Daily Herald the Brown
vol. cxliv, no. 62 | Friday, September 11, 2009 | Serving the community daily since 1891
Needing $30m more in cuts, U. to seek input
A c ti v ities F L A I R
By Nicole Friedman Senior Staff Writer
Eunice Hong / Herald A smorgasbord of activities was on display at the OMAC Thursday night. Above, Brown’s Taiko drumming group. See page 3.
Series of events to make ‘Year of India’ By Anne Speyer Senior Staff Writer
The University has declared the current academic year the “Year of India,” which will include a series of events designed to enhance political and cultural awareness of South Asia’s largest country. “Brown wishes to deepen its relationship with India,” said Ashutosh Varshney, professor of political science and a coordinator of the program, which he said would expose students to “the culture of an old civilization which is rising once again, as a polity and as an economy.”
Organizers said they hope to invite political leaders, academics, artists and film stars to public events on campus. Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P’07 said the program, which is still in the planning stages, would encompass cultural and economic policies that “don’t usually get addressed.” Public figures such as N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder of international technology company Infosys Technologies, is scheduled to visit next month. The University is also set to host Indian actress Konkona Sen Sharma in the spring.
There will also be an exploration of visual, literary and performing arts from India, including a visit from a classical Indian dance troupe. Many of the events and appearances will be financed by the University and outside funders, Varshney said. Vasundhara Prasad ’12, who is involved in organizing the program, said students can look forward to a showcase of Bollywood films. “We feel having a Bollywood week would be fun not only for South Asian students who are alcontinued on page 2
By Caitlin Trujillo Staff Writer
spin — more “zaniness” — to it, he said. In Hull’s new book, the reader folCarl only has one eye. But that doesn’t lows Carl, a young cyclops, through 19 illustrated scenes to find out what bother him. The laidback cyclops stars in is annoying him. Each “page” contains “What is Bothering Carl?”, a new hidden features the reader can click interactive book written — and pro- on to explore the scene. Hull’s book also features narration by grammed — by Andy Hull ’03, the founder of Story FEATURE the author, music videos Fort, a children’s learning and games, and is geared software company. toward children between three and The former Herald cartoonist, who six. founded Story Fort shortly after his The innovative book was recently five-year college reunion last year, said, chosen as one of the ten finalists in “I went to the reunion and saw every- this year’s PAX10, a competition sponone doing cool stuff, and I thought, sored by the Penny Arcade Expo, an independent game festival. ‘It’s time for me to try it.’” After working at Melissa and Hull said the acclaim surprised him Doug, a children’s toy company, for because his book is a step away from five years, he realized he loved work- the usual computer and video games ing in the children’s entertainment continued on page 2 industry but wanted to add his own
Calling the current health care system a “scandal” and an “abomination” and stressing the need for an increase in primary care availability, two Brown professors of medicine presented reform options to a crowded Salomon 001 in a town hall-style meeting organized Thursday, a day after President Obama’s address to Congress on the subject. Richard Besdine, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research at Brown, and Jeffrey Borkan, professor of family medicine and chair of the department at the Alpert Medical School, addressed a crowd of mostly students at the event organized by the Janus Fellows and the Division of Campus Life. Besdine, who formerly worked
By Alicia Chen Staff Writer
continued on page 4
Profs weigh in on health care debate
Alum’s software aims to educate — cyclops and all
News.....1-4 Ar ts.........5 Editorial..10 Opinion...11 Today........12
Administrators are gearing up for a tense semester of negotiating $30 million in cuts to next year’s budget. But unlike last fall, when the University quickly eliminated approximately the same amount mostly through quick-fix measures such as a hiring freeze, this round of cuts will force decision-makers to find more nuanced and permanent solutions. Last year’s budget cuts, which took effect in July, were decided primarily by senior officers. But the $30 million that will need to be cut from next year’s budget will be identified with extensive input from students, faculty and staff, said Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Beppie Huidekoper. While next year’s budget will still increase from this year’s, it will grow by $30 million less than originally planned. Of that, $7 million has already been saved by reducing planned building projects, and $5 to $10 million could be found by changing policies relating to travel and other costs, said Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98. The Organizational Review Committee, which consists of 10 administrators, three faculty members and two students, is responsible for locating as much of the remainder of the savings as possible. The ORC will oversee no fewer than 10 to 15 subcommittees that will each study a specific area of the University for ways to increase efficiency and
eliminate redundancies and overlap, said Sarah Rutherford ’12, the only undergraduate member of the committee. “Inevitably, that’s going to mean consolidating some people’s jobs,” Rutherford said, adding that new jobs might also be created. “We’re talking about budget reductions, but, at the same time, we’re also talking about budget increases,” Huidekoper said, citing financial aid and faculty compensation as areas that could potentially increase. Jason Zysk MA ’07 GS, the ORC’s only graduate student representative, said the “terminology of layoffs” has not come up. But “one of the consequences of consolidation, of course, is that there are other positions that are going to be eliminated,” he said. The University is hoping that the current hiring freeze will offset potential layoffs, since “the fewer of those (empty) positions we fill, the more we’ll be able to reorganize,” Kertzer said. Rutherford suggested that staff members whose jobs are eliminated might be able to apply for alternate empty positions within the University. The University currently has “over 100” vacant positions, according to Huidekoper. Offering retirement packages is also “an option that has been and is being discussed,” Huidekoper said. Kertzer added that retirement packages could “make it possible
Eunice Hong / Herald Richard Besdine (right) and Jeffrey Borkan spoke on health care policy Thursday.
as a high-level administrator in the federal Health Care Financing Administration, said the United States recently ranked second-tolast among 30 countries in terms of healthy life expectancies, a statistic that considers the years, on average, that people spend with disabilities as well as traditional life expectancies. The country ranked last in avoiding preventable deaths caused by chronic diseases such as strokes, heart attacks and various cancers, he said.
“I don’t call what we have in America a system, I call it an apparatus,” Besdine said, adding that there was no “intelligent design” behind American health care. Borkan, also a medical anthropologist, outlined various problems plaguing the current healthcare system, noting that too many specialists are flooding the field in place of primary care providers. The focus, he said, should be on preventative continued on page 2
OUT OF AFRICA The Watson Institute is hosting nine African scholars this semester
Artstravaganza! Our guide breaks down the Providence art scene — without leaving you broke
DORM DO-OVER Jared Lafer ’11 thinks freshmen should get more say in their housing
195 Angell Street, Providence, Rhode Island
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Alum programs kids’ books continued from page 1 that dominate the show. Blogging moms have also praised the book for its educational content and fun interactive features. But Hull said he has struggled to convince parents and publishers, accustomed to traditional, tangible children’s books, about the merits of his digital venture. The publishers he has met with were not sure how to distribute the content, he said. Still, the winds seem to be changing. In 2006, the MacArthur Foundation began a $50-million digital me-
dia and learning initiative to further explore and support this emerging field. Some schools are also incorporating more computer games into their curricula, and Quest to Learn — a new public school in New York that uses a computer game-like program as its primary teaching tool — opened its doors this month. Hull and Story Fort’s next few steps are up in the air. He is working with other authors to get their work on his platform, programming for a console game and developing a more marketable traditional computer game.
Friday, September 11, 2009
“You’ve got to decide if it’s a right or a privilege.” — Jeffrey Borkan, professor of family medicine, on health care
Panelists, students discuss health care continued from page 1 tests that would lower the need for more expensive emergency care in the long run. Borkan said universities must provide incentives, such as differing tuitions depending on medical students’ chosen fields, to encourage new doctors to pursue primary care, a less lucrative career path. Besdine and Borkan also said primary care providers could prevent and combat chronic diseases by developing greater trust with their patients. Audience members asked the speakers a variety of questions pertaining to Obama’s healthcare plan,
coverage of illegal noncitizens and the struggles of young people without jobs and health insurance. Asked what they saw as the most legitimate criticism of Obama’s health care plan, Borkan answered that government-run systems could not be a universal remedy for the country’s ailing health care program. Nations with socialized medicine, he said, tend to pay their doctors less, discouraging citizens from entering the field. Referring to Obama’s comment that his healthcare plan would not extend to those without legal documentation, one student asked if a moral obligation existed to aiding noncitizens who are present in the
United States illegally. “Concur,” Besdine simply said, while Borkan said Obama’s motivation behind the statement was “politics.” A recent Brown graduate in the audience said many of his peers lacked health insurance after leaving school and failing to find jobs, adding that recent college graduates have been left out of the debate. Besdine said nearly one-third of the American population is without health insurance on any given day. Borkan urged audience members to vote on healthcare issues when the opportunity arises. “You’ve got to decide if it’s a right or a privilege,” he said.
India takes center stage continued from page 1
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ready in the know, but also American students,” Prasad said. “It’s very appropriately timed because a lot of people are interested.” Prasad said the goal of the Year of India is “not just to increase awareness of India here on campus, but also to increase awareness of Brown in India.” “Other schools that are very well known, like Harvard and MIT, people strive to get into,” she said. “I tell my family members I go to Brown University and they say, ‘Oh, I’m sure that’s a very good school,’ but they haven’t heard of it.” Prasad said she hoped the Year of India would increase the number of students from India who apply to Brown. The Year of India is being coordinated by a number of groups, including the Watson Institute for International Affairs, the South Asian Students Association and faculty from different academic departments. “It’s a Year of India, but the hope is that when we bring together people who are interested, the interest will bring together other projects over time,” Vohra said. “Much of the energy that goes into it this year will be an investment into future collaboration.”
Friday, September 11, 2009
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
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Program brings African scholars to campus By Jeremy Jacob Staf f Writer
Nine African scientists and environmental activists will study at Brown this semester as part of a program coordinated through the Watson Institute for International Studies. The scholars, who represent six different African nations, will take classes alongside undergraduates with the hope that they will apply their new knowledge back in their home countries. The African visitors, invited under the auspices of the Watson Institute’s International Scholars of the Environment program, will enroll in AFRI 1060M: “African Environmental History,” taught by Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies Nancy Jacobs. They will take field trips to sites of environmental interest across the northeast — including Block Island, New York, Boston and a local sewage treatment plant, Jacobs said. The scholars will also participate in activities that previous international environmental scholars have done. They will be able to sit in on another undergraduate course, as well as take “modules,” Jacobs said. Modules consist of 12-15 hours of instruction by professors from Brown and other local universities in fields such as urban environmental studies and climate change. One visiting scholar, Hilar y Bakamwesiga, an assistant lecturer in environmental studies at
Uganda’s Makerere University, is tr ying to develop a doctoral program at the school and working on a book about increased population, migration and land degradation in his home country. “These are things I download from the Internet or I hear (about) from other people but I don’t see them,” Bakamwesiga said of the opportunities at Brown. “I think this program will benefit me a lot. ... I expect to have enough tools to start a Ph.D. program, develop the basic proposal, perfect it.” Undergraduates will form a critical part of the program, Jacobs said. The final project for the students in “African Environmental Histor y” will be to pose intellectual questions that the scholars are unable to answer with the resources they have access to back home. The undergraduates will then work with the scholars to answer these questions. “I’m going to match them up with Brown undergraduates who are going to put their skills and energy to use for them — its wonderful, it’s a match made in heaven,” Jacobs said. The nine scholars are scientists, professors or on-the-ground environmental activists, rather than historians. This fact, Jacobs said, provides the program with a new way of looking at the problems the scholars face in their home countries. “I want to lead them to believe
that science and environmental change happen in the political and economic and cultural context,” Jacobs said. Jacobs stressed the importance of the program’s historical and social focus, noting that to understand Africa’s environmental circumstances, it is necessary to look at the way that the people of Africa interact with the land. “The histor y of the environment in Africa is also the history of the poverty and development,” she said. The program was highly selective, with more than 90 well-qualified applicants, Jacobs said. “We’re looking for people who would ask the right questions, people that asked the surprising questions,” Jacobs said. Of his experience so far, Bakamwesiga said, “Brown is very nice... The lecturers are quite down-toearth people who approach (the classes) in an interactive manner. ... They are asking you your ideas, which is very important.”
“We got more done for less.” — Brady Wyrtzen ’11, UCS Student Activities Chair
Activities fair draws more than 2,000
By Alicia Dang Staff Writer
As many as 281 student groups and more than 2,000 first-years and upperclassmen packed into the OlneyMargolies Athletic Center Thursday night for a familiar fall ritual: the Activities Fair. While the Brown Marching Band opened the night with upbeat melodies at the entrance, the atmosphere inside warmed up as groups tried to attract new recruits with colorful posters and eager smiles. A capella groups showed off their repertoires and dance teams dressed up in showy costumes. The chess club’s intricate moves on a makeshift board left several youngsters scratching their heads. “It’s a pretty great night. More freshmen have shown up to see the activities,” said Brady Wyrtzen ’11, student activities chair of the Undergraduate Council of Students.
Eight to 10 new student groups joined the fair this year, he said. “This year we got things on a lot earlier, so it is more organized,” Wyrtzen said. Groups were assigned their tables two or three days earlier and were able to set up before first years arrived, a change from past years when they got their assignments as they arrived, he said. The equipment rental and other minor costs of this year’s fair were $800 to $900 lower this year, owing to a collaboration between UCS and the Orientation Welcoming Committee, said June Drinkwater, administrative coordinator of student activities. “We got more done for less,” Wyrtzen said. Despite sharing a goal to expand their membership, the groups brought diverse perspectives and objectives to the bustling gymnasium. The Brown Cycling Club, continued on page 4
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
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Friday, September 11, 2009
“The overarching purpose of this is to make Brown a successful place.” — Sarah Rutherford ’12, on the effort to save money
Budget cuts loom large in U. planning continued from page 1 for us to do what reorganization we need to do without laying people off.” “It was our hope that we wouldn’t have to consider layoffs during this year,” he added. If layoffs are necessary, they will be announced in the spring, Huidekoper said. The University will also closely follow whether or not its peer schools decide to extend their faculty salary freezes for an additional year, since “remaining competitive is a priority with our compensation.” The current vacancy review process, which requires that all vacant positions remain unfilled unless a committee of top administrators determines that a replacement can be hired, will stay in place “at least through the February budget process and a little beyond,” Huidekoper said. Seeking transparency The organizational review subcommittees will examine areas such as information technology, events management, academic departments and overlaps between the Division of Biology and Medicine and the rest of the University. Though the committee rosters are not finalized, students will be included on every committee that relates to student life and services, Kertzer said. Over the summer, the ORC gathered and prepared extensive internal data for the subcommittees to use
because “until we have the numbers we can’t really do anything,” Zysk said. The ORC and all subcommittees will have a general meeting at the end of September, after which the subcommittees will meet on their own “weekly, if not a few times a week,” Rutherford said. The subcommittees will report their reorganization suggestions to the ORC, which will then provide budgetrelated suggestions to the University Resources Committee — the group responsible for submitting a proposed budget to the president each year — and administrative suggestions to top University officials. The ORC’s work is expected to be complete by the February meeting of the Corporation at the latest. Besides looking for areas of overlap between the Division of Biology of Medicine and the University, the ORC will focus on reorganization within the general University, Kertzer said. BioMed — which is less dependent than the rest of the University on endowment payout because of grant money — will only have to reduce its budget by $10 million, an amount that it has mostly achieved already by deciding to renovate an existing building rather than build a new medical education building. Each committee will meet with “all constituent groups” that are affected by changes in its area, Huidekoper said. Additionally, the Faculty Executive Committee and
Undergraduate Council of Students will participate in soliciting faculty and student feedback and suggestions. UCS also plans to work through its own committee structure to offer suggestions on the reorganization of student-related areas, said UCS President Clay Wertheimer ’10. For example, he said, UCS may take an “inventory of student lounge space” to help the administration prioritize which areas would most benefit from renovations. The administration is also preparing a new Web site about the University’s response to the recession, which will go online “once we sort of lay this whole thing out,” Huidekoper said. The Web site will include “things we’ve done and are doing to respond,” such as policy changes and the various committees working to find budget reductions, she said. After administrators meet with Corporation members on Friday to discuss updated “preliminary budget parameters” for the next fiscal year and get the “Corporation’s input and blessing,” they will send out a campus-wide communication about the school’s finances sometime thereafter, she said. While the administration wants the reorganization process to be as transparent as possible, “obviously there are going to be some confidential discussions,” Kertzer said. The main barriers to full transparency are issues of personal privacy,
including not publicizing salaries or identifying individuals, he said. Even so, “the overarching purpose of this is to make Brown a successful place,” Rutherford said, and the administration will not “purposefully shut out” comments and criticisms. Next year and beyond The organizational changes should only affect student life in minor ways, Kertzer said. “A lot of the work that the committee is doing is behind-the-scenes things that students don’t really experience,” Zysk said. “The people who are going to see the most direct results of the reorganization are the faculty, and in particular the junior faculty.” While it took a financial crisis to force the University to reorganize, the process would be beneficial at any time, Huidekoper said. “Over time we just grew up with an organizational structure that is not optimal,” she said. In addition to the cuts made to the current budget and those planned for next year’s budget, a final $30 million dollars in cuts are still needed to bring the budget to its goal of $600 million in the 2014 fiscal year. The administration and the Corporation will be “watching economic elements very closely and hoping it may be possible to be in a better position” in the next few years, Kertzer said, making the final $30 million in cuts unnecessary.
Activities fair ‘fun and overwhelming’ continued from page 3 for instance, focused on recruiting female riders. “We’re actively building our women’s team,” said Chieh Chih Chiang ’11. Daniela Rodriguez DS ’10 represented three groups, including the Coalition Against Relationship Abuse, Thursday night. “We want more people to know about our groups, that we exist for anyone looking for help with relationship abuse,” she said. “Freshmen this year seem very motivated and interested in investing,” said Henry Liu ’10 of the Brown Investment Group, which manages a portion of the University’s endowment in domestic equities and seeks to educate students about investment opportunities. “This is really fun and overwhelming. They seem really aggressive,” Jonah Kagan ’13 said of the groups’ entreaties to members of his class. Kagan, who was looking for sports and community service activities, said, “I try to save myself for the best clubs.” His strategy: Look at everything and then come back to sign up for a few that he liked. “That’s a better approach,” said Allison Eckert ’13 who, standing next to Kagan, compared his plan of action to her own. “I just signed up for a lot,” she said. “It’s hard to pick.”
Friday, September 11, 2009
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
A rts & C ulture
Providence arts, on a budget By Ben Hyman and Rosalind Schonwald Arts & Culture Editors
It might be possible for arts junkies to spend four years at Brown, never leaving College Hill, and still feel sated. Perhaps possible, but we don’t recommend it. Yes, Brown’s theater scene is thriving, and its music and fine arts offerings vibrant. And that slog back up the Hill after a night downcity can feel murderous in New England’s trademark damp cold. But Providence’s quirky, proudly do-it-yourself arts world is truly unmissable. And it’s possible to see it all without spending a fortune. By way of greeting new Brown students and welcoming back the old ones — and at the risk of rendering all of these venues instantly uncool — here is our attempt at a budget-friendly guide to the arts in Providence. Theater The city’s flagship theater institution is the Trinity Repertory Company (201 Washington St.). Founded in 1963, Trinity Rep boasts a top-notch resident acting company, meaning its productions benefit from cohesive casts familiar with one another and their stage. As a partner in the MFAgranting Brown University/Trinity Rep Consortium, the company trains rising actors and directors. This season kicks off with a production of “Cabaret,” directed by the company’s artistic director, Curt Columbus. Other highlights include Shakespeare’s magical “Twelfth Night” and the Providence premiere of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” a play by the wonderful Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA’01. For something more rough-hewn, more experimental and, potentially, more exciting, check out Perishable Theatre (95 Empire St.). As its name indicates, Perishable is interested in stuff that’s fresh. The emphasis is on new plays, with a focus on female playwrights. The 2009-2010 season features a musical by Obie-winner Lisa D’Amour and builds up to a production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” in April. Perishable’s monthly “Live Bait” program — loosely based on the public radio show “This American Life” — invites audience members to share true-life stories built around particular themes. (A friendly fiveminutes-per-story time limit keeps things moving.) Just up Westminster Street, the Providence Black Repertor y Company (276 Westminster St.) features dance, music, drumming and other performing arts of the African diaspora in its public programs. Its varied theater programming has included Tracy Letts’ “Bug” and George C. Wolfe’s “The Colored Museum” in recent years. The best part: All three companies offer student tickets, meaning a night at the theater runs from $10 to $20. Music From its inception, AS220 (115
Empire St.) has been at the nerve center of art and original music in Providence. It has living and working spaces exclusively for artists. It has record labels, workshops and performance and exhibition spaces. And for a cover under $10, you can hear music that’s guaranteed not to be copyrighted by a large corporation. This Saturday, it’s the bands Mahi Mahi, Brava Spectre and Paper Eagles. Like AS220, Firehouse 13 (41 Central St.) connects all sorts of artists. Typical of the artsy, social events at this old converted firehouse: This Saturday’s “Ultimate ’80s Prom” (starts at 8 p.m., $10) with live music by the group Simply Rad and, of course, a Prom Court competition. One of the newest additions to the Providence music scene, as of July 6, The 201 (201 Westminster St.), is promising in both its mission and its appeal. “201 is a live music venue in the center of Providence,” general manager Christopher Foster told The Herald. “Our crowd for the most part isn’t so much a genre as an attitude. We have a pleasant atmosphere, likeminded folks listening to rock and roll. No pretense.” Every Wednesday through Saturday, this venue is replete with dancing, DJs and all sorts of retro rock. On the other hand, if you like to imbibe your culture with a cup of espresso, funky Tazza Caffe (250 Westminster St.) will fit the bill. The offerings range from live jazz or blues to a myriad of visual arts, as well as characteristic coffee house poetry readings. The “Award-winning open mic hosted by Brian M.” is a mustsee. Every Sunday night at 7 p.m., patrons are guaranteed to hear local singer-songwriters. If they’re lucky, they might catch a cameo by one of Brown University’s many musicians. And, of course, you can’t get any cheaper than free. Believe it or not, Kennedy Plaza, at the center of downtown Providence, is good for more than catching buses and avoiding late at night. The Greater Kennedy Plaza Working Group — yes, it exists — offers weekly free concerts as part of its Burnside Park Music Series. (Burnside Park, by the way, is that plot of grass just north of the bus plaza, the one with the fountain. Yes, it has a name.) On Thursday evenings, it’s New England bands: Next up is Lars Vegas, a tongue-incheek jazz group. But for top names at low Providence prices, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel(79 Washington St.) is the place to go. On Oct. 27, Andrew Bird headlines a concert that also features Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, with a ticket price that would never be found in another city. Other upcoming acts include Neko Case and The Swell Season. Art The Rhode Island School of Design Museum (224 Benefit St.) has been on a kind of roller coaster lately. Only last September, RISD was celebrating the opening of its exceptional Chace Center and a
blockbuster Dale Chihuly exhibition. But less than a year later, in the midst of a financial crisis that has been particularly hard on arts organizations, the museum shut down for the whole month of August. Luckily, the museum is now open again, and remains free to RISD and Brown students, faculty and staff, a testament to its commitment to education. The RISD Museum’s exhibitions offer unusual subject matter and uncommonly thoughtful curating. “The Brilliant Line,” a show of early-modern engraving, opens Sept. 18, while Taiwanese artist Shih Chieh Huang’s installation “Connected: Eject before disconnecting” pulses with multi-colored light in a nearby gallery. Equally close to campus, but maintaining a lower profile, the Providence Art Club (11 Thomas St.) makes its home in a row of beautiful buildings across from the First Baptist Church. Obviously, it’s not a pristine Chelsea gallery for art world stars. In its own homey way, it’s a remarkable, quiet place to check out local artists and, maybe, see something surprising. Ever since the city’s recent “Renaissance,” Providence’s grand theme has been the productive tension between preservation and revitalization. Two successful organizations show how both approaches can inspire exciting work. The Providence Preservation Society (21 Meeting St., No. 2) celebrates the
city’s historic houses and advocates for their survival in a rapidly changing urban environment, presenting photography exhibits and frequent lectures. Across town, The Steel Yard (27 Sims Ave) occupies the site of the now-defunct Providence Steel and Iron complex. It offers classes in blacksmithing, glassmaking, ceramics — the hard-hats-only arts. For anyone who has ever wanted to weld something, it’s a dream come true. The rest For the student who wants an alternative to the Avon Cinema (260 Thayer St.), but can’t bear the fluorescence of Providence Place (10 Providence Place), the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe (204 S. Main St.) is an apt alternative. In addition to its regular programming of foreign and out-of-the-way films, the Cable Car has occasionally offered free screenings that draw huge crowds — at last spring’s showing of a new print of “Harold and Maude,” every available space, even the floor, was
filled. The Cable Car’s Daniel Kamil says that, while no free screenings are on the docket at the moment, interested students can keep track of upcoming events on the theater’s Web site. And finally, a word about Waterfire. Yes, we know your parents thought it was really great. Even if it’s not quite as important as walking through the Van Wickle Gates, Waterfire is still required viewing for all Brown students. Since its first lighting in 1994, Barnaby Evans’ perennially popular work of public art has been central to the Providence experience. Surrounded by a hectic carnival atmosphere and new-age music, volunteers in boats light up a string of bonfires down the middle of the Providence River. Despite the bustling surroundings, there is a certain majestic quiet to Waterfire. Happening only two more times this semester, on Sept. 19 and Oct. 10, this beautiful (and free) event is not to be missed.
Editorial & Letters The Brown Daily Herald
Page 6 | Friday, September 11, 2009
l e t t e r to t h e e d i to r s
U. policies amount to student tax To the Editor: The fact that administrators are opposed to the possibility of its students being taxed is surprising to me. As a recent graduate who lived off campus during my senior year, I find the position Brown has taken to the very idea of the tax woefully ironic. For many years, Brown has charged students an off-campus nonresidential fee totaling about $600 per year. Yes, for those of you who are surprised, Brown charges you for not living on campus. Why, you ask? Brown claims that this fee is to cover the cost of your using their toilets, various facilities and mail room (something I always figured my astronomical tuition covered).
While I don’t wish to embolden the state’s legislature, and while I do not encourage the taxation of students, I will say that it surprises me that students are more upset about this tax than they are at the administrators who artificially inflate the cost of living off campus. If Brown wants to remain intellectually honest about this debate, it should repeal its off-campus housing fee and apologize to those of us who had to pay it in the past (preferably in the form of a check covering the costs we incurred). Otherwise, ladies and gentlemen, take a look at your University. This is what hypocrisy looks like. Joshua Unseth ’09 Sept. 10
A lex yuly
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Brown students who go for a night out at Fish Co. may notice a sign that reads “No Trespassing Per Court Order” in front of a grassy area just across the street. A few weeks ago, this area underneath an old I-195 overpass was home to a community of 80 homeless people. The community – known as Camp Runamuck — received much attention over the summer after it was the subject of a New York Times cover storyRhode Island’s Homeless . Many of the former residents of Camp Runamuck have fallen on hard times this past year as Rhode Island’s unemployment rate climbed to 12.7 percent, a record for the state and the second highest in the country after Michigan. Over the summer, state officials informed the group that they would soon be required to leave the area. Under an agreement with state officials, residents agreed to vacate Camp Runamuck by Sept. 8. Now, they have fanned out across the city, taking up residence in a number of parks and abandoned lots. While Camp Runamuck no longer exists as a vivid, nearby reminder of the true scope of the recession, many of the people who once lived there are no less in need of help. And given Rhode Island’s economic troubles, Brown students should feel a heightened sense of obligation to assist the homeless and other struggling members of the local community. According to the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, 6,423 Rhode Islanders stayed at homeless shelters during 2008. This number will undoubtedly be higher for 2009. The Coalition also reports that shelter use was 43 percent higher in February 2009 than in February 2008.
Of course, the homeless who stay at shelters represent only a portion of the total homeless population. A recent article in the Providence Journal reported that a homeless man named Richard Kilburn was found on Monday night bludgeoned to death as he slept in the doorway of a building on Broad Street. Kilburn had previously been kicked out of a shelter after he repeatedly broke the its rules forbidding smoking. Brown students are strongly encouraged to work with the homeless and help improve their situation. The start of the school year will hopefully bring an influx of new and committed volunteers to the Swearer Center’s HOPE (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) program and the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. In considering the problem of homelessness, it is easy to point to policy solutions like increasing the quality and quantity of homeless shelters, and providing job opportunities and affordable housing. But many people become homeless as a result of a complex web of interrelated difficulties and misfortunes. As a result, the problems that homeless people face also require individualized attention and sustained commitment. The challenge for Brown students is not simply to get involved in the cause of homelessness, but to devote the requisite level of attention and effort needed to solve the kinds of problems that the homeless face. In these difficult economic times — and with winter just a few months away — this challenge is one that cannot be forgotten or ignored. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Opinions The Brown Daily Herald
Friday, September 11, 2009 | Page 7
Dorm shopping Jared Lafer Opinions Columnist Let’s go back in time to the summer before your freshman year. You’ve just received your housing assignment and find that you’ve landed in some residence hall — let’s call it “A” in the spirit of non-discrimination. Fast forward: It’s the big day. Your parents drop you off at “A,” there are bittersweet goodbyes, and you’re on your own. A new stage of your life has begun, yada yada, dreams fulfilled and happy thoughts. But then things quickly take a turn for the worst. Your new roommate walks through the door and you realize you could very well abhor this person. You figure you might find solace with other people in your hall, though you don’t hit it off with anyone. Oh, and there’s a tree branch conveniently lodged against your window. Being reasonable, you decide to give it time: Maybe you’ll come around to the people in your hall or learn to appreciate the natural beauty of branches. But things don’t improve. How could the almighty housing questionnaire have smote ye thus? Matters are exacerbated by the fact that you’ve been visiting other residence halls over the past few days, and have taken a particular liking to the people of hall “B,” which is in a different building altogether. You realize you would love to live in “B.” So what are your options? And by options I mean option: You could try to officially change
residence halls. But that’s a poor prospect. The room change process is long and bureaucratic, requiring futile RC and CD reconciliation counseling, ResLife intervention and dreaded forms; and even then, there’s no guarantee there are room alternatives available at all, let alone in another dorm, especially at an earlier time of the year. And just like that you’re out of option (sic). How did we arrive at this little predicament? The current freshman housing placement system is arbitrary and inflexible. You get what you get, and if you don’t like what you get the
on your hall, but you should definitely enjoy living where you live. The bottom line is freshmen shouldn’t be forced to live somewhere when there’s a better alternative for them just around the bend. If you prefer to live somewhere else, you should be given at least the opportunity to try to live there. This ideal might be realized in part — or perhaps even in full — by looking to MIT. MIT has an exemplary program for firstyears called Residence Exploration. During the summer, incoming freshmen are assigned
Freshmen shouldn’t be forced to live somewhere when there’s a better alternative for them just around the bend. If you prefer to live somewhere else, you should be given at least the opportunity to try to live there. chances of a remedy are discouraging. Now I know what you’re thinking: This situation is unrealistic. Most people don’t despise their freshman living situations — the majority of people are content at worst. First, the operative word here is “most.” I’m sure everyone knows someone who did not like his or her living situation. That being said, majority contentment doesn’t excuse the fact that a minority of first-year students are effectively being condemned to housing hell each year. Second, in my opinion, just being content with your living situation isn’t acceptable. The dorm experience should be a positive one. That doesn’t necessarily mean befriending everyone
residence halls and temporary rooms (through a lottery) based on initial dorm preferences and a personality questionnaire. The fact that they can rank residence halls is already an improvement on Brown’s virtually autocratic system. Then, when freshmen arrive at school, they engage in a so called “dorm rush” (we’d call it “dorm shopping”), wherein students get a feel for the various dorms and the people in them through myriad activities and social events. At the end of the process, if students prefer their current residence halls to any other, they can stay in them. If they find they would prefer to live somewhere else, they can elect to enter the “housing readjustment lottery.”
For the “lottery,” students rank their dorm preferences (which may include their current dorm). The lottery results determine priority, and dorms are finally assigned based on preferences and availabilities. But that’s not all. Now that students have been assigned their permanent dorms, there is an “in-house rush.” Students survey the floors of their dorm and rank them accordingly. They subsequently get assigned a floor, and work out their roommate and room situations with their fellow floor-mates. More first-years get to be in a residence hall they like, with people they like, which means fewer freshmen being merely content and way more freshmen actually happy about their living situation. MIT freshmen happier than Brown freshmen about something? We’ve gone through the looking glass. As far as I can tell there’s nothing preventing Brown from adopting a parallel system: It is democratic and fair, thus better satisfying the interests of the students than the current system; it would increase residence hall unity and pride (as more people would actually want to live where they are living); it would provide an outlet for fun social events; and best of all, it would provide another reason for Brown students to ironically say “shopping.” So let’s climb back up the rabbit hole and correct this injustice, both to freshmen and the cosmic order.
Jared Lafer ’11 is a philosophy concentrator from Manhattan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A truly open curriculum BY ETHAN TOBIAS Opinions Columnist At the start of the fall term, many Brown students have to make difficult decisions about which classes they plan on attending. Shopping period is an essential part of Brown’s open curriculum, as it allows students to experience a multitude of classes before deciding which ones would be best to pursue. Unfortunately, much too often, shopping period fails to fulfill this crucial role. The problem is that too many classes are offered in only one time slot, one semester each year. For example, both this year and last, BIOL 0200: “The Foundation of Living Systems,” the introductory biology course, was offered only at eleven o’clock Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the spring semester. In 2007, the class’s highly esteemed professor, Ken Miller ’70 P’02, was on sabbatical, and a substitute teacher taught the class. A freshman interested in taking the class with Miller would not have had an opportunity during his or her first year at Brown. So, you might ask, what is the problem with taking the class sophomore year? Well, on the one hand, if this student were to take the class sophomore year and find that he had a profound passion for biology, it
would probably be too late to begin a concentration in the field. If, on the other hand, that student were a political science concentrator who wished to explore other fields, he might miss this opportunity to take biology because POLS 1130: “The American Presidency,” is offered at the same time. If that same student were to study abroad spring of junior year, it could well be spring of senior year before he has the opportunity to take biology, though that may yet be thwarted by the necessity to
Perhaps if one had been a humanities course, I could stop and pick up a syllabus on my way to the second class. But these were both mid-level science classes, sure to begin intense coursework from the first lecture. There was no way I could risk missing something important. There had to be a better way. Most of the work that a professor does for an individual class is preparation: making the slides or going through the readings. The actual act of lecturing is pretty simple once all
If students are prevented from taking the classes they desire because of conflicts, the open curriculum has failed. take a concentration requirement. Sadly, this situation is not uncommon. When I was registering for classes for this fall, I was deeply dissatisfied by a scheduling conflict. BIOL 0470: “Genetics,” and NEUR 1030: “Neural Systems,” are taught at the same time. While I knew that I definitely did not want to take both classes at the same time, I was unsure about which one I would rather take. As a potential biology or neuroscience concentrator, my decision would have a large impact on the path I would follow.
the background effort has been made. Therefore, it seems foolish that so many courses are only offered during one time slot for an entire semester. It would only take up a mere three additional hours a week of a professor’s time to repeat lectures. This trivial amount of extra work would be an enormous boon to students interested in exploring many fields. Now, I am not ignorant that professors will not like to work extra hours. They will say that over the course of four years, conflicts will work themselves out and you will
inevitably get to take the classes you desire. This is, however, a fallacy. The aforementioned political science concentrator might never be able to take biology. One goal of the open curriculum is to encourage students to explore different ways of thinking across many disciplines. If students are prevented from taking the classes they desire because of conflicts, the open curriculum has failed. This is especially problematic freshman and sophomore years, when students should be taking classes in many fields before finally declaring a concentration. In the best interests of Brown students and professors, I propose a much less drastic solution than making professors teach an entire additional section. During shopping period, professors should teach an additional section or two, so that students can attend conflicting classes and make an educated decision as to which one they will continue with for the duration of the semester. This way, professors will only have to teach an additional section for two weeks at most, students will be able to make an unfettered decision about classes and Brown will move one step closer to keeping its promise of an open curriculum.
Ethan Tobias ’12 is a biology concentrator from New York. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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Today The Brown Daily Herald
Students sample activities fare
to m o r r o w
68 / 60
67 / 58
Providence’s art scene on the cheap
Friday, September 11, 2009
d i a m o n d s a n d c oa l
Alien Weather Forecast | Stephen Lichenstein and Adam Wagner A diamond to the class of 2013. To us, you’re all magical. Coal to the Fish Co. bouncer who punched out a student’s tooth Wednesday night. The only thing you’re supposed to lose at Fish Co. is your dignity. Speaking of clubs, coal to the freshman at last night’s activities fair who told The Herald he was “saving myself for the best.” You might be waiting awhile — most things here are only 16thbest. And douchey.
Hippomaniac | Mat Becker
c a l e n da r
Today, september 11
Verney-Woolley Dining Hall
4 p.m. — Walking Tours: An Introduction to the City of Providence, Swearer Center for Public Service
Lunch — Rosemary Portobello Sub Sandwich, Chicken with Olives and Raisins, BLT Sandwich
Lunch — Chicken Fingers, Vegetarian Grinder, Sticky Rice, Summer Squash, S’mores Bars
5 p.m. — Book Reading with H.M. Naqvi, Brown Bookstore
Dinner — Closed for Athletics BBQ
Dinner — Closed for Athletics BBQ
RELEASE DATE– Monday, February 9, 2009
Los Angeles Times Puzzle c r o sDaily s w oCrossword rd Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 1 Epps of “House” 5 Misbehave 10 Certain herring 14 Volcano top 15 Terrible twos, e.g. 16 Sharpen 17 Group dance song with the repeated lyric “that’s what it’s all about” 19 German “a” 20 River through Idaho 21 Step counter 23 Long-eared beast 25 Theater award 26 Go over again and again 30 Answered a charge 32 Water source 35 Versatile, as a tool 37 Baseball tally 39 Coal containers 40 To whom Lee surrendered 42 Like Dalí’s famous watches 43 Signed 45 Points to 47 Word before break or dream 48 Points (at) 50 Beloved princess, familiarly 51 Hair line 53 “___ the fields we go” 54 Jelly-legged traveler to Oz 58 Get the better of 63 Lottery-like game 64 Commotion 66 Upsets 67 Roast host 68 Pinocchio, notably 69 Eyelid woe 70 Little arguments 71 Late-night Jay
DOWN 1 Adolph of publishing 2 Apollo 11 destination 3 “Diana” singer Paul 4 Really smell 5 Software program, briefly 6 Veal cuts 7 Movie director’s unit 8 Like cars in many classifieds 9 Desert hallucinogen 10 Luster 11 Pretentious 12 Actress Heche 13 Does and bucks 18 It can raise your dough 22 Hip ’60s types 24 Chase flies 26 Overzealous 27 Minneapolis suburb 28 Funny business 29 Church recess 30 Agendas 31 Give temporarily
33 Battle-ready 34 Soft drink with a “generation” 36 Hat edge 38 Dressed 41 Scrabble piece 44 Take a chance 46 Chocolate substitute 49 Cravings 52 Awakened 53 Barn baby
54 Runners on slopes 55 Part of CPA: Abbr. 56 Rear end 57 Ocean predator 59 Partner of void 60 One of the Great Lakes 61 __ Bator, Mongolia 62 Prefix with mania 65 Thumbs-up
ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE:
By Bob Rois (c)2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
A diamond to Brown economists who have figured out a way to estimate GDP growth from night-time lights seen from satellite images. College Hill neighbors will be thrilled to find out that the OMAC fields stack up as the world’s fourth wealthiest countr y. Coal to researchers who have discovered evidence of samesex yeast reproduction. It’s ‘A’ haploid and ‘Alpha’ haploid, not Adam and Steve! A diamond to the fact that the new Blue Room has shallower
muffin tins that yield a higher proportion of “muffin top.” Analysts say the domestic pastr y topheaviness index is the strongest it’s been since the tragic Croissant Collapse of 2004. Coal to the brand-new Baja’s restaurant, which ser ves frozen yogurt as well as burritos, Philly cheesesteaks and other spicy cuisine. If Juniper proves anything, it’s that Brown students will only buy frozen yogur t when the store sells absolutely nothing else (not even a different flavor). Coal to the ice-breaker game forced on freshmen during orientation, in which students were asked to illustrate how many squares of toilet paper they typically use, then — informed of the game’s rules — asked to “reveal something” for each square. Seems like anyone who gets this far has already revealed more than enough. Finally, a diamond to new VP for International Af fairs Matthew Gutmann, who spent years as a community organizer in Chicago. We’ll give you 30 days to produce a birth certificate.