The Miscellany News November 19, 2009
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CXLIII | Issue 9
Financial Aid works to meet need increase Matthew Bock Guest Reporter
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
oe Watnik ’11 did not return to Vassar this year because of a shift in the College’s ability to reward her family an adequate financial aid package. But although Watnik’s circumstances might, on first glance, appear to be a shortcoming on the part of the Office of Financial Aid, investigation of Watnik’s circumstance revealed that what had seemed very simple was actually much more complicated. Even though she had not needed financial aid in previous years, and despite the lateness of the request for aid—submitted past the March deadline—the financial aid office was willing and able to cover the necessary part of her tuition. “The Financial Aid Office was actually very helpful,” she said during our interview. “If they could have given me aid, they would have.” In fact, Watnik was refused financial aid because, for legal reasons upon which she declined to comment, her family was unable to turn in a piece of paperwork necessary to qualify. She confirmed during our interview that, while Vassar had refused her aid on this legal basis, it wasn’t entirely Vassar’s decision to make. Situations similar to Watnik’s have contributed to a growing number of rumors on campus that the financial situation has negatively impacted the amount of aid distributed during the 2009-2010 academic year and that, as a result, more students than ever have not been able to return to campus. See AID on page 8
Professor of History Robert Brigham teaches America in the World: 1945-Present in Swift Hall Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Unlike other departments, History is expected to expand during the 2010-2011 academic year after receiving a grant for the hire of a new faculty member.
Departments receive responses to staffing requests: 14 contracts unrenewed for non-tenure-track faculty for new searches for tenure-track professors were rejected. These and other announcements concerning next year’s curriculum were sent in an e-mail to the campus community at 5 p.m. on Sunday. “This is the vast majority of the involuntary cuts,” said Chenette in a later interview with The Miscellany News. Chenette explained that there will likely be no further reduction to the faculty in the future unless the
ean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette announced on Sunday, Nov. 15 that approximately 14 current, part-time and full-time non-tenuretrack faculty members—for whom new contracts were requested by department and program heads—will not have their contracts renewed for the 2010-2011 academic year. In addition, five out of eight requests
global recession worsens severely. Vassar’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has come out against these cuts. “We are disturbed, and we’re watching to see what happens,” said Visiting Associate Professor of English Karen Robertson, the president of AAUP chapter at Vassar. Chenette emphasized that these faculty are not being laid off—their contracts are simply being allowed
to expire. The AAUP, however, noted that, according to an Oct. 23 ruling by the Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Leibowitz v. Cornell University, which was reported in an Oct. 27 article in Inside Higher Education, failure to renew a nontenure-track professor’s contract is equatable to dismissal. Earlier this semester, department chairs and program directors subSee FACULTY on page 4
Pulitzer-winning Berzon ’01 discusses journalism’s future Rose Hendricks
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
Assistant News Editor
hen Alexandra Berzon ’01 graduated from Vassar, she had already established herself as a dedicated journalist for The Miscellany News. By the time she returned to campus this past Monday, Nov. 16, Berzon had attached to her name an extensive journalistic career that has taken her to the Las Vegas Sun and The Wall Street Journal. Most notably, however, Berzon captured the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service
for a series of articles published in the Las Vegas Sun. At Monday night’s lecture, entitled “Reporting the Local News: How a Vassar Grad Won the Pulitzer Prize in an Era of Newspaper Decline,” Berzon detailed the research process behind the series and, in her own words, the unexpected Pulitzer win. The series detailed the unsafe and sometimes fatal working conditions for construction workers on the Las Vegas strip. The seSee BERZON on page 4
Renovations to The Vassar College Art Library were completed in the fall of 2009. The project was made possible by a series of three restricted gifts that incurred interest over the course of approximately 20 years. Jared Saunders/The Miscellany News
Restricted gifts fund Art Library, other projects Jillian Scharr News Editor
hy is there construction outside the Wimpfheimer Nursery School and the Infant Toddler Center? Why was the interior of the Vassar Art Library—now complete with eight new black Wassily armchairs and three hanging Samsung screens—restored earlier this fall? Why was the Maria Mitchell Obser-
vatory fully renovated last February? Many students who see such capital projects underway have wondered why Vassar is putting money towards campus renovations at a time when the global recession is forcing other arenas of the College to make difficult sacrifices that often affect the livelihood of members of the community. This money for those and other capital projects, however, did not come
Inside this issue
Students discuss Greek life at Vassar on Facebook groups
from the general operating budget, the reservoir of funds from which the College has to manage chief expenses such as compensation for faculty and staff; rather, the projects were paid for with what are called “restricted gifts,” donations from an outside party— typically an alumna/us or foundation connected to the College. As part of these gifts, the donor See GIFTS on page 5
1942 Vassar comic books still elicit laughs today
Pulitzer-prize winner and former Miscellany News Editor Alexandra Berzon ’01 spoke to the Vassar community about the state of journalism.
A night behind the music of WVKR radio
The Miscellany News
November 19, 2009
Editor in Chief Ruby Cramer Senior Editor Molly Turpin
Contributing Editors Caitlin Halasz Chloe McConnell Elizabeth Pacheco
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
Photo of the Week: John Donnelly ’13 was named Liberty League Rookie of the Week for his performance in the Brewers’ season-opening 78-66 win over Endicott College on Sunday, Nov. 15.
Staff Editorial | Senior Officers must strive to make announcements matter-of-fact, accessible to students
n all-campus e-mail sent on Nov. 15 announced that approximately 14 current non-tenure-track faculty members’ contracts would not be renewed at the end of this year (See “Departments receive responses to staffing requests: 14 contracts unrenewed for non-tenure-track faculty” on page 1). In addition to discontinuing these contracts, five requests for tenure-track faculty searches were denied, and three were approved. The Office of the Dean of the Faculty estimates that the curriculum will contain 30 to 40 fewer course sections than this year’s curriculum. This information, however, was unfortunately announced in way which the editors of The Miscellany News felt lacked frankness and accessibility. Readers had to read through nearly half the e-mail to reach the news that 14 current non-tenure-track faculty members’ contracts would not be renewed in its seventh paragraph. “Of the approximately 75 requests for new faculty contracts, two-thirds were approved,” stated the email. “Ten of those were approved at a level lower than requested. The requests that were not approved were divided almost equally between those for new contracts for current faculty and those for faculty not yet hired.” The fact that 14 non-tenure track faculty members will not have their contracts renewed for next year comes as the answer to the almost inevitable question, “What do these numbers and fractions mean?” Many students have been anxiously awaiting this announcement to learn how the recession will force the College to draw back on the academic arenas of the College. The information presented in the e-mail, however, was buried in the message to the extent to which it was difficulty to find. While we greatly appreciate that the information was given with great context by explaining the process of approving staffing plans, the facts themselves would have been better if placed at the top of the e-mail in a more matter-of-fact way. Many students expected the e-mail, and so the obscure presentation of this announcement was an unnecessary obstacle for readers. Some students, who may have been unaware of the changes, were perhaps unable to glean any useful information out of the e-mail at all. We feel that when difficult news must be
announced to students, the information should be presented clearly, in a way that is easy for students to comprehend. To give an example of a more affective letter to the campus community, in an e-mail from President Catharine Bond Hill on Sept. 30, the information about job eliminations was presented clearly and more personally—a style of communication that The Miscellany News Editorial Board finds much more effective. “Unfortunately, this week we have had to inform 13 employees that their positions are being eliminated,” Hill wrote. “The elimination of these administration and staff positions completes the planned changes in the nonfaculty salary budget for 2010/11.”This frank and direct announcement respected the community’s right and desire to know about the decisions of the College, and Hill went on to praise the work of the staff members and to stress that the decisions were not based on merit, but on budget priorities. If important campus-wide messages from the senior officers of the College must be given over e-mail—which the Editors do believe to be fully appropriate—then let those letters be as clear, open and honest as the author sees possible. Hill’s style in her Sept. 30 e-mail was to the point and lacked any obfuscation, and we thank her and the administration for their continuing efforts to level with students in this difficult economic time. In the coming weeks, we urge department chairs, program directors majors committees to keep their students accurately informed about changes happening within their respective areas, particularly as they pertain to fulfilling the majors and correlate sequences. It is in the best interest of this College to make a constant effort to communicate with students and maintain open channels for discussion and information. As more staffing decisions are made throughout the month, the editors of The Miscellany News hope that such dialogue continues and that the senior officers of the College will not hesitate to update students clearly and openly.
If important campus-wide messages must be given over e-mail, then let those letters be as clear, open and honest as the author sees possible.
—The Staff Editorial reflects the opinion of at least twothirds of the 20-member Editorial Board.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
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LETTERS POLICY The Miscellany News is Vassar College’s weekly open forum for discussion of campus, local and national issues, and welcomes letters and opinions submissions from all readers. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 450 words, and they usually respond to a particular item or debate from the previous week’s issue. Opinions articles are longer pieces, up to 800 words, and take the form of a longer column. No letter or opinions article may be printed anonymously. If you are interested in contributing, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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November 19, 2009
New Security FAQ to be released by VSA Bard College Xiaoyuan Ren
he Vassar Student Association (VSA) will soon release a new list of “Vassar Security Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ). Expected to be released by the end of the semester, it will cover commonly asked questions about Security and the Office of Residential Life protocols. The FAQ was drafted by VSA Vice President for Student Life Elizabeth Anderson ’11 and is currently being reviewed and revised by Director of Security Donald Marsala and Director of Residential Life Luis Inoa before becoming available for the whole student body. When asked what the FAQ will mainly cover, Anderson replied, “Topics will most likely cover protocol for security when entering student’s room, rules for 21 and over students, alcohol and drugs in dorms, campus patrol and so on. But these are only what we might expect because we still need to have everything approved first.” According to Marsala, some questions that may be included are general concerns about parking on campus, vehicle registration and escort service. The proposal of a new security FAQ has been raised by Anderson since the start of the semester. She has been gathering questions from class presidents, the VSA’s Student Life Committee and house presidents, who collected questions from their constituents in the residential dorms. “We chose from all the questions we were provided with and then we sorted them
out.” Anderson said, regarding the process of drafting the FAQ. “We try to pick the most generally concerned questions through the process. Then, I e-mail them to [Marsala] and [Inoa] to get their answers and to let them look through the questions. ” “These are just questions that people are usually concerned about but unsure of,” said Marsala in the same moment as he received an e-mail with new questions from Anderson to be included in the document. The general idea of the FAQ is to create more transparency among students and Security, and it will also help students understand more about protocols. “A lot of students have been asking questions regarding security issues,” Marsala replied when asked about the purpose of the FAQ , “and this is a good information exchange platform. For example, many students don’t know that the security is in charge of detecting a certain situation, while the Residential Life is responsible for exact reports regarding the problem.” As for expectations for the influence of the FAQ , Anderson said, “We hope that it can help build a better relationship between security and students, and eliminate the discrepancies among students, ResLife and Security Office by creating as much transparency as possible.” This trend of increasing transparency in security issues is also demonstrated through the Room Entry Policy that Residential Life and the Committee on College Life is currently updating and revising. The goal of this new form is to let students
have a clarified picture of what exactly they will face when they are certain situations that might lead to disciplinary action. Although the final version is still being worked on, we can expect the questions to be generally in the form of “How would security respond if you do such a thing?” These lively anecdotes will make students gain a better perspective of security protocols and proper behaviors. “Well, we do have all the security regulations on our website, but hardly any students look at them. Now with this FAQ form, I think more people will be going through the useful information,” said Marsala. “We still encourage students to go on our website to learn more, and we always welcome students to e-mail and ask about security questions.” Anderson also discussed how the FAQ will be publicized. “It will most likely be e-mailed through ResLife to the whole student body. Also, it will appear in the ResLife Guide, as well as the Student Handbook for next year.” After the revised version of the FAQ is finished by Anderson and confirmed by Residential Life and the Security Office, it will go through David “D.B.” Brown, Dean of Students, for final approval. After that, the final version of the Security FAQ will be released. “We’re hoping to raise the student’s awareness of the policies and make everyone learn the responsibilities,” Anderson said. “But this will not be the only form of communication among students and the security. There are forums online and students can still feel to express any opinions regarding the security.”
Panel discusses evolution of Vassar queer life Aashim Usgaonkar
n Monday, Nov. 16, the Campus Life Office’s LGBTQ Center and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College hosted “Interrogating Mythologies: Queer Life At Vassar Since ’69.” The event, spearheaded by Associate Director for Campus Life and LGBTQ Programs Steve Lavoie ’08, was well attended by students, alumnae/i and faculty. “Interrogating Mythologies” is the “first in a series of such events” organized to “highlight the richness and depth of queer history of Vassar,” said Lavoie. Lavoie introduced the event by stating that the history of queer life at Vassar is “based on rumors” and lacking in depth. Therefore, according to Lavoie, now is a good time to “start exploring it.” To facilitate this exploration, Lavoie invited a panel of speakers—Peter Pope ’00, Liza Campbell ’07, Cait Field ’05 and Chris Larkosh ’87—as well as Professor of English Paul Russell to offer their opinions on “clarify[ing] myths about Vassar’s queer history,” according to Lavoie. Through the panelists’ statements, it was evident that each member had a uniquely positive experience being a part of the LGBTQ community during his or her tenure at Vassar. Two of the panelists were open about their sexualities from the start of their careers at Vassar. “I was already out when I came on to campus,” said Pope ’00, explaining why his experience at Vassar was “healthy”—meaning that he was not discriminated against due to his sexuality. Pope attributed this to “all the work people did in the ’70s” to integrate the queer community with the rest of the student population. Describing the contrast between Vassar and other colleges, Liza Campbell ’07, who transferred to Vassar from Claremont College, said that her interactions with the LGBTQ community at Vassar were extremely fulfilling. Campbell noted that one drawback to Vassar’s LGBTQ community is the fact that participation in the community is a matter of choice. “[There was a] disconnect between those who wanted to be active and those who didn’t,” she claimed. Offering a different perspective, Cait Field ’05 said that she was still “in the closet” when she started at Vassar; even so, she applied to the College on account of its “gay aura.” Now in graduate school, Field finds herself “missing Vassar,” citing the extremely understanding and supportive faculty, and general “awareness about the complexities” of sexual orientation. The question and answer period addressed the issues that the panelists brought up. Vassar
students highlighted several concerns specific to queer life on the Vassar campus. A major concern was that of an overlap between minority groups on campus. “[There was] very little interaction between [the Queer Coalition] and any of the other minority groups,” says Pope; he found the existing interaction “condescending.” Pope recalled a particular “Org Cook-Off,” where different minority groups sold food from their own cultures. Upon being “invited,” Pope was confused and during the panel discussion comically asked, “well, what should we have served? Gay food?” “Most attempts to bridge the gap between different minority groups on campus were not successful,” said Larkosh, citing the unsuccessful attempt to set up a “Queer People of Color” a cappella group back in the 1970s. Vassar’s perennially popular “Homo-Hop” Dance, for which Vassar was famous among college students across the country, was another topAlumnae/i and Professor of English Paul Russell gathic of debate. Describing it as ered for “Interrogating Mythologies,” on Monday, Nov. 16. a “dark room in the College Center dedicated to celebrating sex and sexual- for Information, Contraception, and Education, ity,” Pope called the dance an attempt to physi- which provides students with information on cally establish a queer presence on campus. Al- sexual health. Students in attendance hoped though the Homo-Hop was later closed down for such improvements to continue, as well as due to its “devolving” into a “sex room,” Lavoie to learn about this untold history. Kevin Choa maintained that it was people from outside the ’12 wanted to see if Vassar’s “gay life was betVassar community who “brought unhealthy el- ter now than it was before.” Greg Shapiro ’12 ements” to the establishment. However, Pope expressed interest in the subject as “a part of contends that “[the dance] was, overall, a very Vassar’s history that is mostly ignored, but very much exists.” positive experience.” Describing this history as “important,” HIV/AIDS awareness was another important issue that panelists had strong opinions about. Lavoie wishes to continue to have such events In the 1980s, “there was no response from Vas- in the future. Whether it be “going through old sar College about AIDS at all. Perhaps some of Miscellany articles” or “teasing out” this hismy friends would still be here today if Vassar tory from the library’s dossiers, Lavoie is ophad been more responsive,” said Larkosh. Of timistic. “The students who came here in the course, the awareness on campus has improved, past four decades were committed to thinking largely due to the efforts of organizations like of the world in a different sense—the LGBTQ the Queer Coalition and the LGBTQ commu- community was a large part of that change, nity, as well as the Campus Health Organization and so it shouldn’t be forgotten” said Lavoie.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
sues Board of Elections Poughkeepsie Democrats decide against pursuing legal action for injunction against Vassar students. Matthew Vassar
Best Founder Ever
he events of Election Day are still not over for some. On this year’s Election Day, Nov. 3, the Town of Poughkeepsie Republican Party filed an injunction forcing Vassar students to vote by paper ballot—called an “affidavit ballot”— while the legitimacy of their registration was verified. Students’ registration came under question on the basis of residency. According to the Republican Party, if students had changed dorms since they registered in Dutchess County, then their voter registration was no longer valid. The Democratic Party filed an appeal later in the day which challenged the legality of the injunction; however, the paper ballots which students filled out were not counted that evening, but tallied more than a week later with the rest of the paper and mail-in ballots since, according to the margins of victory, they could not have changed the results. Democratic Attorney David Sears explains that when the Republican Attorney, John Ciampoli, brought the injunction to the New York Supreme Court on Nov. 3, he did not get an index number for the injunction because the County Clerk’s office is closed on Election Day. Sears was supposed to meet Ciampoli in court last Thursday, Nov. 12, under a Supreme Court Judge’s directive, but he “failed to show up,” said Sears in a telephone interview. As of right now, the Poughkeepsie Democratic Party is not pursuing any further action, although, according to Deputy Commissioner Daniel French, the Democratic Party of the Town of Poughkeepsie intends to retain David Sears as legal council. “There’s nothing scheduled,” said Sears. “If some Vassar students wanted to commence a legal action against the board of elections and the attorney who [filed the injunction]…that’s a totally different issue.” Seven students at Bard College have done just that. They filed a lawsuit as registered voters of Red Hook, N.Y. and met in Poughkeepsie City Court on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Bard College hired the lawyer and organized the students, explained Associate Dean of Bard College and Associate Professor of Political Studies Jonathan Becker in a telephone interview. “10 people in all were forced to vote on the affidavit. We sent notes and phoned all of them and seven people have chosen [to file the suit].” Becker explained that, unlike Vassar, whose campus is spread across three election districts, Bard’s campus is situated in only one. Therefore, “it was not immediately obvious that [the injunction] applied here… it shouldn’t apply here,” he emphasized. “The Republican poll watchers chose to randomly apply it to approximately every fourth or fifth student after it came into effect.” So, at Bard’s polling location, the injunction “only applied to challenges, and those challenges were only made to a random sample of students.” He continued, “we want to establish a precedent that demonstrates that it is unacceptable,” said Becker. When asked if Vassar College has similar plans as Bard College, President of the College Catharine Bond Hill wrote in an e-mailed statement: “A variety of people on campus are working on this, and we are hoping to get together in the next week to coordinate our efforts. We are committed to protecting our students’ right to vote. We’ll be using our attorneys to help us with this, as needed. We’ve also been in touch with Bard to see if coordination would help us in our efforts.”
Depts. may respond, suggest revised plans FACULTY continued from page 1 mitted requests to the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for 75 contract renewals for contingent faculty for the 2010-2011 academic year, which were evenly split between current faculty and faculty yet to be hired. Last week, Chenette finished meeting with department chairs and program directors about decisions regarding each staffing plan. Of the aggregate 75 new contracts that departments and programs requested, two-thirds were approved. “If we had granted all 75 requests for new contracts,” wrote Chenette, “next year’s curriculum would have returned almost to the record size of last year’s curriculum.” Though Chenette communicated his responses to the staffing plans last week, departments and programs still have the opportunity to offer a counterproposal to his suggestions if they wish. For example, some departments might ask to renew a current professor’s contract rather than hire a new non-tenure track faculty member. “Departments might have requested both a new faculty member and a new contract for a current faculty member to teach different things,” said Chenette. “We might have approved one but not the other because of different levels of curricular need.” With regard to hiring new faculty members in a department in which the contracts of some current faculty members will not be reviewed, Robertson said, “that’s shocking and it would be something AAUP would be upset about.” In regard to the 14 non-tenure-track faculty whose contracts will likely be not be renewed upon the completion this academic year, Chenette noted that many of the specific decisions made surrounding these positions have been and will continue to be made in close collaboration with department chairs and program heads. “There are four departments that have to make some choices…given what we can afford and what level of staffing we need,” Chenette said. These departments may be able to retain more faculty by giving each professor a reduced course load, and, according to Chenette, there will likely be fewer than 14 faculty cuts once this process is finalized. Robertson, however, pointed out that faculty who teach two or fewer courses will not receive benefits. According to Robertson, these contingent faculty who are being let go are necessary for the College to keep in order to meet students’ changing interests. She said that they include professors in areas that could be considered essential. The Campus Solidarity Working Group
issued a press release against these faculty cuts, stating, “As the economy improves and Vassar’s endowment begins to recover, Vassar continues to move toward divesting from labor and education.” Jamie Stevenson ’10, a member of the Working Group, was quoted in the release as saying, “The cuts have been justified along budgetary lines, but they also reflect certain priorities on the part of the administration and the Board [of Trustees], priorities that are not shared by a significant number of people at the College.” The group is fighting for fair treatment for laidoff staff and faculty, and alleges that “the College is participating in unfair labor practices by laying off the most vulnerable members of the community.” However, Vassar Student Association Vice President for Academics Stephanie DamonMoore ’11 cautioned students to examine the big picture. “Students should get their voice out and be heard, but should be realistic about the financial situation,” she said. “The cuts were made with the best interests of the College at heart, but everyone has a different idea of what the best interest is,” DamonMoore continued. In determining which contracts to approve, Chenette said, “We tried to treat every department as an individual. Some are growing.” He stressed, however, that any department that has been allowed to hire non-tenure-track faculty for next year lost recently lost faculty and, in some cases, may not be restored to the level of staffing the department had prior to the recession. Of the eight requests for authorization of searches for new tenure-track faculty, three were approved for the Biology, Economics and Psychology Departments, in order to compensate for professors in those departments who left the College for various reasons, such as retirement. Chenette made the approximate total reduction of course sections—between 30 and 40 sections—public in the Nov. 15 e-mail, though the departments and programs from where many cuts have been made have not yet been made public. He cautioned, though, against relating the course reduction statistics directly to staffing reductions. As Chenette told The Miscellany News, the Philosophy Department will suffer one of the largest decreases in sections offered, and the History Department promises the greatest increase. Neither of these departments, however, were affected by the renewal or discontinuation of non-tenure-track faculty
contracts. Instead, the reduced number of sections in the Philosophy Department is merely a result of the routine fluctuations in course offerings that come with professors going on leave. The History Department received a grant to hire a new professor. Other departments, however, have faced a reduction in course sections as a result of a reduction in faculty. The number of course offerings for the Computer Science Department, for example, decreased due to a reduction in faculty for this academic year. The department’s reduced faculty came from the fact that one professor went to direct a multidisciplinary program and no contingent faculty member was hired to replace him. Next year, however, the Department will be adding three adjunct faculty members and will increase their number of sections as a response to the over-enrollment of many computer science courses this year. While the faculty cuts will affect some departments more than others, the College was constrained on the basis of whose contracts were due to expire at the end of this year. “Some departments are fully made up of tenured or tenure-track professors, and some are made up of tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track professors with no contracts expiring next summer,” noted Chenette. Departments that have not been cut have been asked to help fill needs within the curriculum in other ways, such as by offering more freshman writing seminars, by releasing faculty to teach within multidisciplinary programs or by crosslisting courses. In addition, the administration was able to salvage upwards of 30 courses by reducing the number of course releases given to faculty serving the College outside of the classroom on committees or as department chairs. Of the current faculty members whose contracts will not be renewed next year, Chenette wrote, “We appreciate and thank them for the significant contributions they have made to our students and to the College community. We are working on ways to support them for the future.” Chenette is working with an employment agency for academic professionals, an organization that would help faculty find employment at other colleges in the Hudson Valley. Chenette plans to release further information regarding faculty cuts on a department-bydepartment basis soon, although he is thus far unsure as to when. The information presented will include the number of courses offered this year, how many will be offered next year and how many were requested by departments.
Berzon recalls years on The Miscellany News BERZON continued from page 1 ries highlighted the high death rate among the construction workers and exposed the looselyenforced safety regulations. Berzon explained that she “gave a voice to the families of lost fathers and sons,” and thereby “exposed the red tape” of safety management. Berzon told the audience of the numerous difficulties she encountered while writing the series. The articles required that she become an expert on both the casino industry and the construction industry, areas in which she had little background. To research properly, she stressed, “you have to ask dumb questions first.” Following this, Berzon tenaciously pursued the appropriate authorities for interviews and valuable information, despite experiencing stonewalling from her interviewees and receiving several threats in her effort. The series of over 50 stories and editorials not only won the Pulitzer Prize, but also received the Scripps Howard Award for Public Service Reporting and several regional awards. Berzon’s prolific career began when she joined The Miscellany News at the beginning of her freshman year at Vassar with no prior experience in journalism and no idea that she would eventually pursue it as a career. Once in the newsroom, she felt that she had “found the thing”—meaning she had discovered her niche at Vassar. She liked writing for The Miscellany News because, as a reporter, she got to learn about “some of everything.” Berzon explained that she enjoyed working with a small community of people who were all
creating something that had an “impact on the community.” From her time at the newspaper, she realized that journalism could have a tangible impact on issues. Berzon vividly recalls a series she wrote on faculty diversity at Vassar while working for The Miscellany News. The series pointed to the low number of faculty of color and looked at different sides of this issue. She explored such issues as whether post-course evaluations were biased and whether the denial of tenure to a faculty member was affected by race. Berzon explored these issues in order to uncover a possible factor in the limited diversity of the Vassar faculty. Upon graduating in 2001 as an urban studies major, Berzon did not immediately pursue journalism, but instead worked in public policy. Soon after, she realized that she was happiest during the time she was working on The Miscellany. Still unsure about her future career, she applied to many different types of graduate schools and ended up attending the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. As she began to pursue journalism, Berzon made an effort to experience new places. She explained that she was “trying to get as foreign as possible without going to a new country.” As part of this mission, she worked for The Anchorage Daily News, The San Antonio Express-News and Red Herring Magazine. She noted that it was “inspiring as a journalist to write about things that are the farthest away from my experiences.” While she never learned many of the technical journalism techniques necessary for a career in journalism during her time at Vassar, Berzon
did state that her experience as a reporter for The Miscellany News helped her transition to a professional paper. After finishing graduate school, Berzon went to work for the Las Vegas Sun. At the suggestion of the paper, Berzon began investigating construction worker deaths as soon as she was hired. The day the Pulitzer Prize was announced, Berzon was at a local courthouse covering the case of a deceased construction worker. Busy with reporting and frustrated with a delayed hearing, Berzon hadn’t checked the messages on her cell phone and missed the call that would have relayed the news. When she returned to the office, still unaware of her award, Berzon received a standing ovation from her colleagues. “The first thing I did was went back to my desk and called my parents,” Berzon laughingly recalled, “I was crying.” Berzon felt that the Pulitzer Prize helped the Las Vegas Sun greatly. Las Vegas residents were overall excited and “proud to have the Pulitzer in their city,” which, she pointed out, was the first time that it had been awarded to someone in Las Vegas. She explained that the award demonstrated that “there was good investigative journalism going on in the city.” Sociology Professor and Director of the Urban Studies Program Leonard Nevarez commented that “this level of coverage of local news is…uncommon.” He went on that the Sun does “what newspapers should do: really shift the conversation.” Although the series sparked many heated debates, Berzon feels that by the end, most people ended up respecting her work,
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
November 19, 2009
News Briefs Dorm Damage On Nov. 13, Security discovered drawing on the walls of the lobby in Lathrop House. There were also ripped down posters. Some students have been identified as being involved, but the case is still under investigation. According to Lathrop House President Alessandra “Zan” Schmidt ’12 in an e-mailed statement, “Upon seeing the damage and vandalism to the dorm, Lathrop residents responded to the incident by writing messages expressing their frustration with the disrespect of our dorm and messages of support and love for our dorm and its leaders.” —Rose Hendricks, Assistant News Editor
Silent alarm On Nov. 11, a Security officer doing rounds in Main Building noticed that the alarm siren for the South attic doors was missing. The College is in the process of replacing it. It is a fire hazard for students to go into the attic. —R.H.
Tree-top trespasser A Vassar employee saw a hunting tree stand in one of the trees at Vassar Farm and reported this to security, who discovered a bow hunter. Poughkeepsie police were called and escorted the trespasser off campus. —R.H.
Runaway On Nov. 12, an officer patrolling near Lathrop House’s lobby saw a student with a bottle of alcohol. The underage student ran up the stairs to the second floor, where the officer met him and confiscated the alcohol. —R.H.
Smoky prank On Nov. 13, an officer received a complaint saying there was the smell of smoke on the fourth floor of Main Building. The officer smelled a smoke bomb and the Arlington Fire Department responded. Four alarm boxes had also been pulled, but it is unknown if this was done by the perpetrators or by concerned students. —R.H.
Bathroom break-in The glass from a shattered bathroom door on the third floor of Cushing House was discovered on Nov. 13. —R.H.
Table theft On Nov. 15, an officer patrolling in Main Building spotted one student carrying a table belonging to Campus Activities and another carrying alcohol. Both were confiscated and the table was returned. —R.H.
Literary mischief On Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m., Security received complaints about two individuals acting suspiciously in the library. One of the individuals was following a student. Patrols have been increased in the library and the staff was alerted. One individual may have been involved in an earlier incident in the library. —R.H.
and she didn’t burn many bridges after all. She is now covering Las Vegas for the Los Angeles bureau of The Wall Street Journal. When asked about her opinion on modern journalism, Berzon commented that the increasing decline in small, local newspapers is a problem because “local papers can do things that a national paper can’t…[they’re] on the ground, they know the area.” She did not discourage aspiring journalists from entering this field, but instead advised them to learn about other aspects of journalism, such as the video and radio components. After all, Berzon joked, “it’s a great thing to be able to say ‘feed me knowledge—and please do it really fast!’”
November 19, 2009
Debate about Greek life at Vassar erupts on Facebook Elizabeth Pacheco
n early November, a Facebook group appeared in the Vassar network; in all caps, the tag read, “Do you want Greek life at Vassar? Because we do. Join if you really want in because this is happening.” These were bold words for students who attend a college that so outwardly promotes the absence of “Greek” organizations on campus. Unsurprisingly, the group caused a quick response from other Vassar students, and soon a “We Do Not Want Greek Life at Vassar” group appeared. Compared to the initial group— with only 40 members—the anti-Greek life group currently has 301 members. As expected, dialogue on the “Wall” of each page is intense, and the interaction—perhaps taking place solely online—between students on this issue has been heated since the groups were created. “Vassar is a campus that prides itself on being open to everything and accepting of everyone, and I was disappointed that they weren’t as open to this,” said one of the pro-Greek life page’s administrators, Erman Agirnasli ’10. Although the page appears to be advocating the creation of a Greek life culture at Vassar, Agirnasli is adamant that this isn’t the case, stating, “My plans for Greek life at Vassar are none. I don’t want to create Greek life.” He and fellow administrator of the group Salina Sabri ’12 are very clear about their intentions: Vassar isn’t a place to bring Greek life culture; however, those students who support the basic Greek organization ideals should be allowed to organize. However, Vassar students who chose to leave comments on the Facebook page gleaned a different understanding of their motives. The walls of both pages were soon filled with arguments against Greek life on campus that ranged from the outrageous to the reasoned. A number of students feel that even an association with Greek life would reflect poorly on Vassar as an institution. “In my opinion, Greek organizations bring an unnecessary institutionalized, patriarchal hierarchy to social life, and the associations that fraternities have with hypermasculinity, disrespect of women, homophobia and general ignorance are too strongly apparent in my mind to view them as a potential part of Vassar,” explained Alex Herman ’12, who posted a similar argument on the anti-Greek life page. Not all the responses on either page are respectful, and this has caused further tension. “Because we anti-Greek lifers [think] that our personal opinions happen to be the popular one, a lot of kids are just mocking and making personal attacks [against] those who do want Greek life, rather than presenting an actual argument against it. [Some are] abusing their power as members of the dominant, anti-Greek group,” explained Crystal Tung ’12, a member of the anti-Greek life page, in an e-mailed statement. “That, to me, is on the exact same level as the narrow-mindedness and zero-empathy bullying associated with Greek life.” When asked about the reaction to their Facebook page, Agrinasli and Sabri said they were upset that personal insults and attacks had entered the discussion. Both say they are going to delete the page, but as of the morning of Nov. 18, the page was still there. Traditionally, fraternities and sororities have been dedicated to academics, leadership and community service. Since opportunities for these pursuits are available at Vassar, Agrinasli
and Sabri have new ideas about how a fraternity or sorority might fit in at Vassar. Agrinasli, who is a member of the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity, sees the national organizations as offering students a chance to “connect you with brothers within your school as well as at other schools. [They increase] your social network. [Even] if you don’t see eye to eye, you at least share some sort of values.” In addition to Agirnasli, there is one other Alpha Phi Delta member on campus. Both students went through the pledging process with the Marist College chapter of the fraternity. When asked about this pledging process, Agirnasli was hesitant to give details and simply stated that it was a great decision. In his sophomore year, Agirnasli attempted to recruit members for the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity, but maintains that this is no longer his goal. Agirnasli said that he is more than willing to help interested students become involved, but he will not actively recruit new members. Sabri, who isn’t a member of a sorority, feels that Vassar students are too isolated within the Vassar community and don’t do enough with other college students in the surrounding area. For those students currently involved in community service organizations on campus, Sabri argues that “if people want to do all those things [community service related], it’ll be easier to organize” if they’re associated with Greek organizations. Both Sabri and Agirnasli cited networking as a major reason to go Greek. “During this economic slump, it’s hard to get jobs and internships,” said Sabri. As part of a fraternity or sorority, you’re “not limited to just Vassar [alumnae/i], but have access to [alumnae/i] from any college. Seeing [a fraternity or sorority] on your resume also helps you stand out since the organizations are nationally recognized.” “Proponents of Greek life at Vassar often justified their point of view by arguing that such a framework would provide means for increased interest in community service, networking and resume-building,” said Noor Mir ’12, a member of the anti-Greek life group. “I contend that the entire purpose of a liberal arts education is to escape the rigid stepby-step solution for success. Is it not more fruitful to carve one’s own individual path towards a well-rounded college experience?” Some students find resume-building an unconvincing rationale for joining a fraternity or sorority. “The concept that a human being should do something solely to fill up their resume and ‘look good’ is antithetical to everything Vassar represents,” said Nick Burrell ’12. “Greek life will just adulterate and dilute the flavor that makes Vassar such a desirable place for so many people.” On other campuses, Greek life has traditionally filled a specific niche. At peer institution Hamilton College, a number of fraternities and sororities were founded as an opportunity for those of the same ethnic background or gender to establish a shared community. Some Greek organizations cite a commitment to strong academics as a cornerstone of their purpose, and almost all promote a mission of philanthropy, community involvement and an overall creation of brotherhood and sisterhood among their members. At Vassar, there are a number of organizations that already fill these niches. The ALANA Center provides resources and programs to support
At the beginning of the month, students created a Facebook group entitled “We Want Greek Life at Vassar” to advocate for the introduction of sororities and fraternities at Vassar. students of color in all aspects of their College life—academic, creative, social, and cultural. As a competitive liberal arts institution, Vassar provides a wealth of resources that demonstrate a commitment to academics. Additionally, there are a number of philanthropy projects and opportunities for community involvement both within and outside the academic sphere. Agirnasli and Sabri stated that they aren’t interested in taking away from those organizations; instead, they emphasize that they’re looking for a nondiscriminatory atmosphere where students with similar interests can come together. The anti-Greek life page cites a series of reasons for not supporting Agirnasli and Sabri’s efforts. Many reference typical Greek life stereotypes and a desire not to support this kind of culture on campus. Ironically, these stereotypes are the ones Agirnasli and Sabri are looking to avoid. “Usually Greek life is a significant portion of the student body. All these different organizations come together, [and] there are rules and structures put in place [by the national organization],” explains Agirnasli. “None of that works at Vassar; it’s not even applicable.” Both students said that there would be no hazing or discriminatory actions involved, and the organizations wouldn’t “go against Vassar’s core values.”
According to Sabri, there are close to 60 Vassar students interested in becoming part of a Greek organization. They held a general interest meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to bring those students together. Even if a number of students do join a national Greek chapter, Agrinasli and Sabri have said that they aren’t looking to form Vassar Student Association (VSA) funded organizations and students will be solely responsible for their dues. However, this could pose additional challenges in attracting and maintaining members and organizing events. “Any group of students with a mutual interest is certainly allowed to hang out amongst themselves,” explained VSA Vice President for Operations Brian Farkas ’10. “But in order to schedule any space on campus, use the InfoSite, hang publicity, use the SARC resources, sign any contract or bring any outside individuals, they require our certification (or the sponsorship of an office).” These challenges however, haven’t changed Agrinasli and Sabri’s own thoughts about Greek organizations on campus. “I think that a fraternity or two or a sorority or two could fit into the Vassar campus,” said Agrinasli. “There is a small minority that exists on campus [for whom] Greek life could be beneficial. Greek life could enhance the [lives] of a few individuals at Vassar.”
For restricted gifts, College must use money as directed by donor GIFTS continued from page 1 specifies exactly what the donation can be used for, and the College must promise not to use the donated money for anything other than the specified project, explained Vice President for Development Cathy Baer. “Restricted gifts to Vassar date back to [Founder] Matthew Vassar, who gave $50,000 to establish the College’s first endowed scholarship fund to ensure, in Matthew Vassar’s own words, ‘that no student of superior promise should be turned away due to lack of means,’” explained Baer. Often restricted gifts are used to fund projects—as in the recent case of the Art Library— but often the gift is used to set up an endowment. In the latter case, the interest earned from the endowment is used to fund ongoing projects and needs, some of the most common
of which are “the endowment, capital projects, grants for academic programs, scholarship endowment, expendable scholarships, support for faculty chairs and foundation grants for the work we’re doing in the Poughkeepsie High School,” listed Baer. “We’re legally bound to put [the restricted gift money] toward those purposes,” Baer explained. “There could be gifts we don’t accept because it’s not part of our mission.” When President Catharine Bond Hill arrived at Vassar in Fall 2006, she set Development’s mission by “leading us in a strategic planning process,” said Baer; Hill emphasized a state-ofthe-art science facility, ongoing building renovations, improved accessibility on campus and interactions with the surrounding community. Baer explained that unrestricted gifts are
typically donations transferred to the Annual Fund, which is put directly into the operating budget to be used at the College’s discretion. Many donors, however, are drawn to restricted gifts, perhaps because they like to see their money produce a tangible result. “By and large, the people we raise money from are alumnae/i,” said Baer. “They will have specific areas of interest that they want to see supported. So it’s a wonderful intersection of their interests and the College’s priorities.” When people or foundations interested in donating approach the Development Office, Baer explained that she and her colleagues “might work with them to get [the gift] to something at the core of we’re raising funds for. We don’t look for gifts that aren’t part of our priorities,” said Baer. “Say somebody wanted to give us an
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ice hockey team. It’s very likely that we’d say ‘no’ to that.” Often, restricted gifts also come in the form of bequests, money left to the College in a legal will. “Alumnae/i might establish through their will a scholarship foundation, endowment chairs or faculty chairs created through bequest,” said Baer. For example, the late Vassar alumna and Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Winifred Asprey ’38—after whom the Computer Science Department’s Asprey Lab is named—bequeathed an endowment for multidisciplinary science work at Vassar. Baer reported that, despite the nationwide recession, restricted gifts continue to come in. “Overall, our fundraising was remarkably good [during the last fiscal year],” she said. Indeed, See DEVELOPMENT on page 6
November 19, 2009
Vassar cartoon collection still resonates 67 years later Emma Carmichael
Image from “Vassar: A Second Glance”
sar some 70-plus years before I did could somehow target the same mockeries and stereotypes with which a 21st-century student could identify? How could they still make me laugh? As it turns out, Cleveland passed away in March of 2009 at the age of 92. She grew up in Cincinnati, daughter to parents who came from two wealthy New England families, with three brothers, including a twin. Her father died during her childhood, and her mother worked in education to support her children, eventually serving as Dean of Women at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Cleveland was sent to boarding school where she began submitting cartoons to the school newspaper, and she continued the hobby at Vassar in the early ’30s. An Art History major, she wrote cartoons for the Miscellany and served as editor of the yearbook in her senior year. “We wrote experimental comprehensives which seemed quite real at the time, and finally graduated,” Cleveland wrote on one page describing the senior experience, “which pleased our parents very much.” After graduating in 1937, Cleveland worked for a year in the Art Department and met Anderson, who had taken on work as the Art Librarian a few years after her own graduation. The two began to collaborate on comics together. Anderson and Cleveland received support from Marion Bacon ’22, who was the manager of the Vassar Cooperative Bookshop when it first opened on the second floor of Main Building on Jan. 17, 1923 (Bacon worked there until 1967; the Cooperative merged with the College’s bookstore in 1998). Anderson and Cleveland published Vassar (1938), Vassar: An Informal Study (1940) and Vassar: A Second Glance (1942) through the Bookshop under Bacon’s guidance. Vassar sold several thousand copies, and some of the duo’s work was published in Life and was reviewed in the New York Herald Tribune. Surprisingly for the time period, they also produced A Second Glance over a long-distance
separation—Anderson was still working at Vassar, and Cleveland was teaching courses at Rollins—and the book sold over 20,000 copies in just four years, which explains its many reprints. Anderson and Cleveland might have been drawn to one another not merely as fellow female cartoonists, but also because of their upbringings. Anderson, who passed away in November of 1994, was the daughter of a fourth-generation Presbyterian minister. There is not much recorded on her early life in her AAVC files. Anderson came to Vassar an English major: “I thought I was going to be the great American novelist,” she told the Springfield Union-News in July 1971. She had writing class with Mary McCarthy ’33, author of The Group, whom she described in the same interview as a “very acid critic” and “anti-deterrent” to her writing. “After she got through with my stories, there wasn’t anything left.” Her relationship with McCarthy inspired a cartoon depicting an angry-looking student with a manuscript in front of her and the caption, “Miss Abbott, would you care to reply to Miss McCarthy’s criticism of your story?” Surprisingly, though, Anderson blazed a path after graduation not directly in step with her undergraduate work and cartoon publications: she became a doctor. After working seven years as the College’s Art Librarian, she enrolled in the University of Illinois to study medical drawing, paying her way through with her profits from Vassar. She soon realized her interest was in the medicine, not the arts, and began medical school at age 33. In a document submitted to the Alumnae/i Association in the ’80s titled “Herewith summary of my very crazy career to date,” Anderson wrote of her new career choice, “The only thing hard was no pre-medical requisites (me an English major). Took them all at Barnard in one year. (Pure sweat).” Anderson went into obstetrics, and in the late ’50s and early ’60s helped start the Lamaze
Image from “Vassar: A Second Glance”
t is sometimes hard to find humor when you are at Vassar and consumed by your daily schedule: deadlines, meetings, dinners, concerts, athletic games, the list goes on. It can be difficult to squeeze in laughter—and I mean real laughter, the kind that makes your stomach ache and your breathing come up short—outside of a 20-minute 30 Rock episode or a Happily Ever Laughter show in the Shiva Theater. And it is also hard to find humor in Vassar life when, say, the endowment is shrinking and professors and staff are losing jobs. Yes, in these settings, I’d say it can indeed be hard to laugh—especially at ourselves. That’s why I’m happy that I looked down in the bookstore a few weeks ago, while waiting in line to buy a Starbucks Doubleshot in between a class and back-to-back meetings, and let a small yellow book catch my eye. I actually let a few people cut in front of me in line. I flipped it open, and I was laughing. The cover had a cartoon that looked like me, or like any of my girlfriends, splayed out in a Thompson Library easy chair with two open books at hand and a caffeinated beverage on the ground. “Vassar: A Second Glance,” read the title. By Anne Cleveland and Jean Anderson. I took a glance. It lasted a while. I was late to my meeting—but I was laughing at myself. The meeting I was missing was to talk about my thesis with my adviser, and just three pages into Cleveland and Anderson’s little book I had found a cartoon of a Vassar senior bent chaotically over books, cigarette ash and a typewriter on the floor of her dorm room. “Thesis” said the title, with the caption, “When we consider the integral relationships unquestionably inherent in such a frame of reference, it becomes apparent that certain basic characteristics, hitherto attributed by scholars to external influences, or assumed to have been superimposed at a later date, must, of necessity…” And seven pages later, as I lost track of time, a student explained to her friend in another frame, “She’s flunking out of her Narrative Writing course—she can’t remember anything about her childhood.” I giggled. I felt like an insider. It felt like these two women had written it about me. But of course they didn’t. The inside cover said the book had been originally published in 1942, and had reached its sixth reprinting by July of 1946. As I continued to flip, and to put off my thesis meeting, I noticed a few conspicuous generational divides. One image of a student on a public rotary phone, for example, had her telling her fiancé, “But darling, I can’t marry you on Thursday—I have an Art 105 slide quiz.” I know a lot of women who are taking or who have taken Art 105 at Vassar, but none of them have plans to marry next Thursday. After I had read the book—which I did standing in that same place without moving for about 15 minutes—I spoke to bookstore manager Cathy Black-Benson. She told me she had heard from the Alumnae/i Association that author Anne Cleveland ’37 had passed away in the spring of 2009, and that she wanted to give Vassar students a chance to buy one of her books. She didn’t know much about the other author, Jean Anderson ’33, and I really wanted to know more. How was it that two women who attended Vas-
method movement in Manhattan with a Dr. Heinz Luschinsky. She moved to Amherst, Mass. to begin a private practice and encountered the “usual resistance” to Lamaze from “local doctors belonging to knock-em-out and deliver with forceps school,” but worked tirelessly for ten years to fully implement the Lamaze method in the local hospitals. She told the Union that she would leave some of her old books in the waiting room at her practice in Amherst, and was always pleased to hear her younger patients were still able to “identify the humor” some 30 years later. On that rushed afternoon in the bookstore I found the humor too. I hastily bought the last book and hustled up the stairs to the Retreat to meet my adviser, still laughing at one of the last cartoons in the book (a senior dressed in robes and mortarboard and exiting the Chapel on the day of her graduation opens her diploma and exclaims, “Hell! It’s in Latin!”). I was 15 minutes late for my meeting and barely prepared, but that little yellow book had reminded me of a special skill I’d acquired in six and a half semesters at Vassar. I sat down at the table and, laughing inside, considered beginning with, “Well, when we consider the integral relationships unquestionably inherent in such a frame of reference…”
Gifts from alums enable renovations, despite recession DEVELOPMENT continued from page 5 the College has recently undertaken and completed several projects funded by restricted gifts. The Art Library, which was renovated over the course of the 2008-2009 academic year and completed this fall, is one of the most noticeable recent restricted gift-funded projects on campus. Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger explained where the funding for the renovation came from. “The recent renovation of the Art Library was funded by a gift made some years ago by an alumna for the support of the Art Department, the Art Library and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, for use at the discretion of the administration,” she wrote in an e-mailed statement. This fund did not entirely cover the cost of
the renovation, however. Art Librarian Thomas Hill explained that funding came from “at least three major gifts.” These were not recent gifts, but rather ones that were donated years ago and had been invested. The funds “accrued interest over…almost 20 years,” he said. According to Hill, renovations were a long time coming. “When I first interviewed here in 1986, I was told we were just about to renovate the Art Library,” he said. The funds that were eventually gathered from several restricted gifts were used to renovate the library’s interior, which, according to Hill, “hadn’t been changed much since 1937 except for some accruals such as sprinklers and really horrific fluorescent lighting.” Another noticeable project funded by gifts is the recent construction on Raymond Avenue. Buildings and Grounds Director of Fac-
ulty Housing and Special Projects Jeffrey Horst explained that most of the construction on Raymond Avenue itself was financed by the New York State Department of Transportation (DoT) through Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation. Although “the architects and engineers of the DoT listened to our thoughts,” the construction was “absolutely not” Vassar-funded, said Horst. However, Vassar did take the opportunity of the construction to make many improvements of their own to the area around the corner of Raymond and Collegeview Avenues; this improvement was funded by restricted gifts to the College. Horst said that Vassar’s construction project included removing several trees, planting 79 new ones, moving Juliet Gate—now renamed Bennett Gate in honor of the donor—a stone
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
wall, an emergency phone and several benches. “Gift money funded all of that,” Horst said. “There was no cost to Vassar’s operating budget,” said Horst. “I was the project manager; I was tasked with not going over budget.” To that end, several planned aspects of the beautification process were ultimately not carried out. “The stone wall along Collegeview was supposed to go all the way to Fairmont Ave, but we didn’t have the money, so it only goes 800 feet,” said Horst. “We’re pretty careful when it comes to budgeting,” assured Horst. “Sometimes things really go wrong [and] you have to, of course, appeal for more funding. But [the Raymond Avenue construction] was [paid for by] a gift and by Central Hudson,” As with other restricted gifts, he said, “There was no cost to the College.”
FEATURES Page 7 Five-course Thanksgiving dinner made easy and affordable November 19, 2009
Grocery List Celery Cranberries Potatoes Scallions Onions Parsnip 1/2 and 1/2 Carrots Brussels Sprouts Granny Smith Apple Yesterday’s Bread Vegetable Stock Turkey Breast
$1.69 $2.49 $2.25 $0.69 $0.42 $0.60 $0.99 $1.29 $1.97 $0.50 $1.99 $2.99 $7.07
Scout MacEachron for The Miscellany News
o ye of little faith, who think a five-dish Thanksgiving meal cannot be prepared in 90 minutes for $25, this week is for you. Because this is the last issue of our humble paper before Thanksgiving, I thought I’d try to give you all some great recipes to try—either to cook with friends or to bring home to your families. As you may have guessed, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year, as it has become a day that symbolizes the ways food can bring people together. The menu I choose is ambitious, so do not feel compelled to make it all in one session, but instead take the dishes that appeal to you most and give them a try. Cooking parts of a turkey—in this case the breast, but also wings and legs—is a great time saver when you don’t have five hours to spare to cook a 20-pound bird. I’m a big fan of mixing savory with sweet, and I love the brown crust that honey and balsamic vinegar give to the turkey. The recipe I provide for the mashed potatoes would not be found in a low-calorie or Weight Watchers cookbook, but you should feel free to substitute healthier ingredients in the same proportions. If you want to take issue with the calorie count of this meal, be my guest, but I promise, it could be worse (Paula Deen recently did an entire show on how to prepare a “deep-fried Thanksgiving.”) In recent weeks, I’ve tried to match the tasty with the wholesome, but that’s simply not the way I like to enjoy this special Thursday in November. The stuffing I made is a relatively bare-bones version; had I more dollars in the budget, I may have incorporated cornbread, sausage, pomegranate, sweet potatoes or other root vegetables. As is the case with every recipe—but especially this stuffing—treat it as a skeleton, a minor scale with which to improvise. And, of course, if you are cooking a full bird, be sure to give the stuffing its full due and stuff it inside the turkey, making sure to first cook any meat or other raw components. But I turn now to the Brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce, which I consider (surprisingly) to be the most interesting components of this meal, or at least the ones you should pay special attention to. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve had the following conversation with: Unbeliever: I hate Brussels sprouts. Me: Oh? Try these. (Un)believer: Oh, wow. I like these Brussels sprouts. Forget what you remember from your childhood. Brussels sprouts—when roasted, not steamed—are absolutely delicious (and super good for you), and this recipe will make a believer out of anyone. As for the cranberry sauce, you should make it because when you do, you’ll laugh at how simple it was, at how much better it tastes than the canned stuff, and you might even fall asleep ashamed by how long you’ve resisted making your own. As you may have noticed, I did stretch the budget to $25 this week, and I hope you’ll excuse me. Five dollars per person, for five dishes, for my favorite eating day of the year still seems like a pretty good deal. You’ll also notice that I relied a bit more heavily on my pantry this week (balsamic vinegar, honey, an orange, some leftover cheese), so I thought I’d at least give full disclosure, lest you compare my recipes to my shopping list and call me a cheat. And with that, happy turkey (or tofurkey).
Spice-Rubbed Turkey with Balsamic-Honey Glaze and Pan Gravy »» 1 boneless, skin-on turkey breast (approximately 2 lbs). »» 1 t. chili powder »» 1 t. garlic power »» 1 t. kosher salt »» 1 t. black pepper »» 1/2 t. cinnamon »» 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar »» 1/4 c. honey »» 2 T olive oil »» 2 T butter »» 2 T flour »» 3 c. vegetable, chicken, or turkey stock 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees 2. In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon (you can add any of your other favorites – cumin, nutmeg, curry – to the mix if you like).
3. On a clean surface, rub the spice mixture onto all sides of the turkey breast, trying to work it deep into the flesh. 4. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. 5. Cook the turkey, skin-side-down for 4-5 minutes, until it is golden brown. Turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. 6. In another small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and the honey. 7. Transfer the turkey breast to an oven safe dish, brush 1/4 of the glaze onto it, and finish cooking it in the oven. Depending on the thickness, it may take anywhere from 15-25 minutes to fully cook through. Because you will end up slicing the turkey breast, you needn’t worry about cutting into it to make sure its done. 8. Periodically – every five minutes or so – brush more of the glaze onto the turkey,
being sure to use it all. 9. Once the turkey is in the oven, pour 1/2 c. of the stock into the hot pan you cooked it in to deglaze it (un-stick all the tasty brown bits). Remove this liquid and set aside. 10. Melt the butter over low heat in the same pan and add the flour. When they are well combined and it becomes a light brown color (known as a roux), pour in the remaining stock and the reserved juices. 11. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and turn then turn the heat to low. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Congratulations – you’ve just made gravy. 12. When the turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it into thin pieces and serving.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
»» 3 lbs. Yukon Gold (yellow) Potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces »» 1 head garlic »» 1 T olive oil »» Salt and pepper to taste »» 3 T butter »» 1 c. 1/2 and 1/2 »» 3 T sour cream »» 2 T thinly sliced green onions
4. While the garlic is roasting, boil the potatoes until they are fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). Drain well and return to their pot. 5. When the garlic has cooled, you can easily remove out the roasted garlic from its skin by holding the base of the head and squeezing. Add all of the roasted garlic to the potatoes. 6. Pour in the butter, 1/2 and 1/2 and sour cream. With a potato masher or heavy spatula, mix the potatoes until they’ve reached the desire consistency (adjusting by adding more liquid if necessary). Add salt and taste. These potatoes may require more salt than you initially think. 7. Add the green onions and stir. Serve with the pan gravy from the turkey
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3. Add the carrots, parsnip and celery and sauté 5 minutes more. 4. Add the apple and sauté another minute. 5. Salt this mixture well, add the Italian seasoning and stir to combine. 6. Add the bread, stir well, and cook for another two minutes. 7. Add the stock and cook for another few minutes, until all the liquid has been soaked up by the bread. 8. Transfer the stuffing into a baking dish – roughly a 9x13 pan. 9. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Pour this over the stuffing in the pan and mix well. Top with the parmesan cheese, if you’d like. 10. Cook the stuffing, covered with foil, for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the foil, turn the heat to 375 degrees and cook for 10 minutes more. You can also broil the top at the very end if you prefer a crispier stuffing.
1. Cut the top off the head of garlic, exposing all of the individual cloves, but leaving the bottom in tact 2. Place the garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bundle the foil around it. 3. Roast the garlic for about 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Remove it and let cool.
Sourdough Apple Stuffing »» 1 loaf stale sourdough bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (5-6 cups of cut bread) »» 2 T olive oil »» 2 onions, chopped »» 2 cloves garlic, chopped »» 3 carrots, chopped »» 1 parsnip, chopped »» 4 stalks celery, chopped »» 1 granny smith apple, chopped »» 2 T Italian Seasoning »» 1 c. vegetable stock »» 2 eggs »» 1/2 c. milk »» 3 T parmesan cheese (optional) »» Salt and pepper to taste 1. Place the bread cubes onto a sheet tray and toast for 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until they just begin to crisp. 2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté 5-7 minutes, until they just begin to soften.
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2 lbs. brussel sprouts, halved lengthwise 1/4 c. olive oil 1 T garlic power 2 T salt 2 t. pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the halved Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, garlic powder, pepper and salt, being sure that it is all well-distributed. 3. Arrange the Brussels sprouts, cut side up, on a sheet tray. 4. Roast until they are golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes. If, for some reason, they do not brown but are cooked through, you can put the broiler on for about 30 seconds at the end of cooking. Note: These are also delicious with 2 T of balsamic vinegar mixed in.
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1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries 1 c. sugar 3/4 c. water 1 orange (optional—if you don’t use, change it to 1 c. water)
1. Zest (or grate on the smallest side of a grater) the skin of the orange into a bowl, being careful not to include the bitter, pithy white part. Squeeze the juice of the orange into the same bowl. 2. In a small saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar, water, and orange zest and juice to a boil. 3. Cook, stirring frequently until all of the berries burst (7-10 minutes). 4. Remove from heat and cool. The mixture will thicken significantly, once it cools.
November 19, 2009
Authentic Oaxacan cuisine only a shuttle-ride away Daniel Combs
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
oughkeepsie has one of the largest Oaxacan populations on the East Coast, and, unsurprisingly, the city boasts a virtual throng of authentic Mexican restaurants to choose from. On Main Street alone you can pass by enough dining locales to keep you busy for weeks. Driving towards the waterfront this was abundantly clear to me as I passed by Mole Mole, La Cabanita, Juquilita, El Gallito, Taco Gol—many of which I hadn’t realized existed until I stopped to actually read the signs on the street front. Tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries are scattered all around us, and with just a little bit of an adventurous culinary attitude, there is a lot of food to enjoy and to be surprised by. The El Bracero Mexican Restaurant is nestled on a street corner directly across from the Salvation Army on Main Street. Situated in a cozy, room-sized space, El Bracero is easy to pass by if you operate with the tunnel vision-like franticness that I normally find myself in when driving. If your appetite has you looking for it, however, you won’t overlook it, and once you step inside, you are greeted by an experience that can only be described as authentic. El Bracero is translated into English as “day laborer” or “migrant worker.” It’s a term often applied to Mexican immigrants that work in the United States, and in naming the restaurant accordingly, the owners are obviously catering towards a specific clientele. The men in cowboy hats, moustaches and construction boots lounging and chatting at the bar in El Bracero told me that this Oaxacan “family food” restaurant was no imposter. This was reinforced by the fact that our waitress’s command of the English language seemed to be limited to “hello,” “yes” and “you’re welcome.” But to fully dive into a culture’s cuisine you need to at least recognize and attempt to relate to the people for whom this is not cuisine, but simply food. And so, I have no qualms at all with a little language barrier when it comes to restaurant service. As I said before, all you need is a little bit of culinary gusto; you will be wonderfully surprised by the results. Think about the term “Mexican food.” What comes to mind for most people are burritos, tacos, quesadillas, maybe an enchilada and a bottle of Corona. The diverse and intense range of Mexican plate-based dishes is often underrepresented in the stereotypical vision of this country’s intense food culture. Chains like Taco Bell are no help. El Bracero, however, is here to remind us just how good Mexican food can be with a fork and knife. You won’t find a burrito section on the menu here. It is separated and divided as much as a diner menu. On one side is the breakfast fare,
which I didn’t get to try, but the options had my mouth watering all the same. The chilaquiles verdes and a host of chorizo-based dishes caught my eye. I can assure you that a breakfast at El Bracero is not far off for me. The lunch and dinner portions are catalogued according to the protein base of the dish. You have your bistec (steak) section, your pollo (chicken) section and your marisco (seafood) section, as well as the “Favoritas” section that gives you some of the more expected staples of Mexican cuisine. This local place is the real deal. I felt as if I was almost intruding on a family meal. That didn’t stop me, however, from enjoying a rigorous stuffing of my face with the heaps of food that I (true to nature) over-ordered. The tamarind juice that I ordered was gone in about 30 seconds, give or take—about enough time for our waitress to walk back into the kitchen to bring out some tortilla chips and salsa. The sweetness of ripe tamarind is, in my opinion, unmatched in flavor; it’s perfect for an afternoon juice drink. Never make the mistake, however, of eating a green one off the tree, if you happen to find yourself near a wild tamarind tree. When unripe, these things make a Warhead candy seem as tame as a banana. But back to the food. The tortilla chips and salsa—customary for the start of most Mexican meals, but not often of any real distinguishing mark—are worthy of comment here. Someone who has likely spent significant time pressing corn meal made the tortillas, integral to any Mexican meal, in-house. If you have ever tried to press a tortilla yourself, you’ll agree that it is not an easily finessed task, and only when it becomes second nature can you churn them out with the kind of quality that El Bracero achieves. By making them by hand they are nice and thick, and when cut and deep-fried they gain layers—in this case, beautiful layers of delicately textured flakey crunch. Everything you ever wanted in a tortilla chip is here—sturdy enough to maintain a heaping mound of salsa, but not so robust as to overwhelm the spice. Seeing as I’ve kept you waiting this long, I will finally spill the frijoles about what I actually ordered. First came the Enchiladas de Oaxaca, which were unlike any enchiladas I’ve ever had before. Instead of being filled with an assortment of salsa, beans and vegetables, the only contents in the tortillas were potatoes, which worked surprisingly well as a tasty filling. The three wraps were then smothered in a rich burgundy mole sauce. Mole is one of the most interesting and original aspects of Mexican cuisine, and has an infinite number of different manifestations. What defines a mole sauce is whether or not it is made with chocolate— normally of the rich, bitter and spicy Mexican
The El Bracero Mexican Resteraunt, located at 581 Main Street in Poughkeepsie, offers diners an authentic Oaxacan eating experience to students and local Hudson Valleyresidents. variety. This mole used small hints of chocolate without overpowering the overall taste, which lent it an intricate play between sweetness and bitterness. The sauce on my enchiladas had an undeniably complex flavor and one that takes a lot of time, and enchiladas, to fully appreciate. With the minimalist and elegant addition of generous portions of caramelized onion and queso fresco, this dish was absolutely delicious. I fully intend on trying to replicate the meal in my tiny Town House kitchen. I was already almost full, but I knew that I needed to experience more Oaxacan dishes, so I ordered the Camarón Aztecas—shrimp steeped in Azteca sauce, smothered in melted cheese and accompanied by a side of rice and beans and a platter of the tortillas that I had already come to know and love. Now, I don’t really know what Azteca sauce is; I doubt it can be found this tasty outside of El Bracero, and with the communication barrier there was no way I could ask, but I know that it is delicious. It was red and orange and tangy and spicy and had a tomato base; this sauce lent something delicious to the shrimp dish. The only problem was that this was my first meal of the day, and spicy sea-
Aid office accommodates Vassar families AID continued from page 1 “I know people who were not able to return to Vassar this fall, and it is my understanding that part of that choice was a decrease in their own financial aid package,” said Hannah Groch-Begley ’12. “In my own experience, I have found that the financial aid office was willing to work with my family in order to ensure I had the financial aid I needed.” Groch-Begley explained that over the summer, while speaking to other sophomores whose aid had been reduced, one rumor that arose was that the College had reduced financial aid for some students in order to meet the increased need of the freshman class. According to Groch-Begley, “Given little information about why aid packages changed, that seemed an obvious conclusion. It may have been that we didn’t understand that our aid packages would be so totally reconfigured on a yearly basis.” According to Director of Financial Aid Michael Fraher, the Financial Aid Office budgeted for a projected 1,383 students on financial aid this year. “Right now,” he explained, “we’re actually offering financial aid to 1,429 students. And we’ve met these students’ needs, 100 percent.” In a similar vein, there are over 100 students whose financial aid packages have been readjusted so that they could return to school, whereas two years ago, there were 32 such students. There are also more students than ever this year who are on financial aid for the first time in their Vassar careers. One member of the Class of 2010 described her family’s reaction to discovering that the school would
grant her financial aid this year even though she hadn’t previously needed it. “That this was taken care of so efficiently—it was such a relief for me and my mom,” she remarked. When asked about the number of students who could not return to Vassar because the school had refused to grant them financial aid, Fraher answered, “to my knowledge, there isn’t anybody that demonstrated financial need that had to drop out because we didn’t respond to that need. If [students’] new income information led to new eligibility for financial aid, we gave it to them.” According to Fraher, the administration is “absolutely, unequivocally not” placing pressure on his office to limit the number of students on financial aid. In fact, Fraher remarked, the school might not be in such financial straits were it not for its deliberately generous granting of aid. Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger weighed in: “Vassar was founded on the principle that a liberal arts education should be available to anyone who has the intellectual capacity and ambition to pursue it, even those groups who had historically been excluded from such an education. Our financial aid program, which allows any student to come to Vassar who has the ability to do the work, is a continuation of that founding principle, a principle of social justice.” For students like Watnik, this may be of little comfort, but Kitzinger hopes to dispell worrisome rumors and affirm that students currently receiving financial aid will continue to as long as their families demonstrate need.
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food smothered in cheese is harsh on a stomach that could still be processing alcohol consumed the night before. So a word to the hungover: I wouldn’t order the shrimp Aztecas at Saturday brunch, but otherwise, go for it; it is delicious, filling and fun to eat. My compatriot and fellow restaurateur ordered a steak quesadilla, so that we would have some insight into the quality of meat El Bracero offers. Although the meat was not the finest, the distinctive sauces and the soft tortilla helped the dish. We ended up drenching his food in the peppery house hot sauce. El Bracero does what it aims to do with apparent ease. You can enjoy dishes here that you couldn’t find anywhere else, unless perhaps you went to Oaxaca. This restaurant is authentic in every sense of the word, and it is cheap to boot. So if your weekend scrounging at Salvation Army works up an appetite for you as much as it does for me, dodge the cars across Main Street and fill up at El Bracero. El Bracero is located at 581 Main Street at the corner of Pershing Avenue. They are open every day, except Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and can be reached at 845-485-9679.
November 19, 2009
Rowing irreplacable for Vassar particpants: Morality of For many, crew defined the College experience video games in question I Matthew Razak Guest Columnist
was a rower for four years at Vassar, becoming a captain of the men’s team my senior year (2005). Before this, I rowed throughout my high school career, and before that I spent many weekends watching family friends row. After graduation, I coached a crew team in the Washington, D.C. area. I say all this to give you a background into how much rowing has meant to me over the course of my life, and to let you understand why treating the team the way the College has by suggesting that it be moved entirely away from Vassar to become a club sport under another name is immensely insulting to not only to the portion of my life spent at Vassar, but to my person as a whole. I learned more about how to deal with the world and live a good life from my time spent rowing than I did from any of my exceptional classes throughout my four years at Vassar. By moving the team to the Hudson River Rowing Association (HRRA), and thereby making it not a Vassar sport anymore, it feels like the College is negating my entire experience at Vassar. It is as if the College is taking the hours upon hours of dedication that I poured into something so immensely important to myself and so many others, and telling me it really wasn’t that important at all. That I wasted my time. That the friendships I made and the people I met thanks to rowing—including my fiancée—were no more important than someone else’s team getting new uniforms next year. I would have never believed that Vassar could make me feel like I wasn’t good enough, but upon reading of your actions this is exactly what happened. If Vassar’s rowing team is so easily dismissed, why did I pour so much of my time and love into it? Who am I to place value in something when it clearly has little value to the school I love? Of course, that is about me. But the people who are really affected are the current and future rowers whom you are robbing of the chance to be just as passionate and dedicated to the sport as my teammates and I were and still are. You are robbing them of the chance to make some of the greatest friends they will ever have. To learn the importance of teamwork, determination and dedication. I can partially understand the logic behind moving the team to HRRA since you didn’t discuss this with any rowers, but if you had, you would have learned that this move will rob the team of its heart and soul. I am in fact in full support of making the team a club sport again, much like it was before I came to Vassar, if it alleviates some horrendous monetary pressure the school is under, but handing it off to
HRRA to be combined with other college programs is undeniably a bad decision. As someone who has been around rowing for most of his life, I know that club organizations like this are, for the most part, less competitive, not as well-organized and often seen as a joke by other college teams whose schools support them. As for the reasoning behind cutting the rowing program, I must concede that it is an expensive sport, but it is an expensive sport that anyone who is involved with is willing to support. Were rowing alumnae/i contacted to help support it? I definitely was not. The team has been around for decades in its current form, yet no word was sent out to any of hundreds, if not thousands, of students Vassar rowing has touched throughout the years. During my senior year, the varsity men’s team supplied its own uniforms, something we did readily and willingly despite the fact that we did not need to. The love for this team is there, the money is also—whether that be to support the team as a varsity sport or a fully integrated, independent Vassar club. I cannot even begin to understand the other reasons behind cutting the team. I will skip over “the way that students are recruited to the sport,” because when I was at Vassar, this seemed to be essentially the same for every sport. However, the use of “the retention of those students over the course of their Vassar careers” as an argument for not keeping crew makes no sense to me. While any rower will tell you that the dropout rate for the sport for freshman is very high, those who do stay are some of the most dedicated athletes on campus (go out on the Hudson a week after it thaws for three hours every morning and tell me differently.) I will also be the first to point out that the men’s team was prohibitively small, but to even suggest that the women’s team, which has routinely brought back high honors from major regattas and repeatedly brought Vassar’s name into the spotlight, was anything but sizeable, dedicated and competitive is absolutely ludicrous. On top of this, the women’s crew team was the most close knit, independent, intelligent group of women I had the pleasure of knowing on campus. These are all values I would assume Matthew Vassar had in mind when founding the College, but a sport that teaches and exemplifies them seems to be getting shoved to the side. On the men’s side of things, you will never find a better group of athletes, competitors and friends than you will in a Vassar men’s boat. I can think of no worse fate than having that unity taken away from my boat by removing its Vassar identity. It breaks my heart thinking about it now
and would have destroyed me when I was rowing at Vassar. I challenge you to find a person on campus who speaks ill of the Vassar men’s crew team. I cannot help to also be disturbed by the way the entire situation was handled, with members of the rowing team only finding out what was going on after the fact. The Vassar I attended was a place where the opinions of the student body were appreciated to an extent that was unrivaled by almost any other campus I have ever heard about. It was one of the things that made Vassar so special, and here I am reading of that trait seemingly disappearing. What does it mean when an alumnus’ school acts in a way that he would never think the place he grew as a person would ever act? Is he still part of that school? Is the school still part of him? These are questions I wish I could block from my thoughts, but they keep creeping in. Why am I still a part of a school that is ripping my lineage out of it? What does it mean to be an alumnus of a college that isn’t your college anymore? I am not sure where to go from here. I could write thousands of more words explaining to you the wonders of rowing and the importance of having a team at Vassar. The calm serenity of the noise a shell makes when it is shoved off a dock in the dead silence of morning. The beauty of watching the sun rise over the Hudson from a perspective most people never get to see. The true power of eight (or four) rowers locking their blades in the water in perfect synchronization. The simple pleasure of watching your blade float on top of the water. The physical strain of pushing yourself to the limit for 2,000 meters. The glory of hearing your coxswain shout out that you’re walking on another boat. The simple and eternal majesty of the sport itself. The eternal bonds you make with your school and the pride you feel that you are able to represent it in a way you think is important. I could go on and on about these things and many more, but I know that all the words in the world couldn’t make a non-rower understand. So all I can do is beg and plead that the College will not move forward with its proposed plan. Not just for the sake of my ego, but for the sake of every student who comes to Vassar wishing to be a part of something that has been a college staple for hundreds of years. I know it is why I came to Vassar, I know it is why I loved Vassar and I know that Vassar will not be the same without rowing.
—Matthew Razak ’05 rowed in high school and throughout his four years at Vassar. During his senior year, he served as co-captain of the men’s team.
s it okay to play a video game that casts the player as a terrorist? To play a game that allows you to walk into a crowded public airport and riddle dozens of innocent civilians with bullets as they run and scream, trying to crawl away and kneel with hands raised above their heads. Such a scenario is playable in the recently released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which has made entertainment industry history, having sold about five million copies within the first 24 hours of its release. Before I continue, I would like first to clarify a few things. The mission in question is skip-able, though when the option comes up do so, it is not exactly of the “press ‘A’ to kill innocent civilians as a terrorist, press ‘B’ to skip” variety. Furthermore, I will say that if you do choose to play the mission, however unrealistic it may be, you can get away with not shooting a single person yourself—leaving all the dirty work to your virtual terrorist cronies. Lastly, your character is an undercover operative. Now, to be fair, Modern Warfare 2 is not the first game to allow you to kill innocents. The Grand Theft Auto games have long drawn fire from the media for allowing players to wreak havoc on a city and its populace, as well as forcing players into situations where they have to fight and kill police officers in order to make progress. However, the Modern Warfare scene differs from what we’ve seen in Grant Theft Auto games in two important ways—presentation and motivation. In the Grand Theft Auto games, you play from a third person perspective—in other words, you are controlling the actions of an on-screen persona. In Modern Warfare you play in first person, which puts you in the game more directly, because you are not acting on the game world through the medium of an avatar. Furthermore, because your vision is more limited than in third-person games, what you do see appears larger and in greater detail. This is important to make note of, because it means that the people you mow down in Modern Warfare 2 resemble real people far more than their Grand Theft See GAMING on page 12
Greek life will not threaten character of College W
e are writing this piece not to advocate the creation of a Greek system at Vassar, but rather to inform and open the minds of Vassar students to the notion that fraternities and sororities are not necessarily a detrimental presence on a college campus, especially if they preach respect for the individual. We will be the first to recognize and condemn certain fraternities and sororities for hazing. We would like to make it clear that we will never advocate hazing of any form in fraternities or sororities, especially not in any proposed Vassar chapters. We earnestly believe that any person pledging should be acting entirely out of his or her own volition. Furthermore, no person should be refused admission into a fraternity or sorority because he or she finds any part of the requirements morally questionable. At this point we think it is safe to conclude that there is not a single person at Vassar, all of us at the front of this list, who advocates hazing of any sort for admission into any organization or association. We are adamant believers that fraternities and sororities should never condone racism or discriminatory practices based on the sexual orientation, religion, financial standing or the physical characteristics of their members. We think that fraternities and sororities should be transparent in the values that they hold to be central to their organization. Furthermore, these values should not conflict with the respect for
diversity that most colleges, especially Vassar, claim to be proponents of. We believe that Vassar students are such high-caliber people that we can go beyond the horrid institutionalized discrimination that is normally associated with Greek life. Our hope is not that Vassar will become a traditional Greek school as they are typically perceived, but rather that Vassar students will abide by their commitment to diversity and respect for the individual. In the same vein, we hope that Vassar students will give the notion of fraternities and sororities a chance. Since Vassar is known to be a place where everyone is respected, we do not think it would be fair to disrespect members of the community simply for their participation in a fraternity or sorority. We are hopeful that Vassar students will maintain an open mind because what has been said recently has contradicted this. As a student responded to a comment posted in the anti-Greek Facebook group: “I guess it’s only okay to be different at Vassar if you’re different in the way everyone else is.” That is not the Vassar we all know and love. All we’re saying is that Vassar is known to be accepting of everything and everyone, and, recently, students have been killing that reputation with hate groups and personal attacks. Yes, we do understand that there are reasons not to have fraternities and sororities on campus, but these issues can be addressed in a more mature fashion. We think that Vassar students would
benefit more from a legitimate debate where students can learn about both sides of the issue. If more students actually listened to what we had to say, then they too would understand that we are not trying to cause problems or change Vassar in any way. When we engaged in mature discussions with students opposed to Greek life, many were able to see that we are simply trying to enhance the experience of Vassar students. With that said, we would like to turn our attention to why fraternities and sororities that practice respect for the individual can enhance the lives and college experiences of their members. We strongly believe that fraternities and sororities, when administered properly, help members form bonds stronger than the traditional bonds of friendship and increase the longevity of college friendships. We feel that this is something that is missing from students’ time at Vassar. In response to our pro-Greek life Facebook group, a surprisingly large group of students stated that they would like to have the opportunity to experience a form of Greek life that positively affects students and the community. Certainly a school that prides itself on diversity should at least give these students the ability to pursue such an experience. Fraternities and sororities will not just benefit individuals, but will also benefit the overall community. For example, the sorority Alpha Sigma Tau is well known for its participation in Habitat for Humanity. In addition, many other
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
well-known fraternities and sororities, including Alpha Phi Delta and Alpha Sigma Tau, pride themselves on the high academic standing and leadership skills of their members. In our opinion, all Vassar students are extremely intelligent, have leadership skills that go above and beyond most other college students, and are already involved in the local community; fraternities and sororities at Vassar will likely raise the standards to which Greek life is currently held. It is important to realize that having a Greek connection will help when it comes time to find jobs and internships. Indeed, 43 out of 50 CEOs of the nation’s largest corporations were members of a fraternity or sorority. Especially in these economic times, having an inside connection can assist in obtaining a job by setting one apart from other applicants. With colonies and chapters of each fraternity and sorority dispersed all around the globe, one is almost guaranteed to find a brother or sister who can help one find a position in one’s field of interest. All we are asking is for students to hear us out. We aren’t trying to have Greek life take over Vassar. Rather, we want to provide students with a new social outlet in the form of a brother or sisterhood where they can build bonds that go beyond college friendships. —Erman Agirnasli ’10, Kayla Contelmo ’12 and Salina Sabri ’12
November 19, 2009
Both Republicans and Democrats lack genuine leadership politician. The fact that Palin exhibited a relatable and empathetic spirit, a heightened understanding of middle class American life arah Palin’s memoir, Going Rogue, was released Nov. 17 to (an understanding that the aforementioned cookie cutter Repubmuch criticism, mockery and defamation. I will almost cer- lican does not possess in the slightest) and the ability to both be a tainly purchase a copy, read it and find it quite interesting; this, mother and a respectable politician both impressed and inspired however, will not change my viewpoint that she is detrimental me. I had high hopes that the Republican Party would embrace to the Republican Party’s image, and, more than that, only a cari- this new image and start a new era that completely departed from cature of the strong, respectable governor and mom I saw at her the neo-conservatism of the recent past. How wrong I was. Palin, as time went on, only reinforced the first speech at the Republican National Convention. Frankly, I feel that Palin is now a self-destructing starlet, the stereotype that a politician cannot also be down-to-earth and a likes of Lindsay Lohan—a train wreck that we all watch, fasci- “homey” mother. Her poll numbers have slipped significantly nated and laughing at their downward spiral. Resigning as gov- since she resigned as Governor of Alaska, and even more so after ernor, evidencing a hunger for media attention and releasing this a series of attempts to garner media interest that only showed off memoir all point to her decline as a potentially powerful political her weakest attributes and made her seem almost entirely artificial. The self-assured woman so many of us admired when she figure and her rise as the media fame-whore we love to hate. In my article last year, “Feminists shouldn’t overlook Palin as burst onto the political scene is all but a remnant of the past. Likewise, though to a lesser extent, President Barack Obama GOP powerhouse” (2.11.09), I defended Palin. Many of my points still stand: The Republican Party needs to put more people into has had a similar demise. The charming, “anti-DC-game” canthe forefront who are not the archetypical old, white, male, Ivy- didate with promises of progressive change has turned into a league educated, relatively emotionless and ruthless Republican president who has backtracked on his promises, alienated much of his base and resembled a politician more similar to a Clinton than someone removed from the powerplays of Washington, D.C. As my co-Editor Angela said in her article “Obama’s performance contrary to his campaign promises” (11.11.09), Obama’s decline as the Democrats’ messiah is quite evident. Angela correctly sites the fact that Obama “supported a public option during his campaign, here was a big poll that got a lot of buzz there is politics. And the most interesting and but this support has waned lately on the major news networks—the easily-digestible story is that of the comeback, throughout the legislative recent Gallup poll that shows that Republicans and especially one that takes down a powerprocess“ and his “feeble treathave apparently turned the tables on Demo- ful figure. This “fall from grace” is one of their ment of the fallen financial crats and are leading in the 2010 midterm race. favorite classic storylines. Remember Hillary “GOP makes gain in the Battle for Congress,” Clinton’s inevitability in the summer of 2007? CNN said. “Republicans Edge Ahead of Demo- She was supposed to be the Democratic nomicrats,” FOX News wrote. The Internet was nee—and then, following that, the first female abuzz and Democrats panicked; Republicans President! President Hillary Clinton—that was popped the corks. “If Democrats keep ignoring a story that people could get into. But along came the young, charismatic Senthe American people, their party’s going to be history in about a year,” Mike Spence, chair of ator Barack Obama. And after a small misstep the House Republican Conference said in re- by Clinton at a debate and a slight uptick in sponse to the new polling information. Time Obama’s poll numbers that may have been attributable to statistical randomness, the media to calm down, Mike. Granted, Gallup is a respectable organiza- smelled a new story. Suddenly the story was, tion, though FiveThirtyEight.com—the premier “Can Barack Obama take down Hillary Clinpolitical analysis site of the Internet pundit ton?” The media spent all of their time and era—does not rate it among the best pollsters. money promoting this story—until Obama But let’s give Gallup the benefit of the doubt took Clinton down in the Iowa Caucuses. here. They’ve had a history of being on top of Then, suddenly the media narrative became, their game when it comes to political polling. “Can Hillary Clinton come back?” The media likes an underdog, even if they’re So why am I discounting the results of this poll? Not only does it reflect a whopping four- just a bunch of teabaggers. They look for drama point lead for Republicans, but that lead is well where there is none, because portraying issues within the margin of error. That doesn’t mean as a cage match is the best way to get attention. the Republicans are going to smoke Democrats Hillary vs. Obama, Obama vs. McCain, Obama out of their caves and teabag them into the an- vs. Palin, Obama vs. Limbaugh—these are all nals of history. That means they’re tied. Inci- high profile duels, all of which involve the stadentally, the CNN article also mentioned, bur- tus quo and an opposition. The problem is, there is no coherent opposiied within paragraphs of text, that a similar poll that they conducted showed Democrats with a tion to the President, so the media has to make one up from the likes of Michelle Bachmann, six-point lead in the battle for Congress. So why would CNN not want to trumpet the Glenn Beck and their fanatical supporters who results of their own poll? The major news net- lack correct information or the logical faculties works are essentially useless. They’re not con- to process it. Now, of course, all opposition to Obama is cerned with giving facts or objectively telling you what’s happening in the political world. not based in nonsense. There are legitimate They want a story, and a story is what’s going concerns about overspending and growing size to get them money. Of course, some news net- of government. Unfortunately, that conversaworks will choose to follow certain stories over tion isn’t interesting. What is interesting is, others—FOX News’ preferred media narrative “Hey, look at all these pissed off people! There’s revolves around teabaggers. MSNBC tends to going to be a Nazi takeover of healthcare!” The focus on more liberal groups. I’m not sure what media shows the anger and shows the signs CNN’s specific focus is; I distinctly remember associating Barack Obama with Sept. 11 or the a front-page headline on their website that Holocaust and doesn’t question these associawas—I kid you not—“Woman finds squirrel in tions. It’s not interesting enough, and to quescleavage.” I’m not sure what CNN found more tion the teabaggers goes against their narrative. The Democrats are going to lose seats in the interesting about that story—the squirrels or the cleavage—but it was a story, and I clicked upcoming 2010 election, like the incumbent on it and read all about the woman who dis- party tends to do. But the Republicans are still covered a squirrel in her cleavage. The media not on the verge of a comeback. The media will loves a story. They’re really not concerned with continue to cherry-pick information to cobble facts; what they’re concerned about is selling together a story of a glorious conservative papers or advertisements by the click. When revival—not because they’re conservative, but there aren’t squirrels jumping out of cleavage, because you’ll click on the weblink. Kelly Shortridge
Media exaggerates chances of 2010 Republican comeback T
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
giants and his reluctance to reform the North American Free Trade Agreement” as evidence of his lackluster performance thus far. Obama has appeared more times on television so far this year than former President George W. Bush did in all eight years of his presidency. Granted, he was a media darling from the very start of his campaign for presidency, but his celebrity status has only increased in magnitude as time has gone on. Instead of focusing on tackling issues he was voted into office for, Obama has been weak on progressive issues, gone around the world apologizing for the United States’ dominance and tried to make the world fall in love with him on primetime TV. In fact, First Lady Michelle Obama said in a March 2009 interview with The New York Times that instead of her husband worrying about superficial things such as fashion he should “solve world hunger” and “get out of my closet.” Both Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s waning support is evidence of issues in both parties. The change that so many voters saw in both candidates has not come, and things are still pretty much the same. The Democrats still bicker amongst themselves and don’t get much done, and the Republicans still come across as narrow-minded and inflammatory. The DC-game very much still reigns supreme, and old, male curmudgeons still run the show. With so many people on both sides of the political spectrum alienated, my worry for the future is that when a leader who can actually deliver change instead of just promise it comes along, we, as voters, will be too alienated to appreciate or believe it. If another conservative female figure emerges, will we automatically brand her as a new Palin? Or if a progressive “outsider” takes the spotlight once more, will we view his words as empty as Obama’s have proven to be? The future of the Republican and Democratic parties is anything but clear, and our nation continues to be swallowed by exaggerated, fear-mongering media and the same-old, same-old packaged as something sparkly and new. I hope true change comes and authentic, fresh leadership emerges before it is too late to save ourselves from disaffection. —Kelly Shortridge ’12 is the Opinions Editor. This year, she and Opinions Editor Angela Aiuto ’11 are maintaining an alternating column in which they engage one another in conversation.
November 19, 2009
Letter: Film article flawed, criticisms still valid T
wo weeks ago, an article I wrote for The Miscellany News was published in the Arts section, entitled “Student filmmakers attempt to publicize projects, craft” (11.04.09). It was investigative in nature, and was meant to give an overview of the film program on campus and the organizations that represent student filmmakers. The article was also written to address the common perception that student film is not very visible on campus. The piece covered the efforts of the Vassar Filmmakers, the Film Department and the Office of College Relations to support student filmmakers and to mold their craft. As many people are aware, I have caught some flack for writing this article. A lot of flack, actually: I’ve gotten a number of e-mails and comments online, and now some Op-Eds have been written—all of which have called me out big time. The article has been called an attack piece on the Film Department, unfocused, un-researched and overall, a shoddy piece of journalism. Yikes. Well, as the author of the article I feel the strong need to address the criticisms made of the article. First of all, the article was called a biased attack piece due, in large part, to a section about issues film students had with production classes. I want to emphasize that this was never meant to be an attack. Not when I began my research, not when I submitted my article on production night, not ever. I had no underlying motivation to “take down the Film Department,” no passionate vendetta, no bias in the matter. That said, there is a reason why people labeled my article an attack piece. And I will be the first to admit that it suffered from two major flaws that would easily lead people to believe it to be slanted: unfortunate wording and a lack of focus, specifically with regards to the section on the Film Department. Here is a passage from the article: “the Film Department itself sometimes struggles to
garner recognition for students’ work.” I look back on this wording and cringe. “Struggle” is such an astringent term, and conveys many negative implications about the Department’s capability to market and publicize student film. There are other similar cases of caustic wording, all regrettable. I was not conscious of the words’ harshness when I wrote or submitted the article. If only I had been. There were also problems with the article’s focus. Critics of the piece said I exhibited bias by not giving the Department a chance to defend itself against allegations made about production classes. It’s true that with the exception of Professor of Film Ken Robinson, the voice of the Department was limited. The reason I didn’t give them more voice was that the article wasn’t originally supposed to address any Department-student disconnect in the first place. The original focus of this specific portion of the article was purely on films made by students, and the methods by which the Department molds and publicizes their craft. After I got so much negative feedback about production classes from student interviews, I decided it would be relevant to focus on their criticisms; however, this deviation meant that the Department ended up underrepresented. The addition of the criticisms was late in the article-writing process; again, I was not conscious of the imbalance I had created. The bottom line is that the article was flawed in composition, and these flaws turned the article into something it shouldn’t have been. I should have been more cognizant of these problems and should have amended them on the night of the paper’s production. I want to sincerely apologize to the Film Department and all individuals who were offended by the abrasive quality of the article. The implications the article carried are especially dangerous in light of the current financial crunch the College is in. I understand that the Department is no doubt making very difficult
sacrifices, and an “attack” on them currently is not something to be taken lightly. I also would like to apologize to Ken Robinson and Brian Paccione for some minor mistakes I made. Ken Robinson was listed as Chair of the Film Department; he is in fact a professor, while the Chair is Mia Mask. Brian Paccione’s short was said to be entitled “Heartlands;” it is in fact titled “Heartland.” These issues may be minor, but they are still unwarranted. Having said all of this, I want to make clear that the article’s subject material should not be totally discounted. The information I presented was tainted due to the way I presented it, but it is still legitimate. The article had so much potential had it not been for its aforementioned shortcomings. Some people have made the argument that there is no perception of non-transparency of student film; however, based on a wide array of sources I talked to, I have to conclude that such a perception exists. Moreover, the criticisms made of the production classes are also widespread. I only included two sources who voice the sentiment, but their voices represent a wide array of current film students and graduates who all agreed on the point when I talked to them. To clarify, I am not personally saying that I believe the Film Department is flawed or that student film is non-transparent. Rather, I have found these very legitimate feelings amongst the student body, and I do not believe I was wrong to include these sentiments in the article. Ultimately, I hope that this whole fiasco will be a point of departure for future discussions. And, of course, I have learned my lesson: I will double, nay, triple check my articles for such dangerous discrepancies in the future.
What’s your dream course to take at Vassar?
“Roman history. Cicero, Julius Caesar—all about that time period.”
Zander Mrlik ’13
“A step-dance course.”
Rebecca Rose ’11
—Erik Lorenzsonn ’10 is the Arts Editor for The Miscellany News. His letter is a reflection of his own opinions and not representative of the paper as a whole.
“A critic course— like criticizing food, films, etc”
Letter: Film article lacks objectivity, balance I
write in response to The Miscellany News article, “Student filmmakers attempt to publicize projects, craft” (11.5.09). It is disrespectful to the students of Vassar College who have read this piece to assume that they wouldn’t take into account its lack of objectivity and disregard for balanced journalism. Allow me, as a film alumna (who has, in my opinion, reaped incredible benefits as a result of this wonderful program) to fill in the blanks the article has created. I take great issue with the following statement from Lorenzsonn’s 11.5.09 article: “In contrast to College Relations, the Film Department itself sometimes struggles to garner recognition for students’ work. They do manage to attain some level of visibility for the projects of film students.”I would love to know the author’s definition of struggle. This struggle resulted in a Vassar grad’s senior documentary playing at Tribeca, one of the most prestigious American film festivals. I would consider myself lucky to have that struggle, as Kathleen Russell ’06 did with her documentary, The Common Sense Farm. I’m so glad Vassar has been struggling to garner recognition for my senior documentary, which to date has played at seven film festivals and won Best Student Documentary at the International Family Film Festival. And my documentary is barely a third as successful as other films from my year that have racked up awards on a national level. Vassar’s Film Department paid our entry fees and made all the festival entries, saving us hundreds of dollars and pushing our work into the festival world. I’d say that goes above and beyond “some level of visibility.” If Tribeca, Ivy Film Fest, International Family Film Fest, Connecticut Film Festival (which had an entire program of Vassar documentaries) and Coney Island Film Fest, just to name a few, illustrate a paltry effort on the part of the Department to get us exposure, I’d love to see what the author considers a success. Without the dedication of Screening Supervisor Geri Consenza and the others in her office, we couldn’t have afforded to have our films receive such wonderful exposure.
She does film students a wonderful service through the Film Department. In response to the criticisms made on curricular film at Vassar, I reach this point with great ambivalence. There is an argument that two years (versus four, as is available at New York University and other schools) of production hinders the development of filmmakers, putting us at a disadvantage in the cinematic community in terms of skills. Do I wish I could have taken four years of production at Vassar? Absolutely. Full disclosure: I spent my junior year semester abroad studying at a film school in Prague. But having seen an awful lot of student film over the past year as I’ve taken my own films to festivals, I have to say even junior filmmakers at Vassar knock the socks off the competition in terms of storytelling, performance and technique time and time again. The difference lies not in technical proficiency, which is hardly noticeable, but in storytelling. You can dolly in and out to your heart’s content at the School of Visual Arts, but when you’ve only taken film classes, the stories you’re able to tell are severely limited. The benefits of attending a liberal arts institution include a widened perspective that I’ve found leads to more captivating student films. When I was a sophomore, my advisor, Professor of Film Ken Robinson, looked at my schedule, which consisted of four film classes and Philosophy of the Arts, and told me that if I wanted to get into production, I needed to expand my academic pursuits so that I wasn’t limiting myself to making films about films in the style of other films. Otherwise, he said, I’d make boring, pretentious movies that only a film nerd could love. In 8 ½, Fellini’s masterpiece (that is, somehow, a successful film about filmmaking done right), Guido Anselmi says “I have nothing to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.” The advantage to a Vassar education is that through the liberal arts angle, it gives us something to say with our art. The production curriculum underwent a transformation over the past few years with the addition of several new classes and faculty. It’s still finding a foothold. However, I will
say that the dedication of the Film Department staff to the development of its students is unparalleled. In what other department do the students have their professors’ cell numbers in case a question comes up outside of the classroom? In what other department would a professor work with students to develop extracurricular projects for no further incentive than the betterment of that student as a filmmaker? To address the point about little to no instruction in production classes, I think the film faculty at Vassar have gone above and beyond in their dedication to cultivating talent, but in this cultivation comes the understanding that constructive criticism is meant to better the student (and as a very small minority of Vassar students have had professional production experience, everyone is still a student learning from a more experienced teacher.) Going back to the idea of a liberal arts education, we focused not so much on the how— technical production tips—as the why—editorial decisions, lighting techniques, the nuances of screenplays—to make effective, interesting and involving films. When we had questions, they were answered in a similar fashion—I wasn’t told that I should hang a light or make a cut in a certain place, I was asked whether that decision was creating the desired effect in my finished product. Our professors were on call at any time to discuss our work, well outside of class hours, to be certain our finished products were the best examples of what we could create...not for any prestige it would bring the College, but for our development as artists. I received an incredible film education at Vassar, one that has served me well professionally and in my personal filmmaking endeavors, thanks to the unbelievable dedication of the faculty and the opportunities afforded by their tutelage. Perhaps if Mr. Lorenzsonn had spoken with one of us in that majority, his article would have been better informed. —Caitlin Mae Burke ’08 served as the 200708 Film Department Intern during her time at Vassar.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Matthew Horton ’13
“A course where we watch ‘Sex and the City’ and analyze the characters.”
Melanie Russo ’10
“One with very little homework.”
Travis Hungreder ’13
Chris Mieminski ’10 — Angela Aiuto and Kelly Shortridge, Opinions Editors
November 19, 2009
Palin more celebrity than politician: Mission key to morality: interferes with interests of her own party Murder should not be goal David Wojciechowski
hen Sarah Palin announced she was resigning from her post as Governor of Alaska in early July, liberals across the country breathed a tentative sigh of relief. Her resignation speech was a convoluted train wreck that none but a psychic could determine the meaning behind, and it left many of us feeling that no sane person could ever support her—a woman who couldn’t name a single national news publication off the top of her head when prompted by Katie Couric—as a viable candidate for the Presidency. But with the upcoming release of her book, Going Rogue, Mrs. Palin has stumbled back into the limelight and set the stage for her resurgence into national politics. Regardless of whether or not she has a real shot at going anywhere with her career goals, this is a development that should make liberal and even moderate-minded people queasy. While this most recent election season saw very few nationally relevant races, Mrs. Palin’s involvement in the race in New York’s 23rd Congressional District sparked a nationwide fervor related to a district that, in all honesty, no one but the people living there usually care about. A traditionally conservative district, Republican nominee Deirdre Scozzafava was remarkably moderate, taking pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage stances—viewpoints that Sarah Palin found irreconcilable. She decided to endorse Doug Hoffman, the third-party candidate, who holds conservative social attitudes, and, coupled with a few other highprofile endorsements, forced Scozzafava to back out of the race. She subsequently endorsed the Democratic
candidate, who would go on to narrowly defeat Hoffman, a candidate who did not even live in the district he was attempting to represent. Without Sarah Palin’s interference in the race by supporting the more conservative, third-party candidate based solely on social issues, Scozzafava would have likely won the race and kept a seat in the House that has traditionally been held by a Republican. Not only did Palin do her own party a disservice and contribute to loss of what should have been a solidly Republican seat in the House, but she also alienated moderate members of the Republican party (and subsequently, moderates and independents everywhere). This cemented her position in the Republican party of antiquity, the one that wants to interfere with the personal lives of the people as the GOP sees fit, but cries foul if the government gets too involved with business; the same one that refuses to compromise with Democrats and opts to block their every move (seemingly just for the hell of it) rather than come up with useful solutions to our nation’s problems. Why was Sarah Palin even involved in the NY-23 race? How is her opinion relevant? Naturally, she has no relevance to the race and cares very little about upstate New Yorkers; it was a political stunt to make the populace focus on her once again, making it clear that Sarah Palin is becoming even more of a political celebrity than Barack Obama ever was. With a book in stores and a tour on the way, the ex-Vice Presidential candidate has been acting far more like a celebrity than an actual politician these days. Take, for example, her ongoing (but dwindling) feud with Levi Johnston, the 19-year-old
Alaskan who served as the father of Bristol Palin’s baby and, for the duration of the campaign, was her fiancé as well. Since the breakup of the couple in March, Johnston has made several disparaging comments about the former Alaskan governor regarding the state of her marriage and her capacity as a mother. While not delving into the truth of any of Johnston’s claims, it appears painfully obvious that the politically advisable course when leveled with criticism by a 19year old who is trying to make it as a opportunistic celebrity would be to ignore him completely. Alas, Palin decided against that and got involved in a feud and even went on to comment about it. This is all exciting celebrity news, but as far as political news, it makes it seem as though Palin is incapable of taking criticism with grace. Following President George W. Bush’s principle of never admitting fault, Sarah always tries to find a scapegoat for her problems. In this case it was easy: simply claim that Johnston is lying. Who would believe him when you used to govern an entire state? But when it comes to her disastrous performance in an interview with Katie Couric last fall, and the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election, it’s not so easy. In her new book, Palin purportedly blames Couric and the McCain for her own difficulties. Regardless of the accuracy of her claims, it speaks volumes about Palin—a stubborn, arrogant, power-hungry woman who clearly doesn’t possess the intelligence to lead a country, let alone write a concession speech that doesn’t make people ask one simple question: “What the hell?”
GAMING continued from page 11 Auto counterparts. The perspective and the close proximity of the airport environment allow you to come close enough to really see the faces of your virtual victims, which is a chilling thought. In terms of motivation, the Grand Theft Auto games, for all the ire that has been cast at them, have never set as the primary goal of any story-central mission (to my knowledge) the goal of killing innocents. In the Grand Theft Auto games, you would often have to do something illegal, which would prompt the police to come after you, and you would be forced to shoot some out of a need for self-preservation. (No innocents in the game actually stay dead—ambulances eventually come and revive them.) But the point of any mission was never to kill or harm cops, or innocent civilians, for that matter. In this scene in Modern Warfare, however, that’s all you’re there for. To shoot civilians. It is not collateral damage, or an unfortunate byproduct of your mission. It is your mission. Gamers have responded to this criticism in several ways. That you do not have to play the mission and that if you do, you can get away with not shooting anyone are both entirely valid points. That you are under cover, to me, is less valid—whether or not you are under cover, for if you engage in an act of terrorism, you are a terrorist. The only difference is motivation. But another argument that I’ve heard all too frequently is that “it’s just a game.” What defenders of the game are getting at here is that the event is not real, the people dying are not real, thus, no harm done. However, I feel this justification is problematic and needs to be put to the test. Would it be okay if a
game encouraged gamers to commit rape? What if the goal of a mission was to go up to a crib and pop a baby in the head? What about playing as a guard in a concentration camp? What about playing a serial killer? All these scenarios are incredibly disturbing to my mind, yet could they not all be justified by the “it’s just a game” mentality? The truth is, while the events being played out and the way virtual people are being affected by them in a game are not “real,” they do represent something real. Games, like all forms of art, are made in our image. Thus, while the innocent civilian that you shoot in the airport massacre scene is not real, he is a sort of echo of reality, of real victims of terrorist attacks. What sets gaming apart from all other mediums of entertainment is that you directly interact with the experience. You are acting, nay, living out a story in a virtual world, just as you are “playing” in the real one. This effect is enhanced, at least as far as presentation goes, in first-person games, where the persona through which you are affecting this virtual world is removed. What I would like to posit is that the same logic that may be used for media in which you experience the story or events as an outsider does not really hold for gaming. After all, I think we can all agree that there is a vast difference between reading Lolita and playing a game where you engage in pedophilia. I’m not proposing that we censor or ban games—I am a gamer myself and am still not entirely sure how exactly I feel about all this. But I do feel that this “it’s just a game” argument is flawed and only serves to muddle the debate about what is or is not acceptable in video games.
Crossword by Jonathan Garfinkel ACROSS 1. “NOW!”, for MD’s 5. Market booth 10. “Nova” airer 13. Brings aboard 15. Casual, indifferent 16. One in customer service, briefly 17. “Fame” star Cara 18. 8-Down, for example 19. El Dorado content 20. Tip of the spear, say 22. Bury 24. Sum 25. Metro North and Amtrak, briefly 26. Louvre worry, perhaps
29. Soulful James, and others 31. Fight for practice 32. Caps, maybe (abbr.) 33. Either of two “Ugly” characters, to Cinderella 37. Flat-topped mountain 40. A long, long time 41. “This parrot is ______! It has ceased to be!” 46. Contenders 49. Cashed in 51. Peanut butter cup producer 52. Big name in the Valley of the Kings
Answers to last week’s puzzle
53. 1040 ID’s 54. Explanations 59. Inscription on a cross 63. Bit of land in a lake 64. Form 67. Miley Cyrus, perhaps (unfortunately) 69. Humorous utterance 70. 40-Across component, to Juan 72. “Stop!”, to Blackbeard 73. One with a green thumb 75. Bathroom, briefly 76. Causes resentment 81. Low point 82. Nuptial utterance 83. A-Rod or Texeira 84. Words after “Ready!” 85. Bird sound 86. Some Ed.’s marks, perhaps 87. Henry VIII’s greatest desire
DOWN 1. Jewish mourning ritual 2. Diatribe 3. Philosopher Hannah ______ 4. Chinese leader Xiaoping (var.) 5. Camera type (abbr.) 6. Gratuity
7. From ___ Z 8. BA hub 9. “_____ be” (Lennon/ McCartney lyric) 10. For the time being 11. Lacking 12. Baseball and hockey 14. Big name in pointillism 15. Offer 18. M-16s and AKs 21. Rump 23. Sports association that didn’t play an ‘04’05 season 26. Classes for highachieving HS students 27. “I smell a ___” 28. Fashion 30. Peter and Nicholas 31. Cause for atonement 34. Dog, cat, or pirhana 35. Message from the Titanic 36. Caviar precursor 37. The briny deep, to Jacques 38. St. Louis-NYC dir. 39. Sault ___ Marie, MI 42. Untidy 43. Meditative noises 44. Stimpy’s pal 45. Actor Harris and others 47. ___ Lingus 48. Aspirin and Advil’s
class 49. Hie 50. Letter before theta 52. Oft-stubbed appendage 55. General with poultry 56. Sick 57. Exam for JD wannabes 58. Revolutionary War hero Allen, and others
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
59. Font modification 60. State name meaning “snowfall” in spanish 61. Swear again 62. ___ and outs 65. With “rest”, 22-across-ed 66. Junior naval officer’s rank 68. Macy Gray song 69. Santa’s repeated ut-
terances 71. Not these, to Pablo 73. Spelling competition 74. Scottish denials 77. Excellent credit rating 78. San Diego-LA dir. 79. Stone Mountain grp. 80. Rapidly gentrifying Manhattan ‘hood with many tenements
HUMOR & SATIRE
November 19, 2009
Spring pre-registration plan B: Hidden gems of the catalogue PSYCH-246: Dirty Minds
re-registration closes tomorrow; at this point, most of the popular classes are already full. Are you at risk of losing fulltime student status when you drop below 3.5 credits this semester? I’ve scoured the course catalogue to find classes that still have some room.
CLCS-173: Moral Outrage This course is an introduction to basic moral outrage and other forms of personally justified indignation. Topics covered include speaking loudly, use of misleading statistics and protest theory. (This course cross-lists with Economics and English.) Taught by a team of professors and students. MTWRF, everywhere, all the time.
ECON-339: Institutional Finance This course will focus on the hypothetical financial management of an institution of higher learning. Students will be asked to submit plans for handling a significant loss to this hypothetical endowment. If they have any particularly good ideas, well, honestly, we’re getting a little desperate. Visiting professor William Plapinger. M, 3:10 to 5:10 p.m.
As teens go through adolescence, they are exposed to cunning linguists who use certain vocabulary to make taboo topics come to the forefront. This long, hard class challenges students to wrap their heads around the psychology of sexual innuendo and get a good grasp on the subject. Students will learn the hard and fast rules of symbolic language and will work with multiple partners to master this stiff proposition. This course will please both students who want to penetrate deeply into the subject, and those with more fluid interests. TR, 3:10 to 4:25 p.m.
ITAL-382: Mid-16th Century Italian History A seminar focusing on the Treaty of CateauCambrésis, which recognized Habsburg Spain’s sovereignty over the Kingdom of Naples and the Duchy of Milan, ending the Habsburg-Valois War. The course will study a three—month period in 1559 and will be taught in the 16th century Neapolitan dialect. Turns out that tenured professors get to teach pretty much whatever they want. W, 12:00 to 2:45 p.m.
URBS-106: That Town On The Other Side Of All Those Restaurants, AMCL-164: Intro to Hipsterism You Know, The Ones Over By Joss, A study of the hipster culture and aesthetic, Sort Of? incorporating both historical perspectives and modern theory. Skinny jeans, plaid and irony will be examined in depth. The fetishization and appropriation of legitimate cultural movements, as well as the persistent quest for increasingly obscure bands, will be an important field work for this course, and students will be expected to spend time outside of class developing an air of ironic iconoclasm to present at the end of the semester. (This course requires a nominal supplemental fee for the purchase of cigarettes and Pabst Blue Ribbon.) Joss Parlor, RF, 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
This dynamic course takes students all the way past Sushi Village and into the Poughkeepsie community, where they can do good and make a real difference! This course surveys the creation of Poughkeepsie’s urban space—from its 19th century history as an industrial city, to today’s post-railroad, postIBM, post-stock-market-crash status as a location to which Vassar students point in a vain attempt not to seem isolated and aloof. Remember, they never caught the ButtToucher! TR, 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
VICT-300: Senior Thesis
Students are encouraged to take this class after completing DRAM-102, but while the post-traumatic stress episodes from “Hamletmachine” are still fresh. They are advised to take solace in the fact that eventually they’ll be seniors, and then they can propose a senior project to fulfill their lifelong dream of producing “Death of a Salesman” as a post-structuralist critique of the capitalist and hegemonic tooth fairy myth. MWF, 9:00 to 10:15 a.m.
If you’ve made it this far, we’ll see you back here teaching Victorian Studies in 20 years.
CLAS-180: Elementary Pig Latin This one-semester, intensive language study will introduce students to conversational Pig Latin. Students will learn basic grammar and vocabulary, with readings in classical prose and poetry. Orget-fay eclensions-day! MWF, 9:00 to 9:50 a.m.
DRAM-110: Intoduction to the Theory of Groveling
Cartoon by Liza Donnelly, Professor of Women’s Studies
Forgoing subtelty for sparkles Mitchell Gilburne
spent this weekend visiting a friend who attends Bucknell University to go to a Maroon 5 concert. I didn’t get to see too much of the school, or Maroon 5 for that matter (but that’s another story), but it was great to see my friend and have a change of pace from the chaotic Vassar humdrum. I know that seems like a gross oxymoron, but I think it’s true. Vassar is alive with activity. There’s the tables in the College Center, overflowing with tantalizing confections not-so-free for the taking, not to mention the churning whirl of the Ergs plowing along to the beat of tantric jams. There are lectures, performances, galleries and all the other sophisticated collegiate things that we’re supposed to be into, but only go to for the free wine. There’s a new protest every week, whether Cappy is taking a pay cut or PETA is saving the Womp-womps, it seems like there’s a constant rotation of work and parties that eventually starts to mush together into the same old thing every week, and, thus, you get humdrum out of chaos. Sounds like a creation myth, doesn’t it? My, oh my! Look how we’ve deviated. Back to the story, which I must confess isn’t as much of a story as it is only a vehicle for possibly the greatest one-liner I’ve ever heard in my life. So, I’m in Lewisberg, Pa. It’s cute. It’s no Poughkeepsie, but it’ll do. We park in town and mosey into what can only be described as a pack rat’s wet dream.
Weekly Calendar: 11/19 - 11/25 THURSDAY, 11/19
3 p.m. Tea. Discussion topic for this week: evidence suggesting that Lady Gaga has trouble maintaining healthy and productive relationships. (With liberal use of the semicolon.) Rose Parlor. 6 p.m. Feminist Alliance hosts “The Dinner Party.” Serving up bitterness, anti-masculinism, and hairy armpits since the 1974. College Center 237. 8:30 p.m. Wild Style: A Hip Hop Variety/Fashion Show. Where hip hop-oriented hipsters can go to show off their expensive “kicks.” Villard Room.
12 p.m. Campus Rights Dialogue. Or, why your beer got confiscated from your minifridge last weekend. College Center South Atrium. 3 p.m. Tea. Item one: I’m your biggest fan; I’ll follow you until you love me. Rose Parlor. 6 p.m. Basketball Tip-off Tournament. Last week was the highest scoring game for women’s basketball in the last decade—probably ever. For comparison: last week, the Quidditch team successfully “caught the snitch” by remov-
It was a sprawling dingy metropolis of various antiques and crafts that would make anyone’s grandmother weak in the knees. Now, antiques aren’t my thing, but I did come out of the ordeal with a fantastic purchase. Nestled in the corner of the Christmas knick-knacks station was a shrine dedicated to the women of the Red Hat Society. Among the broad red rims, purple flowers and other feathered accessories was one lone simple baseball cap. Of course, in order to catch my eye there had to be something special about this cap, and indeed there was. The brim was a rich purple, the rest a saucy red, and the whole damn thing was covered in sequins. Delicious. I placed it on my head, stomped over the register and with a grin on my face, contemplated my great fortune to come upon such a treasure. As I fidgeted in line, I played with the cap and invented a full host of ingenious ways it could be styled for any occasion. You could flip the brim for some hipster appeal, wear it backwards for street-cred or even off to the side to signify that you’re just that cool. I even concluded that it could be worn inside-out for a more subtle effect. Of course, each of these discoveries was vocalized and demonstrated for the sake of the entire market, and upon vocalizing the most demure way to don my gay apparel, the woman behind me in line leaned in, parted her sage lips and noted, “When you like sparkles, there’s no such thing as subtle.” And I’ll let that speak for itself.
by Kelly Stout
ing a tennis ball from the pants of a small, running man. Conclusion: athletic success abounds at this fine institution. Fitness Center Gym.
the region following the slow, painful death of the steel industry. Wait, what? Susan Stein Shiva Theater.
3 p.m. Tea. Item two: I’m in a bad romance. Rose Parlor.
7 p.m. “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay.” Gaiety and theater?!?!? Not at Vassar! Rose Parlor. 8 p.m. VCPUNX Audio Assault. And the award for most aptly titled event of the century goes to…the Mug. 10 p.m. “Classic Hollywood” Harvest Ball. Easily misread as “Classic Hollywood Harvest” Ball. Oooo-klahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the wavin’ wheat, it sure smells sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain! (Only farm-related old film I can think of.) UpCDC.
4 p.m. “Why Travel to Cuba?” Lecture. Because being Facebook friends with Fidel Castro isn’t enough. Rocky 200. 8 p.m. “The Full Monty.” A lighthearted, partiallydressed, musical comedy extravaganza about unemployment in the upstate New York and the poverty that befell
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5 p.m. The Female Orgasm Workshop. All heterosexual male-identifying people on this campus better go and take notes. Good notes. Bring a tape recorder if you have one. If you think the women on this campus are joking around, you better think again. Rocky 300.
3 p.m. Tea. Item three: Baby, when it’s love if it’s not rough, it isn’t fun. Rose Parlor. 5:30 p.m. Ecumenical Protestant “Free For All.” Just trying to live up to last year’s phenomenally successful Messianic Judaism Fun Run. Jade Parlor.
12 p.m. Linda Cross Exhibit: “The River.” Because the Hudson’s beauty has been underappreciated for generations and it’s high time we changed that. Palmer Gallery. 3 p.m. Tea. Item four: Just dance; it’ll be okay. Rose Parlor.
November 19, 2009
Behind the microphone: a night in the studio of WVKR Erik Lorenzsonn
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
ou’re listening to WVKR FM, 91.3 Poughkeepsie independent radio.” Tune into 91.3 FM on a transistor radio anywhere within a 100-mile radius around Poughkeepsie, or maybe go to wvkr.org and listen to a live stream. No matter the medium, this mantra will be repeated by DJs like clockwork when you listen to WVKR, Vassar College’s own radio station. The Federal Communications Commission tag has been used ever since WVKR’s creation in the spring of 1972 and its goal has remained steadfast: “To promote music not heard elsewhere and to serve the community interest through eclectic radio programming.” Today, WVKR provides an outlet for some very diverse music, with entire shows dedicated to such kooky genres as “math rock” and “twee pop.” It also features student radio talk shows on news, sports and culture. But there is more to the station than what can be heard on the airwaves. To get a glimpse at the inner workings of WVKR, I paid a visit to the station’s home on the third floor of the College Center on Monday evening to spend a night in the studio. WVKR’s studios and offices are just down the hall from The Miscellany News’ office. Whenever I’m doing a bit of editing, I often hear the chatter of DJs and staff outside of the room. But before my visit, I had never actually seen the inner sanctuary of the station. The most I had done was admire the door to the music office, plastered with an assortment of bands’ promotional stickers. It’s a fun game to try and find a recognizable name. But upon arriving at WVKR fully equipped with my laptop, notebook and cup of piping-hot coffee from the Retreat, I was soon to discover what was behind the sticker-smothered door. After a greeting by the station’s general manager Nick Marmet ’10, we took a look inside. When we entered, we found the two musical directors, Elodie Blakely ’12 and Darius Sabbaghzadeh ’10, sitting in chairs and typing with music lightly playing in the background. Marmet tells me that this is where the “music selection process” takes place; at a point later on in the evening, Blakely and Sabbaghzadeh elaborate. “There are
Associate Professor of Russian Studies Nikolai Firtich and WVKR General Manager Nick Marmet ’10 introduce the next song in a segment about the history of Russian rock ’n’ roll. a lot of promoters who just focus on college radio stations,” explained Sabbaghzadeh. “Their goal is just to send us music all the time.” Out of the 40 to 60 CDs and vinyls the station receives every week from promoters, the two musical directors are tasked with weeding out the best tracks. These are put on playlists sent to the station’s DJs for the airwaves. “We try not to play any pop music, none of the top 40 stuff you hear on the radio; just really interesting music,” said Sabbaghzadeh. “I just look for things that are out the ordinary,” said Blakely. “I look for things where I say ‘Oh, this is interesting,’ and not necessarily ‘Oh, this is good.’” The music office is a cozy little room with a few chairs, a computer and some posters. The rest of the room’s wall space was taken up by thousands of CDs and vinyls stuffed into shelves. Next on the tour was the vinyl room, which featured shelf after shelf of what seemed like tens of thousands of vinyl records. Then came the studio lounge, a spacious room with a couch, some easy chairs, a table littered with music posters and empty Retreat cups, a cute WVKR model bear in the corner and at least five more sizable shelves stuffed to the brim with music. This was pushing the boundaries of believability. And that wasn’t the half of it: The production and on-air
studios were both rife with compact discs covering a wide span of genres. “The meat of the collection is indie,” Marmet told me. “That’s what most people want to listen to. But we also have jazz, new age, hip-hop, REM, classical, world and a bunch of others.” There was a major ongoing project taking shape in a backroom: the digitization of the WVKR collection. In a small cramped room next to the lounge, Promotions Director Tiffanie Young ’12 and Production Director Sarah Scott ’12 were filling a machine with CDs. I’m told it can burn up to 150 CDs at once. How far along are they? “We started the process last year,” said Marmet. “So far, we’ve completed new age and hip-hop. The rest of the collection should take three years.” Marmet takes me into the production studio afterwards, where bands that have visited Vassar record sets for WVKR. Recently, lo-fi marquee names such as Grooms and tUnEYaRdS have recorded in the studio. “I’ll record half an hour of music, then half an hour of interview,” Marmet told me. “Then I just mix the two together to make a presentation.” Then, the time had come: on to the on-air studio. Marmet and I entered just as a thickly mustached, middleage man was on his way out. Before I know it, I’m formally introduced to Tom Zak and his wife Cindy. The
two are local radio legends honored a month ago by Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik for their 20th year on the airwaves. Their show, Polka Rascals, is on every Monday at 7 p.m. and has amassed popularity with Hudson Valley’s Polish population due to its two hours rife with polka music. “They are really popular,” said Marmet to me as the Zaks exited. “If you listen in on them, there’s a constant brrring, brrring! People always call with birthday shout-outs and stuff.” Marmet’s show was immediately after the Zaks.’ I sat on a stool as Marmet set up, plugging in turntables and his laptop into the motherboard, fiddling with knobs on the studio’s huge mixing board and adjusting the microphone. But the moment the final polka track of the night ended, he reached over to click something on his Macbook. Seamlessly, a reggae tune with a killer bassline smoothly rumbled from the gigantic speakers overhead, corresponding with what was actually playing on-air. Two tracks later, Marmet hit a button, lowers some sliders and suddenly the speakers are muted. Marmet leans over to speak into the mic. “Okay, you’re listening to WVKR FM, 93.1 Poughkeepsie independent radio. I’m DJ Nick, and this is ‘Boom Badda Bip.’” When Marmet was done with his spiel, a light went off on the far
side of the studio and the phones rang. We’ve got a caller! Marmet picked up the phone and pressed the button for the correct line: “Hello, this is WVKR!” The caller talked for quite a while, 10 minutes almost; a devoted listener? I ask Marmet when he finally hangs up the phone. “A very devoted listener,” says Marmet with a wry smile. “He’s in a prison, actually; Otisville, I think.” Another call was later fielded by Marmet, but after a moment he put the phone down with a sour face before turning to me. “We get a lot of prank calls,” he explained with a chuckle. As a Jamaican cover of The Beatles’ “Ob La Di Ob La Dah” boomed from Marmet’s turntable, Associate Professor of Russian Studies Nikolai Firtich strolled into the studio, CDs and vinyls in hand. He was the voice of expertise for the evening’s next show, “Mac ‘n’ Cheese Mortgage.” This week, Firtich was to give listeners the history of Russian rock. “The idea is to have a series of shows not just on Soviet rock,” Firtich told me, “But perhaps on the popular rock idiom in Eastern Europe in general.” The next hour would hold a taste of Firtich’s personal collection: “First, we will play some more contemporary things, then we will take a look back at history.” The hour kicked off with a Russian pop-punk band called B2. To me, it sounded like a combination of Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. Crazy stuff. The next show’s hosts entered an hour later: Blakely, one of the two Musical Directors, and...Esther Clowney ’12? The Miscellany News Reporter Esther Clowney? No way! It turns out that one of my star writers is also News Director for WVKR. We caught up on Miscellany business briefly as the two set up for their show, “High’s, -Fi’s, and Gazes.” As a band called Smog played, Blakely munched on a snickerdoodle dipped in coffee and told me about the humorous origins of the show. “I realized the day before I was supposed to interview for a show, I had no proposal, no idea what I wanted to do,” said Blakely as she and Clowney set up. “I walked into the room an hour late, Pikachu skirt on backwards, and was just like, ‘Blagh, I want a show.’” Blakely got the show despite it all, and it’s still going strong a year afSee WVKR on page 16
FMLA to present version of monumental feminist artwork Wally Fisher Reporter
either feminism nor celebration ought to be unfamiliar concepts to the Vassar community. Thus the only surprising part of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance’s interpretation of Judy Chicago’s famous artwork, “The Dinner Party,” should be the tradition’s relative newness on campus. For the third consecutive year, Vassar will exhibit its own version of the monumental art piece on Nov. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. in College Center 237. “The Dinner Party” is a large installation piece by feminist artist Judy Chicago. First exhibited in 1979, the piece is now part of the permanent collection in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Chicago’s installation consists of a large triangular table with 39 place settings reserved for notable women, both mythological and historical. Tiles representing 999 additional women compose the space encompassed by the table. Member of Feminist Alliance’s executive board, Claire Webb ’10, explained the symbolic nature behind Chicago’s work. “The art piece itself is also representative of a forum for women to sit and gather ideas. Everyone is looking at each other, and there’s a place for each woman to say her piece,” she said.
“It’s an event we do every year, have been doing for several years. It’s basically a celebration of the giants that feminists stand on,” described fellow Feminist Alliance executive board member, Irene Beauregard ’10. Feminist Alliance recreates the piece by designing plates and place settings in honor of women to whom they feel feminists owe a debt. Guests of the event will sit at the place of one of these women, intermingled with other members of the Vassar community. This setting truly embodies Webb’s belief that the artwork represents a forum, for participants will engage in dinner conversation at the actual recreation of Chicago’s piece itself. Webb and Beauregard called upon a professor they both knew, Assistant Professor of Classics Barbara Olsen, to present a lecture during the event. Olsen, also a member of the Women’s Studies Program, was eager to speak about the presence of classical women, fictional and real, in the original artwork. “Judy Chicago’s piece, ‘The Dinner Party,’ opens up with a series of place settings dedicated to fictionalized and real women of antiquity. So, they asked me to come in and speak to and about some of our impressions of women of the ancient world.” Professor Olsen will discuss Greek goddess Athena, poet Sappho and an un-
named widow in order to illustrate the complex and contradictory statuses of women in Ancient Greece; powerful goddesses and mythological heroines exist in a place where women were not allowed to be quite so forceful. This contradiction has ramifications beyond the academic world. They extend to the lives of modern-day women. Olsen said of the women in her speech, “These become narratives of resistance, narratives of what qualify as normal or normative gender roles. And the idea is often that gender is very static, but history shows that gender is often, historically, quite often in flux—that there have long been challenges made to traditional ideas of gender, that many of the gender ideals and intellectual ideals in Western culture about women have origins in Greece and Rome. And it’s interesting to look at one of the more restrictive societies in the ancient world; even there we see active, vigorous strategizing and resistance. Every moment where we see people, people are in active negotiations with their cultures.” Members of the Vassar community have much to gain from this event. The Feminist Alliance encourages many people, not just women’s studies majors, to attend. More than just a simple celebration, a dinner or fodder for thought, this typically well-attended event provides opportu-
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nity for charity. Though entrance is free, donations will be collected for the Silvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP). SRLP is a legal aid organization founded in 2002, named after a transgender activist. Its mission is to protect the often-ignored rights of transgendered individuals. In the past, donations have gone towards the Grace Smith House, a Poughkeepsie battered women’s shelter. No matter what charitable cause Feminist Alliance chooses, they try to embrace a strong community feel. In order to further this endeavor, they have included displays by New Paltz artist EZERD. “I feel [Feminist Alliance] this year is, I would say, trying to collaborate more than usual and trying to make it more of a diverse environment,” said Beauregard of the Alliance’s inspirations for inviting EZERD. Attendees will surround themselves with strong women throughout the ages. “Ordinary and extraordinary women come together to a place at this table, to bring them all together with the idea that there is a continuity of women in history,” said Olsen. She added, summing up the event quite nicely, “I don’t know who I’d want to sit next to most.” After all, there certainly won’t be a bad seat in the room.
November 19, 2009
Comedy to bring fresh perspective to student theater: Students to illustrate adolescent gaiety in 1920s setting Alexandra Sarrigeorgiou
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
hat happens when two young women experience freedom for the very first time? Prepare to be delighted by the mad escapades and shenanigans of Cornelia and Emily, as you find yourself sucked into the charming world of the 1920s. You will undoubtedly leave with your heart feeling younger and gayer—in the old-fashioned sense of the word. “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay” is a comedy of innocence, a whimsical story about two girls’ first adventures (and misadventures) abroad. The book, off of which the play is based, was published in 1942 and chronicles the trip that authors Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough made to Europe in the ’20s. The play, dramatized by Jean Kerr and now directed at Vassar by Violet Edelman ’12, will bring the naiveté and freshness of the book alive in the Rose Parlor, at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19, 20, 21 and 22. “It’s not a very well-known play,” said Edelman, “but I read the book when I was little, and I always loved it and kind of wanted to live the story.” Sure enough, she got to experience adventures parallel to those in the story while traveling with her friend over the summer. “I went abroad with one of my close friends and had a really wonderful time,” she explained. “When I got a hold of the play, I knew I had to do it.” Edelman directed a special event for Philaleitheis last semester and a directing workshop earlier this semester. She has always been heavily involved in theater, but this will be her first experience with a comedy. “I’ve never directed a comedy before, and I’ve never acted in one,” she said. For Edelman, however, it is its comedic value that makes
“Our Hearts Were Young and Gay” unique. “It’s very different than other stuff at Vassar,” Edelman explained, “because it’s very light-hearted and kind of escapist. It’s very much meant for entertainment.” Actress Liz London ’10 agreed. “It is very different from other plays I’ve been in or seen at Vassar, most of which have been heavy, somehow experimental or non-traditional,” she said. Actor Domino Gehred-O’Connell ’11 also shared the same opinion. “None of the other plays I’ve done here have been pure comedies, so this is a nice switch.” The light-heartedness of the play makes it a great pleasure for everyone involved. “I had no idea how funny the play is,” London explained. “That was a really exciting surprise during the first read-through when we all had to hold back laughter throughout.” It is likely the whole cast and crew are enjoying rehearsing and preparing the comedy as much as the audience will enjoy watching it. “Working with Violet, Lia [Dykstra ’12], Mariah [Minigan ’13] and the rest of the production team has been wonderful,” said Gehred-O’Connell. “Violet’s direction is clear and incisive. Also, the rest of the cast has been phenomenal to work with. Liz is a force onstage. Zach [Nanus ’13] and Benny [Witkovsky ’12] are a hilarious duo to watch. And the rest of the supporting cast is truly hysterical.” A production so buoyant and lively will undoubtedly be a breath of fresh air for performers and audience alike. “It’s so much fun, it’s been a really nice relief,” said Edelman. “It was very refreshing to do a more traditional play that still has so much character, craft and is an immense pleasure to work on,” agreed London.
Benny Witkovsky ’13 and Domino Gehred-O’Connell ’11 rehearse in the Rose Parlor for Jean Kerr’s “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay,” which is set to show on Nov. 19-22 at 7 p.m.
FWA to bare all with risque Hip-hop fashion show to flaunt musical comedy production broad styles and local music Esther Clowney
didas took off in the ’80s because of RunDMC. The gold clock of Flavor Flav is an icon of the ’90s. And where would shutter shades be without Kanye West? The getups of gangstas will be the focus of Thursday’s Hip-Hop 101 Fashion Show and Open Mic Night. This year, Hip-Hop 101 is collaborating with Contrast to combine elements of an open-mic night and a runway show. The event will feature the remarkably high level of community involvement that has come to typify Hip-Hop 101 events. Members of Contrast will be styling the runway show with clothes provided by Vassar students, employees and local designers. “We want to give an impression of hip-hop style through the ages, starting with the iconic, genre defining hip-hop movie Wild Style from 1982 and continuing to the present day,” said Hip-Hop 101’s co-President Jay Leff ’10. “Unlike other styles that are determined by the world’s top fashion designers and then disseminate down to the people, hip-hop style originated and continues to be changed by youth,” said Contrast President Rachel Gilmer ’10. Despite the constantly changing style of hiphop fashion, there are certain things that tend to remain the same. “In a lot of ways, [hip-hop fashion] has always been clean-cut,” said Leff. “There’s clear intention. Sloppiness isn’t part of the style.” Gilmer named Kriss Kross as among her favorite fashion pioneers. “They wore their clothes backwards, which is just crazy. Hip-hop fashion is all about pushing boundaries and doing the unexpected,” she said. Leff and Gilmer agreed that “fresh kicks” are a vital aspect of the culture. Security Officer Mike Wood, who moonlights as a fashion designer, is having his sons model some of his pieces. Kaza Waza, owner of City Footwear on Main Street, will also be exhibiting his designer work. A lot of clothes are being loaned out from the personal collection
of Hip-Hop 101 co-founder TC Weaver. “Hip-hop fashion was more about status than style, at least in the beginning,” said Weaver, who will perform at the event. “In the ’hood, nobody had money. You knew people by what they had before you knew their name. Like, ‘Oh, that’s the dude with the red Nikes.’ But now, hiphop style isn’t about what you wear, so much as how you wear it,” Weaver continued. Students from Poughkeepsie High School’s body-image awareness group Real Girls are helping to style and model the looks, and some of these same students will be reading their own slam poetry later in the night. Donations taken at the door will benefit the Hip-Hop Theater Company, an annual collaborative project between Vassar and Poughkeepsie High School in which college students advise high school and middle school students as they write and stage a hip-hop oriented play. The entertainment will be multifarious. As part of Hip-Hop Month, the night will include all four pillars of hip-hop culture: MC-ing, DJing, break-dancing and graffiti art. Vassar emcees Akil Noel ’11, Ade Raphael ’11 and Nii Yeboah ’11 will rap as a trio. Dj Curt KreZ and Dj Olmec will be spinning tunes. TC and Hip-Hop 101 co-President Emma Carmichael ’10 are rapping over live cello accompaniment. Axies, the Night Owls, Philaletheis and the Barefoot Monkeys will all be performing. Local rapper Cans is playing, and Skillz Methods, a trio of professional break-dancers (or “B-Boys,” short for “Break Boys”), will make the trip up from New York City. “Skillz Methods is a very well known and accomplished group,” Leff said. “Last year, one of the members competed in the break dance competition Lords of the Floor, which features B-Boys from all over the world.” Keeping the spotlight on visual aspects of hip-hop, people will be creating live graffiti art throughout the event, though in acrylic rather than spray paint due to the indoor location. Additionally, there will be free soul food: fried chicken, collared greens, and macaroni and cheese. I’m saying, “excellent.”
hat could be better than one naked man singing? Try six naked men singing. “The Full Monty” is a show that deals with struggles, insecurities and, of course, fullfrontal nudity. The title itself is British slang for being completely in the buff. But there are other reasons that the play hits home for so many. Fulfilling fantasies of many Vassar students, Future Waitstaff of America (FWA) will bare all this coming weekend with its production of the iconic musical. “The Full Monty,” an American adaptation of the 1997 British film of the same moniker, was written in 1999 by Terrence McNally with music and lyrics by David Yazbek. With its great score, wealth of energy and a humorous—and risqué—plot, “The Full Monty” has gained hallmark renown in its 10-year existence. Set in Buffalo, N.Y., the musical follows six unemployed steel workers as they lose their jobs in a period of economic downturn. “Low on money and job prospects, these six ‘average Buffalo men’ decide to strip at a local strip club to earn some quick cash,” wrote Diana Tordoff ’11, Director of FWA’s production of “The Fully Monty,” in an e-mailed statement. At the forefront of FWA’s decision to stage the musical this semester was the intrinsic connection between today’s economic climate and that which pervades the action of the play. “Another reason we chose this show is its timeliness,” wrote Tordoff. “This message rings more true now due to Vassar’s current employment issues and downsizing of their worker force.” Although at core a comedy, the musical simultaneously considers the heavier theme of body-image insecurities. “One of my favorite aspects of this show is that it reveals the insecurities, anxieties and body-image issues that the men have,” wrote Tordoff. “As the six leading men near the date of their stripping debut, we see them gradually become more and more fixated on their body issues—such as their weight, acne and ‘size’—as well as how they will be received by
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a crowd of rowdy women.” This show is not based solely on deep themes, however; memorable scenes, funny characters and musical finesse lighten the mood of this beloved classic. “‘The Full Monty’ is a jazzy, uplifting show. It does, as the poster suggests, contain nudity and stripping. There are adult themes in the show, so it may not be best to bring any small children,” said Tordoff. “Anyone who is looking for an entertaining evening full of shocking surprises, naked men and great music should come see ‘The Full Monty.’” FWA only produces one show a semester. The spring show is currently in its beginning stages. “There have been several show proposals, but the final show will not be voted on until the end of this semester,” wrote Tordoff. While the show hinges on six brave men willing to bare it all, the rest of the cast and crew are essential to the show’s success. “‘The Full Monty’ has a very large cast of 22 [students]” wrote Tordoff. “Our orchestra consists of 11 musicians. Rehearsals have been a riot, and every night the cast shares moments of uproarious, uncontrollable laughter. The production team is capable, encouraging and all-around fabulous. It’s my first venture into student theater, and the time commitment was a little unexpected,” wrote Matt Wheeler ’12, who plays one of the steel workers. “However, I don’t mind spending time with such an awesome cast, crew and production staff. We’ve definitely become like a family over the past few months.” As opening night approaches, the cast and crew are more than geared up to show off their hard work. “This show is very daring and quite hilarious. The show runs at about two-and-ahalf hours, but moves very quickly with its fast paced, witty dialogue and eclectic cast of characters,” wrote Tordoff. Tordoff added, watching from the director’s seat: “The music keeps you on your toes and will make you want to dance in your seat. And the show ends with a ‘big’ bang!” You can discover the bang yourself by attending one of five performances of “The Full Monty” at the Susan Stein Shiva Theater, on Nov. 19-22.
November 19, 2009
Tate’s passion for photography carries to other mediums Thea Ballard
Night in studio featured disco, lo-fi and reggae
As an art major, Mary Grace Tate ’10 experiments with many different mediums. She is particularly interested in working to combine aspects of photography, drawing and sculpture. for the people. It means so much, and it’s very important to take a camera in your own hands and document what you find weird or what you find beautiful. I think that’s the most exciting thing in the world.” Tate’s sources of inspiration are remarkably varied. She notes artists ranging from Caravaggio to Louise Bourgeois, speaking of both with equal passion. “I like weird shit,” said Tate. “Things that stand out to me, things that aren’t right there for everyone to see.” The ability to share this unique vision through an accessible medium like pho-
tography is part of what makes it special for her. “I think anyone can take a picture and make it look like what it is,” she stated, “but there’s still so much room for what makes it special or what makes a good photographer a good photographer, and I think that’s really exciting.” Tate prefers film to digital, using a variety of film cameras, one of which even belonged to her father when he was her age. When it comes to photography, she seems to enjoy the process as much as the product, and speaks tenderly of working with film. “I like having a physical negative you have to
VRDT Final Fall showings to pliés audience Rachael Borné
or many students, dancing has devolved into a sweaty and sexual affair at Matthew’s Mug. This activity requires just a bit of self-loathing and asks for very little in the way of skill, practice or choreography. But some dancing on campus does justice to the art of dance, like the jazz, modern dance and ballet practiced by the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre (VRDT). To showcase their talent, VRDT is performing their Final Fall Showings on Nov. 19-21 in the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater at 8 p.m. The performance will include both repertory pieces and student or faculty-choreographed pieces. Joey Army ’10, a member of VRDT, describes the performance as eclectic. “Every five to eight minutes you’ll see an entirely different piece with an entirely different vision and an entirely different movement style,” he said. “People aren’t going to get bored.” There will be 10 modern pieces, two jazz, one Irish step-dancing piece and two ballet pieces. Unbeknownst to many students, “repertory” is a key word for the ensemble. As Army explains, “Repertory dances are done by famous choreographers who have made a name for themselves in the dance world. We have to pay to do their dances. It’s like a copyright.” One repertory ballet piece the company will perform is “Valse-Fantaisie,” by famous 20thcentury choreographer George Balanchine. Dana Cass ’11, another member of VDRT, describes Balanchine’s piece as a “plotless ballet.” She says, “The movement is interesting enough to catch the audience’s attention, so it’s okay if they don’t know what the ballet is about.” VRDT dancers had the unique opportunity over October Break to stage the piece with Merrill Ashley, a well-known New York City Ballet dancer who trained under Balanchine’s direction. “Social Darwinism,” a jazz piece choreographed by Caitlyn Lamdin ’11 and Army, will bring a more familiar concept to the stage, as its name is a nod to Vassar’s dating scene. The dance is staged to “The Can Can” from Moulin
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WVKR continued from page 14 ter her interview. The show’s appeal stems from a strong base in indie music. It helps that the DJs are endearingly quirky too, with pseudonyms of “DJ Fancy Mechanic” and “DJ Legendary Ice Beast.” Great stuff. The show lasted for two hours, but it felt like it passed by in an instant thanks to the lively chatter. And, in a watermark moment, I recognized a song! One of my favorite songs, Joanna Newsom’s “Emily,” is played as a tribute to the meteor shower scheduled later in the night. By the time 1 a.m. rolled around, the caffeine had worn off. I was yawning and eye-rubbing something fierce, but thankfully there was only one more show that I had planned to sit in on. Up next was Belle Epoque, a show devoted to disco and beatoriented music, DJ-ed by Sabbaghzadeh. “There’s always a bit of catch with disco,” said Sabbaghzadeh as he set up his own mixing equipment. “I wouldn’t say it’s meaningless, but there’s no point to it besides having a good time. It’s both positive and negative. It’s an apathetic genre, but it’s also really fun.” A good portion of the hour I spent simply listening to the music while trying to take a chunk out of my homework. At one point, Sabbaghzadeh gave me some context for a track he was about to play. “In the mid-’80s, disco died in America and kinda survived in Europe,” he explained. “Thanks to the high price of American imports, there was this unique kind of disco called ‘italodisco.’ It’s more synthesized and more pop-oriented.” The track was one of the catchiest of the evening, and I hummed it under my breath on the cold walk back to Lathrop.
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ne photograph depicts an abstract-looking tree trunk in the dim evening light, strange and ethereal. The reflection of a utility cart is cast across a leaf-strewn puddle in another, the frameworks of the machinery mixing with light and dirt to produce something fascinating but difficult to place. A third shows a near-vacant swimming pool glittering turquoise under a bright sky. The tip of a foot barely peeks into the frame, the only distinguishable reminder of human life. Any look at the photographs of studio art major Mary Grace Tate ’10 gives a sense of the unique perspective embodied in her work. Tate has been interested in art for some time, but at first she wasn’t set on majoring in it. When she applied to Vassar, she said, “I submitted art to be looked at, but I never took art in high school, so I wasn’t used to being in a class. I knew I wanted to explore it; I just didn’t think I would major in it.” She initially thought she might focus on a subject like art history. Instead she found that her introductory drawing class, the first formal art class she had taken, to be more inspiring. Taking sculpture in her sophomore year further solidified her decision to pursue studio art. “That sort of blew my mind,” she said of the experience. “I realized how many possibilities there are and that studio art is the perfect thing for me to do.” Tate works with and enjoys a wide array of mediums, but her favorite is photography. “When I took photography,“ she said,” “my mind got blown again.” She explained, “It has a history of being very accessible, and I feel like it’s really by the people,
keep safe,” she said. “It’s like a treasure, and then you can print it.” Despite her proclivity for film, Tate isn’t one to shun the use of technology in her work. She describes scanning her film onto Photoshop for edits with an endearing, childlike kind of fascination: “Scanning film is great. You can zoom in on a screen and [see] every single little thing, and it’s beautiful.” But what of the connection between such seemingly different mediums as sculpture and photography? Tate speaks enthusiastically of both, and generally embraces a multi-media approach within her studies as an art major, noting that her senior project will likely combine many different approaches. “I think photography is a lot about framing- what you include, [and] don’t include,” she explained. “You have to think about that when you’re making sculpture. You’re making one thing that’s going to give the viewer the same sense of whatever you’re [trying to convey].” She continued, “You have to make choices a lot in art where it’s like, do you want to take a picture? Do you want to take a photograph? Do you want to use sculpture? How do you want the viewer to interact with your art?” After graduating, Tate plans on continuing to work with art, though she’s not entirely sure in what capacity. “I want to get my MFA in photography,” she said, “but I don’t know where. I’d like to intern with a photographer, move somewhere sunny, get a cat. I guess if I could make a living being an artist, that would make me the happiest little puppy in the pen.” Indeed, it’s clear that Tate is only at the beginning of her experiences with art. “I guess right now I’m trying to learn as much as I can. I know I’m not done learning.”
Micky Mahar ’12 and Nicole Krenitsky ’11 practice for VRDT’s Final Fall Showing. Showings will be held in the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater on Nov. 19 and 21 at 8 p.m. Rouge. “We were inspired by dating at Vassar and how it’s a lot like survival of the fittest,” explained Army. “It starts out comedic, but then it gets aggressive when people start clawing at each other. It’s very Mean Girls.” Army takes an interesting approach to choreography. “I like to experiment and come in with flexible counts and choreography,” he said. “If I choose something that I really like, but looks wretched on my dancers, I’m willing to change the steps.” John Meehan, Professor of Dance and Director of VRDT, choreographed the second ballet piece, “Mozart Variations.” He describes the piece as “an abstract work that reflects the simplicity and form of Mozart’s music.” As a dance professor, Meehan knows the difficulty in capturing a choreographer’s desired emotion. “In our daily ballet class I try to emphasize the joy inherent in dance as I teach,” he said. “I challenge dancers to perform the same phrase of movement with varying dynamics to develop a nuance and subtlety in the language
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with which they communicate.” Weeks of hard work have gone into preparing for the show. “I have class five days a week, and then I have point lessons. Plus there have been tons of outside rehearsals for the performance,” said Cass. “You sacrifice a lot of your free time. It’s a lot of pressure on your body and your mind, but in a good way,” she added. Both Army and Cass vouch for the camaraderie of the group. “There is not a sense of stereotypical cut-throat ballet,” said Cass. “We’re basically all trying to work towards the common goal to have a good show and enjoy the process,” she added. “The fun energy works better when it’s not phony. The audience can really pick up on that,” agrees Army. Meehan expects the performance to be an applause-getter. “The VRDT audiences that I have encountered are usually bussing with anticipation and quite uninhibited and vocal in their appreciation,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere for dance and really brings out the best in the young artists on stage.”
November 19, 2009
Third Planet gets ripped a new one in 2012 2012 Roland Emmerich [Columbia]
ew York City should be heaving a huge sigh of relief right now. Alien spaceships zapped the Empire State Building into oblivion in 1996, Godzilla went on a rampage in Times Square in 1998 and a freak snowstorm blanketed the Statue of Liberty up to her head in ice in 2002. Disaster movie mogul Roland Emmerich, the mastermind behind Independence Day, a popular Godzilla remake and The Day After Tomorrow, certainly has a violent fascination with Manhattan. But with his latest entry, 2012, there is nary a shot of the Big Apple to be found. Rest easy tonight, NYC. For those who are disappointed by the news, don’t worry: 2012 serves up a heaping platter of large-scale destruction that compensates for New York’s absence and then some. The White House gets totaled by an aircraft carrier propelled by a tsunami, Los Angeles burns and sinks into the ocean and Sistine Chapel collapses onto teeming crowds of panicked Catholics. That’s just scratching the surface of the devastation 2012 dishes out. This baby has a running time of two and a half hours too, which makes for a very long, noisy apocalyptic explosion-ridden adventure. What’s the cause of the world’s end this time around? A shift in tectonic plates. Yeah, not exactly as dynamic as a giant lizard, extraterrestrials or a global super-storm. But believe it or not, the shift is extreme enough to cause more damage than the other three disasters put together. The name of the movie, as most people probably know, refers to the popular idea that the Mayan Long Count calendar predicts the year 2012 as the end of the world
as we know it—the calendar actually records years well beyond 2012, so the idea is a little flawed. As the title portends, the movie begins with a shot of some crazy solar activity in the year 2010 heating up the Earth’s magma something awful. And before you know it, two years later earthquakes and volcanoes are wreaking havoc all across the States. In the middle of the fiasco is John Cusack, playing a failed novelist who takes it upon himself to save his estranged family when the shit hits the fan. Cusack does a serviceable job with the whole deadbeat-dad-turneddaring-hero cliché. The same can be said of Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson, who respectively take on the selfless-inspirational-president cliché and the crazy-conspiracytheorist-who-knew-all-along cliché. Oh, the inundation of clichés. It goes well beyond one-dimensional characters, too. There are moments when an agitated scientist studying an ominous looking chart says to their superior, “Sir, I think you need to see this.” Or my favorite, when daddy-o says “Stay here!” to his kid before rushing into a fracas, but of course the kid does not “stay there” and inevitably turns up to save daddy’s hide. All that’s missing is a red wire/blue wire scenario…which one to cut? With $65 million in the bank already, it’s pretty obvious that there are plenty of people who still pay to see this kind of thing, 15 years since the release of Independence Day. Maybe I’m just a wuss, but watching movies like this makes me uncomfortable. It just seems so incredibly sadistic to watch thousands upon thousands of people die repeatedly in over-the-top scenarios. It’s even more disconcerting when the movie disassociates itself from the destruction by using a lot of extreme long shots. We see hordes of people getting crushed, burning to death and drowning, but they’re all teeny in scale. It makes the
viewer feel like a 10-year-old destroying an anthill. It’s a thorough exercise in dehumanization about which I’m not sure how to feel. Sadistic as what they portray may be, the special effects in 2012 are great. Not entirely convincing, true, but realism is hard to achieve when you’re showing destruction on the scale Emmerich does. All of the shots have that weird sheen that movies supersaturated in CGI tend to have. And come on, is there any way you can actually show Los Angeles sinking into the Pacific and have it be realistic? But as problematic as 2012’s scope is, it’s also the movie’s best feature. Emmerich deserves huge props for pulling out all the stops and making a clear-cut epic. The movie embellishes the devastation of our planet with a gorgeous amount of detail. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of work that went into creating this movie. Do the scale and visuals redeem the shortcomings? Not really. If you’ve seen any of Emmerich’s other movies (or the likes of Deep Impact, Armageddon and Cloverfield) you know what you’ll get with 2012. Cusack and company will escape any given dilemma without a scratch, no matter how improbable it may seem. Enough dispensable side characters will be killed off to give emotional weight to the story. And you’d better believe that there will be an inspirational speech at the end that will motivate the survival of our species. It’s just too much of a cookiecutter for its own good. If you really are in the mood for truly “disastrous” scenarios, I personally recommend Gossip Girl. Dan, Vanessa and that girl played by Hillary Duff had a threesome? Uh-oh, it really is the end of the world, people.
[Death By Audio]
Ghana Special: Modern
Highlife Afro-Sounds And
Ghanaian Blues 1968-81
KING KHAN AND BBQ
[In The Red]
Hold It Close
The English Beat The Chance Theater Friday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m. $20 The Beat or The English Beat? Depending on whether you’re a Yank or a Brit you’ll have a different answer. When the band tours in America, they go by the latter, but that’s beside the point: this 2-tone band from across the pond rocks a reggae beat something awful. The group only has three albums to their name despite a 30-year-long career. The group, however, performs live often. They have played alongside the likes of The Police, David Bowie and The Clash. You can see them Friday alongside the perfectly capable openers Perfect Thyroid, The Closers and Bring Back the Melody. —Eirk Lorenzsonn, Arts Editor
Image Courtesy of Kelley Van Dilla
, M, B and C stand at the edge of a forgotten ocean in front of a towering, condemned structure, surrounded by the flotsam that has washed up on the diseased shore of their lives. Debris, neglect and decay are all present both onstage and in the heavy, bold words the characters fling at each other and the audience. This is what Vassar students experienced this weekend when they attended “Crave,” a play written by Sarah Kane and directed by Kathryn Kozlark ’11. Kane doesn’t hesitate to make audience members squirm with her intensely-focused writing and controversial subject material. Our four protagonists deal with rape, incest, pedophilia and insanity, all while struggling to communicate with one another. The play is challenging both to watch and perform because of its lack of linear structure and traditional dialogue. The four characters seem to float in and out of each other’s consciousness, creating confusing webs of action onstage. However, there are a few facts we know about each character and their relationship to the others. M, played by Andi Sharavsky ’11, is an older woman struggling with her need to have a child, while B, played by Luke Slattery ’13, doesn’t feel fit to be a father. M and B play out the course of their relationship onstage through hand gestures and dancelike movements. M leans on B for comfort one moment, and in the next we see B falling backwards into M’s waiting arms. Though we may not see the typical first date, first kiss or first fight, it is clear to the audience that they are in a relationship. Meanwhile, we watch A and C, played by Charlie O’Malley ’11 and Nicole Wood ’12, descend into madness and paranoia onstage. A holds back as an observer to all the action,
keeping his pain contained. C shows us the flip side of that, wringing her hands and contorting her body while she remembers a traumatic sexual experience with her grandfather. In a play where language itself breaks down as a means of communication, these actors held their own, speaking nonsensical lines with perfect diction and keeping cues tight. O’Malley impressed audience members with an achingly long monologue about relationships, delivered with emotion and poise. The scenery and effects of “Crave” were just as polished as the acting. An impressive wooden structure dominated the backdrop, with rough plywood walls and bare windows. The set designed by Jake Levitt ’12 created a virtual beach as the playing space. Actors interacted with real sand underneath their feet, transporting them from the traditional Shiva Theater to a deserted beach. Lighting and sound were used to expertly accentuate the action of the performance. Evan Roby’s ’10 intuitive lighting design employed the white fabric backdrop behind the wooden structure, which was aquamarine one minute and fire red the next—mimicking the sharp emotional twists and turns of the play’s dialogue. When the action came to a climax, fluorescent tube lights at the edge of the playing space came on simultaneously with a whooshing sound cue, creating the effect of slowing down time and freezing the moment. Sound design by Andrew Rovner ’13 included heartbeats, a dripping faucet and a limping music box that underscored the dramatic moments of the play. Set, sound and lights all came together to make a unified whole that added to the production in a big way. Coming in at just under an hour, the play packed a lot of subject matter into a tight package that audience members will be dis-
—Erik Lorenzsonn ’12 is writing a bi-weekly column on movies and their meanings. He is the Arts Editor.
Cast, crew rise to Crave’s nonsensical challenge Gabby Gottlieb
Luke Slattery ’13 played the character B in the play “Crave,” which was performed on Nov. 12 in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater. secting for a long time. “Crave” is a tough play to stage, but Kozlark took this challenge in stride. Nonplussed by a bare text with no stage directions or character bios, Kozlark took the project and made it her own. The Vassar students who saw “Crave” this past weekend not only saw an excellent play, but also witnessed an impressive example of Vassar’s rich student theater tradition.
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Michele Balan Bananas Comedy Club Friday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m. $12 Saturday Nov. 21, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. $15 Michele Balan was once a paid executive at a computer company, but she left it all behind to pursue comedy. Good call? Maybe not financially, but then again money can’t buy you love. Since her decision to be a funny-woman, she has headlined many major acts and appeared on the late night TV show Byron Allen’s Comics Unleashed. Tn 2004 was named one of the Top 10 comedians in American by Backstage Magazine, a publication devoted to underground comedy. And most impressively she is one of four finalists from season four from the NBC show Last Comic Standing. —E.L.
November 19, 2009
Spangler takes her cues from No gym, no courts, no fields, Hermes, has wings on her feet no excuses at Cooper Union A
Courtesy of Sports Information
Johanna Spangler ’12 led the women’s cross country team to a 12th place finish at the NCAA Regional meet on Nov. 14 in Geneseo, N.Y. She placed 21st out of 239 runners. Mitchell Gilburne
printing as if propelled by an otherworldly gust, Johanna Spangler ’12 soared into the first place position of the individual Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) 6,000 meter championship race a full four seconds ahead of the competition. This victory earned Spangler the Liberty League’s Performer of the Week award for the fourth time this season and an opportunity to compete at the NCAA Regional Championships, where she placed 21st out of 239 runners. Spangler adds these triumphs to her collection of earlier victories, including wins at the Vassar Invitational, the Stevens Invitational and the Seven Sisters Invitational during the Fall 2009 season. It’s clear that this girl can run. In our interview, Spangler confirmed all of these victories with a small nod and a bashful smile. “She’s too modest for her own good,” offered teammate Samantha Creath ’12. “She works harder than anyone I know, cares about what she does, and she’s a great role model for the team.” This statement was quickly confirmed after spending just a few minutes with Spangler as she graciously answered the more outlandish questions the reporter, yours truly, came up with. In response to one such question, Spangler aptly revealed that her favorite classical deity is none other than Hermes. It is not hard to imagine Spangler as the mythic embodiment of the spirit of the sprint, or a modern-day Atalanta, but with wings on her feet. The mystery remains as to how she manages such feats whilst confined to the mortal realm. When questioned about her pregame rituals and the thoughts that cross her mind as she races, Spangler confessed that the keys to cross country success are bagels and bananas in the greatest quantities possible. As for her thoughts, Spangler revealed that she switches between contemplations of strategy and lasersharp focus among the random babblings of the mind as she runs. “I really think a lot of random things. You’d be surprised,” Spangler added with a grin. Spangler entered the world of cross country during her junior year of high school. This late foray into the sport defined Spangler as a natural talent. Just two years later, the former recreational runner found herself in the star position of the Brewers amidst aspirations for her team to run all the way to Nationals. Spangler knows just how fulfilling a stint at Nationals can be. She remembers how exciting and fulfilling the experience was last year. “Honestly,” she recalled, “the best part was going and hanging out with the awesome coaches,” whom she praises to the high heavens, “and it was fun to get a little extra attention.” Spangler finished 91st out of 300 runners who came
together from around the country. Running has been a part of human life from the very beginning—whether fleeing a hungry saber-toothed tiger or chasing a herd of mammoths, the fastest runners were always the ones to earn their keep and their glory. Now, Spangler continues this tradition at Vassar, propelling the Brewers on a path of continued triumph and status as she relives the importance of survival (and success) of the fittest.
midst all the talk of athletic cuts—not only at Vassar, but across all NCAA athletic programs—it is surprising to think that no one has taken a second to look at the experiences of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The Cooper Union is a small, Manhattan-based college that offers classes in fine arts, architecture and engineering. Its claim to fame, apart from its academic stature, is its unique take on education. In accordance with the desires of its founder, Peter Cooper, the school is completely tuition-free, as each student is accepted solely based on merit and all are given a full scholarship. This unique model has been integral to the school’s success for over 150 years. However, the college’s successes have come with great sacrifices. Boasting no official Athletics Department, Cooper Union has nonetheless maintained its proud athletic history, competing as an independent school in Division III sports. It is unique in that its Athletics Department is, for the most part, run by students. Considering the way many schools are now arbitrarily and unfairly doing away with athletic teams, it serves almost as a ray of hope and an illustration of what is possible when students possess the right motivation. In order to control spending 26 years ago, Cooper Union decided to cut its Athletics Department and chose instead to focus its limited resources on academics. In doing so, the school axed a prominent department with a very rich and exciting history. The school’s basketball team, for example, received national attention, and the team’s coach was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Rather than see their athletic tradition
disappear, students at Cooper Union organized and coordinated with each other to maintain certain athletic teams. Today, Cooper Union boasts eight Division III varsity sports (in addition to step and ultimate frisbee) that are run by the students and the Associate Dean of Student Services Steve Baker. The New York Times even dubbed Baker the “one man Athletics Department.” Staying true to its athletic tradition, the Cooper Union Pioneers have excelled, with the men’s basketball team boasting an unbeaten season as recently as 2004-2005, going 18-0, and the cross country team last year winning the Baruch College Invitational. While the Pioneers might not have the best facilities, the best resources or even the fans that other schools possess, they do have an unquenchable desire to play the sports that they love, and sometimes that can be more than enough. When we think of all the athletic cuts we have experienced recently, the story of a school like Cooper Union can be both humbling and quite inspiring. A quote on the Cooper Union Athletics Department website states, “No gym, no courts, no fields, no pool, no horses, no time…no excuses.” It’s simple and direct, but, most importantly, it speaks to a very basic desire for us to pursue what we love, and as such it is truly encouraging. While athletic cuts may continue, we should take a break from complaining just for a moment and appreciate what we currently have and also remember why it is that, no matter what, we play the sports we so love. —Nik Trkulja ’11 is an economics and political science double major.
Both men’s, women’s basketball begin upcoming seasons with winning starts Andy Marmer
his year, the Brewers men’s and women’s basketball teams can be thought of as polar opposites. Just one starter from the men’s team returns this season under second-year head coach Del Harris. The women’s team, on the other hand, lost no players to graduation and added six freshmen along with new Head Coach Candice Brown. Both teams ended the 2008-2009 season with losing records and hope to capitalize on their growing potential. The biggest challenge facing the men’s team will be replacing four members of the Class of 2009, all of whom were starting players: Lenny Holt, Joey Davis, Brian Butterworth and AllLiberty League second team selection Matt Nunn. Three of these four players averaged double figures in points scored. Despite the significant hit the Brewers take in losing four exceptional players whose names are scattered throughout the Vassar record book, the loss may be a blessing in disguise for the Brewers. “This year we’re going to be able to play a little more how I want to play, which is an up-tempo style offensively and defensively,” said Harris. “Those seniors were great, but I think with the personnel we have now, we can play a little bit more to that type of style that I think is going to benefit our team.” Harris hopes that this mentality will take the team to a top four spot in the Liberty League by the end of the regular season. To fill the void, Vassar will look to both newcomers and returning players. The team will rely on sophomore Caleb McGraw, the Brewers’ one returning starter, to carry the load this season. Last year, he finished second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game. While McGraw may be the star of the team, there are certainly other players who will be right up there alongside him. Sophomore Nicholas Justiz brings tenacious defensive play
to the backcourt. Additionally, senior Casey Black, who missed a significant chunk of last season due to an torn ACL, is back and ready to step up for the Brewers’ guards. Sophomore forwards David de la Torre and Ethan Shanley each bring a year’s worth of experience to the front line, and they will be asked to step up along with junior center Christopher Whitney, one of the tallest players in the Liberty League. Additionally, freshmen Jonathan Herzog and John Donnelly will be asked to play significant minutes and could very well find themselves in the starting lineup in no time at all. On Nov. 15, the team put their coach’s new philosophy to work and picked up a win amidst a Brewers crowd in its first game of the season 78-66 over Endicott College at the Athletic and Fitness Center. In the win, McGraw showed just why he will be the Brewers’ go-to-guy this season, scoring a career-high 37 points. McGraw scored 12 of his 17 second-half points within an intense six-minute period that denied Endicott any chance of making a comeback. Donnelly and Black each added nine points for the Brewers. This weekend, Vassar will host Newbury College, Western Connecticut State University and no. 5 nationally-ranked Richard Stockton College in the Vassar tip-off tournament. The women’s team finds themselves in a very different situation than their male counterparts. With no seniors graduating, the squad was able to return much of their core, including Second Team All-Liberty League performer senior Emily Haeuser and All-Liberty League Honorable mention and co-Rookie of the Year selection sophomore Brittany Parks. The Brewers return their three main scorers from last season in Haeuser (14.4 points per game), Parks (14.3) and sophomore Kristyn Tempora (11.4). The team will heavily rely upon the aforementioned trio as well as a host of freshmen to bolster the Brewers’ performance. Vassar has gone 15-56 (3-39 in confer-
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ence) over the course of the last three years; however, the strength of the returning class as well as the six newcomers may be just enough to reverse that trend. Although the team has a solid core of players, they will still need to accustom themselves to the novelty of a new head coach. Head Coach Candice Brown came to Vassar this season from Manhattanville College where she played a key role in improving the women’s basketball program over the course of three seasons. Assistant Coach Melissa Kraft, who is also new to the Vassar Athletics Program, will accompany Brown on the sidelines. Strong coaching and team cohesion made for a healthy combination this past Sunday as the women’s team also got off to a great start after scoring 95 points in a season-opening win over Centenary College, last year’s leading scorer in Division III. Despite being down by eight points at the half, the team returned to the court after an invigorating half time pep talk that encouraged them to take the lead midway through the second half. Tempora scored 23 points for Vassar, while Parks added 20 to the total. On top of that, Haeuser contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds. Two freshmen scored in double figures for the Brewers—Victoria Chaltain scored 10 for Vassar, with classmate Olivia Westbrook-Gold adding 12. Chaltain joined Tempora, Parks, Haeuser and junior guard Carolyn Crampton in the starting lineup for the bout. With triple digit figures in sight, the women’s team is off to a great start. At the beginning of next semester, the team will begin their quest for Liberty League dominance as they face Clarkson University on the road. Both teams are prepared to set the tone for the season early in the fall so that they can secure a top spot in the Liberty League and advance to the League championships come second semester.
November 19, 2009
Crew hosts five-day ergathon to raise for club program: Rowing team set to exceed its fundraising goal of $10,000 Lillian Reuman
Image courtesy of Nicole Clarke
or 120 hours straight, the men’s and women’s rowing teams combined forces to dominate the College Center with their athletic pride, bass-pumping jams, neon polka-dot spandex and pumpkin-chocolate-chip baked goods. The teams took to the College Center after learning their team would be transitioned from a varsity sport to a club team last Thursday, Nov. 12. According to Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger, crew will transition to a club sport in an effort to control spending from the endowment. After receiving notice of the transition, Vassar rowers took action to raise funds for their teams and showcase their unique history. Members of rowing teams are no strangers to ergathons. Over the course of any given year, the teams hold periodic 24-hour ergathons in order to raise funds for programming. Last weekend, the team expanded upon this practice by multiplying their time commitment five-fold and using their space in the College Center to pay tribute to their history. Scott Sanford first introduced the rowing teams as an athletic program in 1983 and served as the teams’ first head coach. After many successful seasons, rowing became a varsity sport at Vassar in 1997. Medals, T-shirts, banners, team photos and other memorabilia adorned the series of tables that accompanied the two Concept II rowing machines. The teams hoped these exhibits would speak to their active engagement in both local and national competitions. Some of the mementos showcased nationwide recognition that the teams had garnered as a result of their performances at the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, New York State Championships, Head of the Charles, Head of the Fish and Head of the Mohawk regattas, among others. The athletes covered the floor and walls with personal quotes expressing what Vassar rowing means to them. “When we realized we were having a team meeting to discuss the future of the team, all of the team members sent in a blurb about what rowing means to them, so that we would be prepared to defend our sport” senior co-captain Caroline Jolley said. “Since we’re fairly isolated and don’t compete on campus, these quotes were a great way to show the community what rowing means to us,”
continued Jolley. The team also designed a giant thermometer to visibly show their fundraising efforts and encourage peers to help them reach their goal. Coxswain Jessica Panico ’10 coordinated the bake sale, and the team sold impressive baked goods—from your traditional sugar cookies with sprinkles to blondies with white chocolate chips. The sugar fix not only sustained those rowing at 3:30 a.m. each night, but showed students that the team was determined to react constructively on the news received the preceding week. Passersby frequently gave more than the suggested donation of $1. “The level of support from the student body has been reassuring for the team,” Jolley said. In addition to a grand total of $3,062 acquired from the bake sale, a $1,390 profit from spandex sales and small donations made from the Vassar community, each of the 35 rowers were asked to take responsibility for personally raising $200 towards the fundraising effort. As part of this effort, members were asked to find sponsors to pledge a certain amount for each meter they rowed. Alumnae/i and parents also made significant donations to the fundraising effort. By Tuesday, Nov. 17, individual rowers had compiled over $6,118. After all individual and community contributions are collected by the end of the week, the team expects to surpass their stated goal of $10,000. They project that a final count of $10,570 will have been raised for the future club team. The community support the team raised reaffirmed the student-athletes’ dedication to the team. “When I first heard that the Vassar administration had made a decision to cut the rowing team, I disliked the College for awhile,” senior Peter Muhn admitted. “However, after seeing the actions of other students, I realized the administration does not make up Vassar. The students make Vassar what it is, and the five-day ergathon made me love Vassar more. It reinforced my love for the sport.” Over the course of the 120 hours, the team collectively rowed over 950 miles—a distance greater than the trip from Vassar College to Savannah, Ga. While the rowing team hopes to complete more fundraising in the future, cocaptains and other members of the men’s and women’s team expressed the belief that the ergathon was an essential first step in preserving their teams’ commitment to athletics and community at Vassar.
Toni-Ann Summerville ’13 and Blake Seidel ’12 erg on Concept II rowing machines during the men and women’s crew team 120-hour ergathon, which ended on Monday, Nov. 16, at 12 p.m.
SCOREBOARD NOVEMBER 15 MEN’S FENCING VASSAR
NOVEMBER 15 WOMEN’S FENCING
NOVEMBER 15 WOMEN’S FENCING VASSAR
CITY OF VS COLLEGE NY
NOVEMBER 15 MEN’S FENCING VASSAR
Sports Briefs Women’s, men’s XC finish 12th, 16th respectively at NCAA Regionals This past weekend, the women’s cross country team placed five runners in the top 95 at the NCAA Regional Cross Country meet in Geneseo, N.Y. With a time that was only 10 seconds short of qualifying for the NCAA national meet, Johanna Spangler ’12 placed 22nd in the race. Seniors Alyssa Charney and Mera McGrew each made a lasting impression on the team in the final race of their careers by capturing the team’s third and fourth place finishes and landing among the top 100 finishers in the race. Liberty League rival St. Lawrence University claimed the first place spot. Improving by three spots from last year’s finish, the men’s cross country team came in 16th place at the NCAA Regional Cross Country meet this past weekend. The Brewers were the second Liberty League team to finish the 8,000 meter race. Freshman Samuel Wagner finished first for the Brewers with a time of 26:46.7, followed by junior Jonathan Erickson with a time of 26:55. —Lillian Reuman, Sports Editor
Courtesy of Sports Information
The men’s and women’s fencing teams hosted their annual Vassar Invitational in the Athletic and Fitness Center last Sunday, Nov. 15.
Fencing teams dominate Vassar Invitational After an exhausting day filled with matches against eight different teams, the women’s fencing team finished with a winning record of 5-3 in the Vassar Invitational held in the Athletic and Fitness Center. The team began with a win against Haverford College followed by a close loss to Queens College, a team that Vassar has the potential to beat in the future. From there, the team won their third and fourth matches before falling to Cornell (3-27) in the fifth round. After a loss by one during their sixth match against Stevens College, Vassar ended the day with two final wins to seal the deal. Junior Captain Sophie Courser finished with an impressive personal record of 17-1.
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The men’s fencing team defeated all five opponents at the Vassar Invitational and left the Walker Field House with an undefeated record at the end of the night. The team’s final win came in a narrow one-point victory against West Point Military Academy. Andrew Fischl ’11 and Jonathan Hirokawa ’10 both remained undefeated throughout all six rounds of competition. —L.R.
Men’s, women’s swimming and diving fall to RPI The men’s swimming and diving team fell to 1-1 for the season with a loss against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this past weekend in Troy, N.Y. Freshman Nicholas Veazie, however, blew the competition out of the water in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke races, placing first in both. Veazie also finished second in the 200 Butterfly. Jack Smart ’12 won the 100 and 200 Breaststroke in addition to placing second in the 200 IM. The women’s team fell to 1-1 despite junior Samantha Jones’ wins in the 100 Backstroke and 50 Freestyle accompanied by her second place finish in the 200 Backstroke. Last week’s Liberty League Rookie of the Week, Shannon Sara ’13, won the 200 Freestyle and placed second in the 100 Breaststroke. The teams will host Pace Univeristy and SUNY New Paltz this coming weekend.
Men’s squash erases Bard 9-0
Improving to 2-0 for the season, the men’s squash team defeated Bard College on the Kenyon Courts last Wednesday evening. Second seed Arjun Agarwala ’10 was the only Brewer to take his Bard opponent to five games. The rest of the men conquered Bard within four games, and those seeded fourth through ninth made a clean sweep within three games. —L.R.