Page 1

TUFTS OBSERVER May 2, 2011

O

volume cxxIi / issue 6

inside the The last interview DFW overshadows   with Bacow The Pale King (page 2)

(page 5)

Drip drip: Jumbo Leaks (page 6)


featured articles

louise blavet

2

feature

Final thoughts for the Observer Avery Matera suzi grossman

news

Yale’s poor handling of sexual harassment on campus

8

natasha jessen-peterson

opinions

College ACB reveals painful truths about Tufts students

cc

off campus

24

The best wildertreks you didn’t know existed

10

louise Blavet

poetry & prose

Do you wanna play with me, Chaz?

The Observer has been Tufts’ publication of record since 1895. Our dedication to in-depth reporting, journalistic innovation, and honest dialogue has remained intact for over a century. Today, we offer insightful news analysis, cogent and diverse opinion pieces, creative writing, and lively reviews of current arts, entertainment, and culture. Through poignant writing and artistic elegance, we aim to entertain, inform, and above all challenge the Tufts community to effect positive change.

26

O


O Editors

Contents

May 2, 2011 Volume CXXII, Issue 6 Tufts Observer, Since 1895 Tufts’ Student Magazine www.TuftsObserver.org

editor-in-chief Joshua Aschheim managing editor Katie Boland

production director Avery Matera production designer David Schwartz art director Alyce Currier

photography director Louise Blavet section editors Eric Archibald Micah Hauser Eliza Mills Cara Paley Caitlin Schwartz Ariana Siegel Ryan Stolp Megan Wasson

associate section editors Anna Burgess Kyle Carnes lead copy editor Isobel Redelmeier lead artist Ruth Tam web editor Charlotte Burger new media editor Samantha Carle business manager Jason Clain staff writers Melis Aker Neil Aronson Sabrina Ghaus Daniel Heller Gideon Jacobs Alison Lisnow Shir Livne Ellen Mayer Molly Mirhashem Nicola Pardy Luke Pyenson Shayna Schor Evan Tarantina

2 feature President Bacow: The Last Interview, by Cara Paley and Ariana Siegel & culture 5 arts Digging up David Foster Wallace, by Mike Goetzman 6 news Jumbo Leaks, by Molly Mirhashem 8 news Misbehavin’ in New Haven, by Alex Kaufman 9 news Wanted: Tufts Senators, by Ruth Tam 10 opinions You, Me, and ACB, by Cory Faragon 12 culture No It’s Not Pot and This is Not a Pipe, by Ryan Stolp inset 13 photo Nevruz Celebration & chuck 17 petey May the Fling be with You, by Ryan Stolp beans 18 spilt The Bathroom Reviewer: If You Gotta Pish While in Tisch, by Daniel Heller and Alison Lisnow 20 tufts Tufts Students’ Reading Week Survival Guide, by Anna Burgess 21 tufts Checking the Facts, by Kyle Carnes 22 opinions Game On, by John Mazzoli 23 interview Bob Woodward, by Katie Boland campus 24 off Take a Walk on the Wild Side, by Eliza Mills & prose 26 poetry 1-900, by Gideon Jacobs & prose 27 poetry The Thorn, by Anika Ades 28 campus Police Blotter, by Ryan Stolp 28 humor bunchofguys, by Alyce and Malcolm Correction: In last week’s issue, the Observer mistakenly misspelled Emma Shakarshy

staff artists Suzi Grossman Natasha Jessen-Peterson Becky Plante staff photographer Amy Shipp editor emeritus Kathryn Christiansen

Contributors Anika Ades Cory Faragon Mike Goetzman Alex Kaufman

John Mazzoli Clinton Steeds

Cover by Louise Blavet

Since

1895


PRESIDENT BACOW

National

the last interview

interviewed by ariana siegel & Cara paley Observer: What are your overall reflections on how the character of Tufts University has changed in the past 10 years? Larry Bacow: Tufts was a great place when I got here. I don’t think I’ve done too much damage—at least I’ve tried not to. There have been a couple of big changes. Perhaps the biggest is that we have doubled our investment in financial aid and as a result the student body has changed in ways that I think are healthy. It’s a more socio2

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011

economically diverse group of students. It’s a more geographically diverse group of students. There are a whole host of kids who are studying at Tufts today who we always would have wanted to admit, but who in the past could not necessarily have afforded to come. I’m really proud of that. I also think that we’ve been able to sharpen our focus a bit and more sharply articulate all that is special about Tufts, and as a result I think people have a stronger sense of who we are. I could be wrong, but my sense is that there’s great pride in the place.

O: What student initiatives have especially inspired or impressed you over the years? LB: Actually there is one in particular: Raphi Goldberg, who I believe was treasurer of the Senate a number of years back, advocated that we should have a funded public service internship. When we got the Omidyar gift, we did it. Whenever I see Raphi I like to remind him that [it] was his idea. It was a good one, and we actually made it happen. O: So how has this initiative impacted Tufts as a whole?


INTERVIEW LB: There are lots of kids who can afford to take the summer off and don’t have to work and can volunteer their time to do public service or can take the time to engage in activities that are not only helpful to others but educational to them, and help to build their resume going forward. Our neediest students can’t do that—they need to make money, and as we’ve made Tufts more economically diverse we’ve needed to address a set of challenges that go beyond just making sure that people can study at Tufts but to make sure that they can thrive at Tufts. O: You touched on how Tufts is working to promote financial equality. How do you feel about the current climate surrounding race, gender, and sexual identity on campus?

of the Academic Council, I think there were four women and one person of color. And today the deans of two of the seven schools are African American. Five of the seven deans are women. The provost is a person of color. O: Do you think Tufts has a drinking problem? With all the initiatives put in place to try to curtail drinking-related emergencies, have you seen progress? LB: I know of very few schools that don’t have drinking problems. It’s not a problem that I have solved, or that anybody else has solved for that matter. I think that there are cultural issues surrounding how we deal with alcohol, and I think anybody

lose sleep over that [decision]. I lost sleep over letting it go on. O: What do you see as the role of campus publications? Do you think there are issues concerning freedom of speech on campus? LB: We have a vibrant group of student journalists and campus publications. We’re the smallest campus that has a daily newspaper, and we have multiple periodicals that appear weekly or monthly. I think our campus publications reflect the campus, and that’s what they should do. I don’t think everybody’s always going to agree, but that’s what journalism is all about. Part of our job is to teach people how to engage with people who think differently and find the teachable moment. Sometimes it’s going to mean that some people’s feelings are going to be hurt. Sometimes it’s the president—people say nasty things about me. It comes with the territory. But I think, that, excepting truly egregious situations, that the appropriate response to speech is more speech, not less.

...what I’ve always appreciated about Tufts students is that they’re idealistic, they work hard, they’re very, very smart, and they don’t have an attitude.

LB: Race is one of the toughest issues to discuss anywhere in society; it’s not unique to Tufts. We’re a microcosm of a larger society that we live in, and I think these are the kinds of issues that we constantly need to work at. I think that our job is to prepare students for the world that they’re going to inhabit when they graduate from Tufts. I would tell you that even if I had a magic wand that I could wave over the place and make these issues go away. I think people need to learn how to deal with these issues because you’re all going to have to deal with them when you leave Tufts. So, at least that’s how I look at these issues. It’s a constant conversation. It never stops. O: To what degree have you felt a responsibility to get involved in improving the campus climate?

LB: I talk to students about these issues. When issues flare on campus, I try and find a teachable moment to engage people. We try and deal with it forthright. It’s interesting just looking at the differences in the 10 years that I’ve been here. One difference is that we have a black man as governor and a black man as president of the United States. Ten years ago that would have been unthinkable. When I came here, of the 24 members

who says that we’ve laid a glove on this problem is deceiving themselves. That said, I think that we’ve taken some steps to try and deal with specific circumstances. But I think all of us need to continue to think hard and creatively about how to address this issue. It’s far from solved, here or anywhere else. O: So how do you think that cancelling NQR will help move Tufts move forward in solving the ‘drinking problem? What was the motivating factor surrounding that decision? LB: Well, as I said in my viewpoint piece in the Daily, NQR is an event that was fueled by alcohol. Right? I mean most people will not shed their inhibitions, their clothes, in sub-freezing weather unless first fortified. We came so close to losing a couple of students this year. I’ve had the experience of sitting with parents who’ve lost a child to alcohol poisoning, and it’s not fun. We all work here because we love you guys and we want to keep you safe, and no tradition is worth sacrificing a life to preserve. I didn’t

O: Switching gears a bit, we’re wondering what’s motivating all the new construction on campus? What inspired the attention on a new fitness center and gym? LB: We listen to our students, actually. One of the things that’s been true since I got here was students saying that they needed more exercise space. That our facilities and athletics in many cases were inferior to what many students had in high school. More than one person has pointed out that the entrance to our athletics facilities is a loading dock. That will change. So this is long overdue. O: So, we’re juniors approaching our final year at Tufts and we’re wondering, how do you see the value of a Tufts degree changing with the changing economy? What do you feel that Tufts students have to offer that is unique in an increasingly competitive atmosphere? LB: I think that our reputation has grown. I think the value of the degree has grown as well. We’re a much more diverse place MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

3


INTERVIEW geographically, and this year California is the second largest state represented in the class. Displacing New York! For years we were a regional institution, largely focused in the Northeast, but that’s no longer true. And that enhances the value of your degree. I think Tufts students have always been competitive in the marketplace. You bring a lot to the university; we get incredibly talented students in at Tufts, and what I’ve always appreciated about Tufts students is that they’re idealistic, they work hard, they’re very, very smart, and they don’t have an attitude. People from Tufts are very down to earth. I think that’s immensely appealing, and I think that’s appreciated in the market.

O: How has college life changed since you were a student at MIT?

LB: We worried about things that you don’t fortunately have to worry about like getting drafted, and that tended to focus everybody’s attention quite sharply.

O: So let’s talk about the marathon. How has it impacted your connection to the Tufts community? LB: I’ve had as much fun with the Presidents Marathon Challenge as anything I’ve done since coming to Tufts. It’s given me a chance to get to know people in a setting where I think it’s much easier for them to communicate with me just as another person. When people come [here to talk], let’s face it, the office can be intimidating. If I go to a dinner with students I’m wearing a jacket and tie. But out there, after you run for a couple of hours with a person, you forget it’s the president. It’s just another sweaty runner. You talk about how cold it is, when the next water stop is coming, what hurts, so it breaks down all the barriers. O: Have you always loved to run? LB: Not always. I ran before I came to Tufts, but I did my first marathon in 1997. I was 47 when I ran my first marathon, so I probably got serious about running around 40. I did a few 15-mile races, 4

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011

half-marathons and things like that, then I decided I’d give the marathon a try. I’ve done five of them. O: If you could pick one, what would you say is your favorite spot on campus? LB: My favorite spot on campus would be…Well, this is hard. There are three places that come to mind. One is Gifford House because I don’t get to see it enough. It’s true; I travel a huge amount, so just being able to go home and put my feet up is nice. The second is the library roof. When Adele and I were thinking about coming to Tufts, I remember, we wandered out on the roof and Adele, who’s an urban planner, said, “This space has enormous potential.” Do

I would just hope that Anthony and Zoia just have as much fun as we’ve had.

sailing team. Or in the library, because I was pretty nerdy when I was in college. O: So, upon leaving, what do you hope your legacy will be at Tufts? LB: Well, I really don’t think in terms of legacies. Nobody accomplishes anything on their own. I’ve been fortunate to work with really fabulous people and none of that’s going to change. What I’m proud of that we’ve been able to do together: double our investment in financial aid. I’m proud that we made Tufts more accessible to students of all kinds. I’m proud that we’ve recruited and nurtured and supported a fabulous group of younger faculty at Tufts. I’m proud of the people that we’ve hired. I’m proud that we’ve been able to make some investments in the campus. But the most important things are not the buildings; it’s what goes on inside the buildings.

you remember what it was like before we renovated it? It was just a piece of concrete and some weedy grass! It’s such a special view, and now it’s a special place. And then one of my favorite spots on campus is right here. [He walks over to the window in his office.] These two birches: what I like about it is the copper birch, right there, is a beautiful tree. I just love sitting in front of the window and looking out at that tree. Any time of year—when it has leaves on it, when the leaves are changing, in the winter when it’s covered with snow. It’s almost perfectly symmetrical. Another favorite spot: if you wander down the steps between the library and Eaton, there’s a little garden there; it’s one of the more intimate spaces on campus. There’s a circular bench right there, and there are flowers and plantings. It’s not a path that many people walk down, but it’s one of my favorite spots.

O: If you could have one chance to re-do something, what would it be?

LB: Well that’s a really easy one. In September of 2008 I would’ve moved the entire Tufts endowment into bonds before the market crashed. I would’ve saved the university a lot of money if we had done that. But look, nobody bats a thousand. Sol Gittleman likes to say that if you bat 300, you’re in the Hall of Fame. I’ve made mistakes; we all make mistakes. O: Where are you headed after this? LB: I’m going back in the classroom; I want to teach. O: Any advice for your successor? LB: Presidents don’t give advice publically to their successors, but I would just hope that Anthony and Zoia just have as much fun as we’ve had.

O: If you were a student at Tufts today, where would you be spotted?

O: Before you go, final verdict: Dewick or Carmichael?

LB: I probably would be spotted at the sailing pavilion, because I used to be on the

LB: Dewick. I’m a vegetarian and I’ve always like the vegetarian offerings there.


digging up david foster wallace when the greatest american writer of your generation dies, becomes an abstraction, and leaves you to deal with life on your own by mike goetzman

W

ith some exceptions, killing yourself is a bad idea. This is particularly the case if you’re a writer. You run the risk of turning all your extant works into serial suicide notes. Or, worse yet, you might turn into some sort of icon. No one knew this better than David Foster Wallace. In his essay collection Consider the Lobster, he wrote, “to make someone an icon is to make him an abstraction, and abstractions are incapable of vital communication with living people.” He was right. If we hadn’t already made an icon of Wallace after his death, we sure got the job done over the past few months. Just about every reputable lefty blog and periodical eagerly anticipated the release of his incomplete novel The Pale King, offering up articles that read like belated addendum to the obituaries they published just three years ago. Together, the articles form a sort of melancholy procession: each one similar, a few exceptional, all coming quickly and with as much force as literati-oriented media can muster these days. So why, when the novel was published on April 15, was it received in such a hush? Pale King is currently ranked 79th on Amazon’s top sellers list, trailing behind the likes of Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Timothy Ferris’s The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman, both of which were released long before Wallace’s novel. Why the rampant, aching fanfare for such a muted reception? The answer is likely somewhere amid the morass of articles themselves, most of which, though pegged to the release of The Pale King, are more concerned with Wallace himself than the actual book. As they see it, any drama contained in the novel—a fractured pseudo-memoir about IRS agents combating the tedium of life—pales in comparison to the drama of its excruciating gestation and ultimate stillborn publication. The novel is too freighted with the tragic story of a writer-genius’s decline, his weaning off of the anti-depressant Nardil only to inevitably return to it, the resulting electro-shock therapy, the debilitating panic and his eventual suicide. It will be forever known as the book that killed him. So why aren’t we reading it? Because we’re still too busy reading into its author. Wallace, prescient in so many ways, warned against this overanalytical impulse, too. Reviewing a biography of Jorge Luis Borges in The New York Times Book Review in 2004, he assailed the standard biographical procedure of mining the lives of writers for clues to their work. Borges’s stories, he asserted, “so completely transcend their motive cause that the biographical facts become, in the deepest and most literal way, irrelevant.” We seemed to have missed his point, for nowhere was Wallace-mining showcased more explicitly than last month, when the University of Texas’s Ransom Center released their DFW archive to the public. Within hours, salivating

journalists, scholars, and PhDs were flying to Austin in droves to peruse his personal library and scrutinize the annotated entrails of his books, and maybe catch a glimpse of a few words circled in his pocket dictionary. Here’s one description from a popular literary small-press site called ThisRecording: “Sitting there, in the Harry Ransom Center, felt like a religious experience...I could not decide if I wanted to listen to my iPod or not as I didn’t want to taint his words, to change their meaning by mingling them with song lyrics. Many times, I had physical reactions to what I was reading. Goosebumps. Sweat. A heaviness in my legs.” We’d be printing “What Would Wallace Do” bumper-stickers if we weren’t so haunted by what we know he did. No doubt, the outpouring of articles and archival materials have marked the shift from attention on his work to his “biographical” self, which has quickly become indecipherable from the stuff of lore. In a beautifully written piece in the Guardian, Karen Green—Wallace’s wife—takes issue with this shift in focus: “What do you do when your husband’s autopsy report is on the Internet and is deemed a subject worthy of fucking literary criticism?” As she can attest, The Pale King is just a convenient excuse for this spate of second-wave eulogies—articles that are as much exercises in securing his legacy as the Greatest Mind of our Generation as they are the therapeutic paeans of a culture that now, more than ever, is realizing the value of his lost voice. In this light, which shines so brightly atop the spectral head of Wallace as to create a halo, readers don’t have the same motivation to read The Pale King that they had for reading Infinite Jest—a tome that, for all its structural impasses, imbues its reader with a connective compassion for all the oddballs partaking in Wallace’s most applied field of scrutiny: life. While we’re likely to find episodes akin to those of Infinite Jest in The Pale King, we know there is no redemption there, no communion. We’re scared of what we know we’ll find instead: too much ennui (it’s about boredom) and not enough closure—not even an ending. We likely are not reading The Pale King because we know the novel is and will be a failure. Not on an aesthetic or intellectual level, or even because it’s unfinished, but rather because it will inherently fall short of Wallace’s own criteria for good fiction, which, he said more than once, was to make us feel less alone. In this respect, the book never had a chance. It failed the moment Wallace ordered its mired contents neatly under the lambent glow of his desk light and went out onto his front porch for the last time. As the media response leading up to its release evidences, The Pale King is less a novel than a provocation. It rouses the unanswerable questions that have haunted his readers since his death: How continued on page 17

MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

5


campus

be ck y pla nt e

J

by molly mirhashem

ust months after WikiLeaks exploded across the international consciousness, Tufts students have taken up the trend. On April 2, a new student organization called Jumboleaks leaked a confidential list of Tufts’ investment holdings, which included various companies infamous for unethical practices, such as Goldman Sachs and the Monsanto Corporation, of “Food Inc.” fame. While the administration has pointed out that the list is outdated and that the university no longer holds any direct investments, it has otherwise given the incident little attention. The motivation for the leak? As the header on jumboleaks.org reads: “We believe Tufts can and should hold itself to higher standards of investment ethics, particularly considering our image as a leader in international affairs and global citizenship.”

6

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011


campus As should be expected, the leak quickly became controversial, and the group subsequently received media attention. In the weeks since the leak, Jumboleaks’ story has been picked up by several pieces in the Tufts Daily as well as the Huffington Post and Forbes, which mentioned groups attempting to jump on the WikiLeaks bandwagon. Jumboleaks believes that this media attention is overall positive for the group. “Even when I hear people bitching about Jumboleaks I’m happy!” Jumboleaks member Will Ramsdell said lightly. “At least they’re thinking about it; they’re reflecting on the issue.” At least for now, Ramsdell and other Jumboleaks members have the mindset that “no press is bad press.” This includes a “rogue” Twitter that an individual, unknown to the group, has been managing under the name “The Elephant Knows,” using it to network and represent Jumboleaks. When Jumboleaks first got their hands on the investment information, the first step was to figure out what to do with it. “At first, we were totally down to go the traditional journalism route,” said Ramsdell, “We brought the [document] to the Daily.” As it turned out, the Daily wasn’t inclined to publish the findings, but looking back, Jumboleaks isn’t displeased. “If they had printed it and that had been it, it would have been a lot less fantastic,” said Ramsdell, explaining that releasing the investments list on the Jumboleaks website was much more “explosive.” The leak has elicited various reactions across the university community. Some were intrigued, while others found it insignificant and negligible. Still other groups and individuals were taken aback by the way information release was handled. Given the nature of the incident, concerns arose about how the student/ administration relationship would suffer in regard to investments. The Advisory Committee for Shareholding Responsibility (ACSR), a student group given great power in regard to

Tufts’ investments, was especially concerned by Jumboleaks’ public release of university investment trends. “We work collaboratively with the administration towards responsible investment of Tufts’ endowment,” said Maggie Selvin, a representative of the group. “[It] undermines the work of our own organization, as our goal is to build a trusting relationship with the board in order to discuss these issues in an informed and mature way.” Initially, the members of the ACSR were completely shocked when they heard of the leak. Soon after, this shock was mixed with aggravation. “Essentially, we were frustrated with the irresponsible manner with which this outdated information was brought to light,” said Selvin. “While we wholeheartedly advocate conversation amongst the student body about investment responsibility, this was a counterproductive means of affecting real change. The leak represents the disconnect that exists between good ideas and effectively carrying them out. We don’t view the leaks as having a wholly negative effect, but it promotes the wrong kind of activism.” Ramsdell is adamant that these events shouldn’t negatively affect the relationship that students involved in investments have with the administration. He emphasized that Jumboleaks’ release of this document was an act performed by individuals, not an official Tufts group. Thus the ACSR, and any other similar efforts, shouldn’t worry about receiving the blame. Ramsdell and other Jumboleaks members have repeatedly highlighted the fact that the ACSR was in no way involved with the leak. The ACSR works closely with an oncampus group called STIR, or Students at Tufts for Investment Responsibility. “We want an ethical investment strategy that seeks to maximize financial returns and social good,” said Caroline Incledon, the president of STIR. “Money is a powerful tool, and where and how it is invested can speak volumes. Therefore, we support community investment, and investment in sustainable, socially-conscious com-

panies.” Incledon also added that student input in investment decisions is a key step towards upholding Tufts’ values when it comes to actual financial practices. Incledon believes the Tufts community has learned a lot from this experience. “[We] learned that investments can have a powerful social effect, and many were surprised that the university could have so recently held investments in companies like Monsanto, the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered seed, which were at odds with their ethical beliefs or that of the schools,” she said. “The leak spurred a lot of discussion.” The underlying issue of all this is transparency, and Jumboleaks, the ACSR, and STIR all have their opinions on it. Incledon believes that while the goal of transparency is valuable, there are different solutions to forging student involvement in Tufts’ finances. “If students on the ACSR are given the ability to vote proxies and make investment suggestions, there will be a student voice in investment decisions,” she said. She believes this may be the answer to the opacity that many associate with the university’s investments. Meanwhile, Selvin said that transparency is important, but companies will always have their profits at the forefront of their minds. If all corporations aren’t acting transparently, it may be unwise for Tufts to become transparent. Jumboleaks obviously finds transparency infinitely important, and the group is grounded upon the idea that students have a right to know where their school is investing money. But Jumboleaks can’t take this fight alone. One member of Jumboleaks, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, “Jumboleaks as an organization can’t achieve transparency by itself…There also has to be the next step towards activism. It isn’t up to us to create an outlet for that kind of activism, there has to be a grassroots movement of students who care. It’s up to them to take the next step.” In the words of Ramsdell, “Jumboleaks is just a catalyst, you know?”O

MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

7


National

Misbehavin’ in New Haven

P

by Alex Kaufman

m

ross

an

MAY 2, 2011

G

TUFTS OBSERVER

zi

8

Su

osters plastered across Tufts’ campus bear the slogan: “Consent: It’s never too late to get it or take it away.” But at Yale this year, fraternity brothers wandered around chanting crudely, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” When preventative measures against sexual harassment fail, how should a campus respond? On Yale’s prestigious college campus, incidents of sexual harassment apparently occur on an annual basis. In 2008 some of Yale’s fraternity brothers took photos next to the Women’s Center, while holding a poster that said, “We Love Yale Sluts.” The next year, emails were sent out rating the “hotness” of Yale’s female freshmen, judged by the number of drinks male students would need to have sex with them. This academic year the “We Love Yale Sluts” slogan turned into a raunchy chant, sung by fraternity pledges parading through Yale’s residential center. An anonymous female student at Yale spoke about these chants. “They occurred right outside my dorm, near the Women’s Center,” she said. “I didn’t quite hear what they were saying, but I knew that it probably part of a fraternity’s initiation and that it was done to embarrass the pledges.” There are students who feel as though the administration hasn’t appropriately responded to the misogynistic acts that have inflicted the Ivy League. To some, this incident speaks to a deeper culture of sexual harassment and abuse on campus, too often overlooked by the Yale administration. Back in 2004, an independent watchdog organization called Security on Campus, Inc. accused Yale of underreporting instances of sexual assault and rape on campus. They found that officials reported less than half of the cases of rape and as-

sault to federal officials, thus remaining below the Ivy League average. Security on Campus was one of the first to criticize Yale’s handling of harassment cases. Their complaints reached the ears of the federal government, which this year decided to reduce the amount of endowment funds granted to the university. Additionally, 16 current Yale students and alumni brought a Title IX case to court, calling attention to the Yale administration’s negligence. Initially, the plaintiffs brought the Title IX case to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, claiming that Yale has created a “hostile environment” toward women. Isabel Hirsch, a member of Tufts’ Voices for Change (VOX), reinforces the severity of these allegations and the need for proactive response. “While VOX doesn’t specifically focus on sexual harassment, we do encourage and promote healthy sexual choices, which include safe sex practices and consent,” she said. “Because it can be so hard for people to come forward in cases of sexual harassment or assault, any allegations should be taken very seriously.” Hirsch highlights the willingness of victims to bring their experiences to light.

“If so many people are coming forward, there have to be more cases in which the people have not come forward,” she continues. “I admire the students for taking the recent misogynist incidents at Yale as a jumping off point to create change at their university.” Others, however, feel that the university is doing more than enough. The same Yale student says that a number of school officials sent out emails ensuring their concern of these instances of sexual harassment. She also stated, “This can occur anywhere. Not just Yale.” Indeed, Yale is not alone in experiencing problems of sexual harassment. Statistics speak to often-overlooked trends of sexual mistreatment that blight the records of colleges nationwide. According to a 2005 report by the National Institute of Justice, “just under 3 percent of all college women become victims of rape (either completed or attempted) in a given 9-month academic year.” When projected over a now typical 5-year college career, one in five young women experiences rape during college. Sexual assault cases have been brought at many universities, including UVA, Duke, and Princeton. In 1990, Congress passed the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act, stating that schools are obligated to report information about sexual crime on campus annually, and in 1992 passed an amendment called the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, stipulating that schools must develop prevention policies and provide certain assurances to victims. But in light of the fact that sexual assault continues to affect large numbers of women on college campuses, and in light of the fact that Ivy-league universities turn a blind eye, the question remains: how can we change a college culture that accepts sexual assault? O


campus

Wanted: TCU SENATORS ” “ When an entire Senate walks on, how can we really call that ‘democracy’? by Ruth Tam

A

round this time last year, hopefuls for Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate were in the heat of their elections. This year, students hoping to gain spots on TCU Senate are considerably less stressed. In what TCU Senate Parliamentarian Dan Pasternack, a senior, called “an unprecedented situation,” 17 candidates stepped up for 21 open seats, allowing each candidate to walk on Senate without the usual election. Both senators and members of the TCU Elections Commission (ECOM) have expressed disappointment in the lack of turnout, but both groups have differing opinions of its cause. “[ECOM] definitely could have done a better job advertising the regular Senate seats,” TCU Senate President Sam Wallis said. “I also think they could do a better job of maintaining regularity between meetings, candidate forums and elections. For example, it would be very helpful to know that every year, on a certain date, is the candidate’s forum.” According to ECOM’s head of public relations, junior Joel Greenberg, ECOM followed the standard advertising procedure with posters and TuftsLife announcements. But sophomore Alec Howard, ECOM’s treasurer, admitted that the group was unable to advertise in the Tufts Daily because of budgeting issues. Attributing ECOM’s current deficit to the

unanticipated cost of VoteNet, an online election service, Howard said the rising number of special elections has hindered ECOM this year. “We’re always trying to experiment with new ways to advertise to students,” Howard said. “Specifically with the last election, we were struggling especially with paid advertisements.” Howard expressed frustration on behalf of ECOM. “We were definitely disappointed at the last candidates meeting. It’s our job is to encourage the student body to be excited about elections and student government.” In the weeks since the news broke about the no-contest election, it has been difficult for some students to accept next year’s senators. “Oftentimes when Senate makes controversial decisions or discusses controversial matters they feel empowered by the idea they are speaking for the entire student body,” sophomore Alexandra LisPerlis said. “But when an entire Senate walks on, how can we really call that ‘democracy’?” Sophomore Nick Vik, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate last fall, agreed. “The problem is that many students either don’t care enough to try to change

things, or don’t feel as if their voices are being heard,” Vik said. “If students already feel as if their interests are not being wellrepresented, how much worse will that get when they are not allowed to choose their own representatives?” Although many students have expressed frustration with ECOM’s advertising efforts, some have acknowledged the unforeseen complications this school year has brought to the group. Last semester’s reform of the community representative system is the most notable of these changes, adding more costs and responsibilities to ECOM’s usual duties. Next year, ECOM plans on submitting legislation to limit the number of special elections per year. “I’m the first to criticize ECOM,” Wallis admitted. “But they’ve had their hands full in making the [community representative] process work.” Though dissatisfaction is shared by both groups over the lack of spring Senate elections, both bodies have noted the cyclical nature of student interest. “There’s a possibility that interest in the Senate is directly tied to campus issues,” Greenberg said. “During my freshmen year, the embezzlement from the Office of Student Activities created a campus attitude for people to get involved.” “Sometimes people don’t like what’s going on,” Pasternak agreed. “When Senate screws up, people want to run. But sometimes it’s an event independent of Senate. When I was running as a freshman, people were running because someone was teaching a class on insurgencies. Students wanted to stage an insurgency on TCU.” Though there are many motives for running for Senate, it appears that students have yet to discover them. As for the four remaining seats that need to be filled, ECOM has planned a fall election to complete the Senate body. The empty positions will be offered again to next year’s junior and sophomore classes, who only have five members on Senate out of seven available seats each. However, if there is a lack of interest at the candidate’s meeting, the empty positions will be offered first to the senior class and if necessary, to the incoming freshmen class. O Ryan Stolp MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

9


opinion

You, Me

&ACB

by cory faragon

C

ollege ACB, or ‘ACB,’ was born out of the ashes of its predecessor, Juicy Campus. Everybody knows Juicy Campus was better. For one, its interface was more attractive; its pink and blue graphics evoked images of the sort of sex-segregated bathrooms on whose walls gossip used to be scrawled before the Internet allowed the young and malevolent to move character assassination online. Juicy Campus provided no means for users to flag and remove a thread by consensus, which meant that whatever was posted stayed up, but unlike ACB, Juicy Campus didn’t recall threads to the front of the queue with each new post. Topics were instead subject to the passing of time and tended to fall off the radar rather than be constantly renewed by their own inertia—not such a bad thing if you found yourself singled out. Juicy Campus enjoyed a few months of popularity at Tufts before the site’s decline—the result of bad management, not, it must be said, of all of the earnest op-eds printed in undergraduate newspapers across the country condemning the site and its users. But those two or so months of Juicy Campus left Tufts students ready and eager for College ACB, despite its crude graphics and generally nastier tone. For our current classes of sophomores and freshman, getting acquainted with Tufts has also meant getting acquainted with ACB, which, for them, has had a presence since day one. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that ACB is now a Tufts tradition. I’m not writing to add to the already exhaustive list of why College ACB is bad and bad for us. As a forum it has enabled 10

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011

the expression of viciously homophobic and misogynistic sentiments. But it should now be clear that something in us, all of us, is really attracted to what College ACB offers, and whatever this is, it won’t be rooted out if Tufts bans ACB. The rapid appearance of more than a few imitators mere days after Juicy Campus went under confirms this reality. I’ve discussed this phenomenon with friends at peer institutions, and I’ve always been led back to the same conclusion: Tufts students post on ACB with both more frequency and enthusiasm than students at almost any other school. A look at the ACBs of peer institutions makes this plain. None of the Ivies, nor any of Tufts’ immediate peers, uses ACB quite as much as we do. Elsewhere, the site seems to center around little besides sorority and fraternity banter. While Tufts’ ACB features an astonishing amount of this Greek warring, it also cuts through nearly every other social boundary, from the Arts Haus to TMC. What can this mean, other than the fact that Tufts students are more malicious, more willing to dish the dirt on each other than college students elsewhere? Many readers will perhaps have already reached this conclusion on their own. But can it be true that Tufts students are meaner than their peers? I think so, and most people I talk to seem to agree. Basically, I think this state of affairs is an inevitable result of all of the various narratives under which Tufts administrators and students labor. Though Tufts isn’t incredibly racially or socioeconomically diverse, the university does contain a considerable diversity of personality and interests. The student body is composed of many fractional and varied elements that ultimately have little in common beyond mutual antipathy, This is


natasha Jessen-petersen

opinion

why efforts to create a single Tufts narrative, usually something about international relations or international ‘perspective,’ leave everyone unsatisfied. As someone who studies literature here, I sometimes wonder whether the university should just cut the charade and rename itself the College for the Institute of Global Leadership. Can any of us at this point actually say the words ‘active citizenship’ without reflexively cringing? I, too, would like a grant to go take photographs of the thirdworld poor. More than the Daily or the Source or the Observer, what ACB provides is a running commentary on day-to-day occurrences at Tufts which best sums up the opinions, concerns, hopes, interests, and bigotries of our student body. Any campus conflict that is sufficiently charged to gain the attention of enough students prompts a corresponding thread, which will predictably marshal the best arguments from both sides, presented in the tone of affected insouciance that characterizes much of the site. Such is the case with all of the various bias incidents of the past few years and, more recently, the administration’s decision to ban NQR; their selection of a lessthan-impressive commencement speaker; and the current emergence of Students for Justice in Palestine and the resultant Hillel castigation, to name only a few examples. I am not being glib when I say that ACB is probably where Tufts students are at their cleverest. The problem with most discussions of ACB is that they dress the issue in the tropes usually used to handle the diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases. According to this conception, ACB is a sort of foreign influenza that threatens

to supersede our super-ego at any moment. Before you know it, you’ll be shamelessly posting on the jumbo screen at the collaborative workstation in Tisch. It is taken as part of the donnée that the microbes are foreign and not domestic. This is not the welcoming Tufts community that we know and love, somebody wrote in a Roundtable article last year. But we must come to terms with the fact that ACB’s readers and contributors likely constitute a large part, maybe even a majority, of our Tufts “community.” This is a tall order, given that some of the posts contain such marked ignorance, intolerance and vicious enmity that it’s tough to see how their authors weren’t weeded out somewhere in the admissions process. More than anything, ACB stands as strong evidence against an increasingly vocal minority of Tufts students who pooh-pooh the claims of many that incidents of racism, sexism, sexual assault, and discrimination occur more frequently on this campus than is generally acknowledged. Indeed, the least useful framing of the ACB question is that its mere existence as a website is what’s wrong—as if Tufts students really just needed to be shielded from their all-butirresistible compulsion to talk trash. After all, ACB is only a forum. It cannot be the issue here at Tufts, though it is certainly the preferred issue, mostly because the real matter quickly boils down to intractable and deceptively simple questions like, “Why are we all so mean?” The content latent beneath every ACB scribbling is this: posting on this site was well worth the bit of self-respect I had to sacrifice as I clicked ‘submit.’ Before we rush to condemn the site, let us acknowledge that ACB says far more about us than we could ever say about it. O MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

11


National

NO NOT POT IT’S

the preparer of the maté, and the master of the order. The matéro prepares the maté and fills it up for everyone. (See the diagram below for instructions. Preparation is important to prevent clogging of the bombilla.) Each person gets a full gourd and passes it back to the matéro, who refills it and passes it to the next person. An excellent matéro can sense, just like with Spidey-sense, when a friend has sipped the last sip, and will calmly reclaim the gourd without missing a beat in a likely exciting story that he or she was telling. They also have incredible memories for who has said “Thank you,” which translates to, “Thanks man, but I’m done with the maté. You can skip me in the rotation now. You rock!” “Wow,” you might say, “that sounds like a lot of work for some tea.” Well, it’s not, and it’s quite fun. The communal nature of maté is the real upper. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Shoot. There’s a really cute girl/guy that I’d love to hang out with. I wish I had a reason to sit around and kick it!” (Here’s where the maté comes in) You could now be saying to your friend, “Hey, it’s finally nice outside, wanna have a maté on the quad?” I can’t attest that it works every

Written, illustrated, and sipped by Ryan Stolp

E

very once in a while you might find yourself crossing a glacier roped up and naked, at sunset, somewhere in Patagonia. When you finally arrive back at the refugio (the climber’s hut), people will say, “Are you okay? What took so long? Did you fall in a crevasse?” Surprised, you may find yourself explaining that, “Oh dear, no. We had to have a summit maté.” And you did have to have a summit maté. And another maté back at the refugio. Yerba maté, commonly found in South America, is much more than a drink. Maté is commonly grouped in the tea family, though from a distance or lacking your glasses, it could easily be misnomered as shaky pot, which it certainly is not. It has an earthy, green tea flavor that mellows out as the tea is re-steeped. It is drunk out of a gourd (also called a maté), which is filled 1/2 to 2/3 full with the chopped loose leaves and stems. To prevent having to “pick out the seeds and stems” from your teeth, maté is consumed via a metal or wooden straw, called a bombilla (pronounced bom-bee-sha or bom-bee-ya), which has some form of a strainer that sits at the bottom of the gourd. Hot, but not scalding water (about 160˚F) is poured in. The drinker sips it at their leisure and then, voilà, life gets better! But back to calling maté a tea. Maté is way more. Maté is a culture, a pastime. It’s all about sharing and taking time to hang out with friends, just hanging out. Like a communal meditation. Maté is most commonly drunk with friends, with one friend playing the role of the matéro. He or she is the keeper of the thermos,

I’m pretty sure I’m not addicted, but who can know for sure?

12

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011

time but it’s definitely a good start, and it’s applicable to almost any situation where you want to meet new people or keep up with old friends. It occupies the legal and healthy ground of socializing that cigarettes and pot slightly miss. Also unlike pot, maté gets your brain working as opposed to goofing off incessantly. The dry weight of caffeine in maté is about .7% - 1.7%, as opposed to tea at .4%-9% or to coffee, which sits around 3.2%. This translates into awesome focus, but, at least for this drinker, no jitters and minimal crashing. Argentineans will tell you about a magical compound called matéine, present in maté, which helps focus, relaxes the body, and cures cancer. Their description comes pretty close on all three counts (depending on who you ask). If you’re thinking to yourself now, “Man! Maté sounds kick-ass! I’d sure like to pick up a kilo or two!” then check out ma-tea.com and hook yourself up with a gourd, bombilla, and some Yerba. Not sure if it’s for you? How about you drop me an email (ryan.stolp@ tufts.edu) and let’s have a maté. I’d love to hang out, meet some new faces, and, of course, sip on that wonderful, glorious, even heavenly, Yerba maté. O


As you celebrate the spring weather with long naps on the Pres lawn, half a world away in Turkey, the celebration of spring is an opportunity for

the

Kurdish

minority

to

rally

for

political

and

cultural

rights.


Turkey’s Kurdish minority is one of many groups who celebrate Nevruz, the Persian festival of the spring equinox. Not surprisingly, the festivities in Istanbul also act as an opportunity to rally for Turkish rights. Many of the celebrators brought banners

and clothes of red, yellow and green, colors symbolic of Kurdish cultural solidarity.

Throughout the morning the atmosphere is excited, however, not without

tension. A large police presence was felt along the celebrations. According to one officer, the increase in security was due to potential disruptions by groups hoping to sabotage the event and instate violence. One of these

groups includes the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, an organization which

aims to create an independent Kurdish state. Amid the music, dancing and

jumping over fires, political groups chanted for more Kurdish rights.


While Nevruz is often associated with Kurdish resistance, some view it as a celebration of peace for everyone. At the same time, for many others, this was just a day out in the spring weather. Although many expected the tensions to run high, the event passed peacefully and as the fires dwindled so did the energy, the music, and the crowds.


Humor

continued from page 5

could he—the author who wrote for the expressed purpose of helping us negotiate the hidden persistence of loneliness—kill himself? How could he, of all people, leave us alone? There’s something of a betrayal in that book. So why isn’t anyone angry? Why are we so eager to turn him into a martyr for our isolation, our depression, our uncertainty, when really, deep down, all we want to do is beat the shit out of him for leaving us high and dry? Instead of feeling spurned, we beatify and we idolize; we build an altar and make daily sacrifices, trying to shoulder the Sisyphean task of actually completing Infinite Jest. But we’re quick to forget that there is a lot Wallace didn’t want us to know. Wallace’s outward humor and good-natured candor are set against the secrets there have always been concerning his private life. There was another, lesser acknowledged and darker part to his nature. An enigmatic part. Wallace was well known to have been very ill, to have been hospitalized more than once for depression, to have attempted suicide, and to have been in recovery for addiction to alcohol and drugs. But

we need our heroes—so, as soon as he died, we made him a saint. Accordingly, the presiding tone of all the articles (particularly the reviews for The Pale King) is one of unqualified appreciation and reverence with a touch of the guy fucking died for this book, the least we can do is give him a glowing review. No one would be more skeptical of this unalloyed praise than Wallace; and, as his readers, we should be, too. We shouldn’t settle for the dumbed-down, distilled version of an author who was maximalist in his writing and intelligence. We shouldn’t gild him as the tortured romantic genius many no doubt will mistakenly remember him as. We know very well that he wasn’t ordinary, but he wasn’t a saint either, and we should be as pissed off at him as we are enamored of him. He is still missed today, perhaps more than ever, by those that were lost in the maze of self-consciousness and self-doubt that defines our peculiar times. He illuminated that maze brilliantly, but couldn’t show us the way out. All of which is to say that, through the media attention and our returned interest, there may be something collective that we’re working through here—something bigger than Wallace himself, something he may have even been proud of—the closest thing to the real legacy he’s left. O MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

17


I

pish a t t o g u o y c s h i T f n i e l i h w

D

uring finals time, the only thing that should be backed up is your work. So where to go while in the library? The basement bathrooms are literally and figuratively the lowest of the low. They are perennially in disarray—you know from experience not even to waste your time going down there with your waste. The reading room bathrooms are no place for reading material, as the only time you can brave those echo-y halls is if you’re certain no gas will be passed. The media center, once reliable, has now become a wild card, subject to the same toilet paperless-ness and unflushability as an IBS clinic. We get the connection between studying, coffee-consumption, and pooping, but the Tisch toilets really stink. It shouldn’t be this hard to find a place to take a dump that isn’t a dump.

by daniel heller and alison lisnow


Spilt Beans

Despite its size and prominence on campus, Tisch has but eight urinals and six stalls dedicated to the needs of the male population, 14 stalls for women, plus the two unisex single bathrooms in the reading room. I am no math major—fuck, I’m barely passing Math for Social Choice— but I can tell you that the ratio of students drinking coffee to available bathroom facilities does not add up.

filled with feces, turds the size of small children, paper towels brimming over the the trashcans, and stressed-out students milling about for an open stall, the downstairs bathrooms are a case study for the imminent dangers of overpopulation. A simple poll showed that I wasn’t alone in these opinions. “I’d rather pee in a port-a-potty at Spring Fling than in the bathrooms on the first floor of Tisch. At least at Spring Fling I’m drunk!” R. Ya Peein* said. I rest my case.

Reading Room

This is what the library staircase looks like to bleary-eyed and full-bladdered Tischers

Upper Level/Lower Level The upper level bathrooms might be the least offensive in all of Tisch, the lower level the worst. Humans are lazy. We like going down stairs more than walking up them, and we are unable to comprehend the inevitability of our trek back up. The necessity of walking upstairs with a full bladder seems to keep most bathroom patrons away from the restrooms adjacent to the media center on the upper level of Tisch. Thank god for that, because when people actually do anything more than simply wash their hands, these bathrooms take a drastic turn for the worse. I have often peed in the urinals without problem. Just as often, however, pushing the lever results in an endless flush: a phantom waste of water that can only be resolved by having an awkward conversation with the students manning the media centers checkout desk. The downstairs bathrooms, while identical in design and layout, are more or less a third world equivalent. With toilets

What, what, WHAT are you doing? Step away from the reading room bathrooms NOW. Those one-seaters are only a number one choice if you’re certain all you’re doing is number one, otherwise you gotta go... elsewhere. The kids in here will give you a nasty look if you swallow your Adderall too loudly, so what makes you think that your turd will slip out unheard? I know, stairs are hard to climb, and it’s a crying shame Tufts didn’t consider your brown in their blueprints. But have some

Dropping a deuce on Level G makes you feel like a celebrity, especially if you bring your own velvet ropes and red carpet.

self-respect! CLENCH, goddammit, stall until you find another stall. You wouldn’t pick up a phone call in the reading room, so why should it be any different when it’s nature on the other end?

Level G If you’ve ever searched out Jumbo’s tail, maybe you know one of the few staircases that take you to the hidden Very Intimate Pooping (VIP) section of the library: Level G. The cans down here, previously reserved for the rumps of employees, are now open for general seating. As this pooping G-spot can be aptly described as “so fresh and so clean,” we’re hoping that the bean-burrito-eaters amongst us won’t catch wind of this place too quickly. Slip away from your studies while the gettin’ is still good!

The Sordid Summary This time of year, there are few spots where students spend more time than the library, where trying to find a suitable table may be a challenge, but trying to find a suitable bathroom leaves you up shit creek. Pray that you’ll get a paddle by visiting the unexplored latrines, hopefully changing your Tisch experience from super shitty to a “Level G-whiz!” O

These are the blueprints to the Tisch library.** If the architects had focused more on bathrooms and less on circled numbers,

*Name changed to protect the small-bladdered. **No, they’re not. ***Photos courtesy of Creative Commons

we’d all be in much better gastrointestinal shape.

MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

19


Campus

Ways to Distract and/or Procrastinate at the End of Spring Semester BY ANNA BURGESS

O

ne of the main problems with the end of spring classes at Tufts is that there’s a certain something missing: an epic de-stressor. In December, before reading week, there’s always (or was always) NQR, which is a great way for students to get crazy and blow off steam before returning to their hard-working lives. In May, the weather is usually gorgeous, and without that one major get-your-stressout event after the end of classes, Tufts students have a hard time focusing enough to open their books at all. In lieu of one big one destress-fest, we’ve found some little ways for students to relax during the period before and during their final exams.

Be Active

With all that eating, it’s also pretty helpful to be active. A great way that students find to destress during the end of the year is to get exercise.

Eat

Number one: eat. I mean, this is always kind of an important one, but food can be comforting in times of anxiety or strain, and good food almost always makes people happy. So, going out to eat with friends makes a lot of sense during exam time. There are lots of places in the area that have student discounts, and Johnny D’s and Danish Pastry House offer great weekend brunches. If you’re kind of broke or just don’t feel like wearing real clothes, you can always make your own meals with food from local farmer’s markets. The Somerville farmer’s market is every Wednesday from 12-6 p.m. until the fall—it will definitely be popular in the next couple of weeks. If you’re really really on a budget, but still want some fresh food, Strawberry Fest at Dewick and Carmichael is coming up on May 3! 20

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011

O bv iously, this can involve going to the gym, and it often does, but there are other options this time of year. For people who are looking, there are tons of on-campus activities in t h e last few weeks of the semester that encourage Tufts students to get involved. For instance, TSR Fitness offers short fitness workshops like Caliente Cardio and Power Yoga, conveniently taking place on the last day of classes, May 2. There’s also yoga available at the Interfaith Center during the reading period, on May 3 and 5 for anyone who wants a relaxing break from intense studying. Off campus, students can go running or biking on paths nearby, like the one through Davis and Porter Squares. Or,

in a sort of eating-exercising combination, you can always run after the ice cream truck.

Distract Yourself

Another good way to relax is to distract yourself (hopefully only for a little while). People cite things like watching TV shows, especially comedies, which can help distract from the stress of study ing and give your brain a chance to recuperate. If you want to watch something but feel like getting out of your room, the Somerville Theater in Davis Square is participating in the Independent Film Festival of Boston until May 2, and singer Natasha Bedingfield is coming to the theater on May 8. The theater is also currently showing mainstream films Water for Elephants, Limitless, The Adjustment Bureau, and Rango. There’s also Scream 4, if you want to be assured that some students’ lives are definitely more stressful than yours.

Sleep

Last, but not least, it’s important to sleep. Sleep at night, obviously, but also during the day—on the library roof, the president’s lawn, the academic quad... or any other place on campus you find relaxing. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen! O


Tufts

A look at untruths, misconceptions, and faulty reporting

CHECKING THE FACTS Also, the topics in question are addressed according to a blatantly incorrect timeline. SEE ceased to exist at the end of the previous school year, the proposal of an Africana Studies Department is an ongoing debate, and a “social justice requirement” will be addressed sometime this year. The distortion of time is no benign action; it draws together disparate events occurring at different times and creates connections that just do not exist. This issue illuminates a major problem with fact checking and journalistic integrity at Tufts. The Primary Source published an editorial that mistook similar groups and events for being correlative, and published their article as such. They took the actions of disparate organizations, and even one that no longer exists, to communicate a biased and misleading message through an article whose facts were incongruous with reality.

T

By Kyle Carnes

he lenient expectations of amateur news coverage, reporting, and writing are indicative of the steep learning curve associated with quality journalism. Faulty fact checking and a lack of impartial commentary may result in the publication of journalistic works that are inaccurate, unclear, or not appropriate for publication. Recently, The Primary Source published such an article regarding the actions of a student group on campus that they believed to be advocating the creation of a “social justice requirement” and actively encouraging prospective students not to attend Tufts. The article attacks Students for Educational Equality (SEE), its members, and its purported actions to create a new major requirement at Tufts. To be clear, many of the assertions made by The Primary Source are grossly inaccurate. Firstly, SEE no longer exists as a student organization, it has no official connection to the TCU senate, and it was not “the same group supporting the creation of an Africana Studies Department,” as The Primary Source would have its readers believe.

The latest issue of The Primary Source contained two sets of retractions and corrections. These corrections aimed to tackle the many factual-and detail-oriented errors found in the commentary. But there remains a glaring dilemma with the response pieces, and the items they reference. This stems from the ephemeral nature of media coverage, where readers of one story may not read the followup response, and the damage will remain unfixed. Furthermore, a long list of amendments is not the remedy to an action that should not have occurred in the first place. How does the student body of Tufts University value journalism, and to what extent do facts need to be confirmed prior to publication? Differing opinions should not be stifled, and it is important to foster discussion among the multitude of academic communities. Yet, there must be a higher standard that the members of Tufts’ media hold themselves to. It must be known that assumptions are not facts, hearsay is not research, and an inconvenient deadline is no excuse to publish a story unworthy of Tufts University and its students. O

MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

21


opinion

Game One gamer talks stereotype and sets the record straight.

On

By John Mazzoli

22

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011

is a US Supreme Court case being reviewed right now concerning the sale of violent games to minors. This case angers me because it proves that society still does not trust the videogame industry and its extensive and stringent rating system, even though it has been around and functioning effectively for years. Videogames have many positive aspects that usually go unmentioned. Just like enjoying a movie, a book, or music, playing videogames is an escape. Gaming always makes me much less stressed and is an excellent break from a hectic college life. Unlike movies, videogames are very interactive, and they promote problem solving and hand-eye coordination. In fact, National Geographic reported on a study conducted by the University of Rochester that found that videogames can improve hand-eye coordination to almost the same degree as other activities, such as physical sports. Videogames aim to be challenging; they promote active thinking and snap decisionmaking. They are offer us a break from work and the stress of college life, but also promote the skills that get you ahead, such as problem solving and quick thinking. Critics also try to make the argument that videogames are too solitary and isolating, which is a complete fallacy. Videogames have been a key icebreaker on numerous occasions for me. Playing Mario Party with a couple of strangers will make you fast friends in no time, and as a group of Tufts guys demonstrated on YouTube, drinking while playing Halo is a hell of a time. It seems very strange indeed to me that despite the growth of the videogaming industry, society is still struggling to accept it as legitimate and successful. Besides being fun, videogames are great social devices and can both encourage academic success and relieve stress. That the gaming industry is repeatedly attacked and slandered by today’s society is foolish—most critics are uninformed or biased, and tend to cite extremes rather than the norm. It is certainly true that videogames are more accepted than they were years ago, but every time someone condescendingly asks me if I play World of Warcraft, I feel like gamers haven’t made much progress towards being more socially accepted than they were decades ago, and it’s high time that changed. O ruth tam

T

he other day, a friend walked into my room to find me playing my Xbox 360, to which she asked, “What is this? World of Warcraft?” I was annoyed, not because I was playing a totally different genre of game than World of Warcraft, or because you can’t even play that particular game on Xbox. It was the condescending tone, the negative inflection, and the frown that creased her face when the word “Warcraft” rolled off her tongue that got to me. I wouldn’t normally be phased by something like this, but it got me thinking about the negative stigma that videogame culture has had throughout its history. Gamers have often been portrayed as the type of people that live in their parents’ basement, living on hot pockets. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some people like this, and I must admit to enjoying the occasional hot pocket; but this generalization is often applied too liberally. Gaming has grown considerably since the age of Pong and Tetris. It is now no longer merely a random hobby, and has become an international business akin to that of the music and movie industries. According to DFC Intelligence, a private research firm, the videogame industry is worth 44 billion dollars worldwide as of 2011. It is also one of, if not the top, fastest growing industries in the entertainment sector. Although the recession has been responsible for some speed bumps recently, the gaming industry is still going strong. Whereas in the 70s, one lone programmer could create a game, the process has developed and expanded to involve multiple companies, rigorous advertising, and the effort of hundreds of hardworking people across the globe. Video games have become a craft and an art in their own sense; they have developed a culture and a business that seem limitless in a world driven by evolving technology. Still, video games have often been popular targets in the political sphere. Leftist politicians such as Hillary Clinton have often attacked games, calling them a danger to morality and psychological development in children. This is absolutely ridiculous; the ‘dangerous themes’ presented in some video games are most certainly also present in other entertainment industries, such as television and movies, even though the gaming industry seems to have taken the brunt of the criticism in recent years. The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, has for years rated and regulated the sale of video games to minors. Much like the rating system for films, these classifications intend to protect minors. The ESRB is pretty conservative, and some games with very strong violent or sexual themes are all but banned from being sold on the mainstream games market. Despite this, there


BOB WOODWARD The Observer sat down with the Pulitzer Prize-winner journalist and bestselling author of Watergate fame to discuss Jumboleaks, the role of media, and what it takes to be journalist today. Observer: Today, technology is fundamentally changing the dissemination of news around the world, exampled by WikiLeaks and Anonymous. Do you think this change is for the best? Woodward: Well, it’s there, whether it’s good or not. You can’t avoid it. It drives a lot, but I don’t think it’s that important. Wikileaks, for instance: it’s a lot of information, and somebody said in the New York Times that these documents will tell you the most important decisions that are being made in government. That’s BS. Not so. Those documents are mid-level classified documents that rarely get to the White House and have very little standing in the White House. O: Recently, the Tufts community was rocked by something called Jumboleaks, a WikiLeaks-inspired exposé of past Tufts investment records… BW: What did it show? O: It didn’t show any direct investments Tufts made, but it showed that some controversial corporations were receiving Tufts investment money indirectly. BW: Like Madoff?

O: We had money with him, but this document included Monsanto, which many were upset about. BW: I’m all for transparency and I think people should know whom Tufts invests in and with. It’s a matter of interest to the whole community. Did the university try to stop it? O: The university prefers to keep those documents confidential. BW: Well, the White House prefers to keep documents I quote from in Obama’s Wars confidential, too. We have a thing called the First Amendment. In 1974 the Supreme Court said there’s no prior restraint; they can’t stop us from publishing these things. So we have a really wonderful capacity to explain what’s going on behind the scenes. But we must be careful with that power, we must be responsible. O: In that vein, it’s my opinion that one of the reasons for why WikiLeaks and the general trend towards open information is happening is because news reporting is so polarized, so popularized. Do you think, as a general concept, journalistic integrity still stands? BW: There’s always been polarization in politics. I started during Nixon and there was serious polarization. So, it may drive the ability for these WikiLeaks-type people

interviewed by katie boland to get documents. I think the question of journalistic integrity is that you just don’t publish these things wholesale. If you publish them, you vet them if they name confidential sources or operations, check with the government and listen to their arguments (they may hold water, they may not). You don’t want to get people killed by publishing documents like this. I think the New York Times to a certain extent educated the WikiLeaks people, so they’ve been more careful in vetting these documents. O: Do you think your investigative style, that is, journalism based on deep investigations and anonymity, would be possible if you had started your career today? BW: Sure. It’s a matter of time. Going back to people. Developing sources, getting the documents, going to the scene and observing for yourself, to see what’s going on. I think it’s still possible now; you just have to get someone to pay you to do it. O: What advice do you have for journalists starting out today? BW: It’s a great job. If somebody came from Mars and spent time in the United States and went back and were asked who are the people with the best jobs, they’d say the media. You make momentary entries into people’s lives when they’re the most interesting and you get out when they cease to be interesting. The second thought I have is learn that if you work 20% harder you can double the quality of your work, and if you work 40% you can maybe triple the quality of your work. The third point is that always remember in every story you get information from three sources: human beings; documents of some kind, books, things on the internet that you can confirm; and then personal observation, going to the scene yourself and observing. I think there are always going to be journalists. O: Do you have any advice for graduating seniors?

BW: Develop a BS detector. MAY 2, 2011

TUFTS OBSERVER

23


off campus

Take a Walk on The Wild Side by Eliza Mills

24

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011


off campus

U

sually, when we say “I want to get off campus”, it means a trip to Davis or a T ride to Harvard or Boston. This almost always involves spending money at a destination somewhere—even the most practiced Boston explorers need somewhere to sit down after a long walk, and that place is usually a restaurant. Cha-ching. Fortunately for us off campus-bound adventurers, it’s spring (!) and a whole world of opportunity is blooming right before our eyes. Walking (and thanks to the bikeshare program, biking) weather has arrived, so here’s an excellent off-campus expedition that doesn’t involve the T! The Mystic River and Mystic River Reserve: Mystic River and the Mystic River Reserve are close by and completely underrated. If you’re looking for a fun picnic or an afternoon bike ride, head over to Curtis and bike/walk over the hill towards Boston Avenue. Keep going on Winthrop until you reach the bridge that goes over Mystic River. You should see a bike/walking path on your right leading to Condon Shell; on your left is a baseball field. The shell is painted with a giant mural done by former Tufts students and would be a great place for a picnic or impromptu concert. If you’re in the mood for a game of kickball or baseball, you can play your heart out while watching swans and ducks swim by in the river. Anyone looking for an adventure can follow the path going past the shell towards the Mystic River Reserve. If you have no qualms about trespassing (and you aren’t on a bike), follow the river as closely as possible—it’ll lead you under the highway, where there’s some really wonderful graffiti art, and past a roller-hockey rink and a windmill. If you’re not a born trespasser or happen to be biking, stay nearby— you can see the path of the river from most of the streets nearby (or you can follow the general direction of Route 16). Either way, you’ll end up at the Mystic River Reserve. Once you get to the reserve, make sure to climb the giant wooden tower near the park’s entrance—not only does it have a wonderful view of Boston, it’s the perfect place to watch the sun set over the water. Inside the park, there are plenty of places to relax, including some lovely benches and waterside docks. If high reeds and waterside hangouts aren’t your thing, check out the fields above the water, where there are sure to be dogs to play with and shady places to sit down with a book. Explore to your heart’s content—you’re bound to find a special place in the reserve.

Clinton Steeds

There are lots of other secret spots you can reach on foot or bike—if you follow the Somerville Community Path (the one that starts out in the statue garden behind the Davis T stop), you’ll eventually hit Jerry’s Pond and Francis McCrehan Pool, where you can swim for free. If you’d rather stay dry, the pond and pool are right next to baseball and soccer fields. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, stay on the path until it ends—at Rindge Street—then take a left, cross Alewife Brook Parkway in the crosswalk, cut across the parking lot on the other side of the road, and take Alewife Station Road (on your right) until it hooks up with the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. This trail will take you to Spy Pond, which is a bigger lake with some sandy beaches. Here, you can canoe, picnic, or play soccer on one of the adjacent fields. Who would have thought that you could get so in touch with your wild side in the middle of Boston? O

MAY2,2,2011 2011 MAY

TUFTSOBSERVER OBSERVER TUFTS

25 25


1-900

Louise Blavet

By Gideon Jacobs

T

he line lit up and Sally took her first call of the afternoon. “Hey baby, this is Penelope. What can I call you?” “Uh, Chaz.” “Alright, Chaz. Do you wanna play with me, Chaz?” “Nope.” “Do you want me to play with myself, Chazzy?” “Nope. I’d like you to listen. I’m sorry. This is going to sound insane, but are you willing to just listen to me for a second? Or, actually, even answer a few questions? I’m just having a little…uh…trouble here. Really you don’t have to do anything, I just need you to stay on the line and tell me some things. Can you just not hang up for a little bit?” “Chazzy darling, I can do whatever you want me to do. I would never hang up on you—never, sweetie. This is your party. You’re in charge. You’re a big man and I’ve bet you’ve got a big, fat dick too. In fact, Chazzy, when you order me around I get wet. Do you want to order me around a little? I’ll do anything you want me to do.” “Woah, woah, oh shit, no, you’re not getting this lady. I can’t believe I just called you lady. But you are a lady. No, I mean, you’re clearly great at your job, and I appreciate that a lot. But, um, that’s just not what I’m looking for tonight. It’s sort of hard to explain. Please just listen to me, please, just 26 TUFTS OBSERVER 2011 answer some questionsMAY and2,try to under-

stand w h a t I’m saying. Please?” He exhaled. There was a long silence on the line. Sally looked around at the other girls. She took a deep breath and rubbed her tired eyes. “Of course, Chaz.” “Great! Ok. All right. Jeez, where do I start? How do I start? What do I do? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. Ok, I’m just going to talk. I really think that’s the best idea. So, my first question is this: say you start doing an activity you’ve done a million times before, like say, eating a bowl of cereal. So, you’re munching down some cereal—“ “What kind of cereal?” Sally waited for a response. “Hello?” “Lucky Charms.” “Okay.” “Okay, so you’re eating some Lucky Charms and suddenly, it becomes this excruciatingly painful act, but not in a way that forces you to immediately stop…you still with me?” “Yes, Chaz.” The line is quiet. “I’m eating a bowl of Lucky Charms and it starts hurting.” “Yes. Exactly. Thank you. Okay, so you keep shoveling in spoonfuls of the stuff into your mouth and, all of the sudden you feel this strange, dull pain shooting through your entire body with every crunch. You think about stopping, but you realize that you don’t really need to. The

cereal tastes delicious and your stomach is rumbling with hunger. The pain is bad but not so intense that you can’t ignore it, if you want to, in order to get the next spoonful to go down. So, my first question is, how do you know whether there’s something wrong with your tooth, or the cereal or the milk or whatever, or, if it actually has always hurt when you eat cereal, but for some reason, for some strange reason, this time, you noticed the pain. For some reason, this time, you awaken to how excruciatingly painful is has always been to eat cereal.” Sally started spreading some peanut butter onto a slice of bread while she thought about the question. She was proud that she understood what the guy was asking. “I’d think if it hurt you to eat cereal you would have noticed it before. I mean, it sort of just sounds like a dental problem to me.” The voice on the phone suddenly took on a different tone. “No, no, no, you’re missing the point. My question is, ‘How do you know whether you suddenly have a bad tooth or if you suddenly you have a bad brain?”’ Sally thought about it for a moment. “What’s the difference? If it hurts, it hurts.” She took a bite of her peanut butter sandwich and waited for a response. “Wow. Ok. Cool. That’s a good answer. I’m going to ask you some more stuff. Is that all right?” “It’s your time, Chaz.” O

A


t

Poetry & Prose

n r o The Th By Anika Ades

I stepped on something sharp in the shower Unexpected, when I was used to the wetness And constant danger of slipping The gritty thorn, blood black from where I stood Hurt as I pressed my foot onto it But came as I was sliding, a little So that I halted on the slope to the drain.

Firmenich Alexa

I stepped on something sharp in the shower Unexpected, when I was used to the wetness And constant danger of slipping The gritty thorn, blood black from where I stood Hurt as I pressed my foot onto it But came as I was sliding, a little So that I halted on the slope toMAY the2,drain. 2011 TUFTS OBSERVER

27


Safe campus humor

POLICE BLOTTER Pinching the Stream, Closing the Floodgates, Killing the Flow Monday, April 18 • 1:56 a.m.

In the spirit of springtime growth and bloom, a male student wished to water the front lawn of Gifford House, the home of our dear president and first lady. The officer, however, disagreed with his “special blend” of fertilizer, which was really just urine (it is unclear at this time if it was clear and copious). What ensued was a string of false names and fervent denial that any flow had actually dribbled from his body. His argument didn’t quite ‘hold water,’ seeing as his belt was undone and his pants were resting at his ankles. Oh yeah, and the cop definitely saw a golden stream.

Neighbor Theft Friday, April 15 • 3:07 a.m.

A smooth theft. A clean getaway. An escape to a safehouse. You’d think any Tufts student who has seen any of the assortment of heist movies available in the Tisch Media Library would know the process. Nope. They instead chose to steal the bike of a resident in their own dorm. It was a convenience thing really. Until the original owner noticed the bike had been moved and relocked, promptly called Tufts’ finest and they elicited a guilty, guilty confession. Do your research, man! Poison Ivy on the Hill Saturday, April 16 • 11:49 p.m. Ever the caring host, Tufts police noticed a guest wrestling with the difficult task of walking while intoxicated. Though his friends were supportive (both literally, and I’m sure emotionally), the officer couldn’t resist offering a helping hand. After all, it’s the Tufts, “active citizen,” courteous thing to do! Most ungraciously and unworthy, the student rudely pointed his finger in the startled face of the officer and exclaimed, “Bitch, I go to an Ivy League school!” He was a student at Brown. Police later posited that “he couldn’t get into Tufts.” He could, however, gain admittance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. —Ilustrated and compiled by Ryan Stolp

28

TUFTS OBSERVER

MAY 2, 2011


Anna-Maria Melachrinou


Tufts Observer Since 1895

www.tuftsobserver.org

Tufts University P.O. Box 5302, Medford, MA, 02155 Please Recycle

Tufts Observer, Issue 6  

Spring 2011, Volume CXXII/ Issue 6

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you