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Daily Herald the Brown

vol. cxliv, no. 13 | Friday, February 6, 2009 | Serving the community daily since 1891

Grad School optimistic amid crunch

loo k ing for rede m ption

High Jinks, old and new, back on campus

By Hannah Moser Senior Staf f Writer

Members of the Graduate School community are attempting to roll with the punches in light of the campus-wide e-mail sent last week by President Ruth Simmons, announcing large-scale reductions to university expenditures. The e-mail outlined a plan to postpone “the planned growth of the Graduate School,” in reaction to the financial crisis and to “reduce expenditures, constrain expansion and limit major new obligations” for the entire Brown community. Simmons had made grad school expansion an important component of the Plan for Academic Enrichment in 2001. But in her e-mail, she wrote that she anticipates “essentially no growth in the number of doctoral students matriculating each year” and “little or no increase in the base graduate student stipend for the next few years.” Sheila Bonde, dean of the Graduate School, said before the economic crisis administrators had hoped for the increase in graduate students to catch up with faculty growth under the plan. Now, the continued on page 2

By Colin Chazen Senior Staff Writer

An unlikely group of a cappella singers — decades older than the average Brown student — gathered in Wilson Hall last night. Five alums returned to campus to help usher in a new generation of one of Brown’s oldest performance groups. After years of looking on wistfully at class reunions as former Jabberwocks joined their group’s current members in song, they would finally get their chance. The students auditioning in front of them would be part of the revival of Brown’s second-oldest all-male a cappella group — the High Jinks. Patrick Gonon ’79, joined the


In the event of an emergency, you could always make your way to the exits by feeling for the draft, said Kurt Teichert, environmental stewardship initiatives manager at the Center for Environmental Studies, pointing to the door in List 120. The comment elicited some snickers from the 50-person audience, but the statement was intended for more than just comic effect: It encapsulated one of the main messages of the three-person panel on Green Energy, that small-scale energy conser vation measures may be the most effective. In other words, those concerned about renewable energy should think about fixing that gap under the door before considering solar power, Teichert said. The event, hosted by the student environmental advocacy group emPOWER, brought together Teichert, Christopher Bull,

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

eight-person group in 1976, its second year of existence. For Gonon and other High Jinks members, the group became an essential part of their college experiences and even their careers. And though it fell apart in the early 1990s after several members graduated in the same year, it lived on in Gonon and his friends, who saw salvation in their children. “I always imagined the progeny of the original group would pick up the banner,” said Dean Ziff ’81, whose twin sons were accepted to Brown early decision this fall. “They’ve heard a lot about it over the years.” continued on page 2

Some Vitaminwater flavors contain banned substances By Mitra Anoushiravani Senior Staff Writer Justin Coleman / Herald

W. basketball hosts Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend after two home losses against Ivy rivals. See Sports, page 7

Panel emphasizes fixing the ‘gap under the door’ By Matthew Scult Contributing Writer


the Department of Engineering’s senior research engineer and Assistant Professor of Economics Sriniketh Nagavarapu to discuss environmental issues, including the benefits of new technologies and the political and economic motivations for using more renewable energy. Bull spoke about the inefficiencies of converting coal to electricity, saying “we lose over half of it along the way” to the wall socket. Part of this inefficiency comes from trying to synchronize use and demand, Bull said. Both politics and the economy, not just technology, will affect future energy use, he added. Nagavarapu discussed the possible effects of the federal stimulus package, saying the economy’s needs in the shor t term don’t necessarily make sense in the long term for renewable energy policy. “It’s not clear (that) we know what will be more competitive down the road,” Nagavarapu said. Instead of throwing money at certain technologies, Nagavarapu

said the government must create disincentives for oil use and fund basic research, and then allow the market to decide which new energies would be successful. Teichert said ver y little might be done to overcome structural and technological barriers to energy efficiency in the next six months, but added that it is possible to create more basic interventions. Training people to help weatherize homes could go a long way toward conser ving energy, he said. Teichert said he always tells people to find ways to conser ve energy before turning to alternative sources of energy. The panel also discussed largescale options, such as using more biofuels and creating a “smar t grid” that would make energy use more efficient, but the emphasis of the event was on local solutions. Rather than relying on fuel produced halfway around the globe, Bull said, the solution is to use “local resources to meet local energy needs.”

The Department of Athletics sent an e-mail to all student-athletes and coaches Tuesday informing them that some flavors of Vitaminwater, the popular flavored-water label, contain substances that are banned or “impermissible” under NCAA guidelines. Six of Vitaminwater’s 15 varieties contain common stimulants or other psychoactive chemicals that could be problematic for both the University and the student-athletes,

according to Drug Free Sport, an organization that conducts drug testing for NCAA schools. A student who tests positive for a banned substance above a certain level, according to the NCAA, loses a year of eligibility. An “impermissible” substance is one that is not banned, but is against the rules for coaches or trainers to provide to students. The flavors known as Power-C, Energy, B-relaxed, Rescue, Vital-T and Balance were all mentioned in continued on page 2

Problematic Vitaminwater flavors Flavor



Power-C Energy

taurine caffeine,* guarana seed extract

B-relaxed Rescue

l-theanine caffeine*



rooibos tea extract



* above 15 micrograms per milliliter

Arts, 5

Sports, 7

Opinions, 11

What’s your Pleasure? “Pleasure Dome” examines life inside your television at T.F. Green Hall.

A weekend at home Four Brown teams play at home this weekend, including 5-1 m. tennis.

Ruthless? Ben Bernstein ’09 criticizes the U.’s lack of transparency in the current financial crisis.

195 Angell Street, Providence, Rhode Island

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C ampus N EWS Vitaminwater flavors have substances nixed by NCAA continued from page 1

Associate Athletic Director Robert Kenneally’s e-mail to students, though only Energy and Rescue contain compounds that are banned — caffeine in both cases, and guarana seed extract for Energy. Caffeine is banned only above a level of 15 micrograms per milliliter, according to the NCAA, a mark that can be avoided with most moderate diets. Five flavors contain some amount of impermissible substances, and so cannot be provided to students. Power-C, B-relaxed and Rescue contain the psychoactive compounds taurine — found in Red Bull — L-theanine and ECGC, the active ingredient in green tea extract. Balance contains traces of glucosamine — sometimes used to rebuild cartilage or heal joints — and Vital-T has chemicals found in rooibos tea extract. Some athletic coaches have told their teams not to drink the banned flavors of Vitaminwater. But Sarah Fraser, assistant athletic director for compliance, said it was “more the responsibility of the individual student-athlete to know what they’re putting into their body.” “You really have to read the ingredients on what you eat and drink as a student-athlete,” she said. Andrew Bakowski ’11, a member of the baseball team, said he understood the rules. “We all know it’s our own responsibility that anything we’re taking is cleared and is allowed by the NCAA,” he said, “and we know that we do get tested.” He added that two years ago some members of the team were

tested for banned substances at a regional tournament. However, for student-athletes that do not anticipate making it to an NCAA-sponsored event or who are not on Division I teams, the pressure to avoid banned substances is not as great. Jamison Kinnane ’12, a member of the women’s crew team, said she did not think the banned substances in two of the Vitaminwater flavors would affect her. “I don’t think they usually test you — there is just the threat of being tested,” she said. Only the top eight girls on the team make it to an NCAA regatta, she said. Max McFadden ’11, a former member of the wrestling team, said he thought there were “a lot of banned substances being used and consumed at Brown.” Testing occurs “on such an infrequent basis that NCAA rules never really applied to the wrestlers,” he said. Vitaminwater is a subsidiar y of Coca Cola Co., a major NCAA sponsor, which maintains “a sideline presence at NCAA championships,” Kenneally wrote in his e-mail. Lindsey Raivich, a Vitaminwater spokeswoman, confirmed in an email to the Herald that two Vitaminwater flavors contained caffeine, and added that “we respect the NCAA’s rule to not offer these varieties to its student-athletes.” The NCAA has approved nine flavors of Vitaminwater for student-athlete consumption, she continued. A representative from the NCAA could not be reached for comment after multiple phone calls to the organization’s headquarters.


Daily Herald the Brown

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

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.

Friday, February 6, 2009

“These are the friendships you make forever.” — Rob Krausz ’79, High Jinks alum

Grad school ‘protective’ of students continued from page 1 Grad School will tr y to keep the number of admitted doctoral candidates stable. It is in administrative areas where Bonde said “we’re tr ying to tighten our belts.” The grad school receives approximately 7,300 applications a year, according to Brian Walton, associate dean of Finance and Administration. Bonde said the number of applications is double what it was seven or eight years ago, adding that she estimates that those feeling the impact of the financial crisis the most are those applying for admission. But even with this leveling off in admissions, a slight growth can be expected in the humanities, thanks to a $3-million endowment grant from the Andrew W. Mel-

lon Foundation. The grant will support as many as 14 additional students over the next five years, according to a university statement released in October. The gift will also allow for new interdisciplinar y seminar offerings. Though graduate stipends will not increase, the financial crisis, which has also hit other universities, is unlikely to affect Brown’s ability to attract applicants, Bonde said. The Grad School will apply for grants and seek funding from the federal stimulus package to mitigate the effects of the downturn, she added. Elena Daniele GS said she thinks current graduate students will be largely unaffected by the crisis, adding that they are guaranteed funding for their first five years at Brown.

But Daniele, who is in her second year in the Italian Studies depar tment, said graduate students could face difficulty in securing funding for summer research and could have to look for other jobs. Professor of Italian Studies Massimo Riva, who organizes summer projects, said he has not heard that support for research will decrease under the University’s cost-cutting measures. In any case, he said he can use his available research funds to pay graduate students for Web projects or other work rather than to buy a new computer for his department. Riva said he has noticed a “protective attitude” toward graduate students. “At this time I would like to reassure them that there is no reason for alarm.”

Alums reconvene for a cappella revival continued from page 1 Years of listening to grown men tell college stories about their musical exploits left a strong impression on Daniel Gonon ’12. During last Thanksgiving break, Daniel began contacting High Jinks alums and exploring the possibility of restarting the group. The alums he contacted were incredibly supportive. “They love the group so much they would do anything to have it revived again,” Daniel said. Sean Altman ’84, one of three High Jinks members who went on to start the professional singing group Rockapella, told him to think about the types of voices he wanted to include in the group and to start planning for auditions. Other alums offered to fund the group and support it in any way they could, Daniel said. “It’s nice to see the group is coming back to campus, because we had a lot of fun,” said Rob Krausz ’79, who drove up from New York to join four other former High Jinks members — Altman, Ziff, Gonon and Charlie Evett ’84, another Rock-

apella member — at the Thursday night callbacks.“These are the friendships you make forever.” Krausz works as a TV writer and producer, but music remains an essential part of his life. He wrote a musical that was performed offBroadway in 2001 and continues to get together and sing with former High Jinks members, although they no longer don their signature bow ties. “It’s almost like a musical fraternity,” he said. “You don’t forget this stuff.” For Altman, the High Jinks were the beginning of his career. For several years he sang with Rockapella, an a cappella group that regularly performed on “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” and recorded the show’s theme song. He still sports his complimentary jacket from the children’s TV show. “I was really sad that the group went out of existence,” said Altman, who continues to sing professionally and regularly returns to Brown for class reunions. “It’s just poetic that it’s a son of one of the original High Jinks (who is reviving the group).”

Though demand for a cappella groups continues to outstrip the number of slots, not everyone will be happy about the High Jinks revival, said Alex Bachorik ’10, the a cappella czar and leader of Intergalactic, the governing body that arranges concerts and organizes member selection. Intergalactic will vote next week to decide whether to admit the High Jinks, Daniel said. “The boys’ groups in particular will have to make room,” she said. “There’s a very good-natured competition for members.” Over 15 students auditioned for the High Jinks, though the group is seeking only five new members, Daniel said. Joe Bobvoskie ’10 said he doesn’t like a cappella groups and previously was not interested in joining one. But Daniel, who sings with him in the Brown Chorus, piqued his interest with talk of reviving a group whose music centered on barbershop tunes and strong voices. “I had never heard of the High Jinks before,” Bobvoskie said. “It’s a part of the school, it’s just a forgotten part.”

Friday, February 6, 2009


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“That projector is a monster.” — Melissa Diaz ’10, on Wilson 102’s renovations

Classrooms get revamp over break

news in brief

SDS holds Corporation ‘teach-in’

By Matthew Varley Higher Ed Editor

Classes meeting in Wilson Hall 102 this semester have brand-new seats and a cutting-edge audio-visual system, thanks to a major renovation over winter break. This, and more subtle improvements were conducted across campus prior to the start of spring semester. A “classroom task force” implemented the first stage of a $4.5-million renovation initiative this winter, Vice President for Facilities Management Stephen Maiorisi wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. The budget includes $1.8 million for lecture halls, $900,000 for new furniture and $1.5 million for “new or upgraded instructional technology,” he wrote. The budget also includes $300,000 for “enhanced technology pilot projects,” a category that encompasses “intelligent white boards, lecture capture, video conferencing and podium computers,” Maiorisi wrote. Wilson 102 is the poster child for the recent renovations. In addition

Qidong Chen / Herald

Renovations to Wilson 102 include new carpeting, seat upholstery and a projector system. to new carpeting, window coverings and upholstered seats, the lecture hall was outfitted with an EIKI Widescreen Powerhouse Projector. An oversized screen installed for the projector retracts into the ceiling, allowing the room to be transformed from a classroom to a movie theater and back again. “That projector is a monster,” said Melissa Diaz ’10, a student in POLS 1450: “Political Economy of Development,” which meets in the classroom. Aaron Wee ’10, who is taking the same class, said he was also impressed by the upgrades to Wilson 102. “It sure beats the old

one,” he said. Assistant Professor of Political Science Melani Cammett, who teaches the class, said she was pleasantly surprised by the improvements. “It’s beautiful,” Cammett said, adding that the new technology, which includes a touch-screen remote, is “very user-friendly.” Three other classrooms in Wilson — 106, 206 and 306 — were upgraded with 63-inch plasma screen televisions. Other classrooms in Wilson and Barus and Holley got a fresh coat of paint over break, while carpets in Hunter Laboratory and Orwig Music Library were steam-cleaned,

according to Maiorisi. Two basement classrooms in Sayles Hall were both painted and steam-cleaned, and a number of rooms around campus had room-darkening shades installed, he added. A “lack of comfortable flexible seating with adequate work space” and inadequate audio-visual equipment are among the priorities for the classroom task force, according to Maiorisi, adding that 191 classrooms on campus were photographed, evaluated and rated for upgrade priority. Technology upgrades will continue through this semester and into the summer, Maiorisi wrote.

Singers gain footing in shaky economy By Lauren Fedor Senior Staf f Writer

As the economy continues to suffer, Brown’s a cappella groups have faced challenges and new opportunities. Though one group has begun to rely on fundraising instead of paid gigs, another is capitalizing on the economic downturn and expanding its clientele. Because the Brown’sTones, founded in 1992, are one of the newer groups on campus, they do not have the same kind of financial support from alums that other campus organizations have, Danielle Crumley ’12, one of the Brown’sTones’ business managers, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. To earn money, some members of the group have taken on shifts at campus eateries like the Gate, Crumley wrote. The funds will go toward group activities, including their upcoming tour of several East Coast colleges. As a result, “it’s not up in the air” whether they can afford to go on tour, said Taylor Gobar ’11, the group’s other business manager. Proactive measures like working for Brown Dining Ser vices are not the only thing ensuring the Brown’sTones’ financial security. As a result of the economic climate, Gobar said clients are planning events “way more in advance.”

In the past, the girls would be contacted to sing at the last minute for off-campus gigs, Gobar said. But now, she said, most clients are planning their events months ahead of time. Gobar said clients — especially those in the Brown community — used to ask up-front how much the group charged for performances. Now, fewer clients inquire about the fee and the girls have to mention it to ensure they are paid, she said. But though the group may have fewer off-campus performances in the future, no one has yet cancelled an event for financial reasons, Gobar said. Though the economy may be making things tight for the Brown’sTones, the Brown Derbies say they are benefitting from the changing economic climate. Amos Budde ’10, the Brown Derbies’ business manager, said clients who would otherwise book a professional musician are now turning to the Derbies, who are a less costly option. In fact, the demand for the Derbies is now so great that the group has turned away some performance requests, Budde said. “We’re not really that expensive to have,” he said, adding that word-of-mouth has “really kept us going.” But the group still faces continued on page 4

Janine Cheng / Herald

Roughly same number of students studying abroad by Andrew Sia Contributing Writer

The number of students studying abroad this semester is consistent with previous years, despite the economic downturn and a new policy requiring students to pay full Brown tuition. Though this semester’s enrollment of 254 students is down from last spring’s record 315, overall participation has gone unchanged, said Kendall Brostuen, director of International Programs and an associate dean of the College. During the fall of 2007, 213 stu-

dents studied abroad, while 212 studied abroad last fall, Brostuen said. Previously, students wishing to study abroad were required to pay full tuition if they were attending Brown-sponsored programs. Other wise, they paid only the costs of their study abroad institution. Now, students must pay full Brown tuition for all programs, including Brown-approved alternative programs and petitioned alternative studies. The new policy was approved in 2005, and the class of continued on page 4

Students for a Democratic Society held a “teach-in” last night in Petteruti Lounge, breaking down recent developments in University governance in an attempt to increase awareness among group members and the general student body. Various presentations profiled five members of the Corporation, discussed details of Brown’s financial aid policy, highlighted points from President Ruth Simmons’ Jan. 27 e-mail to the community about the University’s financial situation and gave a history of the Corporation and student protests at Brown. “The point was to show what we’ve been figuring out about who the Corporation is, what interests they represent and what that means for how students have control over the decisions that affect them,” said SDS member Nathan Bergmann-Dean ’12. About 30 students attended the meeting and the discussion that followed, many of whom expressed discontent with the perceived lack of student accessibility to higher level decision-making. Multiple presenters criticized specifics of proposed budget cuts and spending plans, suggesting that money could be better used. “There are 200-plus years of tradition of student protest at Brown,” said SDS member William Lambek ’09. “We are not alone, this is nothing new.” A significant number of students who were not SDS members were in attendance, and the group encouraged those students to attend the next meeting, according to BergmannDean. SDS has not begun discussions of whether it will protest at the next meeting of the Corporation, Feb. 19 through 21, BergmannDean said. — Brigitta Greene

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A cappella groups get ‘creative’ during downturn continued from page 3 occasional challenges, Budde said, explaining that the Derbies have “had to be a little more creative when it comes to looking” for some paid gigs. In the past, the group has relied heavily on regional alumni events, performing at functions held at Brown Clubs around the country. But this year, alumni groups have had to cancel their events

with the Derbies “pretty frequently,” Budde said. Jennifer Ketay, assistant director for Clubs and Associations for Alumni Relations, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that clubs are continuing to have the same number of musical groups perform at their events as in the past. “We are not aware of cancellations or of any diminished interest in having the groups perform,” she wrote.

Friday, February 6, 2009

“We’re not really that expensive to have.” — Amos Budde ’10, Brown Derbies business manager news in brief

Morning Mail to reform policy in response to criticism Weeks after a new policy rejecting event listings in venues that hold less than 300 people drew harsh campus criticism, Morning Mail will “make internal changes” to make the service more inclusive, according to this morning’s edition. “We regret the challenges that the change in policy pre-

sented to members of the community,” read a note at the top of today’s Morning Mail listing. “Clearly, Morning Mail’s evolution to include events has served a large portion of the community well.” The letter briefly outlined plans to make “subtle” changes to the system over the next week “that will respond to

readers who found Morning Mail too long and too cluttered, and still allow campus groups to distribute notices of events.” In the meantime, the letter stated, Morning Mail “will begin immediately accepting event notices.” — Herald staff reports

Students undeterred by study abroad costs continued from page 3 2010 is the first affected. “It feels like being robbed,” said Leticia Marquez ’10, whose finances have been affected by the recession. But Marquez said she still plans to study abroad in Costa Rica next year. The University has begun to institute more opportunities for students to study abroad over the summer, which may partly explain the lower enrollment this spring, Brostuen said. The number of students opting

to spend an entire year abroad has also been declining for the past ten years, he said, hesitating to attribute this decrease to the economic crisis. The reason could be that more semester-long programs are offered than yearlong ones, he said. Regardless of destination or length of time spent abroad, students can use their financial aid awards toward studying abroad, Brostuen said, adding that he would like all students to be able to study abroad with programs that best fit them.

“Cost should not be a primary factor,” he said. Student attitudes appeared to be consistent with this philosophy. Ivayla Ivanova ’11 said she feels it is important to study abroad regardless of cost in order to experience other cultures firsthand and to see how foreign communities are dealing with the financial meltdown. Ivanova, who plans to study in Denmark next year, said her program will cost the same as it would have before the new tuition policy took effect.

Arts & Culture The Brown Daily Herald

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Page 5

Spivak (re)envisions ‘global humanities’ By Stephanie Pottinger Contributing Writer

In the course of a wide-ranging speech Wednesday, eminent literary theorist Gayatri Spivak decried the “thousands of years of cognitive oppression” imposed on marginalized populations and urged the humanities towards a heightened awareness of these issues. Spivak’s talk to a packed Pembroke Hall inaugurated the new Global Humanities Initiative’s lecture series, “Towards a Global Humanities.” Author of the seminal essay “Can The Subaltern Speak?” Spivak has contributed to the intellectual fields of feminism, Marxism and deconstructionism. She currently holds the post of university professor and director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia. Introducing Spivak, Chair of Africana Studies Barrymore Bogues described her dedication to “not only new knowledge, but acting within the world.” He told the crowd that the Initiative had unanimously chosen Spivak “without any sort of discussion at all” as the scholar most fit to kick off the series. Spivak’s extensive and groundbreaking work in postcolonial and feminist studies and her dedication

to unyielding critique made her “the perfect voice” for the series, Cogut Center for the Humanities Director Michael Steinberg told The Herald. Steinberg said the Global Humanties Initiative does not aim to “export our knowledge to other places in the world.” Rather, the Initiative — which has thus far developed exchanges between Brown students and scholars in Havana and Nanjing, China, along with an Africana lecture series — recognizes that knowledge takes different forms and resides everywhere. “One of the functions of humanities is critical,” Steinberg said, adding that the nascent field of global humanities, which seeks to make the field more interdisciplinary and transnational, must criticize itself in order to avoid the colonialist mistakes of the past. Entitled “The Stakes of World Literature,” Spivak’s talk, which drew heavily on the writings of Marx, Goethe, Antonio Gramsci and Paul de Man, explored the possibility of a world literature and what that literature might encompass, while addressing issues of knowledge production, gendering, globalism and the humanities’ role in each of these areas. After a spirited beginning, engag-

Kim Perley / Herald

Literary theorist Gayatri Spivak delivered the inaugural talk for the Global Humanities Initiative’s lecture series.

ing the crowd and referencing the trajectory and transformation of her own approach, Spivak was quick to assert that an adequate definition of world literature has yet to be formulated. World literature, as such, will be more of a dynamic process than a concrete body of work, she said. Throughout her lecture, Spivak parsed and synthesized the works of many theorists, complicating their views and offering several caveats to the global humanities project. Importantly, she warned that the West has a tendency to conceive “creation and innovation as its own cultural secret” while treating other groups

PW’s ‘Pleasure Dome’ a trip by TV By Caroline Sedano Senior Staff Writer

Most people have sat down on the couch, turned on the television and flipped through as many channels as the TV has to offer in an endless cycle of entertainment options. What awaits the viewer is anything imaginable — front-row seats at a sports game, outer space, sharks or the latest celebrity scandal. When channel surfing, really anything is possible. That is the same feeling one gets while watching “Pleasure Dome,” a play “devised and written” by Hillary Dixler ’08, David Harrington ’08.5 and Andrew Starner GS, and directed by Harrington and Starner. The play, or “paratheatrical production” as the creators call it, is presented by what they call System of a Meaning, a group developed by Starner and Harrington, and produced through Production Workshop. With no narrative continuity and no consistent characters, the production, running around ninety minutes, is composed of many short scenes set both inside and outside a giant television screen. The show includes a quirky mix of performance art and soap opera-style scenes, like pseudoadvertisements for a beach vacation and a newscast about the Vietnam War to someone pretending to eat a pile of video tape. Abby Schreiber ’11, who acts in the play, said the show is meant to evoke the strangeness of the TVwatching experience.

“You never know what you are going to get,” Schreiber said. “It can be kitschy or really bizarre, but regardless of what you are watching, even if it seems monotonous, you are transfixed.” The play begins with all of the female characters sitting in folding chairs in a semi-circle around a blank TV. One of the actresses gets up and begins pounding on the TV, proclaiming it to be broken, and all of them scoot their chairs in until their noses are almost touching the screen. Ultimately, they throw the

REVIEW TV to the ground and loudly drag it offstage. The scene changes and, with a flurry of movement, one of the actresses becomes a talk show host interviewing a celebrity who cannot identify herself. “I’ve changed who I am at least three times since I woke up this morning,” she says with a highpitched giggle. Throughout, the play questions issues of reality and identity, with the actors continuously taking on the roles of recognizable television types. The directors are positioned on stage in a sort of editing table and give the actors direction and accolades. The play’s real-life stage manager jumps out of her seat to help oversee what is happening on stage during the production. Harrington said he sees television as a place where “meaning and non-

meaning become fused.” According to the production team, the play was inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sydney Lumet and David Cronenberg, as well as the upcoming digitization of television broadcast or, as Starner called it, the “approaching apocalypse.” After “Pleasure Dome” was cast in December, Harrington and Starner sent each cast member home for break with a 50-page reader composed of a variety of texts that inspired the play. Upon returning to Brown, the actors and directors spent the next three weeks working together to generate the final production, all the while “training our bodies and minds to inhabit a television,” Starner said. While the show itself is quite odd, what is most striking are the costumes. All twelve members of the ensemble cast were decked out in 1970s style bright colors, highwaisted pants, gold neck chains, ascots, loud prints, velvet pants and knee socks. The most reasonable attitude for a viewer of “Pleasure Dome” is not to worry so much about what it all means, but instead to sit back, relax and enjoy what Starner calls “the playfulness and the joyful banality of turning on the TV.” “Pleasure Dome” runs Fri. through Mon. in T.F. Green Hall, with performances at 8 p.m. and midnight Fri. and Sat., and 8 p.m. Sun. and Mon.

as uncritical products of their own cultures. Spivak closed the lecture by emphasizing that, despite the failings of the humanities, the field remains integral to the resuscitation of the arts. She argued that the only hope of reclaiming the arts “from the investment circuit” lies in the painstaking work of criticism and support that the humanities undertakes. Addressing the lecture’s relevance to Brown students, Steinberg stressed that, like the decision-making that goes into the construction of a discipline, the fashioning of one’s own curriculum is an inherently political

project. The question that emerges from modeling a curriculum, Steinberg said, should be, “How do you increase knowledge but also take responsibility for the way knowledge is organized?” Spivak’s lecture certainly gestured toward this same question, and reminded students that, as Steinberg put it, “the decision is conscious, not an ivory tower situation.” Hopeful for the continued relevance of the field, Steinberg suggested that the humanities, with the importance they place on critique, may serve as “the key to the university, as its conscience.”

SportsWeekend The Brown Daily Herald

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

Ski teams head back to N.H. this weekend The Bears had a busy weekend on the slopes of New Hampshire. On Saturday Kia Mosenthal ’12 won the MIT Carnival Giant Slalom, held at Loon, topping the field with a two-run combined time of 1:46.67. Emily Simmons ’12 followed in ninth place with a total time of 1:50.62, Anna Bengtson’s ’09 time of 1:51.64 earned her a tie for 15th place, Elisa Handbury ’10 finished her runs in 1:54.30 to take 31st and former Herald Staff Writer Susan Kovar ’09 finished in 68th place in a total time of 2:59.91. Mosenthal followed up with a second-place finish in the UMass Carnival Slalom, held at Pat’s Peak, in a two-run time of 1:44.69. Simmons followed in 31st place with a total time of 1:55.41, Handbury posted a time of 1:58.81 to finish 38th, Bengtson struggled on her second run to finish 63rd in a time of 2:36.69 and Kovar placed 69th in a total time of 3:14.34. The Bears will be back in action today and tomorrow at the Boston College Carnival at Wildcat Mountain, N.H.

4 teams to play host on weekend By Andrew Braca Sports Editor

Four Bruno teams will host home games this weekend to kick off the Athletic Department’s Second Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Week. Proceeds from the games will go to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. The men’s tennis team (5-1) will begin a busy Friday at the Erickson Athletic Complex when it hosts Marist at 5 p.m. in the Pizzitola Center. Two weekends ago, the Bears swept four opponents at home, including a 5-0 win over Boston University in the first-ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Tennis match. Women’s basketball (3-15, 1-3 Ivy League) will continue the action at Pizzitola with two games in two days. The Bears will host Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday, with both games at 7 p.m. Bruno will look to bounce back from a pair of losses to Cornell and Columbia last weekend as they complete a five-game homestand. Men’s hockey (2-15-4, 2-10-3 continued on page 8

Squash teams take it to Yale and Cornell The women’s and men’s squash teams both lost to Williams on Wednesday in Williamstown, Mass. The No. 10 women’s team dropped a close match to the No. 8 Ephs, 6-3. Nikoo Fadaifard ’12 at No. 5, Kali Schellenberg ’10 at No. 6 and Charlotte MacMillan ’09 at No. 8 each won lengthy 3-2 matches. The No. 14 men’s team had less luck against the No. 10 Ephs, falling 8-1. Patrick Davis ’10 picked up Bruno’s only win, sweeping his opponent, 3-0. Alex Heitzmann ’10 pushed his opponent to the brink, taking the match to a fifth game, which he narrowly lost, 10-8. Both teams will hit the road this weekend to face Yale on Saturday and Cornell on Sunday. — Sports staff reports

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Friday, February 6, 2009 | Page 7

NBA’s unsung heroes By Benjy Asher Spor ts Editor

Justin Coleman / Herald

The women’s basketball team is hoping to rebound from two losses last weekend with games against Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.

With the NBA All-Star game coming up next weekend, I present my list of less-than-obvious game changers, players who have been under the radar this season but have shown themselves to be among the best competitors in the NBA. Jose Calderon, guard, Toronto: With his team at 19-32, second worst in the Eastern Conference, it is easy to overlook Calderon’s accomplishments this season, but he has quietly established himself as one of the league’s top point guards. As of Feb. 5, Calderon is fourth in the league with 8.5 assists per game and boasts a 4.18 assist/turnover ratio, leading all starting point guards in that categor y (second is Chris Paul, at 3.56.). Though his scoring average is a modest 13.0 points per game, Calderon is clearly one of the most efficient pecontinued on page 8

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Friday, February 6, 2009

S ports W eekend

Some ‘game-changers’ go overlooked continued from page 7 rimeter players in the NBA, with a .499 field goal percentage, a .446 three-point field goal percentage and an astounding .988 mark from the free-throw line. Jason Kidd, guard, Dallas: With his scoring average at a mere 8.9 points per game, a career low, it is understandable that Kidd, a nine-time All-Star, did not receive a tenth selection this year. His assists average, at 8.3 per game, is down from his career average of 9.2, but by many other measures, Kidd is as good as ever. Second in the league with 2.2 steals per game, trailing only Paul, Kidd will make a strong case for a tenth career selection to the NBA All-Defensive team, and with 6.4 rebounds per game, Kidd continues to solidify his standing as one of the best rebounding point guards in NBA histor y. His field goal percentage is at a career-high of .417, and he is matching his career-low with just 2.4 turnovers per game. For a point of comparison, in the 2001-02 season, when Kidd finished second in MVP voting, his assist/turnover ratio was 2.83, compared to 3.40 this season, and he shot just 39.1 percent from the field. While Kidd, who will turn 36 in March, is not as dynam-

ic a playmaker as he used to be, on a team with explosive scorers like Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terr y, Kidd provides exactly what such a team needs to win: smart, facilitative play on the offensive end, tough rebounding and relentless defense. Stephen Jackson, guardfor ward, Golden State: Following the depar ture of point guard Baron Davis at the end of last season and an injury to shooting guard Monta Ellis, who has missed all but seven games this season, Jackson has become the primar y playmaker for the Warriors, and he currently leads the team in scoring, assists and steals. Jackson is one of the more durable players in the NBA, averaging 39.9 minutes per game, second in the league. Though his team has struggled to a 16-34 record, Jackson has made the most of his minutes, matching his career high with 20.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while setting new career highs with 6.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. David Lee, center, New York: At 21-27, the Knicks are just two wins shy of their victor y total from last season, and Lee has been a major part of their improvement. After mostly coming off the bench for his first three

seasons, Lee has become a consistent force in the Knicks’ starting lineup. He has established himself as a legitimate scoring threat, averaging 15.9 points per game (up five points from his average last season), including two 30-point games. Lee has continued to build his reputation as one of the toughest players in the league on the boards, as he is currently fourth in the NBA with 11.7 rebounds per game. His consistency is virtually unmatched — his 37 doubledoubles rank second in the NBA, behind only Dwight Howard, who has 38. Marcus Camby, center, Los Angeles Clippers: Yes, he plays for L.A.’s “B” team, but by the numbers, Camby is one of the best big men in the league. With averages of 13.0 rebounds and 2.48 blocks per game, both second in the NBA behind Howard, Camby actually makes a strong case for the All-Star team but was passed over for players on more competitive teams, like the Suns’ Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers’ Pau Gasol. Though his team looks weak, Camby is doing his part and will once again be a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award, which he won two years ago.

Justin Coleman / Herald

Men’s hockey will host Dartmouth on Friday before leaving for Andover, Mass., on Saturday to play Merrimack.

Charitable, busy weekend for Bruno continued from page 7 ECAC Hockey) will also face Dartmouth on Friday at 7 p.m. in Meehan Auditorium before travelling to North Andover, Mass., to face Merrimack on Saturday. The Bears will attempt to right the ship after enduring a pair of 5-1 losses to Quinnipiac and No. 9 Princeton last weekend. The gymnastics team will close out the weekend by hosting Bridgeport

on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Pizzitola Center. The meet comes after Bruno defeated West Chester but suffered losses against Southern Connecticut, Towson and Penn, and Lilly Siems ’12 was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week. Breast Cancer Awareness Week will continue when squash hosts Tufts on Tuesday and wrap up with four women’s hockey and men’s basketball games next Friday and Saturday.

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Senators seek to cut stimulus by $100 billion By Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan coalition of senators withheld support Thursday for President Obama’s economic recovery package, leaving the scope and timing of his first major initiative in doubt as they sought to cut more than $100 billion from the legislation. Despite growing concerns from Republicans and Democrats about the cost of the plan, senators did not reach agreement on which programs to trim. Instead, as the chamber has debated the bill this week, its cost has grown by almost $40 billion, with the tab now at more than $920 billion. Senate leaders had hoped to vote on the measure Thursday, but after a series of meetings among nearly 20 senators did not yield a deal, the negotiators agreed to continue talking. Majority Leader Harry Reid, DNev., said that he would allow the centrist, bipartisan group to continue working and that, if it reaches consensus, he will schedule a vote for Friday on final legislation. If that fails, he will call for a rare Sunday session for a key procedural vote that would require 60 votes for passage. Senate approval would lead to a House-Senate conference next week, when congressional leaders would try to work out differences, with the goal of sending a compromise bill to Obama’s desk before Presidents’ Day, Feb. 16. But the fate of Obama’s stimulus plan, designed to stem the nation’s recession by saving more than 3 million jobs, remains unclear. Despite the president’s personal lobbying campaign, the number of Republicans committed to working in the bipartisan group appeared to be shrinking as the day went on, leaving congressional Democrats a few votes shy of the 60 they need. “It’s very difficult, because everyone has certain pet programs in this bill,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the leader of the Republican faction in the bipartisan group. “We’re trying to focus it on spending that truly helps stimulate the economy. People have different views on whether or not a program meets that test.” Collins is one of three Senate Republicans whom Obama hosted at the White House this week for one-on-one sessions in an attempt to win their support. She told reporters Thursday that he agreed to her effort to reduce the overall cost of the package to $800 billion. That would require dramatic reductions in funding for popular items such as school construction and special education. “Our original figure was roughly in the 800 range,” Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday. “There have been some changes to our framework both in the House

and in the Senate, but that’s, I think, the scale that we need to deliver for the American people.” Obama made the case for the stimulus plan at a meeting with Energy Department employees, then flew to Williamsburg to try to shore up support among House Democrats gathered there for their annual retreat. Some House Democrats have become concerned with efforts in the Senate to remove as much as $100 billion from the legislation they approved last week. But a critical group of fiscally conservative House Democrats announced their support for the push, led by Collins and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., to pare the measure. The House approved an $819 billion package last week, but the Senate has added more than $100 billion in tax cuts to its version of the legislation, which started at about the same figure as the House measure. Efforts to reduce the cost of the Senate bill are not focused on those tax cuts, but on parts of the more than $550 billion in spending that House and Senate Democratic leaders originally sought. When the centrist negotiations started Wednesday, Republican moderates hoped to lower the bill’s total to $650 billion. But as the Senate cost climbed, that quickly appeared unattainable. By mid-morning Thursday, the goal for many in the group had settled at about $800 billion. Two sticking points for Republicans were funding for school construction and Head Start, both viewed as worthy programs but not ones that would provide a sufficient boost to the economy. “I love schools. I love children,” said Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, a GOP participant in the negotiations. But the measures “don’t belong in this bill,” he said. Senate Republicans such as Martinez, George Voinovich of Ohio and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska appeared to dig in against a final figure as high as $800 billion. “Time is running short,” Martinez said. Nelson and Sen. Evan Bayh, DInd., another participant in the meetings, are among several Democrats who have not endorsed the original legislation because, they said, some of the programs would do little to create jobs. Still, top Democrats say that, ultimately, they are likely to support Obama. Even if Reid were to get all 58 votes from his Democratic caucus, he acknowledged Thursday that he needs the votes of “two Republicans of goodwill.” The legislation could rest in the hands of Obama securing the votes of the two Maine senators — Republicans Collins and Olympia Snowe — and every Democratic vote, including that of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Kennedy, who has brain cancer, has not returned to the chamber since having a seizure during Obama’s inaugural ceremonies more than two weeks ago.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Page 9

Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post

Rwandan militiamen, with women and children in tow, surrender en masse in the Congo.

Rwandan militiamen surrender, head home By Stephanie McCrummen Washington Post

GOMA, Congo — With their wives and children, the Rwandan militiamen are arriving from the bush here in eastern Congo by the truckload. Skinny and tired, they have voluntarily surrendered their weapons and say they are ready to go home. “The international community has set plans to help us surrender, so we decided to go back to Rwanda,” said Antoine Uwumukiza, who fled across the border to Congo 15 years ago along with hundreds of thousands of other Rwandan Hutus and was waiting here the other day in a dirty white tent to be repatriated. “We’ve heard people say, ‘In Rwanda, there is a good government,’ and we have decided to go see if it’s propaganda.” A potentially brutal joint Congolese-Rwandan military operation underway across these lush hills is aimed at forcibly disarming the estimated 6,500 Rwandan Hutu militiamen who organized in Congo after the genocide in their country in 1994, when Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. At the same time, growing numbers of the fighters — many of whom were only boys when they fled Rwanda — are choosing to lay down their weapons and volunteer for repatriation as part of a long-standing U.N. operation to peacefully entice the militiamen and their families out of the bush. But as the numbers swell for the first time in years, the United Nations is struggling to keep up. “We have responsibility without the means — we need transport, more tents, more helicopters, more food,” said one U.N. official with the program, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “It’s not happening fast enough.” Human rights groups have expressed alarm about the joint military operation, saying that more emphasis should be placed on peaceful alternatives to disarming the Hutu

militia known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, or FDLR, as well as on protecting the tens of thousands of civilians who live among the militiamen in camps and villages. But the arrival of an estimated 7,000 Rwandan troops to hunt the FDLR fighters in eastern Congo came as a surprise to the U.N. peacekeeping mission here, the largest in the world. The mission has drawn sharp criticism in the past for failing to protect civilians during rebel advances and military operations, such as a separate one now underway in northeastern Congo targeting Ugandan rebels known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. In that instance, the rebels retaliated with the slaughter in late December of more than 600 civilians in three villages. U.N. peacekeepers were caught flatfooted by the operation and the deadly response to it, not reaching the villages until several days after the killings. With Rwandan troops now approaching FDLR positions, some of the militia’s leaders have threatened to “do an LRA.” Meanwhile, Rwandan and Congolese military officials are only just beginning to share vital information with aid groups and U.N. agencies dealing with displaced villagers so that they can prepare humanitarian corridors and other means to allow trapped civilians to escape. “Let’s be honest: We are not there in the field,” said a U.N. official who did not want to be named criticizing his own agency, the office of the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. “There is very little cooperation right now. How can we create humanitarian corridors when we don’t know where the operations are taking place? We are preparing, but blindly.” There is slightly more cooperation between the joint military operation and the U.N. demobilization teams, whose members work almost like spies deep in the bush to orchestrate the secret exit of fighters who are ready to leave but feel intimidated

into staying by commanders. For now, the teams are doing what they can with limited resources, setting up two additional “welcome centers” in areas where the military operations are taking place, dropping leaflets — “You still have a choice!” one reads — and broadcasting radio messages in FDLR areas encouraging fighters to leave. About 25 militia leaders, now entrenched in eastern Congo’s lucrative mining industry, are wanted by Rwandan authorities for participating in the 1994 genocide. But many of the militiamen were teen-agers then and would qualify for amnesty in Rwanda. A small military team from the United States is in the region and is expected to assist with psychological operations aimed at FDLR fighters. U.N. officials say the U.S. government could also help by arresting Rwandan militia leaders who, according to Rwandan and U.S. officials, are now living and working in the United States. Other top leaders live in Germany and France, Rwandan officials say. “One of the keys to getting these fighters to surrender peacefully is to break the leadership,” said Bruno Donat, who heads the demobilization program. “We have to separate the leaders from the rank and file.” Rwandan authorities have asked the United States to arrest JeanMarie Vianney Higiro, a professor at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., and Felicien Kanyamibwa, who was recently working for Hoffmann-La Roche, a pharmaceutical company based in Nutley, N.J., according to an October 2008 letter from the Rwandan government to U.S. officials. Higiro and Kanyamibwa are accused of financing the militias and being “politically responsible” for war crimes committed in eastern Congo. The letter also names five Rwandans wanted for participating in the genocide. “Instead of being apprehended,” the letter states, “the FDLR leaders are walking scot-free, employed in the U.S.”

Commentary & Letters The Brown Daily Herald

Page 10 | Friday, February 6, 2009

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Blue State is something all Brown students can enjoy To the Editor: In response to last week’s editorial (“Blue State Blunder,” Jan. 27): We at Blue State Coffee always appreciate the thoughtful coverage provided by The Brown Daily Herald, and we welcome and take seriously the criticisms of last week’s editorial “Blue State Blunder.” The slogan on our next batch of cups has a more politically-neutral message. At the College Hill Cafe, we will expand upon our commitment to

environmental sustainability, philanthropy and contributing to the local community in a positive way. Thanks to our customers in the Brown and Providence communities, we’ve given away $78,000 to important local and national causes. These are socially responsible practices that both sides of the aisle can support. Alex Payson Blue State Coffee Feb. 5

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Post- article misrepresents WBRU To the Editor: There seems to be some misunderstanding, misinformation and a few blatant lies about 95.5 WBRU in an article in yesterday’s issue of Post- (“State of the Radio,” Feb. 5). Let’s clear it up — WBRU is a commercial radio station run by Brown students. It is a not-for-profit educational student workshop that broadcasts and caters to all of southern New England. We sell advertising time to pay for our FM license, our rent and our independence from the University. Our student membership is responsible for all of our major decisions. Several students meet once a week to decide the playlist based on actual market research, opinions from professionals in the industry and their gut instincts. Our promotions department builds massive concerts from the ground up with bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Guster. Students record and produce advertisements and interviews for our 200,000 listeners. We agree that radio is in decline among tech savvy Brown students, most of whom don’t own radios and spend little time in cars. But as a reminder, Brown University (undergrad population: 5,821) is not our target demographic. Our demographic is southern New England (Metro Providence:

1.6 million). Nationwide, weekly radio listenership is actually higher than ever, at 235 million. Our listeners are a strong, vocal community of people from Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts who have been with us since 1969. WBRU has an outstanding reputation in the radio and music industry. We are simultaneously a bunch of kids who love music and radio professionals who compete with enormous corporate conglomerates like Clear Channel and Citadel. WBRU offers students incredible experiences from covering Bonnaroo to interviewing Barack Obama. And Max, you can keep our Flogging Molly CD. You’re welcome. Scott Middleton ’10 Patricia Capuano ’11 Gabrielle Quintana Greenfield ’10 Bart Galvin ’09 James Chin ’10 Marianna Faircloth ’10 Gabriella Ra’anan ’11 Celina Pedrosa ’11 Feb. 5

c l a r i f i c at i o n Due to an editing error, an article about married students (“Married, with homework,” Feb. 5) appeared to attribute the following quotation to Alicia Adams ’11: “I don’t think it’s fair that they still need your parents’ info, even if they’re no longer supporting you. Once I got married, my mom stopped supporting me financially.” The quotation belongs to Lanna Leite, the other married undergraduate student profiled in the article.

corrections Due to an editing error, a front-page article about donations to the Brown Annual Fund (“Shaky economy casts doubt on giving,” Feb. 5) contained the assertion that employees in the Office of Advancement have seen their bonuses cut. The assertion was attributed to Senior Vice President for University Advancement Ronald Vanden Dorpel MA’71. In fact, Vanden Dorpel said some prospective donors had likely seen their bonuses cut. He said nothing about employees in the Office of Advancement. An article about undergraduate research awards (“No increase in number of UTRAs offered this summer,” Feb. 5) referred to Marjorie Thompson as an assistant dean of biological sciences. Thompson is an associate dean of biological sciences. 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

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Page 11

Of depression and diversions

BEN BERNSTEIN Opinions Columnist

Publicly, it seems that President Ruth Simmons has two personas. There is her charismatic, “please call me Ruth” side, which earns student approval to the tune of an 80 percent approval rating. However, in her recent e-mail to the Brown community, President Simmons showed off her other side — shrewd corporate leader. Describing cutbacks in administrative costs amounting to $4.5 million, Simmons writes, “This will require … reductions in the number of positions in most units… Considerable work has been done with the leaders of those units to identify the most effective way to achieve these savings, and we expect that work to be completed no later than the end of the spring semester.” There is certainly an undercurrent in the email, seen in this type of language, that Brown (read: the Corporation) knows best and the community should trust that it is doing the right thing. The Corporation will worry about the specifics. All we students need to know is that they will “act in accord with our values as a community… focus on preserving the quality of our academic life and… continue to protect our capacity to support our financial aid program.” Except for the part about “financial aid,” this could mean anything. In light of this vague language, the Brown community should be concerned that the eco-

nomic crisis will be used as a sort of smoke screen to shield the Corporation, or anyone else with power, from deserved criticism. When something goes wrong, blame the economy instead of say, incompetent individuals or defective planning. To find a specific case of such a diversion, simply look to the OMAC athletic facility — or rather, just south of it. There you’ll find the still empty lot, where at convocation in 2004, President Simmons announced we would construct a new $30 million athletic facility called the Nelson Fitness Center, to be completed by 2008 and primarily financed by billionaire Corpora-

the SHoP project, I wrote that mistakes can be educational, but that “when the mistake costs that much money, you must really get it right the next time.” With what looks like another architect change, or at best severe lethargy, it doesn’t appear as though those in power have learned from the past. Instead, more money was probably wasted with the new plan for the fitness center, which O’Neil conceded was “struggling before the economic crisis.” Today, the response to suggestions of financial or managerial problems is to reference the rotten economic situation. Those whom

The Brown community should be concerned that the economic crisis will be used as sort of a smoke screen to shield the Corporation, or anyone else with power, from deserved criticism. tion member Jonathan Nelson ’77 P’07 ’09. For a past column, (“Building a Mystery,” Oct. 10, 2007) Richard Spies, executive vice president for Planning and Senior Adviser to the President, recounted to me how the original designs by the SHoP architectural firm were scrapped after some hundred thousand dollars were spent and how another firm, Robert A.M. Stern, was chosen to complete the project by 2010, two years later than initially planned. The price tag was increased from $30 million to $50 million. Now, according to Associate Provost Pamela O’Neil, the new firm, Stern, is “not actively working on it.” The firm did not respond to my request for information or for an interview. In 2007, regarding the wasted money from

I spoke to in the administration echoed Simmons’ e-mail, with Spies telling me that “some projects go ahead, some will be put aside, but a number will be in the category of hold until — fill in the blank.” As students, our worry should not be about the fitness center — we can leave that for Mr. Nelson, whose $10 million gift has been taken for granted over the last five years with the University’s inaction. (A representative of Mr. Nelson declined to comment.) Instead, we should worry more generally about how our University leaders are managing Brown’s money. And we shouldn’t accept the disastrous economic situation as an explanation for every decision. The Undergraduate Council of Students

should prove its relevance by completing or commissioning a study of exactly how the University incurred its financial losses. As the “reductions” go into effect this semester, we, as students, should be vigilant in following which people and programs get dropped and not simply let the Corporation and administrators evade scrutiny the way they have with their capital projects. “I fully understand that the pain must begin at the top and we in the senior administration are making major cuts in our own budgets in order to meet this challenge,” wrote Simmons in her e-mail, and it appears she has literally put her money where her mouth is. While her salary rose by a disturbing 79.2 percent in the last 5 years — from $432,900 in 2001-2002 to $775,715 in 2006-2007, in an email to me, Simmons wrote that she has “over the past two years asked for a reduction in pay and the Corporation has agreed. It has been effected each year.” This is the first confirmation to my knowledge, by Simmons, of an actual pay cut and should be applauded — a welcome contrast to the impersonal campus-wide e-mail. As this crisis deepens, our enormous, powerful institution will face serious challenges. Students must hold leaders accountable for their decisions and push for the same kind of justice in Brown’s budgetary decisions that we regularly push for on the national and international level. Failure to do so might mean that the next project swept under the rug won’t be a new fitness center — it’ll be our education.

Ben Bernstein ’09 is a history concentrator and former Herald Opinions Editor from St. Louis, Missouri.

The discomfort of death BY ANDREA MATTHEWS Guest Columnist Our society doesn’t like talking about money when people die. It’s perceived as a nosy, uncomfortable thing to do, particularly when a child loses a parent. The emotional loss is already incalculable. Next to that unapproachable subject, money matters don’t seem like something anyone should talk about. But the fact is, we have to talk about it. Of course there is a healing process that must occur emotionally when a person has lost anyone, especially a parent. But people can’t mourn with dignity when they don’t have the capacity to think about the emotional loss because the financial burden is so great. What happens at Brown when a student loses a parent? Emotionally, the student may get the support he or she deserves. Brown’s psychological services are generous, and the student may choose to contact a dean of student life to receive some academic leniency and support from professors. There is even a bereavement group on campus. So long as the student knows how to ask for help (which can be difficult enough), he or she will receive it. What happens to the student financially? Assuming that the parent was custodial, the student has lost a source of income that was likely utilized in order to cover the costs of a Brown education. But not completely lost: chances are that the parent left his or her child an inheritance. Thus, just like everyone else, the student should submit any pertinent information to the office of Financial Aid regarding the assets of

the remaining parent and those gained in his or her inheritance. Those assets are tabulated, the expected family contribution calculated and perhaps the financial aid package is adjusted. It seems like a fair deal. But let’s pause a moment. Even bracketing questions about the University’s assumption that an heir should be compelled to use his or her inheritance toward tuition, and then be evaluated for aid the same way as a financially independent adult, there is something amiss. A little Inheritance 101: When a person dies

the Brown student, receives his or her tuition bill in the mail. But wait! That bill should be adjusted in accordance with the student’s new financial situation. The rules governing financial aid are fair and just. The student will be treated like all others. However, the student cannot be evaluated based on assets that he or she does not have. In the time between the parent’s death and the disbursement of the estate, he or she has neither the income of the parent nor the assets to

People can’t mourn with dignity when they don’t have the capacity to think about the emotional loss because the financial burden is so great.

and leaves a will or a trust, the deceased’s property does not simply pass to the people designated in that document. The assets are frozen upon notice of death, gathered and tallied for estate tax purposes and disbursed. So what really happens when a parent dies and leaves assets to his or her child? The child waits. Not days, not weeks, but months. The banks take time to close accounts and send statements. The lawyer or relative awaits a court date to be appointed representative or executor of the estate. Funds are liquidated to cover any of the deceased’s debts. In the meantime, the child, or in our consideration,

be inherited, but is responsible for thousands of dollars in tuition bills. In an interview, Director of Financial Aid James Tilton assured me that changes in income can be appealed to the Financial Aid office immediately, but acknowledged that in cases where the majority of the family assets are in property, there might be lag time. “In the situation where the amount of the contribution was not based on income, but on family assets, we would really need to know what happened to those assets before we could make a change.” From Financial Aid’s standpoint, this makes

sense. But promises of future re-evaluation for aid may not sound so comforting to a student saddled with an unadjusted tuition bill caused by frozen assets. The student is in financial purgatory. In the past two years, I’ve had three friends lose parents and two come very close. Either I’m some conduit for parental tragedy, or something is happening. Our parents are reaching an age when they are significantly more likely to die. The National Vital Statistics Report issued by the CDC in April of 2008 tells us that the death rate per 100,000 people in the US jumps from 520.8 for 50-54 year olds to 734.6 for 55-59 year olds to 1,136.9 for 60-64 year olds. You might think there aren’t too many students at Brown in this situation. But ask yourself a couple of questions. First, would you like to be stuck with a (say) $23,000 bill without the funds to pay it? (Bye bye, Brown.) Second, if there are so few people in this financial fix, would it be so hard for the University to hold the bill until the student’s inheritance was disbursed? Given the low prevalence and the sheer gravity of this situation, I would hope not. Can Brown refuse grace to students who are unable to cover tuition due to circumstances completely beyond their control? That seems like the truly uncomfortable question.

Andrea Matthews ’11, a public policy and economics concentrator from Santa Barbara, California, is an amortization calculating machine.

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d i a m o n d s a n d c oa l A diamond to BTV, whose members plan to throw themselves a party this weekend to celebrate the station’s first broadcast in nearly two years. We hope your memories of the night are as fuzzy as your original programming. Coal to MSex for distributing those racy tableslips at the dining halls. Sex and Polynesian Pork Piglets don’t mix. But then again, we’ll award a diamond for your fair-minded effort to use the advertisements to dispel the idea that the workshop is only for gay men. Not only have you made women and straight guys feel welcome, but three-headed monsters and carwash fetishists too.

2 c a l e n da r february 6, 2008

February 7, 2008

7 P.M. — Men’s Hockey vs. Dartmouth and Brown Band Ice Show, Meehan Auditorium

3 P.M. — “How to Get a Job in Foreign Policy,” MacMillan 117

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

8 p.m. — “Pleasure Dome,” Production Workshop

menu Sharpe Refectory

Verney-Woolley Dining Hall

Lunch — Hot Pastrami Sandwich, French Green Beans with Tomatoes, Strawberry Desert Pizza

Lunch — Chicken Fingers, Baked Vegan Nuggets, Rice Pilaf with Zucchini, Raspberry Swirl Cookies

Dinner — Filet of Fish Florentine, Asparagus Cuts with Lemon, Baked Acorn Squash, Green Thai Curry

Dinner — Italian Meatloaf, Risotto Primavera, Pineapple Carrot Cake


A diamond to the cognitive scientist who discovered that men tend to have reddish skin and women greenish skin. We have a punch-line forthcoming — we’re just waiting for that reverend from the inauguration to get back to us with a slightly inappropriate rhyming line about people’s skin colors. A cubic zirconium to tedious minutiae, like the official faculty motion this week to rename the William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics to the William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance. We’re glad to see attention being paid to the WRRCFIEAF, but we’re pretty sure that’s not what Ruth means when she says to focus on finance. A diamond to Brandeis University for responding to cash shortfalls by selling its beloved art museum along with its 6,000 works. That’s exactly the kind of bold move this economy requires. Then again, maybe the alcoholic, paranoid-schizophrenic owl mascot has been running the financials long enough. Coal to the anonymous pranksters who sent out an e-mail telling students that their next-day MCATs had been rescheduled. You didn’t by any chance send out another one from “” about the endowment, did you? A cubic zirconium to the gymnastics team, which is apparently tearing up the competition with generous scores like 9.600, 9.575 and 9.525. We not saying you don’t deserve those high marks, but how did you manage to stack the judging panel with Brown professors? A diamond to the source who suggested putting equal rights activists and other prominent figures on U.S. currency. Lincoln doesn’t need a bill and a coin, so how about putting Obama on the penny? Now that would be change we can believe in.

comics Enigma Twist | Dustin Foley

Cabernet Voltaire | Abe Pressman

The One About Zombies | Kevin Grubb

Friday, February 6, 2009  

The February 6, 2009 issue of the Brown Daily Herald