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Daily Herald the Brown

vol. cxliv, no. 12 | Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Serving the community daily since 1891

Shaky economy casts doubt on giving Curricular reviews in progress

By Brigitta Greene Senior Staff Writer

Every weekday night in the cinderblock basement of the Maddock Alumni Center, students sit — headsets over their ears, scripts on their desks — in tiny cubicle arrangements. Their job, talking to donors about giving to the Brown Annual Fund, has grown more difficult in the current economic climate. Posted in the basement, known as the student call center, is a sign with the heading “Fundraising in an Uncertain Economic Climate.” “Many alumni, parents and friends have expressed concern about how the current global financial crisis is affecting Brown,” the sign warns, before giving more detailed advice to callers. With less than five months remaining in the 2009 fiscal year, only $12.8 million of a $36 million goal has been raised for the fund, said Tammie Ruda, executive director of annual giving. Though the fund was only 4 percent behind the previous year’s pace as of Dec. 31, according to a Jan. 27 e-mail to the community from President Ruth Simmons, an economy in recession may make it difficult to reach an ambitious, $36 million goal that would seek to beat last year’s haul by almost $1 million. The Campaign for Academic En-

By Joanna Wohlmuth Metro Editor

reach this goal,” Ruda said. The Annual Fund is an unrestricted pool of money that goes directly toward the operating budget. An expected 10 percent decline in the amount raised through the Fund and other “annual fund-raising efforts” would reduce operating revenues by $4 million, according to Simmons’ e-mail.

The College Curriculum Council may finish reviewing up to 13 undergraduate concentrations — more than it originally planned — by the end of the academic year, said Karen Krahulik, the chair of the council’s concentrations subcommittee. The council began comprehensive reviews of Brown’s 95 undergraduate concentrations last semester, as recommended by the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, which released its report in September. The process requires departments to clarify the goals of concentrations they offer and to explain how they fulfill Brown’s broader academic aims, said Krahulik, who is also the associate dean of the College for upper class studies. Departments are also asked to review advising and senior capstone opportunities, she said. Nine concentrations had originally been slated for review this year. But some concentrations wishing to make significant changes to their programs have been added to the schedule, potentially allowing the

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Eunice Hong / Herald

Student callers, seen here soliciting donations for the Brown Annual Fund, now face an unfavorable economy.

richment has identified the progress of the Annual Fund as its main focus, said Ronald Vanden Dorpel MA’71, senior vice president for University advancement. Simmons wrote in her e-mail that “any reduction in the Fund total by fiscal year end will mean a dollar-for-dollar reduction in our operating budget.” The Annual Fund, if it reaches its goal, would supply 7percent of the University’s operating budget,

according to Ruda. Despite the current pace, Ruda said she is “pretty pleased” with Annual Fund giving so far. Gifts to the fund are heaviest in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, with considerable donations coming in during May and June, she said. Over $9.5 million was raised for the Annual Fund during the month of June alone last year, according to the fund’s Web site. “We’re still pushing very hard to

Married, with homework

No increase in number of UTRAs offered this summer

By Kelly Mallahan Staff Writer

By Chaz Kelsh News Editor

As the new semester kicks into high gear, many students have trouble balancing classes, sports, extracurriculars and that weekly shift at the Gate they work to finance their coffee habits. But for a few Brown undergraduates, there’s an additional element to add to this balancing act: their marriages.

The number of Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards offered for this summer will remain steady at about 200, despite previous plans to expand the number each year, said Christina Furtado, assistant dean for upper class studies. Though the Task Force on Undergraduate Education recommended expanding the UTRA program in its final report released in September, the University’s financial troubles have precluded the small increase planned for this year, said Furtado, who oversees the program for the Office of the Dean of the College. Fur tado did not know how large this year’s increase would have been. “We got hit before we got to that point,” she said, adding that the size of the program in any given year also depends on the quality of the applications received.



The University doesn’t keep statistics on the number of married undergraduate students, nor does it provide any specific services for them — the only mention of married students on the University’s Web site is their exemption from on-campus living requirements. Brown students who choose to get married before getting their degrees are largely on their own. According to Alicia Adams ’11, who married her high school boyfriend Brian in July, the hardest part of getting married was figuring out her liv-

News.....1-4 Metro........5-6 Spor ts...7-8 Editorial..10 Opinion...11 Today........12

Courtesy of Alicia Adams

Alicia Adams ’11, seen here with her husband Brian, said maintaining her social life on campus is a challenge since she got married, but Brian helps her maintain a healthy balance.

ing arrangement. Since her husband is not a Brown student, they were forced to rent an off-campus apartment. “It’s really expensive,” she said, adding that her rent was almost $1,100 a month. “My loans have definitely gone up,” she added. Lanna Leite, who enrolled as a member of the class of 2010 but is currently taking a year off, got married over winter break of her freshman year. She works odd jobs and waits tables to support herself and her husband Cassius. Leite’s husband is from Brazil, and


they had to wait six months after they got married before he could join her in the U.S. She continued to live in Keeney Quandrangle the spring following their marriage, but she has since moved off campus. She also cited housing as the largest obstacle facing married students. Leite said it was difficult to find an apartment near campus, because “no one that was close by would rent to us.” Even many landlords listed on Brown’s auxiliary housing Web site continued on page 2

In its report, the task force recommended that the University “increase funding for independent learning experiences,” like research opportunities and internships. There is currently no plan for future increases, Furtado said. But “if you want to be optimistic,” she added, “then yes — we hope to be able to turn things around next year.” “We’re hoping to do the best we can for our students,” Furtado said, adding that administrators are “quite committed” to the task force’s recommendations. In an e-mail to The Herald, Marjorie Thompson, assistant dean of biological sciences, wrote that she has seen demand for UTRAs increasing. As the number of scholarships remains steady, students will have to be more creative in finding funding for summer research, she wrote. continued on page 4


Metro, 5

Opinions, 11

hops to with strapping young medicine folk and tosses tea to the high life

NEW EATS ON THAYER A new burger restaurant will open on Thayer Street this spring

SCIENTIFIC THEATER Alyssa Ratledge ’11 wants more science classes aimed at non-scientists

195 Angell Street, Providence, Rhode Island

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C ampus N EWS

“It doesn’t make sense to take away the only means of centralized communication.” — Clay Wertheimer ’10, UCS Communications Chair, on a new Morning Mail policy

MCAT tester apologizes for e-mails

news in brief

By Ben Schreckinger Senior Staff Writer

Meara Sharma / Herald File Photo

Little Jo’s will be expanded to include morning hours, coffee, cereal, juices, scones, and other pastries.

Coming soon: breakfast at Little Jo’s Daunted by the trek to the dining hall in the morning? Not enough time to wait in Blue Room lines? In perhaps just a few weeks, Little Jo’s will offer another breakfast solution. The campus retailer adjacent to Josiah’s will offer breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, said Tony Antetomaso, a Brown Dining Services retail supervisor. The new hours are scheduled to debut Feb. 23. The breakfast offerings at Little Jo’s will include coffee, cereal, juices, scones and other pastries, Antetomaso said. BDS conducted a customer survey at the end of last semester that indicated students were interested in having Little Jo’s open in the morning, wrote Jacques Larue, director of retail dining operations at Josiah’s, in an e-mail to The Herald. “The start date was tentative because we were not sure how quickly we could get these shifts filled,” Larue wrote. Sophie Fuchs ’11 was hired earlier this week to work three of the new morning shifts each week. “I have the absolute first shift,” said Fuchs, who began searching for a job with BDS at the beginning of the semester and was hired on the spot just a few days ago. ­— Sophia Li


Daily Herald the Brown

Editorial Phone: 401.351.3372 | Business Phone: 401.351.3260 Stephen DeLucia, President Michael Bechek, Vice President

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jonathan Spector, Treasurer Alexander Hughes, Secretary

The Brown Daily Herald (USPS 067.740) is an independent newspaper serving the Brown University community daily since 1891. It is published Monday through Friday during the academic year, excluding vacations, once during Commencement, once during Orientation and once in July by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. POSTMASTER please send corrections to P.O. Box 2538, Providence, RI 02906. Periodicals postage paid at Providence, R.I. Offices are located at 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I. E-mail World Wide Web: Subscription prices: $319 one year daily, $139 one semester daily. Copyright 2009 by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

The company that administers the Medical College Admission Test is contacting students who received an e-mail erroneously informing them that their exam had been canceled after several people may have missed the exam last Saturday in Warwick. A spokesperson for the testing company, Prometric, expressed regret for the confusion and said the company was reaching out to those who may have been affected. Prometric does not know how or why the e-mail was sent. The Herald reported Monday that at least four Brown students received an e-mail last Friday stating that their MCAT exams, scheduled for the following day, had been canceled. The e-mail originated from Pro-

metric, the company administering the test, and was sent to takers of all exams at Prometric’s Warwick location. An employee in Warwick referred questions to the company’s national headquarters in Baltimore. “We sincerely apologize for the mistake,” said Jodi Katz, a Prometric public relations manager reached there. “To be perfectly honest, there’s no simple way to explain it.” Katz said Prometric was contacting recipients of the message by phone and e-mail to inform them of the error. Michael Li ’10, a Brown student who originally received the false cancellation message, said he received one of those follow-up e-mails from the company on Tuesday, three days after the exam. “Clearly, since I took the test, it wasn’t a huge deal,” he said.

The Herald previously reported that three to four test-takers may have missed the MCAT in Warwick Saturday. It is unknown whether any Brown students missed the exam. “We are working very closely with (the Association of American Medical Colleges) to reach out to each individual candidate whose exam was impacted,” Katz wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to The Herald. AAMC is the organization that oversees the MCAT. Prometric is attempting to accommodate test-takers’ needs “in terms of timing,” Katz wrote. The next scheduled round of MCAT testing will take place on March 28. Li said rescheduling could negatively affect a student who had prepared to take the test Saturday. “That would really suck to have to take that in March,” he added.

UCS challenges Morning Mail policy BY Ben Schreckinger Senior Staff Writer

The Undergraduate Council of Students proposed a resolution Tuesday calling for the University to reverse its new, more restrictive policy for posting to Morning Mail. The new policy, which began in January, excludes Morning Mail announcements that advertise events in venues that hold fewer than 300 people. The 300-person minimum for events was “arbitrary,” UCS President Brian Becker ’09 said at the meeting, and several UCS members pointed out that few campus venues can accommodate that many people.

Council members added that it is smaller events that benefit most from Morning Mail’s free publicity. “The size of the venue does not determine the value of an event to the Brown community,” the proposed resolution reads in part. A straw poll of UCS members conducted last Wednesday night showed overwhelming disapproval of Morning Mail’s new policy. Faculty and staff, not students, had complained about Morning Mail’s excessive length, said UCS Communications Chair Clay Wertheimer ’10, the resolution’s sponsor. “It seemed like there was a consensus that students were against the new policy,” Wertheimer told

The Herald. “There’s certainly a lot that can be done to improve how Brown distributes information,” he added. “It doesn’t make sense to take away the only means of centralized communication.” The council will vote on the resolution at its general body meeting next Wednesday. Tyler Rosenbaum ’11, UCS academic and administrative affairs chair and a Herald opinions columnist, also announced that UCS members would be meeting with academic department chairs in the next two weeks to discuss scaling back the prerequisites that Banner requires for those departments’ courses.

Married undergrads describe obstacles continued from page 1 refused to rent to Leite, she said. She eventually found an apartment on Wickenden Street, but moved to the South Side because “rent was really really high” at her first apartment. “All the affordable places said no!” “I didn’t have a steady job, we weren’t 21, he wasn’t here,” she said. “I was doing it all on my own.” That’s because, in addition to her classes and housing search, she had another marriage-related issue to tackle — immigration. Leite lived in Brazil for two years, and she met Cassius there. Since he is not a U.S. citizen, Leite had to put together a giant scrapbook full of evidence proving their marriage was not a hoax. “I did all the immigration work during finals,” she said. “If you want to go down this path, you face a lot more obstacles than most students.” Another complication is financial aid. Adams said though Brown asked for her husband’s income information in addition to her parents’, it didn’t affect her aid package because he is also a student. “I don’t think it’s fair that they still need your parents’ info, even if they’re no longer supporting you,” she said. “Once I got married, my mom stopped supporting me financially.” Despite the difficulties, both Leite and Adams said they are more than

happy with their decision to get married. Adams said that when she had serious medical problems during high school, “Brian ended up taking care of me, skipping school so that my mom could go to work.” This went on for a few years, she said, and “he became a part of my entire family, and we all just loved him so much that there wasn’t any other option for me.” Still, staying socially connected to Brown has been a challenge for Adams, who went by her maiden name, Amy Conover, when she first came to Brown. “I’m either in class or at my apartment,” she said, adding that her husband helps her maintain a balance in her life. “He does the dishes and cooking and most of that stuff to allow me to focus on school,” she said. Leite said she and her husband “were just in love and wanted to be together.” Though it was different socially to be married, she said she didn’t mind it. “I didn’t miss out because I never wanted to be part of the sorority, partyon-the-weekend culture.” Both Leite and Adams experienced a variety of responses to the news about their marital statuses, from judgmental and negative to happy and supportive. “The weirdest reactions are from people I don’t know — like when I open my computer and have wed-

ding pictures on there, or when I’m talking to a professor or something,” said Adams, who was engaged when she came to Brown as a freshman. Many of the people in her freshman unit didn’t believe her when she introduced Brian as her fiancee, she said. Leite had similar experiences. “There have been great responses, but there have been more incredulous ‘what?’ responses,” she said. Though many people reacted negatively to the news, her freshman roommate was supportive. She even helped Leite shop for a wedding dress. “There are very very few married undergrads in any given year,” Associate Dean of Student Life Carla Hansen wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “What our office does is just what it does for students in any anomalous situation: listen to the student’s needs, and make connections and referrals, and, if need be plead the student’s case with other administrators.” Leite said though “Dean Hansen was wonderful” in assisting her and was supportive about her decision to get married, it has still been a major lifestyle change. “If I’m a full-time Brown student and single, I have resources. I have a dorm, I have meals. But if I choose to get married, then I don’t,” Leite said. “It was my decision, but I had to separate myself from Brown.”

Thursday, February 5, 2009


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“We can’t and wouldn’t insist on people staying an extra year.” — Allan Bower, professor of engineering

Canceled courses up from last year By Suzannah Weiss Contributing Writer

Qidong Chen / Herald

Revised engineering requirements will require some to change plans in order to receive their degrees.

Engin. concentrators face new requirements By Gaurie Tilak Higher Ed Editor

Changes to the requirements for the biomedical engineering concentration in the Department of Engineering have left some students frustrated. The requirements for accreditation are set by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which reviewed the biomedical engineering concentration requirements and decided that certain elective options should be made more restrictive. The change, which was put into effect this semester, presents students with a shorter list of electives from which to choose. The board officially recommends that all students complete the most updated set of requirements for their program, said Professor of Engineering Allan Bower. But the Department of Engineering is allowing its students a degree of leniency. Current seniors may still graduate following the old requirements, said Anubhav Tripathi, director of undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering. He added that while juniors are encouraged to

follow the revised curriculum, they will not be forced into it. “We can’t and wouldn’t insist on people staying an extra year,” Bower said. But current sophomores and first-years will have to follow the new guidelines, which has frustrated students who did not expect the change. Engineering students are advised to plan out their four years in advance, said Holly Lauridsen ’11, a biomedical engineering concentrator. She said revising her course plans was annoying — she had carefully planned her classes to accommodate her study-abroad plans. Though Lauridsen said the changes did not affect her course schedule this semester, she will end up having one or two fewer electives over the next two years. Additionally, the change will force her to take a concentration requirement abroad. “The new changes aren’t impossible to live with,” Lauridsen said, “but they are frustrating.” The revised curriculum has the same number of required courses as the old version, Tripathi said.

However, several elective options that were previously available have been removed. Lower-level engineering courses and courses designed for biology majors no longer count toward a biomedical engineering degree, he said. Changes in concentration requirements are not uncommon, Bower said. Last year, changes were introduced to the curricula of the civil and mechanical engineering programs. Biomedical engineering was introduced at Brown in 2004, Bower said. Since it is not as well-established as the other engineering degree programs, it required more changes than other concentrations to meet the accreditation board’s standards. Bowers and Tripathi both agreed that graduating from an accredited program has advantages for students who intend to pursue a career in their chosen field. “You don’t have to be accredited,” Bower said, “but it’s difficult to get a professional registration after graduating from an unaccredited program.”

Nearly 15.7 percent of courses initially offered this semester were canceled, according to Registrar Michael Pesta. Pesta said a “combination of things” had led to the number of cancellations and that it was “hard to say there’s one dominant factor.” Course cancellations are usually higher in the spring than in the fall because professors decide what second semester classes they will list in the Course Announcement Bulletin a year ahead of time, requiring them to make predictions about their availability far in advance, Pesta said. Last spring, 14.7 percent of classes listed in the course bulletin were canceled, meaning only about 10 more classes were canceled this time as compared to a year ago. But several years ago, course cancellations were less prevalent — only 5 percent of courses were canceled in spring 2004, The Herald reported that semester. In all, 166 courses were canceled this semester. In the fall, 106 were canceled, up from 91 the year before, The Herald reported in October. Common reasons that professors cancel courses include lack of student interest, sabbaticals, new

job offerings, illnesses and a need for fewer sections than originally thought for a particular class, Pesta said. Professor of International Studies James Der Derian canceled his senior seminar, INTL1800N: “Global Media: History/Theory/Production,” largely because he did not get the administrative support needed to fund the class, which brings in filmmakers to speak to students. “It’s a course that requires a good deal of support in logistics,” he said. “There wasn’t evidently any money available at Brown to do that.” Another factor contributing to the rise in cancellations in recent years may be Brown’s recently revised sabbatical policy, which used to allow professors to go on sabbatical after six years of teaching but now grants the privilege to any professor who has taught for three years, said Barry Connors, chair of the Department of Neuroscience. “This will increase the challenge of covering all important courses in every department,” Connors said. The department this semester had to cancel NEUR1660: “Neural Basis of Cognition,” one of the requirements for the cognitive neuroscience concentration. Connors said small, specialized continued on page 4

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“We’re still full steam ahead, all systems go.” — Ronald Vanden Dorpel MA’71, senior VP for University advancement

Fundraisers feel effects of economic woes continued from page 1 But the estimated reduction — based on an examination of recent trends — is minor, according to Vanden Dorpel, when compared to that expected by many peer schools, some of which expect 17 or 18 percent decreases from last year, he said. He said that the Office of Advancement has not yet seen large numbers of layoffs, but its workers have seen their bonuses cut. The office will wait for more data before making conclusive statements, he added. “We don’t want to make (the reduction) a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said. “We’re still full steam ahead, all systems go.” Though negative feedback from

potential donors has not been “overwhelming,” he said, the breadth of the economic downturn cannot be ignored. “We all read the newspapers,” he said. The Campaign for Academic Enrichment has raised $1.317 billion to date — over 94 percent of its $1.4 billion goal. The Office of Advancement hopes to meet that goal by June 30, though officially the deadline remains December 2010. “A campaign is a marathon, not a sprint,” Vanden Dorpel said, adding that the University is destined to “hit a wall” and struggle at points, despite “coming out of the blocks very strong.” Vanden Dorpel said that the idea

of raising the goal to $1.7 billion was “toyed” with as late as last year, though the plan was never formalized. The Office of Advancement increased its staff by 15 to 20 percent at the start of the campaign, according to Vanden Dorpel, and hopes to keep those individuals on staff even after the campaign concludes. “Reducing staff is a mistake the University made after its last two campaigns,” he said, adding that gains in fundraising revenue during campaign years need to be maintained for the University to function at a high level. “The best measures of success is how we do against all goals we have set for ourselves,” Vanden Dorpel said.

Plenty of courses scrapped this semester continued from page 3 classes are hardest to offer when professors go on leave, especially in the neuroscience department, which has 14 regular faculty members who are responsible for an abundance of classes and research. Smaller courses, however, are more likely to be canceled than core requirements for concentrations, Pesta said. “There’s more volatility in our curriculum because it’s an open curriculum, and there aren’t as many classes that the department feels that they have to offer,” he said.

Carolyn Aker ’12 felt the effects of that fact when she found out her first-year seminar, PPAI0700D: “Religion and Public Policy,” was no longer being offered. “It was disappointing because it seemed like a really interesting class,” she said. She also found it hard to have to register for a different first-year seminar when she found out at the last minute that her class was canceled, since most seminars are capped at small numbers. “I was kind of annoyed that they didn’t send out an e-mail,” she said. Peony Sze ’12 had a different at-

Thursday, February 5, 2009

titude toward the cancellation of her HISP0500: “Advanced Spanish Conversation” section, for which only four students were registered. “Now I don’t have to wake up at 8:00 every morning to go to Spanish class,” she said. “So for me, it was actually pretty good.” Some departments, moreover, opened windows at the same time they closed doors. Though five classes in the Department of English were canceled, five were added, said Professor of English Philip Gould ’83, the department’s acting chair. “We’re actually all right, I think, in terms of the final tally,” he said.

Concentration review allows departments to self-evaluate continued from page 1 council to finish between 11 and 13 reviews by the end of the semester, Krahulik said. For convenience, the concentration reviews are timed to coincide with other departmental reviews, she added. Krahulik would not say which concentrations are currently under review, but according to the original schedule, the first nine to be reviewed were Africana Studies, Cognitive Neuroscience, Comparative Literature, Education, Hispanic Studies, History, International Relations and Psychology, as well as the Theatre, Speech and Dance concentration. The task force report set a 2011 deadline for reviewing all concentrations, which could still be met, Krahulik said, adding that they should be completed in no more than five years. Krahulik called the review of a concentration a “thorough process” that extends beyond a departmental meeting with the council. Each department prepares the appropriate documentation, reviewing it with Krahulik before sending it to the other committee members, she said. “For the most part, concentrations know what their strengths and weaknesses are, so when we get to the meeting, it’s more a matter of just following up with them and seeing how they are progressing,” Krahulik said. After the meeting, the council discusses the review and makes

recommendations that Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron communicates to the departments, Krahulik said. The Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance was one of the first to have its concentrations reviewed. Rebecca Schneider, associate professor and chair of the department, said the review was welltimed because the department is undergoing dramatic modification, including introducing two new concentration tracks and officially changing its name to the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies. As part of its review, the department addressed how to better articulate its program and the links between its concentrations and University-wide goals, such as internationalization, Schneider said. “The whole thing was a really great exercise in self-examination and self-improvement,” Schneider said. “It was a fabulous thing to go through.” One of the most useful parts of the review, according to Schneider, was the opportunity to discuss how components of concentrations, such as the Department Undergraduate Group, are run in other departments. “The concentrations almost always come to us with areas they want to strengthen,” Krahulik said, adding that they seek suggestions for specific improvements. “The conversations are quite invigorating intellectually.”

UTRA expansion is critical to undergrad research, prof says continued from page 1 “The onus will be on faculty” to use grants and other external funding to pay students, Thompson wrote, adding that students could also apply to outside programs or simply volunteer. “No doubt the program, which is mar velous, is doing its best under ver y daunting times, so we just have to be realistic about this (and) get through the crisis,” she wrote. Professor of Computer Science Andries van Dam, who often uses UTRA students and describes himself as a “firm and long-term believer” in the value of undergraduate research, said he was “disappointed” by the news. “There are bound to be repercussions,” he said. “I’m hoping that in the (Campaign for Academic Enrichment) there will still be money earmarked for the UTRA program,” he said. Sima Patel ’10, who is applying for an UTRA to research the underlying causes of sepsis — a potentially deadly medical condition caused by a full-body inflammator y response — said her decision to apply was not affected by the economic downturn.

“I needed to join a lab at Brown if I wanted to be serious about writing a thesis,” she said. As for the decision to curtail expansion of the UTRA program, Patel was pragmatic. “I feel like I’m in a bubble sometimes,” she said. “I think (the decision) shows that the University is hard-struck as well.” The UTRA program has grown over the last several years to its current size, Furtado said. She said it was too early to say whether more students will apply for UTRAs this year, given that summer opportunities elsewhere could be more scarce. “Like most deadlines at Brown, you really don’t see much activity” until right before the deadline, she said. The deadline for students to apply for UTRAs is tomorrow. Furtado also said administrators are “hoping to stay on track” with initiatives to build community among students with UTRAs, like Research Thursdays, which bring in “leading authorities” to talk to students, and the Virtual Symposium, which allows students to share their projects online. Those projects are “not terribly resource-intensive,” she said.

Metro The Brown Daily Herald

“With that kind of money, we could have housed everyone who had been displaced.” — Jim Ryczek, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Page 5

After controversy, ground breaks for barracks

New burger joint coming to Thayer this spring

By Lauren Fedor Senior Staff Writer

A ceremonial groundbreaking in North Scituate on Jan. 29 marked an important milestone in a lengthy and complicated process for the Rhode Island State Police, who have been trying for at least two years to build a new, state-of-the-art headquarters. Slated for completion in less than 24 months, the 56,384-square foot facility will house administrative, detective and uniform personnel, according to a statement released by the state police last week. Construction of the headquarters, which will include a 911 call center, is likely to support nearly 100 jobs. But the lofty plans for the facility haven’t been met with unanimous excitement. Advocates for the homeless in Rhode Island are ambivalent about the process leading to the new police facility. The new headquarters will be downsized from the initial proposals, which called for them to be located in Cranston on property that earlier housed Welcome Arnold, the state’s largest homeless shelter. The state spent $3.8 million in March of 2007 to tear down the shelter, before deciding first to scale back on the police project and then to relocate the headquarters to North Scituate. Describing the $3.8 million as “wasted” money, Jim Ryczek, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, said though the state police “deserve their barracks,” the Welcome Arnold issue

Courtesy of Street Sights

Rhode Island’s largest homeless shelter was demolished to make way for a new police headquarters.

needed “better planning.” “With that kind of money, we could have housed everyone who had been displaced (by the shelter’s closing) and then some,” he said. The demolition of Welcome Arnold has been a “point of contention” between the state government and local advocates for the homeless, Ryczek said, adding that the former shelter housed 100 beds available on a “night-to-night” basis. One of Ryczek’s main concerns is that advocates weren’t included in the planning process, he said. According to him, it was only after advocates “invited themselves to the table,” proposing a plan to care for those displaced by the shelter’s closing, that the state took notice. A state police official declined to comment on the issues surrounding Welcome Arnold’s demolition and

Workers protest layoffs By Sara Sunshine Senior Staff Writer

EAST PROVIDENCE — Nearly 150 people gathered outside the Colibri Group’s former East Providence manufacturing plant Tuesday, shouting, “Yes, we can!” For these Rhode Islanders, the popular refrain had a different meaning than it did for the supporters of President Barack Obama — many in the protesting crowd were workers left unemployed by the factory’s sudden closure. Colibri — a nationally known jewelry-making firm based in Providence for 80 years — unexpectedly shut its doors on Jan. 20, leaving around 280 workers without a job, according to a Jan. 21 Providence Journal article. While some staff were notified of the closure, many Colibri employees came to work only to find the plant’s doors locked. Workers’ rights group Fuerza Laboral, which organized the demonstration, and the former Colibri employees claim that the company violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, which requires that any factory with more than 100 workers give at least 60 days notice before closing. Additionally, the employee health coverage provided by Colibri ended shortly after the closure, leaving many workers abruptly uninsured, said Donna Walker, an

metro in brief

employee who had been with the company for 21 years. Fuerza Laboral representatives said the company owes its workers 60 days of wages, health care coverage and severance pay. Reverend Duane Clinker of the Open Table of Christ United Methodist Church began Tuesday’s rally, conducted in both English and Spanish, by telling workers that in a time of economic uncertainty, “Rhode Island is looking to you” to seek justice. Clinker said though Colibri is now bankrupt and incapable of paying its workers, the company’s Manhattanbased owner — Founders Equity Inc. — should be responsible for providing their benefits as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act. Colibri owes HSBC and Sovereign Banks about $14 million each, according to the Journal article. A call to a number listed on Colibri’s Web site Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned. “With ownership comes responsibility,” Greg Pehrson, director of Fuerza Laboral, told the crowd. “(Founders Equity) must follow labor law.” Some laid-off workers also shared their experiences. “I used to be able to hold my head high (because I was a Colibri employee). … Now I’m ashamed to say I continued on page 6

directed inquiries to the governor’s office. Representatives of the governor’s office could not be reached for comment for this article. In November 2007, Gov. Donald Carcieri ’65 told the Providence Journal that “the state took the advice of the homeless advocates. … The state replaced every single bed that was available at the Welcome Arnold shelter with new beds in other, smaller facilities. In fact, we even added some beds.” But Ryczek said the replacement of beds didn’t necessarily help the nearly 200 people his coalition estimates used Welcome Arnold each month. He said it is “naive” to think that scattering an equivalent number of beds in other night-to-night shelters was the same as providing for those who used Arnold’s services. Two years later, the need for

those services continues to grow. In the last 18 months, the number of homeless Rhode Islanders has nearly doubled from 571 to 1,080, according to data released by the coalition. Moreover, since the demolition of Welcome Arnold, local advocates have realized that night-to-night shelters may not be the best way to support the state’s homeless. Ryczek said that by exploring new programs the coalition has realized that it would “never want to reopen a facility” like Welcome Arnold. Shelters are only effective at “protecting people from freezing to death,” he said, adding that closing down large shelters and replacing them with subsidies like Housing First or the Neighborhood Opportunities Program is more costeffective.

Thayer Street restaurant magnate Andy Mitrelis will soon add another eatery to his empire. The owner of Andreas, Paragon and Spats Restaurant said he will open Better Burger Company, his sixth burger shop in New England, this spring. The restaurant will open at 217 Thayer St., which earlier housed Yang’s, a fabric and gift boutique. Currently empty, the space is identified only by signs featuring a large burger and the slogan “The new kid on the block.” Mitrelis, a veteran burgermonger, said he opened his first restaurant in Connecticut in 1962. “I know the business,” he said. “I’ve been in it for 47 years.” Mitrelis said the restaurant will primarily sell burgers, but will also offer other sandwiches, pizza and breakfast food. “It’ll be very exciting,” he said. — George Miller

J A Z Z T imes T W O

Quinn Savit / Herald

The Brazilian jazz duo Minas gave a concert last night in Grant Recital Hall.

Info session tonight at 8 p.m! 195 Angell Street (between Brook and Thayer)

Page 6

M etro


Thursday, February 5, 2009

“The laws are the floor, not the sky.” — Greg Pehrson, director of Fuerza Laboral

East Prov. workers demand benefits continued from page 5 worked for Colibri, because this is not right,” said Iris Medina, who spoke in Spanish but was accompanied by a translator. “No somos basura,” she said — we are not trash. “You don’t have to be ashamed. They should be ashamed,” Rhode Island AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer George Nee later told Medina. Thanking the workers for being “willing to fight so this law means

something,” Nee said that if they won, their victory would “send a message to the rest of the country.” Many people at the demonstration said they believed that a new administration in Washington and a new political climate would help their cause. State Senator Juan Pichardo, DDist 2, said progressive Democrats and the State House’s minority caucus would support the workers. Pichardo pledged to write a letter to his colleagues about the plight of

the Colibri workers and to “CC the President.” Pehrson ended the meeting by reciting a Fuerza Laboral mantra — “the laws are the floor, not the sky.” The audience cheered and shook empty Coca-Cola bottles filled with dried nuts. Though the protest gave the workers hope, it didn’t dispel their frustration altogether. “Why do we have to fight for something that’s the law? Why do we have to beg for it?” Walker said.

Sara Sunshine / Herald

Workers laid off by jewelry-maker Colibri group demonstrated in the snow Tuesday.

SportsThursday The Brown Daily Herald

Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Page 7

s p o rt s i n b r i e f

3 hoopsters take home weekly Ivy League honors Though the Bears struggled on the courts last weekend, the Ivy League recognized two Brown hoopsters. Tri-captain Peter Sullivan ’11 was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll for his solid play in Brown’s two losses. On Friday, Sullivan scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field in a 90-58 loss to Cornell. The next night, Sullivan turned in another solid shooting performance, going 8-of-16 to finish with 18 points in a hard-fought 65-59 loss to Columbia. This season, his 14.1 points per game rank second on the Bears and sixth in the Ivy League behind Matt Mullery ’10, who averages 15.7 points per game. The women’s basketball team struggled as well, but Natalie Bonds ’10 provided strong post play for Brown, and earned Ivy Honor Roll recognition for her performance. In the Bears’ 74-62 loss to Cornell on Friday night, Bonds led Bruno with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting and also grabbed nine rebounds. The following night, in a 76-51 loss to Columbia, Bonds scored 10 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Bonds is currently second on the team with 6.9 points per game and leads the team with 5.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Last weekend, the women on the hockey team fared better than its basketball counterparts, earning consecutive wins for the first time this season, and no player was more instrumental than goalie Nicole Stock ’09. Stock, the team captain and a Herald sports staff writer, was named the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week for her exceptional performance in Brown’s wins over Quinnipiac and Princeton. On Friday night, Stock saved all 30 shots she faced, including 14 in the final period, recording her first shutout of the season in a 3-0 win for the Bears over Quinnipiac. She followed up with a 42-save performance on Saturday in a 2-1 overtime win over Princeton. — Sports staff reports

W. hockey’s Dancewicz a star on ice Give me Matsuzaka, or give me Meche By Andrew Braca Sports Editor

Jenna Dancewicz ’11 led the women’s hockey team to two wins over the weekend by tallying four points. First, she assisted on a pair of goals in a 3-0 win over Quinnipiac on Friday, before stepping up to notch both goals in a 2-1 upset over Princeton on Saturday, including the game-winner with 54 seconds left in overtime. With five goals, Dancewicz now stands in a threeway tie for the team lead.

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK The wins jump-started Bruno’s ECAC Hockey playoff hopes, leaving the team just eight points behind Rensselaer for the final slot, with seven games remaining in the season. But the Bears will face a stiff test this weekend when they hit the road to take on conference titans Dartmouth and Harvard. For her exceptional play, Dancewicz was nominated for the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week, but The Herald will do her conference one better by naming her Athlete of the Week. Herald: When did you first start playing hockey and why? Dancewicz: I started playing hockey when I was 5 years old. My brother (John) played hockey, and — I don’t really remember this — but apparently during one of his games, I went up to my mom and I was like, “Mommy, I want to play hockey,” and she was like, “Okay.” I guess she didn’t really know what she was getting herself into. So I started skating — well, I mean I knew how to skate before, but I started skating with equipment and

Justin Coleman / Herald

playing house league and just went on from there. Why did you choose Brown? I had been to Brown actually several times before actually coming here for school. I used to go to (Head Coach Digit Murphy’s) camp. She had a summer camp ... and I went there for four or five years, and I also have known Digit for a long time. I played on a summer team, and we used to go out to the East Coast and play, and she used to come to our games, and so I’ve known her for, like, six years or something. When I went to those camps, I really liked the campus, and then finally when I went on my official (visit) I really liked the team, so that’s why I chose Brown.

Do you have any superstitions? I actually am superstitious talking about my superstitions. I don’t like to tell other people what they are (laughs). I’m not that superstitious, but the things I am superstitious about I don’t like talking about. Okay, I can accept that. So, you’ve scored four goals since the team returned from winter break. Have you made any adjustments that have led to your success? Maybe just everything is coming together. I mean, I wish it had come together earlier in the season continued on page 8

Imagine you’re down to the last baseball game of the season. Win and you’re in the playoffs, lose and you go golfing Jonathan Hahn Sports Columnist instead. You get to choose one of three starting pitchers to start this pivotal game: Daisuke Matsuzaka of Boston, Tampa’s Andy Sonnanstine or Kansas City’s Gil Meche. Which starter do you pick? Your answer is probably DiceK. No hesitation. Good stuff, fierce competitor, thrives under pressure. He’s the best pitcher out of the three and it isn’t close. Right? But what if you had to pick a pitcher for the season? Who would add the most value or contribute more wins over thirty starts? Who’s the better overall performer for the season? Which starter would you want now? Let’s look at some 2008 stats: Pitcher A: 1.64 Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio (K/BB), 1.32 Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP), 38.6 Ground Ball Percentage (GBP), 18.1 Line Drive Percentage (LDP), .267 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), 4.03 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) Pitcher B: 3.35 K/BB, 1.29 WHIP, 42.1 GBP, 17.0 LDP, .312 BABIP, 3.91 FIP Pitcher C: 2.51 K/BB, 1.32 WHIP, 39.2 GBP, 22.0 LDP, .311 BABIP, 3.61 FIP continued on page 8

Page 8


S ports T hursday

“I guess I could be an enforcer.” — Jenna Dancewicz ’11, women’s hockey player

W. hockey’s Dancewicz on game-winners, hits continued from page 7

so I could have helped out the team earlier, but during winter break we had a lot of practices. That gave me time to get some extra skating in and work on my shot and work on getting the plays down and everything. We practiced every day and sometimes twice a day during winter break, so that probably really helped bring out my game. How did it feel to score the game-winning goal against Princeton? It felt really good. My coach said today we haven’t beat Princeton in (three) years, and so it was really exciting to beat them, and especially in their own barn. We really, really needed these wins to end our season on a good note and hopefully make the playoffs. Do you feel that these wins over Quinnipiac and Princeton are something that the team can really build on going into the stretch run? I think that we definitely have a big confidence boost, and I think that we can definitely build upon it for next weekend. This weekend is going to be pretty tough — Dartmouth is ranked (No. 2) in our league, and Harvard is also really up there, so

this will be a tough weekend. We had a good game against Harvard last time we played them and then not so much against Dartmouth. But I think we’re ready to keep on winning and keep our winning streak going and bring some more upsets to the ECAC. You’ve taken 15 penalties this year, the most on the team. Does that make you the enforcer? Am I the enforcer? I don’t know (laughs). Sorry, my roommate, who’s also my teammate, is laughing right now. I actually didn’t know until a few weeks ago that I was leading in penalties. I was actually surprised that I was leading in penalties, but I don’t know. There (are) a few things I need to work on, like keeping my feet moving when I’m hitting someone or something. So, I guess I could be an enforcer. I’m definitely more of a grinding player rather than, like, fancy-schmancy, so I guess that’s probably why I get more penalties. And I’m not necessarily a small kid, so I don’t know (laughs). What’s been your favorite moment from this season? From our team, our wins over Colgate and Princeton were probably my favorite moments, especially Colgate — that was a really good

Thursday, February 5, 2009

game, and it was really close. And then individually, my favorite moments were when I got my first goal versus St. Lawrence, and probably this past weekend. You all seem to do much better on the road than at home. Can you explain that? Not that Brown’s campus isn’t great or anything, but I think when we get away from campus we also put behind other things that are on our mind, like academics or whatever, so we’re able to really focus on the game and hockey and each other rather than other things. And also, we get to sleep in nice, warm, comfy beds in the hotel (laughs). So I think it’s just like, our mindset is just a lot different when we’re on the road than when we’re at home. What are your goals for the rest of the season, both individually and as a team? As a team, we obviously want to keep winning. If we win a certain amount of games, we’ll make it into playoffs, so we’re just really trying to grind out these wins in this last part of our season. And then individually, I just want to help our team keep winning, so I guess keep on scoring and keep goals out of our net, too, and just keep working hard and doing the right things at the right times.

Hahn ’10: More to pitching stats than meets the eye continued from page 7 All three look roughly the same, except that Pitcher A looks like he got lucky due to his lower BABIP. Their WHIP, GBP and LDP numbers are roughly the same, with only their K/BB ratio differing. Think of FIP (explained later) as ERA and you see that C is clearly better than B who is clearly better than A. Turns out A is Matsuzaka, B is Sonnanstine and C is Meche. That’s right, Dice-K was a worse starter than Sonnanstine (13-9, 4.38 ERA) or Meche (14-11, 3.98 ERA). I know what you’re thinking: How can a pitcher that went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season be the worst out of the group of small market pitchers you’ve never heard of? This must be a joke, right? The first thing you must know is that wins and ERA are elementar y stats to judge a pitcher’s value. Wins and ERA are highly dependent on your offense, your defense, your luck that day and even what park you play in (think Petco Park vs. Coors Field). If you get shelled for 10 runs, and your team puts up 11, you still get the win. If you leave two men on base, but your bullpen bails you out, or if you have a host of Gold Glovers playing defense behind you, your ERA is still sparkly. Thankfully, sabermetrics has provided us with more advanced stats that focus on what a pitcher can control, ignoring the defense behind him. These stats are commonly known as DIPS, or Defense Independent Pitching Statistics. Things like strikeouts, walks, home runs and ground balls induced are associated with the pitcher. Things like Derek Jeter’s inability to move to his left to get an

easy out or Grady Sizemore making a spectacular grab on the wall for an out aren’t up to the pitcher. Matsuzaka benefits from the defense behind him, which includes above-average fielders such as second baseman Dustin Pedroia, first baseman Kevin Youkilis and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Pitching is about preventing runs. These outcomes (strikeouts, fly balls, etc.) are given expected run values and then combined to determine a pitcher’s value. Outs are good and runners on base are bad. The most commonly accepted pitching statistic is FIP, developed by well-known sabermetrician Tom “Tangotiger” Tango. As seen earlier, Matsuzaka posted the worst FIP out of the three starters last season. A convenient way to think of FIP is to imagine it as the ERA a pitcher should have gotten, based solely on the factors under his control, after removing luck and defense. Would anyone have believed that two no-names would turn out to be better, and theoretically add more wins over the long haul? It may seem a silly notion, but statistically, a rotation of Gil Meches or Andy Sonnanstines would contribute more wins than a rotation of Daisuke Matsuzakas. Understanding some simple number-crunching goes a long way to finding quality pitchers more accurately, and seeing which ones are over-hyped or undervalued. So please, let’s see less Matsuzaka love and some more Meche fans on campus.

Jonathan Hahn ’10 asks, “Wait, you’re saying baseball isn’t played on an Excel spreadsheet?”

Editorial & Letters The Brown Daily Herald

Page 10 | Thursday, February 5, 2009

e d i to r i a l

Undergrads can solve TA crunch The TA shortage chronicled in last week’s Herald would be bad enough under ordinary circumstances. However, the financial crisis has made the University’s current situation anything but ordinary. These new fiscal constraints caused the University to put a freeze on graduate program expansion, a necessary move but one likely to exacerbate the current TA shortage, given that the average number of students in Brown undergraduate classes has continued to increase over the past few years. Since we can’t do anything about the University’s financial state, it may seem that the only available option is to grin and bear the unpleasant but inevitable capping of introductory lecture courses and increase in Scantron exams. We think there’s a better option. Departments should consider making use of a resource that is plentiful, cheap and capable of shouldering the TA burden: the undergraduate student body. This practice is by no means unheard of. Some departments, like economics and computer science, regularly employ upper-level undergraduate concentrators to grade or lead sections in introductory courses. However, many TA shortages occur in writing-intensive courses, which raises a new set of problems: Are undergraduates qualified to assess their peers’ writing? Do they have the depth of knowledge necessary to provide advice on formulating paper topics? Can they avoid bias toward friends, absent the constraints imposed by exam grading? These problems are not insurmountable. The success of the Writing Fellows program shows that Brown students are capable of providing useful criticism to other undergraduates. Restricting undergraduate TAs to freshman-only sections for introductory classes and requiring them to be senior concentrators focusing on the course’s specific subfield — a model similar to one used in Professor James Morone’s ever-popular POLS 0220: “City Politics” class — would go a long way toward addressing concerns about expertise and objectivity. Further, the stark separation between graduate students and undergraduates assumed in these criticisms may not be quite accurate. Advanced undergraduates who have developed specific research interests are nearly as qualified as newer graduate students to lead sections, especially when those sections cover very basic material. We’re not sure whether any of the departments lacking TAs feel the same way about undergraduate TAs. We do, however, hope they’ll consider the proposal. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to

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correction A feature article about an alum, Sandeep Parikh ’02, who produces Web videos (“TA stint launched alum’s comedy career,” Feb. 4) incorrectly stated that Parikh created the Web series “The Guild.” Parikh is a regular cast member on the “The Guild,” but the show was created by Felicia Day. C O R R E C T I O N S P olicy The Brown Daily Herald is committed to providing the Brown University community with the most accurate information possible. Corrections may be submitted up to seven calendar days after publication. C ommentary P O L I C Y The editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial page board of The Brown Daily Herald. The editorial viewpoint does not necessarily reflect the views of The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Columns, letters and comics reflect the opinions of their authors only. L etters to the E ditor P olicy Send letters to Include a telephone number with all letters. The Herald reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity and cannot assure the publication of any letter. Please limit letters to 250 words. Under special circumstances writers may request anonymity, but no letter will be printed if the author’s identity is unknown to the editors. Announcements of events will not be printed. advertising P olicy The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.

Opinions The Brown Daily Herald

Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Page 11

Prohibition BY IVY CHANG Opinions Columnist College-going smokers in Boston just got one more reason to transfer. The sale of tobacco products at drugstores and on college and university campuses has been banned there since December, thanks to the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). The Commission also extended restrictions on smoking in public — patios, loading docks, hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts have all become smoke-free zones. The ban comes on the heels of a report by state disease trackers showing that heart attack-related deaths had substantially decreased since the enactment of a four-year statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. The commission’s goal was to reduce tobacco use among youth and the poor. Since quite a few Brown students can be seen lighting up on campus, it would be interesting, to say the least, if the Boston ban inspired a similar course of action in Providence. Rhode Island state officials have already proposed increasing the cigarette tax by a dollar per pack. Fortunately, their decision has more to do with raising revenue than discouraging smoking. The commission declares that young people are “particularly at risk for becoming smokers,” and many will not be able to resist if their very own educational institutions and

nearby drugstores peddle tobacco. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the BPHC, added that the ban will ensure that young people are not “exposed to products that make them sick when they go to places like pharmacies to get well.” The commission justified the ban on the grounds that selling tobacco products goes against “the mission” of colleges and pharmacies. Colleges are meant to “educate the

The ban’s supporters misunderstand the thought process of smokers and potential smokers. Prohibitionists view the latter as completely oblivious, and thus unable to make their own choices without the help of a health commission. Current smokers must be of the “out of sight, out of mind” variety, willing to give up their habit as soon as maintaining it becomes inconvenient. The Public Health Commission was kind

The Commission justified the ban on the grounds that selling tobacco products goes against “the mission” of colleges and pharmacies... If adults cannot make informed decisions about smoking, how will they deal with the confusing array of other temptations? younger population about social, environmental and health risks and harms,” while pharmacies are supposed to dispense materials and information that contribute to well-being. By that logic, the ban should also extend to numerous other unhealthy products sold at pharmacies and universities — soda, candy bars, energy drinks and fast food, to name a few. If adults cannot make informed decisions about smoking, how will they deal with the confusing array of other temptations?

enough to give cigar and hookah bars a grace period in light of the current economic situation, but those establishments will not be the only ones affected. Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin told the Boston Globe that stores would “lose not only the tobacco sale, but those other items (smokers) also pick up on the same shopping trip.” Smokers are a rather staunch consumer presence, and the commission should know that simply banning a consumer item from a

few stores is probably the least effective way to eradicate its ill effects. Rather than quitting on the spot, smokers will simply take their money elsewhere, which won’t improve the economic situation in Boston. Considered alongside existing anti-smoking measures, the ban is downright patronizing. Apparently, advertising restrictions, required health warnings on packages, bans on smoking in public areas, the efforts of antidrug organizations and a cursory knowledge of chemistry and human anatomy are just not enough to help college students understand the adverse effects of smoking. No, a ban on tobacco products is what impressionable “young people” need to prevent them from stumbling into their local CVS and buying cigarettes instead. By adopting an “I’m just doing what’s best for you” approach, the government is overstepping its bounds. It makes sense to want to educate and protect minors from the influence of drugs and alcohol, but treating adults like children sets a disturbing precedent. College students can enlist in the Army, but are apparently unable to perform the much less life-altering task of choosing whether or not to smoke.

Ivy Chang ’10 is a human biology concentrator from Los Angeles, California. She can be reached at ivy_chang

The accessible sciences BY ALYSSA RATLEDGE Opinions Columnist I really enjoyed reading Nick Hagerty’s ’10 recent opinion column (“The liberal sciences,” Jan. 29). I couldn’t agree more with his thesis — too many humanities and social science students ignore hard sciences and mathematics once they arrive at Brown. It seems obvious that, especially as scientific advances become more and more relevant to daily life, Brown students — and society at large — would benefit from a little extra science in their lives. But I don’t think the crux of the problem is that Brown students find science irrelevant; rather, the problem is that outside of first-year seminars, there aren’t enough interesting science classes aimed at non-concentrators to make filling that fourth spot in your schedule with a hard science realistic. I speak from experience. As a public policy concentrator focusing on the intersection of technology and public policy, I have tried to find interesting classes in the physical and life science departments in order to understand the science behind technological advancements without any political or policy analysis filter. The problem for me has been how few of these classes are available. The classes Hagerty cites in his column are good examples — BIOL0200: “The Foundations of Living Systems” and GEOL0010: “Face of the Earth” are introductory classes aimed at everyone, regardless of prospective concentration. Plenty of students do take advantage of these classes when looking to broaden their academic interests. But for many Brown students, intro-

ductory classes might be too introductory. Many if not most humanities and social science concentrators have a strong existing knowledge base from several years of advanced biology, chemistry and physics in high school. Though some would love the sort of overview that BIOL0200 and its fabulous professor, Ken Miller, would give, others would rather take a class on something intriguing that builds on our existing knowledge without requiring us to be experts. The physics department makes a great example. A current first-year seminar, PHYS 0120: “Adventures in Nanoworld,” sounds like just the sort of class that would

0030: “Principles of Nutrition”and BIOL 0170: “Biotechnology in Medicine”come without any prerequisites. Both are interesting classes aimed at concentrators and non-concentrators alike, and they certainly draw a variety of students. But what about classes in genetics or infectious disease for those among us with strong interest in the topics but no plans for med school? Both are timely, important and truly fascinating topics, and they would certainly be popular with students from all backgrounds. These classes would by no means be dumbed-down versions of current courses offered to concentrators and advanced

If there were a class titled “Crazy Ideas In Modern Physics That Will Blow Your Mind,” I bet the room would overflow during shopping period. intrigue students without requiring years of physics background.But for sophomores, juniors and seniors, there’s no similar option. For an overview, we could take PHYS 0030: “Basic Physics” — though even its course description lists it as meant for “concentrators in sciences other than physics.” That’s not reassuring to students of humanities, even if we remember all the mechanics we learned in AP Physics. We see it as inaccessible; we take a philosophy lecture instead. But if there were a class titled, say, “Crazy Ideas In Modern Physics That Will Blow Your Mind,” I bet the room would overflow during shopping period. The biology department, by contrast, offers a few options for non-concentrators: beyond first-year seminars, both BIOL

students. This is, of course, the first worry when it comes to creating science classes accessible to non-concentrators — unlike literature classes, for example, science classes build on each other directly, expanding students’ knowledge base in a particular subject in order to examine more and more complex topics. That is why it’s more common for science concentrators to take a humanities class than for humanities concentrators to take a science class: students self-select based on things they know and work they can do, and humanities classes are less likely to have prerequisites than science classes. Instead, science classes aimed at nonconcentrators might be similar in format to first-year seminars, delving into a specif-

ic area of study in an intimate and non-intimidating setting. These classes would be based on the substantial amount of knowledge we have from high school and other sources. Maybe we don’t understand the intricacies of combinatorial topology, but we do know calculus, the laws of motion and thermodynamics and the premises of relativity — and we’re ready to learn how bizarre quantum mechanics can be. There’s definitely a market for these sorts of classes. Consider SCSO 1550B: “Neuroethics,” the science and society department’s only spring class.Though this is a seminar limited to 20 people, I’d estimate that more than twice that number came to the first class meeting. Many were neuroscience concentrators, true, but plenty were not — just students interested in the topic and not afraid to dive into science. The same could be said of NEUR 0010: “The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience” itself: students from all types of concentrations take it because it is a stimulating, appealing and, above all, accessible science class. There are certainly humanities and social science concentrators who don’t ever want to see a mathematical proof or chemical compound for the rest of their lives, and that’s perfectly fair. But there are plenty of us who would take advantage of the opportunity to broaden our intellectual pursuits if it were feasible — through creative, engaging science classes intended for everyone.

Alyssa Ratledge ’11 can’t decide between BIOL1000: “Deconstructing Necrotizing Fasciitis” and CHEM1212: “Blowing Stuff Up.”



Laid-off workers band together

The Brown Daily Herald

Three basketball players honored


to day

to m o r r o w

24 / 16

32 / 21

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Page 12

the news in images


5 c a l e n da r

February 5, 2009

February 6, 2009

4 P.M. — “Institutional Transformation and Women and the Sciences,” SmithBuonanno 106

6 P.M. — “Undocumented Immigrants and Higher Education,” Salomon 001

8 P.M. — “U.S. and China: Cooperation or Confrontation,” Salomon 001

8 P.M. — “Dancing with the Profs,” Alumnae Hall





Brown university ● February 5, 2009 ● Volume 10 ● issue 2


03 feature

RESCUE ME \\ allison zimmer

04 film and television

ACME VIDEO \\ drew foster UNITED STATES OF TARA-BLE\\ doug eacho

menu Sharpe Refectory

Verney-Woolley Dining Hall

Lunch — Hot Turkey Sandwich, Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic, Pasta e Fagioli

Lunch — Ginger Chicken and Pasta, Shoepeg Corn Casserole, Mandarin Blend Vegetables

Dinner — Pumpkin Raviolis with Cream Sauce, Braised Beef Tips, Rice Pilaf with Zucchini

Dinner — Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Pasta Veggie Chicken Stir Fry

05 music

WHY IM ROOTING FOR BRITNEY\\ adrienne langlois I WAS BORN TO ADORE YOU \\ eva kurtz-nelson

07 sexpertise

HANGING UP ON HOOKUPS \\ allie wollner SEX RULES \\ sam yambrovich

08 from the hill

VINNY’S ANTIQUES \\ audrey fox YOU ARE WHAT YOU DRINK \\ ted lamm & alex logan STATE OF RADIO \\ max mcfadden

crossword comics Enigma Twist | Dustin Foley

Cabernet Voltaire | Abe Pressman

The One About Zombies | Kevin Grebb

Thursday, February 5, 2009  

The February 5, 2009 issue of the Brown Daily Herald

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