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BROWN DAILY HERALD vol. cxlix, no. 5

since 1891


Hotel workers present Med school tweaks grading system Survey shows that honors union dispute to NLRB distinction in grading does

Workers accuse Renaissance Hotel of attempting to derail unionization in new filing

allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” The complaint lists the Renaissance Hotel’s “Standards of Behavior” as an example of the hotel management’s labor violations. Hotel workers point to two standards in particular ­— discussing or voicing complaints of internal matters to guests and behaving in any way that may have an adverse effect upon the reputation of the hotel — as support for their allegations. According to the NLRB complaint, Director of Front Office Arnaldo Almonte, General Manager Agelo DePeri and Area Director of Sales and Marketing Giselle Moronta led a meeting in which they listened to complaints and promised workers free food and better working conditions and benefits to deter employee unionization efforts. DePeri and Almonte also “interrogated employees about their union activities,” according to the complaint. Hipolito Rivera — who has worked for the Renaissance for over seven years — said management has employed various tactics, from intimidation to bribery, in order to deter unionization. Employees were taken out to restaurants to “discuss solutions » See HOTEL, page 8


Following an eight-month battle of demonstrations and boycotts against the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel, the success of employees hoping to unionize now hinges on a National Labor Relations Board complaint, with a formal hearing scheduled for March 31 in Boston. Hotel workers and the labor union Unite Here Local 217 allege multiple acts of “interfering with, restraining and coercing” employee organizing rights in the complaint. And Renaissance workers contend that their wages are “significantly lower than their counterparts” in unionized hotels in Providence such as the Omni and Biltmore, according to a Unite Here Local 217 press release. The Proccianti Group, which owns the Renaissance Hotel, denied the complaint’s allegations and called for their dismissal, writing that “the


not significantly improve residency placement By JOSEPH ZAPPA SENIOR STAFF WRITER

The Alpert Medical School MD Curriculum Committee passed a motion last month to grade all preclinical courses — the entirety of the first two years of medical study — solely Satisfactory/No Credit, beginning with the MD class of 2017. The school’s previous policy graded all preclinical courses S/NC but also allowed students to earn honors distinction in select courses following their first semester. Med School administrators and students said there has long been widespread interest in eliminating honors grading for preclinical classes. Med School Student Senate members of the class of 2017 raised the issue to the rest of the Student Senate, which unanimously voted for the change prior to the motion’s adoption by the MDCC. A survey of first-year medical students found that 65 percent of students favored the change, wrote Dan Ebner MD’17, Class of 2017 MDCC student representative, in an email to The Herald. This strong student support

prompted Luba Dumenco, chair of the subcommittee on years one and two of the MDCC, to conduct extensive research on the issue, which showed that solely S/NC preclinical grades are very common. The majority of the U.S. News and World Report’s top 20 medical schools have pass/fail grades without honors for preclinical classes. A 2011 Mayo Clinic College of Medicine study designed to evaluate the effects of grading on preclinical medical students concluded that the way students are evaluated “has a greater impact than other aspects of curriculum structure on their well-being. Curricular reform intended to enhance student well-being should incorporate pass/fail grading.” A 2011 University of Massachusetts study reached a similar conclusion. “I went into this in a very unbiased fashion,” Dumenco said. “Increasingly, as people saw the data, they became more interested in it, and that’s because the data were strong.” But some expressed doubt about the extent of the studies’ conclusions. “I don’t think the absence of honors would have affected my stress levels tremendously during years one and two,” wrote Greg Elia MD’15 in an email to The Herald, though he added that he supported the change on the whole. The UMass study found that pass/ fail, compared to tiered grading, resulted in “no significant difference” in students’

residency placements or academic performance. “Med students are highly self-motivated regardless of the honors distinction,” Elia wrote. Though “the absence of preclinical honors grades on a student’s transcript” would not be harmful, honors distinction could slightly bolster a student’s application for residency placement, Elia wrote. But a 2012 survey of the national resident matching program found that honors status in preclinical grading was relatively unimportant in evaluating residency candidates. “There is no evidence that changing to pass/fail will hurt anyone’s application,” said Dick Dollase, director of the office of medical education. Dollase dismissed the notion that preclinical S/NC would deprive students of a chance to distinguish themselves from their peers, citing scholarship and research opportunities as well as the availability of an honors distinction in the clinical years, “where it counts.” After the evidence was presented to the MDCC, and members of the Student Senate in the class of 2017 discussed the issue with their peers, the Office of Medical Education conducted a survey indicating that 87 percent of students supported the motion to restrict preclinical grades to S/NC. PLME student Nikki Haddad ’16 » See GRADING, page 2

An invitation to the unfamiliar Unionization discussion

reemerges at grad schools

Brown-RISD Dual Degree exhibition embodies disjuncture between strange and domestic

NYU vote for reunionization sparks conversation, but followup unlikely at Brown





Graduate students at New York University voted last month to become the only graduate assistants at an American private university to be represented by a union, another development in a continuing debate about the merits of unionization in graduate education. But while graduate students at Brown said the unionization issue has garnered some interest on campus, others said they do not expect NYU students’ action to spark unionization efforts on College Hill. Graduate assistants at NYU voted Dec. 10-11 to unionize by a margin of 620 to 10. “We are really excited to sign a contract,” said Matt Canfield, an NYU doctoral student and member of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee. The committee is affiliated with United Automobile Workers, a national



The Brown-RISD Dual Degree exhibition“Don’t Be a Stranger!” explores the foreign and familiar.


Arts & Culture

More effective teachers may get evaluated less frequently with passage of bill in Statehouse

Providence negotiates a bike sharing program, which could link College Hill to downtown

Cogut Center for the Humanities reconsiders Hannah Arendt

Rustic Italian restaurant Figidini offers more options off College Hill






Ethnographer Alfred Schutz was not the first to champion cultural estrangement. As the trope goes, he was not the last, either. Dadaist provocateurs and postmodern theorists would also demand that life be made “anthropologically strange” and “objectified” in pursuit of cultural reevaluation. At the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown-RISD students have conjured this thematic ideology with this year’s Dual-Degree exhibition, “Don’t Be a Stranger!”— a five-story installation embodying astute estrangement. “Don’t Be a Stranger!” tackles themes of foreign belonging, neighborliness and proximity— and, of all sources, is inspired by “manicured lawns, backyard BBQs and water gun fights,” according to the exhibition program. The nostalgic orientation is half-mocking, according to organizer » See STRANGER, page 5

union that represents workers in higher education across the country. Now that the graduate students have formed a union, Canfield expects NYU to reach fair agreements, he said. “We are entering with the expectation of bargaining with good faith.” The National Labor Relations Board ruled in a 2004 case brought by Brown teaching assistants seeking to unionize that graduate students were not employees and therefore lacked collective bargaining rights. The 2004 decision led to widespread discouragement among graduate students hoping to unionize at private universities, Canfield said. Unionization organizing committees survived, but many do not have “the resources or the vision to actually push for a collective bargaining contract,” he added. Some graduate students can feel that “nothing is safe unless there is a contract” and feel unionization is necessary to advocate for their positions, Canfield said. Rising health care costs also inspired students to unionize, Canfield said. The NYU rate for adding dependents onto a health insurance plan — $6,660 annually for a spouse or domestic partner, » See NYU, page 2 t o d ay


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said she was “pleasantly surprised by the news,” adding that the change may reduce competition among students and promote collaboration. “There were still people who dissented, some feeling as though the data for other schools may not apply to Brown or them personally, and others noting that they felt honors would motivate them to work harder,” Ebner wrote. But administrators said they were interested in hearing what all students had to say, and dissenting students were offered the opportunity to speak at Student Senate and MDCC meetings. “There had been an adequate opportunity for everyone to discuss this in a non-emotional way,” Dumenco said. Though the MDCC was aware the proposal did not have universal support, the committee passed the motion regardless due to vast majority approval and the preponderance of evidence in its favor, she said.

according to NYU Student Health Center statistics — was an unpopular policy among graduate students with families, he added. The annual cost for covering a dependent spouse or domestic partner at Brown — $2,490 — is less than half NYU’s rate, according to data from the Office of Insurance and Risk. The newly unionized NYU students plan to elect a bargaining committee and survey graduate students on their priorities next month, Canfield said, adding that the union hopes to negotiate a contract with NYU by the end of the summer. It is difficult to say how NYU graduate students’ unionization will affect graduate students at other private universities because “the conditions of every school differ,” Canfield said. But he said he hopes that “graduate employees at other universities look to NYU as an example and a leader

for organizing and forming collective bargaining units.” Uniting at universities Three years ago, many Graduate Student Council members at Brown did not express interest in unionizing, The Herald reported in 2011. Continued disinterest in unionization could be linked to general satisfaction with campus life, said Erica Mena-Landry GS, a literary arts doctoral student. “On the whole, graduate students are treated well at Brown without needing the lobbying power of a union, but that doesn’t mean a union couldn’t be valued for a lot of other reasons,” she said. A union could help graduate students receive fair compensation and feel their work is valued through a contract, she said. Many Brown graduate students “have a pretty good idea of what’s going on” at NYU, said Steve Zins GS, president of the Graduate Student Council. “We are paying close attention to the situation.” Graduate students have not reached a consensus on whether to push for unionization, but GSC leaders hope to provide “the space for that conversation to happen,” he added. Organizers at the University of Chicago are also trying to unionize in response to benefit cutbacks, said Molly Cunningham, a UChicago doctoral student and organizer of Graduate Students United. GSU is not recognized by UChicago as a union, but the group’s campaigns have met with success, including a 50 percent


increase in teaching pay and a scholarship program for child care, she said. Still, forming a graduate assistant union, either by gaining recognition from the NLRB or by negotiating with UChicago, is “definitely going to require a lot of work” because graduate students do not share full awareness of the issues at stake, Cunningham added. State of the unionization Many public universities across the country have unionized graduate assistants. While completing a graduate degree program at the University of Iowa, Mena-Landry was a member of a union that helped secure generous benefits for students, she said. “I received the best health care I will probably ever have,” Mena-Landry said. A 2013 study of public universities in the United States, conducted by Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations Review, found that, on average, unionized graduate students reported “higher levels of personal and professional support.” But some administrators dispute the notion that unionization is the key to graduate students’ satisfaction. “Brown is distinctive from public universities, and many graduate students want to be here,” said Peter Weber, dean of the Graduate School. “You can see that from the application pool.” Some graduate students said public and private universities foster different environments for graduate education. At public universities, “there are

different rules and regulations since you get state funding,” Zins said. “Private schools are not as dependent on graduate student labor,” Cunningham said. But larger private universities, such as NYU, are more reliant on graduate students for teaching labor, Canfield said. Profs and cons Weber said he believes unionization runs contrary to the University’s mission statement. The Grad School is based on “a partnership of students and teachers,” he said. “Unionization is not consistent with thinking of students as partners.” Some graduate students disagreed. “The graduate student union (at Iowa) actually strengthened the relationship with my adviser, because we didn’t have to worry about the technical stuff ” since a union-negotiated contract allows students to gain advocates who do not affect their ability to graduate, Mena-Landry said. GSC members highlighted their meetings as an opportunity to engage in discussions about unionization, but some graduate students said they felt their community remains disconnected. “I don’t have access to students in other programs. We do have a graduate student bar, but I didn’t know the Graduate Student Council existed,” Mena-Landry said, adding that a union could provide a better social platform for bringing together graduate students.

metro 3


City nears agreement on bike share program Alta Bicycle Share seeks funding to launch program connecting downtown, College Hill By CAROLYNN CONG STAFF WRITER

As part of Providence’s master plan to expand bicycle travel, the city is negotiating a contract for a new bike share program that would link downtown with College Hill, Federal Hill, the Jewelry District and various places on the east and west sides, wrote Toby Shepherd, director of policy in the office of Mayor Angel Taveras, in a email to The Herald. The city’s Bike Feasibility study, released in 2011, determined Providence could benefit from a bike share program. The Board of Contract and Supply voted for Alta Bicycle Share, of Portland, Ore. — which runs existing bike share programs in Boston, New York and Chicago — to oversee management of the project, according to ecoRI News. The city’s goal was to find an organization with prior success implementing programs in other cities, Shepherd said. Due to financial constraints, the city was looking for an organization capable of raising funds and soliciting sponsorships for the program to spare the city expenses or potentially generate revenue, he added. Alta plans to procure a sponsorship to help supply approximately $800,000 to launch the program and the annual operations cost, estimated to be $500,000, according to the company’s proposal. The first phase of the project would feature 20 bicycle stations and 200 bicycles primarily in the “urban core” of Providence, according to the proposal. Over the course of two to five years, the program would progress into its second phase — expanding to nearby locations and eventually increasing to 40 stations and 400 bicycles. Among the locations proposed in phase one of the plan would be several locations on College Hill, such as the Rockefeller Library, the Sciences Library, the Rhode Island School of

Design and Thayer Street. Other phasetwo stations would include Brown’s athletic complex, Waterman Street, Providence College and the University of Rhode Island, according to the proposal. Customers would be able to purchase “daily, weekly or annual membership” and rent the bike for free the first 30 minutes, with an additional charge every half-hour, according to the proposal. The proposed daily pass is $6, with a three-day pass costing $12 and an annual membership fee $80. “I think the benefits are many, and they range from environmental to economic to public health,” Shepherd said of the bike share program. “In my mind, it’s all about the quality of life and people who take advantage of it.” A bike share program would have the potential to attract more businesses to the Jewelry District and create more jobs, said Arthur Salisbury, president of the Jewelry District Association, adding that the association is “in full support of it.” Leah Haykin ’16, a member of Bikes @ Brown, said she is impressed that “Providence is trying to become more eco-friendly and trying to promote a healthy community.” Haykin said she is optimistic about the public health benefits a bike share program might bring. “Biking just 20 minutes a day has great health effects,” she said. But Haykin expressed her concern that Providence lacks the strong bike culture that has made bike share programs successful in other cities, adding that she thinks “it might take a while” for Alta to raise the money necessary for the program. A bike share program would make biking more of a culturally accepted practice and a viable alternative to cars, said Amelia Rose, co-director of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and chairwoman of the city’s Environmental Sustainability Task Force, but she hopes the program “reaches parts of the community outside of university students.” “We know in other cities, bike share programs have been great successes, and people have approached them with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,”


Providence’s proposed bike share program would initially incporate 200 bicycles and 20 stations, with plans to nearly double in size during its second phase within the next five years. Shepherd said, adding that the city will work to make the bike share plan fit Providence’s cityscape. “One of the issues in the city is just that we’ve got a lot of hills,” which would result in accumulation of bikes at the bottom of hills due to lack of incentive

to ride back up, Shepherd said. One proposed solution would be creating paths through other streets, such as Wickenden Street on College Hill, with fewer inclines, Rose said. “Right now Providence streets aren’t the best to bike on, but that’ll probably

Bill seeks to reduce frequency of R.I. teacher evaluations Legislation could save administrative time by eliminating unnecessary reports on top teachers By EMILY DUPUIS CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A new teacher evaluation bill introduced by Rep. William O’Brien, DNorth Providence, could spell the end of annual assessments of teachers in Rhode Island. Under the new system proposed by O’Brien, only teachers with poor efficacy ratings would be evaluated yearly. Teachers deemed “highly effective” would be evaluated only every four years, while teachers assessed as “effective” would be evaluated every three years. Rhode Island’s current annual evaluation system was implemented by Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist in 2009 due to a “teacher problem in the state,” said O’Brien, who disagrees with the diagnosis.

The teacher evaluation system was one of several factors that helped Rhode Island win $75 million in 2010 from the federal government through the annual Race to the Top contest implemented by President Obama. But the current system has generated controversy and has been viewed as punitive by many teachers and principals in the state, according to a recent report by the Community Training and Assistance Center, a national education organization. Under the annual evaluation system, teachers who are evaluated as ineffective for five consecutive years lose certification to teach in Rhode Island, the Providence Journal reported. Principals currently must evaluate teachers three times each year — twice informally and once formally, O’Brien said, adding that there is a substantial

amount of paperwork, as well as a conference before and after the evaluation process. The entire process takes five to 10 hours per year, a significant amount of time that “is taking away from the principal running his or her school and affecting education in the state,” O’Brien said. Teacher evaluations can take from 1,000 to 1,500 hours total for each principal, O’Brien said. By changing the evaluation system, principals would be able to do their job more efficiently, he added. O’Brien, a math teacher at Hope High School in Providence, said his other main concern with the present evaluation system is that it takes away from students’ educations. “The bill still says you can evaluate a teacher the principal deemed ineffective, but gives power to the people running the schools,” O’Brien said, adding that time spent evaluating teachers already assessed as highly

efficient limits principals’ ability to help teachers who need to improve their performance. “It’s taking away from the education of the children of the state. The main point is that principals need to run their schools and (the state) needs to trust them,” O’Brien said. The evaluations are also costly for the state to administer, O’Brien said. Approximately 200 extra employees have been hired to deal with the increased paperwork of yearly assessments costing between $2-3 million, O’Brien said. O’Brien said there has been virtually no opposition to the bill. “The principals’ association seems to be for it,” O’Brien said, adding that principals across the state have already requested similar changes to the evaluation system. O’Brien’s bill has been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare.

change in the next few years,” Haykin said. Bike shares introduce “a cool factor,” Shepherd said. “They are one of the things that make people excited about urban life and want to live and work here.”

4 arts & culture




Hannah Arendt published an account of the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann in the New Yorker in 1963. The Cogut Center for the Humanities this week hosts Pamela Katz, who explores Arendt’s controversial work in the film “Hannah Arendt.”

‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ in film 50 years later Cogut Center for the Humanities forum includes screening of ‘Hannah Arendt’ By ANDREW SMYTH ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR

Political theorist Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” an account of the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann that caused a veritable firestorm when it was originally published in 1963, turned 50 last year. The work remains a somewhat explosive text. Arendt’s treatment of the fascist killer as a mundane bureaucrat and her catchphrase “the banality of evil” still inspire animated conflict in scholarly and popular discourse. There is something of an Arendt moment happening on campus to coincide with this anniversary. She is included on the reading list for the English course ENGL 0710K: “Catastrophic Communities,” and the Department of Comparative Literature is offering a graduate seminar entitled COLT 2821G: “Precarity, Vulnerability, Sovereignty: Worldliness and the Work of Hannah Arendt.” This week, the Cogut Center for the Humanities is hosting “Reconsidering Hannah Arendt,” a colloquium focused on reevaluating Arendt’s intellectual legacy. Programming began last night with a screening of “Hannah Arendt,” a film written by Pamela Katz and directed by Margarethe von Trotta that focuses on the years preceding and following the publication of “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” There will be a roundtable discussion today at

12 p.m. in Pembroke Hall 305 featuring Katz in conversation with faculty members from the Cogut Center, the Department of Modern Culture and Media and the comparative literature department. Katz agreed to an extended interview before arriving on campus. She spoke to The Herald about Arendt’s intellectual legacy, the conceptual problem of representing thought on film and the implications of interpreting the Holocaust. The Herald: I thought we might begin by discussing one of the more famous episodes in the afterlife of this controversial text. In 1966, the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin had the American man of letters Edmund Wilson over, and they later accuse each other of being irrationally prejudiced toward Arendt and “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” I think it’s just a fascinating moment that demonstrates that there’s something at stake in how people talk about this text and how people remember it. That this was hugely controversial not only for intellectuals in New York but also for the public at large in remembering the Holocaust. Katz: The way I would phrase it is that Hannah Arendt’s thoughts changed the way we talk about the Holocaust. Whether or not you agree with her, whether you love her or hate

her, she introduced not only the expression “the banality of evil,” but also an entirely different way of discussing the Holocaust. Margarethe heard that, certainly found Arendt to be a fascinating figure but feared making a film about a thinker. Because as a filmmaker, her first question to me then was, “What will we show?” At the time that she brought it up to me, I just thought the opportunity to make a film about Hannah Arendt was so wonderful we had to find a way. I said, “All I really know about her is that she made a lot of people incredibly angry. There has to be some drama in that.” When you’re making a film about a thinker, you don’t want to make a film about one of their works unless you feel it sort of penetrates to the essence of what they had to say. What she was really talking about (in “Eichmann in Jerusalem”) was what she was talking about all her life — the relationship between the ability to think ... and the ability to commit acts of evil. It was something that Eichmann made clear to her, which is that it was possible to commit great acts of evil without any political ideology, without the ability to think about what you were doing.

So in some ways, the ability to think, or the lack thereof, not only provides an intellectual problem that Hannah Arendt is tackling in the text, but it also supplies the rhythm of the film itself. A lot of the shots are really elegant ways of depicting a woman who is really just doing philosophy.

Or writing. So what were some of the challenges of trying to represent that in a screenplay to be produced into a visual medium?

This was the most active possibility that we had in making a film about a thinker. There were a number of challenges, but I think primary among them is that it’s an intellectual film, and I was trying very hard in the script to make those ideas clear, because they were so greatly misunderstood. She argues about the idea, she comes to it, people question her, she answers, and the intellectual hope of the film was that by the time you got to the speech, to put it crudely, you’d actually understand what she was talking about. And I think in no way does the film attempt to say, “You will understand and you will agree.” Maybe you will understand, and you will disagree even more. Clarity was something that was missing from the hysteria in the response to the book. If you make a film about a thinker and you fail to illuminate her thoughts, then you fail. But if you make a film about a woman or a person, and you fail to illuminate something about their character and personality, you really do fail as a film, because film is in many ways an emotional medium. So the challenge in the most important sense was to figure out: What did this mean to her? Why did she take that tone that created so much of the misunderstanding? What was really going on here? Your work has often engaged with

representing the fascist moment in Germany and with representing the Holocaust. I’m wondering how you approached the representation of this topic, which has always been an ongoing and difficult conversation to have. I came initially to this topic quite reluctantly. My own father’s a German Jewish emigre. He escaped in ’37 along with the rest of his family. And I’m married to a German. I’ve lived in Germany for several years. I’m an American Jew. But I am one of those typical American Jews who ran from this subject matter because I grew up on the Upper West Side of New York. Everybody was a German Jewish emigre. It’s very difficult to touch that wound. But I feel that when we learn something that can give us a new way to reflect on what is in so many ways un-reflectable, then I think it’s a worthwhile project. David Grossman is a writer, and he has a great expression for it. “If I don’t have something valuable to contribute to the conversation, how dare I touch the wound.” I don’t like to touch the wound unless I feel very certain that I am contributing something valuable to the conversation, and I think in the case of Hannah Arendt there’s no doubt. Whatever one thinks, she contributed something to the conversation, or we wouldn’t still be talking about it.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

arts & culture 5



Wood-fired pizza heats up Kennedy Plaza New restaurant Figidini offers pizza, local vegetables, fresh seafood in rustic atmosphere By MARGARET NICKENS SENIOR STAFF WRITER

When you walk into Figidini Wood Fire Eatery, the sleek metal tables contrast with the arboreal decorations, transporting you from snowy Providence streets to the warm Italian countryside. The domed wood-fired grill sits in plain view of the eating area, giving the restaurant an industrial cabin feel, which is facilitated by woodpaneled walls and glass-domed lamps. Frankie and Kara Cecchinelli opened Figidini in May 2013, preserving the wood-fired grilling tradition of Frankie’s childhood, according to their website. The restaurant — which serves local vegetables, seafood and poultry — is at 67 Washington St., just off Kennedy Plaza. Figidini was lively but not overcrowded on a recent Friday evening — though the restaurant does not accept reservations, the wait for a table was not long. The cacti planted in simple wooden boxes give each table a unique, outdoorsy touch, and the warm atmosphere and accommodating wait staff further remove you from the barren city streets just beyond the window. Figidini offers a number of seasonal appetizers, including a goat cheese salad and a butternut bisque. Prior to ordering your pizza, you can also select a small plate of grilled items, such as sausage and zucchini. The kale salad features cubed golden beets, bits of roasted pistachios and a crown of apple slivers, all topped off with a Gorgonzola cream dressing. The salad looks elegant, and the pistachios and apples add a nice crunch. The earthiness of the beets also compliments the bitter kale leaves, though the sauce is too rich for the already meaty kale, making the dish unnecessarily savory. A lighter, tangier dressing would have done the kale more justice and might have worked better with the sweetness of the apples.

» STRANGER, from page 1 Bonny Cai ’17, but conveys a playfulness that appears, above all, to avoid artistic intimidation. Perhaps caught in the notion that Brown students find RISD creativity daunting, the DualDegree exhibit is also an invitation — a cordial, titular welcome, despite that subtle, demanding exclamation. “Don’t Be a Stranger!” seeks familiarization through estrangement. The exhibit itself consumes this idea, boasting a five-floor artistic Babel and intermingling aesthetic dialects across the creative spectrum. “Don’t Be A Stranger!” unites the languages of textile, mixed media, illustration and industrial design through a genuinely impressive artistic scheme perhaps more cohesive than the actual Babel construction. Where language there led to discord, artistic montage here uses this theme as its guiding light. Tapping into the benign invitation of its theme, “Don’t Be a Stranger!” is notably intimate — almost a safe


Figidini Wood Fire Eatery brings the warm Italian countryside to Kennedy Plaza. The restaurant’s pizza, cooked in its signature wood-fired oven, offers students a savory off-the-hill reprieve. You can also begin your meal with the scallop appetizer — four seared scallops roasted in a chili ginger oil and finished with lemon zest, surrounded by delicate mounds of toasted pistachios. The oil is flavorful, but it overpowers the scallops, while the pistachios again make the dish too salty. Even so, the chili ginger oil gives the dish a refreshing kick, and as promised, the scallops are incredibly fresh. Though the starters are slightly underwhelming, the grilled pizza makes the adventure downtown worthwhile. Unfortunately, you cannot order halfand-half pies, but you can choose from the selection of about eight pizzas. The cherry tomato pie features thick slices of mozzarella with juicy tomatoes and ample olive oil. Per Italian tradition,

the pizza comes uncut, though the freshness of the crust ensures this is far from a hassle. If anything, the excitement of digging into your own pie enhances the experience. The crust is thick and chewy, grilled perfectly so that its smokiness complements the sweetness of the tomatoes. The mozzarella, enhanced with sea salt, garlic and olive oil, is packed with flavor. The pizza proves too oily, but the richness of the oil does not overwhelm the subtle savoriness of the mozzarella or the juicy tomatoes. At the end of the meal, the last of the pizza crust is perfect to sop up the remaining olive oil for a post-meal treat. The pies come big, so if you’re looking to save a little dough, sharing is definitely feasible.

space, if you will. Dual-Degree students have composed living room installations, reimagined foyers and copious domestic signifiers. Amidst this facade, the familiar gives way to contents estranged from their preperceived actuality. “Unheimlich,” by Rachel Ossip ’15, displays a Midastouched computer and briefcase, suggesting review of unspoken value systems. “Face in a Crowd,” by Julie Lewon ’17, a sweater suspended from the fifth-floor ceiling, claims facility as a social device. Layered images of a girl’s face in a crowd of uniformity, sewn into the sweater’s fabric, tell an episode of isolation. When worn, it would probably shed the estrangement. But suspended in solitude at Granoff ’s apex, the “objectified” piece screams out Schutzian overtones. These object reconstructions are accompanied by atmospheric content. One particular row of photographs, “Alien Birthday Party” by Hannah Koenig ’14, exhibits what one might expect of a birthday party — except

for the alien in attendance. The alien is persecuted by a brigade of birthday girls, well-endowed with water guns. Sympathy is dispatched to the alien, a surely intentional reflection of quiet sentiment in “Don’t Be a Stranger!”; that is, persecution of the foreign. “Don’t Be a Stranger!” is a call for creative acceptance and integration as much as it is a homage to estrangement as method. The Cohen gallery — the space most visible to the passing Brown student — is adorned with a human body suit, a waiting duo of earthen circles and a suspended, muddled trash bag. The installation of these pieces in the window-shopping center of Granoff is a tad brazen. But don’t be deterred. The installation is impressive — both in its expectedly high artistic quality and its multifaceted intellectual conversation. “Don’t Be a Stranger!” invites us into the Dual-Degree studio with the assertion that there’s always strangeness in coming home. Or, if not, there really should be.

To finish the meal, the cheese and truffle dessert plate is served simply with a shortbread cookie, marmalade, two truffles and chunks of Gorgonzola cheese. The crunchy cookie pairs nicely with the tangy marmalade, and it is refreshing to finish the meal with the subtle sweetness of truffles coated in cocoa powder. This is the only dessert option at the restaurant, so if you have a more aggressive sweet tooth, you might want to hold off until your midnight frozen yogurt run. Figidini also offers a varied selection of local Providence-brewed beers, which — though a bit pricey — prove a nice break from Natty Lights. The restaurant offers Marzen of Revival Brewing Company or — if you are looking for a hoppier brew — the

Mercy Brown by Trinity Brewhouse. For those seeking an off-the-hill reprieve from their studies, Figidini has an upbeat yet cozy atmosphere and efficient service. Situated right off Kennedy Plaza, it’s easily reached by bus, a must for students trekking through these wintry conditions. Pizza aside, drinks and appetizers can push the bill to well over $60 ­— but it’s a fun way to eat away the stress of shopping period if you are willing to throw down a few extra dollars for a great pie. Figidini Wood Fire Grill. 67 Washington St. Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am - 11 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays. No reservations accepted. 401.808.6886.

6 arts & culture



Students sporting “college street style” top Shopping Period’s first page. Roberto Gedeon ’15 and Alexandra Kordas ’15 work with the Brown community to produce the blog’s content.

Campus blog showcases student fashion scene Undergrad pair draws from family roots in fashion, reinvents common conceptions of college street style By PALAK WALIA CONTRIBUTING WRITER

For some, shopping period is a time of stress, frantic emails and existential crises. But for Roberto Gedeon ’15 and Alexandra Kordas ’15, Shopping Period is simply the next step in the evolution of their personal aesthetic — a street style blog aimed at bringing the multiplicity of student fashion to the wider Brown community. Street style — which describes images of fashionable individuals in their own environments and outfits — emerged as a phenomenon roughly five years ago, said Gedeon, one of the pair of bloggers behind Shopping Period. He created the blog, which launched in November, with his longtime friend Kordas, working with numerous friends and strangers to produce its unique content. Close-knit beginnings Friends since their first semester at Brown, Kordas and Gedeon collaborated on a college street style spread featuring Brown students for Teen Vogue last semester. Kordas recruited and styled the photoshoots, while Gedeon served as photographer. Gedeon, who has done work for various designers and magazines in

his native Colombia, said he has been taking photos since high school. “I know if someone is dressed well, (he or she) wants to be photographed,” Gedeon said, adding that his passion for photography led him to fashion. Kordas attributes her interest in style to her mother, a jewelry designer in London. As a student in an all-girls high school with uniforms, Kordas cultivated a distinct style identity. “I dyed my hair pink and had piercings,” she said. Kordas has worked for Teen Vogue and Cosmopolitan and previously ran her own blog — London’s Best Friend — where she covered events, shows and gallery openings related to fashion, art, film and photography. A former style guru for the blog College Fashionista, she said she also wanted more freedom and fewer content restrictions. Vested interests “We didn’t create the site for any purpose but purely to take really cool pictures without any regulation,” Kordas said. The pair utilized their friends’ strengths to help launch the blog, Gedeon said. Chloe Kariyannis ’16 helped design the site’s logo and Kappi Patterson ’15 wrote the website’s code. Gedeon and Kordas feature Brown

and Rhode Island School of Design students whom they know, or approach students they see around campus. Kordas explained that the pair zeroes in on possible models “who we think have taste, style or something about them that’s an edge. Everyone here has really interesting styles with such an eclectic mix.” After reaching out to potential models, the pair then coordinates a day with the students to photograph them in outfits of the models’ choosing. Photographing students in their personal styles makes them seem “like they are naked,” Kordas said. “They are totally vulnerable. They will start saying things and opening up.” “Every photo is like a character. It’s about the person’s personality,” Kordas said, adding that the pair finds it hard to pick just one image to be published from the many shots taken during the photo shoot. “When you’re in high school, you have to subscribe to a certain clique or look. When you come to college, you can be yourself,” Kordas said of the diverse styles found on campus. ‘Playing dress-up’ Layla Heidari ’15 ­— one of the models on the blog — said since she is so close with Kordas and Gedeon, the shoot felt like she was just hanging out with her friends. Heidari said Shopping Period is not a college-centric blog, though it

does pinpoint a young audience. “It’s a great age group, where fashion metamorphosis usually occurs.” Heidari said she comes from a fashionable family and as a result has always been well-dressed. “Fashion has evolved so much, I’ve been able to pull pieces from my mom’s closet,” Heidari said. She does not like to wear color, and finds herself putting emphasis on various accessories. Heidari said she likes to mix casual urban pieces with feminine pieces, occasionally incorporating animal prints. Yvonne Cha ’16, another student featured on Shopping Period, said her fashion-designer mother is her biggest style influence, adding that the bag she carries in her photo on the blog is actually her mother’s. Camille Coy ’16 said she thinks she was featured due to her hair rather than her outfit. Coy said she likes to have unnatural hair colors, because she cannot dye it when she is older, but she joked about having pink hair when she is a grandmother. Coy said she draws her inspiration from Japanese fashion magazines, people she sees on the street, fashion blogs, artists and her Lebanese culture. “I like to make art, and every morning I get the chance to decorate my body,” she said. Alli Schaaff ’14 had previously been approached before by the Unhemmed Magazine street style team and the student group Fashion at Brown. Gedeon

approached her on the Main Green one day to ask her to appear on the blog, she said. Schaaff said she has been more style-conscious since coming to Brown. “Just walking around campus, so many people have such great style,” Schaaff said. “I think it just encourages me to kind of investigate my own style and try to express that. ... Every day is like playing dress-up.” Tailor-made Gedeon said he and Kordas are focused on producing content to make the site more successful without commercializing it. They considered expanding to other schools, but found the quality of photos they investigated to be substandard, he said. Schaaff praised the overall quality of the blog’s content, which she credits to the strong rapport between its two coordinators. “Roberto is a really gifted photographer and Alex is an amazing stylist,” she said. Coy noted the sleek graphic design and diversity of people highlighted on the blog — in addition to showcasing an approximately equal number of men and women, the site incorporates a wide range of personal aesthetics, she said. “Unlike major city styles where everyone is doing the same color scheme or same trend, on college campuses, everyone is drawing from inspirations way beyond Providence,” Heidari said.

sports tuesday 7




Women’s squash keeps rolling, men split matches Both squads beat Colby, women edge out Middlebury and improve to 9-2 overall By HANNAH CAMHI SPORTS STAFF WRITER

In its first weekend of play since the end of winter break, the No. 10 women’s squash team continued its nonconference dominance with victories over Colby College and Middlebury College Saturday. Mina Shakarshy ’15 showed her experience on the court, clinching the deciding match for Bruno against the Panthers (7-6) by winning three consecutive games. The men’s team split the weekend, defeating Colby (7-5) by a score of 7-2 before falling to Middlebury (7-6) after dropping the first three matches. Women’s squash (9-2, 0-2 Ivy) Bruno started its round-robin tournament with a bang, defeating Colby (1-3) by a score of 9-0. This victory was Brown’s third 9-0 sweep in a row, with the first two coming in matches against Bowdoin College (6-10) and Amherst College (5-7). The Bears demonstrated strong play at every position in their lineup by not dropping a single game to the Mules. Isabel Scherl ’17 dominated her opponent in the eighth position, bageling her in the third game after winning the first two 11-4, 11-7. Brown coasted to victory against Colby in a game that offered preparation for the Bears’ matchup against Middlebury. The Mules “weren’t very strong,” said Emily Richmond ’16. “It was a good warm-up match because we were playing on those same courts later that day against Middlebury and that was going to be an important match for us.” After a breezy warm-up, the Bears took on the more competitive Middlebury lineup. “We haven’t played them for a couple years,” Richmond said. “This is the first time I’ve played them.” Brown raced to a lead, with the lower part of the lineup notching two wins. The score read 2-1 by Richmond’s fifth game, with one loss to the Panthers coming from a five-game match in the sixth spot. Richmond won her match in five sets to give the Bears a 3-1 lead. “I hadn’t expected it to be such a close match,” Richmond said, adding that she was glad to help Bruno inch toward five points to win the match. Brown continued its conquest by winning another match, extending its lead to 4-1. Bruno only needed one more match to clinch, but with four close contests still taking place, the meet was far from over. Two five-game Bruno losses in the second and fifth spots were all Middlebury would need to bounce right back into the match. “Then it was down to two matches,” Richmond said, noting that either » See SQUASH, page 8


The men’s swimming and diving team won seven out of 14 races against Columbia and 12 out of 13 against Bryant this weekend, while the women won four out of 14 against Columbia and 12 out of 13 versus Bryant.

Bears brush off Bulldogs, lose to Lions For swimming and diving teams, Columbia proves a more watertight foe than Bryant By CORMAC CUMMISKEY SPORTS STAFF WRITER

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams competed in two dual meets this weekend, hosting challengers Bryant University and Columbia. Friday, the men and women defeated the Bulldogs by scores of 174-67 and 165-76, respectively. But Saturday, the Bears fell to the Lions by scores of 167.5-132.5 and 185-113. Bryant Brown encountered little difficulty in the home meet against Bryant, as the men’s and women’s squads combined to win 24 of 26 events. By beating the Bulldogs, the Bears extended their perfect non-conference record. “Bryant’s a strong team, but we knew we were better than them,” said captain Brian Barr ’15. “We just wanted to practice racing.” On the men’s side, the story of the day was the strong performance by the sophomore class. Cory Mayfield ’16 finished first in the 200-yard freestyle. Classmate Ryan Saenger ’16 not

only won the 1,000-yard freestyle, but also swam a leg on the Bears’ winning 200-yard freestyle relay. On the diving platform, Sazzy Gourley ’16 topped all competitors in both the 1-meter and the 3-meter events. There were double event winners aplenty for the women’s team as well. Elly Vitek ’17 triumphed in the 1,000 free and the 100-yard backstroke. Paige Gilley ’14 and co-captain Kate Dillione ’15 started the day by winning the 100-yard freestyle and 50yard freestyle, respectively, teaming up later in later in Brown’s victorious 200 free relay. Columbia The Bears rested for a mere 24 hours before returning to action against Columbia. Dillione said that this short recovery was “good practice” for the Ivy League Championships, when the team will compete morning, noon and night, for three straight days. Despite once again swimming at home, Bruno won a considerably smaller share of events than in the

meet against Bryant. Altogether, the men’s and women’s squads claimed just 12 of 32 potential victories. The outcome was not entirely inconsistent with the teams’ expectations. “Columbia has always been one of the better teams in the Ivy League,” Barr said. “They lost a couple of studs this year, so we were hoping to maybe squeak out a win, but they came ready to swim.” Dillione added that Columbia “goes into every dual meet like it’s the end of the season.” The Lions wore full-body competition suits, which the Bears typically do not break out for duels. “The only thing that really matters to us is how we do at the Ivy League Championships,” she said. Confronted with rivals as redoubtable as the Lions, Tommy Glenn ’14 put up a herculean fight. The senior standout secured no fewer than four first-place finishes for the Bears. Glenn took home titles in both the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly events, the 400yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay, which he anchored. Barr praised Glenn’s performance highly. “Tommy’s the base of the team. We always expect him to win, because he’s such a stud. When Tommy’s on,

it lifts us all up — it motivates us.” Thomas Mercurio ’16 and Connor Lohman ’17 took first and second place, respectively, in the 200-yard breaststroke, contributing vital points to the Bears’ score. On the women’s side, Reia Tong ’16 enjoyed a breakout meet, putting together a performance that was almost as eye-popping as Glenn’s. Tong swam to first-place in the 50 free, 100 free and 400 free relay. “Reia did great yesterday,” said Dillione, who backed up Tong in the 100 free by taking second place. “It was great to see (Tong) being as dominant as she is in practice.” Across the pool, diver Rachel Speakman ’16 logged a win in the 1-meter diving event and took second place in the 3-meter event. Reflecting on the meet, Barr said the Bears could take away a valuable lesson. “I think it showed that we have a problem getting out of the starting gate quickly,” he said. “We were a little shaky the first few events of the meet. I think we’ve got to start firing on all cylinders right from the start.” The Bears will return to competition on Saturday, swimming against Cornell on the road.

8 sports tuesday » SQUASH, from page 7


Shakarshy or captain Dori Rahbar ’14, a former Herald contributing writer, needed to win. Rahbar has battled a hamstring injury for most of the season, so the team’s hopes largely rested on Shakarshy, Richmond said. Shakarshy did not disappoint. After losing the first game 11-4, she went on to win the next three, 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 to clinch the match for the Bears. “She is really good in clutch matches like that,” said Head Coach Stuart LeGassick. “Nine times out of 10, she’ll come through.”


Despite its loss at Rutgers University Friday, the gymnastics team dominated the balance beam, with Corey Holman ’16 and Allison Rubenstein ’15 tying for second place and Diana Walters ’16 finishing fourth.

» HOTEL, from page 1 and promises of more materials and changing night shifts,” Rivera said. A “worker of the month” award was introduced just a few months ago with prizes of either a computer or TV for the winner, Rivera said, adding that he believes these management tactics were intended to stop the workers’ movement. Rivera said he felt victimized by management after he was suspended and almost fired for using a phone charger in the lost and found for a few hours, adding that this move was likely made in response to his leadership in unionization efforts. He was able to keep his position at the hotel after a large group of his colleagues and Unite Here Local 217 went to the management to demand he get his job back but was placed under probation for 90 days, Rivera said. The Renaissance Hotel also distributed campaign information to its employees, which said that even if its employees unionized, “No law says we would have to sign a contract.” These alleged various attempts to coerce and restrain workers have been cited in the NLRB complaint as a violation of Section 7 and Section 8(a) of the National Labor Relations Act. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the national Department of Labor issued citations and fines to the Renaissance in

October for violations regarding the use of dangerous chemicals, forcing the hotel to pay $8,000 in fines. When employees requested copies of the OSHA injury logs, hotel management wrote in response that it did not have the last five years’ records, despite being required by federal law to hold these records, according to a press release from Unite Here Local 217. The Student Labor Alliance and the Brown International Socialist Organization have been involved in increasing awareness of the complaint. “We don’t want alumni and staff to support a business that takes advantage of workers and taxpayer money,” said Mariela Martinez ’14, an SLA member. Ian Georgianna ’15, a member of the Brown International Socialist Organization, participated in a December boycott to convince organizations to support the Renaissance workers. Following the boycott, the Unitarian Universalist Association canceled a block of rooms they had previously reserved for their annual convention. The Brown students involved in the movement are also trying to persuade the University to sign a pledge vowing not to do business with the Renaissance until the situation is resolved. Jenna Karlin from Unite Here Local 217 said she is hopeful and confident that the workers’ rights will be recognized in the scheduled hearing in March.


Men’s squash (4-9, 0-2 Ivy) The men shared in the women’s success over Colby, defeating the Mules 7-2. The only wins Colby walked away with were straight set wins in the seventh and eighth positions. “They had a couple of good players in their lineup that challenged us — there are really no walkovers

in college squash, but we won pretty comfortably,” said co-captain Blake Reinson ’14. “I think we wanted to be focused and try to get another win.” Making his winter season debut, Alex Baldock ’17 clinched the match against Colby. It is “great to have him back in the lineup,” LeGassick said. Later that day, the men faced a tough Middlebury squad, falling to the Panthers 6-3. “We got down 3-0 right from the start and that put us in a bit of a hole,” Reinson said. “There were a couple of close matches,” he said, calling the Panthers “a pretty solid team.” Though Oliver Booth ’16 and Jack Blasberg ’16, two of the team’s top three players, put up a tough fight, both fell in four sets, Reinson said. But he expressed confidence the Bears could redeem themselves when they next face the Panthers. “If we get them again next time, it could (go) either way,” Reinson said. Next for the Bears is a trip to Philadelphia to take on Penn (6-2, 2-1) Feb. 2.


Workers at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the hotel of coercing workers against unionization.

today 9



smart shoppers VERNEY-WOOLLEY

LUNCH Kansas City Fried Chicken, Red Pepper Frittata, Roasted Baby Carrots and Red Onions, Apple Squares

Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich, Yellow Beets Roasted with Red Onion, Sandwich Bar, Whoopie Pie

DINNER Beef Pot Pie, Italian Vegetable Saute, Root Vegetable and Polenta Lasagna, Chocolate Sundae Cake

Roasted Vegetable Melange, Italian Meatloaf, Vegan Siena Roasted Couscous, Washington Apple Cake




During shopping period, seats were scarce in Wilson 102. Over 120 students are already enrolled in BIOL 1120L: “Biomaterials.”

comics Cat Ears | Najatee’ McNeil

School Daze | Christina Tapiero

calendar TODAY



Wayne Horowitz, of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, speaks at the 2014 Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies Research Colloquium. Wilbour Hall, Room 302 9:00 P.M. LATE AS F@$& FEATURING DAVID BW

Want the talk show experience but don’t have cable? PW puts on a live talk show in the Upspace including music and student performances. TF Green Hall

q u o t e o f t h e d ay

“Every day is like playing dress-up.” — Alli Schaaff ’14

See Student Fashion on page 6.




Jonathan Juadken of Rhodes College presents the first segment in the Antisemitism and Islamophobia Lecture Series. Stephen F. Robert ’62 Campus Center, Petteruti Lounge 8:00 P.M. THE BODY WHICH IS THE TOWN

The TAPS department presents The Body which is the Town, as a part of its Writing is Live festival, which features plays by writers in Brown’s graduate Writing for Performance Program. Leeds Theater

10 commentary



The importance of institutional memory

Last week, Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 was appointed to the presidency of the University of Michigan, leaving another administrative position to be filled. As the search for a provost continues alongside an ongoing search for the dean of the College post vacated by former Dean Katherine Bergeron, it is important to understand the implications of the significant change in leadership. Specifically, we support Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies Harold Roth’s call in a recent Herald article for all provost candidates to come from within the University, given the importance of “long-term experience with the unique ethos” that characterizes Brown. A provost from within the University would be particularly aware of Brown-specific concerns, more familiar with students and the broader community, and better able to preserve institutional history and character as the University and the higher education landscape rapidly change. It is worthy of note that Schlissel’s move to Michigan is part of a growing trend of Ivy League provosts taking the helm of large state institutions. Yesterday, the Chronicle of Higher Education pointed out that among “the six Ivy League provosts to most recently pursue college presidencies,” Schlissel is part of the “half (who) have landed at major public research institutions.” In practice, this may illustrate the growing homogenization of higher education, as smaller Ivy League schools have continued to embrace more of a research focus than in the past. Last year, Dartmouth’s interim president Carol Holt, who was previously the provost, became chancellor of the University of North Carolina at College Hill. Schlissel told the Chronicle that he was attracted to Michigan’s status as a “full-service research university, with scholars across such a wide spectrum.” While Brown has increased its research focus in past years, promoting biomedical research and establishing a new School of Public Health, there is still a commitment to undergraduates and liberal learning that differentiates it from a larger research-focused university. Given the extent of the changes over the past 15 years, a provost who has been at Brown for quite some time would be more familiar with Brown’s trajectory, and presumably more committed to institutional stability. It is certainly not the case that a president or provost must be an alum or faculty member in order to be a well-regarded leader of the University. President Francis Wayland, remembered for his anti-slavery writings and his commitment to public libraries, was the first non-alum president of Brown since founder James Manning. Similarly, President Henry Wriston, one of the most celebrated leaders in Brown’s history, was neither an alum nor a Baptist minister, previously a prerequisite. It goes without saying, of course, that Ruth Simmons was new to the institution when she was appointed president, yet she enjoyed perennially high approval ratings and catalyzed unprecedented levels of giving. But the University has been through such a significant period of change that new administrators are charged with supporting the school while retaining Brown’s historic character and mission. Given the circumstances, a candidate familiar with the school would be the best choice.


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commentary 11


Library blues SUZANNE ENZERINK opinions columnist

While the term “library” signifies for students anything from research help to workplace to social hub, the image of libraries in popular culture is decidedly more negative. As the 2007 documentary “The Hollywood Librarian” explored, “library” mostly conjures up images of stuffy old rooms staffed by spectacled spinsters. While this negative portrayal may seem harmless — after all, librarians are hardly the only profession suffering from Hollywood’s perpetual mischaracterization — it is merely one incarnation of an assault on public libraries that is exacerbating the gap between rich and poor in the United States. A recent article in the Atlantic identified education level and age as decisive factors in how many books Americans read a year. But a Pew Research Center study this month on which the article was based revealed a far more pressing issue: Reading is an invariably classed pastime. The realities of making a living often leave little leisure time for picking up a novel or a history book. If you’re working around the clock to make ends meet, the latest Donna Tartt or Toni Morrison doesn’t exactly figure in your daily schedule. The Pew study found that those earning $30,000 or less only read a median of three books a year, while those earning $75,000 or more read eight. Twenty-three percent of Americans did not read a

single book this past year. A National Endowment for the Arts study found that only a little over half of 18- to 24-year-olds read a book for pleasure — that is, something not required for school or work. Many of those who do pick up books don’t do so at Amazon or a bookstore. They go to a local public library to quell costs and expand options. Circulation of public library materials, contrary to the oftderided “decline of the American book lover,” as the Atlantic called it, has remained steady or even increased as much as 50 percent over the past decade in major cities like New York, according to a 2013 study by the Center for an Urban Future. It is then inexcusable that public libraries face enormous budget cuts in exactly those places they are needed the most. With the average college student now having access to the Internet on two to three devices, it is easy to forget that millions of Americans have none. They need the library to do homework, to apply for jobs, to converse with other community members or to simply sit and think in silence when there is no quiet or room at home. Ninety-five percent of participants in a 2013 Pew study agreed that public libraries are crucial in giving “everyone a chance to succeed.” However, since fiscal year 2009, the budget for New York’s libraries has been cut by 20 percent. Cities such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles have experienced similar cuts. Access to libraries is a crucial factor in educational success in an increasingly information-based society. Far from just access to books

themselves, public libraries offer a range of programs that foster skills from public speaking to writing to basic computer skills. Such programs also allow room for conversations and “me time,” and it is here that the true importance of the public library lies. It is telling that “having a quiet, safe place” was listed as the third most important attribute of libraries after materials and librarian assistance in the 2013 Pew study. Black, Hispanic, female and low-income Americans disproportionately marked all three of these

Even in a digital age, the physical space of the public library remains indispensable. attributes as “very important.” The study thus confirms that libraries are especially important to minorities and already disadvantaged groups. The equalizing power of libraries is hardly news. When Benjamin Franklin chronicled his life in his autobiography, he recounted special pride in having established the first subscription library in North America, as libraries “improved the general conversation of the Americans.” Until the government reverses the budget cuts, we can all play our part. Donate to a library in your hometown, or take time to volunteer. The

Providence Community Library works with a friends system, in which people can devote their time to fundraising, organizing events and promoting the library in their neighborhood. Transitioning to digital initiatives can also save the libraries money, though this comes at a cost. In October, the nation’s first allelectronic public library opened in San Antonio. Patrons can check out books on e-readers, and check out e-readers themselves. While access to technology is a big step forward in the low-income neighborhood without a bookstore and where “most families in the area still don’t have Wi-Fi,” according to a USA Today article, the personal interaction that Franklin prioritized is lost. All books are stored in a cloud, allowing patrons to check out books from the confines of their homes. The library as a community space has been replaced by the library as a digital repository. Online initiatives and programs are looking for new ways to supplement this style of reading to facilitate discussion. However, if home is not the “quiet, safe place” that is so important to the reading public, there is no e-reader or noisecanceling headphone in the world that can compensate for that. Even in a digital age, the physical space of the public library remains indispensable. Rhode Island is also feeling the financial strain. Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 P’17 has proposed to level-fund the libraries for fiscal year 2015 — that is, freezing state support at $11.1 million, which leaves Rhode Island libraries in a relatively luxuri-

ous position compared to nationwide cuts. But with inflation, there remains little room for innovation or new programs. The Providence Public Library system appointed a new director this year with a strong background in digital learning and online media, but the question remains whether libraries will be able to afford advances in both their digital collections and their physical spaces. In an alarming development, the East Providence Rumford library was sold last year for $230,000 due to budget constraints. It is currently being turned into a private home. No one can be forced to read, but everyone should at least have the option to. Recent discussion on how to “save” reading has incorrectly typified not reading as a wholly individual decision rather than a financial issue. Reports on Beyonce’s influence on the sales of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s exceptional novel “Americanah” are just one example. Beyonce included a lengthy sample from Adichie’s TED talk in her song “***Flawless,” after which Amazon sales of the book skyrocketed from #861 to #179. Various media took this to mean that interest and celebrity endorsement are decisive factors in who decides to pick up a book. But while celebrities may spark interest in certain works, it all starts with access. The decline of reading is not just a personal choice, but mostly an economic necessity.

Suzanne Enzerink GS welcomes comments at

Shibboleth ZACHARY INGBER opinions columnist

There are many religious students at Brown. Cheery students from the Christian Fellowship frequently give out hot chocolate on the Main Green. Catholic Mass is packed with students. The Muslim Students’ Association and Brown/ RISD Hillel are central parts of many students’ college experiences. But remarkably, it is still taboo to be religious at Brown. There is a general level of disdain toward religion, as many students associate religiosity with dogmatism or incorrigibility. For all of the talk of acceptance and tolerance of ideas at Brown, I feel that religious individuals often receive the most flak. Labeled “anti-intellectual,” religious students frequently retreat from political discussion or social commentary. Many forget that religion is not anti-intellectual — at least not the religion we see at Brown. Most religions are founded upon beliefs of questioning, learning and challenging. Proper study of religious literature revolves around discussion and critical inquiry. Surely there should be little place for those attempting to impose their religious beliefs on others, but Brown students do not do this. From my experience, our students are interested in educating and learning from others. The ostracism of religious students is magnified in political conversations. Religious in-

dividuals are considered reactionary or ultraconservative, and cast as opponents to progressive causes. And ironically, many religious students at Brown have progressive beliefs that stem from their religiosity. I once asked one of my Catholic friends about his faith and politics. Because he is a staunch Democrat, I assumed that his faith played a minimal role in his political values. Instead, he asserted that his Catholicism influenced his strong belief in social justice and aiding those who are less fortunate. As a campus, we cannot afford to ignore the voices of our religious peers in political con-

Though I am not suggesting that religious students at Brown categorically support school prayer, this statistic illustrates the great disparity between College Hill and other parts of the country. When we pursue careers in policy or public service after graduation, we will encounter diverse religious and political beliefs. It is thus crucial that we listen to them on our own campus. I imagine our historically progressive campus has seldom been a welcoming place for overtly religious students. That said, I believe that this intolerance exists in part because there are limited opportunities for serious dis-

For all of the talk of acceptance and tolerance of ideas at Brown, I feel that religious individuals often receive the most flak. Labeled “anti-intellectual,” religious students frequently retreat from political discussion or social commentary. versations. We must remember that Brown is not a sampling of the American populace. Americans consider religion a key part of our social fabric. Certain things that the Brown student body takes for granted are often rejected by other parts of the country, or by populations with different political persuasions. While I would guess that most Brown students oppose prayer in public schools, data from the 2012 General Social Survey revealed that 73 percent of Southerners disapprove of the Supreme Court’s ban on prayer in public schools.

cussion about faith. While various religious groups have their own discussions, there does not exist a common space for Brown students to engage with their peers about spirituality, God and religion. This initiative would empower students of faith and allow others the chance to learn and listen. These exchanges would go far toward fostering interfaith understanding and creating a network of students who consider religion an important part of their lives. The groundwork is laid for this quiet revo-

lution. The Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life is a tragically underused and widely misunderstood institution. The office is not only for religious students seeking conversations on faith, but also for students simply looking for another voice, opinion or outlet for questions and answers. Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson, the University chaplain, inspires me every time I hear her speak. In addition, student-run religious groups are more welcoming than one might think. More students should attend a mass, hear a lecture or celebrate a holiday they’ve never experienced. Last year, I invited my Protestant religious studies professor to accompany me to Friday night services at Hillel. It was one of my most memorable experiences at Brown. In the Book of Judges, the tribe of Gilead defeated a rebellious tribe of Ephraim near the Jordan River. As individuals scurried back to their respective lands, those of Gilead required each individual to say the word “shibboleth,” a password that would identify the Ephraimites amongst the victors. Early on in my time at Brown, I felt I had to use a proverbial password in order to ascertain whether or not the person I was talking to would be tolerant of my dedication to religion. While I am now beyond that stage, I hope that soon enough no Brown student will have to murmur “shibboleth” again.

Zach Ingber ’15 would love to talk to you about religion. Or atheism. Or anything in between. He can be contacted at




Overmatched Bears fall at Yale Twenty-two turnovers and lackluster field goal shooting contribute to road defeat

Joe Donahue Games Across town at Northeastern University, eight Bears finished their days at the top of the podium. On the women’s side, the Bears found more success in distance events as Lily Harrington ’16 won the 3,000-meter run with a 9:51.96 time. For the men, sprinters Raul Green ’17 and Kelly Ryan ’16 captured first place in the 200-meter and 400-meter, respectively. The Bears’ best showing of the meet came from their throwers, as Bruno men and women swept the shot put and weight throw. Victoria Buhr ’14 won her second meet in as many weeks, with a throw of 14.52 meters. Kebbeh Darpolor ’16 took the weight throw crown with a throw of 17.26. Courtland Clavette ’15 topped all male putters with his 16.59-meter shot, and Matthew O’Hara ’16 finished first in the weight throw at 17.17 meters. DAVID DECKEY / HERALD

passes up court, and they were able to convert quickly on them.” Any plans Bruno had for a quick comeback at the beginning of the second half were extinguished by Yale’s defense, as the Bears went scoreless for the first five minutes. The Bulldogs safely guarded their 20-point lead for most of the second half. Plagued by 22 turnovers, the Bears had difficulty posing a threat from the field, scoring on just 14 of 43 attempted field goals. The Bulldogs made 31 of 60 chances from the field, for a season-best conversion rate of 51.7 percent. Bruno relied on the freethrow line for its scoring, converting 17 out of 20 from the charity stripe.

“The number one place we lost points was in transition,” Burr said. “That was the biggest Achilles’ heel.” The Bears will go for their first Ivy League win of the season this weekend, when they head to New York to take on Cornell (9-7, 1-1) and Columbia (4-12, 1-1). “The first two (Ivy) games obviously didn’t go the way we wanted, but we’re learning from them and we’ll bounce back,” Bikofsky said. Burr echoed Bikofsky’s words of optimism for the next couple of games. “Starting out the way we did is not what we expected,” she said, “but I feel pretty confident in our leaders to keep the team focused and ready.”

Bruno bounces back after opening loss


The women’s tennis team fell short in its season opener against Boston College Friday, losing 4-3 to the Eagles (2-0). But on Sunday, the team fought back and beat Quinnipiac 6-1 and the University at Albany, SUNY 7-0. Bruno’s top two, Dayna Lord ’17 and Hannah Camhi ’16, a Herald sports staff writer, led the Bears (2-1) through the weekend. Lord won all three of her matches, while Camhi won twice Sunday. “We were excited to get the season going,” Lord said. “We are playing a lot


“We’re learning from them, and we’ll bounce back,” said Sophie Bikofsky ’15 of the women’s basketball team’s first two Ivy League losses.



Men’s and women’s track and field Distance runners Ned Willig ’16 and Heidi Caldwell ’14 posted impressive performances for Bruno at the Terrier Invitational, hosted by Boston University. Hundreds of athletes from schools all over the Northeast made for a competitive field, but Willig topped 81 runners in the 1,000-meter run with a blistering time of 2 minutes, 22.35 seconds. Caldwell shattered a school record in the 3,000-meter run, posting a time of 9:28.48 and taking home seventh place. Three other Bruno women — Alex Stanton ’15, Sasha Teninty ’14 and former Herald senior staff writer Katherine DeSimone ’14 — turned in times that rank in the top 10 in Brown history, but none of the three won their respective events, a testament to the talent pool at the meet.


Underclassmen lead the way as Brown tops Quinnipiac, Albany in Sunday matches


Terrier Invitational


The women’s basketball team lost its second Ivy League game of the year Friday, falling to Yale 73-52 on the road. The Bears (6-10, 0-2 Ivy) were heavily outscored from the field the entire game — ceding a 14-point run to the Bulldogs (8-8, 2-0) at the end of the first half to guarantee the Elis a safe lead for the rest of the game. “We made uncharacteristic mistakes, like ... 22 turnovers ... in that game on Friday, which isn’t really like us,” said Sophie Bikofsky ’15. “Transition defense was one of the main things we struggled with.” Friday’s game marked the seventh time this season the Bears conceded 70 points or more. “We really gave them some easy baskets and got ourselves in a hole, (and) weren’t able to bounce back off,” said Head Coach Jean Marie Burr. The game started out slowly — the first field goal came after more than two minutes of play when Carly Wellington ’14 made a layup for the Bears. The competition remained close for a while, with multiple lead changes. At 11:55, Brown reached its largest lead of the night, going up 16-12. But immediately after, Bruno found itself in a scoring slump that lasted more than six minutes, allowing Yale to take a seven-point lead. The Bears briefly mounted a comeback — putting up seven points in two minutes — but quickly suffered another scoring drought over the last four minutes of the half. The Bulldogs took the opportunity to push their lead even further, scoring the next 14 points to end the half ahead 40-23. “They went into a scoring (run),” Burr said. Yale “got a couple of long


better and improving on all the things we need to be improving on.” Lord and Ammu Mandalap ’16 recorded each of Bruno’s victories Friday afternoon. Doubles victories from a Lord-Camhi duo and a pairing of Mandalap and Ashley Noyes ’16 gave Bruno a third point, but the Eagles would allow no more: BC took each of the other four singles matches in two sets apiece. Despite the tough matches and final results, Olivia Hsu ’16 said the team remained “very competitive.” “We were just trying to get back in the groove of things,” Hsu said, adding that she remains hopeful for the upcoming season. “The team chemistry is really great,” she said. The Bears found themselves without Hsu Friday due to her injured left wrist. Friday was a tough match for the Bears due to the team’s youth, Noyes said.

“It came down to a freshman match,” said Noyes, who has been sidelined recently due to a back injury and a concussion suffered last season. Bruno had much less trouble with Quinnipiac (1-2) the next morning. Five of six Bears won their singles matches, and the doubles pairings from Friday tallied two more victories, leading Bruno over the Bobcats. Both Hsu and Noyes returned to action against Quinnipiac. Later in the day Sunday, Brown remained strong and swept its second opponent, Albany (1-1), by a score of 7-0. Noyes said there was improvement since Friday’s matches and that the team’s main goal is to stay focused on the early season. Lord echoed her teammate’s sentiment. “We need to stay positive and keep working hard,” she said. “We want to be Ivy League champions.”

Rutgers University Bruno gymnasts faced a tall task Friday, traveling to No. 18 Rutgers University for a duel with the Scarlet Knights. A valiant effort from the Bears fell short as they lost 193.025-190.625. The balance beam proved the most successful event for Bruno, with Corey Holman ’16 and Allison Rubenstein ’15 tying for second place and Diana Walters ’16 finishing fourth. Rutgers gymnasts took the top three spots in floor, uneven parallel bars and vault. The all-around crown went to Rutgers’ Alexis Gunzelman, while Michelle Shnayder ’14 led the Bears with an all-around score of 37.925, taking third place overall.

Home meet Sunday saw the Bears score a higher total — 191.950 — and notch victories over two opponents, Brockport State and Rhode Island College. But the Bruno gymnasts were edged out once again, this time by Bridgeport University. Alexandra Chretien ’16 and Rubenstein took home first place in the uneven parallel bars and balance beam, respectively. Walters posted an impressive 38.400 in the all-around, leading the Bears with a second-place finish.

Wrestling No. 6 Cornell Cornell has dominated Ivy League wrestling in recent years, and the Big Red continued its command Saturday with a clean sweep of Bruno, 38-0. All 10 weight classes went to Cornell, including one pin and two major decisions. The 184-pound weight class produced a marquee matchup between No. 3 Gabe Dean of Cornell and No. 10 Ophir Bernstein ’15. The match went down to the wire, but a reversal from Dean in the third period was enough to vault him ahead for the 3-2 victory.

Sacred Heart Bruno bounced back Sunday with a commanding 34-3 drumming of Sacred Heart University. Bernstein stuck his opponent for his 10th pin of the season, and Steven Galiardo ’17 manhandled his competitor at the 149-pound class on his way to a 12-0 major decision.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014  

The Tuesday, January 28, 2014 issue of the Brown Daily Herald