age, it does not follow that those takes are having any more influence than, say, newspaper columns or radio broadcasts.

Our president’s liberal tweeting habits, the proliferation of online thinkpieces, the more-than-daily circulation of new controversies and viral messages, all of it may change the speed at which people communicate and absorb information, but ultimately we are all still human beings, and human beings only have so much time and energy in their lives with which to politic.

The fundamental limits of political action are not in its communication, but in its execution. Yes, restrictions on speech and the press exist—but that is true in so-called liberal democracies as well as so-called dictatorships, and people can always find access to subversive ideas if they seek them out. The real difference lies in what they do, or at least have the capacity to do, with those ideas.

It’s also important to note that most forms of social media have restrictions on expression at least as draconian as most countries, and often less even-handed. Even on platforms that supposedly make democracy easier, we are still beholden to the powers that be, only this time they’re corporations, not governments.

Social media, then, offers us another way, no better or worse on principle, to share those ideas before they turn into actions with tangible consequences. The word “media” is key: social media is simply one more form of communication with its own strengths and weaknesses.

In some ways, social media does make a political organizer’s job easier. They provide ready lists of interested, captive audience members, with unintrusive (for the most part) ways to reach them. But once people are on the list, once they actually do turn out, their success as political agents depends on their execution, not on whether they happened to post online or throw leaflets in the street.

Social media, and much of the world of technology in general, has little material effect on people’s lives, beyond an arguable kind of efficiency. The invention of the washing machine did not save people time washing clothes; it merely made people wash clothes more often.

Likewise, the technologies we have now offer us different ways to do the political work that people have always done. Social movements do not need digital media or even mass media. We know this. Look to the sixties, or the seventies, or the 1760s, and that’s only on this continent.

What social movements do need, in reality, is people willing to put in the necessary work. In the aftermath of political change, we judge events by what they accomplish more than the means used to achieve them.

If people use social media to effect change, all the power to them. But that power comes from the change, not the tools used. We judge impact, not intent—as Malcolm X put it, by any means necessary.

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Categories: Colleges

Knights athletics struggle to draw fans to games

Carletonian - 2 hours 43 min ago

Two weeks ago, the Knights football team fell at Laird Stadium to #4 Saint John’s University by a score of 56-10. It was the first time since 2014 that the Knights scored any points against the high-powered Johnnies. However, hardly any Carleton fans knew about this because, well, there were none there. In fact, the only way to tell the game was played in Northfield was the Knights’ logo at the 50 yard line. There was only a blanketing sea of red across the bleachers as the well-traveling Johnnie fan base outperformed Carleton’s yet again. The story was similar in the Knights’ first game of the season, the annual “Book of Knowledge” match against the Macalester College Scots. Though the Knights routed the Scots by a tally of 41-0, there were hardly any Knights faithful in the crowd to see it. Part of the reason could have been that the game was played before school started, but this is wishful thinking.

The harsh reality of the situation is that Carleton athletics has historically received low attendance from its students, a reality that other MIAC schools don’t always have to face. From the football field to the soccer pitch to the baseball diamond to the basketball court, the Carleton student body is known to never show out and support their teams. This is curious given that there are 20 varsity sports teams at Carleton, each with fairly large roster sizes. Though the football team has the largest roster at 58 players, the baseball team also has one of their largest rosters ever at 34 players. Men’s track and field has 48 athletes, and women’s track and field has 37. The point is that athletic rosters at Carleton are fairly large, so a sizable chunk of the student body is comprised of athletes or those who know and live with athletes.

“The academics are so rigorous and students hold themselves to such a high standard at Carleton that it doesn’t allow for them to take a break and come out and support athletics,” said sophomore soccer forward Bella Bettner. “However, student-athletes understand this and truly do appreciate it when people are able to come.”

The difficult academic environment is certainly grounds for many students to decide to stay in and complete work for their classes. The fast pace of the trimester system typically leads to large amounts of work to complete in small periods of time, so attending athletic events falls pretty far down on the list of priorities for non-athletes. Even so, fans making the extra effort to support their athletes would be appreciated, and perhaps even help to energize our teams. “I feel like our team is really excited when we see a lot of people on the hill. It makes us want to show out for our friends,” said senior soccer outside midfielder Madeline Marker. “The hill” she refers to is the area where fans sit, which overlooks Bell Field during Knights home games. Despite the men’s and women’s soccer success thus far in the year, they typically only see visiting fans on home game days.

Another potential factor for low attendance, especially in the fall, is the persistent cold weather that seems to hit earlier and earlier each year. Winter sports don’t compete outside, but soccer and football are not indoor sports. It can be difficult to ask fans to leave their homework behind, just to sit outside on a windy, overcast day in low temperatures. This is especially a problem at Bell Field, as the top of the hill is known to get particularly windy and therefore especially cold. Sitting further up provides a far greater vantage point but worse weather.

Carleton Men’s Soccer competes in a well-attended game at Bell Field. Attendence at Carleton athletic events is historically low.

The same issue doesn’t always present itself for spring sports. The Knights baseball team competes on occasionally warm and sunny Saturdays at home, and faces the same attendance issues as the fall sports. “I think that most people here at Carleton aren’t playing a sport because they expect a lot of fanfare around the games or anything, they’re playing because they love the game and love competing,” senior starting pitcher Owen Riley said. “You definitely see other schools get more fans, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we don’t have a lot of guys on the team from Minnesota. Obviously it’s great to have fans on those warm Saturdays, and it’s always kind of fun to get heckled by people at schools like Saint John’s, but for me the bottom line is winning games on the field and not worrying about how many people are there to see it.”

The Knights baseball team is by far the most diverse baseball team in the conference, with just four of their 34 players coming from Minnesota. Compare them to Saint John’s University, who fielded just two players from outside Minnesota last season, and there is a distinguishable difference in athletic culture. Beyond baseball, Carleton consistently has the most geographically diverse athletic program in the MIAC. This is due to the school itself drawing from a much wider sphere than others in the conference. This phenomenon leads to less family attendance at games because they simply don’t live close enough. Even families with Carleton athletes living in-state can easily opt to follow the broadcasts via Knights Online or other school’s broadcast services.

It is well-established that a focus on athletics is not primary at Carleton, and athletes accept this fact. Due to that, weather, a geographically diverse athletics program and Knights Online, crowd sizes are unlikely to change. It isn’t probable that Carleton football will ever see a Saint John’s-sized crowd, and Carleton baseball will never get fans to travel with the team like Gustavus Adolphus does. Athletic culture at this college prevents that. That being said, it wouldn’t be a negative thing for the student body to support the teams that represent them, or at least get to know them. The truth is, almost every varsity athlete at Carleton is involved in extracurriculars other than their sport. Varsity athletes here are just regular students with the same ambitions for academic success, internships, law schools and medical schools as the rest of the student body. Broader support for athletes would certainly be welcomed and overwhelmingly positive for campus culture.

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Categories: Colleges

French professor Cathy Yandell receives knighthood from French government

Carletonian - 2 hours 51 min ago

“Bonjour! Ça va?” Everytime I walk into my French 204 class, I’m greeted by a wave of positivity and a big smile followed by a frenzy of French words that have finally started to register in my mind after three and a half terms. Cathy Yandell, W. I. and Hulda F. Daniell Professor of French Literature, Language and Culture professor, has gained a reputation where anyone who knows her will be ready to testify to her greatness, love and resilience.

Her distinguished work extends far and beyond French language into the cultural understanding of art and history in the Francophone world. Now, her work, which complements her vibrant, artistic personality, has finally earned her recognition. This week our very own Cathy Yandell received knighthood from the French government in the venerable Ordre des Palmes académiques.

This prestigious honor is given to an individual who has shown excellence in promoting the study of French language and culture. The ceremony was held on Tuesday, September 24 and was attended by numerous professors from different departments, the President of the college, Steven Pozkanser, Vice President and Treasurer Frederick Rogers, and multiple other administrative heads.

Additionally, about a third of the people in attendance at the ceremony comprised of students who wanted to share this exciting moment with her. The amount of people in attendance itself showed Yandel’s reputation, not only as a professor but as a person.

The knighthood was officiated by an official from the French consulate in Chicago who also later joined a panel on the burning of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and gave a riveting speech in Yandel’s honor. The ceremony ended with Yandell saying a few words after receiving the honor.

“I have been told I need to say a few words so here we go.”

She proceeded to thank her friend who nominated her for the award without her knowledge and to President Pozkanser who sent in a glorious recommendation for Yandell, also without her knowledge. She expressed the shock she felt when she received an email from the French government congratulating her on her achievement, followed by joy and gratitude.

“I looked at the email saying I will be knighted and I was so shocked,” said Yandell. “I checked the email address multiple times, maybe they sent it to the wrong person. I kept thinking, are you sure this is meant for me? But now I believe it was real after all.”

This high honor is unlikely to surprise anyone who has taken a class with her or spoken with her outside class (she probably will agree to speak in English if you can’t say more than “Bonjour”). So a big congratulations to Cathy Yandell, and a request to only address her as ‘chevalier’ Cathy and nothing else.

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Categories: Colleges

Student organization ‘Adopt-a-Grandparent’ connects Carls with elderly community residents

Carletonian - 2 hours 55 min ago

Every Sunday afternoon, a group of Carleton students take a well deserved break from studying and drive to Three Links Care Center, where their “grandparents” live. These students are part of the CCCE volunteer program aptly titled Adopt-a-Grandparent, which matches students with elderly residents at a local nursing home. For an hour on Sundays, students visit with their “buddies” and provide companionship.

Sara Liu ’22, one of the group’s two Program Directors, describes a typical visit: “Student-buddy pairs usually chat for an hour, swapping stories. Some buddies are more introverted and prefer to do activities like puzzles or watching television.”

For the elderly residents, the transition to life in a nursing home setting can be a difficult and lonely. Liu explains that many of the residents “grew up in large families, always surrounded by loved ones. Now, they stay in a room by themselves for most of the day or with a roommate they generally don’t talk to.

The group’s other program director, Emily Fichandler ’20, added, “As people age, their lives can become smaller — their room is confining, they don’t see people as much as they did when they were younger, they lose the ability to do many things they once valued.”

Students that volunteer at the Center, the directors believe, can be a source of positivity, energy, and light for the residents. “I go every Sunday and do my best to brighten my resident’s day” Fichandler said, “Whether through playing cards, listening to old stories, or sharing about my week. It can be a hard but rewarding hour.”

The program’s goal is to ensure that residents at Three Links feel valued and cared for. According to Erica Zweifel, the Associate Director of the CCCE, Adopt-a-Grandparent is categorized as a “Health and Wellbeing” focused volunteer program.

“This program is of interest to students considering health related careers as this experience provides a window into geriatric care,” she remarked. Zweifel also commented that Carleton is considering expanding the program with Northfield Retirement Community as a potential second location.Many students involved in the program form lasting relationships with their assigned buddy. Fichandler has had two buddies during her time at Carleton, and she has been visiting with her current buddy for two years. “My buddy loves to tell and retell stories. I write her letters when I’m away and bring her small tokens so she can be reminded of me during the week. She may not always remember my name, but her face lights up when I walk in and we turn down the TV to chat more easily.”

While the elderly residents enjoy engaging with the volunteers and benefit from their weekly interactions, students also gain a lot from the experience. Reflecting on her participation over the years, Fichandler said “I have learned perspective. As a volunteer I know I must leave my thoughts or tiredness at the door — I am here for my buddy. I have learned the power my presence can be, and how good it feels to give my time to another.”

Liu found that the residents carry invaluable insight and wisdom; she says, “My buddy always tells me that life is like a letter that hasn’t been fully written. You cannot receive that kind of life advice from someone who is our age or even our parent’s age. There’s a lot we can learn from the experiences of the generations that came before us.”

Volunteers believe the cross-generational friendships created within the program are mutually engaging and enriching. As Fichandler put it, “Intergenerational” friendships widen our worlds.”

Students interested it the Adopt-a-Grandparent program can join the group at any point in the academic year by contacting Sara Liu or Emily Fichandler.

Many students involved in the program form lasting relationships with their assigned buddy. Fichandler has had two buddies during her time at Carleton, and she has been visiting with her current buddy for two years. “My buddy loves to tell and retell stories. I write her letters when I’m away and bring her small tokens so she can be reminded of me during the week. She may not always remember my name, but her face lights up when I walk in and we turn down the TV to chat more easily.”

While the elderly residents enjoy engaging with the volunteers and benefit from their weekly interactions, students also gain a lot from the experience. Reflecting on her participation over the years, Fichandler said “I have learned perspective. As a volunteer I know I must leave my thoughts or tiredness at the door — I am here for my buddy. I have learned the power my presence can be, and how good it feels to give my time to another.”

Liu found that the residents carry invaluable insight and wisdom; she says, “My buddy always tells me that life is like a letter that hasn’t been fully written. You cannot receive that kind of life advice from someone who is our age or even our parent’s age. There’s a lot we can learn from the experiences of the generations that came before us.”

Volunteers believe the cross-generational friendships created within the program are mutually engaging and enriching. As Fichandler put it, “Intergenerational” friendships widen our worlds.”

Students interested it the Adopt-a-Grandparent program can join the group at any point in the academic year by contacting Sara Liu or Emily Fichandler.

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Categories: Colleges

Carleton responds to Betsy DeVos’ Title IX changes

Carletonian - 2 hours 59 min ago

In November 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced proposed changes to Title IX policies enacted under the Obama administration, which are expected to be approved by the current administration sometime this fall.

Proposed changes include requiring victims of sexual assault to provide a live cross-examination by an advisor, as well as a higher evidentiary standard requirement.

Laura Riehle-Merrill, Carleton’s Title IX Coordinator, spoke with the Carletonian about the proposed changes and how they could affect Carleton students.

“Once the final regulations are announced, like all institutions of higher education which receive federal aid, Carleton will need to update our policy and process to comply with these guidelines—this process will involve our entire campus community,” said Riehle-Merrill.

The new rules were initially slated to be set in place after “several months” of a public comment period, which was later pushed back. The college submitted public comments in the form of a letter in January of this year. However, it remains unclear as to when the Department of Education’s proposed changes will be put in place.

A number of victim advocacy groups, such as End Rape on Campus, Know Your IX and the National Women’s Law Center, condemned the proposed regulations and launched a campaign in response to the proposals under the hashtag #KnowYourIX.

“Like much of the higher education community, Carleton has concerns about specific components which are proposed in the new regulations,” said Riehle-Merrill.

One of the Obama administration’s more controversial guidelines was to use a lower standard of evidence (often referred to as “preponderence of evidence”) for sexual assault cases. The Department of Education under the new administration denounced this guideline as giving preferential treatment to the victim over the accused.

“We are currently waiting to see what the final regulations will be. Under the proposed new regulations, colleges will be required to use the higher standard of ‘clear and convincing evidence’ if they use such a standard in making any other disciplinary decisions relating to students, staff, or faculty,” said Riehle-Merrill. “Under our current ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard the College looks to whether it is more likely than not that the accused student committed the alleged misconduct. This evidentiary standard is only utilized in our formal Title IX complaint process.”

In January 2019, the College released its official statement signed by President Steven Poskanzer in the form of a letter “to offer comments on the Department of Education’s proposed regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972,” according to the letter’s introduction.

In the statement, the college listed three “egregious problems” in DeVos’ proposed Title IX changes.

The first of these problems is with Proposed Regulation 106.45 (b)(3)(vii): requiring institutions to provide a live disciplinary hearing at which a cross-examination must be conducted by an advisor of choice, which the college’s statement calls “fundamentally ill-conceived and will directly interfere with the primarily educational purpose of college discipline.”

The letter goes on to point out that the cross-examination requirement will likely “generate problems of equity in representation as respondents will be much more likely than complainants to engage sophisticated criminal defense lawyers to protect their interests.”

The second issue the statement addressed is with Proposed Regulation 106.45 (b)(4)(i): the requirement of the institution to apply the same standard of evidence for complaints filed by students as it would for staff and faculty.

Carleton’s official statement said, “A rigid insistence on the same standard in all contexts would place large numbers of colleges and universities in an untenable position of having to choose between standards that have worked well for different constituencies or forcing the wrong standard on other important groups.”

The final problem the College listed is with Proposed Regulation 106.45 (b)(4)(i) which would instruct institutions to apply the “clear and convincing” (higher standard of proof) requirement for sexual misconduct cases but apply the “preponderance of the evidence” (lower standard of proof) requirement for non-sexual related misconduct. This means, sexual assault cases will require a higher evidentiary standard than other serious disciplinary cases.

In response to this proposal, the college stated, “This would permit institutions to unwisely and unfairly subject the behavior of a complainant in a sexual misconduct case to a higher level of scrutiny than a similarly-situated complainant in an equally serious nonsexual disciplinary matter.”

Previously, the Obama-era regulations had demanded that institutions use the lowest standard of proof (“preponderance of the evidence”) in sexual assault cases, citing difficulty in proving evidence in sexual assault cases compared to other disciplinary cases.

However, Carleton hopes to provide continued support to students going through the formal Title IX process, despite the potential new regulations. Riehle-Merrill said, “While we hope several of these proposed guidelines do not make it into the final guidelines, we are confident that we will be able to continue to offer all members of our campus community options and support and we will work to ensure that our entire community is informed.”

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Categories: Colleges

October 10-16, 2019

Carletonian - 3 hours 1 min ago

Thursday, October 10
Evening: Security responded to a fire alarm at an off campus house. No reason for this alarm could be found.

Saturday, October 12
Early Morning: Security was called to check on an intoxicated student. This student was left in the care of some friends.

Sunday, October 13
Early Morning: Security was called to check on another intoxicated student. This student was also being cared for by a friend for the evening.

Early Morning: Security was called to check on the report of a student wandering the halls of a dorm and entering rooms. This student had apparently wandered out of their clothing as well, as clothing in the hallway was the only thing Security found.

Afternoon: Taxi vouchers were given to a student that needed transportation to a medical facility.

Evening: Burnt food activated the fire alarm in a campus house. Security responded and was able to silence and reset the alarm.

Tuesday. October 15
Afternoon: Security was called to dispose of some drug paraphernalia.

Wednesday, October 16
Morning: Security responded to Laird for a fire alarm. A faulty smoke detector had set off the building fire alarm. No fire.

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Dean of Students Office seeks to serve students’ cold-weather needs with Winter Wardrobe

Carletonian - 3 hours 4 min ago

Carleton will now provide gently used cold-weather outerwear to students free of charge. Introduced last week in an email from the Dean of Students Office, the “Winter Wardrobe” will be comprised entirely of community-donated articles.

The creation of the wardrobe comes in the wake of a particularly cold winter—popularly referred to as the Polar Vortex of 2019. Following days of sub-fifty temperatures, Carleton witnessed an outpouring of student concern about students’ ability to get to classes safely, especially those who are unable to afford quality cold-weather clothing.

“I cannot say for certain, but I believe the polar vortex may have played a role in the creation of the coat drive,” stated James Gardner ’20, Treasurer and Vice President of Mortar Board.
SAO and Mortar Board have been working closely with the Division of Student Life, helping to collect, sort, and eventually distribute winter gear to students.

Donations began Monday, October 14, and will continue through Friday, October 18. Faculty, staff and students have all been invited to donate items to the Wardrobe. Parents were also notified of the Wardrobe over email and have already sent several items to Carleton’s Student Activities Office (SAO) for donation. Acceptable donations include coats, scarves, gloves, boots, hats and earmuffs.

Collection bins are currently located in the Sayles-Hill Great Space. Students who are currently studying off-campus will be able to make use of the wardrobe when it reopens in January of Winter term.

According to Area Director and Winter Wardrobe program manager Alessa Strelecki, “The Division of Student Life has identified access to winter clothing items as something that could be beneficial to our community.”

“The winter months in Northfield are cold and long, and winter clothing can be a significant financial investment,” Strelecki said.

“Our goal is to ensure that all students are warm and safe during the winter months.”
The Wardrobe is intended for students with the greatest financial need, but will be open to the entire student body. “We are confident given the culture of Carleton that the honor system will work well,” said Strelecki.

“We are excited to implement this new program for students and to learn more about the need of winter clothing on campus,” said Miiko Taylor, Assistant Director of the Student Activities office. “We’ve gotten support from Mortar Board who has helped maintain the donation area in Sayles.”

Gardner also believes the Wardrobe “has great potential to help students who need winter gear but can’t gain access to them due to circumstances beyond their control.”

The Winter Wardrobe will open on Tuesday, October 22 at 1 p.m. in Sayles-Hill room 252 and will close on Friday, October 25.

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Grant supporting low-income students expires

Carletonian - 3 hours 6 min ago

A grant that supported low-income students in times of financial crisis has just reached the end of its two-year term. Endowed by the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation (now Ascendium Education Solutions) in the fall of 2017, the Dash Emergency Grant provided Carleton with $168,000 to cover students’ unexpected expenses. Ascendium Education Solutions awarded a total of $7.2 million to 32 colleges across the midwest in 2017.

The Dash Grant was available only to domestic students with exceptional financial need, as determined by student eligibility for a federal Pell Grant. Over the course of the past two academic years, individual student grants summed around $1,000 and covered expenses such as winter clothing, transportation, healthcare, housing and family emergencies. During the 2017–18 school year, Carleton used $64,550 to help 67 different students; in 2018–19, 102 students benefited from the remaining $103,555.

The Dash Grant expires this year, consequently reducing Carleton’s capacity to assist low-income students with their financial concerns. However, students will continue to have a number of support options on campus. “Due to the generosity of Carleton alumni, we will continue to provide emergency funding for students,” Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston explained.

The emergency funding program organized by the Dean of Students Office in 2016, for example, was created to help students who have “exhausted all other possible financial resources,” according to the Office’s website. This program is available to both DACA and international students, who were not eligible for Dash grants. Further, this program can assist students in purchasing textbooks—a cost not subsidized under the Dash fund.

Trey Williams, director of TRIO, which assists low-income, first-generation and disabled students on campus, called the emergency program “a phenomenal tool to help students and one that TRIO will continue to speak with students about.”

However, the Dean of Students’ emergency funding program provides smaller individual grants than the Dash Grant provided. Grants typically total $250 per student—$750 less than that offered by Dash grants. According to Livingston, during the 2017-18 school year, the Dean of Students Office distributed $30,471 to students; during the 2018-19 school year, the office distributed $16,747.

Anesu Masakura ’20, President of the Carleton Student Association (CSA), also pointed out that the emergency program does not cover the same scope of expenses that the Dash grant covered, such as clothing, rent, and medical bills. “What we don’t want is students worrying about where they are going to get a winter coat or rent for the next month,” said Masakura.

Going forward, CSA intends to “work with Dean Livingston’s office to ensure that students’ needs are met just like before by advocating for an increase in the emergency funds [and] the scope of the funds,” said Masakura. He also encouraged “new ideas from students about what CSA or the College can do to best address their needs.”

Williams also cited the importance of supporting students through the “collaborative efforts of many offices and departments,” including TRIO, the Business Office, and Student Financial Services, who declined to comment on this story.

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CarlDems and SARC protest Minneapolis Trump rally

Carletonian - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 11:57pm

Last Thursday, 18 Carleton students journeyed north in an organized venture to join protesters on the streets of downtown Minneapolis in defiance of a reelection campaign rally held by President Trump at Target Center.

The outing was a collaboration between CarlDems and Student Advocates for Reproductive Choice (SARC), organized by Carrie Kisicki ’21 and Alec Jacobson ’21 respectively. SARC, a branch for NARAL Pro-Choice activism group, was the main organizer for the event, with Jacobson taking the lead on planning the protest trip.

“Alec and I talked about organizing SARC and Dems to go the protest and possibly meet up with NARAL Pro-Choice group downtown. Because the timing didn’t work out to meet up with them, we just went on our own as a Carleton group,” Kisicki said.

This was the first rally held by Trump following the House of Representatives’s official announcement of impeachment inquiries, so it came at a time of intense national attention.

Kisicki said the reason why she felt she needed to join the protests was because “it felt like an important time for as many people as possible to show up, be seen, and reiterate that his actions as president have been harmful and unacceptable.”

Jacobson describes the protest as a mainly peaceful scene, but not without its passion and anger: “There were thousands of protesters walking around the Trump center holding signs and chanting. It was like a massive sea of people. While the protest was peaceful, it was very oppositional, and we saw plenty of strong words exchanged between Trump supporters and protesters.”
Rebecca Margolis ’21, a student who has been involved in multiple protests around the country and who attended the protest as part of this event, said that she was “interested to see that the police were not in riot gear and that it was a pretty calm environment. People were pretty polite.”

She also says she was struck by how close the protests were to Trump: “This is the first protest that I’ve been this close to Trump, he was literally right there. And I think that made it all the more powerful, because it wasn’t abstract and he was right there in the space where we were.”

Because of the charged timing of the rally, Trump’s Minneapolis campaign event received much coverage in the media, with outlets like Vox writing a piece titled “Trump’s Minnesota rally was a window into how ugly his 2020 campaign will be.” According to CNN, Trump used this rally to specifically target Somali immigrants by saying in his rally :

“For many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers. I promised you that as president I would give local communities a greater say in refugee policy and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration control. And I’ve done that.”

These statements by Trump reflect the anti-immigrant rhetoric he has used throughout his presidency to incite nationalist tensions. He also used the rally to call Minnesotan Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American, a “disgrace to our country.”

He also used the rally to rail against the Democrats taking action against him with the impeachment proceedings. The Washington Post reports that he said, “The Democrats’ brazen attempt to overthrow our government will produce a backlash at the ballot box, the likes of which they have never, ever seen before in the history of our country,” using a recent favorite claim using the impeachment inquiries to back up why he will win reelection in 2020.

Minnesota is a particularly contentious battleground since in 2016 Hillary Clinton only won with a narrowing 44,000 more votes than Trump. The president tweeted in July that he will win the state in 2020 “because of America hating anti-Semite Ilhan Omar & the fact that Minnesota is having its best economic year ever”.

The organizing of the event was also important in terms of the collaboration of different activism groups on campus. Kisicki writes:

“I think the whole process of organizing people to go to the protest really drove home for me the importance of connecting with other student political groups. Dems is pretty busy planning other events this term, and I don’t think we would have been able to manage transporting people to a protest on our own. But because we worked with Alec and SARC and they took on most of the organizing responsibilities, nearly twenty students were able to participate in an important protest. In the future I hope that student political groups can continue to build relationships and work together to connect students to the opportunities they really care about.”

Saying why he believes that protests like these are critical to contemporary political discourse, Jacobson says:

“Protests like this one show that Trump’s views don’t represent all Minnesotans or all Americans. When he says that Somali refugees aren’t welcome here, it’s essential to demonstrate that we do not believe that.”

Jacobson adds, “I hope that events like this encourage people to get involved in political organizing for the 2020 elections and to vote. This may be the most important election of our lives.”

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One athlete’s perspective: “Locker Talk or Toxic Masculinity” focuses on men, objectifies women

Carletonian - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 11:51pm

This past Monday, under the direction of multiple Carleton organizations, all varsity athletes were required to convene in Skinner Memorial Chapel to hear a sort of convocation regarding sexual violence. Motivated by the NCAA Board of Governors’ adoption of new sexual violence policy, which mandates that all coaches, college athletes and athletics administrators are required to be annually educated in sexual violence prevention. With the 2019-2020 academic year being the first since the revamped sexual violence policy’s implementation, Carleton Athletics took a pragmatic, time-saving approach in its initial attempt to provide a comprehensive sexual violence education.

As opposed to each team undergoing individual or group training, like Carleton’s Green Dot program, Carleton opted to have each team partake in the same education: a presentation given by Emmy-nominated filmmaker and activist Byron Hurt, entitled “Locker Room Talk, or Toxic Masculinity?” Co-sponsored by SHAC, the Gender and Sexuality Center, Carleton’s Title IX Office, the Office of Intercultural Learning, the Office of Health Promotion and Carleton Varsity Athletics, Hurt addressed a crowd of almost exclusively those involved in the athletic community, although the event was open to the Carleton public. Hurt spoke, engaged the crowd, and dialogued on his own experience as a man for about an hour, receiving mixed reviews from student-athletes on both his subject matter and on Carleton’s handling of sexual violence education.

Entering the chapel, many male student-athletes were under the assumption that they would be participating in a talk directly confronting, criticizing, and shaming their own masculinity. The title of Hurt’s presentation, “Locker Room Talk, or Toxic Masculinity?” hearkens back to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, where he defended a 2005 hot-mic excerpt, in which he was recorded bragging about groping, kissing, and forcing himself upon women, by claiming his obviously sexist and offensive banter was semi-acceptable “locker room talk.” An anonymous male student-athlete, unaffiliated with the Carletonian, voiced his concerns with us prior to Hurt’s chat: “Obviously, when the entire athletic program, men and women both, are forced to attend a talk discussing ‘locker room talk’ and toxic masculinity, you feel a little bit implicated. It’s never fun to be semi-referenced in the talk discussing ‘locker room talk’ and toxic masculinity, you feel a little bit implicated. It’s never fun to be semi-referenced in the same context as toxic masculinity, or whatever ‘locker room talk’ consists of.” Female student-athletes also felt concerned entering the talk, as perhaps they’d have no relevance in, or need to partake in Hurt’s conversation, as the title gave the presentation the appearance of being significantly male-oriented.

After an introduction by GSC Director Danny Matthews, Hurt took the stage. Byron began by taking fifteen minutes to introduce himself, elaborating extensively on his background as he paced through the chapel aisle, and explaining how he originally became interested in gender and sexual violence activism. As a student at Northeastern University, a mentor of Hurt asked him about the daily measures that Hurt took to ensure that he would not be sexually assaulted. As Byron explained, he had never even pondered the idea that as a male, he could be a victim of sexual violence.

Hurt, after confirming with the men in the audience that they too did not take daily measures to prevent sexual assault, then prompted the women in the crowd to provide examples of the ways in which they guarded themselves against sexual violence. Unsurprisingly, Hurt received numerous responses from violence conscious women, including, but not limited to, not wearing provocative clothing, never walking alone, using the buddy system, not leaving one’s drink unattended, walking with keys to defend oneself, and keeping a method of self defense, like mace, in a purse. This exercise, according to Hurt, was to enlighten men to the constant dangers imposed on women by rape culture. “It serves me no good to stand up here and attack you for being male,” Hurt said of the activity. “That is not my point. My point is to help you think about the world that you live in, and how it is very different from the world that women are subjected to.”

By all accounts, Hurt is right in exposing men to some of the horrors of being a woman, and having to worry about potentially defending yourself from an attacker at any given moment. The issue underscoring Hurt’s lecture is his utter abstention of women from the discussion about sexual assault, with the exception of using them as objective examples to educate men. An unnamed female student-athlete articulated these sentiments: “I think what he said was important and needed to be said, but it was frustrating that this was supposed to be our big NCAA talk on sexual violence, and it wasn’t geared towards women at all. It was only geared toward men.”

As mentioned previously, this is the first year of the NCAA’s mandate that all individuals involved in varsity athletics must attend some sort of educational seminar on sexual violence. The athletic program had not yet been required to coordinate this type of education for each of the students and coaches in its program, so perhaps it is deserving of somewhat of a learning curve. Although, athletic administrators do give hour-long compliance presentations to each team at the beginning of each academic year, discussing subjects like hazing and academic policy, so they are no stranger to ensuring that each athlete receives hour-long, NCAA mandated educational seminars. Further, it appears that Hurt has given the exact same presentation multiple times, most recently presenting at St. Cloud State. Certainly, the athletic administration had a detailed idea of the material that was to be discussed in the presentation before contracting Hurt. Assuming they did, qualms about the exemplification of women as an objective male teaching tool were not considered, and set aside for convenience purposes. Though more difficult to coordinate, numerous other methods of in-house sexual violence education exist on campus. The GSC advertises “a great menu of hour-long workshops you can host,” that while perhaps more inefficient to coordinate, would likely come at a cheaper cost, and could have been tailored to educate both men and women more effectively than a program-wide presentation that distanced women from the conversation around sexual violence.

Perhaps the most curious example of this male-only education phenomenon occurred at Hurt’s conclusion, where he asked the men in the crowd to stand up if they had a mother, sister, or female friend or other relative that they cared about, challenging those standing to consider the emotional distress they would feel if those that they cared about were the target of an act of sexual violence. This cemented the objectification of women in Hurt’s presentation as not humans deserving of rights, but as means to an end of teaching men about sexual violence. Men should not be interested in preventing sexual violence against women because they are mothers, sisters, and daughters, but because they deserve equal rights, respect, and equal treatment as their husbands, brothers, and sons.

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Categories: Colleges

With new program, Oles go Out for Lunch

St. Olaf College - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 4:16pm
Each month, members of the St. Olaf College community gather in the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion lounge to share a meal and engage in conversation about the LGBTQIA+ experience.
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Student Zero Waste Conference

Learn about a STA's experience at the Student Zero Waste Conference.

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Creating opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs

St. Olaf College - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:41pm
At St. Olaf, we create opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. That support, paired with the power of a liberal arts education, has our students turning their big ideas into real-world businesses.
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Alex Oana ’92 is Pursuing an Entrepreneurial Dream

St. Olaf College - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:44am
Alex Oana ’92 is pursuing an entrepreneurial dream.
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Norway Tour Reflections

St. Olaf College - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:00am
St. Olaf Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra students brought their musical gifts to Norway earlier this summer during a memorable two-week tour of Norway.
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An expedition: Finding the elusive Arb ATM

Carletonian - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 10:08am

It began on the night of NOlympics, when I was scheduled to return my New Student Week frisbee to its rightful owner, an inhabitant of Goodhue. After returning the frisbee, I observed a congregation in the Goodhue MegaLounge, cloaked in not only outdoor jackets, but also courage and hope. I inquired as to what they might be seeking at this hour.

The Wells-Fargo ATM in the Arb, of course! If one looked on Google Maps, and searched “ATM near me,” one would find there was a clearly noted Wells Fargo ATM in the thick of Cowling Arboretum. We were all in urgent need of funds, and the ATM in the Arb was, clearly, a better option than the one in Sayles.

As a fellow newcomer to Carleton in need of exactly twenty dollars drawn from an ATM with a light service fee at precisely 9:04 p.m., I immediately signed onto this plan. Luckily, as if in anticipation of this journey, I was wearing rain boots, the yellow rubber kind with chickens patterned on them.

We assigned ourselves numbers so we would not lose track of each other like a veritable herd of sheep. We set off through the dark wilds to the north, looking at Google Maps all the way. At some point, our phones informed us, like so many magic eight balls, we had to make a sharp left from the trail into dense foliage. We followed obsequiously.

We descended into thickets and tall grasses, and finally into calf-deep water. We were nearly there. After hacking through more trees, we at last came into a clearing. There the ATM stood, glorious in its plastic and metal beauty. We began prostrating ourselves in prayer to the night sky, giving thanks for the Earth, hugging each other in a showing of common humanity. We had made it. Unfortunately for us, the machine did not work and dispensed no money. It still deserved deity status, nonetheless.

We cried long and hard, and then we immortalized our struggles in a photograph. We trekked back, this time getting lost and falling into much deeper waters, waters that seemed especially foreboding to new students. We had not yet taken the required four terms of PE at Carleton to strengthen our muscles. My rain boots were sadly too short and flooded with water.

“Don’t forget to check for leeches when you get back to your dorm,” said one of my comrades.

I nodded vigorously, remembering a scene from A Series of Unfortunate Events. “Leeches are used as medical treatments to prevent blood clots because they secrete peptides,” I added helpfully. Some murmured their thanks for leeches and prayed for their continued, happy, and peptide-rich existence within the Arb swamp within which we were mired.

As we emerged from the thigh-deep water onto one of the trails leading back to campus, we looked at each other in collective awe.

Yes, we were the next generation of explorers, the Lawrence McKinley Goulds of our time. One of these days, we too will be blessed with a taxidermied squirrel or leech from our venture to the ATM, proudly bestowed in a glass case on 4th Libe.

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Fall Colors and Falling Leaves

Carletonian - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 10:03am

Throughout spring and summer, the leaves of trees work as food factories. But there are deciduous trees that stop food production, experience color change, and lose leaves. Changes in these trees are the vibrant markers of fall.

Chlorophyll, a chemical pigment in leaves, absorbs sunlight energy to turn carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (FOOD!), mostly sugars and starches. Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes leaves green. Working with the chlorophyll are carotenoids and sometimes anthocyanins. These are additional fancy chemical pigments that help with photosynthesis.

Once fall arrives, less daylight and lower temperatures signal the trees to stop producing food. First, chlorophyll is broken down and reabsorbed for its valuable nutrients. This gives the other pigments the opportunity to be seen. Carotenoids are vibrant yellows, browns, and oranges and anthocyanins are a spectrum of reds. A variety of leaf colors are visible depending on the pigments left over.

The next step is for the leaves to fall off in a process called abscission. The trees lose leaves in an effort to conserve energy and water through the winter. Sensitive to the shortening days, trees slow the release of auxin and increase ethene. Both are regulating hormones sent to tree leaves. This causes cells at the base of the leaf to weaken while some are instructed to expand. The expanding and weakening of the base cells tear the leaf’s connection to the tree. The weakened connection is similar to perforated paper and helps the tree shed its leaves.

Fall is happening on campus and throughout the Arb right now! Take a stroll through the Arb, lookout for all the stunning colors, notice a few beautiful fallen leaves, and listen to the rustle and crunch of the leaves.

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Dining hall menu screens: a bold display of wasted resources

Carletonian - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 10:02am

Students entering the dining halls are confronted by the most ostentatious display of misdirected spending this campus has ever seen: the dining hall menu screens. This year, Carleton has added high definition T.V. monitors at the entrances of cafeterias to announce culinary options at every meal. However, this recent and unnecessary change has left many students feeling, frankly, cheated. One sophomore lamented after seeing the screens: “I feel like I was slapped in the face by a wad of money, specifically $6,954 dollars.”

Students already felt like they were selling their souls to corporate America with every OneCard swipe. The arrival of new screens, however, has added another layer of bitterness and resentment. The dining hall milk remains chunky, the lettuce covered in bugs, and the chicken harder than final exams, but thank God we have televisions to inform us that squash is in season.

You may think paying an exorbitant cost per meal would equate to better food quality, but you are sorely mistaken. Our dining services are obviously pouring their money and resources into more important endeavors than student appetites. The screens, besides being a bold display of waste, are giving students false hope. The entrees listed on the screens sound edible, dare I say delicious. But then you put the food in your mouth, and that’s where things go downhill quickly.

One student remarked, “I paid $11 dollars to eat food and be let down. I didn’t intend to pay money to read about food on a high quality screen and be even more disappointed.”

Students upset by the hegemonic screens are comforting themselves by eating soft pretzels at Sayles, which are highly processed and consistently yummy.

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