vol. cxlviii, no. 45
björk, bunratty, breakfast for dinner
Students seek to balance professional goals, liberal learning Many students find their academic interests shifting elsewhere over time, often pointing to ‘weeder’ introductory science courses as a deterrent By JESSICA BRODSKY SCIENCE & RESEARCH STAFF WRITER
Blank Canvas Campus expresses concern over online transition Page 6
Tap your heels “Wizard of Oz”-themed rally boosts bill to help homeless today
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THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
The Open Curriculum and nearly two-year window for students to declare a concentration give Brown students the freedom to change their STEM 0010 Part 3 of 4 minds about their academic interests — inAn examination of introductory science cluding students courses at Brown who come to Brown considering concentrating in engineering or pursuing the premedical school track. The decision to study science depends on many factors and is often influenced in part by students’ experiences in introductory science courses. Some students said their courses sorted out students from engineering
or the pre-med track, while others said they found different academic interests to explore. Moving ‘into the unknown’ Many Brown students said they view certain introductory science courses as “weeder” courses — courses that filter students out of a concentration or an academic track based on whether they can succeed in that class. For example, many students said they consider CHEM 0350: “Organic Chemistry” a “weeder” course. “The mindset that the school creates when entering an orgo class is like, ‘Your semester is going to be hell — your life is going to be hell — if you’re in orgo,” said Frances Brittingham ’14, who is currently pursuing the pre-med track. Eleanor Siden ’15 started out on the / / STEM page 5
ZEIN KHLEIF / HERALD
CHEM 0350: “Organic Chemistry” and ENGN 0510: “Electricity and Magnetism” are two courses students said caused them to change tracks.
TRI-Lab launch brings awareness to social issues FEC endorses In its first year, the lab will foster collaborative discussion about childhood development By MICHAEL DUBIN STAFF WRITER
The University announced the launch of the TRI-Lab — an initiative aimed to unite students, faculty members and community partners to address social issues collaboratively — at an event Wednesday morning at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The lab will be piloted starting this fall and will focus on early childhood development in its first year. The initiative was designed by the Swearer
SCIENCE & RESEARCH
ALEXANDRA URBAN / HERALD
The TRI-Lab initiative was unveiled Wednesday morning at an event featuring speakers from the University and community.
Center based on conversations with 200 students, faculty members and community members. Stephen Buka, professor of epidemiology and chair of the department, and Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, will serve as the TRI-Lab faculty co-chair and community co-chair, respectively, for the 2013-14 pilot of the TRI-Lab. Around 175 people attended the launch, which featured remarks from a variety of University and Rhode Island officials. Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron spoke of the TRI-Lab as an important curricular development and a realization of the University’s academic philosophy. “A 21st century education needs to actually be amplified with more realworld, hands/ / TRI-Lab page 4
Wes Craven to headline Ivy Film Festival Brad Simpson ‘95, producer of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and ‘World War Z’ will also speak By KATHERINE CUSUMANO SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Cold-blooded murderers, rock-and-roll has-beens and undercover spies are among the diverse individuals featured in this year’s Ivy Film Festival selections. IFF released its annual screening and event lineup, which will run April 8 to 14, on the group’s website Wednesday. The keynote speaker this year is Wes Craven, director of iconic horror films such as “Scream,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Hills Have Eyes.” A midnight screening of “Scream” — sponsored by the Late Night Fund — will precede the keynote address. “He is the master of horror, especially for our generation,” said Evan Sumortin ’13, IFF executive director. “He is a visionary.” Many of the films in this year’s can-
on are drawn from Sundance Film Festival and were obtained through IFF’s relationship with Fox Searchlight Films, said Mahima Chawla ’13, co-director of IFF. Chawla said she is most excited for “The Way, Way Back,” a coming-ofage comedy to be screened at the Avon Monday. It was well received at Sundance, she said, adding that it should appeal to the Brown community. The IFF program provides a platform for important documentaries to reach a college audience, Sumortin said. Among these documentaries is the Javier Bardem-narrated “Sons of the Clouds,” which explores the human price of colonialism in the Western Sahara of Africa, a region that now encompasses Morocco. Another documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man,” recounts the tale of two South African fans who try to track
down ’70s rock star Sixto Rodriguez. “It’s going to be the sort of capstone for our ‘Stories for Change’ series,” Sumortin said. “Stories for Change” is a succession of documentary screenings sponsored by IFF that has been taking place throughout the academic year to inspire debate about contentious films. “After Tiller” follows the lives and daily struggles of the four currently remaining late-term abortion doctors following the 2009 assassination of physician George Tiller, and demonstrates the role of film in exploring difficult subject matter, Sumortin said. It highlights a controversial topic on which students have strong opinions, making it an ideal festival pick, he added. This year, a panel discussion will emphasize the role of the producer in development, finance and marketing of a film, he said. “A lot of people don’t really understand what the producer does,” he added. Speakers will include Christine Va-
chon ’83, producer of Oscar-nominated “Far From Heaven,” Brad Simpson ’95, producer of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and this summer’s “World War Z,” and Michael Shamberg, producer of Oscarnominated “Django Unchained,” “Garden State” and “Pulp Fiction.” “This is a heavyweight panel,” Sumortin said. Among other featured guests is Mira Nair, director of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” one of the festival’s documentary screenings, which IFF will co-sponsor with the Brown International Organization. The film, starring Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber, focuses on themes of culture, race and gender, Sumortin said. Mark Heyman ’02 will lead an hourlong master class in screenwriting for the festival. He will examine particular passages of his first major feature, “Black Swan” and describe the process of translating writing to the screen. / / IFF page 8 Heyman
expanding ombuds post to full-time Under the proposed changes, undergrads could seek advice from the ombudsperson By MAX SCHINDLER CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The University may convert the ombudsperson position to full-time and expand access for students and some employees starting in 2014, a move the Faculty Executive Committee recently voted to support. Ruth Rosenberg was hired to the post last year and currently works parttime, offering services for two and a half days weekly. The proposal to expand the position must now receive full faculty approval. Pending approval from the faculty, provost and president, undergraduates, graduate students and non-unionized staffers would be able to consult the ombudsperson’s office. The ombudsperson currently liaises with faculty members and post-doctoral students, Rosenberg said. The proposed changes would allow most members of the Brown community to seek the ombudsperson’s services in dealing with workplace tension, personal problems or faculty disputes. The ombudsperson’s office has handled 55 cases since the beginning of this academic year, Rosenberg said, adding that she has covered issues including the tenure process, promotion and supervisor relations. Every other Ivy League institution offers a full-time ombudsperson to employees except for Yale, which turned down a similar proposal last year, The Herald previ- / / Ombuds page 2
2 university news C ALENDAR TODAY
Vladimir Alexandrov Reading
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MENU SHARPE REFECTORY
LUNCH Cheese Ravioli with Pink Vodka Sauce, Chicken Broccoli Pasta Alfredo, Yellow Beans with Onions and Tomatoes
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad, Crispy Thai Tofu with Fresh Lime, Vegan Navy Bean Pepper Casserole
DINNER Texas BBQ Brisket, Italian Sausage and Pepper Sandwich, Parslied Rice, Broiled Stuffed Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper Jerk Chicken, Egg Foo Young, Sticky Rice, Edamame Beans with Tri-Colored Peppers
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
GSC supports expansion of ombuds office Divest Coal members also urged the council to support U. coal divestment By MAGGIE LIVINGSTONE SENIOR STAFF WRITER
The Graduate Student Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening calling for the expansion of the ombuds office’s jurisdiction to serve all graduate students and for the ombudsperson position to become a full-time post. The resolution will be given to President Christina Paxson and Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 immediately, said GSC President Matthew Lyddon GS. Ruth Rosenberg, the current faculty ombudsperson, was hired last spring part-time, The Herald previously reported. The ombudsperson is “an independent, confidential, neutral and informal resource” who serves as a confidant for concerned parties, according to the ombuds office’s mission statement. The ombudsperson now serves faculty
/ / Ombuds page 1 ously reported. Brown unionized staffers were not
members, post-doctoral students and associates exclusively. Lyddon underscored in the meeting that the Faculty Executive Committee recently passed a resolution supporting the ombuds office expansion and said he hoped that GSC’s passing of a similar resolution would demonstrate the graduate school community’s support for expanding this office. “This could be an important additional resource that we want for all graduate students,” Lyddon said. “And it’s now being discussed at a very high level, so our support could show how the graduate student body as a whole is behind this.” Two student representatives of Brown Divest Coal also spoke at the meeting and urged GSC members to pass a resolution supporting University divestment from the “15 filthiest coal companies.” The Divest Coal members encouraged the Council to create a resolution similar to that recently passed by the Undergraduate Council of Students, which would support divestment due to ethical and environmental concerns.
“Only 0.1 percent of our investments are in these 15 coal companies, so the University can take action immediately against them,” one of the Divest Coal representatives said in his presentation. The members cited 2,000 student signatures on a petition against University investment in coal companies and said a resolution from the GSC indicates Brown students’ commitment to divestment because graduate students are an “integral part of the Brown community.” But the Council did not discuss the prospect of passing a resolution at the meeting. Lyddon told The Herald that a busy agenda and the fact that no GSC member has yet drafted a resolution pushed conversation about divestment to next month’s meeting. Three potential graduate school student commencement speakers delivered their proposed speeches at the meeting, and GSC members then deliberated and voted on whom they deemed the best candidate. Ben Raymond GS, a master’s candidate in education studies and former Master’s Advocate for the Council, was elected speaker by a margin of 30 out of about 34 votes.
included in the proposal because FEC members felt that they did not require the ombudsperson’s services, said Harold Roth, professor of religious studies
and East Asian studies and a member of the FEC. “Unionized employees have their own means of dealing with the grievances at the University,” Roth said. “They have somebody in charge of their grievances, so it’s redundant.” Karen McAninch, a business agent for the United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island chapter, said the union did not understand the rationale to limit ombudsperson access. About 20 to 25 percent of University employees are unionized, McAninch added. “It would seem on face value that there’s no reason why union employees should be excluded,” McAninch said. “I don’t see how that would take away any union rights.” In terms of unionized employees, most are not covered by the ombudsperson at peer institutions, Rosenberg said. “I’ve talked to many of my colleagues and there are all kind of reasons,” for not including unionized workers, she said. Her office meets periodically with President Christina Paxson to discuss the group of people who visit and the types of issues they raise. “I can act as an early warning and give her a different perspective on the types of issues going on,” Rosenberg said. Rosenberg said she neither records nor discloses the identities of visitors to anyone outside her office, except in the case of imminent harm and criminal liability. Matthew Lyddon GS, president of the Graduate Student Council, expressed enthusiasm about the possibility of expanding the ombudsperson’s responsibility to include all students. The GSC passed a resolution at its meeting Wednesday supporting expanding the ombudsperson to a fulltime position and to extend the ombuds office to all graduate students. The motion was passed unanimously, and Lyddon said this would serve as a measure to demonstrate to the University that graduate students as a whole are committed to this issue.
FRANK MULLIN / BROWN ALUMNI MAGAZINE
Ruth Rosenberg currently serves as the University’s part-time ombudsperson, and works two-and-a-half days per week.
www.browndailyherald.com 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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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
U.’s final transition to Canvas causes controversy The change has revealed campus concerns about the efficiency of the University’s various online resources By GABRIELLE DEE STAFF WRITER
The end of this semester marks the completion of the University’s two-year transition to replace MyCourses, the Blackboard-based learning management system, with Canvas. The transition to Canvas comes amid concerns from some faculty members and students that the functions of the University’s digital platforms overlap with each other. Blackboard programs will still be available for professors who choose to use them in the future, but the University will no longer maintain the sites, said Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron. “The reason why we moved to Canvas is that the Blackboard product was going to have a big (software) upgrade,” and students and faculty members would have had to learn how to use the updated version of MyCourses, Bergeron said. Administrators chose to switch to Canvas, a cloud-based software program, because it automatically updates weekly, Bergeron said. The University will save money that would have been spent on Blackboard updates, Bergeron added. Canvas joins a host of other digital platforms the University uses for academic and administrative purposes, including Banner, the advising website Advising Sidekick and the syllabus and course information website courses. brown.edu. Some students and faculty members expressed concern that the University’s multiple web platforms are inefficient and wasteful. David Weinberger ’16 said he found the multiple websites “annoying” and that he has trouble recalling which of his courses have made the jump to Canvas and which ones continue to use MyCourses. “Why can’t we have it all in one website?” said Matthew Min ’15, adding that he does not see much value in
ASK, an advising website designed by the University. Yukiko Watanabe ’16 said she rarely uses ASK but accesses Canvas to find assignments’ content and grades. She said that though Canvas is easy to navigate, the site has “too many tabs” and could be simplified. “I’m less confused and more inconvenienced” by the University’s use of multiple digital platforms, said Audrey Chang ’15. The University should consider expanding its use of Google for interacting with students, since community members already have Brown-run Gmail accounts, Chang said. She added that the multiple websites may benefit faculty members by giving them more flexibility in organizing their courses. But Bergeron stressed the key differences between the University’s websites. ASK is used by advisers to access student information like Brown ID pictures and internal transcripts, she said, and it is constantly being developed. Banner serves a distinctly different purpose, Bergeron said. Banner is an information sharing system that addresses all aspects of student life, from meal plans to enrollment details. The site acts like a “physical plant,” Bergeron said. “It helps the University run.” Some faculty members said they have experienced difficulty using the different platforms. “ASK is fantastic — the rest suck,” said Professor of Computer Science Shriram Krishnamurthi. The problem with Canvas is that it “locks down information so people (outside of Brown) can’t use it,” Krishnamurthi said. One of the benefits of posting course material online is the ability to share information with colleagues, he said. Instructors can improve their courses by looking at syllabi for similar courses at other schools, but Canvas makes these resources inaccessible to anyone outside of the University, Krishnamurthi said. In fact, instructors have the option to make their courses publicly visible under the Settings tab on Canvas. “It shouldn’t be that complicated,” said Barrett Hazeltine, professor of engineering emeritus, adding that it takes a while to access various course
Alum’s new site targets college-age shoppers While abroad, Jessica Lam ‘03 was inspired to create fashion shopping website PandaSundae By MARIA BUGANE CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Jessica Lam ’03 was working at a private investment fund in Hong Kong four years ago when she had the idea for her own company. “I didn’t think I was really adding value to my work,” Lam said. “I wanted to figure out a way to leverage my finance and consulting experience but still do what I love, which is fashion.” Feeling as if she was just contributing “numbers in a spreadsheet,” Lam and Bowdoin alum Katie Hernandez launched the startup PandaSundae, an e-commerce brand that targets female
college students in the United States and Hong Kong. As the website develops, Lam said, the goal is to make PandaSundae an “interactive brand” that includes blogs and forums students can access to for entrepreneurial tips and to learn about opportunities. Lam, who grew up in Hong Kong, met Hernandez right after college when they began consulting in a startup company. Since then, Lam has gone to business school in Columbia, worked for SAKS New York and gained experience through different internships in the fashion industry. She said she felt like she gained knowledge participating in different aspects of the business industry, but the difficult part was figuring out a marketing strategy. She decided to work for Gucci to better understand the American consumer pool. At Gucci, “I finally understood what I / / Site page 8 wanted to do,”
Brown’s primary web applications
Canvas: The continuously updated site will include all courses by the end of this semester.
MyCourses: The University is phasing out the Blackboard-run site in favor of Canvas.
ASK: The University’s specialized advising website allows students to upload their best written work and other academic materials.
Banner: Students shop and register for courses on this site. They also use it to access dining services and financial aid information.
materials on the websites. “Students can find things fairly quickly,” but accessing materials in Canvas “still requires a certain amount of searching,” he said. “It’s good for posting information,” Hazeltine said. “Just make it a little easier
to work through.” Hazeltine said he currently receives help from a junior in his class to operate Canvas. “People go off and make bad software decisions,” Krishnamurthi said,
adding that he thinks the same set of administrators continue to push through misguided software choices. Krishnamurthi said he currently has his own web page for course material on the computer science department’s website.
4 science & research / / TRI-lab page 1 on experiences,” Bergeron told The Herald, adding that the TRI-Lab could put Brown at the forefront of public service education. “(The TRI-Lab seminar) requires students to draw on the fullest range of capacities and skills that we associate with a liberal education,” she said at the launch. “I really think of it as the classroom of the future.” Bergeron said Brown attracts students who want to make connections between the classroom and the world outside. “The TRI-Lab allows a platform for them to make those connections and to make that difference,” she said. Similarly, President Christina Paxson said it is the University’s job to place students and faculty members in a position to wrestle with social issues and search for solutions to them. The TRI-Lab will generally have three year-long phases, Director of the Swearer Center for Public Service and Associate Dean of the College for Community and Global Engagement Roger Nozaki MAT’89 told The Herald. The pilot will begin with the
second phase. During the first year, the TRI-Lab will host conferences and other conversations to identify a topic of interest. “Community-based courses” could be one form of dialogue during the first phase, Bergeron told The Herald. The second phase —“the meat of the process” — will be a year-long seminar composed of 25 students, five faculty members and five community practitioners, Nozaki said, though he added that the pilot will likely have 10 students, three or four faculty members and three or four community practitioners. Research opportunities for students in the seminar will be a mix of community-based activities and analyses, Buka told The Herald. Student work will range from conducting developmental assessments of young children and household surveys to evaluating early education programs and performing economic analyses of government funding, he said at the launch. The TRI-Lab offers “the chance for students to come and work with the tools of the scholar, and the knowledge and experience of the community ex-
perts is really unparalleled,” Buka said. Seed grants will be available for participants in the third year to fund collaborative research and develop new courses and community initiatives, Paxson said. Nozaki told the The Herald the third year is “the implementation phase.” The structure of the program allows there to be multiple TRI-Labs operating simultaneously at different stages, Paxson said. Paxson said Bergeron and Nozaki approached her during her first week at Brown with the idea of a project that joined research, education and social engagement, and it was then developed over the course of the year by members of the Swearer Center. When a more detailed proposal was brought before the Committee on Educational Innovation in the fall, “it was love at first sight,” said Bergeron, who co-chairs the committee. The committee included the TRI-Lab in its interim report in January. Those who spoke at the launch said they were excited by the connections the TRI-Lab could forge among students, faculty members and the community.
“(The TRI-Lab) is the passion and creative vision of students linked with the commitment and knowledge of faculty and the community — in this case, the Rhode Island community,” Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts ’78 said. “This announcement and what you see here is a recognition that this is something that Brown is uniquely positioned to do, that Rhode Island is ready for, and you see community leaders here who are saying, ‘Yeah, we want to get involved.’” Buka characterized the TRI-Lab’s collaborative model as a means of focusing research in the right place. “Here at Brown we have a thirst for knowledge, we have a passion for serving, but it is good to remind us this alone is not enough,” Buka said. “Our efforts all too often take place too far removed from where we will be the most fruitful. Too often we’re putting our efforts where the light is brightest, not where the need is greatest.” Multiple speakers discussed the importance of the pilot TRI-Lab’s focus area, early childhood development. About 14,280 Rhode Island children live below the poverty line — near 20 percent of all children in the state,
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
with a large portion of them living at half the poverty line, a level indicating extreme poverty, Bryant said. “If you have to choose as to where one wants to influence the welfare of populations, starting early in life is the optimal place because it impacts so many different aspects of later functioning and well-being,” Buka told The Herald. Bryant said Rhode Island is the ideal location to work on early childhood development because of its diversity and small size, calling the state “a working laboratory.” “We’re a data-based organization. We’re going to have indicators of success,” Bryant said. “We’re going to focus like a laser beam on a couple of things that this can really contribute to a solution for and hold ourselves accountable for results.” “We hope that Rhode Island can be a national model for innovative approaches to improve the well-being of all children under five. So we’re hoping with partnerships to begin a process of transforming what has been business as usual,” Buka told The Herald. Graduate students and rising seniors can apply for the pilot seminar.
stem 0010 5
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
/ / STEM page 1 pre-med track but is now planning on concentrating in comparative literature. Looking back on her experience in CHEM 0350, she said, “It felt like a filter course, and I was disappointed with myself for not going to the second level (of organic chemistry), even though I didn’t want to, just because I didn’t want to be one of those people who was filtered out.” Similarly, many engineering students struggle with ENGN 0510: “Electricity and Magnetism,” a course that follows the two introductory engineering courses. Selena Buzinky ’15 said she enjoyed physics in high school and pursued engineering in her first two semesters at Brown. But while taking ENGN 0510 in her third semester, she had a change of heart. “It was taught really well. It’s just that I hated the content, and it was so hard,” Buzinky said. “I realized that I just wasn’t into the intense physics that engineering requires.” While many students said they view these courses as “weeder” courses, faculty members argued that they do not try to filter students out of their fields of interest. Both CHEM 0350 and ENGN 0510 challenge students to think in new ways and work with content they have never encountered before, faculty members said. “Organic chemistry is a very difficult discipline, I think, when people are first exposed to it,” said Sarah Taylor, instruction coordinator and science learning specialist at the Science Center. “It’s unlike any material
The freedom to change your mind “Sometimes people come to university with a preconceived notion of what it is that they ought to do, and they discover that this is not what they ultimately wanted to do,” said Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron. “They discover it for a variety of reasons.” Many students said they enroll in the first course of the engineering sequence, ENGN 0030: “Introduction to Engineering,” because they excelled in their science and math classes in high school. ENGN 0030 has about 220 students enrolled every year, Breuer said. A year later, only 120 to 150 students enroll in ENGN 0510, the third course in the engineering sequence, Breuer said. “I knew I wanted to be in the sciences, so a natural starting point would probably be engineering,” said Matteo Ziff ’14, who studied engineering for three semesters before switching to applied math. During that time, he realized that his interests extended beyond the engineering track, he said. “I like doing political science, but I also like doing engineering-type things. With (applied math) I can actually do that. And that’s a lot more satisfying than following one track,” Ziff said. Breuer said students’ decisions to not pursue engineering do not necessarily reflect negatively on the program. “People are experimenting with different things,” Breuer said. “Just because someone leaves engineering, that’s not really attrition — they just
“Just because someone leaves engineering, that’s not really attrition — they just changed their mind. ”
Kenneth Breuer ’82 P’14 P’16 Professor of Engineering and Senior Associate Dean of Engineering for Academic Programs
they’ve ever seen. People are learning a new language. They have to think three dimensionally, which people have often never had to do.” Kenneth Breuer ’82 P’14 P’16, professor of engineering and senior associate dean of engineering for academic programs, described ENGN 0510 as the course where students “really move into the unknown.” “There’s a time when you break out of what you’ve been doing and break into — and you sort of work your way into — a new area,” Breuer said. “I think there’s growing pains that go with that course.” Some of the students who struggled with CHEM 0350 and ENGN 0510 still said they valued the new ways of thinking taught in these courses. “It was like some other part of your brain opens up, which is really cool,” Siden said.
changed their mind. Attrition has this negative connotation, which I think is unfair.” Allan Bower, professor of engineering, who teaches ENGN 0040: “Dynamics and Vibrations,” the second course in the engineering sequence, said retention is not as important as helping students pursue their academic interests.. “We’re beaten up over retention to some extent, but really the purpose here isn’t to be producing engineers. It’s to help students find what they really want to do,” Bower said. Like the rest of their peers, students in the engineering sequence declare their concentration near the end of their sophomore year. At other schools, engineers must declare their focus within engineering in their first year, Breuer said. But at Brown, all potential engineering concentrators pursue a common core of engineering courses for two years.
Engineering core courses ▶▶ APMA 0330: “Methods of Applied Mathematics I” ▶▶ APMA 0340: “Methods of Applied Mathematics II” ▶▶ CHEM 0330: “Equilibrium, Rate and Structure” ▶▶ CSCI 0040: “Introduction to Scientific Computing and Problem Solving” or a biology course (track dependent) ▶▶ ENGN 0030: “Introduction to Engineering” ▶▶ ENGN 0040: “Dynamics and Vibrations” ▶▶ ENGN 0410: “Materials Science” ▶▶ ENGN 0510: “Electricity and Magnetism” ▶▶ ENGN 0520: “Electrical Circuits and Signals” ▶▶ ENGN 0720: “Thermodynamics” ▶▶ ENGN 0310: “Mechanics of Solids and Structures” or ENGN 0810: “Fluid Mechanics” (track dependent) ▶▶ MATH 0190: “Advanced Placement Calculus (Physics/Engineering)” ▶▶ MATH 0200: “Intermediate Calculus (Physics/Engineering)”
Recommended pre-medical courses ▶▶ Two biology courses with labs (can include BIOL 0200: “The Foundation of Living Systems”) ▶▶ BIOL 0280: “Introductory Biochemistry” (encouraged) ▶▶ CHEM 0100: “Introduction to Chemistry” or a more advanced chemistry course (or BIOL 0280) ▶▶ CHEM 0330: “Equilibrium, Rate and Structure” ▶▶ CHEM 0350: “Organic Chemistry” ▶▶ CHEM 0360: “Organic Chemistry” ▶▶ PHYS 0030: “Basic Physics” (or more advanced) ▶▶ PHYS 0040: “Basic Physics” (or more advanced) ▶▶ Two English, literature or composition courses ▶▶ Two mathematics courses, including one calculus That common core is “in synergy with the Open Curriculum,” Breuer said, adding that it “fits in well with the structure of the University” because it gives concentrators the freedom to explore different kinds of engineering before they specialize. For pre-med students, “foundational science courses are very important, because they inform the choice of a student to pursue a concentration or health profession,” said George Vassilev, director of pre-professional advising and assistant dean of the College. Before applying to health profession schools, students must complete about 12 pre-med requirement classes in addition to concentration requirements. “There’s a pressure to start those requirements from day one,” said Christine Moon ’13.5, a pre-med student. As a Health Careers Peer Advisor, she said she has noticed that students start to reflect on their decision to be premed as they work their way through the requirements. “I have thought for a long time that I want to be a doctor, but when I came to Brown I had all these options open,” Brittingham said. “I don’t believe that the reason you come to Brown is to take the pre-med courses and get out and go to med school. Brown has an open curriculum for a reason — the idea is to explore things that you haven’t had an opportunity to explore before.” Pre-med students said they struggle with the relevance of their courses to their interest in the health profession. “A lot of the problems I have with pre-med here is that it’s not pre-medicine. It’s pre-pure chem, or pre-pure
math or pre-pure physics,” said Jake Moffett ’15, who used to be on the pre-med track. “Because I didn’t know what medicine was, it just seemed too risky.” “It’s hard to judge whether you’d like med school or medicine based on your physics or chemistry class,” Moon said. All about the grades? For many students, including potential engineering concentrators, Brown may be the first school where they do not immediately excel at a subject. “The people that get discouraged are the people that don’t get the grades they’re used to getting, and it’s usually the people at the top of the B range,” Bower said. “They take that as a reflection that they’re just not able to perform at the level they think is necessary for success.” But unlike in high school, students’
“You don’t want to shortchange your students to train them specifically in medicine, when a large percentage of them don’t get into med school.”
David Neumeyer Dean of Admission, Tufts University School of Medicine
grades may not be the best measures of success. During his three semesters of engineering, Ziff said he learned that “it’s not really about the grades anymore. It’s just more about whether you know the material.” ENGN 0030 is intended to “introduce students gently how to do college courses,” said Janet Blume, associate
This series will investigate introductory science courses at Brown, examining what draws students to a field, why they lose interest and how classes at Brown might change as the nation experiments with different styles of teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). You can read the entire series online at thebdh.org/stem.
Tuesday: The University has identified the quality of STEM courses as a priority in recent years. Class sizes can pose pedagogical challenges, and departments use many strategies to maximize the impact of introductory lectures. Yesterday: While many students are drawn to the life sciences, few take electives in the physical sciences. This story explores what draws a student to an introductory STEM class.
An examination of introductory science courses at Brown
professor of engineering and associate dean of the faculty. “One of the hardest lessons for students to learn is: Students got a place at Brown because they were used to excelling,” Taylor said. “A lot of students here weren’t experienced in how to cope with obstacles and setbacks, simply because it’s one of the first times they’ve ever been challenged in this way.” But pre-med students said grades appear to be a driving force for them, creating a competitive atmosphere in courses like CHEM 0350. Pre-med students who are certain they want to apply to medical school approach their pre-med classes with the sole goal of receiving an A in the course, Brittingham said. While students’ academic performance is a critical part of their application to medical school, one grade will not make or break their chances of admission, Vassilev said.
Today: Not everyone who takes introductory courses continues to take STEM classes. This article examines the reasons students change their minds and claims of “weeding” in pre-medical and engineering courses. Friday: The final story in the series examines pedagogical experiments undertaken at Brown and recommendations for future changes made by the Committee on Educational Innovation.
“It’s important to know that it’s a process, and if things don’t go perfectly, they can improve,” Vassilev said. A double-edged sword In the fall of 2014, students in the Program for Liberal Medical Education will be able to take a two-course sequence that will satisfy physics and chemistry requirements while emphasizing the subjects’ relation to health professions. Taylor expressed concern about the new courses designed for PLME students. Even if students are taught the content, they may not receive the same analytical training as students enrolled in the more traditional classes, Taylor said. “I cannot emphasize enough how much value added there is from students being trained in disciplines,” Taylor said. “To not give those their fair place, I / / STEM page 9
6 city & state
Bill proposes support for homeless A ‘Wizard of Oz’-themed rally asked that the state allocate $3 million to implement the legislation By EMILY BONEY SENIOR STAFF WRITER
A crowd of nearly 200 students, state residents and state legislators gathered Wednesday to support a bill for housing vouchers at a “Wizard of Oz”-themed rally. The bill — introduced in the House in February and currently pending review by the House Finance Committee — seeks $3 million for “rental asistance” and an additional $250,000 to increase the number of winter homeless shelters in the state. Supporters dressed as Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion greeted rally-goers as they entered the State House rotunda. Other protestors handed out signs bearing slogans like “There’s no place like home” and “Home is where the heart is.” The supporter dressed as Dorothy sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to quiet the crowd before Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Jim Ryzcek addressed the crowd. The plan to curb homelessness has already been created and approved
but needs government funding to be implemented, Ryzcek said. He said he is frequently asked where the plan’s multimillion dollar budget will come from and that it is not a lack of state funds but a misallocation of those resources that presents an obstacle. Eric Hirsch, professor of sociology at Providence College, spoke next. Rhode Island’s homeless population increased between 2011 and 2012, he said. “It is about failure. It’s about the failure of our housing market … and our government.” Housing prices and rent in Rhode Island are too high to afford on welfare or when earning the minimum wage, Hirsch added. To help the homeless, the General Assembly needs to fund the voucher system, he said. “We can end homelessness in Rhode Island, but it might take a little more than clicking our heels to make it happen,” he said. Rep. Scott Slater, D-Providence, one of the bill’s sponsors, saidhomelessness is “the most important issue” the state needs to address. “If you don’t know where you’re going to sleep at night, how can you worry about your math or English test scores?” Slater asked. Having a stable home is a “basic human right,” he said. “With a multimillion dollar budget,” he added, “we should be ashamed
that we can’t find $3 million for this.” Rhode Island’s government should make homelessness “a priority today,” said Sen. Elizabeth Crowley, D-Central Falls, Pawtucket and Cumberland, another sponsor, to a round of applause from the crowd. “Isn’t it a shame,” she added, that people in Rhode Island “have to make a choice between a roof over (their) heads or food in (their) bellies?” “It’s a disease, and we have a vaccine: It’s called a voucher,” she said. The legislators then stepped down to give Deborah, a state resident who was previously homeless for three years, a chance to tell her story. Deborah said she has been in and out of shelters around the state, many of which were overcrowded. “There was one with one shower and one toilet for 25 women,” she said. She now lives a “normal life” because of state housing assistance, she said. “There’s nothing like having your own place, it changes your whole life … I just thank God that I have a home.” “I feel more like a member of society,” said Scott, a Newport resident who recently emerged from homelessness. “How are great civilizations judged? By money? Power?” he asked. Sometimes, he said, great civilizations are best judged by “how well they treat their poor.”
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
SPOTLIGHT ON BY SONA MKR T TCHIAN THE STATEHOUSE CIT Y & STATE EDITOR Background checks Legislation that would require individuals interested in volunteering in the state’s public and private schools to undergo criminal background checks passed in the House of Representatives Thursday. Previously, this requirement only applied to school employees, but the bill — introduced by Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick and Cranston — will extend the measure to all employees and volunteers who interact with school-aged children in the state’s schools. “As programs that rely on or use volunteers grow in school settings, adding this language to law is the safe and responsible thing to do,” McNamara said in a General Assembly press release. “We don’t want to stand in the way of volunteerism in schools, but we want to put student safety first.” The bill will now head to the Senate for review.
School safety Committees in the General Assembly held hearings Wednesday on a package of bills developed in conjunction with Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 office to increase the efficacy of school safety measures in Rhode Island. “The tragedy in Connecticut has prompted us to move aggressively to review our current procedures and to make sure our laws and regulations are explicit in their implementation requirements,” said Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick and Cranston, in reference to the December 2012 shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, according to a General Assembly press release. In the House, the committee on Health Education and Wellness reviewed two bills that aim to improve emergency planning procedures by increasing dialogue between the Department of Education and individual schools, as well as between schools and local law enforcement. The Senate reviewed three bills to prevent and respond to acts of violence in schools. One would augment mental health resources, a second would institute reviews of school “safety plans” and a third would institutionalize collaboration between different state agencies — such as the Department of Education, the Department of Behavioral Health and the state police. “Nothing in this legislation should give any suggestion that school safety plans in Rhode Island are not well-designed,” said Sen. Hanna Gallo, D-Cranston and West Warwick in the press release. “Today we are announcing steps to make Rhode Island students safer and more secure.”
Polling places The House of Representatives passed legislation this week to amend current election laws so that state residents who remain in line after polling places close on election day receive an opportunity to cast their ballots. Across the state, polling places are obligated to close their doors at 8 p.m. on election day, and, under previous law, any voters not directly inside of the building at that time were turned away and not allowed to cast a vote. The House bill — sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence — will change regulations so that any residents in line, whether inside or outside of the polling place, will have an opportunity to vote in the elections. “If voters arrived on time and are faced with a line, if they’re willing to stand in to do their civic duty, they shouldn’t be turned away,” Ajello said in a General Assembly press release.
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THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
R.I. General Assembly receives poor marks on transparency A nonprofit group gave the legislature a ‘D’ grade, citing the difficulty of finding legislative data By STEVEN MICHAEL STAFF WRITER
The Rhode Island General Assembly earned a grade of D on a transparency report card released last month by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to increasing government openness. The report graded data presented on the websites of all 50 states’ legislatures using six criteria — thoroughness, promptness, accessibility, use of different electronic formats, quality and availability of archival information, said Liz Bartolomeo, media director at the Sunlight Foundation. To evaluate each state’s website, Sunlight staff members checked the availability of roll calls, bill texts and legislators’ phone numbers and email addresses, Bartolomeo said. The analysis focuses solely on the transparency of state legislatures and does not incorporate the governors’ offices or state agencies into its calculations. Researchers looked at how quickly bills were placed online after being introduced. They also judged how well the format of the data enabled other programs to access the information and help independent groups analyze government policy, she said. “We believe technology can harness
government to make it more accountable,” Bartolomeo said. “We create data tools for the public, journalists and researchers so you can know what government is doing.” This ranking is part of the Sunlight Foundation’s Open States initiative, in which the foundation partners with tech-savvy “civic hacker” volunteers to put information about government activity online, she said. Open States is the “only website where you can put in a term like ‘gun control’ and see (which) states have passed legislation on that issue,” Bartolomeo said. When the foundation initially released the report card last month, Rhode Island received a grade of F. Within 48 hours, General Assembly staff members contacted Sunlight to correct a mistake — the legislature updates its website in real time, not on a weekly basis as the report originally stated. “We challenge the accuracy in some of the areas of the rankings, and we are reaching out to the Sunlight Foundation to rectify it,” Greg Pare, director of communications for the Rhode Island Senate and Larry Berman, director of communications for the Rhode Island House wrote in a press release. “We are continually striving to upgrade our website.” In response, Sunlight increased the state’s score in the “timeliness” category, which upgraded Rhode Island from an F to a D. Bartolomeo cited real-time updates
as a strength for Rhode Island but added that the state lost points because it lacked historical data relating to bills. Neighboring states received dramatically different results on the report card. Connecticut was among eight states to receive As, while Massachusetts joined five other states that received Fs. Massachusetts suffered from numerous problems with its website, including poor reporting of roll calls, unavailable voting data and a lack of historical information, as well as technical failures of the website, according to the Open States website. Connecticut stood out because its archives allowed for reference and research of the legislative record, Bartolomeo said. “Each state can use this report card as a guide to improve,” Bartolomeo said. Since the Sunlight Foundation released its report card, the Rhode Island General Assembly has added live video streaming as well as video archives to its website, though these changes were planned before the report card was released, Pare wrote in an email to The Herald. A bill tracking feature will also be available on the website in the future, Pare wrote. Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution and former University political science professor, said he was not surprised by Rhode Island’s poor showing on the transparency report card. In the past, Rhode Island
LAUREN GALVAN / HERALD
The General Assembly originally received an F grade which was changed to a D after Assembly staff members corrected a mistake in the evaluation. has received similarly poor grades on transparency from other organizations, he said. “Rhode Island needs to be more ac-
tive in promoting transparency,” West said. “As we’ve moved into the digital age, their website needs to do a better job of providing information.”
8 university news / / Site page 3 she said. Lam said she learned how to “connect with consumers,” and that inspired her to create her own brand. The co-founders combined their skills — Lam focused on the merchandising aspect, sourcing products from Asia, while Hernandez provided feedback on what American consumers really value, Lam said. The name, PandaSundae, represents both the company’s Asian influences and customers’ ability to customize its products, she said. “One of the most important things about running a successful business is mastering soft skills,” Hernandez said. These skills include understanding what a customer values and building strong networks with them, Hernandez said, adding that business school helped her build confidence in approaching people and knowing they are willing to offer help and advice. “The hard skills come more easily,” she said, referring to technical skills such as “crunching numbers” and mastering Microsoft Excel. She added that she didn’t have a lot of guidance in college on working as a woman in the business world and with PandaSundae, she could give back to students what she learned later on in life. The Hong Kong Students Association hosted a lecture and question-andanswer session with Lam and Hernandez Tuesday, where they spoke about their vision for the company. “This event was unique in that it had direct Brown/Hong Kong alumni involvement — an aspect HKSA hopes to expand,” said Tiffany Chang ’16, a member of the group’s executive board.
“PandaSundae’s products do a good job merging utility with cuteness,” she added. The co-founders were wearing apparel from their website and had samples of their products arranged on a table, which the audience members were invited to test after the lecture. The items included panda-shaped speakers, studded handbags and an animal-print tablet case. The co-founders also offered free folders, pens and sunglasses featuring the Panda Sundae logo. “We’re (making) things we wish we had in college,” Lam said. She said there are few companies that offer functional and fun products for college students, adding that she and Hernandez also hope to share their 20 years of combined experience in the business world by offering internship opportunities. While students can learn about marketing in the classroom, Lam said she wants to give them a way to translate that knowledge into the real world. “We want to help put students in contact with mentors,” Lam said at the event. The co-founders are launching a PandaSundae Collegiate Marketing Challenge that offers up to $2,300 for each team, an additional $1,000 for the winner, internship opportunities and a chance to be featured on the company website. The competition requires participants to submit a marketing strategy to promote PandaSundae and launch it for a week to see which plan is the most successful in attracting attention to the brand. Lam said she hopes to get ideas and feedback on her products as she travels around various universities in the United States.
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
SAM KASE / HERALD
The Student Labor Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will target Wendy’s and Stop & Shop during their R.I. campaign to promote the Fair Food Agreement, which protects workers’ rights and interests.
/ / Rally page 12 don’t have more money to pay these farm workers unless these corporations pay more for their produce,” she added.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers aims to increase farm workers’ wages by 75 percent by pressuring their employers to sign what its members call the Fair Food Agreement. The terms of this agreement commit corporations to implementing safer working conditions and giving their workers “a voice,” Quinonez-Riegos said. Students who attended the march said they felt the experience was emotionally powerful. “Coming from an institution where we are very much expected to be the leaders and the organizers, it was refreshing and empowering to see the farm workers taking on the responsibility by themselves,” QuinonezRiegos said. Mack said she believed the coalition’s actions have been successful, adding that 11 corporations have already signed the Fair Food Agreement. But she noted Publix continues
to resist signing the agreement. “We weren’t even allowed to go on Publix’s property, but we’re going to keep fighting until they sign,” she added. Marching in Florida has given SLA members a new perspective on organizing activism in the local community, Quinonez-Riegos said. “Going down really energized and showed us the national scope of the movement,” he said. “It helped us to integrate that into the coalition’s movement in Rhode Island through SLA.” Mack said the CIW and SLA are now working on a joint campaign in Rhode Island to pressure Wendy’s and Stop & Shop to sign the Fair Food Agreement. “Wendy’s is the final one of the top five fast food chains in America not to sign on to this agreement,” Mack said, expressing her hope to carry the organizing spirit from Florida to Rhode Island.
/ / IFF page 1
of what submissions were received, and they vary in length and genre, said Erica James ’14, IFF publicity coordinator. They provide a taste of each film category — graduate, animation, experimental, comedy, international, 48-hour, documentary and drama. The diversity of these films provides a range of perspectives and demonstrates the array of stories that can be told through cinema, Chawla said. Curated from hundreds of submissions from 80 colleges and universities in 21 countries, the films foster a “creative culture” through networking between student filmmakers, Sumortin said. IFF’s 25-person programming staff, members of which were all selected for their experience with film selection or film in general, selected 28 films out of the pool of approximately 300 submissions, a record for the festival. This group also picks the winner for each film category, the awards for which are presented at a private awards ceremony following the keynote address Sunday.
has a valuable perspective on breaking into the industry to lend to student filmmakers because he is so young, Sumortin said. “All filmmakers started out somewhere as students,” James said. The range of speakers this year demonstrates the focus the festival has placed on directors and producers, Chawla said, adding that in the past, the emphasis has instead been placed on actors. The series of screenings this year focuses on underexposed but deserving independent films, Sumortin said. The Ivy Film Festival also aims to allow student filmmakers to connect with filmmakers and the film industry, he added. The official selections of the festival are a series of student films from around the world divided into four viewing blocks over the course of the festival, Chawla said. Each time block contains a sampling
stem 0010 9
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
/ / STEM page 5 think, is actually criminal,” Taylor said. Students expressed mixed feelings about making these courses available to all pre-med students. Moffett said courses with both concentrators and non-concentrators are not productive. “It’s just awkward if I’m in (CHEM 0330) and I’m sitting next to someone who’s there to study chemistry, and I’m there trying to pass the class,” he said. “That’s not helping either of us. It makes me feel stupid, and it makes them feel like they’re wasting their time.” But Wes Durand ’14, who is pursuing the pre-med track, raised concerns that courses designed specifically for pre-meds could disadvantage students once they get to medical school. Students are expected to know the fundamentals before they arrive at medical school, Durand said, and “if you have an incomplete understanding from undergrad ... that’s not beneficial.” David Neumeyer, dean of admis-
sion at Tufts University School of Medicine, said courses specifically designed for pre-meds could be a double-edged sword. From the perspective of med school admissions, he said he has no objection to applicants who took courses geared for pre-meds. But he suggested that university administrators may have some concerns because not all pre-med students ultimately enroll in health profession schools. “As an educational environment, I think it’s best to train your students in a more general sense,” Neumeyer said. “You don’t want to shortchange your students to train them specifically in medicine, when a large percentage of them don’t get into med school.” The new PLME courses are just one example of the curricular innovations being implemented by the University. Tomorrow’s story will investigate in greater depth the University’s curricular innovation efforts for science education. ZEIN KHLEIF / HERALD
- Additional reporting by Kate Nussenbaum
Students often decide not to further pursue the pre-med track after receiving grades below their expectations in classes like CHEM 0350: “Organic Chemistry.”
‘ R A I D T H E AT T I C ’ Old Lace | Veena Vignale
ALEXANDRA URBAN / HERALD
Work by Jean Blackburn, Wendy Edwards, Holly Hughes and Randa Newland is on exhbit in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for Creative Arts.
10 editorial EDITORIAL
Deconstructing the college admission culture
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
EDITORIAL CARTOON b y i va n a lc a n ta r a
The class of 2017 faced one of the toughest admission cycles yet, with this year’s admit rate to Brown the second-lowest in the University’s history. As the college application process grows increasingly competitive, we worry about the culture of tunnel vision that comes to surround higher education and, in particular, selective institutions. We advise prospective applicants to challenge the narrow — and inaccurate — belief that success comes only to those admitted to certain dream schools. Success can and should be more broadly defined. The probability of being rejected from Brown is far greater than that of being accepted. Consider what would have happened to any of us if we had not been admitted. Such a rejection would not have denied the value of any of our accomplishments. Earning admittance to an institution can provide students with a sense of validation, but it shouldn’t be so heavily weighted. The competitive nature that pervades high schools and the college admission process imposes great pressure on students. Applicants often feel as if they are faced with a limited set of choices: either rising to the top and claiming an Ivy League school to their names or falling short of their dreams and becoming “failures.” The class of 2017 is impressively diverse, representing 83 nations and all 50 states, with 45 percent admits identifying as students of color. Though the wealthy and connected are often still favored in elite colleges admssions, many admitted students underwent the same competitive process in high school, where admission to a particular institution was said to be the ultimate end goal. We encourage admitted students to consider more than reputation or prestige when choosing where to matriculate. Culture, cost and location can majorly influence which college is ultimately the best fit for a student. Financial planning can be especially necessary for those who seek advanced degrees to pursue careers in areas like medicine or law. Perhaps the best way to diminish this obsessive culture over college admissions is to enhance the quality of all major undergraduate institutions across the country. Before politically motivated cuts took place, the University of California schools were consistently top-ranked. If we as a society devote greater attention and funding to higher education, we can provide students with more options to get a great college education. The competitive culture that surrounds college admissions can be detrimental, both ignoring the varied circumstances that affect a college experience and leading people to believe that attending a particular institution is the only option. The choices students make while in college can be far more influential in determining their paths than the specific college at which students make those choices. After all, a good education is not hoarded by a few select institutions: It is ubiquitous and attainable by all who seek it. 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 email@example.com.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We can end homelessness ... but it might take a little more than clicking our heels to make it happen.” — Eric Hirsch, professor of sociology at Providence College See homeless on page 6. facebook.com/browndailyherald
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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An MRS degree from Brown CARA DORRIS Opinions Columnist The clock is ticking, ladies. Susan Patton recently penned a letter to the Daily Princetonian suggesting that female students find a husband before graduation. She claimed couples that share the same socioeconomic status and interests are generally happier. The letter received severe backlash and was deemed anti-feminist. But we cannot deny the letter’s relevance. Brown is also an Ivy League school and a few of us — mostly from Perkins Hall — do marry right out of college. In the midst of the Supreme Court’s debate over the constitutional status of same-sex marriage, we have to wonder: Is Brown the best chance we will ever have? Bestselling books like Lori Gottlieb’s, “Marry Him! Settling for Mr. Good Enough,” emphasize the fact that the dating pool of suitable partners shrinks exponentially as women grow older. The satirical rap video, “The Ivy League Hustle,” claims that men do not want to date women from Ivy League schools. After all, there is some truth to Patton’s article. Over six thousand intellectual people surround us. Many of them share the same beliefs and values. There will never be another time in our lives like this. After we are ejected from the Brown bubble, we will realize that not everyone appreciates SexPowerGod and almond
milk lattes or recognizes gluten sensitivity as a real disability. Shockingly, some people may even be socially conservative, very religious or less privileged. Though we fight for marriage equality, many of us feign apathy toward the ultimate commitment. Like most universities, Brown values experimentation and hookup culture. Some would concede that feminists have come a long way. This is the age of sex positivity, bi-curiosity and naked
loan offers, as well as joint income tax returns. But despite the benefits, people who marry their college sweethearts often struggle. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of marriage has risen from 23 for men and 20 for women in 1950 to 28 for men and 26 for women in 2009. Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, claims that the
Fully committing oneself to another person requires a self-awareness and lack of selfishness that most of us do not possess.
performances, not wedding bells and white dresses. We forget that part of the reason we change our Facebook profile photos to red and pink equal signs is that there are so many benefits to marriage. In addition to social security and employer benefits, married couples have access to cheaper car insurance, higher credit scores and better
reason the “supposedly liberal East” has a lower divorce rate than the more socially conservative South and West is because couples in the latter areas “have less education and marry earlier, both of which lead to a higher risk of divorce.” In other words, the divorce rates may have hit an all-time low in 2009 because couples are marrying later in life.
College graduates are not financially ready for marriage. Some may argue that once someone is established in a career, it is difficult to find a partner. But it is even more difficult to marry someone straight out of college and then be tied down, unable to pursue even entry-level job opportunities because of a spouse’s location. The glass ceiling is real. Women especially need time to develop their careers, not wallow in collective debt. More importantly, we are not emotionally ready. Life is hard after college and marriage will not make it any easier. Most of us will change dramatically during our turbulent twenties. There are a million things to experience in the world, and if you have the privilege to explore, you should. Fully committing oneself to another person requires a self-awareness and lack of selfishness that most of us do not possess. Whether you are a guy or a girl, the best thing you can do is get a career, figure out what you want and pursue good friendships. No, we should not discount potential life partners for small reasons — and if you find someone, then great. But as long as you make deep connections, whether platonic or romantic, you will always have a Brown network to return to. The people we meet now could become spouses much later in life. No, we do not have all the time in the world. But we still have time. An MRS degree is a lot of extra work, especially if you are already double concentrating. Cara Dorris ’15 can be reached at email@example.com.
The myth of a post-racial society BY ARMANI MADISON Opinions Columnist On the night of Nov. 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, the first black American to hold that position in the nation’s history, overcoming the obstacles that limited the ambitions and successes of people of color to occupy this nation’s highest office. Everywhere, one could see impassioned people in tears, overjoyed people of all races and ages who believed they would never see a black president in their lifetimes. Soon thereafter, the assertion arose that we, from that point onward, lived in a post-racial society. After all, if a black man could become president, that must mean one’s race can no longer pose an obstacle to success in America — right? Wrong. In many ways, the nation has improved vastly in terms of race relations over the decades. But race is still as relevant today as ever. According to a 2012 Associated Press national poll, 51 percent of Americans explicitly and 56 percent implicitly harbor anti-black sentiments. The poll found that of “non-Hispanic whites,” 52 percent explicitly and 57 percent implicitly harbored antiHispanic sentiments. These sentiments were found to have increased since 2008. While 27.4 percent of black Americans and 26.6 percent of Hispanics live in poverty, only 9.9 percent of “non-Hispanic whites” do. It is estimated that black Americans with
bachelors’ degrees earn 20 percent less than white Americans with the same level of education. Post-racialism is an idea flawed in itself. It brings to mind the thought of America as “the great melting pot,” an assimilationist turn-of-the-20th-century view that arose as immigration into the United States reached new heights. This coincided with the legalized and forced assimilation of non-whites, especially Native Americans, into EuropeanAmerican culture. “Post-racialism” implies
and ways of life. Progress is defined here as the development and improvement of society to the effect that it becomes more equitable for, and representative of, the entire population. And thus it is the result of the collaboration of a plethora of different peoples for the purpose of building an idea and a society up to the degree that all groups have equal representation and input. So we should pursue not “post-racialism,” but “post-racism.” When will we be satisfied? Martin Luther King, Jr. answered this ques-
After all, if a black man could become President, that must mean one’s race no longer can pose an obstacle to success in America — right? Wrong.
the stripping of individual cultural identities in favor of one universal and dominant identity. Post-racialism assumes that race causes conflict, without taking into account that the issue is not our differences, or recognition that we are all dissimilar, but rather the negative attitudes that many take toward others who are unlike themselves, and how deviation from the “dominant culture” results in inequity. There is a value that comes from learning from others and from a society in which interactions occur peacefully, productively and educationally between members of different backgrounds, methods, celebrations, beliefs
tion 50 years ago. Many of his answers have yet to be achieved: “We can never be satisfied as long as the (person of color) is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality … as long as the (person of color’s) basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one … as long as a (person of color) in Mississippi cannot vote … and in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.” When “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream,” then, not only will we be satisfied, but we will finally have moved into a post-racist society. As long as I, a young African-American male, am at times subject to “well-meaning”
racial “jokes” and as long as youth of color, particularly young black men, are being profiled and even killed by police and as long as peoples of Middle Eastern descent are subject to closer scrutiny at airports than other groups, we have inequality. As long as photo IDs are required at a disproportionate rate from blacks to whites and as long as AfricanAmericans constitute nearly 1 million of the 2.3 million Americans in jail today, we have inequality.We are still, even in 2013, residents of an unjust and unequal society. Society will always create inequity amongst some lines, be they gender, race, sexuality, religious affiliations, wealth, perceived attractiveness, talent or skill set, height, weight or any other factor that distinguishes one person from another. Until the day that everyone is the exact same, there will be inequality, and differences in understandings and perceptions of the world and of one another. Though a post-racist society is unattainable, if we educate as many as possible, learn and cooperate with others as much as possible, if we realize that we are all equal, that we all have unalienable rights, that we are all brothers and sisters on the same proverbial “boat,” and that we must truly treat and love others as we do ourselves, a post-racist society will not be far from what will then be the reality. Armani Madison ’16 sincerely hopes that, one day, all the world’s people will realize that “all you need is love.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
daily herald university news THE BROWN
THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2013
Student Labor Alliance members rally in Florida
Five SLA members marched part of a 200mile route in support of food workers’ rights By CHAD SIMON STAFF WRITER
Five members from the Student Labor Alliance traveled to Florida to take part in a march held March 14-18 to protest corporations’ alleged abuse of farm workers in the state. The students joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a pro-workers’ rights advocacy group, to walk part of the coalition’s annual March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food, which follows a 200-mile route starting in Fort Myers, Fla. to the corporate headquarters of the supermarket chain Publix in Lakeland, Fla. Activists targeted Publix for demonstrations this year because they claim the company is involved in a form of “modern-day slavery” by underpaying farm owners for their produce, causing farmers to pay substandard wages to their employees, said Shelby Mack ’14, SLA member and march attendee. The coalition “works towards improving the lives of their community,”
Mack said, adding that the group has made an impact by securing wage increases for farm workers and human rights codes for laborers. “The SLA had two primary goals with this march,” Mack said. “We wanted to celebrate all the successes that this coalition has held and to continue putting pressure on Publix.” Students said they wanted to participate in the march because of the need to expose what they deemed Publix’s unfair treatment of workers. “Publix ... claims to treat their employees with respect and dignity,” said Tomas Quinonez-Riegos ’15, an SLA member who took part in the march. He added that though Publix indirectly sets low wages for farm laborers by underpaying their employers, the company unfairly does not consider these laborers to be on their payroll. Quinonez-Riegos charged Publix, which touts its commitment to ethical business standards, with hypocrisy regarding its labor practices. “One of its main corporate tenets is that it’s faith-based, which is ironic,” he said. “These corporations — food service, supermarket and fast food companies — have the power to improve conditions in the fields,” Mack said. / / Rally page 8 “The growers
SHELBY MACK / HERALD
The main target of the rally was the supermarket chain Publix, which protesters accused of subjecting its workers to “modern-day slavery.” Activists have been targeting the chain throughout the year.
UCS appoints new members, prepares for election The group also discussed the possibility of changing MyGroups, the student groups’ organization interface By MAXINE JOSELOW SENIOR STAFF WRITER
The Undergraduate Council of Students appointed two new members to its elections board at its general body meeting Wednesday. Ian Eppler ’13, a former Herald opinions columnist, and Mikala Murad ’16 will help facilitate the process for this month’s elections. They will join Caleb Miller ’16, elections board chair and a senior staff writer for The Herald, and Miyo Malouf ’16, elections board vice chair. Though Eppler and Murad are not UCS members, Miller said both seem qualified. The elections board has been holding mandatory information sessions for candidates this week, the last of which is on Friday, Miller said. Candidates for elected positions must turn in petitions to run by Monday’s candidates meeting. UCS President Anthony White ’13 said he met with the moderator of the upcoming debate, Barbara Tannenbaum, senior lecturer in theater arts and performance studies, to finalize preparations for the debate, which will feature candidates for UCS president and vice president. “We’re hoping it’s going to be a lively debate,” White said. The debate is set to be held April 11 and will be cosponsored by The Herald and the UCS elections board. The council also elected four new members to the College Curriculum Council. Roxanne Alaghband ’15 and Gregory Chatzinoff ’15, a former Herald collections manager, were reappointed to the council, and Taylor Lanzet ’15 and Giuliano Marostica ’15 were appointed for the first time. William Gregory ’16 was selected as an alternate. Chatzinoff is the UCS-UFB liaison and Marostica is
a UCS general body member. The council also discussed the possibility of modifying or replacing MyGroups, the student group organizing website. Council members recently met with Timothy Shiner, director of student activities and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center, about “what is working well with MyGroups and what it’s lack-
ing,” said E-Soo Kim ’15, UCS general body member. Many student groups complain that MyGroups does not feature access to social media, Kim added. “I like the fact that it’s not another social media site,” said Afia Kwakwa ’14, chair of the Campus Life Committee. “We don’t need another Facebook.” “MyGroups completely fails as a directory for student groups, especially if you’re a new student. It has an awful in-
terface,” said Holly Hunt ’13, UCS general body member. Council members are considering moving the student group categorization process to MyGroups or any site that might replace it, Chatzinoff said. White said he supports moving the categorization process online and making it “paperless.” “But it is nice to have paper copies,” said Alexander Kaplan ’14, student activities chair and a former Herald staff writer.
Looking ahead, if council members and administrators discontinue MyGroups, they will put out a bid for other contract developers, Chatzinoff said. Instead of external developers, computer science students could design a replacement for MyGroups, said Todd Harris ’14.5, UCS general body member. “This is the platform that’s used to keep track of financial records. They may not trust that to students,” Chatzinoff responded.