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The Distance

Saturday, June 6, 2020 | Week Nine
The Senior Issue
Welcome to the eleventh edition of The Distance, brought to you by the Carletonian, Carleton's eldest, prettiest, and brightest student newspaper. This week, we're talking to Carls who've been involved in protests across the country. Then, we're sitting down with visiting history prof Michael Ebner about what it's like to start a new teaching position remotely; prof. Mark Hansell, who's retiring after this term; and playwright Don Zolidis '97, whose latest play 10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine is designed to be performed on Zoom. Then, read our Sports Editor's piece about what's in the balance for student-athletes at Carleton. Finally, we have a bunch of excellent Viewpoints: read about Sophia Maymudes' '20 crossword-constructing process (her crosswords have been published in the New York Times, did you know?)—and try your hand at a crossword! Then, we have a series of reflections from the Class of 2020. 

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for reading this newsletter each week. It's been a confusing and difficult spring. It has meant a lot to us that you have continued to read our coverage, both serious and lighthearted. Students: if you want to get involved with the Carletonian, it's never too late (reach out to
kwaits@carleton.edu & gilbertsonk@carleton.edu)! Parents, alums, profs and everyone else who subscribes: Thanks for staying engaged. We're proud of the work we do and grateful that, despite the hardship this term has brought, the shift online has provided an opportunity to expand our reach. This is the last you'll hear from us for a while, but don't be surprised if you see some unprecedented summer coverage this year.

Now more than ever, it's important that all of us find sources of information we can trust, and that we use what we read as jumping-off points for conversations with those around us. At the Carletonian, we hope we've provided some of that this term—information about what's going on in various realms of the Carleton community, ideas to wrestle with, things to talk about and connect over.
Until later,
Sam and Katy, Editors-in-Chief

 
P.S. [From Sam]: Though I am in denial about it, Katy is a graduating senior, and this is her last issue as editor of the newspaper. Please join me in congratulating Katy on her years of commitment to the newspaper, her crucial stories, and her wonderful leadership!
 
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This past week

First, here's the latest in News and Features:
 
“I'm not someone who likes to sit down”: Carls across the country share experience participating in current protests
Ellie Zimmerman, Zoe Pharo and Sam Kwait-Spitzer

In response to the murder of George Floyd, there have been continuous protests in Minneapolis for the past two weeks. The National Guard was called in, officers have used tear gas and fired rubber bullets, Mayor Jacob Frey imposed an 8pm curfew, many local businesses on Lake Street were looted or burned, and the first memorial service was held for George Floyd. In support of the protests, the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis School Board have cut ties with the Minneapolis city police and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists who were targeted and attacked by police.   

Major demonstrations are now happening across the country—in Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, and numerous other cities. The Carletonian spoke with seven Carleton students in different places who have joined or supported the protests. Hear from them about what it has been like. 
 
Carls and Coronavirus: How the NCAA’s response to COVID-19 could affect Carleton athletes' plans
Jacob Smith

The COVID-19 pandemic has not left any American community, demographic, region, or enterprise unaffected. As a whole, American culture has been put on pause: music festivals and concerts have been postponed, education has gone virtual, and many religious services have been suspended. Though certainly not the most societally consequential, perhaps no cultural component has ground to a halt quite like sport. Given that sporting events involve both close personal contact and tend to result in mass gatherings, nearly all formal competitive athletic events have been suspended since early March, affecting millions of athletes and their families. 
 
Retiring prof. Mark Hansell looks back on 31 years at Carleton
Helena Lee and Charlotte Nahley

After 31 years of teaching Chinese at Carleton, Professor Mark Hansell (Mai Lao Shi) is retiring this Spring. Throughout his time at Carleton, Hansell has taught 100-level Chinese classes, in addition to several Chinese language and linguistics courses. Hansell will now spend the next two terms on sabbatical, during which he plans on researching writing systems and moving to Hawaii. Former students Charlotte Nahley ’23 and Helena Lee ’23 sat down (virtually) with him to discuss a range of topics, from Hansell’s beginnings as a college student excited about language, to his favorite TV shows and Carleton memories (and most importantly, the character he identifies with most from the Chinese textbooks).
 
“It felt imaginary”: Visiting professor Michael Ebner teaches first Carleton term via Zoom
Ryan Flanagan

Even in pre-COVID times, completing a visiting professorship was a nerve-racking endeavor. Suddenly, a visiting professor finds himself on an unfamiliar campus bombarded with new students, faculty members and a new campus culture. Nevertheless, the experience has its perks, especially at Carleton: new academic connections, the opportunity to share scholarly opinions with and gain fresh perspectives from the Carleton faculty, as well as the chance to become acquainted with Northfield. 

This spring, Michael Ebner, Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and a scholar of Italian Fascism, taught two courses as Carleton’s Benedict Visiting Professor. Except there was a twist: he couldn’t technically “visit.” 
 
Next, a Q&A with playwright Don Zolidis '97 about his latest work, 10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine: 
Theatre in a pandemic: Q&A with Don Zolidis ’97
Colleen Scallen

In a world turned upside down by a global pandemic, how does one even begin to fathom creating theatre works—an inherently physical, social, and in-person art form that is predicated on the unique and powerful relationship between actor and audience? As a Class of 2020 Theatre Arts Major, I am asking myself these questions and more each and every day. How can I be an artist when my craft is on pseudo-pause? How can we continue to create art in this new e-world, transferring our skills, processes, and crafts online? Don Zolidis ’97, a former Carleton English major who gave a Convocation talk this past February, has some thoughts on the matter. Zolidis has written over one hundred plays, and his latest, 10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine, is designed to be performed over Zoom.
"I'm hopefully laughing when I'm writing a comedy. At the end of March, it was so hard to focus on anything. Your brain is just reacting to all of this terrible news coming hour by hour, and I needed a little bit of solace to get away from that. Writing has always been that for me."
Now for the senior section:
Senior Reflections
An impostor no longer
Ross Matican, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

I didn’t love my time at Carleton, but I love Carleton. Let me explain. 

It took a while for me to get my bearings at Carleton, and an even longer time for me to accept that there’s no need to either love or hate our school—the gray area in between is just fine. If anything, I’m deeply grateful that I had the opportunity to study at a college that cherishes learning for learning’s sake above all else.

I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else. Being a Carl is core to my identity. But it took me a long time to reach this point. 
 
"We’re here for the world-class education, right? Stop complaining and toughen up. That’s the impression I often felt when I tried to broach the topic with peers and professors alike."
The art of being tired
Sarah Lieberman, Editor-in-Chief Emerita

I’m tired.

After four years at Carleton, I thought I’d have a more profound lede. But there it is, and here I am: exhausted after my last day of undergraduate classes. 

I’ll bet that every Carleton student has experienced a similar feeling of exhaustion. Our classes move at lightning speed and our terms go by in a flash. Students operate in a near constant state of sleep deprivation and over-caffeination. The whole thing is exhilarating, but exhausting. And then, just like that, the term is over.
 
The reckoning: reflections from former CSA president
Anesu Masakura

After the Carletonian asked me to write a reflection piece for the paper’s last issue of the term a week ago, I started sifting through four years of memories to pick that one defining experience which would better encapsulate my time at Carleton. I probably wrote and discarded three different pieces about my stint as CSA President, my off-campus studies in Europe, and my time working at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement. But since then, a lot has changed. The world’s shared conscience has been gripped by the brutal murder of yet another Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer. 

I find myself bereft of words to articulate my anguish and anger over the casual dehumanization of George Floyd. I cannot shake off the image of Derek Chauvin—the white police officer in question—kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, his hands calmly in his pockets. What is even more egregious is how Chauvin’s fellow officers stood there with utter indifference as Flyod gasped for air. 
 
The year of ___: Reflections on vulnerability, memory and closure
Hiba Jama

My sophomore year at Carleton, I made a Medium post, titled “i journaled for a year and this is what i learned.” I took all the realizations I had come to in the past year, and I laid these intimate thoughts out for everyone to see as I shared a link to the post on Facebook. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between the public and the private, and how often our most personal posts on social media are still curated and carefully selected. Keeping that in mind, I uploaded direct quotes from my journal that I felt were important to share, and I tried not to think too much about how I was baring my soul on Facebook. 

By creating and sharing something like this, I also felt wonderfully free and more comfortable letting people know that it’s okay not to be okay and that we can talk about it and have this conversation in a public setting. I was ready to no longer be this closed-off person, and I loved the feeling I got from being vulnerable and an open-book to people I knew back home and at Carleton. I thought to myself, “maybe all I needed to do to grow emotionally was to leave home and start anew in Northfield, Minnesota.”

Then, I deleted the post. 
 
Which house? On friendship and belonging at Carleton
Yoni Rekem

Home Alone scared the shit out of me as a little kid. The idea that people would intentionally break into your house to cause you harm was not one that appealed to me, and for a whole year after seeing it I would always ask my mom go double check that she’d locked the doors after I’d gone to bed. And even then sometimes I would sit up in bed, afraid that someone might come in through the window, or go tiptoe downstairs to go check the doors myself.
 
"I thought it was so special that I had lived in a place where I could be so open to letting people into my life. Where I could meet people who would make me believe so strongly in the goodness of others that I’d want to break down all the barriers that separated us from one another."
We can never return to normal
August Lindgren-Ruby

There’s an old Tumblr meme that goes something like, “we’re all living in the paragraph in the history book titled Factors Leading To.” In recent months and weeks, the sentiment has grown more acute. It’s less funny now. Every senior lived the history of these four years. We watched the 2016 election results projected in Sayles; we protested the Muslim ban and family separation. Qasem Soleimani was assassinated, DACA eliminated, and Trump impeached (but not removed). America led the world in COVID-19 infections and deaths. This week, police rioted violently against mass peaceful protests of the May 25 murder of George Floyd.

Time seemed to freeze and hurtle past, by turns. The sense that we were living in crisis always grew. On March 11 of this year, at 5 p.m., I turned in my comps (a graphic memoir inflected with environmental history) in Laird. My reading group popped champagne (the cork shot high up into the stairwell), drinking from plastic glasses on the landing as the sunset lanced through the windows. It was a jubilant and fragile moment. The group dissolved. Dylan and I took the long way to Basil’s. It was really, really busy, I remember.
 
Next, more of what's on students' minds:
Viewpoint
From YSER to ERA: Sophia Maymudes '20 discusses the art of crossword construction
Sophia Maymudes

The best part about being a crossword puzzle constructor is that I’m prepared every time I have to share a fun fact about myself on the first day of a new class. It makes me seem appropriately quirky, right? However, the world of crossword construction isn’t as exclusive and scary as you might imagine—take it from someone who, two years ago, thought that only my parents would ever be interested in my puzzles.

In middle school, I started solving early-week New York Times puzzles with my mom. She’s since told me that she would let me figure out the easy clues so I could feel like I was contributing too—thanks, mom! The first puzzles I ever wrote were for my high school newspaper, and once I came to college, I published a few in the Carletonian Bald Spot. My parents were the ones who initially pushed me to submit my puzzles to the New York Times. I think they were mostly fed up with how much I’d complain if a puzzle was not to my liking—“this puzzle has the word YSER in it? Even I could have written a better puzzle than that!” So eventually, I gave it a shot.
 
If this image is too small, download as a PDF here.
Who's laughing at us?
Will Bausch

Monday, June 1, during President Trump’s leaked conference call, he told governors that the state of Minnesota had become “a laughing stock all over the world” in light of recent protests throughout Minneapolis. America acting as the worldwide butt of a joke has become a seemingly essential fact in Trump’s worldview. But who, exactly, is laughing at us? Before Trump called our governors, he sat down for a phone call with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Over the phone, Trump reportedly discussed inviting Russia to the 2020 G7 summit. Russia is not a member of the G7.

Before the age of Trump, if you had suggested that a sitting Republican president would invite Vladimir Putin to an upcoming G7 summit, you would become a laughing stock. A cornerstone of Republican foreign policy has long been the demonstration of strength in the face of Russia. However, it seems that the Republican party has turned a new page in dealing with our seemingly ancient adversary.
 
Finally, for a few laughs: 
The Bald Spot
Local student starts speaking at the same time as another student 
Katy Gilbertson

HARTFORD, CT— Wednesday around 11 a.m., Carleton student Rashad Williams began to make a comment in a Zoom English class discussion, only to realize that his classmate Rachel Brown had also begun to speak. 

“Oh—sorry—you go, Rachel,” said Rashad after a brief pause. 

“Oh no no, go ahead,” said Rachel. 

“Well, my thing isn’t very—“ Rashad started to say, realizing that Rachel had once again been making sounds at the same time as him. Again, the two took a collective beat of silence. 
 
A cartoon from Kenneth Laster '20!
That's all for this year, folks! 
- Sam & Katy
“A change is gonna come."
- Sam Cooke
"It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness"
-  David Foster Wallace
Feeling 22 since 1877
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