The Bee

I know what you’re thinking. This is just the same story as last time. But it’s actually a shorter part 2! Just as much fun packed into a smaller package.

The story picks off at about the same time that the previous story ended. I was still pretty fed up with Mrs. Waffle’s teaching style. 

If you don’t recall the story from last time, all that’s necessary is that my English teacher only graded in class assignments. Over the first semester we wrote three essays, none of which were graded. Our whole grade consisted of one in class essay per quarter, two in class tests per quarter, and a handful of participation in class assignments. How is my atrocious writing supposed to get better if I don’t get any feedback? What’s the point of even doing work when you don’t get any feedback? Why do I even write these essay? Is she even reading them? Wait, is she even reading them?

Sometime in February, we got an assignment about poetry. The assignment was to take a poem, song or collection of either and write a huge analysis of the work. At least ten pages. And at this point, because of the past story, I really disliked Mrs. Waffle. I wrote my paper pretty easily. It was about the Pink Floyd album The Wall, and went pretty smoothly. It was about fourteen pages and I felt like it was pretty good. But then I remembered my question, “Is she even reading them?”

So I formulated a plan. I was to test this theory of mine that she just takes all of our essays and throws them in her fireplace. I just had to submit a piece of work that had enough of a length to it to be my essay at first glance, but if actually read, would quickly reveal itself to be not my essay. Then it hit me. The Bee Movie Script. It was perfect, long enough to be fourteen pages, complete gibberish, and best of all, at the time, February 2017, the Bee Movie script was the hottest meme.

The rest of the plan fell in like clockwork. I would print out the Bee Movie script, put my name at the top, and submit it in place of my essay. I would even make the font a little wacky to give her a hint. Then I would submit my actual essay via Google Drive. It was foolproof. If she actually read it, she would confront me and want to know what’s up. Because how can you, as a teacher, read the Bee Movie script and not talk to the student? Then I could tell her I had no idea what she was talking about, I submitted my essay with Google Drive. No accountability. If she didn’t read it, I would proof almost definitively that she wasn’t even reading our papers and flaunt to all the others about how I submitted the Bee Movie Script in place of a ten page paper.

Then I acted on my plan. I printed out and turned in the Bee Movie Script, submitted my real essay via Google Drive and waited. The days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and before I knew it the quarter was ending. Still no word or email from Mrs. Waffle about me turning in the bee movie script. 

After that, I promised not to do a lick of homework for that class for the rest of the year. I participated in class and everything, but I didn’t do any essays, and reading, anything. That’s not quite true, I did do two things over the rest of the year. One was a team assignment to complete an essay together. Despite my cold hard proof, I couldn’t convince all of my teammates to blow off the essay. I’m not a jerk, so I still put my full effort into the paper. The other was a short assignment, I forget the prompt, but I still have my response: 

The FitnessGram™ Pacer Test is a multistage aerobic capacity test that progressively gets more difficult as it continues. The 20 meter pacer test will begin in 30 seconds. Line up at the start. The running speed starts slowly, but gets faster each minute after you hear this signal. [beep] A single lap should be completed each time you hear this sound. [ding] Remember to run in a straight line, and run as long as possible. The second time you fail to complete a lap before the sound, your test is over. The test will begin on the word start. On your mark, get ready, start.

Q&A with Stephanie Milton

Stephanie Milton, Olin’s new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator arrived at Olin in January. Stephanie took a few minutes out of her day to answer some questions as she digs into her new role.

The Wire: Welcome! We are excited to have you on campus. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you came to be at Olin? 

Stephanie Milton: My background is in student affairs. A few years ago, though, I decided I wanted to explore theology so I entered the seminary. When I completed my program, I was trying to decide how and where I should help people. One of the ways people do that is through palliative care and bereavement. I worked at Emory Hospital and then moved over to the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (AVAHCS). There I focused on veterans and their history of moral injury and trauma. I have also worked both at small colleges, such as Spelman College, and in the UC system at the University of California Santa Cruz.

The Wire: Tell me what interested you about the work here at Olin? 

SM: I was looking for something student-facing. When I came to campus, I got this art school vibe from the students: they are very creative and that appealed to me. This is a start-up culture and very hands-on and I think that isn’t found just in the curriculum but everywhere.

I really like working in the DEI space because it’s very rewarding to see students and others have those a-ha moments. I have come to realize that the results of my work are not always visible while people are on campus, sometimes it’s only after they have graduated that they reach out and tell me what it meant to them. The Title IX piece is different. I hope people feel comfortable with me because I want people to know I’m approachable: “Hi, I’m here. Let’s talk.”

The Wire: What are you looking forward to at Olin?

SM: I’m looking forward to meeting as many students as possible and hearing what they want and what they are cautious about. I’m looking for a balance between my dual roles in the DEI and the Title IX space. And I can’t wait to experience the whole academic year. I have heard about EXPO and Commencement. I’m looking forward to being a part of this community. 

I also have to learn all the acronyms! Students have been sharing things with me like “MVP” and it took me a while to realize it was minimum viable product.

The Wire: What is coming up? 

SM: We have definitely hit the ground running here. We are planning films and discussions for Women’s History Month. We are planning a restorative justice workshop. I also want people to know there is always dark chocolate in my office. So, come on by.

Sat’Day Mornings

Editor’s note: A big thank you to Jordan for submitting this piece so that Frankly Speaking would be exactly 12 pages, a multiple of 4 pages.

He did this piece for his Wellesley Painting Class last semester (taught by Elizabeth Mooney). It was originally titled Saturday mornings, but it didn’t fit so it is now Sat’day Mornings because Sat Mornings was spaced pretty strangely.

Consider that April is National Poetry Month so you should submit poems to us. Art is always cool.

I made this piece because it reminded me of how I spent my Saturday mornings in high school, eating cheap food and drinking tea.

A Very Belated Hello

Hi there, Olinauts! You may have noticed that I wasn’t an editor and now I am. I just joined the Frankly Speaking team this year, and I’m finally taking the chance to say hello.
Here’s a little bit about me if you don’t already know who I am: I’m a Robotics major who came to this school with nothing but the ability to program and write any type of bullshit but poetry. I’m easily spotted on most days by a green army shirt and bright red high-tops. My favorite author is Neil Gaiman, and my favorite genre of anything is weird as shit.
I love any music in the realm of classic rock and alternative rock, but I’m going through my angsty music phase now: Fall Out Boy, twenty-one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, you name it. My pride and stubbornness are both my greatest assets and greatest weaknesses. I don’t know when to quit, and nobody tells me what to do but my mother (and sometimes my roommate).
I’m also really excited to work on Frankly Speaking this year.
This newspaper is such a cool way for Olin to speak its mind and offer interesting opinions on things like capitalism and maps.
I’m also hoping to make it a cool way to find out more about what’s going on at Olin from student-run events to faculty research to campus culture discussions and maybe even as a way to find out what’s going on in the world outside of Olin (if that exists).
But sometimes the barrier between “this should be in Frankly Speaking”
to sending it in is actually writing something.
Well, that’s what I’m here for. Do you have something you want to say but don’t know how to say it? Is there something you think someone should write about but don’t have the motivation to write it yourself? Are you slugging through an article but want an outside opinion or maybe just grammar check?
If any of these are you, I’m the person for the job. I’d love to complement the current Frankly Speaking spread with articles grounded in Olin and directly applicable to the Olin community.
If you have ideas for content along these lines, I would love to hear them.
Expect me to bother various club, activity, and student government meetings in the near future.
Is there an event you think I should cover? Let me know. Is there a TV show, movie, or book you want me to review before you commit your own time to it? Let me know.
That being said, I also love the application of critical theory to everyday topics and would love to advise on or write a critical spin on any topic on campus or off. If that’s something you’re into, let me know.
Stay Cool,
Sophia “Will Write for Free” Nielsen

SERV Activity Updates

The Daily Table: Emily Yeh

Daily Table is a nonprofit organization that makes affordable and healthy food available to people with low incomes. A group from Olin volunteers at Daily Table every Saturday (time TBD). If you’re interested, keep an eye out for an email to Carpe with more information!

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters College Campus Program: Justin Kunimune

Big Brothers Big Sisters has continued with its biweekly outings. As we approach the end of the semester, we prepare to say goodbye for our Littles for the summer.

 

Charles River Center: Emma Price

The Charles River Center is a non-profit organization based in Needham that works to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities and help support their families. They have a variety of different programs for people of all ages, all with really fun activities (like zumba and yoga)!!

 

E-Disco: Micaela Chiang, Daniel Daughterly, Lauren Pudvan, Nicole Schubert

We have continued our monthly lessons at Schofield Elementary school. We hosted the 6th graders from Dana Hall and had them design for mythical creatures. We will be having students in the area come to Olin on April 29th to build and launch Bottle Rockets.

 

IgniteCS: Casey Alvarado, Emily Lepert, Brenna Manning, Vicky McDermott, Sophia Nielsen, Andrew Pan

We are hosting computer science workshops on Saturdays at nearby middle schools. Last semester we hosted two workshops at Dedham Middle School and Monsignor Haddad Middle School. This semester we hosted one at Pollard Middle School in Needham and will be returning to the Dedham Middle School. We are always looking for volunteers to help out at our workshops and for new members to join our curriculum design team!

 

The Food Project: Aaron Greiner, Gaby Clarke

The Food Project engages youth and works on food justice issues through running 70 acres of farm in the Greater Boston area and the North Shore. They work on advocacy, youth development, and much more. Their farms, which are largely run by youth and volunteers, produce food that is sold at affordable prices at places like farmers markets. They have volunteer opportunities at all of their farms throughout the week.

 

Massachusetts Correctional Institution (MCI) Framingham: Ashley Funk

MCI Framingham is the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s institution for incarcerated women. They have a number of opportunities for volunteers, though getting approved as a volunteer takes persistence and patience (lots of background checks and paperwork). Currently, I am volunteering in the greenhouses and providing support for the gardening program where the women grow plants to sell to the prison staff.

Mother’s Little Helper: The Feminine Mystique’s Impact on Inclusive Suffering

“’Things are different today,’
I hear every mother say
Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak
And goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper”

(“Mother’s Little Helper,” The Rolling Stones)

Now, I’m not a mother myself, but I feel that I’ve met enough of them in my life to feel justified in saying that mothers feeling unappreciated and overworked is dece. Over half a century ago, (because this has been going on for that long and longer), Betty Friedan wrote a little book addressing these very issues, called The Feminine Mystique, which is largely credited with sparking the second wave feminism movement. Good for Friedan and her book.
The Feminine Mystique has been critiqued for, among other things, how narrow its subject and intended audience is. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making something for a small audience or writing about a very uncommon subject. You can write an advice guide for former US Presidents on what they should do after the Oval Office. That’s an audience of five right now. You can craft an encyclopedia on Northern White Rhinos, of which there are ten still living. There’s nothing wrong with a small subject pool or a select audience. And while I won’t argue that Friedan was wrong in her choice to exclude anyone not straight, white, affluent, and female from her message, that cannot be the sole reason we decry the book.

That Damn Donna Reed
Through a somewhat roundabout series of events, I ended up starting to watch Gilmore Girls (and I couldn’t really stick with it). One episode that sticks out to me is the one where Rory, her mother Lorelai, and her boyfriend Dean watch The Donna Reed Show for their movie night. Lorelai and Rory provide constant, witty, sarcastic dubbing for the viewing, mocking how devoted Donna Reed and her TV daughter are to keeping the house cleaning and baking “an endless string of perfect casseroles” (Gilmore Girls, season 1 episode 14). When Dean comments that he thinks it’s a nice family concept, Rory uses the second half of the episode to show Dean how strange a 50’s nuclear dinner is, except that they both enjoy the evening and Rory learns that the real Donna Reed was actually quite revolutionary in the world of television.
Why do I mention Donna Reed?
For starters, The Donna Reed Show is a very clear example of both what a good deal of 1950’s home life was like and how we want to remember it having been. More to my point of not liking the book’s message, just because you think that how someone is living their life is wrong doesn’t mean that they have to join you in your sentiment, and you saying that your view is the correct one because you believe it to be that way is childish. Is The Donna Reed Show dated? Yes (it’s literally set in the 1950’s-60’s). Should we condemn how different women live their lives? No (society expects women to be everything all at once, so maybe we should focus on that). It’s good to go to college, it’s good to cook dinner for your family, it’s good to have a career, and it’s good to be a stay at home parent. A better book to The Feminine Mystique would have been Give Women a Choice in Their Lives.

On the Origins of Non-Straight People
On to the main event. I imagine that if you were to sum up every person that was part of any marginalized group, they would outnumber non-marginalized people several times over. And because we’re a species that has divided itself into fabricated groups, we feel the need to compete to be on top, we accept as an ingrained concept that not everyone can rise to the top together, we fight for ourselves and maybe our children or friends if we’re feeling generous.
To this point, Friedan, decides to spend a good portion of one of her later chapters “analyzing” and condemning homosexuality. I.e. she devotes a large portion of text to oppress a marginalized group while talking about how bad it is to be part of a marginalized group. “Homosexuals often lack the maturity to finish school and make sustained professional commitments” (Friedan, 229). She then goes on to explain that the Kinsey report found that homosexuality was least prevalent in college graduates and most prevalent in male students with a college diploma or less. And not only are gay men less mature and afraid of commitment, but they are discussed in the chapter entitled “The Sex Seekers,” a chapter in which Friedan discusses how women under the feminine mystique attempt to use sex as a way to feel fulfilled in their daily lives, but that it just manifest to hurt them, their marriages, and their relationships with their children. In fact, did you know that homosexuality is actually caused by an overbearing mother “who lives through her son, whose femininity is used in virtual seduction of her son, who attaches her son to her with such dependence that he can never grow to love a woman,” (229)?
Basically, homosexuals are a byproduct of female oppression, so when women are finally liberated, the evil that is homosexuality will be over. Awesome.

We Can’t All Have Freedom. Duh.

I’m not saying that it’s ever ok to marginalize anyone, but if it was just Friedan having her opinion, that would be one thing. It’s quite another to publish your opinion and then have that work become a central tenant of an entire social movement. Whether it’s cis white gay guys acting like they’re the only members of import under the LGBTQ+ banner or white middle to upper class women who can’t see how single women of color have issues that need to be addressed as part of feminism, Friedan’s work has helped to influence a culture where people only want to fight for people who look and live exactly like they do.
God forbid we be inclusive.

Science Isn’t Truth

We’re living in a time of falsehood. Between ‘alternative facts’ and a disturbing preponderance of fake news, the lack of common ground truth precludes productive conversation. I don’t have the solution to this. But I believe a small part of the solution is understanding the logical framework for separating science from untestable, irrefutable claims. To that end, dear reader, I’d like to tell you about the philosophy of science.

If your secondary education was anything like mine, then you were probably (implicitly) lied to about science. For me, science was presented as a ‘body of truth’ — a set of equations and facts to memorize and regurgitate for the exam. In college this view got a bit more nuanced — the equations we worked with were good approximations in particular settings, but lacking compared to some underlying truth. My mental model of science was still one of verification though — propose a hypothesis, then confirm it through experiment or rework if necessary. This model, however, is totally wrong.

This Verificationist perspective on science trips on a very old philosophical issue: the Problem of Induction. To illustrate — Europeans used to believe that all swans are white. They had observed many swans, found only white samples, and drew a generalized conclusion that all swans are white. But when they eventually explored Australia, they made a discovery which caused their theory to crumble: black swans. The problem is in thinking a theory confirmed by limited observations; a ‘proven’ theory purports to hold for an infinite set of cases, but experiments are necessarily limited to a finite number. How can we logically place trust in scientific theory?

Enter Karl Popper with his 20th century work “The Logic of Scientific Discovery”, where he laid out (among other things) the idea of Falsification. Popper argued that science should not be conducted by attempting to prove theories true, but rather by attempting to show them to be false — to falsify them. In this approach, a theory is never accepted as truth, but instead gains more credibility as it fails to be shown false.

Practically speaking, why does this matter? First, it gives a logically sound formulation for doing science. Second, it allows us to separate science from ‘pseudo-science’. Popper was a contemporary of Freud, and noted that Freudian Psychology was flexible enough to incorporate any new observations; Freud claimed to be able to explain any behavior of a female in terms of penis envy. This sort of theory is not falsifiable, and therefore does not deserve to be called science. A scientific theory disallows particular behaviors (e.g. perpetual motion); such a theory has some predictive capability.

Admittedly, this doesn’t solve the problem of outright falsehood. If we don’t agree on what observations were made, then the inferences we draw will be completely different. But understanding Falsification allows us to determine what kind of claims can be refuted, and separate out junk purporting to be science. If I’ve piqued your interest in the subject, I recommend both Popper’s book (a dense read) and the Crash Course YouTube series on Philosophy (an absolute joy).