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Cornel West lectures on humanity, politics, justice U. hopes to

increase time for faculty research

As part of Politics in the Humanities series, West touches upon existential questions, current affairs By DIVYA MANIAR

Faculty vote to establish standing committee for gender-based discrimination cases


At Tuesday’s event, Cornel West spoke with conviction and compassion, demonstrating care for his audience. Even as the event reached its scheduled end, he remained committed to speaking to every audience member who had a question for him. “I just want to revel in your humanity no matter what,” he said. The Cogut Institute for the Humanities brought the philosopher, political activist and public intellectual to the Salomon Center yesterday as a part of its Politics in the Humanities lecture series. West was introduced by Kristen Maye GS and Felicia Denaud GS, who are both in the Africana studies department. In Maye’s introductory statement, she said that West has “set a standard for unbridled truth telling,” adding that “West is never at rest, and neither is the black radical tradition.” The lecture was deeply rooted in a pervasive sense of humanity. “I am who I am because somebody loved me,



Cornel West, public intellectual and professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard, discussed a range of philosophical quandaries and his intersectional view of societal injustices at his lecture Tuesday night. somebody cared for me, somebody attended to me, someone was concerned with my trajectory in life, my pilgrimage,” West said. His lecture compelled the consideration of existential questions and how they could be woven into interdisciplinary approaches to politics and the

humanities. He asked, “What kind of human being are you going to choose to be? What kind of virtues and visions and values will you enact and embody in the short time that you are in space and time?” West cited James Baldwin, William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Ludwig

van Beethoven and Dinah Washington as “towering figures in humanity,” each differentiated by a willingness to, in an existential sense, “wrestle with what it means to be human,” to “probe at the deepest level of their souls.” West also discussed the nature of our » See WEST, page 3

At yesterday’s faculty meeting, President Christina Paxson P’19 proposed that the University increase support for graduate students and free faculty of some administrative duties to allow them to focus on their research and scholarship. Those ideas grew out of data from the Faculty Resources and Scholarly Infrastructure Survey conducted in 2012 and 2017, which faculty discussed at the meeting. In the survey, respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with a list of over 30 aspects of University life. The lowest ranked aspects on the list included resources to support » See FACULTY, page 3

Art history scholar discusses U. fellow simplifies health care with app photography’s beginnings Roberta Powell, Swearer’s Michael Leja celebrates Langenheim brothers’ mass distribution of Niagara Falls photos By ANNABELLE WOODWARD SENIOR STAFF WRITER

“Photography was not born a mass medium. It had to be converted into one through creative work on its technologies, as well as its formats, production, distribution processes, marketing and more.” Those words were spoken in the List Art Center yesterday by awardwinning author and scholar Michael Leja, who is one of the “pre-eminent scholars in the field of American Art,” according to Professor of History of Art and Architecture Douglas Nickel. Leja, a professor of the history of art at Penn, was the honorary speaker at the 2018 Annual Anita Glass Memorial Lecture. His presentation, titled “The Langenheim Brothers at Niagara Falls: Photographic Fusions and the Mass Marketing of Photography,” explored Frederick and William Langenheim’s contributions to the production and consumption of photography in


the mid-1800s. From taking the first set of panoramic photos of Niagara Falls to developing the technology that resulted in the mass distribution of landscape stereographs, these brothers deserve “much of the credit or blame for developing the mass marketing of photographs and a mass market for them,” Leja said. Nickel, who teaches Leja’s writings in her classes, said Leja “is interested in trying to redefine the way we do art history by looking at the materials that aren’t necessarily famous masterpieces of painting and sculpture. His interest is in how pictures were used by average people in the past, which, if you think about the Internet and the way that we’re bombarded with images now, is an interesting way to think about doing archaeology about the present moment.” Leja’s lecture primarily focused on the composition of the Langenheim brothers’ Niagara Falls panorama and its popular reception. The talk lasted for a little over an hour and was attended by a large number of students, artists and community members. Dominic Bate GS, who studies art history, said he was “really intrigued » See PHOTO, page 3

Community Practitioner in Residence, develops health numeracy app By CELIA HACK SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Roberta Powell, the Swearer Center community practitioner in residence for spring 2018, gestures with incredulity toward a seemingly endless list of acronyms and numbers she has pulled out of her backpack. These lab results belong to her brother-in-law, who gave her permission to look at the data — and they exemplify the problem she wants to solve in the health care system. “He has a cancer diagnosis, and he went to (Dana) Farber. … (And) they said, ‘Here are your lab results,’” then they sent him off, Powell said. Turning the sheet of paper over, Powell pointed to a long list of instructions in small type that followed the lab results. “You tell me what that means,” she added. “It’s just ridiculous.” Working with a team of University students as the community practitioner in residence, Powell is designing an app to improve “health


Roberta Powell draws on her experiences as a witness to her family’s struggles to distill medical information through her health numeracy app. numeracy” — patients’ understanding of the health data they receive, such as their blood pressure. The app, currently unnamed, will turn patients’ health data into manageable, transparent visuals that clearly portray the status of their health, Powell said. A short graphic video to

explain any unknown concepts will accompany the results, she added. “My hope and dream and belief is that it is going to help people understand their status better and give them understanding, so they can act on information,” Powell said. » See HEALTH CARE, page 3



SCIENCE & RESEARCH Models of the moon’s South PoleAitken basin could aid future space exploration

METRO Providence Talks supports early childhood language development, receives additional $500,000

COMMENTARY Bennett ’79: Prospect Medical Care misrepresented in op-ed, committed to patient care

COMMENTARY Simshauser ’20: Parkland shooting activism resurrects statelevel gun reform legislation







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Scientists map mineralogy of large lunar basin


Data on the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin provide evidence for mantle and volcanic material on the lunar surface, according to a study by University researchers.

New study on crater could lead to future research, better knowledge of lunar surface for exploration By KENDRICK TAN SENIOR STAFF WRITER


University researchers recently published a study examining the mineralogy of the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin, which could serve as guidance for future explorations on the moon. The study, published in the “Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets,” was led and coauthored by Daniel Moriarty, postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Carle Pieters, professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences.

The SPA basin, an impact crater on the far side of the Moon, is thought to be one of the oldest and largest basins on the lunar surface, Moriarty said. “Impacts are primary drivers of solar system formation,” he said, adding that understanding these impacts is vital to learning about the formation of planetary bodies. “Part of why the SPA was chosen was because it is big, roughly the size of half the United States, so it could help us understand large impacts.” The presence of mantle material as well as the possibility of past volcanic

activity also led researchers to study the SPA. “The mantle of this planetary body tells us a lot about how the object was formed many millions of years ago, as well as its geological history, so it’s been an area of great interest for quite a long time now,” said Ralph Milliken, associate professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences. Data was collected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a spectrometer launched on India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Pieters was the principal investigator of this spectrometer. Ratios of absorbed and reflected light of different wavelengths offered information about the mineral

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

composition of the rocks, Moriarty said. The paper describes the detection of deposits from volcanic activity, which points to the possible creation of volcanic material after the impact and the flowing of this material into the center of the basin, he said. Moriarty also mentioned the value of exposed mantle material, since accessing such materials on Earth would require digging down more than 60 miles. Researchers agree that the study could offer insight into possible landing sites for future explorations. “The study opens up a very clear guideline for how to return samples from this part of the moon,” said Jack Mustard

MS’86 PhD’90, professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences. Since both mantle material and volcanic material on the moon interest scientists all over the world, Moriarty suggested that landing in an area close to both of those substances could yield a greater return. “With Earth, we can go out there and verify different hypotheses of what’s out there, but with space objects, such as the moon, it requires more detailed analyses on the ground either by rovers or humans,” Milliken said. “The study helps us figure out where we should go for these future explorations, because we want to understand what else could be there.”




» HEALTH CARE, from page 1 Two students working on the project, Sadie Stern ’21 and Katherine Sang ’21, both agreed that the app fills a gap in the health care system. “I’ve had family members and very close family friends who have been in and out of hospitals,” Stern said. “And when you’re actually in the hospital, the doctors will tell you a little bit more, but it’s still hard when you get a set of numbers to decipher what that really means.” Powell’s contributions to the evolution of the health care field follow a life of change-driven dynamism ­— she’s a self-identified “disturber,” unwilling to stick to the status quo in her own life as well as in society. As a Truman Scholar, her commitment is to the public good. After a lifetime working in the public transportation and non-profit industries, Powell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 as a single mom with two children. She interpreted the diagnosis and her subsequent recovery as signs to change her life, she said.

» WEST, from page 1 educative experience. He defined the Greek term “paideia” as a “deep education” about “learning how to die.” West explained the notion of “learning how to die” as a form of critical self-examination that is necessary for maturation and growth. The process requires “letting go of certain assumptions and presuppositions, certain dogma and doctrines, that no longer facilitate your quest toward maturity, … your quest toward a more critical view of the world,” he added. People can miss out on paideia when they are too caught up in quotidian chores and, consequently, forget about their life goals, West said. In this vein, he criticizes society’s prioritization of material gain. “Success is one thing, greatness is something else. … Freedom is something else,” he said. He addressed university culture and asked students to think about “what went through you” while navigating campus life, prompting careful thought on their experiences and growth. In doing so, West also highlighted a crucial distinction between intellect and wisdom. “I am highly suspicious of the cult of smartness. Let the phones be smart, we need to be wise. We need to

» PHOTO, from page 1 by what (Leja) said about the way that the … Langenheim Brothers tried to figure touristic experience itself ” through their depictions of Niagara Falls. Katherine Chavez ’19, who is double concentrating in art history and visual art, said she attended the

She went back to school, receiving a degree in nursing in 2009. “I had to go through a whole process of healing and depression — a spiritual transformation if you will — and all of that led me to a calling, which was becoming a nurse,” Powell said. “I saw it more as an altruistic calling, versus I’m going to get a good job, make good money.” Through her career in nursing, her cancer diagnosis and her struggle with diabetes, Powell noticed a disconnect between patients and their understanding of the health care they were receiving. In 2016, Powell pivoted yet again: She stopped nursing in 2016, and by June 2017, she had dedicated herself full-time to VeerSafe, ­an online health education platform that she is continuing to work on as she develops the health numeracy app at the University. Powell brings experience with health education to her new project, but coding and app development are uncharted terrain, she said. That’s where Brown students come in. From content and literacy to math

and coding, at least 15 students are working with Powell on this project. Sang is on the user interface and design team, hammering out details for the app’s layout. “There’s a lot of different factors that we have to visualize in different ways, like for cholesterol or heart rate; when you have high or low it can both be negative, so we’re trying to put that on a scale that makes sense,” Sang said. Powell is the idea woman — ­ the switch-flipper, the one who sees something that needs to change. Powell sees parallels to the issue she’s looking to solve in health care everywhere: overcomplicated systems making knowledge inaccessible to the public, whether it’s on purpose or by accident. From finance to churches, “keeping knowledge from people gives power to other people,” she said. Her goal, then, is to provide that knowledge. “I don’t want people to be victims, because I was a victim,” Powell said. “And so … you empower them. How do you empower them? Through knowledge.”

have compassion,” he said. On the subjects of current affairs and historic injustice, West examined the world from the same lens of compassion. “Truth means the condition of suffering must speak,” he said. He cited issues of colonization, discrimination, slavery and racial violence, among other “catastrophes.” According to West, “catastrophes” are often simplified as “problems,” which is subversive and harmful. “There is no such thing as a race problem in the history of the American empire. There are catastrophes that have been visited on black people and red people. As soon as you reduce the catastrophic to the problematic, you’ve already sanitized the issue,” he said. West asserted the necessity of acknowledging the value of every life that has been harmed. “Where is the delicate, difficult discussion that keeps track of the humanity of each and every one of us?” he asked. Toward the end of the lecture, West said that being a young person now means living within a convergence of nuclear, ecological, economic, political, civic and spiritual catastrophe. “We’re in a bleak moment now, where we will discover who we really are,” he added.

West is currently a professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard and is a significant voice in the discourse regarding race, class, gender, politics and religion in American society. A prolific author and academic, West has written 20 books and edited 13 in his career. Of these, he is most well known for his titles “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters.” The religious studies department also offers a course in West’s name, RELS 0835: “Edward Said and Cornel West,” which explores West’s thought and influence in contemporary discourse. This will be the sixth lecture in the PITH series, which aims to “open up dialogue on political questions across the humanities and the social science,” according to the Cogut Institute website. West’s intersectional approach is in line with what the lecture series as a whole would like to bring to the campus. “He exemplifies what Politics in the Humanities is trying to vivify at Brown: a conscientious and inspiring approach to philosophical and theological sources that can open our eyes to injustice and point us in a better direction or toward better possibilities,” said Bonnie Honig, professor of modern culture and media and political science, in a press release.

event with her thesis in mind. “I really liked how the position of the viewer is strange in a lot of the photos — it’s not a viewpoint that you’d be able to have if you went to the actual location,” Chavez said. “It kind of disrupts traditional understandings of photography as representing a reality, so there’s a little bit of a disconnect there — a disembodied experience.”

» FACULTY, from page 1 research, support for professional travel, availability of nearby parking and time available for scholarly work. Faculty members were most satisfied with the quality of undergraduate students, office space, clerical and administrative staff and teaching responsibilities. Faculty satisfaction with the quality of graduate students ranked 10th on the list. In the next five years, Paxson “would like for it to be in the top five,” she said, adding that although graduate education is important to faculty members, the fraction of faculty who regularly engage in research discussions with graduate students is “not as high as we might expect.” Depending on the department, between 20 to 75 percent of faculty occasionally, rarely or never attend seminars or workshops where faculty and graduate students present their research, according to the survey data. While variation across fields is to be expected, Paxson said that those numbers are too low. Faculty members concluded that the most important change the University could make to allow them to fulfill their “research and teaching duties more effectively” would be to provide professors with more time to conduct research, according to a powerpoint at the meeting. To increase the amount of time faculty members have for scholarly work and engaging with other faculty members and graduate students, Paxson seeks to reduce professors’ administrative burdens and allocate time-consuming jobs, such as accounting work for grant writing, to other people. At the meeting, faculty passed a motion to establish a new Standing Committee called the Faculty Hearing Committee for Allegations of Gender-Based Discrimination. “This is a committee you hope one day you won’t need,” said Professor of English Melinda Rabb, adding that “right now, we do need it … to deal in the best possible way with cases of gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment” and ensure the University has a well-trained faculty hearing panel. Rene Davis, the Title IX program officer, stated that having a large pool of trained faculty members can “expedite the process” of a Title IX case.

“If we don’t have a sufficient number of individuals, it can delay a hearing of a case for one to two months, which is incredible when you think about … the impact that will have for a person who is accused and the person who is bringing forward the complaint.” Faculty members who serve on the new committee will undergo two training sessions that examine case studies to cover policy, procedures and standards. The new committee’s size will also reduce the individual burden on faculty members who choose to serve, Rabb said. Provost Richard Locke P’18 provided general updates on the University’s budget, graduate student unionization and the University’s support of students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Locke announced that current budget projections predict a $1.3 million University surplus this year, which The Herald previously reported. The University’s yield from last year’s undergraduate admission cycle rose 10 percent, which increased overall revenue from new students. Next year, the University expects a $5.4 million deficit, which is relatively small given the overall size of the budget, Locke said. The DACA program was originally supposed to come to an end March 5, Locke said. But the Trump administration will continue to accept DACA renewal applications, the Associated Press reported. “Fortunately, we have checks and balances in power,” Locke said, adding that the University continues to support undocumented students through financial assistance, legal advice and counseling. The atmosphere of the meeting lightened as Rabb and Paxson took the podium together to present five faculty members with service awards. “This is as close as we’ll get to the Oscars,” Rabb said. “No acceptance speech?” a member of the faculty quipped as faculty members arrived at the podium to receive their awards. At the start of the meeting, faculty rose in silence to honor the passing of Sandra Russo-Rodriguez, senior lecturer in the department of chemistry, and José Amor y Vázquez, professor emeritus of Hispanic studies.




Early education program addresses R.I. youth literacy Providence Talks aims to close word gap for children in low-income households By JACK BROOK SENIOR STAFF WRITER

The number of words children hear in their first three years critically impacts their future development, and children from lower-income families will have heard 30 million fewer words than their peers when they start kindergarten, according to a widely cited University of Kansas study. This word gap harms educational growth — in 2013, two thirds of Providence children starting kindergarten fell short of Rhode Island’s literacy tests, according to a report by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Providence Talks, an early intervention program developed through the mayor’s office, hopes to close this gap and allow children to enter school with a solid foundation of vocabulary. Mayor Jorge Elorza has slated an additional $500,000 to go towards the program for the 2018 fiscal year. “It’s the only program of its kind working at scale to address this specific issue and we’re proud to have incubated it in our city,” Elorza said in a statement. Since 2013, Providence Talks has succeeded in helping more than 2,500 children bolster their vocabularies,

according to Executive Director Caitlin Molina. Nearly two-thirds of the children who participated in the program increased their vocabularies and were exposed to 50 percent more words than before they enrolled. “We look at how we can strengthen the language environment of home,” Molina said. “We need to be sensitive to all of the social and emotional factors in the home and how this impacts the child’s language development.” There are many factors that potentially hinder children’s language development, such as whether they are raised in a single-parent household, the education level of their parents or if their parents work, Molina said. A child that qualifies for the program must be under the age of three, born in Providence and with at least one risk factor identified on the Rhode Island Newborn Screening, Molina said. Providence Talks relies on an innovative “talk pedometer” created by the educational technology company LENA, which tracks the number of words and back-and-forth conversational interactions that a child experiences over the course of a day, Molina said. Coaches then analyze a child’s word count to provide complementary guidance strategies for parents and caregivers to enhance their engagement and vocabulary building exercises within the home.

Strategies for improving a child’s word exposure include modeling choices during meal time (“Do you want ketchup or mustard?”) and asking open-ended inquiries rather than yes or no questions, Molina said. The pedometer also filters out words from other forms of media, such as television. The context in which children hear these words matters because when children hear words on TV “they are not necessarily processing it,” said Khadija Lewis Khan, executive director of Beautiful Beginnings, a childcare program serving mostly working class families. The center was the first to have its educators trained by Providence Talks and saw its educators increase their daily word count by over 7,000, according to Lewis Khan. In addition to weekly meetings with eligible parents, Providence Talks has trained over 250 early childhood educators, according to Leslie Gell, director of Ready to Learn Providence, a program at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies. “We know that educators are learning and implementing strategies that support language and literacy development, a critical component of kindergarten readiness and school success,” Gell said in a statement. “They are also sustaining the practices, indicating that the beneficiaries are not only their current children


Mayor Jorge Elorza will allocate an additional $500,000 in fiscal year 2018 to Providence Talks, which aims to improve children’s vocabulary. but children they will care for in the future.” The Providence Talks program is not just for English language learners, Molina said. All trainers speak Spanish as well, and the strategies employed by Providence Talks can work with any language. The key is to strengthen the vocabulary learning environment of the child’s native language, whatever it may be, she added. “It’s very important for ESL learners to have a good foundation in their

own language in order to acquire the English language well,” Lewis Khan said. While it’s clear Providence Talks is making a difference in the lives of many of its participants, Molina hopes to understand which families are benefiting the most from the program, she said. Providence Talks is currently partnering with researcher Kenneth Wong, professor of education policy, on an independent evaluation of the program’s impact.

NEASC OPEN FORUMS: PLEASE ATTEND!! Every 10 years, Brown undergoes a process of reaccreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), one of six geographically based non-governmental, non-profit organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of educational institutions and programs. Brown’s next accreditation review is occurring this month, March 11 to 14, 2018. The review is led by a visiting team, which is interested in hearing from students, faculty and staff as part of its process. The following are the dates, times and locations of the forums. Please visit the following website to review the University’s self-study document and to learn more about the process and opportunities for public comment.



Monday, March 12, 2018 4 to 4:50 p.m. Salomon Center, Room 001

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4 to 5 p.m. 85 Waterman Street, 1st Floor Carmichael Auditorium

STAFF Forum Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3 to 3:50 p.m. South Street Landing, 4th Floor, #498





the calm before the storm


Pizza: Spicy Sausage and Garlic, Mushroom’s Revenge, Miss Maple Po’ Boys JOSIAH’S


Nacho Bar, Quesadilla Station, The Jo’s Burger

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup, Build Your Own Burrito Bowl



Roasted Broccoli, Gardein Fishless Filet Sandwich, Cream Cheese Brownies

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Lemon Sauce, Chocolate Brazilian Cake, Veggie Pizza



Broccoli Quiche, Cajun Pasta with Chicken, Chili and Cheese Soup

General Tso Vegetable Stir Fry, Elbow Pasta, Cheesy Polenta, Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic



Students enjoyed a sunny day Tuesday before a second round of rain and snow hit the Northeast today. Less than a month away from the beginning of spring, students are beginning to look forward to warmer weather.


“I don’t want people to be victims, because I was a victim … and so … you empower them. How do you empower them? Through knowledge.

— Roberta Powell, Swearer Center community practitioner in residence

See health care on page 1. crossword

calendar TODAY MARCH

















10 9

10 11

Talk: Bolei Zhou 12:00 P.M. CIT, 306

LingLangLunch Lite 1:00 P.M. Metcalf Research Building, 305

Friedman Family Fund Lecture 4:00 P.M. Metcalf Research Building, 101

Talk by F. Nick Nesbit 6:00 P.M. Rochambeau House


11 12

12 13

13 14

14 15

15 16

16 17

17 18

18 19

19 20

20 21

21 22

22 23

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24 25

25 26

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Project Weber/Renew Lunch Conversation 12:00 P.M. Petteruti Lounge

Talk: Luis Coelho 4:00 P.M. CIT, 241

Athletes in Action Prime Time Gathering 8:00 P.M. Pembroke Field House

Black in Business Mixer 8:00 P.M. J. Walter Wilson, 503





Beware insults to students’ judgment

Prospect Medical Holdings improves quality

To the Editor: Harry August ’19 and Julia Rock ’19 (“Beware the PTP,” March 5) wish to “warn students that (the Political Theory Project) is not a center for ‘thriving intellectual discourse,’” referring to a previous op-ed by Daniel Shemano ’19. Were August and Rock so concerned with intellectual discourse, they should have done their research. The authors correctly note that several professors affiliated with the PTP have degrees from George Mason University. They neglect recent postdoctoral fellows and visiting faculty at the PTP with degrees from Tulane University, Georgetown University, the University of Alabama, the University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Maastricht University, King’s College London and the Technical University of Munich. August and Rock assert that PTP faculty have received sham awards either bestowed by their own graduate program or by Koch-affiliated organizations. As the authors should know, internal department awards for graduate students are common practice. And as the authors could have easily discovered, the editors of the journal Public Choice award the Gordon Tullock Prize, which the journal’s publisher, Springer, funds. August and Rock claim PTP faculty repeatedly publish in “Koch and GMU-affiliated journals.” They neglect publications in journals such as Public Choice, American Journal of Economics

To the Editor:

and Sociology, American Political Science Review, Rationality and Society and Journal of Institutional Economics. One GMU alum recently hired by the PTP received the prestigious William H. Riker Award for Best Book in Political Economy from the American Political Science Association. Faculty affiliated with the PTP in recent years have written on the history of “labor republicanism” in the United States, defended meritocracy and free time as requirements of social justice, argued for the intelligence of democratic institutions, criticized libertarian theories of personal responsibility and analyzed how prison gangs govern the American penal system. If the authors ever took a seminar through the PTP, their professor would expect them to grapple with JeanJacques Rousseau, Karl Marx and John Rawls as well as Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. In the final analysis, the authors take a dim view of Brown students. Perhaps their dim view explains their style of cheap shots and lazy argumentation. They do not think their peers have the capacity or judgment to weigh the arguments and make up their own minds. They should have more confidence in their fellows. Nick Geiser GS Nick Geiser GS has received compensation from the PTP for conference travel and as a teaching assistant.

After reading the United Nurses and Allied Professionals union’s selfserving op-ed “Paxson’s Promotion of Prospect Medical Holdings Risks Poor Health Care for University” last week, as a Brown alum and Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. executive, I am compelled to provide a number of missing facts and context that more accurately tell the story of Prospect’s commitment to quality, compassionate and efficient care to everyone in the communities we serve. Much of the information presented in the union’s op-ed reflects considerable bias, misrepresents information and intentionally omits essential facts about Prospect. Hospitals are among the most rigorously regulated businesses in the world. We have to comply with thousands of local, state and federal requirements. In order to meet these exacting standards, we constantly test ourselves and review our practices, often bringing in outside experts to help us identify opportunities for improvement. Such was the case last year when we hired an outside professional as part of our intense quality-assurance program at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. The consultant identified a potential issue with surgical equipment and issued a warning. The problem was corrected immediately. None of the equipment we inspected was ever used in an actual surgery, and no patient was ever at risk. In October 2017, the state of Rhode Island

found that Our Lady of Fatima Hospital was in compliance with its standards. In seeking to improve health care quality and efficiency, the federal government continually sets higher and higher standards for health care providers. We welcome this challenge. It’s important to note that the difference between hospitals that receive incentives from the federal government and those that don’t can be a thousandth of a point. Our Rhode Island hospitals were among the 700 nationwide to be penalized for missing certain measurements as assessed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program. The survey used two-year-old data and calculations and did not reflect the significant improvements our Rhode Island facilities have made since they were acquired by Prospect. Prospect is proud of our history of providing quality, efficient care in even the most underserved communities. We have turned around financially distressed hospitals in California. This process often requires making serious improvements to struggling quality performance as well. Surveys conducted during the turnaround process will reflect that work in progress. We have raised and are sustaining the financial, operational and quality performance of all of these facilities. One of our success stories is our acquisition of Pennsylvania’s CrozerKeystone Health System in July 2016. Prospect has pledged to contribute more than $100 million to benefit the system.

Prospect is proud that the millions of dollars in taxes that the Crozer-Keystone hospitals now pay help support local communities and schools, while the system continues to provide charity care and health programs for the community. We are equally proud of our story in Rhode Island: Prospect’s 2014 joint venture with CharterCARE Health Partners supports 3,000 good paying Rhode Island health care jobs. Prospect will have invested, by the end of this year, $90 million in capital improvements to Roger Williams Medical Center and Fatima. Extensive facility renovations, creation of new clinical programs and acquisition of new medical technology have been made possible. Since the onset of the joint venture, Fatima and Roger Williams have earned dozens of national quality recognitions from some of the toughest objective monitors of health care quality in America. Both hospitals recently received three-year reaccreditations from the Joint Commission, the industry’s goldstandard monitoring agency that the federal government relies on to certify quality. Prospect is proud of the quality care our employees — many of whom are UNAP members — provide with compassion and efficiency to all of the communities we serve. James Bennett ’79 Executive Vice President, Prospect Medical Holdings

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States’ rights, revised for liberals DEREK SIMSHAUSER staff columnist In the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, gun control has once again been pushed to the forefront of public discourse. While there was considerable public outrage in the days immediately following the massacre, one could not be blamed for taking a cynical outlook on the status of gun control in this country. If we failed to catalyze lasting momentum for gun reform after Sandy Hook, Las Vegas or countless other mass shootings, why would this prove any different? However, persistent activism, especially from students who survived the harrowing experience, has subverted this cynical view. By continuously​ holding protests​, ​speaking on national television​ and publishing op-eds, they have ensured the cultural resonance of this debate — a seemingly impossible task in the Trump era. Even the president, speaking on live television last Wednesday, urged Congress to resurrect gun reform legislation from the Obama era. Naturally, this elicited considerable opposition from GOP lawmakers, and given President Trump’s erraticism (he also promised a DACA deal), significant gun reform from either house of Congress in the GOP-controlled legislative branch seems unlikely. Instead, it has been in state legislatures where the most ambitious gun reform bills have been proposed and where immediate action has been taken. This recent swell in state-level gun control legislation reflects the importance of local political action given the context of federal inaction. Rhode Island has been especially active in enacting gun control following the Parkland shooting. On Feb. 22, the state joined a coalition with New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut; these states have pledged to share reg-

istries of individuals prohibited from owning firearms within their borders. The coalition also plans to share data regarding the sale of firearms and gun trafficking within the Northeast corridor in hopes of lowering the number of weapons left circulating in an illicit secondary market. And while these five states are historically Democratic strongholds, the inclusion of Massachusetts, and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, ensures the coalition was not formed solely along party lines. Moreover, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has wielded executive power to pass imme-

Miller (D-Cranston) and Rep. Jason Knight (DBarrington) to ban assault rifles within the state. Miller did not mince words when asked about the importance of his legislation: “Assault weapons are meant to kill and maim as many people as possible, as quickly as possible — they are weapons for mass shooters, not recreational hunters.” Miller’s rhetoric may appear severe, but it remains accurate. Assault rifles — specifically AR15s — have been involved in ​practically every recent mass shooting​; the grim list includes Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and Parkland. Miller and Knight’s proposed assault rifle ban

While liberal policies have little hope of being implemented at the federal level for the foreseeable future, state legislatures controlled by Democrats can enact policies that oppose the regressive measures proposed by the national government.

diate measures to curb gun violence; she signed an executive order Feb. 26, modeled after existing “red-flag” laws, which empower judges to seize guns from individuals who show warning signs of violence. While this law alone would have tangible benefits — a 2016 Duke University study found that red-flag laws in Connecticut r​ educed statewide suicides​— Raimondo hopes that her executive order will presage more sweeping and durable gun reform laws. “The executive order is an immediate step we can take,” Raimondo said last Monday. “It sets the table for a complementary legislative effort.” The “complementary legislative effort” Raimondo spoke of is less abstract than it seems; there is already a proposed bill from Sen. Joshua

intersects with two significant aspects of the gun control debate. Firstly, it shows the changing attitudes towards military-grade rifles, the weapons of choice for mass shooters. Outlawing assault rifles would not be the salve that liberals dream of, and would almost certainly lead to increased sales of non-assault semi-automatic rifles, which can possess nearly identical lethality. But only debating the functional effects of this ban is myopic — the fact that state legislators feel compelled to act swiftly on gun control reflects the shifting public consensus on the subject. Additionally, the proposed ban exemplifies the power of state legislatures to pass laws that oppose the espoused policy of the presidential administration. It is reminiscent of California

Gov. Jerry Brown’s actions to combat climate change; in July 2017, Brown extended California’s cap-and-trade program, a thorough repudiation of Trump’s attitude toward global warming (just a month earlier, Trump had withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Accord). The leader of California’s state senate, Kevin de Leon, said in December 2016 that, “California will not deviate from our leadership because of one election.” De Leon’s rhetoric was echoed last week by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when he outlined the importance of joining the aforementioned gun registry coalition: “This is a federal government that’s gone backwards on this issue … Trump has pledged allegiance to the (National Rifle Association) and he’s delivered for them.” While liberal policies have little hope of being implemented at the federal level for the foreseeable future, state legislatures controlled by Democrats can enact policies that oppose the regressive measures proposed by the national government. Indeed, California’s actions toward climate change were echoed in liberal actions toward gun reform in the Northeast; it proves that inaction at the federal level does not preclude states from pursuing their own progressive policies. The actions taken in these states reflect the importance of Democratic campaign success beyond the national races; looking ahead to the 2018 midterms, Democratic activism should not be limited to Senate seats when gubernatorial races and state legislatures exist as possible bastions for the progressive agenda. If Democrats are serious about enacting gun reform, activism at the state level may be a more practical route — Rhode Island can act as an instructive example for other states.

Derek Simshauser ’20 can be reached at Please send responses to this opinion to and opeds to




Opportunity in America: Improving Intergenerational Mobility with Big Data Featuring

John N. Friedman

Associate Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5 p.m. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs Joukowsky Forum 111 Thayer Street Providence, Rhode Island


Campus Dialogue and Discourse Sponsored by the Office of the President and Office of the Provost To request special services, accommodations or assistance for this event, please contact the University Event and Conference Services Office at

Wednesday, March 7, 2018  
Wednesday, March 7, 2018  

The March 7, 2018 issue of The Brown Daily Herald