vol. cxxii, no. 33
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Students commemorate Japanese earthquake By Alison Silver Senior Staff Writer
To mark the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan March 11, the Japanese Cultural Association invited students to place a crane on the Main Green Sunday to show solidarity with victims of the tragedy. The installation kicked off the Japan Earthquake Commemoration Series, a month of events that will commemorate the disaster, which had a profound impact on students with family in Japan and several undergraduates who were studying abroad in Japan at the time. “I had friends (in Tokyo) that I haven’t heard from since, and it still affects me until this day,” said Tyler Mantaring ’12, a member of the JCA whose study abroad program in Kyoto, Japan was cut short because of the natural disaster last spring. The aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami is “still affecting
Actress Streep donates $10,000
friends and family. I know people here who were severely affected by it,” he said. Mantaring was one of three students studying abroad in Kyoto about 450 miles away from the quake’s epicenter. Though Kyoto residents did not feel the direct effects of the earthquake, the program board decided to cancel classes and ultimately evacuated the students from Japan. The students were required to move out of their host families’ homes and return to the United States immediately following the decision. “It made sense that they made all the students go back,” said Helen Diagama ’12, though “at the time, I was really disappointed.” The Brown students in the Columbia University-facilitated program went directly home upon returning to the U.S., where they finished the remainder of their classes online, continued on page 2
A bill that would require women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion was introduced this January in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. The bill is being sponsored by Rep. Karen MacBeth, D-Cumberland, who said she has introduced a similar bill every year for the last four years.
After winning an Academy Award for Best Actress last month, Meryl Streep donated $10,000 to Segue Institute for Learning, a public charter school in Central Falls, R.I., in honor of fellow nominee Viola Davis, a Central Falls native whose niece attends Segue. The donation boosted the school’s effort to raise enough money to buy the building it currently occupies, which the bankrupt city
Under the legislation, physicians would face a civil penalty of up to $100,000 for a first offense and up to $250,000 for subsequent offenses for failing to perform
city & state an ultrasound on a patient seeking an abortion. The physicians would also be required to display ultrasound images to a patient and provide a medical descrip-
continued on page 5
Admin turnover may mark presidential transition By Eli Okun Senior Staff Writer
With President Ruth Simmons’ impending resignation and Executive Vice President for Planning and Senior Advisor to the President Richard Spies’ subsequent plans to step down, the University will see significant administrative turnover in the upcoming year. Such senior-level turnover
is selling as part of its financial recovery plan. Segue Institute hopes to buy the plot of land containing both the school’s current building and a recreation center next door, said Angelo Garcia, founder and director of the school. The recreation center would provide additional classroom space and serve as a center for performing arts. Garcia said he hopes Streep’s donation will serve as a “springboard to find continued on page 3
continued on page 4
Jane Hu / Herald
Students placed cranes on the Main Green one year after the tsunami in Japan.
city & state
news....................2-3 CITY & State........4 SPORTS..................5 editorial............6 Opinions.............7
tion of the images, including “the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs.” But the bill explicitly states that it would not require a woman to look at her ultrasound images. MacBeth characterized the bill as “pro-information for women.” She said that she was motivated to introduce the bill by her own
Despite going undefeated in slalom all season, the women’s ski team was a “major” underdog at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships last week, said Head Coach Michael LeBlanc. But the squad defied the odds and kept its streak going to the very end, winning the slalom team title — Brown’s first ever national skiing championship. Though the skiers dominated slalom all season, LeBlanc said the squad did not expect to beat the favorite, Sierra Nevada College, based in Lake Tahoe, Nev. — a prime skiing locale, especially when compared to Providence. Defeating Sierra Nevada “was sort of the women’s collegiate skiing version of the US beating Russia in the 1980 Olympics,” LeBlanc said. Sierra Nevada edged out the Bears in the giant slalom in a field of 20 schools, but Brown got the best of them in the slalom finals. Captain Kia Mosenthal ’12 said the team did not feel pressure to keep
Herald file photo The presidential transition phase may involve significant administrative turnover.
New policy Grad students to have more control over dissertations campus news, 2
Call to arms Leigh Thomas ’15 urges feminists to stand up opinions, 7
is consistent with the University’s history of presidential transitions, current and former administrators said, and the University is working to ensure a smooth transition between leadership. Senior-level administrators are often implicitly tied to working with the president who chooses them, said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and
Medical marijuana compromise reached
city & state, 8
By Sarah Perelman Contributing Writer
Ski team secures national title By ashley mcdonnell Sports Editor
Bill would require ultrasound before abortion By Sinclair target Contributing Writer
University relations. Presidentelect Christina Paxson will be meeting with members of the senior staff over the coming months to determine the best path forward for the University, Quinn said. “Senior staff at Brown, or anywhere else frankly, are selected to be part of a particular president’s administration,” Quinn said. A frequent reason for high turnover at the time of a presidential transition is the need for incoming presidents to assemble teams that can best realize their goals for the University, Quinn said. “Leading the University is a significant responsibility, and it’s essential for a president to have an administration that understands, appreciates and can implement the vision established by that leadership,” she said. Presidents sometimes create continued on page 4 t o d ay
63 / 46
63 / 38
2 Campus News calendar Today
12 p.m. What is Asian? Panel,
The Developing Brain Seminar,
Kassar House, Foxboro Auditorium
Sharpe Refectory, Dining Room 8
7 p.m. Jazz Combos Concert,
Amos Oz Film Screening,
Grant Recital Hall
menu SHARPE REFECTORY
VERNEy-WOOLLEY DINING HALL LUNCH
Green Chili Chicken Enchilada, Corn & Sweet Pepper Saute, Vegan Taco, Red Rice
French Bread Pepperoni Pizza, Vegetarian Cheese Soup, Zucchini Summer Squash
DINNER Acorn Squash with Curried Rice and Chick Peas, Spicy Black Bean Veggie Patty, Vegan Brownies
Curry Chicken Saute, Artichoke and Red Pepper Frittata, Stir Fried Tofu, Curry Tempeh Saute
The Brown Daily Herald Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Policy eases alums’ publishing woes By Phoebe Draper Senior Staff Writer
A new policy allows graduate students to opt for a two-year embargo on the automatic digital publication of their dissertations, which can be renewed for up to a decade. The policy change was triggered when the Graduate Council received complaints from alums of the graduate programs in English, who had encountered problems in publishing their first books. These complaints put the need for a policy change “on the radar screen,” said John Tyler, associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor of education, public policy and economics at the Graduate School. The Graduate Council drafted and ratified the policy change in May 2011 and passed it on to the Graduate Student Council for informal approval last September. The student council gave the new policy a nod, approving its “spirit,” said Matteo Riondato GS, president of the Graduate Student Council. The new policy is already formally enacted, but Tyler and representatives of the library are drafting the policy’s official language for the Graduate School Handbook this week, Tyler said. Under the old policy, dissertations were automatically published online — a “problematic” system, said Khristina Gonzalez GS, a former member
of the Graduate Student Council. Digitally stored dissertations are made readily available to the public and subjected to web searches, downloads and copying. Because dissertations frequently make up a significant portion of graduate students’ first books, publishing companies may become hesitant to publish the material in hard copy form when it is already available on the web, Gonzalez said. “Alumni, especially out of English, were concerned, and their publishers were concerned that if their dissertations could be Googlesearched and downloaded, then that was going to affect their ability to get a publication contract,” Tyler said. Unless the author renews the embargo for another two years, the work will automatically be stored online. “It’s an opt-out policy, so the default is that your dissertation will be published and go into digital storage,” Tyler said. In cases where the dissertation involves joint scholarship and an embargo disagreement arises between a student and an adviser, the Graduate Council will adjudicate the case, according to the council’s 2010-11 Annual Report. “Students are now going to have autonomous control over whether their dissertation gets published, as long as they stay in contact with the University,” Gonzalez said.
While the embargo option may appeal to students in the humanities and social sciences who are looking to publish books upon graduation, other students may choose not to pursue the embargo option, Gonzalez said. For students conducting archival research, automatic digital storage acts as a record of their discovery. Sometimes these findings are time-sensitive, and the dissertation becomes evidence that the student made the discovery first. Automatic online dissertation publication is a means to get information out faster than the traditional publication process, Gonzalez said. The old dissertation publication policy was “developed in an environment where all dissertations were studied either in hard copy or microfiche formats” and stipulated that all dissertations would be copied and put on file at the University library, according to the Annual Report. “It was just a different world,” Tyler said. With the bulk of today’s research occurring online, the new dissertation policy protects the interests of graduate student authors. “In the end, one of the goals of the University and for research in general is to disseminate the fruits of the work, the fruits of the research and at some point, the information must be made available to the public,” Riondato said.
Fundraiser to aid tsunami victims continued from page 1
communicating with professors via Skype and submitting final assignments by email. Though the damage was devastating in the designated danger zones, Mantaring and Diagama said they never felt unsafe while in Japan. “Life in Kyoto remained exactly the same,” Mantaring said. At the time of the earthquake, 18 undergrads also reported Japan as their current residence, according to a 2011 press release. Much of the debris from the earthquake has been removed and the country is “moving in a positive direction,” said JCA CoPresident Ashley Adams ’12, whose hometown is Tokyo, according to the JCA website. Notwithstanding the progress that has already been made, Adams said her grandmother, who volunteers in affected areas, tells her there are still “a lot of people who have despair, and hope is not an easy thing to come by.”
With the help of the Brown University Committee on Japan Earthquake Relief created in the aftermath of the quake, the JCA raised $12,000, which it donated to the Japanese Red Cross and Architecture for Humanity, according to the organization’s website. Adams said the group did not hold many events last year due to the disaster’s sudden impact. Since then, she said the community of the JCA has “really bonded and come together” to achieve a common goal. The series aims to raise awareness and remembrance of the ongoing situation in Japan, Adams said. To continue to promote hope and support for efforts to rebuild Japan’s affected areas, the JCA is holding a main fundraising event that involves selling tee shirts designed and created by Brown students. The project is part of a collaboration with 11 other universities from the U.S., Canada and Japan, and the money raised will be donated to Power of Japan and
www.browndailyherald.com 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I.
Claire Peracchio, President Rebecca Ballhaus, Vice President
Danielle Marshak, Treasurer Siena DeLisser, Secretary
The Brown Daily Herald (USPS 067.740) is an independent newspaper serving the Brown University community daily since 1891. It is published Monday through Friday during the academic year, excluding vacations, once during Commencement and once during Orientation by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Single copy free for each member of the community. POSTMASTER please send corrections to P.O. Box 2538, Providence, RI 02906. Periodicals postage paid at Providence, R.I. Subscription prices: $280 one year daily, $140 one semester daily. Copyright 2011 by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved. editorial
(401) 351-3372 firstname.lastname@example.org
(401) 351-3260 email@example.com
JEN, two non-governmental organizations that give aid to children orphaned during the natural disaster, according to the JCA’s website. The shirt design was chosen through a worldwide online poll of American and Japanese students. Other events in the series include a talk by several Japanese high school students who were orphaned during the tsunami and a lecture series, “Rethink, Rebuild, Remember,” which features three experts who will discuss existing misconceptions about the earthquake. The speakers will tour five other colleges and universities in addition to Brown. There are “a lot of intercollegiate things happening, and I think that’s what makes it really special,” Adams said. “We’re here for this one cause.” “Seeing Japan pull together at a time of crisis just makes me love Japan more,” said Mantaring, who returned to Japan last summer. Mantaring received a grant to conduct independent research in Kyoto, which was outside the danger zone for nuclear radiation, a concern after the tsunami damaged two nuclear power reactors. In addition to doing research, Mantaring participated in a week-long summer camp and spent time visiting friends and family across the country. “Kyoto and that area became like a second home to me,” he said. In hindsight, he said it was probably best that he and the other students came back early from studying abroad. But “my definite plan is to return to Japan,” he added. “If there’s one thing I learned from my time there,” Mantaring said, “it is that the spirit of Japan is something that just can’t be broken.”
Campus News 3
The Brown Daily Herald Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Charter school aided by celebrity donation continued from page 1 others who will match it and contribute.” The school is looking to raise $250,000 to buy the buildings and $1.2 million to $2 million to renovate the recreation center. If they do not receive enough donations, the school is considering taking out loans. Robert Flanders, the stateappointed receiver overseeing Central Falls’ recovery, said his office plans to relocate the school and sell the current building as part of the city’s effort to consolidate its land to “defray the costs of running the city, its buildings and school system.” Flanders said his office has not determined potential locations. His office also plans to combine school and city administrations, provide tax cuts for businesses improving the value of their property and share some public services with Pawtucket. Though Segue Institute currently holds the only formal bid on the school building, others also have expressed interest, Flanders said. Segue Institute does not yet have the money to pay for the bid, Garcia said, but it is working through social media to increase donations. The Central Falls library also
recently received celebrity attention — Alec Baldwin donated $10,000 to help preserve the local library last fall. The school hopes to receive a decision from the city soon, since it must be ready when the new school year begins in August, said Lucy Rios, chairperson of Segue Institute’s board of directors. The board established a Building Committee to oversee the sale, and the school makes weekly calls to the city to stay abreast of the process. Segue Institute was founded in 2009 as a community-started charter school to provide students from sixth to eighth grade with individual attention, academic rigor and parental collaboration. “(This building) is where we started, and there is room to grow,” said Nelly Hoffins Vargas, a parent and board member at Segue Institute. Hoffins Vargas said she fears a new building might not be as suited to the school’s needs, and it might not feel as much like home to the students as the current building. Flanders said he is not sure yet whether the building will be sold to Segue Institute or another buyer, but he assured that Segue Institute will still have “a home in Central Falls.”
Eco activist emphasizes culture’s role By mariya bashkatova Contributing Writer
“We take more than our share of the biosphere,” said Winona LaDuke, environmental rights activist, author and member of the Anishinaabe Nation, during a lecture in Salomon 101 last night. The lecture, “Seven Generations: The Intersection of Ecological and Indigenous Economics,” was opened by a Mashpee Wampanoag drum group performance and was the second in the “Catalyzing Conversations on Diversity” series sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity and supported by Native Americans at Brown and the Third World Center. LaDuke addressed the cultural problems the United States is facing with regard to sustainability. In America, there is often a “commodification of all — the perception that everything is some tangible market economy,” LaDuke said. Instead of having an environmental economy based on cyclical patterns in nature, people see the environment primarily in terms of
its use to humans, she said. LaDuke used the example of the waste industry to demonstrate the linearity and short-sightedness of most environmental thinking, taking issue with the idea of waste as a concept humans accept as a given. She also addressed the problems of non-renewable energy, dependence on oil, genetically modified foods, unsustainable crop growth and transportation practices. When populations rely on food products from distant sources, their oil dependency and reliance on outside sources increase and local economies suffer, she said. To counter these problems, LaDuke outlined the basic tenets of sustainability, which she has observed while studying indigenous practices. It is important to understand humans were the last to arrive on earth, she said. The ecosystem could survive without humans, but humans depend on nature, she said. Within the indigenous cultures LaDuke studies, people believe all beings are related and “most of our
world is animate,” which she said leads to a sense of accountability for human actions that does not exist in an anthropocentric view. Currently, LaDuke is working on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota to put into action sustainability initiatives to “regain control over food and energy,” she said. These initiatives include a movement to restore the growth of indigenous crops that can tolerate climate change, the construction of a wind turbine and the continual battle against the production of genetically engineered food. LaDuke is also active in national environmentalism efforts, serving as executive director of Honor the Earth, a Native American environmental rights organization. It is important not to have a “frontier” state of mind, where one can move on to a different location if the first one is destroyed, LaDuke said. When making a decision, one must “consider the impact on the generation seven generations from now. You take only what you need, and leave the rest,” she said.
4 City & State U. has history of administrative turnover continued from page 1 new positions, as was the case with Spies when he arrived at the University in early 2002. Spies, who originally worked with Simmons at Princeton, came to Brown to assume his current position at Simmons’ behest. Most senior administrators serve at the discretion of the president, especially those who report directly to the president. These positions include the provost, the dean of medicine and biological sciences and most vice presidents. Many of these administrators lack formal, written contracts, and tenure agreements that are reached tend to be flexible on either end, said Rajiv Vohra, professor of economics and dean of the faculty from 2004 to 2011. Vohra, who reported to former provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98, said he served a full five-year contract but opted out partway through his second five-year contract, a move he said was not unusual. His predecessor, Professor of Sociology Mary Fennell, served four years in the position. “To be an administrator ... is not something that a lot of people think of doing long-term,” Vohra said. “It’s important not to see this as the way in which typical faculty appointments are structured.” In past years, many top administrative transitions have coincided with the appointments of new presidents. When former President Gordon Gee came to the University in 1998, turnover
was widespread with the hiring of a new dean of college and two provosts in the span of two years. And less than two months after Simmons assumed office in 2001, Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences and Public Policy Kathryn Spoehr ’69 resigned as provost. Spoehr’s successor, Robert Zimmer, was one of five senior administrators who announced their resignations in the summer and fall of 2006. “When the president first came, the rhetoric was that everything has to change and that nothing that has happened before was any good,” Spoehr told The Herald in 2006 at the time of the five resignations. Paxson told The Herald in a recent interview that it was too soon to determine whether there would be leadership changes in the near future. During such transitions, the preservation of institutional knowledge and academic continuity is a concern and a priority, administrators said. This process is often made easier when both the predecessor and successor come from within Brown, Vohra said. “There needs to be a good balance between new energy and continuity, so that means typically that you don’t have wholesale, complete changes,” he said. Since leaving office, Vohra said he has communicated often with his successor, Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12. “We’ve been in fairly frequent touch,” Vohra said. “There are issues that
don’t very neatly end on June 30.” Quinn said Simmons has particularly emphasized the importance of ensuring a smooth transition in upcoming months. “There’s always attention paid to succession planning, and it’s something that President Simmons has encouraged in her senior team,” she said. “Every situation is different, but there is certainly significant thought and support provided to ensure that the leadership of the University have the resources they need to be successful.” The injection of new ideas can often be a positive force for the University, Spoehr said. “Some institutional knowledge is always lost, especially if a replacement comes in from the outside of Brown, and very often, that’s intentional. Very often, you might want to bring in some new ideas,” she said. “You don’t want people who are stuck in the past.” At the same time, a balance must be maintained, Spoehr said. “It’s a delicate art of how much you can move an institution forward,” she said, citing former Harvard President Larry Summers as a leader who tried to change too much too quickly and consequently failed. Regardless of the particular leader, changes at a university are often slow and laborious, Spoehr said. “Moving a university is a lot like moving a cemetery,” she said. “It takes a lot of spade work and heavy lifting, and you get no help from the inhabitants.”
The Brown Daily Herald Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Ultrasound bill stirs controversy continued from page 1 experience as a single and pregnant woman seeking advice about her pregnancy, which she had no plans to terminate. She said she went to the Planned Parenthood center for advice at the time. “I saw Planned Parenthood, and I thought it helped you plan your parenthood,” she said. “I went in, explained what I was there for, and they looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you’re in the wrong place, we don’t do that here.’” MacBeth said she realized there were women “going to Planned Parenthood or other organizations and not getting the information they should.” MacBeth compared abortion to other surgical procedures, pointing out that usually doctors provide an extensive explanation of every step in a surgery. She said she worried there were women seeking abortions who were not being fully informed of their options or who did not know they could view their own ultrasound images. “This (bill) is just saying to the woman, you know, ‘you can look at this,’” said MacBeth. “There may be women who say ‘absolutely not,’ but what about the woman who says ‘yes, I’d like to’ and when she sees the pictures says, ‘Oh my goodness, I had no idea, this isn’t the right choice for me?’” “I don’t see this as a pro-life or pro-choice bill,” said MacBeth. “It’s neither. It’s a bill to give women information.” The bill is also supported by Rhode Island Right to Life, a state advocacy group that lobbies for pro-life legislation. Barth Bracy, executive director of the advocacy group, wrote in an email to The Herald that the bill would help prevent women from making un-
informed decisions, only to regret them later. “Tens of thousands of postabortive women around America have come forward to say that they deeply regret their abortion,” Bracy said. “Since the law currently recognizes the woman as the one who must make this decision, she deserves all the information available.” The bill has been met with criticism from medical professionals and women’s rights groups. Paula Hodges, public policy and advocacy director for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said the bill was unnecessary and political. Rhode Island law already requires physicians to explain the abortion procedure to patients, and ultrasounds are given to most patients anyway because they are used to determine the gestational age of the fetus, she said. “The fact of the matter is that this bill is not grounded in scientifically-based or medically-based standards of care,” Hodges said. “It’s a political statement.” Hodges also criticized the bill as harmful to women. “It instills a judgement on women who have already been through their decision-making process,” Hodges said. “This is a disgusting abuse of power in my opinion.” Lily Goodspeed ’13, a member of Feminists at Brown, an umbrella group for students working on issues relating to sexism and the support of women, said the bill made her uncomfortable. “Abortion is a serious decision — it’s a really hard decision,” she said. “I don’t think women should be made to feel guilty or that anyone should add difficulty to the choice that ultimately is theirs.” The bill is being held for further review by the House Judiciary Committee.
Betaspring program attracts companies to Rhode Island continued from page 8 wants to make finding off-campus housing easier for college students around the country. Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Kyle Nichols-Schmolze said when he and the other founders were undergraduates at Tufts University, they were dismayed with the difficulty of finding off-campus housing and saw a business opportunity. JumpOffCampus has already paired with five universities around the country to provide their student bodies with central locations to learn about off-campus options. Nichols-Schmolze said the company has contacted
Brown and officials have expressed interest in signing for their services. Betapsring offers companies a unique opportunity to integrate themselves into Providence, Nichols Schmolze said. “The guys who are running this know everyone in Providence,” he said. “We’re really digging it.” Taveras asked the crowd to look out the windows of the office building at the “Knowledge District” surrounding it on all sides. “I promise you in five years it’s not going to look like that — and in ten years nothing like that,” Taveres said, adding that the companies in the room would help bring about that change.
Sports Tuesday 5
The Brown Daily Herald Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Mosenthal ’12 Maclellan ’12 signs with Predators leads Bears to top Hockey
continued from page 1 up its unprecedented winning streak at Nationals. “We handled the pressure really well and treated the race as any other race,” she said. “We just told ourselves, ‘Stay calm and enjoy it and appreciate the experience...” Individually, Mosenthal came in first in the slalom, ahead of the second-place finisher by 2.2 seconds after both runs. Initially, it seemed like Matea Ferk — who competed in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics for Croatia and now skis for Sierra Nevada — was in first after the first run. But after video review, the officials determined that Ferk had straddled a gate and was disqualified. “It was such a blessing” to finish in first after not having completed her second run last year, Mosenthal said. Mosenthal is one of the best skiers in slalom nationwide, LeBlanc said. With her first-place finish in slalom and fourth-place finish in giant slalom, Mosenthal is going to be the USCSA representative at US Nationals. “She basically gets to go and race against the whole (US) national team” as well as against foreign competitors, LeBlanc said. “We haven’t qualified a skier to do that before.” But Mosenthal was not the only Bear to turn in a strong performance — the underclassmen put up impressive times that propelled the team to
the top of the standings. In slalom, Maria Mastanduno ’14 and Emma LeBlanc ’14 came in 12th and 13th place, respectively, out of the 89 skiers who completed both runs. In giant slalom, LeBlanc came in 10th place, while Kia’s sister, Nika Mosenthal ’15, came in 12th. The underclassmen “made a huge impact in terms of giving us depth,” Kia Mosenthal said. “It was great having more people this year really contribute to the team.” The squad’s success at Nationals comes only a year after the team was recommended to be eliminated by the Athletics Review Committee. Immediately after that announcement, the team focused on trying to raise money to keep the program alive, according to Michael LeBlanc. But it also drove the skiers to dominate the slopes to prove they deserved to be a varsity sport, he said. “Every single kid on the team wanted to prove their worth,” Michael LeBlanc said. “They sure as hell did it. … It meant the world to the program, that’s for sure.” Kia Mosenthal echoed her coach’s sentiments. “We proved momentously that we deserve to be with the varsity sports at Brown,” she said. “To come back and then win a national championship and be second overall was the most satisfying experience anyone could hope for. I hope we made a lasting impression.”
BSA offers funds to inspire social change By lauren pope Contributing Writer
The Inspire Fund, Brown Student Agencies’ new funding initiative, offers up to $1,000 for students working on projects to benefit the University or Providence communities, according to the BSA website.
Campus News BSA intends for the need-based fund to “inspire social change,” said Ellen Pederson ’13, assistant director of BSA. The BSA management team works together to select candidates for the Inspire Fund. Students must fill out an application, answering questions about their project and how it will benefit the community, Pederson said. BSA is looking for students who have experience in their project areas or students who are advised by a faculty member experienced in the project’s field. Funds will be awarded to ongoing projects, rather than single events, she said. “We are looking for someone who is going to make a long-standing difference and help provide a lasting improvement for the community,” she said. BSA has not distributed any funding yet because the applications for the Inspire Fund were posted just a few weeks ago, Pederson said. BSA
plans to begin awarding funds within several weeks to as many students as their budget will allow, she said. So far, the majority of applicants have been small groups of students, but the fund is open to individuals as well, she said. There is no application deadline, and students will be chosen on a “first-come, first-serve basis,” according to the BSA website. The money for the Inspire Fund comes from profits from BSA’s services, she said. Earlier this year, BSA sponsored another fellowship, the C.V. Starr Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, which provided undergraduate entrepreneurs funds and guidance. Pilar Garcia-Brown ’14, one of the students selected for the fellowship, is working with a group of women in Ecuador to sustain their jewelrymaking business. She said she could not have traveled to Ecuador this past summer without the funding from BSA. “I wouldn’t have been able to find money to buy jewelry from the women and maintain the infrastructure to keep the project sustainable,” she said. BSA’s established services are designed to make student life easier, but the funding initiatives offer a different kind of support, Pederson said, adding, “We have our own programs to improve student life, but we want to help students be able to help the community in ways we can’t.”
By connor grealy Sports Staff Writer
In the span of one week, men’s ice hockey captain Jack Maclellan ’12 went from losing a disappointing first-round series in the ECAC playoffs — his final games in a Brown uniform — to realizing his dream of joining hockey’s premier professional league. Saturday night, Maclellan finalized a one-year deal with the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators, a team he is familiar with after attending its Summer Development Camp last summer. Maclellan has joined the team and will practice with them for the remainder of the season. “It’s pretty surreal. It didn’t sink in — it still hasn’t,” Maclellan said. “It’s a feeling I can’t explain. I’ve dreamt about it my entire life. For it to finally happen, it’s pretty special — it was probably the biggest moment in my life.” Maclellan finished his final season as a Bear as the team leader in goals (15), assists (15) and overall points (30). The captain joined the 100-point club for his career during the season, with a final tally of 101, making him one of only 23 players in Brown hockey history to reach the century mark. Maclellan also earned First Team All-Ivy honors and is a nominee for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for Ice Hockey. Though the individual statistics and honors all belong to Maclellan, he said he feels he owes a great deal of his success to the Bruno hockey program. “I owe everything to Brown and Brown hockey,” Maclellan said. “It was nothing short of amazing for me.” “Before I came, I didn’t have any kind of professional interest — it’s generated over the last few seasons,” he added. Head Coach Brendan Whittet ’94 said he was unsurprised by Maclellan’s signing after yet another stellar season. “Jack was a very high-end skilled college player and received a lot
Jesse Schwimmer / Herald
Jack Maclellan ‘12 signed a one-year entry level contract on Saturday.
of interest after his junior year,” Whittet said. “He’s been our most complete and skilled player, proven by the points he was able to put up despite being a marked man by most defenses we played.” But the transformation of Maclellan into a team standout and NHL prospect is all the more impressive considering his first-year campaign, during which he only notched six points. “When I came into the head coaching job, I came in with an open mind, and Jack caught my eye from the drop of the puck,” Whittet said. “I had confidence in him because he was a player who could create on the offensive side — he allowed us to put up a lot of points and win games. ...He did amazing things for our program.” Maclellan will look to translate his offensive prowess at the collegiate level to the NHL, as he becomes the third Brown player in the last three seasons to sign an NHL contract. In 2010, Aaron Volpatti ’10 signed with the Vancouver Canucks and last year, Harry Zolnierczyk ’11 agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Flyers. Whittet pointed to these three players as a testament to the Brown program’s ability to “develop and showcase players.” Though Maclellan has closed
the book on a memorable Brown career, he said he is excited to take the next step in the development of his career. “It’s already kind of a bittersweet feeling to know that those four years are over,” Maclellan said. “It’s the start of another chapter in my life. I’m currently in Phoenix with the team, and I’ll be practicing with the team for the rest of the season.” The signings of Maclellan, assistant captain Bobby Farnham ’12 and goalie Mike Clemente ’12 with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and defenseman Jeff Buvinow ’12 with the Trenton Titans of the East Coast Hockey League represents the depth of talent moving from the Bruno class of 2012 on to the professional ranks. “You don’t replace players of Jack’s ability. It’s going to take a team effort,” Whittet said. “We’ve laid a foundation and created a culture.” And the head coach said he is now looking forward to seeing how the now-experienced underclassmen will be able to mesh with a talented incoming class of recruits. “We’ve created that culture that looks to succeed,” Whittet said. “Now we need to implement it.” For Maclellan, that culture helped earn him a spot in the NHL.
comics Dreadful Cosmology | Dario Mitchell
Fraternity of Evil | Eshan Mitra, Brendan Hainline and Hector Ramirez
6 Editorial & Letter Editorial
The Brown Daily Herald Tuesday, March 13, 2012
by lo r e n f u lto n
Stop (and think about) Kony On March 5, the Kony 2012 campaign launched when the nonprofit, Invisible Children, created a 30-minute video in order to call attention to Joseph Kony, the now-infamous leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army. We fully support the intentions behind the video, as there is no doubt in our minds that Kony and his crimes are heinous. That said, we have reservations about the Invisible Children campaign and are alarmed at the way in which many college students have embraced the movement seemingly without much thought. At the beginning of the video, co-founder Jason Russell notes that “today, there are more people on Facebook than there were on the planet two hundred years ago.” He goes on to discuss how this desire and ability to connect can and should be used for good — in this case, to promote awareness and stop Kony’s reign of terror. This is all well and good, but we are seriously concerned that the ease of spreading awareness has caused a decrease in the depth of activist knowledge of the issue. In the wake of the SOPA and PIPA campaign, we must question the principles of a lethargic digital protest culture fostered by such easy accessibility of information. With one-click options such as liking, sharing and forwarding, it has become an incredibly simple matter to pass something along to others without having to take responsibility for the accuracy or consequences of its content. We therefore encourage people, regardless of whether they are for or against Kony 2012 or somewhere in between, to do their own research before hastily jumping to conclusions. The ease of communicating and connecting on the Internet can result in complacency if we believe that merely clicking a button — what some call “slacktivism” — is always enough to make a change. As prominent as the video has been on all of our newsfeeds, backlash against Invisible Children and the campaign went viral almost as quickly. Many take issue with the perceived easing of “white man’s guilt” in Africa, and others claim that the campaign is an elaborate conspiracy motivated by access to oil in Uganda. Many, including major journalists and activists in Uganda, have complained that the movie has considerably oversimplified the issue, and the LRA has not been in northern Uganda since 2006. Some worry that this will only embolden Kony. Whatever stance one takes on this issue, or any issue for that matter, it must be reached through critical and cautious consideration of the facts and not founded on its convenience or popularity. Russell claims that through the organization’s efforts, “awareness turned into action. We started something.” We hope that the recent awareness raised about Kony does indeed yield positive, tangible results. As one blogger wrote, “Invisible Children is right when it says that the power of individuals is increasing. As a donor, voter and social networker, you have power. With that power comes responsibility.” But the power we have is not only in the sharing of links and the spreading of awareness. As educated individuals in the digital age, it is our responsibility to be comprehensive and discerning in the activism we choose to promote. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
t h e b r ow n da i ly h e r a l d Editor-in-Chief
Rebecca Ballhaus Nicole Boucher
Tony Bakshi Natalie Villacorta
Arts & Culture Editor Sarah Mancone Arts & Culture Editor Emma Wohl City & State Editor Elizabeth Carr City & State Editor Kat Thornton Features Editor Aparna Bansal Assistant Features Editor Jordan Hendricks News Editor David Chung News Editor Lucy Feldman News Editor Greg Jordan-Detamore News Editor Shefali Luthra Science Editor Sahil Luthra Sports Editor Ethan McCoy Sports Editor Ashley McDonnell Assistant Sports Editor Sam Rubinroit Editorial Page Editor Jonathan Topaz Opinions Editor Charles Lebovitz Opinions Editor Jared Moffat Graphics & Photos Eva Chen Emily Gilbert Rachel Kaplan Jesse Schwimmer
Graphics Editor Photo Editor Photo Editor Sports Photo Editor
Copy Desk Chief Design Editor Design Editor Web Producer
Office Manager Shawn Reilly
Directors Julia Kuwahara Samuel Plotner Nikita Khadloya Angel Lee
Sales Finance Alumni Relations Business Development
“[Defeating Sierra Nevada] was sort of the women’s collegiate skiing version of the U.S. beating Russia in the 1980 Olympics.” — Head Coach Michael LeBlanc
See Skiing on page 1.
Managers Justin Lee Kaivan Shroff Gregory Chatzinoff Mahima Chawla Matthew Hill Alison Pruzan Elizabeth Gordon David Winer
Human Resources Research & Development Collections Collections Finance Operations Alumni Engagement Fundraising Marketing
Post- magazine Sam Knowles
Production Olivia Conetta Kyle McNamara Julia Shube Neal Poole
General Managers Siena DeLisser Danielle Marshak
quote of the day
BLOG DAILY HERALD Jennifer Bloom Matt Klimerman
Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor
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 Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Since when has the two-state solution become passe? By Zach Ingber Guest Columnist For the past 20 years, there has been a consensus on a starting point to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Two states for two peoples” is something that experts including government officials, academics and journalists have espoused. The Jewish people deserve a sovereign nation as do the Palestinians. Yet there is a growing movement among Israel’s detractors and campus pro-Palestinian movements for a “one-state solution” in the region. The proposed state would be a singular nation with rights for all citizens. There would be no religious identity and no distinguishing characteristics of the country. While this proposal sounds fair and just in theory, this would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state — and it seems that most proPalestinian movements are okay with this. But this new bi-national state would look no different than Belgium or Switzerland. Israel was created in the wake of the greatest tragedy in human history because there were only Belgiums and Switzerlands. The Jewish aspect of Israel is the fundamental component of Israel as a Jewish homeland. Unfortunately, the recognition of the other side’s sovereignty is unbalanced. I currently serve as Vice President of Brown Students for Israel— which is often accused of being Brown’s most right-wing
pro-Israel group — and I can confidently say BSI endorses and supports a two-state solution. BSI sponsored a lecture earlier in the year by Barney Frank, a very liberal former member of congress, who preached a two-state solution as the only logical way to move forward. In fact, if BSI were to bring a speaker who advocated for a greater Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, it would be dismissed as right-wing nonsense. Yet, as part of “Israel Apartheid Week,”
“Israel Apartheid Week” is not about the security barrier, nor is it about Israeli settlements. SJP’s protests are not about human rights violations, nor are they about Israeli land grabbing. These small policy issues are a diversion from their fundamental objection to a Jewish state. Abunimah’s tweet, “Isn’t it time for a popular Palestinian revolution in the form of a third intifada?” further illuminates his opposition to Israel and is perhaps a temptation to violence. I fundamentally respect the rights of
I fundamentally respect the rights of others to have an opinion, and I am glad SJP gets the right to organize. But please don’t mask your denial of the right to a Jewish state under the guise of “end the occupation.” That is simply deceptive. Brown Students for Justice in Palestine brought Ali Abunimah, a scholar who supports the creation of just one state in the region. The publications on his website, “Electronic Intifada” — which conjures nasty memories of busses exploding and suicide bombers in Israel — advocate a state without a religious identity. That means no Israel as a Jewish state. Fundamentally, as evidenced by Abunimah, SJP does not respect Jewish sovereignty. I do not quite understand why there is no reciprocity between Students for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine. BSI has been vocal about Palestinian sovereignty, but we get no love in return.
others to have an opinion, and I am glad SJP has the right to organize. But please don’t mask your denial of the right to a Jewish state under the guise of “end the occupation.” That is simply deceptive. If you want to complain about ethnoreligious privilege — what SJP is calling “Apartheid”— I suggest you focus on Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims cannot enter Mecca, or Egypt, where Coptic Christians have been persecuted for decades. The only time Jerusalem’s holy sites have been open to all religions has been under Jewish rule. Until 1967, Jews did not have access to the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, which was under Jordanian control.
The other day on the Main Green I had a student in SJP tell me she feels that what has been done to the Palestinians greatly exceeds the pain caused to Israeli citizens. I wish she would tell that to the remainder of the Fogel family, whose close relatives were murdered around one year ago by two Palestinian militants in the Israeli town in Itamar. Yes, they lived in a settlement, but that is hardly justification for such brutal action. When people ask me why there is a security barrier, or “Apartheid Wall,” as SJP likes to call it, separating the West Bank from Israel proper, I struggle to find the words to explain the answer effectively. Surprisingly, I found my answer on Wikipedia. Looking for the story surrounding the death of the Fogels, I searched “Itamar attack,” and it brought me to a page. I was struck by the words “not to be confused with ‘Itamar attack (2002).’” In 2002, Palestinian militants murdered a mother and her three sons in Itamar. The fact that there exists two Wikipedia pages entitled “Itamar attack” is why a security barrier stands today. Protecting your citizens is hardly apartheid. Let us continue to have an open dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I urge both sides to respect the sovereignty of the other. It is only then that discourse will move forward in the most productive way possible. Zach Ingber ’15 would like to dedicate this article to the Fogel family as we mourn for them one year later. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A call for women’s activists By Leigh Thomas Opinions Columnist March is Women’s History Month. Events sponsored by the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center will be happening all month, recognizing past and present contributions and experiences of women worldwide. While these events represent a positive approach to the inclusion of women in academia, they remind me of what I perceive to be an unfortunate paucity of activism relating to women’s or gender issues on campus. I came to Brown excited to get involved in what I presumed would be a vibrant feminist community on campus. But I have found myself disappointed by the lack of a powerful public voice of such a group. This is coming from someone who has actively attempted to seek out student organizations targeting feminist issues. While these groups exist and do good work, there needs to be more of a culture of support for their efforts, as well as greater visibility of feminist activism. It has been my observation, though I hope I am mistaken, that a certain amount of ambivalence surrounds the terms “feminism” or “women’s issues.” Other facets of activism seem much more prevalent among the student body, such as queer issues or environmental sustainability. I do not want to detract from the seriousness or necessity of other routes of
advocacy, but we need to recognize that sex and gender equality are still very important issues that cannot be abandoned. The number of attacks on women’s rights — specifically reproductive rights — occurring on the national scene is atrocious and cannot go unchallenged. The Virginia State General Assembly recently moved to pass a bill requiring a transvaginal ultrasound for all women seeking abortions. Due to significant public outcry, the measure has been changed to only require an external ultrasound rather than the more invasive transvaginal
women the freedom to turn away while undergoing a medically unnecessary procedure intended to guilt them into choosing not to abort. Before addressing the sickeningly paternalistic tone of these laws, note the hypocrisy of any proponent of these policies who also claims to be concerned with reducing health care spending. To require by law the same treatment of patients regardless of conditions or context is not conducive to proper medical utilization, nor does it allow an appropriate degree of privacy and autonomy for physician’s
Given the current reversion to the Stone Age with regard to reproductive rights, it is imperative that we not forget the importance and necessity of activism.
procedure. This type of legislation falls right in line with other outrageous attempts to deter women from having abortions, all of which have repercussions beyond the domain of reproductive rights. Currently, seven states require all women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. Of these, Texas is the only state that also requires the provider to display the image of the fetus to the women. The other six have generously afforded the
practices. As we are in the midst of trying desperately to cut health care costs, to whose benefit is it to require often-unnecessary tests and procedures? Returning to the patriarchal overtones of such policies, it appears that the general notion that has seized the national dialogue on reproductive rights is that women cannot be trusted with their own decisions, and beyond this, that a fertile woman’s role is first that of an incubator, then of an individual.
Consider laws cropping up in states like Georgia that would require investigations of the causes of miscarriages in order to determine if there was “human causation” on the part of the mother. Women found guilty of such “prenatal murder” will face criminal charges. Yes, that’s right, after going through the often very emotionally painful process of miscarrying, women will be investigated to see if they caused it. These procedures come as products of the new “Personhood Act” being proposed in several states including Oklahoma and Mississippi which would grant full rights of citizenship to a fertilized egg. In addition to making abortion illegal, the Personhood Act places limitations on availability of birth control as well as in vitro fertilization. Clearly, we have not shaken the need for dialogue about feminism, gender issues, women’s rights or whatever name you want to give it. We as university students are notorious for standing up for causes we are moved by and taking political action to bring about change. It would be a great loss to the spirit of liberal education to lose this essence of protest and critique from our campus. Given the current reversion to the Stone Age with regard to reproductive rights, it is imperative that we not forget the importance and necessity of activism within the realm of women’s rights. Leigh Thomas ’15 is from Irvington, New York. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Daily Herald City & State the Brown
Program draws startup companies to Providence By adam toobin Senior Staff Writer
Providence leaders welcomed 16 new companies brought to the city by Betaspring, a start-up accelerator based in the Jewelry District, during an open house attended by 300 people Thursday. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras said he saw the new group of companies as examples of a prospering and revitalized Providence. Also in attendance were Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Keith Stokes. The 16 companies come from various cities including Boston, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Tel Aviv. While some of the companies have already entered the market, others are still fine-tuning their concepts. Betaspring held Thursday’s event in its new office space in the heart of the Jewelry District, a larger physical location that has allowed it to bring in twice as many companies. The city has tried to bring medical and technology companies to the district as part of a larger initiative to diversify the city’s economic base. Each company will spend three months in Providence as a part of the Betaspring program and is encouraged to stay in the city after the term expires. Betaspring invests up to $20,000 in every company and provides them with a structured environment in which to expand their design and investment potential. Of the previous companies that have completed the Betaspring program, approximately two-thirds of the companies are still operating with varying degrees of success, according to Betaspring’s website. One-third failed within two years of graduation, the site said. Betaspring highlights its use of mentors — previous graduates of the program — to aid current start-ups in their development. Max Winograd ’09, a graduate of the Betaspring program, spoke to the value of Betaspring and his excitement of being a mentor now
that his company has begun to thrive. He and two other Brown graduates invented a new sticky label that does not use a backing. That invention led to the creation of start-up NuLabel, which went through the Betaspring program. They now employ 15 people in Providence and pay more than $1 million in salaries, he said. While Betaspring’s mission focuses on technology and design companies, it has a diverse group of start-ups. The start-ups range from political sites like AgileQR, which allows political leaders to connect with voters who share their values, to child-welfare organizations like Spoutrel, which creates toys that aid children with chronic diseases. Another of this year’s participants is MoveableCode, a start-up founder Nicholas Napp said he hopes will become the “Hasbro of mobile.” MoveableCode has created games for children to help with phonics and other academic skills, Napp said. Its creations are all available for both the Apple and Android mobile products, Napp said. The company teamed up with the popular television show Veggie Tales to incorporate the program’s characters into the game. Photographer Tom Arma, known as “the most-published baby photographer in the world,” according to his website, joined with MoveableCode for a game where the animals in the story are portrayed by Arma’s photographs of babies in animal costumes. Child development experts have lauded the game’s pedagogical value, Napp said. Kevin Mowrer is the chief creative officer for MoveableCode and former vice president of worldwide research and development for the Rhode Island based company, Hasbro. MoveableCode’s ties to Rhode Island are deep, Napp said, adding that it plans to stay local after graduating from Betaspring. Another company working through the Betaspring process is JumpOffCampus, a start-up that continued on page 4
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Gov. collaborates on marijuana legislation By Elizabeth Woodward Contributing Writer
Members of the Rhode Island General Assembly worked with Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 to draft legislation that would allow compassion centers — medical marijuana dispensaries — to operate by holding them to more stringent regulations. The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Rhoda Perry P’91, DProvidence and state Rep. Scott Slater, D-Providence, is designed to minimize the risk of federal intervention, such as raids or shutdowns, in the compassion centers. Rhode Island legalized the use of medical marijuana by licensed patients in 2006, but there are no state-regulated distributors of the drug, so patients rely on caregivers to grow and supply them with the drug. Chafee signed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2009, an amendment to the law that permits the Rhode Island Department of Health to register three compassion centers to grow and sell the drug for medicinal purposes. But before any compassion centers opened, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha sent a letter to Chafee, informing him that if the dispensaries began to operate, they would be in violation of federal law and could be subject to raids. At the federal level, marijuana is not legal under any circumstance. It is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no accepted medical use in the United States. Schedule II controlled substances have some accepted medical uses and can therefore be prescribed and distributed. Though marijuana is decriminalized for medical use in Rhode Island, situations could arise in which the federal government might feel compelled to act, said Christine Huntsinger, spokesperson for Chafee. The new legislation would allow the Rhode Island Department of Health to regulate aspects of the compassion centers that concern federal officials. The Department of Health would determine a limit on the amount of marijuana a compassion center could grow and store, as well as
Herald file photo
Governor Chafee supports a law to regulate medical marijuana sales.
the amount of cash kept on site. Profits generated by the privatelyrun dispensaries are a matter of unease among federal officials, Huntsinger said. The legislation would also attempt to prevent illegal marijuana sales by allowing caregivers and patients to sell their excess produce to compassion centers. Compassion centers are needed in Rhode Island because the vast majority of licensed medical marijuana users have to get their medicine illegally, Perry said. “We wanted to have a methodology available to these patients who have incredible pain and terrible symptoms associated with their diseases and medications,” she said. Their suffering is “definitely ameliorated as a function of being able to take their medication, which is medical marijuana,” she added. The legislation attempts to address concerns voiced by federal officials, but it seems unrealistic that they could be completely resolved, Perry said. “The federal government will do what they do and the state will do what it does,”
she said. The U.S. Attorney’s support for the Department of Justice’s policy on medical marijuana has not changed, according to a statement released by Neronha’s office. The office does not plan to evaluate or discuss the recently proposed legislation. In a step toward reconciling the discrepancy between federal and state law regarding medical marijuana, Chafee, along with Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, has petitioned the federal government to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II controlled substance, making it acceptable for medical use at the federal level. “The governor has been supportive of medical marijuana and understands that there is a population that needs it,” Huntsinger said. Taking a dual approach, Chafee has agreed to work with the legislature to alter legislation as well as to address the issue at the federal level so that drug policy adheres to the needs of Rhode Islanders.
Commissioner cuts insurance direct pay rates By Colby Richardson Contributing Writer
Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner Chris Koller ordered Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island to lower its direct pay rates by 1.1 percent in late February, a move that would affect about 14,000 Rhode Islanders. The commissioner issued his decision after deliberating on an earlier request by Blue Cross for a 2.4 percent rate increase, according to the official press release. Direct pay rates affect customers who purchase their own health
insurance. The rate change is an average across customer payments, since Blue Cross offers plans with higher patient cost-sharing. “They weren’t asking for profits,” Koller said, adding that Blue Cross’ original request for a rate increase was based on concerns about the economy. “Blue Cross put up some of their own numbers. I think we found that they were a little conservative in some of their medical expenses,” he said. The commission’s evaluation found that the company’s costs will probably not increase much over the coming year and may actually
decrease, he said. The Office of the Attorney General noted financial inefficiencies in the Blue Cross administration department, according to a commission press release. Despite the reduction, Blue Cross will not sustain significant losses. “In our estimation, the rates that we came up with are what Blue Cross needs to maintain an adequate profit,” Koller said. “So I think the effect on Blue Cross financially should be relatively minimal.” Blue Cross originally requested a 4.4 percent increase but volun-
tarily lowered it by two percentage points after negotiating a new pharmaceutical contract, according to a press release. “(Blue Cross) shares the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner’s concern for the vulnerability of the direct pay population, and we continue to look for ways to help moderate the cost of care without compromising quality,” wrote Kim Reingold, press contact for Blue Cross, in an email to The Herald. Blue Cross has decreased its administrative and overhead costs by over $30 million in recent years without affecting services, Reingold wrote.
Customers of the direct payment plan will have to be careful when deciding on new coverage options, Koller said. Since patients share the costs of Blue Cross plans, the rate decrease could raise co-payments of future Blue Cross plans. While some will benefit, others may see rate increases. “It’s important for customers to know that the products in general will involve a lot more cost-sharing, and they should be choosing very carefully,” Koller said. Blue Cross will not appeal the decision in superior court, Reingold said.