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Professor Barbara Trish Featured on U.S. News Website

As a member of the U.S. News & World Report Debate Club, Barbara Trish, professor of political science and chair of the political science department at Grinnell College, has shared her opinion on who won the Oct. 13 Democratic debate.

The Debate Club, according to U.S. News, is a meeting of the sharpest minds on the day's most important topics. It highlights the best arguments and lets readers decide which is the most persuasive. To vote for Trish, click on the up arrow next to her photo.

Trish, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University, is a generalist in U.S politics, with political parties, electoral politics and technology frequently at the intersection of her teaching and scholarship. Her research interests include examining metric-driven campaign politics. 

Most of her courses involve a significant research project in which students collect and analyze data. She teaches a class about Technology and Politics – Campaigns and Elections, and is developing a short course about the Iowa caucuses for January 2016. Her articles about data and analytics in the 2012 campaign appeared in Campaigns & Elections Magazine. She also is active in Grinnell College's Program in Practical Political Education, as well as efforts to enhance quantitative literacy.

Alumni Begin Year of Service

This August, a dozen Grinnell alumni began a year of service through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), a national service-leadership program that unites people to work for peace with justice. The program is popular among Grinnellians, and Grinnellians are popular with the organization, as well. Holding more than 10% of the 104 positions, the Grinnellians represent the largest group of alumni from any college or university in this year’s cohort of volunteers.

After the week of intensive training and orientation on topics including anti-racism work, self-care and intercultural communication, the volunteers dispersed to 13 U.S. cities, each person committed to serve full-time for one year with a particular social justice organization, while practicing simple, sustainable living in household communities of four to seven people.

The Grinnell alumni are serving in a variety of positions — including case managers, program assistants, and academic associates — and in everything from marketing and communications to farm and gardens to academics. They will serve in six cities this year:

Chicago, Ill.
Hannah Bernard ’15, Chicago Community Loan Fund
Elaine Fang ’15, Lakeview Pantry
Eleni Irrera ’14, Free Spirit Media
Katherine Quinn ’15, Lincoln Park Community Shelter
Milwaukee, Wis.
Ankita Sarawagi ’15, Bread of Healing Clinic
Seattle, Wash.
Rebecca Carpenter ’15, Jewish Family Service
Tacoma, Wash.
Fatima Cervantes ’15, L’Arche Tahoma Hope
Brittany Hubler ’15, L’Arche Tahoma Hope
Twin Cities, Minn.
Jordan Schellinger ’15, Twin Cities’ Habitat for Humanity
Alex Sharfman ’15, Our Saviour's Community Services
Washington, D.C.
Georgina Haro ’15, La Clinica del Pueblo
Alexa Stevens ’15, Thurgood Marshall Academy

The LVC says they are “proud of the continued partnership with Grinnell College and congratulates these 12 Grinnellians as they begin their year of service!”

LVC, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is open to persons from all spiritual traditions and welcomes people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered in all aspects of the organization. It supports volunteers as they explore the spiritual aspects of justice, community, and sustainability.

The Grinnell alumni earned degrees in a wide variety of areas: anthropology, art, biological chemistry, economics, French, psychology, philosophy, political science, Russian, sociology, and Spanish.

Causes with Effect

In a recent list of most liberal college campuses, Grinnell came in fourth, reflecting its long-standing, politically liberal reputation. Yet over time, both conservative and non-partisan, cause-related groups have also made their voices heard.

Rosenfield Professor of Political Science H. Wayne Moyer, Jr., who has observed Grinnell campus politics for more than 40 years, says that while “there’s a liberal tinge to most of the student organizations, the liberalism is not focused on politics but on causes. The central theme is helping people.”

Yes, There Are Conservatives

“Young Republicans have been active at times,” Moyer observes, “as have the Campus Democrats. We have conservative students but they tend to be moderate to liberal Republicans who identify less with the national Republican party than they might have 40 years ago.”

2014 graduate Sam Mulopulos is among those self-described conservatives who thrived on campus. “When I first came to Grinnell, I fell in love with the place and its people. In fact, because of my contrarian learning style, Grinnell probably made me more conservative or at least led me to more fully develop my conservative ideology.

“People often joke that the only people in the closet at Grinnell are the Republicans,” Mulopulos says. He started a chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) in fall 2013. “I believe a group like YAL has a tremendous role in promoting political diversity and social justice. The goal was to provide a forum for conservative students to ‘come out’ and cogently speak about their beliefs in limited government, individual liberty, and free markets.”

Don’t See What You Like? Start Your Own

A new club — the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network — like YAL, a chapter of a national organization, was co-founded in 2014–15 by Isaac Andino ’17 and Jenny Chi ’17. “Roosevelt is committed to progressive change, especially focusing on the local level since we feel that is where students can have the most direct change,” Andino explains.

“We are currently focusing our efforts on sustainability via socially responsible investing, investigating the college's endowment holdings in fossil fuel and defense companies and ways to possibly reduce our exposure/support to them,” Andino says. “We founded this organization because we felt it was a good fit with the values of Grinnell and was broad enough that it could be directed at any number of pressing issues. Other organizations on campus focus on one specific issue, while Roosevelt could be used as a general umbrella to address issues in the future.”

RISE Grinnell, led by Jacob Metz-Lerman ’17, also addresses progressive issues. “The goal of RISE Grinnell is to organize and participate in activism across a broad spectrum of progressive issues,” Metz-Lerman says. “Although we shy away from the term social justice, that is exactly what we stand for — issues that threaten justice, peace, love, and equality.”

A Focus on Issues

For those interested in targeting more specific issues, the Grinnell in Latin America Solidarity Society (GLASS) organization may have appeal.

For Jason Camey ’16, the focus on Latin American issues through GLASS came after a trip to Guatemala, through a co-curricular grant, where he and other Grinnell students witnessed “how U.S. foreign policy affected people in the country.

“The goal we established for the GLASS was to start talking about issues and getting people connected with partner organizations in Latin America,” Camey says.

“Grinnell is a community filled with amazingly brilliant students who aren't just citizens of the U.S. but of the world, and I think more and more students are realizing worldwide issues are something we also have to look at. Many of my peers are unaware of how our foreign policy affects people directly. I think if more people knew then they'd raise questions, they'd think a little more critically, they'd approach foreign policy with more caution, pointing out how these policies affect people.”

From broad to specific, local to international, progressive to conservative, there is always room for more campus political organizations, asserts Mulopulos. “What a boring place the world would be if we all agreed on every issue all the time? Where is the intellectual challenge in that? The ultimate goal as humans is to make the world a better, safer, healthier, and more prosperous place for everyone.”

Isaac Andino ’17, a political science major, is from Miami Springs, Fla. Jenny Chi ’17 is majoring in political science and economics and is from West Hills, Calif. Jacob Metz-Lerman ’17, a political science major, is from Roslindale, Mass. Jason Camey ’16 is majoring in Spanish and political science.

Synchronizing Mind and Body

Wellness on Grinnell’s campus comes in as many forms as its students have passions, and they don’t have to be strictly athletic passions.

Synchronized swimming has been a fixture in Tea Cakarmis ’17’s life since her childhood, and it wasn’t something she could leave behind her when she came to Grinnell. After arriving on campus, she formed the Grinnell Synchronized Swimming Club to keep synchro in her life and make it possible for other students — regardless of skill level, body type, or experience — to fall in love with it as she has.

Bringing Synchro to Grinnell

I envisioned the Grinnell Synchronized Swimming Club as a community, one that encourages both artistic expression and the development of athletic abilities.

At the age of 13, I was selected as a swimmer of the Serbian National Synchronized Swimming Team. I was both petrified and extremely honored. The five years I spent on the team before coming to Grinnell have been the most meaningful of my life. My teammates became my sisters as we shared countless hours of training, frustrations at being away from home, and pride in our accomplishments.

Swimmer performing move in a pool is mirrored by the pool's surface above.While competing internationally, we traveled together from Jerusalem to Geneva, we made countless friends and memories, and we spread our love for a unique sport that unifies ballet, gymnastics, swimming, and theatre. We performed routines requiring physical abilities equal to those of any other professional athletes — endurance, core strength, and flexibility. And we executed our routines gracefully, in sync, and while smiling — even underwater, we smiled. Although we were all too aware of the fact that our sport enjoyed little recognition in our country, we knew the value of what we were doing; we were our country’s ambassadors, painting the accurate picture of our people and our culture through our talent.

Through it all, the competitions and the pressure, synchro always remained my safe space. And it’s because it is such a beautiful mixture of all different athletic and artistic disciplines that it allows the performer to communicate any type of emotion or state of mind. It gives the performer an ability to enact their own reality or create a completely new one in the water. Because it is so subjective and open to interpretation, I believe that it is enhanced by the diversity of its performers.

Synchronized swimming is traditionally viewed as a sport that strictly prescribes the body type of the performer and thus excludes a lot of possible perspectives on the discipline. Although this remains somewhat true even today, the sport in general is becoming more accepting. I formed the Grinnell Synchro Club in that spirit. I wanted all of my club members to establish their own unique approaches to synchro.

Forming the Grinnell Synchro Club offered me yet another opportunity to be an ambassador, to represent the sport I love and my home country. It is a club that, to my surprise and excitement, has been growing during the past year. During my year abroad it will be led by two inspirational swimmers — Zala Tomasic ’18 and Tess Fisher ’18 — and it will be accepting all new members, with any level of experience.

Author Teodora Cakarmis ’17 is a French and political science double major from Belgrade, Serbia; Tess Fisher ’18 is an undeclared major from Oak Park, Ill.; and Zala Tomasic ’18 is an undeclared major from Skofja Loka, Slovenia.

Business Pursuits

Psychology major Fanchao (Frank) Zhu ’15 never expected to receive intensive business preparation as a liberal arts student. A scholarship through the College’s Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) has changed his perspective.

The psychology major from Nanjing, China attended the prestigious Stanford University Summer Institute in General Management that he describes as “a mini-MBA.”

“The program gave me a taste of everything in business,” says Zhu, who works in his family’s small chain of restaurants. “Now I know what I am really passionate about in business — entrepreneurship and marketing.”

Liberal arts and business can combine into a powerful mix. Just peek into the college backgrounds of CEOs at some of the nation’s most well known companies. Hiring professionals also prize liberal arts students who can think creatively and critically.

Business Binge

The summer business programs inspire students and complement Grinnell.

“When coupled with their academic and co-curricular experiences at Grinnell, these summer programs expand and refine the participants’ soft and hard skills as they prepare for their post-graduate careers in business and other sectors of the economy,” says Mark Peltz, Daniel ’77 and Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80 Dean in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.

Frank Zhu and Thatcher HealyLast summer, Zhu and Thatcher Healy ’16 (pictured) attended the Stanford Institute and Chi Nguyen ’15 and Joseph Wlos ’16 attended the University of Chicago’s Booth Summer Business Scholars Program.

Students studied finance, corporate operations, marketing, accounting, and human resources. They also interacted with professors, other students, and local business professionals. Students visited companies such as Intel, which was co-founded by Robert N. Noyce ’49.

Value of Studying Business

Healy, a biological chemistry major from Mill Valley, Calif., wanted to learn more about the business side of biotech.

“The Stanford program helped me understand how I could apply what I’ve been learning in Grinnell to a job in the future,” Healy says. “I feel equipped to market myself to a business or start my own business if I wanted to.”

All students can benefit from having a business background, Healy says.

“It is pertinent to most all fields of study,” he says. “Especially for those seniors who are lost on what to do after undergrad or how to apply their expertise into a lucrative career.”

The program has excited Nguyen about the possibility of earning an MBA after graduation. She especially liked working with a diverse mix of students from around the world.

“Academically, the concepts that I learn will help me with my senior seminar in macro finance,” she says. “Activities from the program also inspired me to start some similar workshops about business and professional skills in Grinnell.”

Opportunities for Summer 2015

Next summer 2015, CLS will offer two scholarships to Chicago’s Booth Program, which Peltz said fits well with Grinnell’s priorities. Scholarships include tuition, housing, most meals, and a travel stipend.

Fanchao (Frank) Zhu ’15 is a psychology major from Nanjing, China. Thatcher Healy ’16 is a biological chemistry major from Mill Valley, Calif. Chi Nguyen ’15 is a French and economics double major from Ha Noi, Vietnam. Joseph Wlos ’16 is a political science major from Crete, Ill.

Shaping Campus Culture

Every student pays a few hundred dollars a year to the College in the form of the student activities fee. The College immediately gives that money back to the student body to do with as it wishes, from bringing speakers to campus to having concerts nearly every weekend.

Any student can have a say in how the money is spent.

The student activities fee is split between the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Student Publications and Radio Committee (SPARC). Two-thirds goes to SGA, and one-third goes to SPARC.

SGA further divides its portion of the money between a number of committees, which take recommendations from students on speakers and performers to bring to campus. The students can also serve on any of the committees — Concerts, All-Campus Events, Student Planning, and Service. “Grinnell’s student government has a lot of freedom and money,” says former SGA treasurer Gargi Magar ’16. “It’s up to students to determine what kind of things they want on campus.”

The two committees with the most funding are the Concerts Committee and the All-Campus Events (ACE) Committee. The ACE Committee handles events that are open to all students on campus — mainly speakers, but also Harris parties and other events not connected to a specific student group. “ACE Committee serves as a conduit to the student body, both to turn their ideas into reality and answer questions that they may have regarding events and policies,” says ACE co-chair Abby Goreham ’15. “As chair, I enjoy doing my part to make sure that the Grinnell traditions I've come to love in my time on campus continue.”

 “SGA at Grinnell has more independence and ability to create student events than most other colleges,” says ACE co-chair Ryan Hautzinger ’15. “The All-Campus Events part of SGA is a perfect representation of that power. The money is there solely to put on events students want.” Last semester, ACE brought Malcolm London, a Chicago poet, and Hudson Taylor, who founded Athlete Ally, to campus. This semester, the committee is working to bring standup comic and frequent visitor Hari Kondabolu back to campus.

The Concerts Committee brings more than 50 artists to campus each year. This semester, Concerts Chair Violeta Ruiz Espigares ’15 is especially excited about Baltimore-based rapper-producer duo TT The Artist; Mighty Mark; Lust for Youth, a Swedish dream-pop group; and Saba, an up and coming rapper from Chicago.

In addition to suggesting speakers and performers, students can propose and vote on initiatives each semester to address issues on campus. In the past, successful initiatives have resulted in more printers being installed in academic buildings and a swingset being constructed outside the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Each year, students host more than two dozen concerts; 100+ all-campus events ranging from speakers to parties in the Harris Center to the Grinnell Relays; events, such as an Eid al Adha dinner and the Titular Head film festival, which are hosted by student groups; and more. Most importantly, though, any student can have a hand in shaping the culture on campus.

Abby Goreham ’15 is a political science major from Queen Creek, Ariz.

Ryan Hautzinger ’15 is a history and political science major from Grand Junction, Colo.

Violeta Ruiz Espigares ’15 is a German and philosophy major from Granada, Spain.

Gargi Magar ’16 is a chemistry major from Plainfield, Ill.

Standing for Parliament

Win or lose, Todd Foreman ’95 will start a new chapter in his political life on May 7, 2015, election day in the United Kingdom. Foreman is the Labour Party candidate for North East Somerset, a constituency in southwest England. If elected, he’ll serve in the House of Commons along with 649 other Members of Parliament.

“This was the right time in my life to stand for Parliament,” Foreman says. “I don’t like what the current government is doing to health care nor the widening gap between rich and poor,.” Foreman says.

“Politics is something I’ve been passionate about for as long as I can remember,” says Foreman, a political science and French double major. He won a Watson Fellowship that set him firmly on the political path.

During his yearlong fellowship, he worked for the Labour parties in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. He examined the ways the party could advance equality for women, ethnic minorities, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. “My fellowship shaped my political values and political thinking,” he says. “I knew that in the Labour Party I had found my political home.”

Foreman earned a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania and in 2001 moved to London to practice law with an international law firm. He’s currently taking a break from his job with Axiom, an alternative legal services provider, where he specializes in banking and financial services law.

Banking is one of the issues Foreman cares deeply about. He earned a master’s in banking and finance law from King’s College, London, and his experience in the banking field is one of the reasons the Labour Party selected him to stand for this election.

“During the financial crisis in 2008 where taxpayers had to bail out banks and are still paying for it, that issue really resonates with people in North East Somerset,” Foreman says. “Bankers are not being held accountable. I think my experience as a lawyer will be valuable in Parliament.”

If he wins his election, Foreman has promised to be a full-time MP and not take outside work. And if Labour wins enough seats, Foreman says the party will crack down on MPs being allowed to have second jobs. He notes that his opponent, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative elected in 2010, works for a hedge fund in addition to his MP duties.

“I’m standing against one of the most right-wing MPs sitting in Parliament now,” Foreman says. “I don’t think he’s serving the priorities of the vast majority of people living in North East Somerset.”

If Foreman wins, this will not be his first successful race. In May 2014, he completed a term as a councilor, an elected position at the city government level, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

Foreman has since moved to the North East Somerset constituency with his spouse Mark Sutter. The two were married Dec. 22, 2014. “We are a partnership politically as well,” Foreman says. They’re both working full-time, unpaid, on the campaign.

Election campaigns in Britain are “very focused on door-step campaigning, going out and knocking on doors and meeting people,” Foreman says. Approximately 70,000 voters live in the constituency near Bath.

Money is needed, of course, but much less than in U.S. campaigns, he says. Money is raised for running the campaign headquarters, staff, leaflets, etc. Individual candidates aren’t allowed to do television or radio advertising.

Originally from Kansas, Foreman became a British citizen in 2006.

Grinnellian Receives Gilman Scholarship

Emma Lange ’16 has been awarded a federally funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to support her study abroad during the spring 2015 semester.

Lange plans to study the impact of technology on democracy and citizenship at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Denmark is hailed as having a strong democracy and deeply happy citizens," Lange says. "Learning from Danish political scientists and experiencing Danish life will be formative in my studies of political and social science. I also will have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the social integration of technologies and politics through a course titled Rewriting Democracy: iCitizenship and e-governance in a Nordic Context."

At Grinnell College, she is active in mock trial and serves as administrative coordinator for the Student Government Association and as an advocate for first-generation college students.

"I am extremely appreciative of the Gilman Scholarship for making my semester abroad a possibility," Lange says. "In addition to academic growth, my semester in Copenhagen will provide great personal growth.

"This will be the first time I meet my father's extended family. After World War II, my grandparents emigrated from Germany to the United States, while other family members resettled in Denmark. We have recently reconnected with my father's family in Copenhagen, and I am very excited to meet and spend a few months getting to know my relatives."

Lange is the third member of her family to attend Grinnell. Her older brothers, Adam and Andy, graduated from the College in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Andy also received a Gilman International Scholarship, which supported his study abroad in Freiburg, Germany.

About the Gilman Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship is a competitive federal grant program that "provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding to participate in study abroad programs worldwide." The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.

Emma Lange ’16 is majoring in political science and technology studies and is from Carroll, Iowa.

Soviet Studies

Sarah Weitekamp ’15 spent her summer poring over underground publications and KGB records for her Mentored Advanced Project (MAP). Translating as she went, she scoured her sources for accounts of Lithuanian Catholics being oppressed by the Soviet secret police. She worked with Edward Cohn, assistant professor of history, whose research focuses on the use of profilaktika — preventive warnings — by the Soviet Union’s secret police in the Baltic States.

MAPs allow students to reach beyond their regular coursework and work on projects that get them mistaken for graduate students. They can be performed with a team or individually, and give students the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor. Weitekamp was one of three students working with Cohn over the summer.

Lucy McGowan ’15 and Luke Panciera ’16 also completed MAPs on the Soviet secret police. Panciera used a collection of oral history interviews known as the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System to examine what many citizens under Stalin thought about the secret police — the NKVD — and its informers. McGowan used an underground dissident publication known as A Chronicle of Current Events to research the ways that the human rights movement and the Soviet regime used the legacy of World War II to win legitimacy for their cause.

More than a third of Grinnell students complete a MAP during their college career. They offer an opportunity to take part in faculty research, pursue a creative or artistic project, or complete one’s own research. In recent years, students have translated Beowulf, written advanced papers and presented them at national and international conferences, and staged original plays as part of their MAPs.

Weitekamp researched the persecution of Catholics in Lithuania from the 1950s to the 1980s using Russian-language sources from the Lithuanian KGB and an underground publication written by Catholic dissidents. The KGB documents present a challenge because they are in the original Russian, and the KGB’s language is highly euphemistic. “They’ll say something like, ‘We had a chat with a group of youths,’ that sort of thing,” Weitekamp says. It doesn’t take too much imagination to understand that the KGB’s approach was far more brutal than its reports suggest.

Having a double major in history and Russian opened up the opportunity for Weitekamp to work with primary sources in Russian as well as translations. She was able to go through the church documents faster because they were in English, but she was grateful to be able to go back to the original Russian and make her own translation.

“I get the viewpoint of the KGB and I get the viewpoint of the church, and in putting them together, hopefully I get a more holistic understanding of what was really going on,” says Weitekamp. History, she says, is about more than what happened, though. It’s about what people thought and believed about what was happening.

One of the main reasons Weitekamp and Cohn are researching the Lithuanian KGB is that the Baltic states experienced even greater repression than most other Soviet-controlled regions. Another is that most KGB documents are still classified in Russia. Lithuania’s KGB archives are much more accessible, allowing scholars to understand how the secret police confronted dissents in the Baltic republics and beyond.

Lucy McGowan ’15 is a history major from Nantucket, Mass. Sarah Weitekamp ’15 is a history/Russian double major from Raymond, Ill. Luke Panciera ’16 is a political science/Russian major from Broken Arrow, Okla.


Change They Can’t Believe In

A political expert will discuss the Tea Party and reactionary politics on the heels of a highly charged and historic election season.

Chris Parker, associate professor and Stuart A. Scheingold professor of social justice and political science at the University of Washington, Seattle, will give the talk “Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America.”

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will start at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in the Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.

Change They Can't Believe In book cover“The political science department is thrilled that Chris is returning to Grinnell for this lecture,” says Barbara Trish, political science professor. “He taught at Grinnell about fifteen years ago, and was a popular faculty member whose courses tackled important ideas, drawing into the mix lively contemporary politics.”  

The lecture bears the same title as the book Parker wrote with Matt A. Barreto. Published by Princeton University Press, it won the 2014 Best Book Award from the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

Parker analyzes the party’s motivations and the political implications. Parker and Barreto contend that the Tea Party is driven by the reemergence of a reactionary movement in American politics that is fueled by a fear that America has changed for the worse.

Providing a range of original evidence and rich portraits of party sympathizers as well as activists, the book shows that what actually motivates Tea Party supporters is not simple ideology or racism, but fear that the country is in danger because it’s being stolen from "real Americans" — a belief triggered by President Barack Obama’s election.

The event is part of the College’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.