Volume 9 Number 22
Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper • Waltham, Mass.
October 12, 2012
University releases new framework for strategic plan October reserved for month-long community input By Zach Reid Editor
photo by nate rosenbloom/the hoot
strategic plan Provost Steve Goldstein answered questions from faculty at Thursday’s meeting.
At faculty insistence, administration to make public more specific committee reports By Nathan Koskella Editor
After the new strategic plan’s preliminary framework was presented at the October faculty meeting Thursday, where several professors criticized its generality, President Fred Lawrence retook the floor and an-
nounced that a larger amount of information would be made public than originally intended. At the beginning of the forum, Provost Steve Goldstein had stressed broad principles rather than specific tactics. But by the end of a meeting where faculty repeatedly asked for more information, Lawrence decided
that there need be no reason to keep the individual reports of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s smaller task forces private, as the provost and task forces had planned. “Transparency is the hallmark of our administration and so in fact, if it See STRATEGIC PLAN, page 3
Provost Steve Goldstein released the preliminary framework for Brandeis’ strategic plan on Wednesday, highlighting the university’s commitments to social justice, global connections and selective academic excellence in new focus areas. “This proposed framework reshapes our practices in profound ways, guiding us toward the fulfillment of our founding vision while addressing today’s unique challenges,” Goldstein wrote in the framework’s cover letter. “It provides mechanisms to helps us make hard choices about investment, consolidation and redirection of resources over the coming years—choices necessary to advance our premier standing
while establishing a sustainable financial structure for the university.” The framework itself, which is now available on the university’s website, is a 14-page “rough draft” of how the next five years of the strategic plan will be enacted. It gives readers a broad overview of how Brandeis will attempt to ensure that various improvement initiatives around campus are possible, rather than specify each initiative individually. Some aspects of the framework will affect different areas and members of the community more so than others; one area that could definitively impact Brandeis students is the addition of five new educational programs. These programs include Biomedicine and Global Health, Engineering, Integrated Arts, Legal and Ethical Studies and World Issues Forum. Each of theses programs are described in the framework as being designed to bridge a gap between schools, and are emphasized as being interdisciplinary. The Integrated Arts program, which according to the framework would See FRAMEWORK, page 3
Supreme Court hears oral arguments in affirmative action case
By Connor Novy Editor
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments challenging affirmative action on Wednesday in the case of Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin. In Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, the Court—under Justice Sandra Day O’Connor—upheld 5-4 the University of Michigan Law School’s use of limited racial preference, ruling that race could be a factor in admissions, although not the sole determining factor. In March, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew
Flagel said that no matter what the court decides, Brandeis will not have to make drastic changes to its admissions standards. Because Brandeis receives federal funding, there are mandates from the court that could affect its behavior. “Unlike University of Michigan and some others,” Flagel said in a March interview, “where it’s a very overt effort to fill a certain number of requisite slots with a certain number of students from different backgrounds, that’s not been the case [at Brandeis].” “It would be impossible for me to say that race is not a factor, but it’s also a bit of a misleading concept to say that race is a direct factor, because
in reality what we do is evaluate applicants very comprehensively and holistically,” he added. While few believe that the Grutter case will be reversed, some, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, suspect that it may become inert by the court’s new ruling, which is set to come out this June. Sotomayor told Fisher’s lawyer about the current legal precedent set in 2003, “You’re trying to gut it.” The plaintiff must prove that the University of Texas differs in its methods from that of Michigan’s or other universities’ that abide by current See SCOTUS, page 3
Student clubs host forum on Zionism By Nathan Murphy Needle Staff
Students, professors and community members discussed the past, present and future of Zionism in the modern world during a forum in the international lounge Thursday evening. The event was co-sponsored by four on-campus Jewish organizations—BIPAC, J Street U, bView and Hillel—and featured commentary by student leaders, experts and members of the audience. The event was heavily attended,
Inside this issue:
and began with leaders of the sponsoring organizations discussing the current state of Zionism. Chen Arad and Gil Zamir ’15, co-founders of Brandeis Visions for Israel in an Evolving World (bView), noted the lack of discussion about Zionism in today’s society. “We need to rediscover something the Zionist movement has lost—the ability to argue with each other,” Zamir said. He also noted that the meeting was not simply a discussion of Zionist history, but rather an opportunity to brainstorm as a group and define the future of Zionism, and to produce the “next brilliant
News: Senate considers reform; votes forthcoming Page 4 Page 5 Features: Peace Corps inspires conservation Sports: Men’s soccer stretches unbeaten streak Page 10 Editorials: Strategic plan poses key questions Page 12 Page 14 Opinion: The importance of Big Bird Arts, Etc.: Into the Woods astounds at opening Page 9
movement” for Jews in Israel. Viktoria Bedo ’15, president of J Street U, also discussed her life as a socially liberal Jew in Hungary. “My Zionist identity has always been tied up with my Jewish identity,” she said. Bedo reflected on her own struggles with nationalism in her home country. “On the streets of Budapest, nationalism meant anti-Semitism,” Bedo said. “Having a sense of being Hungarian was for skinheads.” While she recognized the need for a strong See ISRAEL, page 3
spike The Judges took down Emerson 3-0 in a home game on
Into the woods opens
Sports: Page 10
Arts, Etc.: Page 9
Brandeis Men’s soccer continues undefeated streak to 17 games dating back to last year.
Brandeis’ Free Play Cooperative performance draws audience to outdoor venue
photo by alex patch/the hoot
2 The Brandeis Hoot
College Briefs By Debby Brodsky Editor
Hit and run driver who injured Bentley student identified The Waltham Police Department has identified the driver of the Sept. 16 hit-and-run accident as Eric Romero, 23, of Belmont. Romero was charged with leaving the scene of the accident with personal injury after hitting Zach Pollard, 18, a student at Bentley University.
Pollard received a broken shoulder and a concussion from the accident. Waltham police officers were able to track down Romero by the broken side mirror on his car as a result of the accident. Pollard is still recovering from his injuries at home. Source: CBS Waltham
College first-year killed by boyfriend at SUNY Authorities in Monroe, New York alleged that Alexandra Kogut, 18, a first-year at the State University of New York College at Brockport was beaten to death in her dorm room on Oct. 1 by her boyfriend, Clayton Whittemore, 21. Kogut was discovered in her dorm room after her mother contacted authorities, concerned that she couldn’t reach
her daughter. Whittemore admitted to state troopers that he intentionally killed Kogut upon his arrest near Syracuse on Saturday but did not mention a motive. Whittemore later pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Whittemore is being held in jail without bond. Source: KWTX News 10 Texas
UT Austin launches new financial aid pilot program The University of Texas (UT) at Austin instituted a new policy this fall that is designed to encourage students to graduate within four years. A randomly selected group of 200 current first-years have been offered a significant portion of money by UT-Austin to help pay off their most expensive loans if the selected students make a certain amount of progress toward their degrees within a designated
time frame. UT-Austin is administering the pilot program under pressure from the State of Texas. The state is concerned with the increased number of student loans and decreased university completion rates. If the pilot program is successful, UT-Austin financial aid officials hope to expand this opportunity to 3,200 students per year. Source: Houston Chronicle
Two bodies discovered in Charles River The Boston University police discovered a body in the Charles River near the BU boathouse early Monday morning. Shortly after the discovery was made, the medical examiner determined that the body was of a 62-year-old white male and that his body entered the water within the past two days. The medical examiner and authorities have also confirmed that the body did not show any signs of foul play. The medical examiner is currently determining whether the man was intoxicated or homeless. The body of Jonathan Dailey, a graduate student at Boston Archi-
tectural College, was discovered in the Charles River Tuesday morning. Dailey was reported missing Oct. 5 and had been missing since Oct. 2. According to authorities, Dailey’s body was found bound to chains and weighted down by a cinder block. The body was eventually identified as Dailey by his dental records. Investigators have yet to determine whether or not Dailey was a victim of foul play, or whether or not there was another cause of death, such as suicide. This was the second body found in the Charles River in two days. Source: The Boston Globe
October 12, 2012
BC student selected as first ever UN youth observer By Debby Brodsky Editor
Brooke Loughrin, a junior at Boston College in the Presidential Scholars Program has been selected as the first ever United States Youth Observer at the United Nations. Loughrin is originally from Seattle, Wash. and has spent extensive time abroad in India, Senegal, Iran, Turkey, Nicaragua and Tajikistan. According to the UNA-USA, the youth observer position is sponsored by the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), and was highly sought after, with over 730 applications received before Loughrin was selected. Loughrin will serve as the U.S. Youth Observer at the U.N. for one year and will be representing the voices of U.S. “youth” between the ages of 18 and 25 by attending meetings, traveling and speaking to UNAUSA Chapters around the country, and by blogging and tweeting about her experiences at the UN. “I have only been at it for two weeks,” Loughrin began. “On Sept. 21 they called me and said, Can you leave for New York City in three hours? We have selected you as the first ever U.N. Youth Delegate.” “I spent that first week in New York City, which is the most important week of the year. There were a lot of interesting events at the U.N., and it was very overwhelming,” Loughrin said. He met with the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, and with all the Assistant Secretaries, too, advising them on how youth can be more involved in the decision making process of the U.S. and the U.N. “Strangely enough, I found out about the position on Facebook,” Loughrin explained. “I applied on a whim that day. It was a simple application, I wrote an essay on an issue area that mattered to me and how I thought the U.N. should address it. I wrote about living in southern India during high school, and how I found the biggest barrier for girls not going to school was that they had to spend four to five hours a day looking for clean drinking water. Water issues impact so many development issues, like education.” Loughrin continued to say that this past week, she was in Washington, D.C. with the other U.N. Youth
photo by keith bedford/insider images for united nations foundation
Delegates from around the world. While the U.N. Youth Delegate position is a pilot program in the U.S., the position has existed in Norway for 30 years, whereas the youth of Kenya have been lobbying the Kenyan government for a U.N. Youth Delegate program and only this year were successful at achieving their goal. “Thirty other countries have youth delegates,” Loughrin added. “Most of them speak three or four languages, and have been selected over a year ago for the position, so they have already done a lot of work.” According to Loughrin, a large part of the U.N. Youth Delegate position entails working closely with the 30 other Youth Delegates. During Loughrin’s first week in New York City, she and the other Youth Delegates got to know one another, and tried to learn about each other’s interests regarding U.N. issue areas. The U.N. Youth Delegates currently have a Google group, a Facebook group and a Twitter feed. They are required to make speeches, work for resolutions and often like Loughrin, be full-time students as well. As a full-time student at Boston College, Loughrin majors in Political Science and Islamic Civilizations and Societies. “I’m back at school now, but I’m going back to the U.N. next weekend for a few days,” Loughrin said. “There is a lot of travel back and forth to New York City. I am also going to Washington, D.C. for a week in December, to go to the State Department, and I will travel around the country to talk to Model United Na-
Recent string of armed robberies shocks BU community
Hong Kong family sues after sons rejected by Harvard Gerald and Lily Chow of Hong Kong are suing Boston-area education consultant, Mark Zimny and his company, for promising to get their two sons into Harvard University in exchange for more than $2 million in advisory fees as well as for posing as a Harvard professor. Zimny first approached the Chows at their eldest son’s high school graduation ceremony in 2007, offering his services and connections to help get both sons into New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges. Zimny eventu-
ally asked for a $1 million retainer for each child, which the Chows paid so that Zimny could make a donation to Harvard on their behalf. Since it is common for families not familiar with the U.S. college admission process to seek professional guidance, there is a growing market of college advising companies that can take advantage of unassuming families eager for success. According to The Boston Globe, both Chow sons eventually went to Ivy league schools but did not attend Harvard. Source: ABC News
tion groups and school groups.” Since starting her position, the U.N. event that stood out most dramatically to Loughrin was a Sept. 27 event with the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria and the Secretary General of the U.N. to discuss a united end to polio. Loughrin explained how fascinating it was to watch a conversation between the presidents of these countries discuss how to end polio and the ways polio could spread beyond the borders of these countries if the U.N. doesn’t focus on them. “One of the biggest problems to polio eradication has been extremist groups. They say that people who come to give polio vaccines are Western agents, and try to stop it. It’s awful that they’re trying to prevent kids from having access to polio vaccines, but it shows how hard it is to work in militarized environments when you can’t operate an anti-polio campaign. It was nice to see everyone so committed to the issue,” Loughrin said. As a U.N. Youth Delegate, Loughrin says that her faith in the U.N. is reinvigorated, and that she is a huge advocate for the U.N. “This made the U.N. seem real to me,” Loughrin said. “When we think about the U.N. we think about the most controversial issues. But there are so many other parts of the U.N. that work on issues like education and global health.” “Sometimes the U.N. isn’t very transparent. Youth should know the U.N. is for us, too. Half of the world’s population is under 30. They need their voices heard,” she added.
photo from internet source
By Brian Tabakin Editor
A series of armed robberies around the Boston University campus has shaken the community, increased safety concerns and aroused suspicion. Late Thursday evening, one of the suspects, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself into Brookline police. Recent BU graduate Liz Green
told The Globe earlier this week that she now walks together with her boyfriend Eric Hwang whenever possible, according to the Globe. First-year Talia Glickman-Simon and Danielle Barney, both told the Globe that they were considering applying for a license for pepper spray to protect themselves at night. Senior Keith West said, “People are definitely concerned with the response by the BU and Brookline police.” Initially the only response was
to “increase unmarked police cars in the area.” He added that they have since done more, putting out a $10,000 reward and releasing surveillance videos out to the major media outlets. Authorities believe that at least two of the robberies were committed by the same people who are considered to be extremely dangerous. BU police chief Thomas Robbins spoke to The Globe this week about the alarming nature of the crimes. “We do have crime that is certainly consistent with a large city, but nothing to this extent in terms of pattern: the short period of time, the armed robberies,” he said. Since the reward and surveillance videos were made public, West claims, “Everyone is feeling a bit better.” But a new problem has arisen, “students are racially profiling now,” he added.
October 12, 2012
The Brandeis Hoot
Lawrence to release strategic plan task force reports STRATEGIC PLAN, from page 1
is going to be more of a problem not to make it available earlier, we’ll make them available earlier,” Lawrence said. But Lawrence said he expected that doing so would be likely to prompt a “relentless drive toward the tactical,” a stream of responses that would not be in the broad, strategic terms and principles on which the administration had intended to focus. He relented, he said because “when in doubt, transparency is always better … our namesake after all, said that sunlight is the best disinfectant,” quoting Justice Brandeis in a Supreme Court free speech case. “There are no secrets we are trying to hide from you.” Biology professor James Haber was the first to speak at the planned discussion and immediately called the summarized outline of the plan, labeled the preliminary framework, too “generic.” “It has so little detail that I have a difficult time understanding its assumptions and direction,” Haber said. “I can’t make very substantive comments” without such specifics. “My suspicion is that every one of those task forces drew up a very de-
tailed discussion, which we ought to see; that is to say, I think you ought to share with us those reports,” Haber said. After other faculty members expressed similar frustration, these are the additional releases Lawrence said the administration would now make. The task forces include benchmarking, academic innovations, flexible education through technology, strategic planning finances, integrated arts, faculty, scholarship and research, learning communities and student experience, global, alumni and community building, facilities and campus evolution and strategic planning development. Professor Joe Reimer (ED) said that the discussed framework possessed “such generality it eludes all sorts of questions of what we mean by social justice.” He added that “nothing in the document excites me, or gives me an illustrative example how discovery education would operate at Brandeis.” The framework had sought to illustrate that discovery at Brandeis was a product of the much-repeated fact that Brandeis has characteristics of both a liberal arts college and also a research university. Other faculty had various concerns, ranging from little mention of “the
transparency At Thursday’s faculty meeting, President Fred Lawrence said he would release strategic
arts” in the framework to the question of the university’s Jewish identity. Reimer commented that, “The question of what this university’s relationship is with its roots in the Jewish community is not addressed at all.” The strategic plan, on its first page, does mention a “mission—to honor our Jewish roots, which instruct us
to repair the world.” In the three agreed-upon principles with which it concludes, the Steering Committee commits to “honor its Jewish roots and commitment to pluralism, access and diversity.” Lawrence, when he concluded the meeting, tried to reinvigorate the faculty with higher expectations.
Univ hosts forums in response to strategic plan FRAMEWORK, from page 1
“[link] creative and performing arts to the sciences, humanities, social sciences and professions on campus and around the globe” was met with praise at the first of a series of feedback sessions on Thursday, as the discussion at one table focused on the gap between arts and the sciences for a portion of time. In an email sent on Wednesday to the Brandeis community Goldstein wrote that the framework “seeks to ensure that Brandeis University remains a clear first choice for exceptional students, faculty and staff.” The framework itself repeatedly emphasizes the ways in which the plan would help put Brandeis’ financial resources to work and improve the process of their usage, as well as what they can provide for Brandeis. It also mentions its commitment to financial stability, a topic that remains contentious among students given last year’s unfavorable tuition hikes. President Fred Lawrence addressed this at the first of a series of feedback sessions on Thursday morning in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, saying that the capital campaign will be a significant part of the framework and plan. “We rely on the support of our alumni network, generous donors and others,” Lawrence said. He also said that this campaign is something we need to discuss in order to deal with, rather than from which to
shy away. Goldstein also commented on this at the feedback session when he stated, “we will have to make choices” about which programs we will focus more heavily on than others. “This is scary, and this should be scary,” he said. While it may seem like a good idea to simply accept more students and thus increase the total tuition revenue Brandeis receives, Lawrence stated his opposition to this at the meeting. When speaking about Brandeis’ graduate program, he said, “I would not sell three times the tuition to three times as many graduate students as we currently have.” He then explained that Brandeis’ small size is part of what makes it so special, and cited that Brandeis’ unique status as such a small research university allows each student access to a very high-quality education. He also stressed that the plan was to be a “living plan,” or one that would be able to adapt to different circumstances as it is enacted. Goldstein told the audience, “We need to remember Brandeis’ roots” as the plan is fine-tuned and shaped, “while also being able to adapt for the future.” At the feedback session, Lawrence discussed the ways in which the framework would help to guide initiatives around Brandeis in the next five years. The framework “can give us a focus and a sense of where we want to be,” he said, as well as help the community “get the full power and value out of our lives.” The remaining feedback sessions will
photo by nate rosenbloom/the hoot
plan committee reports.
be held between Friday and Wednesday. All members of the Brandeis community will have the chance to speak with individuals who have been involved in the various task forces that have shaped individual parts of the plan at the sessions. Following these sessions, there will be additional meetings and opportunities for different community members
to continue to voice their input on the framework and make sure that each aspect is tailored for Brandeis, until a full version of the plan will be voted on in a Jan. 23 Board of Trustees meeting. This meeting will represent the plan’s ultimate approval or rejection, and will largely determine the direction in which Brandeis will move during the coming decade.
photo by maya himmelfarb/the hoot
“I’ll give you,” he said, “not a prediction but a promise: what comes out in January will be inspiring. It will include within 10 years what we commit to do.” The strategic plan, Lawrence said, was about finding things for Brandeis to value that would leave people to be “proud they are part of that school.”
Court hears arugments in Fisher SCOTUS, from page 1
rulings. The challenging lawyers assert that the University of Texas’ concept of “critical mass” differs little in practice from a quota system. The ethical debate on affirmative action continues in the Supreme Court, as it has for more than three decades. Chief Justice John Roberts questioned the “logical endpoint” of affirmative action. “When will I know that you’ve reached a critical mass?” Roberts asked. Roberts, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito expressed reservation toward University of Texas’ urging for diversity, even in small classroom settings. During the arguments, Justice Stephen Breyer expressed concern about the large-scale implications for so many colleges that come with revisiting the Grutter decision. “There are several thousand admissions officers in the United States—several thousand universities—and what is it we’re going to say here that wasn’t already said in Grutter that isn’t going to take hundreds or thousands of these people and have Federal judges dictating the policy of admission of all these universities?” Breyer asked.
BU professor and club leaders speak on panel about Zionism ISRAEL, from page 1
Jewish identity, Bedo also sympathized with minorities, such as Arab Jews affected by Zionism. “I can really empathize with being a minority in a country full of nationalism.” The event proceeded with a passionate word from Ryan Yuffe ’15, president of BIPAC, who talked about early Zionist thinker Theodor Herzl, and problems that Zionism faces in a modern world. “Herzl’s Zionism is not ours,” Yuffe said. “Zi-
onism started against the backdrop of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. While our Israel is strong … our generation has been inundated with facts, speakers and propaganda … we have lost sight of the past, and have no real vision for the future.” The second part of the night consisted of a panel discussion on the history of the Zionist movement by three local experts. Michael Zank, professor of Religous Studies at Boston University, and Rachel Fish, Associate Director of the Schusterman Center, discussed 20th century Zionist thinkers and their contributions to
the movement. Professor Ilan Troen (NEJS) followed, speaking about David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli Prime Minister. After the panel, audience members broke off into discussion groups led by the panelists and student leaders, and spoke of their own experiences with Zionism and Jewish identity. Niri Halperin ’15 has spent her whole life around fellow Zionists, but admitted to not knowing much about the movement. “My entire family is in Israel, so I’ve been exposed to Zionism since birth,” Halperin said. “My mom’s family left Iraq due to the
strong wave of anti-Semitism, while my dad left Ukraine right before the Holocaust.” Halperin noted that she has sometimes struggled with justifying Israeli nationalism, but hopes to learn more about her Jewish identity. “We need to find a way to hold together a Jewish state, but preferably one that doesn’t exclude or alienate others. The Jewish people have been faced with so much violence and bloodshed, so hopefully we can strive for a peaceful solution while remembering our past and maintaining our identity.” photo from internet source
The Brandeis Hoot
October 12, 2012
Local hotels increase prices for Fall Fest weekend By Debby Brodsky Staff
As Fall Fest at Brandeis begins this Thursday with a flurry of activity, it is not only families, students and professors on campus who feel the excitement of this weekend each year. The hotel community in Waltham and surrounding towns is also highly aware of the arrival of relatives to Brandeis each October, marked by a consistent and steep rise in hotel room rates. “Right now hotels are in their busy seasons,” a front desk manager at Embassy Suites in Waltham said. She
went on to say that, “September and October are our busy months, and every time we have a higher occupancy rate the room prices are a little higher. This weekend, room prices start at $140 a night for Brandeis families.” Embassy Suites in Waltham offers the lowest room prices per night out of the hotels recommended by Brandeis’ Fall Fest website. For families searching for more reasonable hotel room rates, there are several factors to consider for next year’s Fall Fest hotel reservations. The closer a hotel is to Boston, the likelier it is that its rates will be more expensive. The Boston Marriott in Newton has raised its room rate considerably this weekend, from an average $145 to $249 plus a nightly parking fee. The
Boston Marriott in Newton did, however, offer a discounted university rate to those who booked early. Hotels in towns just east of Waltham, such as Natick, Framingham and Brookline offer impressive shopping malls, and a variety of highly rated restaurants at a lower cost. Waltham does have a large hotel market that offers a wide variety of hotel options to parents visiting students at Brandeis and neighboring universities alike. Smaller, more boutique hotels like Crescent Suites Hotel in Waltham boast comfort and are in the middle of the price range of ‘express’ hotels, including the Holiday Inn Express of Waltham, priding themselves on utility and lower rates. The nightly rates at the Holiday Inn
Express begin at a low $99. Each year, Brandeis displays an online list of local hotels that offer discounted room rates for reservations that are made well in advance. Of the hotels, Crescent Suites Hotel takes into consideration the amount of money that parents and relatives of Brandeis students are already paying for tuition, and tries to offer affordable prices. “For Brandeis University we would not raise room rates, because we understand that the people making reservations are college students and parents who don’t need to pay more than they already are,” a front desk manager at Crescent Suites Hotel said. “Our owner built this hotel after traveling a lot, so he tries to make
Crescent Suites a home away from home for our guests. Although we are only 30 rooms, we try to add that personal touch,” she said. Some parents plan ahead by several years. “We take many things into consideration. For instance, the Brandeis graduation room rate is a similar price to the room price for this weekend. We are already booking well in advance for graduation. I spoke with a woman already looking at 2017 graduation room rates. Parents stay with us when students move in, and often make arrangements to stay for every Fall Fest weekend for the coming four years,” she added. The Crescent Suites Hotel offers a Brandeis University Fall Fest rate of $165 per night.
Author Michael Nava presents ‘The City of Palaces’ By Ari Kalfus Staff
Attorney and writer Michael Nava read excerpts from two of his books Thursday afternoon in a Shiffman classroom, showcasing his upcoming novel, “The City of Palaces.” Nava is most famous for his sevenbook mystery series following the cases of gay lawyer Henry Rios. “Henry is gay because, well, I’m gay, and that is what I know,” Nava said to an attentive audience. His first book in the Rios series, “The Little Death,” was rejected by 13 publishers before finally accepted by a small Boston publishing company. Nava, however, was never anxious or worried that his book would not sell. “I had a real job as a lawyer, so I didn’t take it too seriously,” Nava said. “The City of Palaces,” a historical rather than a mystery novel, presents new challenges to Nava as a writer. The Rios series is written in the first person, through the eyes of adult,
Henry Rios. “The City of Palaces,” on the other hand, is a third person story told through the eyes of a child. “I haven’t been a child for a very long time,” Nava said with a laugh. He states that the most challenging element of “The City of Palaces” was imagining prepubescent sexuality and how that would be portrayed. Nava decided that he would develop it as a desire to be physically near the other person. The portion of his novel that Nava read was the main character, a nine-year old boy named Jose, realizing he was in love with an older boy named David. Nava’s novel is written eloquently and with great style. He illustrates Jose’s realization of love through watching David play the piano. Jose notices a softness in David’s face while he plays, and notes, “he had never imagined one could love an activity as much as one could love another person.” At that moment, Jose began to understand that he not only enjoyed David’s presence but that
he needed David to be around him; it was a physical desire unknown to him. Nava also interspersed Spanish words throughout the novel to remind the reader that the characters are speaking Spanish. To make his novel more realistic, he formats the English text in Spanish syntax, which is much more formal. “I’ve done this to remind readers that my characters are living in the 1990s, not in 2012,” Nava said. It was technical challenges like this that induced Nava to spend 15 years writing “The City of Palaces.” More than a decade after “The Little Death” was published, Nava’s writing is now beginning to attract critical attention. Nava is praised for doing something new with the mystery genre: exploring the current societal issues with sexuality and ethnicity. Nava, however, is done with mystery novels. “The format [of mystery novels] is too restrictive,” Nava said. Then he lightened up the audience with a joke, “Now I’m a historical au-
thor, moving from one grave to another.” “The City of Palaces” is Nava’s first plunge into the historical novel genre. The book is set in the last years of the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship in Mexico City, right before the Mexican Revolution. Nava also read an excerpt from the fifth book of his Rios series, “Death of Friends.” The novel begins with an earthquake that startles Rios awake. “I imagined for a moment that I could hear the earth roaring before I realized it was the beating of my heart,” Nava read in a strong, confident voice. Nava admitted that the earthquake scene came from his own experience in the 1994 Northridge earthquake that struck his home in Los Angeles. “Who the writers are, where they come from, definitely impacts what they write,” Nava said. After both readings, Nava opened the floor for discussion. Many of the questions presented by the students dealt with Nava’s writing process. Nava admitted that writing mysteries
was simple; he merely began with his ending, the “whodunit,” and worked backward until the beginning. The “City of Palaces” presented much more developmental problems that Nava had to tackle. He began with a general idea of who his main characters were and developed them into sophisticated, three-dimensional beings while writing the novel. Nava would add a secondary character whenever a scene demanded it, and the story fleshed itself out under his fingers. The publication of “The City of Palaces” is eagerly awaited by both critics and fans of the series, including Professor Lucia Reyes de Deu (HISP), who won a copy of a book in the Rios series in a raffle at the end of the event. The event was sponsored by Hispanic Studies with the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Romance Studies, American Studies, Creative Writing, Latin American and Latino Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, ¡AHORA! and Triskelion.
Union considers new senate position and club reforms By Gordy Stillman Editor
Proposed creation of a 567 Senator Student Union President Todd Kirkland ’13 announced his intention to propose the creation of a 567 quad senator at next week’s meeting. Under the current system, 567 and the Charles River Apartments share a senator. Kirkland explained the reasoning behind the proposed change. “Typically the person that gets elected from the Charles River/567 spot is in Charles River and Charles River constituents are typically juniors and seniors whereas 567 is solely sophomores.” On the topic of whether the 30 residents of 567 South Street should have their own Senator, Kirkland added “TYP [Transitional Year Program] only has [about] 20 members but they are still a year program and [rightfully] get represented.” Kirkland also announced an Eboard initiative to work on improving school pride and spirit with the creation of an “Owl Day” (official name is yet to be determined). “It would be nice to have some sort of day held annually in the spring, most likely on a Friday, where we have a campus-wide celebration … celebrating Brandeis,” he said. Kirkland commented that school spirit frequently provokes reactions, such as the Celebrate Brandeis event, which was held on the same day that
the Westboro Baptist Church protested on South Street in 2010, or the Today Show contest last month. “After the Today Show event, we saw a lot of students come out with pride but it was as a reaction. We do have a lot of student events that occur on this campus, usually held on the weekend, and there’s usually not a university commitment behind them,” he said. While Brandeis hosts many cultural events like Mela, or Liquid Latex and annual traditions showing pride in specific subjects, Kirkland said it “doesn’t necessarily translate to the university as a whole. Why can’t we take that spirit and apply it to Brandeis as a whole?” While Owl Day may not be able to happen this spring, it would be ideal to lay the groundwork for an annual event starting next year—the goal of which would be to host it on a Friday. Club recognition reforms Another change to be voted on at the next Senate meeting is to amend the Senate Bylaws and make the club creation process less wordy and as Executive Senator Ricky Rosen ’14 put it “more clear and concise.” Currently, clubs seeking either recognition or chartering can come to the Senate at the same time. Under the newly proposed reform, clubs seeking recognition would address the Senate on the first Sunday of the month and clubs seeking a chartering meeting would address the Senate on the third Sunday of the
month. “Recognition and chartering are already separate in terms of the votes required by the Senate [recognition is a majority vote while chartering needs 2/3 support], so we want to simply hold the votes on different days,” Rosen said. Additionally, under the new system clubs would need 100 signatures in order to become recognized, with no further signatures before becoming chartered. Once recognized, clubs would have to hold an organizational meeting, effectively displaying the club’s stability, in order to seek chartering. Under the old system, clubs needed signatures for recognition, even more for chartering, and the process largely overlapped. Success of Union Radio Show Under the new Brandeis Student Union launch pad, members from different branches of the Union will broadcast each week from 12 to 1 p.m. on Thursdays to discuss projects. Rosen also mentioned that, “As the show advances, we’d like to bring on administrators who can answer students’ questions.” In Kirkland’s words, “It’s another great avenue of communication … It gets Student Union members talking.” Kirkland also hopes to be able to record the program so that students who have class during the one-hour show will be able to listen at their own convenience. Part of the show encourages student involvement. For example, stu-
dents can tweet their questions (with the hashtag #DeisLaunchPad), which will be answered during the show. One such question mentioned at the senate meeting was the topic of Saturday dining hours. Kirkland commented, “If you look by and large at the hours, Saturday
nights is very limited. After 7 p.m. you have two hours of the Stein, nothing from 9 to 10 p.m. except for the C-Store, and then from 10-3 you have Ollie’s. While we can’t necessarily create more hours, we want to look at hours that maybe can be shifted to expand Saturday night options.”
photo by nate rosenbloom/the hoot
October 12, 2012
The Brandeis Hoot 5
Sixty-four years ago univ celebrated founding By Emily Beker Staff
This past week marked the 64th anniversary of Brandeis University’s founding. When originally founded on Oct. 7, 1948, President Abram Sachar delivered a speech at Symphony Hall in Boston, accepting his position of office at the newly founded university. In his speech, Sachar focused on the birth of Brandeis, with its “procession, which includes delegation from hundreds of distinguished centers of learning was a thrilling sight, in it’s color, it’s pageantry, it’s symbolism.” Sachar did not appear to be anxious about the challenge of creating what is today a renowned institution. Rather, he said in his speech, “Fortunately there is so much goodwill for the success of Brandeis University, so much loyal cooperation, that there are few fears and few misgivings as we go forward.” Formed in the same year that the Israeli state came into being, the process was both historic and exciting. Sachar went on to state, “This is the first corporate responsibility of the Jewish people for the maintenance and development of a great non-sectarian institution of higher learning.” Sachar mentioned the importance in the timing of Brandeis University and the importance for the founding as a group of people. He believed, “The timing of this pioneering effort is significant and demonstrates the strength upon which we all rely. Emerging from the most tragic era of a history laden with sorrow, the Jewish people dem-
photo by nate rosenbloom/the hoot
onstrate it’s extraordinary vitality by demonstrating no moratorium on creative effort.” The traditions that Sachar outlined in his acceptance speech are still in place, if not even more amplified today, 64 years later. The first guideline that Sacher outlined was, “This will be an institution of quality where the integrity of learning, of research, of writing, of teaching will never be
compromised.” Sachar states in the first guideline the importance of having a wide variety of subjects offered at a university. He stated his second vision for Brandeis with, “This will be a school of the spirit—a school in which the temper and climate of the mind will take precedence over the acquisition of skill and the development of facile talent.”
Sachar’s third vision for Brandeis stated, “This will be an institution where opportunity is offered to all, regardless of race or color. Neither a student body nor faculty must ever be chosen on the basis of population proportions or genetic or ethnic or economic distribution.” Sixty-four years ago, Sachar wrote in his speech about his vision of what Brandeis would eventually be: “An
institution which is built on such principles—on the integrity of learning and research, on the passion for service, on the right of equal opportunity—only such an institution will be worthy of the intellectual and spiritual mantle of Louis Dembitz Brandeis whose name it is to bear.” As the anniversary of the university passes, Brandeis continues to build off of the foundation of its forbearers.
Alum builds on Peace Corps experience in conservation biology career By Alec Siegel
Special to the Hoot
In a remote village along the Bay of Antongil in Madagascar, a small cluster of local children excitedly follow an American woman’s trail. To onlooker Dan Perlman, Associate Provost and Professor of Biology at Brandeis, their smiling faces say it all. “We’d walk through the town, and a cloud of children would run after her calling out her name wherever we went,” Perlman said. These children, along with their parents and the entire village they come from, have accomplished wonderful things in collaboration with Rachel Kramer ’05. Kramer has been engrossed in a very global experience from an early age. Her father was a diplomat, causing Kramer to bounce from an elementary school in Tunisia to a high school in Russia, and finally landing at Brandeis to study conservation ecology and anthropology. The Malagasy children whose faces were brimming with admiration for Kramer, spawned from her contributions to their community. She was there as a representative of the Unites States Peace Corps in the environmental sector. The Peace Corps, established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, sends participants all around the globe to better promote the American values of peace and friendship. The Peace Corps mission statement is to, “Help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women,” as well as “Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served,” and vice versa.
A recent graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, she continues to make strides toward solving some of Earth’s most dire environmental issues. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works for TRAFFIC, a joint program of WWF and IUCN, which aims to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals does not threaten the conservation of nature. As a representative of the Peace Corps partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Kramer helped conduct lemur and indigenous tree species inventories with local research aides. She helped open a library in the Andapa Basin region, taught a women’s farming cooperative new rice cultivation techniques, and organized a workshop for village women interested in learning how to tailor clothes, which led to an increase in their incomes. “While I was in Madagascar I had four funded community development grants which were working on a range of projects that had been identified by the communities I was serving as priorities,” Kramer said. These community developments resonated throughout entire villages, as Kramer and her Peace Corps compatriots established building blocks that she hopes will expand for future Malagasy generations. Dan Perlman, or to Kramer, Professor Perlman, was her academic advisor as well as professor for five courses that spanned her four years at Brandeis. His course, Conservation Biology as well as his tutelage, helped Kramer decide to take a path toward ecological preservation and environmental protection. “What helped orient me was having
a really strong mentor in Dan Perlman,” Kramer said. She also credits her study abroad experience with the School for Field Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and her summer interning at the State Department while at Brandeis as experiences that helped cement her future endeavors. “While I was at Brandeis, having the flexibility to do a field experience and a policy experience was instrumental,” Kramer said. Kramer notes that her passion for the bettering of the environment and the world’s ecosystems stems from her experience as a child in the Foreign Service. “I grew up in West Africa and North Africa for very important years of my life,” Kramer said. “Growing up in developing countries, you develop a knack for abhorring waste and a sense for the importance of social justice and environmental justice.” This knack for understanding the importance of social and environmental justice helped lead Kramer to Brandeis. Perlman, the current Associate Professor of Biology, received a Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and is Associate Provost for Assessment and Innovation in Student Learning at Brandeis, gushes with pride when speaking about Kramer. Perlman cultivated his relationship with Kramer since he first noticed something special about her in his “Humans and the Environment” course. “[Rachel] is in some ways a very typical Brandeis student, and in some ways an exceptional one,” Perlman said. “Typical in that she throws herself wholeheartedly into whatever
photo from internet source
she’s doing, and she also wants to change the world and make it better.” Perlman says that what separates Kramer from her peers and what has seeped into every aspect of her postBrandeis career is “the range of talents and energy she brings to anything she does.” Kramer and Perlman continue to work together and keep in touch to this day. Perlman visited Kramer about a year and a half into her time in Madagascar, and he was amazed at the breadth of her work, and the admiration she received from the locals because of it. “She was beloved by so many people there,” Perlman said. “Kids, adults,
it was extraordinary the impact she had. I’ve always been impressed by her, but seeing what she could do in a couple of years was amazing.” The most impressive aspect of Kramer’s achievements to Perlman is that Kramer has been so humble through it all and she “just wants to make a difference.” As the sun begins to set on the national parks and small villages dotting the landscape of Madagascar, animals and local villagers alike now share a strong connection with a Brandeis graduate. With the help of Kramer, and those like her, the spreading of peace crosses imagined borders.
The Brandeis Hoot
October 12, 2012
Rabbi Zirkind promotes Sherman as a ‘home away from home’ By Dana Trismen Editor
A common sight in and around Sherman Dining Hall, Rabbi Chayim Zirkind truly believes that Sherman is a place where students can feel at home. Zirkind’s occupation seems fitting for him. While he did not always know that he wanted to become a rabbi, he was always conscious of his interest in the religious field. “I always did like the concept of working with food in addition to eating it,” he said. “I liked to work with it, so it was a great combination. I work with the food and keep an eye out that the food is kosher and that everything that is used is kosher.” A full time employee at Sherman, Zirkind maintains the kosher-only section, providing those with religious and dietary needs full access to the nourishment they need. From Brooklyn, New York, Zirkind described his journey to his current occupation. Even while at school to become a rabbi, Zirkind was never far away from involvement with food. “I used to spend my evenings koshering homes, and that’s when I found that it was something I wanted to continue
doing on a larger scale, to keep homes or establishments kosher.” In describing what makes food kosher, Zirkind comments on the common misconception that people believe that a rabbi constantly blesses kosher food. “The only time you make a blessing regarding food is when one has an obligation to thank God for the food, that is the only blessing associated with being kosher. That doesn’t make the food kosher, it is just a thank you to God for giving you the food,” Zirkind said. He does believe that this prayer before eating is important, explaining, “The idea of a blessing is, in order to benefit from anything in the world we are taught that we have to thank God for it.” While Zirkind may not be blessing the food in Sherman, he still has an important duty. “Here I make sure that all the products used are kosher and that they have proper kosher symbols on them,” Zirkind said. He also explained that Sherman doesn’t utilize every single food with a kosher mark on it, Zirkind chooses the reputable ones that are recognized nationally. In order for meat to be considered
kosher, it must have been killed in accordance with Jewish law. Zirkind described this as an “instant kill,” created to put the animal in the least amount of pain possible. “You are supposed to treat animals with kindness, like before you eat your meal make sure your animals are fed, animals are recognized as something to respect and they also have the right to roam the world.” People who are certified to slaughter animals in this correct manner go through special training and hold respected positions in their communities. While Zirkind’s own father held this occupation, Zirkind explained, “I couldn’t kill a cockroach, by nature, I could eat a steak, but I am the kind of person who makes a short stop if a squirrel even thinks about crossing the street.” In order to maintain involvement in the production of kosher food, it seemed natural that Zirkind would oversee kosher materials after they had already been processed. A long time Brandeis employee, Zirkind believes that the university setting has enriched his life. “I love getting to know and respect other people for their views on religion, life, politics and simple day-to-day things.
I think people who work at a university learn so much from their educational surroundings.” He also believes that Brandeis is extremely open to embracing different religions, citing Sherman’s tendency to invite people of all religions to Friday Shabbat dinners. “Even if you are not Jewish, you are more than welcome to come and enjoy a Shabbat meal, even if you just wanted to have the experience.” Zirkind also emphasized the importance of Sherman’s existence as a dining hall on campus. He comments on the excellence of the staff, and how they behave more like a family. “We share responsibility and the goal is to make the experience for everyone that comes in here so that they feel at home,” he explained. He also commented on Sherman’s all-you-can-eat policy, and how it encourages relaxation and bonding between students. “I think people feel more comfortable here, and they find this is where they would rather sit to do homework. In other places you find yourself getting hungry again. A student could come in and really feel at home, come in, relax, kick back, grab a cup of coffee, stay as long as you want, nobody is going to kick you out,” he said.
He explained how eating kosher is always an option, even for those who are not Jewish. He boasts not only the quality of the food in the kosher section, but the skills and knowledge of the staff. “We do a great job pulling off a quality meal and the staff really know the kosher laws, they know it as if it was their religion.” Enjoying coffee while sitting at the booths in Sherman, Zirkind embodies the homey and laid-back atmosphere of Sherman. Zirkind himself enjoys the presence of students, and strives to make them feel at home at all times. “I look at the students as my kids, therefore I want them to have the best. Even if it is a non-kosher kid, I want to make sure him or her has a meal. I will do the most I can do to accommodate them.” As time passes and Zirkind remains at Brandeis, he said it only deepens his bond toward the students who frequent Sherman. “The longer I’m here I feel more like a parent to the kids, and nobody should ever feel homesick. There are people here who really do care about them, and would give the shirt off their back to make sure they are warm and comfortable,” he said.
Shared passion of basketball and music inspires student rappers By Victoria Aronson Editor
Having always possessed a love for music, Ishmael Kalilou ’15 anticipates his upcoming performance alongside peers Youri Dascy and Connor Arnold at Chums later this month. Despite the fact that it will be his first live performance rapping to an audience, Kalilou is not plagued by nerves, but rather looks forward to the event with a blend of excitement and confidence. The event, which is being held on Oct. 26 to promote Flight School Clothing, an emerging line developed by student Shami Berry, will feature musical performances by students such as Kalilou. Tracing the development of their musical collaboration, Kalilou explained that Dascy and Arnold would often rap freestyle, recalling the day when they had asked him to spontaneously join. Describing the moment, he said, “It just took off from there. We liked to freestyle; we just decided to go with it and start making songs.” As a collaborative process, Kalilou, Dascy and Arnold search the internet for beats before crafting their lyrics. Although initially they would gather together to write the lyrics, due to the diverse nature of their living conditions this year, they oftentimes each write a section of the song independently before merging their work. This unique writing process bears the inevitable potential for issues to arise, for the verses must be able to combine into a single cohesive song. Kalilou, however, revealed that the process yields success the majority of the time, since the messages associated with the lyrics tend to be relevant to one another. Describing the inspiration behind his lyrics, Kalilou expressed the desire to incorporate humor into his work. While identifying Kanye West and Jay Z as his favorite artists, he explained that his primary motivation is to “have the fans and the public liking the music, laughing at it and enjoying it.” Referencing their style musically, Kalilou commented on the explicit nature of their lyrics. “The music is explicit, but it’s all in good fun. We’re not trying to offend
anyone,” he said. He continued to describe their capacity for incorporating diverse styles into their music, having produced songs ranging from R&B to hip hop to slow songs. Commenting on this ability, he stated, “We are all so versatile; we can deliver in many ways.”
Beyond their musical collaboration, the bond between Kalilou, Dascy and Arnold transcends their interaction on stage. As members of the basketball team here at Brandeis, Kalilou explains that their identity as teammates has enforced their close bond. Describing the nature of their
friendship, Kalilou reveals, “We are all ridiculously funny individuals. If you spent the day with us, you’d be laughing the whole time.” Possessing a sense of humor that can be traced in their lyrics as well, Kalilou declared, “We are the life of the party.” Although the date of their first
performance is approaching, Kalilou remains unperturbed. Explaining his lack of nerves, Kalilou states, “We know most of the kids at Brandeis,” asserting, “We are excited and ready to go.” He reveals that the group has selected four or five songs to perform at Chums.
photo courtesy of ish kalilou
October 12, 2012
The Brandeis Hoot 7
No One and the Somebodies proves that rock runs in families By Max Randhahn Staff
Saturday’s Chums concert brought an impressive variety of musical genres to the coffeehouse, which was made even greater because two of the bands shared members. Though attendance was weak due to late publicity, the performers had a strong and free-spirited presence. First on the bill was Big Mess, filling in for Turbosleaze, due to internal conflicts. Based in Lowell, Mass., Big Mess has only released a self-titled debut album and an EP, “Split w/ S’eance,” but what Nicholas Wiedeman and Egersheim lack in discography they make up with noise. Big Mess’ style is heavily rooted in the sludge metal of the South, but with a strange bluesy feel to it. The songs are loud, angry and instrumental, plodding along to the tune of “everything sucks and I’m going to punch something now.” The band members kept audience interaction to a minimum, speaking up exactly once to point out the merchandise table near the door. Their unwillingness to speak might have been due to bassist Josh Tracy’s recent departure from the band. The replacement bassist performed competently, but lacked Tracy’s showmanship: The musician was known to perform bare-chested and in a surgeon’s mask, which would have given Big Mess’ set a little more punch. Regardless, Big Mess performed well, despite their apparent inner turmoil. Cave Cricket took the stage right after Big Mess. Brothers Steve and Kevin Yankou joined Kira Sassano in invoking the audience’s inner power. The trio of Brooklynites released their
no one and the somebodies Pictured above, the band preformed at Chums last Saturday alongside Big
photo from internet source
Mess and Cave Cricket.
first album, “Use Your Hands,” this past July, and it manages to be both a political impetus as well as a journey of self-discovery. Cave Cricket’s folk styles complement the environmentally conscious lyrics well, with the Yankou brothers manning percussion and a cello, while Sassano plays the accordion or ukulele and belts lyrics of empowerment. Between Sassano’s soulful alto and the Yankous’ sustainment of quaint and evocative melodies, Cave Cricket comes across as the quintessential coffeehouse band, equally enjoyable both live and through recording. De-
spite the sparse crowd in Chums, the band interacted wonderfully with its small number of listeners. The trio was witty and charming, with a preponderance toward Will Smith jokes that may or may not have been the fault of the audience. For the final three songs, Sassano brought out a trumpet case full of percussion instruments and bid the audience use them. Soon the entire coffeehouse was shaking whatever they had picked up from the pile—broken tambourines, small wooden boxes full of pebbles, New Year’s noisemakers—and the concert became an in-
teractive jam session. Needless to say, Cave Cricket left to riotous applause. And then the stage was set for No One And The Somebodies (NOATS). All four of the Yankou siblings comprise the band’s members, and they have wonderful synergy. There is no time for sibling rivalry in such an outfit—the music must get made. It helps that all four find playing and composing cathartic, and the brothers get along extremely well; the energy they produce on stage is tremendous, and they bring it everywhere from diners to basements. NOATS’ music is goofy and irrev-
erent, but somehow loud and angry at the same time. If you can think of a word and append “punk” to it, chances are it is a good approximation of what the Yankous sound like. While at times NOATS gives the impression of a bunch of yahoos on stage letting their guitars feedback, there is great musical talent in their instrumentation. Each member seems to be on the verge of destroying his instrument at any given moment, while Steve and Kevin hoarsely yell into the microphones. The Yankous do not shy away from unorthodox performances, either. Kevin played his bass with an electric toothbrush for two songs, and NOATS played one of the most unusual percussive instruments Chums has ever seen—a sheet of metal siding that Steve stood upon and bludgeoned with a pair of screwdrivers. With all the power that NOATS brings, it is no surprise that the crowd in Chums filled up nicely in time for their set. The larger audience was blown away by the band’s irreverent, spastic sound, and danced and cheered more for their set than for any of the other bands. It helps that the Yankous can banter with some degree of competence, making up crowd interactions on the fly, and though a dangerous move, it also gives the brothers a down-to-earth feel. It’s a pity that so few people attended in total, as the bands held their acts together and made for a wonderful evening. In that spirit, WBRS will be bringing Make It Up, Snowmine and DIIV to Chums this Saturday at 9 p.m. If nothing else, DIIV’s unique brand of surf rock makes this upcoming concert worth attending.
Professors analyze the art of Carl Van Vechten
van vechten Last Wednesday at the Rappaporte Treasure Hall, professors Nancy Scott and Faith Smith led an analytical discussion of the artists work.
By Brittany Joyce
Special to the Hoot
Brandeis’ Close Looking series kicked off this Wednesday in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall with a look at the work of Carl Van Vechten, an artist with a diverse career that included photography. While the program started a half an hour late, the discussion, led by Professors Nancy Scott (FA) and Faith Smith (AAAS) quickly began and finished within the allotted time. It featured just a few of the 1,600 pieces of Van Vechten’s work owned by the University Archives Special Collections. Smith and Scott talked about both the aesthetic qualities of the pieces,
as well as Van Vechten’s personal history as both an artist and a patron to the arts. Van Vechten dealt mainly in portraiture, capturing some of the most prominent artists, writers and entertainers of his day. Portraits that were featured included those of Frida Kahlo, W.E.B DuBois, Salvador Dali and Zora Neal Hurston. Starting in the 1930s, Van Vechten began to photograph figures in the art community, mainly in New York. In particular, he focused on the African American community, both in his controversial and harshly criticized novel about Harlem-life in 1926, and in his choices of subjects when he moved on to photography. Scott characterized Van Vechten’s goal in photography as a way to cap-
ture everyone who was essential to art in New York City at the time. Before he began his work in portraits in 1932, Van Vechten was a novelist and a successful music critic. He approached photography as an amateur, never showcased his work, and did not take photographs for profit. He simply captured his friends—and both Scott and Smith agree that it was a mark of importance to an artist if they could count Van Vechten as a friend. Indeed, having been photographed by him was a marker that the person could be taken seriously as an artist. Though he took photographs mainly for himself and his friends, Scott showed that Van Vechten’s works do not lack aesthetic appeal.
photo by shota adamia/the hoot
He featured people in a variety of poses and backdrops, often featuring strong geometric patterns. Scott says that the portraits of Van Vechten’s friends have heavily influenced how they are remembered today by much of the public, giving him a lasting influence on how artists of his era are perceived. For example, his portrait of Zora Neal Hurston is featured on her books today. Smith led the second half of the presentation by discussing Van Vechten’s significance in putting forth representations of the African American community. She says that he was a patron of African American art in a time when imitating that culture was in vogue, putting the authenticity of his intentions in question. His por-
traits show a staged version of African Americans, allowing him to manipulate stereotypes. At the same time, he was caught in the middle of an era full of conflicting ideas of how to break with the old ways. Scott maintained, however, that rather than trying to manipulate the image of the African American artist, he was trying to promote it as it was. Throughout his careers as music critic, novelist and photographer, he was interested in the documentation of the world around him for generations to come. This is why he bequeathed over 1,600 of his photographs to the university upon his death in 1964, and why he helped fellow artists like Georgia O’Keefe set up exhibitions at other universities. His work as an archivist later in life was just an extension of his work as an art patron. Smith says that he balanced the role of friend and patron. For example, one of his famous friends, Langston Hughes, sent him poetry to edit and review; Van Vechten responded by using his leverage with Alfred Knopf to get the poems published. On other occasions, he acted more as a friend by helping Zora Neal Hurston through dark times; because of this, she dedicated her novel “Tell My Horse” to him. Van Vechten was a man who befriended some of the most talented people of his time. He not only helped them as a patron, but as a friend, often giving artists their first mark of distinction by photographing them. While Smith showed that his authenticity can be viewed as contentious, Scott showed that his legacy is one of an advocate for the arts and as a preserver of African American art culture of the first half of the twentieth century.
8 ARTS, ETC.
The Brandeis Hoot
October 12, 2012
‘Or,’ shows that love can abound, even in classical Europe By Zach Reid Editor
In the Shapiro Campus Center Theater on Thursday, Brandeis Players began their weekend-long run of “Or,” a play by Liz Duffy Adams. The Brandeis Players are a member of the Undergraduate Theater Collective (UTC), the umbrella organization that helps to organize a large portion of Brandeis’ undergraduate theater. “Or,” was the second play directed by Justy Kosek ’14, who directed “Waiting for Godot” last fall. Yoni Bronstein ’13 produced “Or,” and Saka Adler ’16 stage-managed the production. The play will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Set in the 1660s, “Or,” tells the story of Aphra Behn (Anneke Reich ’13), the first female playwright who is also a former spy for Great Britain. While in debtor’s prison during the play’s first scene, Aphra gains the sponsorship of King Charles II (Alex Karel ’14) for her theatrical career, and thanks to his infatuation with her, pays her debts to have her released. The majority of the play, however, occurs some time in the future, as Aphra is now living in a fairly upperclass house in London along with her servant Maria (Maya Grant ’13). Within a single, chaotic night, she must try to balance secret rendezvous with both Charles and another lover, the actress Nell (Corrie Legg ’13). She also needs to finish writing a play for the eccentric Lady Davenant (Christopher Knight ’14), as well as contend with the appearance of William Scott (Andrew Prentice ’13), a former lover and colleague from her time as a spy. The characterizations in “Or,” were stellar, and gave the audience reason to feel as if they were truly in the room with the characters, watching the chaos unfold. From Charles’ carefree, whimsical attitude to Aphra’s passion for both of her lovers, there was rarely a dull and boring moment. William’s dark, grim outlook on life also provided contrast to the others’ relatively happy attitudes, and provided yet another level of depth for “Or.” Maria’s infrequent appearances also provided some comic relief from the serious aspects of the show; her illustrations of how she had followed Aphra through “stinking swamps, stinking jungles, stinking prisons” and other hor-
rible places elicited laughter from the largely silent audience. A minimalist set and technical approach also add to the appeal of “Or,” by giving the show another way to focus more on its characters rather than technical flair and pizzazz. The set was well constructed, consisting only of a jail cell and the living room of Aphra’s London home. Lighting in the play was kept to a minimum, mainly signifying a scene change or Aphra’s monologue at the play’s beginning. The audio of the play was comprised mostly of the actor’s voices, including a couple of song tracks played in between scenes and at curtain call. Despite being held in the SCC Theater, the performance felt like it was in a black box, and the size of the room was quickly forgotten as the play progressed. One of the greatest aspects of “Or,” is its willingness to tackle extremely hot-button topics head-on, and treat them as if they were ordinary aspects of life. When Aphra’s life as a spy comes back to haunt her via William, for example, the audience is introduced to a side of Aphra that deals with treason, murder and even war crimes. These are topics that she clearly has trouble dealing with, al-
‘or,’ Actors amaze with each scene, displaying great variety and skill.
though she insists that she has put them behind her. Her cavalier attitudes toward sex and love also represent beliefs that were almost nonexistent in the 1660s, and yet still have trouble being accepted today (think the “free love” beliefs of the late 1960s). These views are mirrored in Nell, who is portrayed as someone who couldn’t care less, cursing and yelling sexual innuendos with wild abandon that is often seen in middle school locker rooms. Her utter acceptance of a “to each his/her own policy” helps to keep “Or,” from being hung up on its acceptance of sexual and romantic freedom, and instead keeps the play lively and entertaining during its 90-minute length. Overall, “Or,” allows audiences to see the story of Aphra, and her quest to find her identity among her various lovers and her careers as a spy and a playwright. Whether it’s the rhyming lines that abound in the script, the noticeable absence of sexual tension in many scenes or the drunken confusion of William as to why everyone has disappeared, “Or,” keeps the audience’s attention for its entirety. Brandeis Players’ latest production is definitely worth seeing before the weekend is over.
photos by maya himmelfarb/the hoot
October 12, 2012
ARTS, ETC. 9
The Brandeis Hoot
Blending humanity with fairytale, ‘Into the Woods’ enthralls
By Juliette Martin Editor
“Into the Woods,” directed at Brandeis by Jessie Field ’13 and put on by the Free Play Cooperative, presents a twisted set of fairytales and takes them to conclusions far beyond where they began. The musical asks, in nearly three hours of song, the question really begged of fables: What happens after “happily ever after?” In the land of fairytales, where answers are simple, the obvious answer is simply nothing. But “Into the Woods” is set in a place that more closely resembles our world, where actions have vast consequences and “happily ever after” is not nearly as simple as we would have it be. The musical tells the story of a baker and his wife, cursed to be childless, in their search to break the curse. The adventure leads them to cross paths with Little Red Riding Hood (Aliza Sotsky ’15), who with a threateningly sexual wolf (Zach Smith ’15), an indecisive Cinderella (Sarah Hines ’15), Jack of Beanstalk fame (Jeffrey Lowenstein ’15), a lost and confused Rapunzel (Alison Thvedt ’15), and the various other characters who populate their respective stories. The mixed cast eventually comes together, after facing great tragedy, to join against a near-insurmountable foe after they had come to believe that their happy endings were achieved
‘into the woods’ Creatively set in Sachar Woods, ‘Into the Woods’ provides a new spin to classic fairytales.
and secure. The most notable and interesting production decision of “Into the Woods” was to take it out of the conventional venues of theater and literally stage the play in the woods, guiding the audience away from the familiarity of Spingold Theater and into Sachar Woods. This creative staging choice grants “Into the Woods” a distinct way of standing out from the crowd of shows at Brandeis. Though rather cold, the effect of immersion in the set—with the audience in the forest along with the cast—paid off, bringing the story out of the set and creating a far more immersive experience, shivers included. Though the set was minimal, relying on the woods around, what was built (a small platform, bits added to trees to allow for climbing, and a tower that was primarily occupied by Alison Thvedt ’15 as Rapunzel) was very effectively used, as the various storylines intersected and parted ways across the set. Clearly, “Into the Woods” was carefully and skillfully cast. With impressive vocals and effective acting, the cast did all they could to keep a frigid audience attentive, as they likely froze themselves. In both song and acting, Jaime Perutz ’13 was particularly amazing as the Baker’s Wife, exhibiting supreme control over her features as she performed. Also of great note was Zach Smith’s ’15 performance as
both the Wolf with whom Little Red Riding Hood tangles and Cinderella’s prince. The sexual undertones (and, well, overtones) of both roles effectively balanced darkness and humor. In complement, Aliza Sotsky ’15 as Little Red Riding Hood, brought an exploratory, adventurous and childish spin to her role. Sotsky’s Little Red was almost ageless, balancing between the innocence of a child and the darkness of a girl who faces both hardship and adventure over the course of the show. Meanwhile, Sarah Hines ’15 brought a true sense of fairytale fancy to her role as Cinderella, with a high, delicate voice that proved absolutely perfect for the part. Though well-planned and performed over all, there were issues in production that were unfortunately, likely inherent in the unconventional setting of the show. Lighting, which came from a single source by the audience, was one apparent issue in the show: at times the play felt shrouded in darkness. Sound proved similarly limited. At times, actors were very hard to hear, their voices swallowed by the woods around. While not all actors faced this issue, it was a significant enough difficulty so as to be of note, and a greater level of projection from the actors may have helped negate the difficulty. Despite these flaws in production, “Into the Woods” was clearly a wellrehearsed and impressively-designed show. The effort put into creating the fairytale setting paid off, with no stone left unturned in creating appropriately styled costuming. It may, perhaps, have been wiser to plan an outdoor show for a warmer part of the year, but in some ways the act of sitting out in the cold added to the experience, bringing audience members decidedly into this land of fairytale. Ultimately, while “Into the Woods” is a tale of fantasy, it tackles very human questions. “Into the Woods” is personal, challenging audiences to question the simplicity of fairytales, bringing them into the context of real life. It asks people to question how it is that they deal with the consequences of their actions, challenges one to consider the way one treats the people they love, and explores the way humans behave in a time of crisis, just when they thought “happily ever after” had been achieved. “Into the Woods,” which faces a unique set of problems brought by its unique set, is ultimately a successful production.
photo by nate rosenbloom/the hoot
10 The Brandeis Hoot
October 12, 2012
Men’s soccer continues to roll with 2-0 win over Case By Brian Tabakin Editor
The men’s soccer team extended their unbeaten streak to 17 games with a 2-0 victory over Case Western this past Saturday. With the win, the Judges improve to 11-0-1 (1-0-1 UAA). The Judges have not lost a game since Oct. 28 of last year. In a slow-paced first half, neither the Case Western Spartans nor the Judges were able to score. The Judges outshot the Spartans 8-4 with a 2-1 advantage in shots on goal. Harold Salinas ’14 attributed the slow pace to the matchup. “It took us a little while to get going into top gear, but we did better in the second half,” Salinas said. “At times, we slowed it down to keep control of the game once we were in the lead.” Sam Ocel ’13 elaborated, “We always try to play our game and dictate the pace. It really depends on how the game is going. Sometimes we need to slow the game down and keep the ball. Other times we go right at the team.” Case Western had their best scoring chance of the day early in the second half when senior Rene Silva released a rocket toward goal; however, keeper Blake Minchoff ’13 made the save to keep the Spartans off of the scoreboard. As they have done many times this season, the Judges used a counteroffensive after Minchoff ’s save in order to gain momentum. After Minchoff cleared the ball, Foti Andreo ’15 played a through ball to Tyler Savonen ’15. Savonen gained possession of the ball and then sent a perfectly placed
cross to Ocel who deposited the ball past the Spartans’ keeper to put the Judges on the scoreboard. The goal was Ocel’s fifth of the season and his team-leading, fourth game-winner. Ocel commented, “I wouldn’t say that a [great defensive play] is igniting our offense, but the team definitely feeds off the energy that is created by a big save from Blake or a great tackle by Joe [Eisenbies ’13].” After Ocel’s goal, the Spartans tried to re-seize the momentum with a flurry of offensive pressure. They nearly succeeded as they came dangerously close to tying the game at 1-1 in the 60th minute. Minchoff was out of position in the goal when sophomore Patrick O’Day took advantage of his momentary lapse and fired a shot at the open end of the goal. With Minchoff unable to recover in time to make a play on the ball, defender Joe Eisenbies ’13 made a sensational play to clear the ball out of the box and preserve the Brandeis lead. Eisenbies’ defensive play once again swung the momentum in favor of the Judges. The Judges then counterattacked and maintained consistent pressure on the Spartans’ defense. This renewed attack paid off for the Judges in the 72nd minute when they added a key insurance goal to pad their lead, 2-0. Midfielder Tudor Livadaru ’14 started off the play with his agile footwork, sidestepping his defender along the goal line. He played the ball across the goalmouth, where it found Steve Salazar ’14 who then tapped the ball into the net for the first goal of his collegiate career.
photo by nate rosenbloom/the hoot
With the extra goal, the Judges took their defense to the next level for the closing 18 minutes of the game, allowing Case just one shot in the match. A positive development for the Judges this season is the improvement of the younger players. Livadaru has made a goal and an assist in his past two games while Salazar contributed with a goal in the game against Case. Ocel iterated, “It’s great to see. The two of them have been working very hard this year and it has shown when they have stepped onto the field.” The game was the Judges’ sixth shutout of the season. Minchoff con-
tinues to excel this season in goal, allowing one goal or less in 10 out of the 12 games. The Judges held Case to just two shots on goal during the entire match. Salinas commented, “We got a shutout the previous game and we were looking to keep it clean in the back. Everyone did their part to shut them down.” With the success the Judges have had this season, players emphasized that it is important to keep their focus on each game. “One of the things we learned after not making the tournament last year is the importance of every individual
game,” Salinas said. “That’s been a theme this year to take each game one at a time and not look ahead to anything else.” The Judges will take their dominating defensive play to Chicago on Friday and Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday as they embark on a weekend road trip against two top UAA competitors. Ocel agreed with Salinas commenting, “We are just focusing one game at a time. Chicago is all that is on our mind.” Their next home game will be on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
No. 22 women’s soccer continues to excel; improves to 10-1-1 By Evan Goldstein Staff
During the women’s soccer team game last Thursday against Babson, the Judges showed a dominating performance, winning 4-1. In their second game against Case Western on Saturday, the slow play ended in a draw for both sides. The match was defined by stellar goalkeeping and an up-and-down pace that exploded into scoring chances for both sides. Overall, the Judges dominated the game in terms of possession, corners and scoring chances. The Babson match was filled with plentiful scoring and the Judges’ consistent defense. Offensively, Melissa Darling stated, “Our forwards did a really good job that game, they did so much in terms of possession and getting the ball toward the goal.” Main strikers Holly Szafran ’16 and Dara Spital ’15, always part of that forward presence, each added a goal to their high totals for the season, five and nine respectively. It was Sapir Edalati ’15, however, that played great soccer upfront for the Judges. She accounted for two of the goals scored and is now third in goals scored for Brandeis with four, right behind Szafran. Szafran’s goal was an early blow to Babson, as it was scored in the fifth minute. The goal was set by Spital who, seeing Szafran move into the box, volleyed the ball right over the defenders to which Szafran, with a fine touch, headed the ball slightly over the keeper in the back of the net. Szafran would return the favor given to her by Spital’s beautiful volley by assisting Spital’s goal in the 51st minute. The score read 3-0 Brandeis
at this point but the Judges kept pressing, including the ever-aggressive Szafran. She played a cross right to Spital who one-timed it to make the score 4-0. Edalati’s second goal was also assisted on a cross by Szafran, finding herself an important part of the offensive machine. Edalati only needed a light touch to guide Szafran’s gift across the goalline. The goal, which occurred in the 24th minute, made the score 3-0 Brandeis, a large gap to overcome, even in the 24th minute. Edalati’s first goal was actually assisted by Spital, who, like Szafran, found herself embroiled in much of the action. She assisted the first two goals and scored the last. For Edalati’s goal, Spital had a long throw-in into the box to which Edalati positioned a carefully timed strike for her fourth of the season. The goal scored against Brandeis was the result of a free kick from 25 yards out that was saved easily by keeper Michelle Savuto ’15, but which then bobbled during possession. The ball flew out right into the box a few yards from the goal line, and Babson quickly responded, pushing the rebound into the back of the net. Emmy Eddy ’15 described the Judges’ performance aptly, “We played really well, we controlled the whole game, it should’ve been 4-0.” The Judges had 26 shots with 12 on goal while Babson had 12 shots and seven on goal. The Judges also had eight corners compared to one for Babson. This dominance had a presence in the match against Case but the scoreboard was vastly different. The match against Case that began on Saturday morning included a first
photo by shota adamia/the hoot
half that had equal possession and scoring chances for both teams. Darling added that the first half “was really equal, there was not lot of movement, neither team was controlling.” This theme would continue into the second half. Brandeis, however, controlled the last half of the match. The match was different in that both teams began to see more chances near the goal, especially the Judges. Spital had a high total of eight shots throughout the
match, producing most of them in the second half. Szafran also had a couple, missing just one shot due to the tip of Megan Romelfanger, the Case keeper. Romelfanger was a key reason why the Judges could not get on the scoresheet. She made nine saves against a tough Brandeis front line. Nonetheless, the Judges’ twokeeper tandem of Francine Kofinas ’13 and Michelle Savuto ’15 was the main reason that Case could not get
on the scoresheet. Savuto even had a save in the 58th minute, reminiscent of Romelfanger’s, tipping the ball just over the crossbar to keep Brandeis in the clear. Overall, the draw does not diminish the Judges’ momentum for a postseason berth; their 10-1-1 record is the best Brandeis has had since 2004. The Judges, however, have two key upcoming matches at Chicago on Friday and Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday.
October 12, 2012
The Brandeis Hoot
Siegel and Krems reach finals of ‘A’ flight doubles at Wallach Invite By Gordy Stillman Editor
Last weekend the men’s tennis team competed in its final event for the fall season, the James Wallach Invitational tournament hosted by Bates College. Highlights of the doubles events included performances by the Judges pairs in the ‘A’ flight. The pair of Alec Siegel ’15 and Mitch Krems ’16 reached the finals of the ‘A’ flight. Top-seeded captains Josh Jordan ’13 and Steven Milo ’13 also competed in the flight, but lost in the quarterfinals. For Krems and Siegel, reaching the finals was something special.
“Advancing to the ‘A’ flight in doubles was a ton of fun,” Siegel said. “It was a great feeling knowing that my partner and I could compete with some of the best doubles teams in New England, if not the country.” While the doubles events were underway, “We had the majority of our team there cheering us on and it felt great to put on a show for them and our coaches,” Siegel added. Jordan and Milo started strong, winning their first match 8-6. In the second round of doubles, they faced a surprising upset at the hands of duo Casey Grindon and Noah Bragg from Bowdoin. The Judges were not the only team to face an upset. After defeating the pair of Jugal Marfatia and Jordan
Kemp from Trinity College 9-7, Siegel and Krems knocked out the fourthseeded pair of Oliver Loutsenko and Danny Knight from Skidmore. After defeating Skidmore, they faced Peter Heidrich and Chris Frost from Middlebury—a pair that had just defeated the second-seed Kyle Wostencroft and Doug Caplan from Bowdoin. With a 9-8 victory over the pair from Middlebury, Siegel and Krems advanced to the finals of the ‘A’ flight, facing the third-seed, Matt Bettles and Pierre Planche from Bates. Both Siegel and Krems listed the same qualities of their pairing as factors in their success. “We both have all-court games and play an aggressive style of doubles,”
Krems said. Siegel added that in addition to the aggressive mindset, “We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses pretty well.” While the pair from Bates won the match 8-2, the strong showing at the end of the fall season is an uplifting preview for the spring season. Siegel commented, “Luck is always a factor but I’d like to think we played a level of tennis that we are certainly capable of. We [have] established a name for ourselves as a force in doubles for sure,” Siegel said. Krems added, “Overall the team has demonstrated great potential this fall and will hopefully carry through to the spring season.” As exciting as the doubles com-
petition was, the team struggled in singles. One member of the Judges’ squad advanced past the first round of singles: Evan Berner ’14 won his first match in the ‘D’ flight against Jesse Butler from Bates in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. In the second round, however, Peter Davis of Bowdoin defeated Berner in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. With the end of the Wallach Invitational, the men’s tennis team does not face competition until February when its spring season begins. While doubles enters the hiatus strong, Siegel summarized, “Singles wise, we have a lot to improve on, but I can’t wait for the spring season to build on a solid fall.”
Women’s tennis team rolls over Simmons in 9-0 sweep By Gordy Stillman Editor
The women’s tennis team swept Simmons College 9-0 on Monday in their last dual match of the fall season. With the sweep, the Judges improved to 1-1 this fall, rebounding after their 9-0 loss to Tufts last month. Playing without team captain Faith Broderick ’13 at No. 2, All-American Carley Cooke ’15 led the charge for the Judges, earning a 6-2, 6-0 win in her No. 1 singles match. Cooke also won her doubles match with Allyson Bernstein ’14, 8-4. In the other doubles action, Simone Vandroff ’15 paired with Maya Vasser ’16 and earned an 8-5 win at No. 2. In the third match, Roberta Bergstein ’14 and Dylan Schlesinger ’15 completed the doubles action with an 8-4 victory. Vandroff and Vassar, in the second
and third spots respectively, both won their matches. Rounding out the competition were three debuts at singles this season, Alexa Katz ’14, Sarita Biswas ’16 and Emily Eska ’16 at the four, five and six spots. In the fourth match, Katz dominated with a 6-0, 6-2 decision. Biswas and Eska also finished the day strong with 6-3, 6-3 wins. Each player won her match in straight sets. Broderick attributed the success of Monday’s performance to the team’s depth. “The match against Simmons was very successful for us. We were able to incorporate as many of our team members into the overall 9-0 victory,” she said, adding that the first win “will only motivate us to train hard in the offseason and get ready for the main spring season.” Discussing the fall season as a
photo courtesy of brandeis athletics
whole, Broderick explained, “its main job is to get us on track and focused for the spring. The fall season can also help us maintain and work toward a national ranking as a team and individually. It improves our record and
allows us to play tournaments and dual matches that we wouldn’t have time to play in the spring season.” The Judges compete in their final event of the fall season this weekend at the New England Women’s Inter-
collegiate Tennis Tournament. “In the past we have found a lot of success at NEWITTS. I expect nothing less than having our five teams go deep into each of the tournament flights,” Broderick said.
Volleyball rebounds with 3-0 sweep of Emerson By Nathan Koskella Editor
The women’s volleyball team won their second straight match this week, beating the visiting Emerson College Lions in three straight sets on Wednesday, 25-17, 25-18, 25-23. The win brings the Judges record to 13-7. The team is now ranked 12th in New England. Wednesday night saw Liz Hood ’15 and Lauren Berens ’13 each with double-digit kills, 13 and 10 respectively; Berens contributed to their successful night with two service aces. The other star of the match versus Emerson was Yael Einhorn ’14, who contributed 32 assists and three aces. On her serve, the Judges earned six points in a row in the first set to take the early advantage. After winning the second set, the Judges had little trouble until the third, which would prove to be the
end. While the team opened up several 3-point-or-more leads, the visiting Emerson responded with three points in a row to bring on a 21-21 tied set. After two errors committed by Lions, the Judges finished the set for the 3-0 shutout with two of Hood’s recorded kills. The Judges’ record at 13-7 already puts them above their win record of last year, with only nine wins and 21 losses. Coach Michelle Kim, who is in her ninth year as head coach, said that the already positive shift is attributable to two factors. “First, we got some good new players,” Kim said, mentioning Maddie Engeler, a first-year who plays middle blocker. “And some of our experienced players have improved, and are playing positions that are even better for them,” Kim said. Engeler’s addition frees up Berens to play what the coach called a great position for her: right
blocker. So, Kim said, both factors are working toward the team’s already superior win-loss ratio. Friday is the travel day to Carnegie Mellon for the Judges’ next test, the second of two round robin tournaments against conference rivals this weekend. The Judges have not won against UAA rivals, which include several nationally-ranked teams, since 2010. On Saturday the Judges will play New York University and No. 12 Chicago, and face No. 6 Emory University Sunday morning, before finally competing against the hosting Carnegie Mellon Tartans. “This weekend is going to be a challenge,” Kim said. “We have a shot, it depends on how we play, especially since Emory and Chicago are nationally ranked.” But she added that “Our two wins are a confidence boost for us and it should help us at Carnegie Mellon. We beat Wheaton, who we had not
played in a long time, and Emerson we played last year and they beat us.” The coach said that the clear difference between last year and the outcome against Emerson this year was enough for the “good shot” that the
photo by alex patch/the hoot
team has at the round-robin play. One of the schools not nationally ranked is the host school itself, adding only a different layer of difficulty. Simply put, “All of our conference opponents are tough,” Kim said.
Men and women’s cross country continue to improve By Evan Goldstein and Brian Tabakin Staff and Editor
The women’s cross country team attended the Open New England Tournament this weekend, placing 27th out of 37 teams and 6th within the Division III competition. Individually, Victoria Sanford ’15 had the best time for the Judges at 18:50.4. She placed 89th out of the to-
tal 251 runners at the meet, finishing 20th among runners from Division III. Second place among the Judges belonged to Ali Kirsch ’15, with the time of 19:03.06, finishing in 107th place among all runners. The junior-dominated meet for the Judges did not stop there, however, as a third junior, Amelia Lundkvist ’15 finished with the third best time for the Judges. Lundkvist had a 19:27.46 mark which qualified for the 146th spot out
of 251 runners. Younger Brandeis runners have already started to show talent at meets. Rookie runners Kelsey Whitaker ’16 and Maggie Hensel ’16 finished with very respectable times. Whitaker finished with a 19:39.10 mark and 160th place out of all runners. Hansel finished in 176th place with a 19:51.01 mark. On the men’s side, the Judges finished in 29th place out of 39 teams, placing ninth among Division III
teams. Captain Alex Kramer ’13 led the Judges with a time of 25:33.66 on the eight-kilometer course. His time placed him in 51st place out of 261 runners and in 12th place among Division III racers. Co-captain Mik Kern ’13 came in second among all Judges with a time of 26:18.04, which is good for 143rd place. Taylor Dundas ’14 and Greg Bray ’15 finished in 185th and 186th place
respectively with times of 26:54.89 and 24:55.22, while Michael Rosenbach ’15 was the last Brandeis runner to place, finishing in 195th place with a time of 27:03.29. With a total of 760 points, the Judges beat Division I opponent Rhode Island College by one point. Both the men and women’s sqauds will look to build on their performances when they travel to Rochester, New York on Saturday, Oct. 27 for the UAA championships.
12 The Brandeis Hoot
“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.” Editor-in-Chief Jon Ostrowsky Managing Editor Leah Finkelman Associate Editors Nathan Koskella Emily Stott Brian Tabakin Connor Novy News Editor Debby Brodsky News Editor Rachel Hirschhaut Deputy News Editor Victoria Aronson Features Editor Dana Trismen Features Editor Juliette Martin Arts, Etc. Editor Zach Reid Deputy Arts, Etc. Editor Zoe Kronovet Impressions Editor Morgan Dashko Copy Editor Nate Rosenbloom Photography Editor Becca Hughes Layout Editor Senior Editors Ingrid Schulte Suzanna Yu Business Editor Gordy Stillman
Volume 9 • Issue 22 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma
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An article on senior artists in the Sept. 21 print issue and online incorrectly attributed an inspirational quote of Eleanor Roosevelt’s to artist Tess Sucoff. The statement was made by artist Sara Weininger.
October 12, 2012
In framework, questions for community to answer
he preliminary framework for the strategic plan released this week presents a wealth of generalities and a dearth of specifics. As expected in any outline, it focuses on ideas and goals concerning policies and initiatives. Faculty stressed their desire to review specifics of the plan on Thursday, and we hope that the upcoming breakout sessions will help produce a version of the plan that explains not only where we want to go as a university, but how we expect to get there. The framework does, however, outline two essential questions to answer in the coming months. “Brandeis will build national and international recognition and a compelling case for the University as a first choice for students, faculty and staff committed to making a difference in the world. To do this we will: Share the Brandeis story widely, making a compelling case for distinctiveness through a comprehensive communications, marketing and recruitment plan,” according to the framework. We could not agree more with the need for Brandeis to aim high and set expectations that distinguish it from other schools. But telling our story is not only about communications and marketing strategy. It is about our values and university identity. In order to tell our story, this community needs to spend more time answering questions
about the role we seek regarding Jewish roots and Jewish sponsorship, and the message of which we seek to convey publicly. The framework makes an honest effort to address this question, citing the Strategic Planning committee’s principle that “Brandeis will honor its Jewish roots and commitment to pluralism, access and diversity.” Facilitating more student, faculty and alumni feedback on this question will be crucial in the coming months. Establishing Brandeis as a school committed to social justice is a wonderful core value. But it is not, on its own, a distinguishing factor. It is a start, but needs to become more specific over the coming months. In addition, Provost Steve Goldstein recognized another pivotal goal for the plan in his cover letter this week—universtiy financial stability. “It provides mechanisms to help us make hard choices about investment, consolidation and redirection of resources over the coming years—choices necessary to advance our premier standing while establishing a sustainable financial structure for the university,” he wrote. Listed under the university’s commitment to financial stability on page nine of the framework is the principle to “maintain our historic commitment to affordability and access, while mak-
ing certain that are commitments are supported in a financially sustainable manner.” Contrary to what some administrators may think, last year’s tuition increase has not been forgotten by students and families struggling to pay tuition bills. This editorial board remembers vividly when Fred Lawrence articulated clearly during his first interview that access to higher education through student financial aid and scholarship was his top priority as president. We expect, that whatever surveys, workshops, consultants or frameworks may find, it should remain his top priority. There is much to be excited about in the framework—new ideas for online programs, global connections with Israel and India and academic focus areas, ranging from biomedicine and global health to engineering to legal and ethical studies. But many of these new ideas put into practice will be costly. We hope that financial stability, and specifically tuition costs will be addressed seriously in the final version of the plan. What this community expects, surrounding questions of Jewish identity and financial accessibility is not only ideas, but also concrete proposals for ways to answer the most difficult of questions. This week’s framework is a step, but we eagerly anticipate the details to be released later this year.
October 12, 2012
The Brandeis Hoot 13
Learn to take relationship hints By Aliya Nealy
Special to the Hoot
I recently decided to watch a romantic comedy that would preach to the logical side of my romantic self. I chose “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I figured it would bring me back to reality by showing me that sometimes things don’t work out. This movie, however, only reinforced the unrealistic ideas that most romantic comedies present. “He’s Just Not That Into You” is adorable. Naturally my heart was singing at the end because (spoiler alert) each woman ends up with the guy she wants, or free from the guy she doesn’t need. But life isn’t always like that, especially in college. Sometimes you don’t end up with the person you want and sometimes we can’t let go of the person that is emotionally toxic for us. Though this movie didn’t help me achieve the emotional nirvana my soul was searching for, it left me with much to think about. The most important being that if a guy is really into you, he’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to show you. Truth is, we should all determine our expectations regarding what we consider to be a genuine and sincere expression of interest. While at Brandeis I’ve noticed several different situations in which people pursuing relationships get stuck in one of two ways: In one, when it comes to pursuing a relationship, people have
graphic by linjie xu/the hoot
unrealistic expectations of what is means to do “whatever it takes.” Or in another situation, a girl or guy finds someone he or she is interested in, who expresses only slight interest in him or her. This allows them to meet a lower set of expectations. As a self-proclaimed sap, I know that sometimes I allow the romantic movies that I repeatedly watch in-
form me of how the guys in my life should act. But despite my occasional desire to have someone kiss me passionately in the rain, or read me a deep love poem in a smoky nightclub, I usually have pretty reasonable ideas of what I expect someone to do when they express a genuine interest. Everyone has different ideas of what it means to do “whatever it
takes” to show a sincere interest in someone. If you have someone showing genuine interest in you and you feel that what they’re doing is lacking slightly, maybe you need to put in work to bridge the gap between what you’re getting and what you want. Sometimes, if you want to be asked on a date, you have to be willing to ask. Or you have to be willing to have
Vote early in your life
By Nathan Koskella Editor
The exact title of Samuel L. Jackson’s now widely-seen viral video in support of Barack Obama’s reelection, is not to be printed in this family-friendly community newspaper. But “Wake the F*ck Up,” which presents the actor’s endorsement of Obama’s Democrats largely by virtue of a furious slamming of Romney and the Republican Party, provides an example for which candidate one should cast their vote. What Jackson (and the Democratic super PAC that underwrote the spot) wants is to reach the particular voting bloc of America’s youth. Always the most underperforming age group in terms of turnout, the real message of ads like this one is that young people can not only swing our national elections, but that they should. No voters will on average have more of their lives affected by the policies yet to be enacted than young voters: We can reasonably expect to remain alive the longest. But voter participation in my age bracket, what the Census Bureau categorizes at 1824, does not even consist of half of us. It was pretty close in 2008, when young people around the nation flocked in record-breaking numbers to support Obama. But that 48.5 percent is higher than the average, and considerably higher than the election that preceded it, featuring two non-incumbent presidents: In the extremely controversial 2000 election, youth turnout was below 40 percent. If young people voted at the rate of citizens aged 30 and older, which is consistently—even before 2008—about two in every three, any discrepancy between the popular and electoral vote count would have been
an uncomfortable, but important, conversation with your person of interest. If you have these conversations or work to bridge the gap between your expectations, and they still put in little effort, it might be a situation with which you need to forget. This is because they might not be ready to accept what you’re willing to give or give what you want to receive.
graphic by steven wong/the hoot
obliterated, and the national fiasco avoided. Now, that stat is true if a lot of things happened: if the 30-plus voted at the seven-tenths that it holds; if more voters did not vote for spurious third-parties, et cetera. But elections are about more than producing a fully credible winner. Meaningful decisiveness requires a candidate who can honestly claim to represent at least a majority of the electorate. No candidate has ever achieved this among young people. And it is young people who ought to voice the biggest say in our nation’s future, not the least. The national issues of this 2012
election, from taxation to health care to military policy, concern all Americans, but especially the youth. Obama’s stimulus program was financed almost exclusively through deficit spending, and it is the upcoming generations who will have to decide how much or even whether to pay down the debt. Mitt Romney’s proposed changes to Social Security and Medicare, while preserving the status quo for current and soon-to-be retirees, drastically alters the social contract for laborers who are about to enter the workforce. And it is not the middle-aged titans of industry and diplomacy that fight battles,
rather it is a far-too-large number of young Americans whose lives are cut short waging “our” wars. And young people have even more to offer the discourse, with entire issue planks that are not even being talked about by baby-boomer candidates, senators and bureaucrats, or even the aging, armchair pundits of legacy media. Climate change has played a virtually nonexistent role in the current campaign, and the boldest measures to support the planet are completely off the table. Young people support gay rights by commanding margins: In today’s youthdriven institutions like some profes-
sional sports and nearly all college campuses it’s virtually a non-issue. And the present immigration and deportation policies largely affect new citizens who are the youngest, having been here in America and on Earth the least amount of time. Those are just three prominent examples. Absolutely no national politician entertains scores of others: What are we to do with emerging technologies? Soon human genes will be almost entirely mapped out, robotic machines will be able to outwork all of our laboring output and new gadgets will throw all of our expectations of privacy high into the air. And these technology laws, from patents to virtual policing, are being written by great-grandfathers. Obama and Romney may know how to make deft use of email and Twitter, but do Supreme Court justices and decades-longserving House committee chairmen? Astute readers between the lines may have picked up that this 21-yearold supports the reelection of the president. But if America’s youth would like to return to the America that Mitt Romney likes to discuss with our older, more powerful fellow citizens, they should make that known as well. But you don’t have to be a liberal to be a democrat, and yes, I intentionally wrote lowercase d, in order to want a place where voters actually decide the direction of their society, for good or ill. And my peers and I vote too little to be worthy of the benefits that democracy provides; it has to change. We matter and have more potential interest than any other group. Last-minute confession: I didn’t have enough time to vote two years ago, and I never cast my vote for Martha Coakley in her doomed race against Scott Brown. I’m not going to make the same mistake ever again.
The Brandeis Hoot
October 12, 2012
The importance of Big Bird By Zoë Kronovet Editor
Before last week, I hadn’t thought about Big Bird in a long time. In fact, PBS only recently reclaimed its spot in my consciousness when I needed to get my dose of English drama with Downton Abbey this past summer. There are many reasons why we should continue to value government funded television stations and programs. One only needs to look at TLC to understand why it is that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s flippant remark at the Presidential debate last week about eliminating the funding for PBS is problematic. On Monday, Buzzfeed published a quick photo-filled article about the origins of TLC. Apparently, TLC was funded in 1972 through a joint project between the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and NASA. It was created to be a channel that provided instructional and informational television shows in an effort to provide real education via television. When the channel was privatized in 1980, it continued to focus on educational content; however, the 90s saw a big shift in the selection of programs that TLC chose to broadcast. Shows like Ready Set Learn and PaleoWorld became extinct as Trading Spaces became the new hit show. TLC’s broadcasting of meaningful content has only dwindled further with the onset of shows like “Honey BooBoo Child” and “Hoarders.” These frightening shows exploit those in our community who are odd, or suffer from a disorder or a rare medical condition. This exploitation is epitomized with the TLC show “Abbey and Brittany,” which follows the lives of conjoined twins. I am not claiming that the privatization of TV includes the degradation of content, but it is clear that there is a correlation between the absence of government funded TV and shows like “My Strange Addic-
tion.” As college students who rely on TV to fill the time between classes or relax after a difficult day, we should recognize the important role that government sponsored television plays in our lives. Most of our generation grew up with Oscar, Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Whether we knew it or not, we were reliant on the government to help fund the TV show that taught us our 1-2-3s and the importance of sharing. And although Mitt Romney didn’t pick Arthur to single out in the debate, PBS is also the home of our favorite animal friends who love to read. I may have aged out of PBS programming in the late 90s, but it is home to many shows that appeal to a wide demographic, not just “PBS Kids.” PBS has so many shows, in fact, that due to the sheer number of them, I wasn’t able to count them all when I looked at the PBS website. I will freely admit to leaving PBS behind as I grew up. As I aged I associated PBS with childhood and didn’t continue to support the channel with my viewership. After looking into the TV shows that PBS runs, I may have made a hasty mistake in discontinuing my viewership. Yes, there are the educational programs that I absolutely would not watch, such as “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State” and “Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War.” But PBS also has expositions on favorite American musicians and actors like Eartha Kitt and Bob Dylan. Most notably, PBS hosted Julia Child’s famous cooking show. On its website, PBS unashamedly refers to itself as “America’s largest classroom, the nation’s largest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world.” With that image in mind, in a day and age in which public school funding is being cut, thus creating larger classes for teachers and less individualized attention, it is hard to understand why Mitt Romney (or anyone) would fail to see the impor-
graphic by sindhura sonnathi/the hoot photo from internet source
tance of allowing a channel that in its mission statement proclaims that its “educational media helps prepare children for success in school and opens up the world to them in an age-appropriate way.” According to A.C. Nielson Company, a global marketing research firm, 99 percent of households in America possess at least one TV. In an average American household, the TV is on for approximately six hours and 45 minutes a day. Even more
horrifying is that this research discovered that “the average child will watch 800 murders on TV before finishing elementary school.” If PBS is turned on for even an hour or two during this time, not only would that household receive knowledgeable content, but they would perhaps prevent the children in that home from seeing the gratuitous violence that fills our television sets today. There are many reasons why we should support PBS. As we grow
older, graduate from Brandeis, pursue other degrees or possibly get married and have children, don’t we want our children and grandchildren to be exposed to the same impactful programs that we saw when we were children? With the amount of time that Americans spend watching TV, we should embrace and support the channel that provides us with educational programming—not cut funding in a misguided and futile attempt to balance the budget.
Why I donate blood By Pete Wein Staff
The blood drive has just ended in our Brandeis community. Thank you to all of the people who were able to donate blood and save a few lives. I would like to preface this article by mentioning that I have been unable
to donate blood for the last couple of years. Between the various places I’ve visited and my weight, I am not usually able to give blood. When I am, eligible to donate, I attempt to give blood but then proceed to either pass out or not have enough fluid in my system or enough blood to donate. In other words, I’ve tried but only succeeded a few times. I would award
myself an A plus for intention but a C minus for execution. That fact, of course, does not limit my respect for anyone willing to get pricked to donate blood. Considering what it is that giving blood does for the community, a little pinch on your arm and a bruise for a day are nothing in comparison. What does giving blood do for the
graphic bydiane somlo/the hoot
community? Statistics reinforce the positive outcomes that giving blood creates. One bag of blood you donate will, on average, save three peoples’ lives. To say the least, this is a pretty incredible feat of medicine. Doctors are so efficient with modern technology that they can use one of your pints to save three people. This of course neglects serious injuries and traumas, since they usually need much more blood. But even if your blood is only a portion of the blood needed to save someone, it is still an enormous contribution. But donating blood is more than just numbers and averages. When you donate blood, you perform an act that most people are unaware of: you are consciously consenting to give some of your life to those who are in greater need. And that is an important distinction to make, something that money or influence can never truly replicate. If you are unable to donate blood but are able to donate money to the Red Cross, that is still incredible. But money is not the same as your blood, the substance that quite literally keeps you going. Roughly three months after donating, your blood will regenerate back to normal levels. Your money, assuming you have a job, also regenerates—but you can live without that money with no problem. Without blood, you will die in nearly every case. There is, of course, the flip side of the coin. Not to sound paranoid, but you have no idea when you will need blood in the future. Knowing that so many people are willing to give a bit
of themselves in order for you to live, in the event that you do need it, reveals the character of those people. When people donate blood on a large scale, it shows the character of not only the people but the community as a whole. Being a part of a community that is very active with blood donations means that these people are willing to give some of their lives to help those who need it. Considering that this is not a mutually exclusive feeling, a community that gives in this respect probably also gives back in other ways. At Brandeis, for example, we have many students, staff and faculty who donate blood. But we also have so many other community service groups at Brandeis, and not just through the Waltham Group. A community that donates blood is the community that donates time to other social issues. If you are unable to donate blood for whatever reason, you shouldn’t feel bad or morally wrong. As a person who can’t donate all that frequently, I know that it’s not because I don’t want to, rather that the Red Cross doesn’t want bad blood or to cause me any injury. Even if the reason is that you can’t stand needles, you can help in so many other ways. You can even volunteer at the Brandeis Blood Drive; you may not be giving blood, but you are donating something just as special to you, your time. Blood drives are one of the most refined ways for you to show who you are and make a difference for someone you may never meet.
October 12, 2012
The Brandeis Hoot
The Self Shelf
Protecting the truth in presidential debates
By Alex Self Staff
Like many Americans, I found myself watching the presidential debates last Thursday. It had been years since I had actually sat down to watch a political debate, and after watching I could only hope it would be a longer time until the next. The number of times a candidate actually addressed a question was far and few in between. Actual clash between the two candidates was minimal enough at times to make one wonder whether they were aware of each other’s presence. Meanwhile, moderator Jim Lehrer seemed more lifeless than Big Bird in a Romney administration. Regardless of your opinions on the debate, Truth was the real loser in that contest. Both candidates seemed to handle the facts as loosely as they handled the moderator. Yet, in a system in which we are told that “you can usually judge the winner of a debate by muting the sound and watching body language,” this is not all that surprising. What incentive does one have to tell the truth if one can gain far more by lying? Better to be confident than honest, appears to be the maxim of our political system. That is why I have a small proposal to help our political system garner a little more honesty so that the American people can make a more informed decision on Election Day: The presence of a fact checker during a debate that would literally let viewers know when a candidate was lying. To avoid getting bogged down in details, I’m going to presume that we can have a system where when a candidate misspeaks vaguely (for example, if he says he plans to cut the deficit by $5 rather than $4.99) that this will be denoted somehow separately from outright perversions of the facts. Admittedly this takes a leap of faith but I believe that modern technology could figure it out. This proposal, if implemented, would have a myriad of benefits. The first main benefit to this system would be an increase in truth in the political system, for several reasons. First and most obviously, candidates would have a much larger incentive to tell the truth. In the status quo, a candidate can lie through an entire debate and still be seen as the “winner.” Even if a fact check afterward
graphic by sarah sue landau/the hoot
proves that he was telling more lies than a snake oil salesman offering discounts, it is too little and too late to offset the political bump he gets for winning the debate. In my system, a candidate who lied would not be able to score political points. A candidate appearing to win a debate when the audience is aware that he has been telling numerous lies throughout seems rather unlikely. At worst, this still provides for more accountability than the status quo. Another reason that this system would produce more truth in debates is that candidates would go out of their way to avoid lying in order to avoid being called out by the system during the debate. This is especially preferable to the status quo insofar as the only way someone can call out a lie during debates now is by leveling the charge and hoping somebody cares. My system is preferable because instead of “he said, she said,” we get the definite determination that some-
thing is or is not a lie. As a result of this effect, candidates are likely to make sure to weed out any potential lies during debate preparation. Thus, the very chances of a lie being uttered are minimized. Finally, even if candidates still lie, an audience who knows that the statement is a lie will most likely disregard the statement. Therefore, even if lies take place with my proposal, they will be less harmful in terms of perpetuating falsehoods. The second main benefit of this change would be the effects upon the American political system. The reason we value truth so much in our political system is because we want voters to be able to make a rational decision to vote for whoever best represents their interests in the election. The key to making a rational decision is to have the relevant information about the alternatives one must choose between. Lies, which undermine the accu-
racy of the portrayal of candidates, therefore meaningfully harm the ability of people to make a rational decision. For example, let us say that Big Bird and Kermit are running for president (we will use that example while we still have it). Let us say that Big Bird is pro-life but lies during a debate and states he is pro-choice. When voters go to the ballot box, they are operating on inaccurate information and therefore are making a meaningfully worse decision in regard to choosing someone to represent their interests. Thus, by allotting for more truth in elections, the United States gains an electoral system that better represents the views of its people. Additionally, more truth in elections would lessen voter apathy. In the status quo, many people do not trust politicians. This mistrust parlays itself into a lack of voter engagement and ultimately voter turnout. By having more truth in debates, we can at least somewhat engage these people more substantively
than we are currently. The final benefit that my proposal would obtain is the increasing relevance of political debates. Today, debates are labeled as unique forums where the candidates can debate their political platforms, but that does not meaningfully take place when politicians can willfully disavow their platforms to score political points. With the implementation of my system, debates would actually represent meaningful clashes of ideology and policy proposals, not simply an attempt to make up whatever is necessary to win the point at hand. Debates should not be all about who has the best posture or who looks the most engaged—it should be about whose policies and stances people believe to be the best for the country. By implementing a proposal where politicians have to defend the ideals they stand for, we get a better debate and a better political system as a whole.
Comparing the candidates’ education policies By Jennifer Spencer Staff
It is paramount that we should vote with knowledge of the educational stances of the presidential candidates. The presidential debates and negative ads make it easy to get caught in the emotion involved in politics, to look at the rhetoric, but not actual policies of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and what they imply. In order to look beyond the rhetoric one must look carefully at the meaning of certain words and their implications. With all of us registering to vote and getting out to the polls in less than a month, it is our responsibility to be aware of all issues, particularly the ones that will directly affect us and other students. Students should have an even greater critical eye than the average citizen on the candidates’ policy for education reforms, the past actions of the presidential candidates and how they plan to implement these policies over the next four
years. We are a part of the educational system and it is unquestionable that these educational policies will continue to not only influence us current students, but also past and future students. Despite the importance of education and the value placed on it within our nation, there is not much talk from either candidate as to the specific course of actions they plan to take once elected. It takes some research to investigate the candidates’ stances because it does not seem to be on the forefront of their platforms. In the current economy, the student debt rate has reached a trillion dollars. More and more students and parents are taking out loans that they cannot afford. As students we know and hope that change will take place and make the education system more affordable, especially for middle-class families. Earlier in the campaign, people were outraged when Mitt Romney stated that students should just “borrow money from your parents” to afford schools. The idea is to make college affordable for everyone,
not push your parents into loans that they can’t pay off. Looking at the current president’s work on higher education, his policy reveals work toward making college more affordable. President Obama won approval from Congress for a $10,000 college tax credit over four years and increases in Pell Grants and other financial aid. The New York Times states that these credits would extend a tax credit currently set to expire in January and give individuals and families a tax break of up to $10,000 over four years of college. The New York Times goes on to state that Obama would also push a proposal that would link some federal aid to colleges’ success in curbing tuition increases. Obama understands that college expenses are high, but his initiatives are specific goals that work toward helping us. He doesn’t want to cut current student’s loans, but rather work with Congress to create more sources of money for students. Obama stated that, “If Congress allows the interest rate on student loans to double, they will be failing a
generation of Americans who cannot afford to be in debt for the rest of their lives.” Obama is not narrowing down the percentage of the population that does and does not receive aid. He is simply stating the role that the federal government and private institutions should provide to students who want to attend their schools. It is a general message of affordability and sustainability of the college system in hopes for a brighter future. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has a differing view. According to The Huffington Post, Romney argues that increases in federal student aid encourage tuition to go up, too. He wants federal government to be less involved in higher education. Romney wants to see more involvement with the private sector through private lenders returning to the federal student loan program. This could be beneficial since it seems that the federal government has not been providing enough money to support schools and students. Full analysis of Romney’s plans, however, proves troubling.
What’s worrisome with Romney’s plan is that it would make it more difficult for middle-class families to pay for college education. While in the most recent debate Romney stated that he would not cut college funds, his policies suggest otherwise. According to The New York Times, Mr. Romney would work to make financial aid available for students who “need it most.” While this may sound appealing, Mitt Romney’s definition of middle class is not like that of the average American. He considers middle class between $200-250k. In actuality, a lot of what we consider to be the middle class would be hurt by his policies. The “need it most” of Romney’s plan isn’t applicable to many of us middle-class students that are struggling with college prices. Regardless of whether you vote for Obama or Romney it is incredibly vital, as students, to continue looking up current educational policies and plans, comparing what is said in debates to what is written down in their policies, and taking an active role as a voter.
The Brandeis Hoot
October 12, 2012
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