NYU’s Daily Student Newspaper
washington square news Vol. 39, No. 47
University sends most students abroad
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2011
An off-season turning of tassels for CAS grads
By Tony Chau
In an attempt to shift from being “in and of the city” to “in and of the world,” NYU got some good news last month. In a recent report by the Institute of International Education, NYU ranked first in sending students abroad and third in the number of international students. With a total of 7,988 international students in 2010, NYU fell just three students shy of second place to the University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign. Both were behind the 8,615 international students at the University of Southern California. In the last seven years, the number of international students at NYU has steadily increased from just over 5,000 students at the start of the period. Director of the International
R INTERNATIONAL continued on PG. 3
The NYU Pipes and Drums played to the 308 CAS graduates at the Baccalaureate ceremony in Skirball yesterday afternoon. By Hanqing Chen It may be too cold to jump into the fountain, but over 300 students from the September 2011 and January 2012 classes turned their tassels and graduated from the College of Arts and Science yesterday. Yesterday afternoon in the Skirball Center for Performing Arts,
308 CAS students participated in the Baccalaureate Ceremony. After acting Dean Gabrielle Starr’s opening remarks, Dean Emerita of the Graduate School of Arts and Science Catharine Stimpson spoke of the incredible pressures placed on today’s graduates. Despite the uncertain job market and economy, Stimpson was
CAS junior spreads eco-friendly action By Jessica Littman
courtesy of erin schrode
Schrode enables youth to pursue education via The Schoolbag.
CAS junior Erin Schrode has been an activist and self-proclaimed eco-renaissance woman since she was 13. That’s when she co-founded her first non-profit after growing concerned about the environmental effects of skin care and beauty products. “A study came out linking effects of beauty products to negative reproductive health issues, and at age 13 that was nothing I wanted near my body,” Schrode said. “There’s a certain naivety when you’re 13 that you think everything’s being taken care of and then you find out that it’s not and you say, ‘Wow, we have to stop this.’” Schrode’s naïvety led her and her mother to start Teens Turning Green, which educates children on the potentially harmful chemicals
SCHRODE continued on PG. 4
confident that NYU students have the skills, ambition and resolve to succeed. “I speak today with hope for and faith in your promise,” she said. Stimpson also said that intellectual liberation will allow students to express their ideas freely and reach their goals. “You are intellectually and imagi-
natively free, and you escape from dogma,” she said. CAS senior Sarah Kolinovsky addressed her fellow graduates and spoke of how her experience at NYU has prepared her for her life post-graduation. “We haven’t been isolated in
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Wrestlers impress at Ted Reese Invitational By John Axelrod The NYU wrestling team had an impressice showing Saturday, placing second of 11 teams at the Ted Reese Invitational in Gorham, Maine. The field included teams from Division I, Division II and Division III schools. The Violets posted a team score of 95.5, just 4.5 points behind the first-place winner, Trinity College. Three NYU wrestlers came away with individual titles at the tournament. Senior David Rice won all five of his matches in the 165-pound division and was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. His most impressive victory came in the semifinals when he beat Ronnie Tetreault of American International College. Tetreault
is the eighth-ranked wrestler in Division II. Rice remains unbeaten with a 12-0 record on the season. He is currently ranked eighth in Division III. “David Rice wrestled very well,” head coach Bruce Haberli said. “He beat two great wrestlers to win the tournament and remain undefeated.” Junior Janik Santana-Quintana was able to win his second individual title of the season, winning in the 125-pound class. Santana-Quintana easily won his first two matches before being slated to wrestle freshman teammate Alex Becker in the final. But the decision was made not to have the teammates wrestle each other and Becker withdrew.
R SWIM continued on PG. 5
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GRADUATION continued from PG. 1
An off-season turning of tassels for CAS graduates
campuses populated with 18- to 22year-olds, and we haven’t had social lives that revolve around football teams,” she said. “Instead, we have been thrust into an adult world in a demanding environment. And for us, that has been the greatest learning experience.” Ariel Ostad, an NYU alumna and dermatologist, told the graduates to trust their instincts and intuition. “When you pursue your passion, no matter it is, it not only bring[s] you happiness, but it will also bring you success,” she said. CAS senior Marileny Peralta said she was elated to graduate and plans to further her education and study architecture at the Mexico Institute of Art in the future. “It’s been four years, and I couldn’t
be happier,” she said. CAS senior and member of NYU’s swimming and diving team Bryson Naylor, who was also the class marshall in the ceremony, said he was proud to graduate, despite his nerves. “I’m a little nervous going to the real world now,” Naylor said. “I feel very accomplished after these three and a half years.” Naylor offered wise words of advice to underclassmen. “You’re here for school, but enjoy the city as much as you can,” he said. “Because you never know where you’re going to go next.” Hanqing Chen is a deputy city/state editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INTERNATIONAL continued from PG. 1
University sends most students abroad Student Office David Austell said NYU’s reputation, rooted in its faculty and its location, is attractive to international students. “The size of NYU’s international student community has everything to do with the power, depth and excellence of our academic programs,” Austell said. Rocio de la Garza, Stern freshman from Mexico, thinks international students are well integrated in the NYU community. “The university has really embraced the international aspect and has made it seem the most natural thing to have peers from all over the world,” he said. In the same report, NYU led all universities in the number of students studying abroad, sending 4,156 overseas during the 20092010 academic year — an 18 percent increase from the previous year. This year marks the ninth consecutive year that NYU has led U.S. universities in sending students abroad. In October of 2010, NYU announced that it was expanding its two most popular abroad sites, Paris and London. The university is also planning to open a new study abroad site in Sydney, Australia by the fall of 2012.
CAS junior Stephanie Maida, who studied in London last spring, said she wasn’t surprised to hear about the ranking. “Almost every student I talk to has either gone abroad already or is about to go,” she said. Austell thinks a reason for the university’s success is its commitment to providing international opportunities for students within the context of their majors. “The NYU portal campuses in Abu Dhabi and in Shanghai will be an increasing stimulus for study abroad,” he said. Universities in the rankings had similar sentiments toward their philosophy of international education. Brett Berquist, the executive director of the Office of Study Abroad at Michigan State University, which ranked second, pointed to the importance of global education. “I think that students of today’s generation are more and more realizing that understanding other ways of looking at the world, other cultures and other business environments is really important to their future,” Berquist said. Tony Chau is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.
FILE PHOTO BY LAUREN STRAUSSER
NYU London expanded its program by 12 percent this year.
UVL winner makes juggling an art form By Feiye Wang CAS senior David Sangillo wants people to know that juggling isn’t just for clowns. Last month’s winner of the Senior House Ultra Violet Live preliminaries, Sanglillo has juggled at events from birthday parties to retirement homes, impressing several audiences with his intricate tricks and choreography. “I think that there’s [a] misconception of juggling that comes with face makeup,” he said. “I want to show that juggling is much more than that. It can be treated as a sport and art form.” Sangillo first fell in love with juggling at his seventh birthday party when he watched an entertainer at the event. What started out as a hobby turned into a profitable business and fodder for high school talent competitions — all thanks to friend Jake Stevens, who first taught him how to juggle. “David was just around and he wanted to learn how to juggle, so I taught him a little, but really beyond some first tips it’s mostly a self-taught sort of skill,” Stevens said. When his business first began, he said it struggled. But Sangillo used magazine advertisements and references from others to gain more recognition. “My first 20 or so performances were duds,” Sangillo said. “But I eventually learned to keep the audience entertained.” His efforts have awarded him with the Best of Entertainment by Washington Family magazine and a spot on the local evening
Sangillo has one last chance to capture first prize at UVL. news. He has since expanded his street performances to New York, and he now relies on his business to help pay for books and a part of his tuition. This will be Sangillo’s third and final attempt at winning the elusive first place prize at this year’s UVL. Each time, he said, he has learned something new. “One thing I need to do this time is [to be] more decisive,” he said. “The last time I performed, I kept changing the music. I choose the music two days before I performed, so I ended up figuring out the routine then.” Armed with brand new equip-
ment, Sangillo said the audience can expect to see fresh choreography and more glowin-the-dark material for his performance in February. Competing alongside more traditional acts like singing and dancing is a challenge, but it is one that Sangillo is willing to accept and use to his advantage. “I feel like it makes my art more unique,” he said. “People will see many different singers, but chances are they’ll only see one juggler.” Feiye Wang is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NYU drops in vegan-friendly college list By Elizabeth Maguire NYU plummeted in PETA’s Most Vegan-Friendly College rankings this year, dropping from second place last year to an unranked spot in the top 32 this year. The annual competition ranks the 20 best schools — 10 large, 10 small — for vegans. It pits universities against one another in five rounds to determine the best schools. PETA representative Marta Holmberg said the organization looks at several factors to determine the winners of the contest: student votes, student feedback, the quality and variety of vegan food and the school’s promotion of vegan options. “The schools that consistently top our list do a superb job of being first out of the gate to respond to student requests for ... crueltyfree dining options while also adapting as student dining preferences evolve,” Holmberg said. But Holmberg thinks NYU’s sharp decline has more to do with the actions of other schools than
with the NYU Dining program itself, as this year’s top-tier winners granted vegans greater access to their expanded menus and programs. “Hopefully, this will serve as an incentive for NYU to really kick things up to advance on our list as one of the most vegan-friendly colleges next year,” Holmberg said. But Owen Moore, director of NYU Dining Services, said he thinks NYU’s drop in the rankings could be attributed to a lack of promoting the contest, a large part of which depends on student votes. “This fall, we focused on promoting our new dining programs (Passport at Weinstein, Lifeworks at Palladium, Argo Tea and Burger Studio at University) and did not market the contest as [strongly] as we have in prior years,” he said. Recently, NYU added stations at both Hayden and Weinstein dining halls to provide more vegetarian and vegan options. In the second round of the contest, NYU lost to Cornell University, a school that has been increas-
ing its offering of non-meat eating options in recent years — including creating a café that caters solely to vegetarian and vegan diners. Michele Wilbur, a part-time nutritionist at Cornell, said that emphasizing locally made food helps the school maintain a strong lead in its efforts to offer more choices to vegan and vegetarian students. “All of our tofu is made locally, and it’s made from local soybeans,” she said. “The [Ithaca] community in general is very vegan-oriented, so it’s made it a bit easier for us.” Elliot Smith, a CAS freshman and vegan, said some dining halls have much better food options than others. “Hayden has a lot of variety, but not the other dining halls, especially in terms of telling you what food is vegan and what isn’t,” Smith said. “The other dining halls are good for vegetarians, no matter where you go.” Elizabeth Maguire is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.
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Bake your baklava to perfection this holiday By Cody Delistraty A Yia-yia’s, or grandmother’s, recipe is sacred and must be carefully protected. My Yia-yia’s recipe for baklava has been passed down through generations of Delistratys with special instructions you won’t find anywhere else. A staple dessert for Mediterraneans, baklava and its sugary, nutty, airy, filo dough tastes better than a kiss from Aphrodite.
YIA-YIA’S BAKLAVA Makes approximately 60 to 70 pieces
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 3 cups sugar 2 cups water 2 tbsp. honey 1 cinnamon stick 3-4 whole cloves 3-4 cups almonds, finely chopped, toasted 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 tsp. ground cloves 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 1 1/2 lbs. phyllo dough 1 lb. sweet butter, melted Rind of 1 lemon
DIRECTIONS: 1. Prepare syrup the day before and keep in refrigerator. Combine sugar, water, honey, lemon rind and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes and then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lemon peel and spices. Let cool. 2. In a bowl, combine the nuts and ground spices. Set aside. Butter an 11 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 3” baking pan. Count eight phyllo leaves, cover and set aside to reserve for the top. Brush the bottom of the pan with butter and lay a phyllo leaf and brush with butter. Repeat step for eight leaves. 3. Scoop up a handful of the nut and spice mixture and sprinkle lightly over the top. Do not be heavy-handed. Continue layering sheets, buttering each leaf and sprinkling nuts until all the leaves and nuts are used, rotating the pan several times during the procedure. Now you can use the eight reserved leaves. Spread over the top, brushing butter on each leaf. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so that butter will set. 4. Using a long, sharp knife, first score the baklava from top to bottom and then cut diagonally into diamond shapes, planning the desired size in advance. Make sure the knife touches the bottom of the pan as you cut. 5. Heat the remaining butter to a sizzle and pour over the
top. Sprinkle a few drops of water over. Heat oven to 350 F and bake for 20 minutes or until it starts to brown. Lower heat to 300 F and continue baking for approximately another 40 minutes or until golden brown and dry. Check by inserting a fork inside the phyllo to see if it is cooked and not doughy. Also check the bottom to see if it is done. 6. Remove from the oven and spoon cold syrup over the entire pastry. Tip the pan from side to side to make sure syrup is soaked in all around and does not just settle on the bottom. Cut out a couple of pieces to check. Set aside until syrup is completely absorbed, and then serve. If baklava is made in advance, cover with a towel or wax paper. Never plastic wrap.
A note on the phyllo dough If you purchase frozen phyllo, do not unwrap. Place in refrigerator overnight. The next morning, place package of phyllo on kitchen counter to finish defrosting and bring to room temperature. When working on the baklava, unwrap phyllo and immediately cover with a dry towel or saran wrap and keep it covered throughout the process. Do not expose phyllo to the air — it will crack and dry up. Use a pastry brush to brush with a moderate amount of melted, unsalted butter. Cody Deslistraty is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.
SCHRODE continued from PG. 1
CAS junior and eco-renaissance woman greens the retail shelves
“Whole Foods Market took it in to over 300 stores across the country,” Schrode said. “We were creating a solution.” Schrode’s next project came in 2010 when she traveled to Haiti shortly after the nation’s devastating earthquake. “The kids were what really struck me,” she said. “They were not learning. One night a translator said to me, ‘If I just had the supplies I would teach the kids myself.’” Schrode decided to make that possible, so she launched The Schoolbag, an organization that provides a bag filled with all the supplies a child needs for one year of school. COURTESY OF ERIN SCHRODE “We reached over Erin Schrode has been trying to save the 14,189 students,” planet since age 13. Schrode said. “My in many everyday products. In 2008, the organization moved on to launch its own line of products in conjunction with eco-friendly skin care companies.
goal was 11,210, which was the date of the earthquake. That was a catalyst that sent me to action.” While Schrode now considers environmental activism her main focus, she originally moved to New York from Northern California at age 16 to pursue a career in modeling and acting. “As a model, for the past few years I’ve gotten the chance to work with a lot of eco-companies in terms of fashion, which has been a ball for me,” Schrode said. “It’s a part of who I am, and I think beauty and fashion are fun, so why not do them in a way that’s more ethical and sustainable?” Schrode now models only for designers who she considers to be eco-friendly and ethical. “My dream is that green becomes the standard thing,” Schrode said. “That you don’t have to ask, ‘Is this green? Is this fair trade? Is this recyclable?’ You just know that it is.” Jessica Littman is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Full-court press halts women’s basketball By Laura Buccieri
The NYU women’s basketball team (4-2) let a first half lead slip away as it fell 62-50 at the hands of Baruch College (5-2) for its second straight loss. The Violets led 25-21 at halftime, despite shooting just 31 percent from the field. Their defense, however, kept them in front as they limited Baruch to only 25 percent shooting. “Our half-court offense and defense was very good,” head coach Stefano Trompeo said. “The overall urgency and competitive spirit I was happy with.” NYU, a team that usually makes
a living at the line, attempted just three free throws in the opening period. Still, NYU controlled the first half and the tempo of play. However, Baruch came out of the locker room with something to prove. The Bearcats dominated the second half, out-scoring the Violets, 41-25. “Baruch was able to take control over the tempo of the game in the second half and gained the momentum,” Trompeo said. “They applied a lot of pressure in the backcourt, which caused a lot of problems for us.” For the second time this season, NYU struggled mightily against a full court press. After nearly cough-
Senior point guard Cara Bonito leads the team in scoring.
ing up a huge lead earlier in the year against Fairleigh DickinsonFlorham when the Devils started pressing, the Violets again let the game slip away against pressure. Baruch’s intense defense led to ill-advised three-pointers, and the Violets finished the second half 0-5 from behind the arc. The Violets’ shot selection was altered by the pace of Baruch’s attack. The Bearcats didn’t give up many fast break opportunities, preventing easy lay-ups. NYU was also hindered by 22 turnovers, which gave Baruch extra opportunities to score. “We made a great effort and had great intensity, but we had way too many turnovers and couldn’t break their press,” said senior Cara Bonito, who scored all of her teamhigh 12 points in the second half. Junior Makenzie Hirz, who had 13 rebounds, was one point short of a double-double. Kiara Johnson led the way for Baruch with 17 points. NYU will look to break its losing streak on Wednesday when it hosts Manhattanville College at Coles Sports Center at 7 p.m. Laura Buccieri is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.
Fencing teams dismantled at Penn State Invitational By Sara Levy Both NYU’s men’s and women’s fencing teams faced disappointment this Saturday at the Penn State Invitational in State College, Penn. While the women’s team finished with a record of 2-5 for the day, the men had a record of 1-5. At one point, the men’s team lost four matches in a row. The Violets started the invitational with a crushing 23-4 loss to host team Penn State. They then followed up with a 17-10 defeat at the hands of the University of North Carolina, a 21-6 loss to Harvard University and a 21-6 loss against Princeton University. “Unfortunately, we had some injuries and sickness plaguing our team at this competition,” junior foilist Philip Jamesson said. “When our team is healthy, it’ll be an improvement [for the squad], simply because we’ll be operating at 100 percent.” NYU’s first victory came against Vassar College, with the Violets going 17-10 against them. The men’s last matchup took place against Sacred Heart University and ended in a 17-10 defeat. Jamesson was the lead performer for NYU in this tournament. He went 3-0 against UNC, Princeton and Vassar, bringing his overall re-
cord to 15-3 on the year. The foilists managed consecutive wins in each of their matchups, save for the opener against Penn State. “The foil squad did pretty well overall,” said senior captain Ben Radding, who was hindered by a pulled leg muscle. “We need to amp up individual performances and not be so worried about the team as a whole.” The women’s performance was still more perplexing. They also started off against Penn State, but were destroyed by the home team, 26-1. Following this up with a 22-5 loss to Temple University, the Violets managed to pull off their first victory against UNC in their third matchup of the tournament, winning 17-10. But this was soon followed by back-to-back, double-digit defeats — 23-4 against Harvard and 24-3 against Princeton. NYU split the final two matches in the invitational, beating Vassar College, 18-9, and losing a close contest against Sacred Heart University, 15-12. Both teams will look to rebound from their subpar play when they participate in NYU’s Annual Invitational at the Coles Sports Center on Jan. 22. Sara Levy is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FILE PHOTO BY RACHEL KAPLAN
The disappointing effort was NYU’s last meet until January. WRESTLING continued from PG. 1
Wrestlers impress at weekend meet It was a strong showing for Becker, who was wrestling in his first tournament since coming back from an injury. The third individual title winner was senior Gregg Martino in the 174-pound division. Martino squared off in the final against fellow teammate Pat Sheehan and was able to emerge victorious over the freshman by a score of 10-3. Martino is currently ranked sixth in Division III. Coming up just short to his teammate in the finals, Sheehan has been impressive in his first season with the team. “Pat continues to get better as the season progresses, and we know we
are going to get something great out of Pat in the future,” Haberli said. Despite not entering wrestlers in the 133-pound, 141-pound and heavyweight divisions, NYU was still able to place second in the invitational and beat Division I opponents. “I thought we did very well,” Haberli said. “I wasn’t surprised by our performance this weekend. We are a great team when we are healthy.” The team’s next match is Friday, Dec. 9 at Stevens Institute of Technology. The team is 2-3 in dual matches so far this season. John Axelrod is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com
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CAMPAIGN IN THE MEMBRANE
Higher employment good for public, bad for politics By Matthew Hughes It was a decline that we could finally get excited about. After months of hovering at or near 9 percent, the unemployment rate finally dropped to a much-improved, albeit still unhealthy, 8.6 percent — the lowest since March 2009. With 120,000 jobs added to the economy in November, politicians finally have some positive news to trumpet. For the most part, though, they didn’t. Of course, the drop made international headlines and official press releases. Everyone with even a peripheral interest in news heard about it. But that was not the doing of politicians, who were noticeably and uncharacteristically quiet in their responses to the decline. Absent were the droning buzz and unveiled insults that so often accompany these types of jobs reports. The feistiness and shameless self-promotion of previous unemployment aftermaths were also conspicuously missing this time around. The silence says more than any canned stump speech could. For all the campaign talk of wanting to fix
the economy first and foremost, it’s pretty apparent that this isn’t quite the news that many were hoping for. The stagnated jobs bill discussions and frighteningly down-tothe-wire debt-ceiling decision last summer have made this clear. Some simply do not want the unemployment rate to go down. For a sizeable amount of our elected officials and aspirants, the economy is important primarily in terms of its effect on their electoral chances. And for an out-of-power party, the best thing that can seemingly happen in an election is sometimes the worst that can happen for the country. The lingeringly high unemployment helped John Boehner and the gang take the House last year, just as the financial meltdown of 2008 propelled President Barack Obama to electoral victory. But there’s a difference between benefiting from the side effects of failure and actively seeking to obstruct progress and wreak havoc. In recent years, and especially since Obama took office, politics has shifted toward the mentality that the entire nation’s loss is one party or candidate’s gain. And more im-
portantly, politicians have become all too aware that they don’t have to leave failure up to chance; they can make it happen themselves. What we need to realize is that we can make things happen, too. Some politicians will always put their own interests ahead of their constituents’ — it’s just the nature of the game. But that’s only because we allow it. We have the power and responsibility to change things for the good of the country. The best way to do that is not on the streets, but at the ballot box, where the fates of so many candidates lie at our fingertips. These past few years, it has become clear that a politician’s top priority is to keep his or her job. We can and should take advantage of that and hold accountable anyone who ignores the 13.3 million jobless in this country. Ultimately, the voters are the bosses. Matthew Hughes is a columnist. His column, “Campaign in the Membrane,” is about the sociology of politics and appears every Monday. Email him at email@example.com.
A college student’s handbook
To fight stress remember to breathe
By Richard Zhang
They’re coming: Exams are looming and all kinds of projects, essays and presentatons are pressing students in their final days of the semester. By now, a lot of students, like Mak, a CAS junior majoring in computer science and mathematics, are pulling their hair out. “Three exams and two projects to be done in three weeks,” Mak said. “It’s just insane. The work is killing me. I can’t even breathe anymore.” Mak later admitted that he is worried that he won’t finish everything and that he might fail his courses. Indeed, anxiety is probably the most common emotional state of many students by the end of the semester. With the insanely huge amount of work, people find it hard not to worry. But there are several ways to relieve this anxiety. One simple and effective way is called breathing or, more specifically, deep and slow breathing. We are often told to take deep breaths, but not everyone realizes the importance of doing so. Dr. Andrew Weil once said, “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living
to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” And the Discovery Heath website explains the importance of deep breaths: “Deep breathing raises levels of blood oxygen, promoting health in many ways — from stimulating the digestive process to improving fitness and mental performance.” But the benefits of deep breathing go beyond just improving mental performance. A study from the Universidad País Vasco shows that cortisol — the chemical released in response to stress and the cause of anxiety — can be lowered by deep breathing. Other studies also show that deep and slow breathing can help reduce physical pain: Scientists exposed a group of people to probes that generate heat and discovered that all participants found the pain less intense simply by taking breaths. While it is useful to take the occasional deep breath, the best way to relieve stress is to develop a habit of taking deeper breaths. One of the most effective ways to become a habitual deep breather is by using the pause breath method.
Breathing involves two steps: inhalation and exhalation — the air comes in and goes out. At the transition between inhalation and exhalation, however, there is an infinitesimally small moment of pause when you neither inhale nor exhale. And the key to the pause breath method is to focus on those gaps between inhaling and exhaling. In other words, while keeping your breath at a normal pace, start to consciously realize that a pause exists between breathing in and out. Do this for five minutes, and you will find that by focusing your attention on the pauses, your breaths are deeper and more relaxing. Gradually, as you practice the pause breath method, you will become a habitual deep breather and final exam season will be significantly less nervewracking for you. Richard Zhang is a columnist. His column, “A College Student’s Handbook,” is about contemporary college issues and appears every Monday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Obama makes progress on college diversity front
On Friday, the Obama administration’s Justice Department sent thousands of college administrators across the country a 10-page guide to re-evaluate their admissions policy based on socioeconomic status and other factors to promote college diversity. The move by the executive branch circumvents the Supreme Court’s decision in the University of Michigan case, in which it argued that affirmative action infringes upon the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, a decision the Bush administration adapted as executive policy. The guidelines, to avoid the term “affirmative action” due to legal precedent, are concentrating on the foundations of the lack of diversity rather than the actual policy itself. The socioeconomic status and hardships applicants face, as the Justice Department recommends, should be a reason for preference in the college admissions process, as should the schools from which the applicants come, benefitting those from community colleges and racially diverse high schools. The switch in policy of the Obama administration is admirable because it pushes forward the discussion of a problem of economic inequality that runs deeper than racial identity; however, it should be noted that socioeconomic status and race are often, unfortunately, intertwined. Diversity is essential in the 21st century; a globalized world demands a globalized student body. A homogenous community that does not have a variety of voices from all walks of life, including socioeconomic class, is contradictory to the open minds education promotes. New voices have tangible benefits — an array of perspectives that serves to enhance the learning experience. These new recommendations by the Obama administration are a step in the right direction toward equitable academia, especially with the lack of policy discretion the president already has. With a gridlocked Congress and a Supreme Court divided by partisan lines, the Justice Department’s move is using this diminished executive position to the best of its ability. We can only hope that this gesture that can transcend rhetoric into reality.
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