Four Super Senior Febs You Should Have Gotten to Know (But You’ll Have to Off-Campus Because They Graduated Yesterday)

They entered Middlebury in February 2011. Now they leave us. But, hopefully (definitely) we’ll see them again.

middbeat presents four amusing interviews with members of the class of 2014.5.

  1. Katherine Elizabeth “Betsy” Neal
Betsy Neal '14.5

Betsy Neal ‘14.5

Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming

Age: 21

Major: Economics

Do you have any eccentric passions, hobbies, or skills?

I really like fly-fishing. Not that many people do it here. My dad taught me. You go out into a river on a dory, which is like a little rectangular boat made of wood or fiberglass. Or you can wade out into the river using waders. Then you cast out a line for fish. Last fall we went to Florida to fish on salt flats in very shallow water.

What do you remember about Feb orientation?

I remember being confused as to whether everything was mandatory or not, like all those small group meetings of six or so people.

 Tell us about a meaningful project or effort you were involved in.

One of my big efforts completely failed. When I first got here I was very into the environment. I tried to get the administration to put hand-dryers in the bathrooms instead of paper towels. They rejected the proposal saying it was a sanitation issue, which is false, because the new Dyson Airblade dryers don’t use hot air, and all the excess water sits at the bottom of the machine.

But another cool effort I’m involved in now is a class called “programming for novices.” So I’m making basic computer games.

 Tell us about a unique or memorable learning or classroom experience you had.

 The best class I took was “Environmental Negotiations and Dispute Resolutions.” It was an environmental studies class taught by a visiting professor. Each week the students were assigned different ‘roles,’ like an oil company or an environmental interest group, and after studying up on our roles we would represent our specific interests in a debate. For example, the topic might be hydroelectric dams in a Middle Eastern country: one or two groups would represent countries that would lose out on water if the dams were built and another group would be the Middle Eastern country who’d benefit from developing the dams. You’d be going into a negotiation room and different parties would fight for their interests. The class allowed you to understand different perspectives on these issues; and I realized that it was all about money, that’s what fueled these negotiations and decisions. So that influenced me to become an economics major.

 A teacher that you really liked and why.

I really like Professor Carpenter, who is on sabbatical right now. He’s an economics professor who taught me a seminar on behavioral economics. He also teaches Gain Theory.

 What is Gain Theory?

 The prisoner’s dilemma, getting the maximum economic output based on two people’s decision-making.

 How has Middlebury changed over the past four years? Positives + negatives…

I think it’s changed in negative ways. Obviously the social scene has suffered. Many social spaces (superblocks, social houses) have been reassigned, so the groups who live there are less likely to host parties. For example, it seems like the school no longer allow athletic teammates to live together. In the past, more natural friend groups occupied these social houses. Now, they are occupied by more forced groups convening around brochure-friendly themes, like “connectedness.”

Also, so many more people live off-campus. When I arrived to Midd in 2011, there were only one or two places off-campus that would have parties. Now you have perhaps six houses on Weybridge St. alone in which students live and throw parties.

What do you think about romantic relationships on campus?

I’ve never really wanted to be in a relationship at college, so I never analyzed the presence of, or lack of, a dating scene. So advice: don’t feel pressured to be in a relationship. 

Favorite Middlebury tradition or event? Why?

 Homecoming tailgate used to be my favorite tradition. R.I.P.

I do still enjoy Winter Carnival. I used to ski races on that weekend.

How do you hope your liberal arts degree will effect your life after college? 

It allows versatility in what you can do afterwards. For example, I got an internship in fashion at Oscar De La Renta the summer of 2013, and I took a Fall semester off to continue that internship. I scraped together my credits to graduate with my Feb Class this year. At Oscar de la Renta I focused on marketing which used my economics skills and all of the other classes I’ve taken at this liberal arts college.

Did you make any cool discoveries about Middlebury’s campus or system over the past four years?

I was really excited when I learned there is a path behind Dana auditorium that leads to E-Lot.

 What do you think about BannerWeb?

 It’s definitely annoying. I’ve gotten into most of the classes I’ve wanted by e-mailing teachers.

 Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes.

 I have this pair of Frye brown leather slip-ons that I’ve broken in so perfectly. Frye has warranty for two years. They were really dirty so I sent them in and Frye cleaned them.

How do you stay warm?

I have many jackets. Also, my mom discovered these Japanese pants that are lined with this incredibly soft fake-fur material that is used to make blankets.

  1. Benjamin Reuven Chaim Miller
Benjy Miller, '14.5

Benjy Miller, ‘14.5

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Age: 23

Major: Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology

Do you have any eccentric passions, hobbies, or skills?

Masseuse. Beat-boxer. Freestyle rapper.

I am passionate about everyone getting the opportunity to explore his or her passions, so equality.

What do you remember about Feb orientation?

 Public Safety busting people drinking in a room that I was in.

Tell us about a meaningful project or effort you were involved in.

Music in general. Midd has provided opportunities to explore music in a deeper way. I’m surrounded by talent here. I feed off of it, build upon it.

Tell us about a unique or memorable learning or classroom experience you had.

 This past semester I had the pleasure of teaching myself Adobe Illustrator in order to create OUTREACH MATERIALS that say things like “seeing with new eyes.”

A teacher that you really liked and why. 

I liked David Allen for being approachable and friendly, which makes the learning environment more casual and enjoyable. He made learning very enjoyable.

How has Middlebury changed over the past four years?

Public Safety has gotten way more focused on shutting down or inhibiting parties. Before, one would have a party every weekend that everyone on campus had the choice to attend – if they wanted – and one could drink there (if one wanted to) – and Public Safety wouldn’t shut it down. Now parties are shut down, creating more exclusive social environments. This makes it hard for freshman to interact with upperclassman; and everyone’s pissed at how quickly parties get shut down. Things felt more carefree four years ago.

Any love advice?

I’ve seen two things, either “thrive or dive.” Some of my friends have thrived in relationships; they became livelier, more vibrant people than before. I’ve seen others dive when they entered relationships, as they’ve become totally absorbed in their partners and less social, less fun.

Favorite Middlebury tradition or event?

The Middlebury College Hunger Games. Teams of five compete in various challenges in and around Middlebury and the winners of these “tasks” get to eat less during the eating competition. The team that finishes the eating competition fastest wins the Hunger games. The eating competition is very pickle-heavy.

How do you hope your liberal arts degree will effect your life after college?

My Middlebury education has taught me to think critically and be even more open-minded.

How do you stay warm?

Natural body heat.

(Two more awesome graduates beyond the jump)

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Middbeat Crush of the Week! Kayla Nahi ’18

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This week we bring you a new crush! Kayla Nahi is a gorgeous freshman who aspires to be a computer science major.  She was a bit coy at the beginning of the interview, but she began to show her true colors as the interview proceeded.  Watch out men, Kayla is the real deal!

Middbeat: Start with your name, year, and hometown.
Kayla: Okay, um, my name is Kayla, my hometown is San Francisco, and I’m a freshman.

MB: Interesting. Kayla, what’s your spirit animal?
K: My sister is always an elephant and I was always a giraffe when I was younger so I guess giraffe.

MB: What do you generally do on a Wednesday night?
K: On a Wednesday night?
MB: That’s tonight, what are you doing tonight? Yeah what are your plans, what are you up to?
K: I mean we have a huge presentation today and a big paper due on friday so probably tonight I’ll be working, but , I guess just, hanging out with the Allen crew.

MB: What quality do you find most attractive in your sexual preference?
K: hmm…

MB: Are you interested in men or women?
K: Men

MB:What quality do you find most attractive in men?
K: Probably sense of humor

MB:That’s a good one. How would you describe the Midd dating scene in one sentence?
K: [Laughs] , random hookups or committed relationships

MB: That’s definitely fair. What’s your j-term class right now?
K: Social and environmental justice

MB: How’s that going?
K: Okay, hard but good.

MB: What’s the funniest thing you’ve done over j-term?
K: The funniest thing I’ve done over j-term… [laughs] it’s not really funny but I slipped and fell down almost the entirety of Chapel hill.

MB: [Laughs] that is pretty funny. If you could be anywhere right now, other than Middlebury College, where would you be?
K: Probably home in San Francisco.

MB: What was your childhood screenname, like AOL?
K: Oh this is super embarrassing: I was ksnowprincess. [laughs]

MB: So there’s a question here that is beach or snow, I’m assuming the answer is snow?
K: oh, snow no question.

MB: What’s your ideal date night or day look like at Middlebury?
K: Okay, probably skiing during the day, and then, I was gonna say walk, but no… maybe then going to a restaurant in town.

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Flippant Clothing

four shirts overhead

Seniors Logan Miller and Mike Peters ’15 have an alternative for your Midd swag in the form of nonfunctional clothing that’s on the verge of becoming a fashion phenomenon.  Fresh colors, flipped pockets, perfect for parties, Flippant shirts are dope.  The founders write in:

Upside down pockets?  So they don’t even do anything!?

That’s correct.  Logan and Peters have developed a proprietary blend of impracticality, uselessness and neat colors.  The result: flippant clothing.  Shirts and tanks with upside down pockets.  Why? It’s fun, different and useless. To support a growing business and find out more about the lifestyle, see below:

Go here to join a grassroots movement of organic nonfunctionality.  Proceeds from the first 100 shirts sold will go toward the official, unofficial, flippant Launch Party this spring, dedicated to our flippant Middlebury supporters.

Learn even less about the shirts and the lifestyle at the website or on instagram @flippant_life

Today: Screenings on Screenings

If you’re not lucky enough to be bouncing out of here a little early today, you are even LUCKIER to get to stay for some awesome screenings tonight. Come check out what everyone in the collaborative video J-term class has been working on this past month. Here are a few flicks you’ll get to catch:

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Date: Today 1/29
Time: 7:30
Place: Dana Auditorium
Cost: Free

Meeting Re: Community, Diversity, and Inclusion 4:30

StudentLife_11_02

In case you missed Ron’s email, there will be a meeting regarding community, diversity, and inclusion on campus, continuing this past fall’s discussion of campus social life which transformed into the above concerns within the student body.  The event begins at 4:30 in the McCullough Social Space (aka Wilson Hall).  See Ron’s invite below:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Please join us for a campus-wide conversation on community, diversity, and inclusion at Middlebury, today, Thursday, January 29 from 4:30-6:00 in Wilson Hall.  I will be joined by a group of students and members of Community Council who worked together to organize this gathering.  The idea for this gathering was pitched in response to the social life discussion held last fall, and will allow us to explore some of the critical concerns shared by many members of this community.  All students, staff, and faculty are welcome to attend.

 

Best,

Ron

When: Today, 4:30 PM
Where: McCullough
Cost: nope

Japanese Boat Launching–Setting Sail In The Pool

The Kessen Gawa pictured on the left, the Ayubune on the right.

The Kessen Gawa pictured on the left, the Ayubune on the right.

After almost a month of laborious and Cedar-splinter filled work, The J-Term Japanese Boat Building class will be launching their two finished wooden vessels in the Middlebury Natatorium at 6:45 PM this evening. Taught by boat builder, writer and teacher (shisho), Douglas Brooks, this course focused on a study of Japanese culture, models of education, and traditional boat building.

Over the course of J-Term 15 Middlebury students met four days a week to build one eel fishing river boat, called Kessen Gawa, and one whitefish boat, called Ayubune, primarily built using traditional Japanese tools.

From 4-6 PM the boats will be exhibited in Johnson Hall accompanied by a small mock-bamboo-forest. At 6 PM the class will carry the boats to the athletic center swimming pool upon which time they will conduct a traditional Shinto launching ceremony. There will be a small, primarily ceremonial, quantity of saké.

So come join the class and the rest of the Middlebury community for this evening’s launching ceremony! Hopefully you will see some traditional and exquisitely designed Japanese boats float, and at the very worst, see them sink–which probably would be pretty cool too. 

When: Thursday, January 29 @ 4-6 & 6:45

Where: Johnson Hall & Middlebury swimming pool

Cost: A jovial spirit

Op Ed: Responding to The Campus, A Look at Athletic Privilege

Today, we have an op-ed in from middbeat contributers Aleck Silva-Pinto ’16 and Lizzy Weiss ’17 on the ongoing discussion surrounding the article about athletic privilege recently published by The Campus. The article has certainly sparked a lively debate, and here is yet another take on the issue. Read up, post replies, and feel free to submit your own opinion piece to the middbeat gmail ([email protected]). 

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Did this Yak bring you here? If it did– good! We wrote it.

When soon-to-be graduates Isaac Baker ‘14.5 and Hannah Bristol ‘14.5 published an article for The Campus entitled “It’s Actually Just a Game,” students took to Facebook and Yik Yak to add their voices to the debate. Too often, the yaks and anonymous comments on the online version of the article were vitriolic personal attacks on the authors that offered little substance. We will leave it to you to note the hypocrisy of a yak that criticized the cowardice of publishing a controversial opinion just weeks before graduation– because that anonymous yak really makes you brave.

We felt the need to post an inflammatory yak about our own article because it seems like members of our community are only willing to engage in debate when they feel like they have some skin in the game. Athletic privilege is a hot-button topic, but it took a slightly radical (although we would argue not too radical) piece to get us to have this conversation. So a big shout out to Hannah and Isaac for starting this debate. Clearly, it’s one we need to have.

Our campus is small enough that anonymity can feel essential when talking about controversial issues. No one wants to estrange those they are close to despite their own strongly held convictions. Therefore, we applaud Jake Nidenberg ’16 for submitting a response to The Campus. Though we disagree with him on some points, his willingness to be held accountable for his opinion is laudable.

This point being made, let’s get on to the issue itself.

In many of the responses to Bristol and Baker’s article and also in the middbeat audio piece, students have tended to defend the academic standing of athletes, either through anecdotal evidence or uncited statistics. We would argue that these defenses stem from the very true and acknowledged reality that many of the athletes on our campus are in fact high-achieving, well-rounded students. Many respondents cite their NARP-athlete relationships as further proof that the social boundaries are not nearly as rigid as presented by The Campus article. The bottom line is this: most students seemed to want to say, athletes are just like us.” 

We agree! We are also friends with athletes. They are real people too. And many of them are incredible individuals with a wide variety of interests that extends beyond sports.

However, just because a male lacrosse player is also a ballet dancer and hikes Snake Mountain every weekend with his community friend does not mean that he is exempt from the inherent privilege that comes with being a member of a team. 

This is the crux of our argument: Privilege cannot be dismantled by individuals defying stereotypes. Instead, the privilege granted to athletes on this campus is engrained in the cultural makeup of this institution.

Where The Campus article got into trouble on this point was their lack of hard facts. The reality is this: when talking about athletic privilege, many of us want to make a point about the admissions process, about class selection advising, about room draw advantages; but the facts and quantitative evidence are just not there. 

So why don’t we hold off on baseless attacks on the institutional advantages given to athletes. Instead, let’s talk about the perception of social privilege reserved for members of certain teams.

Let’s call a spade a spade. The Campus article was not talking about the women’s softball team or the men’s cross country team. There are athletes on this campus who enjoy a special social standing not granted to every member of the athletic community or the Middlebury community as a whole.

It’s hard to articulate exactly what that social privilege looks like. In our experience, something happens almost immediately during freshman year. A group of students, determined by certain social parameters, gravitate towards one another and their counterparts in the grades above. They join, as we call it, ‘the scene.’

Is this different from when the canoe-paddling, Carhartt-wearing, Chakko-strapping, freshmen start hanging out at Brooker? Not necessarily. It’s a natural tendency.

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Weekly Hump Day HornHub: Human Horn

Tickets On Sale Tonight: Winter Carnival Jamboree

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Ready to think about spring semester yet? Yeah, you’re not alone. But if you’re already dreading the uptick in academics and slow decline of nights when it’s socially acceptable to drink, here’s a little something to look forward to! Heads up: tickets go on sale tonight at midnight! Matt Butler ’15 writes in to middbeat: 

Start that spring semester off right with the musical stylings of CLOUD NOTHINGS and VACATIONER. 2 great bands, 1 excellent night, all in the spirit of the tradition that is Winter Carnival.
Cloud Nothings – Fast, loud, balls to the walls. Cloud Nothings is grungegaragepunk done right- super catchy hooks, bangin drums and high-voltage energy.

Vacationer – Their second trip to Middlebury in four years, Vacationer creates a ’70s, psychedelic pop sound dripping in dreamy funk. Summer sounds for days. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it in February, eh?

Date: February 13th
Time: 8-11PM
Place: Wilson Hall (Social Space)
Cost: $5 in advance/$8 at the door