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// Student-run newspaper serving Mills College since 1917 //

Arts & Entertainment

In this issue

// Volume 99 // Issue 7 //


How to piss off the lifeguard >> pg 7 Some extremely bad advice.


Sports & Health

Mills budget balanced >> pg 2 DeCoudreux to continue practicing fiscal responsibility.

Swim team competes at UCSC >> pg 8

Student wins first place at Poetry Slam >> pg 5 Victoria Kupu’s performance captivates the audience.

Team overcomes initial obstacles, and succeeds.

AP preferred gender pronoun story sparks collegewide identity debate Natalie Meier An Associated Press story about the implementation of preferred gender pronouns at Mills and other US colleges, and the varying degrees of reception that have followed in the wake of its release, have caused an uproar among Mills College students, with alums also adding their voices to the conversation. Featured as the face of the story was Skylar Crownover, president of Mouthing Off!, Mills’ LGBTQ* group, who identifies as gender nonconforming and prefers to be referred to by they/them or he/him pronouns. Crownover explained that the founding mission statement for Mills was to provide a space in higher education for “the oppressed gender,” as stated in the Gender Identity and Expression Sub-Committee’s Report on Inclusion of Transgender and Genderfluid Students: Best Practices Assessment and Recommendations, which came out last year. “At the time the ‘oppressed gender’ was cisgender women,” Crownover said. “Now, Mills’ mission is still to provide access to higher education to oppressed genders, but that now includes not only cisgender women but trans* and gender non-conforming students, while maintaining a women’s centered curriculum and focus.” Preferred gender pronouns exploded onto the academic scene at Mills in 2011, when then-sophomore Shaun Salas introduced the practice of distributing PGP cards to professors so they would be aware of identities other than female present in the classroom. Since then, gender neutral pronouns like “they” have become more commonplace at Mills, encouraging the implementation of new policies rather than leaving it a singlesex identified campus. “I think that, especially just within the past two years, there have been so many huge conversations that had never happened prior that I’m hopeful because I feel like Mills, more so than being a women’s college, is a

safe and brave space for people that are oppressed in the sense of gender,” said sophomore Joss Ferguson, who goes by “they” and was also featured in the Associated Press article. “A women’s college doesn’t necessarily mean a ciswomen’s college.” However, these new ways of thinking about students’ gender have raised some uneasiness and even anger where policies are concerned. Alums have spoken out on social media against altering the core identity of Mills as a women’s college, many reminiscing on the 1990 strike to stop the College from going co-ed. “For me, Mills belongs to women - past, current, and future,” said Alexa Pagonas, a 1991 Mills alum. “It was started as a way to educate women. In 1990 many of us fought very hard to keep her [Mills] all women. That is her herstory and that is her mission. I am not feeling particularly generous on giving up on that.” In an effort to demonstrate solidarity with the growing movement to break gender binaries and with Mills students who do not identify as women, the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) changed the traditional SPAM chant to reflect gender neutrality. Instead of “Strong Women! Proud Women! All Women! Mills Women!,” the mantra is now “Strong! Proud! All! Mills!” “[SPAM] was created to show support of staying a women’s college,” said Pagonas, one of three Mills strikers who brought the chant to life during the 1990 strike. “To remove ‘women’ from the vocabulary weakens the position for the institution as a single sexed school. I am proud to be a woman.” While the reception of the AP story has varied from supportive to negative, Ferguson feels that the students who participated in sharing their stories were unfairly represented, with little to none of the dialogue they had during the interview being featured in the body of the article. Ferguson said that their faces were simply used as representations of the issue at hand without any of the personal stories they told

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Joss Ferguson, one of the students who was interviewed for the Associated Press story, felt misrepresented after reading the article.

about identifying as something other than female or male. “If you hear quotes, and you’re reading that this is how this person experiences it and you know that they are a trans person, that’s going to be a much clearer depiction of what it’s like and what it means than having that erasure and the actual dialogue that happened not being placed and it being separated by the linguistics of a professor at a college,” Ferguson said. “We didn’t know that was going to happen. None of us knew we weren’t actually going to be quoted, and I think that was really what surprised me.” The question of what effect dissociating Mills with the identity of a single-sex women’s college will have on the admission’s policies is one that has been frequently discussed in on-campus gender inclusivity circles. Would an admissions policy that allowed students who are not female-identified mean that the College would go co-ed? Crownover does not find it likely. “I would say no, since that does not align

with Mills’ mission statement to provide access to higher education for oppressed genders,” Crownover said. “Modern society still privileges cisgender men in a way that it does not privilege cisgender women, trans, and gender non-conforming people.” However, Dr. Meighan Katz, class of 1992, believes that Mills’ identity as a women’s college is an essential part of its history, purpose and mission. While she is “deeply sympathetic” to those who feel like outcasts because of gender binaries and admires the fact that current Mills students are passionately debating the issue, she believes that the line between Mills and a co-ed liberal arts college “only has so much elasticity before it breaks.” “The nature of the institution means that it inherently cannot be all things to all people,” Katz said. “Does Mills have a responsibility to help mold women who go out into the world and try to make it a safer place for everyone? Absolutely. Can Mills itself be that safe space for everyone? No.”

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Mills’ 2012-2013 budget balanced, DeCoudreaux looks to the future Natalie Meier The news that the budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year had been balanced was quietly communicated to financial donors via an email from President DeCoudreaux on Oct. 18. The email stated, in bold letters, that donations to the College’s budget amounted to a whopping $15.1 million, a rise of 26 percent from the previous fiscal year. A video message from three Mills students who had received scholarships as a direct result of donor generosity was also featured in the email. In the video, the students discuss being part of the Mills community, and how their scholarship money has given them opportunities they would not otherwise have had. Mills enrolled over 1,600 students this fiscal year, registering the biggest first-year class in over 35 years. When President Alecia DeCoudreaux was inaugurated into presidency two years ago, the College was facing a deficit of approximately $3.5 million. The majority of revenue for Mills stems from enrollment and the number of students on campus year to year; the projected deficit from those two sources alone amounted to $3.1 million. For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, that deficit was eradicated, with $864,000 in leftover funds to be carried to the next fiscal year’s budget. “If you think about all of the financial aid dollars we use, all the maintenance we need and all the investments we want to make, there’s no such thing as an excess,” DeCoudreaux said in an interview. “We want to get to the point where our expenses and revenues balance from year to year.” Sophomore Theresa Soares was one of the donors who received news that the budget had been balanced thanks to the considerable monetary efforts of the Mills community. “From a donor perspective, it’s great news that the budget is balanced,” Soares said. “As a student, I feel fortunate that I’m in a position to give back.” According to DeCoudreaux, the College was able to close the monetary gap thanks in large part to diligent fundraising and practicing fiscal restraint in all areas, including reducing expenses and negotiating contracts that the College holds for lower prices. DeCoudreaux travels frequently to solicit funds from friends and alumnae of the College, explaining what the

College needs to continue functioning financially. One area where the College has cut back on spending is administration and faculty salaries. DeCoudreaux explained that within six months of her presidency, she had reduced the salaries of the provost, faculty and her own office in order to practice fiscal restraint; faculty have also not received raises for a number of years. But DeCoudreaux said she is hopeful that the well-deserved salaries of faculty will soon be reestablished. “We want to be able to stabilize our financial picture so that we can reinstate salaries,” DeCoudreaux said. “They’re the reason we’re here; without faculty, we wouldn’t be able to teach students.” According to DeCoudreaux, when putting together a budget for each fiscal year, the College plans for full employment in order to maximize salary savings. This means that the College centers its budget around filling every position as full time; for example, if an employee is budgeted on full employment for 12 months, but only works for 10 months, then the College receives two months worth of salary savings, which is allocated towards closing any kind of financial deficit. DeCoudreaux stressed that while the budget was balanced this past year, this does not indicate the same outcome for the coming years. Part of the predicted revenue for the budget includes monetary gifts and bequests. “When people die — usually these are Mills alumnae or some that are connected to the college in some way — they will often leave a bequest in their will to the College,” DeCoudreaux said. “As we predict out, we cannot predict with any certainty bequests, and it just so happened that in this last fiscal year, we received a fair amount of bequests. That’s what helped us balance the budget.” Mills also launched a successful summer term last year in which 187 students participated, and approximately $100,000 of revenue was generated. The summer session was designed to be more flexible in meeting the needs of students who may not have gotten to take certain classes during the year. Mills is also piloting a January term where alums will be given the opportunity to return to Mills to take courses, DeCoudreaux said, creating even more revenue. According to the Mills website, alumnae can audit a one-credit course in the January term for $285, which includes general fees. As most of the revenue the College generates is attributed to enrollment and retention rates, enrollment in the Spring 2013 semester for incoming first-year students increased by 3

percent, causing a large influx of revenue for the 2012-2013 budget. Retention rates also rose this year, leaping from 77 percent retention for Fall 2012 semester to 81 percent for Fall 2013. “We attribute these increases to revisions to how we award Mills financial aid in order to place a greater emphasis on financial need as well as the outstanding work of the faculty and staff to focus on assisting with the transition and acclimation to college life for new first-year students,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Brian O’Rourke said in an email. As for the 2013-2014 fiscal budget and the fate of the College’s budget in the coming years, President DeCoudreaux said she feels cautiously optimistic. “While we’re working very hard to raise as much money as we can, we won’t know if we’ll get as much as we did last year, so we need to continue with fiscal restraint,” DeCoudreaux said.

about the recent event that the ASMC executive board attended called the American Student Goverment Association Conference in Los Angeles, where they met over 100 students from other colleges’ student government. ASGA holds several annual conferences throughout the United States that help student government members develop plans to improve their organization and provide networking opportunities. Student Services Chair Mel Petricko presented updates about the Sustainability Committee, which works to promote environmentally sustainable practices across campus, and their hopes to address student concerns regarding the Mills shuttle service, particularly the shuttle schedule. Recently, students have been pushing to have the shuttle run later to

provide students safe transportation to and from campus on the weekends. According to Petricko, in order for the shuttle to run later, it would have to start later as well to allow for “budget-neutral” changes, or changes that will not cost the school more money. Petricko has received feedback from various students and community members but still hopes to receive more feedback from commuter students via email regarding the shuttle schedule. During the meeting, ASMC also discussed how its members can learn from student government organizations at other institutions. “We can always use ideas from other [student governments] to enrich ours,” Gartside said.


President Alecia DeCoudreaux is focusing on the budget being consistently balanced each year.

ASMC holds final meeting for fall semester Ari Nussbaum

The Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) hosted their last open forum/meeting for the fall semester on Nov. 25, with around 18 ASMC members in attendance and no other community members. President Meghan Hinsch was unable to attend, so the meeting was run by Vice President Deborah Gartside. One of the discussions held during the open forum was

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Gender policy integrated into Mills Strategic Plan Ari Nussbaum Emily Mibach

The Gender Identity and Expression Sub-Committee’s focus has developed further since their work last semester, as has their title. Last year, the committee was called the Transgender Inclusivity Task Force and focused on gathering data regarding best practices for gender inclusion. They have since produced the Report on Inclusion of Transgender and Genderfluid Students: Best Practices Assessment and Recommendations, which has now been integrated into the Mills College Strategic Plan. The Gender Identity and Expression sub-committee is made up of Mills staff, faculty and student members. The members come from various departments on campus, including the registrar’s office, the English department and APER. The chair of the Gender Identity and Expression sub-committee is Julia Oparah, the department head of Ethnic Studies. “These are all people who are doing this work really kind of over and above their core workload,” Oparah said. “The very fact that the committee is made up of people who are absolutely passionate and committed to this is significant.” The sub-committee has set out several goals they hope to achieve. One of these goals is to lay out the framework for implementation of the recommendations created by the report by both addressing the ones that seem possible this year and identifying long-term projects that may take place over the next three to five years. According to Julia Oparah the report is now a part of the Strategic Plan. The strategic plan now includes a section titled “Creating an environment inclusive of all diversity,” which states that Mills has had a long tradition of challenging gender roles and inequality in ways that have “broken normative conceptions of gender.” The strategic plan also explains the importance of creating an inclusive climate for gender nonconforming students

through the suggestions outlined by the committee’s report. Mills needs to consider how it treats current and prospective gender-variant students, the Strategic Plan says. “What’s really exciting about that is that it demonstrates that the administration of the college, the board and the students who really wanted this to happen are on the same page, and it’s now a part of [the College’s] strategic planning for the next five years,” Oparah said. “This defines how we direct our energies as faculty and staff on campus and how we direct our resources, so it’s critical that [this goal] is in there.” Another goal of the sub-committee is to write a clear admissions and retention policy on transgender and gender-fluid students. The current admissions policy is case by case and states that Mills admits self-identifying women, though Oparah stated that this can often lead potential applicants to believe that they are ineligible to apply. Sophomore Anna Pangilinan recently completed a research project about the campus climate regarding admissions and inclusion of transgender students at Mills. Pangilinan conducted a survey amongst students asking about their understanding of admissions policies for trans students as well as how they felt about transgender students at Mills. “Eighty people responded and 71 of them said that they think we should have transgender students and that having transgender students on campus does support our mission as a college,” Pangilinan said. Pangilinan also found that many students did not have a clear understanding of the admissions policies regarding transgender students. Of the 80 respondents, 30 said that they thought they knew what the policy was; however, Pangilinan noted that many of the respondents who thought they knew the policy were unable to explain it. The Gender Identity and Expression sub-committee hopes to clarify some of the confusion regarding admissions policies for gender nonconforming applicants. The best practices report states that, “Mills should let academically eli-

Mills College Safety Report

gible transgender and gender fluid students know they are welcome to apply and inform prospective students we are committed to embracing and retaining all admitted students, regardless of gender identity at the time of graduation.” The current admissions policy for transgender students is to admit them on a case-by-case basis. In the report, the committee suggested that Mills creates “targeted literature for prospective transgender and gender fluid students” that will address concerns relating to the admissions policies and that Mills should provide admissions staff with training on the needs of transgender and gender fluid students and the policies regarding them, as well as several other ideas to help clarify the current admissions policies for prospective students. The sub-committee has also set out a goal to ensure that the gender identity and expression are included in Mills’ non-discrimination statement. Many women’s colleges do not include statements on gender because it raises concerns about gender-related restrictions for applicants. The Gender Identity and Expression sub-committee hopes to see Mills become one of the first to address the topic in their non-discrimination statement in a way that will be more inclusive, but will not contradict our goal as a women’s college. “I think that what we will produce will be a template for other womens colleges, and hopefully that will resolve that particular problem,” Oparah said. “Our goal here is for Mills to become a model for all women’s colleges nationally on best practices around transgender and gender fluid inclusion.” By doing so, the sub-committee hopes to gain a spot for Mills on the list of top 10 trans-friendly campuses, which is published by an organization called Campus Pride. Oparah also stated that the Gender Identity and Expression sub-committee is working on several other tasks, such as the way documents are handled regarding name changes and preferred gender pronouns. The sub-committee recently hosted a workshop for alumnae about different gender identities and found that even older

According to, the following incidents took place within a one-mile radius of Mills since Nov. 20: Assault: 12 Burglary: 14 Disturbing the peace: 2 Drug/Alcohol disturbance: 4 Motor vehicle theft: 20 Robbery: 2 Theft/Larceny: 9 Vandalism: 3

Sex & Gender: What’s the difference? According to the MerriamWebster Dictionary: Sex is either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures. Gender is the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.

alumnae who attended were open to and interested by the subject. The sub-committee hopes to host more workshops in the future, such as a workshop for faculty members that will help them learn to incorporate gender-related issues into their courses and a workshop for advisors. Oparah hopes that the Gender Identity and Expression subcommittee’s work will benefit not only transgender and gender fluid students, but others as well. For example, they hope to create a list of LGBTQ allies within each department for students to speak to when they have concerns. The report is currently visible on the Mills website, and students may also submit feedback regarding the report and concerns about the inclusivity of trans students. The sub-committee takes student feedback into account

Nov. 22: A 59-year-old woman named Melinda Thomas was assaulted in East Oakland and died later that night. According to the Contra Costa Times, the Crime Stoppers of Oakland and the police are offering up to $10,000 in reward for information that may lead to the suspect. Nov. 25: Seven people were shot near an East Oakland park, the Associated Press reported. Five of the victims sustained minor injuries while two were in critical condi-

and addresses student concerns as much as possible. “It was the energy of the students that made this happen,” Oparah said. Laura Engelken, Co-Chair of the Diversity and Social Justice Committee and Director of Spiritual and Religious Life, hopes that other members of the Mills community will get involved. “Ideally, it’s not that the committee does all of it, but helps raise awareness and helps provide resources or suggestions so that the campus can move forward with in all different areas,” Engelken said. “Because diversity and social justice isn’t going to happen on campus if there’s just one committee, all of us from our different perspectives and our different knowledge and skills come together in our various circles.”

tion. Suspects and a motive were unknown. Nov. 30: Two men broke into Sage Hall and CPM between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. According to Public Safety, the two men stole a computer monitor and a laptop. Dec. 1: A man was fatally shot in the head in East Oakland. According to Mercury News, this is the 84th homicide of the year in Oakland. Dec. 5: At 10:30 am, a purse was stolen from an unlocked office in NSB.



Arts & Entertainment

Mill’s backyard: Laurel Book Store

Gardening club host to slew of crafts Francesca Twohy-Haines



A recent event brought together Mills students and the Laurel Book Store, owned by Luan Strauss.

Freddy Gutierrez Contributing Writer Luan Stauss is the Laurel District’s friendly neighborhood bookseller. Upbeat and spunky, she’s been in the business since 2001. “We built the damn shelves ourselves,” Stauss said of her shop, the Laurel Book Store. The Laurel Book Store is located at the corner of 39th Ave. and MacArthur Blvd. in the Laurel Business district. From the outside, the store has a quaint look, its front door bookended by two protruding display windows. From the outside passersby can see stands of greeting cards to the left, with current bestsellers displayed on the right. The inside of the store looks like many small bookstores: wall-towall shelves filled with a variety of books. Stauss lives in the neighborhood, as do many of her regular clients. Stauss said that the Laurel Book Store is definitely a community bookstore and that many neighbors have contributed to her business, even before they put the shelves in. She said that support for the idea of a local bookstore has always come from neighbors. "I had the idea for a book store and before I had voiced it, neighbors from the Laurel Village Association had said that they wanted a local bookstore," she said. "So I got really inspired." The Laurel Village Association is an all-volunteer neighborhood organization that seeks to improve the life of residents in the Laurel District neighborhood of Oakland. “The people who work here keep me coming back,” said Dyn Burgess, a local customer with a fixation on vampire-related and supernatural books, who has a personal frequent buyer account at Stauss's shop. Burgess said she's purchased over 200 titles since opening her frequent buyer account in 2005 and tries to visit the store at least once

a week. She was wearing a lanyard that read “I (heart symbol) VAMPIRES,” and the three novels she purchased all bore vampire characters on the covers. But customers like Burgess are few and far between, according to Stauss. It’s been a difficult year for the shop financially, and she said she's noticed a decrease in foot traffic since the big discount grocery store moved in across the street, replacing the smaller Lucky's that was there before. Stauss said that the bookstore used to receive quite a bit of spillover from Lucky’s, but the flow of customers has since declined. Stauss also said she’s noticed quite a few empty stores in the neighborhood. Twice a week the store places orders for books that aren't in stock and even offers e-books through its website. Given the proximity to the Mills campus, one might expect Mills students, at least those in the English department, to shop regularly at the bookstore. “I wish we could get more Mills customers. But I know it’s daunting and nerve wracking to be on the boulevard,” Stauss said. Stauss said that a few years back, professors from Mills would take groups of students on walking tours through the Laurel business district. She said it offered the store greater visibility for students. But there is one professor who has managed to build and maintain a reciprocal relationship with the Laurel. For the last seven or eight years, Mills English professor Micheline Marcom has been a link between the English department and the Laurel Book Store. The relationship is important to Marcom because she says that bookstores are the backbone of writing. And when a patron buys from a local bookstore they support that business directly, just as when one buys a given writer’s book, they’re supporting that writer directly. The relationship has manifested

several readings featuring Mills students at the store as well as a reading at Mills, in the Mills Hall living room. The most recent reading occurred on Wednesday Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. Students from Marcom’s graduate prose classes read at the bookstore. “I bring in my writers and Luan supports that. It’s meaningful for students because they get the experience of reading in a bookstore," Marcom said. "I bring undergrad and grads together so they get that experience too.” Stauss addressed the crowd of students, speaking on the importance of patronizing local bookstores. “Otherwise you won’t have a place to put your book," Stauss said. "If you just want to publish your book online, that’s fine… let Amazon do a reading for you.” Marcom’s students read from sections of their prose. Family proved to be the most prominent subject; other stories included a tale about a “small” 6 ft. tall boy lumberjack named Axe, the perceived annoyance of the Campanil clock tower bells, and a narrative written as a litany for the dead. Students leaned in whenever a peer read and applauded wholeheartedly when the individual readings would end. The students seemed to be supportive and eager about the reading. “It’s great to be here and support the neighborhood bookstore,” said Perla Melendez, a Mills graduate book arts student. “This is a great way to end the semester in a formal setting.” When the reading was over the students assisted in moving the shelves back into place and a few even purchased books on their way out. Mills students receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases. The Lauren Book Store's website is http://www.laurelbookstore. com. Information on the bookstore can also be found on Facebook; follow the shop via Twitter @LaurelBookStore.

The Mills College Garden Club provides students with an opportunity to connect with the botanical garden on campus. According to Ann Prentiss, the Mills Garden Club adviser and garden coordinator, there are seven different sections of the garden, each with its own set of club members that tend to their part of the garden. The sections are themed and include edibles, Native American women’s healing, cactus and succulents, native California meadows, and propagation, and the groups meet at various times throughout the week. “I want to make it convenient for students to work in the garden whenever I’m here,” Prentiss said, adding that she is currently working out the hours she will be in the garden. Every morning, Prentiss sends members emails, which she calls Garden Notes, containing garden trivia and recounting what happened in the garden the day before, as well plans for the day and her availability. The Garden Club recently participated in the Mills College Holiday Craft Fair, selling handmade soaps, teas, and sachets, which were made by members of the club as well as those outside of the club, according to Prentiss. Sophomore Joss Ferguson was one of the members who participated in the craft making. "It takes a lot of work to grind and pick the plants correctly, but that made it even more satisfying," Ferguson said. "Also, your hands smell like hummingbird sage or lavender the rest of the day." Prentiss hopes to hold events including lunches in the garden with music performed by Mills

Top: Soaps made Bottom: Members

students, and art exhibits featuring student work. “The garden is a great place to build community,” Prentiss said. “There is just something really magical about a garden that unites people.” Prentiss also hopes to be able to allow students to work in the garden even when she is not present. “I do not like to have restrictions on myself, and I do not want to put them on other people,” she said. Prentiss emphasizes that there is no commitment when you join the Garden Club; students are welcome to come by the garden whenever it fits their schedule, for any length of time. “School is very demanding, and the students’ studies have to come first,” Prentiss said. “I do not want them to feel like this is another obligation they have, I want to be a respite for them.” Ferguson, who signed up for the women's healing and native plants sections, joined the club after participating in some of the events put on by Prentiss. "I joined because it was soothing to be surrounded by plants and have all of your attention going into helping something grow," Ferguson said. Students can become involved in the club by sending an email to Prentiss. “My whole goal is to just get people in the garden,” Prentiss said.


by members of the gardening club. make sachets out of dried plants.

Arts & Entertainment 12.10.13 5 Student wows at Poetry Slam Club’s event Amanda Edwards Contributing Writer Victoria Kupu, a Mills College junior from San Francisco earning a double major in English Literature and PLEA with an emphasis in economics took home the first place prize at the first Mills College Poetry Slam held on Nov. 21. Initially there was a three-way tie between Gabriella Michel, Venus Jones, and Kupu. Kupu broke the tie with her piece "Roots" when audience members voted by putting up numbers with their hands to rate the contestant's poetry. Amanda Meth, president of the Poetry Slam Club, said she was blown away by Kupu's performance at the Poetry Slam. She noted that Kupu first seemed very reserved, and when her brilliance came out at the event it was refreshing. "The first time I saw Kupu perform at the Poetry Slam [club] it proved that sometimes people need an outlet to perform and show their brilliance," Meth said. "Her poetry was brilliant. She is amazing. It was descriptive, deep, and devastatingly beautiful." Junior English major Lauren Thiemann attended the event and said she was amazed by the impact that Kupu's spoken word had on the audience. "Victoria did a really good job making

everybody want to listen to her," Thiemann said. "She made such a big impact at the poetry slam." Kupu said she wrote poetry when she was younger, becoming involved in spoken word in her sophomore year of high school. "Spoken word is different than poetry because poetry is more of a formal writing, and spoken word must be spoken," Kupu said. "It's hard to read spoken word. It's better heard. That's my own personal definition." Kupu. Kupu said she is influenced by Oveous Maximus, a spoken word artist from New York who has won the Apollo, a nationwide talent show based in New York so many times that he was asked to stop competing. Kupu also said that she began writing poetry because of her grandfather. "My grandfather wrote poetry and I was inspired by his talent," she said. "He was the main reason I started writing." In fifth grade Kupu wrote a poem about herself that won her a poetry competition and was published. Kupu's winning poem was an "I am" poem exploring her cultural background and what represented it, such as traditional Polynesian clothing. "Poetry was helping me with struggling with the complexity of social justice," Kupu said. "I used it as a tool [when] I was doing community work." Since coming to Mills Kupu has been involved in poetry competitions such as the

Oakland's Youth Poet Laureate competition. Last year she was the second runner up and this year she was one of the judges. The Youth Poet Laureate represents their city and is determined by vote. At the Mills College Poetry Slam, Kupu performed two poems. One was an untitled poem about unspoken heroes and those who have different abilities that Kupu said is her favorite of her poems. The second poem she read was her winning piece "Roots." "'Roots' is about my general experience being a first-generation American," Kupu said. "My parents are from the Polynesian Islands. It's also about my intensity, staying connected to my ancestral culture and how I assimilated to the American culture." Kupu said that after she graduates, she does not plan to pursue poetry as a career, but does plan to continue writing and performing. COURTESY OF VICTORIA KUPU "I want to use poetry as a tool to speak Victoria Kupu performs at the Poetry Slam. to many communities," Kupu said. "I plan to continue writing it for the rest of my life." looking for my people." The Poetry Slam is a new event put on by Meth is very excited about what the the Poetry Slam Club, which was created by new Poetry Slam Club will bring to the Meth this year. Meth said she wanted to high- Mills community. light the poetry scene at Mills. “The Poetry Slam Club aims to bring a "I didn't think that there were enough sense of vibrancy to the Mills community poetry-centered events on campus so I took and highlight the talent that exists on camadvantage of how easy it is to start a club pus," Meth said. "It brings the poets out of on campus," Meth said. " I also wanted to the poems." find the poetry community at Mills. I knew The club meets twice a month in the there were a lot of poets on campus and I was Bender Room in Carnegie Hall.

Stern graffiti tradition remains immutable


For Mills students, covering the stalls of the Lucie Stern bathroom with notes on various topics has become a tradition that no one wants to give up.

Alexina Estrada Contributing Writer Orange, blue and pink marker pop out from the thin letters and sketches. Conversations, rants and quotes are scribbled all together. Games of tic-tack-toe and doodles of cats sprawl between the disparate messages. No, this isn't the journal or notebook of an art major. This is the Lucie Stern bathroom. The walls are a compilation of various handwriting and personalities. Although the walls and doors have been painted over more than once, the scribbles have reappeared continuously. The bathroom is known to always have messages and doodles that accumulate throughout the year. For as long as anyone can remember, it has always been the bathroom with an outstanding amount of graffiti. It's become a tradition that whenever the stalls are painted over, students come back and write all over them again. "It's definitely the number one graffiti site [on campus]," said Linda Zitzner, Associate Vice President of Operations. Both inappropriate and inspirational quotes are written throughout the three stalls. Students have proclaimed their

love for Mills College while others have expressed their contempt for their classes and organizations. Or they are just trying to be funny. For example, one note reads: "sometimes I'm nervous someone will hear me using the rest room, or recognize me by my shoes. I don't know why. Everyone does this." And another: “Things I Hate: 1. Lists 2. Irony 3. Vandalism.” According to Zitzner, it is routine to touch up the graffiti with paint at the beginning of every fall term and, if enough graffiti has accumulated, even paint over it at the beginning of Spring, too. But despite this constant maintenance, students do not want to give up the tradition. Sarah Weir, a first year, said that she wishes the bathroom wasn't painted over so she could see all the graffiti of the past together. “But then after a while there wouldn’t be anywhere else to write," she lamented. "It gives freshwomen a chance to see one quote and then they write something.” Weir said that the bathroom stalls and walls are a place that people can go to write about how they are feeling, and get responses from people, and to start something. “I wrote that class is a challenge and I love it and hate it at the same time,” said a Mills first year student, who wished to remain anonymous. She wrote a message about her classes

making her depressed, happy, and anxious. The message was later responded to by someone who said they felt the same way, and reminded the student to take a deep breath. “Take a deep breath is . . . not going to help me with anything,” the student said. “But it was still sweet.” On the opposite ends of the spectrum, the bathroom tagging is argued to be either tradition or vandalism. To many Mills students the messages have become a part of the bathroom and it has become routine to look at the scribbles and anonymous messages. If you walk into the third stall, the first message you might see reads: "You are all fabulous :)" in brown ink. But once inside, the messages become angrier and more upsetting. Junior Taylor Warmack said she thinks some of the messages are offensive. "Bathroom walls are not the place to vent about issues you are having with your school or life," she said. "Write a letter to somebody or do nothing at all, don't vandalize the girls bathroom." Besides the conflicting feelings of the messages and doodles, they reappear every time the bathroom is painted over. With every fresh coat of paint, new conversations, feelings, and ink will find their way onto the wall. As Zitzner put it,"It seems to be tradition."




The Campanil’s managing Q U E S T I O N O F T H E W E E K editor bids us farewell I took my first journalism class last semester — spring of 2013 — signing up for Sarah Pollock’s Journalism II just a couple of days before the start of the semester. While I’d been a consumer of news for a number of years, tuning in in a serious way to the events unfolding in the world, the idea of getting involved in (student) journalism hadn’t been in my mind. I was busy writing fiction and essays. But news writing, along with creative and academic writing, involves curiosity and is built of language — and I love the word. I joined The Campanil as a copy editor and soon became enmeshed in the work of producing news for the Mills community, a task that presents many challenges and some rewards. By the end of the semester I had become managing editor, and this fall expanded my work with our small staff of passionate, dynamic and supportive women. The role was not one I had envisioned when I transferred into Mills as a sophomore, but has been one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had — not just in college but in life. Involving myself in unexpected areas and pushing through doubt and discomfort, I have learned to trust my voice, both in being part of a team and in being a writer and editor. When I blow off my instinct I find I almost always regret it. In the newsroom we have in-depth and lively debates on issues that arise in the campus consciousness, slam onto the world stage, and come into play in the realm of journalism. Conversations about gender and the identity of Mills as a women’s college have been huge this

year, as has the shifting balance between online and paper content. Maintaining a positive relationship with What is the worst gift you ever received? our readers is also a continual challenge as we work to cover topics of interest with a keen eye and journalistic integrity. Sometimes we make rookie blunders; occasionally a source will misunderstand our rights as journalists. But I have noticed that our most exacting critics seem often to be our most ardent and supportive readers, and the work of reporting the news “One time, I was in this — keeping our ears and eyes out for stories, white elephant. At the end considering the stakeholders, seeking multiple of that, I got someone’s old points of view, providing context and useful Beanie Baby.” information, striving to write with clarity and — Chelsea Carminito, junior vibrancy — is both essential to democracy, and fun as hell. All we can do is try our best, and the collaborative nature of this business demands that we show up not only for ourselves but also for one another. We look thoroughly at one another’s work, help each other to improve it, and hold to our ideals. And even though I wasn’t able to launch all of the projects I had originally envi“Probably a butterknife.” sioned (a “how to be an ally” advice column; a — Risa Gearhart, sophomore school-wide comprehensive calendar), we still achieved work that I am proud of. The laughter and solidarity that regularly fill The Campanil’s newsroom is one reward of throwing your time and effort into a team. The satisfaction and respect that comes from knowing that you tried, that you pushed to your fullest capacity, is even better. Chorel R. Centers is graduating with a BA in “My aunt decided that I was Creative Writing. She will be dearly missed! an artist or something and sent me a sketchbook and a piece of graphite shaped like a shell that covered your hand in pencil crap.” —Amy Fowler, junior

“An onion wrapped in brown paper.” — Kay Singh, sophomore

“When I was 10, my dad got me a Spiderman scooter and the weight limit was too low, and I don’t like Spiderman.”


— Eileen Sochia, first year




Ari Nussbaum

Melodie Miu

Who do these so-called “lifeguards” think they are to be giving you rules? At the POOL? What are they so afraid of anyway? A swimmer getting a concussion or cracked skull as the result of slipping and smacking their cranium on the pool deck? Drowning? Pfffftttt. Please. You know how to take care of yourself, okay? Just because they think something horrible might happen if people don’t take precautions, you’re actually the special one. Nothing bad will ever, ever, ever happen to you because you’re way too smart for this place. Everyone else is just dumb, especially the lifeguards. They’re really just a pair of overpaid, whistle-blowing red trunks who sit around at the pool facility to make it look like

the management there is doing their job. Give me a break, am I right? 1. Let’s talk about cleanliness. Ugh! If you find a clump of hair floating in the pool, don’t bother throwing it away or putting it down on the deck so they can clean it up later. Instead, insist that the lifeguard take the ball of hair from you. Same goes for wet, soggy, used band-aids. Lifeguards are also janitors, obvi. It’s also a total waste of time to get out of the pool just to blow your nose on a tissue. Just blow that schnoz right into the deep end. Seriously, it’s kind of cool how it floats underwater like a slimy amoeba having its first swimming lesson. 2. When the pool is closing, no need to leave the hot tub right away. Linger as long as possible until the lifeguard comes over to tell you that it is closing time. Declare that you have a pinched nerve and you REALLY need to wade in the warm water. You should even bring in a doctor’s note to strengthen your point, even though you can just fill up your own tub with hot water.

Explain how long your workday was and how difficult you have it — let your voice take on a nice high whine — so can they please just give you a few minutes to relax, you’re really not asking a lot, honestly, God. It’s not like they’d understand what it’s like to work hard. 3. Ignore the sign that says “Don’t run on pool deck.” The lifeguard clearly doesn’t understand how cold it is on the pool deck and that you absolutely need to get back into the water as soon as possible. Don’t they want you to enjoy yourself? You can’t stay vigilant about your safety 247! These pool jockeys don’t seem to get that walking is super boring. Besides, if you ever slipped, it’s really their fault for not catching you in time. 4. You can also ignore the sign telling you not to dive head-first into the shallow end. It’s obviously for people who don’t have your diving expertise. You watched the Olympic diving team last season, so you totally know what you’re doing. 5. Don’t put the kick-boards and fins away when you’re done using them. It gives the lifeguard something to do. Having to fish out kick-boards from the gutter is their absolute favorite pastime, I promise. All they’re doing anyway is rubbing sunblock on their noses and flexing at passing babes from that high chair. 6. Leave small children on the pool deck. A lifeguard is basically a babysitter. The word “lifeguard” is short for “lifetime guardian,” you see. Their primary concern is making sure you’re free to do your laps while they take care of our own kids for us. They don’t need to be watchful of other people at the pool or have to worry about ADULTS being in danger of drowning or anything. 7. Start humping and making out with your

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Humor Columnist

Education Bachelor of Arts in Underwater Basket Weaving magna cum laude, expected May 2014 Mills College, Oakland, CA Minor: Anthropology Experience Proficiency in Gossip Girl, seasons 1-3 • Monitored Jenny’s social ascension and subsequent downward spiral, all the while admiring her impeccable taste in clothing. • Assessed the various hotness of all the characters. Came to the conclusion that Chuck Bass is the most physically attractive, although arguably most morally repulsive. • Performed numerous tests on who was Gossip Girl. The different tests observed the behaviors of Serena van der Woodsen, Dan Humphrey, and Blair Waldorf and their relation to information divulged online. Stealing from Founder’s Commons • Prepared PB&Js and stealthily hid in backpack when employees had their back turned. • Gained experience in taking more than one banana off the premises. • Frequently stolen items included: bowls, mugs, and various utensils. Eating hot Cheetohs • Computed change for five dollar bills. • Overhauled vending machine’s unwillingness to hand over desired goods by using end of broom to reach stuck food items. • Mastered ability to eat Hot Cheetohs by damaging taste buds so that spicy receptors no longer work. Climbing hills • Set goals to minimize driving to class. • Motivated body to climb up and down multiple hills on a daily basis. • Strengthened calves and thighs. Skills Retweeting Mindy Kahling, sending mildly inappropriate Snapchats during class, choosing between the “X-Pro II” or “Earlybird” filter on Instagram; some experience with Vine.


significant other in the water. I mean, c’mon. You’re both half-naked... in swimsuits with sexy goggles over your faces... paddling around in what is basically a warm blue broth of chlorine and pee. That’s HOT. It’s not like young children can see that you’re both sloppily groping each other underwater. It’s been scientifically proven that the second best place to get it on (outside the bedroom) is getting pressed up against the pool step ladder while tongue-wrestling. It’s like sex at the beach but without the sand getting in the way. In this case, the lifeguard is the combination of sand in your hair, jellyfish stings, and bad sunburns who’ll blow a literal whistle at you for making love. Lifeguards are incapable of LOVE, everybody! 8. Flirt with the cute ones. Sometimes there’s a hottie working at the pool. Never mind that they can’t get distracted and they have a job to do. You should be able to live out your Baywatch fantasies no matter what. Continually block their view of the other swimmers (can’t get competition, you know what I mean?) so you can comment on their hot bod and talk about which fancy restaurant you want to bring them to. You should follow them everywhere, even into the employees-only break room, because you’re a customer and you have the right to do that. It says so in the Constitution, sweetheart. 9. Lifeguards definitely can’t tell if you’re peeing in the water. This also includes farting, which can be stealthily hidden under the bubbles of the jacuzzi. You don’t even need to hide the fact that you’re making very obvious body movements indicating that you’re passing gas. Your bathroom experience will improve dramatically if you look at the lifeguard’s face while letting it all out. Try it, look straight into their eyes as it happens. Make their day.

letter to the editor

Community member responds to Fart Ass vandal’s “confession” I was recently on campus for business, and picked up the 11.19.13 edition of The Campanil. As an older citizen who knew someone who attended Mills back in the late 60’s, I will say that there certainly are a lot of changes to see in the campus and its culture. One thing that was disappointing was the “Confession of a Mills Vandal”, which proudly described their defacement of art work on campus. Maybe it was an argument in favor of 1st Amendment rights, but I found it childish. To include ‘potty talk’, which I might expect from my grandkids, to rationalize their action, is degrading for all whom are aware of the situation. It is unfortunate that an institution which prides itself on ‘education based on social justice’ would spawn such a juvenile article, even if it calls itself a ‘humor’ piece. As someone who appreciates the Bill of Rights, I found the editorial about infringement of their freedom-of-speech rights interesting. How is it that an over-exercise of “PC” could cause students to be afraid of speaking out? Might it be that being “PC” is more important than someone’s rights? How could something with so much emphasis on not offending some (PC) infringe on those rights? Wow, is liberal thought gone amuck? As a liberal who has turned conservative with age, that is exactly what seems to have happened. Sincerely, Tom McDougall



Sports & Health

Mills Cyclones swim around obstacles ALL PHOTOS BY JEN MAC RAMOS

On Nov. 22-24, the Mills College Cylones swam in their first away meet of the season where many members of the team recorded personal best times.

Jen Mac Ramos On a clear and sunny weekend just before Thanksgiving, the Mills Cyclones took part in a swim meet at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). The team acknowledged that they were distracted for the first two days of the meet — the bus broke down and one member of the team suffered a health problem that required the paramedics. But they managed to overcome these adversities on the final day. “There was a lot going on,” coach Neil Virtue said of the first two days of the meet. “Lots of distractions. It was hard to know in the moment how they swam.”

But he added, “To me, on that third day, I finally felt like it was a meet.” Out of eight swimmers, four swimmers made the top 10 personal best times at Mills College: Dani Sherman, Gaby Amberchan, Amelia True, and Casey Henggeler. “I thought the swims were very good,” Virtue said. “There were a lot of significant personal best times.” The drops in times ranged from three seconds to over one minute. “I’m coming off an injury,” Henggeler said. “Being able to hold the times I had is exciting for me.” Sherman said that for the most part the meet went well. “We had a few complications throughout the meet as a

team but I was still able to pull out two personal best times in my 400 [individual medley] and the 1650 [freestyle],” Sherman said in an email. Amberchan agreed that the meet went well, for herself and for the team as a whole. She noted that this was the team’s first away meet of the season and that it was a good chance for first-year swimmers to experience a meet outside of Mills — especially in dealing with a change in the quality of the pools. “The pool tasted horrible,” Amberchan said. “Everyone kept going up to Neil, saying, ‘Neil, the water tastes awful.’” At the end of the pool used for races, there’s a bulkhead, which is a detachable wall used to divide the

pool into smaller sections. Amberchan said that everyone had to adjust to the bulkhead as well as to the shallower level of the pool. “It took some adjustments for the swimmers because of the water,” Virtue said. But for Amberchan, she managed to beat her personal times. She dropped 26 seconds off her mile time, she said. Vivian Earons, a junior, said that though the meet was a little hectic, it ended up being a good one. “Of my three races, I had personal best times in two of them with pretty significant time drops,” Earons said. “Having been injured at the start of our season and still coming back from that injury, it makes those time drops feel really significant to my personal growth

this season.” Earons didn’t expect to drop time in her personal bests. “I try to go into swim meets with the goal of swimming my best and staying within my average time bracket from our practices,” Earons said. Sherman said that this meet showed how well the team gets along and how they can pull together regardless of circumstances. “Literally everyone had best times or top 10 times [in] this meet and I think that says a lot about our team as a whole,” Sherman said. “For me personally, it just prepared me even more for our championship meet because if I could do that well even with the complications, imagine what I can do at championships.”

Top left: Casey Henggeler dives in to the pool for her leg of the relay as Cahaela Class and Mara Harwood look on. Bottom left: Dani Sherman stands on the diving block as Christine Mumm stands to her left. Right: Ruby Rodriguez swims in one of her races.

Fall 2013 Issue 7  
Fall 2013 Issue 7  

Fall 2013 Issue 7 of The Campanil.