The Miscellany News
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.org
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CLII | Issue 12
December 5, 2019
Invisible labor takes China’s censorship targets feminists toll on faculty of color XinRui Ong, Hindley Wang Columnist, Guest Reporter
his past March, 13 senior faculty members at Yale withdrew from the University’s Ethnicity, Race and Migration (ER&M) program. The faculty cited a lack of university support for the program as the impetus for their withdrawal and expressed concerns that they were expected to “volunteer their labor” to continue the program. As a result of their departure, the program lacked tenured faculty and was forced to limit faculty support to current third- and fourthyear students (Yale Daily News, “Movement for ER&M support goes national,” 04.09.2019). The phenomenon described by Yale’s ER&M faculty might be referred to as “invisible labor,” a term originally employed in gender studies to describe the domestic labor of women. Because the labor performed is attributed to the inherent qualities of the laborer, it is undervalued and overlooked. For example, a woman’s role as child-rearer might be framed as the performance of a
quick search of “feminism in China” into Baidu, a Chinese search engine, reveals personal blog posts and half-hearted jokes. These include forum threads on “acts of fake feminisms” and complaints about “princesses in the workplace.” The difficulty to access reportings on feminist activism reflects China’s prevailing internet censorship. This reality obstructs Lü Pin, a founding editor of Feminist Voices, China’s most influential feminist social media account with over 180,000 followers, which was unfortunately banned on International Women’s Day in 2018. Feminist See FEMINISM on page 3
Yvette Hu/ The Miscellany News
biological predisposition, rather than actual labor. Yale is not the only institution where faculty of color point out an underappreciation of their work. On Dec. 2, Harvard students protested the tenure denial of Associate Professor Lorgia García Peña, who they claimed was the victim of “procedural errors, prejudice and discrimination.” A petition demanding greater administrative transparency at the institution has, as of Dec. 5, received more than 2,700 signatures (The Harvard Crimson, “Students Protest, Pen Open Letter In Response to Professor’s Tenure Denial,” 12.03.2019). Professor McGlennen serves as the Director of American Studies. She spoke at length about the ways in which she, as a Native American woman who teaches Native American Studies and created the discipline’s correlate, feels that she is held responsible for representing Indigenous people on campus: “It has been taxing being the only one, a lot of times, to be able to specifically address See LABOR on page 4
Lü Pin, a founding editor of Feminist Voices, came to Vassar to discuss the trajectory of feminist activism in China over the past few decades.
Band ‘panders’ to TH party-goers Dean Kopitsky Sports Editor
he regular crowd does not shuffle into TH 148. They bulge and sway, jump and dance, making this crowd a little different than the usual TH sports party. The student band for this evening, Pander, warms up above
the buzzing mass, like vultures in reverse about to pump the crowd full of energy and life. Lead drummer Alex Koester ’23 hammers his drumsticks away at his Converse sneakers in bullet pace rhythm. He wears bleached-white overalls. They will eventually come off. Emmett Cashman ’23 is on bass.
He sways calmly with his Fender P, the hockey stick-shaped headstock inching dangerously close to my camera. Sawyer Bush ’22, mellow in contrast to the scene below, shows me his 2013 Gibson ES-335 reissue guitar. “It’s worth half my net worth,” See PANDER on page 8
Pleasant pups enrich campus life Opportunity knocks for new WBB coach Janet Song
Inside this issue
‘JoJo Rabbit’ made columnist laugh—and also cry
Jonah Frere-Holmes Sports Editor
N Courtesy of Janet Song
uring my commutes around campus, I am always cheered up by the presence of dogs. You can see them being walked by their owners around the quad. And if you live in Joss, you always see Professor of German Studies and House Fellow Elliott Schreiber struggling to bring his mixed lab—Pepper—into the house. “Come on Pepper,” Elliott might say, while Pepper stares contemplatively at a tree. “Come on!” Despite his occasional aloofness, Pepper loves people. He’s quick to express it by jumping onto passersby when meeting them for the first time. When I visited the family for this article, Pepper pounced on me to the amusement of the professor and his wife, Julie O’Sullivan. They pulled Pepper back, apologizing as I entered the warmth of their home, ornately decorated with lamps and shelves of board games. “What happens is that he goes a bit bonkers when he first sees people,” said Julie. “But then, once he meets them, he can calm down.” Pepper came from some-
Above are the Schreiber-O’Sullivans, including Jonathan, Julie, Elliott and Pepper—who gets a tad rambunctious when meeting new friends. where in the South, but the Schreiber-O’Sullivan family found him at a shelter in the Hudson Valley. “He was in the shelter up here for three weeks,” said Julie, “and then we adopted him. We don’t really know what he’s had before, so we’re trying to help him with behaviors, because he might be reacting to things that we don’t know about.” Pepper’s backstory resembles those of other faculty dogs like big husky mix Alberta. “She was found in a shelter in Georgia
state, and a group in Connecticut had an adoption fair at a local pet store and she didn’t get adopted,” Research Librarian and owner Gretchen Lieb recounted. “Someone local offered to take care of her so she wouldn’t have to ride back and forth in the van. So, [Adjunct Assistant Professor of Drama] Darrell James saw her being wheeled around in a grocery cart later that week in the Petco by the same person, with a sign that said ‘I’m available for adoption’ and he See DOGS on page 9
Elderly editors’ marriage advice devolves HUMOR into binary bickering
o one can figure out who said “When opportunity knocks, you’d better answer the door.” It’s unclear if anybody notable actually said those exact words, but most everyone gets the gist. For first-year Vassar women’s basketball head coach Lucia Robinson-Griggs, the knock was more of a clap of thunder, or an airplane taking off. Basically a really loud sound. When longtime Brewers’ head women’s basketball coach Candice Signor-Brown announced her sudden departure for Swarthmore College, she left behind a team that went 21-7, made the NCAA Tournament and returned its top seven scorers for this season. The knocking was deafening, and someone was going to open the door and welcome the chance to achieve immediate success. To find out more about that someone, I sat down with Coach Robinson-Griggs and talked about her career, her team and algebra. Robinson-Griggs knows what she’s working with. She put it as
simply as possible, saying, “I’m not in a rebuilding situation.” Robinson-Griggs hails from Chelsea, MA, a town with an area of, depending on which map you use, 1.8 or 2.2 square miles. After a brief stint at Quinnipiac University, she played two years at Division II Bentley University, reaching the Sweet 16 in her senior year. Her first head coaching job was at Lesley University, where she spent two years in charge after a year as an assistant. She then coached at MIT for eight years, wearing a panoply of hats under the title of assistant coach. While coaching at MIT, Robinson-Griggs taught ninth grade algebra at Revere High School. After a full day of classes, she would hustle over to practices and games, often staying late with her players to work out and watch film. She also ran the MIT team’s social media page, and helped supercharge the program’s recruiting network. Though she stopped teaching, she hasn’t left math behind. Robinson-Griggs said that some of her players are math maSee COACH on page 15
Your Deece cocoa supports child slavery. OPINIONS Not so cozy anymore!
The Miscellany News
December 5, 2019
Editor-in-Chief Jessica Moss
Managing Editor Frankie Knuckles
Duncan Aronson Lucy Leonard
Contributing Editors Isabel Braham Leah Cates Sasha Gopalakrishnan Mack Liederman
“Since arriving here a couple of months ago, I’ve fallen into a bit of a routine and find myself visiting a handful of places regularly,” writes Rose Parker ’21, who’s currently studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary. “However, just because I’ve stopped feeling like quite so much of a tourist doesn’t mean I’ve stopped doing touristy things altogether. Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten the chance to go on a number of trips and excursions in and around Budapest.” One of those trips was to the Szentendre Skanzen Village Museum, where these sheep can be found!
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MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
December 5, 2019
Annual ‘coffeehouse’ showcases POC artists and writers T
became, in the apt words of MBSA Secretary Adesina Brown ’22, “vibey.” “Giving people the option to just come and go, take some snacks, leave if they want and have a sort of informal space is important,” Brown said. “[We are] undoing ideas that things have to be structured in order to be valid. This is just a space where you can free flow, come and see things and not worry about judgement.” MBSA President Elliot Porcher ’22 said that the event was structured like a traditional art gallery, but with the goal of reclaiming those spaces for people of color. He elaborated, “Artists of color aren’t usually given
Courtesy of Sophia Blush
a platform to have their voices heard in the same way that white voices are, and so this is he third annual Multiracial Biracial Stua way to showcase a lot of visual art.” dent Association (MBSA) Coffeehouse MBSA Vice President Nika McKechnie ’21 was held in the Villard Room on Tuesday, Nov. displayed her artwork at the event, including 19, showcasing creations from PoC artists. a pair of jeans she had painted. She expressed MBSA, an offshoot of the Black Student Union that MBSA is unique in its ability to be a (BSU), was created to serve the community of place for all people of color. “A lot of fields multiracial students at Vassar. are dominated by white people, including the Art posted on walls and large tables in the arts,” she said. “To make spaces for people of center of the room facilitated relaxed concolor, however they define themselves, is reversations and an overall fluid atmosphere. ally important. And to give them a platform Snacks, coffee and tea were of course availthat they don’t traditionally or predominantable, true to the event’s name. As MBSA ly have.” prepared to host the show, the Villard Room The event is another act by students to reclaim community spaces around campus and to make sure that platforms for art are accessible, even if Studio Art classes aren’t. More importantly, MBSA is carving out these spaces for people of color. Alexander Garza ’23, who had photography displayed at the event, said the space provided a new way for him to engage with the arts at Vassar outside Studio classes, specifically alongside other people of color. “I think it’s important to see what underrepresented people can do, especially with different mediums of art,” Garza shared. “All the work I displayed are portraits, and in this chill atmosphere we can kind of contemplate each photo and analyze it. Just look at it. They’re very peaceful looking, not attacking.” McKechnie said that MBSA sought to broaden the definition of art so that more students would have a platform to display their creativity. “A lot of what we try to do is encourage people to do art and define art in Coffeehouse attendees gather around the hot beverage station for coffee, tea and a a broader way, so that we are talking about lively discussion. In this way, the gallery served as a locus of both art and community. creative outlets that are not necessarily tradiMeghan Hayfield
Above is one example of artwork showcased during the MBSA Coffeehouse. Students were able to have their art exhibited regardless of formal training.
Courtesy of Sophia Blush
tionally considered fine art,” she reflected. “I don’t consider myself a true artist in any way, but I do like creative outlets. Brown said that this broadened definition held particular importance for marginalized people, as it encourages them to see their art as worthy of display, regardless of whether they’ve had formal training. “To give people the space to just showcase their art even if it’s not in those exact same terms, you’re giving people the option to break out of those molds and not have the same layers of routine capitalism just piling onto you, saying you have to know these things and have to do certain things in order to be valid.”
State censorship obstructs feminist activism in China FEMINISM continued from page 1 Voices confronted issues that reflected the experiences of many urban women, such as sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and gender discrimination in university admissions. Now pursuing a graduate degree in gender studies at SUNY Albany, Lü was invited to campus on Nov. 21 by Vassar’s Forum of Political Thought and the Political Science Department to discuss her journey on feminist activism in China over the past few decades.
“Many view ‘feminism’ as a taboo term, as an influx of Western ideas threatening the harmonious East Asian culture rooted in family as the most important collective unit.” Lü was disappointed but not surprised that the account had been banned. She cited the case of XueQin Huang, a pioneering figure of the #MeToo movement in China, who was arrested after she exposed her experience of workplace harassment when working as a journalist in the state media. Lü understands that the government is trying to restrict activist protests, but she thinks that articles on Feminist Voices are “not propaganda…instead [they] provide alternative routes of obtaining information” that raises awareness on gender inequality affecting all of us. By sharing anecdotes during her lecture, Lü raised multiple challenging questions: How does one commit to activism in environments with high censorship? What
is the relationship between the individual and the state? What concrete goals do we, as feminists, wish to see accomplished? The lecture began with a video taken on a subway train in China, in which women holding signs with anti-sexual assault messages, chant a melody with feminist sentiments: “你是否与我一样，坚信这世界应平 等 [Do you believe as I believe, in that this world should be equal]/这是首传唱自由和 尊严的女人之歌 [this is woman’s song singing of freedom and dignity]/我爱我独特的 模样，不论它是美丑胖瘦[I love my unique self, whether it is fat or thin, ugly or pretty]/ 我又闪光的梦想，我也有丰富的欲望 [I have my glinting dreams, I also have fullness of desires].” Lü explained that the majority of information on feminism is distributed, often with a short life span, through the internet. She also stated, “Feminism is a highly controversial topic in China.” Many view “feminism” as a taboo term, as an influx of Western ideas threatening the harmonious East Asian culture rooted in family as the most important collective unit. Most misinterpret the aim of feminists due to the inaccurate information circulated online, and Lü mentioned one of the consequences being an illusion of achieving gender equality when females are actually just cherry-picking male privileges. When asked where her sense of urgency for the cause of feminism comes from, she recounted an experience in a journalism workshop when she was still writing for state-owned media. The workshop instructor asked everyone in the room to write down their own answer to the question: “Who are you?” Lü wrote, “I am a journalist.” When the question turned back to the instructor at the end, the instructor re-
vealed her own answer: that she is a female journalist. At that moment, it struck Lü utterly how much of her experience had been shaped by her female identity, and how much it would continue to do so. Before this realization, the most she claimed to have accomplished (aside from thousands of journalistic works on feminism that are now mostly wiped out by state censorship), was the reversal of a juridical decision on a murder case committed by a desperate wife against her abusive husband. But this wasn’t enough, she thought. She wanted to affect real change in the lives of women, not just write for their cause. From her experience as an activist and a journalist, she shared various facets of the systemic oppression of women in China, despite the nation’s socialist reformative past. This oppression continues to silence already unheard female voices today. For fears of potential destabilization of the Chinese development model that a feminist revolution would bring, the state decides to implicate total control over free expression, which mutes discourse on feminism.
a distinct line between male and female roles in society, causing gender inequality to bounce back into contemporary issues. Those around the table laughed uncomfortably as attendees discussed the reality where women are inevitably disadvantaged when they are expected to provide unpaid emotional and physical labor through childrearing and domestic work. The fact that one matriarchal ethnic group in China, the Mosuo, still functions within a patriarchal system where household decisions are made by the uncles shocked some at the dinner.
“She wanted to affect real change in the lives of women, not just write for their cause.”
Lü acknowledged that the feminist movement in China is an ongoing battle. But she is moved by passionate youth activists, consisting mostly of university students and recent graduates. After Lü’s talk, a female student in WuHan University openly destroyed a large vase in a public space on campus to criticize the gendered standards of the school’s beauty pageant (Instagram, @Feministchina, 11.25.2019). Like this student, Lü’s views on feminism does not merely rely on ideals or theory. Rather, it exists through strong statements like these, as a continued struggle for concrete changes to address inequality women face daily.
Following the lecture, a few Vassar students and professors engaged in a fruitful discussion with Lü over dinner. We delved into the historical trajectory of women’s rights in China—from the Communist Party equality that ignored nuances between men and women during the Mao Era, to the market reforms in the 1980s that drew
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“Women are inevitably disadvantaged when they are expected to provide unpaid emotional and physical labor through childrearing and domestic work.”
December 5, 2019
Faculty of color require recognition, support for extra labor
al Roun c i t d li
LABOR continued from page 1 or to do that work. So, beyond teaching the courses that I teach, I’m also this point person on so many other things, anything regarding Native people.” Yet her sense of responsibility also stems from her [pedagogical] commitments, which include her invisible labor in her students’ interests. McGlennen went on to say that she has been embraced by a community of professors of color on campus, which she described as her saving grace. Syedullah, creator of the Prison Studies correlate, commented on her own visibility on campus: “More often than not, the ways that I, and not just here, but in my life, represent what’s not being included has to do with representing either the students...or representing a perspective.” She elaborated, “I just feel it in my body; there’s something here that is not being represented and I have a choice to represent it and how to represent it, to teach people how to see the thing that they’re not seeing.” Sometimes, this might mean helping students see themselves. Reflecting on when Syedullah approached them and offered them mentorship, Shalissa Otero ’20 said, “She personally told me that she saw something in the ways that I move inside and outside of the classroom, the life experiences that I bring into the classroom, and she saw worth in it.” Mentoring is just one manifestation of invisible labor—an important one at that. This is especially so for students of color who might look to faculty of color for both academic and social support. Eugene Lopez-Huerta ’20, who works with McGlennen, also remarked on the importance of
Sara Lawler In Our Headlines… As the impeachment inquiries continue, Democrats prepare to shift from fact-finding to considering pressing charges against the president. The House Judiciary Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, gave the White House until 6 p.m. on Dec. 1 to determine if the president’s legal counsel will participate in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. This hearing included testimony from a panel of legal experts on the impeachment process as established by the Constitution. The White House has an additional deadline, 5 p.m. on Dec. 5, to determine if the president will launch a defense at subsequent impeachment proceedings that will continue next week. The Trump administration may refuse legal counsel for either of these sets of proceedings to prevent legitimizing the impeachment inquiries, which Trump has called a “Witch Hunt.” This week, the House Intelligence Committee plans to release a report outlining findings from the hearings. The House Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment within the next two weeks, before the holiday recess (Reuters, “Trump faces two impeachment deadlines as inquiry shifts focus,” 12.01.2019). [CW: The following paragraph contains
her mentorship to him as a first-generation student of color. He said, “The way that she’s framed her personal investment in the program here at Vassar, it made me kind of inspired, in a way, to feel more invested in anything that I’m studying here… it makes me feel that I can make demands to the institution in the way that she holds intellectual space.” Lopez-Huerta said that other students of color helped him find faculty “who know a little more about where I’m going with my truth.” Otero said that they seek out faculty of color while selecting classes. They described their desire to work with professors who had intimate and genuine connections to their work because of their identities. “I guess what I’m looking for is
“I just feel it in my body; there’s something here that is not being represented and I have a choice to represent it and how to represent it, to teach people how to see the thing that they’re not seeing.” authenticity,” they continued. “I’m aware of the ways that the institution will theorize about certain types of experiences while making that information inaccessible to those same people. So if anyone’s going to teach me something, it’s going to be the people that are theorized about.”
mention of violence and a possible terrorist act.] Ten people were injured in a shooting in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Dec. 2; officers responded to gunshots at about 3:20 a.m. Police initially reported that a man was detained on the scene. However, as the incident occurred near the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel while visitors attended the annual football game between Grambling State and Southern University, police have since issued a statement saying that the chaos made it too difficult to determine who fired the shots and what incited the shooting. Five of the victims were transported to University Medical Center New Orleans, while two were transported to Tulane Medical Center. Two of the victims are currently in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and torso, respectively. New Orleans police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest (The Washington Post, “At least 10 injured in shooting near French, Quarter, New Orleans, police say,” 12.01.2019). The Supreme Court is set to hear its first major gun rights case in nearly 10 years on Dec. 2. The case concerns a New York City handgun regulation opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which originally prevented gun owners from taking their handguns outside the City. The original lawsuit against the City included concerns from gun owners that they would not be able to transport their guns to gun ranges or other residences located outside the City. The law has since been amended to allow for this movement. However, the Supreme Court denied New York City’s request for the case to be dropped in the wake of this amendment. The case has the potential to change gun
Gender, in combination with race, might also render the faculty members’ labor invisible. Otero mentioned that they are cognizant of higher expectations of availability and access that might be projected onto Black women in their interactions with Syedullah, saying, “It’s not always her job to do the heavy lifting.” McGlennen concurred, saying that there might be a gendered aspect to the invisible labor she takes on. She said, “The behind the scenes work that needs to be done, we’ll do it. But it’s not always glamorous or gets the attention.” Syedullah and McGlennen suggested that administrative changes could potentially better support faculty of color. McGlennen mentioned that greater peer mentorship among faculty members would help ease the burden on professors of color to navigate challenges unique to this group. Syedullah stressed the importance of hiring administrative staff to lead the programs to which faculty members of color currently donate their labor. Both said that the expansion of mental health services available to students would help to mitigate the excess labor of faculty members of color who often take on the role of counselor when working with students. Response to the incident at Yale was swift and urgent, as professors and multidisciplinary students from around the country voiced their support for the ER&M faculty members. A petition to reinstate the program at Yale drew 1,500 signatures. The petition specifically requested that the faculty’s demands for greater administrative support be met; one of
these demands was to recognize excess labor taken on by professors of color. Days later, the 13 professors who left ER&M returned after negotiating with the administration, which granted the department five additional hiring positions (Yale Daily News, “ER&M obtains five faculty positions, 13 professors return to program,” 05.02.2019).
rights across the country. If the court issues a broad ruling in favor of the NRA and gun owners, it may deem many other gun control laws enacted by states unconstitutional. This would jeopardize the 300 gun control laws adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia since 2013. The court will make a decision by June (Reuters, “U.S. Supreme Court weighs challenge to New York gun transport limits,” 12.01.2019).
of the march and insulted present officers. Protesters are fighting for universal suffrage and an investigation of the Hong Kong police, hoping that their efforts will lead to direct elections above the district level and end police brutality against citizens and protesters. Trump recently signed a bipartisan bill into law supporting the protesters (The Washington Post, “Tear gas returns to Hong Kong as police disperse authorized protest,” 12.01.2019). [CW: The following paragraph makes mention of violence.] With less than two weeks until the Dec. 12 election day, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to strengthen prison sentences in the wake of an attack in London by a man who had been convicted of terrorism and released early from prison. He walked onto the London Bridge wearing a fake suicide vest and carrying knives and killed two people before the police fatally shot him. The incident has caused law and order to increase in importance to voters right before the election. Johnson, the leader of the Conservative Party, is painting himself as tough on crime and promises to invest more money in the prison system. Johnson has also used the opportunity to paint his Labour Party opponent Jeremy Corbyn as weak on crime, citing a Labour Party law from over a decade ago that automatically released roughly 74 prisoners before the end of their sentences. Corbyn responded by stating that the Conservative Party’s cuts to community policing, the probation service, mental health services and youth and social services will inhibit the possibility of early intervention for youth at risk of eventually committing such crimes (Reuters, “British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack,” 12.01.2019).
Around the World… Afghan officials reported that an American drone strike left five Afghan civilians in Khost, Afghanistan dead. Among the victims were the mother of a newborn and three of her relatives. U.S. military command stationed in Afghanistan confirmed the strike in Khost, but claims that three Taliban fighters were killed, not the aforementioned civilians. Furthermore, U.S. officials dispute the timing of the strike and claim it occurred on Nov. 28, while Afghan officials claim it happened either late at night on Nov. 29 or early in the morning on Nov. 30. A U.S. military spokesperson stated that U.S. officials are working with local authorities in Khost to determine the accuracy of the report. Claims of civilian casualties because of U.S. strikes often come from parts of the country that are hard to gain access to, and are thus difficult to verify (The New York Times, “U.S. Drone Killed Afghan Civilians, Officials Say,” 12.01.2019). Hong Kong experienced a short period of peace following the election of pro-democracy candidates to 17 of Hong Kong’s 18 districts. However, this calm came to an end when police used tear gas to disperse an authorized rally on Dec. 1. The rally was officially approved by authorities, but police claim that some protesters did not follow the designated path
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“The behind the scenes work that needs to be done, we’ll do it. But it’s not always glamorous or gets the attention.” Administrative recognition of the unique ways in which students interact with faculty of color might enable faculty to better balance duties of teaching, mentorship and research, an endeavor which both Syedullah and McGlennen noted is near-impossible given the current demands of their work. Of the labor that she performs, Syedullah said, “I think it is seen and I think that it’s understood—I don’t think that it’s seen as a problem though.”
“I think [my work] is seen and I think that it’s understood—I don’t think that it’s seen as a problem.”
December 5, 2019
‘Jojo Rabbit’: Waititi navigates nuances of war, blame Massimo Tarridas Guest Columnist
ojo Rabbit” is a spectacular case of emotional whiplash. It can turn from ridiculously sad to sardonically funny in the span of a single cut. Making fun of Adolf Hitler has been a time-honored tradition since he rose to power, with satire ranging from Charlie Chaplin’s’ “The Great Dictator” (1940) to recent comic portrayals in movies like Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and David Wnent’s “Look Who’s Back” (2015).
Making a mockery of political figures in order to rob them of their coveted power is a classic tactic—even if it is used only momentarily, parody soothes the national consciousness with comedy while contemporary and future constituents seek (hopefully) better models of governance. The character of goofy Hitler serves this purpose, but he also somehow fits better within the narrative of “Jojo Rabbit” than any of the aforementioned films. The film’s version of Hitler acts like a child because he is the imaginary product of the titular
In Taika Waititi’s historical satire “Jojo Rabbit,” a lonely boy in the Hitler Youth finds an imaginary friend —a goofy caricature of the Fuhrer. As their unusual relationship unfolds, the audience explores blame, leadership and lies in war.
Jojo. This allows Taika Waititi to depict Hitler and the SS as inane, in the same way that pointless rules in a child’s game must be intensely adhered to under any circumstances. The regime had a certain image to uphold, requiring some ridiculous rules. Not to make light of a serious issue, but the infantile Fuhrer calls to mind stories of Nazi uniforms being notoriously uncomfortable, complicated to wear and difficult to manufacture, all because the regime had to maintain a decor of dignity. Another example would be the Nazis’ excessive etiquette, whereby all officers entering a room would have to greet all members of the party with an individual “Heil Hitler.” Thus, Waititi’s argument is an old one: War, with all its preoccupations with proper order and wasteful showmanship (not to mention the simultaneous obliviousness towards the people it affects), is ultimately pointless. There’s a nicely fleshed out theme of duplicitous appearances that plays out in unexpected ways. Besides the typical Jewish-passing-as-Nazi trope, this film focuses on the Hitler Youth. It is also about the work needed to keep up the façade of greatness in a disintegrating country…the lies we tell our children to shield them from the truth, even when it means they might become blind followers…JoJo’s mother’s juggling of both parental roles…German covers of Beatles and David Bowie playing in the background…and finally, Hitler being played by a Polynesian Jew, Waititi himself. While the likes of Churchill and Mussolini sit in rooms smoking fat cigars, drinking
whiskey and moving pieces around on their war board games, the likes of Jojo sit in Hitler Youth camps believing lies. Of course, Jojo is fascinated with the Nazis for reasons that are not genuinely ideological, despite his adorably horrific anti-Semitic rants. He simply loves the glamour of his little Boy Scout jacket, the pretense of responsibility, the charade of machismo—he’s into Nazism for the look. Can you blame him? He’s merely 10 years old. And therein lies the smarting quality of “Jojo Rabbit,” that pain comes about from having to draw a lineage of blame, a lineage that resists being marked with absolute certainty. After all, when we find ourselves sympathizing for ostensibly contemptible people, straightforward culpability is difficult to designate. Everyone from Jojo to high-ranking officials are vulnerable to the seduction of war. Maybe the film isn’t risky enough with concluding that “war is complicated,” but somehow, that’s okay. The worst part of the film may be an occasionally unfunny line delivered by Rebel Wilson’s character, or the too-slick production look (something that is likely due to Waititi’s origins as a commercial director). Yet, the rest of Waititi’s wacky direction is more than enough to make “Jojo Rabbit” stand out from the average movie theater lineup, and there’s a really fine needle being threaded here. By the end of the film, the audience can unironically sympathize with a Nazi captain, and as if that isn’t hard enough to pull off, it’s a 5050 shot whether you’ll be crying or laughing by that point. I did both.
Dodd examines light, flora after New York co-op takes root Taylor Stewart Arts Editor
merican artists loved abstraction until the Andy Warhols ambushed the Jackson Pollocks and started painting celebrities and Coca-Cola—or so it goes. But there is a group that, after the tumult of Abstract Expressionism, humbled observational painting more than Pop Art ever did. Lois Dodd, from Montclair, NJ, is a prominent member of the plein air painters of the 1950s and 1960s who worked outdoors. Born in 1927, she graduated from the Cooper Union and started a co-op gallery around New York’s 10th Street. Her works are grounded in reality and vision like an Impressionists’ fleeting and subjective depiction of light on matter, but with long looking. As a result, Dodd’s paintings are still, but they are not hyperrealistic, only chewing on the essential parts of a lake, window ledge or flower (her subjects of choice). On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Dodd discussed her static impressions in Taylor Hall. That day, she looked something like her paintings in the geometry of her clothes. She wore horizontal stripes on her shirt and vertical ones on her pants. Associate Professor of Art Laura Newman, who also studied at the Cooper Union, introduced Dodd as her painting hero and someone who exhibits “what it is to notice.” Newman commended Dodd’s insight into weather, temperature and light, and, more personally, her “unpretentious and gentle” demeanor. When Dodd mounted the podium, she paused and said, “So the moral of the story is to live a long time. If you get to be 92, you’ll finally get some credit.” The audience laughed—two sentences and everybody liked her.
First, Dodd gave us historical context. The 1950s saw an explosion of co-op galleries in the 10th Street area. Whatever was denied display space on Manhattan’s 57th Street (“Art Street,” home to “Billionaires’ Row”) sought refuge in a 10th Street co-op. Dodd co-founded the Tanager Gallery in 1952 and helped run it for 10 years. She looked back fondly on that busy decade in the Lower East Side. Back then, like today, young artists struggled, made their own stuff and evaluated the works of their contemporaries, asking themselves, “Whose work should we put on display?” Unlike the hubs of high (expensive) art on 57th Street, spaces like Dodd’s Tanager Gallery, with the unassuming avian name, housed fledgling mid-century artists—the heart of avant garde.
“[Dodd] has mastered the colors of the sun. When sunset-light hits snow, it creates this color; when a tree casts a shadow on a dirt road in midday, the shadow and the road produce this contrast.” Nowadays she is not as stuck to the city. In fact, most of the paintings she showed us were of plants and water, rural scenes. Over the years, she started focusing on nature painting. Traveling between her homes in New York, New Jersey and Maine, she also takes inspiration from architectural forms, windows
and light-soaked interiors. Eventually she incorporated the clean squarish effects of the hard-edge painting movement, which responded to disordered Pollockian compositions, with a flatter, more geometric approach to abstraction. Despite her attraction to perceptible environments, she called all drawing an “abstract exercise.” Before starting a piece, she begins by envisioning, How will this image fit onto the rectangle of the canvas? The edges of the painting must be determined first. For example, if she is making a still life interior, she rearranges furniture to suit her idea before laying down any paint. Even her nature paintings have abstract roots. For example, her studies of the Delaware Water Gap are reductive in the best way, emphasizing light, shade and form over microscopic details such that these pictures of nature are more like assemblages of shapes. At the same time, she is adept at showing how natural light interacts with surfaces. She has mastered the colors of the sun. When sunset-light hits snow, it creates this color; when a tree casts a shadow on a dirt road in midday, the shadow and the road produce this contrast. She explained that, on one sunny day in Maine, the shadows were so pronounced and sharp that she had to paint them. Her window paintings in particular speak to her love of light and shape. With her ledges, Dodd further flirts with abstraction by blurring the line between eye and imagination, or emphasizing the hallucinatory quality of a real view. When she was replacing the wallpaper in her home, she painted the woods on the plaster. Then she painted a picture of the painted wall, whose window revealed actual brush. The product was a little mind-boggling.
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“When you start looking at things that are wrecks, you begin finding a lot of them around,” she said, deadpan. Once, as an exercise, she captured a house burning down. Hot red, orange and purple issue from the black skeleton of the house. “Whatever’s out the window, it’s right there,” she reflected. “Dished up, offered to you.” Essentially, Dodd takes a tiny, transient or overlooked thing and crystallizes it on a Masonite panel with a thin coat of paint. A tulip “announced its presence” and impelled the artist to pay attention. She painted a scene of her barn in spring because the view is never quite the same, and she is different every year she returns to it. Coming home from an art show in Maine, she found someone’s door wide open, revealing a staircase, and she painted that. For another interior, she took advantage of the certain way light bounces off her loft wall “not more than once or twice in the spring.” Lately, Dodd has painted a lot of close-ups of flowers. Keming Yan ’22, who attended the talk for his drawing class, appreciated the painter’s frankness, both visual and verbal. “Every time she showed us a painting, she just explained what it was of and how she came to paint it. It was very simple and straightforward, and I liked that. She made the act of drawing and painting more approachable.” In the front row were artist Catherine Murphy and Professor of Art Harry Roseman, both of whom met Dodd in the co-op period. Murphy said avidly, “[Dodd’s work is] figuration that talked to what was. Formally, it’s in harmony. It’s so strong.” Her and Roseman reflected on the 1960s New York art scene lovingly. I imagine it was difficult then, but fun too—Why else would Dodd be painting so prolifically at 92?
December 5, 2019
Dance group ‘Let’s Nacho’ spreads South Asian culture Nina Ajemian
ers reflects the ethos of the group: It doesn’t matter if you have danced for most of your life or none of it; the sole requirement for joining Let’s Nacho is interest and a willingness to try something new. The org currently has around 12 dancers and welcomes new members. Swarup explained, “It will expand because it’s just started.” “Yeah, and a lot of people don’t even know we exist,” added Arya. “We now have $150 to fund good food for our meetings, so people should come.”
The trio’s genuine interest in getting their peers excited about South Asian culture was evident when I asked them about their most rewarding experience with the org. “After [Kaleidoscope] everyone was really happy, and people who were non-South Asian were telling their parents about it. Some of them even wanted to take Hindi as a class because of it,” Patel reflected. “So I feel like we did our job…making people passionate about Bollywood.”
Courtesy of Let’s Nacho
assar is known for its arts. As evident in the filled-to-the-brim Art 105 lecture hall, the nine different a cappella groups or just student fashion, aesthetics are important to students, who use various artistic media to express their creativity. However, up until this semester, there was no Bollywood dance organization on campus, a void that Saumya Arya ‘23, Dhriti Swarup ’23 and Yash Patel ’23 were excited to fill. The result of this collaboration was Let’s Nacho, Vassar’s new Bollywood dance org. I sat down with co-heads Arya, Swarup and Patel to talk more about Let’s Nacho and their experience with the org in their short time together so far. Sandwiched in-between Arya and Swarup on Arya’s bed, with Patel on the rug below, it instantly became clear to me that they are a closeknit, hardworking and passionate team. Like many groups of friends, they mocked and teased each other—all from a place of love, of course—and were clearly unified by their common passion. Much of our conversation was filled with laughter, but their answers were serious and heartfelt. When asked why they decided to start a Bollywood dance org at Vassar, Patel answered, “I feel like people have tried many times before, but it hasn’t been a pre-org ever … And South Asians now have a place on campus, if they’re interested in dance.” Swarup added, “And because we couldn’t live without Bollywood dance!” to which Arya replied, “I swear, it’s the best thing on earth.”
I approached our conversation eager to discover the significance of the name “Let’s Nacho.” Swarup explained, “‘Nacho’ basically means ‘dance’ in Hindi and we used ‘Let’s Nacho’ as a pun … English [speakers] don’t know the meaning of ‘nacho,’ but [they think of] food, [so] our poster has three nachos forming a dancing figure.” Swarup was right, as I had previously associated the group’s name with the food. Once explained, however, I realized the cleverness of its double meaning. The trio quickly discovered the difficulty of creating choreography. Swarup explained, “We have to first listen to the music and get used to the whole tune and the beats.” Arya interjected, “We’re already used to it—we choose songs we love.” In a later conversation, Arya explained that she and Swarup will often choreograph partner dances in two phases. First, they’ll choreograph the entire dance for the female dancer, using Patel to test out the steps. Then, they’ll go back and choreograph his half of the dance, to complement his partner’s moves. The end result is an original performance from start to finish, created by the co-heads and performed in beautiful kurtas to vibrant Bollywood music. The co-heads made it clear that no experience is necessary to join the org, and that they welcome anyone interested in learning Bollywood dance. Arya joked, “[Yash] is our co-president and he doesn’t know how to dance.” Both Arya and Swarup, on the other hand, have both danced for 14 years. This wide range of experience among the lead-
Saumya Arya ’23, Dhriti Swarup ’23 and Yash Patel ’23 sensed a lack of South Asian representation in Vassar’s arts scene. Overlooking any disparities in skill level, the three friends formed a dance group based on a mutual love of Bollywood.
Student harpists enchant with soothing, magical melodies Leila Raines
“Each distinct melody engulfed the room with peaceful notes and alluring harmonies. Listening to the harp in person made the instrument and the music powerful— much more powerful than listening to a recording.” Music filled the cozy Rose Parlor in Main Building on Thursday, Nov. 21. The warm lighting and the snug setting spotlighted the harp positioned in the center of the room. The magnificent instrument, with its
Courtesy of Jon Chenette
he most pivotal decision in any musician’s career is their choice of instrument. That initial feeling of attraction to the instrument sparks the desire to continue exploring the music it can make. The musician is instantly transported into the world of melody and rhythm the moment their fingers touch the keys or their bow caresses the strings. For Melanie Carolan ’23, her call to adventure was the harp. After watching videos of other musicians playing the harp, she fell in love with the beauty of the majestic instrument, with its gentle strings and the graceful chords. Four years later, Vassar community members could hear her continuing passion in an intimate harp concert that marked the end of the semester, with friends and family coming together to enjoy the serene sound of her beloved instrument.
powerful presence, seemed to take up most of the small space. The snug size of the crowd facilitated an atmosphere of comfort, carving a deeper connection between the audience and the musicians. She played alongside other student harpists at Vassar, with songs originating from Columbia, Paraguay, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. In her introduction to the event, Adjunct Artist Jeannie Kern Chenette discussed the style of music her students were performing that night; the pieces were initially inspired by numbers from South American dance repertoire. “I was delighted when all my students, ranging from first-semester to accomplished players, were willing to learn complex dance rhythms and present them for others,” Chenette later commented in an email correspondence. The students performing that night ranged in experience. Some had been playing since high school, while others had only just started to learn this year. Having this variety of players made the atmosphere more inviting, building a positive, supportive environment. Despite this wide array of experience with the harp, each of the musicians presented a short piece that instantly came to life as soon as their fingers touched the strings. Each song had an energy of its own; some were upbeat and catchy while others were smooth and glistening. Each distinct melody engulfed the room with peaceful notes and alluring harmonies. Listening to the harp in person made the instrument and the music powerful—much more powerful than listening to a recording. Being able to experience the harp, seeing the students work with the elaborate strings and hearing the captivating music, illuminated the passion that Carolan and the other musicians have for their instrument. The concert gave the audience a glimpse into the work of students in Chenette’s studio. Harp is just one of numerous instru-
Vassar harpists and Adjunct Artist Jeannie Kern Chenette organized a cozy concert in the Rose Parlor featuring the smooth serenades of South America. mental studios open to Vassar students, regardless of whether they study music more broadly. For the student harpists who had begun playing in high school, Vassar’s music program provides a space to continue exploring their passion. “In college, it’s just so much easier to spend time on extracurriculars,” Carolan commented, reflecting on how her relationship with the harp has changed. “I can devote more time to practicing the harp, where in high school, I would get home at like 4 p.m. and then do hours of homework.” Although the harp may not be the most standard musical instrument to pick up and learn, its beauty and elegance make it unique. With its large size and intricate strings and pedals, the harp often stands out against instruments such as the flute or the violin. Carolan articulated the harp’s allure: “It’s such a fun instrument. I always say it’s like a piano turned on its side.” But the harp, like all other instruments, serves
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as an escape from the chaos of daily life. “Playing harp can bring a sense of calmness and joy, and also an appreciation of how the body and mind work together effectively. Most of all, it can bring a great sense of joy into your life,” Chenette enthused. “When students come into the harp studio, they can leave their busy campus lives outside the door and immerse themselves in musical endeavor.” So, no matter how stressful or hectic college life can get, the student harpists can always find refuge in the harp room at Skinner Hall, a space that allows them to immerse themselves in the calming world of music. The Rose Parlor concert was a way to welcome others into it as well. “It was interesting…to listen to a new kind of music,” Haru Sugishita ’23 commented afterwards. In essence, the harp concert was about inclusivity—from its intimate venue to its soothing melodies, it comforted both the musician and the listener.
December 5, 2019
ARTS A weekly space highlighting the creative pursuits of student-artists
Leora Ballon Shlasko She/Her/Hers Class of 2022, International Studies What I like the most about photography and ceramics is that they allow me to approach the world with curiosity. In this, I mean to say that these art forms ask me to approach the world with different perspectives in mind. You can look at a cup from the top or the bottom—or perhaps from the side as it tilts into someone’s mouth and its contents scorch that same person’s tongue. You could also think about it as a winding snake-like coil that you’ll stack onto itself and smooth over until it creates your desired cylinder. Maybe you won’t smooth over the coils and it will not become a drinking vessel, but rather a cup to hold the stray pencils on my desk. These photos are pieces of a series that I shot over a summer in Mareuil, France called “Athénaïs is a Girl.” I’m not sure if my work often looks like this, but that summer my life felt like a movie. So many spectacular and sometimes strange things were around me: Athénaïs was one of the spectacular ones. In one moment she would hide behind me from donkeys and in the next she’d jump between eight-foot tall haystacks. I found her brave and inspiring, and I’m incredibly grateful that she and her sisters spent a summer showing me their lives, and, of course, how to feed their goats.
Excuse me, What are you excited to do over break?
“Going to Mexico with a friend.” — Devon Arcenaux ’22
“Knit a bunch of sweaters.” — Emma Iadanza ’22
“See my dogs.” — Jake Foster ’21
“I’m going going back back to Cali Cali.” — Nick West ’21
“Ghost Vassar people.” — Brenda Dzaringo ’20
“Avoid people I went to high school with and act straight in front of my family.” — Justin Davila ’22
Francisco Andrade, Humor & Satire Tiffany Trumble, Photography
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
December 5, 2019
VC Instagrams depict broad swath of student experience Noah Siderhurst Guest Reporter
f you search Vassar on Instagram, there are three main types of accounts you’ll find: student organizations, official institution pages and humor accounts. These accounts together reflect and reproduce a microcosm of Vassar and its culture. Student Organizations Almost all big student organizations on campus have Instagram accounts. After all, social media is a great way of promoting what you have to offer to other students. Stephanie Madonna ’21 runs the page @vassarcontrast in her position as the media director for the fashion and lifestyle magazine, Contrast. Their posts may spark interest in students and get them involved. “I hope that a lot more Vassar students will feel inspired by the page,” Madonna said. “I feel like Vassar has a homogeneous [fashion] style, and maybe it will inspire some creativity.” To do that, Madonna keeps the scope of the page’s content broad, including a range of topics from student fashion styles to trends in pop culture. And, of course, there are links to the Contrast website. “[The page] is very eclectic,” Madonna explained. “It’s different. I don’t really like structure at all, so I try to keep the feed as eclectic as possible. It’s what I’m feeling.” On their page, you’ll find a range of topics from student fashion styles to trends in pop culture. Since taking over the account earlier this year, Madonna has tried to make it more relatable for all students. This is important for student organizations that use social me-
dia for outreach. “I wanted to…find a way to incorporate more of the student body into the Contrast Instagram because previously it was a lot of mood pictures or photos from the shoots that we had. It wasn’t really representative of Vassar as a whole,” Madonna said. “I think the only way to gain followers is to have content that people want.” The Institution’s Accounts Besides student organizations, Vassar itself also maintains accounts like @vassarcollege and @vassaradmissions. These pages are similar to student organization pages but operate on a larger scale. Instead of promoting one specific subgroup of the school, they promote the entire school. To achieve this, Vassar enlists students, known as social media ambassadors, to generate content. For Owen Murray ’20, one of these ambassadors, posting is pretty straightforward. “We come up with content by attending events, interviewing students and staff, and also by just capturing an authentic image of what we see around us,” Murray said. “The primary goal of the Vassar social media accounts is to portray a realistic image of Vassar College.” Since its creation in 2015, the official Vassar Instagram page has seen steady growth. In March 2016, the page had 700 followers. By March 2018, when the social media ambassadors program started, it had reached 4,700 followers. Today, over 10,000 people follow @vassarcollege. In Murray’s view, as long as Vassar keeps being the place it is, people will keep follow-
ing. “Vassar is so interesting, and we have so many talented people here, so the potential content is endless,” Murray said. Humor Accounts There’s a third category of Vassar accounts that doesn’t seek to promote anything: humor pages. One of these is @overheardvassar, which, as the name suggests, posts snippets of overheard conversations around campus. The account was inspired by @overheardnewyork. “I noticed that a lot of colleges and universities started to have these overheard accounts and thought that it would be interesting for Vassar to have one,” the student behind OverheardVassar said. “I think the most important thing about the account is that what is submitted is genuinely ‘overheard’ and it’s fun to not necessarily know who said it but look at it and be like, ‘Hey, I really do relate with that.’” All of the content for this page is submitted via direct message. Its crowd-sourced appeal is something OverheardVassar tries to maintain. “I don’t post anything that I overhear myself just to maintain the integrity of the account and leave my own being out of it,” OverheardVassar explained. “In the end, everything overheard was sincerely overheard. Because the account is trusted with posting what is submitted, we, in turn, trust that the submissions are truthful and were overheard.” It’s for those same reasons that OverheardVassar tries to remain anonymous. “I don’t want my identity to be tied to the
account because the account is essentially made by Vassar students; I am simply the one who spends time taking the submissions to post them on the page. I also wouldn’t want submissions to be changed based on my identity; the account should be viewed as identity-less,” OverheardVassar said. “Admittedly, there is a joy in running the page in anonymity, and it’s interesting to see who is submitting what, even when you know them in real life. Sometimes people who have no idea I run the account have made jokes around me like, ‘That should go on @overheardvassar.’ If only you knew.” While the school’s and student organizations’ accounts present a polished, aboveground image of Vassar, meme accounts show a different side of campus culture. One of OverheardVassar’s goals is to be, in their words, “authentic.” “Any prospective student can look at Vassar’s website or go on a tour, but this account offers them an insight into the campus climate that isn’t necessarily accessible elsewhere,” OverheardVassar said. OverheardVassar thinks that meme accounts have a valuable place in the Vassar social media universe. They add humor, which can be a powerful unifier. “Seeing people interact with the posts is awesome; after all, that’s why I run the account,” OverheardVassar said. “It’s also enjoyable for people to call out who they think/ know said something I posted, and it’s even funnier when multiple people tag numerous people saying it was them. Because Vassar is very eclectic, it’s enjoyable to see something have the ability to unite us all.”
TH 148 provides blueprint for on-campus art collabs actly, is Pander pandering to? “I think we’re pandering to the people that want more creative energy on campus,” says Bush. “The people in the audience,” Scharf chimes in. “We’re just trying to make people dance, lose their minds and give them the kind of Saturday night that I always wanted on campus.” They’re unapologetic about being as appealing as possible. “We want people to walk in and immediately have an amazing time,” says Scharf. “It’s about the music, but it’s really about providing people with an experience,” says Koester. Scharf’s claim is bolder: “We’re a party band in every sense of the word, and we’d like to be known as that.” So, Pander’s M.O. is having a good time. To do that, they have one trick: covers. You won’t hear renditions of some super under-
Dean Kopitsky/The Miscellany News TH 148, also known as the “arts commune,” hosted an innovative, collaborative concert/party crossover on Saturday, Nov. 23. Featured musical acts included Foz Sharoni, Pander and TOMYMIND. Pander specializes in crowd-pleasing covers.
ground band that only they know, either. Their catalog is basically an Apple Music “Best of 2000s Indie” playlist. Their opener that night? “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove. The idea, Scharf shares, is “Come out and hear these songs you’ve known your whole life.” Evidently, give the people what they want, and they will dance. What Pander wants going forward is a little bigger. They don’t see themselves as a band, but as a reckoning of the art scene on campus. “Vassar is one of the most creative campuses in the county, and I think we would all agree with that—I think there should be a show every weekend. People should be throwing posters in your face, like, go to this show, come to that show,” says Scharf. He’s right. In my dorm, Lathrop, you’re likely to hear loud blues guitar, floor-shaking bass lines, or classical piano echoing through the common rooms at nearly every time of day. There’s an abundance of talent and interest. Vassar Student Musicians (StuMu) holds singer-songwriter concerts on an almost weekly basis, drawing dozens of people, but these bedroom practice sessions rarely connect to Saturday night. And a rising artistic tide should lift every boat on the arts sea. There is an equally wide array of bedroom artists that I am sure are eager to collaborate with bands, maybe making a buck in the process. To advertise their TH 148 show, Pander commissioned Sam Ripley ’22 to make the poster. In a separate interview, Ripley was equally excited about revamping the arts scene, commenting, “I’ve been sort of surprised by the relative lack of artistic collaboration on campus ... the nice thing about collaboration is that you don’t have to bear that pressure alone. It’s not just your thing.” Saturday night in 148 became a success-
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Dean Kopitsky/The Miscellany News
PANDER continued from page 1 he extols, looking lovingly in its direction. The first thing you notice about Pander is that the members don’t seem to know they’re in the same band. Ben Scharf ’22, guitarist and self-styled “jack of all trades,” fits his role as hype-man. He wears a Pabst Blue Ribbon shirt under a tight blue blazer. They will eventually come off. Koester and his overalls evoke “Vassar arts scene.” Jorden Schreeder ’20, vocalist and tambourine wiz, sports a very alt-rock aesthetic; in this case, a grey, checkered suit. And although he found the Vassar arts scene pretty early on in his academic career, Cashman’s still donning the classic first-year look: blue polka-dotted button down and slacks. Before they went on, I sat with them in a tight circle by the TH laundry building. I have one question on my mind: Who, ex-
Members of Pander are shown above in the midst of their set. Their high-energy, eventually bare-chested show created the ideal TH party atmosphere, conducive to dancing and other crucial facets of a perfect collegiate Saturday evening. ful proof of concept. Pander’s theatrics surged the crowd past their conservative weekend bedtime. TH 148 was not befallen by the notorious plagues of most Vassar parties: No one seemed to be tired, no one was glancing down at their phones, no one was taking an exaggeratedly long time to use the bathroom or get drinks. Scharf, buzzingly energetic just before taking the stage, gives his vision for Vassar’s new music scene: “We’re gonna keep throwing these shows, and we just want more student artists and musicians—creative people—more art on campus that everyone can enjoy.” Abby Tarwater contributed additional reporting for this article.
December 5, 2019
Finals got you down? Meet the dogs of Vassar College DOGS continued from page 1 took a picture of her and put it on Facebook.” While Alberta, who is getting a tad gray around the ends of her ears, slurped water next to her large bed, Lieb confessed that she was initially hesitant to adopt. “My earlier dog passed away several months before, and I thought that I would wait a year or two so that I could travel and not have to be home at night,” she said. “But I was so taken with the picture of her, especially when her ears were up, that I con-
Courtesy of Janet Song
Courtesy of Janet Song Although Research Librarian Gretchen Lieb, above, was initially hesitant to adopt after the loss of a previous canine companion, she eventually met Alberta and the two have been together ever since.
tacted Darrell.” Lieb often brings Alberta to work, which helps calm students down before their appointments in Lieb’s office. “Now that she’s older she’s a little more sedate, and she just loves students so much,” Lieb said. “And I find that it helps through a lot of consultation interviews and a lot of people enjoy her visiting with them, greeting them.” Unlike Pepper, Alberta is not a “jumper” nor a “licker.” While she does get along with people, Alberta does not get along with other pups. “She does bark at other dogs,” admitted Lieb, “and sometimes doesn’t know how to handle herself well with other dogs. That’s just part of having a dog. It’s like people: Some of them do better with people [in general] and certain types of people.” And for Alberta, it seems that she is just a people pup, calm and tolerant with students and faculty, but sometimes aggressive with fellow furry friends. The same is true for Shayna, a lab/retriever mix whom owner and Professor of Anthropology and Director of Latin American & Latino/a Studies David Tavarez described as a “dignified lady.” Tavarez commented, “Shayna is a bit of a cranky, aging diva.” Her owner added, “She loves people, but may growl at dogs that come too close without a proper introduction.” Oscar, whose human is Assistant Professor of Psychological Science Lori Newman, also struggles to get along with Vassar’s other fluffy residents. “He’s not really friends with dogs,” Newman chortled. “But you know who he does like to see, because he likes to see that dog’s owner? He likes to see Bailey, who is [Associate] Professor [of Psychological Science] Bojana Zupan’s [dog]. And they have the office next door
Above, Assistant Professor of Psychological Science Lori Newman poses with her son, Wyatt and their dog, Oscar. Oscar may be small, but he is absolutely filled with love. to me. So Bailey and Oscar will tolerate each other, because Oscar sometimes gets treats from Professor Zupan.” Bailey has other dog friends from the psychology department. Professor of Psychological Science Kevin Holloway told me that Bailey is best friends with his dog ‘Uku. “They see each other regularly,” Holloway stated. In fact, Bailey dropped by to visit ‘Uku while Holloway answered questions for his interview. Having dogs can brighten any day at Vassar. “They always give you kind of this unconditional cuddle,” Newman gushed. “Like love.” For Newman in particular, her dog Oscar often keeps her and her
husband company in their home offices. “He’ll just be there with you as you’re working. So he loves his family unit a lot.” She paused, a smile brightening her face. “Or maybe, [he] is annoyed at us for not going to bed and wants to make sure we go to bed eventually.” And seeing all these dogs—Oscar, Pepper, Alberta, Shayna, ‘Uku—brightens my days as well. Sometimes on my walks to class, I smile after seeing Pepper at the Deece, sniffing at the bottom of a pine tree. He’s scavenging for food students have dropped nearby. And Elliott is on the end of his leash, calling his name in exasperation.
Two foodie columnists review CIA’s American Bounty Lindsay Craig, Tamika Whitenack Columnist, Guest Columnist
hile the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is just 15 minutes down the road, it feels like a world away from Vassar and the Deece. The campus has a distinctly food-focused design, captured in little details like the pedestrian crossing signs featuring chef hats or the fish sculpture constructed entirely of dining utensils. Students and visitors alike amble amid CIA classrooms and restaurants. While the grand buildings and bustling environment of the CIA certainly make an impression, the real highlight is the food. Our dining experience at American Bounty—one of eight options at the CIA—allowed us to sample the culinary creations of the CIA and absorb the restaurant’s earthy, yet sophisticated atmosphere. Our gastronomic adventure began as we perused the menu while nibbling on complimentary bread. Served in individual pans, the golden-brown brioche buns were a delightful pillow of buttery goodness that whetted our appetites for the dishes to come. For appetizers, we ordered a delectable assortment of dishes: smoked trout, local baby greens, crab and scallop cannelloni and baby kale salad. Of the four dishes, the smoked trout burst with the most flavor. Surrounded by a ring of kale pureé dotted with woody orange and yellow caviar, the intense, smoky trout paired perfectly with the other mild ingredients.
The salads were sparse and disappointing for a farm-to-table restaurant. The salad with local baby greens blazed with color—red lettuce, yellow and green kale and hearty spinach—but lacked volume and flavor. These negatives were exacerbated by a subtle vinaigrette, which couldn’t be saved by a deliciously strong Farmer’s cheese. When we ordered the crab and scallop cannelloni, we were eager to see how the chefs would execute this creative take on an Italian classic. Traditionally a dish of rolled pasta filled with cheese and meat, this seafood-centered cannelloni was a single tube packed with a mixture of crab and scallop, accompanied by a turmeric fennel puree and dash of mint. While the concept was promising, we were disappointed by the composition of the crab and scallop filling, which resembled meatloaf in texture and lacked cohesion with the pasta. A filling that preserved pieces of crab and scallop would have been preferable, but we still found the dish to be an intriguing eating experience. Onto our main dishes. Lindsay ordered the Arctic Char main with parsnips, dill, leeks and wheat berries. Drizzled on top was a saffron butter sauce. The presentation was inviting: The crispy fillet featured atop the wheat berries resting in a pool of bright butter. Two parsnip chunks were placed on the outer ring (almost too inconspicuous to appreciate) with emerald-green sauteed leeks on the side. The char was tasty, but lemon or a stronger acid could have added a missing element. It tasted more like a home-cooked experiment with too few spices than a perfectly curated culinary creation: refreshing
for the overwhelmed taste buds, but not as thrilling as the appetizers. In lieu of the traditional meat mains, Tamika opted for the soup. Complete with tableside presentation, the soup came to life as a stream of warm broth cascaded over a delicate smattering of spinach leaves, seared fish pieces and pieces of focaccia bread. The soup was simple, but the broth was deep in flavor with surprising spicy notes, a welcome warmth in this winter season. In the interlude between dinner and dessert, we observed the dining area. To our left were formally dressed fellow restaurant-goers, with camera people circulating. We wondered if they were food critics. To the right, we spotted a window to the kitchen. A few chefs were making final touches on the dessert we would soon relish. Noticing our curiosity, our waiter asked if we would like a tour. We enthusiastically agreed, surprised at this offer to glimpse the secrets of the kitchen. They appeared to be honored by our intrigue. Perhaps most diners are more interested in the food than in the people behind the process. The tour contradicted all expectations we held for a professional kitchen. We expected “Ratatouille”-style screaming orders and messes and collisions, but instead witnessed the measured composure of musicians performing in an orchestra. Some staff chopped onions with speedy precision, others controlled sizzling pans with choice cuts of meat and fish and a few more positioned flowers and chocolate drizzles on bright white plates. We emerged from the tour to find des-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
sert waiting on our table. We could finally appreciate the dozens of people involved in the construction of any single dish. It takes a village to raise a child and a kitchen team to perfect a panna cotta. For dessert, we indulged in a pumpkin panna cotta with poached pears, spiced oat crumble and a pear-ginger sorbet. The dish resembled a beady-eyed insect because of the symmetry of both red jams on the poached pears. If these pear parts had been offset on opposite sides of the dish, insectifying would be harder. Despite our initial judgements of the presentation, the panna cotta tasted as it should: sweet and complex. The rich pumpkiness was balanced with the light pears and oat crumble. The pear-ginger sorbet was the highlight of the dish—its refreshing, fruity chill a crisp complement to the creamy pumpkin custard. We concluded the meal with this satisfying sweetness, a perfect finale for our pleased palates. Our dinner at American Bounty was an entertaining opportunity to embrace our inner food critics and engage with food more critically than our everyday lunch or dinner. We definitely would return to test out American Bounty’s fare in a different season or to sample one of the CIA’s other restaurant options. If the farm greens were better featured, the char more bold and the dessert less unintentionally frightening, five stars would be fitting. Still, the scrumptiousness of the smoked trout, savoriness of the soup and flavorful perfection of the panna cotta all provided reasons to return. Stay tuned for our next taste tour.
HUMOR & SATIRE
Momus, Goddess of the House of Satire, HOROSCOPES Breaker of Chains, Destroyer of Friendships
December 5, 2019
By Ivanna Guerra (Speaker for the Goddess)
ARIES | March 21 | April 19
Intuition is high! Cut off toxic people without remorse. Be smart about it, though. I see you trying to block Colleen Mallet’s email, but that won’t solve anything. Don’t shoot the messenger.
TAURUS | April 20 | May 20 Not to get too NSFW here, but Mars is in Scorpio, and you need to calm down. You’re the most sensuous sign, but that doesn’t give you permission to act Like That at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday.
GEMINI | May 21 | June 20
CANCER | June 21 | July 22 Everything is a prophecy this week. Take note of every single event. Don’t put your crystal ball by a window, though. It will burn your room down. Physics and stuff.
LEO | July 23 | August 22 Get ready to start manifesting! If you can believe it, you can achieve it! Get those grades up and make that money! And don’t respond to those weird sugar daddy bots on Instagram. It isn’t worth it.
VIRGO | August 23 | September 22 Venus is in Capricorn––time to start repressing your emotions again! Stock up on Uno Reverse cards to use on people who ask how you are. It’ll scare them so much they’ll forget you haven’t answered.
LIBRA | September 23 | October 22
ear Momus, My friends are nice, but they’re actually really lame. How do I have a social life that isn’t awful? Sincerely, Bored but not alone
Dear Bored, I think it is easy to get caught in the Vassar cult-like cliques seeing that practically everyone is in one. The very nature of fellow groups and student organizations creates an environment in which we are only exposed to our preexisting cliques. It may seem like we find friends elsewhere, but I would argue that that is not true. You can always branch out. This may be cliche advice, but you should join a student org or, better yet, make a new org. The key here is to find a cause that people will get behind, like Vassar ghost hunting. Of course, everyone knows that the true paranormal activity on this campus comes from the English major souls which reside within the squirrels. It is getting kinda chilly outside, so it might be a good idea to hold off on bothering them until their hibernation ends next semester! Or if you really want to make a great cult, I think you should form one under my
name. I like the idea of people worshipping me and my humor. I expect a statue of me to be placed in front of the library by the end of next year, so chop-chop. Get on it. Although forging friendships with more entertaining people is a good idea, I don’t think you have to necessarily hang out with your boring friends all the time anyway. In fact, I think you should never be friendly with anyone on this campus again. You can be polite to everyone, but never let anyone in your life. Of course, you’ll eventually have to move to the Old Bookstore in the College Center to avoid extended human interaction. You will adopt the ways of the bats and you will have this urge to interact with society, but only as a masked superhero. I suggest you find yourself a butler to scrounge up some food for you so you don’t have to go to the Deece, either. Then again, you can always spice things up within your existing friend group by starting a huge argument on the order in which you put on your socks and shoes— whether it’s sock, shoe, sock, shoe or sock, sock, shoe, shoe. Best case scenario, you will find that you and your friends share core values and they will feel more comfortable knowing you don’t leave one foot completely bare while the other is completely covered, like a madman. Worst case
scenario, your entire group splits and now everyone is forced to find their own people! I wish you the best of luck. Remember: There is a right answer. Sincerely, Mom
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
You couldn’t resist a healthy battle of wits at Thanksgiving dinner, could you? How does it feel, huh? Knowing you’ve won once again? Actually, I bet it makes you feel great. Congrats.
Momus, the Goddess of Satire. She watches gracefully from the heavens, and only descends to our realm when a poor student requires sarcastic remarks and bad advice.
Vassar Bitch Chronicles Emily Lesorogol ’22
Practice self-care this week! By that I mean see a damn therapist. Take advantage of Metcalf’s location before it moves to the field house forever.
SCORPIO | October 23 | November 21 You were due some rest over the break! Now that you got it, take time to focus on what you really want––like revisiting old obsessions to get some serotonin. Confuse Spotify’s algorithm! SAGITTARIUS
November 22 | December 21 You’re looking for new adventures. Plan a road trip, then ask everyone to drop everything and go with you. They’ll say no, but at least you’ll be validated in your uniqueness.
December 22 | January 19 Saturn is telling you to reevaluate some important life decisions. How do you feel about your major? Your friends? Your dream job? Yourself? It’s not too late to start over. Move to Siberia!
January 20 | February 18
Life is tough, but so are you! Your brain can get you out of any situation, especially now. Remember that the faster you move, the faster you fall into the quicksand. Also, don’t fall into quicksand.
PISCES | February 19 | March 20 Mercury’s out of retrograde; you feel like yourself again! Who are you, you ask? I don’t know! Where’s the list of your personality traits you made so you wouldn’t forget? You lost it again? Yikes!
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
December 5, 2019
HUMOR & SATIRE
From the desk of Francisco Andrade, Humor & Satire Editor
‘Classes canceled due to snowstorm,’ claim professors praying for Thanksgiving hangovers to dissipate Dating in Greek life? Your expectations will surely fall ‘frat’ Hannah Gaven White Claw Chugger
because when I was in high school I kept texting this boy to hang out and he would rarely answer me and when he did make plans, he wouldn’t show up. So then I would text his mother in hopes of getting him in trouble and then he stopped responding to me at all?!?! I thought maybe he just wasn’t into girls, but I just saw a Thanksgiving Instagram post where he’s cozying up to a girl with the caption that her family now calls him “baby wy wy.” This made me realize that maybe he actually does text girls back and maybe I can’t make generalizations about boys based on literally two interactions I’ve had with them in my life. I went to an all-girls school. I don’t know what to tell you. Based on my two past boy incidents, it only makes sense that I’ve found it incredibly difficult to interact with the “frat” category of boy. I didn’t understand at the time what their brand of flirting looks like, but I’ll give you my favorite example from a frat, trip-kap (they are referred to as trip-kap, not their letters [KKK] because that’s not the branding you want associated with your frat. Apparently the frat existed before the KKK and tried suing them for using their letters to represent a hate-group, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out.) Hopefully this factoid will be useful in your future. A boy walks over to me and points to
my Apple Watch (quintessential sorority girl). He says, “Oh, I see you have an Apple Watch. Did you know that I invest in Apple? It means that I am part of the reason your watch exists. You’re welcome.” The only appropriate response is, “Wow, so you must be an economics major. Do you do a lot of investing?” And the most important question: “How profitable are your investments?”
Courtesy of Thomas Hawk via Flickr
hen I told my friends at Vassar that I wanted to join a sorority during my junior year abroad, I received mostly disapproving looks accompanied by sad sighs of, “Oh, are you really sure you want to do that?” I understand where the judgement came from. There are big BIG problems with Greek Life. At the same time, there are also some unfair stereotypes about sororities. Some are true, but why do they have to be so negative? For example, I love a good cult. Chanting, robes, secret rituals? Sign me up. I am so into cloaks that I wrote about how good I look in a stylish cloak in my college admissions essays. I have four cloaks—one for every occasion. I have a warm and water-resistant cloak for winter walks and a Harry Potter cloak for cosplay. I also have a basic witch cloak for when I’m feeling spooky and I have a sparkly silver cloak for going out. As you can see, I was made for sorority life. Joining a sorority really turned me into the stereotype. Before I was a sorority girl, I would lay in bed eating potato chips clad in ripped sweatpants that I had been in for four days because I didn’t have the energy to take a shower and change. Now that I am a sorority girl, I am definitely not doing anything described in the previous sentence.
I’m out prancing around town in my Jimmy Choos on my way to a yacht party where I’ll be shotgunning my Claws as all of my sorority sisters are tossing $1,000 bills into the ocean. Finally something for the fish to eat that’s not plastic. Sorority life is just party life. I don’t even talk to other girls in my sorority unless we are at a frat on a Wednesday night and I ask them to go to the bathroom with me because I REALLY need to pee. There’s no more going to the bathroom alone. (However, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to the bathroom alone in my entire life. Even if it’s 4 a.m. and I have just woken up from a dream where I am peeing my pants and I am about to soak my entire bed, I will wake up a random neighbor and make them come with me.) I’m moving into my sorority house in the winter. It is just like living in the dorms except it has a nice kitchen where dirty dishes get washed and the residents actually treat it with care. I know that’s a hard concept to fully comprehend. The nicest part about living in the house will be that I can just walk downstairs to a party. I don’t need to put on shoes, a coat, a bra or pants. Junior year really does be like that for everyone. Probably the worst part of being in a sorority is that we have to interact with the frats. Frat boys are terrible at texting back. Maybe this is actually a trait of all boys,
Above is an artist’s rendering of what every trust fund frat boy looks like moments before asking out a girl, getting rejected and complaining about feminism.
Two Vassar senior citizens bond together to offer advice Tiffany Trumble & Francisco Andrade Old Farts
male tradition I will shoddily complete a woman’s hard work and parade it around as if I was the mastermind behind this whole thing. So thanks for the start sweetheart, I’ll take it from here. Y’all, I wanna start off by saying I’m not gonna be using those big fancy words Tiff used like “disseminate,” “dissuade” or “potty-training” (whatever that is). I don’t know what she is on about. Farts are hilarious, and life is too short to use a coaster. So as a man (*cough, cough*) in his late 20s, here are a few pearls of wisdom I have to share. Get a dog. Life is so much easier
Tiffany Trumble/The Miscellany News
Francisco Andrade/ The Miscellany News
s a woman in her early 20s (*cough, cough*), I have quite a few tips to disseminate to the youngins out there. First and foremost, do NOT, under any circumstances, get pregnant. I desperately remind you to utilize those condoms in the dorm hallways with the best of intentions. I honestly do love my attention-seeking, Deece-exploring daughter (her name is Chloe, for the three of you who haven’t met her), but the terrible twos are prominently displayed in my shitty homework and the bags under my eyes. Dealing with her attitude is only half the battle. Waking up three hours before my 9:30 class every morning takes a toll, as do the evening hours singing “Baby Shark” instead of writing one of my many essays. The last few weeks have especially been quite a trial, as we are now potty-training. It is quite odd walking into the living room and seeing poop on the floor when you don’t have a pet. If that isn’t enough to dissuade you, picture 23 hours of labor. That should do it. My next bit of advice has to do with men (surprise). I’m sorry to say I can’t give a lot of advice on any other relationships, but for those attracted to the smell that is masculinity—look no further. Men are awful. They put their half-finished beer cans on the coffee table (ass), leaving rings that don’t disappear with even the most scrupulous cleaning, and they REFUSE to get out of the shower without playing “helicopter” in full view of the living room window. I get it. Being with a man sounds nice on
the surface, but this idea of having someone to be little spoon (yes, that is correct) who can also get things off the top shelf isn’t worth it. While he reaches for the coffee beans he will undoubtedly fart (it will be pungent) and then proceed to laugh maliciously like Vassar’s security guards after they leave another ticket on your car. Oh, and by the way, our daughter wasn’t even at home when I found the poop on the floor. In an effort to keep these extremely opinionated suggestions fair, Franny has agreed to offer insight into the male mind: Thanks Tiff. As a man keeping up with
On the left is my adorable 12-year-old puppy Kingsford Charles, and on the right is Tiffany’s lovely spawn Chloe Trumble. Who is cuter? You decide! Send your votes to mliederman@@vassar.edu, subject line “dog baby.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
with a dog. Sure, you have to take care of another life, but they are always happy to see you. Plus, you can literally get away with anything if you have a cute dog (and my dog is the cutest. Don’t challenge me on this, you will lose). Late on homework? Say your dog had to go to the vet. Someone mad at you? Throw a tennis ball so your dog runs their way. Argument with your annoying roommate? Have your dog maul them. I know Tiff made being married to a man sound bad, but it really isn’t. I mean yes, everything she said is true, and we are horrible living partners, but it could be worse. You could be married to a bear or a chupacabra. That would undoubtedly be much worse (maybe). Women are no walk in the park either. I am married to a woman, and you won’t believe the shit I have to put up with. Just the other day she told me I can’t use 3-in-1 Soap/ Shampoo/Conditioner because all three are horrible? She also complained that the scent ‘Bearglove’ isn’t a real thing! That’s the problem with women—they let every small inconvenience like your hair falling out in clumps and smelling like swamp ass get to them. My advice to all you young, single people out there is this: Find someone you like, hold them tight, then convince them to leave the military with you and go to a fancy school you’ve never heard of all the way in Pough-whereeverthefuck-sie so you can study for a degree you probably won’t even use. I mean, it worked two different times for Tiff and I, at least.
Quite Frankly Frankie Knuckles
Managing Editor Quality Advice-Giver
Hey Frankie, I’m overwhelmed. I have way too many finals. Why do professors think it’s alright to give two finals each? Don’t they realize that everyone’s gonna do that? What? Help. Sincerely, Finals Fumbler Dear Fumbler,
uite frankly, yeah, what? In my four plus semesters at Vassar, I’ve noticed that our professors fall on a spectrum with two possible endpoints: extremely willing to adapt to what their students need, and totally committed to a syllabus that they know represents a nigh-impossible workload. Some profs manage to, like, somehow amalgamate those viewpoints in interesting and terrifying ways. It sounds like you might have gotten an unfortunate set of professors who lean to the “impossible workload” end. So I suppose the question here is twofold. First, where do your professors fall on this spectrum? Second, do you seek commiseration or a solution? If your professors lean toward the first genus, you already know what you have to do. Ask for an extension. AsK fOr SeVeRaL ExTeNsIoNs. ~~extensions~~ It’s not a dirty word. They want you to succeed! Take the proffered helping hand—your professors, after all, were once overworked undergrads. If the second, try not to panic (not useful, I know). You have to take this finals thing one step at a time. Mark dates on your calendar, set small goals and acquire tunnel vision. This might not be pretty, but you’re going to get through this. Enlist a friend to periodically deliver snacks to the room you’re holed up in. If you want commiseration, here it is: We are all suffering, deeply. Human companionship in this time of trial will likely benefit you, but make sure you don’t spend so much time venting to friends that you eat into work time. If you want my solution: It’s all about time management and realistic self-expectations. You’re not an essay-writing, lab-doing machine. You’re a human being, and you have needs, not least of which is basic self-care and moving your body from one place to another at least a few times a day. Carve out reasonable blocks of time, at most a few hours, in which to narrow your focus, shut out the world and work. Try to plan out your assignments before you dive in, so they don’t take up endless time as you fly by the seat of your pants and discover your thesis along the way. No matter what you need to hear this finals season, there’s one universal assurance I can offer you: Come the 20th of December, we’ll all be through this. Best wishes, Frankie P.S. Even President Bradley is suffering because of finals; it was in between the lines of the Sunday email.
December 5, 2019
Firetrucks should have corporate sponsors Jonas Trostle
ASCAR is a sport in which drivers in sticker-covered cars race around tracks, making, for the most part, left turns. It is a silly sport, but there is a good idea hidden among those gaudy stickers. You see, the ridiculous-looking cars advertising all sorts of knick-knacks and goods are the reason NASCAR teams make as much money as they do. Plenty of companies pay to put ads on race cars because of the sport’s audience (approximately 3.3 million viewers per race) and positive association (Forbes, “NASCAR Fans Are Changing The Way They Watch Races,” 03.01.2019). What if I told you that there is a similar mutually beneficial relationship overlooked by organizations across the country? Picture a world where firetrucks all over the nation are covered with stickers, working as mobile billboards for everything from Skittles to IKEA. Fire departments from coast to coast would suddenly have larger budgets from ad revenue with no resources expended nor additional work undertaken. This translates to higher pay and superior equipment for firefighters. Why would companies sponsor fire departments in particular? A few reasons. Firefighters historically have a great reputation. Nurses have won Gallup’s Ethics and Honesty in Professions poll 17 years running. The last time they didn’t win? When firefighters
were included and took the top spot (Gallup, “Nurses Again Outpace Other Professions for Honesty, Ethics,” 12.20.2018). Firefighters have the reputational capital that companies look for when deciding what to sponsor. They also have a considerable presence nationwide, with fire departments in both every metro center and almost every little hamlet you can imagine. Not to mention that firetrucks are much bigger than race cars and sit in one location for long periods of time. For goodness’ sake, they’re bright red and covered in flashing lights. They have sirens. What more could you possibly want out of an advertisement? It’s the real-life version of an ad that autoplays in your browser, but you couldn’t even be mad about it because they’d be out there saving lives. Plus, when the fire department benefits without having to do anything other than wear a silly costume on their truck, the entire community reaps the reward. Over a six-year period, Farmers Insurance was willing to pay approximately $11 million a year to sponsor one race car (Racing News, “NASCAR sponsorship costs (details),” 10.18.2018). Imagine how many companies of comparable size to Farmers Insurance exist. If even half of them invested in a sponsored firetruck scheme, millions of dollars would appear like magic in the hands of fire departments. Sure, I admit that some of this money will obviously be misused—firefighters are humans after all—and that thousands of dollars will go towards bonuses for otherwise
undeserving people or spinning rims for the firetruck. But even if that is the case, it can’t possibly all be embezzled. Every dollar that isn’t pocketed will go toward faster and better responses to life-altering disasters. Companies don’t even need to make room in their budgets for this new expenditure. Just go to your advertisement budget. Stop buying Facebook ads and stop paying for those five seconds of YouTube screen time you get before every single person on earth hits the “skip ad” button. Ditch the billboards that are impossible to read while driving anyway. The TV ad market is shrinking as more people cut the cable and turn to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. Reallocate those dollars to where they can really make a difference. I admit, there is the potential issue of bad optics. For instance, if the Snickers factory burns down and the fire department is sponsored by Kit Kat, that is quite unseemly, even if it was just a matter of happenstance and not malicious influence on the part of the Kit Kat company. Consequently, it could be convenient to constrain what sort of sponsorships are allowed. This is of course something that can be regulated according to rather broad advertisement laws, so there is plenty of room to restrain the worst impulses of corporate and non-corporate amalgamations like these. Just think it over, maybe share it with somebody and see how you sit with it. What’s the harm?
One hapa’s take on white-passing biraciality Alice Woo
y ethnic makeup is 50 percent Chinese (mainland) and 50 percent white (European mutt). Even as I write this, I feel the need to apologize for the invalidity of my POC experience because I can and do pass as white. Moreover, while East Asians in the U.S. have certainly dealt with historical discrimination and present-day bigotry, East Asians’ current position in the United States’ system of racial oppression affords us higher privilege than Black and brown folks, who are far more often victims of poverty, police brutality and poor education. I want to begin by acknowledging this inequality. However, the following reflection is really just me figuring out where I fit into the schema of race in America in conjunction with my own identity. It’s a conversation I’ve had with myself for a long time. I’d love to share it with others and I welcome your thoughts. I am definitely closer with the Chinese side of my family than the white side of my family. Ironically, this has only made me feel more white. Growing up, I was a picky eater, choosing to say “I’m not hungry” rather than eat dim sum, bok choy and wontons. I became known in my family for my taste for white food, so my relatives would always order me french fries and fried rice at our favorite Chinese restaurant. (It’s only recently that my Nai Nai and Yeh Yeh have realized that I will actually eat what they cook now.) When we visited relatives, my half-Chinese, half-Japanese cousins would call me hauli, Hawaiian slang for a white person. Though we didn’t know how to put words to the racial divide in our family, my brothers and I felt that separation, which was constantly perpetuated by the adults of the family too. When I attended Chinese school on Saturdays from age 6 to age 11, I stuck out like a sore (white) thumb. I was constantly singled out for being, in their words, “so fair!” Per-
haps my fair-skinned appearance could have been overlooked had my performance been the exception. However, because neither of my parents spoke Mandarin, I stuck out academically as well—and not in a good way. For the first time, I felt like a failure in a school setting, and for the first time, I felt my race as a tangible part of how I move through the world. Though my ethnic heritage earns me minority status in the United States, I was too white for the environment in which I grew up. The feeling of non-belonging in Asian spaces is part of why it now feels so difficult and invalid for me to identify as a person of color. Now I am an adult who speaks three languages, none of them Mandarin. I’m not Chinese-looking enough for people to expect me to speak it, but I feel Chinese enough to be guilty that I don’t. I jokingly refer to myself as ethnically ambiguous, as the question I often field from strangers and acquaintances is: “So like...what are you?” Only after leaving the California Bay Area (where East Asians and other hapa abound) have I begun to feel powerful enough to claim my racial identity for what it is—and that doesn’t mean running through the list of things that justify my Chinese-ness, checking the boxes that prove my Asian status. Yes, I can check a lot of stereotypical boxes (no shoes in the house, extended family is close family, homemade dumplings and wontons and fried rice, pressure to become a doctor and stay away from a career in the arts, etc.). But just having to enumerate them makes me feel like an imposter; if race is how others perceive you and ethnicity is your genuine heritage, then my race fluctuates based on who I’m around. In college, it can still be jarring to hear other people refer to me as a woman of color. Weirder still is hearing a white romantic partner say that they’ve never dated “an Asian” before (that article! That reduction of my identity into one word! Ouch!). Is my
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MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
whiteness somehow erased by my genes of color, despite me ultimately benefiting from systems of white supremacy in the United States? Undoubtedly, to be defined by one’s race is always weird and inappropriate. But it becomes especially startling when someone else pinpoints my Asianness, considering it’s something I hardly felt I could claim myself. It can be uncomfortable to suddenly remember that I’m not always white-passing. On some level, no matter how white I feel or how Asian I feel, the way I will be seen both ways depends on who is looking at me. It’s like that optical illusion with a rectangle that’s been laid onto a color gradient, making the rectangle appear to be a gradient as well, when it’s actually just a solid color rectangle. Just as there is a distinction between race and ethnicity, we must acknowledge the distinction between racism and bigotry. Though I may experience individual incidents of bigotry or prejudice, I will never experience the systemic racism that Black and brown people deal with. I am still working on not feeling like I have to prove my ethnic identity, even though I often feel that my racial identity invalidates it. I know by my experiences and by my genes that I am Chinese. I know by my other experiences and my other genes that I am white. Being both is an experience I am reflecting on, analyzing and grappling with every day.
Courtesy of Dodek via Wikimedia Commons
“At times it feels as though my race depends on its interaction with those around me.”
December 5, 2019
Exploitative capitalism: Nestlé’s egregious ethics and you Frankie Knuckles Managing Editor
s the snowflakes begin to dance down and our noses redden from dry air and that nasty cold that keeps coming around, we’re firmly rooted in hot cocoa season. Most of us just want a nice, sweet, hot beverage. The dual cocoa and cappuccino dispenser is (most of the time) ready to meet that need. Vassar’s lovely, utopian dining services provider, Café Bon Appétit assures us on its website: “Working directly with farmers and ranchers opened our eyes to the many problems of our modern food supply: [W]hile it is abundant and cheap, it has many hidden costs, such as environmental pollution and worker abuse” (Café Bon Appétit, “Sustainability”). Doesn’t that just make your liberal sensibilities delightfully warm and fuzzy? Nothing on that page indicates that every press of the dispenser button supports child slavery. The company responsible is, of course, Nestlé. If you haven’t seen a Gordon Commons staff person refilling the dispenser with Nestlé hot chocolate and Nescafé cappuccino mix, you wouldn’t know that Nestlé is behind the cocoa scenes. The label “Pierce Bros Hot Cocoa,” only refers to the machine’s origin, not its contents. Nestlé’s ethically-nightmarish history is well-documented. The independent notfor-profit publication Ethical Consumer recounts, “Nestlé [is] known for producing a variety of sweets, drinks and cereals but also for being the target of the world’s longest running boycott,” ongoing since 1977 (Ethical Consumer, “Nestlé SA”). The boycott started over the company’s breastmilk replacement product marketing strategy. In the ’70s, Nestlé came under fire for using deliberately misleading language while advertising their Gerber infant formula. At that time, Nestlé’s ad campaigns specifically targeting the Global South featured saleswomen dressed as nurses pitching to mothers that formula feeding alone
would sustain an infant until they could eat solid foods (Business Insider, “Every Parent Should Know The Scandalous History Of Infant Formula,” 06.25.2012). “Breast is best” is hotly debated in the United States because of the benefits of breastfeeding on the one side and its difficulty and potential mom-shaming on the other. However, breastfeeding is imperative in areas with unreliable water sanitation because powdered formula must be combined with water. Unclean water as an infant’s only source of nutrition can have disastrous effects. According to UNICEF, “In developing countries, optimal breastfeeding...has the potential to prevent more than 800,000 deaths in children under age five and 20,000 deaths in women every year” (UNICEF, “Improving breastfeeding, complementary foods and feeding practices,” 01.05.2018). Additionally, breast milk has no monetary cost and formula is a recurrent cost of child-rearing. It’s not a stretch to suggest that marketing against breastfeeding in the Global South is not just an especially exploitative capitalist practice—it’s evil. These advertising practices led to new marketing rules regarding breast milk alternatives (Business Insider). But even last year, the company continued to misleadingly advertise the nutritious quality of their infant formula (The Guardian, “Nestlé under fire for marketing claims on baby milk formulas,” 02.01.2018). Nestlé used cheaper formulas in less wealthy areas, with ingredients it elsewhere lauded itself for excluding: “In South Africa, the firm used sucrose in infant milk formulas, while marketing its Brazilian and Hong Kong formulas as being free of sucrose ‘for baby’s good health’” (The Guardian). Beyond infant formula woes, the company has engaged in ecological destruction and contributed to environmental racism. In one “Boycott Nestlé” campaign led by Lakota Law, a call to action states: “Nestle continues to act beyond the boundaries of ecological protection and basic human dignity” (Lakota Law, “The Case Against Nestle,” 06.13.2018). This refers to Nestlé pledging to donate
roughly 100,000 bottles of water per week between May 2018 and August 2019 to those affected by the Flint Water Crisis—which is still happening, by the way—while simultaneously striking a deal with then-Governor Rick Snyder to pump about 1.1 million gallons of water per day from the Great Lakes aquifer in exchange for $200 paid annually to the state (MLive, “Nestle extends bottled water commitment to end of August in Flint,” 04.10.2019) (Click on Detroit, “Residents outraged by new water deal allowing Nestle to pump millions of gallons from Michigan,” 05.30.2018). You read that right: $200. And that’s not even considering the ecological impact of producing somewhere around 3.5 million bottles of water every day (Bloomberg Businessweek, “Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For,” 09.21.2017) in a state with the longest freshwater coastline in the United States at 3,288 miles (Michigan.gov, “Does Michigan have the longest coast line in the United States?”). Nestlé’s malpractices also extend into our Gordon Commons cocoa. According to Nestlé, in 2018, 49 percent of its cocoa was “responsibly sourced” (Nestlé, “Our Raw Materials”). What about the other 51 percent? Well, unfortunately, “About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa where, according to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children were engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions” (Washington Post, “Cocoa’s child laborers,” 06.05.2019). One cocoa farmer told Washington Post journalists, “I admit that it is a kind of slavery.” One child laborer said he had come to the area to get an education but had not been to school in five years (Washington Post). Shockingly, Nestle’s self-reported percentage of responsibly sourced cocoa is higher than Hershey’s or Mars’ (Washington Post). I don’t know about you, but 51 percent possible child slavery is a little bit too high for me to enjoy sipping cocoa without thinking twice. The company makes some noise about these concerns, but actual policy chang-
es are difficult to pin down. For example, “Nestlé receives a worst rating for palm oil policy and practice because its statement is vague and confusing” (Ethical Consumer). Their cute, animated depiction of their supply chain—perhaps animated to conceal the emaciated trafficked children—is all about how Nestlé “values” responsible sourcing, with nice phrases like “collaboration is key” (YouTube, Nestlé, “Responsible sourcing at Nestlé,” 08.03.2015). Nestlé’s more detailed supply chain disclosure, which is admirably easy to access, describes the vast majority of its cocoa—146,635 tons of it in 2018, more than three times the quantity sourced from all other sites combined—as sourced from Côte d’Ivoire (Nestlé, “Nestlé Cocoa Plan Supply Chain Disclosure,” 06.2019). The nation is also the site of the cocoa plantations investigated by the Washington Post. I spoke with a representative from Campus Dining Services, who said that the Nestlé hot chocolate mix is the only Nestlé product in use. That individual did not mention the Nescafé cappuccino mix, but I’m sure that was an honest omission. I have my doubts, given Nestlé’s massive share of the food products market and the (surely) high chocolate consumption in the Vassar community. It goes beyond chocolate, too. I know for certain that our vending machines stock Nestlé products, including Kit Kats, Hot Pockets and all those oh-so-craveable ice creams—yes, all of them. Oh, and Nestlé also has a distribution deal with Starbucks (BBC, “Nestle pays Starbucks $7.1bn to sell its coffee,” 05.07.2018). Not even your frappuccino is safe. We may like to think that living in the Vassar Bubble exonerates us from considering the sources of what we consume. After all, Bon Appétit purports to do that for us. But these assumptions allow practices by our food providers—Bon Appetit and Triple J Vending, at least—to go unchecked. We must hold Bon Appétit accountable to their own standards and fight the urge to fuel our cram-sessions with the products of blatant exploitation.
Conservatives aren’t right, but they aren’t dumb either Sawyer Bush
e Democrats have a habit of shooting ourselves in the foot. I recently worked on a group project in which we had to give a full-period presentation on affirmative action, an issue on which many people hold extremely strong opinions. One of my partners suggested that we have the class hold a debate with assigned sides: pro- and anti-affirmative action. My other partner spouted that a debate is a terrible idea because everyone in the class has the same opinion and there’s no real argument against affirmative action. I was stunned by this. Opposing affirmative action isn’t a far-right position: half of Republicans believe it’s harmful and even 16 percent of Democrats think the same (NPR, “How Americans Feel About Affirmative Action In Higher Education,” 11.01.2018). To ignore the fact that there are arguments about it, to stick our heads in the sand and pretend whatever it is we want has support because we really want to believe it does, is just plain folly. I consider myself to be quite progressive. Outside of Vassar I am almost always the most liberal person in the room. And yet, on this campus, I often find myself feeling belittled whenever I voice any sort of re-
spect toward or understanding of the conservative half of the country. I don’t agree with Republicans or conservative values, but I have fought to understand the reasoning behind these positions and why half of this country holds the positions it does. Even if we don’t agree with conservatives, we need to understand where their beliefs come from in order to best counter their points. Instead of saying that they’re dumb and we knew better, it’s more effective to address the root causes of their anxieties. For instance, if someone opposes liberal immigration policies it might not be that they are racist and hate foreigners, but instead that they believe that immigrants are dangerous. This can be countered factually, and we can show that immigrants are less dangerous than the general populace (Cato Institute, “Illegal Immigrants and Crime – Assessing the Evidence,” 03.04.2019). If we understand conservatives we can pushback in terms that they understand. Instead of saying that imprisoning children at the border is inhumane, we say that it betrays the founding ideals of the United States, and instead of saying affirmative action is “just right” we can can say that it gives people bootstraps by which to pull themselves up. Saying, “Well, Republicans are just dumb!” is not an argument. We only harm
ourselves and our causes by comments like this. Making broad generalizations about almost half of the country is reductive, and antithetical to any political success, at best. Their beliefs and ideas are not stupid. I disagree with them just as much as you do but the mere fact that I disagree with a set of beliefs does not mean that those beliefs are not worthy of consideration. When you attempt to invalidate right-wing beliefs by simply disregarding them, you harm your own stance’s validity. Do you understand the opposition to your own beliefs? Why do you believe what you say you believe? Is it because you’ve never been exposed to or never considered anything else? These are the questions I ask myself whenever I hear someone call anything that is not progressive “dumb.” If we want to successfully argue for our beliefs, we need to justify why what we believe is correct. We must show that we understand the other side. This country is so divided because everyone is so filled with anger—anger fueled by neither side listening to what the other has to say. I’m not saying that we need to listen because what they are saying might be right; I’m saying that we need to listen because we can only have a strong argument when we can understand
The Miscellany News is not responsible for the views presented within its Opinions pages.
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and therefore address and overcome the opposition. If we are going to win the 2020 elections, we need to be able to understand our opposition’s point of view. We must champion a common cause: the removal of Donald Trump and his followers from the White House. Vassar is a haven of progressivism. It attracts similarly minded liberal people, but that does not mean that we can sit back and bask in our own liberalism—to do so, and to target one another, is to accept our comfort and privilege in this safe haven away from the realities of conservative ruling power. We can’t simply accept the progressive views we hold as gospel without considering why someone might disagree. By welcoming the opposition, we will be able to return to our beliefs with stronger and more sound justification. I know that certainly some Vassar students come from conservative backgrounds, and they may think that they’ve had enough conservative values for their lifetime. But learning and connecting are ongoing processes, a muscle that requires constant exercise. So let’s stop shooting each other down simply because one of us wants to bring right-wing arguments into the conversation. Let’s stop shooting ourselves in the feet.
December 5, 2019
Ravens have analytics nerds to thank for their success Jonas Trostle
Courtesy of Office of the Maryland Governor via Wikimedia Commons
he New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers are a combined 20-4 through Week 12. They have combined for a +343 point differential (NFL, “Statistics,” 12.01.2019). In other words, they’ve averaged winning by two touchdowns per game. Both teams possess a top-10 defense, #6 and #10 respectively, by Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). Not just top-10 defenses this season, top-10 defenses of all time (Twitter, @[FO_ASchatz], 12.01.2019). All of this brings me to our Ravens. The Baltimore Ravens are responsible for half of the losses of the Patriots and 49ers. The only other two teams to beat the Patriots and 49ers were themselves steamrolled by Ravens by a combined score of 71-13. The Patriots and 49ers are historically good, but our Ravens are decimating the entire NFL. The “our” in our Ravens does not refer to the city of Baltimore, although the team certainly belongs to the people of its city, but instead to the NFL analytics community. No team uses analytics to increase its chance of winning quite like the Baltimore Ravens do. Let me explain how. For years, the bloody shirt of the NFL analytics community has been fourth-down decision making. NFL coaches, as a general rule, forfeit huge swaths of win probability every season by failing to try to convert manageable fourth-downs (Twitter, @ [bburkeESPN], 12.01.2019). Yes, just trying to convert on fourth-down would increase almost any team’s chance of winning a game. This has served as a harping point
for analysts ever since the analytics Godfather himself, Brian Burke, justified Bill Belichick’s decision to go for a fourth-and-2 in the waning moments of a game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 (The Ringer, “Go for It: The Story Behind the NFL’s Fourth-Down Conversion,” 11.13.2019). And the Ravens are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league when it comes to being aggressive on fourth-down. According to The New York Times’ fourth-down bot, which looks at the down, distance and years of data to recommend whether a team should (at least according to statistical models) go for it, the Ravens keep their offense on the field for fourthdowns 70 percent of the time that they should. The next best team? The Bills, at 55 percent, and the average is sub-50 (Twitter, @[benbbaldwin], 12.01.2019). Fourth-down is the lowest hanging fruit of the analytics tree, but apparently the Ravens are the only team reaching. Even beyond the raw percentages, Baltimore has built a team designed to take advantage of the free points that other teams are leaving on the field. Usually, the NFL analytics community frowns upon running the football; for the most part, it’s inefficient (The Miscellany News, “Running backs don’t matter,” 09.13.2019). But when you as a team have decided that you have a whole extra down, and you run as well as the Baltimore Ravens do, this inefficiency barely even matters. Baltimore, with its strong running game, mobile quarterback and use of pre-snap motion, has precisely what you would want if you were trying to convert a fourth-and-1 or fourth-and-2. Speaking of the Ravens’ mobile quarter-
Lamar Jackson has quarterbacked his Ravens to a 10-2 start. Opinions Editor Jonas Trostle argues their success is owed in part to a willingness to embrace analytics. back, Lamar Jackson is a generational talent being paid like a middling ball-hucker. ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating reveals just how good Lamar Jackson is. Not only does he lead the league with an average of 81.3 out of 100, in his first game this season he posted an absurd 99.4. This led the league until week nine, when he one-upped himself with an even more absurd 99.7. These numbers are bonkers. In week 11 he posted a 99.8. On a scale that goes to 100, he scored a 99.8 (ESPN, “NFL Total QBR - 2019 Season Leaders,” 12.01.2019). He’s doing all of this at 22 years old, which I’m relatively certain is younger than at least some of the student readership of this newspaper.
With an electrifying young quarterback on a rookie contract, aggressive fourthdown decision making and an offense built around converting those fourth-downs, the Ravens are dragging the NFL into the future. They might not win the Superbowl— in fact they probably won’t—but they are following the outline drawn by the data and providing the flesh and blood proof of concept for every other team in the league to follow (FiveThirtyEight, “2019 NFL Predictions,” 12.01.2019). Not all of those teams will have access to a generational talent like Lamar Jackson, but every team can use a strategy that allows them to maximize their wins and put up as many points as possible.
Kaepernick workout reveals NFL’s continued hypocrisy Doug Cobb
or decades, the NFL was seen as a unifying force in America. Different people with different backgrounds could root for their favorite team alongside each other. That narrative came crashing down in 2016, when someone decided to mix sports and politics. Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers at the time, decided he wanted to take a stand— by kneeling. As the national anthem began to play before a 2016 preseason game, Kaepernick took a knee instead of standing with his hand over his heart. Afterwards, he said in an interview, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color” (The Undefeated, “Colin Kaepernick Protests Anthem Over Treatment of Minorities” 08.27.2016). The protest provoked backlash and commentary from all corners of the league, as many people saw the protest as disrespectful to the military. Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, said any player who protested would be benched and the owner of the Houston Texans, Bob McNair, disturbingly compared the protests to “inmates running the prison” (Vox, “Two Years of NFL Protests Explained” 09.04.2018). The reference paints a pretty clear picture of how the NFL owners (all but two of whom are white) view the players (70 percent of whom are Black). Donald Trump also chimed in at a rally: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now’” (CBS, “Donald Trump: NFL Should Have Suspended Colin Kaepernick for Kneeling” 10.12.2017). To the owners,
players are disposable, and if any one of the “inmates” tries to shake things up, they must be silenced. Coming off a 2016 season in which he posted solid stats (16 TD, 4 INT), Kaepernick became a free agent by opting out of his contract after he was told the 49ers were going to release him (ESPN, “If Colin Kaepernick didn’t opt out 49ers would have released QB” 03.02.2017). He immediately looked to sign elsewhere, but three years later, remains unsigned. Kaepernick wasn’t even granted a tryout until Nov. 12 of this year, when the NFL puzzlingly announced a tryout for Colin Kaepernick (where he would throw passes and practice in front of NFL scouts), taking place five days later on a Saturday (Slate, “Is the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick Workout a Sham?” 11.12.2019). Normally, individual teams will invite a free agent player for a workout on a Tuesday, rather than the league itself inviting them on a Saturday (when all the teams are busy preparing for games the next day and most scouts are watching college games). The suspicious circumstances of this workout, along with the NFL’s desire to show that they did not, in fact, blackball Kaepernick, led many to suspect that the workout was a sham, just a PR stunt. This makes sense considering Kaepernick had only two options, neither of which were advantageous to him. One: He declined the workout and the NFL could say that they gave him a chance but he just doesn’t want to play. Two: He went to the workout and was not signed, regardless of how well he played (I believe that the NFL doesn’t want him to ever play again, and that this workout is just to get critics off their backs). However, Kaepernick agreed to attend, while his lawyers negotiated the
terms of the workout with the NFL during the week. But, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Kaepernick and his team raised concerns about the waiver he was being asked to sign. They worried that by signing he may be waiving his right to take the NFL to court for discrimination, and did not like that the NFL planned to film the workout with their own camera crew and forbid media access. Kaepernick wanted the workout to be as public as possible, with full media access and a livestream, to ensure that there was no funny business or selective editing on the workout tapes. The NFL would not oblige this request, so Kaepernick decided to hold his own workout instead. His workout took place not far from the NFLs, and he invited all teams to send scouts. He also allowed full media access and the event was live streamed, but far fewer scouts attended and as of the time I am writing this, he has not been signed by a team (USA Today, “Legalese, mistrust and late negotiating: How Colin Kaepernick and NFL broke apart on workout” 11.23.2019). The NFL never had any intention of giving Kaepernick a fair shot. He was in a lose-lose situation, unable to decline the workout without hurting his credibility and unable to attend the workout because of the unfair rules. I, and many others, believe that the NFL owners decided they were not going to sign Kaepernick, not because he wasn’t good enough, but because they didn’t like what he was protesting. While many people have tried to defend the NFL by saying “sports should be a break from politics,” I would argue that there are lots of people in this country who are not privileged enough to “take a break” from politics because it shapes every day of their lives. Politics and sports have always
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been mixed. Remember Jackie Robinson? Or Muhammad Ali? These men are universally loved by Americans now, but were almost universally hated back when they were pushing the envelope and fighting for change. People just choose to ignore this. The NFL owners are hypocritical when determining what kind of a person they want in their league. They will go on about not wanting to deal with controversies, but will sign players like Tyreek Hill, who was arrested for and pleaded guilty to strangling and punching his pregnant girlfriend, or Kareem Hunt, who was caught on tape assaulting a woman (For The Win, “The Chiefs cut Kareem Hunt, but what about Tyreek Hill?” 12.03.2018). Although Hunt was initially released by the Chiefs, as of writing this, both he and Hill are currently playing in the NFL. Step out of line and speak up just a little bit, and you will be thrown by the wayside with little or no penalty to the teams who don’t have to guarantee your contract. But if you assault people? As long as you are still useful to the owners, they will keep you around. They are using their platform to silence those who disagree with them. The NFL says that players should just stick to football. A more accurate statement would be that players who disagree with the owners should stick to football. The NFL is hypocritical and a barrier to social justice, but we, the fans, might be the real problem. We continue to support a league that suppresses the voices of its employees and refuses to condemn violent criminals. I am tired of it, so I am speaking out. Colin Kaepernick is being cheated and the 32 NFL owners are running a league that inhibits racial equality as well as other progressive sentiments.
December 5, 2019
Lucia Robinson-Griggs is ready for the chance of a career remarkably speedy recovery from a torn ACL that derailed her junior season. Peczuh, for her part, led the Liberty League in three-pointers made in 2018-19, with 81. Their squad runs deeper than the three seniors, though. Junior Ryan DeOrio brings experience, grit and scoring ability at the point guard position. She averaged nearly 10 points per game, shooting a clean 38 percent on three-pointers. Sophomores Dani Douglas and Sarah Gillooly were major contributors off the bench in 2018-19; the two were sixth and seventh in minutes per game, respectively, and Douglas was second on the team in three-pointers made, with 31. The Brewers may also have a fouryear stud in first-year Emily Tincher, who trails only Nick, Cenan, Peczuh and DeOrio in scoring, leads the Brewers in blocks and shoots a blistering 47 percent from three-point land. The Brewers’ greatest asset, however, is their work ethic. Walking into the AFC and finding it devoid of a single Brewer in the lab is an extreme rarity. Robinson-Griggs appreciates the fact that her players are gym rats, saying, “The dedication is always there. I don’t have to worry about them showing up to strength and conditioning, I just know. They’re not gonna cut corners.” When asked what made Vassar different from all the teams she’s coached, Robinson-Griggs said, “Between the want to win and the depth we have, it’s unique.” Robinson-Griggs is still figuring out what rotation works best for her Brewers, who are 3-2 after suffering close losses to New Paltz, who made the NCAA Sweet 16 last season and Williams, a tournament regular. Robinson-Griggs said that her priority early in the season is to smooth out the kinks of late-game execution, and ensure that all her players are confident in what they bring to the table. She offered, “A team is only as strong as its weakest link.” What’s next for Robinson-Griggs and the Brewers? Vassar opens Liberty League
play on Friday at home against RIT, a fellow NCAA tournament team last season. Their next game is against Ithaca, last season’s Liberty League champions and the only team to sweep Vassar in 2018-19. The Bombers have been tabbed to win the Liberty League again this year. Opening conference play against the top two teams from last season would be daunting for many programs. But not the Brewers. Where last season’s team rallied around the omnipresent WoHa (short for Work Hard) slogan, Robinson-Griggs said the team has an equally simple motto this season: “If you know, you know.” She said, “It’s a lot about taking care of us, and what we do. Each day it doesn’t matter what defense another team throws at us, what junk is thrown at us. If we know we’re doing the little things every day, we’ll be fine.” The lion’s share of the 2019-20 season has yet to be played. For Robinson-Griggs,
this year represents an enormous opportunity to start her Vassar career with a historically successful season. She has a lineup most coaches would kill for, and an assistant coach in Olivia Gaines, whose experience as a player (she helped lead Division I South Carolina to the Final Four in 2015) is simply unparalleled at the Division III level. All that’s left to do is win. As Robinson-Griggs navigates being the shot-caller in end-of-game situations, configuring effective lineups and scouting Vassar’s competition, she understands that expectations are high. Is she worried, or hedging her bets? The short answer is no. Robinson-Griggs has, in the words of the late Nipsey Hussle, All Money In. Her “whole squad” moved camp to be closer to her. That attitude is best captured by her immediate response to receiving the job at Vassar on remarkably short notice: “All right, I’m ready to go.”
Courtesy of vcwbb via Instagram
COACH continued from page 1 jors, just like she was at Bentley; players and coach spend bus rides together “geeking out” over their favorite classes. After the birth of her second son, Robinson-Griggs took an extra year of maternity leave to mull over her options. Getting home late after pulling double duty as a coach and teacher was taking time away from her family. Tired of sacrificing time with her kids in the name of being a human Swiss army knife, Robinson-Griggs decided to “go all-in on coaching.” Because Coach Signor-Brown left so late in the offseason, Robinson-Griggs wasn’t able to accept the offer until Labor Day weekend. The short notice wasn’t a problem, though; she said matter-of-factly, “I was essentially ready to go the next day.” The claim of being all-in is more than just talk for Robinson-Griggs; her entire family, even the dog, moved from Massachusetts to be closer to Vassar. What, then, has been her experience taking over an established team, loaded with talent and shocked to lose their longtime head coach? Robinson-Griggs put it simply: “It’s been pretty incredible.” She pointed out that the Brewers, whom she described as “very receptive to change,” know what winning demands and have eyes only for building on last season’s success. More specifically, they want to win the Liberty League and games in the NCAAs, Robinson-Griggs said. Their goals get even more meticulous, though. The Brewers aim to get as many as three “kills,” or three consecutive stops on defense, in a quarter against certain opponents. The Brewers are led by a trio of senior All-Liberty League selections: Sophie Nick, Jackie Cenan and Isa Peczuh. Nick, named to a host of all-regional All American teams, led the nation in free throw percentage and notched her 1,000th career point as a junior. Cenan, a versatile and hard-nosed scorer, is available after a
New women’s basketball head coach Lucia Robinson-Griggs’ impressive resumé includes recruiting director and assistant coach at MIT, accomplished player at Division II Bentley University and ninth grade algebra teacher.
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December 5, 2019
Women’s cross country notches first NCAA qualifier Alessandra Fable, Jackie Molloy
Guest Reporter, Assistant Sports Editor
Courtesy of Jermaine Bibb
t first, women’s cross country coach James McCowan wasn’t sure if the team’s fifth-place finish at the NCAA Atlantic Regionals was going to be enough: “I had some trepidation seeing the point gap from us to fourth, and from us to sixth … I worried the NCAA Committee might make the cut ahead of us,” he explained via email. But after results from the other regions came in, McCowan discovered that Vassar had beaten the sixth place Northeast Region team and the third place Mid-Atlantic team, making it nearly impossible for them not to make the cut for nationals. He even began booking the team’s flights to Louisville on the bus ride home. Still, until the official announcement came the following Sunday, the team couldn’t celebrate fully. As McCowan said, “When we finally got it, it was a definite feeling of relief and joy. The team got a group text from me the second the selections came out.” After a long and successful season, including finishing second in the Liberty Leagues and fifth at Atlantic Regionals, the team qualified for their first-ever NCAA Nationals Championships, which took place on Nov. 23. The team’s success continued as they finished 25th at the event after coming in with a No. 29 ranking, with sophomore Keara Ginell as their top runner at 50th. This past season will undoubtedly be marked by their statistical success, but the breakthrough of finally making Nationals is what will be forever ingrained in the memories of these runners and their coach. “You never have a crystal ball, but the objective was pretty clear. We
This season, the women’s cross country team competed at their first NCAA National Championships. The team prioritizes race-day success and everlasting community. have been looking to get a team to Nationals for years,” explained McCowan. “While the program has frequently qualified individuals for NCAAs, getting a team there in cross country has long been a goal that has just escaped us. We have been just one or two spots outside of qualifying multiple times, and last season was a heartbreaker as we were in a qualifying position up until the last 1K or less at the Regional meet.” Clearly for this team Nationals was not just a pipe dream but a realistic goal, yet the athletes still emphasized the team’s community even more. Ginell spoke on the importance of their team dynamic, explaining via email: “We wanted to build a positive team culture that each of us was proud, grateful and glad to be part of.” When asked for their favorite moments from this past season, both senior Meghan Cook and Ginell spoke, of course, of
“Het Tinder Boy Tropes”
qualifying, but the first memories that came to mind were their long Sunday runs together throughout the year. “The thought of waking up before the rest of campus with teammates to get in a quality run at [Mohonk Mountain] brings about such fond memories. The runs didn’t always feel great physically, but spending quality time with friends always lifted my spirits,” reminisced Cook in an email. This cohesion isn’t new for this particular team, but rather a common trait for the program. “The day before we left for Nationals I had the privilege of giving the women a care package from the classes of ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14 - the teams who first got us very close to qualifying for NCAA’s as a team,” recalled McCowan. “It was quite touching to see the connection between all these women who never even got to run together, to see the continuity in what we value from year to year.”
Next year, the team will look to build on this season’s foundations, and it helps that eight of their top nine runners are returning. Still, the team will definitely miss Cook, their team captain and only senior. McCowan raved, “We are graduating a real powerful figure in Meghan Cook - who was both our captain and one of our top performers all season. She was instrumental in striking the balance between being an empathetic peer and a demanding competitor that really set the tone for the team.” For Cook, the feeling is mutual: “I’ll miss everything about my team! They are so wonderful, caring, weird, and fun. I have found such a truly special group of people to call my teammates and friends. Each one of them inspires me in their own way, and I am incredibly proud of the way we have been able to genuinely come together to work towards our common goal.” For the team, the Nationals experience went beyond racing. It extended into a more personal realm, providing them with a well-rounded experience. Ginell again stressed the team’s closeness: “Being able to share this memorable experience with my teammates and coaches made it all the better.” The final leap of qualifying for Nationals made the team realize that it was never as unattainable as they once believed. “Along the way we realized qualifying and competing at Nationals was not some earth-shattering challenge looming before us, but rather an outcome that would emerge from commitment, passion and learning,” emphasized Ginell. Now that they have broken their Nationals curse…next stop, Top 15?
The Miscellany Crossword by Frank
1. Russia, formerly 5. a fake name 10. the traditional bounty of a Tinder Boy 14. taken in class 15. of symbols and glyphs 16. fancy preposition in golden rule 17. persuasive media 19. clap talk 20. to --- is human 21. in between mouse and mousest 22. a blue name 23. listed in bio to match workout pic 25. to exit hastily, often in panic 27. edition of a magazine 30. currency of Spain, formerly 33. poop! 36. nostalgic filter 38. “looking for someone to be the 38 across to my 42 across :P” 39. “you’re Albert” shorthand 40. bird that symbolizes stillness and tranquility 41. a shared joke format
Answer to last week’s puzzle
42. the office is his only personality trait, see clue 38 across 43. an interesting antique or knickknack 44. wee oo wee oo 45. a measurement on the inside of the leg 47. to make overjoyed 49. angelic instrument with 47 strings 50. red-head 54. mufasa’s estranged brother 56. water-soluble B vitamin 60. to be in debt to 61. elevator 62. tinder boy needs a girl to go on these with him 64. an official promise 65. big metal crash, onomotapoeia 66. only, feeble amount (adj) 67. pockets full of 68. kilts but with a Scottish accent 69. inconspicuous secret sound
31. domesticate 32. prayer finale 33. highest volcano in Japan 34. archaic name for Ireland 35. element of car that opens/ closes valves 37. swimming or billiards 40. day of Wednesday 41. person’s countenance or aura 43. tinder boys’ vroom vroom love 44. a person’s fixed period of work
1. removal of peg 2. apology word 3. period of inclement weather 4. a set of exercises 5. jargon or slang 6. Hawaiian party or feast 7. hotels or motels 8. politician’s assistant 9. device affixed to a neck fabric 10. frets or worries 11. manager of a hotel-like establishment 12. or should i go 13. antonym of despair 18. to gain large quantities of 24. basic unit of currency in Cambodia 26. itchy pet pests with a silent f 28. -name and password 29. strange or frightening
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
46. perception of dirt or soil 48. growing older, plural 51. excessive blood and guts, plural 52. jugs that transport bathing water 53. to undo or put back to default 54. pig food 55. Italian greeting/farewell 57. to be without motion or action 58. shape of presidential office 59. camping shelter 63. baseball referee