Issuu on Google+

N T O E M R A C L

rockin’ the boat

t h e

?

march 10 | vol VII iss 3

e c i t s

ju

pages 4-5

in(side) the port(side): campus, national, international news JUSTICE O’CONNOR How Sandra Day left her mark on history and on my heart

3

2010 WORLD CUP For some teams, war on the field may mean peace at home volumeVII issue3

|

8

PYROMANIACS An investigation into why Mudders like to burn shit

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

16 page 1


Barack Obama swag is so last season. I gave my collection of campaign t-shirts (seven in all, including a super-hip Urban Outfitters Shepard Fairey “HOPE” poster screenprint) a late funeral; they now lie buried in my bottom dresser drawer at home. Of course, I still like him… I’m just not in love with him anymore. Gone are the days when I would paint the campaign logo on my back windshield, referring to my car as the “Obamobile”; clip out Newsweek photos for a collage in homage to the future POTUS and FLOTUS, later dubbed the “Barack Wall”; and pretend I was an “O-baller” while practicing three-pointers to a mix CD of his regular campaign music. I was so cool, and so were the portmanteaus. But then I moved on. Sorry, Mr. President – in the world of political fashion, I wear my issues on my sleeve (literally), and you’ve been a bit boring in the accessories department lately. All good causes need good branding, and in good branding, the visual is key. That’s why I walk around with my “EQUALITY =” ring supporting the National Marriage Boycott ($10 at the Queer Resource Center) and my orange armband for Workers for Justice (free in Pomona’s Walker Lounge). I also purchased my $10 plus shipping Boxer for Senate boxer shorts, because they are too funny to pass up. To my dismay, WhiteHouse.gov has no merchandise tab. I want a t-shirt depicting the public option as a zombie, with a catchy slogan like “Back From the Dead?” I want a rainbow camouflage tote bag that reads “ASK & TELL” in big, bold letters. And I don’t want to buy them on CafePress. I want

PORT SIDE

the CLAREMONT march 10 | vol VII iss 3

editor’s note

The Politics of Political Fashion

page 2

|

m a r c h 10

|

my money to go to something real, not to a bored, geeky politico with some mediocre design skills and a willingness to let some corporate website steal commission. So instead of raising taxes, let’s raise sales. Why is governing so artistically bland? Why does campaigning get all the fun? There’s a huge market for political swag – 300million people, in fact. Babies might prove effective walking (crawling?) advertisements; GOP Congressmen should sell “Thank Jesus mommy didn’t abort me” bibs, or swimming floaties that say, “Look at my guns.” Let’s get John Boehner to sign onto “Tea Party” tea party playsets for toddlers with “I don’t want a government takeover of Medicare” printed on the saucers and “My momma hates Obama” on the sugar bowl. Indoctrinate the youth and make profit? That’s like killing two liberals with one stone. Obviously, this is satire. After all, I am a Claremont McKenna student – the Claremont Independent, Claremont College Republicans, and half the government department would lynch me (or worse, pond me) if I were serious. But both parties in Congress, and definitely the administration, could use some better messaging strategies, and issue-based political fashion could work. And if they need a graphic artist, I know an Editor-in-Chief who would lend her services (pro-bono, of course), because Shepard Fairey is so last season.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Michelle Lynn Kahn PUBLISHER Alyssa Roberts EDITOR EMERITUS MANAGING EDITORS Andrew Bluebond CAMPUS Mark Munro WEB EDITOR NATIONAL Jeremy B. Merrill Jonathan O. Hirsch INTERNATIONAL Veronica Pugin COPY EDITORS Kayla Benker, Russell M. Page, Nicholas Rowe, Jacinth Sohi ILLUSTRATORS Ashley Scott, Laura Bottorff The Claremont Port Side is dedicated to providing the Claremont Colleges with contextualized, intelligent reports to advance debate among students and citizens. This is a progressive newsmagazine that offers pertinent information and thoughtful analysis on the issues confronting and challenging our world, our country, and our community. Each article in the Claremont Port Side reflects the opinion of its author(s) and does not represent the Claremont Port Side, its editors, its staff, or the Claremont Colleges. Letters, Questions, Comments? editor@claremontportside.com

claremontportside.com

|

volumeVII issue3

www.claremontportside.com/blog


Awaiting O’Connor

How the Justice left her mark on history and on my heart

As a staff member at the Queer Resource Center at the time, I had the privilege of meeting Feldblum before her talk that evening. I asked her about Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that many legal scholars consider “the most important gay civil rights case yet decided by the United States Supreme Court,” and about Justice O’Connor’s role in particular. Feldblum mentioned that although the law was rarely enforced, it was used as a means to discriminate against homosexuals in areas such as employment. Although O’Connor voted with the majority in Lawrence, her ruling is notable because she filed a separate concurrence asserting that the legality of state bans on sodomy depends on whether the bans are applied uniformly in

O’Connor has left mark on U.S. jurisprudence to Pomona, her upcoming talk will be a logical development to my intellectual journey, as I hope it will be for others. Legal scholar Kenji Yoshino visited the college next. Undoubtedly influenced by the passage of Prop 8 last November, Pomona invited freshmen to read and discuss Yoshino’s Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. After teaching at Yale Law School for ten years, Yoshino currently serves as the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at the NYU School of Law, where he specializes in constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, and the connection between law and literature. In conjunction with the selection of his book, Yoshino spoke at Big Bridges on August 30, two days before the fall semester officially began.

I again had the opportunity to interact with Yoshino at a reception at the QRC following his talk. Though I found his proposed theory captivating given my studies in Spanish literature, I decided instead to ask about how he surmised history would remember O’Connor, either praising her judicial restraint or resenting her problematic rulings on important civil rights issues of our time. He answered that he considered her an excellent justice because she really understood during her tenure the importance and proper role of the judiciary within a democracy; historians, however, would probably have a hard time getting excited about a judge that in most cases did not deem the courts a proper venue for the instant societal rectification that civil rights advocates seek.

Covering offers a hybrid between a heartfelt memoir and a critical history of U.S. jurisprudence. In his fascinating book, Yoshino puts forth a simple yet elegant theoretical framework by which to assess the demands that society makes of individuals – and that individuals make of themselves – with regards to stigmatized traits and behaviors. Individuals, with special attention given to LGBTQ people and racial minorities in the book, must mediate between three different demands from the self and/or society: “conversion,” “passing,” and “covering.” The first

Now retired, O’Connor spends her time speaking about the importance of a sovereign judicial branch in a democratic system of governance. In her view, the biggest threat to democracy as we know it is the practice of electing judges, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling granting corporations a bigger voice in our system. For better or worse, O’Connor has left an indelible mark on U.S. jurisprudence and, thanks to Pomona, her upcoming talk will be a logical development to my intellectual journey, as I hope it will be for others.

volumeVII issue3

|

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

page 3

international

Chai R. Feldblum, who visited the college amidst the Prop 8 debacle, spoke first. Feldblum, sister of Pomona Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum, teaches at the Georgetown University Law Center. A champion for disabled and LGBTQ people, she has worked most notably on drafting and negotiating both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and this Congress’s Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In September, President Barack Obama announced Feldblum’s nomination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; her Senate confirmation, however, remains pending.

two terms are self-explanatory; the third derives from sociologist Erving Gordon’s book Stigma. “Covering,” then, refers to people “who are ready to admit possession of a stigma” but still go to great lengths to downplay the element, to keep it “from looming large” within a person’s identity. To use Yoshino’s apt example, the world says to the gay person: “Be gay... an indelible Be openly gay, if you want. and, thanks But don’t flaunt.”

national

Pomona College officially announced that Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice appointed and confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, will deliver the 2010 Distinguished Speaker Series Lecture on Tuesday, March 30. I anxiously await the opportunity to hear what she has to say, after having had the occasion to discuss her historical significance – not merely as the first woman to serve but as a dedicated lifelong jurist – with two renowned legal scholars that also spoke at Pomona.

both theory (written form of the law) and practice; the state cannot, in this regard, discriminate against same-sex couples. O’Connor, unlike the dissenters in the case, strongly believes in the equality of individuals under the Fourteenth Amendment.

campus

By David A. Martinez Co n tributing Wr tier, C MC ‘ 1 1


Working for Workers

In unionization, students assume primary role – for better or worse By Michelle Lynn Kahn Edit or - in - C hief , C MC ‘ 12

Unionization Timeline: Not even a month has passed, but much has occurred

campus

national

international

To many, the unionization process seems boring, like a real-life repeat of Norma Rae, sans Southern accents and Sally Field in booty shorts. But the latest political controversy at Pomona College has defied convention, pitting dining hall workers and their staunch student advocates against President David Oxtoby, a vilified personification of corporate America, and his administrative colleagues. Less than a month after Oxtoby first heard of the unionization attempt, the battle has already rattled the more activist Claremont Colleges. The situation is akin to Mortal Kombat, but with forks and knives instead of guns and swords.

page 4

|

SCENES FROM THE MARCH 6 RALLY — (top left) Benny Avina says food service workers “are the most abandoned.” (bottom right) Don Towns explains that Pomona students are “like my children.”

To contextualize, last summer’s Employee Free Choice Act provides a useful lens for examining the situation at Pomona. Concealed amid pundits’ commentary on health care and cap-and-trade, the bill would change existing National Labor Relations Board procedure to force employers to recognize card-check bargaining in addition to secret ballot elections. Because the distinction is subtle, most have trouble grasping the differences between the methods: under current law, 30% of employees must sign cards to petition the NLRB to order a secret ballot election; under EFCA, a majority of signed cards would bypass the NLRB and automatically form a union. Facing immense opposition, the pro-union bill stalled in both houses. Despite the issue’s complexity, the food service workers’ position is easy to describe in child’s terms: it is a “backand-forth see-saw” or “merry-go-round” of attempting and failing to achieve change. That’s how Don Towns summarizes it. Towns, a middle-aged food service employee at Pomona, has an amiable and magnetizing personality that exudes jolliness. (Donning an “I heart America” sweatshirt, he proceeded to give this reporter

a high-five and hug at the end of their interview.) Yet when he spoke at the March 6 rally outside Pomona’s Bridge’s Auditorium, his tone – sincere, somber, and imploring – was anything but jolly. For Towns and the vast majority of his food service coworkers, these past weeks marked the beginning of the public face of a long-term, uphill battle that they have been whipping up for six months. Though Oxtoby first heard of the unionization push on February 28, Workers for Justice identifies a much longer timeline. According to the student organization, a committee of food service employees has been meeting weekly since October to discuss complaints and the prospect of an independent union. Towns confirmed, describing meetings divided along a language barrier – 75% of the workers, he estimates, are Latino. After separate English and Spanish meetings, the groups would “come together to share ideas.” While they initially invited two students to these meetings, workers maintain daily contact with student activists now. On this point, the unionization push at Pomona differs

2/28

3/1

3/3

3/6

3/8

Pomona College President David Oxtoby first hears of unionization efforts.

Oxtoby receives petition for card-check signed by 90% of workers. They call secret ballot “not free and fair.”

In letter to dining hall staff, Oxtoby advocates for “fair, secret ballot election.”

Workers for Justice holds rally at Marston Quadrangle. (For photos and video, see www.claremontportside.com.)

Bob Robinson and Margie McKenna (from administration) hold meetings with workers.

m a r c h 10

|

claremontportside.com

|

volumeVII issue3

Workers later cite intimidation. Robinson says college “will not tolerate intimidation of any kind.” He and McKenna wanted to “counter misinformation.”


Workers for Justice has divided student volunteers into several key committees: media, which includes both photos and videos and interfacing with members of the press; student organizing, responsible for gathering signatures from Pomona

3/11

3/12

ASPC passes pro-unionization Senate Resolution; takes no clear stand on either cardcheck or secret ballot

Oxtoby gets serious and e-mails Pomona community. College website now devotes entire section to the issue.

The food service workers, however, have proven much more vocal and substantive in their accusations of the administration’s

Indeed, the unionization debate has pitted Workers for Justice against Oxtoby, relegating the workers themselves to a secondary role, necessary only as mouthpieces and personifications of a battle being fought in emails, editorials, and blog posts – far from the confines of the dining halls in which they toil for hours a day. While Workers for Justice has made immense strides toward their goals, in the long-term they should consider de-villifying Oxtoby and looking to compromise. Meanwhile, some workers, like Juan Gonzalez, have other options. “I’ve worked in the fields before,” he says, “but I want to work at Pomona.”

international

Still, Workers for Justice argues for the validity of the signatures they collected. “The student role is not a guidance role,” Gordon says. “It is more of a facilitation role, and to overstep that role is a really inappropriate thing.” As a faciliator, Workers for Justice has proven an invaluable resource for food service employees. Absent the time, technical skills, or political training to launch and maintain an effective media campaign, the workers have come to depend on Pomona students activists’ fervor and support for the cause.

Yet in an issue as divisive as unionization, where both sides cite the other’s intimidation as a key impediment to employees’ judgment, student activists must tread carefully. While Workers for Justice seeks to pressure Oxtoby from all sides, its central role has given the administration considerable ammunition. Oxtoby’s opposition to the card-check process lies in its susceptibility to worker and student intimidation. “In a small operation like Pomona College,” he argues, “where the staff know each other and know the students very well, it is hard to say ‘no’ to a request to sign a petition or a card.” So, even though Gordon says “workers are organizing workers, and students are organizing students,” administrative skepticism persists.

intimidation attempts. A March 15 letter to Oxtoby accused Bob Robinson and Margie McKenna from the administration of holding “meetings with no prior notice… with the intention of dissuading us from forming a union.” Robinson responded to the allegations, telling the Port Side, “We felt it necessary to affirm our workers’ rights to non-intimidation.” Interestingly, Workers for Justice knew about these “impromptu” meetings and even discussed them at a March 7 meeting, the day before they occurred; a worker had notified them. Even stranger, though, is the decision to sign the workers’ March 15 letter “sincerely, Workers for Justice,” as if the student organization had drafted and sent it. Given these scenarios, what once seemed a calculated administrative scheme to undercut the unionization effort on the basis of student intimidation and overexertion now makes some sense.

Unionization Methods: The Who and the What...

David Oxtoby, President of Pomona College

Workers for Justice

“Pomona College is not blocking any unionization effort... The question remains whether a union is necessary.”

volumeVII issue3

SECRET BALLOT

CARD-CHECK

aProtected by NLRB law aFair and free a“Let[s] staff express their views independent of any public pressure to vote in a certain way”

r“Restricts free speech” r“The person who collects the cards from the workers knows who has and has not signed a card”

r“Good way to make sure a vote never really happens” rTakes two to five years r“Favors employers” rOften happens in workplace rAnti-union propaganda

a“Allows process to happen in a timely way” a“Protects workers from employer intimidation” aWorkers decide outside the workplace

3/15

3/24

Several workers hand-deliver letter to Oxtoby, complaining of intimidation by Robinson and McKenna in impromptu meetings.

Workers for Justice holds a “vigil for labor peace” outside Pomona’s Frary dining hall

|

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

... |

page 5

national

Gordon and his fellow activists have made impressive accomplishments in a short time. Most critically, they accompanied workers and some faculty into Oxtoby’s office and presented a petition, signed by 90% of the food service employees, demanding “cardcheck neutrality.” Oxtoby was skeptical. “The staff were never presented with a choice between a secret ballot vote and a card check process,” he told the Port Side, “so I question the statement that 90% of the workers prefer the latter.” The overwhelming presence of Workers for Justice makes the true intentions of the workers nebulous. Oxtoby asserts that a large group of students and a small number of faculty “may well have initiated the unionization effort.”

students and inputting information into databases; fundraising, which targets campus organizations and alumni to subsidize printing and material costs; visibility, charged with “painting the 5Cs orange” with posters, banners, armbands, and buttons; and web maintenance. On all counts, Workers for Justice has seen success. By spring break, they had collected the signatures of 40% of Pomona students and had landed favorable articles in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Los Angeles Independent Media Center, and Huffington Post. Gordon affirms, “We’ve done a lot with a little so far.”

campus

entirely from the typical iteration – whereas union representatives tend to initiate and organize the push, student activists have assumed an integral role. Workers for Justice, created just days before the issue went public, has made unionizing food service workers via “card-check neutrality” its mission. Pomona junior Sam Gordon, who heads up the organization’s media apparatus, explained his commitment to the cause. “These are the people who cook three meals a day for me,” he says. “It’s such a luxury we are taking for granted… They are asking for something from us now.”


Modern Colleges and the Web A look at the brand new Pomona.edu By Nicholas Rowe Copy Editor, C MC ‘ 1 3

campus

national

international

Pomona College launched a completely revamped version of its website on February 22.

highly interactive. On the homepage, the user is greeted by five interactive window panes, each with an emphasis on informing prospective students about the college. One pane links to Pomona College Magazine, another touts rankings, and two have links to videos and blogs chronicling the accomplishments of Pomona faculty and students. A last pane with an interactive map of

The redesign was no easy task. The website had not been redesigned in eight years, almost an eternity in the world of constantly evolving Internet content and design trends. “It simply wasn’t up to today’s standards,” says Whitney Hengesbach, Pomona’s Administrative Web Manager. “We really wanted for ideas, to redevelop its appearance and tive; each Pomona’s outward appearance.”

While the individual colleges draw off each other the process is not competihas its own priorities and interests to reflect in a website.

Such an undertaking required dedication and resources. The website had accumulated over 7,000 pages pertaining to the administration alone, and including associated files, the site had approximately 19,000 individual assets. Part of the redesign process required individually examining each of these assets, determining whether they were essential or not, and then integrating them into the redesign. For a number of years, the web maintenance team consisted of two staff members, too few to initiate a redesign. Hengesbach notes, “The fact that we’re doing this is because we’ve added a new person.”

The completely redone site took approximately a year to finish. According to Hengesbach, “It takes into account what we’ve learned from the previous site. The prospective student is a primary user, and we’ve taken that into account, especially on the home page.” The Office of Communications, in charge of the site, consulted Pomona’s Admissions Office to become more involved with and knowledgeable about the college and the students it hopes to attract. As a result, both the admissions page and the website in general are page 6

|

m a r c h 10

|

the college hypes up Pomona’s ideal location in Southern California – arrows point to Los Angeles, the mountains, beaches, and deserts, and the current temperature and weather forecast display clearly below. In an effort to incorporate social media, links lead prospective students to Pomona’s Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube accounts. Pomona is not unique in redesigning its website to appeal to prospective students. “A website is the first impression of a college,” says Richard Rodner, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications at Claremont McKenna. “As you’re narrowing your search, you want to find out all about the school, about the faculty, about the students, about what student life is like. Websites are the first line of data information that people go to in the information age.” CMC, unlike Pomona, did not completely redesign its website from the ground up. Instead, it added more interactivity and retouched some pieces of the site on the existing platform

claremontportside.com

|

volumeVII issue3

about a year ago. “We’re not yet up to par,” says Rodner, “but we’re getting there. When I came here, we went from mediocre to vast improvement, and now we need to go to ‘wow.’” Like Pomona, CMC added window panes linking to profiles of faculty and students as well as a virtual tour of the campus. “Feedback has been positive, but there are some gaps in our website,” Rodner admits. According to EDU Checkup, which rated cmc.edu a C-, the site still lacks in content management and general appearance. For comparison, Pomona’s pre-redesign site received an F-. Despite the need for more effective websites to attract top students in the future, college websites must take into account unique considerations. “It’s not like a consumer website,” Rodner remarks. “One of the main purposes of a good college website is to attract the students we want to attract, but that’s not everything.” The website must speak not only to prospective students but also to current students, faculty, and alumni. Rodner identifies “a public part and a part that’s more internal to students and faculty.” Any good college website, therefore, must effectively balance these interests. While Pomona has worked hard towards launching its redesigned site, CMC is currently in the process of taking suggestions from both focus groups and a branding firm brought in two to three years ago. While the individual colleges draw off each other for ideas, the process is not competitive; each has its own priorities and interests to reflect in a website. “Here at the Claremont Colleges,” Hengesbach says, we benefit from a fairly familylike atmosphere. I think our redesign can motivate one of the other colleges to think, ‘Wow! What’s going on here?’”


Know Your Right-Wing Powerhouse

“The Family” is officially a church group and thus has tax-exempt status. In addition to links to such GOP luminaries as former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign, politicians of both parties have involved themselves with the Family. Doug Coe, the group’s leader, is most prominently known in Washington for his annual prayer breakfasts. Coe began as a disciple of the Family’s original founder, a Norwegian immigrant named Abraham Vereide, who claimed god spoke to him in a vision during the Great Depression. What began as support for economic and social elites quickly took on a more sinister element; the group’s foundations include anti-unionism and support for domestic fascist groups in the years preceeding World War II. Democracy, according to Vereide, is essentially incompatible with the teachings of Christ and the future of America. Today,

While Coe acknowledges that these dictators committed unspeakably evil acts, he argues that they understood the use of power, “cult of personality,” and absolute strength. Coupled with the group’s support for powerful Senators and Titans of Industry, these values echoe the Family’s core message: strength is everything. That a group that openly professes its love for totalitarianism has earned the support of prominent Republican lawmakers is disturbing enough. Yet the Family also prides itself on its behind-the-scenes power and has had a tangible effect on national and international policy. Perhaps their most prominent achievement is a violently anti-homosexual bill introduced in the Ugandan parliament last October. The bill would legalize execution of “repeat offenders” of homosexuality and currently mandates prison terms for foreigners who “promote” tolerance of homosexuality. David Bahati, the main emissary of the Family in Ugandan politics, introduced the bill. volumeVII issue3

|

The Family’s connection to this bill extends beyond one politician – in fact, all the major anti-homosexual figures in Uganda have connections to the Family. Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo, instrumental in the most recent Family prayer breakfast in Uganda, has served as the bill’s chief supporter in the executive branch. Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, connected to the Family since the 1980s, has also indicated his support. In line with the group’s stated support for undemocratic strongmen, the Family pegged Museveni as a “key man in Africa” back in 1986. After pushing Museveni towards right-wing social causes supported by Coe, the Family used its Washington connections to bring U.S. aid to the regime. James Inhofe has proven one of Uganda’s greatest champions in the Senate and has publicly stated that he travels to Uganda on tax-payer funded trips to promote Coe’s interpretations of the teachings of Christ. Many American Evangelicals and lawmakers have expressed dismay at the law in Uganda, but they surely hold partial responsibility. It should come as no shock that conservative rhetoric emphasizing “gay agendas” and conspiracies to “convert” children to homosexuality could lead to draconian anti-human rights legislation like the bill in Africa. Despite living in the Family’s house, Representative Stupak has publicly denied knowledge of their extreme opinions and actions – but how long can we forgive such dangerous ignorance and inflammatory rhetoric from our lawmakers?

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

page 7

national

What do disgraced politicians Mark Sanford and John Ensign have in common with Bart Stupak, our favorite health care limiting Michigan congressman? Answer: They’ve all lived together in a house on Washington, D.C.’s C Street, which is basically a cesspool of Evangelical hypocrisy. Never mind that Stupak has touted his Catholicism and used his deep faith in the Holy Trinity to justify obstructing legislation that would give 32 million Americans access to medical care. In truth, Stupak – like many other politicians in America – has close ties to a radical Evangelical group that has professed its admiration of Adolf Hitler and is spearheading violent, anti-gay legislation in Africa.

Coe continues to preach this philosophy. He insists that the 20th century political figures who most embodied Jesus were not Christians like Martin Luther King Jr. – or even Billy Graham – but were dictators like Pol Pot, Hitler, and Mao Zedong. Like Jesus, these individuals demanded absolute commitment from their followers. In a 1989 sermon, Coe told his audience, “Jesus Christ said, ‘If you do not put me before your father, your mother, your brother, and your sister, you cannot be my disciple.’ If you’re going to have any movement that moves men and nations, you have to have that kind of commitment. Jesus knew that.”

campus

By Nico Brancolini Sta f f Writer, CM C ‘ 1 1

international

From fascism to anti-gay bills, “the Family” influences GOP pols


WORLD (CUP) POLITICS: By Russell M. Page Copy Editor, CMC ‘13 Judging by the 180-student turnout at Pickford Auditorium on the first day of Pitzer political studies professor Nigel Boyle’s “History and Political Economy of World Soccer” class, Claremont students are flocking in droves to examine the sport from a deeper perspective. As this summer’s 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa nears, students seem eager to learn about how soccer signifies much more than just a game. In this year’s World Cup, many intriguing stories blend soccer on the field with important political implications. The Port Side met up with Professor Boyle to discuss his class and the political significance of the World Cup.

European teams are playing on the continent their countries conquered and colonized, and are trying to prove that they still rule the sport. African teams will try to play up to the hopes of their continent as it hosts it first major international sporting event. South Africa, less than twenty years after Apartheid and still afflicted with major problems, knows that a secure and well-run World Cup will bring great pride to the nation and the continent.

Both nations on the Korean peninsula will play in South Africa, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong II is already making preparations for the aftermath. Because the North Koreans have been put into what Professor Boyle labels the “Group of Death” with Cote d’Ivoire, Portugal, and favored Brazil, all odds point to an Boyle, who hails from the British Isles, embarrassment. With the South Koreis an avid soccer fan. While his current ans poised to do well in the tournament, Kim Jong course defies the II’s regime convention of a small, intimate With the South Koreans poised is already preparing Claremont class, to do well in the tournament, Kim Jong to censor the demand was high enough in II’s regime is already preparing to cen- its citizens’ ability to the World Cup sor its citizens’ ability to watch World watch World year to justify Cup games. the large lecture Cup games. In 1966, the style. Boyle suplast time the plements lectures with field trips to games, game viewings, North Koreans made it to the World Cup, and a weekly film series that all students they enjoyed shocking success, upsetting are encouraged to attend on Monday Italy to reach the quarterfinals. While the chances of a similar triumph are slim this nights in Pickford. year, the North Koreans are relatively In the World Cup this June, teams will unknown – and in soccer, surprises can play for much more than just a trophy. come from unexpected places. For North Korea and Chile, success or failure on the field will reflect upon na- Chileans just elected Sebastian Piñera tional leaders. The United States is bring- president, their first right-wing leader ing its best squad in years to the Cup. since dictator Augusto Pinochet. Piñera

page 8

|

m a r c h 10

|

claremontportside.com

|

volumeVII issue3

For some teams, the war o must take on the tough task of rebuilding his nation after

the devastating ear thquake and tsunami. Though this soccer connection may seem tenuous, all Chileans know that Piñera practically owns the national team. His election did not depend entirely on soccer, but his popularity stems at least partially from the team, which easily qualified for the Cup. If Chile does well in South Africa, then Piñera, can use what Professor Boyle calls “soccer nationalism” to unite his people behind his rebuilding efforts. The U.S. is heading back to South Africa, where they had an outstanding run in last year’s Confederations Cup by defeating Spain and reaching the final against Brazil. The Yanks have a talented squad and a great shot at advancing deep into the tournament. With Major League Soccer gaining more prestige and American participation in the sport increasing, success in the World Cup can bring the United States respect on the world stage. With the American Youth Soccer Organization training its third generation of players, youth soccer has integrated itself into


r on the field may mean peace at home American culture; more American children now play soccer than any other sport. With participation at an all-time high, the only thing lacking is a serious fan culture. Success in the Cup, may compel Americans to finally start caring about the world’s most popular game. The U.S. will begin with a game against England, one of the many European teams that recently relinquished its colonial possessions. Both the Netherlands and England are playing in South Africa, to which they brought Apartheid and left behind severe problems. They, along rest of the European teams, seek to prove that Europe still holds the dominant position in the sport. Teams like France, Italy, and Germany will try to continue their powerful reign over the soccer world – but they will play far from

their traditional home fields. They will face African teams in Africa, on a continent that is ready to assert itself both on the soccer pitch and in the international political and economic arena.

to transcend sport, uniting the continent in support of a single team. “If one team catches fire,” Professor Boyle says, “they could become Africa’s team.”

Nonetheless, expectations are not entirely While the Europeans positive. In the may have to adjust to Africa Cup of being outsiders, the Nations in AnDuring Nelson MandeAfrican teams will have gola, a bus cartheir entire continent la’s presidency, South Africa hosted rying the Togo behind them. Although national team the South African team the Rugby World Cup, and the na- was attacked by is weak and unlikely to tion rose up and united. a group demonhave any success, any of strating in favor the West African teams of indepencould do very well. Each West African na- dence from the Angolan national governtion represented in the tournament has had ment. The incident has inflamed fans’ fears its own political struggles in the last century; about security in South Africa. Companies each has tried to find an identity after gaining have already started selling stab-proof vests independence. Less than a decade ago, Cote to fans. Yet in South Africa, ordinary crime d’Ivoire faced a coup d’état but is now rela- will likely prove a larger threat than terrortively stable under a strong executive branch. ism. To ensure success, the country has to Cameroon’s government has dealt with cor- make sure that things go smoothly without ruption. Nigeria has struggled with ethnic any major security breakdowns. violence and inadequate infrastructure for its large population. Ghana, on the other hand, If all goes well in South Africa, the nation is the best example of a stable democracy. will benefit greatly. As Professor Boyle says, “In the world outside of the United For host South Africa, of course, a success- States, soccer influences everything.” Durful and safe World Cup is critical to raising ing Nelson Mandela’s presidency, South the reputations of both the nation and the Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup, and continent. Less than twenty years removed the nation rose up and united. This sumfrom the ugly practice of Apartheid and mer, the same phenomenon may occur on still plagued by racism, AIDS, poverty, and a larger scale. Soccer showdowns will reppolitical strife, South Africa needs some- resent political battles, and the power of thing to cheer for. Like South Africa, most the world’s games will African nations enjoy an upward trend po- be on full display. litically and economically. Achievements on the soccer pitch could help highlight the political achievements the continent has made over the last century. Because all the West African teams have talented and deep rosters full of players on European club teams, the World Cup may prove able

volumeVII issue3

|

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

page 9


Now, Apocalypse

A former Detroiter looks back and reflects on the city’s demise By Kyle Block C on t r ibu t in g Wr it er, C MC ‘ 10

international

Detroit. New Orleans. Akron. Most Americans would prefer not to live in these municipalities. Detroit, New Orleans, and large swaths of the Midwest are years beyond their prime and continue to descend into an unemployed nucleus of nothingness. The downfall of some of America’s once grand cities is well-documented, and the culprit is either a freak natural disaster or a man-made one. Detroit rests not-so-peacefully at the bottom of every ranking (except for the cost of living!), and droves of Detroiters have abandoned the Motor City for places further south – Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.

campus

national

What have not received as extensive coverage, however, are the societal implications of Detroit’s demise. What is it like to live in Detroit in 2010? (People do still live there.) As of the 2000 Census, nearly 5.3 million called the Detroit metropolitan area home, although this figure will surely drop in 2010. Throughout the past fifty years, Detroit’s culture has experienced significant changes that deserve special attention; most measures indicate that Detroit has no culture. How can the arts flourish with no funding? How can schools facing lower enrollment and a decreasing tax base support artistic programs? How have families reacted to a nearly 50% unemployment rate and the floundering automobile industry? As one of many former Detroiters, I feel sad to return to the city that made America what it is. Urban blight is the city’s most noticeable characteristic. So are the potholes that swallow cars. Add to that the hundreds of thousands of abandoned or empty lots, and you can almost imagine what Dresden looked like in 1946. Whereas most American cities experienced a youthful renaissance in the past ten years as young professionals realized the lackluster life in the suburbs, Detroit has been spared from such a revival. The city’s redevelopment agency curiously thought that building casinos would be Detroit’s savior. That was, perhaps, not the smartest policy, considering that Detroiters have no money with which p a g e 10

|

m a r c h 10

|

claremontportside.com

|

to gamble; however, the city can now shamelessly boast that it has attracted millions of dollars from its “partnership” with the MGM Grand and MotorCity casinos. In addition, the flashy new stadiums built with taxpayer dollars sit empty for most of the week and rarely approach capacity. An examination of family life in Detroit reveals a tragic reality for many. Imagine that you are laid off from your job at Ford. You enjoyed your work, your colleagues, your salary and benefits, and the pride you felt when you saw a Ford automobile smoothly rolling down Woodward Avenue (the first paved road in the country). Gone. Nobody said losing your job was easy, but in Detroit, it is much, much worse. Because the labor market is so oversaturated, you will not find another job. Your home is worth nothing, perhaps a quarter of what you paid for it. So, you are stuck in Detroit with no job and an overpriced home that nobody will buy. You cannot afford to pay the heating bill, even though the outside temperature is ten degrees and your kids are complaining of frostbite while they sleep. Your relationship with your spouse is tenuous at best, and you are stuck. Like thousands of Detroiters, you leave. You leave your family, house, former life – everything. I wish this were an exaggeration, but this is a reality for far too many. The massive decrease in population has resulted in severe cutbacks in public services, including but not limited to education, public health programs, road repair, and trash removal. The city has acquired thousands of abandoned homes that it cannot afford to demolish and nobody can afford to purchase; they are left to decay by Mother Nature. Where a middle class family once comfortably lived, drug dealers and violent criminals have filled the void and operate freely because the police department is corrupt and understaffed. School districts are closing school after school because of dropping enrollment and, consequently, revenue. The transportation department no longer repairs potholes, crumbling bridges, or unsafe highways. Parks planned by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park, now resemble a wasteland of old rusted cars, soggy sofas, and a bizarre amalgamation of stunning turn of the century sculptures with jarring brutalist structures. The Motor City’s axle has not stopped spinning, but it is spinning backward. Life in Detroit is rough, and the people that still there live need not be forgotten. The majority of those left behind are the sick, elderly and poor; they have witnessed their city crumble before their own eyes. It is important to consider the low quality of life that many Detroiters suffer and the damaging long-term effects that Detroit’s demise will have on its residents for generations to come.

volumeVII issue3


When Terence’s Dad Got Arrested

Foreign business in China might prove a risky career choice

Naturally, this news shocked me. Terence’s dad worked for a large Australian mining conglomerate called Rio Tinto – hardly the kind of company to become entangled in China’s political intrigue. But iron ore had recently taken on more signifi-

cance than was previously apparent. Annual price negotiations between the Chinese and Rio Tinto had concluded. Late in the negotiations, information leaked that China could, in fact, settle for a smaller price cut than desired and still maintain its profit margins. Robbed of its leverage, China had to settle for the same 33% cut that South Korea and Japan had already accepted, instead of the 45% it sought.

Terence and his family were never allowed to visit his father. Per international treaty, the only visitor permitted came from the Australian Consul-General in Shanghai. The Chinese government has provided no information as to where and under what conditions he is imprisoned. Only a few weeks ago did the local department of justice decide to proceed to actually try the case. A family friend or not, no prisoner in the modern world deserves such treatment – particularly those under such benign charges as corporate bribery. In its coverage of cases like this, the Western press tends to focus on castigating the Chinese regime for disregarding human rights. Indeed, China’s justice system is highly politicized and secretive. Nonetheless, without knowing

the evidence or lack thereof, I will not presume to play judge and jury. My experience in China has taught me that a more measured reaction allows consideration of significant questions that arise. More importantly, this case raises important questions about the relationship between Chinese politics and foreign business. Hu’s arrest shocked me, my family, and other foreigners like us. By the time of his arrest, my family had been living in Shanghai for five years. Expatriates in China tend to develop a slight sense of immunity to the big, bad government. Falun Gong, the death penalty, Tibet – these topics just do not matter in the day-to-day lives of expatriate families. volumeVII issue3

|

It remains unclear how the Rio Tinto case will affect this calculus. China does retain a sense of ownership over what they call “overseas Chinese,” or foreign citizens of Chinese origin, far more so than over the overseas Chinese’s Caucasian countrymen. Yet China’s willingness to imprison an Australian passport-holder over such vague allegations certainly crosses many thresholds that foreigners in China once thought were ironclad. Indeed, a culture of uncertainty now pervades Shanghai’s foreign business climate. As Kathryn Pauli, a practicing attorney in Shanghai for a Washington, D.C. law firm, tells the Port Side, “Where there are no public court documents detailing the allegations – only vague reports in the news media – business people are left to wonder and fear the worst... Since the trial also won’t be public, how can any person of any nationality in China feel that they will know just what behavior is being punished and why?” It is clear from the Rio Tinto case that one must exercise the utmost caution when conducting business in China. According to Pauli, foreign mining companies are already taking precautions before opening negotiations with Chinese companies; they are “seeking advance guarantees of immunity from prosecution for their employees.” Yet this problem extends far beyond the field of mining. Given the number of Claremont McKenna students looking to pursue business careers in China, the Rio Tinto case hits home. We must make sure to calculate carefully whether what we are doing and how we are doing it tracks with China’s political culture – because, as this case shows, foreign business is not necessarily immune from extreme government intervention.

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

p a g e 11

international

Terence Hu is my friend from high school. His entire family are native Chinese but got Australian citizenship after living in Sydney for a few years. Still, Terence identified only with China; he rooted for China in the Olympics and often marveled at the idea that he needed a visa to enter his home country. He was a frequent guest at my house, and his parents were always very courteous.

If anything happens to a foreign businessman in China – so the story goes – the worst-case punishment is deportation. Occasionally, for violent offenses, foreigners have been imprisoned. But no reasonable, law-abiding Westerner ever expects China’s politicized system of justice to impact them in any way.

national

July 5, 2009 was a typical summer day in Shanghai. Then I received a phone call telling me Terence’s dad had been arrested.

And the night before, Stern Hu was arrested and accused of using corrupt means to obtain privileged corporate information. China, it seemed, was blaming him for this crucial eleventh-hour revelation.

campus

By Chris Eldred Sta f f Writer, CMC ‘ 1 1


Homegrown Terrorist?

Jihad George joins Jihad Jane in unlawful TSA detention By Ashley Scott Il l u st r at or, C MC ‘ 1 1 and Tom Boerigter C on t r ibu t in g Wr it er, C M C ‘12

international

Last summer, as thousands of American college students boarded planes and made their way back to campus, one Pomona College senior experienced more than the usual headache associated with air travel. While attempting to board his California-bound plane at Philadelphia International Airport, physics major Nick George was handcuffed, detained, and interrogated for five hours. George’s August 28 ordeal not only caused him to miss his flight but also launched him into a lengthy lawsuit backed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

campus

national

While going through routine airline security procedures, George was selected for additional screening. TSA suspicion stemmed from George’s possession of both Arabic flashcards and Clyde Prestowitz’s book Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions. Though TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis claims that behavioral detection officers selected Nick for screening before they found his flashcards, this seems most unlikely; George emitted no threat of behavioral abnormality.

The screening officials asked George a peculiar set of questions pertaining to his personal feelings surrounding the September 11 terrorist attacks and terrorism in general. Specifically, he had to answer, “Who did 9/11?” and whether he knew what language Osama bin Laden spoke. Following his removal from the airport terminal to a holding room, counterterrorism officials questioned George’s campus activities. He was asked whether he was a member of any Islamic student groups at Pomona, if he converted to Islam, and whether or not he sympathized with communist causes – as if communism were somehow relevant to his Arabic flashcards. During his holding, George found it best to remain calm. He could not help but ponder the ridiculousness of his predicament, but he hoped that his cooperation could end the situation quickly. Though numerous people – a TSA official, the director of Philadelphia International Airport TSA, the Philadelphia Police Department, and two FBI counterterrorism officers – interrogated him, none informed George of the charges. All further attempts to garner information about the detention proved fruitless. To date, neither the TSA, the Philadelphia Police Department, nor the FBI has apologized. After a local Philadelphia newspaper published a small news piece, the ACLU contacted George. Throughout this academic year, he has been working with his ACLU attorney, Ben Wizner, on the procedures necessary to file a lawsuit against the TSA, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the FBI for infringing upon George’s rights pertaining to free speech and unlawful seizure. “The case is pretty simple,” George says. “There was no probable cause given for my interrogation.” Nevertheless, the meanings of a few of his numerous Arabic cards and his past travels may have prompted officials’ alarm. Like thousands of other college students, George took the opportunity to study abroad during his time at Pomona; because of his academic background in Arabic, he chose to study in Amman, Jordan. Following his semester abroad, he also traveled to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. The most TSA concern may have come from the appearance of Sudan on this list, as it is on the State Department’s list of terrorism-sponsoring nations.

p a g e 12

|

m a r c h 10

|

claremontportside.com

|

volumeVII issue3


NICK GEORGE’S TSA HORROR STORY: On August 28, 2009, the Pomona senior was unlawfully detained at Philadelphia International Airport. D r oppe d of f by par e n ts

Tr anspo r ted by Phill y police to new loc ation

Left in holding cell for about four hours

Randomly selected for additional security screening

Spent 30 minute s with air por t ’s T S A dir ec tor

Interrogated by two FBI counterterrorism officials

Parents unable to garner more info from TSA or police

Flashcards discovered from within his pockets

30 minute screening with first TSA official

Asked, “Are you an Islamist, communist... groups like these on your campus?

Although angry, remained calm to shorten process

The ACLU suit will take months or years to complete. The expected motion to dismiss from the FBI, Philadelphia Police Department, and TSA will take almost two months to file. Then, a counter-file to block the dismissal will double that time. Ultimately, if the defendants choose not to settle with George,

Many students would consider an experience like George’s a negative effect on the beginning of their school year, but George thinks otherwise. He has not allowed the event to affect his crucial senior year studies or his future plans. He still hopes to one day use his Arabic skills to start a career with the Foreign Service, and also plans on returning to the Middle East soon to apply both his language skills and physics degree as a sponsored student assisting with water projects in Palestinian territories. volumeVII issue3

|

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

p a g e 13

international

George thinks the time and energy required for the case will prove signficant; he hopes to set a precedent for passenger rights that could help the millions of Americans that fly each year. “This case is not about me but about the rights of all Americans who travel,” George says. “While many will say that my predicament was a result of necessary safety precautions in these troubled times, sacrificing constitutional rights is never good for the safety of any citizen no matter the circumstances.”

Still, when security checkpoints can take hours, a five hour detention spurred by a set of flash cards of a language spoken by 280 million people was a dangerous waste of resources and a violation of the constitutional rights of an upstanding American citizen. George questions the potential ramifications of his detainment: “What if while the TSA, the Philadelphia Police, and the FBI were mulling over my flashcards some real danger had presented itself?”

national

On these contextual grounds, his unlawful treatment has no probable cause, which Black’s Law Dictionary defines as “reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime.” Traveling to Sudan is not a crime. Neither is carrying Arabic flash cards or possessing Prestowitz’s book. George’s detention and interrogation truly call into question the upholding of his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

another seven to eight months will pass until the case reaches court.

campus

Several of the Arabic flash cards contained translations of words such as “bomb” and “terrorist.” Yet, these vocabulary words make sense in context. To better understand the political opinions of Middle Eastern nations, George has been watching and translating Al Jazeera. George deems this first-hand coverage “crucial to the understanding of America’s place in the Middle East.”

F i n a l l y r e l e as e d, w ith n o apo l o g y


Incentivizing Investment

Why developing countries are not developing By Veronica Pugin Inter n at ion al Edit or, C MC ‘ 1 2

international

Compared to today’s standards of living in developed countries, the majority of the world’s population has suffered from intense poverty. Why have some countries failed to follow the global trend of increasing GDP per capita? How come the two-thirds of the world living on less than $2 a day cannot raise their incomes just enough to meet their basic needs? Numerous social, cultural, political, and economic factors inhibit a country’s ability to develop. Yet two economic reasons stand out as the most significant impediments: the lack of institutions and the lack of incentives. The Solow Growth Model states that a country’s GDP and total output depend on capital, technology, and labor and disregards other variables, such as population growth. While the model does a relatively decent job at assessing the output of stable and es-

campus

national

The Solow Growth Model

tablished economies, it provides an incomplete answer for developing countries. Beyond the corrupt leaders that tend to plague them, developing countries also suffer from the absence of institutional security. Nzinga Broussard, a Claremont McKenna professor of development economics, explains the key problem: “The question becomes, can these models be applied to developing countries, ignoring their institutions? I don’t think so.” Like Broussard, a majority of political scientists and economists agree that the establishment of consistent institutions most influences individuals’ productivity growth. On a more p a g e 14

|

m a r c h 10

|

claremontportside.com

|

tangible level, developed countries have institutions to oversee contracts, uphold the rule of law, and stabilize currency value. Because this institutional security facilitates commerce and protects economic activity, developed countries enjoy ample opportunity for growth and productivity. The Solow Growth Model is simply too black and white for developing countries. Lacking such institutional protections, developing countries are risky bets for investors, firms, and skilled labor forces. In these cases, incentives – key to the influx of capital, labor, and technology – are either few or nonexistent. The culprits, according to Broussard, are the governments of developing countries. “The key thing to note about governments,” she says, “is that they shape incentives.” Without a strong foundation, the invisible hands of private investors are reluctant; governments need to take initiative to spur growth. But not all incentives are productive. Broussard notes that government-defined incentives can “encourage either productive behavior or rent-seeking behavior. Without enforceable property rights, it may not be in the farmer’s best interest to invest in his land.” Most importantly, governments must provide incentives for and facilitate an increase in the skilled labor force. The absence of labor competition promotes stagnation, since people’s actions depend upon their expectations of other people’s actions. Just as a subsistence farmer might not transition to business or industry if he sees no competitive benefit, a citizen may choose not to adopt a new mode of technology if no one else in his market is doing so. Without any incentives, the few who do possess exceptional skills may exit the local market, resulting in the detrimental “brain drain” phenomenon. Governments must step in. To promote increased skill sets for workers, conditional cash transfers, which predicate welfare payments on recipients’ actions, may prove successful. As an added benefit, a more skilled labor force can supplement tax breaks in attracting foreign investment. Governments of developing countries must serve as the “Big Push” for growth to occur and then gradually reduce their influence by further encouraging this growth. Chile and South Korea stand out as miracle countries that successfully transitioned from developing to developed countries. So hope remains for the twothirds of the world living on less than $2 a day – if sustainable growth has been achieved before, it can be achieved again.

volumeVII issue3


Banning Burqas

French secularism defies toleration

The controversy surrounding Islamic dress is not new to France. In September 2004, a law came into effect banning the hijab – a headscarf typically worn by Muslim women – in French public schools. When first proposed, the ban generated heated debate over issues of religious freedom. Many against the law, including French Muslims and the Western press, maintain that the French government has breached students’ freedom of expression. Others claim the law is racist, almost exclusively aimed at Muslims. Though the law was intended to forbid the display of any obvious signs of religion (a large cross, for example), the ban on the hijab resonated most deeply with French Muslims, who deemed it an attack on their religion in particular. Rather than viewing the law as an infringement on religious expression, many Muslims believed it imposed on their religious obligations and their Islamic duty to live by the Qur’an. French officials were quick to discredit such arguments, framing the ban as yet

Recent legislative action, however, has removed the veil of religious expression from the Islamic dress argument and placed it in the context of female emancipation. Jean François Copé, parliamentary leader for Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement, has drafted a new law forbidding the public wearing of any clothing intended to cover the face: in other words, the burqa or niqab. Claiming that the proposed ban is strictly in the interest of Muslim women, Sarkozy and other backers of Copé’s draft have framed the bill as a reaffirmation of gender equality. Communist legislator André Gerin expressed support for the proposal, stating, “There are people in this country who are walking around in portable prisons.” Lexie Burgers, a Claremont McKenna sophomore studying in Marseille, France, has found herself smack in the middle of this whirling debate. Marseille has an especially prominent Muslim community, which makes it the perfect laboratory for exploring the burqa issue. As a French and Arabic Studies dual major, Burgers understands that “on the one hand, [the niqab] is a barrier to truly being integrated with French society,” an element of French nationalism whose weight and importance are difficult to replicate in the American melting pot. Indeed, France volumeVII issue3

|

places significant emphasis on uniting its people by culture. For this reason among others, Burgers’s French host mother has made her support for the ban clear. While framing the law as a protection of women’s rights and individuality makes sense, the question remains whether the niqab ban will truly liberate women from the patriarchic society. “Is [the proposed ban] really going to be an effective way of liberating [women] when their husbands are already forcing them to wear [niqabs] in public?” Burgers wonders. “Are they going to let their wives out in public if the ban becomes law?” These questions aside, many Muslim women want to wear the burqa; their choice to cover themselves is personal and in many cases an act of female empowerment. Amidst the many questions surrounding the burqa debate, the government in power has managed to curry favor with a large part of the electorate. Yet, as Burgers puts it, the government is “trying to distract from real issues with an essential non-issue,” using divisions over the burqa to gain political prominence. Perhaps what began as an earnest evaluation of equality in French political life has quickly become a messy electioneering tool, belittling very real problems of race and religion.

claremontportside.com

|

m a r c h 10

|

p a g e 15

international

While issues of national identity loom large in the face of the government, French politicians have consumed themselves with an effort to reaffirm the constitutional values of the state. A so-called “crisis” of national identity has taken hold of the French public, and government officials are asserting the importance of equality under law. Nevertheless, this rhetoric has recently bred legislation limiting Islamic dress, causing some to question France’s true interpretation of equality.

national

“The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement... It will not be welcomed on French territory.” Ten months later, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s words remain branded into government rhetoric and continue to inflame French-Islamic communities.

another step in promoting the secular values of the state. The French have long been championing the principle of laïcité, the separation of church and state. Yet the enforcement and interpretation of such secularism expands far beyond that of the United States, thus placing even more restrictions on the extent to which religion remains public.

campus

By Rachel Brody Sta f f Writer, CMC ‘ 1 2


Playing Pyro

Why Mudders like to burn shit the plank By Nicholas Rowe Co p y Editor, CMC ‘ 1 3 The Claremont Colleges abound with mysteries whose answers most of us cannot fathom. Why is the Hub Store always closed? Why does the Motley hang paintings of female genitalia on the walls? What started Pomona’s ruthless obsession with the number 47? And most recently, where did TNC go? While the latter issue probably concerns Claremont students most right now, I must address another pressing question: Why do Mudders burn shit? My interest in pyromania at Harvey Mudd began last year when I visited Claremont McKenna as a prospective student. On one of the last Thursday Night Clubs of the year, CMCers were running around in traditional weekend revelry, coming to and from the loud music emanating from one of the North Quad lounges. After thoroughly examining the scene at CMC, a fellow prospie and I decided to stroll through Pitzer, Harvey Mudd, Scripps, and Pomona to experience the weekend social life at the other colleges. As we expected, Scripps and Pomona were relatively quiet, with the occasional students passing by on their way to visit friends in other dorms or grabbing a bite to eat. At Pitzer, we found students sprawled across the mounds and in hammocks, happily chatting while listening to acoustic guitar ballads. After joining in to sing some kumbayas, we proceeded to Mudd. At first the campus was relatively quiet, but as we headed west we came upon a sight I had never imagined to see in Claremont: a

p a g e 16

|

m a r c h 10

|

group of 20-25 people closely huddled around a raging fire in the middle of a dorm, continually adding wood to the fire to keep the flame going strong into the night. The scene was surreal – something straight from Animal House, an absurdity I had only seen in movies and other depictions of college life. Walking back to CMC, I could not help but wonder: CMCers live the stereotypical college life, partying late into the night, but why do Mudders burn things? Of course, characterizing all Mudders proves impossible, but we certainly have no fire rings at CMC. Before flying back home, I asked around to figure out why. Everyone seemed to know about the fires Mudd so loves, but no one knew why. So, naturally, I headed up to Mudd to investigate and hopefully appease my curiosity. “West Dorm has always had a fire pit,” says resident Matthew Phillips ’11. “It has a long history. We’ve had one for at least twenty years.” According to West Dorm lore, the college began regulating the fire only a few years ago, when the dorm bought fourteen pallets of wood, enough to set a fire ablaze higher than the dorm itself. Thinking the dorm was burning down, a Scripps student called the Claremont Fire Department. The fire department responded and found the fire, despite its size, still contained. “There’s really no danger. The entire dorm is made of cement, so it can’t catch on fire,” says another West resident. Nonetheless, the fire department and HMC administration now demand that students contain the fire at least six inches off the ground and that the

claremontportside.com

pit cannot exceed nine square feet in area. North Dorm and Linde Dorm also have fire pits, it turns out, but students rarely use them. Phillips explains, “West Dorm is unique in that it has a personality of pyromania, good parties, and a social aspect.” According to Phillips, this social aspect propels Mudd’s fires: “Sometimes you’ll have two people watching it for fifteen minutes as a study break, sometimes thirty people around a huge fire.” A fire is a versatile tool for uniting diverse students. “It acts as a catalyst for conversation because when people are around a fire it keeps the conversation going,” another West resident commented. On the downside, Harvey Mudd’s administration has had its fair share of problems with the fires, aside from the Claremont Fire Department’s visit. “It’s a balance between the social life and the perceived image,” Phillips says. Nonetheless, while the Board of Trustees and the Office of Admission have sought to eliminate the fire pit, which they consider an eyesore, former Dean Jeanne Noda and students have fought relentlessly and successfully to keep it. So why do Mudders burn shit? Well, it’s quite simple. As Phillips puts it, “You get people together.”

Editor | v oand l u m Publisher’s e V I I i s s u e 3 Note: Health care passed. Victory is ours.


March 2010