BackgroundInterview Date:January 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private school in San Francisco with a graduating class of about 78 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Environmental Studies with a concentration in Ecology and Earth Systems
Minor: Educational Studies and Religious Studies double minor
Extracurricular Activities: I [have a leadership position] in the Feminist Collective, I am a trip leader for the Annual Entering Students Orientation Program (AESOP), and I’m a research assistant.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Yes. Leading AESOP and the Feminist Collective has had a big influence on my Bates experience. AESOP is awesome because there are about 150 trip leaders and we all get to come to Bates over a week early. That was a fun culture to be at Bates early with a bunch of people who really liked the outdoors and wanted to lead trips and stuff. Through that, I met a lot of the trip leaders and met a lot of the freshmen who I wouldn’t otherwise know.
Feminist Collective has been a nice thing to keep me motivated that’s academic but not academic. Because I’m not on any sports teams, it’s a nice thing to fill my day.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
I’m taking two labs right now and something that’s frustrating at Bates is that we don’t get any extra credits for the labs even though they are an extra three hours. Take two labs is a huge toll on my weekly coursework because I’m still taking as many classes as everyone else, I’m just in six extra hours of lab. I have some essays because I’m taking a humanistic environmental studies class this semester. I don’t have to take any math classes for my major, so I don’t have any problem sets.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think it’s really nice that we have options for different tracks. There are four concentrations in the major, and I like that because, for example, I didn’t want to take Economics classes but I can still be an Environmental Studies major and take more science classes. One downside is that Environmental Studies has some of the most requirements of any major at Bates. There is an internship requirement, capstone project, and a thesis.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s pretty collaborative. Especially with m Environmental Studies classes, we do a lot of group work and a lot of group projects. In other majors, it might be less collaborative because there is less of an emphasis on group work, but I find it to be really collaborative.
Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I’ve never taken a full-on Politics class, but a sweeping statement is that most of the student body is politically liberal. That has definitely played out in a lot of my Philosophy classes where it’s pretty obvious that everyone in the room agrees. That’s not to say that people wouldn’t be open to another school of thought, but I have never been in a class where there is one person who is a sore thumb because, generally, people have the same thoughts about things.
How accessible are your professors?
Pretty accessible. I’m in intro to biology as a sophomore, which is kind of weird, and it’s one of the biggest classes at Bates. I’ve actually found that professors that have really big classes and know that their classes are hard are even more accessible. I’ve found that the professors who are the least accessible are the ones in my small seminars because I think they think students don’t need any help.
What made you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m really happy with the choice. I knew that I wanted to study environmental science in college, so that made it easier for me when I was looking at colleges because I only wanted to go to a school that offered that major.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in Parker Hall, which is a really big, beautiful, old freshman dorm. I had one roommate and a really beautiful room. I loved living there because it was really central to campus.
Sophomore: I live on Frye Street in a Bates owned house with about twenty people in the house. Some of them are themed houses and some are not. I’m living in a themed house which is fun. We don’t do a ton for our theme, but it’s a good way to get good housing if you don’t want to live in a dorm.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel super safe in Lewiston. Bates security is really nice and we have SafeRide that will pick you up if you want them to.
How was transitioning from San Francisco to Lewiston, Maine?
The transition itself wasn’t that bad. The weather is really, really cold and I don’t love that. Before I went to college I worked at a sleep away camp as a counselor, and I think that was really helpful. I still do get homesick and it’s hard for me to go home because it costs about $300 for a plane ticket, and that was something I didn’t really think about.
What’s your favorite place to get away from campus?
I go to Portland pretty frequently. My roommate has a car and we go there pretty often and just hang around. It’s nice to get out of Lewiston for a little bit.
Pros and cons of being in Lewiston, ME?
Pros: (1) It’s a really different living situation than growing up in a big city.
(2) It has one of the highest immigrant populations on the East Coast. As an Education minor, you have to do over 300-hours of teaching experience, and there are a lot of English Language-Learner students in the classes, so that is a really cool experience that couldn’t happen in any other place in Maine.
(3) We’re 40-minutes from Portland and Portland is a really cool city.
(4) We are really close to some really beautiful outdoorsy places. It’s in a central location to mountains, Portland, and the coast.
Cons: (1) It’s really, really cold.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Bates?
I go out to parties every weekend. You generally can find something pretty fun going on Friday, Saturday, and sometimes on Thursdays. There are two bars in Lewiston that people go to on Thursday nights, and that’s pretty fun. Friday and Saturday, it’s mostly off-campus parties. Seniors can live off-campus, but nobody else can. If there isn’t a party off-campus, there will be a party in the basement of one of the houses on Frye Street.
Who is generally hosting the parties?
It’s a lot of teams. The thing that’s interesting about Bates is the leases for off-campus houses get passed down, so there will always be lacrosse people in the lacrosse house. There will be slight changes, but in general there will always be those houses and those are the main people throwing parties. I don’t think clubs really ever throw parties but there are groups of friends that throw parties. Because we don’t have Greek life, it’s more team focused.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
At Bates, people work every night during the weeknights. I’m usually in the library until 11PM on the weeknights. If I wanted an alternative to going to a party on the weekend, I’d just stay in and watch a movie.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change?
I’m pretty happy. It’s hard because Lewiston is pretty residential and there’s the constant fear of noise complaints, campus security, and Lewiston police. It’s really touchy. It’s so frequent that parties are shut down by noise complaints and when that happens security is not super friendly and the Lewiston police are definitely not very friendly with off-campus houses. I look forward to being a senior and living off-campus, but it’s tough that you have to be so weary of the neighbors. [See Portland Press Herald article, “Crackdown on off-campus parties pleases neighbors, frustrates Bates students.”]
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my best friend on my floor freshman year, and we were also on the same AESOP trip. Primarily at Bates, you meet people on your first-year floor and on the AESOP trip. We then met people throughout our dorm, and since it’s a really small school I’ve met a lot of people through people. I now have a really solid group of six other girlfriends.
How would you describe the social scene?
Because it’s such a small school, people have pretty solid groups of friends. It’s also a pretty heavy gossip culture. If you do something, it seems like a lot of people know about it the next day. It’s pretty intimate. We only have one dining hall and one library, so if you’re trying to avoid someone you can’t. It’s the classic small school where everybody knows each other and everybody knows a lot about each other.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I had never been in such a racially divided environment than Bates. I think Bates is really racially divided. It’s sad. In Commons, which is our dining hall, you generally see White people sitting with White people and Non-White people sitting with Non-White people. All of my closest friends are white, and I don’t really know why that is. We are a fairly racially diverse school for a small private college in Maine, but it is divided. In terms of sexual orientation, I don’t think it’s very divided. I have a lot of friends that aren’t my sexual orientation and aren’t straight.
How would you describe the student body?
There are a lot of really outdoorsy people at Bates, there are a lot of athletes at Bates, and then the rest don’t really fit in those categories. Like, I don’t think my friends and I fit in either of those categories. But, I think those are the two biggest groups on campus if you’re stereotyping people.
Have you had trouble assimilating as somebody who identifies as the “other” in those classifications?
I haven’t, but I think that’s because my freshman roommate was an athlete and I’m not so polarized from the athletes that I feel can polarize the scene. If you really, really don’t know any athletes, I think it can be overwhelming or intimidating because they make up a large percentage of the student body.
How do you like the size of Bates in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [There are about 1,800 students at Bates.]
I think it’s good. There are definitely times when I wish I went to a big school, but I’m happy I go to a small school.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I used the career office once to look over my resume and they were really helpful then because it turned out that my resume was really bad. I went to them another time to look for an internship for this summer and they weren’t that helpful. We have this thing called Purposeful Work Internships which are through the alumni network, and he told me just to wait until those internships were posted. I think they are too focused on that program when some people need to just get an internship.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’m in a lab right now where I’m doing a lot of Excel work. I’m also in an intro level geographic information systems class and I’m going to take another next year.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Bates before entering as a freshman?
It’s just a really different culture on the East Coast than what I’m used to at home. It’s a really different going out scene here and people in general act very differently, so I don’t think I was ready for that culture shock. Also, all of my friend from home go to school in Southern California, so they aren’t going through it with me and don’t get it when I try to explain to them how it’s really different. All of my close friends at Bates are from the East Coast. The one thing that I’ve noticed is a big difference is the display of wealth, which happens at a lot of private colleges. People drive around expensive cars on campus and wear expensive clothes, and that’s a small thing that I think people from less wealthy families feel even more.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
We have a student-run coffee shop, called The Ronj, on Frye Street. They’re only open at night during the week, which is confusing, so if you are just there for a tour you probably can’t visit. If you are there overnight or for the weekend, stop in because it’s so cozy, there are string lights and couches, and it’s open until 1AM, so it’s really nice if you want to do work and not be in the library.
Reasons to attend Bates:
1) Everybody here is super nice. The community is so amazing. The students and the faculty are generally so kind and smart.
2) There are a lot of really fun Bates traditions that I absolutely love. We have Puddle Jump and Newman Day.
3) The location is really cool. Especially if you’re not from New England, it’s a really awesome place to go to college for four years. I know I want to move back to California when I graduate, but I can at least say that I went to college on the East Coast.
4) The academics.
5) The large athlete population.
Reasons to not attend Bates:
1) It’s in the middle of nowhere, and if you’re not down for that you really shouldn’t come here. If you’re a city person, you really shouldn’t come here.
2) It’s pretty academically rigorous. The majority of people here try really hard at school. The culture is you stay in the library and then you wake up and go to classes. If you don’t want to grind a lot in school, it’s not a good school for you.
3) If you really don’t enjoy athletic culture, I think it could be difficult to assimilate to Bates’ culture.