BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Politics Major with a concentration in Philosophical, Literary, & Legal Studies
Minor: African-American Studies
Extracurricular Activities: Club sports team, I work for the radio station, I’m on the MLK Day committee, and I do community service.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Sailing had a huge impact on my life at Bates. It’s a big social part of my experience and it’s time-consuming because we have practice during the weekdays and races on the weekends.
Working for the radio station is fun and is a good way to meet people.
The MLK Day committee is a good way to work with faculty and provide a student’s perspective on how to make certain events. Bates has a lot of committees where you can do that. That’s time-consuming but gives good experience for working with people of different backgrounds and age ranges.
Bates is in Lewiston, which is an interesting city because it was hit really hard by the economic decline in 2007. It also has one of the largest population of Somalis in the US, so there’s a lot of great work to do with getting involved with schools around Bates and different organizations that help people who are struggling.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
It’s basically a lot of reading and writing. Keeping up with the reading is the most difficult part. It’s harder to get something out of your classes if you’re not keeping up with the reading because you don’t spend as much time in class as you would in a STEM major. I probably read two hours a day, if not more, and I’ll have five to ten pages to write each week if you average it out over the whole semester.
In the Philosophical, Literary, & Legal Studies concentration, it’s a lot of analyzing reading and trying to figure out what it is, what it’s saying, and poking holes in the theory and constitutional decisions. There are four other concentrations, [Governance and Conflict, Identities and Interest, Institutional Politics, and Political Economy.]
What has been your favorite class in your major?
I love Constitutional Law, that was a lot of fun. It’s hard for some people because it’s an incredible amount of work and the reading is really detail oriented. The professor who taught it was incredible and is now my advisor. He just won the Kroepsch Award for basically being the best teacher. He made the course really fun, but I think it can be boring depending on who teaches it.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
The Intro to Politics class I took freshman year. It’s an intro class so it has to be boring at times, so you just have to power through.
I’ve also taken a Political Theory class that I didn’t like, I find it hard and confusing. A lot of political theory is reading different theories and critiquing them, which is hard when someone has devoted their whole life to writing this thing that you now have to respond to.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Page Hall, which is an all-freshman dorm. I was in a triple.
Sophomore: Double in Wentworth-Adams Hall.
Junior: I’m in a two-room double on a floor with a bunch of my friends. You get a block of four rooms of two-room doubles. I’m in Smith Hall in the North tower.
What has been your favorite living situation?
It’s probably going to be next year without a doubt. I got a really bad selection time for my sophomore year, but it was better than my freshman year. Being in a triple is a little tough being in a triple and sharing a space with two random people.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I generally feel pretty safe. Part of that is the security presence. Lewiston is generally a safe place. Bates is located in sort of an interesting section, but if you’re not stupid you’ll be fine.
Favorite place to get away from campus?
Going to Portland is great, it’s about a 40-minute drive. Portland is a really incredible city — if you want to call it a city. There are a lot of amazing restaurants there. A lot of people also like to go to Lost Valley to ski.
Pros and cons of being in Lewiston, ME?
Pros: (1) Being in Maine and being in nature. Maine is beautiful.
(2) Bates is around a lot of schools, so if you like volunteering with kids that’s great.
(3) The Androscoggin River runs right between Lewiston and Auburn, which is really pretty.
Cons: (1) The college is working on its relationship with the local residents, which is good. It has not always been so great.
(2) There aren’t a lot of things to do in Lewiston.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Bates?
My team has parties every Thursday. My freshman year was really fun, but last year the city passed a couple of noise ordinances, specifically a nuisance party ordinance, which means that any off-campus house that hosts a party gets shut down you receive a court summons and a $300 fines to each person that lives there for the first time, and the second time it’s a $500 fine, and even sometimes they give people who are there $100 fines. The police presence on campus increased as well. That’s made the social scene a little different. We don’t have Greek life, so the off-campus parties were a big part of it. If you’re on a team or in a club, you’re still able to have fun and do things. This past year was tough, but there were still some parties in houses and dorms.
What are some of your favorite times or events?
We have short-term over the month of May where you take one course really intensively. That is a lot of fun because there are parties [very often]. Bates also hosts a lot of school-sponsored parties and dances, and those are a lot of fun too. There are five dances throughout the year that Bates hosts and those are really fun.
Can you describe a typical night going out?
You’d have a small party in the dorms around 9:30 and then try to get to where you want to go around 11 and figure out if there’s a party on campus, off-campus, or if you’re just going to throw a little party with your friends somewhere.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change?
I wasn’t too happy this year. My thing is that I love the parties with my team, so that makes up for the lack of a social scene this year. The thing that makes me a little uncomfortable at times is the increased police and security presence. I think they can be overbearing. If I could change anything, I would change the fines you can get just for going to a college party. It’s a give and take because I like the fact you can have parties with your club and everybody there you know and trust and it’s a good way to bond.
How did you meet your closest friends?
One of my friends lived across the hall from me, the others lived on the hall. I made one really good friend on AESOP, which is the mandatory wilderness retreat for all freshmen. He came earlier for a first-generation college student orientation, so I met some of my best friends through him. You meet people through clubs and through your floor. You’ll meet a lot of people who are still best friends with people from their hall.
How would you describe the social scene?
Crunchy. If you like doing stuff outdoors, that’s a big part of it. There’s a lot of beer. Bates has a hard alcohol ban, but not a ban on beer. It’s somewhat of a community, but you find your close group of friends and then you branch out to other people.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
They mix somewhat well. There are a lot of people that struggle mixing at Bates because it’s maybe a really different environment than they came from. If you’re a Black student from a big city and you haven’t really experienced a lot of outdoors stuff, it’s hard to meet new people because you’re not really interested in the Outing Club, which is like the biggest club at Bates. It could be better, that’s probably the best way to put it.
How would you describe the student body?
Most people are really nice and are open to meeting new people. They’re smart and hardworking. One thing that people don’t realize is Bates is a lot of work. If you want to work hard, Bates is definitely a good school for that.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Bates by senior year?
I think most people are. There is definitely a population that wishes they went to a bigger school or a school in a different place because Maine is really tough during the winter if you don’t ski or snowboard. Daytime gets a lot shorter, the sun sets around 4:30-5PM in the winter, and that can have an effect on people.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Bates before you entered as a freshman?
I thought I was going to be prepared for the amount of work college was going to be. Bates is a lot of work. I probably wish I had tried skiing before I went to Bates.
What’s something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Commons, which is the cafeteria at Bates, is pretty incredible. The food is really good and the architecture inside is really cool too. Definitely check out the cafeteria. [According to Niche, it is the third best in the country.]
Reasons to attend Bates:
1) Bates will make you work hard.
2) The professors really want you to go to office hours and want you to interact with them like normal people and they will interact with you like a normal person.
3) The Outing Club is really incredible. If you want to get into outdoor stuff, I don’t know if there is a school that does that better.
Reasons to not attend Bates:
1) If you’re looking for a school with huge Greek life or massive parties.
2) The living situations aren’t great. For freshmen and sophomores, you’re usually in doubles or triples. If you’re looking for your own space, it’s hard to get it sophomore year and you won’t get it freshman year.