Posts by Stephanie

Justice Watch: CC Students Look for Bias at Local Courthouse

By Miriam Brown ’21

Judges in the El Paso County Courthouse are supposed to be fair and impartial, but if they aren’t, Anna Grigsby ’19 and other Colorado College students are there to document it.

Grigsby is one of the leaders of Justice Watch, a student organization whose mission is to hold attorneys and judges accountable for fair treatment by observing trials and collecting data.

Associate Professor of Sociology Gail Murphy-Geiss introduced Grigsby and co-leader Key Duckworth ’19 to the organization through her sociology course Law and Society, in which students collect data at the courthouse. Justice Watch used to be a community-based group, but after it dissolved, Murphy-Geiss stepped in to revive it on CC’s campus.

“One of our goals is to normalize going to the courthouse because it’s public, and a lot of people don’t really understand that,” Grigsby says. “While we’re going to class, people’s futures are at risk.”

On the second and third Monday of every block, students ride with Grigsby and Duckworth to the courthouse, where they pair off to separate courtrooms. The pairs follow the trials with a pre-made worksheet, which asks questions like, “Do you think the judge treated both sides fairly?” If enough data is collected, they can present a report to the chief justice, which in the past has resulted in the removal of judges for inappropriate behavior.

Duckworth explains that with newspapers losing funding, reporters who were responsible for reporting on court events are often cut. Because of this, she says that organizations like Justice Watch are more important now than ever.

“This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done at CC,” says Duckworth. “I hope people can feel empowered to get more politically active and just realize that they can actually change things if they go out and try.”

Student-athletes Start Academic Year at Wildlife Refuge

Baca Wildlife Refuge

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Every student who comes to CC participates in a Priddy Trip and individual trips engage in a wide variety of service work, ranging from trail construction to working with animals. This year, the early athlete Priddy Trip worked with the Baca National Wildlife Refuge to lower and remove barbed wire fences. Our group, which included incoming freshmen on the volleyball, men’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross-country teams, camped at the North Crestone campground and worked at the wildlife refuge for three days.

Although working on the fences was tiring, it was also quite rewarding for everyone on the trip. On the first day of work, Ron Garcia, who works at the wildlife refuge, explained that the fences are too high for deer and other animals to jump over. The top wire of the fence ensnares their legs, and the animals go into shock and usually die before anyone can free them. Because of this, Garcia instructed us on how to lower the top wire and attach it to the lower wires to make the fences passable for wildlife. We spent most of one day walking along a fence and leap-frogging from post to post while lowering the wires. The second day, while also working with fences, was slightly different work.

Lots of the fence in the refuge is considered historical, so we were instructed to leave the wooden posts intact while removing and rolling the barbed wire to allow wildlife to pass through. Cross-country athlete and first-year Ben Gellman says, “I really enjoyed getting to work with the Baca Wildlife Refuge because I believed in the importance of the service work we were doing. When we drove down the road and saw the quantity of fencing that was now safer for antelopes and other animals it hit home how important the work was.” Many first-year students echoed this sentiment as we drove by the fences we worked on. Gellman adds that he appreciates the connections made during NSO, and feels like he is now more likely to cheer on other athletes he got to know while fixing fences.

 

Day of Service Morphs Into Week of Action

By Miriam Brown ’21

 What do creek clean-ups, blood drives, and anti-racism workshops have in common?

 They are all ways for Colorado College students, faculty, and staff to engage with the local community during CC’s recent Week of Action.

 Historically, the events focused on cleaning up local creeks during CC’s annual Day of Service. The annual Creek Week Clean-Up is a community-wide effort of the Pikes Peak region to clean creek and watershed fronts across the area. In the past, CCstudents and members of the campus community have done their part by trekking to Monument Creek to pick up trash along the bank. Duringthe 2016 event, theypicked up 3,140 pounds of trash intwo miles.

 This year, Niki Sosa, community partnership development coordinator for the Collaborative for Community Engagement, wanted to provide more opportunities to join in on the fun. Because of the fast-paced nature of the Block Plan, the CCE settled on a full week of action.

 “We thought with the week, we would have multiple afternoons where we could have diverse opportunities and showcase different ways that our CC community can be engaging in the greater Colorado Springs community,” Sosa says.

 The Week of Action, which took place from Sept. 29, to Oct. 6, featured nine intercampus groups and 11 community partners.On Monday, 18community organizations set up tables in Worner Campus Center for an engagement fair to show students the myriad ways they could participate.

 “Big change happens on the local level, and we are helping to create pathways so that students can get connected to that,” says Sosa.

 The week included events like an anti-racist agenda workshop, a discussion with city council members Jill Gaebler and Don Knight, a Bonfil Blood Drive, and a day exploring Colorado Springs with Leadership Pikes Peak.

 “It’s just hopefully the beginning,” says Anthony Siracusa, the CCE’s engaged learning specialist. 

Professor Richman Shares Insight at Union College Conference

Prof Richman presenting

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Last week, Associate Professor of English Jared Richman returned to his alma mater, Union College, to be the closing speaker at their Blake@Union exhibition on English poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. Richman has been studying Blake since his time at Union as an undergraduate, and continued the work throughout his master’s and doctorate programs.

He is also still engaged in studying William Blake, as he is currently researching and writing about a project on Blake’s visionary works. The talk, Richman explains, “explored Blake’s concept of America, which he used strategically over several decades as a political symbol in his poetry and printmaking.”

Richman specifically focused on “Blake’s conception of art in politically volatile times, the notion of republican art generally, and Blake’s enduring belief that art and poetry are vital components for a free and just society.” He continues, “I situated Blake’s work alongside British radicals and reformers such as Thomas Paine and Richard Price and artists such as James Barry and James Gillray.”

CC students who know Richman will recognize his Blake expertise, as he teaches a class called Blake and the Idea of the Book with Printer of the Press Aaron Cohick. The class studies Blake’s poetry, printmaking and painting, and spends time in the CC Print Shop.

Max Pil ’20 Climbs eSports Top 500 Leaderboards

Max Pil, eSports

By Miriam Brown ’21

 In the virtual world, Max Pil ’20 is a world-class hamster. In Overwatch, a video game in which heroes must come together to control global conflict, Pil regularly plays as Hammond, a hamster nicknamed “Wrecking Ball” for his ability to crush people with his mechanical ball.

Pil plays Hammond so well that he ranks in the top 30 in the world for the position and in the top 500 players overall in North America.

Pil is a member of Colorado College’s eSports team, which was founded last year. The team has around 18 students who play video games, specifically League of Legends and Overwatch, competitively against other collegiate eSports teams.

Despite being new to the team this year, Pil is already teaching the team’s private coach how to play his position.

“He’s doing things that people have never even thought of before,” eSports manager and co-founder Lilly Chen ’19 said. “For the team, there’s a noticeable difference when he’s in the game.”

After Pil posted to a Reddit forum about his play, so many people had questions that he started streaming to explain while he played. Now, in addition to Pil’s regular games and practices with CC’s team, he plays in matches alongside Overwatch paid professionals.

“I think it’s really fun, having grown up playing video games, to finally reach a point where you’re really good,” Pil said. “It’s really cool to get into matches and be at a very high level of competition for something that I always thought was kind of a stupid hobby.”

Chen says that in CC’s future matches, the team just needs to keep starting Pil. “It’s like [in basketball], he’s dunking on kids, and you just have to give him the ball,” Chen said.

TheCC eSports Overwatch team plays its first official games in the collegiate gaming organization Tespa Fall season this Sunday, Sept. 30. Game 1 vs. Purdue University Indianapolis, is at 6 p.m., Game 2 vs. University of South Carolina is at 7:30 p.m. Tune in at https://twitch.tv/coloradocollege, or view the broadcast directly on the CC eSports homepage https://www.coloradocollege.edu/esports

First Person: Gathering Plant Data and Research Experience on my Venture Grant to Bolivia

Bolivia

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Although many students choose to pursue Keller Venture Grants that are not directly related to their majors, my Venture Grant in Bolivia provided the first set of data for my senior thesis with the Department of Organismal Biology and Ecology.

The idea first came from Assistant Professor Rachel Jabaily when she heard I would be travelling in Bolivia before my semester abroad program in Chile. There is a species of plant in Bolivia that is endangered, but not well studied, she explained. The species, Puya raimondii, lives at high elevations (11,000 to 14,000 feet) in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. She suggested that I could gain unique and valuable field research experience by collecting basic data from these plants.

After a little background research and a few emails to Jabaily’s Bolivian colleagues, I decided I would spend a few days of my independent travel time collecting size and reproductive category data on P. raimondii. One day of data collection would be with my dad, who was travelling with me for two weeks, and the other four days I would be accompanied by Bolivian botanist Carolina García Linowho studied P. raimondiifor her undergraduate thesis.

My dad and I travelled around southern Peru and Bolivia for almost two weeks before starting on the data collection, which ended up providing valuable acclimatization time. Hiking off-trail across rocky hills at 13,000 feet was not easy, even after those two weeks. The first data day took place a few hours outside of La Paz, where we easily found the P. raimondiiwith the help of Bolivian graduate students. Fueled by llama chicharrones (fried llama meat) and cookies, I was able to collect data from 40 individual plants.

A week after the first data day, my dad returned home, and I travelled to Cochabamba to convene with García Linoand her husband and new baby. We met in a hotel to plan our data collection and decided to rent a car and stay overnight in the little towns in the area known to have P. raimondii. Although I had a list of GPS coordinates of Puya locations, we spent the first day driving, searching for plants, and not finding any. The area was very rural with patchy cell phone coverage, and locals were suspicious of outsiders. After a day and a half of driving and not seeing a single Puya, we finally found ourselves in the Municipalidad de Vacas, where Bolivia’s largest Puya population lives. Data collection went smoothly from there, despite the rainy weather. After a day and a half of measuring Puya, I had enough data to head back to Cochabamba. Working in Bolivia was quite successful, but there is always room for improvement with methods, and a potential to have more data. In October, I will travel to Colombia, this time with Jabaily, to collect the same types of data in different species of Puya, with the goal of comparing reproductive data for the different species.

Lostroh and Udis-Kessler Release Third Album

Rejoice: Songs and Hymns

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Although Associate Professor of Molecular Biology Phoebe Lostroh and Director of Assessment and Program Review Amanda Udis-Kessler have been a couple since 1997, they were making music together long before.

They recently released their third album, “Rejoice: Songs and Hymns” under the band name EverySoul. The album contains 15 original songs and liberal religious hymns written by Udis-Kessler. The idea for the album started when Udis-Kessler was preparing for liver cancer treatment and wanted to compose at least one more album.

About the music, Lostroh says, “I want to help make the world a better place by encouraging people who value social justice,” and, “to make music that will help sustain activists in times of trouble and make us feel less alone.” The duo hopes to have the album included in the Unitarian Universalist Church’s music, which Lostroh says is quite remarkable.

“There are almost no other out queer women writers in U.S. church hymnals — Amanda is one of the very few, with a song in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal,” she explains. Since the release of the album, Udis-Kessler has already submitted a hymn for inclusion in a Methodist hymnal, and written a few new songs, which Lostroh says she is always happy to sing.

“Rejoice: Songs and Hymns”  is available on Spotify, and anyone who wants a free copy of the CD can contact Amanda Udis-Kessler via email: audiskessler@coloradocollege.edu.

 

Matt Rosen ’21 Connects with the Human Condition in First Book

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Matt Rosen ’21 has an exciting spring coming up: His book “Speculative Annihilationism: The Intersection of Archaeology and Extinction”will be published by Zero Books in June. The book is about philosophy, a topic Rosen has been interested in for a long time. His curiosity stems from watching a cartoon version of “The Hobbit” at the age of four, which he says was “the first time that I realized that I too must die, that in being born I had been given no choice in the matter.”

With his book, Rosenuses his passion for philosophy to argue that archaeology can be granted a new basis, a new avenue of inquiry at its intersection with extinction.He uses a variety of philosophical approaches to make his case.

Inspiration for the book, Rosen says, was frustration. He explains that the field of philosophy has a long history of only focusing on humans, and ignoring the reality that does not include humans. Because of this, “we need a vision of the sciences and of philosophy itself which can help us to better understand our place in this very inhuman world.” Rosen had a clear idea of what he wanted to say with his book, and was able to finish in only a block and a half. The process, he says, helped him gain respect for other writers who are juggling multiple projects and tight deadlines. The short writing time also “further legitimates the wonders of the Block Plan.”

Only in his second year at CC, Rosen, who hails from Ridgewood, New Jersey,has not yet declared a major but plans to study philosophy. He also hopes to continue his study of philosophy into a doctorate program, and eventually teach. Even with these academic goals, Rosen says that philosophy does not start or end with the academy. “Philosophizing is what each of us does every day, it’s how we cope (or don’t cope) with our situation, with the condition of being in the world and being in a world precisely like this one,” he explains.

Outside of academics, Rosen will continue to philosophize and write, as he began to do as he watched “The Hobbit.” Rosen’s book can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Zunneh-bah Martin ’19 Represents Indigenous Peoples as Ceremonial Queen

Zunneh-Bah Martin '19

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

CC senior Zunneh-bah Martin recently completed her year as the Miss Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial Queen representing the Diné(Navajo) and Modoc tribes.

The role is part of one of the longest-running events in New Mexico, the 97th Annual Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial, and was the second time Martin competed. Martin first competed in Fall 2015, as she prepared to leave her reservation for the first time to attend CC. She says she did not run with the goal of winning, but just to “be surrounded by my family, friends, and Native peoples during the Ceremonial events before I left my community.”

She ran again in August 2017 and had a similar inspiration. It was right before she left to study abroad in New Zealand (Aotearoa in Maori), and she says, “I wanted to be part of this annual celebration of Native peoples and our cultures.”

Martin won the title of Miss Ceremonial Queen her second time. She explains that the pageant differs from others in that it “includes getting judged on an essay and public speaking as well as a professional interview with several judges asking tough questions about issues that affect Native American communities and Indigenous women. I was also judged on my Traditional Indigenous Cultural talent and skills as well as my Contemporary talent and skills on stage before the general public.”

These trials are meant to prepare the winner for her year-long stint as Miss Ceremonial Queen, a position that involves representing all Native American tribes and acting as a Native/Indigenous Woman leader and role model.

Martin particularly enjoyed using her platform to inform larger audiences about indigenous rights and environmental issues. The Miss Ceremonial Queen role is well-known across the Southwest, and Martin says it enabled her to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds and tribes with whom she wouldn’t otherwise have been able. She also had the opportunity to represent the title differently from past queens, as she is a full-time college student who studied abroad during her year as the Ceremonial Queen. “I hope to bring awareness and education of the original peoples of this land to CC and how the CC community can become allies who support and stand for Indigenous peoples, our rights, and issues we are still facing with the environment,” Martin says.

CC Makes Sustainability Gains in STARS Report

Tutt Library

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

CC made a number of appearances in the recently published 2018 Sustainable Campus Index. Run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Campus Index is a self-reporting system to highlight colleges’ and universities’ sustainability efforts.

They measure 17 different areas and rate them on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Ranking System. CC’s Director of Sustainability Ian Johnson highlights the significance of the report, saying “it is important to be in the know about what other schools are doing and to make sure that we remain leaders in our work.”

The newly renovated Tutt Library was highlighted in the “Buildings” section of the report, saying the library is a “major contributor to the college’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.” CC also tied for 10th place on the “Purchasing” list, which reviews the environmental and social responsibility of a school’s services and products.

The “Water” section evaluates conservation, recycling, and reuse of water, as well as effective use of rainwater; CC was number two on the list. Johnson sees these results as a big step for CC, as it “is a clear indication that not only is our approach working, but that in some cases it’s put us at the head of the pack.  That tells me that we’re doing something real and doing it right, not just embracing an image.”