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daily herald the Brown

vol. cxxii, no. 105

INSIDE

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Classes click

Poll finds students in support of online courses

wednesday, november 14, 2012

since 1891

compared to 60.2 percent this year. But students polled last year were not asked about whether they committed unauthorized collaboration. The percentage of students who collaborated on work without permission — 17.7 percent — accounts for nearly all of the difference between the two years’ results. Spencer Caplan ’15 said he was surprised the proportion of students who said they had illicitly collaborated was not higher. “I don’t think a lot of people outright cheat,” he said, “but I think a lot of people collaborate.” Unauthorized collaboration recently drew national attention after 125 Harvard students were investigated for inappropriately working together on a take-home exam. Such collaboration may not necessarily involve direct copying, but could refer / / Cheat page 2 to discussing

Mie morikubo / herald

Poll: Majority of students do not cheat By Sam Heft-Luthy Contributing Writer

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Out on a limb Prof explains new methods for evaluating prostheses

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Ballin’ Men’s soccer earns bid to NCAA Division 1 tournament today

tomorrow

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Almost 40 percent of students reported committing some form of academic dishonesty since coming to Brown, according to The Herald’s biannual poll, conducted last month. About 20 percent of students admitted to copying an assignment or parts of an assignment from a friend while at Brown, 5.6 percent admitted to copying an assignment or parts of an assignment from a published source, 6.4 percent admitted to using notes for a take-home test or assignment when instructed not to, 4.3 percent admitted to cheating on an in-class test and 17.7 percent admitted to collaborating on an assignment when instructed not to. About 80 percent of students polled last year reported committing no forms of academic dishonesty,

SexPowerGod initiatives place event ‘in good hands’ New fitness By Maxine Joselow Contributing Writer

SexPowerGod went smoothly this year due to new planning initiatives, with fewer students than last year requiring Emergency Medical Services. Nine students were transported by EMS for alcohol intoxication this year, compared to 13 last year, wrote Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, in an email to The Herald. Though the number of students who needed EMS decreased from last year, it was still higher than in past years. Only five students needed EMS in 2009 and 2010, Klawunn wrote. The decrease from last year accom-

panied several new planning initiatives by event coordinators. This year marked the first time the Queer Alliance dance committee made students sign the event’s rules while waiting in line for tickets, said Kelly Garrett, coordinator of the LGBTQ Center. The rules — which did not change from last year — forbade bags, cameras, phones and recording devices, emphasized consent and prohibited “explicit sexual activity.” The reason behind having students sign the rules was to ensure that people actually read them, said Pom Bunsermvicha ’16, who was in charge of publicity for SPG. “When students sign them, they make more of a commitment to following them,” she added.

Students told The Herald they were earnest about reading and signing the rules. “I read the rules … because I wanted to know what I was getting into,” said Sarah Dominguez ’14. “Besides, they were short,” she added. “I read all of the rules before going, and I took them seriously,” said Ian Garrity ’16, who took pictures for and created the SPG posters. Event planners also made sure party managers received more training this year, Garrett said. “In the past, party managers would say, ‘How do I know if something’s consensual or not?’ so we explained consent at a meeting and made the party managers’ roles and responsibilities clear,” she said.

This year students supervising the event were move active in enforcement, said Elisa Glubok ’14, who attended SPG this year and two years ago. The number of Campus Life staff members assessing students’ intoxication also increased from two to three this year, Garrett said, adding that this decision was not in response to a particular incident. “The process for checking students in line was to walk up the line. I tried to make eye contact with students and speak with them,” wrote Timothy Shiner, director of Student Activities, in an email to The Herald. The staff asked students who were “stumbling, slurring or unable to focus” to leave the line with a friend, / / SPG page 2

150 letters later, bioethics prof still offers wit and wisdom By sam heft-luthy contributing writer

Opening the door to Professor of Philosophy Felicia Nimue Ackerman’s office is like opening a portal to another world. It’s hard to see the books on the shelves behind the various objects decorating the walls: an eclectic assortment of Day of the Dead figurines, Indian paper banners and various trinkets. Since the late 1980s, Ackerman has had a prolific hobby — writing an astonishing number of letters to the editor of the New York Times. Ackerman estimated that she has had more than 150 letters published in the Times and several dozen in multiple other publications, though she said she doesn’t keep an exact count. “Academia is status-conscious, and I’m trying to avoid that in other areas of my life,” she said. The majority of the five letters per week she generally submits go unpublished, she said. She writes about topics that range from her philosophical specialization —

feature

courtesy of felicia ackerman

Prolific letter writer Felicia Ackerman told The Herald she would prefer to print a photograph of her cat, Palomides, instead of one of herself.

bioethics — to whatever controversies spark her interest, from book reviews to college admissions and even gerbils. Her writing style is punchy and succinct, often tinged with snark — just like her real life persona. “I don’t use a lot of verbal pyrotechnics because I don’t have the talent,” she said. Ackerman wore a brightly colored vest and floppy-brimmed hat as she sat looking up from behind the stacks of books on her desk. “I used to indulge myself with food, but now I indulge myself with clothes,” she said. “Food was more fun, but I think the quantity of life is more important than the quality.” Now her frame is short and slender, though she used to be “fat” — not “overweight,” she insisted. Ackerman incorporates such personal experiences in her letters. “As a former fat person who thinks that her weight is her own business, I hope that New Yorkers who want big sugary drinks and who share my distaste for the nanny state will respond to the ban by buying and drinking sev/ / Letter page 5 eral small sug-

center overcomes challenges By jasmine bala contributing writer

When the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center opened its doors in April, some faculty and staff members expressed frustration at a gym fee of $20 that accompanied the new facility. Though several faculty and staff members told The Herald they might not use the gym due to the fee, the number of memberships has not declined this semester, said Allyson Caudell, fitness and recreation coordinator. “The fitness center has been super popular for all interested fitness-goers,” said Matthew Tsimikas, assistant athletic director of the athletics department. Brown and Rhode Island School of Design students with a valid ID have free access to the gym and pool facilities, and the gym offers discounted rates for alums and staff. Sports teams have found the space particularly useful, many athletes said. “The swimming pool is really big, and the heating systems work wonderfully,” said Edward Zhao ’16, a member of the men’s swimming team. All nine divisions of the Department of Facilities Management have been working on maintaining the pool and the gym, Tsimikas said, adding that the facility is mostly still under warranty. “It takes a village to keep the operation smooth for the end user,” he said. The gym has faced other challenges since its inauguration. It has been difficult adjusting to a wide range of fitness equipment, Caudell / / Fitness page 4 said, and the


2 science & research

Film discusses downsides to volunteerism

c alendar Today

Nov. 14

5 P.m.

ToMORROW

NOV. 15

12 p.m. Brown Bag Concert Series

Sidney E. Frank Hall

Sayles Hall Auditorium 4 p.m.

“Africa in Theory”

UTRA info session

Pembroke Hall, 305

Salomon Center, 001

menu SHARPE REFECTORY

VERNEy-WOOLLEY DINING HALL

LUNCH Popcorn Chicken with Dipping Sauce, Celery and Carrot Sticks with Creamy Caesar, Oreo Chocolate Chip Bar

Vegetarian Cream of Broccoli Soup, Vegetarian Spinach Streusel, Steak Fries, Oreo Chocolate Chip Bar

DINNER Grilled Citrus Herb Chicken, Pesto with Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Pizza, Sweet Potato Fries

By Corrine Sejourne Contributing Writer

Art of Science Biomed Exhibit 5:30 P.M.

the brown daily herald wednesday, november 14, 2012

Pastito, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Baby Mesclun with Honey Dijon, Chopped Sirloin with Mushroom Sauce

Sudoku

“A Part of the World,” a short documentary released online today, uses the story of Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine Lisa Denny’s medical aid efforts in Haiti to explore the moral question of how volunteers can help without causing harm. The film traces Denny’s path to working in Haiti. She first engaged with the Creole language during a summer job in a Boston hospital. The medical know-how and language skills she developed enabled her to treat Haitian patients and to listen to their stories. The film focuses on the struggle between helping and harming in volunteerism. While Denny acknowledges in the film that volunteering can feel like “very pure giving,” its effects are not all positive. The free goods and services volunteers provide to impoverished countries like Haiti can damage their fragile economies, taking away from jobs, stores and exports. Denny’s voice comes together with those of other vol-

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general ideas and how to respond to assignments. “The definition of collaboration has become increasingly nebulous and the difference between acceptable and unacceptable collaboration even more so,” read an editorial published in the Harvard Crimson in response to the scandal. “Take home exams in particular have become uncomfortable gray areas in which both spheres often overlap.” Many students said what is an acceptable form of collaboration is often undefined, and when professors fail to clarify what is allowed, the line can blur even more. “It seems like an easy thing to do,” said Emily Fuller ’14.5, who recently transferred from American University. Fuller said she saw more rampant academic dishonesty at American University than in her time at Brown so far. “Obviously, it depends on the assignment.” “I don’t think it’s necessarily inherently wrong,” Caplan said. “I think it’s more nuanced. I think it’s on the same level as going to TA hours and asking how to approach a problem.”

/ / SPG page 1 get something to eat and come back when they were sober, Shiner wrote. Students who were heavily intoxicated

unteers and a Haitian doctor as they struggle with a crucial question in volunteer work: “Is it possible to truly give altruistically?” It was after her first trip to Haiti that Denny said she started to recognize the irony in relief. “I was receiving all this positive reinforcement from friends and mentors, but I felt so ineffective,” she told The Herald. She added that volunteering tends to be perceived as a truly wonderful thing, but said it is necessary to recognize the limits of volunteering. When the filmmakers started production on the film, they originally intended to raise awareness about the aftermath of the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake, Denny said. But the film’s focus ultimately became more about this intrinsic issue with volunteerism, she said. The film will ideally make people think about how they can face this unresolved challenge, she added, noting that for both the film and the issue itself, there is “not a clean wrap up.” Denny said she plans to continue

her service work in Haiti and to seek new ways to benefit its people. “It can be easy to get wrapped up in the little things, and it gets hard to take a step back,” she said, adding that she hopes to integrate values and appreciation of social justice into her everyday life, especially for her three children. The volunteers in the film similarly express the importance of appreciation, suggesting they received more from the Haitians’ determined gratitude and persistence than they could offer in return. In the film, Denny notes the significance of patients’ personal narratives. “Having one’s stories told is therapeutic — once you share your suffering, it decreases a little bit,” she told The Herald. “It was pretty powerful for the people to have this person, this American doctor, actually sit there to listen to and care about their problems. I’m hoping that having the film crew there and having an opportunity for the whole world to witness their suffering will be therapeutic on an even bigger scale.”

Caplan is double concentrating in linguistics and computer science. The computer science department accounts for a disproportionate number of reported academic violations on campus, The Herald has previously reported. This is mostly because computer science departments have better technology to catch cheaters, professors said, but some also theorized the discrepancy is at least partly because professors are very explicit about what type of collaboration is unacceptable. “Every CS department has policies that make it clear from day one that you’re not going to learn unless you do it yourself,” said Alex Aiken, a Stanford University professor who developed the predominant software used to detect plagiarism in computer science classes. “CS classes generally have a very clear policy from the start about what’s acceptable behavior.” “I have heard it expressed that some students in the humanities don’t get this right away and that there’s more reluctance to bring cases forward” to disciplinary committees, Aiken said. Faculty members might instead choose “to bring it to the student and say, ‘this is something that you shouldn’t do.’”

“I don’t think it affects the validity of the grades” when students collaborate on homework assignments, Caplan said. “The homeworks are a small percentage of your grades. It’s a bigger deal that you learn the material.” “Collaboration is good, and collaboration is problematic,” said Professor of Computer Science Shriram Krishnamurthi, who teaches CSCI 0190: “Accelerated Introduction to Computer Science.” Despite the benefits healthy collaboration can provide, Krishnamurthi said, it can be confusing for students to understand the balance between when collaboration is positive and when working together can actually hamper students’ learning processes.

were taken to the EMS station inside for further monitoring, he wrote. The EMS station consisted of a curtained-off area where EMS staff assessed students’ intoxication, Garrett said.

Students said the visible presence of Campus Life staff and other personnel at SPG gave them a sense of security. “I did feel safe. It felt like there were a lot of chaperones standing around. There were a lot of DPS and party managers,” Dominguez said. “I definitely felt taken care of,” Garrity said. “I felt safe being there, and I felt like the party was in good hands.”

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Methodology Written questionnaires were administered to 959 undergraduates October 17-18 in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson and the Stephen Robert ‘62 Campus Center during the day and the Sciences Library at night. The poll has a 2.9 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. Find results of previous polls at thebdh.org/poll.

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the brown daily herald wednesday, november 14, 2012

campus news 3

Poll: Student majority supports U. online course offerings By Mathias Heller Senior Staff Writer

About 60 percent of students support the University offering some form of online course option open to the general public or students, according to a poll conducted by The Herald last month. Only 9.3 percent polled said the University should not offer any type of online course. The University announced in September that it would partner with Coursera, a company that works with schools to set up free online not-forcredit courses to the public. Brown will offer three pilot online courses to the public starting next June. Coursera was launched in June 2012 by two Stanford University faculty members. Since then, 33 university participants have teamed with the company to offer free not-for-credit courses to thousands of students around the globe, according to the Coursera website. Many of the University’s peer institutions — including Princeton, Stanford and Penn — have already joined Coursera, while Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have begun using a competing platform named edX. But while some universities have begun to embrace massive open online courses, or MOOCs, many students said they did not know much about the rise in online education. About 19 percent of students polled said they were not familiar enough with online courses to offer an opinion, while 10.8 percent said they had no opinion on the subject. Still, a majority of students indicated they were open to at least some form of online course being offered by the University. “I think offering online courses is a good idea to broaden the way Brown interacts with the community,” said Alexandra Thomsen ’16, who added that she supports the University’s decision to offer three courses via Coursera to the international community. “It’s a different experience, but for people who can’t go to classes in person, it’s a good alternative.” Many students voiced support for the principle of free online education, saying MOOCs make a positive impact on higher education by expanding opportunities to take courses from some of the world’s best instructors. “I think that the more impact Brown has on the outside community, the better it is for Brown students and for the outside community,” said Anna Ressel ’16. “I don’t view them as cheapening our experience here,” said John Connuck ’14, who added that MOOCs were an effective way for the University to expand its educational reach. Opening online The University’s decision to offer online courses to the general public resulted from the Ad Hoc Committee on Online Education’s June report, which highlighted the potential of online courses to revolutionize higher education. Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 decided to adopt the committee’s recommendation to partner with Coursera, The Herald reported in September. Richard Lee Colvin, a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and an expert on higher education, linked the creation of

Coursera and competitor companies to rising demand among universities for a digital platform to accommodate the expansion of online course offerings. “There’s no doubt whatsoever that the number of courses that are offered this way will increase,” Colvin said, adding that MOOCs offered a way to experiment with different business models. “What distinguishes a place like Brown from others is that they don’t have to do this to attract students,” Colvin said. Professor of Comparative Literature Arnold Weinstein, who said administrators approached him in August about teaching his “Fiction of Relationship” course as part of the new partnership with Coursera, stressed that universities are still learning how to work with MOOCs. “Everybody knows, including the people at Coursera, that this is still in the initial stages,” Weinstein said. Susan Alcock, director of the Joukowsky Institute for Archeology and the Ancient World, will also teach an online course entitled “Archeology’s Dirty Little Secrets,” while Professor of Computer Science Philip Klein will teach “Coding the Matrix.” “I see this as an opportunity for elite institutions to pay something back to society and to spread around their goodies,” Weinstein said, adding that MOOCs serve as a solution to the problem of higher education becoming increasingly unaffordable for many Americans. But online course instructors face the problem of how to effectively evaluate students’ performance. “It’s the black hole of the program in my opinion,” Weinstein said. “I think Brown is going into this with a very experimental approach.” He said he hopes to develop clear guidelines on assignments for his course while encouraging the creation of an effective peer teaching evaluation system. Alcock said she was engaged in ongoing discussions about how to evaluate students. “It will be complicated to put together,” Alcock said. “I think it’s going to vary from discipline to discipline.” Each of the three faculty members who will teach online courses is teaching one fewer in-person class this year in order to set aside time for preparing the MOOCs. To compensate for the labor intensiveness of these courses, Schlissel previously told The Herald his office would provide each affected department with additional funding. Alcock said the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Dean of the College had both been helpful with Coursera preparations. Professor of Computer Science John Savage said the University’s partnership with Coursera would provide Brown with feedback on efficacy of online education. “It’s worth conducting an experiment to evaluate the online aspect of teaching,” Savage said, adding that one key to the success of the online venture will be figuring out how to tailor the course to fit the interests of the worldwide audience. The online education committee’s June report also noted the potential for MOOCs to enhance the University’s brand on a global scale. “I think that for places like Brown, Stanford and MIT that have a strong brand name, it’s an extension of the brand name globally,” Colvin said. “That’s why they’re doing it.”

carlie Peters / Herald

John Tyler, who teaches EDUC 1130: “Economics of Education I,” said there are different models for online courses and that universities are still working on figuring out what works best. When the University puts information online in its MOOCs, students around the world will inevitably compare the quality of Brown courses with the vast array of other online course options they have, he said. Tradeoffs Some students said they feel the University is less concerned with expanding educational access than with keeping up with peer institutions. “I think (MOOCs) are great but I think the University’s just trying to keep up with the Joneses,” said Alex Leblang ’14, linking the University’s partnership with Coursera to a desire not to be left behind by Stanford and MIT. “The whole (point) of being in the class is going to the classroom and engaging people,” Leblang said, adding that the University’s move to a digital platform was a break with this traditional model. “They’re basically just admitting the entire university experience is a sham.” Sean Needle ’14 said he believed the University’s planning process for introducing online courses needed to focus more on developing a unique approach to MOOCs. “I feel like they need to spend a little more time planning them instead of copying other universities,” Needle said. “They should spend more time planning something more unique.” But some higher education policy analysts argue that online courses in fact provide interaction among students by facilitating team projects that can be completed on digital platforms. “There’s a tremendous amount of interaction that goes on,” said Lucie Lapovsky, principal for Lapovsky Consulting and former president of Mercy College, a multi-campus institution in New York. “Many schools are participating because they want to gain a great deal of data about how students learn.” Lapovsky said the ability for Coursera’s offerings to reach thousands of students worldwide can enhance the opportunity for cross-global engagement. She added that as higher education becomes increasingly globalized, online courses will become more attractive for universities as a way to offer greater flexibility to students who seek

to study abroad or leave campus. The tradeoff between a classroom setting and a digital platform for a course depends on the model of delivery, Tyler said. For instance, a large, introductory lecture course would work better online than a course that derived most of its benefit from seminar-style discussions with an engaging faculty member, he said. Courses for credit The University will also offer online introductory courses to Brown undergraduates for credit beginning next summer. This will mark the first time the University grants credit to non-transfer students for courses taken solely through a digital platform. While many students supported offering more for-credit courses during the summer, others said they believed allowing students to take online forcredit courses during the school year would not be a wise decision. “It almost wouldn’t represent Brown because it wouldn’t be like the experience of being here,” said Anson Rosenthal ’15, adding that he took an online course over the summer at another school and felt the class was “just a skeleton” of the classroom experience. Shivang Desai ’14 said the University should offer free for-credit summer courses for Brown students because current prices for summer courses are too high. He added that he felt online courses were supplementary to his education and should not replace the traditional classroom model. Anthony Pellegrino ’14 said he supported the move to free online education for the general public but did not believe the University should offer for-credit courses to Brown students during the school year. “I think it could make sense over the summer for Brown students. … But during the school year, I don’t think it makes sense because you have all the resources here to do in-person classes,” Pellegrino said. Elite universities have the rare ability to offer courses for free to the general public, Lupovsky said, adding that most still do not offer a large number of online courses at this point. Many students said the University could simultaneously improve its brand name while also advancing the altruistic goal of expanding educational opportunity. “People already think of a private university as being really exclusive and closed-off to the general

public, and I think this sort of thing helps shed them in a better light,” said Ingrid Chen ’15. In a first for the University, one class this semester — CSCI 1730: “Programming Languages” — already has an online version that is open to the general public. Professor of Computer Science Shriram Krishnamurthi still teaches the class in-person to Brown students, and about 1,600 students outside of the University have enrolled in his course’s free online version, The Herald reported in September. Several students enrolled in the course said that though they are taking the course in the classroom, they have benefitted from Krishnamurthi’s decision to open the course to the general public. “I think it’s really cool because the online forum generates different viewpoints, especially from people who are working professionals,” said Danny Schneider ’14, a student in the class. Schneider added that though he believes more Brown computer science courses could replicate this model, the University should be careful to keep the teaching focus on its own undergraduates. “One thing that I would hope that they make sure of is that it doesn’t interfere with the teaching of Brown students,” he said. Andrew Kovacs ’14, another CSCI 1730 student, said the integration of the general public into the course had not negatively affected his own learning experience. But he cautioned that keeping the public engaged, especially when more challenging assignments arose, was a key problem for online courses. Many of the students from outside the University who had been enrolled in CSCI 1730 dropped out once tougher assignments came out, Kovacs said. “We should make information more public and interact with the outer world,” Kovacs said, “but I think there’s a lot of value to the classroom experience.” Methodology Written questionnaires were administered to 959 undergraduates October 17-18 in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center during the day and the Sciences Library at night. The poll has a 2.9 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. Find results of previous polls at thebdh.org/poll.


4 science & research Prof develops prosthetic assessment tool By Chad Simon Contributing Writer

For upper limb amputees, adjusting to a new prosthetic arm can be difficult. While getting physically comfortable with new prosthetics is its own challenge, another difficulty is being able to objectively measure improvement over time. In a study published last month in the journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Associate Research Professor in Public Health Linda Resnik and her colleagues describe a new metric to measure functional activities for adults with upper limb amputations. Resnik’s group makes up one of the core initiatives at the Veteran Affairs Center of Excellence for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology, which opened last month and is a collaboration between the University and several medical centers. The assessment tool allows clinicians to grade a patient’s performance on everyday tasks, such as zipping a zipper or using silverware to cut food — “things that you need to do to take care of yourself and perform basic household functions,” Resnik said. “There aren’t any measurement tools like this,” Resnik said. Previously, generic self-report measures for persons with upper limb involvement problems such as stroke or arthritis were available, but there were no performance-based measures developed particularly for prosthetic users. The numerous catastrophic injuries from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars developed the need to optimize the prosthetic upper limb devices, Resnik and her team wrote in the study. “In the field of amputation care and research, there hasn’t been a lot of work with upper limb amputees,” Resnik said.

the brown daily herald wednesday, november 14, 2012

Science & resear ch r oundup

by Sahil Luthr a science & Resear ch Editor

Sperm size may predict swimming ability

COurtesy of Linda REsnik

Professor Linda Resnik’s assessment markers include the ability to complete every day tasks like zipping a zipper or handling silverware. Only 3 percent of amputees suffer from upper-limb amputations, according to the study. But in the case of soldier amputees, 22 percent suffer from upperlimb amputations, Resnik said. “This was really calling the need to improve care for this group of people. There was a need recognized to serve the service members by advancing prosthetic technology,” she said, adding that current prosthetic devices are not as well developed. After the metric was developed, patients were tested with it during VA studies of the DEKA Arm, a state-ofthe-art prosthetic device. The arm uses a “strap-and-go” method that allows the amputee to use the device without undergoing invasive medical procedures. The DEKA Arm allows for 10 powered degrees of freedom, compared to current commercial devices that only offer four. One distinctive facet of the DEKA Arm is its integration of foot control by the user that dictates the mechanistic movement of the prosthetic. With such new technology comes the need to teach rehabilitators how the

DEKA Arm functions and how to apply this knowledge to treating patients. “What we’re doing now is writing up the results for the optimization technology,” Resnik said. She and her associates are now working on a home study in which users take the DEKA Arm home for three months after they have been trained with operating the device for one to two months. “This study will really tell us a lot on the effectiveness of the device,” Resnik said. Because of the niche demand for such advanced technology, costs for these prosthetics are often prohibitive for amputees, according to the study. An above-the-elbow prosthetic can range anywhere from $7,000 to $100,000, depending on the sophistication of the device. A lifetime of prosthetic care for a bilateral upper limb amputee is estimated to cost a total of $1,992,782. Resnik said she hopes prosthetics will become more affordable for amputees generally. Though the VA and Department of Defense cover all the costs for veteran amputees, costs can be a prohibitive factor for non-veterans, Resnik said.

Penis size may not matter for reproductive success, but sperm size may make all the difference, according to a study published last month in the journal Human Reproduction. The research team, led by University postdoctoral researcher Jim Mossman during his doctoral studies at the University of Sheffield, examined how sperm length relates to swimming ability, according to a University press release. Though most sperm research has focused on the head of the sperm, Mossman studied the entire sperm — head, midpiece and flagellum. He found that factors such as flagellum length, full sperm length and flagellum-to-head ratios can be good predictors of how well a sperm can swim, the release said. The researchers also found that men who produced sperm varying greatly in length tended to produce worse swimmers than men producing more consistently-sized sperm. Mossman added that he is interested in examining the environmental and genetic factors that might determine a man’s ability to manufacture sperm of consistent length.

Eye protection reduces lacrosse injuries States that mandate protective eyewear for high school women’s lacrosse players had significantly fewer eye injuries than did states without such a mandate, according to a study that will be published in the journal Pediatrics next month. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Peter Kriz served as the principal investigator on the study, which also found that many types of eye injury nearly disappeared during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 lacrosse seasons in states that required eye protection, according to a press release. “We now have a large, national study that provides evidence that protective eyewear is indeed effective in reducing head and facial injuries, including eye and orbital injuries, which validates the decisions of rules committees such as the (National Federation of State High School Associations) to mandate protective eyewear use in high school field hockey and other sports,” Kriz said in the press release. States with a mandate also saw fewer injuries that took more than 10 days to recover from than did states without such a rule, though the study found that the lacrosse games were no less aggressive, as both groups saw the same number of concussions. The research was a collaboration between Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Nanomaterials hold potential for skin repair

The University entered an agreement with Parios Regenerative Sciences, Inc. earlier this month to license the rights to the skin repair technology Oderm, developed by former Associate Professor of Engineering Thomas Webster. Webster recently joined Northeastern University’s faculty as the head of the chemical engineering department. Oderm relies on the production of structures resembling collagen, a key component of connective tissue found in skin. Development of the technology could have clinical impacts for skin repair after injury, according to a press release. The assembly process is guided by nanomaterials, which could make the technology more successful than current processes involving larger materials. “Cells recognize nanomaterials as more friendly,” Webster told Northeastern last month. “More like the tissues that they themselves created.”

/ / Fitness page 1 athletics department anticipates some potential issues when it faces winter weather. “Our new facility has yet to be tested through all four of New England’s seasons,” Tsimikas said. “We

are embarking on the most difficult winter months that face new weather challenges for the structure itself and the internal aspects of mechanical and custodial requirements.” But, he added, “Everyone is committed to assure the best experience possible for all.”

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sports wednesday 5

the brown daily herald wednesday, november 14, 2012

/ / Letter page 1 ary drinks instead,” Ackerman wrote in response to a May article about the New York City ban on large sugary beverages. Her letter writing hobby started when she read a Newsweek article about a retirement home that taught elderly people poetry. Ackerman thought the poetry that the patients were writing was awful and wrote a letter to the editor criticizing the program. “I said I didn’t want to be patronized when I’m old,” Ackerman said. Leela Senthil Nathan ’14, who took PHIL 1400: “Ethics in the Novel” with Ackerman last fall, said she isn’t surprised that the professor would take on such a hobby. “She always got involved in discussions,” Senthil Nathan said. “She always enjoyed engaging people, especially with people who disagreed with her opinion. She enjoyed seeing that debate through.” The most common topic in Ackerman’s letters comes from her philosophical focus: the ethics of end-of-life issues facing elderly people and their families. “I’m very concerned about the pressure on old people to bow out gracefully,” Ackerman said. “I think it’s just as important for a 95 year old to live to be 96 as for a 5 year old to live to be 6. I think death stinks, and I hope to avoid it as long as possible.” In a 2009 Times article about using scientific methods to decrease the effects of aging, Ackerman wrote, “As a 62

/ / Quidditch page 8 post with tubes of PVC pipe between their legs. Now, thanks to an anonymous donation, the Ashwinders have brooms: “Competition Sweeps.” A product of Alivan’s — an online store inspired by Ollivander’s shop in the J.K. Rowling books— these ash brooms with an ebony finish are the official brooms of choice in all major Quidditch competitions. White and black headbands indicate chasers and beaters, respectively. With such a small team, these headbands are in constant motion as players swap positions to facilitate drills and scrimmages. Three members on the team are dedicated swap players, while the remaining members have begun to specialize in their respective positions. Arriaga — a dedicated chaser who stands nearly a

-year-old and the daughter of a 97-yearold, I was delighted to read ‘Quest for a Long, Long Life Gains Scientific Respect’ (Sept. 29). As a bioethicist, however, I am unhappily aware that many of my fellow bioethicists don’t want people to live ‘too long.’ Of course, if such smallmindedness had prevailed around the turn of the 19th century, when America’s life expectancy was under 50, many of those bioethicists would not be around today to cast aspersions on people who value their lives enough to want to extend them.” Other letters respond not only to content of articles, but also letters by other people. “As a middle-aged literary nonentity who occasionally writes book reviews, I was taken aback by the Pulitzer Prizewinner Franz Wright’s remark, ‘I cannot bring myself to believe that I am the only serious follower of contemporary poetry who is getting sick of reading reviews by young literary nonentities posing as Randall Jarrell’ (Letters, Oct. 8),” Ackerman wrote in a letter published in 2006. “I cannot bring myself to believe that I am the only serious reader of book reviews who cringes when an established writer is snobbish and meanspirited enough to sneer at the obscure for being obscure.” In addition to her letter writing career, Ackerman pens a monthly oped column for the Providence Journal. Her most recent piece, “A few thoughts from The Elbow,” tells of her satisfaction

with the medical care she received for a broken elbow. “For the rest of my hospital stay, I remained The Elbow, a broken mechanism in need of repair,” she writes. “The staff patched me up, checked my overall physical functioning and supplied pain medication — as if repairing an engine, checking its overall functioning and supplying lubrication. No one asked if I was unhappy or frightened.” Ackerman said she would trade the idle pleasantries of bedside manner for a less crowded waiting room and more efficient care any day. “That’s exactly how I wanted to be seen,” she said, flexing her arm. “And my elbow works perfectly now.” Though she describes herself as liberal — on her door is a large ACLU sticker and a button bearing a clever slogan opposing the George W. Bush’s presidency — Ackerman said she opposes those who believe it is the government’s prerogative to tell individuals what personal decisions they should make. “There’s a reason why they call it ‘paternalism,’” Ackerman said. “It’s acceptable for parents.” Ackerman hesitated when asked if she has any advice for students who want to share their opinions with the world. “The fact that you get some letters turned down doesn’t mean that you won’t get others published,” she said. She credits her own success to persistence, adding that she is loath to tell other people how to live their lives.

full head above all his fellow players — stands out as a dominant force. “Tackling (him) is a challenge,” Blum said.

field hugging players in the midst of a game. “The snitch is the showman of Quidditch,” said Blum, who plays seeker. “The snitch’s job is to exploit the fact that we have to carry a broom between our legs, and they don’t.” During the team’s first match against Clark University, Blum spotted a figure dressed entirely in yellow roaming around the park. He sprinted after it, only to realize moments later that he had been chasing a fisherman in a yellow jumpsuit. “Yellow’s supposed to be the color that not many people wear,” Blum said. These oddities of the game do not impair the players’ concentration. “While we’re playing, we’re all in the zone, but we’ve all had those moments before or after games where we sit back and realize, ‘we’re playing Quidditch,’” Blum said with a smile. “It’s amazing to think this is something we can do.”

30 points to the Ashwinders The star of the show is the snitch runner. A sprinter clad entirely in yellow, the runner has a tennis ball in a sock attached to his or her shorts. After entering the game about 15 minutes in, snitch runners do almost anything to avoid losing their tennis ball. The only rules restricting snitch runners concern what they cannot do, with the assumption that anything not mentioned is fair game. In their first season alone, the Ashwinders have encountered tree-climbing, bicycle-riding and water balloon-throwing snitches. Some of the best snitches know wrestling throws that slow down the seekers, but the Ashwinders were just as easily handicapped by one snitch who scampered around the

comics Join the Club | Simon Henriques

Fly by Night | Adam Kopp

M. Soccer

At-large bid paves way to Division I tourney By Alexandra Conway Sports Staff WRiter

The No. 11 men’s soccer team learned Monday that it earned an at-large bid in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament. The team will travel to Philadelphia this Thursday to face Drexel University in the first round of the tournament. “The draw was nerve-wracking since we were the last game announced, but everyone is excited for the opportunity to continue this season,” said co-captain Eric Robertson ’13. “Since it’s at home it could be said that they are the favorites, but the team is feeling great mentally and physically, and we are focused and excited for Thursday’s game,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. Though the Bears suffered a heartbreaking loss against Dartmouth last Friday in their final game of the regular season — ending their 12-game unbeaten streak — they proved all year long that they are a competitive nationally ranked team. The Bears concluded the regular season with an impressive 12-2-3 record and 4-1-2 record in the Ivy League to place third. Bruno has experience on the national scene, but Drexel, which ended its regular season with a 12-3-3 record, will give the Bears a challenge. “They are a good team and are the favorites,” said Voltaire Escalona ’14. “We are embracing the role as underdogs and are determined and focused on ending Drexel’s season Thursday night. … We are going for glory.” Thursday’s game marks Drexel’s first appearance in the tournament since 1972. The team earned its at-large bid as a result of winning the Colonial Athletic Association Championship 2-0 over James Madison University. The Dragons boast a strong backline,

and senior goalkeeper Tim Washam is ranked 13th in the nation for fewest goals allowed per game. They also have an aggressive offense led by Nathan Page, Fabio Machado and Ken Tribbett. “Going down to Drexel won’t be easy, but our schedule so far has prepared us well,” said goalie Sam Kernan-Schloss ’13. “Our team has come together and we believe that we can beat anybody right now.” The Bears will look to their resilient defense, anchored by co-captains Ryan McDuff ’13 and Robertson, as well as Dylan Remick ’13 and Alex Markes ’15, to continue doing what they have done well all season. The defense has allowed just 10 goals this year, and goalie Kernan-Schloss ranks first in the conference and third in the country in goals against average. Bruno’s offense has come out firing in its most recent games, led by forward Ben Maurey ’15 who has scored four goals in the last five games. The team will also look to Bobby Belair ’13, Thomas McNamara ’12.5, Escalona and rookie Tim Whalen ’16 to help lead at the forefront. This will be the Bears’ 27th appearance in the NCAA tournament and marks their seventh trip in the past eight years. Last season, Bruno defeated both Fairfield and St. John’s in the first two rounds to advance to the NCAA’s Sweet 16 for the second straight year, where they were edged in overtime by St. Mary’s 3-2 in a thrilling home game. “We are definitely feeling confident about this season’s NCAA tournament draw,” Kernan-Schloss said. “The tournament is a brand new slate and a brand new season, so we are excited to make a run.” Whichever team comes out on top in Thursday’s game will earn a date with No. 2 seed and ACC Champion Maryland (17-1-2) Nov. 18. “Thursday should be a good game, but we expect to come out on top and make a run for the title,” Robertson said.


6 editorial & letters Editorial

responses to Hudson ‘14

Let’s get fiscal

More than a week has passed since the re-election of President Obama. We are happy to breathe a collective sigh of relief, especially as we are no longer subjected daily to the storm of campaign advertisements, political rants from our Facebook friends and cringeworthy election-themed parties. But the president and the nation inevitably face a steep uphill climb back into economic prosperity. Let’s pick up the leftover confetti and make our last jokes about Big Bird — a new and potentially fiercer battle is on the horizon. It’s called the fiscal cliff. By the time January rolls around, it is guaranteed that we will be sick of hearing about this neologism. But the fiscal cliff is an important concept that essentially amounts to a ticking time bomb for the national economy. If the president and Congress do not strike out a deal by the end of this year, there could be dire consequences. Without action, it will play out like this: On Dec. 31, granted we haven’t already perished from the Mayan apocalypse, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire. This will inevitably place an additional tax burden on everyone, from the top 1 percent to blue-collar workers. According to Forbes, it is estimated that the average household will pay $3,000 more in taxes annually. Payroll taxes will also increase by 2 percent. But this is just half of the monster known as the fiscal cliff. In accordance with the August 2011 deal Democrats and Republicans struck to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt, deep budget cuts will go into effect Jan. 1 , including a $55 billion cut to the Department of Defense. This combination of tax increases and budget cuts, slated to happen in a two-day span, could put a stain on the president’s second term even before Inauguration Day. So why are Americans concerned about whether Congress and the president can work out a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff? After all, the fiscal cliff, in theory, could very well reduce our astonishingly high national debt. Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman assures us that “the fiscal cliff is not really a cliff.” Some have even suggested calling it an “austerity bomb,” since the ensuing fiscal tightening is predicted to hurt economic activity. The Congressional Budget Office reports that a recession is very likely to occur in the first months of 2013, increasing unemployment to 9.1 percent. While Krugman and his colleagues are probably correct in claiming the fiscal cliff would not destroy the American economy, they underestimate the scary power of the social perception of economic harm. Additionally, many American and foreign investors could suffer greatly from the effects of the fiscal cliff. Only one day after Obama’s re-election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted to its lowest level of the year, followed by losses in NASDAQ and Standard & Poor’s, two of the world’s largest benchmarks of equity performance. This attests to the general, though perhaps premature, fear that investment, a driving force in any economy, could be hurt by the prospect of the fiscal cliff. Significant questions remain regarding the best deal that could satisfy the Republican-controlled House and President Obama. This is where politics come into play. Republicans favor cuts to entitlement programs like — you guessed it — Obamacare. Obviously, this won’t fly with the president, who has advocated an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all except the rich. But Republicans have opposed tax hikes, even for the very wealthy. Can the two sides arrive at a “grand bargain” that will satisfy both the legislative and executive branches? For the sake of the American people and their economy, they must. Even before Obama prepares for his second inauguration address, he should work to make sure his second term isn’t marred by a preventable recession. Avoiding the fiscal cliff is the only way to do this. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Daniel Jeon and Annika Lichtenbaum, and its members, Georgia Angell, Sam Choi and Rachel Occhiogrosso. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.

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the brown daily herald wednesday, november 14, 2012

Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor

Oliver Hudson ’14 claims that those who do not pay taxes are not contributing to society and that it is therefore immoral for them to vote. But think about who these people are — they are often working menial hard labor jobs that literally build and form the backbone to society. Beyond that, it is patently offensive to bring this into the moral realm and claim that people who do not make enough money to be taxed should not have (theoretically) equal weight and voice in the voting process. Does Hudson understand anything about systematic inequalities or the processes by which these inequalities are (ideally) supposed to be addressed? The democratic system will never work to create or fulfill meaningful change if the rich — who already exercise considerably more power and influence in the status quo due to their wealth — are able to

further drown out the “immoral” voices of the needy. Hudson is only contributing to the dangerous myth of the “welfare queen,” the idea that there are huge populations of freeloading poor people who live comfortably off of social services and add nothing to society in return. Hudson needs to do more than this amateur and flawed one-dimensional “economic” analysis, which fails to take systematic inequalities into account. He needs to think about why wealth dynamics exist, why democracy exists and why it is both unconstitutional and immoral to justify giving people who are already in power more say over the lives of those who are not. Yvonne Yu ’13

The Herald printed a column yesterday — “Universal suffrage is immoral” by Oliver Hudson ’14 — that prompted online conversation and letters from readers. The Herald has collected some of those responses here.

courtesy of harpo jaeger

from browndailyherald.com

We should demand more from opinions editors at The Herald. Oliver Hudson’s recent column (“Universal Suffrage is Immoral,” Nov. 13) is not intellectually provocative; it is just shock and awe designed to stir outrage and drive page views. Hudson implies that allowing poor people to vote is more immoral than completely disenfranchising them. He says his isn’t a “radical back-

ward idea” to “exclude certain groups from voting on the basis of gender or race.” No, it is literally an idea to exclude certain groups from voting on the basis of income and net worth. That sounds both radical and backwards and contrary to moral systems like Christianity. A quality newspaper should not publish opinions just for the sake of shock and awe. It isn’t hard to find prob-

The Herald has a long and proud tradition of allowing misguided and delusional individuals to voice their beliefs in the opinion pages. Some of these opinions have given me much ironic enjoyment — I particularly enjoy some of the conservative members of campus who have the courage to speak up in a politically hostile environment. I also believe there is great benefit to reading a dissenting or unpopular viewpoint. However, I think opinion columnists should be held to a reasonable minimum standard, which writer Oliver Hudson has not met in his recent piece (“Universal suffrage is immoral,” Nov. 13) The corporate boosterism and Ayn Rand philosophy he espouses are nothing new in the pages of The Herald, but under this libertarian veneer his recommendations cannot be construed as anything but racist. Among the many factual omissions in the article, Hudson fails to note that the United States has a long and storied history facebook.com/browndailyherald

lems in Hudson’s column, which does not bother to consider the long-term moral consequences of his proposal. It does not consider popular systems of morality beyond his own Objectivist leanings. I wonder: Is it moral for The Herald to publish half-baked and oppressive proposals for the sake of controversy? Steven Gomez GS

where his suggestions were actually practiced — in Southern states in the Jim Crow era. There, racist lawmakers employed poll taxes, using similar logic, to disenfranchise AfricanAmerican and other minority voters. A modern system of voting eligibility based on income tax payments would have a similar effect on minority populations, which pay substantial amounts of taxes in other ways. If a columnist directly advocated returning the country to the Jim Crow era, he would not be allowed to remain a columnist at The Herald. Not because he would be censored, but because having a column is a privilege reserved for those engaged in productive speech. Racist views and suggestions can be aired in other forums — even when only argued for indirectly, they do not need or deserve to be given space in The Herald. Ben Struhl ’09

@the_herald

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C ORRE C T I ON S P o licy 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 o mm e n ta r y 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 e t t e r s t o t h e Edi t o r P o licy Send letters to letters@browndailyherald.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. ad v e r t isi n g P o licy The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.


opinions 7

the brown daily herald wednesday, november 14, 2012

What we need to tell prospective students Jaclyn Katz Opinions Columnist

I toured Brown during my junior year of high school and immediately knew that Brown was the place for me. I fell in love with the campus, the location and the student body, but in all honesty, it is hard to describe exactly why I was so drawn to Brown. I somehow just got the vibe that I would fit in here. Before my campus tour, I hadn’t done extensive research on Brown’s academic programs. Of course, I learned more about the New Curriculum during the tour and did a lot of investigating before applying. Still, after that tour I knew that I wanted be a Brown student, and no fact about academics would dissuade me from that goal. Upon learning about the New Curriculum, I thought it would be “cool” — an exciting, rare opportunity — but in hindsight, I see that I did not understand what the actual experience of hand-picking my courses would be like at Brown. As a high school student it is no doubt difficult to fathom what the academic experience of college holds in store and why it is so different from that of high school. So instead, during my college search, I concentrated on student life, location relative to my family and the University’s reputation. I can’t help but think that a good percentage of other students handled the college application process

with that same mentality. I entered Brown with only vague ideas about what I wanted to study. I knew which subjects interested me and which subjects I wanted to explore. The New Curriculum allows students to take whichever classes they’d like, and thus it would seem that anyone with a passion for learning would thrive here. But the art of shopping classes and creating a balanced schedule are daunting tasks as a firstyear. While first-years can utilize the numerous advising resources, the decision about

stress, freedom and responsibility that come with hand-picking one’s own courses each semester are not for everyone. And I believe that there needs to be a system in place that explains to prospective students the reality of the New Curriculum. Please understand that I am not writing this article as a way to vent about my experience choosing classes as a first-year. In fact, the process for me went rather smoothly. Instead, I am writing this as a believer in the New Curriculum, and I feel that prospective

However, I believe the stress, freedom and responsibility that come with hand-picking one’s own courses each semester is not for everyone. And I believe that there needs to be a system in place that explains to prospective students the reality of the New Curriculum. which classes to take is ultimately their own. Excluding those entering Brown as pre-meds or engineers, the majority of students start from scratch when choosing classes for the first time, and without distribution requirements to fulfill, it is difficult to know where to begin. It is also difficult to gauge which type of student is best suited for the New Curriculum. Are those who know what they want to study better candidates? Or are those without a clue the ones who can take advantage of all Brown has to offer? Of course, these arbitrary categories are not mutually exclusive, as many types of students can excel under Brown’s academic roof. Yet, I believe the

students would benefit from learning about its pros and cons before applying. This process would not only better educate prospective students about their potential new home, but also allow Brown to hear from applicants who better understand what it means to be student here. I picture a system in which prospective students learn from current Brown students about their experiences with the New Curriculum. In this process, prospective students would also have a chance to evaluate what they hope to gain from their college education and to examine what their individual academic needs are. A one-on-one scenario would be ideal, and the conversation might

occur in addition to a campus tour. For prospective students who do not visit campus, we could instate a system where high school students contact current students with questions via “G-chat.” Indeed, the Bruin Club has a similar program in place called “Ask a Brown Student,” in which prospective students can reach out to Brown students to inquire about life at Brown, and perhaps this program can be expanded upon to include a specific focus on discussing the New Curriculum. Of course, the program I envision is not without its imperfections: Each student has a unique experience upon entering Brown and thus may relay certain opinions or biases to prospective students. In addition, it is difficult for high school students to imagine college life, let alone the process of choosing courses and why that process is an integral part of the experience here at Brown. Still, the goal of establishing this type of contact between prospective students and current students would simply be to start a conversation about what it means to take responsibility for and be in total control of one’s education. I feel that initiating this conversation would compel high school students to think about what they want out of their college academic experience at Brown and at the other institutions to which they may apply — which would be a fantastic accomplishment in and of itself. Jaclyn Katz ’14 still hasn’t mastered the art of shopping period and can be reached at jaclyn_katz@brown.edu.

Creating safe spaces at Brown David Romero Opinions Columnist

“Write something that someone might disagree with. What’s the point of making an argument when you don’t have anything to push against?” This is what my English professor tells my class before writing essays. An essay should first and foremost contain a provocative idea that may rouse disagreement. This philosophy is one that I have had to get used to, since my personal inclination is to describe something, point out interesting aspects about that something and then leave it at that. Where’s the argument though? To make a point is not enough — one has to take into consideration the social phenomenon of debate and adapt one’s ideas to fit an argumentative mode of discourse. This notion makes perfect sense to me, but I can’t help but think about the boundaries and responsibilities of making arguments, especially in a public forum. I think a lot about boundaries and safe spaces when I’m making a provocative point through speech or writing. Making provocative, headline-grabbing arguments can produce great pull quotes but don’t really get to the heart of what is important in any given argument. Most bad conflicts I’ve witnessed don’t stem from a fundamental difference in opinion or values, but a difference in presentation. The need to be provocative and argumentative creates inherently unsafe spaces at Brown and be-

yond. Looking for examples of an unsafe space? Log on to Facebook and read your friends’ political statuses and see how unproductive those discussions can be. Google “presidential debate 2012” and read the comments, most of which serve to create an environment where civil discourse is impossible. Hell, you don’t even need to go that far. Just listen to the people around you, and if they talk about any conflicts they’ve had with other people, note what they’re really fight-

negatively judged. We’re only human, but we all try our best to be constructive in our thoughts, words and facial reactions. The feelings of others should not be taken lightly, so we try to word our statements to be as caring as we can be. But there’s something problematic about having to try so hard to cultivate this type of space. If MSex and similar groups such as FemSex attempt to create safe spaces, that means that unsafe spaces are the norm at Brown and beyond.

I urge everyone reading this to help foster a safe space at Brown today. When you’re talking to someone, actually listen to what they’re saying. If you disagree, do so respectfully. Thank people for their time, even if you disagree with everything they say.

ing about. Most times it’s not about the message, it’s about the presentation. Let’s be real: Most spaces of discourse are unsafe. We all know what these discussions look like, but what does a safe space look like? Let me give an example. I am currently a facilitator for Brown’s Workshop on Male Sexuality, MSex. What we try to do in MSex is cultivate a safe and sensitive atmosphere where people can talk about things relating to their sexuality without the fear of being

There are many unsafe spaces here at Brown and in the world beyond our beloved College Hill, and they don’t just take place in online forums. In my classes I see people roll their eyes and scoff at other people’s experiences. I hear people disagree with each other in obnoxious tones meant to intimidate. I see the nation’s vice president laughing at every statement that his political opponent makes. But why laugh instead of calmly and articulately disproving your opponent’s point? If you write an argumentative paper or an

opinion column without taking a provocative and interesting stance, you’re probably in trouble. But if you write one of these with intentionally combative language which marginalizes the opinions of others, you’re in worse territory. What the heck is my argument, then? My big argument is that I think that all of us could adjust our language in order to have more productive and civil debate with others. I think that aggressive language and tone further isolate us from each other and make argumentative discussions frustrating and even frightening. I think that you’re better off checking yourself before you say something that will derail a chance at having civil discourse. I urge everyone reading this to help foster a safe space at Brown today. When you’re talking to someone, actually listen to what they’re saying. If you disagree, do so respectfully. Thank people for their time, even if you disagree with everything they say. Doing these things won’t automatically weaken your argument or make you soft. Taking these steps will help you be more balanced and make you respect the person you’re talking to. Most importantly, it’ll help you listen to what they have to say, regardless of whether you agree with it or not. We will make better, more convincing arguments if we foster safe spaces at Brown and beyond — and we’ll be able to do so without yelling down each other’s throats for a change. David Romero ’14 occasionally slips up in unsafe ways, but is getting better at it day by day. He can be reached at David_Romero@brown.edu.


daily herald the Brown

wednesday, november 14, 2012

feature

Potter in the park: Brown Muggles seek more than snitches By Sabrina imbler Staff Writer

Armed with a golden tube sock containing a tennis ball, the human snitch stood atop a hill, pushing students back down the sloping field to prevent them from capturing the celebrated “Harry Potter” prize. Below, students mounted on brooms ran between goalposts. The India Point Ashwinders gathered last Sunday afternoon to recreate J.K. Rowling’s fantastical game of Quidditch, the signature wizarding sport in her best-selling series. Once a week, these students dive into a world of quaffles, bludgers and snitches, exercising more than just their imagination. The team that lived The India Point Ashwinders were born of the union of two social groups on campus — students who live in Tech House and students who lived in Perkins last year. Jeffrey Blum ’12.5 of Tech House and Derik Wagner ’15, formerly of Perkins, now serve as co-captains of their nascent team. “I was always a bookish type. I did sports when I had to. And then I found Quidditch, and I realized I hadn’t found the right sport yet,” said Blum, who ran cross country and track in high school, mostly to avoid a physical education requirement. The engineering flair of a team half comprising Tech House residents reveals itself in the Ashwinders’ drills and scrimmages. “The first thing Jeff did was prescribe an ellipse in mathematica and

measure the distance of the field,” Ashwinders member Moi Arriaga ’13 said. Last fall, Wagner applied to have the team approved as a student group and was referred to the athletics department, which did not grant the team official status. Blum had independently started his own efforts to form a team in the spring. The two soon found each other and created the Ashwinders, but they have yet to garner approval from the athletics department. As the Ashwinders have no official Brown affiliation, team members elected to name themselves after their primary practice location: India Point Park. From there, the team found a website cataloguing all magical animals that have ever been mentioned in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world and spitballed names until one stuck: the Ashwinders. Gray snakes with incarnadine eyes, ashwinders are only mentioned once in the series as a potion ingredient. They cut impressive figures in the team’s jerseys, which feature the ashwinder coiled around the three goals of a Quidditch field and were designed by team member Elizabeth MacDougal ’15.

Straight no chaser The most recent Ashwinders practice seemed more like an exhibition, continually interrupted by passersby whose reactions ranged from admiration to confusion. Rarely was there a moment in which the Ashwinders were not being immortalized through the local paparazzi’s digital or iPhone cameras. Joggers, skateboarders and fishermen all

stopped to watch the Ashwinders dash across the field, their brooms almost an extension of themselves rather than an obstacle to speed. Then the sounds of the I-95 that runs along the peak of the park rushed in, and the team was brought back down to reality once more. “Quidditch is a game that requires as much imagination as skill,” said Providence resident Elizabeth Basset, one of the many spectators at the team’s practice and an ardent “Harry Potter” fan. One spectator struck up a conversation with Blum and revealed she was a former beater for Middlebury College, the birthplace of college Quidditch. One practice last month occurred at the same time as PRONK!, an annual street band festival that took place at India Point Park. Large numbers of festival-goers crowded around the field to watch the game. Many of them — some as young as eight years old — joined in. Hufflepuff-ing “People try to draw analogues to Quidditch to compare it to other sports, but always end up comparing it to four or more sports. Chasers kind of resemble rugby, bludgers resemble dodgeball, the nonstop action resembles soccer. There’s no perfect analogy,” Wagner said. Games typically last 15 to 20 minutes, with the one notable exception being the Ashwinders’ 45-minute game against Brandeis University. Some Quidditch teams have more than 20 members, allowing for multiple substitutions. But the Ashwinders have a core team of

‘Carol’ brings Christmas cheer By EMMAjean Holley contributing writer

Courtesy OF Drew BeliVeau

Brown students and Providence locals formed the India Point Ashwinders Quidditch team after failing to receive funds from the athletics department. fewer than 10 committed students and two community members, leaving little time to rest. Gravity was the primary obstacle to adapting the magical game of Quidditch to a Muggle world. Luckily for the Ashwinders, the International Quidditch Association had already devised many innovations to make this airborne game suitable to be played on a field. “The people from Middlebury who adapted the game did an extraordinarily amazing job in (figuring) out how to capture the spirit of the game while making allowances (for) things that are not possible,” Blum said. These allowances include reducing the point value

Panel examines Hong Kong students’ hybrid identities By Alexander Blum

It may be a little early to bust out the eggnog and twinkle lights, but I’ve been listening to Bing Crosby all evening after the Trinity Repertory Company’s 36th production of “A Christmas Carol” swaddled me with warm and wintery spirits. The performance, which runs Nov. 10 through Dec. 29, embodies the conventional theatricalities of Charles Dickens’ classic yarn of a holiday humbug in honor of Dickens’ 200th birthday this year. “It felt like the appropriate time to honor him in the traditional sense,” said director Tyler Dobrowsky in a video on Trinity Rep’s website. The play follows a perceived villain, Ebenezer Scrooge (Tyler Crowe), along his path to redemption. At first miserly, vulgar and selfish, he is visited by a series of Christmas ghosts who reveal to him the error of his ways by illustrating the true meaning of Christmas. By morning, he is a changed man. He donates to the poor he once spat at, respects the underlings he once scorned and begins to rebuild connections with his family and friends — finding, ultimately, that it is love and not money that imparts meaning and joy to life. While the ages of the audience members ranged from grade-school to grandparents, everyone chuckled at the same parts, such as Scrooge’s familiar and slightly insane chortle or an

Contributing Writer

arts & culture

What it means to come from Hong Kong and how to place one’s national identity in a global context dominated a discussion hosted by the Hong Kong Students Association Tuesday evening. The conversation was led by a panel of six Brown students and one Rhode Island School of Design student, all of whom have spent some or most of their lives in Hong Kong. Professor of History Evelyn Hu-Dehart also helped lead the discussion. “Hong Kong identity is very hybrid,” Hu-Dehart said. The panelists began the discussion by explaining their identities in light of their experiences. One issue raised involved tensions within the Hong Kong student community. Panel members pointed to socioeconomic differences between students who attended local and international schools in Hong Kong, saying students who attended international schools often looked down on their local counterparts, who were generally less affluent. Panelists also said Hong Kong’s status as a former British colony has perpetuated a preference for individuals with British accents. Hu-Dehart was born in China and immigrated to America when she was 12 years old, she said. Going against the desires of her parents, Hu-Dehart majored in the humanities at Stanford

campus news

Courtesy of Marilyn Busch

The 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birthday inspired this season’s performance of the perennial classic ‘A Christmas Carol.’ ironic eye-roll of a three-dimensional ghost. The special effects are particularly compelling. The face of Scrooge’s deceased business partner, Jacob Marley (Stephen Thorne), is eerily superimposed upon a giant clock face and later a projection screen. The audience collectively gasped when the actor himself burst out from a trapdoor below stage, warning Scrooge that he too would be rattling in his chains if he continued to reject and exploit his fellow man. Conversely, the joyful patter of children’s feet and the unsullied harmonies of their voices paint an angelic atmosphere in the more nostalgic and

idyllic segments of the play. Touches like these lend a colorful and diverse experience to the overall tone of the play, and the audience responded with warmth and fervor. Poignant touches by the actors and directors add to the themes of purity and wholesome togetherness. The limited cast, with each actor taking on multiple roles throughout the play, evoke a rich sense of family. “I want to make sure to give (the audience) a lot (of ) wonder and magic,” Dobrowsky said. Based on the standing ovation the actors received at the end of their performance, that’s exactly what we got.

of the snitch to a reasonable 30 points, introducing a third bludger to prevent a monopoly from any one team and the transformation of the snitch from a levitating charm to a human with longdistance running experience. But due to their limited funds, the Ashwinders had to make some allowances of their own. With no cars or other modes of transport, the Ashwinders trekked to India Point Park carrying their Quidditch field with them: six buckets full of concrete, six goal hoops and deflated volleyballs. Until late October, the team did not even have brooms. They had been running from goalpost to goal/ / Quidditch page 5

University before earning her PhD in Latin American studies. Though she was “practically disowned” by her parents, Hu-Dehart said she believed it was important to “live my own life and not that of my parents.” Hu-Dehart said she thought her experience making her own choices in spite of her parents’ expectations is becoming more common for immigrants in the United States. The discussion moved to the issue of interracial relationships, which the panelists said can be a sensitive topic in Asian culture. Hu-Dehart noted that romantic relationships can cause “tremendous upheaval in the family,” adding that her own marriage “seriously challenged my parents.” All panelists expressed a desire to return to Hong Kong at some point in their lives, though many said they wanted to pursue further education in America before returning. Larry Au ’14 noted that China has become the best represented foreign country at Brown, with the largest number of international students and applicants hailing from China. He said Brown’s “internationalization effort to connect fundraising, networking and recruitment” is coming together to promote Brown’s brand in China. Hu-Dehart added that most students who matriculate to Brown from China are from affluent families and attended one of a few elite Chinese schools. She called the record-high matriculation of undergraduate Chinese students a “brand-new phenomenon.”


Wednesday, November 14, 2012  

The November 14, 2012 issue of the Brown Daily Herald

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