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BROWN DAILY HERALD vol. cxlix, no. 38

since 1891


Philosopher explores different types of anger Drawing from Greek myth and political reform movements, Nussbaum reflects on justice By MARINA RENTON CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Exploring the traditional association of anger with revenge, Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago Law School professor and former Brown professor, cited the “Transition” anger utilized by political reformers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as its more productive counterpart during a lecture Monday afternoon. Nussbaum’s lecture, entitled “Injustice and the Dubious Value of Anger,” was sponsored by the Program for Ethical Inquiry and is part of a weeklong series of lectures and workshops. “It’s really always a great treat to be back at Brown,” said Nussbaum, who taught philosophy, classics and comparative literature at the University from 1984 to 1995, to an enthusiastic audience in Salomon 001. Nussbaum, considered one of the country’s foremost philosophers,

currently holds appointments in the University of Chicago’s philosophy and political science departments, as well as at the law and divinity schools, said Bernard Reginster, professor and chair of Brown’s Department of Philosophy. Nussbaum began her lecture recounting a story from the Ancient Greek Oresteia about the introduction of a justice system. She described two transformations that take place. In the first transformation, the goddess Athena introduces a justice system to replace the “seemingly endless cycle of blood vengeance,” Nussbaum said. Athena takes power out of the hands of the vindictive Furies but subsequently offers them a place of honor in the city. In accepting the place of honor, the “repulsive and horrifying” Furies must undergo a transformation of their own to be part of a working legal system, Nussbaum said. “You could not put wild dogs in a cage and come out with justice.” The second transformation is “crucial to the success of the first one,” Nussbaum added. The transformation of the Furies introduced a key idea in Nussbaum’s » See NUSSBAUM, page 2


J. Timmons Roberts, professor of environmental studies and sociology, said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the legislation he crafted with the help of Brown students and outside consultants getting passed.

Bill aims to curb R.I. carbon emissions Resilient Rhode Island Act would attempt to make state more energy-efficient and create jobs By ALEXANDER BLUM SENIOR STAFF WRITER

The Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 — developed by Brown students working with a faculty member and outside consultants — was introduced to the Rhode Island General Assembly by


Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, last week. The University provided funding to support the legislation, which outlines a strategy to lower Rhode Island’s carbon emissions and prepare the state’s infrastructure for impending climate change. “It really is a ground-up, original piece of legislation,” said J. Timmons Roberts, professor of environmental studies and sociology, who helped coordinate the efforts of the students and consultants working on the legislation’s development. A total of 15 students worked or will work on developing and promoting the bill, splitting the work

over winter break, this semester and the summer, he said. In addition to students, two outside consultants — Ken Payne, Rhode Island Food Policy Council chair and former policy analyst for the state Senate, and Meg Kerr, treasurer of the Rhode Island Blueways Alliance — have also helped write the bill. In order to draft a successful bill, it is important to have people like Payne, who are familiar with Rhode Island’s unique political climate and “really know how to write complex pieces of legislation,” Roberts said. » See RESILIENT, page 3

Housing lottery moves into second phase From PW to NBC: Walton

’01 stars in primetime sitcom

First-ever online housing lottery system has been tested to prevent site from crashing

Alum vaults onto national television stage after ‘roller coaster ride’ through early career



In the decisive moments of the pilot for NBC’s new comedy “About a Boy,” ir resp onsible 30-something Will stands offstage at a talent show, cringing while his new neighbor Marcus gets booed by unsupportive classmates. He sees no other option — Will slides onstage with a keyboard, rocking out to Marcus’ a cappella version of “What Makes You Beautiful” to salvage the 11 year-old’s reputation in front of his middle school peers. As the sitcom enters its fourth week, David Walton ’01 is enjoying his latest slide onto the mainstream television stage, playing the carefree protagonist who, despite his exterior narcissism, cultivates a budding friendship with his school-aged neighbor. “I like playing people that kind of show one thing to the world but underneath it all are actually quite



Students gather in Sayles Hall for the annual housing lottery, which will move online for the first time this year. senior associate dean of residential life and dining services. “It will work the same as the in-person format, but now we’re not forcing you out.” Students will be able to select rooms up until the lottery closes on that specific day. Office of Residential Life staff members will be “working on phone bank and live monitoring, so if anybody has

any problem at all, there will be plenty of staff to reach out to,” Bova said. There will also be designated areas where students can get support from Meiklejohn peer advisers and Residential Council members, he added. “We’re building lots of support around the student experience.” The online lottery system has » See LOTTERY, page 2



A poll shows that voters have low confidence in state leadership going into an election year

R.I. Senate moves the decision of holding a constitutional convention to the House

Hillestad ’15: Grade inflation isn’t the problem with higher education

Powers ’15: We need to rethink “offensive” in the context of the Ray Kelly Spring Weekend tank







This spring’s housing lottery — the first to take place on an online platform rather than in person in Sayles Hall — is currently progressing through the second of three phases. The new online structure has been split into three phases: After indicating interest in participating in the housing lottery, students are currently choosing the size of the group with which to enter, which can range from one to 10 students, said Richard Hilton, associate director of residential life. Finally, the housing lottery itself begins April 7 and lasts until April 10. With the online lottery process, students are given lottery numbers, as in the former lottery structure, and a coinciding time slot, Hilton said. The time slot designates when a student or group should log in to select rooms, with three minutes before the next student or group can enter the system. “If you’re still in the system after three minutes and the second group comes into the system, everything’s in play for them also,” said Richard Bova,

the opposite,” Walton said. “This is different than any other show I’ve been on. I think it has the broadest appeal, and people are really responding to it in a fun way.” NBC President Robert Greenblatt took notice of Walton after his last series “Bent,” which was “short-lived but critically acclaimed,” Walton said. Greenblatt subsequently offered Walton the role of Will without an audition. But “About a Boy,” unlike “Bent,” has balanced positive critical response with high ratings, averaging 8.35 million viewers for the second episode. This success comes almost 13 years after Walton, having just graduated with a degree in physiological psychology, thought, “Screw it” and moved to New York to pursue a career in acting, he said. Walton said Shakespeare launched his acting career — specifically, his role in “The Taming of the Shrew” in ninth grade while attending boarding school in New Hampshire. “I basically did every play I could in high school. I loved it from the first time I ever did it,” he said. A one-year stint on the crew team at Brown diverted Walton’s attention from acting for a brief time — just long enough to bring him running » See SITCOM, page 4 t o d ay


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2 university news » LOTTERY, from page 1 undergone load testing, in which Computing and Information Services tested how many students could enter the system without affecting the platform’s speed or capability, Hilton said. ResLife chose a system owned and managed by the University over a third-party platform because it would be less susceptible to crashing, he said. “The lottery was the most stressful aspect of many students’ lives in the spring semester,” Bova said. “The trauma, the angst, the level of concern … and all the rules. We wanted to have a platform that allowed students to work with the system in real time, that didn’t require them to sit in Sayles for three and a half hours.” Students currently studying abroad will participate in the same online lottery process as those on campus, Hilton said. In the past, abroad students needed an on-campus student representative at the lottery. “I feel like I’m on a more even playing field,” wrote Justina Lee ’15, who is studying abroad, in an email to The Herald. “Whether I’m here in Hong Kong or back in the United States, I’ll be able to access the lottery in the same way as everyone else.”

But other students are still concerned about the process. “The digitization of the lottery and step-by-step email administration helps me to remember that I need to take care of accommodation for next year, but I also can’t seem to shake the feeling that I might be screwed over for senior year housing,” wrote Clare Kim ’15, currently studying abroad in Dublin, in an email to the Herald. “I am trying to appreciate the online process, but it adds another dimension of confusion to the situation since it’s a new system and I’m not there to get clarification from the more savvy Brunonians.” In order to incorporate student perspective in the process, meetings were held between ResLife and ResCouncil members last year to plan for the new system, Hilton said. Before granting their approval, ResCouncil members required the new lottery to retain the same fundamental functions as the traditional lottery, including “the way students are weighted, the way students choose and the way students group up,” Hilton said. “It was kind of a madhouse before when we had it at Sayles, with tensions and emotions running. It was a lot more pressure,” said Walker Mills ’15, a member of ResCouncil and Herald opinions columnist. “I think overall (the online lottery) experience will be a lot easier.”

» NUSSBAUM, from page 1 lecture: Retributive anger is “fatally flawed from a normative viewpoint.” Nussbaum then explained Aristotle’s definition of anger, which involves damage wrongfully done to a person or someone the person cares about as well as a “pleasant hope for payback.” This hope for retribution can be very subtle, she added. “When wrong is done we somehow think that the universe will be off-kilter unless there is some sort of rectification,” Nussbaum said, noting the desire for payback is “deeply human but fatally flawed.” Nussbaum used King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as an example of what she calls constructive “Transition” anger. This Transition anger “does not focus on status, nor does it even briefly want the suffering of the offender. … It focuses on social welfare from the start, saying, ‘Something should be done about that,’” Nussbaum explained. Nussbaum also referenced Gandhi’s and Nelson Mandela’s movements as examples of the effectiveness of non-retributive anger. “Anger is a prominent part of


most people’s lives,” Nussbaum said. “It lacks the virtues often claimed for it.” She concluded her talk with “a slogan that surely betrays my age. … ‘Give peace a chance.’” Nearly an hour was allotted for audience questions from faculty members, undergraduates and graduate students. Yongming Han GS, a student in the philosophy department, told The Herald the talk was “great” and “relevant to daily life.” He attended because he is interested in “whether there’s a place for anger in morality,” he said. Many of the students who attended the lecture are involved with the philosophy department. Matt De La Cruz ’17, a philosophy concentrator, said he went to hear Nussbaum’s lecture because he enjoyed an essay of hers that he read for a class last semester. Oscar Dupuy D’Angeac ’17 had lingering doubts about the feasibility of regulating anger in the way Nussbaum endorsed. “It’s difficult to get rid of our human nature,” he said, adding that Nussbaum’s examples were all derived from revolutionary situations. “Maybe anger towards individuals has a place in maintaining the status quo,” he said.

metro 3


Poll indicates low ratings for R.I. officials in election year ‘Job One: Leadership’ poll suggests leadership problems, but some doubt methodological validity By CAROLYNN CONG STAFF WRITER

Rhode Island voters have low confidence in the effectiveness of their elected state leaders, according to the results of a poll conducted Feb. 9-12. Only 2 percent of voters rated state leaders’ effectiveness as “excellent,” while the majority — 82 percent — rated it “fair” or “poor.” The poll was run by Fleming and Associates, a public polling firm, as part of a new election-year initiative called “Job One: Leadership.” The initiative aims to bring attention to current problems in public leadership as Rhode Island elections draw near and is headed by the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University, the Providence Journal and

» RESILIENT, from page 1 Now that the bill has been introduced to the General Assembly, the students are “trying to build support throughout the state,” an effort that will continue through the summer, said David Chodakewitz ’15, one of the students collaborating on the bill. Earning the trust and support of community members is very important, he said, adding that the potential for economic revitalization through the development of a green-energy industry is an important advantage of the bill’s proposals. “It’s not just reaching out to legislators,” said Cody Zeger ’14, a student who worked on the legislation, adding that efforts have been made to incorporate the input of leaders of faith-based organizations and local businesses into the legislation. The first draft of the bill represents the culmination of many consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders. “I think it is great that Brown has taken the initiative to take a leadership role in this issue,” said Abel Collins ’00, program manager for the Rhode Island chapter of the Sierra Club. The communication between the University, students, faculty members, consultants and local organizations “brings a lot more people into the collaborative process of getting the bill going,” he said, noting that by involving more people, the bill will have a bigger base of support. Handy has been unsuccessfully trying to pass legislation to lower the state’s carbon emissions since 2008, and the new bill couples that initiative with a plan to help Rhode Island handle rising sea levels, more violent storms and more intense heat waves, Roberts said. “People are realizing that we have to get ahead of (climate change) before it deals a devastating blow to our state development,” he added.

Rhode Island PBS, according to an article in the Journal. The firm surveyed a total of 438 registered state voters via telephone. Voters were asked to rate the effectiveness of state elected officials, as well as their leaders’ performance in specific areas, including problem solving, communications, integrity, fiscal management, accessibility, leadership and conflict management. Voters expressed dissatisfaction with their state leaders in these categories, with the majority of respondents labeling their performance as “fair” or “poor” in all of them. “This poll is a direct indictment of public leadership on the economy,” said Ian Donnis, a political reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio. “Rhode Island is consistently among the states

with the highest unemployment,” and the poll results reflect the public’s frustration on this issue, he added. Rhode Island’s economic problems reflect a lack of clear strategy and vision over time, Donnis said. But others said they were skeptical about the poll’s accuracy in representing public sentiment. “I am actually quite wary of overinterpreting this poll,” wrote Wendy Schiller, associate professor of political science and public policy, in an email to The Herald. The poll’s small sample size and the number of other surveys that have suggested consistently high approval ratings for key state and local leaders over time call this poll’s validity into question, she added. This poll “tells you everything and nothing,” said Scott MacKay, a political reporter for RIPR, adding that the poll was poorly designed and the questions were nonspecific. “The broader takeaway from this

The portion of the bill addressing possible adaptations for the state will “preemptively help Rhode Island make changes,” Zeger said, adding that it will be less expensive to adapt now than to address climate change-related incidents when they happen. Nobody is calling for Rhode Island to immediately overhaul its current infrastructure, he said — the bill is “all about planning this into the way that Rhode Island develops” in the future. “The Sierra Club loves both parts — it’s a pretty ambitious bill,” Collins said. The legislation calls for state carbon emissions to be gradually cut to 85 percent below their 1990 levels by 2050, which is one of the most drastic proposed reductions in the country, Collins said. But he added that the proposed 25 percent reduction set as the target for 2025 should be a target for 2020. “We need to frontload the goals.” Collins said the bill is necessary for Rhode Island’s future welfare, especially given the state’s extensive coastline. “Communities are just sort of ignoring (climate change), … and that’s why people need this bill,” Collins said, adding that coastal communities “really need the state to be preparing.” But moving people and communities away from their coastal homes “is a very tricky issue,” he said. Despite the understandable discomfort people may have with the realities of rising sea levels, Collins said having a policy “where we can really look at these issues in more of an objective way, and less of an emotional (way), will really help the state address climate change.” Preparing for climate change can also help confront the state’s unemployment rate, which is one of the highest in the country, Chodakewitz said. “There’s a whole economy there we could help create.” Roberts said he was encouraged

by Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 P’17 creation of the Rhode Island Executive Climate Change Council late last month. “The administration is eager to move on this issue,” he noted. The coordination of Rhode Island’s efforts to address climate change will be very important, he said. “We really think it is going to take almost every agency in the state.” “This bill in and of itself does not get the job done — it sets the goals,” but the strategy by which the state can meet those targets still needs to be developed, Collins said. “It also depends on the state of the economy,” Collins warned, noting that green energy initiatives are commonly delayed or dismissed during tough economic times. Massachusetts and Rhode Island were in a similar position to move forward with energy reform in 2008, Collins said, but Rhode Island chose not to and Massachusetts has since progressed to become a more energyefficient state and seen the economic benefits of green industry. Roberts said it was important to craft a bill that was affordable for the state government to implement. “It’s not free, but it will easily pay for itself ” by avoiding costs associated with damaged infrastructure and saving money on energy costs, he said. Though it is often tough to predict the real effects of proposed pieces of legislation, Roberts said he is confident the Resilient Rhode Island Act will save money “in the long term and could be valuable in creating a hub of innovation.” “I am cautiously optimistic,” he said, adding that he thinks there is potential for the bill to be passed this year. Both Chodakewitz and Zeger also said they were optimistic about the bill’s passage, but noted that students and community members are prepared to continue promoting the piece of legislation, even if it takes years to pass.

poll is that (Rhode Island voters) are very unhappy with the direction of their state, especially on issues such as job development and job security,” Schiller wrote. “They are generally blaming state legislature and state bureaucratic leaders for appearing unresponsive to their concerns.” This poll might be condemning the lack of transparency and communication between the state government and Rhode Islanders, MacKay said. “Too many things are done in secrecy, and voters don’t like to be surprised,” he added. The low poll ratings do not apply to every official, Donnis said. Many politicians, such as Mayor Angel Taveras, have garnered fairly high levels of public support that have remained consistent over time, he said. “When state residents are unhappy about their economic situation, that will affect how they view government generally, but (will) not always be

reflected in their individual assessments of their elected officials,” Schiller wrote. “To paint everyone in the same picture with a broad brush is neither valid nor fair,” MacKay said. According to the Journal, Rhode Island Republicans are more critical of state leadership than Democrats are, with 98 percent of Republican respondents rating the effectiveness of their elected officials as “fair” or “poor,” compared to 70 percent of Democrats. “Republicans are a small minority in Rhode Island, and Democrats have overwhelming control of the General Assembly,” Donnis said. “Republicans are on the outside looking in, so it’s reasonable to expect them to have a more critical view.” In the upcoming elections, the public’s low confidence in state leadership could be “yet another tool in the toolbox for people running against incumbents,” MacKay said.

NE WS IN BRIEF Bill calls for amending R.I. constitution The Rhode Island Senate approved two bills March 12 proposing to call the first constitutional convention the state has seen in 30 years and to create a bipartisan preparatory commission. The convention would consider a number of changes to the state’s constitution, including term limits for elected officials, enhanced government oversight and changing the procedure for redistricting in the state, the Associated Press reported. The Senate voted unanimously to put the measure to create the convention on the ballot for voters in 2014, though the constitutional convention would likely not be formed until 2015 or 2016, the Washington Post reported. The bills — sponsored by Sen. Paul Fogarty, D-Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield — were introduced in February and referred to the Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee. The first bill proposed putting the question of calling a constitutional convention on the ballot for the November 2014 election. The bill will next be considered by the House. If the House fails to approve the measure, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis said he would propose the measure as well, the AP reported. The second bill before the committee proposed a bipartisan 12-member committee of four state representatives, four state senators and four members of the public. The commission would consider revisions to the state’s constitution to be considered in the constitutional convention, review the current constitution and make recommendations for what to submit to voters, according to a General Assembly press release. If called, the convention would select one representative from each of the state’s 75 districts to participate. The R.I. Constitution stipulates that the question of calling a constitutional convention should be put forth before the voters every 10 years, but voters turned down the measure in 2004, The Herald previously reported. The last constitutional convention, which approved eight of 16 amendments considered, was held in 1986, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 P’17 served as a delegate in his first elected position. Several controversial topics arose during the 1986 convention, including legislation on abortion and the environment, The Herald reported at the time. “Rhode Island in 2014 is not the same as it was in 1986. There may be issues that are important to Rhode Islanders today that weren’t as relevant a generation ago,” Fogarty said, according to the press release. Though states periodically consider revising their state constitutions, Georgia was the last state to adopt a fully revised constitution in 1983, the Post reported. — Kate Kiernan, Metro Editor

4 arts & culture » SITCOM, from page 1 back sophomore year. A friend of his — John Krasinski ’01 — convinced him to join the Out of Bounds sketch comedy group that year. Walton performed with the group for the next three years. While taking TAPS 0230: “Acting” under Professor of Theater Arts and Performance Studies Lowry Marshall, Walton said, he “sort of got the (acting) bug at Brown.” After taking advantage of the open curriculum by enrolling in 12 classes in 12 different departments, he gravitated toward his chosen concentration of physiological psychology. Despite his academic interests, “it really was about acting in Out of Bounds and trying to get better as an actor constantly, getting parts in school productions and Production Workshop stuff,” he said. Walton noted the supportive environment and enormous talent of the student body during his undergraduate years. “If you’re motivated to do something, every part of the school can be mobilized to help make it happen,” he said. The last two years sparked reflection on what to do after college — for Walton, the conversation was as simple as “what do you love the most?” “By the end of my junior year I’d gotten enough feedback and enough support from faculty that said, ‘You should give this a shot,’” Walton said. But he added, “they warn you that if you can imagine doing anything else with your life, do it, because trying to be an actor is brutally challenging.” For Walton, the journey has been “a real roller coaster ride.” “Everyone thinks you get this one break, which isn’t true. You get an increasing series of breaks that step you up the ladder,” he said. He surmounted

the first rung a year and a half into his venture in the Big Apple. An agent signed Walton, setting him up for a continuing series of auditions until a show at Fox, called “Cracking Up” with Jason Schwartzman, stuck — briefly. “There have been a lot of TV shows that haven’t gone the distance,” he said. “This is my seventh.” Along with “About a Boy,” Walton will appear in two feature films this year — “Break Point,” a tennis comedy, and “Think Like a Man Too,” starring Kevin Hart. The switch between film and television is palpable for him. With a television series, “you’re cranking out an episode every week. You’re on a train that is moving fast,” he said. “There’s an intensity and adrenaline to that, which I like.” Movies include detailed cinematography that slows down the process, which Walton said makes him “a little impatient.” But he added that he still appreciates the lasting impact of film. “They’re these little two-hour stories that you can pick up, throw in there and then you’re done,” he said. The college actor in him still yearns for the stage sometimes. “I think being part of an electrifying theater show doesn’t get any better as far as pure joy and excitement,” he said. The transition from rowdy Out of Bounds shows to the mandated quiet on the set of television comedies still poses problems for Walton. “There’s something very exciting when people are laughing,” he said of live comedy. “Your performance gets electrified by it, and you need to figure out a way to electrify your performance when there isn’t that laughter,” as on a studio set, Walton said. To replace the instant feedback of a live audience, Walton watches his performance each week. “I find it helpful to see what (the producers) are



In the new NBC sitcom “About a Boy,” David Walton ’01 portrays the devil-may-care protagonist who fosters an unlikely friendship with his 11-year-old neighbor. Walton will also appear in two feature films this year. choosing because I always try to — in each take and each scene — give them a lot of different options,” he said. For Walton, there are more important viewers, though. “All I really care about is whether my family and friends like it,” he said. This family now includes his wife, Majandra — a fellow actor — and his children, Cecilia and Louis. Balancing career with family presents its own challenges — Walton said he will wait “as long as possible” before introducing them to his show and acting career. “I come from a very … typical Boston suburb — dad was a businessman,

mom raised me and my six siblings — and no one got into the entertainment business. So I will be winging it as far as how to raise a normal kid, but I think the best policy for now is to have them avoid (the entertainment business) at all costs until it’s unavoidable,” he said. Will provides some support on that front. Playing a juvenile father figure all week “is fun,” he said. “It’s like I can do all the things that I’m not allowed to do with my own children.” An episode where Will fills a young child in on “the birds and the bees” has reinforced what not to do when

the time comes with his own children, Walton said. For now, Walton’s most pressing concern is the fact that millions of Americans will hear him sing again in a few weeks. Before his pivotal One Direction cover in the pilot, the producers had never heard him sing, but they have now asked him to do so again for a popular Christmas jingle that Will wrote. Because his character is a songwriter rather than a musician, “the sights have been set pretty low on this one.” “The good thing is, I’ve always been an in-the-shower singer,” Walton said.


Walton said he enjoys the fast-paced filming process for “About a Boy.” But even 13 years after performing as part of the sketch comedy group Out of Bounds at Brown, Walton cited a residual craving for the immediate feedback provided by a live audience.

today 5




LUNCH Sweet Ginger Tofu Stir Fry, Hot Turkey Sandwich with Gravy, Spinach with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Vegetable Strudel, Grilled Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Sunny Sprouts, Peanut Butter Sandwich Bar

DINNER Mediterranean Orzo, Seafood Cavatelli, Pirate Ship Pork Loin, Brownies a la Mode with Hot Fudge

Tequila Lime Chicken, Vegetarian Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina, Saigon Beef and Ham with Vegetables, Ziti




Gnocchi Bar

Make-Your-Own Quesadilla




Spinach and Feta, Sausage and Lentil, Three-Bean Chili

Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Vegetables Cooked with Lentils



A student takes advantage of the excellent acoustics and the old Steinway in Alumnae Hall.

comics Bacterial Culture | Dana Schwartz ‘15

Cat Ears | Najatee’ McNeil ‘17


calendar TODAY



Feel guilt no longer for eating cookies — this interactive workshop, facilitated by Culinary Manager for Retail Dining Aaron Fitzsenry, will teach you how to replace less healthful refined sugars with nutrient-rich seeds and grains in recipes. The Underground 4 P.M. ON THE PECULIAR STATISTICS OF NATURAL IMAGES

Professor of Applied Mathematics Stuart Geman and the Applied Mathematics and Mathematics Departmental Undergraduate Groups will investigate the properties of natural images through a mathematical lens. Samosas and pie will be served at the event. Foxboro Auditorium, Kassar House TOMORROW



Author Leslie Lindenauer ’80 will discuss how the concept of stepmother has been constructed throughout history and in popular culture. Petteruti Lounge 6 P.M. TURKISH-ISRAELI RELATIONS

Gabriel Mitchell, an expert on Turkish-Israeli relations, will lead an open discussion about the relationship between these neighboring countries. Turkish-Israeli snacks will accompany the event. Salomon 202

6 commentary



Narrowing the gender gap in scholarship Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that there exists a gender gap in scholarship in which women, on average, produce less scholarship than men in academia. The article built upon a new Pew Research Center study about college enrollment rates, which revealed that women’s enrollment in higher education currently trumps that of their male counterparts. In less than two decades, from 1994 to 2012, women have reversed a longtime trend and are now outpacing men in college enrollment. Given this data, we believe the University and its peer institutions must consider the causes and the implications of such shifting trends: increased female enrollment on one hand, but productivity not keeping up on the other. While we are heartened that in this day and age females have greatly increased access to education, universities must also seek to understand and address both these trends in gender and higher education. The enrollment gender disparity is most prevalent among minority populations, especially among Hispanic and black students. As the Pew Research Center reported, in 1994 Hispanic men and women enrolled in college at essentially equal rates, while black men outpaced women by 9 percentage points. By 2012, however, those numbers had drastically shifted: Hispanic women and black women had increased enrollment rates, outpacing their male counterparts by a 13- and 12-percentage point gap, respectively. Policymakers and researchers have noted the trend at the intersection of race and gender and identified several factors for the shifting patterns. First and foremost, they attribute the shift to “changing demographics of the nation’s public school student population,” the Pew Research Center noted. In the past 20 years, minorities have accounted for an increasing percentage of public school enrollment, while labor barriers have been lowered for women, resulting in a compounding effect that is reflected in college enrollment data. President Obama recently addressed the lagging rates of minority male enrollment, seeking to correct the systematic factors playing against these populations with his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. Alongside this gap in education, there also exists an opposite gender gap in scholarship: Men are cited as being more productive than women. The Chronicle report points out that citation rates are a common measure of productivity, and women refer to their own research much less than men do. Therefore, the dominance of female enrollment rates has been associated with lower rates of academic productivity. There are a handful of explanations to explain this trend, one of which is that female academics are simply less assertive than their male counterparts, and this “systematic unwillingness by women to self-cite may help tip the balance against them,” as the Economist wrote last year. Academia should attempt to correct this imbalance by fostering an environment in which self-citation is not a method of self-promotion, but a way of enriching the intellectual sphere. The gender gap in scholarship further extends to field-based disparities and will affect the types of jobs that individuals have after graduation. Studies reveal that “first-year female college students are far less likely than their male peers to plan to major in a STEM field,” according to an article on the Association of American Colleges and Universities website. Gender disparities in college majors have a direct influence on the jobs these students take following graduation. As the United States pushes for greater professional influence in the STEM fields, the gender gap could achieve the opposite, perpetuating a system in which fewer STEM professionals are entering the job force. All these findings taken together lead us to believe that universities should seek to increase enrollment among male minority students, to encourage self-citation among women in academia and to encourage more women in higher education to pursue STEM fields. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Matt Brundage ’15 and Rachel Occhiogrosso ’14, and its members, Hannah Loewentheil ’14 and Thomas Nath ’16. Send comments to



Army ROTC option is open to students To the Editor: Walker Mills’s ’15 column last week (“Mills ’15: Who needs whom?” March 10) on the University’s military community did not clarify that while Navy and Air Force ROTC are not available, any student can join Army ROTC at Providence College. Several Brown undergraduates are currently following this path and will commission as

An article in last Tuesday’s Herald (“Italian studies scholars trace lifelines of cultural memory,” March 11) failed to include the Watson Institute for International Studies and the Department of History of Art and Architecture in the list of cosponsors of Chiasmi, an interdisciplinary Italian studies graduate colloquium.


“The good thing is, I’ve always been an in-the-shower singer. ” — David Walton ’01

See sitcom on page 1.

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James Rattner ’15 Student Coordinator, Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs Herald opinions columnist


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Grades — not inflation — are the problem SAM HILLESTAD opinions columnist

Members of top-tier universities like Brown often cite grade inflation as a major problem. But diagnosing grade inflation as the problem is an archaic way to approach college academics. Grade inflation is not the problem — grades are. In actuality, grade inflation is a part of the solution. It reduces the senseless competition that turns education into a contest rather than a lifelong process of self-improvement. The existence of grades at all creates an academic environment that grants Pavlovian rewards of satisfaction for As while punishing those who seek knowledge over an easy A. This breeds hyper-competitive students who get stuck seeking arbitrary stamps of approval that indicate superiority over their peers. Students who want that should go to Princeton. At Brown, we should pursue knowledge for its own sake. The fact of the matter is that at Brown, and at similar institutions of higher education, the distribution of grades is skewed heavily toward As. In the 2012-2013 academic year, the majority of grades at Brown were As. And the proportion of As is increasing too — from 39.1 percent a decade ago to 53.4 percent last year. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In reality, there’s good reason to believe those As were all earned. Especially at Ivy League universities, the preponderance of As can be explained by sampling bias. It should not

be surprising that Ivy League students are generally exceptional students who strive to succeed in their classes. Why should there be arbitrary limits on the proportion of As if most students are producing A-worthy material? The intuition that pushes back against grade inflation says grades should act as a feedback mechanism that ranks students against their peers. Supposedly, this prepares us to join a competitive workforce. But that is precisely why grades are counterproductive to the goals of higher education.

members in 2003 supported including pluses and minuses in the grading system. Pluses and minuses give professors more room to provide accurate feedback, but dropping grades altogether would expand those options infinitely more. Such a program is not unprecedented. New College of Florida — along with a handful of other progressive colleges — employs a grade-less system that utilizes narrative evaluations instead of letter grades. Those written evaluations give professors

Finally, grades are often justified as markers of intelligence and work ethic to future employers and graduate schools. But professor recommendations can better serve the same function. Written evaluations are significantly more accurate and informative than a GPA. That GPA can be skewed by a guileful student who takes only easy-A courses. Likewise, the passionate student who takes difficult courses out of genuine interest is hurt by a GPA. It’s far easier to cheat the system when you have only numbers to worry

Knowledge is the end of education. It should not simply be a means to a high-paying job. An emphasis on grades reinforces the latter conception.

Universities should focus their aim on the intrinsic value of knowledge, not its instrumental value. Knowledge is the end of education. It should not simply be a means to a high-paying job. An emphasis on grades reinforces the latter conception. Thus, grades act as an impediment to education and should be abolished. Feedback is not contingent on grades — reducing student performance to a mere letter is the real obstacle to feedback. Brown’s grading paradigm forces professors to limit their feedback to four options: A, B, C or no credit. Perhaps this is why a shocking 82 percent of faculty

the ability to provide more nuanced feedback by detailing exactly what a student did well, and what he or she can improve on in the future. This allows for a truer barometer of student performance. Furthermore, narrative evaluations foster a closer relationship between professors and students, since professors are more likely to pay attention to students’ individual performances and students are more likely to take the evaluations to heart. As much as we’ve come to love the rush of getting a big shiny A, a glowing report from a beloved professor would be valued far more.

about, while it’s also much easier to be rewarded for actual learning when detailed professor evaluations are the standard of measurement. For those worried about the lack of hard data in such a system, rest assured that graduate schools can still look at your GRE score. Moreover, a grade-less system hasn’t been shown to inhibit a student’s ability to get into prestigious graduate programs. In fact, quite the opposite is true. At New College of Florida, the class of 2010 had an 86 percent acceptance rate into PhD programs, and an incredible 100 percent acceptance rate into law schools. All without any grades to

Gettin’ frisky

ANDREW POWERS opinions columnist

In preparation for Spring Weekend, student entrepreneurs are marketing a colorful array of festive tank tops. Most make reference to the headlining artists slated to perform in April. There is one, however, that has seemingly caught everyone’s attention. Its plain white background sports a bright purple image of former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly with the words “Gettin’ Frisky” written underneath. While wearing such a top certainly isn’t legally contentious — we fortunately have yet to completely demolish free speech — many were quick to announce their outrage, using words such as “racist,” “insensitive” and “offensive.” Others defended the design, noting that, given the context, it was only a joke and should not deserve such condemnation. While this specific issue is particularly relevant to Brown, it is part of a larger campaign against all such offensive jokes. It’s useful here to examine our use of the word “offensive.” Many people have the view that something deemed offensive is necessarily bad. And this denunciation goes beyond considerations of personal preference or taste. Making jokes that offend a group of people is considered a moral crime. But this view has absurd consequences. For the vast majority of history, gay people have been demonized by the majority of the population. Those on the American right voiced fears that such “alternative lifestyles” would destroy

America’s conservative religious culture. To a large degree, I think that actually did happen. I also don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It seems to me that those who fought for the enfranchisement of this and other such oppressed groups were not committing a moral crime, even though they certainly offended many people. Comedian Ricky Gervais put it more eloquently than I ever could: “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.” I want to be clear. An emotional response to a set of sounds or series of images is an awful measure of morality with terrible ramifications. Among other things,

This is exactly what happens when people attempt to retroactively justify their feelings on individual issues rather than working from the ground up. There is an obvious logical inconsistency that very brief introspection would reveal. It’s intellectually irresponsible to be so loud, confident and imposing while clearly not having put any substantive thought into the issue. So where does this leave us? Well for starters, it’s disingenuous to use the word “offensive” to create a connotation of immorality to vilify individuals. The term is not a sufficient — and I think not even a necessary — condition for such

Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.

if we want to believe supporting homosexuality — especially when it wasn’t popular — was ethically justified, then we have to do away with this moral relativism. It’s not logically incoherent to hold onto this view, but it’s much more palatable to throw it out than to accept its unsavory consequences in full. Last month, I wrote a column (“Powers ’15: Principles of American ethics,” Feb. 13) detailing the problems that arise when one does not rigorously formulate one’s ethical foundations. There seem to be many people who think being offended puts them on the moral high ground, while refusing to embrace the conclusions this view entails.

a judgment. If we want to condemn certain jokes or behaviors in general, we need to appeal to an objective sense of morality. Long story short, this isn’t a fruitful approach either. On many ethical issues — including this one — there are countless intelligent individuals supporting every possible view, which should make us extremely unconfident in our views. Imagine you and a friend are at a restaurant and plan to split the bill. The check comes and you both calculate a 20 percent tip in your heads. Just as with moral considerations, most of the time you get the same answer. Analogously, both of you come to the conclusion that murder, rape and cannibalism are morally reprehensible.

speak of. Granted, a grade-less system at Brown is utopian. In reality, I cannot see Brown or any of its peers instituting such an impractical system in the near future, if for no other reason than to maintain appearances. But idealizing should not concern itself with pesky considerations of feasibility. Rather, in the given circumstances where the ideal is impossible or unlikely, we should try to come as close as possible to the model system. Grade inflation represents the best alternative. It places the emphasis on learning and academic freedom over the counterproductive force of competition. As such, grade inflation is in line with Brown’s open curriculum. Students should not be forced to take courses they have no interest in, nor should they be punished for taking difficult courses in the pursuit of knowledge. Though Brown’s grading policy is not perfect, it embodies many of the same desiderata as the ideal system. Therefore, any push to fight grade inflation is misguided and destructive to Brown’s mission. Unlike many of our rival universities, Brown is fundamentally about academic freedom and the non-instrumental nature of education. The greater the emphasis on grades, the more Brown’s core values are undermined.

Sam Hillestad ’15 is tired of seeing intelligent, hard-working Brown students view their education as a means to an end. He can be reached at

But every once in a while the two of you get a different answer. One of you believes we should raise taxes, while the other believes we should lower taxes. In the case of morality, it’s quite possible for both of us to check our work without finding any glaring issues. Such intractable disagreement should make us less certain of our original conclusion. It’s the arrogant individuals who stubbornly cling to their controversial moral opinions. They don’t seriously consider the possibility that the people on the other side of the disagreement could be as intelligent or well-informed as they are. In their view, when your friend calculates a different tip than you, it’s probably just because he’s just not as bright. Beyond being obnoxious, this interpretation doesn’t seem justified, as there are usually plenty of smart people on both sides of any moral dispute, including the one at hand. What individuals should take away from this is that they should be more morally permissive and slower to moral judgment. It might superficially sound like a hypocritical statement — criticizing others while asking them not to criticize. To reiterate, my claim is that we should make fewer moral judgments. This judgment is not a moral one, but rather one of rationality. It’s not wrong — ethically — to censure offensive jokes or to use whatever justification you want to do so. You can say two plus two equals five all day. But you should understand the irrationality involved in doing so. And honestly, the tank is pretty clever.

Andrew Powers ’15 can be reached at



BROWN DAILY HERALD arts & culture Community arts projects vie for grant Two Providence-based finalists could receive up to $500,000 to fund city art initiatives By ASHWINI NATARAJAN CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Three Squares and Inhabit, two Providence-based projects, are finalists for ArtPlace America’s Creative Placemaking grants, according to a Department of Art, Culture and Tourism press release. The organization received 1,270 applications for the grant from around the country, out of which only 97 finalists were chosen. Among those, 40 to 50 will receive grants of up to $500,000 this May, said Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America. Bennett said the foundation seeks to invest in art as a strategy to help transform communities. The foundation looks to invest in projects that work with local artists to shape social, physical and economic futures of neighborhoods, he added. Three Squares is a project conceived by the city’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism and involves initiatives that will instigate economic development, use cultural assets and engage the community, said Lynne McCormack, director of the

department. The creative arts projects will be centered around transit hubs in Columbus Square, Olneyville Square and Trinity Square, involving developments like mobile art trucks led by artists from national community youth art organizations. McCormack noted that the three areas are in need of further arts investment. Core partners of the project include Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, the Providence Youth Arts Collaborative, New Urban Arts, AS220 and Community MusicWorks. McCormack said the proposal for the grant was created last November — the department requested $500,000 worth of funding. “I think this grant will really help us spread the idea of a creative capital into our neighborhoods in a much more deep way,” she said. McCormack said students will play a large role in the projects laid out by Three Squares. “I would see students involved in the planning and implementation of the work if they live in those neighborhoods. They would have the opportunity to participate as artists as well,” she said. McCormack said if Three Squares does not receive the grant, the initiatives planned in the proposal will probably not come to fruition due to funding limitations. But ongoing, smaller undertakings will still occur

in the three specified areas, she added. Inhabit was created by Community MusicWorks, a nonprofit organization founded by Sebastian Ruth ’97 in 1997 that allows professional musicians to teach music to residents of urban communities in Providence. The project will work to renovate storefront spaces that house MusicWorks musicians in low-income communities by forming partnerships with nonprofit housing development groups, according to its website. If both Three Squares and Community MusicWorks receive grants, both proposals would combine their initiatives, McCormack said. “We haven’t had a chance to talk about how we would dovetail the project, but I do believe that would happen if we were both funded,” she added. Bennett said there is no limit to the number of grants awarded to organizations in a particular location, so Inhabit and Three Squares will not compete with each other directly. “All 97 projects are essentially in competition with each other,” he said. “One of the things we look for in projects is how they tie into a community’s overall investment,” he said. “We’re really looking for projects that are additive (and) help bring strength to activities that are already happening.”

CO M E B A C K C U B S ?

Symposium delves into Dostoevsky Slavic studies department presents interdisciplinary perspectives on Russian novelist and his legacy By MICHELLE MEHRTENS CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky is exceptional for his representation of the human soul, British novelist Virginia Woolf wrote in her essay “The Russian Point of View.” “Out it tumbles upon us,” she expounded, “hot, scalding, mixed, marvellous, terrible, oppressive.” Merging Darwinian theory, Romantic poetry and the complexities of human morality, the Dostoevsky Symposium hosted by the Department of Slavic Studies this weekend offered multiple perspectives on Dostoevsky’s work. Dostoevsky’s writing is “profoundly interdisciplinary in nature, perhaps to a large extent due to the peculiar development of Russian culture, in which literature came to encompass various areas of knowledge … that were much more developed in the West as distinct disciplines,” wrote symposium coordinator Svetlana Evdokimova, professor of Slavic languages and comparative literature, in an email to The Herald. She and other colleagues organized the symposium to spotlight “his engagement with science and social sciences, but also a deeper understanding of his aesthetics and his ‘philosophy,’” she wrote. For the conference, the department invited Dostoevsky scholars from both the United States and Russia, as well as specialists from other fields, including

Daniel Todes from Johns Hopkins University’s Institute of the History of Medicine, religion scholar David Cunningham from Hope College and Professor of Philosophy Charles Larmore. The symposium’s multidisciplinary approach was important because Dostoevsky himself worked at the intersection of many disciplines, including politics, science and philosophy, said Vladimir Golstein, associate professor of Slavic languages and symposium organizer. The first panel, “Dostoevsky and Darwin,” delved into Dostoevsky’s work within the context of evolutionary biology. Panelists discussed how the publication of Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species” not only sent shock waves through the world, but also personally affected Dostoevsky and his artistic practice. Another panel, “Dostoevsky and the Questions of Aesthetics,” examined Dostoevsky’s writing in relation to artmaking at large. “Dostoevsky is still very, very fresh,” Golstein said, adding that Dostoevsky dwells upon issues prevalent and powerful today, including the complexities of religion and science coexisting together. Golstein did not always feel affection for Dostoevsky’s novels. When he first read “Crime and Punishment” in high school, he deemed it “boring.” But once he reached college, he found himself so “absolutely disillusioned” with life that he rediscovered the novel. It was a “prophetic book,” he said, which helped him understand life. “Stories acknowledge concerns many people don’t even realize they have,” he added, explaining his attraction to literature.




Tavon Blackmon ’17 drives forward as part of a ferocious late rally by the men’s basketball team in the Postseason Tournament Monday night. The College of the Holy Cross won 68-65.

In his final game as a Bear, Sean McGonagill ‘14 posted 10 points, five boards and three assists.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014  

The March 18, 2014 issue of The Brown Daily Herald

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