Coming into college, I had never flown on an airplane in my entire life. Since entering college, I have flown to and from Florida twice for the Haverford baseball team’s annual Spring training trip. With minimum experience traveling alone, I was a little nervous to say the least when it came time to step through security and leave my parents at the airport to finally begin my journey to Belgium. However, when I landed, all my anxiety went away. There was a representative from KUL (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) waiting to pick me up at the airport, and about two hours later, I reunited with three of my closest when their flight landed.
The decision to study abroad with three of my closest friends has been one of the best decisions of my life. Not only would it be tough to not have people to hang out with, to take classes with, or go Euro tripping with, but it would be very difficult to adjust to a new country’s culture by myself. Most Belgian students go home on the weekends so, unlike America, where Friday and Saturday are the best nights to go out, it is the week nights that are the best nights to go out in Belgium. Considering that Leuven has a population of about 100,000, around half of which is university students, the weekends can be very quiet. This has by far been the weirdest custom to adjust to, especially since many young students in Leuven like to stay out until four or five in the morning. I have three 9 AM classes and am reluctant to stay out that late on week nights (even though I have done it once). I am glad my friends are here so we can have a good time whenever we want, without having to stay out until five on a Wednesday morning.
Last Wednesday, Dr. Adrienne Shaw, an assistant professor at Temple University, gave a lecture in Chase Hall on Haverford campus entitled “Representation Matters. Reframing Arguments for Diversity in Digital Games.” After a short introduction from representatives of the college’s Distinguished Visitor and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program – a sponsor of the lecture – Dr. Shaw began her presentation.
Shaw’s talk was heavily based around research done for her book, Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture, published in 2015. This research consisted of interviews with individuals within the gaming community, during which Shaw asked the participants about representation in video games. From this method of information gathering, Shaw said she became aware that gamers considered representation “nice when it happens.”
“Representation,” in this context, refers to the inclusion of characters or situations that replicate the experiences of groups that are typically less visible in media: for example, women and girls, persons of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Aware of this trend, Dr. Shaw framed her goal in relation to addressing the problem-fraught issue of representation in gaming: more and better representation can be achieved by looking at the areas where there is no need for it. To emphasize this idea, Dr. Shaw presented evidence collected by Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch, presented at the Game Developers Conference in 2015. In a study of children, male and female, young and adolescent, they found that kids don’t have strong preferences for the gender of the character they select in-game.
So why push the gaming industry for better representation? As Adrienne Shaw explains it, this movement is fourth-wave feminism. Also known as cyberfeminism and occasionally post-feminism, fourth-wave feminism has emerged in response to post-World War Two shifts from female to male computer operators. As men returned from war and took over jobs in the computing field, they were set on the path to dominance in the gaming industry, which emerged in the 1970s. Studies of those employed in said industry show that games are made by overwhelming majorities of white heterosexual males. Fourth-wave feminism presents itself in “Women in Games” efforts, popular especially in the early 2010s.
Dr. Shaw accepts that “change takes time,” and compared the current “wave” of feminism to a slow but powerful eroding force which will continue to challenge game-makers to push themselves toward greater representation of minorities in games. Her current work involves a longitudinal study of LGBTQ+ inclusion in games, spanning the last three decades. After a handful of concluding questions from the audience, Dr. Shaw wrapped up her presentation with a warning: the gaming industry will need a structural renovation before it embraces the diversity of gamers.
Shalom from Jerusalem! To avoid sounding stereotypical, I will not say that studying abroad is amazing, but instead use words like “interesting!” and “delicious!” and most of all “complex.” Jerusalem, and Israel/Palestine in general, is so much more than a news briefing from CNN or the New York Times will ever truly capture. It is full of more fresh food than I have ever seen in my life. It is full of the most adorable stray cats (as many as the squirrels back home). It is full of wonderful people who want to talk to you about the election in the states and then invite you to their home for Shabbat dinner or tea ten minutes after having met you in line in the grocery store. It is rich in history and rich in culture and rich in people wanting to share all of it with you.
I’ve been here two months and I’ve been to Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Tiberius. I’ve been to the top of Masada, I’ve hiked Ein Gedi, I’ve floated in the Dead Sea, and I’ve camped under the stars on a Mediterranean nature preserve. I took advantage of cheap European flights and backpacked Eastern Europe. I’ve been to synagogues, churches, and the Baha’i World Center. I was invited to a Jewish Orthodox home for Rosh Hashanah dinner the first night, and spent the second night with my secular program coordinator and her family. I’ve eaten some of the best shakshuka, baklava, Ethiopian food, and Yemeni bread that I can imagine exists—and of course, more hummus then I care to disclose. I’ve taken a traditional post-Shabbos dinner walk home and participated in an interfaith communication study. My professors are Israeli, Palestinian, Argentinian, and Scottish. My academic advisor was originally from Wynnewood, PA.
My friends here and I all came to Jerusalem with our own preconceived biases and opinions about what studying abroad here would entail, and our own feelings towards Israel/Palestine. Being here, though, teaches you that as a student abroad, the best thing to do is be quiet for a little, listen to the people who know more than you, see as much as possible, and walk away still just as baffled by the complexity as you walked in but with five months worth of extraordinary experiences and a brand new appreciation for blended chickpeas.
Picture this: if a hawk flies over Historic Walton Field before a Haverford women’s soccer game, it is considered a good omen. According to goalkeeper Katharine Prescott ’17, who was told by those who came before her, “it was good luck when the team saw a hawk flying over the field on game day or during a practice.” The belief in this superstition led to the ‘Haverhawks’ moniker that the team now embraces as their unofficial mascot. It seems as though the Haverhawks have seen a lot of hawks flying overhead this season as they are well positioned to make a serious run in the Centennial Conference playoffs after a brief two-year hiatus.
A large factor in this season’s success may actually stem from the team embracing their mascot. The offense has been performing much like a bird of prey, out shooting their opponents 257—good for fourth in the Conference— to 117 shots against, while scoring 24 goals in 16 games compared to allowing only seven goals. Their goals against average of 0.42 is also second in the conference, which is a good sign for the playoffs with the old adage: defense wins championships. Skyler Ellenberg ’18 believes that the massive gap in shot differential stems from simple origins: “We take a lot of shots and we have such a strong defense that we don’t concede a lot… [other teams] have a hard time generating goals from the attack because of the strength of our back line.”
One of the key contributors on the defensive side of the ball is Abby Letts ’17, who brings up perhaps the biggest reason for this year’s success: “We place a huge emphasis on ‘our family versus their team,’ because at the end of the day we are playing for each other. We see the amount of work, dedication, and sacrifice each teammate gives to this team, so every sprint we run, every hard tackle we make, we do it for the girl standing next to us.”
Prescott ’17 says that the team “goal” at the beginning of the season was “to make it to playoffs,” and with their victory at Washington College on Wednesday, they clinched that elusive playoff spot. Taylor Cross ’18 is confident that the Haverhawks will be playing past Saturday’s game because the “postseason is in our control, and that is an amazing feeling to have. We do not need certain teams to lose or big upsets to happen. We just need to play our game and continue to work hard in our last week of regular season.”
Part of the team’s strength this year is also their depth. Fourteen different players have scored a goal during the 2016 season, while 16 players in total have either recorded a goal or an assist. Cross ’18 says “the larger roster has been great for the team this year. It has allowed us to make more substitutions and have fresh legs on the field at all times. We can outrun teams and play at a high level for the full 90 minutes.” Of course, it always helps when the substitutes are a threat to score at any given moment. The focus on roster depth by Coach Jamie Schneck also bodes well for beyond this season as eight of the top ten leaders in points will return next year.
While depth has been a game-changer for the team, it certainly helps having a goalkeeper like Prescott ’17. She ranks fifth in the conference in save percentage (.863), last in saves (44), and third in goals against average (0.43). One could argue that her save total could be higher if not for her stellar defense playing in front of her.
The team is coming off a big win over Washington College, and now they look to travel to face rival Swarthmore on Saturday at 7PM for their last game of the regular season. A win in this game or a Gettysburg loss or tie to Johns Hopkins on Saturday will clinch the #4 seed in the playoffs for Haverford, allowing them to host the first round game on November 2nd.
Photos by Photography Editor Wanyi Yang
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