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vol. cxlv, no. 15 | Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Serving the community daily since 1891
URC proposes stipend increase for grad students By Sarah Mancone Senior Staff Writer
The University Resources Committee has recommended increasing graduate student stipends — a change spurred in part by Brown’s need to be more competitive in attracting graduate students, said Professor of Physics Chung-I Tan, chair of the Faculty Executive Committee. The recommendation suggested a $500 increase, which, if approved by the Corporation when it convenes later this month, would be “the first increase in the stipend for doctoral students since the 2007-08 academic year,” Dean of the Graduate School Sheila Bonde wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Brown currently offers an academ-
Photo exhibit sheds light on Syria and Iraq By Sarah Mancone Senior Staff Writer
Westerners often have a limited view of the Middle East, but the photographs of the exhibit “Tomorrow, God Willing” by Emma LeBlanc ’11 provide insight into parts of Iraq and Syria that are seldom seen outside their borders.
R elay R eady
ic year stipend of $19,000 for doctoral students, according to Bonde. Brown offers a stipend “lower than the peer institutions” it competes with, Tan said. “The recommended increase, based on the cost of living in Providence, will allow the Graduate School to remain competitive with peer institutions in attracting and matriculating top-notch students,” Bonde wrote. “We list the stipend amount in the offer letters for doctoral programs.” “Graduate student stipends are one of the factors that are compared when people are ranking and comparing graduate schools,” Stephen Wicken GS wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “An extra few hundred dollars per stucontinued on page 3
Nick Sinnott-Armstrong / Herald
Relay For Life teams met last night to prepare for Brown’s April 9-10 event to support cancer research and services.
Rep. Kennedy not to seek reelection to Congress reelection this year,” Kennedy said in a video released to the media last Thursday.
By Claire Peracchio Senior Staff Writer
The news that Rep. Patrick Kennedy will not be seeking reelection offers has upended the race for the First Congressional District House seat and prompted two high-profile Democrats to enter the contest. “Now having spent two decades in politics, my life is taking a new direction, and I will not be a candidate for
METRO In the video, the eight-term incumbent cited the influence of his father, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, in shaping his views on public service and thanked the people of Rhode Island for their support.
LeBlanc originally took a leave of absence from Brown to study Arabic in Damascus, Syria, which she had also done the previous summer, she said. “I got to the highest level of Arabic,” LeBlanc said, “but didn’t want to go back to Brown yet.” Because of her continuing interest in the culture and language of Syria, LeBlanc began volunteering at the Dar al Karama — the Arabic phrase for House of Dignity — which is “a home for the old-aged, mentally and physically handicapped, and those seeking refuge from abuse, addiction or poverty,” according to a photo caption in the exhibit. “I finished the Arabic program offered at the University of Damascus and was looking for something else to do,” LeBlanc said, “which is how I ended up at the asylum.” “The physical conditions of the place are really shocking at first,” she said. “My first impressions were really negative.”
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win,” said Schiller, who attributed Kennedy’s retirement to fatigue and the belief that he could pursue his objectives in public service outside of Congress. Democrats Mayor David Cicilline ’83 and Bill Lynch, chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, entered the fray for their party’s nomination last Saturday. They joined state continued on page 4
After studying abroad, readjustment difficult for some
ARTS & CULTURE
continued on page 3
He also vowed to continue working on behalf of those suffering from mental health issues, a fight that was one of his signature priorities in the House of Representatives. Kennedy’s decision to retire was not last minute and was disclosed to members of his inner circle in December, according to Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Wendy Schiller. “I think he was always going to
By Anne Simons Staff Writer
Every year approximately one-third of the junior class spends a semester abroad — attending a foreign university, exploring a foreign country and adapting to a foreign culture. But by the time they return to Brown, it may have begun to feel foreign too. Re-entry shock, the “reaccultura-
Courtesy of Paige Hicks
Paige Hicks ’11 (right) at Salvador Dali’s home in Port Lligat, Spain. Hicks spent the fall semester in Barcelona.
tion” process that occurs when students return home from a sojourn abroad, is a real phenomenon, according to the Office of International Programs. Departing students receive information about it, including research and graphs charting students’ moods during the process of leaving and returning from study abroad, said Ned Quigley, associate director of the office. Paige Hicks ’11, who just returned from a semester in Barcelona,
said the OIP warned her departing group about re-entry shock, but they joked about it. She said when she first heard the term, she thinks she made a “that’s what she said” joke about it. Hicks was more anxious about getting used to life in Spain and expected things to be the same back home, she said. The different academic environment and cultural lifestyle have been hard to shake, she said. She still has not gotten reaccustomed to having to eat dinner by 7:30 p.m. For Evie Fowler ’11, who was also in Barcelona this fall, re-entry shock was “just as bad as the culture shock when you get there.” She is now always late and “can’t handle the Ratty,” she added. But Nina Lauro ’11, who spent the fall in Rome said she expected more re-entry shock than she has experienced. “Home was just the same as continued on page 2
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Students readjust to life at Brown after study abroad continued from page 1 it had ever been.” But coming back to Brown was “weird,” as was seeing the changes that had occurred in one semester, she said. In her Tae Kwon Do club, there were new members who felt established and viewed her as the new person. As she got used to being away from home, Fowler said she began “realizing a lot of stuff” about herself. Students may simply feel like different people when they return, OIP Director Kendall Brostuen said. While abroad, they have been “growing personally in a way that would be very, very difficult to duplicate on campus.” They now see the world through different eyes, he added. Allison Schneider ’10, who spent last spring in Buenos Aires, Argentina, said she got in touch with a different part of herself during her semester away, and that it was difficult to integrate her study abroad side and her Brown side. After a semester free from extracurricular commitment, she said she struggled to put in as much time as she had before she went abroad. She had to find a “balance” between “involvement and isolation,” she said. Schneider’s experience with reentry shock moved her to work as a peer advisor at the OIP, she said, adding that it allows her to share
her experience with people who understand it. These growing experiences can strain old friendships. Hicks said she tries hard to avoid over-sharing her stories from abroad with friends who did not go abroad so they don’t get sick of it. The other returners agreed — Lauro said she is “glad to be able to share (her) feelings with other people who were abroad,” who understand what she’s going through. Schneider said she had to realize that she doesn’t need to share her experience abroad with her old friends because they still share Brown. Even though she does not feel as at home at Brown as she used to, she said she has learned not to feel guilty or frustrated about that. Even if re-entry is not a comfortable process, it demonstrates that a student is not in the same place he or she was before, Brostuen said. It is “an indication that something positive has happened,” he added. Students who really struggle psychologically and emotionally with returning to Brown can speak to a dean, someone in the OIP or Psychological Services, Brostuen said, though he added there are usually not many people who reach that point. The OIP also works to help stu-
dents integrate their study abroad experiences with their life at Brown through collaborations with the Watson Institute for International Studies, the Swearer Center for Public Service and the Career Development Center, Quigley said. These events can help show students how to use their time abroad to enhance their job and graduate school searches, as well as their remaining time at Brown, he added. Students studying abroad generally take time to learn their new city and its culture, creating an intense bond. Fowler said four months abroad is definitely enough time that it can feel weird to come back. Her re-entr y shock experience could “easily” be a combination of the usual reacculturation as well as her lingering love for Barcelona, she said. While she still loves Providence, it “feels a lot smaller,” she said. People can “outgrow” a city. Lauro said she treated getting to know Rome like an extracurricular activity, a goal aided by the fact that her architectural history classes were usually spent walking around the city. She said she is coming to terms with the fact that she is not there anymore, although she added that she would love to return. Hicks said her time abroad made her see herself living abroad in the future. While she said she valued her semester, by the end she was ready to return home.
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Research teams awarded over $1 mil. in grants By Rebecca Ballhaus Contributing Writer
Last Wednesday, the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisor y Council awarded state-funded grants totaling over $1 million to six research teams, each with an affiliation to Brown, according to the Providence Business News. Christine Smith, the council’s innovation program manager, said that of the 38 proposals reviewed for the grants, about half included a Brown representative as a primar y proposer. “It just gives you an idea of the level of research activity that’s being conducted at Brown,” she said. “It’s representative of the environment.” The projects included research of an anti-cancer drug found in turmeric, a spice used in Indian curry, and the development of an instrument allowing three-dimensional vision of the bladder that would allow urologists to detect bladder cancer in its earliest stages, according to the grant-winners. Associate Professor of Engineering and Computer Science Gabriel Taubin is researching the 3-D camera with George Haleblian and Gyan Pareek of the Rhode Island Hospital and Jason Harr y of Lucidux Corporation. The team was awarded $199,895, according to the Business News. “We are ver y excited because this (grant) will give us the resources to work on this problem,” he said. “As we make progress within six months or so, we will be able to make the project bigger
and get more funding and eventually commissioning.” Smith said this is precisely what the grant is intended to do. “Its purpose is to provide funding at a catalytic stage of a group’s work so that we can give them a jump-start until they apply for federal funding or commercialize the product,” she said. Wayne Bowen, chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology, is researching the anti-cancerous qualities of turmeric with James Jacob of Organomed Corporation, a life sciences research company. The pair was awarded $200,000, according to the Business News. “The spice has been shown to have lots of medicinal value and has been used for many years in Indian medicine,” Bowen said. Curcumin is an “active component” in the spice’s effect on cancer cells, but it is scarce in nature, he said. “Our goal is to determine whether there are other bio-available compounds that have anti-cancer activity.” He added that the council’s grant will create many jobs for chemists at Organomed. Providing jobs and aiding the economy are also an impor tant goal of the grants, Smith said. After the proposals go through a peer review process by a scientist in the field, and are evaluated for their “intellectual merits and broader impacts,” they are also reviewed for their economic impact by councontinued on page 5
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“Graduate students get overlooked in a lot of plans on the University level.” —Jadrian Miles ’08 GS
U. shows devotion to Grad School through stipend increase continued from page 1 dent might just make the difference in taking Brown up a position or attracting an extra talented student or two.” There is a lot of “competitive pressure,” said Peter Weber, professor of chemistry and the department’s chair. The goal is to “attract who we want to attract,” he added. But competition with other institutions is not the only driving force behind the stipend increase. “Enhancing the Graduate School is an integral part to enhancing Brown,” Tan said. Furthermore, making Brown more attractive to graduate students helps to “strengthen its standing as a research institution,” said Jadrian Miles ’08 GS, a doctoral candidate in computer science. Graduate students are “an important part of Brown’s intellectual community, contributing to the research of our faculty, advancing knowledge through their own scholarship, and developing their teaching skills,” Bonde wrote. This change comes as a pleasant surprise to graduate students, Miles said. “Graduate students get overlooked in a lot of plans on the University level,” he said. The increase shows that the University is “taking graduate students seriously even in the current budgetary situation,” he said. “It’s important that the University is signaling support for the Graduate School even in tough economic times,” Bethany Ehlmann ’08 GS, a doctoral candidate in geological sciences, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. The stipends themselves vary from department to department, Tan said, though Weber said there is a “University rate set by the Dean of the Graduate School.” But the disparity between departments is noticeable.
Student’s photos tell ‘story you can’t see in black and white’ continued from page 1
Herald file photo
The University Resources Committee recommended a $500 increase in graduate student stipends.
“As a graduate student in the math department, I would welcome any increase in the grad student stipend, though I don’t see it as strictly necessary,” Diana Davis GS wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “My stipend is already quite sufficient for my living expenses, and I am able to save money each month.” But not all graduate students rely on University stipends — in fact, the majority are “not supported by the University,” Weber said. Many are supported by faculty members’ grants, he said, and if the University’s stipends for graduate students are higher, the amount of funding students receive through professors’ grants likely will have to adjust accordingly. But the effect on faculty is not only financial, because giving more attractive stipends and having a greater number of qualified graduate students “puts less pressure on faculty for research assistantships,” Miles said.
It also provides more teaching assistants for undergraduates, Miles said, which helps both students and faculty. Graduate students are stretched very thin, Wicken wrote. “The happier, better paid and less stressed the graduate students are, the better the teaching undergraduates receive.” Grad students have to focus on their own classes, research and writing, Wicken wrote. “If they have to do extra jobs to top up their grad school stipends, it’s going to be their TAing commitments that receive less attention.” “Most graduate students are severely strapped for cash,” Wicken wrote, “and many of them have families to feed.” Overall, any more money in your pocket is nice to have, Miles said. It is good to “see progress happening,” Miles said, “and I hope that it will continue down the line.”
But after first glance, LeBlanc realized the asylum was “a lot more complex” than she originally thought, she said. “People are very happy there,” she added. “You’ve got friends. You’ve got respect. You’ve got dignity.” “I heard all these amazing stories,” LeBlanc said, which then inspired her to write about and photograph the asylum and its residents. Each image of the House of Dignity, originally developed in color, is entirely black and white. “I wanted to sort of simplify the House of Dignity,” LeBlanc said, so the pictures are “focusing on the people.” The lack of color is meant to be ironic as well, LeBlanc said, because the photographs tell “a story you can’t see in black and white.” The exhibit also features portraits of members of Iraqi Awakening Council, which consist of Sunni tribe members that fought alongside al-Qaida until they grew disillusioned and switched sides in 2005. With help from the U.S., they killed Islamic extremists throughout the province of Anbar. LeBlanc came in contact with the council when a friend approached her in Damascus with an invitation to go to Iraq and photograph them. “It was pretty overwhelming at first,” LeBlanc said of photographing the council members. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.” LeBlanc said there was obviously “a lot of energy” in the council members she met. “People were unsure how things would go.” These experiences with the
council taught LeBlanc a great deal and gave her an opportunity to “learn something concrete about Iraq,” she said. LeBlanc added that she was able “to learn the processes, not just the results” of the events she had seen on the news. Before becoming close to the council’s tribal fighters, Americans tend to give them “no identity” and “don’t see them as people,” LeBlanc said, which is why the exhibit includes a large wall completely covered with portraits of members of the council. “These are people,” she said. “They want what’s best for them and what’s best for their country,” but at the same time they are “all totally different.” The pictures of the council, unlike those of the House of Dignity, remained in color. “The colors felt really soft,” LeBlanc said. “I didn’t feel that the colors were taking away from anything.” She said she “wanted you to feel like you were actually there” and “face-to-face” with the people on the wall. This is not the end of LeBlanc’s experiences with the House of Dignity and the council. She is currently writing a book of her experiences in the House of Dignity. “It will be mostly oral histories,” LeBlanc said, “the stories of the people there.” LeBlanc said she now lives in Syria while she’s not at Brown and will continue to volunteer at the House of Dignity about once every two weeks when she’s in Syria. LeBlanc will likely be taking another leave of absence from Brown in order to continue pursuing photojournalism in Iraq, where she hopes to return by the fall.
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“It seems to me that Rhode Islanders are ready for change, and I don’t see anybody that represents real change.” — Mayor David Cicilline ’83 Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Page 4
R.I. dance crew steps up Mayor Cicilline ’83 By Caitlin Trujillo Senior Staff Writer
Nicki Minaj’s “I Get Crazy” blares in the studio as the dancers watch themselves in the mirrors. One will stomp and dip his head, and the others will mimic. They pause to tell each other what they think they should do, each demonstrating specific moves. “We’re all choreographers,” Kelvin Fabian, one of the members of Rhode Island’s DraZtik dance crew, said. “It’s not just one person. That’s what’s unique about us.” The crew uses the studio at the High Steppin’ Dance Academy — located on the second floor of a commercial Johnston, R.I. property — as its workshop space. Typically, they meet two or three times a week to practice and choreograph their own dance routines. But there was nothing typical about the weeks leading up to DraZtik’s audition for a spot on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,”
when they met to practice daily. Their performance on the show — where they competed against other teams from the East Coast — was a remarkable feat despite their elimination at the regional level. Not that success was a surprise for the team. DraZtik will celebrate their one-year anniversary in March, but they are all veteran dancers — some members have been dancing since childhood. They bring to the table many different dance styles — raw hip hop, pop flair — which they creatively combine, “with a swish of DraZtik attitude to top it all off,” member Marvin Horsley said. They have competed in contests as a team and performed a Michael Jackson tribute dance last year at a Dominican heritage festival in Rhode Island, dedicating the performance to a cancer-stricken boy. When the opportunity presented itself, they knew they needed to make “America’s Best Dance Crew” their next goal. “I knew we could do it because
we have people who are dedicated and into the dream,” member Genesis Camacho said. They wanted to test themselves, but they also felt compelled to put Rhode Island on the map. Street dancing is popular in the state, member Christine Torres said, “but the scene is so small.” The seven-person crew auditioned in Boston on Dec. 11. Normally, the dance team has eight members, but because “America’s Best Dance Crew” limits the squads to seven, member Sheila Henriquez stayed behind. The two days of auditions exhausted the crew, they said. On the first day, they presented their own dance mix to the judges. The second day consisted of a challenge in which the crew had to formulate a routine incorporating a random prop — in DraZtik’s case, two ladders. It was an intense two days, but they are two days the crew remembers fondly. “It was all worth it,” Fabian said. “Obviously it was worth it because we made it.” DraZtik made it through the audition stage and onto the show in Los Angeles, where they competed continued on page 5
seeks Congress seat continued from page 1
Rep. John Loughlin, R-Dist. 71, the Republican challenger who announced his candidacy earlier in February. Other names that have been floated as possible candidates on the Democratic side include state Rep. Jon Brien, D-Dist. 50, and Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, Schiller said. Brien announced Thursday evening that he was forming an “exploratory committee” to assess the implications of a run for Congress. Roberts stated that she is considering running and will make a definitive announcement in the next couple days, Michael Tanaka, Roberts’ spokesperson, said. For Cicilline, the choice to run for Congress was based on his perception of a “dangerous disconnect” between Washington and the people of Rhode Island, he told The Herald. Cicilline credited his experience as mayor with showing him that there is “no more urgent time than now” to find “real solutions” to the problems faced by middle-class Americans. He cited achievements in advancing education reform, improving public safety, attracting new business, and building a “knowledge economy” as
evidence of a commitment to solving problems. To Loughlin, however, the Democratic contenders currently vying for Kennedy’s seat are “establishment candidates” who represent “the Democratic machine.” “It seems to me that Rhode Islanders are ready for change, and I don’t see anybody that represents real change,” he said. Loughlin linked Rhode Island’s economic woes, which include high unemployment and record foreclosures, to the legacy of Democratic rule both in Congress and the state’s General Assembly, and said he, unlike his opponents, is “ready to stand up to Congress.” While Rhode Island voters “tend towards the Democratic party,” the difficult political climate for Democrats in the state and across the country can be traced to a weak economy and the tendency for the party of the White House to lose seats in a midterm congressional election, Schiller said. As for predictions on the outcome of the race, Schiller offered a wait-andsee attitude and said the challenge left to candidates is to “sell themselves as far as what they can accomplish as congressmen.”
Local dance crew competes in MTV show continued from page 4 in the East Coast regionals. They performed the dance routine from their audition with a remastered mix, with adjustments based on the audition judges’ critiques. Then, finding themselves among the bottom three teams in the regional, DraZtik was forced to enter the battle rounds. In that part of the competition, they needed to make up three different routines for the three different rounds, though they would only end up performing one of the dances. Horsley called the dance they performed an aggressive, “in your face” piece. Not that DraZtik’s performance attitude reflected their relationships with other dance crews behind the scenes. DraZtik and the other teams fed off of each other’s energy, because of both the competition and the camaraderie that developed among the squads. DraZtik members said Legendary Seven, a squad from Boston and the other team eliminated from the East Coast regionals, was constantly making them laugh. The two squads still keep in touch. There was enough time between their elimination and the show’s airing on Feb. 4 for DraZtik to fly back to Rhode Island and watch the episode with their friends, family and fans — including Henriquez, who said she was extremely proud of her teammates. “I cried the night before, I cried
the nights of and after,” she said, adding she only wished she could have joined them in Los Angeles. Her teammates assure her she was with them in spirit. DraZtik’s members said they wish they could snap their fingers and be back in Los Angeles, competing for the top prize. But they refuse to be disappointed. They have upcoming performances at local universities and high schools, including Bryant University and Classical High School. They have bonded with other dance teams and kept in touch with them. They have gained several new Facebook friends, both on their own profiles and the team’s page. They have met the “good people” of MTV, taught their skills to other dancers at the Academy, and experienced “the realization that people support us,” Horsley said. And they have vowed to return. DraZtik will audition again when season six rolls around, they said. They want to continue dancing and think they have something unique to offer in terms of personality and style. They want to improve and do better next year, with the goal of winning it all. For this — and because they love what they do — DraZtik continues to put their name out there. “Every day you dance, you grow,” Horsley said. “Period.” The members of DraZtik are Genesis Camacho, Gabby Cruz, Kelvin Fabian, Sheila Henriquez, Marvin Horsley, Josh Perez, Jared Rivers and Christine Torres.
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
“Every day you dance, you grow.” — Marvin Horsley, member of DraZtik dance crew
Stimulus grant helps unemployed build futures BY Shara Azad Staff Writer
As a part of an effort to combat national unemployment and to reinvigorate the economy, the federal government has recently awarded the Providence-based Building Futures program with a $3.72 million federal stimulus grant. Building Futures was established in 2007 as an offshoot of the Providence Plan, which according to its Web site, is a broader initiative that addresses the underlying causes of Providence’s high poverty rate and general urban decline. Building Futures targets unemployment specifically by offering courses on construction-related subjects such as welding and laying pipe, so that people may in turn find specialized jobs requiring those skills, according to Andrew Cortes, director of Building Futures. The program goes one step farther after graduation by of-
fering apprenticeships with 28 local companies in construction-related fields that have formed partnerships with the organization. The apprenticeships generally provide half the salary of a full-time job, with the possibility of becoming a full or “journey-level worker” dependent on job performance, according to Cortes. The money will provide new resources and tools for the students in the program, and enable the organization to accept 100 new workers, he said. Cortes said the stimulus money will be used specifically to expand classes in what he called “the green curriculum,” which often lead to jobs in industries such as renewable energy. Marlo Jackson, a recent graduate of the program who is currently employed by Building Futures while he prepares for the exam required to enter the piping industry, was quick to praise the program. “Before Build-
Science grants support job development in R.I. continued from page 2 cil members who are “active in the academic and business community,” Smith explained. “The proposals that are awarded grants represent the best of science as well as the strongest proposals for the purpose of the grant, which is to improve economic development in Rhode Island,” Smith said.
With the state’s current fiscal situation, Smith said the state gover nment has considered cutting the council’s funding by $200,000. “We’re hopeful that won’t happen,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of support for this program and a really great need to do economic development across a continuum. We need programs that help people right now but also for the future.”
ing Futures, I wasn’t doing much of anything else,” he said. “Stick with (Building Futures) and it will change your life.” Sriniketh Nagavarapu, assistant professor of economics and environmental studies wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that the effect Building Futures has on the unemployment rate will depend on a “variety of factors.” “A program like this could very well decrease the unemployment rate, and the emphasis on labormarket attachment — through the apprenticeship program — could aid in that goal,” he wrote. “But how strong is the demand for these types of workers in the local economy or in neighboring states?” As the program expands, the future will tell if the program will build futures as well as Jackson claimed. “The name speaks for itself,” he said.
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Editorial & Letters The Brown Daily Herald
Page 6 | Tuesday, February 16, 2010
l e t t e r to t h e e d i to r
Employee buyout not actually ‘popular’ To the Editor: I was saddened to read The Herald’s article “Early retirement popular choice for longtime staff” (Feb. 15). What upset me was not the news of the buyout — I had known about it for months and had come to accept it as somewhat inevitable — but rather the way in which the title of the article misrepresented the buyout as “popular.” From what I know, many staff members chose to retire this year because they were told that if they chose to come back they would receive no severance package. Forced to choose between two undesirable options, staff members took whichever they decided was less painful. Such details are nowhere to be found in the article or in the interview with Phil O’Hara (“SAO Director O’Hara ’55 to take early retirement,” Feb. 15). I understand that the University needs to downsize in order to survive this economic downturn, but I can’t accept the fact that The Herald chose to portray the buyout as “popular” among staff members. Perhaps the word was chosen because 139 members of the Brown community, over 50 percent of the people who were offered the pack-
age, decided to take it. But the way I see it, the word appears to have been chosen primarily based on Beppie Huidekoper’s statement, quoted in the report: “The individuals who chose to take it are really quite pleased.” I’m disappointed by the fact that The Herald didn’t try hard enough to find out how those individuals actually felt before deciding the early retirement package was, in fact, regarded with approval by those who took it. I realize that O’Hara was interviewed to give voice to those who took the package, but he is only one of the 139 people. There are 138 other people you could have also contacted who probably would have been glad to tell you how much they loved this place and how they wished to stay a little longer, longer than just one more year. Many of them, like O’Hara, might have told you that they felt “blessed” they were at least offered the early retirement package. But not many of them would have told you they were “quite pleased” with the situation. From the looks of the interview with O’Hara, even he doesn’t seem pleased with this tragedy. Chris Suh ’10 Feb. 15
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erik stayton and evan donahue
e d i to r i a l
Don and taxes The state government is almost certainly in for a struggle over the budget that Governor Donald Carcieri ’65 recently submitted to the General Assembly. To help close a deficit of $427 million for the coming fiscal year, the governor proposes new and increased fees alongside drastic cuts in local services and state worker pensions. And to address a statewide unemployment rate of nearly 13 percent, he recommends tax credits for new hires and a reduction in the minimum tax rate for corporations. Ultimately, Rhode Island’s situation is miserable enough that everyone involved in the negotiations over the budget will have many bitter pills to swallow. The government-friendly Democratic supermajority in the Assembly should recognize that Carcieri’s proposed tax breaks are crucial for revitalizing the state’s economy. And the governor himself should acknowledge that some tax increases, carefully targeted to minimize economic disruption, may be necessary to avoid excessively scaling back Rhode Island’s public services. Without a kick to its economy, Rhode Island will face similar public crises in years to come. If enacted, Carcieri’s well-tailored plan to grant small businesses $2,000 in tax relief for each new hire would almost certainly provide a significant long-term boost to both the private and the public sector. The state Office of Revenue Analysis estimates that the proposal would allow for nearly 1,000 jobs that otherwise would not have existed and accelerate the creation of 5,000 more, at a cost of roughly $15 million over the next two fiscal years. It now falls to the Assembly to verify that the calculations used to produce these figures were sound. If so, the credits merit inclusion in the final budget legislation. If not, the Assembly should work with the governor to salvage the proposal rather than hastily scrapping it. Carcieri also hopes to halve the minimum tax rate
imposed on corporations and franchises; currently, even enterprises that don’t turn a profit must pay $500 to the state each year. Lightening this load would be especially helpful for entrepreneurial newcomers, who will be an important part of any real recovery. This modest approach to reducing the state’s heavy corporate taxes is also a welcome shift on Carcieri’s part: Last year, he proposed phasing out the entire corporate tax, which would have cut into state revenue without commensurately stimulating Rhode Island’s economy. The Assembly rightly shot down that proposal, but they should accept the halving of the minimum rate now and consider scaling back corporate taxes at all brackets once the budget crisis has receded. Carcieri should also give ground. After years of excessive spending and in the midst of a severe fiduciary crunch, steep budget cuts are in order. But the government can reduce the pain of this adjustment without mortgaging Rhode Island’s future economic well-being. For example, by freezing the rate of the flat tax — an alternative assessment attractive to some high earners — at its 2009 level, the state could bring in nearly $18 million in additional revenue. Most of the affected taxpayers would feel only a marginal pinch, not enough to prompt them to reduce their participation in the state economy. Two of the contenders to succeed Carcieri — Independent Lincoln Chafee ’75 and Democrat Frank Caprio — have already endorsed this measure, but the governor remains opposed. For the sake of the thousands of state residents and employees his cuts may unnecessarily hurt, he should reevaluate this stance. With almost 74,000 Rhode Islanders out of a job, their elected representatives shouldn’t consider bent principles much of a burden. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
corrections An article in Monday’s Herald (“Early retirement popular choice for longtime staff,” Feb. 15) incorrectly stated that departments must submit requests to fill vacancies to the Organizational Review Committee. In fact, they must submit requests to the Vacancy Review Committee. Due to an editing error, an article in Monday’s Herald (“Death of Schaefer ’13 devastates community,” Feb. 15) incorrectly described Troy Shapiro ’10 as one of the planners of a benefit party for Haiti organized by Avi Schaefer ’13. In fact, Shapiro was not directly involved in planning the event, though Schaefer solicited his advice during the planning process, according to Shapiro. The Herald regrets the errors. 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 email@example.com. 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
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Page 7
Good riddance, Goldman SIMON LIEBLING Opinions Columnist
Ruth Simmons stole my column idea. I was all excited this week to pile another column on to her Goldman Sachs nightmare, writing about why serving simultaneously as a director on the board of the world’s most infamous investment bank and as president of a university that keeps its investments secret from everyone might be something of an ethical problem. Just imagine: you’re an investment officer deciding where to put Brown’s money, your boss sits on the board of one of your most obvious options, and no one in the rabble can hold you accountable. It’s not too hard to figure out where you’re going to put that money. Presuming that Simmons wasn’t about to give up her cushy and well-connected $323,000-a-year gig as a Goldman director just because I asked her, I was going to cite her severe conflict of interest as the perfect example of why Brown needs real investment transparency reform — the kind that would let us see whether our hypothetical investment officer was investing our money intelligently or handing it over to a particular company that has been in the news lately for doing one thing with its clients’ money and betting against them with its own. But then she quit.
Of course, she claims she quit to respect her “increasing time requirements associated with her position as President,” which I suppose is what she has to say. But what I know is that her decision comes suspiciously soon after she faced campus scrutiny over her directorship for the first time since Goldman Sachs became the pariah of Wall Street. Two months ago, no one knew about her Goldman connection, much less discussed it. Now it fills the Herald for a few weeks, and all of a
she was discharging her duties as President every time she hobnobbed with the wealthy patrons at Goldman or helped bring their recruiters to campus. So it’s most likely that the combination of relentless campus attention and near-weekly revelations about the unconscionable garbage Goldman Sachs managed to pull off over the last few years was enough for Simmons to realize that her directorial position was untenable. And I know at least a few alumni made sure to
The combination of relentless campus attention and near-weekly revelations about the unconscionable garbage Goldman Sachs managed to pull off over the last few years was enough for Simmons to realize that her directorial position was untenable. sudden she gives up a post that has been hers for over 10 years. Besides, as some pointed out in the media hoopla over the last few weeks, her role at Goldman was in effect one of her “time requirements associated with her position as President.” Depending on who you ask, she served as a director to bring her enlightened “background in education” to Wall Street or because “Brown benefits from Simmons’ role in the financial sphere.” Either way, her directorial role was intimately tied to her presidential day job, and one could well argue that
register their displeasure with the disrepute her relationship with Goldman had brought upon their university. But whatever your reasons, Ruth, you did the right thing. No longer will Goldman be able to point to your “unique sensitivity to the views of women, minorities and young people” as “one of two women on the board (and) the only African American” to help excuse its billions in bonuses and corrupted government manipulation. Brown won’t have to suffer for its president’s high profile dalliances with the worst robber barons of our age. And maybe
that $323,000 lopped off your annual income will help make you a little more sympathetic to the families whose tuition payments you’re almost certainly going to hike again later this month. Unfortunately, though, Simmons’ resignation does not end her relationship with Goldman. According to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing from the firm in February, she owns 27,386 shares of Goldman stock, worth $4.2 million. Upon the end of her term as a director, she has an option for an additional 10,000 shares that would up her investment stake to $5.7 million. That leaves her with enough of a vested interest in Goldman’s continued profitability that the integrity of the University’s secret investments must remain in question. Until those investments are transparent and open, we have no way of knowing whether she is wielding undue influence over Brown’s investment decisions. But Simmons’ sudden departure from Goldman improves our chances of winning those necessary reforms. Her resignation is evidence to the fact that positive change at this university happens not through unprompted voluntary action by benevolent administrators but through sustained community pressure. We get angry, and they listen. And if that anger is enough to shake up Goldman Sachs, repairing our university should be no problem.
Simon Liebling ’12 is from New Jersey. He can be reached at simon. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The real language barrier ADRIENNE LANGLOIS Opinions Columnist Learning a foreign language is serious business. Although the rewards are great, the path to “fluency” — a concept which becomes more elusive the longer one pursues it — is long and arduous. And just when it seems like you’ve significantly expanded your abilities, you realize just how much you have left to learn. Despite my previous experience with foreign languages, I didn’t realize just how much work it takes to make a language “stick” until I took Arabic freshman year. Though I was and always have been enthusiastic about learning new languages, I found Arabic very difficult, which ultimately led to my decision not to continue in Arabic 300 sophomore year. For the year I took the class, however, I threw myself into learning the language, using every study method I could think of to master the alphabet and vocabulary. One of the most successful methods I found to help me memorize the seemingly neverending lists of words was making flashcards. With my stack of index cards, I was able to study nearly everywhere I went. I brought my flashcards to the gym, to the quesadilla line in Josiah’s, to orchestra rehearsal. So when I went home for breaks, it seemed only natural that I would take my flashcards with me on the plane. I don’t need to waste any more time singing the merits of flashcards: I know I’m not the only person who thinks their portability makes
them a highly effective study tool. After all, there should be nothing wrong with wanting to squeeze in a bit of extra studying. Nick George, a senior at Pomona College, thought so too. When he packed to go to the Philadelphia International Airport to fly back to California last summer, he stuck a pack of Arabic flashcards in his pocket to study on the plane. George said when he was taken aside for a routine personal screening, Transportation Security Administration officials were immediately suspicious of his innocuous study aid.
discussion session.) The same officials also said that George was seen “exhibiting anomalous behavior” prior to the discovery of the flashcards, but declined to elaborate further on his actions. George claims he never raised his voice and complied with all requests. His case is now going to federal court with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. George’s detainment is disturbing, and not just because it could have happened to anyone. The decision to handcuff and lock up a college student seemingly based solely on his posses-
The decision to handcuff and lock up a college student seemingly based solely on his possession of study aids for a language widely studied and spoken by innocent people in America and abroad recalls the unfortunate history of xenophobic actions in our country. George says one official asked him “who did 9/11” and if he knew “what language Osama bin Laden spoke.” He was soon handcuffed and removed from the airport for further questioning, and was detained in a cell for nearly five hours as police officers pored over his belongings — and found nothing. The justification? TSA officials were concerned about a few flashcards with words like “terrorist” and “bomb,” words George says he was learning because they frequently appear in Arabic news media. (For the record, I learned the word for “rocket launcher” within the first few weeks of Arabic 100 during a
sion of study aids for a language widely studied and spoken by innocent people in America and abroad recalls the unfortunate history of xenophobic actions in our country. George wasn’t a foreigner, but he was interested in a foreign culture that is often perceived as a threat to America. And our country has a long history of using this perceived threat to justify the detainment of civilians based solely on appearance or lingua franca. The most famous and embarrassing example of unjust detention, by far, is the decision to intern 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. Although their stories
are less well known, thousands of German- and Italian-Americans were also detained during this period, simply because of their culture and the language they spoke. Questionable detainment continues today in Guantánamo Bay, where many detainees have been held without charges for over six years. Detainment in a cell for five hours hardly compares to the years of internment that hundreds of thousands of individuals have experienced in the history of our country. But George’s experience of profiling based on his decision to study a language — in hopes of serving this country through the foreign service — is certainly an outgrowth of this disappointing intellectual legacy. I do not wish to decry the importance of thorough airport screening; in the wake of recent attempted attacks, careful attention to all airline passengers is even more critical. But the paranoia and stereotyping George and others have experienced undermines the integrity of our defense system nearly as much as attacks from the outside. Learning a language can open doors. It can expand minds, break down cultural barriers and increase understanding, if we are willing to commit the countless hours and tears required for even cursory mastery. The path to breaking down the prejudice and fear that leads to unjust detainment is already difficult enough — there is no reason to make it any more complicated.
Adrienne Langlois ’10 now studies Spanish again and is fully aware that Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro speak it as well.
Today The Brown Daily Herald
R.I. dance crew hits MTV show
1 Dot Comic | Eshan Mitra and Brendan Hainline
c a l e n da r 4:00 P.M. — Leyla Keough: “Driven Women: Gendered Moral Economies of New Migrations to Turkey,” Watson Institute 5:30 P.M. — Salman Rushdie: “Literature and Politics in the Modern World, Salomon 101
9:00 A.M. — Exhibit “MF Hussain: Early Masterpieces, 1950’s–70’s,” Pembroke Hall 4:00 P.M. — Write Well, Right Now, Sciences Library, Room 318
menu Sharpe Refectory
Verney-Woolley Dining Hall
Lunch — Creole Pork with Sugar Snap Peas, Vegan Creole Jambalaya, Kielbasa
Lunch — Vegan Dal Cali, French Bread Pepperoni Pizza, M&M Cookies
Dinner — Bourbon BBQ Chicken, Tomato Quiche, Nacho and Toppings Bar
Dinner — Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce, Herb Rice, Chocolate Cream Pie
38 / 25
39 / 28
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Cabernet Voltaire | Abe Pressman
tomorrow, February 17
to m o r r o w
Stimulus money to help unemployed
t h e n e w s i n i m ag e s
Today, february 16
Fruitopia | Andy Kim
Hippomaniac | Mat Becker
Island Republic | Kevin Grubb
STW | Jingtao Huang