February Drunk Horoscopes

♈ Aries: March 21–April 19

  • Welcome back from Scotland! You should have run when you had the chance.

♉ Taurus: April 20–May 20

  • Whore yappiness??????

♊ Gemini: May 21–June 21

  • You stumble upon a mystery metal. It’s a liquid! Like vodka. Beware, it’s not galium. Your flooring will be replaced.

♋ Cancer: June 22–July 22

  • You will see Renee Rapp. You will question your sexuality.

♌ Leo: July 23–August 22

  • Oops! There is a fire. Run. The cats will cry. The cats are high.

♍ Virgo: August 23–September 22

  • I think gay is the best one. If you’re straight, that’s your own problem.

♎ Libra: September 23–October 23

  • Horoscope incoming! I’m cooking, cooking!!!

♏ Scorpio: October 24–November 21

  • Welcome to 1N! The sink isn’t supposed to do that. I guess beavers cause dams.

♐ Sagittarius: November 22–December 21

  • You will get BITCHES!! You love them sooo much. They are so caring and wonderful and you love having them in your life.

♑ Capricorn: December 22–January 19

  • Your name is Regina George. You are not a massive deal. You have five QEA assignments due.

♒ Aquarius: January 20–February 18

  • You’ll get cozy in the Charlotte airport. You’ll miss your first P&M. Bonding.

♓ Pisces: February 19–March 20

  • You’ve been through ten high schools. They start to get blurry. No point planting roots ‘cause you’re gone in a hurry.

Contributers:

Audrey Abraham (she/her)

Avery Mosley (mech/proto)

Becca Cramer (honk/honk)

Cat Cirone (P/M)

Charlie Mawn (him/he/his majesty)

Kate McCurley (Bri/ish)

Maddy Fahey (wa/hoo)

Mika Gazit (thoughts/prayers)

Drunk Horoscopes

Contributors:

Charlie Mawn (he/him)

Kate McCurley (any/all)

Maddy Fahey (any/all)

Eddy Pan (he/him)

Mika Gazit (any/all)

♈ Aries: March 21–April 19

  • You will start a club and make a group chat. It’s Facebook Messenger. You will cry. Your club will cry. Facebook Messenger will cry.

♉ Taurus: April 20–May 20

  • You’ll start vibrating, then you’ll start bouncing, and then you won’t be able to stop. You’ll start doing a kickline. Country roads, take me home.

♊ Gemini: May 21–June 21

  • You wake up. You have one Croc on. Where is the other Croc? It’s not in the Shop, because Crocs are not Shop-safe. (Even if they’re filled with jibbitz.)

♋ Cancer: June 22–July 22

  • Touch some dirt. It doesn’t have to be outside. In fact, maybe grow a tree in your toilet. Remember, the Olin dorm dirt limit is ten gallons.

♌ Leo: July 23–August 22

  • IT’S REUBEN, I KNOW IT IS. IT’S REUBEN!!

♍ Virgo: August 23–September 22

  • You will get a computer virus. You will click on the big green download button. Microsoft says you don’t have one, but you do.

♎ Libra: September 23–October 23

  • You will die slowly, like the grass under the Family Weekend tent. Your parents will come see you. They love the tent. They don’t realize you’re dying.

♏ Scorpio: October 24–November 21

  • Carve a pumpkin in a church. Carve a church in a pumpkin. Steal a pumpkin from a church, no one will stop you. Steal a church from a pumpkin, even.

♐ Sagittarius: November 22–December 21

  • You will get lost in Parcel B this week. You will befriend a bug, though. It might hop. You might hop.

♑ Capricorn: December 22–January 19

  • You will find a mosquito bite on your body. You don’t know where it came from. You didn’t even go outside. Maybe you should go outside.

♒ Aquarius: January 20–February 18

  • You’re probably sober. You can still feel your teeth.

♓ Pisces: February 19–March 20

  • There are so many questions! Where I go? Who I know? Will I be alone on Saturday night???

Exploring Boston

Exploring Boston 

Pauline Petersen (she/her)

I love getting off campus to places like Boston almost every weekend. Whether it be a coffee shop to do QEA on a rainy day or getting Boba on Newbury Street, it’s nice to explore new places. I’m not a local, but I’ve collected a few of my favorite places to check out and tips for those new to traveling into Boston. If you have recommendations to add on, let me know!

Getting into Boston

Split an Uber or carpool to Eliot Station and take the green line

Take the MWRTA shuttle from Babson to Woodland Station along the green line https://www.mwrta.com/routes/fixed-routes/route-1

Take the commuter rail from Wellesley Hills or Needham Heights ($10 weekend pass for unlimited rides) 

The Wellesley Shuttle once you have a Wellesley ID or purchase tokens from Lulu

Getting around Boston

Use the transit section in a map app to find subway and commuter rail times and routes.

Scavenger Hunt of Places to Check Out Around Boston/Cambridge 

  • The Charles Boardwalk
  • Bakey
  • Banana Lounge (unlimited supply) 
  • Get a Cannoli (Mike’s or Modern Pastry)
  • The Slide (it’s metal and curves)
  •  Most Photographed Street 
  • Bates Hall
  • Brattle Bookshop

Let me know your recommendations! 

–> ppetersen@olin.edu

What I’ve Learned

This moment last year, Olin Climate Justice was little more than an idea in the back of my mind. I’ve spent this past year pouring my life and soul into building OCJ.

I understand our group means many things to many people. To me, it represents thousands of hours of work and love and care and courage and determination and resilience and guts and kindness and heart. This may not be your view; that is okay.

OCJ has responded to the claims made by March’s anonymously published article. In this moment, however, that response is immaterial. Instead, in an act of vulnerability, I will tell you that article landed with deep hurt, frustration, and sadness. I recognize this was not the author’s intent, and yet both things can be true. And so I extend an invitation to you. 

I hope to use this space to reflect on one rollercoaster of a year, and I invite you to journey with me. These learnings are borne of experience; you may find them vague and unsubstantiated. That is okay too. I invite you to see them as an open question, an opportunity to wonder why I might have learned this.

Above all, I invite you to wonder what Olin could be. And I hope that wonder inspires you enough to act, as it did for me.

  • I’ve learned that the same anti-democratic structures in this college that center whiteness and maleness and wealth are the same structures that got us into the climate crisis in the first place.
  • I’ve learned that “collaboration” is wielded by those in power to obscure power differentials, and that when we say “collaboration” we really mean perfunctory student participation.
  • I’ve learned that “community” is similarly wielded by those with whom I am not in community as a means to suppress dissent.
  • I’ve learned that we can repeat the words collaboration and community over and over until we drop dead, and yet nothing will substitute for democratic processes that hold people in power accountable.
  • I’ve learned that student decision making power in this college is predicated on whether people in power feel like listening, and so students are expected to accommodate the whims of unelected white men.
  • I’ve learned that those in power are seen as collaborative because they maintain a range of things they are willing to do and take student input on, and outside of that range they are steadfast in their opposition.
  • I’ve learned that the lack of formal decision-making structures at this college prioritizes the “old boy’s club” that has existed from the start, empowers well-liked white men to attain outsized control over every decision, and prevents accountability and real democracy by obscuring power.
  • I’ve learned that better does not equal good, whether that is relative to other institutions or the Olin of the past, and those in power wield narratives of “change is slow” and “acknowledge small progress” to justify inaction.
  • I’ve learned that “common ground” and “shared values” are all too often employed when they do not exist, as reasons to ignore the substance of one’s argument.
  • I’ve learned that “impact” is meaningless when divorced from who we are impacting, what impact we hope to achieve, and why. And that meaninglessness is precisely why those in power love the term. (The same applies for “changemaking” and “do something”, always a low bar).
  • I’ve learned we’ve set the bar for “caring about sustainability” so low that not denying the existence of the climate crisis is considered enough.
  • I’ve learned that “sustainability” can mean anything, and so often is used to reinforce business-as-usual operations.
  • I’ve learned that some are so invested in avoiding discomfort, are so unsettled by efforts to pull back the Olin veil, that they would tear down their fellow students to uphold the systems of oppression that built this college.
  • I’ve learned that you can spend long nights poring over solar panel proposals and early mornings cleaning out overflowing compost bins, and those in power will turn around and claim credit for that work.
  • I’ve learned that no matter how hard you work, the credit will go to the cis men around you, while other men will always be happy to offer their unsolicited opinions.
  • I’ve learned that those in power will co-opt your work until you are no longer palatable to them.
  • I’ve learned that the only way that white men take me seriously is if I contort into someone calm, collected, and quiet, who never pushes for more.
  • I’ve learned that it’s one thing to care about sustainability and real environmental impact, which everyone does, and another thing to care enough to prioritize it above CompArch and PIE and Formula. It’s one thing to say you care and another thing to stare wide-eyed in terror at the ticking clock that is 1.5C and look around and think, what the hell are we all doing, acting as if everything can be normal and the same? That we can just keep going like this?
  • I’ve learned that we’re made too busy to care. For this college and for each other.

Sonnets

Hello everyone! As the semester winds down, I thought I could be nice to share some poems I’ve written over the last few weeks with you all. I wrote them for a specific person in mind, but please, interpret them how you will at your heart’s content. I feel like I’ve grown a ton over the last semester, and I hope to pursue this kind of non-STEM activity more over the next x-number of years (no hints!). Please don’t judge them too harshly, and I encourage you all to share a little love before the semester ends. Love you guys <3.

Sonnet 5:

Frosted gaze or sin-ged remark

A warm embrace never knew winter’s frost

Crimson leaves atop a glowing bark

Love enflamed lifts love lost  

Cold respite or scorch-ed bond

A firefly always finds its light

Roots entwine to blossom fond 

Petals bloom for fruit’s fertile flight

Orange dawn or amber rose

A painter’s brush never knew such bliss

Scarlet love in river flows

Winter’s chill mellowed with Summer’s kiss

Seasons struggle with time apart

Yet equinox begins within our heart

Sonnet 2:

I was never much of a writer,

Too weak to lift pen’s ink

I was never much of a sculptor

Too brain-scattered to think

I was never much of a painter,

Shades never seemed to lighten

I was never much of a singer,

Waves could never match Siren’s

I was never much of a poet,

But my heart compelled me so

She said I could be a poet 

But how could she ever know

I was never much of a lover

But that doesn’t seem to bother her

Sonnet 1:

I know your name

Better than my own

Endlessly articulate it in my mind

Like a schoolboy’s detention

But your name is all I know

And yet it is my own

Cork it in a bottle

Fawn over its waves 

If only you’ll let me know more

So I can be yours

Your name is the only

I wish to know

I’m never gonna know you now

But I’m gonna love you anyhow

Reflections on the Way to Divesting

The anonymous March 5 Frankly Speaking (FS) article, “Let’s Make Real Environmental Impact,” has me reflecting on what I had hoped to give when I came to Olin in 2018.  Prior, I served as a professor for 27 years, the last 13 as the founding co-director of a center for sustainability in engineering.  I learned many great and terrible lessons on my path to “have impact.”  The first was that we will always have an impact; is it the impact that we want to have? 

As I witness the divestment efforts unfolding I am moved to offer a few observations and learnings. I hope they are useful. My first observation is that Olin Climate Justice (OCJ) is cutting an admirable, textbook path of democratic action in service to social justice; I am awed by the high standard of scholarship in their communications that transparently grounds their case for divestment in data and explicit logics. Tyler’s March 9 email (subject: Olin Climate Justice’s Response to Board Statement) is another example.  All would do well to follow their lead, it seems to me. A lesson I cannot forget is that I am part of the system that I long to change. The truth of anthropogenic climate change is that my actions are causal to the problem. It is not “someone else” who is to blame–it is me, yet I am not alone.

The March 5, FS article, if I understand it, is expressing a students’ sense of betrayal. It goes a little like this: 

  1. OCJ communicates -> Author believes OCJ,  presuming factual communication
  2. Board members communicate -> Author believes Board, presuming factual communication
  3. Board communications do not equal OCJ communications
  4. Author concludes OCJ communications are false
  5. Author feels betrayed by OCJ because of 4

All communications, as theorized by linguists Grinder and Brandler1, re-present the world in ways that delete, distort and generalize and therefore are neither factual nor true.  I include the things I’m attempting to communicate now (and always, really).  Our options are then to test what is said for its coherence with reality, investigate it, or have faith in the speaker. The “faith” option is frequently granted to those with perceived authority, but not always warranted.

I have noticed at Olin that “collaboration” is often conflated with “consultation.” Collaboration is a mode of working that involves mutual respect and open power sharing. There are other properties but collaboration is distinct from consultation which is a mode in which one party holds power and exercises it unilaterally after seeking input from other parties (i,e., “consulting”); cooperation is another mode2. It is useful to recognize the distinction between these modes of working3. As the FS article points out, a dictate that another party adopt one’s point of view is not an act of collaboration–it is, as the biologist Humberto Maturana pointed out, a demand for obedience4. To be clear, the Board’s insistence that OCJ recognize what the Board believes to be a superior non-divestment approach is a demand for obedience; is it not an invitation to collaboration. The communication is this: If you only saw things the way I do, you would know I am right. That is, the assertion that OCJ was “non-collaborative” is a projection of the asserter’s state. 

It is very tempting to relate to what is said as right or wrong. What is more likely is that the things said are both right and wrong or equivalently neither right nor wrong. For example, the claim that Environment Social Governance (ESG) is “more effective” than divestment requires all kinds of assumptions about the meaning of “effective.” Effective at what and for whom? Whose standard, shareholders’? How do stakeholders whose life, livelihood and future are stolen rate the “effectiveness”?  In the end, I believe the dilemma of divestment must be addressed through authentic collaboration.  

In my five years at Olin, I have witnessed cooperation many times, but I have only seen collaboration ~3 times.  As I understand it, collaboration requires:

  1. A consciously-held, shared commitment to something larger than any of the party’s individual interests;
  2. A willingness for all parties to suspend their point of view for the sake of 1.
  3. A tolerance and patience with holding ambiguity long enough for a solution to emerge from the emptiness created by 2. 

How do we access C? Usually through inquiry: A compels B and produces curiosity; this curiosity causes the parties to real-ize that their individual points of view are not as comprehensive as believed. In this realization, people relax their attachment, literally relax (somatically) and gain access to collective creativity. I have often found at Olin that if we get past B, the space for creativity in the social field (C) collapses.  We cannot hold C–it is often said “we don’t have time,” but I think we mean that we don’t have courage.  

At this, the end of my career, I have learned that all inequities, whatever form they take–environmental injustice, racial injustice, social injustice, organizational injustice, classroom injustice–are one thing: an abuse of power.  The incredible beauty of the Olin community is that we long to do better.  For this reason, I came to Olin. As I retire, my hope is that all of us would pursue a conscious awareness of how we wield power and ask, “Is it just?”  We all want to live in a thriving world and we are the people we have been waiting for to bring it. I leave you with this quote from the 13-th century Persian poet Rumi:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Here for a Season

As all good things do, it started as a joke. Sometimes jokes get taken too far and that’s how I ended up in MAC 128 with a couple of others trying to figure out how to make Olin Clean Snowmobile possible. That’s how I ended up in a meeting room with admin figuring out the logistics. That’s how I ended up pitching this team to half the student body as if it was the hottest new P&M project. And like all P&M projects, you probably weren’t given much context as to what we’re really doing.

Olin Clean Snowmobile is a team that will modify an existing snowmobile to lower emissions and noise pollution. Contrary to popular belief, we will not be making an electric snowmobile, but we will be modifying a snowmobile with a diesel engine. Some modifications may look like redesigning the muffler system to utilize destructive interference, tuning the drivetrain, or designing a diesel particulate filter. This snowmobile will compete in the SAE Clean Snowmobile competition against other colleges and universities. To answer the most frequently asked question, yes, we’re serious about this, despite it all starting out as a joke.

In October 2022, a few of us who had joked about Olin Clean Snowmobile decided to try to do something to make it happen. We started to search for sponsors and put together a sponsorship packet. We started to plan for what projects the team would take on to achieve low pollution with the snowmobile. In November, we met with a winning team from Wisconsin to gain a better understanding of exactly what we were getting ourselves into. In December, we found ourselves in a conference room with a couple of faculty members pitching this project team. Before we formally started the meeting, one of them turned to us and said, “This is not a matter of if, but a matter of how.”

It was around that moment that I recognized how invested I was in this team. At some point in the process, Olin Clean Snowmobile became more than a joke. It was fulfilling the dream of the high school senior touring Olin thinking if there is any place to do something of any meaning, it’s this place. The one who accepted admission to the school with the belief that it was different than other schools in this way. It was showing the defeated first-year just starting classes that maybe there is something bigger than going through the motions with classes and clubs. Maybe, just maybe, my past self was onto something with this place. Doing something, as any honorable Oliner is meant to do, felt incredible.

It all came to a screeching halt just before spring break. We received the email we dreaded, the email we always knew might end up in our inbox, but it felt increasingly less likely as time went on. Olin Clean Snowmobile couldn’t happen. Not due to a lack of funding, a lack of interest, or a lack of faculty support. It was due to a lack of space.

Sometimes this school is too small for the growing dreams of the student body. The mere five buildings on the campus cannot always contain the hopes we have. Space is not an easy thing to come by and it isn’t something I necessarily expect to change. But at some point, something has to give. If there is no room to grow, then growth can’t happen. If students hear enough times that their attempts to “do something” simply aren’t possible, then won’t they stop trying?

I still, perhaps foolishly, believe that the mentality of “it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of how” still exists at Olin. Maybe because if Olin is really all that I want to believe it is, it has to.