The Miscellany News
Volume CXLVII | Issue 9
November 21, 2013
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Town Hall incites dissagreement Special election to decide new VP for Student Life S Maggie Jeffers reporter
enior members of the Administration called a town hall meeting that took place on Monday Nov. 18. The event, moderated by Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Julian Williams and Nicole Wong ’15, functioned as grounds for dialogue between Vassar students, faculty and administrators. Administrators President Cath-
erine Hill, Dean of the College Chris Roellke, Acting Dean of the Faculty Stephen Rock and Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources Marianne Begemann served on the panel. The meeting sparked heated debates on issues of academic requirement and bias incidents, while also featuring criticisms of the administration’s actions for inclusion and equity. The event began with short open-
ing remarks by Vassar Student Association president Deb Steinberg ‘14, who stressed the importance of shared governance and noted that the town hall meeting epitomized this idea. Following opening remarks the event was opened up to the audience to allow direct questioning. The first string of questions focused on potential curricular changes, and were directed mostly See TOWN HALL on page 4
Cassady Bergevin/The Miscellany News
President of the College, Catharine Hill, and other administrators, hold a town hall meeting with students in order to discuss various topics including a social justice requirement, and a limit on multiple majors or correlates.
Bethan Johnson editor-iN-CHieF
fter the unexpected resignation from the Vice President for Student Life, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) called a special session of Council on Nov. 19 to decide how to fill the vacant position. Upon the recommendation of the Board Of Elections, the VSA unanimously voted to hold a special election, which will guarantee a new VP for Student Life by the beginning of Thanksgiving Break. Students gained the ability to register their candidacy just before midnight on Tuesday and can continue to do
so until Sunday, Nov. 24 at 7:00 p.m. Unlike the standard election cycle that takes place each spring, this election will collapse the process into one time line. According to Vice President for Operations Ali Ehrlich ’15, “We decided in order to fill the position as quickly as possible, given that Thanksgiving Break was coming up quickly and that this was a very essential position to council and to the campus as a whole, we would have a filling and campaigning period begin at the same time.” The voting period for this special elecSee ELECTION on page 4
Capstone projects help sum up Vassar careers Aja Saalfeld
very year there is a new batch of seniors striving to make thesis meetings, slogging through their drama projects and struggling through rehearsals, among a whole variety of other capstone projects, works that should wrap up a student’s four years at Vassar. The value of capstone projects has been a part of ongoing discussion at Vassar among the student body and administration, and one of the topics of
biggest concern is whether a capstone requirement should be instituted. “There is ongoing discussion within the faculty, initiated last year by Dean of the Faculty Jon Chenette, regarding the possibility of a capstone requirement. Much of the work is currently being conducted by a subcommittee of the Committee on Curricular Policies,” wrote Acting Dean of Faculty Steve Rock in an emailed statement. Connor Martini ‘14 is one student See CAPSTONE on page 14
FLLAC to highlight Men’s rugby advances to playoffs black female identity T Jonathan Saﬁr reporter
Jack Owen Arts editor
aleidoscope, a lecture series that joins a group of Vassar professors once a semester to discuss a work of art from the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, is back after a yearlong hiatus. This semester’s discussion, Mickalene Thomas: Photographing Black Femininity, will be moderated by Professor of English Eve Dunbar, with presentations by Professor
of Drama Kenisha Kelly, Professor of Film Mia Mask and Professor of Art Didier William. The group will present their analyses of Mickalene Thomas’ work Tamika sur une chaise lounge (2008), a photograph the Loeb recently acquired. Mickalene Thomas, a renowned New York City-based artist, is known for her paintings infused with bright acrylics, See KALEIDOSCOPE on page 16
Inside this issue
Campus responds to rise in bias incidents
NaNoWriMo a creative outlet for FEATURES Vassar authors
courtesy of Vassar College Athletics
courtesy of blackartistnews
The work of Mickalene Thomas, pictured above, will be discussed by a panel comprised of faculty members from different departments.
his year’s season has earned the Vassar College men’s rugby team a solid winning record of 8-2 and, with only one losing season since 2000, the team’s storied successes will continue this weekend in National playoffs vs. James Madison University. Even with such astounding recent wins coming into the Fall 2013 season, the team’s goal was to make it to the conference playoffs. In an emailed statement, Head Coach Tony Brown admitted, “My expectations at the start of the fall included being a top four team, but when we lost Akeel St. Vil [’13] I was not quite so sure.” Senior co-captain Andrew Jdaydani seconded the sentiment that, although the team has confidence, men’s rugby does not underestimate the challenges ahead. “I thought top four would be easy to get to,” Jdaydani wrote in an emailed statement. “Then from there, our character would be tested.” In fact, according to players, the two losses early in the season against Seton Hall University and Fairfield University sparked the team’s drive to make it to playoffs. Jdaydani reflected, “The season started off great with a shutout, but turned sour with two big losses. Although those two losses were our only losses, moving forward there was the big question of playoffs.” Coach Brown also referenced those two losses. “Obviously, winning the conference was a very satisfying achievement because we lost two games early on and had to battle just to make the top four and the playoffs,” See RUGBY on page 18
Senior co-captain Karl Foley leads the team to playoffs this season. Men’s rugby will compete at James Madison University for the National Championship title.
Curtis’ time-travel flick invigorates old formula
The Miscellany News
November 21, 2013
Attention Students! The following Editorial Board positions of The Miscellany News are now open for the Spring 2014 semester. Applications are due November 27, 2013 at 5 p.m. Applications are available on The Miscellany News website. News Editor
The News Editor is responsible for covering campus news each week, teaching staﬀ members about news writing and assigning reporters to cover news events.
ThePhoto Editor receives photo assignments from all editors, and recruits and delegates photographers to cover those assignments.
Editors-in-Chief Chris Gonzalez Bethan Johnson
Senior Editors Chris Gonzalez Steven Williams
The Features Editor is responsible for assigning feature stories about people, issues, lectures and anything pertinent to Vassar students, including oﬀ-campus events.
The Arts Editor is responsible for covering dance, art, music, theater, literature and movies both on and oﬀ campus.
The Copy Editor is responsible for reading each section to check for style, clarity, punctuation and length.
The Opinions Editor is responsible for letters, columns and opinions pieces.
News Noble Ingram Features Aja Saalfeld Opinions Angela Della Croce Joshua Sherman Humor & Satire Lily Doyle Arts Jack Owen Sports Christopher Brown Tina Caso Photography Cassady Bergevin Spencer Davis Design Palak Patel Social Media Alessandra Seiter Crossword Editor Assistant Features Assistant Arts Assistant Sports Assistant Photo
Jack Mullan Eloy Bleifuss Prados Margaret Yap Luka Laden Jacob Heydorn Gorski Jiajing Sun Assistant Social Media Youngeun “Ellis” Kim Victoria Bachurska Business Manager David Rosenkranz
Editorial Board positions are open to any student who has been a part of The Miscellany News.
Banned books demonstrate literary power Alessandra Seiter
soCiAl mediA editor
courtesy of Half-Price Books
Although Banned Books Week–an annual weeklong celebration of the freedom to read–already occurred in September, it is always relevant to think about issues of censorship and book banning, both in the United States and countries around the world. While banning books might seem like a practice of the past–challenged by modern, progressive ideas of intellectual expression–hundred of complaints and challenges to different titles (over 464 in 2012) are reported by the American Library Association each year. Over 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982. I remember seeing posters for Banned Books Week in my middle and high-school libraries, covered in pictures of popular titles–like Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye–that were currently or had previously been taken off of library shelves. Many of the novels that are consistently challenged are those that contain sexually explicit language or scenes, such as Looking For Alaska by John Green and Beloved by Toni Morrison. Books with “offensive language,” such as Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, also often face challenges. Opponents of the Harry Potter series have criticized the books as “Satanist” or “cult” works, while Aldous Huxley’s acclaimed novel Brave New World has been challenged on almost all possible grounds, being labeled overly sexually explicit, offensive, racist, and religiously offensive. Read about the rest of the Alessandra’s blogpost There have been roughly 11,000 books banned or challenged in the United and other blogs, on the Main Circle blog at States since 1982. A large number of said books are considered literary classics. miscellanynews.com
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Ruth Bolster Adam Buchsbaum Jessica Tarantine
Reporters Emma Daniels Charlacia Dent Emily Hoﬀman Anna Iovine Maggie Jeﬀers Samantha Kohl Jonathan Safir Columnists Natasha Bertrand Delaney Fischer Zach Rippe Max Rook Lily Sloss Eli J. Vargas I Design Bethany Terry Kelly Yu Online Rachel Dorn Copy Alex Bue Elizabeth Dean Sophie Kosmacher Christian Lewis Tori Madway Macall McQueen Ashley Pecorelli Marya Pasciuto Camilla Pfeiﬀer Emma Roellke Rebecca Weir LETTERS POLICY The Miscellany News is Vassar College’s weekly open forum for discussion of campus, local and national issues, and welcomes letters and opinions submissions from all readers. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 450 words, and they usually respond to a particular item or debate from the previous week’s issue. Opinions articles are longer pieces, up to 800 words, and take the form of a longer column. No letter or opinions article may be printed anonymously. If you are interested in contributing, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 21, 2013
Consortium lobbies for social justice in higher education Shelia Hu & Debbie Altman Guest reporters
courtesy of Class NYC
ast weekend, Nov 15-16, Vassar hosted the Consortium on Higher Education and Success (CHAS) Black and Latino Males Conference, which brought over 100 students from all over the country to discuss the issues and setbacks students of color face in colleges and universities as well as possible solutions. CHAS describes their mission statement as: “to promote high achievement, leadership, and personal satisfaction of students on member campuses, with a focus on promoting success of students of color”. CHAS has been in operation since 2000 and is now represented in 26 liberal arts schools around the country including Haverford College, Pomona College and Wellesley College. The CHAS event, entitled “Sisterhood: Who Am I? Who Are We Together?” took place earlier this year and was hosted at the College of the Holy Cross from Sept. 27 to 30. This was CHAS’s first conference for women of color and six Vassar students attended. Member institutions share the belief that all students have the capabilities to succeed and it is the role of school administrators to provide aid with the barriers they face on the way to success. Not only do member institutions focus on academic life, but also socio-cultural differences and financial needs. Although their explicit goal is to help students of color pass institutional barriers, the group states that its actions and goals will benefit all students at the institutions. CHAS argues that each individual has a role to play in that they can make others feel empowered and motivated to succeed. With these aspirations, Vassar welcomed students of CHAS institutions to the semi-annual consortium representative meetings. The conference was a three-day event that included featured speakers, workshops and performances. Among the featured speakers was Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at The City College of New York R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy and Brothers Writing to Live, a group
of black cis- and trans-male writers. Anthony Choquette ’17 praised the topics covered in the conference. “We discussed this concept of ‘stereotype threat’ which occurs especially when Latino, African American, or any other minority student for that matter, is thrown into an environment with predominantly white students, usually upper class,” he explained. “The concept of ‘stereotype threat,’ which is the feeling that the stereotypes are always going to be there, impedes upon your ability to express yourself or feel comfortable or feel like you’re welcome there.” Lafayette College student Kofi Boateng expressed his amazement at the community that CHAS is able to provide a space for and promote. In an emailed statement, Boateng wrote, “As a student of a predominantly white institution, it was great to be able to see the unity of people of color like myself get together and talk about pressing issues that allow us to advance ourselves and myriad institutions.” In particular, the conference stressed the need for colleges and universities to recognize how the lack of diversity on campus impacts the learning environment and what sort of measures might be taken to alleviate these negative experiences for students of color. These questions have long troubled Vassar’s campus and were frequently referenced in this week’s town hall meeting with administrators. “The lack of minorities on campus may result in an exclusion factor within the campuses themselves; clicks and separations may start to form as minorities may try to find others like them that they think will relate to their experiences on an campus that is already lacking in people that look like them,” Boateng continued. “Universities need to actively recruit the groups of people that are lacking on their campus, but should not select students for the sake of adding them to their ‘diversity numbers.’” One of CHAS’s priorities involves creating an open discourse between students from a wide range of universities. Choquette said interacting with attendees
Students visiting Vassar from colleges across the country as part of the Consortium of Higher Acheivement and Success (CHAS) Black and Latino Males Conference attend a concert on campus. and speakers only deepened his understanding. He noted, “they have the scholars come in and the scholars talk to us about statistics and how we can progress and how we can’t be held back by all these structural impediments that have been forced upon us but when you hear it from people who had it rough, you know what I mean, real rough, you’re able to make those interpersonal connections and that’s where things are really put into perspective.” The opportunity to get to know other students is not limited to the workshops and meetings that take place during the conference schedule. At the end of each day, students from participating universities were invited the JunglePussy concert and Dormal Formal. Choquette said, “It was really cool because it wasn’t very awkward, I thought that going to an event with Vassar kids, we were just going
to have to interact when they forced us to do activities, but it wasn’t like that at all. They sent us there and I sat at a table with a bunch of kids from SUNY and Swarthmore. The Swarthmore kids stayed that Saturday night so we took them to see the Vassar party life and it was cool.” Overall, most people felt positively about their experience at the conference. Nonetheless, Boateng pointed out how the issues that CHAS seeks to address still require more action and attention if they wish to achieve long-term change. He noted, “The goals of this conference was accomplished, but the mission has not. What will determine the impact of the conference will be whether we student leaders that attended are able to translate what we learned. It’s one thing to learn something valuable, but another to turn that valuable experience into something that will have a lasting impact.”
Scholar compares LGBTQ movements of U.S. and Cuba Anna Iovine & Emily Hoffman reporters
n Monday, Nov. 18, Poder Latin@ and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC) hosted a lecture called, “From Imprisonment to Acceptance: the GLBT Movement in Cuba,” presented by scholar and PhD candidate at Simmons College of Social Work, Wilfred W. Labiosa. “This lecture came about after Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, Diane Harriford, received the opportunity to travel to Cuba with Wilfred Labiosa this past May,” explained Poder Latin@ member Jeremy Garza ’14 in an emailed statement. “Upon return from her trip, Na’Imah Petigny, myself, and other executive members of Poder Latin@ decided it would be a wonderful idea to bring Wilfred to Vassar to speak about his dissertation research on the LGBTQ Movement in Cuba.”
Labiosa, originally from Puerto Rico, took an interest in Cuba because people often told him, “Puerto Rico and Cuba are two wings of the same bird.” According to Labiosa, he wanted to explore the other wing. During his time in Cuba, Labiosa worked with the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and its director Mariela Castro Espín, who was also the daughter of the current Cuban president Raúl Castro and the niece of Fidel Castro. While in Cuba, Labiosa also interviewed survivors of Castro’s concentration camps. These camps, Labiosa explained, were for anyone who was classified as “different”—homosexuals included. Labiosa began the lecture by presenting a short film made by CENESEX highlighting LGBT rights in Cuba. The video displayed footage from Cuba’s 2009 “Day Against Homophobia,” like a parade and drag queen performances. This celebratory footage
courtesy of massequality
Scholar and Ph.D candidate at Simmons College for Social Work Willfred W. Labiosa, pictured above, visited the College to host a lecture on LGBTQ struggles and successes in Cuba.
was intercut with other Cubans berating homosexuality and the LGBT community. “Obviously, our primary goal in this lecture was education about an extremely progressive and visible queer movement and community in Cuba that has gone from varying extremes. As indicated in the title of the lecture ‘From Imprisonment to Acceptance: the LGBTQ Movement in Cuba,’ there have been revolutionary turns in the attitude and treatment of the LGBTQ community in Cuba, that far surpasses—both in innovation and in loud focus on the transgender community—the movement here in the United States,” Garza admitted. He continued, “With Queer and Trans people of color comprising the most marginalized individuals both on these camps and in U.S. American society at large, we sought to learn from the experiences and history of the LGBTQ community in Cuba.” After the video, Labiosa spoke briefly about Cuban history in general, then focused specifically on the history of LGBTQ rights in Cuba. Before and after the Cuban Revolution, he pointed out, homosexuality was considered prostitution and, therefore, a crime. By the 1990s, however, Cuban laws did not mention homosexuality at all. Labiosa brought up Cuban writer Renaldo Arenas and the film Fresas y Chocolate as two catalysts that brought attention to LGBTQ struggle for social justice in Cuba and elsewhere in the larger world. Garza noted the connections that were present in this event. “This semester Poder Latin@ has made it a priority to both focus on the intersections of the Latin@ community and to strengthen our ties to with other student organizations on campus through event collaboration,” he said. He continued, emphasizing the strengths of the event and the speaker. “Furthermore, after both reaching out to Wilfred Labiosa and consulting with Professor Harriford, we decided to also organize a coalition of 12 Vassar students who will travel to Cuba with Wilfred this upcoming May on a special 11 day trip with
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CENESEX. This is an extremely exciting, educational, and humanitarian trip to Cuba where we will be traveling with Mariela Castro herself (the leader of the LGBTQ movement in Cuba) from Havana all the way to Santiago de Cuba, making several stops along the way as we participate in the Cuban National Campaign Against Homophobia,” he said. Garza continued, “Besides the educational component of this lecture, we also wanted to advertise about the student organized Vassar trip to Cuba. Before and after the lecture, potential participants of the trip got to meet with Wilfred personally to discuss all the components of the excursion.” Drury McAlarney ’16 heard about the lecture after receiving an email from QCVC. He said, “I’ve been studying Spanish as a language for a while so I’m interested in what goes on in Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries, especially in relation to queer issues.” McAlarney went on to explain, “I know of Reinaldo Arenas and his memoir, but that was the extent of my knowledge of LGBTQ community in Cuba...It was really enlightening.” McAlarney also compared the policies that exist in the US to those in Cuba. He said, “It’s interesting to learn that in some respects Cuba is more progressive than the United States.” Dallas Robinson ’15 also appreciated the topic, most notably its ability to discuss issues of sexuality outside of America’s borders. She noted, “International movements about sexuality and progressive thinking towards sex is a wonderful thing. The work Wilfred Labiosa does is important to everyone. Especially people like Vassar students, with our privilege and liberal arts backgrounds we can learn from this work and participate in similar efforts.” She continued, “I think Labiosa presented a new image of Cuba. I had no idea of the LGBTQ scene there and it sounds so much more progressive than that of the US. I also think trans* issues were highlighted in Wilfred’s lecture, which is great because trans* issues are just starting to take a forefront on campus and in U.S. society.”
November 21, 2013
Bias incidents Social consiousness at forefront of debate spark campus dialogues TOWN HALL continued from page 1
n Tuesday, Nov. 19, Dean of the College Chris Roelke sent out a campus-wide email releasing the news that two students have been found responsible for several recent bias incidents. In response to the recent news, Roellke and President Catharine Hill wrote in an emailed statement, “The outcome involving the two students doesn’t change the nature of the dialogue about bias incidents. All of our students and employees have a right to study, live and work in an environment free from damaging and hateful expressions, and as a community we have to continue to be vigilant on these issues.” This news came after another campus email sent out five days ago by Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life and Diversity Ed Pittman which detailed the frequency and nature of some the bias incidents. The earlier email also explained the purpose and operations of the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) of which Pittman is the coordinator. In his email, Pittman listed explained the problems associated with these incidents. He wrote, “These and other offensive, hurtful messages have targeted individuals and groups based on gender identity or expression, race, sexual orientation, religious belief or identity, veteran status, national origin and other forms of identity.” He continued, “This is unacceptable and members of our community should be able to learn and work in environments that are free of hurtful expressions and behaviors.” Main House President Reuben Moncada ’15 had to deal with one such bias incident, which was reported in the multi-purpose room of Main. In response, Main House organized an event in an effort to reject attacks of this sort. As Moncada explained in an emailed statement, “Because of the bias incident that has happened in our MPR a couple of weeks ago, Main House Team responded by having a house discussion response titled ‘Whose House,’ which was planned by Maddie McCarthy ’16, Michaela Regehr ’16, and Kevin Newhall ’17.” Strong House has also had to deal with a number of bias incidents this semester. President of the Strong House Carolina Gustafson ’15 spoke to the way in which the house was able to fight back against these sorts of targeted incidents and personal attacks. “Following a series of bias incidents targeted against Strong using gendered language, Strong had a mandatory all house meeting,” she said. She continued, “We used this meeting to talk about the effects of the bias incidents on Strong residents and on the community as a whole, what it means to live in Strong, why the use of gendered language and gendered slurs in particular hurt our house as an all-female identified community, and about the responses we want to see and implement in the future.” Of the effort Main made to counter the bias incident that took place in that house, Moncada said, “Several upperclassmen that I spoke to thought that our response/discussion was very engaging and encouraged the members of the house to think critically about these bias incidents.” Going further, he wrote, “I want students to know that Main House strives to foster a community that celebrates diversity. Some have said that our response to the incident was unnecessary, when in fact it was 100 [percent] necessary. By responding in the manner that we did, we send the message that racism in any shape or form is not something we tolerate— especially not in our House.” In his email, Roelke explained the damage these bias incidents due to the college community in general and he credited BIRT for the discovery of the two students. According to Pittman’s email, six bias incidents were reported over the course of the last three months. Gustafson spoke to the increase of bias incidents. She said, “It is incredibly disappointing that we have already this year received multiple bias incidents, all directed at Strong and female-identified people.” She went on, “I think the very quick and strong response we had to these bias incidents really shows the high level of dorm pride and resilience that reside in the Strong community.” Roelke’s email concluded, “The outcome of this most recent investigation in no way diminishes our commitment to working toward a more just, diverse, egalitarian, and inclusive campus community. We are dedicated to these principles, and ask for your support and engagement in this work.”
at Rock. He had mentioned in his opening statements that he and the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP) had been considering placing a limit on the number of major and correlate sequences a student was allowed to pursue. He cited a collective concern in CCP that students who picked a few areas to study intensively were not receiving a full and broad liberal arts education. A number of students vocalized their dissent at such an proposal. Erin Murray ’15 proposed that it should be the right of the student to decide to focus narrowly, and argued that double majoring could guarantee a wide range of studies. Aidan Wilcox ’16 said of Murray’s remark, “I feel like it’s a question that needed to be asked of the administration and has been on the minds of many students recently.” Rock argued that certain kinds of double majors were more concerning than others due to distribution requirements. He spoke to the necessity of finding “the right mix of breadth and depth.” When another student told the panel that the freedom of choice was one of the reasons he came to Vassar, President Hill stepped in to offer her thoughts on the matter. “I think isn’t there also a little concern that in accumulating correlates or majors that students are taking more than four courses and, perhaps, spreading themselves a little thin,” Hill said. “So in that last year if they want to get that one more correlate or major they have to pile on and take five or six classes, and we are worried that you then are not committing to each of your classes as fully as you would be otherwise.” Additionally, she said that in the process of trying to meet correlate or major requirements, students could bar others from entering a class that they themselves may not be interested in. The discussion then shifted to last year’s controversial proposal of a social consciousness requirement. Proponents of the requirement argued that a class that dealt with issues of race, class or gender could provide basic entry into a topic for someone who was socially ignorant. Along with this came sentiments
that the administration’s current methods of dealing with ignorance were not systematic or sustainable, and that Vassar’s community is not a community for everybody. Rock maintained throughout the debate that there were many classes on campus that would probably satisfy the requirement, and that he suspected many students were already taking these classes. For him, the problem wasn’t simply a lack of education; it was “willful bias and willful hate.” Rock said, “You can’t take a person who doesn’t want to get along with others…and have them come out [of a class] a socially conscious person.” Associate Professor of English and member of CCP Kiese Laymon took a different stance on the reasons for not having a social consciousness requirement. He said, “I think it’s really fair to say that as a committee we didn’t think that the social consciousness requirement was enough and pragmatically we thought, and i.e. knew, it would not pass the faculty floor.” Assistant Professor of Sociology Carlos Alamo noted the failure as a sign of larger institutional issues. He stated, “I get the issues of governance and faculty. I also think that institutional will matters a lot...I think that we should think of social consciousness also as institutional will; this is something that we are saying ‘this is what we value and this is what we want to be known for,’ then let’s commit to it, regardless of if people are worried about ‘I might have to learn how to teach diversity.’” The topic shifted from the causes of the requirement’s failure to other perceived administrative issues. One student spoke about her frustration at witnessing the same students and administrators respond and program around issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and classism with little administrative support. At this, Hill objected to the image being painted of the administration. She said, “I kind of object and I think it’s a little unfair. There’s a lot of talk about this is somehow the administration’s problem; this is our entire community’s problem. It’s students, it’s faculty, it’s staff, it’s administrators. And I actually think that this administration has worked really, really hard to be supportive and make this a safe place. Have
we got all the solutions? Absolutely not. But, certainly, over the time I’ve been here and other people sitting up here, we have spent time and effort working with faculty and students trying to move the institution in the right direction.” The recent rash of bias incidents also served as a topic of discussion, with one student asking how the isolation such acts cause could be countered. Hill responded by saying that town hall-like events had the potential to unite the campus, a view that was reflected in an emailed evaluation of the night. “I thought the conversation was useful and reflected issues that I know have been on students’ minds…my only regret is that it was not better attended. The issues that were discussed are important and the more students who are engaged with them the better we will be able to address them,” she said. Although the town hall displayed different opinions of campus life, both Hill and Rock thought that the perceived disagreements were not as drastic as they may have seemed. Hill said in an emailed statement, “I think there is actually broad agreement about the role and importance of social consciousness at Vassar, even if there are different ideas about how best to promote social consciousness.” Rock echoed these views, noting in an emailed statement, “I don’t think that there is any disagreement over the importance of social consciousness or social responsibility. The question is how to go about fostering it. This is something about which I believe reasonable people can disagree, but it’s also something about which I believe reasonable people might be able to come to agreement through continuing conversation.” Roellke thought that, despite its successes, there remains room for improvement. He said, “I think the town hall served the purpose of making the administration accessible to hearing student voices. Regretfully, these venues sometimes don’t yield a lot of divergent perspectives and I think we still have more work to do on how to engage more voices and to engage them productively.” Wilcox reflected, “I think the conversation was very intense, but I think it needed to be.”
Pattern of VSA resignations continues ELECTION continued from page 1
tion has also been abridged from the standard 48 to 24 hours to allow the decision to be made prior to the exodus of many students from campus over Thanksgiving Break. Although the voting window has been halved, the VSA asserted that this period still provides students with ample time to cast their ballots. Ehrlich explained, “Historically, we have found that almost all votes are cast in the first 24 hours of the 48 hour election voting window, and this should not significantly hinder people’s ability to voice their opinions.” Despite the various changes to the elections process, Board of Elections (BOE) co-chair Connor Martini ’14, who also serves as the representative for the Class of 2014 on Council, defended the Board of Elections’ decision as the most representative course of action. Martini explained, “It was the decision of this year’s BOE that an appointment of an executive board member who is an all-campus elected position, and not a position of little consequence, a very important position, that it needed to have the students’ voice heard more than an appointment could allow it to be heard.” He continued, “I think in the sense of transparency and equal access to the VSA, a special election is more appropriate.” As soon as the Board of Elections announces declares a victor, the newly elected student will undergo an intensive orientation process. VSA President Deb Steinberg ’14 explained that the Executive Board will help train its new member. She noted, “[Ehrlich] and I will start training the new person so that they are equipped to lead meetings and know about all the ongoing projects, but also feel encouraged to pursue projects of their own.” The previous VP for Student Life worked with the Student Life Committee on projects such as constructing more gender-neutral bathrooms, student employment and policies surrounding sexual assault and inter-personal violence. While the position will be filled within the
next two weeks, the current vacancy leaves numerous committees and projects without a permanent leader. In the meantime, other members of the VSA will serve as proxies. Aside from sitting on VSA Council meetings, the VP for Student Life chairs the Student Life Committee and sits on committees such as the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence and the Committee on College Life. Steinberg served as a proxy for the Wednesday meeting of BIRT and will work with the Committee on College Life. “I emailed all of the committee chairs and told them that I would be proxying until we fill [the position]. So they sent me any relevant information… they had the agenda and any relevant information. The administration has been actually really, really supportive.” VP for Academics Shruti Manian ’14 will also proxy for a VP for Student Life position when she works with the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence. She explained, “I am hoping that it is going to go well because I have spoken to [Associate Professor of English] Kiese Laymon; he’s the chair of CIE. He’s going to send me agendas and he’s going to send me past minutes; that’s going to give me some kind of idea what they have been doing recently…I have a fairly good idea of what’s going on in CIE and the various subcommittees. It also helps that Academics and Student Life have intersecting interests.” However, Steinberg asserted that the temporary position required only limited research due to the relationship of the VSA Executive Board. She explained, “As an Exec, we meet multiple times a week, so [VP for Student Life] has been filling us in throughout the year on projects and issues that have come up. So actually I feel prepared.” The resignation of this year’s VP for Student Life marks yet another resignation of a VSA executive board member, a problem that caused last year’s VSA Council to question the proce-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
dure for handling unexpected vacancies. Last year, two executive board positions, the VP for Academics and VP for Student Life, were filled mid-semester; these positions were filled through special appointment, not special election, processes. Although all three situations involved unexpected resignations, the VSA and the BOE concluded last year’s circumstances are markedly different from this one. Steinberg explained, “[Last year] was because the time line was very different; it was already second semester, so there was a lot less time for the people to even be in the position since we have our elections starting in March.” She also noted the positive differences between the due situations. She said, “This is much better because this person will be in this position for at least one month this semester and the whole second semester. That’s really exciting because they can actually do a lot of things with that time.” The pattern of unexpected resignations that has yet again affected the VSA has not gone unnoticed; however, Steinberg envisions using this sudden departure as a catalyst in further internal consideration and change. She reflected, “It’s frustrating that this keeps happening and it definitely makes me want to examine why people end up leaving these positions in the middle of the year. There are probably things we could be doing better to maintain our retention rates; maybe that involves providing more support for students.” However, for now, the VSA remains focused on encouraging students run for the open position. Martini explained, “I would encourage people who are interested in getting involved in the VSA to file for the election...I think that one of the problems we have on this campus is people seeing other people’s names on the elections website and not running because they think they can’t beat them. That cuts out a lot of talent.” He concluded, “So I would encourage all those who are thinking about running to do it.”
November 21, 2013
NaNoWriMo: now or never for some budding novelists Andrew Eslich Guest reporter
ts a Saturday in November, the sun is barely poking its way out of the outcast sky and a light mist covers the ground, and today is the day, the day to write your novel. As you begin to write the first sentence of your novel, you focus yourself to write those 50,000 words that are soon due because November 30 is approaching quickly and that means National Novel Writing Month is almost over. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was created in 1999 to encourage people to sit down and write a novel. According to the organization, “NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-ofyour-pants approach to creative writing.” The idea behind NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, creating a novel of any genre. then uploading
that novel to nanowrimo.org. It the end of the month the website will verify the word count. If it is at least 50,000, the organization automatically classifies the you as a winner. In spite of this accolade, NaNoWriMo does not offer any tangible reward. Rather, according to their website, “The only real prize of NaNoWriMo is the self-satisfaction that comes with pulling off such a great, creative feat.” Writing a 50,000 word novel can seem like a daunting challenge. However, after doing the math, the task may appear less daunting; the challenge can be broken up in to 1,700 words per day or six double-spaced manuscript pages of the 175 manuscript page total. The organization believes that the one month deadline is an integral part of the writing experience their group offers. NaNoWriMo’s mission asserts, “[The challenge is] all
courtesy of NaNoWriMo Foundation
Some Vassar students participate in the National Novel Writing Month in November, in which on they attempt to write 50,000 words. While they are not always successful, authors value the experience
about using the magical power of deadlines to tell your story.” Visiting Associate Professor of English Dean Crawford ultimately recommends that people follow the organization’s challenge and simply write. However, Crawford said, “Steady writing is better than binge writing. 50,000 words can be divided by 30 into a reasonable number per day, but that assumes the writer writes every day and doesn’t wait until the last week of the month and has a good subject all ready to go.” Anveshi Guha ’15, who has participated in the past without finishing her novel, and who is participating this year as well, can also attest to having a regular writing schedule. She said in an emailed statement, “I’m participating because I recently came up with this concept for a novel that I really like and would be pretty proud to write, but I knew I wouldn’t remember to actually work on it without some sort of intense motivation.” Guha went on to note, “The goal of 50,000 words in a month seems pretty unobtainable, which can be really stressful, but aiming that high is exactly the kind of push I needed to be able to write more than the premise without getting distracted.” Some people may question if writing so much is worth the time or effort it would take writing a novel in a month, but NaNoWriMo addresses this concern, saying that there are three reasons why writers should bother writing those 50,000 words. The organization asserts, “If you don’t do it now, you probably never will, the structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START.” NaNoWriMo’s mission statement freely admits that the challenge will have no real physical reward. However, the group maintains, “Art for art’s sake does wonderful things to you.” Jean-Luc Bouchard ’14 has attempted to complete National Novel Writing Month on two separate instances, but has failed both times. However, that has not stopped him from
writing and he said that he thinks NaNoWriMo is still a fantastic initiative. Bouchard is now writing a novel for his senior thesis. He said, “I chose to write a novel partly as to challenge myself as a writer, and writing is an extremely therapeutic activity for a writer and an excellent way to organize thoughts and emotions.” Bouchard is not the only person to not be able to complete NaNoWriMo—roughly 10 percent of the people participating actually manage to “win.” According to the organization, 341,375 participated last year, but only 38,438 of those participants won. The organization also has an eye to the potential future successes of the works they receive each year. Once a novel is completed, NaNoWriMo never saves the novels, and the writers still retain all rights to everything they wrote. Sometimes those writers who participated in NaNoWriMo have had their novels published. Published authors include Sara Gruen who wrote Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern who wrote The Night Circus, and Hugh Howey who wrote Wool. Whether or not students win or even participate in the NaNoWriMo challenge, Crawford said he hopes writing will get others to share his belief that writing is more than just pleasing readings. He said, “The best writing doesn’t null roll off reader’s backs, or offer a pleasant of informative experience, but in some way shakes readers, rocks their world at least briefly, either with its relevance of beauty or disturbing combination of elements.” Aspiring NaNoWriMo winner Guha had similar sentiments about the nature of writing. “I feel that writing can be a really effective tool for communication, not just with others, but also with oneself. I think writing—at any age, for any reason, in any genre or style—can really help solidify ideas and feelings. Seeing an idea explicitly written out in type makes it somehow more real than just thinking it in my head, which I find helps with introspection and with further fleshing out the idea,” she wrote.
Good Samaritan Policy places wellbeing before discipline Kryzel Bonifacio Guest reporter
when I started with EMS.” For those still reluctant to call, however, Pula assured that VCEMS is a confidential medical service. However, that does not mean that the Good Samaritan policy implemented is intended as a get out of jail free card. According to Associate Director of Residential Life and Student Conduct and Housing Richard Horowitz, the Good Samaritan policy has limits. “One area sometimes misunderstood, however, is that this policy has never meant to be used as a automatic no accountability blanket. For example, if the student in need of help has thrown up in the hallway there will be a disruptive conduct allegation,” wrote Horowitz in an emailed statement. But that does not mean that the Good Samaritan policy does not serve to encourage students to call for medical help. Horowitz explained, “If you need help due to the alcohol or drugs you’ve consumed, your friends need not worry about
you being found responsible for being underage or consuming an illegal drug. If they provided the alcohol or drugs to you, they need not worry about being found responsible for giving you the alcohol or drugs. In both cases, there will be a “Not Responsible due to Good Samaritan Policy” finding issued and no sanctions.” March further warned of the possible repercussions of delaying medical help when it is needed. “Students who delay going to the hospital put themselves at risk of permanently damaging their body, or worse. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to not have a death on campus in very recent history, but this is a real concern that frequently happens at other universities.” VCEMS remains on call to help prevent this unfortunate truth everyday. Hill, however, sees it more simply. “We’re here to help. We’re just a group of students who want to help others and make sure they’re safe,” he said.
Sam Pianello/The Miscellany News
fter a long week of classes, tests, sports and meetings, many students look to the weekend as a stress-free refuge, a time to loosen up, relax and have a little fun. Sometimes, however, a few too many drinks can turn good natured festivities into out of control and potentially dangerous situations. These crucial points are when Vassar College Emergency Medical Services (VCEMS) steps in. According to their website, VCEMS is a volunteer-run organization comprised of approximately 60 members, most of whom are New York State certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and dedicated to providing emergency medical care to the campus community. It operates on weeknights from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 24 hours a day on weekends. According to their records, over Halloween weekend alone VCEMS responded to 11 calls and had 5 hospitalizations. “We provide high-quality, quick response, confidential emergency medical services to everyone on Vassar’s campus when the other health services are closed. We are able to stay on scene for longer than the city EMTs that have a larger area to cover. We live and study with the majority of our patients and are incredibly sympathetic to the stresses that college life presents,” said VCEMS Quality Assurance Training Officer David March ’14. According to VCEMS Captain Kate Pula ’15, a typical EMS call usually happens as follows: when a call is placed, a crew of at least two, usually three, technicians responds as quickly and safely as possible to the patient’s location. They first check for the safety of everyone in the area before gathering information from the patient and sometimes bystanders to understand the patient’s history and the events that transpired before the call. At the same time, another technician checks the patient’s vital signs such as pulse, blood pressure, respiration, pupils and responsiveness. The crew determines whether the patient needs further assistance and provides any necessary treatment. If the patient is under
any life threat and needs more intensive medical attention, they will call the Arlington Fire Department, the EMS for the surrounding area. A paramedic, who has a higher certification than an EMT, will arrive, examine the patient, and provide transport to the hospital if necessary. Not every call is serious enough to require hospitalization, however. “Just because we come out doesn’t mean that anyone is going to the hospital. All it means is that they’re going to be checked out by people with a little more training and experience to make sure that they stay safe,” March stated. EMS technician Aaron Hill ’16, agreed, noting, “We’re more than happy to make sure someone is okay and would prefer to intervene before they need serious medical attention.” Still, some students remain wary of calling EMS, sometimes because they are simply unsure whether the situation is serious enough to require medical attention. Pula supplied examples of important indicators in these situations. “The college students are one of the healthiest demographics, so if a student is not oriented to where they are, the date, [and] cannot remember previous recent events—these are tell-tale signs that something is wrong,” said Pula. Hill added, “I would advise people to call EMS whenever they think that someone might need help, particularly if they’re having trouble standing, if they’re vomiting or if they’re in any unreasonable discomfort.” The fear of disciplinary repercussions could also be a hindrance to seeking medical help. However, in the recent years, Vassar’s administration combated this hesitance by implementing the Good Samaritan policy, a medical amnesty policy that shields the caller and the victim from punishment when they call for help in an alcohol or drug related emergency. March believes that the extra emphasis on the Good Samaritan policy at the start of the school year has helped the campus community stay safer. He explained, “A lot of student fellows seem to have drilled this policy into incoming freshmen, and I feel that a lot more people feel comfortable calling than they did three years ago
Vassar College Emergency Medical Services is a student-volunteer group which attends to campus calls throughout the week. They employ a Good Samaritan policy to encourage safety.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
November 21, 2013
Travel-themed coffeehouse a break from life’s journey Ziwen Wang
Cassady Bergevin/The Miscellany News
or those few precious moments, I wasn’t at Vassar freaking out about Organic Chemistry. I was sitting in a chair with my eyes closed, but my mind could wander and travel to any place it desired,” wrote Parisa Halaji ’16 in an emailed statement, who said she felt blessed about her soothing experience from this year’s Coffeehouse. With candles and table decorations creating an artistic, inviting atmosphere and activities revolving around this year’s theme of travel, The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life’s (RSL) sixth annual Coffeehouse took place in the Aula on Nov. 14, 2013. More than 65 people came to enjoy a moment of relaxation and respite from traveling through life’s perpetual journey in a space smelling of coffee and freshly baked deserts. The RSL organizes the event with a different theme each year to create an open space for the Vassar community to get together and think about meaningful aspects of life. Weeks before the actual event, the RSL Administrative Assistant Liz Dunn and RSL interns prepared to make this year’s Coffeehouse memorable and impactful. Performers and activity leaders involved students from various RSL groups, including the Vassar Jewish Union (VJU), Vassar Catholic Community (VCC), Buddhist Sangha, Vassar Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (FXF) and Unitarian Universalists (UU). RSL intern Gabe Dunsmith ’15 has been involved with this event for three years. “I shared poetry during the Coffeehouse both my freshman and sophomore years, so the event has a spiritual resonance with me. It’s been a space for Vassar students of all different backgrounds to come together,” he said. Dunsmith hoped the event was a chance for people to pause and think of life as a constant travel, saying, “The Coffeehouse is a great reminder that we do so much traveling in our daily lives. Oftentimes, we let things pass us by without actually recognizing what is going on around us, but we should be attentive to all
kinds of travel, both inner and outer, that occur all the time.” “How might travel orient us away from the fast-paced life and reshape our notions of community? What blessings or revelations are contained in the arrival or the journey gone astray? Are there fears that are exposed as well? In our travels are we seeking to find, or are we being found? Do all our journeys come back to the same root?” said Dunsmith. RSL integrated the theme of travel into the event in forms of singing, poetry, meditation, cardboard art and idea sharing rather than lectures. The organizers tried to make the event interesting so that people could think about how everyone should be mindful travelers embracing the beauty of life’s journey. “I attended the Coffeehouse because a friend of mine is an RSL intern and he said it would be awesome, and it really was. The event made me realize I shouldn’t rush so often,” Sarah Perry ’17 wrote in an emailed statement. Mia Livingston ’15 agreed. As a religion major, she was especially interested in religious seeking on campus and also found the Coffeehouse a meaningful event. “I’m going abroad to Belgium next semester, and I know I’ll have the sentiments from Adah’s song in my head as I pack my things! Traveling is always a little nerve wracking but I love the idea of spreading out my experiences and bringing an open mind with me wherever I go,” she said. For performers and activity leaders, the experience was also enriching. “The event reminded me that in my travels I am never alone—I always have the Lord by my side. Sometimes in the hustle an bustle of life we lose sight of what is truly important as we become preoccupied with the urgent, but we need to try to rid ourselves of worry and instead listen to the Lord for guidance and strength,” said Stephanie Stone ’15, the President of VCC. The group performed the song “Lead Me, Lord.” Jordann Funk ’16 led a short meditation during the event. She explained how in the course of the meditation she began to feel a
Over 65 people gather in the AULA for Religious and Spiritual Life’s sixth annual Coffeehouse. Each year has a different theme; this year’s was about how life can be seen as a constant journey. sense of connectedness with the participants. “Even though it was easy for me to feel nervous in front of such a large group, I think the atmosphere of the Coffeehouse really helped me to calm down and feel comfortable because it was a place of communal sharing and a welcoming of all ideas. As I led the meditation, I felt as if I was offering my own gift to a crowd who had already given me so much through their performances,” said Funk. The feeling of sharing existed throughout the event. This year’s Coffeehouse ended with “Joys and Sorrows,” an activity in which participants volunteered to go to the front and share some of the joys of college life, family, friends and more. They also expressed sorrow for loved ones who have passed on, and lit a candle in their honor. “It was such a beautiful testament to a beautiful community,” said Livingston.
“Hearing about different people’s struggles and positivity created a strong sense of solidarity and community in the room,” said Isabella Johnson ’16, who felt that encountering people from different backgrounds had deepened her religious understanding. RSL intern Arisa Gereda ’16, who helped to organize the event, could not think of a more fulfilling way to bring this two hour Coffeehouse to its climax. Said Gereda, “So many people came up and expressed how much comfort, unity and gratefulness they were feeling for and from everyone else—all from different backgrounds and beliefs yet all together at one night, feeling the same openness and energy in the room.” “Really,” she said, “I think those moments, with that kind of love for the community and mindfulness, were what our Coffeehouse was all about.”
Vassar’s crafters work to gain profits, support community Bethany Terry stAFF desiGNer
For Jordan Brooker ’15, who makes items such as scarves, hats and stuffed animals, finding a place for selling her merchandise has been a problem. While selling online is an obvious option, she said she has not begun doing that because of the large fees websites like Etsy charge, taking a chunk of profit from the seller. Currently, she is looking for students to team up with to start a crafters’ guild. Said Brooker, “One person selling five scarves isn’t a very good business plan. But a group of crafters with a whole table of goods for sale, that is a lot more appealing to a buyer.” Her guild would sell not only knitted crafts but items such pottery and other hand-made items, and would effectively cut out the middleman, benefiting both parties. Ultimately, avoiding fees would lead to more income for the student selling the items, while also eliminating costs
courtesy of Web Wellness Institute
hen faced with a large amount of school work, hobbies such as baking, crafting and reading for pleasure are often the first things to fall by the wayside. If there aren’t enough hours in the day for homework, how do students find time for something they enjoy? While it may be difficult, many Vassar students have made time in their busy lives for their hobbies. Some popular hobbies among students are knitting and crocheting. Some students are using crafting to help others. Madison Hickman ’15 is President of Commuknitty, a student organization that works on crafting projects which benefit the Poughkeepsie community. This year they are cooperating with Generation, a new organization that visits nursing homes. Said Hickman, “We’re knitting little trinkets to give the folks they visit and let them know someone is thinking of them this holiday season!” The group, which meets every Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m. in Raymond Parlor, attracts members with a different levels of experience, ranging from decades to only weeks or days. For students at any level. Commuknitty provides a space for members of the Vassar community to hone their craft while helping others. Said Hickman, “Sweaters, potholders, hats, socks, shapeless blobs—you see it all.” Mariah Carlson-Kirigin ’15 knits and crochets for pleasure. For Carlson-Kirigin, this hobby began early, when she was about five years old. She can still recall the day. “I used maroon yarn that was really soft that I found in a huge box of tangled yarn that my mom had, and for a while I was making some kind of mistake that resulted in the piece of knitting not getting any bigger,” she said. As time went on, her skills improved and now she has made a variety of things, such as sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, blankets and stuffed animals. The time it takes for her to finish a project can range from mere hours to months. Simple projects, such as hats, while larger projects, such
as blankets, can take months. While the hobby of knitting may conjure up images of old women in rocking chairs for some, it seems that people younger and younger have taken up this craft. In a 2011 survey done by the Craft Yarn Council, 18 percent of all surveyed were between ages 18-35, indicating that a large portion of the 38 million yarn consumers may be younger than we think (Craftyarncouncil.com). Whether knitting or crocheting, this type of crafting allows people of any age to work on projects that provide both joy and a possible source of income. While Carlson-Kirigin only uses her talent to make things for herself and her friends, other students have found that crafting can serve as a source of income, selling anything from jewelry to their art. But this can provide a difficult challenge.
Crafters at Vassar create items for a variety of audiences. Some craft for family and friends while others sell theirs as part of crafter’s guild in order to avoid paying fees and cut out the middleman.
such as shipping for the consumer. Brooker began crocheting relatively recently. “I started crocheting my senior year of high school. I saw a pattern book for crochet stuffed animals and I really wanted to make one. The first thing I ever made was a little octopus that sits on my desk.” Today Brooker is an active crafter. She evens finds time for it with classwork. “I make time to knit or crochet everyday. It’s really satisfying to have a least a few more rows done at the end of day,” she said. Hickman also manages to knit consistently. “I always say people who claim they don’t have time to knit or crochet aren’t looking hard enough for it,” said Hickman. “I like to carry a small project with me and knit while waiting in line at the retreat, before my classes start, while I’m watching TV.” For those who can’t find the time, breaks from school or long trips can provide opportunity for these activities. Said Carlson-Kirigin, “I knit a lot over breaks. I always take the train home, so knitting is a good way to spend that time.” She said that she does not knit a lot when she is at school, but finds the time when she needs to make something. Both Carlson-Kirigin and Hickman noted that homemade items make excellent gifts. Said Hickman, “My favorite thing to make is socks. They take about a week or two each if I spend a lot of time on them, or more. They can be complicated or simple, and everyone who I give them to feels the love I put into them when they wear them.” Carlson-Kirigin expressed a similar sentiment. “I like making everything. I knit a lot of Christmas and birthday presents,” she explained. While different crafts may seem too large a task to take on, many can be quick or able to be stopped and started without penalty. Whether for profit or pleasure, these hobbies can serve as an outlet for creative expression. With the holiday season approaching, it may be a good time to take up hobbies such as knitting and crocheting again.
November 21, 2013
Film Festival displays language and culture of Spain Eloy Bleifuss Prados
AssitANt FeAtures editor
courtesy of fanpop.com
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ver the last month, the Hispanic Studies Department hosted weekly film screenings of Spanish movies with the aim of deepening students’ familiarity with the culture of Spain and enhancing their language comprehension. With a different title shown every Friday of Nov. at 7:30 p.m. in the Foreign Language Resource Center Screening Auditorium in Chicago Hall, the Film Festival offers an outof-class opportunity for language learning that goes beyond textbooks and worksheets. Spanish Language Fellow Rebeca García organized the Festival with the goal of sharing with Vassar some of the art and popular cinema of her homeland of Spain. García said, “[The Festival] is a good way to show this place my culture, my country, my traditions and in a funny and dynamic way.” According to Associate Professor and Chair of the Hispanic Studies Department Mihai Grünfeld, watching films can supplement the study of Spanish language. “An image is worth a thousand words,” said Grünfeld, adding, “It’s very easy to speak about a culture through a film.” For as long as Grünfeld can remember within his 27 years of teaching at Vassar there has always been one type of film series or another in academia. Hispanic Studies, he went on, analyzes the art, traditions and histories of the Spain and Latin America. With classes examining novels, poetry and other forms of media, be they visual or textual, Grünfeld said, “[In] a department like ours the intent is to teach cultural studies, and movies are just a small part of that.” Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Director of Latin American and Latina/o Studies Eva Woods believes that a region’s language and culture are inextricably linked. “Language is culture and culture is language. You are automatically studying language when you study culture,” explained Woods. In the case of cinema in Spain, she explained, this statement holds especially true.
Film occupies an important place in the society Woods claimed, saying, “Spain has always been a very cinephile culture. In the 1940s, for example, Spain was in post-war economic crisis after their [Civil War] and Spain, being one of the poorest countries in Europe, nevertheless had more cinemas per capita than any other country in Europe at the time.” In personally selecting each of the Festival’s four films, García said she tried to impart a panorama Spanish culture and history. The Festival’s opener on Nov. 1 was La Lengua de las Mariposas (1999). García said the subject of the historical drama, which tells the story of a schoolboy in the region of Galicia during the Spanish Civil War, is still relevant to the present. She claims understanding contemporary Spain begins with understanding the conflict that tore the country in two. If the first film dwelt on the darkest chapter of Spain’s recent history, the second, Volver (2006) flung students to present day Spain. The film is lighter in tone said García, and is directed by Pedro Almodóvar, the most famous living Spanish director. The following week García showed Blancanieves (2012). Set in the 1920’s, the film is a silent black-and-white re-imagining of the Snow White fairytale. The movie showcases the region of Andalucía, which is an area of southern Spain and “corida de toros,” bullfighting. Both, according García, are intimately tied to Spain’s cultural identity. Friday Nov. 22, in what will be the final film of the festival, García picked a personal favorite of hers. Primos (2011) centers on three cousins who return to the village where they spent their childhood summers. García said the film captures faithfully parts of her experience growing up. “I want to show Spanish culture: my normal day in Spain, how we speak and how we interact,” García stated. Along with offering audience members a glimpse to a variety of cultures, films such as the ones featured in the Festival give students a chance to hear Spanish being spoken by native
The Hispanic Studies Department hosted weekly film screenings this month to provide students with another medium for language learning. One such film included was Volver, starring Penelope Cruz. speakers in everyday situations. Unlike conversations held in class, said Grünfeld, dialogue in films is fast and fluid. “The movie language is alive as it would be if you and I [were] speaking. You hear the language at work,” said Grünfeld. When Emma Kading ’14 was spending a semester abroad last year in Buenos Aires she said she enjoyed going out to see Argentinean films at a little movie theater she discovered where a ticket would cost only a few pesos. When she got hooked on an Argentine television series she also began picking up popular slang that she never learned in the classroom. “There are still phrases that I use know that I totally stole from the TV show,” said Kading In the months prior to her arrival to Vassar, García admitted to how she watched movies and television in English. “It was one of the
ways of preparing my travel to the United States,” she said. Visual media alone, though, Kading cautioned, is not enough to learn a language. She said, “I do think it is more valuable to read in Spanish because you have to actually sit and comprehend what you are reading and you pick up vocabulary more easily.” The times Kading has found watching films to be a useful part of learning are when it creates real life context for course topics. In one such case, watching a Columbian movie about children scratching out a living in urban slums gave her a new perspective on a Spanish Picaresque novel from the 16-century that she had read in class. She said, “It’s being able to see where what you’re learning fits into the world, even if it is a completely fictional story.”
Low-harm vegan dinner something to be thankful for Alessandra Seiter
soCiAl mediA editor
courtesy of whatwouldcathyeat
he Thanksgivings of my early childhood probably recall those of most other Americans families: uncles making awkward and subtly offensive jokes; a football game playing on the television in the background; a separate table for all of the rambunctious children; dishes that reappeared on the menu every year despite the fact that no one truly enjoyed for their high culinary quality. The soggy stuffing, saccharine cranberry sauce, and oh-so dry turkey slices left much to be desired from this supposed celebration of the harvest, not to mention a slight feeling of nausea from all of the heavy dishes consumed. Not until I grew older and took Thanksgiving matters into my own hands did the holiday transform from a dreaded family gathering into a mouthwatering feast that we felt truly thankful for. By confronting the deeply racist, genocidal and fundamentally colonialist roots of the holiday and leaving the turkey off of the table in favor of a vegan meal, my immediate family and I began celebrating an all-around compassionate—not to mention simply scrumptious and quite nutritious—Thanksgiving. Creating a bountiful vegan Thanksgiving proves easier than one who is accustomed to heavy, meaty Thanksgiving meals might expect. Indeed, think of all of the dishes on a traditional holiday table that highlight the autumnal vegetables that we all know and love: sweet potato casserole made with soy milk and vegan butter, sautéed green beans, roasted squash and brussels sprouts, pumpkin pie…the list goes on. Centering a Thanksgiving meal around seasonal plant-based foods will ensure an animal-friendly and healthy celebratory autumn meal for the whole family. Following are a couple specific suggestions as to what one might serve at a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. To start, enjoy a steaming bowl of silky-smooth butternut squash soup topped with a dollop of cashew cream—don’t forget to dip your garlic bread in it!
To follow up that warming, creamy dish with something crisp and light, serve a salad of mesclun, pomegranates and toasted almonds tossed in a cranberry vinaigrette. For the main course, carve up a walnut-lentil loaf or a seitan roulade stuffed with wild rice—these protein rich, soul-satisfying dishes will make you wonder why you ever settled for lackluster, bonedry turkey. Of course, you’ll need a bevy of vegetable-based side dishes to bolster the meal. My favorites include mashed cauliflower with mushroom gravy, maple-glazed roasted root vegetables, and a whole-grain pilaf such as the recipe listed below. To finish off this delectable celebration, don’t miss out on the tantalizing array of fall-inspired sweet treats that the realm of vegan baking has to offer. Don’t be fooled. Vegan baking doesn’t mean compromising on flavor. Revel in cranberry-apple crisp, sticky caramel pecan pie and the ubiquitous pumpkin pie— and, really, what kind of Thanksgiving would omit this staple dessert? Introducing these dishes into your annual banquet are certain to leave you satisfied--and without the feeling of heaviness that so often accompanies traditional Thanksgiving fare. With the popularity of vegan eating on the rise—indeed, Forbes magazine just named vegan dining as the top food trend of 2013—we can expect to see many more families embracing the vegetables that truly reflect the harvest season and replacing the turkey with plantbased proteins. Doing the latter will not only benefit taste buds, but also consumer health, seeing as a recent FDA survey found that nine out of ten retail turkey samples were contaminated with fecal bacteria. Celebrating a vegan Thanksgiving is certainly a healthy, compassionate, and delicious choice. As mentioned above, this pilaf serves as a hearty, bright addition to any Thanksgiving meal. The chewy wild rice, crunchy pecans, succulent butternut squash, and tangy cranberries combine to create a masterful dish full of contrasting flavors and textures.
The Recipe Wild Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash, Cranberries, and Pecans Ingredients: 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes 2 cups wild rice, rinsed 6 cups vegetable broth 1 medium onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup dried cranberries 1/4 cup warm water 2 tbsp red wine vinegar 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped 3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped 6 tbsp olive oil, divided Zest of 1 lemon 1/2 tsp cumin 1/4 tsp cardamom 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced Salt and pepper to taste Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the wild rice and stock in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until some of the grains start to split. The rice should still be quite chewy. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the squash on two baking sheets. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat . Sauté the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Place the dried cranberries in a bowl with the warm water and vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon zest, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, orange juice, lemon juice and fresh ginger. Add the onions and garlic, cranberries, parsley, pecans and dressing to the wild rice and stir. Gently mix in the roasted squash. Serve warm or at room temperature.
November 21, 2013
Hookah bar smokes out competition with club atmosphere Shannon Liao Guest reporter
courtesy of Zorona
n the crisp, freezing winter, I believe that nothing warms the soul better than a pipe of hookah. Passing along the streets of Arlington, people definitely see the closed down hookah bar on Raymond Avenue, but they need not lament for too long. There is another hookah bar one further down the street, around the corner of Thai Spice, that fewer souls know about. Lit by red lights, and shining white lights to a room on the side, the rich ambiance of the Zorona Hookah Lounge, not to be confused with the Zorona’s which is still closed following fire damages, can make for a great late night out with friends. Be warned though, as soon as you step inside, large bearded men will approach you for an I.D. check—it’s definitely 18 and older only. I’ve forgotten my I.D. in the past and no amount of pacifying could convince the men at the front to let me in. But once inside, a red-painted room with white paneling, packed with plenty of old, greyish uphostered sofas, greets you. A neon bright room off to the side is another seating option. The blue lights from that side area deflect and gave a glowing look to my friends’ teeth. On a recent Thursday, I ventured to the lounge with a group of friends to celebrate a friend turning 18. Looking around, I mostly saw young Arlington locals, dressed in hoodies and snapbacks, smoking with friends and being particularly chummy with the owners. At the table next to me, a young man impressed his companion with a series of well-blown smoke rings. The rules are simple: don’t jump on the sofas and you must purchase one head for every three people (heads-up: the average hookah bar asks for one head for every five people). Other than these two mandates, you should feel free to sink your light-headed body back into the seats and enjoy that all the hookah
lounges has to offer. Patrons of the lounge can also get free advice from the owners about what flavors of tobacco, or shisha, are particularly good or terrible, at the bar. When one of my companions asked for green apple, the waiter, dressed in a black t-shirt, made a face. Our waiter explained, “You don’t want to order that. Green apple, eugh.” Instead, the popular, recommended flavors are peach, watermelon and some other classic fruits. For an extra fee, the discerning customer can get more intense tastes, such as Sex on the Beach. Unfortunately, compared to the wide variety of tobacco on hand, the menu had a poor selection of food, only consisting of chips and soda. Unlike the usual hookah bar that offers tea and seating in a circle, this one has a darker, more clubby atmosphere that manages to remain casual. Service took around ten minutes but as I asked them to hurry up, they immediately brought out the hookah, along with numerous yellow-colored plastic tips to place on the pipes for hygiene. The table is rather long and we had to be careful not to tangle the pipes together. When I was there, one pipe was black and the other was brown, so it was possible to tell them apart. As we got more light-headed and drifty, my friends and I chatted about life and love and snapped photos of each other as the smoke tendrils brushed our cheeks. In the background, loud electro music and remixes of popular songs, like the club hit “We Found Love” by Rihanna, blasted, courtesy of a local DJ, giving the lounge a definite club-like ambiance. At multiple points, I simply wanted to get up and dance, but, unfortunately, it looked like the rest of the room was more interesting in sitting down. The pricing is decent, around $12 for a pipe, which, once split in a group becomes fairly affordable. The bar’s hours are long, the lounge
Located at 511 Haight Ave., Zorona Hookah Lounge offers the Arlington community a fusion of traditional hookah culture with a clubby ambiance. Serving tobacco, this lounge is for legal adults only. stays open until 12:00 a.m. on Monday nights. A major downside however is the bathroom, which ranks on the list of the most poorly furnished bathrooms I’ve ever encountered—no soap or toilet paper, just cracks on the walls. If you are a stickler about bathroom cleanliness, it might be better to make sure to go before you head out for the night. No one wants to be stuck using a dirty bathroom. Still, don’t let the bathroom situation dissuade you from the place. It more than makes up for its plumbing shortcomings in other ways. With a television in the background showing the latest in American football, and some interesting graffiti on the wall, a Batman t-shirt pinned to the ceiling, as well as a blown-up photo of a man, possibly the owner’s
Ecclectic interests a key to senior year experiences CAPSTONE continued from page 1 who, despite having no specific requirement to do a capstone project, chose to explore a thesis topic one might not expect from a religion major—religious commentary in Battlestar Galactica. Martini, who has had a particular affection for the science fiction show since it came out in 2004, is tackling the religious and humanist topics. Martini also focuses on religious pluralism and religious fundamentalism, as well as other uncanny imagery. In his interpretation of the show, Martini found the conflict between the monotheist Cylon robots and the polytheist humans of the Galactica universe a metaphor for religious and difference; he now uses this to analyze post-humanism and religious pluralism. “The robots are super religious—very fundamentalist, dogmatic monotheists, while the humans are polytheists in a very state-sponsored way,” Martini said. He continued, “[Humans display] super chill, general agnosticism reminiscent of Western liberal religion, whereas the religion of the robots is more of a fundamentalist Christian rhetoric.” Martini went on to talk about the not-quite ideal portrayal of religious pluralism in the popular show. He said, “It makes a very interesting argument for religious pluralism but not in as inclusive of a way as we would like to be, because the human viewers would probably like atheists to be involved in a model promised land.” While writing a thesis about a television show might seem like a fun choice for a capstone, Martini said it has taken up a significant portion of his time. For one, Martini bemoaned the fact that he cannot watch all the other shows he wants to keep up with. Theses in the Religion Department are comprised of two parts: a shorter assignment in the fall and a longer written project during the spring semester. Martini said he will have to wait until next year and see how he manages his work when the deadline approaches,
but he also thinks he will be prepared for the second semester stresses. Martini explained, “It is going to be interesting how I pull that off. We’ll see. I believe in myself. I think thats 90 percent of it of it.” He went on, “It’ll get done. I’m so stressed when it comes to school work that I end up doing my papers a week in advance any way.” While the first thing that often comes to mind for capstone projects is a thesis, many other options are available for students depending on both their area of concentration, as well as their interests. Some students, such as Martini, might go the traditional path and write a thesis, while others might pursue options they consider to be more representative of their work. These included the senior recitals offered by the Music Department. Although Rock asserted the potential benefits of a capstone project for all students, he also maintained that student need a variety of project options. “There is evidence to suggest that capstone projects are a “high-impact educational practice,” which is a fancy way of saying that they are associated with positive learning outcomes on a variety of dimensions. These can range from the acquisition or enhancement of skills to the development of improved critical faculties to personal growth,” wrote Rock. He also explained, “Of course, it would be foolish to pretend that all students benefit equally from such projects or that all have terrific experiences. For this reason, it is important to imagine different kinds of capstone projects. It’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.” One such student who benefited from the variety of options available to students for capstone projects is Stephanie Goldberg ’14, who has studied in soprano Rachel Rosales’s studio the past four years and is currently preparing for her senior recital this Saturday in Skinner Music Hall. Goldberg will finish up with her capstone project early in the year, unlike many other students.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
father, considering what appears to be quite the strong family resemblance, the décor is far from boring. On one visit, my friend, who had a pretty rough day with his classes, declared that he considered our visit to the hookah lounge was the highlight of his day. The overall vibe of the lounge can definitely vary from person to person—the temperature of the room was perfectly okay for me, but one of my friends, who hails from Texas, needed multiple jackets. As far as hookah bars go, this one is the closest to the college and definitely worth a visit or two. I recommend bringing a close group of friends and some cameras for a cool in-thedark photoshoot.
November 21, 2013
THE MISCELLANY NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
SOC name change not an answer to larger student concerns
n Nov. 13, Dean of Students D.B. Brown sent out a campus-wide email to inform the student body that the organization previously known as the Student of Concern team (SOC) had been changed to the Student Support Network (SSN). The SOC has been in existence for approximately six years, and consists of the Dean of Students, the Dean of Studies, the Director of Residential Life and the Director of Counseling, along with any administrators deemed necessary. According to its website, the SSN holds weekly meetings to pool resources for students whose behavior may demonstrate “concerning” qualities. While we at The Miscellany News do support the intentions behind the SSN, we ultimately take issue with its latest iteration. Brown wrote in his email, “In order to better reflect the supportive nature of this team, the name has been changed...but the nature of the resource has remained constant.” We understand that the name change places emphasis on supporting individuals with “concerning behavior” rather than targeting them in a negative manner. This change, however, does not adequately address students’ existing concerns over the nature of the team. The procedures remain unclear, which leaves students without knowledge and left to worry. Beyond procedure, the College does not adequately staff Metcalf House—where students who need help will be referred—to address student mental health concerns. While we know that there is a follow-up
process for students, the email does not break down the specific details or time line of that process. The SSN should provide a document— perhaps a flowchart or infographic—that clearly outlines each step taken after a student is reported to the team. Such a document might contain information about when and how an initial meeting with administrators would take place, and delineate the role of each administrator. Additionally, while we acknowledge that every student must be addressed on a case-bycase basis, meaning that no two meetings will ever be identical, it is important for all students to have a general understanding of what these follow-up discussions look like before meeting with any administrators. Furthermore, it would be helpful and informative if the administration offered a type of open house, forum or town hall meeting where any student or staff member could meet with the Network to discuss the role of the administrators and the aforementioned follow-up process. Not allowing students the access to procedures can promote silence, as they are left unsure of the process that will take place after they report someone. Silence prevents students from helping each other or themselves through the SSN. Students may fear what the SSN will do to them or their friends, immediately closing off the potential for outreach. By allowing for a dialogue to take place between the administrators and the cam-
pus, students and staff might understand more clearly the basic workings of the SSN. Students want the administration to be honest with them. When the administration doesn’t fully volunteer information on the SSN’s procedures, it invites potentially unwarranted speculation and concern. We at The Miscellany News further believe that students may be uncomfortable approaching or reporting to the SSN because it primarily consists of administrators. Although the Network claims that its purpose is not to discipline students, its current makeup has certain implications that may be perceived otherwise. Students do not have a representative for their voice or their perspective. In order to alleviate this problem, and to hopefully provide a stronger support system for any deeply-rooted issues that students may possibly be facing, we suggest that the SSN consider taking on non-senior administrative members, for example those with the The Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Program. In such a system, a reported student would automatically be in contact with a specialized individual equipped to deal with a student’s specific mental health concerns. Given the current situation, however, Metcalf, lacks such specialists. Although the Metcalf website lists that there are counselors for mental health issues, this only covers general mental health. It does not detail counselors ready to address particular mental health issues. When such a specific resource goes unmet, Metcalf must
refer students to off-campus resources that cover the issue. Students without access to transportation or insurance coverage cannot reliably go off-campus for such help. It is unfair to ask that of students when the College already promises mental health resources—and they’re just understaffed. If the Network changed its name to emphasize the support it gives to students, it should provide that support—and that means making up for the support that the College currently lacks. This frustration points to a larger issue on-campus: the Administration does not fully disclose information to the student body, which leads students to avoid the SSN for lack of understanding. We at The Miscellany News do not believe that the College is purposefully withholding information from the student body, nor do we think there is any ill intent behind the SSN’s mission. However, the Network’s recent unclear actions have suggested otherwise and this issue must be addressed. A name change is not enough to address or respond to deeper, core problems. It suggests that the SSN may be avoiding larger issues. Although the SSN’s rebranding in itself is not a bad thing, failing to act completely to give students a clear picture of what the SSN does and how it operates reflects poorly on the administrators who are a part of this team. —Staff Editorial represents the opinions of at least 2/3 of the Editorial Board.
ACA issues continue, need Current views on mental leadership from President illness need renovation Natasha Bertrard
n his never-ending quest to please everyone, President Obama has made yet another concession to critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For once, however, the compromise he offered was not to the GOP, but to Americans who refused to be the victims of yet another broken promise. In selling Obamacare to the nation back in 2010, the President had assured Americans that the ACA would not require anyone to buy new health insurance if they were happy with their current plan. Shortly after the rollout of the new law a few weeks ago, however, millions received cancellation notices by their insurance companies and outrage ensued. Feigning more ignorance than concern, Obama announced a rule change to the law that would allow insurance companies to keep those it had planned to drop for another year. The President’s attempt to take responsibility for his less-than-accurate portrayal of life under Obamacare is definitely commendable. Yet would it have been more productive for him to simply bite the bullet and admit that he was wrong than to propose a conciliatory deal to the public that may make matters worse? Since extending this olive branch, Obama has faced wrath from the GOP, who claim it does not go far enough, and from insurance companies, who say this change in policy could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums. All of this in the name of appeasing the 5% of Americans who have individual plans, only half of whom will be affected by these canceled policies. (USA Today, “House Approves Bill to Allow People to Keep Insurance”, 11.15.2013) For a president not seeking re-election, Obama’s eagerness to please everyone at all times is becoming increasingly difficult to justify. It is unfortunate that a very small percentage of (predominantly healthy, middle class) Americans will have to pay higher premiums on the new insurance than they would have had to pay on their old plans, and they have every right to be angry that they have essentially been lied to. In the midst of all the furor, however, most have forgotten that these plans are being canceled for a reason; they are substandard, and do not provide the minimum benefits and consum-
er protections that the all new insurance plans will be required to have under the new health law. According to the New York Times, some of these plans “had deductibles as high as $10,000 or $25,000 and required large co-pays after that, and some didn’t cover hospital care.” These were plans distributed by insurance companies when they were allowed to discriminate against applicants based on preexisting conditions, charging people who were once sick exorbitant rates for care. (New York Times, “Insurance Policies Not Worth Keeping,” 11.02.13) Moreover, Obama’s proposed fix only delays the inevitable. Those affected will have to purchase new insurance plans after one year, anyway, and extending the plans could actually lead to even higher premiums in the long run – exactly what Obama is trying to prevent with his “solution.” So is temporarily assuaging the ire of this 2.5% really worth the upheaval of the entire insurance market? If Obama was a man of his word with a reputation to uphold, it may indeed be worth it. But after five years of wishywashy leadership and broken promises, Obama has failed to create this reputation of integrity that he now wishes to salvage. If he wants to save anything, it should be the ACA from its untimely demise. While it would not necessarily spell doom for Obamacare, Obama’s decision to renege on a fundamental aspect of the law requiring all to buy new health insurance immediately – a requirement intended to help fund the insurance of the very people ACA aims to help – does not say anything about his political integrity. It says only that he is weak. If successful, health care reform will be Obama’s legacy, and rightfully so. His relentless determination to push through the Affordable Care Act at all costs stands in stark contrast to his usual strategy of appeasement. His boldness was refreshing, but he has chosen to reassume his docile temperament at precisely the wrong moment. As the future of the Affordable Care Act hangs delicately in the balance, its critics are searching for any and all vulnerabilities – in the plan and, by extension, in the President – that could bring them both down for good. —Natasha Bertrard ’14 is a political science and philosophy double major.
ape culture is a frequent topic of discussion and interest, but what about culture around mental illnesses? Plenty has been written about the stigma attached to mental illness, but at the same time, we all sort of joke about having it. Think about how people say their OCD is acting up when they see a crooked painting, or how being angsty has turned into depression. I worked at a summer camp this past summer, and there were kids who were heavily medicated—taking maybe five different medications each day—and they were eight! They didn’t even know what depression was, and yet they were being medicated for it. Their parents believed something was wrong and got a doctor to prescribe medication for this perceived problem. Admittedly, some of them may actually have had a mental illness, but I don’t think the answer is medicating them into a stupor. Commercials and ads for depression medication are everywhere these days, and some things, like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or ADD/ADHD, have become the fodder of everyday conversations. At some point or another, most of us have joked that we have one or the other because of something silly or compulsive we do. The commercials, I think, are an attempt to make having depression something not to be ashamed of, and perhaps to encourage sufferers to seek help. On the other hand, joking about serious conditions makes it more difficult to sympathize with someone truly afflicted by it. When someone says they have OCD, you say, oh, yeah, me too. But for them, it may mean a potentially crippling obsession with having a routine. It’s a part of their life, not just something which occasionally crops up when seeing something bothersome. We’re caught in a phase that’s between getting rid of the stigma and turning it into a joke. At the same time, many people still think that mental illness is one of those things that you can just sort of get over, like the flu. That if you take your medication faithfully, you’ll be fine in no time. How do you convince those people that it’s not just a phase, not just something
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
you get over? Things like depression and bipolar disorder are real illnesses, brought on by real biological issues. They’re not things that can be fixed by a pill, just treated with one. It’s hard to make mental illnesses relatable and something to sympathize with without jeopardizing its seriousness. How does one go about reconciling this goal with its unintended consequence? Is it even possible? A similar thing has happened with the recent publicity about Celiac Disease. That doesn’t sound familiar? That makes sense, because most people who claim to feel its effects don’t actually know what it’s called. Celiac Disease is the inability to process gluten. Sound familiar now? People have jumped on the bandwagon and turned gluten-free eating into a fad. There’s gluten-free everything, from brownies to pasta. Yet the number of people who actually suffer from it is not that many. Some people do it for the health benefits…which probably are none. Gluten is part of a natural healthy diet. If you don’t know what it is and where it’s found, you’re probably not “allergic” to it. (It’s also not an allergy; it’s an intolerance, like those who can’t process lactose.) When things like canned peas are labeled as gluten-free, it makes me a little upset, because if you actually have Celiac disease, you probably know that peas don’t have a drop of gluten. So why label them that way? I feel like it’s there just to attract the interest of supposedly healthy eaters. It seems, these days, that most people are either hypochondriacs or disbelievers. How can you blame the skeptics when at least a solid portion of so-called afflictees don’t really have anything at all? We’re stuck in this interminable limbo where we want to support sufferers, but don’t want people to abuse the system. Whether there is a way to solve this dilemma remains unclear, and probably will until the current medical system is fixed, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. So for now, be supportive of those who suffer from mental illness, but use some common sense. —Lily Elbaum ’16 is a prospective independent major.
Letter to the Editor In last week’s edition of The Miscellany News, I had the pleasure of reading Joshua Sherman’s article about low-voter turnout in the last election. Since I spent over two months with Vassar Student Seth Warner’s campaign for Dutchess County Legislature, I thought I would give my two cents on the issue, specifically with regards to my experiences with Vassar students. Over my seventy-some hours on the campaign, I knocked every door in Seth’s district at least three times. On election night, two hours before the close of the polls, I knocked on them again. Everybody on the campaign expected Vassar students’ turnout to be high. Why wouldn’t it be? We were sure students would turn out in droves to vote for their peer, who had a ton of great ideas. But oddly, student turnout wasn’t any better than that of the general public. Vassar has always been, and hopefully always will be, a community that encourages collective action and discourse in pursuit of common goals. Regardless of my opinions of the issues themselves, I have witnessed with admiration the growing “Student-Labor Dialogue” on campus, the determined efforts of the divestment movement, the constant dialogue and debate on issues relevant to all of us. Vassar students will picket, and write, and plan sit-ins, and yell, and pound a fist or two, in pursuit of a common goal. And then, here is the paradox: an election rolls around, and suddenly this collective action falters. Vassar students had the opportunity not only to make symbolic gestures, like divestment or picket signs, but to actually vote for concrete measures. Vassar’s votes could have swung the election in Seth Warner’s favor, leading to the closing of an actual burn plant that releases greenhouse gases into the air on a daily basis. But where were you, Vassar students? Making picket signs? —Spencer Virtue ’16
November 21, 2013
CLRG a ‘necessary entity’ that brings discourse and discussion to campus Alejandro McGhee Guest Columnist
ince the beginning of my time at Vassar, I’ve been closely connected to the issues that affect various communities on campus. The first essay I ever wrote for a class was one that grappled with the question of what Vassar’s purpose of education was, which I will admit is one that is nuanced and complicated; in my freshman year I worked with Campus Climate, Spectrana, the VSA Academics committee and various other orgs to push the campus culture towards one that is more just and socially conscious. It has not been an easy endeavor, but the people I met through that process have continued to remind me of my purpose and motivate me to continue working toward these goals. Over that year I developed a really strong interest in the racial climate on college campuses and I really wanted to better understand how the administration was actually going about dealing with student concerns. I personally always felt like things weren’t getting done fast enough and that there were obvious glaring issues that weren’t being thought about. This semester I started interning with the Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life and Diversity, Ed Pittman. Working in the Campus Life and Diversity Office has given me the space and support to continue to develop and help operate a program more than a decade old called the Campus Life Resource Group, or the CLRG for short. The CLRG began in 2000 when a Vassar comedy group, in an attempt at satire, used the word “nigger” in a skit. This offended many members of our community and after weeks and weeks of sustained conversation and healing the CLRG came to fruition. Stu-
dents at the time wanted there to be a group that could sustain dialogue about the difficult issues that our campus endured. Over the years, as the founding members graduated and moved on, the CLRG became more institutionalized, which required continual support from Vassar Administration. Its purposes and prominence on campus have also changed as other groups on campus also sought to take on similar issues that the CLRG would try to address.
“Over that year I developed a really strong interest in the racial climate on college campuses....” I still think the CLRG is a necessary entity that is able to connect with people from various facets of campus so that they can engage in dialogue on pressing issues via conversation dinners which are open to faculty, students, and administrators who are not members of the group. There haven’t been any conversation dinners this year up to this point because I did not want them to seem like an inevitable and mechanical production but rather something that came out of an organic process. A guiding principle that I entered the semester with was that this group would be more student-centered so that the students who entered the space could define the goals of the CLRG, rather than the other way around. This was a bigger challenge than I expected it would be for various reasons, one
of them being that everyone who entered the space had a somewhat different point of view on what its purpose should be. Still, as a student intern, I was able to shift things around to make meetings a more conducive time for conversation and consciousness-raising. This year’s CLRG sessions have worked to grapple with topics like the issues of tone policing and “call-out” culture among students and the difficulties that such dynamics present. Another project of the CLRG has been to organize All College Day. This year we piloted a new planning process which entails having fewer short meetings but instead a few longer meetings so that members could talk more in depth about what they envision the event to be like. In the past, the CLRG did so by having a series of shorter meetings throughout the beginning of the school year which often presented various difficulties, such as finding a time when everyone could meet and come up with ideas for a truly transformative program. I wholeheartedly believe that the annual All College Day event this year will depart in some ways from its past iterations but will still meet its goal of sparking necessary conversation. It’s extremely important that we continue to have these conversations and the CLRG space has worked to sustain them this year. What I want more people to know who might be afraid to have these conversations is that it’s okay to be nervous. It’s okay to say the wrong thing. The nature of community is that in spite of difference, we can talk about them and learn from one another. —Alejandro McGhee ’16 is an educational studies major. He is an intern for the Campus Life and Diversity office
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November 21, 2013
McWilliams lecture offers perspective into a more sustainable way of living Brooke Thomas Guest ColumNist
’ve known that I was going to be vegan since I was 13 years old. It took me five years of vegetarianism to stop making excuses and actually get to it, but I am here now and have been vegan for about three months. Although I would not say that this transition has been particularly difficult for me, VARC (Vassar Animal Rights Coalition) meetings and events have definitely bolstered my convictions. On Nov. 7th, James McWilliams came to Vassar and gave a lecture titled, “Veganism for Omnivores.” I was raised in a part of Wyoming that was very conservative, where I was often ostracized for just being a vegetarian. Not many people asked me about my intentions or tried to understand the issues that eating animals promotes; but when someone did ask me about why I was a vegetarian, the easiest explanation to give them was that I did not support the way animals are raised and treated in factory farms. Even though we were surrounded by local, small-scale farms and ranches, most of the people where I lived ate factory farmed meat, so this explanation sufficed. They did not usually think to ask me what I thought about small scale farms and ranches. The more common responses to my declarations about why I was a vegetarian were things like “vegetables have feelings too” and the classic “I just love meat way too much to be a vegetarian.” People did not often try to discuss the moral complexities right away. So when I came to Vassar I had almost never thought about how I would respond if someone asked me what I thought about local or small scale farming. I, of course, knew that I believed strongly that eating any animal, no matter how it was raised or how well it was
treated during its life, is not okay. However, I knew this would be a relatively hard thing to argue and potentially not the most convincing response. James McWilliams’ lecture equipped me with some tools to help solve this problem. Arguments about morality are difficult to deliver and generally—at least in my experience—not very well received. James McWilliams recognized this and that is why the majority of his lecture discussed the sustainability and economic problems of small scale farms rather than the ethical problems, although he did talk about those to some extent. He did an excellent job of utilizing empirical evidence as well as evidence from the farms themselves to back up his arguments. As he pointed out, most of the outside organizations that research issues with animal rights appear to have a bias; even if the information they present is completely legitimate and accurate, people see names like PETA and assume that the information is skewed. This is because people believe organizations that exist to promote animal rights wouldn’t present both sides of the case for veganism equally and would be slanted for the side that suits their mission statement. However, information directly from the farms is less likely to be biased, or if it is biased it will probably be biased toward the farms themselves and therefore not necessarily animal rights. All in all, McWilliams’ lecture convinced me that small-scale farming is not a viable solution for our dependence on factory farming. I genuinely hope that most Vassar students already know that factory farming is bad. I assume that at least some of us do and that is why the Deece offers free-range eggs and occasionally free range chicken. I hope that the students who do know that factory farming is
bad went to that lecture. If they did, I hope that they learned that the “free-range” label doesn’t mean much. Realistically, I know that most of them did not go and did not learn this; as a vegan and as a student at Vassar, this upsets me. I hope there will be a time when there is a line of people outside the auditorium, just hoping to get into a lecture about veganism. I want this because Vassar students are smart and talented and have an amazing opportunity to be well-informed. This is an issue I believe we should all be informed about. This lecture was a beacon of hope for me. It seems promising to me that there are people who have accepted that factory farming is bad and that all animals deserve to be treated well. It is promising that these people have tried to find a way to treat animals better. And it is promising to me that there are people other than me who believe that these “solutions” are not good enough. I cannot speak for all of VARC, but I would think that our reason for hosting this lecture was to show people that veganism is the best, most sustainable, most compassionate option for animals and the world. If people have the opportunity (I would argue that most Vassar students do, at least while on campus) to go vegan, they absolutely should. The title of the lecture, “Veganism for Omnivores,” seems absolutely perfect to me. If you do not think that veganism is for you or if you are inclined to be an omnivore, but you feel that all animals should be treated well, please educate yourself on the issues of factory farms as well as local and small-scale farms. You might surprise yourself; your inner vegan might come out.
henever people ask me if I would ever get a tattoo, My answer is no for two main reasons. One, I am the most indecisive person you might ever meet and would most likely regret whatever it is that I would tattoo onto my body. Two, I’m scared. Yes, I am scared of being probed with a needle and the pain that may bring, but I am even more afraid of what that needle would inject into my skin. Let me ask you, I ask all my friends who raise questions about my lack of wanting a tattoo: what exactly is in tattoo ink? It is at this point that I usually get a blank stare and an, “uhhh. I don’t know.” Truth is, I don’t know either, and that is where a large part of my fear comes from. At this time, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any tattoo pigments. A notable educator, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., points out that manufacturers of inks and pigments don’t have to reveal the contents of the ink they produce and that many professionals mix his or her own inks/pigments. Therefore, all inks have slightly different compositions, for there is no “ink standard” (About.com-Chemistry, “Tattoo Inks-What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You”, 11.15.13).
“Manufacturers of inks and pigments currently don’t have to reveal the contents of the ink they produce...” These homemade inks consist of pigment and a carrier. The carrier keeps the pigment evenly distributed and prevents clumping. Many carriers have proven to be toxic, such as denatured alcohols, ethylene glycol and aldehydes. These harmful carriers burn the skin and cause mutagens/carcinogens, which create
reactions in the body that may accelerate or even create detrimental health issues (About. com-Chemistry. “Tattoo Inks-What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You”, 11.15.13). Main risks include infection (since you’re probably sharing pigments with whoever got a tattoo before you—even a clean needle may pick up residue from the person beforehand!), allergies (unless it is revealed exactly what is in every pigment being used in your tattoo, there may be chemicals you are unaware of and have a negative reaction to), granulomas (small bumps that form around the tattoo since some of the contents of the ink the body perceives as a foreign threat and tries to eliminate the threat), and MRI complications (metal salts are sometimes used in ink and you may see swelling or feel light burning when you get an MRI… this is pretty rare though!). (Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?, FDA, 2.23.2009; (Cleveland.com, “Tattoo Ink Contains Known Toxins”, 10.8.2012). Recent studies have exposed another concern, finding that the toxins from nanoparticles of tattoo ink can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause cancer. The toxins collect in the spleen and kidney which impair the body’s ability to fight the toxins (DailyMail “Could Your Tattoo Give You Cancer?”, 9.22.2013). With all the harm that can be caused, the FDA is currently conducting research on tattoo ink at their Arkansas-based National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR). Chemist Paul Howard, Ph.D., is leading this research and his team is investigating the chemical composition of the inks and how they break down (metabolize) in the body, the short-term and long-term safety of pigments used in tattoo inks and how the body responds to the interaction of light with the inks (FDA.gov, “Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?”, 2.23.2009). However, there is a major setback for the research Dr. Howard is leading. Simply, there are too many types of ink to test. Results from any investigation can only be conclusive for that exact ink that was tested. Therefore, this research will hopefully find one type (or even a few types) of ink that appears to not be harmful to the body and be able to create a standard.
on the street
What class do you wish you got into, but didn’t?
“Culture, Commerce, Public Sphere.” —Nicolette Harley ’14
“Drama 202, and I’m pissed.” —Reeve Johnson ’14
—Brooke Thomas ’17 is a prospective political science major.
Tattoos seen as safe but could pose risks Delaney Fischer
But most likely, this won’t happen any time soon. Research has been ongoing for three or more years and still no standard has been set.
“Intro to Education.” —Cameron Ford ’16
“The toxins from nanoparticles of tattoo ink can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause cancer...” Most appear not to be too concerned with the lack of knowledge regarding pigments and ink as more than 45 million Americans (36 percent of 30-year-olds) have tattoos (Cleveland. com, “Tattoo Ink Contains Known Toxins”, 10.8.2012). Many people tag themselves with significant sayings, dates or images that represent who they are or something that is important to them. I know many people who have tattoos and, honestly, none have had any real issues with them, at least to my knowledge. So what does that mean? Is all this stuff about tattoo ink just trying to scare us? Eh. Many people doubt there are as high risks if they do investigation on the tattoo parlor of choice and choose a highly qualified artist, but the long-term effects of tattoos are not clear because everyone’s body reacts differently to different substances. I for one, even knowing everything in the tattoo ink that would be used, would still opt not to get one. Injecting foreign objects into my skin forever just does not seem ideal to me—plus let’s not forget—TOO INDECISIVE. So while I am not willing to inject what are most likely foreign metal salts into my skin, I don’t expect that everyone is going to magically stop getting tattoos. The bottom line about getting a tattoo is to not be afraid to ask your tattoo artist what is in the ink he or she is about to inject you with— honestly, it might save your life. —Delaney Fischer ’15 is a neuroscience major.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“Modern Dance.” —Khasi Jamieson ’16
“Shakespeare.” —Brendan Kiernan ’16
“Gender in Popular American Media.” —Jacqueline Krass ’16
Jack Owen, Arts Editor Cassady Bergevin, Photo Editor
November 21, 2013
Black Friday fixation disturbs Thanksgiving appreciation
Joshua Sherman Opinions Editor
he late George Carlin once noted how two of the most popular activities among Americans are buying and eating, and frankly it seems this year that reality has become more apparent than ever. As we inch closer to Thanksgiving, brick & mortar stores are working harder than ever to exceed expectations and have Black Friday weekend sales perform even better than in previous years. In order to help facilitate these sales, many retailers are having their stores remain open earlier and earlier, with some staying open and offering deals this year on Thanksgiving Day, as opposed to the traditional Black Friday. It’s hard to argue that we, as Americans, couldn’t have seen this coming. Over the past 20 years the concept of Black Friday has shifted from the general holiday shopping period following Thanksgiving into the crazed, 5:00 a.m. rush it had been since the late nineties. (BlackFriday.com “History of Black Friday”) In 2011, retailers, fighting staunch competition from internet-fueled “Cyber Mondays,” alongside a weak economy, decided to make an even more aggressive approach to Black Friday by opening stores at midnight, prompting almost two Black Friday events—one to take place at midnight after the end of Thanksgiving, and another to reprise only hours later. As a result of these changes to the Black Friday cycle, retailers saw record-setting sales from the Black Friday weekend alone. (CNN Money, “Black Friday shopping hits a new record,” 11.25.12) Clearly the next logical step was to just do away with the formalities and simply merge Thanksgiving and Black Friday together, which shockingly some retailers felt to be appropriate this year. To name a few, WalMart, K-Mart and The Gap have all announced plans to be open
“But wait! There’s...” ACROSS 1 Brought into the world 5 Opposite of pro 8 Flaky, honeyed pastry 15 Ricelike pasta 16 Not a St. 17 Weekly German news mag Der ___ 18 Collegedom 20 “Indeed” 21 “I know,” en español 22 Abbr. that grants ownership 24 *Second year student 26 *Rapper who won “Best Hip−Hop Video” at the VMAs this year 30 1991 Ice−T album 32 Greeting of respect 33 Entry price, in poker 34 Badly rough up
on Thanksgiving, and re-open either early on Black Friday or even at midnight. The worst offender, WalMart, is choosing not to close at all, opting for 24-hour store access through Thanksgiving with deals to begin around 8:00 p.m. on Friday. The reasoning behind this, George Carlin jokes aside, is multi-faceted. For one, there is an apparent motivation for profit by retailers that is stronger than ever as they feel the stress that our 21st-century form of shopping imposes on it.
“It’s hard to argue that we, as Americans, couldn’t have seen this coming.” As fewer and fewer customers want to play the “Black Friday Game” of waking up extremely early when they can sit at home on their computers—in their underwear—to buy things, there is a motivation to encourage customers to shop before they go to bed, and now before they even set the dinner table. This in turn is also strengthened by analysts, some of which think the move will spur record sales. It is not just the actual act of consumers that motivates these marketing decisions, but also the analysts, which report predictions of sales, which then motivate these decisions. A recent statement from Adobe, a major provider of online and digital software, believes this will be a record year for Black Friday weekend, but will culminate with Cyber Monday, hence why retailers are motivated more than ever to make their sales as convenient as
consideration by consumers or retailers of the effect on those who will be forced or obligated to work these awkward hours. So, what can we do? How do we feed our devilish addiction to consumer goods alongside our infatuation with a holiday that has, for many, lost its meaning? In one perspective, this is perhaps what we wanted out of Thanksgiving in the first place. Perhaps it is merely the nature of the beast that we are transitioning to this state where Thanksgiving is nothing more than a marker for the Christmas lights to go up and for holiday sales to get started. Should we accept this or should we try to reclaim what has been lost? Should we instead work to fight back this classism and try to rebuild an appreciation of the holiday beyond buying a big turkey and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Not that these things are terrible, but that the experience is instead supposed to be about the family you engage it with, not the acts alone or following the traditions for the sake of tradition. Unfortunately I don’t have an answer to this question. I wish I did. I think we as a society are conflicted and this is something that hits very close to our desires alongside what we should hold valuable. Perhaps after this Thanksgiving I will have an answer, but unfortunately it will revolve around consumerism because it seems we are allowing the holiday to be so. Nonetheless I sincerely wish your Thanksgiving is not necessarily consumerist or non-consumerist, but one that gives you the opportunity to appreciate something perhaps you didn’t appreciate before. Or better yet, let Thanksgiving be whatever you want it to be, and may you enjoy at least a little bit of the time off we get in the coming week. —Joshua Sherman ’16 is an English major.
The Miscellany Crossword
36 Inc. relative 37 Reagan’s “evil empire,” for short 38 Elaborately decorated 40 One of the inits. in 64−down 42 Cup holder? 43 So old it’s new again 44 Poetic preposition 45 “Yes” vote in Congress 46 Romance, adventure, horror, etc. 47 A prominent feature of Dante de Blasio 49 Gray 51 Neighbor of Switz. 52 Hover 53 The “subject” of our post−9/11 war 56 Inits. commonly
Answers to last week’s puzzle
they are online. (VentureBeat, “Adobe forecasts record holiday sales: $1.1B Thanksgiving, $1.6B Black Friday, $2.3B Cyber Monday,” 11.05.13) Another reason is rather societal, and although its reasoning has to do with retailers partially, the fact remains that we are as much to blame as retailers are for Black Friday since we allow this to continue to happen. Thanksgiving is a holiday that has been consumerized by us as Americans in the last 60 years by the media and by our perceptions of us. After all, the perceived “most important parts” of the holiday—from turkey dinners, to football, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” featured on the television—are acts of consumerization of the holiday to revolve around things we should watch, buy, or eat. Bear in mind these are attributes for a holiday that was once deeply ingrained in a history of reflection, thanks and appreciation for what we have, rather than what we wish we had. It’s up to us to accept this fact regarding the current state as a holiday and the fact we willingly accept it no longer as a holiday of thanks, and instead now as a holiday shopping kick-off, plus a family gathering subjective to a consumerist fixation on a large, American fowl. That being said, there is also an issue of how we feel connected to the people who make Black Friday what it is. Many, but not all, Vassar students will be going home or elsewhere to visit family on Thanksgiving and then enjoy the extended weekend. Still, some will not have this privilege because their family needs to make ends meet, which involves being obligated to work on Thanksgiving now. We don’t think often about this if we are not directly affected, but it’s an issue of classism that is fueled by a skewed perception of the consumer demand. We speculate demand, hence why retailers choose to do this. There is, however, little
by Jack Mullan, Crossword Editor found on a boat 57 *Liberal arts competitor in PA 59 See 42−down 60 See 23−down 62 Fate that struck Carter and H.W. Bush 66 *Dean Martin classic 71 Fashion again 72 Sarcasm clarifier 73 Humdinger 74 It may be said con flores 75 Lisp sound 76 Times past
27 Vase handles 28 Price abbr. 29 See 26−across 31 Bad looks 32 Heart disease: Abbr. 35 Washington Wizard Gilbert 39 How−___ (DIY books) 40 One−time third− partier Ross 41 See 57−across
42 *Orioles home 46 Neighbor of Switz. 47 In the fashion of an alien 48 In favor of 49 Take into custody 50 “The Sorrows of Young Werther” author 54 Atlanta university 55 Rotary duplicator
DOWN 1 Deadly snake 2 “Lord of the Rings” enemy 3 Wu Tang man 4 ___ of approval 5 Alpaca relative 6 Egg: Prefix 7 Coolio 8 Baking product, shortened 9 Kwik−E−Mart owner on “The Simpsons” 10 Android keyboard 11 Releases to fight (2 wds.) 12 Long−known 13 Popular Italian scooter 14 HI hi 19 Glacial ridge 23 *Monumental foursome 25 See 24−across 26 TV host Povich
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
57 “That Hansel, he’s ___ right now” 58 Rage 61 Much of Colo. 63 Experimental Aircraft Assn: Abbr. 64 33 1/3, 45 or 78, briefly 65 Aboriginal Chinese people 67 Word with milk
or sauce 68 Year abroad 69 La Méditerranée, e.g. 70 Digger’s strike
November 21, 2013
HUMOR & SATIRE
From the desk of Lily Doyle, Humor & Satire Editor
Senior wakes up voluntarily at 8 a.m., housemates’ only solution is probably to burn her at the stake as a witch
I am trapped in a dark pit of PSA on PDA: 14 steps to despair and lonliness (ha, ha) avoid being ‘that couple’ Eliot Marcus
hree of my housemates are in long-distance relationships. This column is for them. I have done two separate stints of distance and still have not recovered. This column is for me. You most likely are in, or know someone in, a long distance relationship. This column is for you. What’s that you say? This is the Humor section? Well a famous person once said something about humor and sadness being linked in some way or another. Now fill up your flask and batten down the hatches. It is time for the saddest article in the history of the Humor section. Before we begin, yes, a TA-to-TH relationship is considered long-distance provided that you do not have access to a car. Both of those paths look like what would happen if Hannibal Lecter decided to create his own version of the Yellow Brick Road. The easiest way to send me into cardiac arrest would be to creep up behind me on the TH path and whisper “Why hello, Clarice.” Anyways. Long-distance relationships. In short, they are the worst. We all know the timeline, the slow degeneration of what is considered “normal social behavior.” It starts off okay. You Skype each other and maybe even send a letter or two if you’re one of the few of us left who actually has legible handwriting AND knows how to address an envelope. Then your housemate enters a relationship with someone who literally lives next door. Every time they cuddle your stomach feels like you just ate two helpings of “beef” from the Deece. You wish unspeakable things on your friend when they complain that it’s tough to cuddle on Vassar beds. You make voodoo dolls of these two people who insist on flaunting their love and affection, and within 36 hours, they are riddled with toothpicks. Next comes the body pillow phase. You tell yourself you bought it for lumbar support, but within a few days you’ve named it Gosling and provided this inanimate object with an intricate back story. We all know what comes next. You go to a TH party and sing along to Miley Cyrus, although if anyone asks you don’t know the words. Before long you head home, hoping for a quick Skype sesh to alleviate the loneliness. No one is online because it’s 3:30 in the morning. Without hesitation you kiss Gosling with the blinding passion of one thousand suns, but your pillow just stares back at you. It too has succumbed to the ennui of TH life. You kiss it once more, but again you are rebuffed. You look Gosling in the eye and whis-
per “Are you not entertained?” before drifting off to sleep. Right before your eyes, your lifestyle starts to change. You go to Dormal Formal wearing jorts, Birkenstocks, and a Hawaiian shirt. Your outfit is not ironic. You start reading Nicholas Sparks. Your choice in literature also is not ironic. You begin to hope that How I Met Your Mother ends with Ted never finding true love. At this point all four of your housemates are in relationships. The sounds that emanate from their bedrooms are the anthem of your unending solitude. You begin to siphon gas from their cars and dump it into Sunset Lake when no one is looking. It is now September 14, exactly two weeks since you have seen your significant other. Your second body pillow is named Natalie Portman. You start describing your life as Kafka-esque to strangers. You have never read Kafka. Above your bed hangs a framed photo of Cory and Topanga. Hope springs eternal in the human breast. You are pretty sure Alexander Pope is the protagonist from the Nicholas Sparks novel where the handsome and mysterious man’s dog runs away only to be adopted by the prettiest girl with the darkest past in the smallest town in the most rustic seaside village in America. They end up meeting at an independent book store and raising the dog together under the umbrella of matrimonial bliss. More tears. You rip another page from the calendar: September 18. Now even the Daddy Long Legs spiders that nest in the corner of your bedroom have names. They are all named Clive. You call yourself the Mother/Father of Spiders. Your housemate is pissed because his girlfriend can only go apple picking for an hour this Saturday. You don’t give a shit about his problems. September 24: that same housemate and his girlfriend have hand-written a 75 page recipe book called ‘Love’s Nourishment.’ You draw phallic-looking objects on every page. October 2nd rolls around. You Skype your significant other, lick the screen and marvel at the rainbow colored residue left by your tongue. Finally, a shred of happiness. Over October break you see your significant other and it was all worth it. Aww. The End. P.S: Following up on my last column, I want to make one more confession. I once jammed twelve cookies into an old VCR I found in my basement, whispered “F--- you, Buddy the Elf, and walked away. I was in a long-distance relationship when this happened.
Lily Sloss Columnist
aving been one half of an extremely low-key and exceptionally hip couple for approximately (rounded up) thirty seconds, I believe I am pretty much an expert on how to distinguish the “cool” couples from “those” couples on campus. Do you know who “those” couples are? If you don’t, read the following list to discern if you qualify as the WORST.* You qualify if you: 1) come early to Dormal Formal to make out with your biddy** while rocking formal attire. Yes, we get it. You can successfully suck face even when one or all of you are rocking old lady heels. You are officially “the tits.” Regardless, if I wanted to see people intimately kissing—I’d head to the Mug. I’ve heard it’s become quite the hot spot for long-lasting romance. 2) take the elevator up and down in your dorm, just so you can inform the drunken, motley groups who join you that: “We’re not going out—we’re gonna have a ‘quiet night in.’ Maybe watch a movie or something.” Wink, Wink. #we-aren’t-actually-going-to-watch-amovie. If you want to have a quiet night in, go to your room, and shut the f**k up. (Clearly still bitter from my experience as the single girl in the drunken crew being told about a couple’s quiet night in. Their evening sounded far better than riding the elevator with my fellow group and half the Lathrop freshmen class until we found “where the party at.”) 3) hold hands at the Deece. Just stop. If you took my health, medicine and public policy class, you would accept that hand holding is unacceptable given the low frequency of hand washing by the general public. Fact-Based Statistic: less than 2% of Vassar students regularly wash their hands.*** 4) attend a party with your biddy and then “hook up” against a living room wall so passionately that there is permanent blue smudge from your biddy’s jean pants that no amount of Clorox and scrubbing will eliminate. 5) slow grind at the Solange concert even when her beats are popping and totes upbeat. If you want to dry hump, don’t ruin my ViCE concert for me. Go to UpC where the other couples are getting passionate. (just kiddingwho hooks up in UpC—but could we make it the “new” Mug? On the DL, I heard it’s no lon-
ger wellness headquarters.) 6) are a student fellow or on VRDT or my girl crush in the Night Owls. 7) play on the same team, are in the same fellow group, or live in Ferry with your biddy. 8) and your biddy have matching haircuts. 9) have dated the kid since freshmen year. 10) have not ever been Facebook official, because you, like, totally don’t need to be, but you are still, like, totally official. #facebook-can’tdefine-what-we-have 11) have been wearing her letterman jacket, just so everyone knows that your biddy is part of the 1% of students who participate in athletics. (hahahahaha what if we had letterman jackets) 12) post any photo of the two of you kissing. I’m sorry (no I’m not) but any picture depicting an intimate moment was NOT candid; it required a lot of involvement, and you may as well have had the photo created in one of those studios where the photographers take pictures of babies in Santa hats or flowers a lá Anne Geddes. Relevant Anecdote: One time in high school, Megan posted a Facebook album titled: “lazy sunday with kenneth” and it was devoted to the two of them kissing and I saw it and I nearly vomited. If you don’t want to induce physical illness, don’t post kissing selfies. 13) have suddenly stopped drinking because it’s “no longer” “fun.” I call BS. Unless, of course, you got wasted on your 22nd and threw up on your carpet. Then, really, no one can blame you for not drinking any more.*&* 14) spend more time texting the biddy then you do snapchatting photos of yourself drinking and or posing as a Harry Potter character. Consider my list, then consider yourself warned—suckas.
*If you don’t qualify as one of “those” couples—you are welcome to join me and my biddy at the Deece for breakfast any day of the week. If you have trouble finding me, wait by the pastry section. I consume an average of three donuts a morning. **Biddy stands for any and all manner of persons. It is my equivalent of “ze” which I feel I continually use improperly. ***The 2% may just be my misremembering the “1%” Halloween costume that kids were so crazy about a couple years back. *&* PSA: underage drinking = immoral and wrong. As is a carpet-vom combination.
If you’ve never had an emotional breakdown over sports, you are missing out by Lily Doyle, Humor & Satire Editor
t’s football season. More specifically, it continues to be football season, since it’s been going on for months now. This is the only time of the year when I am seriously invested in two teams for the same sport, ever since Oklahoma blatantly stole my home basketball team away from me. It’s fine, it’s been five years, I don’t still weep about it late at night or have dreams of going to Oklahoma City and persuading all the players to get into a van with me where I will take them back where they truly belong. It’s whatever. Being so invested in two teams at once (University of Washington and the Seahawks, if you were wondering) is both incredibly stressful and also incredibly stressful. Sorry, I ran out of adjectives. While watching the Seahawks do their best impersonation of a Junior Varsity high school team and debating whether the pain in my right arm is because the game is giving me a literal heart attack or
because I ran into a door earlier, I decided it would be a good idea to make a list of the positive aspects of being a sports fan, because it can get incredibly hard to remember why we put ourselves through this kind of pain. 1) Beer. Thursday through Sunday, literally all hours of the day are up for drinking. Crack open that beer, friend, because this is America, and if you aren’t drinking beer and watching sports than you are doing it wrong. If you are watching “football,” also known in the land of the free as “soccer,” then wine is acceptable, or maybe absinthe. Actually strike that, no wine. If it was good enough for the prostitutes in Moulin Rouge it should be good enough for you. 2) Attractive Butts. There will always be butts for you to look at. You’ve got your cheerleader butts. You’ve got your football butts, baseball butts, pretty much all the butts you could ever want to look at. As a member of
the female species who enjoys a nice piece of manslice from time to time, I don’t really care for the man butt. However, the more sports you watch, the more you develop at least some appreciation for them. This happens essentially in the same way as some people develop appreciation for fine cheese or opera or modern art—however, unlike those topics, your newfound appreciation will not make people want to fall asleep when you talk about it. 3) Clothes. You get to look like a “cool kid” in your snapback, who totally did not get bullied in gym class or lose their two front teeth in an overly aggressive game of dodgeball. 4) Passion. You know how they say if you are good at dancing then you also have big feet and hands? Or something? Well, if you are really into sports, then maybe you will also be really into other people. You know? Science says that if you sometimes scream at strangers on your TV to get their shit together, then you
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
are also a good kisser. 5) Food. When you actually physically attend a sports game, you can get a Bud Light for 12 dollars and a hot dog for 23, which sounds like it’s not a good deal. It’s not. It’s a really bad deal. But it DOES take stress eating to a new level, which is something that I appreciate. As a person who regularly turns “snacks” into full meals, I like that watching a baseball game means that I am essentially having a 9 course dinner. The Superbowl combines both food AND beer which makes it a more joyous occasion than that of the birth of your first child. 6) Fitness. I have burned countless calories running around my house yelling incredibly rude things at my TV that I absolutely can’t publish here because we have an easily offended student body. Or, possibly, because the things I am yelling are just really offensive. Sorry, I’ve been drinking absinthe all day. Can’t stop won’t stop. Party in the USA.
November 21, 2013
Devised theater troupe Britomartis focuses on family ties Martha Lino
Cassady Bergevin/The Miscellany News
art classic American family drama, and part murder mystery, this semester the Britomartis Devised Theater Ensemble will examine family dynamics in their show Game Night: A Three Act Tragedy. The show will premiere on Friday, Nov. 22 at 8:00p.m., in the Kenyon Club Room, with additional performances on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 8:00 p.m. Game Night: A Three Act Tragedy is centered on the theme of family dynamics, including sibling bonds, unconditional love, grief, family activities and addiction. The show is about a family: four siblings, two cousins and two family friends who are stuck in a house together, and the mayhem that ensues. The show explores the different traumatic experiences in the family members’ lives and how they, collectively, remake the image of their family. Britomartis is a devised theater troupe that works collaboratively and non-hierarchically to co-write and co-direct theatrical productions. Through a process of storytelling, trying out different activities and working in-group improvisation, the ensemble troupe of thirteen members—eight of whom are actors—created a fictional family in their sixth production. Along with drawing on different cultural traditions and the works of Shakespeare and the Fairie Queene, the show is grounded in the members’ personal family experiences and lives. Lyla Porter-Follows ’14 said, “We all have families. The family we created is not representative of any of our families, but certain themes and ideas, or situations that are really different from our own experiences that we are fascinated about and we wanted to try to explore.” She continued, “[This] was a fun way to reflect on what we have or have not lived through, and hear stories from our peers” Utilizing oral tradition, storytelling and
Lyla Porter-Follows ’14, left, and fellow cast member rehearse a scene from Britomartis’ production of Game Night: A Three Act Tragedy, which will premiere on Nov. 22 and play through the 24. memory to create Game Night: A Three Act Tragedy, Britomartis engaged in a series of modules to create an authentic perspective. “We had to break into small groups and tell silly family anecdotes to people in our small group, and then come back into the larger group and trade stories in some sort of different way in order to present the story in a different perspective. On another day I asked everyone to come to rehearsal as if they were little kids, so we were at a summer camp and some people were camp counselors who made us do activities, and some people were ten year olds, and six years old, and that was kind of hilarious and fun. One day we just told stories in the dark, in character, trying to play it out, and that actually ended up being
brought in the show in the end, and we never know what we are going to do, but we always throw a lot out there, and take away just pieces of it,” explained Porter-Follows. The show questions the idea of family, and what qualifies a group of people to be considered a family, especially if this qualification should be limited to individuals who are related by blood or by choice. While exploring this difficult question, the troupe engaged in many discussions about gender, race and class, and how these issues will be addressed in the production. “We jump into these characters’ mindsets and become these people for the day, which is very scary, but I also think this allowed us to feel connected to the characters in the show,
and this might not have happened if we had actually lived their life for a couple of days, so we are all very connected to what we are producing,” explained Andrea Negrete ’15. The show explores the tension between tragedy and comedy, as well as the duality of realism and absurdity. “We entered this process thinking we will come out with this realistic, naturalistic style, and that is not what we have come to, but I think we have something really fun, and it has these naturalistic moments but also super absurd moments. We like to think we are taking the audience on a journey through genre,” said Corrine Hastings ’14. The play, which is set in a house, discusses what families do with each other when they are actually living in the same space. “The artists and designers have created the physical environment of what this family home looks like. We really want to think about what stuff is in the room, and the texture of that space, so it has been really cool to have our artists and designers go out and find things for that space” said Porter-Follows. All of the characters are relatively close in age, ranging from 20 years old to 30 years old. Two of the characters in the show are away at college, and they must deal with family relations when they come home for break. “There is so much you are learning [in college] and your views are being changed of the world, and you’re coming back to something that you thought you have known so well, and something that may have been constant in your life, and how do you react to that?” Negrete mentioned. “It is easy to be here and forget about your family, and that they exist, and how you relate to them, especially when you go back home,” continued Negrete. The Britomartis ensemble troupe hopes to break down family clichés by presenting a story rooted in honesty and reality. “Hopefully, it will inspire people to call their mom or their dad, or even share a story with a friend,” said Negrete.
VCTV gets energy boost from fresh-faced members Emma Daniels reporter
orgs on campus such as Happily Ever Laughter and various student plays and dance groups.” This expansion of VCTV is due in no small part to its influx of new members, particularly freshmen. Smith and Button wrote, “The freshmen have been an amazing addition to VCTV! They have brought so much energy to the group.” They continued, “We have new members of all experience levels, so we emphasize technical workshops to teach members about the filmmaking process so they can improve their skills. (This is especially relevant and in demand since production classes are not offered until junior year.) With our busy shooting schedule, the addition of
many new members has enabled us [to] shoot more frequently without exhausting our crew. The more members that join, the bigger the production we can create!” As VCTV grows, its members hope that the Vassar Student Association will certify it as an official campus organization. It is currently in its third semester status as a preliminary organization, the final stage before becoming eligible to apply for certification. “We believe that certification of VCTV as an official org would benefit not only VCTV’s members but also the Vassar community, providing a unique opportunity to produce professional quality films,” Smith and Button emphasized.
courtesy of VCTV
chemistry whiz and comic book fanatic named Theo teams up with his group of friends to take down a bully, Tobias, who has discovered dangerous super powers. This may sound like Netflix’s newest series. In fact, it is The Suit, the brainchild of Vassar College Television (VCTV), Vassar’s student-led production group. Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:00 p.m., in Rockefeller Hall 200, VCTV is premiering their television series’ third and final episode, comprised of two parts, “Part I: Culprit” and “Part II: I’ll Be Ready,” in which Theo has been held hostage by Tobias at a secret location on campus, while the rest of the gang works to discover clues as to where Theo could be. VCTV, despite being a relatively new presence on campus, has gained a loyal membership and following. It was started last year and now has fifty active members and a general body of approximately eighty-five students, many of whom participated in the production of The Suit’s first two episodes filmed last year. Reflecting the large population it works with and serves, VCTV is run by an executive board. Three Executive Producers—Wendel Smith ’14, Charley Button ’15, and Nicole Glantz ’15—serve a role akin to most organizations’ Vice-President position. Specifically, the executive board runs the organization and steps in wherever necessary. The team works with a board of producers of the organization’s branches, who guides the future direction of VCTV. They also oversee a board of directors, who supervise VCTV projects currently in production. About The Suit, Smith and Button wrote in an emailed statement, “This series was wrapped in May last year, thus, we closed production on the project. However, Post-Production continued into the summer for completing editing for Episode 2, and beginning editing for Episode 3. We are excited to have
finally finished this series and premiere it for the Vassar community, and the cast and crew for The Suit.” This lengthy editing process speaks to the series’ emphasis on post-production, particularly on special effects. “This series places visual effects and superhero fictional storytelling at the forefront. We wanted to scale our series to make it ambitious and technically challenging. We take advantage of industry standard tools such as After Effects to give our actors their super powers (e.g. Theo’s super-strength and Tobias’s lightning power),” wrote Smith and Button. VCTV members Doug Greer ’14 and Ben Kaufman ’15 echoed the assertions of VCTV’s Executive Producers. “The Suit is supremely edited,” said Kaufman. Greer, who acts in the series in a supporting role, noted, “I loved doing VCTV! Everything is such high quality and everyone working on it is so committed.” The Suit is the creative product of VCTV’s 2012-2013 “Series” branch. Smith and Button explained, “The Series is a unique collaboration of a large group of filmmakers with different specialties, joining together to create a large scale production. We aim to create professional quality, entertaining content for both the Vassar audience and the online community.” This year, VCTV is currently involved in the production of a new series, The Witness, created by James Pederson ’17. The Witness explores the lives of a group of ambitious students on a college newspaper staff. VCTV is also in the process of expanding VCTV 2U, their newest branch, for producing creative shorts and providing filming services to the Vassar community. Smith and Button wrote, “VCTV 2U encourages any and all members of the Vassar Community to submit ideas they have for a film project. We get a team of experienced members around them to help make their project become a success. This has also led to quite successful collaborations with other
Co-Executive Producer Wendel Smith ’14, pictured at center, works with cast members. The third episode of the VCTV series, The Suit, will premiere on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Rockefeller Hall.
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November 21, 2013
Prince’s photography influenced by artistic heritage Charlacia Dent reporter
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
hen she was around six years old, Alisa Prince ’14 made a life-size mural of her family on a wall inside her house out of crayons. She was never reprimanded by her parents like many children of her age would have been had they pulled a stunt like that. The photographer, printmaker and Editor-in-Chief of the ALANA Center publication Images explained that it was at this time in her life that she first became deeply attracted to art, and she has pursued it ever since. “It wasn’t so much a moment when I knew I wanted to be an artist; it was just all I was surrounded by,” Prince shared. Prince comes from a close-knit family of artist, a support network which has encouraged her to also pursue the arts. Her grandfather, Archy Lasalle, is a well-known photographer and educator who graduated with honors from the Massachusetts College of Art in Photography in 1982. LaSalle’s photos have appeared in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, DeCordova Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, the American Center in Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art to name a few. LaSalle frequently travels around the world lecturing on works of art and sharing his craft with the world. “My family has always been close to me and supportive. I was just born into a family that really valued the arts and so for me art and family have always worked hand-in-hand. In high school, I worked with my grandfather a lot and studied under him. That year I saved up and bought my first camera, a Canon Rebel,” Prince shared. This idea of family and community is a central element in Prince’s work. Step into her room on campus and you will find black and white photographs of her mother, sisters, aunts and grandparents covering all four walls.
“Memory is a huge part of the work that I do. I’m interested in documenting my life, who I’m with, where I go, the things I get a chance to see and then visualize,” Prince explained. For her senior thesis, Prince is looking at contemporary black photographers as well as black photographers over time and how they have managed to use the medium to uplift the black community by tapping into memory through positive images of African American life. “I’m working with my thesis advisor Lisa Gail Collins, and drawing from her work as well, to bring my thesis together and consider how representations of black people though photography affect the community as a whole,” Prince explained. Collins teaches on many topics, including courses on African American visual art and material culture, interdisciplinary African American history, feminist thought and social and cultural movements in the United States of America. She is the author of several scholarly books, such as The Art of History: African American Woman Artists Engage the Past, and Art by African American Artists: Selections from the 20th century. In her research, Prince is also learning from the likes of Deborah Willis, a world renowned photographer and chair of the Photographic Imaging department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Earlier this year, Prince had the opportunity to meet Willis and speak with her about her thesis at Willis’ book talk in the Hudson Valley titled “Envisioning the Emancipation.” The book retraces and analyzes historical photographs of African American life during and after slavery in order to articulate the representation of black life in circulation then and now. “She told me when taking photographs to try and think about the presence of the subject and how it’s important,” Prince said in reference to her interactions with Willis. At Vassar, Prince continues to uphold the
Alisa Prince ’14 is the Editor-in-Chief of the ALANA Center’s annual publication, Images. A photographer and print-maker, her senior thesis about contemporary black photographers. tradition of creating a way for people of color any individuals affiliated with the ALANA center to voice a powerful presence on campus. As the Editor-in-Chief of Images, Prince advertises every spring semester for the submission of photographs, poetry and short stories for publication in the center’s student magazine. The goal of the magazine is to spotlight different artists on campus who are often underrepresented and allow their voices to be showcased. It is also a chance to welcome new writers and artists into the ALANA center community. Each year, a cash prize is awarded to the most impressive piece of work in the collection. Prince spoke to the role of the ALANA center magazine. “I’m really into the idea of
creating art and then sharing it with the community, which is what Images is for. Images creates a space at Vassar where I can meet artists I ordinarily wouldn’t have. It also gives me an opportunity to share my own work, as well as learn from studying other artists crafts,” Prince stated. After Vassar, Prince aspires to pursue a Master’s in Fine Arts in Photography and eventually join the ranks of art scholars and historians who came before her and who highly influenced her own path to self-discovery as an artist. In a few years, she hopes to join the ranks of her grandfather, displaying her photographs world-wide. “There’s always an opportunity to create art and enjoy yourself, so do what you love,” said Prince.
VRDT final show to feature faculty, student choreography Samantha Kohl reporter
assar Repertory Dance Theater (VRDT) will be performing their Final Showings from Nov. 21 through Nov. 23 at the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater. Performances will be held at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. VRDT is Vassar’s faculty-run dance company and will be exhibiting 19 pieces in Final Showings. The program will consist of 12 numbers choreographed by students, five choreographed by individual faculty members, a piece done by the entire dance faculty and a piece by a special guest, which will be “Laireigne,” by American choreographer Stephen Petronio. The group is excited for the performance
and eager to exhibit the talent of their novice and senior members. Professor of Dance John Meehan divulged, “We...happen to have excellent dancers. The level is much higher even than usual, and the enthusiasm is definitely much higher right across the board, from the freshmen to seniors.” Matt Ortile ’14 spoke to the excitement of seeing the pieces come together. “It’s exciting to see the stage where everyone is currently starting to finish up their pieces. It’s going to be very exciting,” he said. Ortile began studying dance on a more serious level after entering Vassar as a freshman; Ortile started his first year at Vassar by taking Miriam Madahviani-Goldstone’s Beginning Ballet classes and has yet to look back.
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
Vassar Repertory Dance Theater students rehearse for their fall Final Showings. The group will perform from Nov. 21 through Nov. 23 at 8:00 p.m. in the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater.
Ortile was immediately taken with dance and has been an active member of VRDT and FlyPeople, a student-run dance organization on campus, throughout the entirety of his Vassar career. Though VRDT Final Showings will exhibit 12 student-choreographed pieces, originally 14 students volunteered to choreograph—a testament to the enthusiasm of this year’s company. “It’s a really big season this year,” said Ortile, who originally planned to choreograph a piece as well but had to pull out due to time constraints and thesis work. “There were so many student pieces and we were fighting over so many people just because everybody is so talented and people were getting stressed and there is a very limited space and resources that we have available in Kenyon,” said Ortile. “So that was a little sad, but in a way it is kind of cool because dance is now really growing at Vassar. Students more than ever now are more inspired to create new works for the company, and it’s been really cool watching everything grow from the First Showings [which took place on Oct. 9] and now to our Final Showings,” Ortile continued. “When we asked for choreographic proposals this year we had 14 people come forward, which I think is the most ever of VRDT,” said Meehan. The students then had to find a cast, rehearsal times and studio space. Five pieces have been choreographed by individual faculty members, including Professor of Dance Stephen Rooks and Senior Lecturer in Drama Katherine Wildberger, both of whom specialize in modern dance, and Adjunct Instructor in Dance Abby Saxon, who teaches jazz. In addition, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Miriam Madahviani-Goldstone and Meehan, specialists in ballet, have choreographed pieces. “I have taught five of the solos from ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ and then I have choreographed a little entrance and a little coda that goes at
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either end of the solos,” Meehan described of his piece, which consists of four freshman and one sophomore. Madahviani has choreographed an original piece specifically for the VRDT students. She choreographed a near-classical ballet dance that includes a large deal of partnering, which makes it an atypical performance piece for the group. This year’s guest choreographer featured in the show is Stephen Petronio, a famed dancer and choreographer and the artistic director of the Stephen Petronio Company based in New York City. A dancer from Petronio’s company has been setting the choreography of an excerpt from Petronio’s “Lareigne” for VRDT. “His choreography is very amazing but also very challenging. He created ‘Lareigne’ for the 10th or 20th anniversary of his company. It’s been a pretty big deal—they’ve been spending a lot of time on it, so it is going to be very exciting to show that,” said Ortile. Meehan added, “He is a very well thought of modern choreographer, kind of cutting edge—so we had some very intense rehearsals. It is one and a half casts, it is very athletic and it is very complicated. It has its still moments and then moments where everyone is doing something different. There is a lot of what you could say ‘traffic.’ So it takes a lot of rehearsal and is very impressive.” Practice has indeed been an intense process and has been going on for nine weeks. The company underwent a late start in their process; auditions were held later in the year than is customary and practice time was lost due to October break. “It’s been really amazing to see what the choreographers have come up with in such a short amount of time,” attested Ortile. “While the time span between First and Final Showings is only a few short weeks, so much is achieved. I grew and learned from the amazing and inspiring dancers all around me,” said new VRDT member Zerlina Panush ’17.
November 21, 2013
Kaleidoscope Thor sequel a fun, convoluted adventure returns after year hiatus Max Rook Columnist
Thor: The Dark World Alan Taylor Walt Disney Studios
DANCE continued from page 1 enamel and rhinestones. Her representations of African American women explore perceptions of black female identity, power and sexuality. She collaborated with a recent visitor to Vassar, Solange Knowles, by creating the artwork for a special, limited edition of Knowles’ EP, True. She also created the first individual portrait of Michelle Obama and has done portraits of many other prominent black women, such as Oprah Winfrey and the late Whitney Houston. “My work’s about looking at images of black women and reinserting them into the art historical canon. I don’t really have a choice–that’s where my work has to come from, using taste and class and the idea of femininity, because none of these things appear in art history in relation to black women,” Thomas told artist Robert Ayers in an interview. (A Sky Filled With Shooting Stars, “I think every artist would like to be a rock star: Robert Ayers in conversation with Mickalene Thomas.”) “You still don’t see them, because usually when you do see images of black women they’re in a position of servitude. So for me it’s just aligning these women with the other women who were presented in art history,” she added. Tamika sur une chaise lounge is an example of this alignment, and the photograph is in conversation with Édouard Manet’s painting Olympia (1863). “This painting has a lot to do with Olympia, the gaze of this female figure is so much like Manet’s Olympia, and then you have the black female figure [in the background of] Manet’s work, with the flowers, which are still there, so now the black servant has become Olympia in a way,” explained Interim Andrew W. Mellon Coordinator of Academic Affairs Anna Mecugni. Mecugni organized the event and chose Thomas’ work for the project. The photograph depicts an African American woman reclining on a sofa in a 1970s style room, with wood paneling, bright patterns in the furniture and the woman’s clothing, and fake plants. The woman stares directly at the camera, with her blouse opened to partially reveal her breasts. Mecugni spoke to the societal implications the artwork addresses. which will be further explored at the event. “These are major issues in contemporary society and it’s important for everyone to think about them together, so how is race and gender represented and what do we do with that, how do we perceive it and how do we discuss it, and what does it mean to have a semi-naked black female figure in a sensual pose?” explained Mecugni. The work, according to Mecugni, brings to the surface questions surrounding societal perceptions of black female sexuality. “I think this is one of the main questions this work poses: is this work endorsing or criticizing, or inserting this criticality in the idea of the overly-sexualized black female body?” she stated. Furthermore, Mecugni explained that Thomas’ work is also in conversation with the Blaxploitation film genre of the 1970s, evidenced by the ’70s clothing and interior decoration in the picture. The panel plans to discuss Blaxploitation in relation to the work. “There’s one [film] titled Coffy that’s incredible. It features a really sexy, self-assertive and powerful female as the main character,” said Mecugni. Mecugni stated that she sees elements of the film’s protagonist in the photograph. “That expression—she is very much there. She’s almost confrontational,” said Mecugni. “There’s something self-assertive here that is key, I think. It helps us think through the way we present ourselves, and what is identity.” Mecugni emphasized that this dialogue is particularly geared for Vassar students. “We really want to have a lot of dialogue with the audience in contribution to the panel, really a discussion, and to hear from the audience. We really hope to get a lot of students to engage in the conversation,” she stated. The discussion will be held in Taylor Hall 203 on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m. A reception will follow in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center that will feature a 1970s-inspired soul, R&B and funk soundtrack.
hen the first X-Men movie came out 13 years ago, marking the beginning of the modern era of superhero movies, no one was quite prepared for how that one genre would come to dominate the world of Hollywood blockbusters. For a while, it was actually a rather exciting genre, and truly great films like Batman Begins and Spider-Man 2 garnered most of the success, while less interesting takes on the concept like The Punisher films fell by the wayside. Today, superhero movies have become the norm, and are increasingly at risk of becoming stale. Thor: the Dark World is the fourth major superhero film of the year, and that’s not even counting smaller takes on the concept like the summer’s Kick-Ass 2. Thor also represents the most recent attempt at innovation within the genre: the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” an interconnected series of movies all existing within one fictional narrative, linking characters like Iron Man and Captain America together. It is easy to read this as a financially motivated system, an attempt by Marvel to retain the same audience for every one of their releases. However, it also hints at how the genre may be able to move forward and adapt. Thor: the Dark World is set in the aftermath of last year’s Avengers, although it is more a continuation of the story of the first Thor movie. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to his homeworld of Asgard with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) captive, and begins the process which will eventually lead to him claiming his father’s throne, which seems to consist of traveling to various CGI-filled worlds and fighting generic enemies.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, his one true love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is sitting around wondering why her superhero boyfriend hasn’t called her, and stumbles onto some magical substance called the Aether, which is evidently very powerful. Plot is not this movie’s strong suit. The film actually begins with an expository flashback explaining the villain Malekith’s (Christopher Eccleston) origins that borders on nonsensical, and only exists because there was no good way to fit that information into the main plot. Despite all that, Thor is an enjoyable romp, mostly because of its excellent cast. At the center is Hemsworth’s charming, charismatic hero, a character who could easily have come across as a dumb brute. Hemsworth has the sort of magnetic, movie-star presence that so few of the actors of his generation seem to have, which makes watching him on the screen so fun. Hiddleston’s Loki is every bit his match. After his two previous appearances as a film’s primary antagonist, he is moved into a more morally ambiguous role here, and he continues to excel. The scenes between the two of them are easily the film’s highlight, showcasing a brotherly rivalry that has a dark, violent undercurrent. The deep supporting cast rounds out the movie, although most of the side characters are underwritten. In particular, Kat Dennings and Idris Elba, as Jane’s intern Darcy and Asgard’s guardian Heimdall, respectively, manage to create memorable characters out of a script that views them as plot devices. It’s a surprisingly funny film, with a number of laugh-out-loud gags, and it moves along at a speedy clip, keeping a good balance between exposition and action. Marvel brought on TV director Alan Taylor to lead the project, and while he mostly sticks to the visual style established by Kenneth Branagh in the first movie, he manages to create a lively energy where Branagh’s direction felt staid.
Taylor also inherits the structural problems of the first film, which are so built into the story’s premise that I’m not sure how they could be fixed. In short, the Thor movies split their time between two worlds: the high fantasy of Asgard, and the super-heroics of Earth, with the romance between Thor and Jane as the link between the two. Those two worlds simply do not mesh together well, and Jane is such a bland character that the romance doesn’t work either. Portman does her best, but Jane is just another in the long line of superheroes’ love interests who primarily exist to be rescued. And Malekith pales in comparison to Loki’s villainous turns, especially since he spends much of the film speaking in some made-up fantasy language, which doesn’t give Eccleston much opportunity to act. Perhaps it seems odd that I’d spend so much time disparaging this movie’s plot and then praising its integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the secret of these interlocking movies is that the connections aren’t really about the story. They’re about character. Loki’s role in this movie would never work without his descent into ego-maniacal villainy in The Avengers, and Thor’s continual growth is similarly rooted in his repeat appearances. Of course, the connections between these movies have created some problems, too. Loki remains the only memorable villain any of the films have created, and Marvel’s attempts to create a consistent visual style across all of their movies has restricted many of their directors. Still, Thor’s mid-credits tease of next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy—which is followed by a post-credits scene, so make sure you stay until the very end—is so bizarre that it suggests Marvel is willing to branch out. Thor: the Dark World is a fun movie, certainly, but it’s fairly predictable. If we can get away from origin stories and super-villains smashing up buildings, maybe the superhero genre still has some life left.
About Time’s appeal lies in its subtlety Lily Sloss Columnist
About Time Richard Curtis Universal Pictures
or me, it was always going to be about love.” So spouts the protagonist of About Time, the romantic comedy illustrating a young man’s inherited ability to travel through time. If you had the same gift, would you use it as wisely? Tim, played to great success by Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, learns on his 21st birthday that all the men in his family can travel through time. The revelation comes as a surprise since Tim’s father has led a relatively “normal” life, at least in the traditional sense. He lives with his wife, his two children, Tim and Kit Kat, and Uncle Desmond (of an ambiguous relation). He reads constantly, plays with his children and spends Friday evenings drinking tea and watching a movie with the gang. When Dad explains Tim’s newfound power to him, he also delineates the stipulations. Tim can only go where he has existed before; he cannot go back and “kill Hitler” or “sleep with Helen of Troy” as his father commiserates. His father warns him against using it for money, since he doesn’t know a single wealthy person who is truly happy, but that never proves a weakness for Tim anyhow. He yearns for love. At the moment of his 21st birthday, his deepest desire is for a swell girlfriend. After falling in love with Charlotte (Margot Robbie), a vivacious blonde who stays with the family over the summer, but being ultimately unable to seduce her despite his power, Tim moves to London to begin his career as a lawyer and search for romance. His dreams are answered, as dreams so often are, by Rachel McAdams. I call her Rachel McAdams here, because she plays in this film, as she always does, her-
self. The screenwriters can maintain that she’s “insecure” because she has a new “fringe,” but Rachel McAdams is not insecure. She can have bangs for days, but she knows at the end of the day she is hot shit. We just as easily could have been watching “Becky Fuller” from Morning Glory, “Clare” from The Family Stone, “Claire Cleary” from Wedding Crashers or “Lisa Reisert” from Red Eye. All characters are as follows: Rachel McAdams playing Rachel McAdams. Regardless, “Mary” surfaces as just the woman for Tim. She is charming in her tactlessness, her overeager smile and her instant attachment to him. Although obstacles appear, Tim weds Mary and the film follows his life with her, their children and Tim’s family in Cornwall. The theme, as typical as it is ever-present, begs viewers to live life to the fullest and recognize that “love actually is all around us.” Wait, that’s another film. The two are certainly comparable. Sorry, Hugh Grant. I attended the film with my friend Tay-Bo, and despite its inherently corny message, we both found About Time exceptionally engaging. Although Tay explained its likability was equated with the protagonists’ “gangly ging[er]” physical characteristics, I would argue you do not need to be a redhead lover to enjoy it. Domhnall Gleeson is fantastic, ideally suited to play an awkward, childlike, loving man. Nearly every character in the film is just as delightful. Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) steals every scene as the wild, passionate, tender-hearted little sister. Unfortunately susceptible to the wiles of boyfriend Jimmy Kincade, Kit Kat proclaims herself to be the “faller” of the family, the one who, despite everyone’s best efforts, cannot succeed. Tim, loving brother that he is, goes back in time with her so that she never meets her selfish boyfriend. Upon the disastrous results of the switch, Tim realizes that Kit Kat has to date Jimmy, otherwise, everything in his life would be different. Instead, Tim (upon excellent advice from Rachel McAdams) waits for Kit Kat to realize herself that she cannot date him any-
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more—she must pull her life together. The film makes the obvious point that life has struggles even in the best of circumstances, but that you handle difficulties as best you can and make the most of your moments with the ones you love. As I review the film’s themes, it seems impossible that I liked About Time, because it was so unbelievably clichéd—but I did. The characters are charming and quirky in seemingly unrehearsed ways. This is not a typical blockbuster formulaic family; it is an “every-person” family. In the father I recognized my father’s perpetual inclination towards tea, books and lengthy conversations with his kids. The relationship between Kit Kat and Tim reminded me of my sister’s unsurpassed ability for enthusiasm and my brother’s obsession with snuggle-wrestling. The most surprising illumination resulted from Tim’s relationship with his own kids, reminiscent of my other brother and his two little girls. Who knew About Time would not foster an interest in falling in love but recollect my incapability for any type of independence from my family? As I mentioned earlier, the inclusion of Rachel McAdams as a protagonist undoubtedly hurts the narrative following the love story. The film succeeds in spite of her strange bodily gestures and valley girl speak, not because of it. I do not want to completely knock her acting abilities because she is incredibly consistent in her exhibition of the same characteristics in all of her roles, but I do think her lack of range was highlighted by the talented actors around her. The most apt way to describe About Time is “sweet.” The love story between husband and wife, father and son, and a man and his family is archaic. However, the sweetness does not counteract the film’s significance. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of what is truly important in life. The film is especially successful because it does not hit audiences over the head with its theme, but rather the narrative rings so true that viewers can intuit the message themselves.
November 21, 2013
Bold colors splash walls of Palmer Gallery Matthew McCardwell Guest reporter
tep into the Palmer Gallery and you will find bright landscapes built through bold shapes and colors. On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Palmer Gallery held an opening for the exhibition, “Here, There and Everywhere,” a body of work by Hudson River Valley artist Lily Prince which will be on display through Dec. 19. The event included a gallery viewing with classical music performed by Jack Cazet ’15. Prince came to be connected with Vassar in 2012 when she gave a lecture for the Art Department. “I gave a talk at Vassar last December about photo portraits I did for a book by writer Richard Klin Something To Say: Thoughts on Art and Politics in America, published by Leapfrog Press, 2011. I really loved meeting Vassar students and was so impressed with them and I love the campus and the atmosphere,” Prince wrote in an emailed statement. The artist then contacted the Associate Director of the Palmer Gallery Monica Church and Assistant Dean of the College for Campus Activities Teresa Quinn in the spring of 2013 to discuss the possibility of displaying her work at the College. “She seemed very excited about the possibility of exhibiting here. We had never seen her work in person, we had just seen the gallery online,” said Quinn. “So we took a journey to Stone Ridge this summer and saw the work in her studio.” “I am thrilled to share my paintings and drawings with the Vassar community. The Palmer Gallery is a great space and it has been wonderful working with both of the curators, who are so supportive of my work,” Prince wrote. Prince holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as a Master’s in Fine Arts in Painting from the Bard College Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. She has held residences and fellowships at the BAU Institute in Italy, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Bronx Museum. Prince
studied abroad with Rhode Island School of Design’s European Honors Program in Rome. In addition to being widely showcased and published, Prince has served as an Associate Professor at William Paterson University. Prince has exhibited nationally and internationally, including in locations such as England, Germany, Israel, Poland, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the artist’s website. The exhibition is an eclectic range of large canvas oil paintings, small watercolor works on paper and oil pastel drawings. “They are all very vibrant,” said Church. “With the watercolors, she does a really nice job of having them not be sentimental. There is a really nice element of drawing in them and in her paintings.” Prince’s process behind these pieces begins with en plein air black and white landscape drawings that influence larger versions and combinations of the pieces. These evolve into abstract paintings in the artist’s studio. “I take to heart the adage that beauty is the greatest form of protest. Working en plein air, out in the landscape, I attempt to take what I experience observationally in nature and translate it into a language of personal expression and universal significance,” Prince wrote. “I consider myself an explorer of specific terrains, studying the atmosphere of diverse spaces. In these times of environmental and societal devastation, I consider it a political act to immerse myself in the landscape to record the natural beauty lurking there: perhaps to incite the arousal of sentiment, a stirring of connectedness.” The exhibit focuses on the relationship and expression of memories, experiences and place. “I am interpreting the work as abstraction, but yet the pieces are of these landscapes that give people an in who may not be familiar with abstraction,” said Church. “I think in terms of the way we will install the space, it will really be dependent on the way the works respond to each other so that they will be able to show their own voice or memory or expe-
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rience, but still have a dialogue with the other pieces in the room.” The Palmer Gallery strives for variance among exhibitions. “We try to bring in visual shows that are different from one show to another,” said Quinn. Prince’s show will include a combination of her plein air drawings and works with different oil mediums. “Plein air drawings function as research for my larger studio works, which are included in this show Here, There and Everywhere. My works in this show are either oil paintings on canvas, watercolor paintings, oil pastel drawings or the unusual combination of oil pastel drawing with watercolor,” wrote Prince. The previous show at the Palmer was a collection of photos by Vassar alumna Andrea Baldeck ’72. Quinn said, “This show is black and white and the next show will be very colorful and free.” This process does not always work out for the curating duo because of annual shows that are constricting; however, they do experiment with ways in which the gallery is assembled and perceived by the audience. Church works with Quinn to decide what shows will be in the gallery and with the artists to see how much help they will need to get their pieces ready for the space. “Usually they will leave the works with me or I might pick the work,” said Church. “Some shows I just come up with the concept and the artist. Other shows I pick the work and really serve as a curator. For [Prince’s] show, we are allowing her to bring whatever she wants and then once it is here I will edit. Sometimes people bring too much work and we want it to be viewed in the best possible way.” Each exhibition opening strives to integrate the public with the art in a social and appropriate manner. Prior to the opening, Church commented on her excitement regarding the musical contribution from student Cazet. “We have been trying to get a nice collaboration between the Musical Department, so we are very excited to have him.” The exhibition is free and open to the public. submit to email@example.com
Excuse me, How good is your hand turkey?
“Ughhhh...” —Katilau M(alik) ’14
“3 out of 10.” —Ethan Cohen ’16
“Pretty awkward.” —Phoebe Reuben ’17
“Almost as good as my little brother’s.” —Audrey Aller ’17
“Terrible.” —McKenzie Quinn ’14
Lions: big, fuzzy cats with sleek, powerful bodies. I attempted to capture the warmth and security I associate with these social cats. They are among my favorite animals to draw, and I find them fascinating in their majesty. However, in recent years, we have lost more than 90 percent of the world’s lion population. And over the last decade, two thirds of lion trophies have ended up in the United States. Yet these animals are still not listed as endangered. I made this drawing after a year of travel away from Vassar as a reminder of the rare beauties in the world. As a reminder to tackle everything with energy and passion—with color—regardless of where you are. For me, drawing is an outlet; sometimes an escape, sometimes a means to stay grounded. — Vivian Kalea ’14
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“Overcooked.” —Jessy Yu ’16
Lily Doyle, Humor & Satire Editor Spencer Davis, Photo Editor
November 21, 2013
Despite experienced roster, Nets seem poised to flop Zach Rippe Columnist
wo seasons ago, the lowly Nets left their temporary home in Newark, New Jersey for the bustling city of Brooklyn and went through an overhaul of image, talent, and relevance. The Nets went 49-33 last season, good enough for the franchise’s second best record ever, and yet suddenly that type of performance was irrelevant. The Nets boasted premier talent at the Center and Point Guard positions in Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, as well as a deep bench that at times was referred to as the “bench mob.” Yet inconsistent coaching and lack of an identity and toughness led them to a first round exit against a much scrappier Chicago Bulls team that won more with its heart than its skill. Thus, in order to keep team owner and evil genius, Mikhail Prokhorov, satisfied, the team would have to do even more. Sure, its new sleek black uniforms, hip new advertising campaign and state-of-the-art arena made it look nice, but that roster was never going to win a championship. So, GM Billy King set out with Prokhorov’s seemingly unlimited sum of money and attempted to create the NBA’s next super team. During the offseason he acquired aging superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, two Celtics who are sure locks for the Hall of Fame, along with sharpshooter and former sixth man of the year Jason Terry. He then boldly hired New Jersey Nets legend Jason Kidd as Head Coach. A risky decision, the hiring was certainly glitzy
and fresh; Kidd is one of the greatest basketball minds in the game today. Then, the Nets caused commotion around the league when they signed veteran Andrei Kirilenko for next to nothing in what was seen as Russian corruption . With 35 all-star appearances between their starters and what seemed like by far the deepest bench in the league, the Nets frankly looked terrifying. Garnett and Pierce would bring not only a championship mentality to the Nets but also a sense of toughness, aggression and cohesion. Deron Williams was supposedly healthy and Brook Lopez keeps getting bigger, stronger and hopefully meaner as well. This would be the team to challenge the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference crown. But then... the season started. The Nets opened up in Cleveland and lost narrowly, yet this was understandable as they had not yet developed chemistry. Their next game against the Heat was displayed on a national stage and gave the Nets a chance to show the Heat and the rest of the league what they were truly capable of . Things went perfectly. The Nets’ deep, balanced veteran roster consistently held a safe lead over Miami for the majority of the second half and held on to win by one. Critics began calling the Nets legitimate and predicted that they could indeed go all the way this year. But then the team kept playing. They lost big to the Orlando Magic, a quick, young, athletic team. They narrowly lost to the Pacers, but got blown out by the Sacramento Kings, the worst
team in the NBA. To put it kindly, the Nets have been sluggish, lethargic, careless, and complacent. Kevin Garnett is shooting 30 percent from the field and chucking full court baseball passes that are constantly intercepted. Deron Williams still seems off as his ankle injury was a lot worse than he and the team let on. Lopez is soft and struggles against other formidable centers. Jason Terry has not been hitting shots, Andray Blatche looks as if he cares more about throwing behind the back passes than winning games—I could go on and on. Paul Pierce has been somewhat consistent, yet his production is not nearly enough.
“This would be the team to challenge the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference crown. But then...the season started. ” Kevin Garnett was expected to help the team just as much off the court with his fiery personality and winning attitude. Yes, while he yells at teammates and seems to have created unity, it does not translate to an increased intensity for anyone on the court. Instead, Coach Kidd literally dumbed down this team of savvy all-star
veterans. Welcome back to the iso-basketball Nets. Oh and speaking of Coach Jason Kidd… His drunk driving incident off the court before last season was detestable, but Kidd’s demeanor on the sideline seems to be even worse. He is emotionless. Kidd seems to have no effect on his players; nothing he says or does fires them up. The Nets go down by 20, Kidd sits in his seat with a blank look on his face. The Nets go up by 20, Kidd sits in his seat with a blank look on his face. I don’t get it. The Nets are old, the second oldest team in the league. They simply can’t catch up to the majority of the young teams in the league as their age has already caught up with them. Sure their shots will start to fall eventually, but will that be enough? Garnett has been a non-factor on defense and Williams does not look as if he will ever be the same player he was in Utah. Is this team going to flop like last year’s Lakers? It honestly is too early to tell. But the problems they are facing do not seem to be nearly as fixable as they did in theory. The Nets may just be too old and laggy. Kidd was a great leader on the court and is a genius basketball mind, but does he have the fire to ignite this veteran squad? They must play big every night, not just against the Miami Heat. Knowing these veterans, it seems impossible that they will not do everything in their power to change something and make it work. But did the league’s highest paid team miss their already incredibly short window before it even became tangible?
Tournament to be held at Odom acquisition could pay James Madison University off for either Clippers, Lakers
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he wrote. “To go on and defeat the defending champions and local rivals, Marist College, was redemption for losing narrowly to them three times last year.” Senior co-captain Karl Foley also noted that these losses created a tough start to the season. In terms of redemption, Jdaydani agreed that, “The big win was at Marist where we avenged last year’s regular season loss and put us ahead of the previous conference frontrunner.” He continued, “In the playoffs, we avenged our loss to Seton Hall from earlier in the year with a close victory. Right after that, we defeated Marist again to seal our comeback from the two losses that plagued us earlier in the season.” In its Tri-State Championship game vs. Marist College, the men’s rugby team ultimately defeated the Red Foxes 11-5. Junior Jesse Myhill has one try for the Brewers, while junior flyhalf Nick Graham had two pens. The team had originally played Marist earlier in the season on November 3, winning 34-12. According to Jdaydani, this was the season-changing win for the team. “The Marist game turned the season around for us. I was surprised by how well we played,” he wrote. Foley also agreed, saying, “We started hitting our stride at the right moment with big wins this past month.” After several key losses on the roster from last year, including the graduated Akeel St. Vil, the Brewers needed the returning talent in order to improve. However, according to Coach Brown, the team has not disappointed at all this year: “Players have stepped up and shown very good progress and performed with consistency so we have developed an identity and real shape. In particular, Nick Graham [’15], who moved from fullback to flyhalf, has been very good,” he wrote. “In addition, our young forwards have all put in some big performances and our fringe defense is vastly better than last year.” Graham leads the team in points so far, with a total of 92 points. He has scored 31 tries and 10 pens. Second on the team is Jdaydani, having 50 points for his 10 tries. Foley also explained the effect from the loss of players: “Losing players is always difficult, and we lost some size and experience in the pack. But the underclassmen have truly stepped up.” He continued, “Their dedication, combined with the excellent coaching of Tony Brown and Mark Griffiths, has filled the large gap the graduating ruggers left us with. How-
ever, I would also like to note that the ruggers from previous years left a precedence of excellence.” Jdaydani also touched upon the roster. “We have bounced back really well from having lost all the players we did last year,” he wrote. “The young forwards really stepped up and demonstrated their knowledge of the game and commitment putting their bodies on the line for the team week in and week out.” Looking forward with Nationals coming up, the team and coaches are confident. According to Jdaydani, “Having won the conference playoffs, we are confident about our chances in Nationals (Round of 16). We have proved ourselves capable of defeating a much larger and athletic team. I think everyone on the team is energized at the end of a very long and rough season for the great chance we have to prove ourselves on a national stage.” Coach Brown reiterated much of the same, saying that, “The team has steadily improved and overcome some injuries that perhaps in the past might have derailed the team. We have a week to prepare for the USA Rugby Championship Round of 16. We do not yet know our opponent but I feel the team is confident in what we do and how we play.” According to Coach Brown, preparation for Nationals has been the same as it has been all season. Jdaydani, when asked about the practice schedule, said, “Rugby is a Varsity club sport and with many of the players maintaining commitments outside the sport (theater performances, VRDT, clubs, house team, etc.) we have a practice schedule of three two-hour practices a week at the beautiful farm.” Both Jdaydani and Foley had effusive praise for one another. Regarding Jdaydani, Foley said, “[Jdaydani] has done a great job of leading the team on and off the field this semester.” In reference to Foley, Jdaydani said, “Foley’s contributions to the team have made a huge difference as he continually motivates the lads with his commitment and drive to win.” Both co-captains also wanted to make sure that the women’s team was congratulated for its recent success, qualifying for the National Final Four. As a whole, the Vassar College rugby program has attained incredible success. Coach Brown wants it known that it is through the players hard work, effort and attitude: “The students who represent Vassar College on the Rugby field certainly do deserve recognition for their hard work and results thus far and I am glad [they] are giving us the platform to do so.”
Eli J. Vargas I Columnist
amar Odom is a risky acquisition if he decides to join the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers. Both Los Angeles franchises have shown interest and have been monitoring Lamar Odom as of late, and the Clippers have gone as far as having a meeting with him. The move would make sense for both teams, considering he has been living in LA and has played for both franchises recently. However, he is not the player that he once was, and these franchises should not expect him to be more than a bench player. If the Clippers do decide to sign Lamar Odom, they will most likely go in knowing that he is a liability and a large gamble. When he was at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, he seemed to cause a lot of trouble. His ACT test scores were questioned, he was cited by the Las Vegas Police Department and he received payments from a booster. In his first few years in the NBA, Odom tested positive for drug use twice in a span of only eight months. However, while he was part of the Lakers, he cleaned up his behavior, and he seemed to have a stronger handle on things. These past few seasons Lamar Odom has not shown himself to be in control of his personal life and has let it affect his play on the court. After discovering that the Lakers attempted to trade him in the botched Chris Paul trade during the summer of 2011, he was understandably disgruntled and requested a trade. As as result, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks later. During the 2011-2012 season with the Dallas Mavericks, he left the team mid-season after his play had took a turn for the worse, and he had a feud with management. This was a far cry from the season he had before with the Lakers, where he had earned sixth-manof-the-year honors. In addition to this, his game splits went down from 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds in 28.4 minutes in 2010-2011 to 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game in 50 during the 2011-2012 while he was an important member of the Mavericks. During the offseason he was traded to the Clippers, and he did not have much success during that season either. Although he did play in all 82 games of the regular season, he only posted stats of 4.0 points 5.9 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game. It did not help that throughout these seasons, he was also filming his Keeping Up With the Kardashians
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spin-off, Khloe and Lamar. This led some to believe that instead of focusing his time and energy into returning back to form, he was focusing more on his Hollywood career. After last year’s season, Odom completed the large four-year, $33 million contract that he originally signed with the Lakers, therefore becoming a free-agent. During this offseason he had not signed with a team, and it was also reported that he had been struggling with substance abuse. Because of this, his face was on the daily tabloids on a consistent basis. Recently he has been arrested for driving under the influence. So it may be safe to say that he will not be receiving an offer as large as the one he had previously signed with the Lakers. But at 33 years old and being six-footten inches tall , Odom may still have something to offer interested franchises, but the question is whether or not he will put in the work to focus and resemble the player that he was a mere two seasons ago. The Los Angeles Clippers are not the best defensive team, coming in at 28th out of 32 teams with 105.7 point allowed per game. However, Odom may actually be able to add something to the defensive mind-set that new Head Coach Doc Rivers is attempting to implement this season. The Los Angeles Clippers rank first in points scored with 110.0 points per game, and if they add a lengthy defender such as Lamar Odom, the Clippers can come a long way in widening the gap that has become so small in retrospect between their points allowed and points per game. The potential upside for Odom appears to be great, especially considering that he will not be expected to be a main contributor on a team that has floor general Chris Paul, the exciting Blake Griffin and a great defender in DeAndre Jordan. If Odom is unable to get himself together, it will most likely not be a terrible loss for the Clippers or even for whoever decides to sign him, because coming off of two disappointing seasons, he will ultimately not command a large contract. If Lamar Odom signs soon, he can take his time throughout the season to find his role, and once the season begins to wind down, hopefully his playoff experience will come into play. After that, he will be able to help the Clippers reach the goal of a franchise first NBA Championship.
November 21, 2013
Key aspects of basketball dynamic often underappreciated Luka Ladan
Assitant Sports Editor
urs is an individualistic society, and thus the American is obsessed with the extraordinary potential of individual initiative. We are drawn to the individual’s rise to the top—from rags to riches, from defeat to victory, from the shade of shadow to the shine of spotlight. The ability of one man to rise above the pack and distinguish himself is inspiring, inspirational, memorable. The story of the proactive woman, sparked by her work ethic and resourcefulness, is a courageous one. More importantly, it is one that deserves telling. Those instances of individual initiative resonate with us, and that social phenomenon is certainly not lost in the world of sports. We cling to the successful athlete, the successful coach, the successful general manager. Even more so than team accomplishment, the ability of the individual to rise up from the ranks of the ordinary and experience something truly extraordinary sticks in our minds. We’ll remember LeBron James down the road, not Mario Chalmers’ stingy defense and streaky shooting. We’ll remember Tom Brady down the road, not that average running back or subpar tight end lining up next to him. We’ll remember Bill Belichick down the road, not the entirety of his coaching staff on the sidelines.
“We cling to the successful athlete, the successful coach, the successful general manager.” That’s the nature of the game, and it can be a sad sight to behold. Lost in the glorification of individual initiative is the potential of the
greater unit — not as a collection of individuals, but as a whole. That larger unit, an assembly of synced individuals coming together as one, gets lost in the shuffle when the onus is on the one and not the rest. Thus the team should take home the spoils, not any one player. I bemoan the fact that professional basketball is simplified to its most rudimentary form, or when professional football becomes an individual’s sport instead of a team one. LeBron James didn’t win a championship — the Miami Heat did that as a well-oiled machine, sporting an explosive offense and stifling defense all at once during the on-season. It wasn’t any one individual’s victory, as the sports punditry regrettably points out on daily talk shows and post-game recaps. Desperate for clicks and views, the pundit provides us with strikingly elementary “insight” and thoroughly superficial “analysis.” LeBron won his title, they say. Brady put the team on his back, they say. Bill Belichick willed his team to victory, they say. They spew a whole lot of jargon and resort to nonsensical talk, with no breadth of thought. In sports, the little things matter. The unnoticed details are not irrelevant — they may change the course of a game, a season even. As a society, we demand success and expect victory, but team accomplishment only occurs when all of those little things — those tiny little details — come together at just the right time and become something more. For that reason, “the little things” are actually really significant. Rewind to 2008, when the Boston Celtics raised yet another championship banner to the rafters of TD Garden. Sure, the intensity of Kevin Garnett made that success possible, the versatility of Paul Pierce and the savvy of Ray Allen — the big guns all figured large in the equation. But, what about P.J. Brown, who anchored the team’s defense for key stretches in the second quarters of close games? What about James Posey, who helped the
team’s primary scorers operate more efficiently by providing floor spacing in the fourth quarter of an important match? What about Kendrick Perkins, who set the bruising screens that freed up Ray Allen in the corners during those crucial games? Those supposedly peripheral contributions weren’t flashy. Most of the time, they weren’t even pretty to look at. But they were vital. During that second quarter, P.J. Brown was absolutely indispensable. Just as he was essential to his team’s extraordinary accomplishment that season. So too was James Posey on the wing, and Kendrick Perkins in the paint.
“They spew a whole lot of jargon and resort to nonsensical talk, with no breadth of thought. ” Yet history won’t remember their names. We’ll remember Kevin Garnett, his turnaround jumpers and ferocious slams. We’ll remember Paul Pierce, his ability to get to the line and finish through contact. We’ll remember Ray Allen, his shooting stroke and crafty finishes around the hoop. The initiative of the individual — in this case, the superstar athlete — will resonate when all else fades away. We’ll remember Rob Gronkowski’s towering touchdown catches in the end zone, not the fact that his elite blocking ability sets up running backs for big gains and prevents Tom Brady from getting sacked. Those little things — the key block at the right time — are lost in the shuffle, when the touchdowns and celebrations aren’t. We’ll remember the evolution of Paul George from solid to superstar, not the fact
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that David West’s screens continually free him up in key situations. We won’t remember that clever Roy Hibbert screen which led to a thunderous dunk. Should the Indiana Pacers reach the promised land this year, we’ll remember the smile on the superstar’s face—the coronation of Paul George, from a nobody to the real deal, will stick with us years down the line. But that culture of grit and sturdy cohesiveness on the defensive end will play second fiddle to the spectacular play by this guy or that guy. The chemistry of the greater unit, from George Hill to Ian Mahinmi, unfortunately won’t stand the test of time. And yet, that is exactly what matters most. The tiny little detail—that solid screen at the elbow, the backup center’s energy on the bench, an all-nighter pulled by the coaching staff—makes all of the difference in the end because tiny little details add up to something larger in the grand scheme of things. The little things are big things, even though the potential of the individual seems to trump all nowadays. We’ll talk about this guy or that guy, and not the accomplishment of the team. The conversation will be one of praise and adoration, but not of the greater whole that brought it all together. It will be Paul George’s first title, even though he would be nowhere without the rest of the roster fighting in the trenches with him. Ultimately, the individual is nothing without the team structure as the foundation, without those little things as the foundation at the heart of a functioning and winning team. Too often, we lost sight of that. Too often, we are blinded by the individualism that has deeply ingrained in the fabric of our society for years. Too often, we lose sight of the little things that culminated into that beautiful bigger picture, and that is a shame. People can tend to be shortsighted, and when we are shortsighted, it is a shame through and through.
November 21, 2013
New head coach reflects on team’s improved prospects Chris Brown sports editor
courtesy of Vassar College Athletics
s the men’s basketball season has only just begun with the Robert Williams Tipoff Tournament on November 15 and 16, the team has started off solidly, winning one game while dropping another during their opening matches of the season. In its match vs. Clark University, the Brewers lost 62-65. The next day versus Roger Williams University, the team pulled off a win 81-71. Looking to improve on last year’s record of seven wins to 18 losses, the men’s team has very specific goals for this season, with the ultimate being a Liberty League championship. Although the team has just started playing matches, their off-season practice time has been just as rigorous as on-season play, according to teammates. Senior co-captain Evan Carberry explained the off season regimen that all players have to complete for their preseason. “While at school we lift with the strength coach, Cam Williams, three or four times a week,” explained Carberry. “We also attend an early morning conditioning class and play pickup as a group about four times a week. Outside of that, we each work on our skills in small groups.” The off-season practice has paid off in dividends, as head coach Brian Dunne described. “There is more energy and enthusiasm surrounding our team,” Dunne wrote in an emailed statement. “Our guys are playing with confidence and believing that every time we put on a uniform we will be in a situation to win. We are playing faster and doing a great job of dictating the tempo and pace of the game.” He continued, “Our team physicality is greater and we have established a smash mouth man-to-man defensive system that has made it difficult for our opponents to get high percentage shots off. I am incredibly proud of the work and effort of our men this past month and excited for the direction of our program. We are optimistic about what we can accomplish in League Play.” Coach Dunne is joined on the coaching staff
Junior Curtis Smith is a guard on the men’s basketball team. The team has won one game and lost one so far this season, and Head Coach Brian Dunne looked forward to this year’s improvements. by newly appointed Assistant Coach Seth Eisner. Dunne is the new Head Coach for the men’s team, as spending the 2012-13 season as the top Assistant Coach at Vassar College. Before his time at Vassar, Dunne spent a year as the men’s basketball top Assistant Coach at Emerson College in Boston, MA under Jim O’Brien, the former Head Coach at Ohio State University and the National Co-Coach of the Year in 1999. During the 2011-12 season, Dunne was responsible for on-court coaching, recruiting, scouting, film exchange and game management. He helped Emerson qualify for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament. This is Eisner’s first season as a Assistant Coach for Vassar College. Eisner comes to Vassar College after a successful stop as an assistant at State University of New York Oswego. At SUNY Oswego, Eisner served as the program’s recruiting and academic coordinator, while also handling
administrative duties, scouting, game preparation, video exchange and on-court instruction. The team this year also has an influx of new freshman. Junior co-captain Alex Snyder expressed his happiness with his new teammates. “I feel the freshman this year have a chance to come in and help us out during the season,” Snyder expressed in an emailed statement. “They are a group of hardworking guys, and they get along extremely well with all of the guys on the team.” Carberry echoed his teammate’s sentiment. “We have three new freshman this year and they are a great group of guys,” Carberry expressed. “They really fit in well with the rest of us and it seems like they have been a part of the team forever.” This enthusiasm and increase in play has been proven by a win this past weekend against Roger Williams University 81-71. Although the team was down 34-45 at halftime, junior for-
ward Alex Snyder began a 15 point run for the Brewers with a layup at 18:54. This brought the Brewers to a one point deficit. Eight of the 15 points came from sophomore Johnny Mrlik, who was recently named to the Rookie of the Week Honor Roll. This streak helped contribute to Mrlik’s 28 point total for the game, along with 10 rebounds. On the match against Roger Williams, Dunne stated, “we were down 15 points with 18 minutes to go and we dug in and only allowed 23 points the rest of the game and went on to win by 10 points. Our guys showed some heart and played with a passion that I have not seen from them. It was great for our confidence and to continue to believe that we are a very good team.” Dunne has also noticed Mrlik’s strong performance. “Johnny Mrlik has been terrific, he is averaging 21 points through two games and was named to the Liberty League Honor Roll. He is an offensive threat every time he touches the ball,” Dunne elaborated. He also talked about other key players, including co-captain Snyder. “Alex Snyder has been tough on the low block and is difficult to guard when he has the ball. He also dominated the glass this past weekend. [Sophomore] Erikson Wasyl did a great job of running the point for us and keeping our team composed throughout both games. He is a knock down three point shooter and has developed moves to go by with the bounce. [Junior] Luka Ladan and [Senior] John Donnelly provided us great energy off the bench and both have been super efficient in the early going.” The team has already made concrete goals for the season. Coach Dunne himself expects a lot from this new team of talented athletes. “I expect us to continue to get better and surprise a lot of people along the way,” Dunne stated in an emailed statement. “We are going to continue to embrace the journey and play and win together. We have set high expectations for ourselves because we trust and believe in our system and the culture we are building. We are confident we will be around when it matters most and that is in February.”
Sole senior Sawyer brings experience, positivity to fencing Tina Caso
the quarterfinals, Lewis and sophomore Rachel Messbauer made it to the top 16. Both Sawyer and sophomore Margaret Shepherd made the top 32 in their division. Sawyer described what a typical match is like for the fencing team, citing the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference. “There are 500 fencers in a room and everyone is competing for a top eight spot in their weapon. It’s scary. There are a lot of sounds, there’s no one telling you where you have to go,” she explained. “You have to sometimes listen for your name to know when you’re supposed to start fencing.” She continued, “I like to say that, if walk-ons stay after that tournament, they stay for life.” As for team dynamic, both the men and women’s fencing teams are incredibly close, especially because both teams practice togeth-
er during the week. “Fencing is both a team and an individual sport,” Sawyer explained. “Men’s and women’s teams both practice together. When we go to tournaments we get confused about that.” Sawyer continued, “Everyone is willing to participate. We don’t have anyone who is off in the corner doing their own thing when we’re all supposed to be together.” She also noted that Head Coach Gillman often let the captains take charge at practices, which allows the team’s bond to grow even further. Reflecting on the coming months, Sawyer will miss the fencing team once she graduates. “It’s kind of sad knowing I’m the only one to leave,” she explained. “I know that it’s selfish but when I leave, I leave a much smaller hole. I want everyone to miss me a ton when I’m gone.”
Sam Pianello/The Miscellany News
enior and epee Noelle Sawyer of women’s fencing had never fenced at all before coming to Vassar College. Hailing from the Bahamas, she took up an In the Pink Life Fitness class three years ago, with instruction from fencing Assistant Coach Eric Soyka, and now stands as a co-captain and the lone senior for the women’s team. “I’m from the Bahamas—they don’t have fencing there. They think it’s weird. I didn’t actually know how to fence when I came here,” she explained. “I took a Life Fitness class my freshman year with my roommate and our idea was, if we went to the gym and stabbed each other once a week, we wouldn’t have any real roommate fights.” Sawyer was then asked to join the team by Soyka after he noticed her talent in the sport. “My first year was basically me being confused about fencing life because, although we do have a lot of walks-ons, there are the people who have been fencing for ten years,” she said. “I was just clumsy, all over the place, but I learned to fence better with the assistant coaches and I stayed on the team.” Sawyer spent her next few years on the fencing team improving over time, and learning the in’s and out’s of the unfamiliar sport. “I had this horrible fear of lefty fencers my first year on the team,” she explained. This coincided with the influx of lefty fencers in her sophomore year. “We had some new and better people come in, and we got some lefties. Then my undying fear of lefty fencers went away — I would say that was an improvement.” In her time outside of fencing, Sawyer is a math and history double major. She also teaches supplemental instruction (S.I.) for the Math Department, holding one hour review sessions twice a week, as well as having her own office hours. She also makes worksheets and practice exams for students. Even though she has a demanding schedule, Sawyer has taken a leadership role on the team
as senior and, as co-captain, her teammates look up to her. “[Sawyer] is a wonderful person and teammate,” wrote freshman foil Elsa Stoff in an emailed statement. “She is hilarious and, as a captain, she always makes me feel motivated to fence.” Co-captain junior and epee Megan Lewis also agreed. She wrote in an emailed statement, “I could go on about [Sawyer] all day. She is absolutely the best teammate anyone could hope for. We joined the team the same year and she has been my support system from week one. She is tremendously fun to fence and is always helpful during bouts and drills.” According to Head Coach Bruce Gillman, “[Sawyer] has a tough academic schedule, but she is never too busy to help her teammates or any of the coaches when they are in need. She is a good, positive leader for us in what looks to be a challenging season ahead.” Lewis also noted the positive effect that Sawyer has had for walk-ons. Lewis explained, “[Sawyer] is extremely dedicated to the team despite having a busy schedule,” she wrote in an emailed statement. She continued, “She serves as a source of energy for a lot of the team and I think it’s especially nice for walkons to see how successful Noelle has been despite having no fencing experience before she came to Vassar.” These varying degrees of experience are integral to the Vassar College Fencing team, which does not recruit fencers. According to Sawyer, “We take what we can get, and we make them better.” Still, the team competes against league forces such as Yale University, Columbia University and New York University. “We don’t have divisions in fencing,” Sawyer explained. “Considering the caliber of people we are fencing this year, I would say we are doing pretty well.” In its most recent match, the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC), more commonly known as “The Big One,” members of the epee squad did well. Freshman Olivia Weiss went undefeated until falling in
Senior co-captain and epee fencer Noelle Sawyer is the only senior on women’s fencing. Sawyer had never fenced before participating in Life Fitness classes. She walked onto the team as a sophomore.
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