role of a liberal arts college in 2017?


The Board of Trustees states that: “Non-denominational colleges and universities like Carleton are not political actors that seek to shape directly public policy, nor are they religious organizations that seek to define, promote, and enforce morality. The delicate niche a college like ours occupies in society can easily be damaged and its credibility harmed if it is perceived as exceeding its proper mission.”

This statement contradicts Carleton’s mission, which includes a commitment to foster critical thinking, inquiry, and problem-solving strategies. The mission statement speaks to the importance of supporting academic exploration, practicing responsible stewardship of resources, and environmental integrity. It emphasizes that the development of students’ abilities as leaders capable of addressing global issues is crucial to a holistic liberal arts education. A liberal arts college inherently shapes policy and morality, as it is one of the few institutions in our society that is set up to question values, critique existing systems, and find solutions in an intellectual – and thoughtful – academic sphere.

Failure to divest when there is no ostensible risk in doing so contradicts the philosophical core of what a college owes its students; liberal arts education owes its students engagement in the global community more than narrow educational experiences. Liberal arts aims to empower graduates with the freedom to critique and act contrary to societal conventions, constructions, and institutions. The liberal arts promote intellectual independence and autonomy from authority and the ability to question values. This is imperative when our country is divided into two parties that won’t interact with each other.  As we have all witnessed, the Trump rhetoric directly threatens civil rights legislation, climate change legislation, the LGBTQ community, the undocumented community, women, and communities of color. While we have not seen what the incoming administration will do, Trump’s appointments show that he sees no problem with corporate interest forming policy, and misogynistic masculinity. Liberal arts students should be questioning the established institutions and asking how and why they exist as they do and what, if any, changes should be made.

This is exactly what students have done, resulting in the formation of countless student groups advocating for institutional change, such as change in food purchasing practices, demanding sanctuary campus status, divesting from direct holdings in the fossil fuel industry, or examining Carleton and Northfield energy. Some of the biggest problems the 21st century faces are environmental issues. Students are questioning the role of the fossil fuel industry, and are searching for answers. Like any global problem, there is not one singular solution to climate change, but divestment is part of the solution.

The quote from the Board of Trustees at the beginning of this piece explains their vote to not divest Carleton’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry. As economist Milton Friedman articulates in a 1970 article, “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” Colleges, however, are nonprofit institutions. The overarching goal of colleges is to provide an excellent education rather than increase monetary gain. Carleton stakeholders – alumni, faculty, students and parents –  have reflected, analyzed, questioned, and examined our own institution. If Carleton truly does aspire for its graduates to become “active members” in society and “capable of finding inventive solutions to local, national, and global challenges,” then it should listen when they speak, instead of making weak excuses under the guise of being apolitical.

No decision is apolitical as we see with the the relationship between government and its residents through social contract theory. Social contract theory is the idea that citizens agree to limits on their freedom in exchange for governmental protection. Humans have a right to general safety and access to clean water and food, which is what governments tend to protect – a right to resources. In return, citizens also have duties to the government. However, the ‘political space’ that citizens have duties to in return for these resources has become amorphous and global in 2017. It seems that the College thinks there is a divide between public and private spheres of life, between the elitist campus bubble and the nation. Private actions have public consequences, if any such divide existed, it has dissolved.

Global sustainability and the challenges posed by environmental degradation are supremely urgent. According to a 2014 report by the United Nations, we have around “ten years to fix environmental problems by adopting not only sustainable initiatives but also sustainable attitudes lest we eclipse global thresholds of human-induced climate change.” With the irreversible consequences of climate change so eminent, partisan politics, and a new administration that has only promised to reverse the international climate change legislation that has taken years to develop, it is up to institutions like Carleton to act according to its values and its mission statement.

Former Carleton President Nason asserted, “no college need apologize for its high purpose.” Colleges and institutions that have shied away from making ‘moral claims’ in the past must stop and assert their position. It is weak and cowardly to do otherwise in an political environment that is too partisan, xenophobic, and full of hate to make substantial change. Liberal arts colleges must be places of change and of action- with or without Mr. Trump as President.

Current Songs


“Let’s Get Breakfast” by Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra

  •  Ideally should be played when still in bed and trying to rally the energy to go get breakfast.

“You Go Down Smooth” by Lake Street Dive

  • The band is named after a street in Minneapolis but is based in Brooklyn – merging  two cities that I frequent!

“Down South” by Jeremy Loops

  •  An energetic South-African singer that a co-worker showed me this past summer.

“Be Like You” by We Were Evergreens

  • Bringing back the Jungle Book theme song, except more melodic vocals.

“Crazy Dream” & “Beautiful Escape” by Tom Misch 

  • surreal and dreamy

Everything by Kishi Bashi 

  •  I saw him live at First Ave. in Minneapolis, MN this past October and loved his energy. We were dancing and flailing with a dancing steak or swaying silently completely captured by a boiled down, raw,  performance of honeybody.  



American Studies. an f.a.q.


I declared to be an American Studies Major this past Spring Term. Since then, everyone – and their mother, has asked me what it is and what it entails so I thought this would be a more efficient way to explain what I’m interested in.

What is American Studies?

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that studies American culture and the identities that this culture creates- from examining systems of oppression, hierarchies and social labels to critiquing how we think of places, media and music. The scope of this is flexible. It can be general – like examining the concept of a Cities and urban spaces, or much more specialized as we analyze a specific city like Los Angeles or Boston and the forces that have made that city different than others.

American Studies incorporates History, Sociology, Anthropology, Art and Economics, and many other fields as it hopes to use many perspectives to understand a subject of scholarship.

So what is it exactly that you do as an American Studies major? 

I’ve taken the following classes so far as part of my American Studies major:

  • Placing Identities – AMST 115
  • Environmental Ethics – ENTS 215
  • Environmental Justice – POSC 212
  • Is Obama Black? Mixed Race U.S. History – HIST 219
  • Women, Crime and the Criminal Justice System – SOAN 202
  • Constitutional Law I – POSC 271

I will be taking a few more history classes as well.

Do you specialize in anything at all? 

Yes! Most people pick certain subjects or mediums that they wish to focus on – music, specific televisions shows, or places like the border between Mexico and the United States and high schools and how gender or racial identities are depicted in these places or in these types of media. .

Right now I’m focusing on environmental policy, environmental justice and sustainable development – which is also pretty broad. Right now, I do not know what subject I’ll write my “Comps” or ‘Comprehensive Exercise’ on – which is what Carleton calls a Senior Thesis.

I still don’t get it. Are American Studies people employable?

Oh yes. From marketing and business consulting to media, law and non-profit work, American Studies graduates are working all over the place, aware of the marginalized communities around us, aware of intersectional oppressions, aware of colonialist narratives.

American Studies Students, like most liberal art students, practice skills that are applicable to many fields, like writing, researching, examining multiple perspectives, logic/common sense, etc.



coming-of-age during the War on terror?


i learned on my first day of institutionalized learning, that the world is a violent place.

It was my first day of Kindergarten on the upper east side of manhattan. 9/11.

and that lesson has been drilled into me, repeatedly.

the world is a violent place.


a friend said “we undervalue times of no disasters”, over sunday morning coffees.

last week on sunday morning, we woke up to news about the orlando shooting.

this declarative statement: ““we undervalue times of no disasters” confused me.

how do i undervalue not having a disaster?

should i be celebrating if there isn’t a mass shooting every morning i wake up?

maybe i should be. but i expect disaster.

the world is a violent place.


thats how our world works.

i will not celebrate the fact that there was not a mass shooting during the night as i drink my morning coffee. i will not make that celebration part of my routine 

because there probably was a shooting last night, somewhere.

it could have been the police that was shooting, or being shot at.  it could have been your neighbor, or your cousin. it could be anyone because its everywhere. 

i am becoming numb to the shootings and mass killings at our schools, our movie theaters and night clubs. i am numb to the the terror attacks in paris, brussels, tel aviv, cartagena, and ankara. cities listed in that order, because some victims of violence are an afterthought, barely reported. some places and people aren’t as valued as ‘merican lives .

domestic terrorism? intimate terrorism? international terrorism? since when are there so many different kinds of terrorism that we need qualifiers.

people want me to believe that the world is safer than it has ever been before, historically. that may be true, but i cant accept that as enough. 

that cant be enough when you are asking me to celebrate the fact that we haven’t had a mass shooting in the past week. or at least one that hasn’t hit national media attention.

this is ignorant and naive. there is violence everywhere. it affects communities of every scale.

nationally, locally, academic institutions or night clubs.

the world is a violent place.


December in NY


Sofar Sounds Concert on December 5, 2015 – Sophie and I showed up to the venue on the Lower East Side, which ended up being an office space with millenials seated on the floor crowded around a make-shift stage. We squished onto the floor, joining the ranks, and heard three bands: Julietta, The Gantry, Igbo. I think the first two are great and are going places. The first reminded me of Lorde. The latter reminded me of Mumford&Sons and Avett Brothers but more rock-y.

Sofar Sounds organizes these impromptu concerts, secretive shows that are not open to the public, that guests can attend through entering a lottery on their website for tickets. You don’t know who’s playing until you arrive and you don’t know the venue of the concert until the day before – was one of the better nights I’ve ever had in New York, and cost nothing.

Nutcracker Rouge – hilarious characters, impressive dancing, singing, and circus – trapeze, lyra, and some pole dancing. Company XIV performed one of the best holiday shows I’ve seen. It made us laugh, smile and gawk at their bodies as the muscles literally were popping out of the barely there costumes.

Hand of God – broadway play with puppets. I’m not a fan of puppets and never have been. It was interesting to see Bob Saget on stage as a priest and not on Full House or doing some filthy stand-up, although there still is some raunchy humor we enjoyed. Tyrone, the wild aggressive puppet becomes the outlet for the protagonist’s struggles. In short, organized religion cannot fix everyone’s problems and people need to express their emotions because when their pent up, things go crazy bad.


Empellón – good pear and cucumber margaritas. I didn’t love the queso fundido. It was your average melted cheese that did the lactose-sensitive stomach no good and no exciting flavor, despite the shishito peppers. Their strong suit, in which they excel, is the tacos. The mushroom-filled ones were my favorite.

Red Farm – creative and different Chinese food on the UWS. I tried so many different kinds of dumplings that I felt like a dumpling. Soup dumplings, duck and crab dumplings, pac-man shaped shrimp dumplings, vegetable dumplings, so much food.

Candle Café – It has become our neighborhood vegan staple. The portobello au poivre looks like a pile of grey murky mushroom slices with ambiguous  and flavorless sauce. Everything else I love.

Maison Kayser – “they have the best baguette in all of New York City” J.T.

; Movies

Spotlight: important movie, story that needs to be told. However, I was not in a good mindset to see it.

Carol: While Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are fantastic, hard for me to imagine a society where love is considered that forbidden and immoral.

Sisters:  solid and silly Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Joy:  cheers for female empowerment and female entrepreneurship but needed to cut a 20/30 minutes out of the movie. or make the plot line a little more intricate.

La provincia de Córdoba


From October 9 – 12, I was in the province of Córdoba for Oktoberfest. We took an overnight bus to Córdoba from Buenos Aires. The bus system seems to be the most cost-efficient way to get around if you have time to sit on the road.

La festival nacional de la cerveza is in the town Villa General Belgrano about 1.5 hrs away from the city of Córdoba. We stayed a few miles outside of the town and took cabs to the festival for the two days we went. The hostel’s description said it was located seven blocks away from the bus stop. Those seven blocks ended up being a very vague and ambiguous approximation because there were no ‘blocks’, it was a 15 minute walk down a dirt road. Lindsey and I had backpacks but Lia had to wheel her suitcase, the valija – we were quite the disorganized mess.

Festival itself was a tourist trap – entrance fee to get into the beer park + the cost of the beers that you want. Lots of funky flavors: raspberry beer, lemon beer, nut ales, chocolate beer, mint beer (was green and nasty) – t’was quite fun to sample everything. There was so much German food:  wiener schnitzel, pretzels and apple strudel.

After two days of the festival and being bloated from all the beer, we went to Alta Gracia, a small town an hour outside of Córdoba and visited Che Guevara’s childhood home. El Museo Casa del Che taught me a lot more than what I knew from The Motorcycle Diaries. It was a short, sweet, interesting and I learned a lot – a successful museum visit. We also spent a day in the city of Córdoba before returning to Bs As, walked around a lot and admired a lot of churches. Most of the city was closed because it was Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural , October 12th, our Columbus Day. However, in Argentina the day rightfully honors indigenous diversity instead of Europeans conquering and killing indigenous communities. We went into the cabildo/ town hall building that is now used as a cultural and historical community center.


Wiphala – representing native Andean people


the cabildo in Córdoba


Che in Alta Gracia



Restaurants, Cafés, Bars & Places in Buenos Aires



Full City Coffee House in Palermo Soho – rustic, industrial aesthetic inside. delicious cold brew as the spring weather is slowly, painstakingly slowly, becoming summer. I have not tried the food but worth it for the coffee alone.

Café Birkin in Palermo Botanico – offers lots of delicious things for breakfast or lunch: huge salads, omelettes, sandwiches, along with their delicious cappuccinos and extensive tea menu.

Malvon – also in Palermo Botanico, where I live and thus spend the most time. Lots of food for the brunch deal on Saturdays and Sundays – it comes with coffee/tea, a corn muffin, fruit and corn-flake granola crunchies, and your entrée.

Cafe Negro – Located in Centro, a few blocks away from my classes, they excel in being friendly to everyone and playing the best music. Their playlists on Spotify cover every nuisanced mood and situation: rainy days, jazz, upbeat pop, or argentine rock but all of them perfect for studying/working while drinking coffee, a dulce de leche latte, or a mango smoothie.


Hierbabuena in San Telmo – I can’t say enough good things about this place. Consistent, delicious, creative foods and most of them are vegetarian ( even vegan). It is a great place for lunch, or brunch on the weekends, after exploring the antique stores in the neighborhood.

Creperie – in Centro – the complete: ham, cheese and a fried egg on top is yummy and filling.

Ninina Bakery – Palermo Soho. For lunch, lots of sandwiches along with a vegan and veggie burger and lots of topping options: caramelized onions, avocado, goat cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.  Their breakfast menu seemed pretty average: omelettes and pastries + coffee and juices. fresh ingredients. beautiful open bright space.


La Carniceria and  La Cabrera – I’d recommend both for some Argentine steak.  I’ve had solid meals there with lots of chimichurri sauce on top of the lomo and bife de chorizo. We tried a few sides that were all solid as well – puree de papas, apple sauce, pickled veggies, cabbage, arugula salads. I’m still recovering from vegetarian preferences and don’t love any steak. But it was pretty good, which is saying a lot for me!

Fabrica Del Taco – decent mexican food, great for a margarita and a quick taco late night in Palermo Soho. While hot sauces are lacking in Argentina, here they have a few different kinds! – but sadly no Sriracha.  I definitely get a sugar high from the sugar-coated rim on top of the already sugary margarita. 

Sarki’s  the Armenian restaurant in Palermo has a line outside the door waiting every night by the time they open for dinner at 8pm. I haven’t figured out what distinguishes Armenian food from Mediterranean/ Israeli food – it seems the same? I loved the falafel and the moussaka, along with the hummus, babaganoush and tabouleh. Each entreé is only about $8/9 USD – very affordable place and feels very comfortable, family-oriented, lots of regulars.

Teatriz – classic, elegant, dimly-lit restaurant in Recoleta, simple and delicious food but expensive.

Cafe Jacoba – “Jewish Food” in Palermo Soho, gefilte-fish and smoked salmon and a bagel on the menu but I prefer the mediterranean food yumminess. Different from the empanadas and asados.


Grand Bar Dazon This place is hidden in Recoleta on the 2nd floor of a nondescript building.  The entrance, a dark staircase with not a lot of signage, is easy to miss. Metal candelabras light the stairwell and the bar itself has little LEDS imbedded in it – like christmas lights everywhere, giving off a shimmery, sparkle environment in the dark space. Very extensive cocktail list and very delicious.

Esquina Libertad – My favorite drink here is a Cynar Julep: cynar, an Italian liquer, grapefruit juice, raw sugar, and some mint, pretty scrumptiously sour and sweet and herbal-y. The best part about it, besides the grapefruit and mint combination, is that it only costs $3 USD/45 pesos. Their rooftop deck is a great place to sit on a warm night and away from the crowded indoor room.

Florería Atlantico – much has been written about this place, fantastic speak-easy in Centro/Retiro/Recoleta –  the borders between barrios are very unclear- that looks like a flower shop until you walk downstairs.  They make their own gin and the cocktails are good and original.

Shows/Things to Do

San Telmo Fair – every Sunday. super touristy. knick-knacks. crafts. meh – it’s fun the first time then it’s overwhelming, crowded, and all the products look the same.

Fuerza Bruta – apparently Fuerza Bruta is in NY too and I just had never been to it. It’s an experimental experience of a show that is somewhat hard to describe: part-concert, part-aerobics, part-Cirque De Soleil-esque. The crowd standing in a seemingly vacant hall, gets instructed to move to certain sides of the room as the space transforms, people swing from the ceiling and dance on the walls. The show culminates in a dance party with a water cannon showering the crowd and confetti.

La Bomba del Tiempo – There is a show every Monday night. crazy, wild, energy as a percussion group performs. The drum circle built up and swelled to have the whole room moving and jumping along.

Torres Del Paine in Chile & Glacier in Argentina – Patagonia September 2015


On Friday night, we took a three hour plane from AEP in Buenos Aires to FTE, airport in El Calafate, followed by a bus from FTE to the bus terminal in the town of El Calafate. Another bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales early Saturday Morning.The highway we drove on, with unchanging scenery of sheep and grass for hours was called La Ruta Fin Del Mundo, end of the world – it felt like it. The third bus was from Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga, the Park entrance to Torres Del Paine followed by the final shuttle to Los Torres Hotel y Refugio Central early Sunday morning.

That Sunday we began our hike to Mirador de los Torres – 36 hours of traveling later.

We hiked the eastern part of the W Trek in Torres Del Paine with Fantastico Sur. Up to Mirador Torres and back down, to Los Cuernos, and a bit of French Valley before leaving Chile, back to Argentina to go to El Calafate and explore Perito Moreno Glacier.

5 full days in Torres Del Paine with the first and last night at Hotel Los Torres, wonderful feasts for dinner, the other two nights were at Refugio Los Cuernos.  Definitely was not an easy hike and we got mixed up with the trails, and lack of signs but other hikers helped us for the most part. My joints are very achey and one split toenail, but no blisters for me.

lt felt fantastic to be out of the city, out of Buenos Aires.

Montañas cerca de Los Cuernos

Montañas cerca de Los Cuernos

Los Torres

Los Torres

“They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching —
But can’t you hear the Wild? — it’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling … let us go.”
Robert William Service. THE CALL OF THE WILD  Spell of the Yukon and other verses

IMG_5424El Parque Nacional de los Glaciares en El Calafate, Argentina.