The Miscellany News
Volume CXLVI | Issue 17
March 28, 2013
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Titus Andronicus to headline spring concert Grad school popular VC S career path Anna Iovine and Emily Hoffman Guest RepoRteRs
Eloy Bleifuss Prados RepoRteR
W courtesy of Titus Andronicus
ince students’ return from spring break, Vassar College Entertainment (ViCE) posters announcing their annual Spring Concert have been placed all over campus. The performers, however, were kept a secret until today. ViCE is excited to announce that this year’s concert will feature Titus Andronicus, a punk/indie rock band. Le1f, a New York City rapper signed by Camp & Street // Greedhead, has also accepted ViCE’s invitation. Finally, the winner of of ViCE’s student DJ contest will be given the opportunity to perform. The ViCE Spring Concert will take place on Saturday, April 20 at 7 pm on Ballantine Field. It is free and open to both students and Poughkeepsie community members. The theme of this year’s spring concert, “ViCE/Versa,” plays on both the student organization’s name and the seemingly opposite styles of music the performers boast. “We’ve got a little bit of something for everyone,” said Head of See ViCE on page 4
Titus Andronicus is composed of singer and guitarist Patrick Stickles, bassist Julian Veronesi, guitarist Liam Betson, and drummer Eric Harm. They will perform with New York rapper Le1f on April 20th at 7p.m. on Balantine field.
Cost of Vassar education to top $72,000 Bethan Johnson and Noble Ingram
Now estimated at $60,000, VC’s ‘comprehsive fee’ to increase by $2,000 year-over-year
neWs editoR and RepoRteR
n March 20, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Betsy Eismeier, sent an email to the Vassar community announcing the school’s decision to increase the total comprehensive fee for attendance of Vassar College by 3.5% next year. This decision, which was made by the Board of Trustees in their mid-March meeting, marks the fourth consecutive year that the College has increased the fee by
others. The combination of these subsidies discount this figure to the roughly $60,000 comprehensive fee for which students and their families are responsible. The comprehensive fee is decided by a collaboration between the administration and the Board of Trustees and includes tuition, the
that rate. It is expected that the actual cost of providing a Vassar education will rise to over $72,000 per student next year; however, Vassar makes one-third of its income from investment returns on the endowment and another 9% from donations made by alumnae/i, parents and
student meal plan, residential hall cost, the student activity fee and more. Rising costs in a combination of these areas will lead to the $2,000 increase in price of a year at Vassar. Vassar Student Association (VSA) President Jason Rubin ’13 justified the increase, noting that “There’s not a lot of fluff [in the budget]. There aren’t any easy cuts to make.” As Eismeier made clear in her email, the College understands how expensive Vassar is, and works to make sure that the cost of tuition See TUITION on page 4
hile most seniors are preoccupied with securing jobs after graduation, for other students commencement will just mark the end of this chapter of their education and the beginning of another. Instead, these Vasar seniors are getting ready to go back to school and earn an advanced degree. The Career Development Office (CDO) says that over the past decade roughly 20 percent of Vassar graduates continued their education in the year following graduation. Obtaining an advanced degree is a common path for Vassar students, and those who do not immediately go back to school will do so in their near future. Half of all graduates will have or be working toward an advanced degree within five years of graduation, according to the CDO’s estimate. A survey conducted a year ago on the Class of 2012 found that of among those continuing their education the next year, about a third were seeking a master’s degree. The second two most popular degrees were a professional and a doctorate degree, each being pursued by roughly 20 percent of seniors. According to Acting Director of the CDO Stacy Bingham, types of degrees recent alumnae/i will pursue range from graduate and professional degrees to teacher certification and other post-baccalaureate programs. Bingham cited a number of benefits that come with taking a gap year after graduation, some of which included working to save up money, gaining a clearer understanding See GRAD SCHOOL on page 6
Men’s lax rooted in young talent PHOCUS’ mag FIX an outlet for experimental Margaret Yap
O courtesy of Vassar Athletics
Freshman attacher Noah Parson, above, has been an asset to the Vassar lacrosse team this season. Parson, who leads the team in goals this season, is one of several younger players who has helped bring the team into the Libery League. Christian La Du Guest RepoRteR
assar Men’s Lacrosse enters the Liberty League portion of their season at 3-5, and the squad is growing as the year progresses. With a roster sporting only one senior and two juniors, many young Vassar athletes have been placed into featured roles and are learning from valuable game time, some-
thing that will pay dividends over the course of the year. According to junior captain and goalkeeper Andrew Nicol, “The biggest challenge this year has been handling scoring runs during a game. With so many freshmen lacking college experience, we tend to panic when another team scores a few in a row. But we have been getting better at handling this
Inside this issue
A comprehensive introduction to ‘VC Bracketology’
form of adversity since the beginning of the season. By having such a young team, it allows players to gain vital game experience early on in their careers. They’re transforming into mature, battle-tested lacrosse players. This will help our program’s success in the short and long term.” Nicol leads the Liberty League See LAX on page 18
Staff Editorial: Rollover proposal must allow for long-term saving
f the many artistic groups at Vassar, PHOCUS is the only only student-run photography organization. PHOCUS has 130 members in its General Body and holds photography skills information sessions, lectures, and workshops on subjects such as Photoshop, digital single-lens reflex basics, portrait photography, black and white developing, and dark room basics. It encourages the production of photography by setting weekly assignments and holding meetings so members can offer each other constructive feedback. PHOCUS is a vibrant group, organizing fundraisers in the fall and selling items such as canvas bags, greeting cards, and calendars. When possible, it works to hold exhibitions of student photography during both semesters. The upcoming spring season marks the publication of PHOCUS’ annual edition of FIX, a selective magazine comprised of high quality photographs. It will be available in late April of this year.
FIX will display photographs taken by PHOCUS members as well as photographers who are not part of the organization. It will include information about its featured photographers and will have a variety of photographic categories including, but not limited to, travel, portraits, landscapes, and abstract work. FIX will feature only one or two pieces and their titles per page so as to give each piece the attention it deserves. FIX’s photographs will be published in black and white. The magazine does accept colored photos, but desires that artists understand that these photographs will be edited. PHOCUS’ activity coordinator and treasurer Lily Sun ’15, who has been involved with the organization since her freshman year, acknowledged in an emailed statement that she is currently taking more black and white photos than colored ones, though both she and PHOCUS photographer Alden Rose ’14 maintained no preference. “Each provides a different way of seeing the world,” Rose wrote in an emailed statement. “An apple in black See PHOCUS on page 15
Consider this ‘insane’ workout as you prep for beach season
The Miscellany News
March 28, 2013
Contributing Editors Hannah Blume Rachael Borné Adam Buchsbaum Aashim Usgaonkar
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March 28, 2013
Tensions flare during recent global leadership changes Ben Hoffman
he last month has been replete with leadership changes across the world. These shifts in power mark uncertain futures for both citizens of these nations and for American foreign policy. Leaders and citizens in many nations seek to curtail the influence of the United States and Europe. Although executed in a variety of fashions and with different levels of interpreted legitimacy, elections were held in Venezuela, China, Kenya, and the Vatican. The death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez has led to an uncertain future for Venezuela, as well as an election replete with personal attack and theories about the death of the nation’s longtime leader. The leading Chávez supporters is Nicolás Maduro, whose status as Chávez’s preferred successor is the interim president’s best hope for election. Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader who unsuccessfully ran against Chávez in the last election, is again vying for the presidency. (“The ghost of Chavez haunts Venezuela’s election” The Atlantic, 3.23.2013). After Chávez defeated him in last October’s election, Capriles must overcome the legacy of the wildly popular president to secure the office (“Venezuelan election officials: Chávez re-elected as president, defeats Capriles” CNN, 10.07.2012). The race, which will be decided on April 14th, has turned into free-for-all of personal attacks, with Maduro calling his opponent a “poisoned dart of hatred and provocation” and taunting him with, “I do have a wife, you know? I do actually like women!” Caprilles has embraced the confrontational mood, branding his opponent “the candidate of [Cuban leader] Raúl Castro” (“Battling it out: Venezuela’s presidential campaign heats up” The Economist, 3.22.13). Maduro has attempted to capitalize on loyalty to Chávez by implying that the former president was killed by “dark forces” from outside the country. While no nation-specific accusations followed, the international community has attempted to uncover Maduro’s
meaning. Along with his recent dismissal of two members of the American diplomatic staff on charges of conspiracy, Maduro seems set to distance himself from the United States (The Economist). If he is elected, Maduro’s politics will dictate Venezuelan relations with America for the forseeable future. Chávez became notorious for seizing control of both foreign and domestic oil operations in petroleum-rich Venezuela and then failing to pay contractors–one US firm faced losses of $241 million (“Chávez Seizes Assets of Oil Contractors” The New York Times, 5.08.2009). Should Maduro continue in his predecessor’s footsteps, outside investors can only expect more struggles in dealing with Venezuela. Suspicion of the West is also at work in China, under the auspices of the new chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC). Educated in North Korea, Chairman Zhang Dejiang’s fortunes took a turn for the better last year, as he was appointed head over the massive metropolitan area of Chongqing. Earlier in his career, he presided over Guangdong province, and stifled media coverage of a lethal outbreak of the SARS virus. (“Meet the men who will rule China” Time, 11.15.2012). Mr. Zhang was elected chairman of the 175-member Standing Committee on March 14th. The committee’s members are selected from the general body of the NPC which has nearly three thousand deputies (The National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, 3.26.2013). Meanwhile, protests in Hong Kong continue as residents demand government reform (“As Hong Kong Presses for More Democracy, Friction With Beijing Rises” The New York Times, 3.15.2013). Political expert Willy Lam, author of five books on China, noted that the incoming leaders of China share an inflexible commitment to maintaining control of the Hong Kong. Lam also said that these leaders believe these protests are part of a campaign of subversion by the United States, only increasing their
Mayor Bloomberg Proposes Tobacco Displays in New York City
Now in his third and final term, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed on Monday, March 18 to ban the display of tobacco products in city stores. Such legislation would make New York the first city in the country to force retailers to put cigarettes out of sight. Such a ban would require retailers to conceal their tobacco products from public view by placing them in a cabinet, drawer or behind a curtain (The New York Times, “Bloomberg’s Plan Would Make Stores Conceal Cigarettes,” 3.18.13). The ban would not, however, restrict the ability of retailers to sell or advertise their tobacco products, nor would it raise taxes on tobacco products. The mayor also proposed a second bill that would raise the price of cigarettes and cigars, with a minimum cost per pack of cigarettes or small cigars of $10.50 (The New York Times). Moreover, the second bill creates harsher punishments for stores that seek to lower cigarette prices by selling smuggled products. According to statements made at the news conference announcing the legislation, Mayor Bloomberg proposed the ban on public displays of tobacco primarily to shield children from tobacco marketing. According to one Health Department report, 80% of stores that sell cigarettes devote the majority of behind-register space to tobacco displays (Daily News, “Mayor Bloomberg bids to ban cigarettes and tobacco from being displayed,” 3.18.13). Children who are exposed to such open displays of tobacco products, the Bloomberg administration states, are two and a half times more likely to begin smoking. Bloomberg also blames convenience store tobacco displays for normalizing cigarette use. At the news conference Bloomberg stated, “Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity, and they invite young people to experiment with tobacco.” (The New York Times)
Furthermore, Bloomberg intends the bill to assist New Yorkers looking to quit smoking. “We know that out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind, but in many cases it can. And we think this measure will help reduce impulse purchases, and if it does, it will literally save lives,” Bloomberg explained (Daily News). The proposed ban follows a series of measures taken in recent years in New York, and particularly in New York City, to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use. Combined state and city taxes, the highest in the country, add $5.85 to cigarette price – more than a pack originally costs. Additionally, the Bloomberg administration has banned smoking in virtually all public places. The consistent implementation of anti-smoking measures in New York has recently become a more central issue to the Vassar student body in the form of a potential campus wide smoking ban. The Committee on College Life (CCL), made up of students, faculty, and administrators, will ultimately decide whether or not to put a campus-wide ban into effect. On its website, the Vassar Student Association acknowledges that even if Vassar does not go smoke-free immediately, the CCL may vote to isolate smoking to designated areas. The statewide anti-smoking measures already in place coincide with a declining trend in New York City tobacco use. For example, amid cigarette bans and limits on public smoking, the city’s adult smoking rate dropped from 21.5% to 14.8% between 2002 and 2011.(CBS, “Bloomberg Tobacco Initiative Slammed by N.Y. Convenience Stores,” 3.19.13) Additionally, Mayor Bloomberg cites that the rate among city high school students has rested at roughly 8.5% since 2007. (Daily News) Bloomberg’s proposal will ultimately go to the New York City Council for consideration. —Carrie Plover, Reporter
reluctance to reform (The New York Times). Hong Kong’s free-market economy has attracted businesses of all types–the CIA World Factbook ranks it tenth in terms of GDP per capita (“Country Comparison: GDP per capita (PPP)” The World Factbook, 2012). Mainland China has also become a major financial partner to the US in recent years. China holds more of the United States federal debt than any other entity, barring the Federal Reserve itself. While Defense Secretary Leon Panetta maintained that China could not effectively use the United States Department of the Treasury securities it holds as a financial weapon, his report acknowledged that market disruptions were likely if China dumped it assets in response to tension with the United States(“China’s U.S. Debt Holdings Aren’t Threat, Pentagon Says” Bloomberg, 9.10.2012). In Kenya, the March 9th conclusion of the presidential election has not abated tensions, but increased them. Uhuru Kenyatta carried the election by the slimmest of margins, with just over 50% of the vote. His opponent, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, is challenging the result of the election, claiming that Kenyatta conspired with the electoral commission. In 2007, a similar challenge by Odinga unleashed a wave of violence that left 1,200 dead (“Kenya’s Odinga challenges election result” Al-Jazeera, 3.17.2013). Despite fears that more killings would follow Prime Minister Odinga’s announcement, the dispute has thus far been relatively peaceful, with Odinga’s advisor Salim Lone stating that the candidate would “very strongly ask people to stay calm” (“Kenya Race Is Said to Have Winner, but Rival Won’t Concede” The New York Times, 3.08.2013). Kenyatta’s election comes amid the specter of his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. The ICC claims Kenyatta was behind the 2007 election bloodshed. Kenyans, however, at least on the surface, and if the election is considered free and fair,
Judge Rules Steubenville Teens Delinquent in Rape Case
On Sunday, March 17, Ohio judge Thomas Lipps found two Steubenville High School football players, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, guilty of the rape of a 16-year-old girl last August. The verdict came on the fifth day of the emotional and highly-publicized trial. Richmond, 16, was sentenced to a one-year minimum in a juvenile rehabilitation center, but may be held until he turns 21. Mays, who the Ohio court found guilty not only of rape but of the illegal use of nudity-oriented material involving a minor, was sentenced to a minimum of two consecutive years. Based on the judge’s ruling 17-year old Mays may be held until he turns 24. (The New York Times, “Ohio Teenagers Guilty in Rape That Social Media Brought to Light,” 3.17.13) The Ohio State Department of Youth Services will determine whether or not to detain the boys past their minimum sentences. While the identities of both of the adjudicated minors was published, the victim’s identity remains protected because she is underage. Judge Lipps delivered the “deliquent” verdict-the equivalent of a guilty sentence for adults-and also forbid both boys from having contact with victim until they are at least 21. Richmond and Mays may also be permanently registered as juvenile sex offenders, depending on their future behavior. During the trial, prosecutors used social media to construct a timeline of the assault. Ohio investigators looked at hundreds of text messages recovered from over a dozen cell phones, which implicated Richmond and Mays in the assault. In one text read aloud during the trial, Mays admitted to assaulting the victim and circulating the images of the incident. Meanwhile, the defense teams for the accused argued that the victim’s degree of drunkenness did not prevent her from giving consent. (Atlantic Wire, “The Steubenville Verdict Is in, and These Boys Are Guilty,” 3.17.13) According to the New York Times, the most
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
appear content with Kenyatta, and the massive celebration of his election was a rebuttal to the ICC and other Western powers seeking to dictate the course Kenya’s political system takes (“Did the ICC help Uhuru Kenyatta win Kenyan election?” BBC News 3.11.2013). Hostile treatment of foreign dignitaries and reporters became more common as the election neared (“Kenya’s Election: What Uhuru Kenyatta’s Victory Means for Africa” Time, 3.09.2013). The position of United States in this controversy is delicate: while a supporter of the ICC, America cooperates closely with Kenya, and the two countries have become partners in the war on terror (BBC News). Pope Francis I’s March 13 papal ascension marks important changes in the history of the papacy–first, because the Argentinian is the first pope ever to hail from the Western Hemisphere (“New Pope Opens Holy Week at Vatican on Palm Sunday” ABC News, 3.24.2013). Second, he is the first pope in six hundred years to be confirmed in office while the previous pontiff is still alive (“Viewpoint: Does Pope Francis’ Outreach to Non-Catholics Signal Deeper Reform?” Time, 3.23.2013). Francis’s predecessor, Benedict, will take the title of pope emeritus (“Pope Francis tells Benedict, ‘We are brothers’” USA Today, 3.23.2013). It seems that greater inter-religious dialogue is on the agenda for Pope Francis I; he stated that, “It is not possible to establish true links with God while ignoring other people. I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.” Other memebers of the Catholic Church hope that this pope will address the recent sexual abuse scandals surrounding the Church. The new pontiff met with many religious leaders after his selection. Significantly, Bartholomew I, patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox church, was also present–a gesture of rapprochement from both sides that has not taken place since 1053 (Time). As violent conflicts based on religious creed continue to spring up, Pope Francis has stepped up to the daunting task of using his position as a force for peace.
powerful evidence stemmed from the testimony of the 16-year-old unidentified victim. She described waking up confused after her assault, with no memory what happened. The judge ruled that on Aug. 12, both of the accused penetrated the victim using their fingers. He also determined that, based on her level of intoxication, she was unable to give consent to sex. (The New York Times) In the state of Ohio, one of only a few states that hold this opinion, digital penetration constitutes rape. At the close of the trial, photos of the courtroom showed both Mays and Richmond sobbing as they heard their verdicts. After learning their sentences, Richmond and Mays were given the opportunity to address the courtroom; both apologized to the victim and her family. Mays, approaching the victim, said, “No pictures should have been sent around, let alone ever taken.” Richmond, who began crying as he attempted to speak, said, “I would like to say I had no intentions to do anything like that.” (The New York Times) The victim’s mother delivered a statement to the boys on Sunday. “Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you,” she said, continuing, “You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on.” (The Los Angeles Time, “Victim’s Mother in Steubenville Rape Case Speaks After Verdict,” 3.17.13) Upon sentencing Mays and Richmond, Judge Lipps referred to rape as among the most grave of crimes. Lipps also reminded the boys that, had they been tried as adults, they would have received much harsher punishment. Further investigation into the case will continue, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine noted. State officials have interviewed over 60 people involved with the case, and though it is not yet clear whether more people will be implicated, prosecutors may pursue charges of evidence tampering and failure to report child abuse. —Carrie Plover, Reporter
March 28, 2013
With pending 3.5% fee increase, Eismeier and Bernier stress commitment to need-blind financial aid program TUITION continued from page 1
doesn’t prevent anyone from attending. “At the time we are setting the price increase, we are also looking at the planning parameters for financial aid and recognizing that we will find a way with financial aid to bridge the gap for all the families who demonstrate need,” Eismeier explained. She continued, “We’re very mindful of the fact that it’s expensive to come to Vassar for the person whose family income can support the full price. We’re conscious of the fact that we have to have controls over the price increase.” According to Rubin, one concern that arose with the tuition increase dealt with who would feel its effects. He said that families of middle-class students will feel the effects of the pending increase. “When you think about it, because of a lot of our financial aid policies, this isn’t really going to affect people who are on large amounts of financial aid,” he said. “It isn’t really going to affect people who can pay full price, obviously it’s an increase, it’s not a small number, but if you can afford to pay full price, you can afford this price as well. The main issue is what it does to students in that sort of middle class where the increase does have a big impact.” Eismeier confirms that those who will most feel the effects of this tuition increase aren’t found on either end of the family income spectrum. “The tension is not at either end. It’s the person who just misses qualifying for financial aid
and for whose family it is perhaps a true sacrifice—for them it is a tough situation.” Eismeier also said that this year, roughly 60% of families received some amount of financial aid to help pay the bill. Director of Financial Aid Jessica Bernier pointed out that although tuition is increasing, this is a normal part of College operations. “It’s not a new trend. It’s something that happens all the time.” This was echoed by Eismeier. “These 3.5% increases have been fairly regular.” In the last decade, the cost of attending Vassar has increased by roughly $20,000. For the Class of 2007, the comprehensive fee was estimated at $39,000; in comparison, for the Class of 2016, the fee rested at almost $60,000. (The Miscellany News, “VC’s Peers Curtailing Need Blind Programs,” 11.1.2012.) Though the total tuition is rising, many students won’t see much of a change in the costs of attending Vassar. As Bernier explains, “At least for financial aid here, since we are meeting 100% of the need of all of our students, they’re not going to see, at least the ones on financial aid, a big change. For many of our students, whatever increases in cost is absorbed into their financial aid packages. Having said that, there is always a few more students applying for aid and then qualifying for aid because of the increase,” she said. Eismeier continued by saying, “In the last few years we’ve probably seen an increase of about 20 or so students each year needing financial aid but that is because of many factors,
not just the increase of cost.” Tuition increases are also not unique to Vassar. Bernier confirmed this. “It happens everywhere. It’s actually rarer to see a school that says they’re freezing tuition than it is to see one that is increasing tuition,” she said. “Everybody has increasing costs.” Peer institutions’ fees — much like they do in several decisions of the college, included faculty compensation and load — play an important role in Vassar’s decision about tuition. Eismeier stated, “The key factor on curbing tuition would be if, in the marketplace, the institutions offering the kind of education that we offer begin to freeze their prices. If that were a developing trend, we would be subject to it as well because people would make that comparison.” Eismeier went on to note, “Our average net price is lower than [that of] many institutions. We’re comparing what we call the ‘sticker price’ to the full price. And with that, we do have to be in a ballpark that is determined by the marketplace. Vassar’s cost of attendance appears very competitive compared to many other institutions when you consider average net price—because we offer comprehensive, need-based aid packages.” Many institutions have opted to cut other programs in order to pay for rising costs. In particular, Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees made the controversial decision to cut their need blind program last May to address rising costs, instead adopting a “need-sensitive” policy, resulting in student protests surrounding this change.
Middlebury College in Vermont and Williams College in Massachusetts, other selective liberal arts colleges within Vassar’s group of peer schools, have also recently scaled back their need-blind policies due to the effects of the recession. Vassar has been forced to suspend its needblind financial aid policy in the past. Fifteen years ago, faced with financial constraints, the Board of Trustees voted in support of a tenyear hiatus from need-blind admission (The Miscellany News). Under the leadership of President Catharine Bond Hill, Vassar reinstated need-blind aid in 2007. Rubin noted that since Hill reinstated the policy, the cost has increased. “When Vassar first went need-blind, the number of students who were projected to need financial aid under that system…was a lot lower than what it became with the recession which came right after.” Despite the decisions of other institutions, the administration has made no attempts to alter its current financial aid system. Both Eismeier and Bernier stressed that students who feel as if they are dealing with new challenges in their ability to pay the price of tuition should seek out help through the Office of Financial Aid. As Eismeier stated, “We tried to emphasize in the letter that families should consult the Office of Financial Aid if they believe their circumstances have changed or they have new issues they’re coping with.”
‘ViCE/Versa’ theme aims to please a wide range of tastes ViCE continued from page 1
ViCE Music, Andrew Rovner ’13. Rovner continued, noting, “We’re going to have a student DJ kick things off, move on to some hip-hop and finish up with some amped-up rock’n’roll.” Instead of selecting one artist to headline and another to open the show, as the organization has done in the past, ViCE opted for Le1f and Titus Andronicus to co-headline. ViCE hopes this shared state will highlight the performers’ different styles. While the concept of “ViCE/Versa” and the co-headlining honor are new, the organization utilized its previous model for its concerts. ViCE booked these artists the same way they booked the Fall Concert, which featured Vassar’s funk/ soul band SOL and St. Lucia as openers, and Ra Ra Riot as the headliner. ViCE concert planning consists of a three part system. Members of ViCE first break into a music committee that decides upon a reasonable budget and date. Then, according to an emailed statement by ViCE member Dan Flynn ’13 “[The Music committee] look at available artists within a price range and see what we are [most] interested, then use a power-rankings system to choose.” Upon reaching a decision on their favorite performers, the committee then approaches individual artists, before deals are finally made with willing artists. Le1f, born Khalif Diouf, is an openly gay rapper who studied dance at Wesleyan University. His style has been classified as reminicent of Tunnel bangers. The Tunnel banger style grew out of the combination of house and techno music that was played in Peter Gatien’s New York City nightclub, the Tunnel, in the 1990s. According to Le1f’s official bio on The Windish Agency website, Le1f’s musical style does not easily settle into a single category like “rap” or “dance.” Aside from the Tunnel banger influence, Le1f is partly loyal to the Bling Era rap that he grew up on and partly dedicated to the downtown electronic scene where he developed as an artist. Le1f is also famous for his career in producing. Most notably, Le1f produced the beat behind last year’s Spring Concert performer and fellow Wesleyan alums, Das Racist’s “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” Since it’s release in April, Le1f’s album “Dark York” has gained popularity. His music video for “Wut,” showcasing his
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
twerking skills, went viral, and several blogs have considered him “an example of the direction hiphop’s evolving towards.” (Things to Do In Brooklyn, “LE1F, Labyrinth Ear, High Highs, American Royalty in Brooklyn,” 10.02.2012) Named after the Shakespeare play of the same title, co-headliner Titus Andronicus proclaims “specializing in punk solutions since 2005,” according to their official Tumblr page. The band consists of five men: singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles, Eric Harm on the drums, bassist Julian Veronesi, Liam Betson on guitar, and another guitarist, Adam Reich. Although the group originated in New Jersey, they have recently fostered ties with the Hudson Valley. The band produced their latest LP, “Local Business,” in a converted barn in New Paltz. “Local Buisness” made several ‘Best Albums of 2012’ lists, including #3 in Paste Magazine, #38 in Rolling Stone, and #39 in Complex—and was even called “the Most Important Band of 2012” by Collapse Board. Their previous albums The Airing of Grievances and The Monitor were well received, obtaining praise from music critics and landing on “best album” lists as well. The student DJ set to perform has not been agreed upon. The ViCE Music Committee will select finalists that the student body will then vote on. The day of the concert coincides with both “420” and Record Store Day, a globally celebrated day designed six years ago to honor music. Rovner encourages students to watch out for celebrations of record stores both before and during the concert. “Even though Titus and Le1f may sound totally different, they’re both spectacular performers,” Rovner said. Both Le1f and Titus Andronicus have been applauded for their live performances, and ViCE hopes they will live up to expectations at the Spring Concert. Both Flynn and Rovner are more than enthusiastic at the event. “I think it is going to be one of the best shows Vassar has ever seen,” Flynn noted. Rovner echoed this sentiment, saying, “I wish Ballantine Field had a roof so we could blow it right off. The show’s going to be electric. Faces will melt. Booties will shake. Fists will pump. Feet will jump.”
March 28, 2013
Artifacts catalogue milestones in Vassar’s rich history Hae Seo Kim
courtesy of Vassar Artifact Project
hough they have been collecting dust for several years in the buildings scheduled to undergo renovation, Vassar’s educational artifacts will once again see sunlight. Instead of throwing them out, Vassar College faculty and staff, together with students, have decided to celebrate these forgotten relics by saving, researching and restoring them into the teaching collection on campus. The Vassar College Artifact Project was conceived in 2011 by the College Historian Betty Daniels ’41 and Professor of Biology Kate Susman on their bus ride to New York City to attend a gala marking the College’s 150th anniversary. According to Laboratory Technician Richard Jones, who is heavily involved with the project, it was conceived to protect and preserve educational artifacts, especially from Sanders and Olmstead. This was due to the renovations scheduled for this summer. Since then, the project has been joined by dozens of other faculty, former faculty, staff members and students. The project started in February of this year when two students, Michael Hughes ’14 and Emily Omrod ’16, were recruited as interns to create a website that will document the narratives that go along with the artifacts. Omrod called it an amazing opportunity to learn more about and be involved with Vassar’s educational history. “I get to read documents from the founding of Vassar. I love learning about these objects that are an important part of Vassar’s history. It’s fascinating to compare Vassar in the 1890s to now. So much has changed and yet, the passion of the students is still the same,” she said, emphasizing the continuity of the College’s history. Jones, along with Administrative Assistant of the College Lois Horst have been involved
in preserving and displaying many of the College’s historical items, including the Natural History Museum in Ely Hall. Jones wrote in an emailed statement, “[It was] natural that we get involved in the Vassar College Artifacts Project.” Jones has been heavily involved in cataloging, assessing, cleaning and packing up collections from the attic of Sanders and Olmstead, which have accumulated more than 100 years of equipment that needs to be moved for renovations. Through this project, numerous educational artifacts from different departments have been restored and preserved, including: an original Morse telegraph saved from Sanders Physics, glass replicas of jellyfish and other organisms crafted in the early 20th century by world-renown glass makers Rudolph and Leopold Blaschka, saved from the renovation of Swift Hall. One of the important artifacts re-discovered in the attic of Sanders Physics building is the blink comparator, an astronomical instrument. According to Professor of Astronomy Fred Chromey, it is one of the only two still in existence in the United States. The VCAP website mentions that it is unusual for a small liberal arts college to have such an expensive device: “The larger research universities—Stanford, Harvard, Chicago—all had them at one time, but for a place the size of Vassar, that was remarkable.” Also included in the collection is an antique brass telescope that had been used by the celebrated astronomer Maria Mitchell, who taught at Vassar from 1865 to 1888. According to Senior Lecturer of Science, Technology and Society James Challey, a member of the VCAP committee, “All our astronomy equipment is top of the line because that’s one of the things that made the College famous in its early years.” Another item of interest is the Zeiss Microscope, which was donated to the college in
Professor of Astronomy Fred Chromey stands by a piece of historical astronomy equipment from the Vassar College Artifact Project. The project seeks to preserve, research and restore the outdated teaching aids of yesteryear. 1889. It was the first high-powered microscope that the College had received. In the fall of that year, the Natural History department changed its curriculum and name, becoming the Biology Department. As such, these educational artifacts carry with them important stories about the College and its foundation that otherwise might be lost if not for the project. The participants of the VCAP have mentioned that the creation of its website has been an important step in creating a space for the stories that go along with these artifacts. Jones said, “The history of many professor-student classroom interactions can be found in these objects, and it opens a fascinating look into the history of Vassar College
that would be lost if these items are allowed to disappear, or be thrown out.” Challey said he was confident that the College would find ways to save science equipment that is worth saving. In fact, he believes it is crucial to Vassar’s relationship to the sciences. “It’s important that we do this. It will show how Vassar fits into the bigger picture of the development of science, especially physics and astronomy,” he said. Looking ahead, the committee members have already held preliminary talks with architects for the new science center about finding space to display at least some of the artifacts, bringing some of Vassar’s richest histories to the campus’ future.
Topics in songwriting and pop culture: 2013’s student seminars Bethany Terry staFF desiGneR
eturning for the third year in a row, student seminars has been a draw for students since its inception in 2011. The program has expanded from its humble beginnings—only eight student seminars—to over 22. Courses include “Introduction to Shape Note Singing,” “Silenced Voices and Social Empowerment at Vassar,” “Fundamental Improv,” and “License to Thrill: the Cultural Politics of 007 James Bond,” among others. These seminars, consisting of four sessions of one hour each over the course of a month, offer Vassar students the chance to learn something from students with unique interests in a subject. While a student firstly has to be really passionate about sharing what he or she knows to volunteer for such a commitment, students first have to make a case for their course to the VSA. To be chosen to lead one of these seminars, the student had to submit an interest
statement, syllabus, course title and description. VP of Academics Amanda Zeligs stated, “We look for creative, well-thought out seminars. We focus less on the subject matter of the seminar and more on the details the students have provided in regards to the course description and the content of the syllabi.” With an expanse of possibilities, she sees this as a great opportunity for students. Among these students who will soon play the role of professor, Samantha Smith ’14 will be leading a song-writing workshop—an opportunity which she said allows her to share her passion for music. As a Media Studies major, Smith is fascinated by how music can be used to develop self-identity. “I hope to study how music is used as a means of individual and community identity, and how the agency of songwriting plays into identifying oneself into the symbolic order,”
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
Sam Smith ’14 will teach a student seminar on the art of songwriting. Her class is one of many—with topics ranging from Tolkien to Irish step dance—that reveal the diverse range of interests within the student body.
Smith said. For Smith, music lends itself to collaboration as everyone is working towards a common goal. “That’s why I call this seminar a workshop,” she said, “It exists for people to bounce their ideas off of other people whose goal is the same; for some unexplained reason, we don’t want to just play music, we want to create it.” She stated that while she hasn’t taught a seminar before, she really enjoyed taking a barbershop seminar last year, and that thinking about other seminars inspired her to think about how she might go about teaching one. She said, “I’ve learned that teachers don’t have all the answers. In fact, in my classes they seem to ask more questions than all the students put together. What teachers do is guide discussions, give you things to mull over, and of course, tell you how much they think you have learned by giving you a grade at the end. I hope to do the first two in my workshop.” For Matthew Ortilé ‘14, thinking about structuring a course gave him some empathy for his own professors. He said, “I’ve learned that a lot of thought goes into planning each class, especially thinking of guiding questions. I never realized how much work our professors do in terms of navigating a subject or guiding us through all the theory and texts. My respect for professors has grown hundredfold, definitely.” Similarly, he is feeling the crunch of designing a course which will only last for a compressed amount of time: “It was difficult constructing a syllabus for a class that lasts a total of four hours in the entire semester. There are classes where a single session is three hours!” Ortilé course is titled “The Will and the Grace: Women and Gay Men in Popular Media” and will explore the relationship between straight females and gay males as it is represented in television, films and comedy. While he hopes to share some insight by way of theory, he is more lenient than the avergae Vassar professor: Ortilé said readings are optional so as to share his interests with as many people as possible. “For students taking the class, it’s a low-commitment opportunity to learn something new
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in a low-pressure environment — no grades, no assignments, no stress. As for the students teaching, it’s a great chance to test the waters of professional academia,” he said. These classes will test the peer instructors to improve their own knowledge and control of the course subject. For the students teaching the seminars, stepping into a professor’s shoes may seem daunting. Associate Professor of English Peter Antelyes offered advice for the student instructors, as well as the students taking the course. “I suppose the particularities would depend on the subject, but I could suggest two general things: first, both might want to emulate the best models they’ve experienced for those specific roles, and second, both might want to find ways to use the unique nature of the peer-led seminar to move past those models, to explore new ways to learn,” said Antelyes in an emailed statement. “I think it’s valuable for students to be able to take the place of a professor in front of the classroom and teach a subject that genuinely interests them to their peers,” Zelig said. Though it is not necessarily crucial for a student to be an expert on their topic: Ortilé acknowledged that he doesn’t know everything about his subject. Instead he aims to create a space for dialogue and discussion. “I’m less interested in teaching the topic, but instead looking to start a conversation about it. I don’t pretend to know everything about women, gay men and their relationships, so I envision this student seminar as a collaborative learning process” he said. Smith too sees the value in this process. “This is a wonderful chance for me to compare my methods of songwriting those of my other peers” she said. There are additional benefits for Ortilé beyond just getting the opportunity to talk about a subject about which he is excited. Ortilé hopes that this will help him decide whether he really wants to continue to graduate school. He said, “I’ve been thinking about a master’s, a PhD, and teaching as an option in the far future, so this is my sort of test drive as professor.”
2013 weighs post-Vassar options GRAD SCHOOL continued from page 1
Queer Lady Socials serve vital student need Marie Solis
hough it might be easier to confess your affections in an anonymous online forum or introduce yourself to someone under the cover of a dimly-lit party, these atmospheres aren’t always conducive to getting to know someone. Harder still is it to form any kind of lasting friendship or relationship on the basis of such encounters. In the spirit of not only meeting new people in a venue with better lighting, but also doing so in a space which promotes solidarity and community, Laura Van Eerde ’13 organizes Queer Ladies’ Socials, an event which occurs about twice a semester. “They are primarily a way to meet fellow queer women as friends and potential romantic partners, and also to spend time with those whom you already know but might not get to spend much time with,” wrote Van Eerde in an emailed statement. She continued, “The chance to socialize without having to go to a drink-and-hook-up party or sit through a meeting is really great and important. It brings the community together in a way that’s more relaxing and accessible to people.” Though each Social may be a little different—“one was classy wine night, one was gourmet cupcakes, one was French-themed,” explained Van Eerde—the idea behind them always remains the same. “The idea of the Queer Lady Socials was initially thought of as a way to join together the LGBTQ Center and the Women’s Center. What better way to do that than to bring together the two overlapping identities in a social way?” said Van Eerde. However, Queer Ladies’ Socials are more than just the sum of these two components. Though the ladies who regular-
ly attend the Socials may have already found solace in the Women’s Center or the LGBTQ Center, there is something unique about the kind of space these events provide. “I think it’s important because there aren’t really any other spaces on campus meant specifically for queer- and female-identified people. There are spaces for the general queer community, but these are often highly male-dominated,” said Willow Carter ’15. Queer women, she went on to say, are often subject to issues different than those that queer males face, making an event like the Queer Ladies’ Socials essential for their community. “I feel like it’s important to remember that the [Queer Ladies’ Socials] aren’t just a space for queer women to meet, they are specifically a space for queer women to meet outside of the male gaze,” Carter stated. Van Eerde said, “Queer women tend to get unwanted attention, looks, comments, etc. from men, more so than the other way around. That’s why some think it is more important for queer women to have these events than queer men,” though she added there is no reason for men not to have a similar event if there is a demand for them. Though Erin Boss ’16 agreed that men should pursue their own equivalent if they so choose, part of the reason why they are a necessity for queer women is due to the “underground” nature of their community. “I think the queer/male presence on campus is fairly loud and visible in a way the queer/ female presence may not be, so the need for a Queer Men’s Social is not as pressing,” she wrote in an emailed statement. Alluding to the issue of male-dominated spaces, she emphasized the importance of re-
membering the privilege of maleness in both queer and non-queer spaces. Given what these socials represent to those who attend, Boss cautioned non-queer women who might wish to attend to support a friend to be respectful of the space. “It’s not meant to be a super exclusive space, but also it’s supposed to be a safe space for specifically queer-identified individuals. Nonqueer allies who attend should be mindful that they are entering a safe space meant for the queer- and female-identified community on campus but are still welcome,” she wrote. Carter agreed, stating that almost every space on campus is open to straight men and women, so visitors should be mindful before entering one that is meant specifically for queer ladies. “I feel like any non-queer allies should be very conscious of the fact that they are visitors in the space, and that it is not meant for them. I think that you can go to pretty much any other party on campus and find straight people to mingle with, so I don’t feel like the non-queer students are particularly missing out on anything,” she said. However, that is not to discourage anyone who wishes to attend in order to experiencine different parts of their identity. Van Eerde clarified, “Queer Ladies’ Socials are not exclusive events; no one is turned away on the basis of their identity. However, the events are specifically meant to provide a safe space for those who identify with both the women community and the queer community of Vassar, and should be respected as such.” Carter highlighted the importance of non-exclusivity, stating, “I think that it is also important to keep the social open to women who may be questioning or exploring their identity.”
Off-campus hotspots for afternoon getaway Carmen Reinicke Guest RepoRteR
hile exceptions are made for trips to Bacio and Babycakes, the average Vassar student spends way more time within the bubble than outside of it. For students with cars it is easier to burst the bubble; however, sometimes even those with the means to experience life outside of Arlington are at a loss for what to do. Below are a few suggestions for off-campus adventures you might not have considered: Apple Pie Bakery Café
(Or any other Culinary Institute of America (CIA) restaurant.) The Apple Pie Bakery boasts the best dessert and snack foods in the area. Described by the CIA as having “sumptuous baked goods and café cuisines,” it is hard not to find something delicious on the menu. Luckily, it is also the CIA’s most reasonably priced restaurant, meaning that it is the perfect place for college students to treat their taste buds on those days when the dining hall’s options are less than favorable. The Walkway Over the Hudson
A formerly-abandoned railroad bridge, the Walkway now has been turned into a pedestrian park by The Walkway Over the Hudson, a nonprofit organization that works with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The just under 2.5 mile-long linear walkway spans the Hudson River and stands 212 feet over the water, making it a great way to appreciate the scenery of the Hudson Valley. Also, it is open year round, weather permitting, making it an activity that can be done whenever you need to have an Emersonian transcendental moment. The Walkway Over the Hudson also has a full events calendar, adding extra draw to an already exciting attraction. Poets’ Walk Park
Located in Hyde Park Described by Scenic Hudson as “a landscape that inspired 19th-century writers continues to cast a romantic spell- and offer magnificent views.”The entire walk is about two miles long and may have inspired Irving’s Rip Van Win-
courtesy of Madeline Zappala
of the right path for you and improving your graduate school applications. In spite of these suggestions, these members of the Class of 2013 are firm in their decisions. For many, the careers they are interested in simply require a level of even higher education. The best time to go back to school, they felt, would be soon after commencement rather than later and risk losing momentum. “Now is the time that I am prepared for and excited about the prospect of doing research at a higher level and earning my PhD,” Jared Saunders ’13 who will be studying at Princeton’s Molecular Biology program this year, wrote in an emailed statement. “If I put that off, I might never do it,” he said. A few months ago, seniors like Saunders found themselves in the same place they were four years ago when they were grinding out applications for colleges. However, students found that the tone of the applications and the writings they required were different when applying to graduate school which made them surprisingly simple for Saunders. “Most of them asked for a short personal statement, or wanted you to comment on what you would bring to the program,” wrote Saunders, “Compared to college applications, they are a piece of cake.” For Jessie Kastenbaum ’13 who applied to speech therapy master’s programs, an advanced degree means an opportunity to take the courses she couldn’t find at Vassar. Though she is not yet certain where she will be heading next year, attending graduate school was a given for Kastenbuam because of her career choice. You can’t work in speech pathology without a degree,” wrote Kastenbaum in an emailed statement, “so I figured it was better to get started on the degree than to spend a year or two doing things I was less interested in.” While Kastenbaum always knew her education would include schooling after Vassar, other seniors came to their decision more recently. A year ago, Cassidy Hollinger ’13 had no intention of going to graduate school. But that summer of 2012, Hollinger was chosen to be a Ford Scholar as a student research assistant to a professor’s project. A visit to an academic conference in Columbus, Ohio changed her mind. “After attending the conference, I was inspired to keep researching and studying, and I kind of fell into the perfect grad school program for me,” she wrote in an emailed statement. She applied and was recently accepted into a M.A. program in Performance Studies at the Tisch School of Arts at NYU. For Hollinger, continuing her education provides her with a clear direction post-graduation, a time when many twenty-somethingyear-olds may have to cope with moving back home or are struggling in the competitive job world. “I don’t know what I would have done with a gap year or years and there was something comforting about the idea of a long five year Ph.D. program. At the very least [it]would mean I knew where I would be living,” she wrote. Seniors reflected that, while they would be back to studying, their new school would not be the same as Vassar. Most obviously, the campus and population will be larger and the workload more demanding and focused. And for some students this will be a time to break away from the days of studying concepts and theories, and an introduction to applying them directly to their career. Kastenbaum will be enrolled in a clinical program, which will mean real, first-hand work. “I’m definitely anxious about the adjustment,” wrote Kastenbaum. “I’m worried about the workload and about working with my first clients.” She concluded “But I’m also excited about getting to take classes I couldn’t take at Vassar in a field I’m really passionate about.”
March 28, 2013
The Walkaway Over the Hudson—a formerly abandoned railbroad bridge turned pedestrian park right in Poughkeepsie—is one of many off-campus attractions ready for the intrepid student’s retreat. kle. The walk is a little bit far from campus, but if you have a car and a group of friends who want to take an inspiring nature hike, Poet’s walk is the place to be. In the spring and summer months the grounds are often used for picnicking and bird watching, but if winter activities are more of your thing, the park also offers cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Hyde Park Roller Magic
Roller skating is one of the most fun group activities ever. Lucky for us here at Vassar, there is a Roller rink nearby! Hyde Park Roller Magic says, “Our family-run facility hosts a wide variety of activities, including: roller skating, in-line skating, birthday party parties, holiday skate parties, dances, private parties, fund-raising events and corporate events. Roller Magic has all the latest in lighting, sound and our live DJ likes to mix up the floor every now and then with interactive skating games.” They also have roller derby leagues for girls ages 9 and up, so if any Vassar ladies want to get their inner skating queen on, go to Hyde Park Roller Magic and check it out.
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Natalie Hine ‘14 said, “Roller Magic is nice because it is pretty inexpensive, not too seedy, and manages to make you feel like a little kid again. It can be a great break or change of pace from a typical Friday or Saturday night on a college campus!” Dia Art Foundation
Located in Beacon, Dia is a modern art museum on the waterfront. If you like the modern art pieces of Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Museum, you will be happy to find even more Warhols and Palermos at Dia in addition to a number of thought-provoking installation pieces as well as some which are interactive. Additionally, Main Street has quirky shops, art galleries and cozy coffee shops which serve to complete the outing, which is a little bit of a drive from Vassar. Said Shivani Davé ‘15, “Dia is great if you don’t feel like making the trip into New York City to the Museum of Modern Art. Though obviously not as expansive, Dia has a lot of great pieces and the surrounding area has an artsy vibe as well which makes for a nice day trip to make with friends.”
March 28, 2013
A python lives in Lathrop; dorm pets delight student owners Mary Talbot
Emily Lavieri-Scull/The Miscellany News
ne of the many tough aspects of transitioning into dorm life can be leaving beloved dog, cats, or other pets at home. However, there is hope yet for animal lovers. Although the Office of Residential Life does have restrictions on dorm pets—on Vassar’s ResLife website you’ll find the short, no nonsense: “Pets are not permitted in residences, except for those of a size that can be humanely kept in an aquarium/cage not larger than 20 gallons 24 hours a day”—many students have found it possible to work within these limitations. For animal lovers, having a dorm pet can mitigate the difficulty of leaving another pet at home. Briana Pedroni ’15, who has a hedgehog Shmi Shmu, wrote in an emailed statement, “I can’t walk my dog at home who I’ve had since I was 10, but I can let Shmi out of his cage to run around my room.” Austin Welch ’16 described the companionship of his rabbit Francis Scott Fitzgerald as the biggest benefit of pet ownership. “They are always there to keep you company. I tend to stay at Vassar over breaks, so having a pet is really nice during those times when the campus can be a little lonely,” he said. Of course, taking care of an animal on top of many other responsibilities is a time commitment, but pet owners consider this a negligible disadvantage when weighed against the pleasure of pet ownership. Pedroni said, “Because he lives in a cage, having him is a minimal time commitment, so when I’m really busy writing a paper or something, I just spend less time playing with him that week.” Other students suggested that some pets
Briana Pedroni ’15 has a dorm room hedgehog—and he is not the only student who brought an animal to Vassar. Students may bring small, humanely cageable animals to the College for their delight and loving care. may be more suited for the dorm environment due to their lesser need for attention. Michael Prentice-Glasgow ’15, who has a ball python named Lilith, and Natalie Nicelli ’15, who has a corn snake named Amber, both mentioned in emailed statements that they consider snakes the best pet for a college student. “They’re really easy to take care of and they don’t smell,” said Nicelli, “I feed my snake once a week (and buy frozen mice in bulk so that I don’t have to buy a mouse every week) and clean out her entire tank every 1-2 months (snakes aren’t messy animals).”
Prentice-Glasgow added, “Being a python she only eats once every three weeks…she is a pretty low maintenance pet.” However, no matter how muuch work is involved with caring for a pet, the rewards outweigh any inconveniences. “In the end it is all worth it,” said Welch. In fact, many of these inconveniences have easy solutions. During breaks, for example, Prentice-Glasgow said that unless the power is shut off, Lilith can stay on campus. Nicelli, on the other hand, chooses to bring Amber home. Welch advised, “Make sure that you have
someone to care for your pet if you are leaving for break.” Nicelli believes that students should be prepared for all of the duties that come along with pet ownership. She said, “Do a lot of research on the animal to make sure that [you] have the time to take care of it.” Even further, students might want to consider how their pet will interact with other students in the dorms Prentice-Glasgow said, “The only advice I’d give to a pet owner on campus is to know the rules and regulations around their pet like the back of their hand, since there’s always going to be people trying to challenge their place here.” For Pedroni, her pet is welcomed by her hallmates. “He’s a great conversation topic— most people love him! Sometimes I’ll bring him down for house events.” Owning a reptile can be a little more complicated in this respect, as many people have a fear of snakes. Nicelli said while she often needs to give people a warning about her snake before they come into her room, others have made an effort to push the limits of their comfort zones. “People with slight fears of snakes have asked to see my snake in order to learn about her and to overcome their fear,” she said. Though most people do not think of pets as a typical component of college life, they can become an integral part of your four-year experience, particularly when it comes to social interactions. Nicelli concluded, “Dorm pets are great for your own company when all of your friends are busy and you’re bored, but they’re also good ways for you to get to know the people on your floor as people tend to flock towards your room when they first find out you have a pet.”
Kahlua indulgences: a cake that matches your coffee Aja Saalfeld
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
ome people collect stamps, others collect zippo lighters and others still collect particularly unattractive ceramic animals. I happen to collect coffee pots. On my dresser I have an electric Italian Moka pot, two french presses and a standard drip coffee maker, along with even more coffee paraphernalia sitting on my Amazon wish list, waiting to be bought. Drinking coffee is practically a spiritual experience for me, and possibly the only thing I care about more than coffee is cake. Cake and coffee are not ‘sometimes foods’ in my life; both are daily needs that must be sated if I am to continue my existence as a relatively productive college student, or at least one who fakes it well. I begin and end my day with espresso, and a dinner without cake is no dinner at all. Therefore, it only seemed reasonable that I would combine two of the most important things in my life to create one particularly decadent cake. This cake is somewhat of my own devising. Though I had seen a recipe that called for most of the ingredients I had, I never follow a recipe correctly when I can make things up and hope for the best. I’ve always been fond of flourless cakes, because they are richer by far than their flourfilled cousins. Chocolate flourless cakes are among the easier types of flour-free cakes to make, because cocoa powder can act to solidify the cake when there is no flour and the melted chocolate acts in much the same way. Though it initially looks like chocolate scrambled eggs, it bakes up into a dense, rich single layer cake, although it would be entirely possible to bake up several layers and frost with plain whipped cream. Because the cake is so dense, I would hesitate to frost with a sugary icing and would instead go with topping it with fresh fruit or preserves. I ultimately chose not to adorn the cake at all, instead allowing the chocolate-alcohol-coffee combination to speak for itself. My baking style is very minimalist; I am not a proponent of butter creams or heavy toppings as a general rule, and I think it is vitally important that the main body of a baked good be able to stand up to taste-testing on its own. This cake ended up as one of the best flourfree cakes I’ve ever made. It is difficult for it
to be otherwise, since this particular cake is pumped full of bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder and a hearty dosing of Kahlua. One might as well call it the ‘what more could you possibly ask for in life?’ cake. However, it was not always smooth sailing: While I was throwing sugar, melted chocolate, eggs and cocoa powder together with only a vague idea that I wanted a perfect marriage of coffee flavored alcohol and cake, in a dormitory oven that is finicky at best and a potential fire-hazard at worst, I honestly thought that it would end in disaster. When I poured the batter into the cake tin, the batter was so thick that I could hold it upside down and it would not drip, but that is what ultimately led to the super rich, moist texture that good flour free cakes should have. However, regardless of these setbacks, I always make sure to finish what I start when it comes to baking. Baking is something to which I dedicate a huge amount of time and energy, and I think it is absolutely essential that I do not give up on my creations simply because I am worried about failure. Baking can serve as a metaphor for how I live my life; in some ways, my dedication of time and energy into baking mirrors how much time I put into the other aspects of my life. While this attitude of never giving up on a dish until it has proved entirely inedible has led to some less than perfect results in the past, this time it was more than worth it; I got a sweet treat that people said was tasty, even though it was flour-free, and I discovered a new and wonderful recipe to add to my large and perpetually growing collection of recipes for bad-forme foods. Ultimately, the cake ended up being perfectly delectable and almost fudgy in consistency. I would have been much more pleased had the taste of the Kahlua been more prominent and I realize, now, that a larger measurement is necessary to bring a strong enough coffee flavor to the cake. A simple sugar made with espresso would probably be a beneficial addition to the batter the next time I make this kind of cake, but for those who are not coffee aficionados, this cake is perfect. It’s gluten free, made almost entirely of pure chocolate and butter, and it is kosher for Passover. It covers almost all of the basic needs of a good dessert, and I have every intention of making it again in the very near future.
The Recipe Ingredients 1 cup sugar 3 large eggs 5 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate 1 stick of butter 3/4 cocoa powder 1/4 cup Kahlua Directions 1. Preheat oven to 375°F 2. Cut chocolate into small chunks and melt in a double boiler or microwave safe bowl 3. Melt butter and combine butter and chocolate. 4. Add sugar and whisk until combined. 5. Whisk in three eggs until combined. 6. Add cocoa powder and stir until just combined. 7. If desired, dust cake with cocoa powder or top with whipped cream.
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March 28, 2013
Rash of intersession complaints prompts ResLife action Chris Gonzalez FeatuRes editoR
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
or the residents of Noyes, spring break often involves cleaning and preparing their rooms for incoming guests. While Noyes residents surely expect this to happen year in and year out, many students have complaints about the process. This year, though, some of these comments were brought to the attention of Director of Residential Life Luis Inoa. Specifically, the damages that occur during break irritates students who live in Noyes all year. Aaron Hill ‘16, a Noyes resident who stayed over spring break, described some complaints he noted in an an emailed statement. He said, “Most people in Noyes that I’ve talked to dread intersession housing due to the fact that usually they (and I) have to come back to a nearly ruined kitchen that we always have to clean up, a fridge full of rotting and spoiled food, and rooms that are often dirtier than we left them.” Additionally, the situation also strains students who must move into the two week intermission housing.. Strong House resident Jessica Grinnell ‘14 never leaves for campus vacations. In the last year, she has stayed during the three intersession periods—summer, winter and spring. She wrote in an emailed statement, “It feels very weird to be in someone else’s space. You never feel really comfortable, you’re trying not to touch anything and there is nowhere to put your stuff...I think part of the reason most people hate Noyes is that it just isn’t their home. I get used to my room, my floor, my routine and to have that thrown out the window every few months is aggravating.”
Noyes House is used between academic sessions to house students to wish to stay on campus during breaks. Recently, ResLife has begun to address complaints made by permanent and guest residents. Inoa explained that intersession housing has been changing in recent years to meet and work with the increase in student demand for break housing. Originally, Noyes, which can house a limited number of 170 students, served as the only option for students staying over spring break. Due to the demand, however, Main and the apartment areas have provided housing, allowing for more students to stay on campus. Inoa said, “The reasons why Main is open
and why we encourage students to stay out in the apartments is because of the feedback we received. We were getting to a place with both winter and spring break where we had a capacity issue. In fact, the total number of students staying on campus over these last two weeks was about 400.” These additions to the intersession housing policy alleviated some of the strain put on Noyes. Now, some students wish that dorms would
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stay open for the two week break period.. Morgan Howe ‘14, who has gone through this process for three years, understands why the campus needs at least one dorm to stay open; however, she wishes this would not apply strictly to Noyes during spring break. In an emailed statement she wrote, “It can be somewhat stressful to be trying to pack up most of my room and clean everything for a guest while midterms are going on. Before winter break, at least there’s study week to help space things out, but before spring break, we’re essentially packing to go home, cleaning out the majority of our rooms, and also trying to take exams at the same time.” Howe added that one improvement she wants to see is for the guest residents to be held more accountable for the condition in which they leave the rooms at the end of break. She suggested that residents of Noyes should be able to fill out a survey offering feedback. Inoa pointed out that keeping a dorm open for a month costs around $8,000-10,000. Inoa made it clear that this possibility would still require students to apply and pay to stay in their own rooms. “I think my biggest concern in having anything that says, ‘The College is open and you have no classes for two weeks,’ is that, [the College] cannot become a spring break destination. If we move to this extreme, there would be a particular kind of rigidity for behavioral expectations that differ from the entire year,” he laughed. Ultimately, he has one major goal. He stated, “If we end up doing what we think is best for all of our students, I’ll be relieved. If not, then I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.”
March 28, 2013
THE MISCELLANY NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
VSA org rollover must accommodate long-term savings At the most recent meeting on Sunday, March 25, Vassar Student Association (VSA) Vice President for Finance Alex Koren ’13 proposed an omnibus amendment to the VSA Bylaws, seeking to make substantial changes to the Annual Budgeting process, and the organization of VSA’s finances. Among his proposals is a new program through which student organizations can apply to rollover their funds from one academic year to the next. While we at The Miscellany News endorse the spirit of this rollover program, we hold some reservations about its mechanics. As presented last Sunday, the amendment provided for unanimous VSA Executive Board approval before a rollover may be granted to student organizations. At presstime, however, this requirement has been purged from the initial proposal, and we at The Miscellany commend Koren for this decision. The unanimity requirement was an unreasonably high threshold, and we felt that such a decision should be left to a larger body of VSA Council members, whether it be the Finance Committee, an ad-hoc committee created exclusively for this purpose, or the full VSA Council. We had serious concerns that the unanimous approval required for rollover budgets affords individual members of the Executive Board far too much power over organizations, and could potentially lead organizations that have conflicted with the VSA in the past to have reservations about bringing their proposals to the Board. Organizations must feel secure in mak-
ing requests about their long-term budget or be critical of the VSA leadership, and this requirement did not facilitate that by any means. Instead, we feel the Finance Committee should first review and vote on each applying organization’s proposal before it goes to vote before the full VSA Council. We at The Miscellany News feel it is essential that a larger body vote on any issue that has the potential to affect the long-term future of an organization’s financing and budgeting plans. Organizations that were denied rollover funds, either by the Finance Committee or the full VSA Council, must be entitled to an appeal within a specified amount of time. While we support this latest change to the amendment, there are still aspects that could stand improvement. For one, we are of the belief that there is a clear need for periodic review of organizations’ rollover budgeting status. However, organizations that are granted rollover funding one year should not fear losing that capital the next, thus the VSA’s review of their status must occur at intervals longer than one year, or the system should in some way guarantee that savings accrued over several years cannot suddenly be lost. Rollover budgets are a step in the direction of long-term budgeting on the part of organizations and, therefore, the time between reviews must be accordingly longer. We are troubled that Koren’s amendment strikes the guaranteed rollover upon which The Miscellany News, Vassarion and WVKR
have and continue to rely. Although we cannot speak for the Vassarion or WVKR, this automatic rollover that The Miscellany News has depended upon is an absolute necessity, and its absence from the omnibus amendment is a serious cause for concern. And while we do not claim to be the mouthpiece for these other organizations, our suggestions will be beneficial for all organizations whose finances are structures similar to ours. We at The Miscellany News feel that exceptions must be made to the general application process for student organizations with certain particular financial structures. The Miscellany News, for example, has high capital costs which we spread over several years with the automatic rollover. These include the cost of hardware, software and other vehicles that we use to support our print and online content. If that rollover were threatened, as it is now, we would need to rely on the VSA Capital Fund for these expenses, placing a great burden on one particular year’s VSA finances and jeopardizing the consistency of our product. While we recognize that one motivation behind the amendment is to prevent organizations from going into debt and enforce financial responsibility, those groups with a strong track record of fiscal prudence should be recognized and rewarded with stable budgets; those within this set with a unique need for this kind of stability need be made to feel even more secure that the VSA is supportive of its efforts. The Miscellany News also earns the bulk of
its income at the very end of the year, often after Annual Budgeting has taken place, and much of this income comes from off-campus. In this way, we generate revenue for the community instead of recycling on-campus funds. This income could be lost without a rollover, and future Editorial Boards would be disincentivized from seeking end-of-year or summer advertisements if they knew their earnings would be lost. The original workaround that provided The Miscellany News with automatic rollover funding was and is essential to its financial stability and the financial stability of other organizations like it. We firmly believe that there must be automatic rollover exceptions written into the VSA Bylaws for a separate group of organizations with these specific budgeting needs. It is important that the VSA acknowledge that different organizations will have strikingly different budgeting needs and act and accommodate its allocation policies accordingly. We at The Miscellany News urge members of the VSA Council to block this amendment before it comes to a vote this Sunday. While, as it stands, it no longer places undue power among individual members of the Executive Board (any one of whom could have prevented an organization from receiving rollover funds), it still hampers the ability of capital-intensive, year-round earning organizations to fulfill their missions. The Staff Editorial reflects the opinion of at least 2/3 of the Editorial Board.
Academic databases must Calls for divestment must be made more accessible feed into systemic change Joshua Sherman
assistant opinions editoR
cademic databases have grown in the past few decades to become one of the most important research resources for students and professionals alike. There is no doubt that the accessibility they offer has been instrumental in making learning and research easier for anyone who works or studies in academia. However, as great an influence as they have had on our institutions of higher learning, there are many improvements that can be made to databases to make them more accessible and realize their true intent: better learning. We cannot deny the value that academic databases have offered to make learning more accessible, but their entire structure is an elitist orientation favoring large research institutions over small, liberal arts colleges like Vassar. Many academic databases run off a subscription basis, requiring schools to invest large sums of money for monthly access to journals. While, in the past, this cost has been justified to fund paper distribution, the internet has added a gray area here, as anyone at any school can access a database as easily as the next. The subscription basis used today makes larger schools more capable to provide simply because they have more students in a broader range of disciplines—not to mention graduate students. What this creates is a divide in educational accessibility and affordability between students at larger and smaller schools, limiting their ability to access the same range of journals and content for academic purposes. As a result, students in smaller schools miss out for a variable—school size—that actually serves an important element in defining a college experience. Students of any institution deserve equal access to databases that are just as available at other schools. The solution here, frankly, is to make more journals, if not all, equally accessible to all academic institutions across the board, or go as far as to require journal and database access to be free for all students in higher education. This seems to contradict the very foundation behind academic journals as a way to help fund academia or offer profit for those who contribute, but it’s unfair to argue that profit is the primary motive of the academic journal and database process—not to mention the fact that academic databases profit far more than their own contributors. The motive here is to create accessible learning with afford-
ability in mind for all students. There are many accessible journals already, but there is no excuse for the remaining journals not to make themselves more accessible to smaller schools like Vassar The death of Aaron Swartz last January has helped to raise necessary criticism of how we currently view academic databases and respective copyright law. Aaron Swartz himself was an advocate for more accessible academic journals and databases, and this very activism brought him into controversy at MIT, where he set up a server to automatically download millions of files from JSTOR, a major academic database. The server that Swartz used to download JSTOR actually crashed its servers several times, and caught the attention of the Department of Justice, who later arrested Swartz and indicted him for downloading the files illegally. In reality, access to JSTOR is legal on the MIT campus, though its terms and conditions do not allow the mass downloading of content from its databases. This began a twoyear long legal battle between Swartz and the Fed, a struggle that Swartz’ family claims led to his death. Swartz was reportedly harassed constantly by the DoJ, which wanted to prosecute him much more severely than MIT, the institution where he committed the offense. As a result of his suicide, many of the people involved in his prosecution have backed off, even though it highlights the serious reality of how hypocritical such academic institutions have become. These institutions now put the priority of copyright law and its backward legal system before the education of the masses. Recently, the White House itself began changing its views on academic databases, and advocated that research conducted with federal money should be made freely available to the public. This is a step in the right direction, but there is much more progress necessary to truly make academic databases what they should: free and open to students of all origins. Why should one institution have better research access than the University of Nebraska, Dutchess County Community College or Vassar? Is there a legitimate reason? We should encourage learning, not deter it, and hopefully academic journals are made more affordable in the coming years to ensure that their documents are accessible to everyone, and our goals for higher education become a reality in the years to come. —Josh Sherman is a student at Vassar College. He is Assistant Opinions Editor of the Miscellany.
he issue of divesting Vassar’s endowment from fossil fuel companies has been gaining steam this past semester. As part of a national movement on the rise, especially amongst universities, a group of dedicated campaigners has tried to persuade the Vassar Board of Trustees to withdraw the school’s investments in companies engaging in activities detrimental to the welfare of the Earth and its organisms.People have objected to the idea, citing arguments that we would destabilize Vassar’s endowment and thus jeopardize its finances, despite evidence that investment in the companies being targeted is but a small fraction of the entire portfolio. Other staunch defenders of the status quo extend the defeatist cry that the practical economic impact on the corporate giants amounts to nothing, even if all university endowments did divest— something that the campaigners have no illusions about, having argued that divestment is political rather than economic. These points based on a politically conservative guarding of the status quo—supplemented with a healthy dose of trust in “invisible hand” market forces that cause knee-jerk reactions to any mention of economic intervention or amelioration—have been countered by the campaign already. But it is also possible to approach this issue from the standpoint of the Far Left. The so-called “liberal left” of the modern democratic West has strayed far from its roots in the radical far left of the early 20th century, and criticisms can be leveled against the agenda of divestment from this side of the political spectrum. Such charges against divestment revolve around the fact that, until now at least, the campaign seems to be content to struggle and fight within the system. Not the system of Vassar College’s administration—though so far the campaign has remained cooperative—that is, but the system of capitalism. Divestment is fundamentally a strategy that stays within capitalism. It contains, hidden underneath, a tacit disavowal of the struggle against capitalism itself in favor of fighting for gains within the already-existing economic structure. Divestment does not address the systemic problems of capitalism—commodity exchange,
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the “market”, and so on—that are at the very root of the crises in conservation, inequality, and other areas. Working within the capitalist system in this way may appear to ultimately achieve tangible gains, but in the end it leaves the underlying global crisis that is capitalism unscathed. An initiative that in the beginning appears progressive might only be labeled as moderate at best. Having leveled these charges against the divestment movement, then, let me argue still that it should be supported. It is true that the campaign does not explicitly challenge the institution of capitalism. But again, its aim is primarily political, rather than directly economic. Its success would show that change within the system is possible, at least. Once the proverbial foot has wedged itself in the door, it can be called on as precedent for further rectifications to be made toward the economic practices that are currently so dysfunctional. Call me a Fabian, but, barring violent revolution—which appears neither feasible nor desirable—it seems that piecemeal reform is the only route to more equitable distribution of wealth and righting the social ills spawned by capitalism. Divestment may serve to show that the bastion can be shaken, but it will take much more to topple it. It is necessary, then, to have in mind a larger, overarching direction. Pragmatism may be valued but theory too has its place. Pushing for fossil fuel divestment at Vassar College may be a small step in the larger national divestment picture, but the national campaign too is only the first step in a much greater mission to escape the current dysfunctional political-economic systems of the U.S. and the West at large. We must realize that it will not suffice to work within the very system that causes the problems. My hope is that the the divestment campaign’s momentum will, instead of dissipating upon success, feed into a call for substantial political and economic systemic change. While it will serve the campaign to focus on its immediate goals now, such overarching rhetoric should not be omitted, lest members of the movement be lulled into a false sense of victory in winning the battle but ultimately—unbeknownst to them—losing the war. —Martin Man ‘16 is a student at Vassar College.
March 28, 2013
Affirmative action case highlights liberal hypocrisy Juan Thompson Columnist
n 1963, Malcolm X delivered a speech entitled “God’s Judgment of White America.” White liberals, according to Malcolm, differed “from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful. The liberal is more hypocritical. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend.” I cannot say I agree with the totality Malcolm’s statement; but I did feel the sentiment that produced those words after reading a column in the New York Times opposing race-based affirmative action. Within the next few months the Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Fisher vs. University of Texas. The plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, who was rejected by the school in 2008, has accused the school of racial discrimination, which, her lawyers argue, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. “There were people in my class”, The Atlantic quotes Fisher as saying, “with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin.” Tellingly, the university offered 47 provisional spots to students whose grades and scores were lower than those of Fisher. Out of those 47 spots a grand total of five went to black or Latino students, while the remaining 42 were given to white students. UT also rejected 186 black or Latino students, whose grades and scores were higher than Fisher’s. Are they suing the university and claiming those 42 white students were given preferential treatment? No. But Fisher launched her crusade because she believes, as a white American, she is entitled to certain
es, but, of course, the author omitted what those bonuses are. Perhaps it is because those students receive larger lifts than black applicants and yet there is no effort to dismantle those schemes, which are responsible for a larger proportion of student enrollment at the top schools, that the race-based programs currently under attack. I know this because if you look around such campuses, including ours, there are not many black bodies. But if one were completely ignorant of this saga and read Leonhardt’s work, he or she would think black people were flooding the nation’s top schools. He also charged the present system with preventing different perspectives from being allowed into the classroom, which is absolute nonsense because black Americans naturally bring a different outlook to the table. After reading the author’s op-ed I could not help but think he believes diversity is fine as long as black people are not included. But because of people like Leonhardt and institutions such as the New York Times, we are fed this one-sided propaganda that suffocates the possibility of any encompassing discussion about affirmative action. Every decade when these cases rear their ugly heads we are not told of the successes of affirmative action. Those liberals who are supposed to be on our side in these fights for justice have let us down. They are quick to write glowing profiles about Fisher and her cello playing, while ignoring the countless under-served blacks and Latinos who have used such schemes to advance themselves and their communities. These liberals take to the op-ed pages and present the liberal case against affirmative action, while denying similar space to intrepid proponents such as Vassar Professor of Political Science Luke
privileges; and if she does not receive them when she wants them, then it must be because she is the victim of black racism. Abigail Fisher is a spoiled pawn that is now being used by those committed to destroying affirmative action. The details I have just cataloged are not widely known. They may be mentioned in passing on television, or buried within some newspaper articles, but Fisher’s sense of entitlement is certainly not a part of the broader media zeitgeist.
“Fisher believes, as a white American, that she is entitled to certain privileges.” Juan Thompson ’13 George Orwell, after reading a book he clearly loathed, wrote, “If it were possible for pages to give off a physical stink, these would”. I felt the same way after reading a column by the New York Times’ Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt. His piece, which was placed in the paper’s coveted Sunday section, was titled “The Liberals Against Affirmative Action.” Leonhardt argued for a class-based program because “race plays a role unlike almost any other factor. An African-American student with a similar application to a white student received the equivalent of a 310-point lift in SAT scores.” He then said athletes and legacy beneficiaries also receive large bonus-
Harris—whose think tank has played an important role in this battle. Professor Harris conveyed to me recently the difficulty that people like him, and UCLA Law School Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, have faced in getting the sort of coverage now readily available to those who oppose affirmative action.
“Institutions such as The Times suffocate the possibility of any encompassing discussion about affirmative action.” Juan Thompson ’13 The great Nina Simone, in her 1967 song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” crooned, “I wish you could know / What it means to be me / Then you’d see and agree / That every man (and woman) should be free.” And therein lies the problem with disappointing characters like Leonhardt; they do not understand these fights because they live in isolated bubbles where most people look and think as they do. Many of us who are opposed to America’s racist past and present are quick to target the obvious bigots but we should take a look at some of our supposed allies because they are not truly committed to this struggle. —Juan Thompson ‘13 is a Political Science major.
NO-GO campaign ignores social harms of fossil fuels Noah Bogdonoff
n a recent email to the VSA and other student groups, the Moderate, Independent & Conservative Alliance (MICA) declared its intent to launch a fossil fuel investment campaign dubbed NO-GO. The crux of MICA’s argument is that anthropogenic global climate change doesn’t exist, and that fossil fuels are good for the world. These opinions fly in the face of all respectable, empirical, experimental evidence gathered on the topic, so I won’t spend much time trying to debunk them. I will mention that the spokesperson for this campaign, Alex Epstein, holds a philosophy degree from Duke University, and heads the Center for Industrial Progress, a “think-tank” that keeps its donors anonymous. Taken in concert, these facts suggest that Epstein has no standing as an environmental or energy researcher, and is probably paid quite a bit of money by groups such as Koch Industries or Donors Trust to hold the views he espouses. Epstein and his followers assert that because some have benefitted from fossil fuels we are not allowed to critique their repercussions. In doing so, NO-GO denies the terror and destruction that fossil fuels wreak every day. When we at Divest VC speak of environmental atrocities, we speak of the Valero oil refineries built within feet of Latino communities in Texas, the mountaintop removal sites that hold poor communities in Appalachia hostage, and the intrusion of the Keystone XL Pipeline and all of its carcinogens, mutagens, and neurotoxins into American Indian reservations. Another example of this was when a group of anti-pipeline protesters traveled to Manchester, a community in Houston that had been invaded by three gas and oil refineries, as well as an 18-track-wide coal transport railway. The protesters were unable to go more than a few hours without dizziness, nausea, cluster headaches or nosebleeds. Residents said that these symptoms had become a fact of life ever since the arrival of the fossil fuel industry. It is not a coincidence that these communities have fallen prey to such abuse. This kind of exploitation is institutionalized. It is called “environmental racism,” which is the systematic targeting of marginalized communities by industry and government for envi-
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ronmentally harmful actions such as energy extraction, energy refinement, and waste disposal. Why does this happen? Government and industrial decision-makers target these communities because they have no political, economic, or social recourse. They cannot say, “Not in my backyard,” because the repercussions of doing so can destroy their families. In most of these communities, citizens are subject to surveillance and coercion by private security and federal police. If they speak out, they are fired. If they protest, they are arrested. Those who do not have legal status face deportation. Often, they are bribed into silence with scholarships and bottled water. All of this is kept hidden by mass media that financially rely upon the fossil fuel industry. This predation on frontline communities— those directly impacted by environmental racism—leaves a gaping hole in our dialogue. As environmentally privileged individuals, most of us at Vassar are more focused on saving boreal forests and fertile farmland than we are on the quality of the our air or the water from our taps. In light of MICA’s decision to oppose divestment, it is important to own up to that fact and remember that divestment is a political tactic whose goal is justice. Racist, ethnocentric attitudes are inextricable from environmental exploitation, and the former must be brought to light before the latter can be addressed. Climate justice means solidarity and allegiance with frontline communities. It means accepting a definition of the environment that extends beyond our own experience. It means moving forward with an understanding of who is affected by environmental decisions and what we can do to bring their interests to the forefront. Divestment is about climate change, conservation, and alternative energy. However, more than anything, it is about justice. Until anyone from MICA or NO-GO can look my frontline friends in the eye and say in clear conscience that the fuel causing their cancers, nosebleeds, and cluster headaches is a good thing, I don’t believe they’re ready to take a stance on the issue. —Noah Bogdonoff ‘14 is co-coordinator of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign. These words are not necessarily reflective of the group’s opinion as a whole.
March 28, 2013
Not in My Backyard: Former MICA leaders oppose “Vassar Loves Fossil Fuels” drive Jeremy Bright & Will Serio Guest Columnists
ike many Vassarions, we were excited by the overnight deluge of notifications that Alex Epstein, President of the for-profit think tank “Center for Industrial Progress,” would be lecturing at the College this Friday on the virtues of fossil fuel. However, that excitement evaporated once we learned that Epstein and his Center were not aliases for Sacha Baron Cohen. As former presidents of the Moderate, Independent, Conservative Alliance (MICA), the sudden formation of the “Vassar Loves Fossil Fuels” (VLFF) campaign struck us as peculiar. In the past, such autonomous subcommittees were formed by large groups of interested members and associates during major campus events with much intra-organization discussion; however, there has been little, if any, communication from the current leadership and no voting on the VLFF campaign, its tactics, or the choice and cost of speaker. Hence we hold that this reaction is not only misfocused but improper. Clearly, the motive behind bringing Epstein to Vassar is to redirect the discourse. Those who have done their YouTube homework will note that throughout his many taped debates and lectures, he recycles the argument that, paraphrased, because fossil fuels helped create our modern society, we should not criticize their harmful environmental impact. Underpinning Epstein’s entire analysis is the Randian notion — he was a writer and fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute from 2004-2011, after all—that Earth is imperfect and that humans can perfect it through further industrialization. Given the emphasis on critical thinking at our fine College, we find it hard to imagine any Vassarion falling for the fruitless trap of conflating the divestment debate with the merits of fossil fuel’s historical role in American industrialization.
While one should understand the methods by which we came to this point in our society, now is the time to reflect upon both the scientific evidence at hand and the costs and benefits of staying invested in these companies. As such, our divestment debate should be one concerned with intertemporal choice and utility maximization, not for-profit love or blind ideological hatred of fossil fuels. By allowing the discussion of this issue to be co-opted by either extreme, we lose focus on what we were actually arguing about. More astounding is that the VLFF campaign exacerbates Epstein’s already inflammatory posture by propagating memes throughout campus that seem as if they were paid for by some shadowy Committee for a Hydrofracked Tomorrow, using rhetoric clearly designed to spark controversy (perhaps best exemplified by the campaign’s own name), and creating an artificially viral campaign—from Facebook to the literally thousands of invitations placed in campus mailboxes. VLFF seems to have received much ridicule first and generated curiosity a distant second. Any publicity campaign aimed at producing interest for an upcoming lecture should work to increase attendance and awareness, goals which ought not be eclipsed by setting up straw men before the speaker even sets foot on campus, no matter how controversial his or her platform, though one must question why a more legitimate and respectable speaker was not found. Furthermore, such tactics and subsequent negative public perception have consequences, not the least of which is further ossifying extremes and estranging individuals attempting to navigate the now-hazardous spectrum of thought in between the poles. In fact, none of the many legitimate criticisms of divestment require the vitriol or absurd theatre of VLFF. For example, VSA Vice President for Finance Alexander Koren and Miscellany
News Contributing Editor Aashim Usgaonkar addressed the economic realities and negative impacts to financial aid and faculty salaries likely to result from divestment in “Fossil fuel divestment leads to lose-lose scenario for VC” (Miscellany News, 2.20.2013). Other dispassionate critiques include the myriad bankruptcies affecting the photovoltaic power industry—famously Solyndra and more recently Suntech, the world’s largest producer of solar panels; the lack of serious consideration of nuclear energy in the divestment proposal; the difficulties of storing intermittent power to supply grids; and the fact that many major corporations named in the proposal’s “List of Initial Companies” to divest from are responsible for much private sector funding of renewable and alternative energy projects, including the corporation at the top of the list, BP, which, for example, recently invested $800 million in a Kansas wind farm project as part of an energy consortium. As opponents of both the current divestment campaign and VLFF, who are cognizant of the financial aid limitations future students might face without a sustainable endowment to support their education as well as the dangers of unaddressed climate change, we believe that informed and constructive campus discussion can still occur in a rational, respectful, and inclusive manner. Moreover, we lament that the VLFF’s leadership—as its organizational support is very questionable—favors circus and controversy over engendering such debate and discourse. But most of all, we lament the $2,430 price tag on Alex Epstein’s lecture, since we could have just ironically reserved one of the biggest rooms in Standard Oil—er, Rockefeller Hall—to mock his YouTube videos for free. —Jeremy Bright ’11 and Will Serio ’13 are former Presidents of the Moderate, Independent, Conservative Alliance (MICA).
Obama’s trip to Israel mends fences, opens windows for Middle East peace, security Sara Lobo
ast week, Barack Obama took his first trip to Israel as since being elected as President. This trip, very early in his second term of office, demonstrates his desire to mend previously strained relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as assess what can be done to manage the tense political climate that has engulfed the Middle East. In his first term, Obama pushed for a freeze on Israeli settlements, which hurt U.S.-Israeli relations. During the 2012 presidential election, Netanyahu openly supported the campaign of Obama’s opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney. Now it seems that the two leaders realize the importance of collaborating to help increase safety and stability for the region. Obama’s recent support of Israel during the skirmish with Hamas last November, as well as his monetary aid for the Iron Dome, a missile defense system, will likely strengthen the relationship between both countries, and this trip is an additional measure to ensure and certify the U.S.-Israeli alliance. One of the larger topics addressed during talks was the necessity of preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons. Obama assured Netanyahu of his support, and asserted Israel’s right to defend themselves. However, Obama called for diplomacy before violence, and was focused on getting Iran to comply with international safeguards against armaments. Netanyahu didn’t disagree, but said that his red line for military action would be if Tehran comes close to enriching enough uranium for a weapon. At that point, Tehran would reach a “point of immunity,” meaning it would have enough nuclear capability to be invulnerable to physical attack. Public opinion in America overwhelmingly supports Israel as an ally, but is split on support for Israel if it unilaterally attacks Iranian nuclear facilities (49% are in favor, and 49% are against.) Obama was hesitant to say he supported violence, asserting it can be used as a last resort, but primarily supported diplomacy, which
seems to be in line with public thought. While diplomacy is always preferable to violence, I fear that Iran will not comply with efforts for peace. With respect to warnings about its growing stores of uranium, Iran has replied that it has a right to “peaceful nuclear energy,” even though this nuclear energy can no longer be verified as “peaceful.” It seems that a more tangible and direct response plan should be proposed regarding Iran, with sanctions and other measures to prevent violence, as simply calling for diplomacy hasn’t been working.With respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the White House’s official statement declared that Obama was not visiting Israel with any plans to solve the dispute. Rather, the goal of his trip was to assess the impasse. Palestinians responded to Obama’s trip to Israel by protesting Israeli construction in an area that is considered occupied. Palestinians want Obama to condemn Israel for its construction of new settlements in the West Bank. The topic of settlements being such a heated topic, neither Obama nor Netanyahu approached it at their news conference. Obama also reinforced the importance of the peace process when addressing young Israeli students at a conference. He called on them to pressure their leaders for peace, and urged them to look at the world through the eyes of Palestinians. He said that political leaders would not take risks if the people did not demand that they did. Speaking about the enemies of Israel, he urged them to move their tactics away from violence. Ultimately, in Obama’s eyes, Israel must realize an independent Palestine and only through that realization can the Israeli people be truly protected and peace achieved. The basis of Obama’s stance for peace is that there must be sovereignty for Palestine as well as security for Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, has said that Palestinians believe peace is necessary and inevitable, while Netanyahu has said he desires peace as well. Although Obama did not bring
up any sort of specific peace plan, I applaud his decision to speak directly to the Israeli public, making it not just an issue for political leaders but one that is as relevant and accessible to the public as it should be. People didn’t expect Obama to make peace possible on this visit, but there is certainly an expectation that he will do more to help in the near future. Obama’s trip was a step in the right direction, and he should continue by facilitating further diplomacy in the coming four years. Another topic relevant to his trip pertains to the chemical weapons that Syria has supposedly been using against its people. Israel fears that, if these weapons fall into the hands of Hezbollah, they will be used against them. Obama has shown his support for Israel in this arena as well, warning the Syrian government to keep such weapons away from battlefields and Hezbollah while ordering an investigation to see if they are being used. Obama said that he was skeptical that they had been used, but said that if they were, it would be a clear cause for further action by the United States. Critics of Obama’s trip say that he is not being a global leader since he hasn’t given military aid to Syria’s rebels. However, I believe it is important to assess the situation fully before rushing to arms, especially given the profound instability already shaking the region. Hasty action could cause further, avoidable turmoil. Overall, Obama’s trip to Israel was a smart political move. He needed to mend relations with Israel, and the trip gave him the opportunity to assess the tense political climate between the region’s countries. It seems that in the near future, U.S. foreign policy will only get more complex and tense, and Obama’s decision to give attention to this area seems exceptionally pertinent. Obama’s trip was a step in the right direction, though I certainly believe that it ought to be followed up with more direct plans to give rise to change in the Middle East. —Sara Lobo ‘16 is a student at Vassar College.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
on the street
What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming good weather? “Tanks and sundresses.” —Nick Page ‘16
“I want to stretch out on the quad and stare up at the sun and do nothing.” —Olesia Elﬁmova, Language Fellow “The warmth, mostly. It’s been cold, and I really don’t like that.” —Sophie Fuller ‘15
“Linen pants. Linen in general. ” —Ryder O’Dell ‘14
“Not wearting the same pair of jeans six days in a row.” -Mary Talbot ‘16
“Opening the window in my dorm room and hearing everybody laughing outside on the quad.” —Anna Brashear
Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor Katie de Heras, Photo Editor
March 28, 2013
Steubenville, OH case reveals rape culture in America Angela Della Croce Guest Columnist
he was “like a dead body.” Many of us are already quite familiar with the Steubenville, Ohio rape case, where two teens—Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16—raped a 16-year-old girl on August 12 of last year. The victim was drunk and unconscious when the crime occurred; she only remembered a brief vomiting episode that night. Since she couldn’t personally recall the event, text messages and photos provided the bulk of the evidence used to build a case against these two high school football players. As a result of the incriminating evidence, the judge concluded that both boys penetrated the girl with their fingers without her consent, since she lacked the cognitive ability to give approval to such acts. There were several witnesses to the crime, yet little was done to protect her. Instead, the event transformed into a social media spectacle, circulating humiliating photos of the victim passed out and naked. The crime was even documented on social media sites, like Instagram and Twitter, and a video of demeaning remarks about the victim and assault were uploaded onto YouTube. Even the football coach aided in the feigned mitigation of this assault, apparently telling Mays he would “take care of it” and “was joking about it”. Though the evidence left little room to cry innocence, Mays had attempted to orchestrate a cover-up, telling the girl that their encounter was strictly consensual and that he even took care of her in her drunken stupor. He told her in one text, “This is the most pointless thing. I’m going to get in trouble for something I should be getting thanked for taking care of you.” Subsequent messages indicated that he was begging the victim not to press charges for the sake of his football career; he showed little to no consideration for her well-being or the true implications of
his actions. Charges were pressed, obviously, and after four days of testimony both boys were found guilty of rape. Richmond was sentenced to serve at least one year in the state juvenile system, and Mays was sentenced to serve at least two years, since he also distributed nude photos of a minor.
“There were several witnesses to the crime, yet little was done to protect the victim.” Angela Della Croce ’15 You would think that the public response would consist of outrage towards those involved and of protection and sympathy towards the victim—a girl who was barely old enough to even drive and was subjected to physical, emotional, and psychological trauma, with little to no consolation from her peers. If you assumed this though then you’re wrong. In fact, the actual response was quite the contrary. The offenders received a plethora of sympathetic media coverage, depicting them as “unknowing, young rising stars” whose lives are shattered by one brief event. On the other hand, nobody was speaking about the potential long-term damage the victim may have to face after the humiliating assault. If anything, the girl was subject to negativity and hostility. Two of her former best friends testified against her, stating that it wasn’t uncommon for her to get drunk and to lie. After the verdict was read, two girls were arrested for threatening the victim via Twitter. According to The Washington Post, one said, “You ripped my family apart, you made
my cousin cry, so when I see you b—- it’s gone be a homicide.” The other tweeted she would beat “the s— out of ” the rape victim. Other Twitter users called the girl a “drunk slut,” as if she had any control over the sexual assaults acted upon her. The Steubenville case and its sad yet unsurprising reaction make it more difficult to deny the presence of a rape culture. According to the organization FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, this can be loosely defined as a culture in which “people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape”, making “sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable.” This culture practices victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivialization of rape, et cetera. Though many will fervently reject the notion that we live in this type of culture, the facts speak for themselves. By simply carrying eight ounces to a pound of weed in New York, one runs the risk of being incarcerated for four years. These boys inflicted sexual trauma on a minor, publically humiliated her and probably imposed long-term psychological damage that will haunt her relationships with men. They received one to two years in the juvenile system. We live in a society where it is commonly believed that rape is about excess sexual desire and an inability to control it. It is seen as an accident or a mistake, not as a premeditated criminal act of subordinating and humiliating the victim. We are exposed to a media that portrays women as sexualized objects of desire—there to be enjoyed instead of enjoying themselves. Women are often illustrated as coy and unattainable so that the man is the one who must actively pursue sex, seducing and persuading the woman to sleep with him. Putting this illustration into reality, unsuccessful sexual coercion can lead to frustration and anger, which can manifest into sexual violence and rape. We adhere to programs that
The Miscellany Crossword by Jack Mullan, Crossword Editor
ACROSS 1 *Singer Kitt 6 *Disney canine 10 Exam for an aspiring atty. 14 Weeping daughter of Tantalus 15 Overhead light? 16 Roman emperor of A.D. 69 17 SeaWorld attractions 18 George Orwell’s alma mater 19 Far−out experience 20 *Damage from regular use 22 *George of “Star Trek” 23 Font option: Abbr 24 “The great aphrodisiac,” per Henry Kissinger 25 Some Iranians 28 Painter’s stand 31 Former AT&T rival 32 Decline of the West? 35 With 39−Across, exclamation apropos of Monday the 1st, using the
ten seemingly missing letters from the starred answers 39 See 35−across 40 New Orleans baller 42 Fond du ___, Wis. 44 *Neck protector 45 Mild cigar 47 Shuteye 51 Samoan capital 53 *Basil−based pasta sauce 54 *Retroactively (3 wds.) 60 1943 U.S. vs. Japan battle site 61 Enlivens, with “up” 62 Divided Asian land 63 Prompted 64 Greek war god 65 Rye fungus 66 Fencing blade 67 *Runway walker 68 *Mick Jagger and co., with “The”
DOWN 1 Adequate, in verse 2 Suffix with million or
Answers to last week’s puzzle
billion 3 Jay−Z’s ___−Fella Records 4 Ski lift 5 One side of a quarrel 6 Silents star Bara 7 Babies’ toys 8 Lotion additive 9 Smiling Lisa 10 Dean of Freshman and Math Prof Ben 11 Sipper’s aid 12 “Go take ___!” (“Scram!”) 13 Serious drinker 21 Some Windows systems 24 Bit of dinero 25 Metric weight 26 Mormon State 27 Seized property, informally 29 Start of a German goodbye 30 ___−cone 33 She sang with Duke and Dizzy 34 Romanov ruler 36 Canadian savings acct: Abbr. 37 Business name ender 38 Meadow 41 “___ in the Closet”; infamous R Kelly series 43 Business name ender 45 Vassar’s tech−help desk: Abbr. 46 Hanukkah pancakes 47 Vacuum 48 Abate (2 wds.) 49 Cosmetician Lauder 50 Chopin’s “Revolutionary” or “Winter Wind”
52 Entourage, in slang 54 Cracker topper 55 Prefix with graphic 56 Kids’ construction
57 2012’s Best Picture 58 Software development group 59 London art gallery
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
advocate a victim-oriented response to rape; the responsibility falls back on the target to prevent the rape. Don’t wear skimpy clothes; don’t drink too much; carry pepper spray; be mindful of who is around you; use the buddy system, and so forth. Instead of teaching men not to rape, we try to teach women not to get raped.
“The Steubenville case makes it more difficult to deny the presence of a rape culture.” Angela Della Croce ’15
There’s no way around it; rape culture is real and it’s something we have to address. Treating rape as almost inevitable, as excusable and as trivial is simply inhumane. Countless victims should not have to deal with being blamed for the crime brought against them, nor should their offenders receive any sympathy or excuses from the masses. This problem is ingrained in our legal system, media coverage, and social norms, but we can fight it through discourse, awareness, and education. The main hindrance to change is ignorance; many people aren’t even aware that rape culture exists. By opening up the issue for discussion and providing convincing evidence of its prevalence, we can educate people on its dangerous implications and ignite progress against rape culture. —Angela Della Croce ‘15 is an Economics major.
HUMOR & SATIRE
March 28, 2013
Breaking News From the desk of Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor Poor, confused junior shows up at Apartment Draw with colored pencils and paper, sorted into remaining SoCo One student’s unimaginably March Madness—not just for depressing springbreak recap b-ball!: VC Bracketology 101 Jill Levine
Chris Gonzalez Features Editor
h, spring break! The perfect time of year to whip out that parka, take a stroll in the white snow, and dunk your head into a mug of hot cocoa to prevent frostbite of the face. Yep, nothing like two whole weeks of a dark, gray sunless sky. More like Spring BLEAK, amirite? Anyway, if you think I let some lack of warm weather ruin my plans to get down and dirty in one of the spring break capitals of the United States—Ohio—then you, sir or madam, are greatly mistaken. I have never in my 20 years of “living” let Mother Nature dictate my fun, and I wasn’t about to start now. For example, I DO like Piña Coladas and you bet your sweet ass I like getting caught in the rain (singing, even), so what difference does a little snow and some icy winds and my fear of snow and icy winds make? Also, Northeast Ohio really only gets one day of spring until summer when the temperatures shoot up drastically and you’re left with this feeling that God is punishing you for wanting the snow to stop and then wishing for warmth. Cold or Hot: Take your pick because you only get a comfortable living environment never. But I digress. Here are some ideas on how you can get the most out of you next wintry spring break like I did in Some-suburb-you-wouldn’t-recognize-ifI-told-you-so-I’ll-just-say-Cleveland. 1. Beach attire.
I wore it. You gotta get in that white sandy beach state of mind somehow, even if all you can see from your bedroom window is ice and slush. And if you think going shirtless and wearing swim trunks, or perhaps, you know, just letting it all hang out banana hammock style isn’t appropriate for below 30-degree weather, well, I wouldn’t want to build sandcastles in the frozen earth with you anyway. 2. Sleep.
They say we need it for health reasons, but I don’t know anything about that. I do know, however, that spring break is designed for you to cram half of a semester’s worth of sleep into two weeks. Hitting the sack at about 3am and waking up five days later will leave you feeling pumped and refreshed to hit those all night parties that I was never invited to or told about (I’m looking at you, Mom). Seriously, I’ve received Facebook invites only to be uninvited 2 minutes later when the event creator realized they had made a terrible mistake. That is my real, not-sitcom life.
3. Wet T-shirt contest.
At this time of year, many young people look forward to either getting doused in water or holding the hose at one of these events. In Florida. Where it’s warm. Do what you will out in the cold, but I managed to partake in what many would consider a spring break tradition in a nice warm house. Admittedly, this was completely by accident: I tripped and fell, fully clothed, into the bathtub as the shower was running. It took me a couple of minutes to realize what happened and, next thing you know, I’m standing in front of the mirror staring at an image that no one ever needs to see. That totally counts as a Wet T-shirt contest and I still won, despite all the tough competition (my cats. All of my cats.) 4.Drinks on drinks on drinks.
By which I mean I found a bottle of beer left over from the Super Bowl in my family’s fridge. Although, I’m not entirely sure which Super Bowl, and I can’t be completely sure whether or not it was actual beer. I mean, it was in a bottle; it fizzed, so I drank it. Then I spent the night throwing up and hallucinating I was in New Orleans. That’s kinda like what happens on spring break, right? 5. Friends.
You can’t really do spring break alone…unless you’re me. Now don’t start crying. I had a total of one friend at home who I hung out with once. And we had such a crazy time, let me tell you! First, we got milkshakes (with one straw!), because that’s what you do when it’s cold outside and you can’t really feel your fingers. And then I took her home. Whew…man it doesn’t get wilder than that! And if it does, please don’t tell me and burst my bubble. 6. FOOD.
Glorious food. Taco Bell and Chipotle and Applebees and everything good in the world. If it had a logo on it, I’m pretty sure I consumed it. And if it was green I tried my best to stay away from it. You only have to be healthy when there’s sun outside. And for that one day of sunshine, I recall eating something with lettuce. (Fact: It was a taco.) 7. Reality check.
OK, maybe my spring break wasn’t that great and maybe no one wants my advice. But hey, I got to watch reruns of Chopped. So it’s a win in my book.
ey, March Madness: you’re doing it wrong. March Madness is actually a form of psychological and physical distress originating in the Gilded Age; Sir Edwin of Hartford, Conn. had the first recorded case of March Madness in the early 1880s. Symptoms include a high fever, a spontaneous urge to hunt small animals, a slight greenish hue on the sufferer’s kneecaps, and a nasty case of the brackets. March Madness spread down the coast that year becoming an epidemic. Millions died, NBD. And then, like everything else in history, it was stolen by sports media in the mid 20th-century. Most of the guys I went to high school with and like five or six guys from Vassar participate in this so-called March Madness by studying the science of bracketology (up there with biochemistry). It’s fairly simple: you make brackets, you are totally wrong, and Indiana wins (you saw it here first, I have Bard in second, prep your brackets accordingly). In the recent years this bracketology fever has evolved beyond actual sports. There is snacketology in which gummy bears wrestle Doritos in an unholy mix of sweet and salt. There is some weird bracket about smart phones which no one cares about because people literally only use phones to go on Facebook and take selfies. Jezebel has a bracket in which trends from the 80s are pitted against trends from the 90s and the Buzzfeed editors are silently weeping because they didn’t think of it first. We have officially gone bracket crazy. It’s actual madness. In this madness, however, one bracket is missing: Vassar bracketology. I know we don’t really do trends (the lack of a Cappy Harlem Shake video still hurts me a little) and sports (I’ll just throw that out there) but this is a great way (the only way, really) to figure out the actual best thing at Vassar. I’m so excited about Vassar bracketology that I will even share some of my regional picks for the first round of competition. Vassar Bracketology, Division 1(?) Womp-Womps vs. Sunset Lake: In the first round, Team Womp-Womp takes on Sunset Lake. First of all, womp-womps, like unicorns, shouldn’t be real (they don’t sound like a real thing, like what is the Latin name for wompwomp?: wompicus wompisus? Yeah, not real). They are impressive in that they have adapted to campus life better than the typical freshman. Sunset Lake with its natural occurring fireworks
and abundance of grass should historically be the easy winner here, but it was mysteriously emptied last semester (Witchcraft! Damn Quidditch team!). I predict an easy win for the wompwomps. New THs vs. Open Curriculum: I’ve been in these houses. They have so much room, are so nice, have granite counters and marble showers, are painted with gold and each one comes with its own butler. But not taking math always wins. Always. Open Curriculum takes it. Tasty Tuesday vs. the Quad: Tough match up in this round for both teams. Tasty Tuesday is like delivery for people too lazy to call a delivery service (me). The empanadas just...come to you. It’s like Christmas without the awkward parts. However, almost nothing can win against the Quad in the spring. Pretending to do homework outside instead of inside the dorms is always thrilling. I predict a decisive win for the Quad. Bacios Delivery vs. Primal Scream: Another tough match-up, but I’m fairly sure that super late night pizza always beats naked people whether they are running through the library or spinning fire. Shiva Rave vs. October Break: In the category of things that don’t exist anymore we have the Shiva Rave. Notorious for really no reason (People just love anything with the word rave in it. “Homework Rave?” “Yeah!”) it has now moved on to become of Vassar’s long and confusing history. I predict a win for October break because guess what, in society, it’s not a real thing! We are basically the only school that gets that random week off. (Someone please, PLEASE make the movie “October Breakers.” Would watch.) Founder’s Day vs. the Library: Vassar bracketology experts may predict an easy win for Founder’s Day here, but I think that the Vassar Library will put up a good fight because, well...have you seen it? That thing is gorgeous. It is so much prettier than any of us would ever be in bulding form. It is the reason why we are relevant/on all those Huffington Post lists/why I actually write essays. What other library has a freakin’ meditation (read: sex) room? And feminist stained glass art? Sadly, Founder’s Day will eventually win this match-up, because free beer. Free beer and children’s carnival rides. UpC vs. the Retreat: LULZ JK NO CONTEST.
The Misc’s Bedside Astrologer
by Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor
Aries (March 21-April 19): There is absolute-
ly no way to prove that you aren’t a bearded old man in a staightjacket sitting in an insane asylum hallucinating this pathetic fabrication you call your life, Aries. But yeah, no big deal, go back to worrying about that film essay and eating enough fiber. That’s definitely more important. Yeah. Taurus (April 20-May 20): The stars predict
a lot of fantastic things happening to you today, Libra, including—wait, you’re not Libra? You’re Taurus? Hold on, let me check my chartHOLYMOTHEROFPEARL haha WOO you are in for a DOOZY today, kid. WOW. I’ll keep my fingers crossed but, yeah, you’re totally screwed.
Gemini (May 21-June 20): What is Gemini, again? Some sort of crab constellation? Or a sea-goat? Which one of you guys is a sea-goat?
Virgo (August 23-September 22): You smell like chum, Virgo. What’re you using, Chum Deodorant?
Cancer (June 21-July 22): You and I are close,
Libra (September 23-October 22): You can ac-
Cancer. We share everything with each other. But the stars…they say you’re hiding something from me. So be honest, Cancer—is there something you should be telling me? I just want to know if…I mean, you’d…you’d tell me if you were the SayAnything mod, right? Right?!
complish a lot today, Libra. Put your mind to the task and see what you can do. What the stars are trying to say is: Literally do anything that isn’t eating Nutter Butters and masturbating and your life will improve dramatically.
Sagittarius (November 22-December 21): Hey,
fun fact: Everything is illuminated. Capricorn (December 22-January 19): Oh!
Leo (July 23-August 22): No, Leo, you’re in-
sane: grape-flavored Jolly Ranchers are clearly the best. Lemon? Really?! What is this, a Siberian prison?
YOU’RE the sea-goat. Sorry. It’s hard to tell sometimes because, you know, you’re all stars or something. Aquarius (January 20-February 18): No, Aquarius, you can’t do your thesis on “Gilmore Girls,” you’re a chem major. Stop asking.
Scorpio (October 23-November 21): Just as
you feared, Scorpio—everyone really DOES hate you. Even your best friend? Especially your best friend. She hates you most of all. She steals from your wallet ALL the time. Hey, she’s doing it right now!
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
Pisces (February 19-March 20): Things have
really been turning around for you, Pisces. You’ve had a string of good luck lately. A little too good. Get ready to be t-boned in traffic next week.
March 28, 2013
Gallagher wins annual Swarts Seven Playwriting Award Emma Daniels RepoRteR
Jacob Gorski/The Miscellany News
bout her play, American Soldier, Erin Gallagher ’13 quipped: “I started out writing it for an English seminar in playwriting last year and have since returned to it. I think it might be my elaborate excuse to write erotic fiction. Or, you know, a heartfelt attempt at investigating the nuances of family relations.” In fact, Gallagher’s attempt was a successful one; she is the 2013 recipient of the annual Swarts Seven Playwriting Award at Vassar. Planet of Ashes and Snow by Tatiana Collet-Apraxine ‘13 received an honorable mention. After Marilyn Swartz Seven ’69 died of leukemia in 1997 at the age of 50, her classmates, with the help of Professor Emeritus of Drama James Steerman, honored her memory by establishing a fund to support this yearly award. The award is open to any Vassar junior or senior who submits a play of high dramatic quality to a committee of members of the Drama and English departments. Entry forms and play submissions are accepted late fall and the winner is announced in early spring each academic year. The winning playwright receives a $1,000 award, and the Drama department hosts a staged reading of the play. Although Seven was a psychology major at Vassar, she was immersed in theater. During her college years, Seven spent her summers performing in stock productions and touring as a dancer with Ann Corio’s This Was Burlesque. After graduating, she continued to dance and act, and also began to embrace her true creative lifelong passion: writing plays. The staged reading of Gallagher’s work, along with a small reception, will be on Sunday, April 21, in the Streep Studio, Room 110 in the Volgelstein Center for Drama and Film. At the reception, Collet-Apraxine’s play will be acknowledged. This is the first year that the
competition has had a runner-up. Collet-Apraxine describes her play as follows: “A Planet of Ashes and snow is the story of a woman’s journey after she has died. It is an attempt at reconciling poetry, death, loss, memory and music. The heroin Anna has been waiting on a small planet for a long time until a strange man who speaks in charades takes her on a bus to several planets, each enclosing different places that are dear to her; including her house – located on the moon- where she meets her daughter and husband as she remembers them before she died.” She emphasized that she had numerous inspirations for her work. “The play is inspired by personal memories, poems by Baudelaire and Rimbaud, Surrealism, astrology and by the music of Philip Glass,” she said. She stressed that she wants to continue to tweak it, “I hope to keep working on it in the future, and make it into a full length play,” she noted. Afterwards will be the staged reading of American Soldier. The play is an intimate portrayal of a family; it has a small, four-person cast who also operates as the chorus. Gallagher said, “It is a quirky comedy where sex is not only a selling point, but also a form of sad and subtle salvation. It follows the story of Marian Hayden, a recent college graduate, whose parents do not understand how their quick-witted daughter could find herself writing porn. As they gather together for a feigned reading of her script, Marian is forced to face the realities of her twin brother fighting overseas in the Iraq War.” The play was Gallagher’s first attempt at writing a full-length production. Following in Seven’s footsteps, she is not a Drama major. Her chosen disciplines are Art History and English. Gallagher said of her theater experience: “I have only taken Introduction to Theater-Mak-
Vassar senior Erin Gallagher, pictured above, was awarded the Swarts Seven Playwright Award this year. The award was created in memory of Marilyn Swartz Seven ’69 by her classmates. ing in the Drama department here at Vassar, but I have been a part of Idlewild, an all-female, non-hierarchical, collaborative theater ensemble, for four years, participating in various roles from performing and writing to set and prop design.” Through Idlewild she played a role in the creation of numerous productions. Idlewild performs one show each semester; a collaboratively written piece in the fall and a traditional play in the spring. Gallagher has been involved with the following: Craves Like Woah, Fucking A, No Photography Please, Late: A Cowboy Song, Strangerdom, The Secretaries, and Made-In Waiting. Idlewild’s next show – The Dastadly Ficus
- is premiering in the Shiva on March 28th. It is by an unpublished female playwright, Emily Schwartz, currently working in Chicago. Although after graduation, Gallagher will be joining the Teaching Corps Program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to gain experience in Museum Education, she noted that she aspires to still leave a foot in the world of drama. “I hope to continue writing in some capacity and remain involved with friends who are pursuing a career in theater,” she said. And when asked about how she will spend the money rewarded to her, she said pragmatically: “I plan on using my winnings toward living expenses in New York City.”
Met’s impressionist installation an eye-opening experience Zoe Dostal Columnist
hen I first saw the title of the Metropolitan Museum’s spring blockbuster show, “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” my initial thought was “Impressionism, schmessionism.” A movement once considered anti-establishment is now arguably the most wellknown, popular due to its pastel colors and abundance of flowers. My sometimes-snobby art history self is therefore disdainful of the great number of Impressionism shows designed to attract the masses. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by this exhibit’s inclusion of costumes from the Met’s Costume Institute, and decided to make the trek over Spring Break. And boy, am I glad I did. I can happily say that my initial reaction was totally off base. While indeed this show can please anyone with a pulse (as evidenced by eavesdropping on my fellow viewers), the thoroughness of the gallery labels and insightful curatorial work produced an exhibit rich in layers. You could find the dresses beautiful and the gardens enchanting, (as did the many small children breezing by with their parents), or by really focusing on each object and their grouping as a whole, it is possible to access a brief but true understanding of the age of Impressionism. The principles of changing fashion underpin the organization of the exhibit. Each gallery has one or two garments displayed on mannequins in the center of the room that exemplifies the fashion depicted in the paintings, (and sometimes is the exact dress itself.) There are also ladies’ magazines and advertisements that described the fashion trends, and in many direct cases parallels are drawn from the mass- produced adverts to the unique works of the artists. The first room serves as a slow introduction to ease you in the subject matter – a series of full-length portraits that shocked the bourgeoisie in pose and costume. For example, Édouard Manet’s “Young Lady in 1866” pictures his favorite model, Victorine Meruent, proudly posing in a dressing gown surrounded by attributes that allude to a male presence and her work as a
prostitute. While magnificent, this room is but a dulcet taste of what lies ahead. The second room is a study of the outdoors – garden parties, picnics, and naps on the grass. It is in this room that the sheer grandeur of the exhibit becomes apparent. Objects were acquired from the greatest collections of Europe (especially Paris) and the United States, and brought together they are overwhelming. It’s like the pages of every Impressionism textbook or children’s book come to life – and the extraordinary chance to see these images temporarily united is breathtaking. And they aren’t, as I originally pictured, the repetitive smaller landscapes or water lilies, but rather grand tableaus that are each individually worth their own exhibit.
“It’s like the pages of every Impressionism textbook or children’s book come to life.” Zoe DosTal’13 Claude Monet’s “Women in the Garden” and “Luncheon on the Grass,” both from 1866, are two such paintings. Borrowed from the Musée d’Orsay, they dominate the theme “En Plein Air,” and really capture the spirit of the age. Men and women enjoy the pleasures of modernity, which includes clean parks in which to gather and fritter away the hours. Their more gauche counterparts hang on the opposite wall. Gustave Courbet’s “Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine,” 1857, scandalized audiences with its depiction of two napping prostitutes enjoying the same freedoms as their bourgeoisie compatriots. The next two galleries are dedicated first to the trend of dressing entirely in white, and then dressing entirely in black (trends exclusive to women’s fashion, of course). The dresses displayed reach a new level of decadence, as designers seek to exploit the monochromatic palettes to their fullest using multiple materials,
extravagant detailing and fripperies. As one six year old so aptly put it to her younger brother, “Oh my goodness, LOOK at this dress! Do you KNOW what I would do if I had this dress?!?” The paintings reflect this material splendor, for example in Manet’s “The Parisienne,” 1875. His depiction of the model Ellen Andrée garbed entirely in black is, more than anything, a study in the richness of paint. His dashes and dabs bring to life a garment that dances with life, and she appears as a shimmering mirage that at any moment threatens to disappear. This encompasses one of the strongest sentiments of the age, as the speed of life introduced by modernity caused a new awareness of the fleeting and temporary nature of life. Dramatic color returned in the 1880s as a new silhouette emerged, the “Princess Dress.” Albert Bartholomé painted a portrait of his wife entitled “In the Conservatory” that exemplifies this new style. His wife, dressed in a striking dress of bold purple and white stripes and polka dots, is captured mid-stride entering the conservatory and exuding a welcoming personality. On the one hand, the viewer feels like a guest being welcomed to her home, and on the other it is easy to feel the intimacy between the artist and his subject. She died soon after this was painted, and Bartholomé preserved her dress, which is on display just in front of the painting, truly bringing the subject to life. Briefly the exhibit shifts focus to men’s fashions, which were largely unchanging and considered boring by critics of the age. Black coats and top hats were the standard garb, and although not as dynamic as the women’s dress, the paintings displayed are fascinating, such as Frédéric Bazille’s informal portrait of artist Auguste Renoir, his knees bent, feet drawn up on a chair, gazing into the distance in a pensive meditation. Just before the finale is a glimpse into consumerism and mass production that resulted from the opening of department stores such as Le Bon Marché and Printemps. Factory-made dresses, gloves and hats became available to the public, ruining the one-of-a-kind stores that excelled in quality and creativity. Many artists focused on these dying mom-and-pop
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shops, such as Degas who loved to paint the hat shops for their abundance of ribbons and lace. This room has examples of such hats, as well as gloves, shoes and corsets that, more than anything, demonstrate just how tiny the women were expected to be.
“The viewer feels like a guest being welcomed to her home.” Zoe DosTal ’13 Turning the corner, the grand finale is revealed: Spaces of Modern Life. Focus turns to the opera houses, circus, balls and even the street. The showstopper is Gustave Caillebotte’s iconic “Paris Street; Rainy Day” from 1877. The newly opened boulevards of Paris swarm with strolling Parisians, all dressed in black with umbrellas, presumably on a quest to buy more goods. But the austerity of this piece is sharply contrasted with the surrounding images of sumptuous ball gowns and elaborate gatherings. On display are the finest fashion specimens yet, and the glamour of La Belle Époque is in full swing. It is on this high note that one then exits through the gift shop, tempted by overpriced lace gloves and hand mirrors, and reemerges into the world created by these first modernist revolutions of mass consumerism and uniformity. This exhibit was awe-inspiring and an all around pleasurable experience. If nothing else, it set a very high bar, nearly impassable, for Impressionism exhibits in the future. Coincidentally, André Dombrowski, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on 19th century French painting, is visiting campus this week. For an even deeper look into Impressionism, attend his lecture “Reaction Time and the Origins of Impressionsim” tonight, Thursday March 28 at 6pm in Taylor Hall 203.
March 28, 2013
VHP’s annual Haitian art sale supports redevelopment Charlacia Dent RepoRteR
courtesy of the Vassar Haiti Project
hile at the same time furthering its humanitarian efforts, the Vassar Haiti Project is celebrating Haitian Art through an exhibition and auction, which will kickstart in two weeks, running from April 5th-7th. For 12 years, under the leadership of Lila and Andrew Meade, the project’s extensive outreach has serviced impoverished villages in Haiti through the resale of local Haitian art and on the ground through mission trips. Since its founding, the project has grown at an astonishing rate. For instance, the project fundraised for the construction and implementation of an elementary school and free lunch program. This year’s sale will mark 12 years of the project’s diligence and service to a country plagued by social turmoil and natural disaster, but it also marks the personal growth and individual journeys of the people deeply invested and dedicated to the project’s mission. “It’s really made me see what’s important about being a human,” Tamsin Chen ’15, co-director of the project’s education initiative spoke. The Vassar Haiti Project is both a VSA sponsored and non-profit organization with roots that precede the 12 years it has been in operation. Co-founder Andrew Meade spent some time growing up in Haiti, and graduated from high school in Port-au-Prince in 1977. His wife and co-founder of the organization, Lila Meade, also grew up under Haitian influence. Lila’s mother was raised in Haiti during the ’20s and Creole was spoken within the home. “When we found out that we had Haiti in our shared roots, we knew we had to do something. We just had to figure out exactly what that was going to be,” Andrew Meadesaid. Soon he worked up the courage to approach
Director of International Services and co-Chair of VHP Andrew Meade poses for a photo with his wife Lila Meade (middle) and a guest (right) of the VHP art sale. Proceeds support Haitian development. his then boss about an initiative that would buy Haitian art, sell it in the Hudson Valley, and return the proceeds to Haiti. Shortly after, the Vassar Haiti project was on its feet, buying art to help fund various initiatives in need of resources and taking Vassar students into the field to experience Haitian life in a way that would inspire better solutions to Haiti’s problems. The experience has changed lives in both Haiti and Poughkeepsie, and the project has evolved into an effective system of observation, partnership, and open discussion. On a recent mission trip to Haiti, the project decided to form a focus group specifically for
women. “Last year we were talking amongst ourselves, and noticed that in our previous visits we talked to only village leaders and teachers who were all male. We wondered what the women’s perspective was on all of this and that’s when we decided to hold the focus group. We went around the room and the women shared the stories of their lives,” Chen explained. After hearing many painful and disheartening stories from the women, the idea for a co-operative that could possibly improve their economic status went into the works. “The women have asked really powerfully to get marketable skills. They want to do
PHOCUS encourages new artistic dialogue, outlooks PHOCUS continued from page 1
and white is very different from an apple in color.” “I used to love color photos because the palette itself carries some information and emotion[s] that are not expressed in the subjects of the photos,” Sun wrote. After taking a photography class on black and white film last semester, however, she discovered a love for the subtle tones of black and white photographs. “Black and white photos always bring me so many delicate shades and details which I am often too distracted by the colors to see,” she elaborated. “The reason…I love black and white now is that I can concentrate more on the details of subjects and the relationship between pure forms in the monochrome photos.” Rose touched upon the duality of the editors’ roles. “Our position is an interesting one, acting as both advocates and critics,” she said. “As advocates, we encourage all students to engage with photography regularly (the Weekly Photo Assignments help to do this). Any photographic level is encouraged to submit to FIX. But at the same time, acting as critics and curators, PHOCUS wants to publish in FIX exemplars of the quality of photographs that we believe all students are capable of.” Sun elaborated on the role of FIX in providing budding photographers a venue for their work. “FIX is an inclusive platform for student photographers to display and promote their works,” explained Sun. Rose wrote in an emailed statement: “FIX aims to bring out different visual and thematic parallels and tensions, and acts as a catalyst for creativity on campus.” PHOCUS encourages communication among photographers. Though Rose wrote in an emailed statement that she sees photography as very perseonal, she maintained that she enjoys collaboration with other photographers. “Everyone sees the world differently,” she explained, “and photography can be a brilliant manifestation of this diversity, if done honestly.” Rose explained that PHOCUS does not simply see themselves as group photographers, but
rather a forum to precipitate dialogue about a different artistic perspective. “We see ourselves more as a platform to engage the entire campus and community in a certain type of visual thinking. There’s no denying that social media has elevated the status of the social snapshot, often at the expense of the craft of photography.” Sun explained that PHOCUS works well as an organization because of its effectiveness at bringing its members together. Its collaborative structure means that its executive board members, who apply for their positions at the end of the school year, have equal say when making group decisions. “Even though each of us has [a] different responsibility in the organization,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “This horizontal structure enables us to bring our passion and imagination all together for PHOCUS.” Sun maintained that being able to view the world from another perspective is important for a photographer. “The perception of the world may be distorted and transformed in the process of taking photos,” she wrote in an emailed statement, “so a photographer can gradually learn from his works that there [are] alternative ways to look at the reality.” Each photographer has a distinct specialty, she explained, and there is no one rule that dominates the art of photography. Rose maintained a firm point of view on the current condition of this art. “The status of photography is in a crisis. Photography has been degraded to the crevice between snapshot and documentary,” she declared in an emailed statement. “If I could encourage one single aspect of photography, it would be that of the activity of photography. Intentional photography,” she furthered. Rose explained that PHOCUS as a group aims to celebrate the importance of the photographer as an artistic contributor. “The camera is an extension of the eye which is the window to the soul. It is an art, which is perception translated through personal style into expression,” she said. Through publications like FIX, PHOCUS encourages this expression.
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more for their individual families and for their home, we’ve been working with an extremely poor village. Many of the families are farmers and have no income. The women are fired and ready to go,” Andrew Meade explained. As of now, the goal has been to find out what skills would best sustain the Haitian women given their location and the resources they already have. It is also important that the solution is not seasonally dependent and that they can support themselves throughout the entire year. Through research and conversation, the project has discovered a few possible leads. One idea is that the women can use natural resources to make products like bar soap and shampoo that can be sold either locally or abroad. Other ideas have circulated and some funds are already in place to get things started. It is only a matter of time before the co-operative will be up and running. “We just keep asking questions and getting clarity until we can go and make things happen,” Andrew Meade explained. When Chen was just a freshman seeking extracurricular activities to get involved with at Vassar, she probably never guessed she would help a country build schools, a clinic, and a group of women support themselves and create a better future for their families. Similarly, the Meades could not have guessed that their early exposure to Haiti would lead to a life-long project that would grow so much at Vassar. “Haiti just made a profound impact on all of us. There’s a magic about the place. People just let you in immediately, all the way, in a away that I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world. There’s something about the people, the joy, the resilience, that’s in the average everyday Haitian. It’s amazing in the face of all the stuff you read about and see,” Andrew said.
March 28, 2013
Brooklyn native Plotz a piano maestro from an early age Lily Sloss
John Plotz ’13 received his first piano at the age of five. Ever since then, he has been drawn to the instrument, practicing and perfecting his skills as an artist. He will deliver his senior recital on March 30.
Hours: Tues. –Wed., 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Adriance Memorial Library
Through March 31 93 Market St., Poughkeepsie, NY Music enthusiasts can check out album art, posters, and sheet music from an array of American genres. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 2-5 p.m. Mill Street Loft
Through April 13 45 Pershing Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY View photography by high school students from the area. Rhinebeck Bank
Through April 12 6414 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck, NY Stop by Rhinebeck Bank to view paintings by Andrew Lynch. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m
year, the Conservatory attached to the school was nearly 45 minutes away from the part of main campus where he was staying. Since the Conservatory was such a hike, John was forced to find a piano to practice on closer by in addition to attending lessons and classes. Although the commute was nearly an hour and a half, John still committed to practicing. The silver lining of the experience was that his willingness to spend so much time in transit for his craft made him realize just how important the piano is to him. Through moments of lackluster motivation, centered primarily in 8th grade, Plotz never seriously considered quitting. He explained this inability, saying, “I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I couldn’t not play piano because it was the only thing I was good at.” For Plotz, music provided the perfect venue. As he says, “even people who don’t do music, like music. Who doesn’t like using their ears?” To round out his final semester at Vassar, Plotz will be performing his senior recital on March 30th. The variety of pieces connect to different areas of his Vassar curriculum. For example, two compositions created by Liszt and Ravel were inspired by Plotz’s experience in the Art History department. The pieces, entitled Jeux d’Eau, aurally replicate the feeling of water effects made by Italian fountains. Plotz will also be playing a duet with Jane Cardona ’15. As a Music major, Plotz often feels as though he’s cheating, because: “I enjoy my Major too much.” However, his future remains unclear. While considering going abroad, working in music business management, or possibly a recording studio, what he recognizes he needs most is time to figure out his professional future. Regardless, he does feel certain about one thing. He will never stop playing the piano. He explained his connection to the piano as such: “I know I need to play the piano like I know I need to sleep at night. I don’t know why but I know that I need to.”
Oz’ overdependence on 1939 source, lack of creativity make for a forgettable experience Oz the Great and Powerful Sam Raimi Roth Films
Mid-Hudson Heritage Center
Through April 26 317 Main St., Poughkeepsie, NY For landscape lovers, check out “Address Earth” at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center, which features pieces depicting the Hudson Valley and the Earth.
passion in particular has recently captured his affections. As a reporter for The Miscellany News, he has really enjoyed devoting more of his time to writing. During some of his Composition classes at Vassar, taken with David Means and Michael Joyce, among others, he has come to take on a unique style. “I am interested in the way in which people coming from two different parts of life can interact, can connect on one level and not another- two people both inhabiting space but in very different ways,” Plotz said about his writing. His creative impulses are not contained solely by the music he produces, but also flow freely in his writing. Despite a great deal of success, Plotz’s musical career has not been without its obstacles. While studying abroad in Sydney his Junior
Jiajing Sun/The Miscellany News
The parents of John Plotz ’13 owned a piece of furniture that they imagined would remain forever untouched: a piano. Luckily for them, and Vassar, five year-old Plotz found himself subconsciously drawn to the piano. He began to play nonstop, and begged his parents for lessons for over a year. Finally they gave in, and the future Vassar Music major found his calling. Although he was unable to articulate the internal reasoning behind his attraction to the piano, Plotz can rationally lay out its benefits. As he explained, “the piano’s versatility allows me to create both my own harmony and melody, to play a full orchestra reduction, and to produce a wide variety of sounds.” This flexibility has given John opportunities to perform as a soloist, musical director, and accompanist. Plotz came to Vassar for the beautiful campus, liberal arts course load, and, most importantly, the third largest Steinway collection of pianos. Initially adamant that he would not be a Music major, by October of his freshmen year, he knew he could not deny his destiny any longer. He would be a Music Major. Philaletheis approached him early in his first year at Vassar, and Plotz agreed to work on a project with them. Over the next three weeks, he experienced a world of music far different from the classical training he had previously received. Accompanying and musically directing, he learned and lead much of the show for the next three weeks, working with a group of talented artists, teaching singers, and quickly picking up the music. The experience was a positive one, and spurred Plotz’s involvement in the theater department at Vassar. He has worked mainly with the Future Waitstaff of America on productions such as “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and, more recently, “Spring Awakening.” It was the latter experience he claims has been his favorite thus far
at Vassar. It was during this project, working as a musical director with an exceptionally talented and committed crew, that he realized how lucky he was. Reflecting on his time with “Spring Awakening,” Plotz explained: “I realized what an honor it is to be able to do this kind of thing, to shape a musical production with people who all care so much.” Besides working with a group that constantly inspired him to perform to his utmost, he learned a great deal about the technical aspects involved in a musical production. As for working in the Shiva, John explained, “it’s different from working in any other space because of the high level of respect performing in a student run space demands, as well as the strict guidelines in place.” Plotz is heavily involved on campus, but one
don’t envy the the makers of Oz the Great and Powerful. They were tasked with creating a modern film that would inevitably be compared to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, an undisputed classic. It is an almost impossible task, and the only possible solution seems to be to take a radically different approach, for this new film to make the material its own. Unfortunately, Oz the Great and Powerful fails in that respect, and only offers a rote story whose only pleasures lie in reminding the audience of the much stronger film with “Oz” in the title. There are a few isolated moments that hint at what could have been, but for the most part the new film is just boring. Oz the Great and Powerful acts as a prequel to the original Wizard of Oz, telling the story of how the Wizard first comes into power in the land of Oz. James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a struggling magician in our world who finds himself embraced by the people of Oz as the man to save their kingdom. Along the way, he encounters every memorable character from the original film. The witches, the munchkins, the flying monkeys, and many other old friends appear, leading to a movie that is overstuffed with references. Franco gives a serviceable performance, but the script never gives the character any depth. Diggs begins the movie as completely unlikeable, and while the film ends with him as the hero, it never takes the time to examine that shift in character. Perhaps an example will better illustrate the film’s problems. The story begins with Diggs in the real world, and director Sam Raimi shoots those scenes in black and white, only transition-
ing to color once Diggs first finds himself in Oz. This is the first of many instances in the film when Raimi swipes an element from the original Wizard of Oz, but does so without any strong reason. It’s an obvious choice, and Raimi’s addition to the stylistic choice is to shoot the pre-Oz scenes in fullscreen, and then transition to widescreen for the rest of the film. That change in screen size, however, adds nothing to the movie. The switch from black and white to color serves to emphasize the wonder of Oz, both in this film and in the original, but the addition of a change in screen ratio is just distracting.
“Old friends appear, leading to a movie that is over-stuffed with references.” maX rooK ’14 The entire film is hamstrung by its devotion to its source material. The plot moves along more out of a desire to touch on anything people could be nostalgic for from the original film than because of any internal logic. For example, the film has two major villains, because it needs to set up the two wicked witches for the events of the original movie, and as a result neither villain feels fully developed. Rachel Weisz’ Evanora is laughably one-note, and the role never gives her the opportunity to do anything other than be vaguely evil. The script attempts to make Mila Kunis’ Theodora more complex, but the character arc she is given is silly, and Kunis struggles to add anything to the role. The film’s problems extend beyond script issues, as well. Oz is supposed to be a magical place, and while the original film was a quintessential example of Hollywood making the im-
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possible seem real, the new film never establishes a distinct visual style. Raimi makes extensive use of CGI to create the backdrops of his scenes, and many of those locations are indistinguishable from the settings of other recent CGI-filled blockbusters like 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. Despite the film’s high budget, the special effects are noticeably inconsistent, particularly in scenes in which CGI characters interact with human actors. The special effects hold up better during the faster action scenes, but those action scenes have their own set of problems. Given Raimi’s experience directing the Spider-Man trilogy, you would expect the action to at least be competent, but they are some of the dullest moments in the film. Oz is not entirely without merit. Michelle Williams appears about an hour into the running time as Glinda the good witch, and gives the only performance that offers any complexity. Glinda is an unambiguously good character, as her name suggests, but she is forced to compromise her definition of good when she turns to Oscar Diggs to be Oz’s savior, or at least to appear to be one. For a period in the middle of the film, it appears as if there might actually be an interesting story to tell as Diggs begins to question whether it matters if he is actually the Wizard or if people simply believe he is. However, the film quickly loses sight of that thread in favor of a boilerplate action movie finale. Ultimately, the film’s problems can all be traced back to a lack of imagination. Even ignoring its connection to the original film, Oz the Great and Powerful is simply a predictable film. It barely differentiates itself from the glut of family-friendly blockbusters that have been released in the last few years. In its every other incarnation, from the original books to more modern interpretations liked Wicked, Oz has been a setting that allows creative ideas to flourish. This new film instead feels like a ploy designed by a committee of executives to cash in on nostalgia.
March 28, 2013
Mirman’s recent special continues his Excuse me, trend of established comedic quirks An Evening of Comedy Eugene Mirman Comedy Central Rec.
Steven Williams aRts editoR
f you’ve never been exposed to the comedy of Eugene Mirman, hearing it for the first time may, quite frankly, seem a little strange. But if you’ve been tuned in to his comedic career part of the vaguely defined alternative-comedy movement or as an actor in cult shows like Delocated and Bob’s Burgers, his new new album An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory will seem an extension of his signature quirky persona, undoubtedly a good thing. Mirman’s album does not break any new ground for his own style of comedy, but it is so intrinsically unique by nature you get the sense that no other comedian could do his material. Mirman is a special, endearing kind of awkward, which makes it so that his audience can relate to him on one hand, while pondering his strangeness on the other. It seems that Mirman is comfortable in his niche, which is fine because what he’s doing is far enough removed stylistically from most other comedians that it doesn’t become trite. The bulk of Mirman’s comedy is comprised of him recounting stories from his life, a pretty average starting point as far as comedy goes. Generally, these stories tend to be fairly mundane situations that he makes absurd through his tendency to experiment with social conventions, such as testing the limits of an environmental activist or purchasing full-page ads in newspapers to condemn the incompetence of Time Warner Cable. One change in Mirman’s style, however, is that he now tends to tease out his jokes more than he did in earlier albums such as his 2006 release En Garde, Society. Whereas previously he leaned more toward rapid fire joke-telling, he now spends more time riffing on a single topic, or describing elaborate situations. However, his comedy never feels
slow, and this style plays to his ability to interact with the crowd. For other comedians, one might assume that these stories were contrived for the sake of comedy, but with Mirman it becomes clear for the uninitiated that he is just weird enough for these tales to be real. At one point, he examines the absurdity of Facebook and what controls the ads that we see. Most comedians would be content just doing a bit of speculating about the topic. Simple enough. But Mirman likes to go a step further and decides to take out his own facebook ads. Random messages targeted to men, aged 5255 who like contra dancing and live in Saudi Arabia? Why not?
“One change in Mirman’s style is that he now tends to tease out his jokes.” sTeVen Williams ’15 In other bits, Mirman continues to take full advantage of the oddities of the internet. He explores a social network for Tea Party members, and the inanity of their slogans, coming up with his own. Given the nature of these slogans, he has no shortage of material, creating taglines that are realistically, not much more extreme than the original material (but still very politically biting). One defining aspect of Mirman’s comedy which this album highlights is his understated intelligence. Mirman is clearly articulate, and subtle obscure academic references make him all the more appealing to someone looking for smart humor. A good example is when he recounts an acting job in which he was instructed to dress as someone from the 1920s. The outfit he decided on was simply a normal suit with a sign that reads “Irish need not apply.” Nothing like a little historical humor commenting on early 20th century racism.
What makes Mirman even more unique is how he manages to combine traditional stand-up storytelling with interesting experimental segments that other comics might not try, not because they would be uncomfortable doing so, but simply because it didn’t occur to them. Later in the show, Mirman utilizes a fairly simple concept for the sake of comedy, questions seeking advice from the audience. However, there are absolutely no guidelines for the questions, and he is seeing them for the first time. In this segment, Mirman shows off his improvisational skills and his weird personality shines through. The bit also produces one his more obscure intellectual references, this time showing off with a philosophical allusion. “Did you not study Schopenhauer?” he says in response to one of the questions. Realizing the obscurity of the statement, he facetiously remarks, “Yeah, that’ll be on TV.” Mirman even works in parts of the his special stage in his set, which as the title of the album implies, is a “fake underground laboratory.” On the set are various satirical items that Mirman has created. This includes a book where he writes down what he thinks would be good books to sell at an Urban Outfitters including How to Make a Dress out of Ramen Noodles and Post-Racism and, my favorite, 400 Pictures of Sad Teenagers. He also parodies “medicine” that he found a health food store that claims to act as social aid. One of Mirman’s notable creations is one that “let’s you take back trying to kiss your good friend who doesn’t like you back” to which he adds “This is going to make a lot of money with 17 year olds.” One of Mirman’s final bits just about sums up the sort of comedy that this album offers. Some musicians experiment with the use of musical instruments in their sets, like Zach Galifianakis on piano or Demetri Martin on guitar. But this is Eugene Mirman, and he doesn’t play by any sort of convention: he tells jokes with a theremin. Yes, a theremin. But given the sheer absurdity of Mirman’s comedy career, it’s honestly not that suprising.
A weekly space highlighting the creative pursuits of student-artists
If you were a character from a literary classic, who would you be?
“The hungry caterpillar.” —Bryan Rachmilowitz ‘14
“Harry Potter” —Gavin Jennings ‘16
“Daisy from The Great Gatsby.” —Christine Torres ‘15
submit to email@example.com
“Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” —Casey Zuckerman ‘15
his painting was done as a gift for my aunt. When I was in 6th grade, after learning how to use watercolors for the first time, I painted her a series of landscapes, each done in the scheme of a color of rainbow. Fortunately for my teen ego, she graciously hung them in her house, but has been asking me for an “updated” set for a few years now. During an unusual period of free time, I was playing with ink, a favorite medium of mine, and remembered her request. Trying to balance what I wanted to do creatively, while being mindful of what she would find beautiful was challenging, especially when, at the end of the day, she would “love” whatever I gave her, as family often does. Straying away from the rainbow palette, this was one of four ink paintings I made. I was honored by how much she loved them. I found that it is both a humbling and inspiring experience to create art for someone whom you love and who loves you and one that I would recommend to everyone. —Sidra Tareen ’13
“Sherlock Holmes.” —Jake Sheehy ‘15
“Pi from Life of Pi”
—Divya Pathak ‘15
Steven Williams, Arts Editor Jack Owen, Arts Editor Katie de Heras, Photo Editor MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
March 28, 2013
Spring break wins propel tennis team to top rankings Amreen Bhasin RepoRteR
courtesy of Vassar Athletics
hile taking a break from the snowy and long-lasting winter, the Vassar women’s tennis team began their spring season with crucial wins. Out of over 300 Division III colleges, Vassar has remained in the top 20, as published in the most recent ITA rankings. The Brewers currently stand in 20th place according the poll, a one place drop from where they last stood. Despite this slight drop, they remain 7th regionally compared to the 110 teams in the northeast. The team has seen great success since the fall, currently holding a 5-2 record after their most recent Spring Break trip to California, where they faced five other collegiate teams. The team’s three wins were decisive, with the first coming against Occidental College on March 10, with a score of 9-0. Senior Captain Natalie Santiago won two sets, 6-0 and 6-1, giving up only one game to her opponent. In the No. 3 doubles spot, junior Lindsay Kantor and freshman Kelsey Van Noy swept their opponents. The team then lost 0-9 to the #8 nationally ranked Bowdoin College despite a stellar performance from Van Noy who almost won the second set of her match. The team then had their first loss of the 2013 season to #10 nationally ranked Pomona-Pitzer College, with a score of 3-6. Both Sophomores Ava Sadeghi and Samantha Schapiro at the Number 1 and 2 spots in singles and in doubles as well. Sadeghi recalls this as a particularly tough match that stood out in her mind in the season thus far. “It was a tight 3 set match against a friend. It is always hard to play a friend and I had to just put that aside and play my game.” Several days later the Brewers went on to defeat Caltech and University of La Verne, both
Lindsay Kantor ‘14 executes a powerful forhand for the Vassar women’s tennis team. After a victorious trip to California over Spring Break, the team hopes thie momentum will lead to Liberty League play. 8-1. Sadeghi won her singles matches both days, and took two doubles wins in the number one spot with teammate Schapiro. Freshman Winifred Yeates defeated her Caltech opponent in a perfect match, winning in two sets, 6-0, 6-0. La Verne in particular was a strong win for the team. Sadeghi was incredibly proud of the resolve her team displayed. “Almost all the matches were tight three set matches and we pulled all of them out.” This year’s team is young, with only one senior, Captain Natalie Santiago as well as only one Junior Lindsay Kantor. But despite the youth, the Brewer’s have proven themselves a
force to be reckoned with already. Head Coach Kathy Campbell has been pleased with their performance so far especially during their spring trip. “This young team found out more about their strong character and competitive abilities. It was inspiring to see them respond in such a mature manner.” Sadeghi agrees with her head coach’s feelings on the strengths of her young team. “I thought our team played really well especially against the high ranked, tougher teams. Our team played with a lot of maturity and poise despite our youth. [We’ve] performed very well and there is fight and motivation in every player. Our team has really stepped it up in
tight matches. I individually have also used the motivation and energy of the other players to motivate myself and step up my game in tight matches.” Several freshman have also been key performers so far this season. All three freshman in top spots have had significant playing time and have helped the Brewers serve out wins. Freshman Lauren Stauffer along with fellow freshman Winifred Yeates defeated opponents Catherine Anderson and Lucy Malloch in the Number 2 doubles spot at Occidental College. Stauffer also picked up a singles win against Malloch at the Number 4 spot. The third freshman on the team, Kelsey Van Noy, had an almost perfect win against Caltech’s Michelle Lee where she went 6-1, 6-2. Sadeghi also won 6-1, 6-2 against Caltech’s Monica Li during that same match. Having such a young team is not necessarily a bad thing, according to Sadeghi who sees it as a positive.“The team is very young and new, which leaves a lot of room for growth. It will allow people to bond more and hopefully we will become stronger mentally and physically as a team. Last year’s team had a highly successful run at Nationals; however, they’re ready to repeat it and go even further. This year’s team hopes to continue improving more and more according to Sadeghi and build on their past success. “[Our} goals are just to continue improving and to get further at nationals then we did last year.” The Brewers will be continuing play at home this upcoming Saturday March 30 at 12 PM. They hope to continue their winning streak as they enter into Liberty League play against Skidmore College. With this year’s mix of talent, determination, and strong youth the Brewers continue to have high hopes and lofty goals for the remainder of their season.
Small men’s lacrosse roster necessitates creative plays LAX continued from page 1
in saves per game with 15.12, and his margin ahead of 2nd is much larger than that between 2nd and 3rd. Sophomore standout Scott Brekne thinks highly of his influence, even beyond statistics, saying, “Our goaltender and captain, Andrew Nicol, is the heart and soul of our team. He is a workhorse who would never be found taking a play off. He keeps us in every game and is a passionate player.” The influx of new players has been a challenge in formulating a quick, crisply responsive defense as all the players must become used to playing alongside each other and moving on a string. As the opponent circles the goal and drives, the Vassar defense tries, shares Nicol, “to play inside out, limiting shots from the crease and allowing for more outside shots. We are tough to beat when we communicate and move as one unit. The defense has been working hard and the improvement is evident.” The Vassar offense has matched its counterparts in accuracy, with both shooting 65% of its shots on goal. However, the Vassar offense is lacking in pure volume of shots taken. This problem is two-fold, according to Nicol, and a manifestation of roster construction. “Having a small roster, we try to possess the ball more to give our middies some rest. We don’t have a lot of subs so we look to possess the ball, resulting in slightly less shots,” said Nicol. Additionally, the Brewers need to improve upon their passing, for they currently have the most turnovers per game in the Liberty League. The raw nature of the team’s composition is also demonstrated by their place at bottom ranking in penalties committed. The bright side is that these issues are eminently fixable, and that with guidance from the coaching staff combined with the strong collective work ethic of the players means that the team will make dramatic strides and have a chance to compete in the Liberty League this year. Key to Vassar’s success is freshman attacker Noah Parson. The North Carolina native leads the team in goals with 20 and the Lib-
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erty League in goals per game (2.5), has 8 assists (tied for 2nd on the team), and 69% of his shots are on goal while leading the team in shots, putting a persistent pressure on the opposing defense. Joining him on the attack is midfielder Max Hermann ’14, who has started every game, providing a physical presence with his 6’3 frame, is 3rd on the team in goals (10) and 2nd in assists (8). Sophomore Sean Brazier has been a strong contributor as well, playing in all games this season and scoring 10 goals with 6 assists as an attacker off the bench. Any conversation about Vassar lacrosse for the next few years, however, must include sophomore midfielder Scott Brekne. As Vassar’s faceoff entrant he has won 95 out of 173 battles, leads the team and the Liberty League in ground balls scooped up per game with 9.25, is shooting a blistering 46% with 12 goals and 6 assists on the season. As Nicol put it quite simply, “He does it all.” The most recent games have been tough losses for the Brewers, but reflect the variety of talents of the team. Against Utica junior attacker Max Herman brought Vassar close to a tie at 13:34, but their opponents responded with several quick goals. Parson’s two goals and Nicol’s 17 saves were not enough to combat Utica’s offense. The Brewers later had a close game against RPI. Though Vassar made the most of four penalties against their opponents, they ultimately lost 10-5. The team wins and loses as a unit, and the collective motto this year is “Together with Toughnes.” This motto is crucial to the identity of this roster, limited as it is in numbers and experience, and is represented in the fundamental philosophies set in place by Head Coach Marc Graham and Assistant Coach Casey Martin. The elements are all in place for tremendous improvement as the season progresses. And having a young team is not all bad, as, according to Brekne, “The best part of the young team is that no one is seen by their class year. We are all equal and have equivalent roles on the team, we all need to step up in our own way to help our team to victory.”
March 28, 2013
An underdog on the court, Florida team Woods putts destroys brackets but gains new fanbase in shadow of debauchery E Zach Rippe Columnist
very year, the madness brought on in March by the NCAA Men’s Division I College Basketball Championship causes a certain amount of heartbreak. Whether you are the star shooting guard on that number one seed that just suffered an upset or you just bet half of your savings on that number one seed, you are going to have a reason to be sad. But with every tear of sadness shed due to these tremendous upsets, there is a glimmer of hope and cries of victory from the little guy, the underdog, the dark horse. In previous years it’s been the likes of George Mason and Virginia Commenwealth University that captured the hearts of the nation. This tournament, however, has something even more special. This year, there is Florida Gulf Coast University. The fifteenth-seeded Eagles stunned second-seeded Georgetown in the opening round of the tournament and proceeded to bust many peoples’ brackets. FGCU then pounced all over San Diego State to advance to the Sweet 16. Although both twelfth-seeded Oregon and thirteenth-seeded La Salle have also advanced, at 15, FGCU is the lowest seeded team ever to make it this far in the NCAA tournament. And by watching their demeanor and style of play, one can see that they are not done yet. There is something extremely dangerous about playing a “Cinderella story” in the NCAA tournament. They have absolutely nothing to lose. On reddit, there are numerous posts mocking the obscurity of the school itself. One post demonstrated that even Siri had not heard of Florida Gulf Coast University while a comment by a student there showed the excitement shared by the formerly unknown and irrelevant FGCU community.
While the Internet community can mock the school itself, no one can mock the play of this Eagles team. Not only are they winning convincingly, they are doing so with style. Countless alley-oop after alley-oop has been thrown and connected upon, shocking both the crowd and the announcers. The players exhibit a certain flair and conviction that seems to be unmatched by their more prestigious and well-recognized opponents. They are loose and they want to have fun, unlike some of the other teams who may feel pressured to live up to their schools’ and their fans’ expectations. The Eagles held a 26-10 record throughout the regular season, losing big to both Duke and VCU. They also lost fairly convincingly against a few other no-name schools. They did, however, win the Atlantic Sun Tournament, defeating number one seeded Mercer in the championship game. With a decent record and a recent string of huge wins, is it safe to say that FGCU is simply hotter than they are good? The answer to this question lies in both the style of play that the Eagles have presented, as well as the lack of defense and intensity held by their opponents. Tremendous credit should go to FGCU for pulling off such an upset against the Hoyas. Should San Diego State have been more prepared or was FGCU simply the better team? Regardless, the pressure is now obviously on the Florida Gators. The FGCU Eagles now have a tremendous target on their backs. And with every win, their targets will only grow. No one wants to play against the team with which the county has fallen in love. For the rest of this year’s tournament, whichever team the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles will automatically be the villain. That is both unnerving and frustrating to the rest of the teams
in this year’s tournament as they attempt to gather themselves. Will FGCU be cutting down the nets? Probably not. For all I know they will get hammered against Florida in a battle for state supremacy, I guess. Luckily this game is not until March 29th, which is the day after this paper comes out.
“No one wants to play against a team with which the country has fallen in love.” Zach Rippe ’16 Fame can do strange things to people, places, and institutions. For instance, an article just appeared suggesting that UCLA should go after FGCU coach Andy Enfeld. If the Eagles had lost to Georgetown in the first round as expected, the author of that article would most probably question who Andy Enfeld was, let alone suggest him as a future coach for a well renowned college basketball powerhouse. The players themselves seem to be loving the attention as they are often found dancing and celebrating after each victory. And why not? They have nothing to lose. Their reputations are not at stake. The world is watching, but will not think any less of them if they lose next game. Their coach is cool too, making jokes about getting a diet soda during a press conference and simply stating that if the Eagles “play well [they] will win”. Quite frankly, no one can say it any better.
March Madness’ student-athletes provide refreshing alternative to mainstream NBA Luka Ladan Columnist
don’t understand people who refuse to watch college basketball during this time of the year, especially when they direct their attention to the National Basketball Association (NBA) as some sort of superior substitute. March Madness deserves all of the attention that it garners—and takes away from professional athletics—if for nothing more than the relatability factor. Understandably, many Americans are obsessed with the daily movements of glitzy celebrities, drawn hopelessly by the wealth, publicity, and frenetic lifestyles that separate society’s most famous people from the dull and dreary mainstream. Professional sports are no exception, as some of the most eccentric personalities shoot basketballs and catch footballs for a living (see: Metta World Peace and Rob Gronkowski.) Watching the NBA provides certain celebrity-obsessed members of the population with the ample opportunity to watch athletically gifted multimillionaires doing something fun—something that they can’t possibly do, but resign themselves to vicarious living. They tune in to see LeBron James dominate his competition, in part because he is LeBron James and nobody does it quite like him. The NBA represents such a hot commodity nowadays for many reasons, but the names and the brands and the larger-than-life figures are certainly part of the equation. However, when there’s college basketball out there for the watching in early spring, I couldn’t care less about that stuff. I cannnot relate to it, for starters. What do I know about LeBron James locking up another big-name sponsor and crushing the Charlotte Bobcats with what seems to be thirty dunks in transition? His feats on the basketball court—and in the moneymaking world–are indisputably impressive, but a fan like me can never really comprehend what he’s doing on a regular basis on the court.
I can watch and appreciate, but never truly grasp. LeBron resides on an entirely different planet that only he fully knows, in terms of off-the-charts athletic ability, domination of a cutthroat professional league, and sheer versatility of skill. March Madness, on the other hand, resonates with me like no other competition involving basketball. The student-athletes still playing in March give full effort on each and every possession, which is a joy to watch and surprisingly unique. Most of the college players are playing some of their last meaningful games because only a very select few will be given the chance to pursue a professional career–and an even more elite group will make it to the NBA. For most of the field, the time to shine is now–not three years from now or a decade down the line. The NCAA Tournament showcases the very best amateur basketball players playing to survive and advance (to take the name of ESPN’s newest 30 for 30 film), and it’s beautiful because you’re watching maximum effort being put forth the whole time. The same cannot be said of the NBA in late March. As NBA teams either prep themselves for deep postseason runs or set their sights to the Draft, this isn’t the time to shine. It’s the time to coast. From late March to early April, the world’s premier basketball league resembles a steady marathon of assigning DNPs (Did Not Play) to key assets and postponing peak performance until Tax Day-the mantra isn’t “win now,” but “make sure that we win at the best possible time.” Knowing this regrettable fact of life, I can’t make the decision to watch a marathon when everybody not named Miami isn’t overly concerned with winning in the short run. Joakim Noah misses two games here. Kevin Garnett misses three games there. Dwyane Wade rests up a little bit because his team doesn’t really need him right now. When there’s a frantic sprint taking place on another channel, why would I watch a steady marathon?
March Madness isn’t given its iconic name for no reason. Basketball fans everywhere are exposed to nonstop hustle, nonstop passion, and nonstop shot-making down the stretch of nerve-racking games. Nonstop effort. Chaotic play. Shocking upsets. (Now’s the time to look up Florida Gulf Coast University’s beautiful campus.) I compare the NCAA Tournament to an adrenaline rush spread out over a few weeks in spring. And it stems from the student-athletes’ willingness to compete from start to finish, no matter the opponent. Can you say the same about Kobe Bryant’s defensive effort against the lowly Washington Wizards on March 22? When he decides to save himself in one aspect of the game to boost his production in another—against a dysfunctional team playing for nothing at the moment—my viewership tends to falter. I’m not excited to watch an elite NBA talent who doesn’t give it his all when I can watch an elite amateur talent who leaves it all out on the floor because his future isn’t guaranteed. There’s nothing like seeing a student-athlete play like there’s no tomorrow, which is what March Madness can offer for those who watch. The phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” actually applies to college basketball in spring’s earliest days, not just some shallow rhetoric used by the multimillionaire egos scattered around the NBA. And those who argue that NBA players try just as hard as the college athletes that you see on television these days just haven’t been paying too much attention. Look no further than Kobe’s effort on defense or the abundance of random DNPs that ruin many a fantasy basketball season (yes, I’m speaking from experience here.) In the meantime, I can’t wait until Thursday night’s slate of games. And I’m not talking about the Sacramento Kings playing the Phoenix Suns. It’s almost time for some more March Madness, and I pity anyone who won’t be watching.
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Eli J. Vargas I. Columnist
adies and gentlemen, there is a new number one ranked golfer, and he is a household name! No, it is not Arnold Palmer! He retired over five years ago, and plus isn’t he some sort of lemonade concoction nowadays? It is Tiger Woods of course, America’s not so favorite playboy golfer. Tiger Woods has won six out of his last twenty starts on the PGA Tour and has returned to the number 1 world ranking for the first time since 2010. However, Rory McIlroy, the second ranked golfer, can reclaim the number one ranking with a win this weekend, while Tiger takes two weeks to prepare for the Masters. So Tiger Woods isn’t all alone atop the ranking like he used to be. There is now a feisty youngster who may forever be nipping at his heels. Not only has he had recent success on the PGA Tour, he has one the last eight Arnold Palmer Invitationals. This is not necessarily any new success for Tiger, just one in a recent string of a great comebacks. Yet two years ago this would not have been a surprise. Today, there are different connotations of Tiger being Tiger, since his secret double life of being a playboy has come to light. My friends, Tiger Woods has returned! Well, it is not like he ever left actually. He’s just returned to his old form of the old Tiger Woods we all know and love, the one we expected to win every Open he entered, but most importantly the Tiger Woods before all of his shenanigan. Okay, well maybe I should be more clear; we do not know if Tiger is still a party boy, but what we do know is that Tiger Woods in the vacuum of the golf world is back. His knee is feeling perfectly fine, and his love life is on the heal with his announcement of a new girlfriend coming out. So maybe he has put it all past him, and is focusing on golf once and for all. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here, because although he may have the name of an animal, he is human after all. I like to look at athletes in a vacuum, with their on the field exploits completely separated from their off the field exploits. Yes, athletes can be bad people, just like anyone else, and this does not give them any more right to do dishonorable things than the average person, so I take everything with a grain of salt because no one knows what our favorite athletes really do. With million dollar endorsements on the line, many athletes are one wrong move away from being exposed as less than respectable public figures. To many, Tiger Woods will never capture their hearts with his god-like golfing prowess, grit, and fierce competitive drive like he used to do. All of this blame rests on only one person’s shoulders, and that is on those of Tiger Woods. Frankly it is sad, because he is a once in a generation talent. Imagine if Michael Jordan partook in all of the things that Tiger did. The sports world would be completely different, and it would’ve been a very sad day to see a legend fall in the sport of basketball. So even though Tiger is back, let us all take it with a grain of salt, because although he may be even better than before, his image will never be better than it was before his whole life came to light on a fateful night back in 2009. But on a lighter note, Tiger Woods is back, and possibly better than ever. The Masters is taking place in two weeks, so we can finally see how “back” Tiger Woods really is. Who knows, maybe he might win a few more hearts that he lost when his playboy antics came to light and possibly the Masters’ green jacket? Things are starting to become exciting in the world of golf once again, because the familiar has returned, and now there is someone to encourage Tiger Woods to be even fiercer in Rory McIlroy. But can Rory McIlroy handle the full fledged Tiger? For the sake of golfing I am hoping for a resounding yes.
March 28, 2013
Insanity workout a challenging feat and worth the effort Chris Brown
assistant spoRts editoR
Spencer Davis/The Miscellany News
he freshman 15. The plague that seems to follow every aspiring college student. As a person who has constantly struggled with weight and health issues, the last thing I needed was to pack on more pounds during my Vassar career. I began trying to eat healthier and exercise. Yet the tedious walk to the gym from Jewett began to drain me (thank goodness that bridge is getting fixed) and a combination of lack of nutritional knowledge plus, well, the Deece, was not helping me reach my ultimate goal of a better lifestyle. It was in November of 2012, however, that I was introduced to the Insanity workout. Insanity is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult circuit training based DVD workouts in existence today. Developed by American Fitness trainer Shaun T., Insanity is a nine week program that uses the workout philosophy of Max Interval Training. Basically each workout is designed to push your body to its absolutely max capacity for a three minute interval with a 30 second rest in between each interval. During each interval, you move from one exercise to another with almost no break in between. The program requires you to workout for six days a week, with the length of each workout ranging from 35 minutes to an hour and a half. To put it lightly, it’s a time commitment. When I first wanted to try the program, I did it sparingly, maybe two or three times a week. Yet I was not seeing any results. It was right before Christmas break that I was approached by my good friend Gabby, and we decided that for our New Year’s Resolutions (cliché, right?) we were going to finish the workout in its entirety. I had no clue what I had just gotten into. I started on the seventh day of January, still in the middle of winter break. The accessibility of the Insanity workout was a huge asset, being that all you needed was an open space, a computer, and a nice pair of tennis shoes. I didn’t
The Davison basement serves as the convenient setting for students’ devoted regime of the insanity workout. Chris Brown ‘16, pictured above, recounts his experience with the grueling exercise routine. have to deal with the hassle of getting to a gym or paying for a membership. It was all sitting there for me to grab. Yet the downfall of doing a 40 minute workout within 5 feet of your comfortable bed a week after stuffing your face with grandma’s famous apple pie became evident after the first two minutes of day one. The first month was labeled the lower intensity section of the program. I scoffed at that label when I started dripping sweat after the “warm-up,” which consisted of 10 minutes of high intensity movement, jumping around like a frog, and stretching in ways that seem humanly impossible to a bigger person like myself. Yet I continued, and soon enough, the first day was done. Only eight weeks and six days left.
I found that my at home workouts leading up to my return to Vassar were not leaving me dying on the floor as time went on. I mistakenly thought this meant I was making vast improvements. That idea evaporated when I started doing the workouts with my partner, Gabby. At home, I was doing them with my mother. Now, I am working out with co captain of the Vassar quidditch team. Naturally, my inner competitiveness showed in my attempt to keep up with her. I realized just how trying the 40 minutes could be. The rest of the program was littered with collapses to the floor, lots of strange noises, and bewildered stares coming from the students passing through the Davison basement, our makeshift gym.
VC Athletics battles through spring break
By the end of the first month, I was physically and mentally exhausted. Then came month two. Each workout in the second section is focused on max cardio conditioning and core strength (of which I had none) and averaged around an hour long. The sheer difficulty of the first week of part two was extraordinary. The pain throughout my body only halfway through a workout was not comparable to any physical pain I had had before. The only reason I continued to push was because Gabby made sure I wouldn’t quit. I underestimated the mental fortitude that was required to get through a workout of this caliber. I was emotionally drained. Every workout was a struggle, but I kept going. And then it was over. No more jumping jacks, no more one handed push ups (yup, that was real). I was done with the whole workout. I felt a a sense of disappointment. What was this work for? Why did I push myself for nothing? Yet I had noticed a change within myself. I started to see tone and definition on my body that wasn’t there before, and I had a lot more energy overall. I didn’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs. As simple as is sounds, being able to get through daily tasks without feeling tired or worn down was a very big accomplishment in my life. I found that the number on the scale wasn’t the most important thing. It was about the acceptance I had found within myself for my own body throughout the Insanity journey. I had improved my overall lifestyle. But then I wondered, what was next? It came as a minor shock to me that life continued after the Insanity workout. I knew this was not a one time thing. Maintaining health is a life long job. I now make an effort to workout at least four times a week, and have been doing my best to eat better. I have goals set in mind, and I know that if I can complete the Insanity workout, then I have it within myself to continue to push for the rest of my life and reach a place where I feel completely happy and healthy.
Meaghan Hughes and Chris Brown
spoRts editoR and assistant spoRts editoR
The team finished the season over the break by sending six fencers to Northeast Regionals—the first round of NCAA Fencing Finals. Senior Alex Vastola and junior Matt Steinschneider advanced to the foil quarter finals, where they finished 34th and 35th respectively. Senior Tavish Pegrem finished 30th in epee. For sabre, junior John Arden was just short of the semi-finals and finished in 23rd.
The Brewers had great success on their Spring Break trip to Florida and returned with an impressive 2-0 record. Their first win against Fitchburg State was a product the talents of a wide range of class years. Junior midfielder Malena Harrang put Vassar on the board within the first two minutes. Freshman Isabelle Goldstein scored her first collegiate goal and assist, while attack Sara Davis, midfielder Michela Garrison and midfielder Sophia Rosetti all scored two goals, adding to the 15-2 score. Vassar continued the high-scoring trend with their next game against Ohio Wesleyan, where they dominated on offense and defense. Davis scored four goals, while senior defender Elizabeth Annis put three of her own on the board. Ohio Wesleyan came close to tying with 26 remaining in the first half until Vassar quickly responded with four unanswered goals. The Brewers went on to start the second half with seven goals in the first 20 minutes of play. The final score of 19-8 leaves the team in a great position for the rest of the season.
courtesy of Vassar Athletics
Another team finishing their season was the women’s fencing team, which also sent six fencers to Regionals. Senior Katie LeClair made it to foil semi-finals and finished 17th. For epee squad, sophomore Megan Lewis finished in 43rd, and Senior Caitlin Clevenger had a tough quarter-final match but finished 32nd. Senior Tracy Bratt barely missed the quarter-finals and finished in 38th. Women’s Lacrosse
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Sophomore Sophia Rosetti scored two goals during the spring break lacrosse game, adding to the team’s 15-2 score. Vassar continued its high-scoring trend in their next game against Ohio Wesleyan. Men’s Baseball
The baseball team at Vassar College began its season over the recent break at the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational, and has been solid so far, with a total of four wins to two losses, falling only to Oswego State (1-4) and Dartmouth College (2-10). Their first game of the season was against Cairn University on March 14th and was a strong start, with Vassar winning 10-0. Junior pitcher Joe Lovizio helped Vassar achieve the first shut out of their season. This win was mainly due to the lack of pitching accuracy from the other team. Vassar had 11 players walked by Cairn University, greatly contributing to their win. Sophomore Kyle Casey, who had a solid base hit in the final inning, had the last run of the game, bring Vassar to 10 runs compared to the opponents zero. The team will have its first official Liberty League Match on Friday, March 29, against University of Rochester.
On their recent trip to California over the break, Vassar men’s tennis had a winning record of two wins to one loss. In the first match against Caltech, the team won 8-1, and then followed with a 6-3 win against Sewanee. They fell to nationally ranked Cal Lutheran 3-6. Freshman Christian Phelps went 3-0 in is single matches, greatly contributing to the teams solid performance in the three matches. Phelps had a huge win against Cal Lutheran’s Devon Belcher, winning after two tight sets and a final 10 point set. Senior Andrew Guzick had two singles win and two doubles victories, while freshman Daniel Cooper had a solid win against the number 4 seeded singles player on Cal Lutheran. The team is now 5-8 for the whole season. They face nationally ranked Amherst College on Saturday, March 30th.
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