The Miscellany News November 12, 2009
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CXLIII | Issue 8
Security to strengthen on campus Walking patrols increase on campus perimeters, Security Officers to wear new reflective vests Matthew Brock News Editor
n response to a series of crimes that have occurred on campus, the Security Department has added patrols to certain at-risk areas of campus and has tried to increase its visibility as a means to deter crime. These changes were announced to the student body in an e-mail sent on Nov. 9 by Director of Security Donald Marsala and Dean of the College Chris Roellke. According to the e-mail, “Vassar College Security has added walking patrols in the quad, the North Lot/ Pine Path areas and on the Town House Path. The officers assigned to these posts all wear new reflective vests that clearly identify them as Security officers. Our bicycle unit is also doing more patrols throughout the campus.” In an interview with The Miscellany News, Marsala emphasized the role that Security plays as a deterrent, explaining how the reflective vests will make their presence more visible. “Now [officers will] be much more obvious for students as well as people from outside campus.” The incidents that precipitated this increase in security, said Marsala, include the student who groped females’ behinds, the intruders that struck a student from behind in the residential quad and the attempted robbery of a student near the Terrace Apartments. “[The events] were not related, so it was just an unusual situation that they See SECURITY on page 3
From last year to this year, the curriculum shrank by approximately 60 sections. Exact numbers remain uncertain, as courses for the Spring 2010 semester have yet to be finalized by departments. Next year, the College plans to reduce the curriculum by about 70 sections.
Curriculum changes to be announced this week: Dean of the Faculty responds to dept. staffing plans Molly Turpin
his week, Dean of the Faculty Jon Chenette announced to the faculty the rationale for the reductions to the curriculum suggested by his office. Though details about course offerings for the 2010-2011 academic year are still being finalized, there are several initiatives that the College hopes will help it utilize its academic resources more wisely as the curriculum inevitably shrinks. “This year, the process of consulting with chairs and directors about their requests took longer than usual, occupying much of October and ending only today,” wrote Chenette in an e-mailed statement. “We knew we would need to turn down more requests than usual, and we wanted to be as well-informed as possible
before making our decisions.” Though departments submit staffing plans at this time every year, this year’s process has taken more time because of the reductions in the faculty budget that the College is pursuing for next year. According to Chenette, departments and programs requested 50 more course sections than are currently being offered during this academic year. “On average that means only one more course per department or program beyond what they have this year, but overall it adds up,” said Chenette. The curriculum was reduced by about 60 sections for the 2009-2010 academic year, and Chenette estimates that it will have to be reduced by about 70 more for next year. As Chenette explained in his Nov. 10 e-mail, the Office of the Dean of
the Faculty finished responding to department chairs and program directors who had requested new faculty contracts and contract renewals for existing faculty members. Chairs and directors requested about 75 new faculty contracts, including an approximately equal number of requests for the renewal of contracts set to expire in 2010 and contracts for new faculty to be hired. “Some departments and programs will still have decisions to make, which could take a few weeks,” wrote Chenette. “The details of next year’s curriculum and who will staff it will continue to evolve over the coming months, as faculty members’ opportunities and commitments change. We should have the basics settled, though, by the end of this semester.” By the end of the week, Chenette
plans to send an all-campus e-mail about his responses to staffing plans. Process of decision-making After submitting their staffing plans, the chairs and directors of all departments and programs met individually with Chenette and Associate Dean of the Faculty Marianne Begemann to go over their staffing requests. In several cases, Chenette presented shifts to the plan that he would make to the department chairs, who then had the opportunity to go back and consider his suggestions. Departments with a significant number of adjunct faculty whose contracts are expiring will face the greatest number of course reductions as well as a decrease in the total number of faculty. “There are places See CURRICULUM on page 6
A walk through Dürer exhibit reveals FLLAC’s curation process Carrie Hojnicki
Albrect D¨ü ¨ rer, pictured above in this 1498 self portrait, will be the artist featured in the upcoming FLLAC exhibition, to begin on Nov. 14.
Inside this issue
Matthew’s Mug closed on Saturday following violation
t was a rather dreary Friday afternoon, and as I shuffled my way to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (FLLAC), the course that my next hour was about to take was entirely unbeknownst to me. I navigated through the FLLAC’s glass hallway rather briskly as it was 3:59 p.m., one minute until my scheduled interview time. I arrived at my destination, only to find an empty office. My stomach dropped—had I missed the appointment? A security guard must have spotted my anxiety as he inquired whom I was looking for. He nodded when I told him and directed me to the print room, a locked chamber in the ever-mysterious back corridors of the FLLAC. Needless to say, I felt important. As the door creaked open, I spotted my advisor conversing with a woman over what seemed to be a print. This
wasn’t who I was looking for. Still nervous that I had missed my appointment, I craned my head to the left. The art history major within me was absolutely ecstatic. There was Patricia Phagan, The Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings as well as my 4 p.m. appointment, arranging sculptures in a case with white-gloved hands. There she was, physically creating the exhibit I had come to ask her about. “Hi, I’m Carrie Hojnicki from The Miscellany News,” I said meekly, still dumb-founded by what I was observing. “Oh please come in,” replied Phagan, lifting up an ancient relief sculpture to assess its width. “I’m really not won over,” she said to the exhibit’s preparator after a moment’s consideration. Their dialogue continued for a few minutes and finally a conclusion about the angle of the sculpture’s base was reached. Once the preparator left, Phagan apologized and began to ex-
Installation by Working Group inspires discussion
plain what she had been doing. “As you can see, we’re in the middle of installing. This is what happens when you have a question about an installation. It’s fun actually,” she explained with a smile. This ancient terra cotta relief depicting the image of a winged classical woman seemed to be somewhat of an anomaly to the exhibition’s announced content, Albrect Dürer: Impressions of the Renaissance. This apparently uncanny juxtaposition of the ancient with the Renaissance is precisely that which guided Phagan’s curatorial process in the first room. “They fit in because Dürer was looking back to ancient classical art and art theory. He wanted to bring the Renaissance to Germany.” She guided me to a framed print propped against the exhibit’s title wall. The print—a black and white etching of Nemesis, the goddess of retribution— See FLLAC on page 14
Crew captain reflects on cuts, but looks ahead to future
The Miscellany News
November 12, 2009
Editor in Chief Ruby Cramer Senior Editor Molly Turpin
Contributing Editors Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
Photo of the Week: Erik Snow ’12 and Kamela Caschette ’12 erg at the men and women’s crew team Five-
Day Ergathon, which began on Wednesday, Nov. 11, in order to raise money for the Vassar rowing program.
Staff Editorial | Like all members of Poughkeepsie community, VC students have right to a local vote L
ast week on Tuesday, Nov. 3, Vassar students who traveled to vote at the Arthur S. May Elementary School faced serious challenges in exercising this civil right after Town of Poughkeepsie Republican Committee Chairman Thomas Martinelli filed an injunction with the New York Supreme Court. Martinelli’s action required all voters who were challenged on the basis of residency to fill out an affidavit ballot in lieu of using the voting machines. While the New York Appellate Court overturned this injunction later that same evening, the injunction’s challenge of students’ right to vote still resonates in the minds of Vassar voters. (For more information on the day’s events visit miscellanynews.com, “Vassar students’ right to vote locally challenged at polls,” 11.05.09). This injunction—filed as under the guise of an action working to ensure a free and fair election— appeared to be a political ploy designed to deny Vassar students their fundamental right to vote. If Martinelli were truly concerned with maintaining the integrity of the election, he would have addressed this residency issue before Tuesday. Instead, his actions were a last-minute attempt to delay and prevent Vassar students from voting, with the hope of clinching the election in favor of the Republican incumbent for County Legislature, Angela Flesland. The Miscellany News staff emphatically protest the attempted disenfranchisement of students for political gain, and urge Martinelli as well as his political constituents to allow for the fair treatment of students in future elections regardless of its affect on political outcomes. Dirty politics aside, in the wake of this incident, members of the Poughkeepsie community have voiced sentiments that Vassar students have no place voting in Dutchess County. Comments on an injunction-related article in the The Poughkeepsie Journal’s website demonstrated how some local residents feel about Vassar students: “Vassar, Marist, Bard and CIA students…don’t have a long-term vested interest in the issues and decisions that affect us permanent local taxpayers,” wrote one commenter. “I wish the visiting students would take that into consideration and decide not to vote in our local elections,” read one of the less harsh comments posted in responses to the article. Flesland’s supporters also expressed earlier in the campaign ad released materials in the last days of the race attacking the legitimacy of Vassar students as members of the Poughkeepsie community. “Vassar College is a good neighbor, but the students who attend it are not permanent residents like us,” the flier read, continuing, “They have no vested interest in the community where we live, work, and raise our families.” The truth of the matter, however, is that Vassar students do have a vested interest in this community; just as with these commentators, Dutchess County is where we live. It’s our home. Democrat candidate Gretchen Lieb is a member of the Vassar
community, giving students yet another reason to have legitimate interest in this election. Although students may not own property or pay taxes in Poughkeepsie, that is not to say that we don’t contribute to the community in other ways. Students leave campus regularly to patronize local restaurants and shops, and some even work off-campus. Moreover, many students contribute in a variety of ways to institutions that serve a valuable purpose to all residents of Dutchess County, from tutoring at Poughkeepsie schools to interning or volunteering at community programs like Dutchess Outreach, the Family Partnership Center and Grace Smith House. Choosing to vote away from home can be an arduous process and shows that students do have a genuine interest. Registering to vote in Poughkeepsie and acquainting oneself with an entirely new political landscape— with issues and candidates with which we are largely unfamiliar—takes time and effort that many students would not invest lightly. It can be said that those students who choose to vote in Poughkeepsie do so out of a desire to be a positive force for this community and its residents. That said, even if a Vassar student is deemed to have, by whatever criteria, no “vested interest in the community,” this does not invalidate his or her right to vote in Dutchess County. As students at Vassar, many of us will spend four years of our lives in Poughkeepsie, which hardly makes Dutchess County an impermanent home for us. Many of those outside of a college community move frequently and there are certainly voting members of Poughkeepsie who have in fact only been a city resident for short number of years, even months. Furthermore, students are held subject to Poughkeepsie’s laws and regulations throughout that four-year period, and should therefore have the right to a stake in the local government that decides upon and enforces those laws.
The truth of the matter is that Vassar students do have a vested interest in this community; just as with these commentators, Dutchess County is where we live. It’s our home.
—The staff editorial reflects the opinion of at least two-thirds of the 20-member editorial board.
CORRECTION In the article, “Student filmmakers attempt to publicize craft,” from the 11.5.09 issue of The Miscellany News, the editors mistakenly named Professor of Film Kenneth Robinson as the Chair of the Department. The actual Film Department Chair is Associate Professor of Film Mia Mask. In addition, the photo caption on page one of last week’s issue incorrectly identified the woman in the photo as Jasmine Brown ’10. The staff of the Miscellany extends its sincerest apologies to Brown and to Professors Mask and Robinson for the errors.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
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The Miscellany News is Vassar College’s weekly open forum for discussion of campus, local and national issues, and welcomes letters and opinions submissions from all readers. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 450 words, and they usually respond to a particular item or debate from the previous week’s issue. Opinions articles are longer pieces, up to 800 words, and take the form of a longer column. No letter or opinions article may be printed anonymously. If you are interested in contributing, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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November 12, 2009
Mug closed on Saturday following incident behind bar Caitlin Clevenger
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
he Class of 2011’s “Blackout in the Mug” event on Saturday, Nov. 7 came to an early halt when the bartender closed Matthew’s Mug at 12:30 a.m. The closing followed an incident in which an unidentified student reached over the bar to fill his cup with beer from the tap, and in the process, broke the tap, causing beer to spill out uncontrollably. Gary Thomas, the Mug’s manager and bartender, then demanded immediate closure of the Mug despite protests from representatives of the Class of 2011. Nick Inzucchi ’11, popularly known as DJ Olmec, arrived to play his set soon after and found the music stopped and a cluster of students gathered around the bar. “Whoever damaged the bar was long gone,” said Inzucchi in an e-mailed statement. “The event hosts offered to take responsibility and incur the costs, and offered a compromise of locking up the bar but keeping the dance floor open. [The bartender] kept repeating that he had complete authority over the Mug, that the night was over and that there was nothing anyone could do to change his mind.” The early closure of the Mug has elicited an angry response from students. Student Liaison for the Mug Paul Noonan ’10 has been receiving many of those responses and has found that, “the general consensus is that people are quite angry. Not a single person has told me it was a good decision.” The Class of 2011 Council spoke out in an emailed statement against the actions taken to close the Mug: “Shutting down an event that
was half-way through because of the reckless actions of one individual (out of hundreds who were either at the Mug or waiting to get in) is, quite simply, given the circumstances, irrational”, said Class of 2011 President Alejandro Calcaño. Noonan and Calcaño have reached out to the administration to try and prevent any future incidents. Campus Dining’s Director of Marketing and Sustainability Kenneth Oldehoff, who also oversees the Mug, defends the closure. “The man working in the Mug has my complete support,” Oldehoff wrote in an e-mailed statement. He cites New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Sec. 106, Subdivision 6: “No person licensed to sell alcohol shall suffer or permit...such premises to become disorderly.” According to Oldehoff, the licensed premises include the bar and the dance floor, and beer stealing is within the confines of disorderliness. “The gripe,” wrote Oldehoff, “should be with the spoiled fool who tried to steal a beer, not with the one person who is responsible for seeing that the bar is in accordance with New York state law.” Noonan and other representatives from the Vassar Student Association, however, are in discussion with Dean of the College Christopher Roellke and Dining Services to come up with some clarification or change in the rules. According to Noonan, students have traditionally had “a lack of respect for things in the Mug,” and, after Saturday’s incident, there will be “perhaps stricter” rules rather than more lenient ones. The Class of 2011 will be hosting another Mug night after Winter Break.
The sign pictured above appeared outside the doors of Matthew’s Mug on Nov. 10 following the incident last Saturday, when a student broke the tap behind the Mug’s bar.
Aldous re-examines Thatcher, Reagan Requests for more Lila Teeters Copy Editor
rofessor of History at the University College Dublin Richard Aldous unveiled his revisionist research of the relationship between the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher and former President of the United States Ronald Reagan as he delivered the annual C. Mildred Thompson Lecture to a full audience in Sanders Classroom Spitzer Auditorium on Nov. 5, 2009. According to Professor of History Robert Brigham, Aldous was chosen to give the address for his “interesting research that highlights the craft of history.” Aldous’ most noted works include The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone v. Disraeli and Great Irish Speeches. The C. Mildred Thompson Lecture, sponsored annually by the History Department, honors the memory of C. Mildred Thompson, Class of 1903, who served as a professor of history and dean of the college during her time at Vassar, which stretched from 1910 to 1947. Her accomplishments at Vassar include founding the Admissions Committee in 1916. Aldous, whose lecture focused on Thatcher, began his lecture with a nod to the beloved former Vassar Dean. “Thompson,” Aldous said, “may well have approved of the topic of my lecture… for [both Thompson and Thatcher] knew what it was like to be a woman operating in a man’s world.” Aldous’ most recent research has focused on how Thatcher navigated that male-dominated world, most specifically in her interactions with Reagan. The relationship between the two dignitaries is the subject of Aldous’ upcoming work The Difficult Relationship, which will be published by W.W. Norton in 2012. The night’s lecture of the same name was a preview of the scholar’s book. Emphasizing the importance of Aldous’ visit, Brigham said in a later interview that this lecture “was the absolute first time [Aldous] ever spoke about Reagan or Thatcher in public.” Aldous’ research comes on the heels of President of the United States Barack Obama’s April 2009 release of a quarter of a million documents relating to the Reagan administration as well as England’s release of Thatcher’s administrative documents. Al-
dous also pointed to a number of oral history projects, run by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs Presidential Oral History Project, that have helped facilitate the subject matter into the historical realm. “It is clear now,” asserted Aldous, “that Reagan and Thatcher’s relationship has become, literally, history.” While Aldous’ research is still in the beginning stages, he stated, “it is already becoming apparent that [the Thatcher-Reagan] relationship is very different than that which has often been portrayed by the media and the principle actors [Thatcher and Reagan] themselves.” Currently, Aldous continued, “the language of matrimony dominates analysis” of the Thatcher-Regan relationship. This popular discourse constructs an image of the leaders as close confidants, while downplaying their divisive differences. “It is easy to see the attraction in this matrimonial analysis,” Aldous stated. He warned, however, that it “profoundly misunderstands the relationships between the leaders and the nature of politics and policy making in their administrations.” In this model of matrimony, the leaders’ disagreements could be written off as spats between spouses, and an enormous emphasis was placed on any shared ideological goal. Moreover, each player’s—but particularly Thatcher’s—independence was subsumed by the pair’s united identity. Aldous hopes that his work will revise this flaw in the relationship’s historiography. Such work, however, comes with immense difficulties. While the common portrayal of the Thatcher-Reagan relationship hides the complexities of the pair’s connection, it is one that, according to Aldous, both Thatcher and Reagan “consciously attempted to foster, particularly in their final years. Each vigorously asserted it in their memoirs.” Indeed, Aldous argued that the Thatcher and Reagan administrations purposefully aimed to portray the leaders’ relationship as one of great friendship. Most importantly, however, the pair tried to emulate the relationship that existed between former President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill. Churchill famously described this interaction between the leaders and their countries as the “special relationship.” Aldous ex-
plained that the administrations of Thatcher and Reagan “seemed attuned to the language of the ‘special relationship’” and worked to engrain it within their Atlantic alliance policies, politics and portrayals. With the release of policy and administrative documents, however, Aldous has been able to read against the popular constructions of the relationship. Ultimately, Aldous called for an interpretation of the pair through a new lens. “Competitive cooperation,” Aldous argued, “remains the key to unlocking the complexities of the Reagan-Thatcher relationship.” According to Aldous, this new reading relies heavily on asking the questions, “What did each leader want from the other, and how did they try to achieve these ends?” Furthermore, when he looked at the evidence, Aldous claimed that he was shocked by the “sheer relentlessness of the policy divergences.” Looking at the years 1981 to 1989, Aldous said that the pair disagreed on almost every major foreign and—perhaps most surprisingly—economic policy on the table. “It’s the relentlessness,” Aldous repeated, that speaks to the need for a revisionist history of Thatcher and Reagan’s interactions. Aldous emphasized, however, that despite the sometimes-adversarial relationship between the leaders, the image and the practice of the Atlantic alliance remained strong. He stated, “the Atlantic alliance was the first principle of the diplomatic relationship [between the two countries].” So, while Reagan and Thatcher privately practiced competitive cooperation, in public their advisors and policy-makers continued to uphold the principles of the Atlantic alliance on matters of defense, intelligence and diplomatic collaboration. What emerges from Aldous’ work is a tension between the public portrayal and the private practice of the Thatcher-Reagan relationship. At the conclusion of the lecture, Aldous posited that “the relationship between the president and the prime minister [was] a subversive element in the Atlantic alliance,” and that while the alliance continued to function, Thatcher and Reagan practiced an interaction that became “the void at the heart of the ‘special relationship.’” “Afterall,” Aldous concluded, “It had been a difficult relationship.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
walking patrols on campus answered SECURITY continued from page 1 all happened at the beginning of the semester,” Marsala said. The Vassar Student Association (VSA) was an advocate for the implementation of these changes according to VSA Vice President for Operations Elizabeth Anderson ’11. “The unusually concentrated number of incidents on campus this fall was definitely a concern among many campus residents—particularly those living on the extremities of the College in the Terrace Apartments and Town Houses [TH],” she wrote in an e-mailed statement. “[These changes] are a good thing because [the TH Path] could potentially be a dangerous place on campus,” said Town Houses President Reile Green ’10. Marsala insisted that increasing patrols in these areas will not necessitate a decrease of security in other parts of the campus. Security was the only department allowed to hire new workers at the start of this year—despite the College’s fiscal crisis—to replace officers who had left. In addition to the increased patrols by the Security Department, the Town of Poughkeepsie Police have been invited onto campus and has added Vassar to their vehicle and bicycle patrols. “They’re here to protect us,” said Marsala. Unfortunately for Vassar students, should the police catch them committing a routine offense such as underage drinking or drugs, the case would be handled by the Town Police instead of the Vassar College disciplinary system. “If you’re doing something illegal and they see you, it’s the same as if you were off-campus,” said Marsala. “I doubt very seriously that if officers see someone walking around with a can of beer they will stop them,” he continued. Campus Patrol has also been receiving an unprecedented number of calls for escorts. Marsala extolled this increase as demonstrative of the rising awareness of Security’s presence on campus. “I think it’s because of the campus advisories I’ve sent out,” said Marsala. “Students and other community members are becoming more aware and are using our services.” Anderson said that while she supports these advisories, she feels that they should be taken a step further. “One shift I continue to advocate for is a quicker communication to students when an incident occurs on campus. A campus e-mail should be sent out immediately and the text message response system should be used when necessary. I worry that these communications occur too late, after students could have already been at risk,” she wrote.
News Briefs Cutting corners On Nov. 6, at 8 a.m. a non-student drove through Main Gate and out through North Gate going about 25-30 mph, presumably cutting through the campus to get somewhere else. Security was able to get the license plate number and notify the Poughkeepsie police. They plan to add the person to the trespass list. —Rose Hendricks, Assistant News Editor
Retreat from Retreat Early in the morning on Nov. 7, some students entered the Retreat while it was closed but left by the time Security arrived. Security is still unsure about what might have been taken during that time. —R.H.
Incense incidents During the morning of Nov. 7, Security observed smoke coming from a window on the third floor of Lathrop House. Because this constituted a safety hazard, Security searched for the source of the smoke. The student, who was burning incense, was unaware of the fire regulations and was very cooperative with the officers. —R.H.
Broken Main pane On Nov. 7, a window on the fourth floor of Main Building was reported to be broken. Anyone with information about the incident should contact Security. —R.H.
Hiding in plain sight On Nov. 9, an officer detected the smell of marijuana on the fourth floor of Main. The room in question was wide open, and a plastic bag containing marijuana was in plain sight and was confiscated. —R.H.
First round of H1N1 vaccines distributed: Flu season predicted to last until February Xiaoyuan Ren
he first shipments of the H1N1 vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have begun to be distributed in New York, and Vassar College Health Services is among the first groups to obtain a limited number of H1N1 flu vaccine doses to be distributed among its students. This vaccine is offered by the government for no charge. Vassar College Health Services received 400 doses early last week, and 365 of them were distributed to students last Monday, Nov. 2 and last Wednesday, Nov. 4 in the College Center Multiple Purpose Room. Half of the vaccines available were given as injections, while the rest were provided as nasal sprays. Both are equally effective in the prevention of H1N1. Because the doses were limited, Health Services has to first offer them to the priority groups of students on campus. “We follow the recommendations of the New York State Health on Monday to first offer the vaccines to certain groups of students who have chronic medical conditions or live with someone who does, and who work with infants or are working for hospitals,” said Director of Health Services Dr. Irena Balawajder last week, “and on Wednesday we added the group of students who work in K-12 schools. These student groups are the ones that would need vaccines the most for the protection of the whole community. But it is certain that enough doses will arrive soon, and all of the students will definitely be able to receive the vaccines.” The exact vaccine times and the priority vaccine groups were sent in e-mails by Dean of Students David “D.B.” Brown to the whole student body. According to the General Info online from the CDC, the U.S. federal government has procured 250 million doses of 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine, so it is expected to be enough for anyone who wishes
Commission examines gender ratio, admissions of universities Rose Hendricks
Assistant News Editor
ixty-fourty is a commonly cited femaleto-male ratio among American colleges, particularly liberal arts schools. However, an article appearing on the website ‘Inside Higher Education’ on Nov. 2 stated that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights “has started an inquiry into the extent to which liberal arts colleges discriminate against female applicants in an attempt to minimize gender imbalances in the student body.” Many argue that males frequently receive preferential treatment and females may be held to higher standards in admissions processes. According to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid David Borus, Vassar does not discriminate in this manner. However, he did postulate that “all colleges have some level of concern about the mix of students in their incoming classes. We all seek diverse classes, with ‘diversity’ defined quite broadly—including gender, ethnicity, interests, geographical origin, etc.” Borus added, “The fact is that nearly 58 percent of all undergraduate students at American colleges and universities today are female, and this ratio is even a bit more pronounced for liberal arts colleges that do not offer some of the highly technical fields of study that tend to attract more men than women.” The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights created a committee to address the accusation that “women applicants are being discriminated against in order to prevent the schools from becoming ‘too female.’” Many private schools have admitted to this practice, justifying the discrimination by claiming that, without it, the gender balance would become so “off-kilter” that many women would not be willing to attend, thus injuring the quality of the colleges’ student bodies. The committee is especially looking into assertions of gender discrimination at state schools, where such profiling would be punishable by law. The article cites that “nothing
November 12, 2009
in the proposal suggests any interest in challenging the legal rights of private colleges to consider gender in admissions.” In addition to its investigation, the committee is also working on ideas to help colleges use “gender-neutral ways to achieve gender balance.” For example, many schools have added academic and extracurricular programs that they believe will draw more men to their colleges. The committee’s proposal says that “a small but significant part of the problem may lie in the endorsement policies of the Department of Education in connection with Title IX.” This means that schools cannot simply add men’s athletic programs without adding the female counterparts, which deters many colleges from using athletics to attract men to their schools. The proposal calls this a possible “Title IX ‘backfire,’” continuing, “a law that was designed to prevent sex discrimination in higher education may be causing sex discrimination.” At Vassar, however, Borus claimed that female applicants are not held to higher standards in the admissions process. “Our academic expectations for male and female applicants are the same, and the academic credentials of the men and women in our incoming class are remarkably similar.” He did note that males often have higher test scores, while females often have higher high school GPAs. Borus recalled that in the 1960s and 1970s the gender imbalance on U.S. campuses was in the opposite direction, and that some colleges added programs, activities and teams to attract more women. “Vassar has not made such changes in order to attract more male applicants, and there are no plans to do so.” Despite gender’s impact on many private colleges’ admissions processes, Vassar upholds the same standards for applicants of both sexes, as evinced by Borus’ assurance that “overall, the male and female students enrolling at Vassar are equally well-qualified academically.”
to get the vaccine. CDC needs to first ship their vaccines to the New York State Department of Health, and then they will distribute them among the communities according to their population. There has been some delay in the shipments, but so far the doses have been arriving at a steady speed. Though there is a limited amount of doses in the area right now, more will continue to become available over the upcoming weeks. “We expect all the shipments to arrive by late November. By then we will have enough vaccine for everybody.” said Balawajder as an assurance to students who haven’t had the opportunity to get the vaccine yet. The whole vaccine procedure went well last week and students were very cooperative with getting the sprays or the shots. Brown encourages more people to get the vaccines as the new doses arrive. He said, “We’ve doing a very good job so far by preventing the spread of H1N1, as well as other seasonal flu.” Regarding the safety of a completely new vaccine, Balawajder pointed out: “This H1N1 flu is manufactured and produced by the exact same organization that produced and tested all the seasonal flu shots. The only difference is that it aims at the H1N1 virus only, while seasonal flu shots aim at around three viruses per shot.” In fact, if this strain of flu emerged just a few months earlier, there would not have been any need for two vaccines this year. According to the CDC, 2009 H1N1 would simply have been included as one of the components in the annual vaccine. There are still some students who worry about possible negative reactions to the vaccine. Balawajder addressed this concern, saying, “Only in very rare cases do we find people with strong reactions. For precaution, we let all students stay for 15 minutes after the vaccine to make sure they’re in comfort.” On campus, although some students have
shown flu-like symptoms, there haven’t been any outbursts of influenza. According to Dean of Admissions David Borus, there have been 79 cases of influenza since the start of the semester. This moderate number indicates that the flu on campus is generally under good control. “Any student showing such symptoms would be isolated,” said Borus, “and the total number of simultaneous isolation cases never exceeded nine, which is a very good sign of the current health situation on campus.” Many campus offices have been involved with H1N1 disease control—including Health Services, Dean of Students and Security. Food service and Residential Life has also been involved when students need self-isolation. “Students are being really responsible. Sometimes their parents pick them up if they have the flu so they can avoid infection to the community. So far we have been doing a nice job in the disease control and we hope to keep it up.” Borus replied, when asked about the whole picture of H1N1 control on campus now. The flu season started on Oct. 4, and the most serious periods will begin in late November and last until early February. Students need to continue to be responsible about their health as well as the health of the whole campus community. Seasonal flu shots are also still offered at the Health Center for $20. According to Balawajder, another shipment of 100 doses of H1N1 vaccine just arrived on Nov. 10, and a second round of vaccines were offered on Nov. 12, together with the remaining 35 doses from the shipment last week. “We’ve expanded the priority groups again to include students who live in doubles or triples,” explained Balawajder, “because we really want to reduce the risk of outburst of flu to the least on campus. We encourage everyone to take it— as a responsibility for themselves and for people around them. Don’t forget it’s free!”
Democrats press for review of injunction in court, file pending Jillian Scharr News Editor
he Republican Party won 18 out of the 25 legislative seats in Dutchess County after the Nov. 3 election. However, the Democratic Party is pursuing legal action against the Republican Party for the injunction filed last Tuesday that, in effect, forced Vassar students to vote by a paper ballot or affidavit ballot. The Democratic Party will not contest the election itself, said Democratic Party Elections Commissioner Fran Knapp in a telephone interview. The injunction stipulated that each voter whose vote was objected to on the basis of residency was required to fill out a paper ballot in the interim while his or her current address was verified. Students’ residency was questioned on the basis that a student who had registered, but had meanwhile changed dorms would technically be voting under an incorrect address and would need to re-register. The process of requiring students to fill out paper ballots—or affidavit ballots—instead of voting on the machines was accompanied by reports of poll-workers and local voters harassing students waiting to vote. The injunction was appealed that day by the Democratic Party and revoked at the order of the appellate court at approximately 8 p.m. that evening on the grounds that it violated Dutchess County Election Law. Contrary to the Democrats’ behest, the appellate court ruled that Vassar students’ affidavit ballots should not be counted the night of the election like regular machine ballots, but should be treated like normal affidavit ballots and counted a week later with the mail-in and other paper ballots. Knapp does not expect that these votes will change the outcome of any of these elections. The election was of particular interest to Vassar as the College’s Reference Librarian Gretchen Lieb ran against Republican incum-
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bent legislator Angela Flesland. Republican attorney John Ciampoli, who brought the Republicans’ injunction to court on Nov. 3, did not get an index number for the injunction, Knapp explained, because the County Clerk’s Office is closed on Election Day. “We were promised that the next day [the Republican Party] would file it [but] he never followed through.” Without an index number, said Knapp, “There’s no record [the injunction] ever existed,” so it technically cannot be contested. “So now the Democrats can’t go back to court over this. We’re trying to find a way around this. If he doesn’t follow through we’re going to ask the court to sanction him.” Lawyer David Sears, Democratic council, will bring the issue to court, possibly on Nov. 12, arguing that residency challenges have no legal grounds. “If we win,” he said in a phone interview, “all the ballots will be counted without objection, [without] challenge to the students’ residency status.” “The Republican Party in this county has been on an all-out attack to prevent [Vassar students’] votes for as long as I can remember,” said Sears. Chair of the Dutchess County Republican Party Thomas Martinelli, who filed the injunction, was unavailable for comment. Republicans swept the board across the state. “What was going on nationally hurt the Democratic turnout,” Knapp speculated, noting that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Dutchess County. “I don’t know what to tell you,” she said; “Democrats just don’t vote.” She continued, “Unfortunately there are a lot of people hurting. Voting now just isn’t their priority. It’s difficult to get people like that motivated because people don’t think it’s going to help them.” “Students, don’t be disillusioned—you’ve got to be involved in the political process; you can’t sit on the sidelines. You need to be involved in the community,” urged Knapp.
November 12, 2009
College Center installation personalizes job eliminations Campus Solidarity Working Group multimedia spurs discussion Chloe McConnell
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
even people stopped to watch the television screens, five people examined the brick-like boxes and many more observed the T-shirts and photos hanging from clotheslines. On Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 3 p.m., a time when students usually rush through the North Atrium of the College Center trying to get to class, the traffic stalled. Students, professors and staff stood together and contemplated the images, sounds and structures surrounding them. Called “Vassar Works Because We Do: A Community-Powered Multimedia Installation” and inspired by Gregory Halpern’s 2003 photography book, Harvard Works Because We Do, the installation strived to make visible the oft-overlooked lives of Vassar’s workers. “The exhibit wasn’t really a product of the Campus Solidarity Group, but rather a looser, community-powered effort that came together in the last week or two in improvisational ways that escalated into the form you saw in the Atrium,” Adjunct Associate Professor of English Judith Nichols clarified. “My sense is that the exhibit will keep growing, if there is a desire or a need for this.” At the exhibit, visual and aural stimuli bombarded individuals from every direction. Large red boxes adorned with photos and quotes blocked the space’s center, T-shirts hung from the ceiling, flyers were scattered across the floor, two televisions screened a short documentary and posters covered the walls. A large jar collected donations, while people added their names to the Campus Solidarity Working Group’s mailing list. According to their brochure, the Working Group is “a coalition of students, staff and faculty” hoping “to push the administration to increase Vassar’s ﬁnancial transparency.” Working Group member Nathan Orians ’10 explained, “We wanted an aesthetic that stops the flow of people. We hope that this exhibit warms people up to our ideas.” A section of Vassar’s Mission Statement inspired the exhibit: “Vassar College is committed to working toward a more just, diverse, egalitarian and inclusive college community where all members feel valued and are fully empowered to claim a place in—and responsibility for—our shared working, living and learning.” While Vassar has been called a preferred employer in the Hudson Valley, the organizers of this event believe that the College is not treating its workers with fairness and respect. Nichols conducted interviews with staff members, and those transcripts appear on the posters surrounding the hallway. With these posters, Nichols hoped to publicize the employees’ faces and their stories. “It is hard to imagine that what is happening is that we don’t know the faces of the people who have sacrificed the most,” she said. “The exhibit provides a visual sense that these are the people who feel vulnerable, and Vassar should not be destabilizing the community and permanently damaging it.” Nichols also designed the boxes as a metaphor for the process of building and demolishing a community. The boxes solicit onlookers to engage with them through reading, assembling and dissembling, as the sign in front of the boxes correspondingly stated: “Handle with Care. Engage. Rebuild.” “Building community is our responsibility, and we have to keep it stabilized,” Nichols described. The boxes were papered in black and white photos depicting laid-off workers and present workers, including individuals cooking in the All Campus Dining Center, cleaning in the dormitories and carpenters making repairs in academic buildings. Quotes from these workers, sections from Vassar’s Mission Statement, Pete Seeger song titles and the exhibit’s title also covered the boxes. One box read, “What did you learn in school today?” while another stated, “What happens to institutional memory and wisdom if senior employees are coerced into retirement?” Large white T-shirts with the “VC” insignia represented each employee that has been
Senior Erica Licht stops to read a poster depicting Manager of the Computer Store John McCormick, part of the “Vassar Works Because We Do: A Community-Powered Multimedia Installation” last Wednesday, Nov. 4, in the North Atrium of the College Center. laid-off, while small colorful constructionpaper T-shirts symbolized the employees who might lose their jobs. “[In the process of creating] the T-shirts, we realized that there were lots of administrators who we didn’t know were fired,” Orians explained. “They are the most silent group that we are trying to reach out to. There is a feeling of fear, and people are really coming together; this solidarity is really important for the community’s health.” On the floor of the College Center, the organizers taped a flyer that has also been posted in numerous buildings around campus. Depicting a photo of two young children in Christmas attire, the flyer states, “Job Elimination: Vassar decided to give our daddy a last paycheck for Christmas.” By recycling an already prevalent image for their exhibit, the organizers hoped to connect their initiative to other discussions concerning employment on campus. Orians, along with Jamie Stevenson ’10 and John Joyce ’12, produced a documentary video that relays the perspectives of four faculty members and one alumna-cum-staff member. The poignant interviews discuss the presence and absence of voices on campus. “What students engage in when they make a film about corporatization at Vassar College, or they take a photo that captures the implicit pain and suffering in laying-off community members is democratic engagement,” Nichols added. “If some administrators chastise students for engaging in democratic discourse in a way which is a little too noisy, a little too disruptive, a little too arrogant, [we can] take heart in knowing that shaming is an very old strategy that it only has power if you believe it.” The students organized the video around five core questions: How do you envision the Vassar community? In what ways is the Vassar community changing? What can students do? What is our voice worth? and What is our education worth? Through these questions, the students attempt to locate Vassar’s qualities, examine how these values are at risk and ascertain what actions they can take. “We are all together in this small enclave for four years and we connect in many ways,” Visiting Associate Professor of English Karen Robertson responded to the first question in the video. “So the problem that I see now is that an indifference to members of the community affects all of us, and that’s troubling me deeply.” “It is concerning,” Associate Professor of Political Science Katherine Hite added. “We want to make sure that [we have a voice in] the ways decisions are being made. We want to democratize the process. We want to make sure that it’s open. We want to make sure that it’s transparent, that we understand the kinds of constraints that the administration does face.” See INSTALLATION on page 6
Akari best sushi in Poughkeepsie Daniel Combs
ood sushi is hard to come by, especially if you are spoiled by coming from a place that has an abundance of good, fresh fish. Poughkeepsie is not exactly what you would call a port city, and for many students who migrate here from coastal cities and towns, the difference in seafood quality is pretty hard to miss. Coming from a city on an island, I definitely fall into the “spoiled brat” category when it comes to fish. Sushi, however, is the best meal to have with friends in my opinion, and so, for the past three years, I have shelved my pretenses and tried to enjoy what Poughkeepsie has to offer. While sake bombing at Tokyo House is fun for all, I’ve always been a little disappointed when it comes to the restaurant’s food quality. Sushi is a culinary art form, and it takes the right combination of good ingredients and true artisanship to pull it off well. So, when I stumbled upon the small Akari Sushi and Japanese Food, located at the Poughkeepsie Metro North Train Station plaza, I naturally entered with some apprehension. I’m happy to report, however, that I left Akari completely overwhelmed by its superior quality. I now have no qualms claiming it to be the best sushi available in Poughkeepsie. The little restaurant is elegantly designed to be an incredibly comfortable and intimate dining experience. No matter where you sit inside, your space is your own; you never have to feel like you’re butting elbows with the table next to you, so your bubble of conversation feels private. Yet at the same time, every table gives you a vantage point to see the chefs at work preparing your food. The restaurant is at once private and refreshingly open—a remarkable feat to pull off in such a small location. This sense of space allows for a perfect environment in which to enjoy the aesthetic experience of the art of sushi. With very reasonable prices, you can make this experience a big one without burning a hole through your wallet. You can sample many tastes in once sitting, which is exactly what I did. As roll upon roll was brought to the table, I was consistently floored by the quality of the presentation and flavor—which ranged from the wellpolished simple staples to exquisitely sublime and complex masterpieces. The exhibition of such a vibrant color palette was the first jaw-dropping moment for me. Not only were the garnishes and sauces exquisite, but the fish itself radiated a crispness and clarity that you can only find with truly fresh ingredients. The deep red of the tuna, the lively pink of the salmon—these are traits that you don’t see in fish that’s been refrigerated even for a couple of days. The simple yet phenomenal spicy tuna roll—which delivers a nice kick without being overwhelming—neatly displays the freshness of
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the fish. It tastes like the ocean and looks like something from another world, and, as one of the restaurant’s most popular rolls, broadcasts the quality of craftsmanship at Akari to a wide audience. On the other end of the spectrum was the Fujiyama roll, one of the most complicated and successful sushi enterprises I have ever eaten. At its base is an eel tempura. Eel is an ingredient that scares a lot of people. There seems to be an association of eel with slime, worms, dirt and mucus. I am here to completely dispel those falsehoods. Freshwater eel, called unagi in Japanese, is often smoked and has a rich flavor and delicate sweetness that I’ve never been able to find in any other dish. The eel in this roll was covered with a tempura batter and fried, which brought a subtle crispness to the center of this dish. Inside the roll, the tempura was married with avocado, cucumber and onion, which all together displayed such a diverse range of texture that the feeling of the food on my tongue was almost as enjoyable as the taste. As if this weren’t enough, the entire roll was covered on top by thin fillets of tuna whose edges were coated with crunchy red and black pepper and topped with a “special sauce,” which I am pretty sure was a combination of teriyaki and wasabi mayonnaise, swirled together to create a sweet and spicy whirl of red and white. Other highlights of the meal included a surprisingly rich spicy crab roll, which boasted real non-imitation crab (frustratingly hard to find around here), and dashes of fried wasabi coated batter—a crunchy pop—and the sweet potato tempura roll, which came glazed in honey and brought a decadence to the meal that made me feel as though we were having dessert for lunch. Although we didn’t have the stomach space to try any of the many diverse noodle dishes, I did glimpse someone digging into a steaming bowl of Nabe Yaki udon: thick udon noodles (which, if you have never had, I plead with you to go buy and cook up yourself—they are easy to make and are unmatched for soups) in a vegetable broth with chicken, a boiled egg, and crab and shrimp tempura. Any restaurant that can offer this along with its other amazing soups instantly finds its way into all of my culinary dreams, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who appreciates noodles, soup or hot food in general (what I’m trying to say is that everyone should eat this). With polite, fast service, the choice to eat outside and the owner’s four-year-old son playing in the background—not to mention the superb dining experience—the hour that I spent at Akari flew by. For anyone who wants a sushi upgrade, a hot bowl of soup or is just hungry and near the train station, Akari is the place to be.
November 12, 2009
TC a hidden hip hop talent Cross-listing encouraged, behind ACDC’s grill station team teaching scrutinized Max Friedman
CDC and hip hop do not mix. That is, of course, if you’re talking about the band. But if you’ve ever had a cheeseburger at Vassar’s All Campus Dining Center (ACDC), you know that the grill is ACDC’s hip hop central. Behind the grill, Darrin Lawrence Weaver— known as TC—puts on a show, flipping burgers while dancing to music playing from his cell phone. He engages passersby immediately, with a simple “What’s up?” to those he knows, or a snappy—yet good-natured—remark to those who mess up their order. “Somewhere in the middle” of 11 children, Weaver was only close to one of his younger brothers. He was carted around the East Coast as a small boy—living in Long Island (Meadowbrook, Freeport and Roosevelt), Brooklyn (Flatbush and Bedford-Stuyvesant), the Bronx, Manhattan, Philadelphia and New Jersey (Lawrence Township and Newark). “I bounced around a lot, man,” recalls Weaver. “It was an unwanted children type of thing—whoever could take care of me. Always the ’hood. If it wasn’t the ’hood, it was just on the outside of the ’hood, like you just put your foot down, and you’re in the ’hood.” At age 11, he moved to Poughkeepsie with his mother to get out of a city environment, and graduated middle school and high school here. He has remained in Poughkeepsie ever since. As entertaining as Weaver’s moves at the grill are, he’s seen bigger stages. He has been dancing for as long as he can remember. “I was kinda born into it. Hip hop culture, back in the day, you lived it. There are four elements: bboying, MCing, DJing and graffiti—and you embodied all four of those elements growing up. It was in you. It was something you just learned how to do. That’s what made you cool, back in the day.” Weaver was doing it throughout the ’80s and ’90s. In the 1980s, he was involved with several break dancing crews, including GF2 (Graffiti Force 2000), Battlezone and Upstate Breakers. While part of the Upstate Breakers, Weaver danced and did graffiti with one of the Trackmasters, the famous duo that produced a significant portion of the hip hop radio hits of the ’90s. Weaver was also a sponsored BMX racer
and a backup singer and choreographer of an R&B group. In the mid ’80s he changed gears after meeting an MTV intern who encouraged him to audition for shows. From 1990 to 1997, Weaver danced on various MTV and VH1 programs, including the well-known “Club MTV” and “The Grind.” Despite his credentials and his love for dancing, Weaver never wanted to be a professional dancer. “Most of my friends that were doing MTV with me are dancing for Janet Jackson, Mariah [Carey] and whoever else. The thing is, that shit is not stable. You’re only hot as long as the artist is hot. When the artist goes into remission or whatever, you gotta scramble to find another hustle. I can’t live like that. I need something stable.” Weaver looked for a job at Vassar 16 years ago, when his brother was part of the kitchen staff. As he was on campus nearly every day, Weaver was finally offered a position at ACDC, and he has remained there ever since. He most enjoys interacting with the students. “They’re generally cool people,” said Weaver. “I can’t tell you how many people who I’ve hung out with have graduated. They just come back, and it’s like they’ve never left. And then there are all those people who go on to do great things that come back and see you, like Justin Long, Anne Hathaway—she’s my homegirl—Marguerite Moreau, who did all the Mighty Ducks movies—it’s just a great place to be.” Even when Weaver’s not working, he’s working. He does freelance graphic design for wellknown clothing companies such as Fubu, Mecca, Scifen and 10.Deep. In 2003, Weaver flew to Las Vegas to work with Jackie Chan, as he and coworker Percy Latchman (10.29.09 “ACDC grill master Latchman reflects on path to Vassar”) had designed more than half of Chan’s clothing line and nearly all of the artwork for a show there. Weaver also co-founded Hip Hop 101 at Vassar, a club that promotes community engagement through events that incorporate the four elements of hip hop. He designs all of the club’s graphics and teaches break-dancing in the Villard Room on Monday and Wednesday nights. As to what “TC” stands for, all he can say is, “I have no clue.” My guess? Too Cool.
Working Group hosts teach-in INSTALLATION continued from page 5 In an emotional moment, Vassar alumna and Field Work Office Administrative Assistant Robin Laurita ’05 expressed, “Nobody wants to be out picketing and looking foolish and making cardboard signs,” she said. “It’s humiliating when you are not given an appropriate opportunity and a voice; it leaves you no other option. It’s horrendous that we have to stoop to this and that we have to rely on children, young adults, to be a voice for us, because ours is so marginalized.” This past Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Retreat, the Working Group organized a Teach-In as part of the First National Day of Action for Education Rights. The Teach-In involved a practical, participatory and action-oriented forum. Students set up a platform, wreathed with a banner, on which Faculty, Staff and Students stood and shared their perspectives on employment and the Working Group’s presence. Students gathered while eating their lunches and Professors stopped to listen to their colleagues. At the event, flyers for the Working Group and a petition to the board of trustees covered the Retreat tables. The petition, circulated by Nichols, states, “the principles of divestment in faculty and other workers at Vassar will, in a very short period of time, significantly damage curriculum, community, core values and finally, and most importantly, the future of our institution.” Professor of English Beth Darlington read sections from William Blake and John Donne’s poetry, quietly quoting, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” She added, “We have a responsibility to care for each other.” English co-chair Michael Joyce, who took the
stage next, lauded the event’s organizers, stating, “I am proud of how the members of this group have conducted themselves with dignity and intelligence.” He went on to discuss the benefit of a continuous dissentious discussion within the College community. “We must think differently about the shape that resistance can take,” he said. Robertson described how the employment crisis has damaged our scholastic community. “It fractures the scholarly community and hierarchizes those on tenure track,” she said. “Those who are marginalized with lesser pay do not matter—this teaches students the values of plutocracy and contempt for inferiors.” Discussing last week’s installation, Nichols applauded the work of these dedicated students. “I am proud of so many Vassar students for their current passionate recognition of our need to work together across campus to make certain that short-term solutions to the current economic situation do not damage our integrity or core values as an institution,” she stated. While this installation only lasted for one afternoon, the students and staff organizers plan to continue sharing information, stories and perspectives with their peers—and if possible, to do so on a larger scale. “We want to keep doing things and getting support,” Orians said. “We want the administration to see us and we want to open up avenues of communication, both traditional and non-traditional.” “It has also had a huge impact because it has drawn me into passionate discussions about principle with students, other faculty and staff, and that’s very exciting,” said Robertson. “The way we operate at Vassar is that we are so busy and separate and going our own ways. But to draw together as a group and talk about what we most value is very exciting.”
CURRICULUM continued from page 1 where no reductions can take place because everyone is tenured or tenure-track. In those cases, we may need to ask some departments to provide more multidisciplinary staffing or contribute more freshman writing seminars after we’ve finished the initial responses to the staffing plans,” said Chenette. Department faculty do have a significant say in how any suggested reductions are distributed within the department, and Chenette explained that his ideal discussion might involve a compromise over the suggestions. For example, after hearing the suggestion to reduce its course offerings by one 300-level course in order to avoid the need for a new adjunct professor, one department proposed instead to cut one section of its introductory course, preferring larger class sizes at the 100-level to fewer seminar courses. This solution ultimately achieved the same staffing goal. “While I personally would have made a different choice—I would have said, ‘I think a year without that 300-level course would be okay’—and I would rather have smaller 100-level sections, their judgment was different,” he said. The preservation of introductory level courses, is a chief priority for both Chenette and Registrar Dan Giannini. “I’m more concerned with the level of the courses. I want to make sure that there are enough courses at the 100-level because that’s the intro to the department. They cut out a few senior seminars that normally enroll 4 or 5 students, it’s not a big issue,” said Giannini. Giannini explained that ideally, reductions to the curriculum should not prevent a student from choosing a major and that they should affect the fewest number of students possible. Chenette explained that feedback from departments and programs is essential to the process. “I’m perfectly willing to listen to alternative ideas that people have,” he said. “We spend a half hour with most of the chairs and directors, and they’ve been living their curriculum for decades, so ultimately I know they understand better and may want to suggest something else.” Majors Committees and Student Voice Chenette also stressed that student voice is important in making decisions about the curriculum. “Students’ voices are heard in different ways. I think they’re not heard enough, but one way they are heard is that we do pay attention to enrollment pressures,” he said. Chenette admitted, however, that the final enrollment numbers in given course sections are not an entirely reliable way to make student opinions heard, though. “That’s not a perfect thing because we don’t have total flexibility to cut the size of a department or increase the size of a department on the spur of the moment, and students make different decisions one year versus another year,” he said. “So there is that unpredictability in the nature of the kind of curriculum Vassar offers.” To address this difficulty, Vassar Student Association (VSA) Vice President for Academics Stephanie Damon-Moore ’11 is working to make sure students’ opinions on the curriculum reach the administration by emphasizing the role of majors committees. Though she said that these might not be the appropriate venue for students to suggest which courses should be cut, she hopes that the committees will be a liaison between department chairs and their students. “One of the reasons, and I would say the primary reason, I’ve been working so hard right now on majors committees is that I want majors committees to be where communication happens in the departments between department chairs, faculty and students,” said Damon-Moore. “If you announce all the changes to the entire campus, you’re going to have a lot of pointed fingers and useless conversations that don’t benefit anybody.” The History Majors Committee is often regarded as one of the most active and successful in its organization. Damon-Moore noted their event planning for majors and prospective majors as an example of the role that the committee plays. “The role of the majors committee is to serve as a liaison between the students and
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the faculty, so if concerns are brought up, we would address them to the faculty. So far this year we haven’t had many concerns,” said History Department Intern and Chair of the History Majors Committee Morandi Hurst ’10. In some cases majors committees have taken an active role in engaging with curricular changes. Last year the English Majors Committee hosted a meeting after the announcement that two adjunct faculty members’ contracts would not be renewed. According to Chair of the English Majors Committee Mally Anderson ’10, after changes are announced this year, “We’ll host a meeting for people to ask questions but also discuss ways to make their opinions about faculty and curriculum changes heard and have a chance to collaborate with fellow English students in taking a stance.” Though Damon-Moore was hesitant to say that the role of committees should be to make suggestions to their departments as to how to cut or restructure, Chenette suggested that majors committees should have a large role in responding to the changes. “I will be especially vigilant in asking chairs and directors to work with their majors committees in those places where there are choices,” he said. “It can’t be that the students vote on their favorite teacher and that’s what we do, but thoughtful input on how a particular person meets curricular need is very useful to the process.” At the Nov. 1 meeting of the VSA Council, Damon-Moore introduced a memorandum recommending that all departments have majors committees, which was sent out to all department chairs, Chenette and Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger. “Majors committees should also be a channel of communication from department chairs and program directors to students who are engaged with the department,” it states. “At any time, but particularly in the current economic climate, it is imperative that students are well informed and provided with as much information as possible regarding their department.” Previous Cuts Since last year, the College has become accustomed to the idea of cuts to the curriculum. The curriculum shrank by roughly 60 course sections for the 2009-2010 academic year, which did affect some departments more than others. Last year, many students and alumnae/i reacted to the news that the contracts of two adjunct English professors’ contracts would not be renewed and a few departments, like the Computer Science Department, experienced a significant cut in the number of sections it could offer relative to its size. The department was cut by two courses— six sections—after Associate Professor of Computer Science Tom Ellman became Director of the Media Studies Program. “One of the conditions the Computer Science Department requested when agreeing to release this person to the Media Studies Program was that the Computer Science courses normally taught by that person would be taught by visitors,” said Chair of the Computer Science Department Jenny Walter, “At the time, the faculty member became the director of Media Studies, [Former Dean of the Faculty] Sharp agreed to hire adjuncts to teach the courses that were normally taught by the new Director of Media Studies. However, during the financial crisis last year, Dean Chenette decided not to honor the agreement and did not provide adjuncts to teach those courses.” “With two other faculty members on sabbatical during 2009-2010, the lack of adjuncts caused a 33 percent reduction in the number of courses normally taught by the Computer Science Department, the highest percentage of course reductions among any other department or program on campus,” said Walter. According to Chenette, “Enrollments in recent years suggested to us that they could offer almost the same curriculum with fewer sections of multi-section courses.” Walter disagreed with the use of course enrollment as justification for these decisions because, she said, the enrollments in the department fluctuate greatly and are presently on the rise. See REDUCTIONS on page 8
FEATURES Page 7 Breakfast for dinner all grown up, more than just pancakes November 12, 2009
Scout MacEachron for The Miscellany News
here’s something about eating breakfast for dinner that reminds me of simpler times, when my days were filled with cartoon-watching and hideand-seek, instead of term papers and problematizing theoretical frameworks. While buttermilk pancakes and chocolate chip waffles are both delicious options for this indulgent meal-reversal, I decided to go with a more “grown up” option—a frittata, sweet potato hash, arugula pesto and some mixed greens. It’s not that I’m trying to belittle the sweeter options, it’s just that I trust more of you are comfortable whipping together some Bisquick than knowing the ins and outs of frittata creation. And though I’ve chosen to devise this meal as a dinner, it would be just as delectable when eaten for breakfast, lunch, brunch or linner (my special meal-time). Besides being utterly scrumptious and satisfying, frittatas are a wonderful way to make use of leftover items or vegetables you don’t know what else to do with. Basically crust-less quiches, frittatas are Italian omelets that are not folded, but instead baked and sliced. You can really put anything you want in your frittata—a wide array of meats, vegetables and cheeses—but this week I decided to keep it vegetarian. I used onions, kale, spinach, tomatoes and a little bit of sharp provolone cheese. The tomatoes are an out-of-season cheat, but I couldn’t resist the bright red to contrast with the golden yellow of the eggs and the deep green of the kale and spinach. Kale is a vegetable that people tend to scoff at, believing it’s best suited to decorate the iced bowls on a salad bar, but it is surprisingly delicious and filled with antioxidants; it provides more vitamin K than your body needs in a week, has lots of vitamin A and even contains some calcium. Combined with the spinach, this frittata packs a healthy punch that your friends would never know is hidden underneath the tastiness of the fluffy eggs. I began with onions because they really do make everything taste better, and I topped it with some shredded provolone to give it a rich, golden brown crust (and, provolone was on sale). The real secret to a good frittata is a trustworthy pan. Though I advocate non-stick for most things egg-related, your frittata needs to go in the oven; so, if your non-stick isn’t oven-safe, it just won’t cut it for this dish. Ideally, you should use a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan. If you don’t have one, you can make the entire frittata on the stove, but it will be difficult to get the desired crust on top. I paired the frittata with a sweet potato, broccoli and gruyere hash because, in my mind, no breakfast is complete without potatoes. Hash is basically a generic name for diced ingredients that cook for a long while into a wonderful mash of flavor. I’m a big sweet potato fan because they have more flavor and are better for you than regular potatoes—a rare combination in the culinary world. The broccoli adds a textural and color contrast and just a little bit of gruyere (literally) ties the entire dish together. As far as the pesto in this dish, I make pesto with arugula in the fall because it’s much more plentiful than basil, but just as good. Of course it’s peppery compared with basil’s sweetness, but both pestos can be employed similarly, and I find that complementing a frittata with pesto brings it into the realm of extraordinary. Adding a small green salad rounds out the meal and makes it clear that you are eating dinner (or lunch, brunch or linner), and not a rushed, early morning breakfast. It should also be known that this is the least expensive recipe I’ve submitted to date, yet it yielded the most food and left my housemates just as satisfied as any other. I barely spent $17, and this meal could easily be done more cheaply. If you wake up on a Sunday morning and prepare your house a frittata, I’m sure your housemates will let you escape bathroom-duty for another week (and it only took you 20 minutes).
Spinach, Kale and Tomato Frittata »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »»
1 T olive oil 1 onion, sliced 2 cups chopped kale 1 cup chopped spinach 6 eggs 1 c. whole milk 2 small tomatoes, chopped 1/2 c. shredded sharp provolone cheese (or cheddar, or swiss, or brie, or anything really) »» Salt and pepper to taste 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 2. Heat the olive oil in heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. 3. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until they soften.
4. Add the kale and spinach; reduce the heat to medium, and sauté for another 3 minutes or so, until the greens begin to wilt. Make sure you salt your greens well. If you’re using a stainless steel pan and are worried about eggs sticking to it, you can remove the vegetables at this point and hit the pan with a bit of cooking spray or more oil. After that, you should put the vegetables back in the pan. 5. Whisk together the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir until the greens are dispersed throughout. 6. Add the tomatoes and top with the shredded cheese.
7. Carefully place the entire pan into the preheated oven, on a rack close to the top. 8. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the eggs have just set (you can check this by taking the pan—with a pot-holder or towel—and giving it a slight shake. You don’t want to see the eggs wiggle). 9. When the eggs have set, turn on the broiler and broil the top for about 60 seconds, until it is golden brown. 10. To serve, carefully place a triangular wedge of the frittata on a plate and top it with some arugula pesto (recipe follows) and some mixed greens tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Gruyere Hash »» »» »» »»
2 T olive oil 1 onion chopped 1 clove garlic chopped 3 large sweet potatoes, diced into ½ inch pieces »» 2 large crowns of broccoli, chopped into small florets »» Salt and pepper to taste »» 1/2 c. shredded gruyere cheese 1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. 2. Add the onions and garlic, season with a little salt, and sauté five minutes until the onions begin to soften. 3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring every minute or so. You don’t want to stir too much, because you want to allow the sweet potatoes and onions to get a little
crispy. 4. Add the broccoli and a little more salt, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. What you are looking for is a mash of softened vegetables that all meld together. If your sweet potatoes are cut bigger, they will take longer to cook, so be sure you taste the sweet potatoes to ensure doneness. Also, if the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, you can add 1/4 c. of water to loosen it a bit. 5. When all of the vegetables in the hash are fully cooked, add the cheese, stir and serve immediately. Note: I feel that I should use this opportunity to clear up the age-old sweet potato vs. yam debate. What are commonly referred to as yams in this country are actu-
Arugula Pesto »» »» »» »» »» »»
1 clove garlic 1 T pine nuts 2 c. arugula 1 t salt 1/4 c. parmesan cheese 1/2 c. olive oil
1. In a food processor or blender, chop the garlic and pine nuts. 2. Add the arugula and a drizzle of olive
oil and continue to chop. Scrape down the sides to bring the entire mixture to the bottom. 3. Now, with the food processor running, slowly pour the rest of the olive oil into it, until a deep green, thick paste forms. You can add more or less olive oil to achieve your desired consistency. 4. Pour the pesto into a bowl, and stir in the salt and parmesan cheese.
at miscellanynews.com To view this recipe step-by-step in photos, please visit the Miscellany’s photojournalism blog, Exposure.
Vassar in pictures http://blogs.miscellanynews.com/exposure
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ally sweet potatoes. Yams are an entirely different vegetable that is grown primarily in Africa, usually deep brown in color, and must be cooked for a long period of time to remove the toxins. Though “yam” has become synonymous with “sweet potato” in America, they really are two separate vegetables with very little in common.
Grocery List Field Greens Sweet Potatoes Provolone Cheese Gruyere Cheese Boice Bros. Whole Milk Tomatoes 1/2 dozen eggs Onions Arugula Kale Spinach Broccoli
$0.96 $2.03 $2.00 $1.84 $0.99 $0.97 $1.10 $1.10 $1.49 $0.73 $1.31 $2.79
November 12, 2009
VSA attempts to reinvigorate use of majors committees: Communication between departments, students deemed crucial REDUCTIONS continued from page 6 Indeed, Chenette recognized that the department’s courses experienced much higher enrollment than they had in the past few years. “This fall, they are enrolling a larger total number of students in 8 course sections than they did last fall in 12 sections. Average enrollments in Computer Science courses appear to have increased dramatically since last year, and we are likely to need to add sections back for 2010-11 in response,” Chenette wrote in an e-mailed statement. According to Walter, this is good news for the department. Computer Science will be able to hire three adjunct faculty members,, replacing one faculty member who will be on sabbatical, to teach courses that would otherwise be cut. The disparity between the past enrollments of the department and the current enrollments in its sections demonstrates the difficulty of predicting the popularity of courses. The Computer Science Department’s diminished staffing, which was in part a result of the department’s connection with a multidisciplinary program, also embodies a discussion that has been surfacing at the College as to how to staff the courses of multi- and interdisciplinary courses, which do not house a group of faculty of their own. Cross-Listing Courses To alleviate the strain of curricular reductions on both departments and programs, many areas are endeavoring to cross-list as many courses as possible, increasing the variety of courses in both multidisciplinary programs and professors’ home departments. “I have made a concerted effort to cross-list more courses,” said Associate Professor of History and Director of Women’s Studies Lydia Murdoch. Murdoch is also a participating faculty member in the Victorian Studies and Urban Studies Programs. For the Women’s Studies Program’s spring course offerings, Murdoch cross-listed five courses for the first time, so rather than simply counting towards the Women’s Studies major as approved courses, these five courses are now formally recognized as Women’s Studies courses. However, she also stressed that each program approaches crosslisting differently. Ellman also addressed the difficulties of getting faculty to teach in multidisciplinary programs and the importance of cross-listing. “Departments become less willing to lend faculty to programs, so directors like me have to work harder to find people to staff their courses. Fortunately, in Media Studies we’ve been able to staff the courses we need to teach,” he wrote in an e-mailed statement. “It’s hard for a small department to give up
one of its members to teach in a multidisciplinary program because we have so few faculty members,” said Walter. “I know the Computer Science Department would like to have more multidisciplinary connections if we could be sure that the department did not experience reductions in course offerings as a result.” One reason for cross-listing more courses is the possibility of a resistance within departments to release faculty members to teach courses in a multidisciplinary program, though Giannini explained that this was not actually major concern. “If we offer a program in media studies or international studies or whatever, you’ve made a commitment to the department and to the students that you’re going to offer the courses necessary,” said Giannini. “Cross-listing doesn’t really create additional seats. It’s a way of advertising courses to different constituencies,” said Giannini. “Let’s say you have a relatively small department, relatively small number of majors in the department, and you were offering a course that could benefit majors in another department, then it makes perfect sense to offer the course and to cross-list the course with another department or two.” According to Associate Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Tom Porcello, multidisciplinary programs rely partially on cross-listed courses, but they also rely on courses housed within departments. “I think the multidisciplinary programs are concerned mainly about two things,” he said. “One is, will we be able to continue to get faculty released by their departments to teach the courses that originate in the multidisciplinary programs? And second, what are departments ultimately going to decide about what courses they’re no longer going to teach, or teach as frequently? That could make it hard for multidisciplinary programs to know whether the courses that they rely on from departments are going to be offered regularly enough or are going to disappear from the catalog.” Porcello was involved in the creation of the Media Studies Program at Vassar and explained that when the program first started, there was pressure to make sure that the new program would not expand the curriculum, so it has relied on courses already offered by the College since its inception. The only practical difference he saw between cross-listed courses and approved courses is that a certain percentage of seats are saved for majors from each department or program when the course is cross-listed. More than preserving programs, cross-listing some courses simply makes sense. “It’s been largely a very autonomous culture here where individual departments and individual faculty
members decide what they want to teach and don’t necessarily have that high of an awareness that there are similar things being taught in another department or in a multidisciplinary program,” said Chenette. “I think this is part of a bigger need at the College for more conversation about what each other are doing and more awareness of the fact that we’re all in this together.” “Cross-listing is something that happens a little bit at random based on who’s thinking about it and who’s working toward it, so there are a lot of courses that are cross-listed and that make a lot of sense and that people benefit from,” said Damon-Moore. “There are a lot of courses that could be cross-listed and aren’t, either because people genuinely have an objection to them being cross-listed, or—and I think this happens more—because nobody’s sitting down and thinking, ‘what could I cross-list this with?’” Though thematically a cross-listing might make sense, in order to cross-list a course all departments and programs involved must agree that the course would be beneficial to their majors, which sometimes conflicts with the practical requirements. For example, any course cross-listed with the History Department must be taught by a trained historian, which often means a History Department faculty member. Walter said that cross-listing courses was preferable to having faculty leave the already small Computer Science Department to teach in multidisciplinary programs. “That’s hard because, for the department, you have to give up a person or a half of a person or a third of a person,” she said. “I guess our department has a commitment to the Media Studies Program because of what Professor Ellman has done, and I know we’d like to have more multidisciplinary connections if we just had more people to teach the courses that also need to be taught.” She continued to say that the Computer Science Department would be cross-listing more courses in the future, but there are disciplinary considerations for each cross-listed course. “In the future I think we’re going to be reaching out and there’s going to be a lot more interconnection between our department and what we teach in other areas that aren’t in the sciences,” she said, “but you’ve got to make sure that you keep it rigorous enough that both types of students who are taking it actually benefit and get enough out of it.” Schedule of Classes and Team Teaching As the College looks to make cuts across the curriculum, it has also seen the need to use its curricular resources wisely, namely, how team
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
teaching and shifts in the weekly schedule of classes might help alleviate pressures in some departments. The Office of the Dean of the Faculty as well as the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP) have been exploring both issues in recent meetings. Though changes to the schedule are unlikely to come soon, both Chenette and Giannini expressed hope that they would be able to tackle conflicts with 50-minute morning sections of foreign language classes that frequently conflict with two 75-minute course periods. “Change is not something people do easily. When you look at moving courses into areas that reduce conflicts you’re talking either earlymorning, late afternoon or Friday, none of which students or faculty are particularly fond of,” said Giannini. Besides the 50-minute sections, CCP also recognized the difficulty that the College has scheduling lab classes. One proposal to add an extra lab section is to move the period on Wednesday afternoons—a time in which courses are otherwise not allowed to be scheduled— to Friday afternoons, though Chenette worried that this would be an unpopular change. “The other, I think, would be a less hard sell—trying to align the 75-minute long classes so that they start at the same time in the morning rather than having 75-minute classes that overlap with two different hour-long class times. There we would actually lose some class sections time slots, but we would have fewer conflicts between classes,” said Chenette. Chenette and the CCP have also been reviewing proposals for team-taught courses, in which two faculty from different academic backgrounds collaborate to teach a course, more carefully this year. “We’re applying some pressure for people to articulate why is it really important to team teach. And CCP is also taking up this issue,” said Chenette. He added that a subcommittee of CCP is “working on the rationales for team teaching that justify putting two teaching load equivalencies into one course and then considering whether we should have a process of approval of team teaching just to make sure that we do it thoughtfully and carefully.” Giannini explained the importance of perspective over the entirety of the College’s curricular resources as decisions are made. “When you’re looking to make decisions that use the resources that the College has as economically as possible, you try to look at everything—what are we doing that’s efficient, what are we doing that’s maybe not so efficient that we can do differently. Team teaching, number of sections, enrollment, all of those things go into those decisions,” said Giannini.
November 12, 2009
The US consitutional right to Examining the residency and vote must never be forfeited belonging of Vassar students Sung Eun Kim
his column is a response to the injunction on Election Day which barred Vassar students from their Constitutional right to vote. The injunction filed by Town of Poughkeepsie Republican Committee Chairman Thomas Martinelli on Tuesday, Nov. 3, the day of county-level elections, can be best described as a combination of political malpractice and legal manipulation at best. The right to vote is a fundamental facet of democracy that should not be played as a political or legal game. Just because the injunction is legally viable is not to say that it fully protects the justices and democratic rights that citizens are entitled to. While the injunction tried to ensure the fairness of voter registration and eligibility, it overlooked citizens’ basic right to vote. Even on the note of legal viability, one should note that a higher court eventually lifted the injunction. Voting is a fundamental right and an unequivocal justice in our democratic system; the injunction is a manifestation of the flaws within the legal system, which rather than seeking to correct anti-democratic practices, instead legally reinforces the practice of excluding people. The question should not be whether the injunction was legally apt, nor if using voting machines vis-à-vis affidavit ballots was any different. What is at stake here is the integrity of our democracy, which under proper circumstances should allow students to vote using a voting machine, like everyone else, without intimidation, harassment and age discrimination. At one of Vassar’s two voting locations, Arthur S. May Elementary School, the Republican Committee Chairman Mr. Martinelli claimed that he challenged students’ votes on the basis of residency. Various accounts revealed that students were being challenged based on their age, not simply their residency. Despite both students and older members of the Vassar community being registered under 124 Raymond Av-
enue addresses, the majority of voter challenges were made against students. A challenge based on residency should have applied to everyone registered at this address, not just students. While it is within a poll-watcher’s legal rights to challenge a voter’s eligibility, it is no one’s right to make a challenge based on age or how young the voter looks. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution states: “The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” This is not to deny the importance of residency. It should be the people who reside in Dutchess County who vote their own County Legislators to offices. Even if we admit that Vassar is somewhat isolated from the surrounding community, is the solution an injunction that further segregates and epitomizes the very division that is profound in our community? Postelection has left us at a crossroads: One path envisions students further participating in the community by going out to vote, whereas the other path reinforces the Vassar bubble, discouraging us from voting and participating in the greater community. Is it really unclear as to which is the preferable path to take? Politics often has the effect of obscuring what is clearly within our rights. While the New York Supreme Court’s approval of the injunction is troubling, the New York State Court of Appeals did repeal this injunction, ensuring the integrity of our fundamental right to vote. Nov. 3, 2009 was not the first time systematic, institutional obstacles were set in place to bar parts of the American community from voting. Countless people have willingly given up their lives and made sacrifices in order for us to have the right to demonstrate that we care about our community. The least we can do is to walk those two blocks and cast our votes. —Sung Eun Kim ’10 was the field coordinator of Dutchess County Democratic Campaign.
Sophia Williams Guest Columnist
ommunity is a term we tend to throw around here at Vassar—it is a nice word, one that makes us seem more inclusive, but also allows us to both excuse and define behaviors and to create a wall we can stand behind to cloak our collective indignation. On Election Day last Tuesday, those Vassar students who chose to vote here in Poughkeepsie were stopped short as they attempted to step outside the Vassar bubble by the means of a court ordered injunction preventing Vassar students from voting on the lever machines, brought by the Town of Poughkeepsie Republican Party. It is my belief that this was not an attempt to disenfranchise, but a measure taken by the GOP to ensure that those students voting were indeed voting in their correct district. Voter registration has to be updated if and when a student changes housing, and it came to the attention of the party that many Vassar students had not done that. Therefore, the injunction was brought so that their registration could be checked. As easy as I find it to explain on paper what happened, when it comes time to speak to the more substantive question of why, I find myself having a much harder time. The situation at Arthur S. May Elementary School evoked much outrage, and the prevailing sentiment emerging was that the right of students to vote was being challenged unfairly. However, this argument is based on the assumed right of the vote, and when such an assumption is made without the consideration of the practical consequences that your vote carries, we have an ideological divide. Was the injunction reflective of a partisan move? Perhaps. It brought up. however, the more nuanced issue of whether or not students should vote in local elections. I interned with Angela Flesland—the Republican incumbent for the District 6 County Legislator position— and in doing so, I stood on the other side of
the bubble and perceived a different picture of what we awkwardly refer to as our “community.” As the day of the elections grew nearer, I noticed much more concern on the part of local Republican officials about the role Vassar students would play, sentiments that were reflected in the voices of the community members. It becomes easy for us here at Vassar, within the safety of these walls and the bounds of academia, to view voting in an empirical and quantitative sense, but what we fail to recognize (in this and so many other areas) is that there is a definitive point where theory and practice collide in a way that demands acknowledgment. Yes, we do reside in Poughkeepsie and yes, that technically entitles us to vote here; however, the idea that residence equates a sense of belonging to a community is an entirely false one. Our belonging to this community requires active participation, and while some would argue that voting is the first step in that direction, I argue that it should be the last. Although I have worked in Poughkeepsie, volunteered, eaten, shopped, baby-sat, mentored and played here, I would say I have spent the past four years living at Vassar, and there is a fundamental difference. I have never taken advantage of the Poughkeepsie libraries, been subject to the discipline of its courts, nor have I real stake in the economic climate of the town; my loyalties have always lain in the welfare of Vassar and of my own hometown. We will, of course, stumble upon the larger issue of whether or not the temporariness of our tenure here is the biggest factor in our periphery roles. I want to reiterate that it matters less the length of time than the depth of belonging. In theory, I am not personally against Vassar students voting, but in practice, however, I think we first and foremost must examine our own interests and prejudices that lie in our own alliances. —Sophia Williams ’10 was an intern on Angela Flesland’s campaign for County Legislator.
Elimination of rowing team disregards student opinion John Gregory
reative, genuine, ambitious, motivated, passionate, curious and relentless—these words flash across the Vassar Admissions website for any visitor to see, suggesting the school’s core values. Abstract as these concepts may be, they became engrained in my way of life and ring true to me today as they did while I attended Vassar, graduating with the Class of 2004. I was a member of the rowing team during those four years, serving as captain for three of the years, and during that specific experience the principles of the school became my own. I was devastated to read that Vassar’s administration thinks so little of the student-athletes on the rowing team to cut the program from varsity status. The proposed concept, suggesting that the year-round dedication required for successful participation in collegiate rowing could somehow be equaled by a loosely-knit community organization, is irresponsible and uninformed. It is not only lazy problem-solving—dumping both the men and women’s rowing teams so as not have to carefully consider every aspect of the athletics budget—but more important to the community as a whole, this administrative regime’s disregard for the most core and vital of Vassar’s values is actually frightening. The administrators of the College must not be allowed to make dictatorial decisions that single out specific, dedicated, hard-working groups as problematic to the whole. Their careless approach to problem solving—without consultation or transparency—cuts too deep into the hearts of the students, staff and alumni. The uncreative and ill-explained false solution of axing the rowing team in response to necessary budget cuts will stand as precedent within the College, and will leave no student safe to pursue their passion of choice at Vassar. Consider the steps in the so-called process which was applied to this decision: 1. Athletics Department staff meeting in June 2009 informs coaches that a sports program may be cut, presenting coaches with criteria affecting the consideration.
2. Administration considers moving rowing to a club sport and contacts Hudson River Rowing Association (HRRA) in a meeting with Vassar’s head rowing coach during Fall 2009 on the feasibility of Vassar students rowing with the HRRA club. 3. HRRA responds positively, suggesting that a college club team compiling students from Dutchess Community College, Bard, SUNY New Paltz and other local schools could possibly be formed. 4. Vassar’s head rowing coach asks that administration open dialogue to students on the issue so that discussion can ensue. 5. Administration tells rowing coaches and select students that rowing will be demoted from a varsity sport to a club activity through HRRA. Whose input was taken in this decision? Besides the outside body of the HRRA, which would clearly benefit from gaining the athleticism and skill of Vassar’s rowers, no one was consulted; even the suggestions of the head coach were dismissed. Where is the democracy? Where is the thought? Where are the numbers that justify altering the lives of all current members of the rowing team, as well as killing the legacy of nearly 150 years worth of rowing history at our school? I was astounded to read that the administration could possibly believe that, as Dean Kitzinger puts it, “If we cut a team as a varsity team, we have a very equal and competitive experience that we can offer a student who is interested in that sport.” Does the Vassar name mean so little to those who run it that they may honestly believe a community organization could provide an experience parallel to what Vassar already offers? If this obtuse and reductive form of thought is allowed by the school’s leaders, why not simply merge the school with Duchess Community College? We can share all of our resources with them, and they can share their equal and competitive experience with us likewise. This, of course, is not a viable option, so why not consider others? How do all of the other Seven Sisters manage to maintain rowing teams? Did the administration even think to ask? Maybe now, during this time of economic crisis,
would be a good time to engage the concept of Sisterhood—amongst the Seven Sisters schools and within our own, instead of singling out a sport as if it creates a problem for the whole. Regrettably, no numbers were provided by the administrators on how they weighed the categories they set in order to justify dismissing rowing, or what numbers were crunched for the rowing team—or other teams—in arriving at their decision to eliminate crew. The value of the team to those who participate, and to the campus as a whole, is in fact unquantifiable and priceless, but to borrow a phrase from a teammate, “I was taught in second grade what Vassar needs to teach itself now and that is to SHOW YOUR WORK!” The rowing team is not just large, it is thriving and winning. I encourage you to read about current and past successes of the team on the athletics department website. Suffice it to say that both the men’s and women’s teams have proven time and again, year after year, that Vassar’s rowers are not only amongst the best in the state, but also have ranked consistently with the best in the country. The only number the administration has shown is an unclear bottom-line budget number, which sounds like a lot of money when we do not consider any parameters such as how many students participate and the dual-season nature of the sport and, for that matter, without any points of comparison against other sports at Vassar or rowing programs at other schools. Really worst of all, while in fact the team is away winning gold for the school, the administration would mislead the campus to believe that it is a failing program which does not have a place at Vassar, and that it should be relegated to a community-based program for lower-level competitors. Shame on them for making anyone feel less worthy of participating, making anyone think for a moment that they don’t belong. Have we not yet learned that the concept of separate-but-equal, as is proposed for the rowing team, is by nature discriminatory? It may not be racial discrimination, but recognize it for what it is—unjust decisions are being made about who is allowed to remain within the fold,
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
and who must be cast out. In isolating one group, specifically an athletic team that is primarily active away from the main campus, the administration clearly aims to sneak this shady decision by as quietly as possible. Simply put, if they do not touch your club’s or sport’s budget, the administration bets that you will not protest the unfair treatment of a small, isolated group, and to them your silence will equal complacency. Do not be fooled, it is deliberate and malicious, this singling out of a “problematic” group; we do not have to reach too far back in history to see how these abuses of power may unfold if passivity allows them to go unchecked. Do. Not. Be. Fooled. If you are a rower or a runner or a Night Owl or a Barefoot Monkey or a Mug-rat, this abuse is happening at everyone’s Vassar. As a community, do we abandon our fellow members with so little forethought and consideration as this—behind closed doors with only a couple disinterested, unqualified parties making the decisions for the masses? It is pathetic that with all of the brilliant minds who make up Vassar’s intellectual populous, this autocratic decision is the best stab at problem solving the administration can attempt. Where is the creativity, the motivation, the curiosity, the relentlessness? If these ideas are not the convictions by which we truly function with our every breath, to be exemplified most importantly by our leaders, then these are only empty symbols on a webpage intended to lure-in optimistic students, and the name of Vassar itself is meaningless beyond the price tag it represents. In what seems to be brutal irony, President Hill comments in her own op-ed, “Of course, not everyone is in the position to make a financial gift to the College, and that is understandable. There are many other ways to support Vassar, including participating in the discussions about the future of the institution in constructive, responsible and thoughtful ways” (“Hill replies to Staff Editorial, promises 5 percent pay cut”, 11.5.09). Where and when is this thoughtful discussion to take place? It is clearly not happening in the offices of the College’s deans. Is See ROWING on page 12
November 12, 2009
Obama’s performance contrary to campaign promises Angela Aiuto
s a New Jersey resident, I am nonplussed by speculation by media speculation that last week’s gubernatorial election was in some way a referendum on President Obama’s first year in office. If anything, I considered it a referendum on former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s previous four years in office. However, a reflection on Obama’s performance to date does raise legitimate questions about the potential outcomes of the 2010 midterm elections. I agree with my co-editor, Kelly Shortridge, that the future success of the Democrats is relatively uncertain, but I disagree with her reasoning behind this assumption—that the Democrats “are sticking with viewpoints that are unfavorable.” (“Republicans should focus on small government movement,” 11.5.09) The logic seems kind of silly when one considers exactly what platform President Obama ran on: a commitment to more liberal economic policies; a
retreat from America’s foreign policy of domination; and the inclusion of a public option in health care reform. These policies should not be dismissed as being considered “unfavorable” by most citizens, as these are the policies for which a majority of Americans voted. Instead of suggesting that Obama is alienating Americans with supposedly radical policies, perhaps we should instead look at whether he is actually doing what he promised to do. Thus far, Obama’s performance can be considered shoddy at best. Although Joe the Plumber’s fears of “spreading the wealth around” were certainly confirmed by Obama’s support of a more progressive tax code, one can see from the President’s feeble treatment of the fallen financial giants and his reluctance to reform the North American Free Trade Agreement that he is committed to maintaining structural economic inequalities. Obama also effectively condoned the use of torture with his “look forward, not back” philosophy, which excused from prosecution the CIA
Obama in the right: in defense of targeted killings on leaders Josh Rosen
Assistant Opinions Editor
merican use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) for the purpose of attacking terrorists has been deemed suspect by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston, who charged, “drones...are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law” in comments made on Oct. 28. Specifically, Alston believes that the use of UCAVs by the United States may constitute arbitrary extrajudicial killings. This is quite the ridiculous claim. The use of UCAVs to pursue terrorists and their allies in the context of a military or intelligence agency operation is consistent with the principles of international law. More importantly, these targeted killings are in keeping with the mandate of a sovereign nation to defend itself and its allies by eliminating its avowed enemies. As a candidate, President Barack Obama said that he would “act to protect the American people,” subject to the ability of “actionable intelligence,” through the use of strikes by UCAVs. Obama’s explicit approval of targeted killings became even more apparent when he, according to a New York Times article from February 2009, began to expand targeted killings of terrorist leaders and UCAV attacks on terror cells into Pakistan, continuing and “in some cases extending…Bush administration policy.” There is no doubt—the Obama administration is continuing the policy of using targeted killings as part of the greater struggle with terrorism. Given that the Obama administration is willing to use unmanned drones to attack terrorists and their leadership, in particular, the issue is not one of whether targeted killings will happen, it is whether they ought to be happening in the name of the American people. I submit that targeted killings are worthwhile: Eliminating terrorists and the leadership as a preventative measure is a worthwhile task. Not only are drone attacks worthwhile, but, in comparison to most other methods of attacking terrorist targets, they are quite humane and demonstrate great sensitivity towards collateral damage— the most politically acceptable way to couch the deaths of innocent bystanders. Other methods of attacking terrorists or their leaders are not necessarily as palatable as drone-based targeted killings. Compare a raid by high-altitude bombers—which has a high propensity to cause disproportionate collateral damage, whether due to unintentional inaccuracy or excessive use of explosive devices—or
an artillery strike to the current method standoff missile strikes by UCAVs, and it is apparent that a missile strike does not only constitute less force being used, but that the missile, used appropriately, is less likely to cause collateral damage simply because it is more accurate and has a smaller area of effect. Additionally, since targeted killings that involve unmanned vehicles keep American and allied forces out of danger, there is little risk of jeopardizing our own forces, whereas with ground raids that involve American or NATO soldiers, the wellbeing of friendly forces is placed at an unnecessary level of risk. Hence, the nature of targeted killings as they are practiced today by the military and intelligence agencies is one that is fundamentally aware of the new form of conflict that the United States is engaged in, as the use of UCAVs recognizes the particular constraints of fighting a “War on Terror,” where discretion in the use of force is a key aspect in maintaining political will, plausible deniability and advancing strategic goals. Alston is patently wrong in claiming that targeted killings are not permissible under international law. Rather, as Amos Guiora writes in the Journal of International Law, an individual that is targeted for killing is not “an innocent civilian according to the Geneva Conventions. Rather, the individual is an illegal combatant who has either participated in terror attacks or ordered them to be carried out.” As such, since the killing is intended as a preventative measure, it does not fall under the legal category of an extrajudicial killing, for its “primary objective is the prevention of a terrorist act intended to kill innocent civilians,” not a punitive measure. For the purposes of Mr. Alston’s claims that the United States is engaging in actions that are reckless with the lives of civilians, comparisons with other possible tactics shows that UCAVbased targeted killings are among the more humane of the tactics used by the United States in the current overseas contingency operations that the military and intelligence agencies are now contending with. As the conflict with radical extremism continues, it would be advisable for the United Nations and the various human rights organizations to work towards understanding the security necessities of the parties involved, and to recognize that the practices of the United States are in place to preserve the greater good. To be blunt, targeted killings are a legally valid, practical method of preventing terror—if there was another equally effective way to do so at this juncture, would it not be implemented?
agents who carried out torture. And Obama has wavered in his support for a strong public option. This is perhaps the most glaring of Obama’s transgressions from the platform on which he was elected. He supported a public option during his campaign, but this support has waned throughout the legislative process. In his Sept. 9 speech before Congress, Obama stated that he did not consider the public option essential to health care reform. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chose in late October to push forward with a public option with an optout provision in the Senate health care bill, news outlets reported that Obama was supportive of Olympia Snowe’s markedly weaker trigger option. Preisdent Obama’s continued backtracking on health care reform, as on other issues, has not only frustrated progressives who have worked hard to make his campaign promises a reality. More importantly, it has frustrated moderate Americans who hoped to see American politics move away from the überconservative
direction in which it had been taken by the Bush Administration. How these broken promises will complicate the 2010 election is difficult to say. I agree with Kelly that Republicans need to move toward a more “economically-minded,” small government platform, but I question their ability to accomplish this end. Judging by the debate over health care reform that took place this weekend, with conservative congressman employing unproductive delay tactics and harping on social issues like abortion—a relatively unimportant concern when one considers the mammoth issues of accessibility and cost—it becomes clear that Republicans aren’t ready to engage in legitimate political debate. But if Democrats remain divided, with a leader who is unable or unwilling to unite them under the progressive platform on which he was elected, the future for Democrats doesn’t look too bright, either. —Angela Aiuto ’11 is the Opinions Editor.
Gubernatorial elections do not indicate disapproval of Obama I
was wrong. The Republican Party is not dead. For readers of my previous columns, I noted last year that the Republican Party was going to be relegated to minority status for a long time, unless they could get their act together, which I believed they couldn’t (“The Republican Party is dead, or at least mortally wounded,” 11.13.08). I say right now, I was wrong. Following the Republican takeover of the Governor’s mansions in New Jersey and Virginia last week, my view has changed: Clearly, the Republican Party is poised to make a comeback of epic proportions. They’ll take Congress in 2010! They’ll make Barack Obama a one-termer! Conservatism will rule over our great land once more! Okay, enough sarcasm. The truth is, these elections mean very little, despite what you may hear Michael Steele and pundits on the right suggest. The three big races across the country were Governor of Virginia, Governor of New Jersey and a special election in New York’s 23rd District—and none of them signal a teabagger resurgence. Let’s take Virginia first. This is a state which hasn’t voted in a governor of the sitting President’s party since 1977. The fact that Republicans won here isn’t a surprise. The surprise is that, according to exit poll data, President Obama is more popular among registered voters now than on Election Day 2008, where he swept the state. Believe it or not, people can vote for a Republican for governor and still support their Democratic president. Then there’s the New Jersey gubernatorial race, where Governor Jon Corzine came back from a double-digit deficit to come nearly neck-and-neck with now Governor-elect Chris Christie. New Jersey politics isn’t my business, but I suspect that the former Goldman Sachs’ executive’s loss has more to do with corruption in state government and Corzine’s less-thanstellar performance in office than a teabagger revolution sweeping the nation. The most surprising result that nobody’s talking about is the Democratic takeover of the 23rd District in New York. As an upstate New Yorker myself, I can tell you that it’s very surprising when a Democrat does well, considering the big issues north of Westchester tend to be huntin’ and fishin’, areas where the Republicans usually have the advantage. This story is interesting because it shows what’s happened to the Republican Party in recent years—the moderates have been pushed out. Endorsed by
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the National Rifle Association and prominent conservatives like Newt Gingrich, the Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava should have been a shoo-in for the seat, which Republicans have held since before the Civil War. But Scozzafava’s stance on abortion and gay marriage was just too much for the Grand Old Party. So accountant Doug Hoffman ran on a platform of teabagging under the Conservative Party line, and senior Republican Party leaders endorsed Hoffman, throwing their weight behind the far-right candidate. Hoffman was supposed to be the first in a D-Day-like wave of freedom; instead, he lost in a district that hasn’t gone for the right-wing since before World War I. Despite Democratic losses, Barack Obama is not a lame-duck President. Subtracting widely-panned internet and automated robocalling, polling data gives the President a 10 percent split between approval and disapproval rating. Even with bad internet polls, the President is ahead with the American public—and so is the public option, which registers with 65 percent support. Those numbers are hardly those of a President who is mired in failure, as the Republicans, with their 25 percent approval rating, seem to suggest. Believe it or not, these elections were more than just statements of “I love the President” and “Impeach the Muslim Marxist.” They’re more than just about the President. Each election had separate candidates, each with distinct political views and qualifications. The Democrats were more than avatars of Barack Obama, and the Republicans were more than just the opposite of Obama. Granted, the President doesn’t have it easy. The Democratic Party isn’t in the clear here, but the real lesson to be learned is that Democrats have to actually do what they were elected to do, or else their supporters will stay home, and Republicans will win. Some will say that this is a backlash to the President’s handling of health care, but the truth is that President Obama has a 52 percent approval rating, and it is obvious a large part of those discontented are on the left, upset that the Obama administration has not pushed a single-payer plan or has been halfhearted in his support of the public option. The teabaggers have a lot of work to do. —Steve Keller ’11 is a political science major editorializing on American politics this semester.
November 12, 2009
Peer-to-peer file sharing not worth risk Matthew Harvey
’m sure that more than a few of the readers of this piece recently received a rather exciting e-mail from Dean of Students D.B. Brown. It basically notified me that the College had noticed my computer doing all sorts of illegal things. The e-mail instructed me to delete all my music and swear this will never happen again. Other students whose computers’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses were found to be associated with the use of illegal peer-to-peer file sharing networks likely received a similar e-mail. There are logical, defensible, rational arguments for why this sort of thing is illegal, which is why I find it necessary to give voice to some dissenting opinions. The phenomenon that is peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing only burst into the digital music scene in the late 1990s. The networks effectively create a web of connected computers that let users upload songs, music videos or anything else they might care to share. The material is then available for download by anyone with access—which is usually free, and comes in the form of readily-available software like Limewire or its cleaner, safer cousin, Frostwire. The problem is that while the act of downloading music isn’t in itself illegal, downloading music you haven’t payed for violates copyright law—the purpose of which is ostensibly to protect the artist. The argument runs something like this: When you acquire a permanent copy of digital material
that does not belong to you, you are in effect stealing it from the artist, who receives no compensation for the distribution of the work. Essentially, you get the music but the artist doesn’t get to sell it. How is a musical artist to support themselves when their music is freely available? The common rebuttal (of which I heartily approve) points out that when music is purchased, be it in CD form or from iTunes or anywhere else, the vast majority of the money spent on the music doesn’t actually go to the artist. This is a complex and somewhat thorny issue, but a few items bear mentioning here— foremost, the fact that depending on the artist’s record deal, they see at best 25 percent or so of the money you spend, sometimes as little as 10 percent. This money is called royalty points, and is theoretically to allow an artist to make money off of their CDs. Realistically, that royalty is spent recouping money the record label spent promoting the album, and as promotion is a continuous affair, it frequently follows that any artist less successful than Radiohead or Coldplay literally will never see any of their royalty money. The effect it actually has is to damage the income of a record label, preventing them from collecting their 80 or so percent of the profits from every record sale. It is for this reason, and not on behalf of the artists whose music was being shared on P2P networks accessed via Vassar’s wireless, that the e-mails were sent out. The campus recently switched
internet service providers, and the new one cracked down with some force on P2P network use. The College thankfully shielded the students in question from identification by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) thereby preventing them from having to pay the minimum fine of $750 per song downloaded. The consequences the College enforced were fairly minimal, but I was warned in a discussion with Dean Brown that they were likely to get more severe in the future. His reason was simple: Students don’t understand the reality of what they are doing. However unjust it may be, it is still illegal and carries heavy penalties outside Vassar. Software like Limewire and Frostwire is dangerous— it’s easy to track, easy to hack and thus often filled with viruses, and also tends to surreptitiously access the files in the user’s computer and begin uploading them back to the P2P network in order to propagate the flow of music. So, be warned, ye of little faith in the determination of the enforcers of the DMCA–while the school has your best interests at heart, and while P2P file sharing is a convenient, quick and free way of getting as much music as you could desire (and not in the least morally reprehensible!), it is potentially very damaging to your college career and to your life. There are recorded cases of students being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for the use of this sort of software. Reasonably speaking, there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing, but the risk, unfortunately, isn’t worth it.
What restricted gift would you give to the College after graduating?
“Equipment and training trips for the swim team”
Nick Veazie ’13
“I’d add secret passages in Main.”
Exploring Transfer brings talented students Branden Densmore Guest Columnist
ower and privilege are two of the most taboo subjects in modern society. Being a student at Vassar College and other highly selective schools is an enviable privilege, indeed. This is made obvious to me by the resentment such privilege breeds in people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. I know personally because I am from a working class family and was a community college student prior to my transfer to Vassar. People say things like, “Vassar students are just a bunch of rich kids who have had everything handed to them on a silver platter.” Statements like these can be seen as a reflection of envy and resentment directed toward members of an elite institution. In truth, most are not able to go to a place like Vassar. When I informed my parents about being enrolled at Vassar as a full time student they freaked. They, and everyone I told about it, were filled with excitement and pride for me. I mean, what’s the huge deal about going to a school like Vassar anyways? We all place a high value on going to a prestigious institution don’t we? I believe a big reason it’s such a huge deal is because those who attended elite schools are statistically more capable of obtaining social prestige, respect, money, power and privilege. Please note that I am not attacking elite institutions; I am simply drawing attention to the fact that social position exists. Additionally, I am advocating a certain type of elitism called meritocracy. By increasing Vassar’s awareness of meritocracy and the community college student I hope to demonstrate the necessity of allowing community college students the opportunity to compete in the application process at selective institutions around the country. Most top schools do not, excluding Vassar. Some schools don’t offer financial aid to transfer students. Others see community college on the application and don’t give it a second look. Still others, such as Harvard University, don’t even let transfer students of any kind apply to their school. In a meritocracy, elite classes gain their position, power, responsibility and privilege by their talent and ability. This is a good system. After all, society needs skilled, talented, competent leaders. This is far better than having a system based on who you know or how much money your family has. I want to take a moment to commend Vassar College’s leadership for making this ideal a reality. With Vassar’s competitive application process, need blind admissions policies, challenging homework load and the final exam hysteria, meritocracy is a real factor in today’s society. Good
job Vassar leadership! Let me ask, have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of work piled on during finals? I know I have. And have you ever felt you had so much homework you couldn’t handle it? Again, I personally have to answer yes. This can be seen as a practice to separate the wheat from the chaff. We are tested in many ways to demonstrate our abilities and we either rise to the occasion or sink like a rock. In my view this is good if Vassar students are to be the future leaders of the world. It may not be fun, but it’s good. Community college students are not members of the academic elite. I know from experience because I earned an associates’ degree from Kennebec Valley Community College in Maine. The education at a community college is far less demanding, does not offer the same scope of study and has less opportunity than an education at a prestigious school. This is not to say that a community college education is worthless! A community college education is both affordable and beneficial. It’s just not the best. The community college student does one of two things in their education generally. First, they may earn a two—year certification or vocational degree in fields such as power line working, occupational therapy or nursing. These are valuable positions that offer decent pay and are of societal importance. However, the positions that community college students tend to seek are just not the highpaying leadership-type jobs that graduates of prestigious institutions often search for. Additionally, a community college student may earn an associates of arts and then transfer to a state university to complete their bachelor’s degree. The vast majority stops their education after their bachelor’s degree and then enters the work force. It is critical to recognize that many community college students have the drive, capability and character to be top students at selective institutions. It is true that going to a highly demanding institution like Vassar is not for every community college student. Some don’t even want the opportunity. But it is my sincere belief that a number of these students can reach heights not before realized. If we are to have a true meritocracy we must let these high-achieving community college students compete. Most prestigious schools do not. Vassar is one school that does. The Exploring Transfer (ET) program at Vassar introduces community college students to the possibility of transfer to highly selective institutions. It is a six-week summer intensive where community college students take two full Vassar courses. It is challenging indeed. Believe me, I experienced it. Those
who have done well in ET have gone on to extreme success through the program. They have gone on to all manner of elite institutions and have become leading professionals in their chosen fields. This offers proof to me that community college students should be allowed to compete in all high-level institutions. Let’s look at just one example as we don’t have the time to look at them all. Professor Joe Atkins was laid off from the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in 1993. Joe went back to school at Duchess Community College in Poughkeepsie to study computer science in 1994. This was 23 years after he graduated high school. Mr. Atkins discovered he was an excellent student and that he had a deep passion for learning. He enrolled in the ET program at Vassar in the summer of 1994, did well, and applied to Vassar as a full-time student. Because of his grades, recommendations and ET experience, Atkins’ application was accepted. At first Atkins was a Computer Science major, but as time went on he realized he liked cognitive science as well. So, he decided to double major in computer science and cognitive science. Joe not only did excellently in his classes at Vassar but also completed three internships. Keep in mind that this is a community college student we are talking about here. Atkins worked for a physicist at Stanford’s Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, and subsequently worked for National Aeronautic Space Administration at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Finally, Atkins did another internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. While at Los Alamos, Joe applied for a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. He was awarded this fellowship and went to the University of Rochester for graduate school, earning his doctorate. Now Mr. Atkins works at the selective Colby College in Maine as a Professor of Psychology and the Dean of Students. Atkins even has his own laboratory where he conducts research in artificial intelligence. Not bad for a community college student. The truth is that Joe Atkins’ story does not stand alone. Many community college students have gone on to the most elite institutions after ET and excelled in their chosen fields. This is why I believe that community college students should be given the opportunity to compete in high-level environments. But, outside of Vassar, most selective schools don’t look at a community college student’s applications. In the interest of perpetuating the ideal meritocracy I believe they should. Maybe other schools could follow Vassar’s lead and create ET programs of their own.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Tara Mazer ’12
“Add more senior thesis carols.”
Henrik Isom ’10
“Men’s squash. We need more stuff. I’d pay for a coach for every player.”
Arjun Jain ’11
“Making the ACDC better.”
Joseph Schwartzman ’11
“A fund for student art, theater and music.”
Mara Connor ’13 — Angela Aiuto and Kelly Shortridge, Opinions Editors
November 12, 2009
Letter: Filmmakers appreciate dept. advice Administration W
e, the Executive Board of the Vassar Filmmakers, wish to offer a response to The Miscellany News article entitled “Student filmmakers attempt to publicize projects, craft.” We feel were unfairly linked to Brian Paccione’s criticisms of the department, as it was stated that he was “the director of Vassar Filmmakers last year” and his statements figured prominently into an article in which the Vassar Filmmakers were notably featured. We merely wish to clarify that Brian’s statements regarding the Vassar Film department were made as an individual and they are not opinions that any of the current leaders of the Vassar Filmmakers share. The Vassar Filmmakers occupies a distinct role in the Vassar community: providing, regardless of major or year, access to equipment, basic training, and opportu-
nities to participate in digital film production. Nonetheless, the Film Department has helped out Vassar Filmmakers in the past with their advice on Filmmakers projects as well as their support with regards to speakers. For example, with the department’s help we were able to bring famed documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles to campus to give a lecture last year (best know for his films Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter). Currently, the Filmmakers and the Department continue to have a good relationship, and we hope to continue to work with the Department and its faculty in the future. We’d also like to state that, contrary to the impression that article insists upon, there are in fact many venues for the display of student films. Not only does the film department offer
biannual screenings of the work of juniors and seniors, but Vassar Filmmakers also annually screens the work of its members. Additionally, this year we screened the results of our 12-hour film festival, and the Film Majors Committee, this week, is screening two students’ films. Student work is being shown and it is being seen more so today than at any point in the past. If you are at Vassar and want to make films then take film classes, join the Vassar Filmmakers, or become a part of the Film Majors Committee. Or all three. Or just come to our screenings. We’d love to see you. —The Executive Board of the Vassar Filmmakers: Kyle Porter ’10, Jonathan Miller ’11, Michael Wood ’12, Grace Statwick ’11, Timothy O’Connor ’12, Eric Schuman ’12 and Alex Levy ’12
Efficiency cuts counter to community vision Erica Licht
tanding across from Betsy in her office last week, I could barely lift my head up to meet her gaze. I was looking over at a woman who has provided inspiration for me, and my fellow and preceding peers, from this same desk for 30 years. When I came to Vassar College as a freshman in Fall 2006, President Catherine Bond Hill joined Vassar as well, and her new administration brought a message of community outreach and responsibility. The elimination this fall of the Associate Director of Field Work position held by Betsy Kopstein is entirely counterintuitive to this very message and the mission statement of the College that preaches “an increased knowledge of oneself, a humane concern for society, and a commitment to an examined and evolving set of values.” In the quest for a more streamlined corporate operating system, the Vassar administration has cut one of the positions on our campus vital to community outreach. Betsy, who was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, has been the facilitating contact for any student who has ever engaged in community fieldwork and any community agency that has ever been in need of an intern. She has held numerous leadership
positions with Poughkeepsie organizations and centers, and sat loyally on the Board of Directors for many such programs. Yet, she has been dismissed, dejected from the very institution for which she has helped to break down its own exterior walls. While carving out spaces for efficiency cuts across the campus, the Vassar administration has discredited the extreme importance of positions such as hers. Without Betsy’s presence, the Field Work office will continue to run; yet it will not be the same. The volume of students at Vassar who have taken advantage of the long-standing field work program is truly admirable, and Vassar should continue to be proud of such a substantial program. Yet, it is imperative that Vassar strives for better, and especially not worse, community outreach. Gestures by the College to extend its engagement with community programs should not be disregarded, but they should be recognized as movements within a larger, and much historical, dialogue between Vassar College and the City of Poughkeepsie. This dialogue is constantly evolving, and is shaped in good part by the decisions enacted within the gates of the Vassar administration. Students consis-
tently receive mixed messages from the administration informing them of one vision of the College, and yet acting on the ground in a completely reverse manner. Betsy’s story is no different. As a person, Betsy is one of the most warm and charismatic people I have had the opportunity to work with while at Vassar, and as an administrator she has been one of the most reliable. When she was initially hired in 1982, her position included her current responsibilities, in addition to those of now multiple separate jobs at the College. Three decades later she has been asked to pick up her things and leave. Following years of dedicated service to the Vassar community, its students and residents and organizations of the City and Town of Poughkeepsie, she has been forced to stand up from the desk by which she has long sat with pride and walk away from an institution that has challenged its own vision for community engagement. As I conclude my four years at Vassar College I will continue to be inspired by Betsy Kopstein’s humbling example, graduated too soon from Vassar, and in turn refocused from the heart of the community she continues to love and support.
should consider all voices in cuts ROWING continued from page 9 Cappy trolling through the comments section on the Miscellany’s website for the community’s thoughtful responses to the decrees handed down from on-high? Since there is no discussion whatsoever it seems clear that all of Hill’s words are empty, and our only real option is to whip out our checkbooks. I wish I could capture here all of the voices of community members who have been slashed by the impersonal and heartless methods applied during these budget cuts. I know that the rowing team and staff is joined by numerous faculty and campus personnel who are beyond frustrated by the way they have been kicked to the curb after giving so much to a place that they love. It is not only the location of Vassar to which they have dedicated their work and hearts—it is the ethos that Vassar presents, the ideas that it has upheld for so long which are now under attack from within. For President Hill and her administration to so blatantly disregard the values of the school in an attempt at leadership, they make a mockery of us all who hold these values dear. Please, show them that we as a community are not as weak as they seem to think we are, that we will not let this decision stand, that our passions cannot be dismissed with a flick of the pen. Please, show them that they may not isolate and eliminate our voices. Please, show them that they will not be allowed to trade on Vassar’s name while rotting its core values from the inside out. If you allow this slide into being governed by opacity, you will soon be attending any-other nearly-great college on a pretty little campus in the middle of nowhere which stands for nothing. But that is not what I want for the college I went to, and I doubt it is what you want for your college. So let the administration know what you think. Fight back; do not allow yourselves to be ruled by this heavy hand. —John Gregory ’04 was co-captain of the men’s crew team for three of his four years rowing at Vassar.
Crossword by Jonathan Garfinkel ACROSS 1. Imbibe, slowly 4. Toothy, Greek sea monster 10. Establishment where one might sit and 1-across 13. Discomfort 15. Some apartments 16. Chicago-NYC direction 17. Radiant 19. Bedtime attire, perhaps 20. Tennis great Arthur ____ 22. 2001 Ludacris hit 24. Less pleasant
26. ___ bind 27. Cauldrons 30. Some aquatic plants 31. When repeated, a directional aide 33. Complain 35. Camping accommodations 36. Spooky 38. Expressive 41. Do as a knave 43. Zero 44. Agcy. spending lots of time evaluating healthcare reform bills of late 47. NY wintertime time 48. Selectively slaughter, as poultry
Answers to last week’s puzzle
50. Brewers’ regulator, perhaps 52. Difficult, briefly 53. One before F 54. 1st (or 2nd, or 3rd) 56. Card game also known as “Queen of Spades” 58. Morning do 60. Kiln houses 61. Labour, for one 65. They’re stunning for some 67. Born (fr.) 68. Trap 69. Monstrous lizard found in the southwest 70. One saving your skin, briefly 72. Confidante 74. One on a throne, sometimes 78. Jaunt 79. Guided 83. 1989 Civil War flick 84. Class for intl.’s 85. Proverbial one in a coal mine 86. Wise one 87. Pronoun for Strong residents 88. Scornful expression 89. Partners of don’ts
DOWN 1. Fight for practice
2. Sinister Shakespearean schemer 3. Tablet 4. One from Inverness 5. Felon, briefly 6. Chemical ending 7. Church with its HQ in SLC 8. Fertile areas 9. On a boat 10. John, Paul, George, or Ringo 11. Task with 12. Microwave, especially leftovers 14. Like some poker games 18. Was victorious 21. Poetic “befores” 23. Detroit grp. 25. Satisfy 27. Partner of vigor 28. Shortly, to 2-down 29. Grand Wyoming mountain 31. Not verbose 32. Do like Obama, maybe 34. Well-______ (moneyed) 36. Thin sword 37. “And so on” 39. Like an Enigma’s output 40. Baby beef 42. Olympic sled
44. Pursue 45. Lite-_____ 46. Probability 49. “Chicago Hope” actress Christine _____ 51. Hubbub 55. Genuine 57. They are found above hearths 58. Weeks off for Giants or Eagles
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59. Blind ___ bat 61. Test for Jr.’s 62. Agassi and others 63. Steal 64. Possible freshman domicile 66. Band losing its religion 69. Pained sound 71. Efficiency measure
(abbr.) 73. Tolkien creatures 74. Ice cream brand 75. Carriage-way 76. Hurdle for aspiring MD’s 77. Old Overholt, and others 80. One for Giovanni 81. ___-Bo 82. Make an oops
HUMOR & SATIRE
November 12, 2009
An overview of the Majors Fair Kelly Stout
onday was the sparsely attended majors fair in the Villard Room. I spent the afternoon doling out misinformed (probably horrible) advice to earnest, doe-eyed freshmen from behind the English majors table. It was great. We had two copies of Norton’s Shakespeare Anthology, a book I had never read—or, for that matter, heard of—called something like Text and the Other and a bowl of fun-sized candy. It was a recipe for success by any standard. In between apologizing for my ignorance— “Oh yeah, we definitely have distribution requirements, I think”—and raving about how wonderful English 170 is—“No seriously, it’s awesome. I mean truly awesome. Just, trust me. It’s awesome”—it occurred to me that I wasn’t entirely sure how other departments were making their pitches. How, for example, does one convince a freshman to be a Victorian Studies major? Because research is hard, and I didn’t want to get up from the English table, I decided to use my imagination. Here’s what I found: Urban Studies: “We don’t really understand what this department is, but we’re a nice combination of well-intentioned suburbanites, who just want to understand cities, and hipsters, who want to take black and whites of architecture in Green Point.” Psychology: “We’re not just a department for blond sorority girls that can’t think of anything else to major in! This is Vassar! We’re legitimate here! No wait, come back! Don’t go over to the Neuroscience table! Psych is hard too! Wait!” Political Science: “Webster, Webster! Get down. Webster, get off that freshman! Sorry, uh, here’s the viewbook.” Africana Studies: “The only major that will teach you that Africa isn’t a country. We see that as problematic, by the way.” Art History: “We’re the only department that can both teach you to intelligently praise the dematerialization of the art object and learn the name, date and artist of 150 major works in one night. But we only want you if you’re wearing tight pants and ironically oversized glasses and did a few lines of cocaine before coming to this fair.” Earth Science/Geology: “Did you know there’s an actual mineral called ‘Cummingtonite?’ It’s true. Welcome to the wild world of geology.” Russian: “Холодная война никогда не будет
Ah, sorry.” Economics: “Let’s get serious for a second. Do you want to make six figures by age 25 or do you not? I don’t want to sound insensitive, but let’s get real.” Media Studies: “Michael Joyce is the inventor of hypertext as we know it. Do you understand how cool that is? No? Never heard of it? Well, okay, how about this: You could write your thesis on YouTube.” Film: “Sorry, but if you can’t identify why Citizen Kane was such an important film, we’re not sure we want you. Also, you’re out if you use the word ‘movie.’” French: “What? Nicolas who? Sorry, we’re really only majoring in French because we studied abroad in Paris and had a bunch of credits. But mon dieu, the pastries were amazing! And the Seine is positively magnifique at night. You have to see it!” Physics: “We’re not here to screw around. You’re either hardcore enough or you’re not. We’re not going try to sell you on this one.” Renaissance/Medieval Studies: “I swear by ye olde Vassar course catalog this is a real major.” Chemistry: “I mean, if you’re going to med school anyway, why not just abandon the liberal arts totally? Come on. We’ll have some fun. We make ice cream every week. It doesn’t get old.” Drama: “We might be a bunch of smug hipsters, but at least our alumni include Meryl Streep, Lisa Kudrow and that actress from The Mighty Ducks. Take that, Film department!” Religion: “Are you there, God? It’s me, disenchanted thesis-writer.” Cognitive Science: “Suppose there exists a computer and a human, and each are presented with the same inputs, and both generate identical outputs. This would make their physical states, and how each interacts physically as a result of these outputs, identical. No wait, I’m sorry. I can rephrase that. Don’t go.” Women’s Studies: “Can everyone stop asking us why we don’t have a ‘Men’s Studies’ program? Honestly.” Environmental Studies: “There’s a seminar in this major called ‘Animal Metaphors’ and it’s real and you can take it for credit. We’re not kidding. But we really only want you if you’re a kinda judgmental vegetarian, and vegans are preferred.” Computer Science: “Join us, and someday you’ll be rich.” With pre-registration now underway, I wish much luck to the undeclared among us. It appears you’ll need it.
How, for example, does one convince a freshman to be a Victorian Studies major?
закончена! Град, чтобы отнестись Россию по-матерински! Холодная война никогда не чтобы отнестись.”
History: “Did you know Bob Brigham and Robert McNamara are old friends? Well, they were.
Cartoon by Liza Donnelly, Professor of Women’s Studies
Shoes illuminate private moment Mitchell Gilburne Guest Columnist
’m sorry to take things in a bathroom-related direction again, but some of my best thinking and funniest moments occur in those hallowed tiled halls. I’ve always loved to sing in the shower or drape my towels in creative ways, indulging my inner fashion designer. I think these are relatively common practices, but I may be traveling off the beaten path when it comes to toilet seat philosophizing. The image of the armchair philosopher is pretty firmly engrained in the mind of the modern academic. It is an idealization of the thought process fully equipped with mahogany paneling, towering bookshelves and a crackling fire. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever been able to nap in such an environment. Instead the sterile (wishful thinking, I know), slick surfaces of the bathroom are perfectly conducive to mental activity. There’s something about the tranquil communication with nature that makes for a stimulating environment. The second my tush hits the seat, my mind races off, traveling and branching and exploring the infinite amount of things that there are to think about. It’s as if the secrets of the cosmos are at my fingertips, but it’s usually over before I discover anything quite so momentous. My latest bout of such epistemologically enriching puzzlings led me to the conclusion that being “the kid with the light-up shoes” is not always easy. I hardly doubt that you’ve already come to this conclusion yourself. Being
Weekly Calendar: 11/12 - 11/18 THURSDAY, 11/12
3 p.m. Tea. Last week the VC Alumni Magazine went around taking pictures for a feature on “a day in the life of a Vassar student.” It was nice, but probably not altogether factual. Allow me to set the record straight. Rose Parlor.
3 p.m. Tea. Morning: Overslept. Executive decision to skip class. Rose Parlor. 7 p.m. ViCE Film League and the Class of 2013 present “Titanic.” The class of 2013 was six years old when this film swept the Oscars. Their parents either didn’t let them watch it, or fast-forwarded through the scene in the car. You know the one. Blodgett Auditorium.
12 p.m. Vassar Cup Quidditch Tournament. We are definitely not too old to be doing this, right? Noyes Circle. 9 p.m. Indecent Exposure Sketch Comedy Show. Indecent though it may be, it will probably be ten times more decent any night at the Mug. Auditorium.
11:30 p.m. “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Please let’s never do the time warp again. Sanders Auditorium.
7 p.m. VSA Council Meeting. Come waste three hours of your life while Scott Pascal talks about giving money to the ski team and listening to the ever-entitled Frisbee team talk about how victimized they are. College Center MPR. 10 p.m. Challah French Toast Fest. I will absolutely definitely see you there. (C)hollah! Aula.
3 p.m. Tea. Afternoon: Waited in line at the library printers (only to find out the printers are broken) and/or the Kiosk (only to find out the espresso machine is broken) and/or outside professor’s office hours to lie about why you weren’t in class. Rose Parlor. 10: 30 p.m. Trivia Night. “Question #1: Why did that belligerent sophomore rip the tap out of the of keg on Saturday? And, furthermore, how exactly does one become the Student Mug Liaison?” The Mug.
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a celebrity is something that can only be understood by a lucky few. I have to maintain an image, remain intangible, but still be relatable. Get it? Now, I don’t mind being recognized. Some people were simply built to be public figures, but the previous statement may need some refining. I don’t mind being recognized in public, on the streets, at the ACDC, in an airport, anywhere really...except the bathroom. As I contemplated this very thought while perched upon a throne of porcelain, I couldn’t help but notice that both of my shoes were glowing at full brightness. It’s not easy glowing green when you’re in the middle of a private moment. This meant that anyone who entered the bathroom would know exactly who the funny noises in the last stall from the left were coming from. I’m sure you can imagine why this is troubling. As much as I love attention, there has to be a limit. I cannot abide feeling as if I’m under scrutiny every time I go to the bathroom in glowing sneakers. Things get particularly embarrassing when I forget to turn the light on. It’s like a washroom disco. Now, I know that I could simply turn them off, or wear different shoes to the bathroom or no shoes at all, but despite any potential embarrassment I am first and foremost true to myself. I love my shoes. I love the way their glowing green light dances on the tiled floor, and I can’t be bothered to care if you know how regular I am. I am the kid with the light-up shoes, and if that means that means losing a bit of privacy, then so be it! Flush!
by Kelly Stout
11 a.m. Career Paths in Higher Education Lecture. At this event you’ll learn how to do spoken word as well as—if not better than—Luis Inoa, of “In My World” fame. Be sure to bring lots of layers of clothing. Faculty Commons. 3 p.m. Tea. Evening: Watched three back-to-back episodes of “Glee” instead of doing your Urban Theory reading. Damnit. Rose Parlor.
3 p.m. Tea. Nighttime: Sat glumly in the library pretending to do reading you should have done in afternoon. Wrote the day off as unproductive around midnight. Drank your worries away. Rose Parlor. 4:15 p.m. Café Francais. After a controversial namechange during the Bush Administration to Café Liberté, this super pretentious event is back to its former glory. Chicago Hall French Lounge. 5:30 p.m. LSAT Practice Session. Please don’t tell my dad that I’m not going. Jade Parlor.
November 12, 2009
Readings bring Streetcar cast, crew to recreate Southern vibes Noir genre to stories of Delhi B Rachael Borné Reporter
Wally Fisher uthenticity and audience are often in conflict in literature. After all, it is difficult for authors to please both the masses and themselves. Thus, it’s quite rare to find pieces such as Akashic Books’s Noir series, which actively engages its readers in a realistic and intelligent portrayal of culture in a way that can be revelatory. Noir fiction is a world of true crime and pulp fiction. Spelled out with gritty realism and sometimes downright cynicism, the stories of Delhi Noir inhabit this world. They are tales of robbery, murder, real estate and more set in various locations in the Indian metropolis. By illustrating the darker sides of city life, Akashic Books’s Noir series seeks to illuminate its readers’ perceptions of urban society. On Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. three authors from Akashic’s Delhi Noir will give readings in Sanders Hall Spitzer Auditorium. Meera Nair, Hirsh Sawhney and Mohan Sikka are among 14 other contributors to the anthology. While they read, samosas will be served by the South Asian Student Alliance (SASA). While SASA commonly features South Asian culture by offering food like samosas, the organization wished to expand their objectives with more thought-provoking events this year. They were consequently thrilled when presented with the opportunity to bring the three Indian authors to speak on campus with the aid of the Dean of Studies office. “It’s definitely a constant battle of appealing to what [students] like about South Asia, which often turns out to be food and dance,” described SASA co-President Annapurna Karra ’10, commenting on SASA’s event planning process. “So it’s hard to bring sides of South Asia that aren’t really known to the forefront.” SASA’s other co-President Adhira Mangalagiri ’11 elaborated on the group’s motivation as linked to the nature of the text. She said, “It’s a really interesting publication because it challenges the romanticized image of India that has been in the media recently with Slumdog Millionaire. It sort of just peels off the mask of the so-called middle-class, Indian propriety. It will be an interesting publication to introduce to the Vassar community.” This speaks to Akashic Books’s goal as stated in their website’s subheader: “reverse-gentrification of the literary world.” Rather than cater to a bourgeois audience, these texts hope to reveal the reality of urban centers. The truthfulness and stylistics of the anthology intrigued Professor of English Amitava Kumar. He originally proposed to SASA the idea of bringing these authors to Vassar. He described his first exposure to the book on his blog: “Why write about the night if you cannot write about dirty money? Each of the stories I have read in [Delhi Noir] so far have done precisely that. But more than that, I felt that the stamp of the genre had allowed the writers to experiment with a voice. So that the description “Delhi noir” means the achievement of a style, and that style is partly the place that is being written about.” Each of the pieces of the anthology strives to hold the classic noir style in a way that illuminates city living. This unsentimental and cynical genre compliments the complexity of day-to-day activities in cities such as Delhi. “I felt I recognized the city I knew when I was reading those stories. It was a city full of glitter and filth,” wrote Kumar in an e-mailed statement. “And I loved the language being used by these writers. It excited me.” The readings are not only meant for South Asian students. Kumar wrote, “I’d like everyone and their Slumdog-loving aunt to come to the reading.” Those who may think they are already enlightened can perhaps see themselves reflected in the authentic stories of Delhi life. Anyone who acknowledges some room for self-growth and knowledge will benefit from the Nov. 17 event. At the very least, the readings promise to entertain and inform.
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
lues piano, home cookin’, humid air and southern hospitality are uncommon in the Vassar community. Because of this, Estefi Fadul ’10 believes that experiencing firsthand these essential elements of New Orleans will put a unique spin on her production of the classic Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “A Streetcar Named Desire” will play at the Powerhouse Theater on Nov. 12-14 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. After proposing the play for her senior project last March, Fadul, along with lighting designer Belen Ferrer ’10 and actors Danielle Morvant ’10 and Russell Woron-Simons ’10, took a pilgrimage to the Big Easy during the summer. The group immersed themselves completely in the distinct culture so important to the setting of the iconic play. “We did visual research and a lot of table work,” said Fadul. “Just talking to people helped the character development.” The group visited Williams’ apartment and the Tennessee Williams Research Institute, not to mention a handful of flashy jazz clubs. For Woron-Simons, who will take on the role of Stanley Kowalski, exposure to the attitudes and openness of the city’s people was the most valuable aspect of the trip. “I went down there and fell in love with New Orleans.” Acting in “Streetcar” really hits home for New Orleans native Morvant. “I’ve wanted to do ‘Streetcar’ since high school,” she explained. “I read it right around the time of [Hurricane] Katrina, so it has emotional meaning to me outside of the play.” Looking at Williams’ text with what Fadul calls “new eyes” is perhaps the most creative component of the play’s production at Vassar. Woron-Simons sees the play as “a clash between the progressive and industrial lower class and the Old South tradition.” The plot also reveals a fascination with the everyday lives of people. “Tennessee Williams is interested in the daily lives of ordinary people, and what a tangled web we weave,” said Woron-Simons. “Events can shape people and people can shape events.” The “tangled web” of relationships is particularly heightened with “Streetcar” because of the rich characters. The protagonist Blanche Dubois, played by Morvant, is a Southern belle who obsesses over finding a husband and keeping the Old South alive. Blanche’s mental state becomes increasingly unstable throughout the play, due to alcoholism and desperate desires to combat any industrial presence in New Orleans.
Students rehearse for Tennessee Williams’ classic play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which will be preformed at the Powerhouse Theatre on Nov. 12-14 at 8 p.m. and on Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. Stanley Kowalski is Blanche’s brother-in-law, a working-class auto salesman who is part of a rising urban immigrant class. Stanley has a hot temper, which is juxtaposed with Blanche’s cooler temperament. In developing his character, Woron-Simons did not take inspiration from Elia Kazan’s 1951 film adaptation. “I wanted to take Tennessee Williams’ writing and make my own inferences from the text; I didn’t want to base my character off of Marlon Brando.” Morvant describes the balance between the original play and Vassar’s production as a conversation. “We have tried to respect the history that comes with the play,” added Fadul. “We acknowledge that the audience comes in with really strong associations, especially with the movie,” she said. Morvant interprets Williams’ text as so intrinsically cultural that she thinks bringing the South to the stage will come with ease. “You can’t read the play without picking up on the culture of New Orleans,” she said. For example, Fadul emphasizes the omnipresence of music within the text. “Williams uses music as his poetry in a way,” she stated. She added that in both the play and in New Orleans, “The blues piano is always just around the corner.” Another crucial part of Southern culture is, of course, the trademark accent. “When we got back from New Orleans, we had about two weeks of dialogue,” said Fadul. Assistant Professor of Drama Shona Tucker acted as a dialogue coach for the ensemble.
Tucker describes the New Orleans “Yat” as being a challenge to master, but also an important part of Southern drama. “It is a mix of the Southern drawl and a Brooklyn, N.Y. accent. When attempted, it adds a great gritty, earthy quality to the language.” Location and set direction will also play integral roles in shaping an authentic New Orleans atmosphere. “We’re doing the play in the black box theater at the Powerhouse. We can do anything we want with the space,” said Fadul, commenting on the versatility of her chosen venue. Grace Statwick ’11, the set designer for “Streetcar,” aims to create a stage that is fun, but also threatening. Because the characters exist in close proximity to each other, there is little privacy. “The apartment is crowded with furniture, and the inhabitants are crude and free,” Statwick explains. “We have actors walking mere inches from front-row audience members.” She describes the Powerhouse Theater as a “found” space: “The spiral staircase and balcony become the apartment upstairs, and the lightlock in the corner becomes the bathroom.” More than anything, though, Fadul accredits the effective creation of a warm and Southern environment to the ensemble. “The ensemble really brings the show together.” Due to the many hours of hard work and passionate research done by those involved with “Streetcar,” Fadul expects the performance to spark emotional responses for the cast, crew and audience.
Exhibition a holistic look at Dürer’s inspiration FLLAC continued from page 1 was a clear call to the winged relief I had just observed. “We see Dürer using these mythological figures from classical times,” explained Phagan as she carefully lifted the print to my eye level. “See, it is a winged figure.” The notion of classical imagery in Renaissance work is not groundbreaking. Much of the Renaissance is rooted in a return to this classical legacy. However, Dürer’s work proves to be most revelatory in that it situates the Renaissance in a Northern European context. As we navigated our way through the exhibition, this seemed to be Phagan’s curatorial catch phrase: “We see that the figures are situated in a northern landscape.” The aforementioned Nemesis print proved to be no exception as Phagan pointed out the goddess’s position atop a distinctly northern village. Ah. It all made sense. With this print, Phagan introduced another of the exhibition’s chief thematic elements— Dürer’s interest in rational proportions, mathematics and perspective. With the print still in hand, Phagan’s whitegloved finger directed my gaze to the fleshy image of Nemesis. “Nemesis’ head is one-eighth of the whole of her body,” she said, providing a visual example of Dürer’s keen interest in ideal proportions— a foray into the content of the next exhibition room we were to visit. True to Phagan’s holistic consideration of Dürer’s work, this room also
featured an unexpected three-dimensional element: a book of Dürer’s geometrical theories and calculations, Four Books on Measurement. The book, on loan to the FLLAC from Special Collections, is itself a point of inherent visual interest. The geometrical images in the book, all by Dürer himself, are a call to the rational elements found within the surrounding prints. One of these prints, the sobering image known as “Melancolia I” features a winged goddess, brooding as she sits amidst a large cube, a sphere and a number square whose digits add up to 34 in every row and column. Any Vassar student who has taken Art 105 knows this piece, one of Dürer’s most famous works. “This is one of Dürer’s most mysterious and mystifying prints. There has been so much commentary and so many theories written about it,” said Phagan of the iconic masterwork. “But clearly, to me, his vital interest in mathematics plays a large role here.” The last gallery space in the exhibition considers both Dürer’s representation of religion and fascination with animal proportions, and, occasionally, how the two intermingle. One recurring image in the prints is that of St. Jerome. “There are a few images of St. Jerome, who translated the bible from Hebrew to Latin,” remarked Phagan. “It was possible that [St. Jerome] was an inspirational scholar for Dürer’s scholarly friends.” Just in front of these biblical images lies the several-thousand page illustrated world history, The Nuremberg Chronicle. First printed in 1493,
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The Chronicle is considered as one of the first successful combinations of text and images. The copy that Phagan has used to complement Dürer’s own religious images from that time is also on loan from Special Collections. All together, Phagan’s selected works reveal the intricacies of the Northern Renaissance master. The exhibition captures the variety of Dürer’s feasible sources—even presenting the viewer with physical examples of them. Perhaps the exhibition’s most revelatory feature is that the majority of its pieces come from the FLLAC’s permanent collection, a clear nod to the breadth of Vassar’s art collection. James Mundy, the Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the FLLAC, provided a witty anecdote on the strength of our 18,000 plus piece collection. “To have such a large permanent collection allows you to be creative. You open the pantry, look inside and choose ingredients and then whip up a flavorful meal,” said Mundy on the process of curating exhibitions at the FLLAC. When asked about the significance of the Dürer’s exhibit in light of the FLLAC’s past and future exhibitional endeavors, Mundy pointed out the importance of displaying pieces that coincide with the academic pursuits of students and professors alike. “Especially during the academic year, it’s important to have something with a curricular context,” said Mundy. “Dürer is taught widely—in Art 105, Art 106.” The exhibition will be on display from Nov. 14 to Dec. 24.
November 12, 2009
‘Crave’ a challenge to stage for students: Students lead Non-linearity, minimalism set play apart process behind
Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin Guest Reporter
T Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
he contemporary English playwright Sarah Kane debuted a play in 1998 in which characters discuss pain, loneliness, emptiness and the cruelty of life. Well, to be fair the play was actually more of a winding symphonic poem, and characters were nameless, perhaps even non-human entities with no development or background. Take into account the dearth of stage directions, plot, setting or narration, and what you’re left with is one of the most salient examples of minimalism in theater. Such is “Crave,” Kane’s saga of emotional violence that was her penultimate creation before her untimely death a year later. Now a production of the work will be staged by Philaletheis, with the organization’s executive manager Kathryn Kozlark ’11 at the reins. “As soon as I read ‘Crave,’ I knew that I had to direct it,” said Kozlark in an e-mailed statement. “I think the script is absolutely exquisite, and I immediately fell in love with Kane’s heart-wrenching honesty.” The text may have resonated with Kozlark, but to translate the words to the stage was a daunting task. Kane’s script has virtually nothing written in the margins to guide cast or crew. “Being given little to no guidance by Kane was positively terrifying,” said Kozlark. “However, I believe the immensity of our task only served to bring our collective closer and to heighten everyone’s investment in the piece.” One of the major creative hurdles to consider was the interpretation of the characters. No development is given for any of the four characters, and instead of being narrative agents, they merely recite poetic streams of consciousness. They also remain nameless, identified merely by letters: A, B, C and M. It is difficult to tell if the letters are individuals themselves or just different facets of one individual’s psyche. “Whether the four letters are different people or different voices of one entity is the topic of much debate, but our cast and crew decided early on in this process to portray them as four distinct characters,” said Charlie O’Malley ’11, who plays the letter A. His fellow cast members Nicole Wood ’12 (B), Luke Slattery ’13 (C) and Andi Sharavsky ’11 (M) collaborated to work out the dynamics of each letter. “We spent a very, very long time doing table
Philaletheis will present the 1998 Sarah Kane play,“Crave,” in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater tonight at 8 p.m. The play stars students O’Malley, Wood, Slattery and Sharavsky. work, going through the text line by line, trying to discover where there is dialogue going on between the letters,” said Sharavsky. “They have defined wants and needs. It’s just buried deeper below.” Another challenge was what the set itself would be like. “My initial concept for the piece was to create an urban wasteland, and I have been privileged to work with three unbelievable designers—Jake Levitt ’12, Evan Roby ’10 and Andrew Rovner ’13—that have rendered that concept a reality,” said Kozlark. The idea of a cold, urban environment stemmed from the play’s multiple references to T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” There is also a deep connection between the depressed psyches of the letters with the alienation of the metropolis. “There’s definitely this idea of being trapped in this unreal city,” said Sharavsky. The ambiguity of “Crave” that problematized the current production is a departure from Kane’s previous work. While the themes of love, sex, death and emotional torture are consistent throughout her plays, the minimalist and highly interpretable structure are only
present in her later works. Another notable departure in Kane’s last plays was the lack of graphic violence. Her work before “Crave” depicted torture, rape and cannibalism in a highly controversial way. But regardless of the physical and emotional brutality of her work, Kane is still a highly-regarded playwright. “Her plays are very difficult to watch, and even more so to understand,” said O’Malley. “But ultimately, watching any of her plays is a tremendously rewarding experience, if not just to bear witness to some of the best writing of the late 20th century.” Despite the challenges “Crave” presented, Kozlark and company look at the project as a very rewarding experience. “We all embraced Kane’s challenge together and, in so doing, transformed a daunting process into an extremely fulfilling, albeit demanding one,” said Kozlark. Philaletheis will present “Crave” in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater tonight at 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at the same time. Tickets are available at the Information Desk in the College Center.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
he idea of life after Vassar is a terrifying concept for many students on campus. After the cap and gown are off, new alumnae/i are faced with the task of braving unfamiliar territory without the warm, helpful embrace of Vassar faculty. However, participants in student-run ensembles such as Camerata and Mahagonny have the unique opportunity to glance into the deep black abyss that is life after Vassar. The two ensembles will each display their self-conducted musical prowess with a concert in the Skinner Hall of Music this Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. Both the Mahagonny and Camerata ensembles consist of two sections, a choir and an orchestra, each with its own conductor. Camerata and Mahagonny are different because of their performance style and material. According to the Camerata conductors, the Mahagonny ensemble is conducted to a greater extent, whereas their own ensemble is conducted like a chamber ensemble. During performances, Emily Bookwalter ’10, the Camerata orchestra conductor, does not physically conduct her orchestra. Rather, she teaches them to memorize the music on their own. In the course of rehearsals, Bookwalter merely observes the performance instead of actively directing it. As opposed to Vassar ensembles that cover classical and Romantic selections, Mahagonny and Camerata cover periods of music not typically performed. The ensembles cover two ends of the music spectrum; Camerata performs Baroque and Mahagonny performs contemporary. “Mahagonny focuses much more on present music and has to perform something people have heard before in a new way. Camerata is trying to replicate a previous style in an accurate way.” explained Mark Van Hare ’10, Mahagonny’s orchestra conductor. Also speaking to the Camerata’s emphasis on Baroque music, Bookwalter said, “There is so much attention to detail that is necessary in this case because the music is so specific and has different means of dictation. When playing old music with new instruments, you have to make changes to what you do so you can make the sound the same.” Bookwalter also appreciates the dynamics at work within the ensemble that emerge while playing Baroque music. “It’s such a collaborative effort on the part of the students. It emphasizes the chamber camaraderie of the ensemble. It becomes less of one person in charge and more of people working together,” said Bookwalter. Friday’s concert will highlight these differences. The Camerata choir, conducted by Nicholas Rocha ’11, will perform three pieces of early music, including a late 15th century motet entitled “Gaude Virgo, mater Christi” by Josquin des Prez, a hymn entitled “Conditor Alme Siderum” written by Gallium Dufag and will end with a 16th century piece called “Magnificat Praeter Rerum Seriem” by Orlande de Lassus. The Camerata orchestra, under the direction of Bookwalter, will perform “Tele-mann,” a concerto in G major a sei, written by George Frederic. As the group’s leaders explained, the Mahagonny ensemble will perform more modern pieces. The Mahagonny choir, conducted by Catherine O’Kelly ’11, will perform “O Vos Omnes” by Pablo Casals and “Clocks” by Stephen Chatman. The Mahagonny orchestra, under the direction of Van Hare, will be playing two selections—“Façade” by William Walton and and will premiere “Dark Interval” by 2004 Vassar Alumnus Nathan Hall, who wrote the piece especially for the group. As a contemporary orchestration, “Dark Interval” is also paired with a cycle of narration written by poet Jane Tyson Clement that will be spoken alongside the orchestra. The conductors like the intimate chamber context but there is something professional about the two ensembles. For Rocha, this means an opportunity to research his desired career path. “I love that Camerata gives me the opportunity to research early music, which is what I want to do with my career.”
November 12, 2009
Vassar student hits high note with album on iTunes: Sorgen spans variety of genres, from East Coast to West Ann-Marie Alcántara Guest Reporter
Courtsey of Zach Sorgen
hirstbusters. Haven’t heard of them yet? You will soon, considering the band’s smooth, jazzy sound, akin to that of John Mayer and Maroon 5, is now on the online music store iTunes. The addition of their recent album Time You Awake, to the iTunes library is especially relevant since the frontman is a Vassar student, Zach Sorgen ’12. Sorgen’s musical career began in the Bay Area, which is known for producing famous musicians such as The Grateful Dead, Green Day and Third Eye Blind. But instead of following the lead of these bands, Zach and the Thirstbusters entered an entirely different genre: jazz. Combining jazz with a mixture of other genres, the band lends itself to a different kind of sound—with drums heavy in some, and others completely pianocentric. “I love the improvisational element of jazz. Because a rhythm section is often providing backup for a soloist that is made up on the spot, we have to listen carefully to each other and try to pick up on what others are doing to know how to contribute and really be locked in,” said Sorgen. “Because of this sensitivity and because the jazz chord structure is more complex, switching to pop/rock was easy.” Sorgen’s inspirations for the band trace back to his childhood, during which he was surrounded by musicians. His mom is a professional singer, his dad plays the clarinet, his brother plays the saxophone and his godfather plays the guitar. Sorgen started playing the piano at age seven and honed his vocals on his own. Despite Sorgen’s intense musical background, he never considered applying to a music conservatory for college. “I wasn’t sure how interested in music I was. I knew I loved it, but I wanted a liberal arts degree,” said Sorgen. “I am happy to learn about other things, but I also realize that
I won’t fall in love with anything better than music.” Thirstbusters’ album has made it onto iTunes, but you won’t see Sorgen walking around with a pompous air. “I don’t think being a musician changes my personal relationships except that I like being friends with other musicians and being involved with music as much as possible.” True to his word, Sorgen is indeed a strong musical presence on campus. He takes classical guitar lessons, is in the Jazz Ensemble and Combo, sings a cappella with the Vassar Devils, has a role in the upcoming Drama Department production of “RENT” and is forming his own soul/R&B ensemble. And despite the impressive breadth of his involvement at Vassar, he still wants to expand his horizons. “I want to learn about producing, recording engineering, what happens in the industry/business aspect, music law, modern culture as reflected in music. I think these are all very valuable and could be, but aren’t studied at Vassar,” Sorgen remarked. “I’d love to talk to anyone who wants to collaborate or discuss the music industry. I know it’s changing a lot and I want to be ahead of the curve. You gotta know how to play the business side of things too!” Sorgen will showcase his talent in the upcoming Vassar College Entertainment (ViCE) After Hours show on Dec. 10. He loves to perform his music live, but has a unique philosophy about doing so. “While I will definitely put on a show to engage the audience, I believe it’s better not to pretend I’m performing,” said Sorgen. “The audience can sense honesty and integrity, so if the performer acknowledges them as people, it enables a stronger connection.” Sorgen is only a sophomore, but with the significant recognition his music has already received, he is on his way to achieving greatness. “I need and love support!” said Sorgen. “I want as many people as possible to be inspired or to feel good listening to my music.”
Zach Sorgen ’12 performs a variety of musical genres and, with an upcoming role in the musical “Rent” and a spot in the Vassar Devils, is active in the performing arts at Vassar.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
November 12, 2009
Casablancas bridges old, new with solo album Phrazes for the Young Julian Casablancas [Cult Records/RCA]
o, whatever happened to The Strokes? It seems like only yesterday that they were the new saviors of rock and roll; they were the young New Yorkers with all the right influences and an aesthetic that was so apathetic that they couldn’t help but be devastatingly cool. Unfortunately for The Strokes, however, that aesthetic doesn’t age well. It’s been almost four years since their last album—the surprisingly underwhelming First Impressions Of Earth— and the only sounds they’ve made since then have been from various solo projects. Though the band has maintained that they will emerge from their hibernation with a new record, every year that they remain inactive only leads to more skepticism. Personally, I would prefer it if The Strokes never release another album. Their first two records—Is This It and Room On Fire—are such perfect encapsulations of their era and their sound that they probably should have given up in 2003 and quit while they were ahead. But now that The Strokes members are all sober and pushing thirty, the likelihood that they will ever return to their glory days is slim to none. When The Strokes’s frontman, Julian Casablancas, announced that he had been working on a solo record, fans saw a glimmer of hope. Casablancas has always been an enigmatic figure, with that classic combination of rock-star charm and tortured-genius aloofness, but behind those ragged locks and that ambivalent attitude, there is genuine talent. Most people don’t know that he wrote all of the songs on those first two albums—both music and lyrics. On paper, his debut solo album, Phrazes For The Young, should be a return to form. It’s been too long since Casablancas has flexed his muscles as both a songwriter and multiinstrumentalist. Unlike the first two Strokes records, however, Phrazes For The Young is
far from perfect. Despite this, it does remind listeners of Casablancas’ pure songwriting prowess, even as he dabbles with a new pallet of sounds. It’s the new palette of sounds that has been driving most of the hype behind Phrazes For The Young. A lot of fuss had been made about the liberal use of keyboards on Casablancas’ solo material, but the fuss is mostly unwarranted. Yes, there are synthesizers on Phrazes For The Young, and there are a lot of them. But the thing is, the songs still sound like Casablancas’ songs. He’s simply replaced grungy, retro guitars with grungy, retro keyboards. The result is both familiar and unexpected. There are lots of bouncy synths and dance-oriented beats, but there are also lots of Strokes-esque guitar lines and song structures. There are even some moments that are downright soulful. The unifying force is Casablancas’ voice, and the hooks that he so easily conveys with it. Placed low in the mix, like it should be, Casablancas’ voice croons, yells and coos, all with the same disinterested ennui. Phrazes For The Young is similar to other Strokes albums, but its strongest connection is with First Impressions Of Earth. All the pieces are there, but they never really get put together in the right way. There are just too many missteps. Casablancas does shine though, and the good songs on Phrazes For The Young will make even the most cynical and dejected of Strokes fans feel optimistic about the band’s future. And all those keyboards work so well that even the most die-hard Strokes fan would welcome them on a new album. It seems like Casablancas and The Strokes have spent the last six years trying to top—or just match—the strength of their first two records, and Phrazes For The Young is only the latest in a series of solo records to fail to do so. The best songs on Phrazes For The Young are like good Strokes songs—they’re fast, rhythmic and feature more vocal hooks than should be allowed in a single song. The first single, “11th Dimension,” is one of the record’s peaks—a beautiful summation of Casablancas’
ability to meld his ’80s synth obsession with his established songwriting strengths. The song starts with a synth riff oddly reminiscent of Van Halen’s “Jump,” and adds layers until it reaches a gorgeous climactic chorus. Like any good Strokes song, it has multiple movements: a pre-chorus, a bridge and all sorts of lovely transitions. But unlike a Strokes song, its bubbly synths give it a joyous tone, as opposed to the angry-young-man sneer of Casablancas’ previous work. Casablancas does branch out from this formula on Phrazes For The Young, but more often than not, these provide the record’s least satisfying moments. His “4 Chords Of The Apocalypse” is a surprisingly soulful blues song that relies on a moody Rhodes organ juxtaposed with processed guitar riffs. On “Ludlow St.,” however, the slower pace is not welcome. Amidst ambling keys and an uncharacteristic acoustic guitar, Casablancas bemoans the gentrification of his old Lower East Side haunt. Instead of sounding nostalgic for the good old days, Casablancas sounds like an angry old man with a litany of complaints and little else to offer. Casablancas’ cynicism worked well when he was whining about exgirlfriends and the like, but it comes off as annoying when he’s simply stating the obvious: that Manhattan’s become too expensive for young people and struggling artists. Casablancas deserves kudos for branching out and still staying true to his roots while doing so. The problem is that moments of true songwriting genius only come in bursts, and no matter how hard he tries, Casablancas will most likely never get another chance at spitting the kind of gold he did earlier in the decade. Phrazes For The Young is a good record that suffers from the inevitable comparisons to Casablancas’ previous glory, and this is why it is ultimately a disappointing listen. Strokes fans are still waiting for a third flawless record, even if it may never come. —Martin Bergman ’12 is a Jewish studies major writing a bi-weekly column on recently released albums.
Cross encapsulates ebb, flow of Hudson River Esther Clowney
Emily Izquierdo ’13 “Stevie Wonder. I just watched a TV show where he was singing, which made me take out all his CDs”
Alex Pelish, Counter Clerk, Retreat
“I listened to Brad Paisley on Good Morning America.”
Lauren MacLean ’12
“One of my friends is a pitch for the Vassar Devils. I’ve been listening to one of their CDs.”
Frances Vhay ’13
“Moonduel. It’s got a bit of kraut rock, it’s kinda psychadelic, not abrasive but chugging.”
Nick Marmet ’10 carriehaddadgallery.com
arkness had fallen earlier than I expected, and a light sleet was coming down as I walked to the College Center last Thursday for the opening reception of the Linda Cross exhibition in Palmer Gallery. Cross, a Hudson resident, creates three-dimensional relief paintings using paper, acrylic, and occasionally other odds and ends. The gallery was bright and warm, a welcome refuge from the grim weather outside. About a dozen people stood about, mingling, chatting and discussing Cross’ pieces. A few students took gleeful advantage of the wine assortment while Dean of the College Chrisopher Roellke hovered over the cheese spread discussing sports. Mounted on plywood in multiple segments, each work of art provides an abstract perspective of the Hudson River. As I stood reading the description of the exhibit, which was posted on the wall, a jovial elderly man with flushed cheeks approached me. “If you want to know about any of this stuff,” he said, gesturing around the room, “I can help you out. I’m her husband.” Mr. Cross beckoned his wife over, tearing her away from what looked like an engrossing conversation. After introducing myself as a cub reporter for The Miscellany News, the three of us stared at one of her recently-completed paintings, “Shoreline.” I cocked my head and took a few steps back. Though rough and lumpy up close, from afar “Shoreline” evoked the rush and pull of water, forming eddies around the textured, modeled paper that Cross transforms into rocks, mud and bits of debris.
“I call myself a painter, but according to my gallery I’m a sculptor,” said Cross. “Perhaps they say that because I paint with spatulas.” Cross, who lives near the town of Hudson, explained that her chief inspiration comes from the multitude of train trips she has taken up and down the Hudson River. “I paint nature the way you see it if you’ve walked past the same field or stream dozens of times,” she said. “I focus on details, not panoramas.” To capture the essence of something as lotic as a river is ambitious, and Cross had to become intricately acquainted with her subject before trying to represent it artistically. Similarly, I had to familiarize myself with her paintings before I could connect with the flux and flow of the river. In each instance, the search was intriguing and rewarding. “Creek,” a piece from 1998, is comprised of many intricately interlocking, overlapping segments of paper that suggest peeling paint. The center of the painting, which is the biggest in the gallery, is a mound of stylized trash. “Creek” does not depict the infringement of man on the river as a benign force. The piece is so crowded with paper protrusions that the blue and green strokes of water seem sluggish, as if they are trying to find the path of least resistance through piles of junk. The exhibit, which runs until Dec. 17, also includes a number of more traditional acrylic and pencil nature scenes. Framed in unimposing light birch wood, these drawings are simple counterpoints to the bulky relief paintings. Mr. Cross, who was enthusiastic about his wife’s work, pointed out pieces of real wood and flotsam hidden among the paper replicas
“Freelance Whales. They’re really good to listen to. I’ve been falling in love with Jason Mraz as well.”
Linda Cross considers her works to be painting, while her gallery calls them sculptures. Above is Cascade, ‘painted’ in 2004. and made sure I helped myself to a gallery guide. He did not, however, point me to the laminated price list sitting next to the brochures on the front desk. Perhaps he assumed that, at $9,000, “Shoreline” was a bit out of my price range.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“Honestly? Vintage Dave Matthew’s Band.”
Katie Interlichia ’11
—Erik Lorenzsonn Arts Editor
November 12, 2009
Rugby’s Keri Peacock a bright Vassar heading down wrong ray of destruction on the field path with cuts to rowing team I
Courtesy of Sports Information
Keri Peacock ’11, scrumhalf for the rugby team, stood as a force to be reckoned with this past season. Peacock was the leading scorer with seven tries for a total of 35 points. Mitchell Gilburne
eri Peacock ’11, athlete extraordinaire and all-around captivating individual, met her first college rugby game head on. Literally. The Brewers were facing off against the Air Force Academy—yes, that Air Force—but Peacock had no reservations about taking those birds down. Undeterred by her opponents’ stature and military training, Peacock charged into the field, put up a valiant, but unfortunately tragic fight, and was forced to the sidelines after a smash to the face and two loose front teeth. Peacock notes with a grin that she always has a good story to tell when questioned about her beginnings as a Brewer. This titanic brawl, however, was not the ultimate beginning for Peacock. In fact, she has been honing her superior agility and developing a penchant for a bit of brute force since holding the tender status of a high school freshman. It all started with a plea from a friend and a rugby-crazed dad. This dad had been something of a rugby star in his day and had decided that his daughter would continue the tradition of bashing skulls and breaking scrums. Detesting the thought of being alone on a field with all manner of strange young women, the friend insisted that Peacock accompany her. Peacock happily agreed. A rugby rookie at the time, Peacock confessed that she was confused by the game and played horribly, but she had fun. Remembering that first encounter, she likened the rugby ball to “a big pregnant football rolling around on the field.” She then laughed a little and sunk back into nostalgic bliss. Newly enamored with a sport that is as vicious as a tiger, Peacock signed up for rugby camp with a butterfly in her stomach and a dream in her heart. At this point, Peacock’s rugby experiences had been sans contact, and the brutal sight of Amazons on one side clashing with Valkyries on the other would have been enough to make any newcomer’s stomach lurch and legs wobble. Fortunately, Peacock is full of fire, and after a little instigating from a peer— who claimed no fear due to her participation on a high school men’s soccer team—she gritted her teeth, found her footing and launched into the field, looking forward to a little contact. Peacock, who had also played on a men’s soccer team, had no trouble surpassing her peers and scoring tries with such effortlessness that it seemed as if she were hardly trying. “As a freshman she was thrown into the position of scrum half and has never looked back,” Head Coach Tony Brown said. Today, Peacock has a special affection for scrum. She plays the
position of scrum half, which essentially has her surveying the action and shouting orders as she devises the most effective way to get the ball into the scoring zone, while hopefully picking up some bonus kills along the way. Ultimately, Peacock is in it for the fun, the fulfillment of school-sanctioned violence and, of course, the thrill of the game and the special bonds forged through team sports. When describing her on-field mindset, Peacock responds offhandedly, but with a spark in her eye, “Sometimes I’m on the field and I’m really happy and running around, and other times I just want to hit hard! Apparently I look really terrifying.” She lets that last bit trail off into sinister ambiguity. Peacock has seen the Vassar team fluctuate from a vicious machine chock-full of senior athletes to a team that had graduated most of its players and found a new tone and new talent. She notes that now “the emphasis is on improving, having fun and getting comfortable.” Peacock can’t heap enough praise onto Brown and Assistant Coach Mark Griffiths. “They have really shaped my experience. They are incredibly knowledgeable. They invest so much time in the rugby program and have made the sport extremely fun and accessible to anyone who is willing to learn the game. I feel like I have grown a lot as a player because of their encouragement and guidance,” Peacock admits gracefully. After speaking with Peacock, it becomes quickly evident that women’s rugby is about a commitment to effort, teamwork and enjoying oneself while becoming the best athlete one can be. Brown added, “[Peacock] is incredibly fit and has been training for a half-marathon in addition to attending rugby practices.” Peacock has had her share of ups and downs in the rugby world. From her first thrilling game, to her flourishing college career, Peacock has defined herself as a force to be reckoned with. This past season, she was the Brewers’ leading scorer with seven tries for a total of 35 points. Even including that one time when she accidentally grabbed a girl by the underwear and dragged her around the field with undergarments ripped and twisted, nothing can bring Peacock down. “Keri has been outstanding and shown great tenacity and leadership on the field,” Brown said. Peacock’s bright disposition and philosophy of fun on the field coupled with her ability to embrace the grit and edge of rugby, illuminate her as a delightful person, a fabulous teammate and as terrifying as a rampaging Diomedes when you find yourself on the wrong side of the field.
magine you had to wake up every morning at 5 a.m., drag yourself down to the freezing Hudson River and row for several hours against chilling winds. Imagine then trying to stay awake in class, doing homework until late in the night and waking up again to start the routine all over again. What would it take for you to do it? Money? Fame? A scholarship? For some the answer is simple: nothing. Vassar’s rowers do it every day without complaint. They receive no athletic scholarship, and no one gives them any extra credit. They row because they love to row, and they do it well. But rather than support them and understand the extent to which they sacrifice just to do what they love, last week Vassar slapped its rowers right across the face. Last Thursday, Vassar’s Athletics Department announced that it would transition crew from a varsity sport to a club sport next season, effectively cutting the program. Citing budget constraints and, ever-originally, the recession, the Department explained that it was a difficult decision that had to be made. However, like many other Vassar students, I fail to accept budgetary constraints as sufficient to justify such extreme injustice. I am well aware of the financial constraints of Division III athletics. After all, we do not get major sponsorship deals, we do not receive giant donations to fund entire teams’s budgets, we do not make any money from ticket sales, nor do we profit from merchandising. Our student-athletes do not receive scholarships, and we obviously cannot rely on any money from miscellaneous sources like TV rights sales. We are not under the impression that the Athletics Department’s funds are never-ending. In turn, all Vassar athletes take part in a variety of fundraising initiatives. The rowers have always accepted and embraced the fact that they have to work just to further fund their sport through innovative ergathons and other methods. It is unacceptable that one team takes the hit for all the others. In difficult financial times, we have to stand together and bear through. Why should any team be “cut” by itself? I understand that this wasn’t an easy decision, but it also wasn’t a fair one. Frequently boasting a winning record, the crew team is an integral part of Vassar athletics. When I think of Vassar athletics, I think of the whole school—much the same way that when the crew team competes, it represents the entire school, not just itself. Vassar athletics shouldn’t be about profitability of one team over another, or cost ef-
fectiveness of one sport over another; it should be about the principles of the College and all of its student-athletes, no matter the sport. In the same way that all of Vassar athletics shared in the crew team’s successes, so, too, should Vassar athletics share the burden of these tough financial times. Cuts should have happened across the board, because anything less would amount to favoritism of certain sports over others, which, again, is entirely unjustifiable. Crew is one of 27 varsity sports at Vassar College, and that’s something that we should be proud of, and something we need to protect and appreciate as a student body. In much the same way that we fight to keep our various academic departments financed and running through these difficult times, so, too, must we fight to keep all 27 sports. Obviously, in tough financial times hard decisions need to be made. And they should be made, whether that means cutting all teams’ travel expenses or equipment purchases. They cannot fall solely on one sport, though, because the financial difficulties were not caused by just that sport. All teams and all studentathletes need to be made aware that they are in this situation together and that they need to share burden as a team, as part of Vassar athletics. Singling out one group is completely contrary to that ideal, and it would counter the very team ethic that all Vassar teams try to instill. Over the past year, I have chronicled different examples of stories exactly like this at peer institutions around the country and showed how similar injustices befell different studentathletes. In essence, I expected Vassar to rise above these other schools. Unfortunately, my words have fallen on deaf ears; however, there is still hope in the student body. We need to stand up for our athletics the same way we do for our academics, arts, clubs and organizations. We need to make it known that we support all of our sports, and that doesn’t just mean supporting the crew team now. Rather, it means supporting all the other teams that represent our school on a daily basis. If we fill the stands for home games—if we invest ourselves in our sports the same way we do in so many other things—then we take one huge step in making sure that something like this never happens again. —Nik Trkulja ’11 is an economics and political science double major. This semester he will be editorializing on social issues surrounding sports outside of the Vassar athletics realm.
SCOREBOARD NOVEMBER 7 MEN’S SQUASH VASSAR
NOVEMBER 7 MEN’S SWIMMING VASSAR
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
NOVEMBER 7 WOMEN’S SQUASH VASSAR
NOVEMBER 7 WOMEN’S SWIMMING VASSAR
Volleyball falls to Clarkson in Liberty League Championship
November 12, 2009
Captain critiques College cuts, but committed to club program Christina Peltier
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
Hannah Cassius ’13 holds up the defensive line during the women’s volleyball Liberty League Championship, held on the weekend of Nov. 6-7 in the Athletics and Fitness Center. Andy Marmer
ast weekend, Vassar hosted the Women’s Volleyball Liberty League championships. The tournament saw 10 matches over a twoday span and featured five schools. Play was conducted in a round-robin format, meaning that each school competed against every other one. Although the tournament featured teams from Union, Skidmore and Vassar Colleges, as well as St. Lawrence and Clarkson Universities, ultimately, the League Championship came down to a final contest between secondseed Vassar and top-seed Clarkson. Clarkson’s Golden Knights defeated the Brewers 3-1 (2225, 25-18, 25-21, 25-17). The weekend started well for Vassar. On the first day of competition, each team played two matches, and Vassar emerged from the day as the only unbeaten squad. Clarkson’s surprising straight-set loss to fourth-seed Skidmore indicated the tremendous amount of parity in the league. Vassar’s first match of the second day saw a face-off with 1-1 Skidmore, who had emerged as a surprise contender. A Vassar victory over Skidmore would have given Vassar a 3-0 record, with only 2-1 Clarkson left to play. Since every other team would have had two losses, the winner of the Vassar-Clarkson match would win the championship. Needless
to say, as Vassar and Skidmore squared off tension was running high. The match came down to a dramatic fifth set after Skidmore won the first and fourth sets, and Vassar won the second and third. In the concluding set, Skidmore held an 11-8 lead and then a 13-11 lead; however, Vassar battled back winning the final four points aided by kills from sophomore Amy Bavosa and senior Tess Johnson. The Brewers ultimately took the set 15-13. The win set up a winner-take-all showdown with Clarkson. In the game’s first set, the two teams battled back and forth, with the Brewers eventually pulling out a hard fought 25-22 win. The next three sets were close contests before the Clarkson Golden Knights pulled away late and closed out Vassar. Clarkson hitter Sarah Artus was named MVP of the tournament, while Vassar put two players on the All-Tournament team. Freshman setter Hilary Koenigs and classmate hitter Chloe McGuire both were named to the Liberty League All-Tournament team. The conference tournament also saw the distribution of Liberty League awards. Vassar took home a number of honors as Koenigs earned Rookie of the Year honors, McGuire was named First-Team All-Liberty League and Bavosa earned Second-Team All-Liberty League honors.
s my team walked into last Thursday’s meeting with Athletic Director Sharon Beverly and Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger, we were prepared to have a two-way discussion about the future of our program. However, we were sat down and spoken to like children as they tried to get us excited for their new plan for a non-funded rowing experience. The decision to cut the men and women’s rowing teams without student input came as a shock. A greater shock was that the administrators were giving us excuses for not having information, such as whether the Vassar Student Association could afford to at least partially fund us, by saying that they didn’t want to talk to anyone before they spoke with us, though the news was first broken other students. The Athletics Department should have been transparent in its decision making process, and they should have had the courtesy to share their decision with those affected by it more than an hour before sharing it with the campus. The administration neglected a very important resource in student opinion, and this is becoming an alarming trend on campus. Personal feelings aside, I will say that the members of both rowing teams are not naïve; we understand our sport is expensive and that changes have to be made during a global economic crisis. What is not understood is why small changes could not have been made across the board to preserve rowing at Vassar College. In years past, we were specifically told not to fundraise for equipment, even though this would undoubtedly have alleviated the financial burden placed upon the Athletics Department. They disallowed it because of the implication that the Athletics Department couldn’t support their programs, which has proven to be the case in the cutting of these two varsity teams. If each team were responsible for fundraising a portion of their operating costs, this burden could have been spread out. Also, as a Division III institution, we don’t earn revenue from sporting events, so other sources should have been considered. If each athlete paid a small fee for participating, the Athletics Department budget would be less strained, and there would be no need to charge individual students $500 to remain a competitive rower. The ability to offer a comparable non-varsity competitive program was also cited as a reason to cut funding. Regrettably, the administration didn’t speak to any of us rowers—some of us with high school and other club experiences—before contacting the Hudson River Rowing Association (HRRA) to ask if they would be willing to support a collegiate program. It became evident that the administrators don’t
understand rowing when Kitzinger shared that she told HRRA that we would only want to practice four times a week instead of the rigorous six day per week training schedule we currently maintain. Luckily, HRRA President Andy Mauer set her straight; there is no way to be competitive when you’re limiting on-the-water practice time, and I look forward to hearing his ideas when we meet with him in the near future. Until then, and perhaps after hearing the Vassar-HRRA proposal, we are focused on developing a club model to be implemented next year. Our goal is to continue competing at the same high level that we’ve earned through our performance. We aim to ultimately, through financial independence and a student-run executive board, make program-affecting decisions to ensure future successes without putting a financial burden upon participants. As their third main reason, the administration cited recruitment and retention. Concerning retention, people must understand that rowing offers a unique opportunity for walkons. Few sports at Vassar can turn a non-athlete into a top performer over four years. It gives students who have never participated in sports previous to college the opportunity to start on even ground and enjoy the competitive sport atmosphere. However, not everyone enjoys being a competitive athlete, and rarely does a rower drop crew in favor of another sport on campus; they are not choosing to drop rowing per se, they are choosing to drop athletics. In reference to recruiting, how does removing the funding from two teams fix that problem? Removing funding and forcing substantial dues would damn the rowing program to its demise. This action will turn potential student-athletes away from applying to Vassar. It will cause rowers and non-rowers alike to question what kind of Athletic Department doesn’t value its athletes and makes program-altering decisions without their input. All athletes should be wondering what changes their program will have to make, and if the answer is none, they should appreciate their good fortune and ask why not. Why should rowing take the fall? Which team will be cut next? To show your support for the rowing team and the varsity student-athlete, stop by the College Center; members of men’s and women’s rowing will be on an ergometer for 120 hours straight, from Wednesday, Nov. 11 through Monday, Nov. 16. We’re raising money through pledges, bake sales and spandex sales to start a fund to support Vassar Rowing as we lose funding and transition to a club team. An operating budget for a club is between $30,000 and $50,000 in addition to coaching salaries. With a goal of $10,000 this week, we aim to get the attention of the administration and have them take us as seriously as we take the future competitiveness of our program.
Courtesy of Sports Information
Arjun Jain ’11 clinched the final win to propel his team to a 5-4 victory over Haverford College on Saturday, Nov. 7, in Kenyon Hall.
Jennings & Bianchetti earn League Honors
Spangler places first at ECAC Championships
Although they didn’t continue on to the postseason, the men’s soccer team had an impressive finish in the Liberty League as Brian Bianchetti ’10 and Coach Andy Jennings claimed the Liberty League Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honors, respectively. Bianchetti tallied 11 goals and racked up three Offensive Player of the Week honors over the course of the season. As Vassar’s leading scorer for the past three seasons, he will be sorely missed next year. Jennings, along with his two assistant coaches, took a relatively young team with 12 freshmen and led them to an overall winning record of 9-6-1. Most notably, Jennings coached the team to a 3-2 regular season upset over Union College, which was seeded first at the time. With a solid underclassmen core, the team can expect improvement during the 2010 season. —Lillian Reuman, Sports Editor
On Nov. 7, Johanna Spangler ’12, a star on the women’s cross country team, became the first Vassar female to secure a victorious first place title at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships, hosted by Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. With a time of 22:51, Johanna covered the 6,000 meter course of the race. Last year, Spangler placed second in the championship run as a freshman and was determined to claim the individual title. With the 12th place finish of Kelly Holmes ‘12 and the 30th place finish of captain Zoe Carpenter ‘11, the Brewers placed fourth overall out of 39 teams. With a time of 25:33, co-captain Nina Huang ‘10 placed 40th overall. —L.R.
Fencing medals at Big One Fencing Tourney The men’s fencing team earned two medals at this past weekend’s Big One Fencing Tournament, hosted by Smith College. After advancing to the Gold Medal bout, Andrew Fischl ’11 fell to Boston College sabre fencer Peter Sounders. Fischl finished in second place. Epeeists Nick Johnson ’12 and Brian Rouse ’12 were both top-16 finishers. The Brewers will be hosting the Vassar Invitational in the Walker Field House on Sunday, Nov. 15. —L.R.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Squash Defeats Haverford 5-4 The Vassar men’s squash team opened their season with a bang as they narrowly defeated Haverford College 5-4 at the Kenyon Hall Squash Courts on Saturday, Nov. 7. The intensity grew as Vassar held a 4-3 lead with one match to go. Skillfully, Arjun Jain ’11 beat out Alex Spillotes for the No. 4 spot with a final score of 3-2. Jain’s win followed his teammate junior Mehdi Naqvi’s disappointing 2-3 loss for the No. 2 slot. Although Haverford captured the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, Vassar ultimately came away with the overall win. —L.R.