Archive

December 2019

Browsing

By Megan Schneider
Staff Writer

Dear Reader,

Have you ever felt so stressed that you can’t event talk? What about the fear of not being understood or being too embarrassed to articulate your feelings?

Journaling helps some people minimize their stress and anxieties by working through their thoughts on paper. Having something that no one else has to see and the ability to say anything you want can have extreme power.

I started writing in my journal every night when I first arrived at St. Michael’s College. It brought a sense of relief. The thoughts that raced around in my head, keeping me from sleeping at night or focusing during the day, were now transferred to paper.

“Things tend to swirl around in our heads endlessly,” said English professor Elizabeth Inness-Brown. “There is something about the act of writing sentences and paragraphs. It makes it more concrete, it makes it more of something you can look at and examine and it is outside yourself.”

Patrick Standen, a philosophy professor who journals, said writing can be more beneficial than talking. “The value of using words and writing it versus the value of just talking with people is that there are those unguarded moments when you are writing,” Standen said.

Many people say they don’t journal because it’s time consuming. Standen
said if you are committed to it, you will find time. Standen does his journaling as he eats his breakfast in the morning. This, he said, allows him to reflect on
the day before and let out any frustrations he still has in the morning. “It becomes, at times, a burden, but
it is a burden sort of in the same way as brushing my teeth. I’m going to do it and I’m not going to class without brushing my teeth and combing my hair.”

Ellen McKenna ’22, who journals for documentation said, “Sometimes I dread doing it to be honest. It’s the
kind of thing that takes motivation, but is so fulfilling afterwards.” Even so, McKenna said just taking ten minutes away from studying or homework isn’t difficult and can provide the stress relief one needs. McKenna typically journals at night reflecting on what she did or what happened that day.

There is power in not just writing your thoughts and reflecting on your day, but having that structure to do it everyday, said Standen, describing the practice as a discipline. “I think most people often still find themselves in that sort of episodic mode where ‘I just don’t have time’
and they let the world dictate to them instead of taking control of their lives.” Standen said.

Standen said that people make excuses not to journal, but journaling can be a joyful way to step away from the many obligations causing stress. You can try it by taking ten minutes of your day to sit down, whether it be morning or night, grab a notebook, and just write.

By Talia Perrea
Visionary Editor

Sunday, November third, was a good day for me. I had a good night’s sleep, woke up early, and was excited for my coffee date that morning at 9 a.m. I left early, so I had enough time to find parking, and my date was waiting for me when I got there. Everything was going swimmingly.

An hour into my date I noticed a missed phone call and voicemail from my Dad. We had plans to meet up later in the day, and he was supposed to call me before he left, so I ignored it. I was having a good time, a phone call with my dad could wait.

I called back at 10:48 a.m. after my date and I said our farewells. My Dad asked me what I was doing, and if I was alone. “Why, what’s up?”

He didn’t answer me. Something seemed off. I stayed on the line with him during the drive back and we made small talk, him teasing me about the date along the way.

When I walked into my townhouse he asked if any of my roommates were home, and at the moment my roommate, Emily, came down stairs. “Can I speak to her.”

I handed the phone to Emily, with the warning that he was being weird and proceeded to put my stuff down. I’m not sure what my Dad said to her, all I could hear was her agreeing, then the phone was handed back to me.

“Do me a favor and sit down.”

“Okay?”

“Talia, I hate to do this to you.”

“What’s going on, you’re scaring me.”

“Talia, your grandfather is dead.”

I’m angry that funerals cost so much, and that newspapers make a profit off of grief.

It felt like my Dad just hit the pause button on my life, and all I could think of was, ‘This can’t be happening’. I started sobbing and I got this chill in my body that still hasn’t left. I felt alone.

My Papa and I were close. Days during the summer and nights after school were spent with him. We passed time with made-up games and tractor rides, always ready for the next adventure. We would plant trees as our family continued to grow, and fight with the squirrels who got into the bird feeders. When I got older, although I spent less time at his house, he always knew what was going on in my life, and supported me in whatever I did. When it came time to go to college, we started a new tradition: weekly phone calls. Once a week Papa would call me and we would chat about what was new in my life. During the last month our weekly phone calls came to a halt. Papa, 73, had been sick, and we were waiting for him to get better to resume our calls.

I remember walking upstairs to pack a bag, but all I ended up doing was sitting on my bed, and I remember looking outside as it started to hail, thinking “Mother nature knows how I’m feeling right now: frozen.”

I was living a nightmare. My brother carried my bags downstairs and we got in my Uncle Pete’s truck. My Uncle Nate was sitting in the back and he gave me a hug, and with that we left. My parents were waiting outside the emergency room entrance. They both gave me a hug. My mom stuck by my side, as we walked into our private waiting room.

Not long after we hovered in the doorway as I gazed at the body that was once my Papa. I stared at him as the nurse explained that she could uncover his face, but he still had a tube in his mouth. “Hospital policy,” she said.

We kept the cloth pulled up as I at least couldn’t bare to see him with a tube in his mouth. I tried to understand what happened. How my Papa, who was doing well, died so suddenly. How I could lose someone so important to me. How my whole life seemed to be torn apart in a matter of seconds.

We spent our days at my Nana’s house as we tried to process and plan. We wrote the obituary together, and learned the hard way just how expensive it can be to grieve for your loved ones. Newspapers charge per word in an obituary, and funerals are expensive.

The system is flawed. We live in a country where it is mandatory to have health insurance, but no one cares about life insurance. People are denied all the time due to pre-existing health conditions or are stuck paying a higher fee, so they just opt out.

The United States isn’t built to grieve. When a loved one dies it’s up to you to pick up the pieces. You have to sign the dotted lines, make the official phone calls. Notify all the various doctor’s offices they went to, just so they will stop calling the house with appointment reminders. We don’t need a reminder that they died, waking up and not seeing them is enough. We shouldn’t have to email professors, and track down who to notify in the dean’s office so we won’t be marked with an unexcused absence.

In this country many workplaces only allow two days off when a family member dies. If there is one thing that my Papa taught me it’s that family is critically important.

Death isn’t just the loss of one life. To everyone who feels that loss, it’s their own mini crisis. Death is a part of our existence, and it’s about time that our country starts to understand that. It’s about time that the grieving are allowed to grieve.

People keep telling me that they’re sorry for my loss, or giving me these pity looks. Then you have the people who don’t mention it at all. Who would rather pretend that there isn’t an essence of sadness everywhere I go, then try to provide comfort. They make me feel I need to pretend to be okay. I’ll force a smile on my face, and say that I’m doing fine, when I’m not. I feel this pressure to go back to school, to go back to work, and to go back to my life. No one tells you who to call when the person who you want to speak to is dead. No one tells you how to keep on living.

I need to be treated normal, but at the same time realize that I may need time and space. I need to know that it’s okay to randomly burst into tears, because a song made me think of him, or something happened that we would have laughed about together. I need to feel as if it’s okay for me to miss him, because I do. Everyday.

I’m angry at the system that failed him. I’m angry at the people that couldn’t keep him alive. I’m angry that I’m from a small town and it took so long to get him to the hospital. I’m angry that funerals cost so much, and that newspapers make a profit off of grief. I’m angry that I went so long without talking to him.

Years ago, my Papa started the tradition of planting a tree for every family member. As soon as someone entered the family to stay, a tree was planted that spring for them. My Papa is the only one who can tell you whose tree is whose, but we all know we have one. I don’t want to forget him. I’m scared that one day I’ll wake up and won’t be able to remember his smile, just like we’ve forgotten whose tree is whose.
Grieving isn’t a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of, it’s part of the human experience.

By Meaghan Robidoux
Staff Writer

The stresses of moving and being almost completely on your own for the first time can be daunting. I get it.

I am a Biochem major here currently trying to complete my first semester of college. Not only am I balancing the demanding curriculum, but I am also a student-athlete on the cross-country team. I have been struggling with being sick all semester. I have heard that many incoming first-years get what is called “the freshman plague.” I also sprained my ankle towards the end of my cross country season. I have gotten almost every form of cold imaginable as well as bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection.

Recently I have had to take leave from school because I was having vision changes. My vision became blurry and I suddenly couldn’t see very well. Right now I am in the middle of a diagnosis and the uncertainty is hard to cope with. Doctors took my symptoms very seriously. Numerous tests were run and rerun to double-check everything. And they still have not figured it out. There are three possible diagnoses. The first option is a virus that started attacking my retinas, which only takes a few months to heal. The second option was vitelliform macular dystrophy, genetic eye disease that causes progressive vision loss and has no treatment. The last and final option is treatable but not something you want to hear, cancer. The stress and worrying was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I knew I had to try and look at the positives because there was no way I would be able to finish the semester if I didn’t.

With that said I’m going to give you a few tips on how to manage the
stresses of being an incoming first-year from what I have learned. Whether that’s trying to get through a tough time, balancing academics, missing home or anything else that may be going on.

One, don’t be so willing to judge someone you don’t know. Everyone has a different story. Whenever I am going through a rough time I try and think of the things that I am grateful for: my friends, my family, my incredibly supportive team- the list goes on. Staying positive in a troublesome or stressful time may seem impossible, but thinking of one positive thing no matter how big or small makes a difference.

It’s okay to not be okay.

Two, it’s okay not to be okay. I know I’m not alone. You can’t just be positive all the time, but you also NEED to take care of yourself. Take time to do something that you like for once. Listen to some music or take a well-deserved nap. Something that I find helpful is running and I’m thinking of trying yoga. You need to be able to have a place where you can go and just be happy or sad. It’s okay not to be okay because life isn’t always fair, and life isn’t always what it seems. Lean on your friends and don’t be afraid to communicate how you are really feeling. Bottling things up can be difficult. Take a deep breath and breathe.

My third and last piece of advice is important, so pay attention. When you are going through stuff in your personal life that is affecting your academics, reach out to your professors. They want to see you succeed and will work with you. I had to take about a week and a half off due to medical reasons and all my professors were sympathetic and were willing to work with me. Just explain to them what you are comfortable telling them and go from there.

Not only are you stronger than you think, but you can get through the toughest of times.

Finding something positive in any scenario may be an arduous task at times, but not impossible. You may not think that a simple change in mindset can make a difference, but you would be surprised.

Your mindset has to be paired with you willing to think of yourself first. It isn’t selfish if it’s what you need to be the best version of yourself. You can’t help others if you aren’t well yourself. We as a human race are resilient creatures that are made up of positivity and self-care. Take time to relax and breathe or cry. Believe in yourself. Good luck with your studies and stay strong.

Meg Robidoux’22 is a student who has had a rough start to her first year in college. She hopes that sharing what she has learned from her experiences helps other students.

By Lorelei Poch
Environment Editor

It wasn’t long ago when I used plastic bags to carry my products out of Target and Ziploc bags to carry snacks. I still purchase products that are shipped from across the country or world. Three months ago I bought a bath mat off of Amazon shipped in excessive packaging over wasteful, long-distance transportation. When I study abroad I will fly via commercial airlines. But now I am committed to contributing less and knowing more.

People say they care about the environment. The integrity of our earth. They worry about dangers and ambiguity in the future. They call themselves environmentalists and activists. Yet they throw aluminum cans in the trash dumpster, don’t research how to dispose of waste properly, and continue to purchase single-use products made with no intent of reuse or re-purposing.

I’m not the president of any club. I am no environmental studies major or minor. I am no hippie who showers once a week and drives an electric car, though I wish I did. I am a junior at St. Michael’s College, frustrated and disturbed by the lack of genuine activism in our generation and apathy toward saving our damn planet. Earlier this semester I attended a tour of the Materials Recovery Facility in Williston. Before this, I knew little
about what belongs in our blue bins and what to avoid because it can never be reused or recycled. I learned what to throw away and what to refrain from buying at all costs. But only together can we make a considerable impact and fight for our future. If you worry about what the next 10 years will look like, you need to be active in local legislature and push for change NOW, not later. Being an activist doesn’t mean you have to get
up every weekend at 7 a.m. to hold a sign downtown. There are students already banded together, motivated for change, whom you can join to stimulate progress.

On Sun. Nov. 17, I joined 170 other students, from middle school to grad school, at the Vermont State House in Montpelier to represent 44 delegations (schools) and participate in mock local legislature to encourage the government to act now on the global climate crisis. We voted unanimously to pass the Young Vermont United Climate Declaration which included the encouragement of state education on how to protect our earth, the conservation of natural areas and protection against erosion, reduction of transportation emissions, and advocacy for and support of local farmers implementing sustainable practices.

Join us on Fri. Jan. 10 in the Vermont State House to deliver a signed Climate Declaration to Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, who will decide whether or not to pass the bill created by Vermont youth. Your presence will show our elected leader that youth care and will fight for our future.

If Greta Thunberg can be on a boat for 15 days to avoid the emissions of greenhouse gases from one commercial airplane, we can learn what not to buy, how to properly dispose of what we purchase, and easy ways to reduce waste and emissions. No one is perfect, but it is our job to act NOW on the global climate crisis and do everything that we can to contribute less to climate change.

Don’t be a wimp. Do the RIGHT thing; educate yourself and reduce your carbon footprint now.

By Haeleigh Lange
Staff Writer

As the International Festival filled Tarrant Recreation Center with the smells from the kitchens of different countries, people looked up curiously at flags from around the world as they walked by. Drummers danced around, pounding on their instruments and singing along as the music beat throughout the room.

As the nine women in the K-pop group moved together, laughing with one another, and dancing in sync with the music, clapping and shouting from students could be heard throughout the room. Dressed in baggy cargo pants, crop tops, and sneakers, they slid and wove between each other, quickly going in and out of formations, as they glided and jumped with the high energy music.

Korean pop, “K-pop”, has exploded throughout the world in recent years, making its way to America and onto St. Michael’s campus. Due to K-pop becoming popular, students from abroad and American students use it as a way to connect with one another. “I’m from Japan and K-pop is a thing in Japan and people listen to K-pop regularly,” said Momoka Okamura, Vice President of Diversity Coalition. “I am really shy and get frightened on the stage and I wanted to do something really challenging for myself.”

According to The New Yorker, the Korean pop genre of music started getting popularized in America around six years ago when the song “Gangnam Style” hit the billboard charts.

“We started practicing two months beforehand, twice or three times a week,” Okamura said. “We are comfortable talking with each other and if there is something that needs to be fixed, we can talk with each other and help each other.”

“It used to be just my favorite songs and my interest but now I could connect with many people. K-pop is a kind of communication tool for me,” Haruka Miyajima, an international student from Japan said.

This year, being able to practice more and being as close as they are made the performances that much better, said Carolina “Lia” Christ ‘21, “I feel like last year was kind of a mess, we didn’t really know what we were doing and this year we kind of learned from the mistakes we made.”

By Meg Friel
Executive Editor

I was sent to Catholic school from the age of kindergarten. My Irish Catholic father and Italian Catholic mother had already baptized my sister and me, and figured that the slap of a nun’s ruler or soap in the mouth that they experienced as kids in Catholic school would only traumatize us enough to instill morals that children in the public schools weren’t so lucky to receive.

Most of the morals I was taught in school came from the 0-60 method of using hell as a scapegoat for all means of discipline. While we memorized the golden rule and recited our 10 Hail Marys in cult-like fashion, we harbored an overwhelming sense of dread we would commit a sin. I would start to feel the back of my neck grow hot after taking a paper clip off of my teacher’s desk without asking, silently praying that somehow God would forgive this seventh commandment slip-up.

Small instances like this started to creep up on me until eventually I found it difficult to sleep. I dwelled over what I could possibly be sent to hell for, pausing for a second to hope that Jesus would consider “crap” as the gray category of curse words. This came to a peak in the sixth grade when the principal locked us in a room, surrounded by pictures of Jesus crying, Jesus bleeding, Jesus nailed to the cross and what I swore was a thought bubble that said, “Megan, why did you do this to me?”

There, the principal lectured us on the agony we put Jesus through because Zach couldn’t resist throwing a rock at the stop sign on the walk to gym class. From then on, our every mistake would be documented and filed away until the weekly meeting.

My parents switched me to public school, morals be damned.

Things lightened up and eventually, in the midst of my teenage rebellion, I made the executive decision to no longer believe in hell. Nevertheless, I continued to carry the baggage that took shape in the form of an angel and devil on my shoulders. This turned into a mild case of anxiety that has followed me since my childhood. I think the need to overcompensate for Adam and Eve’s original sin left me an overachieving yes woman, still worried over every mistake I’d make. Today, it’s still difficult for me to brush off the small things my friends seemed to have no trouble forgetting, like putting a “20% off” sticker on a pair of shoes not on sale. Cut to me crying in bed, praying for forgiveness. My Catholic guilt is a relentless companion that, although tamed, still always resurrects.

I’m not writing this op-ed in hopes of taking down the Catholic church. I believe religion is a sacred thing for those who abide by it, and I won’t say that my relationship with God is abolished. I’m grateful for my experience with the Edmundites on campus, who’ve been nothing but welcoming to me, and given me a sense of community.

I question, however, my inability to separate church and state of mind. I see this as a common trend in the world of former practicing Catholics, as my aunts, uncles, and parents relived their days in Catholic schools, uncomfortably laughing while they make jokes of hearing the approaching nun’s rosary beads in their nightmares despite not having gone to church in years.

Although I’m not sure I’ll ever fully rid myself of Catholic guilt, or even that I want to, as sometimes I secretly think that maybe it is the cause of all my (sometimes tiresome) morals, I do know this: There is no way in hell I’m sending my kids to a Catholic elementary school.

By Matthew Pramas
Managing Editor

I’m stuck in loves gone past.

This couch is warm and so are the dim outdoor lights that dangle above my head and face the collection of records and the trinkets and trash we never got around to throwing out.

It’s finals season and I’m caught with stress and inaction, stuck thinking about the past instead of the work due too soon.

But all these obligations, all this love around me is in the present. Occasionally, I move around the room, around to the future and worry about feeling stress and discontent.

As students, we’re faced with the challenge of finding a healthy balance between our personal desires and our obligations at school.

Director of Student Life Outreach and Assessment Catherine Welch calls balance the essence of life.

“I think it’s something that you start to learn how to do in college and it’s lifelong,” said Welch.

As the advisor for the campus organization Active Minds, a national non-profit seeking to raise awareness about mental health for college students, Welch said that figuring out a healthy balance evolves over time.

“I really do believe that we’re all life-long learners and so what works for us at one point in life, may not work for us five or 10 years from now.” She said she stretched herself thin in college, studying tirelessly and getting involved in many things. It wasn’t until later that she discovered running and the equilibrium it brought her.

As fall semester ends, it’s important we try to create and maintain a healthy balance between our academic obligations and cultivating relationships.

I’m in a cycle of self-sabotaging behavior as I sit here, on this couch, looking forward and listening to nothing but the sound of refrigerators. I’m teetering. Unbalanced. Like most of my friends.

Mark Lubkowitz, the chair of the biology department, said personal and professional obligations are cyclical. “There are times where I have heavy obligations [at work] and there are times I have heavy obligations at home” Lubkowitz said. “In the perfect world, they’re asynchronous.” But he said that doesn’t always happen.

He tries to be 100-percent attentive with whomever he’s dealing with, whether his students or his children. A universal balance can’t be set for everyone, said L.J. Nieulant, a Career and Leadership Coach at Burlington’s FromWithin Coaching during a conversation in Durick Library. It comes down to personal choice derived from honest self-reflection.

“Everybody is differently wired. The amount of what you can handle in whatever balance there is, or non balance, that’s where everyone is different,” Nieulant said. “It also depends on the choices you make,” he said.
Nieulant said he works with a broader age range and with more men than in the past. “There’s a whole shift going on, it seems like [people are] taking more responsibility for their life sooner and younger,” he said. But it’s still hard to create balance.

I’ve struggled with this, too. I’ve wasted time that I wonder could have been better spent. The silence in this room with all the quiet objects and soft humming of refrigerators and the smell of old dust comes as a brief solace on a peaceful night. I look up to the lights hanging above my head and picture a spherical and clear sky with no obligations, no hopes or wishes, just a life. But I hope it never does.

By Erin Hammer
Staff Writer

Photo by Declan Donahue
Emily Lussier ‘22 wearing the Lussier legging. Included are Colomont Inc. CBD products.

Struggling to maintain a polished and appealing account can lead to the downfall of the sponsor, said Emily Lussier ‘22. Sponsored by LAKI Sportswear and CBD company Colomont Inc. sponsorship does not affect her school work life as much as it does her free time, with having to perfect and strategically plan out what to post on her social media she said. LAKI is a sportswear brand for both men and women. Earning a commission for each product bought, using her promotional code, on top of additional discounts has helped her to expand her interest in the brand. This principle applies to Colomont Inc., Vermont CBD company, as a result of Lussier using many of their CBD products such as a muscle cream to help with her joints.

Photo by Hannah Bishop
Alexyah Dethyongsa ‘22, giving out free TikTok printed items to students on
campus.

“I am awkwardly known as TikTok girl on campus,” said Alexyah Dethyongsa ‘22, a representative for the app TikTok. “I was eating in Alliot one time and a boy I’ve literally never seen before goes, that’s the TikTok girl, she gave me a cup one day.”

Dethyongsa is one of many student sponsors on campus who uses social media and other platforms to promote products. They either major in a topic that relates to the business, personally use of the products, or want exposure in the world of marketing.

A year ago Dethyongsa’s friend, employed by Fuse Marketing Company, mentioned that Saint Michael’s did not have any TikTok representatives. Dethyongsa mentioned that she chose TikTok “because it’s something that my little sister does, and I know it’s funny,” adding that she makes TikToks frequently with friends. She went through a formal interview where she learned her responsibilities. Being a sponsored representative now, she has used a sprayable chalk on the sidewalks, bought coffee for students, helped out at the late-night grill, and even tailgated at a soccer game. Dethyongsa does get paid in addition to the free merchandise she receives. The challenging parts of her sponsorship included planning out events with logistics and the time consumption from contacting businesses in order to schedule events.

Photo by Declan Donahue
Matt Demmler ‘21 sporting his brand RedCon1. A supplement company that makes protein powder, pre-workout, etc.

While becoming involved in the world of fitness, Matt Demmler ‘21, said that for a few years now he has been working for GNC, a nutrition health store. “This led me into the world of supplements,” said Demmler, resulting in him becoming a RedCon1 ambassador. Supplements caught his attention because of the access it grants to those interested in obtaining their fitness goals. Demmler said that the fitness industry has become “saturated” and many fitness influencers do not know much about what they are promoting. Instead they do it for the money and free products, not truly believing in the product. Ethical choices are not made all the time. “What is best for other people,” said Demmler should always be considered. “The perks are helping other people and the discounts are also nice!”

Photo by Declan Donahue
Alexis Comeau’21, holding one of the yerba mate Guayakí drinks.

As an Environmental Studies major, Alexis Comeau ‘21, was drawn towards Guayakí because of the way they follow through on their missions. “One of the big commitments that they have is environmental stewardship,” said Comeau. When a brand lies about following this mission it is called “greenwashing”. She said they grow their own yerba mate, a plant related to holly. Her experience drinking yerba mate she said,“ gives you a euphoric feeling” along with “giving you the mindset of conquering the day.” Guayakí is, committed to being net-zero carbon, meaning there is no carbon footprint left behind during the transportation and creation of their products. As a member of the leadership committee of Green-up “it allows me to bring in an alternative way to bring in people to meetings,” said Comeau. “If a student resonates with a specific company then they should reach out so they can represent and receive the perks of being an ambassador.”

What does the school have to say?

Saint Michael’s is not aware of many of these student’s involvement with companies. “I do know that student athletes can not accept sponsorships due to NCAA rules,” said Kerri Leach, Director of Student Activities/Assistant Dean of Students. While the sponsorship may not be school-affiliated, an effort can be made to work with on-campus activities. Following this half of the sponsors are not paid by their companies rather they are shipped free products to use themselves and give to others. Many products include clothing with the brand’s logo printed on and the specialized products themselves.

By Joshua Marshall

When Senator Bernie Sanders said in November’s Democratic debate that “Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally,” he was echoing the sentiment of many Americans. According to a Gallup poll from February, only 29 percent of Americans had a favorable or mostly favorable view of Saudi Arabia (compared to 69 percent for our other key ally in the Middle East, Israel). 67 percent had an unfavorable view, a number that has been steadily growing over recent years. Egregious human rights violations, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and a rejection of liberal democratic values have all alienated the Kingdom from the increasingly self-conscious and humanitarian minded American public. 

More than this, it is the carnage of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen that has damaged its image and imperiled its alliance with the United States. Stories of school buses being destroyed, food shortages, and images of the mounting human costs of this protracted war have dampened Americans’ willingness to support the Saudi regime. In early 2019, with the conflict dragging on, Congress passed a resolution seeking to prevent the sale of $8.1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia. Senators and representatives from both parties spoke about the horror in Yemen and the need to end American support for the Saudi led war there. 

All of this, however, ignores a simple, if uncomfortable truth; Saudi victory in Yemen is in the interest of the United States. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies have sought to dislodge the Houthi movement, which holds power through much of northwestern Yemen. The Houthi, funded by Iran and North Korea, is a group in a broad proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia that has raged since 1979. As Iran seeks to assert itself as the predominant power in the Middle East, it has funded numerous groups in hopes of destabilizing key U.S. allies in the region. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthi, among others, have received funding and support from Iran, which hopes to benefit from the chaos it sows. 

Whether we attribute Iran’s actions to the aggressive pursuit of further power or see it as the crusade of a fanatical regime bent on spreading its faith, the end result is the same; Iran has devoted blood and treasure to a policy designed to systematically undermine the influence and power of its existing regional competitors. Iran wants to establish itself as the preeminent power in the Middle East and has pursued this goal by starting and prolonging conflicts across the region. 

It is plainly in the interest of the United States that Saudi Arabia succeeded in this front of the proxy war. We can, and should, seek to restrain the regime in its attacks on civilian targets. Such attacks are not justified and do far more harm to Saudi Arabia than the Houthi. The Trump administration’s deferential attitude towards Saudi Arabia is unwise, but so too are the rash calls to cut the Kingdom loose in a region that is in dire need of stability. We must prepare ourselves to face a growing Iran, and the key to that will be to ensure a strong and cooperative Saudi Arabia that can stand as a bulwark against Iran. 

Even if one is opposed to the fight against the Houthi, it remains within the interest of the United States to build close relationships with the Saudi government. Assuming the worst-case scenario comes to pass, in which Iran has succeeded in developing a nuclear weapon and has the capability to use them, the natural Saudi reaction will be to follow suit. Before long, a region full of wealthy and technologically developed states with few domestic impediments pursuing their own security policies will be developing weapons of mass destruction in the most dangerous arms race imaginable. The only thing that could stop it is the security guarantee of the United States. We cannot afford a fearful Saudi Arabia that acts like Erdogan’s Turkey, alienated from the west and resentful for a string of perceived betrayals.

Our best bet rests with a strong Saudi Arabia willing to work with us in the interests of defeating our common enemy.

Joshua Marshall is a first-year International Relations minor from Hillsborough, NH with an interest in foreign and domestic politics. He is the senator for the class of 2023. 

By Doug Babcock 

Recently, St. Michael’s College Public Safety organized a Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) class that was free and open to all women on campus, students and employees. This national program has been taught in schools, towns and businesses across the country for many years, empowering women with tools and training to protect themselves. St. Michael’s has five certified instructors and works with area police departments to bring this training to campus and others in the area. We offer this class every semester.

Recently we found a picture of one of our flyers with a note on the back, which said, “Why don’t we have consent classes for men??” This is an important question, and I’d like to address this question and the mindset around it directly.

The college conducts a number of trainings, outreach and engagement activities around consent, healthy relationships, respect, positive decision making and more. The class we were offering is just one of many opportunities to learn about various aspects of the issues of sexual assault, as well as other misconduct and negative social attitudes and norms.

Moreover, Public Safety supports the college mission of educating students not for life at Saint Mike’s, but for life. The skills we teach, like the R.A.D. program and the Active Threat Response, are not about what happens here. While these and other bad things are possible here, there is a greater likelihood that somewhere in students’ lives after St. Michael’s that they may encounter a dangerous situation. We want to give you tools for life. 

To be frank, the sexual assault reports we receive on-campus rarely involve the type of attack and violence that the R.A.D. class is designed to teach about. However, the more tools, the more mindset training, and the more confidence a person has in their life, the greater the chance they have to reduce or prevent harm in a variety of circumstances. 

Unfortunately, we had to cancel this semester’s R.A.D. class due to a lack of interest. Additionally, we heard that the comment on the flyer was also posted online. My hope is that the comments and conversation did not deter people who may have otherwise been interested in taking the class and missing out on a skill that may have helped them later in life.

If you have any questions about this training program, other efforts around sexual assault awareness, prevention or response, or other safety programs on campus, I ask and encourage people to ask us directly. The Student Life Office, the Title IX office and Public Safety all exist to help our students learn and navigate both life here at St. Michael’s and to grow and succeed safely in the world now and after you graduate.

-Your Partners in Public Safety. 

Doug Babcock is the Director of Public Safety at Saint Michael’s College.