The Miscellany News Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
March 22, 2012
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CXLV | Issue 17
Poll: most participants against smoking ban Erik Lorenzsonn Senior Editor
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
t last Sunday’s Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council meeting, Vice President for Student Life Charlie Dobb ’12 announced the results of a poll that gauged student opinion on a proposed smoking ban. A majority of the student body opposed a ban, with approximately 65 percent responding negatively to the question “Should smoking be prohibited on Vassar College property?” Had the response been substantially more favorable, Dobb and the
Student Life Committee would have considered drafting a resolution in favor of a ban; the negative response, however, likely precludes a resolution. “I wouldn’t personally feel comfortable bringing something to the Council floor,” said Dobb. South Commons President and member of the Student Life Committee Matt Wheeler ’12 agreed with Dobb. “Our reaction is that we’re not going to push it, and we’re not going to reflect an opinion [students] don’t have,” said Wheeler. See SMOKING on page 4
A look into the price of a Vassar education VSA Council to vote on Tap That resolution to remove bottled water This Sunday, the Vassar Student Association Council will vote on a resolution proposed by Vassar Greens’ Tap That campaign to remove bottled water from Dining Services. The campaign hopes to raise awareness about the ill effects of bottled water.
econd only to Columbia University on U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 list of most expensive private schools, Vassar has undoubtedly acquired a reputation for being pricey. Although such lists do not consider the amount of financial aid individual students receive, they serve as an indicator of the amount of money required from each student to help keep these respective institutions going. Ultimately, the
process behind establishing the price of a Vassar education is done with an attempt to best meet the needs of the campus community. The process of establishing a comprehensive tuition fee begins the fall prior to the upcoming academic year. Armed with information on the health of the national economy as well as the expected costs of continuing the various programs and services offered by Vassar, the Board of Trustees reviews See TUITION on page 8
Joey Rearick News Editor
his Sunday, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council will vote on a resolution that would advocate the removal of bottled water in all campus facilities administered by Dining Services. Members of Tap That, a Vassar Greens campaign that aims to reduce the consumption of
bottled water and raise awareness of its harmful environmental effects, first brought the resolution before Council on Sunday, Feb. 26. The resolution, which has already garnered the endorsement of several campus organizations and the College Committee on Sustainability, will also go before the Committee on College Life (CCL) for a vote on March 28.
Tap That’s push to end the sale of bottled water on campus began in Fall 2010, when the Vassar Greens solicited their membership for suggestions for new initiatives. Eliza Gercke ’13 proposed a campaign to reduce the consumption of bottled water on campus, describing the unnecessary plastic waste resulting from the sale See WATER on page 4
Tallon brings Gothic to FLLAC
Adam Buchsbaum Arts Editor
he atrium of Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (FLAAC) no longer houses its familiar Greek vases, but has been transformed into a soaring Gothic church. Three new outlets—one temporary, two permanent—have been installed. Three projectors are now in place. The end of a Gothic church will be projected at the end of the atrium, another Gothic detail projected on the wall opposite it and a ribbed
Inside this issue
Compromise reached on FEATURES Senior Week
barrel vault projected onto the ceiling. This exhibition, entitled “Space, Time and Narrative: Mapping Gothic France,” will take place from March 23 to May 20 in the FLAAC—more specifically, the atrium, staircase and its landing. “We can’t obviously bring a full Gothic building into this space... so we have to break it into some constituent pieces that will evoke various pieces...and call this space into a new resonant role as the host of a series of Gothic images,”
Artists Zammiello, Humphrey to speak at Claflin lecture
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
Courtesy of Adam Buchsbaum
“Space, Time and Narrative: Mapping Gothic France,” which projects images of Gothic cathedrals, will open in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center on March 23.
Assistant Professor of Art and exhibition curator Andrew Tallon said. “And it does that quite well ... it doesn’t take much to tease us into believing that this might just be a Gothic space.” Coupled with the prominent projector displays, the exhibition will display a laser scan copy of the triforium of Chartes Cathedral on its right wall. Along the left wall as one ascends the staircase are images displaying the varying depictions of the façade of Amiens Cathedral over time. At the landing are various Vassar artifacts from the Magoon collection, and a book from Special Collections. Vassar acquired the Magoon collection in 1864, which includes many old depictions of Gothic works intended for students to study. By the display of Vassar artifacts is a television that allows its user to explore three Gothic buildings from many panoramic vantage points. Space, time and narrative each refer to three distinct ways to engage with Gothic architecture. Space refers to the projected images in the space. “You’re gonna feel like you’re in a cathedral because you’re gonna see a nave at that end of the wall,” Andrew W. Mellon Coordinator of Academic Programs Diane Butler said. “It’s not like an ordinary exhibition. You’re actually inhabiting the space.” Time refers to the history of Gothic architecture, and in turn See GOTHIC on page 15
Captain of the women’s basketball team Cydni Matsuoka ’14, pictured center, helped secure a victory over St. Lawrence University in the Liberty League Championship game on Feb. 25.
Women’s basketball wins Liberty League Corey Cohn
efending a championship is said to be one of the most difficult feats to accomplish in sports. The Vassar College women’s basketball team proved it was up to the challenge, winning the 2011-2012 Liberty League title after taking down No. 1 seed St. Lawrence University, 79-75, in the title game on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The conference championship matchup remained tight throughout the first two quarters, though the Brewers were able to carry a 39-35 lead into halftime. The back-and-forth play continued in the second half, with the Saints clinging to a 66-65 advantage with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter. Forward Kristyn Tempora ’12 then hit a three-pointer to give Vassar See BBALL on page 19
Men’s lacrosse expresses high hopes for season
The Miscellany News
March 22, 2012
Editor in Chief Aashim Usgaonkar Senior Editors
Katharine Austin Mary Huber Erik Lorenzsonn
Contributing Editors Katie Cornish Carrie Hojnicki Jillian Scharr Molly Turpin
This spring, the Environmental Studies Department offered Grasslands: Human History and Ecology of the American Plains, bringing students to Nebraska to explore a the American heartland over Spring Break. Visit blogs.miscellanynews.com/exposure for an expanded look.
Ask a Professor | Julie Hughes
News Joey Rearick Dave Rosenkranz Features Danielle Bukowski Ruth Bolster Opinions Hannah Blume Lane Kisonak Humor & Satire Alanna Okun Arts Adam Buchsbaum Sports Corey Cohn Andy Marmer Photography Juliana Halpert Madeline Zappala Online Alex Koren Nathan Tauger Social Media Matt Ortilé Assistant News Assistant Features Assistant Opinions Assistant Arts Assistant Photo Assistant Copy Crossword Editor Columnists
Leighton Suen Jessica Tarantine Gabe Dunsmith Jack Owen Matthew Hauptman Carlos Hernandez Melissa Johnson Jonathan Garfinkel Sarah Begley Jean-Luc Bouchard Brittany Hunt Michael Mestitz Tom Renjilian Sam Scarritt-Selman Andy Sussman Emma Daniels Bethan Johnson Bobbie Lucas Burcu Noyan Rachel Garbade Katie De Heras Emily Lavieri-Scull Alex Schlesinger Jiajing Sun
ain Circle presents discipline-fusing Assistant Professor of History Julie Hughes in this week’s installment of Ask a Professor. Hughes traces the British empire’s understanding of their environment from its first encounter with a pineapple to ostrich ranching in Australia to the colonization of the Indian subcontinent. A parallel transition appears, from scientific curiosity to commercial obsession. All the while, she draws connections between scientific understanding, power, colonialism and racism. She takes a detour to discuss the title for the book she will publish with Harvard University Press—Animal Kingdoms: Hunting, Environment, and Power in Indian Princely States (a title, Hughes points out, she didn’t get to pick)—and her empathy for Vassar seniors slaving away on their theses. The book focuses on Indian princes’ hunting reserves, an important space for interaction with colonizers, other elites, nobles from their states. Hughes explores, among other topics, how the princes identified themselves, tested political hierarchies and measured the role of the environment in their social and political lives—and the varying quality of wild pigs in Indian princely states. As Hughes said, “You get to have fun in history.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
The Miscellany News is Vassar College’s weekly open forum for discussion of campus, local and national issues, and welcomes letters and opinions submissions from all readers. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 450 words, and they usually respond to a particular item or debate from the previous week’s issue. Opinions articles are longer pieces, up to 800 words, and take the form of a longer column. No letter or opinions article may be printed anonymously. If you are interested in contributing, e-mail email@example.com.
The Editorial Board holds weekly meetings every Sunday at 9 p.m. in the Rose Parlor. All members of the Vassar community interested in joining the newspaper’s staff or in a critique of the current issue are welcome. The Miscellany News is not responsible for the views presented in the Opinions pages. The weekly staff editorial is the only article which reflects the opinion of the Editorial Board. The Miscellany News is published weekly by the students of Vassar College. The Miscellany News office is located in College Center Room 303, Vassar College.
March 22, 2012
Students protest for education equality
Poughkeepsie seeks to renovate train station
Assistant News Editor
Courtesy of Clara Howell and Rachel Gorman
n Thursday, March 1, Vassar students took part in the National Day of Action for Education, standing in solidarity with Dutchess Community College and other institutions across the country. At 11:30 a.m., between 70 and 100 students left their regularly scheduled classes and congregated on the Residential Quad in order to rally against tuition hikes, student debt, dim job prospects and educational quality in the United States. The main focus of the event was to declare that education is a human right and not a privilege, and to call attention to systemic inequality in both K-12 schooling and higher education. “Field work and other interactions at Poughkeepsie High School among other schools in New York has shown me what our education classes are saying: the education system is broken, and has been broken,” wrote Katia Chapman ’12, who participated in the rally, in an emailed statement. “It is still recognized as the primary institution for social mobility, but it privileges some over others. Why does Poughkeepsie High School have a 56 percent graduation rate?” Organizers of the event are pleased with the turnout, but are aware of aspects that could have been improved. “March 1 offered a very concrete way for students to have their issues addressed in a collective and public way,” wrote Vassar Young Democratic Socialists member Spencer Resnick ’15. “Students broke with their regular academic routines by creating a space of learning outside the classroom … However, the majority of Vassar students did not turn out, and the administration refused to make itself a positive member of the process. In this sense, Vassar activists tested the limits of the ‘Vassar community.’” When Resnick and Alexandra Deane ’15 presented the day’s plans at the Feb. 26 meeting of the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council, a few members were initially hesitant about endorsing skipping classes. However, after the two Grassroots Alliance for Alternative Politics members explained that the “walkout is a sign of the fact that these inequalities are bigger than a day of classes,” members of the VSA Council agreed to email information about the protest to their constituents. Despite snow and temperature in the 30s, Democracy Matters President Tim McCormick ’12 said there were no major problems on the day of the protest. “We were not shut down by security, but a much higher security presence was definitely felt. It makes
After a march around campus and the College Center, participants in the March 1 rally as part of the National Day of Action for Education relocated to Hulme Park, pictured above, to continue the protest. students feel intimidated when [security] is checking the area, but it wasn’t a huge problem.” He then repeated Resnick’s complaint about the administration. “The Vassar administration was cautiously supporting of the rally. They were aware of the event and allowed it to happen. [However, they] definitely had the opportunity to support the event quite strongly, and they did not pick it up.” McCormick revealed that Dean of the College Chris Roellke and President of the College Catharine Bond Hill were invited, but declined due to previous engagements. Despite what student activists saw as the administration’s lackluster support, several economics, political science and history professors gave presentations at the event. “I was motivated to participate because I believe that this society is abandoning its once principled commitment to education as a means for working-class students, especially the children of immigrants, to have a shot at a better life,” wrote Professor of Political Science Sidney Plotkin in an emailed statement. “As a child of immigrants myself, who experienced the joys of that opportunity through a free tuition education at Brooklyn College, I feel a strong obligation to add my voice to the larger sense of out-
rage at the steady drumbeat of budget cuts in public programs, especially education at all levels. We can’t stand by and let this happen without raising our voices.” Director of International Studies Timothy Koechlin, who spoke at the rally, echoed Plotkin’s sentiments. “We live in a society that is increasingly unequal, and where upward mobility is increasingly difficult. If we want a society that is characterized by fairness, opportunity, community and economic growth, we have to invest in education. We have to provide a solid education to every child, and we have to make sure that higher education is affordable.” At 12:45 p.m., students and faculty marched around campus and the College Center with signs and banners. Afterwards, the assembly split into smaller groups in order to discuss and reflect on the cause. At 2:45 p.m., the remaining students drove to Hulme Park in order to join forces with Dutchess Community College students and continue the protest. “March 1 demonstrated that there is a spirit of solidarity on Vassar’s campus,” concluded Resnick. “It may not be universal, but with better weather and further organizing, I think we can look forward to an exciting spring.”
Plans to significantly renovate the City of Poughkeepsie train station are moving forward at Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) MetroNorth Railroad offices. According to a memorandum released by Metro-North and titled “Metro-North and the City of Poughkeepsie Look Forward to Planning Transit-Oriented Development at the Train Station” (TOD Memorandum), the city hopes that this initiative will “develop easier and better access to the trains and the riverfront, add recreational opportunities [and] help create business and economic engines.” Although the construction project is still in its planning stages, the City of Poughkeepsie has some ambitious ideas. According to the TOD Memorandum, city officials hope to include space for retail and restaurant businesses in the train station’s interior. Metro-North Press Secretary Majorie Anders added that the exterior might also be redesigned to increase pedestrian traffic and decrease vehicle traffic. “Between the station, the garage and the surface lot, plus what the city owns, there is a fair amount of real estate to work with,” explained Anders in an emailed statement. Discussion effectively began in May 2010 after an agreement was signed between the President of the MTA Metro-North Railroad Howard Permut and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik to consider redeveloping the land in and around the train station. Since then, a variety of Poughkeepsie residents, business owners and local government officials have been meeting semi-regularly to share their interests and ideas related to the construction project. “Over the years, we’ve had a successful partnership with the City with one goal in mind: to improve the lives, livelihood, economics and rail access for the people of Poughkeepsie,” said Permut in the TOD Memorandum. In early 2010, the New York State Department of State issued a $45,000 grant for the City of Poughkeepsie to conduct market research and economic analysis with regards to the land to the immediate east and west of the train station. The grant was awarded as part of the Smart Growth Grant Program for the lower Hudson Valley region. Later in the year, the City of Poughkeepsie also received $95,000 from the United States Department of Transportation for the purpose of creating a transit-oriented development conceptual plan for the area around the Metro-North station. This part of the construction project is still ongoing. This process has been in the works for over two years, but, according to city officials, it is by no means moving slowly. As Anders explained, “Planning studies take time, environmental studies take time, designs take time, approvals take time, fund raising takes time and so does consensus building.” She added that, in her experience, many people believe these processes move too fast. When construction does begin, Metro-North officials hope that it will have little to no impact on service. —Dave Rosenkranz, News Editor Deaton to deliver Crego lecture
Princeton University Economics and International Affairs Professor Angus Deaton is coming to Vassar College to present a lecture entitled “The Pursuit of Happiness.” The presentation will serve as this year’s Martin H. Crego lecture, a label applied to the most distinguished Economics Department lectures. Born in 1945 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Deaton began his career at Cambridge University, where he earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D in economics. After graduation, he found considerable success in academia, particularly in the fields of microeconomics (the study of how individuals or firms make economic decisions) and econometrics (the application of mathematics and statistics to economic data). His published work includes essays in Health Affairs and The Journal of Economics, and he has received several awards including the inaugural Frisch Medal from the Econometric Society. The Frisch Medal is given to the author of a particularly excellent article published in Econometrica, a peer-reviewed economic journal. In addition to his published work, Deaton has also taught economics at the University of Bristol and currently teaches at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “My current research focuses on the determinants of health in rich and poor countries, as well as on the measurement of poverty in India and around the world,” wrote Deaton on his Princeton University online profile. The lecture will be held on Thursday, April 5. —D.R.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
March 22, 2012
Challah for Hunger granted org certification by VSA Bethan Johnson Reporter
Courtesy of Challah for Hunger
n Feb. 26 the Vassar Student Association (VSA) unanimously voted to certify Challah for Hunger as a student organization. This certification completes a yearlong application process for the group, which was founded in 2008 under the VSA-approved Vassar Jewish Union (VJU). The group, a chapter of the national Challah For Hunger organization, raises money for various charities by baking and selling challah in the College Center every Thursday. Because the chapter has been recognized by the national organization, the two share financial and ideological ties. According to Challah For Hunger President Julia McGill ’13, “Half of profits are donated to American Jewish World Service, which fights hunger, disease and poverty in the developing world, and the other half stays in Poughkeepsie, going to [local nonprofit] Dutchess Outreach.” Members of Challah For Hunger decided to seek organization status to alleviate some of the stress caused by operating without certification on a daily basis. One of the most important motivations to change was financial; board members saw that the lack of official recognition repeatedly cost them potential customers, because uncertified organizations don’t have access to a wide array of resources provided by the Student Actvities Resource Center. “Now that we are [a VSA organization] we can get a VCash machine,” explained board member Emily Blustein ’14. “It was really frustrating because we used to have to take only cash and a lot of people don’t carry cash around with them.” The organization also found that not being certified decreased the amount of money they could donate to charitable organizations; prior to certification, all of the baking and tabling supplies the club used had to be deducted from the profits they make in weekly sales. “And now that
we are an organization, we get some funding,” noted Blustein, “all of the money that we make can go to donations, and we don’t have to take any money out of what we make to get supplies.” Scheduling was another factor in deciding to apply for certification. Because of their relationship, Challah For Hunger needed to coordinate all its logistical planning through the VJU. Although this did not prevent Challah For Hunger from selling challah to students, it did present unnecessary obstacles for the club. “We had to operate under the VJU, meaning every time we wanted to table or do events, we had to go through the VJU, which was really annoying,” said Blustein. The organization also sought independence because it wanted to distinguish itself as a secular group. Prior to its certification, Challah For Hunger members felt that religious associations may have kept some students from joining their primarily philanthropic cause. According to its mission statement, the Vassar Jewish Union professes concerns of strengthening “the bonds between the Jewish religion and its cultures” and serving “as a political voice of Judaism in the Vassar community.” This conflicted with Challah’s articulated goal of being a secular campus organization. Members also felt that this disparity between the VJU’s objectives and Challah For Hunger’s ambitions will give the organization space to advocate for the issues it feels most strongly about. Internal discussions among the group’s members have revealed a substantial desire to look more deeply into the local community’s issues, and take a more active role in both helping to draw attention to the problems and assuaging them. McGill believes that its newfound advocacy capabilities will “give [Challah For Hunger] a greater breadth of possibility for future collaborations with other VSA organizations.” Clubs looking to be certified must under-
Members of Challah for Hunger pose with their signature product. The group, which only recently received organization certification by the Vassar Student Association, sells challah every Thursday. go a rigorous 9-step process supervised by the Activities Committee. The main purpose of the inquiries is to understand the goals of the organization in question. According to the Organization Certification Packet each potential organization receives, the Activities Committee must “encourage the creation of student groups that add to extracurricular life at Vassar.” Potential organization members must also prove—through interviews, petitions, and written documents— that the group represents a fresh voice on campus that also elevates the community experience by uniting its members behind a common goal. Organizations are required to elect leadership and hold regular meetings. The VSA Council asked Challah For Hunger if its leadership was strong enough to
guarantee some degree of longevity. The group argued that it was sustainable because its leadership comprises members from every class. Challah also asserted that it could, in the future, connect with numerous organizations to serve the Dutchess County community, and that its mission was inclusive to all interested students. Despite the changes, member of the organization feel that gaining official recognition won’t dramatically alter the group. As Blustein mentioned, most of the reasons for applying for certification arose to simplify the process Challah For Hunger has been using for years. They hope these modifications will allow the group to see increased revenue and consider additional advocacy issues.
Enacting water resolution Sixty-five percent of students will rely on student support polled say no to smoking ban WATER continued from page 1 of bottled water in dining facilities and the merits of tap water. The proposal came at an opportune time for the group, because the Greens’ leadership had recently purchased a large order of water bottles with surplus money from the previous year. “That wasn’t anticipating Tap That at all,” said Gercke, “but it worked out really well.” The campaign began tabling in the College Center, voicing its cause and selling the water bottles at subsidized rates to discourage the college community from purchasing bottled water. Soon Tap That began considering an effort to end the sale of bottled water in dining facilities entirely. “Last year we spoke with the VSA about what steps needed to be gone though,” said Allison Crook ’14, one of Tap That’s coordinators. The process proved more difficult than the group initially foresaw; student initiatives relating to Dining Services were largely unprecedented, aside from Kick Coke, an ill-fated 2009 campaign to eliminate Coca-Cola products from campus facilities. “It’s really tricky, because with Dining Services, no one knows how it’s supposed to be done,” Crook said. The Tap That campaign decided to gather diverse support for a resolution, first targeting individual students and student organizations before recently appealing to the VSA and CCL. If the resolution gains the support of those bodies this month, it will then be submitted for the approval of Dean of the College Chris Roellke and President of the College Catharine Bond Hill. The Greens hope that Hill, in response to widespread support, will exercise her power to implement the change. If Dining Services does remove water bottles, they would still be available in the bookstore and vending machines. In February, Crook, along with her co-coordinator Cailin Krown ’13, presented the resolution to the VSA Council in conjunction with a PowerPoint presentation that illustrated the campaign’s motivations. The presentation included facts about the environmental consequences of
bottled water consumption and peer institutions that have adopted similar policies. Also, Crook and Krown said, Dining Services representatives have been receptive to Tap That’s initiatives, but feel change must originate with student support. “They are more than willing to implement the decision should it come from the appropriate sources,” the presentation read. Though the Council offered positive reactions to the resolution and presentation, many representatives voiced concern that they could not vote on the resolution without soliciting the opinion of their constituents. The Council eventually voted to delay the vote on the resolution in order to gauge student support before making a final decision. Class of 2012 President Pam Vogel ’12 emailed a poll to her constituents to measure support for the resolution. At press time, 86 students had responded to the poll, with 70 in favor of the resolution. “I feel certain that this resolution will pass, as long as there is both majority support from the student body and a willingness from Council members to take a stand with their votes,” Vogel wrote in an emailed statement. “I have also received more emails expressing support for this resolution than on any other single issue in the last two years.” According to members of Tap That, opposition to the resolution has been limited and, in many respects, misguided. Some have suggested the initiative infringes upon students’ right to choose which products they consume, and likened it to recent discussions of a smoking ban on campus. “People are arguing that they’re having a right to consume a product taken away,” said Greens member Adam Brunell ’13. We’re not taking away any product. The Aquafina in the Retreat is filtered tap water, which is still available in water fountains.” Crook echoed his sentiments. “This is not a ban—a ban would be no bottled water on campus,” she said. “They’re talking about banning cigarettes, but we already don’t sell cigarettes. It’s the same thing.”
SMOKING continued from page 1 The impetus for the poll, which was conducted the week before Spring Break, was in part a recently instituted smoking ban at Barnard College. The peer institution passed its prohibition after a student government poll revealed that 72 percent of students were in favor of one. The VSA poll results, even if they will not effect a resolution, nevertheless add to the ongoing discussion about smoking on campus. Data from the Office of Health Education shows that a very small portion of the campus regularly smokes, prompting the question: Why would non-smokers disapprove of a ban? Dobb suspects that multiple factors influenced the student response. “One of the major ones, and we see this again and again—the keg ban from last year is the first thing that comes to mind—is that prohibitions are just unpopular,” recalled Dobb. The reasons for a fundamental aversion to prohibitions are manifold. Dobb mentioned a “slippery slope” argument—which posits that if one commodity is banned, it opens the possibility for an inundation of prohibitions—as well as the sense that a ban is inherently an unfair imposition. Wheeler agreed that a fundamental aversion to bans is prevalent; while smokers are in the minority, he argues, a belief in larger ideals can transcend personal habits. “I’m not really surprised [by the results],” said Wheeler. “Not based on the number of smokers we have, but based on the dialogue over rights on campus that we have.” Dobb also put forth the explanation, based on conversations he had with other students, that there was a concern about the transition for heavier smokers. “There were those who felt that Vassar should be smoke-free,” said Dobb, “but who were sensitive to the fact that smoking is an addiction, and that going smokefree overnight would not be a reasonable or fair solution.” He also emphasized that the poll
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ultimately does not reflect approval or comfort with smoking—simply a disapproval of outright prohibition, saying, “If we had asked the question, ‘Do you like being around cigarette smoke?’ then the answers would be very different.” While the poll results likely preclude any notion of a VSA resolution in the near future, there is still a possibility that deliberation within the Committee on College Life (CCL) will result in policy change. Serious consideration of a ban within the Committee, however, is not imminent. First, the Committee will likely address the smoking issue on other fronts. “I suspect that, if not this year then next year, CCL will start to make some progress towards designating smoking areas on campus,” said Dobb. This tack would somewhat align with the three-part strategy recommended by the Drug and Alcohol Education Committee (DEC) to the CCL last year to phase out smoking on campus. Although the CCL has not followed the recommendation’s timeline, they are still embracing its philosophy by approaching change in a piecemeal way, without resorting to an immediate and outright prohibition. “You can avoid a smoking ban, but still minimize the smoking that does affect non-smokers on campus,” said Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Carter, who chairs the DEC. Examples Carter mentioned included constructing smoking gazebos, and enforcing smoking policy in highly traversed areas such as the entrance to Main Building and the main entrance to the College Center. If and when the CCL seriously considers a ban, there will be other hurdles for them to consider beyond student support. “I personally think that when things do go through CCL, there does need to be some way to gauge staff opinion too,” said Wheeler. “I think that in terms of the right to smoke on college grounds, that affects staff as much as it does affect students.”
March 22, 2012
ResLife, Class of 2012 reach compromise on Senior Week Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin
n late February, the Office of Residential Life, with support from the Dean of the College Chris Roellke and the Dean of Students Office, announced that a new restriction will be placed on the number of seniors allowed to sign underclassmen in for Senior Week. The new restriction will change the way many students view and participate in Senior Week, and response from underclassmen has been mixed. Those underclassmen staying to orchestrate Senior Week activities or Commencement will still be allowed to stay for the week. This includes Daisy Chain and the African Violets, as well as student organizations hosting an event. Additionally, 25 percent of the senior class will be allowed to sign in one underclassman guest for the week. Approximately three underclassmen per registered organization’s event will be approved to stay as well. The decision, above all other reasons, was made to ensure that the Office of Residential Life could effectively transition from the end of the spring semester to the summer break. The official procedure will be announced by the Office of Residential Life in April. Over the past seven years that Luis Inoa has worked as the Director of Residential Life, the Office of Residential Life has seen an increase both in the number of underclassmen being signed in for the week and the number of underclassmen allowed to stay for Senior Week due to their involvement in Senior Week activities. In turn, this meant that members of campus student staff such as Emergency Medical Services, Campus Patrol and the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council-elect were also required to stay on campus longer to deal with the larger student population. As a result the Office of Residential Life
could not logistically support all of the students staying after finals. In an emailed statement, Inoa wrote, “[the high volume of students staying on campus] impeded the transition into graduation housing for parents, to reunion housing, to summer housing for student workers.” Housing seemed to be the main issue leading to the restriction, as even though only a third of the seniors typically signed in underclassmen, it made the transition to summer housing less smooth. This restriction on underclassmen attending Senior Week is something the Office of Residential Life has been contemplating for many years, but has not acted upon until now. The original idea was to completely eliminate the ability of seniors to sign in underclassmen for Senior Week; this invariably produced a great deal of initial backlash from the student body of all classes. Many students on campus feel that underclassmen staying for Senior Week has become something of a Vassar tradition. By eliminating housing for underclassmen during Senior Week, it would give an advantage to those students who live close enough to campus to come to graduation. Concluding the discussion, the Senior Class Executive Board—Pamela Vogel ’12, Madeline Zappala ’12, Julia Nethero ’12 and Gabriel KellyRamirez ’12—met with Luis Inoa and Executive Director of Campus Activities Terry Quinn to reach a compromise. [Disclosure: Zappala is Photography Editor for The Miscellany News] Due to the fact that historically only about one-third of seniors have signed in underclassmen for Senior Week, they believed that this new policy of only allowing 25 percent of seniors to sign in underclassmenwould not be too restricting. As a result of this meeting, The Vassar Students Association (VSA) released a statement
in regards to the Senior Week changes. “Senior class members will have an opportunity to sign in one underclassman guest per person. The process for sign-in is currently being developed, but will be on a first come, first serve basis and will be capped at 25 percent of the senior class (roughly 162 people),” the VSA statement read. Although it is not a great change from how many seniors typically signed in underclassmen, many students were still disatisfied that limits were placed on the numbers at all. Two juniors, Jill Levine ’13 and Patricia Walton ’13, expressed their disappointment that they might not be able to see their peers graduate. “As juniors, we have been with this senior class for three years now. I live with three seniors and some of my best friends will be graduating. I will be heartbroken if I cannot see them graduate,” Levine wrote in an emailed statement. Walton also recognized the presence of underclassmen at Senior Week as a “Vassar tradition.” She wrote in an emailed statement, “I have had classes, been on teams and become really close with a lot of seniors, and I want to see them graduate. It’s good closure, in the same way that as juniors we ring the bell to transition to being seniors.” “From the prospective of Senior Class Council,” wrote Zappala in an emailed statement, “We are looking at how to limit the group of students completely necessary for orchestrating Senior Week events.” Furthermore, the number of underclassmen who participate in Senior Week activities that are not affiliated with the Daisy Chain or the African Violets is small. During Senior Week, underclassmen are often allowed to join in the events that haven’t been filled by seniors. Those that involve drinking though, such as the winery brunch and booze cruise, are off-limits to underclass-
men. However, many underclassmen see this time as a chance to say goodbye to their senior friends before graduation. Kate Rainey ’13, who stayed for Senior Week last year, wrote in an emailed statement, “The only senior activity I did was go to the bonfire. I usually just hung out and chilled during the day.” She continued, “However, I do know a lot of seniors graduating this year and I wish I was able to stay again so that I could share those last good times with them.” Recognizing the limited involvement that underclassmen often have in the actual Senior Week events, some feel that it is unnecessary for underclassmen to stay during Senior Week. Simone Levine ’13 stated in an emailed statement, “‘Why would I want to stick around for a week when I could be recovering after finals at home? We’ll get our chance to do Senior Week our senior year!” Even within the senior class there have been divided reactions. Alyssa Bell ’12 wrote in an emailed statement, “We are also a school founded on tradition, and while I’m sure there are a great deal of issues that prompted this decision, we are losing a lot of what we’ve always valued. Our senior class will also be losing a great tradition.” In addition, Assefash Makonnen ’12 wrote in an emailed statement, “I do understand the reasoning behind the decision, however, having our underclassmen friends on campus is definitely part of the Senior Week experience, especially Commencement day.” Of course, a fourth of the seniors will still be able to have one underclassman friend stay for Senior Week, and any student in the area may attend the graduation ceremony itself. The reasoning behind the restriction, as Zappala stated: “Ultimately its about safety and liability.”
Groch-Begley uncovers unique female role in WWI Lea Brown
Courtesy of Hannah Groch-Begley
lthought the contributions of female ambulance drivers in the Great War have been oft overlooked by historians, they are the focal point of history major Hannah Groch-Begley’s ’12 senior thesis. As a culmination of her four years at Vassar, the research has given her a chance to explore her future field of study while giving a voice to an underrepresented part of history. Groch-Begley is writing specifically about British, female ambulance drivers who were stationed in Belgium and France. “I’m writing about them because they have been largely forgotten by historians of the First World War, and so I’m examining why that is and how that took place,” she said. “I’m looking at what these women did on a day-to-day basis, what they experienced. A lot of historians will say things like no women were in the trenches, or at the front. A lot of what I’m arguing is that they were in fact, and we have tons of evidence to prove that.” Groch-Begley first became interested in the World War I era after taking a seminar called The First World War with Associate Professor of History Lydia Murdoch in the fall of her junior year. “I really adored that seminar,” said GrochBegley. “It’s just a moment in history that seemed so interesting to me and so exciting.” The class influenced her to focus her thesis on the World War I era. After determining that she wanted to write about the First World War, she then had to decide exactly which aspect of the era she wanted to focus her thesis on. Groch-Begley found inspiration from a rare novel. “I had read a book called [Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith] which is about female ambulance drivers stationed in France,” she said. “It’s written in response to a famous book called All Quiet on the Western Front [by Erich Maria Remarque], which is a great book, but depicts the war as a very masculine enterprise. Not So Quiet provides a differ-
Drivers of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, pictured above, pose in their fur coats. Hannah GrochBegley ’12, is writing her senior thesis about women who worked in the trenches during World War I. ent perspective, and I thought it was really interesting, and I thought it was interesting that it was the only book on female ambulance drivers that I could find.” With her topic settled, Groch-Begley dove into research. She applied for the Evalyn Clark Memorial Travel Fellowship, which is sponsored by the History Department and allocates funds for sophomore and juniors to travel to do research over the summer. As part of the application process, GrochBegley had to submit a short description of her proposed project and a detailed budget to the History Department chair. The detailed budget should include projected costs for photocopying, travel and any other expenses that one might incur during their research. The Fellowship paid for Groch-Begley to travel to London this past summer, where she spent hours in the London Imperial War Museum examining the personal papers of 12 female ambulance
drivers stationed in France and Belgium. “I found letters, diaries, postcards, photo albums, newspaper clippings, poems and drafts of memoirs that were never published,” she said. All of these first-person accounts proved invaluable to her research. “Most of what I found there has made its way into my thesis in one way or another, which is incredibly lucky.” “These women really were in the trenches, and they really were experiencing the same level of danger as the soldiers, and the same level of hardship,” she said. “I was reading these diaries where the women were saying, ‘Well, I went into the trenches today and I was almost killed,’ and ‘The Germans tried to shoot my ambulance but they didn’t.’ That was exciting to me not only because it was proving my point, but it’s something that historians have largely forgotten, that women were really in the thick of it.”
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When not conducting research, Groch-Begley spent her evenings exploring the city of London, and visited sites such as the Cenotaph and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, two of the most important World War I memorials in England. Her wanderings had the unexpected effect of inspiring more material for her thesis. “After visiting those memorials, I decided to include a chapter in my thesis on women’s role in the memory of the war and the official Remembrance Day ceremonies,” she said. In addition to being invaluable for her thesis, Groch-Begley’s research also proved personally rewarding. “One of the things that have been really fun for me about writing my thesis was that I realized that this is want I want to do with my life,” she said. “Going into the archives to do research and writing my thesis has been so exciting and so rewarding for me.” Groch-Begley plans on taking a year off after college, but is “ambivalent” about going to grad school. “I’m hopeful that at least some of the things that I’m writing about could potentially be turned into articles or a dissertation later down the line,” she added. She also credits her thesis adviser, Murdoch, in helping both with her research and with her writing process. “Lydia has been amazing, she’s wonderful,” she said. “She’s been a great resource for me in terms of suggesting resources and bouncing ideas off of. There were some confusing aspects to the war … She’s just been really helpful in helping me work through those issues, and keeping me on track and keeping me productive.” In all, Groch-Begley has found the experience of researching and writing a thesis to be very rewarding. “At least for me, as a history major, I realize how everything I’ve done up until now has been training me to be able to accomplish [writing my thesis] so I definitely feel like it’s a wonderful way to end my Vassar experience, and help me transition into the future,” she said.
March 22, 2012
Shortz inspires crosswords of Vassar’s puzzle master Danielle Bukowski Features Editor
Madeline Zappala/The Miscellany News
he Thursday morning release of each week’s Miscellany News is especially important for students who regularly complete the crossword puzzle printed in Opinions: The answers to last week’s puzzle are revealed, and the new puzzle is published. Eating breakfast at the Retreat on Thursdays, one will see students staring at the blackand-white grid more intensely than the final pages of reading they’ve neglected, pens in hand. The man behind the popular puzzle is Jonathan Garfinkel ’12, a self-proclaimed fan of word games in general, who began printing his puzzles in Vassar’s paper his sophomore year. Garfinkel’s career began in high school, when he started filling out and creating crossword puzzles. “My high school had the New York Times crossword printed in the library, and I did that pretty much every day. They get harder as the week goes on, and I almost always got through Thursday’s, and could usually do Friday, depending on how frequently I do them.” Garfinkel admited he is a bit of a snob about his crossword puzzles, and believes that any puzzles other than Will Shortz’ daily creations are too easy. He noted that the puzzles become easier to solve when one does them regularly. Once he caught the crossword puzzle bug, he tried his hand at creating his own. Garfinkel creates his puzzle in accordance to certain rules of the New York Times puzzle. The 17 x 17 square grid that must look the same right-side up as it does upside down is one rule he follows. “I used to [create the puzzle] just on paper but now I start with a blank grid and sort of randomly put in black squares for general layout, and from there fill in the words,” Garfinkel said. He originally printed grids from the Internet to fill out by hand, but now begins with an Excel spreadsheet.
Jonathan Garfinkel ’12, pictured above, works on a crossword puzzle. The Crossword Editor for The Miscellany News and avid word-game fan, Garfinkel enjoys solving and creating his own crosswords. “Once that’s all complete, I’ll go through and write all the clues. It’s simple theoretically,” he laughed, admitting that clues are the fun part, but that filling in the grid can get tricky. Creating the entire puzzle takes him anywhere from three to six hours. Thinking of the exact word that the puzzle creator has in mind for an answer, based on a short clue and the constraints of the grid, can stump even crossword regulars. Garfinkel begins with the answers and then develops the clues, noting that the answers are often just the first words to pop into his head. “There are certain words that you can use in a pinch,” Garfinkel said, pointing out that some words are used in all variations of crossword puzzles rather often because they fit in with many constraints. “Alta” is one such word,
because it is two consonants bookended by two a’s. (It is also a place to ski in Utah.) In designing the puzzle, “you start to think a couple moves ahead as far as which words will work down and across and still enable you to fill it in. Pretty frequently I’d get myself into a corner and have to erase it all and start a section again,” Garfinkel said. No section of the puzzle can be totally isolated from any other—there must be at least one word from another area breaking in—but Garfinkel designs them so a group of smaller words might be bisected by a larger word connecting the sections. “So that if I do get stuck I don’t screw up the whole puzzle, I just have to start the section over,” he clarified. Garfinkel likes to see people working on his crossword puzzle in the paper, although he
admits he’s gotten a few frustrated emails as well. “I did have an entire chem lab yell at me once. I’d made some of the clues really twisted,” he said, admitting that that week’s puzzle included particularly convoluted hints. “It’s not actual anger, people [just wonder], ‘How the heck am I supposed to make that connection?’” He has been told that his puzzles are easier to do if you actually know him: “If you’re familiar with the screwed-up logic in my head, the clues make more sense.” One of the tricks when a creator is coming down to the last words is to use abbreviations; Garfinkel is a chemistry major, and says he often thinks of abbreviations that he realizes the rest of the student body will have no clue about. One of the most interesting puzzles that Garfinkel has created was published in the Miscellany before the spring 2010 Flaming Lips concert. In the puzzle was a contest for tickets to the concert: “If you emailed [Mitchell Gilburne ’12, Publicity for ViCE at the time] the answer to three long answers across, they spelled out a phrase from the poster, and you got free tickets to the concert. Stuff like that is fun,” said Garfinkel. For students looking to begin tackling the weekly crossword, or those looking for hints from a pro, Garfinkel has some advice. “I’d tell people to read more than anything, and to read a variety of things. That’s obviously where all the random words come from, and the trivia that I have in my head comes mostly from reading articles linked to articles linked to articles, etc.” After graduation, Garfinkel said, “I don’t see myself ever not doing [crossword puzzles].” He believes they’re a good way to keep one’s mind active, especially during a break from classes, and a good way to kill time. “I’ve always sort of thought about making a really, really good one and sending it in to the New York Times to see what happens,” Garfinkel said.
Contrast ahead of the trend for college fashion magazines Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin Guest Reporter
Alex Schlesinger/The Miscellany News
ontrast, Vassar’s bi-annual fashion magazine, is an arts and style magazine focused on creating a hybrid between the unique Vassar student fashion and the more elite world of a high fashion layout. Contrast often features various student styles, creative student works and human interest pieces. In thinking about Contrast as an undergraduate fashion magazine, it is also interesting to examine Contrast within the context of other fashion magazines produced in the realm of high fashion and at other colleges and universities. Columbia University’s Hoot Magazine, Cornell University’s Thread Magazine and Wesleyan University’s Tumblr WesDressed are three similar endeavours by schools to showcase fashion in the student setting. Of other peer colleges, Vassar is the only one with an arts and style publication, which also speaks to the uniqueness of Contrast as a specifically “Vassar” publication. The magazine was started in 2007 by then sophomores Celina Straussburgh ’10, Liza Darwin ’10 and Lucy Campwell ’10. Current Contrast co-Editor-in-Chief, Caroline Moran ’12, said, “[Straussburgh, Darwin and Campwell] saw this void at Vassar for not just fashion, but also magazines that were not just student writing but student photography, student styling, where everything was student-run.” Though not all “slaves to fashion,” Straussburgh, Darwin and Campwell saw a need for a magazine on Vassar’s campus that aimed at highlighting the various creative and artistic talents that Vassar students had to offer. According to Moran and co-Editor-in-Chief Hannah Tatar ’12, in the first three years since its inception Contrast changed drastically in its aim to be less of a regular “fashion” magazine and focus more on highlighting things that are unique to the Vassar community. Tatar claimed, “In terms of our status as a fashion magazine we call ourselves “Arts and Style,” because we do personally like to pay attention to trends…but we try not to ground ourselves in specific fashion trends.” Rather, Contrast aims to be grounded in the Vassar student body. While Moran and Tartar do wish to preserve some of the “fantasy” of high fashion magazines
Above, members of Contrast, Vassar’s bi-annual fashion publication, direct a fashion shoot inspired by photos from Vassar’s history. Vassar is one of the few colleges of its size to have a fashion magazine. like Elle or Vogue in Contrast, Tatar and Moran don’t seek to preach to Vassar students what they should be wearing because, as Moran put it, “they already know.” Of course, Contrast does not have the inaccessible photo-shoots or high-priced designer clothing that is the trademark of high fashion magazines. Larger universities are typically the schools to have fashion publications. This is because these schools, unlike Vassar and its peer institutions, have fashion and journalism majors who hope to one day go into a career in the world of fashion editorials. Wesleyan University’s fashion blog, WesDressed, is a student-run Tumblr that highlights Wesleyan student fashion by featuring snapshots of different students around campus. According to the website, “WesDressed was created to display the fashion savvy of students on campus.” However, WesDressed is by no means a fashion publica-
tion, in that it publishes no editorials and the photos are not from photoshoots but rather snapshots taken anytime and anywhere on campus. On the other hand, Cornell’s Thread Magazine is centered on bringing high fashion trends to Cornell. An article in the April 2011 debut issue of Thread entitled “Fashion Week 2011: Translating New York Runways for the Cornell Campus,” sets the tone for the magazine as being predominately driven by high fashion trends rather than Cornell student culture. The pictures in the article are mainly drawn from New York fashion week, and highlight no Cornell students. A beauty shoot in the same issue centered on colors; every caption began with “inspired by” listing high fashion designers such as Diesel and Paul and Joe. And while the magazine’s photoshoots do highlight students, such as the debut issue’s feature on various majors, the shoots themselves
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often mimic the high fashion aesthetics of Vogue or Elle. Within each photoshoot, Thread lists the models’ clothing items and occasionally prices. This is one thing that Tatar and Moran explicitly said they don’t do. In their opinion, Contrast is not a high fashion magazine attempting to sell clothes; all of the clothes used in Contrast photoshoots are donated by students. In an emailed statement Thread Editor-in-Chief Katherine Patterson, wrote, “The Thread Magazine is a Cornell student-run fashion magazine. We aim to inspire students with fashion shoots and editorials relevant to our campus environment.” The college magazine that most resembles the ideas and aesthetic that Contrast aims to put forward is Hoot Magazine, published by students at Columbia University, in foregrounding student fashion and style. The magazine also features a series of accessory shoots with student accessories strewn on notable places on campus, such as in front of the statue of Minerva on the library steps. Hoot also features various teacher and student profiles. Just as Contrast often incorporates elements of the surrounding Poughkeepsie area into the magazine, Hoot highlights the relationship between Columbia students and the surrounding Morningside Heights area, such as the piece on the surrounding Harlem area in their Spring/ Summer ’10 issue. According to Hoot Editor-in-Chief Anna Cooperberg, “As Columbia University’s only fashion magazine, Hoot Magazine serves as the campus’ voice in fashion as well as providing an outlet for many students interested in getting involved in the fashion industry. We fill a niche on campus of these interested and passionate students, from budding stylists and photographers to journalists and bloggers. We connect the magazine to the campus and alum community.” So what makes Contrast stand out against other Art and Style publications? Simply put, Contrast’s unique take on the art, style and fashion magazine form comes from its foundational basis, the Vassar College student body. It is Vassar’s students’ unique style, talents, photographic skill and passion that make up the heart of Contrast and make it a distinct brand of art and style magazine.
March 22, 2012
Simply syrup: variations on a classic cocktail sweetener Sarah Begley Columnist
Courtesy of Sarah Begley
imple syrup is a staple ingredient in many cocktails, and it’s as easy to make as the name implies. Dissolve one part sugar in one part boiling water—or use a different ratio, depending on how keen your sweet tooth is—and you’ve got a great addition to many mixed drinks, like piña coladas, Mai Tais and French 75s. As anyone who drinks on campus knows (ahem, 21 and over, obviously), the standard Screwdrivers and rum and Cokes can get boring. On the other hand, however, the liqueurs required for many cocktails can get expensive, and unless you’re making a large batch of cocktails, you can get stuck with a large bottle that takes forever to finish. The great thing about simple syrup is that it lets you try something new without investing in anything expensive. Plus, you can make whatever size batch you want and refrigerate any leftovers. Adding another ingredient in the boiling process (like ginger, basil or cardamom) infuses the simple syrup with extra complex flavor that enhances cocktails. These recipes, for a Ginger Gin Fizz, Basil Cosmo and Cardamom Daiquiri, offer some delicious ideas, and each of them require only one type of alcohol and a couple of other cheap ingredients. Feel free to experiment with other combinations, or try infusing different flavors like cinnamon or vanilla. These simple syrups could also work in coffee, just like the squirts of flavor they use in Starbucks (though I would hesitate to try basil in this variation). You can also drizzle them on waffles, pancakes, oatmeal or yogurt to spice up a boring breakfast. The ginger and cardamom syrups even work as glazes for desserts like carrot cake. Another use for simple syrups, particularly appropriate given the warm weather: iced tea. Many recipes call for simple syrups, either plain or infused with rosemary or lavender, to sweeten a pitcher of the stuff; the added bonus of using syrup is that you avoid the sludgy sugar at the bottom of a glass.
1/2 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Discard ginger. Yields ½ cup syrup.
1/2 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp cardamom pods, cracked
2 shots vodka 1 shot basil-infused syrup Cranberry juice to taste
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Strain out cardamom. Yields ½ cup syrup.
1/2 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Discard basil. Yields ½ cup syrup.
Ginger Gin Fizz
2 shots gin 1 shot ginger-infused syrup 1/2 shot lime juice Club soda Combine gin, syrup, lime and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake, strain and top with club soda.
Combine vodka, basil-infused syrup, cranberry juice and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain. Cardamom Daiquiri
2 shots light rum 1 shot cardamom-infused syrup 1/2 shot lime juice Combine rum, cardamom-infused syrup, lime and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain.
EverReady, Acrop satisfy students’ diner food cravings Thomas Lawler and Casey Zuckerman Reporters
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
he restaurants surrounding Vassar have cuisines inspired by all corners of the globe, from Jamaica to India; some days, however, students just crave the simple satisfaction of a burger and fries, a staple of diners nationwide. The Acropolis Diner and the EverReady Diner are two local establishments known for more than these menu item, however, as the friendly staff and atmosphere bring students back regularly. The Acropolis Diner on 829 Main Street is affectionately called “Acrop” by locals, and since its opening in 1958 has become a fixture in the Poughkeepsie community. It is a popular choice among students based on its walking distance from Vassar’s campus. The Acropolis’s menu boasts typical American diner classics along with Greek entrees, such as moussaka, spinach pie, stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers and gyros. The fact that it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week is also a big draw to students looking for a meal at odd hours. “I would definitely recommend it to other Vassar students,” said Doug Greer ’14. He and a few friends have developed a tradition around the Acrop, gathering there every Thursday at midnight with a group. “The food is great, the waiters are wonderful and joke around with you and it is a relaxing and fun experience,” Greer continued. “While I still go to other places in Poughkeepsie [to eat] normally, the Acrop is perfect for our tradition,” said Sarah Moseley ’14, who joins Greer on Thursday nights. “At Acrop we can go late and stay as long as we want and we don’t have to go far. Plus, we have the same waiter every week and he has become a part of our group!” Acropolis owner Chris Jairavis noted the importance of Vassar business to his restaurant. “[Vassar] was one of the reasons I bought this place in 2003,” he said. “I try to keep my prices down because I know [students] don’t have money.” Jairavis suggests that students who want a
Above, customers enjoy the expansive menu at the Acropolis Diner, affectionately called “Acrop” by locals. Along with the EverReady Diner, Acrop provides comfort food and a friendly atmosphere. break from the classic burger and fries should try some of their Greek dishes, which are house specialties. He emphasized that his diner has good food and great service. “The service is good because I’ve kept most of the employees that have worked here over the years. Many of them have been here a long time, from before I owned Acropolis,” he said. Jairavis said that his waitstaff are a major draw for customers. “That’s the most important thing, when people can come and know the waiters as friends. We know most of [our customers] by their first names, their kids, their family, the whole story. So they come here because we are friendly, you know, it’s a family place,” he said. Hollie Sturgess, a waitress who has worked at Acropolis for 28 years, says that she loves it when students come to the diner. “We couldn’t ask for nicer students from Vassar,” she said. Over the years, Vassar alumnae/i have even
returned to Acropolis to see her and the other familiar faces from the diner. She marveled, “Some Vassar kids would come back, and would be married and have children.” For those diner fans willing to travel a little further down Route 9, the EverReady Diner is a retro 1950s restaurant that specializes in classic Americana comfort food. Opened in 1995, owner and manager Victor Vanikiotis describes his diner as “more of a family place that strives to make everyone feel welcome upon entering.” The EverReady, also open 24/7, is known for their all-day breakfast and fresh bakery. The diner caught the attention of the Food Network several years ago when it was featured on the nationally syndicated show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which follows the show’s host Guy Fieri as he eats at local food joints. The episode focused on EverReady’s pancakes, a customer favorite for years, and their
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slow-cooked braised short-ribs. As Vanikiotis described EverReady, “From families having brunch, to businessmen and women sitting at the counter reading the papers, to elderly couples that have been coming back for quality food for years, we are an open diner with a lively atmosphere.” This openness and hospitality, he believes, has contributed to the diner’s diverse clientele from the Hudson Valley. A large portion of these clients come from the many colleges in the area. Because a good number of the diner’s costumers are students from Vassar, Marist College and the Culinary Institute of America, the diner sees a dramatic decrease in customers during school breaks and the summer months. Vanikiotis acknowledges, “Our customer numbers as a whole certainly do fluctuate depending on whether school is in session.” And while there is a lull in student customers during certain times of the year, the lack of student patrons coming to the EverReady during breaks is more than made up for during Parents Weekends, Graduation Week and alumnae/i weekends. The diner’s customer diversity is mirrored in their menu, which includes everything from burgers and fries to filet mignon and chicken marsala. The EverReady maintains a high bar for customer satisfaction and is willing to accommodate customers who have dietary restrictions and food allergies. However, Acropolis Diner and the EverReady Diner both have seen a decrease in Vassar business as of late. The owners know that the current economic climate has led many people to tighten their spending. “I have had less Vassar kids come these last couple of years. I understand why this is, but it is not good for business,” said Jairavis. Despite these setbacks, both Jairavis and Vanikiotis are hopeful that students will continue to explore local restaurants in the area. “I would encourage those that have not experienced what Hudson Valley has to offer,” said Vanikiotis, “to come and support the wonderful diners that give you an idea of a comfortable feel that cannot be found at national chains.”
March 22, 2012
FIRE criticism of free expression at VC raises questions Jessica Tarantine
Assistant Features Editor
Courtesy of FIRE
assar students like to swear, complain and raise a ruckus about past Republican presidents, and sometimes host Free Weezy and “tropical” beach parties. But while the first is perfectly permissible, doing either of the latter two would get you into serious trouble. The difference, according to the College’s regulations, lies within the realm of Vassar’s speech code. An organization, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), founded to litigate on the behalf of students who feel as though they were unjustly denied their rights, ranks colleges on a scale of green, yellow and red according to increasing levels of suppression of freedom of expression. “When a private university states clearly that it holds a certain set of values above a commitment to freedom of speech, FIRE does not rate that university,” reads the organization’s website. Vassar has repeatedly not received a ranking. This means that Vassar’s constitution, according to FIRE, upholds respect above freedom of speech, and therefore has restrictions on speech. Yet, despite the limitations FIRE’s ranking suggest, many Vassar students don’t perceive any limitations on freedom of expression. “I’m not really sure I know of any way that Vassar limits free speech, other than really hurtful speech, though the response to that is usually student outrage too,” said Squirm President Gretchen Heinel ’12. “For the most part, it seems that students are free to say whatever it is they want...though whether they get heard or not is a different matter.” Dean of the College Chris Roellke also did not support FIRE’s decision not to rank the College. “I do not agree with FIRE that the shared guidelines our community has put forth somehow artificially or inappropriately puts limits on free speech.” According to FIRE, however, the College’s
Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), speaks in an informational video about FIRE’s advocacy. According to FIRE, Vassar restricts free expression. policies state that certain values should come before freedom of speech. The Student Handbook reads, “Because Vassar is a residential college, and because it seeks diversity in its membership, individuals have a particular obligation beyond that of society at large to exercise self-restraint, tolerance for difference, and regard for the rights and sensitivities of others.” It continues, “When individuals violate their obligation to the community, such as through the denigration of groups within the college, it is not simply a matter for those particular groups, but it offends the sensibilities of the entire community.” The exact values that the College privileges before freedom of speech are respect and ci-
vility. The Student Handbook reads, “Under the rule of civility, individuals within the community are expected to behave reasonably, use speech responsibly, and respect the rights of others. Genuine freedom of mind is not possible in the absence of civility.” Roellke explained that this idea of civility was central to the idea of a liberal arts education. “I have long been impressed with Vassar’s commitment to this free exchange of ideas—in fact, I think it is a feature of our campus that makes us distinctive,” Roelke said. “I am also proud of the shared manner in which we develop college regulations, so that this free exchange of ideas can be accomplished in a civil and productive manner.”
The idea that civility should come before complete freedom of speech was shared by many Vassar students. “I think generally Vassar tends to be more sensitive to issues concerning instances of discrimination, which I think it a good thing,” said member of the Class of 2014 Class Council Rachel Thompson ’14. “We treated the graffiti found in Davidson [House] last semester a lot differently than the graffiti on the second floor of the Library which says ‘imagine a world of Meryl Streeps’ ... when being respectful is more important than being able to say whatever you want we can recognize that one of [the two instance of graffiti] is a lot worse than the other,” Thompson concluded. Other restrictions placed on students regarding speech do not seem to be any different than those mandated by our government. “The College puts the same restrictions on us that the government does,” said President of Squirm Gretchen Heinel ’13 on the publication of the magazine. “We can’t show penetration, spread labia or erections—anything considered porn.” She went on to explain that it would even be possible to go around those restrictions, although the magazine would rather avoid the consequences. “We would have to hand out the magazines wrapped in plastic if we were to include any of those things,” said Heinel. “We as an organization do censor what goes into our magazine, much more so than I think the school does.” Although the response to the FIRE ranking was varied, some students did understand that to those who were not members of the Vassar community and did not recognize the benefits of such a speech code, it could come across as limiting. “Vassar does sometimes tend to overreact. Looking at last semester, when we had an alldorm meeting to talk about [the graffiti], it did seem like things were being blown a little out of proportion,” said Thompson.
VC generates revenue through tutition, financial assets TUITION continued from page 1 expenses, other sources of income and ultimately decides upon a figure that it believes would appropriately cover the school’s costs. This is done in an attempt to establish the school’s budget for the fiscal year. In addition to the 49 percent of total revenue generated through tuition, Vassar also receives 33 percent of its income through interest generated by its financial assets, nine percent through private gifts to the College. Additionally, six percent of Vassar’s income is generated through any additional fees that the College charges, such as childcare fees at Wimpfheimer Nursery School and the Infant and Toddler Center or cash sales for food at the Retreat, and three percent of its income is generated through government grants. When deciding the budget, Budget Director and Assistant Vice President for Finance and Administration David English and his staff begin by assessing the College’s current budget and overall finances. “The Budget Director and his staff do this by looking at what is being charged to the accounting system, but they also have conversations with people, whether it is the director of financial aid, or the director of dining operations,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration Betsy Eismeier. “A lot of different offices know things that would affect revenue and expenses that you can’t see when you’re just looking at the accounting system.” After carefully considering the College’s operating expenses, the Board of Trustees approved a budget of $152 million last fall, which ultimately can be broken down to an average cost of $67,125 per student. This cost is subsidized by both Vassar’s endowment and gift funds, resulting in the lowered comprehensive fee of $55,135. However, with approximately 60 percent of the student body receiving varying amounts of financial aid, this fee is further tailored in consideration of each student’s ability to pay. The effects of the need-blind policy, which allows the school to admit students regardless of their ability to pay, must also be considered
when establishing the school’s budget. Before this policy was implemented, a fixed portion of the annual budget would be set aside each year specifically for financial aid. However, with the need-blind policy, the overall amount of financial aid needed is less controlled than before, making this aspect of the budget less predictable. As Eismeier explained, “In general we want to have student tuition be stable, if not growing a little bit to support cost pressures. The first year we implemented need-blind in 2008-2009, net tuition, or the amount we collect after financial aid, went down slightly.” However, Eismeier also noted that the enactment of the need-blind policy also occurred during the height of the economic recession, and that it is very likely that this also contributed to the decrease in net tuition during that particular fiscal period. She continued, “Because of our implementation of the policy change, net tuition hasn’t grown. The plan now is to have stability and a little bit of growth going forward. But the financial aid policy means that establishing the budget is less predictable than it has been in the past when we were targeting a certain amount of financial aid each year.” The College adjusted to the pressure on net tuition after financial aid by reducing or controlling the growth in college expense budgets and by relying on investment return to endowment and gifts by alumnae/i to the Annual Fund. However, drawing heavily from endowment carries long-term consequences. “They call it ‘intergenerational equity.’ The long-term consequences of drawing from it is that generations in the future might not have the same level of benefit from the endowment,” Eismeier said. Despite this, Vassar’s budget in terms of where exactly these finances are directed has remained relatively stable. 65 percent of all operating expenses, for example, go toward compensating members of the faculty, staff and administration. For the 2011-2012 school year, this $68,752,000 went specifically to employee salaries and wages, while $27,187,000 went to employee benefits.
One of the most costly aspects is providing health insurance for each of Vassar’s employees. “Like so many organizations, Vassar sponsors plans for our faculty, and we also contribute to a union plan, which covers dining and Buildings and Grounds employees,” said English. “There is the potential that employer-based plans will have to cross subsidize the uninsured or under-insured. There is a lot of uncertainty of how national health care reform will impact our cost base, but we have to provide every year in the budget that there has been a significant increase in costs, just to keep going.” The College also sponsors two separate retirement plans for union and non-union employees, as well as workers’ compensation and various levels of tuition benefits for employees and children of employees. “The College also pays for disability insurance, life insurance, and we are required to contribute to FICA, Social Security and Medicare,” stated English. “Although it is hard to call Social Security and FICA ‘benefits’ because all employers are legally mandated to pay for it,” he admitted. “The College will provide employee benefits when there is a tax advantage. This allows us to create benefits for employees, such as pre-tax savings pension plans,” said Eismeier. Vassar offers many of these benefits in competition with other employers who may also attract the type of faculty members Vassar wishes to have. Eismeier said, “You take some companies like Google, for example, who put together a package of employee benefits that they think appeal to the kind of people they want to hire. Then it becomes a competition among employers for a particular talent base.” As Eismeier explained, companies could offer benefits that range from various recreational activities to having exotic food available in the cafeteria, all with the intention of attracting a particular type of employee. Eismeier continued, “When potential faculty members are looking at other employers, we have to think about what kind of benefit structure they are looking for. And to retain our fac-
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ulty, we have to be able to say that we offer a comparable benefit array as the employers that may seek to take our best people.” Vassar compares their compensation rates to 21 peer institutions through data collected in the American Association of University Professors’ annual “Report on the Economic Status of the Profession.” This survey contrasts data regarding benefits provided by various institutions of higher learning across the nation. Additionally, The College and University Personnel Association collects data by job title for all other college employees, including administrators and staff. “If you could think about it for faculty, the job titles are straightforward—professor, assistant professor, associate professor. For the rest of the jobs, the schools design these jobs somewhat differently and pick somewhat different titles,” stated Eismeier. “So it is a little bit harder to know exactly what the job is. It is a little bit more difficult to do the comparative analysis, but we have the same comparative goal with all of our employee groups.” The second largest aspect of the budget, which comprises 25 percent of the budget’s total, is reserved for consumable expenses. These include utilities, fees for visiting lecturers, various dining expenses, library acquisitions and athletic team expenses. As a result of the recent recession, Vassar has been exerting various “cost control efforts” in these particular areas of spending. For the 2011-2012 school year, consumable expenses ultimately totaled $44,104,000. Plant and equipment expenses, which are reserved for the upkeep of the College’s physical facilities, accounted for $7.4 million, or five percent of the budget. Additionally, the remaining five percent of the budget is reserved for paying interest on debt incurred for renovations and improvements to the physical plant. Despite being tagged as one of the highest costing colleges in the nation, Vassar’s budget hopes to provide all employees with equitable compensation and providing students with the best possible college experience.
March 22, 2012
Miscellany News Staff Editorials
VSA, Dining Services must prepare for effects of bottled water resolution
n Sunday, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) will vote on a resolution that would support a ban on bottled water from locations controlled by Dining Services. If the resolution passes, it will be presented to the Committee on College Life (CCL) and Director of Dining Services Maureen King, who will then review the proposition before it is formally instated. This resolution is the result of a yearlong push by the Vassar Greens, who first proposed a campus-wide ban on bottled water last April as a part of their Tap That initiative. After considering the environmental impact and weighing the potential inconveniences associated with the ban, The Miscellany News supports this resolution. This latest resolution follows on the heels of the Vassar Greens’ successful campaign last year to remove bottled water from VSA organization-sponsored events. The new ban will remove all disposable plastic water bottles from any location under the jurisdiction of Dining Services—this includes the Retreat, UpC, Express Lunch, Matthew’s Bean and the Kiosk. This will ultimately have a positive impact on the environment and will continue Vassar’s efforts to minimize waste in its dining facilities, which include the College’s successful composting program. Because the ban is limited to Dining Services, the resolution does not support the complete removal of bottled water from campus. Those who would like to continue drinking bottled water will still have the option of purchasing it in vending machines and the College Bookstore, if they so choose.
Importantly, a ban on bottled water will force students, faculty and staff to become more reliant on non-bottled sources of water, encouraging habits that will be valuable both on and off of campus. With this in mind, however, the members of the VSA Council should be cognizant of the existing resources available on campus and what they can do to improve them. Water fountains need to be maintained properly and must be better distributed throughout campus. To help students adapt to this change, the College should encourage the sale of inexpensive, reusable water bottles on campus. We are heartened by the fact that some new water fountains are already in the works, and that new students are usually given water bottles during orientation. This will help students acclimate to the ban by giving them a clear alternative to bottled water. In addition, the VSA Council and Dining Services should consider the way in which bottled water has been included as part of a meal swipe. This is particularly true of Express Lunch and at UpC, where meals include a specific selection of items with a bottled beverage. By eliminating this choice, the ban would either shortchange someone of a full “meal,” as defined by Dining Services, or force one to purchase a drink that he or she might not otherwise want. At Express Lunch in particular, the other drink options are often sugary or less healthy than water and even more environmentally unfriendly than bottled water. In order to combat this predicament, Dining Services might consider providing a water cooler with the Retreat’s compostable cups for water free of
charge or other food item as compensation. While it is important for the VSA to acknowledge any potential consequences associated with this resolution, it is also critical for its members to communicate with their constituents effectively when making such decisions. Although some polls were distributed via email over Spring Break, not every student had the opportunity to voice his or her opinion on the resolution at hand. Early poll results indicated a low response rate, but high approval of the resolution. Understanding that spring break is a difficult time to gather feedback from students, we hope that Council members will now seize every opportunity to communicate with their constituents. The Miscellany wants to clarify that its support is only limited to the ban as it currently stands. Because this resolution is directly affiliated with the Tap That campaign, it is ultimately part of a long-term initiative sponsored by the Vassar Greens to eliminate bottled water from the campus entirely. We would encourage the VSA and the student body to consider each additional proposal that may arise in conjunction with this longterm goal on a case-to-case basis. Nevertheless, we would like to emphasize that this ban will have a positive effect on the environment by reducing the amount of plastic waste that an average member of the Vassar community produces on a daily basis, a benefit far out weighs any personal inconvenience. —The Staff Editorial represents the opinion of at least two thirds of the 23-member Miscellany News Editorial Board.
Birth control not just a women’s issue Rachel Anspach Guest Columnist
n Feb. 16, House Republicans held a hearing about President Obama’s new contraception mandate, which requires institutions to include birth control in their health insurance plans. The Republican-selected panel included no women, and the woman that the Democrats had chosen to testify was not allowed to speak. In response to the fact that no women were allowed to speak at a hearing about women’s health, the Democrats called their own meeting where they heard the testimony of Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student. Apparently, the idea that men and women should have equality in health care is too much for Republicans to handle. This was demonstrated clearly in early March when Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” The next day, he brought his comments to another level, saying, “So, Miss Fluke, and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” Since Limbaugh made these comments, he has issued what he called an apology, but there has been shamefully little backlash from the GOP against these comments. The intense sexism within the GOP is disturbing on many levels. However, what I find particularly shocking is that there is literally no mention of the fact that birth control is not only for women. Limbaugh’s comments imply that it is only slutty women who are using birth control, and men are not involved in this in any way. It is not as if women take birth control in a vacuum. Men are, in fact, equally involved in the act that requires the use of birth control. This may be a surprise to Limbaugh and other prominent Republicans, who seem unable to understand how birth control actually works. During his sexist tirade, Limbaugh also said, “[Fluke is] having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.” Obviously, there are numerous problems with this statement. For one, it implies that the more sex you have, the
more often you take birth control. However, as I would hope all adults know, birth control pills are taken once a day, whether you don’t have sex at all or you have it 100 times. Another problem is that he seems to think that the American people will be paying for birth control. Obama’s contraception mandate requires that institutions of employment include birth control in their insurance plans. This means that insurance companies, not the American taxpayers, will be subsidizing the cost of birth control. Beyond Limbaugh’s speaking to millions of people about an issue he clearly does not understand, Republicans have been extremely shy about chastising Limbaugh. While GOP politicians may not have said what Limbaugh did, their silence on the issue implies that they do not disagree with him. On March 2, when asked about Limbaugh’s comments, Mitt Romney— the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination—said, “It’s not the language I would have used.” So, does this mean that Romney agreed with Rush, but would have preferred Limbaugh to use the word “hussy” instead? Rick Santorum said the same day, “He’s being absurd. But that’s, you know—an entertainer can be absurd.” While Romney has tiptoed around birth control, Santorum has openly expressed that he is anti-choice and anti-birth control. Whatever they say, Romney and Santorum are clearly not advocates of women’s rights, and this will cost them the female vote in the election. The New York Times recently found that Republicanleaning women are disenchanted with the GOP in light of their oppressive views on women’s reproductive issues. Many of the women interviewed are considering either voting for Obama in the next election, or not voting at all. It is hard to believe that in the 21st century, a woman’s right to control her own body is still under attack. If women do not have the right to birth control, in effect they do not have the same right to decide their own futures. Additionally, the fact that the narrative around birth control is still framed as a women’s-only issue shows how sexist our society still is. This shows that no matter how far American women seem to have come, the realm of the family and the home, or the private sphere, is still seen to belong to
women. If we lived in an equal society, birth control would be seen as an issue that concerns all of society. Obviously, when used to prevent pregnancy, a woman does not use birth control alone. And it is not used between two women. It is needed to avoid pregnancy when a woman and a man have sex. The pregnancy that is potentially averted by the pill would be the child of the man as well. Thus, access to birth control should be something that concerns men just as much as women. However, since women usually end up with the responsibility to raise the child, and face a much higher stigma for choosing either single motherhood or abortion, it is a woman’s issue. Many of Limbaugh’s biggest advertisers have withdrawn their ads from his show. Numerous members of the Democratic Party, including President Obama, have openly condemned Limbaugh’s remarks. While this may be heartening, it does truly seem that, as the DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and others have said, Republicans are waging a “war on women.” And what is truly disturbing is that comments like Limbaugh’s are still viewed as legitimate in our society. Someone who publicly said that a woman was a prostitute for using birth control, and should post porn videos as a repayment to society, should be ostracized from any legitimate, mainstream political party. Limbaugh should have been fired for these remarks, instead of issuing a weak and insincere apology. It is interesting that the party of family values supports labeling women as prostitutes and forcing women to post personal porn online. All of this is not even to mention state-level anti-abortion, pro-vaginal probing bills endorsed by governors who think they know what women should do with their bodies. American women will not step back into the early 20th century, and the Republicans will pay for their sexism when the elections come around. As Rachel Maddow said on the March 16 edition of her program, “This is not an everyred-state-in-the-country problem. This is not a Rick Santorum problem. This is a Republican problem. This might be THE Republican problem of 2012.” —Rachel Anspach ’13 is a political science major.
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Maldives, U.S. share climate change answer Lane Kisonak
limate change is neither easily understood nor local,” reads a recent New York Times article on the interaction between climate science and policy (“A Reminder that Science Can Override Pressure,” 03.14.12). Though it is impossible to fully comprehend the range of threats to human civilization posed by climate change, climate change may in fact be one of the most local problems the world has offered us to solve. At the same time it remains perhaps the most difficult, as is becoming clear in two countries that lie half a world apart but share a common threat in global climate change: the United States and the Maldives. First, the Maldives, a tiny, flat island country of roughly 350,000 people. As you read this, the Maldives are falling into the ocean. If current sea level forecasting models continue to hold up, the waters of the Indian Ocean are expected to submerge the Maldives by the end of the century––an outcome which, without decisive action, would consign the Maldives to the history books as a modern day Atlantis. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its comprehensive report on the likely effects of global warming and possible means of mitigating them, predicted that sea levels could rise by as much as 59 centimeters by 2100. Such a rise would be enough to sink the vast majority of the Maldivian land mass. In preparation for this eventuality, the Maldivians have begun to act, summoning support and raising awareness among the international community. It has been known for some time that the government of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, a former human rights activist who has been called the Nelson Mandela of the Indian Ocean, has been amassing a “sovereign wealth fund” for the purchase of land in India, Sri Lanka or Australia in order to eventually resettle the Maldivian people. In a January interview with Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Nasheed cited such broad considerations as cultural similarity, proximity and climate as central in his search for an appropriate place to commence the relocation of his nation. Some of his more remarkable efforts to promote awareness have included an underwater cabinet meeting, held in 2009, a well-received speech on climate change to Conservatives in the United Kingdom, and a call to arms to make the Maldives the first carbon-neutral country in the world. But after all that, Nasheed resigned in February, likely having been forced to do so by allies of Maumoon Gayoom, the dictator Nasheed had unseated in the Maldives’ first democratic elections in 2008 after 30 damaging years in power. Since February, high-profile bodies such as Amnesty International and the Commonwealth of Nations have observed the violent suppression of protests in the capital city of Malé by the regime of newly installed President Mohamed Waheed. Even as Nasheed held office his efforts were hampered by a corrupt judicial system beholden to Gayoom, according to Stephen Zunes, writing for The Huffington Post. These difficulties were compounded by a legislature mired in gridlock thanks to an unmovable opposition, according to the BBC. Nasheed’s efforts to protect his people from global warming are, I believe, illustrative of two truths for all societies interested in climate change mitigation: first, the localized nature of climate change politics, and second, how easily it gets pushed aside in favor of other matters due to personal agendas and institutional inertia. In the Maldives, the chief rationale for the removal of Nasheed after three years of high popular support and decisive action repairing the wounds of Gayoom’s dictatorship was the purportedly wrongful arrest of a criminal court judge on corruption charges. Political forces friendly to Gayoom found it in their interest to take advantage of this incident and align against Nasheed (BBC, “Dramatic fall for Maldives’ See CLIMATE on page 11
March 22, 2012
Kony 2012 campaign uses ineffective social strategies Carson Robinson
hen the Invisible Children campaign came to Vassar a few years ago, the documentary that they screened left me feeling depressed, with no sense of being able to do anything personally about the atrocities committed by Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. The documentary, much more frank and disturbing than their 2012 video, offered no solutions to the problem. And when they were questioned afterward, the student activists giving the presentation were unable to outline any substantive objectives. When all was said and done, I felt as if there was no point in even discussing the issue with my peers, let alone buy any of Invisible Children’s tacky merchandise. The Kony 2012 video has done a brilliant job of reversing this problem. Far from making people feel as if Kony is unstoppable, it has made people feel as if there is something very meaningful that they can do to help fight Kony: Repost this video and donate money. The merits of reposting the video have been hotly debated, and I am going to put in my two cents here. But rather than discussing the content of the Kony 2012 video, I wish to discuss the ensuing behavior of those who help disseminate it. The Kony 2012 video is an attempt to influence behavior. Specifically, Invisible Children wants to get people to share the video with their peers and donate money. Invisible Children also wants people to buy a neat little Kony kit containing a poster and whatnot to raise awareness. But if Invisible Children wants people to do something substantive to help people who are suffering, this awareness-raising behavior needs to lead to actual people-helping action. Will it? Whether awareness-raising will lead to people-helping is a question that social psychology can help us answer. Decades of research on social influence suggests that initial
behaviors foster subsequent compliance. One way of thinking about this is in terms of selfperception; people repost the Kony 2012 video, and this functions as informational feedback. The act of reposting the video activates cognitions such as, “I am the kind of person who is devoted to humanitarian efforts.” Other humanitarian efforts, such as volunteering for Invisible Children or other activist organizations, should follow. This kind of social influence is powerful. By priming people with small initial requests, field experimenters have induced people to comply with astonishingly imposing subsequent requests: accepting huge billboards to be placed on their front lawns, committing to long volunteer hours and even donating their bone marrow. This is the foot-in-the-door effect; prior behavior leads to subsequent behavioral consistency. Based on this literature, one would expect the Kony 2012 video to be effective in increasing the overall level of activism among Internet users, because it starts by asking people to do something simple and easy—repost. But an opposing prediction comes from research on the self-licensing effect. In self-licensing, initial good deeds serve to excuse subsequent transgressions. In the domain of health behavior, a 2011 study published in Addiction showed that smokers who were randomly assigned to take a vitamin-C supplement later smoked twice as many cigarettes than smokers who thought they were taking a placebo (Chiou et al. 2011). Another 2011 paper published in Psychological Science showed that taking dietary supplements lowered self-reported intentions to eat healthy foods, raised intentions to engage in unhealthy behaviors and caused people to engage in less exercise (Chiou, Yang & Wan 2011). The licensing effect extends to other domains as well. In the domain of environmental behavior, a 2010 paper published in Psycho-
logical Science showed that purchasing greenfriendly products led to decreases in altruistic behavior and increased lying and stealing behaviors (Mazar and Zhong 2010). In the domain of prejudice, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that expressing support for Barack Obama was correlated with white research participants endorsing racially biased hiring decisions (Effron et al. 2009). This is the opposite of the foot-in-the-door effect; in self-licensing, people exhibit behavioral tradeoffs, rather than behavioral consistency. What accounts for this discrepancy in the research? Upon closer scrutiny, there is a clear difference between the conditions that bring about foot-in-the-door effects and those that stimulate self-licensing. In the foot-in-thedoor research, the initial behaviors are ones that involve real, face-to-face interactions with other people, such as signing a petition. This is a small action, but it is tangible. You can feel the clipboard and pen in your hand, you have a conversation with another person about the issue; this sensory and social information fosters subsequent commitment to the cause. In contrast, the self-licensing studies use initial actions that are decontextualized and contrived. When you take a vitamin supplement, you don’t taste the oranges, carrots or milk that are the natural sources of those nutrients. When you buy green household products, you don’t see any of the people or ecosystems that benefit from your decision. When you express support for Barack Obama, you don’t directly engage with any of favorable outcomes that your support is alleged to produce. These behaviors are effortless and decontextualized, and so instead of helping to shape your selfconcept, they act as cheap credits that buy you future transgressions. Reposting the Kony 2012 video is like taking a vitamin supplement. It makes people feel as if they
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are doing something to stop Kony—you’ve stopped Kony. That’s quite an accomplishment. What are you going to do with the rest of your day? Do homework? Read the news? Donate to some other charity? No; reposting the video licenses viewers to forgo other virtuous behaviors. The upshot of all of this is that humanitarian campaigns that rely on virality and social media will undermine rather than augment substantive activism. Pressing “share” becomes a cheap way to feel good about helping other people, of being socially conscious, of being a good person. What’s more, by pressing “share” you are simultaneously letting everyone know about these merits you have! To couch this argument in somewhat different terminology, the Kony 2012 campaign uses ineffective social influence strategies. Decades of social psychological research have identified many simple and extremely effective influence tactics, with the foot-in-the-door technique being one of many. The problem is that Invisible Children is operating on the Internet, where people can confront or distance themselves from an issue through simple button presses. Social media is a good place to exchange information, but a poor place to incite action, especially if the action that is to be incited (sharing a video) takes place right there within the social media environment. Don’t expect people to then get up off their computers to go out and change the world; they think they already have. Social psychologists are just now starting to investigate how social influence works in virtual environments, and future research may demonstrate that what I am arguing here may turn out to be too pessimistic. But based on what psychological research has taught us about human nature, viral campaigns like Kony 2012 are likely to suppress, rather than generate, true activism. —Carson Robinson ’12 is a psychology major.
March 22, 2012
Invisible Children promotes ‘white man’s burden,’ gives false answers Bill Crane Columnist
ONY 2012, the social media campaign by the charity group Invisible Children that caught fire last week, has brought war in central Africa into the media spotlight. A video produced by Invisible Children that got 71 million views in less than a week focuses on Joseph Kony, leader of the Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The 30-minute video claims that Kony is “the most dangerous man in the world.” Invisible Children hopes the video will “raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.” The campaign asks supporters to “make Kony famous” by posting flyers with his image. This, the video suggests, will convince the U.S. government to step up support for the Ugandan military in its quest to “stop Kony”—to kill him or to bring him to trial at the International Criminal Court. It’s certainly understandable that a campaign against child soldiers and sex trafficking would gain widespread attention. But the Kony 2012 campaign is leaving out a lot of facts that every opponent of violence and injustice needs to know. The video says little about Joseph Kony besides the allegation that he has enslaved more than 30,000 children, using the boys as soldiers and the girls as sex slaves. This, we’re told, justifies stopping him by all means, including U.S. military involvement. Certainly no one who cares about justice will shed any tears if and when Kony is brought to justice. The leader of an army that seeks “a government based on the 10 Commandments,” Kony led a 20-year insurgency—one that did, in fact, use child soldiers— against the Ugandan state. But stopping at this description distorts the character of the conflict. The LRA is one in a series of insurgencies by the Acholi people, dating back to the rise of Yoweri Museveni, who has held the office of Uganda’s presidency for a quarter century now. The Acholi, based in the north of the country, have been waging war in one form or another against the central government, where power has come to be concentrated among ethnicities in the south. Museveni has carried out a savage campaign of counterinsurgency, with the Ugandan military matching the LRA’s atrocities.
In the mid-1990s, the government imposed a policy of forced displacement against the Acholi. Camps for the internally displaced in the north have some of the highest mortality rates in the world, with more than 1000 people dying each week. The campaign failed to defeat Kony. However, the LRA stopped operating in Uganda in 2006, a fact that the Kony 2012 video fails to note. Information about the situation is scant, but there is reason to doubt that Kony commands more than a few hundred soldiers somewhere in either the Central African Republic or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nevertheless, Kony 2012 focuses on one warlord and asks that viewers support the continued presence of U.S. military advisers in Uganda to capture him. However, U.S. forces participated in a disastrous operation in 2008 that failed to capture Kony in his base in Congo, but which succeeded in provoking the LRA to launch a ferocious counteroffensive. The rebels abducted an estimated 700 people and killed almost 1000. The Invisible Children video likewise ignores the brutality of the Ugandan military’s campaign against the LRA. In the hunt for Kony, they have been accused of looting the Central African Republic and forcing women into prostitution. The Kony 2012 campaign will not only reinforce this brutality by giving it a “humanitarian” justification, but it serves to strengthen an authoritarian state that last made global headlines for its attempts to pass a law to punish homosexuality with death. Even from a strictly humanitarian point of view, it’s hard to see why U.S. intervention deserves support. First of all, if the military were to find Kony, we should ask how many of the LRA’s child soldiers—in whose name Invisible Children claims to speak—were killed in the attempt to bring him in. We might also question the commitment of the U.S. government to ending the use of child soldiers in Uganda when it funds the armies of four countries that continue to use them, including Yemen and the Congo. But beyond these questions, it’s important to remember that U.S. military interventions never have been and never will be carried out for humanitarian motivations. U.S. military involvement in Uganda isn’t about concern for ordinary people, but Washington’s desire
to strengthen its foothold in Africa. According to a transcript from a March 1 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon’s Africa Command is aiming to expand its presence in the region. For anyone who watched the Invisible Children video, the deceptions in the call for intervention weren’t the only troubling aspects. Despite Invisible Children’s claim to speak on behalf of Kony’s child soldiers, only one such soldier appears in the video. The only other Ugandans interviewed are politicians—representatives of a U.S.-aligned government that has repressed the Acholi. In fact, the camera spends more time on the video’s white director and his child, and the white activists working with Invisible Children. According to the video, this is “a crucial time in history where what we do or don’t do right now will affect every generation to come.” But the “we” in that passage is clearly Westerners, not Ugandans. This approach—appealing to people in the United States to fight Joseph Kony on behalf of the people of Uganda—has a long and ugly history. It goes by the term “white man’s burden”—the racist argument made famous by British poet Rudyard Kipling that it is the duty of Western countries to be a “civilizing” influence in undeveloped parts of the world. The Kony 2012 campaign embraces the idea that the people of Uganda must be “saved” from themselves by the benevolent West. This ideology justified almost a century of colonialism in Uganda and the rest of Africa, creating the very conditions that produced monsters like Joseph Kony and Yoweri Museveni. Naturally, people in the United States who see the Kony 2012 video will want to do something to alleviate the suffering that they see portrayed in the film. But if nothing else, a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan should teach us that the U.S. war machine can never be used to stop violence and end suffering. The Kony 2012 video gives false answers to a terrible conflict. The best way to help Uganda is to challenge U.S. intervention and the neoliberal economic policies that devastated the continent. —Bill Crane ’12 is an Asian studies major.
What would you ban at Vassar?
“Leggings as pants.”
Rachel Glorsky ’13
“I would ban the keg ban.”
Emily Bernstein ’13
Emily Denn ’14
Maldives, U.S. can take strides against climate change with localized efforts CLIMATE continued from page 9 democratic crusader,” 02.08.12). In the end they successfully took him down, likely dealing a harsh blow to the Maldives’ climate change efforts and introducing political instability all in the interest of gaining power. Here at home President Obama may not be confronting the vengeful forces of a fallen dictator as he considers how to fight climate change, but he is facing something nearly as formidable in its undemocratic impulses, obsession with destroying its adversary and lack of interest in using science to improve humanity’s outlook: the Republican Party. Earlier this month The New Republic ran a series of articles from a variety of political commentators titled “What Should Obama Do In His Second Term?: A TNR Symposium.” Each author, assuming a victory in November, chose one priority for Obama to push with all his might. Looking through the list of articles compiled, one sees a number of worthy items (fighting for civil liberties, enacting political reform, repairing the tax code, ending the drug war, reforming entitlements, among others). In fact, most of the crucial planks of the liberal platform are on the list. What’s missing? Climate change, of course. Obama began his first term with more
on his bold legislative agenda than he could expect to get passed. The greatest casualty of his over-ambition was comprehensive federal climate change legislation. In June 2009 the House of Representatives passed a sweeping cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions by narrow margins. By April 2010 a bill to enact a similar package been proposed in the Senate. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), had support across the aisle in Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), but Graham quickly pulled out under pressure from his constituents when they became aware their GOP senator was devoting time to the climate change issue. With the threat of a now routine Republican filibuster the bill came to a swift halt and there has been virtually no progress in the last two years. Maybe, as is so characteristic of the climate change problem, legislation can only be jump-started by a good crisis. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) seems to think so; one of the originators of the House capand-trade bill, Waxman told the Center for American Progress on Monday that he believed a “confluence of events,” including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the next hike of the federal debt ceiling, may compel Congress to reconsider a tax on carbon. Until such an opportunity aris-
es, Waxman says, “we’ll have to wait and see.” Why, might you ask, am I talking about such an odd couple as the United States and the Maldives? This is where the other, more heartening truth about climate change comes in: its localness. The Maldives, with just 350,000 people, is smaller than the average American congressional district. Its population is represented by a single parliament, and its climate, geography, natural resources and economic interests lack the sheer variety that separates such states as Alaska and California. It would be fair to say that all Maldivians are in the same boat, but the same cannot be said for all Americans. The Maldives can act as a country. The United States cannot. What the United States and the Maldives have in common is the potential within smaller, geographically based units to make large strides in protecting people from climate change. They additionally share institutional roadblocks to getting the job done. Sadly for the Maldivians the obstacle they face—the machinations of the party of a dictator attempting to return to power—may prove much harder to overcome. It is telling, for example, that Nasheed’s efforts were as much about See MALDIVES on page 12
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Alec Aldrich ’15
“I’m digging the talk about bottled water.”
Joe Regan ’15
“Nacho Cheese (the street drug).”
Pam Vogel ’12 —Juliana Halpert, Photography Editor Alanna Okun, Humor & Satire Editor
Page 12 ADVERTISEMENT
March 22, 2012
Countries cannot trade environment for politics MALDIVES continued from page 9 working around his parliament to raise awareness abroad as they were internally focused. As is becoming increasingly clear, climate change must be handled as a local issue in the United States so that it can be handled at all. The country cannot, as Rep. Waxman suggested, “wait and see” if climate change emerges, phoenix-like, from the ashes a salient issue. In this sense The New Republic’s symposium seems accidentally to have acknowledged the truth that the federal government simply cannot pass a comprehensive bill to fight climate change. There are too many variables to contend with for a nation as large and diverse as ours. Opposition can come from too many sources. Even Obama’s Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, hailed as a technocratic expert when he was nominated, has succumbed to the institutional pressures of politics. Before his nomination in 2008, Chu was quoted as saying, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels of Europe,” surely as a means of boosting alternatives to fossil fuels and accounting for the negative externalities of gasoline. Flash-forward four years, and we find that Chu has walked the statement back farther than I had thought possible: “Of course we don’t want the price of gasoline to go up. We want it to go down.” Is this really what we as a nation have come to? Must we sit on our hands until a moment of crisis (as debt negotiations are now likely to routinely become, if Mitch McConnell gets his way) emerges so we can deal with an even greater, yet still unrelated crisis? Must we watch repeatedly as our policymakers abandon their expertise and convictions for the sake of politics? To be sure, the United States as a whole does not face the same existential danger from rising sea levels as does the Maldives, but there are certainly places along our coastlines that have similar cause for concern.
A recent New York Times article (“Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.,” 03.14.12) reports the results of an analysis by non-profit Climate Central, which finds that Florida, Louisiana, New York and New Jersey are some of the states most vulnerable to rises in sea water. And, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 3.7 million people live beneath the projected flood threshold. New York City has taken some preemptive steps such as moving sewage pumps to higher elevation, and has begun planning for the worst-case scenario. All other locales with dense coastal populations should do the same before they no longer can. In many of these places incentives to act have been recognized and in some cases they have been acted on at the regional and state levels. In the past decade, as federal efforts have languished, individual states and regional coalitions, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Western Climate Initiative have made successful efforts at carbon emissions reduction, renewable portfolio standards and vehicular efficiency improvements. What oppositional forces in the United States, the Maldives, and other endangered countries like it (Kiribati, for example, which is looking to move to Fiji) must understand in order for real change to happen is the sheer risk posed by climate change and the likelihood that, without action within the next few years, humanity may not be able to avoid catastrophic economic damage and loss of life. The world needs more Nasheeds, and it needs authorities like Chu not to reverse course when politically convenient. Most importantly, it needs people to recognize risk where it is greatest—in doing nothing. —Lane Kisonak ’13 is a political science major. He is Opinions Editor of the Miscellany News.
The Miscellany Crossword by Jonathan Garfinkel, Crosswords Editor ACROSS
17. Lingerie descriptor
65. 12 to Guillermo
35. Civil war gen. Cobb
19. Tie alternative,
39. Her Majesty’s Fly-
8.New deal org.
23. Golfer Ernie ___
1. Right-wing get-
11. Astrid ____, Kylie
24. Inmate, briefly
40. Academic boss
Minogue in “Dr. Who”
25. DIY pilot’s org.
41. Country house for a
27. Flyer to Schipol
well off Muscovite
3. Group against
14. Liberal comedian/
43. Buckeye sch.
talk show host Bill
29. Electronics corp.
45. Letters after many a
4. Alternative to
16. Prefix with “dy-
Gen. on TV
34. Certain bit of
46. Research funding
5. Certain account
47. Economist’s syn. for
6. Committee for
“Most Favored Nation”
48. Bo, to Obama
49. Thing often burned
52. “_______ for
Strings” (Barber com-
56. Senator Specter
57. Regretful one
22. Bergman of Casa-
31. Activity on a line,
60. Big name in Asian
city in Florida
51. Partner of 55-down
10. First 1/3 of MGM’s
53. Blood and guts
61. Facial “moods”
26. River through Flor-
35. 80’s scifi classic
54. Structural element
62. Tolkien creatures
37. Died for a cause
55. See 51-down
63. 1/3 of Q.E.D.
14. Home of the Knicks
27. Scandals (Brit.)
42. Diesel equivalent
56. Intel competitor
64. Certain Parisian
15. Mil. address type
30. Many a French
58. One to Guillermo
20. Tasty nut
48. Pick apart
59. “And so on”
Answers to last issue’s puzzle
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
HUMOR & SATIRE
March 22, 2012
Senior’s final Spring Break Letters from History, furnishes two weeks of lust vol. 1: Romance edition Tom Renjilian Columnist
here are so many things to do over Spring Break: going to the beach, getting in some extra studying (hahahahahaha) or, best of all, having a Spring Break fling! Usually I consider myself a Lone Wolf. It’s what I tell boys in the Mug who try to dance with me, before my social anxiety disorder kicks in and I pounce upon them in a fit of antisocial rage, slashing at them with my claws and tearing at their flesh with my fangs. “I warned you!” I scream, dripping with the blood of the innocent. Anyway, I never thought I would fall in love, but it finally happened. This semester, I met Roscoe. He doesn’t go to Vassar, though. (I’m over Vassar boys... could they please just grow up? Like stop posting about my allegedly “mind blowing body” on LikeALittle and just come talk to me! Please.) Anyway, Roscoe and I met at Stop and Shop, where I shop and he works because he’s still in high school. But don’t worry. He’s 19 because he got held back in kindergarten for eating too much paste. He’s an intellectual. He’s writing a fantasy novel in his spare time. Plus he’s going to school for pre-med next year, and best of all he is a Buddhist! It was love at first sight. Luckily, an unfortunate accident enabled Roscoe and I to get very close over break. Roscoe came to live at my house with me this break because I blindfolded him and told him we were just going to lunch at McDonald’s. “Where the fuck are we?” he asked. “Surprise!” I exclaimed when we got to my house. “Welcome to two weeks of lust!” I couldn’t have been more excited, so I figured I’d keep a detailed record of our vacation of passion—even when it took a turn for the worse. March 4 Just got home with Roscoe! My parents already love him, except for my dad who still hates me for being gay. Spent all day dancing to Nicki Minaj songs. Soo fun. Well, I danced, Roscoe said I was being “a weirdo.” Ugh. I NEED to help that boy find the music in himself. March 7 Cuddled all day. NBD. March 8 Cuddled all day. Still NBD, cus like, he’s my boyfriend. It’s just what we do. March 9 Thought we cuddled all day. Turns out Roscoe replaced his body with a rotisserie chicken my
mom got from the grocery store. It took me seven hours to notice because Roscoe is so small and has a great tan. Haha.
March 11 Last night me and Roscoe had our first fight. We fight about different things than normal couples because our love is so deep. I know it’s because he’s seeing someone else. I said to him, “Roscoe, why do you cry yourself to sleep every night?” And he said, “Because I don’t want to be here and my parents are probably freaking out and are going to ground me forever.” So I knew he meant, “Tom, I miss the boy I have been seeing on the side, who I love more than you.” So I said, “Roscoe, FUCK YOU. You always think about yourself. And you always cheat on me.” He slashed me across the face with his fingernails— which he NEVER cuts—and I had to get stitches. Luckily he’s in AP bio so he just did it himself. March 14 Today we watched Remember the Titans, and decided it is “our movie.” We relate to it because of the way the struggles of our relationship mirror the struggles of the civil rights movement— Roscoe being a Buddhist and me being incredibly intolerant and all. March 17 All right, this might be the last straw. Today Roscoe said he wouldn’t get me a St. Patrick’s Day present because it was “against his religion” and “not something that people do.” I got him a picture of me and my parents and carved “My New Family” into the frame with his fingernails while he slept. He’s going to be so embarrassed that he didn’t get me anything. March 18 Well, Roscoe hated the picture frame. He said, “That’s not my family! You kidnapped me!” I said, “Whatever I hate you get out of my house!” He said he never loved me. I couldn’t lie. “I still love you. Please stay,” I said. He said he would walk back to Poughkeepsie. Well, there you have it. Single again! But hey, I wasn’t looking for anything long term anyway, and I’ll never forget the two weeks Roscoe and I spent together.
o you ever feel like the advice you’re being given simply isn’t broad enough? Do you need a trusted source of ageless wisdom? Why not literally go ageless? Ask and ye shall be answered by the most thoughtful minds of time. Dear History, My boyfriend didn’t get me anything for our six-month anniversary, because he thinks showering a girl with gifts is the equivalent of chivalry, which we both see as a glorified form of the infantilization of womyn. Is there some way to explain to him that I enjoy the occasional present without compromising my gender rights? Thanks, Frustrated Feminist Dear Femme, I do not know what is this “womyn” of which you speak, but I do know a man, when he is wooing, should present the lady with compliments of ample kind. If she then refuses his favors, he is well within his rights to take her in the chamber maid’s corridors. Have you yet produced an heir? Until you do so, I believe you should be grateful you are not being tried for witchery. Royally, King Henry VIII, Tudor House Dear History, I’ve always identified as straight, but I think I’m beginning to develop feelings for my roommate. What do I do? Also does this mean I’m a lesbian? Uh oh, Lezbehonest Dear Lezbehonest, A rose once lost cannot be found. Fallen petals rot on the ground. So, too, the sweet-smelling affection will die. Have you tried making out with a guy? Forever yours, Edgar Allen Poe
and homosexual. I point out that there are plenty of respected “jays,” like Leonard Bernstein and Peaches, but he just won’t listen! How do I help him? Sincerely, The Non-Judgemental Jew Dear Non-Judgemental Jew, I can relate to your boyfriend’s problem. While being tried for espionage, I felt torn between many important ideals, like my love for my husband, my communist beliefs and the fact that I was innocent. In my experience, people will judge you and execute you for things they don’t agree with, regardless of whether or not you are guilty. My advice is to do what you believe is right regardless of mass-hysteria. If your boyfriend loves you, he will accept you (and himself) regardless. If he doesn’t love you, consider getting a competent lawyer… just in case. In my experience, most of the good ones are Jewish. Best Wishes, Ethel Rosenberg Dear History, I met this super hot girl at a party last weekend. I know her first name and that she has a mole on her right butt-cheek, but that’s it. How do I find her again? Thanks, The Bored Booty-Caller Dear Bored, Hook with every girl you meet until you find her. If you don’t find her, at least you had a lot of sex with a lot of women. Courage! Genghis Khan Dear History, I have a huuuuuge crush on my biology professor. Only problem is, he’s 64 and married to his partner, Robin. I identify as female, but I keep getting the feeling he’s kind of into me. Should I drop the class to avoid temptation? Thanks, Crushed and Calyxing
Dear History, My boyfriend and I are both Jewish, but he feels that he can’t be true to his religion
Dear Crushed, AVOID TEMPTATION AT ALL COSTS. Sincerely, Eve
Weekly Calendar: 03/22-03/28 by Alanna Okun, Humor & Satire Editor Thursday, 3/22
3 p.m. Tea. Ways to celebrate this glorious weather. Rose Parlor.
7 p.m. Guest Lecturer: Will Power. Featuring his colleagues Nomar Bacios and Donna Drunktextyourexgirlfriend. Taylor.
2 p.m. Women’s Rugby vs. Boston College. The only thing I like better than a group of strong, capable women is when they spend an afternoon beating other strong, capable women to a bruised pulp. Farm.
8 p.m. “The Secretaries.” All I remember from spelling class in first grade is that you can’t spell “secretary” without “secret,” “principal” without “pal,” or “Fruit Punch Wednesday” without “Mrs. Howes, Jonathan peed his pants again.” Shiva.
Friday, 3/23 3 p.m. Tea. Grab a couple of Express Lunches and that cute blond you’ve been LikeALittle-ing biweekly all semester and have a picnic. Show him/her/zir how strong and brave you are when you sprint to find his/her/zis Epi-pen when he/she/ze experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction to bees. Rose Parlor. 8 p.m. VCPUNX-Wordsmiths: Spring Broken. :((((((
6 p.m. Diaspora Dinner. “Sarah, this really isn’t going to work if you keep wandering away with all the appetizers.” CC MPR.
Sunday, 3/25 12 p.m. Annual Haitian Art Exhibition, Auction and Sale. Buy a painting by a Haitain orphan in order to show everyone how much you care about being seen as the kind of person who cares about Haitian orphans. Palmer Gallery.
with several noses or fingers on their fingers to balance things out around here. Rose Parlor.
Tuesday, 3/27 3 p.m. Tea. “Read” for “class” on the Quad while actually just “tanning” in your “underthings.” Rose Parlor. 7 p.m. Semester at Sea Info Session. First topic: walks of shame are way more awkward when they involve a plank. Taylor 203. 10 p.m. Trivia Night. Question #PEN15: In which circle of Hell resides the original creator of Moodle posts? Faculty Commons.
3 p.m. Tea. Convince your professor to hold class outside. Ignore all that useless prattle about Wittgenstein or women in favor of ogling your fellow students obeying the previous Tea entry. Rose Parlor.
3 p.m. Tea. Take a nice, refreshing dip in Sunset Lake. The average level of attractiveness at Vassar is suspiciously high; we could use a few more people walking around
6 p.m. Mesa de Espanol. “Como se dice ‘ingrown toenail’ y ‘disco fries’?” ACDC.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
March 22, 2012
Claflin lectures bring two visual artists to the fore Minty a creative writer and painter alike Emma Daniels Reporter
Assistant Arts Editor
o say that Dan Minty ’12 has had a busy senior year would be something of an understatement. In addition to his creative writing thesis, as part of his requirements for Senior Composition (ENGL 306) and the English major, Minty is also the editorin-chief of Helicon, Vassar’s longest-running literary magazine. Minty joined the magazine as its secretary during his freshman year, became managing editor junior year and then rose to his current position at the start of his senior year. “Writing is a lonely hobby, and I believe it’s extremely empowering for a writer to be able to read the works of their peers,” Minty wrote in an emailed statement. “Being as Helicon is Vassar’s only general literary and art magazine, it’s a unique reading experience for our students, as they can read works that deal with a wide range of topics and forms in the same place.” He is very happy to see the magazine receive such a wide range of submissions, from spoken wordto fairy tales; and he is equally thrilled over the record number of freshmen attending board meetings. He attributes the magazine’s popularity to its breadth of focus and collaborative nature. “Helicon helps create a community for the writers on campus, where they can have a place to be recognized for their work as well as a place where they can draw inspiration or enjoyment from fellow writers,” Minty wrote. “When I started with the magazine, my main goal was to bring Helicon into more contemporary times. Helicon got a Facebook page this year; we’ve been working with a cleaner and more minimalist advertising scheme. Of course, I have no control over what gets voted into the magazine [the editorial board does], but I still have plans to provide the magazine with a fresh cover, font and formatting in the coming weeks leading to publishing,” Minty wrote. For his thesis, Minty has written a long poem (over 20 pages) called “Skunk Cabbage,” and 22 shorter poems, which he has amassed into a collection called “The Tarot
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
hough Vassar’s Art Department makes a point of hosting esteemed artists, this week they have planned a special treat: two lectures by distinguished artists within a day of each other. Artists Craig Zammiello and David Humphrey will each deliver a lecture as a part of the Agnes Claflin lecture series next week. Zammiello will speak on Monday, March 26 from 6 to 7 p.m. in Taylor Hall 203. His lecture, sponsored by the Robert Lehman foundation—a prominent art foundation that has donated more than three thousand artworks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art— is entitled “Printworks: A Survey of Collaborative Projects with Contemporary Artists.” Zammiello is a Master Printer (meaning, an expert printmaker) at Two Palms Press in downtown Manhattan. Two Palms works with a number of contemporary artists to produce works in print. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art Didier William has worked with Zammiello and helped organize the lecture. “Printmaking is really somewhat of a magical medium, the possibilities of which are quite endless. Last year, I took my students to Two Palms and Craig gave them a great tour of their phenomenal space in downtown Manhattan,” William said. “This year I wanted to do something a little different and take advantage of Craig’s incredible expertise and give our students a chance to work with him directly.” Zamiello will conduct a workshop with students on-campus in addition to his lecture. Zammiello has worked in printmaking for the past 30 years. Prior to working at Two Palms, he was Master Printer and Studio Director for 25 years at Universal Limited Art Editions. Furthermore, he has exhibited his own work in the collections of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, Yale University Art Gallery and the Hoesch Museum in Duren, Germany. Recently, he authored a studio manual on photogravure, a demanding and now rarely-used method of printmaking, and soon the Yale University Art Gallery will publish his book, comprised of interviews with artists he has collaborated with over the past 15 years. In his lecture at Vassar, Zammiello will discuss the ways in which contemporary printmaking has evolved into a fluid and interdisciplinary medium, and give an overview of some the artists Two Palms has worked with and the projects they’ve collaborated on. He has collaborated with many well-regarded artists, such as Ellen Gallagher, Richard Prince and Terry Winters. Another Claflin series lecture will follow the Zamiello one. David Humphrey will deliver his lecture on Tuesday, March 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Taylor 102. Humphrey is a New York-based artist and a senior critic at the Yale School of Art who has shown his work nationally and internationally. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize. Humphrey primarily works in painting and sculpture, and his work is focused on what he calls “productive disorientation.” Interested in skewing one’s normal perceptions, Humphrey uses his art to explore the relationship between animals and people, art and people, and art and other art. Humphrey considered the relationship between words and images, and art and its viewers further in Blind Handshake, a selected anthology of his writings on art from 1989 to 2008 which he published in 2010. “David Humphrey’s paintings are inspiring reminders of painting’s ability to produce unexpected meaning out of the juxtaposition of things that shouldn’t go together,” Associate Professor of Art Laura Newman wrote in an emailed statement. “In his work he mines vernacular culture to make paintings that morph together kitsch, pop art, figure painting, americana, surrealism and even pornography. His work is funny and deeply affecting.” In his lecture, Humphrey will discuss images of selected paintings and sculptures from his portfolio, and also address one of his paintings that Vassar has on loan entitled “Frisky Horse.” “In a lot of ways, the lecture is very much an improvised presentation based around images,” Humphrey said. “There’s a million ways to cut it so I’ll probably shade it along the lines of the sociability of artworks.” Like Zammiello, Humphrey is interested in collaboration, albeit loosely defined. “I’ll emphasize collaboration: the ways a work addresses a spectator and the psychological interactions between people, like relationships or coupling,” he said.
Dan Minty ’12, pictured above, divides his creative energy between writing poetry and painting. As editor-in-chief of Helicon, he has tried to bring the literary magazine into more contemporary times.
Cycle.” “I find a real satisfaction in finishing a creative piece and knowing that I’ve created something completely unique, that it wasn’t just an analytical rehash or a set list of answers,” Minty said. “Otherwise, I write by compulsion. I’ll find a phrase that gets stuck in my mind for a few days, and it will slowly accrue a few surrounding lines before I find I have a poem to write.” He added, “I might write in part to ask people to understand why those particular phrases or images are getting stuck in my head. There’s an aspect of self-analysis and awareness that comes with writing as well: the amount I have learned about myself and the way I think whilst editing my work would be hard to quantify.” The thesis itself is near completion. Minty recently received feedback from other students in Senior Composition and has a clear sense of how to finish the poem as he moves into the final phases of revision.
A weekly space highlighting the creative pursuits of student-artists
All the poems in the Tarot Cycle section of my thesis are inspired by the various readings of the card in the Major Arcana they link to. In the case of “Hermit,” I was inspired by the concept of a man becoming so full of knowledge that he somehow becomes a source of light or the container of this knowledge rather than being a person. I wanted the talk show eccentric in the beginning of the piece to highlight the loneliness/ otherness of being the one who has found knowledge. Sometimes it hurts to be right, though it’s more often that I think I am and I’m not. —Dan Minty ’12
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In addition to creative writing, painting is another one of Minty’s interests. He had been drawing for quite some time (since elementary school), but it wasn’t until Minty came to Vassar that he gave painting a try. He wrote, “[Painting has] become a significant outlet for me, by now. Painting is very refreshing in that one can both be exponentially more specific or exponentially more vague and provide the some of the same effects of a poem, but it often doesn’t when it’s somewhere strangely between the abstract and the concrete. You have to make decisions in a painting, and all of them are big.” And while creative writing and painting do have their differences, Minty has found similarities between the two: “I definitely cover some of the same topics in both, and the abstract placement of colors is not all that different than a poem’s being an organization of images. Both rely on a collection of strange parts to create an effective whole.”
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March 22 , 2012
Saxon jazzes up VC Dance Department with music focus Jack Owen
Assistant Arts Editor
djunct Instructor in Dance Abby Saxon did not always plan to be a professional dancer and teacher. While at the University of Rochester, Saxon first studied Art History. Only later did she decide to create a Dance major for herself at Rochester. “They didn’t offer a Dance major at Rochester, and have only recently started a Dance minor,” Saxon said. “I loved studying Art History, but it just became more and more apparent that dance was something I needed to focus on too.” Saxon went on to work with the New Dance Group Studio in Manhattan, and she received a scholarship to obtain a Masters in Arts in Dance and Dance Education at New York University. “Studying at NYU introduced me to a lot of people in the New York City dance world, particularly in modern dance,” Saxon said. These contacts helped her shape her own style of dance—Saxon specializes in jazz now, and her experties lies in modern dance—and develop her career. During her years as a professional dancer in New York, she most notably danced with Jazzdance: The Danny Buraczeski Dance Company, a leading innovator in contemporary dance in its day. Saxon performed in venues all over the country with Jazzdance, including Jacob’s Pillow and The Joyce Theater. Saxon also gained life-changing inspiration and direction from Danny Buraczeski, the company’s choreographer. Before Jazzdance, Saxon had minimal experience with jazz dancing, but with Buraczeski’s mentorship, she developed a strong passion for it. “Danny has been the biggest influence on the style I teach and what I love to give to students,” said Saxon. “The musicality with which Danny choreographs is something I strive to incorporate in my work, both in class and when I choreograph a full piece.” Saxon has been teaching jazz dance at Vassar for over fifteen years now, and she teaches dance aerobics at IXL Fitness in Rhinebeck. Saxon focuses on inspiration from the music itself before the actual dance. “I like to create visual music. That’s what inspires me. And the music is really my inspiration before the dance,”
she said. Saxon uses the feelings and rhythms invoked by a song to choreograph, a technique she learned from Buraczeski. “To visualize an amazing piece of music is something that I really want to pass onto my students, because I feel that it’s a thrill and a natural way to bring out all your inner beauty, passion, and joy,” she explained. In turn, emphasis on musicality allows Saxon to use many isolations in her classes to highlight every accent within a song. Isolations are movements of specific body parts rather than movement of the body as a whole. According to Saxon, highlighting each accent in a song with an isolation causes one to more fully visualize a musical piece. Attendees of Vassar Repertory Dance Theater’s (VRDT) 30th annual Bardavon Gala in February saw Saxon’s choreography firsthand. “The piece I did this year was just about one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever created,” she said. The piece was titled Voodoo Rendezvous, and Saxon used the musical score of the animated film “The Triplets of Belleville.” Saxon co-choreographed the piece with Martha Ross ’83. Ross was a student at Saxon’s Rhinebeck class, and the two have co-choreographing for years. “In the film there are these three older women who at one time had been performers, and even though they are old and decrepit, they still have all their talent in them,” Saxon said. The piece, which had many comedic elements, was abstractly based on the energy and movement of these three women. “I thought that it would be hard for these young dancers to understand what it may feel like to be a performer past her prime, but the kids took it and went with it. They went beyond my expectations, with both their technique and stage presence,” she said. Saxon says that she loves teaching at Vassar because of the students’ high caliber, and that no student should be apprehensive to take a dance class, even if beginning. “I feel that beginners can master that ability to express themselves through movement,” she said. “I want students to leave my classes feeling uplifted, because there are not many things you can do in life that are completely in the moment, and dance is emotionally and physically in the moment.”
Exhibition celebrates launch of Mapping Gothic France GOTHIC continued from page 1 how authors and artists have described Gothic architecture over time. This is most evident in the left wall’s chronological depiction of the facade of Amiens Cathedral. Narrative refers to the stories and essays behind understanding Gothic architecture, most evident in the landing’s Vassar artifacts. These same three principles form the basis for Mapping Gothic France, the four-year project behind this exhibition. “Space, Time and Narrative” is intended to mark the public launch of this project’s website, which makes available online images, panoramas and historical background on 12th- and 13thcentury Gothic architecture throughout France. “It’s a way of telling the story of the Gothic in a non-linear way. There are lots of books on Gothic architecture, but it doesn’t fit well into a book,” Tallon explained. “It’s a spatial database, you could say.” In addition to visual media, Mapping Gothic France will feature essays and writings on Gothic architecture. Visitors to Mapping Gothic France’s website can manipulate and move about three-dimensional immersive panoramas. Some of its panoramas are even of views ordinarily inaccessible to the wider public. For example, one panorama is from the second floor of a Gothic cathedral. “[It’s] an absolutely extraordinary image,” Tallon said. “An image you couldn’t possibly get.” The Mapping Gothic France project has been years in the making. Tallon regularly made trips to France to record and photograph the data necessary for the project, and also worked with Columbia University’s Professor of Medieval Art History Stephen Murray, his former teacher and current col-
league. Each year Tallon went, two students could travel with him. Ani Kodzhabasheva ’12 is one such student; she worked with Tallon in brainstorming the “Space, Time and Narrative” exhibition. “She’s really the assistant curator,” Tallon explained. Alongside each subject in the exhibition is the requisite placard describing and informing its subject. These labels were written by Kodzhabasheva and other students from Tallon’s seminar on the subject of Gothic architecture. The labels will also have QR codes on them to direct students to further details through more interactive, three-dimensional panoramas. The seminar students will also contribute information to the Mapping Gothic France website. Beyond the labels, the exhibition will also feature six panels of text. Tallon wished to pay tribute to the tradition of writing on Gothic architecture. “People learned about Gothic through words,” Tallon said. “We didn’t want to drown them out by doing all this high tech stuff…because you need words.” On Thursday, March 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. a preview and reception for “Space, Time and Narrative” will take place. Vassar Camerata will perform selections of music by Machaut and de la Halle. Tallon’s seminar students will also be placed around the FLAAC to speak to the Gothic subject matters for students. “I’ve been obsessed with Gothic architecture since I was a teenager,” Kodzhabasheva said. “If you’ve been in a building, you know. It’s soaring. It has a physical effect on you. If you look at it from the outside it almost crushes you…and then you go inside. It’s this big lightness. It’s exactly the opposite. You can’t stop looking up.”
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March 22, 2012
Playwright Bracho brings self, play to VC student body Matthew Hauptman Assistant Arts Editor
Courtesy of UC Santa Barbara
ontemporary playwright Richard Bracho is political and in-your-face. Assistant Professor of English Hiram Perez has a few words to describe his oeuvre too: “Provocative, daring, funny, sexy.” And on March 23 at 8 p.m. in Sanders 212 there will be a staged reading of his recent work, “Puto.” Even better, Bracho himself will attend, and students will have the chance to discuss his career and his work before and after the reading. Dramaturg for “Puto” David Lopez ’13 helped organize the event. “[Bracho’s] visit helps everyone involved have a better understanding of the play and his own ideas and inspirations,” Lopez wrote in an emailed statement. “That kind of insight and ability to have face-to-face contact is immeasurable.” Bracho’s career as a playwright effectively began in 1997 when he received funding for the world premiere of his first play, “The Sweetest Hangover.” The Creative Work Fund of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund awarded him money for a script that was, at that point, only 10 pages long. “I wanted to write about the relentless yet ephemeral, illicit cultures of urban gay men of color, about being young and sexual and an intellectual and politicking within and between the club, theory and the street,” Bracho wrote in an emailed statement. “I wanted to write about what it meant to lose a generation of us, to shade the AIDS pandemic with our anger and sass. To put a beat to it.” Bracho added, “In short, I was trying to figure out what it meant to be, or try to be, a legendary child of the life in the ’90s and the economies and crises that produced these particular brown and black children and their wondrous vernaculars.” Bracho takes great pride in the political consciousness that informs his playwriting,
and the plays themselves have resonated with audiences precisely because of their political acuity. But the political dynamism of Bracho’s work also marks its complexity. As Lopez explained, “I do not wish to confine Bracho’s work as queer-driven or Latino-centric or any narrow definition that reduces his work. Many of Bracho’s characters are humorous, some variation of queer and Latino that are placed in a setting that could be a dark dystopia or maybe even just ‘normal,’ whatever that is.” “Puto” is a prime example of Bracho’s interest in dystopia. The play is set just five years in the future and offers what one might call a parallel reality to the turbulent present. Set in Los Angeles, “Puto” addresses topical themes that range from state violence to post-colonialism, global capitalism and queer politics. Bracho was inspired to write “Puto” after his disappointment at witnessing the second May Day March—a rally demanding amnesty for illegal immigrants—in downtown L.A. go horribly wrong. “The crowd downtown was small, all with American flags in hand, doing the wave and eating bacon-wrapped hot dogs,” Bracho wrote. “Later that night, cops in riot gear descended on protesters and journalists and MacArthur Park’s browns with stupid force. Images of L.A.’s most brutal, in their newest paramilitary gear, mixed with my critique of the demo which to my politics demonstrated little to no criticality or collectivity, [are what] produced ‘Puto.’” Bracho’s political activism is hardly limited to his plays. He has worked extensively for public health and with prominent national organizations like National Latina/o Lesbian and Gay Organization and The H.I.P. H.O.P. Project (Health in Prison/Health Outta Prison). “I hope my career is marked by a commitment to left cultural and intellectual production, a furtherance of the anti-linear trajec-
Playwright Richard Bracho, pictured above, will visit campus on March 23 in conjunction with a staged reading of his recent work, “Puto.” The play is set in Los Angeles in a dystopian near future.
tories of gay liberation and decolonization, resonant with progressive arts and politics of the global south,” Bracho wrote. Perez expects the activist spirit in Bracho’s work to resonate powerfully with students who attend the staged reading. “I hope students take away that there is a variety of ways to pursue a career in the arts and that it is possible to develop one’s political commitments into organizing, activism and creative work; it’s not an either/or type of situation,” Perez wrote in an emailed statement. Lopez hopes that “Puto” will deepen students’ understandings of queer identity, Latina/o identity and the racial politics of Los
Angeles life. “By creating a world where the majority of the characters are queer and Latino, I hope students take away an idea of a different LA— uncoupled from the norms we assume and packed with the issues of queer identity, immigration, California’s prison industrial complex and militant activism,” Lopez wrote. Bracho looks forward to his visit and is quite curious to see how students will receive “Puto.” He urges students to be open to the play’s countless facets and to avoid pinpointing the play. As Bracho put it, “I don’t have any overarching message in the play, other than to say I mean every word of it.”
‘The Secretaries’ a dark satire on modern femininity Idlewild ensemble performs controversial, absurd play Nicole Wong
Courtesy of Mia Fermindoza
he Secretaries” is an utterly absurd play. If you had any doubts, director Catherine Ramirez ’13 will allay them: “I would best describe the play as an absurdist-70s-horrormovie-lesbian-romp-fest-party-rager,” she wrote in an emailed statement. Written by theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, “The Secretaries” has come to Vassar and will be performed by Idlewild Theatre Ensemble, Vassar’s collaborative female theater group. A play about a murderous cult of seemingly innocent secretaries, “The Secretaries” tackles issues of violence and control while examining how women often enforce the ideals behind sexism. Idlewild will perform the production on Thursday, March 22 at 8 p.m., Friday, March 23 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, March 24 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The play tells the story of five secretaries working for Cooney Lumber Mill in Big Bone, Ore. who experience and enforce societal pressures to be thin, sexy and feminine. This dark satire employs many methods of exaggeration in order to strengthen the archetypes that these women represent, and to discuss enforced, preconceived and sexist expectations of women. “The script is hilarious. It is whimsical, nonsensical and sometimes downright ugly. While the issues being presented are absolutely real, the play does a great job of getting us to laugh at what is the most disturbing,” Akari Anderson ’13, an actress in the production, wrote in an emailed statement. The pressure these women experience ultimately pushes them to extremes that are both hilarious and disturbing. Told in flashback by the newest member of the secretarial pool, Patty Johnson (played by Grace Ashford ’14) goes over her own initiation into the cult-like atmosphere of the office, and her experience dealing with her new co-workers: a sexually harassing boss, a jealous brown-noser, an office lesbian and a compulsive eater. Her career experience is unlike any other when she also discovers the office’s obses-
sion with sex, weight loss, murder, chainsaws, bloodstains and lumberjacks. “The play addresses how feminism can be simultaneously promoted and squashed within the female community by addressing issues of sex, diet, control and violence,” Ramirez stated. Idlewild did not perform the show three years ago due to the obvious difficulty of performing a play that showcases some truly absurd and disturbing stereotypes, but decided to take it up again for their spring semester production. “We had attempted to put up the show once before, but due to the show’s intense content, had to put it on the backburner,” Ramirez explained. “Since then, the show has been on our minds—not as a failure that needs to be revenged—but as an important piece of theatre that addresses contemporary issues through a unique absurdist lens. We wanted to do a comedy that wasn’t all fluff and provided a challenge both for designers and actors.” “We read the play together and we decided it was really something that we wanted to tackle,” Anderson said. “After reading this play, we were immediately drawn to the farcical nature of it, and how the play aggressively tackles issues of violence and control against women.” Anderson continued, “It’s a really hard play. It makes you feel sick sometimes. It’s really disturbing. And we have to remind ourselves that it’s a comedy for a reason. Getting people to laugh at what is the most poignant is really important.” Samantha Garcia ’13, the production manager and set designer, added, “The laughter also helps because these are really dark things and it serves as comic relief. It’s supposed to be so ridiculous so that you can see that it’s so ridiculous in its natural state and not just its comedic state.” Anderson wrote of the play’s relationship with our own world, “Everything about the production is exaggerated, and you can expect to see plenty of blood, sex, chainsaws and Slim Fast in this truly absurd play. But within the realm of absurdity, I think you’ll also see a
Members of Idlewild Theatre Ensemble rehearse for “The Secretaries,” written by theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers. The troupe will perform the play this Thursday through Saturday in the Shiva Theater. world closer to our own than we would want to admit.” Addressing the play’s realism and resonance, she wrote, “We simply want our audience to think about what makes these women act the way that they do.” “This is a show that takes joy in not only tackling issues, but throwing the issues in the audience’s face in the least subtle, most fearless ways possible, and in this fearlessness the audience as well as the performers can find the fun and joy in the play,” wrote Ramirez. “This play is perfect for the Vassar community, who want to look at something with a critical eye, and confront why the play is so disturbing, violent or funny,” wrote Anderson. “I think that this play will produce many different reactions. It might upset some people. Some people might think it’s purely a comedy. But either way, it’s a conversation starter and I think it’s important that we put it on and don’t apologize for it. It is what it is.”
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Ramirez believed the play’s themes were especially relevant today. “I mean we’re living in a time where movies like Mean Girls definitely get at the idea that these 1950s and 1970s ideals are being perpetuated by a female community,” she said. “Not only by these younger, pettier girls, but that the ideals live through age as an experience. I just think it’s a really necessary thing to see, especially on a campus like Vassar’s that is so conscious of feminism.” Added Ramirez, “I think the really necessary part is the absurdist elements of the play. In these absurdist elements, I think what’s really important for the audience is that you connect to these absurdist elements and you find these moments where you relate to the characters even though these situations are completely absurd.” “That’s what makes it a very necessary play to put it up. And really a unique experience as well. It’s a really fun play. I love it,” Ramirez concluded.
March 22 , 2012
Separation an englightening masterpiece Yen Nguyen
A Separation Asghar Farhadi [Sony Pictures Classic]
fter months of prodding, my editor finally gave in and let me pick something interesting to review. “Shut up,” I’ll pretend he said. “Watch this movie with subtitles from Iran,” he continued, in my imagination. Luckily for me, the track record for foreign movies that win Academy Awards is pretty good; you’re basically guaranteed something at least halfway interesting. Oversimplification aside, foreign films are one of the major ways in which Americans are exposed to a world outside of our own: the rest of it. Products of far-flung national cinemas can highlight the depth of cultural richness to be found in places most Americans would never even consider visiting. For Iran, a country we consider to be more alien than not, something like A Separation can explain just the opposite; we’ve got too much in common to not understand each other. While the people in power bicker amongst themselves about how irreparably different we all are, the everyday people have to deal with all of the same, universal issues of life. Once in a very long while, you’ll come across a movie that is absolutely perfect. A Separation is perfect. Nader (Payman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) are in the process of pursuing a divorce brought on by a difference of ideals. Both of them
love and respect the other, but have different ideas when it comes to raising their pre-teen daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). Simin wants the family to move abroad. She believes that Iran is a caustic environment for a modern lifestyle, which cannot deal in absolutes. Nader wants to stay and care for his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Besides, he believes that Iran is the perfect environment to find strength in an otherwise cautious modern lifestyle based on endless compromise. The film begins with Simin moving out of their apartment, but to say that the movie is only about their divorce would be a disservice to how far director Asghar Farhadi delves into Iranian culture. To accommodate for the departure of a family member, Nader hires a lower-class woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat), to come everyday as a nurse for his father. She has not asked permission from her husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), to work outside the house. As the father’s condition worsens, conflicts across both families ignite. While this is not a movie about earth-shattering events or an epic struggle, it is still about big things. Farhadi’s screenplay is flawlessly constructed while still conveying a full emotional resonance rarely found in any film. The entire ensemble is run through the ringer as they have to balance truth and lies in order to keep their lives intact. Nader and Simin’s family approach their problems with an open mind and a powerful idealism while Razieh and Hodjat seem to argue with volume and violence. However, as the scales of culpability shift back and forth, it is Nader and Simin that come off as prejudiced and confused while
Razieh and Hodjat reveal themselves to be passionate and perservering. They are honestly responding to their crisis, while our protagonists continue to show the disingenuousness that modernity fosters. It is to Farhadi’s credit that for each situation in which he traps his characters, they find telling a lie just as hard as telling the truth. His control over the pacing and the tone of the film creates an amazing story to watch unfold. It is also remarkably impressive that the entire cast is able to give such powerful performances without confusing even the slightest detail of Farhadi’s story. As the characters all fall apart in their own ways, the actors maintain the delicate balance between this half of their characters while communicating the unique portion of each that wants to at least keep their families together. The film focuses most on the father-daughter relationship between Nader and Termeh, but the presence of every other character can be felt through the way each person dances around the ideas of guilt and reconciliation. They continually delay the resolution of painful conflicts in order to keep a growing list of misunderstandings from coming to light. These people are cursed with thinking too much. Farhadi’s masterpiece is as much about the schism in Iranian culture as it is about any other. It seems inevitable that the people of any nation will be split between tradition and modernity, even though they all draw their strength from different facets of the same national pride. Farhadi leaves us with one hopeful idea— if our generation cannot reconcile such differences, it is our job to raise our children to be more understanding than we are.
“A globalization paper.”
Roman Kopit, Language Fellow
“Hunger Games fanfiction.”
Brittany Hunt ’12
VCPunx and Wordsmiths collaborate Mary Huber Senior Editor
Lauren Huang ’15
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
t may surprise readers to hear that Wordsmiths and VCPunx, though two organizations with a similar aesthetic and focus on students’ creative endeavors, have never worked together to plan an event. But the groups will collaborate for the very first time tomorrow with “VCPunx and Wordsmiths Present Some Soundings,” a show that combines music and spoken word poetry. Wordsmiths members will perform poetry between performances by the bands Zombi Jazz, (Deer Slosher and) The Killer Sting, Plankton and Simulacra. The show will take place at 8 p.m. in the Villard Room on Friday, March 23. Like many of the events both groups organize, the show is marked by spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment origin and little planning. “To be totally honest, Jordan [Kaye], who’s a member of VCPunx and leader of Wordsmiths, booked a space and told us, ‘Hey, we’ve got an event,’” said VCPunx leader Zebulon Wimsatt ’14 of the show’s inception. Wimsatt booked the bands that will play. Wordsmiths leader Jordan Kaye ’12 explained in an emailed statement the spoken-word segment. “Anyone in the group (or on our email list) interested in performing is given a specified time slot, usually about five to seven minutes,” Kaye said. “For this event, the spoken word/poetry segment of the show will be interspersed between each band’s set.” “We hope to achieve a smooth segue back and forth between music and poetry,” Kaye said. “Anyone interested in performing poetry, etc. on Friday is invited to contact me at email@example.com.” Kaye outlined a sweeping creative vision for the show, beyond standard concert fare. “By meshing spoken word ‘virulent verse’ with live music, we hope to achieve some level of creative symbiosis—a multi-format forum for DIY expression and dissemination. In any case, the show should be an aurally arresting time,” he stated. ‘“Virulent verse’ is a phrase I coined a couple of years ago that denotes poetry with a particularly subversive, abrasive, punk-rock origin, mentality and cadence,” Kaye clarified. Kaye described the upcoming music acts. “Most of [the bands] can be loosely de-
“An essay for my geography class on colonialism in Antigua.”
Ben Parra ’15
“A paper on Indian modalities.”
Co-Presidents of VCPunx Zebulon Wimsatt ’14 (left) and Jonathan Gorman ’14 (right) preside over a meeting of the group in the Bike Shop. VCPunx is collaborating with Wordsmiths for a show. fined within the free jazz-psych-avant garde genres,” Kaye said. The exception was the Killer Sting, who explained in an emailed statement, “We play country- and blues-influenced music with non-traditional instrumentation.” Zombi Jazz member Michael Foster described the band’s performance style in an emailed statement. “There’s a spontaneous mix of free improvisation, compositions, ‘standards,’ meltdowns, samples and whatever else,” Foster wrote. Foster explained the band also utilizes toys, miscellaneous objects and small percussion, not just traditional instruments like the trumpet, trombone, violin and electronics. Despite the fact that Wordsmiths and VCPunx present different types of performance to the public, the organizers saw their collaboration as a natural development. “The two organizations share a similar focus on student projects and creative endeavors,” wrote Kaye. “Most Wordsmiths events are open mics, which invite all campus members to perform poetry, music, or pretty much anything. In the same vein,
VCPunx caters to student bands and all local DIY groups looking for a rollicking musical outlet.” The organizers originally considered a showcase of only Vassar bands, but quickly decided against it. “What deters us from doing that is that a lot of Vassar bands already get a fair amount of play,” said Wimsatt. VCPunx has connections with bands all over the Hudson Valley eager to play at Vassar. “We had all these [non-Vassar] bands emailing asking for a show, so I figured, ‘Why not give it to them, since they’re already asking,’” said Wimsatt. Most of the bands also have ties to Bard College, though they have a wide array of experiences. “This is our first time playing at a college that wasn’t our own. We’ve played bars, churches, house parties, ‘jizz clubs,’ ‘avant-garde spaces,’ DIY spaces, etc. … We’ve also played a memorial service,” stated Foster of Zombi Jazz. “I’ve heard all of these bands before (some on multiple occasions) and can assure you they’re all great, creative, different and definitely not boring,” Foster concluded.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Faraz Salahuddin ’15
“I should be writing a paper on miners’ relationship to the devil.”
Kristin Regler ’12
—Adam Buchsbaum Arts Editor
March 22, 2012
Unexpected Student-run blog Off the Bench an outlet turn in Tebow for Vassar, national baseball enthusiasts narrative Andy Marmer Sports Editor
Andy Sussman Columnist
tarted in February 2011 by co-founders Sean Morash ’13, an outfielder on the Vassar baseball team, and Max Frankel ’13, a left-handed pitcher, baseball blog Off the Bench provides deep professional baseball analysis in an accessible manner. Their work has been receiving attention both locally and nationally. “The tagline is ‘a mostly baseball blog,’” Morash explained. Frankel and Morash were first inspired to start a blog by Dan Berkowitz ’11, a pitcher on the team their freshmen year. “He had a blog [MLB Babble] that was quite successful [that no longer exists],” noted Frankel. Morash added, “It was something we had kicked around for awhile and thought we were going to be good at because we thought we knew a lot about baseball.” Since Frankel already had a domain name, the two could get started on their project immediately, with no added costs. “When we look at our diagnostics and see who is reading the site, it’s people in Poughkeepsie— it’s people from Vassar,” noted Morash. The two of them estimate that they consistently receive 200 hits in a given day, with their more popular articles spiking into the thousands. They pointed out that rankings (for instance, “Ranking the Current MLB Managers” from Jan. 16.) in particular earn a lot of attention. Vassar students are not the only ones reading, though. Frankel elaborated that other bloggers read their site, looking for networking opportunities and ideas. Readers can find Off The Bench not only on their personal website, but also on a national media outlet. “We’re syndicated on Fox Sports’ blog arm, which is called Yardbarker, so all the stuff we write is published there and that has a very wide readership,” said Frankel. Overall, he described the blog’s readership as consisting of fans of the blog as well as individuals interested in particular subjects such as teams or players. “It’s people
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
Max Frankel ’13 (left) and Sean Morash ’13 (right) look over their blog content. The two juniors and athletes founded the blog in February 2011 after being inspired by teammate Dan Berkowitz ’11.
who are interested in something more general and then get funneled to us, but also people who follow us specifically,” he said. While Frankel and Morash author the lion’s share of the blog’s content, they also welcome and receive contributions. Morash commented, “Something that we do all the time is if someone we know has an idea for something we’ll say, ‘Hey write it, we’ll read it, we’ll publish it,’ and that’s a lot of fun for people.” Two such contributors are Assistant Baseball Coach Andy Kiriakedes and pitcher Zander Mrlik ’13. Frankel and Morash’s teammates are also frequent readers. “I think other guys on the team… are our biggest fans,” commented Morash. The team has proved a source of ideas for the duo.
Explained Frankel, “When you’re around baseball players, playing baseball, you talk baseball.” Continued Frankel, “The blog has given us a good base of knowledge to discuss topical things in baseball amongst our teammates. Our teammates come to us as authorities because we spend so much time researching and writing and thinking about it.” While the two haven’t decided what the longterm future holds for Off the Bench, they plan to continue blogging until they graduate in 2013 and evaluate their options at that point. In the meantime, though, they will continue to write about Major League Baseball. Until Opening Day, April 6, the two will post previews of each team, one a day for 30 days, as part of their 30 previews in 30 days series.
With an even record, women’s lacrosse returns from Spring Break road trip Jesse Hartmen
ith Judy Finerghty returning for her 18th season as the head coach and a roster loaded with talent from freshmen to seniors, the 2012 Vassar women’s lacrosse team looks poised to make another run as incredible as the 2007 season which yielded a 12-5 record and Liberty League Coach of the Year honors for Finerghty. The Brewers are led by three senior captains: Maura McCarthy ’12 at attack, Austin Gitomer ’12 at defense and Heather Kesselman ’12 in goal, as well as a bevy of players that round out the impressive 28-person roster. This year’s campaign began with three games away from the friendly confines of Vassar College, as the team headed down to West Palm Beach, Fla. for Spring Break to kickoff the season. The Brewers have started this season strongly and gained a 2-0 record with wins over Wittenberg University and Bridgewater State College. In the first victory, both the Brewers’ mental toughness and bench depth were on display in the 18-13 come-from-behind victory. Captain McCarthy and Dara Davis ’15 each notched hat tricks and Marissa Reilly ’13 scored four goals to help the team overcome an early 6-3 deficit. Depth amongst all the classes continued to be shown as Phoebe Tzannes ’14 provided strong defense and Katherine Pula ’15 relieved goalkeeper Kesselman and played the final 46 minutes to earn the victory. The second game proved to be an easier victory for the Brewers, as eight different players appeared on the score sheet en route to a 17-6 defeat of Bridgewater State. Reilly and Davis again notched hat tricks, as did Emma Carter ’14. Davis also recorded two assists to continue her strong start to the season. The final game in the Sunshine State for the Brewers led to the team’s first defeat, as the squad was downed by a strong St. John Fisher
Courtesy of Vassar Athletics
n Monday afternoon, legendary quarterback Peyton Manning rocked the NFL world by telling his agent to negotiate a contract with the Denver Broncos. The next day, the Broncos held a press conference to announce they officially signed Manning to a five-year contract worth up to $96 million. Since Manning will be 36 years old by the start of the 2012 season and he missed all of last season due to multiple neck surgeries, this signing is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward. And while there are limitless storylines about how Peyton Manning’s arrival will affect Denver, I am most intrigued by how this whole situation impacts Tim Tebow. Last season, “Tebow Time” was one of the rare instances in which an athlete transcends sports. In a season where quarterbacks threw for record numbers across the league, it was the quarterback who nearly always ran that received the most attention. Everyone had an opinion about Tebow, whether he or she was a sports fan or not. Now we know for sure what Broncos Hall-of-Fame quarterback-turned-executive John Elway thinks about him as well: that Tim Tebow is not a starting-caliber quarterback. Now that Tebow will either be relegated to the Broncos’ bench or traded, I can safely say that never in my life have I witnessed this type of scenario. Let’s say that I pitched you a movie that went as follows: a hard-working, deeply religious quarterback, who had succeeded in all previous levels in which he had played even though nobody believed in him, kept winning at the highest level. Despite his skeptics, he quarterbacked a team that went from one of the worst in the league to one that won a game in the playoffs. So far, this doesn’t sound so far-fetched. However, what if I said that the movie ended with this quarterback, revered for his high character, getting flat-out rejected by his own front office in favor of a bigger-name player? This is the key: Tebow’s story mirrors sports movies such as Rookie of the Year and Little Big League…until the end. Tebow does not get to retire into the sunset, for everyone to remember his glory, something that Elway himself was able to do when he won the Super Bowl in his final two seasons. Instead, Tebow gets replaced, and even worse, everyone who rooted for him last year in Denver has no qualms about it whatsoever. I am not insinuating that the fans or the Broncos’ management are wrong for signing Manning, who when healthy has been one of the single greatest quarterbacks of all time. Rather, Tebow’s predicament fascinates me simply because, by choice, Elway and his employees have ended their own feelgood story. From my point of view, Tebow inevitably will be traded: how can Denver keep him just so he can hold a clipboard? After all, he will only be entering his third NFL season, and as a quarterback who showed a propensity for winning, whether it was truly to his credit or not, he will be desired by several smaller-market teams in need of both a quarterback and an attendance draw. Indeed, for the sake of Tim Tebow’s legend, he must be traded. Teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins are desperately looking for success on and off the field. Wouldn’t having Tebow not only compete for the starting quarterback position, but also further endear the team to its fans be a no-brainer decision? Since Denver has no true incentive to keep him, the asking price will most likely be fairly low. People consistently perceive the NFL to take precedence over any individual player. That may be true, but no one challenges that perception as much as Tim Tebow does. For him to sit on the bench for an organization that does not have faith in his quarterbacking abilities would do both the NFL and its fans a disservice. I don’t want this story to end with a thud, and neither do you. It’s time for a sequel that actually lives up to expectations.
Elizabeth Feltch ’12, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, fights for the ball against a recent opponent. After achieving an even record in games over Spring Break, the Brewers are ready for league play. College side, 20-9. Although the Brewers had whittled the Cardinals’ lead to 5-4 in a tightly contested first half, the Cardinals tallied nine of the game’s next 10 goals to put the game away. Carter again contributed three goals in the losing effort. Overall, Kesselman was satisfied with the trip, feeling it provided a good start to the campaign.“The team has performed phenomenally in our first few games and it definitely bodes well for the rest of the season. It has given us confidence and the drive to work harder,” she said. Still, Kesselman has kept her eyes set on a grander prize. “The Liberty League is wide open this year and we have the talent and numbers to make the Liberty League playoffs.” The Brewers returned to New York to face
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the Red Dragons of State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta on March 16, where they suffered a close 14-13 loss in another game away from Poughkeepsie. Trailing 14-11, the Brewers were able to pull within one with less than a minute remaining, but they were unable to complete the comeback. The Brewers were able to overcome 6-4 and 9-6 deficits to tie the game at 10-10 late, but the Red Dragons were able to pull out the victory. The Brewers look to build off their .500 start as they begin Liberty League play on March 30 against William Smith College and a March 31 tilt against Union College. The Brewers finally return to Weinberg Field on April 4 with a nonleague game against SUNY New Paltz, ending a strenuous string of six straight games away from home for Vassar to start the season.
March 22, 2012
Women’s bball earns second trip to NCAA tournament Captains Parks, Matsuoka lead team to league title
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
BBALL continued from page 1 a two-point lead—in what turned out to be the last field goal the team made in the game. But Vassar consistently managed to get to the free throw line and didn’t miss when it counted most; Captain Cydni Matsuoka ’14, Hannah Senftleber ’14 and Colleen O’Connell ’15 combined to convert 11 straight free throw attempts in the last four minutes of play to secure the victory. Captain Brittany Parks ’12 explained what the team’s mindset was like in this most crucial of games. “Our team was very focused and poised,” the guard wrote in an emailed statement. “Towards the end of the game, we never faltered and felt that the game was ours to win.” Matsuoka was named the Championship Most Valuable Player, leading the Brewers with a gamehigh 20 points. She was also named to the Liberty League First Team and the D3Hoops.com All-East Region Second Team. Individual accolades come second, however, to the team’s performance in Matsuoka’s eyes. “Had we lost, I don’t think I would have deserved those awards,” she wrote. Tempora and Senftleber added 13 points apiece, while Parks and O’Connell each contributed 11. The Brewers qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships, where they lost in the first round to No. 20 nationally ranked Lebanon Valley College, 73-68. The momentous victory over St. Lawrence marked Vassar’s 18th win of the season, a new program-best after their record-setting 16-12 finish last year. The second conference title reaffirms Vassar’s status as a perennial threat atop the Liberty League. Parks reflected on the changes she’s seen over her four years as a Brewer. “During my first two years at Vassar, our team was simply determined to win a certain number of games during Liberty League play,” she wrote. “So, the fact that we were able to win the Liberty League tournament [by my junior year] is truly remarkable and is a testimony to all of the hard work we have put in as a team.” She added that the program’s reputation has benefitted as a result. “Now, we have high school basketball play-
Nyah Berg ’15, a guard on the women’s basketball team, defends the ball from a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute opponent. Winning the match 56-51 helped the Brewers secure their Liberty League title. ers calling and inquiring about Vassar before our coaches even have to go out recruiting—our success during the season really speaks for itself.” The team’s steady turnaround—over the past four seasons, the Brewers increased their win total from four to nine to 16 to 18—has involved plenty of new faces. Head Coach Candice Brown now has two Liberty League titles to her credit in three years at the helm, while Matsuoka and fellow sophomores Senftleber and Jarae Farrell have only experienced championship success during their collegiate basketball careers. Mat-
suoka expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to participate in the team’s ascension. “I honestly didn’t really know what to expect coming in as freshman,” she wrote. “But I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of a lot of firsts for this program.” O’Connell recalled getting a sense of the team’s heightened standards at the beginning of this year. “I think that the coaching staff and returning players made it clear to the freshman class that winning a championship was expected after the previous season’s success,” the forward wrote in
an emailed statement. O’Connell was honored as the Liberty League Co-Rookie of the Year and the D3Hoops.com All-East Region Rookie of the Year after finishing her freshman season averaging 8.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. O’Connell is one of six freshman on the Brewers’ roster, highlighting the youthful presence the team has consistently maintained over the past few seasons. But with their season now over, the Brewers have to say goodbye to seniors Parks and Tempora. Parks, a three-time captain, broke the program’s scoring record earlier this season and finishes with 1582 points in her fouryear career. Tempora, co-Captain of the 20092010 team, played for three seasons and finishes with 755 career points. Parks expressed great satisfaction with her final year in burgundy and gray. “I could not have asked for a better last season, individual records aside,” she wrote. “As a team, I am so proud that we were able to win the championship again, especially when we were fighting to even make it into the playoffs.” With Parks leaving, Matsuoka looks to build off of what her co-leader in the backcourt accomplished. “I look up to Brittany, whether she knows it or not,” she wrote. “It’s amazing to see what she has done for this program … Hopefully I will be able to pick up where she left off.” Though saying goodbye is always difficult, the remaining players believe they have a bright future ahead of them. This run of championship success appears to have helped instill a sense of confidence. Matsuoka wrote, “Looking ahead, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to exceed what we’ve done so far. We have the experience and the talent to do so. It is important that we keep that fight and desire to win within us every year because that’s what will separate us from the other talented teams in the NCAA.” Now, when the Brewers face those talented teams on their home court, they will have two Liberty League Championship banners to gaze upon as a reminder of what their determination and perseverance can accomplish.
Ryan Braun’s appeal complicates PED discussion Sam Scarritt-Selman Columnist
here will come a time this upcoming baseball season when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will take the plate in another team’s ballpark and either be roundly cheered or viciously booed. Whatever the response may be, it will be an uncomfortable moment that will say something very ugly about the way our sports-consuming culture allocates forgiveness. Ryan Braun is an exceptional talent, and the body of work he has compiled over the course of his five seasons in the major leagues has placed him among an elite class of ballplayers. However, this past offseason featured what will likely be the single most important thing that will ever happen to him as a professional athlete, something that will in one way or another define him forever: In December, word got out that Ryan Braun had failed an October drug test, reporting suspiciously elevated levels of testosterone. In accordance with Major League Baseball’s drug policy, Braun was immediately suspended for 50 games. Ideals of purity and honor lie at the foundation of baseball’s edifice. The game may no longer be a national pastime, but it still expects its participants to uphold a certain tradition of integrity and honesty. Thus, we have in our mind an archetype of the noble ballplayer, who may or may not actually exist but against whom we judge all who suit up and take the field. The noble ballplayer sees in the game of baseball something profoundly emblematic of human experience, something uniquely pertinent to that aspirational quality of American identity. The noble ballplayer plays the game with an inspiring mix of artistic grace and heroic strength, trading on his ingenuity and gumption, and yet he humbly and deferentially goes about his days in tribute to the people in the crowd and the game itself. The noble ballplayer is supposed to signify both who we are and who we want to be; the noble ballplayer
is the philosopher farmer, the noble ballplayer is a war hero, and the noble ballplayer always smiles as he tips his cap. The noble ballplayer may well be a lie we tell ourselves, but it sure is a convenient lie. To be found to have used any type of performance-enhancing drug is seen as being guilty of baseball’s most severe and unforgivable transgression. Defrauding the game in this way, in effect, amounts to a rejection of the very premise that a ballplayer should be beholden to a certain code—it is a refusal to cast oneself in the image of the noble ballplayer. Stories of doping violations, particularly when they concern baseball’s more celebrated talents, shake even those casual baseball fans among us, for we never take kindly to having our trust betrayed, nor do we like feeling foolish and naïve for having believed. It is difficult to accept the harsh reality that a purportedly pure and honorable game like baseball can be ruled by the same types of corrupt, ruthless and altogether brutish people one can find elsewhere in the world. To help preserve the dignity of the game, we rage with righteous indignation against any who disregard the basic principle that the majesty of baseball is sacrosanct. Thus, the stain associated with this wrong extends far beyond any 50-game suspension the Commissioner’s Office can hand down; in fact, ever since baseball’s “steroid era” of the late 1990s and early 2000s, mere suspicion of performance-enhancing drug use—if players’ numbers seem a little too good—is enough to forever condemn a ballplayer to the label of “cheat.” Naturally, Braun appealed his punishment, even though no such suspension had ever been successfully appealed. In his case, though, the suspension was overturned on the grounds that protocol was not followed in the collection stage of the drug test, leaving considerable room for tampering. The circumstances that brought about this decision make the development all the more remarkable. A recent change in Major League
Baseball’s drug enforcement policy allowed Braun’s appeal to be heard by an independent arbitrator as opposed to Commissioner Bud Selig. Given the ire expressed by the Commissioner’s Office in light of this verdict, it is safe to assume that, had this provision not been in place, Braun’s appeal would not have been granted. The Offices of Major League Baseball has a vested interest in at least appearing to have the issue of doping under control. So much of baseball’s brand in the aftermath of the steroid era depends on the presence of an ef-
“To be found to have used any type of performanceenhancing drug is seen as being guilty of baseball’s most severe and unforgivable transgression.” ficacious enforcement mechanism. If the drug policy in place is to serve its intended deterrent purpose, it must seem an unimpeachable force of retribution, and to grant Braun’s appeal is to inadvertently admit some significant fallibility. Given the choice between showing a sign of institutional weakness and letting one of the game’s marquee players take the fall, the Commissioner would likely opt for the latter and not think twice about it. In a dark and perverse way, this would be concordant with the widely held belief that the game is larger than any single player. However, the mere fact that Braun’s suspension was overturned does not strictly imply Braun’s innocence in this matter. Throughout
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the entire appeals process, no proof of tampering was offered, nor was Braun’s test result shown to be a false positive. Many argue that Braun got off on a weak technicality and that his positive test results still need explaining. All of this is true; Braun was vindicated solely because it took suspiciously too long for his sample to be delivered to the testing facility. Braun and his representation have volunteered to clear his name once and for all by producing exculpatory DNA evidence, but this will probably never happen. For one, this is likely just tactical rhetoric on Braun’s part, but, also, Major League Baseball would not like to risk shining light on any deficiencies in the system. Thus, it appears that Braun will continue to occupy a very ambiguous status in the court of public opinion: He was determined to be not guilty, but he is not conclusively innocent. This is why the way we handle Braun this season will prove so depressingly telling. It seems irrational and slightly McCarthyist to taunt a man who, in the eyes of an independent arbitrator, is guilty of no crimes. Should Braun be relentlessly booed and branded a cheater it will demonstrate that, in cases such as these, evidence is rarely enough to clear a ballplayer’s name once the public suspects him a fraud. However, should we accept Braun’s successful appeal as a sign of his innocence and go on praising him as one of baseball’s greats, we will be giving him a benefit of the doubt that was never conferred upon Barry Bonds or any other player suspected of performance-enhancing drug usage, and this will be more than a little hypocritical, even if we end up right about Braun. Matters would be so much easier if we could only have a clear answer to the question of whether or not Braun actually used performance-enhancing drugs. However, from time to time, clarity is simply impossible. The authentic truth can be messy and complicated, often lying occluded by the special mendacity of desperate people and institutions all trying to save face.
March 22, 2012
Caldwell finds success on court in his junior season Nathan Tauger
Katie De Heras/The Miscellany News
n the lab, Charlie Caldwell ’13 scavenges free radicals using isolated antioxidants. On the volleyball court, Caldwell kills. Caldwell is averaging 2.40 kills per set and on Jan. 25, he had his career game against No. 4 ranked New York University (NYU), with a career-high 18 kills. “Everything felt effortless,” he explained. “I had a couple of kills that honestly had some luck involved. A couple mishits that just happened to go down.” The support of Vassar peers helped, too. “We had more people at that game than we had at most of our games last year. The team was really excited about it. It was a tough opponent, and in my career we had never beaten them.” Unfortunately, the next confrontation between NYU and Vassar did not fare as well. “We played them two weeks later in their gym, which has always been a tough place for us to play” he said. Yet a potential third meeting is still possible in the United Volleyball Conference (UVC) Tournament taking place in April. The first NCAA Division III Volleyball tournament will feature the winner of the UVC, so it will be up to Caldwell and the rest of the men’s team to qualify. “We’ve got eight of the top 15 in our conference, and we’ve lost some close matches,” Caldwell said. “The good thing is that we’ll see these teams again. It’s hard to beat a team twice, and that’s on them.” While the upcoming matches and UVC tournament likely occupy most of Caldwell’s mind, his academics takes up the rest. A biochemistry major, Caldwell has had to balance academics and volleyball, a tension particularly strained during the spring semester. Yet Caldwell is grateful for the Vassar coaches’ understanding. “Unlike some other schools that wouldn’t fit practices around schedules, I’ve had three different coaches and all of them have always stood by working all our practices around all our schedules.” Caldwell continued, “I’ve honestly really never missed practices due to classes and I’ve really never missed any classes due to games and practices.” And after the UVC is finished for the year, Caldwell will present an abstract in New York City to the American Chemical Society with Professor of Chemistry Miriam Rossi about gauging antioxidant activity in scavenging free radicals.
Charlie Caldwell ’13, pictured above, matches his success in his biochemistry major by thriving on the men’s volleyball team. He hopes to take down rival New York University in the UVC Championship. But before he was a biochemistry major and the hot hand behind Vassar’s attack, Caldwell refused to play volleyball. “I’m from southern California, the Palisades, and I wanted nothing to do with the sport. I played every other sport you could think of—baseball, football, basketball, tennis [and] I skied a lot.” Caldwell’s introduction to the sport came through the intervention of his neighbor. “Steven Irvin, he’s a year below me and plays volleyball at Stanford [University] right now. He
was always telling me, ‘You gotta play volleyball.’” Though initially reluctant, in seventh grade the six-foot-tall Caldwell gave in to Irvin’s argument of “Dude, you’re growing up in southern California, you have to play volleyball.” Caldwell laughed as he recalled his rookie season. “I was just atrocious,” he said. Through persistence and practice both indoors and on the beach, Caldwell became dedicated to the sport. “When I got to high school I said, ‘I really want to focus
on this.’ So I dropped all other sports.” Caldwell supplemented his high school play with club and beach volleyball in the offseason. He did not start out on the outside, though. “I was [relatively] tall back then and I could jump alright and I had the timing for middle hitter; it was a quicker set and a quicker ball to hit. I played middle pretty much my freshman, sophomore and junior year, and most of my senior year, too.” Though he moved out of the middle in his later high school and club career, Caldwell was accustomed to the middle, which presented a difficulty when coming to Vassar, where he was set to play pin hitter. “[Former Head Coaches Jonathan Penn and Antonia Sweet] got me used to hitting pin, changing my timing. Last year I got to start and I played right side and a little bit outside. I got more comfortable with pin, the back row.” From there, Caldwell spent the offseason working hard before fracturing his left pinkie in his first beach game of the summer. “I had to have reconstructive surgery on it, there’s still a titanium plate and six screws lining up my finger.” Fortunately, Caldwell was still able to make the most of the summer. “It healed fantastically; the doctors did a great job. I got back in the gym and was still able to do a lot of leg work.” In the fall, Caldwell began playing with the rest of the team and new Head Coach Robert Wolter. “[Wolter] has been a great fit [for] the team. He’s got a very different coaching style but it works.” After a positive fall season, with games against top club teams and Division I schools, the team began to solidify. “That kind of formed the mentality with which we went into that NYU game and the first few matches of the season.” Junior Christian La Du praised Caldwell’s dedication to the team. He wrote in an emailed statement, “Charlie is a great teammate and competitor. Over our three years together he has consistently demonstrated a tremendous work ethic and desire to improve his game, to the point where he has developed into one of our most important offensive weapons.” Caldwell hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D in chemical engineering or biochemistry, but for the time being would like to finish off the season with an NCAA berth and a chance to face rivals like NYU once again.
Men’s lacrosse looks to build on last season’s improvement Jessica Tarantine
Assistant Features Editor
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
ith its first Liberty League win under its belt last season, a new head coach on the roster and two wins this season already, the men’s lacrosse team has high hopes for the 2012 season. “I’m really excited about our schedule this season. I think that we will be competitive in all of our games and have a good chance to win each one,” wrote Captain Matthew Pearce ’12 in an emailed statement. Head Coach Marc Graham echoed his optimism. “A few great plays, a few breaks and some great efforts from our guys and we will make it tough for any team to beat us,” wrote Graham in an emailed statement. In the season’s opener, the men’s lacrosse team did just that, capturing a win over Maritime College 12-4. In addition to being the first win of the season, the game marked several significant firsts for some members of the team. In their first college game, Sean Brazier ’15 had four assists and Scott Brekne ’15 had one of his own. Several freshmen have already made an impact on the young season. Graham wrote, “We have [already] had many guys play their first-ever college game, score their first goal and have their first assist, and we have had two players named to the Liberty League Player of the Week teams.” The opener against Maritime also marked Graham’s first game and win as Vassar’s head coach. “I was proud that these guys were able to give me my first win as a collegiate head coach, and I will always remember and appreciate them for it,” wrote Graham. The second game of the season was likewise successful with a 7-4 win over Manhattanville College. While the next three games were losses, they were by small margins: 13-8 to Farmingdale State College, 8-7 in overtime
to Western Connecticut State and 13-12 to Utica College. The first real test of the season will come this Saturday in Troy, N.Y. when the Brewers face off against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in their first Liberty League match of the season. Prior to last April’s win against St. Lawrence University, the Brewers’ first Liberty League victory in nine years, the team was 0-57 in Liberty League games. Yet despite the poor record in Liberty League games, many members of the team feel that the tides are changing. “We really got that monkey off our back with our 5-4 victory over St. Lawrence and now we know we can win, we just need to bring our A-game every single day in practice and games,” wrote Captain Jeremy Gottlieb ’12 in an emailed statement, who went on to note that the most important lesson he had learned the previous year was that fellow conference members were beatable. Victory within their grasp, the team members are motivated to work hard and stay in for the long haul. “Our hard schedule motivates us to get better every day and keeps us focused as a team,” wrote Captain Andrew Nicol ’14 in an emailed statement. “Coach Graham has stressed ‘adapt, adjust and overcome’ as a motto for us this season.” Even with high hopes for future games, the team recognizes the challenges the season will present. “Our Liberty League contests will definitely all be a challenge. We will be facing rosters well more than twice our size, with three times as many recruited athletes,” wrote Graham. While the relative size of Vassar’s lacrosse team is considerably smaller than many of the teams it faces, Graham, who plans to concentrate on recruiting and building a strong base for the program in the next few years,
Above, the men’s lacrosse team competes against Clarkson University in a match last spring. With its first Liberty League win under its belt, the team hopes to continue last season’s success in 2012. was hopeful that in the short term that roster disadvantage could also be overcome. Graham wrote, “Each team can only put 10 guys on the field at a time, and our guys are in great shape. We will continue to work together as a team to face all of our opponents with the same great effort we have made thus far.” “We’ve been lifting in the offseason and practicing hard and the results so far have been promising,” noted Gottlieb. Another key ingredient this season will be a strong team dynamic. “I think that the one thing that can be taken from last season, especially because we have a small team,”
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wrote Pearce, “is the importance of working together and continuing to build off of the camaraderie that was established last season.” Overall, Nicol explained that while the season would present challenges, the bottom line would be that if they wanted to do well they would need to work hard. “We need to continue to move forward everyday and in the end that will put us in the best position to win. We have some great senior talent and we want to have a memorable season for them before they leave us. We’re off to a good start and we need to continue to build momentum heading into league play,” Nicol wrote, “It’s an exciting time to be a Brewer.”