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the Brown

Friday, April 8, 2011

vol. cxlvi, no. 45

Since 1891

Candidates tout outreach at UCS, UFB debate By David CHuNG Senior Staff Writer

Candidates for Undergraduate Council of Students and Undergraduate Finance Board leadership positions echoed one another as they called for increased communication, pointed to their experience and accomplishments and answered questions from the crowd at a debate in a largely empty MacMillan 117 last night. Ben Farber ’12, UCS vice president and presidential candidate, underscored his accomplishments on “little things” during his three years on the council, including implementing continental breakfast at the Verney-Woolley Dining Hall and initiating extended weekend hours at the Gate, which are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. If elected, he said he plans

to introduce a printing cluster to Pembroke campus and focus on career advising, the student group categorization process and intramural sports. He promised to continue increasing communication between the council and the community by increasing the frequency of office hours and potentially introducing Google Chat hours, a tool currently used by the Library and the Career Development Center to reach out to students. Farber said he has developed a “strong understanding of the infrastructure of Brown” and will use his relationships with various administrators to push his agenda forward. Foreseeing on-campus housing renovations and construction as major issues the University will face in the next three years, Farber said he plans to ensure “the

Obama curtails civil liberties, says rights lawyer By Nicole Grabel Contributing Writer

made, but “the play is deliberately impossible to keep up with,” he said. This does not exactly make “Talk” sound like an enjoyable experience, but embracing the bewilderment is part of its appeal. Miraculously, the cast takes a script that consists mostly of long soliloquies and obscure references and turns it into a lively, humorous debate. “It’s a monster for actors to take on,” Rux said, adding that he wrote it for another, very specific set of

Civil liberties are “nothing more than the list of things the government is not allowed to do,” said Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional law and civil rights lawyer, in his lecture before a full Salomon 001 last night. The best-selling author discussed the characteristics of civil liberties and argued that President Barack Obama is failing to respect them. Greenwald laid out the four qualities that make civil liberties distinct from other aspects of the U.S. political system. First, each right is absolute — there is “no compromise permitted.” Next, he said civil liberties are “by design, anti-democratic,” because even if the majority wants to infringe upon a civil right, it cannot do so. Further, Greenwald said civil liberties do not change. He said people often cite war as an excuse for the violation of civil rights, but this argument has no basis in the Constitution. Finally, he said civil liberties are “not dependent on citizenship” — the Constitution grants these rights to everyone, and the Supreme Court has ruled the “distinction is non-existent” between citizens and noncitizens in regards to civil rights. All people should care about civil liberties, Greenwald said, even if they are not directly affected by the curtailment of a specific liberty — it is “inevitable” that the abrogation

continued on page 5

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Todd Harris / Herald

Ben Farber ’12 (left) and Ralanda Nelson ’12 (center), candidates for UCS president, debated last night in MacMillan 117.

student voice is heard.” Ralanda Nelson ’12, UCS student activities chair, also assured students she would work to bring “tangible changes” to the Brown undergraduate experience if elected UCS president. She said she plans to make the student activities endowment the priority of her

presidency and work with President Ruth Simmons and alums to attract more donors to the fund. She said the council could use “student group capital a bit more efficiently” by inviting student groups to meetings with admincontinued on page 2

S&B’s ‘Talk’ speaks to the inner academic By Emma wohl Senior Staff Writer

“Talk,” Sock & Buskin’s final production of the 2010-2011 performance season, is, as director Erik Ehn described it, “somewhere be-

ARTS & CULTURE tween a thesis panel, a ghost story and a murder mystery.” The plot follows an academic panel discussion about the life and work of author Archer Ames — a fictional figure given an elaborate backstory by playwright Carl

Hancock Rux. Ames’ only work, a single novel adapted into a silent film in the 1950s or 1960s, may have been about African-American identity, multiculturalism or surrealism. Or maybe it was about none of these themes. Maybe Ames had no part in the film adaptation of his work. Maybe he never wrote the book attributed to him. By the show’s end, the audience is not even certain that Ames ever existed. Through three acts, a group of six academics, artists and philosophers discuss the implications of

Ames’ work in the most esoteric terms. They name-drop ancient Greek philosophers, surrealists and beat poets in an attempt to give the author’s life meaning, but as a result they only alienate the audience. The listener’s inability to follow what these speakers are saying is precisely the point. The show is about “how the best of our thinking can only get us so far in terms of artistic experience,” said Ehn, a professor of theater arts and performance studies. The audience should understand that there are allusions being

BUGS plays dumb with ‘Princess Ida’ Gilbert and Sullivan, the classic duo responsible for 14 zany Victorian operettas, were never big on “coherent plot,” said Hannah Jones ’14,


Freddy Lu / Herald


“Princess Ida” promises musical, cross-dressing entertainment.

news..................2-3 Arts....................4 editorial..............6 Opinions..............7 SPORTS..................8

director of Brown University W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s latest production “Princess Ida.” Instead, the duo gave their audiences stirring music, satirical dialogue and a general good time. “Princess Ida” continues in this grand tradition, presenting a rollicking musical journey perfect for an evening free of thought before the finals crunch. The show never takes itself too seriously, a deliberate move by the

A Fine Line No Fear

Distinguishing between irony and real prejudice

arts, 4

Nuclear energy is safer than perceived opinions, 7

production team to combat some of the more sexist aspects of the production’s subject matter, Jones said. The story focuses on Prince Hilarion (Rob Volgman ’14), a young man determined to marry the princess selected for him in infancy despite her decision to open a women’s university and forgo all men. To this end, he and two friends disguise themselves as female students — a move leading to several comical, cross-dressing scenes in which the men’s skirts do not exactly match their deep voices. They are soon caught, inciting a literal war of the sexes. The original production sought to satirize women’s education, but this creative team had no intention of doing the same. “My entire goal was to make the show fun and

D&C Mark Schlissel gets a diamond — find out why. diamonds & coal, 6


By gillian michaelson Contributing Writer

as un-sexist as humanly possible aside from actually changing the script,” Jones said. “We messed with the characters a little bit, especially Hilarion, because if he is more of a vapid idiot, the show becomes more about stupid people and less about sexism.” This is an appropriate fix for the kind of work in which even the characters refer to themselves as “lacking in intelligence.” Volgman successfully portrayed the bumbling prince through three acts with overconfidence and idiocy. “I have been doing character work by watching movies such as Anchorman and Zoolander,” he said. On a musical note, the production lived up to Gilbert and Sullivan’s original lofty example. Meghan continued on page 3

t o d ay


56 / 37

60 / 43

2 Campus News calendar Today


8 P.m.



8 p.m. Festival of Faiths,

Hunter Auditorium

List 120 9 p.m.

Stand Up Comics: Andy Kindler,

Joe Iconis and the Brown Kids,

Salomon 101

The Underground



Cavatini, Broccoli Rabe, Bulgur Stuffed Pepper, Vegetarian Curry Stir Fry with Tofu, Lobster Bisque

Chicken Fingers, Baked Vegan Nuggets, Rice Pilaf with Zucchini, Green Beans, Nacho Bar

DINNER Bourbon BBQ Chicken, Gnocchi with Arugula and Spinach Pesto, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Focaccia

Orange Teriyaki Salmon, Pasta Primavera, Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic, Focaccia


UCS, UFB candidates debate continued from page 1

Starla and Sons Longform Improv, 9 p.m.

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, April 8, 2011

istrators. Nelson also said if the University’s ranking was higher, it would better reflect the value of a Brown education. She plans to work with the Corporation to see that its interests are in line with those of students. As Farber did, Nelson said she hopes to increase communication between students and the administration and expand the council’s presence among students. Toward the end of the debate, Nelson asked Farber whether or not he will remain on the council if he is not elected president. Responding that his decision would


the Brown

be swayed by his emotions, Farber said he is unsure. Farber asked Nelson the same question, and she said she would remain on the council as a general body member if not elected because she could work on “unique projects” for the council. Jason Lee ’12, UFB vice chair, said he plans to work to increase the transparency of the board’s budgetary decisions if elected chair. Students often do not know that the board does not have the funds to approve all budget requests, he said. Lee recommended archiving student group budgets so board members and student groups can access UFB funding history. He also suggested seeking alternative

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funding for groups that need large amounts of money to finance travel costs, such as Brown University Mock Trial. The board needs to utilize relationships with alums and administrators to find donors for high-cost student groups, he said. Lee said he hopes the student activities endowment will eventually allow the board to fund Category I groups, which currently receive no money. David Chanin ’12, a UFB representative and Lee’s opponent for UFB chair, said he plans to continue working on an online budgeting process and increase cooperation among the board, UCS and the administration. If large student groups can seek funding from their substantial alumni networks, UFB would then be able to use more of its budget to support smaller groups with fewer resources, he said. Chanin called for coordinated efforts on the parts of UCS, UFB, student groups and the administration to bring the student activities endowment to its ultimate goal of $17 million, allowing UFB to fund all University-recognized groups. David Rattner ’13, UCS campus life chair, who is running unopposed for vice president of the council, and Michael Perchonok ’12, UFB representative, the sole candidate for UFB vice chair, also spoke at the debate.

Campus News 3

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, April 8, 2011

‘Princess Ida’ replaces Greenwald discusses civil liberties sexism with comic fervor continued from page 1

continued from page 1 Kelleher ’12, who portrayed the title character, has a voice that is both powerful and expressive, capable of communicating Ida’s staunch feminism and the beauty of some of her lighter arias. Maya Stroshane ’11, in the role of Lady Blanche, also delivers an impressive performance that exhibits her ability to hit high notes not originally in the score, but newly arranged by Matthew Jaroszewicz ’12, the production’s musical director. Unfortunately, some of her highest and lowest notes are lost beneath the music of the orchestra. The musical ensemble, also conducted by Jaroszewicz, sounds professional but occasionally overpowers some of the performers. Both Bryan Tyler Parker ’11, as Hilarion’s father, and local community actor Ken McPherson as Ida’s father were comically exceptional as an aggressively stalwart supporter of the military and a happy, sarcastic jerk, respectively. Their strong tones and good-humored bickering help ground the first and third acts and prevent the audience from getting too lost in the sometimes seemingly nonsensical plot. The choruses also assist in keeping the story together by bringing to life what would otherwise be simply static explanations, though the

effect is occasionally lost due to a slight lack of cohesion among the members’ actions. The production also embraces the spirit of the story through its technical features. With brightly colored lights, eye-catching costumes and a versatile set, the show finds itself successfully placed in a charming, though sometimes overthe-top series of scenes. The movable set contributes a great deal to the show and is one of the most intricate BUGS has ever constructed, Jones said. “Princess Ida” may address some seemingly inappropriate themes for the Pembroke campus on which it is performed, but in BUGS’s hands it becomes a pleasant distraction from the sometimes seriousness of early spring. Like a Victorian take on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Ida provides a thoughtless relaxation that might just end in a marriage. “There’s a lot of talent in this cast,” Kelleher said. “And if you’re going to see a BUGS show, this is the one to see.”

Questionable content is masked by comedy in this whacky romance. “Princess Ida” will run April 8-10 in Alumnae Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

“will spread.” He cited the case of Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who burned the Quran. If Jones’ right to free speech had been infringed upon under the argument that his action constituted an act of harm, the country would have set a precedent supporting the creation of a “list of prohibited ideas.” This list would no doubt expand, he said, affecting many more people. Greenwald said many people objected “in theory” to the government’s detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without conclusive evidence but thought the prisoners “were probably guilty.” Greenwald criticized the American populace for enabling the incarceration of innocent people by assuming the government had “legitimate certainty” of the detainees’ guilt. The debate over civil liberties has subsided since Obama was elected, Greenwald said, calling it a “huge problem.” While voters criticized former President George W. Bush’s

“right-wing and radical” policies, Obama retained Bush’s policies and “converted them into partisan consensus.”

Greenwald ended the lecture on a humorous note — he apologized for the topic not being “sunny.” But “(it is) not actually my fault,” he said.

4 Arts & Culture

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, April 8, 2011

Ironic ignorance walks fine line between bigotry and humor By Suzannah Weiss Arts & Culture Columnist

Today I want to call attention to something I’ve noticed Brown students embracing: a cultural trend popularly known as irony. I’m not talking about literary paradox, nor am I talking about the scenarios in the Alanis Morissette song — which, incidentally, are more coincidental than ironic. I am talking about the irony too often cited as the motivation for presenting exaggerated expressions of “-isms” as mockery.

But is irony actually a motivation or merely a justification? It’s okay, the story goes, to say something sexist or racist or homophobic if you are doing it selfconsciously, as a joke. If you say something prejudiced seriously, you’re ignorant, but if you say it ironically, you’re avant-garde. The main problems with this strain of thought are that, first, it’s getting hard to keep track of who is bigoted and who is wryly postmodern, because the two can sound an awful lot alike. And second, certain statements are offensive regardless

of the speaker’s intention. Yet the philosophy that irony excuses offensive speech is all over the place. It’s what allows the public figures mentioned below to slide by. I realize I’m not the first to point this out. A New York Times review of “Bruno” observed that “lampooning homophobia has become … a way of licensing gags that would otherwise be out of bounds.” A post in the blog “FWD/Forward” contains a criticism of the popular hoax novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which overtly promotes the idea that disabled people are unpleasant to be around: “It’s not transgressive. It’s just a repetition of what society believes.” In fact, I’m not even the first on this campus to make the point. The Brown Noser published an article in February called “Student mistakes real racism for ironic racism.” What makes this headline funny is that the situation is conceivable — real and ironic racism sound quite alike. Likewise, Brian Judge ’11 asked in a 2009 opinions column (“A sense of humor no one likes,” Oct. 26, 2009), “Can it be cool to be earnest again?” Consumers know that “Glee” is not a representation of real life. But is it so far-fetched to say it can affect the way viewers see real life? It evidently has had some

positive effects. Somebody posted on last December that Kurt, a gay main character in “Glee,” “helps me realize that it’s okay to be me.” Yet even while the show represents diverse people, it firmly — I’m sorry, ironically — adheres to their stereotypes. The makers of the show know what they’re doing. They are using caricatures — the neurotic, theater-obsessed Jewish girl, the wheelchair-bound student who just wants to fit in, the ball-busting paranoid feminist, the aggressive gluttonous fat girl and the large, self-righteous, vocally talented black girl — for humor. They are purposefully ridiculous in order to expose these prejudices for what they are, and all their viewers know that — or do they? And do the writers’ intentions even matter when they have written a scene in which an onlooker listens to two gay characters talk and imagines they have literally stopped articulating words and are simply saying “gay, gay, gay” until a purse falls out of one of their mouths? Whether or not the show’s writers believe in the stereotypes they use, this hyperbolic presentation does not qualify as a critique. I’m not saying irony in pop culture is always bad. In fact, it’s

best when it is up front about its status as such, rather than putting on pretenses and coming off as real prejudice for an extra ironic effect. Lily Allen pulls this off pretty well. For instance, the song “The Fear,” in which she sings, “everything is cool as long as I’m getting thinner,” leaves no room for doubt as to its sarcasm. Lady Gaga, on the other hand, who has on several occasions claimed she is always simply being herself, leaves such matters less clear. If it was ironic for her to show up to a baseball game in underwear and flip people off, I’m sure this irony was lost on those on the receiving end of her middle finger. If the revealing clothes and sexually exhibitionist videos are meant to draw attention to the objectification of women, they succeed more in drawing attention to her body. Granted, the meat dress came across a little less opaquely. Irony comes from the Greek word for feigned ignorance or dissimulation. Ignorance that is not clearly feigned doesn’t really come off as irony. It just comes off as ignorance. And if this offends any of you irony apologists out there, don’t worry. Maybe I don’t even mean it. Maybe I’m just being ironic.


The Brown Daily Herald Friday, April 8, 2011

‘Talk’ caters to those with mental stamina continued from page 1 actors and “never expected anyone else could do this play.” “I applaud anyone who tries,” he said. “It’s a show that requires tremendous concentration,” Ehn said, so he looked for a cast that was “smart and brave, with athletic stamina.” As Apollodoros, a mysterious late addition to the panel, Jamila Woods ’11 dances around the periphery of the discussion, serving alternately as a trickster stirring up conflict and a voice of truth and reason. She mocks the panel’s moderator (Kerry Hall ’13), a proxy for the audience, for trying to keep up with the discussion.

The moderator articulates the audience’s frustration with the highbrow tone on multiple occasions. He sees in the novel he loves, not comparisons to Jack Kerouac or the influence of Andre Breton, but a story about the relationship between a mother and her son. Ultimately, both he and the audience leave unsatisfied. “Do you think you understand now?” Apollodoros asks the moderator near the end of the play. “No,” he says. And he isn’t supposed to. Neither are we.

Kevin Quaranto was a harbinger of a Siena rally and a Brown defeat. Ahead in the count with two strikes and no balls, Brown pitcher Anthony Galan ’14 hit Quaranto to start the inning. Balkwill followed Quaranto by bashing a double to left field. John Rooney, who collected two hits in the first game, drove in Quaranto on a single and Tyler Bell delivered a two-run double to put Siena up 4-1. Brown’s attempted comeback in the sixth inning came up a run short. Colantonio started the inning with a walk, advanced to second on a groundout and then stole third. Feit rewarded his teammate’s

Cloud Buddies! | David Emanuel

Dot Comic | Eshan Mitra and Brendan Hainline

Bewilderment and frustration may be exactly what the audience needs to “Talk” about.

Bears drop two at Siena Wednesday continued from page 8


effort by hitting an RBI double to score Colantonio. Graham Tyler ’12 imitated Feit and hit an RBI double of his own. But that was all the runs the Bears managed. Matt DeRenzi ’14 grounded out to end the inning, stranding Tyler at second. The Brown bats went down quietly in the final inning, relegating Galan to his first loss of the year. The Bears look to rebound in a busy upcoming weekend with their first home games of the season. They play a doubleheader against Columbia Saturday and another doubleheader against Penn Sunday. “Going into this weekend … we’ve got to get the bats heated up and going,” Drabinski said.

Gelotology | Guillaume Riesen

6 Editorial diamonds & coal

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, April 8, 2011

Editorial comic

b y a l e x y u ly

A cubic zirconium to the student who said his shift at the Sharpe Refectory “passed a lot more quickly” during Sunday’s campus power outage. That’s not the only thing that passes a lot more quickly when you’ve been at the Ratty. Coal to the Brown Concert Agency’s ticketing website, which malfunctioned during the Spring Weekend rush for the 248th consecutive year. BCA blamed the site’s performance on “malicious software.” Isn’t Malicious Software Friday’s opener? A cubic zirconium to the student who said that after taking Adderall he became a “highlighter robot.” Isn’t Highlighter Robot Saturday’s opener? A diamond to Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger, who, at Wednesday’s “topping off ” ceremony for the new fitness and aquatics center, dramatically declared, “No longer will our cardio equipment be in the hallway or in the corner of the gym.” You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of stairmasters. A diamond to the first-year fencer who said of the NCAA championships, “I didn’t get last, so that’s good.” That’s also Brown’s approach to the U.S. News and World Report ranking. Coal to women’s lacrosse Head Coach Keely McDonald, who said, “Lacrosse is a game of runs, and we definitely need to respond to those and step up as a unit.” We don’t want to hear about your runs or your unit. A cubic zirconium to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos P’12, who told students, “Go South and go soon. Don’t miss the train.” Thanks for the tip, but when Brown students head South on a train they’re going to Columbia, not Colombia. A cubic zirconium to lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who told students in Salomon 001 last night that civil liberties are “nothing more than the list of things the government is not allowed to do.” But what’s the government’s safe word? A diamond to the University’s newly-named 11th provost, Mark Schlissel, whom President Ruth Simmons described Tuesday as “warm and approachable,” as well as, “articulate, persuasive and scholarlylooking.” We have plenty of questions about Schlissel’s plans for the job, but the first thing we want to know is, is he single?

quote of the day

“I have been doing character work by watching

movies such as Anchorman and Zoolander.

— Rob Volgman ‘14 See princess on page 1.

And finally, 2,115 diamonds to the 2,115 applicants admitted last week to the class of 2015. Your class is more selective, smarter, more accomplished, more diverse and better-looking than any that has come before it. But hey, at least we got to go to Fish Co.

If you’re reading this, it’s too late — you didn’t submit your letter on time

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Opinions 7

The Brown Daily Herald Friday, April 8, 2011

Why we still should not fear nuclear power By Hunter Fast Opinions Editor In the aftermath of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan March 11 and the consequent release of radioactive material from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, many have raised concerns regarding the safety of nuclear energy. But when compared with feasible alternatives, it is clear that nuclear power is the safest form of electricity that is capable of filling America’s growing demand. A decisive transition to nuclear energy would save lives, reduce the overall impact of the energy sector on the environment and lessen American dependence on totalitarian dictatorships like Saudi Arabia’s for our energy supply. Replacing our current fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure with a generation of nuclear power plants would provide the time necessary to develop better renewable energy technology for the longer term. Many opponents of nuclear power argue that radiation releases from nuclear power plants constitute an unacceptable risk to human life and the environment. But they ignore the fact that fuels burned in conventional power plants frequently contain radioactive isotopes. It follows that when fossil fuels are burned on an industrial scale, the chemi-

cal byproducts of combustion that are released into the atmosphere will contain radioactive particles. Sure enough, according to a report published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the average public exposure to radiation caused by a coal-fired power plant is 100 times greater than that of a nuclear power plant of comparable power output under normal operating conditions. Anti-nuclear activists also argue that nuclear energy is environmentally destructive because of the radioactive waste it gen-

reactor at the Chernobyl facility in Soviet Ukraine, pushing the reactor far beyond its usual operational parameters in the process. This caused a steam explosion within the reactor that launched highly radioactive material from the reactor core directly into the atmosphere. While the total number of casualties caused by Chernobyl is hard to pin down — it is difficult to say with certainty whether most individuals’ health problems were caused by radiation or not — an official

Indeed, aside from the Chernobyl incident, no member of the public has ever died anywhere as a result of radiation from a nuclear power plant. erates. But when buried very deep underground in a stable and secure facility, nuclear waste poses little to no danger to the general public. It is also possible for breeder reactors to convert high-level radioactive waste into less hazardous, shorter-lived isotopes, generating energy in the process. But what about the effect of nuclear accidents like the one in Japan? To examine this question, it is necessary to study the worst accidental radiation release ever to have occurred — Chernobyl. In 1986, grossly incompetent operators performed an experiment on a poorly designed test

World Health Organization report estimates the overall death toll at 4,000 over the long run. Although the tragedy of such a disaster should not be downplayed, it is important to note that this is the worst-case scenario involving nuclear power — one that is inconceivable in a technologically advanced country with stringent safety regulations. More importantly, the destruction resulting from the Chernobyl accident pales in comparison to that already resulting from our addiction to fossil fuels. For instance, every year, roughly 10,000

Americans die prematurely as a result of pollution from coal-fired power plants. Between 1993 and 2006, 1,192 oil and gas workers died in the United States due to workplace accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most saliently, as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, people along the Gulf Coast continue to experience health problems from contact with the oil slick and the chemical dispersants used in cleanup efforts. In contrast, despite numerous government-sponsored studies, there is no credible evidence linking proximity to a nuclear power plant with an increased cancer risk. Indeed, aside from the Chernobyl incident, no member of the public has ever died anywhere as a result of radiation from a nuclear power plant. The safety record of nuclear power — at least in advanced economies — is therefore very difficult to dispute. In light of this, we must reject sensationalist media reports on the supposed dangers of nuclear power and realize that while nuclear accidents seize our attention, fossil fuels are a constant threat and silent killer. We must not allow fears of a nuclear meltdown — fears that are highly unlikely ever to materialize — to prevent us from acting quickly to replace an energy infrastructure that kills civilians every day.

Hunter Fast ’12 suggests that you visit for a helpful and informative chart on radiation’s effects.

Talking about first generation By Jon Birger Guest Columnist As an alumni interviewer for Brown, I read Monday’s story on 2015 admissions (“University admits record-low 8.7 percent of applicants,” April 4) with a mix of awe and frustration. It is fantastic that a Brown degree is in such high demand. The 8.7 percent acceptance rate is stunning, as is the fact that 96 percent of those accepted rank in the top 10 percent of their classes. Kudos to Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73 and his staff. The story also noted that 17 percent of those accepted are “first-generation college students,” an attribute that, in the wake of legal challenges to affirmative action, has become sought-after in college admissions. If this ratio holds, it would represent a significant increase over the 14 percent of the class of 2014 deemed first-generation. Before I go further, let me state unequivocally that I support the University’s commitment to racial and socioeconomic diversity, and I applaud Miller’s efforts to recruit from disadvantaged schools and regions where college enrollment is uncommon. That being said, the first-generation metric is flawed and, at the very least, in dire need of some honest re-labeling. Under the narrow definition used by the Office of Admission, all four of an applicant’s grandparents could have doctoral degrees, yet she would still be considered first-generation so long as her parents were college dropouts. When I have asked fellow alums what they think “first-generation” means, nearly all assumed it meant neither the par-

ents nor grandparents had attended college. Some even included siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles. What is undeniable is that the term “firstgeneration” connotes an extended family lineage. If Brown wishes to tout the percentage of students whose parents never graduated from college, why not simply refer to them as such? Why mislead? Here’s another problem — the University makes no concerted effort to verify claims of first-generation status, which Miller acknowledges. In a letter to the Brown Alumni Magazine last year, Miller wrote, “We cannot

ric used to ensure something as important as socioeconomic diversity on campus. To be sure, most applicants would not lie about their parents’ education. Most applicants would not lie about their SAT scores either, yet I assume Brown does not allow self-reporting of SAT or other test scores. Along the same lines, when a student applies for financial aid, the University does not take the applicant’s word that his or her parents cannot afford the tuition. The University requires the applicant to submit signed and dated tax returns that include parents’ W-2 forms. Back when I was at Brown, a good

The first-generation metric is flawed and, at the very least, in dire need of some honest re-labeling.

prove that a parent did not attend college, and I cannot envision a practical process for doing so, since it remains hard to prove a negative.” I suggested to Miller that with applications now being submitted electronically, he could simply crosscheck his list of applicants’ parents against a database of college graduates. Miller has yet to respond directly to my suggestion, other than to reference an internal audit of first-generation status that found no evidence of fraud but also relied entirely on applicant-submitted data. Given other verifications routinely demanded by the admissions office, I am puzzled by the reliance on the honor system when it comes to a met-

friend was actually forced to withdraw from school temporarily, because his father refused to submit his tax returns. If one of the University’s admissions goals is to ensure socioeconomic diversity, why not use a metric like income that measures this more directly? Why rely upon one that seems downright anti-intellectual — one that may disadvantage the inner-city or rural applicant whose mom or dad may have recently earned a college degree at night school? Miller contends there is a positive correlation between first-generation status and income and minority status. This is undoubtedly true. But the mere fact that a correlation

exists is not an endorsement. As a financial writer, I can tell you that historically, there has been a positive correlation between low CEO pay and future stock returns. Nevertheless, I would never recommend a stock on the grounds that the CEO is the lowest-paid in his industry. There are too many other metrics — for example, revenue growth and price-to-earnings ratio — that give a fuller, more accurate assessment of a company’s prospects. Why do I consider first-generation status as flawed for building socioeconomic diversity as CEO pay would be for picking stocks? According to the admissions office’s own audit, approximately 10 percent of the students the University labels “first-generation” do not receive financial aid. These students are supposed to be economically disadvantaged, yet it appears their parents can afford Brown’s tuition, which is more than $50,000 per year. Confused? Me too. The cynic in me wonders whether Brown’s embrace of the first-generation metric has more to do with marketing or fundraising than with admissions. It’s so much more compelling and heart-warming to tell people that 17 percent of your students are the first in their families to attend college — whether or not it is technically true — than it would be to announce that 17 percent hail from the bottom quartile of household income distribution. Then again, Brown would have no excuse for not verifying income — they’ve already got your tax returns and W-2s.

Jon Birger ‘90 is a financial journalist and contributing writer for Fortune magazine. He can be reached at

Daily Herald Sports Friday the Brown


Bruno drops doubleheader to Siena By Ilan Isaacs Contributing Writer

The men’s baseball team (3-17, 1-3 Ivy) was swept by the Siena Saints in a doubleheader Wednesday afternoon. Two big innings from the Saints’ offense sent the Bears to their 10th and 11th losses in 12 games. Siena 6, Brown 3

Brown pitchers Mark Gormley ’11.5 and Kevin Carlow ’13 split the first four innings of the series evenly, each going two innings. Their superb performances were reflected in similar stat lines — each pitched two innings, giving up no runs and allowing only one hit. The Bears drew first blood in the series when Josh Feit ’11 drove home co-captain Matt Colantonio ’11 and Cody Slaughter ’13 with a two-run double in the first inning. In the fourth, the Bears tacked on another run when John Sheridan ’13 singled to score Jon Suzich ’12. But Bruno’s three-run lead only lasted until the fifth inning.

Siena’s Kevin Quaranto reached base courtesy of a throwing error to start off the fifth inning. After three singles, three runs and one more error, the Saints had come back to tie the game. With two outs in the inning, Siena’s Mike Allen hit a three-run home run to put Siena up 6-3 and cap a huge inning for the Saints. “It was a combination of bad defense and bad pitching that led to the six runs,“ said Head Coach Marek Drabinski. Siena 4, Brown 3

Siena scored the first run of the game in the second inning. Larry Balkwill, who went threefor-three in the game, hit his first career home run in the form of a solo shot. Bruno came back in the fourth inning when Graham Tyler ’12 singled home Mike DiBiase ’12 to tie the game at one. Just like the first game, a leadoff mistake to Saints’ first baseman continued on page 5


Fencers tie for 13th at NCAA Championships By ASHLEY MCDONNELL Sports Editor

In the 2001-2002 season, three fencers represented Brown at the NCAA Championships, and the team came in 16th place. In the following years, only one or two fencers have qualified for the championships each year. But this season, Brown sent five fencers to the NCAA Championships at Ohio State University March 24-27. They earned a combined score of 39 points, ending the competition in a three-way tie with Temple University and U.S. Air Force Academy for 13th place out of 30 teams. “It’s the best we’ve ever done as a varsity team,” said Cory Abbe ’13. “It’s kind of cool being in the top 15 in the country.” Notre Dame claimed first place with 174 points. The Fighting Irish had multiple fencers competing in each event, giving them an advantage over the Bears, who had no qualifiers in men’s foil or epee and only one each in women’s epee and saber. Abbe finished in 17th place in women’s epee after winning 10 bouts, sending 79 touches and receiving 91. “My main goal was not to embarrass myself,” Abbe said. “Seventeenth is really good.” Both Kathryn Hawrot ’14 and Avery Nackman ’13 qualified for women’s foil, coming in 16th and 22nd, respectively. “In all honesty, I could have done better,” Nackman said. “I think I was a little nervous to start, and I just wasn’t as sharp at fencing as I could have been.” Hawrot expressed similar senti-

ments about her performance. “I personally wish I had done a little better,” she said. “I was hoping to get top 12. … I’m still happy with the way I finished. I didn’t get last, so that’s good.” Though Hawrot had hoped for better results, Abbe said that sending Hawrot to the championships as a first-year was “really motivating.” This will make the entire team more motivated for next season, she added. Caitlin Taylor ’13, who represented the Bears in women’s saber, was the only fencer from Brown who had made a previous trip to the NCAA Championships. She won eight bouts and came in 18th, one spot higher than her 19th-place finish at last season’s championships. Teddy Weller ’13 was Bruno’s lone male representative at the tournament. He won seven bouts in men’s saber, sending 75 touches and receiving 98 to earn a 19th-place finish. Weller said he wished more of his male teammates could have qualified for the championships so that there would be “more of a team atmosphere.” Now that Brown has sent a record number of fencers to the championships and placed within the top 15 in the country, the fencers hope the program will continue to expand, Hawrot said. “I think more fencers are looking at Brown now because the people on the team have been more committed,” Hawrot said. “We had a really strong team this year. We can definitely do better. We’re hoping to send more people to do better.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Contenders, pretenders and Jared Jeffries confidence’ series

By Sam Sheehan Sports Columnist

As the basketball season winds down and we head into the final week of the year, the playoff picture has begun to take shape. There are only a few seeds up for grabs in the endof-season scramble — the bottom of both conferences, a battle for third seed in the West between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder and a fight for the second seed in the East. My main prediction: The Boston Celtics will be the No. 2 seed. Why? Because I said so. Suck it, Miami Heat. Having settled that, how about a quick preview of each of my predicted playoff series, complete with affectionate nicknames? Bulls-Pacers or the ‘What happens if your nana fights Manny Pacquiao?’ series

The likely league most valuable player with the best bench in the National Basketball Association versus the only playoff team with a losing record? What could possibly go wrong? A lot. Darren Collison versus Derrick Rose? Ouch. Tyler Hansbrough versus Carlos Boozer? That’s just mean. I know Hansbrough and company have been playing well as of late, and Danny Granger is one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the league, but there is no way this ends well for the Indiana Pacers. Get your brooms out: Chicago Bulls in four. Series Highlight: Omer Asik dunking so viciously on Josh McRoberts that McRoberts begins openly weeping. Celts-Knicks or the ‘How to infuriate Spike Lee and disprove a rivalry’ series

I can just see New York Knicks fans’ hackles rising. Come on, guys. Seriously, come on. Jared Jeffries starts. It’s bad enough that he dresses and actually gets minutes, but he starts. Now, you guys will go out during that big 2012 offseason and pick up Chris Paul or Dwight Howard and everything will be grand. But right now? No. Chauncey Billups is so washed up that he keeps a volleyball named Wilson in his locker. The Celtics are the defending Eastern Conference champs and have home-court advantage. On the other side of the coin, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo get minutes off of Boston’s bench, so I suppose there is always hope. It will be your time soon, Knicks fans, just not this year: Celtics in five. Series Highlight: Kevin Garnett’s ejection and ban from the remainder of the playoffs for throwing Spike Lee into the upper deck of Madison Square Garden following one of Spike’s heckles. Heat-Sixers or the ‘How to thoroughly destroy a young team’s

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the league’s best stories. An up-andcoming young team that has turned things around and appears primed to make noise in the playoffs. This is a team that is soaring like an eagle right now. And is about to splatter against the brick wall of the Heat. I hate the Heat, I really do, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the playoffs? Together? Playing playoffs minutes? That’s not so good. The Heat are 3-0 against the Sixers, and I don’t see a lot changing: Heat in five. Series Highlight: Chris Bosh being told after the Heat win the series that there are actually more games after the first round of the playoffs. Magic-Hawks or the ‘Wait, we’re sure the Hawks are our No. 5 seed?’ series

Dwight Howard spent the offseason working out with Hakeem Olajuwon. Joe Johnson spent the offseason getting paid. That’s pretty much what you need to know about this series. The Orlando Magic is a better team than it was last season. They got back the identity that took them to the 2009 Finals, and even though no one but Howard defends, they can still stroke the three-ball. Oh, and they jettisoned ball hog Vince Carter. What’s that? They got Gilbert Arenas? Well, that was just to dump Vince’s and Rashard Lewis’ bogus contracts. And they actually use him? So they really don’t want to make it to the conference finals, huh? It will be really interesting to see what excuse the Atlanta Hawks come up with to evaporate from the playoffs this year: Magic in five. Series Highlight: Johnson showing up to the press conference after the Hawks series loss dressed as Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly board game: “Yeah, it was a tough loss, but I just picked up the Reading Railroad!” Spurs-Grizzlies or the ‘Wait, the Grizzlies actually took them to six?’ series

The San Antonio Spurs are in a bit of a slump and the Memphis Grizzlies is actually a very wily team. Marc Gasol can do some dirty things down low, and that will probably be the only time you hear that phrase outside of an adult film review. Tony Allen is one of the best defenders in the game, and I expect them to stick him on Manu Ginobili to curb the Spurs’ scoring. Long story short, the Grizzlies will steal a game or two, but the Spurs have Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, and they are pretty good at winning: Spurs in six. Series Highlight: Tony Parker being a last-second scratch from Game 3 after he could not find one of the Grizzlies’ spouses to sleep with the previous night. It really threw off his pre-game routine. Lakers-Hornets or the ‘How to crush Sam Sheehan’s heart’ series

I’ve made no secret of my enormous man crush on Paul. Any superstar who can lose the most important

aspect of his game — his speed following his knee injury — and totally change his playing style to remain the best at his position has accomplished the most impressive feat in basketball. That’s why, as his New Orleans Hornets limp into the postseason and into the jaws of the hated Los Angeles Lakers, it will be borderline unwatchable for me. The Lakers is the best team in the NBA right now. The Horn-dogs are marching right into the meat grinder. The contraction or relocation looming over the Hornets only adds to this series’ grim “300”-esque tone. Paul leads his mighty Spartan warriors into certain doom, but he knows it is his duty — that he must do this. Godspeed, Paul. Maybe you can show the world that a man who fashions himself a god — Kobe Bryant — can bleed too: Lakers in four. Series Highlight: Paul leading the Hornets out of the locker room before game four in Spartan helms and capes before declaring to the mostly empty New Orleans Arena, “This is NOLA!” Mavs-Blazers or the ‘Man, those mavs can’t buy a playoff win’ series

Yeah, I said it. I like the Portland Trail Blazers. Wesley Matthews has been great when Brandon Roy can’t play, Marcus Camby is a great center, Gerald Wallace was a fantastic pickup and LaMarcus Aldrige has been a monster for this team. The Mavericks are in the middle of a slide, and while Dirk Nowitzki is always a beast and Tyson Chandler is playing great defense, I can’t shake that this will be the Blazers’ series. My bold prediction: Blazers in six. Series Highlight: The Blazers going more than 17 minutes without anyone’s knee exploding. Thunder-Nuggets or the ‘Wow’ series

This will be the best series by far. The Denver Nuggets are a hot upset pick ever since the team seemingly came together after the Carmelo Anthony trade. The Nuggets are a lot like the 2004 Detroit Pistons that won it all. No real superstars — just everyone buying into what’s going on. On the other side of the coin, the Thunder is a great team with superstar power and some fantastic role players. Russell Westbrook is a fantastic talent but can be a bit of a ball vacuum, so we’ll see if he hooks up scoring leader teammate Kevin Durant with the ball down the stretch. Settle in, ladies and gentlemen. This is going to be a good one: Thunder in seven. Series Highlight: Durant’s face when he realizes halfway through game seven that Kenyon Martin is the best player on the team that is giving the Thunder so much trouble. Sam Sheehan ’12 would like to remind the Boston Red Sox that April Fool’s day was over a week ago. The joke of having John Lackey start games isn’t funny anymore. Talk sports with him at or follow him on Twitter @SamSheehan.

Friday, April 8, 2011  

The April 8, 2011 issue of the Brown Daily Herald

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