Amplifying Vanderbiltâ€™s Progressive Voices Vol. 10/No. 5/ Jan/2011
Commodores in the community MLK Weekend of Service: Page 7, 13
Vanderbilt outreach in North Nashville, pg. 10
In THis Issue
a note from the editor
co n t en t s
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This January, Vanderbilt University celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for the first time. Instead of taking the holiday as a day off, though, the university celebrated it as a “day on” of service in the Nashville community. The inaugural year was a little rocky organizationally, as Carol Chen writes on page 7, but it gave us the idea that Vanderbilt students are willing to step up and do some good in the community when they have the opportunity — which Aimee Sobhani writes about on page 13. If you know where to go, Vanderbilt has lots of opportunities for service. I spent MLK day working on a community garden with VIVA (VIVA’s new co-president Sarah O’Brien has a monthly column on page 8) which was a lot of fun. I also wrote this month about some innovative outreach by Vanderbilt students in North Nashville, on page 10. Dylan Thomas spotlights the Secular Student Alliance on page 3, and Maria Ochoa reviews a Soviet/Cuban documentary on page 9. Meghan O’Neill takes the fight online on page 12, making a case for net neutrality, and Vanderbilt graduate Lily Sturmann writes about the science of dumpster diving on page 6. Tragedy struck in Arizona over winter break, and it has grown unclear whether or not the shooting was overpoliticized. Andri Alexandrou and Hirak Pati write about the media attention on Jared Loughner and political rhetoric on pages 14 and 15. Jon Christian
03. Spotlight: Secular Student Alliance By Steven Harrison
04. What’s the deal with LLCs? By Carol Chen
05. Nurse residency stirs controversy By Andri Alexandrou
06. Dumpster diving highlights waste By Lily Sturmann
07. MLK service day overcomes first-time jitters
By Carol Chen
08. The Edgy Vedgy: VIVA la vegetarianism! By Sarah O’Brien
09. Review: “Soy Cuba” By Maria Ochoa
10. Vanderbilt connects with North Nashville By Jon Christian
Published with support from the Center for American Progress/Campus Progress Online at http://www.campusprogress.org
By Meghan O’Neill
13. Vanderbilt isn’t always apathetic By Aimee Sobhani
Amplifying Vanderbilt's Progressive Voices January 2011
12. Net neutrality vital to web culture
Volume 10, Number 5
Jon Christian Editor-in-Chief
14. Politicians: be more thoughtful By Andri Alexandrou
15. Don’t exploit tragedy By Hirak Pati
Stacy Schlumbrecht Web Editor
“The Flip Side” Editor
Meghan O’Neill Features Editor
number of American military deaths in Iraq since March 2003 Cover photography: Danielle Williams Cover design: Jon Christian
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ORBIS aspires to change the atmosphere on Vanderbilt's campus and provides a voice for liberal, multicultural and minority viewpoints. This publication strives to inform the public about issues that these groups face as well as to promote diversity and unity within our community. It is a forum for discussion of social, political and religious commentary relevant to Vanderbilt, the nation and the world. ORBIS was founded by a coalition of students seeking to raise consciousness about diverse ideas, cultures and backgrounds in our society. We hope to challenge the existing social atmosphere at Vanderbilt and promote a rebirth of acceptance.
Editorials represent the policy of ORBIS as determined by the editorial board. Letters and commentary pieces represent the opinions of the writers. Please recycle.
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Secular Student Alliance is about acceptance, education By Dylan Thomas Staff Writer
Over a stretch of Interstate 85 hangs a controversial billboard that reads, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” In a nutshell, that’s the message of Vanderbilt’s Secular Student Alliance, a new student organization that offers an intellectual and social gathering place for Vanderbilt’s secular and nonreligious population. Sophomores Hudson Todd, Holly Elmore and Phillip Pei crafted the idea of the club before they arrived at Vanderbilt for their freshman year. After some initial planning, the three established a branch of the Secular Student Alliance, a national umbrella organization for similar groups, in the fall of 2010. The purpose of the group, they explain, is to provide a positive community which secular students can embrace as their own. Atheists and agnostics can be easily discouraged from expressing and discussing their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in a predominantly Christian climate, and the Secular Student Alliance seeks to combat that repression and to give those students a voice. “Really, we want secular students to have somewhere they can feel accepted and be in similar company,” said Elmore, the inaugural secretary of the organization. Surprisingly, though, the young student orga-
nization has already attracted a mixed group. Members hail from diverse religious and political backgrounds. The organization has attracted atheists and agnostics, of course, but it has also found itself home to a diverse political spectrum, to students with Catholic and Protestant upbringings and even one southern Baptist.
“I envisioned a group of people from diverse backgrounds and driven by a curiosity and a desire for knowledge and truth,” said vice president Philip Pei. “I envisioned a group of people from diverse backgrounds and driven by a curiosity and a desire for knowledge and truth,” said vice president Philip Pei. “Even though our group is less than a year old, this is what we have achieved.” Another primary goal of the organization is to foster intellectual discourse about atheism, agnosticism, religion and contemporary issues. Typically, they plan meetings to focus on a specific topic of discussion, such as members’ personal experiences with secularism, or the nuances of
atheism, agnosticism and humanism. Through the discussions, the organization’s leadership hopes members will gain different perspectives on these issues and learn from each other. Additionally, the organization aims to better educate the Vanderbilt student body and the general public about secular beliefs and to dispel stereotypes about atheism and agnosticism. Members are eager to show the Vanderbilt community that atheists, agnostics and people who believe in secularism aren’t rude or nihilistic curmudgeons, but members of an open-minded and intelligent community. In addition to regular meetings, the Secular Student Alliance holds events which encourage the Vanderbilt student body to explore and consider secular and scientific issues. In December, the club hosted an evening with the club’s sponsor, Professor of Astronomy David A. Weintraub, who led a discussion with a packed lecture hall in Furman on contrasting religious and scientific views on the age of the universe. “We aren’t sure about upcoming events,” said president Hudson Todd, “but we’re hoping to host a debate or another open forum in the spring. We want to host events accessible to the Vanderbilt community so people can see what we’re about.” The Secular Student Alliance welcomes new members, whether religious, secular or simply curious. Interested students may email Hudson Todd at email@example.com.
Campus Progress’ annual National Conference in Washington, D.C. brings together 1,000 students and dozens of leading speakers (including past keynote speakers Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) for issue discussions, skills trainings and networking. We also hold DC, regional, and campus trainings on journalism, media skills and grassroots organizing. Visit http://campusprogress.org/ national_conference/ for more.
Roommate sick of listening to your political rants? Write for ORBIS! firstname.lastname@example.org vanderbiltorbis.com ~ facebook.com/vuorbis
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Living Learning Communities A guide to Vanderbiltâ€™s residential education opportunities Compiled by Carol Chen Associate editor
Living Learning Communities (LLCs) are Vanderbilt residential programs that encourage students to pursue their common educational interests. Programs are open to all majors and students except incoming first-years. They are year-long but generally do not hinder students who spend a semester off-
LLCs are designed for people interested in developing leadership skills or opportunities to volunteer with like-minded people, or for those with interests that they would like to explore but cannot find a venue through class or other activities. campus. LLCs are designed for people interested in developing leadership skills or opportunities to volunteer with like-minded people, or for those with interests that they would like to explore but who cannot find a venue through class or other activities. LLCs are also amply funded so they often offer such perks as catered meals and financial resources to carry out projects. They provide students with some power in their
McGill Hall is one of Vanderbiltâ€™s Living Learning Communities.
housing arrangements, especially the opportunity to live in a specific group and get early placements. While the descriptions and applications necessary make LLCs sound very official, they are not necessarily a large time commitment. Meeting the bare minimum requirements is not difficult. However, you get what you put in. They are often not particularly competitive and students who express genuine interest usually get a spot. If you have some cool interest on the side, or if you do not want to take your chances in the housing lottery, then consider an LLC. All applications, except for Mayfields, are online at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ResEd/, and all are due to the Office of Housing and Res Ed in Branscomb except for Leadership Hall. Acceptance decisions will be sent out before the regular housing lottery. Vanderbilt-Barnard Members of LLCs do not necessarily live near each other here but will be in singles in either Vanderbilt or Barnard. Creative Campus Residential Fellows Premise: Creative Campus allows students with artistic and cultural interests to attend salons led by community artists and entrepreneurs, attend cultural events in and around the city and to develop a creative service project. Time commitment: Spring 2011 orientation session, monthly program meeting, monthly salon meeting, participate in program service project. Application process: application asking for either a
short essay response or a creative work; 20-minute interview from 3:00-9:00 p.m. on March 1st and 2nd. Due date: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by 4:30 p.m. Contact: Ben Smith, email@example.com Leadership Hall Premise: The oldest LLC on campus, it aims to help you develop and practice your own brand of leadership through self-awareness, discussion and understanding group dynamics. Time commitment: 1-2 hours biweekly, group service project and field trip about twice a semester Application process: application with short essay response, no interviews Due date: February 23 by 4:30 p.m. to the Community Partnership House Contact: Shay Malone, firstname.lastname@example.org Vanderbilt Interest Projects (VIP) Premise: Like a Mayfield but in more flexible groups of 5-10 students, program groups work with a faculty or staff advisor of their choice to create a yearlong interest project. Groups receive a video recorder to document their work, project management advice, and up to $500 to off-set costs. Time commitment: a group blog, video journal entries, a commercial, two formal presentations during the year Application process: application requiring signatures of the 5-10 students in a group and a faculty/staff advisor, essay outlining a proposed project, then an interview if the committee thinks it is necessary Due date: February 23, 2011 by 4:30 p.m. Contact: Erica Cain, email@example.com (Continued on p. 5)
Photo: Carol Chen
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Controversy at the Nurse Residency Program We need to remember the goal of medicine By Andri Alexandrou Editorial staff
Applications for the Vanderbilt Nurse Residency Program have stirred up media attention recently. One clause of the application informed nurses that they would be providing care for patients who had been treated with various procedures - including abortions. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian non-profit organization, filed a civil rights complaint on January 11 for a Mississippi woman looking to apply to the program. “You can’t create a better way to screen out prolife applicants if you try,” said David French, director of the Alliance Defense Fund. In response to the complaint, Medical Center spokesman John Howser cited Vanderbilt’s policy. If a student objects to the procedure on moral or religious grounds, he explained, he or she is not required to participate. The debate around abortion has been in the forefront of the American political mind for many years now. In this case, we can see that even though the procedure is legal, circumstances arise that bring these all-too familiar questions back into the limelight. For the nurse that contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, even caring for a patient who had or will have an abortion at the Medical Center violated her personal sense of morality.
Let’s look at the Hippocratic Oath. What many confuse as a simple principle of “first do no harm” that health care givers must abide by is really an extensive list that attempts to confront the questions of research, cure versus prevention and the very nature of medicine. While not all health care providers are required to recite the oath, the text remains a go-to for general guidance in everyday practice.
Unlike the fruitless debates that have plagued the American political arena, here at Vanderbilt we have an instance where two parties were able to reach a consensus despite opposite belief systems. The Hippocratic Oath says,“I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being.” The ultimate goal for health care providers, nurses at the Medical Center included, is to care for the men and women underneath the hospital smock. A
nurse who abstained from caring for a woman who had just had an abortion could potentially be placing this woman’s life in danger. Vanderbilt maintained its stance and decided to answer the complaint by editing the application and clarifying the language. Applicants are no longer required to sign the acknowledgement, and they are directed toward an avenue where they can opt out of assisting in abortions. The Alliance Defense Fund withdrew its complaint and French, the director of its Center for Academic Freedom, commended the university. Unlike the fruitless debates that have plagued the American political arena, here at Vanderbilt we have an instance where two parties were able to reach a consensus despite opposite belief systems. Complaints were filed, spokesmen spoke and concerns were answered adequately. Such calm interaction should be a signpost to the rest of the country about the proper engagement over disputed issues. Perhaps the difference in this instance was that there was a common goal. Both the medical center and the nuse who had been offended by the application are interested in treating patients and bringing them back to health. With this very tangible goal, both parties were able to compromise on what usually degenerates into an argument over ideals. Good job, Vanderbilt. May you be a guide to the rest of the nation in this time of vapid political interaction.
Living Learning Communities, from p. 4: The Kissam Experience So you got Kisslammed. What to do? Join the Kissam Experience! People interested in projects can apply and get early housing placement in Kissam singles. The Kissam Experience Premise: Vanderbilt students have many interests that they would like to investigate further but which are not suited for independent study with a professor. A Kissam Learning Initiatives in Collaborative Knowledge (KLICK) gives groups of 1-4 students the resources and guidance to create a small research project. Students should have some idea what they want to research but do not need to have the project completely planned before applying. Time commitment: variable time to find sources or data for a project, one meeting with the Kissam Programming Council, reception and presentation of project in April Application process: application describing proposed project and outlining basic steps Due date: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by 4:30 p.m., option of emailing to Julie DeVoe Contact: Julie DeVoe, firstname.lastname@example.org Mayfield Lodges Premise: Ten students, working with a faculty advisor,
get to create a self-directed project about a topic of their own choice. They all live in a single Mayfield and it can be mixed gender housing. Time commitment: monthly progress reports, weekly lodge meetings, regular meetings with faculty advisor, participation in Mayfield program events. Application process: application (must be picked up at the Branscomb Housing Office) with signatures of the 10 students, then the screening committee will interview up to 30 groups and up to 20 proposals are selected Due date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 by 4:30 p.m. Contact: Megan Cunningham, megan.s.cunningham@ vanderbilt.edu Main Campus Those looking for something a bit different from the common Vanderbilt experience should explore McGill on Alumni lawn or McTyeire next to the BioMed library. McGill Project Premise: Considered a place to discover and develop artistic or intellectual pursuits, McGill students join in discussions on controversial topics and attend workshops. One floor on McGill has gender-neutral rooms and bathrooms. Time commitment: attendance at 25% of McGill
events like McGill Hours and hall meetings, help with the annual artistic and creative spring showcase Application process: application with several short answer questions, interview with McGill Selection Committee Due date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 by 4:30 p.m. Contact: Jason Steinas, email@example.com McTyeire International Hall Premise: One program is in English for students interested in international topics. The second is made of language groups for students to practice French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian or Russian. These require students to speak the language at certain group events so at least minor language ability is a must. All majors are welcome to apply and there are some graduate students and native speakers. Time commitment: speaking target language at weekly study breaks and at group international dinners MonThurs Application process: application that asks for a brief evaluation from a language instructor, several short essay questions, a dinner interview Due date: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by 4:30 p.m., must submit in person to sign up for an interview Contact: Anja Bandas, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dumpster diving provides insight into widespread waste By Lily Sturmann Staff writer
“I’ve eaten food out of a dumpster.” A shocked silence follows. But why are they so grossed out? Hidden in plain view all around us are marvelous boxes filled with mountains of free, fun stuff. Dumpsters. Some of us sift through these piles of “trash” to find usable goods, and we’re called dumpster divers. It’s unorthodox, but this hobby can be exciting and fruitful - sometimes literally! - if you give it a chance.
When you see how easy it is to pull crates of food, clothing or furniture out of a dumpster, think about what that says about our culture of appalling consumption and needless waste. If you’re entertaining the idea of recreational dumpster diving, keep in mind the grim social context in which this activity has blossomed. First, when you see how easy it is to pull crates of food, clothing or furniture out of a dumpster, think about what that says about our culture of appalling consumption and needless waste. Second, while dumpster diving can benefit both society and the individual, it should be a choice. We would be naïve to forget that the destitute sometimes
have to subsist off others’ waste. For these people, dumpster diving is a way of survival. For the rest of us, recreational dumpster diving is a privilege. The truth is that we don’t appreciate what we have. We carelessly discard food instead of taking the time to donate to the needy. We don’t use selfrestraint to keep from purchasing what we don’t need in the first place. This ties in to very real social, economic and environmental problems. One significant reason that people choose to dumpster dive is to counter this systemic diarrhea of our society (if you’re interested in that movement specifically, look into “freeganism.”) That said, the term “dumpster diving” is somewhat misleading. Dumpster diving need not be the notorious horror of rolling around face-first in used hygiene products. The fact is that it can be as clean or as raunchy as you make it. The act of “diving,” or getting bodily into a dumpster, can be helpful but is not necessary. Rather, peeking into the dumpster from the outside can be enough. Just push around the contents with a long stick or a gloved hand to see if anything useful lies within reach. If so, the item can usually be retrieved with the stick or the gloved hand. No diving necessary. In addition to gloves and/or a long poking object, a flashlight is helpful because dumpsters are dark. Also, night is the best time for dumpster diving because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Passers-by who are unfamiliar with dumpstering may hassle you or cause drama if you do it in the open, although if you want to promote dialogue then this may not be a bad thing. However, they may also mistakenly threaten to call the authorities. While going through others’ trash has been deemed legal in the United States by Supreme Court case California v. Greenwood, it can look suspicious to many segments of the population. Some cities may pass ordinances against it. In the unlikely event that there is a run-in with authority, the best course of action is to be compliant and straightforward about what you are doing. Leave if they ask you to. If you make sure not to attract unwanted attention and you don’t leave a mess, then this may all be avoided. Another misconception is that dumpstering means going through others’ personal trash or retrieving filth. This is what we typically think of as “trash,” but trash comes in many forms. Even Nashville’s popular recording artist Ke$ha reportedly wears or has worn clothing she finds in the garbage. The best dumpsters to target are not those containing the waste of individuals, but the dumpsters behind grocery Photo: Lily Sturmann stores or other retail locations. These
Photo: Lily Sturmann
places often throw away large batches of completely usable goods, bagged separately and uncontaminated by true garbage. Often these items are fine, but are tossed because of cosmetic flaw or the need for space in the store. So what can you expect to find if you dumpster around Nashville? A friend and I conducted some first-hand research, and the results were pleasantly amusing. In just one night, in no more than two hours, we found a beautiful poster of a Van Gogh painting, an entire toilet, assorted clothing items,
Another misconception is that dumpstering means going through others’ personal trash or retrieving filth. a plethora of academic notes, a small book on business school, hardware, cleaning implements, several lamps, a sizable amount of cardboard and plywood and an overwhelming amount of wooden and plastic shelving units. We repeated the trial, and on another (Continued on p. 7)
ORBIS • Page 7
Vanderbilt recognizes MLK with first Weekend of Service By Carol Chen Associate Editor
Instead of a day in class, Vanderbilt honored Martin Luther King Jr., Day with the Weekend of Service. Student leaders praised the idea of setting aside a day for service but commented upon the shortcomings of the inaugural year. The new Weekend of Service came from a special MLK committee and the Office of Active Citizenship and Service (OACS). There were 16 student groups partnering with 12 community organizations. 315 students participated for a total of 843 hours of service. Lilly Massa-McKinley, Assistant Director of OACS, and Charlotte Hassen, an AmeriCorps volunteer working with the office, purposely designed the day so that their role was minimized. They called themselves “facilitators” rather than mastermind organizers. The intention of having students take the lead in planning projects, said Massa-McKinley, was to spark the volunteering itch and allow student organizations to build relationships with community partners. Even though some of the projects were for one day only, campus groups were exposed to Nashville non-profits and students could try out new clubs. *** The diverse student organizations and two Commons houses that participated in the Weekend of Service reflected the day’s spirit of celebrating diversity. Some projects were directly related to the organization’s mission. Vanderbilt Initiative for Vegetarian Awareness (VIVA) worked on a community garden at the local Glencliff Comprehensive High School. It was a partnership with the Vanderbilt Veggie Project, which tackles obesity in lowincome children for whom eating fast food is cheaper and easier than eating fresh produce. Lower-income households do not have easy access to good, affordable food choices. Bad health and scanty health insurance only exacerbates economic hardship. Kids tend the gardens themselves. They learn the benefits of eating right as well as basic business skills. Volunteers were taught more about such garden initiatives and a group of 17 volunteers weeded and shoveled fertilizer. VIVA is currently pushing to establish a community garden on campus.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee saw a cornucopia of volunteers, with four student organizations sorting donated food. “The coordinator said he expected seven people,” said Yeon-Sil Yi, a brother of Phi Sigma Pi, an honor fraternity,
Williams hopes that student leaders and professors step up efforts to impress upon people the importance of MLK Day and its relevance to us now. “but there were more than forty. There was even an entire family there to volunteer.” Volunteering is not the focus for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), but they had an interesting experience anyway. Their original project proposal said, “we’re going to plant a tree somewhere.” Due to the cold weather, the idea did not pan out. Instead, they found several homeless men and a vendor of the homeless magazine, The Contributor, and gave them Chipotle and bags of toiletries. AIChE president Bruce Spencer was surprised that six people came to his unconventional project but that it was great to speak with the homeless practically on Vanderbilt’s doorstep. The three projects went to the heart of Dr. King’s message of equality. VIVA project leader and president Danielle Williams called the issues our society still faces a “segregation of opportunity.” The projects highlighted persistent handicaps of poverty, hunger, poor education and a host of social ills that prevent people from living up to their true potential. *** AIChE’s experience illustrates one weakness to the Weekend of Service: not enough time to plan. Spencer said his organization did not know about the Weekend of Service until November 3, whereas they started planning for the 9/11 Day of Service in July. It was partly the timing. The planning was during fall
finals and the day itself was right after winter break. It was right after Greek bid days. Both Lilly Massa-McKinley and Charlotte Hassen acknowledged these difficulties. The timing also made publicity challenging. Students reported that there was a rush to get posters and flyers out. Some people received many emails and others hardly any. Students mentioned knowing about the speakers for the weekend but not much about the service portion, or vice versa. Many found the relatively few students who actually participated in the Weekend of Service most dismaying. “My friends were saying they were going to do a service project with some organization, but I don’t think they did,” Yi said. Williams said she was “very disappointed in the level of student involvement” in general. Although she understood it was only the first year, Williams wished fewer people saw MLK Day as a convenient vacation. In the future, she hopes that student leaders and professors step up efforts to impress upon people the importance of MLK Day and its relevance to us now. However, all the students interviewed for this article expressed hope that next year’s Weekend of Service would run more smoothly and attract even more students. *** OACS has big dreams for MLK Day in the future. There is hope that the MLK Weekend of Service will be the spring semester complement to the 9/11 Day of Service and will continue relying on student organizations to take the lead in designing projects. “We found from similar ‘days of service’ that if we do the planning, it is just a day of service,” said Massa-McKinley. “But if student groups are involved, there’s more potential for them to develop long-term relationships with Nashville community organizations.” Hassen said that Second Harvest was a popular site for people from other universities observing MLK Day as well. Students from Lipscomb University and Belmont University also participated. Hassen imagines students in future years being able to sign up for projects with students from other schools in a city-wide collaboration. MLK Day’s Weekend of Service will be back and as Spencer said, “keep doing it and the kinks will work themselves out.”
From p. 6, dumpster diving night found Mardi Gras beads, several decorative and perfectly usable plastic drinking cups, a full-sized rug in need of mild cleaning and a portable black-andwhite TV. We also found an entire Tofurkey. A college campus is a notable exception to the rule that you can find better trash at retail than at residential locations. College students often cannot hold on to large items when they move across the country at the end of a semester and do not hesitate to throw out nearly-new furniture and other such items by the truckload. These usable goods are not often enough salvaged by dumpster divers but ultimately go to a landfill. We can fill this void. It should be noted, however, that college dumpsters
are much more likely to contain appliances than retrievable food. For food dumpstering, you’ll probably find more success off campus. Dumpster diving is a place to start for those interested in reducing our harmful landslide of waste, or in promoting a society that thinks twice before it throws out tons of edible food. So many still go hungry. It might also save you a few dollars, and can be a fun conversation starter. If you’re interested in finding out more about dumpster diving, check out these resources: Websites: http://freegan.info/ - Information on freeganism.
http://www.travelblogs.com/articles/dumpsterdiving - Goes through a lot of the basics with “10 Tips on How to Get Started as a Dumpster Diver.” http://ranprieur.com/misc/dumpster.html Answers common questions about dumpster diving specifically for food. http://www.emoware.org/dumpster-diving/ - A cool site exploring several aspects of dumpster diving. Books: “The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving” by John Hoffman Films: “Dive! Living Off America’s Waste”
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The Edgy Vedgy: VIVA la Vegetarianism! By Sarah O’Brien LIFESTYLE COLUMNIST
Welcome back, all of my fellow Vandy veg and nonveg students! I hope you all had an amazing winter break filled with delicious vegetarian and vegan food; I know I definitely did. Let’s use full disclosure to discuss an important campus organization: as of this semester, I am copresident of the Vanderbilt Initiative for Vegetarian Awareness. For those of you who are not familiar with VIVA, it is our campus vegetarian group -- and we’ve accomplished a lot in the past two years. We’ve got a pretty open-ended mission statement: “Vanderbilt Initiative for Vegetarian Awareness exists for the promotion and dissemination of information relating to a vegetarian/vegan diet, its ethics, and related issues. VIVA advocates a vegetarian lifestyle and the benefits derived thereof which include the positive effect on human health, avoidance of animal suffering, and an improvement of our planetary environment. V.I.V.A. strives to educate the Vanderbilt community on the critical problems a meat-based diet creates and offers positive, intelligent, and healthy alternatives through a vegetarian diet.” So what do we exist to do? Anything we can think of. We’ve screened films, including the hit documenta-
ry Food, Inc., we’ve designed and completed a number of service projects, distributed an astonishing volume of flyers and baked goods, we’re planning a book discussion group. Maybe most importantly, we provide a place for vegetarians to network, make friends and get
We have big plans for this semester. We’re working on another large-scale screening in Sarratt Cinema, new service projects, a cooperative cooking program, a VIVA guide to dorm recipes and a community garden. informed about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. And that’s only the beginning. My co-president Julie Kvedar and I have big plans for this semester. We’re working on another large-scale screening in Sarratt Cinema, new service projects, a cooperative cooking program, a VIVA guide to dorm recipes, and a
community garden. We’ve also had a great ongoing conversation with Camp Howard, the head of Vanderbilt dining, who has been extremely understanding and accommodating of the vegetarian and vegan presence on campus. We have already seen an increase of vegetarian and vegan options in the Munchie Marts and some of the dining halls. In addition, we have secured an all-vegetarian dinner at Rand to help educate vegetarian and nonvegetarian students on campus while eating some delicious food. Hopefully this has got some of you just as excited as me to come to a meeting or participate in some of the activities we have planned for Vanderbilt and the Nashville community. I also encourage you to stop by a meeting, even if you’re just interested in vegetarianism. We currently meet on the first and third Tuesdays of every month in Sarratt at 7:30 p.m., in Sarratt 208. If you would like to be a part of VIVA, are interested in becoming a vegetarian or vegan, or if you just want to stop by we always welcome everyone at our meetings or join our Facebook group to receive messages about VIVA information. Till next time, keep living meaningfully. Sarah O’Brian is a Sophomore blogger, health maven and the only vegan student athlete on the Vanderbilt sports roster. Read her blog at theedgyvedgy.blogspot.com
Orbis recommends: this month in music
The Get Up Kids “There Are Rules” January 25, 2011 Quality Hill Records With “There Are Rules,” The Get Up Kids return with their first full-length album since 2004. It presents a mix of sounds: some tracks featuring synthesizers, a new direction for the band, and some sticking to basic instruments with a classic The Get Up Kids sound. And though the music is somewhat just The Get Up Kids we’ve always known, it still promises to be better than most of 2011’s new music.
Vanilla Ice “WTF (Wisdom, Tenacity and Focus” January 31, 2011, StandBY Records Alright, stop. Collaborate and listen. Ice is back with a brand new invention... and it features the Insane Clown Posse, so you know it’s going to be good. According to Ice, it will span several genres including hip hop, acoustic, country, hardcore punk and techno. The new record promises to be amazingly bad, so pick it up as soon as you can. Word, to your mother.
Garfunkel and Oates TBD Though no details have been released about the album, it is set to be released in early 2011. Garfunkel and Oates are back with another full-length that promises to delight anyone with a love of musical comedy. This promises to be a good year for the duo who wrote the amazing “This Party Took A Turn for the Douche”: their album is highly-anticipated and they just signed a deal with HBO to have their own show.
Arts & entertainment
ORBIS • Page 9
“Soy Cuba” speaks to historical, contemporary issues By Maria Ochoa STAFF WRITER
The International Lens Film Series screened Soy Cuba on Jan. 19 in Sarratt Cinema. Visit vanderbilt.edu/internationallens for a list of future showings. Filmed during the Cuban Missile Crisis and not released in the United States until 1993, Soy Cuba paints a picture of the Cuban working class and its struggles before the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Through vignettes, the filmmakers tell the story of the Cuban Revolution from four different perspectives. There emerges a clear progression from a Cuba that is submissive to the oppressive Batista regime to a Cuba that learns to fight back. While clearly biased (after all, the new Cuban regime and the Soviet Union financed the production during the Cold War), the feelings and insight that the film evokes are so strong that they transcend geographic and time barriers. Every element works together to evoke sympathy from the audience. Its innovative and entrancing cinematography, a creation of acclaimed Russian cameraman Sergei Urusevsky, highlights unusual angles and shaky movements that reflect the despair of the Cuban people during each vignette. This element alone made it worthy of the International Lens Film Series. It is a film that effortlessly transports the audience to the minds and lives of 1959 working-class Cuba through its mesmerizing techniques and images. During the first vignette, we see the American presence in a Cuban nightclub. While the escorts are mostly Cuban, the clientele is American. The three men on whom the vignette focuses are condescending but a bit sympathetic. One of them takes Maria, one of the escorts, back to his shack and pays her to take her virginity and to keep her crucifix. Although seemingly uncomfortable, Maria accepts. On the next vignette, the film takes us somewhere entirely different. In the countryside, a farmer is harvesting his crops of sugarcane with
his two children when a white man (clearly part of the elite) appears on the scene and unsympathetically informs him that he has sold his land to United Fruit Company. Furious with losing the work for which he spilled his sweat, the farmer burns his crops after the white man leaves. The third vignette tells the story of a group
of young revolutionaries who, unhappy with the island’s economic injustices, endorse Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement. While they initially attempt to protest peacefully through leaflets and rallies, their efforts turn violent due to the oppressive authorities that silence them through force. Several of the young men are shot down by the authorities. On the last vignette, a peaceful farmer lives
with his wife in the Western Mountains. When a man comes into his humble shack and urges him to join the revolution, he declines and runs the man out of his house. Moments later, Batista-endorsed airplanes bomb his farm and the surrounding area. Although the farmer, his wife and their three children attempt to run away unscathed, his youngest child dies in front of him. The farmer then leaves his family to join the Revolution. The film ends with the Castro Army marching past the mountains to fight for the rights of the people on the island. In addition, America’s characterization as “The Villain” who controls the evil Cuban elite gives the audience a new perspective on American foreign policy in the mid-twentieth century. It presents a force to condemn as it oppresses the underprivileged. In the beginning, the Americans are condescending toward the young Cuban ladies at the Club; on the next vignette, United Fruit Company rips away the hard-earned work of an old farmer; directly after that, one of the young revolutionaries rescues a young Cuban woman from the harassing paws of American sailors. There was a moment that struck me in the final vignette. When the unknown man approaches the young farmer to convince him to join the Revolution, the farmer angrily responds, “These hands were not meant to kill, they were meant to sow.” Seconds later, the airplanes bomb his house and kill his son. When we see the farmer handling a rifle, the female voiceover reveals the reality of the Cuban Revolution: a rise in arms would sow the new Cuba. This film presents a strong critique on American Imperialism. While America regarded the Spanish-American War as “A Splendid Little War,” its resulting Platt Amendment, even after it was repealed in 1940, continued to oppress Cuban sugar farmers well into the 1950s. And although it’s a historical piece, this film relates to American society today by criticizing its old exploits in developing nations and making us reflect on the exploits of the present and future.
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Page 10 • ORBIS
The good neighbors: New models of economic development
By Jon Christian Editor-in-chief
Buena Vista Heigh ts is a wreck . Dilapi dated bothouse s are reposs essed or bough t for rock pretom prices by prope rty prospe ctors. The o o d , d o m i n a n t l y A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n n e i g h b o rh the which is a 10-min ute drive from campu s, is kind of place where the elderl y hide behindt locked doors and young people leave withou lookin g back. E n t e r J o h a n We s t e n b u rg , a s t u d e n t w i t h Vande rbilt’s Gradu ate Progra m for Econoi umic , D e v e l o p m e n t . A n a t i v e o f B ru g e s , B e l g m Weste nburg was self-em ployed at a designrer clothin g line before he decide d to get his maste ’sdegree with the Vande rbilt Econo mics depart his ment. He dashes rather than walks , brushe s has long hair out of his eyes when he speaks and made it his projec t to allevia te povert y by building a long term conne ction betwe en Vande.rbilt and the Buena Vista Heigh ts neighb orhood it’s “I’m milkin g my midlif e crisis for all worth ,” he said with a laugh. He first becam e intere sted in Buena Vista in Heigh ts when he was lookin g at a prope rty the neighb orhood . It’s clear that he fell in love
with the period archit ecture and narrow streets , stacca to foliag e and high groun d elevat ion. ng “Look at those windo ws,” he said, pointi out a house with a shallo w roof pitch and windows under the eves. “It’s like an eyebro w.” He and his partne r also consid ered buying before finally rejecti ng the purch ase - a forebo ding ex-ind ustria l cinder block struct ure which g may be a contam inated brown site. Talkin about the renova tions the place would have neede d, he still sound s a little wistfu l that they decide d agains t it. Weste nburg ’s respec t for the neighb orhood ’t has grown to includ e the people . If he doesn uces know someb ody on the street, he introd by a himse lf with a warm hands hake. We stop cincorner marke t — a hand- painte d sign on the s” derblo ck exterio r advert ises the “world famou Gus Burge r — and he greets everyb ody inside by name. Weste nburg has worke d tireles sly with the Gradu ate Progra m for Econo mic Develo pment to develo p Vande rbilt’s presen ce in the Buena Vista neighb orhood . The idea behind their work is basica lly that throw ing money at a proble m isn’t enoug h to solve it. Instea d, they’r e workts ing to fight povert y in Buena Vista Heigh a w i t h a l o n g - t e r m c o m m i t m e n t t o b u i l d 11 Contin ued on pg.
January 2011 Vanderbilt presence there. “Top-down economic policy is, in my mind, completely useless,” Westenburg said. “You have to march into a neighborhood and tell people that these programs are available.” The philosophy is simple, but Westenburg believes it is powerful enough to change the entire way we look at economic development and how to confront poverty. To that end, students in the Graduate Program for Economic Development have been careful to assess the needs of the Buena Vista Heights community in order to provide services that people will really use. They’ve organized collaborations with the Meharry-Vanderbilt Student Alliance to assess the medical needs of the community, and with Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility to gather data on energy use which will be used to increase the efficiency of homes in the neighborhood. And of course, like Westenburg, they’ve spent time on the ground getting to know the place and the people, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the community and deciding how best to allocate Vanderbilt’s resources. Westenburg becomes thoughtful as we head up 18th Avenue, passing foreclosed and condemned homes. He believes that the very way economists look at social problems is in a state of flux, as old neoliberal ideas are replaced by the subtleties of microloans, education and new ways of collecting data. “A lot of these economic theories that were dominant for the last 20 years are coming under scrutiny again,” Westenburg said. He contrasts well-established economic theories with emerging, progressive
“Top-down economic policy is, in my mind, completely useless,” Westenburg said. “You have to march into a neighborhood and tell people that these programs are available.” ones and argues that the praxis of economic work benefits from the ongoing conversation between the two. “What I like about Vanderbilt is that we’re right in the middle,” he said. Westenburg and his associates are inspired by the similar service work Vanderbilt has committed to in Edgehill, but they are conscious of the developmental pitfalls that threaten an area like Buena Vista Heights. Already, Westenburg explains, realtors and property prospectors have started to buy up homes for dirtcheap prices — evidenced by the bright yellow signs on the street corners that advertise cash payments for real estate. Development can help a community, of course, if it’s done right. Grocery stores have started to open in North Nashville, which has helped improve nutrition
FEATUREs in a notorious food desert. But you can hear the anger in Westenburg’s voice when he shares his worst fear for the neighborhood: that property prospectors will buy up inexpensive properties as the aging population of Buena Vista Heights dies off, turning a quick profit when the area is developed into strip malls and fast food chains. “The reason I’m so concerned about this neighborhood is that they have an aging population, with lots of empty houses, lots of property that’s abandoned or getting repossessed because of nonpayment of taxes,” Westenburg said. “So what happens? If the people in the neighborhood don’t control their own neighborhood, other people come in and take control.” Westenburg has worked with Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility to go door to door introducing themselves to residents and discussing ways to save electricity costs by using energy efficient bulbs, fewer electric heaters and better insulation. Karen White, a senior in the College of Arts and Science, is the president of Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility. In addition to their ongoing energy work, White is interested in working with Vanderbilt’s Office of Active Citizenship & Service to bring the Nashville Mobile Market, a service project that provides fresh produce to food desert communities, into Buena Vista Heights in addition to Edgehill. Like Westenburg, White is committed to building connections with people in the neighborhood and helping them navigate the social services that are available. “I ran into a woman who has a single-family home who said ‘I’ve done everything I can, I’ve caulked the windows, and my energy bill is still $540.’ She said, ‘I need new windows, and I don’t know how to finance them.’ She was very skeptical about the programs that are out there,” said White. “Are they going to be reliant on credit? Can she get one of these low-interest loans?” One of Westenburg’s key contacts in the neighborhood has been Henry Lindsay, a member of the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association who has lived in the neighborhood since 1962. After serving in the military during the Korean War, he had a successful career and eventually established significant property holdings in the neighborhood. He now owns seven local properties, which he jokingly calls “Lindsay Lane.” But as well as anyone, Lindsay appreciates the sheer magnitude of the challenges that face a disad-
ORBIS • Page 11 vantaged community like Buena Vista Heights - as well he should: during his time in the neighborhood, he has lived through chaos. Once, a neighbor took shelter in his house after an episode of domestic violence. Before the police arrived, the neighbor’s husband came to Lindsay’s home and menaced him with a machete, forcing him to keep the man at bay with a handgun. At 75, all Lindsay really wants is to secure the futures of his children and grandchildren. But now he worries that the culture of poverty in Buena Vista Heights will take away even that dream. Maybe that’s why he and the rest of the aging Buena Vista Neighborhood Association have worked so closely with Graduate Program for Economic Development to establish a permanent Vanderbilt presence in Buena Vista Heights. “You know, the people that you want to give [resources] to, sometimes they don’t have the head for it,” Lindsay said. “That’s the problem, you’ve got to find that one. You have to be around them that much.” And he has every right to be concerned. Kids growing up in the decay of Buena Vista Heights don’t want to stick around — and between prison, employment elsewhere or just drifting away, they don’t. That’s what Westenburg wants to change. White and Westenburg are too modest to admit it, but one of the most daunting barriers to an ongoing connection between Vanderbilt and North Nashville is the fact that most Vanderbilt students aren’t as fearless as they are. The privileged undergraduate student body is plagued by misconceptions about crime and poverty in Nashville, and are often afraid to travel in neighborhoods like Buena Vista Heights. Westenburg hopes that ongoing service in North Nashville will assuage some of those fears and even build a culture where students take advantage of the cheap and accessible housing available in neighborhoods like Buena Vista Heights. In any case, watching Westenburg laugh and joke with residents of Buena Vista puts the lie to the idea that education or privilege prevent us from building connections with people from very different backgrounds. And that’s why they maintain hope for the neighborhood, and fight for it every day. “If Vanderbilt has the opportunity to be a constructive part of the unification of a neighborhood, then so much the better,” Westenburg said. “It’s a good thing.”
But as well as anyone, Lindsay appreciates the sheer magnitude of the challenges that face a disadvantaged community like Buena Vista Heights.
Like Westenburg, White is committed to building connections with people in the neighborhood and helping them navigate the social services that are available.
Page 12 • ORBIS
By Meghan O’Neill Features EDITOR
The internet has thrived under net neutrality
Photo: Wiki Commons (modified)
We can’t afford to be neutral on net neutrality By Meghan O’Neill features editor
Net neutrality is a basic guiding principle of the Internet: everyone has equal access to all content. You pay money to an Internet service provider (ISP) and you get equal access to all of the Internet’s content, in some cases only to legal content. To date, net neutrality has been an unwritten “law of the land” on the Internet, but all of that could be changing very soon. While some are fighting to make net neutrality a law, others are vehemently speaking out against it. The fight against net neutrality is basically a ploy by Internet service providers to make more money by the truckload. These service providers could make extra money in three major ways: charging consumers extra for visiting certain sites or using a certain amount of bandwidth; charging consumers more for visiting sites owned by competitors in order to increase traffic on their own websites and raise ad revenues; and charging websites extra in order to be a “basic site” available to consumers without extra fees. But it has deeper implications than just how much money the service providers make: it could potentially lead to censorship. Allowing Internet service providers to pick and choose what Internet content they provide not only will allow them to censor any websites that they deem inappropriate but would also leave room for the government to fine providers who give access to sites such as WikiLeaks. Furthermore, allowing them to charge based on content would encourage them to actively monitor the online activities of each consumer, taking away anonymity and thus the ability of the Internet to encourage discourse and democracy. Big business proponents say that people advocating net neutrality legislation are trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist: service providers aren’t
looking to change the way that they provide their services — they like the way things are. Tell that to Time Warner, an Internet service provider that tried to do exactly that in January 2008. In certain cities across the country, they announced that they would be switching from flat-fee services to data rates, offering packages of 10GB, 20GB, 40GB and 60GB, charging $1 per extra GB, with an overage cap of $75. Due to enormous public outrage, Time Warner had to abandon the plan in early 2009.
Big business proponents say that no one is challenging net neutrality... but tell that to Time Warner, which tried to do exactly that. So far, proposed legislation guaranteeing net neutrality has failed to pass in Congress five times in the last six years. Opponents of net neutrality, namely Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, Comcast and Qwest, lobbied with $218 million and gave $23.7 million in campaign contributions to key Republicans between 2006-2008 to ensure this result. Opponents to net neutrality are numerous. Some service providers say that it would hinder their ability to utilize “fair queuing,” a practice in which they prioritize the transmission of information based on bandwidth usage and other characteristics, in order to make sure each customer’s internet runs as smoothly as possible. Others say that net neutrality would discourage innovation in fiber-optic technology, since companies
would have no incentive to improve their product if they can’t charge customers more to use it. Executives at AT&T have gone as far as to suggest that they should have the right to charge websites like YouTube, since they use considerable bandwidth in the telecommunications structures that the Internet service providers funded themselves. In some sense, I can see their point. A free and open Internet gives everyone the ability to stream a ton of information: we can watch videos on Hulu while downloading torrents, trolling our favorite websites and updating our Facebook profiles. It’s great for us right now, but we are fast-approaching America’s bandwidth limit. When service providers began laying out networks to connect people to the Internet decades ago, they never foresaw how quickly and exponentially our bandwidth use would grow. The networks are outdated and we could soon find ourselves with a conundrum: a slow-moving Internet. Personally, the idea of a non-neutral Internet enrages me (nerd rage!). I don’t need an Internet service provider telling me which sites I can visit and which I can’t. I think companies saying that net neutrality discourages bandwidth innovation and expansion is absurd. It is their job to make sure that their customers have the necessary bandwidth, and net neutrality did not stop them from laying down the telecommunications systems in the first place. Increasing bandwidth would be a large investment for them, but it would certainly pay off in the long-run. On the other hand, I can see where companies are coming from when they say that fair-queuing is a necessary intrusion. The best solution is for Congress to pass a law that ensures net neutrality except in cases of fair queuing. The point of the Internet is that I can access anything I want to. It’s equal, it’s socialist, and I love it. To learn more about what you can do to help preserve net neutrality, go to savetheinternet.com.
ORBIS • Page 13
Vanderbilt: not as apathetic as we appear By Aimee Sobhani Commentary EDITOR
Looking at Vanderbilt students from the outside, someone could easily make a couple of negative assumptions about us: we’re a bunch of spoiled rich kids who care about nothing but designer clothes and have a propensity for drinking and day-fratting. While this stereotype (unfortunately) might hold true for some members of the Vanderbilt community, it dramatically oversimplifies the student body and overlooks a key fact: Vanderbilt students actually care about a variety of causes and are more than willing to devote time and effort to them. One of the first things prospective students hear on a Vanderbilt tour is that we have over three hundred organizations on campus. Given the size of our campus, that’s a pretty impressive figure. Of course, what’s even more impressive is the scope of the organizations on campus; we’ve got everything from the Turkish Student Association to Investment Club. If a Vanderbilt student has a passion, it’s likely that there is a club on campus that supports that passion. An even better representation of student involvement on campus comes from the massive communityoriented initiatives that many student organizations undertake. This year, Alternative Spring Break (ASB) will send 440 students to 37 sites across the country to help those in need, and the other service-oriented break groups can also boast a strong following. It takes a lot to sacrifice a week of freedom and relaxation to do community service, but many Vanderbilt students are willing to do just that (I admire this as someone who prefers to spend her breaks lying around and watching TV). Other widespread service initiatives are notable
as well. This year, Vanderbilt OACS hosted its first Weekends of Service for 9/11 and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There were 48 student organizations that created service projects for the 9/11 Weekend of Service, and 16 student organizations created projects for the MLK Day Weekend of Service that attracted over 300 volunteers. Given that the event took place the first week of school and right after Greek rush, I’d say that’s a pretty decent showing. Impressive instances of student activism for important issues must be noted as well. Vanderbilt students
Vanderbilt students care. We care about helping others and voicing our opinions on the important issues of the day. We want to reach beyond the “Vanderbubble” and even beyond our country’s borders. have recently banded together in large numbers to advocate for a living wage for Vanderbilt’s workers and to support the DREAM Act. Anyone who attended VSG’s meetings concerning the endorsement of the DREAM Act had to be struck by the passionate voices on both sides of the argument. Of course, we shouldn’t forget the student activism that led to Vanderbilt calling off school on MLK
Vanderbilt students work in the community for the university’s first Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service.
Day for the first time so that students could reflect on the legacy of Dr. King. Vanderbilt students step in during times of crisis as well, raising money for earthquake-stricken Haiti and Chile and to alleviate the suffering caused from extensive flooding in Pakistan. Students even volunteered to help after the “Nashville Flood,” even though it occurred right in the middle of finals. Many Vanderbilt students continue this tradition of service once they graduate. Students serve in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps after finishing their undergraduate careers, and over 30 Vanderbilt students have joined Teach for America this year. This laundry list of examples of student involvement clearly shows that Vanderbilt students care. We care about helping others and voicing our opinions on the important issues of the day. We want to reach beyond the “Vanderbubble” and even beyond our country’s borders. This isn’t to say that all Vanderbilt students are service-oriented individuals who donate their entire existence to helping others in need. Many of us find time to devote to community service while maintaining our GPAs, being sorority or fraternity members and having fun with our friends. Balance: that’s the great thing about Vanderbilt. While students can choose to focus heavily on one aspect of their lives, most of the time, they don’t have to. The Huffington Post recently ranked Vanderbilt number nine on its top-ten schools for ambitious students, and this sheer ambition manifests itself in the amount of social, academic and extracurricular activities to which Vanderbilt students commit themselves. Vanderbilt students are far from apathetic; it’s just the ability to manage all of the obligations without breaking a sweat, while still having time for a beer, that makes us look that way.
Photo: Danielle Williams
Page 14 • ORBIS
Tucson: look for nuance, not responsibility By Andri Alexandrou Editorial Staff
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, we would all like to mourn the lives lost that day. May families of those killed find peace in the face of such calamity. But as Gabrielle Giffords begins to recover, the tragedy has been overcome with a political furor over gun control and the violent imagery that politicians and pundits use in their rhetoric. As Jared Loughner waits in an Arizona jail cell, the FBI is circling around his home and his family, trying to determine what
Some argue this time should be spent honoring those who died, not hashing over the event in order to gain political points - and to a certain extent, they are right. drove him to such a terrible act. The pundits have already weighed in, of course. Some argue that Loughner behaved as an individual criminal and is the only party responsible for his actions. For others, the cause of Loughner’s crimes came as a result of public figures, like Sarah Palin, elevating the level of anger in their language to the breaking point. Palin used gun crosshairs in a campaign graphic to single out House districts with representatives unfriendly to her political leanings. What is the proper way to act in a time like this? Some argue this time should be spent honoring those who died, not hashing over the event in order to gain political points - and to a certain extent, they are right. We may never completely understand what went on in Loughner’s head or be able to allocate precise responsibility. But there are also lessons that we would do well to take to heart. While the shooting took place at a political rally, Laughner was most likely driven by a combination of mental illness and political anger, enabled by relaxed gun laws. And there may be other factors that we don’t know about, which may never come to light. But was the event just an anomaly in a mostly-
functional American democracy? What we should pay attention to is what sort of muck boils up during times of heated turmoil. This may represent what’s wrong with America more than the shooting itself - a sloppy, violent and vapid political rhetoric that stokes emotional rage more than it encourages rational progress. As President Obama said in his speech at the University of Arizona, we should remember those fallen “rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame.” And yet we seldom act as we would like, and in our moments of weakness, we expose who we truly are. At best, we are confused. In Palin’s now-notorious “blood libel” video, she warns against talking heads using the tragedy to forward their own political beliefs. This would have been a lovely message if she had not gone on to do just that. Both political parties are guilty of the same duplicity, though. Republicans want the government out of their wallets and their gun racks, yet they seem to think they have a right to say what goes on in my uterus. Democrats cried for change, yet were ultimately incapable of uniting the public to bring it about. Nothing is clean cut in politics, and neither are the ramifications of this shooting. We must learn to address each issue with the attention it deserves. Everything has its own nuance and history. No single
In Palin’s now-notorious “blood libel” video, she warns against talking heads using the tragedy to forward their own political beliefs. This would have been a lovely message if she had not gone on to do just that. grand morality can produce a political ideology that will always create the desired outcome, even within right- or left-leaning philosophy. When the nation comes to understand that, we’ll have some real progress.
ORBIS • Page 15
Don’t use a tragic event for political gain By Hirak Pati staff writer
Declaring a momentary truce in political warfare after the bloodbath in Tucson would have been the prudent course for both parties to take. Sadly, both Republicans and Democrats hav e s e ize d o n the trage dy as an o p p o rtunity to engage in more squabbling ahead of the 2012 elections. Rather than toning down the political rhetoric, the two parties have ramped it up in light of this crisis as Representative Gabrielle Giffords continues to make a slow recovery after b e ing s ho t in the he ad. De mo c rats hav e s aid Jare d Lo ughne r, the as s as sin, was primarily motivated by the Tea Party and Sarah Palin’s map of vulnerable Democrats t a rg e t i n g G i ff o rd ’ s d i s t r i c t w i t h c ro s s h a i r s . P alin, fo r he r p art, has de fe nde d he r ac tio ns and w o rds during the midte rm e le c tio ns b y de s c rib ing the p o litic al attac ks as “b lo o d lib e l.” While there is no doubt that Gifford’s office was vandalized by opponents of the health-care bill and many other Congressmen and women have faced threats of violence, it is equally clear that Lo ughne r w as no t mo tiv ate d b y s uc h e p isodes of political fervor. Loughner ’s best friend, Zach Osner, said that Loughner believed in conspiracies as far-fetched as N ASA faking s p ac e flights , the 2012 ap o c alypse and the idea that the government uses g r a m m a r t o e x e rc i s e m i n d c o n t ro l . H o w e v e r, Lo ughne r did no t w atc h the ne w s o r lis te n to
Loughner’s best friend, Zach Osner, said that Loughner believed in conspiracies as farfetched as NASA faking space flights and the 2012 apocalypse. the radio very often, which weakens the claim that the Te a P arty and Sarah P alin influe nc e d his ac tio ns in a s ignific ant w ay. Vo ting re c o rds s ho w that he w as an inde p e ndent voter who voted in the elections in 2006 and 2008 but not in 2010. And the fact that he didn’t consistently vote conservative further
disputes the claim that he was acting as an agent of th e Tea Par ty wh en h e committed th is h einous cr ime. T h e re w e re f a i l u re s a t a m u c h m o re l o c a l level as well. Pima Community College, which Loughner attended for a short period of time,
Had Loughner followed the college’s recommendations and decided to seek professional help, the tragedy in Tucson could have been avoided entirely. asked him to withdr aw af ter he ref used to undergo a mental h ealth evaluation. A teacher an d studen t also said th at they th ough t Loughn er would have the poten tial to be involved in a sch ool sh ootin g. Part of the reason for his suspension i n c l u d e d t h e d i s t u r b i n g Yo u Tu b e v i d e o t h a t Loughner posted which suggested that the college was illegal under the US Constitution. Had Loughner followed the college’s recommendations and decided to seek professional h e l p , t h e t r a g e d y i n Tu c s o n c o u l d h a v e b e e n a v o i d e d e n t i r e l y. The media, as well as both Democrats and Republicans, blew the political identity of Loughner out of proportion. While the media jumped at the chance to create controversy for th eir TV r atings, the political par ties saw it as an opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy. The political climate has grown so poisonous in th e last two year s th at a bipar tisan agreement to mour n as a collective group of A mer icans an d forget about politics for a brief moment can not be reached. And while fingers have been pointed at Democrats for causing this controversy in the f ir st place, th e Tea Par ty an d Sar ah Palin must also be blamed f or usin g remar ks such as “blood libel” to keep the focus on themselves rather th an th e victims wh o deser ve respect. If our political parties can not show bipartisanship in a moment like this, I question how they are goin g to get an yth ing done at all in the next two year s to h elp our coun tr y.
Page 16 • ORBIS
THE FLIP SIDE
Feeling blue from post-rush squalor?
In need of a place to show off your pneumonia-short dresses?
Still looking for that social judgment high?
Or do you want to get away from everything, and out of the Vandy bubble?
This is Music City. Several venues are close to campus and put on good music at good prices. Try the Exit/In: Tues, Feb 1: Yo La Tengo $17 or $20 at the door Sat, Feb 5: Tokyo Police Club $15 or $20 at the door Wed, Feb 10: Less Than Jake $17 or $19 at the door Thurs, Feb 17: Save WRVU Benefit $5 Or The End, usually for $5: Fri, Jan 28: The Smith Westerns Wed, Feb 2: Pujol Tues, Feb 8: Darwin Deez
Thrift clothing shopping is often the best way to be at
the forefront of fashion. Style gets recycled over the years, and here you’ll find those pieces before they hit department stores (and for much less.) You can take risks more easily, or even start your own trend. Get thrifting! Here are some places close by campus. Clothing Xchange 1817 21st Ave S (615) 463-0209 Unique Thrift Store 4802 Charlotte Pike (615) 460-0022 Hip Zipper Vintage Clothiers 112 11th St South (615) 228-1942 Goodwill 919 8th Ave S (615) 346-1249
Keep reading for more Nashville hot spots. Music, dining, partying, shopping and watching. It’s all here.