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Students prepare for Freedom Fast R.I. senator leads fight

against childhood cancer

Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Freedom Fast and march to be held in New York March 15

STAR Act improves pediatric cancer research opportunities, treatments, survivor resources


Organizers from the Student Labor Alliance, the Student Farmworker Alliance and the Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition are currently recruiting students to attend the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Freedom Fast and the corresponding march that will take place in New York City March 15. CIW aims to use the fast and march to “end sexual violence in Wendy’s supply chain by bringing the fast-food chain into (CIW’s) Fair Food Program,” according to the recruitment form for the event. Wendy’s is currently the last major food chain that has not joined the Fair Food Program, an initiative intended to eliminate sexual harassment and violence in farm fields, said Emma Galvin ’18.5, a student organizer of the event. By partnering with the Fair Food Program, fast food companies agree to comply with a code of conduct that protects workers’ rights and gives



Student groups have extended support to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ efforts to end sexual violence within Wendy’s supply chain. workers the opportunity to file reports of sexual harassment or assault through the program. Lupe Gonzalo, a former field worker and current leader of CIW who is organizing the New York fast and march,

said she was inspired to take action after seeing how CIW transformed the protection of workers’ rights on the ranch where she was previously employed. Representatives from CIW » See COALITION, page 3

As partisan politics dominate the health care debate nationwide, the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions unanimously passed a comprehensive childhood cancer bill, cowritten by Sen. Jack Reed D-RI, in late February. The legislation, called the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research Act, aims to advance pediatric cancer research, child-focused cancer treatments and childhood cancer surveillance while providing resources for survivors, Reed said in his floor statement. Reed began working on the issue of childhood cancer after meeting a family whose son had passed away at age nine from neuroblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He first

proposed legislation on the issue with the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act, which was signed into law in 2008. The act created a comprehensive childhood cancer database for research purposes, which the STAR Act would reauthorize, Reed said. The STAR Act also aims to increase communication about treatment and research between physicians. “Senator Reed included provisions to help improve care not just for those suffering with cancer, but also for survivors of childhood cancer,” said Chip Unruh, press secretary to the senator. As many as two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors will develop a serious or life-threatening illness such as secondary cancers or organ damage, he added. Rebekah Ham, a Rhode Island resident, has personally witnessed the issues associated with suvivorship. Her daughter, Grace Carey, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at age five. “We’re so thankful for the treatment and medical care that Grace » See STAR, page 3

New research aims to U. to offer new joint MPH/MPA degree improve solar panels University study creates more affordable, environmentally stable, conscious solar cells By EUGENE HRABARCHUK STAFF WRITER

According to a recent study by University researchers, a new material called Cesium Titanium (IV) Bromide can replace lead in a specific type of solar panel. The study’s goal is not necessarily to replace commonly used silicon solar cells, but to create environmentally stable and conscious solar cells that are more affordable and have broader applicability. The new solar cells are about “1,000 times thinner” than silicon solar cells, said Nitin Padture, co-author of the study, professor of engineering and director of Brown’s Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation. “These thin films can be made flexible. If you try to bend a silicon wafer, you’ll shatter it. But when the film



is so thin, it can be flexible, so you can put them on a camping tent, or a backpack, or clothes or umbrellas,” Padture said. The researchers focused on solar panels based on perovskite, a material with a crystal structure allowing for increased conductivity, lower cost and better solar cell properties, according to the American Ceramics Society. The study found that leadbased perovskite panels contributed to toxicity in the environment and increased volatility, but this new material provides a less toxic alternative. “The amounts of lead in solar cells are quite small,” said Robert Hurt, professor of engineering and head of the Laboratory for Environmental and Health Nanoscience. “We have lead in a lot of old products, we have lead pipes that our drinking water flows through, but those are all legacy things,” he added. “But to put new products on the market that contain lead is always going to be of some concern.” “(Perovskite solar cells) also contain an organic molecule in the crystal structure that actually helps » See SOLAR, page 4


Program combines public health, public policy through coursework, internship, thesis By ANUVA GOEL STAFF WRITER

A partnership between the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs and the School of Public Health is introducing a new two-year joint Master of Public Health/Master of Public Affairs degree this summer to address the intersection of public health and public policy. “Brown’s (MPH/MPA) dual degree offers an exceptional educational

opportunity for students interested in leadership careers in both global and domestic health policy,” said Eric Patashnik, director of the MPA program. Patashnik and Patrick Vivier, director of the MPH program, described the two degrees as “complementary,” with both focusing on using various types of analyses to understand policy effectiveness. “The most important societal problems do not respect disciplinary boundaries,” Patashnik said. “Students need to be prepared to be leaders in the 21st century with schools and tools of multiple disciplines.” In addition to the core courses, the program is devoted to broader strengthening of students’ skills and knowledge,

Patashnik said. Students will participate in a global policy experience to learn how public policies are made in different cultural and political settings. The degree will also require a summer internship, which allows students in their second year to apply their skills to problems prevalent in the real world. Finally, students will round out the program with a thesis paper including an analytics component. Policy and public health are “a natural fit,” said Carrie Nordlund, senior administrator of the MPA program. She emphasized that health care is a “really big and important sector of our economy,” contributing nearly 20 percent to the country’s GDP. Data analytics » See DEGREE, page 4



NEWS With a round of info sessions this week, UCS and UFB begin their elections process

SCIENCE & RESEARCH Erin Beck PhD ’12 speaks on her research regarding the efficacy of NGOs in Guatemala

COMMENTARY Aman ’20: Criminal history disclosure requirements for jobs, college promote racial injustice

COMMENTARY Editorial: Suspension of MAT program’s elementary track deeply worrisomeBACK







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​UCS, UFB election process begins for prospective candidates Information sessions provide campaign timeline, position overviews By MELANIE PINCUS SENIOR STAFF WRITER


​​The Undergraduate Council of Students’ Elections Board held three information sessions this week for prospective candidates, marking the beginning of the spring election process for UCS and the Undergraduate Finance Board. The information sessions were held to help “make sure that everybody that’s potentially going to run has the same information … and to answer clarifying questions,” said Kathryn Stack ’19, UCS elections board co-chair.

Students considering running for office must attend one information session and will not be officially considered candidates until a meeting scheduled for March 14. A student interested in running for chair of student wellness, a UCS position that aims to enhance health services, mental health and sexual assault prevention resources on campus, said that the information session added a personal element to the start of the election process. The information session “could’ve been done online,” said the student. “But I guess this kind of makes it more … human,” so students can “see what (they’re) getting into in person.” Individuals interviewed by The Herald who had attended meetings could not be named due to eligibility requirements for potential UCS

candidates. Another student, interested in running for chair of student activities, said serving in this role would provide the opportunity to increase student engagement with UCS resources. “I’ve realized that even in college, (student government) can be really fun and fulfilling,” the student said. “I think when students know more about (the student activities committee) we can get more student groups involved.” Last year, the races for UCS president, vice president and three UCS chair positions were all eventually uncontested, The Herald previously reported. UCS Elections Board CoChair Katie Garry ’20 said the board has worked to make elections more competitive this year. “I think we’ve definitely done

The Literary Arts Department is sponsoring the following prizes for the Brown community

Academy of American Poets Prize: For the best poem (up to 10 pages). Open to all Brown students. Kim Ann Arstark Memorial Awards: For the best poem or poems (up to 20 pages) written in celebration of life. Open to all Brown students. Mark Baumer Prizes for Language Art: For the best works in language art (any media). Open to Brown students. A discrete Mark Baumer Prize is open to university staff and information about this will be shared under separate cover. Feldman Prizes in Fiction: For the best story or stories (up to 20 pages). Open to all Brown students. Beth Lisa Feldman Prize in Children’s Literature: For best story or stories for children four to eight years old (up to 50 pages). Open to all Brown students (and may be a collaboration). Frances Mason Harris ’26 Prizes: For a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose fiction by a currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate woman. John Hawkes Prize in Fiction: This contest honors the memory of John Hawkes, the internationally-recognized author and dedicated professor of creative writing at Brown University. The contest is open to all students currently enrolled in the Graduate Program in Literary Arts. The submission must be a work of fiction (up to 50 pages). Edwin Honig Memorial Prizes in Poetry: Honoring the memory of Edwin Honig — poet, translator and founder of the Literary Arts Department at Brown University (up to 10 pages). Open to all Brown students. Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop Prize for Innovative Writing: For literary work, any genre, that best exemplifies the spirit of innovation found in the writings and translations of Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop. Up to 15 pages. Open to all Brown students. DEADLINE: 11:59 PM ON 19 MARCH. ALL APPLICATIONS ARE COMPLETED ONLINE. TO APPLY, VISIT: HTTPS://WWW.BROWN.EDU/ACADEMICS/LITERARY-ARTS/LITERARY-ARTS-PRIZES-2018-LISTING

more in terms of encouraging people to run at (UCS general body) meetings (and) sending out information to the whole campus,” Garry said. For “people who were on the fence about running, we’re encouraging them to at least learn more about it … because we want the campus to have more options.” UCS President Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 has proposed altering the election process to make it more fair at multiple general body meetings this semester. For example, UCS could reduce the number of signatures it requires potential candidates to collect from students, Steele suggested at a meeting Feb. 8. The current number of signatures needed to declare candidacy for UCS president and vice-president as well as UFB chair and vice-chair is 400, and all

signatures must be collected by the March 14 meeting. The UCS general body planned to discuss possible changes to election rules at its weekly meeting yesterday evening, Garry said, but the meeting was cancelled due to weather concerns. Members of UCS will meet separately this week to decide on changes, and any new policies will be announced to all candidates by Friday, Steele wrote in an email to The Herald. The election process includes an open-to-the-public debate between candidates March 18 and voting occurs online from March 20-22 through a survey sent to all undergraduates, according to UCS’ website. The successful candidates begin their tenure after the end of the spring semester.




» COALITION, from page 1

» STAR, from page 1

spoke with workers about “sexual harassment and how to report it. … They handed out books, cards and phone numbers that we could call at any time of the day to report” an incident, Gonzalo said. “It was the workers who started this movement. After hearing about this and all the rights we have, I started going to meetings, rallies and protests.” Demonstrators plan to demand that Wendy’s joins the program by holding a fast outside the office of Nelson Peltz, the company’s board chairman, and marching through midtown Manhattan, Galvin said. CIW activists will partake in the fast because corporations like Wendy’s “have not heard us … so we must be in front of their offices, hungry, so they can listen to us,” Gonzalo said. Galvin added that the event provides students and campus organizations with an opportunity to offer support and solidarity for workers’ rights. “The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has specifically asked students to show up in this way because … students are being marketed to by Wendy’s.” By harnessing the power of consumers, organizers hope to show Wendy’s that students will not “be exploited by Wendy’s marketing in the same way that workers aren’t going to be exploited in the fields,” Galvin said. “Consumers go to restaurants and fast-food places, but no one tells them what’s behind those products,” Gonzalo said. But behind the brands of corporations, there “is also poverty, exploitation and slavery. By seeing what field workers were going though, the consumer can use their power to make others respect us as field workers.” Currently, organizers at the University and in Boston and New Haven, Connecticut are recruiting students and community members to travel to New York to participate in the march, Galvin said. While 40 people from Providence have officially registered to attend, organizers are still attempting to turn interest on campus into concrete commitments, she added. In order to increase interest, they have contacted members of the Providence community to attend the march. “We’ve been doing outreach in interfaith communities … and labor organizing in Providence,” Galvin said. This has included groups such as labor unions, Jobs for Justice and the Working Families Party, she added. Student coordinators at the University have received sponsorships from the Department of Environmental Studies, the Student Labor Alliance, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the Undergraduate Finance Board, the Chaplain’s Office and the Service Employees International Union, Galvin wrote in an email to The Herald. The group sponsorships have allowed students to lower the prices for tickets to New York, she added. This event also marks an important step in changing the way that students take a stand to end sexual violence, said Greg Asbed ’85, the co-founder of CIW. “Anybody who is moved by this battle to end sexual harassment and sexual assault… should be there in New York,” he added.

received, but it also had enormous consequences,” Ham said. “Her eyesight, hearing, growth, hair regrowth and some cognitive issues … have all been affected.” Ham hopes the bill can address the need for a network to help survivors navigate their future medical and psychological needs. “You also have to think about how you’re in this community of kids and not everyone survives,” she said. “There’s going to be a bigger population of survivors as we move forward and they are going to have different needs than other people their age.” Ham also stressed the importance of increasing opportunities for research. Grace, who has been cancer-free for ten years, underwent brain surgery at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, followed by radiation proton beam therapy and chemotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “At the time, Mass General was one of five or six centers around the U.S. for proton beam therapy,” Ham said. “I really believe that proton beam therapy saved her life. And without research, that kind of therapy might not exist.” While opportunities for research have grown, certain innovative treatments remain possible only in specific

— With additional reporting by Coral Murphy, who translated Lupe Gonzalo’s quotes from Spanish into English.

locations. Proton therapy is not available in state, and the Lifespan Hospital Corporation in Rhode Island signed a five-year agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to send patients with complex needs to the Boston hospital, as reported by the Boston Business Journal. The STAR Act would increase opportunities for research nationwide, which would make cutting-edge treatment more readily available in state. One group working toward advancing research in Rhode Island is the Brown University Oncology Research Group, a division of the Alpert Medical School. “Our goal and our mission is to provide Rhode Island residents and nearby residents the opportunity to remain in state for their care without compromising their ability to participate in novel, early phase cancer trials,” said Kayla Rosati, director of operations for BrUOG. The group, which researches adult cancers, aims to coordinate clinical cancer research for the University’s affiliated hospitals. The STAR Act, alongside BrUOG, hopes to improve the lives of cancer patients and survivors. “We need to make sure that health care professionals are able to provide the best follow-up care for these kids in their adolescence and into adulthood, no matter where they live,” Unruh said.

Senator Jack Reed D-RI co-wrote the The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act to advance pediatric cancer care. COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS





Saodat Ismailova Talk and Film Showing Join Uzbek filmmaker Saodat Ismailova at a joint panel discussiondinner Sunday afternoon at the Rhode Island School of Design Tap Room. Ismailova will be joined at the event by Ted Levin, professor of music at Dartmouth; Shahzad Bashir, professor of Islamic humanities and religious studies; and Katie Freeze GS, who specializes in ethnomusicology. Entitled “The Inspiration of Tradition: Central Asian Cool,” the event will unpack modes of storytelling and iconography of women in Islamic mythology. Ismailova’s filmography includes “Zukhra” (2013), “40 Days of Silence” (2014) and “The Haunted” (2017). Her latest, “Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls),” is a live music film depicting the performances of women from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Karakalpakstan, and will feature at the RISD auditorium Wednesday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.

‘Silenced Voices’

» SOLAR, from page 1

“Silenced Voices,” an exhibition by artist Raphael Díaz, will open Thursday on the second floor of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. The installation considers the artist’s experiences with a range of cultures, including his own Cuban heritage and culture. Díaz’s exhibition comes as the next in the Art at Watson initiative and will be on display through May 31.

‘A Human Being Died That Night’ Catch the debut of the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre’s production of “A Human Being Died That Night” tonight. Directed by Judith Swift, the production stars Kourtney Adams and Jim O’Brien. It is based on Nicholas Wright’s adaption of the eponymous book by Pumla GobodoMadikizela that grapples with police brutality in the era of South African apartheid. The play will run in the Gamm Theatre through April 1. Tickets range from $44 to $60.

‘The Wolves’ This weekend, the Downspace will host Production Workshop’s production of “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe. Directed by Marielle Burt ’19, the play poignantly navigates the liminal experiences of a high school girl’s soccer team. The production premieres Friday at 8 p.m., and will have additional showings on Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 8 p.m.

» DEGREE, from page 1 combined with program evaluation and implementation are a major skill set on the policy side, and a new course for the joint degree will include integrating computer programming skills with data analytics. Vivier believes that these are essential skills for public health as well, which has a focus on biostatistics, quantitative analyses and epidemiology. He hopes that when these skills are combined


Researchers found that a new material — Cesium Titanium (IV) Bromide — can take the place of lead in a specific type of solar panel that is more affordable and offers increased conductivity.

through the joint degree, students will be able to “assess and examine public health issues and know whether policies or other interventions are having an impact.” The combination of the two subject areas creates “real, exciting possibilities … in the real world,” Vivier said. Health care cost control, the opioid epidemic and achieving health equity are just a few of the many challenges these students will be equipped to take on, Patashnik said.

it be a good absorber,” Padture said. The presence of this molecule and the lead make a “good” solar cell, but the molecule is volatile outside the lab and lead is toxic, so the goal was to circumvent these issues, Padture added. “Typically, (solar panels) are made of silicon,” but due to the complex formation process, “there is a lot of cost involved,” Padture said. “So there’s always been a motivation for reducing the cost in the last 25 to 30 years.” “In 2009, this new technology of perovskite solar cells took a foothold,” and while the efficiency was just 4 percent in the beginning of development, the cells recently reached a new record of about 23 percent efficiency at a reduced cost, Padture said. “The reason that these solar cells are so efficient is because they contain lead, and lead helps in absorbing light.” “Our goal is not to replace the silicon solar cells. We want to boost the efficiency,” said Min Chen GS, co-author of the study.

Tandem cells can be formed by combining perovskite and silicon technologies, Padture said. This process boosts the overall efficiency of the solar cell, as each type only absorbs certain spectrums of sunlight, Padture said. “Perovskite you can actually tune to absorb a complementary part of the solar spectrum that silicon doesn’t absorb,” he added. The project is in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where they run “computational modeling, because there are thousands of compounds that are lead-free, but we cannot test each of those in the lab,” Padture said. “They complete experiments on computers screening thousands of possible compounds” based on the desired properties for the solar cells, he added. “If you just do experiment after random experiment, there are too many, and you’re not going to be able to find the perfect combination,” Padture said. “Integration of computation and experiment is really key for making advances, and that is where the

future is for research.” Researchers at the University took the suggested compositions from modeling for further testing, Padture said. This showed that computational modeling predictions could be actualized in a lab environment, and led to the use of this new substance.. “Silicon needs to be melted at 1500 degrees Celsius,” while the new materials only need to be heated from around 100 to 200 degrees Celsius, so there’s a huge energy savings cost, Padture said. “It’s not just the device itself, but someone has to make the device, and people have to mine the lead, and there’s a whole chain behind it. So if you can get rid of the toxic substance in the beginning, then you’ve certainly done a good thing,” Hurt said. “There are a lot of other costs with using cheap toxic materials, so you have to take special steps to protect the workers and the environment,” Padture said. “In general, cheap toxic materials do not make good economic sense.”

“I think that the expertise and the guild that they’ll bring really makes them leaders in the health care field,” Nordlund said. She envisions graduates of the program working at NGOs, big foundations such as the Gates Foundation, city and state departments of health and at all levels of government, emphasizing that the program’s education really prepares them for a “global” impact. The MPH/MPA program officially kicks off in June 2018, beginning with

the MPA requirements. The application deadline is April 1, with decisions being sent out on a rolling admissions basis. Each department will individually narrow down applicants with the skills to succeed in their respective programs, before convening to select the students who are committed to “making a difference” and who will succeed in the “rigorous” nature of this program, Vivier said. With the introduction of this dual degree, the University will join other institutions around the country such as

the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard and the University of Michigan that offer the joint MPH/MPA degree, but will feature an accelerated path as well as broader coursework and experiences, reflecting the global and systemic nature of these issues, Patashnik said. “By coming together,” Patashnik said, the Watson Institute and School of Public Health “are creating a program geared towards the complexity of health care challenges in the contemporary world.”





wa l k i n g i n w i n t e r w o n d e r l a n d f o r w i n g s


Pizza: Cheese, Pepperoni, BBQ Bam Bam, Mary Jane Mac and Cheese Bar JOSIAH’S


Nacho Bar, Quesadilla Station, Jo’s Burger

Mango and Mint Chicken Curry, Aloo Saag



Cajun Pasta with Chicken, Steamed Edamame, Cuban Sandwich

Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, Steamed Corn, Cavatini, Bok Choy Sauté



Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich, Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich, Steak Fries

Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce, Artichoke and Red Pepper Fritatta, Roasted Beets



Students that were heading to Josiah’s eatery to purchase midterm comfort food were forced to travel through rain and snow or take the shuttle last night. The buffalo chicken wings were a warm comfort on a cold day.


“I really believe that proton beam therapy saved her life. And without research, that kind of therapy might not crossword


—Rebekah Ham, Rhode Island resident

See STAR on page 1.


















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Brown/CASA in Cuba Info Session 11:00 A.M. J Walter Wilson, 411

Pathobiology Seminar: Robert Cramer Jr., Ph.D. 12:00 P.M. Sidney Frank Hall, 220

Out of the Archive Lecture by Tani Barlow 5:30 P.M. Pembroke Hall, 305

Meraki Information Session 8:00 P.M. 167 Angell Street, 1st floor


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Anthropology Talk by Dr. Sonya Atalay 12:00 P.M. Giddings House, 212

Curricular Resource Center Open House 2:00 P.M. Campus Center, 228

Depression Support Group 3:00 P.M. J Walter Wilson, 512

Fashion@Brown Makeup Night 7:00 P.M. Campus Center, Petterutii Longue




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Ban the box REBECCA AMAN staff columnist Recently, momentum has grown around the movement to “ban the box” — the checkbox that asks if one has a criminal conviction on initial job applications. Proponents of the ban argue that employers use the question to screen applicants unfairly, which disproportionately affects young men of color and amplifies the effects of a prejudiced criminal justice system. Currently, 30 states ban this question for government jobs, and 10 states, including Rhode Island, have also prohibited private employers from asking the question on initial job applications. Meanwhile, a smaller but growing movement has focused on a similar question on college applications, which generally require even more information than job applications do. While employers typically limit their question to felony convictions, the Common Application, used by more than 700 colleges and universities including Brown, asks about felonies, misdemeanors and guilty juvenile adjudications. “Banning the box” for both employment and college admissions is an important step in achieving racial justice, as this question amplifies the harm caused by a biased and flawed criminal justice system. The criminal justice system touches the lives of a large portion of America’s young people; 30 percent of Americans will have an arrest record by the age of 23. For young men of color, encounters with the criminal justice system are commonplace: By age 23, 44 percent of Hispanic men and 49 percent of black men will have arrest records. Furthermore, racial disparities in

criminal justice are well-documented. For example, although black Americans and white Americans use drugs at similar rates, black Americans are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for drug-related crime, and more than six times more likely to be incarcerated for the same offense. In addition, research shows that “the box” is a significant barrier for those with criminal records in admissions. One study found that rejection rates were 12 to 13 percent higher for those with criminal con-

path toward secure employment and higher wages, excluding those with criminal histories from this path amplifies the damage caused by an unfair criminal justice system and makes breaking free from such a system much harder. Colleges and universities are rightly concerned about the safety of their students, which may make them hesitant to “ban the box” on college applications. Yet college students who commit crimes rarely have a prior record, and there is little evidence to suggest that college stu-

does more harm than good. In the past few years, some colleges and universities have made efforts to balance commitments to justice and student safety. In 2016, in response to activism by the SUNY Student Assembly, the SUNY Board of Trustees voted to stop asking applicants about prior convictions, although they still require this information on applications for oncampus housing, study abroad and other programs. In 2017, Louisiana became the first state to ban all public colleges from asking about crimi-

“Banning the box” for both employment and college admissions is an important step in achieving racial justice, as this question amplifies the harm caused by a biased and flawed criminal justice system.

victions compared to similar students without convictions. More importantly, evidence suggests that “the box” discourages applicants with criminal convictions from applying at all. For example, of 3,000 potential applicants with felony convictions to the State University of New York system, 62 percent failed to complete the application, compared to 21 percent of potential applicants without convictions. Because higher education offers a clear

dents with criminal convictions are more likely to commit crimes. In fact, most crimes on college campuses are related to “binge drinking, Greek life and big-time college athletics,” according to the Atlantic. While asking about specific aspects of an applicant’s criminal history — such as convictions related to sexual assault — could possibly help colleges protect students, the broad nature of the Common Application criminal history question

nal history except for sexual assault or stalking. Unfortunately, similar legislation was recently vetoed in Maryland. So far, private colleges and universities have been slower to adjust. One notable exception is New York University, which revised its admissions policy in 2015 in response to persistent student activism by the Incarceration to Education Coalition. Currently, while the undergraduate college still uses the Common Appli-

cation and asks for applicants’ conviction history, the admissions team conducts initial application reviews without knowledge of prior convictions and then considers conviction history later in the process. NYU’s Silver School of Social Work has abandoned the question altogether. In 2016, responding to continued pressure from the IEC, NYU sent a letter to the Common Application “advising the organization to evaluate the value of disciplinary and criminal history checkboxes in their application.” While the IEC urged the administration to go further, calling the letter a “stalling tactic,” the administration has not yet taken any further action. These recent developments show that “banning the box” is not straightforward in practice. Yet while colleges and universities should absolutely make every effort to protect their students, the current form and use of the criminal convictions question is far too broad and thus contributes to racial injustice without any clear benefits to student safety. Up until now, student activism has been incredibly effective in putting “ban the box” on the higher education agenda and convincing college administrations to make some much-needed reforms. It’s time for Brown — if we truly value justice and equity — to follow these student activists’ lead and start a conversation about how to create policies that keep students safe without perpetuating racial injustice in college admissions.

Rebecca Aman ’20 can be reached at Please send responses to this opinion to and op-eds to


U. should not suspend MAT program’s elementary track On Jan. 22, the School of Professional Studies decided to place the Master of Arts in Teaching program under review and to suspend the elementary track of the program for the 2018-19 academic year. Dean of the School of Professional Studies and Vice Chair of the Department of Education Karen Sibley MAT’81 P’07 P’12 said she is unsure whether the program will return. This news is deeply worrisome. The suspension and possible cancellation of the elementary track — a program that sets Brown apart from peer schools — reflects the administration’s faulty logic and undemocratic decision-making, and will inflict long-term harm on both the University and the greater Providence community. The elementary track is a rigorous, yearlong program that combines graduate-level courses and actual, full-day teaching experiences in local schools. Suspending the program would increase student-teacher ratios across Rhode Island, imperil the growth of the program’s network of alums and eliminate meaningful educational opportunities for elementary school students. For example, the elementary track’s suspension effectively shuts down SummerPrep — a free

supplemental summer program established by the elementary track and the Community Preparatory School — at the expense of numerous Providence students. The University did not bother to communicate in advance its plans to suspend the elementary track to the Community Preparatory School. The University’s lack of transparency regarding its decision-making and disregard for the impact the suspension will have on the community have been particularly troubling. In a letter to The Herald, Provost Richard Locke P’18 clarified the University’s rationale for the review and suspension, writing, “We want to ensure that we are preparing teachers with the knowledge and skills to understand social contexts and how they impact students, meet the needs of diverse learners and promote greater equity in our schools.” But how can the University rationally hope to “continue to make a difference in classrooms in our city, state and nation,” as Locke says, without preparing a capable cohort of elementary school educators? Indeed, the elementary track — which, according to alums, focuses on issues of social justice and equality — already achieves

many of the administration’s purported objectives. Further, the University failed to respond constructively to the feedback of MAT program participants and reaffirm the value of elementarylevel education. In the fall, MAT students were asked to provide feedback about the program, and many gave constructive criticism. But none of them knew that the program’s very existence was in jeopardy. Notably, the University has not suspended the secondary track of the MAT, which is also under administrative review, sending the message to alums and current students of the elementary track that their work matters less. “It feels like a slap in the face to eliminate elementary and only keep secondary, as if to say that Brown is ‘too prestigious’ to train elementary school educators,” said Ana Lopez ’10 MAT’11, third-grade teacher at the Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Washington, D.C. “Quite frankly, I thought we were better than that.” At the end of the day, the erasure of the elementary track will also inflict great harm on the University’s appeal as a go-to destination for elementary-level teaching. Indeed, the type of elementary MAT program offered by Brown is

not available at its peer schools. Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth have no master’s programs for education. While Harvard, Cornell and Penn do have graduate education programs, they do not have any geared toward elementary school teachers. Columbia, the only other Ivy League university with a program specifically tailored to elementary education, does not have a separate immersive component like Brown’s MAT, and their program is longer than a year. Brown stands alone in its exclusive combination of classes and elementary school teaching experience. “If you talk to any alum, they will tell you that this is the best teacher education program in the country,” said Margot Miller MAT’11. It would be unfortunate — and a grave dereliction of responsibility to its surrounding community — for the University to allow this program to end. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: Anuj Krishnamurthy ’19, Mili Mitra ’18, Rhaime Kim ’20 and Grace Layer ’20. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@ and op-eds to opinions@



Erin Beck weighs effectiveness of NGOs in Guatemala


Erin Beck PhD ’12 conducted extensive research on two NGOs in Guatemala: Namaste and Fraternity. A large portion of her effort was spent collecting information about Namaste’s impact on the female entreprenuers it aims to empower, ultimately finding that many well-intentioned programs fall short of expectations.

University of Oregon professor sheds light on problematic aspects of NGO intervention By JACKSON WELLS SCIENCE & RESEARCH EDITOR

Erin Beck PhD ’12, associate professor of political science at the University of Oregon, began her dissertation on the role of nongovernmental organizations with a simple question in mind: NGOs may come into “developing” nations intending to bring about constructive change, but are they actually effective in doing so? Beck spent seven years tackling the question between 2007 and 2014, eventually publishing her results in the book “How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations with Guatemalan NGOs.” In a lecture delivered March 7, she spoke about what she learned in Guatemala and the difficulties and misconceptions that plague many intervention missions.

Her research focused on two firms specifically: Namaste, which worked to empower women entrepreneurs through loans, classes and the strengthening of traditionally “Western business values”; and Fraternity, which took a ground-up, grassroots approach to change centered on self-improvement. Though these two organizations took different approaches, the bulk of her lecture focused on the history of Namaste as well as its effect on Guatemalan women. Beck described her work as an in-depth longitudinal analysis that involved interviews with members of Namaste and its beneficiaries and surveys of the women involved, among other sources of information. “I basically took on the role of an anthropologist,” she said. Her extensive research did not answer the question of which NGO was more effective. “I hate that question,” she said. This line of inquiry is the wrong one to take, she said; instead, researchers should bear in mind the

processes that take place as NGOs intervene in these countries. However, her research sheds light on the impact of NGOs and the potentially problematic ways they communicate with citizens of a developing country. Namaste views Guatemalan women as “undercapitalized entrepreneurs” who need only a boost to make their respective businesses take off. This way of thinking makes sense, but is ultimately flawed, she said. The founders of Namaste are successful entrepreneurs who assume that Guatemalan women want the same things Western business people want, such as more money and business growth. They rely on their own experiences to influence how to structure their NGO intervention processes, she said. However, some of the women with whom Namaste worked were not interested in growing their businesses whatsoever, she said. Both NGOs and beneficiaries tend to maintain a much more complex view of themselves than of the

other, leading them to make many assumptions, Beck said. For instance, beneficiaries often view NGOs only as sources of loans and assistance and understand that their intervention might not have an impact in the long run. This mismatch in expectations accounts for the low impact of NGOs, whose approaches to financial assistance are often ineffective. Though studies may show a slight increase in the average income for these women, this could mean that some are facing growth while others are facing substantial losses — ­ not that Namaste has truly tapped what it would consider to be their entrepreneurial potential. Despite this, NGOs such as Namaste do not leave; in fact, they often view their shortcomings as a success, or at least as the potential for future success, Beck said. In addition, the fact that women interact with the NGOs in the first place signals demand to NGO leadership, meaning that changes often go no further than paperwork, she said.

This difficulty is only compounded by the fact that the founders of these NGOs often do not want to accept that the venture in which they have invested so much money and time is not working, leading them to assume the opposite. Beck does not attempt to give a definitive answer as to how NGOs can change for the better, since her research did not focus on this question. No grand statements should be taken away from her research, she said. However, she does shed light on some of the more problematic aspects of NGO intervention. “It was a really interesting and engaging look at how, due to the structure and management of a lot of NGOs, well-intentioned programs are often pretty ineffectual,” said Wylie De Groff ’21. “I think it’s really important for NGOs from ‘developed’ countries to be self-critical … (and) help people in places like Guatemala on their own terms rather than trying to replicate industrial Western economies across the world.”


Thursday, March 8, 2018  

The March 8, 2018 issue of The Brown Daily Herald

Thursday, March 8, 2018  

The March 8, 2018 issue of The Brown Daily Herald