The Miscellany News Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
February 9 , 2012
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CXLV | Issue 14
VSA governing docs to go under scanner Council Bylaws update reviews itself, orgs proposed Dave Rosencranz
n Saturday, Feb. 4, several members of the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Operations Committee held this semester’s second “Constitutia-thon” (named for the first meeting’s six-hour duration) to revise the VSA Constitution and bylaws for consistency, clarity and simplicity. Although the group has made substantial progress in the last two weeks, all of their efforts are preliminary and will not come into effect until they are approved by the VSA Council. Constitutia-thoners hope that their work will make the directives of the VSA’s governing documents clearer. “When I was campaigning for this position, I was reading through the governing documents and realized that they’re just not correct in so many ways. There are a lot of inconsistencies,” recalled VSA Vice President for Operations Jenna Konstantine ’13. One of the most glaring contradictions rests, in part, within the See CONSTITUTION on page 4
t a Vassar Student Association (VSA) meeting on Sunday, Feb. 5, South Commons Representative and co-Chair of the Board of Elections (BOE) Matthew Wheeler ’12 proposed an amendment to current VSA election bylaws that would create separate filing and campaigning periods for VSA elections, and require candidates to both attend a candidate’s meeting and sign a statement that they read and understood the bylaws before beginning to campaign. Currently candidates may begin to campaing as soon as they have filed, even if the filing period is ongoin, and are only required to go to the candidate’s meeting or sign the statement. BOE co-Chair Seth Warner ’14 opposed the measure, and in addition, has accused Wheeler of improper conduct, such as intentionally excluding him from discussions on the proposed amendment in order to stymie dissent—claims Wheeler wholeheartedly denies. See BYLAWS on page 3
From the two Early Decision application pools, Vassar has already selected 260 students to join the Class of 2016, some of whose pictures are featured above. Early Decision acceptees make up roughly 38 percent of the incoming class.
Early Decision acceptees to Class of 2016 discuss talents, motivations Jessica Tarantine
Assistant Features Editor
s the recent acceptance and subsequent rejection of 76 early decision two (EDII) applicants made the Vassar campus painfully aware, the second wave of applications for the Class of 2016 have been carefully judged.
Dean of Admission David Borus explained that between the two rounds of early decisions, 260 students, or roughly 38 percent, of the Class of 2016 have been admitted. Of those already accepted, admissions estimates that five or six will defer admission until the next year. “As always, these students have
excellent academic credentials and bring a wide variety of talents and experiences with them to Vassar,” wrote Borus in an emailed statement. Boris continued, “This year’s total application pool of more than 7900 candidates is the second largest in Vassar’s history. During the regular See 2016 on page 7
Nochlin to return to alma mater Matthew Hauptman Assistant Arts Editor
Alcohol Task Force leads focus groups
Art historian Linda Weinberg Nochlin ’51, pictured above, is this year’s recipient of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College’s Distinguished Achievement Award. the City University of New York, and has written numerous articles and books, including Representing Women; The Body in Pieces; Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays; and The Politics of Vision. Despite her expansive list of publications, Nochlin has always remained a dedicated, passionate teacher. Sarah Gibson Blanding Professor of Art Susan Kuretsky ’63
pointed out Nochlin’s abilities as a professor. “Her lectures were characterized by great clarity of thinking, organization, even diction; and extremely subtle, lovely and elegant language. Rarely have I heard anyone translate works of art into words the way she can do,” Kurestky wrote in an emailed statement.. “Everyone who heard her learned a lot about See NOCHLIN on page 16
ASA, students celebrate Lunar New Year
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
Inside this issue
Courtesy of collegeart.org
inda Weinberg Nochlin ’51 may very well be the single most renowned female art historian in academia today. It should come as no surprise, then, that Nochlin is this year’s recipient of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College’s (AAVC) Distinguished Achievement Award. Nochlin will return to Vassar on Feb. 9 to deliver a talk entitled “Gericault’s London: Representing Misery after the Industrial Revolution?” She will receive AAVC’s award the following day. After graduating from Vassar in 1951 with a degree in philosophy, Nochlin attended Columbia University, where she received her Master of Arts in English, followed by New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, where she wrote a dissertation on Gustave Courbet, a 19th Century French painter who is synonymous with the Realist art movement. Nochlin received her Ph.D in 1963 and returned to her alma mater that same year, as an assistant professor of art history. Nochlin taught at Vassar between 1952 and 1980, eventually serving as the Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art History. Nochlin is currently the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She has taught at Yale University and at
Women’s basketball Captain Cydni Matsuoki’14 moves to score in a game against against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Feb. 7. The Brewers fell 65-59.
Matsuoka’s heroic acts lead Vassar to victory Andy Marmer Sports Editor
ydni Matsuoka ’14, Captain of the women’s basketball team, is no stranger to heroics. Twice this year the sophomore guard gave her team the lead with under a minute to play, in a 69-67 win at Hunter College and a 61-58 victory at Union College. This
past Friday, Feb. 3, she made it a trifecta, knocking down a 12-foot jumper from the left wing as time expired to give the Brewers a 67-65 win over Skidmore College. Matsuoka’s triumphs were one of many memorable performances from the Brewers this past week. See BBALL on page 19
The Artist a movie about the movies
The Miscellany News
February 9, 2012
Editor in Chief Aashim Usgaonkar Senior Editors
Katharine Austin Mary Huber Erik Lorenzsonn
Contributing Editors Katie Cornish Carrie Hojnicki Jillian Scharr Molly Turpin
Madeline Zappala/The Miscellany News
Members of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre perform at this year’s ModFest. Visit blogs.miscellanynews.com/exposure for an expanded look.
by Ruby Cramer A podcast series covering the 2012 Election with Vassar’s professors This week: “The Romney Tax” with Associate Professor of Economics Robert Rebelein
hen Governor Mitt Romney finally heeded to repeated calls from his opponents and the press to release his tax returns late last month, a flurry of even more media attention followed. Romney’s effective tax rate was 13.9 percent, and no one was happy about it. It was also determined that the GOP presidential contender isn’t just a member of the “one percent” of America’s highest earners—he’s in at least the top 0.006%. Needless to say, people weren’t happy about that either. But is this really something Romney did wrong—some kind of loophole or tax break from the rich—or was he just playing the name of the game? Lucky for us, Associate Professor of Economics Robert Rebelein looked through the 200-page document to help make sense of it all.
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MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
February 9, 2012
ATF commences two-week alcohol study Joey Rearick News Editor
Rachel Garbade/The Miscellany News
fter months of planning, the Alcohol Task Force (ATF), a group chartered by the Vassar Student Association (VSA) in October to examine the ways in which Vassar students drink, recently administered a series of student focus groups and began a two-week tracking study of student alcohol consumption. Data from these studies will help form the basis of a report the ATF will present to the Drug and Alcohol Education Committee (DEC), the Committee on College Life (CCL) and the VSA later this year. The ATF is co-chaired by Director of Health Education Renee Pabst and VSA Vice President for Student Life Charlie Dobb ’12. Its membership includes students, administrators, faculty and staff. Dobb, who promised to address Vassar’s drinking culture during his campaign, met with Dean of the College Chris Roellke late last year to discuss a significant rise in the number of alcohol-related incidents on campus in recent years. According to Dobb, Roellke was enthusiastic about the prospect of a student-driven project concerning drinking patterns. “Roellke had a sense that treating it as a student issue would be best, because handling it at the administrative level presented challenges,” Dobb said. During initial planning for the ATF, Dobb and Pabst began to consider which questions related to a student drinking task force, composed of students, faculty, staff and administrators, might address. They reviewed data derived from AlcoholEdu, an online alcohol prevention program which Vassar freshman are required to complete before arriving on campus and again a few weeks into their freshman years. According to the results of self-reported surveys included in the AlcoholEdu program, Vassar students drink significantly more on average in college than they did in high school. As might be expected, this phenomenon, know as the “college effect,” can be observed in institutions of higher education across the country. But the AlcoholEdu data from Vassar students produced another conclusion: The college effect reported by Vassar freshman considerably exceeds
Above, members of the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council conduct a weekly session. In October, the VSA chartered the Alcohol Task Force to conduct a study on student alcohol consumption. the average college effect reported by students nationwide. An ATF internal memo, written by Dobb and provided to The Miscellany News, states that the ATF is focused upon answering a crucial question: “Why is the Vassar College effect so much more pronounced than the ‘average’ college effect?” The group’s attention to issues at work specifically within the Vassar community reflects students’ complaints about the campus keg ban that the College’s administration introduced this year. Some opponents suggested the ban responded to stereotypes of college binge drinking rather than Vassar’s own drinking culture. “The keg issue criticism led us to consider Vassar-specific data and prevention methods,” Dobb explained. “We want to know how Vassar students learn to drink. We want to be very data-focused because we don’t want any preconceptions to drive the data.” That point echoes a report released by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2002 that suggested methods to reduce dangerous col-
lege drinking. The report recommended that institutions collect data about their students’ drinking habits, but cautioned, “It should be remembered, however, that a student survey is not the only source of useful data, and in some cases may not even be the best source.” In accordance with that report, the ATF considered novel techniques to assess the drinking habits of Vassar students, in addition to traditional surveys such as the one administered by AlcoholEdu and another conducted every four years by the DEC. After meeting on a semi-regular basis throughout the first semester, the ATF decided to administer six focus groups in conjunction with a tracking survey designed to gauge students’ alcohol consumption and behavior over a two-week period. The ATF memo describes plans for one focus group from each year, in addition to two mixed-age groups. According to Dobb, for each of the focus groups 24 suitable students were selected at random and contacted with an email invitation to See ATF on page 4
Bylaws proposal separates election periods BYLAWS continued from page 1 Warner has initiated a petition calling for student leaders to “behave in accordance with democratic ideals” and asserting, “We are saddened and disappointed that a co-Chair of the Board of Elections broke this trust, using exclusionary measures to silence opposition against changes to the elections system.” He said the petition had about a dozen signatures when this article went to print. The controversial proposal resembles bylaws from two years ago, which required a two-week filing period, during which candidates were not allowed to campaign, followed by a one-week campaigning period. One of Wheeler’s reasons for introducing the amendment was a contradiction in current VSA bylaws regarding the candidate’s meeting. “The first contradiction that I realized that made me think more critically about these bylaws is that, as it stands now, filing and campaigning overlap,” he said in an interview. “But there’s also language in there that says, ‘A mandatory candidate’s meeting shall be held after the end of filing but before the start of campaigning.’ But under the bylines at least that’s actually contradictory.” Warner proposed the current bylaws last year in order to extend the campaigning period and encourage greater competition in elections, though he told The Miscellany News that his opposition to the changes was not based in any personal attachment to the bylaws. In response to concerns over conflicting language, Warner has attempted to resolve the contradiction with an amendment that
would require a candidate’s meeting after the filing period has ended, but removes the language, “but before the campaigning period has begun.” However, Wheeler and supporters of his amendment are concerned with more than just inconsistent wording. They believe the new amendment would make elections fairer and more accessible. “I just think that elections are fairer when everybody’s doing the same thing at the same time…because if some people get to campaign for three weeks because they filed the first day and some people get to campaign for one week because they filed the last day, I think that creates a disparity in the elections process and does not give everyone the fullest chance just because they weren’t fully sure or had their ideas fully developed on day one,” explained Wheeler. He has come to believe so strongly in the amendment that he presented the amendment as an individual student, rather than in his capacity as BOE co-chair, and will abstain from the actual vote. With regards to the argument that students who filed first demonstrate greater preparedness, and therefore deserve to campaign more, Wheeler responded, “I would actually argue that having a standardized time would encourage fairer debate about the issues and allow people to run on the issues that they’re passionate about, rather than run on how many doors they can knock on because they got to the table first.” Though he disagreed with Wheeler, the actual policy issues were of secondary importance to Warner. “I think policy only makes so much difference,” he said. “What
is truly concerning is that my co-Chair has taken an approach to preparing elections that are the backbone of our democracy that was in nature anti-democratic.” Warner claimed, “[Wheeler] was appointed to uphold that popular ownership, and has instead used behind-the-scenes tactics to thwart opposition. And that’s not only a personal offense, but a public offense.” However, he did not specify what kind of deals he believed Wheeler had made. “It’s not so much that I think he’s implicated anyone else—though he may well have—it’s that he used exclusionary tactics in something that’s supposed to be inclusionary,” he clarified. Wheeler countered that he had done nothing wrong. “On a technical level, I had no obligation to bring that amendment to anyone but [Operations] Committee,” he wrote in an emailed statement, though he did point out that he emailed Warner the day before he announced the proposal, despite the fact he was not required to do so. He continued, “I didn’t contact Seth in the drafting process because I wasn’t looking to compromise or reach consensus; I was looking to propose my ideas to Council. I invited Seth to be part of that conversation once I was ready to present. That conversation is ongoing. He’s still a part of it. Nothing, as far as I can tell, has been stymied,” he continued, highlighting the fact that he was presenting his ideas as a member at large, and not as a BOE co-chair. Anyone who wishes to join the ongoing discussion is encouraged to attend VSA Council meeting on Sunday, Feb. 12, in the College Center MPR, where the amendment will be debated and voted upon by the VSA Council.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
News Briefs Organizations’ constitutional review proposed
For the first time in roughly a decade, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) will enforce its bylaw requiring all Vassar-certified organizations to undergo constitutional reviews. For the rest of the semester, Vice President for Activities Michael “Mookie” Thottam ’13 and the VSA Activities Committee will work in conjunction with almost 120 student organizations to evaluate each of their constitutions. According to VSA bylaw Article IV Section 4, “the Executive Board of each VSA organization must submit a signed and dated copy of their organization’s Constitution at the beginning of each academic year to the VSA Vice President for Activities. ” In addition, each club must include the names and signatures of all of its executives, and bylaws require that the Committee review half of the constitutions each semester instead of the all-encompassing review to be done this year. Despite these stipulations, many organizations have failed to submit new constitutions with other paperwork. “Reports and reviews have occurred every year (to my knowledge),” Thottam clarified in an emailed statement, “however at some point in time organizations stopped attaching copies of updated constitutions.” The Activities Committee hopes this compulsory review will remind groups of the correct procedure and mark a new era of compliance to the bylaws. Although the VSA Council can discipline negligent groups, the constitutional reviews are intended to be educational in nature. The evaluations will allow organizations time to consciously consider their central message and their mission. With this goal in mind, the committee understands that a universal process would be counterintuitive, because each constitution varies in its relevance to its organization’s state of affairs. For some, especially newly approved organizations like HYPE and SlowFood, the process will prove easier, as their constitutions tend to more closely mirror their current goals. The updated constitutions will also provide increased clarity for the Activities Committee and the student body. As Thottam explained, this initiative will be key when new organizations are seeking approval by the committee. Instead of having to draw from personal experience to know if a similar organization already exists, the Committee can quickly refer to the various constitutions to check for overlap. —Bethan Johnson, Reporter VSA appoints two new students to vacant positions
This week the VSA Council filled a vacant student representative position with the unanimous appointment of Rachel Glorsky ’13 as the Vice President of Jewett House. Last week, the Council appointed Madeline Zappala ’12 Senior Class Vice President. [Disclosure: Madeline Zappala is Photography Editor for The Miscellany News.] As per their governing documents, the VSA Council filled these roles through an appointment processes, led by the Operations Committee. Zappala believes her prior student government positions have prepared her for this new responsibility. “I have been on Senior Class Council all year as a general body member and I really enjoyed the responsibilities that I had,” explained Zappala. Zappala will integrate her previous event planning experience, including helping to throw this year’s Halloween and 100 Nights parties, into her agenda. “In terms of plans for the rest of the year,” Zappala noted, “as an Executive Board we are working on planning more fun and memorable events like 50 nights, as well as working to arrange the most fun and balanced Senior Week calendar to end the year with.” When announcing the committee’s recommendation of Glorsky, Vice President of Operations Jenna Konstantine ’13 praised her ability to approach unconventional situations. “The committee thought that Rachel would be a great fit for this position,” Konstantine noted. “This is kind of half way through the semester and they needed somebody who would be able to jump right in.” The committee also felt that Glorsky had invaluable programming experience for groups like FlyPeople that would help her plan Jewett’s fast-approaching Seven Deadly Sins event. —B.J.
February 9, 2012
Council passes resolution for full-time LGBTQ admin Leighton Suen
Assistant News Editor
Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News
ast Sunday, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council passed a resolution urging Vassar to expand the position of assistant director for Campus Life and LGBTQ Programs to a full-time position so that, among other things, the office holder can provide direct administrative support for the Women’s Center on campus. The document was drafted by VSA Vice President for Student Life Charlie Dobb ’12 and South Commons President Matthew Wheeler ’12. “A full-time assistant director would show that Vassar is dedicated to these programs— that they’re worth a person,” said Ferry House President and LGBTQ Center intern Grace Ashford ’14. “Student [interns] have other commitments. Many are part-time. It’s difficult if there’s no one here to spearhead these programs.” The resolution notes that the assistant director for Campus Life and LGBTQ Programs position is vacant, and that there has been no dedicated administrative connection to the Women’s Center division of the Office of Campus Life and Diversity. Other parallel resources within the office, such as Religious and Spiritual Life, Study Away, Safety and Security, and Residential Life, have enjoyed such support. In addition, the resolution points out that recent events on campus have made clear the necessity for an administrative presence in the Women’s Center, and concludes by supporting the development of an academic-year, full-time position supporting both LGBTQ Programs and the Women’s Center. “This [resolution] is just saying, ‘stop putting us under the rug,’” said Ashford. “We approve of the Student Life committee staying close with things happening currently on campus.” Wheeler echoed Ashford’s sentiments. “The idea [for the resolution] came out of one of our weekly Student Life Committee meetings in which we discussed the Campus Life office, the historical absence of direct administrative support for the Women’s Center in recent years, and the vacancy for the Assistant Director for Campus Life LGBTQ Programs position,” he
The Vassar Student Association Council passed a resolution last Sunday urging the administration to expand the position of assistant director for Campus Life and LGBTQ programs to a full-time job. wrote in an emailed statement. “Given some of the dialogue that’s taken place recently at Vassar, like the push for a full time [Sexual Assault Violence Prevention] Coordinator, last semester’s Campus Life Resource Group Conversation Dinner that focused on how Vassar is and/or is not a safe space for women, and last semester’s sexism teach-in, it was clear that gender issues were on the forefront of people’s minds.” “There is no official person women can go to,” continued Ashford. “Past attempts to get an assistant director for the Women’s Center have resulted in administrative responses of ‘Go talk to women studies professors.’” Ashford likened it to going to biology professors for help with the trees around campus. “The Women’s Center can be better utilized with better space,” said Tristan Feldman ’12. “Because of its small size, it doesn’t have many programs.” The Women’s Center has only two program interns, Jessi Colla ’13 and Jessica
Young ’12, for the 2011 to 2012 school year. In comparison, the LGBTQ Center has six interns and is currently seeking a seventh. The Women’s Center, located in the Strong House lobby, also struggles with space constraints. The administration’s response to the VSA resolution has been generally positive. “Supporting programs for LGBTQ and gender programs and resources fits within the goals of the Office of Campus Life,” said Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life and Diversity Ed Pittman. Although he had not seen the exact wording of the document yet, Pittman emphasized that he supported the proposal, and that the College would maintain diversity programs to the best of its ability during the current economic climate. He also echoed the VSA Council’s sentiments that the new vacancy provides the perfect opportunity to blend the two programs into a single resource. “The rationale for adding gender resources is to integrate work
and provide a direct administrative resource for the Women’s Center. To date, [they have had] no administrator to work there.” Later in an emaied statement, Pittman added that “the integration of gender resources was under consideration last semester before the personnel change. And, though there is not an administrator currently staffing the Women’s Center, broad administrative support…is provided through the Associate Dean of the College and Campus Life Office.” According to Dean of the College Chris Roellke, whenever there are vacancies in the College, four senior officers review the personnel proposals. “We’re always looking for ways to trim the budget,” he said, before stating that the administration is already attempting to increase the work hours for this position. “The former assistant director for campus life and LGBTQ programs worked six-tenths of the time. We are currently proposing a .83 positionequivalent that would be an increase over the previous LGBTQ staffing level.” The former assistant director departed the College late last semester after nearly two and a half years. Roellke explained that he is unable to disclose the details of the departure due to confidentiality reasons. Although the position is currently vacant, Pittman is hopeful that the search for a new assistant director will begin soon. “The goal is to have the position filled by the end of the semester,” he said optimistically. For the time being, assistant director for Campus Life and ALANA Programs Domenico Ruggerio has stepped up to fulfill responsibilities related to LGBTQ Programs. As for the personnel proposal to have a full-time assistant director, Roellke estimated that it could be given consideration within the next couple of weeks. “It’s a no-brainer,” replied Ashford, when asked about the combination of LGBTQ and gender issues under the new proposed assistant director position. “Having a full-time person do two things is a far leap from having a part-time person do one thing and no one to cover the other. It’s baby steps…[but] we hope to see real change.”
VSA seeks to straighten out Task Force discovers ‘college Constitution inconsistencies effect’ above average at Vassar CONSTITUTION continued from page 1 current VSA Constitution. Article V, section 10 states, “should the VSA President be absent, incapacitated or leave office, all of his/her duties, responsibilities and powers shall be temporarily assumed by the VSA Vice President for Student Life.” However, the VSA bylaws provide for a different chain of succession. They state, “the VSA President shall chair all VSA Council meetings. In the case of his/her absence, this duty shall fall to the VSA Vice President for Operations.” According to Jewett Vice President and review committee member Clayton Masterman ’13, the error was probably caused by an incomplete amendment written when the Student Life position was added to the VSA Executive Board and a revision was made to the Constitution, but not the bylaws. Another inconsistency, which was only fixed recently after the creation of a new capital loans system, has to do with the capital items inventory. Capital items, which are defined in the VSA bylaws as “any item that is anticipated to last no less than three years,” are technically supposed to be placed on a list maintained by the Vice President for Operations. Capital items are typically very expensive, and an accurate inventory is important to prevent redundancy. “The bylaws talk about Operations Committee keeping a full inventory of capital items, a practice that has never happened because it has no relation to Operations,” wrote Masterman in an emailed statement, highlighting the disparity between the VSA’s governing documents and reality. Discrepancies like these have been some of the review committee’s greatest motivators. The review committee has also made dozens of small changes to the syntax and style of the VSA governing documents. Grammatical and spelling errors have been almost completely eliminated, and gender pronouns such as “he”
and “she” have been removed in an effort to avoid conforming to the gender binary. Konstanine hopes that changes like these will make the documents easier to read and more inclusive. “If our documents aren’t smooth and concise, nobody is going to look at them,” explained Konstantine. Improving the organization of the VSA governing documents has also been a priority. For example, the responsibilities of each member of the Executive Board are scattered throughout the Constitution and bylaws. “A lot of people who run for VSA positions start off by looking at the documents. And then they run into a constitution that nobody knows how to navigate,” said Masterman. The review committee plans to create a set of new sections and subsections to make the bylaws’ layout more logical. For example, the Constitution will only include an overview of each Executive Board position, and the bylaws will describe each position’s year-to-year duties. Although many changes have been made, review committee members stress that the directives of the VSA’s governing documents remains unaltered. “From the get-go, we tried very explicitly to make sure that the intent of the entire process was not to change the content of the Constitution in any way,” assured Masterman. In the case of inconsistencies like the ones mentioned above, changes will be made to reflect current practice. The provision in the bylaws regarding presidential succession, for example, will be stricken so that the Vice President for Student Life will succeed the President; and bylaws will also be amended to reflect the shift of responsibility over the capital items inventory from Vice President for Operations to Vice President for Finance made by the new capital loans system. Both he and Konstantine hope to present the improved documents to the VSA Council for adoption sometime before Spring Break.
ATF continued from page 3 participate, with the expectation that one in three would accept the offer. To supplement this pool, in case too few students agreed to participate, class presidents solicited participation in the study from constituents on behalf of the ATF. Those focus groups, which were conducted over the past weekend, were moderated by trained student facilitators and recorded for transcription. Member of the ATF will receive transcriptions of the conversations, but the participants’ names will be removed and replaced by codes. In order to insure the anonymity of the participants, recordings of the focus group will be destroyed after the transcriptions are completed. Dobb said the focus groups should provide the ATF a sense of “how students talk about drinking and give administrators and student government a consistent language to use.” That qualitative understanding will compliment data from the tracking survey, for which the ATF invited 200 randomly selected students to participate. In his memo, Dobb writes that he and Professor of Psychology Randy Cornelius worked in conjunction with personnel from Computing and Information Services to develop a tracking study that is compatible with both computers and smartphones. The study, drafted with input from the ATF, began on Feb. 1 and will conclude on Feb 15. Every day for two weeks, participants will record responses to questions related to the frequency and degree of their alcohol use. “It basically explores behavior as it happens and factors that could that could contribute to that behavior,” Dobb said of the study. Both studies offered V-cash to students who agreed to participate.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Once the data from the tracking studies and the transcriptions from the focus groups are prepared for analysis, the ATF will meet to discuss how to interpret the findings. According to the group’s current proposed timeline, it will present a report based on the information it has gathered to the DEC, VSA and CCL during a five-day stretch in late March. “It’s unclear if the ATF will issue a policy recommendation,” said Dobb. “We may leave it to others bodies to interpret, or we may do some of the interpreting ourselves.” The ATF is also hoping to bring Thomas Vander Ven, a sociologist who has studied the phenomenon of binge drinking within college communities, to speak at Vassar in the spring. “We’re working on bringing him to campus,” Dobb said. “Hopefully that will coincide with the release of the findings.” Last year, Vander Ven, who teaches at Ohio University, published Getting Wasted: The Culture and Social Practices of College Drinking. In an interview with National Public Radio, he described the basis for his sociological approach. “Most of the research on college drinking... surveyed individuals and asked them how much they drink, and when they drink and what are the consequences,” he said. “Well, as a sociologist, I suspected that drinking is a collective activity. Students work together to decide when to drink, and how much to drink.” Dobb read Getting Wasted, and contacted Vander Ven, who eventually offered to aid the ATF through casual consulting. Dobb saw a connection between Vander Ven’s work and the ATF’s attempts to better understand drinking within the Vassar community. “I realized that in some ways, the book spoke to what the Task Force was doing,” he said.
February 9, 2012
College showcases Matthew Vassar’s rock collection Marie Solis
Emily Lavieri-ScullThe Miscellany News
Emily Lavieri-ScullThe Miscellany News
ome of us had rock collections as children, but few of us continued those collections as adults—and even fewer have rock collections as impressive as Matthew Vassar’s. His is not limited to rocks but includes minerals and fossils and is available for everyone’s viewing pleasure in the A. Scott Warthin Museum of Geology & Natural History located in Ely Hall. With exotic birds and dinosaur tracks, this is not your brother’s rock collection. Said museum curator Lois Horst, “[Matthew Vassar] wanted women at Vassar to have the same resources as the men at Harvard and Yale [Universities].” Vassar began the collection in 1862 so that students could utilize primary sources and gain hands-on experience in their studies. Vassar appointed Henry Ward, a geology professor at the University of Rochester, to procure and assemble the collection. When the museum made its debut the exhibit was called The Cabinet of Mineralogy and Geology, and was originally housed in Main Building on the second and third floors. Although the display seemed impressive, the true value of his collection was unknown, so Vassar called upon some well-known scientists to evaluate the collection. Geologist James Hall and Yale Professor of Natural Sciences James D. Dana came to Vassar to inspect the collection. Horst said that Dana remarked it was “the best collection in the United States and Europe.” After the scientists’ rave reviews of Vassar’s collection, the museum became increasingly crowded, forcing it to relocate in 1896 to Avery Hall, now the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. Vassar renamed its museum the Vassar College Museum of Natural History, reflecting its new affiliation with the American Museum of Natural History. The newly named and located collection had its grand opening on Feb. 22, 1875, attracting crowds from both the campus and the public. Most notably, Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, paid a visit to the collection. During this time, the museum curatorship was passed down from the first Professor of Natural History Sanborn Tenney to James Orton, who Horst affectionately called the “Indiana Jones of Professors.” During the school year he was a natural history professor, but in his spare time he was a friend of Charles
Matthew Vassar’s extensive rock collection—which also features fossils, minerals, and metorites—is currently on display in the A.Scott Warthin Museum of Geology and Natural History in Ely Hall. Darwin and an explorer of South America. With his findings he expanded the museum’s collection to include his vast zoological and biological discoveries before his tragic death in 1877 from complications of injuries sustained during the mutiny of his native escorts in Peru. “He’s sort of my idol,” Horst said with a smile, “he collected every South and North American bird in our collection.” Horst has been at Vassar for 21 years; for her senior thesis she researched the history of the museum at Vassar, which led her to became the curator in 2003 after a period of time in which there was none. “It was gathering dust and collecting garbage,” Horst said. “They were looking for someone who could spiff up the museum.” The museum has had quite an extraordinary history including mastodons and a number of fossils brought back from an 1891 trip to the
Badlands of South Dakota. Having lost and found wonderful artifacts along the way, the museum finally found its current home in Ely Hall in 1992. Currently the Biology and Geology Departments make the most use of the museum, although the Art Department does use the space on occasion to do sketches and drawings. Even if rocks aren’t your thing, there are plenty of fascinating artifacts to enthrall even the most jaded college student. “We have everything from actual dinosaur tracks to mastodon teeth and feet,” Horst said. There are cases of minerals as well as metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rocks which are identified by their names and where they were found. A glass dome that was included in the original museum’s collection once held all of the known minerals of the world; it now re-
mains an impressive heirloom and reminder of how far geologists have come. Upon reading the captions under the relics, one will find that these fossils and artifacts date back to 200 million years ago. Meteorites are showcased, including a siderolite from Chile and a huckitta meteorite from Australia. Another remarkable addition is the display of items from the Grand Tour which were donated to Vassar in the late 1800s. The case of findings, among other things, holds a piece of President James K. Polk’s tomb and a splinter of George Washington’s coffin. The museum’s visitors also include students from local schools and Boy Scout groups.Horst acts as a tour guide of the museum for these groups when they come. Not only does the public reach out to the Warthin Museum, but the museum’s staff often works very closely with the Mid-Hudson Valley Gem and Mineral Society: in the past they have offered technical assistance to Vassar and worked with the museum’s staff to give lectures on campus. For the last five years, museum volunteers have brought displays to the society’s Gem and Mineral Show, where the community gathers annually to learn about and admire some of nature’s finest creations. This year’s show will be held at Gold’s Gym in Poughkeepsie. “The middle school students from the Poughkeepsie area come to the museum and go on a scavenger hunt,” Marlena Crowell ’14 wrote in an emailed statement. “I helped to guide them to the correct display where they could find the information they needed. Aside from class and work related activities, the museum is a wonderful place to just walk through and look at the amazing pieces on display. I find myself marveling at mineral structures and fossils every time I walk through the museum.” Outside Horst’s office is a case of fluorescent minerals. Excited to show them off, she shut off all of the lights and turned on a UV light. Under normal circumstances, the minerals in the case look like no more than mundane-looking pieces of earth. But, upon turning on the right light, they exude brilliant neon colors. Students pass by Ely Hall every day, but few stop to appreciate the treasures within. Next time give it a chance; maybe you just need to see it in a different light.
Asian Students Association celebrates Lunar New Year Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin Guest Reporter
he walls and columns were peppered with red posters, many with various Chinese characters painted on them, while a large arrangement of tables were covered with red tablecloths and garnished with a single lit candle. On Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m., the Asian Students Association (ASA) celebrated the Lunar New Year by hosting their annual Lunar New Year Dinner, an effort that helps to bring an important cultural event within many Asian countries, specifically many Far East Asian and South East Asian countries, to Vassar’s campus. The Lunar New Year, also commonly known as the Chinese New Year, is a traditional celebration in many Eastern Asian countries of the first day of the first moon, according to the Lunar Calendar. In opposition to the Gregorian Calendar, the Lunar Calendar is lunisolar, meaning that it incorporates elements based on lunar phases and the solar calendar. This incarnation of the lunar calendar is used to establish the date of many important traditions and celebrations throughout these East Asian countries, with the Lunar New Year being one of the most important. Countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year include China, Korea, Tibet and Vietnam. Although the Lunar Calender remains an important pillar in East Asian cultural practice, many of these countries use this calendar in conjunction with the western Gregorian Calendar. Japan, however, has been formally celebrating the New Year on Jan. 1 ever since it adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1873, five years after the Meiji Restoration. Despite this, many families living in rural areas of Japan continue to celebrate the New Year according to the Lunar Calendar.
According to the co-President of ASA Hanke Kim ’12, “The Lunar New Year is a tradition, a cultural tradition that goes back a long time. It’s usually celebrated by most of the Asian cultures.” Kim continued, “It’s a diverse holiday, it can be celebrated different ways by different cultures.” In talking about the various Asian countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year, ASA coPresident Julia Chung ’12 also noted, “The Chinese celebrate it, Koreans celebrate it, Mongolian, Tibetan, Vietnamese, and the Japanese used to celebrate it before 1873, but they don’t anymore. ” Furthermore, in talking about her own cultural background in relation to the Lunar New Year, Chung added, “In Taiwan at least it’s really important because you clean out your house and you wear red, because it’s good luck, and you get red envelopes with money inside and it’s really fun.” “You visit family and friends and go to the graves to clean the graves. And you’re not supposed to shower because it’s bad luck, and you’re supposed to clean your house and wear red,” she continued. It is important to note the various cultural practices and traditional practices that occur in Asian countries in their observation of the Lunar New Year. For instance, it is often traditional for Chinese families to celebrate the eve of the Lunar New Year by feasting with their families. Many people often eat fish during their celebration. Fish, specifically, is meant to symbolize surplus, and eating it will have enough to get through the New Year. Oranges and tangerines are also often eaten and displayed within the home as a sign of wealth and good luck. This symbolism is derived from the fact that the word tangerine is phonetically
similar to the Chinese word for luck, and the word orange is phonetically similar to the Chinese word for wealth. In Vietnam, the Lunar New Year, which is also refered to as Tet, is often celebrated by eating Banh Chung, which are sticky rice cakes that have been stuffed with pork, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. People also often give children and young adults red Lai-See Envelopes (also called Hong-Bao Envelopes) filled with money. The red color of the envelope is meant to symbolize good luck and ward off evil spirits. In referencing the Korean tradition of Chinese New Year Celebrations, Hanke stated, “For Lunar New Year, in the morning, we’ll eat a dumpling and rice cake soup, and then we bow in front our parents, and then we bow in front of our elders and they give us money and we wish them happy New Year.” This year’s Lunar New Year Dinner featured an array of different Asian foods, cooked by the student members of ASA. The wide selection included dishes such as dumplings, scallion, pancakes, miso soup, Kimchi, noodles, tofu stir-fry, spring rolls, beef with broccoli and sesame chicken. In addition, each guest was provided with his or her own red envelope filled with chocolate. Many students commented on the food, highlighting it as one of their favorite parts of the event. Students also noted the Aikido performance at the beginning of the program as a particularly interesting and engaging point of entry for the Lunar New Year celebration. Often translated as “the way of unifying with life energy,” Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the late 1920s. Ueshiba created Aikido as a culmination of his personal philosophy, religion, and his martial art practice. The martial art’s ultimate aim is
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to provide the practitioner with a means of protecting oneself, while simultaniously protecting one’s attacker from injury. In addition, due to the fact that this year’s Lunar New Year event conflicted with what is often recognized as an unofficial American holiday, the Super Bowl, ASA decided to screen the game during the dinner. Commenting on this aspect of the event, John Cartwright ’13 said, “I think that the crosscultural reference in including the Super Bowl is an important aspect of this event.” In a similar vein, Hannah Eidman ’13 said, “I feel included even though I don’t observe the Lunar New Year. It’s not exclusive at all.” It is also important to note that this year’s Lunar New Year event happened a week after the actual Lunar New Year. Although the Lunar New Year did occur at the beginning of the semester, due to time constraints, the ASA felt it would be best to have the event a week after the actual Lunar New Year to make sure everything ran smoothly. Due to the significance of the event to the Asian and Asian-American community on Vassar’s Campus, ASA is determined to host this event each year whether or not it coincides with the actual Lunar New Year. “Because Lunar New Year’s a big deal, and usually people can’t go home, so it’s nice to have a dinner here, and decorate UpC in red and eat Asian food,” Chung said. The ASA Lunar New Year Dinner helped to foster and increase awareness of various Asian cultures on Vassar campus. The Lunar New Year is an important event for many countries in Eastern Asian countries and it is important that we as the Vassar community recognize the importance of this tradition to the Asian and Asian-American communities here at Vassar.
February 9, 2012
Vassar alums volunteer oversees in Peace Corps programs Danielle Bukowski Features Editor
s the countdown to graduation begins, Vassar seniors will be considering their after-college prospects and looking to the jobs of alumnae/i for advice on the paths they might take. Vassar’s recent high ranking on the 2012 Peace Corps Top College Rankings in the small school category should bring to the forefront alumnae/i who took an alternative route before beginning a career. With 17 alumnae/i currently serving as Peace Corps Volunteers, Vassar is ranked 20th, a large jump from its 45th spot last year. Instead of moving into tiny apartments in New York or crossing the country to start up in California, these graduates are volunteering in 16 countries, including Bulgaria, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Hondorus, Jordan, Morocco, Lesotho, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone and South Africa. Since the founding of the Peace Corps in 1961, Vassar has sent 237 graduates overseas. Peace Corps Volunteers work in 76 different countries in a variety of fields. There are six program areas: education, youth and community development, health, business and information and communications technology, agriculture, and environment. The Peace Corps program provides volunteers with language, cross-cultural and technical training in their location prior to their volunteer work. An interest in languages and different cultures is a must, while backgrounds in agriculture, environment or teaching English as a second language are encouraged. Vassar graduate Joshua Morton ’01 was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic in the former
Soviet Union, for 27 months after his graduation. Living in a rural town, he taught English as a foreign language to middle through high school students. “They gave you three months cultural training, taught you the language and we had teaching English as a foreign language training,” Morton said. “That was my primary assignment, and was pretty standard bill for what a volunteer would do. I wrote a couple of grants for a computer center for my school, to bring them up to the modern age, and one was to actually build a new outhouse system.” Before leaving for Kyrgyzstan, Morton spoke none of the local language, but he didn’t find it particularly difficult to pick up. Said Morton, “I was a religion major at Vassar, and I focused on Buddhism. It was always my interest while at Vassar to do a study abroad program, though I only did one semester [in Nepal]. So I was already familiar with living and working overseas, and enjoyed that quite a bit.” Nikki Eller ’10 is currently serving as a water and sanitation volunteer in Peru. “Besides skills such as writing and presenting,” Eller wrote in a piece for the Peace Corps, “Vassar left me with a curiosity to learn more, an analytical approach to problems, and the resources, motivation and confidence to try and solve them.” Vassar’s Career Development Office sponsored a webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 7 for students interested in the Peace Corps. “We have a strong relationship with the Peace Corps,” said Assistant Director for Employer Relations Susan Smith. Regional Recruiter Ryan Lesley, who was himself a volunteer between 2006 and 2008, spoke about the program and answered students’ questions. Lesley came to Vassar in
the fall for a meeting. According to Smith, “If a student has already begun the application process, the recruiter can often arrange to meet that student while he/she is on campus that day. We offer our recruiting office or CDO library as a meeting place.” Juniors and seniors were present at the webinar, as one applies a year in advance of when he/she would hope to leave. Leo Rubiano ’13, a psychology major, was one of the students who attended the webinar. “I’m thinking of going into social work, and going to graduate school for a Master’s in social work, but I’m not entirely sure. Spending 27 months overseas would be a good way to see if that kind of work is what I want to do in the long run. It also just sounds like a really good experience.” For students considering the Peace Corps after graduation, Morton offered this advice: “One of my biggest fears was the twoyear commitment, but I found that it forces you to really learn what you’re doing well enough to do it relatively well by the time you leave. So I would say don’t let that deter you, but think carefully about it. It’s volunteer work but you’re not just giving, you get quite a bit from the experience. It’s definitely one of the more life-changing experiences to have.” Peace Corps Volunteers with a Bachelor’s Degree traditionally teach English as a foreign language, while those with a Bachelor’s in economics or a Master’s in any field were focused in the urban universities. “I was the only [Peace Corps volunteer] in that town; the closest [volunteer] to me was 30 miles away,” said Morton. Joining the Peace Corps is a rigorous process, and once people decide to volunteer they sign a commitment to serve in the
Peace Corps for at least 27 months. Within the Small School category of the 2012 Peace Corps Top College Rankings, University of Mary Washington garnered the number one spot by having 29 alumnae/i undergraduate volunteers. The school with the highest number of graduates serving in the Peace Corps overall is the University of Colorado at Boulder, with 112 volunteers. Vassar Peace Corps volunteers are serving in education, HIV/AIDS research and agriculture. But even if one does not use the skills directly learned from the Peace Corps, the experience is a learning experience in many ways. Morton admits that his current job as a sales representative for a wine distributor in Boston does not directly relate to his time in Kyrgyzstan, but his Peace Corps experience has definitely stuck with him. “Coincidentally, [a few] days ago one student [I had taught in Kyrgyzstan] friended me on Facebook, and he seemed to be doing very well for himself. He remembered me, and I would like to think that I actually had in the slightest degree possible an impact, so it was encouraging to see that, years later.” Smith acknowledges that there are many other options for students looking to do volunteer work after graduation. “Cross Cultural Solutions and Smaller Earth are two that come to mind,” she said. Volunteering abroad with Cross Cultural Solutions can last anywhere from two weeks to a year, while Smaller Earth allows volunteers to work in fields such as wildlife conservation or sports coaching. “[The Peace Corps] is a very good solid, structured way in which to broaden one’s horizons to the greater world,” Morton said of the opportunity.
Library movie collection academic, personal resource Casey Zuckerman
Katie De Heras/The Miscellany News
hat better way to alleviate the stresses of school than sitting down and watching a great movie? Many students do this on their computers, streaming movies and TV shows the moment they want them. But at Vassar there is another way. The Vassar Thompson Memorial Library’s video reserve, available at the Reserve Desk in the 24-hour room, has 8381 DVDs and 5843 VHSs available for student use. Ranging from blockbusters, documentaries, Disney favorites and foreign films, the collection has a diverse and expansive selection. Largely cultivated by professors for use in the classroom, the collection has grown since it’s creation in the 1980s when it started under Media Services. But the collection has often been dubbed the Vassar Blockbuster as students borrow movies for leisure. “A lot of the time on Thursday or Friday night we’ll get people come in to get movies like Avatar,” says Jane Weesner ’12, a student worker at the Reserves Desk. She confessed to having borrowed Shakespeare in Love along with other films. “They’ve got a pretty wide selection: from really cheesy movies like Mulan to movies like the Criterion Collection, which are highly acclaimed movies from the turn of the century.” Reference Librarian Gretchen Lieb, who works with the collection, acknowledged it’s dual usage. “The collection is cultivated primarily to support the curriculum. This includes the feature films in the collection, most of which have been purchased to support teaching in film, literature, culture, art, gender studies, foreign languages, etc,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “One student’s entertainment is another student’s homework or thesis.” Foreign language professors frequently require their students to watch films, most of which are housed in Vassar’s Foreign Language Resource Center in Chicago Hall. Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies Kathleen Hart has her French, women studies and environmental studies classes watch a film together and asks that they put the DVD on reserve for students who want to watch it again. “If students want to do an individual project on a film not studied in the
course, I make suggestions based on their interests and my knowledge of the collection,” Hart said. “Film helps students grasp aspects of other cultures that are impossible for teachers to convey with words alone.” Students in Professor of History Miram Cohen’s courses can watch the films and documentaries she screems as part of class on their own if they cannot make the screening or want to watch a film again. They are also encouraged to use the video reserve to augment their term papers. While the Film Department hosts its own screenings for students, the Library’s collection is a valuable research for students’ outside research. Professor and Chair of the Film Department Ken Robinson said, “Students are encouraged to use the collection to find films that they hope reflect what they want to do in their own projects.” It’s highly suggested for film students to borrow films from the collection to supplement their studies. Since the collection was first a teaching tool, Director of the Libraries Sabrina Pape concedes that it isn’t easy to look at all the films available, as students cannot browse the shelves like they can for books. “You need to know the title you’re looking for or the subject,” when searching the online database, Pape said. Even though movies are borrowed from the collection for both work and entertainment, circulation of non-reserve (films not held on reserve by a professor for a certain class) DVDs and VHS collection dropped 34 percent from 2009-10 to 2010-11. Lieb stated, “One reason the circulation has declined has been the growth in options for video access online services such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, and more that make it relatively convenient and inexpensive for people to access movies— especially feature films, or Blockbuster movies—from sources other than the Library.” The possibility of streaming films is being discussed. “I think streaming options now are changing how we are going to develop the collection,” said Pape. While Vassar has begun to experiment with streaming certain documentaries online to compete with the accessibility of the Internet, the various license agreements that surround this kind of change have limited Vassar’s exploration of this option.
Reserve Desk Joseph Senecal ’12, above, browses the Library’s extensive movie collection. While largely cultivated by professors for class use, the collection also accomodates student leisure interests. While this decrease in circulation may seem like a bad thing, Lieb says that it does have some benefits, since it allows for the Library to focus on buying more expensive and obscure DVDs, like foreign films and documentaries, which can cost $250 to $500 for an institution to purchase instead of the $25 that it would cost an individual. This mark-up in price is due to the propensity for colleges to hold “public screenings.” Although showings strictly within the classroom are not considered public performances, those shown outside of class and are open to the general student body are. As Lieb further explained, “Recognizing that public screenings of films often take place on campuses without the royalties payment, some distribution companies and filmmakers include public performance rights in the institutional price, and some do not, while still charging a higher price to institutions. Since the filmmakers and distribution companies set their own terms, they have the right to do this.” The reasoning is that students have access to more popular television series and
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movies through other media, so money put towards buying them can be redistributed. In the meantime, it’s still a great resource for both professors and students. Lieb said that while it is a professor’s resource, the Library faculty “encourage[s] students to submit requests on the Library website, with a note about the course or project it would be needed for. One of the reasons our video collection is as strong as it is is that it reflects the interests of faculty and students.” Students and faculty should report any damage or problem with films they borrow, as well as “letting the Library know that they would like us to update, from VHS to DVD, a particular film or group of films in the collection. That helps us prioritize,” Lieb said. VHSs can currently be viewed in the 24 hour room. Pape encourages students to explore what the collection has to offer, and said, “It’s always surprising, what you find [in the video reserve], from movies like Saved by the Bell— movies that have become part of our popular culture—to esoteric Asian films ... You can always find something interesting.”
February 9, 2012
A brownie recipe you can dig your sweet tooth into Roxanne Ringer Guest Columnist
Courtesy of Roxanne Ringer
veryone has a sweet tooth, although some of us may proclaim to have several. Whether you wake up with a yearning for cherry danish or try to end every All Campus Dining Center meal with frozen yogurt, giving in to all of the sugar cravings will lead to health issues and regrets later. Sugar is one of the most infamous villains of healthy eating. But the truth is we can’t resist its seductive call all day every day. Humans have evolved to have sugar cravings. In another, less privileged day and age, sugar cravings were a way for your body to seek out the naturally sweet, vitamin-packed foods like apples and bananas. But now that we’re out of the old Stone Age and into the Cold Stone Creamery Age, these cravings that were developed to protect us are leading us astray. Cocoa beans, the delicious precursor to chocolate, contain magnesium. This healthy mineral keeps your heartbeat regular, your immune system working effectively, and your bones strong. It also plays an important role in muscle function and regulating blood sugar levels. So a chocolate craving is probably just your body’s way of saying, “More magnesium please and thank you.” But before you run to the Retreat for a quick chocolate fix, realize that moderation is key. Four chocolate donuts with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles later, you have successfully flooded your body with toxins, fat and sugar; without a trace of magnesium to be found. Due to the incredible over-processing of “food” these days, there isn’t any magnesium left in those bad boys. And you’re going to have the same chocolate craving as soon as your body recovers from chocolate shock. It’s uncontrollable. What we can control, however, is how exactly we give in to temptation. Some ways of satisfying sugar cravings are better for you than others. You can still treat yourself without downing the 900-plus calories in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Instead of that dairy treat, try some Greek yogurt. Your taste buds might claim that yogurt and ice cream taste nothing alike, but you may be surprised how quickly your body disagrees with you. Greek yogurt is thicker and richer than regular yogurt, and it has more protein and
3/4 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water (or use 425g can of tinned black beans, rinsed well and drained) 3 eggs 5 tablespoons (75ml) vegetable oil 1 cup (200g) muscovado sugar ( or soft brown sugar) 1/2 cup (55g) cocoa powder 1/2 cup (55g) almond meal (ground almonds) 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 100g (approx 3/4 cup once chopped) dark chocolate, chopped roughly
If using dried beans, drain soaked beans and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil then reduce and simmer for about 1 hour until very soft, but still holding their shape. Drain and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Grease a 6x8 in. tin (rimmed) and line with baking paper. Tip cooled beans into the bowl of a food processor (or blender) and blend to form a smooth paste. Add the eggs and oil and pulse to combine. Add sugar, cocoa, almond meal, vanilla and baking powder. Process until smooth and well combined. Add chopped chocolate and pulse to evenly distribute. Spoon mixture into prepared slice tin and smooth the top off with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin. Slice into 12 squares and serve.
less natural sugar. It’s pretty heavy, however, and has more calories, so look for a low fat or low sugar option. You can find Chobani at the Kiosk, and the Retreat has its own cups with fruit and honey. All yogurts have sugar naturally, so you can easily do without all of the added syrups. Be careful with fruit-flavored yogurts, however, as these will have more sugar in them and you want to make sure the extra is
coming from the fruit and not refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup. If possible, it’s a much better idea to buy your yogurt plain and add fruit on top. Try to sprinkle on some anti-oxidant rich blueberries, or try some kiwi pieces if you’re a sour candy type of person. Bananas can add potassium, and strawberries will give you a boost of vitamin-C. If it’s still not sweet enough for you, drizzle on a little honey.
Still worried about that chocolate—or should I say magnesium—craving? Raw nuts or seeds will be a delicious addition to your yogurt concoction and satisfy your magnesium needs. Or if you’re really having a bad day, go crazy with a whole grain bagel spread with peanut butter and topped with slices of bananas. The next time you’re in the health food aisle of the grocery store, try to pick up some carob. It’s a chocolate substitute often found in powered form that is great for cooking. And if you want to eat chocolate in moderation, stick to dark chocolate, which has all of chocolate’s healthy antioxidants without the added fat from milk. Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease blood pressure and prevent plaque formation in arteries during various shortterm trials. Dark chocolate is also much more dense, so it is more difficult to overindulge. Dark chocolate also has eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries. These antioxidants will protect your body from harmful free radicals, which can cause health problems such as heart disease. General sweets cravings usually mean a deficiency in chromium, carbon, phosphorus and/or sulfur. Phosphorus and magnesium can be found in bananas, which are an easy fruit to grab and eat on your way to class. “But I don’t like fruit,” you say. Impossible. There’s more than one fruit in the sea, so to speak. Cantaloupe is easy enough to stick in a Tupperware, and is very high in potassium. I guarantee you’ll find one that works for you and makes your body happy. I’m not saying you need to cut out the sugar completely. Diet is not something to obsess over. But if you eat healthy and keep these vitamins in your life you’ll have much more control over when, where and how you indulge. Here’s a delicious brownie recipe to share with friends. Because who wants to be that person who brings sunflower seeds to a party? Yes, these have chocolate in them. And yes there is sugar. But it’s half the chocolate in your average brownies and one-third of the sugar. Plus, they’re high fiber, extremely high protein and gluten- and dairy-free! No butter! What’s the secret? Black beans. Don’t write them off before you try them. I swear these rich chocolatey treats taste just as good if not better than your average brownie. Except these come guilt-free.
Acceptees express joy about joining Vassar community 2016 continued from page 1 decision period over the next two months, we will be looking to add about 400 more enrolling students to those that came through early decision in order to form the Class of 2016.” Indeed, those who gained admission to Vassar through the EDI and EDII programs are diverse, boast a variety of talents, areexcited to start school in Fall 2012 and are maybe just a little bit quirky. “I could lie and say, ‘small intimate school of friendly rural atmosphere’ [are what brought me to apply to Vassar],” wrote Sylvia King ’16 in an emailed statement, “however, I have and always will be a city girl who loves the noise, heat and danger.” King further went on to state that no matter what she chose to do with her life after graduation, she felt as if Vassar would give her the tools and the opportuinities to reach her goals. Other members of the Class of 2016 cite more mundane reasons for entering into a binding agreement with the College to attend the school. “My brother, Ian [Edwards ’14] is a sophomore and loves Vassar. After I saw how passionate and excited he was about the College, I knew Vassar could very well be the place for me,” wrote Colin Edwards ’16 in an emailed statement. Edwards went on to say that his decision to apply early decision to Vassar was validated after taking an opportunity to visit his brother. “The campus is simply like taking a visual narcotic,” explained Edwards. Other members of the Class of 2016 also cited familiar relationships for introducing them to Vassar.
Matt Zavislan ’16 explained that he had grown up hearing the name Vassar because his step-grandmother is on the Board of Trustees. Johan Williams ’16 was another member of the Class of 2016 who had a familar relationship with Vassar. But while his sister Chloe Williams ’14 is a current student at Vassar, he explained his decision to come was based on other factors. “I chose to apply because of the academic excellence of the school, and because I love the campus. The cross country coaches at Vassar are also very nice,” Williams wrote. Williams continued, “While at Vassar I would like to continue to improve in my running, and to expand my knowledge. I hope to learn more about myself, and the rest of the world.” Regardless of the exact reason for attending Vassar, members of the Class of 2016 will bring diverse experiences to the table, which made Vassar uniquely attractive for them. “I’m from Denver, Colo. and have lived here my entire life,” wrote Zavislan when comparing his hometown to his impressions of Vassar’s campus. “Although parts of Denver are culturally similar to my impression of Vassar, the largest different is that Denver has a definite urban feel to it while Vassar obviously does not.” “I am from Connellsville, Penn,—an hour south of Pittsburgh—though there are a few similarities, there are many differences to be found when comparing it to Vassar,” wrote Edwards. “At both home and Vassar there is a strong emphasis on community, but in contrast to the College, there is a lot of homogeneity and a lack of international influences in my area
which I’m looking forward to experiencing at Vassar, ” he said explaining that he was exicited for the increased diversity Vassar offered. Although Vassar’s incoming freshman class does boast a number of students from within the United States, the school’s far-reaching appeal has also attracted a number of students from overseas, which only adds to Vassar’s diverse student body. “I’m from Korea but I live in China, [so] I go to an international school,” wrote King, who explained that Vassar’s proximity to New York City was a large draw for her. Other soon-to-be students saw Vassar as a chance to expand their interests. “One of the biggest things, and the reason I ended up turning down the offer to go to Whitman [College] to debate for them,” wrote Zavislan,“is that I was to expand my interests and activities.” He concluded, “You only get to go to college once, so why make it the same as any other time in your life?” A semi-finalist at the National Debate Coaches Association National Championships and able to qualify at the High School Tournament of Championships as a junior, Zavislan wrote that although he loved debating, he was excited to try new thing things and explore other academic interests. “My primary academic interest is in philosophy, and within philosophy one of my primary interests is in the philosophical study of power-relations and identity construction,” said Zavislan, explaining that he was familiar with the word “heteronormative” long before he watched “Shit Vassar Kids Say.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Not all students know exactly what they want to study, and instead relish the opportunity to explore an array of academic pursuits. “My interests range everywhere from piano to foreign languages, and at Vassar I feel like I will come to love my interest even more and find out new passions I have to discover,” wrote Edwards. All the new students seem to have high hopes for what they want to achieve. “I hope I can experiment with different things, and figure at least some part of my future out,” wrote King. Ultimately, members of the Class of 2016 saw coming to Vassar as both a great educational opportunity and as the ideal place in which they could mature. “I know it’s going to sound super cliche, but I want to grow as a student and a person,” wrote Edwards. “I’m thrilled to have been given the amazing privilege of studying at one of the leading institutions in America, and I want to take advantage of every opportunity. My interests range everywhere from piano to foreign languages, and at Vassar I feel like I will come to love my interest even more and find out new passions I have to discover.” Regardless of the circumstances that brought them to Vassar, the cheerful voices of the Class of 2016 serve as reminder to the jaded and often sleep-deprived Vassar student to check back in with that excited high school senior who was eager to explore the opportunities that Vassar offered and ensure that excitement and sense of possibilities be kept alive.
February 9, 2012
Graveyard the site of seminal Vassar suffragist rally Christopher Gonzalez
Alex Schlesinger/The Miscellany News
or the Noyes residents who have rooms along the back side of the building, the first thing they see when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they see before they go to bed is a graveyard. While not the most ideal view, the secenery is indicative of many of the myths and legends surrounding Vassar College.“I’m sure there’s something implicitly ominous about saying you live next to a graveyard,” began Cushing resident Yehudi Baptiste ’15, “but in all actuality theres nothing slightly frightening about living so close to it. It’s kind of like living next to a park or playground, only you don’t have any children running around.” “I honestly forget that my room overlooks a graveyard. Luckily, there’s a layer of trees along the fence, which serves as a nice buffer between campus and the boneyard. It was a little creepy at first, but I hardly notice anymore,” said Natalie Hine ’14, who lives in Noyes. The graveyard has not always been such a silent neighbor to Cushing and Noyes Houses. At the turn of the 20th century, suffragettes held a rally that would wake the dead. In 1908, junior Inez Milholland came back from a summer spent in England a militant suffregette. She had participated in a number of Women’s Social and Political Union demonstrations while in London, and wanted to bring her enthusiasm back to Vassar. However, then President of the College James Monroe Taylor had forbidden students from holding any meeting that would promote suffrage. As noted in Milholland’s Vassar Encyclopedia page, Taylor decreed that suffrage activities could not take place on campus. Milholland came up with a clever way to stage her rally without breaking Taylor’s rule: She gathered over 50 people on the graveyard for a suffrage rally. 40 undergraduates, 10 alumnae and suffragist representatives gathered under the banner “Come, Let Us Reason Together.”
The rally proved successful on two accounts: Milholland took great steps in moving the women’s suffrage movement forward, and Taylor received the press he so desperately wished to avoid. Her efforts eventually helped pursuade Taylor to allow the students to hold a suffrage debate on campus in 1909. Milholland would eventually go on to be an influential suffragette who was recognized on the national scale. Although once a spot for political discourse, no similar rallies have been held on the graveyard since. The proper name of the nine acres of land is Calvary Cemetery, and it has graves that date all the way back to the 1800s. According to Kathleen Davis, Administrative Assistant at Saint Martin de Porres, the parish that owns the cemetery, “Other than priests and a few veterans you won’t really find someone that was considered famous buried here.” “The parish was originally the Nativity Church on Union Street in Poughkeepsie,” Davis said. It did not become Saint Martin de Porres until 1962 when it changed locations to its current one on Cedar Valley Road. Originally, Nativity was meant to be the name, but the name change occurred to honor the saint that year. Though its name did change, the parish kept possession of the graveyard. Back in the early days of the cemetery, Davis noted that the practice of funerals was much different than those of today. “Burials were an all-day event because it took a day to travel from the church, which was by the river, to the cemetery,” she chuckled. “People would stay there and eat food and just celebrate the person’s life. Now you have the burial and then you go somewhere else.” Davis continued thatthe cemetery can be seen as a more the just a graveyard—it’s a representation of the world and its constant habit of changing. Members of the faculty seem to agree that the cemetery behind Cushing and Noyes is more than just a gloomy backdrop for stu-
Th Calvary Cemetery, pictured above, is a backdrop for many students living in Cushing or Noyes. In addition to its notable use as the site of a suffragist rally, the graveyard also plays host to art classes. dents making their way to Kenyon.Because it is so close, professors find ways to incorporate the space into an academic setting. Last semester, Associate Professor of Art Laura Newman had her Drawing I class vote on a new location to hold class. The students were studying the use of erasure as a drawing technique, and the suggestion of drawing at the graveyard was a clear winner. The Drawing I classes specifically focus on sketching human figures, still lifes and landscapes. “The activity of erasing something generally leaves behind ghost lines—called pentimenti, or memories—of what was erased. It seemed appropriate to be drawing ghosts in the cemetery,” Newman wrote in an emailed statement.
Drawing I student Jeffrey From ’15 found the location to be an interesting departure from the typical landscape location. “When we voted on it, it was clearly the favorite. There is something exciting about using a cemetery in an unconventional way,” From said. He went on to describe the inspirational effect of the light hitting the geometric shapes of the tombstones and the idea of using the graveyard as a cohesive space. Said Noyes resident Anne Silk ’13 of living next to the graveyard, “I mean it is kind of depressing, but after living here for so long it kind of just blends in to the background, just part of the scenery. I don’t even notice it anymore.” However, with its rich and radical history, the Calvary Cemetery deserves a second look on your next excursion to Kenyon.
Returning JYAers reflect upon rewarding world travels Thomas Lawler Guest Reporter
Courtesy of Caroline Symons
s they recount their foreign experiences in the Retreat, relearn the floor plan of Blodgett Hall or celebrate their acclimation back to Vassar with a Mug Night, juniors returning from their semester abroad have not gone unnoticed. With their return, another section of the Class of 2013 departs for a spring semester in countries as numerous as their fall counterparts. Associate Dean of Studies and Director of International Programs Susan Correll has already finished with the Class of 2013. She and the entire International Programs Office are busy sending transcripts and working with the sophomore class in preparation for their semesters abroad next year. “The process began in September,” said Correll, “when we met with the sophomore class for a discussion about JYA allowing students time to adjust their schedule.” While daydreaming of a semester abroad may bring to mind days spent boating on the Seine or taking gondola rides in Italy, Russian majors on the St. Petersburg program brave the weather for an authentic taste of Russia. Double majoring in Russian and art history, Eric Weiner ’12, is grateful to the Vassar-run St. Petersburg program for giving him the opportunity to study in the Hermitage Museum—even on days when the museum was closed to tourists. The St. Petersburg program is an art history and Russian culture program. Students are also given unrestricted access to the Russian Museum. In a country and culture so different than what he was accustomed to, Weiner, who studied abroad in the fall of his junior year, opted to live in a homestay with a Russian woman in St. Petersburg. “One of the main reasons I choose the program was because many of my friends studied aboard but lived in an American dorm and never experienced the culture,” said Weiner. Anyone wishing to improve his or her language proficiency, like Weiner, will find a homestay extremely helpful through the complete immersion into the culture and language. Rosemary Blanchard ’13, a Russian and political science double major, also participated
in the St. Petersberg program. Although she did not have a background in art history before going abroad, she noted that taking classes in both the Russian Museum and the Heritage Museum made her want to take classes within that department when she returned to Vassar. “I took two classes on art history, in the Russian Museum and the Hermitage Museum. They were taught by the curators, which was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience; we studied priceless works of art with people who had spent their life studying them,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “I actually got to hold one of the first piece of porcelain ever made in Europe, touch a tapestry from the 15th century, and hold Rembrandt’s early sketches in my hands—indescribably cool!” Like Weiner, Blanchard had a host mom. “Whenever she went somewhere she would always bring me back a little magnet or something, which was sweet, and she was very patient with my Russian. She didn’t speak a word of English, so it was definitely a full-immersion situation,” wrote Blanchard. Although she enjoyed her time studying in Russia, being abroad ultimately made Blanchard more appreciative of her home institution. “Russia was wonderful, but I missed all of the extracurriculars we have here, not to mention the campus itself,” she wrote. Kristina Meccia ’12, a film major and one of the two senior interns for the International Programs Office, said, “Decide on your academic concentration and then look at the Vassar website, particularly the approved programs, and do not hesitate to ask the opinion of those here in the office.” The Czech Republic is not the first country to come to mind when one thinks about movies, but for film majors the Prague Film School is an intensive and impressive program to consider. Last year, Meccia traveled to the Czech Republic for the Fall 2010 semester. She later decided to extend her JYA at the Prague Film School for the full year. “I did not speak the language so the classes were all taught in English,” said Meccia, “but the school was an international school with students and cultures from all over the world.” Taking classes in directing, cinematography,
A student participating in the Fall 2011 JYA program at the Prague Film School photographs the view of the city from her apartment. The Prague Film School offers practical training in filmmaking and acting. screenwriting and editing, Meccia took away a great understanding and appreciation for the professional filmmaking process. The Prague Film School offers practical training in filmmaking, acting for film and documentary film. For a full immersion program, a trip to the Czech Republic may be worth a look. For Emily Dunuwila ’12, an urban studies major, the decision to study in Sir Lanka was especially meaningful. “My Dad emigrated from Sri Lanka when he was 30 years old, and I myself am half-Sri Lankan,” Dunuwila wrote in a written statement, “so the country has always been symbolically important.” Dunuwila traveled abroad with the Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program for the fall semester of 2010. Structured in three sections, ISLE eased students into speaking Sinhala, the language of Sir Lanka. The program culminated with an Independent Study Research during which Dunuwila lived in a convent, the only safe place for a single
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
woman, and explored alcohol and drug prevention programs for youth. At the end of her program, Dunuwila’s father visited her. “It was such a unique experience to finally be able to speak in Sinhala with my Dad and explore Sri Lanka together without feeling like an outsider,” Dunuwila said. The common thread amongst students as they look back on JYA is the eagerness to discuss their time abroad. For underclassmen with questions or interests in certain programs, Correll encourages them to either contact her or to stop a returning student. Whether about doing a homestay in Sri Lanka or the weather of St. Petersburg in the fall, the post-JYA students will have an abundance to say about their experience. As Dunuwila explained, “There is nothing quite as difficult and frustrating as the process of breaking into a new culture from the outside, but it is also one of the most rewarding and transformative experiences that you’ll ever have.”
February 9, 2012
Miscellany News Staff Editorials
CDRC examination of ACDC proves effective, shows benefits of focus groups L
ast semester, the Campus Dining Review Committee (CDRC) was formed to collect student input regarding the College’s dining system in the face of a contract renewal with ARAMARK Food Services. CoChaired by Vassar Student Association Vice President for Student Life Charlie Dobb ’12 and Assistant Dean for Campus Activities Teresa Quinn, the CDRC’s purpose was to attempt to understand how students use the All Campus Dining Center (ACDC) and to investigate how this relationship can be improved. The CDRC was remarkably thorough in administering focus groups, town hall meetings and campus-wide surveys to speak directly with students about which specific aspects of dining could be most improved. Additionally, the CDRC visited peer institutions to compare Vassar’s dining system to its counterparts at other schools and to see what could be brought back to the College in a continuing effort to improve the quality of student life on campus. This spring, as advised by the CDRC, the ACDC implemented immediate changes to its facilities and food preparation as short-term adjustments, separate from the ongoing contract renewal renegotiation. The ACDC now offers several self-service stations, accurate nutritional information cards and a specialized servery layout, all of which have effectively improved food quality, organization and atmosphere. (“Advised by CDRC, ACDC effects changes to student dining.” 1.25.2012) We appreciate that the CDRC took the opportunity to make constructive changes now, rather than wait for the completion of the contract renewal process.
The Miscellany News Editorial Board has waited to commend the CDRC and Dining Services on their good work until now because we wanted to ensure that the changes and resulting higher quality would last. After several weeks of monitoring the quality of the ACDC—including a special Editorial Board meeting held at the ACDC—we have found that these organizational changes have had a sustained positive effect on dining quality. In our recent dining experience, food options were more diverse and lines were shorter and faster. The changes at the ACDC are mainly organizational, because ARAMARK’s contract renewal has yet to be implemented. Though some recipes have been revamped and chefs were told to adhere to the recipes more closely, most of the improvements have come from slight revisions in employee structuring in relation to the food service organization. Dining staff and their assignments were redistributed throughout the ACDC, a change that has resulted in faster lines, a cleaner and more orderly facility and more productive service as a whole. We look forward to seeing even greater changes at the ACDC once the contract with ARAMARK has been officially renegotiated, as we know that there has not yet been enough time to make structural changes such as drastically altering menus or allocating more funds to pay for ingredients like locally-sourced produce. A greater number of self-service options have led to increased efficiency, shorter lines and a cleaner facility. While
we at The Miscellany News appreciate the tangible improvements made to the ACDC dining experience, we worry that interactions between ACDC staff and students might decrease. Despite the fact that with fewer opportunities to speak face-to-face, students and staff may interact less, we urge students to keep the contributions of the ACDC’s staff in mind while enjoying the new self-service system. We encourage anyone who dines at the ACDC to remain considerate and to continue to treat the dining staff with appreciation and respect. The changes implemented by the CDRC have already enhanced the experience of members of the Vassar community dining at the ACDC. As students, we often do not see concrete results from the various focus groups and review committees on campus, so we applaud the CDRC for speedily executing improvements to the dining system even as the College’s contract with ARAMARK remains under review. In fact, the CDRC’s work has proved so impressive, that we at The Miscellany News recommend that it remain a standing committee, so that it may monitor student satisfaction with Dining Services and recommend adjustments as needed. Additionally, we hope that the success of the CDRC so far will serve as an example to other committees, reinforcing the importance of gathering student input and emphasizing the impact of short-term changes.
t seems an anomaly that a Swiss company would be barred from selling its products in Switzerland. But this is indeed the case for Syngenta, a European agribusiness that manufactures the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine has been banned in the entire European Union due to health concerns, so where does Syngenta turn to sell its product? The United States, of course. Atrazine is the second-most-used herbicide in the United States, following Dow Chemical Company’s RoundUp. Syngenta’s website maintains that atrazine is “one of the most effective, affordable and trusted products in agriculture today.” The company claims that atrazine “boosts U.S. corn output by 600 million bushels per year.” This all sounds well and good, until you look at the herbicide’s dark side. For starters, atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor. In tests performed on frogs, atrazine shrunk male specimens’ voice boxes. The chemical also deformed reproductive organs, turning many frogs into hermaphrodites. Many of the frogs possessed more than two testes and ovaries. Numerous tests on these frogs caused males to produce eggs instead of sperm. Some of the frogs literally changed sexes completely, losing their male organs and growing ovaries. Deformities occurred in frogs which were exposed to as little as 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine. To put that in perspective, that’s 30 times smaller than the EPA’s limit of three ppb allowed in drinking water. But frogs are frogs, right? Surely the same chemical that harms a frog’s genitalia wouldn’t endanger a human’s—so Syngenta would like us to think. However, humans and frogs rely on similarly structured endocrine systems. And while the EPA claims that levels lower than three ppb of atrazine won’t harm humans, our hormones often operate at parts per trillion (ppt). In fact, it only took exposure to 2.5 ppb of atrazine for one frog to make the switch
from male to female. What this means is that miniscule levels of atrazine could impose detrimental consequences upon our bodies. One 2009 study, published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, has already found that birth defects in the United States “were highest for women who conceived during months when atrazine levels were spiking,” according to the Huffington Post. Other studies have linked the chemical to premature births and low birth weights in infants. Endocrine disruptors like atrazine are particularly harmful to fetuses still developing in the womb, and the deformities they engender in our reproductive systems have the potential to lead to sterility. Amplifying the problem is the fact that atrazine is used on half of the United States’ corn supply and over 90 percent of its sugarcane. Such widespread use is beyond alarming, especially considering that large amounts of the herbicide are used in 44 states. Overall, 80 million pounds of the chemical are used in the United States each year. The effects of such extensive application of an agricultural chemical are hardly surprising. Atrazine is now the most common pesticide contaminant of groundwater and surface water in the United States. It is carried in rainfall, and can migrate up to 600 miles from its point of application—meaning that formerly clean water sources can become easily contaminated. Furthermore, atrazine persists in the environment long after it has been used; it is still found in groundwater in France, years after it was banned. A 2009 report by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund documents that more than 40 water systems in four states (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kansas) showed concentrations of atrazine over 12 ppb. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) never notified the public of these concentrations, and actively tried to cover up the levels of atrazine found. In one watershed in the Midwest, atrazine was recorded at 54 ppb. According to a 2009
U.S. energy question defines era Claire Oxford
New York Times article, there is atrazine in the drinking water of 33 million Americans. In fact, a 2003 article in the Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Poughkeepsie’s water supply contained atrazine. Poughkeepsie’s Water Treatment Facility disputes this claim, saying that it tests annually for atrazine and has never found the chemical in the water supply. Despite massive amounts of atrazine contamination nationwide, the EPA hasn’t been willing to take action against atrazine exposure. In fact, it has gone to great lengths to protect Syngenta and deny that atrazine has any negative health effects. In evaluating the toxicity of the chemical, EPA officials met with Syngenta representatives over 40 times, and half of the agency’s studies were led by scientists who had a financial stake in the chemical. Chemical castration and birth defects are serious issues. No company should have the right to fundamentally alter human beings’ hormonal systems, and atrazine is all the more frightening because of its potential to impair the fertility of all who are exposed to it. It affects not only millions of people today, but possibly millions yet unborn. If the chemical goes unchecked, it—along with hundreds of other endocrine disruptors—could hamper human reproductive rates and cause crippling deformities in our sexual makeup for years to come. As the EPA is currently undergoing a new review of atrazine, it should sever itself from Syngenta and follow in the footsteps of the European Union in enacting a full ban of the herbicide. Yes, banning a chemical is a serious undertaking. The EPA would face a backlash not only from Syngenta, but from agribusinesses and their Congressional allies as well. But when the health of millions of American citizens is at risk—and indeed, our reproductive future as well—banning atrazine is a step that must be taken.
ne of the major issues defining the 21st century will be where we get our energy. One of the sources of energy that the United States is currently considering is hydraulic fracking, a.k.a. hydrofracking. Hydrofracking has been praised as a way to reduce our foreign dependence on oil. However, the benefits of hydrofracking are exaggerated by its supporters, and the process has devastating environmental impacts. Hydrofracking, as used in the United States, is a process used to extract oil and natural gasfrom the Marcellus shale, a geological area running through much of the American northeast. First, water is mixed with chemical additives and then pumped into the ground to push up the oil and natural gas. (The process takes six to eight million gallons of fresh, clean water per fracking.) The water is then either left underground or is pumped to waste treatment plants. The effects of hydrofracking have been widely debated. Some experts speculate that hydrofracking could be causing minor earthquakes in areas where it is practiced. Furthermore, it is a huge drain on the fresh water supply. The water used in fracking is mixed with dangerous chemicals and thus becomes hazardous waste, but in many instances is not properly disposed of. Supporters of hydrofracking argue that the process will reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. In his recent State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama endorsed hydrofracking, and promised Americans that steps would be taken to ensure it would be done safely and transparently. However, even this argument misses the point, because much of the oil acquired via hydrofracking is set to be piped out of the United States, and therefore it would have no impact on imports of foreign oil. There are undeniable benefits to hydrofracking. Hydrofracking does create new jobs for Americans, often in regions that are struggling economically. The parts of New York situated above the Marcellus shale are upstate, and the potential increase in jobs has the ability to greatly improve the economy. Furthermore, hydrofracking makes energy more affordable because it makes the process of extracting natural gas easier. Despite the economic expansion offered by hydrofracking, however, many cities have already decided the environmental costs outweigh the benefits. Buffalo sits on top of the Utica Shale, but has already passed a ban on hydrofracking. New York State currently has comparatively strict laws regarding hydrofracking, in contract to West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where most hydrofracking occurs. Energy companies have spent millions of dollars on lobbying the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow hydrofracking. Environmental groups have also been active in their opposition. The New York State government recently indefinitely postponed voting on a bill that would allow hydrofracking; this can be seen as a minor victory for grass roots movements opposed to it. The Vassar Greens are opposed to hydrofracking, as its environmental impacts are devastating. The Greens have been actively involved in protests against hydrofracking in the past year. Hydrofracking is going to be among the most relevant issues in this fall’s elections, especially at the state level. Elected officials’ decisions on hydrofracking have the potential to drastically affect the environment in New York in the very near future, and potential voters should follow the discussion closely.
—Gabe Dunsmith ’15 is a member of the Vassar Greens.
—Claire Oxford ’14 is a member of the Vassar Greens.
—The Staff Editorial represents the opinion of at least two-thirds of the 23-member Miscellany News Editorial Board.
Atrazine a hazard to citizens, environment Gabe Dunsmith
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Who is your Vassar Valentine?
“Brittany Hunt, because she’s been staring at me this entire time.”
Caroline Symons ’13
“Julia Hanna, the leader of the Devils!”
Ashlei Hardenburg ’13
“Kathy from the Kiosk.”
February 9, 2012
HHS order violates nation’s Country right to freedom of religion needs new New Left Juan Thompson
he United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an order last week requiring that all religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities that receive federal funding pay for FDA-approved contraceptives for employees, even if said organizations disagree with the use of contraceptives. The decision predictably caused an uproar, and rightfully so, because the Obama administration is completely out of line. Proponents of the mandate argue that it is long past due. They contend that, once a religious institution enters into seemingly non-religious activity, such as running hospitals, they must then follow the same laws as secular employers. What proponents fail to realize is that religious institutions view their hospitals, schools and charities as extensions of their religious faith and activity. The Catholic education apparatus, for example, was formed as a response to the bigotry that Catholic immigrants experienced upon arriving in the United States. They, along with Lutherans and other religious minorities, built a new education system based on their own religious principles and values, which had been shunned by society. Moreover, numerous states across the country have adopted versions of the conscience clause, a law declaring that religious institutions may choose not to provide or support medical activities or services if they feel that doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The Obama administration, in its mandate, threatened that if religious institutions didn’t follow the mandate they would lose their federal funding. This threat is a clear form of punishment. Another argument pushed by supporters of the HHS decision is the claim that women will now no longer experience discrimination. The argument claims that all sorts of male medications—such as male enhancement drugs—are covered but contraception for women is not. If this is true, so what?
Religious institutions have not railed against such drugs because they don’t violate their principles on the issue of life. Birth control clearly does. Furthermore, there are ample opportunities for women to seek out affordable and effective birth control, without their religiously affiliated employer having to pay for it. The decision also sets a bad precedent. What if a conservative government takes over next year and attempts to dismantle pro-choice initiatives by threatening to cut their funding? How can we oppose such a move if we support the Obama administration’s incursion? But to me, this issue is mostly about religious freedom. I support women having access to birth control, as do the overwhelming majority of Americans. The law allows for this thanks to the landmark decision rendered by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut. I’m also staunchly pro-choice and I realize that women’s reproductive health is under attack by conservative extremists, as evidenced by the foolish, and now reversed, decision by the Susan G. Komen foundation to cut off grants to the invaluable organization Planned Parenthood. Nonetheless we still live in a country whose constitution clearly proclaims the freedom of religion. Directing religious institutions to violate their beliefs is an assault on those rights. No one forces anyone to work at a Catholic school or hospital. Anyone who chooses to be employed at such a place knows what the church’s dogma is. No one is forced to work there and nor should the church be forced to cover something it finds objectionable or immoral. No bureaucrat at HHS should be ordering America’s churches what to do. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “In justice, too, to our excellent Constitution, it ought to be observed, that it has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary.” —Juan Thompson ’14 is a political science major.
Mickey Mahar ’12
Zach Leatherman ’15
“Amina and Percy.”
Eli Stiefel ’12
“Desmond, the Moon Bear.”
Gary Linkevich ’13
—Juliana Halpert, Photography Editor Alanna Okun, Humor & Satire Editor
Spencer Resnick Guest Columnist
he Port Huron Statement, drafted by the Students for a Democratic Society in 1962, represented a clarion call for a generation of activists. It was the manifesto of the New Left, issued at the dawn of a decade of student radicalism. The Old Left of labor organizers, Trotskyite communists, and social democrats gave way to a New Left of radical students, liberation movements and anti-war activists. The nexus of struggle shifted from the workplace to the university, from the working class to the radical youth. It has been 40 years since that document came into being. It was written at a time when it looked like the welfare state would exist forever, when it looked like students were going to replace workers as the vanguards of the coming revolution. It looked like another future was possible. 40 years later we are fighting to hold on the last shreds of a social safety net. Our generation may end up less prosperous than our parents’. 40 years later we look back on a generation of intellectuals who turned the university into a “progressive,” yet still elitist institution—who left the streets in favor of board rooms, cashing in their educational privilege. The promise of the student radical has been replaced by reality of privileged elites. The students who lack the resources of these elites face an increasingly perilous future. The student debt bubble is now passing the trillion-dollar mark. Pell grants, which covered 77 percent of our parents’ educations at four-year public universities, are covering 35 percent of ours. In the past 40 years we have watched that 1960s generation cede ground to the scourge of neoliberalism. We’ve watched the small gains made by working people reversed at the hands of corporate power. We’ve watched corporations subvert our democracy and we’ve been told to sit down and shut up, because freer markets equal freer people. But I still don’t feel free. I know a lot of young people who feel the same. The Port Huron Statement is looking like a dream deferred. It is time to update that dream. We need a statement that rejectsthe neoliberal era of austerity, student debt, busted unions, derivatives speculation, mass incarceration of a generation of people of color and a failing education system. We need a new New Left. We’ve gotten off to a great start with the Occupy Movement. Unless we build on these gains in the coming months, we will not be able to create the same opportunity we had in 1962, and we will look back on what could have been. This spring we will take the offensive. On March 1, students throughout the country will protest the debt, tuition hikes and cutbacks that turn higher education into a privilege. Vassar activists will be protesting in solidarity with all students that day. We know that this crisis is our generation’s crisis, and that many of us will be graduating with debt, dim job prospects, or both. The Port Huron Statement describes the university as “a potential base and agency in a movement of social change.” On March 1 we will affirm that truth and draft a Port Huron Statement for our generation of students. This spring, as students fight back and the Occupy Movement evolves, we will begin to form a Left for our times. If it sounds ambitious, remember the words of the original manifesto: “If we appear to seek the unattainable...then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.” —Spencer Resnick ’15 is a member of Vassar Young Democratic Socialists
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
February 9, 2012
UN Security Council must intervene in Syrian conflict Lane Kisonak
ast year’s international military intervention in Libya, crucial in the overthrow of the late Muammar Gaddafi, will surely be remembered for the spirit of multilateralism in which it was undertaken. The United Nations (UN) Security Council passed Resolution 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone and calling for the protection of Libyan civilians from their violent and repressive government. There were five abstentions—Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany—but no nation saw fit to derail the process with a veto. The urgency of the Libyan problem was clear to all involved, and the UN recognized that its responsibility to protect the Libyan people—in the new, legalistic form of R2P—had been triggered. The nations of the world had placed themselves in the unique situation of being legally bound to impinge on a nation’s sovereignty. This time around it is Syria that has captured the world’s attention; last weekend the Syrian government bombed the city of Homs, killing what is estimated to be over 200 people. All told, the UN estimates that over 5400 people have been killed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since anti-government protests erupted last March. In the intervening months, most of the world has rightfully condemned Assad’s acts as nothing less than mass murder. Hours after the Homs massacre the UN Security Council was poised to pass a resolution backing a plan developed in coordination with the Arab League to quell the violence and formally condemn the Assad regime. At this critical moment Russia and China both voted to veto the resolution, leaving the Syrian people in the lurch where they’ve been for nearly a year. The Russians, it must be noted, have been holding up UN Security Council discussion of the Syrian conflict for months and keeping sanctions out of draft resolutions. They also
sell weapons to Syria, and maintain a military base in the country, according to Bloomberg. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after the vote, characterized the Russians as obstructionistic. Its chief rationale for vetoing the resolution came from concern that Assad was being “singled out,” according to the BBC. China, for its part, called the resolution “unproductive,” and was likely motivated to veto by its traditional solidarity with Russia and its interests in maintaining stability of leadership in the Middle East. Russia’s and China’s unwillingness to cast aside the Assad regime has had the secondary effect of weakening the Arab League, an organization that gained prominence as it helped to marshal international support for the Libyan intervention, and had begun to show promise as a forum for coalition in the conflict-ridden Middle East. What can the international community do to help Syria now that the resources of the UN have been locked away? According to the Associated Press, Secretary Clinton has advocated for medical supply and food airlifts. President Barack Obama, despite calling for Assad’s resignation, has not explicitly suggested there should be any military intervention in Syria, probably because he senses that the political stars have not aligned here as they did so convincingly for Libya. More and more the situation on the ground in Syria appears to be sliding out of control. Humanitarian intervention on the ground is becoming increasingly dangerous. The Economist notes that Russia’s and China’s intransigence is costing them international support on the matter, including the backing of South Africa and India. It is, of course, already taking too long to implement a decisive plan of action against Assad, but perhaps with time a coalition may present itself if support continues to increase. Meanwhile, Syria is currently in the process of drafting a new constitution, the passage of which will be subject to a national ref-
erendum. International leaders, however, are skeptical of the fruits this process will bear, given the emptiness of Assad’s past guarantees of political reform. “[W]hat we seem to have is a re-upping of this same offer that Assad has been making for months and months and months,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. There are those who argue that the intervention in Libya should never have come to fruition, and set an irreversible precedent. Generally these people argue that national sovereignty should remain an inviolable principle in spite of despicable actions states may take against their own people—an argument
Anything less than international intervention is an abdication of our responsiblity to protect, and a trajedy for Syria.
that directly contradicts R2P, which has been in place since 2005. With respect to American action, opponents of R2P argue that presidents might invoke it in order to circumvent the War Powers Resolution. But all these arguments fail to address the vacuum that remains when R2P is taken away and a state disregards the constraints of its sovereignty—which, as argued by former State Department director of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic last year, is nothing less than the obligation to “‘protect and serve’” its people— and begins to systematically kill its citizens. R2P currently provides for potential inter-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
vention on a case-by-case basis, and as we saw in the lead-up to the Libya intervention, the process of intergovernmental cooperation remains relatively informalized. In my estimation, the current system does not go far enough. Had Russia and China been operating on the same incentives that led them to veto a Syria plan last year, Muammar Gaddafi may well have gotten away with his murderous war against civil protest. The Security Council veto works directly against the spirit of R2P. As Slaughter noted in a separate Atlantic article, R2P effectively gets rid of what she calls the “closed sphere” assumptions embedded in the UN Charter, transforming sovereignty from a quantity particular to a “territory and a defined population” and connecting it to a worldwide system of accountability. When one country can derail this system, whether because it has a weapons deal or because it values the regional status quo, all oppressed people suffer for it. A piece posted on the Slate website the day after the veto makes the case that the composition of the UN Security Council is a product of the post-World War II environment and should be updated to reflect the current balance of power. Once again, however, the veto pops up as a roadblock to reform. It allows the persistence of an institution that remains largely ineffective as a whole, only emerging as a true power when it is graced with the luck of political expedience. It is impossible to say that Libya got lucky; thousands of civilians had died by the time NATO and European forces enforced the no-fly zone. But conditions in Syria are just as dire, and deserve the same response afforded Syria. Anything less is a failure of international law, an abdication of our responsibility to protect, and a tragedy for the Syrian citizenry. —Lane Kisonak ’13 is a political science major. He is also Opinions Editor for The Miscellany News.
February 9, 2012
Komen Foundation decision reveals war against women Women’s health orgs, Democrats sell out women’s rights Bill Crane
here is something troubling about the Susan G. Komen “For the Cure” Foundation’s recent decision to halt donations to Planned Parenthood, even after the Foundation shamefacedly reversed their stance after a national storm of protest. What is troubling may at first seem a bit obscure, but here we see one of the most urgent issues facing American women: a war against abortion rights and women of the working class. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is the most prominent national force fighting the epidemic of breast cancer. It is responsible for many public initiatives, such as the national Race for the Cure, and its popular pink bracelets have become a ubiquitous symbol in fundraising for the search for a breast cancer cure. While the Komen Foundation has faced many questions about how much money it spends on actual research that can lead to a cure, as opposed to what are essentially marketing campaigns, possibly the best impact it has had comes in the form of large donations to local chapters of Planned Parenthood, given with the purpose of funding mammograms for lower-income women who are likely to be without health insurance. That is, it was until last week, when Komen abruptly announced that it was withdrawing donations to Planned Parenthood in accordance with its new policy to suspend funds given to groups under investigation at a federal or state level. Currently, Planned Parenthood is being subjected to what can best be described as a witch-hunt in the halls of Congress, launched by Florida Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns, to determine whether federal grants are being allocated to fund abortions. For a couple days at least, Komen seemed to be blissfully unaware that its decision could lead to the deaths of thou-
sands of working-class women who have no other options for breast cancer screenings. Let’s consider for a moment the context in which Komen made this choice. Last year over a thousand anti-choice bills were brought forward at the state or national level with the intention of limiting or eliminating access to abortion. In North Carolina, for instance, laws have been passed to institute a new waiting period, and to force women to look at an ultrasound of the fetus, before aborting. In the same state, Republican Representative Larry Pittman recently called for a return of public hangings, with abortion providers being the first victims, declaring: “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will...have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings.”Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum speak openly about forcing women who have been raped to carry a pregnancy to term. In this atmosphere, the Komen Foundation’s decision to withdraw funding makes it clear that they care more about bad publicity from the lunatic right wing than they do about poor women— and are willing to throw them under the bus in exchange for an end to conservative criticism. Of course, neither the funds given to Planned Parenthood by Susan G. Komen nor the federal government go anywhere close to abortions (and other groups that are under investigation did not have their funding cut) but that is beside the point. The point is that we are in the middle of a nationwide assault on the right of a woman to choose what is the right time for her to have a child. This assault, while launched by the crazier parts of the GOP, has been aided and abetted by Democrats, most significantly in the form of the Stupak Amendment to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which forces women to
buy separate coverage or go out-of-pocket to have an abortion and placed abortion rights in the role of political football to weaken health care reform in general. Despite what the media may tell you, the right to abortion is far from being a question of morals. Christian morality has always been flexible, which is one reason why the Catholic Church did not see abortion as a sin until the middle of the 19th century. It is, rather, a question of control. A woman, especially a working woman, deciding if and when to have children challenges the ability of the ruling class to make her have children and bring them up gratis as part of the next generation of workers. It also means she is able to keep her job if her workplace is one of many that will attempt tofire her in the event she becomes pregnant, whether on
Quite simply, we are facing a massive assault against women’s rights and economic justice. purpose or by accident. For wealthier women, the assault on abortion rights does not impose any restrictions, for the time being, on their ability to have an abortion. Most of them will be able to go out-of-pocket to cover the procedure, and will be able to travel the many miles to what may be the one facility in their state that will do it. Working-class women, in contrast, are most often unable to do either of these things. Enforcement of anti-choice laws re-
quiring parental consent, lengthening the waiting period for the procedure, and so on are an attack on all women, but their effects will be primarily felt by the working class. In this light, Komen’s decision was an utterly disgraceful concession to the anti-women and anti-working class assault that is currently playing out in legislatures across the country. Komen’s decision to continue funding Planned Parenthood mammograms in response to a massive uproar is welcome, but it also clarifies the nature of the struggle ahead of us. Quite simply we are facing a massive anti-woman (not pro-life) assault. To combat it means uniting with the new, more militant movements for women’s rights (SlutWalk, for instance) and economic justice (most prominently, Occupy). In this struggle we can rely only on ourselves, and not on organizations like Susan G. Komen that claim to support women’s health, and certainly not on the Democrats; both of these groups have sold out women’s rights time and time again. They will happily do so again if we let them. —Bill Crane ’12 is an Asian studies major.
The Miscellany Crossword by Jonathan Garfinkel, Crosswords Editor ACROSS
Patriots lost…again, if you
71. Mr. 7-foot wingspan,
1. “Elite” MVP
25. “Ajar” in Oslo
4. Sacker with a scary mask
27. “___ Lopez” (achess
41. Electricity units
8. Salsa dancer
42. Big Blue!
29. Some frocked ones,
43. Big Blue!
2. “This is so _____!!” (Xbox
13. “This one goes out to the
44. Big Blue!
46. Audio connector type,
3. ____ facto
14. Game-changing Man-
31. “Fear and Loathing”
4. Winning Coughlin, or BIG
47. Aashim, for one (abbr.)
16. Some fuzzy boots
34. “Hey kids, there’s no
48. Former Bush Jr. Press
5. Many “locals”
17. Ticks or tocks, briefly?
6. Perfume with smoke
18. Street speak
49. Preppy icon NYSE-ly
7. Gene Simmons and Friends
19. Make fun of
50. Four-legged domestic
8. Medicare agcy.
21. ____ bucco
39. With 70-across, game
9. Car-race type
23. Many law firms, briefly
42-44-across won (and the
51. Calif. scenic route
10. Russian mountain range
54. South Korean President
11. Zn on a table?
12. Former Red Sox pitcher
57. Marie and others in Paris,
15. Category for Snoop, Dr.
59. The City of Brotherly
Dre, and the like, briefly
Love (in a hurry?)
20. Not more energetic
61. Sets the speed
22. Popular cookie sandwich
63. Steak and eggs (and
26. Applies some wet heat
hash brown) dispensary
below the Mason-Dixon line,
28. Rocky Mountain native
29. One of a Stooge Troika
65. Scissor Sister Matronic,
30. Pro-laxer org.
36. Pothole-fillers (abbr.)
gery on an inmate, perhaps
31. “Battle _____ of the
37. Ed.’s mark
49. Sneaks a look
66. Receiver Hakim _____
40. Tolkien creature
50. Precious oyster slime
58. Tasty bar
67. Eye part
32. 9 out of 12?
41. Car org.
51. Certain model
60. Certain holy journey
68. Prelude to a shot?
33. Itar-____ news agency
44. A “piece” in the hood?
62. US Draft administrators,
69. Aaron in coverage
34. Ain’t properly?
45. High ranking cop, briefly
70. See 39-across
35. South Sudan tribe
48. Do some emergency sur-
54. “3 4 +” in mathspeak
64. Sackmaster Umenyiora
Answers to last week’s puzzle
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
HUMOR & SATIRE
February 9, 2012
Weekly Calendar: 02/09-02/15 by Alanna Okun, Humor & Satire Editor Thursday, 2/9 3 p.m. Tea. Ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Vassar. Rose Parlor.
Friday, 2/10 9 a.m. Chinese and Japanese Cultural Day. Tokyo Express and Chan’s Peking Kitchen III totally count. Aula. 3 p.m. Tea. If you see that your beloved is about to unknowingly head for a Retreat check-out line where someone is paying with a credit card, violently fling your body in front of them à la Nicolas Cage in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Rose Parlor. 8 p.m. Condom Couture. Marc Jacocks. Alexander Dickqueen. Vera Wang. Villard Room.
Saturday, 2/11 10 p.m. Bar Mitzvah Mug Night. BYO kosher wine, absurdly large checks from unknown relatives, bacne. Mug. 8 p.m. The Vagina Monologues. “Ughh, I’m sick of them doing this event every single year. Isn’t it time we thought
outside the box and performed something new, something innovative, something like the Penis Dialogues?!?” “You’re right, straight white boy from Westchester, you’re looking super oppressed right now.” Shiva. 10 p.m. Indecent Exposure Valentine’s Day Standup. You definitely don’t want to miss the only event this weekend where a group of women stands up one by one and discusses their lady-bits. Sanders Auditorium.
on Craigslist Doesn’t Necessarily Have Your Best Interests at Heart, Even if His Lucrative Personal Massage Job Offer Seems Appealing. Faculty Commons. 7 p.m. God vs. Gay: A lecture on Homosexuality and Religion. Hot. Rocky 200.
3 p.m. Tea. Go on an amorous stroll around Sunset Lake and through the Shakespeare Garden. Don’t rest until you spot a pair of wompwomps doing it. Rose Parlor.
10 a.m. Catholic Mass. Valentine’s super secret bonus: Take your hottie du jour to atone for all their sins. If you’re really classy, be sure to slip them an extra communion wafer. Chapel.
10 p.m. Trivia Night. Question #100101110: How come the gourds I bought on Halloween still haven’t gone bad? Faculty Commons.
3 p.m. Tea. Invite the object of your affection to Late Night at the Lehman Loeb. Make sure their pockets are extra deep to insure maximum cheese-stealing capabilities. Rose Parlor.
3 p.m. Tea. Come up behind your loved one in the Villard Room/Mug/THs. Start bucking and swaying against their butt. Repeat until they give in and let you suck on their face. (Let’s be serious this is the only one that actually has a chance of working. Who says romance at Vassar is dead?) Rose Parlor.
5:30 p.m. Job Search Workshop. Lesson #1: Why Randy
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
February 9, 2012
Russel pioneers queer theory in literature at Vassar Emma Daniels Reporter
Alex Schlesinger/The Miscellany News
amed Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “For various reasons, I find it inordinately hard to speak about my other brother.” Professor of English Paul Russell decided to investigate the rich story behind Nabokov’s words in his newest book The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov: A Novel. Released last November, the book centers on Nabokov’s gay brother, Sergey. Nabokov barely mentions Sergey in his autobiography, and in 1915 publicly outed Sergey’s homosexuality. In 1943, Sergey was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where he died in 1945. “I wanted to reclaim that life, somehow, from all various forces— familial and historical—that conspired to essentially erase his existence,” said Russell. The book, Russell’s seventh novel, was well received by critics. Publisher’s Weekly praised it highly; an excerpt from their review reads, “Sergey’s struggles with his sexuality, as well as his adventures and misadventures in the salons and clubs of prewar Europe, are drawn with humanity. With compelling characters and steady prose, the reader will breeze through this pleasurable, heart-breaking account of the other Nabokov.” The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov differs markedly from Russell’s other six novels; it is research-based, since it takes as inspiration the true life of Sergey Nabokov, and is set in a past Russell doesn’t ordinarily work with. “I even joked when I was writing it that I’d have to write the first half of a sentence and do the research to write the second half of a sentence,” Russell said. His other novels—The Salt Point, Boys of Life, Sea of Tranquillity, The Coming Storm and War Against the Animals—are set in various American locations in a past much different from his most recent creation. Rus-
Professor of English Paul Russell, pictured above, investigates the rich story of Sergey Nabokov, brother of writer Vladimir Nabokov, in his latest book The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov: A Novel. sell also has a work of nonfiction, entitled The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present, which has been translated into ten languages. Russell teaches a variety of courses at Vassar. His academic interests include authors like Dickens and Proust, Nabokov, queer studies, 20th-century British and Irish literature, and creative writing. Currently, he is teaching a seminar on James Joyce’s Ulysses, a six-week course on Virginia Woolf, and a 200-level English course entitled Gay Male Fiction in America after 1945. Russell came to Vassar in 1983, and since then the courses he has taught have changed drastically—especially those
centered on gay and lesbian studies. Russell noted, “It’s certainly made it a congenial intellectual environment for me, and I’m not sure that my career as a writer would have necessarily developed in the same way if I had been at a different institution.” Vassar clearly has a strong LGBTQ presence now, but in the 1980s, Russell taught the first-ever gay-themed course offered at Vassar, in the American Culture Department. The course was vaguely—and deliberately—called Minority Culture in America, and covered what Russell saw as the breadth of the nascent field. “It was seen as very daring and experimental, and it’s a sign of how times change that the administration wouldn’t let me use
the word gay or homosexual in the title of the course,” Russell explained. “Having ‘gay’ in the title of a course on your transcript was seen as something that would doom your employment chances forever.” Today, Vassar offers several queer studies courses. In 2000, the first independent queer studies major was approved. Russell teaches some, but not all of its courses. “When I was putting my gay course together in the late 1980s I could feel that I mastered the subject, but now there is so much out there that there is no one person in the world that could master the field; it’s gone viral as a subject,” Russell said. “Today there are classes in queer studies in both the Philosophy Department and Women’s Studies Program, and they don’t share any common readings.” Russell has been influential in shifting Vassar’s course selection, and more broadly its attitudes with respect to LGBTQ issues. He noted that Vassar as an institution was not exempt from feeling the brutal impact of the AIDS epidemic on social attitudes. Still, the institution and the larger community has persevered. His recent book on Sergey Nabokov and his other gay characters, as well as his gay-themed classes, have all promoted tolerance of the LGBTQ community, and been influential in the creation of a vocal LGBTQ community. “Some of my favorite students died of AIDS, but others have become prominent in gay activism. For example, Michael Silverman [’91], one of the most important lawyers for transgender issues in the United States, sort of got his intellectual start in one of my gay classes,” Russell said. “That’s the kind of thing that makes you feel better when you wake up in the middle of the night and ask ‘Why am I doing this, is it just futile?’” Russell said. “It confirms that I have done my little part to make a difference and a difference has been made.”
Painter Rothko a subject of interdisciplinary engagement Matthew Hauptman Assistant Arts Editor
Courtesy of the Francess Lehman Loeb Art Center
amed painter Mark Rothko once said his paintings are not about the relationship of color or form. “I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on,” Rothko said. On Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in Taylor 203, four professors will get their chance to interpret one of the modernist’s works held in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (FLAAC), entitled “No. 18,” 1948 at this year’s Kaleidoscope: Interdisciplinary Views on Art. Each professor comes from a different department, and in turn a different discplinary lens. Associate Professor of Psychology Carolyn Palmer, Associate Professor of Art Peter Charlap, Professor of Biology Kathleen Susman, and Professor and Co-chair of English Patricia Wallace will analyze the painting. What a classic liberal arts event this is,” Palmer observed. Because Kaleidoscope lectures in the past have relied heavily on humanities professors, Butler wanted to invite professors from the sciences to offer their take. “I’ve also tried to incorporate some element involving students, or something performative,” Butler said. Michael Masure ’12 and Charlie Nicholson ’12 will also perform an excerpt from John Logan’s “Red,” a two-man play in which Rothko’s fictional assistant, Ken, brashly questions his theories on art. Masure and Nicholson performed the play in full last semester. Palmer is particularly interested in movement as it relates to Rothko’s piece; she has tried to understand the ways in which Rothko’s painting engenders different aspects of physical and nonphysical movement. “Psychology is about being an animal that figures out how to use resources, to survive, to relate to other animals,” said Palmer. Applying this core principle of psychology to Rothko’s painting has been most helpful and rewarding for Palmer, as she begins preparing for the event. “I’m looking at his paintings differently now,” she explained. “And I hope that the audi-
ence will also encounter this particular work with fresh eyes and minds.” Charlap will assess Rothko’s aesthetic concerns and how they manifest in the painting itself. “I’ll be talking about the painting as a painting, how it was made, why it looks the way it does. Most of this will relate to how Rothko’s use of thinned paint changed his painterly vocabulary. This is especially meaningful to me because I’m also a painter,” wrote Charlap in an emailed statement. “Hopefully the audience will see how Vassar’s painting registers a critical moment in Rothko’s development.” Rothko’s use of color has fascinated and puzzled artists and art historians for quite some time, but his color compositions have also intrigued biologists such as Susman. “What does color mean to us?” asked Susman, who believes that Rothko’s paintings lend themselves quite nicely to what she calls the “biology of color.” Colors, in other words, often evoke a wide range of emotions and thoughts, and biologists have frequently been interested in how colors achieve certain effects on animals’ psyches. “I’m really excited to bring that biological substrate into a work like [Rothko’s],” said Susman. “And I hope that those who are not scientists experience an excitement and realize that these ways of looking at [art] are accessible to everyone.” A poet and literary critic, Wallace will ground her discussion of Rothko’s painting with many questions in mind. “What does it mean to put the experience of a painting into words?” Wallace asked. “What is the nature of that experience? What kind of attention does it ask for and teach us?” Wallace suggested that the experience of looking at a painting always changes upon each additional viewing. “A painting leaves a kind of imprint on your memory,” Wallace said. During her presentation, Wallace hopes to illuminate the radiance of Rothko’s piece and how the experience of looking at art draws attention to an artwork’s radiant quality. Art critics have often labelled Rothko’s oeuvre abstract, but as Wallace noted, “That line between abstraction and realism is so permeable,
On Thursday, Feb. 16, four professors will speak about their department’s point of view of Mark Rothko’s famous work “No. 18,” 1948, pictured above, as part of Kaleidoscope: Interdisciplary Views on Art. and the quality of radiance speaks to that permeability.” Wallace believes that Rothko’s work deliberately and painstakingly highlights the ambigu-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ous distinction between abstract and realist art. “He didn’t want explanations attached to his work because he wanted to maintain the mystery of the experience,” remarked Wallace.
February 9, 2012
Tap dancing finds its niche, community through On Tap Adam Buchsbaum
Carlos Hernandez/The Miscellany News
ast Sunday in Matthew’s Mug, some students danced to “The Show Goes On” by Lupe Fiasco. Well, they tap danced. On Tap, Vassar’s only tap dance group, was busy practicing and rehearsing for its semesterly show. Their clacks were audible from the Mug’s entrance. Co-President Lauren Stamm ’14 began and led the rehearsal. Stamm put the group of advanced and intermediate tap dancers through some rhythmic warm-ups, which became gradually more complex. Founded in 2008, On Tap prides itself on its open atmosphere—auditions are not required, and On Tap teaches beginners as well as veterans. “We’ll get dancers that have never tapped before,” explained co-president Amy Weintraub ’12, “and people that have never danced before.” Weintraub and Stamm both have taught Beginner’s classes. “You try to focus on doing small exercises that allow them to practice fundamentals, and putting them together in different ways—so they can hone their technique, learn how to put different rhythms together, shift their weight,” Weintraub explained. Stamm noted that all tap dancers begin with one dance, known as the shim sham. “It’s nationally known,” Stamm said. “[When] any group of tap dancers come together it’s the only thing everyone can do. It introduces you to the fundamentals of tap dance.” On Tap member Claire Grosel ’14 has helped teach some of the Beginner’s classes for the club. “It’s impressive to see how much they’ve learned so far,” Grosel wrote in an emailed statement. “You’d never guess they only just started this year! I’m so proud of them.” Grosel encouraged any interested students to join their rehearsals on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. in Matthew’s Mug. “It’s really about the rhythms more than how long can you hold your leg up really high. Even though it appears extremely specialized, since it’s based on rhythms, it’s truly accessible to
anyone!” Grosel wrote. “Everyone has a sense of rhythm and if you can walk, than you’re already half-way there to being a great tapper!” “The feeling of dancing in a group making one sound with your feet all together is phenomenal. It really sticks with you through the week (sometimes I practice steps under my desk in class, while listening intently of course!).” Back at rehearsal, Stamm asked her fellow tap dancers, “Wanna do shuffles?” The members stood in a rough line facing Stamm. Stamm turned her back and began to go through the steps. The tap dancers joined in, and soon the group was stepping in unison and following along. The group didn’t use any mirrors, for lack of them. “The good thing about tap is that you can hear what’s going on,” Weintraub noted, “and a lot of the time that’s almost more important than how you look while you’re doing it.” Grosel finds the diversity of tap dance styles within On Tap enjoyable to see. “The student leaders all have their own backgrounds, and it’s really fun to get exposure to all these distinct styles—between Amy’s more traditional ‘cutesy’, Lauren’s grounded and nearly hip-hop rhythms, and the beginners it’s always fun,” Grosel wrote. “That’s something I think a lot of people may not realize about tap…within this type of dance there are a number of distinct styles and trends that change with the times.” On Tap’s members also enjoy the group for its informal atmosphere. “Everyone just helps each other, and it doesn’t really matter if you don’t know a step or if you can’t do a step,” Weintraub said. “It’s a very open group where anybody that’s interested with any level of experience can participate and have a good time and practice and learn new things.” Aside from joining the group, any of its members can choreograph a piece for the semester show—in this year’s case, Weintraub and Stamm are each chreographing. Grosel can’t contain her enthusiasm for the
Above, members of On Tap practice a dance performance in the Mug. Founded in 2008, On Tap is Vassar’s only tap dance group and teaches the style of dance to both beginners and veterans. club. “I joined On Tap freshman year. I have been tapping a number of years before then, since I was 9 years old maybe,” Grosel wrote. “Since it’s not easy to come by tap teachers where I’m from, and I’ve gone out of my way to keep it up since I was a kid, I knew it was something I wanted to continue with at Vassar; I was so excited to see there was a student-run group!” Besides its semesterly dance performance, On Tap has also collaborated with FlyPeople for the 24 Hour Dance-a-Thon, and hopes to work with some of the Music Department’s Jazz Combos to put on a Thursday Jazz Mug Night. The group also might attend the DC Tap
Festival in early April, a festival dedicated to tap dance, to take some master classes with the greats of tap dance, and see what is happening in the world of tap dance. “There’s a community of these professional tap dancers that I got to know. They’d come in, teach us choreograph, lessons, technique, all these things,” Stamm said. “It’s this great community that you can’t ever leave, and you can always relate to these people.” On Sunday, the dancers stomped and kicked and tapped on the Mug’s floor. Stamm began to lead the group through another move. “Five, six, seven, eight,” she said to them all, and they all moved in unison.
Student artists unite to display work at the Palmer Jack Owen
Assistant Arts Editor
Pavel Shchyhelski/The Miscellany News
he Palmer Art Gallery seldom has exhibitions that are organized entirely by student artists, which makes “the house-shaped hole” a particularly unique event. Art majors Samantha Ives ’12, Noah Lourie Mosher ’12, Juliana Halpert ’12 and Samantha Shin ’12 are the organizers and featured artists. [Disclosure: Juliana Halpert is Photography Editor for The Miscellany News] The opening reception of the event, which will include bread baked by Lourie Mosher, is on Feb. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Palmer Gallery, and the exhibit will be up through March 1. “The greater theme of the show is, to some extent, childhood and growing up, and the idea of nostalgia,” Ives said. Ives attributed the group’s inspiration for the show’s theme to a lecture given last September by Raqs Media Collective, which addressed the idea that history is comprised of “event-shaped holes.” Applying this notion to their own lives, the group of artists came up with their exhibition’s name and theme. As their Vassar careers come to a close, the artists want to utilize this exhibition to express the complicated, personal processes of looking back. “We wanted to look at the home as you’re looking out from it. The house shaped hole is what we are leaving,” explained Ives. “It’s an exhibition of our recent works, and not all of the pieces relate to the theme,” Lourie Mosher said. “Some of it does obliquely and some of it doesn’t at all.” The exhibition will also highlight the diversity in artistic interest among the students. As a group of friends, they have come together to bring a more varied exhibit to the Palmer Gallery, which usually hosts shows employing fewer mediums. Ives, Lourie Mosher, Halpert and Shin work with art in very different ways. “A lot of the [pieces] in [the] Palmer are pretty two-dimensional, so it’s nice to have a more mixed-media show. There’s not usually a lot of variation, and
Noah Lourie Mosher ’12, Juliana Halpert ’12 and Samantha Ives ’12, pictured from left to right, meet in Doubleday Studio to discuss their upcoming Palmer Gallery show, “the house-shaped hole,” opening Feb. 15. we have a nice balance in this show and hopefully everyone will like at least one piece,” said Lourie Mosher with a laugh. Ives often works with sewn and knit sculpture; Halpert is a photographer; Lourie Mosher works in a variety of media, including video; and Shin mainly sculpts and paints. Many of the pieces will convey familiar spaces and ideas, but through different perspectives. “My recent preoccupation has been taking multiple shots of a scene and compiling them together, so it’s a composite image of multiple shots,” said Halpert. “I’m fascinated with the idea of achieving hyper-consciousness through photography, and being able to record every detail.” Halpert will also showcase a piece that features a selection of scribbled notes from over the years that she and her parents have written one another back home. “I thought they went
well with the themes of childhood, mothers and nostalgia, and it’s really funny to look back at some of the notes I wrote when I was little,” she said. Ives, whose works often are suggestive of childhood and her relationship with her parents, will feature a piece comprised of several neutral-colored, felt baby shoes, set in a rich mahogany shelf. “I’ve been thinking about it as an image of the absence of childhood,” she explained. “I’m still thinking of a title, but in my head it’s called ‘I Dream of Youth,’ but I’m not sure yet.” Lourie Mosher will feature a very intimate piece that he’s slightly apprehensive to share. “It’s basically a video of me taking a shower with a vacuum cleaner,” said Lourie Mosher. Spectators will need to look through a box with eyeholes to see a brief video of Lourie Mosher vacuuming his body while in the shower.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“It’s a piece about our daily routines and what we do to make ourselves acceptable to society; we do so much in our daily lives that we take for granted and don’t think about,” Lourie Mosher explained. Shin’s work is perhaps most closely aligned with the show’s preoccupation with the home and domestic space. One of her sculptures is a sizable, unattached roof that will be suspended from the ceiling; another is a foam and wax female toddler placed decidely into the corner of the space. Lourie Mosher, Ives, Halpert and Shin are excited for this show and feel that its occurence towards the end of their Vassar careers only further amplifies its significance. “If everything goes smoothly, this will be an immensely rewarding way to conclude my time as an artist at Vassar,” said Halpert. “Vassar has expressed that they trust my friends and me to put on a show, which feels great, and I feel like I’ve gained authority and artistic experience by putting this on,” she concluded. Halpert noted that she and her fellow artists booked the Palmer Gallery space months in advance, after completing an extensive application process, and after multiple meetings with Assistant Dean for Campus Activites Teresa Quinn and local artist Monica Church, who is very involved in the operations of the Palmer. The students expressed their gratitude towards Quinn and Church for their guidance in hosting a student-run show in the Palmer Gallery. “They have to handle a lot of the administrative and publicity issues that accompany putting on a Palmer Gallery exhibition. It’s a lot of work, especially when you’re working with non-professional artists like us who are unfamiliar with this process,” Halpert said. Joseph Redwood-Martinez ’11, Rhys Bambrick ’11, Charlie Warren ’11 and Russell Webner ’11 were the most recent students to both organize and present their own work in a Palmer Gallery exhibition. Titled “this the range and recent,” the students’ show also went up in the spring semester of each student’s senior year, and featured works from multiple media.
February 9, 2012
Nochlin to Measure 4 Measure brings wide reportoire lecture on S feminist art Shruti Manian Reporter
Katie De Heras/The Miscellany News
NOCHLIN continued from page 1 how to present material as well as the material itself.” She is perhaps most well known for her groundbreaking essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” First published in a 1971 issue of ARTnews Magazine, the essay questions why there were no women equivalents for the great men artists like, say, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse or de Kooning. In discussing her own specialty in art history, Kurestky noted that there are also few women artists in the canon of Dutch 17th century Baroque art. “Although few women artists were active in the period I teach,” Kurestky wrote, “I include Judith Leyster and Rachel Ruysch—not only because they were women but because they were good and including them adds an important point of view to the material—Linda drew attention here.” Nochlin argued that the “elitist” structures on which art history is based had systematically excluded women artists, and that social and academic constraints had discouraged women’s pursuit of art-making. The essay dared to challenge both the chauvinistic notions of the maledominated art world as well as emerging feminist viewpoints. Nochlin was a part of a growing movement of feminist scholarship in academia that newly reassessed the role of women in fields within the visual and performing arts. For these reasons, Nochlin is often considered to be a founding mother of feminist art history, but her interests cover an impressively wide range. Kuretsky pointed out, “[Her essay] opened up a whole new area and way of thinking about art, but I’ve thought since that although this piece always get mentioned, Linda herself should not be pigeon-holed as a ‘feminist art historian,’ as her writings range over such a great variety of topics and artists. But no one who reads this article, which came out of a seminar she taught at Vassar, can be unchanged.” Kurtesky first encountered Nochlin as an undergraduate at Vassar during her experience taking Introduction to Art History. “[Nochlin gave] 105 lectures that were of such power and brilliance that people used to sneak back in to hear her,” Kuretsky wrote, “even after they had already taken the course.” Like Nochlin, Kuretsky also graduated from Vassar. Kuretsky went to Harvard, and obtained a M.A. and P.h.D. in Art History. She then returned to her alma mater to teach art history in 1975. Kuretsky at this point became one of the colleagues of Nochlin—the very woman who once taught Kuretsky while she was still an undergraduate student. “Linda was an extremely impressive and inspiring colleague when I came back to teach at Vassar,” Kurestky wrote. “I remember vividly her dazzling lectures in Art 105, ‘Northern Painting,’ and in 19th- and 20th-Century art.” It was one of the first undergraduate art history courses devoted to the study of women in art. During Vassar’s sesquicentennial celebration last year, Nochlin sat down with Professor and Chair of Art Molly Nesbit ’74 and spoke about her introduction to the field of art history. “I took 105 partly because everyone said you had to do it, but also because I heard Adolph Katzenellenbogen give a public lecture on Chartres,” Nochlin reflected. “You know: ideas, sensual beauty, architecture, history. It was like a gesamtkunstwerk [a work of art that makes use of several forms]. That was how I looked on art history.” Nochlin also mentioned in the interview just how lucky she felt to be a student at Vassar, in light of the school’s commitment to women’s education. “I saw that women could be brilliant thinkers and hard-working thinkers and devoted, serious thinkers. And I liked that. I felt at ease, and comfortable,” she said. Throughout her career, Nochlin has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. Her presence at Vassar will surely resonate with students and faculty alike. “She really is a dazzler!” Kurtesky concluded.
ongs by Simon and Garfunkel, Regina Spektor, the Chiffons and the name of a Shakespeare play: sounds like Measure 4 Measure, one of Vassar’s all-female acapella groups founded back in 1981. “A couple of rogue Night Owls decided to branch out and try something new, so they began Measure,” said Alexis Grems ’14, Measure 4 Measure’s Room Reserver. As part of her high school women’s choir, Grems felt drawn towards an all-female acapella group like Measure 4 Measure. “I think we understand the importance of a female acapella group and are dedicated to keeping it that way,” said Grems. Measure 4 Measure is unique because the group’s repertoire runs the gamut from modern pop songs to ’80s songs, jazz numbers, rock songs from the ’50s and even folk songs. “It is an eclectic taste really. You’ll hear songs you’ve never heard before, but then you’ll also hear Lady Gaga. Whatever the occasion is, we probably have a song that fits,” said Grems. Some of their favorites are the aforementioned artists’ songs “Hazy Shade,” “One Fine Day” and “Fidelity.” The prospect of having such a varied repertoire is certainly challenging but it helps that the members of Measure 4 Measure all come from very diverse musical backgrounds and bring their own flair. Jasmyn Mudrich ’14, Measure 4 Measure’s Program Coordinator, was part of her high school’s all-girls show choir. “I was used to belting out songs, even dancing during my performances,” said Mudrich. Grems plays the piano and Goddard also has a classical background. Their different experiences as musicians help the members of Measure 4 Measure put together a varied and interesting repertoire. “It allows us to learn more. We try to take all these different voices, with all these different experiences and bring them all together,” said Emily Goddard ’15, the Secretary of Measure 4 Measure. Measure 4 Measure prides itself on their individualistic sound. “Our sound is very different and complex. Our arrangements are what set us apart, as a group,” said Mudrich. Measure 4 Measure tries to ensure that the every member of their group is given prominence in their performances, often by having multiple soloists for each song. “It is always the showcase of the entire group and no one ever feels as if they’re just in the background. Everyone gets
Member of Measure 4 Measure Caroline Kessler ’12, center, performs a solo at a rehearsal. The allfemale group, founded in 1981, performs a wide range of songs, from ’80s pop to jazz to folk songs.
a piece of the limelight,” said Grems. Mudrich agreed, saying, “The collective effort makes all the difference. We’re even talking about having a show where each of us arranges a song and everyone works on it.” Grems, Mudrich and Goddard all emphasize the community that Measure 4 Measure provides. “When we audition, we obviously look for things like how well someone can sing a melody, whether they have a range, but there is also a huge personality point,” said Grems. Goddard agreed. “I really do think that I fit in with the group very well, and I also did a backbend in my audition,” she said. “We are all fun, quirky and interesting people and our songs and themes reflect that,” said Mudrich. Measure 4 Measure appears to go further to make sure that the singers are all relaxed and comfortable with each other. The group even has an official position called Measure Mama. Members of the group go to the Measure Mama for help with any issues or discomfort they have. “We try to make sure everyone is on a good page and we take the trouble to ensure that. Making music’s a way to release the day’s stress, but it is also the people you make the music with,” said Mudrich.
A weekly space highlighting the creative pursuits of student-artists
really, really love color. That’s a pretty simplistic statement, but it encompasses my entire body of work. It’s my favorite part of painting; early stages of paintings frequently last me weeks because I just want to skip over finishing the drawing and get to the beautiful part. So in that vein, I’ve been progressing towards freehand painting in the past few months. I work almost exclusively in acrylic paint, but I’ve been messing around with found objects in sculpture. My favorite objects that I’ve found so far are a pack of expired Polaroid film and three panels of old lace on glass. This painting is sized about 12 in. x 18 in. and is titled “The Voyeur Pt. 2.” It is part of a diptych about a person’s ability to stabilize himself after outside influences have taken their toll. These particular paintings were inspired by a dream, but I don’t always base my paintings off dreams. Typically I try to leave my paintings open to interpretation. I like when people tell me what they think my paintings mean because it makes painting feel like a collaborative process. I haven’t been painting much since the beginning of the new semester for lack of free time, but I look forward to further experimenting with new colors and new media in the near future. —Gianna Constantine ’14
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One Measure 4 Measure tradition is that when a senior soloist graduates, the group retires the senior’s solo for at least a semester before bringing it back on. “We don’t want our members to feel as if they are forgotten or have been replaced so quickly,” said Mudrich. “A capella would be so different if I were in any other group. Measure rehearsals are always the highlight of my day. The camaraderie and friendship we share makes it all the more special,” said Grems. Measure 4 Measure also collaborates with a capella groups from other colleges. Last semester they performed with the Dartmouth Chords. This semester, they will perform at a study break in Raymond, and their end of semester concert. The group is also working on collaborating with Yale Alleycats, an all-male acapella group from Yale University. Few may know Measure 4 Measure once had Anne Hathaway as part of its group when she was a student at Vassar. “It isn’t something we advertise that often. Anne Hathaway was a decade ago and we are our own group and we’ve always been good,” said Grems. “Measure 4 Measure is always a surprise. A pleasant one,” said Mudrich.
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February 9 , 2012
Artist delves into the sounds of silence Katharine Austin
ollowing the various guild celebrations held at the end of January, awards season is now in full swing. The last main event on the docket is the Academy Awards, airing later this month. As a practicing cinéphile, I try my hardest to see as many of the nominated films as I can—a plan that doesn’t always pan out. I’m dreadfully behind on this year’s buzz-worthy pictures, and not just because of my own time constraints. Moreover, I’ve just lost my faith in the Academy actually picking the best films of the year. I was able to see one of this year’s top contenders, however: Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist. While I’m still skeptical about some of this year’s Best Picture nominees, The Artist was an enjoyable surprise. A silent film about the demise of silent films, The Artist cleverly and beautifully uses the aesthetics of filmmaking to tell a story that goes deeper than the scripted page. The film begins in 1927: a turning point in cinema. This is the year that sound revolutionized Hollywood and cinema forever with The Jazz Singer, the first talkie. The protagonist, George Valentin—played by Golden-Globe winner and Oscar-nominee Jean Dujardin—is a famous silent film actor. With his talented canine companion, played by a terrier named Uggie, George is arguably the biggest movie star at the time. So famous that, like many in the film industry during this period, he does not consider sound a threat to his stardom. He is an artist, after all, as the film’s title professes. Once his studio switches over to solely making talkies, however,
George finds himself out of the job. He attempts to produce his films outside of the studio system, financing his own silent picture. A flop, George is left not only broke but also irrelevant. George is spiraling into self-destruction, a painful emotional journey Dujardin communicates exquisitely. There is much to be said for constructing a character’s psychological mindset without dialogue. Dujardin’s perhaps overly expressive face—perfect for silent cinema—effortlessly conveys the protagonist’s emotional state during his personal and professional demise. While George’s career is on the decline, Peppy Miller—an aspiring actress whom George bumps into at the start of the film, played by the director’s wife Bérénice Bejo—has a career on the rise. The audience sees her progress from a lowly extra in one of George’s silent flicks to a full-fledged talkie star. While a romance blossoms between them during their first professional encounter, their very separate career trajectories keep them apart. The story, however, is really not what’s most important about The Artist. It’s a movie about the movies, and Hazanavicius plays with the aesthetics of film, particularly sound and the absence of sound, to explore the medium in a new way . There are several occasions where everyone on screen falls silent, as they wait for one character to react to a situation in order to respond accordingly. It’s puzzling how these moments carry such weight. The whole film is silent; why should these scenes have such a powerful effect? Hazanavicius’s manipulation of the audience’s response to sound is at its most potent, perhaps,
during a dream sequence, in which George’s life acquires a foley-intense soundscape—birds chirp, his shoes scrape across the floor—but George himself is still unable to speak aloud. It’s literally as if George is not just an actor in silent pictures. His life is as the audience experiences it: a silent movie. (How meta.) Unable to use dialogue to highlight George’s anxiety and torment, Hazanavicius provocatively turns to sound, in a silent film, instead. While this play with sound and silence fascinated me, one aspect of the film’s soundscape left me fairly disinterested: its score. Music is an essential part of any silent film. But while some of composer Ludovic Bource’s themes are beautiful, and composing near wall-to-wall music a lofty task, the score seemed fairly simple overall. (I doubt this will stop it from winning the Oscar, however.) The most impressive moment of the film’s music, sadly, is not Bource’s at all. During one scene, Bernard Herrmann’s score from Vertigo comes in. Why Hazanavicius decided to throw in this work—composed around 30 years after the setting of the film—I’m still not sure. But as a beautiful and complex piece of music, its use was moving nevertheless. While I am not completely convinced that silent cinema is the purest interpretation of the film medium—as Hazanavicius and countless filmmakers at the time of the changeover argue—The Artist makes for a wonderful experience of film’s past and proves silent cinema to be a relevant art form, capable of sweeping the Oscars come Feb. 26. It also proves that nothing delights audiences more than an adorable dog.
For De Heras, photo a day keeps doctor away
“A narrative of racial projects at Vassar since I’ve been here.”
Naimah Petigny ’14
Rahul Kanade ’13
“An analysis on my favorite webcomic.”
Camila Delgado Montes ’13
“Valentinograms for people.”
Hae Seo ’14 Rachel Garbade/The Miscellany News
ver since Katherine De Heras ’13 received her first camera in the eighth grade, she has rarely gone anywhere without one around her neck. Chances are you have probably seen some of her work around Vassar, whether it has been in The Miscellany News, Vassar’s Palmer Gallery or some of Vassar’s student-run groups, such as the Theory of Flight project. You may have even seen some of her work published in New York Magazine. An English major from Santa Barbara, Calif., De Heras is also known for some of her more independent work, like the “365 Project,” where she took a picture for every day of the entire year. After receiving a new 14mm F1.8 lens over the summer, a lens that she considers to be her favorite , De Heras became friends with a photographer in her town and began working with him. De Heras then proceeded to start the “365 Project” on her 19th birthday. “A lot of people start this type of project,” de Heras said, “and I’m surprised when they quit because for me, I couldn’t stop.” De Heras’ photos captured a wide spectrum of experiences during her year— everything from game days, cityscapes, faces, tickets for her semester abroad in Spain, golf balls and feet. “I was inspired to do a 365 Project by some photographers I follow on Flickr,” De Heras wrote in an emailed statement. “I saw undertaking the project as the best way to grow as a photographer, and it was...I took an estimated 16,000 photos--an average of 43 photos a day. There were days when I easily found a dozen things I could photograph and days when I didn’t even want to get out of bed, but I had to take whatever ugliness I was feeling and turn it into art. It wasn’t easy, but it was more rewarding than I can explain.” Six months have passed since the project ended. “It was a really amazing learning process and it was really sad when I finished because at the last photo, it was just
Katherine De Heras ’13 realized her passion for photography when she received her first camera in eighth grade. Her work has been featured in the Palmer Gallery and New York Mazagine. over,” de Heras said. De Heras already has in mind another potential new project. “I’m thinking of doing a 52-week project, which will be one self-portrait for every week, and a more developed photo,” De Heras explained. Separate from De Heras’ yearlong projects, she is also involved in photography for The Miscellany News. “It’s been a wonderful way to attend events to which I normally wouldn’t think of going and meet students and professors with whom I’d have never crossed paths otherwise,” wrote De Heras. Her work with The Miscellany News led her to join a student-run music project here at Vassar, called Theory of Flight. They released an album last May. De Heras’ photos were used for promotional purposes and are featured on the group’s website.
“They’re all really talented,” de Heras said, “and I’m glad that it was something I got to be a part of.” De Heras’ submitted a series of eight black-and-white photographs of Vassar students in their rooms, titled “In Their Spaces,” as part of the exhibit Through the Student Lens: Photographs of and by Vassar Students 1865-2011. De Heras hoped to explore the residential life of Vassar students. “I enjoy photography because it’s a way for me to find interest and significance in the world around me,” wrote De Heras. “The world I see with my eyes is the same as the world I see through my camera lens; once I realized that, I found inspiration everywhere. Photography has brought me a greater appreciation for the beauty of the people I see and places I go every day.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“A paper on the Chinese economy.”
Ripley Sellers ’14
“My column for the Misc. Oh wait, not really.”
Andy Sussman ’12
—Adam Buchsbaum Arts Editor
February 9, 2012
Rouse seeks second straight championship appearance Tina Caso
Jiajing Sun/The Miscellany News
oming off a year in which he reached the NCAA Championships for the first time, men’s fencing Captain Brian Rouse ’12 enters his final season at Vassar with goals to repeat his career highlight. Head Coach Bruce Gillman believes in him, saying, “My goal for [Rouse] is to get him back to NCAAs.” Rouse’s road to collegiate success started when he was a teenager. Although he now fences epee, he first learned foil, a lighter weapon. Rouse started fencing the summer before high school for a club team called ICONN in Middletown, Conn. “I started fencing to stay in shape,” said Rouse, “and because swords are cool … it’s a fairly common reason,” he added. With four years of experience, Rouse found it easy to continue fencing in college. “Vassar was a clear choice,” he explained. “I let Bruce Gillman know … he is always looking for fencers.” Gillman, in his seventh year of coaching at Vassar College, has noticed an increase in the intensity of high school fencing that allows for better recruiting and opportunities for athletes like Rouse. “The high school level has become more competitive and there aren’t more college teams than there were 10 years ago,” Gillman explained. Gillman has proven a huge asset to the team since he was hired as head coach in 2005. Rouse has been impressed by the rate of the team’s improvement. “Last season was the best we’ve had. There has been a significant upswing since he became the head coach. Most of it is that he’s a good recruiter and gets very elite coaches from the region to help out.” Gillman adds that he does not want to take full credit for the team’s success. “One of the good things about a [Division III] program is
that we can have an unlimited number of assistant coaches,” he said. This resource has proven successful, as last year Rouse became one of the first fencers from Vassar to participate in the NCAA Championships. “It was a surprise for most people,” said Rouse. “The tournament was very small and incredibly elite. It was the top people in the country, the hardest tournament I’ve ever fenced in, and it was a pleasure to fence against that many talented people.” Rouse finished 24th and hopes to go back to NCAAs this year. Gillman affirmed this, saying, “He wants to go higher than last year.” Rouse does not have to look further than his own squad for other fencers with NCAA aspirations. “It’s going to be interesting because we have three strong epee players and if they all make it, we can only allow two. I hope we have to make that choice,” explained Gillman. Rouse can’t help but get sentimental as his career at Vassar winds down. “The fencing team is a wonderful group of people and a talented group of athletes,” said Rouse. “For a Division III school, we get very competitive athletes, a bunch of interesting people who are a pleasure to spend time with. To compete alongside them is rewarding,” he noted. “I’m going to miss the Vassar fencing team.” Rouse also didn’t neglect to mention the difficulties that come along with competing in college athletics. “It’s time-consuming: We practice two-and-a-half hours for four days a week, but it’s worthwhile—something to devote yourself to.” Rouse continued, “You pull a few more all-nighters than you’d like to being part of the team, but it’s worth it.” Rouse, a history major, believes he will continue fencing after graduation, most likely at a club. “It’s too important a part of my life,” he said.
After qualifying for the NCAA Championships last year for the first time in his career, men’s fencing Captain Brian Rouse ’12, pictured above, hopes to repeat and build on his success this season.
Vassar athletes appreciate supportive crowds at games Jessica Tarantine
Assistant Features Editor
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
porting events do not take place in a vacuum. Game dynamics are an intricate interplay of location, athletes, fan participation and atmosphere. Vassar athletics are no exception: Games are influenced by fan participation and turnout. “[The audience] definitely affects the atmosphere. It makes the game a lot more fun and exciting with a loud crowd there,” wrote men’s basketball Captain Nick Justiz ’12 in an emailed statement. “It also adds a lot more pressure. It’s just a different feeling before and after the game.” While Justiz emphasized the importance of fan participation, he doesn’t think that it affects the outcome of games. Fellow Captain Ethan Shanley ’12 disagreed and shared that he does feel it could provide an extra advantage. “A boisterous home crowd really gets in the head of opposing players and wears on visiting teams,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “They begin to think more about the crowd than the actual game, and fans who are loud enough that the opposing players can barely hear each other causes tremendous chaos on the court. At the same time they help give the home team that extra boost.” Assistant Director for Residential Wellness Programs and men’s volleyball Assistant Coach Terry Hanlon agreed that a high turnout could benefit the players psychologically, writing in an emailed statement, “The spirit that fans bring to the games can really push any team to excel beyond what they think is capable. It’s empowering to know that the entire campus is behind you as you compete on behalf of the College.” Many of these fans come to games to help support classmates and friends. Shelby Johnson ’15 said that one of her first experiences going to a Vassar sporting event was to support her roommate on the women’s rugby team. “I had never seen rugby played before, and it was fun to watch,” said Johnson. For other freshmen, going to sporting events became a way to cheer on members of their student fellow groups. “Last semester, our fellow group went to a basketball game. Two people in our fellow group are on the team and it was a great way to show that we support them, as well as our school,” said Eunice Roh ’15.
Student Fellow and member of the crew team Dan Kessler ’14 added that organizing outings to events that his fellowees were participating in was a great way to build community. Hanlon explained that attending sporting events could benefit students in other ways. “I think that supporting our student athletes fits into a few different dimensions of wellness as well as the overall theme of building a supportive campus community,” he wrote. “In supporting students that are committed to representing Vassar through their physical fitness, we begin to build a culture that values a commitment to healthy living.” In addition to building community for the campus at large, many athletes saw attending each other’s games and events as a vital way to offer support to fellow athletes. “There is a strong sense of community among Vassar athletes so we go to games to support each other when we get the chance,” said Kessler. Shanley agreed that supporting other teams was important and recounted a yearly tradition in which the ultimate Frisbee team came out to support the men’s basketball team. “For me, one of the games that I most look forward to every year is our home game against Clarkson [University] where the entire Ultimate Frisbee team comes out to support us,” he wrote. “This year the game was nuts. We ended up losing by three points, but they were sitting behind our bench the whole time and their yelling, screaming and chanting made the game that much more exciting for everybody involved.” Of course, at times boisterous fans can have a negative impact on the teams and games themselves. This past Tuesday, Feb. 7, a fan was ejected from the stands of the men’s basketball game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, causing a delay in the action as the spectator was escorted from the gymnasium of the Athletics and Fitness Center. Oftentimes such decisions are made by officials who indicate the offending fan and eject him from the venue of play. It then falls to Vassar administrators, frequently coaches and Safety and Security officers, to ensure no further trouble. While students have been the subject of these actions, many times it is those from the outside community who earn this rare punishment. In addition, fan participation transcends the games themselves. Kessler added that even though the crew team’s mostly off-campus
Above, supporters cheer on their classmates at the men’s basketball game versus Sarah Lawrence College on Jan. 27. Fan participation builds community on campus and gives teams an extra boost.
events and races precluded the majority of students and fellow athletes from attending, the crew team did often see friendly faces giving support during on-campus events such as the yearly 24-Hour Erg-a-thon. In all, while many of Vassar’s athletes have friendly faces in the crowd as they play, Vassar’s perceived apathy toward sports had in some ways made itself known. “It’s hard to say what is enough participation. I’m glad to go to a school that doesn’t over-value its athletes— there is way too much of that going on in society as is,” wrote Justiz. “Naturally then, you’re not going to get the same kind of support as the places that do.” “I always thought it was fun to go to games and cheer for your team—I guess it would be nicer if there were more of that going on—but I never considered our fan participation an issue or a problem,” Justiz finished. Shanley agreed that while he didn’t think participation was low, getting more people involved could always be beneficial. “Our fans are great and I really appreciate everyone who
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comes out to support campus athletics,” he wrote. “That being said, every sport across any campus could always use more fan participation.” Shanley continued, “There’s nothing better than playing in front of a boisterous crowd and although our fans are usually pretty great, the Clarkson game is always another step up. So yes, while I think our fans are usually awesome, increased participation is absolutely always beneficial.” Hanlon took a stronger stance. “I think that attendance at sporting events can and should be improved. I would love to see a student-led initiative to increase participation in support of these students who not only attend class, participate in clubs, but also compete for Vassar’s bragging rights,” wrote Hanlon. “I think one of the best aspects of the Vassar student population is the culture around a willingness to try new things. I challenge all students that have not attended any athletic contest to try it at least once per sport and see if there is one they can get hooked on.”
February 9, 2012
Foreign athletic feats unrecognized Corey Cohn
n the United States, we value dominance in sports. It’s the reason Michael Phelps caught our attention during his golden performance at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Lance Armstrong captured our hearts while winning seven straight Tour de France titles and Tony Hawk kept us intrigued when he did things on a skateboard no one ever thought possible. Unfortunately, in the United States we value something else in sports: being American. While breathtaking feats by foreign athletes will inevitably leak into our peripheral vision, they almost always fail to garner the same amount of attention as our so-called hometown heroes. Sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica is the world record-holder in the 100-and 200-meter dash. Casual sports fans know his name—probably. Is that really enough? American track and field stars like Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Michael Johnson are forever engrained in United States media lore. Joyner-Kersee was voted Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated for Women and late 1990s Nike commercials dubbed Johnson The World’s Fastest Man—even though another sprinter, Donovan Bailey of Canada, then held the record for the 100-meter dash, which is generally the determinant for said title. But perhaps a more curious case surrounds Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player who had one of the best seasons ever in 2011. Men’s tennis in general has suffered a decline in popularity during the past decade, following an era defined by a rivalry of two American tennis stars, Andre Agassi and Pete
Sampras. Since the turn of the millennium, the sport has primarily been dominated by Swiss ace Roger Federer. Spaniard Rafael Nadal has more recently come onto the scene, but due to his one-sided history with Federer (Nadal leads the career matchup 18-9) and the age difference between them (Federer is five years older), the rivalry never reached its epic potential. Last year, however, belonged solely to Djokovic, who tore through a traditionally wearing year-long schedule and blew by both Federer and Nadal in the process. Djokovic began 2011 with a 43-match winning streak, one short of tying John McEnroe’s all-time record. He won 10 tournaments in all and captured three of four major championships: the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He finished the year with a 70-6 overall record and, unsurprisingly, he usurped the No. 1 overall ranking from Nadal, whom he overtook in six finals matches. In no way did all of this go unnoticed; mainstream American media pays attention to the major championships at least, and Djokovic was the main storyline through most of those. But the ratio of athletic significance to recognition received was considerably imbalanced—Djokovic unabashedly dominated a sport (an individual sport, no less) throughout an entire year. Sampras and fellow legend Boris Becker acknowledged it as one of the greatest seasons ever by a male tennis player. Though this is admittedly subjective, not enough people paid attention to this. Following half a month of superfluous Super Bowl preparation, in which two teams were hailed for the gritty attitude, unquestionable heart and, yes, dominant play they demonstrated over the previous five months, it is difficult to imagine how so much less
recognition is due towards one man who displayed the same characteristics over twice as long a period of time. It should also be noted that Djokovic, as compared to his peers, is one of the more entertaining figures tennis has to offer. He is far more charismatic than Federer and Nadal (then again, so is a wooden plank) and certainly more likeable than temperamental American “star” Andy Roddick. Djokovic’s impressions are legendary, and he makes sure to include in his act tennis greats of every generation and gender, from Nadal to McEnroe to Maria Sharapova. Djokovic’s insufficient recognition, therefore, cannot be attributed to his personality. So we return to the issue of nationality. There’s no question about it—Djokovic is a hero in his native Serbia. In 2009 and 2010, he was voted the country’s most popular athlete and, in 2011, he was awarded the Order of St. Sava I class, the highest decoration of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Some might argue that acknowledgement in his home country probably matters more to Djokovic than attention in America—and they’d probably be right. But in a sports media environment as saturated as that of the United States, there is room to sufficiently recognize the best of the best in every sport that maintains a general national following. On that note, others might argue that the problem isn’t Djokovic, but the sport he plays. Tennis, and most individual sports for that matter, is generally less popular than the “Big Four”—football, baseball, basketball and (supposedly) hockey. But I’d be willing to bet a large chunk of change that if an American tennis player had the year Djokovic had, we’d never hear the end of it. In fact, we might even be clamoring for more Super Bowl coverage.
Women’s bball leads weekend charge
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
BBALL continued from page 1 The Skidmore game was a back and forth affair throughout, with both teams deadlocked in fourth place trading blows; yet it was Matsuoka who delivered the knockout punch. Hannah Senftleber ’14 (21 points and nine rebounds) and Captain Brittany Parks ’12 (20 points and eight rebounds) also came up huge for the Brewers. The next day, Vassar was able to complete the Liberty League weekend sweep, finishing off Union 63-53. Matsuoka again led the way with 16 points, while Kristyn Tempora ’12 chipped in 13. With a shot at second place on the line, the Brewers fell to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), 65-59. Vassar trailed by 15 with just under eight minutes to play and although they cut the lead to three, they were unable to rally all the way back. While the women had a strong weekend, the men’s basketball team struggled. The Brewers were overcome by Skidmore 69-41 on Friday and defeated 77-64 by Union. In both contests Vassar conceded major runs prior to the intermission that they were unable to overcome. Against Skidmore, the Thoroughbreds went on a 17-0 run before the break—21-0 before Vassar scored. Union built a 20-6 lead and had a 10-0 run prior to the half that they extended to 16-0 before the Brewers broke the streak. In both games, Jon Herzog ’13 led Vassar offensively. The junior point guard scored 10 points against Skidmore and a season-high 19 against Union. Against RPI it was Johnny Mrlik ’15 who came up big. Mrlik notched a career-high 32 points on 11-15 shooting, including 6-9 from behind the arc. However RPI shot 57 percent from the field and 61 percent from three-point range for a 100-89 victory. Women’s squash hosted Mt. Holyoke College, Wellesley College and Smith College for the annual Seven Sisters Championships. (For more: see “Seven Sisters united under competition”) No. 13 Mt. Holyoke swept all three schools in earning its sixth straight championship, while the No. 24 Brewers finished fourth, dropping a narrow 5-4 loss to No. 25 Smith and an 8-1 match to No. 26 Wellesley. Nina Punukollu ’12 represented Vassar on the All-Tournament team. On Sunday, the No. 41 men’s squash team traveled to New York City where they earned a pair of victories over No. 52 Ithaca College (9-0) and No.
Nyah Berg ’15, a guard on the women’s basketball team, defends the ball from a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute opponent at a game on Feb. 7. Despite the loss, the Brewers’ weekend finished strong. 44 Fordham University (7-2). The Brewers currently hold a 6-12 record with four matches to go. Women’s swimming and diving likewise had an accomplished weekend. The Brewers bested five other schools in the annual Sprint Invitational. Vassar notched 261 points, overcoming William Smith College (211), Skidmore (160), Sarah Lawrence College (14), SUNY Cobleskill (11) and Bard College (8). Seven Brewers combined to win eight different events. Caroline Shannon ’12 was the only Vassar swimmer with two victories on the day, as she won the 100 and 400 IM. The Brewers were also dominant
in diving events as Kelly Wilkinson ’15 finished first in the 1-meter event, with teammates taking the second through fourth slots. Jane Cardona ’15 won the 3-meter event, with a pair of teammates finishing second and third. Vassar men’s fencing fell 21-6 to Yale University, despite a squad victory in the epee. Nick Johnson ’12 went 3-0 for the Brewers, while this week’s Miscellany News Athlete of the Week Captain Brian Rouse ’12 went 2-1. The women’s team fell 18-9 to Yale. Captain Brooke Schieffer ’12 went 3-0 in the sabre, while Katie LeClair ’13 went 2-1 in the foil.
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Soccer fills February’s sports void Andy Marmer Sports Editor
he month of February is typically the doldrums of the sports world. The Super Bowl marked the end of football until August, except for a brief weekend in April when fans can focus on the NFL Draft. Pro basketball is still months away from the postseason and in college a month from March Madness; and while pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this month, baseball fever doesn’t truly start until Spring Training games in March and Opening Day in April. Yet this year, I have found a new way to fill the void of meaningful sports in February: European soccer. In particular, I have been following the Barclay’s Premier League and my adopted club (this is the same as a team) Liverpool FC. To really get a kick out of European soccer, follow my lead and choose a club to support. While there are high-quality leagues all around Europe, with top-class teams, I chose to focus on English squads to prevent a language barrier from disrupting my fan experience. In particular, I wanted a historically successful squad (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool), something far removed from my beloved Baltimore Orioles. Of course this wasn’t my only motivation, as I figured that one of those teams, traditionally the best supported, would get more media attention stateside. I also knew I couldn’t support Manchester United due to my desire not to root for the ultimate frontrunner. The other advantage of rooting for one of the Big Four teams (as well as Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, two teams tearing up the League now that lack a rich history) is that casual soccer fans who only pay attention during the World Cup—as I used to do—will know more of these teams’ players. When I was first picking a team I tried Everton (Liverpool’s archrivals) because they started American keeper Tim Howard. Everton, formed in 1878 are founding members of the Football League, yet they always seem to finish middle of the pack. However, my initial attempt at Everton fandom failed. I hadn’t heard of most of their players, and it was hard to follow them in the United States. Nowadays, Everton is still beloved by many Americans because of their affiliation with Howard and Landon Donovan (currently on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy) as is Fulham, who currently employs American Clint Dempsey. I ultimately decided on Liverpool because of my respect for their Captain Steven Gerrard as well as their fans. Gerrard is now an aging superstar, born and raised in Liverpool, who grew up loving the team—a hometown kid made good, if you will. He also may well be the greatest player in the 100-plusyear history of the club and has scored goals that can only be described as marvelous—equal part historical and beautiful. I also fell in love with the Kopites—the team’s supporters, who have created some of the richest traditions in England. While many of the elite clubs have truly amazing traditions, I have never witnessed something quite as powerful as “You’ll Never Walk Alone” ringing out around Anfield Road (Liverpool’s home stadium); of course I can only see this on YouTube, but it has become a near nightly ritual. With my newfound love of Liverpool, my February is now rejuvenated. After Monday’s lifeless 0-0 draw against third-place Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur), I’m looking forward to Saturday’s contest against second-place Manchester United. Even though Liverpool is currently seventh in the table, the best part of English football is there’s always something to root for. The top four teams advance to the UEFA Champions League, where they have a shot to become Champions of Europe, so even teams trailing in the table can at least aim for qualification. On the other hand, the bottom three teams are relegated to the Championship (the second division of English Soccer) and dropped from the Premier League altogether—to be replaced by three Championship teams. Additionally, cup competitions provide chances for all teams to win a trophy. While it may be tough to initially find a team, and to become invested in that club, following European Soccer is rewarding year-round, especially in the doldrums of February.
February 9, 2012
Prater-Lee cherishes opportunities available at Vassar Corey Cohn
Jonah Bleckner/The Miscellany News
ow in her 17th season as head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, Lisl Prater-Lee has always been inspired by the potential of her Brewers. “You focus on what people bring to the table, why we’re all here,” she said. “It’s what drives you every day.” This perspective derives from her first student-athlete experience as an undergraduate on the Oberlin College swimming team. Although Prater-Lee describes herself as “pretty internally driven,” she recalls receiving a bigger push from her teammates compared to when she competed on her own. It was at Oberlin where Prater-Lee also developed a strong sense of the shape athletics take in a liberal arts environment. She noted, “At Oberlin, like at Vassar, you hope [swimmers and divers] can take the training and apply themselves—but when you get right down to it, there’s a lot more there.” After graduating with degrees in sociology and sports psychology, Prater-Lee attended the University of Iowa, where she earned her Master’s Degree in sports psychology and served as the graduate assistant coach for the women’s swimming team. Prater-Lee returned to Oberlin for two years to coach the Yeomen before the position at Vassar opened up in 1993. The opportunity appealed to her for a number of reasons. “I saw it as a good situation, a program looking to grow,” Prater-Lee remembered. “It was a very reputable school trying to gain steam.” She added that the working environment drew her in as well. “The department was small enough that people were very welcoming, excited, and enthusiastic—it was a good next step.” Another important difference with Vassar’s program was that it was co-educational, unlike the schools where Prater-Lee previously
Men’s and women’s swiming and diving team Head Coach Lisl Prater-Lee, pictured above, is entering her 17th season as a Vassar coach. One of Prater-Lee’s principal goals is to build the team roster. worked. (Oberlin College’s swimming and diving team has since become co-ed.) Prater-Lee grew to value this integration. “The blend works well for us,” she said. “It helps the group to have it co-ed. Each individual brings something to the table that’s not necessarily gender-specific.” Regardless of structure, however, one objective was clear for Prater-Lee as soon as she arrived at Vassar: build the roster. “When I first got here, the entire team could fit in one van,” she recalled. The combined men and women’s roster currently consists of over 35 swimmers and divers. Prater-Lee sees recruiting as a two-way street.
While she values talent as much as any other coach, she understands that prospective Brewers need to have the right mindset as well. “We have to be able to find swimmers and divers that see Vassar as a very positive challenge, have good heads on their shoulders and are looking for direction,” Prater-Lee stated. “Although we reach out in a variety of ways, at the end of the day it’s the [people] who can come to Vassar that find themselves on the pool deck in the fall.” Prater-Lee understands that her student-athletes often have priorities outside of the water— but she considers this a positive. “What appeals to me about Vassar—though it also presents challenges—is that there is a lot of balancing,”
Seven Sisters unite under competition Molly Turpin
SEVEN SISTERS SCOREBOARD FEBRUARY 4
Cassady Bergevin/The Miscellany News
his past weekend, the Vassar women’s squash team hosted the Seven Sisters Championships, a competition that brings the Brewers together with teams with which Vassar shares a long history. Though Vassar placed fourth out of four in the competition, the Seven Sisters tournament provided an opportunity for more than an athletic contest. “It’s awesome to host the event at Vassar, it rocks! We have much more support for squash here than at any other Seven Sisters College and better facilities too,” wrote squash Head Coach Jane Parker in an emailed statement. “Parents and friends of the team members come along to support, along with the men’s squash team and current Physical Education squash class students.” The Seven Sisters Colleges began as a four-college conference (Vassar, Wellesley College, Mt. Holyoke College and Smith College) in 1915. It grew to seven in 1926 with the addition of Bryn Mawr, Barnard and Radcliffe Colleges. The official tournaments, however, did not begin until 1980 with a basketball tournament hosted by Barnard. This tournament included nonSister New Rochelle College, and since then competition has often been rounded out by schools outside of the original Seven Sisters. Even so, more than any other Vassar tournament, the Seven Sisters competitions are based as much on academic bonds as well-matched teams. “We have a kinship, if you will, in terms of our history,” said swimming and diving Head Coach Lisl Prater-Lee. “Invariably, there are some fun cheers.” The tournaments, falling in different weekends depending on the sport, always include an opportunity for teams to socialize. “At the luncheon, one of the traditions that’s always been kind of nice is that all the teams mix, so you don’t have all the Vassar people at one table,” explained cross country Head Coach James McCowan. For swimming and diving, this opportunity contrasts the usual quick turnaround
she said. “Athletes do what they can to keep everything moving forward.” Prater-Lee imposes prioritization, however, stating, “[Being on this team] has to be one of the most important things you do.” Though this commitment is largely individual—as is the nature of the sport—Prater-Lee emphasized that this team only goes as far as its collective determination allows. “Everyone has stuff that can trip them up, but we’re all in this together—we can make this as good as we want to make it,” she said. Prater-Lee acknowledged that this year’s records aren’t what anyone would like them to be—the women are 2-4 and the men 2-5—but she stressed that there have still been a lot of highlights. “We accomplished a lot and we stepped up our training,” she commented. As for Prater-Lee personally, she doesn’t see herself leaving the College anytime soon as she nears her 20th anniversary. “I didn’t come here intending this to be a stop,” she said. “Coaching ends up being a lifestyle—it consumes you ... When I see Vassar, I see possibilities.” These possibilities have included teaching courses on campus, coaching at summer camps and clinics and performing community service. Prater-Lee said her work away from the varsity team has helped her reach a satisfying balance. Still, she believes there is more she can accomplish with the Brewers. “I’m stubborn,” she admitted. “I don’t think we’ve done everything we set out to do.” Finally, though her roster has the same limited shelf life as any college team, Prater-Lee values the time she has with her swimmers and divers. “I truly enjoy them as individuals,” she said. “It’s fantastic to see how much they grow in four years. Many of them I’ve had contact with since their junior and senior years of high school—a lot happens in that time, and we try to think we had a positive influence.”
Above, a member of the women’s squash team squares off on the court with a Seven Sisters opponent at this past weekend’s Seven Sisters Championships in the sport, hosted by Vassar. when traveling to meets. Prater-Lee explained that out of deference to academics, the team rarely stays overnight for tournaments. “With the way this meet is set up with Saturday and Sunday competitions, it actually gave us the sense that this is a big deal to us,” she said. Prater-Lee explained that some teams have not been able to keep the Seven Sisters tournament in their schedules. “There were talks about whether sports were going to drop Seven Sisters, and some teams had because the way they had to schedule it didn’t make sense,” said Prater-Lee. “We’re very happy that we still have the chance to make this happen.” Crew, cross country, volleyball, squash, tennis and swimming and diving still compete in these tournaments. Though the tournaments have a reputation of being special events, none of the coaches lost sight of the fact that they are still competitions. “When it comes down to the actual competition of it, a race is a race,”
said McCowan. “One of the nice things about Seven Sisters too is that it’s a very competitive meet.” As with many tournaments, at a Seven Sisters competition, it can be clear which is the team to beat. “Wellesley is a very strong team,” said McCowan. “And we’ve been happy to kind of edge them out in the last couple of years.” McCowan added that the tournament was a break from the normal cross country schedule and, therefore, sometimes a challenge to prepare for. “It honestly as a coach is one I’ve struggled with a little bit,” he said. “When I look at the season and try to structure races really with the mindset of trying to get us to the national championships, Seven Sisters doesn’t always fit in there.” “But,” he added, “then every time that we go to it, I’m always really excited that we’re there and really excited that we had the opportunity to participate, and I think they always leave really psyched about it.”
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4 FEBRUARY 4
MT HOLYOKE AT VASSAR