Author: pattin1

Faculty in Focus: Professor Lisa Moore

New professor Lisa Moore is already making waves in the social work department.

Moore currently teaches courses on human sexuality, so-ial work and social welfare. Her research focuses heavily on areas that apply to teaching social work. She also focuses on research methods that tie together the study of social work and real life applications, inspired by her private practice experience. She is especially interested in social work topics that affect families of color.

Before coming to St. Olaf, Moore had her fair share of experiences in education and social work. After obtaining a B.A. at Davidson College, she went on to earn her master’s degree at Smith College and her doctoral degree at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Afterwards, she held various positions in higher education, the most prominent being Assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs at Reed College in Oregon and Clinical Assistant Pro- fessor at the Boston University School of Social Work. While teaching at Boston, she also worked as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, enabling her to establish her own private practice where she provided individual, couples and family therapy, with a special focus on families, women of color and LGBT populations.

Aside from her classes, Moore is currently writing papers on the intersection of race and psychoanalysis. In addition, she is developing a new research project that examines how community activism functions as a social and emotional support for activists. Next summer, she plans to conduct research that focuses on creating resources for pregnant African-American mothers.

Moore believes that what she is doing now will enable her to find out how the social work major can prepare students for various leadership positions in social work fields. In the meantime, she hopes that students will show interest in issues of social work and social policy as well as the history and structures that have shaped efforts to support people who are vulnerable in society.

“I hope that they will be passionate about these things. But, I also expect them to be very self-reflective and take the time to be aware of what their role is in society and the positions that they hold with regard to their identity, status or capaci- ties,” Moore said.

In her opinion, social work students have to be hopeful but also patient, since changing a system can take longer than expected.

“I think a lot of people go into social work with the hope that they can really change the way systems affect the people. But once you’re actually doing the work, you will find that it takes a lot of time and effort to understand the whole bureaucracy,” she said.

Moore has been very impressed with the genuine hospitality shown to her by everyone at St. Olaf, a stark contrast to the cynical atmosphere she faced for over six years at Boston.

She says that St. Olaf is a nice change of scenery from teaching graduate students at Boston.

“St. Olaf students are still much more hopeful and open to learning new things. They are willing to take the risks at class, in terms of admitting when they don’t know something,” she said.

Further, she likes that Oles are very forthcoming to new faculty members who are trying to understand how things work on the Hill by providing them with a lot of positive input.

“Eventually, I hope that I can figure out where my place is in St. Olaf, in terms of serving all the students well,” Moore said. We bid you welcome, Prof. Moore! And we expect nothing less than the best from you on the Hill. Um Ya Ya!

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Faculty in Focus

If you think that the only new faces on the Hill this year are first-years, then you are mistaken. Aside from the students, there are new faces among the faculty members as well. One is Professor Caleb Boteilho, a Japanese language instructor in the Asian Studies Department.

Replacing Professor William Bridges IV, who left St. Olaf this summer, Boteilho has much experience in linguistics and Japanese. Earning his B.A. at Western Washington University, he obtained his language certificate and master’s degree at Kyoto Tachibana University before embarking on various teaching and translating endeavors throughout Japan for nearly a decade. Notably, he volunteered to help with the recovery process after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in the cities of Sendai and Ishinomaki.

Boteilho was hired as Bridges’ replacement in April and has been on campus since August. He currently teaches Beginner Japanese (111 and 112) along with several other Asian Studies courses.

Aside from teaching classes, Boteilho is currently doing research on metalinguistic knowledge in learning foreign language. He is working to apply linguistics knowledge to theoretical work with the intent of helping facilitate the language learning process, specifically for students who are studying Japanese in the U.S. In addition, he is writing a book about etymology and discourse.

Teaching mostly first-year students, Boteilho admitted that he has had “hits and misses” since he began teaching, but he feels positive about his first few weeks here.

“Most of the students are definitely passionate about wanting to learn and doing the work that’s needed. They even come by during office hours, too,” he said.

In Boteilho’s view, teaching a first-semester language class with first-year students can bring new and different perspectives. For one thing, it is necessary for students to understand that they are learning at a college level now. Language is no longer an extracurricular class as it may have been in high school, so many first-years struggle with the transition to daily homework in another language like Japanese.

Furthermore, when one does not have to use the language one is studying to sustain one’s livelihood, the passion to study that language is further diminished.

“If you want to take what you have further up, you have to do the extra work yourself too. Classes are there to help facilitate the process and to point you into the directions that can teach you to think critically and analytically about things,” Boteilho said.

Apart from helping firstyears adjust to the new learning pace, Boteilho’s main goal is to instruct his students using his linguistic approach to teaching. His hope is that the students can under- stand both the small syntax and morphology. Then, it will be easier for them to create the Japanese language themselves, the way they did when they learned English.

“As long as the students can take this approach to understand new vocabularies and grammars, it will be easy for them to make sense of the growing complications in learning the language,” Boteilho said.

The professor has only been on the Hill for about a month, but his impression of Oles so far could not be more positive.

“Everybody has been really awesome and amazingly friendly. The atmosphere here is really welcoming,” he said.

Welcome to St. Olaf, Professor Boteilho. We look forward to seeing and learning new things from you here on the Hill. Um ya ya!

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Hillarys fundraising comes under scrutiny

At this year’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner, after President Obama’s remarks on Hillary Clinton’s efforts to gain funds for her 2016 Presidential Race, the president’s anger translator Luther, a character originated and played by comedian Keegan-Michael Key on the sketch show “Key and Peele,” had one thing to say: “She gonna get that money, she gonna get all the money… Khaleesi is coming to Westeros!”

Luther’s words summarized the controversy that has been brewing lately surrounding the source behind Clinton’s funding for the presidential campaign.

This controversy boiled to flash point just days before the association dinner, when HarperCollins announced their plans to publish Clinton Cash, a 186-page book investigating the donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities, written by author and political correspondent Peter Schweizer. Several news agencies, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News, were given advanced copies of the book under the agreement that they will pursue in greater detail the stories covered within the pages. Following the announcement of Clinton Cash, a huge debacle began throughout the news media centered on whether or not the book revealed a black chapter of yet another Clinton or was just a normal part of the political conduct, blown out of proportion by Schweizer.

According to The New York Times and the news agencies that received the book in advance, there are various examples of Hillary working in cahoots with different organizations in exchange for massive donations. One such example touched on a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation’s development projects in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The book also detailed the more than one million dollars in payments to Ms. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.

But what does all this suggest? When we take a look across the aisle, money is still an incredibly important asset and resource for Republican campaigns. The Guardian pointed out the extensive ties Jeb Bush and the Bush family have to the energy industry, with former president George H.W. Bush having made his fortune in oil wildcatting. These same connections that funded former president George W. Bush’s personal failed energy companies now extend to Jeb Bush as well. The New York Times also reported that Ted Cruz gained the financial backing of Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of hedge fund magnate, Renaissance Technologies. According to Politico, Rand Paul has turned to the billionaire venture capitalists of Silicon Valley, such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Napster’s billionaire co-founder Sean Parker, in his own attempts to garner campaign funds.

Gathering funding for a political race is not an action that is technically illegal, and has been done by politicians for years. Furthermore, as reported by Newsweek, Schweizer did not attempt to prove any laws were broken in Clinton Cash. In fact, he practically begins the book by hedging his accusations: “I realize how shocking these allegations may appear. Are these activities illegal? That’s not for me to say. I’m not a lawyer.”

Will Clinton Cash cause some degree of backlash towards Clinton and her campaign? Most likely, yes. However, although the book is aimed at just the Clinton family, the information presented sheds light on the common practice employed by politicians, regardless of party, during campaigns: giving companies and donors what they need in return for funding. Because of its discussion on this practice, Clinton Cash is poised to become a hard-hitting investigative piece on the unsavory ways politicians receive money. But as Taylor Wafforf wrote in Newsweek, “throwing up a bunch of dots and not connecting them isn’t great judgement either.”

As such, it will be up to the readers to choose whether to take the book as a surface level attack at the Clintons, or as a piece of solid investigative journalism.

Sam Pattinasarane ’18 is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in political science and Asian studies.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Professor critiques new genre

Associate Professor of Sociology Ibtesam Al-Atiyat is currently working on a research paper analyzing “native informant” writings. A native informant is a person of a particular race, culture, ethnicity or religion that is perceived as an expert on said group due primarily to the fact that he or she belongs to it. Planned to be published in the academic journal Critical Sociology, Al-Atiyat’s research focuses on a new genre of native informant writings about Muslim women that has emerged in Western markets. This genre is generally written by Muslim women themselves, many of whom have fled to the West from oppression in their native countries. Their stories are retold as memoirs.

Despite the claim that the purpose of these stories is to expose the lives of women oppressed by extremist Islam and Islam-related cultures, many of the memoirs are written primarily for Western audiences in Western languages. In turn, the average Western reader consumes the story without sufficient context and understands it as a true representation of the entire Muslim world. Though there are differences within the stories, they depict the same stereotypical images of secluded, veiled and oppressed Muslim women.

“[Due to these stories]women in the Muslim world can only be explained by one variable: Islam,” Al-Atiyat said. “You eventually can’t look at the historical background, or colonialism, economy and politics. The only variable needed is Islam.”

Al-Atiyat also noted that writing about Islam and Muslim women has become a huge money-making industry in the West. Many native informants taking refuge in the West, particularly in the U.S., are now seeking and receiving fame and money for their stories.

“If you want to become famous and be interviewed at CNN and be a celebrity in the West, the one thing you can do is criticize Islam and show connections between Islam and terrorism. And this is how many of those women approach the discourse,” Al-Atiyat said.

The rise in popularity of these novels has generated problems. Al-Atiyat explains that since Muslim women are portrayed in a uniform and homogenized manner throughout the literature, the diversity of stories and conditions of women in the Muslim world is lost. Furthermore, this discourse presents the lives of Muslim women in an abrasive, gloomy and hopeless manner, as if every Muslim woman is suffering from brutal oppression under the patriarchy. However, many Muslim women, including Al-Atiyat herself, serve as counterexamples to this stereotype.

“I am a Muslim woman. I do not necessarily cover my head, not that I have anything against [that choice]. I hold a Ph.D. I am an independent woman. I have a career. My religion did not really limit my life choices,” Al-Atiyat said.

She argues that native informant memoirs generalize the lives of Muslim women by offering an individual face and story as representative of an entire culture. This serves as the catalyst for Al-Atiyat’s criticism.

To prevent oneself from being convinced by this way of understanding, according to Al-Atiyat, one must have critical perspectives that can help in distinguishing good literature from bad literature, or even good scholarship from bad scholarship.

“You have to subject every form of knowledge about women in the Middle East, and about women in Islam, through a thorough critique that should inform one’s criticism of this literature or scholarship,” Al-Atiyat said. In the end, however, the ultimate purpose of this research for Al-Atiyat is “to provide the reader with the critical framework on how to approach this genre of literature, and how to reflect on it critically without losing the sympathy with the human stories.”

Regarding how St. Olaf students should approach this genre, Al-Atiyat believes that the way in which one approaches the text is important.

“It depends on how you read and the purpose of your reading. If you’re reading [these stories] for entertainment purposes, then there is something wrong with you, reading about victimized women for entertainment. If your purpose is to learn about the lives of women, then you owe it to yourself and you owe it to those women to learn about their lives in a more complex, sophisticated and critical manner. And do not take a native informant’s story at face value. You have to critically think and reflect on it. The story might be true, but its representation might be wrong. What is happening to one woman does not necessarily mean that it’s happening to every woman.”

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TED: structure similar to evangelical sermons?

Technology, Entertainment, Design: TED. Or as most of us understand it, the series of talks that has much of the world dazzled by its ability to present speakers who can speak on various contemporary subjects and give people either a firm direction on what they should change in their habits, or an inspiration to keep their dreams alive and strive for their best.

Some people nevertheless have begun to see the talks that we all have come to know from a different perspective. Megan Hustad, an author renowned for work such as How to Be Useful and More Than Conquerors: A Memoir of Lost Arguments, wrote a New York Times article recently about how TED talks have grown to be more like a “religion,” where the program style in itself is no less manipulative than the traditional structure it tries to shift. She went on to describe how a great TED talk is reminiscent of a great sermon:

“There’s the gathering of the curious and the hungry. Then a persistent human problem is introduced, one that, as the speaker gently explains, has deeper roots and wider implications than most listeners are prepared to admit. Once everyone has been confronted with this evidence of entropy, contemplated life’s fragility and the elusiveness of inner peace, a decision is called for: Will you remain complacent, or change?”

In our own community on the Hill, we have our own version of TED Talks, the STO Talks, which were held Saturday, April 18. At a glance, the two programs are similar, since they both feature various speakers discussing the issues that surround life on the Hill or other things that they have been contemplating in their long days of studying and teaching.

And yet, there is a stark difference between the two as well. STO Talks, in a sense, have actually become a more effective tool of criticism for students and faculty, particularly for what is going on around the campus and how we have sometimes inappropriately been dealing with it. When what many of us say in class and throughout the campus is barely heard, if not heard at all, the event becomes a channel for these bitter pills to be swallowed formally by all Oles. The talks let us decide on our own if we would use this information to create a new atmosphere of progress at the college, or to simply continue to act as if everything here is okay. We have the choice to simply wish that whatever happens beyond the Hill’s borders won’t contaminate the peace and quiet that we are striving for, or to let these harsh truths dictate the way we go about our time here.

Both TED talks and STO Talks walk the line between instructiveness and “elitist demonstration.” Those giving the talks should be wary of appearing sanctimonious and should instead use the platform they have to educate others about important issues and problems both on the Hill and beyond. But the audience has a responsibility, too: rather than taking in these talks complacently as they would a church sermon, they should use the knowledge they have gained to make a difference in their community, just as the speakers try to do. These talks are great learning opportunities for all, and they should be used as such.

Sam Pattinasarane ’18 is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in political science and Asian studies.


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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote