vol. cxlvi, no. 40
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Facing pay wall, Library to offer digital Times
Study abroad apps up, but none to Egypt By Shanoor Seervai Contributing Writer
By talia Kagan Features Editor
continued on page 2
By AMY Rasmussen Senior Staff Writer
Garbed in formal black and red attire and hoisting medieval-looking banners, a faction of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property — a national organization that opposes gay marriage — descended on the Main Green at approximately 11 a.m. yesterday. The men were there to defend tradition, said John Ritchie, the group’s spokesman. “Homosexuality is a violation of God’s natural law,” he said. The Pennsylvania-based organization has over 200,000 members nationwide,
5,000 of whom reside in Rhode Island. The group, which originally positioned itself in the middle of the Green, used bagpipes to attract the attention of more than 20 onlookers before being forced to relocate to public property by the Department of Public Safety. The organization — currently on tour — is making a number of stops throughout Rhode Island, and leaders thought the University would be an important place to stage a protest, Ritchie said. The protestors stayed on the Green for approximately 15 minutes before moving to the sidewalk behind the Stephen Roberts ’62
Lydia Yamaguchi / Herald
The Sharpe Refectory welcomed spring with Polynesian chicken wings, Buffalo wings, spicy wings and Chinese chicken wings at lunch.
continued on page 4
Campus Center, said Paul Shanley, deputy chief of DPS. Shanley, who has been with the University for four years, said he has never seen anything like it. Most protests are associated with student groups, he said, but this group seemed “entirely independent.” Three men held aloft a sign reading “God’s Marriage = 1 Man & 1 Woman” and a lopsided red banner emblazoned with a golden lion. According to multiple onlookers, an unidentified male intentionally ran into the sign early in the protest. continued on page 5
UCS calls for water options in Faunce By David Chung Senior Staff Writer
continued on page 3
Students rally against antigay marriage demonstrators
spring wing fling
news...................2-3 CITY & State......4-6 arts.....................7-8 editorial.............10 Opinions.............11
Rattner said. UCS members have suggested installing an additional hydration station on the first floor, providing cups next to hydration stations and increasing the number of signs throughout the building. The campus life committee’s plans to address “portable water” accessibility are not yet concrete. The council is still determining what “portable water” options are best, but Rattner said, “the point is not to bring back bottled water.” The Brown University Community Council banned the selling of bottled water in campus eateries in November 2009 following a campaign by Beyond the Bottle. Rattner also announced a pilot
Lydia Yamaguchi / Herald
With bagpipes and banners, anti-gay marriage protestors from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property stormed the Main Green yesterday.
The Undergraduate Council of Students passed a resolution to increase water availability in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center and discussed the categorizations of approximately 30 student groups at its general body meeting last night. In response to complaints the council has received from students during office hours regarding insufficient access to water, Campus Life Chair David Rattner ’13 introduced a resolution last Wednesday recommending that the University introduce alternative water sources in the campus center. Because visitors frequent the center, the University must increase its efforts to enhance access to drinking water,
Editors’ note The Herald will not be publishing Fri. March 25. Check thebdh.org for breaking news, and look for the next issue on Mon. April 4.
Gets operatic and intergalactic Post-, inside
The University Library will continue to provide students with full same-day online access to New York Times articles after the paper erects its pay wall March 28, though the format for reading articles will be different from the Times’ website. Students will be able to access current issues — including supplemental material such as the magazine and book review — through the NewsBank service, which the University acquired Friday. Students will also continue to have access to other archived issues available through several databases linked from Josiah. These services are already available with a Brown Secure login and can be accessed off-campus through software provided by Computing and Information Services. The online NewsBank version of the Times is “a digital, fullcolor image of the paper,” David Banush, associate University library for access services, wrote in an email to The Herald. It is searchable through a navigation bar but resembles a scanned version of the print edition rather than the Times’ website.
Study abroad applications for this fall jumped to 310, up from 243 applications for last fall. But applications for programs in the Middle East did not see a similar rise — the Office of International Programs received 11 applications for programs in the region, the same number as last year. The Office of International Programs added Egypt to its list of Middle Eastern countries where students are prohibited from studying abroad. This list also includes Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, all of which are on the U.S. State Department travel warning list. Egypt was added to the travel warning list in late January at the outbreak of protests there. “Students, naturally, understand that the situation is fluid in Egypt,” said Kendall Brostuen, director of international programs and associate dean of the College. “We trust that as the situation stabilizes we will eventually be able to remove Egypt from the prohibition of travel list. We will continue to monitor this.” Elana Kreiger-Benson ’11, who studied abroad in Egypt last fall, said she knows how disappointed the students brought back from Egypt at the start of this semester were, but thinks the decision is understandable considering the dangerous conditions. The OIP runs study abroad programs in nine countries but also has a list of approved alternative programs, which Brown faculty committees have approved for credit transfer. The two students who were evacuated from Egypt this semester were participating in an approved alternative program in Alexandria run through Middlebury College. In the Middle East, there are approved programs in Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, according to the OIP website. Thirteen students studied in the Middle East last fall or are currently studying abroad in the region. Students can also petition the OIP for approval to participate in an alternative program, as Jessica Bendit ’12 did last fall. Although there was a Brownapproved program at the Ameri-
t o d ay
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The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Number of int’l fellowships granted stable By Dan Jeon Contributing Writer
Slightly fewer students applied for Brown Summer International Fellowships this year than last, but more applicants received awards, according to Roger Nozaki MAT’89, director of the Swearer Center for Public Service and associate dean of the College. This year, 58 applicants from a pool of 155 received awards. Last year, 55 of 165 applicants received awards. The International Fellowships — which include the Swearer International Public Service Fellowship, the Jack Ringer Southeast Asia Fellowship, the Marla Ruzicka International Public Service Fellowship and the Richard Smoke Fellowship — are summer-long projects in
receiving the fellowship, said Kerrissa Heffernan, director of faculty engagement and the Royce Fellowship. Because the application is a year-round procedure, the number of fellowships granted has remained constant. “There’s a rigor to the application process that keeps the impulse of applications down,” Flam said. Around 30 to 35 percent of applicants — between 50 and 70 students — are accepted each year. In contrast, about 200 students receive Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards each summer, Flam said. The larger number of grants is a result of greater benefits for faculty members in the UTRA program, he said, while international fellowships are more student driven.
Newsbank option fails to please students continued from page 1
which students pursue academic, social and personal interests internationally. The four fellowships all accept one common application. The application process can begin as early as September with conversations between students and fellowship program staff concerning academic and life aspirations. “The educational process starts from the first conversation,” Nozaki said. The most scholarly proposal does not necessarily gain funding over one that might be less bold but provide more opportunity for learning, said Alan Flam, director of advising and community collaborations. Applicants must have a faculty sponsor who approves the project. That connection is vital for research and ultimately
“We recognize that this is not an ideal replacement for the website, but it is what we can do now to ensure that complete access is not interrupted,” Banush wrote. The Times does not currently provide group or institutional access to its site, but may do so in the future, Banush added. “If and when that option becomes available, we will investigate it.” NewsBank does not offer any device-specific support and the web page itself is “unlikely to be very readable on a phone,” Banush wrote, adding that it might function better on a tablet computer. Nikilesh Eswarapu ’12 said
he currently reads the Times through an iPhone application, but he would use the NewsBank service on his computer. Though he subscribes to other print media such as the Wall Street Journal, he said he is not willing to pay the Times digital subscription fee — at least, not as a student. In the future, he said, “It’s something I would pay for.” Katherine Blessing ’13 said she did not “like the sound of ” the new pay wall system but was less upset upon finding out that she could access unlimited online content through her parents’ print subscription. She said she found the NewsBank version less “user-friendly” than the Times’
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own website. “You can’t click on any links,” she added. “I think it’s kind of disappointing,” Adrienne Tran ’14 said of the NewsBank version. “I like looking at the ‘most-emailed’ (list).” She added that though she appreciated the new option, the interface is “just not as clean.” Home delivery subscribers — a subscription for print delivery to campus costs $14.80 per week — will continue to enjoy full digital access. Digital subscriptions range in price from $3.75 to $8.75 per week, depending on access level. When the pay wall is launched, all online readers will have free access to up to 20 articles or other media features each month.
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Campus News 3
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Ne ws in brief Feedback scarce on library database The University Library is struggling to obtain student and faculty feedback on a one-month trial of a materials science database, said Lee Pedersen, scholarly resources librarian. The database — called Material ConneXion — provides information about a wide variety of materials often used in visual arts and industrial design. Library administrators will decide whether or not to purchase an annual subscription after the trial period ends April 1, she said. The live database is used primarily in industry — few universities purchase subscriptions due to its high cost. Though she did not disclose the exact cost of an annual subscription, Pedersen indicated that it is between $3,000 and $10,000. The library often tests out research databases. But the typical trial lasts about two weeks, and only library administrators assess the service, Pedersen said. Administrators pushed for a longer trial period for Material ConneXion to allow input from faculty and students. But feedback so far has been “very limited,” Pedersen said. “It’s extremely important with the limited resources that the library has that we have a level of enthusiasm to get something this new, and so far we haven’t heard any serious enthusiasm,” Pedersen said. “With something like this, we’d need faculty feedback as much as students’.” “Each year, the library receives many requests for … purchases and subscriptions,” David Banush, associate University librarian for access services and collection management, wrote in an email to The Herald. “The dollar value of those requests far exceeds what we have available in our budgets. The library tries to weigh carefully all of the available evidence and allocate its funds to provide the widest access to the broadest set of resources we can.” The initial recommendation for the database came from Siyi Liu GS, who has been active in promoting the trial. “I want to see if there really (is) the need on campus,” Liu said. She said the low level of student and faculty feedback is unfortunate. — Jeffrey Handler
Todd Harris / Herald
UCS considered student group categorization requests and is moving forward with its own election processes.
UCS approves categorization requests continued from page 1 program for extended weekend dining hours on Pembroke campus will begin at the Gate April 9. The Gate will be open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, though pizza and panini will not be available, he said. The council also reviewed categorization requests by a host of student groups and approved the decategorization of two groups. The Italian Students’ Association, the
Brown Ballet Club, the Canadian Society of Brown, iTeach and the Brown Laughter Yoga Club were among the new groups which were approved. Students in iTeach will teach English to residents of remote areas of Cambodia over the Internet. According to Ralanda Nelson ’12, student activities chair, the Brown Laughter Yoga Club will provide a place for students to discover the relaxing benefits of laughter. UCS moved to decategorize Stu-
dents for Liberty and the Key Society. Both groups have low membership and have struggled to maintain their intended roles on campus. The council is also moving forward with the election processes for UCS, Undergraduate Finance Board and Class Coordinating Board positions. Candidates are currently collecting signatures from the community, and campaigning will commence after a candidates’ meeting April 4 at 9 p.m.
4 City & State
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Egypt added to list of prohibited countries for study abroad continued from page 1 can University of Cairo, Bendit said she wanted a different experience and applied for a program with America-Mideast Educational and Training Services. Bendit speculated that applications to study abroad in the Middle East will decrease for a while until parents and students feel safe.
“But the trend for the past couple of years has been an increasing number of students studying abroad in the Middle East,” she said. “I see that continuing because I believe that this is one of the most exciting times to be a student of Middle Eastern affairs.” Julia Sheehy-Chan ’12, who is currently studying abroad in Jordan, also speculated there will be more interest in the region. She
wrote in an email to The Herald that she is not concerned for her safety in light of recent events, but her parents are. “I’m actually going to Egypt for my spring break with a few of my friends, and I don’t foresee any serious problems,” she wrote. The political situations in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain are fascinating but do not “seem real,” Sheehy-Chan wrote.
Sheehy-Chan wrote that her interest in the region has increased in light of the demonstrations. “It doesn’t feel as though we’re right in the middle of things. We’ve built new lives here, and for most of us, it feels like home here, and we feel just as stable and safe as we did in the U.S.,” she added. The number of students studying abroad this academic year
was the lowest in three years — 423 students studied abroad this year, compared to 445 last academic year and 479 in the 200809 academic year, according to Brostuen. The number of applications received does not indicate the number of students who will study abroad this fall because some students apply to multiple programs and others do not end up studying abroad.
Letters, please! letters @ brown daily herald . com
City & State 5
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Students rally against anti-gay marriage protest R.I. rethinks early prison release laws
continued from page 1 “I’m really offended,” said Kerry McKittrick ’13, one of the first students to see the protest on the Green. “It’s essentially a hate rally.” Students opposing the group mobilized quickly, scrawling makeshift signs, hoisting a rainbow door and handing out rainbow pins to passersby. As classes let out at noon, numbers swelled into the hundreds, and curious onlookers pressed up against the windows of the four floors of J. Walter Wilson. Aida Manduley ’11, Queer Alliance head chair and Queer Coordinating Committee leader, said she heard about the protest from a friend’s text message. She ran to her dorm to don a rainbow outfit, sent out Facebook and email messages “to rally the troops” and hurried to the Green. The student response was “tremendous,” Manduley said. “We know they have a right to free speech,” she said of the antigay marriage group. But if speech is hateful, “the Brown community will not stay silent,” she added. When one of the group’s volunteers tried to give University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson a pamphlet, she said she handed it back to him and told him her position.“He just looked stunned,” she said. Cooper — who has worked to advance the issue of gay marriage in the state for “a long time” — did not wait for a response. “If there had been any opportunity for real conversation, I would have tried to take it,” she added. “I didn’t think there was, and I just kept walking.” “It’s really showing how gayfriendly Brown is,” said Charlie Greene ’13 of the student response to the protest. The anti-gay marriage activists were a “very typical, cookie-cutter group,” Judy Park ’13 said. The protest’s approximately 15 members, were mostly white and entirely male. Brynn Smith ’11 said she was going to work when she caught wind of the protest and rushed to help. As a senior, Smith has seen protests of this sort before, but they have “never been so explicitly hateful, so explicitly tasteless,” she said. Manduley said she thought the group came to the University to gain media attention for its cause. “Because it’s a college and there’s this idea that kids are wild and crazy, especially at Brown, they think they can find fodder for their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric,” she said. The group has just come from Maryland, said full-time volunteer Danniel Pribble, where a bill to legalize gay marriage recently died in the state House of Representatives. They visited Warwick Tuesday and received many more supportive honks from drivers than at Brown, he said. Only a few of the many cars fighting through the mass of students and protestors on Waterman Street honked in support of the group. Cries of, “Hey ho, homophobia’s got to go” and “What do we want?
continued from page 12
Courtesy of Aida Manduley
for ways to keep him behind bars. But after reviewing the statute, officials determined that good time can only be rescinded if convicts commit infractions in jail, Kilmartin said. The good time benefits Woodmansee has accumulated cannot be annulled without evidence of misconduct. John Foreman, Jason Foreman’s father, has appeared on media outlets threatening Woodmansee with revenge if he is released. Prosecutors are working to notify the Foreman family of the tools at its disposal, including the victims’ advocacy unit at the Office of the Attorney General.
Hundreds of students gathered in response to the anti-gay marriage protest staged yesterday by a Pennsylvania organization.
Equality!” nearly drowned out the strains of patriotic music emanating from the group’s bagpipes and drums. At one point during the protest, two female students kissed in front of the flag-bearers to raucous cheers from onlookers. “We’re interested in a conversation,” said Benedict Landgren Mills MD’14, wrapped in a rainbow blanket. “But this is not the milieu for it.” Shredded pamphlets littered the sidewalk as students crowded around volunteers to ask questions, shout obscenities and try to engage in conversation with them. Sarah Engle ’11 pointed to the lack of meaningful evidence supporting the group’s assertions. Its literature, which lists 10 reasons “why homosexual ‘marriage’ is harmful and must be opposed,” cites no specific passages of scripture to support its claims, she said. The group was woefully unprepared for the outspoken, activist nature of the University, Engle added. “If you’re going to come here, you need to bring some facts.” “I’m reporting to Genesis,” Miller said in response to student accusations that the group failed to adequately support its claims. The on-campus response to the protest was “middle of the road,” said John Miller, a full-time volunteer with the organization. Having been to many college campuses with the group, Miller expressed surprise at the nature of student arguments. “The intellectual level is below the Ivy League status,” he said. At 12:20 p.m., the group packed up and led a military band-style march down Waterman, Thayer and George streets. Students and community members followed close behind, chanting “two, four, six, eight, get your hate out of our state!” Some tried to jump in front of the group to bring it to a halt, but they were admonished by DPS officers for blocking the public sidewalk. “They were essentially leading a gay pride parade,” Michael Stumpf ’13 said of the ending march, adding that one of the volunteers he spoke with admitted that the
group’s mission is sometimes counterproductive. About an hour and a half after their initial arrival, the men rolled up their red banners, piled into three vans and drove off. Their departure, met with the enthusiastic cheers of about 150 onlookers, was set to the tune of a male student saxophonist playing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” In the coming days, the LGBTQ community will decide how to of-
ficially reply to the protest, Manduley said. The LGBTQ Resource Center held office hours yesterday from 6 to 8 p.m. to offer students a chance to decompress after the day’s events. For now, she said, “I felt like it was a really great thing to have happen at Brown because of how we chose to respond.” — With additional reporting by Claire Schlessinger
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6 City & State
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
At forum, community laments school closings By Kat thornton Senior Staff Writer
At a meeting to address the announced Providence school closings yesterday at Classical High School, upset students, teachers and parents loudly expressed opposition and urged the Providence Public School Board to reconsider the city’s decision to close their schools. A large group of students from Bridgham Middle School carried signs and wore T-shirts protesting the closure of the school. Rosie Castor, a seventh-grader, said the students organized the protest themselves. “We are hoping for the school to stay open,” she said. The forum was the second in a series of six community meetings held this week to allow community members to voice their opinions on the closings and ask questions of school officials. Within 30 days of these hearings, the Providence Public School Board will vote on the closings, said Carleton Jones, chief operating officer of the Providence Public School Department. At the beginning of the forum, Jones told the audience that, in the upcoming transition, no students would have to move to a lowerperforming school or be in larger classes. Superintendent Tom Brady
Kat Thornton / Herald
Students, teachers and parents spoke out yesterday at Classical High School against Providence’s proposed school closings.
also spoke at the forum. Forty to 70 teaching positions will be eliminated, and 1,500 to 2,500 students will be displaced due to the closures. The city has
also proposed closing four elementary schools — Asa Messer Elementary School, Asa Messer Annex, West Broadway Elementary School and Flynn Elementary
School. Bridgham Middle School will be converted into an elementary school for these students, and Bridgham students will be transferred to other middle schools.
After Jones spoke, the meeting opened to testimony from the community. Numerous students from Bridgham Middle School spoke against the mayor’s decision to close their school. Teachers, students and parents from Asa Messer and Asa Messer Annex also spoke out. Alice Cooper, an English as a Second Language teacher at Asa Messer, said her school ranked third out of 26 schools in the district for writing. Given Asa Messer’s performance, she said she did not understand why it should close. “We love our school, and we’ve worked really hard,” Cooper said. Brown student volunteers at Asa Messer and Asa Messer Annex were also present at the hearing to oppose the school’s closing. Zack Mezera ’13, who organized students at Hope High School to protest schedule changes there, introduced himself as a Brown student. “Please tax me,” he said. The University currently does not pay property taxes on its academic buildings. Mezera urged the community to show its opposition on its own terms and not just at meetings organized by the school district. “You’ve got to show that you care in a way that’s not set up by the district,” he said.
Ed. commissioner maintains positive outlook for R.I. schools By ELizabeth carr Staff Writer
Education Commissioner Deborah Gist expressed optimism about the implementation of federal Race to the Top funding and the current
outlook for the state’s education program in front of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Health, Education and Welfare Committee yesterday. She did not touch on recent dramatic educational developments in the state,
such as the planned closing of four Providence schools, the dismissal of all the city’s teachers or the shakeup in the state board of regents. “We have incredible things going on all over the state,” she said. Rhode Island is slated to receive $75 million in Race to the Top funding in the coming school year. Gist emphasized the state’s “very brief window of time to use this funding and use it well.” She urged legislators to “take advantage of this investment to turn our schools around.” Gist articulated her goal to create “the best public schools in America,” which she noted are currently “only a short drive away” in Massachusetts. She expressed gratitude to Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 for formulating a budget plan that fully finances her funding formula, which allocates nearly $700 million to schools starting July 1. Gist described the formula as “dynamic,” because the amount of money the state distributes to each district is dependent on how many students are enrolled, so “the funding follows the student.” Gist said she is proud Chafee’s budget has promised “solid support” for education. Chafee, who plans to dedicate an additional $10 million to higher education in the state, sees investments in education as “essentially an investment in our economy,” according to Gist. Gist cited a recent success — on state assessments, Rhode Island high school students outperformed
students in New Hampshire and Vermont. She also explored some major issues plaguing the state’s education system. Only 33 percent of high school students are proficient in mathematics. The graduation rate, which is around 75 percent statewide, is 60 percent or lower in some schools. And, by some statistics, Hispanic students in Rhode Island have the lowest achievement in the country as compared to Hispanic students in other states, which Gist said she found “deeply, deeply disturbing.” The state aims to grapple with these problems through a number of new programs, including her funding formula, Gist said. The recently instituted Uniform Chart of Accounts — a “system of accounting that provides transparency … uniformity and accountability in how schools are investing their funds” — will help school officials analyze how best to distribute money. Gist said the system will make it possible to “compare financial data from district to district and school to school.” During the question and answer session, Gist defended the New England Common Assessment Program, which the representative asking the question referred to as “high stakes,” because poor scores lead to reduced federal funding. “Our state assessment … is absolutely appropriate,” she said. But she added that annual feedback is not frequent enough to help teachers improve. “We want to make sure
that our teachers have tools to use on an on-going basis,” she said. Gist’s address ended with a discussion of the next bill on the committee’s agenda, which would allow certain schools within the state to use Race to the Top grants to temporarily employ retired teachers, administrators and state Board of Regents employees. If the bill passes, a total of 50 education professionals — whom Gist called “master teachers” — would be hired as “intermediate service providers” for up to 90 days per school year for three years to help with standards, curriculum and evaluations. “We want to hire the best,” Gist said. “We don’t want to be restrictive about that.” The bill would keep jobs in Rhode Island, Gist said. “If we don’t have this passed, our alternative is to go to Connecticut and Massachusetts and hire people there,” she said. She added she would rather hire professionals from within the state who understand the system and the community. State Rep. James McLaughlin, D-Cumberland and Central Falls, expressed concern about pulling former education professionals out of retirement while many teachers are unemployed in the state. Gist encouraged available teachers to apply for the positions, but emphasized that the plan “can’t be a program for jobs.” “This is not going to resolve employment,” she said. “We have to make the decisions that are best for our students.”
Arts & Culture 7
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
‘Next to Normal’ demystifies the American family By Emma wohl Senior Staff Writer
The musical “Next to Normal,” running through March 27 at Providence Performing Arts Center as part of a nationwide tour, does not explore magic, rock and roll, race politics or any of the issues dominating other recent Broadway hits. Rather, it is about something much more mysterious — the modern American family. The show follows the trials and tribulations of the Goodman family. In the opening number, its members appear to fit neatly into traditional roles — devoted family man Dan, anxious housewife Diana, over-achieving daughter and mischievous son. But naturally, all is not as it seems. About 10 minutes into the show, the audience gets a shock — Diana has suffered from bipolar disorder for the past 16 years. This revelation is handled with deft understatement. It is hard to pinpoint the moment — sometime between when she declares to her daughter that she is going upstairs to have sex and when she starts frantically making sandwiches on the dining room floor — when it becomes clear Diana is not simply quirky, but mentally ill. It is easy to see how Dan, Diana’s utterly devoted husband, could fall in love with such a free-spirited, self-assured woman. Tragically, it is equally easy to see how he was never more than a quick fix for Diana’s difficult situation. Though medication initially helps her deal with her symptoms, it also leaves Diana emotionally numb and unable to respond to her husband’s concern or her daughter’s desperate pleas for attention. “I miss the mountains,
Courtesy of Craig Schwartz
Cast members Alice Ripley and Asa Somers struggle to connect in this emotionally charged musical.
I miss the highs and lows,” she declares in song as she makes the cataclysmic decision to give up her regimen of pills. Many aspects of “Next to Normal” — from the theatrical to the technical — are downplayed, but in such a way that does not call attention to their minimalism. There are only six cast members — no huge backing chorus, just the central family and their hangers-on. Rather than a traditional pit orchestra, the songs are accompanied by just six musicians, who play a variety of instruments while nestled into the set itself. This spare orchestration occasionally leaves the audience feeling as if the songs lack depth or an emotional core. But most of the time, the singers, belting out their feelings over a single synthesizer, supply that emotion.
The set is a three-story scaffolding with staircases and walls that move to reflect the characters’ needs — becoming a house, a school and a doctor’s office. In this production, the female characters steal the show. As Diana, Alice Ripley returns to the role for which she won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. It is difficult to comment on Ripley’s performance in a role she
plays so naturally. In fact, Tom Kitt, the show’s composer, wrote the role with her in mind, according to the show’s brochure. The well-worn familiarity with which she plays the part, a role she has owned since it debuted off-Broadway in 2008, parallels her character’s comfortable acceptance of her illness — at least until she gets fed up with acceptance and spirals out of control. Emma Hunton has a number
of show-stealing moments as Natalie, Diana’s hard-working but frustrated daughter. Her desperate attempts to escape her home situation and the relationship she finds with utterly devoted classmate Henry mirror her mother’s battles. When Hunton sings, her clear, beautiful voice masks the ugly reality she is mourning. No such escape comes from Ripley’s singing. Clearly very technically proficient, she also conveys through her voice an emotional depth that is sometimes missing from her castmates’ performances. When she sings, she embodies all the more clearly her character’s fragile mental state. Though the show experienced technical difficulties in its opening night — primarily revolving around the balance between the actors’ microphones and the backing music — they were not enough to distract from the overall performance. The microphone issues were resolved by the second act, which closed with the most dramatic set piece of the show. As the cast members experienced their final moment of catharsis from the trials they had experienced, they declared, “Let there be light.” A wall of light bulbs flashed behind them in true Broadway fashion. The rest was silence, darkness and roaring applause.
8 Arts & Culture
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Q&A: Sadleir discusses ‘Normal,’ life on the road By emma wohl Senior Staff Writer
Preston Sadleir, who plays the young, hopeful Henry in the touring production of “Next to Normal,” spoke with The Herald from his hotel room in Des Moines, Iowa. The Herald: How did you get involved in this show? Preston Sadleir: I think I am one of those actors who knew very early on that the artistic route was my route. I did community theater in Salt Lake City, which is not generally considered a booming theater scene.
Right after leaving high school, I went to film school. I studied at (Brigham Young University), which actually has a fantastic theater program. Then I had an agent showcase in New York City. One of my first jobs in New York was in a workshop for a new musical. The director was Michael Greif, who also directed “Next to Normal.” Fast-forward to a year later, the show was going on national tour and he asked me to do a read for the role of Henry. So everything just fell into place. What’s it like being on tour? Do you do things differently in each city?
It never stops being strange. … You feel like you’re doing the same job but in a strange dream place. At the same time, having different theaters and sets helps keep the performances fresh. And there are definitely different city cultures among audiences. I’m excited because the Providence show marks the first time the tour reaches the East Coast. I think we’re going to have a lot more audience members who’ve seen the show before. What can you tell me about your character? How do you relate to him?
Henry is a 17-year-old high school student. The show is really centered around the Goodman family, and I kind of act as an outsider to a pretty heavy family situation. He’s in love and kind of naive. The show’s very dark, and I see my role as to introduce as much hope and support as I possibly can. I try to bring joy and productivity to the situation. What is the cast dynamic? How do you feel being around some pretty big-name stars? In a cast of six, you gravitate to each other pretty quickly. The six of us have to be really on top of
our game. Throw in the element of touring together, and that just compounds everything. And sharing the stage with Alice Ripley is just a huge honor. Most of my scenes are with Emma Hunton, who plays Natalie. She makes the show so fun, and at times she makes it dangerous by trying to make me laugh. So what’s up next for you? We’re all kind of on board with the tour until July. After that … just having a job is great, but after being on the road for a while, I definitely want to stick around in one place for a while.
Alum makes Broadway debut By elizabeth carr Staff Writer
Jessie Austrian ’03 MFA’06 made her Broadway debut Tuesday, playing Gwendolen Fairfax in the Roundabout Theater production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. The production, which began in December, has extended its run through July 3. Sara Topham — who was originally cast to play Gwendolen — was unable to continue with the extension due to conflicting commitments to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Austrian said she was called to come read the script in midFebruary and received a call back Feb. 17. By March 1, she was rehearsing three times a week with the cast as an official member. Overall, she said, the experience has been exciting. “Brian Bedford is just phenom-
enal,” Austrian said of the Tony Award-winning actor who both directs the production and stars as Lady Bracknell. “It’s an honor to work with him and the rest of the cast.” Austrian said that Wilde’s original text has only been slightly cut. “The writing is just so clever and so witty and so much fun,” she said. Austrian credits her Brown experience for her current success. “There’s no way in hell I would have gotten this job if not for the training at the Brown/Trinity (master’s of fine arts) program,” she said. “I learned a lot from Lowry Marshall,” she said, also recalling clinical professors of theater, speech and dance Brian McEleney and Stephen Berenson, as well as Clinical Associate Professor of Theater Arts and Performance Studies Thom Jones as instructors
who influenced her. “It’s rare to find an actress as physically beautiful as Jessie who also has such strong comic chops, great language skills and the ability to play in both the contemporary and classic worlds,” Berenson wrote in an email to The Herald. He also credited her vocal skills to Jones’ training. Berenson recalled attending a production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” with Jones. “At intermission he said to me, ‘Wouldn’t Jessie Austrian be a perfect Gwendolen?’ Sometimes the theater gods are listening right beside you. Or perhaps Mr. Bedford has spies in the lobby,” he wrote. “Our acting program stresses the importance of finding an authentic self and an authentic voice, and Jessie took that charge very seriously and ran with it,” McEleney wrote in an email to The Herald. “The results speak for themselves.” McEleney recalled that in the three years he worked with Austrian in the MFA program “she grew from a girl into a woman, confident in her strength, her passion, her intelligence and her vulnerability.” After graduation, Austrian founded Fiasco Theatre Company in New York with fellow alums. “It’s given me more confidence,” she said of her experience with Fiasco. “It makes me very happy.” Austrian said that her experiences both at Brown and with Fiasco have helped her reach this point in her career. Without them, “I wouldn’t be as successful as I luckily have been over the past few years,” she said.
#winning = following @the_herald
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Bruno finishes 11th in spring opener By Sam Rubinroit Sports Staff Writer
After a five-month furlough, the women’s golf team returned to action Sunday for its spring season and earned 11th place out of 14 teams at the Low Country Intercollegiate in South Carolina. The tournament was the team’s first since Oct. 25, when they earned second place at the Sacred Heart Invitational. “The first tournament of the spring is always a little bit rough,” said Head Coach Danielle Griffiths. “We definitely needed to get the rust off and go play in some warmer weather.” Though Griffiths said she encourages her team to remain active over the break, her players said hitting balls and playing practice rounds do not compare to the feel of a college tournament. “All of us worked hard over the winter, but I think playing in a competitive setting is always different than practicing,” Megan Tuohy ’12 said. “The first tournament gives us the opportunity to get settled back into the competitive season.” Tuohy’s two-day score of 167 (86-81) ranked her second on the team behind Susan Restrepo ’11, who led the Bears by carding a 166 (87-79) and earning 33rd place individually. The team’s score of 675
(346-329) earned them 11th place, a slightly disappointing finish after cracking the top 10 in every tournament last fall. “I think all of us left thinking we could have done better, but I think that’s the way golf is,” Tuohy said. “I don’t think anyone was extremely pleased with the way we finished, but we didn’t leave discouraged.” For Griffiths, the reason for the team’s substandard finish was clear. “It’s very obvious that we are going to focus on short game,” she said. “We played on a golf course that was in great shape and the greens were very, very small, and that makes it even more evident that getting the ball up and down, which means putting and chipping, is what we are going to focus on.” “In the fall, we are chipping and putting more, so you definitely have a lot more feel around the greens,” Tuohy said. “That is something we have to work on as we get back for the spring.” The team continues to prepare for the Ivy League Championship at the end of April by traveling to California March 28-29 to compete at California State University at Monterey Bay. Griffiths said she is using the trip as an opportunity to bring players closer together by having them stay in a house and rely on one another to cook and clean.
“Living together in the house will definitely help with team bonding,” Tuohy said. “Our team is very close in general. We are a small team, and we spend a lot of time together, so it will be fun to be in a house together rather than being split up in hotel rooms.”
comics BB & Z | Cole Pruitt, Andrew Seiden, Valerie Hsiung and Dan Ricker
Dot Comic | Eshan Mitra and Brendan Hainline
10 Editorial & Letter Editorial
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
b y a l e x y u ly
Chill out Ever since the Spring Weekend lineup was finalized last week, we have been hearing murmurs on campus. Some have already seen TV on the Radio perform in Providence. Some have never heard of any of the supporting acts. Others have billed Diddy a washed-up celebrity rather than performer. So we feel it necessary to offer our advice: Chill out and trust Brown Concert Agency. This is one of the most promising Spring Weekends in recent history. First, it is important to cut BCA some slack. As one of the most scrutinized groups at Brown, it is under immense pressure to put out two great shows. While the group gets a very large budget, it lacks the kind of funding needed to get universally recognizable acts. For less musically inclined students, sorry — Lady Gaga ain’t walking through that door. This has been a particularly challenging year for BCA. The University scheduled Spring Weekend for the same dates as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, a major music festival that attracted over 200,000 attendees last year. That is some tough competition. Also, BCA booking chair Abby Schreiber ’11 noted in an email to the editorial page board that this year’s budget was around 18 percent smaller than last year’s budget, which was unusually large in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Spring Weekend concerts. We are impressed with the musical diversity of this year’s acts. TV on the Radio is perhaps the most talented headliner in recent history and should appeal to alternative, rock, indie, punk and soul fans alike. We are grateful that, in the age of computerized and autotuned music, BCA has enlisted exceptional old-school musicians to showcase their talents. Frankly, we are most excited to see funk and jazz legends Lee Fields and Rebirth Brass Band, both of whose immense talents will electrify the Main Green. To be honest though, maybe BCA should not care what we think. Last year, BCA devoted much of its resources to get the band MGMT, largely because it was the most requested group on the Undergraduate Council of Students poll that solicited suggestions. And, with all due respect to the electronic/indie twosome, they did not exactly tear the roof off the Main Green with their subdued performance. Maybe it is best if we suspend judgment and let the BCA experts work their magic. We would urge BCA in the future to focus on more female musicians. Excluding recently-added side act Lissy Trullie and Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper, the two other singers that comprise Diddy-Dirty Money, this will be the second straight year of all-male acts. Additionally, some students last year were offended by both Wale and Snoop Dogg, as many found their lyrics misogynistic and offensive to women. And Diddy is not exactly a great friend to the feminist movement either. While we encourage Brown students to accept the distinction between an artist and his or her lyrics or personal beliefs, we also urge BCA to be a bit more sensitive to these concerns. Ultimately, we hope students will give BCA the benefit of the doubt, get fitted in some Sean John and enjoy what should be a great Spring Weekend. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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le tter to the editor Obama does support an apartheid state To the Editor: The only truth contained in the recent column by Solomon Swartz ’14 (“Obama supports an apartheid state,” March 22) was the title. I found it quite astounding that the words “occupation,” “settlements” and “separation wall” — the most basic descriptors of the horrific reality on the ground — were nowhere to be found in this pitiful piece of propaganda. In claiming that “the issue is not apartheid because … we are talking about two separate and distinct nations locked in a stalemate in peace negotiations and border disputes,” Swartz reveals apparent ignorance of the fact that the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been under belligerent occupation since 1967. We are most certainly not talking about “two separate and distinct nations” but rather about a brutal military occupier and the violent subjugation of a stateless people. Don’t take my word for it — a cursory glance at the most basic principles of international law would confirm that the reality on the ground is one of systematic human rights abuses on the part of the U.S.-backed Israeli government and military. Swartz’s claim that “Palestinians are given opportunities to work and live in the state of Israel” demonstrates
that he could use a quick tutorial on Israeli and international law. Maybe then he would be aware of the pillars of Israeli apartheid — the “law of return” and the “citizenship law” — which allow Jews born anywhere in the world to immigrate to Israel and acquire citizenship while simultaneously denying Palestinian refugees that same right as guaranteed by United Nations Resolution 194. Swartz concludes that “for there to be peace, Israel needs to continue making concessions.” I wonder what “concessions” he is referring to: ongoing land expropriation and settlement expansion in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, ongoing construction of the annexation wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004 or perhaps Operation Cast Lead, also known as the Gaza massacre. Operation Cast Lead was a “concession” — one that happened to kill 1,400 Palestinians over three weeks in blatant violation of the most fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law. Even a moment’s consideration of the factual record quickly collapses the myths propagated by Swartz. But hey, at least he got the title right. Ruhan Nagra MD’14
quote of the day
“The intellectual level is below the Ivy League status.” — John Miller, anti-gay marriage protestor See marriage on page 1.
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.
The Brown Daily Herald Thursday, March 24, 2011
Consumer protection at Brown By David Sheffield Opinions Columnist It always makes me sad when I go to the Brown Bookstore or the pharmacy and see them selling products that do nothing for students’ health, save for giving them a walletectomy. The University should have better standards and stop selling medicinal products for which there is no good evidence of efficacy and safety. I have seen Airborne, Cold-Eeze and large doses of Vitamin C all being sold at Brown with the suggestion that they can prevent or stop colds. They can only imply these claims because otherwise, the corporations that sell them would be legally required to perform studies to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of their products before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Without products that can jump these hurdles, the companies are left saying things to make people think their products are beneficial without making specific medical claims. The primary example of this is HeadOn — which is by far the master of making medical claims without making medical claims. What does HeadOn do? If you have watched any television within the past few years, you know that it supposedly cures headaches. But the commercials do not say that. They just repeat “HeadOn: apply directly to the forehead” multiple times while an actress demonstrates the technique. They manage to get most people to know what their product
supposedly does without really telling them. Such is the absurdity allowed by the Dietary Health and Supplement Act, which allows manufacturers to market a product with general claims about what it does to your body. By now, everyone can probably think of a handful of products with advertisements claiming each one “boosts the immune system.” That might make sense if they were marketed to people with immune deficiencies, but it is meaningless for most people since they already have healthy immune systems. Does the claim mean that the product causes your immune system to attack
Some of these products are indeed safe. Homeopathy, for example, is essentially water. So, other than drowning the taker, there is little harm that it could do. Meanwhile, others are far more troubling. Homeopathy follows several principles. The first one is that like cures like. Want a homeopathic sleeping pill? Take caffeine. But that is too stupid — even for homeopaths — so the next principle is that the more diluted an ingredient is, the stronger it is. Just let this idea sink in — in the real world, more of something will generally produce more of an effect, while in the world of homeopathy,
This is not just a question of selling harmless placebos to unsuspecting students.
more objects that are suspicious and give you an autoimmune disease? Does it keep your immune system from falling into disrepair? It sure sounds like it does something, but it is imprecise enough to allow the corporations marketing these remedies to make the claim without having to face the legal ramifications of failing to deliver. This is not just a question of selling harmless placebos to unsuspecting students. Under the current law, what products sell now do not have to go through trials to demonstrate safety.
taking less will produce a greater effect. The principles of homeopathy just get sillier as you go along. Homeopathic remedies tend to be so diluted that there is probably no active ingredient left in them. There are something like 10 to the 24th power molecules of water in a homeopathic dose, so if you buy a 25X remedy — one that has been diluted one part in 10 a total of 25 times — you would average a tenth of a molecule of ingredient each time you took a pill. The really powerful stuff — according to homeopaths — gets diluted
hundreds of times. If you dropped one molecule of the substance into a volume of water equal to that of the entire universe, the resulting concoction would not be as diluted as what homeopaths sell. Unfortunately, not all products marketed as homeopathic are so benignly absent of active ingredients. There are a number of products claiming to treat colds that are labeled as homeopathic but only have a dilution of 2X — one part in a hundred — so the chemicals they add are actually present. In 2009, Zicam pulled some of its homeopathic-but-with-active-ingredients products from shelves when the FDA amassed enough evidence that it caused people to lose their sense of smell. Who could have guessed that sticking zinc-laced swabs up your nose might damage your sense of smell? But federal law for these types of products is far more lenient than it is for pharmaceuticals, so the makers of Zicam were allowed to sell their product without bothering to check if it might harm consumers. The University needs to stop profiting off of its students with products that do not deliver their implied benefits. Doing so not only takes advantage of students, but also puts them at risk for the potential side effects of these concoctions.
David Sheffield ’11 is a mathematical physics concentrator, who boosts your well-being.* He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. *This columnist is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The danger of historical analogies By Oliver Rosenbloom Opinions Columnist Comparing Israel to the purely evil and racist regime of apartheid South Africa is deeply offensive to Israelis and all those who seek a genuine resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Brown Students for Justice in Palestine publicized this analogy last week with a banner on the Main Green that read, “Do you want your school invested in apartheid?” The best defense against such hostile and offensive rhetoric is the truth. The Israel-apartheid comparison holds very little truth. This analogy is guided by a misunderstanding of the unique aspects of the Israel-Palestine relationship. Furthermore, it is counterproductive, serving only to polarize both sides in this heated conflict. To Israel and its supporters, characterizing Israel as an apartheid state is perceived as an attempt to delegitimize and vilify it. Because delegitimizing Israel alienates Israeli supporters, Brown Students for Justice in Palestine is not serving the interests of Palestinians. They are not making Israeli supporters more amenable to compromise, cooperation or peace. Instead, this comparison leads to more aggressive Israeli policies and more rigid support for Israel. Characterizing Israel as an apartheid state prevents any goodwill negotiations between the two sides. It obliterates any potential middle ground and creates a false choice between Israel and Palestine. This unfair polarization is intellectually dis-
honest and counterproductive. Only the purest ideologue would support every Israeli policy related to the treatment of Palestinians. But it is important to understand the source of Israel’s policy flaws. Israel has not erred simply out of malice or hatred for Palestinians. Rather, Israel’s occasional use of excess force is caused by a belief that Israel faces a hostile world. This belief is not merely irrational paranoia but is grounded in reality and proven by frequent missile and suicide bomb attacks against Israel. If Israelis felt more secure in the belief that pro-
situation is by no means comparable to the situation faced by black Africans under the apartheid regime in South Africa. In the case of South Africa under apartheid, there was little to no moral ambiguity. The apartheid state was exclusively motivated by racist ideology. This was not a mutual conflict where both sides deserved blame, nor was it a situation in which both sides had legitimate demands. The racist and oppressive wishes of the apartheid government did not deserve any recognition. The Israel-Palestine conflict is far more
Characterizing Israel as an apartheid state prevents any goodwill negotiations between the two sides. It obliterates any potential middle ground and creates a false choice between Israel and Palestine. This unfair polarization is intellectually dishonest and counterproductive. Palestinian groups are not looking to undermine their state, then they would be more amenable to peaceful compromise and less willing to resort to military force. Classifying Israel as an apartheid state will not increase the chance of peace in the region, nor will it make Israel less likely to deploy its army. This offensive rhetoric is therefore counterproductive if the main goal is for justice and dignity for all the people of the Middle East. Not only is this Israel-apartheid analogy counterproductive, but it is also inaccurate. Brown Students for Justice in Palestine wants people to associate the Israeli state with the racist apartheid state that once existed in South Africa. But the Israel-Palestine
complex than the case of apartheid South Africa. While whites in South Africa subdued a land that they had no connection to, Israelis have a legitimate claim to their ancestral homeland. The apartheid state of South Africa was a product of white colonization and greed. The Israeli state is the product of a long-oppressed people seeking to reclaim their land and gain autonomy. The South African forces that resisted apartheid rule were also different from the current forces of resistance to Israel. Black South Africans were merely attempting to reclaim their land, dignity, autonomy and right to self-determination. Not all of the forces opposed to Israel have the noble and
pure intentions that the South African resistance did. Many of those who resist Israel deserve international condemnation, not respect. Some of Israel’s foes are violent anti-Semites who routinely target citizens. These terrorists are funded by regional despots who demonize Jews to cover up their own corruption and oppression. Not all of Israel’s foes are anti-Semitic. Many are peace-loving, tolerant people who only want self-determination for the Palestinian people. It is wrong to portray Israel’s critics as a uniform group of violent terrorists. But it is equally wrong to portray these critics as a uniform group of moderates who only care about justice for the Palestinians and do not have any ulterior motives. If Brown Students for Justice in Palestine thinks that it is only supporting a noble struggle for self-determination, it is sorely mistaken. In reality, the anti-Israel coalition is composed of both noble and sinister forces and has both admirable and deplorable agendas. It is therefore inaccurate to compare the forces of resistance in South Africa to the forces of resistance in Israel. When applied correctly, historical analogies can shed light on contemporary struggles. When applied incorrectly, they distort reality and are counterproductive. The Israel-apartheid analogy is one such false analogy that incorrectly applies lessons of the past to prevent progress in the future. Oliver Rosenbloom ’13 is a history concentrator from Mill Valley, Calif. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Daily Herald City & State the Brown
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Commission would examine challenges of election reform By Elizabeth carr Staff Writer
Rhode Islanders for Fair Elections, a coalition of organizations that advocate for publicly financed elections, is working to pass legislation creating a commission to study the challenges facing state election reform. Bills proposing such a commission are currently under debate in the state House of Representatives and Senate. The proposed commission would consist of three House members, three Senate members, the executive director of the Board of Elections and potentially “one outside expert” in public finance, said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island. The bill’s efforts represent a “stepping stone” on the path toward achieving the coalition’s larger goal of taking the money out of politics, said Emily Koo ’13, co-coordinator of the student group Democracy Matters, one of the leaders of the coalition. Publicly funded elections similar to those already in place in Maine, Connecticut and Arizona “would allow you to run for office without being a really wealthy person or relying on money from special interests,” Koo said. Though a publicly financed election system already exists in Rhode Island, “it really doesn’t provide candidates with enough to become viable in a campaign, and it has a lot of restrictions on how and where candidates can spend money,” Koo said.
Evan Thomas / Herald
Student group Democracy Matters is working to pass a bill that would establish a commission on election reform.
The current system provides partial campaign funding for general officers such as governor, secretary of state or treasurer, Marion said. If candidates “meet certain benchmarks, they can use public funds,” he said. The coalition’s goal is to free politicians from obligations to the special interests that have financed their campaigns, Koo said. “Instead of going to the wealthy members of the community or going to companies out of state, you’d have to go door-to-door to get public approval for your campaign” through $5 contributions, she said. Koo cited former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, now secretary of homeland security, as an example of
a politician who capitalized on the benefits of publicly financed elections. After being elected, Napolitano “wasn’t beholden to pharmaceutical companies who normally donate to elections and was able to pass health care reform,” Koo said. But a bill expanding publicly funded elections — which legislators have proposed in recent years — “hasn’t gone anyplace,” Marion said, adding that the bill “doesn’t get a vote, just gets a hearing.” Marion said the coalition decided to step back this year due to the economy, since expanding publicly financed elections would cost millions of dollars. He added that attitudes against public finance are increasingly ag-
gressive. He referred specifically to the Supreme Court case of McComish v. Bennett, in which Arizona state Rep. John McComish is challenging the “trigger provision” in Arizona’s publicly financed election laws, which provides candidates who benefit from public financing with extra funds when their opponents raise more money than them. The current bill is being sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. Dawson Hodgson, D-East Greenwich, Warwick and North Kingstown, and in the House by state Reps. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, and Chris Blazejewski, D-Providence and East Providence. “I think a study commission looking at fair elections is a step
in the right direction,” Blazejewski wrote in an email to The Herald. “It’s important that we study ways to increase voter participation and government responsiveness and decrease the undue influence of money in politics.” Hodgson said he expects the bill to be in front of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee in about a month, but legislators need to “tighten up the language” first. He pointed specifically to the bill’s “somewhat ambiguous” provision that one member of the commission be a recognized expert in election finance. Hodgson said he is optimistic about the bill’s prospects. “I can’t see many people opposed to taking a good, hard look at the way we conduct our elections.” The coalition has garnered the support of legislators who opposed the original bill to expand publicly financed elections, Koo said. She added that most opponents of publicly financed elections reject them on the grounds that they would cost the state too much money. Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 has not yet developed a position on the bill, said Michael Trainor, his spokesman. Trainor declined to comment on Chafee’s general position regarding the implementation of publicly financed elections. “Sometimes study commissions are a way of passing people off,” Koo said. But the coalition will keep working to achieve its goal regardless of the current bill’s outcome. “Money is free speech,” she said.
Community outraged at impending release of child-murderer By David chung Senior Staff Writer
Nearly four decades after brutally murdering a five-year-old South Kingstown boy, Michael Woodmansee is slated to be released this August, 12 years before completing his full sentence. The prospect of his release has fueled anger across the state as residents question why a prison system designed to punish violent offenders might let one of Rhode Island’s worst back into the community he once traumatized. In response to the Woodmansee case, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced legislation Tuesday to modify rules allowing inmates to be released early due to good behavior. Woodmansee murdered Jason Foreman in May 1975 and received a 40-year sentence after being convicted in 1983. But even if the General Assembly approves the proposed changes, they would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2012 and would not affect Woodmansee’s discharge. Kilmartin said he is seeking ways to involuntarily commit Woodmansee to a mental institution. The state’s Superior Court authorized the Department of Corrections last week to disclose previously sealed evidence from the case — including a journal describing the murder — to psychiatrists, who will evaluate Woodmansee to determine his
eligibility for placement in a psychiatric unit. “We must be patient and let due process take its course,” Kilmartin said. Legislators had not thoroughly examined the statute governing the credits sex offenders receive for good behavior since its introduction in 1960, he said. Though the “time off for good behavior” legislation would not keep Woodmansee behind bars, Kilmartin and the Department of Corrections reviewed the statute with Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-New Shoreham, South Kingstown and Rep. Teresa Tanzi, D-Narragansett, South Kingstown — the state legislators who represent the community where Foreman was murdered. Tanzi is a resumed undergraduate student at Brown, though she is not currently enrolled in classes. Woodmansee’s case shows that the statute must be examined “to prevent serious offenders from getting away with serving a fraction of their time,” Tanzi said. Under the legislation, good time would no longer be available to individuals convicted of murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, child molestation, child pornography or first degree child abuse. Currently, those convicted of these crimes may receive good time credits at the discretion of the director of the Department of Corrections. If the bill is passed, these
prisoners would be able to retain their previously accrued credits. The legislation overlooks the rehabilitative purpose of these incentives for good behavior, said Andrew Horwitz, president of the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and associate dean of academic affairs at Roger Williams University School of Law. “It’s sound and intelligent correctional policy, no matter what the person has been convicted of.” But the incentive to behave remains, Kilmartin said, because the Parole Board would continue to consider an inmate’s conduct when granting parole. The director of the Department of Corrections would also have greater discretion to determine the number of days awarded for good behavior and prison work for inmates convicted of other crimes. Currently, the director may only reduce sentences by a predetermined number of days. Tanzi, who introduced the House bill Tuesday, said the House considers preventing violent criminals from returning to communities a “front-burner issue.” Though she expects extensive debate, Tanzi anticipates the House will approve the legislation. “Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a horrible crime or the release of a criminal like this to further scrutinize a bill,” she said. But Horwitz questioned the ne-
cessity of the proposed changes. “We ought not pass laws based on one isolated situation that upsets us,” he said. “That’s not an intelligent way to make policy.” The changes appear “quite unrealistic” due to the costs that would be incurred from hiring additional prison staff and parole officers to address the needs of the inmates that would remain in the system, he added. But Kilmartin said the changes are necessary regardless of potential costs. “It’s about keeping our neighborhoods safe. It’s about keeping our kids safe. It’s about keeping our streets safe.” The state legislature is currently reviewing an amendment to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which creates a sex offender registration database. The amendment would require child murderers to be listed as sex offenders even if they are not convicted of a sex-related crime. Lawmakers are working to ensure Woodmansee would be placed on the list if released, Kilmartin said. Foreman disappeared on his way home after playing outside. His case was unresolved until 1982, when Woodmansee was taken into custody for assaulting Dale Sherman, a 14-year-old paperboy. Woodmansee confessed to killing Foreman at that time. Authorities later discovered several bones in his bedroom — just
down the street from the Foreman house in South Kingstown — and a journal, purportedly describing Foreman’s murder. Woodmansee has said that the journal is fantasy, though the prosecution hopes to use it to send Woodmansee to a mental institution. Due to the gruesome nature of the crime, the Foreman family and Woodmansee reached a plea bargain to avoid exposing details in a public trial. Woodmansee was 16 at the time of the murder. Though individuals involved in the case were aware of a potential early release, they “did not anticipate, due to the condition of the defendant, that he would be able to earn the maximum good-time credit,” wrote Superior Court Associate Justice Susan McGuirl, who prosecuted Woodmansee as deputy attorney general, in a press statement. Rhode Islanders have rallied behind the Foreman family. Supporters have demonstrated in South Kingstown and in front of the State House to urge policymakers to keep Woodmansee in state custody. Though some have questioned the constitutionality of refusing Woodmansee’s release, government officials as high ranking as Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 have assured constituents that they are searching continued on page 5