The Miscellany News Maloney runs for 18th district Students, faculty aid in heated campaign for U.S. Congress Ruth Bolster and Hannah Blume senior editors
Two new VSA funds on the way
Ra Ra Riot to headline ViCE fall concert Adam Buchsbaum arts editor
ndie rock band Ra Ra Riot will headline the upcoming Vassar College Entertainment (ViCE) fall concert, with solo electropop artist St. Lucia and Vassar’s homegrown funk band Sol opening the show. The concert will take place on Friday, Nov. 2 at the Chapel. The doors will open at 7 p.m., while the show will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets will be on sale in the College Center North Atrium and at local record store Darkside Records, located at 782 Main Street. Tickets cost $10 with a Vassar ID, and $20 without one. The ticket price at the door is $15 for Vassar students and $25 for non-Vassar attendees. Ra Ra Riot was born in Syracuse, New York back in 2006. The group released its first full-length album, The Rhumb Line, in 2008, and its second, The Orchard, in 2010. Ra Ra Riot also recently announced its next record, Beta Love, slated for Jan. 22. “I would describe them as indie rock with baroque pop influences,” said ViCE Director Dan Flynn ’13, also noting the band’s string section. ViCE Music Committee Chair Andrew Rovner ’13 explained how infrequent it is for a band to carry a live See ViCE on page 15
courtesy of Ra Ra Riot
former aide to President Clinton, as well as to New York Governors Spitzer and Patterson, Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney hopes to make a name for himself in politics by running for the US House of Representatives in New York’s newly-formed 18th Congressional District, which now encompasses Orange, Putnam, and parts of Westchester and Dutchess counties. Recently endorsed by The New York Times, Maloney, who visited Vassar on Oct. 2, is challenging Republican incumbent Nan Hayworth. “The fact of the matter is that this country is in desperate need of an enormous renewal of national purpose and direction,” said Maloney during his speech. “I think that the solutions are all around us.” Maloney’s platform centers around six key issues: protecting Medicare from funding cuts; job creation; supporting a woman’s right to choose and access to contraception; supporting veterans and their families; and See ELECTION on page 8
Volume CXLVI | Issue 4
October 25, 2012
Since 1866 | miscellanynews.com
Guitarist Milo Bonacci, violinist Rebecca Zeller, bassist Mathieu Santos and vocalist Wes Miles and Drummer Kenny Bernard (not pictured) perform in Ra Ra Riot. The band is based out of Syracuse, New York.
Board of Trustees approves $120 mil. for Science Center, seeks to reform JYA spending
Noble Ingram Guest Reporter
T Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
Danielle Bukowski neWs editor
Inside this issue
Alumna talks about her research on “God particle”
VC hires new EOAA director Williams to improve ofﬁce’s accessibility, and investigative procedures
Koren’s committee begins self review of fund distribution. SA Finance Committee has an extensive new agenda for the 2012-2013 academic year. VP for Finance Alex Koren ’12 came into his position with an agenda to make funding applications and budgeting more comprehensive and equitable, and this was expanded upon in response to recent campus climate incidents. The major changes are the creation of the Large Event and Social Consciousness funds, an FAQ for funding applications, working more closely with Campus Activities on contract comprehension and overhauling Annual Budgeting. Said Koren, “The MEChA application made us realize a couple of things about our process, and small changes to make the meetings clearer were implemented immediately. But sort of on a bigger scope, we realized that events like those just don’t fit into our current funding paradigm.” To correct for this, Finance is creating two new funds to handle events beyond what the VSA can cover now. The Large Events Fund is designed to sponsor events that only occur every so many years, and will be open for applications See FUNDS on page 4
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
The model for the Science Center is on display in Main’s south wing. The building will include an X-ray suite, an animal care facility, a robotics lab, neuroscan and electrophysiology areas, and classrooms.
Administration plans to enforce minimum GPA requirement for JYA to save money Leighton Suen neWs editor
he $120 million Science Center Project proposal was recently green-lighted during the latest meeting of the Board of Trustees, which convened from Oct. 11-13 at Vassar College. In addition to approving the plans, which are scheduled to commence in Spring 2013, the Board also discussed a pressing issue at present: the role of junior year abroad (JYA) in the academic programs of Vassar students.
As previously reported in the 1.26.11 issue of The Miscellany News, renovations of current buildings and construction of an Integrated Science Center have been proposed in order to unite Vassar’s science programs in the Academic Quadrangle, encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration (“Science center plans presented”). If these plans come to fruition, the Psychology Department will be housed in the New EnSee TRUSTEES on page 3
Mr. Bouchard’s political analysis of debate buzzwords
he Metcalf House gains a new member this fall with the new Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA), Julian Williams. Looking forward, Williams wants to bridge the gap between the office of EOAA and the student body by reaching out to students and being completely transparent in his efforts. Williams was previously a Labor and Employment Attorney, a background which serves the position well according to Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies and Faculty Director of Affirmative Action, Colleen Cohen. “Not only does Mr. Williams bring experience from another university [Marmouth], he also comes with a legal understanding.” Dean of Students D.B. Brown affirms the optimism felt about Mr. William’s arrival. “We’re very excited about the new hire… He’s very smart, very fair, and really on point.” The EOAA office is responsible for the development, coordination, and implementation of Vassar’s equal opportunity and affirmative action policies and programs. This ultimately means that qualified students can access all of the opportunities Vassar has to offer regardless of race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, veteran status or age. See NEW DIRECTOR on page 4
VC’s teams compete during Fall Break
The Miscellany News
Local Foods Market
All day | Col. Center | Sustainability Committee
“Art and War” Panel
6:30pm | CC North Atrium | ASA
Murder at Vassar Manor
8:00pm | RH 101 | Jewett and Phil.
Featuring Benjamin Busch, Monica Church, Linda Cunning and Charles Geiger.
Join us for a night of mystery and intrigue to solve a classic Whodunit with your friends. Food and entertainment included.
Halloween Costume Swap
Come find some great materials to make that perfect Halloween costume!
“Mud” focuses on the lives of three people, how they are related, and how they relate to each other.
5:00pm | TH 203 | History Dept.
5:30pm | CC 204 | Student’s Class Issues Alliance
Claflin Lecture: Paul Chan 6:00pm | TH 102 | Art Dept.
Paul Chan is an artist featured in dozens of publications and exhibitions. Role of Religion in US Politics Panel featuring Professors and Poughkeepsie Clergy 7:00pm | Villard | Poli Sci Dept.
8:00pm | Shiva | Philaletheis
“Mud” focuses on the lives of three people, how they are related, and how they relate to each other.
8:00pm | Shiva | Philaletheis
Skinner Hall Chamber Ensemble Performance 8:00pm | Skinner | Music Dept.
Mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger sings with Sequitur. Improv Show
10:00pm | TH 203 | Vassar Improv
Come join Vassar Improv for a night of short and long-form improvisation. It will be a blast! Mischief Night
10:00pm | Mug | VCPUNX
The Huck for Red October All day | Prentiss | VC Athletics
Ultimate frisbee tournament between Vassar and other collegiate teams.
The Huck for Red October All day | Prentiss | VC Athletics
Ultimate frisbee tournament between Vassar and other collegiate teams.
5K Fun Run
Skinner Sonata Performance
VCSquared Session 2
Todd Crow, piano, performs sonatas of Joseph Haydn.
8:30am | Res. Quad | Health Educ. 10:00am | RH 200 | CDO
LiNK Film Screening 4:00pm | RH 300 | ASA
A presentation of “The Shift”. “Mud” Performance
8:00pm | Shiva | Philaletheis
“Mud” focuses on the lives of three people, how they are related, and how they relate to each other.
October 25, 2012
3:00pm | Skinner | Music Dept.
Senior Editors Hannah Blume Ruth Bolster
Contributing Editor Rachael Borné
5:00pm | AULA | ASU
7:00pm | Main MPR | VSA
9:00pm | Rose Parlor | The Misc
Come tell us all about our typos!
Skinner Jazz Performance
8:00pm | Skinner | Music Dept.
Christian McBride and Inside Straight present an evening of jazz. The Witching Hour
9:00pm | UpC MPR | VSA Activities
Featuring food, a costume contest, and a film screening from 10:00pm to 1:00am.
News Danielle Bukowski Leighton Suen Features Jessica Tarantine Opinions Lane Kisonak Humor & Satire Jean-Luc Bouchard Arts Adam Buchsbaum Sports Tina Caso Photography Katie de Heras Online Nathan Tauger Copy Maxelle Neufville Assistant News Assistant Features Assistant Opinions Assistant Arts Assistant Photo Crossword Editor Reporters
Columnists Photography October Break is one of those delicious Vassar traditions that leaves other colleges jealous—an entire week off to visit family, sleep in, catch up on TV shows, and maybe get ahead on schoolwork. Though students travel all over the world during October Break, those who stayed on the East Coast were treated to a week full of mostly-sunny skies and absolutely stunning foliage. To view a collection of eastern autumn appreciation, visit Exposure, The Misc’s photo essay blog, at http://blogs.miscellanynews.com/exposure/. The slideshow features photos by Emily Lavieri-Scull ’15, Rachel Garbade ’15, and Katie de Heras ’13. — Katie de Heras, Photography Editor
Bethan Johnson Chris Gonzalez Gabe Dunsmith Burcu Noyan Jacob Gorski Jiajing Sun Jack Mullan Amreen Bhasin Laci Dent Meaghan Hughes Bobbie Lucas Marie Solis Steven Williams Nicole Wong Juan Thompson Cassady Bergevin Spencer Davis Rachel Garbade Emily Lavieri-Scull Aja Brady-Saalfeld Palak Patel
PAPER CRITIQUE The Editorial Board holds weekly meetings every Sunday at 9 p.m. in the Rose Parlor. All members of the Vassar community interested in joining the newspaper’s staff or in a critique of the current issue are welcome. The Miscellany News is not responsible for the views presented in the Opinions pages. The weekly staff editorial is the only article which reflects the opinion of the Editorial Board. The Miscellany News is published weekly by the students of Vassar College. The Miscellany News office is located in College Center Room 303, Vassar College.
ADVERTISING POLICY The Miscellany News (1) reserves the right to reject or edit any advertising copy at any time; (2) will not accept advertisements that promote discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex or sexual orientation, nor will it accept advertisements of a political nature or advertisements that promote products or services illegal in the State of New York: (3) will print every advertisement with the word “advertisement” above it; (4) shall not be liable for failure to print, publish or circulate all or any portion of any issue if such a failure is the result of circumstances beyond the paper’s control.
LETTERS POLICY The Miscellany News is Vassar College’s weekly open forum for discussion of campus, local and national issues, and welcomes letters and opinions submissions from all readers. Letters to the Editor should not exceed 450 words, and they usually respond to a particular item or debate from the previous week’s issue. Opinions articles are longer pieces, up to 800 words, and take the form of a longer column. No letter or opinions article may be printed anonymously. If you are interested in contributing, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
October 25, 2012
Community responds to rampant graffiti and hate speech Bethan Johnson
assistant neWs editor
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
fter the three recent incidents of hatebased vandalism that occurred in Jewett, the administration, faculty, House Teams and students are implementing an array of responses focused on creating a more inclusive campus climate. The third incident did not garner an all-campus email from administration, as the first two incidents did, but was addressed in an internal Jewett House email. “If we sent out a response for every instance, then ultimately people would say ‘Ok, that’s just another email,’” said Associate Dean of the College Edward Pittman. “I think there is a threshold which we try to identify...to be able to advise the Dean and the President that we need to respond on a larger level.” The administration’s policy is to respond when it sees a dramatic rise in incidents. Pittman explained, “[Vandalism] often is a cumulative impact, that something happens on a small scale and then it manifests as a pattern. As the pattern gets to a certain point, we realize we need to address this in a very public and community way.” After Jewett’s all-house meeting on Sunday Sept. 30, Jewett House President Ben Morse ’14 worked with other House Presidents to create a large-scale response to the incidents. “The Board of House Presidents convened shortly after Jewett held our all-house meeting, and we decided to write a letter to House Teams,” Morse noted. “In that letter we explained all the damages and vandalism that has occurred this year, and we asked that the House Teams engage their houses in a manner that they saw fit.” Each dorm’s House Team then created short-term plans and prolonged campaigns to discuss the incidents. The faculty also engaged in conversation with the prejudices expressed by the vandals. Associate Professor of German Studies Jeff Schneider and Senior Lecturer of English and the Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies Karen Robertson facilitated a Women’s Studies Program general discussion on Oct. 5 that addressed the vandalism. According to Robertson, students and faculty members spent a brief period of time addressing both an appreciation for the administration’s recognition of the seriousness of sexism, and also the group’s role in addressing the
Sharon Onga ’13 speaks in front of a crowd at the October 10 Community Forum. Students, faculty and administrators talked about their perspectives, and discussed ways to improve things for the future. vandalism. Robertson explained, “The Women’s Studies faculty is concerned, but we are scholars and academics so it’s not exactly our task to do work in the dorms.” However, the Women’s Studies Program believes that the faculty has some control over the campus climate through education and empowering others that can more readily address the issues. As the early waves of response poured in from students and faculty, the Campus Life Office, Residential Life Office, and Health Education/Sexual Assault Violence Prevent (SAVP) Program coordinated a weeklong discussion that culminated in the Community Forum on Oct. 10. Wrote Assistant Director for Campus Life/LGBTQ Programs Judy Jarvis in an emailed statement, “The group came up with three components: creating the moderated SpeakUpVC blog where students can post about how the vandalism affected them; creating a display of posts on the SARC window; and holding the Community Forum.” SpeakUpVC was a widely used WordPress site designed as a forum for students to express their reactions to the vandalism and the campus’ response. With over 100 postings, the site was also
a means of fostering discussion between students and faculty members; the blog opened on Oct. 5 and was officially closed one week later. The site was ‘moderated’ by House Advisor Terry Hanlon; Pittman described the moderation as merely receiving and then reposting the comments on the site. On the website, many students debated the incidents themselves and their views on the correct response to take. Others felt that the administrative and student responses have led to an unhealthy attention to the vandalism. One of the largest criticisms of SpeakUpVC voiced extensively in the campus-wide forum was its apparent inability to foster a comforting environment to those affected by the vandalism due to trolling. Sarah Cooley ’15 thought the blog was a positive idea, but said at the Community Forum: “Having been on there and reading some of the posts that are on there, I think that it’s really difficult for those people who are trying to heal from their feelings attached to this vandalism...to read.” However, Director of Residential Life Luis Inoa noted that the group that created the blog had other aspirations for the site. Inoa explained,
“Part of this was to try to kind of hold up a mirror to Vassar and say this some of how we are feeling…It was to be able to allow people to speak their mind.” The final event, the Community Forum, was attended by over 90 people, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Almost two hours was spent discussing the impact of the vandalism and the overall campus climate. “[We] ask the large question, ‘What’s happening at Vassar that people feel compelled to speak this way?’ And ask, ‘What are we as a community going to do about it?’” said Pittman. The introductory speakers—Luis Inoa, Professor of English and Africana Studies Kiese Laymon, and Kate Wilson ’13—framed the forum by including a review of the facts of the incidents, noting the words used to describe these issues, and the communal accountability for these incidents. Moreover, the group touched on numerous ideas for how Vassar could stave off a decline in the campus’ culture. Among the suggestions were individuals claiming ownership of the problem, the inclusion of a social consciousness academic requirement, including more programming to discuss social issues at freshman orientation and simply addressing incidents of racism or sexism in daily conversation. Now that responses to the incidents have been addressed, the campus is looking to implement long-term policies as defense against hate speech and bias. “The planning team who worked on the blog, SARC display and Forum will be meeting again after October break to think about what else we can do to continue the dialogue about micro aggressions and not-so-microaggressions in our community,” explained Jarvis. Additionally, spoken-word duo, Climbing PoeTree, will be coming to Vassar’s campus on Nov. 5 to talk about healing from violence and the impact of intersecting oppressions. The Vassar Student Association (VSA) has responded with a Campus Climate Campaign. The first meeting will be held on Oct. 26 at 2:30 p.m. in the Faculty Parlor. Vice President for Student Life Michael Moore ’14 and Vice President for Activities Doug Greer ’14 wrote, “[We’re] hopeful that through collaboration on this campaign we can come together as a community and make a powerful statement that hate speech will not be tolerated on our campus.”
Significant spike in JYA applications spurs policy change TRUSTEES continued from page 1
gland Building and Olmstead Hall. The Computer Science Department will move to Sanders Physics Building, and the Chemistry Department will move to the new bridge building. Eventually, Mudd Chemistry Building will be demolished. “The Board endorsed our moving forward with the sciences project, contingent on the construction contract coming in on budget,” wrote Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill in an emailed statement. “We hope to report more in the next week or two on our budget negotiations.” Conversations at the Board of Trustees meeting shifted from plans for the future to problems of the present. The significant increase in JYA applications and acceptances of students requesting to go abroad this 20122013 academic year generated the discussion at the meeting, which was led by Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette. Questions have been raised concerning the Committee on Leaves and Privileges’ approval procedures for JYA. “Because we happen to have a very high year, it was a bit of a wake up call that perhaps some applications needed to be scrutinized more closely,” said Dean of the College Christopher Roellke. “The number of students studying abroad is considerably larger than what we’ve had historically—185 full-time equivalents (FTE)—370 semesters in which this year’s junior class is going to be off-campus. It’s tended to hover around 150 [FTE].” The Office of International Programs, however, denies that their requirements for JYA approval have become more lax. “It’s not a question of something fundamentally wrong with the way we approve for study abroad,”
said International Programs Specialist Susan Stephens. “It happens to be a trend at the moment that students are looking for an international experience…We’ve definitely had an increase in the number of applications. It has nothing to do with standards.” Stephens points to the Sesquicentennial campaign as a potential source of Vassar student interest in study abroad, “A major part of the capital campaign was the theme of ‘World Changing’—the spirit of expanding the role that globalization plays in your education.” The unexpected increase in the number of students going abroad this year has resulted in negative consequences for the College. “The challenge for us is we try to predict each year what proportion of the junior class will be abroad,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration Betsy Eismeier. “When the classes in Chemistry department fill up, we don’t build new chemistry labs, and we don’t outsource students to Marist. We say that they’re full. There’s a limit to capacity for on-campus programs, and we have fixed resources.” She added, “The extra capacity is coming from other non-Vassar programs where we have to pay other schools to enroll our students.” Eismeier also noted that during years in which there are spikes in JYA enrollment, there is a “beds and heads” problem for Residential Life. “On campus, we have extra beds, extra space in the dining halls and…extra seats in classes.” According to Eismeier, the average cost of sending a student abroad for a year comes out to $33,000, not including lost revenue for room and board at Vassar. In previous years, JYA has required $4 million in direct programs’ costs alone; this year, that number in-
creased to $6 million. Ways to moderate the fluctuations and the financial impact on the College were discussed in the most recent meeting of the Committee on Curricular Policies (CCP), which is chaired by Chenette. One idea is to scrutinize applications more closely for academic rationale—coherence between students’ academic programs at Vassar and their proposed study abroad programs— and adhere more closely to the recommended grade point average (GPA) of 3.2. The Committee noted that 18 students with GPAs under 3.0 were approved for study abroad this year. Roellke said, “If a person is under 3.0, one could have a very persuasive proposal to go JYA, but it also raises questions about whether the student could be better served at Vassar where all of the academic support systems are in place.” Another idea is to encourage students to study abroad for one semester instead of two, especially those who plan on going to two different countries. “It reduces our FTE that go abroad, or it might allow two students to go for half a year instead of one student for a full year,” said Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources Marianne Begemann. “Obviously, certain students have a justification,” said Stephens regarding studying in two different countries, “But if the reason is, ‘I want to do everything in the four years that I’m at Vassar’—that’s not really an academic justification.” An enrollment management solution being discussed is to fill the empty beds and course seats with visiting exchange students—both domestic and international. Associate Dean of Studies and Director of International Programs Susan Correll approves of this idea. “I
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
think it’s very nice to have international students here,” she said. “They’re lovely. They’re very appreciative to come here. It’s healthy and good for the College academically, intellectually and culturally.” Although many members of the administration approve of accepting international students for a year, some have expressed reservations about accepting visiting domestic students. “We’ve sometimes had students who come in during their junior year, and then they want to become transfer students,” said Begemann. “That wasn’t necessarily part of the plan.” Although the new changes may cut down on the number of students studying abroad, College administrators stress that they are not restrictions. Said Dean of Studies Joanne Long, “What was not put in place—what was rejected—was putting absolute caps on the number of students who can go abroad...that is being firmly rejected.” Eismeier echoed Long’s sentiments. ”The only thing that could solve it perfectly would be saying, ‘The first 155 applications are in, and the rest of you are out’. We don’t want to do it that way. [JYA approval] ought to be consistent with the program with some controls over quality and finances so that we can sustain it.” Looking forward, administrators are hesitant to call the increase in JYA applications a trend. “Everything peaks at some point—even the stock market, and it will go back down,” said Correll. “Will it always be this high? Probably not, but it probably won’t be as low as it was in the past either. You have to make adjustments in your financial planning to accommodate those fluctuations without penalizing students.”
October 25, 2012
Commissioner Williams brings legal expertise to post rejects student voter forms NEW DIRECTOR continued from page 1
Vassar excluded from NYCLU lawsuit Hannah Blume
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
n an all-campus email sent out over October Break, Dean of the College Christopher Roellke explained that Republican election commissioner Erik Haight has challenged some Vassar students’ voter registration forms. Thirty students were challenged, and the college is now working to help those students get their registrations validated and to cast their ballots on Election Day. “All over the United States, there is tension between college students and other residents,” explained Dean of Freshmen Benjamin Lotto, who spearheaded the TurboVote effort this year. “One of the ways this gets expressed is the issue of voting eligibility.” College students have the right to vote in the district where they attend school, and Lotto is firm in his belief that college students should exercise this right if they wish. “It is a rock solid precedent that college students are eligible to vote at their college address, he explained. “The courts have upheld this.” But Commissioner Haight insists that student voter registrations that provide only a mailing address, rather than a physical dorm room number, are technically incorrect. “Common sense tells you that no one lives in a mailbox,” Haight said in an Oct. 12 Poughkeepsie Journal article. “Just because things have been done erroneously in the past doesn’t mean we have to keep doing them wrong.” Roellke linked an article in his email from the Times Union which explained that the state Board of Elections has issued an “advisory opinion” to the Dutchess County Board of Elections advocating that students be able to use their mailing address. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) are also responding to the controversy. In a letter to Haight, the Legal Director of NYCLU Arthur Eisenburg describes Haight’s actions as “incompatible with the New York Election Law.” Eisenburg wrote, “We, therefore, urge that you withdraw your position and that you do so expeditiously.” According to Lotto, the ACLU and NYCLU are planning to file a lawsuit on behalf of students at the Culinary Institute of America and Bard College. “As far as I know, Vassar students have not been included in the lawsuit,” explained Lotto, who cited Vassar’s split uniquely campus as an added legal hurdle for the plaintiffs. The fact that the Town Houses (THs) are located in District 3, while the rest of campus is in District 4 would complicate the case and could be used in support of Haight’s argument that dorm rooms are important information on registration forms. Lotto added, “[The NYCLU] really want to set this precedent.” In spite of their omission from the lawsuit, Lotto and others in the administration are working closely with the thirty students whose forms were challenged to validate their registrations. “If we are not going to be a part of this lawsuit, we are still looking into other options to move these students forward,” he said. One option is for the students to cast affidavit ballots, which are effectively treated like absentee ballots after they are verified as valid. Another option that Lotto is considering is bringing students to the Board of Elections to see the duty judge who can rule at that point whether the students are eligible to vote. Lotto stressed the importance of persistence on Election Day. “Students need to be prepared, as they can still be challenged at the polls,” Lotto said. “They should not leave without casting their ballot. These problems happen every year. Keep asserting yourself, politely, at the polling place.” Lotto also encourages all students whose registrations are challenged to contact him. “We can include them in any action we want to help them take,” he said. “Since this is the first presidential election for almost every Vassar student, this is a particular year where the interest in the election is high and there is a lot of energy. We want to support that energy to exercise their right to vote.”
The position of Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action was originally instituted to serve students with special needs. The position evolved with Title IX—legislation passed in 1972 criminalizing discrimination on the basis of sex—to take on issues relating to diversity as a whole. According to Williams, the purpose of the position is to promote and organize diversity activities on campus, to investigate complaints of harassment and discrimination on campus, and to monitor hiring practices of the college for diversity purposes. “Diversity is all-encompassing. It includes everyone. We have to make sure we’re not alienating anyone...I just want to be a resource for our students and everyone here at the college,” Williams said. Although he has only just begun at the College, Williams has already been working to make significant changes on campus. “One of the things I’ve been trying to do is take a look at our policies…We’re in the process of doing a pretty major revision here at Vassar of the policy against discrimination and harassment which concerns faculty and staff members in terms of how these incidents will be investigated, their timeline, and their structure.” This process involves working with administrators within the EOAA office and other offices on campus. Cohen confirmed this: “The Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and the Faculty Director of Affirmative Action work together closely. [Mr. Williams] is eager to reach out to everyone.” Williams stated that when it comes to dealing with issues of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action on campus, Vassar is already succeeding. “One of the things that is encouraging...is the sense of the community,” he said. “I’m also encouraged by the level of activity of our students. We are very active. We are also very bright. That’s why we’re here.” Acknowledging that incidents involving discrimination or harassment do happen on
Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Director Julian Williams sees his new position as a platform for promoting and organizing diverse activities, not just for correcting EOAA failures. campus, he has plans for improving campus climate. “I think that we can always do more training. We can always do more activities, programs, and workshops to give people an opportunity to ask questions and to learn more about each other and the services that the college provides.” In addition to investigating incidents of discrimination or harassment on campus, the Director of EOAA spends a significant portion of time working with the student body. “Issues that have to do with equal opportunity, discrimination, harassment… sometimes do affect students and his office is the office that investigates that,” commented D.B. Brown. Said Williams, “I want to make sure students are aware of the services that my office provides, aware that there is somebody there to speak with them if there is something going on, if there is an incident concerning discrimination or
harassment. Everybody involved [should] know that there is someone here looking into the matter.” This interaction between students and the office of EOAA has not always been so close, but as Ms. Cohen stated, “[Williams] has a real interest in visibility.” Williams made clear his intent to include students in prevention efforts as well. “One of the things I want to be able to do is to sit down with our student leaders and tell them about what services my office provides…If an incident occurs, student leaders are the first line of defense.” The Office of EOAA has recently made the shift from dealing exclusively with incidents after the fact to working on increasing education and awareness before an incident even occurs as well. In regards to his first few weeks, Williams seems to be enjoying his time here. “It’s been great. Everyone’s been really nice and I’ve been very impressed by the students.”
VSA finance overhauls annual budgeting FUNDS continued from page 1
many months in advance or the year prior if the event is early in the semester. “More exciting is the Social Consciousness Fund, which we think will be a great way to address the issues we are having with campus climate right now,” Koren continued. The fund is reserved for events that address issues of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality. As Koren wrote in the recent Campus Climate email from VSA President Jason Rubin on Sunday, Oct. 21, “Opening such a fund will empower organizations and individuals affected by the hateful actions to become directly involved in planning events to educate and promote a safer and more inclusive community.” Wrote TA President and Finance Committee member Devin Griffin ’12 in an emailed statement, “The Large Event and Social Consciousness funds...had been thrown around kind of abstractly, and Finance Committee decided that they could really form the foundation of our response to the campus climate issues that Vassar’s been experiencing this semester.” Interest in Social Consciousness as a Vassar academic requirement for graduation was brought up at the most recent Town Hall meeting, and the rest of the VSA executive board is putting out a unified front of support for social consciousness as exhibited in Rubin’s Campus Climate email. As the Social Consciousness and Large Event funds are still in the proposal phase, there is not yet a definitive monetary amount allocated for each fund. Koren estimates the funds to each contain around $15-$20,000. The other Finance changes on the agenda are focused on making funding applications more comprehensive to VSA organizations. The first of these is the application FAQ , to be available online to all organizations, designed to make the process of applying for funding easier for all organizations. “We’re working to make the process easier, more straightforward, and more comfortable for everyone on Vassar
campus,” Griffin stated. Said Koren, “We’ve realized that Finance just isn’t as easy to navigate as we thought… Some applicants don’t know the parameters of what we’re looking for, and Finance will tell them ‘We didn’t like how your application was structured,’ but they didn’t [explain] what a good application was supposed to look like, so there’s no way they could have known.” Koren continued, “Over the summer we created a comprehensive manual for applying to funds, and now we’re going even further with a specific FAQ outlining every step of the process: what a strong application looks like, the components you need, how to itemize your budget, what will happen during your meeting with Finance Committee.” Koren believes that if organizations know what the process looks like from start to finish, they can anticipate and plan for each stage of the process, so there won’t be any surprises at the end. At the first Finance Committee meeting this year, Koren also changed the rule on applicants being present during the discussion of allocation at Finance Committee: applicants can now stay for the duration of the discussion. “We feel that [this change] made the process much more transparent and honest and it really set the stage for our agenda this year,” wrote Griffin. Organizations are also encouraged to engage more with the Student Activities Resource Center (SARC) and Campus Activities office when looking to bring in outside speakers and entertainers. Executive Director of Campus Activities Terry Quinn already looks at all contracts for events. “I want to ensure that the organization is aware to what they’re agreeing to,” Quinn explained. She hopes that a more comprehensive procedure outlining how to go about getting funds when an organization’s budget is not enough will help. Campus Activities will also be working closely with Finance Committee in gathering data for Koren’s final initiative: a complete
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
overhaul of Annual Budgeting. Previously, Annual Budgeting has consisted of a long weekend in which each organization was given only a few minutes to present their yearly expenditures. Said Koren, “It was not conducive to doing any sort of comprehensive look at anything…right now the process [of how much more or less money an organization is given] is 90% arbitrary.” Instead, this year the Committee will look at extensive quantitative data throughout the year to make the allocation of funds more equitable. “[We will be] looking at all the history of all the fund applications for the last five years: which organizations have been getting money, which have consistently been getting docked, which are even applying for money... and applying this to Annual Budgeting,” said Koren. Finance Committee will compile all of this data into a database and use that to do a comprehensive analysis of funding for each group, effectively redoing the entire process from the ground up. The event evaluations that organizations are required to do for the SARC office will help in gathering this feedback data. Said Quinn, “It is very helpful to have those evaluations in place so organizations with new leaders can take a look at what worked well and what didn’t in years prior.” “We’re seeking a lot of outside input on this,” Koren said. “That’s an important component, that it’s not just Finance Committee making executive decisions. We’re going to get a pulse on campus of what people think should be funded, and we’ll get people involved in the process.” Said Quinn, “The Annual Budgeting plans will be a big job but it’s timely and important…We want to look at the process and make sure students have a better experience going through the process. It’s already stressful being in charge of something of that magnitude so we want to look at how we can be more helpful for students, more transparent.”
October 25, 2012
Harvey revamps Peer Advising program Research help adjusts to W student needs John Nugyen
hen freshmen arrive at Vassar, many have questions ranging from what their major will be to what classes will be meet their interests. Yet pre-major advisors don’t always have information to answer all these questions, coming from one department. As a result, the Vassar Student Association (VSA) began the Peer Advising network. The network is a database of the names, emails, and areas of concentration of upperclassmen who have volunteered to become Peer Advisors. Students can search the database by criteria such as major, minor, or campus position, and be presented with the emails of appropriate upperclassmen. Assistance can take the form of emails or face-to-face meetings. According to Matt Harvey, Vice President for Academics of the VSA, Peer Advising at Vassar came about four years ago to provide an advising tool for the underclassmen. As Harvey explained in an emailed statement, “We needed the system to be flexible and broad in the range of mentor-mentee matchups, because only a few first year students know right off what they intend to study—and many of them end up changing their minds as they learn more about Vassar, and about themselves. The liberal arts always get you in the end.” Overall, students who applied to be peer advisors understood the benefit of having someone who has personal experience to talk to when making academic decisions.
“I signed up to be a peer adviser because the world of academia can be really scary to newcomers, and I wanted to be able to help underclassmen navigate the huge variety of courses and make the right choices so that they can get the most out of their education,” said Peer Advisor Zoey Peresman ’13. Unfortunately, since its inception, the Peer Advising system has had several issues, both technical and practical, which have gotten in the way of the program’s effectiveness. The system has been underutilized in the past, which greatly diminished both its usefulness and how widely known it has been to the underclassmen whom it is intended to assist. The system has also been hindered by technical issues such as poor layout and being inaccessible. On the past website issues, Harvey recounts, “My favorite example was that the list of majors included Greek, Latin, Latin/Greek, Greek/ Latin, Classics: Greek, Classics: Latin, and Classics: Ancient Societies. You can find those under ‘View All Advisors by Department.’” However, due to the efforts of Computer and Information Services, by the beginning of next semester, many issues with the website will have been worked out and several alterations will have been made once the changes take effect, such as updated lists of campus positions and academic interests. Harvey has also been working to making the program more accessible; he says that, in addition to a link to the Peer Advising database being added to both the Vassar homepage and the VSA website, “I also spoke to the student fellows about ways to bring it
up to their fellowees, and emphasized the importance of doing so. I frequently exhort house presidents to back me up on this. It’s been mentioned in all-campus emails, and I’ve been working with Freshman Writing Seminar professors and with departmental/ program administrative assistants to mention it to their students, and provide information. There will be a major push around pre-registration time, including posters in the college center and similar measures.” Harvey also emphasized the importance of participation in his promotional efforts by faculty and administrators, saying, “The last piece of this picture is obviously the pre-major advisors...[I] mentioned the system to department chairs and program directors at their most recent meeting, to help raise its visibility from that angle.” Overall, Harvey is optimistic about the future of the Peer Advising system, and that there will be more to come in terms of improvements to the program. About his hopes for Peer Advising, he answered, “This really ought to be the number one, go-to, off-thebat resource for anyone who wants to know about a major, about a JYA program, about a class, about homework, or any other part of what it’s like to be a student here as Vassar. I think it matches very well with our school’s love of free choice and personal volition— go find the advisor that can most precisely answer your question, get the information you need, and peace out. That’s the goal we’re working towards, and I think we’ve made significant progress, although the effort is certainly ongoing, and will take years to realize fully.”
Students enjoy farmers market bounties Chris Gonzalez
assistant Features editor
very Thursday, from 3-7 p.m., the lawn of the Alumnae House comes to life with students and other members of the Arlington community buying fruits, vegetables, and an assortment of other locally produced items—anything ranging from soap to pickles and jewelry—from several vendors located in or around the Hudson Valley area. Even with the chill of October creeping into the air, the farmers market remains a destination for students, many excited by the fresh produce that are available for them. “I prefer to buy fruits from the farmers market because they usually sell what’s in season,” commented Lorraine Kwok ’15, who joined two of her friends, Sarah Mincer ’15 and Teddy Bronson ’15, for a short afternoon shopping trip after her classes. Mincer, a fruit lover, agreed with Kwok and added, “I like that it’s close [and] an alternative to limited options [on campus].” “I also like the baked goods,” exclaimed Mincer with a huge grin on her face. “I ate a ‘pie-muffin’ once. It was a muffin baked in a pie crust and with a pie filling.”
“When my friends and I go, we usually buy fruit, especially apples, peaches and grapes. There is a wide variety of apples like Fuji, Gala, Cortland, and Honeycrisp,” stated Bronson as he sampled a few bites of various apples. Apple cider doughnuts and Honeycrisp apples appear to be two of the most popular fall goods offered, according to Jennie Wilklow of Wilklow Orchards, one of the vendors who has a long standing tradition with the market and Vassar College. “We’ve been coming here for about fifteen years, now. I’ve personally done this farmers market for ten years and my mother did it for about five before that,” revealed Wilklow, who comes from six generations of farmers. While some stands, like the Wilklow Orchard, have been a part of the farmers market for quite some time, there are some vendors who have started participating in the community event this year. Kathleen Perry of Perry’s Pickles is one of the new stands on the block and she has nothing but positive thoughts on her experience thus far. “This is our first time doing the farmers market and it’s been a pleasant
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
A student considers purchasing raw honey and essential oils from a local vendor at the Arlington Farmers Market. The market is open every Thursday and will move to the College Center next week.
experience—nice people, nice students,” Perry commented. “I’ve noticed that with [Vassar], most students are interested in organic and local produce. It appeals to them. It’s always great when they taste our products and are surprised to see what the real thing is supposed to taste like.” The pickling business, which prides itself on its method of old-fashion canning and use of fresh, local produce, is only three years young, but Perry says that she’s been around it her entire life. “My mother pickled when I was growing up, and my husband’s grandfather actually made and sold pickles at Woodstock,” she smiled. Perry and Wilklow are only two vendors of this group of local food producers. There is also Meredith’s Bread, Blushing Cheek Soap, Earth to Table (local, organic, community grown food), Farm Fresh Eggs, A Local Hudson Valley Brewery, among others. In addition to the fresh goods each vendor offers, they also provide their own unique back-stories that they are always willing to share with students and community members, free of charge. For those students not interested in buying local farmers’ products or stories, they might find that even just tagging along with friends is enjoyable in itself. “[Aside from the goods] that the farmers market provides, taking a little time out of the day to shop with others is a nice break from the stresses of academics and school activities,” Bronson added. In addition to enjoying the company of friends, Kwok noted that one of the most appealing aspects of going to the market is getting the opportunity to venture outside of the Vassar walls together, and interacting with new people. “I think the farmers market is a wonderful opportunity for students to be off campus and to connect with the greater community,” And even as the sun began to fade into the late afternoon, and the trio of friends packed up their purchases and headed back to campus, the farmers market continued to rumble with laughter, conversation, and the warmth of a local community sharing a weekly moment. To beat the chill, the farmers market will be moving from the alumni lawn to the College Center starting the first Thursday of November.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
ith more and more resources being placed online, the standard model of library-based research for a paper is changing and the Vassar Thompson Memorial Library is changing along with it. During the summer of 2011 the research desk was removed from the library. Since then, there has been a wave of change within the research department. This change has revolutionized the research experience for Vassar students, an adaptation in reaction to students’ growing reliance on computers to find their sources. “The old model of reference service is that a student would be working in the library because that’s where all the resources would be,” said Head of Collection Development & Research Services Deb Bucher. She continued, “They needed help they would come to the reference desk and ask for it, but now that so many of the resources are on the web in some form or another we realized that [the reference desk] probably wasn’t really working anymore and so we decided to experiment with some things.” “We do still sit out there in the evenings, but we wanted to emphasize more of the research consultations that we offer through the liaison program, doing that kind of service,” said Bucher. The Library Liaison program allows each librarian to specialize in certain areas and in turn they are better able to assist students with specialized research. “Sometimes it is a subject that we are intimate with because we have some sort of academic background in it, and sometimes its because we’ve just been assigned to that subject and we are responsible for helping people so we do our best to educate ourselves on the subject,” said Bucher. Each librarian works with a few departments, and in this focused departmental communication he or she is updated on major research projects the students are being assigned so that the librarian might be able to prepare to help these students. There is a display up in the Research Help area with a biography on each librarian and the subjects in which they specialize, so that students can make informed decisions on who they go to for help. In addition to this specialized form of research help, the library now has a Personal Librarian Program, in which each librarian is assigned freshman in one or two dorms. Librarians then meet with the freshman at the beginning of the year and periodically send them emails throughout the semester to give them a more personal contact. “Sometimes people don’t really need subject specialization, firstyear students often just feel more comfortable with a specific person to write to, so its a way of introducing them to the library system,” said Research Librarian Gretchen Lieb. Overall students have responded positively to the changes. “I have found the library research assistant to be extremely helpful. They’re very friendly, willing to help me with my endeavors, and are readily available,” said Imara Jones ’16. Other students agreed. “I think they are really accessible. There is this ask a librarian through the website online which is a good resource for getting questions answered,” said Maisha Huq ’14. “My psychology class went into the library classroom and had a presentation and she really knew what she was talking about, she was very helpful. We had to write research papers for the class and I used what I learned in the classroom.” One element that has been change in how the research area is run is librarians are accessible by phone or email rather than in person in the library. “We haven’t taken anything away, we are actually adding to the services we offer. It is more of a changing the way the service is offered,” said Bucher. Head of Access Services Barbara Durniak adds, “We aren’t physically out there, but we have tried to advertise the [cell] phone, you just pick that up and we are on call here. We also have chat, text, email. These are all different ways that we are trying to reach out to students.” This is a key challenge for the library staff, how best to reach out to the students. “During Freshman orientation we handed out brochures that show a broad overview of all the services offered here, thats one way we are trying to reach out. There’s a Facebook presence too,” Research Librarian Mary See RESEARCH on page 8
October 25, 2012
Alumna returns to discuss research on “God particle” Jessica Tarantine and Juan Bautista Dominguez Features editor and Guest reporter
courtesy of Vassar Alumnae
ast July, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they had discovered and gain considerable proof of a new subatomic particle, hailed by many as the elusive the Higgs Boson often referred to as the God Particle. One of the main researchers on the project and University of Wisconsin Madison was former Physics major Sau Lan Wu ’63, who came back to Vassar to speak about the international effort that went into the discovery of the god particle last Monday night in Rockefeller Hall. The lecture was sponsored by the Physics department with co-sponsorship by Women’s Students and the Science, Technology and Society Program. “I think that those who attend the lecture will get an extremely informative, first-hand account of the work that led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, undoubtedly one of the most significant scientific discoveries of our time,” said Vice President of Communications Susan Dekrey before the event took place. Dekrey explained, “Professor Wu generously reached out to the college to be able to include time with Vassar students and faculty, as well as with a campus and community audience, during her current trip to the U.S. We are thrilled to have her—a noted scholar and scientist, and alumna—talk about her role in this groundbreaking research.” Indeed, during her speech, Wu not only talked about the work that went into the particle’s discovery, but she also talked about its importance and future applications. “The Higgs particle was a missing cornerstone of the so called Standard Model of Physics, which is a theory which described how the known particles of the universe interact with one another,” said Wu during her address on
Alumna San Lan Wu ’63 contributed to CERN’s discovery of the Higgs Boson, a particle that explains how elementary particles acquire mass. She returned to campus Monday to discuss her experiences. Monday night. There are 17 subatomic particles that explain how matter behaves, and the Higgs Boson particle is the last to be formally discovered. While scientists knew that particle theoretically had to exist, they lacked physical evidence for its existence. “The Higgs particle is responsible for all the masses of the universe, hence the title the ‘God Particle’,” said Wu. She continued,“From the electron, to humans, and on to galaxies. Without this particle the world would not exist as we know it. There would be no ordinary matter, no atoms, no molecules, no human beings.”
In addition to the importance of the find, Wu also spoke briefly about the methods which were ultimately used to find the particle. “The most effective way to produce a Higgs particle is to collide two gluons. Protons have three quarks and what is binding the quarks and creating the interaction between the quarks are the gluons,” Wu said, explaining the process the researchers used. She continued, “Thus the gluons are a strong force and their interaction is what produces the Higgs particles.” Overall, students found this explanation of the process accessible “It was a really good talk and I’ve always been interested in quan-
tum physics, but I never really understood or could grasp the entirety of what the experts were talking about. It was pretty straight forward and I was able to follow along,” said Ethan Rundell ’13, a Biology major. Math and Political Science double major Robert Ronan ’15 agreed, stating, “I’m pretty interested in science and it’s apparently the most important discovery of the century so I thought it was worth a few hours of my evening. She continued, “Before the talk I was well informed in the non-technical sense so I was able to understand everything pretty well.” In addition to speaking about her most recent research, Wu also took time to speak about her experience at Vassar. “During my years at Vassar, I buried myself in the basement [of the] library and avoided the busloads of Yale men,” she said lightly of her time here, also giving insight to her work ethic. More seriously, Wu went to speak about her experience as a female in a largely male dominated field. “For graduate school I went to Harvard and I had a very hard time studying since women were not allowed in the boys dorms to study. Thus, being the only women in my class, things were not easy,” Wu said. She continued, “At the end of my first year I was awarded a Master’s degree. That was the first year women were allowed to receive a Harvard degree.” Despite these challenges, Wu has had a very fruitful and successful career, which she believes Vassar was instrumental in helping her to achieve. Wu said, “Vassar College has given me the exclusive opportunity to come to America and paved my way to a successful career. So I feel that my share of the Higgs discovery belongs to Vassar College.”
Hanlon’s Midnight Question encourages contemplation
Emily Lavieri-Scull/The Miscellany News
Assistant Director of Residential Wellness Terry Hanlon poses reflectively for a photo for The Miscellany News. Hanlon is behind the Midnight Question, which he hopes will be a resource for students. Lily Choi
nvariably, every Sunday night, many Vassar students are furiously trying to complete all of their homework before the dreaded Monday morning rears its head. During this Sunday scramble, emails from Assistant Director of Residential Wellness and House Advisor for Cushing and Noyes Terry Hanlon, containing the “Midnight Question” find their way into students’ inboxes. These emails might ask you to reflect on what kinds of people or ideologies motivate you, or ask how you define your cultural or social identity. The questions are short and are sometimes followed by quotes or YouTube clips, but they always ask us to reflect on and challenge who we are, what we believe in, what we strive for, and how we can improve ourselves. In a recent email, the quote “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures” by Cesar Chavez was written. With the questions such
as, “What groups/cultures do you identify with? How does that impact who you are and how you view others? How can you work to continue to bridge differences?” being asked. Ideally, the questions stop students—at least for a moment—in the midst of their scramble and reflect. “When I first came to Vassar, last year, I was encouraged to increase students’ reflective practices through my position as Assistant Director for Residential Wellness Programs,” said Hanlon in an emailed statement. “After researching different possible methods, I remembered a phrase I heard at a conference which referred to ‘Midnight Questions’ as big, life questions.” Hanlon further said, “After discussing with students and other administrators, I decided to send the first one out via my house email lists as a pilot.” The first emails were sent to Cushing and Noyes in February, after which Hanlon sent out a Google survey in which he received overwhelmingly positive response from students
with 83% of the respondents reporting that they enjoyed the weekly questions. Hanlon then opened up Midnight Questions to the entire campus. The Midnight Questions range from the personal to the community-oriented. Hanlon explained, “The inspiration has been large campus events, such as All College Day and Founder’s Day, the timing of the question (midterms, beginning of the year, etc.), or campus issues, such as the recent vandalism.” He continued on the topic of inspiration “Other times, the inspiration has simply been because of a question someone posed to me that week.” It is during these times, when students are affected by personal or communal matters, that Hanlon encourages students to reflect on the Midnight Question. “In general, my goal for the Midnight Questions is to be a resource for students on a weekly basis,” said Hanlon “I know that some weeks, students feel really stressed because of class, friend/relationship drama, family issues, etc. It’s during those weeks that I hope those students use the MQ as an extra tool to help them through that tough time,” Hanlon added. Students appreciate the break Midnight Questions provide them from their busy schedules and late night study sessions. “People often lose touch with themselves, their greater goals and ideas when they get so consumed by school work and school life in general,” said Laura Webber ’15. She continued, “It is so important for people to connect with their true selves and we are very rarely provided the opportunity to do so. Midnight Questions provide one of these rare opportunities.” Cushing President Benedict Nguyen ’15 also recognizes the ways in which the Midnight Questions could help strengthen community bonds between students, particularly within a dorm community setting. Nguyen wrote in an emailed statement, “I think Midnight Questions provide a great opportunity for Cushing residents to reflect on the week they just finished and the week they have ahead.” “As many [Cushing residents] are in the
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
building when the MQs are sent out, it’s also a chance to think about and engage in the Cushing community,” said Nguyen explaining the benefits of the questions. Despite this positive response to these Midnight Questions, Hanlon understands that many students might have difficulty finding the time to reflect. “I have heard some students say ‘I’m too stressed to think about [the MQ] now,’” he said. “That’s ok. I hope they file that question away, and revisit it as a way to reflect and learn from that stress and move forward with new ways to mitigate stress.” With the fast-paced lives Vassar students lead, it is often difficult to maintain the sense of contemplation that the Midnight Question hopes to inspire. “In my experience, people don’t talk about [the Midnight Question] that much past Sunday night,” Nguyen said. He continued, “Perhaps having a forum for them to be discussed somewhere could be useful (maybe Monday’s Tea in the Rose Parlor?). Or, short responses could be emailed to Terry and be posted online for students to read.” “I think it would be great if Midnight Question responses went up on an anonymous forum,” suggested Webber. “I guess it would kind of be like ‘SayAnything’ [the WordPress blog] but in response to specific questions. I think it would be wonderful for the community to share these ideas. It might allow for people to feel closer as a community as well,”offered Webber. Through Midnight Questions, Hanlon hopes that students will learn the same reflective practices that will help them throughout their lives that he learned himself. Hanlon said, “I hope students see the Midnight Question as something that can help them to establish or continue their contemplative practices.” He continued, “Reflection and contemplative practices have been proven to aid students’ leadership abilities, spiritual wellness, intellectual esteem, and are integral aspects of learning from one’s experiences.” He finished, “I can only hope that students see some benefit from these questions at least one week, if not more.”
October 25, 2012
Autumn in the Hudson Valley incomplete without apples Alessandra Seiter Guest Columnist
courtesy of Alessandra Seiter
ainbow-hued leaves fluttering on the quad, a refreshing crispness in the air, earnest discussions of Halloween costumes among students—autumn has arrived, carrying with it a great deal of hearty, cold-weather fruits and vegetables. Roasted butternut squash, beets, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts abound in the All Campus Dining Center, while pumpkin-laden baked goods dominate the content of everyone’s sweet tooth-induced cravings. However, none of fall’s edible bounty comes in more varieties or remains as universally popular as the apple. To aid you in achieving the most enjoyable apple experience this autumn, here is a guide to the flavors and textures of different types of apples, all of which you can find every Thursday at the Arlington Farmers Market, as well as the recipe for a delectable apple-centric dessert that requires no more than five ingredients and 20 minutes of your valuable time. Cortland: An offspring of the Macintosh originating in Geneva, New York, Cortland sports a sweet, vinous flavor underneath their red-flushed skins that lends itself well to both cooked applications and eating out of hand. Interestingly, Cortland does not brown as quickly as other apples when cut. Empire: Comprising 60% of New York’s apple exports, Empire boasts a crisp texture, bright white flesh, and intriguingly sweet flavor redolent of melon or pineapple. You won’t find any off-putting brown spots on this apple’s intensely maroon-red skin, since Empire does not bruise easily. Fuji: Hailing from Japan, the Fuji’s defining characteristic, derived from its parent apples of Red Delicious and Ralls Janet, is its gorgeous pink-speckled skin flushed over a yellow-green background. Predominantly
sweet, refreshingly crisp, and quite juicy, Fuji tastes best when freshly eaten rather than cooked. Gala: Though apple purists tend to dismiss common “supermarket” apple varieties like Gala as bland and boring, Gala, especially when freshly picked, often harbors pear-like flavor qualities and taste dependably sweet. Honeycrisp: The undisputed king of all apples in my humble opinion, Honeycrisp features an intensely sweet flavor with pleasantly acidic undertones and a light crunchiness ideal for out-of-hand eating. Developed in the 1960s by the University of Minnesota to tolerate the bitterly cold winters of some regions of the United States, the Honeycrisp sports a red-orange blush over a light green-yellow background. Jonagold: a cross between a Jonathan and a Golden Delicious, as suggested by its name, Jonagold carries three sets of genes, contributing to its large size. Jonagold’s gleaming white flesh carries a sweet flavor balanced with generous notes of acidity, and lends itself well to a variety of applications, including fresh eating, cooking, juicing, or brewing into hard cider. McIntosh: Discovered by John McIntosh in the early 19th Century, the McIntosh has become a highly influential apple variety with numerous offspring. The McIntosh’s incredibly strong genes pass invariably to its descendants, always imparting crimson-colored skin, bright white flesh, and a sweet yet acidic flavor with a hint of wine. Winesap: A well-known heirloom apple dating back to the 18th Century, Winesap functions primarily as a culinary apple for cooking and juicing, though it harbors a nicely aromatic flavor when eaten fresh. Winesap trees boast unusually red blossoms, rendering them highly desirable for owners of apple orchards.
This delicious 5 ingredient apple pie is a great way to take advantage of Hudson Valley’s bountiful array of apples including Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, McIntosh and Winesap. 5 ingredient apple pie. | Makes one 9-inch pie.
Ingredients: 3 cups nuts (walnuts, almonds, and pecans all taste great here; if you’d like to save money, however, sunflower seeds cost less and work just as well.) 1 1/2 cups raisins, divided 4 of your favorite medium apples, thinly sliced into half moons 1 tbsp cinnamon 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the nuts or sunflower seeds and 1 cup of the raisins until finely ground. Press two-thirds of the dough into the bottom
of a pie pan, reserving the last third to form a lattice topping for the pie, and place the pan in the freezer to firm up. Meanwhile, place the apple slices in a large bowl. Blend the remaining 1/2 cup of raisins, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, and 3 tbsp of water in the food processor until smooth and pour over the apple slices, stirring well to coat. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and, working in circles from the outside in, layer all of the coated apple slices into the pie pan. On a cutting board or counter, press the remaining dough into as thin of a rectangle as possible. Cut the dough into strips and arrange them on top of the pie in a criss-crossing pattern to form a lattice crust.
Writing Center gives support to writers of all disciplines Marie Solis reporter
Jiajing Sun/The Miscellany News
very student knows the feeling all too well—it’s Sunday night and that one paper is still hanging over your head. Maybe you just don’t know where to start, or you’re too intimidated by the prospect of writing eight to ten pages about Marxist feminism. Whatever the problem, the Writing Center can help. The Writing Center is located in the library in Room 122 and it is open Sundays through Thursdays from 3 to 11 p.m. During this time, students at any stage in the writing process can seek the counsel of fellow student consultants. One such consultant is Sophia Wassermann ’13 who has been working at the Center for three years. Like all consultants, she was required to take the course Process, Prose, and Pedagogy before she could be interviewed for employment at the Writing Center.“We didn’t focus as much on what a writing consultant meant as much as what it meant to be a writer in academia. The course is really central to how I think about writing but not necessary to how I work as a consultant. I learned a lot of things by trial and error,” she said. Though the class was meant to prepare her to help others with their writing, it inevitably helped Wassermann with her own writing process as well. “I write much more slowly than I used to,” she said. “I think about every step a lot more: I think about what I’m doing as I’m outlining, thinking directly about the structure I’m creating. I start analyzing my own papers as I’m creating them.” For this reason it has become necessary for Wassermann to avoid procrastination as best she can—not the easiest task, but she said it has its benefits. “It’s taken away some writer’s block and it makes writing less stressful. I know that I need to start days in advance. I can write a little bit and come back to it,” said Wassermann. Wassermann is an Environmental Studies major and while it may seem as though writing might not play a huge role in her field, she says it’s central to not only her field, but all sciences. “I think scientists are generally poor communicators; they don’t know how to address someone without the same background as they do. It’s really important to translate science so
Shruti Manian ’14 and Sophie Wassermann ’13 wait to critique students’ essays at the Writing Center. The Center employs students across all disciplines and can help at any stage of the writing process. people can understand it,” she said, adding she thinks the lack of public understanding that comes with poor communication is a problem. Writing Center Director Matthew Schultz drew on Wassermann’s beliefs as a reason why the center can be useful across majors. “A writer can come in and talk to someone who really knows the subject well, but can also talk to someone outside of their discipline. A Philosophy major can sit down with an Economics major and make sure someone outside the specialization can understand the piece. It makes sure the writer can communicate their ideas to someone not familiar with the content. That’s the key to any successful writing center,” he said. Odile Carroll ’15, a frequent visitor of the writing center, has sought consultation most recently for her Sociology class. “My biggest issue and insecurity about writing is definitely in organization and coherency, which is what I go to the writing center for the most,” Carroll said. She went on to advise, “It’s always easier for
them to have something to actually work with, which is why it’s ideal to go in with a working draft, no matter how ‘in progress’ you feel it is.” Freshman Writing Seminar professors often encourage or require their students to visit the Writing Center at least once: for many students the transition from high school writing to college writing can be difficult. “I think the transition for freshmen is to present your own ideas rather than collecting ideas from other people. Writing with focus and clarity. I think college writing is mostly about making sure your point is conveyed directly, strongly and with nuance,” Wassermann said. Helping students find their strength in college writing is certainly a challenge, but Wasserman meets it with enthusiasm. She said, “I think this is the best possible campus job. You get to read fascinating papers from classes you’ll never be able to take and papers written by very smart people.” Wassermann and her colleagues’ dedica-
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tion does not go unnoticed. Carroll praised the Writing Center for helping her make the transition to college and continue to help her strengthen her skills: “Everyone who works there is absolutely fantastic, and very well trained. Plus it helps that these guys actually have a passion for writing, which I unfortunately lack. They’re always able to help me organize my thoughts and articulate what I actually want to say; sessions are much more like conversation,” she said. Schultz found the dedication of the consultants just as remarkable, stating, “If there’s one thing I’d like [students] to know about the center is that the staff is very much interested in issues surrounding reading and writing: they live for this. They’re a really tight knit group always talking to each other about their own writing projects, their strategies for consultees—they get together socially as well. The consultants love what they do.” An essential part of the Writing Center’s dynamics relies on the relationship between a consultant and their “client.” In a sense, students who seek assistance from consultants are like customers: they aren’t always right, but they do get to call some of the shots. “We let the writer really set the agenda. We ask them to tell us a little bit about the project, where are they in the assignment and what kind of feedback they want,” said Schultz. In addition to making the consultations more casual, the Writing Center’s consultants keep the bigger picture in mind when helping their peers. Of this, Wasserman said, “We’re focused on improving the writer as well as the piece of writing—it’s a larger process, one that fits in with going to school and learning new things. While we do fix problems it’s more about learning to write better in a broader sense.” Though helping students’ to improve their writing is one of the Writing center’s primary goals, Schultz stresses the center as a place where the literary project becomes a communal one. Schultz concluded, “The Writing Center is a place where the true transfer of knowledge can occur. The implicit mission of the liberal arts is to show multidisciplinary knowledge and the writing center makes that an explicit practice.”
October 25, 2012
Librarians Campus volunteers believe Maloney will to conduct better represent a changing Hudson Valley focus groups ELECTION continued from page 1
RESEARCH continued from page 5
DeJong said. To further figure out how to reach the most students, the research librarians will be conducting focus groups. “We really would like to hear what students think, then we can hear directly from the students. We really do welcome opportunities to hear back,” said Durniak. The librarians also recommend starting work early. “Early and often is when people should start doing their research. We don’t just say that. We see people suffer when they try to do their research two days before its due,” said Lieb. “One of the hallmarks of the Vassar education is that exploration, the serendipity, and giving yourself time to let things unfold. You start in one place and it can go in many different directions,” said Durniak. The real treasures of the vast Vassar library lie not just in the resources themselves, but in those who can light the path to finding those hidden obscure primary sources. There are so many different sources that can’t always be uncovered without help. Luckily, our librarians have a passion for helping students to uncover these sources. Bucher explained further, “I think most people go into librarianship because we love academics in a way and we love the intellectual process of thinking and research and reading, and its just a lot of fun to see people progress in their thinking about a project. She finished, “It’s extremely enjoyable for us to watch and be a part of that.”
balancing the budget by ending tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. In an interview with The Miscellany News, the congressional hopeful elaborated on elaborated on the importance of keeping higher education affordable, and how he believes it affects students’ post-graduation employment opportunities. “If you come out of college with $150,000 worth of debt, like some of the kids I know, it really does affect what you can do afterwards,” he said. “It puts an enormous amount of pressure on kids who might want to be teachers, who might want to serve their communities, who might want to do other things that aren’t just about making money and paying off their loans.” In order to help loan-burdened students, Maloney believes that there should be a system in place that allows post-graduates to pay off their debts by participating in community service programs. Additionally, the congressional candidate expressed interest in creating a system that allows post-graduates to pay off student loans as a percentage of future income. Ultimately, Maloney sees college affordability as linked to both job creation and the health of the economy as a whole. “We have to get smart about how we approach job creation.” He continued, “The number one thing is to get our fiscal house in order, and to continue to make investments in our people and their education, in innovation, and in as well as technology of the future so that we can grow this economy again and help create more jobs for all of you.” Maloney is contesting fiscal conservative Nan Hayworth who, before being elected to
Congress in 2010, was a practicing ophthalmologist. Although Maloney describes his opponent as a socially conservative Tea Party candidate, Hayworth has historically been described as considerably moderate on social issues. Though she is personally pro-choice, The New York Times’ Oct. 21 editorial endorsing Maloney stated that Hayworth has voted to cease funding for Planned Parenthood and has favored limiting contraception coverage for employees. Additionally, in terms of general health care, Hayworth opposes President Obama’s health care reforms. Research Librarian Gretchen Lieb, who ran for county legislature two years ago, works on the phone banks and canvassing for the Maloney campaign. “I have worked on campaigns since I was in college,” she said. Lieb fondly recalled working on Congressman John Hall’s campaign back in 2006. “It was the first time that a Democrat was elected in the region in a long time. Up until that point, this district had been seen as a solidly Republican district,” said Lieb. “It was really amazing.” According to Lieb, Nan Hayworth was elected when the Tea Party was gaining steam, and doesn’t represent the changing views of the area. “She is more conservative than our previous Republicans were. So this time, I felt like I had to get involved again.” As a veteran campaigner, Lieb noted the outstanding energy in the Maloney campaign. “Sometimes I feel discouraged that in campaign offices that everyone is over 65. But I have noticed that young people are getting involved. I think that is probably because of Obama—we are in a second Kennedy age,” she said. “I’ve been excited about how many Vassar students have asked me for a ride to the
campaign office.” David Lopez ’13, President of the Vassar Democrats, has also worked to mobilize Vassar students for the Maloney campaign. According to Lopez, his support for Maloney stems partly from his personal background. “Despite his success as a business owner and adviser to President Clinton, Maloney’s journey has not always been easy,” said Lopez. Lopez also noted that Maloney’s background as a social minority contributes to his appeal as a candidate. “As an openly gay candidate, Sean shows many people out there that he is not defined by one particular fact that comprises who he is. His struggles are relatable to many of us out here who sometimes feel that we cannot achieve things because of various barriers,” Lopez said. Maloney’s recent endorsement by The New York Times shows an interest in the campaign from outside of the district. Lieb cited the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Peekskill, N.Y. as an issue of interest for residents of New York City. “Nan Hayworth has taken thousands of dollars in campaign funding from the company that operates Indian Point nuclear power plant in Peekskill, N.Y. and has opposed working toward its closure, even though it poses a huge threat to have an aging nuclear reactor in the New York City metropolitan area.” Professor of History Rebecca Edwards, who also works on the campaign, agreed that this race is not just important to the Hudson Valley. “We live in one of those close swing districts where either we are going to continue to have a Tea Party Republican, or we are going to have a progressive Democrat. So I’m happy to help out.”
Federal aid mandate forces reconfiguration of VCharge Jessica Tarantine and Alyssa Aquino
Features Editors and Guest Reporter
t the end of last school year, students received an email alerting them that VCharge would be no longer accepted at the Book and Computer Store. To replace the system in which students could directly charge items purchased to their student accounts, the College is allowing students to charge up to $500 dollars in VCash to their student accounts. Director of Financial Aid Jessica Bernier explained,“Federal financial aid cannot be used to cover bookstore charges since the bookstore is operated by a third-party, in this case Barnes & Noble,” Bernier wrote in an emailed statement. “However, students could use their federal financial aid to create VCash, as this is through Vassar and not a third-party vendor.” Bernier explained the second reason for the change in policy, “Barnes & Noble had planned a computer upgrade this summer and there was concern that their new system and Vassar’s computer system would not interact properly or accurately,” wrote Bernier. For those student on financial aid, VCharge was used to purchase books and other items covered by aid. Now that VCharge is no longer an option students, can charge VCash to their accounts which can then be used to buy books another other items. This charge of VCash would then appear on student’s bill. She continued, “This alternative has allowed financial aid students to obtain their books at the beginning of the semester as they normally would, and they are still able to work on campus, and receive a paycheck, for a few weeks before this charge was due.” While this has ameliorated many of the would-be problems of the switch over, some issues still remain. “I used to buy books using VCharge, so the change is minorly inconvenient. But I do
understand that it is probably a good decision. Some students might make purchases without considering their parent’s finances,” said Shelby Johnson ’15. “We have not seen any major problems with this change, as we worked to create alternatives for all students with the use of VCash,” wrote Bernier. “The one minor problem may have been that the amount of VCash students were able to charge to their Student Account may not have been adequate to purchase all of their books, especially for students taking science courses. Some students were not happy with this change however. “If you’re on financial aid and the financial aid covers your books, your parents shouldn’t have to pay for your books [that aren’t covered by the $500,]” said Sarah Cooley ’15. To deal with issue of students who would like to have their book purchases covered by financial aid, the Office of Student Accounts is looking to increase the amount of VCash students can charge to their account in the spring semester. Despite these conversations, the exact amount of the increase is not currently known. “We believe that the policy change of eliminating VCharge at the bookstore will not affect students adversely. In the end we hope that it will create less confusion between the two alternatives (VCharge and VCash) that used to exist,” wrote Bernier. Overall, students have not reported many problems with the change. “I only used [VCharge] to buy books in most cases or some small thing from the bookstore,” said David Gonzales ’14. “I started buying everything online, so there would have been little use. I’ve actually only gotten one book this year so it hasn’t affected me very much.” In the end, it appears that many of the adverse effects of the changeover have been mitigated by the increasing number of students who buy books online.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
October 25, 2012
MISCELLANY NEWS STAFF EDITORIAL
Coverage and structure of debates limit serious discourse
inders of Women,” “Bayonets and Horses”—fastidious social and traditional media coverage of the Presidential debates delivers memorable punch lines and a surge of internet memes. While the constant status updates and tweets do indicate that people are at least watching the debates, we must move beyond mere caricatures of the election in order to make informed political decisions. We at The Miscellany News desire not only a more inclusive format for the debates, but also a more serious participation and interpretation by those watching the debates. Third party candidates should be included in the presidential debates. Despite the unlikelihood of a third party candidate winning the presidency due to the first past the post system or even a single state for that matter, their positions deserve to be heard by a wider audience. Without multiple voices, political discourse suffers from an unhealthy convergence of positions. For instance, in the second debate, both President Obama and Governor Romney argued that their respective policies would create more jobs in the oil industry. The problem emerges when both candidates tacitly agreed that the only acceptable way to talk about oil is to consider the amount of jobs it creates. The candidates are either dramatically polarized in their opinions or try to meet in the middle and stake a claim over the same view, implying that only one view is legitimate. Positions that go unrepresented at the debates become perceived as obscure and impractical. Climate change and alternative energy policies could have garnered more national
attention had the debates been expanded to include Green party candidate Jill Stein. If Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson was included in the debate, we may have heard more about drug decriminalization or civil liberty issues. By incorporating the voices of candidates outside the dominant party lines, we will not only see more potential for alternative politics and creative solutions, but also, the views and ideologies of citizens who do not associate themselves as Democrats or Republicans will be equally represented. Many Americans are reluctant to mark their ballots for a third party candidate, simply because they see doing so as wasted vote. Integrating the views of these candidates into the mainstream “official” sphere of candidate debate would level the playing field and give more validity to the practice of voting outside the two-party system. The inclusion of a third party candidate may also broaden the scope of topics covered at the debates. Over the last three debates, tax rates and cuts, the oil race and foreign policy seemed to hog the spotlight in the presidential election. We at The Miscellany News were left unsatisfied with the coverage of problems relating to education, homelessness and poverty, and would have appreciated more emphasis on social issues. Because presidential campaigns end up depending so heavily on undecided voters in swing states, the issues that receive the most attention in the debates (or the election, for that matter) are not necessarily relevant to citizens outside of this group. Both candidates relentlessly promise to aid the middle class
and in doing so neglect the struggles of those who will not be casting the election’s deciding votes from Ohio, such as the urban poor. This issue stems from systemic problems in the American electoral system. The predictable nature of the Electoral College means that candidates manipulate their positions to appeal to a small demographic of undecided voters in swing-states. Also, the immense responsibilities of the President make fitting all topics that merit discussion with constituents functionally impossible. The average Vassar student is ill equipped to fix these problems, but there are ways we could get more out of the debates. First, we think it is important to verify what the candidates say during debates. The moderators are limited in their ability to do so. Politicians have a penchant for misrepresenting each other and manipulating their records. Luckily, there exists a number of media outlets devoted to fact-checking: Politifact and FactCheck.org are two of many. Consult at least one of these to better understand the background surrounding contentious claims. When watching post-debate commentary be conscious of the partisan analysis presented by many news outlets. It is important to watch these programs critically and not be spoon-fed what to believe. Tuning in to the pundits can reveal biases and perspectives, but exclusive adherence to one source or side leads down the road of close-mindedness. Use social media responsibly. No doubt we all got a good laugh out of the Big Bird antics, but basing your understanding of the election and issues at stake off of Twitter is
not a good idea. The most-liked status, most retweeted update or most popular meme should not govern our opinions of who “won” the debates. Social media has a place in political discourse but it needs to be used correctly. Use it as a jumping-off point for learning about topics and be wary of joining the online echo chamber. Finally, remember where you are. Real person-to-person discussions are considerably more productive than the back and forth banter common on social media sites. Use the packed parlors and MPRs after the debates to discuss and further test your own assumptions and beliefs. We live in a hot bed for critical discourse aimed to challenge the way our country is run. Seeking conversation outside of your friend group is also a productive way to evaluate perspectives of the election. The time it takes to learn more about your country and the people making the decisions that will affect you and the world at large is more than worth it. It is our responsibility to bring more legitimacy into the election process and social commentary that surrounds it. We must not forget that the views expressed in the debates may one day be put into practice. Holding the candidates accountable for their claims, questioning the accepted structure of the debates, and participating in constructive conversations about our future leaders is the only way to keep the presidential election in check, to prevent it from spiraling downward into little more than a media spectacle. —The Staff Editorial represents the opinion of two-thirds of the 14 member Editorial Board
Dual visions of the future Constructing an identity in for Vassar and Juliet’s Cafe the age of social networking Justin Saret
t a meeting of the Board of Trustees two weeks ago, the Trustees opted to not to approve the current contract with Barnes and Noble to turn the Cafe into a Barnes & Noble bookstore—a $5 million investment—but decided instead to try to renegotiate. In this piece I imagine two possible futures for the Juliet Cafe on Collegeview Avenue. Barnes and Noble, Collegeview Avenue:
The new place is already old and dead, and looks like a supermodel: smiling, plastic, starving. The books are generally undisturbed, slumbering peacefully in crowded shelves. For a few weeks at the beginning of the semester the textbook section was ruffled and loud with the complaints of students contemplating the walk back to campus, but now it’s generally pretty quiet, even for a bookstore. Every once in a while someone has the gall to pick up his cell phone, because the other patrons don’t have a constituency of silence to defend. It has decimated the block in much the same manner as a muscle-bound jock crashing through a sandcastle to catch a football. Sixty-one professors said it would hurt the district; an ad-hoc committee of students said it would do so as well, particularly local businesses such as the Crafted Kup; reflecting on the lack of success, the Administration said this outcome was “totally unexpected and highly regrettable.” Wednesdays are slow days at the Bookstore. Well, weekdays in general are slow days. And on Sundays there isn’t much traffic. But, as the saying goes, a college is a business, and it’s a business’s business to get more business, after all, so why not invest in a business, for business’ sake? What sort of alternative was there? But now Vassar students have two new spaces! What can we say about them, though? The first, on Barnes and Noble’s second floor, is a library-away-from-library. Here students can escape the suffocating atmosphere of campus for the suffocating atmosphere of an emp-
ty corporate bookstore; or, if some kids from Poughkeepsie don’t bother to keep their voices down, they have the opportunity to post something passive-aggressive and vaguely classist or racist on SayAnything. The second space resides in the awkward cramped room across from the Mug. For some reason it too has failed to bring a freshness to campus. Two investments, zero returns. Juliet Performance Space, Collegeview Avenue:
We’ve got a little bit of everything this week. Early on we’ll have showings from the Drama and Film departments and a conversation with student and community artists about a new exhibit in the gallery. Assorted seniors will present capstone projects in History, Chemistry, and American Culture. A town hall will congregate on Tuesday and a community group is scheduled for Thursday. The award-winning Poughkeepsie Institute has been revived and is set to bring together five area colleges and city activists for a collaborative learning experience. Some kids from VAST might show up during the week to play pool, read, or grab some ice cream or baked goods. In future weeks some of their friends might tag along. We’ve posted a sign-up sheet, advertising music lessons from Vassar students. On the second floor, which is reserved for homework, people can study in solitude. Also, we think Vassar students may begin to notice a renewed sense of direction on campus. With the ability to live life outside the boundaries of school, there emerges a heightened consciousness about what it means to be a student at Vassar and a citizen of the world. The students are performing their real life, after all, and isn’t education just a long rehearsal before a longer performance? We must once again give a big thanks to the Class of 2013 Senior Gift for making this all possible! —Justin Saret ’15 is a potential Urban Studies major at Vassar College.
f one thing can be determined from the short twenty years that we’ve had access to the Internet, it’s that it has become the basis of the most powerful and conversation-shaping social system in the world. Never before in history have people been able to communicate with one another across so many different countries, as well as communicate in manners never seen before. The Internet is changing the rules of how we expect people to communicate; both in how broadly we can speak, and in the manner in which we do so. We are not only able to speak to a broader group of people, but are pushed to express ourselves more openly and freely than ever before. Our ability to find broad audiences has made accessibility the most apparent change that the Internet has brought people who wish to make their ideas known. While it may have once sounded unusual to know acquaintances and friends from beyond the United States, it’s easier than ever to interact with people from all over the world, and to be exposed to cultures unlike our own. This exposure has opened up great new avenues for learning and collaboration like never before. This sort of communication was never before possible, and it continues to bridge clashing societies in ways we could never before anticipate.
“Our ability to find broad audiences has made accessibility the most apparent change the Internet has brought.” JoSH SHerMan ’16 The second change that the Internet has brought to us is much more subtle; it is changing how we speak, and how we identify ourselves when we speak. The power of the Inter-
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net is derived not only from the access we have to so many different places and ideas, but how we can change who we are when we communicate by changing our identity, or by creating a new one altogether. Never before has this been possible, and websites that center on anonymity have proliferated because of this. A quick survey of sites within our own community, such as SayAnything, LikeMeMaybe, and even Vassar Student Bodies, show just how much we love to contribute to communities when we have anonymity on our side. Along with this ability to create a new identity, we can also apply our own identities with sites like Twitter and Facebook, which allow us to communicate more openly, but also force us to maintain a direct connection to the real world. While sites that are anonymous offer complete, consequence-free expression, Twitter and Facebook keep consequences on the table, as people can quickly identify what you say on these sites with who you are in the real world. Despite this fact, people enjoy the exposure they get from their expressions on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and this fuels the transition to openness in our real-world manners of speech. This transition to more free and expressive speech is visible, and is being fueled by our ability to go online and speak with identities that we can choose and choose not to associate with. Just as the Internet has expanded our free speech, it has also influenced the spread of our speech into the real world, where the raw, instant communication of the Internet has begun to affect how we speak amongst friends and family. While the deformalization of discourse seems to encourage a less constructed, coherent, and developed method of communication, it also develops honest and free expression. This is something we desperately need in our society, particularly in the context of the current election season. Social networks may not facilitate Lincoln-Douglas debates, but they will make us more honest and free as we speak. —Josh Sherman is a freshman studying at Vassar College.
October 25, 2012
Refusing to vote not a legitimate form of political protest Evan Seltzer
hinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.” A great man said this decades ago. Was he a politician running for office? No. Was he a modern philosopher pontificating on the nature of democracy? No. He was a poet. His name was Robert Frost. We, the executive committee of R.E.V. Up, wish to respond to a recent article published in the Opinions sections of the Miscellany News (“Refuting Vassar’s Get-out-the-vote ethos”, 10.04.2012) by a Vassar student who explained why he does not vote. Branden Densmore, in a well written piece, justified his rejection of participating in our democracy. Before we go any further, we’d like to acknowledge the courage it takes to publish such a controversial piece in the college’s newspaper; there are not too many of us who would publicly defend such an antagonistic viewpoint. While we recognize Densmore’s brave action, we must debunk the idea that he is “protesting our political system by...removing [himself] from the political game of voting politics.” If there is an injustice, but no one opposes it, is it even an injustice? If no one rejects an inequity then it will persist indefinitely, becoming less of an injustice and more of an unfortunate reality. Women’s suffrage was not achieved by Americans rejecting our political system for its inherent misogyny. Assume most Americans believed women deserved the right to vote but “removed [themselves] from playing the political game of voting politics.” Would their “knowing themselves and
studying the world” have been “far more effective tools for shaping our democracy” than the constitutional amendment that enfranchised women? If American citizens had not taken to the polls to elect representatives who voted “Yea” on the 19th Amendment, then women would still be confined to silence, regardless of how well our citizens had educated themselves on women’s suffrage. What influence does even a prodigious amount of knowledge have relative to a single vote? It is not the most educated who affect change in this country; it is the largest number of people who electorally support an issue. Densmore dismisses voting because “both presidential candidates are like salesmen, trying to sell us their alleged vision or ideology.” Densmore, like many Americans, does not emphatically endorse either candidate. That is fine. But let’s not have the perfect be the enemy of the good. Whoever is elected this November—to the presidency or to Congress, or the local city council—will have a substantial impact on our lives. All of us have ideals which would be better represented by one of the candidates who is running for office than any of the others. Just because our beliefs may not match up well, or even adequately, with those of our candidates, does not mean we should refuse to choose who will influence our lives. That is no form of protest, merely a hollow excuse to neglect our own circumstances. Compare the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street. Both movements have promoted their own ideals, and we are not endorsing one or the other, but they have one consequential dif-
Fireproof couches highlight Vassar’s sustainability drive Alistair Hall
hen students returned to school this past August, those living in the TAs, THs, or dorm suites probably noticed a new addition to their living space: couches! Thanks to a change in New York State law regarding fire safety on college campuses, the average piece of upholstered furniture from home now does not meet new standards for fire retardancy. As Vassar wanted to make sure that students were not left with empty living rooms, a focus group comprised of students and people from Purchasing and ResLife made the decision to provide all apartment spaces on campus with furniture. So how did Vassar go about acquiring 314 identical couches that meet and exceed these new fire safety standards in time for August move in on a tight budget? This is where the women of Vassar’s Purchasing Department, Rosaleen Cardillo and Karen Gallagher, come in. While the scale and timeline of this order certainly appeared to make this a daunting task, in many ways this was just another day in the Purchasing Department. The couches you now see in your TA, TH, or suite are just some of the items on campus that have come about from the work of Purchasing and are emblematic of the sustainability principles that Rosaleen and Karen, like employees in many other college departments, having been practicing day-today before it became vogue. For instance, in North Lot there are two Zipcars that students may rent by the hour, thanks to some crafty bargaining in Purchasing. We can also thank Purchasing for providing students with LaundryView, the online tool that lets you avoid those treks down four flights of stairs only to find there are still twenty minutes left on your dryer cycle. Less noticeable but just as important is that Vassar now only purchases furniture and supplies, including carpeting, that are PVC-free (or in some few cases 99% free). Even less known to the broader public is that, just as Vassar has maintained its strong commitment to diversity through affordability, access and admissions, for as long as Rosaleen and Karen can remember, Vassar College has also “committed to actively developing supplier diversity by supporting Minority Busi-
ness Enterprises (MBE) and Women Business Enterprises.” Within the context of this commitment, Vassar made over $1.1 million in purchases in fiscal year 2012 from minority- and women-owned businesses. What’s more is that this commitment binds us to buying locally (defined as a fifty-mile radius around the campus). So, when confronted with the problem of purchasing 314 couches, we chose to partner with a local company that we’ve worked with in the past. However, because Vassar learned about these new standards in Spring 2012, we could not simply flip through the furniture catalogue and select “This one!” hoping it would arrive in time for August. Vassar had to actually have couches fabricated from scratch, a process that included running flame tests to make sure the couches met fire safety standards. Said flame tests are exactly what they sound like— setting a model couch on fire, and monitoring how long it takes to burn and what kind of smoke is produced. This flame test had to be performed not once but three times; once because the first proposed model simply failed. The second time around, the model passed with flying colors but was then vetoed because there was not enough of the selected fabric in the United States and so it would had to be sourced from China. The third proposed couch, which now resides in your TA, did indeed pass the flame test and fabrication could begin. The fabric chosen could not only be sourced locally but also came Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified, verifying that the fabric meets strict chemical emission limits. Reactions overall have been positive. I hear the couches are easy to clean, which means they should last well from year to year. As for the new fire codes, we will need to overhaul how SWAPR works in August 2013, as the sale of couches has in the past enabled the program to break even. However, it could help students save some money during senior year and we now can investigate opening up SWAPR to the Poughkeepsie community. Doing so would continue the service of preventing usable things from entering the waste stream while also providing good quality items at low cost. —Alistair Hall ’11 is the Assistant for Sustainability Activities for the College Committee on Sustainability.
ference: The Tea Party immerses itself in electoral politics while Occupy Wall Street does not. The reasons for this are important but not instrumental to our argument. The Tea Party induced the election of 87 new members of Congress, drastically changing our government and the temperament of our country. Dozens of laws were, or were not, enacted because of these 87 new representatives. Whether you want to be or not, whether you care or not, you and three hundred million other Americans have been greatly affected by these new Tea Party members. The Occupy Movement has not elected a single politician. It has not directly, or by proxy, engendered the passage of a single law or the veto of a single bill. The Occupy Movement has not facilitated a single regulation by the government on a Fortune 500 Corporation. While it has indeed produced much needed debates about issues such as income disparity, Occupy Wall Street has not changed our country like the Tea Party has. Its lack of involvement in electoral politics has so far been its most defining characteristic—and its greatest weakness. Densmore states he is “taking back [his] power from our social expectations.” What power is there in silence? What power has any activist in the history of our country had against those who go to the polls? Unless you condone the use of violence against fellow citizens, the answer to both those questions is none. 44 percent of the voting-age population did not voice their opinion in the 2008 presidential election. 100 million citizens did not make use of the most direct instrument avail-
able to affect the circumstances of their lives, the lives of their families, or the lives of those they care about. Now, many citizens did not have the opportunity to vote and we are not castigating them for this; we are simply highlighting the result of their inaction. Densmore believes he is “refusing to go along with the crowd” by declining to effect change, yet this is no original act. His failure to make a choice at the polls relegates him to a demographic composed of almost half this country. He believes he is rejecting social conformity, but he is simply succumbing to its influence. His refusal to go to the voting booth has left power exclusively in the hands of the very social pressures he deplores. It does not matter if you agree with our initiative’s methods of celebrating our fellow students for their political activity. But there is a negligence endemic to our college in making use of our valuable education. We are among the most educated citizens in this country, yet a refusal to vote makes us no more influential than a child that is subservient to the will of a parent. What use is our education if we choose to confine it to our minds? Are our profound thoughts and ideas meaningful if their power is not actualized through the voting booth, the most powerful tool for social change at our disposal? When deciding whether to utilize the power that billions in this world can only dream about having, you must recognize one axiom: Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting. —Evan Seltzer ’14 is a political science major. He is the Executive Director of R.E.V. Up.
Presidential debates push climate change off agenda Gabe Dunsmith
Assistant Opinions Editor
his year’s presidential debates could be described as sickening for a variety of reasons. But perhaps one of the most appalling aspects of this verbal brawl between two wealthy elites is the failure of both candidates to do so much as mention climate change. Four years ago, President Obama seemed to be the candidate who would be most likely to deal with global warming and climate change on a national level. He touted his support of climate change legislation during his 2008 campaign, and garnered massive support from environmental groups and concerned citizens alike. The past four years, in retrospect, have been the punchline to a grand joke, as Obama has babbled support for “clean coal,” promoted hydrofracking to extract natural gas, failed to clean up the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and supported Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic. A mere passing mention of climate change now and again does not excuse the President’s fossil fuel-intensive, extractive policies. Governor Romney, meanwhile, has declared his lust for coal, oil, and natural gas as if he’s a Gilded Age oil tycoon. During their second round of debates, both candidates lauded drilling, mining and dynamiting the earth to extinction. Climate change was not mentioned once, and a much-needed expansion of environmental protections—ones that would safeguard the health of American citizens—was left in the dust. The Obama-Romney solution for the climate crisis amounts to nothing more than the following: “Let’s drill ourselves into prosperity, health and happiness!” I’m not sure there’s ever been a larger lie in American politics. The blueprint of prosperity that the candidates envision is a prosperity that applies to the one percent, the corporate climate-wreckers that got us into this mess. It in no way represents a prosperity for the rest of us lowly citizens who will doubtlessly suffer as the planet warms. If you don’t own an oil company and personally pull the trigger to blow up West Virginia’s mountains for coal, Obama and Romney seem to say, you’re not a worthy American. Reinforcing the environmentally detrimental energy practices of the twentieth century is no answer to the problems of the twenty-first. Expanding extractive policies will only make
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
things worse. Both Obama and Romney push for policies that will entomb the planet in an oven of greenhouse gasses, damage food yields, raise sea levels, kill off plant and animal species, and siphon away biodiversity. With only a fossil-fuel-serving polity in power, the Deepwater Horizons and Hurricane Katrinas that are yet to come will disadvantage those who are already burdened by institutions of racism and classism in American society. Greedily gobbling up fossil fuels is no sound environmental policy. No matter who is elected, the President of the United States for the next four years will pursue an energy policy of more drills and more spills— and, subsequently, a policy of more human suffering. Energy policy, it seems, is a field in which Obama and Romney appear as best friends who try to one-up each other on drilling for oil on federal lands rather than ideological opponents. It might be illustrative to look at them, however, as co-conspirators in a corporate scheme to harvest the planet and profit off the wreckage that results. Both candidates have profited handsomely from fossil fuel handouts (no thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision), and each seems to be a puppet for the most profitable industry of all time, the fossil fuel extractors. With Obama and Romney pandering to Exxon and its ilk, the only solution to the current climate silence may be vigorous public pressure. Only by challenging the institutions that have consigned the planet to suffering can Americans force policymakers to curb the fossil fuel industry’s relentless assault on the Earth. The Obama-Romney climate silence proves that the fossil fuel industry has a stranglehold on environmental and energy policy and discourse in the United States. To change that, people have to organize—as protesters did last November, surrounding the White House in an effort to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from being built—and to bring attention to our burning planet. Only then can America possibly work to heal the Earth and dismantle systems of oppression that have dictated how our society is run for far too long. —Gabe Dunsmith ’15 is Assistant Opinions Editor for The Miscellany News. He is an Environmental Studies major and a member of the Vassar Greens.
October 25, 2012
Judging the debators’ styles of speech Why Obama sounded better than Romney Erin Boss
he 2012 Presidential Debates have come to a close, and the scores are in: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate in Denver, Colo., and President Barack Obama took the second in Hempstead, N.Y. and the third in Boca Raton, Fla. While, in an ideal world, voters would make their decision based on informed opinions and comparisons of the issues, the reality is that many voters judge the candidates superficially on criteria of charisma and image. A key factor in the creation of this cult of personality is speaking style. Romney’s speech is marked by a pattern of repetition. Among his most common rhetorical tics is the repetition of simple phrases, sometimes with minor rewording. A typical Romney-esque talking point is formed from a statement followed by a short sentence to reaffirm it: “I’ll tell you why it’s important to drill for domestic oil. Here’s why.” This works to Romney’s advantage in emphasizing certain points, clarifying for the audience where he’s going in his argument and creating an impression of strong resolve. Romney, however, has a particular habit of repeating filler words as he gathers his thoughts in extemporaneous speaking. For example, in the debate at Hofstra University, Romney’s opening remarks began, “Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate your—your question, and thank you for being here this evening and
to all of those from Nassau County that have come, thank you for your time. Thank you to Hofstra University and to Candy Crowley for organizing and leading this—this event. Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this— this debate.” The repetition of “your” and “this” makes Romney sound uncertain and nervous. As he warms up, the arbitrary repetition decreases, but he still has moments where he seems to stumble over a previous word as he organizes his sentence. As seen in the debate transcript, it makes for abundant use of the em dash in the middle of his remarks. While Romney falls back on repetition, Obama, on the other hand, has mastered the art of strategic pauses. The president takes numerous mid-sentence breaks that allow him to both slow his speech and sort his thoughts. Where Romney’s sentences barrel through awkward repetitions, Obama’s are steady and clear. Instead of sentences interspersed with em dashes, Obama’s seem to be littered with commas. In the Hofstra debate, when Obama said, “And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that we’ve created,” it was transcribed on Politico with the comma between “do” and “is” to represent Obama’s distinctive pause. Saturday Night Live sketches satirize Obama’s style by exaggerating his frequent stops that atomize his sentences into extremely short fragments. Obama may make the mis-
take of communicating in phrases rather than complete ideas, and the string of short sentences separated and divided by pauses may come across as abrasive to some viewers. The two candidates’ respective speaking styles were further demonstrated at the Lynn University debate on Oct. 22. Romney’s distinctive repetition made a reappearance. Said the governor, “This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world, and to America in particular, which is to see a—a complete change in the—the structure and the—the environment in the Middle East.” Obama maintained his cool, short sentences and brief phrases. “Well, my first job as Commander in Chief, Bob, is to keep the American people safe. And that’s what we’ve done over the last four years,” the President said in his reliably staccato manner. When Romney and Obama’s speaking styles are heard side by side, Obama sounds, frankly, more authoritative and suited for the position of President. His stops work in his favor by emphasizing his calm control, while Romney has the tendency to come across as rushed and scrambling for words. The lasting image, which leaves a strong impression in many Americans’ minds, is that Obama embodies the presidential manner in his rhetoric, while Romney comes up short in the same verbal prowess. —Erin Boss ’16 is a student at Vassar College.
What do you wish you did over October Break?
“I wish I went to a Caribbean beach.”
—Zach Bokhour ’16
“I wish I saw more sunlight.”
— Rafael Ricaurte ’13
Violence extends beyond Syrian borders as civil war continues with no end in sight Sara Lobo
he civil war in Syria is not simply an internal conflict. It has spread far beyond the boundaries of its country, and threatens to serve as the catalyst for violence and warfare across the international community. Since anti-government protests began in the spring of 2011, the authorities in Syria have engaged the military to attempt and stomp out dissent. Bashar al-Assad, the current President of Syria, was initially seen as a man who could reform the country and solve internal problems, nicknamed “The Hope” by many civilians. Rather than move the country towards reform, however, Assad has imposed a strict regime lacking basic personal freedoms, hence the onslaught of protests leading to the current civil war—with opposition forces as well as much of the international world calling for Assad’s resignation. Protests leading to the civil war began in Deraa in March 2011, when local residents gathered to demand the release of 14 schoolchildren who were arrested and tortured after writing rebellious slogans on the walls of their school. Soon after, further protests led security forces to open fire, killing five civilians. Since the conflict began, the UN estimates, more than 30,000 people have been killed. The opposition force in Syria, the Syrian National Council (SNC), includes the Muslim Brotherhood and has tried to collaborate with the Free Syrian Army, a group of army defectors. Ethnic and religious divisions within the opposition, however, keep it from being fully united, prolonging the state of violence and futile negotiations. Although the conflict in Syria is, at its core, political, there is an undercurrent of religious tension as well. Assad is a member of the Alawite Sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while the majority of the opposition are Sunni Muslims. The opposition has been trying to recruit Christians and members of other religious offshoots of Islam, and has become multifaceted across ethnic and religious borders. But this has also led to disunity. Despite discrepancies within the opposition, their general aims are to move to a more
democratic system, put an end to killing and torture, and release political prisoners. Assad has promised movements towards reform, yet no such action has taken place. He offered refugees amnesty and promised to release political prisoners in 2011, yet as many as 37,000 are still in jail. Assad’s lack of cooperation has caused many countries, including those in the Arab League, to impose sanctions on Syria and call for Assad’s resignation. President Obama enacted sanctions in May 2011, and stated that they would be withdrawn when Syria ends “its use of violence against its people and begins transitioning to a democratic system that protects the rights of the Syrian people.” The international community now faces a complex situation. It seems inevitable that, if the situation in Syria is not resolved, the rest of the world will feel the effects of the turmoil. Assad, who wields support of the Islamic militant Hezbollah group, could mobilize forces for an incursion into Lebanon and Israel. He is close with the ruling government in Iran, a government hostile to the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. It is evident that this conflict is far from an internal one, and could trigger further conflict in the international community if it is not resolved.
“If the situation in Syria is not resolved, the rest of the world will feel the effects of the turmoil.” Sara Lobo ’16 Proof of the effects of the civil war outside Syria can be seen in Lebanon, where hostilities have broken out multiple times since the beginning of the Syrian revolt. Armed men in Lebanon have shot machine guns into Syrian territory, with the Syrian army firing back. In Beirut, following the assassination of a Lebanese intelligence official, protesters marched on their own government, blaming the bomb-
ing on Syria and demanding that the prime minister resign for supporting a regime too close to Assad’s. Turkey has also become embroiled in the war in Syria, as the internal fighting has spilled over and killed Turkish civilians. On Oct. 3, a shell fired in Syria killed five Turks, and Turkey responded with retaliatory fire. The Turkish government has pleaded with the UN to help establish a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria to prevent further casualties, but without Assad’s approval, efforts will remain futile. Though I would like to be optimistic, I can’t help but believe that the warfare will only escalate, particularly because diplomatic negotiations and sanctions have yielded no progress. It seems inevitable that Turkey will get involved, and if militant groups such as the Hezbollah are deployed, it could lead to tremendous violence in many countries in the Middle East. Although the civil war is very much political, its religious and ethnic divisions will only prolong the bloodshed and prevent the restoration of a peaceful regime. Given that Assad is unlikely to resign, instability is likely to spill into bordering countries. For the conflict in Syria to be contained, the international community needs to work together—particularly the Middle Eastern countries surrounding Syria. However, thanks to religious and ethnic tensions, this kind of cooperation is difficult at best. The only glimmer of hope is the recent decision to promote a ceasefire during the holy days of Eid al-Adha, which begins on Oct. 26. Lahir Brahimi, the envoy representing the United Nations and the Arab League, has collaborated with Turkey, Iran and Syria to try and establish peace during this period. Their willing cooperation is surprising, and if the ceasefire is upheld it may help ease tensions. This, however, is nothing more than a small step. Much more cooperation is needed for the Syrian civil war to be resolved without dragging most of the Middle East, and potentially the world, deeper into its struggle. —Sara Lobo ’16 is a student who studies at Vassar College.
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“I wish I met the Dalai Lama.”
—Aiden Sperry ’13
“I wish I went to the Head of the Charles Regatta.”
—Alisa Prince ’14
“I wish I slept more.”
—Daniel Polonsky ’14
“I wish I hadn’t gained so much weight.”
—Ethan Cohen ’16 —Katie de Heras, Photo Editor Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire
October 25, 2012
Why Obama’s drone war in Pakistan and the DNC chair’s unacceptable ignorance make me an undecided voter Lane Kisonak
ike a great percentage of college students, I am excited to be voting on Nov. 6 in the first presidential election for which I have been eligible. For the first three years of President Barack Obama’s first term, I couldn’t wait to cast the vote I had been three months too young to cast the first time around, all the way back in 2008. On a multitude of occasions Obama had proved himself a non-messianic figure, to say the least, but until a few months ago I still believed he deserved a second term based on his record of pragmatism and relative (albeit far from complete) success in bringing the economy back to full speed and enacting comprehensive health care reform. But from May 29, 2012 onward, I found myself doubting the ground on which I stood. This rattled me because I have never considered myself an “undecided voter,” like many of the independents in the ten or so states whose residents’ votes count so much more compared to the rest of the country’s. On May 29, The New York Times shed light on the central details of one of the president’s already controversial counterterrorism measures—his personal “shadow war” against Al Qaeda based on the use of unmanned drones to strike down suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Jo Becker and Scott Shane’s reporting brought readers into the shady world of Obama’s decision-making process, which hinges on the construction of an ominously named “kill list.” On a weekly basis, Becker & Shane wrote, “more than 100 members of the…national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference” to review PowerPoint presentations, debate, and “recommend to the president who should be the next to die.” The list of suspects is then given to Obama, who signs off on any strike that takes place, in the process claiming “moral responsibility” for their execution. Tom Donilon, Obama’s National Security Advisor, made it clear to Becker and
Shane that Obama “is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.” While there is much to be debated about the grim new dimensions of this asymmetric warfare conducted by nations upon individuals— in which context Obama approves high-profile “personality strikes” against individuals—there is just as much to debate about the “signature strikes” he greenlights, and which rely primarily on the suspicious behavior of people or groups at the expense of civilian safety. Last month, Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic eloquently outlined the ethical constraints that made him personally unwilling and unable to vote for Barack Obama this November. Acknowledging that some in the center or on the left might deem him the “lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly,” Friedersdorf admitted the drone strikes, among other things, were a “deal-breaker” for him. He could not persuade himself to embrace utilitarian forms of reasoning that might, for example, justify a vote for Obama not as a vote in support of the man himself but as a proxy vote in support of center-left domestic policy values. He is right, though, that a policy that “terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis”—while “not comparable to a historic evil like chattel slavery”—should give any voter pause who knows about the drones and would not want to live under the same conditions as the result of another nation’s aggressions and military supremacy. Which is why I was so struck by a video I saw last Friday. This video showed Democratic National Committee chair and Florida congressperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz displaying complete and total ignorance of Obama’s kill list. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she told the young reporter who was questioning her. Dripping with the condescension one rightfully reserves for queries about Obama’s birthplace, she said: “I’m happy to answer any serious questions you have.”
When I saw this, it hit me like a pile of bricks that the people who craft party platforms and day-to-day political messages for our country’s voters may know as little about key issues as anyone outside the Beltway. (Monday’s foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Fla. yielded nothing in the way of moral nuance on this issue for voters who might not have considered it, or those who were contemplating it deeply. Both Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney unflinchingly embraced the use of unmanned drones and moved on to other topics.) It’s worth wondering if the 62% of Americans who voiced support for Obama’s drone strikes
“Drone strikes...should give any voter pause who knows about them, and would not want to live under the same conditions.” Lane Kisonak ’13 in a Pew Research poll from June 2012 had any idea that hundreds of civilians had been killed through drone strikes in Pakistan alone (possibly up to 800 as of this month, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism). Given how the discourse surrounding these strikes is riddled with words like “precision” and, “targeted,” and “surgical strike,” it would be understandable if people neglected to consider the horrors carried down from the sky each day by drones. What is far less understandable is for people in Schultz’ position—one which includes the power to define an agenda for millions of potential voters, especially on issues of
domestic economy, Schultz’s (apparently only) area of expertise—to know nothing at all about such grave matters of life and death as Obama’s drone war. And this all makes me think: What the heck do I know? I suddenly realized that there is an entire dimension to “undecidedness” that I hadn’t honestly considered before. As Ross Douthat wrote in last Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, “There are good reasons that a high-information voter with views somewhere near the American median might still regard this November’s decision as a harder-than-average call.” Now, I will not call myself a “high-information voter,” because these terms are relative and it feels anyway like it would be presumptuous to take that pedestal. Furthermore, I sense that I fall quite a bit farther to the left of the American median than the average undecided voter who’s still straddling the fence on domestic economic issues. That’s why it is so crushing a prospect that Mitt Romney might Etch A Sketch his way into the White House. But giving Barack Obama another term requires me to undertake a process built on a very dubious foundation. I must 1) make a moral choice based on information that is 2) shaped by a political sphere whose opinion leaders and legislators who may know precious little about the leaders they support, and 3) either shove aside my own moral rejection of drones in favor of my domestically liberal tendencies, or abstain from voting for the person who would be most likely candidate to advance the liberal values I hold dear. I remain excited to vote on Nov. 6, particularly for Sean Patrick Maloney. But the vote for president—a choice of whether to vote for Obama or for a marginal third-party candidate—is not one that I am excited to cast. —Lane Kisonak is the Opinions Editor for The Miscellany News. He is a senior Political Science major.
The Miscellany Crossword by Jack Mullan, Crossword Editor ACROSS 1 Emoticon involving a parenthesis 11 “Their Eyes Were Watching God” author Neale Hurston 15 Balzac character 16 Red-lettered door sign 17 James Madison and Ulysses S. Grant 18 Teenage pals’ nomer, online 19 What’s in Pierre’s veins 20 Papal cape 21 Staffer: Abbr. 25 Roadside bomb, for short 27 “...to ___ few” 28 Bee or snake attacks 31 Couch 33 Bad breath anitdotes
35 Kind of rock 36 Flood insurance? 37 Lacking any motif, like this puzzle 38 CPR pro 41 Death Row Records co-founder, familiarly 42 Tinier than 44 In opposition 46 1974 hit for Mocedades 47 Computer screen unit 51 “Facepalm,” in web-lingo: Abbr. 53 Facility 54 The artsy Vassar student’s attire 55 Pierre’s breakfast choice 58 First-rate 59 The most trusted person in news, according
Answers to last week’s puzzle
to a 2009 poll 65 “Dropped” drugs 66 Near failure 67 Poet Angelou 68 Focus of a constitution
Schiaparelli 39 Team that used to play at Shea 40 Not false 43 Stan who created Spider Man
45 Delighted words that follow “Hi Mom!” 47 Sacred song 48 Twenty: Prefix 49 2005 Coldplay album 50 Surname meaning
DOWN 1 Security and Prosperity org. based in Texas 2 La Méditerranée, e.g. 3 Rage 4 ___ Paul guitars 5 Sponsorship: Var. 6 “Star Wars” sage 7 Diva Mirella 8 Celtics chief Danny and others 9 Foldout bed 10 SAT company 11 Possible last picture in an alphabet book 12 International relief grp. 13 The R in N.R.A. 14 Addled 20 In the zone 21 “The Thin Man” pooch 22 ___-fry 23 Ill 24 TV channel that “knows drama” 26 Pulls a Lance Armstrong (allegedly) 29 Grey Pilgrim of Tolkien’s Middle Earth 30 Show contempt toward 32 ___ fatale 34 Editors’ marks 38 Coco Chanel rival
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
“Baker” 52 Gender-neutral pronoun 56 Comp or poll suffix 57 Bit of greenery 59 Do some cardio
60 Lennon’s lady 61 Female: Abbr. 62 King Kong, for one 63 Stimpy’s other half 64 Hissed reproof
HUMOR & SATIRE
October 25, 2012
From the desk of Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor
In a recent national survey, Stoop Kid still ranks in the top fifteen of kids who are afraid to leave their stoop
Mr. Bouchard’s analysis of One student’s rumination 2012 presidential buzzwords on The Midnight Question Jean-Luc Bouchard
Humor & Satire Editor
ello, fellow Vassarians! In case you were too busy playing “Madden NFL 13” or watching Glee on Hulu to be a good American, I’ve compiled (out of the bottom of my seemingly bottomless heart) a cheat-sheet list of Presidential Debate buzzwords. This way, you stand a chance to hold your own in one of those savage street-debates against the local Marist College Political Science major gang. Just find a frequently-spoken word from the debates on the list below, read the description, and argue away! The middle class:
If this election was a novel, the middle class would be the obvious motif every average-level middle school English class would be able to name. According to both candidates, the middle class is like Superman and delicious chocolate candy rolled into one. Think of the greatest thing you can possibly imagine in the confines of your vast imagination. That’s nothing compared to the middle class. But although the candidates agree that the middle class is just, oh God, just fucking incredible, they have radically different agendas aimed towards it. Whereas Obama has stated that he will, “Lovingly spoon rice pudding into the middle class’s mouth as we watch Love, Actually and talk about where we want to live someday,” Romney’s platform calls for, “An unforgettable night of hot tub sex, room service, and the painting portraits of each other’s naked bodies. Also tax cuts.” Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania:
Like the middle class, but in state form, and more susceptible to promises of rice pudding as long as you mention it coming from a specific hometown diner. Regulation of the economy:
For Obama, “regulation” is the ugly kid at school who no one wants to full-out admit is secretly do-able. For Romney, “regulation” is a softer version of the term “Communist legislation.” Gargalon, or, Basement Shame:
Mitt Romney’s rarely seen daughter. Gargalon made the news earlier this week when she tried to show up at the last debate like she was a person, in people clothes, instead of staying back in the basement where she can’t bring
Mulan-esque dishonor upon her family. In a recent TIME Magazine interview, Gargalon disclosed that her favorite movie was “the film reel of my father’s speeches,” her favorite food was “my daily bucket of pig knuckles,” and her favorite vacation spot was “sunlight.” President Reagan:
Judging from the context of both candidates’ use of this term, I’m guessing “President Reagan” is either an experimental supercomputer built in the dungeons of IBM that somehow uncontradictorily critiques the efforts of both parties simultaneously, or it’s slang for premium Columbian coke, as in the sentence, “When I worked with President Reagan back in the 1980s…” Moderator:
Similar to a medieval European whipping boy, but older and more susceptible to mid-debate weeping. Big Bird:
Something the internet cares about a lot more than reproductive rights, and that Romney loves a heck of a lot more than Gargalon.
midnight question is one of those large reflective questions that always seem to come to mind late at night. Please feel free to use the question as a way to reflect on your past week as well as inform your decisions for the week ahead.” It’s always on those nights when you need to be well rested for the next day of your existence that you can’t actually sleep. Your body KNOWS that you have to get up for your 9 a.m. and take an essay test on the mise-en-scène pervasive in German expressionist film, then run straight to Low-intermediate Ballet I, and afterwards spend three hours in a VSA meeting, but it just cruelly doesn’t seem to care. On nights like this, you lie in bed at 3 am, pondering the injustices of living in a small college town where every food place closes at 10 on weeknights…when clearly normal people get hungry after 10 p.m., right? (I’m staring angrily at you, Chan’s Peking Kitchen III.) I already can’t sleep, why can’t I eat? There are only so many Poptarts a person can stockpile from the vending machine before they run out of dignity. And VCash.
Any topic ranging from the nation of Israel to the Israeli people to our closest Middle Eastern allies, the...who is it again? Healthcare:
For Romney, this word (from the Ancient Greek healthcarusso, meaning “a thing every other country already has”), when spoken, alerts his supporters to begin rolling their eyes back into their heads and chanting in tongues as they punch and kick a Christmas ham with Obama’s face carved into the side. For Obama, this word is the rarely-used, less-awesome version of the word “Obamacare,” stripped of its aphrodisiac qualities. George W. Bush:
The mythical ruler of yore, who’s now off somewhere painting dogs (for reals, google it). You may remember Bush from back in 2002, when he made the news for choking on a pretzel. Also he was our president. Binders full of bayonets and horses:
I may not have been paying super-close attention when I heard this one...but I think it has to do with women in the military.
What to do, what to do. Too tired to work. Turn on Netflix and feel your brain rot as you silently “ok” the next episode of Mad Men that’s coming on automatically after 15 seconds. Wander around the dorm and do a half-assed job of looking for whoever blasts that one Avril Lavigne song on replay for hours at a time, but don’t find them, STILL, even though you have been looking for them for weeks. (SIDE NOTE: OMGODDESSES WHO ARE YOU!!?! I AM DYING, TURN OFF YOUR MUSIC. I PROMISE I WON’T HURT YOU TOO TOO BADLY.) Wonder if your weekend hook-up might be around, and then remember it’s now 4:30 a.m. on a Monday. Chances are pretty low, especially since he was a member of a touring Yale glee club. As an unwilling veteran of the sleepless night, I know that this situation can quickly deteriorate until it becomes a slippery slope of regret, akin that night you spent as BFFs with a toilet in Main after drunkenly insisting the beer before liquor rule did not apply to you. Because in the end, you usually just end up lying in bed, thinking about all of the different situations you’ve found yourself in recently…
and how you wish things would have actually gone down. At this moment, up pop all of your “midnight questions”: most people start to wonder why they never approach the people they want to approach, or why they are always so clumsy, or why they never say the right thing, or thousands of other harsh, self-critical thoughts. Like, at this very moment, you may be asking yourself why you have a freakish incapability of recognizing your own name when a professor takes attendance. Seriously, though. People have been calling you Elizabeth Doyle for 20 years, RAISE YOUR HAND WOMAN. Don’t people respond to their own names reflexively at this point in their lives? How many times have I accidentally been marked absent? Am I still in all my classes? Am I still a junior? Do I even go to this school?? AHHH. Now that you’re FREAKING, you open up your computer to distract yourself…and WHAM! The REAL Midnight Question hits you with some e-mail knowledge. Guess what, guys?! “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.” Thank you, Jim Henson; thank you, Midnight Question—I feel really calm now. You’ve simultaneously anticipated and solved my late night problems. In all honesty though, this can really be so much more fun. Allow the Midnight Question to transport you to a reassuring space of cognition. Instead of thinking about how you might not ever be asleep at any reasonable hour, why not think about how you usually manage not to fall asleep in class, either? Or about how your yoga class has made your legs so strong that the next time that freshman soccer bro with the “NICE BUTT” tank top passes by you, you’ll be able to rip that shirt off with your thighs and burn it in one graceful swoop? Or about all that awesome shit you probably do, I’m sure, definitely probably! Nurture positive feedback patterns that encourage optimistic thought processes. Forget about what you have to do tomorrow; you can USE that tiny bit of energy and sanity you have left RIGHT NOW to be mentally empowered for the next 2-4 hours before you collapse of exhaustion. Insomniacs of the world, UNITE. 4:39 a.m. sound like a good meet up time? Or just mock the Midnight Question, get some zzzquil, and go to sleep.
The Misc Bedside Astrologer by Jean-Luc Bouchard, Humor & Satire Editor Scorpio (October 23-November 21): Your stars are in an ideal alignment this week, Scorpio. Today will be a day of great realization for you. Specifically, the realization that humor editors with French names are just about the most appealing thing you can think of in a mate.
Aquarius (January 20-February 18): That’s
not a cold sore. Pisces (February 19-March 20): Stop taking forever to spread butter at the bagel stand in the Deece, Pisces. Seriously, it shouldn’t take anyone that long. Are you trying to anger the stars?
Sagittarius (November 22-December 21): You
may not want to get out of bed today, Sagittarius. Yeah, it’s…it’s gonna be a rough one. Capricorn (December 22-January 19): Your current spiritual trajectory isn’t in alignment with the stars and the energy of those around you, Capricorn. Way to fuck up without even knowing it. You’re just that good.
Aries (March 21-April 19): You might feel a lot
of unwanted urges today, Aries. Terrifying, primal urges. The stars suggest you funnel that energy into something constructive—like constructing a baby. Taurus (April 20-May 20): Really? That top with those pants? Ha, whatever…your call.
Gemini (May 21-June 20): You may feel conflicted today, Gemini. One part of you may want to fight back against the system. The other may want to wear sweat pants and watch Breaking Bad as you eat Keebler Elf cookies. Judging by your chocolate-stained cat-themed sweater, I think we know who’s gonna win. Cancer (June 21-July 22): Wait until I tell you what Aquarius said about you in my seminar yesterday! Oh my god, you’re gonna DIE when I tell you. Such a bitch. I can’t even handle it. It’s so ridiculous. I don’t even, I can’t even. I don’t even know how these people got into this school sometimes. So much drams. Leo (July 23-August 22): Start emotionally
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
preparing yourself in advance for Thanksgiving, Leo. That one uncle is gonna be there. Yeah. YEAH. The clown one. Virgo (August 23-September 22): I’m proud of you for reading this far, Virgo. Good for you! The stars are still unimpressed, though. You’re day’s going to be filled with mice. Mice and deece food. Libra (September 23-October 22): You have a lot of pent-up rage, Libra. Have you been on SayAnything any time in the past year? The stars recommend restoring your faith in humanity through a strict regimen of reading YouTube comments and CNN presidential debate tweets.
October 25, 2012
Artists examine war at current Palmer Gallery exhibit Burcu Noyan
assistant arts editor
enjamin Busch ’91 served in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel in the Marines. A studio art alum, he snapped photos that documented the realities of the war. “The photographs...are all impossible to take again because the subject matter is now destroyed,” wrote Busch in an emailed statement. “The characteristics of war represented by these images is an awareness of disappearance.” War is not only for the battlefield. Busch is joined by fellow artists Monica Church, Charles Geiger and Linda Cunningham in the current Palmer Gallery exhibition, an exploration of war through the medium of art, entitled “Conflict, Destruction, Renewal: Contemporary Artists on War,” that will run through Friday, Nov. 16. The exhibit is part of a larger initiative to bring together Vassar College and the United States Military Academy at West Point. The collaboration began in April
2012 when the Mellon Foundation made an endowment to Vassar, among other liberal arts colleges, to foster relationships between college students and cadets. Linked to the exhibit is an artist reception set for Thursday, Oct. 25, and a panel discussion entitled “Art and War” to follow at 5 p.m. in Taylor 203. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Wendy Ikemoto will moderate the panel. At the panel, each artist will briefly talk about what they intended to do with their artworks, and the bulk of the time will be given to the audience to ask questions and promote discussion. Professor of History Maria Höhn focuses her research on the American military and heads the Vassar-West Point initiative. “We were looking for ways to interact Vassar students with cadets, so our goal is specifically about the students; bringing them together and getting them to talk to each other,” said Höhn. “The idea of war is very controversial. We will have different artists talking about their responses
courtesy of Monica Church
A piece on display at the Palmer Gallery is part of the exhibition “Conflict, Destruction, Renewal: Contemporary Artists on War,” put together by Maria Höhn who heads the Vassar-West Point initiative.
to war. We thought organizing an art exhibition is a great way to get the students and cadets [to] talk about what they have in common, the differences in how they look at the world and their experiences.” Cadets from West Point will spend a day at Vassar on Thursday, going to classes with their hosts and attending and participating in the “Art and War” panel and the artist reception at the Palmer Gallery. “Cadets will eventually be off, commanding units. That’s something very hard for us to believe. They’re just as young as our students, but all of a sudden you realize: ‘Oh, their lives are very different!’” Höhn said. “So, what this project is really about is human connection and breaking up the boundaries.” Höhn contacted all the artists in the exhibition, all of whom she knew through various personal connections. She first met Busch in 2005, when he had a photography exhibition at Vassar. She has been friends with Cunningham, a New York City-based artist who exhibits both in New York and Germany, for over 25 years, and has known Church, a local Hudson Valley sculptor, for at least 15 years. As for Geiger, the painter, he and Höhn have been married for many years. “It’s almost like a family affair for me. These are all friends; they’re all very close to me,” said Höhn. “They will really be able to talk to each other at the panel. Church’s parents served in WWII, and her grandfather in WWI. Her artworks are collages made while she was in Vietnam in 1922. “My collages are made from fragments of lottery tickets, books, plastic bags, tickets, receipts, Joss papers, wrapping paper—they become visual metaphors for the fragmentation and re-building of society that must take place after war,” Church said. “The elements of my work are delicate and fragile, yet from piecing together with glue, are strong and will endure.” Church intends her installation to reveal the difficulty, sorrow and hope of people to move forward after war. Geiger had been at Vassar as a speaker for the artist lecture series, “Art in the Environment—The Seen and Unseen” in November 2011. “The painting process I use is what one might call ‘quasi-botanical,’ in that botanical
shapes are used as metaphors for a healing process,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “Combat stress, alienation, body and organ injuries, and soldiers’ suicides have all figured into my work. The painting process is a botanical ritual to affirm and heal these issues.” He has never been a soldier, but felt affected by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was moved to apply his process to the subject of war. “In these works, [Geiger] looks at broken human bones, not as physical human bones but as trees and plants, seeing them as part of nature. Because he thinks that the destruction of war is also the destruction of the environment,” explained Höhn. “He uses these organic, environmental forms to represent the injuries of the soldiers and the loneliness of war.” Geiger includes little green leaves on the broken forms to suggest the regrowth of life and healing. Cunningham focuses her art on the commemorative aspects of war, not just on the lives lost, but also on remnants of architectural structures, which represent ruins of entire cultures. Within the past 20 years, she has created many sculptural installations from cast bronze and massive twisted steel as anti-war memorials, sited in public spaces in Germany and in the U.S. “The twisted steel beams are obviously shaped by fire or force, but they look plant-like as though growing from ruins,” wrote Cunningham. Her anti-war memorial focus began in the post-Vietnam war era, when she noticed how victorious conquerors were glorified in public spaces, but not much was done to commemorate the destructive effects war had on cultures. “Nothing was built to commemorate the collateral damage, the devastating toll of the lives of the citizenry, and the eradication of cultural heritage,” she noted. Themes of regrowth and reconstruction, of endurance and disappearance, appear to unite the disparate artists’ works. Höhn put forth her own observation. “Usually when you look at art on war, you see many pieces that glorify war. These artists don’t make a statement on whether war is good or bad,” she concluded. “This exhibition is really just about artists working through what they saw around them. The key is just to think about it; it’s not political art.”
O’Connor creative lead behind Drama Dept. set designs Steven Williams reporter
Jiajing Sun/The Miscellany News
n any given Drama Department show, there is a man whose face will never will never be seen by the audience. Much of their focus will be on the actors, the plot, the dialogue. But the backdrop of it all is the work of Technical Director Paul O’Connor. Along with a host of colleagues and students, O’Connor brings the set to life, realizing a play’s key visual component that cannot be expressed in words. “One of my main responsibilities is to build the scenery for every Drama Department show,” he wrote in an emailed statement. O’Connor’s job is all about fulfilling the imaginative thoughts of the students. “A student designer first works with our set and lighting design professor (the awesome Stephen Jones) and then turns in a drawing or model to me. Then I begin working with the student and offering design solutions—material choices and all the practical and creative information required to manifest their design,” he wrote. He then tries to integrate a multitude of people into the process. “I get as many students involved in the construction as possible...students in other shows and my fantastic workstudy staff.” Like the students whom he brings into the production, O’Connor started doing this type of work when right after getting out of high school. His interests and ambitions when he was young helped lead him along the path to where he is today. “I volunteered at a local theater and that led to very exciting opportunities,” he wrote. But as a young man, his work extended beyond theater work. “I had a great job in the summer after high school where I started out doing demolition for a construction company, that led to a carpenter/handyman position,” he stated. Set design was the perfect combination of O’Connor’s varied interests. “I was always interested in art, specifically sculpture and paint-
ing, but even more I was into problem solving. Set design and construction is all about creative problem solving,” he wrote. And working in the technical side of theater to this day is a fulfilling career for him. “This job satisfies all my interests. There is painting, drawing, sculpture, engineering, illusions on a grand scale. Also the human side, it is about manifesting ideas. [I enjoy] working closely with others, collaboration and vision,” he noted. In his time at Vassar, O’Connor has had rewarding and challenging projects. “Two of my favorites that I designed were ‘Into The Woods’ and ‘Skin Of Our Teeth.’ Both shows allowed me to do large sculptural scenery and varied, complicated props. These sets allow me to give my students the kind of projects I find most rewarding and challenging,” he recalled. One of his most challenging works was on the play “Metamorphoses.” “I had to flood the Powerhouse Theater with 2000 gallons of water, have a secret entrance to a deep pool, heat and filter the water,” he said. Set design has its own set of frustrations for O’Connor, though. “Theater has inflexible deadlines. This means you don’t always get to take the work as far as you would like,” he noted. As much as he would like to pursue ideas further at times, O’Connor recognizes the need for his work to be prompt—the show will always go on. “We have to be ready no matter what,” he concluded. O’Connor helps passes on his trade through beginning class “Introduction to Stagecraft.” “I try to cover basic lighting, carpentry, sewing skills, theater safety, prop making, and sound,” he wrote. He is quick to mention the other faculty that help make the class possible. “I couldn’t do it without the help of Arden Kirkland, who teaches sewing skills and costume design, and Stephen Jones, who covers lighting and sound,” he said. Jones is one of O’Connor’s closest associates, a tech-savvy partner in figuring out the production aspects of the show.
Paul O’Connor, Technical Director in the Drama Department, works with student Timothy Magidson ’13 on a set design for an upcoming show. O’Connor teaches the class “Introduction to Stagecraft.” “Paul is a fabulous collaborator and one of the best educators I have had the privilege of working with,” Jones wrote in an emailed statement. “Paul makes producing theatre an enjoyable experience for the students through his calm demeanor and his strong understanding of he craft.” Kirkland echoed Jones’ words. “From Helen (the set was a giant sandbox) to Metamorphoses (essentially a swimming pool that time) to late nights on special effects for Into the Woods, it has always been a pleasure to work with Paul,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “The Drama Department is very lucky to have him.” O’Connor takes pride in seeing the development of his students, and the fruits of their
MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
labor. “My two favorite aspects of this class is a demonstration day, where I enlist actors and a team of backstage staff to move through the technical possibilities involved in production, and the final projects, where students mount their own short production with lights, sound, props, stage managers and costume.” He also appreciates that the theater at Vassar is done for academic purpose. “We aren’t trying to entertain or please an audience necessarily, we do it to explore ideas and concepts, work on our collaborative skills, look deeply at text, manifest our vision, make something out of nothing,” he wrote. “These are skills that will help students no matter what they do with their life.”
October 25, 2012
Performer to confront myths about South St. Lucia and Sol to open E for the show Yuhan Shui
Schneider said. “I didn’t see the whole play, but based on what I know about it, it brings up issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and in particularly, how these various factors intersect with one another in powerful and sometimes surprising ways.” Associate Professor of Art and Co-director of Africana Studies Lisa Collins also advocated for Johnson’s appearance, and will incorporate his performance into her freshman course. Assistant Professor of English Hiram Perez further helped bring him to campus and may include him in class. “I expect it will open a window onto the oppression and resilience of a group that is generally unfamiliar to most people at Vassar,” Schneider said. “I anticipate an evening that will provide the audience with complex, moving stories and startling insights.”
courtesy of Gender Capstone
. Patrick Johnson wanted to challenge the stereotype of the South as backwards and repressed. And so he collected the orally-told stories of 63 gay African-American men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the South into a book, entitled Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, published in 2008 by The University of North Carolina Press. The men hail from fifteen different states and range in age from 19 to 93. Johnson then dramatized 11 of these men’s stories into a play, Pouring Tea—and now, its tour is coming to Vassar. The solo performance by Johnson, which will incorporate music as well, is co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program, the Africana Studies Program and the Drama Department, and will take place on Oct. 30 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., in Sanders Classroom Auditorium. A talk back will follow to allow questions from the audience about the play and the book; a book-signing of Sweet Tea will also follow. Johnson is currently working as the Chair of the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, and is one of the core faculties in the Department of African American Studies. A well-known scholar, ethnographer, and African-American performance artist, he toured another one-man show, Strange Fruit, around the United States between 1999 and 2004. Associate Professor of German Studies Jeffrey Schneider first saw part of his current show at the annual conference of the American Historical Association in Chicago last January; in one of the panels on the history of gay and lesbian culture in the U.S., Johnson performed a couple of scenes of the play as part of his presentation. It amazed Schneider, and he decided to invite Johnson. “Personally, I’m a kind of theater nut, and one of my areas of specialization in German Studies is the long, German tradition of revolutionary drama, in which writers sought to
harness the theater to educate the public,” Schneider said. “I was fascinated by the way Mr. Johnson is able to successfully use entertainment to explore the complexities of a community that has been oppressed—but has also, in different generations, found ways to reject oppressive social mores and creatively shape their own lives.” He is also teaching an aptly-related course called ‘How Queer Is That?’ this semester. Johnson felt performance would better bring the stories to life. The performance covers topics like coming out, family struggles, being bullied, gender non-conformity, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS,” Johnson noted. Schneider found himself interested in the play’s topics. “When watching scenes on the conference, I was struck not only by the power of Johnson’s performance, but also by the material itself,”
E. Patrick Johnson will come to campus next Wednesday to perform 63 stories of gay, black men in the South. The performance covers topics like coming out, gender non-conformity and HIV/AIDS.
Lazarus curbed anxiety to begin comedy Adam Buchsbaum arts editor
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
arah Lazarus ’13 has done theater since middle school; her first show, she admitted, was You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and she acted as Sally. She picked out Vassar for its Drama Department. But she wasn’t entirely settled on majoring in Drama, as interests in art and singing tugged at her. Four years later, Lazarus is now a member of comedy troupe Happily Ever Laughter (HEL), Vassar Improv, and is an actor in an upcoming Drama thesis, a full-length play. Taking the beginning class for Drama majors, “Introduction to Theater Making,” ensured her future major. “[I] was really struck by how that was set up and really loved that class, and met a lot of people that I befriended very quickly from that,” she said. She went on to major in Drama. She also discovered her second major, Cognitive Science, her freshman year, after a revelatory introduction course. But Lazarus didn’t begin exploring her humorous side until sophomore year, when she joined HEL. “I was too scared to audition for the groups,” Lazarus explained. “And I also went to the preview show, and couldn’t really tell the groups apart, and I was nervous about auditioning and then being in a group I didn’t necessarily want to be in, so I sussed it out freshman year.” She ultimately went for HEL after a year of loving their shows. “They had a really great balance of low-brow, high-brow and surreal humor and grounded humor,” Lazarus said. “And their shows just consistently made me laugh.” Lazarus recalled being quite nervous and uncomfortable during the audition process for HEL. Now, as a full-fledged member, she and her fellow members meet up once or twice a week when writing for a show to pitch and discuss sketches. In the week leading up to a show, the group will meet every night for a couple of hours to rehearse. “I think HEL has a really interesting way of keeping the same core spirit even as the people change,”
Sarah Lazarus ’13 is a Drama and Cognitive Science double major. Lazarus performs in the campus comedy group Happily Ever Laughter (HEL) and plans a career in drama after graduation. Lazarus observed. “I don’t really know how that happens, but there’s definitely a HEL strain that carries forward, like a virus.” Lazarus added Vassar Improv to her repertoire her junior year. The prospect of improv comedy scared her even more than sketch comedy. Nor did she have any meaningful experience with improv. “I no longer tremble before shows…it was pretty bad at the beginning,” Lazarus said. “Just because, the way I combat stage fright as an actor is to be very prepared and know exactly everything. I will have my lines down cold. I’m prepared as much as I can possibly be prepared. And with improv, there’s no possibility of that.” She cited total fascination with improv as what inspired her in the end. “I probably went to every improv show before I joined, and I was always just mesmerized,” Lazarus said. Lazarus is now working on her two theses. For her Cognitive Science thesis, Lazarus is drawing on her drama background. Her the-
sis is about how systems of acting employ an idea entering into acceptance in the field of cognitive science: “embodied cognition,” which suggests the body creates a mental state, rather than the mind a bodily state. As for her Drama thesis, Lazarus will act in a production of The Cosmonaut’s Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union. Lazarus plans a career in drama, not cognitive science, after graduation. Lazarus joked she hopes to be poor for a while after graduation. “I would love to pursue acting and playwriting and comedy. A combination of the three. I don’t know exactly what form that will take,” Lazarus said. “I would love to take classes. I’ll probably move to New York, in which case I will take classes at [Upright Citizens Brigade], or there’s a possibility I will go to Chicago and go to either Improv Olympic or Second City.” Meanwhile, Lazarus acts and writes.
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ViCE continued from page 1
string section—like Ra Ra Riot, which has a violinist—rather than just use recorded tracks. “To have the actual strings there, live, and in the room sets them apart and I think is one of the reasons they’re going to work so well,” he said. St. Lucia is the brainchild of Jean-Philip Grobler, a native of Johannesberg, South Africa. The synthpop artist released a self-titled debut EP about a month ago. Fellow opening act Sol, for the uninitiated Vassar student, is a 13-piece student band known for its funky and danceable songs. Just this year, the group jammed with alumni band Yes Noyes at the year’s first Mug night. “While [Sol is] more of a somewhat traditional approach to funk and soul, I think they’ll tie in nicely to the complexity that both of the bands have,” Flynn noted, saying a thread of soulfulness tied together all three bands. Rovner discussed the long process behind ViCE preparing the concert. “So many dates have already been taken up by the predetermined all-campus events,” explained Rovner. Yearly events like Dormal Formal and Harvest Ball take up time slots early in the year. In turn, either the band or the date must come first. Rovner chose the date first and then asked around, emailing various music agents to see which bands were available, and within ViCE’s budget. Rovner took the resulting shortlist before the ViCE Music Committee. “I try very hard to make sure I don’t make any executive decisions without either my committee’s approval, or I try not to make it at all,” Rovner said. “I will follow wherever they lead, because I am not ViCE music. ViCE music is a committee that’s representative of this whole campus and their interests.” From that list, the committee took a vote and Ra Ra Riot finished high on the list. St. Lucia came to ViCE’s attention through Flynn, who watched St. Lucia perform at Trinity College last spring with The Knocks, who had opened for ViCE’s spring 2011 concert. “It, to this day, was one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had. It was the first time I’ve heard a new band live and been completely blown away—like mouth agape,” Flynn said. Flynn in turn brought it before the committee. “Both of them actively wanted to come here…Ra Ra Riot actually asked their agent recently, ‘So what’s up with Vassar?’ Which is cool,” Rovner said. “And I know in the chats I had with St. Lucia they were very anxious to get up here and play.” Choosing Sol as an opening act came naturally. “It seems silly if these kids are in good bands— and some of them might even be considering a career in music—that they shouldn’t have the opportunity to share the stage with Ra Ra Riot,” Rovner said, citing Thea Ballard ’13 opening for The Low Anthem last year. Flynn chimed in, noting the success of Sol’s show with Yes Noyes. “People want to see their peers playing good music,” Flynn said. “If we can provide a professional setting for them to do it in, that’s awesome.” Sol founder and lead vocalist Andrés Estela ’13 expressed excitement, and some nervousness, at the band’s upcoming show. “I knew we had to step it up a lot to be prepared to put on a really tight set. We’ve been working since this past Saturday [Oct. 20] on putting tunes together. It’s an intensive, but sensitive process,” wrote Estela in an emailed statement. The band, which has only performed covers in the past, has been steadily working on three original songs to debut at the concert. “As always, we’re really humbled at the opportunity to play for our classmates and especially at such a high-profile event,” Estela wrote. “It’s truly a blessing to be able put on shows and be a part of Vassar’s music scene.” Rovner also took the concert as an opportunity to build bridges with the community. “I very firmly believe we’re not just throwing [the concert] for the insular Vassar community, but we owe the larger Poughkeepsie community access to our community because they host us,” Rovner said. As part of the outreach effort, Rovner has enlisted Darkside Records, a flyering campaign and the internet in selling tickets and spreading the word. “We don’t want to limit who can come enjoy music,” Rovner said. “If you like music, come listen to music.”
October 25, 2012
Skinner struggles to animate age-old linguistic discussion Victoria Youngblood Guest Columnist
The Story of Ain’t David Skinner HarperCollins Publishers
ou all know the Grammar Police. Maybe you agree with them. Maybe you are one of them. Sometimes I feel like I am or want to be a member of the force. But after reading David Skinner’s The Story of Ain’t it is hard to know what Grammar Police or language-lover really means, and why it seems so honorable to identify as one. The Story of Ain’t is an account of the series of events and personalities that propagated the controversy over Webster’s Third, the dictionary that made several radical gestures, among them the publication of the word “ain’t” as standard English. This little history is somewhat messy in its organization and is neither objectively comprehensive nor passionately opinionated, but retains a certain charm for any reader interested in the cultural issues surrounding philology. Skinner hooks his reader on the first, tongue-in-cheek page with a dictionary entry of the word “controversy” from the 1828 Webster’s, which defines it as a “dispute; debate; agitation of contrary opinions.” The debate is fundamentally one between the purist, traditionalist, conservative—ahem, snobs—who considered Webster’s Third a ripping at the seams of the English language, and the liberal, realist radicals who would defend Webster’s Third as culturally truthful and practically intended. Phillip Gove, the editor of the incendiary Webster’s Third, is the figurehead representing the latter camp, and was the scapegoat for its supposed crimes against language. It really comes down to whether you think a dictionary should be prescriptive (the attackers’ opinion) or descriptive (Gove’s opinion). It seems that intuitively many of us would like a dictionary to prescribe, and a subset of
us like to think that if we become well versed in the ways of the dictionary, we too can acquire that power of prescription, that we can act as agents of the law of the language, if you will. In any event, it may be worthwhile to consider and reconsider what the nature is of that superiority we have as educated English speakers with an interest in observing and preserving correct, traditional English. What is the nature of that “correctness” in the first place? Starting from scratch, language is born from the necessity of communication. But can that really be the issue at hand? If I tell you “your poetic style is very unique” or “the Retreat ain’t open after eleven,” surely you wouldn’t be pretentious enough to claim you don’t understand what I’m saying. In the same vein, if enough people think that disinterested is synonymous with uninterested, what makes the distinction correct? Nothing, Gove would have argued. It is not the dictionary’s place to correct a habit of the majority, but rather to describe and explain that habit. The cultural explosion of the 1950s introduced many linguistic habits into pop culture, which were questionable to traditionalists. “Jukebox,” “jive,” “pizza,” and “pinball,” to name a few, all made their way into Webster’s Third. At times Skinner flirts with the subject of classism, but never editorializes on the matter. He never explicitly calls out the traditionalist camp on prejudice, probably for the better, since I would not go as far as to say that those seeking to preserve traditional English are blatantly classist. But it is important to examine this phenomenon. Consider two ends of the cultural spectrum: one in which “ain’t I” dominates, and one in which “am I not” is strictly observed. Somewhere in the middle live the “aren’t I” people. But many of us, regardless of which form we use in practice, consider “am I not” to be objectively correct. We know from literary history, at the least, that “ain’t” is a colloquialism of the poor, uneducated, working class. Any reader of Dickens or Twain can see that. To put it bluntly, we have here a poorer class and a richer class: two different languages, two different versions of correct, and
the desire to call the wealthier one the more correct one. That would be the classism card. Surely linguistic correctness can’t be bought? These are among the questions that unravel upon reflection on The Story of Ain’t, but they never fully come to fruition within the book. Indeed, the initial concept (that is. the controversy over a radical dictionary) could have taken a few different routes, which, in the spirit of liberal arts, are easy to name: anthropological, philosophical, sociological, psychological, and political. Skinner doesn’t exactly pick one and doesn’t exactly create a fluid combination. Rather, he assembles a jumble of anecdotes that concretize a socio-philosophical question. He recounts fragments of the lives and careers of various writers or linguists that seem to hold six degrees of separation from the actual story of ain’t, which turns out to be not much of a story at all, but a symbolic single event that provoked an intellectual issue. Skinner makes a bold attempt at coloring the dry history of a dictionary with relevant cultural and political episodes, but there is only so much to be skimmed off the surface of these external areas of history, and still be
relevant to lexicography. The Story of Ain’t asks questions that are stimulating and valuable, but the answers are not to be found in its pages. You can digest the documented arguments of the talking heads that engage in a repetitious back-and-forth on the issue, but, personally I did not find that to be particularly helpful in articulating my opinions. Upon finishing Chapter 40, the book’s final chapter, I did not feel that my position on the subject had developed since Chapter 4. The dialectic that was incited by Webster’s Third is interesting in its own right, but the bullet points of the issue could be laid out in some kind of trifold pamphlet—the rest is left to reflection, philosophy, and some combination of internal and external dialogue. That is, I am inspired to think about the issue, have conversations about it, collect opinions from fellow academics, or maybe sign up for that Linguistics and Anthropology class I saw in the course catalogue next semester, but have little desire to turn back to The Story of Ain’t. Skinner’s book is similar to a dictionary—a lot of interesting words there, to extract and think about and learn about, but, as it is, does not exactly make for a thrilling storybook.
Villalobos synthesizes the witty, macabre and innocent Harrison Kesner Guest Columnist
Down the Rabbit Hole Juan Pablo Villalobos FSG Originals
ately, I’ve loved reading a tiny little book from a Spanish-speaking country. The art of the Spanish-language novella is a fascinating phenomena that is slowly being unraveled upon English readers. In the past few years, the psychotically dreamy metafiction of César Aira and the condensed apocalypses of Mario Bellatín have found their way into the hands of a small, but nonetheless appreciative audience in America. Now, we have the debut novel of a man, Juan Pablo Villalobos, who has researched the former of these two authors. That author’s quick-cutting narrative has certainly influenced Villalobos in his constructing of this small tale, Down the Rabbit Hole. Tochtli, the main character, is a young innocent boy who lives in a palace. The author has ingeniously made this fairytale-like archetype strikingly modern by making Tochtli the son of a Mexican drug lord named Yolcaut (names are figuratively ancient Nahuatl names for animals). Instead of horses and chariots, the palace has a secret room stuffed with AK-47s and Uzis. In this modern wonderland, a lavish manor in the middle of nowhere that is safe from violence—yet built upon it—Tochtli does what a spoiled boy of any stripe would do: delighting in the things that he owns. He has a collection (namely, an assortment of rare and exotic hats), an imagination (he often dons his detec-
tive hat to go sleuthing around the house), and he has a dream of owning two Liberian pygmy hippopotamuses. The reader instantly falls in love with Tochtli’s smartass attitude and witty language. Every night before he goes to sleep he reads the dictionary, and he claims that his memory of words and meanings is “practically devastating.” Despite his very uncanny vocabulary for his age, he nevertheless has a profoundly simple way of relating important and lucid emotional truths. The people he knows he keeps a record of; once they are inevitably killed by his paranoid and powerful father, he says, “the dead people don’t count, they’re corpses.” Veiled simplicity is a hallmark of his speech and of the novel as a whole; this boy just wants to own two rare hippopotamuses, but these animals are a symbol for a peaceful and wistful childhood. Then again, when Tochtli finds his father’s gun stash and begins to play with a pistol, you begin to wonder if this story really is simply a quest for a boy’s happiness in the form of two Liberian pygmy hippopotamuses, reclusive creatures for a spoiled child. The hippos are paradoxically both things the boy deserves and does not need. In the book’s brief yet very engrossing seventy pages, we find other characters that make us love Tochtli even more. His humanitarian household tutor Mazatzin (one wonders why Tochtli’s father has not fed him to the fishes, or other unsavory creatures) seems to try to convince Tochtli that his father’s acts are evil, yet he always seems to end up supporting Yolcaut in the end. The adoptive names the three of them take in order to disguise themselves on their trip to Monrovia seem to become characters in and of themselves thanks to Tochtli’s gut-busting
memory. “By the way, Franklin Gómez started being Franklin Gómez yesterday at the airport,” Tochtli cracks about his drug lord dad as they go through security. Villalobos has such a knack for taking Tochtli’s mind just where it needs to go in order to make us feel sorry for where it wanders. Despite his selfishness and insanely spoiled lifestyle fueled by drug money from his father’s cartel, one cannot help but chuckle as Tochtli reminisces on his collection of genuine African safari hats after having just described his father shooting a man to death. Most fascinating of all is Tochtli’s fixation on death; he treats it as a life of its own, vibrant with many possibilities yet describing it like a rudimentary game of chess all the while. “There are actually lots of ways of making corpses,” he
“The reader instantly falls in love with Tochtli’s smartass attitude and witty language.” Harrison Kenser ’15 explains, “but the most common ones are with orifices. Orifices are holes you make in people so their blood comes out. Bullets from pistols can make orifices and knives can make orifices, too.” Tochtli zeroes in on one of his favorite difficult words—orifices—and fascinates with its repetition, its viciously objective study. This treatment of language wondrously re-
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flects his fragile outlook on life. As innocent as his age might portend, he cannot change his ruthless surroundings. Although he has a beginner’s understanding of the lifestyle he is growing up in, he can only read the basic facts—the dictionary of his world—and in the end fails to grasp the emotional trauma of his reality until tragedy befalls him directly. This tragedy, of course, turns out not to be anything serious like the previously mentioned orifices; inevitably, what must happen happens. He loses his beloved rare hippos and discovers he is being lied to by his father. The greatest trauma he can suffer is personal loss. The drive of the novel is to push him toward the personal, pulling him away from his impersonal dictionary that allows him ruthless and detached observation. Although this dictionary is the source of the boy’s wit and charm, it is also what keeps him distant, strange, and discomforting. Despite the “practically devastating” aspects of Tochtli’s story, one smiles for him throughout. He never lets up with his savage wit, and he even shares fond—albeit, strangely fond— moments with his corrupt father. The rabbit hole discovered in this precious little book may be found under the brim of one of Tochtli’s several dozen hats. It is the preservation of childhood wonder in the vein of a selfish and unmerciful lifestyle. Above all, we find that even those who have not physically “suffered” a day in their lives have nevertheless been through hardship, even though they have lived on the backs of others with far worse fates. “What happens is I have a trick, like magicians who pull rabbits out of hats, except I pull words out of the dictionary.” Juan Pablo Villalobos magically withdraws sympathy for the devil with the silver spoon.
October 25, 2012
Bernini? Warhol? Art-lovers must visit MET before these great exhibits depart Zoe Dostal
little birdie told me that it’s about time all of you Art History 105-ers take a trip down to the city to examine a work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in person. Now, having been there and done that, I know a lot of you are going to cheat on this one. With Google Images, ARTstor and Wikipedia at our fingertips, who in their right mind would go all the way to the Big Apple just to look at one lousy painting? Well, me. And I am going to try my darndest to incite you to do the same by bribing you with two temporary exhibits currently at the MET. The key to a fun and memorable museum visit is temporary exhibits. Short and sweet, they provide narratives, context and perspective that is usually lost in permanent galleries. Sometimes they bring together seemingly disparate objects from all over the world, like Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years. Other times it’s the first and only time an artist’s works will all be in the same place, as is the case in Bernini: Sculpting in Clay (at the MET through Jan. 6). Let’s go from smallest to largest. Bernini: Sculpting in Clay, located just outside the cafeteria, will take you just twenty or thirty minutes. But don’t let the size fool you—this exhibit packs a powerful punch, raising questions of authorship and originality while offering insight into the process of one of the worlds most revered sculptors. Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is known for his breathtaking marble sculptures of religious, mythological and allegorical figures in Rome, Italy. This exhibit takes you behind the scenes with sketches, wooden and clay models that have the thumbprints—literally—of Bernini. This is the first, and possibly only time, that all of Bernini’s clay models (bozzetti) are displayed in one location. Sculptures that adorn Roman landmarks such as the Four Rivers Fountain and Ponte Sant’Angelo all began as roughly sketched thoughts. Then Bernini grabbed a slab of earthy goodness to quickly mold and shape his ideas into
three dimensions. Since the final version of his Saint Teresa or any of her giant, marble friends could not visit New York, the museum provides gorgeous black and white photographs to transport us to Italy to see the marble masterpieces ourselves. And as the exhibit continually reminds us, Bernini’s prodigious students in his workshop carved the marble. The clay models at the MET are the genius of Bernini himself, pure and true. I found the explanation of his particular process and the scientific analysis of his work to be the most remarkable part of the exhibit. Diagrams eloquently show how his thumb moved across the clay, and whether his fingernail made a particular indentation. Invisible to the untrained eye, these are the details that imbue the work with the spirit of Bernini. The bigger, more exciting exhibit for many museumgoers is Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years (at the MET through Dec. 31). This show brings together the glitterati of the contemporary art world to delight and dazzle viewers with every media possible, including but not limited to video, photography, painting, sculpture and installation art. The point is to encourage a debate about the extent and nature of Warhol’s influence on the following generations of artists. For such an enormous topic, it is very well organized and easy to follow, divided into themes such as celebrity portraits, American consumerism and queer identities. I honestly don’t know where to begin in describing the art at this exhibit from giants like Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Ai Weiwei, Matthew Barney and Takashi Murakami. I can tell you about some of the most memorable, like Jeff Koon’s Michael Jackson & Bubbles, 1988. Bigger than life, a radiant gold and porcelain white Michael surveys the crowd, cradling his monkey, Bubbles. Ai Weiwei painted a Coca-Cola logo onto a Neolithic vase (5,000-3,000 B.C.), committing what some consider a sacrilegious act of bravado. A video exploring gender relations that I know will appeal to fellow Vassarites was
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Kalup Linzy’s hysterical piece Conversations wit de Churen V: As da Art World Might Turn, 2006. Kalup Linzy’s drag persona Katonya is a young artist, moaning on the floor about her obscurity until she finally gets the opportunity for a solo show—a reality that is not so far from our own post-graduate lives. By far the most arresting was Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (Portrait of Rossin L.A.). Shiny, individually wrapped candies are piled in the corner with a sign declaring “Please Take Only One Piece of Candy”. Snatching the sugary treat, few people actually read the accompanying label, which explains this rare phenomenon of audience participation. Ideally, the pile at any given time will weigh a total of 175 lbs, the weight of the artist’s lover Ross Laycock before his AIDS-related death in 1991. By taking candy, the viewer is complicit in his demise. But at a certain point, the candy will be replenished, implicating us in his resurrection as well. This is an effective artwork that I found haunting long after I’d left the exhibit. Normally, I don’t really like contemporary art—we just don’t get along. But Regarding Warhol manages to bring together the fringe, the kitsch and the political into a completely accessible arena. The wall labels are exceptionally clear and helpful, explaining the context of the art, the artist and the relationship to Warhol’s work. Oh, and don’t worry, there is also plenty of iconic Warhol, from Marilyn and Mao to cow wallpaper and celebrity screen tests. And I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it is the closest you will get to experience Warhol’s legendary Factory for yourself. There are other temporary exhibits currently up at the MET, most notably Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop (which all end before February 2013). And I certainly don’t mean to discount the permanent collection. But the key words here are “temporary” and “permanent”. So gather a group of friends and head down river—I promise that everyone will have fun and find a Saturday well spent.
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“Game of Thrones.”
—Jalilah Byrd ’15
—Julian Hassan ’14
“An article about how Obama betrayed the anti-war movement.” — David Quispe ’16
“A Denver tourist brochure.”
— Sue Jin Baig ’14
took this photograph with my dad’s old canon film camera while on a walk with a friend on the Vassar farm. She had paused to dance amongst the falling leaves and I thought it was a nice moment. I suppose part of what makes photography such an attractive medium is its ability to capture the ephemeral, fleeting moments in time such as these. This transient nature of photography I think is what made it difficult for me to choose just one photo to publish on here, as it forced me to privilege just one moment out of many I’ve documented through my photography. I personally prefer viewing/exhibiting photographs or artworks as a series. Through a series it is possible to present fragments in time that, when grouped together, compose a collective memory or experience. I’m sure one day when I’m older and feeling corny and sentimental, I’ll look back on the photographs I took in college and think back fondly to the golden era of my youth. For now it’s pleasant enough to contemplate just one afternoon at the farm, a then and there that recedes into the here and now just as autumn recedes into winter.
“Love in the Time of Cholera.”
—Erika Nakagawa ’15
—Elijah McDonnaugh ’16
-Jaclyn Neudorf ’13
—Adam Buchsbaum, Arts Editor — Jiajing Sun, Assistant Photo Editor MISCELLANY NEWS | VASSAR COLLEGE
October 25, 2012
Two runners shine at Seven Sisters meet Men’s soccer plans return I to finals Meaghan Hughes reporter
Amreen Bhasin and Chris Brown reporter and Guest reporter
courtesy of Vassar Athletics
t’s that time of year again when the fall sports teams begin to enter into their final weeks of the season. Over October Break, the women’s cross country team had their last run before Liberty League Championships. On Saturday, Oct. 13, six colleges competed in the annual Seven Sisters race. It’s one of the shorter races the Vassar women’s cross country team runs—a 5K as opposed to the usual 6K. This year’s team was led by the strong individual performances of Aubree Piepmeier ’14 and Kelly Holmes ’13, who finished in second and fourth place respectively among the 93 runners who participated in the race. The Seven Sisters race itself is one of Piepmeier’s and Holmes’ favorite races. According to Piepmeier, “This meet in particular was a great opportunity…because it’s one of the smaller races we run and the course is a flat 5k…This made it easier to move up close to my competition from the very beginning and to take some risks with speed.” Holmes said, “My main goals were to get out strong and stay up front, remain focused, competitive, and aggressive throughout the entire race, and work together with Aubree to finish in one of the All-7 Sisters positions.” Both runners did so with a time of 18:12 for Piepmeier and 18:21 for Holmes. This is not the first time the duo has led the team. The week prior, at the Saratoga Invitational, Holmes set a new record for Vassar with her 5K time. Piepmeier was not far behind and finished with the second fastest time in the program’s history. Several other runners had personal bests as well. Noel DiBona ’16 was Vassar’s third place runner and had an excellent time of 19:22. The five Vassar runners after her all finished within five seconds of each other. After such a great overall performance, the team was optimistic about the Seven Sisters race. Vassar’s cross country team has taken first place in the race for the past two years, a feat the women had hoped to repeat this year. Though there were several good individual
Aubree Piepmeier ‘14 above is a member of the Women’s Cross Country team. She finished second of 93 runners in the this year’s annual Seven Sisters race, running the 5K in under nineteen minutes. performances, the team was not at their best. Wellesley College had a very strong team and took the first place title with its first seven runners finishing before Vassar’s first three. The team hopes to use the race as a reminder not to be complacent. “While we are disappointed with the final results, this race was a learning experience and adds more fuel to the fire for our upcoming race at the Liberty Leagues,” noted Piepmeier. Liberty League Championships will be held at Clarkson University on Saturday, Oct. 27, giving the team exactly two weeks after the Seven Sisters race to improve. The results of this race may not have been what the team had hoped, but second place is certainly something of which to be proud. There is a lot of room for progress, which is likely to happen within this season as well as the subsequent ones. Though the cross country team was led by two upperclassmen, Piepmeier feels that many of the younger runners look promising. “Our team has a lot of young talent and you never really know who is going to step up in
the coming season. Our freshman class has been a great addition and I can see their confidence growing with every race,” she noted. “For the most part though, I just like to focus on the season in front of me. We still have several big races to think about in 2012,” she added. Holmes is looking forward to ending her college running career with strong finishes. Once cross country is over, track season will start two weeks later. Since she has been involved with running for much of her life, Holmes hopes to continue to do so after graduation, possibly in the form of a half-marathon. She is certainly proud of her teammates and her fellow senior runners. “Our senior class this year has been really cohesive and strong, which is especially exciting because so many of us have returned from injury or time abroad. It’s been wonderful having things finally come together as a class for our senior year and you couldn’t assemble a more supportive and genuine group of women if you tried, so that makes coming to practice everyday and working out together pretty easy.”
Over break, no rest for Vassar atheletes Kerrin Poole
Guest reporter Men’s Soccer:
This past Saturday, the Vassar men’s soccer team defeated Hunter College 2-0 at home on their annual Senior Day. The seven seniors graduating from the team this year— Gary Clauss, Nick Kilmarx, Zander Mrlik, Simon Whitelaw, Dante Varotsis, Casey Rice and Eric Geisse—were all celebrated during pregame ceremonies and contributed to the win. The first goal was scored by junior Juliano Pereira in the second minute when he received a pass from Mrlik, while the second goal was scored by Varotsis in the 17th minute to seal the lead. Having outshot Hunter 35-4, the Brewers dominated play and brought their record to 9-4-2. Women’s Soccer:
On Wednesday, Vassar women’s soccer ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win against Rutgers-Newark. Goals were scored by sophomore Kim Kogler (her first of the season), freshman Lucy Brainerd and junior Gavriella Kaplan, who scored the final goal of the game with a pass from freshman Becca Olson. Freshman goalkeeper Emma Nichols also had success in her first collegiate start and shutout after having made four saves. Following this win, the Brewers faced the University of Rochester on Saturday in their last home game of the season for their annual Senior Day in which they tied 1-1. The Brewer’s sole goal was scored by sophomore Chloe Wheeler, that being her ninth of the season. With a record of 9-7-1, VC women’s soccer next plays Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. Women’s Volleyball:
At the Elmhurst Invitational on Friday, Oct. 19, the Vassar women’s volleyball team rebounded from a tough 3-1 (14-25, 25-18, 18-25) loss to Haverford College and defeated North
Park University 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-22). During the Haverford match, senior Chloe McGuire had 11 kills and sophomore Clara Cardillo had seven. Junior Hilary Koenigs had 29 set assists, while freshman Chloe Hallum and junior Jessie Ditmore had 12 and 11 digs. In the North Park victory, sophomore Marie Pitre had 12 kills and only one attack error, while McGuire also racked up 12 kills. In the second day of competition at the Elmhurst Invitational on Saturday, the Brewers lost its two matches to Transylvania 3-2 (27-25, 25-22, 16-25, 22-25, 11-15) and to Elmhurst 3-0 (11-25, 23-25, 10-25). Next, with a record of 18-9, Women’s Rugby:
In a close contest against Marist College on Sunday, the Vassar women’s rugby team lost 29-20. A win would have given the Brewers a solid footing in the playoffs, but due to poor tackling and costly turnovers, they earned a loss. With two tries from junior Nichelle Jackson and one from junior Chelsea Boccagno. Vassar fought hard but in the end, the game came down to consistency in basic skills. In order to make it to the playoffs, the Brewers must now win their final conference game of the year. The “B” side fared slightly better with one by junior Nichelle Jackson. Next, with a record of 3-3-1, VC women’s rugby will play Rutgers University on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 12 p.m. Men’s Rugby:
On Monday, the Vassar men’s rugby team won their match against Stony Brook University 31-11. Despite some issues with remaining consistent and forcing turnovers, the Brewers had tries scored by Akeel St. Vil ’14 (2), Jehan Shams ’13 (2), and Ian Ruginski ’13 (1), and cons by sophomore Nick Graham (3). The “B” side experienced less success and only scored one try. Losing by only a single score, the game was extremely close. Since their game against Manhattanville College having been canceled,
the VC men’s rugby next faced Hofstra University at the Vassar College Farm on Sunday, Oct. 21 with a 2 p.m. kickoff. Men’s/Women’s Rowing:
On Saturday, a select group of Vassar athletes represented the Brewers at the 49th Annual Head of the Charles in Boston, MA. Competing with over 9000 other athletes, the men’s and women’s rowing teams competed in the Champ Men’s 2x, Collegiate Men’s 4+, and the Collegiate Women’s 4+ events. The men’s double earned a medal as the fastest undergrad boat in the entire event, which boasted national and Olympic team athletes. The women’s team also experienced success having placed 18th overall, earning their entry into the event for the 2013 competition year. Vassar was also represented by the Men’s Alumni 8+, which consisted of athletes who graduated between 2006 and 2012. Field Hockey:
With two crucial games this weekend, field hockey faced some of their toughest competition yet and lost both on Friday to the University of Rochester (3-1) and on Saturday to William Smith University (6-1). In the Rochester game, a strong first half left the Brewers ahead 1-0 but they were upended by Rochester’s strong offense in the second half. The lone goal was scored by senior Rebecca Smith off an assist from junior Cameron Felt. Despite junior Maggie Brelis having made 13 saves, the Yellow Jackets clenched the victory. The Brewers unfortunately fared no better on Saturday as they lost to No. 11 nationally-ranked William Smith during their annual Senior Day. Seniors Ashten Bartz and Rebecca Smith both aided immensely in Vassar’s fight against the Herons, resulting in the Brewers’ only goal made by Smith in the 23rd minute. Next, with a record of 7-7 (0-5 LL), the Brewers will face Union in Troy, N.Y. on Oct. 27.
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s playoffs are quickly approaching, the Vassar men’s soccer team is in a position to take the Liberty League Championships and get the first seed. The team has already managed to go far into playoffs, and is looking for a repeat performance. However, it must play a few more important games before the team can boast this stat. The team has been performing exceptionally well so far, winning three of their Liberty League matches and only losing one to St. Lawrence University, 0-2. Head Coach Andrew Jennings is pleased with the quality of play that the team has produced. He believes it to be well-balanced and strong in all areas of play and in all positions on the field. “We have played well this year—quite consistent in many phases of the game. But we would prefer to have scored more goals in open play. Like last year, we tend to score most of our goals from set pieces. We are definitely a solid unit both offensively and defensively.” The team and their status as Liberty League first seed depends on only two more games. The team has a game on Oct. 24 against Union College an their final match will be against Bard College on Oct. 27. If the team wins both of their matches, that will lead to the first seed in Liberty League playoffs. Both Head Coach Andrew Jennings and members of the team have one goal in mind: to win the title and make it to the sweet sixteen. Written by Jennings, “Winning the playoffs automatically qualifies us for the NCAAs. We are still on course to do that.” Senior Dante Varotsis ’13 is very confident in his team’s abilities. “We have a chance to make history for this program and we intend to capitalize on that chance,” he wrote in an emailed statement. The team has already won key matches in order to get to the position that they are currently in. In a tight home match against Hobart College, Vassar pulled out a 1-0 win, giving them three points in the Liberty League and pushing them ahead. The winning goal versus Hobart College was made by Zander Mrlik ’13, while a total of seven key blocks were made by junior goalkeeper Ryan Grimme. This crucial win shot down Hobart’s Liberty League chances while still keeping Vassar’s hopes alive. Another strong win came with the team’s 4-0 defeat of Skidmore College. Head Coach Jennings was particularly pleased. “The 4-0 win against Skidmore was probably our most satisfying game,” he wrote. Both of these wins were valuable in helping to propel the Brewers towards the upper regions of the Liberty League standings this year. When it comes to the team’s overall success, Varotsis credits this to one key factor: “I would say a great deal of our success comes from how close our team is,” he wrote. “At the end of the day this program creates a brotherhood.” As a senior, Varotsis knows that this is his last year with the team. “It is a scary reality that this is the end of the road for the greatest passion of my life, but I have spent these last four years playing with my best friends.” No matter the outcome of their season, the players are incredibly happy with what they’ve accomplished so far this year. But their focus remains on clinching another Liberty League title and NCAA berth. Varotsis is very optimistic about their chances. “In and out of the league we have proven to be strong competitors with a winning mentality, something that no other Vassar men’s soccer team has done in the past.” Varotsis is particularly impressed with the way his team has adapted this season and adjusted to create a squad that really knows how to work together. “I believe our team has progressively and swiftly moved towards the difficult but rewarding vision and philosophy of our coach, which calls for increases in possession, composure, and passing of the ball along with an understanding of the roles of yourself and the players around you.” Win or lose, the Vassar College Men’s 20122013 Soccer Team will certainly maintain their image as one of the most successful teams in Vassar athletics.
October 25, 2012
Fantasy sports teams an outlet for avid fans Zach Rippe
WOMEN’S FIELD HOCKEY VASSAR AT SCRANTON
WOMEN’S RUGBY MARIST AT VASSAR
MEN’S SOCCER HUNTER AT VASSAR
hen people hear the word “fantasy,” they will often think of magic and mystical stories, people or ideas. Put the name of a sport after that word, and the meaning and the stakes change completely. To some, these words may still apply as they tend to enhance the fan experience and create a new culture that can change the experience of being a sports fan. Today, fantasy sports are so huge that they alone can be a reason for fans to watch a particular sport. If you google the word “fantasy,” for example, seven of the first eight entries deal with fantasy football. Fantasy sports began way back in the 1950s when fantasy golf was created, which sounds exhilarating. Then, back in 1960, a sociologist at Harvard University created a sort of fantasy league based on the Harvard baseball team. This slowly began to spread to other colleges and universities. The first fantasy football league was called “The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League,” and it consisted of eight fantasy teams. But these early attempts at what we now know as fantasy sports today paled in comparison to the Rotisserie League Baseball in 1980. This was similar to the leagues we have today in which people select players from teams in the MLB and follow their statistics throughout the ongoing season. By 1988, around 500,000 people were playing fantasy sports of some kind. While different types of fantasy sports continued to develop and grow, the explosion of fantasy sports only occurred with the arrival of the Internet. Obviously, the Internet allowed for easy accessibility along with organization of leagues, stats and data. CBS Sports Fantasy Games and Rotowire have often credited themselves as “forever changing
the fantasy sports industry.” According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), it is estimated that 32 million people ages 12 and up played fantasy sports in 2010. The industry is estimated to have a 3-4 billion dollar impact every year. Today, almost every type of fantasy sport is available, from your more traditional sports like baseball, football and basketball, to sports like hockey, cricket, auto racing and professional wrestling, to things that are not even really sports—like Fantasy Congress. In summation, fantasy sports are kind of a big deal. I myself am in a fantasy football league this year (despite knowing absolutely nothing about the NFL). I have also just joined a fantasy basketball league with some friends from back home. I am planning on organizing a few fantasy baseball leagues next spring as well. Of those three, it seems as if fantasy football has become somewhat of a culture. Take the hilarious show on FX called The League as an example. The men of the show go so far as to ridicule one another and at times endanger themselves and their families for the sake of some fantasy points. This is obviously an exaggeration (maybe), yet the reality is that many people become completely consumed with their fantasy team, organizing drafts, viewing parties and putting large sums of money on the table. This breeds a new culture and bonding opportunity while enhancing (or destroying) the sport fan experience. When fans watch a football game, they are no longer watching simply to enjoy the game, but because they are rooting for their specific players. Thus, a meaningless game against the Cardinals and the Vikings could turn into an intense viewing experience that could make or break one’s chances at a weekly victory. The problem in this, however, is that it may
completely suck the enjoyment out of a sporting event. Say you are a Giants fan, but you need RG3 to get you big points. Do you take a loss for your team for fantasy points? Do you sacrifice fantasy points so that your real team gets a win? Can you ever really be happy? How can you truly enjoy watching football when you may have large sums of money resting on how many yards Arian Foster runs? For a casual football fan like myself, however, fantasy is turning out to be a good experience. Why watch if you have nothing to invest in? It provides me, and hopefully others, with a good gateway into the world of professional sports, its intricacies, a level of common ground with football fans and hopefully a witty conversation starter or two. Sports have been and continue to be a huge part of culture, not just in America, but also across the entire world. Fantasy sports have slowly been woven into this culture. If you turn on NBA TV, there is a daily program dedicated to updating fans with the latest fantasy news. ESPN has several flagship fantasy football programs that used to annoy me when I was little and wanted to watch Around the Horn and PTI. People build their careers around this, putting out magazines and Internet articles that give fans the inside scoop every year. And who wouldn’t want the inside scoop? For most of us sports fans, this is the closest thing we get to being involved with professional sports. We feel like for once, we are in control. We make the decisions and we thus see our own results. Players and teams suddenly become ours in more than just a symbolic sense of rooting for a team. There is room for manipulation and strategy. There are direct rewards and consequences. But most importantly, there is something to think about when the game isn’t on.
Fighting outside of the ring reduces boxing’s popularity Eli J. Vargas I
nce a great sport, boxing has hit an alltime low in popularity. At one point, boxing could glue anyone with a working pair of eyeballs to watch two men pitted against one another, fighting until one man could fight no longer. When we think of boxing, great names come to mind: Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano, but all of these names are from the past. This may be due to the fact that many larger boxers are not dominating the ring and we are forced to watch smaller, less powerful fighters. Another reason may be due to the fact that, since the rise of professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), more potential boxers are seeking the “Octagon” instead of the “Ring.” Whatever the differences may be, one thing is certain: boxing just doesn’t seem to be what it used to be. There is some lack of magic or luster, and there is no underdog or great story that forces you to cheer for a certain fighter. What boxing is in need of right now is a historic fight. This is exactly what the sport has the opportunity create. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a five-division champion with an undefeated record, and boxing fans from around the world have been pining to see him face off with the Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao, a seven-division champion since 2010. But with all of the media attention, fight negotiations have reached a dead end. Neither party can decide on how the money from the fight will be split. The blame falls largely on Mayweather’s side, with Mayweather refusing to split the payments 50-50, and instead paying Pacquiao a barrage of insults. Along with this, the two cannot agree upon the drug testing that would occur prior to the fight. It seems that the only thing that these two have agreed upon is a defamation settlement resulting from Mayweather accusing Pacquiao of taking Performance Enhancing Drugs. Many people are beginning to believe that the only
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reason this fight has not happened yet is because Mayweather is scared to put his title and unblemished record on the line. Through all of this waffling from both sides, the actual sport of boxing is ultimately the loser. The negotiations have been strung out over a three-year period, resulting in fans losing interest and becoming frustrated. Mayweather and Pacquiao are the two biggest names today, and a fight between the two of them would be the fight of the decade, bringing much-needed national attention to the sport. This fight would draw fighters back to boxing instead of the quickly rising UFC. What makes this whole ordeal even worse is the fact that Pacquiao lost on a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley last June, thus ending Pacquiao’s seven-year winning streak. This decision has called to be overturned by many, but a loss is a loss. Pacquiao is still the great fighter that he is, and yes the fight was controversial, but this fight just isn’t what it would have been before the fight. It is still a fight of the two greatest fighters of this decade, but no longer is at least a seven-year winning streak on the line. This further adds to the frustration of fans, because the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight could and should have been decided over two years ago, but now Pacquiao’s recent record has been blemished. This seems to boxing as of late; pushing back fights until either each fighter is past their prime or the fight is completely irrelevant. Let’s just hope that this doesn’t become the case when these two do decide to fight. Instead of fighting over money, both of these fighters should show signs of maturity and realize that this is not about them personally; this is about where the sport of boxing will be heading into the future. Mayweather and Pacquiao have the opportunity to save boxing from decreasing popularity and they should show it the respect that it deserves by splitting the purse 50-50 and letting their fists do the talking, just like the greats of old used to do.
October 25, 2012
As season ends, women’s tennis sends player to NY finals Chris Brown
fter an intense tournament full of rigorous matches, sophomore Hannah Van Demark competed in the finals at New York State Division Three Women’s Tennis Championships at Ithaca College. Van Demark fell to Skidmore College’s freshman Caroline Hobbs 6-2, 6-4, bringing an end to an eventful fall season for Vassar women’s tennis. The 2012 fall season for women’s tennis started on Sept. 9 with the Lindsey Morehouse Invitational and ended with the recent state finals. Head Coach Kathy Campbell came into this past season with a clear plan in place. “Entering the fall season, one primary goal was to get each player as much match experience as possible,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “Because collegiate tennis is a fall and spring sport, all of the work accomplished in the fall prepares us for the upcoming spring season,”
she added. The fall season for women’s tennis focuses mainly on tournament style tennis, which features matches against many different opponents, rather than duel matches against individual schools. Campbell and the rest of the coaching staff aimed to get all the players ready for next season, when the National championships are held. The most recent match, the New York State Championships, was an exceptionally successful tournament for the Vassar tennis team. Along with Van Demark making it to the finals in her draw, there were three semifinalists (junior Lindsay Kantor, freshman Lauren Stauffer and senior Natalie Santiago) and two quarterfinalists (sophomore Jennifer Ruther and freshman Winifred Yeates) in their respective draws. Stauffer and Yeates also advanced to the semis as a doubles team while freshman Kelsey Van Noy and sophomore Anisha Kurien made it to the doubles quarterfinals. “[The tourna-
courtesy of Vassar Athletics
Natalie Santiago ’13 returns a volley at the NY State DIII Women’s Tennis Championships at Ithaca College on October 14. Vassar’s team did well, with players ranking among finalists and semi-finalists.
ment] provided a great opportunity and more experience for more players,” wrote Campbell. As this tournament was happening, in Mobile, Ala., sophomores Ava Sadeghi and Samantha Schapiro were competing in the ITA Small College National Championships. This elite tournament invites the eight top singles players and eight top doubles teams from Division Three schools to come and compete. This year was Sadeghi’s second invite to the event, but it was the first time in Vassar women’s tennis history that a doubles team attended the event, that team consisting of Sadeghi and Schapiro. Campbell was extremely proud of both of her players. “It was a great honor and accomplishment for Ava and Sam to qualify and they proved that they deserved to be there,” wrote Campbell. The players on the team are pleased with their performance this past season as well. After her fantastic performance, Van Demark was pushed to keep practicing and to play harder. “The excitement of competing in the finals definitely helped me play some of my best tennis of this fall. It was so much fun having such a close match–the first set really could have gone either way,” she wrote. “It was a great way to end the fall season and certainly has motivated me to keep working hard this winter.” As well as gaining match experience, the fall season has helped to improve the overall team dynamic. Van Demark stated that team unity is important to its success. “Being that next season is full of team matches, teamwork is imperative,” she stated. Freshmen play a large role in this unity, and Van Demark also stated that, “The overnight tournaments were a lot of fun, especially because they gave us the opportunity to get to know all of the freshmen better.” One of these freshmen is Lauren Stauffer, who made it to the semifinals at state. Stauffer enjoyed the fall season as a whole and feels that the team has a unique dynamic. In an emailed statement she wrote that, “As a freshman, I went into this season focusing on playing/performing well and making a positive impact on the team.” In between the two seasons, the team does not rest. Players work on their individual games
and fitness over the winter break in order to prepare for the busy season ahead. “No training is mandatory in the off-season, but the players know they need to be ready,” wrote Campbell. “They want to win the league and qualify for nationals in the spring.” Stauffer is aware that the team will spend their extra time preparing. “We will continue to train and practice so that once the spring season arrives, we will be ready to go and play well in the Liberty League and hopefully Nationals,” she wrote. She also described her experience at state finals and wrote that, “I competed in doubles and singles which was a ton of fun. While I enjoy singles, I also love doubles and it was exciting to continue to play in the season with Winnie Yeates, a fellow freshman on the team. In doubles, I think one of our goals for this season was to improve our communication and net play, which I think we have and I really look forward to doubles in the spring.” Spring duel matches start on Feb. 15 and continue for the rest of the semester, culminating at the National Championships. The spring season consists of weekly matches against individual schools. Like many other sports on the Vassar campus, women’s tennis is a member of the Liberty League. If the team performs well within the Liberty League, they will go to the Division Three National Championships, an accomplishment that has been achieved before by the Vassar team. Last year, the team made it to the top 16 in the Championships. With all of the success accumulated in the fall season, the Vassar women’s tennis team is confident that the spring season is going to be a great one. “I think we are going to have an extremely strong spring season,” wrote Van Demark. “If we keep working as hard as we have been, I think our team is capable of capturing the Liberty League title and having another strong finish at nationals.” Coach Campbell shares her players’ optimism. “I think we are contenders for winning the Liberty League title, once again qualifying for the NCAA Championship,” wrote Campbell. “We have the team to accomplish these things if we stay healthy and are mentally tough.”
Freshman finishes 16th out of 192 at Saratoga Invitational Amreen Bhasin reporter
Katie de Heras/The Miscellany News
onah Williams ’16 of the men’s cross country team has set some expansive personal goals to accomplish during his freshman season. “By the end of the season,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “I hope to break 26 minutes for the 8k and go for all-region honors...and qualify for NCAA nationals.” With the freshman’s talent and persistent work ethic, these goals seem quite possible if not probably. Men’s cross country Head Coach James McCowan hasn’t had much to do to keep Williams on track. “He is a naturally competitive guy, who came from a top-notch competitive high school program, so we haven’t been trying to really push or shape him at all. I could see that he had the drive to excel and was willing to do the right work, so it really makes our job as coaches much easier: we just provide the right opportunities and stay out of the way,” wrote McCowan. With the season winding down and final championship races about to start, Williams’ mental game is strong as ever. McCowan further stated, “[Williams] has been getting more focused and is setting higher goals for himself.” Despite this being his first year on the team, Williams has been a key performer for the Brewers. Recently, at the Saratoga Invitational, he was the first freshmen to finish at 16th place in a field of 192 runners. This helped improve the overall team time by two minutes, constituting the best overall time since 1987. McCowan has been ecstatic with such performances so far. “[Williams] has been a consistent point scorer all season long. With the final championship races now right on the horizon, he has been getting more focused and is setting higher goals for himself.” He continued, “I think we will all find he has just been scratching the surface of his potential...he has been a tremendous contribution to
the team so far, and we are looking forward to a bright future with Jonah on the team.” Williams has also been incredibly happy with his season so far. “Everyone has been working hard and we have been able to beat some good teams and are definitely on track to reach our goal of top ten in our region.” But individually, he must constantly raise his own bar to achieve the goals that he has set for himself. “My 8k time has improved every meet. I have already exceeded the expectations I had for myself this season.” As a freshman, Williams has the added pressure of adjusting to collegiate life for the first time. In a Fall sport this can be an especially immense challenge. While everyone else is becoming acquainted with one another and the campus, Fall athletes have added commitments which take away from Freshman activities. “I’m away from my dorm a lot because of practice and spending time with my teammates, so I’ve missed out on some fellow group activities.” But Williams doesn’t feel that he’s been missing out. “It has definitely been a big adjustment switching to running and academics at the college level...[and] just getting used to new types of training and new teammates. I have definitely, however, responded well to the training, and my teammates are great, they have really made me feel at home at Vassar. It has also been very exciting being a freshman on the team.” Williams has had to work to try and meet the challenge of his new academic obligations as well as his athletic ones. But so far he seems to be adjusting well. “I just have to get down to work when I have free time. Having a limited amount of time has definitely helped me stay focused on my school work and manage my time well.” To add on to his already packed schedule, the Williams works as an Interlibrary Loan Assistant on campus. But despite this busy schedule, he loves being a part of the cross country team. “Traveling to big meets has been a lot of fun and there has been a lot of great competition.”
Athlete of the Week Johan Williams ’16 hopes to qualify for NCAA nationals. His coach attributes his strong performance at the Saratoga Invitational to his persistence and background in the sport. Williams began running track in 5th grade and joined cross country the year after. “I went to a small Waldorf school and cross country and track were the only sports offered, so I started running as something to do and then go really into it.” Beyond elementary school, he continued developing his love of running and ran for his high school in Saratoga Springs, New York. Despite all of this preparation for participation in college athletics, Williams considers himself to be a rather ritualistic runner. He likes to follow the same routine before each and every race to help him mentally. “The night before my races I always sleep in my uniform shorts, I also always wear the same pair of socks during my races. Before races I’ll run out from the starting line, I then jog back and slap my legs and move my arms in a special way.” Furthermore, he relishes in pre-race rituals with his team. “As a team, before races we all stride out from the line and our captain holds deer antlers, we then get in a circle and all
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touch the deer antlers while our captains and coaches give us a pre-race talk, it’s a really cool ritual and it helps us get focused for our races.” Williams’ consistent and focused race plan has so far been paying off for him all season. “[I’ve] been going out somewhat relaxed and just maintaining a good position for the first stages of the race, then during the last two kilometers I start picking it up, and pass people until the end of the race.” He also wrote, “During races, one of my strengths is my confidence at the end of races, this helps me finish hard and not back down.” In addition to his place on the cross country team, Williams plans on hopefully joining an a capella group next year along with his other campus activities. He looks forward to contributing to the success of the Brewers and improving his own times in order to make NCAA nationals. This marks the start of what should prove to be an impressive four years as a part of Vassar men’s cross country for Williams.