The Miscellany News September 24, 2009
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Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CXLIII | Issue 3
Presidential candidates for 2013 vie for position Jillian Scharr News Editor
Molly Turpin/The Miscellany News
he Class of 2013 President will be announced tonight in the Retreat. Voting took place online starting Tuesday, Sept. 22, and continues until 9 p.m. tonight. One of the candidates, Clayton Masterman ’13 is memorable not for what he says, but how he says it. He was captain of his high school debate team and speaks without hesitation. “Our battle to extend library hours is on,” Masterman writes in his campaign statement. In an interview, he named the library hours, as well as transportation and increased interaction with Poughkeepsie, as his priorities, and also encouraged events to promote social interaction among Vassar students. “Some freshman are feeling homesick and out of place—together we’ll keep freshman morale up and make sure everyone feels at home in the Vassar family,” he says in his statement. Masterman has no previous experience with student council, though he said that “towards the end of high school, I wished I had. I wanted to get involved — and I see college as a chance to do it.” Having been senior class president in high school, Daniel Lempert ’13 sees involvement in student government as “natural.” Asked about building class community during the debate, Lempert said he “would initially try to throw a party in UpC,” then mentioned “a freshman pride day” and the revival of class colors. He placed the greatest emphasis on student organizations, calling the Vassar community an “eclectic group with a lot of chemistry.” During the debate he promised to “get creative” with finding ways to finance organizations without which the campus “would just be an abandoned, very pretty arboretum.” When asked for a final comment on his campaign, he replied with a modest but somewhat theatrical
sigh, “Guess I have to shamelessly plug myself.” After a pause, he said “my best strength is experience,” while acknowledging that student government is “[on] a different scale in college…I don’t know what to promise…but I like fixing things, doing things, seeing things realized.” “I’ve never done anything with student government,” said Patty Walton ’13 in an interview. “It occurred to me [to run] in the first couple of weeks at Vassar…I just kind of decided,” she said with a smile. “People will complain about things but never go and do something about it,” she observed, waving her hands emphatically. “I want to be vocal.” She discussed her fascination with college economics and finances, saying of Vassar, “there are so many interesting people, all of different backgrounds, different places—if we were not need-blind we’d lose a lot of what makes Vassar interesting.” “I’m a very approachable person,” Walton said during the debate. “It isn’t really to the president to decide, [but] to follow through on what the students want.” “Experience starts somewhere,” she concluded. “The goal of the freshman president is to ease assimilation into the Vassar community,” Eli BernsZieve ’13 said in an interview, and his campaign statement enumerates very specific means to that end: extended library hours, expansion of the VCash system among local businesses, better relations with the Security Department. He also spoke about activities to increase solidarity among the freshman class, explaining that interdorm events would foster “unity within the freshman class, then with the rest of the Vassar community, then from Vassar to the Poughkeepsie area.” See FRESHMAN on page 3
Chair of the Vassar College Board of Trustees William Plapinger ’74 and Chair of the Academics Committee Sally Gordon ’82 answer students’ questions at the Sept. 13 forum in the second floor of the Students’ Building.
Forums cause review of relationship between trustees and student body Ruby Cramer
Editor in Chief
n Sept. 9, at 10:02 p.m.—four days before this month’s Board of Trustees open forum—Thomas Clarke ’11 updated his Facebook status with the following: “Thomas Clarke needs some self-identified, smart, activisttype people to meet on Saturday to discuss ways to be prepared for the Board of Trustees meeting. They’re coming to tell us what’s what. Don’t let them patronize and lie to us.” “The status wasn’t entirely serious,” said Clarke, who explained that while he was mostly using a bit of sensationalism to “get Vassar students out of their chairs,” he was also addressing what he said was a strained relationship between the student body and the Vassar College Board of Trustees. “The relationship right now between the students and the Board is tense,” said Clarke. “I think a lot of it is
that the Board is only here a few times a year. Because of that distant relationship, there’s a natural tendency for students and other constituencies of the College to view them as these distant shadows that just move money and don’t see people. “They are normal people, and they are human beings,” he continued. “It’s just difficult to see them that way when they don’t come to campus that often, and when we do talk to them, they just tell us what’s what, and then they leave.” Anastasia Hardin ’10 echoed Clarke’s sentiments, explaining that when she went to the first Board of Trustees open forum—held in May 2009—she was disappointed to find the format less of a discussion and more of an informational meeting. “They were telling us about the decisions they had already made. I think now students are pushing for more than just information,” said Har-
din. “They want to be involved in the decision-making process. I know a lot of students that are somewhat disappointed with hearing lectures from the Trustees, rather than having a discussion with them.” “There should not be a speakerlistener dynamic,” said Clarke of the forums. “I think ideas need to be exchanged, and we need to bring people together into a group that’s not a semicircle, but a full circle. We need some sort of meeting where people are treated as equals.” At the Sept. 13 open forum, the two attending trustees—Chair of the Board William Plapinger ’74 and Chair of the Academic Committee Sally Gordon ’82—began with brief opening statements before transitioning to questions from the audience, which was compiled of about 40 students, including the entire Vassar Student See TRUSTEES on page 8
Grafitti exposes unexpected tension around all-female groups Chloe McConnell
Courtesy of Indecent Exposure
The Indecent Exposure audition sign-up sheet, which was posted inside Sanders Classroom, was defaced on Sept. 11 by an unidentified person.
Inside this issue
Local farm project increases student involvement
assar students who enroll in Women’s Studies classes or simply engage in conversations about the gender binary on campus quickly learn that gender debates are rife. The all-female comedy troupe Indecent Exposure, established in 2004 to encourage Vassar’s female students to get into comedy and stand-up, recently found themselves at the center of these discussions. During the Comedy Preview Show on Sept. 11, all of the Vassar comedy groups posted audition sign-up sheets in Sanders Classroom hoping that interested students in the audience would sign up to audition for the troupes they most enjoyed. To remind prospective members which group they were, Indecent Exposure printed an icon of a smiling face and a women’s gender symbol on their sheet. When the group collected their
Humor Page: Vassar worst-case scenario handbook
sheet at the end of the evening, they found that few new names were added. This was abnormal, as students sign up to audition every year and their preview show had been a success. Upon closer inspection, they saw that someone had penned the following in the margins, paired with an arrow pointing to the female gender symbol: “You enforce and legitimize gender binaries.” In Indecent Exposure’s first full meeting after the show, the group enjoyed their usual fun, high-energy and quirky atmosphere. The remark written on the sign-up sheet was, initially, at the back of the members’ minds. Joking with each other, sharing anecdotes and drawing strange diagrams on the blackboard was simply their natural way to interact. Once the group started discussing what had occurred, however, the significance of the quickly-scribbled phrase was undeniable.
“It’s just one of many instances where it is so difficult [to deal with] because it was anonymous, it was so small and it was clearly intended as some sort of joke,” Indecent Exposure President Molly Cahen ’10 said. “I’ve never felt weird about being in an all-female comedy group; it’s actually always been a source of pride,” troupe veteran Catie Tombs ’10 said. “I’ve never had that kind of reaction in the past. I was really freaked out by it and by my own response to it. I didn’t understand.” The group puzzled over why an anonymous person would vandalize their sign-up sheet, which was essentially their property. Had their preview show offended someone? Did their comedy skits support stereotypes? They felt the answer to both questions was no, so the group was left feeling shocked, self-conscious and confused. See EXPOSURE on page 6
Bard and RIT to join Vassar in Liberty League
The Miscellany News
September 24, 2009
Editor in Chief Ruby Cramer Senior Editors Caitlin Halasz Molly Turpin
Contributing Editors Patricia Cruz for The Miscellany News
Photo of the Week: Students stand in line for Grizzly Bear tickets. Tickets were distributed last week front of the Chapel to prevent the crowd from blocking egress in the College Center.
Staff Editorial | VSA Council commendable for reaching out, considering constituents’ opinions V
assar students often perceive the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Executive Board and other Council members as a body of decision-makers separate or at least sometimes isolated from the student body as a whole. Though technically every student is a member of this governing body, it would come as no surprise to the editors of the Miscellany if more than one student claimed that the members of the Council made decisions, passed resolutions and adopted changes to the VSA Constitution without first consulting or reaching out to the general student body. Regardless of whether or not this was true of years past, it certainly has not been the case in the first few sessions of this year’s VSA Council. House and class presidents have been invoking the opinions of constituents during Council meetings, and the Executive Board has been listening to Council’s concerns and using them to reshape proposals to best represent the abundant and varied feedback given to them. Above all, this year’s VSA Executive Board should be commended for the way in which they discuss proposals with the Council before bringing them to a vote. Three weeks ago, on Sept. 7, the Executive Board introduced a contentious proposal that would require VSA-certified organizations to obtain permission from the Council four weeks in advance in order go on participate in an off-campus event. The Council immediately expressed reservations with the proposal, claiming that to adopt it would be to overburden the handful of organizations that regularly go off campus, such as intramural sports teams. The underlying reasoning behind the proposal, however, was still sound: organizations traveling off campus represent the Vassar name and should be held accountable for inappropriate behavior. Since said discussion, this week, on Sept. 20, VSA Vice President for Activities Grober reintroduced the same proposal, but this time the bylaw did not contain any reference to organizations requiring permission from Council to go on overnight trips, as reported in an article on page 4 of this issue (“VSA adopts bylaws for off-campus events”). All it asked was that they sign the emergency contact form already mandated by the Dean of the Students, and stipulated that, should the organizations engage in inappropriate behavior while away, the Council exercise its punitive powers over the organization. This year’s Board listened to the Council’s—and by extension their constituents’—opinions and changed their stance on an issue accordingly. The Sept. 20 Council meeting provided an even more impressive glimpse into the new Board’s desire to receive input from the student body. VSA Vice President for Student Life Elizabeth Anderson ’11 introduced a system that would assign different point values to different offenses committed by students, such as drinking and vandalizing school property, the accumulation of which would then determine their level of punishment. Rather than pursuing a vote on the policy then and there, however, VSA
President Caitlin Ly ’10 told the Council that they were only to discuss this issue and that under no circumstances was it to come to a vote. What’s more, Ly suspended Roberts’ Rules of Order for the discussion, which typically force the members of Council to constrain their debate to a specific format. What resulted from this discussion was perhaps the purest case of the Executive Board working with the Council to devise a proposal agreeable to the student body. The meeting began with several House Presidents reading quotes from their constituents about what they thought of the proposal—a process that was seldom seen in last year’s Council. Ly spoke frankly with the Council halfway through the debate and admitted that House Advisors are currently being overworked and that this new system is designed to help them cope with their workload in addition to making the Security system more transparent to students. Although no one in the Council could agree on what exactly the points system should entail, when Ly asked for a “straw poll” to see how many Council Members wanted to go forward with some hybrid of a points system, all but five of the 24 Council members voted in the affirmative. From there, Ly asked Anderson to lead the effort in formulating a new points system proposal that would take everyone’s concerns into account and produce an outcome that would be desirable to all parties. From these last few weeks, it seems that students are being presented with a unique opportunity to affect the course of student government and by extension the College as a whole. This year’s VSA Council not only takes its constituents’ opinions into account when deciding on whether or not to pass legislation, they have also shown themselves to be willing to compromise on the actual content of the legislation itself, given enough student input. Therefore, it falls on students to get in touch with VSA representatives and provide personal feedback. This year’s Board is doing a commendable job, but students have to meet them half way. Democracy is alive at Vassar, so take advantage of it.
This year’s Board listened to the Council’s— and by extension their constituents’—opinions and changed their stance on an issue accordingly.
—The Staff Editorial reflects the opinion of at least two-thirds of the 19-member Editorial Board.
CORRECTION In the article, “Popular vocalist to sing mixture of modern and classical,” from the 9.17.09 issue of The Miscellany News, the editors mistakenly named Assistant Professor of Music Christine Howlett as the Choir Libarian, when she is actually the Director of Choral Activities. The staff of the Miscellany also referred to Howlett as “Christie” in the caption for the article’s accompanying photograph. The editors apologize for the errors.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Chloe McConnell Elizabeth Pacheco
News Matthew Brock Jillian Scharr Opinions Angela Aiuto Kelly Shortridge Features Emma Carmichael Kelly Stout Arts Erik Lorenzsonn Sports Lillian Reuman Design Eric Estes Online Elizabeth Jordan Copy Lila Teeters Photography Kathleen Mehocic Managing Eliza Hartley Assistant Arts Carrie Hojnicki Assistant Photo Juliana Halpert Assistant Copy Katharine Austin Katie Cornish Sarah Marco Columnists Martin Bergman
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 or submit it online at miscellanynews.com.
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September 24, 2009
Candidates share goals for class, future of the College speaking,” Lutz said before the debate, explaining that he has experience with theater, student government and mock trial. “You’ve got to kiss ass a little bit—if you can print that, go right ahead—but it’s a matter of staying faithful,” he said with a mix of deadpan humor and confidence. “The main point I’m trying to make is, if we want something in terms of money, we need to take initiative—to reach out and grab it,” he said. “I wish to impress upon you the gravity with which I approach this office,” wrote Joshua Rosen ’13 in his campaign statement. Rosen has experience with both student government and political campaigns, and also wrote for his high school paper. He named freshman class programming as one of his focuses: firstly, to “modify orientation so it starts to integrate freshmen into the community, involving more social justice and sustainable resource usage on campus,” and secondly a “review of freshman writing seminars,” saying that he has heard complaints on this subject from some of his potential constituents. “I pledge to be an assiduous advocate for the interests of our class, for we are all equal partners in shaping the future of our lives as Vassar students,” he wrote. Sharon Onga ’13 purposely did not post a statement on the VSA website, nor did she campaign in any way. During the debate, by virtue of sitting on the end of the row of candidates, she gave her opening statement first, half-facing the audience, half-facing her fellow presidential hopefuls. “I’m here to make sure that the person we do elect is the right person for the job. I did not post a statement because it’s more than just experience. It’s about weeding out the weak linKs and making sure the winner is going to represent 2013.” Afterwards, Onga explained to The Miscellany News that “I get very aggravated by the fact that people don’t take [school elections] seriously. I wanted to make sure that certain
Jared Saunders/The Miscellany News
FRESHMAN continued from page 1 In high school, Berns-Zieve said, he organized “debate parties,” and, though self-described as liberal and a current member of the Vassar Democrats, he “joined [his high school’s] Young Republicans’ club to find opposing viewpoints.” With regard to Vassar’s budget cuts, BernsZieve urges the campus to “remain flexible... one thing they’ll never be able to take away from us is the beauty of campus.” Ocasio Willson ’13 began his address at the debate by calling out “Where’s my freshman class at?” “It is my job to find a broad vision, then come to you and say ‘fill in the blanks,’” he said in his calm voice. Willson was president of his high school Key Club, and founder of the “Student Association of Finance,” an organization of which he is still de facto leader. He explained its purpose as “[increasing] financial literacy, developing entrepreneurship, [and] more business-minded folks. That’s how we’re going to be able to give back.” He hopes to involve Vassar in the network he has begun to create. Although willing to discuss at length issues such as class community and assimilation into the Vassar “social dynamic,” Willson declined to name specifics of his platform, insisting, “I don’t know the issues here at Vassar—I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I do. You tell me what I can fight for.” “Let’s face it: Money’s tight,” begins the campaign statement of Bob Lutz ’13. “It’s well and good to want to tackle that, but I want to take things on a smaller scale,” Lutz said in an interview, suggesting that the freshman class president focus on “redistributing funds that are available…dealing with funds we do have, [and] making the best out of those.” Fundraisers, he said at the debate, are “an absolute must.” He also spoke in favor of the opportunities for class community-building that have continued since orientation. “We need to have more events like capture-the-flag that don’t cost any money.”“I really enjoy public
Daniel Lempert ’13 addresses the audience in the second floor of the Students’ Building at the Class of 2013 Presidential Debates, held on Sept. 21, one day prior to the start of voting. points do get across, that Vassar students do get to speak.” As of Sept. 22, however, Onga posted a campaign statement, citing increased involvement with Poughkeepsie, a revamped bus system and various forms of student expression as among her top priorities. “Because of the recession, the job [of class president] suddenly has more importance than it ever has,” said Matthew Kramer ’13. “But money is not really what makes a great class…there’s a lot that can be done without money.” He mentioned various possibilities, such as “getting the whole grade to go to a rugby game, going to the farm to plant trees…[or an] awesome game of manhunt.” Sustainability was one point which Kramer
reiterated. “We’re green, but we could be greener,” he observed. “One way to improve the election process would be to not allow posters in general…it’s wasteful.” “I’m worried I’m a little behind on the campaign,” Kramer said in an interview before the debate; he was home the preceding weekend for Rosh Hashanah, and missed the debate because of an exam the next morning. But in a phone interview on Tuesday, Kramer confirmed that he’s still a candidate. Each candidate demonstrated the balance in viewpoint necessary for a freshman class president—an ability to consider both the inclusion of a new class into the community and the issues that have already been gripping the College.
Council approaches discussion of possible point system Matthew Brock
n an effort to increase the transparency of Vassar’s security policy and reduce the workload of Vassar’s house advisors, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council has decided to work on a proposal for establishing a points system for security offenses. A rough draft of this proposal, written by Student Assistant to the Dean of the College Nate Silver ’10 and Sean Koerner ’11, was presented to the VSA Council on Sept. 20. This draft of the policy assigns different point values to different types of offenses a student may commit based on the offense’s severity. It also specifies the consequences that students face for accumulating certain numbers of points. For instance, in the current draft an underage student in possession of beer will be given one point, while a student found in possession of marijuana will be given three points. If a student accumulates four points, she will have to meet with the Dean of Students; if a student accrues six points, she will have to meet with the Dean of the College and will be placed under academic probation; and if a student amasses 10 points or more, she will be temporarily expelled from her residence hall. “Instead of just receiving an e-mail informing you of a meeting [with your house advisor], you’ll be able to look at what you were written up for and figure out with reasonable certainty how severe your offense is—in other words, this system codifies, for students, how seriously Vassar views different infractions,” wrote Koerner in an e-mailed statement. Koerner, who was briefly suspended from campus last semester after throwing an unauthorized party in Kenyon Hall in which furniture was damaged, said that his experience in dealing with Security provided some insight when drafting the proposal. “I would have loved to have a list of my charges and accompanying points during the conduct proceedings last spring,” he wrote. “Additionally, we have a clause to reward honesty and
coming forward after causing damage, which I think will improve the chances of students owning up to their actions when damage occurs,” he continued. According to Koerner, this draft of the points system was loosely based on the systems at Hamilton and Gettysburg Colleges, but was tailored to fit Vassar’s culture. Several House Presidents had e-mailed the policy to their constituents prior to the Sept. 20 meeting. Jewett House President Daryl Duran ’12 reported that his constituents felt that the policy is “too impersonal and inflexible and against the Vassar spirit…[because] it leaves little room for discretion on a case-by-case basis.” Strong House President Laura Riker ’11 said that “most people like it because it’s standardizing things… [Currently] when you get in trouble it depends on the mood of the security officer.” However, she felt that some of the specifics have to be worked out. Many of the council members shared Riker’s trepidation on this issue. “This is not the way to go about [making Security more transparent],” said Raymond House President Syed Shehab ’11. “Good issue, bad policy,” he concluded. Noyes House President Hannah GrochBegley ’12 felt that the policy proposal still left Security with too much discretion in assigning points. As it stands, if a student is committing multiple offenses simultaneously, they can receive points for each individual offense. However, the proposal recommends that Security use discretion and only allot points for the most serious offense. “Discretion can be problematic,” she said. “If someone throws a party with underage drinking etc. and only gets four points, then the system doesn’t work,” she continued, referencing a scenario in which a student can receive as many as many as 20 points, if not more, for the various violations that it entails. According to Groch-Begley a point system should adhere strictly to the point allotments in order to be an effective disciplinary measure. However, Town Houses President Riley Greene
’10 spoke in favor of the policy as a way for letting students know where they stand with Security. “Because of how ambiguous the system is currently, we need to have a way for students to say ‘I have five points, and I know what it means,’” she said. A large portion of the Council spoke in favor of a points system that applies only to alcohol, drugs and parties, as opposed to this proposal which also includes vandalism and lewd behavior. “This would be most effective for alcohol and weekend-related problems because this is what people are more likely to get written up for,” said Riker. “There’s a large gap between what you do on weekends and what you do that damages people and property,” said Davison House President Louise Conner ’11. Some representatives also felt that it was simply inappropriate to assign point values to certain offenses. “I can’t assign a point to someone who has vandalized or raped,” said Class of 2012 President Tanay Tatum. All in attendance agreed that sexual assault did not belong in a points system. Other members of the Council opposed using this system for drugs and alcohol and instead supported it exclusively for more serious offenses. “It’s very different being written up 15 times for beer and alcohol from breaking into a building and messing everything up,” said Duran. “Kids get written up all the time for drinking beers…the administration is doing a very good job of keeping the minor things, like drinking, from breaking into Kenyon and ruining all the stuff,” he continued. “We do need to establish a more stringent regulation regarding vandalism, theft,” said Class of 2011 President Alejandro Calcaño. “Basically people will get drunk anyway here, even if we have points system or not—what we try to do is keep them safe, make them understand they need to keep each other safe, don’t do stupid stuff to each other and the buildings we’re in,” he said. Another group of Council members, though,
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
saw vandalism and drinking as going hand-inhand. Although he declined to comment on the point system itself, Director of Security Don Marsala refuted the notion that security officers use too much discretion. “[Students] really don’t complain that much. I tell you that in the course of a year I really don’t get two complaints about officers,” he said. “It’s urban legends.” According to VSA President Caitlin Ly ’10, a major motivation for this policy is to reduce the house advisors’ workload. “Right now we are trying to not fill positions that are vacant,” explainted VSA Vice President for Operations Brian Farkas ’10. House advisors work on three year contracts, and Noyes and Cushing’s House Advisor Scott Radimer’s contract expired last year. Interreligious fellow Michelle Jackson took over his position in Cushing House in addition to her original responsibilities. Meanwhile, “[The administration] is having house advisors do more campus activities work,” continued Farkas. What this means is that the staff of House Advisors is simultaneously shrinking and taking on more responsibility. “The house advisors are stretched too thin,” said Ly. “What’s great [about this policy] is you don’t have to meet with your house advisor on the first infraction, so it lessens the meeting load for them.” Given that the policy was only a rough draft, the Executive Board had no intention of actually bringing the matter to a vote at Sunday’s meeting. Ly said that it was clear that the Council could not agree on a single policy, so she requested a show of hands to see which members of Council would be in favor of enacting some manner of points system. All but five members on the Council expressed their support for continuing to work on this policy in the future. “A subcommittee of [the Committee on College Life] may form to discuss the points system and put forward a proposal, in which case we will debate that,” she said, requesting that Vice President for Student Life Elizabeth Anderson ’11 take up the issue.
NEWS September 24, 2009 VSA adopts bylaws for off-campus events
News Briefs Campus invasion
An individual was found trespassing on campus on Sept. 18. The individual was sitting in a car and did not posess identification, and was thus banned from campus. —Matthew Brock and Jill Scharr, News Editors
Just Testing Someone decided to discharge a fire extinguisher on the second floor of Main House on Sept. 19, which violates College Regulations. —MB and JS
Biker Barricade On the morning of Sept. 21, a student locked a bicycle to a railing, which constitutes a safety hazard. Security cut lock and the student later claimed the bike. —MB and JS
Small-time Car Thief Someone removed a hood ornament from a vehicle near the Town Houses, which constitutes larceny. —MB and JS
Crack Down A student in Raymond House reported that they heard glass breaking on Sept. 21. Security found windows in Chicago Hall on the east courtyard with recent cracks. —MB and JS
Party Patrol An officer on patrol on the fourth floor of Main House on Sept. 17 found an underage student playing beer pong with the door to his room wide open. There was also loud music and someone exiting the room with an open can of beer. Security confiscated the remaining alcohol. —MB and JS
fter three weeks of debate, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) passed a proposal on Sept. 20 concerning organizations’ overnight off-campus trips by a vote of 22 to 1. “I listened to a lot of the concerns about this,” said VSA Vice President for Activities Aaron Grober ’10. “This contains absolutely no forms of regulation whatsoever.” He explained that the bylaw would only provide the VSA with the “formerly vague agency to punish people who screw up,” and also requires completion of an emergency contact form two weeks prior to departure, which the Dean of Students already requires. In order that the VSA may have such agency over organizations, Article IV, Section 25, B now states, “The attendees of the trip agree, to the best of their ability, to appropriately represent their organization, the VSA and Vassar College.” This point goes on to clarify specific rules, “Infringements of this agreement include, but are not limited to, violations of College regulations, local, state and/or federal laws, lewd or inappropriate behavior, and slanderous or defamatory remarks that jeopardize the integrity of the VSA and/ or the College.” This list of violations provides both specific examples of poor behavior and provides a broad framework for the Council to judge issues as they arise. Previous issues of behavior that have come before Council, involving both organizations and individuals, have demonstrated the Council’s need for a disciplinary framework that still leaves room for discretion on a case-by-case basis. “This isn’t a change of expectations at all, just a way of clarifying,” said Vice President for Academics Stephanie Damon-Moore ’11. “It’s a necessary and reasonable addition to what we already have.” Class of 2010 President Selina Strasburger, who spoke out against earlier drafts, commended Grober “for listening to everyone’s
thoughts. This is much more reasonable.” A forum for organization leaders to voice input had been proposed by Town House President Riley Greene ’10 at the Sept. 13 discussion, but the council did not discuss a forum at the Sept. 20 meeting before approving the bylaws. Greene commented during the discussion, “if or when this passes, [we should] email organization leaders and let them know [there] doesn’t have to be an approval process.” The previous version, which was introduced on Sept. 13, was much more contentionus, sparking a heated debate among the VSA council members. It called for organizations to submit “a form of Acknowledgement of an off-campus trip…a minimum of two weeks in advance of the planned trip” as well as “signed statements of compliance by all members attending.” Further, the earlier proposal stipulated that if organizations that have in the past two years violated the behavioral standards wish to apply for another overnight trip, their applications must be “reviewed by the Activities Committee in consultation with current organization leaders.” If the Committee application is rejected, the application moves before the entire VSA Council, who will approve or deny the trip via a majority vote. Though the Sept. 13 proposal was contentious,it was, in fact, less regulatory than the version introduced a week before at the semester’s first VSA Council meeting, as reported in a 9.17.09 article in The Miscellany News (“Regulation of Off-Campus Events Debated”). The older draft called for four weeks’ notice of an off-campus trip, and specified that each trip would come before the Council for approval. Several organizations weighed in on the issue as the proposal was still being revised. Men’s ultimate frisbee captain Marco BrydolfHorwitz ’10, who attended the Sept. 13 Council meeting, protested the stronger draft, saying,
Bus route may extend to Vassar David Lopez
o many Vassar students, the sight of a shuttle with a whimsical leprechaun logo has become synonymous with Target, Stop & Shop and downtown Poughkeepsie, but that may be about to change. Recently, there have been proposals suggested by Vassar College and the Campus-Community and Advisory Committee (CCAC) presented to the city of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County for a public bus route that would connect Vassar’s campus to downtown Poughkeepsie. “The Leprechaun Lines company records meticulous statistics on when and where riders use the shuttle, at every stop throughout the day. These numbers have definitely demonstrated the demand for transportation between Vassar and downtown Poughkeepsie,” said Jeff Kosmacher, Director of Media Relations and co-Chair of the CCAC. “We have presented our statistics to the City of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County, and they have been cooperative and are in the process of looking at our shuttle routes.” After years of various transportation methods, Vassar looked into a more efficient model. “After its first few months of meetings, the CCAC proposed the shuttle idea to the [College’s] President and Senior Officers,” explained Kosmacher. “Everyone on the committee seemed to agree that the lack of reliable transportation was an obstacle. Taxis were expensive. In fact, the College was spending over $10,000 a year on taxi fares for students in programs like Field Work and Community Service Work-Study. We have reduced that cost by half since the shuttle began,” he continued. As a result, suggestions for a public bus route have surfaced. The public bus would not only benefit Vassar students but also Poughkeepsie citizens who live in the greater downtown area. “There are no department stores or supermarkets in downtown Poughkeepsie, so a direct route from the bus hub on Market Street to places like Stop & Shop and K-Mart would be a big help,” stated Challey. In these trying economic times, the question of public transportation is a major issue for students. “We have looked at different models to explore the idea of a public transit option for students. Albany, N.Y. and Ithaca, N.Y. both have public
bus systems for local college students,” explained Challey. “One model suggests taking a small portion of the student activities fee and transferring it to the public bus program to allow students to ride for free with their IDs.” Various other models looked at included student discounts. However, as Kosmacher explained, “municipal transit is heavily underfunded,” setting a financial barrier on the new route option. “There is a municipal bus stop at the corner of Raymond Avenue and Fulton Street. However, the bus stops very infrequently.” In order for the possible route to exist, statistical data and usability must show incentive to the municipal and county transit systems. “The College has a private contract with Leprechaun Lines. If the city or county incorporates a version of our route to and from downtown, there would be more need for what we now have to pay Leprechaun Lines to provide. However, the only way a public transit route will happen is if we can continue to demonstrate that there’s a significant ridership on the Poughkeepsie Shuttle,” added Kosmacher, pointing to the fact that the College will have to provide evidence that this bus route will have a steady clientele. Currently, the Poughkeepsie shuttle service has allowed most students to step off the campus for recreation or work-related reasons. “We started the Poughkeepsie Shuttle route to make it easier and more affordable for students to get off campus. Since the Poughkeepsie Shuttle was established two years ago, as many as 200 students have ridden the shuttle in a given week,” explained Kosmacher. The Poughkeepsie Shuttle was initially funded in part through President Catharine Bond Hill’s discretionary fund. However, Hill declined to fund the Shuttle this year, so Challey had to come before the Vassar Student Association Council on Sept. 6 to request the $4,000 necessary to run the weekend shuttle this semester, which he received. “The shuttle service will continue running this year,” said Kosmacher. As for the public bus route, its fate lies in the years ahead. Students down the road will choose to decide if the transportation available is suitable or if more opportunities need exploring.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“Why is it only overnight as opposed to just ‘off-campus’ in general? It makes me feel like certain [organizations] are targeted.” Grober responded to these statements, “An off-campus policy…would be way too regulatory.” He continued, “Ninety-five percent of past issues have been at night. That’s not a generalization; that’s a fact.” Still, after hearing all the concerns, Grober still revised the proposal further. Though the bylaws that were finally passed by Council do not require much of organizations require little of the organizations in advance of the trip, the bylaws contain the expectation that students on organized trips off campus will abide by College Regulations and stipulates that the VSA may censure or otherwise punish an organization for infractions. Censure of organizations is not unprecedented for violations of College Regulations while off-campus, these bylaws do define the VSA’s right to do so. The bylaws now state in Article IV, Section 25, C, “Failure to adhere to these regulations for off-campus travel will be considered a breach of conduct, punishable by censure, and/or a fine equaling up to 10 percent of the organization’s budget. Repeat offenses will be considered a severe breach of conduct, punishable by a fine equaling up to 30 percent of the organization’s budget, censure, and/or decertification. The VSA Council will vote on the appropriate punishment.” The Council’s ability to vote on appropriate punishments continues to allows Council members to consider organization violations on a case-by-case basis as they did before, but it also provides organizations with due warning that poor behavior off campus is not without consequences. While these bylaws clarify the Council’s rights, it also aims to add transparency to the rules governing organizations. Through the iterations of the proposal, Council has defined the level of separation between itself and student organizations.
September 24, 2009
Poughkeepsie Farm Project at Vassar: Bringing local produce to your TH tables
Main St market offers culinary outing in town Stephanie Noh Guest Reporter
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
Students pick out vegetables from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP), which is run from the Vassar Farm. To take advantage of PFP’s produce in exchange for support of the farm, community members join the organization’s Community Supported Agriculture Program. Mandana Nakhai
hen Professor of Earth Science Jeff Walker recently spoke on the ideology and practice of “the local” at fall Convocation, he illuminated the way he lives out some of the most basic but challenging principles of environmentalism. The exemplary standards of sustainability that Professor Walker described are understandably daunting for most of us, accustomed as we are to the ubiquitous conveniences of modern technology. Practicing a local lifestyle also requires a deep connection to one’s surrounding environment, and it can be difficult for students who generally spend only four years in the Hudson Valley to generate such an attachment. Walker’s speech revealed a gap between ideology and action: Many Vassar students are fascinated with and passionate about the possibility of living a more locally-based lifestyle, but they sometimes lack a confidence in their ability to actualize even a few of the necessary steps. The Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP) is an open and welcoming entry point into the realm of living locally and sustainably, and it offers a method of understanding and alleviating some of Poughkeepsie’s systematic food access issues. PFP is a non-profit organization that has been a part of the Vassar Farm since 1999. Located just off the main farm road and surrounded by what appears to be an entirely rural landscape of woods and rolling fields, PFP promotes a combination of sustainable agriculture, education and food justice concepts. With improving the food system in the Mid-Hudson Valley at the core of its mission, PFP is heavily invested in improving access to fresh, locally grown produce, particularly for low-income families. The organization operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program—a nationwide model of alliances between farms and their communities, wherein members support the farm both financially and with volunteer labor. In turn, the farm provides them with shares of food produced in an environmentally responsible way. According to farm manager Asher BurkhartSpiegel, PFP attempts to reduce some of the major obstacles to access to high-quality, local food in Poughkeepsie by increasing food supplies, reducing financial constraints, and educating people about topics like nutrition, cooking and seed saving. In some cases, prices are reduced
or entirely subsidized, and the organization even accepts electronic food stamps. PFP sponsors the downtown farmers market every Friday at Mural Park in downtown Poughkeepsie, where nearby residents may not even have regular access to a full grocery store. Burkhart-Spiegel emphasized the importance of the PFP’s support in making the downtown farmers market a vibrant weekly meeting place and a source of plentiful, local food. This contribution, combined with food donations to area soup kitchens and shelters, makes PFP an integral provider of healthy, local produce to Poughkeepsie residents. The organization also works to educate kids and teens (in partnership with Green Teen Community Garden Program and the area’s camp groups and shelters) on growing their own food and practicing healthy eating habits. Anna Weisberg ’10, a Community Fellow this past summer, helped teach teens how to harvest vegetables and save seeds. She also did a cooking demonstration at a transitional living center for youth. She touted the benefits of helping teens become active participants in the process of their food production, and expressed the relaxing and liberating nature of working outdoors on the Farm. Membership in the CSA is the main way PFP distributes its food, and the program has become a highlight for Vassar students who move out of the dorms. A percentage of PFP farm shares is reserved for students who pick up approximately ten pounds of freshly harvested produce each week. The selection ranges from broccoli to brussel sprouts, eggplants to onions, kale to zucchini and even incluldes “pick-your-own” crops, which includes berries, herbs and flowers. Each week’s choice varies depending on seasonality, presenting both a challenge to the cook accustomed to accessing any desired food from the grocery store and a lesson in living by the natural rhythms of the land. Picking up vegetables at PFP necessitates engagement with the wider community and instills in its participants a direct connection to and appreciation for the way one’s own food is grown and produced. “Of all the things I do at Vassar, going to the Farm is the moment I feel like I’m most participating in the community beyond Vassar,” said Nate Silver ’10, who has had a farm share since the fall of 2008. “It’s also important from an environmental perspective for people who have never had an experience other than
going to the produce section of a grocery store to see how food is grown. It makes you a smarter consumer and a smarter diner.” Claire Webb ’10, another PFP member, described her surprise at enjoying the chance to get outside on the Farm each week and harvesting pick-your-own crops. “I didn’t really expect it to be so much fun. I appreciated Jeff Walker’s speech [at convocation] on a theoretical level, and I’m really glad my housemate took me along because it is very easy to follow that advice and take advantage of something so close.” Working at PFP does not necessitate a longterm commitment. Anyone is welcome to volunteer, even once, during volunteer hours (Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 7-10 a.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.). For students who want a more structured opportunity to learn the workings of urban agriculture, there is also the option of fulfilling field work credit at the Farm, where one can work on seeding, planting and field maintenance projects. There are also opportunities to work through the Community Service Work Study (CSWS) program, which allows students to work in four different farm positions, including outreach and education. Burkhart-Spiegel even recalled several instances where Vassar students have progressed from field work or Work Study students to summer interns or full season interns—or even to assistant farm managers. Others still have even gone on to start their own farms. Julia Sisson ’12, a current CSWS farm student, is a passionate advocate for the value of PFP as a means to a healthier and sustainable food system and as a way to get outside and work with one’s hands. “Food is part of our daily lives, and it’s something we need to be more connected to, not estranged from,” she said. “People don’t realize the potential they have to change the food system.” The Poughkeepsie Farm Project is truly a community space: Its success is dependent on the help of those who are its greatest beneficiaries. Anyone can take advantage of the farm—even by spending time in its meditation garden, disconnected for a moment from the rush of daily life on campus. And in this era of industrialized food systems and powerful food lobbies, we cannot underestimate the power and meaning inscribed in taking back control of even one small part of the way we eat.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ast week I had the pleasure of sampling the tastes and sights of the Poughkeepsie Farmers Market, located at the junction of Main and Market Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. Whether you’re interested in buying fresh, locally grown produce or simply looking for an alternative to the All Campus Dining Center, the Farmers Market is worth a try. Located only two miles off campus, the Market is open every Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. until the end of October. Last week’s Farmers Market was lively and enjoyable. Upon arriving after a longer-than-expected bike ride, the first thing that caught my eye was the huge array of brightly colored fruits, vegetables and fresh flowers—all locally grown. Produce aside, there were vendors selling handmade jewelry and home-cooked food, as well as plenty of country music, all in a relaxed, social atmosphere. The Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP)— which is located on Vassar’s campus— sponsors the Farmers Market, and grows much of the produce available there. In addition to providing local vegetables, fruit and flowers at the market, PFP participates in the Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), in which members pay a certain seasonal fee to obtain fresh produce each week. Though membership is necessary to pick food driectly from PFP, if you’re not a member of the CSA, the Farmers Market is a great place to pick up locally grown food. “I love when people get really happy looking at all the colorful produce,” one woman at the PFP produce table said. “We can get them vegetables and fruits for lower prices and teach them new recipes with the ones they buy here.” Still, many other local farmers not affiliated with PFP had tables with their goods, and they had plenty to offer. Seasonal vegetables such as pumpkins, brussels sprouts and squash were readily available for people to taste, appreciate and buy. There were also vendors of handmade jewelry. “The market’s in the middle of the city,” said one of the jewelers. “But it’s still a place where people can get fresh produce and learn more about a healthy lifestyle and attitude.” Since I had worked up an appetite on my bike ride, I scouted out some food vendors and was delighted to find a hefty selection that ranged from empanadas to Greek spinach pie. One of my gustatory picks was Janet’s Jerk Stop. Located directly across the street from the market, food from Janet’s made a notable appearance on my plate. The meals come with either jerk chicken, pork or braised oxtail, served with the classic sides of your choice of rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, or cabbage and carrots. Molé Molé, a Mexican restaurant located on Main Street, provided tacos and a variety of soft drinks. Vendors include a few Arlington businesses, who venture outside of their culinary establishments so that the patrons of the market can sample their food. The Farmers Market also hosts special events, including cooking demos, arts performances, promotions and entertainment. Be sure to check out any of these planned events and help support the local growers and business owners in the vibrant setting of the Poughkeepsie Farmers Market. After about an hour of wandering and sipping on an orange soda, I reluctantly decided to make the trek back to campus. As I departed on my bike and took in the afternoon sun, I concluded that the experience had been a pleasant break from the “Vassar bubble.” I rode home, full and satisfied, and excited to return next week.
September 24, 2009
Kathy De Fayette, the uncontested queen of the Kiosk Zachary Wasser
constantly. “We were loud,” she adds with a grin, “but I love Erica.” De Fayette has been saving up money to help her son, Devon, attend the Baran Institute of Technology, in East Windsor, Conn., for a degree in welding. “I hope he succeeds, I really do,” says De Fayette earnestly. “I want a beach house, and I want my diaper money back,” she says, and follows it up with her signature laugh. “I never thought in a million years that my child would go to college,” she said. “It’s weird that you think like that. But I figured, you think he’ll have the same life you lived.” For De Fayette, attending college was never an option. “My mother had five kids, she lived on her own, she raised us by herself,” she says. “When we got out of there, we went and worked, ya know? That’s just what we did.” De Fayette left home at age 16 to begin working, but she says she does not resent the Vassar student body for having the opportunities she never had. “My life philosophy is, you treat people how you want to be treated,” she explains. She now splits her time between working at the Kiosk—a kingdom of which she has appointed herself queen—and being with her boyfriend of 13 years. “In my life, I learned a lot of lessons, made a lot of mistakes, but learned by them all,” she says. “And that’s what it’s all about, to me.”
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
athy De Fayette has worked at Vassar for the past 17 years, but her experience with the College far predates her employment. Born in Hartford, Conn., When De Fayette first moved to the area with her mother and four siblings, her mother took a job with Vassar as head of the custodial staff for all of the residential halls, a position she still holds. De Fayette grew up in Poughkeepsie and frequented the Vassar campus to visit her mother, to hang out with the students, or just to goof off with friends. Every few days, she and a girlfriend would pack a lunch, skip school and head over to the College. They would rabble-rouse and make catcalls at the boys in dorms and then relax out by the lake. “My friends and I would hang out on the rock wall [near Sunset Lake] and listen to Genesis’ “Three Sides Live” every day like clockwork, and eat Freihofer’s chocolate chip cookies,” recalls De Fayette. “Those were fun days.” She rarely got away with it. Her mother caught her every time she was on campus ditching school, but De Fayette has only smiles when she thinks back on her antics: “Young and dumb, I call it.” De Fayette fondly recalls the organized mayhem of Founder’s Day, an experience she never missed out on and always thor-
oughly enjoyed. Back in the 1980s, Founder’s Day festivities were held in Noyes Circle. De Fayette describes the enormous beer trucks that would drive up “right onto the grass,” with the keg taps attached to the side for easy access to the refreshments. She and her “teeny-bopper” friends danced and laughed alongside Vassar students, enjoying the sanctioned debauchery. It’s clear that De Fayette holds her mother in high regard. She recalls the difficult times her mother endured raising five children all on her own, and speaks about her with a sense of nostalgic appreciation: “I remember my mother walking around with holey shoes, just to give us what we wanted.” De Fayette’s most notable feature has to be her laugh—a giggle of short bursts that is unmistakably her own. “I’m really just a happy person,” she admits. It’s obvious she loves her job at the Kiosk and especially interacting with the students. She affectionately explains, “I love you guys.” As an afterthought, she admits, “I don’t really know anyone’s name. I know everyone from their drinks and faces, but names I’m terrible with.” This year, De Fayette is operating the Kiosk without her former work partner, Erica Feliciano. “I really miss her,” De Fayette says. The two worked in perfect unison; they exchanged cups with fluidity, claimed to know what the other was thinking, and laughed
Kathy De Fayette prepares a beverage at the Kiosk. She has been working at Vassar for the past 17 years.
Indecent Exposure sign-up sheet raises gender issues EXPOSURE continued from page 1 “Nothing that we presented in the show had female-specific humor and nothing we did antagonized any gender,” Indecent Exposure treasurer Lorraine DeGraffenreidt ’10 explained. “Each character we portrayed was gender-neutral. Other groups had very gender-specific content, but nothing was said about them.” “We concluded that this note was an act of hate against us as women,” she continued. “The only thing that he or she could have been upset about is the fact that we were females performing comedy.” As a school that is 60 percent women, Vassar has many all-female institutions: a dorm, two a cappella groups, a theater group, a choir, a comedy group and numerous sports teams. While stereotypes about female organizations still exist (Strong House is clean and quiet; members of Measure 4 Measure are great bakers), these single-sex institutions rarely receive the direct negative criticism that the comedy group is dealing with this semester. The defacing, it turns out, was not the first instance in which the group was received negatively this semester. The group hosted their first Vassar Adventures for New Students (VANS) activity, called Funny Women, for Freshman Orientation on Saturday, Aug. 29. During the coed activity one of the male participants asked, “So, why are you an all-girls group? Is it because you hate men?” Members of Indecent Exposure felt that the student likely intended his comment to be a joke, but they still found his phrasing unsettling. “We found it interesting that this person immediately decided to make the purpose of our group about men, while our goal is always about women,” DeGraffenreidt said. “The only thing we are against is the notion that women don’t have a place in comedy.” Adjunct Lecturer in Women’s Studies and New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly, who has taught a course on Women and Humor, explained that comedy, especially stand-up comedy, has historically been a male-dominated medium. “I have not been privileged to see the all-women comedy group, or any comedy group on campus, so I am speaking theoretically,” she explained in an e-mailed statement. “Until recently, humor and comedy have been viewed in this country as a form of expression wherein men are ‘better’ practitioners. Women were considered not funny, and not able to take a joke. Of course we know now that this is not the case, but stereotypes can die hard.” If the continuous laughs Indecent Exposure garnered at the preview show are of any indication, the group successfully presented their humorous stand-up and sketches for their au-
dience. The group dashed what Donnelly described as the common perception—that women are not funny—and placed themselves in a prominent, center-stage position. Had they been unsuccessful, and thus adhered to those stereotypes, then they might not have gotten the negative response on their sign-up sheet. They might have simply been forgotten. “Comedy is a form that can be aggressive, even if the type of comedy appears not so,” Donnelly continued. “In other words, performing in front of an audience requires a measure of control and dominance on the part of the comedian. The ability to make people laugh is very powerful—this is true even in general conversation.” For its members, Indecent Exposure isn’t simply about humor; the group also provides a necessary public arena for Vassar’s female comedians. Professor Donnelly felt that single-sex comedy groups can provide crucial forums for women. “In any mixed comedy troupe, there is a danger of stereotyping those members who are ‘other,’” she explained. “The grouping of people by sex, gender or race can be helpful to the group for support reasons, particularly if the group is about creative endeavors. Such a group can experiment with comedy, even explore the possibility that there is a female tradition of humor. That’s not to say that much of the discussion about stereotypes and traditions can’t exist safely in a mixed group—it can, but it can be difficult and/or not dealt with.” During the Activities Fair on Sunday, Sept. 6, the troupe received unpleasant feedback from several men who approached their table. While Indecent Exposure encouraged men to join their e-mail list, many students snidely challenged the purpose and intention of a female comedy group. “There were guys who were just blatantly rude,” Tombs said. “They would give us a weird look and say, ‘No way. I’m boycotting you guys because you won’t let me in.’” “It seemed that they were trying to be funny, but were ultimately turning their backs on our cause,” added DeGraffenreidt. “These things pop up and really make people pause,” Cahen said. “But then the reaction is so often ‘these people didn’t know what they were doing’ or ‘they don’t understand the implications.’ But this has happened a lot now during my time at Vassar.” This is not the first occasion in which Vassar property was vandalized in a way that clearly challenges students’ identities. There have been a number of race-related incidents in the past few years. In Fall of 2008, someone etched the word “White” onto the ALANA Center sign, in October 2008 a noose was tied on a Jewett House window-dressing, and a swastika was
drawn on a wall in Main House in 2007. In addition, a gender-related vandalism incident occurred just last year, when a Vagina Monologues poster was damaged in a Jewett Elevator. The original poster displayed an outline of a female body with a face saying, “Want to Audition for the Vagina Monologues?” An unknown individual defaced the poster by cutting holes where the breasts and vagina would have been, drawing a penis nearby and scratching out words, leaving only “Want Vagina?” “There are always some people who say, ‘You’re making a big deal out of this. Don’t you think that you are taking this too seriously?’ Every single time something like this happens on campus, that’s said,” DeGraffenreidt noted. “But we need to start a discussion.” “An action such as this is not simply a misogynistic joke; it has deeper, violent implications,” Vagina Monologues co-director Rebecca Aleman ’10 explained. “The parallel between this act of cutting and tearing out those particular parts of a woman’s body and the practice of genital mutilation is unavoidable. The show’s very purpose is to raise awareness about violence against women and prevent things like this.” “I think that incidents like these further necessitate the presence of all-female groups on campus,” Aleman added. The graffiti on the Indecent Exposure sign-up sheet brought up the age-old issue of Vassarians inadvertently using academic jargon loosely and fallaciously. “There are a lot of people who are familiar with the kinds of gender dialogues that are taking place on campus,” Cahen said. “They are familiar with their content and their language without really feeling that these dialogues are important. I think that those are the people who are most likely to take that language and use it out of context to distort it.” Belen Ferrer ’10 co-founded the Idlewild Theater Ensemble in 2007 to build a safe haven for women’s discussions on campus and provide women with more theatrical opportunities. Ferrer powerfully outlined the confounding relationship between all-female organizations and the gender binary. “I can understand where the comment written on Indecent Exposure’s sign-up sheet came from, but I think the comment was too quick to dismiss something important--namely, the acknowledgment of a female perspective,” Ferrer explained. Vassar students who have taken Women’s Studies courses quickly learn that the gender binary is problematic for three main reasons: The binary reduces gender into dichotomous categories (ignoring the broad range of gender identities in between); makes “Man” and “Woman” seem like natural categories (and socially con-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
structed identities); and reinforces patriarchal characteristics that define women as emotional, passive and weak. “Such a dichotomy has negative repercussions for people of all gender identities, with an added power dimension in which women are subordinate to men,” Ferrer said. “Yet on the other hand, you have the fact that, if we bracket gender—put it aside, pretend it’s not there—we are doing ourselves harm because the mechanisms that rest on gender are still at work. Being a woman is part of my identity.” While delineating an “all-female” group does adhere to the concept of two clearly-defined genders, leaders of Vassar’s all-female groups feel that this language is required to both highlight gender inequality and create a forum for a voice that might not otherwise be heard. The patriarchic culture’s language must be used to defy that patriarchy. Thus, while on the surface all-female groups “reinforce” and “legitimize” gender binaries, the groups believe that they are actually ardently working to annihilate said binaries. To help counter this issue, Idlewild uses their own definition for “woman” in their literature: “anyone who has ever, will ever or does currently identify as female.” “Clearly it’s not about your X or Y chromosomes for us,” Ferrer explained. “What we are seeking to voice is a certain gender identification, a certain social experience that is outside the scope of those who have lived consistently as men.” Vassar provides many spaces for gender discussion on campus, including gender-identity organizations such as Feminist Alliance and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC), as well as the Campus Life LGBTQ Center. “If the perpetrators feel excluded,” Aleman noted, “I might suggest attending one of these meetings or auditioning for any of the five other comedy groups on campus. [They can] even perhaps pay a visit to the Women’s Center in Strong House,” she said. “We are a progressive university that believes in empowering women and providing a female space,” Tombs said. “Do these people know our history, why Vassar was started, and what it means to educate women?” Simon de Beauvoir famously stated, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.” Initially alluding to the role that men have in defining women’s social position, Vassar students, with their empowering all-female organizations, are redefining this quote. These comedians and actresses have created spaces in which women can become, and define, whoever they want to be. ”We want to take the space back. This is Vassar College and we deserve to be here,” DeGraffenreidt said.
FEATURES Page 7 Salsa competitors fire up campus dining in Dining Center September 24, 2009
alsa. Is there really anyone who can say with a straight face that they dislike it? If you can, then you should probably stop reading this article immediately, find your way to the nearest vegetable patch and meditate for a while about where you went wrong because this article is truly an ode to the vegetable dish whose only rule is that there are no rules. Last Wednesday, the All Campus Dining Center (ACDC) played host to the inaugural Salsa Cook-Off, featuring five competitive cooks all vying to have their salsa featured at the Retreat’s weekly “Chili Wednesdays.” With temperatures high and the stakes even higher, it’s unsurprising that these five chefs produced some of the most surprising, original and inspired salsas I have ever tasted. The five competitors, Emerson Skufca ’13, Nate Allister ’10, Nate Silver ’10, Alexandra Codina ’12 and a team of three comprised of Bob Lutz, Kalen Krown and Oliver Newman, all of ’13, had half an hour to “shop” from the cornucopia of produce supplied by ACDC. With fresh local tomatoes and corn, a rainbow of peppers and spices, and fruit ranging from apples to papayas to peaches, it came as no shock that the contestants were able to present the judges with a diverse range of textures, tastes and colors. Besides yours truly, there were four people lucky enough to taste each of the salsas. The panel of salsa judges was made up of VSA Presi-
dent Caitlin Ly ’10, Director of Security Don Marsala, Associate Dean of the College Ed Pittman and—perhaps the only professionally qualified person in attendance—Robert “My Brother Bobby” Gropper, who has been producing salsa locally for over 16 years, and whose salsas are available for purchase in the Retreat. In the hour the cooks had to prepare their dishes, the west side of ACDC became filled with some of the most enticing and seductive scents I’ve ever had wafting in my direction. Smoking a pepper to intensify the heat, judging the water content of a tomato by its ripeness, understanding the spiciness of a jalapeño (the only way to do so, it turns out, is to taste it)— there are, I learned, so many approaches that allow competitors to, in Silver’s words, “build layers of flavor.” Although a salsa cook-off is technically a competition, ACDC felt more like a salsa party. “Salsa is many things,” rhymed Associate Director of Food Services Roy Wood. “Salsa is a feeling, a way of life; salsa is a dance, a dip and a dish. It’s in the bars, and it’s in the stars.” Marsala pensively confided that his perfect salsa has to have a few very specific qualities. For him, a salsa is best when “the individual ingredients can be tasted separately and if there is a brightness of flavor.” As the smells grew stronger and the colors became more vivid, Gropper filled me in on the story behind his salsa, which has been served in the Retreat for years now. “I started 16 years ago
is in a different way, supplying a wide range of heat, flavors and smells that were unexpected but not unwelcome. Each dish clearly had a lot of work put into it. Skufca’s included an inventive addition of diced carrots, providing a welcome crunchiness, and a very well-done papaya garnish. Allister provided the judges with an over-the-top presentation by serving his salsa in a carved out honeydew melon with pineapple on top. The team of three provided the most inventive salsa: a bright red purée that tasted like a conglomeration of almost every fruit imaginable. Their dip turned all my assumptions about salsa upside-down. Silver, the winner of 2007’s Great Sauce Challenge, made an incredibly vibrant dish: a yellow, pineapple-based salsa with corn and black beans and topped with a pile of crispy fried onions that provided an unexpected texture. Codina provided the judges with the most traditionallooking salsa, but it had what I considered to be the perfect level of spice and included a sweet honey aftertaste. When the judges had been stuffed and the scores had been tallied, we declared Codina the winner. The young chef, who worked last summer on a honeybee farm in Florence, Italy, graciously thanked the other competitors and judges. Her salsa will be featured in the Retreat every Wednesday for the rest of the year. I, for one, will never look at or taste salsa in the same way again. Thanks to these fierce competitors, my salsa horizons have truly expanded.
when there was only jarred salsa,” he said, adding with a shrug, “I was no chef. It’s just something I like to do. You just have to find a niche and work in it.” Gropper also credits Vassar for providing him with a market for his product: “It’s always been a point of Vassar College to buy local, and I’m lucky and honored to benefit from that.” In an ode to the intensity of competition, the guidelines for judges were stringent. Contestants were awarded a maximum of two points for creativity (how ingredients were used, how the dish surprised the judges) and up to three more points for appearance (did it look like something you would want on your plate? Would the structure of the salsa hold up well on a chip?). And, of course, the salsa taste, worth five points, was valued the most. As the mathematically inclined will have deduced, a perfect salsa would earn a competitor 10 points. A lot was at stake. No wonder the judges on Top Chef are always glowering; you have to be a true stoic to put chip to mouth and pen to paper, knowing full well that the fate of an entire year’s worth of Chili Wednesdays rests on your shoulders. All five of the judges summoned the composure to try all of the salsas, and for me, at least, each one was well worth the effort. Did I taste a perfect 10 salsa? Unfortunately not. That is not to say, however, that all five weren’t great in some way or another. Each tested and stretched my conception of what salsa
Meal for under $20 bids summer season a delicious adieu Nate Silver
Scout MacEachron/The Miscellany News
oast. Eggs. Cereal. While all delicious in their own right, I still cringe when people declare their culinary proficiency to end with these dishes. As Vassar students, either seniors living in apartments or underclassmen dreaming of the day their personal space will be larger than a 10 foot by 10 foot cave, all of us should have the ability to prepare a satisfying meal for the people we care about. My hope is that this column will inspire students to experiment in the kitchen, teach everyone a few things about food, and give everyone the necessary tools to feel confident when it’s his turn to cook. The premise is simple—I arrive at Adams Fairacre Farms on Rt. 44 with a twenty dollar bill in my pocket and leave the store with a delicious arsenal of ingredients with which to prepare a seasonal, delicious, healthy meal for my housemates. This week I went with a perfect end-of-summer meal: bucatini with bacon, mushrooms and spinach, served with a tomato, watermelon and feta cheese salad. Since we’re on the cusp of a seasonal transition, the earthy autumn tones in the pasta look ahead to crisp October afternoons, while the bright salad reminds us of 80-degree summer days. The shopping at Adams was simple this week. I actually left the store with a few dollars in change, giving me confidence that I’ll be able to stretch 20 bucks in some pretty delectable ways in the future. Perhaps surprisingly, I’ve found that the produce at Adams is relatively inexpensive compared to other markets in the area. The watermelon and tomato seasons are nearly through, which means that they’re reasonably priced. Adams sells mushrooms loose so you can get the exact amount you need, and they grow their own herbs and offer them in bunches for only a dollar or two. To anyone who is a bit skeptical about the salad combination: Let me assure you that the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the feta work beautifully together and balance nicely with the acidity of the tomatoes. Fresh basil provides some color and the requisite brightness to complement the heartiness of the pasta dish. I selected bucatini for the pasta because it’s sort of the neglected cousin in the long-pasta family. It looks like thick spaghetti, but it’s hollow inside, which I find to be an unexpected treat. The pasta dish is successful because of the layered flavors the recipe creates. Bacon and onions provide a rich background to flavor the mushrooms, and the spinach is added at the last second to freshen it all up. If you’re a vegetarian, you can skip the bacon, and if you don’t like mushrooms, you can leave them out. It is certainly a very adaptable dish, but I would say that anyone averse to mushrooms should treat this dish as the training wheels for your taste buds. Flavoring them with bacon is so good, it’s almost cheating.
New York Feta Cheese Crimini Mushrooms Shitake Mushrooms Fresh Basil Baby Spinach Bucatini Boar’s Head Smoked Bacon Watermelon Tomatoes Vegetable Stock Yellow Onion Total
$1.70 $1.12 $0.40 $1.99 $2.99 $1.99 $2.99 $1.94 $1.42 $0.99 $0.22 $17.75
Bucatini with Bacon, Mushrooms and Spinach »» 1 lb. bucatini »» 10 slices of bacon, cut into small strips »» 1 medium onion, chopped »» 1 clove of garlic, chopped »» 1 cup sliced mushrooms (feel free to use a variety – I used crimini and shitake, but use whatever you like) »» 1 cup vegetable stock »» 4 cups baby spinach »» Salt and pepper, to taste 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. 2. Place the bacon in a pan on medium heat and cook until crispy. You’ll want to keep an eye on the bacon and stir it frequently to ensure even cooking. 3. When the bacon has reached your desired level of crispiness, remove from the pan and set aside. Drain off the bacon grease, leaving about a teaspoon or so in the pan. 4. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 of the veg-
etable stock. (Deglazing is a fancy word for adding liquid to a hot pan to loosen the cooked-on brown bits from the bottom of the pan and incorporate them into the sauce.) 5. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms to the pan, and cook on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have softened. A couple of minutes after you add these ingredients, place the bucatini into the salted water and allow it to cook as indicated on the box (usually 8-10 minutes). 6. After the mushrooms and onions have cooked, add the spinach at the last moment–the objective is to gently wilt the leaves, not to cook them significantly. Add the remaining stock. 7. Drain the pasta and return it to the original pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well. 8. Divide onto five plates and top with
Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad »» 1/4 of a watermelon, rind removed, diced into 1/2 inch pieces »» 5 medium tomatoes, cored (top area where the stem was, removed) and diced into 1/2 inch pieces »» 1/2 pound feta cheese (Adam’s sells local New York feta for only a few dollars per a pound), diced into 1/4 inch pieces
»» 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil (or cut chiffonade, into small ribbons) 1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Odds are that salt will not be necessary because of the saltiness of the feta, but you can adjust the seasoning as you like. 2. Serve alongside the pasta.
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the bacon. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, if you like. 9. Enjoy. A note on salting: In my opinion, the largest difference between restaurant cooking and home cooking is the way salt is used. Salt should be added liberally to each step of the cooking process to help develop the flavor of each ingredient. A pinch of salt – roughly 1/8 tea spoon – should be added to the pan when you add the onions and mush rooms, and again when you add the spinach. Tasting your food consis tently throughout cooking will help you determine the level of salt necessary. Also, pasta water should be salted with about a tablespoon of salt to help the pasta develop a more com plex flavor. Lastly, please be sure to use kosher salt—the one with slightly larger crystals—for everything you make.
To view this recipe step-by-step in photos, please visit the Miscellany’s photojournalism blog, Exposure.
Vassar in pictures: blogs.miscellanynews.com/exposure
September 24, 2009
Disagreement surrounds issue of student representation on Board TRUSTEES continued from page 1 Association (VSA) Executive Board. Freshman Aashim Usgaonkar said that he attended the meeting because he wanted to get informed about a school that was still new to him. “It was informative to me because I didn’t know anything yet, but I don’t know how informative it would be for older students. I got a sense that the Trustees are distant. They don’t meet with us that often, so, save these couple of meetings, it seems as if the general student body doesn’t meet with them at all.” Typically, the Board comes to campus three times a year—in October, February and May— and the open forums to which Usgaonkar refers are an innovation only recently introduced to the student body. “These meetings were actually the Board’s idea,” explained Plapinger. “They were meant to reach out to the students—and to the broader campus community in May—and make sure that we were not perceived as being unavailable to the students if they wanted to speak to us.” Though Plapinger found the meeting worthwhile, he sympathized with the feeling of aloofness Usgaonkar observed. “When I was a student,” he said, “the Board certainly seemed distant to me as well. Although almost all the Board members are graduates of the College, Board members are older than students and spend a great deal of their time working off campus on behalf of the College. They are certainly not as familiar to students as the President or the other senior administrators who are charged by the Board with actually running the College day-to-day—nor would I expect them to be.” Student Assistant to the Dean of the College Nate Silver ’10 attended the meeting and suggested that while it is important for conversations to occur between students and the Board, requests for the two groups to be involved in decision-making together are unnecessary and perhaps inappropriate. “I think for a relationship to be tense, there has to be a relationship to begin with. There is no relationship, and that’s fine,” said Silver. “I think what we learned from this month’s meeting between the Board and the students is that the Board and students don’t really have that much to say to one another. What those two groups are thinking about are very separate things. We have freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who are thinking about the Classes of 2010 through 2013,” continued Silver, “and the Trustees are thinking about the Class of 2020, of 2025, of 2050, of what Vassar would be when we send our grandkids here. It’s important that they don’t lose touch with the issues that are on students’ minds, but when push comes to shove, they have very different priorities.” Some questions posed at the meeting highlighted a discrepancy in priorities between students and the Board. Trustees, for example, were unable to answer questions specific to everyday student life. One member of the Class of 2010 asked about her specific financial aid package, while another student asked about how cutbacks in faculty were being handled. Silver maintained that while these questions are certainly important to current students, they may not have been appropriate for or relevant to the forum, since the Trustees deal less with current specifics and more with the long-term.” “I think it’s important that we don’t talk to the Board of Trustees about, you know, how we’re angry with Security doing rounds at 8 p.m. or the plumbing in Davison House. It puts the Trustees in an awkward place. It’s just not what they do,” said Silver. Clarke, however, disagreed, saying, in short, that if it’s not what they do, it should be. “One out of every three questions asked to a Board member,” said Clarke, “will probably receive an answer beginning with or including the phrase, ‘I don’t know the specifics of what you’re talking about,’ or ‘it’s not our job to know what’s going on.’ And I agree. It’s currently not their job to know what’s going on, but that’s a problem. They should have a sense of the student life and the student body.” Plapinger, however, explained that while it is the primary mission of the Board to act in the long-term best interest of the institution, the Trustees also are constantly focused on the current state of the College. “While we are focused on things in the future, we are also very focused on the decisions that are being made with respect to current staff, administrators and faculty—not necessarily on individuals, but on process generally and on the financial underpinnings of the decisions being made.”
“We’re also focused on the experiences of our students,” continued Plapinger, “as well as what is happening on the admissions front, on whether we can continue to maintain our financial aid policies and so on. So we’re not only looking at what Vassar will be like for members of future classes, but also students in the Classes of 2010, ’11, ’12 and ’13.” For Plapinger and the 35 other Trustees, the primary connection to those students exists through the VSA Executive Board. “The main relationship between the Board and the students has existed through the VSA Executive Board,” said Plapinger, “and in my view that has been a productive and open relationship, in which there has been a good sharing of views. That’s an excellent avenue of communication that is very important to the Board, and it’s certainly important to me as Board Chair.” During the Trustees’ three annual visits to campus, the VSA Executive Board has several opportunities to meet and talk with Board members. “There are three different events that have been more or less structured into the Board meetings that involve students,” said Assistant to the President John Feroe, who schedules and works closely with the Trustees when they visit campus. “There is a dinner on Thursday evening. Students get invited to that, and the VSA Executive Board attends, so that’s a kind of informal opportunity initiated by the Board.” Feroe continued to explain that in addition to the Thursday night dinner, the Board Chair and the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee meet with the VSA Executive Board, and then the Executive Board is invited to attend the Student Affairs Committee meeting. “That is probably the most formal arrangement of structured contact with the Board,” said Feroe. “When I started six years ago,” Feroe continued, “the only structured contact with the students was when the VSA Executive Board would meet with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees—which is composed of the chairs of the Board’s committees and the Board’s Chair— and frankly now there is much more of an opportunity to talk.” “I hope that if you talk to the members of the VSA Executive Board,” said Plapinger, “they will say that over the years we have had a constructive relationship. That doesn’t mean that the Board has done everything that the students want, or that they have done everything we want, but it’s been an open and good dialogue. I also think that the innovation of having the Board Chair and the Chair of the Board’s Student Affairs Committee meet with the VSA Executive Board is a good one, and I hope all the participants gain a lot of insight from those meetings,” said Plapinger. “I would say that we have a very strong relationship with the Board,” said VSA President Caitlin Ly ’10. “They’re focused on much more than just the current students, but they are always very receptive, and they welcome any focused feedback or criticism we have for them. It’s not often that you get trustees who are genuinely interested in hearing what students have to say,” said Ly, who also worked with the Trustees when she served on the 2008-2009 VSA Executive Board as Vice President for Operations. Ly said that in addition to sitting in on the Board’s Student Affairs Committee, she and the Executive Board will also try to attend the Academic Committee and Buildings and Grounds Committee meetings as well. Though the Executive Board does have these opportunities to speak with the Board, some students believe that such structured meetings are not sufficient and that there should actually be a voting student representative on the Board. “I definitely think students need a lot more involvement in decision-making on campus,” said Hardin. “The Board and the administration assume that students can’t and don’t want to participate in decision-making. I think it’s a false assumption. If we are interested in making this a more democratic school, students need to have more of a voice in decisions being made, and a student on the Board is a way to achieve that. It’s something that’s worth working for.” The debate surrounding whether or not a student should be on the Board of Trustees has been a prevalent one amongst students throughout the past decade. Many students who have run for VSA President have promised to work for a spot on the Board, using the issue as a platform for their candidacy. Despite its continuously
cropping up in candidate statements, the question of how involved a student should be with the College’s governing body has been a highly contentious one. “The Board should absolutely consult students in their decision-making processes,” noted Clarke, “but I have reservations about putting a specific student on the Board. One person can only represent one viewpoint, so I don’t think have a VSA-elected student on the Board would be appropriate.” While some, like Clarke, think the issue is problematic because just one student would have trouble representing the entire student body, others believe that it’s not appropriate to have a student on the Board because trustees are thinking of Classes beyond the time of current students. Hardin responded to that argument, explaining that the two bodies are actually connected, “because the students here now do have to create the community for future classes.” “Vassar students are very capable of making decisions,” added Sarah Muenzinger ’10, a member of the Student Activist Union. “There could very easily be a voting student on the Board. It would be valuable to have someone who could provide context about what it’s like for Vassar students on a day-to-day basis. They should put a face to the numbers they deal with and try to understand how their decisions really affect people,” said Muenzinger, who also explained that a student on the Board would make the Trustees more accessible to the rest of the student body. “I think it’s harder to see what’s going on inside the Board. I know there are committees, but it’s very confusing. I don’t really see the Board as accessible to students.” Muenzinger said. Silver, however, argued against a voting student representative on the board and instead advocated for younger Board members. “It’s important that the Board remain a separate entity and that its constituency remain the College itself,” explained Silver. “Getting, say, the VSA President on the Board undermines the Trustees’ ability to speak for the College as a whole, because you have one person who is strictly speaking for the students.” “So, the Board is not a representative body— it’s a separate one,” continued Silver. “I do think that efforts should be made to have a younger perspective—someone who has maybe graduated in the past five years. It’s important that the students and the Board remain separate, but that the Board doesn’t remain a body of people who went to Vassar in the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s.” “It’s a very complex question,” said Plapinger of the debate, “but the Board’s fiduciary obligation is, above all, to protect the College’s
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mission. The students tend to see things—completely naturally and properly—from their own perspective, but student representation on the Board would place on the Board a representative of a particular constituency with a particular point of view. Such representation would be problematic,” continued Plapinger, “because as trustees we’re supposed to be looking at matters from the perspective of the long-term interests of the College as a whole, and that includes, faculty, administrators, staff and students.” Though the VSA has not named studentrepresentation on the Board of Trustees as one of their goals for the academic year, the Executive Board has committed to continuing conversation with the Trustees. “They’re incredible receptive,” said Silver, who served on the 2008-2009 VSA Executive Board. “I think what they want and what is useful to them—because they deal with so much information—is focused feedback. The Board in general is like a priority body, setting the long-term priorities for the College. So to hear from students about what the current priorities are is actually really important. It’s more important that the Board hear from us, rather than us wanting to change the Board’s thinking.” Similarly, Plapinger explains that continuing conversations with the Executive Board is a priority for this year and for those to come. “We hope that there are open lines of communication through the VSA Executive Board, the College committees and through the faculty and student observers on the Board,” said Plapinger, who acknowledged that especially in such difficult economic times, students would not always have positive feedback. “It’s perfectly natural that when somebody doesn’t agree with something,” said Plapinger, “the persons that they point to may be the most senior responsible people, even though such blame is not always justified. When I was on campus and people got upset about a lot of things—as they did in the late ’60s and early ’70s—the Trustees were probably a target as well.” “Students are angry and confused—they have every right to be—and I think they want someone to point fingers at,” added Silver. “And they can point away, but I sometimes wish that people thought more holistically about the history and future of the College. We’re in year 149, and the reason we got here is not by listening to students every step of the way,” said Silver. “Our life at the College is a short one. The fact that people have been thinking about beyond our time at Vassar is what has made us even have a time at Vassar.”
September 24, 2009
H1N1 a danger for nation and Vassar: preparations a necessary precaution Gwen Niekamp Guest Columnist
bout a week ago, I was enjoying just another classy breakfast at All College Dining Center (ACDC), shoveling home fries into my mouth while I waited for a friend. He appeared soon after I sat down, and I caught a glimpse of his plate as he approached: an egg white omelet with a banana on the side. To make me feel guiltier about my vitamin intake (or lack thereof), he retrieved a pillbox from his bag during breakfast. In response to my curious stare, he plucked his pills out of the box one by one, introducing them to me before popping them into his mouth. Vitamin B for increased antibody response. Vitamin D3 for the immune booster. Zinc supplement for a similar reason. After swallowing all three, he frowned at my plate of greasy, nutrientless food and asked me, “Aren’t you scared of swine flu?” I had recently played around on flutracker.com and discovered that Dutchess County is the home of 38 cases of swine flu. Yet somehow, the epidemic still felt worlds away; swine flu hadn’t yet penetrated the Vassar Bubble. I shrugged. My friend looked at me incredulously. “You have to do better than that. The DC is still self-serve. They aren’t helping you here! So what if there are some extra pairs of tongs lying around? Now everyone’s sneezing into their hands and touching those tongs instead of directly touching your food.” Since that breakfast conversation, I haven’t been able to escape thoughts of the swine flu. Cue the Jaws theme song because it’s coming, inevitably. The Office of Health Education has plas-
tered the dorm bathroom stalls with newsletters devoted entirely to tips on staying healthy. The tables in ACDC are suddenly covered in “Flu Buddy” flyers. While strolling through Cushing House, I noticed that some rooms on the first floor have signs that declare themselves to be “Get Well Rooms.” That’s right everybody. It’s flu season, even in the Vassar Bubble. A trip to Baldwin served as more than enough proof that our campus is already battling illness this fall. Flu masks are available before even entering the building. The nurses hurried around the lobby tending to patients and were unavailable to answer questions. However, from what I gathered by reading supplements and speaking to a student at Baldwin, Vassar recommends that students who suspect they have a fever—or any other symptoms of the flu—seek medical attention immediately. If you’re found with flu-like symptoms and do not live in a single room, you’ll be put in self-isolation (that’s a nice way of saying quarantine) until your fever has been gone for 24 hours. While in self-isolation, you must choose a “Flu Buddy,” or someone who brings you meals, fluids and classwork. You can imagine my shock when I learned that self-isolation is no longer a hypothetical procedure here at Vassar; a hallmate of mine was sent into self-isolation last Wednesday. She was the second student quarantined on campus, and according to her, the system isn’t perfect. During work at Wimpfheimer Nursery School, she fell ill and alerted her boss who insisted she visit Baldwin. Baldwin recognized her “flu-
like” symptoms immediately. They noted her high fever, gave her a flu mask and sent her straight into self-isolation on the first floor of Cushing. Upon arriving in her quarantine room, her fever had subsided. She knew then that she didn’t have swine flu, but still had to wait 24 hours. She wasn’t sick anymore, but she had to wear a mask when she went to the bathroom because she was afraid she was only going to get sicker by being in quarantine. It sounded like a miserable experience, but I understand procedures like that are necessary to avoid a campus-wide disaster. It goes back to the old saying, “Better safe than sorry.” In a situation like hers, abandoning the quarantine might have been acceptable. Baldwin nurses do not pop their heads in the Get Well rooms every half-hour. They may make a phone call or two, says my hallmate, but the whole self-isolation system is entirely self-controlled. I recognize that there may be some circumstances, like my hallmate’s, that warrant reconsideration. I just ask that you use your best judgment. Before you leave your sickbed and start breathing all over doorknobs or coughing all over the cutlery in the Retreat, consider the rest of your campus. Some of us aren’t taking three kinds of supplements or gobbling up four servings of fruit to boost our immune systems. So please just be sensible. Don’t wipe your eyes and then dig through the bagels in ACDC...even if nobody’s watching. Don’t go to class if you feel like you should be bedridden. And if you think you have the flu, go to Baldwin, even if it means a lonely few days in self-isolation.
United community is a central issue: Inclusion lets College reach its potential Eli Berns-Zieve Guest Columnist
strong community and sense of unity are central to the identity of any school. A community defines the school and the experience of the students at that school. In short, a school cannot begin to realize its full potential while lacking a united community. As fledgling members of the Vassar community, the adjustment period for freshman students can be full of hardship. After all, heading off to college is the end of the only lifestyle most of us have known—one where our daily routine more or less always included our family. Personally, my pre-college life was marked by many different institutions and communities, each playing a unique role; however, the community that affected me the most was also the smallest—my family. It is impossible to measure the subtle power that being a member of a family has in your life. Although you may not consciously recognize it on a daily basis, the encouragement and positive support of a family is—in most cases—largely responsible for many of us ending up where we are today. That is, positive results come from being cared for and nurtured in a manner that teaches that you are capable of anything and that you need only try. Not enough can possibly be said about the debilitating effects of discouraging words from a parent, mentor or peer on the determination and drive of a pre-college-aged child. As we freshmen adjust to our new home, I think it is only fitting that we all consider our place in the community. While our families can still serve as a source of encouragement, it is up to all of us to become a more immediate source of such for each other. As we settle in at Vassar and begin to nurture and develop our various talents,
it is absolutely necessary that we each become a caring source of support for our neighbor. It is in communities where everyone cares for each other and takes interest in each other’s lives that learning blossoms, and we owe it to ourselves to make sure that Vassar’s community fully embodies these aspects. Remind yourself about the role someone else’s positive words played in your life, and in turn try to use your words to affect positive change in someone else’s. While focusing on developing or maintaining a sense of community, it is
The term community does not merely apply to us students. It is all-inclusive. also important to remember that the term “community” does not merely apply to the students. Community is all-inclusive. That is, it pertains to the professors, dining hall operators, Security officers, administrative officials and custodial staff who make this school all it can be. While positive encouragement is one integral aspect of a community, a genuine and sincere interest in the lives of others is an equally important second. What am I suggesting here? Merely to make sure to take a few seconds here and there out of your day to thank and greet those around you; they are all here in your best interest and visible appreciation is an excellent way to strengthen the bond of community. Learn the name of the Se-
curity officer who walks down your hall at night; when appropriate, strike up a conversation with one of the dining hall operators; remember someone’s name or a fact about their life—it is another great way to extend community. We have already established the fact that “community” is a broad phrase; therefore, I think it is also appropriate to recognize that the Vassar community extends beyond Vassar and to take actions to ensure that this extension is of the positive variety. Many of you doubtless wander off-campus to restaurants and stores. It is important to keep in mind that what really matters is the uniform fact that your interactions in the Poughkeepsie community are responsible for the Town’s perception of Vassar. Since students leave campus often, I believe that extending the positive community we are working to instill and maintain at Vassar into the Poughkeepsie community is a worthwhile pursuit. Short of continuing the practice of greeting and thanking people off campus, I think further extending the VCash system into Poughkeepsie would demonstrate that Vassar College has a real stake in the goings on of the surrounding community. This change would represent more than just a financial promise. Instead of being forced to use credit cards run by large banks located in distant cities, students could instead make more of their purchases with their V-Card—making an impersonal transaction just slightly more personal. Combine that with a friendly greeting and a genuine thank you, and Vassar’s community is well on its way to becoming more fully assimilated into the community of the greater Poughkeepsie area.As you may have noticed by now, these recommendations were relatively subtle things; however, even the smallest change can make a world of difference.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ACTA council misunderstands value of College Ethan Madore
f you go onto The Rose and the Gray blog through the Miscellany’s website, you’ll find alumna Kelsey Woods ’06 defiantly defending Vassar from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, or ACTA (“Should Vassar have a core curriculum?,” 9.10.09). The ACTA is apparently one of these sinister organizations that plot to take away all that your typical Vassar social-revolutionary cadre fought so hard to achieve. “What Will They Learn?” is a new study launched by the ACTA to evaluate colleges based on their core curriculum. You can go onto whatwilltheylearn.com for a fun interactive map and a dose of scowling distaste for the more liberal of the liberal arts colleges. The ACTA disregards Vassar’s current requirements and gives the college a negative rating across the board, cumulating in an “F” ranking. Is Vassar really such a failure? Has Vassar failed me? I remember sitting in my pre-major advisor’s office last year, staring deep into his soul-patch and wondering that very thing. I was directionless; there were classes that I was interested in, classes I did well in, and classes I thought would be useful down the road. Vassar needs to shepherd me better, I told him— I’ll never take a science or a math class. I probably should be able to count all the way to a hundred and make a baking-soda volcano if I’m going to make it out there in the world, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take the initiative and sign up for those sorts of classes myself. It took another semester of me loading up on just humanities to start caring about where I was heading. Two things that Professor of Philosophy Michael Murray said in my History of Western Philosophy class stuck. The first, which was detailed in Hesiod’s Theogony, was that man has actually been in the Cretan cave in which Zeus’s mother hid Zeus from his father’s baby-eating phase, the second is that the philosopher in Plato’s Cave needs to forcibly drag the unenlightened out, against his will, so that he can see the sun and gain some wisdom. This always left me with an image of Professor Murray actually brutally dragging me somewhere while I kicked and screamed and regretted taking philosophy. I think there was a point there, though: I was given all the freedom to choose, but I didn’t want it. I was suffocating from all the breathing room Vassar was trying to give me. You get used to it, and eventually you start to like it. Regretting my one-sided education (which often felt like I was just a member of Oprah’s Book Club), I signed up for some science this semester. A friend of mine swallowed down a mandatory threehour organic chemistry lecture the other day, not because he was a chemistry major or a pre-med student, but because he felt that he should. Sure, outside forces still work; a freshman I was talking to is taking a math class because his father is a mathematician, but he’ll come around. Vassar students are getting a well-rounded education because they feel they ought to, not because of the strict core requirement that ACTA would spoonfeed us. I think the key point here, the issue that separates the minds at the ACTA from those here at Vassar, is one of confidence and trust. The ACTA is inherently suspicious of people: The picture they paint of academia is one where the con artists they think are running our institutions are beguiling parents out of $50,000 a year while low-life college students are sliding by until graduation day; and they seemingly think that the diplomas we receive are worth just as much as the dozen I could buy online right now if I really wanted to (they have some good deals on diplomamakers.com). I guess I have always chosen to believe that if you trust a person, if you give them your confidence, they will more often than not rise to meet your expectations. It’s harder to work up the oomph to be the warden of your own life than to put your fate in the hands of others. But it’s worth it, and that’s the type of life lesson that I would skip a few classes to learn. And besides, the ACTA is ridiculous. It claims that “only 31 percent of college graduates can read and understand a complex book.” What does that even mean?!
September 24, 2009
In health care debate, we must keep individual liberty in tact Kelly Shortridge
am of the opinion that government is an institution meant to ensure our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that there should be a national defense, laws to forbid harmful acts such as murder or rape, but limited law otherwise, so that citizens of the United States may choose to pursue their happiness as they please. However, I believe there is a misconception in this notion; citizens have the freedom of choice, but they are not ensured of success. Their choices may end up in terrible failure or sparkling success, and the government’s only role is to protect that choice, not to guarantee success. It is from this vein of thinking that I prickle at the idea of governmentsponsored health care, an overwhelming institution filled with unnecessary bureaucracy that limits choice. As mentioned in my previous column (“Government funded health care is not the cure-all solution, 9.10.09), there are numerous reasons why I feel government-sponsored health care limits choice and decreases quality of medical care. However, I similarly feel that insurance companies limit our choice, partially because we simply expect too much from them and thus give them more jurisdiction, as they have the keys to our medical care. With any person or organization, the more we leave in their hands, the
more decisions that we surrender to their judgment, the less we have a say. It is imperative in a matter such as medical care that we have the final say, instead of, for example, for insurance companies to make decisions that inevitably do not have the patient’s best interests at heart. The more dependent we are on an insurance provider or the government—or any third party—the less freedom we have to choose, and the more freedom they have to exercise authority and control over options regarding our very health. So, you may be wondering, what is my solution? I believe that first and foremost we must absolutely not let the government interfere in our medical care. Second, I believe that insurance companies need to have their power diminished—perhaps even be formed anew. They need to exist for a similar reason that auto insurance exists, for extraordinary and rare cases, not for minor incidents or regular checkups. The fewer payment decisions left up to the third-party insurance provider, the better we can manage our medical care, and thus be more satisfied. Furthermore, without the inefficient bureaucracy of health insurance companies— and yes, they are currently nearly as inefficient and corrupt as the worst of government organizations—costs would inevitably decrease, a benefit for persons of all classes and incomes. Incentives for doctors to only provide treatments and medicines that the third-party providers ap-
Action required to safeguard same-sex marriage in Maine Casey Katims
ast May, Maine became the fifth state to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, and only the second state to do so through the legislative process. Unfortunately, the day after Governor John Baldacci signed the marriage bill into law, opponents launched a “Stand for Marriage Maine” campaign and began collecting signatures for a people’s veto. Now, a statewide ballot in November will ask Maine voters the same question posed to Californians in the last election: Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry? For a moment let’s put aside how disgusting it is for a minority’s civil rights to require support from the majority. Instead, we should focus on our generation’s role in each of these elections. Although recent polling shows that a majority of people our age (and surely a strong majority of the Vassar student body) supports marriage equality, we’re still losing battles like California—and possibly Maine—because we’re not being active enough. It’s not a huge surprise that a generational gap exists on the issues of LGBTQ civil rights. Obviously more people our age identify as LGBTQ , or have LGBTQ friends, than people in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. The problem is that young adults don’t care enough. Sure, you support equality, but what are you doing about it? What the LGBTQ movement needs most is for our generation to wake up from our collective apathy, step away from Facebook and start speaking up for what we believe in. That doesn’t mean we all have to lobby lawmakers or march on Washington. It just means that when we talk to people outside of Vassar, especially when those people may not already support LGBTQ equality, we bring up the sometimes-uncomfortable topics of marriage equality, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, anti-LGBTQ discrimination, hate crimes and so on. You just might find that they’re excited to talk about it and to hear your opinions. The now-infamous passage of Proposition 8, which banned marriage for California’s gay
and lesbian couples in 2008, was a giant wakeup call. How could a liberal state like California possibly vote against gay people? What many people our age took for granted—that LGBTQ equality would simply happen in time—was shattered. Our opponents showed that they’re not ready to back down, raising an enormous $40 million to defeat marriage equality in California. They’ve already brought the fight to Maine, and the time has come for us to start talking to friends and families about LGBTQ equality. Like, today. Our school is already chock-full of faculty, administrators and students who thrive on discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. In my first three years at Vassar, I wrote a psychology paper on homosexuality, a philosophy paper on same-sex marriage and a political science paper on the transgender community. But talking with our friends and professors here is not what really counts. What matters most is that we continue these dialogues even when we interact with students from other colleges, when we go home and when we graduate. Now is the moment for young adults to help turn the tide, and starting these discussions is the best way to keep Maine from becoming another California. Call your parents. Talk to your friends from home. Ask them, “Did you know there’s another same-sex marriage battle in Maine?” Or, “Have you heard about the National Equality March?” Tell them about the new LGBTQ friends you’ve made at Vassar. It’s the small conversations like this that really make a difference. One small step for you—letting someone know that you support equal rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity—could actually be a huge step forward for the LGBTQ movement. Our voices can be a powerful tool for equality. It’s time to start using them.
prove would be increasingly diminished, which will, I believe, benefit the patient by providing them with the medicines and treatments that they need, not just the ones that the insurance company will approve. It is upon the statistics presented in my previous article and upon my aforementioned philosophical and moral basis that I will undoubtedly never support a government health care program, despite President Barack Obama & Co.’s numerous attempts at using our tax dollars to create infomercials—quite boring ones, at that—in favor of the Democrats’ public option. Even so, I think that my co-editor Angela Aiuto understates and misunderstands the issues and problems of government-sponsored health care, and more than just that embodies the philosophy that many Democrats possess—that people “deserve” many “rights” that have, for the majority of human history, been thought of as privileges (“Overblown debates cloud real issues of health care reform, 9.17.09). It is no surprise, however, to hear that Americans are spoiled in their prosperity—which is not necessarily an ill. The ill is in the belief that the government should provide these luxuries—yes, they truly are luxuries on the scale of not only man’s history but in the world today. This principle can only breed a sense of entitlement, one of the most dangerous attitudes for a body of people to possess. For the more that a person or people feel entitled to ser-
vices or goods, presented as rights, the easier it is for politicians to be elected by promising said services or goods, slowly taking control over an increasing number of aspects of our lives. Eventually these so-called “rights” that are provided become the very things that grant the government authority over our lives. Medical care is no different, and gives the government control over our very health. I discussed the undesirable consequences of government-sponsored medical care in my previous column; these consequences have been exemplified in countless countries, and can only possibly be magnified in a country as diverse and expansive as the United States. If we are to ignore these consequences, we must not ignore the principle of the matter: We should not yield control of our lives to a governing body that is not only inefficient but fundamentally uninterested and not in the least knowledgeable about our individual cases. The only ones who are competently informed, in fact, are ourselves, and no third party—whether a government, corporation or person—should take our right to choose our life’s path for us. —Kelly Shortridge ’12 is the Opinions Editor. This year, she and Opinions Editor Angela Aiuto ’11 are maintaining an alternating column called “Point, Counterpoint,” in which they engage one another in conversation.
President’s involvement not needed in gubernatorial race Emma Lowe
ew York Governor David Paterson is not having a great year. Since taking office in March 2008 he has had to deal with the national and state financial crises, filling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, the health care debate, plummeting popularity, and both he and his wife having extramarital affairs. This week was not that great for the Governor, but it was worsened by the rumors that President Barack Obama asked him not to run for reelection in 2010. Due to his waning popularity, some Democrats believe Paterson could jeopardize the 2010 elections for other Democrats in the New York state legislature. There has not been an official response from the White House regarding the Governor, but then again, why is President Obama even involved? It is no secret that Obama is a busy man. So why either of them is wasting his time dealing with the rumor mill is beyond me. The first time I heard these rumors I imagined President Obama as an old-school party boss, demanding loyalty and cooperation from his minion Governor Paterson. I do not like associating this image with the leader of our country. But since we have entered the so-called “era of change
and hope,” I was upset by the idea that our country is reverting back to politics as usual. Plus President Obama has a few other things to think about other than the stability of the Democratic Party. I am not trying to suggest that President Obama is not already focused on national issues. I am suggesting that worrying about Governor Paterson’s re-election is not worth the President’s valuable time. On the whole, the Democrats are not in so much danger that it should merit diverting his attention from national issues, especially when compared with the Republicans. Political analysts across the nation have tried to analyze what has caused their demise (cough, cough, Sarah Palin) but at this point it doesn’t really matter. Worrying about the unity of the political party system is not what needs to be done. The petty parts of politics must be put aside and our leaders must work together to change the crappy situation our country is in. No one understands this idea better than President Obama, which is why I am so puzzled by his involvement with Governor Paterson’s re-election. If he thinks he is achieving something by getting involved, I must disagree. Although he is clearly wellintentioned, the president (by default) ought to focus on national issues.
Cartoon by Liza Donelly, Professor of Women’s Studies
—Casey Katims ’10 is the President of ACT OUT, a policial advocacy group that promotes full legal equality for LGBTQ individuals.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
September 24, 2009
United States is not a Christian nation Logan Stagnitto
s the United States a Christian nation? The short answer: no. The long answer: The debate surrounding the supposed religious founding of the United States is long-stretching, but it has recently been piqued with the election of President Barack Obama. “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers,” spoke the president in his inaugural address. Many of his supporters agreed with his statement, and many of his detractors made their opposing feelings known. During his campaign for president, there were many accusations surrounding Obama’s faith as an effort to undermine his fitness for office. Even today there are people calling for his impeachment on these grounds; for instance, a protest sign at the Sept. 12 “Tea Party” in Washington D.C. read “Impeach the Muslim Marxist.” The United States, however, is not a Christian nation. Let’s start dispelling these myths. The American Revolution was not about religion. There was an e-mail being circulated during the 2008 presidential election that claimed that our Founding Fathers fought and died for our rights to have a “Christian nation.” The e-mail contended that President Obama supposedly doesn’t respect their founding vision. Did I fall asleep during high school history class? The Act of Toleration (which allowed all Protestant sects, aside from Unitarians, to practice their religion freely in Britain) was enacted in 1689, well before the Revolution. The leading factors in the Revolution were actually primarily economic in nature. Specifically, American colonists had no representation in the British Parliament, and therefore no input in deciding the levying of taxes. Hence the Boston Tea Party and “no taxation without representation.” Not all of our Founding Fathers were Christian. Most of the Founding Fathers were Deist. The basic tenant of Deism is the belief in God as the clockmaker: the Being that set the universe in the beginning of time, and has simply let it tick since. Thomas Jefferson even wrote a version of the Bible with all references to miracles removed; the idea of an active God was very much opposed to the faith of many of the Founders. Even Benjamin Franklin once
wrote, “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.” Our Constitution is not based on Biblical law. Religion is not part of our electoral process (notice the lack of anointing of heads with oil in the Constitution.) In fact, Article 6, Section 3 of the Constitution states: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” And, of course, the First Amendment says quite plainly, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Only three of the Ten Commandments have made it into federal law: “thou shalt not steal,” “thou shalt not kill,” and “thou shalt not bear false witness [perjury].” These laws can be found in almost every culture, whether explicitly Christian, secular or of another faith entirely. The real basis for the laws in the Constitution was the Magna Carta. The first clause of the original Magna Carta (signed in 1215), actually established a separation of Church and Crown [state]. The Magna Carta is the first place we see the concept of “habeas corpus.” In fact, you can see much of the rights granted in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the Magna Carta itself. A Christian god is not mentioned in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The phrase “nature’s God” appears in the Declaration of Independence, It is often cited as proof that the Founders had envisioned a religious nation. Similarly the word “Creator” is found in the Constitution. In actuality, Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, as previously stated, was a Deist. “Christianity” or “Christian God” or “Jesus”...even “God” are never referenced. Jefferson, considering his religious and political beliefs, most likely intended these terms to be non-sectarian and non-theist, and to reference a less specific authority. But, perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence for why the United States is not a Christian nation is the Treaty of Tripoli. A treaty, by the way, after being approved by Congress and signed by the President, is effectively a federal law. The Treaty of Tripoli was written during the Washington administration and passed during the presidency of John Adams (passed unanimously by Congress, I might add). Ar-
ticle XI of the Treaty states that “the government of the Untied States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Today, many people still believe that our culture is Christian. The fact is that more than half of our citizens self-identify as Christian. If you want to define a Christian nation that way, then, by all means, do so. However, by that notion, if Scientology ever becomes the mainstream religion (for instance), we would no longer be a Christian nation. Culture and time, however, have altered our view on the origin of our nation. “In God We Trust” became our motto. “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, I would agree that in our modern world, because of the belief and efforts of many of our Christian citizens, that our current culture has some Judeo-Christian backing to it. However, so do many non-Judeo-Christian nations, because the Christian culture and mindset has become so pervasive throughout the world. Regardless of whether or not we are currently a culturally Christian nation, however, our laws are not Christian. Our process of making and writing laws are not Christian. Many people believe that because they view our culture as Christian, that Barack Obama, the supposed-Muslim, should not be allowed to be president. I would like to remind those people that, even if we put aside our secular roots as a country, we still live in a democratic republic! Our First Amendment guarantees that Barack Obama could be president even if he were Muslim. Even if Barack Obama were trying to convert the whole of the nation into Muslims (which he’s not), providing Congress didn’t pass any laws to this effect (because the First Amendment prohibits that), it would be perfectly legal! We vote for elected officials. Even if 100 percent of the people in the U.S. were Christians, if 50.1 percent of them vote for a Zoroastrian to be mayor (for instance), that’s what matters. If 100% of our citizens were Catholic, but 50.1 percent voted in favor of gay marriage in a ballot proposition, it wouldn’t make a difference what the Pope had to say! In the end, even if I’m wrong, even if we are a Christian nation: the laws and bylaws of our Constitution ban the making of any judicial decision or piece of legislative writing for the purposes of any religion, and religion is not a qualifier for public office.
A pro-choicer’s argument against abortion Emil Ostrovski
’ve heard with an alarming frequency by fellow liberals in general and Vassar students in specific the sentiment that there is no logical rationalization for a pro-life stance. I beg to differ. The pro-choice argument is centered on two pivotal points. The first is that aborting the unborn child is far more akin to swatting a fly than to taking a human life, and the second is that a woman has the right to do as she wills with her body. The two points inevitably go together, as the right to do as we will with our bodies does not extend to infringing upon the rights of others. There are those on the fringe who would grant the unborn child a right to life but argue that a woman’s right to an abortion would override it. This stance is absurd, because the right to life is, for all human beings, the most basic, most fundamental of rights and thus, would naturally supersede all others. After all, if we have not the right to life, then we have the right to nothing. But, my opponents say, why should the unborn child be granted the right to life in the first place? Well, it is a biological fact that the unborn child is a human being from the very moment of conception—its DNA, after all, is a human being’s. Considering that, what else could the unborn child possibly be—a frog? Would pro-choicers have us believe that DNA is not a valid indicator of species membership? Would they have us believe that at some arbitrary point in its prenatal development, the “mass of cells that is not human” magically turns into a human being?
Neither stance makes much sense. Furthermore, unlike a fly or a frog or an inanimate, non-living object, the unborn child will grow up into a rational, sentient human being if allowed to develop. What the argument that aborting is not taking a human life is getting at is that, though the unborn child is technically a human being, it is not yet a human in the way we understand humans to be. Quite simply, the unborn child, during the period in which it may be aborted (and even after, but that is a topic for another time), does not possess the intelligence that would allow it to be its own unique, free-thinking, individual person, and it is personhood that makes human beings what we truly are, that sets us apart from all other species. Even with this clarification though, the pro-choice stance remains problematic. It only takes into account the intelligence of the unborn child at a given moment–say, a month after conception– and neglects the fact that it is an actual, living, growing human being that will develop into a thinking, feeling person if allowed to. It is this sense of the future we would be so keenly aware of when, if given a choice, we would choose to save a newborn baby over a full grown dog, even though in the instant of our decision, the dog would be more intelligent than the newborn. It is this sense of the future we are keenly aware of when we consider the murder of a newborn baby a crime equivalent in gravity to the murder of a more developed human being. Implicitly, we already acknowledge that all living members of our species, regardless of how developed they are, have an equal right to life.
Though ideological adversaries would hardly label me a pro-choicer based on what I’ve said here, I truly believe that I am. I believe in the freedom to choose whether or not to have sex. I believe in the freedom to choose whether or not to use condoms and take birth control pills. I do not believe that a single mistake should ruin one’s life, but I do believe in taking responsibility for one’s actions, one’s choices. Giving a child up for adoption is the responsible response to an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion is not. I will admit that there are a minority of more difficult cases such as when conception is a result of a rape. In response, I pose the following question: Yes, what happened to the mother is horrific, but how does the crime perpetrated against her justify punishing a non-offending third party? In the end, the pro-choice argument fails for me because it seems, in the majority of cases, to be morally compromising. A human life is a human life. Every unborn child has the potential to become a fully developed human being. And an unborn’s right to actualize on said potential should be preserved, much in the way a newborn’s is. I feel that the only reason we are even engaged in a debate over the morality of abortion is because, unlike a newborn, an unborn child can’t truly be seen, can’t be felt or coddled, and so it is much harder to perceive and much easier to overlook this incredible human potential. All considering, I believe a wholly unqualified, unrestricted pro-abortion stance is based more on what is easier and more convenient than what is right.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
In an ACDC cook-off, what would your secret ingredient be?
“I’m from Vermont. I put maple syrup in everything.” Caitlyn Lamdin ’11
“Prosciutto. I love prosciutto.”
Sarah Scott ’12 “Nutella. You don’t even need to put it on anything. You can just eat fistfuls.” Carmen Angleton ’13
“Locally grown apples because we have so many at the ACDC.” Emmett Ingram ’12
Ian Heller ’12
Dan Small ’13 — Angela Aiuto and Kelly Shortridge, Opinions Editors
September 24, 2009
Society continues to enforce black female stereotypes Juan Thompson
his past Sept. 12 marks the 32nd anniversary of Steven Biko’s murder. Biko was a renowned anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, who, in addition to battling the system of oppression in that country, also made popular the phrase “black is beautiful.” And as I recently re-watched a MSNBC documentary on race, I was forced to ask myself just what “black is beautiful” means today. Two years ago MSNBC aired a documentary on the state of black America. In the documentary they replicated the infamous doll test that was administered by Dr. Kenneth Clark sixty years ago. The test consists of black female children being presented with black and white dolls that are similar in every way except color, and then being asked to choose which doll they prefer. In the MSNBC documentary most black children chose the white dolls, much to my surprise. One would think that after 60 years in which black Americans fought so mightily for basic rights that we as people would have jettisoned such self-hatred. One would think that after the black empowerment movements of the ’60s and early ’70s that we as people would have
more love for ourselves. But we do not. I would argue that any progress made in the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s began to be erased in the mid-’70s with the black-exploitation films that often depicted black women as nothing more than sexual toys. This process continued into the ’90s with certain hip-hop music videos— like Snoop Doggy Dog’s “Doggy Style”—that contributed to the further sexualization of black women. And of course we have today, where the only way a black woman can win an Oscar is if she has simulated sex with a white man named Billy Bob on screen, as Halle Berry did in the 2003 film Monster’s Ball. Of course it’s not just Hollywood that depicts black women in such a fashion; it is also black men who showcase scantily clad hip-hop honeys; and it is artists like Lil’ Wayne, who invited his own daughter on stage to dance around while he performed a song about having sex with every girl in the world, referring to women as bitches, hoes and other pejoratives used to insult females. When presented with such an environment where black women are routinely debased and presented as hypersexual beings, it comes as no surprise that nearly half of black American girls aged 14-19 have an STD, according to a 2008
Centers for Disease Control report. That figure, when compared to the 20 percent of white females in the same age category, is astonishing and disheartening. The internalized racism within the black community is so rampant we don’t even recognize it anymore. We have, in essence, accepted it. There are three ways we can go about alleviating this problem and refusing its acceptance. The first is probably the most difficult: demand accountability from the entertainment industry. The only reason Hollywood and the music industry produce such entertainment is because the demand for it exists. Were we to refuse to download Lil’ Wayne’s “Every Girl” from iTunes, or declined to buy tickets to see movies like Monster’s Ball, that could go a long way toward changing the current dynamic. Secondly, black men must stop degrading black women and expecting them to resemble the white woman on the latest cover of Vogue. And finally black women, like black men, should love themselves first. They should get rid of the perms, relaxers, extensions, fake nails and accept themselves for who they really are. Because a real black man does not want a woman who hides her natural beauty; he does not want a woman who com-
pares herself to the latest blonde cover girl; he does not desire a woman incapable of loving herself and respecting her body just the way it was made. Not all hip hop artists or videos engage in the type of misogyny mentioned above. There is plenty of hip hop centered around social justice and the advancement of black people. And for that, hip hop fans like me are incredibly grateful. Also, the phrase “black is beautiful” does not just apply to black women. I focused on black women because they are often forgotten when society debates these issues, and as a black man, with six beautiful black sisters and a mother, I thought it would be wise to address their treatment and portrayal in our society. But there was a time when black men relaxed their hair and lightened their skin, among other things, because that is what they qualified as beautiful. We still see some of that today. Earlier I wrote of how most of the black girls in the MSNBC documentary chose the white doll. There was one girl who preferred the black doll, and when asked why, she responded: “Because she’s black and she’s beautiful”. If only we all possessed the same amount of self-worth as that nine-year-old girl.
Feminism a necessary component in crucial dialogue Meghan Feldmeier Guest Columnist
n high school, my best friend and I had a very vicious relationship, at least from the outside. We liked to tease each other, and most of our inside jokes probably seemed offensive to an outsider. We knew each other well enough to tease like pros. Whenever I felt like he was beating me, I’d flick his arm or some other lame attack, and if he tried to reciprocate, I’d say, “You can’t hit me, I’m a girl.” He was always quick to respond with a warning: “You better not say that at Vassar! All your feminist friends will get mad at you.” And such was my expectation of Vassar when I came here; it’s not like it’s been shattered, but I idealized Vassar as a perfect little world where sexism disappeared for four years inside the gates, where everyone actively worked to defend the oppressed and where people were proud to identify as feminists. It failed to live up to that ideal. Women’s Studies, however, has lived up to my high ideals. Introduction to Women’s Studies was the one class I really cared about getting into. Assistant Professor of Classics Barbara Olsen and Associate Professor of German Studies Jeffrey Schneider, who teach the class, both came with really high recommendations. The
class has exceeded everything I hoped for. It’s been exhilarating, life affirming and challenging—which unfortunately seems hyperbolic, but it’s not. Our readings are fresh—both contemporary and historical pieces. Our discussions are fiery—we have women and men from all over the country of different races, sexualities, and socio-economic status. There is no shortage of voices in this class. About a week after classes began, I started talking to some friends about how we had been discussing the nature of feminism and gender oppression in class. One person replied, “The feminist movement is outdated and extremist; it’s completely unnecessary now.” And another piped in, “Can you even give an example of oppression?”We had been talking about rape a lot in the class so far, so I mentioned, “One in six women will be raped in her lifetime.” One person’s reply was that rape was a ridiculous, “clichéd” and an unfairly emotional example. I wanted to scream—the frequency of rape doesn’t make it clichéd; it makes it terrifying; it makes it something that has to be talked about; it makes it personal. Suppose you know a woman who has been a victim of sexual violence—now is it okay to talk about and get angry about this subject? Once you know someone? What about
if it’s you? There were a few others at the table that wanted to keep talking, and the subject shifted to why feminism (and Women’s Studies) was an inclusive movement and discipline. For example, we had already studied how political patriarchal practices meant that it was harder for men to get custody of children in divorces. This, too, was met with callousness. The conversation spun into a downward spiral with generally judgmental statements about how the divorce rate was too high, children were better off with their mothers anyway and, eventually, the ludicrous idea that people who get divorced shouldn’t have ever been able to get married. Somehow, talking about feminism was permission for anti-feminists to rant about their opinions on other people’s personal lives. This was more than callousness; it was misinformed and uninhibited judgment, the epitome of why I couldn’t stand one more year of high school. What is it about the stigma of women’s issues and feminism that stops people, even Vassar students, from being accepting and open? Feminism is still equivalent with lesbianism and intellectual elitisms, neither of which has been deemed attractive, personally or sexually, by rigid social standards. And I don’t think that the majority of the student body subscribes to these standards,
but the minority is still vocal about it. And I don’t think these judgmental voices are voices Vassar students need to be subject to hearing. Let me explain: perhaps it is hypocritical to be intolerant of intolerant people, but I’m the one getting judged. Views of feminism may be contrary to my own, but that’s not what offended me. The blatantly judgmental attitudes and attacks towards my beliefs, values, and choices offended me. And furthermore, feminism is something that has to be talked about. Sexism, heteronormatism, racism and classism won’t go away just because we’ve made some progress and called it a day. Dialogue, passion and action will reduce the rape rate, the gender wage gap and the patriarchal attitudes that still pervade our society. What can make Vassar different than every other screwed-up place in the world is that we recognize the ills in our home, our community and our world, and we don’t tolerate them. This is a place where we have the support and resources to call people out on patriarchal judgments and actions, so it’s not just our right to do so, it’s our responsibility. —Meghan Feldmeier ’13 is a member of the The Vassar College Fem. Alliance.
Crossword by Jonathan Garfinkel ACROSS 1. The 6-Down City 8. Fashion designer Jacobs, and others 13. Male pal (slang.) 16. Band of citizensoldiers 17. Director Kazan, and others 18. English dept. specialty 19. “Wait _____!” 20. Baseball or football, e.g. 21. Quantity (abbr.) 22. Tie-____ (makes t-shirts with psychedelic designs) 24. Retreat ATM bank 26. ESPN award 29. Phrase repeated on a farm in a children’s rhyme 32. Related 35. Golfer ELs 37. Major athletic hon. 38. Emperor who played violin while Rome burned 39. Orange soda brand 40. Trait of the religious 43. Not outer 44. Florida sch. 45. Look, as through a telescope 46. Large primate 47. Skidded 50. Plan
54. Tolkien creature 55. European car manufacturer 57. Part of a lovely latin 101 conjugation 58. With “It”, ensure completion of 61. Fido in Barcelona 63. Feudal lord’s estate 65. ____ Karenina 66. Male offspring 67. Similar 68. Not a lab sect. 69. Gives up, as land 72. Pest for a pup 73. A vagrant 75. _, _, _, _, U (and sometimes Y) 77. A vote “for” 79. Go inside 82. Emotionally or physically scarring events 88. Author Rand 89. Televised déjà vu 90. Interest listed alongside “long walks on the beach”, perhaps 91. Dog, cat, or piranha, e.g. 92. Catherine, Nicholas, and Peter, among others 93. Agrees to
DOWN 1. Nashville music awd. 2. ___ and hers 3. Corsica or Martinique, en Français 4. ___-Tac-Toe 5. Ear prefix 6. Blustery 7. Yankees outfielder Xavier ____ 8. Footballer Lionel _____ 9. European mountain 10. Copacabana locale, briefly 11. Drive-in restaurant attendant 12. Retired transatlantic fastfliers (abbr.) 13. Char 14. Edge 15. Old-school baseballer Mel ___ 23. Poet Cummings 25. Prohibited 26. Listlessness, boredom 27. Not stand 28. One in a pod 30. Ambulance worker (abbr.) 31. ___ League (group of elite universities) 33. Wrath 34. “That’s neither here ___
there” 35. Failing grades 36. Train track component 40.“___-xing” (“Mind the people in the street”) 41. “_ before _ except after C” 42. Hosp. area 43. Light-amber beer type, in brief 45. Chest muscle, briefly 46. Popular ISP in 2002 48. French fry need 49. Expert 50. ___ Speed Wagon 51. Craze 52. Run ____ (go out of control) 53. Tiny hole 55. Surg. locale 56. Corporate dept. issuing press releases 58. “Rebel Without a Cause” actor Mineo 59. WSW opposite 60. Fascinate 61. Edgar Allan ___ 62. Terminus 63. “Bad”, to Pablo 64. It may be on tap
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66. Baked good that may go with tea 70. Makes, as salary 71. Prefix with 69-Across 72. To share 74. Ernie’s pal 76. “____ boy!” (Maternity ward congratulation) 77. Talk a lot 78. Organ involved in 45
across 80. “___-La-La” 81. Continental abbr. 83. Solution (abbr.) 84. Take advantage of 85. Males 86. iPhone service prov. 87. US military draft agcy
September 24, 2009
HUMOR & SATIRE
Worst-case scenario: a basic survival guide Light-up shoes: The adventure T continues Kelly Stout
When in doubt, get really involved with your beverage for about 10 minutes.
hate you for something else. Step three: It’s time for re-entry. Next time someone brings up women, overcompensate like hell by showing everyone how open-minded and progressive you are through semi-related personal anecdotes. Has your girlfriend taken linear algebra? Are there any lesbians in your immediate family? If there are, definitely bring that up. Know any female scientists? If not, maybe make one up. The trick is to make yourself look as un-misogynistic as possible, so don’t worry too much if your anecdotes have nothing to add to class discussion. Conclude with a blanket statement about sexists and how awful they are. Step four: Thank your lucky stars you didn’t go to Wesleyan. How to churn out a term paper the night before it’s due: If you haven’t been here yet, you will be. Never judge. Start by reading the assignment. Get a clear idea of what you were supposed to have been doing for the past four months. Step two: Decide on a topic. It’s always nice to pick something that’s controversial, but not too controversial; original, but not too original. If it’s too original, it’s going to require more research. Good topics generally involve one or more of the following: marginalized groups, violence, education or the Internet, depending on your major. Step three: Cut your research losses. Why sift through hours of microfiche in the Library basement when you can read a JSTOR article in half the time? Sure, your notes will be mediocre, but they will exist. Step four: Jump in. You’ve got 12-15 pages to write and it’s already 10:20 p.m. You’re in no shape to develop a thoughtful thesis or coherent flow. Start typing. Include block quotes. Step five: When you get a B- on the paper, revel in it. It’s a gift. Your professor knows what’s up. She’s got a Ph.D. But that’s no rea-
3 p.m. Tea. How have I failed as a student so far this year? Let me count the ways. Rose Parlor. 5:30 p.m. Women’s Studies Dept. Peace Week. Food for thought: how closely would “Women’s Studies War Week” resemble a women’s rugby game? Sanders Auditorium.
3 p.m. Tea. Get a new job? Major fail. That would explain why I’m still sitting at the reserve desk hating life. Rose Parlor. 10 p.m. FlyPeople Mug Night. They’re definitely bringing perky back. Jury’s still out on sexy. Mug.
12 p.m. Arlington Street Fair. Chili, bad off-key a cappella, and a petting zoo.
son to wallow in guilt or self-consciousness. Instead, march right into her office hours and talk it over afterwards. Be sure to explain your lengthy process in developing the paper without using any specific time markers. How to escape from a hipster party: Step one: We’ve all been there. The first step is to realize you’re not alone. Chances are, there’s someone else at this party who hadn’t heard of Vampire Weekend until 2007. Take comfort in this. Feeling empowered is going to be important in a den of judgmental fun-haters. Step two: Figure out where you are. The rule follows that the farther a hipster lives from campus, the cooler he is. So the distance you are from normalcy is likely to correspond with the distance between you and your dorm room in Jewett. Step three: Trying to dislodge yourself from a hipster-centric conversation is tough, so see if you can attempt to hold your own for a few minutes. Make ironic comments, like “I’m thrilled to be on campus again. It’s so nice to get back in touch with the men’s lacrosse team.” Or just bring a lock of your hair close to your face and examine it without any sense of what’s happening around you. If you have a rotary camera on you, take some pictures of people’s feet. Step four: Disengage. Say you have to go water your plant or put on another layer of plaid or smoke a cigarette you rolled yourself. No one will question you. Helpful hint: throughout your escape, it’s generally good practice to keep the word “hipster” out of it. Hipsters deny this classification, and bringing that into the discussion will only make everything harder. How to recover a lost hard drive after falling off your bike: I got nothin’. Good luck. I know you’ll do well. —Kelly Stout ’10
Weekly Calendar: 9/24 - 9/30 THURSDAY, 9/24
Mitchell Gilburne Molly Turpin/The Miscellany News
his week, like every week, I fell off my bike. I lost momentum going uphill and fell over. It was pretty charming. In case anyone was wondering, I’m single. What made this week’s fall noteworthy was the undue stress it put on my laptop, which acted as my landing pad. Immediately after, the fall I remained calm. I didn’t curse or freak out. I picked up the ailing computer, put it back in my bag, and got back on the horse (as it were). I remained likewise calm when Brian from the computer repair shop told me all hope was lost for my hard drive, and I took deep breaths when I learned that my three-week-old infant of a thesis was no longer with us. The freakout didn’t happen until much later when I thought about what could have happened. One need only attend a free ViCE concert to know that disaster looms at Vassar College. In other words, my hard drive crash—pun very much intended—was not the worst case scenario. Seniors, I fear it may be too late for you. Alas, it is too late for me. But there’s still hope for many of us, so I thought I’d provide some guidance on surviving some of the worst things that will happen to you at Vassar, despite my painful lack of qualification to do so. How to fix a downed library printer at 11:57 a.m. when you’ve got a paper due at noon: Step one: Breathe. Realize that you’re totally and completely alone in this. There are no members of the Vassar staff that will be able to or will want to help you, regardless of their job titles. Everyone in the Library will make outrageous claims, like “it’s someone else’s job.” Or, “Sometimes the ones in the dorms work.” Step two: Complain to the person behind you in line as if the issue affects you and only you. Make sure your complaint is primarily about bureaucracy. Definitely blame Cappy or capitalism. Step three: Arbitrarily open all the trays on the side of the printers then slam them shut loudly. Sigh a lot. Step four: Wish you had gone to Wesleyan. How to take back a racist/sexist/classist/ stupid remark you made in class: I’m going to start by admitting that this might be one of the harder to disasters to survive at Vassar College. But it’s going to be okay. The first step is to take a time-out from the discussion. Imagine you said that women don’t belong in the sciences. (Whoops.) Just sit for a moment while everyone with a brain hates on you. Sorry, but you’re going to have to let it happen. Step two: Get really involved with your beverage for about 10 minutes. Move around the cap of your thermos, sip constantly, and definitely blow on it if you brought a hot drink to class. This will kill time, allowing those you offended to forget/get so annoyed that they’ll
by Kelly Stout
A delicious parents’ weekend diversion! No objections here. Raymond Ave.
was watching you eat that Pad Thai. Center 223.
9 p.m. Barefoot Monkeys Fire Show. It’s all fun and games until someone burns off an eyebrow. The Quad.
12 p.m. Intramural Softball. Team Gay Sex goes head to head against Cushing. I hate Joss for making me write that. Noyes Circle.
3 p.m. Tea. Unprotected sex isn’t funny. So I won’t make a joke about it. I definitely won’t. Rose Parlor. 5 p.m. Classics and Medieval Studies Reception. If this recruitment event doesn’t work, these departments will literally be “An Army of One.” Faculty Parlor.
3 p.m. Tea. Definitely gave up on that “go-to-gym-more” resolution. Why did I even bother trying this year? Rose Parlor.
7:30 p.m. Yom Kippur Break-Fast Dinner. You only get to go if you fasted. That means you, Miss “But-I-had-neverbeen-to-Thai-Spice-before-and-mywhole-fellow-group-was-going.” God
4:45 p.m. Fencing Practice. Can you name other ways in which Vassar is similar to a boys’ boarding school circa 1915? Walker Field House.
3 p.m. Tea. I would go to office hours more if I had actually done the reading. Rose Parlor.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
fter auditioning for the Night Owls in drag— just another day in the life—I expelled Medea, my drag alter ego, from my being, and put her back in her box on top of my wardrobe. The poor dear. We tried to get a double, but ResLife doesn’t seem to recognize Medea as an enrolled student. (Their mistake!) Anyway, my friends Maddie, Carrie, and I piled into my car—I know you’re thinking three people really shouldn’t have to pile into a four-door sedan, but then you clearly don’t know my group of friends. We made the journey down Raymond Avenue to Babycakes. Once inside, we immediately proceeded to order. Of course, our gluttony is only matched by our ability to attract super hot guys, so we decided it was of dire necessity for us to order a large side of fries to go with our delicate salads and veggie burgers. The waitress took this addition to our order with a smile on her face. When I went to pay— with Carrie’s VCard, of course—she emphatically huffed out an “uh-oh” as she swiped the card. Luckily for us, this uh-oh worked in our favor. Instead of pressing 5-0-0 and thus charging us $5 for the side of fries, our waitress, Lux as her name turned out to be, simply pressed five and then enter, effectively charging us $.05. Double Score! If Babycakes is one thing, it sure as hell is affordable...if you know how to massage the system. After we finished our lunch, the meal concluded with the realization that Carrie and Maddie had not received the iced chai lattes that they had ordered at the onset of our dining experience. And believe you me, you don’t want to see either of those girls when they don’t get their daily dose of chai. It’s messy and horrifying. Lux casually remembers that they are out of chai, and offers to bring us anything else our hearts could ever even begin to desire. Of course, all three of our minds sped to an image of Lux naked, covered in sushi with puppies kissing her toes, but we figured that was asking too much, and she’d done so much for us already. Instead, we ordered three Diet Cokes and called it a successful lunch. Next on the agenda was a trip to Starbucks. I wasn’t kidding when I said the girls get grumpy without their chai. Starbucks went smoothly enough, but the fireworks started to fly once we entered the local CVS. CVS at this time of year is a veritable playground. Halloween candy, costumes and decorations litter the aisles, and the usually sterile pharmacy setting is transformed into an enchanted Halloween Town. Ok, not so much on the magical transformation, but it’s still fun to browse. So, while the girls shopped for lady products, I tried on a few witch’s hats in an attempt to see which would best bring out my eyes. I decided on an orange and black lace showpiece that will be sure to please as Halloween draws nearer. So we go to pay, and everything goes smoothly. No cards were declined, and Carrie didn’t fight too hard against buying me pumpkin-shaped lollipops. Yum. The cashier, a lovely woman named Connie, would be taking care of us. Her eyes seemed to dance with the spirit of Halloween and her smile was as sweet as candy corn. I’m only speaking metaphorically, of course—candy corn teeth would be gross. She and I engaged in some banter as she complimented my purchase and we shared our love for the most fun-loving holiday of them all. All was going well, but then it happened. Sweet, angelic Connie made a fatal move—a tactic so gross and tactless that the very heavens momentarily wept as the following words flew from her mouth (I still maintain that she was possessed.) Connie appraised Maddie, her smile twisted upwards with glee, but there was a hint of malice in her expression as well. “I see you have picked out your Halloween costume too.” Her words were sticky sweet. The seemed to ooze from her mouth, encompassing Maddie in a paralyzing haze. Shock was the only palpable emotion in the entire CVS. Had this seemingly sweet, older woman seriously suggested that Maddie’s outfit was a Halloween costume? She had. And may this be a lesson to us all. There is something weird about Vassar Fashion.
September 24, 2009
A cappella on Vassar campus: how much is too much? Carrie Hojnicki
Assistant Arts Editor
he Villard Room was packed to its capacity and the eyes of the anxiously waiting freshmen were as bright as ever. Vassar’s eight a cappella groups could not have asked for a better arena for their Fall 2009 debut preview concert. Arriving late, I found the task of finding any seat quite daunting, let alone one that would be adequate for my journalistic observations. Finally squeezing myself onto one of the few couches in the front of the room, I anxiously waited for the melodious sounds of Vassar a cappella. The preview show began with the energetic and witty musical stylings of the all-male Accidentals, whose melodiously deep voices undoubtedly melted the hearts of many concertgoers. The Accidentals, or “Axies” for short, confidently introduced themselves as “Vassar’s premiere all male a cappella group.” The two songs they sang were probably unknown to most audience members. Apparently this was inconsequential to the audience, which manifested their enjoyment in repeated bouts of clapping and cheering. Air Cappella followed with a whistled rendition of Madonna’s ever-popular “Like a Prayer,” which included a bout of interpretive, for lack of a better word, dancing and an audience clap along. The audience, especially those who had not yet witnessed the whistling talents of Air Cappella, were eager to participate and appeared impressed. The other six groups followed with similarly high-energy performances, each succeeding in the challenge of forming an identity among such a large cluster of groups. From simply these short performances, each group showcased the genres that they typically sing: The Minstrels sang decade-transcendent pop; Broadway sang, well, Broadway; the Night Owls sang jazz; the Vastards sang modern pop; the Devils sang more decade-transcendent pop; and Measure 4 Measure sang pop with a diva spin. A cappella is an essential part of Vassar’s music culture. Eight groups feature a little over one hundred singers, meaning that roughly four percent of Vassar’s student population is involved
in a cappella. This is only taking into account the groups that performed at the preview show. Even more students participate in Premium Brew, Vassar’s all-male barbershop singing group and the newly-formed Disney a cappella group. All of this music begs the question: Is this intense a cappella presence typical in a school of only 2,500 students? Amherst College boasts a mere five a cappella groups, only one of which is secular and coed. Vassar has five groups that could be described that way. Williams College comes in with seven groups, equally divided among the categories of coed, all-male, all-female and special interest. These figures indicate that a cappella is very popular among similar institutions. But Vassar still has more than the rest mind, I can’t help but ask, has Vassar reached its a cappella quota? With hopes of finding an underlying scoop about the competition between groups, I eagerly asked this question to the a cappella leaders. To my dismay, what I found was a coalition of supportive singers and whistlers. “There’s a genuine need for a cappella at Vassar. A lot of people want to do it, so it’s great that we have a lot of groups,” said Vassar Devils pitch Julia Hanna ’12. “My group of friends at home is very musical, and a lot of them have gone off to do a cappella at other schools. Some of these other schools have one all-girls group, one allboys group and one mixed group. The goal is to get into the mixed group, and most people reaudition every year. At Vassar, your a cappella group is your family—you stay with them.” “I think the amount of a cappella groups at Vassar is fine. If there’s enough interest, then that’s great. You could see at the preview show that all of the groups bring something different,” said Air Cappella director, Sadie Burzan ’11. A lack of interest was not a problem this year. Many groups witnessed a record number of auditions. Quantity was not without quality, as several groups commented on the unprecedented talent at this year’s auditions. Outside of their audition space, each a cappella group provided their prospective members with a questionnaire asking serious questions like voice type, range, etc. and far lighter
questions such as “What is your patronus?” and “If you could be stranded on a desert island with a ’90s pop band, who would you choose?” This comedic relief came as a much-appreciated disruption to the tense audition atmosphere. Sitting outside of the audition rooms, my layman’s ears were continually impressed by the variety and strength of the musical emanations. Songs included a soulful rendition of “Let it Snow,” “If I Ain’t Got You” and even “Queen of the Night” from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” The Night Owls experienced a particularly large influx of auditions for the mere two spots they hoped to fill. “Auditions went all day long. We had a total of 60 girls try out. We saw a lot of really great talent. We were only able to take two girls, and even now we have a big group. I think this was in part based on our performance in the preview concert,” said Night Owls pitch Kristen Hautea ’10. The Night Owls found themselves with an unexpected visitor in their auditions when drag queen Medea Gilburne (also known as Mitchell Gilburne ’12) popped in to jokingly protest the group’s exclusively female composition. “It was a lot fun,” remarked Hautea with a laugh. “It was a good end to a very long day.” Despite their lack of Vassar Student Association (VSA) certification, even the newly-formed Disney A Cappella group found themselves with plenty of auditions. The group’s founders, Marya Bernosky ’12 and Amy Weintraub ’12, reported auditioning about 45 people, a figure that came as a surprise to the enthusiastic duo. “Auditions were a lot of fun,” said Weintraub. “We had a really big turnout, and we let them sing whatever they wanted in the first round. It was nice to find people at Vassar who like Disney as much as we do. This all started as singalongs with our friends. It’s nice to see how it has evolved.” Although the premise of the group Disney a cappella seems light-hearted and fresh, several other Vassar a cappella groups already have Disney songs as a part of their repertoire; in the preview show, AirCappella performed a whistled rendition of The Lion King’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Other groups, including Broadway a
cappella and Matthew’s Minstrels also report having Disney songs in their repertoires. Despite this overlap, the leadership of these groups have faith that Disney a cappella will not infringe on their musical territory. One of these leaders, Sabrina Schmidt ’10, the spring pitch for the Minstrels, encourages the founding of new groups, yet foresees several negatives to having so many groups on campus. “A cappella is a hobby for people who love music, and it’s great that these people have so many options at Vassar. When there are this many groups though, scheduling concerts becomes difficult. In that sense it’s good that the College has put limits on the number of concerts per weekend. This will definitely encourage more joint concerts,” explained Schmidt. The limits Schmidt mentions were put into place by the Office of Campus Activities this year to prevent the over-programming of a cappella concerts in a given weekend. VSA Vice President for Student Activities Aaron Grober ’11 explains this with the following: “These new limitations were a general response to overprogramming. A student who would go to an a cappella concert would obviously not go to three that are at the exact same time.” This new rule, however, is in no way an attempt to infringe on the number of groups. In fact, Grober is highly supportive of the variety and richness of Vassar a cappella. “I think it’s wonderful that we have a really great array of a cappella groups—they have great musical styles, and they all have really dedicated and diverse membership. These are groups that have massive amounts of auditions for a small number of spots. While there are a lot of groups for the size of our campus, all of their concerts draw large amounts of people,” explained Grober. When asked if the VSA would ever deny the inception of a new a cappella group, Grober asserted that if interest is strong enough, the group will be approved. “Absolutely not,” he said. “I think that if there is enough desire for them, then we should continue to accept and promote as many as we can support.”
Legendary jazz trombonist to perform in unique ensemble Erik Lorenzsonn
Courtesy of Steve Turre
teve Turre has seen his fair share of “Celebrity Jeopardy,” “Wayne’s World” and “Weekend Update” from his pulpit on the set of Saturday Night Live. The renowned trombonist has been playing with the popular sketch comedy show’s resident band since he joined in 1984. But even though his stint on the show has lasted for a quarter century, he is quick to disassociate the rest of his career from his current job. “Let’s be honest—it’s television music,” said Turre regarding his tenure with Saturday Night Live in an interview with The Miscellany News. “It’s not the same as playing with Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Art Blakey, J.J. Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Horace Silver or Max Roach.” Turre has indeed played with such marqueename musicians, among others. Tonight he will play with his own Steve Turre Sextet in Skinner Hall of Music at 8 p.m. here at Vassar as part of the fall concert season. But as always, he stresses the disparity between his music and his weekend work with SNL: “This concert has absolutely nothing to do with Saturday Night Live.” Turre explained that, as an artist, the work that one does to support oneself may be separate from one’s artistic career. “Saturday Night Live is a good job,” added Turre. “It’s fun, but more importantly it’s given me financial stability to give me the opportunity to do what I want. Some of my projects like the shell choir and the sextet don’t get me any money. I need Saturday Night Live to make ends meet artistically for me.” The shell choir, a group of musicians playing shell-based instruments, Turre mentions is one of the cornerstones of his ongoing jazz legacy. In addition to his fame as a trombonist, he is widely considered the world’s preeminent conch shell player. Turre leads a self-created ensemble called Sanctified Shells, a group comprised of brass
musicians who double up on the organic wind instruments. Turre was introduced to the conch shell by the famous jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaaan Roland Kirk. “He used to play one, two, three saxophones at once,” said Turre of Kirk. “Jethro Tull covered him. He was incredible, unique. He once picked up a shell and played a note. And it was so pretty; it was amazing. I went and got one myself.” Besides his shell choir, Turre also tours frequently with the Steve Turre Sextet. The Vassar-bound group notably features the legendary tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, as well as world-famous hand drummer Kimati Dinizulu. The latter is currently working on a contemporary jazz album with Sunny Rollins. “[Dinizulu] adds the roots to the music,” said Turre. “And it works because jazz comes from African music.” Turre greatly enjoys playing with the sextet when he gets the opportunity. He explained that in this group, he can be open to surprising moments. “I look forward to playing always, especially with my own band,” said Turre. “Maybe some unexpected things will happen. They always do, actually. Something unexpected happens every time you play. But I look forward to that moment because it makes every performance different.” Turre has notably become a jazz icon thanks not only to his music, but also to his distinctive appearance. He sports a ponytail, chin beard and wire-rimmed glasses that he wears during performances. This trademark image has become strongly associated with Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz, something that he, as a Mexican-American, has delved into greatly. In the past he has played with such Latin jazz artists as Tito Puente and Manny Oquendo, and is skilled with the maracas and the tambourine. But Latin jazz is just one of the many genres Turre is influenced by. He expressed his love for a multitude of international styles. The one ex-
Steve Turre, trombonist for the Steve Turre Sextet, is set to perform in the Skinner Hall of Music on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m in a jazz concert presented by the Vassar Department of Music. ception to this enthusiasm for musical variety, he explained, is slow jazz music. “I like authentic music, whether it’s a gospel choir, Bulgarian choir, folk music or classical music,” said Turre. “But I never listen to slow jazz. It’s like instrumental pop. It was contrived as something marketable.” When Turre is not playing for Saturday Night Live, touring with ensembles or recording, he teaches trombone and jazz classes at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School, where he frequently stresses the importance of jazz in American culture. “Jazz is America’s classical music,” said Turre. “The whole concept of an orchestra, with strings and brass? That’s Europe’s classical music. Jazz
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
is America’s music, and it’s become a worldwide phenomenon.”Turre will play songs from his latest album, Rainbow People, as part of the sextet’s concert. The smooth and moderately-paced title track will most likely open the set, followed by such pieces as “Light Within” by Billy Harper and an older hit by Turre called “Shorty.” The set will also include the song “Brother Ray,” a tribute written by Turre to the late Ray Charles. Charles was responsible for jump-starting Turre’s career by hiring him to go on tour in 1972. The Steve Turre Sextet will play tonight, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. in Skinner Hall of Music in a special Thurday evening concert presented by the Vassar Department of Music.
ARTS Page 15 Arts-filled weekend for freshman parents VCPunx starts its sophomore F year with style September 24, 2009
Rachael Borne Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
reshmen Parents Weekend comes but once a year, and Vassar seems determined to show the folks a good time. This weekend, just over a month after dropping their kids off, many parents of the Class of 2013 will make the trek back up to Poughkeepsie. Whether still adjusting to their empty nests or enjoying their newly renovated guest bedrooms, adults will undoubtedly be filling up the Alumnae House and every nearby hotel on Route 9. Parents will find this weekend packed with an agenda of various lectures and musical performances. Early birds arriving Friday can attend “A Russian Night: Music for Piano and Voice by St. Petersburg Composer Gregory Firtich” at Skinner Hall’s Mary Anna Fox Martel Recital Hall at 8 p.m. Soprano Olga Vorobyeva will accompany Firtich while he performs on piano. Although Saturday’s events begin with a healthcare panel, the real entertainment does not begin until the 1 p.m. Coed A Cappella Parents Weekend Concert in the Aula, where Matthew’s Minstrels, Vassar Devils and the Vastards will unite to perform their first real concert of the year. The groups are determined to put on a great show for this weekend’s particularly personal audience. Minstrels’ pitch Shelby Wardlaw ’10 explains why parents are a good group to perform for: “I know how excited my parents are to watch a cappella.” “We hope it’ll be a big event and showcase coed a cappella,” she added. After a cappella eases parents’ minds with music, the bookstore has a special event planned to make them think a little. Professor of English and co-Chair of the English Department Michael Joyce will read from and discuss his novel Liam’s Going. The novel, which is about a mother moving her son into college and how the event changes the family, provides apt food for thought in the context of the weekend. Joyce says, “These events can be life-changing. You’re left with yourself. You have to figure out what’s next.”
Along with other organizations and groups on campus, the Barefoot Monkeys will be hosting a Parents Weekend event. Watch their performance at 9 p.m. on the Quad this Saturday. After reading an excerpt, he will answer questions submitted by the parents at 4 p.m. in the Rose Parlor. “Something about it is very touching,” said Joyce about Parent’s Weekend. “Parents get a chance to see how life accelerated so quickly.” Considering that there will be freshman participation in several of the weekend’s events, parents will have the chance to see this phenomenon materialize before their eyes. If the presentation hits too close to home, parents can have a nice dinner with their children and come back for the Barefoot Monkeys show at 9 p.m. on the Quad. Officially titled, “NOW That’s What I Call Barefoot Monkeys Vol. 1,” the fire show will be the first of the group’s two Parent’s Weekend large-scale displays. Grand Monkey Stacey Kigner ’10 explained the title of the event in an e-mailed statement. “This time we set it to pop music in the hopes that it would help us connect with our audience more,” she said. “The parents are a great audience,” Kigner
also wrote, echoing Wardlaw’s sentiments. Kigner, however, is a bit more tense over her performance. “With the parents in attendance there is a lot of pressure to make it as good and as polished as possible because these are our parents, and we want to show off what we’ve learned here,” she said. Though she preaches fun as a motivating factor in their show, she also stresses that the Parents Weekend fire shows are painstakingly choreographed. Everyone really wishes to impress the parents. The coed a cappella concert and the Barefoot Monkeys seem lighter fare than Joyce’s discussion of his novel, but all are interconnected in the sense that these events emphasize the artfully diverse environment freshmen have so swiftly immersed themselves in. And, of course, it’s always a treat to hear “Build Me Up Buttercup,” a song in the Minstrels’ repertoire that Wardlaw deems “parent-friendly,” when it’s not being played on an oldies radio station.
Keith couples sarcasm with improvisation Matthew Bock
Courtesy of Geoff Keith
eoff Keith did not always dream of making it as a comedian. As a young man, he harbored hopes of becoming a professional basketball player, playing on the team for the University of Redlands. Then life steered him in a different direction: stand-up. “I started out doing shows anywhere and everywhere,” said comedian Geoff Keith, “AA meetings, NA meetings, coffee shops, nudist colonies, bars, clubs.” Since he started performing in 2003, Geoff Keith has rapidly worked his way up the comedy totem pole. After being noticed by a Hollywood management company, Keith quit his day job as a pizza delivery boy and began touring with renowned comedian Pablo Francisco. He made appearances on HBO, Comedy Central, BET and ABC, and in 2005 was nominated in the Orange County’s Funniest Person Contest. He makes it look easy, too. “If what you plan on doing in life doesn’t need a college degree,” said Keith, “just drop out.” On stage, Keith has an electric personality and a no-holds-barred comedic persona. When asked whether or not he ever gets stage fright, he humorously confessed, “Never. There are way more important things going on in the world than how my set goes. My set will either be awesome or bad or somewhere in between. Usually they go very well. Either way, there are still wars in the world, poverty, hunger, etc.” Perhaps it is this humility that his fans find so appealing. Keith says that the content of his performances depends on the situation, the crowd and other factors. Sometimes he uses a lot of prepared jokes, whereas other times he does mostly “crowd work.” “Crowd work is when a comic goes into the audience and does stuff with the crowd,” said Keith. “Riffing is another term for it. Basically not just doing material but doing improv with the audience.”
Comedian Geoff Keith will perform in the second floor of the Students’ Building on Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. Keith has been featured on Comedy Central, as well as other national networks. His shows usually include some blend of this improvisation and material he has previously worked on. He sarcastically tackles the topics of race, war, sexuality and family, as one of his popular bits demonstrates: “I like my family, except when I was younger I had a very creepy uncle. So when I was seven, I molested him— it was a pre-emptive strike. A little awkward at family reunions, though.” Keith admits to having been influenced by such comedians as Pablo Francisco, Dave Attell, Jay Mohr, Dave Chappelle and Jackie Mason. “They all bring something different to the table,” said Keith. Keith still enjoys playing the occasional game of basketball. “It’s still my favorite workout,” said Keith, “but it sucks because I can never pack shoes and a ball when I’m on the road and find a game. My best friend is a pro basketball player now, so it’s always nice to get my ass kicked by him when
he’s around.” ViCE Special Events organized Keith’s visit on the basis that Vassar students will likely find his humor relatable. “I think Geoff is going to go over really well with our student body,” said ViCE Coordinator of Events Allie St. Jules ‘11, “This is our first special event of the year, so we’re really excited and we hope to see a huge turnout on Friday.” Vassar’s own comedy community, which consists of several sketch-comedy groups and an improvisation group, seems to give Keith’s work two thumbs up. Samuel Caravaglia ’12, member of Vassar Improv, said, “Keith is really funny. He also seems like an all-around stand-up guy. He talks like a bro.” Keith sums up his relaxed, crowd-centered stage presence with the following: “I just try to have as much fun on stage as possible and I hope the crowd comes with me,” he said. He will be performing in the second floor of the Students’ Building this Friday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
o many extreme music aficionados on campus, VCPunx represents an attitude, a community and a desire to open minds to a type of music otherwise unrepresented on campus. According to frontmen Andres Gutierrez ’10 and Hassan Sakhtah ’10, VCPunx is an organization about “doing things for yourself.” There is no doubt that VCPunx have been getting stuff done. Since the group’s infancy last fall, VCPunx has garnered vast membership and increased funding. Everyone involved is enthusiastic about providing an outlet for hardcore, punk, metal, grindcore and other extreme music genres on campus. Never heard of doom metal, death metal or speed metal? This is precisely why VCPunx exists. Both Gutierrez and Sakhtah have high hopes for the future of VCPunx. The two are interested in organizing some “Punk Rock Pilgrimages” into Poughkeepsie and New York City. Sahktah would also like to cultivate a punk rock and extreme music library, a private collection that would contain an archive of the group’s favorite CDs and records in a designated VCPunx space. Both Gutierrez and Sahktah also mentioned the club hosting “punk rock screenings” where zombie flicks and extreme music documentaries would be shown. However, the group’s emphasis is on the music. The group’s first show of the year, The VCPunx Showcase, will showcase the talent of four Vassar bands, all of which “are oriented around an amp and don’t rely exclusively on a laptop,” said Gutierrez. According to lead vocalist and guitar player Calamity Sam (Samuel Caravaglia ’12), Bathtub Sailors will bring “lots of fun and movement” to the show. Other members of this indierock band include Katie Lau ’12 (guitar), Jared Kaner ’11 (drums) and James Logue ’12 (bass). Predominately influenced by bands such as Televison, Pavement and Bathtub Sailors play songs about “jealousy, longing, betrayal, friendships torn and love gone bad,” said Caravaglia. He added that the audience should be prepared to “dance and shake [their] bodies” to a playful, intimate and heartwarming set. Sir Saturn and the Neptones will also be a part of Saturday’s lineup. Reminiscent of a big surf band, the group includes eight Vassar students from the classes of 2010 and 2012. Major influences on the band include Dick Dale, whom frontman Raphael Radna ’12 describes as “the king of surf rock,” and The Beach Boys, “but more bluesy and faster guitar,” explained Radna. Sir Saturn plays mostly covers of late ’50s and ’60s instrumental surf rock songs. Radna sees surf rock as a father figure to punk rock. “Surf fell totally outside of mainstream society’s notions of acceptable music back in the day,” wrote Radna in an e-mailed statement. “When Dick Dale started to play surf guitar in Pasadena in the early ’60s, the city wouldn’t grant permits for rock and roll concerts. Such gatherings of teenagers were seen as licentious and inappropriate.” For a funk and blues sound, look no further than Giant Man Band, made up of seven Vassar students. “I think we sound a lot like Cake because of our horns,” said Alden Lowe ’10, the band’s guitarist and vocalist. As far as the atmosphere is concerned, the band will bring “dancing tunes.” “If the crowd wants to move, they’ll be moving,” said Lowe. Facts and Figures will add “inventive yet accessible indie-rock with a sax-y twist” to the show, according to guitarist and vocalist Benjamin Conant ’12 “We play what some have described as ‘econ-rock,’ and others have described as ‘nothing like ‘Econ-rock,” said Conant. “What does ‘Econ-rock’ even mean? Those guys are nuts.” The band includes five members of the classes of 2012 and 2013, and they plan on drawing out a hardcore vibe to give the audience something to jump up and down to. The showcase will take place on Sept. 26 in the College Center MPR at 8 p.m.
ARTS September 24, 2009 Indecent Exposure aims to include all in upcoming shows Page 16
his weekend, indecent exposure won’t just be witnessed in Matthew’s Mug on Saturday night; in fact, Vassar’s all-female comedy group, Indecent Exposure, will be hosting a stand-up comedy performance entitled “Indecent Exposure Presents…” as well as an open comedy show called “SpaghettIE Theater.” In “Indecent Exposure Presents…” members of the group will perform alongside various members of the Vassar community, as well as students from other comedy groups; in “SpaghettIE Theater,” students are encouraged to write and/or perform their own original comedy pieces. “We wanted to give other people the opportunity to do stand-up,” says Molly Cahen ’10, president of Indecent Exposure, about “Indecent Exposure Presents…” A large part of the appeal of this show is that their group is the only comedy group on campus that performs stand-up. “We’re inviting members of other comedy groups, students on our mailing list, things like that,” she says. “Basically anyone who’s brave enough to commit themselves to it,” she concludes. “I know a big feature of the show last year was that the rugby coach, Tony Brown, performed stand up,” Cahen adds. He has been invited again and has expressed interest, according to the group, but has yet to make any promises.
Part of what prompted the event’s inception last year was the group’s need to expand and generate more interest. Due to some members studying abroad for a semester and others graduating, the group had only two returning members out of a group usually eight or nine strong. Opening the event up to others such as Brown who showed interest was partially “to have enough people to fill up the line-up,” says Cahen with an embarrassed smile, “but we thought that it was a really cool idea, so now we’re doing it again.” Cahen was one of the members abroad last semester, and while she is still unsure of whether or not she is participating this time around, she is excited for the event this year. For many of its members, Indecent Exposure has become an important part of their comedic growth at Vassar. Ruth Sawyer ’10, who joined the group midway through her freshman year, has found the comedy group to be an essential part of her life at Vassar. “It’s become one of the most important things I do here,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “The group has pushed me and supported me in so many important ways.” While Sawyer is unable to participate in the show this year, she is no stranger to performing and creating a routine for a show. “It just takes a little bit of time,” she says. “You start with something funny, and then other funny things pop into your head, and then you organize them a bit
and make them even funnier,” she concludes. Samantha Leonard ’11, who has been a member of the group for about a year, will be performing in this event for the first time. However, while she knows that she is performing, she still isn’t entirely sure what direction she will take. “It’s in transit at the moment,” she says of her routine. “I haven’t done a lot of stand-up, so I’m still figuring out the nitty-grittyness of writing pieces.” Indecent Exposure was founded around a decade ago because “some women felt that there weren’t enough spaces for female comedians on campus,” Cahen explains. “All the other groups didn’t have very many women, or the women in those groups were playing very pigeon-holed roles—like the secretary or the mother.” “I wanted to join because I wanted to be part of an alternate space for performance and comedy, and I wanted also to be part of making space for women in comedy,” Leonard explains. Sawyer agreed, adding, “I love sitting around with everybody and laughing, which is what we spend a great deal of time doing.” Cahen, who joined the group her sophomore year, felt that during her freshman year she was unsure of her understanding of the different groups on campus, and consequently did not audition for many of the groups. However, after attending an Indecent Exposure show, she decided it might be the right fit. “I didn’t really have any experi-
ence, but I thought it seemed like something I would enjoy doing and something that I could do, so I auditioned and got in,” she says happily. Indecent Exposure will also host an event called “SpaghettIE Theater,” which is also open to anyone who wants to perform. However, unlike “Indecent Exposure Presents…” “SphagettIE Theater” will not require a set line-up beforehand, thereby encouraging a much more impromptu atmosphere. “We’re inviting anyone who wants to come a half an hour before the performance starts, and they can write something, and we’ll perform it. Or they can write something and bring a group of friends and perform it, and it can be anything from a sketch, to a monologue, to a song,” Cahen explains. “SpaghettIE Theater is a great opportunity to write your own stuff, do some stand-up and perform too,” adds Sawyer. “I think that it’s a cool opportunity for members of the community to do, and it’s something that’s a really scary thing to do in the real world,” Cahen concludes. “I’ve done stand up before, and it’s always a positive environment.” “Indecent Exposure Presents…” will take place on Friday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. in Sanders Classroom, and “SpaghettIE Theater” will be on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 10 p.m. in 200 Rockafeller Hall (those who want to perform should be at Rocky by 9:30 p.m.). Both events are coed.
Kozlark has hands full with multidisciplinary pursuits Tatiana Collet-Apraxine
tudents often try to put a lot on their plate when it comes to extracurriculars and academics at Vassar. Succeeding in not only finding a balance of activities, but excelling in all of them, is a rare accomplishment. Kathryn Kozlark ’11 is one of these rare and accomplished artists who seems to find it natural to mix acting, directing, producing, singing and academics without breaking a sweat. Only at the beginning her junior year, Kozlark’s diligence and determination have caused her peers to consider her a professional. As a freshman, she joined one of Vassar’s two allfemale a cappella groups, Measure 4 Measure, and is now one of the two musical directors. She is in charge of the CD sales and has successfully arranged several songs for their repertoire. Some of the songs she performs include “God Only Knows,” by The Beach Boys, and “I Want to Break Free,” by Quee. As a freshman, Kozlark felt overwhelmed by the transition from high school to college and found salvation in Measure 4 Measure. “I hate change, and that is why I wanted to get involved right away in a more stable environment, like Measure 4 Measure or student theater,” said Kozlark. “I found second families there.” In addition to her role in Measure 4 Measure, Kozlark is currently serving her third year on the board of Philaletheis, where she has served as production director and is currently executive manager. She was elected as the group’s freshman representative when she arrived at Vassar and immediately fell in love with student theater. Since then, she has coordinated, organized and encouraged student participation with Philaletheis. Kozlark has performed in numerous student and department productions, including musicals as well as non-musical productions. Last year, she appeared in the Drama Department’s musical production of “First Lady Suite” as Mamie Eisenhower, and in “Fighting from Never / Land: A badass production,” written by Julianna Allen ’09, as the play’s main character, Peter Pan. Her other Vassar theater appearances include a department production of “Merrily We Roll Along” and the Future Waitstaff of America’s (FWA) production of “Assassins.” A role she remembers especially fondly from
last year’s production of the independent play “Boston Marriage,” is the Victorian-era socialite Anna. “I’ve played a lot of diverse roles here,” said Kozlark, “and one of my favorites was Anna. She’s so sharp, smart and caustic.” As if acting and singing with such dedication were not enough, Kozlark has also discovered a passion for directing at Vassar. Last fall, she directed “Art,” written by Yasmina Reza, through Philaletheis, and will again direct for Philaletheis this semester with the challenging and rich Sarah Kane play “Crave.” Kozlark fondly remembers her first directing experience with “Art” as it allowed her to create powerful bonds with both the cast and the crew and to explore different creative areas of theater. Kozlark’s artistry has reached beyond the campus of Vassar College. She spent the summer following her freshman year as an apprentice at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. This past summer, Kozlark also pursued her theatrical passions as an intern at the prestigious American Repertory Theatre (ART), affiliated with Harvard University, as the assistant of ART’s Artistic Director Diane Paulus. She will also participate in the annual theatre festival “Under the Radar” which is held in New York every January and fosters emerging artists. She will intern there as an assistant to producers Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang. Amanda Culp ’09 recalls her friend as an individual with a lot of drive. “Kathryn Kozlark is one of the most driven, determined people I met in my four years at Vassar,” said Culp. “She is one of those rare people who arrived at college knowing exactly what she wanted to do, and began pursuing that desire at full speed the second she set foot on campus.” Kozlark pictures her future as a combination of acting, directing and producing—hopefully doing “everything at once.” She is currently considering graduate school and residing in either New York City or Chicago, as the starting point for her passion to flourish professionally. As a true leader in Vassar’s art community, Kozlark is looked to admirably by her peers. Kozlark claims that her time at Vassar has helped her many interests grow. “I feel like Vassar has such a vibrant theater community,” said Kozlark. “I am proud to be part of it.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
September 24, 2009
The Informant! an exploration of psyche The Informnt! Steven Soderbergh [Warner Brothers]
ark Whitacre does not look like an FBI informant. The slightly chubby and mustached workaholic doesn’t fit the Hollywood archetype of a paranoid mobster who rats out his pals, or a sexy undercover agent taking out a crime syndicate from the inside. But the white-collar executive from Illinois in Steven Soderbergh’s new film The Informant! is full of surprises. He wears a wire, taps phone conversations and videotapes secret meetings to catch higher-ups at agricultural conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) fixing global prices. But although The Informant! is based on a true story, this is not a black-and-white aggrandizing biopic. Whitacre is a most perplexing man. Sure, on the whole he seems like a decent chap. He has a loving wife and family, an amiable personality, and enough of a guilty conscience to inform the FBI about corporate malfeasance. But as nice of a man as he is, there are discrepancies in his character. He lies repeatedly, even when it’s unnecessary to do so. He spontaneously acts illogically and in ways that could very well endanger himself and his mission. And even though he works with the government to stop price-fixing, it soon becomes apparent that he might be involved in dirty dealings himself. A solid corporate crime drama is one half of The Informant!; figuring out what exactly the deal is with this guy is the other. ADM and Mark Whitacre may be familiar to those who know corporate scandal from the early ’90s. For those who aren’t so learned (such as myself), this tale of capi-
talist skullduggery makes for a ripping cinematic yarn. The movie begins with Whitacre (Matt Damon, who gained thirty pounds to play the role) working at ADM as BioProducts Division President. He is in the process of investigating a virus stymieing the production of the food additive lysine, when he is informed by a rival company that they have a mole working at ADM who is contaminating the product. The FBI is brought into the picture to work with Whitacre to prevent extortion. But when his wife (Melanie Lynskey) goads him into emptying his conscience, Whitacre informs Agent Brian Shepard (Scott Bakula) that far more is going on than extortion at ADM. It turns out the conglomerate has been working with other companies around the globe in a price-fixing scheme. Before he knows it, the agent convinces Whitacre to become an undercover informant for the feds. Whitacre is so memorable in the movie, not because of his undercover work but rather because his character is so realistic. There is a uniquely diegetic narration in The Informant!, a combination of Whitacre’s absent-minded wonderings and actual commentary. This stream-of-consciousness is too hilariously relatable. There is a scene where Whitacre gets out of Shepard’s car after divulging the fact that ADM fixes its prices, and watches the agent drive away. All the while, his disembodied voice intones: “I hope he doesn’t mind my calling him Brian instead of Agent Shepard. I might try ‘Bri’ out. I can see us going fishing. He’s a good listener. Those are rare to find.” Another favorite of mine, as the plot has thickened and Whitacre faces possible federal indictment: “I like to floss in the shower while the conditioner sets in. It adds up to significant time savings.”
It is the kind of commentary that you laugh with, not at. How human to think about the little meaningless details that we subconsciously deem important, such as flossing teeth while in the shower. It made me very happy that Soderbergh did not try to “midwestern-ize” Whitacre a la Fargo. The characters from the Coen Brothers’ movie embodied northern culture almost to the point of caricature, and you ended up laughing at their silly yet alienating accents and customs. Whitacre is much more believable. You can certainly tell he is an Illinoisan, but there is never any need to pepper his speech with nasalized a’s and “you betchas.” But of course this relatability is problematized by the unraveling of Whitacre’s web of lies and inconsistency. The big doozy comes when it is discovered that Whitacre may be an embezzler of company funds. What does this imply about his character? He can’t quite be called an unreliable narrator because whether what he does is “narration” per se is questionable. Nevertheless, the juxtaposition of his innocent inner monologue and suspect action is jarring. Even when a possible explanation for the discrepancies are revealed, it is hard to watch such a seemingly-nice guy morph into a miscreant. The Informant! does a lot of things right besides Matt Damon’s portrayal of Whitacre, but without him the movie would have been half as good. Soderbergh, who also directed the Ocean’s Eleven movies and Traffic, knew what he was doing when he framed the movie around Whitacre’s intriguing psyche. Leave it to documentaries and Sixty Minutes to tell stories about the epic nihilism of corrupt CEOs. This movie tells the story of a troubled man caught in the middle of it all. —Erik Lorenzsonn ’12 is writing a bi-weekly column on movies and their meanings. He is the Arts Editor.
Directing workshops thoughtful, farcical Esther Clowney
t’s 7:50 p.m. when we arrive to the Shiva Theater. Callie, my female companion, makes small talk with a frightened girl. The house is abuzz with chatter. Someone keeps asking if this is the Shiva Rave. 7:58 p.m.: Two Drama 102 sightings. There are so many people here that some are sitting on the floor. 8:00 p.m.: We are asked to avoid text messaging during the performance. How will I live blog? A new crop of directors made their Vassar theater debut on Thursday, presenting six one-act plays in front of a full house. “This is better than the Shiva Rave!” I heard an audience member remark, perhaps the same one who was asking about the rave before. Later on when a production utilized glowsticks and Justice music, I couldn’t help but think back to that quote. The annual Philaletheis Directing Workshops are remarkable for giving many younger students and those new to student theater the chance to gain experience and the opportunity to direct for Vassar’s oldest student organization, the drama group Philaletheis. In comparison with a regular Philaletheis production, the Directing Workshops pose only a small time commitment. The point is to allow fresh acting and directing talent to simply dip their toes into the theatrical pool. All rehearsing takes place in the two weeks before the short plays are performed over the course of two nights, each night delivering its own batch of dramatic goods. “On a Particle of Dust,” written and directed by Daniel Rajunov ’12, stood out for its originality of vision. Rajunov anthropo-
morphized sub-atomic particles to create a commentary on the (in)significance of human life. Jenel Moliere ’12 and Annabeth Carroll ’12 touched hearts as a thought-provoking electron, which was also where the glow sticks came into play. It’s like the Buddha says, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” The most controversial act of the night was the Facebook-inspired comedy, “Face-
The actors went six innings with zero error, and they did it with spunk. book,” written, directed and titled by Lia Dykstra ’12. In the play, An over-excitable young lady (Faren Tang ’13) gets the wrong message when a dork, played by Daniel Gilberg ’10, decides to “poke” all of his Facebook friends. She asks him out on a date and spends all week preparing for it, spurred on, according to the sweater-vested on-stage narrator, by estrogen. The boy, meanwhile, plays video games. The sketch definitely entertained the audience, but I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief that a girl who appears to be reading Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis would ever accept an invitation to a Transformers movie. Maybe Vassar isn’t as uniformly repelled by heteronormativity as
you might think. Gilad Thaler ’13 directed a scene from the “The Dining Room,” by A.R. Gurney. Comedies of manners like this one, about the ironies and constraints of WASP culture, seem popular at Vassar. Thaler brought the script to life with lively stage direction, turning a table into a therapy couch and bouncing his actors around the stage. The evening began with dialogues between two sets of women: “Watermelon Boats,” directed by Violet Edelman ’12, jumps between the same girls as elementary-school kids and as young adults who are trying to puzzle their way through issues of sexuality; “Dinner with Friends,” directed by Hannah Ehrenberg ’13, was a dramatic piece about the forces behind the destruction of two marriages. Hint: It’s not the gays. Sophomore Isabella Batts wrote and directed “At Least a Place to Visit,” a drama about the importance of visiting family and, most of all, the importance of leaving. Charlie, the main character is surprised when his mother shows up at his apartment. He is even more surprised when he finds out that she has to stay due to the foreclosure of her home. I was overcome with a palpable feeling of guilt after Charlie refused his mother’s gift of a washbasin, protesting (fairly) “I already have a sink!” It felt like the Christmas when my Grandma gave me a battery organizer. Day two of the Philaletheis Directing Workshops was still to come, with a new round of directors and plays. Thursday’s show was very well produced, going off without a hitch, and the actors were well prepared, going six innings with zero errors. More importantly, they did it with spunk.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“The XX. They’re great.”
Joseph Redwood Martinez ’11
“The Decemberists. Live. In New Jersey. I just got back.”
Evan Ross ’12 “I listened to classical music last night while I was studying. It helped drown out the noise my neighbor was making.”
Emily Beer ’12
“There’s a German concert that I’m going to. It’s Sebastian Krumbiegel from Die Prinzen.”
Scott Cloverfield ’13
“Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. ‘I’m so co-oh-oh-ohoh-oh-ld.’”
Gretchen Eng ’12
“Honestly? Vintage Dave Matthew’s Band.”
Katie Interlichia ’11 —Carrie Hojnicki, Assistant Arts Editor
September 24, 2009
Sports Briefs Men’s tennis defeats NYU 9-0, advances to finals in Middlebury tournament
Jonathan Erickson, breaking sound barriers Mitchell Gilburne
Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News
he first cross country race of the season saw sweltering heat and an admirable performance from the Brewers. A triumph of 27 points, an accumulation of top place finishes, was in no small part due to the impressive efforts of Jonathan Erickson ’11. Erickson and the State University of New York at New Paltz’s Joe Gentsch were locked in a bitter stalemate for the majority of the final lap around the Vassar Farm course. Tension built as the two athletes thundered into the straightaway for the finish, and in an exemplary show of physical prowess, Erickson managed to finish with a time of 20:26, nabbing an impressive second place finish behind Gentsch. Followed by a deluge of grey and maroon, Erickson led the Brewers to a decisive victory. Vassar finished with nine runners in the top 15 slots, an inspiring achievement that set the tone for the rest of the season. Hailing from Louisville, Ky., Erickson enters his third year of running cross country for Vassar College with two second place finishes already under his belt this season. After humble beginnings at his small high school, Erickson began running for the Brewers during the fall of his freshman year and maintains contact with many of his former teammates. While in high school at DuPont Manual, Erickson earned Academic All-State honors during the 2006 and 2007 season. To this day, Erickson holds the record at DuPort Manuel in the 800 meter. He capped off his senior year as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Class AAA Indoor and Outdoor State Champion in the 800m. At Vassar, Erickson qualified for the ECAC Division III Championship in both 2008 and 2009. He currently holds the Vas-
sar College record in the 800 meter run and the 4x400 meter relay Erickson draws much of his inspiration for running from the example set by the seniors who were on the team during his first and most formative athletic year as a freshman on the Vassar squad. “When I got here, the seniors gave me a foundation for keeping a level head,” as he recalled the perils of stress fractures during his first season. Furthermore, he was suprised by the demanding practice schedule maintained by the team and took time acclimating to the new environment. As always, Erickson draws upon the example set by previous upperclassmen to inspire and excite the next generation of Brewers. Erickson’s committment to running extends beyond the athletic teams. He is currently president of RunVassar, a VSA organization dedicated to encouraging the Vassar and Poughkeepsie communities to stay active by running in the area and suggesting trails and routes to run on. Last year, Erickson served as the Vice President of the group. As a member of the coaching staff and an active participant, he played a key role in planning for the annual Founder’s Day Fun Run. As captain and the sole representative of the Class of 2011 on the men’s cross country team, Erickson has seen the team grow from a small troupe of four runners unable to qualify for competition into a thriving machine looking down the barrel of what promises to be an extremely successful season. Again, Erickson looks to the work and dedication of Brewers past when assigning responsibility for the evolution of the team, and delightedly adds that, “With greater numbers comes more competition.” Erickson tempers his excitement for competition with the sobering memories
Jonathan Erickson ’11 will serve as captain of the men’s cross country team this year. of a year spent injured. Out of commission for the Fall 2008 season, Erickson has now been able to channel the frustration of impairment into a fine tuned focus. Erickson looks to the future with a eye towards the past. Looking at every race as an opportunity to rethink the way he runs, Erickson is no doubt on the fast track to first place.
oving back and forth between the Joss Tennis Courts and the Walker Field House Athletic Bays, the Men’s tennis team managed to sweep New York University on Wednesday, September 16. Three new doubles couplings, including a freshman duo, managed to win each of their respective matches. In No. 1 singles play, senior Michael Mattelson swiftly demanded a 7-5, 6-2 victory over NYU’s Patrick Whitner. The win was particularly exciting considering that Mattelson had fallen to Whitner last season during the ITA finals. The 9-0 win against NYU was Vassar’s 4th in a row against their seasonal rival. The victory was a great start to the season, and the team’s relentless energy was evident as the doubles team of juniors Greg Katz and Joshua Jasso advanced to the B flight finals of the Middlebury Invitational on Sunday, September 20. The team as a whole built upon their previous victory as indivuals advanced to competitive rounds of the prestigious Middlebury Invitational.
Women’s volleyball remains undefeated
n the afternoon of Saturday Septmber 19, the women’s volleyball team tallied two victories against Liberty League rivals Skidmore and Union College. Their impressive play led them to claim the title at the Union College Invitational. Freshman hitter Chloe McGuire garnered back to back double figure kills and freshman setter Hilary Koenigs had over 30 assists in each match. Defensively, senior Chelsea Mottern had 17 digs. Through an incredible combination of aces, blocks and kills, the team remained undefeated on the season. —Lillian Reuman, Sports Editor
Sports violence: often overblown, taken out of context Nik Trkulja
nregulated violence in sports has long been scorned, often viewed as the worst possible thing that could happen. For as long as I can remember, everybody has treated arguments with referees, in-game tussles and postgame fights as almost sacrilegious no matter what the sport is (except maybe in ice hockey). But is such a reaction reasonable considering the preparation of our athletes and the pressure we put on them? Are we just being hypocritical for the sake of being politically correct and feeling good about ourselves? Consider NCAA Division I Football’s latest addition: the pregame handshake. Prior to the start of this season, the American Football Coaches Association (ACFA) and the NCAA encouraged teams to shake hands before the start of games so as to promote sportsmanship. A very noble move right? Well yes, if we were talking about a curling match, but this is a football game. These players practice all week for the chance to break each other’s bones and beat the other team like they are punching bags. In fact, most teams are qualitatively assessed according to how well they do exactly that. To suddenly pretend that following their handshakes these kids are going to do anything other than try to cut each other to bits is simply laughable. It’s the equivalent of imagining that following a good session of pummeling each other, players could walk off the field holding hands and laughing about the experience. The true absurdity of the activity was clearly visible during the first nationally televised game of the season between University of Oregon and Boise State University on Sept. 3. Following what can only be described as one of the most awkward group handshakes in sports history, the two teams took to the field for the ritual that is football. Sixty minutes of bone-crunching tackles
and complimentary taunts later, the thrilling game ended with Boise State winning by a hair’s breadth. As the players then proceeded to leave the field, the cameras focused in on Boise State’s Byron Hout who had a few “choice words” for his opponents. Before anyone knew what had happened, Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount suddenly appeared from behind Hout and punched him straight in the jaw, even knocking out one of his teeth in front of a “shocked” national audience. I say “shocked” because that’s the way sports writers and analysts portrayed us. The way the event was described, replayed on our TV sets again and again in slow motion, made it seem as if Blount had somehow taken away our innocence and ruined what was otherwise such a pristine game. Retribution was demanded and was swiftly applied as Oregon, under national pressure to seem disciplinarian, suspended Blount, its single season record holder for most touchdowns, for the rest of his senior season. For this, Oregon received praise from all the media outlets, who were happy to see an end to such violent and disturbing behavior, even if it meant that Blount’s college career was over. But it was his own fault, right? Wrong. I disagree with that viewpoint immensely. If Blount had knocked out one of Hout’s teeth by stiff arming him on his way for a touchdown, we probably would have seen that play repeated again and again on Sportscenter and described it as unfortunate for Hout but nevertheless amazing. The violence isn’t shocking; it’s the nature of football, easily one of the most physical sports out there. We are accustomed to that violence, and we love it— that’s why we watch the games, and that’s why we cheer every time there is a particularly nasty tackle that takes place. How can we possibly think that these players are suddenly okay with their loss and that they’ve gotten over it just after the referee blew his fi-
nal whistle? Emotions are obviously still high, especially for a game where the players were under such pressure. The fact that just one of them blew his gasket is actually slightly surprising to me, and it says a lot about the selfcontrol of all those others. But his coaches and fans need to understand the circumstances of what happened before taking reactions so far. Consider again Serena Williams’ recent Sept. 13 outburst in her U.S. Open semifinal match against Kim Clijsters. Down one set and losing 6-5 in the second with Clijsters leading 30-15 in the game, Williams faulted her first serve and then was called for a foot fault on her second serve, setting up two match points for Clijsters. In a reaction that instantly become infamous, Williams turned around to the diminutive line judge and described a little too graphically what she was going to do to her with the tennis ball in her hand. Again retribution was swift, as the line judge complained to the main official, who then called the tournament referee. Williams received a penalty of one point for her outburst, as she had previously been warned in the match. The result was that Clijsters got the win. But what was different this time was the reaction of the pundits who scrutinized the proceedings. In the case of Blount, all were “shocked” and “mortified.” Now with Williams, there were suddenly people on her side. Her most notable ally was John McEnroe, Mr. Outburst himself, the world’s former No. 1 professional tennis player known for his rude remarks to referees during Wimbeldon 1981. He made a great point that the call was simply unnecessary. Williams was losing in a huge match, against an unranked opponent who hadn’t played major competitive tennis for two years, and the pressure certainly was on. To then have a foot fault called on her at such a crucial point was unbelievable, especially considering how rare a call like that is. Under-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
standing fully the circumstances of the call, McEnroe and others on Williams’ side were able to understand the intensity of Williams’ reaction and judge it accordingly as opposed to over dramatizing it as some sort of incredibly disgusting moment in sports history. It’s not that I think Williams’ actions, or Blount’s for that matter, were warranted and excusable and so shouldn’t be punished. They should be. But that’s where the discussion should end, because blowing Serena’s reaction and Blount’s punch out of all proportions is unnecessary and quite frankly stupid. These people weren’t sitting on a sofa watching the events unfold. No, they were taking part in them and were physically and emotionally invested in their relative matches in ways we as mere fans cannot understand. To expect them always to keep their cool and never overreact is nonsensical, because we don’t even expect that of ourselves. That, however, doesn’t mean we should allow major infractions like those mentioned to go by unnoticed. Rather, we should understand the circumstances under which they came about instead of just forgetting the initial context. When violent acts occur during sporting events, they aren’t pretty, but they aren’t born out of nothing. They are a product of the competitive spirit of the athletes involved and the pressures that they are under when they compete. We, as fans, have to understand the concept of competition before we overreact and interpret these events as athletic doomsdays, when, in reality, they are just human reactions. In turn, we can’t possibly expect perfect sportsmanship all the time, and in many cases we shouldn’t be too surprised when we don’t get it. What we should do is react accordingly to situations and not in ways that do nothing but sensationalize a human weakness. After all, we all understand that we’re just human, right?
September 24, 2009
Men’s soccer prepares for League games Elizabeth Pacheco
Madeline Zappala for The Miscellany News
or the Vassar men’s soccer team, the first three weeks of the 2009 season can be described as nothing short of exciting. Over the course of seven games, the team has seen some solid wins, a tough loss to No. 2 ranked Stevens Institute of Technology, a comeback to defeat local rival the State University of New York at New Paltz, and most recently, a tough-fought overtime win this past weekend over Drew University. But the true tests of the season have not begun as this weekend marks the beginning of Liberty League competition for the Brewers. Since joining the League in 2002, Vassar has only made one appearance in the Liberty League Championship match held at the end of the regular season, and according to Head Coach Andy Jennings, achieving this again is the team’s top goal. What do the Brewers need to do to succeed? Jennings explained that “it will come down to avoiding mistakes and hoping we can capitalize on our moments of good play or moments of good luck. That will be the same for most of the teams in the League.” The Liberty League is one of the most competitive leagues in the country for men’s soccer, as well as many other sports. Hobart College entered the season ranked No. 12 and last year advanced to the third round of the national tournament. St. Lawrence University isn’t far behind. They were League Champions in 2008 and lost only in the second round of the national tournament. As co-captain Jake London ’10 explains, “every League game is a challenge and just as crucial.” The team’s overtime win this past Sunday, Sept. 20, looked to be an ideal warm-up for League play. Drew went up 1-0 early in the second half, but the Brewers rallied to tie up the score with only four minutes left in regula-
eginning in the 2011-2012 academic year, the Liberty League, Vassar’s athletic conference, will welcome two new schools into the mix. Bard College and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will replace Hamilton College, who is joining the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), starting in that year. The League currently features nine full time members: Clarkson and St. Lawrence Universities, Hamilton, Hobart/William Smith, Skidmore, Union, and Vassar Colleges, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the University of Rochester. Bard joins the Liberty League from the Skyline conference, while RIT currently competes in the Empire 8. The addition of Bard is particularly important to Vassar’s teams. Bard is located in Annandale-on-Hudson, less than 24 miles from Vassar. This addition will reduce the distance that Vassar teams must travel. Due to the proximity of the two schools, Vassar and Bard may be set to develop one of the stronger rivalries, within a conference that already encourages rivals among schools that are phsyically so close to one another. Right now, Vassar is often seen as a bit of an odd man out in Liberty League travel. Union College in Schenectady, 78 miles from Vassar, is currently the closest rival institution. Hamilton College is located 182 miles from Vassar. Still, it’s not all good news for Vassar in the travel department, as incoming RIT is located 300 miles away.
SEPT. 19 WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL VASSAR COLLEGE
Friday, sept. 25 women’s soccer vs. william smith 4 p.m.
Junior Jimmy Worboys gives a hard kick at the men’s soccer game against Drew University last Sunday, Sept. 20. The Brewers won the game with 6:22 left in the second overtime. tion time. The true test then came in the two periods of overtime. “In the past, I don’t think we would’ve come back to win that game,” said co-captain Brian Bianchetti ’10, who scored the game-winning goal (his second of the game) in the second overtime. “But we showed heart [in this game]. This season we have just shown a killer instinct to put teams away.” This early success is something Jennings has related back to the team’s depth. With 13 freshmen and one sophomore adding to a team of 11 returning players, the Brewers have a vital combination of both veteran experience and fresh talent. “It is the deepest squad I have ever had here and the commitment is very good,” said Jennings. “This depth pushes everyone, and I think we are developing a good, unselfish attitude.”
London and Bianchetti have also both attributed the successful start of their season to their coaches. “Continuity and coaching staff has helped have a serious impact on the development of the team,” said London. Bianchetti continued remarking that they have “really showed a new sense of synergy between coaching staff and players.” Although the team will begin their League schedule on the road against Hobart and Hamilton College this weekend, they’ll return home for two weeks to four games, two of them against League opponents Union and Skidmore College. And while the team will certainly be facing formidable opponents, judging by these first few weeks of play, the Brewers seem destined for a successful season this fall.
Bard College and RIT join Liberty League Andy Marmer
Sept. 24 - SEPT. 31
Meanwhile, several schools in the League already enjoy the convenience and rivalry that come with nearby competitors. Clarkson and St. Lawrence are located just 10 miles apart, while, Union and RPI are just 15 miles apart. Also, both Union and RPI are within 25 miles of Skidmore. Rochester will also benefit from the additions, as RIT is located only three miles from the University of Rochester. Due to their relative proximities, the schools have developed small rivalries within the conference. In the past, Vassar has been somewhat excluded from these relationships due to physical distance. Bard will take over as the smallest school in the conference with its 1,800 undergraduate students. In comparison, Union enrolls 2,000 students, while Vassar enrolls approximately 2,500. RIT’s enrollment in the conference is also noteworthy given that it has over 12,000 undergraduates—four times as many as any other Liberty League institution. Although the physical proximity between schools is narrowing, the size discrepancy between institutions may prove to be a key factor in which programs will ultimately dominate the championships. In a press release on the Liberty League website, both newly-admitted schools praised the Liberty League for its decision. “Bard College enthusiastically accepts the invitation to join the Liberty League. We believe that the Liberty League schools mix academic and athletic excellence in the right proportions,” said Dr. James Brudvig, Vice President for Administra-
SEPT. 20 MEN’S SOCCER DREW AT UNIVERSITY
tion at Bard College. RIT’s administration expressed a similar viewpoint. “The acceptance into the Liberty League for all of our Division III sports is wonderful news on the campus, particularly for our scholar athletes,” said RIT President Dr. Bill Destler. “RIT fits in very well with the intercollegiate athletic philosophy of the other Liberty League institutions.” Both athletic directors expressed similar sentiments to their school administration. “We’re delighted to welcome Bard and RIT into the Liberty League,” said Jim McLaughlin, director of athletics at Union and league president in his official article on the NCAA website. The change in conferences is likely to build on a growing rivalry. If the annual invasion of the Bard pirates is any indication, many of Bard’s athletes will be fired up to play the Brewers. Athletically, Vassar and Bard have competed frequently in non-league, preseason play over the years in large part due to the short distance between them. On Sept. 16, Vassar defeated Bard 3-1 in men’s soccer in a game at Bard. Last year, the men’s soccer team defeated the Bard College Raptors 5-0 at Vassar. The women’s volleyball team will face Bard Oct. 17 in Newburgh, and Vassar also faces Bard regularly in men’s squash and men’s volleyball. Additionally, after a 6-0 victory last year in Annandale-on-Hudson, the women’s soccer team will face the Raptors Sept. 29 at Vassar. Although Bard’s addition may not make a huge change in Vassar’s schedule, both Vassar and RIT will undoubtedly raise the standard of competition among the league as a whole.
SEPT. 20 MEN’S RUGBY
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
satruday, sept. 26 rowing at head of the hudson 8 a.m.
Sept. 26 - Sept. 27 women’s golf at mt. holyoke 10 a.m.
sunday, sept. 27 men’s rugby at sacred heart 10 p.m.
tuesday, sept. 29 women’s soccer vs. bard 7 p.m.
Wednesday, sept. 30 men’s soccer vs. scranton 4 p.m.
Sept. 24 Issue of The Miscellany News