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T HES T UDE NTWE E KL YS I NCE1 969
AHa r v a r dS t o r y I ns i de: S c hol a r s&a t hl et es , educ a t i ngAmer i c a , a ndCha r r yPot t er .
02.17.11 vol. xlii, no. 15 The Indy is hitting the books.
Cover photograph by MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA
Cover art by
FORUM That Guy 3 An Education 4 Point/Counterpoint: Early Bird 5 Mensches and Magic 6 Latina Leadership 7 ARTS Rad Radin 8 Out on the Town 8 Caving In 9 Roommate 911 9 10 Sitar Hero SPORTS 11 Brains and Brawns
President Weike Wang ‘11 Vice President Whitney Lee ‘14 Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo ‘12
Production Manager Miranda Shugars ‘14
Executive Editor Riva Riley ‘12
Business Manager Amanda Hernandez ‘14 Associate Business Manager Publicity Coordinator Eric Wei ‘14 Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor
Meghan Brooks ‘14 Zena Mengesha ‘14 Brett Giblin ‘11 Alexandria Rhodes ‘14
Columnists Sam Barr ‘11 Luis Martinez ‘12
As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact President Weike Wang (email@example.com). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo (firstname.lastname@example.org). Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email subscriptions@harvardindependent. com. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2010 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
Staff Writers Michael Altman '14 Peter Bacon ‘11 Arthur Bratolozzi ‘12 Colleen Berryessa ‘11 Arhana Chattopadhyay ‘11 Sayantan Deb ‘14 Levi Dudte '11 Gary Gerbrandt ‘14 Sam Jack ‘11 Marion Liu ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Alfredo Montelongo ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Steven Rizoli ‘11 Brad Rose '14 Marc Shi ‘14 Jim Shirey ‘11 Angela Song '14 Diana Suen ‘11 Alex Thompson ‘11 Christine Wolfe ‘14 Sanyee Yuan ‘12 Faith Zhang ‘11 Susan Zhu ‘11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Chaima Bouhlel ‘11 Eva Liou ‘11 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Schuyler Polk ‘14 Patricia Florescu ‘11 02.1.11 • The Harvard Independent
Section: Scourge of the Ages I
spend three hours every week sitting in a dim room, listening to someone about six years older than me ramble. The rambling pauses occasionally, interspersed with frequently irrelevant commentary by my peers. And sure, I say random and pointless things, among which only a few are slightly more focused and intelligent. I’m a part of the problem, I’ll admit. I am That Guy in section — one of the many That Guys, that is. Yet I recognize that there is a problem with one of the more time-consuming parts of my education, which is more than I can say of most of my professors and teaching fellows. Discussion sections have been relentlessly menacing in every class I have taken at Harvard. They absolutely have a place in math and science courses, where they become places where a student can ask relevant questions, work on specific problems to augment the assigned workload, and actually learn. However, in the social sciences and humanities, section is an ordeal: a TF sits at the head of a table, posing questions (which run the gamut from ridiculously specific to mindnumbingly obvious), and students, with no other options, try to cram in as much speaking time as possible.
The Harvard Independent • 02.17.11
In an ideal world, blocking would be simple, there would be accessible social space on campus, administration figures would be more transparent, professors would assign reasonable amounts of reading, and discussion sections would never have been conceived. This world, of course, is imperfect, but there is a shocking lack of logic behind the glorified time-waster we call section. It has very little purpose, other than that attendance is required to confirm that readings were completed, and to allow teaching staff to tack on some arbitrary (but minor) percentage of one’s final grade. Yet there is no substantial method of testing reading completion or comprehension. Most of my sections have been composed of four or five students who talk and talk and talk — myself included — and the rest of the class, who sit there and nods along. There is no accountability for the participants in section, which, frankly, is completely appropriate (the obscene amounts of reading expected of students here are worthy of their own curmudgeonly diatribe), and no consistent method of reinforcing what is being learned. The desperate grad students who take on teaching positions are left with nothing to
A diatribe against sections as they stand. By GARY GERBRANDT work with — something that comes across clearly whenever one loses an hour of his or her life to the monster that is section. Some sections are better than others — when the TF is particularly passionate, approachable, and engaged they can be tolerable — but often they are just as detached as the bewildered students sitting beside them. Sections have forced me to do everything from sitting in absolute silence as a TF slowly loses his or her composure because “You guys know that the readings were assigned, right? Why didn’t you do them? You must not have done them if you can’t answer this question I have spontaneously developed!”, to discussing the best place within easy walking distance of the Red Line to purchase banana-Nutella crêpes, to harping on why a perfectly acceptable book was flawed because it didn’t appeal to every possible perspective and viewpoint, to awkwardly staring into space while our esteemed leader laughed hysterically at her own jokes and forgot everyone’s names.
This shouldn’t have to be a problem. Really, it shouldn’t. If that means reforming humanities and social science discussion sections until they resemble those to be found in the maths and natural sciences, so be it. Ec 10 is a great example of a class that utilizes sections very well on a massive scale. Students work on problems, clarify questions, and are taught material they don’t find in their lectures. This proves that there is the potential for an improved academic experience for the more than 3,000 students here who suffer through terrible sections every week. Is it too much to ask of Harvard to make a set of small changes and massively improve the learning of its student body? It shouldn’t be. After all, isn’t being the best what we’re all about? Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@ college) might explode if he’s asked to “elaborate on that” ever again.
Maria Barragan-Santana / INDEPENDENT
Teach For a Chance to Make History A conversation with Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp.
By SUSAN ZHU
each For America (TFA) celebrated its 20th anniversary last weekend with a summit in Washington, D.C. Its founder, Wendy Kopp, started TFA based on her senior thesis at Princeton University. In the past twenty years, Teach For America has expanded to 39 regions across America and has also recently branched into Teach For All, whose mission is to bring the Teach For America model to the rest of the world. Across the nation, over 48,000 people applied to become 2011 TFA corps members (CMs). Here at Harvard, 18 percent of the Class of 2011 applied to Teach For America. In the process of applying for TFA, one reads a lot about educational inequality and how hard-working teachers can make a difference. Those admitted, however nervous, are usually excited by the prospect of working for social change. In the months following admission, it’s easy to lose sight of that bubbly do-good feeling. Every email communication detailing the next set of paperwork ends with a reminder about combating the achievement gap. Eventually, the words start looking like the emails that read, “LEARN MORE ABOUT BLAHBLAHBLAH! FREE NOCH’S.” Add to that the post-admission processes of test taking, resume polishing, interview training, and finger printing (four times), and fighting educational inequality can seem like a far-away ideal at the end of an extremely long tunnel. Luckily, TFA’s spiritual leader was in town on Tuesday to promote her new book, A Chance to Make History. Wendy Kopp sat down for a discussion at the Boston Public Library with David Gergen, the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School and a member of Teach For America’s National Board of Directors. “Superheroic teachers” According to Kopp, every corps member is an “extraordinary leader who believes in students’ potential,” but there are some who stand above average. Kopp called these teachers “superheroic teachers”—the ones 4 email@example.com
who somehow manage to have all of their below-level kids pass the state exam at grade level within a year. But, she cautioned, Teach For America does not necessarily need these “superheroic teachers” to fulfill its mission. Kopp explained that there will never be enough of these people to staff classrooms across the country. Instead, she hopes that these highly successful teachers will start their own schools that will build a culture of achievement to serve at-risk communities (think KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program
system of charter schools started by TFA alumni Dave Levin and Mike Fineberg). These highly successful teachers and schools, Kopp said, are not the ones that provide the same education as privileged schools offer; they provide better education than privileged schools. Offering the example of her own privileged public high school, Kopp said that simply moving the school to the South Bronx would do nothing for the students in the South Bronx. There would need to be additional services, resources, hard work, and dedication to move those students to the same level as their more privileged suburban counterparts.
Kopp replied, “all parents care.” The difference is that not all parents are provided with the resources and knowledge to help their children succeed. Using an example from her own life, Kopp spoke about how her children’s preschool sends home daily newsletters and instructions on how to help children explore and grow – without these blasts of information, Kopp said, she wouldn’t know what to do. Switching gears to teachers and unions, Kopp dismissed the idea that veteran teachers and teachers’ unions were enemies of education reform and Teach For Susan Zhu / INDEPENDENT America, adding that, in fact, veteran teachers are some of TFA’s biggest supporters in urban and rural districts. As for education policy’s recent turn against teacher unions, Kopp cited a study that found that states without collective bargaining had only a 0.3% higher teacher dismissal rates than states with collective bargaining. Neither teachers nor unions, she said, should be faulted as the sole factor responsible for the state of education today. “We need to move to a world of blamelessness,” Kopp said, in order to fully address the problem. “Get to know your kids.” At the end of the lecture, audience members had the chance to write down questions on index cards. issues. Kopp believes that TFA offers first-hand experience and inspiration I had just finished scribbling down for future lawyers, doctors, and my question – asking Wendy Kopp, businesspeople to be invested in as a 2011 CM, for one piece of advice improving the quality of American – when David Gergen read the same question by another audience member. education. Kopp gave it some thought and then Moving to “a world of said, “Get to know your kids.” The blamelessness” Just as there is no one solution rationale, she said, is that getting to to solving the problem of education know students makes it hard not to inequality, Kopp believes that there is love them, and when teachers realize no one group or issue responsible for how high the stakes are for their kids, the system’s current lackluster state. they are much more likely to succeed. “We spent 20 years blaming kids Susan Zhu ’11 (szhu@fas) is a 2011 and parents,” she told Gergen. “Now we blame teachers and unions. […] Teach For America – Bay Area Corps These analyses are overly simplistic.” Member, and looks forward to getting Asked whether or not apathetic to know her kids. parents were just an urban myth, No silver bullets Kopp also stressed that the problem of educational inequality cannot be solved until “our best minds and our best leaders” become involved. Kopp believes that there needs to be real leadership at every level, adding that policy makers who lack on-theground experience don’t look at the problem holistically because they don’t understand that there is no one thing that can solve the problem. “They lurch from one silver bullet to another,” she said, citing charters as one of policy wonks’ favorite education
02.17.11 • The Harvard Independent
Admissions Policy Point: Early Admission Opens Doors By MEGHAN BROOKS
n 2006, Harvard College did away with its non-binding early admissions program, citing a renewed commitment to reaching out to students and schools whose resources made applying to Harvard early either a challenge or an entirely unknown option. Indeed, these past five years admissions officers have spent the extra six weeks without early application review touring the country giving information sessions in all fifty states. Although the admissions office’s efforts to reach out to all potential applicants are certainly noble, considering the non-binding nature of the early decisions program, it is difficult to see a solid argument against the program’s re-instatement. It is not, however, difficult to see early action’s benefits, especially when schools such as Yale recognize the benefits of non-binding early action as well. Non-binding early action is, first and foremost, an excellent way for the college to offer the security of admission to exceptional academic, musical, and athletic talent before or at the same time as other colleges. In athletic recruitment especially, colleges often compete for talent through scholarship offers and — surprise surprise — early admissions decisions. By not having an early action program, Harvard makes it much more difficult for sought-after applicants to compare their many offers equitably. As a matter of fact, eliminating early action programs just makes the recruitment of exceptional talent all the more obtuse and, perhaps, all the more unfair. The college’s current policy is to send “likely letters” to applicants whose special skills catch their interest months before regular applications are due. This “likely The Harvard Independent • 02.17.11
letter,” which more or less tells a student that he or she will be accepted as long as his or her grades remain unchanged, is different from early action in only the name, with the exception that likely letters are an early action program reserved almost exclusively for athletes. The college’s athletic recruitment webpage states that for athletes who apply early, “a likely letter may be issued as early as October 1 and may be considered a reliable indication of a positive admission.” No such statements are echoed on the regular admissions page, and instances of non-athletic likely letters seem to be rare. By contrast, under the previous non-binding early action program, approximately twenty percent of 4,000 applicants were offered admission before January 1 st. Many of these applicants were athletes, but all were students who would have undoubtedly been accepted to the college by April 1st anyway. These early admits were given the peace of mind of early acceptance, the freedom not to apply to (and pay to apply to) any other colleges, and a financial aid package. Because this early action program was non-binding, students from all economic backgrounds were still able to apply to other schools to compare financial aid packages if necessary, effectively opening the option of early action to all applicants equally. The admissions office should undoubtedly continue in its efforts to prove that Harvard is a viable option for high school seniors of any background in the coming years; however, banishing early admissions forever is certainly not the best way to go about doing it. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@ college) doesn’t like Yale to have anything we don’t.
Counterpoint: Let’s Keep the Playing Field Level By GARY GERBRANDT
hings are much simpler at home in Canada when one applies to university: a very simple online system submits a set of transcripts to three chosen programs, and within three months all decisions have been made. There are no essays, SATs, letters of recommendation, or any other terms familiar to our student body. It’s a process so streamlined, and so predictable, that any applicant can put their finger on their choice and stick with it. Applying to Harvard was a distinctly foreign experience, and there was no one to guide me, although I was comforted in knowing that there were over 30,000 other teenagers in the same boat. Sure, there were about 210 recruited athletes who already knew they’d get in, a small swath of legacies who had a 35% admissions rate to enjoy, and a tiny fraction of students who were wooed as early on as January thanks to their outstanding talents. A vast majority of us, however, had to suffer through months of uncertainty and hesitation, building up to that holy April afternoon. What Harvard is currently considering, reinstating their policy of non-binding early action admissions, strips the magic from the application process. In the cases of Yale, MIT, and Stanford, possibly the best-known examples of schools with the program, their best candidates apply early and are ushered in before most regular decision programs come due. This not only puts undue pressure on applicants and schools to piece together their best work before they usually do, but it prevents the admissions department from reaching out to more schools and students with less robust college counseling resources. It neatly
divides the wheat from the chaff, subjecting students to hope-killing rejections or, even worse, middling deferrals. I applied to Yale early — and it was a stressful experience, trying to sort out a portfolio of admissions materials before November had even begun. I spent the intervening forty-five days worrying about my chances while simultaneously trying to fill out my applications to Harvard and Princeton, and my hopes were flattened in December when I was deferred. It seemed like so many students had gotten in, and I realized then that the early action program was little more than a sweetener for kids who would have gotten in anyway (just to spite Yale, it’s nice to know that there are plenty of kids here who turned down that early acceptance). But Harvard is pretty different: it treats almost all of its applicants equally, with the same unchanging countenance, silently waiting to surprise a kid half to death when those fateful e-mails are delivered. Harvard is a place that emphasizes being different, which is an incredible gift, but equality in the admissions process is one noble exception to this rule. This year, with 30,489 applicants — and with God only knows how many more next year — it is important that things stay equal, and that everyone enjoys the same grand catharsis, whether through admission or rejection. So, administrators of Fair Harvard, let’s keep things the same, and keep our applicants sane. Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@college) wants to keep all applications equal, even if all applicants aren’t. firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrating Shabbat the wizarding way.
ast Thursday, I opened my Facebook homepage to the lovely sight of three new event invitations. One asked for my help in the fight against world hunger, another was for a birthday party in Colorado, and the other…well, the other piqued my interest with a poster featuring Harry Potter in a yarmulke. “Get sorted into a Hogwarts House, enjoy special dishes from the Harry Potter Books, and eat Berty [sic] Bott’s Every Flavor Beans!” the Shabbat invite read. Enough said — it had me at Harry Potter. Although I had meant to get myself to Hillel for dinner last semester, especially on days when there was nothing edible on the regular dining hall menu other than seven different varieties of potatoes, between my general laziness and the bitter cold, it just never happened. This time, however, it would be different — it had to be different. As a child I had eagerly anticipated the arrival of my Hogwarts acceptance owl, and was understandably devastated when, at the age of thirteen, I realized it wasn’t going to come. Now, at the age of eighteen, I figured the next best thing to the real Hogwarts was Hillel’s version. So, undeterred by my previous track record, I channeled a great deal of my energy over the next two days into convincing a cohort of dinner buddies to celebrate Shabbat with me. It wasn’t that I was afraid to go the dinner alone per se, but rather that I had never been to a Bar Mitzvah, much less a Shabbat dinner, and that, as a rule, I try not to put myself in situations where I look out of place unless surrounded by others who look just as conspicuously so. Thus, having prepared for the occasion by reading Wikipedia articles on both Shabbat and Bertie Bott bean flavors, a group of non-Jews and I wandered over to Hillel at six o’clock Friday evening, not knowing what to expect of the wonders that awaited us. As we walked through the door, we encountered something that we certainly didn’t expect: a line snaking down the hallway and into the building’s lobby. To phrase it as Harry Chiel ’14, Vice President for Shabbat and Holidays, did, “Hillel 6 email@example.com
By MEGHAN BROOKS was packed.” Part of the reason for this line was the sorting process. Upon entry into the dining room guests were sorted into their appropriate houses by drawing slips of paper from a basket. By some bit of magic, three members of my group were sorted into Slytherin alongside me. The fourth, a Hufflepuff, demonstrated his House’s characteristic unwavering loyalty to friends by ignoring his table assignment and joining the wizarding equivalent of the dark side. The room was arranged into four long tables bedecked in Hufflepuff yellow,
new people and make new friends.” Although my group’s inexplicable sorting into Slytherin thwarted our making any new friends, a quick glance around the room proved that table conversation was lively and welcoming. Once everyone had settled into their chairs, Chiel and another organizer started off the night’s festivities with a rather funny skit explaining Shabbat in wizarding lingo. After they described the Kiddush spell that would be said over the wine and cracked a few jokes about Malfoy’s
Maria Barragan-Santana / INDEPENDENT
Ravenclaw blue, Gryffindor red, and Slytherin green. All dinner attendants seemed pleased with their house assignment. Said Chiel of the sorting process, “We thought the idea of sorting people was incredibly valuable. Often, people new to the Hillel community might find it intimidating to sit with people they don’t know. By making the seating random, we created a great opportunity for everyone to meet
matriculation at Yale, prayers were sung, blessings were said, hands were washed, and the famed Hillel cuisine appeared on silver trays in the kitchen window behind us. Although I had been able to fake my way through the Hebrew prayers and had even caught on to some of the more religious jokes made in the predinner skit, when it came time to eat, my dining buddies and I were at a bit of a loss. We fumbled over the proper
distribution of the challah, couldn’t agree on what to do with the bottle of grape juice, and when it came time to bring the food from the kitchen to the table, we couldn’t figure out who was supposed to get it. Luckily for us, an older student whose name I didn’t quite catch adopted us and made sure we didn’t go hungry. We spent the rest of the meal greedily slurping down matzo ball soup and tearing into some very nicely seasoned roast chicken. Gastronomically speaking, our venture into Shabbat dinner was a success. Harry Potter Shabbat dinner was certainly a success for our stomachs, but was it a success for five non-Jews’ cultural understanding as well? Chiel described Shabbat dinner as “a great time to teach people, both Jews and non-Jews, about Jewish customs and Jewish tradition.” I cannot speak for my dining buddies, but I would say that last Friday night was indeed culturally enlightening. Although there is no way I would be able to recite the “incantation” sung before the meal and still don’t know exactly what I was supposed to do with the grape juice, the very act of sharing what Chiel described as a dinner centered around family and community with the Jewish community in my own school opened a window into a segment of student life here that I had yet to see. Although I cannot say when, I will certainly be heading back to Harvard Hillel this semester to partake in the delicious food and wonderful sense of community that its dining hall offers. Chiel promised that Hillel will be hosting other fun events in the future, but asked that students stop by anytime, “Shabbat doesn’t need to have a theme to be a fun experience!” Although a great deal of my fun at Hillel was directly related to finally “actualizing my wizarding potential” as Tyler Richard ’14 put it, after tasting a little bit of Jewish tradition this past Friday, I have to say that I believe him. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@ college) thinks Annenberg needs a bit of wizarding flavor as well.
02.17.11 • The Harvard Independent
Encontrar Inspiración LEAD Conference 2011 an enormous success. By CHRISTINE WOLFE
he SOCH was bustling with innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, and leaders of the Latina community this weekend at the fourth annual Latina Empowerment and Development (LEAD) Conference. Organized by Latinas Unidas of Harvard, the event was advertised as an opportunity in which inspiring Latinas would come to inform attendees of the best ways to network, interview, and succeed as women in today’s economy. The residual effects of the conference, however, had a more profound impact — the speakers not only provided guidance, but also strongly advocated for the necessity of leaders who could give back to their community. There was a sense of camaraderie and shared understanding of the importance of fostering a proud, dedicated Latina population. The speakers pushed their audience to ask why they must give back to their community, why solidarity is crucial, and what good can come from a career that further impacts the success of the Latino community in America. An assembly of fresh-faced, welldressed young women — mostly Latina —bustled from the mezzanine to the penthouse from 9:30 to 5:30 as they attended both smaller, discussionbased workshops and larger panels. Surprisingly, the majority of the attendants did not hail from Harvard, The Harvard Independent • 02.17.11
but rather from UMass, Boston University, Smith College and other schools in the area. The speakers were also from diverse locations. Some, like Paz Olivérez, an educator in southern California, flew in from across the country. The morning began with a few opening remarks and a panel on leadership, followed by workshops such as “First Impressions: How to Ace an Interview” with Evelyn Barahona, a marketing officer in Boston. Nélida García ’14, who attended the workshop and is the freshman representative for LU, said that she enjoyed “First Impressions” because of the interaction Barahona encouraged amongst the participators. “She made us go around and say what we wanted to study and asked us what we wanted to get out of the workshop. She catered to what we asked for. We talked about how to interview without sounding overly cocky, and she also told us how to address our strengths and our weaknesses in an interview. She told us to answer with qualities that may have seemed like weaknesses to us but would be strengths to an employer; for example, telling the interviewer that you are a ‘perfectionist’ or that you are ‘impatient’ reflect positive qualities in an employee.” The crowd then moved downstairs to enjoy a delicious lunch and a presentation by the keynote speaker, Marcela García. García is the editor of El Planeta, the largest Hispanic newspaper in Massachusetts and one of the largest in the Northeast. García
Maria Barragan-Santana / INDEPENDENT
related her personal story in order to relay a larger message of following one’s passion to find inspiration and success. She declared that good things come to those who do what they love, and that things will just fall into place as a consequence. However, she didn’t underestimate the challenges that came with finding success. She gracefully admitted that moving from México to Boston to pursue her journalism career was one of the hardest things she had ever done, but retrospectively, she admires her own dedication to achieve that goal for which she had sacrificed greatly. García was both inspiring and downto-earth, causing her to appear more identifiable and genuine to those to whom she spoke. A second panel titled “Service — Making a Difference from the Bottom to the Top” followed García’s speech. The members of this panel responded to questions that Latinas Unidas had formulated in order to get a sense of why the members of the panels joined their respective fields and the significance that their work had to them. The panel spanned legal services, education advocacy, immigration aid, and volunteer organizations dedicated to allowing Latinos, both American and nonresident, to succeed in every aspect of their lives. That which each speaker found poignantly imperative was the involvement of the future leaders of the Latina community in bettering their communities through service, legal assistance, and advocacy. One
workshop, “Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders” with Paz Olivérez, focused primarily on the importance of Latino presence in education policy. Olivérez pointed out that not only could Latinas affect change within the educational system, but also by simply acquiring higher education as a Latina could inspire younger generations to follow suit. In the current political environment, the people who make themselves known are those who are determined to undermine the civil rights of all of those who desire to reap the full benefits of American citizenship. It is easy to ignore the multitudes of people in this country who have dedicated their lives to doing things that are good and right for humanity. At this year’s LEAD conference, we were able to experience firsthand the passion of these women and their dedication to alleviating the hurt the Latino community has experienced. Whether it was immigration rights or educational access, each speaker had her own inspiration, and the students who attended the conference felt the resounding messages of those who had come before them on a beautiful Saturday to inspire a willingness to assist the Latino community. Each student left feeling not only empowered, but also determined to fulfill her duty as one of the Latina leaders of tomorrow. Christine Wolfe ’14 (cwolfe@college) wants to send a big shout-out to Latinas Unidas! firstname.lastname@example.org
You Got What I Need By ANGELA SONG Joshua Radin impresses at the House of Blues.
It is rare that I find an artist who sounds much better live than hearing his songs flowing through my headphones. Joshua Radin is probably best known as a singer whose work has been featured on The Last Kiss and dozens of TV shows such as Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, as well as being the man specially requested to sing for Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding. His songs always add as much poignant meaning to a beautiful scene as the actors do themselves. The chance to see him live and feel the emotion he evokes reverberate and surround me was almost surreal.
native Canadian, Allen’s music has already rocked the charts for months in his home country, and here’s hoping that his current tour will spark a larger fan following for Allen soon. On the other hand, Justin Nozuka, the second of the opening acts, greatly disappointed. The more well-known of the pair of openers, he seemed to jump right in and rush through his songs without the flair Allen brought to introducing every song with a funny story to engage the crowd. Though his style is very similar to Radin’s — slow, crooning melodies — Nozuka failed to impress. He
Angela Song / INDEPENDENT
electric guitar over his favored acoustic. However, these intervening tracks lack the cohesive elegance that Radin’s signature “whisperrock” seem to have. Although I believe any artist’s venture into experimentation with their sound is bold, in this case, I prefer Radin’s traditional strengths with sweet strings, lightly strummed guitar, and gentle vocals. The phrase ‘hauntingly beautiful’ is probably a cliché, but perfectly describes Radin’s mellow lyrical style perfectly, as his soulful vocals evoke memories of falling in and out of love. Perhaps Radin’s rendition of “Wanted” from his new album The Rock and the Tide defines the entire ambiance best. With his guitar casually strung across his back and hands thrust in his pockets, his eyes searched the crowd, lingering on different sections and drawing the audience into his performance. Halfway in, his hands came up to cup the microphone and with his eyes closed, he finished the song to a collective breathless sigh from his fans. Or maybe that was just me. Angela Song ’14 (angelasong@ college) has decided that if you’re going to be single the weekend of Valentine’s Day, you might as well be serenaded by Joshua Radin.
Wondering What to Do This Weekend?
Our top picks of the Harvard art scene. Andrew Allen was an enthusiastic opening complement to Radin’s more laid-back melodies. With a wide grin and an engaging personality, it did not matter that I had never heard of him before. With only one song in, his catchy choruses, steady beats, and incredibly spirited stage presence had the crowd singing and dancing along. There was an upbeat and carefree quality to his selection of songs. His music perfect to bounce along to and he had his audience “aww”ing in sync after every line of his new single “Sooner.” A 8
could not bring the life to his music that Radin was able to, and his choruses became repetitive and sluggish. The headlining setlist incorporated songs from all three of Radin’s albums, but the major focus was on his latest release. His new album The Rock and the Tide featured an attempt to depart from his typical image as an acoustic singer/songwriter with several tracks that picked up the tempo for a faster-paced rock sound. Onstage, he attempted the same shift, switching to a rougher
By ZENA MARIAM MENGESHA
RIDAY Boston Ballet Dance Talk: A free event at the Harvard Dance center (60 Garden Street), this event will feature both performance and discussion. A must-see for anyone interested in ballet, dancers from the Boston Ballet will perform contemporary choreography by Jorma Elo and William Forsyth, which will be discussed by Director Mikko Nissinen and others. 02.17.11 • The Harvard Independent
Pearls, Limes and Valentines: This Friday, you can experience two great a capella groups in one place. The Harvard Din and Tonics and the Radcliffe Pitches present “a warm, chocolaty serenade” for you and your Valentine just in case you didn’t get enough of a sugar rush on Monday. The event starts at 8PM in Sanders Theater and is priced at $12.00 regular admission, $8.00 for students. SATURDAY AJAX by Sophocles: presented by the ART, this “poignant examination of how war affects the mind of a solider” follows Sophocles’ hero Ajax struggle with both physical and psychological damage. Brutally contemporary, this work explores the themes of veteran struggles in a new and important way. Translated by Charles Connaghan and directed by Sarah Benson, the show runs through March 13th. “Single tickets can be purchased on line at www. AmericanRepertoryTheater.org, by phone at 617-547-8300, or in person at the A.R.T. Box Office, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. For more information on Memberships go to http://www. americanrepertorytheater.org/ membership. Recommended for mature 12-year olds and above” Il Giardino Armonico, BEMF: This eight person Italian ensemble was founded in 1985 and comes to Sanders Theater this weekend to perform “sonatas and concerti by Venetian Baroque masters.” This is sure to be a treat — the show starts at 8PM with a free pre-concert talk at 7PM. Admission is $66, $49, $38, $19 and students and seniors enjoy a $5 discount. SUNDAY The Boston Conservatory Orchestra: Although the program is still to be decided, it is sure to be excellent. It will be preceded by a 1PM lecture with Dr. Elizabeth Seitz. Admission is $15, $10 for students, seniors, alumni, and WGBH members. Howie the Rookie: This chilling play centers around Irish street gangs and features the monologues of two men, The Howie Lee and the Rookie Lee, who each relate a twisting, turning story of accident, revenge, murder and more. Showing in the Loeb Experimental Theater (64 Brattle Street) at 7pm. To reserve your free tickets, e-mail email@example.com Zena Mengesha ’14 (mengesha@ college) is gearing up for a weekend of artistic indulgence.
Plunge into Darkness
A review of Sanctum. By SAYANTAN DEB
hen you hear the name James Cameron, the executive producer of Sanctum, a lot of qualities come into mind — technological prowess, mind-blowing special effects, breathtaking cinematography, thrilling background score, and sometimes, even great performances. Novel ideas or heartfelt storylines, however, are not his forte. Beyond being a technological marvel in the nineties, was Titanic really more than a sappy love story? The same can be said for
think Jurassic Park without the iconic background score). Then the characters jump into the cave, and so does the movie. The mantra of the movie seems to be, “Listen to Frank, or die.” Reminiscent of a nineties slasher flick, the movie does little to rise beyond the cliché. The demigod Frank knows the best about these caves, and whoever dares defy him ultimately faces death. So are there faults to this character? Absolutely — he has been a bad father, he can’t communicate his feelings, and his son hates
The mantra of the movie seems to be, “Listen to Frank, or die.” Avatar, which again, pushed the technology of filmmaking to new limits, but boasted of a script that can best be described as a rehashed version of Pocahontas meets An Inconvenient Truth. In this context, Sanctum doesn’t disappoint. Based on the real life neardeath experience of co-writer Andrew Wright, the movie tells the story of an experienced cave diver, Frank, his seventeenyear-old rebellious son, Josh, a cocky businessman, Carl, and his tomboyish girlfriend who get trapped in an unexplored cave system because of a storm. The rest of the movie is about these four principal characters and how they fight for survival in the cave system. The first half hour of the movie is decent. The characters are established at the onset, and there is a brilliant helicopter sequence (nothing novel —
The Harvard Independent • 02.17.11
him. Do we really need another dysfunctional father-son relationship this year? Richard Roxburgh, as Frank, emotes his part well, which ironically doesn’t demand much from him in terms of emotions. The other actors are also at par with Roxburgh’s performance: they are emotionless, and if they do decide to try their hands at histrionics (like Carl, when he becomes paranoid), they are melodramatic, bordering on the humorous. So are there any redeeming qualities to the movie? Yes, plenty actually. The movie is technically sound. The 3-D effect is used quite well, and considering it is the same technology that was used in Avatar, this comes as no surprise. The real locations for at least some of the cave sequences work well, giving the movie at least an organic
feel, something that is desperately missing from the characters. The cinematography and the underwater camerawork are truly splendid. On the flipside, how many caves, and underwater tunnels can the audience see without getting tired of the monotonous setting? There is little variation in lighting, and while this works to add to the claustrophobic setting of the movie, it doesn’t manage to hold the audience’s interest. Even the sort-of-triumphantending doesn’t really mitigate the flaws of the movie. (Spoiler alert!) When the only surviving character finds a way out, the audience has already lost interest. In fact, one of the major faults with the movie is that none of the characters connect to the audience, and so when they die (or survive), the
audience is generally apathetic. Add to that a weak story line and subpar acting, and one does wonder what Cameron was thinking when casting. The casting is completely lackluster. First-time director, Alister Grierson, however, does his job well in executing the material. One wonders what he could do if only he were able to draw out better performances from his cast or was given better material. There is a cliché that applies quite well to Sanctum: “All that shines isn’t gold.” Sanctum, with all of its visual and technical merits and little soul, unfortunately, upholds this cliché. Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@ b@college) had a much better time having coffee at Starbucks after the movie ended.
The Roommate An horrific portrayal of college craziness. By WEIKE WANG
o the box office says that the Roommate is currently America’s number 1 movie. Well, America’s wrong. The Roommate, directed by Christian E. Christiansen, has entertainment value and very little else. It is slated as a psychological thriller and delivers a vague form of that— there is a psycho who thrills in offing people. But worthy elements of movie credibility such as purpose, good screenwriting, good acting, were lost somewhere between preproduction and release. The story line follows that attractive college girl A, (Minka Kelly), moves in with attractive college girl B (Leighton Meester). The two of then bond over skim lattes and bedazzled accessories, as girl roommates usually do, and swap sob stories to affirm their mutual angst. It helps that A and B look alike, otherwise the poignancy of their sisterhood would have been lost altogether. College girl B turns out to be a nut case with major attachment issues, abuse issues, daddy issues? The movie never specifies. But we can assume from the brief flash of pills that A has psychological issues. The unraveling of roomie haven to roomie hell is predictable and showcases the hair pulling skills of both A and B—boyfriends play a hand here and there, but the main
oomph of the film is given to the dames. In hindsight, I can respect the fact that male interference is kept at bay because for us ladies, sometimes it is a girl eat girl world. On the other hand, I cannot vouch for the performance of anyone else in the movie except Meester who tantalizes her villainy with heavy lids and a seductive pout. Meester’s character commits deeds with a sweet deadpan that only provokes interest. But the movie offers no elaboration, no back-story, no mess. I want mess. Meester also doesn’t have much material to work with especially playing opposite Kelly whose mousy voice deserves fair punishment in itself. Because the high drama antics of A and B’s college lives are far removed from my own blocking group shenanigans, the film is a permissible break from reality if you go in with lowered expectations. I watched the Roommate with my roommate but it’s not a date movie, or one I’ll remember next year (next month?). Nevertheless, for the length of 1h 45min, I was amused, entertained and only checked my phone twice. Weike Wang 11’ is taking pointers from the film to be a better roommate. She advises Lorena Lama 11’ to lock her door.
Maria Barragan-Sanatana / INDEPENDENT
An exploration of Music 159.
s that Ravi Shankar tuning up in there?” The answer, simply put, is no. Professor Richard Wolf is somewhat accustomed to trivial questions like these, but his new course delves far deeper into the music of Southern India than this simple pop culture reference suggests. It turns out Ravi Shankar isn’t even mentioned in a course like Music 159 (South Indian Music Theory and Practice), seeing as he was born into the North Indian musical tradition. Mistakes like these are common among the ordinary music aficionado (myself included), but after sitting down with Professor Wolf last week, I quickly realized that Indian music was much more complex and intricate than the stereotype it has been given in the States: long-haired vagabonds sitting in a circle plucking strange apparatus that look more like antiques than musical instruments. The music of India may have been popularized in America after the success of Ravi Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, but the students in Music 159 are not expecting a social evaluation of the influence of Indian music. In fact, the social and cultural aspects associated with music take a distant backseat to — what else — the music. “Music 159 is not a ‘190’ type of course,” notes Professor Wolf. “There is less of an emphasis on the culture of South India, and more of a focus on concert music.” The performance aspect of the course is emphasized by weekly, hands-on lessons. Students do not learn to play the popularized Indian sitar, but rather the veena — a stringed instrument whose oscillating sound is only
outmatched by its stunning aesthetics. The culmination of the hands-on training will come in the form of two concerts to be played later on in the semester after the handful of students (there are only 5 in the class) fulfills the necessary preparations. In India, it normally takes 3 years for a musician to acquire both the ability and courage to perform in front of their peers, but the quintet of future showmen seem up to the task. As I quietly observed one of the weekly lessons last week, the similarities to that stereotypical image were striking. Yes, the group of two students and the professor were sitting in a semi-circle. Yes, they did happen to be sitting on a “magic carpet,” and yes, it did sound like Ravi Shankar was tuning up in there. That, however, was the end of the line. As soon as Professor Wolf lead the way through the review of typical Carnatic scales (another name for South Indian music), I realized that there was a sense of dedication and focus that had been absent from my preconceived notions. Attention to detail was a requirement in learning how to play the veena. Whether it was figuring out the right amount of oil to douse one’s fingers with or getting the correct oscillation while running through the scales, focusing on the nitty-gritty aspects of the music is a necessary aspect of Music 159 that contributes to the new, more serious, flavor of the course. Music 159 may be a “new” course, but South Indian music is nothing new at Harvard, especially to Professor Wolf. Having accomplished extensive fieldwork in India developing his skills with the veena, Professor Wolf’s forte is Carnatic music. Since joining the music department at Harvard in 1999, Professor Wolf has witnessed the evolution
of music at Harvard through the “embracing of a wider diversity in [musical] traditions” due in part to a growing ethnomusicology department. The culmination of this worldly, yet seemingly slow, process can be seen in Music 159. For the first time, students are performing the music of South India. For the first time, students will be giving not one, but two performances during the course of the semester. Not only will the students perform, but they will be accompanied by Professor Wolf and an assortment of other Carnatic musicians. And no, Ravi Shankar is not among them. Listening to that unique tone and type of modal music, however, makes it hard for the casual music fan not to think of Mr. Shankar. After taking some wwwtime to sit in with the participants of Music 159, I have realized that Shankar is to Carnatic music as Jack Johnson is to rap: they may both be Indian or American respectively, but the similarities stop there. For me, music is about finding something new and running with it. I may look like a fool dashing around the yard with the cumbersome veena in my hands, but I think you get the point. Music 159 dives headfirst into the components of South Indian music, taking breaks only to tune the finicky instruments. The passion and commitment exhibited by Professor Wolf and his students are to be appreciated by music fans and non-music fans alike, and I applaud the effort. For those of you interested in broadening your own musical horizons, the performance will be on March 30 at 7:15 in the Tsai Auditorium in CGIS South (S-010) at 1730 Cambridge Street. It will be free and open to public. Yes, Brad Rose ’14 (brose@college) was the one you saw running through the yard with the veena last week. What of it?
Maria Barragan-Sanatana / INDEPENDENT
02.17.11 • The Harvard Independent
The Ebb and Flow of Crimson Tides By BRETT MICHAEL GIBLIN
The structure of college athletics are a central reason for trends in performance.
arvard has a long and storied program of collegiate athletics. History is something that Harvard is familiar with, a byproduct of the age of the university and in this case an early embrace of the benefits of gentlemanly exercise. Naturally, the athletics program evolved over time, and as the number of teams grew, their success levels have varied periodically. The fact that the fortunes of the Crimson vary may seem like an obvious fact, but the cause of this ebb and flow is rarely cause for reflection. This struck me as interesting when I had just returned from a men’s basketball game (which they had just won decisively), and was listening to a men’s hockey game on WHRB. The broadcasting team had invited an alumnus into the booth who had called the Crimson’s games in the decade earlier. He mused that it was incredible that Harvard Basketball was relevant again, both on campus and nationally. In his time at Harvard, the men’s hockey team was in the national spotlight, near the top of the conference every year, while the basketball team languished near the bottom of the Ivy League standings. This brings us to the question of whether there is an easily identifiable trend that shows the meteoric rise of the basketball team in the past few years versus the steady decline of the Crimson Hockey team to the very bottom of the ECAC. Although this is obviously a very complicated process with innumerable human elements, I would like to posit a simple explanation for much of the reason. The most reliable predictive measure of success in college athletics is recruiting. I am not talking so much about the media hyped, ranking fueled frenzy glamorized by ESPN and Scouts, Inc. where numbers and simple physical statistics of high school athletes supposedly map out championships for years to come. Rather, recruiting as I define it is the ability of a coach to bring in student athletes that demonstrate talent on both the field of play while remaining viable in their school and social environments. For instance, recruiting is an entirely different game when a coach is able to recruit athletes The Harvard Independent • 02.17.11
who show elite talent, but are only nominal students—those who are not expected to graduate, take real classes, or function within the confines of being a normal scholar-athlete without exceptional perks—than it is for a coach who cares about his recruit’s success outside of the game as well. Recruiting is obviously a numbers game—the more talented recruits you have, the easier it is to find those who will perform at a championship level. As such, it is much more difficult for coaches at elite academic schools to sustain a long run of contention in sports which they must find many students to fill out their rosters than very few. Looking around the NCAA landscape in revenue generating sports for instance, a trend is easily observed. Stanford’s recent BCS Bowl win notwithstanding, schools with elite academic standards have had trouble maintaining success in football, which has rosters in excess of eighty players, whereas these same schools have had sustained runs of contention in basketball, where the rosters are limited to twelve scholarship players. Villanova, Duke, and UCLA are perfect examples of this dichotomy. Whereas UCLA has not been to a BCS bowl game in many years, Duke Maria Barragan-Sanatana / INDEPENDENT has not made a bowl game, and Villanova (like Harvard) resides in a lower division (albeit while team and the institution than it is for experiencing some recent success), Coach Ted Donato to find the many their basketball programs flourished more athletes for his Division I hockey and were consistently in the ranked program. It is worth noting that the in the top ten form most of the decade. football program generally measures The simple fact is that it is much easier itself on a different standard, since to find twelve scholar-athletes, who they do not compete in playoffs, and can perform at a championship level since no school in its league gives in the classroom and community, as scholarships the recruiting base is well as on the field, than it is to find much more homogenous. eighty-five young men or women of the So although there are certainly same caliber. Even though Harvard anomalies (such as Yale’s Hockey does not give out scholarships, the success this year), when evaluating a problem remains the same. It is easier teams’ or coaches’ performance across for Coach Tommy Amaker to find sports, one has to take into account young men who fit both his basketball the team within the constraints of
the sport and the University. So although we have many fine athletes on all of our teams at Harvard, their accomplishments should be weighed in more than wins and losses. They are special people who would not be here if they were solely athletic talents. As always, I encourage all to come out to home contests and root on all of Harvard’s scholar-athletes, both as players and as people. Brett Michael Giblin ’11 (bmgiblin@fas) wishes only success for all of the Crimson teams, and is proud of their contributions on the field, whether they win or lose. firstname.lastname@example.org
captured & shot By MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA