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vol. cxlviii, no. 34


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Pension caps

R.I. judge upholds pension plan as ‘fair’


Paxson’s support is as a ‘local business owner’ and is separate from any University advocacy By ADAM TOOBIN

Higher ed dead? Madison ’16 questions the value of a college degree Page 8

Man your script A conservator spoke about manuscript preservation today

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40 / 24

since 1891

Paxson endorses same-sex marriage in R.I.


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President Christina Paxson signed a petition in February calling for the Rhode Island General Assembly to legalize same-sex marriage. Her signature on the petition marks the first time she has taken a public stance on the issue. Paxson signed onto the Rhode Island Business Leaders for Marriage Equality Pledge because “it is an issue (she) feels strongly about and one that she believes the General Assembly should address for a number of reasons, including those stated in the petition,” Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn wrote in an email to The Herald.


She was the only president of a Rhode Island college or university to sign the petition. The petition — sponsored by Rhode Islanders United for Marriage — highlights the possible economic benefits to the state from allowing same-sex marriage but adds that expanding the definition of marriage to encompass gay and lesbian couples is the only way that “every employee or potential employee will be treated fairly.” On the petition, Paxson is identified as a local business leader and her title is indicated as “President, Brown University.” But Quinn distinguished between Paxson’s personal support for same-sex marriage and official University advocacy for the policy. “We did not add Brown to the listing as an institution nor did we authorize the use of the logo, which were options on the pledge,” Quinn wrote. The Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Jan. 24 that would legalize samesex marriage, / / Marriage page 2


Paxson has announced her support for a petition that advocates marriage equality in Rhode Island. Herald file photo.

Janus to cosponsor gun violence forums with Paxson U. parking ‘Guns in America,’ a Janus Forum miniseries, will feature speakers debating issues of gun violence By SABRINA IMBLER SENIOR STAFF WRITER

The Political Theory Project will cosponsor a three-part Janus Forum Lecture miniseries with the Office of the President starting this Thursday entitled “Guns in America” to address gun culture, gun violence and the question of gun ownership based on mental health. “Guns in America” differs from normal Janus forums only in its format as a miniseries and its inclusion of three speakers, rather than two, in each discussion, said Janus Forum Executive Director Haakim Nainar ’14. Each two-hour event will take place in MacMillan 117. “We wanted to have as broad a discussion as possible,” he added.

Janus planned on holding a conversation about guns before the president’s office extended significant resources — including funding — to the organization, Nainar said. “But when the president reached out to us, we fast-tracked that item on our agenda,” he said. Paxson emailed the community at the end of last semester to say she intended to promote a campus-wide dialogue about gun violence in the wake of the December Newtown shootings. The events deliberately exclude the phrase “gun control” to avoid predisposing the discussion to any specific topic, Nainar said. The first forum, “Guns in America: Reducing Crime,” will take place Thursday and feature Carl Bogus, a

professor of law at Roger Williams University; Steven Lippmann, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Louisville; and John Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime.” The following two forums will feature authors, professors and leaders of organizations dealing with gun violence. The Janus Steering Committee and Executive Board chose these speakers while formulating proposals for each event, Nainar said. “We were thinking about the different aspects we wanted to explore in each topic and how to get the best perspectives on each event,” Nainar said. “It’s definitely not your generic pro-guns, anti-guns thing.” Janus also worked to gather suggestions for topics and speakers from members of the community, said Sam Gilman ’15, director of the Janus Forum Steering Committee.

The Janus Forum has no current plans to continue the discussion of guns in America after the conclusion of the miniseries, Nainar said. “We could have had just another lecture on constitutional law, but that wasn’t what we thought would be the most helpful,” Nainar said. “There’s so much about guns in America that’s not covered by the Second Amendment discussion but still in so many aspects of American life that it requires some introspection.” Some students praised this approach to the issue of gun violence. “It’s good to look at it as a practical issue in terms of realistic solutions,” said Jessica Steans-Gail ’16. Collaborating with the president’s office has allowed Janus to advertise the miniseries on the official University website, but all other publicity has been conducted in accordance with / / Guns page 5 usual Janus

Close to home: Nearby professors blend home, work lives Professors who reside near the University use their accessibility to home life to foster ties with students By EMILY PASSARELLI STAFF WRITER

Though his office hours were ending in two minutes, Professor of Music David Josephson still had time to meet with the final student waiting outside his door. As a professor who lives close to campus, Josephson was not on a tight schedule. Brown’s mission to create an environment in which students can best learn, discover and serve the community can be easier to uphold, some professors said, if they live in the community. Professors working within two miles of their residences can transition between their desks at home — away from the distractions of University life —


and their desks in their offices. With their two workspaces so close together, professors can shape their daily schedules without the constraints of a long commute. Josephson said he cannot imagine how professors who live away from campus can effectively support the creation of a community and provide the best help for students. “You just cannot do collaborative work by telephone,” he added. Some professors who live nearby reach out to students by inviting them for meals at their own homes as a chance to get to know each other outside the classroom. Michelle Graff ’13 works as a Meiklejohn with Professor of Geological Sciences Jan Tullis and dined at her house with their advisees last year.

Being able to go to Tullis’ house adds something to their relationship, Graff said. “It’s closer to colleagues,” she said. “We have more equal footing.” She added that her advisees appreciated the chance to eat at Tullis’ house. “They all thought it was great compared to what their friends were experiencing,” Graff said. Tara Nummedal, professor of history, also said she was happy to be able to host her first-year advisees.“I have fond memories going over to my professors’ houses as a college student,” she added. When Lisa Mignone, assistant professor of classics, did not plan her usual annual breakfast for her Latin students at her house a half-mile off campus, “students informed me it was happening (anyway),” she said. “I think they like being in a sort of home.” Besides helping their students feel at home, professors living nearby said they

can easily attend events at the students’ “home” — the University. “College isn’t all in the classroom,” Mignone said, adding that she enjoys the opportunity to support her students’ interests by attending their performances and sporting events. Professors also have a life beyond their professions. Those who live nearby said they can show students their personal lives outside of academics. As a kid, Josephson always lived close to where he studied and grew up near a library. Today he still spends hours of his own time in the Rockefeller Library, while Professor of French Lewis Seifert said he works out at the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center. “It’s nice to run into students on a weekend,” Seifert said. “They seem surprised that I have a real life, too.” Nummedal said living nearby has let her engage her 3-year-old daughter with Universi/ / Professors page 5

officers on track to unionize Officers are currently negotiating an agreement which includes higher wages By MARK VALDEZ SENIOR STAFF WRITER

University parking officers are set to unionize under the United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island, pending final signatures on a draft agreement between the University and union officials. Under the current draft of the agreement between the University and the union, parking officers will receive hourly wage increases and maintain some of their current benefits. United Service and Allied Workers also represent Facilities Management staff members, whose existing contract was used to help develop the draft agreement for parking officers. The current Facilities Management agreement was amended for parking officers to keep their existing holidays and seniority but take on the “vacation, sick time and pension benefits” included in the Facilities Management contract, said Karen McAninch, workers’ representative and business agent for the United Service and Allied Workers. Last November, the two parking officers employed by the University at the time voted to join the United Service and Allied Workers. The draft of the agreement, once finalized, will include all parking officers, who are University staff members that enforce Providence and campus / / Parking page 4

2 city & state C ALENDAR TODAY


3 P.M.



12 P.M.

Poetics without Borders Panel

Brown Bag Concert Series

McCormack Family Theater

Sayles Hall Auditorium

4 P.M.

3:30 P.M.

Michael S. Goodman ‘74 Lecture

Guns in America Discussion

Metcalf 101

MacMillan Hall 117



LUNCH Chicken Fingers, Spinach Pie, Edamame Beans with Tri-Colored Peppers, Sweet Potato Fries

Steak and Pepper Fajitas, Meatballs with Sauce, Eggplant Saute, Rotini, Cauliflower, Mini Chocolate Eclairs

DINNER Orange Teriyaki Salmon, Korean Style Marinated Beef, Himalayan Red Rice with Banana and Coconut, Egg Rolls

Chicken Helene, Feta and Tomato Quiche, Creamy Rosemary Polenta, Stir-Fry Sizzlin’ Cuban with Chicken



Providence pension plan upheld as ‘fair’ Superior Court Judge Taft-Carter supported the reform, which includes a cap on pensions By MARIYA BASHKATOVA SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter voted to uphold last year’s Providence pension reform Monday. Taft-Carter ruled that the pension agreement was “fair, reasonable and adequate,” according to a press release. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras negotiated last year’s reform as a measure to address the city’s large structural deficit by streamlining its unsustainable pension plan. The city workers’ unions, which include police officers and firefighters, agreed to a cap on pensions, a 10-year freeze on cost-of-living adjustments, the movement of workers over age 65 to Medicare and the elimination of 5- and 6- percent compounded COLAs for the city’s pensioned workers. The reform is projected to save the city $18.5 million this fiscal year, the Providence Journal reported. Taft-Carter told the Providence Journal that only 14 out of more than 1,300 retirees have filed written complaints. Only five retirees have opted


The new pension program, spearheaded by Mayor Angel Taveras, could save the city $18.5 million this fiscal year. Herald file photo. out of the new pension program so far, the Providence Journal reported. They have until April 1 to do so.

The final court hearing to judge the legality of the reform will occur April 12, according to the press release.

Timeline: City pension reform


June 30, 2011: Mayor Angel Taveras announces that annual payments on Providence’s $900 million unfunded pension liability threaten to send the city into bankruptcy. April 30, 2012: Taveras signs the pension reform plan into law.

April 26, 2012: The Providence City Council approves a plan to reduce the city’s unfunded pension liability by at least $236 million.

July 12, 2012: To make way for the newly negotiated agreement, Providence retirees file suit contesting pension plan signed into law in April. March 11, 2013: Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter issues opinion calling pension deal “fair, adequate and reasonable.”

May 30, 2012: Taveras reaches a tentative agreement with public workers and retirees.

Dec. 13, 2012: The Providence Police vote in support of the pension plan. Nov. 8, 2012: The Providence firefighters unions vote in support of the pension plan. GREG JORDAN-DETAMORE / HERALD

/ / Marriage page 1 the first time in the state’s history one of the branches of the legislature has supported this kind of legislation. The bill was then sent to the Senate, where it has laid dormant since its arrival. The Senate Judiciary Committee must approve the bill before the full Senate will have a chance to vote on it. The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Michael McCaffrey

has said he will allow a vote on the bill in his committee this term. But the confirmed opposition of four committee members, including McCaffrey, out of the 10 total — with four in favor and two undecided — means the legislation’s fate is unknown. If the legislation passes the committee vote, it will face a full Senate body that remains equally divided on the issue. Despite Paxson’s personal support for the same-sex marriage bill, the Uni- 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I. Shefali Luthra, President Samuel Plotner, Treasurer Lucy Feldman, Vice President Julia Kuwahara, 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 2013 by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved. EDITORIAL

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versity’s “legislative director has not weighed in with the legislature on this issue,” Quinn wrote. Quinn did not comment on whether Paxson consulted with either faculty members or students before signing the petition. University Council of Students President Anthony White ’13 said Paxson did not consult with UCS before signing the petition. If Paxson had endorsed the legislation on behalf of the University, the decision process would have been longer, Quinn wrote. The petition’s focus on same-sex marriage’s potential economic benefits to the state exemplifies a generally less common argument that has received some prominent support during Rhode Island’s debate over the legislation. “Legalizing same-sex marriage would increase revenue in the state while also generating much-needed business for companies in the tourism and hospitality industries,” according to the petition. Same-sex marriage would also give Rhode Island “the ability to attract and retain top talent from around the world,” which, according to the petition, / / Marriage page 3

university news 3





Harvard administration draws fire for searching deans’ emails Several Harvard officials have confirmed that university administrators secretly accessed 16 resident deans’ email accounts last fall to find evidence of a leak to the media about an undergraduate cheating scandal that occurred last year, the Boston Globe reported Sunday. The deans whose emails were secretly viewed serve on the Administrative Board, which led the inquiry into the cheating case. All but one dean were not notified of administrators accessing their emails until Saturday, months after the searches occurred. The episode has raised concerns among faculty members, whose digital records are protected by a university policy granting them privacy. Harvard spokesperson Jeff Neal said “any assertion that Harvard routinely monitors emails — for any reason — is patently false,” the Globe reported.

NYU faculty to hold vote of no confidence on president Faculty members of New York University’s School of Arts and Sciences are holding a five-day vote of no confidence on President John Sexton this week, multiple news sources reported. The vote comes amid sharp polarization around Sexton’s proposed “NYU 20131” plan to physically expand the school’s Manhattan campus, which detractors say will drive up tuition costs and prove financially unsustainable. Sexton has also come under fire from some faculty members for what they said was insufficient communication regarding university policy changes and a failure to solicit input on administrative decisions. The vote of no confidence raises questions about the broader role of university presidents in an era when many of them have increasingly focused on fundraising efforts, the New York Times reported.

Liberty University now ranks as country’s largest private, nonprofit university With 74,000 students, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. has become the largest nonprofit, private university in the United States, the Washington Post reported March 4. The Baptist university, founded by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell in 1971, has used online courses to quadruple its student body in the past six years, with 62,000 students — 84 percent of its student body — working toward online degrees. Liberty University’s endowment, now over $1 billion, puts the school in the same financial league as Georgetown University, the Post reported.

Survey highlights students’ lack of knowledge about study abroad Only 24 percent of U.S. college students and 22 percent of their British peers said they had enough information to make a decision about whether to pursue studying abroad, according to a survey conducted by the British Council, the United Kingdom’s educational agency, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported March 6. The survey, conducted last fall, showed that a lack of information about study abroad options outranked difficulty speaking a foreign language as a reason dissuading students from studying abroad. Of American respondents, 79 percent indicated comfort speaking a foreign language. While 56 percent of U.S. respondents said they were considering study abroad options, 40 percent also said they had too little information on financial aid programs for international study, The Chronicle reported.

/ / Marriage page 2 “is critical to creating a competitive business environment.” Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 echoed similar claims during his advocacy for same-sex marriage legislation. Chafee joined a panel discussion at New York University in February to discuss the “economic harms” to Rhode Island of continuing to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. He argued that talented workers who are gay, whom Rhode Island needs for

economic growth, will prefer to settle in states with same-sex marriage like Connecticut, New York or Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reported. Rhode Island for Marriage, an organization opposed to same-sex marriage, has several posts on its website disputing the legislation’s economic benefit. The organization cites data that nine out of the 10 states that Chief Executive Magazine ranked the “best states for business” have “voted to preserve traditional marriage,” according to its website.


Syrian poet and essayist Ali Ahmad Said, also known as Adonis, read his unconventional poetry that explores themes of exodus and transformation yesterday as part of a two-day literary festival.

4 university news



University parking officers voted to unionize after finding that other parking officers in the region received higher wages. Herald file photo.

/ / Parking page 1 parking codes. McAninch said officers joined the union because they believed they were being paid less than they deserved. The officers earned $13.26 and $13.42 hourly and worked 37.5 hours weekly, which is “what most non-union staff works,” McAninch said. Both parking officers had been correctional officers in Massachusetts and felt they should be paid more, McAninch said. She said the officers researched other parking officers’ wages at the University of Massachusetts and the City of Providence and found the average rate was $17.00 per hour. Unionized staff members — which include Facilities Management, Dining Services, Public Safety and library staff members — work 40 hours per

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week. The current draft of the agreement stipulates that the officers work 40 hours per week and earn $14.17 an hour, which “put them in the grid with the rest of Facilities (Management),” McAninch said. One officer, who declined to comment, is approaching his third year working at the University, McAninch said. If the current draft is finalized, his pay will be raised to $16.30. “The University generally does not comment during the collective bargaining process,” wrote Paul Mancini, director of labor and employee relations, in an email to The Herald. But “these negotiations have been characterized by a positive spirit of cooperation, understanding and goodwill as the parties have worked expeditiously toward a fair and equitable resolution,” he wrote.

university news 5


/ / Guns page 1 standards, Nainar said. The panels will be followed by dinners with the speakers, faculty members and students. But though the first two will take place at the Faculty Club, the last will be at the President’s House, said Kim Roskiewicz, assistant to the president. “Given the partnership with the president’s office, we may be more successful in reaching different areas of the campus and reaching community members,” Gilman said. But given the breadth of Janus Forum topics, it is hard to determine a regular audience for events, he added. “I would say that this is definitely a necessary conversation in light of recent events, and I’m happy that Brown is providing a forum for this discussion,” said Samantha Reback ’16. But other students questioned the efficacy of the planned discussions. “I don’t think the Brown campus

/ / Professors page 1 ty life. “It is a good feminist point for students to see me with my daughter,” said Nummedal, who brings her daughter to the Blue Room on the weekends for chocolate chip cookies. Like students, she said she has a busy life outside of her office on Angell Street. But professors also noted that living nearby can complicate their routines. They may have the simple conveniences of a short commute in bad weather or the opportunity to stop at their offices to pick up papers they had forgotten and still need to grade. But with this proximity, some said they feel they must work harder to separate their private and public lives — convenience can cause the two to blend easily. Professors must carefully select their coffee shops and restaurants to foster this divide.

will be swayed, because I think there’s a large bias for gun control and the discussions will probably confirm what people already think,” said Kaivan Shroff ’15, a Janus Fellow. “But that could just be my opinion. And maybe people who don’t know what they believe will be influenced by one side or the other.” Because they come months after the Newtown tragedy, “the forums won’t have as much immediate resonance,” Reback said. But Janus members expressed optimism about the impact of the miniseries. Spreading out the panels over three weeks will help elevate the issue of guns to the forefront of campus dialogues, Gilman said. “We want to have a sustained conversation on campus and to be a part of an ongoing societal discourse on campus about the role of guns in America,” Gilman said. “We can start a discourse here that can spread to discussion in other universities and change-makers in the nation.” Thayer Street, with all its allure, is as attractive to professors as it is to students. When professors encounter their students outside class hours, there is an understood code of conduct. “We both know to say ‘hi’ and wave but then to move on,” Nummedal said, though the interactions are on occasion uncomfortable. “As long as you are able to set boundaries, it works,” Mignone said. By not living nearby, “you’re not around for the mess of life,” Josephson said. “And by mess, I mean a good thing.” Josephson said professors who live too far away and have too much of a divide between their home and their job are not always around to experience the culture of Brown and to support their students — they are “substitutions for the real thing.”

COMIC Ling-A-Ling | Ling Zhou

6 editorial EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL CARTOON b y a n g e l i a wa n g

Ban the box

Rep. Scott Slater, D-R.I., brought legislation to the General Assembly last week to expand Providence’s ban on having a criminal history box on job applications to a statewide level. The ban does not prohibit checking criminal records: Rather, it is intended to force employers to conduct their own background checks only “after determining that an applicant is a finalist or making a conditional offer of employment.” The only ground to refuse applicants is if their criminal history may be connected to the employment they seek. We strongly encourage the state government to accept this legislation. It represents an excellent step in the right direction for criminal rehabilitation into our state’s society, and — though the law necessitates follow-ups in recidivism studies, background check effectiveness and prison treatment — not extending it to the rest of the state would be foolish. Joining the job market is unreasonably difficult for many former convicts. One man, Jay Parker, said at a press conference last week that his job search was hampered by lasting discrimination because of “two nearly 20-year-old drug convictions” that he previously had to include with any job application. He eventually got a job at the Rhode Island Convention Center, notably an institution subject to the Providence criminal history box ban. Parker’s tale illustrates that this kind of discrimination is a problem in the state at large and needs to be dealt with. Though they have been previously convicted, people like Parker still have the same rights and needs as other citizens: food, a home and some form of social support, all of which require or are bolstered by being employed. This bill will help former convicts achieve these needs without facing unnecessary discrimination along the way. The bill’s main opponents are a lobbyist for the criminal background check industry, who, The Herald reported March 5, said he fears “the law will expose flaws in (the industry’s) methodology, making them vulnerable to lawsuits,” and the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, whose website states that “there is a further concern about safety and potential employer liability” in addition to possibly being out of line with federal laws pertaining to criminal background checks. Neither of these arguments withstands scrutiny. The criminal background check industry alone is responsible for its methodology, and it should not use state policies to cover up its own problems. It must be accountable to a reliable method of analysis whether this bill passes or not. As an essential part of integrating felons into society, the industry should not conceal its system behind a highly discriminatory practice. Secondly, the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, in echoing concerns about “safety,” perpetuates unfair negative stereotypes about felons, and the law would not create greater employer liability. Getting rid of the box merely has employers determine whether a candidate is qualified for the position, rather than simply noticing an application has a criminal record on it and dropping it in the recycling bin. As for the possibility of not being in line with federal law, this kind of legislation has been in effect in Providence and Boston since 2008 and 2006, respectively, with no response from Washington. If this bill is not passed, the state government will essentially refuse to forgive the transgressions of former convicts who have already in some way paid their dues back to society. This is morally wrong, countering egalitarian ideals and allowing negative stereotypes about the smallest fractions of truly untreatable felons — namely psychopaths and sociopaths — to determine policy for a much larger number of treatable and treated ones. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editor, Dan Jeon, and its members, Mintaka Angell, Samuel Choi, Nicholas Morley and Rachel Occhiogrosso. Send comments to

t h e b row n da i ly h e r a l d Editors-in-Chief Lucy Feldman Shefali Luthra

Managing Editors Elizabeth Carr Jordan Hendricks

EDITORIAL Greg Jordan-Detamore Strategic Director Sections Hannah Abelow Arts & Culture Editor Maddie Berg Arts & Culture Editor Sona Mkrttchian City & State Editor Adam Toobin City & State Editor Elizabeth Koh Features Editor Alison Silver Features Editor Sahil Luthra Science & Research Editor Kate Nussenbaum Science & Research Editor James Blum Sports Editor Connor Grealy Sports Editor Mathias Heller University News Editor Alexandra Macfarlane University News Editor Eli Okun University News Editor Dan Jeon Editorial Page Editor Matt Brundage Opinions Editor Lucas Husted Opinions Editor Maggie Tennis Opinions Editor Multimedia Emily Gilbert Head Photo Editor Sam Kase Photo Editor Sydney Mondry Photo Editor Tom Sullivan Photo Editor Danny Garfield Video Editor Angelia Wang Illustrations Editor Production Copy Desk Chief Sara Palasits Design Editor Brisa Bodell Design Editor Einat Brenner Design Editor Kyle McNamara Assistant Design Editor Sandra Yan Web Producer Joseph Stein Assistant Web Producer Neal Poole


Senior Editors Aparna Bansal Alexa Pugh

BUSINESS General Managers Office Manager Julia Kuwahara Shawn Reilly Samuel Plotner Directors Sales Eliza Coogan Finance Luka Ursic Emily Chu Alumni Relations Business Strategy Angel Lee Justin Lee Business Development Managers Jacqueline Chang Regional Sales Leslie Chen Regional Sales Anisa Holmes Regional Sales Wenli Shao Regional Sales Carolyn Stichnoth Regional Sales Chae Suh Regional Sales William Barkeley Collections Nicole Shimer Collections Josh Ezickson Operations Alison Pruzan Alumni Engagement Melody Cao Human Resources Owen Millard Research & Development POST- MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief Zoë Hoffman Editor-in-Chief Claire Luchette BLOG DAILY HERALD Meredith Bilski Editor-in-Chief William Janover Managing Editor Connor McGuigan Deputy Managing Editor Cara Newlon Deputy Managing Editor Georgia Tollin Deputy Managing Editor Jason Hu Creative Director

CORREC TION Due to an editing error, an article in Tuesday’s Herald (“Rhode Island Foundation bolsters state economy,” March 12) incorrectly stated that the Civic Leadership Fund funds the foundation’s grant programs. In fact, it is an annual fundraising campaign that raises money for immediate action instead of long-term grants. The Herald regrets the error.


“Humidification and flattening of parchment has now become quite controversial.” —Abigail Quandt, manuscript conservator See manuscripts on page 8.


CORRECTIONS POLICY 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 M M 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. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR POLICY Send letters to 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 POLICY The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.

opinions 7


The misinformed oppositon to transgender health care CARA DORRIS Opinions Columnist Cheryl K. Chumley of the Washington Times recently asked her readers, “Looking for a free sex change operation?” Her answer was simple: “Enroll at Brown University.” She is talking about the Brown Student Health Insurance Plan’s decision to cover sexual reassignment procedures, beginning in August. She is not the only one fuming. “Fox and Friends” co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade have mocked Brown and its transgender students on television. Newspapers around the country have released hateful op-eds, accompanied by a slew of transphobic comments. Even The Herald’s own readers have expressed their indignation toward the decision. There are two popular arguments against this type of coverage: 1. Now that treatment is essentially free, more students will be motivated to undergo the surgery. 2. The policy is unfair to other students who are “unhappy” with their bodies but cannot have their surgeries covered. Both of these are more illogical than they are offensive. First of all, one must meet rigorous requirements before undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. It is not something one decides to have on a whim. There are years

of counseling. There are letters of recommendation from mental health professionals and numerous consultations. Many patients have been waiting for years, unable to afford surgery, while living full-time as the opposite gender. Doctors are extremely reluctant to operate, and there are few providers. The surgery itself is a multistep process from which it takes years to recover. It is extremely painful and does not even prevent transgender individuals from being targeted. After surgery, they may encounter job loss, intimacy issues and rejection from friends and family.

up in the wrong prison. Imagine wearing the opposite sex’s swimsuit to the beach. Things on the surface — your clothing, your hairstyle — can be modified, but everything underneath belongs to a stranger. The depth of this dysphoria: In a dream you can feel your body as something else but you will never wake up like that. Now imagine waiting, working and saving money for 20 years of your life — not to fix your problems, but just to face the problems someone of your correct gender would face. Many of us do not know what this feels like and thankfully never will. It is easy to be in-

One must meet rigorous requirements before undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. It is not something one decides to have on a whim. Consequently, sexual reassignment surgery is not comparable to “cosmetic” surgeries like rhinoplasty or liposuction. This surgery does not update or modify. It aims to create something that was never there: the correct biological sex. Adversaries will argue that these individuals already have a perfectly good sex. But they do not understand the pervasiveness of gender. We live in a divided world. We may not like the gender binary, but we cannot deny its existence. Everywhere you turn — the bathroom, the clothing store, the changing room — you are constantly reminded of your gender. Imagine committing a crime and ending

sensitive if you are not aware that 41 percent of transgender individuals have attempted suicide, according to a survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. To put this in perspective, the general population average for attempted suicide is 1.6 percent. It is shocking that it is 2013 and transgender individuals are casually mocked on national television. The same hosts would be fired for mocking homosexuality, but in this case they do not lose their jobs. Meanwhile, 90 percent of transgender individuals have been harassed and discriminated against in their own jobs, according to the previous survey.

No, we cannot ignore the cost. Yes, the surgery has to be subsidized somehow. But the number of candidates is miniscule. According to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, in 2010 there were between 1,600 and 2,000 people who underwent the surgery in the entire nation. And keep in mind that Brown is far from the first school to cover sexual reassignment procedures. Top universities — like Harvard, Stanford University, Cornell, Northwestern University and Penn — are among 31 others to already do so, in addition to 26 that cover partial treatment. As of now, the Brown Student Health Insurance Plan covers a myriad of procedures. If you want to stop smoking, Brown will cover cessation treatment. If you are a woman and become sexually active, Brown will pay for oral contraceptives. If you become pregnant from unprotected sex, Brown will cover an abortion. If, for some reason, you need a CAT scan, an MRI, a speech test, a physical therapy session and up to $100,000 per policy year of prescription drugs, Brown will pay for that, too. But until recently, if your biological sex and gender did not match up, Brown would not cover surgery. We need to remember that transgender individuals already face discrimination. Their lives are not easy. We do not all have to support Brown’s coverage of sexual reassignment surgery, but we need to be tolerant of those seeking it. Cara Dorris ’15 can be reached at

What is the value of higher education? BY ARMANI MADISON Opinions Columnist Higher education is now widely accepted as an essential step to future success. But at what price can we justify the gain we get from this — at least — four-year experience? I recently watched an insightful and personally inspirational video on YouTube by a spoken word poet named Suli Breaks, entitled “Why I Hate School but Love Education,” which questions if school is necessarily a means to education. Breaks says that many who became successful without a college education were educated, but not necessarily in the fields that can be taught. He cites Richard Branson and Henry Ford, educated in business, innovation and entrepreneurship, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, educated in technological innovation and Vincent van Gogh, educated in making art. Thomas Edison, Wolfgang Puck, Michael J. Fox, Sean Connery, Halle Berry, Ellen DeGeneres and entrepreneurs Mary Kay Ash and Debbi Fields never attended or never graduated college. Even Brown’s Ted Turner ’60 was expelled before completing his degree. Some of these people were products of less education-centered times, and these are all rare cases of successes out of millions of failures, but the point is still there: What can we do with our degrees that we cannot do without them? What is the relevance and

purpose of a college degree in today’s society? Today, college degrees are required more universally than ever, and a struggling economy gives us far fewer job prospects and less security than were afforded generations past. How many years of school, how many extracurriculars, how much experience and how many connections must we accumulate before achieving “success”? In today’s economy, employment remains uncertain even after attaining de-

didn’t even need high school diplomas.” Many positions that could be attained a decade or two ago with a high school degree or some college now require associate’s and bachelor’s degrees at the least, often also calling for years of work in the relevant field. In 1973, “only 25.5 million jobs or 28 percent of jobs required a college degree.” By 2018, that number is expected to rise to 102.9 million, an increase of 63 percent in the number of all positions in America requiring a degree since 1973.

How many years of school, how many extracurriculars, how much experience and how many connections must we accumulate before achieving “success”?

grees of certification from institutions of higher learning. It is common to hear of bachelor’s degree holders working as waiters and baristas, of law school graduates being unable to find relevant positions, of unemployment and underemployment that leave former students wallowing in debt. A report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity concluded that, of collegeeducated Americans, “many of the jobs they do have aren’t worth the price of their diplomas,” and that “of 41.7 million working college graduates in 2010, about 48 percent of the class of 2010 work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent …

And when we get that job, how long do we stay? That halcyon career of yesteryear, where one stays in one place for decades, no longer exists. According to an article published in Forbes in August, “the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years ... but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.” So why pursue an advanced education? Breaks argues that many, if not most, of those who attend college will go on to work to enrich others. What, then, is the purpose of gaining a college degree in respect to our personal ambitions? Are we truly gaining

an education and learning new perspectives and ideas so that our lives will be self-guided, or are we just passing through these four years so that we can further our future employers’ agendas? Will we continue to pursue innovation and originality, or will we give it up for professionalism? I’m not implying that seeking a professional career is in any way “selling out to the man,” but we must seek never to allow the essence of our existences to be shrunk down to a sentence-long description or occupation. My interpretation of the “spirit of Brown” is that our goals should not be to necessarily accumulate wealth, but rather for us to acheive positive change in the world due to our efforts. What will you do with your hard work and your huge financial investment? Life should not be a tug-of-war between personal fulfillment and economic stability. Breaks says this: “Decide what your life is worth: your passion or your paycheck.” But there should not be a choice between passions and paychecks, between the dreary and unfulfilling working experience and personal accomplishments and fulfillment. Rather, there should be opportunity to do both simultaneously. In regard to our education and life pursuits, we should not be defined or limited by precedent or external expectations. Armani Madison ’16 has an affinity for holding conversations over topics like these in a Southern accent. He can be reached at

daily herald science & research THE BROWN


Speaker describes preserving medieval texts A lecturer emphasized the ‘controversial’ role of humidification and flattening techniques By MARI LEGAGNOUX CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The process of conserving medieval books requires knowledge of specific materials, art history and bookbinding, said Abigail Quandt, head of the department of Book and Paper Conservation at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore in a lecture at the John Carter Brown Library Tuesday night. Her talk, which drew a crowd of about 25 community members, focused on three of Quandt’s major conservation efforts: “The Rochester Bible,” “The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux” and the “Archimedes Palimpsest.” Quandt said she wanted to highlight projects that “represent a kind of evolution in technique but also a new way of looking at how we conserve and preserve medieval manuscripts.” When she began working on the “Rochester Bible” in 1984, it had been damaged by age, she said. “It really could not be safely handled,” she added. She first removed the damaged binding and the thick layers of glue on the spine. “When you’re taking a book apart, it’s a really ideal opportunity to record features about how the book was made,” she said. “The Rochester Bible” was made from high quality calfskin, she added, and the writing was iron gall ink, a standard medium throughout the middle ages.

“Unfortunately, at some point the manuscript had been attacked by mold and bacteria,” Quandt said, displaying pictures of stained pages. When bacteria eat pages, they stain them with pigment and make them “weaker and spongier,” she added. For areas damaged in this way, she must apply internal adhesive to strengthen the parchment enough to be repaired, she said. The next step was to clear layers of dirt, soot and debris off the parchment, she said. Then she had to remove the bookbinding glue to make the text more flexible, after which she humidified the pages. “Humidification and flattening of parchment has now become quite controversial,” she said. Some conservators feel the process is too dangerous, but “it’s tough, because if your parchment is really distorted and you’ve got all kinds of problems in terms of abrasion or handling, you’ve got to do something,” Quandt said. After the humidification process, she stitches up any tears or holes and dries the pages on a frame and then under pressure. For mending purposes, she uses transparent membranes like goldbeater’s skin — the outer membrane of ox intestine — and fish skin, which is found in a fish’s swim bladder. Then she adds any necessary reinforcements and re-binds the book, Quandt said. She followed a similar process with the other two texts, “The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux” and the “Archimedes Palimpsest.” She began working on “The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux” when the Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to digitize the manuscript. The

book is only four inches tall, and its parchment is “so supple, it’s almost translucent,” she said. “The main issue was how to work on something so tiny and thin without it just going crazy,” Quandt said. She referred to the suction device she used to keep the parchment under control as a “godsend.” The last work, the “Archimedes Palimpsest,” took her 12 years to finish. It was assembled around 1229 AD from seven different discarded Greek texts, but it had been altered dramatically and overlaid by forged material in many places. Quandt said she was surprised and disappointed to find two types of glue along the spine — traditional hide glue and a more modern synthetic glue that had become water insoluble with age. The modern glue slowed and, in some cases, completely prevented disbinding because the glue was stronger than the parchment itself. In other sections of the text, the iron gall ink had actually degraded the parchment. “This was an alarming discovery,” Quandt said. “Of course, the scientists said, ‘Aah! You can’t do anything to this book — you’re going to damage it!’ And I said, ‘But I’ve got to take it apart!’” She decided to use a device to spray gelatin mist to stabilize and consolidate the ink. James Robertson, a visiting John Carter Brown Library fellow and professor at the University of the West Indies, said Quandt’s lecture provided great explanations for the different conservation techniques. “It was wonderful to be able to be shown these things at a microscopic level,” he said.

Poet examines sexism, transphobia in talk In a lecture and spoken word pieces, author Julia Serano dug into overlapping ‘-isms’ By KATE DESIMONE STAFF WRITER

“If one more person tells me that ‘all gender is performance,’ I think I am going to strangle them,” proclaimed Julia Serano, author and spoken word performer, in the opening of her spoken word piece “Performance Piece.” The piece was one of two Serano performed after her lecture about the intersections of different types of marginalization, including racism, sexism and transphobia. The event, held in Metcalf Auditorium Tuesday night, was hosted by the Pride Series and Queer Alliance as part of Women’s History Month. It concluded with a question-and-answer session. In her talk, entitled “The Intersection of Feminism, Queer and Trans Politics,” Serano discussed the problems with characterizing marginalization as “unilateral” and argued that the issue is much more complex than “oppressors, oppressed, end of story.” As an example, Serano said sexism does not always entail men oppressing women. Leaders of “second-wave” feminism in the 1960s and ’70s, such


as Betty Friedan, fought against traditional sexism but excluded lesbians from their movement, she said. In fact, Serano said, different forms of “-isms” can overlap, exacerbating each other’s effects. It is not the case that “racism happens over here, sexism happens over here” — these forms of oppression cannot be confined to particular areas of a person’s life, Serano said. Serano spoke of her own experiences with trans-misogyny, a form of sexism specifically targeting people on the “trans female/feminine spectrum,” as she wrote in one of her lecture slides. Sexism and stereotypes target transgender men and women in different ways, she said. While transgender men are often assumed to have transitioned in order to benefit from “male privilege,” transgender women are often perceived to have transitioned for sexual reasons, leading to their hypersexualization in media portrayals, she added. Serano earned snaps from the audience when her presentation moved to what she called “the obligatory explaining ‘cis’ slide.” Before the term ‘cisgender’ was coined, there was no specific term to describe someone who was not transgender, Serano said, so people might have said a woman was a “normal” or “biological woman” in contrast to a “trans woman.” “I am not inorganic or not biological in any form,” Serano said, prompt-

ing laughter from the audience. She described how naming people with a label such as “bisexual” or “transgender” marks them as abnormal, especially when there is no commonly used label for people outside those groups. In her discussion of her new book, Serano admitted that hearing about “newly articulated forms of sexism” keeps her awake at night. The oppression of bisexuality, transsexuality and asexuality has only recently been captured in the specific terms of “monosexism,” “cissexism” and “asexophobia,” she said. Since these terms are fairly new, Serano said she is concerned there could be other groups whose marginalization has not yet been recognized. In addition to oppression present throughout society, there are forms of marginalization that are specific to queer communities and subcultures, Serano said. Even in gay or lesbian communities, there is a sense of masculine-centrism whereby feminine identities remain suspect. Serano also described “subversivism” in queer communities, where people with more conservative gender or sexual identities might be marginalized due to the perception that they are conforming to a mainstream, oppressive system. Kyle Albert ’15, an organizer for the event, said he is a fan of Serano’s work and that her talk fits into Women’s History Month’s theme of intersecting movements.



Researchers discover new treatment for drug-resistant HIV Scientists at the Miriam Hospital found that patients with drug-resistant strains of HIV can suppress the virus through treatment plans that do not include the typical HIV drugs, GoLocalProv reported last week. The research was led by Professor of Medicine Karen Tashima, who serves as the director of the HIV Clinical Trials Program at the hospital. Patients with HIV are typically treated with drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, GoLocalProv reported. But “some patients have developed within-class resistance, making the NRTIs less effective overall. Therefore, drugs from this class may not be needed if the new treatment plan contains more effective medications,” Tashima said in the article. More than 400 HIV patients participated in the study, GoLocalProv reported. Half of the study participants were treated with both NRTIs and different types of drugs, while half received only the different drugs.

Genes linked to preterm birth Nineteen different genetic pathways may be associated with preterm birth, according to a study led by researchers at Brown and Women and Infants Hospital, published in the March issue of the journal Genomics. One in eight women gives birth to preterm infants — meaning the infants are born at less than 37 weeks of gestation — creating “enormous clinical, economic and psychological burdens,” according to the study. Most interventions to prevent preterm birth have been aimed at “common pathways associated with labor,” like cervical ripening, the researchers wrote. But these have been largely ineffective. Previous research has identified genes associated with preterm birth, but understanding its cause requires determining how those different genes interact with each other and with “environmental triggers,” according to the study. The researchers conducted computational analyses on both genes that had previously been associated with preterm birth and entire genomes. They identified 19 genetic pathways that may cause mothers to give birth before 30 weeks of gestation. “These results provide important confirmation of the role of genetic architecture in the risk of preterm birth,” the researchers wrote in the study, though they added that their results should be considered a hypothesis, as they have not yet been replicated.

Protein limits effects of spermdestroyer A specific protein may inhibit a gene that destroys variations of sperm, according to a new study led by Selena Gell Ph.D.’12 and published in the journal Genetics earlier this month. Researchers have previously examined the effects of a specific gene known as the segregation distorter, which targets sperm with genetic information different from its own. SD prevents the different sperm cells from dividing, according to a University press release. “This is a real cheater, a real stinker,” said Robert Reenan, professor of biology and senior author of the study, in the press release. “Most genes, like most people, are good, upstanding citizens, but some genes want to hog all the resources, hog all the benefit.” A specific piece of genetic code called “Responder” makes the variations of sperm that SD targets even more susceptible to damage. The researchers knew that a specific protein called Aubergine inhibits the effects of Responder, which led them to hypothesize that it might also affect SD. In their study, the researchers mutated Aubergine in fruit flies and found that the mutation in the protein enhanced the success of SD. This led the researchers to conclude that Aubergine limits the negative effects of SD through its interaction with Responder.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013  

The March 13, 2013 issue of The Brown Daily Herald

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