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The Miscellany News Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com

February 4, 2010

Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY

Volume CXLIII | Issue 13

College has no plans to name cut professors Ruby Cramer

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Editor in Chief

“Because I dealt as a 20-year-old with College administrators, I learned how to express myself in the face of authority.” Rick Lazio ’80, Candidate for NY Governor

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lthough it was announced last December that a total of 19 non-tenuretrack faculty have not had their contracts renewed for the following year, questions remain among students and professors alike as to who those 19 professors are and in what department they teach. In fact, not one member of the campus community—save for top College officials—could outline information regarding the names and respective departments of professors who will be leaving their teaching posts at the College. As a result, many have been left confused about what “19

unrenewed non-tenure-track contracts” will actually mean for the curriculum, and about how that statistic will have an effect on individual departments. Chair of the Religion Department and Associate Professor of Religion Michael Walsh explained that, even as a chair of a major department, he “doesn’t have a full grasp of what’s happening in departments across the curriculum.” “All that I do know is solely by word of mouth and conversation,” he continued. “I’m unclear whether the Office of the Dean of the Faculty can even release names, but ideally I would love to know exactly who will be let go, See FACULTY on page 9

Lisa Kudrow ’85 is honored at the 2009 Streamy Awards for her work in Web Therapy, an online television series. Kudrow accepted President Hill’s invitation to deliver the Commencement address on May 23 at the 146th Commencement ceremony.

Kudrow to address graduates performances in Friends, The Comeback, Analyze This, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and The Opposite Sex. Known for her range in genre, Kudrow has infused her career with what The New York Times called “a perfect balance of drama and humor.” The invitation to speak this spring was made by President of the College Catharine Bond Hill after an extensive list of suggested speakers was generated this fall by a joint group of students, faculty

Ruby Cramer

Editor in Chief

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isa Kudrow ’85, winner of an Emmy Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her work in the television phenomenon Friends, has accepted Vassar’s invitation to deliver the 2010 Commencement address. Now a trustee of the College, Kudrow graduated from Vassar with a degree in biology before going on to garner over 50 acting awards and nominations for

Vassar grad a top contender in NY gubernatorial race Public art vandalized Matthew Brock News Editor

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n Nov. 2, 2010, Vassar students may have the option to vote for Vassar alumnus Enrico “Rick” Lazio ’80 for New York State Governor. Lazio declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination on Sept. 21 and is running on a fiscally conservative platform. Despite the

fact that the Vassar campus is traditionally liberal and that, as a Republican, Lazio would seem to go against the grain of Vassar political norms, he sees himself as liberal in many social areas and did not come under fire for his ideals while at Vassar. In an exclusive interview with The Miscellany News, See LAZIO on page 5

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorses Republican Rick Lazio ’80 for N.Y. governor at a news conference on Dec. 22.

Inside this issue

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OPINIONS

Students comment on recent cancelation of summer abroax`d

Carrie Hojnciki

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Arts Editor

rt is everywhere at Vassar: in the classroom, in the practice rooms of Skinner Hall of Music, in Kenyon Hall’s dance studios and outdoors, dispersed amidst our idyllic campus landscape. With the destruction and vandalism of more than six outdoor student sculpture pieces over the past three semesters, it seems this artistic omnipresence has been hit with its fair share of animosity. Perhaps the most recent case of vandalism in the minds of students is the bunker sculpture that lined the path from Main Building to the Thompson Memorial Library during exam week. The sculpture, a collaborative piece by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art Tyler Rowland’s ’00 Sculpture I class, took the form of a bunker and housed a figure that was presumably the late, great Matthew Vassar, top hat and all. The piece featured an audio component, looped on an iPod that was padlocked within the bunker. For most, the sculpture was a wel-

comed diversion, a point of interest en route to and from the Library. However, for one person it meant a free iPod. Just days after its completion, the sculpture’s Plexiglas window was punched through, and the iPod was gone. “I was shocked,” recounted Sculpture I student Sierra Starr ’12 of her initial reaction. This was Starr’s first experience creating a public work. Meanwhile, Rowland, professor and veteran sculptor, had a more nonplussed opinion on the theft. “I guess I wasn’t surprised. On this campus, there are people from the town who come in. There are drunk students from Thursday through the weekend. It wasn’t a total surprise,” explained Rowland. Having observed the anonymous destruction of many public and interactive works, both his own and others’, Rowland presented his four perceived categories of destruction: vandalism, theft, censorship and complete annihilation. “To me, there are different types of See VANDALISM on page 15

“I don’t think people are aware that there is a lot of work that goes into these pieces. There is a lot of pride — Tyler Rowland when you make something.”

15 ARTS

English Professor Paul Russel’s novel adapted for stage

19 SPORTS

and administrators, including Class of 2010 President Selina Strasburger, Professor of History Rebecca Edwards, Associate Professor of Chemistry Christopher Smart, Associate Professor of Music Kathryn Libin, Assistant to the President John Feroe and Director of Campus Activities Teresa Quinn. “Lisa is a natural choice, and I’m thrilled she has agreed to be the speaker,” said Hill in an interview with The See KUDROW on page 5

Vassar receives unprecedented number of apps Xiaoyuan Ren

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Guest Reporter

fter a final meeting of all Office of Admissions officials on Jan. 25, Early Decision (ED) II applications for the Vassar Class of 2014 went through a last round of scrutiny. The entire Early Decision enrollment of the Class of 2014 has finally been settled. A total of 639 students applied to Vassar College through ED; of those, 379 students applied ED I, and 260 applied ED II. The total is slightly higher than last year’s total count of 596 applicants. Of this year’s applicants, 265 students were accepted. This acceptance rate, 41.5 percent, is slightly lower than last year’s 44.1 percent. In general, the rate of acceptance for ED applicants is higher than the rate for the entire applicant pool. For example, the acceptance rate for the entire Class of 2013 was 25 percent. According to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid David Borus, “students who apply through Early Decision indicate that their first choice is Vassar, and the early dates also placed a harsher time constraint for them.” Borus thinks these reasons make it logical to accept a higher percentage of See ADMISSIONS on page 3

Sports columnist offers Super Bowl XLIV predictions


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The Miscellany News

February 4, 2010

Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News

Editor in Chief Ruby Cramer Senior Editor Molly Turpin

Contributing Editors Caitlin Halasz Chloe McConnell Elizabeth Pacheco

News Matthew Brock Jillian Scharr Opinions Angela Aiuto Kelly Shortridge Features Kelly Stout Arts Carrie Hojnicki Erik Lorenzsonn Design Eric Estes Online Elizabeth Jordan Copy Katie Cornish Lila Teeters Photography Kathleen Mehocic Managing Eliza Hartley

Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News

Assistant News Assistant Opinions Assistant Sports Assistant Online Assistant Copy Assistant Photo Crossword Editor Reporters

Photos of the Week: Men’s basketball fell 87-58 against Union College on Jan. 30. With multiple injuries, the team has faced a very difficult season. To read more about men’s basketball see “Coaches corner with Del Harris” on pg. 19.

Staff Editorial | Gov. Patterson’s cut to TAP disregards importance of educational access E

arlier this month, New York’s governor David Patterson announced significant cuts to the State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) in his 2010-11 executive budget. Besides disagreeing with Gov. Patterson’s decision, The Miscellany News feels that the cuts demonstrate the Governor’s lack of commitment to educational access for New York State, and furthermore, we encourage state senators and assembly members not to support these cuts when they come before the legislature later this spring. Despite the possible changes these cuts will have on New York state college students, the good news is that those Vassar students receiving financial aid will be minimally affected, given that the cuts will only affect students from New York attending school in the State. The Governor has proposed to eliminate $75 of funding per financial award, which is significant, but likely not prohibitive for students wishing to attend college. Those students that the cuts do affect will receive increased aid from Vassar to make up for the cuts. While Vassar students can remain relieved, the College will be required to increase spending for financial aid. Vassar will have to pick up the tab for between $17,000 and $34,000 in total non-meritbased TAP losses. Those Vassar students, however, who currently receive merit-based scholarships through TAP will see a loss in funding. Vassar’s policy not to award merit-based scholarships makes it impossible for the College to make up for the additional cost students will incur. (For more information on the TAP cuts see page 4 (“Changes to New York TAP program will not affect Vassar”). Furthermore, the cuts send a strong message about the degree to

which the governor values educational access and is willing to help subsidize financial aid for students. The governor’s consideration of the cost of sending students to college was short-sighted and ignores the long-term economic benefits of having a state full of educated adults. In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama directly addressed the importance of higher education and the state and federal financial assistance provided to students. Also important was his announcement of a legislative agenda that will allow students to pay back their loans while serving in the public sector. As economically unrealistic as subsidizing higher education may seem in the short term, Gov. Patterson must recognize the long term importance of investing in educational opportunity for New York’s students. It is worth praising the College at this time for its continuing commitment to financial aid. It is the hope of the Editorial Board of The Miscellany News that the College will continue its support of students from all economic backgrounds, even as that commitment becomes more difficult to matinain in the wake of state cuts. While the editorial board recognizes the need to cut back on state spending, The Miscellany News nevertheless urges the New York State legislature, particularly Assemblyman Joel Miller and Senator Stephen Saland of District 41, to stand by its students and consider both the message this type of cut sends and the effect it will have on students’ ability to afford higher education.

“The governor’s consideration of the cost of sending students to college was short-sighted and ignores the long-term economic benefits of having a state full of educated adults.”

—The Staff Editorial reflects the opinion of at least two-thirds of the 20-member Editorial Board.

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

Columnists Photographers

Caitlin Clevenger Joshua Rosen Andy Marmer Kara Voght Katharine Austin Sarah Marco Juliana Halpert Jonathan Garfinkel Thea Ballard Rachael Borné Esther Clowney Daniel Combs Mitchell Gilburne Wally Fisher Rose Hendricks David Lopez Christie Musket Danielle Nedivi Alexandra Sarrigorgiou Martin Bergman Steve Keller Nate Silver Nik Trkulja Patricia Cruz Gabriel Kelly-Ramirez Jared Saunders

LETTERS POLICY The Miscellany News is Vassar College’s weekly open forum for discussion of campus, local and national issues, and welcomes letters and opinions submissions from all readers. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 450 words, and they usually respond to a particular item or debate from the previous week’s issue. Opinions articles are longer pieces, up to 800 words, and take the form of a longer column. No letter or opinions article may be printed anonymously. If you are interested in contributing, e-mail misc@vassar.edu.

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.


NEWS

February 4, 2010

Page 3

VSA passes bylaws, clarifies endorsement process Caitlin Clevenger

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Assistant News Editor

he Jan. 31 Vassar Student Association (VSA) Council meeting resulted in two major changes to the VSA’s governing documents, as a constitutional amendment and a new bylaw were both passed unanimously. The Council added an amendment to Article VI, Section 3 of the VSA constitution, the section describing the functions of the VSA Council. The previous constitution allowed the Council to “issue official endorsements and position statements of the VSA,” but failed to elaborate on how to endorse a document brought to the Council by students, faculty or administrators. “We didn’t have a really great framework for how an average student or an average staff member would go about seeking VSA approval for [his or her] own idea,” said VSA Vice President for Operations Brian Farkas ’10, who introduced the amendment. The ambiguity in the constitution presented a problem on Nov. 22, when the Campus Solidarity Working Group presented the VSA with a letter criticizing Vassar’s curriculum and staff cuts. Given a deadline that forced Council members to make a decision without meeting with constituents, the Council voted to endorse the document during the same meeting in which it was presented. As petitioners had already signed the letter, the VSA was unable to change the text despite factual errors. The VSA Council wrote a memorandum the next week, saying that, “in some cases, this endorsement was more for the sentiments behind it than for the facts underlying it.” Both the endorsement and the memorandum drew criticism from the Vassar community. One of the key points in the new amendment is to mandate that “the vote to endorse must take place at least one week after the introduction of the document.” During the interval week, the document in question must be sent to the entire student body so Council

members can collect feedback. “We really shouldn’t have to deal with time pressure when we have 2,400 people that we’re supposed to represent, and the 20 [VSA Council members] have a hard time doing that if they don’t have a day to talk to their constituents,” said Farkas. The amendment also states that the Council can offer possible changes to a document submitted for endorsement. This suggests that the VSA can require corrections to parts of a document they do not wish to endorse, such as the inaccuracies in the Campus Solidarity Working Group’s letter. Farkas confirms, saying, “It empowers the Council to say…‘We’ll sign your document, but you have to make A, B, C changes or we’re not going to endorse it.’” The new framework for endorsing petitions and other documents brought to the VSA Council is intended to increase transparency within the VSA and to ensure that the VSA’s positions, as implied through endorsements, are correct representations of the opinion of Vassar’s student body. Also in Sunday’s Council meeting, the VSA Council voted to replace various articles and sections throughout the VSA bylaws with the rewritten Article I, Section 12, describing the functions of the Operations Committee. The newly-formed Operations Committee will absorb the members and duties of four previously existing committees related to VSA operations. This change, according to Farkas, is “the most significant change to the bylaws in at least four years.” Under the former bylaws, the VSA Vice President for Operations chaired two committees: the Appointments Committee and the Constitutional Review Committee. The Appointments Committee was responsible for reviewing applications and appointing students to positions within the VSA. The Constitutional Review Committee was responsible for evaluating and, if necessary, changing the VSA’s constitution and bylaws.

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The Vice President for Operations was the only member of the VSA Executive Board to chair two committees. By default, the Vice President for Operations also takes on the role of chair of the Audit Committee and the Board of Elections. The Audit Committee, chaired by the VSA Auditor, assesses inventory for student organizations. The Board of Elections oversees and regulates VSA elections in the fall and spring. The former bylaws recommended that a student independent of the VSA Council chair both of these Committees, but in recent years the VSA has struggled to find willing candidates. Farkas describes both positions as “thankless jobs.” Since the VSA has been unable to attract students to be members and chairs of the Audit Committee and Board of Elections, both groups have existed in name only, when in fact their entire mem-

bership comprised of the VSA Vice President for Operations. Under the new VSA bylaws, all four groups will be combined into one Operations Committee, chaired by the Vice President for Operations, which will perform the functions of all. This change is part of an overall effort to reform the VSA bylaws. Farkas claims that when he first came into office, “we had a lot of great policies and ideas [to change the bylaws], but there was not a sense of continuity.” Amendments made by VSA Councils over a number of years conflicted with each other or were redundant. Farkas’s goal is to significantly condense the bylaws so they are clear and easily understood, and the replacement of four groups by the Operations Committee helps to accomplish that goal, cutting the bylaws by over three pages.

Early admission rounds result in 265 acceptances ADMISSIONS continued from page 1 students from the ED pool. The ED Class of 2014 comes from high schools in 37 states, the District of Columbia and nine foreign countries. Borus expects that “when the entire class is chosen, it will include students from 45 or more states and about 25 foreign countries,” explaining that “while [the admitted ED students] certainly have similarly excellent academic credentials [as Regular Decision students], those who apply early tend to be somewhat less geographically diverse than the entire applicant pool…Most international students and many students from areas of the United States outside the east coast and/or major metropolitan areas are more likely to apply in the Regular Decision pool.” Such students tend to be somewhat less informed about colleges in this region. For example, while many students in major cities can readily travel to visit universities, other students will find it more demanding, and therefore have a difficult time choosing one particular college to which they would like to apply ED. According to Borus, the ED pool also tends to be somewhat less socioeconomically diverse than the overall pool, as some families wish to compare financial aid awards in the spring and are therefore reluctant to commit to a single college early. According to Borus, Vassar has always been known as having maintained a diverse student body. The Class of 2013 included students from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 33 foreign countries. This year, Vassar will continue to apply the criteria of cultural diversity to make the Class of 2014 thrive as a varied, but united whole. As the application process progresses, more incoming students will be filling out these diversity gaps. According to the data, around 35 percent of ED students are men and 65 percent are women. As

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

Borus puts it, “The Early Decision pool always contains a preponderance of female applicants, with the majority of men applying later in the process.” This ratio will become more balanced as the application process continues. In last year’s accepted class, 60 percent were female and 40 percent were male. Despite the current economic crisis and the ensuing budget cuts, Vassar College retains a need-blind policy for financial aid. This means that any student’s chance of being accepted would not be affected by their financial status. This year, 59 percent of the accepted ED students indicated that they were applying for financial aid, and the financial office will make sure to meet their needs 100 percent as demonstrated. Despite ongoing financial difficulties, affirms Borus, the College still intends to maintain a diverse class of high quality regardless of financial background. Borus postulates that, of the 265 students admitted from the ED process, one or two will probably decide not to enroll at Vassar, typically for financial reasons. Also, a few others will decide to defer their admission for a gap year and then come to Vassar in the fall of 2011 as a member the Class of 2015. Under these circumstances, approximately 260 of these students, ultimately, will become official members of the Class of 2014. As the ED application period draws to a close and as students around the world are reading their admission letters with great excitement, the Regular Decision application process goes on. This year, the overall number of freshman applications for the year is up more than three percent—or around 240 applications—from last year’s final total. As of this Monday, according to the data from Borus, the Office of Admissions has received 7,818 applications for the Class of 2014. “This is another all-time Vassar record,” Borus said.


NEWS

Page 4

February 4, 2010

Changes to New York TAP program will not affect Vassar Aashim Usgaonkar

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Guest Reporter

ew York State’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) took a serious blow on Tuesday, Jan. 16, when Governor David A. Paterson released his proposed 2010-2011 Executive Budget, which seeks to curb TAP funds significantly. TAP assists income-qualified students who would otherwise not be able to afford and attend college. Although a majority of Vassar students receive financial aid, the impact from this proposed cut on Vassar’s Financial Aid program would be negligible, according to Director of Financial Aid Michael Fraher, as it only provides aid to students who come from New York, and, further, because most students receive the bulk of their financial aid from the College itself. “Considering the state of the economy and its impact on the New York State budget, many of these measures are less draconian than those proposed in other tight economic times,” said Fraher, who emphasizes that whatever impact the budget cuts have on Vassar will be mostly negated by increases in the College’s own contribution to students’ aid packages. Echoing Fraher’s thoughts, co-Chair of the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid (CAFA) and Associate Professor of Psychology Janet Andrews commented in an e-mailed statement that some of the reductions were “irrelevant,” and that “Vassar will be able to replace other modest reductions [to TAP] without much difficulty.” “There is a commitment that Vassar students don’t suffer as a result of the changes to the TAP policies,” wrote Andrews. Each of the clauses laid out in Paterson’s budget proposals has been given due consideration by the Office of Financial Aid, which is preparing to increase aid packages in response to the proposed budget. Reduction in TAP awards by $75 The reduction of all TAP awards by $75 will result in the loss of between $17,000 and $34,000 in total TAP funds used by Vassar, depending

on whether the reduction is against annual awards or term awards. No distinction has yet been delineated by the Governor. Either way, Fraher is confident that Vassar would be able to make up for whatever reduction the new regulations impose. “Given our financial aid packaging policies, TAP recipients who are also eligible for Vassar scholarships will have their Vassar awards increased to cover the shortfall,” said Fraher. Over 200 Vassar students already receive these scholarships, currently totaling $55,000 in aid given each year. Private pension and annuity income inclusion in TAP eligibility determinations For individuals 59.5 years of age or older, the initial $20,000 of private pension and annuity income is currently excluded for the purpose of calculating TAP award eligibility levels. The newly proposed Executive Budget eliminates this exclusion. Although not sure about the exact number of students this change would affect, Fraher imagines it will have an impact on “very few” aid recipients. And the few that will face reductions in their TAP awards will receive additional awards from Vassar, thus negating any adverse impact on the aid packages. Increase in academic standards for continued TAP award eligibility The Executive Budget calls for an increase in the minimum academic standards for non-remedial students to maintain TAP eligibility. If the changes take effect, the students receiving TAP funds would have to earn at least 15 credits and a GPA of 1.8 or higher after two semesters of study at the college level, at a college that assigns the typical class four credits. The proposal claims that this change is established to “promote improved academic performance and on-time graduation.” This move would increase program efficiency by reducing the number of semesters that TAP pays for. “Given Vassar’s high academic standards,” Fraher doubts if this change will be an issue for students receiving aid at Vassar.

VSA Council criticizes cuts to summer abroad Executive Board to draft two resolutions­—one in favor of experintial learning and one supporting service-learning Jillian Scharr

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News Editor

he Vassar Student Association (VSA) discussed the cancellation of summer abroad language programs at its meeting last Sunday night, Jan. 31. According to VSA Vice President for Academics Stephanie Damon-Moore ’11, administrators felt that summer language programs “weren’t equitable to begin with,” as “it’s the College funding study in one area [language] and not in others.” Further, she said, the College “wasn’t sure, if they cut [the programs] back to something affordable, if it would still be worthwhile.” Nevertheless, the VSA Executive Board plans to draft two resolutions, one in favor of off-campus learning such as summer abroad programs, and the other in favor of service-learning experience, such as AFRS-290, Internship at Greenhaven and Otisville Prisons, said VSA President Caitlin Ly ’10 in a telephone interview. The first resolution is to be introduced to the VSA at large this Sunday. “In light of the summer programs being canceled there are so few options on campus to get out, whether it be in the community, in Poughkeepsie, or into a foreign country,” observed Ly, “[but] we really truly do value those experiences…I don’t know if the focus [of the resolution] will be on languages, but I think there is something incredibly valuable about students getting the opportunity to study somewhere other than Vassar during their time here.” The

VSA criticized the administration’s failure to announce the cuts to the campus. “The Miscellany News article was the only source of information,” observed Raymond House President Syed Samin Shehab ’11. The VSA was not aware that these cuts were to be made over break, assured Damon-Moore at Sunday night’s meeting. The possibility had been discussed in the Committee on Curricular Policy and the Advisory Group on the Allocation of Faculty Resources, both of whose members include staff, administrators and students. “But we didn’t vote on it; we didn’t make a final decision,” said Damon-Moore. Damon-Moore explained that the administration “wanted students who were most directly affected about [the cuts] to be informed first…that’s why there wasn’t an all-campus announcement.” According to Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger, reported Damon-Moore, “they felt really bad about the way things had been handled with the crew team, so… they wanted students who were most directly affected about [the cuts to the summer abroad programs] to be informed first.” Noyes House President Hannah GrochBegley ’12 added at the meeting, “I do question this insistence by the College …of informing the students in the [affected] departments as if they’re the only ones who care. We’re a liberal arts college; the point is that lots of students want to explore a lot of different areas…it’s something we need to start bringing up to them because it’s ridiculous and I would like it to change.”

Elimination of new merit award scholarships Among all others, this particular change holds the most significance to the students receiving grants from TAP because, according to College policy, Vassar’s financial aid cannot counteract it. The Executive Budget eliminates all new awards for the Scholarship for Academic Excellence, and for Math and Science Teacher Incentive Scholarship programs starting in the 2010-2011 academic year. At Vassar, there are over 130 students receiving a total of $103,000 in merit awards through TAP. Because of Vassar’s policies for scholarships, recipients of these types of awards reduce the self-help portion of the package. “The elimination of these awards by the Budget will not be made-up with Vassar scholarships,” said Fraher. Instead, since merit-based awards currently reduce the amount a student receives in subsidized loans, federal loans will increase to cover the missing amount. Some other clauses are not applicable to Vassar, or will have little to no impact to Vassar’s financial aid, and include the establishment of a Default Parity for TAP, elimination of TAP for graduate students and the creation of new TAP awarding schedules for “Certain Financially Independent Students.” These clauses relate to loans for students already in default on a loan, graduate students and students who are either legally emancipated or over 22 years old. Cumulatively, the Governor’s proposed cuts will not have a terribly negative impact on the amount of aid received by Vassar students. However, according to Vassar Student Association Vice President for Operations and member of CAFA Brian Farkas ’10, it is important for us to voice some form of remonstration against the “symbolic” act of cutting back on aid. “Ever since President Hill assumed office in 2006, she has transformed Vassar into a leader in providing financial aid; which is why, when we become aware of such cut-backs in government aid, it is our responsibility to address it

“There is a commitment that Vassar students will not suffer as a result of the changes to the TAP policies.” Janet Andrews Co-Chair of the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid (CAFA) and Associate Professor of Psychology

to the best of out ability, even if it doesn’t directly impact us to any appreciable degree,” said Farkas. History of TAP in the budget This is not the first time that the governor has considered cutting from TAP in order to close the State’s budget deficit. During the 2009-2010 fiscal year the governor proposed restrictions for which students are eligible to receive funds under the program, which was ultimately passed by the State legislature. These restrictions raised the minimum course requirement that students have to fulfill over two semesters from 9 credits to 15 credits, based on the one-hour-per-credit system, because students taking a lighter course load cannot graduate in the typical eight semesters. In addition, the minimum GPA requirement was increased from 1.2 to 1.8. Furthermore, under these changes publicsector pensions are used to calculate eligibility for TAP, while previously only private sector pensions were counted. These changes saved approximately $47 million for the State’s fiscal year, or $66 million over the academic year, which follows a different calendar.

This Week in Higher Ed by Ruby Cramer, Editor in Chief College endowments suffer worst year since Great Depression

Faced with declining gifts and significant investment losses, colleges and universities across the country have suffered their worst year since the Great Depression, according to a recent study of 842 endowments by the National Association of College & University Business Officers and the Commonfund Institute. Since the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2009, schools have sustained an average loss of 18.7 percent. While Vassar shows a negative 18.1 percent investment return on its endowment, many of its peers have suffered even greater losses; the study reports that Amherst College lost 23.4 percent, Wesleyan University lost 26.9 percent and Hamilton College lost 27.1 percent.

Williams ends no-loan policy

On Jan. 31, Williams College interim President William Wagner announced the College’s decision to end its no-loan policy, following discussions at trustee meetings during the preceding week. In his letter to the campus community, Wagner explained that neither current students nor incoming members of the Class of 2014 would be affected by the policy change. While families earning below a certain level of income will not be expected to borrow, remaining students will be granted loans on a sliding scale. The change is expected to save Williams approximately $2 million each year.

Online directory ranks most-visited college and university websites

On Jan. 27, 4icu.org, an online directory of colleges and universities worldwide, released their 2010 rankings for the 200 most-visited college and university websites. Topping the list was the site for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by Stanford University; Harvard University;

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; University of California, Berkeley; Peking University; University of Pennsylvania; Cornell University; Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Yale University.

Yale considers canceling New York Times subscription

The Yale Daily News reported last week that, in order to trim costs, the University would consider canceling its subscription to The New York Times. Currently funded by the President’s Office, each edition of the popular daily is typically stocked in dining halls and other public spaces on campus. Discussion of the issue began last Friday when the President’s Office requested that members of the Yale College Council (YCC) gauge student interest in reading the newspaper in print versus online. Following an informal poll of 28 YCC representatives that Sunday, the Council found that only 10 of those 28 undergraduates read the paper’s print edition. The YCC gave three possible recommendations to the President’s Office: to cut the number of papers to one-third of its current number delivered each weekday, to only deliver the paper on Sundays or to provide students with an online subscription to the paper once it begins charging a fee for access to nytimes.com in January 2011.

NYU to ban smoking near university campus entrances

Starting next fall, New York University (NYU) students will be prohibited from smoking within 15 feet of all university building entrances, reports The Washington Square News. The now-passed proposal was introduced last October and was supported by approximately 84 percent of NYU students, according to a poll administered by University officials last fall.


NEWS Goldman Sach’s chief lectures News Briefs on economic outlooks for 2010 February 4, 2010

Matthew Brock

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News Editor

tudents, faculty and administrators crammed into the seats of Taylor Hall 203 and overflowed into the aisles in order to hear Erik Nielsen, Goldman Sach’s chief European economist and managing director, deliver his economic forecast for the new year on Thursday, Jan. 28. The lecture, entitled “Outlook for the World in 2010: Exciting, with Risks!,” focused mainly on the future course of the current global economic crisis. “I hope that [2010 is] not as exciting as 2009,” joked President of the College Catharine Bond Hill as she introduced Nielsen. Nielsen began the lecture on a positive note. “It looks like this financial crisis is coming through the trough,” he said. “We’re actually back to four percent global growth, which is what we had before the global crisis.” According to Nielsen, the current crisis arose in the United States because of falling interest rates. “Who is better than anyone else to take advantage of the low interest rates? That’s the Americans. They know how to borrow like nobody else,” he said. “People said, ‘Wow, I can borrow more money at cheaper prices,’ and your house values went up like there was no tomorrow.” As the prices of houses rose, people with lower incomes found it impossible to buy homes, so banks began offering mortgages with no money down and extremely low interest rates—prompting people to spend more money than they could afford, causing them to begin defaulting on their loans. He went on to outline what he sees as the four major issues that the world economy will have to deal with over the coming months. The first issue is the withdrawal, or expiration, of government stimulus. “We have more fiscal and monetary stimulus than we have ever seen before, and that has to be withdrawn,” he said, indicating that government bailout programs will soon expire. The stimulus is too expensive to maintain and the flow of money from the government has to be staunched, but doing so will cause the economy to shrink again. For this reason, the United States is considering a second stimulus package. However, Nielsen assured the audience that after thestimulus is withdrawn, even without a second stimulus package, economic growth would eventually level out. The second issue facing the global economy, according to Nielsen, is unemployment. “Unemployment has obviously not peaked

yet,” he said. However, “there’s nothing so dramatic about the fact that unemployment is still increasing for a bit,” he continued, indicating that most recessions follow this pattern. The next issue is the global imbalance that arose as a result of the financial crisis with BRIC countries—countries that follow the pattern of Brazil, Russia, India and China— surging ahead of the United States and Europe. At present, it is unclear if the United States will be able to maintain its position as the world’s economic leader. His fourth and last concern related to deleveraging, regulation and taxation– “regulatory restrictions will be tightened, and taxation will be tightened,” he explained, meaning that the government will hold stricter control over the operations of financial institutions and increase taxes. The question becomes whether or not financial institutions will be able to recover given these changes. Nielsen then turned his attention to the large deficits being accumulated by Europe and the United States. “The U.S. government had public debt equal to 200 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) after the First World War,” he explained. This precedent of debt twice the size of GDP is astronomical even compared to the present debt. “A big deficit is not the end of the world, but you’ve got to get growth to get rid of it.” The only other option for decreasing the debt, according to Nielsen, would be by increasing inflation. However, “the only country in the world today that could inflate itself out [of debt] is the United States because you’ve borrowed a lot of your own currency from China.” Inflation would decrease the value of the dollar and therefore decrease the U.S. government’s debt to China, which is measured in dollars. Other countries do not owe money in the form of their domestic currency, so inflation would just decrease the value of their money, thus making them poorer. In addition, the United States may be better able to recover from this crisis than Europe because it has historically had higher levels of growth. “This crisis has possibly become the biggest game-changer for Europe…for the simple reason that Europe doesn’t grow very much compared to the United States,” he said. “This is all due to {population] growth. You have high birth rates and immigration rates.” However, these trends may be shifting; so, overall, the path that the United States and the world’s economic recovery will take is unclear.

Page 5

Packed Party

Failed Attempts

An unregistered party took place in a Town House on Jan. 29. When Security officers arrived, they found open beer cans scattered throughout the house, and they broke up the party. The approximately 75 people in the Town House dispersed. —Caitlin Clevenger, Assistant News Editor

On Jan. 29, Security responded to a noise complaint on the first floor of Josselyn House. From outside the room, they could smell marijuana, and inside they found the windows open, a fan blowing outward and a towel covering the bottom of the door. The four students in the room were cooperative with the Security officers. —C.C.

Noyesy Night Security responded to three noise complaints the morning of Jan. 30 in Noyes House, Main House and the Town Houses. —C.C.

Vassar graduate Lisa Kudrow to be 2010 Commencement speaker KUDROW continued from page 1 Miscellany News on Tuesday, Feb. 2. “She brings the excitement of her work as an Emmy Award-winning actor, and her other work in the entertainment industry, as well as her dedication and commitment to Vassar through serving on the Board of Trustees.” Aside from her fulfilling fiduciary duties to the College as a member of the Board of Trustees, Kudrow has been an active participant in the Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater summer program, and has even made cameo appearances in College Relation’s “Fourth Floor Main” webisodes. Although as a child Kudrow dreamt of a career in acting, she developed a passion for research biology under the Vassar College science program. “When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be an actress,” explained Kudrow in a 2009 interview with College Relations, “and in junior high I used to make up little sketches and do a lot of drama, and I liked it a lot. But then in high school and at Vassar, I decided I was going to do something that I had respect for.” So, she explained, she began her studies in biology. Once in a 1995 interview, Kudrow told a New York Times reporter that she found Vassar sciences so challenging that she “studied for about 10 hours a day.” Though Kudrow began her career in acting only months after her 1985 graduation from the College, she held tight to her love of Vassar sciences. “I loved taking biology here,” said Kudrow to College Relations. “Especially at Vassar, the Biology Department is very creative—it’s not dry science. It’s very creative work.”

Following her graduation, Kudrow was accepted to the Groundlings, a renowned improvisional comedy troupe based in Los Angeles, Calif. Her performance in the sketch group led to early-career appearances on Cheers, Coach, Bob and, eventually, Mad About You. In 1994, Kudrow began her decade-long run on the hit sitcom Friends, where she was the first of the six castmates to win an Emmy Award and became the highest-paid television actress in 2005, grossing $1 million per episode for the penultimate and final seasons of the show. Strasburger, who will speak before Kudrow at Vassar’s 146th Commencement ceremony, explained that she’s grateful that the 2010 speaker will be a Vassar graduate who can relate to “the Vassar experience.” “One of the reasons I’m excited about this is that it’s great we’re having a speaker that has a Vassar connection,” said Strasburger. “There’s a lot to be said for someone having the Vassar experience who’s been at Vassar, who’s taken the classes and who will give a talk that really connects back to our college. If anyone can show what can be done with a Vassar education, it’s definitely Lisa Kudrow.” Strasburgur continued, predicting that Kudrow’s address will “be humorous, but also have an important message to offer,” she said. “It’s important to have someone that students can connect with and that students can be excited about. She’s feisty, and the Class of 2010 is definitely feisty.” “She’s got a great sense of humor,” added Hill, “and believes in Vassar and its mission. She’s a loyal friend of the College and she’ll do a wonderful job.”

Candidate for NY governor Lazio reflects on time at Vassar LAZIO continued from page 1 Lazio stated, “I still feel like I am open to lots of different points of view. I happen to be a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, proenvironmental Republican, which for some folks is an anomaly. But for most people, I think that they could easily come to terms with somebody who could say, ‘I believe that we should live within our means. I believe that we should have balanced budgets. I believe that we should have a tax policy that encourages investment and growth.’” Lazio maintains a connection to his alma mater and said that he would be willing to speak at Vassar if he were to be invited. In his interview with the Miscellany, Lazio fondly recalled his favorite Vassar haunts. Though he enjoyed Matthew’s Mug, Lazio said that Cushing House was his favorite spot on campus. “I spent my freshman year in Cushing, so I love Cushing,” he explained. “My freshman roommate ended up being the best man at my wedding, and we’re still best friends. I had my first love there, so I guess Cushing was a very special place for me.” Vassar did not only foster Lazio’s social life and social ideals; he also grew as a public leader his extracurricular pursuits. He served on the Student Senate, a precursor to the Vassar Student Association. In this position, he was required to interact with various professors and administra-

tors, which helped prepare him for a career in politics. “Because I sat in the room as a 20-yearold guy with people of authority in senior spots in the College, I really learned how to express myself in the face of authority and not to be shy about advocating a point of view even if it wasn’t the most popular point of view,” he said. As a fiscal conservative, Lazio has focused most of his criticism of Governor David A. Paterson’s administration on its high spending and taxes, and on the negative effects of the current economic crisis on New York’s job market. However, despite his conservatism, Lazio said that he would try to avoid cutting funding from the Tuition Assistance Program and other state-sponsored financial aid programs. “One of the greatest assets that New York has are its centers of higher learning, and the way forward is to make sure that we use these colleges and universities as a catalyst for economic development,” he said. In order to reign in spending, Lazio’s platform includes calling for a hiring freeze on government employees, a cap on property taxes and policies that do not require local governments to increase spending. “The first order of business is to get our financial house in order. We’ve got a structural deficit that needs to be closed, but it’s equally important to me to restore confidence in government, so that means an overhaul of our ethics laws,”

said Lazio of his plans should he be elected. Beyond the budget, Lazio believes that investigating the ethics of the state government is an important step in gaining the trust of the government’s constituents. “[Constituents] don’t think that people who serve as politicians, that are in public office, are watching out for the average citizens, and we need to have a political system that’s open, transparent,” continued Lazio. “It means we have to deal with conflict of interest laws. It means we need to deal with campaign finance issues; in short, from top to bottom, we need an overhaul of the way Albany does business.” However, being in a position to make significant decisions is still a while away for this gubernatorial hopeful as he faces stiff competition from the Democratic nominees. According to Professor of Political Science Richard Born, Lazio’s chances at success depend on whether incumbent Governor Patterson is the Democratic nominee. “If that is the case, Lazio will have a 50-50 shot,” said Born. Unfortunately for Lazio, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is ahead of both himself and Patterson in the polls, although Cuomo has yet to declare his candidacy. According to a Jan. 18 Rasmussen poll, if the election were held on that date, Lazio would lose to Patterson by a margin of 45 percent to 38 percent, a relatively small gap that could potentially reverse itself by Novem-

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

ber. Conversely, Lazio would lose to Cuomo by a margin of 54 percent to 35 percent, a much stronger indicator of the election’s likely outcome. However, according to Born, Lazio may still stand a fighting chance against Cuomo due to the opposition Cuomo may face from leaders of the black community after Cuomo defeats Patterson in the primary. Of course, “the biggest negative [for Cuomo] is the national decrepitude of the Democratic party,” said Born. Within his own party, Lazio is one of the only major candidates for the Republican nomination, though he has drawn wide opposition due to his decade-long absence from the political world. However, despite this opposition, Lazio had managed to gain the endorsement from nine county leaders, representing 25 percent of the state, thus assuring him a spot on the ballot. Lazio’s political experience includes four terms, from 1992-2000, as a congressman from Long Island. During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, he served as the Deputy Majority Whip and Assistant Majority Leader. He ran for Senate in 2000, losing to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Currently, he works as an Executive Vice President and lobbyist for JP Morgan Chase. —Additional reporting by Ruby Cramer, Editor in Chief


FEATURES

Page 6

February 4, 2010

President names loan forgiveness as national goal Danielle Gensburg

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Guest Reporter

Christie Chea/The Miscellany News

ast Wednesday, President of the United States Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union Address to members of the Senate and House of Representatives. He spoke about the current condition of the United States as well as his own legislative agenda and national priorities, including issues of healthcare, the economy, unemployment and job opportunities, clean energy and globalization. Among the many important issues, the one that will perhaps affect Vassar students the most is that concerning the federal government’s policy on promoting higher education. Half way through his speech, Obama addressed his concern with education in the United States, stating, “We need to invest in the skills and education of our people. In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program in the world is a world-class education.” In the address, Obama discussed his initiative to “revitalize our community colleges,” recognizing the important role that community colleges play in providing educational and career opportunities for many middle class families. He likewise issues of student loan debt forgiveness, increasing Pell Grants and lowering the cost of tuition. With a statement that received bipartisan applause from the House chamber, Obama stated, “In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.” Specifically, Obama addressed those individuals whose student loan debt payments exceed their income, calling for a modification of the Income-Based Repayment Program (IBR) created in 2007. The IBR program forgives unpaid student federal loans after 10 years for those individuals working in public service and, for those working in the private sector, after 25 years at certain income levels. The current program caps the required monthly payment on federal student loans based on an individual’s income, family size and loan amount, thereby making the payments more affordable. Obama’s bill would modify the IBR program by capping federal student loan payments at 10 percent of the individual’s income and forgive unpaid loans after 20 years of payment for those in the private sector and still after 10 years for those in public service positions. The President further called for a new bill to end taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, Obama’s plan seeks to use that money to give a $10,000 tax credit directly See OBAMA on page 9

Rachel Hui ’10 researches in the Thompson Memorial Library for her senior thesis project, tentatively titled “Political challenges to Roma integration programs.” Hui will investigate policies that have forced Roma orphans—or children who are not getting adequate care—into orphanages.

Hui worlds away from subjects close to home Senior thesis project investigates marginalized Roma ‘gypsy’ group in Czech Republic Kelly Stout

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Features Editor

achel Hui ’10 would move permanently to the Czech Republic without thinking twice, but first she has to finish the draft of her senior thesis due this week. She arrived at her interview with The Miscellany News gracefully flustered. She apologetically explained that she accidentally deleted 10 pages of her political science thesis several hours prior and was scrambling to make it up. Hui is in the throes of a thesis on the Roma people of the Czech Republic, an ethnic minority that has faced and continues to face discrimination and exclusion from public life in Prague and its surrounding areas. “The word ‘gypsy’ has a pejorative meaning,” she explains, “they self-identify as Roma.” But to most in the United States, the word “Roma” doesn’t summon much familiarity. To Hui, the lack of recognition by the rest of the world is part of what makes discrimination against the Roma people possible, and is propelling her thesis on integration projects for this group. Much of Hui’s research stems from work that began during her time in Prague in the fall of 2008. Originally from Singapore, Hui’s decision to study abroad was really one she

made in her final year of high school. Nevertheless, her decision to spend her junior semester studying abroad in Prague through a Council on International Educational Exchange program wasn’t an obvious one. She admits that she chose the program in part because it didn’t require prior knowledge of Czech. She had also briefly visited Prague as a tourist in her first year at Vassar, but was mostly unfamiliar with the social issues confronting the Roma. Upon her arrival in Prague, Hui sought out internship opportunities, but found herself pursuing volunteer work at an orphanage in the outskirts of Prague. “We were very close to the center of town,” she says, “so everything was very touristy and nice [where I was studying].” She saw the opportunity at the orphanage as “a chance to do something meaningful. So I got there, and I realized that all these children were not white. They were— all of them—gypsy children, Roma children.” According to Hui, the Roma experienced “a forgotten Holocaust” during World War II, in which “95 percent of [Europe’s Roma population] was massacred.” Hui found this information heartbreaking and highly relevant to the issues Roma people confront in the 2000s.

“No one doesn’t know about the Holocaust of the Jews,” says Hui, but for many around the world, the history of the extermination of the Roma people remains obscure. Hui became interested in the persecution of Roma people and the ways in which it continues into the present, particularly after the 1989 fall of communism during the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic. “In many ways, it’s not like things have changed [since before the fall of communism]” she says, “So many don’t know about how this history of persecution translates into exclusion and disadvantage for these people today. There are no longer signs [in storefronts] that say, ‘no dogs or gypsies,’” says Hui, but the attitude still pervades. “I was in disbelief about that,” she says. In her thesis, tentatively titled “Political Challenges to Roma Integration Programs,” Hui will investigate policies that have forced Roma orphans—many of whom are not actually orphans, but are rather children who, by the state’s designation, are not getting adequate care in their biological families—into orphanages. Hui sees the case of the orphans as an illustration of one of many problems See HUI on page 8

UNITE after-school program to empower Poughkeepsie girls Ellen Xie

Guest Reporter

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assar students and Poughkeepsie High School students share few similarities if any at all. But three Vassar students—Willa Conway ’10, Erica Licht ’10 and Stephanie Damon-Moore ’11—are quickly helping to blur the division. Inspired by their experiences at the prison internship program, in which Vassar students participated in an active dialogue with Otisville prisoners run by Professor of Religion and Africana Studies Lawrence Mamiya, the three have developed a program promoting similar discourse more locally. This time, the conversations between two seemingly unlikely groups will take place at Poughkeepsie High School. The topic? Issues of femininity and the voice of women. Liza Beth Urrico, a social worker at Poughkeepsie High School; Leslie Williams of the Urban Education Initiative; and Vassar’s Education Department faculty worked with Conway, Licht and Damon-Moore to establish this Poughkeepsie-Vassar link. The program’s witty acronym UNITE (You and I Teach Each Other) reflects the central theme— promoting understanding and conversation. The coordinators of the program imagine

UNITE as an after-school program free of academic and social burdens. According to Conway, “This is not academically orientated. We’re more interested in self-empowerment and self-expression”. The specifics of the curriculum remain indefinite, but the activities—including dance, art and music—revolve around a central theme of self-reflection and understanding. UNITE hopes to provide an “all-female space” for the 12 Poughkeepsie High School women and the 12 Vassar women to discuss topics ranging from sexuality and body image to community roles. The coordinators hope the program will serve as a venue for friendship and support, but also a space in which traditionally quiet voices might be heard. According to Damon-Moore, “I’m excited about the opportunity to be open and real about everything.” Conway, Licht and Damon-Moore’s participation in Otisville medium-security prison’s Bridging the Gap program deeply affected them. Conway described her interaction with the inmates, “The conversation that came up was really, really powerful for all of us.” Along with this shared experience, each leader contributes her own experiences and insights to the

program. Licht worked on the natural grounds of Wyoming with middle and high school students from Washington, D.C.; Damon-Moore participated in Alternative to Violence, a program that focuses on the methods of communication with prisoners; and Conway helped in Vassar after School Tutoring at Poughkeepsie Middle School, taught English for a summer and worked with a women’s recovery and empowerment organization. “Leslie Williams hooked us all together,” said Conway, but the similarity of their interests seems natural. The Vassar students’ interest in women’s issues, their “deep love for Poughkeepsie” and their desire to work outside the classroom led them to step off the Vassar campus and create such a program. Conway lauded, “It’s awesome to have a professor that emphasizes practice.” The coordinators stress the final two words of “You and I Teach Each Other,” emphasizing the importance of mutual learning. The young high school and college women share some similarities, but all possess varying outlooks, backgrounds and experiences. While the high school students gain insight from college students, the college students also get a chance to

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

put their theoretical knowledge into practice. Perhaps this relationship will build a bridge linking Vassar to at least part of the Poughkeepsie community. But, according to the coordinators of UNITE, this gap is one that may not be easy to close, despite Poughkeepsie High School’s location a mere two blocks away from the College. Conway said, “There is a stigma about Poughkeepsie. [Vassar students] don’t even get to Main Street.” Conway hopes that through UNITE, individuals will form solid, meaningful relationships beyond the “community service projects.” A stronger link between Poughkeepsie and Vassar communities may follow. Whether the outcome satisfies all these expectations or not, one thing is clear: The program has huge potential. The leaders of the program can barely contain their excitement. After endless paperwork, e-mails and phone calls, UNITE is becoming reality. The program currently consists of a batch of passion with a dash of anticipatory nerves. Soon the Vassar students will meet the chosen Poughkeepsie High School students. With a fresh start comes unprecedented excitement, arousal of the spirit. You and I Teach Each Other; let’s get ready to learn.


FEATURES

February 4, 2010

Page 7

Slow down with Super Bowl Sunday pulled pork Nate Silver

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Columnist

Pulled Pork »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »»

4 lb. Boston Pork Butt 1 T salt 2 t. chili powder 1 t. garlic powder 1 t. onion powder 1 t. Italian seasoning 1/2 t. cayenne pepper 1 t. fresh ground black pepper 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly 2 t. Worcestershire sauce 5 club rolls

1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, cayenne and black pepper. Place the pork butt on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Massage the spice rub into the pork butt, being sure to coat the entire piece of pork. Slice a few small slits into the top of the pork and stuff in the sliced garlic. Pour the Worcestershire sauce over the pork and rub it into the meat. 2. Fill the roasting pan with enough water so that it almost touches the pork on the rack, but does not. Roast the pork for 8-10 hours (more is totally fine) until it easily pulls apart when prodded with a fork. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest 15-20 minutes. After resting, gently use two forks to shred the meat; if it’s cool enough to handle, your fingers work quite well too. 3. Pour some of the barbecue sauce over the shredded pork and stir, until you reach your desired consistency. Odds are you’ll use 1/2 - 3/4 of the sauce; reserve rest for your other barbecue needs. Serve on toasted club rolls.

Kelley Van Dilla/The Miscellany News

s Drew Brees and Peyton Manning face off in what promises to be an epic Super Bowl XLIV, I’ll be eating. Yes, I love a good football game, and I’m a fan of the morning-after conversation about the commercials at the water cooler, but Super Bowl Sunday is about eating as much as it is about burly men smacking into each other and The Who’s final hurrah. In my column this week, there will be no discussion about the health benefits of certain winter greens or advice on which grains provide you the most complete protein. This week is about lounging around, watching football and munching on some game-time comfort food. Great as the old pigskin is on Super Bowl Sunday, the part of the pig that matters most to me is not actually the skin, which is why this week I give you pulled pork. The most important ingredient for pulled pork is time. It’s a deceptively simple recipe, one that I’m sure you’ll be shocked is so easy, but it requires some serious planning ahead. If you want to enjoy some pulled pork during the Super Bowl, you’ll need to have it in the oven as soon as you wake up on Sunday, which means you should do your game day shopping on Saturday, which means you should make your grocery list on Friday, which means you should decide what to make right now. I’ve let pulled pork cook for as short as seven hours and let it go as long as 16. Trust me, longer is better. Though I don’t have a smoker or barbecue pit—the preferred means of making a meal such as this—I do have an oven that can be set to 275 degrees, and you probably do, too. The secret to tender, succulent barbecue where the meat just falls apart is to cook it “low and slow,” meaning for a very long time at a very low temperature. Once you have your pulled pork, the possibilities are endless. Though this recipe is for sandwiches, pulled pork is also great on nachos, in quesadillas, in omelets, in spring rolls—you name it. The other great thing about this recipe is that, unlike previous weeks, $20 will feed a lot more than five people. I got a four lb. butt for $8, which is enough to feed a pretty sizable Super Bowl party. Barbecue sauce is one of those foods—like pesto, hummus and salsa—that once you make yourself you will never buy bottled again. Making it yourself saves money and tastes better than store-bought sauce. When you see how much sauce this recipe makes, you will consider it a sin ever to pay $6 for 12 ounces of a “high-end” bottled sauce again. It’s also a really fun condiment to modify to your liking—some people like it sweeter, others more vinegary, and others like it really spicy. This recipe presents a pretty balanced sauce, but it’s very easy to adapt to your particular taste. And in case you’ve been wondering about that word “chipotle” that keeps popping up everywhere, a chipotle is a smoked and dried jalapeño that provides a pretty good heat and a whole lot of flavor. I selected onion rings as a side dish because of the textural contrast they provide to the soft, tender pork. I thought about making a crunchy slaw, but I did that a couple of months ago, and the Super Bowl feels more like a time to eat fried vegetables than raw ones, so onion rings it was. One of my favorite things to do with onion rings is to batter them in different ways. This week I soaked them in buttermilk and dipped them in cornmeal, but they’re also delicious beer-battered or coated with something a bit more coarse, like panko breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes. If you’re a vegetarian I don’t know why you would have read this far, but, just in case, rest assured that your moment will come next week. I’m going to take a break from fried meats and pulled pork and provide a recipe for something light, delicious and vegetarian. But in the meantime, enjoy your weekend and take a moment on Sunday to hang out, eat some great food and watch a football game.

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »» »»

1 T olive oil 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 shallot, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes 1 c. brown sugar 1 12 oz. jar molasses 2 t. Worcestershire sauce 2 chipotles in adobo sauce (you can find this in the Mexican/International Foods aisle) »» 1 1/2 c. cider vinegar »» Salt, to taste 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic, shallot and onion for 3-5 minutes in olive oil, until soft. Add the tomatoes, sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, chiptoles in adobo (and any leftover liquid from the can) and vinegar. Fill the empty tomato can about 1/2 full of water and add that to the pot. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the sauce reaches your desired consistency; boiling it longer will make it thicker and allow the flavors to concentrate. After tasting you can add more vinegar, sugar, or chipotles if you’d like it more acidic, sweeter or spicier. Add salt to taste.

Grocery List Buttermilk Onions Crushed Tomatoes Shallot Boston Pork Butt

Buttermilk-Cornmeal Onion Rings »» 2 sweet onions, sliced into 1/2 inch rings »» 2 c. flour »» 2 c. buttermilk »» 2 c. cornmeal »» Salt, to taste »» Vegetable/canola oil, for frying 1. Soak the onions in the buttermilk for at least 15 minutes. While the onions are soaking, prepare your oil. In a saucepan or sauté pan with high sides, heat the oil over medium heat (never fill up a pot more than half-fill with oil, because it will expand when you add food to it). Using a candy/ oil thermometer to monitor the temperature heat the oil to 350 degrees.

If you don’t have a thermometer, your oil is ready when a 1 inch cube of bread fries to golden brown in 60 seconds. Keep in mind that adding food to oil immediately lowers the oil’s temperature, so you may need to adjust the heat as you cook the onions to maintain the oil at a constant temperature. 2. One at a time remove the onions from the buttermilk and dredge in the flour. Place them back in the buttermilk and then dredge them in the cornmeal. Gently place them in the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle them with kosher salt.

Products purchased at Adams Fairacre Farms $2.29 $0.89 $1.99 $0.12 $7.24

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FEATURES

Page 8

February 4, 2010

JYA experience equips Hui for senior thesis

Juliana Halpert/The Miscellany News

HUI continued from page 6 this “excluded minority” faces. Issues of inadequate housing and job discrimination have led some organizations in Prague to pilot integration programs aimed at providing Roma people with opportunities from which they might otherwise have been excluded. One such group is the Via Foundation, a small organization based in Prague that “coordinates grants between local groups applying for a range of different projects for, say, ex-convicts, the unemployed, orphanages, rural villages, heritage conservation—that sort of thing.” Hui considers herself lucky to have been able to return to Prague in the summer of 2009 to work as an intern for the Via Foundation. “I knew I wanted to go back to Prague,” says Hui, “So I started trolling all these internship websites, and only one was in English.” Hui applied and was accepted immediately. She has a bashful way about her, but she speaks with conviction and desire that make it clear why Hui would be a desirable candidate for such an internship, and, sure enough, Hui made the most of her time at the Via Foundation. As preliminary research for her thesis, Hui conducted what she described as “extensive lunchtime interviews with her coworkers.” Hearing stories and connecting faces with experiences helped Hui get a sense of the attitudes towards Roma integration in Prague, and how they have and have not changed since 1989. Her relationships with her coworkers also encouraged Hui to think seriously about moving to Prague after graduation. To be fair, she says, she only speaks enough Czech to “get by. You know, to check in and check out at the supermarket, that sort of thing.” And Hui recognizes that without proficient Czech, her prospects for sustained research or professional work in Prague might be limited. She remains undaunted, “I’ve never gotten sick of the Czech Republic. It’s a great country and I felt so alive there.” Hui leans forward and lights up when she adds, “People take their weekends so seriously there! Everyone’s out doing recreational activities they enjoy every weekend. It sure beats seven days of leave per year.” Hui is quick to add that despite her glowing reviews of the nightlife in Prague, she sometimes feels she has no business critiquing the politics of a country to which she has, in reality, few substantial ties. “I sometimes feel that I’m misrepresenting this country,” she says with a sigh. Roma integration and the history of Czech persecution against the Roma is “a problem so difficult to talk about. I don’t want to sound condescending to a society I don’t know all that much about, really.” All of Hui’s interviews were challenging: Political interrogation is “not exactly polite lunch time conversation,” but they ultimately led her research in a more focused direction. “How much can I do on my own?” is a question that consistently returns in Hui’s thesis. Her project is highly independent. Hui has opted not to meet with her political science thesis advisor weekly, or even monthly, instead viewing the project as “a personal challenge” with an advisor to guide her from afar. On the evening she interviewed with The Miscellany News, Hui had her work cut out for her. She will meet with her advisor this week to discuss her draft— which as of a few hours prior to the interview, needed lots of attention. But for a speaker who often takes a nuanced stance on complex issues, she can offer a firm and pointed “No” to the question of whether she ever considered not writing a thesis. “No,” she says, “never ever.”

Managers man the bar at Alex’s Restaurant, which has been at the heart of the City of Poughkeepsie’s Business District ever since it was founded in 1914 by Greek immigrants. On the corner of Main and Market Streets, Alex’s Restaurant is know for its friendly diner atmosphere and for its reasonable prices.

Alex’s Restaurant: heaven in four courses Daniel Combs

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Reporter

ave you ever gone on a date with yourself ? Depending on your temperament, this could either sound incredibly depressing or wonderfully indulgent. I fall into the second category, and wonderful indulgence was exactly what I had on my mind when I strolled into Alex’s Restaurant on the corner of Market and Main Streets for my first restaurant review of the semester. I’ve heard a lot about this place; apparently it has quite a history. Founded in 1914 by Greek immigrants, this diner-restaurant hybrid has, by its own definition, been devoted to “a legacy in the tradition of hospitality, quality dining and appeasement of appetites.” I can say little more than that this description on their website called to me deeply. When I finally stir from my comatose state around noon on Fridays, every subsequent step is basically governed by one thing: the vacuum in my stomach and the need to cram with reckless abandon as much stuff as possible into my greedy maw. On the particular Friday on which I journeyed to Alex’s, I needed my appetite appeased in every way possible. So when I found myself stumbling through the door to Alex’s at the perfect time to participate in the lunch rush, I was thrilled to indulge myself on this personal date. A cheap date, I might add. My last foray to the bank had revealed to me a startling piece of information—the true net worth of a college senior with no job prospects after graduation: not the most uplifting number to see on the screen of an ATM. This painfully recent memory made the opening of Alex’s menu nice, not simply because it was filled with some of my favorite foodstuffs, but was also filled with a myriad of single digit prices. Judging only by what took up the most space in the menu and what my neighboring diners were eating, I made the ultimately correct assumption that Alex’s does three things really well. They are veritable experts at submerging things in boiling oil with the intent to crispify them. They have also mastered the art of fitting pounds upon pounds of food between pieces of bread. And with the deftness that comes with nearly a century of experience, they are untouchable when it comes to making sweet, creamy, frozen drinks out of dairy. Now, normally my technique for doing this type of thing is to ask the waiter or waitress

what the restaurant’s specialty or most popular dish is. If I have to try one thing, what should it be? But one thing stopped me from doing that this time around: a description of the most absurdly decadent appetizer you could ever get for $4.50. I desperately need to recount this thing, which may be the best poor-man’s appetizer I’ve ever had. One time in preparing for a week-long backpacking trip, I spent a day in the supermarket figuring out what food had the highest calorie-to-weight ratio (its CheezIts by the way, which deal out a whopping 1,960 calories per 14 ounce box), but I think this appetizer of crispy spinach and feta topped fries may be the highest dollar to calorie ratio, which in my mind is a very good thing. An entire one of those big oval plates was topped by a mountain of crispy, starchy, greasy goodness with the fried leaves of basically an entire spinach plant lying on top. The preparation of the greens gave them an alien texture that didn’t quite crunch, but it was a wonderful contrast to the crunchy outside of the fries. Ketchup wasn’t even needed for this dish, and I am a man who loves me some ketchup. All the salty sweetness you would ever need was contained in the pile of crumbled feta that capped my mountain of fries like a crown of snow. Next came the Subway-on-steroids part of the menu: Build a sandwich bound only by your own creativity. I had to do this; nothing compliments a solo date more than a sandwich. Normally, you eat with someone, and in the moments in between masticating sessions, when you’re busy using those metal tools to deconstruct whatever is on your plate, you talk. Using silverware when you eat by yourself is depressing. It just slows you down and reminds you that if someone was across from you, these are the moments you would be laughing and joking. A sandwich is an entirely different beast. You can go on a date with your sandwich. You’re supposed to use your hands. It’s an intimate, personal, one-on-one relationship where no one argues and you know ahead of time that there are no strings attached. The ability to build your own date makes this even more appealing to me when the choices are as wide-ranging as Alex’s. I won’t bore you by lethargically rattling off every single ingredient Alex’s offers, but I will mention that prior to Friday, I had never considered eating a liverwurst sandwich topped with Portobello, dried cranberries and Swiss cheese.

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

I stayed away from the organ meat, however, and kept it classic: turkey breast, avocado, and goat cheese with tomatoes and peppers on ciabatta bread. Let me pause for a second and say something about avocado. Whatever genius moment of natural selection resulted in avocado insides that are as creamy and melty and fatty as a quarter-pound burger, deserves to be commemorated by a national holiday. We should mark whatever month avocados are harvested with a worldwide celebration of the fruit, because nothing, and I mean nothing, is better on a sandwich than avocado. Having checked off my list two of the three things I told myself I absolutely needed to try to do any justice to the restaurant reviewing business, I ordered the third element as a dessert and went with a classic: a chocolate shake like you used to get with your dad in the summer. I could have chosen from a list that stretches from mango to egg cream, but I really felt that going too exotic could lead to some unpleasant side effects with my stomach already about to burst. Waiting for my frozen sweet to come, I took a second to actually take in my surroundings. Two of restaurant’s walls are made entirely of glass, and the natural lighting in the place is beautiful, whether you are at the breakfast bar or one of the cozy, but not cramped, tables scattered around the room. You’ll also be surrounded with dozens of examples of what Poughkeepsie is. The diversity of the memories in the shape of photos and antiques decorating the walls is matched by the equally diverse clientele. It seems that no matter who you are— old, young, rich, poor, black, Latino or white— if you are downtown around noon, you are coming to Alex’s for lunch. The old ladies on a lunch date, the family digging into baskets of fried chicken and fish, the construction workers sipping on milkshakes and munching on gyros, this place made me feel like I really was a part of Poughkeepsie, rather than a moocher living in a bubble outside of it. I mentioned earlier that Alex’s appealed to my wallet as well as my stomach. Upon being handed my to-go milkshake and stepping up to the register to pay, I found that I hadn’t even gone over my self-imposed $20 limit. Not by a lot. Coffee, appetizer, fully-loaded sandwich and dessert, all for $17.50. Say What!? Even if diners aren’t your forte, if you like big portions of home-style food for absurdly cheap prices, get yourself do Alex’s in downtown Po-town.


February 4, 2010

FEATURES

Page 9

Students to benefit from increased debt relief programs OBAMA continued from page 6 to families paying for four years of college and to increase Pell Grants and other financial scholarships. With a broad array of ideas geared towards change in America’s education, Obama hopes to provide new opportunities to youth of varying socioeconomic backgrounds in an attempt to improve our nation’s economy. According to Vassar Director of Financial Aid Michael Fraher, 1,432 Vassar students currently receive various financial scholarships. Of those students, 425 receive Pell Grants that total 1.6 million dollars. Fraher emphasized Vassar’s strong commitment to its financial aid program and to those students who need financial assistance. Vassar’s need-based scholarships include student loans, on-campus jobs and gift aid, all of which are financed through federal as well as institutional resources. Additionally, the Financial Aid Office has revised and continues to revise certain scholarships and awards for families that undergo sudden and unexpected financial changes. In an emailed statement, Dean of Admis-

sion and Financial Aid David Borus wrote, “Any changes which make it easier to pay for college or to manage one’s indebtedness after graduation will be positive steps. Additional tax credits for college expenses as well as increases in the amount of Pell Grant funding would certainly assist many members of Vassar’s student body.” The economic crisis has forced colleges and universities across the United States to contend with unexpected budget cuts and layoffs. Despite this trend, Obama urged colleges and universities to do their part to make a college education more affordable. “And by the way, it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs because they, too, have a responsibility to solve this problem,” he said. In referring to college tuition, Obama stated “The price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle class.” According to Fraher, Vassar always strives to increase fees by reasonable increments from one year to the next. As to whether Vassar would consider lowering its tuition in the future, Fraher said “It’s about the philosophy of what type of education you want to provide students. Many

individuals hold schools like Vassar accountable by saying costs are out of line. But what you’re paying for is a certain philosophy involving excellent facilities, small classes and the like.” Elsewhere, universities have implemented programs to help forgive debt without lowering tuition. As part of a series of measures aimed at aiding its students and alumni during the economic crisis, the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, has taken steps to improve its Loan Repayment Assistance Program. A Sept. 4, 2009 article appearing on the website of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, titled “UC Berkeley Law School Enhances Loan Forgiveness Program in Response to Tough Economy,” describes Berkeley’s program as “designed to ease the financial burden faced by alumni who pursue public interest or government work, where salaries are significantly lower than in the private sector.” The program, which began in January of 2010, provides 10 years of support to alumni repaying law school student loan debt and undergraduate debt who earn less than $65,000 per year working for government agencies or public interest

groups. Although Obama proposes many beneficial ideas concerning the future of education, specifically with regard to student loan debt forgiveness and lowering tuition costs, it is uncertain whether such proposals will be realized. In fact, legislation to revise federal student lending and allocate federal funds towards other education initiatives has stalled in the Senate. Director of Financial Aid at the University of Maryland Sarah Bauder stated in an article featured on financialaidnews.com, titled “Bill Ending Bank Role in Student Loans Stalls in Senate,” that “The University of Maryland is preparing to switch to direct lending if needed. My concern is that no one’s made a decision yet in Congress. It’s holding the students hostage.” Whether the legislation necessary to put Obama’s proposals into effect will pass through a divided Congress remains uncertain. Furthermore, questions linger about whether or not Obama’s proposal will be an affordable one, especially as just one of goal out of Obama’s domestic policy agenda, which includes other large, potentially expensive legislation.

Approaches to discussion of cuts vary between departments FACULTY continued from page 1 whose teaching load was reduced, and I would like to see explanations.” Many, particularly students, share Walsh’s frustration—so much so that the Vassar Student Association (VSA) Executive Board requested last semester that the Office of the Dean of the Faculty release some kind of a list of the names of professors whose contracts were not renewed. “I think it’s really, really important not only for students within each department to know which professors are leaving, but for students at large to know,” noted VSA President Caitlin Ly ’10, “because there are students who take classes outside of their major who need to know if a professor is going on leave, going on sabbatical or leaving for good.” Ly, however, added that while students should be entitled to know if one of their favorite professors—or even their advisor—will be departing from the College, it is equally important to respect the privacy of individual faculty members. “I don’t think that it’s actually a possibility for a College to give out names of departing professors, just because the administration is taking a very hard line—and rightfully so—that employees’ privacy needs to be protected at all costs,” she explained. Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs Rachel Kitzinger explained that the issue was not a legal one, but merely “a question of respecting people’s right to decide whether their employment situations should be broadcast to the whole community or not.” “Imagine if you had your contract terminated,” continued Kitzinger, “and this was made public and students decided to demonstrate to reinstate you. You might not want to be the center of that kind of controversy—so it really is a question of a right to privacy.” Visiting Associate Professor of English Karen Robertson—who actively advocated last semester for more transparency in the face of necessary budgetary cutbacks—argued that “the argument about the privacy of contracts has been used continuously for the last year to disguise cuts,” she said, explaining that when “you don’t know who is going, you don’t really know what areas of the curriculum have been shrunk.” Robertson, however, acknowledged that from the perspective of the terminated professor, a list of names released by the Dean of the Faculty would be extremely problematic. “This would make teaching your last semester extraordinarily difficult,” said Robertson. “It’s not just embarrassing, but it undermines your professional credibility, and it casts a shadow on your confidence, even though these cuts are about economics, not about professionalism; from the cuts that I know about, the individuals singled out have had entirely positive teaching evaluations. I think it’s a very painful conundrum,” said Robertson. Because the Office of the Dean of the Faculty has no current plans to release such a list of professors’ names, some individual department chairs have taken measures to inform their student majors of cuts made to their discipline. Chair of the English Department and Associate Profes-

sor of English Peter Antelyes explained that he will be holding a meeting with majors on Feb. 12 “to discuss the effects of this year’s cuts on our faculty and curriculum.” Antelyes indicated, however, that he was still unsure of whether he would chose to disclose the names of faculty members who were affected by the cutbacks to the department. “It’s not clear whether at that meeting we will identify which particular faculty members have had their course-load diminished, have been removed from teaching in the department or have been fired altogether,” he said. “I have been guided by the desires of the individuals involved, but we will definitely be detailing which [course] offerings have been cut.” Conversely, Walsh had no hesitations about informing his students of cuts made to the Religion Department; he was equally open with The Miscellany News, assuring the newspaper that it could release the names of those affected within his department. “In Religion,” began Walsh, “Max Leeming—who used to teach five courses all to do with Islam—was reduced to a three-course workload, which is exactly a 50 percent cut in salary, meaning that she’s going to have to find extra work. And then we completely lost Agi Veto, whose courses centered around classical Jewish texts and traditions.” According to Walsh, Veto and Leeming were the only two adjunct faculty in the department, and therefore were the only two professors at risk for a reduced work-load. Walsh explained that while “every department’s culture is different and has a different sensitivity,” he wanted to inform his student majors of the cuts as soon as possible. “One of the first things I did when I got the news was to obviously speak with [Leeming] and [Veto], and to speak with the professors within the department,” Walsh said. “Then I spoke with our senior majors—they had some very strong reactions and were extremely upset. Then I started communicating with our juniors as well. What I’m planning for this semester is to hopefully in the next few weeks have a major’s social—to try to get all of our majors together—and to have a really frank conversation.” Unlike the English and Religion Departments, however, some areas of the curriculum—such as the Economics, Philosophy and Film Departments—were relatively unaffected by cuts to the curriculum and have no plans to meet with student majors. That said, chairs within these departments still remain unaware of how other departments were affected by curriculum cuts. Chair of the Economics Department and Professor of Economics Shirley Johnson-Lans explained that she “knew nothing about firings in other departments.” Similarly, Antelyes said that despite the information released earlier this year by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, he is still unsure whether the curriculum will change from department to department. “While the Dean of the Faculty’s office recently released a list of numbers of courses cut in each department and program…the list did not indicate how the curricula of those depart-

ments and programs were affected,” Antelyes continued. “Thus, it is very difficult to acquire that global view of Vassar’s curriculum.” As a possible solution to such confusion, Robertson suggested that perhaps individual professors who are leaving should be able to choose to have their names released to the larger community. “It should be up to the individual professors,” said Robertson. “If they decide that they would like their names to be used, then I would say them, but that decision should absolutely be up to the individual—it’s their professional reputation in some ways.”

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

Ly agreed, saying that individual professors “could potentially volunteer to say that the Dean of the Faculty can send out an e-mail releasing their name,” said Ly, “but I don’t know that any employee has yet done so or even wishes to do so.” Considering that such a list of terminated professors’ names is unlikely to appear, Ly encouraged students to explore alternate routes for more information. Ly explained that a second option for students wishing to know more would be to speak with department chairs or, she said, “go speak to professors and ask them point-blank what their situation is.”

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OPINIONS

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Commentary on cut to summer abroad program: To learn more about the cancellation, see “College cancels 2010 summer abroad program” in the Miscellany’s 1.28.10 issue or online at miscellanynews.com.

Cuts to programs should have had student input Laura Riker

Guest Columnist

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hile I understand that the realities of Vassar’s financial situation call for cuts (it would be quite difficult to not understand this), I am not going to pretend I’m not disappointed in the senior officers’ decision to cut Vassar’s summer study abroad programs. I am a voting member of the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP), a joint faculty-student committee which reviews most academic policies and procedures at Vassar, and I am somewhat dismayed that this decision was not made by the CCP. Although the summer programs are run under the Dean of the College, not the faculty, I still feel that this decision is primarily academic— especially since academic credit is given for the trips—and thus should have been decided by the CCP. And as the foreign languages student representative for the Committee, I worry that this will negatively affect many Vassar students seeking to study languages. As a student member of CCP, I can’t help but feel a little indignant toward the administration’s choice to make this decision without really running it by the Committee. This is not to say that we never discussed the summer abroad programs at our meetings­—we definitely did. From these discussions, it was clear that these programs were at significant risk, but it was not clear how much so. The feelings that I drew from these conversations were that everyone—faculty and students—felt these programs were extremely valuable, and all efforts should be made to preserve them. Had I known that these programs ran a serious risk of being cancelled, I would have been even more vocal in arguing for their preservation. I am sure that my fellow student representatives on the Committee would agree. The Senior Officers’ argument that it is inequitable for Vassar to support summer programs for language students when students in other fields do not have the same opportunities is very troublesome to me. I have studied a language intensively for several years, and I forcefully maintain that the best way to truly learn a language

is through total immersion in a country where that language is spoken. While one could argue that total immersion can be beneficial for all fields of study (and they would not be wrong), this is especially true for language. There is only so much Chinese you can learn in New York. This is why, of course, the Junior Year Abroad is especially valuable—but not all students who wish to study language can afford to leave for an entire semester. What about pre-med students? Or double majors? Isn’t it unfair that by removing these programs, many of them will no longer be able to pursue a correlate in a foreign language? The College has removed this opportunity for a significant percentage of its students, and I’ve already encountered several students who have expressed their profound disappointment that they can no longer spend time abroad while at Vassar. These sentiments have been echoed by a majority of the student body, so I will not continue to offer arguments that have already been made. I do wish, though, that Vassar had made some more concerted efforts to keep these programs, even if they were in a more limited form. I especially think this is true for the programs in China and Japan; many of those students will never get the chance to go there again. I also think that the administration could have set a cap on the amount of times a student could travel abroad on Vassar financial aid (I believe this was an issue as well). In any case, it is too late for wishing, and so I only want to express my disappointment in the lack of student and faculty consultation on this decision, which will be detrimental to foreign language instruction at Vassar. I will not argue that these programs were as valuable as, say, need-blind financial aid or keeping people employed (they definitely aren’t), but I do hope that the administration will consider the input of students and other members of the campus community when making cuts in the future.

—Laura Riker ’11 is the President of Strong House and sits on the Vassar Student Association Academics Committee.

February 4, 2010

Handling of abroad cuts a failure in communication Hannah Groch-Begley

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Guest Columnist

veryone seems to be discussing the loss of summer abroad programs this week, and rightly so: The administration’s decision to indiscriminately cut all summer abroad programs was surprising and upsetting to many. Though I understand that the programs were very expensive and that the College needed to rein in costs, I personally wish the final decision hadn’t been so drastic. Whether or not I agree with the decision is fairly meaningless, however, as the decision has been made and will not be changed, regardless of student opinion. What I am most angry about, and feel should be directly addressed, is the fact that I learned of the decision not from the administration directly, but from an article in The Miscellany News. The administration chose to have the language departments inform their students of the cuts first, perhaps in an effort to learn from their mistakes regarding the announcement of the cancellation of Vassar’s rowing program. While I respect the effort, it was misguided. I am not a major in any of the language departments, and I am not currently taking any courses in those departments either, so I did not receive any e-mail about the cuts—a position I shared with many. But Vassar is a liberal arts institution, and part of the essence of that is that students here take courses in many different departments. Just because I am not currently involved in those departments does not mean I won’t be in the future, or have not been in the past, or don’t care about the offerings of other departments or the activities in which my classmates are involved. For example, after my experience in Intensive Introductory German last year, I was seriously considering taking the German summer program this summer. The administration seems fixated on the notion that individual departments are the key to communicating with students who care about those departments. While this approach completely ignores the fact that no Vassar student takes courses in only one department, it also ignores the fact that the freshmen and many sophomores have yet to declare a major—students who would have benefited from factoring the cancellation of summer programs into their long-term academic planning had they been on the fence about taking a semester abroad. Practically half of our student body is left out when key information is passed only to the majors in a department. The underclassmen

being left out of the loop are currently trying to decide their majors—how can they possibly make well-informed decisions about these departments if they are kept in the dark? Many of the language summer programs were in fact vehicles for recruiting majors, which would lead me to believe that those who are already majors would care less about these cuts than those who were simply considering majoring— in other words, everyone who didn’t receive an e-mail. This failure of communication is just one more to add the administration’s growing list. I am afraid to say, however, that this time it gets worse. I am not just a concerned student; I am an elected official in the Vassar Student Association (VSA)—a dorm president who sits on the Academics Committee. Even this leadership position did not provide me with any information regarding this decision that I might have passed on to the residents of my dorm. As a member of the Academics Committee I was aware that summer abroad programs were being assessed, and could even be cut entirely. I was completely unaware, however, that the final decision would be made any time soon, let alone over winter break, and that it would in the end be so drastic. When a decision of this magnitude is made seemingly out of the blue, the residents of my dorm expect I will be able to provide them with information and explain the rationale behind it. Had I not picked up a copy of the newspaper Thursday morning, or read it online on Wednesday night, I wouldn’t even have known where their questions were coming from. Had the administration taken the time to properly consult the Academics Committee or the VSA on this matter, had they spoken to us about their reasoning and shown us the numbers, this article may have been in support of their decision because I would be a better informed commentator and president. Instead, by leaving so many of us in the dark, I am left with the facts The Miscellany News was able to print, and have no way of providing supplemental information to any of the angry people in my dorm. All this produces is more angry people, including myself, and yet another mess the administration could have so easily avoided. —Hannah Groch-Begley ’12 is the President of Noyes House and sits on the Vassar Student Association Academics Committee.

“Practically half of our student body is left out when key information is passed only to the majors in a department.” —

Hannah Groch-Begley ’12, Noyes House President

Vassar’s cutting of summer programs a travesty “While we agree that general financial aid should be a priority over the financial aid directed to these summer programs, we feel that other options could have been explored before this decision was made.” Evan Sheffield and Patricia Cruz

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Guest Columnists

hat if Ishmael had never set sail with Captain Ahab on that fateful summer (even if the book says December, due to the lack of accurate calendars or whatever) on a whale hunt? Herman Melville would never have written Moby Dick and we wouldn’t have known his story. Last summer, we participated in two separate summer abroad language programs—the Japan Summer Program in Tokyo and the German Summer Program in Münster. While we could write a book detailing all our experiences, that’s not the purpose of this article. The recent decision to cut off all of Vassar’s summer language programs will make these experiences unattainable for many students active in the different language departments. The administration has justified their decision on the basis that academic year abroad programs would serve as a substitute for these summer programs. We find this an absurd assumption. First of all, it is difficult for students who are double majoring, majoring in a non-language field or who simply wish to take a wider variety of courses—which is the basis of a liberal arts education—to devote an entire semester or year studying abroad.

Cutting off these programs denies these students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new language and culture. In our case, we will not have the time to go abroad during our junior year given our chosen course of studies, but we were lucky enough to have these summer programs available for us as an alternative. Another possible consequence resulting from these cuts is a loss of interest in the study of foreign languages at Vassar. Not only has the availability of these programs likely encouraged prospective students to choose to attend Vassar, but they have also functioned as a means of attracting potential majors to the language departments. I was inspired by my experience in the summer program to major in Japanese, and it would not have even been possible to combine it with my other major without the program due to credit and time restraints. The College proposed other schools’ summer programs as an alternative, but we feel that programs run by an unfamiliar college might discourage students who would feel uncomfortable going through a different school. The abrupt cutting of these programs has left some students stranded in terms of their summer activities. With summer internships and jobs’ deadlines rapidly approaching or already passed, students who planned to go on these programs are left

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

without many options. Vassar professors created these programs through connections in the various destinations—connections which are now being threatened by the loss of these programs. It would be a shame to not only ruin the years of hard work on the part of the professors, but also to weaken our relationships with the universities abroad. While we agree that general financial aid should be a priority over the financial aid directed to these summer programs, we feel that other options could have been explored before this decision was made. We are not saying that the College should have eliminated financial aid toward these programs—without financial aid I wouldn’t have been able to go to Germany—but they could have lessened the amount of financial aid offered, or devised another method of administering it. Another option would have been to alternate the programs every year instead cutting all of them. Having half of the programs one summer and half during the next would have cut the College’s yearly expenses toward these programs. The College certainly should have explored further options before choosing to eliminate an important element of our Vassar education.


OPINIONS

February 4, 2010

New student conduct panels must foster trust Kelly Shortridge

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Opinions Editor

he introduction of student-run judicial panels is a much needed step towards improving the trust between students and their representatives in the Vassar Student Association (VSA). Many students have recently felt that the VSA is not protecting the student’s interests and instead is a “pawn” of the administration. Furthermore, there seems to be a dearth of VSA representatives reaching out to students—the constituents of VSA members—and fully understanding the positions of the people who elected them. This new disciplinary student interaction will undoubtedly create some tensions, as those on the VSA Judicial Panel will have to decide the punishment for their fellow classmates. However, I find this far more preferable to administrators, perhaps out of touch with the college experience, mandating punishments on the young adults who make up the student body. Empathy alone, of course, should not be the only factor in the Judicial Panel’s rulings, but can perhaps allow the system to treat students in a perceptibly fairer and more considerate manner. For example, should a student break a piece of furniture or something similarly minor, a jury of fellow undergraduates would be more appropriate to evaluate the circumstances, since they both can recognize the seriousness of the situation while still coming to the situation with understanding. In fact, when I came to Vassar from a more “conservative” high school, I was shocked that such measures were not in place as they had been

at my previous school; you would think that Vassar, with so many student activists and strong leaders would have already ensured— in fact, demanded—that this was in place. Now, the Judicial Panel will only be ruling on “minor” breakings of disciplinary code, and I think it is fair that they judge “cases involving incidents which may have a particularly strong impact on the residential community,” as Dean of Students David “D.B.” Brown explained. I think it is reasonable that Vassar’s administration should ultimately decide whether or not a student who has violated the core policy of the College should be allowed to stay. However, perhaps the next step towards better student-VSA-administration relations would be to have “captains,” if you will, of the student judiciary panel sit in on the hearings on major infractions too, so that students still have input into the verdicts of the hearings of their peers on all levels. After all, don’t more serious infractions affect the “residential community,” too? While students wouldn’t have the final say, they would add a much-needed voice to these hearings. This future evolution of student roles in disciplinary action can only take place if the judicial panels are responsible and please both students and the administration. Should these students hand out punishments that are clearly too easy or too radical, the administration will understandably revoke the privilege of jury by peers. The members of the VSA on these panels must prove that they are willing to stick up for students and prove to be more just than judges from the bureaucracy of the College.

One step towards this goal, perhaps, is to solicit answers to surveys from students, asking what type of penalty they see fit for particular infractions. This way, the members of the Judicial Panels can enter each hearing knowing that they can rely on their experience, wisdom and the valuable opinion of their constituents. They could also request opinions on prior rulings so that there could be a progress report of sorts—keeping the student in question’s anonymity, of course­—as a way that students can see how their representatives are acting towards fellow students who have broken the rules, and then voice their dissension or approval accordingly. Vassar, with its smaller size and wonderfully dynamic student body, has the opportunity to foster a thriving and connected community, which must start first with trust—trust that seems to be lacking between students and their VSA representatives currently. Doling out punishments can be tough when trying to strengthen relations between a disciplinary body and those being disciplined; however, should the student judges show their constituents that they are on their side in wanting a strong, honest and vibrant community, I believe that students can trust their representatives completely and justifiably, and the efficiency and spirit of Vassar’s campus will only improve.

Matthew Brock

J

Guest Columnist

ust 37 years ago last week, the Supreme Court announced its decision regarding a case known as Roe v. Wade. Their now famous ruling overturned laws restricting abortion in nearly every state. The moral question of abortion aside, I think it is clear that no one should be proud of the legal reasoning used in Roe v. Wade even if they adamantly support the conclusions to which it came. In the opinion delivered by Justice Harry Blackmun, the Court tried somewhat admirably to reconcile the right to an abortion with a state’s compelling interest to restrict that right in some cases. Hence, they viewed neither a woman’s right to an abortion nor a state’s right to prohibit an abortion to be absolute within a sound Constitutional framework. Given the controversial nature of the abortion issue, Blackmun deliberately and appropriately sought not to beg any moral questions in his opinion. He writes, “Our task, of course, is to resolve the issue by Constitutional measurement, free of emotion and of predilection.” We must ask then, where exactly did the Supreme Court find a right to an abortion within the Constitution? Blackmun attempts to ground the right to an abortion within a general right to privacy. Hence, he must prove that such a right to privacy exists within the Constitution, and that such a right exists in such a way as to include the decision for a woman to have an abortion. To establish the right to privacy, Blackmun makes an argument that is derived from the 14th Amendment, that the right to privacy—contained implicitly in the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution—falls under the notion that the government must have the inability See ROE V. WADE on page 12

O

Guest Columnist

nce upon a time, a top executive at a publishing company said to himself, “Self, we could make a lot of money if we charge students $200 for their textbooks. It’s not like they have a choice for which textbook they can buy.” In response, students started buying used books to save themselves money which cut into the publisher’s profits, so he again said to himself, “Self, these students are making me go broke with their used book sales. Maybe if I come out with a slightly different version of the book every year, they’ll have to keep buying from me.” The moral of this story is simple: Textbook manufacturers are out to make a profit. However, Vassar professors don’t need to help them in this quest; in fact, they should oppose them. Given that they teach at a school that is strongly committed to providing generous amounts of financial aid, Vassar’s professors should be aware of the financial burden that they place on students by assigning certain textbooks. Students can easily have to pay over $500 for their books—even when buying used—which is a considerable expense for students from lower income families. Poorer students may even feel discouraged from taking classes that carry an expensive textbook list—a reality that differs sharply from Vassar’s goal of equality. Textbook publishers will argue that it is necessary to come out with new editions every other year in order to keep up with recent developments, and while this argument bears some truth, I am not suggesting that students buy books that were published in the ’80s. Yes, last year’s edition of a textbook may be slightly different than this year’s, but those minor changes do not outweigh the cost. Last semester, I accidentally purchased an old edition of the textbook for one of my classes on Amazon.com, and it contained all but two of the assigned readings. Although I would have liked to do those readings, my book cost a fraction of what the new edition

Would kind of ‘public art’ would you install on campus?

“A big bear trap, using things as bait, like PBR to attract hipsters”

Sam Thomas ’12

“Chalk drawings on our roads and sidewalks”

Elizabeth Boateng ’11

—Kelly Shortridge ’12 is the Opinions Editor. This year, she and Opinions Editor Angela Aiuto ’11 are maintaining an alternating column in which they engage one another in conversation.

Roe v. Wade Profs should be mindful still flawed of overpriced textbooks Joseph Coniglio

Page 11

would have cost. Because the old editions of textbooks are essentially the same as the newer ones, I believe that professors should encourage students to buy older, cheaper editions. My professor could have easily posted the two chapters missing from my book onto Moodle—many professors post dozens of readings a semester. In fact, my professor even posted readings from my older edition that were not present in the newer one; if he was willing to make allowances for students who purchased the new book, he should have been willing to do the same for those of us who purchased the old one. Whether or not professors actively encourage students to purchase older editions of their books, it is important for professors to be understanding of the fact that some are going to accidentally purchase the wrong edition. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell which edition you are buying on Amazon.com or from other used book retailers, and even if you buy the right edition, you still might buy the international version or some other variation that differs slightly from the one carried in the bookstore. These books are not returnable, so a student who purchases one is stuck with the cost of a useless textbook plus the exorbitant price of a new one, unless professors work with these students to make sure that they have access to missing information. In most cases, this means assigning a department intern or research assistant to scan a few pages from the book, a task which at most takes 15 minutes. In short, textbook publishers are doing everything in their power to take us for all that we’re worth, so professors should try to help protect their students by making it easier for them to purchase used books. Older editions are virtually the same as the newer ones and it takes barely any effort on the part of professors to aid students whose books might be missing some key information, so I ask all professors to be understanding and work to help students who simply cannot afford new books.

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

“Something low budget.”

Zach Ward ’11

“Sculptures of weird looking objects you can climb on”

Ashlei Hardenburg ’13

“A giant cupcake”

Matthew Bock ’12

“A person trying to catch their tail”

Micky Mahar ’12 —Angela Aiuto and Kelly Shortridge Opinions Editors


OPINIONS

Page 12

February 4, 2010

Letter: Granting extra credits for labs not so simple “G

ive natural science students the credit that they deserve,” Aaron Grober urged in last week’s edition of The Miscellany News (1.28.10). Reading that, I was tempted to leap out of my seat and shout, “Yes!” and that was just the title, friends. Talk about starting with a bang. I mean, we should all get the credit we deserve, am I right? But the question of what exactly we deserve to get is a little more difficult, and it would certainly help if Vassar were at all consistent on their stance in this regard. I understand that lab science students have to devote a lot of extra time to labs, I really do. I think arguing for allotting more credit to classes that are particularly time-consuming is just fine and dandy, but that’s not what Grober is doing. He wants to allot more credit to only lab science classes because they are particularly time consuming. So, looking at the schedule of classes, I see numerous chemistry classes that have three fifty-minute lecture periods and then one four-hour lab a week, coming to a grand total six hours and thirty minutes. However, this number is not really set in stone—my roommate last year finished his labs in one and a half to two hours on multiple occasions. Now, let’s consider my philosophy seminar on Wagner. We have a three-hour class period, and also a weekly opera screening, which ranges from a low of two-and-a-half hours to a high of five-and-a-half hours. (God help me.) So, the total in-class time amounts to five-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half hours a week. If we’re assigning credit value purely on the basis of time spent in classroom, it seems that my seminar should warrant additional

credit as well. Another example would be the lowly 100-level Art of Film class, which is comprised of two hours and 30 minutes of class time and, in addition to that, two three-hour film screenings a week, for a grand total of eight-and-a-half hours a week. Now, one might argue that doing a lab is harder than going to a screening. But then we’re not talking about in-class time anymore. We’re talking about in-class difficulty. And frankly, paying close enough attention to a foreign opera to be able to write about it with even the semblance of coherence and understanding is not as easy as it may sound. Moreover, the difficulty of classes tends to go up as we go from 100-level to 200-level and eventually into 300-level classes. If we’re going to base credit value on difficulty, then surely we would have to give 200-level classes more credit than 100-level classes, and 300-levels more than 200-levels? Another factor is out of class time and difficulty, but again, this also tends to go up the more you advance in a given field of study. That said, Grober is correct in that Vassar is taking a very muddled stance on this issue. Certain classes are, as mentioned, worth more than the usual one credit. Introductory Russian is, for example, a one-and-half credit class, whereas Intensive Introductory Russian nets students two whole credits. Having taken a semester of Introductory Russian, I can say that we have five 50-minute periods, one hour of drill practice, and one hour of conversation practice, coming to about six hours a week of in-class time.

So, the College’s rationalization for this purely on time spent in-class fails, as both Introduction to Film, my Wagner seminar and lab science classes demand a comparable, if not greater, amount of in-class time while not being worth as much. The only explanation I can come up with is that the amount of credits given is based on a combination of in-class time, out of class time and the difficulty. But of course, Vassar is not really consistent—because even if we decided that lab sciences, film classes, my Wagner seminar, and so forth should not get as much credit as introductory Russian classes, we’re still left with the feeling that they should get more credit than many other classes. And you know, quite frankly, all this worrying about what deserves how many points just gives me a headache. Why not simply give all non-gym, full semester courses one credit each and be done with it (maybe with the exception of accelerated classes, like Intensive Russian, which covers two semesters worth of work in one)? If it’s the full-time student status that we’re concerned with, then instead of giving class A one-anda-third and class B one-and-a-quarter and class C one-and-onetenth credit values, why not simply drop the requirement to be a full time student down to three credits, under the condition that all three courses are non-gym, full semester courses? While we’re at it, we could also drop graduation requirements down to 32 units. —Emil Ostrovski ’12

Letter: Defining American intervention more complex than Rosen’s arguments

Obama must be firm and fight back GOP M

ake no mistake: Obama’s State of the Union Address was mediocre. It wasn’t bad, and it’s not going to be remembered as one of the worst in history. But it certainly wasn’t the best, and it wasn’t what the Obama administration needed in this “post-Scott Brown era.” It was playful, not timid—but it also wasn’t bellicose. It wasn’t populist. And it wasn’t exactly inspiring. And I think I know exactly why. Look, I’m a fan of Barack Obama. His campaign wasn’t just inspiring—it was well-run. Obama had a knack for destroying his opponents by letting them destroy themselves. When Hillary Clinton made her first misstep in late 2007, hedging her position on drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, then-candidate Obama stayed out of the fray and let the Clinton campaign go into damage control, all the while letting Senators John Edwards and Chris Dodd and the rest take the formerly “inevitable” candidate down. Clinton lost the primaries, mostly because Obama stayed above the fray and let his enemies show their true colors. The same happened with the McCainPalin campaign. Remember in early September 2008, when the Republican convention had sent the GOP’s ticket riding high, with some polls showing at least a six-point lead? Obama made a joke at a rally regarding the McCain campaign’s laughable adoption of the mantle of change, saying “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig!” Suddenly, the Republican spin machine made it seem as though Obama had called Palin a pig—but a reading of the quote makes it obvious the GOP was lying. But did Obama call them out? No, he did not. He allowed them to make fools of themselves in front of the national media. He allowed them to suffer the harsh analysis of pundits, taking advantage of a chance to tear down the new front-runners, as they always do. And the Republican establishment was left with egg on its face. McCain’s statement on Sept. 15, the day of the stock-market crash, that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong,” sealed the deal. Obama barely had to do anything at all. I’d hoped that this tactic would continue into the Obama administration. The rise of Rush Limbaugh as the new leader of the Republican Party, with Michael Steele as his apparent second gave me hope that

the Republicans would continue to selfdestruct. Obama would just have to stay out of the way and keep away from the fallout. With the rise of the teabaggers, it only seemed to be the perfect turn of events that conservatism gained such a laughable leadership. Obama would barely need to lift a finger to see the triumph of liberalism, and this country would finally allow its government by the people to actually help the people instead of making them fear their own government. But seeing Obama repel the teabaggers time and time again, and seeing a triumph of liberalism doesn’t make for a good media narrative. Obama forgot that nothing makes the media happier than to take down the “man.” Once you become President, you become the “man,” and the news media wants nothing more than to see your destruction, whether it takes place in a massive legislative defeat (health care reform) or in a slow transformation into timidity through lack of leadership (health care reform). The idea that Barack Obama could sit back and let the right wing sabotage themselves doesn’t hold water anymore. The idea that the news media would report the facts as they were and call Republicans out on their bullshit, as they had actually begun to do in the campaign, doesn’t hold water either. What Obama needs to do is knuckle up and get exciting. You know what would be exciting? Here is my dream State of the Union Address. If Obama had literally grabbed the podium with one hand, pointed out at the Republican side of the aisle, summoned all of the fire in his throat he possibly could, and said, in unequivocal terms, “The Republicans are lying and I want to call them out on these lies, right now, right here.” Had he then called out Senator Landrieu, Senator Lieberman and the rest of the turncoat Democrats, we might have found them squirming. Then, at least the Democrats would know there are consequences to not following through on campaign promises. Use the bully pulpit, Mr. President. Be a fighter. The news media and the national party won’t do it for you. —Steve Keller ’11 is a political science major editorializing on American politics this semester.

Daniel Salton

O

Guest Columnist

ne week ago, Joshua Rosen wrote an article attempting to link the Obama Administration’s current policies with the foreign policy of the neo-conservative George W. Bush Administration. (“Neo-conservatism thrives in Obama’s administration,” 1.28.10) While some of his points were articulated well, Rosen seriously misinterpreted a number of different ideas in an attempt to create a link. This article seeks to correct those errors. Perhaps Rosen’s most glaring error was his definition of the Bush doctrine, a term used to define the administration’s strategy of justified war. Rosen attempted to define the doctrine as that of justified pre-emptive war. While this is part of the definition,

it misses several important aspects. The Bush doctrine was not just about pre-emptive strikes—it justified the use of regime change tactics, preventative force, unilateral military action and “nation-building” in an attempt to create democratic nations. The aspect of the doctrine that endorses pre-emptive war is a fairly minor part of the entire idea, and not one exclusive or native to neo-conservative thought. Secondly, it is an error to claim that an opinion piece written by General Wesley Clark in 2006 reflects anything about the current administration. Rosen misinterpreted the piece as “neo-conservative” due to its advocacy of a U.N.-lead military peacekeeping in Darfur. In fact, Clark advocated multi-lateral intervention based upon the See NEO-CONSERVATISM on page 13

Roe v. Wade inherently flawed ROE V. WADE continued from page 11 to interfere with individual liberty. After all, isn’t there some right to privacy essential in being able to exercise these Constitutional rights? Of course there is. But why should such a right to privacy, one that is only essential within the contexts of other rights, be used by itself as a fundamental grounds for establishing a right to an abortion—a right not explicitly contained within the Constitution? One can begin to see this circular logic by Justice Blackmun in his opinion. What grounds do we have to view the right to privacy as a fundamental right? Even if, despite its implicit and penumbral nature, privacy can be seen as a fundamental right, what grounds do we have to say that it includes the decision to have an abortion? Is it not the very contention of the states that restrict abortion that it is not a private decision? Is it not their very claim that abortion affects another distinct human being? Thus, why should they not have a compelling interest in restricting it if they so choose? Blackmun recognizes the right to privacy’s dependence when the state has a legitimate interest in protecting fetal life. It is clear, and he rightly argues, that fetuses are not explicitly granted rights in the Constitution and do not qualify as “persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

That being said, why can a state not protect fetuses even if they are not directly termed “persons” in the Constitution? It is clear that dogs are not persons within the Constitution, yet don’t states have every right to protect them from acts of cruelty—even if the owner claimed such prohibitions violated his or her right to privacy? Likewise, why can’t a state have a compelling interest in restricting abortion from and after the point of conception? To sidestep such an interest, Blackmun claims that we cannot reasonably know when a fetus becomes a person. Thus, a state’s interest in restricting abortion cannot be considered compelling until the point of viability. He argues, “This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications.” To summarize Blackmun’s argument, our inability to know when a fetus becomes a person, and thus when a state’s interest in protecting fetal life becomes compelling, means that a state cannot restrict abortion until the point of viability: The point where a state’s interest in protecting fetal life, in Blackmun’s eyes, does becomes compelling. Wait a minute. How can Blackmun say we don’t know when a fetus becomes a person and hence when a state’s interest

in protecting fetal life becomes compelling, and then claim that at viability a state does have a compelling interest in fetal life? Blackmun is claiming that a fetus does become a person at viability, while at the same time relying on the notion that we cannot precisely know when the fetus becomes a person, and this is a fallacious argument. In short, Blackmun argues from skepticism about when a fetus becomes a person, and then makes a claim that assumes a specific answer to the very question he does not presume to know. Blackmun’s argument in Roe simply reduces to a contradiction. This is indicative of the deeper Constitutional error in Roe v. Wade. Why does the Supreme Court have the right to pass judgments about when a fetus becomes a person, as Blackmun does with viability, instead of the states? What gives Blackmun the authority to replace Texas’ contention about when a fetus becomes a person with his own? In a republic, moral questions like abortion must be left up to the legislative process, not to the views of judges and honor state’s rights. To do otherwise is to abandon the legal principles that are foundational to any republic. Regardless of your moral stance on abortion, Roe v. Wade must be recognized as bad law and contrary to the very principles of liberty and autonomy to which it falsely professes to respect.


OPINIONS

February 4, 2010

Page 13

Rosen misinterprets link between Obama and Bush

Distrust of law enforcement not merited

NEO-CONSERVATISM continued from page 12 conceptualization of NATO and U.N. interventions in Bosnia, Somalia and Kosovo. Whether or not one agrees with these interventions, it is certainly not connected to the concept of unilateral intervention supported by the Bush administration. On the same subject, it is important to note that there is a major difference between the use of multi-national intervention advocated by Clark and the use of mercenaries by Max Boot of The Weekly Standard. In the former, oversight is provided by the U.N., and the military is controlled by the respective governments. In the latter, groups with no oversight other than their CEOs are placed in a dangerous combat situation without structure. These ideas are in no way similar, and the excerpt Rosen provides in an attempt to link the two to President Obama does not reflect a connection. Rosen then makes several basic errors by claiming that formerPresident of the United States Ronald Reagan was a neo-conservative, which by most accounts he was not. It is a logical leap to claim that due to an increase in military size, one is an interventionist. Military capacity is not reflective of how it is used, and as Reagan did not enter into any major wars during his presidency, the historical example that attempts to verify this claim is inaccurate. The largest inaccuracy that Rosen advocates in his column is the result of a simple misunderstanding. The use of an expanded military or an advocacy of American military power as a force for good in the world is iconic of most presidencies since the end of World War II, and a belief that crosses both interventionist and non-interventionist ideologies. Just because President Obama believes that the military of the United States should be strong does not indicate he desires to use it beyond the current wars he inherited, nor should it be an indicator of interventionist thought. It certainly should not be viewed as a neoconservative agenda, since President Obama differs on most of the Bush Doctrine’s ideas—unilateral action and the use of preventative war, to name a few. His final quote, “America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, and the world cannot meet them without America,” is a direct rejection of unilateral action by President Obama, and a perfect example of non neo-conservative thought. In the attempt to prove his argument Rosen has stumbled into the classic trap of political ideology, that mistaken belief that concepts are cookie-cutter in their nature, and can only fit into a single slot. American interventionism has been used by a variety of ideologies for a variety of circumstances, while still being applied differently. And while the question of President Obama’s views on American interventionism may be somewhat unclear, one thing is certain—he is certainly not a neo-conservative.

T

—Daniel Salton ’10 is a political science major and Chair of the Vassar College Judicial Board

Juan Thompson Guest Columnist

his Thursday marks the eleventh anniversary of the fatal shooting of 23-year-old African immigrant Amadou Diallo. Diallo had just finished his breakfast and was standing outside of his Bronx apartment building, where he was approached by four men in a vehicle. He then ran up the stairs of his building, turned around to face the group of unknown men while putting a hand inside of a pocket, and was shot forty one times. The group of men who killed Diallo were detectives with the New York Police Department (NYPD), who stated that Diallo resembled a serial rapist they were seeking. When questioned about the incident, the officers claimed to have identified themselves as members of the NYPD, and were attempting to ask Diallo questions when he ran up the stoop and put one hand in his pocket, as if reaching for a weapon. The Diallo shooting was followed in 2000 by the Patrick Dorismond killing. Dorismond was approached by an undercover NYPD officer who asked him if he had any weed for sale. Dorismond reacted angrily and told the undercover officer that he was not a drug dealer. What followed is still not fully known. The NYPD claimed Dorismond punched one of the officers, and then attempted to reach for the officer’s gun. Dorismond’s friend, however, contested the NYPD’s claims, protesting that the police never identified themselves as members of the NYPD and actually initiated the fight. The two cases described above are among many that demonstrate the problems of law enforcement within urban America. Every day in the United States inner city residents have to live with the dual problems of neighborhood criminals and a police force that they don’t often trust. As one who

lives in the inner city myself, I was always aware of the negative feelings many people had towards the police. Residents who don’t trust the police won’t help the police, which results in criminals being allowed to operate freely. Over winter break there was a shooting in my hometown of St. Louis, Mo. where a 16-year-old black male was shot and killed after he tried to run a police officer over with a stolen car. The reaction from St. Louis’ black community was fierce, with many criticizing the police officer and accusing him of overreacting. But what was the officer—who was also black­—to do? His life was in danger, and he had the right to protect himself against a thief who was attempting to run him down with a stolen vehicle. Who would not have done the same to protect his or her own well-being? Yet what followed the incident was not a condemnation of the troubled young man or the system that produced him, but a harsh and unfair critique of the officer for defending himself. I recently spoke with Jon Cunningham, a St. Louis City police officer who also happens to be a friend of mine. I asked Cunningham why police officers were so prone to draw their weapons on young black men. He responded that while there are some racist officers, in general, law enforcement isn’t a racist institution. He said that because black men tend to commit most of the crime in St. Louis, and because St. Louis has a high black population in general, there tends to be more interaction between the police and black residents. Officer Cunningham is black himself, and recognizes that the anger from the black community is not entirely without merit. He continued, “We’re still trying to fix a problem that has been ingrained in our system for years and years. [A problem] Where the police

often targeted black people instead of doing their duty and protecting them.” My friend’s decision to become a police officer altered my opinion of the police. He decided to join after majoring in criminal justice in college, and his joining introduced me to the other side of the dynamic. Before that, I too, would reflexively attack them because of my own experiences, as a black man, with the police. But I came to the realization that most police officers are decent people who are striving to protect the cities in which they serve. Understandably, the negative feelings will not completely disappear. But we must understand that the police, despite everything, aren’t the problem. The problem is the system that turns people into criminals: broken families; failing schools that are incapable of providing hope for a better future to millions of people; and cities filled with vacant, destitute homes that create a depressing and deflating milieu. Some of the solutions to our problems, like broken families, will not be found in government policy; they will only be found within our communities and within ourselves. These problems are complex and it will take time to fully correct them. However, there are some things that can be done in the short run to strengthen the relationship between the police and urban communities. For example, government authorities can create a stronger bond between the police and the community by getting cops out of cruisers and onto the streets, as well as by creating stronger community review boards. The goal of the police is to prevent crime by keeping communities safe. The job of the community should be to assist the police in their work. But in order for the two sides to effectively work with each other, they must first trust and understand each other.

Crossword by Jonathan Garfinkel ACROSS 1. Itty-bitty buzzer 5. Gin flavorer, possibly 9. Pile 13. Church feature 14. It may be septic 15. High (latitude) fashion? 16. Hat feature 17. Info about the enemy 19. What one Bush is always trying to run for? 20. Remove the outer layer 23. Baseballer Mel ___ 25. Big bang producer (abbr.) 26. Namesake of the

Duke boys’ ride 29. Singer Corrine Bailey and others 31. (Sigh) 32. Electrical jump 33. “The Thin Man” pup 34. Mid first century year 35. Boy chasing Estella 38. Fall 40. “And so on”, briefly 41. Train stop (abbr.) 42. With “The”, notable NYC nightclub, briefly 43. Norwegian capitol 45. Mythical fate cutting the string 47. NOVA airer

Answers to last week’s puzzle

48. There may be quite a bit of it about nothing 49. Big winner at the Grammys 53. Locale with notable caucuses 55. Paris airport 56. Genetic msgr. material 58. Band welcoming you to the jungle, briefly 59. Lazy one 63. Teeny 64. Impulsive parts of psyches 65. Pain 67. Rearward 68. Some flightless birds 69. Carpet style 70. Slime 71. Blue 74. Foolish mo. 75. Speed skater Appolo Anton and others 77. Reason for bisous 79. _____ Gay (atomic bomber) 83. Fiery strand 87. Kathmandu’s land 88. “I’m ____!” (“Consider it done!”) 89. Florentine river 90. Capped joint 91. Miami’s county 92. Army big-shots, briefly

DOWN 1. Talk and talk and talk 2. “This American Life” airer 3. When repeated, “Soso” to Pablo 4. Wx datum 5. Heel style 6. Certain (nerdy) type of party 7. Toronto prov. 8. Just barely manage 9. Ugly old lady 10. Q.E.D. part 11. Related 12. Breathe quickly 15. Philadelphia “King of Steaks” 18. Nabokov classic 21. Age 22. Artist’s support 24. Mar 26. Edinburgh boy 27. Make an oops 28. Green prefix 30. Bag, perhaps 31. Lou Gehrig’s disease (abbr.) 35. Group shutting Ke$ha’s party down 36. Wall St. debut 37. Part of a fawkes pass? 39. New Orleans sandwich specialty 42. Musical conclusions 44. 9 digits on a 1040

or W2 46. Bar type 47. Troubled “Full Metal Jacket” Private 49. Kowtow, say 50. Before, poetically 51. Pinch 52. Keep on truckin’, say 53. Not fully developed 54. Author Pamuk 57. Donkey

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

58. Fuel 60. Fall behind 61. Roswell sighting, briefly 62. Classic Pontiac 66. It may be boosted by answering this 68. Mid-level nobleman 71. Went under 72. Prayer ender 73. Ninny

76. One may turn it on after hopping out of bed 78. Dubai’s federation (abbr.) 80. Sign of approval 81. “We’re ___ mission from God!” 82. Cap 84. Wrath 85. Anderson Cooper’s home 86. Defeats, briefly


HUMOR & SATIRE

February 4, 2010

Page 13

OPINIONS

Deers culled by cliché Zombie apocalypse nigh Kelly Stout

Features Editor

I

f there’s one thing I love more than wildlife along the Town Houses path— and that’s a big “if”—it’s teen film classics. Sixteen Candles, Mean Girls, Clueless, you name it. I love ‘em all. The dark horse (jury’s still out on whether I’m using that expression correctly) of the teen movie scene is, of course, Heathers. In Heathers, a pre-shoplifting controversy Winona Ryder teams up with a weirdo from out of town to murder the popular kids at her high school. Spoiler alert: They’re successful, and it’s really weird. Why am I bringing this up? Great question. Someone mentioned Heathers in my media studies seminar the other day and it brought to mind the sad fate of some of our local deer friends. In the article “Deer culling elicits local controversy” that appeared its Jan. 27 issue, The Miscellany News reported that, “The sharpshooter only killed deer if he could kill an entire social group.” My first reaction: yikes. That sounds like the plot of my favorite late-1980s black comedy. So, as I always do for these columns, I conducted some fictional and halfassed research into the social groups that the sharpshooters “culled.” Which group was the first to go? How did this upset affect the deers’ annual “Winter Wonderland” dance? I feared the worst. Didn’t the sharpshooters know that the deer were only forming cliques as part of a perfectly natural adolescent need to fit in? And what is the plural form of “deer?” Here’s what I found: The popular deers: They were the first social group to go. It felt like a triumph for the hot but vapid deer (see below) because it temporarily moved them up the social food chain, but they soon realized that the football team deer were going to have to throw the keggers now that Bambi wasn’t around to have everyone over to the clearing when his mom was out of town. The hot but vapid deers: Almost popular. That’s why they were second, but they were too stupid to really command power à la Regina George. More of a Karen situation. Their antlers can tell when it’s about to rain—well, they can tell when it’s already raining. The football team deers: Hulking and muscular, these brawny fawns are responsible for 75 percent of the venison donation. The death of the football team serves as another great example of jocks doing community service not because they want to, but because they are forced to. The burnout deers: Only semi-popular because they grazed on the best grass. Art

freaks in particular had mixed feelings when they were culled. The teacher’s pets: No one likes a teacher’s pet, but this became a major problem for the thespians, who were used to sitting around looking pretentious and pretending they had done the reading while the teacher’s pets did the legwork. Third period was super awk when all the thespians had to pretend to know what “Hamlet” was about. The brainiacs: Somehow more palatable than the teacher’s pets, the advantage to being a brainiac is that you might end up making out with the captain of the swim team while you tutor him for his SATs. Ultimately though, tired of getting B-minuses on everything, jealousy got the best of the sharpshooter. On the brighter side, as the brainiac group lay dying, they were courteous enough to inform me that though it sounds awkward, “deers” is actually the plural form of “deer.” The art freaks and thespian deers: Few were sorry to see them go after last year’s failure of a spring musical: “Deer World.” Ugh. The goths: Black lipstick actually looks okay on deers. What made this group insufferable was its devotion to Tim Burton and those creepy sideways glances they were always giving the hot but vapid deers through their eyeliner. And those purple antlers? Had to go. The band geek deers: There was some overlap with the virgins (see below), so the sharpshooter took a half-day on these guys. The frustrated, white, female protagonist deers: In this group we find the Samantha Bakers, Cady Herons and Veronica Sawyers of the deer world. The sharpshooter spared them so Bambiwood could continue to make millions on teen movies that feature either a white doe’s fall from social grace, a white doe’s dissatisfaction with her high school’s social structure or a white doe’s realization that there’s life beyond the herd. All of these films will develop creepy cult followings in subsequent decades, allowing deers that are yet to be born to watch them on DVD in high school and find them “weirdly relatable.” The virgins: Always the last to die, the sharpshooter also spared the virgins. This was a good call from both a horror movie moral and population control angle. Deers, you will be missed. Hopefully the College learned a very important lesson that Veronica came to understand at the end of Heathers. I’m paraphrasing here, but the sentiment remains: “It’s one thing to want someone out of your life, but it’s another thing [cull them].”

Mitchell Gilburne

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o, It’s 2010. We’ve blown through an entire decade of the new millennium. Not too much has changed, just little things, like puberty and the iTunes store. Anyway, this brave new decade had me feeling nostalgic, so I decided to think of a few highlights of the 2000’s. Of course my Bar Mitzvah ranks pretty high on that list as does the removal of braces, but I think I had some of my most memorable moments with my Playstation 2. The year was 2002, and Final Fantasy X had hit the shelves. I called up my Nana and told her to get her credit card ready. We were going shopping. The latest installment in the Final Fantasy series was a marvel of technology in brilliant 3D that allowed me to explore a lush tropical world populated by inventive and exotic creatures. The game was even home to a tribal community of blue feline creatures called the “Ronso” who made their home at an ancient site sacred to their people and integral to the ecosystem of the world. Hey wait! You must be thinking that this sounds familiar. Can the Japanese have really been dreamed this up way back in 2002? If that were true, then James Cameron would be one hell of a plagiarist because the preceding paragraph pretty much sums up that whole revolutionary Avatar experience. How can so many people truly be taken in by a clumsy amalgamation of appropriated intellectual property? There is only one explanation for this: People are becoming mindless husks. The zombie apocalypse is upon us. Now, before you panic, a zombie apocalypse is not the end of the world, and Vassar is not the worst place to hole up during the end of days. Vassar is at least partially walled and wellstocked with food and medicine. There is still the issue of where to house the rag tag band of the 200 or so survivors who will be squatting at our gates after the dust has settled. Essentially, the big question is: Which Dorm will be most effective in supporting and protecting a refugee population in the event of global zombie takeover? Lathrop: My advice, skip it. I’d rather take my chances with the zombies than risk the bed bug infestations and fungal infections that characterize everyone’s favorite party dorm. Raymond: Next up, Raymond. I’ll pass again. You’ll find more exciting company among the hordes of the undead. Besides, I hear that the supernatural club is housed in their basement. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where all this zombie nonsense started. Strong: Relatively clean and quiet, one might be initially inclined to believe that Strong House would be a peaceful and comfortable place to make a final stand against the undead. Unfortunately, zombies crave human flesh. This means that, in some mythologies at least, zombies can smell blood. Strong is exclusively populated by women. Women Bleed. ‘Nuff said. Davison: Rounding out the quad dorms is Davi-

Weekly Calendar: 2/4 - 2/10 THURSDAY, 2/4 12 p.m. Feldenkrais. I’m not 100% sure that I know what this is, but I’m pretty positive it’s going to be FeldenKRAIZY!!! Kenyon Club Room. 3 p.m. Tea. The Winter Olympics are right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I need to brush up on my curling skillz. Break out the Wii! Rose Parlor. 8 p.m. Holla for Haiti. Finally, I can direct my belligerence towards a worthy cause. Let’s get our freak on! Ely Hall Aula.

FRIDAY, 2/5

Guest Columnist

by Katie Cornish, Lila Teeters and Molly Turpin

10 p.m. Sophomore After Dark Hangout. Ohmygawd! A night with hair braiding and college boys!? What more could a girl dream of? Student’s Building, 2nd Floor MPR.

SATURDAY, 2/6 5 p.m. Nicholas Meyer Lecture. My choice not to attend this particular event is only part of my much larger plan to live long and prosper. Vogelstein Drama and Film Center, Rosenwald Screen Room. 10 p.m. Calle Ocho. Whatever it is, you know there’ll be eight of them. Villard Room.

3 p.m. Tea. Be sure to attach securely the wrist strap of your “broom.” Last time I took out Princess Peach with an overzealous curling stone. Safety first! Rose Parlor.

SUNDAY, 2/7

10 p.m. Russian Mug Night. Pay tribute to your Russian heritage by waiting in a long line for vodka. Thank goodness that liquor license went through! The Mug.

MONDAY, 2/8

son. She’s won’t admit to anything, but it’s clear she’s had some work done. And, quite frankly, she looks good. Davison would surely make a comfortable home, but unfortunately for our band of survivors, all of these comforts are cosmetic. The odd split-level nature affords little protection, the kitchen is limited and too close to a point of entry to be considered safe, and the halls are far too narrow. Zombies are slow and stupid, and such close quarters negate these fundamental weaknesses. Davison’s out. Joss: With nice bathrooms, comfortable rooms and cozy parlors, Joss would make a suitable shelter. Its only real weakness is its location on the edge of campus, and while Joss residents normally feel secure despite this vulnerability, the Vassar bubble doesn’t work against zombies. Cushing: There’s not much to say. Cushing just doesn’t inspire my need for survival. I just can’t imagine staving off armies of the undead from Snow White’s college. Okay, of course I can imagine doing this, but can you? Noyes: Noyes is an interesting case. The narrow halls and disorienting layout definitely act as a mark against this psychedelic outpost, but the mini kitchens on every floor, the functional and luxurious public space, and proximity to ACDC are all great reasons to consider shacking up in Noyes. Jewett: Now we’re getting somewhere. Jewett is close to our food source, and an easily defensible network of choke points in the stairwells throughout the tower provide citadel-like protection. Negatives include the kitchen being located in the basement as well as tiny, tiny rooms. I know it’s the apocalypse, but have you ever been in a Jewett single? Main: Ah Main, The crown jewel of the campus (just don’t tell the library!) Where to begin? Central location is a plus, as is access to the Retreat and College Center. Its size and spacious hallways make escape possible even in the event of zombie infiltration. Of course, this labyrinthine structure could work against our survivors, but I doubt they survived this long without learning to fully survey a shelter. The building could also be broken down into zones and could be fortified to accommodate the amount of living space needed. A small group could take a tower, or the fifth floor proper. There’s also roof access—an excellent vantage like that is the making of a zombie snipers’ wet dream. Main’s main drawback is its size—too many entrances to defend them all. Furthermore, it is possible that by being forced upwards, our survivors could become trapped on the third floor with only a simple swipe of a VCard keeping the undead at bay. So, there you have it. James Cameron has single-handedly loosed Armageddon upon the earth (I personally blame the 3D glasses. Man was not meant to see in three dimensions!). I’ve done my best to educate you, but ultimately the choice is yours. Where would you want to ride out the apocalypse? Me, personally, I’ll be in Ferry House. Zombies hate vegans; they just don’t like the taste.

All Day SUPER BOWL! My favorite day of the year. Anyone up for tailgating in the College Center?

3 p.m. Tea. Wait hold up, my mii isn’t right. She’s looking so 2009 right now. Rose Parlor.

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9 p.m. Trivia Night. “Question #1: Where’s Betty?” The Mug.

TUESDAY, 2/9 3 p.m. Tea. I don’t know what your preferred curling broom is. I fancy the Firebolt myself. Rose Parlor. 5:30 p.m. Jumpstart Your Internship Search. Don’t fret if you can’t put together a perfect resume. Next month we’ll show you how to put together a perfect burger. Rocky 300.

WEDNESDAY, 2/10 11 a.m. SEXPO! Hopefully this year’s models went in the same direction as the iPad, if you know what I mean. College Center. 3 p.m. Tea. I feel pretty confident. When has Sweden beaten Princess Peach at anything!? Rose Parlor.


ARTS

February 4, 2010

Page 15

Startling amount of student public art vandalized

Image courtesy of Rhys Bambrick

VANDALISM continued from page 1 destructive activities. There’s straight up vandalism, which is usually stuff that can be replaced. You can fix it,” explained Rowland. “Then there’s what happened to the Matthew Vassar bunker. That was a theft; they stole the iPod. Then there was a piece that was censored last year by the administration, so I would put that under destruction as well. Then finally, there’s utter destruction, where you literally can’t save the work.” While the majority of Vassar’s recent incidents have fallen into Rowland’s first three categories, studio art major Russell Webner ’11 felt the sting of the fourth earlier this fall. “I built this spiral spire cylindertype construction that was made out of recycled fence posts. The viewer could go inside of it or walk around it. It was right outside of the Retreat by the trees,” described Webner. “I was working all through the night the day before it was due. I think I worked 12 hours straight—40 hours total.” After presenting the project to his class on a Thursday, Webner awoke Friday morning to a text from a friend warning him of the damage he was to behold. “My sculpture was literally obliterated. It went straight from the heap it was left in to the dumpster,” explained Webner. “More than anything, it was really disappointing. I didn’t even get to take a picture of it, which was really the most frustrating part. What took me 40 hours of work to create took no more than one minute to destroy.” While neither the Sculpture I class nor Webner, who happens also to be part of that class, sought to play the blame game, both parties remarked on the distinct correlation between student drinking and sculpture destruction. Rhys Bambrick ’11, an art major perhaps best known around campus for his primary-colored ribbon sculptures and a victim of vandal-

Rhys Bambrick ’11 displays his primary-colored ribbon sculpture, “RYB Wood,” for last spring’s first experimental organic arts festival, HOWBOWT. Like many Vassar public art displays, Bambrick’s works have fallen victim to campus vandalism. ism himself, shared their sentiment. “[Destruction] seems to be heavily related to people drinking. I understand that. And as someone who drinks, I’m not going to be high and mighty above these people who get a little out of control once and a while,” explained Bambrick. “It’s just disconcerting that what they target isn’t a faceless object, an anonymous object, a table or a chair—I would understand that more. But to know

that these kids see this work that’s hand-made on campus, that’s academic work—it would be like taking someone’s essay and ripping it up.” While drunken tomfoolery is the unfortunate source of much vandalism and damage around campus, there is an added layer of peer-topeer respect that is entirely violated with the destruction of student works. “It’s very different to be destruc-

tive toward school property, which is still bad, versus destroying your fellow students’ work,” remarked Rowland. “I don’t think people are aware that there’s a lot of work that goes into these pieces. There’s a lot of pride when you make something.” As students, these artists are bound by the limitations set by their resources, by the finite assortment of materials that are readily available for their use. In New York, in

Chicago, in cities around the world, we find public art constructed of impermeable materials like steel and tiles. At Vassar, students do not have this luxury. “We don’t have these professional tools. We can’t make something that can stand up to hurricane force winds, and we definitely can’t make something that will stand up to a drunk kid who puts his foot to it,” explained Webner. “We’re just students coming to terms with these tools. Not everything you make is sturdy.” While organizations like the Vassar Public Art Committee exist with the goal of facilitating the work of these student artists, the organization’s founder, Joseph Redwood-Martinez ’11, recognized the complexity in allotting limited funds to projects that may be destroyed, stolen or vandalized. “I’ve had a lot of pieces proposed that just aren’t possible because of the risks involved. Students will fabricate a piece and then it might get stolen, it might get damaged. In some cases, the idea of public might need to be recontextualized,” said Redwood-Martinez. Despite these setbacks, the affected student artists plan to continue creating their public works with full vigor, accepting the potential for destruction as a part of the art itself. “I love public art because of its ability to impose itself on people’s lives. You don’t have to ask them to come to your gallery for your opening. You just put it where people can walk by. It’s a whole different context,” explained Bambrick. “There’s something beautiful about falling upon a piece of artwork accidentally. You don’t have to think it’s beautiful; you don’t have to think that it’s art. But just to fall upon something that’s out of ordinary in your line of sight. And I guess that’s why people have noticed the object and might act out toward it.”

English professor’s novel translated to stage Wally Fisher

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Reporter

Though he writes books that he himself would read, Russell acknowledges the influence of his favorite authors. “In some way,” said Russell, “I sort of take what I like from this author, and I combine it with what I like from this other author. And so, in some sense, no single thing there is completely original, but the mix is hopefully different than the mix that anyone else has ever made.” When describing his own drive in this project, Tilley validates the uniqueness of Russell’s work. Since Tilley is not translating books into plays every day, this novel obviously struck a chord within him. “What inspires me as a director is work that touches me. Sea of Tranquility left a mark on me,” the director wrote. “So I try to use my work to carry whatever inspires me to a larger audience, hoping to inspire them too.” This collaboration ultimately came about through a year’s worth of dialogue through email. Russell described the experience as incredibly interesting and strange due to his lack of experience in playwriting and also due to the fact that he had not looked at his novel in years. As such, there were scenes that he had forgotten and also scenes that could not easily be adapted to the stage. Citing one particular scene where two boys spy into a neighbor’s windows at dusk, he explained, “They look into one window and there are these two old women there with lots of canaries that they let fly around the house. The two boys go into some kind of fantasia that these birds are teaching these two old ladies how to fly. And I did not remember writing that scene. Even reading that scene, I could not remember that I had written it. It was a very strange experience to realize that something at

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

Image courtesy of Paul Russell

hat do you do after you achieve your dreams? What’s next after you accomplish greatness? Most people obsess over the qualifying goals rather than these questions. Especially in a “live for the moment,” instant gratification society. Few concern themselves with consequences of any nature, let alone those that are more life changing than an increased waistline. These are just the sorts of questions explored in a special guest reading of “Within the Clouds,” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Martel Theater. This staged reading marks Professor of English Paul Russell’s first brush with theater. He has collaborated with actor and dancer Jonathan Tilley to create “Within the Clouds,” a stage adaptation of his own novel, Sea of Tranquility. Both the adaptation and original text examine the interconnected lives of an American family parented by a former astronaut and an alcoholic wife. Sea of Tranquility is comprised of two parts, with the latter half taking place ten years after the former. The play, “Within the Clouds,” covers only the first half. Besides the omission of the second part, it is a faithful adaptation of the book; there are only minor changes to help transition the story to the stage. In the novel, Russell uses separate narratives for the individual parents, which he then merged into one for the play. “As soon as I sort of put those pieces together, I then came up with two other voices: one, their son, and the other, their son’s lover. It became a quartet of four voices telling their interweaving stories. It was an interesting moment when I suddenly realized that what I was doing with the right hand

and what I was doing with the left were not two different things, but part of the same whole.” This connectivity inspired the reading’s director, American actor Jonathan Tilley. Tilley has had an illustrious career as a dancer in film and theater, most notably performing in German productions of “Cats,” “42nd Street” and “Mamma Mia!” He has also done work doing choreography in fashion shows and music videos in Europe. For the upcoming reading of “Within the Clouds,” Tilley will direct a cast of Vassar students who will bring to life the characters of Russell’s narrative. “Actually, a very good friend of mine lent me the book Sea of Tranquility in 2002 and told me, ‘This needs to be turned into a play,’” Tilley recalled in an e-mailed statement. “So I read it, fell in love with it, but it didn’t turn into anything at the time. Then much later, I picked it up again and read it, remembering how I was so strongly moved. I felt like the characters’ voices were so well written and they were all so wonderfully intertwined that I honestly could imagine them right before my eyes. They were tangible. Much more than any old book.” As an author, Russell maintained a rigid writing process for Sea of Tranquility. Russell abides by a strict two-hours-per-day desk rule. “It doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the novel the rest of the time,” explained Russell. “I’m actually kind of consumed by it. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who can’t really do anything else while I’m writing. I can’t spend time visiting friends; I often can’t read books by other people. All the time I’m actually not writing, I’m trying to keep myself ready to write. The discipline of waiting is, in some ways, as important as the discipline of writing.”

Pictured above, Sea of Tranquility is the third novel by Vassar Professor of English Paul Russell. the time that completely consumed you could so totally disappear from your memory.” After working through the adaptation process, both Russell and Tilley are excited for the reading. Tilley held a reading in his current town of Stuttgart, Germany, and more tweaking followed. Since Tilley lives abroad, the two collaborators have never met face-to-face during this year of writing. Of this fact, Russell remarked, “10 years ago, it wouldn’t be possible!” It turns out there are some benefits to our current obsession with immediacy, after all.


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February 4, 2010

Limit revels in Exhibition joins alumnae across decades sketch comedy, T varies media Danielle Nedivi Reporter

“We push what is considered acceptable,” said Lauer. “But we do like to think our humor is unexpected,” added Files. Alexandra Sarrigeorgiou Reporter

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katherinemangiardi.com

o tell the story of The Limit’s conception, one must begin with a rumor: Matt Carey ’03, one of the group’s founding members, wanted to start a new comedy club at Vassar. He went to the Campus Activities Office to present his idea, but failed to impress. “There are already three comedy groups on campus,” they said. “There needs to be a limit.” “Then we will be The Limit!” Carey jokingly replied, thus giving birth to Vassar’s youngest comedy group. As amusing as this story is, The Limit’s coPresidents Kristen Lauer ’11 and Daniel Files ’11 recently found out that it is far from the truth. “The actual story,” said Lauer, “goes that the point of The Limit is that there is no limit to our comedy.” The group was originally intended to perform all different kinds of comedy: from improv to sketch to stand-up. “Of course now we’ve imposed strict limits to our comedy,” said Files, since the group has focused only on sketch comedy and videos for the past few years. “We have the dignity to write and think about what we’re doing before we make people watch it,” joked Files, explaining why the group stays at a safe distance from improvisational comedy. Lauer and Files both lovingly remembered the time when they first joined The Limit as freshmen. “They were just really friendly, really open, really fun,” said Lauer. “We were also influenced by the seniors who were in the group at the time,” added Files. “They were really dedicated, and we became close friends with them. It sort of becomes your family.” Lauer and Files recalled that the Vassar comedy scene was different four years ago. “The groups were a lot more distinct,” said Lauer. “Each group seemed to have its own specific style; now most students don’t know what the difference between each comedy group is.” Although reluctant to compare themselves to other groups, the co-presidents agreed that there are distinctions. “We are usually more offensive,” said Files, explaining how The Limit stands out. “And we always do sketch comedy and video, while some of the other groups do improv.” In terms of style, The Limit seems to be trying to push the boundaries of humor. “We push what is necessarily considered acceptable at times,” said Lauer. “But we do like to think our humor is unexpected,” added Files. “The point of comedy is in a lot of ways to not take anything seriously—even yourself.” However, both were very aware of the need to not take things too far and stay clear of dangerous territory. “We don’t want to offend anyone,” explained Files. “We don’t think it’s funny to do something just because it is offensive.” In their upcoming events, The Limit will perform five- to eight-minute long sketches, accompanied by videos. The shows will last for approximately an hour. When asked about the topics of their sketches, the presidents were first at a loss. “Cats!” exclaimed Files, “I wanted to have as many cat jokes, cat pictures—I like cats.” “We’re a little bizzare,” laughed Lauer. “We’ve been told that we’re going towards absurdism and dark humor,” she continued, and they both proceeded to jokingly list off what we should expect to appear in their upcoming show: “naked acrobatics, unicycling, cats unicycling, fireworks,…, mild violence, sexual themes, mild profanity.” “I would give the show a rating of R,” said Files. “Um, maybe NC-17,” laughed Lauer. The upcoming events will take place on Feb. 5 and 6 from 9 to 11 p.m. in Sanders Classroom 212.

he struggling artist is more than just a cliché;it is often reality. An upcoming exhibition at the Palmer Gallery will feature works by some fortunate exceptions. Two Vassar graduates received the opportunity to paint for a year without the usual financial worries thanks to the W.K. Rose Fellowship. The W. K. Rose Exhibition—which will take place Feb. 7 to 20 and conclude Modfest’s month-long celebration of the modern and contemporary arts at Vassar—will feature the works of Eleanor Daniels ’66 and Katherine Mangiardi ’04. The two women, respectively, were the first and most recent recipients of the generous grant that aims to assist alumnae/i who pursue careers in the arts. William Kent Rose created the fellowship that funded the endeavors of these two artists and many more. He was a highly respected English professor at Vassar from 1953 until his early death from a brain tumor in 1968. In his last year of life, Rose established the grant to help art students—including those in drama, film and music—ease into the challenges of a life devoted to creativity. He wrote in his will: “My object in creating this fellowship is to provide a worthy young artist with a chance to be free after college to get on with his work as an artist.” Rose believed that it was important for artists to be inventive without fiscal pressures gnawing on their minds or side-jobs sapping their energy. He explained that he wanted the recipients to “look out windows, read and wait for ideas to coalesce, all the while knowing [that they’ll] be able to pay the rent.” Daniels was one of the two inaugural recipients of Rose’s supportive fellowship. She claimed the grant jumpstarted her career: She went from never selling a painting, to living off of her sales. The fellowship bolstered her artistic credibility to the point that she won a scholarship to the Villa Schifanoia in Italy and applied to teach at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. Daniels painted rich, vibrant landscapes full of colorful flowers of all types. She passed away in 1990 after fighting ovarian cancer for five years. She had started a fund to support cancer research, and copies of her paintings on note cards and posters are still sold today to raise money for the cause. Mangiardi’s artwork makes an interesting contrast to that of Daniels’. Her interpretation of her own art changes every day, but as she writes in a personal statement on her website: “My paintings have often been de-

Pictured above is “Untitled,” a 2006 acrylic on canvas by Katherine Mangiardi ’04. Mangiardi’s artwork displays, “the obsessive nature of embroidery, lacemaking and other textiles once made by hand.” scribed as ethereal and haunting.” Over the phone, she named her favorite artists as photographer Francesca Woodman and installation artist Ann Hamilton. Mangiardi explains in her personal statement that her greatest current inspiration is “the obsessive nature of embroidery, lace-making and other forms of textiles once made by hand.” Compared to Daniels’ works, the palette in Mangiardi’s paintings is much deeper and more muted. Her paintings are gorgeously detailed and imaginative, and even slightly Tim Burtonesque at times. Other W. K. Rose recipients in different artistic fields will also show at Vassar next week. They will demonstrate their own talents during a special event before the exhibition reception, Sunday, Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. in the Villard Room. Composer Jonathan Elliott ’84, who has performed at Yale University, on NPR and at the World Bank Theater, will premiere his composition “Field Music: Ganges.” Writers Ralph Sassone ’83, whose first novel

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The Intimates will be published this year, and recent graduate Kate Brattin ’07 will read excerpts from their new works. Vassar Art Professor Peter Charlap praised the grant as “one of, if not the most, generous awards given by an undergraduate institution for creative work.” Yet even the $45,000 fellowship, Mangiardi admitted, was hardly a match for her graduate school loans. She candidly said, “It’s hard living as an artist. Unless you are completely passionate, don’t do it.” She said that living as an artist means resigning yourself to the inevitability of uncertainty. “You have to start to learn to be okay with complete insecurity,” she advised. “You don’t really know what will come next.” However, she would never change her job: Ever since she attended Vassar, she knew without a doubt that she could only devote her life to art. Mangiardi’s final piece of advice to aspiring artists? “Marry a rich doctor!” she joked. Although with her talent, she might not need any financial help in the near future.


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February 4, 2010

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From bathtub to big screen, Camilleri is ‘genre-neutral’ David Lopez

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Reporter

Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News

t 12 years old, Alex Camilleri ’10 began producing his first film. He created a swampy environment within his bathtub and acted out a plot with his collection of action figures. Even as a child, Camilleri had a zest for filmmaking that would eventually grow into a full-blown passion. Today, Camilleri is a film major and distinguished filmmaker with several productions already under his belt. From his earliest film to his endeavors here at Vassar, inspiration seeps from every part of life, waiting to be captured. “We had, like, two videotapes when I was a kid: The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars,” Camilleri said on his early childhood exposure. “But I watched those movies repeatedly. Religiously might be a better word.” Camilleri’s film aspirations continued into high school with an idea for a documentary on mullets. “This involved sneaking around hardware stores and videotaping men and women who had mullets,” said Camilleri. From the get-go, Camilleri had a light, humorous edge to his work, no matter the content. “Thinking back on this now, it sounds pretty exploitative. And it was. The mullets didn’t really have a voice for themselves. I guess we were too scared to ask anyone about their mullets. Mullets are a little bit scary.” Since coming to Vassar, Camilleri has stopped distinguishing between genres, but instead merges them together. “I’m genreneutral,” said Camilleri. “However, I greatly admire films that blend genres. Those films, to me, are often the most interesting. Maybe this is because life is a mixture of genres.” Following the tradition of mullets, Camilleri recently shot a brief documentary on Vassar’s facial hair preferences titled Whisker Chasers. The four-minute documentary about attitudes towards different styles of beards, sideburns and mustaches began as a lighthearted idea that ended up bringing out deeper meanings. “What we discovered is that no matter how simple a subject might appear, there’s likely to be much more depth than you might expect,” said Camilleri. “From such a simple subject and simple questions, we unearthed some pretty striking responses that revealed a lot of conscious and unconscious material from our subjects’ psyches.” Last semester, Camilleri directed a 20-minute documentary entitled Still Here that has

earned him praise and consideration for film festivals around the country. “I worked with some extremely talented classmates (David Viste ’10—cinematographer, Kyle Porter ’10—sound recorder, Amrita Kundu ’10—editor), and I had such a rich learning experience basically dedicating my life to the film,” stated Camilleri. The film follows a New York City native, Randy Baron—a victim of AIDS who dedicates his life to spreading awareness of HIV. Creating and executing a film can be a grueling process, as it was while creating Sill Here. “The process was draining, of course. We drove to Queens almost every weekend to interview our subject. On shooting days, we would be working 13 hours,” explained Camilleri. “It was difficult starting out because the nature of the topic was so emotional and, in many ways, horrific. It was hard not to be weighed down by the awful reality of the events and the history that our film sought to explore.” “The response to the film has been very gratifying,” said Camilleri. “I think everyone who worked on it is proud of our work. We are currently submitting it to film festivals all around the country. I don’t really know what to expect.” With all the rising acclaim surrounding the film, Camilleri is happy to have this poignant story be told. “At the bare minimum, I’m just excited by the prospect of more people hearing the extraordinary story of Randy Baron; it’s a story that deserves telling and is much more important than the film itself,” he said. A video camera as a present at 12 years old was only just the beginning. Now, he has created a 20-minute documentary. Tomorrow could bring the possibility of a film that touches people all over the world. Camilleri’s unwavering hold on his film dreams is a day-to-day process with a long-term passion. However, he understands that by living a life separate from film he can experience inspiration to bring to his films. “This is the most counter-intuitive lesson of all: To be a really effective filmmaker, making movies has to be secondary in your life. It’s vital for the quality of your art that you remind yourself that you are a human first and that you try to be connected to others in meaningful ways,” stated Camilleri. To some, a bathtub is just a bathtub; to Camilleri, it’s a swamp for action figures to roam.

Senior Alex Camilleri has been making films since he was 12 years old. His “genre-neutral” work covers a wide range of subjects from cultural implications of facial hair on Vassar’s campus to the story of Randy Baron, a victim of AIDS, who now dedicates his life to spreading awareness of the disease.

Modfest and all that jazz: ensemble to unpack style’s history Rachael Borné

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ebop tunes, scat cats, and swung notes all mixing up a Bitches Brew: there’s no denying that jazz is cool. From Jelly Roll Morton to Louis Armstrong, from Dave Brubeck to Winton Marsalis, artists that have popularized the genre have become part of history. But although the popular genre has rich cultural and historical roots, jazz is no doubt a modern art form. According to Director of Jazz and Wind Ensembles Jim Osborn, “All jazz music is new music.” Appropriately, Vassar’s Jazz Ensemble, or better known as The Big Band, will perform as part of Modfest, Vassar’s month-long contemporary arts festival. The concert will take place on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4:30 p.m. in the Students’ Building Second Floor Multi-Purpose Room. For those who are not self-proclaimed jazz enthusiasts, have no fear. The concert will be equally educational and entertaining. To showcase the many types of jazz

music, the band will play several mini-sets within the concert. Each set explores a unique sub-genre or style of jazz. “Not only will the audience be hearing a wide range of jazz music, but because we’re structuring the concert by genre, you’ll hear two or three songs of the same sub-genre,” said trumpeter Isaac Leslie ’10. “This will give the listener more of an opportunity to identify with each particular genre and distinguish it from others,” he added. The band will showcase pieces composed during the big band era— music by Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. The ensemble will also feature jazz vocalists in several of their songs. They’ll even dabble in the Latin jazz genre. Perhaps the most definitive aspect of jazz is its emphasis on improvisation. Although this Saturday’s performance won’t have long, drawn out segments of improv, some of the Duke Ellington and Count Basie pieces will give the audience a taste of this tradition and highlight the

talents of Vassar musicians. Osborn explains the skill needed to back up an improvised solo: “You gotta know what notes sound good with what harmonies. You have to come up with ideas to make interesting melodies. It’s really all about instantly creating something, and hopefully it’s something completely different than what you did the last time,” he said. The sheer number of musicians is what allows The Big Band to claim such a presence. “The Big Band has some beautiful arrangements of all these great tunes which have five or six saxophones playing in harmony. It’s an incredible sound that you can’t create in a combo,” Osborn explained. “The impact of that whole large group with all those horns is just amazing.” Leslie put to shame some common misconceptions about jazz, promising a funky and exciting lineup Saturday night. “Jazz is dance music. Jazz is energetic music. It’s not the sort of bourgeois background music that a lot of people think it is. It’s re-

ally something to move to,” he said. “It’s an art form that comes out of a diverse range of cultures and experiences.” That being said, jazz is admittedly a very abstract, expansive and sometimes complicated style to warm up to. Because of this, Leslie stresses the importance of deconstructing the genre. “Jazz is sort of this coverall term for a huge variety of differ-

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ent genres. So, when you say ‘jazz,’ it’s more important to talk about what period you’re focusing on.” Luckily, the structure of the concert caters exactly to Leslie’s philosophy. With such a diverse array of songs and sub-genres on the set list, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be plenty of catchy tunes to hit a sweet spot in the soul and keep everybody’s feet tapping.

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“Take Care”

BEACH HOUSE

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“Cosmic Rays”

BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB

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The Strange New World Of Bernard Fevre

“Black Country”

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“She Just Likes to Fight”

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There Is Love In You

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Rufus Wainwright The Bardavon Friday, Feb 12, 8 p.m. $55 The son of legendary folk singer Loudon Wainwright III kick-started his career with by being named Rolling Stone’s Best New Artist of the year in 1999, and he has not let up since. From the lilting ode to decadence “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” to a popular cover of the Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah,” the baroque pop crooner has a diversely recognizable repertoire. He has been hailed by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet,” and recently composed an opera that opened in Manchester. Sky White Tiger will open for the pop music virtuoso. —Erik Lorenzsonn, Arts Editor

Flyleaf The Chance Theater Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. $20 Remember Flyleaf? Yeah you do. They stormed the post-grunge rock scene in 2005 with their eponymous debut album, which featured the charting hit song “All Around Me.” The supposedly-Christian rock band continually surfaced seemingly everywhere in pop culture over the next four years, from the video games Rock Band to Guitar Hero 3, and from the soundtrack to Resident Evil: Extinction to that of Live Free and Die Hard. They recently released an album in 2009, and were until recently touring with Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace. Paper Tongues, Sugar Red Drive, and Junket will open. —E.L.

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here is something I need to get off my chest. Ready? I have never seen Adaptation. I have never seen Requiem for a Dream. I have never seen Mulholland Drive. I have never seen The New World. I have never seen 25th Hour. I have never seen The Hurt Locker. I have never seen The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I have never seen Gran Torino. Come to think of it, for that matter I have never seen Oldboy, The Wrestler, Gladiator, The Prestige, Monster, Snatch or even The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I’ve begun to pick up on the fact that people seem to like these movies. Like, really, really like them. And here is a best-of-the-decade list compiled by a guy who has never even seen Brad Pitt playing a Gollum-esque sponge-baby (a curious case of a disturbing degenerative disease is my prognosis). It’s likely that the cinephiles reading my column are giving my byline a mean stink-eye at this point. A movie critic is someone who is paid money to see those movies and then oodles more. But Erik Lorenzsonn is not a movie critic; in fact, Erik Lorenzsonn is simply your average Vassar student who can give a decent backrub, loves the cream cheese and apple pizza at the cafeteria and desires nothing more than a leopard-print Snuggie. So, how’s this for a compromise: Maybe it would be best to read the following as a list of movies I happen to think are particularly boss, rather than a definitive top four. Then we can be friends, right? Sounds good. Up Animation usually transports us to worlds of magic and nonhuman wonder, so it’s astounding that the motifs of Up manage to hit so agonizingly close to home. Pixar’s computer-generated gem does admittedly weave a fantastical yarn involving a balloonsuspended house, Peruvian jungles, talking dogs and a palpable sense of adventure. But it also deals with aging, death, heartbreak and the tragedy of dreams deferred in a manner most gut-wrenching. Don’t even try to convince me you didn’t cry when you saw this sucker; I came close to bawling in a theater full of toddlers who were probably embarrassed for me.

This was truly Pixar’s decade: Ratatouille, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles are awesome movies (let’s turn a blind eye to Cars, shall we?). Up just happens to be the crème de la crème. Chop Shop Guess what? Ramin Bahrani totally visited Vassar last semester, which I think is a big deal. Go us for getting cool lecturers! If you didn’t get to see Bahrani, it’s a shame: His 2006 movie Chop Shop is no less than the Bicycle Thief of our generation, a movie profoundly subdued in style, but practically screaming in subtext. The protagonist of the movie, the bumptious pre-adolescent Ale, must make a life for himself and his sister in the slums of Queens, N.Y., a world of seagull-peppered junkyards and rusty ramshackle warehouses. The movie is inherently a downer; it’s tough to see Ale’s childhood sapped by his unforgiving, impoverished environment. But the standout moments of the movie are the scenes where the orphan’s youth and sense of hope resurface, such as when he playfully wrestles with his older sister or tries to catch pigeons outside the garage where he lives. This small-budget endeavor is imbued with more insight, desperation, hope, love and beauty than any blockbuster I’ve ever seen. Well, except for Transformers. I LOVE YOU OPTIMUS PRIME. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind A rom-com with extensive surrealism, overlapping dialogue, more low-key lighting than you can shake a stick at and not even a whiff of Drew Barrymore? Enough with the peculiarities of Eternal Sunshine and onto the bottom line: Charlie Kaufman’s 2004 opus is the best love story of the decade. Yeah, I went there. Maybe I kowtow this movie so hard because it’s incredibly relevant for us college students. This era in our romantic lives is marked by long-distance dating, unfulfilling hook-ups, hall-cestuous infatuation and confusing sexual exploration. Is this hormonal clusterfuck worth it in the end? Yes, if we are to take anything away from the refreshingly honest, nonlinear narrative of Eternal Sunshine. Joel’s attempt to bury the painful

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memories of his flighty lover Clementine is eventually outstripped by the beauty and happiness of the memories he has with her: autumn walks in a forest, drive-in movie dates and rainy days spent in bed. Sigh. A Prarie Home Companion Slumdog Millionaire was widely called a “celebration of life” by the critics, but that title should rightfully be exclusive to A Prarie Home Companion. “Jai Ho,” was a great song and all, but does it honestly compare to Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin singing “My Minnesota Home?” Um, you’re just going to have to trust me on that one. Robert Altman’s final movie is a rollicking tribute to Garrison Keillor’s classic radio show of the same name. The radio show is a magical enough blend of music, humor and life lessons to begin with, and the cinematic translation does it justice and then some. There’s charming dialogue, toe-tapping folk music and bathroom humor galore (“Did you hear about the Viagra shipment that got stolen? They’re on the lookout for hardened criminals.”) melded with moments of reflection on life, death and the ever-changing world around us. It all weaves a tapestry colorful and life-affirming tapestry that Danny Boyle can only hope to best.

Night of female comedy pushes boundaries Esther Clowney

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aturday’s all-female stand-up comedy show “Stand Up and Rock Out” was, in great part, a commentary on comedy culture itself. At times during “Stand Up and Rock Out” I was reminded of Judd Apatow’s 2009 film, Funny People. Coupled with commentary on the absurd expectations of modern femininity were jokes about being the oddone-out, either alone on stage or set apart in real life. The show, sponsored by Indecent Exposure and the Feminist Alliance, featured stand-up acts by professional comics Jenn Themelis, Chanelle Futrell and Claudia Cogan. Interspersed throughout the show were acts by members of Indecent Exposure. A Barbie video about the rapturous joys of marriage opened the performance, snarkily subtitled by Indecent Exposure with feminist captions and disclaimers. After an introduction by the group and jokes about a blog entirely concerned with “ticklish male celebrities,” Themelis took the stage. Themelis, who helped create the “Obama Girl” ads during the 2008 election and is a contributor to the political satire web site Barely Political, identified herself as a feminist before bemoaning the reduced roles women are allowed to play in society. “There are absolutely zero cool, female serial killers,” she said. “And that movie with

Charlize Theron? By the end you just feel bad for her.” Themelis talked about her fiancé, and the pressures of being engaged to a black American. “When you’re in an interracial relationship, people assume things about you,” Themelis said. “Like, they just automatically just assume we’re not racist.” The ensuing laughter mercifully hid the sound of my cell phone ringtone. Oops. The next comic, Futrell, was not terribly well received. But the mark of a good comedian is not necessarily whether every joke is funny, but how she or he responds when the audience is silent. Futrell resorted to selfdeprecation. “The first step in becoming a professional comic is to learn to disregard the silence completely,” she said. Endearingly insecure, Futrell embodied the challenges faced by women in the competitive world of stand-up comedy. Our culture still has embedded values that subconsciously encourage women to be seen, not heard. On top of that, female comedians can be brutally competitive with each other. Those who survive to prosper in the industry, like Futrell, must be tough as nails on the inside, even if their exterior is one of finessed awkwardness. Of particular interest to the visiting professional comics was the crowd itself. For Futrell, who had never performed at a col-

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

lege before, Vassar students came across as strange, wholesome creatures that spiked their orange juice with cranberry juice in the bathroom of the Mug. “You guys are too nice,” Futrell said, after making a joke at the expense of her old community college. “They would have laughed at that in NYC.” Molly Cahen ’10, who emceed much of the event (at one point playing the part of Jay Leno, to the exasperation of a freshman Conan O’Brien stand-in), performed an act about her experience with the dating site plentyoffish.com. In a very funny throwback to 10th grade literature class, Cahen titled her profile page, “Men are the Most Dangerous Game.” My favorite comedian of “Stand Up and Rock Out” was Cogan. Her description of the challenges women face in stand-up comedy was perhaps the most evocative. “Men back away when they see a women doing comedy. As if they expect me to be hissing estrogen like an angry wombat,” Cogan said. After identifying herself as “a gay,” Cogan proceeded to deliver the most deliciously dirty monologue of the evening, beginning with the requisite joke about the iPad, moving on to “buggery,” “fudgepacking” and “anal bleaching,” and finishing up with the zen-like question, “What happens when a lesbian takes Viagra?” Her strap-on won’t come off for four hours.


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Coach’s corner with Del Harris The Miscellany News sits down with the Brewers’ men’s basketball coach to discuss the season Andy Marmer

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his past weekend, the men’s basketball team dropped a pair of hotly contested matchups against Skidmore College and Union College. Last Friday, Jan. 29, Vassar jumped out to an early 8-2 lead against Skidmore and led once again 13-12, before falling behind 39-24 at the half. The Brewers eventually lost 81-60, dropping their record to 2-15. The following afternoon against Union’s Dutchmen, Vassar trailed just 35-31 at the half. However, the Dutchmen went on a 15-3 run to start the second half, pulling away to win 87-58. After this weekend’s games, the team’s record fell to 2-16 after the game against Union; their home record fell to 2-4. Prior to the two weekend contests, The Miscellany News sat down with Coach Del Harris to discuss his team’s season. Miscellany News: How would you assess your team’s performance so far this year? Coach Harris: Obviously its been a disappointing season for us because we had great expectations, and we still do. The kids play hard every night; they don’t quit. There are just things that go along in a season— injuries, some guys left the team. When you start the season, you don’t factor those things in. It’s hit us really bad this year. There have been nights when we only have seven healthy guys. Sometimes we don’t even have enough guys to practice ... It’s been tough, but everybody’s kept a positive attitude through the bumps and bruises. Believe it or not, we’ve got seven of our last nine games at home, and even though we’ve lost 14 in a row, we’re 2-2 at home, so there is a sense of comfort here at home. Hopefully, we’ll take advantage of that and the league is still wideopen, it’s not like there is somebody atop the league who is 7-0 or somebody 6-1. So if we can just get back in the mix, we’ll be right See HARRIS on page 20

‘Big Phil Tully’ leads volleyball Mitchell Gilburne Reporter

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verybody knows about ‘Big Phil Tully,’” says Head Coach Antonia Sweet. Volleyball is built on knowing one’s opponents, and the 6’6” offensive Titan, Phil Tully ’10, definitely presents himself as someone to be watched. In fact, the Brewers’ reputation for boasting a supremely capable offense owes much to Tully. Tully explains, “You have to know everything that’s going on [with] the other team and make strategies based on that information.” The Brewers are constantly running an intricate string of tactical information built with this knowledge. After speaking with Tully, illusions of volleyball as a pastime of sand and sunshine quickly gave way to a reality of thoughtful espionage. In fact, the only element of the beach to infiltrate the Brewers’ court is Tully’s uncanny ability to emulate a towering tsunami as he sends kill after kill beyond enemy lines. Coach Sweet coos, “He is a super dynamic guy. He’s fun to watch. He’s a giant guy and he flies, but he’s in control.” All that flying, however, does not come without extreme focus and piercing mental acuity. Much of Tully’s skill was exhibited during the set point of a heated match against New York University (NYU) in March 2009. The court was a sensory maelstrom. The harsh smack of palms against balls, the unnerving squeal of sneakers against the court, the whooshing of the net and the constant ticking in Tully’s mind as he developed strategies colored the day. The Brewers were high on a winning streak, but NYU’s Violets proved to be formidable foes, and the first set of the match came down to the set point. With tremendous power, Tully propelled himself towards a dug ball, and sent it soaring safely back over the net. This instigated an epic volley that resulted in a free ball heading towards Tully, who watched contently as it arced high into the air and came down with predictability, allowing the Brewers to, as Tully puts it, “run a play that really exploited the complexities of our offense.” The Brewers decided on a double fake-out.

This play would have a first player set the ball to a second player, who then would send the ball to Tully, who would pound the shot into the ground, achieving victory. Looking back, Tully sees this play as an integral part of his evolution as a player. “It incorporated components of all of my skill sets,” he offers with a respectable hint of modesty. Tully’s upright character is a tribute to his development over the past four years. As a bright-eyed freshman with a powerful arm, on an impressively well-rounded team, Tully found that his seismic spikes were the “icing on the cake” for a soon to be graduating team. After many players graduated, Tully took on the role of captain for his senior year. Coach Sweet recalls Tully growing into his position. She notes that initially, Tully led by example and drove the team to greatness by continuing his personal dedication to the sport. However, she explains that now Tully has fully embraced the role of captain and has honed and refined the potential of younger days into the precision of play and leadership that he currently exhibits. She explains, “He takes advantage of everything we have to offer, he is the epitome of a Vassar volleyball player.” Tully remarks that “getting a better court sense, and learning how to be a leader on the court” have been the hallmarks of his evolution. Tully is an active leader with the uncanny ability to read his teammates’ body language. This allows him to control the court by being constantly able to identify and rectify any point of weakness. Tully is ultimately motivated by the enjoyment he gets out of his sport. When recalling a well-deserved, yet unexpected, victory against University of California Santa Cruz in the final four, Tully most vividly remembers “a feeling of elation, just pure joy.” For Tully, volleyball is about fun, and it is this outlook that allows Tully to rework the definition of an athlete. Tully is more than the combination of physical processes. He is the channeling of ethics, personality, drive, intelligence and skill into every shot he makes. With this in mind, it’s no wonder he has such a devastating reputation.

Goals from abroad: the true meaning of football Kelly Capehart

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knew I was back in America when they were showing the football game in the line for customs at John F. Kennedy International Airport. I knew that perhaps I was not ready for the return when, in pointing out this fact to my travel companions, I referred to it as “American football.” Coming from a long line of very, very American sports aficionados, there are two things I was brought up to know for sure: 1) Bobby Knight is godlike in his omnipotence; 2) there is only one type of football, and that is the football we play in this country. The other variety of football, friends, is called soccer. My rigid sports education notwithstanding, I had clearly returned to my own country very discombobulated. In my defense, I had just spent the past two months doing nothing but researching Jordanian football. The result was a 45-page compendium of everything there was to know on the subject, including teams’ political alliances, the ethnic breakdowns of the teams’ rosters and social mores of fandom. The project had devoured my time, energy and, apparently, my brain, because returning to the American sports landscape was completely overwhelming. There were many sports in the same season! A person could watch these sports in his own home without having to fork over his life savings to Al Jazeera Sports Network! In public places where people gathered to watch said athletic events, no one was smoking hookah! I was, in a phrase, completely befuddled. As much as we might imagine that sports are basically the same all over the world, we might be surprised to learn that we are, quite frankly, alarmingly wrong. I cannot speak for the entire

sporting earth, but I can say with more than a modicum of confidence that observing sports abroad—at least in Jordan—is so bizarre that it borders on the astounding. For example: There is one sport, and that sport is football. (Or, rather, soccer. I’m trying to reintegrate.) Sure, there were other sports in season—handball was one I would occasionally skip over in the newspaper on my way to the football scores. But, there was only one figurative game in town. Just because you have a local team doesn’t mean you have to like it. Here in America, we take pride in our local teams, even if they are historically atrocious or morally questionable. Jordanian football fans, on the other hand, were often thrilled to talk to me about Spanish football—their enthusiasm for the teams of Spain even made it necessary for me to entitle my final project “I ♥ Barcelona: Why Jordanian Football Isn’t Working, and What Can be Done About It.” But ask them about their local teams, or even their national teams, and you are likely to be met with a mildly disgusted look. One young man who took the survey for my project told me flat-out, “Jordanian football is stupid. No one cares about it.” He revealed to me less than 60 seconds later that he plays for Al-Ahly, one of Jordan’s premier club teams. I rest my case. Ladies, you are not welcome here. I have been known to complain about being a woman in what is generally a man’s world. Even before my study abroad experience, I’ve known, deep inside, that I really don’t have much to complain about. My experience in Jordan, however, confirmed this. To illustrate my point, I’ll share a brief anecdote: On my first excursion to a Jordanian sporting facility, I was greeted by a security officer outside the gates of the stadium, who told me

he could not let me in. Why? I asked. Well, he couldn’t really say, but maybe I should try going to gate six, a mere quarter mile away around the corner of the complex. The gentleman at gate six agreed with his co-worker, indicating that “He couldn’t let me in as obviously I was here for some…immoral purpose. Women do not go to football games.” I went after this to the main security office where, after 45 minutes, falsified press credentials and a threat to “expose this sexism” in my (fictional) newspaper in America, I was allowed inside the stadium. There, I was greeted by news cameras, which remained locked on me all evening. Men moved out of my section as if I were contagious. The players, who were warming up on the field, paused to gawk at me. I also learned later that the only discernable women’s restroom in a major stadium had been turned into something of a smoke-break room for the guards. Inspiring. The government has its eye on you—and your mascot. Thanks to some deeply historical divisions in Jordanian history, the two major club teams are divided along ethnic lines: One is for Jordanians of pure Jordanian descent, the other for those of Palestinian descent. The government, sensing that, hey, someday this might create some real political problems, forced the teams to integrate for a period of two years. Suffice it to say that it didn’t last long and has not been tried again since. After four long months of this kind of thing— obsessions with teams based thousands of miles away, the complete exclusion of women, the secret police getting up in your athletic business— I remain, naturally, a bit disoriented. Will the end of playoffs and the upcoming Super Bowl reintegrate me into American athletic society? Hopefully. But until then, I’ll be following the Egyptian national football team online.

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A Super Bowl XLIV preview The two no. 1 seeds to face off in a game that will, in the end, be a tale of two quarterbacks Adam Newman Guest Columnist

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his coming Sunday, the two no. 1 seeds will face each other in the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years. But while it seems as though it was inevitable that the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints would finally meet, there were a host of other possible, and very plausible, outcomes going into the AFC and NFC championship games just two weekends ago. Some believed that the Jets would make it a year for the hard-nosed underdog, while others thought that Brett Favre could prove once and for all that championship football can be played by a 40-year-old. But, in the end, it was the most predictable outcome that prevailed: The two best teams of the regular season managed to continue all the way to the Super Bowl. And that’s not at all to discount the stories behind these two teams. The Colts have managed to overcome their past tendency to choke in the big game and have become the heir apparent to the mid2000’s Patriots of the NFL. And, across the field, the Saints have perhaps the most heart-warming story in the league, with the resurrection of post-Katrina New Orleans seemingly tied up with their hope for their first-ever championship. As the regular season came to a close, and these two once-undefeated offensive juggernauts coasted to 14-2 (Colts) and 13-3 (Saints) records, many wondered aloud whether they would be rusty in the playoffs, having rested up their key players and taken their foot off the gas. But any such questions have since been answered by their impressive performances during this playoff season. After absolutely trouncing the high-flying Arizona Cardinals in the NFC divisional game, the Saints outlasted the tough Minnesota Vikings, who are perhaps the best team not in this Super Bowl, for an overtime 31-28 victory and the NFC championship. In particular, the New Orleans defense and quarterback Drew Brees showed themselves to be more than up to the challenge of facing a Hall of Fame quarterback such as Brett Favre. And, after demolishing the Baltimore Ravens, Peyton Manning managed to lead his Colts in an impressive second-half comeback over the upstart, underdog Jets to win the AFC championship game. While looking a bit fazed in the first half, in the second half the Indianapolis Colts proved themselves to be true contenders, with Manning making it clear why he is this year’s MVP as he manhandled the league’s top-ranked defense and led the Colts to a 30-17 victory, throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Though both teams certainly have the full package, with multiple game-changing players on each side of the coin—from Reggie Bush and Jonathan Vilma on the Saints, to Joseph Addai and Pierre Garçon on the Colts—when it comes down to it, this Sunday’s game will be a tale of two quarterbacks. Any discussion that a good running game and defense wins in the playoffs was silenced after the Jets’ playoff exit last week, and we can now look forward to what is sure be a shoot-out between the two highest-powered offenses down in Miami this weekend. This season, Brees and Manning have had comparable statistics and success, and now we can only wonder what will happen when they meet on Sunday. Will Brees outplay Manning and disprove all those who voted for Manning over him for MVP? Or will Manning add yet another ring and title to his already sterling resume? I can’t pretend to know the answers to these questions, but I do know that this should be a fun game to watch.


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February 4, 2010

Brewers reach best League record since 2001 Elizabeth Pacheco

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January 27 Men’s VolleyBall

Contributing Editor

VASSAR

Kathleen Mehocic/The Miscellany News

his weekend was another series of firsts for the women’s basketball team. While Friday’s game against Skidmore College resulted in a tough overtime loss of 59-55, Saturday’s game against Union College finished in the favor of the Brewers, winning 59-46. This was the program’s first-ever win against Union and improved their record to 3-4 in the League, their best record since 2001. Senior and three-year captain Emily Haeuser had a personal first as well, recording her 785th career rebound, becoming Vassar’s all-time leading rebounder. Her performance was once again critical for the Brewers, as she had 24 points and 11 rebounds—her seventh double-double of the season. Haeuser has led Vassar in scoring with an average of 14.3 points per game and in rebounds with 8.2 per game. In the Liberty League she is ranked third and fourth respectively in these categories. This week, the League recognized Haueser’s achievements by naming her Forward of the Week. The Brewers continued their season with a 70-55 loss in their final non-league game against Eastern Connecticut State on Tuesday, Feb. 2. followed by another weekend of home league games. The team will play St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University, opponents Vassar beat in their first two league games of the season.

Olivia Westbrook-Gold ’13 dribbles down the court. The Brewers defeated Union College for the first time in the team’s history on Jan. 30 and improved their Liberty League record to 3-4 for the season.

In rough season, men’s basketball hangs tough HARRIS continued from page 19 there and still have a chance. MN: Is there anybody in particular who has really just been outstanding for you this year? CH: Outstanding without a doubt is Chris Whitney ’11. I think you’re talking about a young man who, before I got here, hardly played as a freshman, wasn’t heavily recruited and didn’t play a lot in high school. Then his sophomore year—my first season, last year— developed. He’s an extremely coachable kid, and worked on his game in the summer and now it’s paid off coming back. He’s had a career high in points, career high in rebounds, career high in blocks. He had four blocks (last) Tuesday night against the no. 18 team in the country, and he’s our only 6’9” guy, and they probably had seven 6’9” guys. He was named captain as a junior; that’s something I take very seriously. I don’t just give that captain honor away, you have to earn it, and he’s earned it on and off the court. He’s our [Student Athletic Advisory Committee] representative, he does community service, he’s in the gym getting extra time. As captain, he picks up the water bottles, he picks up the warm-ups, but he’s the first guy at practice, the last guy at practice. He’s vocal. And then in the stretch we lost 14

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games, and he completely remains positive. MN: You alluded to the contest against Amherst—what’s it been like for you and for the team playing top Division III programs as well as a Division I team that is having a very good year. CH: It’s been good. I challenge my guys: Dare to dream a little bit. We want to be on that level, and if you don’t see that level, how are you ever going to know how to get there? It’s tough. Unless you’ve been at each game or been in the practices and seen us, when we really get going, we’re really good. When we get full strength, we’re really good and we’ve never been full strength all year. If you were to watch the first five minutes of that William and Mary game, you’re like, “Wow. They’re playing so hard. They’re guarding these guys. High hands, in the face defense, ball pressure, they’re talking, they’re rebounding. These guys aren’t pushing them around. They know their plays.” It’s little battles that we’re winning. We have a young team. Any time you have a freshman— Jon Herzog—who goes to William and Mary [and scores] 18 points, his confidence is really high. Imagine what he’s going to be like when he’s a senior. You have guys, Division I players, coming up, telling your players after the game “Hey man, you did a good job, you’re going to

be a really good player.” That stuff means a lot. MN: You’ve mentioned that the team is very young. What do you make of the future? CH: All I can say is we’re going to be better, and that’s it. It’s tough because it’s a losing season right now, but we still have to have discipline. We have to stick to our fundamentals. We have to stick to our guns as far as learning and teaching, because they are just a young team and they just don’t know. Hopefully, we’ll get a good recruiting class. I think if you just look at the first two freshmen I brought in, they’ve been named multiple times [Liberty League] rookie of the week. I think we hopefully have a good recruiting class coming in. It could be a whole new team next year. We’re trying to bring in as many guys as we can get. I think the future is bright for us. One thing, in the Liberty League people respect us. They know we’re going to play hard and they have to prepare for us. If we didn’t have the talent, people would just overlook us, and I don’t think anybody overlooks Vassar on their schedule, especially not in the Liberty League. Hopefully that’s the respect that we earned last year, winning three out of our last five down the stretch and coming one game away from the postseason. We’re in that same situation again, so we’ll see how we do.

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JANUARY 30 MEN’S SWIM & DIVE VASSAR

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Sports Briefs Men’s volleyball

Men’s squash fell 0-9 against no. 18-ranked Middlebury College at home on Jan. 30. The no. 17-ranked women’s squad was also defeated 3-6 against no. 13-ranked Middlebury. Women’s squash will next play in the Seven Sisters Tournament, which will be hosted at home on Feb. 6, and both teams will play in the Vassar Team Challenge at home on Feb. 13.

The men’s volleyball team, ranked tenth nationally in Division III play, continued its impressive season with a 3-0 win over Polytechnic University on Jan. 30. The team decisively swept Polytechnic in every game of the match, 30-5, 30-14 and 30-9. Despite this victory, the team fell 3-0 (33-31, 30-21, 30-28) against New York University. Though the Brewers beat Polytechnic by significant margin in each game, the team’s loss to NYU was hotly contested by the Brewers, especially in the first set. Vassar’s offense gave way in the subsequent games, but not without exceptional performances from several key players, who represented both team’s more experienced athletes as well as its freshmen. The squad looks forward to two big matches this weekend against the Steven’s Institute of Technology on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at home and against both Endicott College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Feb. 6 at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving Courtesy of Sports Information

Junior Evan Fredericksen scored 16 kills in the Brewsers’ home match agains New York University on Feb. 2. Despite the hotly contested sets, the team lost 3-0.

The men’s swimming and diving put up a good fight in their home meet on Senior Day at the Kresge Pool against New York University (NYU) on Jan. 30. The team fell 140-101, making their record for the season 2-5. They will next swim at the Sprint Invitational on Feb. 13. The women’s swimming and diving team also suffered a loss this past Saturday, falling 177-65 against NYU and bringing their season record to 2-4. They will next compete at the Sprint Invitational hosted by Skidmore College on Feb. 6.

MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE

Courtesy of Sports Information

Men’s and women’s squash

Sophomore Meg Taylor, playing at #6, defeated a Middlebury opponent during the Jan. 30 women’s squash competition. The Brewers fell 3-6 over all.


The Miscellany News | Feb 4.