The Miscellany News Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
April 19, 2012
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Volume CXLV | Issue 21
Key campus issues come to the fore Council moves to pass as candidates eye leadership roles Constitution revisions Leighton Suen News editoR
Katie De Heras for The Miscellany News
Both Jewett House President Clayton Masterman ’13 (left) and Vassar Student Association (VSA) Vice President for Finance Jason Rubin ’13 (right) are contending for the coveted position of VSA president. Voting begins on April 21. Dave Rosenkranz editoR iN CHieF
s the Vassar Student Association (VSA) spring election campaign period approaches its April 21 conclusion, candidates for Executive Board, Council and House Team Positions are redoubling their efforts to promote
many VSA candidates share these priorities, and, often, candidates running in contested races express similar concerns and propose similar solutions. Current Jewett House Freshmen Representative and aspiring Jewett House President Jake See CANDIDATES on page 4
themselves and thier platforms. In the April 12 issue of The Miscellany News, an article titled “Council Elections Underway” outlined some of the issues that students and graduating VSA Council members perceive to be superlative, including the social atmosphere and campus communication. Naturally,
t its most recent meeting on Sunday, April 15, the members of the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council unanimously voted to adopt an amended Constitution and Bylaws. The Sunday prior, the VSA Operations Committee had presented a series of 55 minor amendments that aimed to address inconsistencies, ambiguities and errors in the VSA’s governing documents (“‘Constitutia-thon’ presages VSA documents clean-up,” 4.12.12). “This has been the product of a
year’s worth of work by the Operations Committee,” said Vice President for Operations Jenna Konstantine ’13 proudly. “The amount of focus and dedication that they put into this project has been remarkable. This is something that the VSA has been trying to accomplish for years…It was very much a group effort.” “Since I decided that I was going to be VP of Operations,” continued Konstantine, “one of the things [I decided to do] was to make the VSA more accessible and make things more easy See CONSTITUTION on page 4
Orgs raise awareness about sexual assault Marie Solis RepoRteR
hite ribbons, purple bandanas and temporary tattoos may be small gestures individually, but collectively they indicate Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW), a national event with far more significance than the objects taken individually. The event is aimed at making the Vassar community conscious of the reality of personal violations as they pertain to Vassar’s campus and society in general. All of the events during the week were co-sponsored by CARES and the
Feminist Alliance, two organizations that have missions directly related to issues surrounding sexual violence. CARES, a confidential and nonjudgmental listening center that offers support to anyone affected by issues of personal violation, is the traditional sponsor of the week. “It always takes place sometime in April, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” said CARES member Zoe Levenson ’12. In regards to the importance of hosting this event, Levenson explained, “Sexual Assault Awareness See SAAW on page 8
Women’s tennis wins Nathan brings VC laughs Saturday Seven Sister’s title B Jack Owen
assistaNt aRts editoR
Andy Marmer spoRts editoR
ith a dramatic come-frombehind victory over Wellesley College in the final match of the annual Seven Sisters Championship, the Vassar College women’s tennis team earned its 10th Seven Sisters title in program history this past Sunday. The round robin tournament featured teams from Wellesley, Smith College, Bryn Mawr College and host Mount Holyoke College. Each match consisted of three singles contests
and two doubles bouts. A win in any of the five matches earned the team one point, with the winner being determined by total points. Entering the final match of the two-day tournament, both Vassar and Wellesley had gone 15-0 with 5-0 victories over the other three teams. The Wellesley match started ominously for the Brewers with Ava Sadeghi ’15 falling 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 singles. Vassar, though, leveled the score at one when Captain Joy Backer ’12 and See TENNIS on page 19
Inside this issue
Star gazers rejoice about benefits of FeaTures observatory
Future Waitstaff of America puts new spin on fairy tale
Courtesy of indianamericanstory.wordpress.com
Courtesy of Hobart William Smith Athletics
Above, members of the women’s tennis team pose with their championship trophy. The Brewers’ April 15 victory marks the program’s 10th Seven Sisters title.
ack in 1997, Vijai Nathan dropped her dream journalism job at The Baltimore Sun, broke up with her fiancé, and pursued a career as a stand-up comedian. Naturally, her parents were shocked and worried by her abrupt career transition, but Nathan has become the leading Indian-American female comedian, travelling both nationally and internationally to bring audiences stand-up hilarity. Sponsored by Vassar’s South Asian Students Alliance (SASA), Nathan will be performing on April 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Rockefeller Hall 300. Nathan herself had not expected her career path to take such a surprising turn. “I think people think comedians are always the class clown or people who did theater in school but I was never that person. If you went to my school back then and asked anyone who was mostly likely to be a comedian, I would not have hit the top one hundred,” she explained. Nathan earned her Bachelors of Arts in Literature from McGill University. Her only involvement in student theater was in elementary school, and she found it unfulfilling. “I always ended up with a really crappy role,” she said. “I decided that performance wasn’t for me, and found that because I’m Indian I always got stuck with the same sort of roles.” Nathan joked her big roles were tooth decay, and Martin Luther
The South Asian Students Allience will host international stand-up comedian Vijai Nathan, pictured above, for a performance on April 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. King, Jr. But after taking an online comedy class through First Class while working as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun, she discovered a whole new realm of performance. “I found this thing that fulfilled me and that I enjoyed,” she said. “It was so different than the acting I had previously done because in those situations I was told who to be, but in stand-up I got to be entirely myself.” Nathan’s classmates also encouraged her to pursue comedy. “At the
graduation showcase everyone was like, ‘You’re so funny you’re going to be the next Margaret Chang.’ I was like, that’s Margaret Cho but thank you,” she said with a laugh. Nathan started working in a café during the day, and did stand up in bars and other venues at night. Shortly after, she totaled her car, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it forced her to move to New York where she developed even more as a comedian. See NATHAN on page 16
Broooers capture the snitch at Butterbeer Classic
The Miscellany News
April 19 , 2012
Editors in Chief Dave Rosenkranz Aashim Usgaonkar Senior Editors
Katharine Austin Hannah Blume Ruth Bolster Mary Huber Erik Lorenzsonn
For a new photo essay, the Miscellany News’ Assistant Editor Jiajing Sun took a special look at senior international students at Vassar. With families and opportunities often awaiting them in their home country, many of these students face even bigger decisions and transitions after graduation. See more images on Exposure at blogs.miscellanynews.com/exposure.
VSA Exec Board Candidate Interviews A closer at the candidates and their platforms
Katie Cornish Carrie Hojnicki Matthew Ortilé Jillian Scharr Molly Turpin
News Danielle Bukowski Joey Rearick Dave Rosenkranz Leighton Suen Features Ruth Bolster Danielle Bukowski Jessica Tarantine Opinions Hannah Blume Lane Kisonak Humor & Satire Alanna Okun Jean-Luc Bouchard Arts Adam Buchsbaum Sports Tina Caso Corey Cohn Andy Marmer Photography Katie De Heras Juliana Halpert Madeline Zappala Online Alex Koren Nathan Tauger Social Media Matthew Ortilé Assistant News Assistant Features Assistant Opinions Assistant Arts Assistant Photo Assistant Copy Crossword Editor Columnists
iss the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Executive Board debates? Can’t glean the full story from sudden and oddly aggressive mid-afternoon rendezvous? Come meet the top nine VSA candidates as they discuss their biggest ideas with editors from The Miscellany News this Saturday at miscellanynews.com.
he Miscellany News wants to know your choice for Athlete of the Year! Voting closes Sunday, so hurry over to the Sports Briefs on Page 19 for more information and miscellanynews.com to cast your vote!
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Leighton Suen Jessica Tarantine Gabe Dunsmith Jack Owen Matthew Hauptman Carlos Hernandez Jiajing Sun Melissa Johnson Jonathan Garfinkel Sarah Begley Jean-Luc Bouchard Brittany Hunt Michael Mestitz Tom Renjilian Carson Robinson Sam Scarritt-Selman Andy Sussman Emma Daniels Chris Gonszalez Bethan Johnson Bobbie Lucas Marie Solis Nicole Wong Casey Zuckermann Katie De Heras Rachel Garbade Emily Lavieri-Scull Alex Schlesinger
The Editorial Board holds weekly meetings every Sunday at 9 p.m. in the Rose Parlor. All members of the Vassar community interested in joining the newspaper’s staff or in a critique of the current issue are welcome. The Miscellany News is not responsible for the views presented in the Opinions pages. The weekly staff editorial is the only article which reflects the opinion of the Editorial Board. The Miscellany News is published weekly by the students of Vassar College. The Miscellany News office is located in College Center Room 303, Vassar College.
April 19 , 2012
Prospective students swarm campus Bethan Johnson Guest Reporter
his past weekend Vassar opened its gates to hundreds of prospective students in what has been considered one of the busiest weekends for the Admissions Office. According to the Office’s estimate, almost 1,000 visitors walked around campus this weekend. The noticeable surge in visitors to campus arose from two key events planned through the Admissions Office: FOCUS weekend, an overnight admissions weekend for minority students, and the spring Open House. While the boom in visitors may have seemed inexplicable and fairly spontaneous to students, the Admissions Office purposefully placed the events on the same weekend. “Vassar chose this weekend because it coincides with the general open house for all admitted students,” wrote former FOCUS student organizer AnnMarie Alcantara ’13 in an emailed statement. She noted that FOCUS participants and Open House attendees were able to choose from the same pool of admissions events, stating the overlap “allows for greater flexibility in terms of events the students can attend.” The Admissions Office has been holding a FOCUS weekend every April for several years. “FOCUS weekend is a weekend hosted by the Vassar College…for students of diverse backgrounds,” explained Alcantara, “it brings students from all over the country who were admitted to see firsthand Vassar through a series of planned and unplanned events created for them.” FOCUS invitations are sent out to students of multicultural backgrounds in the early spring. FOCUS weekend allows students to attend events that include an official tour of campus, admissions information sessions, academic classes, sports events, and arts performances. The weekend officially begins on Saturday afternoon and lasts until Monday afternoon,
when students are finished visiting classes. Prospective students are paired with students who are responsible for housing them, and generally showing them a snippet of the “Vassar experience.” The program allows FOCUS participants to gain a more holistic view of campus life than they might on other overnight visits organized through the Admissions Office, which typically only last one night during the week. According to Multicultural Recruitment Intern Benedict Nguyen ’15, this year’s FOCUS weekend boasted a large increase in participants from previous years. “Between 70-80 Vassar students hosted FOCUS students in their rooms,” noted Nguyen in an emailed statement. Because of the sheer number of prospective students, the Admissions Office asked almost all of its registered volunteer hosts to house at least one FOCUS participant. As the end of the year draws near, students’ academic workloads and other responsiblities have intensified, and the request came as a surprise to many. A number of students, viewing the request as an unwelcomed surprise, took to the Class of 2015 Facebook page, seeking advice from peers about how to refuse the responsibility. However, most of the students accepted the offer, and all FOCUS students were assigned a guide. While the program was established to benefit the prospective students, FOCUS volunteers also profit from the experience. “As a whole, the participants of FOCUS were all so excited to visit campus and their energy has been infectious,” mused Nguyen, “spending time with them and hearing all their questions really reminds me why I love Vassar.” The other main draw to campus was an Open House that took place throughout the day on Sunday. Historically, Vassar hosts two Open Houses for accepted students each year,
one in the fall and one in the spring. According to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid David Borus, the average combined total of visitors for the Open Houses alone is 900 people. The Open House has two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, which are more in-depth explorations of campus life in comparison to the traditional admissions information sessions. Open Houses include a tour and information session, an admissions staff guided tour of the science or arts facilities, and an optional athletics/activities banquet. Over the past weekend, the two events overlapped to create a visible presence of high school students. Moreover, April marks the first month of the year that the Admissions Office offers two weekend tours. This means that many of the admitted high school seniors and their families, along with curious juniors and sophomores, come to campus over their schools’ spring breaks to observe a typical day at Vassar. The combination of the spring Open House and weekend tours has led to record numbers of visitors in its own right. “In 2011, we had over 2,000 students and their family members visit the Admissions Office during the month of April,” Borus observed in an emailed statement. If the Admissions Office’s predictions are correct, the number of visiting students and families should not be higher than they were this weekend until next year because of the large number of people attending FOCUS weekend and the Open House. However, the rise in visitors will be somewhat sustained for the rest of the school year because of the weekend tours the Admissions Office offers during this time. Said Borus, “By the end of April, when juniors’ spring vacations are over and admitted seniors have made their college choices, the numbers of visitors declines to a more normal level.”
New VC programming board proposed Joey Rearick and Leighton Suen News Editors
t last Sunday’s Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council meeting, Vice President for Activities Michael “Mookie” Thottam ’12 delivered an initial proposal for the creation of a programming board that would organize more diverse events for Vassar students, focusing particularly on late night options other than large music-based events. The Board was conceived during discussions between the VSA Activities and Student Life Committees in response to data from recent Alcohol Task Force (ATF) findings and a Weekend Activities Survey emailed to the student body last month, which indicated student dissatisfaction with the nature of programming on campus. The board, if approved by the VSA Council in coming weeks, would be jointly funded by the VSA and the Dean of the College division. Though proponents hope the board will help create alternatives to large parties that are typically similar to each other and encouraging of potentially dangerous “pregaming,” some caution that too little time remains in the school year to successfully launch such a body. The proposed programming board would be composed entirely of students, specifically including a Student Activities Resource Center (SARC) intern and two student cochairs. The VSA Vice President for Activities and Assistant Director of Residential Wellness Programming Terrence Hanlon would serve the group in advisory roles. “Based on the information provided from the Alcohol Task Force and the Weekend Events Survey, change is clearly needed in what is offered on the weekends,” wrote Hanlon in an emailed statement. Though he pointed to the success of some events, he noted more creative thinking about programming could counteract both student boredom and dangerous drinking behaviors. “Students are looking for new events and improved traditions. I think we have had some amazing events on campus this year, and they can be improved to limit some negative consequences as well as serve even more students.”
Many Council members also take issue with the current state of campus programming. “My opinion, as someone who has been at Vassar longer than most members of VSA Council, is that the current ‘night-life’ at Vassar is a huge problem,” wrote 2012 Class President Pamela Vogel ’12 in an emailed statement. “Year after year, students are presented with the same programming. Even though it is often of a high quality or represents a tradition for Vassar students, the fact is that such a narrow focus in programming isolates students...Based on the ongoing conversations about ‘alternative programming’ that happen each year, it seems to me like the Programming Board proposal could be a step in the right direction.” Still, she noted that the Board’s hasty creation at the end of this year would be at best a partial solution to a broad and complicated issue. “Understanding the programming needs of students is a huge task to undertake, and one that we can’t address appropriately in April,” wrote Vogel. “The VSA Council this year has been able to accomplish quite a bit, but our progress has been made in realms we’ve had all year to focus on. In the end, I see this proposal as a short-term solution that points to a much larger problem—a problem that deserves the year-long attention of next year’s Council and not the band-aid we can slap on it this spring before we leave office.” VP for Student Life Charlie Dobb ’12, who has worked in conjunction with Thottam and Hanlon in developing the concept of the board, agreed that its influence would be limited, and asserted that the Council and the College administration would need to work continually to address programming concerns. “It is important to note that no one thing will fix this issue. There are a lot of different offices and people that collaborate on programming, and they’ll all need to work together to develop long-term solutions,” Dobb wrote in an email. “However, this is a relatively quick and easy way to form a group of students dedicated to thinking about this issue with some money behind them.” That money, which the board would use to throw alternative events, would include the rela-
tively modest sum of $5,000 from the VSA’s discretionary funds, and a larger sum from the Dean of the College office, which Thottam estimated would be between $7,000 and $10,000. Those who support the board’s creation before the end of the year describe significant advantages to moving forward on the project in the immediate future rather than allowing the responsibility to fall to next year’s Council. “I think this proposal is a great idea whether it is approved this semester or next,” wrote Hanlon. “However, with the Dean of the College Division already in support of the board, I think VSA approval this semester would help ensure the success of the board in starting the next year off ready to serve the students, rather than having to wait until the middle of the fall semester, at the earliest.” Davison House President Doug Greer ’14, who is running to serve as VP for Activities next year, said the board would be more effective in reaching students if it were created this year. “If we are going to approve it, it’s better to do so this semester. If it isn’t done until next year, it won’t have the opportunity to be a part of the activities fair,” he wrote in an email. “Outreaching to at-large members over the summer would also be difficult if it hasn’t been approved yet.” Class of 2015 President Benedict Nguyen ’15, who has helped plan the proposed design of the board as a member of the Activities committee, said there were few risks in moving forward quickly with the proposal. “Though there are so few weeks left in the semester, I do think it’s a worthwhile experiment that won’t cost the VSA that much of its time or money. If it’s successful next year, the benefits to the student body will far outweigh the costs. And if it doesn’t go as hoped, then it’ll at the very least continue to help us understand what students want out of their weekends at Vassar.” At the Council’s next meeting, Dobb and Thottam will present a formal proposal for the Council’s consideration. The Council may vote to approve the Board or table discussion until the following week.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
News Briefs VSA Saturday Shuttle stops service
The Vassar Student Association (VSA) shuttle will be ending its services for the semester after a successful year running on a Saturday-only schedule. “We switched this year to having the shuttle only on Saturdays, going into the evening, instead of Saturday and Sunday,” said VSA Vice President for Operations Jenna Konstatine ’13, adding, “This was much less expensive for us.” The shuttle, funded entirely by the VSA, cost $15,000 for the year. Because of budgetary constraints, there will be no Saturday VSA shuttle for the rest of the semester. The shuttle was scheduled to leave campus on the hour starting at 3 p.m. and run until 9 p.m., providing students with transportation to the Walkway over the Hudson, the train station, the Galleria Mall, Barnes & Noble and Stop & Shop. Additionally, the decision to move the shuttle to Saturdays only was informed by the data from last year, which showed that an overwhelming majority of students took the shuttle on Saturdays. The shuttle’s future schedule will hinge upon the VSA Council’s assessment of the success of the shuttle this year. Leprechaun bus lines will provide the VSA with statistical breakdowns of when the shuttle was used most often and to what location. Until next year, however, students who would like to take the bus on Saturdays will have to look to the Shopper’s Special City of Poughkeepsie Bus Service. —Danielle Bukowski, News Editor Local enviornmental activist speaks
On Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m., local environmental activist Debra Hall gave a lecture about her fight to get clean water to her neighborhood in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., a battle in which she has sometimes come into conflict with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2003 it was discovered that the water in Hall’s home was contaminated with significant amounts of the chemical compound trichloroethylene (TCE) from Hopewell Precision, a metal manufacturer. Hall’s well had 76 parts-per-billion (PPB) of TCE in it; the EPA’s legal limit is 5 PPB. Hall fought for years to get the Hopewell well site where she and her neighbors get their water listed on the EPA’s Superfund Inventory. The Superfund is the federal government’s program to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites; in September of 2011 the EPA classified TCE as a human carcinogen. Now that the site is on the Superfund Inventory, she is working towards getting the area municipal water and raising awareness of water contamination within her community. At the request of the Vassar Greens, who sponsored the lecture, Hall’s lecture focused primarily on the difficulties she has faced getting politicians and the EPA involved in her fight for clean water. It wasn’t until she wrote a “Letter to the Editor” piece to the Poughkeepsie Journal that the EPA would give filters to the homes with contaminated water. Currently, Hall is working towards getting the Hopewell Junction neighborhood water from a municipal source, but it has been a bureaucratic hassle for Hall. Part of the issue has been that the EPA believes it is an issue for town supervisors and local politicians to sort out, while the local politicians have not been cooperative. Hall was particularly critical of Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, who has been unresponsive to her requests for assistance so that Hopewell can get clean water. The process of getting Hopewell Junction clean water requires the results of various EPA tests that have been on-going for years. The issue of hydrofracking was brought up by an audience member, as fracking can also contaminating well water. Hall said that the anti-hydrofracking campaigners have not been working towards her own goal, so while she condemned hydrofracking, she is keeping focused on getting her issue resolved before considering hydrofracking. “Clean water is so important... you don’t realize this is such an issue until it isn’t there,” Hall said. —D.B.
April 19 , 2012
Candidates vie for contested positions until Saturday facilitate communication between students and graduates. Current House Student Advisor and 2013 Class Presidential hopeful Louise DeFresne ‘13 echoed many of Marchetta’s thoughts. “While I can’t promise people that they’re going to get jobs, and that’s sort of the [Career Development Office’s] job to do that, we can obviously work with them,” said DuFresne, explaining that she would operate in conjunction with the Career Development Office to make the senior year job hunt easier for students. “Jobs are on our minds,” asserted DuFresne. Dufresne and Marchetta also want to improve their Class’ inter- and intra-Class relationships. “I think that one of the things that is very important to people is building a wonderful Class community,” asserted DuFresne. Marchetta largely agreed with DuFresne’s analysis, emphasizing that strong ties between seniors and underclassmen should also be fostered because they provide a valuable academic, extracurricular and professional advisory service. To this end, both candidates want to make Serenading less adversarial by building upon this year’s new freshmen and senior dorm pizza party socials. Candidates for VSA President are both primarily concerned with communication. Both Jewett House President Clayton Masterman ‘13 and VSA Vice President for Finance Jason Rubin ‘13 would, for example, encourage administrators to gauge student opinion with regard to repurposing the space below the Kiosk. Currently occupied by the Vassar Bookstore, this space will become vacant sometime during the next few years because the College plans to move the bookstore off-campus to the Juliet’s Cafe building. Since the announcement, ideas such as a new performance space, or dining center have become popular among students. Masterman and Rubin hope that Senior Officers such as Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources Marianne Begemann and Dean of the College Chris Roellke will orga-
Juliana Halpert for The Miscellany News
CANDIDATES continued from page 1 Sheehy ‘15 would like to develop closer relationships between students of different Houses. “Students all around campus... [would] like more opportunities to get together with members of other dorms,” explained Sheehy in an emailed statement, claiming that “Many feel like they fall into one particular friend group, and there aren’t enough opportunities to branch out.” If elected, he hopes to work with House Teams to organize inter-House study breaks and Communi-teas on a regular basis. Sheehy’s rival and current Jewett House Sophomore Representative Ben Morse ‘14 also wants to build stronger bonds between each House, and agrees that out-of-House programming would be an effective method for achieving this goal. “The diversity of events on our campus needs to be improved, and we need to create resources that will allow House Teams to put on better study breaks, weekend events, UPC events, and all-campus parties,” wrote Morse in an emailed statement, adding that “Vassar used to have a Board of House VicePresidents, which would discuss events that went over well in each House...and would facilitate inter-House programming.” If elected, he would work to reinstate the Board of House Vice Presidents to support the Board of House Presidents and organize better inter-House programming. Unlike their residential counterparts, candidates for 2013 Class Presidident are concerned with an off-campus issue: post-Vassar employment. “Going into next year, I know for seniors, life after Vassar will be an important issue, and especially using Vassar’s networks to make things happen,” said incumbent Vincent Marchetta ‘13. Although he did not have specific suggestions for how to improve employment prospects for Vassar students, he expressed enthusiasm for The Hub, a new online tool developed by the Vassar Office of Alumnae/i Affairs and Development meant to
As the campaigning period reaches its pinnicle, candidate posters plaster public spaces, including the College Center, residential halls and the All Campus Dining Center. Campaigning ends Saturday. nize town halls and meet with students in person to learn more about ideas such as these. “As the bookstore moves out and the student space goes into that space, I think we really need to make sure that student input really drives what it looks like,” said Masterman, emphasizing that adminstrators should expand their campus outreach efforts to glean new perspectives unique to students. Rubin and Masterman also want to improve communication between the VSA Council and the student body. They both suggested that the VSA Council should create an opt-in/opt-out system to let students control the flow of information. Each candidate even recommended that the VSA Council publish a bi-monthly newsletter to keep students informed. “Each VP and myself, assuming I’m elected, can up-
date on their weekly or monthly activities...the projects they’re working on, when their committee is meeting and what they’re discussing,” said Rubin, outlining his idea of what a VSA newsletter might look like. Although there are many highly competitive races this year, VSA candidates are not taking substantially oppositional positions. Morse and Sheehy both agree that inter-House bonds could be improved; Marchetta and DuFresne would both focus on their class’ relationship with the rest of campus; and Rubin and Masterman both have the sames ideas for streamlining administration to student and VSA Council to student communication. For more information about specific campaigns, visit miscellanynews. com this Saturday for VSA Executive Board candidate video interviews.
VSA documents streamlined, made more comprehensive fort and seemed a little more substantive,” said Konstantine. “We did not want to have them just thrown into there.” “I think it’s a really awesome step in the right direction,” said Junior Class President Vincent Marchetta ’13 in regards to the revised Constitution. “We would always joke in Operations Committee at the beginning of the year about how bad the Constitution was…If our governing documents don’t make sense, then how it is possible for us [to do things] that make sense or are efficient? Now, it’s easier to take a critical look at the way our government works because it’s all actually laid out. This is working toward the ultimate goal of having our student governance be clear and consistent.” Now that the amendments from the Constitutia-thon have passed, a few of the Operations Committee’s current members have ambitious plans for next year’s committee. “Since the [Operations] Committee will no longer be bogged down by constitutional review for grammar errors and the like, it can now focus its efforts on improving the VSA,” wrote Jewett House President Clayton Masterman ’13 in an emailed statement. “Additionally, amendments that are substantive and necessary can now be considered without the backdrop of a broken document. The committee will have the freedom to choose where to focus its efforts in order to best serve the student body, which I think is incredible considering the amount of time it has had to spend trying to fix things.” Noyes House President Deborah Steinberg ’14 is also excited for the upcoming year. “I think it will be wonderful going into next year with cleaner and more coherent documents, and it will be a lot easier to use and refer to them moving forward. There are still a few projects that future Operations Committees will need to tackle in regards to the documents, but those changes are substantive so we did not loop them in with the Constitutia-thon. However, I envision those projects as being small conversations or
Rachel Garbade for The Miscellany News
CONSTITUTION continued from page 1 to understand. [Our governing documents] had lots of inconsistencies and lots of grammatical errors. We decided the most effective way to streamline governing documents would be to tackle the whole thing and sit down for hours and hours and fix the mistakes.” This decision resulted in several “Constitutia-thon” meetings, in which the Operations committee went through all 17 pages of the Constitution and 35 pages of Bylaws, writing amendments along the way. Konstantine emphasized that all of the amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws are non-substantive and do not change their content. Major issues included moving procedural descriptions from the Constitution to the Bylaws, correcting grammatical errors, maintaining consistency throughout the documents and eliminating language that reinforced the gender binary. In order to simplify the process, the 55 proposed amendments were consolidated into a single bloc, which passed unanimously in front of Council. Additionally, the Operations Committee proposed two other amendments that were not included in the bloc. One amendment erased the name of a nonexistent joint committee from the Bylaws and revised the language regarding student representatives on the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP) in order to reflect current practices. Previously, section 19 of the Bylaws had stated that the CCP should be chaired by the Vice President for Academics and consist of 5 students representing the curricular divisions. The new amendment states that the CCP includes “two students.. with majors in a department and a multidisciplinary program,” one of whom is the VP for Academics. The other amendment corrected mistaken language that unfairly penalized the Vice President for Finance for serving a longer term than the other Vice Presidents by preventing him from running for other VSA positions. “These were composed a little after the Constitutia-thon ef-
Above, Vassar Student Association Council members discuss the Constitiution amendments at last Sunday’s meeting. The changes, drafted in a semester-long “Constitutia-thon,” unanimously passed. possibly efforts of the individuals who are really passionate about specific areas of our governance.” “The Operations Committee in years to come will hopefully now be able to focus on some of the larger issues on campus and take on more initiatives of their own,” continued Steinberg optimistically. “One problem the VSA Council still needs to address is how to best communicate with the student body, and I would love to see the Operations Committee experiment with that and really work to revamp our communications systems and make all of the resources on campus more accessible.” Marchetta echoed Steinberg’s hopes for better communication between the Council and Vassar students in the future. “I think now it would be good for Operations to be the body that takes a critical look at how the
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
student government as a whole functions and…alters its structure to make it more effective and help students.” He suggested ways of improving VSA accessibility, including installing billboards in the College Center, improving the website and seeking greater student input. “[The committee would be] the body that reaches out to students to find out what they want from their student government in a more general way.” Regardless of what the Operations Committee’s new initiatives will be in the upcoming year, it is clear that the the VSA Constitution and Bylaws will not need to be revised on this scale for some time. However, Konstantine concluded, “I hope that, moving forward, VSA councils will make it a priority to continue to review and edit the governing documents according to best practices.”
April 19 , 2012
Community pushes for relationship abuse sanction Ruth Bolster seNioR editoR
ver the course of the past year, Vassar has been striving to update its policies regarding sexual misconduct and gender discrimination so as to better comply with Title IX standards. Yet as it currently stands, Vassar does not have a specific sanction regarding relationship abuse in its college regulations, a fact that some members of the college community find troubling and ineffective in preventing abuse. Despite this, members of the Vassar administration are working on a comprehensive policy that seeks to define explicit repercussions for those found guilty of abusing a significant other. Relationship abuse is defined as a pattern of threatening behaviors that characterize the interactions between two people. These behaviors typically manifest in some combination of physical, psychological, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. Moreover, examples of relationship abuse include but are not limited to sexual harassment, nonconsensual intercourse or sexual contact, threats, stalking and cyber-stalking, restricting one’s movement, and assault. As it currently stands, the college deals with relationship abuse on a case-by-case basis. “Relationship abuse is a pattern of conduct, and it is a very specific pattern of conduct. It is sort of greater than the sum of its parts,” began Vassar Student Association (VSA) Vice President for Student Life Charlie Dobb ’12. “Under the current system, individual instances are each sanction through the conduct system, but the pattern isn’t sanctioned. The fact is, each of those individual things is terrible, but the pattern is worse.” Dobb is also a member of CARES, Vassar’s studentrun peer listening service for those who are affected by abuse. “A relationship abuse policy... will contrib-
ute to creating[a] campus free from sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, relationship abuse and other forms of gender-based discrimination,” wrote Belinda Guthrie, Associate Dean of the College and Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Officer, in an emailed statement. “The coercive and abusive behaviors that are part of the pattern of relationship abuse will not be tolerated on campus.” If Vassar were to adopt a formal relationship abuse policy, it would be the first of its kind among the college’s peer institutions. However, there have been previous attempts to create a relationship abuse policy at Vassar. “Last year, a VSA working group was working on a relationship abuse charge. They did a lot of research and spent a lot of time doing the work and never quite got it to the point where it was ready to go to policy,” said Dobb. However, these efforts on the part of the VSA were absorbed into larger efforts on the part of the administration to amend Vassar’s Title IX documents. The push to re-evaluate Vassar’s policies regarding sexual misconduct and gender discrimination came in the wake of the April 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) from U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali, which encouraged all U.S. academic institutions to review and amend their Title IX policies so as to better protect students, faculty, and staff from gender-based misconduct and harassment. As a result of this, a Title IX reporting policy was issued by Vassar’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which outlines the ways in which Vassar protects the privacy of students and other members of the college community when reporting instances of sexual misconduct. The college also adopted
a new hazing policy, which explicitly defines hazing and prohibits its practice at Vassar. “This year a Title IX working group was formed to implement some of the Title IX recommended revisions to our personal violence and sexual misconduct policies,” Dobb continued. “One of the things this group was working on was what was being called an ‘Interpersonal violence charge,’ which was essentially what we would commonly think of as a domestic violence charge.” However, there was concern from both the college’s legal counsel as well as some members within the administration that such a sanction may not hold if the matter was appealed to a state or federal court. Specifically, if a student were charged with allegations of relationship abuse and consequentially expelled, this student could then sue Vassar on the grounds that these charges were not legally viable. In a court of law, it could then be argued that any subsequent punishment that the school sanctioned was unfairly given to the student in question. “The College’s legal counsel said that this isn’t something that many colleges were doing. It hasn’t been tried in courts and the legal council wasn’t sure if it would be upheld,” said Dobb. “Also, the legal counsel was concerned that it could be ‘revictimizing’ for a victim to be debated that heavily [if the policy went to court]. It would put the victim through a lot and it might not achieve any more substantial justice for the victim long term for that cost.” Members of the administration were not available to comment on the specifics of these legal issues. Yet despite this setback, proponents of a formal relationship abuse policy plan to redraft the policy over summer in conjunction with the new Sexual Assault Violence Prevention (SAVP) Coordinator Elizabeth
Schrock. Those involved in drafting the bill also plan on working with peer institutions in creating a standalone statement that is explicitly against relationship abuse on college campuses. As part of the revised sanction, the college also hopes to beak the pattern of relationship abuse by better tracking it in those who have demonstrated a history of abusing their significant others. “In the Fall 2012, CCL [Committee on College Life] will consider a proposal for a ‘relationship abuse marker or tag’ to be attached to all College Regulation charges when there is evidence of relationship abuse as defined by the policy occurring between current or former intimate partners who have dated, lived together, or been married,” stated Guthrie. For those who are charged of misconduct toward his or her significant other, this ‘tag’ or marker is intended to inform the College Regulations Panel of this person’s history regarding abuse. Guthrie continued, “Much like bias incidents or hate crimes, a relationship abuse tag or marker will be considered by a College Regulations Panel and will heighten the sanction(s) recommended by the Panel.” Although Guthrie acknowledges the importance of having a solid relationship abuse policy in place, she also notes that other responses on the part of the administration are vital to safeguarding victims from harm. “A relationship abuse policy statement is vitally important, but early intervention and a coordinated campus response, which may include SAVP, CARES, SART [Sexual Assault Response Team], assistance from the EOAA [Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action] office, and other on- and off-campus support services is critical to protecting victims,” she stated.
Observatory offers amateur astronomers access to stars Thomas Lawler Guest ReppoRteR
Tara Mazer for The Miscellany News
t professionally-run observatories outside of the collegiate sphere, an accomplished astronomer would need to complete a competitive application process before being awarded a few nights a year to work with a telescope. At Vassar, students and faculty members who wish to explore the galaxy, whether for asteroid rotations or orbital moon patterns of our solar system, have immediate access to the on-campus observatory, which provides first-hand research opportunities year-round. Built in 1996, the Class of 1951 Observatory houses four telescopes: a 32-inch, a 20-inch, a Coronado solar telescope, and an 8-inch refractor. The large telescopes feature research-grade electronic cameras, and three spectrographs are can also be used. The 32inch is the largest telescope in the state of New York, and is equipped with a high-tech digital camera and spectrographs to help document and record research. The varying telescopes, stored in separate domes of the observatory, offer an impressive range for academic study and inquiry. Vassar has a long history being on the forefront of astronomy that all began with Maria Mitchell, the first professor Matthew Vassar hired and the first American female professional astronomer, as well as the first astronomer on campus. The original Vassar Observatory was the first building completed and opened in 1865, and it housed a 12-inch telescope. “Mitchell believed that the way her students would learn was by actually doing work at the telescope and making observations rather than reading about them in the textbook,” says Fred Chromey Jr., Director of the Observatory and Professor of Astronomy on the Matthew Vassar Jr. Chair. This semester, Chromey is teaching two lectures, Advanced Observational Astronomy and Observational Astronomy, and one independent study that use the facility. Many of the other classes in the department are on astronomical theory rather than observa-
The Class of 1951 Observatory, which was completed in 1996 houses four telescopes and research-grade electronic cameras. The observatory is open to the public every Wednesday night from 9 to 11 p.m. tion. Yet Chromey tries to have his students from theoretical classes, such as Planetary and Space Science, work in the observatory several times throughout the semester during labs and projects in order for them to gain practical understanding of the devices. The observatory, though, is as much a tool for research for the students as it is for the professors. Currently, Professor Chromey is concentrating on contact binary stars, which is when two stars are extremely close and may even touch. He is researching what results from the merging of stars and the close proximity between the two. Speaking of the benefits of the Observatory, Chromey said, “Professional telescopes are oversubscribed so if I wanted to go, I might get maybe four or five nights a semester,” says Chromey. “With this telescope I can use it night after night to observe an object that is varying and changing constantly.” But for the Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair Debra Elmegreen, Vas-
sar’s observatory is not large enough for her personal research. Elmegreen, who is on sabbatical this year, focuses her studies on distant galaxies that can only be observed with larger ground-based telescopes, such as the Hubble or Spitzer Space Telescopes. While her personal intellectual pursuits can’t be accomplished at Vassar’s observatory, Elmegreen does use the observatory as a teaching tool in her classes. “Many observatories still have astronomers at the telescopes and although some also have remote observing or observing done by a telescope operator, you cannot know what to observe or how to observe without learning it firsthand,” she wrote in a emailed statement, citing the benefit of Vassar’s program in that students could directly handle the telescopes. This direct access to such a powerful observatory is a great experience for the 30 to 40 percent of astronomy majors that continue to grad school and further research. “The training at our observatory places our stu-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
dents in a competitive advantage in applying for national summer research positions and in being admitted to graduate school,” says Elmegreen. In many ways students, who can interview for a work-study position on the observatory staff, run the facility and assist with the research programs operating the telescopes throughout the school year. The nine positions are filled by Chromey, who looks for interest or knowledge in the field of astronomy. Doing mostly nighttime work requires the students to a have specialized skill set. “Students working there should have a basis in astronomy and be able to explain our understanding of Mars or the expansion of the universe,” says Chromey. Zeeve Rogoszinski ’14, an astronomy major and a member of the observatory’s staff, is grateful to have a powerful and educational device just a walk away from his dorm. “As an undergrad astronomy major,” he says, “to have a fully functional facility with up-todate equipment at my disposal is a tremendous benefit.” Whether doing their own research for a class or assisting a professor, the students that run the observatory have a large responsibility. They are particularly needed during the open observatory hours every Wednesday night from 9-11 p.m. Depending on the weather, visitors from Vassar and the larger Poughkeepsie community are invited to come and look through the telescopes. “These open hours have been a great success,” says Chromey, “because we provide access to a state-of-the-art device to school groups, scout clubs, and individuals interested in the galaxies.” Following a history that dates back to the founding of Vassar, the astronomy department and professors continue to promote the program and facility though direct involvement with the equipment. “Builders of the future also need hands-on training,” says Elmegreen, “and on our telescopes at the observatory have and continue to allow students to learn a lot about their construction, performance, and operation.”
April 19 , 2012
Where are they now? Former Misc Editors in Chief
Courtesy of Brian Farkas
Ruby Cramer ’12 (left) and Brian Farkas ’10 (right), both former editors in chief of The Miscellany News, pose with a friend at a sesquicentennial event. Cramer is currently interning at CBS Evening News. Danielle Bukowski FeatuRes editoR
he Editor in Chief (EiC) position for any publication comes with its benefits, drawbacks, and innumerable stresses. This 20112012 school year saw two Editors in Chief for The Miscellany News, with Dave Rosenkranz ’14 elected for Fall 2012. Reflecting on their experiences as Editors in Chief, as well as where they are now, are Aashim Usgaonkar ’13, Molly Turpin ’12, Ruby Cramer ’12, and Brian Farkas ’10. Usgaonkar, who was EiC for the Spring 2012 semester after spending a semester as Senior Editor, has no plans to go into journalism. An Economics and English double major, he will be spending his summer as an analyst at Citigroup’s Institutional Clients Group. “Certainly my passion as EiC did not stem from a journalistic ambitions per se, but I was definitely attracted to the position by the leadership opportunities that came with interact-
ing with all levels of the College,” said Usgaonkar. “Talking to administrators and student government officials benefitted me in many ways, and helped me develop transferable skills that will be useful in all future endeavors.” Fitting with the type of go-getter and independent qualities that make for a good Editor in Chief, Usgaonkar has no modest plans for his career after Vassar. “I can see myself, after college, being an analyst on Wall Street, hopefully Citi will love me, and then business school, and from business school back to Wall Street or banking in general, and then as an associate or Vice President for an investment bank. At that point, I hope to have enough skills to move to the buy side of finance, ideally at a hedge fund or a private equity shop, which I would say is conducive to the later years of your life,” Usgaonkar admitted. A full year term is usually as long as any Editor in Chief can hold out, but Ungaonkar’s predecessor, Molly Turpin, was able to run the paper for
three semesters straight. “It was a good experience overall, and by the end of it, I knew how to be EiC of Misc backwards, forwards and inside out. I felt like I could put together an issue in my sleep,” Turpin said. She was given the rare opportunity to sit on the Editorial Board as a freshman, as the online editor. “There are a lot of different aspects to being Editor in Chief, one is that you’re the point person for the paper: you’re the person everyone calls about issues. It’s a huge challenge but it’s really rewarding, and one of my favorite parts of being EiC was being that point person,” said Turpin. “I also liked commenting on all of the articles.” After graduation Turpin will attend the Columbia Publishing Course, hoping to pursue a career in journalism. “There are plenty of publications I would be very pleased to work for… what I like to read or listen to I would like to replicate, in my own way.” The article Turpin is most proud of writing is one she did her sophomore year on the shift in hours for custodial staff. “It was the first really long article I wrote… it was about how the scheduling change would affect custodians and their well-being, and to write the article I got to really interact with more senior officers as well as talk to custodial staff: a couple mornings I went out and was basically shown around their work,” Turpin said, “I was really proud of getting the full story on what this change was doing to the custodians’ work. The range of reporting I had to do made me feel like a real journalist.” Turpin’s predecessor Ruby Cramer also used her time as Editor in Chief to think more critically about a future career in journalism. “Being Editor in Chief was, if not the best experience I’ve had at Vassar, the most challenging by far,” Cramer said, “I was EiC when I was a sophomore, and it was a whirlwind, honestly, but at the same time it was the 2009-2010 school year, the time when all of the recession stuff was going on. People were getting laid off, departments were losing adjunct professors, custodians hours were shifted to inconvenient times to save money- so many things were going on around campus… I don’t think anyone expected Vassar to be in such a hard place, and people were very angry and upset and anxious, and as Editor you are covering all of those stories, which are not always fun, but at the same time people were really interested in reading the news,” Cramer said. She remembered a time one Thursday morning at 5 a.m., while distributing the paper around campus, when she heard two Vassar staff members excit-
edly discussing the fact that the new issue of the Miscellany was out: “I never thought someone on campus would actually anticipate the arrival of the paper that much.” After a year as Editor in Chief, Cramer became VSA Vice President for Operations. She has spent her senior year as an intern to President Catharine Bond Hill’s office and commuting to New York City twice a week to be an intern at CBS Evening News. While Cramer was presiding over a team of reporters taking on student protests and a drop in endowment, the prior year’s Editor in Chief began work to alter the look of the Miscellany. Brian Farkas, now in his second year at Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University, came into the 2008-2009 Editor position with an eye towards the paper’s image. Said Farkas, “I wanted to change the look and feel of the paper. Prior to that [year], there was one big “cover story,” which made the paper look like a tabloid-style magazine. We wanted it to look more like a broadsheet newspaper, comparable to The Yale Daily News or The Williams Record. We then redesigned the website to match that new look, since the site hadn’t been changed much since early 2004.” The following year, when Cramer was EiC, the humor section was moved from the final page of the paper to Opinions, completing the move towards a more standard newspaper design. “I wanted to make the Miscellany feel more like the papers of Williams and Amherst, but now I think we’ve easily surpassed those schools in both the quality of our style and our reporting.” Farkas began his career at the Miscellany during the freshman orientation VANS event. “I found a nerdy group of hypercommitted, type-A personalities, and I fit well into that. As soon as I got into the spirit of the paper I never wanted to leave.” He was EiC his junior year, and moved on to VSA Vice President for Operations in his senior year. “Being on the Miscellany News was great because you had a finger on the pulse of everything on campus,” he said. “You develop this great institutional knowledge [of the College], and although I really liked that, it was a bit frustrating. As a newspaper you must be objective and can’t ‘do anything’ to fix any of the problems you report,” Farkas commented. “I felt like if I really wanted to move past criticism and actually get into the nitty-gritty of helping Vassar. Student government allowed me to do that.” As Rosenkranz prepares to preside over the 146th volume of the Miscellany News, the weight and contributions of his predecessors surely hang on his shoulders.
Registrar reveals most popular classes for VC students Casey Zuckerman RepoRteR
uring the exciting and nail-biting time of class registration, everyone knows that the popular classes fill up fast. But the task of discovering the specific classes which are actually the most popular can, at times, be difficult. But you don’t have to rely on rumors any longer: The Registrar has a list of the most popular classes. For the last three academic years English 101 has had the highest enrollment. Following close behind are Psychology 105, Economics 100, and Economics 101. Art 105 and Sociology 151 usually are within the top six to eight. Rounding out the top ten for the first time this academic year is Political Science 160. Registrar Colleen Mallet said in an emailed statement that this list has not been entirely static over her nearly three decades working at the College. “Throughout my time at Vassar these same courses have been in the top 5 or 10 enrollment wise. There are some trends where for instance Art 105-106 will be at the top of the for a few years, and drop and another course will take that top spot.” The percentage of students in the graduating class of 2011 who took English 101 is 61%. The year before it was 62%. Mallet explains that there are many reasons a class can become this popular. “In some cases, one can make a correlation between the high enrollment and degree requirements,” she said, “English 101 fulfills the Freshman Writing Seminar Requirement, and that drives student enrollment; Psychology 105, Economics 100 and 101 fulfill the Quantitative Analysis Requirement and that also drives student enrollment.”
“Students considering pre-med need a year of English, thus many take English 101 in their first year at Vassar,” added Mallet. Visiting Associated Professor of English David Means, however, isn’t sure how much requirements play into the large enrollment in his English 101 class. But he said that he enjoys teaching all English 101 students, since many freshman don’t know what direction they are heading yet academically. He warns that students should not limit themselves to classes that receive a large number of pre-registration requests in order to gauge which classes might suite them. “Because it’s a deeply individual matter, it can be dangerous to access your own needs based [on] the fact that a certain course somehow met the needs of a large number, or received great evaluations.” Professor Nicholas de Leeuw ’82, is one of the professors who teaches Psychology 105, a class that has found itself in the top five year after year. While he acknowledges that some students take the class to fulfill their quantitative requirement, he does not feel like the popularity of the class hinges on it. “Intro Psych has been a popular course at Vassar long before there was any such thing as a Quantitative Requirement requirement. My goal has been to give all of the intro students a basic understanding of research design and statistics, so that they can be educated consumers of science even if this is the only science course they take.” He claims that whatever your reason for taking the class, the goal is to get students—including those who take the class to fulfill the Quantitative Requirement —interested in the subject. “My not-so-secret other goal is to get them excited about science,
and psychology in particular.” Economics 100, and Introduction to Macroeconomics, and Economics 101, an Introduction to Microeconomics, round out the top four classes. While they both fulfill the Quantitative Requirement, the professors who teach these courses do not believe that the requirement is an important factor in the classes’ popularity. Assistant Professor of Economics Nelson Sá credits several reasons why Economics 100 is a popular choice for students. “First, economics is pervasive in everyday life and news reports... The recent financial crisis and recession likely help reinforce this awareness and curiosity.” Assistant Economics Professor Benjamin Ho, who teaches Economics 101, also doesn’t believe that the Quantitative Requirement plays much of a role in high enrollment numbers. He encourages students to take the class, regardless of what they major in. “I happen to think microeconomics is a very valuable set of tools you can use to analyze all trade-offs in life. Useful not just in deciding what stocks to buy or what company to invest in, but in every day life, like deciding when to exercise, or whether to recycle, or what kind of car to buy.” Another faculty member who enjoyed teaching students new to their discipline was Professor of Sociology Pinar Batur, who enjoys teaching Sociology 151 to those who have never taken Sociology before. She refers to well known classical sociologists by nicknames, and strives to make the complex social theories they devised accessible to her students. She focuses on the issue of food in her section, bringing the theories of classical sociologists into modern-day issues. “We come to realize in the class that food is our politics, our economics, and also our cul-
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ture... What is an important part of Sociology is that it has a critical voice, by having knowledge and understanding of what is existing in order to change it.” A well known class at Vassar, Art 105-106, is a unique class in that it is comprised of large lectures and small conference sections taught in part by every full-time professor in the Art History Department throughout the year. The class covers a broad range of art history, from Ancient Egypt to modern day. With a 40 foot screen and HD projector, students see a wide variety of art in great pixel quality. As for why it is so popular, Assistant Professor Yvonne Elet can only speculate. “I hear students and alums say it was their favorite class for a variety of reasons. I think it’s the opportunity to see professors from a whole department share the material they most enjoy working on, and apply a range of approaches and methodologies to it.” Professor and Chair of the Art Department Molly Nesbit says that the class offers a chance student for art students to take away knowledge for use, perhaps, later in life. “Since it is possible that the student will never take another art history course, the lectures need to give the student a full account—a grasp of the forces of history playing out in real time and through the work of art.” As students prepare their schedules for next year, Professor Means, encourages all students, not only those in his English classes, to explore all Vassar has to offer. “As a student, you’re throwing your spirit out there, trying the catch the sparks that light the fire of your innermost vision of who you might become, and you never know what class, or which professor, might do that for you,” said Means.
April 19 , 2012
Off-campus jobs foster connection with community Matt Ortilé
Juliana Halpert for The Miscellany News
ost Vassar students earned their extra money this year by shelving books at the Library, working as office assistants or patrolling residential houses well into the night. Others, however, sought employment beyond the Vassar bubble for a different work experience. For example, some students have worked at local restaurants adjacent to the Vassar campus. Working in the Poughkeepsie community reaped educational and social, as well as financial, gains for those who decided to step offcampus for more than just an empanada from Twisted Soul. “I wanted to work off-campus because I rarely found Student Employment to be helpful in placing me in a job I actually wanted to do,” said Sydney Lopez ’14. “After several frustrated attempts [to work through Student Employment], I decided to seek off-campus employment, which resulted in me working at Babycakes.” A favorite amongst members of both the Vassar and Poughkeepsie communities, Babycakes Café is an independently owned business and has been part of the neighborhood since 2002. With its central location on Collegeview Avenue, the student waiters did not have far to commute for their off-campus jobs. Lopez worked at Babycakes for about four months in her sophomore year at Vassar. “I had to seat customers, make coffees, take orders, clean up, all the usual restaurant business,” she said. During her time at Babycakes, which has since ended due to academic concerns, Lopez witnessed the local business’ relationship with the college. “For the most part, Vassar is a really integral part of Babycakes’ business,” she explained. “They plan around major events that occur on campus, such as Parents’ Weekends, graduations, and the like.” For example, if you are checked-in at the Vassar Alumni House, Babycakes gives you a free breakfast. However, Lopez learned that Vassar’s infamously strained town-gown relations were not unfounded. “There is a bit of a Vassar stigma,”
admitted Lopez. “People make a few assumptions, like the idea that Vassar kids are rich and uppity.” Ken Wolkin ’12 worked as a dinner server at Babycakes for over a year and observed the same thing as Lopez. “While recognizing the fact that a lot of our business comes from Vassar,” explained Wolkin, “[Babycakes staff members] aren’t fond of the paltry or sometimes nonexistent tips that Vassar students often leave.” While he wasn’t treated any differently or ostracized by his co-workers as a Vassar student, Wolkin directly experienced the Vassar-restaurant relationship from the worker standpoint. “I could sympathize with [my co-workers] to a certain extent,” said Wolkin, “having not been tipped or insultingly tipped by Vassar students a few times.” “At the same time, as a student, I understand that most students don’t have tons of money to be throwing around,” Wolkin added. Still, Wolkin said that while Vassar connections with the Poughkeepsie community may seem tenuous at first, there is a level of respect acknowledged between both parties. “At the end of the day,” he said, “[the people at Babycakes] understand that many Vassar students aren’t in fact trust fund babies, or just don’t care to spend $50 to $70 on a meal for two.” However, along with negatives came positives. Both Lopez and Wolkin enjoyed their times at Babycakes and they fostered connections they would not otherwise have made had they been employed on-campus. “It was nice to interact with the community in a non-generic ‘this is Vassar arranging for you to interact with Poughkeepsie’ kind of way,” elaborated Lopez. Lopez saw the local restaurant as an agent for generating discourse in the community. “Because Babycakes is a pretty regular meeting place for people in the community,” said Lopez, “[working there] was first hand experience with real community members, talking about their lives and issues pertaining to Poughkeepsie.” Wolkin also commended the spirit of com-
Above, a Vassar student mans the cash register at Babycakes Caf�é. Several students look for job opportunities within Poughkeepsie, allowing them to interact with the local community in new ways. munity togetherness Babycakes inspires on a regular basis. “They also have done work to reach out to the gay community in Poughkeepsie,” said Wolkin, “hosting a ‘Gay Night’ every Wednesday after the dinner shift ended. I thought that was pretty cool.” Additionally, Lopez and Wolkin agreed that their staff interactions were pleasant and entertaining. “I met some really fantastic, lovable people working off campus,” said Lopez. “And the staff there as a whole is awesome!” added Wolkin, who had worked in restaurants for at least four years prior to becoming a part of the Babycakes staff. “The owner is a really great woman. We had staff parties with free drinks, amazing food, scavenger hunts, awards ceremonies… those were a lot of fun.” However enjoyable their Babycakes careers, Lopez and Wolkin had to take their leave due to the circumstances of being a full-time student. “I ultimately stopped working at Babycakes be-
cause my boss said that as a student, my intermittent breaks which required me going home to California was an issue in the scheduling,” said Lopez. “I stopped working there so that I could focus on my thesis and other schoolwork,” said Wolkin. “Also, to be able to enjoy my last month as a student at Vassar without working a menial job—plenty of time to do that after I graduate.” To those who are not yet graduating and are refilling VPrint printers with stacks of paper, Lopez and Wolkin suggest that students consider options off-campus. “I would recommend that students apply there or at other restaurants,” said Wolkin. “The money is better than at the reserve desk, and the experience is infinitely better.” “Make new friends, learn new things, get out of the bubble,” advised Wolkin. “Even if it’s just to go across the street and serve the bubble-folk.”
Student participants earn credit for MLLK food co-op Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin
ood is life” —says an Italian saying— and life is neither simple nor ignored by social scientists. Indeed, within the Vassar College community, there has been a growing awareness about issues surrounding food as can be seen with the founding of student organizations such as Slow Food, the Vassar Farm Project, and a new Multidisciplinary Learning/Living Community (MLLC) program on food which is to begin next fall. MLLC is a program designed to expose a small group of Vassar students from various disciplines to a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach to the study of food. Students in the program will take a semester off from normal Vassar classes to take three intensive courses that each examine the study of food from different academic points of entry . The nine enrolled students will live co-operatively together in one of the Town Houses, as well as complete one credit of independent fieldwork related to food potentially ranging from working on community farms to working with food security activist groups. But the discussion of food as an area of academic focus is not new to Vassar. For about the last seven years, there has been an ongoing dialogue among a group of Vassar professors on issues surrounding food, called Teaching About Food (TAF). The TAF is a group of 13 professors ranging from Anthropology Professor Lucy Johnson, to Associate Professor of Geography Mary Anne Cunningham, to Campus Dining’s Director of Marketing & Sustainability Ken Oldehoff to Psychology Professor Carol Christensen. However, according to Professor of Biology Mark Schlessman, who is in the TAF, a large part of the idea for the MLLC came from Director of the MLLC program Assistant Professor of Anthropology Candice Lowe Swift. According to Schlessman, Professor Lowe Swift approached the TAF group with her idea to
create a learning and living community surrounding the issue of food here at Vassar and it went very well. In an effort to get the College to develop this program, at the end of last spring semester the TAF group had a dinner at Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette’s house, during which time they discussed ideas for the creation of the MLLC program. Each professor interested in teaching a course for the program wrote a short blurb on what he or she would be interested in teaching. The three courses that make up the program each take a different academic approach and provide a unique lens through which the students in the MLLC program will be asked to approach the study of food. “The Biology of Domestication and Food Production,” taught by Professor Schlessman, will examine the domestication of food from a biological standpoint and the basic biology behind food production. In addition to two 75-minute classes, this 200-level biology course has a four-hour lab. An anthropology class taught by Lowe Swift, called “Food in its Cultural and Social Context,” aims to explore the various cultural frameworks surrounding the consumption of food, in particular the various food choices and limitations within each culture. The class will cover topics such as sustainable farming, food justice and access, the role of colonialism and slavery in the development of different food industries, and food practices in the construction of identity. Finally, Professor Cunningham will teach a course entitled “Corn By the Gallon, Milk by the Pound,” which examines the physical geographical standpoint that drive food production around the world, such as soil type and climate; and furthermore how these issues then effect national debates around issues such as soil erosion, biodiversity, soil quality, the environment and food subsidies. Professor Schlessman said, “I think part of
the reason I was asked to get involved was because I was one of the few natural scientists on the list so this was a way to bring sciences in with other areas and have a multidisciplinary program.” According to Meghan McDermott ’13, the student intern for the MLLC program and also the President of Slow Food Vassar, “Food [...] has so many different aspects to it, so you can study the culture, you can study the biology, you can study the geography of the area, however you are going to integrate agriculture.” The nine students enrolled in the MLLC program will only be allowed to enroll in these three classes, making the program somewhat of a JYA on campus in that the students will be asked to take a semester off of their regular classes here at Vassar. The point of this is to allow for the three professors to create a cohesive schedule, that allows for a great deal of flexibly between the classes as well as a cohesiveness within the program. In remarking on the cohesive structure of the program, Professor Schlessman stated, “I look forward to working with the other professors so there is a fair amount of complementarity in terms of what we are doing…so in the period when we are talking about maize we will be talking about it from three different perspectives and everything will tie together.” The cohesive nature of the program was also a draw for the students involved in the program. Emma Elbaum ’14 said, “I think that the MLLC program will be a unique experience because not only will all of us be taking the same classes but also living together cooperatively.” Elbaum continued, “Also, I often find myself relating topics from one class I’m taking to another and it will be interesting to see where a discussion involving nine people who all have the same classes leads.” For next semester, the program is set to start off with students from various academic backgrounds. Professor Schlessman said that
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having this academically diverse group of students was good. “I was hoping we would get a really diverse group of students with a lot of different points of view, because some of this stuff is very political and I was afraid or worried that we may get a group of people who all though one way about food issues.” In the eyes of the MLLC program staff, this first year will serve as a trial run in testing out how the program is going to work. As it is constructed right now, the courses only last for one semester, despite the fact that the students will continue to live together in the cooperative for the remainder of the year, with the hopes that in second semester they will continue to build upon the knowledge they gained in the previous semester. However, depending on how the program goes in its trial year, Professor Schlessman stated that the programing staff of the MLLC are looking to expand it into a full year program. Also, McDermott added that growing out of the MLLC program, “I would love to see an undergraduate food studies program at Vassar… I think in a couple years we could do that undergrad and there is a lot of interest for it.” In addition, McDermott also added that in the future the program may also look into diversifying the curriculum and expanding the size of the program. However, since the MLLC is currently waiting to hear back about a grant, no plans for expansion can be made at this time. MLLC is aiming to create a unique and newfound approach to the study of various multidisciplinary topics on Vassar’s campus. In addition, this program aims to fill the current void surrounding a topic that has becoming a growing source of concern and academic study here at Vassar. Food and the socio-cultural, political, and biological issues surrounding it have been of interest to the Vassar community for quite a while, and the MLLC is aiming to address this in its interdisciplinary approach to the study of food.
April 19 , 2012
VC students take a stand against sexual misconduct SAAW continued from page 1 Week is a time for the entire campus to come together and stand against sexual assault. It’s a time when people who might not be thinking about these issues year-round [get a chance] to learn more by attending film screenings, lectures, speakouts, and other events. It’s also a time when people who already feel passionately about these issues have more opportunities to get involved.” But the fight against sexual violence by these organization is by no means limited to one week of the year. “Combating sexual violence has been one of Feminist Alliance’s major focuses of this year, and so Feminist Alliance and CARES have worked collaboratively throughout the course of this year,” said Feminist Alliance members Faren Tang ’13 and Rachel Ritter ’12 in an emailed statement. “Many individuals are also members of both CARES and Feminist Alliance and able to help us coordinate our efforts. CARES is primarily responsible for organizing Sexual Assault Awareness Week, but we as an organization have been happy to help in whatever way we can,” Tang and Ritter stated. “This year we held our first art show,” Levenson said, in addition to the standard events CARES funds for the week. The traditional events include tabling in the College Center, a speakout, a lecture, and a film screening. The art show was part of Unspoken, a forum for presenting student experiences with sexual assault, which CARES held in the Faculty Commons on Thursday night. The room was covered in artwork, photos, a quilt, and blurbs from breakthesilence, a website which allows students to anonymously post their stories. Studio artwork included two untitled acrylic paintings by Sydney Hessel ’12 and three entitled “The Voyeur,” “The Interim,” and “The Voyeur Pt. 2” by another student who wished
to remain anonymous. She believed that the works speak for herself and bring a clear message to the purpose of Sexual Assault Awareness Week. “They’re kind of a timeline, a flux between the three stages of sexual assault and personal violation people can experience,” the artist said. “Paintings are so interpretive; they don’t mean the same thing even a month after you’ve made them, and they allow everyone to interpret [them] for themselves and see what [they mean] to them,” she said, “they’re also a show of solidarity.” In another corner, students worked on making patches to add to the breakthesilence quilt, each bringing their own thoughts to the cause. “Administrators and other faculty member stopped by as well,” CARES member Kristina Arike ’14 added. Some squares reflected slogans of many sexual assault awareness movements like “My dress is not a yes.” Others illuminated the hope many still have for Vassar and the world on battling such issues, reading, “When darkness falls on your garden, hope still grows” and “Together we can heal our campus.” The message Emilia PlaterZyberk ’15 had to share is ‘You are Loved,’ “because sometimes people tend to forget that,” she said simply. “If you just reach out you can find a network of support.” Spread across the walls and tables were pictures of students holding up signs expressing similar sentiments as those on the quilt. “End victim blaming,” “Respect yourself by respecting others,” and “I believe in healthy relationships,” some of the signs said. Strung across the middle of the room were the stories from breakthesilence, personal accounts of victimization and assault. While the art show was a new addition, the standard events allowed students to keep in mind these issues all week, starting with the
efforts of volunteers tabling in the College Center. On Monday, volunteers handed out white ribbons, which by the end of the day became ever-present on campus and acted as silent reminders of the much bigger issue they represented. Tuesday, or rather “Temporary Tattoosday,” let students proclaim the message “These hands don’t hurt” in temporary ink. Stickers were also handed out , bringing attention to the statistics of sexual assault, reading “1 in 4 women experience sexual assault during their college years” and “1 in 7 men experience sexual assault in their lifetime.” These statistics became even more real during activities such as the speakout, which took place in Matthew’s Mug on Monday night. The speakout provided students with a forum to talk openly in front of their peers about anything they felt comfortable sharing. Female and male students of all class years shared stories across of variety of experience. Some spoke of personal experiences of abuse, assault, and relationship issues, while others shared those of their friends or family, and still many more expressed their concerns with Vassar’s hook-up culture and the media. There would often be periods of silence when no one was speaking which allowed for the audience to reflect on the messages of their friends and fellow students. Many who went to the floor to speak stated that they hadn’t planned on coming or talking at all. Throughout the entire event members of CARES, indicated by purple bandanas, were available to privately talk to anyone who wanted to, as they felt individual examples of assault could speak to larger issues. “Although people of all genders can be perpetrators or victims of sexual violence, sexual violence is still gendered, sex-based violence rooted in patriarchal ideas about men’s own-
ership over women’s bodies. Individual acts of sexual violence are also part of broader systems of oppression,” stated Tang and Ritter. Feminist Alliance co-sponsored Miriam Perez’s Wednesday lecture on Social Justice as a Tool for Combating Sexual Violence. “[The lecture] highlighted the ways in which systemic inequality of many kinds contributes to sexual violence,” Tang and Ritter continued. Renee Pabst, Director of Health Education, attributes counseling resources such as CARES and events like SAAW as the reason for an increase in assault reports. “We have seen a significant increase in reporting on all interpersonal violence in SAVP [Sexual Assault Violence Protection],” she said. “We think it is for two reasons, more education about resources and we have made the process easier for students to go through if they choose to report.” “Also, students realize they can seek out services and report without going through pressing student conduct charges,” she finished. Sexual Assault Awareness Week is not just about bringing these issues to the forefront of student consciousness for a week; the groups hope the messages conveyed last longer than Tuesday’s tattoo. Making an effort to combat these issues is the second step, and throughout the week CARES collected student donations to support Poughkeepsie Crime Victims’ Assistance Program, which will provide community members the same kind of services CARES and other similar organizations provide for Vassar. As one person’s quilt patch stated, “Together we can heal our campus.” (If you have been affected by sexual assault or other forms of personal violation, resources are available to you. You can reach CARES (peer to peer) or SART (trained faculty and administrators) by calling the CRC at 845-435-7333.)
Tasty bundt cake with a kick in time for Founder’s Day Chocolate Beer Bundt Cake 1 cup pale ale 3/4 cup butter (1/2 sticks) 1/2 cup Dutched cocoa powder 2 cups sugar 2 large eggs 1/2 cup sour cream 2 cups flour 1 Tbs baking powder 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a round Bundt pan. 2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer ale and butter, stirring occasionally until butter has melted. Add cocoa and sugar and whisk until combined. Allow to cool slightly. 3. In a large bowl, whisk sour cream and eggs. Add beer mixture and whisk. Add flour and baking powder and mix just until combined. 4. Pour batter into Bundt pan and put in oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack and top with chocolate frosting. Chocolate Frosting 1/2 cup heavy cream 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat cream until bubbles form at the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate, stirring until melted.
Sarah Begley Columnist
uch has changed since the first Founder’s Day, on April 29, 1866, but Matthew Vassar is still at the forefront of the celebration. Or at least, his profession as a brewer of beer is. As a teenager, Matthew Vassar found his family brewery to be “distasteful” and, in a Dickensian twist, ran away from home to escape his father’s plans for him. He returned after working in country stores for four years to join the family’s business. Soon after, a fire destroyed the brewery and caused the death of his brother, but Matthew Vassar set up a new operation. It eventually grew into
the flourishing business that allowed him to found Vassar College. By the 1860s, the brewery produced 30,000 barrels of ale and porter annually. When prohibition laws were proposed, Matthew Vassar and his supporters fought them, arguing that beer was in fact “the safest beverage known.” The first Founder’s Day in 1866 probably didn’t feature much beer for the fine young ladies in attendance, but the surprise birthday party moved the founder so much that he said with tears in his eyes, “This one event has paid me for every cent I have spent for the college.” Founder’s Day continued to be a celebration until Matthew Vassar’s death in
1868, when Founder’s Day took on a more solemn tone, and included a memorial service and trip to Matthew Vassar’s Grave. Since then, Founder’s Day has gone through many different permutations to lose the less than celebratory tone and eventually become the celebration we know it as today with the arrival of the beer truck on the quad in the latter half of the twentieth century. From then on, students have celebrated the birth of the school’s founder primarily by imbibing his favorite alcohol, although the traditional trip to Matthew Vassar’s grave is still offered. This year, a group of students have organized a competition called Matthew’s New Brew, which invites students,
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faculty, and staff to enter a homemade beerbrewing contest. Submissions will be tasted on Founder’s Day and the winner will receive a cash prize. Check the Facebook group or email matthewsnewbrew(at)gmail.com for more information. But if you lack the expertise to celebrate Founder’s Day with your own brew, you might try baking a birthday cake for Matthew Vassar with beer in the batter. While most beer cakes use Guinness, I decided to try pale ale to keep as close as possible to the Vassar Brewery’s brew. Then, take your cake to Ballantine, light 220 candles—Vassar was born in 1790—and eat up. You’ll need the food in your stomach to survive the beer truck.
April 19 , 2012
MISCELLANY NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
Despite legal setback, College needs concrete relationship abuse policy F
or nearly two years, members of the Vassar Student Association (VSA) in conjunction with the Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention (SAVP) coordinator, as well as various other students and faculty, have worked to develop language for a relationship abuse charge to be added to the Student Handbook. However, these efforts met an impediment when the College’s legal counsel informed the administration that the policy, as written, carried too much potential liability on the part of the College. We at The Miscellany News understand that writing and passing a relationship abuse policy presents numerous challenges. Relationship abuse constitutes a wide range of actions, including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and is remarkably difficult to prosecute. Often evidence can only be obtained through the testimony of both sides, and herein lies the legal issue at hand. However, consistent with our 09.10.10 Staff Editorial supporting the creation of the policy, we urge the administration to exert considerable effort to ensure that the charge is drafted and passed to satisfaction. We feel that relationship abuse is too important a concern to let it fall by the wayside. As it stands, the College can prosecute sexual assault, violence and misconduct under its current regulations. However, there is no accounting for when these actions occur in the context of a relationship. Relationship violence is an extremely sensitive topic; cases often go unreported, and victim-blaming can be rampant. It’s complicated, highly charged and a is matter of great importance to many people on this campus. Unfortunately, it occurs at Vassar with greater frequency than most students know. We applaud the efforts of members of last year’s VSA Council for
working so hard to draft the initial language for the charge, and look forward to the new SAVP coordinator’s future involvement next year. It was an effective, inspiring collaboration between all levels of College governance, one that could only have occurred in response to this serious issue. We hope and urge that this surge of collective energy not go to waste despite very real roadblocks. In addition to the challenges inherent to relationship abuse, the charge lacks precedence; Vassar would be the first institution of higher education in the country to institute such a policy. This of course presents its own set of obstacles, whereby Vassar would essentially be a test case, legally and socially, for a new kind of conversation. If a student were expelled due to relationship abuse, for example, the student might sue the College and win on the basis that a relationship abuse policy lacks a legal basis. This is surely a great challenge that must be treated with care. We believe that the lack of precedent, however, is no reason not to proceed, rather it is in fact a strong impetus to push forward, perhaps even with some risk. If we have this rule on the books, it is likely that our peer institutions will follow suit; relationship abuse is so pervasive in all walks of life that it must be discussed at other schools across the nation. As a former women’s college and as an institution known for inclusivity, Vassar should continue its tradition of leading great social change. We’re poised to enact great change. In that spirit, we are pleased that the College may move forward with adding relationship abuse “tags” to College regulations, and we hope in the future that more may be done. Though we understand that the College could not go forward with the charge as writ-
ten, communication on this issue has been sorely lacking. There was no campus-wide announcement that the charge had stalled; discussion of the issue simply stopped. We understand that members of the administration must proceed with utmost caution and sensitivity in crafting a new charge, but we at the Miscellany believe they must also communicate openly with the student body. At this point in the editorial, we would like to put forward constructive suggestions for the policy to move forward, but we find ourselves lacking the appropriate vocabulary to do so and wishing that the College had been more forthright with the legal obstacles to the policy. It has been proven time and again, in VSA Council, committee discussions and even in the classroom, that relationship abuse is an issue that the Vassar community strongly believes needs to be discussed. The specific language of the charge and its accompanying approval process are negotiable. The need for it is not. Legal difficulties and lack of precedent of course present hurdles, but they are no excuse to not confront relationship violence. We encourage the administration and anyone involved with the drafting of the charge to continue to ensure that the language is as strong and indisputable as possible, and to keep the student body informed and in dialogue. Once we have language with which to name relationship abuse, we believe that the terms of discussion will change, empowering victims and opening up a topic which is typically characterized by concealment and lack of clarity. —The Staff Editorial represents the opinion of at least two thirds of the 23-member Miscellany News Editorial Board.
Crane simplifies evaluation of Obama Jack Mullan
ast week’s Miscellany News featured an opinion piece by Bill Crane, who implored his left-wing cohort to “ignore the call of elections and stay in the streets and organize.” Why bypass our right to vote in favor of engaging in civic activism, you may ask? Crane’s reasoning is as artificial as it is absurd. He claims that to vote would be an exercise in picking one’s poison, as “both candidates for president [Barack Obama and presumably Mitt Romney] will be right-wing, obedient to corporations and toxic to ordinary Americans.” I want to make it immediately clear that I have no problem with activism and I support all means of redressing one’s grievances— even writing a column about them. But, to begin, Crane presents us with a dichotomy that almost certainly does not exist—are mobilizing in the streets and voting in elections really mutually exclusive? I would argue that they are not. Citizens do not need to choose between fighting for a particular cause and voting for a particular candidate. While there is bound to be a certain distance between one’s own ideology and the agendas of those running for office, it would be remiss to abandon a such a central civil right as voting because of dissatisfaction with one’s options. This is, unfortunately, what Crane is exhorting us to do. Crane’s dissatisfaction stems from a remarkable interpretation of recent history, one which portrays President Obama as someone who “has sold out to the point where he is unpalatable to any self-respecting liberal.” Crane reaches this conclusion, however, with the aid of some fatuous claims that confuse the reality of Obama’s presidency. Crane’s basic assessment of President Obama is that he “bailed out the banks and twiddled his thumbs while the initiative slid over to the lunatic right in the form of the Tea Party. The second Republicans asked him to
abandon the public option in the Affordable Care Act, he did so.” This does indeed sound like a spineless, greedy, and ineffectual president. But Crane’s assessment is patently false. The bank bailout was, of course, administered under President Bush’s watch; President Obama did enact a bailout, but did so in order to rescue the auto industry and preserve thousands of manufacturing jobs for the middle class. Meanwhile, Crane’s “Obama sold out on healthcare” trope conveniently neglects the reality that the votes for a public option simply did not exist in Congress at the time. Crane correctly points out that Democrats won a landslide victory in 2008. Due to the Republicans’ eternal filibuster in the Senate, however, President Obama could not conjure up the sufficient 60-vote sum to pass legislation, as Senate Democrats waxed fickle and Republicans consolidated in opposition. While the absence of the public option is significant, the Affordable Care Act still represents a landmark reform that expands access to healthcare to millions of citizens while tackling the rising costs of insurance premiums. This accomplishment is nothing to mourn. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act, along with much of the progress that Obama has achieved in the last four years, would be repealed and lost if Mitt Romney were to be elected president. To suggest that a vote for Obama is in essence a vote for Romney is intellectually lazy and profoundly disingenuous. Has the columnist passed on following the GOP primaries? The positions and policies that Romney has adopted stand in stark contrast to the record and rhetoric of President Obama. Let’s just take a look at economic policy. The proposal coming from Romney and the Republicans is to cut, cut, cut: regulations, taxes, and vital social welfare programs would be severely slashed. President Obama opts for a much different path. While Crane denounces Obama for insin-
cerely offering “vaguely populist pronouncements from time to time,” it would behoove him to examine the president’s proposed 2013 budget, where one can get a more defined sense of Obama’s economic vision. In it, the president maintains strong support for the social safety net, invests in education, energy and infrastructure, and introduces new taxes not only on the wealthiest earners, but also on big banks—yes, a tax on the banks, Mr. Crane— that would raise $60 billion over the next decade. In fact, the plan specifically states that “many of the largest financial firms contributed to the financial crisis through the risks they took…the budget asks these firms to compensate Americans for benefits they received from these actions and to recoup costs.” If this populism is too vague for Mr. Crane, I’m not sure what it is that he is seeking. This is but a small sample of the many disparities in orientation and outlook between an Obama presidency and a Romney presidency. To be fair, I will grant Mr. Crane the points that President Obama’s record on immigration, civil liberties, and foreign policy are certainly contestable from the perspective of a hard-nosed liberal. It is well worth our time to debate over these areas where the president has essentially pursued the same policies as his predecessor. But to conflate the entire agendas and priorities of the two current candidates is not just erroneous; it’s counterproductive. Crane’s ideological purity is admirable in some respects, but it may be blinding him to the fact that President Obama has taken our country in a direction that is far more leftleaning than the path that Mitt Romney is likely to follow. Abdicating one’s responsibility to vote in November only increases the possibility of our nation stumbling into a radicalized right-wing course for the next four years. So I hope I’ll see you at the polls. —Jack Mullan ’14 is a Political Science major.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Dream Act lets students realize goals Tim McCormick Guest ColumNist
his past Thursday, 15 undocumented youth and their supporters triumphantly marched into Vassar College and held a rally at ACDC, courtesy of the college’s chapter of MEChA. They were on their way from New York City to the state capital in Albany, in an attempt to get more popular support for the New York Dream Act, one of the most important pieces of legislation this year regarding immigrant rights in New York. The bill would give undocumented students access to Tuition Assistance Programs (TAP) and give them the opportunity to forge a better life for themselves and their children by allowing themselves to get a quality education. Many undocumented youth have been living in the country since they were very young, frequently speak English, and are assimilated into American culture; many times it’s the only culture they know. However, due to their status as undocumented immigrants, it is only through the passage of bills like the Dream Act that such students will be able to fully realize the goals that they set for themselves. In addition to allowing long-time residents of the U.S. to be able to follow their dreams, as the law’s title alludes to, the economic benefits yielded by letting more residents of our country become teachers, business owners, and the like should also be clear. The money invested in the TAP programs through the Dream Act would not vanish; it would instead be converted into great pros-
“The Dream Act would give undocumented students access to Tuition Assistance Programs and help them forge a better life for themselves and their children.” perity for New York and the U.S. in general. And the money which is being invested isn’t that much at all. TAP funding would increase by about 2% through the Dream Act. Given that it would mean better jobs and higher tax collection from the recipients of the program (who do indeed pay state income taxes), the Dream Act would ultimately not be much of a cost to the average New Yorker. Two years ago, the Federal DREAM Act, which would have given citizenship to undocumented youth who went to school or enlisted in the army, met with failure against a Republican filibuster in the Senate. What would have been a tremendously effective path to citizenship for a number of undocumented youth was barred from a proper vote and potential passage. Instead, increasingly punitive laws were passed in a number of states, forcing undocumented students to face deportation rather than give them the ability to act to their fullest potential. A number of states have said ‘no’ this trend, including California and Illinois, and passed Dream Acts of their own. New York stands to be the next player in a domino affect of acceptance and a stand against a wildly out-of-touch federal policy. The Dreamers who came through Vassar are not just a source of inspiration, but a call to action. We are all residents of New York, and thus have the right to let our Senators and Representatives know that this bill needs to be passed. By standing in solidarity with their bravery to stand in Albany, we can also hope to be enactors of great social change. —Tim McCormick ’12 is a political science major. He is the President of Democracy Matters.
April 19 , 2012
Americas reach a turning point in the War on Drugs Lane Kisonak
o often have we occupied ourselves with the blunders and blowback of the United States’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade (and had our attention diverted by a more recent spate of GOP-declaimed wars including those on freedom, Christmas, Halloween, and food) that America’s longest war at home, forty years strong, has been given scant opportunity to become as decisive an issue as it should be. I’m talking about the War on Drugs, which has in the past several months finally begun attracting the scrutiny of North and South America’s political leadership and come under increasingly wide and deep debate. While there have been hopeful signs pointing to a future of drug legalization, the words and deeds of America’s politicians reveal an intention to block such action throughout the continent that is both continuous and surprising, if only for the federal government’s striking persistence in the face of failure. Most recently at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia this past weekend, President Barack Obama dealt a knock-out blow to the idea; while he called the conversation “legitimate”, his final line showed no actual movement: “I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer.”Obama argued that the best available way of countering drug cartels is to reinforce societies with “strong economics, rules of law, and a law enforcement structure that is sound” while reducing demand in countries with strong customer bases.Of course, this has been the American strategy for the past forty years, and what can we show for it except billions of dollars wasted, thousands of lives lost, and millions imprisoned?
Otto Pérez Molina, President of Guatemala, a country wracked by the destructive activities of drug cartels, has begun to publicly ask the same question. Citing higher levels of drug consumption, production, and trafficking in his country despite twenty years of sustained efforts to crack down on suppliers, Molina has proposed a worldwide system to regulate consumption and production of drugs in order to stop drug abuse and cartel violence from spinning further out of control.The presidents of countries throughout Latin America have jumped onboard Molina’s push for consideration of legalization using similar reasoning, their security apparatuses strained by southward movement of cartels due to the Mexican crackdown started by Felipe Calderón when he took office in 2006, a campaign which has killed over 40,000 people. Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, has provided crucial backing for Molina in his call for legalization, and he certainly has good reason to begin creating a regulated market free of cartels. Santos spent much of his earlier career fighting cartels and, despite his best efforts, cocaine production and export have barely budged. That fully 6% of GNP has been poured into internal security has made little difference in outcomes. Encouragingly, high-level disillusionment with the War on Drugs has begun winding its way northward, with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper telling journalists in Cartagena last Sunday that “the current approach is not working.” While Harper did not expressly push for legalization,his words came as a surprise, and they should be judged as a positive change in direction on the non-Latin American side. On the other hand, the U.S.’ unflappable resistance to legalization in any form has
emerged as part of a “growing political divide” between Washington, D.C. and the rest of the continent. According to an interview with Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the current momentum toward legalization derives from a report released in 2009 legitimized with the support of three former Latin American presidents of diverse political backgrounds that supported the gradual legalization of drugs.Later in the interview, Nadelmann expresses what has become increasingly understood in public discussion about the War on Drugs in the U.S.—that it is built on foundations of racial and economic discrimination. Such a strong assertion deserves strong evidence, but that’s not hard to find here. Politifact, using figures from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in conjunction with U.S. Census data, found that 70% of drug users are white, 14% are black, and 13% are Hispanic. Meanwhile the population of state prison inmates serving time for drug violations, according to numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, is 29% white, 40% black, 20% Hispanic.These disparities make life in a harsh economic landscape even more difficult for minorities when the damaging effects of incarceration on inmates’ employment prospects are taken into account, according to a 2008 study by University of California, Berkeley researchers.For people behind bars and back on the streets after being released, the War on Drugs (though the Obama administration officially ceased referring to it as such in May 2009)has become, whether or not designed with such goals in mind, one of America’s most sinister forms of institutionalized discrimination since the end of Jim Crow.
Indeed, in our era of mass imprisonment, the War on Drugs has become a new form of economic segregation. For every small forward step the Obama administration has taken in the past couple of years (for example, signing a bill that reduced the 100-to-1 powder and crack cocaine sentencing disparity in 2010 to a still bewildering 18-to1 disparity), it has taken equal steps backward. The Obama administration’s decision to turn up the dial on raids on medical marijuana dispensaries over the past year—despite Obama’s
“The U.S.’ unflappable resistance to legalization in any form has emerged as part of a growing political divide between Washington, D.C. and the rest of the continent.” campaign promises to leave such matters to the state and respect the scientific evidence supporting the positive effects of medical marijuana—comes quickest to mind. Now that a more vigorous interrogation of the economic and societal utility of the War on Drugs is finally in full swing in what seems like all places but the U.S. Department of Justice, one wonders what it will take to get the federal government to change its mind on this See DRUGS on page 11
Considering new student spaces in old bookstore Sam Loewen
ith the decision made last fall to move the campus bookstore to Raymond Avenue, Vassar is faced with an interesting conundrum: What to do with the empty space in the bookstore’s current location. It has been decided that this will become a ‘student space’, but what that term means has yet to be determined. For the former bookstore to be a true student space, it needs to address those student amenities the campus lacks. I am advocating for a place of relaxation and good quality food: a calm lounge area that also incorporates a permanent kitchen space for food-oriented groups on campus and in the community to sell and promote their products. This space could become something very special and historic for the college. It could give student endeavors such as the Pumpkin Patch—a group seeking to bring local produce to the community—a place to operate and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables. Slow Food Vassar’s Raw Milk Co-op and Baking Co-op could also benefit from a refrigerator and permanent location to serve as a place for costumers to pick up their orders. Orgs could even alternate kitchen days with vendors like Tree City or ‘Tasty Tuesday’ participants to create diverse, collaborative food options. At the moment, Vassar lacks spaces where students can gather, relax, and enjoy a meal comfortably. The current public spaces include the Retreat, UpC, Matthew’s Bean, and the Kiosk. Though these spaces are utilized and appreciated, they are not satisfactory. The Retreat is poorly designed and overcrowded. The flow of traffic is erratic and congested, causing slow service and general frustration. There are not enough seats to accommodate students during peak hours and the roar of conversations is often not conducive to studying or holding meetings. And, though most enjoy the food, students will likely appreciate another option aside from buffalo chicken wraps and pesto chicken ciabattas. UpC, though less used than the Retreat, is the closest thing the college has to the sort of relaxed and comfortable student space I am proposing.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
It has movable furniture, tables for studying, and lattes made to order. However, though it is spacious and never as crowded as the Retreat, UpC is only open in the evening and not centrally located. It is inaccessible and inconvenient, with similar food and drink offerings to the Retreat and ACDC. The Bean and the Kiosk do not contribute much more to campus life. The Bean, similar to UpC, is not accessible most of the day, holding odd late night hours. Also, its harsh yellow color scheme, flickering fluorescent lights, and out-of-the-way basement location do not create the most inviting atmosphere. The Kiosk, on the other hand, has no atmosphere. An alternative to Retreat coffee, the Starbucks-serving booth features long lines, slow service, and no place to sit. These current locations on campus do not fully satisfy the campus’ needs, but an overhaul of the bookstore might help to fill in the gaps. The existing architecture will work beautifully for this proposal. The bookstore is large enough to house many students, but is segmented, which will help create differentiated areas. Having small pockets of couches, chairs, and tables will help quell noise and direct traffic, two major problems in the Retreat. Additionally, the bookstore already has the luxury of being centrally located and below ground, out of the way of the busy College Center. This location offers both convenience and tranquility. A student-operated kitchen could also create the possibility for programs in which students could try their hand at running small-scale businesses. Students could have the opportunity, for example, to sell baked goods or run a sandwich café a few times a week. Not only would these students gain important business skills, but the student body would now have other food options on campus, ones that are not Aramark or Starbucks. Although this idea may run into issues of food vendor licenses and certifications, it is merely one example of the exciting opportunities this new space could offer. Whether it becomes a lounge, a café, or something entirely different, I hope that the resulting space truly reflects the wants and needs of the student body. —Sam Loewen ’13 is a geography major. She is Vice President of Slow Food Vassar.
April 19 , 2012
BigBelly trash cans do Penalistic not foster sustainability stance of U.S. should drop Hannah Blume Senior Editor
hat ever happened to a good ole’ fashioned trash bin? Because, apparently, they’re not good enough for Vassar. Beneath the sweeping leafy canopy in the heart of Vassar’s perfectly symmetrical and almost impossibly beautiful residential quad now sits the SUV, nay, Hummer, of all trashcans—the BigBelly Solar Powered Trash Compactor. You can’t miss it. This five by two hunk of metal with its blinking green light looks like Wall-E’s fat and slightly awkward cousin— Vassar’s champion of “sustainability.” Dean of the College Chris Roellke brought the bins to the college after a trip to Brown University. “The tour guide made a pretty big deal out of them, and I was intrigued,” he told the Miscellany News last week, adding, “it’s nice to think that five cans might actually stimulate more conversations about sustainability and the environment on campus.” It seems unlikely to me that a luxury consumer good would promote any meaningful discussion about sustainability. It seems, rather, to create the dangerous myth that we can continue to consume at the levels that we do at Vassar, as long as we sustain it. The big purchase of the bins—which were placed in front of Main Building, on the paths in front of the Maria Mitchell Observatory, by the Terrace Apartments footbridge, in the quad and in front of the All Campus Dining Center—set the college back $28,000—5,600 apiece. Endowed by the Asset Preservation Fund, which is “designated for campus renewal and non-recurring capital,” the purchase came with the promise that the bins would save Vassar money in the long haul, eliminating collection rounds. But the logic that BigBelly bins will save Vassar $28,000 before they break down and need to be replaced after a couple of harsh Poughkeepsie winters seems obviously flawed. It raises questions of why administrators were so eager to throw money at the
project that funded a needless consumer good. Ultimately, it points to the fact the college has no problem spending tens of thousands of dollars on a feel-good façade of sustainability. As students, we need to ask shrewd questions about the brand of “sustainability” that our college embraces.
This five-by-two hunk of metal with its blinking green light looks like Wall-E’s fat and slightly awkward cousin — Vassar’s champion of ‘sustainability.’”
Where were these solar panels made? How far were they shipped? Under what working conditions were they produced? Is it ethical to spend money on superfluous goods when we are situated in a struggling community with little access to healthy, fresh food, no public drug rehabilitation center and slashed social services budgets? How much are we consuming? How might this myth of sustainability justify our over-consumption and our complicity in violence in the world that results? Should we, as an institution, support a watery brand of environmentalism that not only makes no attempt to prevent the ecological destruction of communities around the world at its source—our excessive consumption, as the very name “BigBelly” endorses—, but actually justifies it? But, above all, do we really need a $5,600 mechanism to smush our trash? —Hannah Blume ’13 is a sociology major. She is Senior Editor for The Miscellany News.
DRUGS continued from page 10 profoundly society-altering issue. Right-leaning moderates and hardliner conservatives in particular should reconsider their penalistic attitudes toward drug consumption. For one thing, these stances conflict directly with the libertarian premium on personal freedom. For another, they completely undermine goals to lower budgetary deficits. Prison costs are “blowing a hole in state budgets” and soaking up 7% of state funds, according to a 2008 Pew Center report. On a national basis it cost nearly $24,000 per year to imprison someone in 2005, and it’s a fair bet that costs have increased since then.Finally, how do conservatives, attached as they are to the mantra “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” feel about taking jobs away from non-violent drug users, up to two-thirds of whom were, according to the aforementioned UC Berkeley study, employed at the time of their arrest? A hemisphere-wide confrontation over the War on Drugs, especially after the pivotal Summit of the Americas, seems all but inevitable at this point, and it looks like the United States might be surrounded on the north and south by governments looking to extricate themselves from this enormous quagmire. The questions are when this faceoff will come, and what side the Obama administration will take, given its conflicting impulses to defer either to scientific evidence or to past patterns of reinforcement. Hopefully, if given the opportunity to negotiate this issue during a second term, Obama will consider a responsible withdrawal from the War on Drugs, in coalition with a multitude of Western leaders who wish to mitigate the harmful aspects of drugs as well as the heavy-handed, futile, destructive efforts to vanquish them. —Lane Kisonak ’13 is a political science major. He is Opinions Editor for The Miscellany News.
Who is your celebrity VSA President?
Ethan Madore ’12
Mookie Thottham ’12
Matt Foster ’14
“The mom from Modern Family.”
Kevin Vehar ’14 and Mia Chatterjee ’14
Oliver Newman ’12
Scott Brekne ’15 —Juliana Halpert, Photography Editor Matt Ortilé, Contributing Editor
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
April 19 , 2012
Society must rethink perception of consent criterion Carson Robinson Columnist
ape is unwanted sex. People get all caught up over whether the unwantedness is communicated or not. It shouldn’t matter. If it’s unwanted, it shouldn’t be happening. Whether or not the unwantedness is communicated only matters when an alleged perpetrator of rape comes under the scrutiny of the law. That rarely happens. Nevertheless, scientists, anti-rape organizations, and the general public have adopted the legalistic definition of rape, so the classification of an incident as rape has depended crucially on the information exchanged between the people involved. Some scientists have improved matters a bit by focusing on the methods used to obtain sex. But in some cases all a man has to do is walk into a room and she knows there’s no point in refusing. Consider the FAQ page about the definition of rape on the website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Under the question, “I thought ‘no,’ but didn’t say it. Is it still rape?,” RAINN says: “It depends on the circumstances. If you didn’t say no because you were legitimately scared for your life or safety, then it may be rape.” Just maybe. If you think the person you’re having sex with might kill you if you tell them to stop, then…hmmm, it might be rape. The consent criterion is geared toward determining whether someone is guilty of rape. But the impression that I have is that people tend to presuppose the man’s innocence, and then evaluate the woman’s right to even call this innocence into question. Of course, this doesn’t happen very often, because the accusation is so rarely voiced in the first place. Indeed, sometimes a third party realizes that what happened was rape, and they have to point this out (gently) to the victim. Women internalize the idea that accusing somebody of rape is something that they may not be entitled to do. Where did they get this idea? Well, we are all taught that rape is an abominably horrific crime. We aren’t told why, but it is clear that (1) it probably won’t happen to you, (2) the men that we know and admire wouldn’t ever
do it, (3) you yourself would never do it, and (4) you shouldn’t accuse somebody of it unless it is absolutely warranted. Oh, and of course, we know that rape victims have eating disorders, drug addictions, and anxiety disorders, so they’re crazy and probably not very much fun to hang out with. No wonder people don’t want to call it rape. So call it what it is: Unwanted sex. Unwanted sex that was imposed upon you. If somebody asks, “you mean rape?,” well, they said it first. You’re just saying it like it is. Look into your sexual history and you might be surprised to find one or more instances of being subjected to unwanted sex, or that you have subjected somebody else to (potentially) unwanted sex. Knowing that rape is rampant in our society has not helped people see how rape enters their own lives. The “one in four” statistic comes from a 1987 study by Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski. They administered the Sexual Experiences Survey to a nationally representative sample of 6,159 American college students at 32 different schools. Students were asked to indicate which experiences they had had since the age of 14. For sexual aggression, the survey items referred to specific actions (fondling, penetration) obtained through specific means (verbal pressure, threat of harm, physical force). The study found that 27.5 percent of female college students had been legally raped (including attempted intercourse) since the age of 14. For completed intercourse, the rate was 15.4 percent. Since the sample was nationally representative, there is no confidence interval (i.e., “somewhere between X and Y percent”) around this prevalence rate. So the “one in four” statistic is true, if you just count acts where physical force, threat of harm, or drugs and alcohol were used. But this does not include all of the women who had been forced to have unwanted sex. A full quarter of women acknowledged having been subjected to completed intercourse (not just attempts) through a man’s relentless verbal pressure. More recently, the Sexual Experiences Survey has been updated to include questions about sex obtained through lying, displaying
anger, or inducing guilt. The prevalence rates for these types of incidents are highly unstable; they can literally double depending on the format of the questionnaire (Abbey, Parkhill, & Koss, 2005). Though it has been instrumental in demonstrating the true scope of rape, the “one in four” statistic has not helped to destabilize the rape/ nonrape dichotomy. The scientists themselves are acutely aware of what a grey area this is, but many of the people who disseminate these findings (without any citations) preserve the categorical distinction between the 1/4 of women who are raped and the 3/4 who are not. This enables us to otherize victims and perpetrators—I’m not one of those one-in-four. But remember that survey respondents never said anything about their experiences with “rape” or “sexual assault.” These women may themselves look at the “one in four” statistic and not even realize that they are literally one of those women. But they did recognize that they had had unwanted sex. The uncertainty regarding the proportion of men who commit rape is profoundly frustrating for me. Without a corresponding “one in X” statistic for perpetrators, the “one in four” statistic might as well refer to people who are affected by an environmental hazard; one in four women wind up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No wonder people so often blame them for what happens. According to Koss et al.’s data, about eight percent of college men have committed completed or attempted rape. And an additional eight percent have obtained completed intercourse through verbal pressure. So it appears that at least 16 percent of college men have knowingly imposed unwanted sex upon a partner. The rates go up if men fill out the questionnaire in private, after drinking a beer and reading erotica (Rubenzahl & Corcoran, 1998), or, again, by simply changing the format of the questionnaire. For example, Abbey, Parkhill, and Koss (2005) found that a fifth of sexually active college men acknowledged obtaining sex using guilt or displays of anger. But still, these are just the men who acknowledge that the sex they were imposing
was unwanted. Lots of men rape women and think that she liked it. Some victims aren’t really sure whether they liked it. Sometimes we’re really not sure what to think about something that our sex partner does during an encounter. Well, whether she liked it is irrelevant. It’s about whether the sex was wanted or not. Unwantedness is a much needed criterion today, given the extremely high levels of pornography consumption among males. Normalizing female-averse practices they see in pornography, these males, when they have an opportunity to have sex, may start doing things that their sex partners find surprising, odd, and unpleasant. This means that within a sexual encounter that is wanted, there could be a fairly large amount of sexual activity that was unwanted and perhaps even aversive. The consent criterion, as it is traditionally used, fails to account for within-sex transitions between wanted/enjoyable and unwanted/aversive. You didn’t refuse, so you must have been willing; cognitive dissonance may lead you to conclude that you are okay with being treated like a sex object. Or you may simply feel dirty and embarrassed for giving in to sex acts that you find aberrant. This is the cost of a consentbased definition of rape. A consent-based definition of rape is a product of a culture where sex is liable to unfold when it was not wanted—that is, a rape culture. The consent criterion creates the need for “stop” signals for unwanted sex. This is unacceptable and impracticable given the norms and scripts of sex, which suppress open communication during the encounter. Not to mention the socially accepted seductive practice of token (feigned) resistance, one which perpetrators of sexual assault have been documented to use as an excuse for forcing sex acts upon women. The unwantedness criterion, by contrast, creates the need for “go” signals for wanted sex, which has the added bonus of making sex more engaging. Instead of punishing reserved people for not voicing their reluctance, our value system should reinforce open communication about sex: Do you want it? —Carson Robinson ’12 is a psychology major.
The Miscellany Crossword by Jack Mullan ACROSS
1. Mimics 5. Musical syllables 8. Punjabi believer 12. Committee leader 14. Male deer 15. Button on a computer 16. Swiftness 17. Other, in Oaxaca 18. When doubled, Road Runner’s catchphrase 19. Pittsburgh product
20. Cold War enemy
released the albums
70. Place for a pad
21. Batman actor Chris-
“19” and “21”
71. I.R.S. ID
40. Campus-wide pro-
22. Childish retort
cess taking place this
24. With 30-down,
where the buck stops
43. Bone: prefix
44. Assn. in which one
26. Choose (for)
can playsoccer, perhaps
29. Iconic Cuban revo-
45. Med. school subj.
46. Exclamations from
some Monty Python
31. A 30-across, perhaps
34. Pb, to chemists
47. Cooking spray
36. Decor finish?
38.British artist who
49. ___ and outs
Answers to last week’s puzzle
51. B’way sellout sign 52. Online “talks” locale 53. Genesis garden 54. Jazz jargon 57. Subject line of a memo 59. Come together 64. Love, overseas 65. Opposite direction of this clue 66. Place of campus justice 67. Long-running Broadway show 68. Not much 69. Egyptian peninsula
1. German cries 2. Cool, slangily 3. Comfort 4. Web page 5. Chubby 6. Airport data: Abbr. 7. Deprive of food 8. Popular 48-down footwear 9. Furniture giant 10. Fall (over) 11. Oversell 13. Thing of the past 14. Dorm organizing crew 23. Sloppy ‘do 25. FGs or RBIs 26. Social theorist Mancur
35. Bite the dust
27. Coke competitor
37. West Coast brew,
53. W.W. II Gen. Rom-
58. Heads, in slang
28. Fruity desserts
60. Film ___
30. See 24-across
39. 24 horas
54. Actor who played
61. Suffix for a collec-
31. Lowly workers
32. Pertaining to an arm
42. Ice Cream holder
55. Model spouse of
62. Part of LGBTQ
48. Nike rival
63. Make a long story
33. Panini component
56. Action taken during
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
HUMOR & SATIRE
April 19 , 2012
Graduating senior fortells Mr. Bouchard’s guide to his own grim, bleak future succeeding at room draw Tom Renjilian Columnist
’ll let you all in on a little secret. Ever since I was just a young boy, I’ve been blessed with— nay, cursed with!—a terrible ability: the power to foretell the future from vague omens only I’m able to interpret. For example, when I was nine years old, I observed that I consistently developed an erection each time I watched the animated television program “Dragon Ball Z.” From this observation alone, I was able to predict that some day far in the future I would become a homosexual and also a little bit of a weirdo. More recently, when I realized that in one month I would graduate from Vassar with a degree in English, an elaborate outline of the next year of my life suddenly appeared to me in the form of a collection of hastily-written diary excerpts. I figured why not allow all of you to benefit from my cursed affliction. Behold your future, future alumni. But beware—it’s bleak. May 19: AH! Graduation is just a day away! I feel so free but also a little bit sad about never seeing my friends again except for on Facebook. I’m still not sure what my plans are because I’m waiting to hear back from some jobs that I responsibly applied to weeks ago. SO DON’T ASK ME AGAIN GREAT UNCLE IRVING. DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING TODAY? May 20: I’M CRYING TOO MUCH TO WRITE IN A FUCKING DIARY. GO AWAY. May 21: Wow. I’m having really complex thoughts about the nature of temporality. Four years ago graduation seemed like a whole four years away, but now it seems like it was just yesterday. Does that disrupt linear notions of time or what??? Glad my liberal arts education is still enlightening my perception of life! Also, I got rejected from six jobs today. June 10: Back home trying to figure out my life! My friend Carrot (yeah, she changed it after declaring a Geography major) is planning to move to the forest and live in a commune built from sticks, rocks, and the decomposing bodies of capitalists. She invited me to live with her, but I think I want to be somewhere a little more urban, somewhere like Brooklyn, so I can help stop gentrification and stuff. June 11: Well, the commune option is out. Car-
rot got a job convincing indigenous peoples to donate their rainforests to McDonald’s. She’s making like 50K a year. I knew I should have taken a foreign language!
September 1: WOW! September already? This summer sure flew by! It’s crazy that I’m still living in my childhood bedroom in Scranton. HaHaHaHa. NO MOM I’M NOT STILL DRINKING YOUR FRANZIA SHUT UP IT’S ONLY FOUR A.M. GET OUT OF MY ROOM. Did I write that? Oh. I meant to say it. October 12: Wait, have you guys heard of this game called FarmVille? I’m really into it lately. It’s very fulfilling. Still no job offers, but my parents said they’d pay me five dollars an hour to stand in the front yard and growl at the neighbors. Things are looking up! November 18: The police said they found me at the middle school bus stop down the street from my house. Allegedly I was screaming, “I’M NOT LIVING WITH MY PARENTS, I’M QUEERING THE NUCLEAR FAMILY!” They said the children were crying. I don’t remember. December 25: For Christmas my mom bought herself a crew neck sweatshirt that says, “I Love My Stay At Home Tom.” She says she’s glad I’ll be by her side throughout her old age. February 14: You know, it’s actually great to have so much free time. In honor of Valentine’s Day I started writing my young adult novel for gay youth titled, “It Will Get a Little Better for Four Years but Then Unimaginably Worse.” It’s pretty much autobiographical except I took creative liberties and turned every guy I’ve ever been with into a Vampire Sex God, and no one ever describes the protagonist as “grossly emaciated” or “hard to have a conversation with.” May 26, 2013- Wow! Sure has been a while. I made great progress on my YA Novel—it’s 666 pages of blood, sex, and loneliness! I even got it published! I mean if you define “publishing” as printing 200 copies at the public library, binding them with strands of hair, and distributing the manuscripts at local elementary schools during lunchtime. HEY P.S.! I’m writing this from prison! It turns out my book was considered “pornography” by some crazy conservative definition and breaking into an elementary school is considered “a crime.” Whatever.
Humor & Satire Editor
ell hath no fury like a rising sophomore realizing he/she’s going to be in a double next year.” (Source: The Bible, probably.) That’s right, my little droogies—unless you live in Strong, worship Satan, or bribed the heck out of Chris Roellke, it’s time for the absolute worst experience of your lives. If our nightmares and phobias consciously went out of their way to take the form of a Vassarspecific event, they would be room draw. The look on students’ faces when they realize that they were one spot away from having a single is similar to the face of a de-handed Luke Skywalker screaming “That’s not true! That’s impossible!” in The Empire Strikes Back . But even though there is literally no way to ensure a comfortable living situation for yourself next year short of claiming to be Cappy’s long-lost daughter/son/pet/carpet, my guide to room draw may provide your fractured morale with the Krazy Glue of hope. 1. When in doubt, deceive your friends.
Our Western-centric society constructs a negative connotation of the term “rat fink,” but did you know that some society…somewhere… probably doesn’t? It’s important to believe that, because nothing will improve your Room Draw experience more than a Richard III-esque manipulation of your closest peers. Convince your friend group to all try to room near each other next semester, pragmatically suggesting a lessappealing-but-easier-to-obtain hallway in your dorm (pro-tip: look for hallways smeared with donkey blood and lewd Cappy graffiti). At the last second, completely screw them over and grab a much nicer single four floors away. As I always say, mind games are just games for people with minds—let the mindless enjoy their Scrabble and baseball while we use the news of their family crises to convince them to transfer to a college closer to home. 2. Be creative with your definition of “room.”
If my humanities-focused liberal arts education has taught me anything, it’s that I will be rewarded for questioning everything and extrapolating huge amounts of detail from very little information. So, I ask you, what does a “room” mean? According to my freshman writing seminar’s discussion of Virginia Woolf, it could be any place that we feel comfortable enough to produce work or confront our pri-
vate-most thoughts. And if that’s the case, or at least the case you’re willing to argue, what should stop you from drawing into the 24-Hour Room? Or UpC? Or the unimaginably terrifying basement of Chicago Hall? If I feel most comfortable shoveling Chicken Korma into my craw at Kismat, why should I be expected to live in a Jewett double instead of underneath the lunch buffet? Why is there a Wellness option for students who are uncomfortable with smoking/drinking, but no option for students who really hate walking all the way from Cushing to Skinner? I’m sure your House Advisor will be most interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. 3. The squeaky wheel gets the single.
Statistics show that time and time again, the loudest, angriest, and downright most aggressive students at room draw will receive the best room that they can possibly receive… that is, with no control over their mediocre room draw numbers. I mean, why else would otherwise level-headed kids decide to become as belligerent as heroin-injected silverback gorillas every time room draw rolls around? There has to be a method to their madness. Push smaller kids out of the way, yell at innocent strangers standing slightly in front of the floor plans hanging on the wall, severely beat close friends who took the room you wanted even though they had no idea it was what you wanted and even if they did they still should look out for their own self-interest you jerk, and generally be a horrible, spiteful person. That’ll make House Team’s job a heck of a lot easier. And if nothing else, it will burst the bubble of security and optimism too many freshmen enjoy pre-meeting-you. 4. Embrace the Dark Arts.
Eternal salvation and morality codes are fine for second-semester seniors, but we undergrads have to live one day at a time. Crack open the nearest copy of “Zarkkoun’s Underworldly Doom Manual and Cook Book” and find some horrible snake god who can guarantee you a single in exchange for humanity’s collective soul. You can enjoy the view of the ever-widening lake of fire and orphan tears in Noyes Circle from the melting window of your swanky new bachelor pad! 5. Find a back-up roommate.
Weekly Calendar: 04/19-04/25 by Alanna Okun, Humor & Satire Editor Thursday, 4/19 3 p.m. Tea. With one month to go: remaining items on this year’s Vassar bucket list. Rose Parlor. 8 p.m. “Into the Woods.” “You know, the woods, the ones by Sunset Lake where they keep all the drugs and the wolf people. We should go there sometime.” “No.” Shiva. 9 p.m. “Six Degrees of Separation.” Cappy -> Dean Roellke -> Dante (from the Inferno) -> Encyclopedia Brown -> Batman -> your freshmen year roommate. BOOM. Sanders Auditorium.
Friday, 4/20 3 p.m. Tea. If you’re a freshman: Have sex in the Library/ fourth floor of Rocky/ Sunset Lake/ really anywhere because all you crave is the touch and validation of another’s flesh. Rose Parlor.
Saturday, 4/21 12 p.m. I Won’t Grow Up Day. Breakfast for dinner! Dessert for breakfast! Handing in a “corrupted” file instead of your thesis when in reality it was due the day after Dollar
Beer Night and you just couldn’t be fucked to write a conclusion! College Center.
year. Hide your tears when she openly laughs at the way you pronounce “mon petit croissant.” Rose Parlor.
7 p.m. Acapalooza. More like acapalosers, amirite? Just kidding I am one of them. And actually so I guess I’m not kidding. Taylor Auditorium.
Sunday, 4/22 12 p.m. Joss Beach Bash. No homo, but this is the best event any dorm puts on all year. Joss Beach. 4 p.m. Jewett Art Festival. Jealous much, Jewett? Jewett. 10 p.m. Challah for Hunger French Toast. I’ve never fully understood why they don’t just cut out the middle man and send the challah to the hungry people in the first place. But I guess that’s why they didn’t elect me president last year. Aula.
Monday, 4/23 3 p.m. Tea. If you’re a sophomore: Confess your undying love to the senior who’s been TAing your French class all
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
3 p.m. Tea. If you’re a junior: Sneak into BBBBQ without detection. Sip on watery drinks and make conversation with the people you came with until a Poughkeepsie local spills a tepid Bud Light down the back of your jorts. Rose Parlor. 5 p.m. Panel/ Discussion: The Freshman Writing Seminar. Topics include “Periods: 14 Pt. Font and You’re Golden” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Complete and Utter Bullshitting.” Rocky 200.
Wednesday, 4/25 3 p.m. Tea. If you’re a senior: see below. Rose Parlor. 3:30 p.m. Convocation. JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST CONVOCATION HAS NO PLACE ON THIS CALENDAR JESUS BALLS THEY ALREADY SENT OUT THE SENIOR WEEK SCHEDULE I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT’S A THESIS WHAT’S A COVER LETTER WHAT’S ADULTHOOD SHUT IT DOWN. Chapel.
April 19 , 2012
How to deal ‘Into the Woods’ derails fairy tale tropes with the W Youtube DJ Matthew Hauptman assistaNt aRts editoR
Erik Lorenzsonn seNioR editoR
we’re being very tongue-in-cheek about theater.” Sondheim’s musicals are notoriously difficult to perform, not least because of their complex scores. David Piwarski ’14 is the music director for the production and suggested that Sondheim’s songs are often recognizable by their wordiness, but also by their elegant lyricism. “His songs have a way of coming back to where they began. And when things [in the show] get more serious, so does the music,” Piwarski explained. Accompanist Jane Cardona ’15 agreed, and added that Sondheim’s music is known for its dissonance, which characterizes an unstable harmony, chord, or interval. “Even though his music can be really difficult because of that dissonance, it never loses its lyrical beauty,” Cardona explained. Sondheim’s songs, moreover, often feel like monologues. Characters in his musicals tend to reveal their innermost feelings and thoughts in their solos. Similarly, duets in Sondheim’s musicals often resemble the dialogue that one might find in a play. His musicals are also unusual because of the ways in which his plots unfold. For example, as aforementioned, while most musicals reach their resolution in the second and final act, Into the Woods has its “happily ever after” ending at the end of Act I, and then everything goes awry in Act II. There certainly is a dark side to Sondheim’s musicals, but Shoemaker is certain that audiences will find great pleasure in Sondheim’s lyrical music and Lapine’s witty dialogue. This is the last show that Shoemaker will be directing at Vassar before graduating, and it’s a show that has resonated with her for a number of reasons, not the least of which includes its portrayal of uncertain futures. But as she ultimately pointed out, “I hope that the audience takes away a sense of hope after seeing this show.”
Music studio finds home on Main Street Adam Buchsbaum aRts editoR
bus ride and brisk walk away from Vassar on 320 Main Street is a music studio, Upstate Music Alliance. A reception area with a couch greets the visitor. Down the hallway nearby are a few doors that lead into the rooms for making music. In one room is the MPC2000 drum machine, coupled with the mixing board for adjusting the music levels. Two bright computer monitors sit atop the board with music software filling their screens. Upstate Music Alliance is composed of three people: Slimm Gemm, Tim McQueen and Drawzilla. Music producer Drawzilla, a.k.a. Zilla, was first a cook. He started cooking at age 12 and loved it, but then became dissatisfied with his job as a cook. “I got tired of people telling me what to do,” Drawzilla explained. Meanwhile he was exploring music producing on the side, using a small studio he made in his apartment. “I just always loved music,” he said. “Instead of constantly being unhappy, I just try to make a way to really focus on what I love.” As Drawzilla continued to produce at home he found his hobby increasingly hard to manage. “Being at my apartment, obviously I have neighbors who started to complain because of the music. So I started having to turn it down, and as I’m turning it down there’s still complaints,” Drawzilla said, “and then it got to a point where I didn’t want that traffic where I live.” Producing music reached the point where he could earn a viable income, and he left his job as a cook. Drawzilla partnered with two other homegrown music producers, Tim McQueen and Slimm Gemm, to form Upstate Music Alliance. McQueen began his music career playing drums for his church choir. As he became older and interested in hip hop and R&B, McQueen would head to Drawzilla’s house for jam sessions at the studio. “When I was young, creating as an artist, I linked up with some of my friends going to Zilla and his studio, and from there we found
Courtesy of Darrin Weaver
t’s 10 o’clock on a Friday night in your fourthfloor Lathrop single—so obviously, you’re drinking Carlo Rossi straight from the jug, chitchatting with your homeskillets and playing your Vertical Horizon Pandora station on your laptop speakers (naturally). Right on time, you hear a clamor of footsteps and drunken shrieks outside your door before the floodgates bursts open, unleashing a flood of drunken acquaintances into your room, eager to sweep you off on a mini-rumspringa to the TH’s. Then it happens: Without prompt, someone swoops to your laptop, closes your Pandora, opens Youtube and puts on a bootleg-quality jam that no one asked to hear. He/she/shim then looks up and annnounces “OMG!!! [INSERT BAND NAME/SONG NAME HERE]!!!” And just like that, Vertical Horizon is replaced by strange and scary noises (read: Call Me Maybe). Meet that aural gremlin that you can always count on at parties: the YouTube DJ, or YDJ. Much like the Communist menace, anyone could be part of the conspiracy; it might be your best friend or the ever-shirtless basketball player across the hallway. One thing is for sure: These people will come to your soirees and display an utter disregard for your playlist by blasting their own tunes (certain ones will also reliably look around the room to gauge approval of their choices). But never fear, Erik is here with a guide to thwart this veritable demon of the Vassar underworld. Here is what you do to wrest back control, and if they’re being really awful about it, deflate them a little. It all depends on which single from the last month or so they insist on playing. “Kill for Love,” by The Chromatics. This YDJ most likely saw Drive last year and (rightfully) loved it. Now they can’t stop listening to ’80s synth-pop , and are really into this Italo-disco duo from the West Coast, responsible for the soundtrack for Ryan Gosling’s vehicle to meme-dom. Think of the soundtracks to John Hughes movies, but with way more morose lyrics and less Matthew Broderick. Solution: Spontaneous lies. “Hey dude, um, as my flannel indicates, this is actually a ’90sthemed party. Get down to Third Eye Blind and Eiffel 65 or GTFO!” “Fuck up the Fun,” by Azealia Banks This YDJ might actually be a real-person DJ—such folk tend to be well-versed in Diploproduced tracks emceed by the next iteration of Nicki Minaj. If you’re in for a balls-to-the-wall dance-a-thon in your room, you might actually want to (begrudgingly) let this YDJ/RPDJ do their thing. “Fuck Up the Fun” guns on all cylinders, with it’s surprisingly fresh snare drumline beat and Azealia Banks’ smooth-as-butter delivery. But in case that’s not your cup of tea: Solution: Use the song as a segue into a more enjoyable activity. “Oh sweet, women breaking into male-dominated spheres? Maybe we should watch the new HBO series Girls! Or maybe Shit Girls Say, and then drink every single time our discussion uses the word ‘problematic’.” “Tomorrow,” by Niki and The Dove This YDJ could very well be into impressing their plebeian friends with all things European— so much better than that commercial American detritus we listen to. Do you like Lady Gaga? Psh, try Robyn! Do you like old-school Joni Mitchell, and not terribly interested in new music? Psh, try Robyn! Not even into music in the first place? Psh, try Niki and the Dove, a female vocalist whose new single sounds like a mix of New Age and Heart. It really does strike a neat balance with a sound both vintage and original. Solution (a slightly mean one): Learn arbitrary phrases in Swedish in advance. When they begin blasting their Eurojams, beam at them and excitedly fire off some phrases. Wait for a response, and when they can only shake their head and look bemused, get crestfallen, flash a disappointed smile and turn to converse with someone else, leaving them totally deflated. Warning: If they actually know Swedish, this strategy will backfire. “Call Me Maybe,” by Carly Rae Jepsen Sorry, this one’s a losing battle. Just acknowledge that it’s a great song already.
hat if Happily Ever After was just the end of Act I? Sondheim’s classic Broadway musical Into the Woods riffs on the fairy tale tradition just so, uniting the magic of fairy tales with a more dark, modern sensibility. The 1987 show intertwines the plots of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Repunzel, Cinderella, and other fairy tale classics into a unified amalgamation, bringing with it all the quirkiness that such a hodgepodge would suggest. Future Waitstaff of America (FWA) and Philaletheis will present Into the Woods from Apr. 19-21 at 8 p.m. in the Susan Stein Shiva Theatre. When deciding which musical she wanted to direct for the spring semester, director Molly Shoemaker ’12 landed on Into the Woods for a number of reasons. She suggested that the musical is very “tongue-incheek” about fairy tales in general. “In our production we plan to do the same, but we’re also winking at theater as a method of storytelling.”Shoemaker also wanted to direct the musical because of its large cast (22 members in total), and she knew that this particular musical would offer meaty roles to more than a few actors. And after directing Edward Albee’s intimate domestic drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for her senior project last semester, Shoemaker wanted to try her hand at a different sort of project. “I knew I wanted to do something with a larger cast,” she said. “Virginia Woolf only had four people in it, and I wanted to take on a different sort of challenge. And I thought that a musical would be perfect for that.” But perhaps most importantly, Shoemaker chose Into the Woods for thematic reasons. “I kept coming back to this idea that
the characters in this play think they’re all grown up, but they still have a lot of growing up to do,” explained Shoemaker. Through her stage direction and overarching vision for the production, Shoemaker has tried to accentuate the musical’s exploration of maturity, and she hopes that it will resonate with college-aged audience members. The musical explores their uncertain futures, which for senior Shoemaker aptly parallels the approaching future of post-grad life. Other challenges of putting on the musical include staying true to the book, as their version is written without the show’s original, elaborate staging in mind—or its higher Broadway production budget for that matter. Shoemaker and her cast have confronted this difficulty through a series of creative solutions, essentially adopting a “less is more” approach. The original production from the 1980s, now available on DVD, has everything that one might expect from a big Broadway musical: lavish costumes, extravagant hair and makeup, and monolithic sets. The show calls for a number of puppeteers, and while they are hidden in that original production, Shoemaker has chosen to put those puppeteers out in the open, for all audience members to see. And in the interest of utilizing the Shiva to the utmost, Shoemaker and her cast are trying to decide which stage directions will work best, even if the directions themselves don’t ultimately adhere to James Lapine’s original book. But Shoemaker expects that this will ultimately work in favor of the production, especially since she is interested in highlighting the musical’s self-conscious theatricality. “We’re adding another layer of tongue-incheek to our own production,” Shoemaker said. “Just as the original [production] is very tongue-in-cheek about fairy tales,
Above, two producers of the Upstate Music Alliance mix a client’s song. The music studio—run by Slimm Gemm, Tim McQueen and Drawizlla—is located just a walk away at 320 Main Street. a lot of similarities and musical styles and things that we liked and then we formed an informal partnership,” McQueen said. “We’d work our records together, give our opinions on mixes and I’d give my opinion on different things.” Added Drawzilla, “We really both had home studios. It was really just both of us going to each other’s studios…we just had so much chemistry with knowing music and understanding our capabilities that’s when we came together.” Slimm Gemm, Tim McQueen and Drawzilla each decided to unite their resources, seeing in each other the same passion and ideas for music and music production. They needed public spaces to meet and work with clients rather than continue to rely on their home apartments, and decided to consolidate under the same roof. Drawzilla grew up on 90s artists like Stevie Wonder and the Isley Brothers. “That was ba-
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sically from my parents playing music in the apartment and being inspired by it,” he explained. In turn, Drawzilla primarily produces three genres of music through his studio: hip hop, R&B, and pop. Drawzilla spends anywhere from hours to days per song, and focuses on the quality of the sound when producing records. His studio recently produced a single “I Gotcha” by Maino, a young hip hop artist who headlined last weekend’s Throwback Jam at Vassar. Upstate Music Alliance also recently produced “Heart of a Lion” with artists Sheek Louch and Sauce Money. Slimm Gemm sits at the computer producing a song from scratch, and adds a sample atop his newly made beat. A window into the next door over reveals the microphone room, where pads absorb the sound to prevent echoing and a picture of Michael Jackson hangs on the wall. It’s just another day for these music producers.
April 19 , 2012
Alum Fligelman sustains screenwriting presence at VC
Jonah Bleckner for The Miscellany News
Adjuct Assistant Professor in Film Jeff Fligelman ’85, pictured above, co-founded the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. Fligelman also created the first screenwriting thesis option offered at Vassar. Charlacia Dent RepoRteR
djunct Assistant Professor in Film Jeff Fligelman ’85 has been an innovator for quite sometime. At Vassar, he created his own major, Literature and Dramatic Technique, and with the help of Professor of Drama and Film James Steerman—who had a major hand in the creation of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film—created the first screenwriting thesis option to be offered at Vassar. Eight years later, after he received a MFA in playwriting from Columbia University, he co-founded the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. Writing is ominpresent in his biography. Fligelman, originally from Chicago, knew that he wanted to be a writer at a very young age and became interested in writing for film during high school after his family moved to Los Angeles and he was able to take screenwriting classes. “We moved into an apartment which sat next to the house of Bela Lugosi and in the shadow of Universal Studios. My clos-
est friend and I often collected bottles, turned then in for nickels and dimes, and when we each had three dollars we would walk to Universal and take the tour,” Fligelman wrote in an emailed statement. “The back lot was our backyard, and when my friend got a Super 8 camera, we started making our own movies. We didn’t have any editing tools, so everything had to be worked out ahead of time and done in the camera. We had a blast making those movies, but then, of course, we had to wait weeks for the developed film to be returned from the lab.” Fligelman feels if he stayed in the Midwest he would have turned into a novelist instead. The second semester of his freshman year back in 1982 Fligelman met Steerman, and gave him a screenplay he wrote in high school. and re-wrote over the summertime before Vassar. Steerman accepted Fligelman into his 300-level Playwrighting course, marking the beginning of their mentorship. “I was very excited. We learned about play-
writing and screenwriting, and I wrote a oneact play in that course entitled The Jury, which was performed at Vassar’s playwrights festival in 1983,” Fligelman wrote. “That same year, I also wrote a full-length play with Professor Steerman as an independent project.” His junior year he went abroad to the University of London, where he studied English and Drama, and wrote a full-length play entitled China Massachusetts. Upon his return he knew he wanted to write a screenplay as his thesis despite its absence from the Vassar curriculum. In turn, he devised the aforementioned Literature and Dramatic Technique as an Independent Major and wrote a screenplay as his thesis indeed, under the guidance of Steerman. “When I mentor student’s writing screenplay theses now I kind of smile because they just get to elect it, and if there work is strong enough they can do it, but I had to really fight for it,” Fligelman said. “With Professor Steerman’s help, we created it. It was a job, but anytime you’re dealing with change, it takes some doing.” Fligelman went on to Columbia University for his MFA in playwrighting. “I studied with Howard Stein, one of greatest playwriting teachers of the 20th Century,” Fligelman wrote. “I’ve been very lucky to have had great teachers in high school (the Harvard School in Los Angeles), college, and graduate school— teachers who cared about teaching me how to write and who cared about my writing.” Upon graduation Fligelman founded, alongside television writer David Grae, the Gotham Writer’s Workshop in 1993, which is now the largest adult creative writing school in the United States. Based in New York City, Gotham Writer’s Workshop offers courses in everything from playwriting and fiction to travel writing, with some courses also available online globally for students. “The original goal of the school was to teach the craft of writing. You can’t teach talent, but if you’re open, you can learn the different elements that go into writing a story. There is a lot to learn and a lot to practice and being in a workshop setting is a wonderful way of learn-
ing,” Fligelman explained. He attributes the school’s success and uniqueness to its primary focus on developing the writer. “Our class sizes are small, our teachers are talented, passionate, and committed. We work very hard at crafting the best writing class that we can,” Fligelman said. “You have many other disciplines to focus on within other institutions, but for all these years we’ve only thought about how to teach a better writing class.” Nowadays Fligelman teaches the very same classes Steerman, now retired, taught: “Introduction to Screenwriting” and “Screenwriting.” “As long as Vassar offers me the job to teach these creative writing courses, I’m enjoying doing so,” Fligelman said. “Teaching at Vassar is a tremendous opportunity, I could teach elsewhere, but I have a special affinity to Vassar.” Fligelman compared his approach to teaching writing to playing tennis—when a tennis ball approaches you, you don’t have time to think. You only have time for an instinctual, muscle-memory and internalized reaction. “When I teach writing, I want my students to understand all of the concepts, all of theories, all of the craft. But, more importantly, I want to teach them how to be writers. For a writer there isn’t anything more important than pages,” Fligelman wrote. “And to write good pages the craft of writing has to get into your gut. When you review your work, you can ask all of the pertinent questions to make the script even better, but I aim to train writers’ impulses so that they will be closer to the mark from the beginning.” Fligelman points to Steerman as fundamental in shaping his career. “If it wasn’t for Professor Steerman, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I look at Vogelstein and I see his legacy. As long as Vassar offers me the job to teach these creative writing courses, I’m enjoying doing so,” Fligelman said. “Teaching at Vassar is a tremendous opportunity, I could teach elsewhere, but I have a special affinity to Vassar.” Professionally, Fligelman has sold a screenplay to Castle Rock Pictures for Rob Reiner to direct, though the film has not been made. He has also had other work optioned.
Devised play explores Shakespearean female archetypes Adam Buchsbaum aRts editoR
uliet, Rosalind, and Lady Macbeth are each well-known female leads in Shakespeare’s plays—but are they bitches? Theater group Merely Players poses this deliberately provocative question in the title of its newest upcoming show, “Merely [Bitches] [?].” The show tells the three stories of three women, Josie, Alex, and Elora; each of the three has a corresponding Shakespeare women as a subconscious figure—respectively, Juliet, Rosalind, and Lady Macbeth—with whom they communicate when undergoing intense pressure or stress. “Merely [Bitches] [?]” will take place in Matthew’s Mug on April 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. and April 22 at 1:30 p.m. Director and writer of the show Noah Bogdanoff ’14 elaborated on the title. “People dismiss women who act non-traditionally as bitches. It’s horrible and it’s dumb, but it also has to come from some place, and in addition to coming from a socio-historical context it also comes from a literary context,” Bogdanoff explained. “The ways women are portrayed in Shakespeare may come to have a bearing on the roles they are allowed to play in modern society.” Bogdanoff began with a rough idea last year to do a theater piece exploring Shakespearean women and feminist themes together, and started concretely creating it in February. “It occurred to me that I could use Shakespeare as a jumping off point for a lot of the issues rattling around in my head, such as the marginalization of women, the way we do that in modern society, and the archetypes people so often ascribe to women,” Bogdanoff said. Assistant Director and Tech Director Anveshi Guha ’15 noted that the show from its
very onset was a devised theater piece— collaborative, improvisatory, and open to all opinions. Rehearsals began without a script, instead acting as spaces for discussion and exploration. Bogdanoff worked with the actors and dramaturgs closely to develop the script. “We wanted to have a lot discussion with the dramaturgy team and the actors about their lives and what they can bring to the show,” explained Assistant Director and Tech Guha said. “We would all talk about it, we would improvise scenes, then we would synthesize it into a cohesive script.” Bogdanoff also found extra inspiration in Britomartis’ recent show “harlot/nun,” which he said helped catalyze the process of devising the play. Still, he noted the difference between the two shows. “They’re coming from a literary perspective entirely,” Bogdanoff said. “Ours decontextualizes literature.” Molly Brossman ’15 plays Josie. “Josie is a recent college grad, a sweet, down-to-earth girl,” Brossman wrote in an emailed statement. She has been in a long-term relationship with Dan, but Dan is shocked that Josie wishes to explore rough sex, seeing this at odds with Josie’s respectability. “[She] realizes through her Shakespearean counterpart, Juliet, how to be more sexually adventurous/ demanding for the first time in her life.” Alex—played by Genesis Hernandez ’15—works as a hospital resident, and her tomboyish style makes her boss and the patients uncomfortable. Judged by her boss for acting “too lesbian” at her job, Alex must put on another personality while at her workplace. “She risks losing her job. Because of this, we pulled out Rosalind, who is this genderbending, puckish demigod of confidence who loves to confuse the audience,” Bogdanoff
explained. Added Brossman, “Genesis Hernandez truly embodies her character, Alex, as her arc was written to parallel her own life and goals.” Charlacia Dent ’14 plays Elora. Elora’s brother moves in to her apartment under the assumption that she will take care of him thanks to their history, and he becomes an overbearing, masculine presence. Her Shakespearean counterpart is Lady Macbeth. “Lady Macbeth is one of the more provocative characters in Shakespeare… I like to think of Lady Macbeth as empowering. She was a strong woman and she used it. Despite the fact that she used it for malice she’s inspiring in certain ways,” Stotler said. “I think that’s what Elora draws on.” Tracy Bratt ’13 elaborated on her own character. “She is quite a familiar figure—even to those who have never read Macbeth—and so it was interesting trying to take her lines out of their original context,” Bratt wrote in an emailed statement. “Lady Macbeth is powerful and seductive—she knows how to get things done. One moment she is charming and pleasant, the next vengeful and furious; she is definitely someone whose good side you want to stay on.” Hallie Stotler ’14 and Ben Slaw ’15 are each part of the dramaturgy team. “The intent [of the play] is to explore how the figures in texts like Shakespeare’s can remain relevant to us today, and connect back to see how modern women continue to interact with women in the past,” Stotler said. The dramaturgy team compiled texts from Shakespeare open to decontextualizing, experimenting with new meanings and interpretations of Shakespeare. “We did a slight bit of adaptation for it. The Juliet archetype is strongly independent, take-care-of-your-
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self, but naive,” Slaw said. “They take a lot of her lines and change the inflection on it… when combined with certain hand gestures, things take on new meanings.” Stotler described the entire creative process as scary, but also thrilling. “You’re starting from a very loose concept and you have nowhere. You’re literally just swimming in an ocean of possibilities, and sharks,” she said. “There were several occasions where we’d walk into dramaturg time and walk out, and completely change the concept of the show!” The script was not completely finalized until April 9. Brossman spoke to her experience with the show, and preparing for the show. “Before this project, I was not so familiar or comfortable with the idea of improvisation, but after spending a few weeks ‘tabling’ I felt like I understood how to embody my character, so when it came time to improv I was surprised at my ability,” Brossman wrote. “Lauren Huang [’15], who plays Dan, and I were kind of the guinea pigs, as we were the first in the cast to try and improvise a scene, and we had to act out a fight between Dan and Josie,” Brossman continued. “We screamed, and argued, and I was shocked at how real it felt. When the scene ended, the whole cast applauded, and almost word for word, that one scene made it into the show.” Evelyn Berger ’13 plays Rosalind in the show, and hopes the show will spark a discussion by audience members on societal expectations of women. “The women in this show live entirely different lives, but they are all forced into very narrow archetypes by the situations and people around them,” said Berger. “I hope that we can enable people to question this notion—why does a person need to fall neatly into a category?”
April 19 , 2012
Vogel delivers lecture on African art Emma Daniels RepoRteR
Courtesy of Benjamin Jarosch
ilmmaker and highly respected curator of African art; Susan Vogel will give the 2012 Ribicoff Lecture, entitled “El Anatsui’s Marriage of Painting and Sculpture: A New Art from Africa,” on April 24 in Taylor Hall 102 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The lecture will address two of her films, “Fold Crumple Crush: the Art of El Anatsui” and “The Future of Mud: A Tale of Houses and Lives in Djenne.” These films will be screened both before and after the lecture, on April 24 and 25 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. in Taylor Hall 102. “Fold Crumple Crush: the Art of El Anatsui” documents and profiles famous contemporary African sculptor El Anatsui, known for his work converting used bottle tops into huge opulent wall hangings. “I don’t believe in artworks being things that are fixed,” said El Anatsui in an interview from the film. The second film, “The Future of Mud: A Tale of Houses and Lives in Djenne,” is also a documentary, which examines an African tradition of mud architecture in Mali told through the lens of Djenne, Mali mason Komusa Tenapo and his family. “[Susan Vogel] is promoted to providing best possible access to African art as it is integrated into the many African cultures,” said Professor of Art Molly Nesbit. Although Susan Vogel has spread access to such African art in traditional ways—she founded the Museum of African Art in New York City—reflecting El Anatsui’s words, Vogal represents African art fluidly, especially with her recent filmic interest. “She is now devoting herself primarily to making film, and using film as a carrier for the work of African artists, a permanent exhibition space that breaks down formalities of museum exhibition,” explained Nesbit. The lecture also reflects what Art students have learned in Art History 382, the Belle Ribicoff seminar. The lecture, and the seminar, come under the auspices of a fund provided by Belle Ribicoff ’45. This fund enables the Art History department to annually invite a distinguished art historian and/ or curator to teach one six-week 300-level seminar in the spring term. This year, Susan Vogel was chosen as the
Xurator Susan Vogel, pictured left, attends the opening reception for “August Sander and Seydou Keita: Portraiture and Social Identity.” She will deliver the Ribicoff Lecture on April 24. Belle Ribicoff Distinguished Guest Lecturer in the History of Art to fill a specific void. Because no Art History professor in the department this year holds a post doctorate in African Art, the department wanted to make sure that a class about African art was offered with a well-qualified individual at the helm. Susan Vogel fits that description; she has a Ph.D in Art History and is internationally recognized as a curator and African art expert. She has also held the positions of curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Founding Director of the Museum for African Art, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, and Professor of Art History at Columbia. She also holds an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. “An ongoing dream of ours is to bring the study of African art to Vassar, and the lecture is the way for everybody at Vassar to have access to the ideas taught in the seminar,” Nesbit noted. The Ribicoff seminar provides a unique opportunity for the 12 students enrolled; students spend most of their class time taking field trips to various different art col-
lections. Susan Vogel’s seminar was called “Issues in Collecting and Curating: African Art for Example”. Susan Vogel accompanied students to a few galleries in New York City that addressed various facets of African art, and the African art exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Rachel Vogel ’13 is one student in the seminar. “The course focused not explicitly on African art, but the way it sits within the art world, specifically in New York City,” Rachel Vogel said. “Through each trip, we explored the way African art entered this country and under what circumstances, the way it was presented, either as fine art or cultural artifact, as well as issues of conservation/restoration, the ethics of collecting, and repatriation.” Added Rachel Vogel, “I found [Vogel] to be inspiring, innovative, and sensitive to a topic that has a controversial history. I wish the class had been a full semester; I feel like we barely scratched the surface of many of the important issues that were brought up, but as such, the course was intended more to raise critical awareness and cause us to question than it was to provide answers.”
Minority experiences inpire comedy NATHAN continued from page 1 “I probably wouldn’t be a very good comedian if I hadn’t moved to New York. I had no car and no insurance, so I had to move. I became a receptionist during the day and did stand-up at night,” she explained. Living in New York exposed her to a bigger comedy and standup scene, and she found that people responded to her irreverent humor, and from there her career took off. She has made television appearances on ABC News’ 20/20, the Oxygen Network, and BBC. In her comedy routines, Nathan draws on her unique experiences as an Indian-American woman. Common themes in her work include how she has dealt with living as a minority in America and how she has navigated sex and relationships after growing up in a traditional Hindu household. “All of my comedy is really personal, so it’s usually about what’s going on in my life or whatever question is in my mind,” she said. “I joke about my family a lot,” she said with a chuckle. “I like discussing different cultural influences and thinking about what makes us believe what we believe.” Nathan says that she enjoys comedians who take awkward or unfortunate things that happen to them and make them funny. She is particularly drawn to Black comedians, including Kevin Hart, whose done several stand-up specials on Comedy Central. Nathan says her upcoming performance at Vassar will be especially fun because the main focus is sex. “I make fun of a lot of the things we do in relationships, and I talk about dating and the messages Cosmo says,” she explained. “For instance, one of their tips is to be mysterious—I don’t know how to do that, other than be like ‘Yeah I killed a man once,’” she said with a laugh. “Growing up my parents said that I would be getting an arranged marriage, so I knew so little about men and dating and marriage; I would read these magazines and literally take notes!” Nathan feels that one of the best aspects of comedy is that it allows you to discuss heavy issues in a funny way, and through such discussions you can better understand yourself and society. Her comedy aims to speak to others by focusing on feelings of discomfort or unfairness anyone can relate to through humor. And this comedic approach has enabled her to fearlessly address any subject matter. “I’m a little dirty,” she said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t say I’m over the top vulgar, but I will take on any topic.”
Shapiro heavily involved in both music and dance Matthew Hauptman assistaNt aRts editoR
Jiajing Sun for The Miscellany News
media studies major, Greg Shapiro ’12 has tirelessly pursued his passions—namely, singing and dance—and has always been eager to push himself outside his own comfort zone. “There’s no reason to feel like you’re stuck in a routine here,” Shapiro said. “The more you challenge yourself, the better.” And Shapiro has lived by his words. He came to Vassar in the fall of 2008 and wasted no time pursuing dance, joining the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre (VRDT) that same year. Shapiro has been dancing since elementary school (mostly in school plays) and began taking classes as a high school freshman, at which point he joined a dance studio and participated in a number of competitions. But even with all that prior training, Shapiro still found VRDT a formative learning experience, largely because it helped him develop and refine his skills in ballet and modern dance. “VRDT was great. I really loved being immersed in a community of dancers,” he said. Shapiro left after his freshman year, partly because he knew that there were countless other performance opportunities at Vassar. “I didn’t want to be doing one thing for four years,” he explained. As a sophomore, Shapiro participated in an afterschool dance program called Protect the Dream, where he taught Poughkeepsie students of elementary and middle school age a variety of dance forms, including ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop. The program took place twice a week in Studio III in Kenyon, and culminated in an end-of-the-year performance. “It was a great way to allow the kids to identify with the music they heard in a constructive, appropriate way,” he explained.
In addition to pursuing his passion for piano, Greg Shaprio ’12, above, dances for the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, sings for the a cappella group the Vastards and performs in theater productions. During the first semester of his sophomore year, Shapiro was a cast member in the Drama Department’s production of Rent, taking on the role of Benny. Rent perfectly united his interest in music and dance. “I came to Vassar thinking I’d do a lot of theater, and I wanted to combine my love of everything in Rent.” A musical was an unsurprising choice for Shapiro, especially since he started taking opera lessons through the Vassar Opera Workshop the following semester, with Adjunct Artist in Music Mary Nessinger. “I really wanted to
challenge myself, and I had never done opera before.” As if his sophomore year hadn’t been busy enough, Shapiro joined an a cappella group, the Vastards, that same year. He was delighted to be admitted into the group, mainly because college a cappella had always been a dream of his throughout high school. During his three years in the Vastards, Shapiro has risen through the ranks and now does pitch, the person who conducts his fellow Vastards singers. Shapiro thinks the best part of the Vastards is
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their shared friendship, and joked the group sometimes feels like a fraternity. Shapiro has also seen some significant changes in the way the group manages its repertoire. Facebook has been responsible for this change: members of Vastards post song ideas, YouTube videos, and everyone votes for songs on Facebook. Still, because of his seniority in the group Shapiro chose and arranged his own song. The group’s final concert will be on May 1, and Shapiro will be singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” Shapiro has made the most of his senior year, and it took a semester abroad (in Bolivia and Peru) for Shapiro to realize how much Vassar has to offer for him. Shapiro did not participate in any performances while abroad. His semester abroad marked the longest break he had ever taken from performing, and he knew he wanted to go back to it upon returning to Vassar as a senior. “I knew it was my last year, and I wanted to make every performance experience count,” he said. Last fall, Shapiro starred in the Future Waitstaff of America’s (FWA) production of Altar Boyz. The character that he played was a native Spanish speaker, and Shapiro said that his immersion in Spanish-speaking countries was invaluably helpful as he prepared for his role. On Saturday, Apr. 21, Shapiro will be performing in a senior voice recital with two good friends (and housemates) of his, Lilli Cooper ’12 and Greg Sullivan ’12. The three have always wanted to perform together and will now have the opportunity to do so, through a series of solos, duets, and trios from the musical theater and jazz canons. As Shapiro pointed out, “It’s my last moment on the Vassar stage, and I think this will be a great way to end things.”
April 19 , 2012
Cabin puts new spin on old ideas, clichés Lily Sloss
Cabin in the Woods Drew Goddard [Lionsgate]
he tagline of The Cabin in the Woods is “You Think You Know the Story.” By all accounts, unless you’ve never seen a horror movie other than that one really intense episode of Ghostwriter, you probably do know the story. A group of hormonal young’uns decide to spend a weekend at some not-quite comfy, not-quite spooky locale only to discover that it was, indeed, quite creepy and spooky and worrisome after all. The characters are picked off one by one in order of how active their sex life is and how stupid they are, leaving one very emotionally scarred survivor. Said survivor just so happens to be the hottest of the hot young things that the casting people could rustle up on short notice. She will go one to avenge her friends in a messy third act and perhaps yet again in some ill-conceived sequel that inevitably comes out too soon. There is no mystery to this formula; in fact, I couldn’t have oversimplified my summary of such plots past how paint-bynumbers they already are. However, if The Cabin in the Woods only had this dated standard to offer, why write this review in the first place? Well, if there’s one positive thing to be said about movie marketing, it is that the most daring and misleading sort can set us up with the perfect set of expectations to be flipped by the actual product and film itself. Marketed as a straight horror movie
with a technological twist, what’s really surprising is that the barebones horror plot that we expect is only a footnote to one of the most original stories to come out of Hollywood in a very long time. The movie uses your familiarity with the clichés as a resource to play up the movie’s pitch perfect sense of humor and mystery. I just wouldn’t expect it to be as much predictably macabre as it is hilarious and delightfully thrilling. Coincidentally, it might also explain the premise of every other horror movie every made. Writer Drew Goddard has worked on many things concerned with keeping the audience from the truth for as long as possible. His credits include many J.J. Abrams outings, including Lost and Cloverfield, the latter of which you would expect would have the most bearing on his directorial debut. However, the movie’s second writer is Joss Whedon, and a cursory glance at Goddard’s earlier work reveals his history as a staff writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is the first sign that we might just be in for something completely different than we see usually. The other sign is the structure of the movie itself. This is immediately evident from the introduction of the characters, whose names we will barely remember but whose archetypes are immediately recognizable to us: the blonde/slut, the jock, the idiot, the cute boy and the virgin. However, the dialogue in this opening scene, undoubtedly constructed by Whedon, realizes these stock characters as intelligent, self-aware, and more like normal people that we expect. The blonde is simply capricious with her hair color, and is in a healthy relationship with the jock, who happens to be a damn good sociology major. The idiot is
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just a nice guy who sometimes gets high and the cute boy is just the average kind of person everyone gets along with. The virgin actually just got out of a purely sexual relationship and is looking to be more careful in the future. They’re amusingly relatable. To reveal how the movie plays with horror conventions to make them fall in line with our expectations would be to ruin the fun and pleasure of letting you find out for your own self. Notice that I didn’t say that the movie opens with their introductions. In fact, the real opening is one of the most delightfully weird sequences I’ve ever seen. From the gory paintings of human sacrifice from the film’s opening credits we unceremoniously cut to the colorful design of a coffee vending machine. Two middle-aged white guys discuss how boring their jobs are and how one of them might have a kid on the way so his wife is starting to childproof everything in the house, much to his chagrin. One of the most successful scares of the movie happens here when, with a loud explosion of sound, the title flashes on screen, dripping with blood, superimposed over the image of two bored employees riding around in a glorified golf cart. There is no cabin or woods to be seen. Brilliant. It’s a topsy-turvy horror movie. It may not be perfect, with lingering plot holes and some ideas that don’t work out as well as others, but those small mistakes barely matter. After all, Goddard and Whedon have taken a very top-heavy premise, explored every possible angle of their story and somehow kept it amazingly fun to follow along. There are many ways to make a good horror movie: cynically, ironically, creatively. The Cabin in the Woods does it all.
Theo Kim ’13
“If I knew how to write, I would write.”
Joshua Cartwright ’13
“An essay on the Matisse painting we have in the Art Center.”
Maria Emilia ’13
submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachael Johnson ’15 The reason I named this painting “Midnight” is more than the fact that I painted it at midnight. The painting had rooted in my mind since that dusk. When I walked on the Graduation Hill down to the Sunset Lake, right in front of me is nothing but the glaring yet comforting sunshine. I can see the rays of lights. They are moving toward me, embracing me, and absorbing me into the giant bright hole. I can see everything moving toward it too, the foliage, the breeze, and the shadows even though no one was there except me. It was a cold day, and I was living through a hard time, struggling with the meaning of me coming all the way to the United States from the other side of the world. However, the warming sunshine had opened a totally new world to me.
“Sexts to Cappy.”
Dalton Bentley ’12
—Franny Da ’15
Kylie Sale ’12
—Adam Buchsbaum Arts Editor MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
April 19 , 2012
Quidditch captures fourth annual Butterbeer Classic Jessica Tarantine FeatuRes editoR
Alex Schlesinger for The Miscellany News
got 99 problems, but a snitch ain’t one,” read the shirt of a spectator at the fourth annual Butterbeer Classic. Clearly a snitch wasn’t a problem for the Butterbeer Broooers as they captured the tournament title this past Saturday on Ballantine Field. “I could not have been happier with the outcome of the tournament, the overall atmosphere was about having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously,” said Captain Vicky Qui ’14, “Although a few players were hurt, there were no serious injuries on the field and the overall playing style was clean.” In the first game of the day the Broooers defeated the University of Massachusetts Amherst 120-10 with Vassar catching the snitch. Vassar next defeated Skidmore College 70-40, before meeting Ithaca College in the semifinals, a 120-0 victory. Lastly, in the championship game, the Broooers vanquished UMass 80-40 despite a snitch catch by the opposition. “I feel Vassar Quidditch lived up to [its] reputation as a fun, good-spirited Quidditch team that can also compete,” wrote Captain Aaron Suzuka ’12 in an emailed statement. Although the Broooers would finish the day undefeated, the tournament was not without its difficulties. “Our most challenging games were probably the matches against UMass Amherst, especially the championship match,” explained Suzuka, “It was the fourth game for both teams; we were all tired, and UMass Amherst has several fast and large players.” Suzuka explained that the other team’s chasers were good offensively, which necessitated a strong defensive strategy. “Their chasers and keeper always pressed hard on offense, and with a combination of fast runs and
A chaser on the Butterbeer Broooers, Vassar’s quiditch team, moves to launch the quaffle through the hoop at the annual Butterbeer Classic, held on April 14. The Broooers finished the day undefeated. many passes, they were harder to keep track of on defense,” Suzuka wrote. “However, our great beater defense saved us a lot as well as great goal coverage by keepers Nathan Houston ’13 and David BridgmanPacker ’12...This allowed us to score many goals and create a comfortable point differential before the snitch came back to the field,” finished Suzuka. Vassar’s high pre-snitch-catch point differentials were often due to strong beater and chaser strategies on the pitch. “Our chasers took advantage of every attacking opportunity, often catching the other team off-guard.” He continued, “while most of the other teams
were much larger than us, we were able to out-pass most teams, allowing us to score on almost every attacking play. Chasers also did a phenomenal job defending and marking the opposing players, essentially eliminating most of the attacking players from the play.” While chasers were key to the team’s offensive strategy, Vassar’s beaters dominated on defense. “Our beaters were able to shut down almost every offensive play made by the opposing team by themselves; this also allowed us to push more players up on offense,” explained Suzuka. “Our beaters also maintained great bludger control which weakened the opponent team’s defense,” he continued.
Fellow Captain Peter Lee ’14 saw Vassar’s highly evolved strategy as a function of their early start on the Quidditch pitch. “As Vassar is the second team ever to start Quidditch, I think that Vassar’s strategy is a little more polished than those of many other schools who have started their Quidditch teams just recently,” wrote Lee in an emailed statement. While Vassar concentrated on the tactical aspects of the game during the tournament, the day was not without traditional Quidditch sentiments, more often known as “quove,” or Quidditch love, in the Vassar Quidditch sphere. Another “quove” related aspect of the day was the debut of the rainbow snitch. While in Quidditch there is only one official snitch in the game, often times groups of snitches, not playing in that specific game, gather around the official snitch to protect the snitch and offer the crowd entertainment. In last Saturday’s game, the Broooers dressed up in different colors to make the traditional blockade,spicing up the normally yellow-wearing profession. Overall for many members of the team instead of being overly physical on the pitch, it was more important to forge relationship with players of other schools and fellow Potter fans, “Basically, our overall strategy is to win with skill not brute force. Although our strategy may not work well against every team, but after every game, we can leave the pitch giving hugs to the other team rather than just shaking hands. Our overall mindset when we step onto the field is that when we step off the field, we leave the pitch as friends.” “I cannot emphasize how respectful each of the teams was, and how we all just wanted to have fun. After the actual tournament we all had a huge group hug and then of course a dodgeball fight,” said Qui.
Sports Briefs | Brewers complete successful weekend Corey Cohn, Andy Marmer and Tina Caso spoRts editoRs
Men’s Rugby Sinks Merchant Marine Academy
This weekend, the men’s rugby team battled against the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). Despite injuries to both their captain James Purtle ’12 and inside center Akeel St. Vil ’14, the Brewers moved on to outscore USMMA by an outstanding 50-29. Brett Anker ’12 scored 20 points for the Brewers.
Athlete of the Year Voting Now Open
Cassady Bergevin for The Miscellany News
The Miscellany News has profiled some of Vassar’s most outstanding varsity athletes throughout the course of the 2011-2012 school year. Now, we’re leaving it up to you, the reader, to determine which Brewer should be named Athlete of the Year. Go to www.miscellanynews.com to cast your vote. The athletes currently nominated are all the ones we profiled over the last two semesters, but don’t fret if you wish to name an athlete not listed. Simply use the write-in option to nominate the athlete you feel stood out among the best of the best this year. Voting will be open until Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. and the honoree will be revealed in next week’s issue of The Miscellany News, the last issue of the semester. Women’s Track Finishes Second at April Invitational
This Saturday, the women’s track relay team blazed a trail in their April Invitational. In the 4x100-meter relay, Katy Hwang ’12, Heather Ingraham ’15, Nina Andersen ’15 and Ariel Bridges ’15 beat the school record and finished first in a lineup of schools, including Division I Marist College. Payton Johnson ’15, Viviane Ford ’15, Tiffany Marchell ’13 and Kelly Holmes ’13 also had a stellar performance in the 4x800 relay, finishing with a time of 9:49:75. Hwang had an overall impressive meet, finishing in first place for triple jump with a distance of 9.90 meters. She also finished second in two hurdle events. Golf Places Fourth at Invitational
The women’s golf team charged back from seventh place to finish fourth at the annual Vassar College Invitational this past Saturday. The Brewers shot a 329 on the second day— three strokes off the mark for the day—to finish fourth overall. Each Vassar golfer improved on the second day lowering her score by at least four strokes. Alex Bello ’12 led the Brewers with a two-day score of 164 (84, 80). Paloma Jimenez ’14 turned in the best round of the tournament for Vassar, shooting a 79
Above, a member of the women’s track team sprints for the finish line at last Saturday’s April Invitational. The team gave an impressive performance, beating the school record for the 4x100-meter relay. on g second day. Jimenez finished 10th overall with a 169 (90, 79). Four Track Runners Qualify for ECAC Championships
The men’s track team finished fifth out of 14 teams this past Saturday at the April Invitational hosted by Vassar. At the meet, the 4x800 team of Andrew Terenzi ’15, Justin Rupert ’12, Zach Williams ’12 and Sam Wagner ’13 qualified for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship race on May 17-18 hosted by Renseelaer Polytechnic Institute. The squad covered the distance in 7:56.06, under a second away from the school record (7:50.40). Men’s Volleyball Falls in UVC First Round
The men’s volleyball team bowed out of the United Volleyball Conference tournament in the quarterfinal round, falling to Nazareth College 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-21) this past Friday at New York University. Joe Pyne ’14 led the Brewers with 11 kills in the match.
Volleyball Garners All-Conference Honors
Junior Matt Elgin earned First Team AllUVC honors, while classmates John Konow and Christian La Du earned Honorable Mention nods. La Du was also named Libero/Defensive Specialist of the Year. Elgin led the conference with a .360 hitting percentage, while also leading the Brewers with three kills per set and 1.14 blocks per set. La Du ranked third in both the UVC and the country with 3.03 digs per set. The junior libero totaled 302 digs on the season. Women’s Rugby Downs Boston University
After a monumental 72-5 win over Boston University (BU), Vassar women’s rugby will move on to compete in the national playoffs against American International College at 12 p.m. on April 21 at Princeton University. In their match versus BU, Margaret Kwateng ’14 scored four tries for the Brewers, while Adrianna Provenzano ’13 scored three and Julia Maltby ’14 scored two. Gavriella Kaplan ’14 also had a strong match.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Women’s Lacrosse Routs Bard College
The women’s lacrosse team defeated Bard College 13-5 this past Tuesday. The Brewers jumped out to a 6-2 halftime lead and never looked back. Heather Kesselman ’12 recorded 10 saves in goal. Maura McCarthy ’12, Phoebe Tzannes ’14 and Katherine Stegmann ’15 all notched two goals in the victory. Men’s Tennis Splits Weekend Matches
After a 7-2 victory over New York University this past Friday the men’s tennis team was unable to upset No. 1 Amherst College, falling 8-1 this past Saturday. Andrew Guzick ’13 earned the lone Vassar win at No. 1 singles, 7-6, 7-6. Guzick is currently ranked No. 3 in the Northeast in singles, while the doubles team of Ben Guzick ’12 and Andrew Guzick is currently ranked No. 1 in the Northeast. Baseball Drops Three of Four to Union
This past weekend the baseball team dropped three of four to Union College. The teams met this past Saturday for a doubleheader at Union College with the host winning both games. The next day the teams faced off twice more at Vassar with the host grabbing the first game and the visitors the second. Vassar won its first game 15-3 highlighted by back-to-back home runs by Mike Perrone ’13 and Brett Zaziski ’14. John MacGregor threw a complete game for the victory. Union fought back to win the second game of the day 11-7. Men’s Lacrosse Overcome by RIT
The men’s lacrosse team fell to No. 9 Rochester Institute of Technology 19-6 last Saturday despite two goals from seniors Topher Toffoli and Jeff Lee. Vassar trailed 9-2 at the half and were unable to close the gap, despite outscoring their foes 3-2 in the final quarter.
April 19 , 2012
Nicols bring familial dynamic to VC lax Erik Lorenzsonn seNioR editoR
Andy Sussman ColumNist
Cassady Bergevin for The Miscellany News
ohn Nicol always brought his young son Andrew ’14 along to practices and matches for the lacrosse teams he coached at Yorktown High School and Marist College in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Watching games and hanging out in locker rooms inspired Andrew; after playing in youth leagues and earning All-American honors at Brewster High School, he joined the Vassar Class of 2014 and the College’s squad as goalkeeper. The catch: His dad is here too, as an assistant coach for the program. “I had my father as a coach when I was in third grade,” wrote Andrew in an emailed statement. “Back then it was all about having fun and making friends. Now its about representing Vassar and growing as a student-athlete. It’s definitely more intense.” Having a parent as a coach is not unprecedented; women’s lacrosse attacker Libby Feltch ’12 is coached by her father, volunteer assistant Mark Feltch. While in theory these relationships may ring nepotistic, in practice it is a non-issue. Once they put on their uniforms, Andrew and John are exclusively player and coach. “It does really get a little uncomfortable for me when [head coach Marc Graham] and I start rehashing the games, and I say ‘Andrew had a really good game.’” said John. “I began to reference him as ‘goalkeeper,’ because otherwise it might sound like I’m favoring him.” Even though nepotism is not a concern, the Nicols’ father-son relationship still impacts Andrew’s on-field performance. In one sense, Andrew feels like he is actually held to higher standards simply because he has grown up watching his dad coach other teams—he knows what his dad’s expectations are. Even more so than if his coach was not his father, he pushes himself very hard. “It has made me a better player because I’m out to prove to everyone I’m not just on the team because my father is a coach,” wrote Andrew. “I play because I can help the team.” Alternatively, the Nicols’ off-field relationship is impacted by what happens in games
Father-son duo John (right) and Andrew Nicol ’14 (left) team up on the men’s lacrosse team as assistant coach and goalkeeper, respectively. John Nicol has coached his son since the third grade. and practices. “My mother loves to point out that after a loss, not only am I in a grumpy mood but my father is as well,” said Andrew. “She must have an awesome time dealing with the both of us after tough games.” The cues Andrew took from his father over the years translate into impressive performances, and he has earned a place as one of the top goalkeepers in the Liberty League. In his eleven starts this season, he has proven his worth as a crucial pivot for the team. He has racked up 166 saves, which has translated into a save percentage of .597; this stat is all the more impressive when stacked against the .503 percentage of his opponents. Said John, “He made a major impact on the team ever since he stepped on campus.” For Andrew, that decision to attend Vassar came with full knowledge that he would be playing beneath his father. While this may have peripherally factored into his decision to apply, the College’s academics were his num-
ber one consideration and the impetus for him to matriculate. John did not actively compel his son to join, although he says he lent him insight into the College and the lacrosse program. Ever since Andrew arrived, the lacrosse program has seen some landmark developments. The highlight for the program over the past two years was last season’s victory against St. Lawrence. The win earned the team its first conference victory after nine years and 57 losses in the Liberty League. For both John and Andrew—who contributed with an astounding 11 saves—the game is a fond memory. I remember on the bus ride up him telling me about a dream he had where we won the game,” wrote Andrew. “That moment with him and the rest of the team was very special.” John’s dreams may at times be premonitions of victory, but they also mean so much more: “Frankly, It’s a dream every day to go... and see him play.”
Brewers defeat Wellesley 3-2 in finals TENNIS continued from page 1 Samantha Schapiro ’15 earned a 7-5, 6-1 victory at No. 1 doubles. Head Coach Kathy Campbell was impressed by the duo’s play. She wrote in an emailed statement, “They got better with each match in the tourney and defeated an impressive Wellesley doubles pair who hit very hard and had an attacking game.” She continued by praising her captain, “As a senior and superb doubles player, [Backer] provided an extra amount of composure and experience to the doubles pair.” The Brewers dropped into a 2-1 hole with a loss at No. 2 doubles. The team of Hannah Van Demark ’15 and Lindsay Kantor ’14 fell 6-3, 6-4, meaning Vassar needed to win both remaining matches to secure the championship. At the time, Jennifer Beckerman ’12 and Jennifer Ruther ’13 were locked in tight matches at No. 1 and No. 3 singles, respectively. Beckerman took the first set in her bout, 7-5 and was tied in the second 4-4, while Ruther was up 1-0 in the decisive third set, after dropping the first set 3-6 but rallying back to take the second 6-2. Shortly thereafter the Brewers knotted the match at two as Beckerman held serve to go up 5-4 and then broke her opponent’s serve in a drawn-out concluding game to take a 7-5, 6-4 victory. Beckerman described her approach in the match’s conclusion. “During my singles match, I had thought that Wellesley already won three points (meaning they won the tournament) because my opponent starting jumping up and down and squealing,” she wrote in an emailed statement. Beckerman continued, “I was disappointed but knew that I had to stay focused on my match—that was the only thing that I could control. It wasn’t until I finished my match that my coach informed me that we were tied at 2-2.” Beckerman elaborated, calling the victory the best of her career.
James clear 2011 - 2012 NBA MVP
Campbell echoed the senior’s sentiment, writing in an emailed statement, “This was [Beckerman’s] best college match so far. It was an extremely high level of play and extremely close throughout the entire match.” The win gave Beckerman the No. 1 singles title, while also avenging a defeat against the same player the previous year. The match at No. 3 singles now proved decisive. In an emailed statement, Ruther explained, “The only thing I kept thinking is that I couldn’t let my team down.” Ruther extended her lead to 4-2 and, after trading holds with her opponent, was able to serve out for the match and championship. Campbell was impressed by the way Ruther played to her assets in the match. She wrote, “[Ruther’s] speed, anticipation and fitness are three of her strengths. She utilized them so well in this match and her composure was superb knowing that she was the deciding match to win the tournament.” Ruther described her victory differently emphasizing her emotional response. “It was surreal…Seeing that girl shank my last serve was like letting a two-ton dumbbell fall off my shoulders.” Overall, Campbell was overjoyed with her team’s performance. “It was a thrilling finish. Vassar played so well under pressure (composed, yet aggressive tennis). I’m so proud of how we competed,” she wrote. In leading the Brewers to victory, Beckerman, Ruther and Backer were all named to the All-Tournament team. Ruther described the elation in an emailed statement, “I was ready to start screaming like an eight-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert. It means the world to me; as stressful and difficult as tennis can be, it is something that I am truly passionate about.” The win over Wellesley is more than just a victory for the Brewers. Beckerman wrote, “It
means a lot to me; I feel like it really topped off my college tennis career.” She also described Ruther’s victory as “the best college tennis moment!” While she was thrilled by the Championship, Ruther was also glad the team defeated Wellesley specifically. “There is very much a rivalry between Vassar and Wellesley in this tournament, so we were obviously ecstatic to win against our rival,” she wrote. Still, for the team the win took on even greater importance. The Brewers are currently ranked No. 27 nationally and No. 11 in the Northeast, while Wellesley is ranked No. 19 nationally and No. 7 in the region; the win will undoubtedly help Vassar improve its ranking. Beyond that the team believes the win will impact the rest of its season. “This was a defining moment for our team: it was probably the biggest win we’ve had all year,” wrote Ruther. The tournament championship is just one of the team’s many accomplishments so far this season. Campbell explained in an emailed statement, “We are having a very strong spring season. In the fall we focused a lot on rebuilding our team identity and team dynamics as we have four freshmen on a small team of ten people. The team is very close now and has a great spirit, work ethic and resolve." She continued, “We had a great spring trip to California over break where we played some top competition including a 5-4 loss to the (then) No. 10 ranked Pomona College team.” The Brewers, though, are not content with these accomplishments. Summarized Campbell, “[The team] still continues to improve individually and collectively each week... They see the improvement and know we can continue to reach other team goals such as winning the Liberty League Championship and qualifying for the NCAA Championship.”
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
he NBA regular season is nearly over, which means it is about that time when everyone agonizes over the season’s awards. In particular, fans and columnists alike are debating who should win the Most Valuable Player. Some columnists, such as Bill Simmons of Grantland, contend that this is one of those seasons when a player will win MVP by default. The argument goes as follows: it is a strike-shortened season, and the league’s quality of play has decreased, as we can see by the decrease in scoring. Quite simply, I disagree: LeBron James is very clearly the MVP this year. The media loves storylines, and as a result it sometimes creates its own. Last year, for instance, when Derrick Rose became one of the top players in the NBA as the Bulls came in first place in the Eastern Conference, the media, who vote on all NBA awards, decided that it was more interesting to name Rose the MVP than to give it to James, who had won the previous two seasons, despite James outplaying him statistically last season. It is the same reason that Charles Barkley won the 1993 MVP and Karl Malone won the 1997 MVP, both instead of the more deserving Michael Jordan: it is much more interesting when different players win the MVP, and it creates a narrative that those who cover the NBA can use to their advantage. Even though Jordan deserved eight or nine MVPs, he “only” won five because other players needed to be rewarded by the media. James is a strongly polarizing figure because he is considered a postseason “choker” and was widely derided for the way in which he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010. Because of this, many NBA fans and observers refuse to recognize that James is not only the best player in the league, but also is the most valuable to his team in the regular season. Despite the fact that James’ best teammate, Dwyane Wade, missed thirteen games, and despite only two other players on the Heat besides James having an above average Player Efficiency Rating (PER), the Heat are 43-17 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. This Miami team does not have any depth, and does not even have a starting-caliber center. James is the reason that the Heat is a serious contender to win the NBA championship; Chris Bosh more of a very good third wheel than he is a member of Miami “Big Three.” Whether you choose to examine basic or advanced statistics, James is clearly the best player this season. In just under 38 minutes per game, James is averaging 27.1 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, and 6.3 assists per game. He also averages 1.9 steals per game and is shooting nearly 53 percent from the floor, despite taking more shots than nearly anybody else in the NBA. In addition, James is first in the NBA with a 30.5 PER, first with 13.6 Win Shares, seventh in Offensive Rating, and eleventh in Defensive Rating. To sum all up all of those statistics, James has dominated both offensively and defensively on a level which no other player can match. Some people may not like James, but they should at least respect that during the regular season, when the media votes on the awards, he is consistently both the best and most valuable player in the league, and it is not particularly close. Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Kevin Love (before he got hurt) have all had great seasons of their own and should be recognized with selection to the All-NBA teams that also are voted upon after the regular season is completed. However, just because James did not play well in an NBA Finals game last season does not mean that he should be penalized for MVP this season, just as some other player should not be undeservingly rewarded simply for not being James.
April 19 , 2012
Track freshmen quickly adapt to running at Vassar
Rachel Garbade for The Miscellany News
From left to right, Payton Johnson ’15, Heather Ingraham ’15 and Ariel Bridges ’15 have started their rookie season on the women’s track team with a bang, qualifying for the ECAC championship meet. Tina Caso
n the midst of a strong season, the women’s track team boasts a roster of talented athletes. Three of these athletes—Ariel Bridges ’15, Payton Johnson ’15 and Heather Ingraham ’15–have come into their rookie season with a bang. The three freshmen are emerging as diligent and driven runners, have been succeeding in their respective specialties, and have all qualified for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship meet. Bridges is also a member of the women’s soccer team, and has been playing since age 11. Track wasn’t introduced as a part of her life until her freshmen year of high school in Grapevine, Texas where she was a district champion in long jump. She left the sports world to focus on competitive speaking, however, during her junior
and senior years and ended with a finalist position in humorous and dramatic interpretation. Her love of track didn’t leave her during her two-year sabbatical from the sport, and Bridges originally intended to run for a Division I school. “In the end I realized that that wasn’t what I wanted in my college experience,” Bridges explained in an emailed statement. “I had spent all of my youth playing sports and I wanted more time to focus on the more artsy things that I loved as well as focus on getting a good education. When I got recruited to play soccer at Vassar it was literally the best thing that could’ve happened. The campus is beautiful, the people are so nice, and it has the perfect balance between school, sports, and art that I need.” Vassar’s balance of sports and academics was also appealing for Johnson, who hails from
Muskogee, Okla. Besides having a strong track program, she was drawn to the school for its short distance from New York City and also lists the film department, dance theater and small size as her reasons for choosing Vassar. Coming off of an extremely successful high school career in track, in which she went to state championships in 2008 and was a captain her junior year, Johnson has been happy with her time here at Vassar thus far. Comparing the Vassar track team to her experience in high school, she stated that, “For most of [the high school team] track meets were weekly getaways from class and homework, but for me it was so much more than that, because I had such specific goals I’d made and absolutely had to meet.” She continued, saying that “Similarly, I believe that’s the blanket demeanor of VC’s track program—we’re a very goal-oriented team, and because each of us is working toward our specific goals, we can relate to each other on a more intimate emotional and mental level; therefore everyone’s so sincerely supportive of each other, because we can all identify with the struggle, the highs and lows.” Ingraham also thrived in this atmosphere, saying that “everyone on the team has been so welcoming and supportive of one another. It’s nice to always have a support system full of people who are always encouraging you and want you to do your best.” Ingraham, from Cromwell, Conn. was named as Rookie of the Week by the Liberty League two times, and was recognized for her performances at the Ramapo Invitational where she beat a school record in the 400 meter dash and qualified for ECACs with a time of 59.94. In regards to these accomplishments, Ingraham wrote that, “It feels really good to see our hard work pay off, and it makes me feel like I’m moving in a positive direction. The Liberty League has also recognized Bridges as Rookie of the Week twice since the spring season began. Just last weekend, she managed to break three school records at Vassar’s April Invitational in the 200 meter dash,
long jump and shot put. She, however, lists her most memorable moment in the season as when she broke the original 200 meter school record for the first time at her very first meet. She also mentions being part of the team’s 4x400 squad as one of her greatest memories. Johnson, in an emailed statement, agreed, saying that “Our 4x400 was initially a bit of a fruit salad: from week-to-week, we’d have no idea which four women would be running it, let alone the leg order…So, running for the first time, together, as a 4x400…qualifying for ECACs, already, at the Ramapo meet was so shocking and fantastic.” The 4x400 team consisted of Bridges, Ingraham, Johnson and junior Tiffany Marchell. As for their remaining time on the track team, the women are looking to push their boundaries and continue expanding both on and off the track. Bridges summarized her optimistic outlook, noting, “I want to inspire [the team] to be better...I look up to the people who have taught me things or inspired me to be better, so I think it’s important to give back!” She continued, writing that “Vassar has already taught me so much about myself and it’s something I find very beautiful and priceless!” Johnson has a similar outlook and explains, “I suppose the role I’m forming for myself on the team is ‘the tackler’…I’ve ironically started falling in love with the open 800 meter and developed a co-dependent relationship with the 400. The most recent weeks have been all about challenging myself, my endurance, stamina and tenacity…I always find myself really unsure of my capability, but regardless, by the end of them, I find that I’ve somehow tackled them and ended up with good results.” Head coach James McCowan also noted that “All of these women have tremendous potential, and our competitive goals are high–I firmly believe we can see them representing Vassar well in League, ECAC and NCAA competition… We have a bright future in our young Vassar track program, not only with these three, but will all of our exceptional freshman class, and all of our dedicated upperclassmen.”
In 18-year career, Finerghty reinvigorates lacrosse team Jessica Tarantine FeatuRes editoR
Katie De Heras for The Miscellany News
n her 18 years as head coach of the women’s lacrosse team, Judy Finerghty has led the women’s lacrosse team to its first pass to the post season tournament, a win at the Seven Sisters tournament for the first time in twenty years and a bid to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. While her career coaching lacrosse at Vassar has been successful, she entered the sport fairly late in life. “My high school didn’t have lacrosse, so I played basketball in college, but became intrigued with [lacrosse],” wrote Finerghty in an emailed statement, “So I picked it up while in college and fell in love with the sport.” During her time playing in college at Guilford College (Md.), she would earn MVP status in 1987 and would also win the Richard Joyce Sportsmanship Award during that same year. After a successful college career, Finerghty would become the Assistant Head Coach at William Smith College for two years and then later at Bates College, also for two years. “I actually interviewed at Vassar twice. The first time the lacrosse coaching position was only part-time and I could not afford to take the job,” wrote Finerghty, “It was disappointing because I was taken by the campus and the students.” Instead Finerghty took a job as the head coach at the University of Albany, before arriving at Vassar to serve as the program’s head coach in 1994. She also served as the head coach for the women’s field hockey team for 15 seasons before becoming the Assistant Coach in 2009. In addition to her duties on the sports field, Fingerty is also an Associate Professor in the Physical Education Department. She teaches two classes: Introduction to Athletic Injury Care, which includes a lab component and in the field practicals, as well as Nutrition and Exercise. Outside of the classroom, Finerghty has been named Liberty League Coach of the Year
in both 2005 and 2007. But despite her strong record in recent years, she explained that the program and the game have changed a great deal over her 18 year career-span at Vassar, requiring varying skills and techniques. “Vassar lacrosse is completely different than it was 18 years ago,” wrote Finerghty. “Then we had many players who were new to the sport, so we spent the majority of our time teaching and learning basic skills,” wrote Finerghty, “[Now] we have physically stronger athletes and most of our players have experience competing at both the high school and club level.” Finerghty also explained that the game itself had also changed over her years at Vassar, “18 years ago there were no side or endlines for boundaries, no restraining line or off sides calls and fewer enforced rules about when an attacker can safely shoot.” said Finerghty. “We also now have two minute yellow card penalties (power plays) where the offending team plays a player down at either end of the field during the two minutes,” she continued. The new rules have changed the dynamic of the sport, and have lead to a game that requires a greater amount of skill and technique to be successful. “The game is evolving quickly and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country so I expect to see many more innovations in the sport in the next ten years, especially with regard to equipment and new skills,” said Finerghty. For Vassar specifically, the advent of the team’s involvement in the Liberty League has been significant. “Our entrance into the Liberty League has also given our program a much more competitive game schedule and league play is always both a highlight and our biggest challenge.” So far this season, the team’s record is 5-6 and 2-3 in in-conference games as they currently hold a two-game Liberty League winning streak, with their most recent victory a 13-5 win over Bard College this past Tuesday.
Head Coach of the women’s lacrosse team Judy Finerghty, pictured center, also serves as an Associate Professor of the Physical Education Department. She has been coaching at Vassar for 18 years. In regards to the rest of the season, Finerghty stated, “I look forward to seeing the continuing development of the team. They are unselfish group who play well together and we are working to polish parts of our game such as being aggressive in moving the ball on offense and defending as a unit.” Finerghty was also proud of her team’s accomplishments off the field. “They finished first in the nation two out of the last three years for having the highest cumulative GPA in all of NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse,” said Finerghty, “They finished number one in both 2009 and 2011, and third in 2010. Their fall collective GPA this year was a 3.54. The team also does community service each year and they are a fantastic bunch of young women to be around.” But this year was not without its specific
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challenges and rewards. “We have a large team this year so integrating nine freshmen has gone well. They are learning our new systems and the returners are helping them to develop,” said Finerghty, “We do have some new offenses and twists on some previously used defenses which we are continuing to develop.” Finerghty explained that building a strong team dynamic was also an important part of a successful season. “The team’s biggest strength is their trust in one another and it shows in the passing game on the field. With so many players, 27, building playing chemistry is a challenge but it is something that everyone feels strongly about,” said Finerghty. Overall she was optimistic for the rest of the season, “It’s a beautiful sport to watch and I love seeing our team performing every day.”