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Chinese professor releases new book, hosts panel discussion

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:27am

Professor of Chinese Shaohua Guo recently released a book titled “The Evolution of Chinese Internet: Creative Visibility in the Digital Public.” The release of Guo’s book was followed by a panel discussion on Wednesday, February 10,  organized by Professor Asuka Sango, Director of Asian Studies. Panelists included Professors Kathleen Ryor, Noboru Tomonari and Carol Donelan, who commented on Guo’s research and recent piece of literature.

“The Evolution of Chinese Internet: Creative Visibility in the Digital Public” significantly expands upon and re-conceptualizes Guo’s dissertation titled “The Eyes of the Internet: Emerging Trends in Contemporary Chinese Culture.” In the wake of the opening of China’s internet in 1994 and the emergence of research about internet censorship in China, Guo was struck with curiosity.  

Professor Shaohua Guo.
Carleton Campus Directory.

“In contrast to the flourishing of research findings on what is made invisible online—such as the content that is being monitored, censored, and removed—we know little about the driving mechanisms that grant visibility to user-generated content,” Guo explained. 

She often found herself asking questions like, “How and why an ingenious internet culture has flourished in authoritarian China? What roles do internet corporations, state sectors and commercial media play in China’s drastic transformation into digital society? And how do Chinese netizens navigate digital spaces to make sense of their everyday lives?” These questions inspired her to dive deeper into research and turn her findings into a book.

The research required and the writing itself were no easy tasks. According to Guo, “the project is based on a long-term study of the online space.” Between June 2007 and January 2019, Guo spent time in China engaging in field work and writing. She viewed the writing process as “a long journey,” that came to fruition in the form of a book. In addition to answering the questions that initially inspired her work, Guo noted her new publication “investigates digital cultural formation in China through the four most dynamic discursive spaces to emerge over the past two decades: the bulletin board system (BBS), the blog, the microblog (Weibo), and WeChat (weixin).” 

Guo expressed how grateful she is for the company of her colleagues, mentors, friends and students: “[They] never failed to inspire me on all fronts and motivate me to complete the project.” 

 So when Sango suggested a panel discussion following the release of the book, Guo was extremely enthusiastic about it and took to inviting Ryor, Tomonari, and Donelan to participate. 

Guo noted that she chose these three professors because they have been a part of the process since the very beginning, and have “offered me so much support and input throughout the entire process.” Furthermore, Guo recognized their research and expertise in the areas of media studies, art history and Japanese studies as “[aligning] with the interdisciplinary nature of my book.” 

As panelists, Ryor, Tomonari and Donelan all gave brief presentations highlighting some of the main points of Guo’s book, and then posed some questions. According to Ryor, “this is the typical format for these types of events where faculty discuss another faculty member’s book.” 

Ryor was glad to be a panelist at this event, noting that she has been on Guo’s review and promotion committee, and “[has] been reading her work ever since she was first hired.” As a professor of Art History and East Asian Studies, Ryor noted her connection to Guo’s work in that she is “interested in contemporary Chinese society….so the Chinese internet is naturally something that I naturally use and have interest in.” She followed by saying, “Guo’s book makes an extremely important contribution to studies of new media and creativity of the past 29 years in China.” 

Donelan also commented on her interest in Guo’s work, specifically “Professor Guo’s proposal to shift internet studies from what is not seen on the internet (what gets censored) to what is seen.” 

Donelan continued, “[Guo] defines the internet as a ‘network of visibility,’ a dynamic space wherein various agents compete for discursive legitimacy.”

Ryor’s presentation had two parts. She first highlighted four main points of Guo’s book. First, according to Ryor, it “analyzes the history of internet platforms in China and shows that there is a shift from an age of youthful innocence that celebrated idealism, egalitarianism and community effects to an era of commerce that openly commodifies original content and explores the business potential that new technologies bring.” 

Secondly, Ryor said, the book “demonstrates the symbiotic relationship that has developed between entertainment culture and micropolitics,” and thirdly, it explores how “digital platforms have fostered creative visibility of user-generated content, cultivated technological innovation and mediated the formulation of social relations online.” 

The last point of Guo’s book that Ryor touched on was that “her book also shows that while the modern public in China has agency that is nurtured by consumer culture, paradoxically the public is also susceptible to manipulation by those same commercial forces, as well as higher authorities such as the state.”

The second part of Ryor’s presentation then focused on the Chinese YouTube and WeiBo celebrity Li Ziqi to provide a foundation to raise some questions to Guo. 

Professors Tomonari and Donelan subsequently gave presentations. Donelan articulated her presentation as “[focusing] on the mode of thought engaged by Professor Guo in her research, her effort to move beyond previous research that tends to think about the relation of the Chinese state and internet users in terms of static opposition rather than evolving hybridities.” 

Guo was happy with the turnout of the panel discussion and appreciated the support from her colleagues, students and professors among other attendees. Guo said that if there was something she would hope those who attended the discussion and who read her book take away, it is the “importance of thinking outside the box, to critically reflect upon some of the commonly adopted concepts, languages and stereotypes in everyday life.”

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Categories: Colleges

CSA passes $30,000 Cultural Organization Fund originally proposed in Fall 2020

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:26am

This past summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, a Carleton alumnus anonymously posted on the @dearpwi (Dear Predominantly White Institutions) Instagram page about how the Carleton Student Association (CSA) continually underfunded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) student organizations and multicultural events. 

Specifically, the post cited how the CSA did not fund a trip led by the Office of International and Intercultural Life (OIIL) to visit Civil Rights monuments, while in the same meeting they did approve funding for a leadership trip planned by the majority white men’s ultimate frisbee team. 

This post led members of the CSA Budget Committee to propose creating a $30,000 Cultural Fund Group to support community-building and events for student-led cultural organizations. 

“We want to ensure that we are providing the necessary funds for cultural organizations to build community,” said CSA President Andrew Farias ’21. 

CSA Vice-President and Budget Committee Chair Brittany Dominguez ’21 led the project, which initially proposed to reallocate funds from Spring Concert, which usually costs around $45,000, to the Cultural Organization Fund. While OIIL does provide funds for cultural organizations, Dominquez explained that the CSA Cultural Organization Fund would work to supplement funds provided by OIIL and expand available funding.   

CSA could have implemented this new fund without input from the student body, however, Dominguez explained that she “really wanted to hear student voices and opinions about the matter.” Therefore, in the fall of 2020, the proposal to create a new Cultural Organization Fund using money from Spring Concert was put to a student body vote. 

The proposal posited bringing a headliner to Spring Concert only every fourth year and featuring only local bands in the remaining years—with the savings used to create the Cultural Organization Fund.   

Only 35% of students participated in the vote, and the proposal ultimately failed to meet the two-thirds majority necessary to pass, obtaining a close 63% approval. 

“Just because the initial motion failed didn’t mean we wanted to abandon the notion as a whole,” said Farias. Therefore, Dominquez and others worked to re-imagine how a Cultural Organization Fund could be adopted into the CSA’s Budget. 

At the start of the new financial cycle in June, Dominguez and other members of the Budget Committee were able to put together a savings plan to create the Cultural Organization Fund with $55,000 and reserve money to add to the fund in coming years. Dominguez explained that the money allocated was mainly incurred from savings that went back to CSA due to decreases in spending both this year and last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For example, savings were incurred from the cancellation of Spring Concert last year and from a lower rate of spending on CSA activities. Dominquez estimated that in total CSA has saved around $500,000. These savings not only allow for the creation of the Cultural Organization Fund but also make it possible for CSA to lower the activities fee, donate more money for causes such as the Carleton Cupboard and Winter Wardrobe, and make up for lost funds due to the elimination of laundry fees in 2019. 

Dominquez said that each year CSA can spend up to $30,000 of the fund, and every year during Spring Allocations the Budget Committee will add enough money to the fund to bring it back up to at least $30,000. 

The Cultural Organization Fund will open up possibilities to provide new types of funding to cultural organizations that Budget Committee previously did not offer. For example, the Budget Committee does not fund personal items, such as T-shirts, and only funds food for events that are open to the entire campus. 

Farias said the Cultural Organization Fund will make an exception for cultural organizations in order to help them “find healing, build solidarity, and build community.” This term, organizations such as LASO (Latin American Student Organization) and MOSAIC (Mosaic of South Asian Interests at Carleton) have already used the fund for care pancakes and to finance T-shirts for organization members who could not afford them. 

In order to make sure the Cultural Organization Fund had a degree of permanence, the CSA proposed including the fund within their Constitution. Farias explained that including financial stipulations in the Constitution has never been done before, however, Farias and CSA felt it was necessary in order to make sure that future funding to cultural organizations would not get cut during periods of financial strain. 

In order to add the Cultural Organization Fund to the Constitution, a referendum was included in the CSA Election poll sent out on February 21. The referendum read: “Do you support the addition of a CSA Bylaw that stipulates that the CSA Budget Committee must allocate money to ensure the Cultural Organization Fund is filled up to at least $30,000 each year?”

With around 48% of the student population participating in the vote, the referendum passed with 87% of voters in favor, well above the needed two-thirds majority. 

“I’m pretty happy that it ended up passing,” said Dominquez, who has worked on this project for several months now. Farias is also glad to see the fund accepted by the student body. “I’m excited that the CSA Cultural Organization Fund is really coming to fruition,” he said.

He added, “It’s incredibly important that we support a Cultural Organization Fund when they need it the most.”


Correction: Feb. 27, 2020 — this article has been updated from the version that appeared in our Feb. 26 print edition to include more specifics on the original proposal to reallocate Spring Concert funds.

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Categories: Colleges

Career Center temporarily blocks Sunrise students protesting BIPOC-focused Wells Fargo event

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:23am

On January 27, the Career Center hosted a panel entitled, “Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity at Work: Corporate Culture & Individual Identities at Wells Fargo.” The goal of the event was for Carleton alumni currently employed by Wells Fargo to share their experiences with inclusion, diversity, and equity (IDE) in a corporate setting. 

However, panelists and attendees quickly realized the event would not go as anticipated when a group of five Carleton students from the campus chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a national student organization focused on climate justice, joined the Zoom call. 

These students proceeded to protest the event by questioning panelists about the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline, a proposed replacement and expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline stretching across Northern Minnesota. Wells Fargo is one of the top funders of Line 3, providing loans to Enbridge—a Calgary-based Canadian energy transportation company—for its construction.

The panel featured six Carleton alumni who are currently employed by Wells Fargo. According to Rachel Leatham, Associate Director of the Career Center, the purpose of the event was to “explore the various roles at Wells Fargo that can be great fits for Carls based on the personal experiences of the alumni who participated. This event was carefully developed by alumni with diverse identities for BIPOC students at Carleton,” she said.

However, it was this focus on IDE that Sunrise members took issue with given that Line 3 would stretch across lands belonging to the Anishinaabe people. Sunrise describes themselves as “a movement to stop the climate crisis, enact racial and economic equality, and create millions of jobs in the process.” 

“A company that funds a pipeline that will be 300 billion dollars in climate damage is not equitable,” said Carleton Sunrise organizer Maya Stovall ’23, one of the five protesters. “There is nothing equitable about breaking treaties, there is nothing equitable about causing climate catastrophe. So we said, we’re going to take direct action.” 

It is with this in mind that the Sunrisers joined the panel and began asking questions, in an encounter that quickly grew confrontational and heated. Their questions continued for 45 minutes of the 90 minute panel, after which the protesters left the call.

Career Center Response

After the protest, the five Sunrise students in attendance, in addition to one member who was not present, emailed the Career Center, outlining their intentions and motivations with the hope of starting a productive dialogue. 

On Friday, January 29, the Career Center responded by revoking all access to Career Center resources for the students who signed the letter until each protester wrote a formal apology to the panelists and attendees, citing Carleton Community Standards Policy violations. This included revoking access to funding opportunities and Handshake, Carleton’s online job search platform.

“The crux of the issue is two-fold,” Leatham explained. “Students protesting against Wells Fargo’s involvement with Line 3 were disruptive in ways that went well beyond a reasonable amount of protest.”

“Secondly,” she continued, “the password to the event was shared with at least three individuals who appeared to be affiliated with the broader Sunrise movement from outside of Carleton who had not received permission to participate in the call, violating Carleton’s technology policy and reflecting a breach of security and trust.” The Zoom link for the event was accessible only with a Carleton Handshake login.

The Sunrise students argued that the Career Center’s response lacked due process, in violation of Carleton’s own Community Standards. They maintain that the response sets a concerning precedent for how student protests are handled at Carleton. 

“Just the lack of due process should be concerning to everyone, whether or not you agree with our activism goals,” said Greta Hardy-Mittell ’23, the student who signed the Sunrise email without having attended the event, and still had her access revoked. “Just the fact that I wasn’t at the event and I got this punishment given to me—that is a problem.”

The Career Center said they punished the six students who claimed responsibility for the protest, and then reinstated Hardy-Mittell’s access at a follow-up meeting. 

Carleton’s Community Standards state that when a formal disciplinary complaint is submitted, “The appropriate judicial authority determines whether a violation of college policy has occurred, based on a preponderance of evidence. If a violation is found, sanctions are assigned.” For an informal complaint—including this case, since no formal complaint was filed—the Standards recommend that the issue be handled through “conflict resolution” and “mediation.”

According to Leatham, “The Career Center consulted internally and with others in the college to swiftly address the harm caused by the Sunrise students.”

“Our priority was to convey that this behavior was unacceptable, caused harm, and provide a path towards resolution,” she continued. “Any longer-term processes and conversations would take place in parallel.” 

Sunrise protesters reported that they attempted to initiate a restorative justice process, but have not been Supported by the Career Center or the Dean of the College Office in doing so. Stovall said, “If we want to fight this, the college is making it a burden on us.”

She also shared worries about the potential financial consequences of suspending students’ Career Center access. “The big concern is if they were to do this to different students in the future,” she said. “Such a classist punishment is really inequitable.” 

The five Sunrise students who attended the event identified themselves as Carsten Finholt ’24, Aashutosha Lele ’23, Natalie Marsh ’21, Maya Stovall ’23 and Ellie Zimmerman ’21. They emphasized that the protest was an individual choice and was not sponsored by the Sunrise chapter on campus.

Debate Over the Harm Caused

One of the alumni panelists, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Carletonian, “While I understand the students’ attempts to voice their frustration, I found their approach distasteful. Although climate change is an important cause to fight, most people cannot have that be the priority when they have family to support and bills to pay.” 

“Choosing one’s employer/career based on their morals or passions, instead of the salary or convenience of being close to their family, is an extreme level of privilege that I can only dream of at this moment,” the panelist said.

Stovall said the Sunrise protesters “pressed [the panelists] a little bit, because we don’t feel like students can get a true picture of Wells Fargo at a diversity, inclusion, and equity event without talking about the harm Enbridge is causing.” 

Hardy-Mittell said, “I personally apologize to those students that the event did not go as expected. However, I will also point out that Sunrisers did leave after 45 minutes.” 

She continued, “We did acknowledge some of the harm that the event caused. For me one of the main issues that I personally had was that it was a group of majority white students interrupting a call that was being attended by majority BIPOC students. That’s one thing we’ve been wrestling with internally in Sunrise to make our further protests more equitable.” Hardy-Mittell added that they are planning to release a message acknowledging the harm caused in the coming weeks.

The Carletonian reached out to all six alumni panelists, but only one returned the request for comment. According to the Career Center’s online description of the event, the panelists were Harry Alappat ’20, Milton Dejesus ’01, Jojo Kuria ’16, Su Kim ’17, Zhiming Zhao ’05 and Derek Fried ’93. The majority of the panelists are people of color.

The Carletonian additionally contacted three students of color who attended the panel—including two students who Sunrise members reported expressed “frustration” during the protest—but these students either declined to comment or did not respond to the request.

Access Restored

On Tuesday, February 16, the remaining five affected students received an email from the Career Center stating that access to Handshake will be restored this Friday for Sunrise participants. The email did not give an explanation for the reversal.

Leatham told the Carletonian that the Career Center moved to restore the students’ access after a month had passed following the event, “with the understanding that the apologies are still outstanding.”

“We had anticipated that the students would quickly act to apologize and participate in a conversation with the Career Center,” Leatham said. When this did not happen, the Career Center opted to restore access the following month, she explained.

“When collective action is taken with a group, we are mindful of the impacts on all individuals,” Leatham said. “We restored access to ensure that no individual was disproportionately harmed by the lack of access. We remain optimistic that the Sunrise members will make amends with the students and alumni impacted by their actions.”

Leatham added that the incident prompted the Career Center to develop a new policy, currently under review, that “conveys our expectations for behavior” at events. She added, “We appreciate the interest in this event and encourage broader conversations to take place related to privilege, access, identity, and vocation.”

When asked if the Career Center was knowledgeable about Wells Fargo’s funding of Enbridge, Leatham declined to answer. However, she did specify, “The event was not sponsored by Wells Fargo, nor was it attended by any human resources or recruitment personnel from Wells Fargo.”

Concerning the Career Center’s decision to host the event, Stovall argued, “This covers up the real environmental destruction and violation of indigenous sovereignty by Wells Fargo, and really, which side is the Career Center on? Is it on the side of students and activists and a just and liveable future, or it on the side of upholding destructive business practices?” 

Line 3 is currently under development in Northern Minnesota. It would transport almost a million barrels of tar sands per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, in addition to violating the treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and nations in its path. Dozens of banks have provided Enbridge with over $12 billion in loans to fund the pipeline. Wells Fargo is one of five banks serving as a lead agent on key loans.

Correction: Feb. 27, 2020 — this article has been updated from our Feb. 26 print edition to include the names of the alumni panelists as reported by the Career Center’s description of the event. Secondly, the original article incorrectly stated that the Zoom link for the event was sent in a campus-wide email. The Zoom link was only accessible with a Carleton Handshake login.

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Categories: Colleges

Journalist Isma’il Kushkush talks Malcolm X, personal evolution, and globalization in Black History Month chapel service

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:21am

After decades of foreign correspondence for major American and international news outlets, Isma’il Kushkush has learned that local stories are never just local. 

“Many of these stories are interconnected, so when we talk about national stories, sometimes they have international elements to them. The future is in having a global understanding,” Kushkush said.

Those themes of understanding between communities and across borders were strong in Kushkush’s speech titled “The Evolving Malcolm X,” given at the annual Black History Month Chapel Service on Sunday, February 21. Accompanied by vocal music from Known MPLS, a North Minneapolis youth choir, and remarks from members of Carleton’s Black community, Kushkush was the centerpiece of the event, bringing expertise from his research on Malcolm X as a fellow at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Using Malcolm X’s transformation from a hustler on the streets of Boston and federal prisoner to an internationally prominent leader of the Nation of Islam and Black liberation as a launch point, Kushkush discussed the importance of working with whatever adverse circumstances we might encounter in life to be in a “constant state of improving oneself.” 

In a later interview, Kushkush continued, “this element of evolution in one’s life can be useful for anyone across religion and across ethnic backgrounds. It’s the idea of being in one place and moving forward with ideas.”

Taking a lesson from Malcolm X’s life, the best piece of advice that Kushkush offers to young people is to always “be ready to develop and evolve,” no matter what difficult situation we might find ourselves in. 

That’s coming from someone who knows firsthand the challenge of being Black in American newsrooms. “The issue of diversity in the newsroom, of bringing different perspectives on social and political issues, is a big challenge in the U.S. media at large,” he explained. 

Some of the challenges he has faced include being detained for questioning multiple times by United States border patrol authorities, something he said was equally due to his ethnicity as his work abroad.

While his racial, religious and ethnic identities may be adversarial in this country, Kushkush said that it enabled his work as a foreign correspondent in East Africa for outlets such as the New York Times, CNN and Al Jazeera. Kushkush grew up in Sudan, Kuwait, Syria, and eventually the United States as his father moved around the world for graduate school and work. As a result, he has a dual understanding of American and East African culture and history, which he said has been a major asset in his professional life.

“Having one foot here and one foot there makes a journalist understand what stories are of interest, what stories American audiences will be interested in, but also having a foot there one has a deeper understanding of the social and political makeup of these places,” Kushkush said.

For example, he said one of his most popular stories was one he wrote for the New York Times in 2015 about the rise of American country music in Kenya. The locals would have never thought that their music taste would be an interesting story, but because of his international life, Kushkush knew it would resonate with American audiences. Kushkush always looks for those kinds of stories that establish links between communities and make local stories global.

While the American media industry still has a long way to go in terms of diversity and equity, he said, “people with that [international] experience bring something to the table that slowly is receiving better appreciation in newsrooms.” In the meantime, the best anyone can do is to follow in the footsteps of Malcolm X and keep pushing the boundaries of society despite the limitations it places on us.


Correction: Feb. 27, 2020 — this article has been updated from our Feb. 26 print edition to specify that Known MPLS is the North Minneapolis youth choir that sang at the service.

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Categories: Colleges

MIAC postpones winter sports

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:20am

As MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Athletic Directors are set to decide the fate of Spring sports early this March, the status of the current winter season will likely play heavily into their decision. While Carleton, St. Olaf, Macalester and St. Catherine’s opted out of Winter sports, the remainder of MIAC schools decided to compete in Women’s and Men’s Basketball, Hockey, Swim & Dive and Indoor Track & Field. 

But competition has taken new forms due to pandemic restrictions. All MIAC conference championships were cancelled and individual institutions were left to decide their Swim & Dive and Indoor Track & Field schedules. As for Women’s and Men’s Basketball and Hockey, the MIAC released a schedule of Wednesday and Saturday games starting in early February to mid-March. 

In theory, the schedules drawn by the MIAC were solid, but as Einstein said, “in theory… theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they are not.” In practice, the Winter season did not go smoothly for the schools who chose to compete. Seasons were truncated, competitions were postponed, and for certain sports at individual institutions, competition didn’t even take place. 

For Swim & Dive, only six meets took place during March and February, and only 4 MIAC institutions ended up competing. Saint John’s, Gustavus, Hamline, and St. Thomas competed in a series of dual and quad meets against each other, all of which took place at Gustavus in St. Peter, save one dual meet at St. John’s in Collegeville. 

Indoor Track & Field had somewhat more success. Bethel, Gustavus, Hamline, Augsburg, St. Thomas, Concordia, and Saint Mary’s participated in a series of dual and triangular meets against each other throughout the last two months, with meets scheduled up until March 6. Concordia also competed in out-of-conference meets in North Dakota against a myriad of schools in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) and North Dakota College Athletic Conference (NDCAC). Saint Mary’s University is also scheduled to compete out-of-conference against Winona State University. 

Women’s and Men’s Basketball and Hockey have also faced numerous postponements—likely due to COVID-19 concerns. In the MIAC COVID competition plan updated on February 12, the procedure for postponement is laid out as such: 

“In the event of outbreak or injuries significantly impacting rosters, postponement of a game should be considered. If the minimum eligible number student-athletes (eight for basketball 16 for hockey) remain healthy, competition should continue. A minimum number of student-athletes need to be available for a team to engage in competition; however, a team may elect to move forward with fewer student-athletes.”

Fourteen of 31 Women’s Hockey games have been postponed or cancelled, while 15 of 28 Men’s Hockey games have been, including the last 12 scheduled games. Eleven of 23 Women’s Basketball games and 15 of 30 Men’s Basketball games have been cancelled or postponed as well.

No one expected a completely normal season of competition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but the current status of the MIAC winter seasons is troubling not only for the athletes competing but also for intercollegiate competition going forward.

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Categories: Colleges

Virtual ski race brings athletic competition back to Carleton

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:19am

The Nordic Ski Club hosted a virtual 5k this past week in the Arboretum, bringing a semblance of athletic competition back to Carleton. To ensure social distancing and accommodate busy eighth week schedules, skiers completed the race asynchronously using the Strava app to log their individual race times. The window for competition began early Friday morning and ended at 9pm Tuesday. 

“Each skier downloaded the app on their phone and then started an ‘activity’ at the start line,” said Oliver Tullio ’24, who organized the race. Strava used participants’ phones to track their location and time their race from start to finish. Marked by bright signs, the course directed skiers along a loop throughout the Lower Arb, beginning and ending at the gated entrance near North Division Street. 

Tullio used Strava’s route-map interface to plan out the course and skied it himself beforehand to make sure the pacing, hills and finish were adequate. The race was completed in classic style, where skiers use their arms and poles to generate momentum, relying primarily on hills to generate speed. Skiers were not allowed to skate even if they had their own set of skate skis. 

Thirty-one skiers posted times, including an additional 10 skiers who completed the course for leisure. 

Top three finishers for the men included Antero Sivula ’24, who finished with a time of 18 minutes and 36 seconds, followed by Oliver Tullio (19:03) and Antero’s older brother Tuomas ’21, who recorded a time of 20:27. For the women, Cara Meyer ’21 took first place with a time of 22:15, followed by Emma Watson ’23 (22:25) and Maya Strike ’21, who posted a 24:25 finish. Skiers were also divided into pods, who competed against each other based on participation. 

“There were definitely some logistical challenges,” said Trullio, who noted some inefficiencies with the app’s tracking system. “For a few people, Strava claimed they didn’t complete the course, even though they did, so we recorded the total ‘moving time’ during their Strava activity.”

There were some difficulties ensuring participants stayed on course when they completed the race on their own. “We tried to make sure everyone knew where to go by posting signs and sending out a gallery of course photos in advance, but inevitably a few people took a wrong turn and ended up doing the wrong route,” Trullio added. 

The event can be deemed as a success for the Nordic Ski Club, which saw an increase in membership this winter as demand for COVID-friendly activities on campus rose. To provide a competitive respite from mounting end of term exams and papers, the club found a creative way to help its skiers put the skills they’ve developed throughout the term to the test. Additionally, the competition allowed participants to fulfil their race requirement for PE-credit.

 “It was really nice to be able to get some friendly competition in and really feel like you’re part of a team by ‘striving together’ towards a common goal,” said Tullio, referring to the inter-pod competition. “It’s rewarding when people tell me they liked the course or enjoyed getting the chance to push themselves, as it makes me feel like I’ve made a positive difference, which is so important in such times.”

Tullio and the Nordic Ski Club hopes to organize a more competitive off-season training group this upcoming year in preparation for having a race team in the near future when in-person competition against other schools is made possible. As of now, the club remains focused on developing the skills of newly-joined skiers and providing a fun way to earn PE-credit.

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Categories: Colleges

Arb notes: consequential chirps

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:18am

As the weather here in Northfield starts to take a more amicable turn, hopefully you all get a chance to spend some time outdoors and outside the hustle and bustle of Week 8. All around campus, colorful chirps are enriching our auditory landscape and giving us a break from the harsh caws of crows as our smaller avian neighbors prepare for the upcoming breeding season.

The Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) does not nest until late April to June, but defense for nesting territory already begins in early spring. In addition to the frequently heard foraging and alerting call “chickadee-dee-dee” (the more “dee”s, the more urgent the message), you can also hear the whistled song “fee-bee-ee” that is typical in pre-breeding and breeding seasons. Males perform two types of songs during mating season: the aggressive songs that imitate another male’s pitch, and the submissive songs that use a different pitch to evade the voice of more powerful competitors. Though chickadees are usually considered monogamous (the nestlings in a male’s nest are his own offspring), females would alter their reproductive strategy if they overhear their partner (especially if the male happens to be higher up on the dominance hierarchy of the flock) losing such a song competition. Mennill, the researcher who discovered this in 2002, replicated an aggressive song by playing back the frequencies of high-ranking males for the females to hear; later, when he tested for the biological father of their young, half of the nestlings weren’t theirs. Not your usual karaoke night.

The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) starts nest-building in late February, while courtship display begins from January to February. Cardinals are monogamous throughout the breeding season, but new partners are sought for each season, thus the impressive vocal gymnastics (and oftentimes duets of both sexes). When taking a stroll, listen for short, metallic chirps from the trees and you might find a dazzling red ball of feathers staring back at you from the foliage. 

Keep an ear out for the chirps when your routine brings you into the open air, and perhaps you will get a glimpse of the life of those competitive vocalists.

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Categories: Colleges

Guide to buzzwords

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:17am

I have decided to take a break from the usual cold-hearted amoral content I usually disseminate. Instead I will be helping to unpack some common phrases, so that we can create a dialogue based on shared understanding of basic concepts. 

  • Gaslighting – I already explained this.
  • Fragility – Vague discomfort. 
  • Toxic – Awesome, allusion to the Britney Spears song (#abolishpsychologicalconservatorship).
  • Space – The thing above the sky. 
  • Dialogue – The part of a play or movie that involves talking. 
  • Structural 
  • Legitimate – See “Legitimize.”
  • Essential 
  • Content 
  • Libidinal Economy – The idea that certain signs can be exchanged for sexual excitement and thus attention.
  • Manipulation – This isn’t a thing, ignore it. 
  • Reach Out 
  • Circle Back – Absolutely horribly profane sex thing, cannot describe here. 
  • Institutional
  • Unpack 
  • Interrogate
  • Legitimize – See “Legitimate.”

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Categories: Colleges

Five grocery stores in Trondheim

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:16am

Content warning: eating disorders. This piece was written for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2021.

When I studied abroad in Trondheim, Norway the fall of my junior year, there were five grocery stores within a 15 minute walk from my student village. There was Kiwi, where they made all the employees wear green, and Rema 1000, the big one that was still small by American standards. Meny was the fancy one, and Bunnpris had the post office where I went to pay my rent. Then there was Coop Extra, just across the parking lot, a two-minute walk away.

I only ever went to Extra, and I mostly went to Extra in the dark.

Strictly speaking, that isn’t saying much. It was dark a lot of the time in Trondheim—by the end of the semester, the sun was setting just after 2 p.m. But what I mean to say is that I mostly went to Extra around 11 p.m. at night.

The whole area, with its five grocery stores, had a bit of a lonely, industrial look to it, especially when the sun was setting. You had to cross an overpass over the highway to get anywhere. I always thought it looked like the place hadn’t quite caught up to the fact that Norway is one of the wealthiest countries on earth. 

Like I said, it looked lonely. Or maybe that was just me. I was lonely in Trondheim, and I was hungry.

When I remember Norway, I remember the fjords and the mountains and the days spent wandering around the city on buses. But I also remember lying on my bed with an emptiness in my stomach, trying to ignore it, trying to sleep it off. I remember the waves of anxiety upon walking into the kitchen. And I remember the late-night trips to Extra, just before it closed, because I couldn’t bring myself to go earlier, because it was too much, even though it was only two minutes away, even though I hadn’t been in far too long, even though I had run out of whatever snacks I could manage to eat. My flatmates laughed at me for cooking dinner at midnight sometimes, but it wasn’t dinner, really. I numbered my meals. The good days were the ones where there was a Meal #2.

I went over there speaking Norwegian, but I didn’t know how to say eating disorder until that semester. For some reason it was easier to say in another language.

I should clarify that I am lucky. I don’t have bulimia, and I don’t think I have anorexia. Rather than an obsession with weight loss, what I feel towards food is at best a concerning level of apathy, and at worst a deep avoidance and anxiety. I often wish that I just didn’t have to eat at all. The simple act of getting a meal, once a mindless task I easily performed three times a day, now takes a significant amount of energy. The whole thing is some deeply enmeshed combination of anxiety, depression, and their physical manifestations. 

But I am lucky. Eating disorders are one of the most dangerous mental health conditions out there. I am lucky that mine is a less severe case. I am lucky that I am still moving forward in pursuit of my goals, even if it is harder than before. I am lucky that I have supportive loved ones, that my family can afford medical care, that my body type is such that people don’t question whether I’m “allowed” to have an eating disorder.

I started struggling with disordered eating my sophomore year at Carleton. I began to avoid the dining halls. Things just felt easier that way. I felt nauseated, lost my appetite. I would eat so slowly that my friends would finish their meals when I had barely begun. Going to class on an empty stomach, once totally out of the question for me, became regular practice. 

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it’s hard to get through Carleton on an empty stomach.

In some senses, though, nothing began in college. When I joined the swim team my freshman year of high school, the intensive exercise soon left me underweight. It scared me. The rest of high school felt like a constant stream of mixed messages. You need to fatten up. You should be eating healthy. Don’t snack too much. Make sure you eat enough before the meet. Go as hard as you can in practice. You’re too skinny. You’re getting out of shape. You’re packing too much food in your lunch. You’re not packing enough. Take that second helping. No, don’t take it. I was anxious and perfectionistic in a lot of areas of my life, and I guess food was no different. I was always eating three meals a day, but each choice filled me with anxiety. It felt like my world shrunk down to home, school, and the lunchbox I carried back and forth in between.

My world shrunk down in Trondheim as well. I had enrolled directly at the university, so I didn’t have the structure of a formal program or the company of fellow Carleton students. My flatmates joined spontaneous road trips and signed up for weekend excursions, but I mostly just stayed in Trondheim. Getting to Extra was hard enough.

This all brings me to COVID, the ultimate world-shrinker. Like many of you, this past spring and summer, I spent the vast majority of my time in my house. At Carleton this year, my pod has been limited to my housemates, and I rarely study outside our house. The isolation has caused my disordered eating to deteriorate, and I’m not alone. The national burden of eating disorders has worsened significantly during the pandemic, with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) seeing a 78 percent increase in calls to its helpline during March and April of last year.

This is all the more reason to recognize National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this year, which falls February 22-28 with the theme “Every Body has a Seat at the Table.” If your eating disorder has worsened during the past year, if your recovery journey has seen progress lost, if you have begun to experience disordered eating for the first time during the pandemic—you are not alone. Please do not be afraid to reach out for help at your own pace. It took me a long time to talk to loved ones about my eating issues, longer to seek counseling, and even longer to recognize that I needed care specific to eating disorders rather than generic therapy and check-ups. But I got there. I’m still getting there. Wherever you are in your journey, you can get there too.If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consider seeking help by calling the confidential NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237, consulting the eating disorder resources provided on SHAC’s website, or visiting a provider knowledgeable about disordered eating issues.

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Categories: Colleges

Opening the door: Lunar New Year memories

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:14am

Faye Merritt is a Visiting Instructor in Chinese at Carleton.

In the 1970s, I was a little girl living in the countryside of Zhejiang Province in China. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China, similar to Christmas here. Growing up in the little village, secluded from the outside world, I had lots of memories of the Lunar New Year traditions. One of them is “Opening the Door.”

Ever since I could remember, every year on New Year’s Eve, my parents would tell me and my little brother to get up as early as we could to open the door on New Year’s Day and whoever got up earlier to open the door would get five cents as a reward. I am not totally sure if it is five cents or two cents, but I am certain that it is one of them, as I remember that the total amount of money I could collect from all my relatives and my parents every year during New Year’s was between one dollar and two. 

Days before New Year’s Eve, my brother and I would prepare a very little purse using a piece of old cloth with a needle and thread, stitching the opening together and leaving the thread loose so we could pull it to tighten the opening after we put pennies and dimes in and loosen it when we received more pennies and dimes. It was the most exciting expectation when sewing our little sacks. 

The little sacks we made were as big as our little fists. From New Year’s Eve till maybe the 15th of the first month, the little sacks would be the most precious thing in the world for me and my brother, as they would contain all our gift money. On New Year’s Eve after the New Year’s Eve feast, which was the biggest feast of the year when we would have chicken, pork, eggs, fish and sometimes beef, my parents would give us the New Year’s red packets. Inside the red paper would be wrapped five cents or a dime. My brother and I were equally important to our parents and they would give no more pennies to me or to him. It was always fair. 

The money that parents give to their children on New Year’s Eve is called “ya sui qian,” meaning “pressing down the old year money.” We would put that special red packet under our pillow when we went to bed on New Year’s Eve to hold down the old year, so we could properly and peacefully grow one year older when the old year turned into the new year at midnight.  On that night, every Chinese turned one year older, no matter when it was your birthday. This is called the “virtual age system.” On New Year’s Day, my brother and I would start the new year one year older, with equal money in our little sacks. We would count our money every day to see who got more money. 

That is why two pennies or five pennies were so important to me and my brother, because that was the extra money that one of us could work to earn. Our parents told us that the reason the door needs to be opened as early as possible was to welcome the wealth spirit passing by to bring us luck and wealth for the new year. The house with the front door wide open in the early morning of New Year’s Day would be blessed with gold and silver. The door could be open as early as you could get up after midnight. However, for us, while believing that opening the door early on that day would bring us wealth that year, getting those extra two pennies was perhaps the bigger motivation. 

Content from the feast, and with expectation for the new year and excitement for the race to get up early and open the door, it was a very special night for us. However, at age 5 or 6, my brother and I both understood that the race of getting up early the next morning actually began with falling asleep that night. Being two-and-a-half years older than my brother, and being perhaps more motivated than he, l remembered to wake up early to open the door! It was still dark, and all was quiet. My parents and my brother were all sound asleep! (We only had two rooms at that time, one for sleeping and one for eating. We all slept in the same bed when we were tiny. ) 

How excited I was, lying in bed, but awake, knowing that I was going to get the extra two pennies! I could just spring out of the warm bed and run out of our bedroom to the door and open the door quick! But, no, I should be careful not to wake up my brother, otherwise I might lose the two pennies to him! Suppressing my wild excitement, I managed to stay calm and put on my clothes piece by piece, so slow and stealthy that I would not wake up anyone who was asleep in the same bed. 

Finally, I put on all my clothes, climbed down the bed, tiptoed through the room like a cat, and went out of the bedroom, reaching for the front door of our house. I must have been very cold, as during New Year’s, it was deep winter, and the houses were never insulated, not to mention heated. 

But the excitement of winning the two pennies could beat anything. I reached the door, and pulled the big latch with all my strength, still being as quiet as I could, to make sure that no one was woken up. There it was, the two leaves of the big front door were let loose. I open them both at once. My job was done. I won. The two pennies belonged to me now. 

With joy in my heart, I went back to the bedroom, lay down in my spot, and woke up my brother. Instantly he started to put on his clothes, thinking that he still had a chance, only to stop when I laughed and told him:  I already opened the door! With disappointment and a deep sigh, he fell back down and went back to sleep. Gloating that I beat him, I happily took off my clothes and went back to sleep till our parents woke us up. They would be so glad to discover that when they woke up, the door was already open, and that it would be a blessed new year for their house. They would reward me the two pennies that I really deserved and would tell my brother that next year he would still have a chance to win.

I would beat my brother again and again and year after year. For some reason, he was never able to wake up earlier than me. I would do the same trick each year, never failing to torture him after I opened the door. Every time I woke him up after I opened the door, he would always hurriedly try to put on his clothes, thinking that I had just woken up too. I always had a good laugh about that. Until one year, the tables turned. 

Like every year, I was so sure on New Year’s Eve that I would win the race to open the door the next day. I put my new clothes alongside my bed, so I could easily reach for them when I woke up in the morning without waking up my brother. I was about 15 in the Chinese virtual year system (I was about 13 years old). We were in the 80s now. We had moved to our new house a couple of years ago, which had two bedrooms. We didn’t need to share a bed anymore. My parents had one bed, I had one bed and my brother had one bed. My brother and I still shared one bedroom though. I went to sleep, feeling so certain that I would have a good time beating him tomorrow again, just like all the previous years. I was unbeatable. 

Someone woke me up from my deep sleep. I opened my eyes and saw the smiling face of my brother. He was beaming. He announced to my face in a very calm and victorious voice: I opened the door. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I didn’t wake up to open the door on New Year’s Day? My brother who lost to me all these years beat me? How could that be possible? What happened to me? Oh well, I guess I lost to him finally! 

It was amazing to realize that he never gave up after so many years of defeat. He simply never gave up! And finally he won! He won the impossible! Years later, when I looked back at this race to open the door, I came to understand and appreciate my brother’s most valuable characteristic: his persistence. This persistence and grit helped him to be successful in his school and in his career in the future: especially financially, he beats me really badly. 

I hadn’t seen any gold flying into our house after all these years of following the tradition of getting up really early to open the front door of the house, but we were never tired of getting up early to open the door on the new year’s day, until that year I finally lost my race to my brother. From that year on, I never was able to beat my brother. He kept winning the race and enjoyed his victory every year. 

We would use some of the money in our little sacks to buy balloons or whistles and had tons of fun blowing the balloons and some heartbreaking moments when some of our balloons got oversized and popped. Each balloon cost only a few pennies. 

We did return the majority of our money to our parents, as it was eventually their money, not ours, because they were the relatives to our cousins and they were the source for the gift money for our cousins. It was just logical for us to surrender our gift money to our parents after we safeguarded them for a couple of weeks and after we used some on the balloons. 

Lunar New Year comes again and again, and the memories associated with it are abundant. Each time the new year comes, it brings each of us new opportunities to win the two pennies. If you keep working at it, you will win the two pennies, just like my little brother did!

The post Opening the door: Lunar New Year memories appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

How Medicare for All prevents cancel culture

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 10:13am

What is wrong with cancel culture? Many things to some, but at its core, cancel culture is a manifestation of punitive justice. In other words, it discourages the amelioration of the damage caused by the offender. Usually a lacking attempt at ‘an eye for an eye.’ When a celebrity’s racist views are unearthed, the eye they injured has no equivalence to the eye they’ll lose. 

This, of course, is partly because we cannot quantify damage caused by bigotry and hate, but also because there is no major loss to the isolation via cancellation of a celebrity. However, as we have seen in the past few years, cancelling is not unique to celebrities.  Someone will post on Twitter a video of an employee, and not hours later will we read that the company has made the decision to fire said employee. Some expressions of this are not completely negative; after all, we would not want to see a medical doctor with transphobic views who operate on trans patients. Still, this concept brings about some major issues. 

In modern societies our jobs represent not simply our jobs, but rather our livelihoods. When a person loses their livelihood due to uneducated views or behavior, they realize it is much easier to blame the ‘mob,’ than it is to blame the capitalist who deliberated that the company’s public image is more valuable than their employee. The ire often expressed at those calling for a cancellation only fuels the flames of their call, leading to a back and forth of ultimately reactionary ways.

When we take the desire for survival out of the cancelled party’s thought process, we create an entirely different debate environment. How do we do that? Policies that institute social safety nets such as Medicare for All (more importantly including mental health assistance), free public higher education and eventually universal basic income. In fact, just with easily accessible quality education and mental health assistance, you’re erasing 90%* of the reasons cancel culture is invoked. 

I’ve yet to address the by-products of being cancelled. Often not only does the everyday person lose their jobs, but also they face backlash, isolation and are barred from inhabiting certain spaces. It becomes a problem when we decide to bar the uneducated from spaces specifically designed to educate. Although we must be careful when choosing who to include so as not to do it at the expense of the oppressed, we also can’t advocate for accessible education for all only to deprive it to some. As for backlash, it is my belief that when the stakes on the two sides of a cancellation debate are lowered through social well-being, these too will diminish to a point where actual education can take place. 

All this is to say that cancel culture, as we know it, is only so because of our conception of labor and the myth of education as a privilege. This is not a value judgment on capitalism, where I find my views to be constantly undecided, but rather an attempt to better the small-scale systems we inhabit through large-scale policies we know to work.

*Disclaimer: this number is not at all statistical and used solely to illustrate a point

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Categories: Colleges

Carleton and St. Olaf make annual joint donation to city of Northfield

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:52am

On February 2, Carleton College and St. Olaf College each donated $80,000 to the city of Northfield, for a total of $160,000. According to Brenda Anglestad, the Finance Director of Northfield, the “donations go into the General Fund” and will be spent on “General City Operations, including Police, Fire, Streets & Parks, Recreation & Library”.

The tradition of making donations to the city of Northfield dates back to 1923, when Carleton and St. Olaf each donated $500. Since then, the donation amounts have increased substantially. There is no set amount by which the donations increase, nor a set timeline for how often they grow. According to Janet Hanson, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of St. Olaf, the colleges “look at inflation, we look at what’s happening with the city’s budget, we look at what each of the college budgets can afford.”

In past years, the donations have been made in person. Fred Rogers, the former Vice President and Treasurer of Carleton, said he and the St. Olaf Treasurer used to go down to City Hall to physically hand over their respective checks. This year, because of the pandemic, the donations took place over Zoom.

The colleges have made the donations together and typically have given equal amounts. Rogers said the two colleges have “tried to not make it an issue between the colleges, but mutual support from the colleges to the city.” Eric Runestad, current Vice President and Treasurer of Carleton, noted the importance of supporting Northfield because “colleges like Carleton depend on the infrastructure of the city.”

Some examples of the college’s use of city services are when a fire alarm goes off in a dorm or a student needs EMS transportation. Appreciating what Northfield offers the college, Runestad underscored that the donation is “a gift; not a payment for services” and is “to try to honor what they [the city of Northfield] provide the college”.

Hanson also noted that since the colleges are tax-exempt institutions, meaning they don’t pay property taxes to the extent that private homeowners do, the donations are “a way for the colleges to support some of the services that we receive as a resident within the city.”

However, support for the city isn’t limited to the annual donations. Both colleges have an impact on Northfield through the jobs they offer and the revenue provided from visiting families eating at local restaurants and staying at hotels.

Additionally, Runestad said the two colleges occasionally make direct donations to the city. These can take the form of a new ambulance or rescue truck purchase, as these are “things the community can benefit from and that our students might require over time.”

The post Carleton and St. Olaf make annual joint donation to city of Northfield appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Carleton encourages students to travel home over spring break

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:51am

While many colleges across the US are cancelling spring break altogether, or at least encouraging or requiring students to remain on campus, Carleton recently announced that students who wish to stay on campus over the upcoming two-week Spring Break must petition for approval. 

In her “5th Week Pandemic Update” email on February 3, Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston announced that “students who are on campus this winter and are also approved to live on campus in the spring will be able to petition to remain on campus over spring break.” 

On February 11, in the 6th Week update, Livingston further explained: “While the majority of college services are not available over Spring Break, we recognize some students may have situations that require housing [to] continue to be provided.” While international students will be automatically “approved to stay due to potential travel complications,” domestic students will only be approved if they “have a reason to stay on campus.”

This policy is a divergence from the college’s plans for Spring Break in 2020, when COVID-19 concerns were beginning to surface, but before Spring Term went remote. In an email to Residential Assistants on March 11, 2020, Associate Director for the Office of Residential Life Tanya Hartwig wrote: “Spring Break Housing is now open to all current students without needing to meet any of our typical requirements. There is no late fee for signing up or cancellation fee.”

Risks of Travel Might Not Qualify for Break Housing

In an interview with the Carletonian, Livingston clarified that not all students who request to stay on campus over break will be approved. She explained that “for COVID reasons, folks will absolutely be granted a reason to stay” – for instance, if a student’s hometown or home state is significantly less safe than Northfield regarding the virus. 

However, the risk inherent in travel, regardless of the destination, will not necessarily be reason enough to grant approval. Livingston could not yet give a firm answer, as the Office of Residential Life will make final decisions regarding approval to stay over break. 

Livingston suggested, though, that “the risk of travel is a hard one… I think the risks of travel are different, I think there’s a lot of safety precautions that the airlines or alternate modes of travel have implemented, so I’m not exactly sure if by itself that may be a reason, but it could be.” 

While some safety precautions have been implemented by some airlines and other modes of travel, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) still warns: “Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. The CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

More specifically, the CDC states: “Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces.” While air circulation and filtration on airplanes is highly effective, “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.” The mode of transportation to and from the airport “can also increase your chances of being exposed to the virus.”

In their assessment of the risks of air travel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Medical agrees, “Even with appropriate precautions, a relatively short domestic flight still carries moderate risks and should not be undertaken lightly.”

Peer Institutions Cancel or Alter Spring Breaks

In light of these risks to both the students’ home communities and the campus community upon their return, many peer institutions have opted to cancel or shorten their spring breaks this year. Top liberal arts schools such as Williams College and Amherst College have replaced the traditional spring breaks with a handful of “health days” interspersed throughout the spring semester.

Swarthmore College originally planned to cancel spring break, but ended up reinstating a one week, on-campus break in order to “support [students’] mental and physical well-being.” However, “To minimize the spread of COVID-19, and in the interest of the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff members, residential students will be required to remain on campus during the spring break. The Office of Student Affairs will partner with other departments on campus and students to provide a range of on-campus recreational and social opportunities during the break.”

Livingston emphasized that the case is different for the college given its unusual trimester calendar. “Infusing spring break days on a trimester calendar, it doesn’t really give you a break… I’m not sure anybody will feel rejuvenated or rested if you infuse a couple days.” 

The trimester system necessitates a two-week break between terms so that professors have time to finalize grades and prepare for the next trimester, which is not a concern at semester schools, where spring breaks fall in the middle of a term. In addition, keeping students on campus for two trimesters with no break would add up to over five months on campus, as opposed to approximately four months at semester schools.The college certainly recognizes the risks of travel off-campus, even for much shorter trips. In the Fifth Week Pandemic Update, Livingston reiterated: “If you are living on campus or in Northfield Option, we strongly discourage any overnight travel off campus.” 

Spring Break Services and Housing

Livingston told the Carletonian that the college does not want all students to stay on campus “because we’re on break.” Traditionally, many of the college’s services temporarily close or are limited over breaks, and there appear to be no plans to diverge from the normal protocol even amid an unprecedented pandemic. 

Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), for instance, will be closed for the duration of Spring Break, and Livingston hinted that Gould Library may shut down as well. She did not disclose what other services would be on pause, but repeated, “everybody doesn’t need to be here during a two week break… there are a lot of services that are not here, a good number of our staff members will be gone over Spring Break, so we’re not fully operational during that Spring Break period.”

Livingston also stated that the push for students to leave campus over break was for their own wellbeing: “Spring Break is really a time for people to rejuvenate and prepare for Spring Term, and sometimes a different setting does that for you.”

Given this year’s exceptional circumstances, she allowed that “we’ll certainly have more folks who are here, but I don’t see a reason why we would have our entire 1,400 students be here over Spring Break.”

According to the 6th Week Pandemic Update, “All of the Residence Halls and Townhouses will be available for Spring Break Housing,” but residents of other campus housing may be relocated for the duration of the break. 

Livingston told the Carletonian, however, that students in Residence Halls and Townhouses could be relocated as well, depending on how many other residents of those buildings are approved to stay. 

“If there’s a house that has one person out of 20, ResLife will probably move that person to a temporary location,” or if there are only three or four people staying in one of the smaller Residence Halls, they may be relocated as well. The outlook for Townhouse residences remains unclear.

The Office of Residential Life will make final decisions regarding temporary relocation, and has not yet responded to the Carletonian’s inquiries.

If approved for break housing, students may opt to stay for only part of Spring Break, but once they have left campus, they may not return until Spring Term move-in. “Testing regimens for Spring Break are still being determined,” according to the “Spring Break 2021 On-campus Expectations for Students.”

The deadline for petitions to stay on campus is February 22.

Mandatory Meal Plan for Spring Break Residents

Though not mentioned in the body of the original email, the Spring Break Housing Request form linked in the 6th Week Pandemic Update, as well as a later email from the Office of Residential Life, revealed that break housing will cost $35 per day.

The $35 per day charge is up $20 from the Spring Break 2020 charge of $15 per day, which itself was an increase from the normal break housing charge of $10 per day, according to a March 10, 2020 announcement from Livingston. 

In 2020, the increase to $15 was made “to include two meals per day,” whereas the dining halls were closed over previous breaks. This year, no explanation has yet been given for the significantly higher charge, which covers the same package of housing and two meals per day.

Director of Auxiliary Services and Special Projects Jesse Cashman disclosed that even with the higher charge, the college will likely lose money on dining services over break. Over “the last couple of breaks, the college has lost money on dining services, so we’ve been subsidizing students’ meal plans,” Cashman explained.

When the full student body is on a meal plan during the term, he explained, “that allows Bon App[etit] to buy more food for less.” Before the pandemic, the dining halls shut down entirely over breaks because food costs are higher when not bought in bulk, and it was not economical to keep dining services staff on for a relatively small number of students. Cashman added, “We’re purely offering these meal plans to accommodate students having a place to stay here on campus.”

The increased charge is mandatory even for students who are off board or on alternative meal plans during the term. “This is designed to help Carleton students keep the bubble of not needing to travel into town and to ensure food insecurity is not an issue for students over the break period,” the Office of Residential Life explained in a February 17 email. 

“We don’t want folks to just go into town, frankly,” Livingston told the Carletonian. During the academic term, however, many students opt out of the meal plan, whether for financial reasons, COVID safety, dietary needs or personal preference, and the difference over the break period is unclear.

In response to COVID concerns regarding the dining halls and campus cafes, where diners must enter a space where others may have their masks off, even if only for a short time, Livingston said: “You can do contact-free eating in the dining halls, you can do contact-free eating in Sayles, as well. You’re not physically contacting anyone.” 

To be sure, students do not physically come in contact with workers or other students in these areas, but there is still a real possibility of airborne transmission. Nonetheless, Livingston claimed that there is no evidence “that there’s any health and safety concerns… with students going into dining halls or into any sort of shared contact space. As a matter of fact, we’ve [been told by] the Minnesota Department of Health that our dining halls are probably the safest place for folks to go, to eat or pick up food.”

If students are truly uncomfortable entering dining halls and campus cafes, Livingston continued, “then they can also have a friend go pick up their food, if they’re that concerned about it.”

The post Carleton encourages students to travel home over spring break appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Student podcast on 1918 flu and COVID-19 featured at Northfield Historical Society

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:50am

As the country is caught in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a couple of Carleton students have turned to history and the community for perspective. Students from two classes—Historians for Hire and Anthropology of Health and Illness—came together over winter break to discuss the parallels between Northfield’s history in the 1918 influenza pandemic, and the community’s current experience with COVID-19. The podcast and Academic Civil Engagement (ACE) project, titled “Comparing Spanish Influenza and COVID 19 in Northfield,” was posted on February 15 on the Northfield Historical Society (NHS) website. 

Roughly two weeks into winter break, three students from Historians for Hire—Lea Winston ’22, KatieRose Kimball ’23, and Sasha Mothershead ’21—and three students from Anthropology of Health and Illness—Marcella Lees ’21, Cas Roland ’22, and Jakob Boeye ’22—discussed their findings over an hour-long Zoom call. The meeting was recorded, produced by Roland—who has their own podcast—and uploaded to the NHS website as a podcast. 

“We wanted to make sure that we had something to give to the Northfield Historical Society,” said Lees. 

The idea for the podcast came about through collaboration with the director of the Northfield Historical Society, Cathy Osterman; the professor teaching Anthropology of Health and Illness, Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg; and the associate director for ACE in the Center for Civic and Community Engagement (CCCE), Emily Oliver. 

“When COVID-19 started looming large, people were like, ‘Oh hey, there was a pandemic 100 years ago, what was that like?’” Osterman said. One of the goals of the project was to see “how something happening nationally impacted people in Northfield, for example: were people worried about it? What were hospitals doing? These are many of the same concerns we have about COVID today,” Osterman explained.

Historians for Hire has worked with the NHS in the past. Tony Adler ’06, a Carleton alum, started teaching the class during Fall Term and describes it as “essentially a public history class, in the sense that it’s introducing students to the work of history in practice.” Not only does the class give students a taste of history outside the classroom, but as an ACE course, students have the opportunity to work with different community organizations. 

While students from the Anthropology of Illness and Health class researched different aspects of COVID-19’s effects on the community, the Historians for Hire class gathered information about the 1918 influenza’s impact on Northfield. 

With Osterman’s help identifying digital sources, the Historians for Hire students set to work. The three students focused on a local newspaper coverage during the 1918 influenza, including the Carletonian (then called the Carletonia), St. Olaf’s Manitou Messenger, the Northfield News, and the Independent.

In addition to poring over digital archives, they were invited to the Northfield Historical Society to do some in-person digging. For Winston, those sessions provided a change in pace from normal life during COVID-19: “That was a really fun, really collaborative, and a nice group experience you can’t normally get in the pandemic, so I really appreciated being able to do that.”

“The three of us were actually given a lot of freedom,” said Kimball. Between their weekly meetings, the students would read through digital archives and type up notes. By the end of the term, they had compiled around 150 pages of material. At that point, “we started thinking, ‘well, we know all this, now how do we tell people about it? How do we present this information to the public?’” Winston said.

In order to make their findings more digestible, the students wrote formal paragraph responses to thematic questions Osterman had given them. The information they had gathered and condensed helped them create an online timeline, which is posted on the Northfield Historical Society website. 

While Winston was researching, she learned the origins of the Sayles-Hill Campus Center’s name. “Mr. Hill was a beloved Carleton professor who died of the 1918 influenza, and it was a really big hit to the community,” Winston said. “It was on the front page of the newspapers with his obituary and photo and everything, and that’s who Sayles-Hill is named after. It’s like history is all around us, and we don’t even know it.”

At first, Winston said she was reluctant to do research on COVID-19. “I kind of was wary of doing a project about the pandemic, just because the pandemic was such a part of my life. I didn’t really want it to overtake my life even more than it already was,” said Winston. “But I ended up really enjoying it because, honestly, it gave me hope to see how people back then were able to persevere and make it through. There was an end to the 1918 pandemic, which was reassuring to learn about. If they did it then, we can get through this now.”

On the other hand, students from Anthropology of Illness and Health turned to the Northfield community for perspective. The three students researched, and wrote term papers, on COVID-19’s effects on different aspects of the community. Lees delved into the impact of the pandemic on the elderly, Roland into its effects on the medical system, and Boeye on the development and loss of the “third space, when people hang out at coffee shops or something, something that’s not work and it’s not home, where people meet and create community,” said Feldman-Savelsberg.

Lees noted that some of her biggest challenges were exacerbated by having her interviews online. 

Not only was getting in contact with people more difficult online, but performing the interviews themselves presented challenges. Remote interviews, especially over phone calls, were difficult “because you can’t see people, you can’t see how they’re reacting. And it is a really sensitive topic,” Lees said. “This is life or death stuff sometimes. It’s having to balance your desire to record this for posterity, with their very real feelings and trauma around it right now.” 

The interviews were not easy for Lees to stomach herself. “There were definitely interviews I left crying a little, because it’s hard to hear how much people are struggling,” said Lees. 

Ultimately, Osterman said that “it was a little tough to draw parallels [between COVID-19 and the 1918 influenza] because we’re in the middle of it now.” While it was comparatively easy to find people who are affected by COVID-19 and record their experiences, the only information that exists on the 1918 influenza is what was written down in newspapers, “which don’t always include community members’ feelings, or disagreements,” said Osterman. On the other hand, there is more objective information and definitive start and end dates available on the 1918 influenza, while COVID-19 rages on. 

Still, students were able to find some objective similarities between the two time periods. Spikes in case numbers, vigilant hand-washing and social distancing were all messages Winston saw in her research about the 1918 influenza. A major difference was that “there was very much a patriotic stance behind it that we don’t really see today,” Winston noted.

One of Osterman’s greatest takeaways from this collaboration was how “being able to pull different disciplines together—anthropology, history, health and medicine—creates a much fuller picture and understanding. Each discipline is adding context to another.”

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Categories: Colleges

The friendly tamarin faces of the Primate Cognition Lab

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:49am

For most students, Hulings Hall  is the location of the Biology and Psychology departments, but for the eight tamarin monkeys in Professor of Psychology Julie Neiworth’s Primate Cognition Lab, Hulings is home. 

Since 1998, Neiworth has worked with 32 tamarins spanning three generations, earning four National Institute of Health (NIH) grants that total $1,101,651. In the lab, Neiworth and student research assistants study the tamarins’ perception, cognition and social behavior. Research has included aging and Alzheimer’s in a primate model; competition, sharing, and cooperation; and comparing children’s thinking and strategies with tamarins, among other topics.

Before coming to Carleton, the cohort of monkeys were studied at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where mating, family dynamics and hormone assays were of interest. They have never been in any medical or invasive research and Neiworth reported that her researchers see “very normal social and play behaviors that indicate they are happy.” 

Neiworth explained that they never display the pacing or isolation seen in zoo settings and that they live in social groups with lots of toys and hammocks for playing and resting. The tamarins at the Primate Cognition Lab live longer than wild tamarins as a result of NIH guidelines for animal species, the OLAW federal branch guidelines and USDA for healthy living guidelines for primates. 

“They are all my favorite,” said Neiworth of her monkeys. “They all have personalities—they are bossy, or silly, or curious, or sometimes easily nervous. Just like people. We learn what they like and how to work with them to make them at ease and interested in the cognitive tasks. They work on iPads with us. It’s lots of fun.”

“They care a lot more about what humans have on their feet as a means of identification. We all have shoes that we wear specifically around the monkeys so that they recognize us. If you wear something different they will spend a lot of time looking at your feet,” said Chris Leppink-Shands ’19, an Educational Associate at the lab.

Photo courtesy of Carleton College.

Elena Morales-Grahl ’23 started working at the lab this year after taking Neiworth’s Learning and Memory class, where she had the opportunity to work with pigeons. 

“It’s very cool to see the monkeys open up to you and show you their personalities,” said Morales-Grahl. “I cannot choose a favorite monkey, but I will say I have a soft spot for Encore and Yogi. Yogi is super curious and loves playing with the key that one puts on the cage when entering it. 

“Yogi used to mischievously grab the key when I was delivering his food, so I learned to position it in a way that he could play with it but not take it,” continued Morales-Grahl. “He has now been given his own key to play with, so he no longer has a need to take the door key.”

Three times a day, the researchers feed the monkeys “with lots of fresh fruit and veggies, canned monkey chow, yogurt and applesauce and snacks like peanuts, diced boiled eggs, granola, and tuna,” explained Neiworth. During some studies, they get “sweet cereal treats,” their favorite being Frosted Cheerios and Froot Loops. Neiworth performs daily health checks, in which the monkeys are given a yogurt pretzel.

“The monkeys were named when they arrived, except for a few who were born here. Their names are part of family history, so there is a musical family and we have Encore and Forte here. By keeping their names and noting their families, we know their genetic background,” Neiworth said.

“We named Oriole, also here at present, who was born at Carleton because her dad was from the bird family (Vulture) and her mom was one of the original monkeys brought here in 1998 and was named Olympia,” Neiworth continued. “So we picked a bird name that started with an O to represent mom and dad.”

Tamarins are an endangered species and Neiworth said that “we are very careful to keep them happy and healthy.”

“I strongly encourage people to take the time to learn about and understand the consequences and impacts human behavior, primarily deforestation, has on different species and their habitats. These primates for example are typically found in Colombia but in recent years almost 98% of their habitat has been destroyed. I’d encourage people to check out organizations such as Proyecto Titi if they want to learn more about ways they can help and make a difference!” said Leppink-Shands.

Lab assistants.
Photo provided by the Primate Cognition Lab.

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Categories: Colleges

Hibernation: an appealing way to sleep the winter away

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:48am

The freezing temperatures of the last few weeks would have just about anybody dreaming they could sleep through it and emerge in the spring.  Hibernation does seem like a pretty appealing option.

Rodents such as the thirteen-lined ground squirrel and the groundhog enter states of “true” hibernation each winter.  True hibernators are able to dramatically drop their heart rates, respirations and body temperature to extremely low levels.  While they will occasionally get up to eat from food stores every few weeks, hibernating animals appear dead.

True hibernation differs from the “hibernation” of bears, skunks, raccoons and opossums, who are easily awakened from what is essentially just a long nap.

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) live in the restored prairies of the Arb and dig well-hidden burrows.  They are small and social animals, and have a similar role to tree squirrels in forest ecosystems.  They are popular prey—around 90% of newborns die from predation before they reach their first winter, typically by badgers, weasels and hawks.

To prepare for the onset of winter, thirteen-lined ground squirrels put on a heavy layer of fat and collect food in their burrows in the late summer.  The brown adipose fat tissue they accumulate helps keep them warm and allows them to emerge from hibernation healthy and ready for mating.  

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks (Marmota monax), are a larger cousin of ground squirrels.  They are solitary rodents and build large, complex burrow networks at the edges of forests and in forest clearings.  Groundhogs are also known to dig under buildings, and have built some of their own tunnels under Carleton’s campus!

When spring eventually rolls around next month, keep your eyes peeled for rodents emerging from a very deep sleep!

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Categories: Colleges

Five books I read recently (from my bookstagram)

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:47am

The New Analog by Damon Krukowski

read this. it was cool. a love letter to analog music… pretty rudimentary stuff but definitely worth reading if you a have at least an admiration for the LP or cassette (or, gasp, CD). also written by the Galaxie 500 frontman so that’s cool.

 The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross

read this. it was … ok … i imagine if you’re into classical music you might dig it more than i did. it just feels a bit disingenuous to subtitle the book “Listening to the Twentieth Century” and pay microscopic shrift to blues, soul, r&b, rock music, hip hop… etc. i mean i know that wasn’t the book’s angle at all but even from its classical-music-in-the-twentieth-century angle it still seemed isolated and stuffy. which i KNOW ross wasn’t trying to do or be here. though i did originally pick up this book because i’d written a New Yorker Letter to the Editor in response to something problematic Alex Ross said in an article he wrote (link in bio to my piece hehe), so i like to think this is my first official beef as a music writer. (next only to the time i pissed xiu xiu off so much  before an interview that he stopped replying to my emails)

Angels in America by Tony Kushner

read this back in, like, October. i recall it being an evocative and insightful look into the AIDS epidemic (and affected communities). i am absolutely not in a place to comment on its themes of Jewish mysticism, but just know that they exist and there is extensive secondary literature on it. what it does do, however—and what i feel like i can comment on—is the ways the play obfuscates and idealizes (scrambles) history & the state of America & the world in which Kushner was writing. its treatment of Roy Cohn & the whole fragile-yet-effervescent state of New York powerbrokers fell much in line with a lot of my personal views on the treatment of history, hope, and the future. in particular the ways we grapple with political-economic hierarchies that seem out of our control and beyond time. in order to topple superstructures we must become bigger than them; we must mythologize, we must become giants walking among specters. imo.

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis

read this. It was great. not as theory-heavy as Davis’s other books but i really enjoyed this one nonetheless, and it was important in its own historical/historiographic moment for shedding light on the racism within mainstream American feminist movements. highly recommended for any susan b. anthony stans

Live at the Lighthouse by Elvin Jones

Actually this one is an album. WOAH!!! classic Blue Note live album by one of the most talented and prolific jazz drummers of all time (Jones was a member of the Coltrane quartet for a stretch, appearing on A Love Supreme, which i personally think is crazy — that lineup was stacked — given Jones, along with Tyner, seemed never to slump, after that, in his/their solo work). this concert is mostly covers, it seems — of Donald Byrd and Ira Gershwin among others — worked through creatively, insightfully and relentlessly. it is, i believe, one of the greatest live jazz records out there. the height of hard bop. on a more sentimental note, though, this was one of the first LPs with which i felt like i “got it.” that is, Live at the Lighthouse was the first album for me, at the age of 18 — after fruitlessly trying to enter the hallowed halls of audiophilia for years — i felt like i finally understood what all those vinyl snob types were talking about… Blue Note held nothing back, production-wise, on this album. it is the clearest-sounding and cleanest record i own, and it’s always the one with which i test our system. (did not find this one anywhere, ‘tis my dad’s, unsure where he got it though…)

Follow my bookstagram. @n.malte.collins

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Categories: Colleges

CSA presidency platform of the Monster of Goodhue

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:46am

Who I am and Why I’m Running

Hello folks, in case you haven’t heard of me, I thought I would introduce myself. I am the fabled Monster of Goodhue who haunts the hall. Most of us monsters have a dream of one day being involved in politics, and my role model monster is former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan—he’s who has inspired several of us monsters to run for office. I want to be your CSA president because I feel gaining experience selling out and menacing Carleton would prepare me for living out my dream of menacing and selling out the country. 

Goals and Initiatives

Making Carleton a more welcoming environment for all

One of the defining characteristics of this school is that it is small. I have deduced that this is due to an unwelcoming environment, something I have personally experienced. I think that to make Carleton a truly magical place for all, we must be more welcoming as a campus. For example, if I want to be welcomed into your room, I think that you should be more welcoming to me, and let me into your room. In fact, we should really focus on becoming a campus without walls, like that school in DC. It’s not that hard, the exclusivity culture here is toxic and non-essential. 

Saving you money and time and making your life easy

Being a monster, I have obviously chosen to major in Economics (with a minor in Public Policy of course). So to explain this, you should think of me as a product and your vote as money because it’s power. I will be saving you money in terms of vending machines (which you can steal from with a modified coat hanger), laundry funds and local liquor tax. So when you vote for me, you actually make a positive return on the money your vote represents to me. Investing in me is like investing in GameStop like a month ago, not risky at all and with a positive CAPM alpha value. This is what we like to call Political Economy. If that didn’t make any sense to you that’s okay because CSA will never actually make sense to people or be transparent.

Other Vague Bullshit

Blah blah blah Cultural Groups. Blah blah blah Social Activism. Blah blah blah listening to our constituents. Blah blah blah expanding SHAC. Blah blah blah graduation requirements. Blah blah blah involvement. 

My activities on campus

CSA Budget Committee

Being a monster, I am naturally attracted to power and money, and so the budget committee just made sense. Working there has given me special and exclusive insight into how it works, what makes it tick and what it stands for. I will outline in more detail in a moment (or not, I don’t feel responsible to fulfill my promises). 

Some org where I don’t do anything

I was part of a group that advocated for the administration to change something, and eventually it happened. It could be the laundry stuff, it could be pretzels returning to Sayles. (Actually let’s do laundry, it’s the one thing CSA has done that you can remember.) Either way that was all me. Obviously it may be possible to infer that I had some help, but as this is my platform I will only be mentioning myself. 

Closing Remarks

Everyone else sucks. Even as a monster, I can still think of at least one candidate I am more relatable than. Remember Carls, democracy is really important, it lets YOU decide which monster will be selling you out and menacing you!

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Categories: Colleges