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February 3,  2011

ENVIRONMENT: More classes planned  page 1

LAZAR Thomas Helmers  ‘‘12  and  Robert  ‘‘Conor’’  Holton-­Burke  ‘‘12,  the  Phi  Philanthropy  Chair,  walk  up  the  front  steps  to  North  Hall  to   drop  off  one  of  the  many  Food  Bank  bins  they  distributed  across  campus  Monday  night.    

I can see where it would be somewhat hard to make specific classes. Since the major is so broad, they don’t really have one department to connect with,” said Bernstein. Snow also spoke of the shortage in the environmental humanities department. “This is something we’re working on. Environmental humanities is becoming a popular focus within the major,” he said. Snow said that there is some good news for environmental humanities students: a new professor has been hired for next year. With this new professor comes three new courses that can be applied across the major. The growth within the faculty matches growth within the number of students in the major. According to Snow, the number of environmental studies majors has doubled within the last 10 years. He also believes that the increase in popularity has a cause. “I think there is more interest in the department because there is more interest in the environment in general. As

time goes on, it will be a more popular subject,” said Snow. He remains optimistic about changes within the department. “There’s forward motion,” he said. Bernstein hopes that this growth will

This is something we’re working on. Environmental humanities is becoming a popular focus in the major. -­Don Snow  ,  Senior  Lecturer  of  Environmental    Humanities

be a catalyst for more classes. “I’m looking forward to more classes. I’m optimistic that the faculty will see that more students are wanting this major and so the department will keep growing. Maybe I’m being idealistic and naive, but I think that even if the situation isn’t optimal now, we’re moving in the right direction.”

Food drive helps meet high demand for food assistance by SHELLY LE Staff Reporter

In the last six months, food banks in the Walla Walla area have given out more than 493,000 pounds of food to over 5,000 families. As the unemployment rate in Walla Walla has risen to 6.6 percent, more and more families have struggled to meet their food needs, stretching local food banks to their limits. Whitman College’s annual Food Drive, sponsored by Phi Delta Theta and the Student Engagement Center, is helping to combat this recent rise in hunger and unemployment in the community. Running Feb. 1 - 7, the food drive benefits Walla Walla’s Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC), which distributes food to local food banks. Donation bins will be located in every residence hall, the fraternities, Reid Campus Center and Penrose Library. Suggested donation items include canned vegetables and fruit, pasta, cereal and rice. According to Kate Rambo, manager of The Pantry Shelf Food Bank, canned soup and beans are in high demand. “Right now we’re running low,” she said. “A lot of people are interested in eating [these items] during the winter, and sometimes we just don’t have enough.” Demand for food is often highest during the winter months, but overall need has risen dramatically in recent years. “I have been here for 17 years and I have never seen the need for help at this level,” said Gail McGhee, manager of the BMAC food bank. “The lack of jobs has put a strain on not only the local food banks, but people requesting help for other things such as rental assistance, energy help and help with school needs [has also increased]. There are kids in the elementary schools that don’t even have coats for winter.”

Food donations flood in during the holiday season, but tend to slow down afterward. “We’ve been really lucky,” said Rambo. “We’ve had a very steady supply of donations, mostly after the holidays, but we run low afterward mostly because everyone donates during Christmas.” Many food banks see an increase in

clients towards the end of the month because food stamps and other forms of public assistance run out. However, Rambo has seen increasingly high demand for food throughout the month. “We used to have a very quiet beginning of the month, but now it’s busy all the time,” she said. The Pantry Shelf and other food banks receive state and federal money to provide food, but clients have to meet income guidelines to receive it. Despite these measures, Rambo said they never turn away anyone who walks in.

the Pioneer

“The food we get from food drives we can give to people that don’t technically apply for food assistance,” she said. “Then we have enough food to give to everyone that comes in.” This year’s annual food drive has revamped to keep up with the rising hunger demands in Walla Walla. Phi Delta Theta has stepped up to sponsor the drive, hoping that with more manpower and publicity, the drive can bring in more food than in past years. “It’s a worthy goal to help the less fortunate, “ said Conor Holton-Burke, Philanthropy Chair for the Phi Delta Thetas. “Last year, no [fraternity] stepped up as much, and we feel that we can make it good if there’s extra manpower.” The generosity of the community has helped Walla Walla’s hunger needs remain more stable than most areas of Washington. “This year, I learned that in Spokane, people are only allowed to visit food donation centers only once in three months because they are so low on supplies,” said Rambo. In contrast, Walla Walla’s three food banks--The Pantry Shelf, St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army--each allow people to get food once every 30 days. LAZAR “We are able to meet a good job of meeting people’s hunger here,” said Rambo. McGhee hopes that food drives like Whitman’s will continue for the sake of educating others on hunger needs and helping those less fortunate meet their needs. “You can’t see hunger, so some folks don’t realize the need in Walla Walla,” she said. “Educating people is one of the best remedies I know of to let people know this need. Thanks to Whitman College and other schools in our area, the word is slowly getting out.”

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Duck Myths Duck rape, population control, the heating of Lakum Duckum—Feature investigates these myths and more. page 5

Graduation Op-­Ed

Pizza Comparison

Columnist Tristan Grau believes walking during commencement should be voluntary. page 7

A&E writer Sean McNulty explores Walla Walla pizza options. page 4

WHITMAN COLLEGE Walla Walla, WA Volume CXXVII Issue 2 F , 

Yearbook funding request not approved by ASWC

Hall of Music break-­ins may limit student access by DEREK THURBER Editor-­in-­Chief

by RILEY MEBUS Staff Reporter

There was palpable tension in the air as each senator cast his or her vote. In the end, the ASWC Senate failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority required to advance a funding request of over 1,000 dollars to bring back The Waiilatpu, Whitman College’s former yearbook. After nearly three hours of deliberation that dragged late into the evening of January 30 the official vote was 10 in favor and nine against. The funding request was for 15,232 dollars from the Travel and Student Development fund, which would have reduced the fund’s current total to 3,479 dollars. According to ASWC Finance Chair

junior Matt Dittrich, this is the largest proposal ever made to the Travel & Student Development fund. A strong contingent of yearbook staff members attended the Senate meeting. A lengthy proposal showed the clear devotion of those involved in the project and was well received by everyone in attendance. There was some concern from senators that the proposal would indirectly take away money from club sports, which it was thought might use the fund to cover travel costs. However, as stated by Dittrich during the meeting, the proposal would not have affected club sports teams’ budgets as club sports have a separate fund from which to finance travel. The yearbook proposal covered

printing costs of 250 copies of a hardback yearbook, which would have been available to purchase through student accounts and distributed in May. The projected prices of the yearbook for students ranged from 25-35 dollars, not including staffing costs. The cost of producing each yearbook was 53.19 dollars. The amount of money requested by the yearbook staff was repeatedly brought up during the deliberation, and many senators expressed concerns over how the large amount of money would benefit the majority of students. “In my mind, there was no set case that would make it come back and make it justifiable to be spending that much money to only be affecting 250 students, assuming that many people bought it,” said first-year ASWC senator Kayvon Behroozian. “A lot of student feedback that we heard before and after was that they would rather have that money available for making memories than preserving memories.” In order to trim down the total amount the yearbook staff was requesting, the staff offered to forfeit stipends until after the books had been sold. Different concerns that senators raised included the fact that the money requested only covered production costs for this semester and did not create any precedent to fund a yearbook for subsequent years. Discussion also arose over where the yearbook would YE ARBOOK , page 3

Covers from Waiilatpu--Whitman’s former yearbook--from 1987 (left) and 1969 (right). The ASWC Senate voted down a proposal to bring back a yearbook this year during their Jan. 30 meeting.

Discarded alcohol bottles, cigarette butts and vomit-stained floors have found their way into the Hall of Music practice rooms on several occasions over the course of the past few weeks, leading the music department and Whitman College security to consider limiting student access to the building. “There have been a handful of incidents where someone has been smoking cigarettes and pot in a couple of practice rooms, as well as drinking alcohol in the room; leaving cigarette butts and liquor bottles around for someone else to clean up; leaving remnants of food in/around the pianos; leaving vomit for others to clean up,” Susan Pickett, associate professor of music and chair of the department

We need people to feel responsible for what they are doing so that they will want to stop on their own. -­Craig McKinnon,  Associate   Director  of  Security

said in an e-mail. There have been four separate incidents reported to Whitman Security, the first on Jan. 5 and the other three on Jan. 26, 27 and 28. In all but one of these cases, the incidents were report-

ed after empty alcohol containers or smoking remnants were found in the practice rooms the next morning by a janitor. The incident reported on Jan. 27 was more serious, involving not only an even larger number of alcohol containers and smoking remnants in several practice rooms, but also the discovery of vomit on the floor of another practice room. “After the major [Jan. 27] incident we had a short discussion about what to do if this continues,” Associate Director of Security Craig McKinnon said. Security decided to wait and see if the people involved would decide to stop on their own, but realized that if the incidents kept occurring other actions might have to be taken. Whitman Security has already increased their night time patrols of the music building and has started locking the doors at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. However, if these incidents continue despite these increased security measures, the music department will be forced to limit access to the music building. “If this keeps happening we will have to limit the hours of the music building to protect our expensive equipment,” Pickett said. “When things like this happen they limit access to the facility, which would be bad because there are many students who want to just go in there to play pianos,” McKinnon added. “That is one of the things that is great about this campus is giving access to

MUSIC, page 3

Students create new written work at blue moon promo by TANEEKA HANSEN Staff Reporter

blue moon held their second winter workshop last Wednesday, Jan. 26 in the Glover Alston Center to help draw awareness to the magazine before its submission deadline on Jan. 31. blue moon staff hoped that a series of workshops would offer access to the peer editing and response normally only available to those in creative writing classes. “We wanted to have one workshop that was before break where people could come and write and work on brainstorming their ideas, and then a second one right before the deadline where people could either start new ideas or workshop together to maybe refine what they were working on before,” said sophomore Eleanor Ellis, a blue moon staff member.

The first winter workshop was held before winter break in the Writing House, and was attended by about 20 students. blue moon also hosted a comic art workshop in the art building. The workshop series is new this year for the magazine. According to blue moon editor-in-chief senior Lara Mehling, the magazine’s typical calendar of events focuses first semester on publicity and second semester on getting submissions. “[We wanted] to have our publicity campaign be more interactive, and really give a face to blue moon and the staff,” said Mehling of the workshop series. Martin Stolen, blue moon’s prose selection editor, hoped that by providing an open venue the new workshops would BLUE MOON, page 4


Environmental studies program lacks classes by KARAH KEMMERLY Staff Reporter

Though some have expressed frustrations with the limited courses within the environmental studies majors, students and faculty seem fairly optimistic for the future of the program. According to Don Snow, senior lecturer of environmental humanities, the department made changes to the environmental studies curriculum last year. They added a new course required for all majors, Methods of Environmental Analysis, and a foundation course slot. They also eliminated two geology classes from this year’s curriculum. Unfortunately, the timing of this redesign was not ideal.

“The faculty decided that the major needed redesigning. We made changes not knowing the outcome of the 3-2 decision,” said Snow. Snow acknowledged that courses are less available across all departments and that it has become more difficult for students to get into introductory classes. “We’ve had bottlenecks within our major, without a doubt,” said Snow. Sophomore Zoe Pehrson, a politicsenvironmental studies major, experienced one such bottleneck while she tried to enroll in the new required course, Methods of Environmental Analysis. Unfortunately, the class was filled with juniors and seniors and she couldn’t get the class. “I was hoping to knock out major re-

quirements early,” Pehrson said. However, Pehrson remains postive. “It is a new class and there are still kinks that need to be worked out. I will just make sure I get in next fall,” she said. First-year Faith Bernstein also had difficulty enrolling in an Intro to Environmental Studies class last fall. She was one of less than 10 first-years in the class, all of whom had advisor help in getting enrolled. “Pretty much all of the [first-years] enrolled had either the professor or a friend of the professor for their advisor,” said Bernstein. “I was lucky to get the class.” Bob Carson, professor of geology and environmental studies, said that most first-years who tried to enroll in the

class in the fall were unable to do so. Originally, only one section was scheduled for spring semester, which would have exacerbated the problem. Carson made a personal decision not to take his sabbatical, also scheduled for spring, so he could teach another section of the course. “If we hadn’t had that extra class, we would keep getting further and further behind,” he said. Carson said department faculty believe Intro to Environmental Studies should be open to all interested students, even if they don’t plan to major in environmental studies. “With the greatest environmental problem, and possibly the greatest problem on earth being climate change, I





SPORTS, page 6

A&E , page 4

would argue that taking an intro class in environmental studies is as important as any other class at Whitman,” he said. Bernstein said that the extra section of the course was especially helpful for first-years. “Many of the [first-years] who didn’t get in last semester were able to get in this semester,” she said. Both Pehrson and Bernstein did not seem overly concerned with course availability across the major, but they did express some concern for the environmental humanities major specifically. “I wish there were more courses within environmental humanities, but



February  3,  2011

YEARBOOK: Plans for less costly proposal ď?Śď?˛ď?Żď?­ page 1 be designed, as the Reid Campus Center News Room is currently being used by both the yearbook and The Pioneer. Other senators who were in favor of the yearbook proposal argued that the project presented a new opportunity for student development outside of the classroom. In a survey the yearbook staff conducted 76 percent of the 451 respondents were in support of having a yearbook. However, a criticism brought up at the Senate meeting was that the survey failed to mention the amount of money required by ASWC to create the yearbook. Over the course of the meeting, senators and yearbook staff members discussed possible amendments to the original proposal, including the possibility of distributing a yearbook in PDF format. The PDF yearbook was unacceptable to the yearbook staff, who called it a “mockeryâ€? of their work.


MUSIC: College hopes vandals will take responsibility for actions ď?Śď?˛ď?Żď?­ page 1 its facilities and if we start curbing that then it is like any other school.â€? Senior music history major Ilona Davis has already started to worry about the implications of this potential building closure on students. “It would be really terrible [if the music building was closed] because there are a lot of people who take applied music, so to restrict the time practice rooms are available could make it much more difficult for everyone to find time to practice,â€? she said. “I understand why they would close it, but I really hope they don’t have to.â€? The effects of limiting access to practice rooms would extend beyond applied music students and music majors to some student groups who also

rely on the building’s practice space. Many of the A Capella groups use the music building late at night for their practice sessions. Schwa, for example, practices many weeknights in the music building from 10-11:15 p.m. So far, there is no evidence as to who could be responsible. “We have no indication of if it’s students or not,� McKinnon said. “We have to assume it is students because they are gaining access after the building is locked and we are seeing the card swipes used after the building is locked, but we can’t really point fingers because it is hard to tell.� No matter who is responsible, these incidents could have criminal implications for those involved.

“The smoking is a state violation. There could be fines imposed. If we brought police in they could site [the people involved] for open containers if they are under 21, but also for smoking in a public building,� McKinnon said. Whitman Security doesn’t like to bring in the police unless someone is being really belligerent. For Whitman College, these incidents could have even larger implications. “If the Department of Health gets wind and they say we are not doing enough, they could fine the school up to 100 dollars a day until the incidents stop,� McKinnon said. Ultimately, according to McKinnon,


CHECK IT OUT! We’ve updated our website. New site design, new content. Go online for columns, additional photos and web-only reviews.

CORRECTIONS  TO  ISSUE  1 Last  week’s  article  about   military  recruitment  on  campus   incorrectly  stated  that  the  U.S.   Marines  did  not  respond  to  The   Pioneer ’s  request  for  comment.     The  correct  copy  of  the  article   included  the  following  informa-­ tion: Sergeant  Zachary  Dyer,  market-­ ing  and  public  affairs  repre-­ sentative  for  the  U.S.  Marine   Corps  Recruiting  Station  in   Seattle,  said  in  an  e-­mail  that   “it  would  be  premature  to   speculate  how  recruiting  prac-­ tices  would  be  affected  at  any   level.�  However,  he  added  that   he  expects  the  Marine  Corps   to  continue  to  recruit  Whitman   students.

Many senators expressed concerns over how the large amount of money would benefit the majority of students.

Sophomore Ben Lerchin, a student leader of the project, is currently looking into multiple options, including publishing the yearbook in a cheaper paperback format. “It will probably be within the seven to 11 thousand dollar range,� Lerchin said of the new proposal. The number of books to be produced remains unclear, as well as where the books will be published, both of which are key components of cost. “There’s an online company we are looking at. If I can actually connect with a real person we will probably go with that,� Lerchin said. The next ASWC Senate meeting will be held Sunday, Feb. 13, and the yearbook staff plans to make its new proposal to the Finance Committee and get on the agenda to discuss their new, lower-cost proposal. “I think right now, the senators are feeling like people want a yearbook, and they’re just worried about the cost that was high enough deplete the fund,� Lerchin said. “If we can get it somewhere close to not depleting that fund I think they’re going to be more comfortable with that.�

everyone just hopes that the people responsible will realize the effect of their actions and stop on their own. “It’s an education process here,� he said. “We need people to feel responsible for what they are doing so that they will want to stop on their own.�

Professor discusses findings in Heidegger archive Dr.  Julia  Ireland,  assistant  professor  of  philosophy,  gave  a  lecture  entitled  ““Heidegger  and  the  ‘‘Inner  Truth  of  National  So-­ cialism’’”â€?  on  Tuesday,  Feb.  1  about  a  provocative  discovery  she  made  while  working  in  the  Heidegger  archive.    Dr.  Ireland   discovered  a  possible  editorial  suppression  of  philosopher  Martin  Heidegger’’s  reference  to  National  Socialism  in  an  original   lecture  manuscript.  This  discovery  sheds  new  light  on  the  philosophical  implications  of  Heidegger’’s  controversial  connec-­ tions  to  Nazism.  Ireland  argued  that  her  discovery  will  impact  academic  scholarship  on  HeiDEGGERgSĂ’INšUENTIALĂ’PHILOSOPHY


“The  Marine  Corps  Officer   Selection  Team  in  Spokane  has   always  had  a  good  relation-­ ship  with  Whitman  College  and   we  do  not  see  this  changing   with  the  repeal  of  Don’t  Ask,   Don’t  Tell,�  he  said.  “At  least   one  student  from  Whitman   has  gone  to  and  completed   Officer  Candidate  School  each   year.  We  look  forward  to  our   continued  relationship  and  to   getting  quality  young  men  and   women  from  Whitman  to  join   our  officer  ranks.�


The Pioneer ISSUE  2 FEB  3,  2011 Page  4


Award-winning filmmaker Lisa Gossels will encourage discussions on peace, rescue and genocide from Feb. 7-9 when she screens her documentary films “My So-Called Enemy� and “The Children of Chabannes�. “The great thing about Lisa’s films is they really do emphasize the possibilities of goodness in human beings. The films make us aware of our own potential for rescue and as peacemakers,� said Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Literature Patrick Henry. Gossels’s 1999 film “The Children of Chabannes� follows the efforts of people in Chabannes, France to rescue Jewish children during the Holocaust. This event connects to Gossels’s own history, as her father and uncle were among the children saved. “The people [of Chabannes] are proud that they had no religious affiliation whatsoever. They are children of the French Revolution who believed in fraternity and equality,� said Henry. “The people who organized didn’t want to save the children because they were Jewish, they wanted to save the children because they were chil-

dren.� The film juxtaposes scenes of the Holocaust with survivor interviews. “She received an Emmy award for outstanding historical programming, so she is able to intertwine interviews and history,� said Henry. “My So-Called Enemy,� her most recent film, follows a group of young Palestinian

and Israeli women as they travel to New Jersey to participate in a dialogue with their “enemies�. The film then follows six of the participants for seven years after their time together, chronicling the im-

pact of their experience as they return to “the war zone�. “I was impressed with her transition from Holocaust studies to peace studies, which seemed like a very logical and correct move,� said Henry. In addition to the question and answer sessions held after the screenings of both

the discussion and hopefully spark other questions and then open the floor. I hope people of faith and people interested in this issue will be willing to participate,� said Stuart Coordinator of Religious and Spiritual Life Adam Kirtley, who will moderate the discussion. Kirtley

films, “My So-Called Enemy� will also serve as the basis for a multi-faith discussion held on Wednesday, Feb. 9. “I’ll be interviewing Lisa, and I will kind of give some questions to frame

hopes this discussion will resoURIU nate with students because of the commonality in age. “Part of what will be appealing is the characters in the film are the same age as Whitman students. [The film] begins when they are 17 and follows them for

a period of years after that,� said Kirtley. “What is powerful about that film is the extent to which relationships are able to develop despite the fractured backgrounds and baggage that these people have when they first meet each other.� Representatives from various faiths will be present at the discussion to ensure that a wide range of opinions are considered. “We have invited Islamic people, Jewish people from a Synagogue here, and people from various Christian churches to come and have a discussion about this movie and what kind of solution a multifaith approach might bring to this terrible situation in Israel and Palestine,� said Henry. As the organizer of this event, Henry hopes the films will inspire students “to recognize their own capacity for rescue and their own capacity for peacemaking.� “Peacemaking begins with individual people . . . we are capable of rescue,� said Henry. “My So-Called Enemy� will be screened on Feb. 7 and “The Children of Channabes� on Feb. 8. Both films will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Kimball Theatre in the Hunter Conservatory. The multi-faith dialogue will take place on Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. in the Jewett Lounge.


Aside from the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, there aren’t many galleries that allow you to reach out and touch the art. But in Whitman College’s book arts classes, students push that norm. “Book arts are a haptic experience . . . you are encouraged to touch them,� said Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Mare Blocker. “It’s kind of this weird little interaction between the artist and viewer . . . touching the same object.� As e-readers increasingly replace print books, the tactile book experience is something some people, like seniors Joe Cross and Liz Hockett, prize even more. “We need those people around, [people] who are willing to put in effort to make something beautiful that you can hold, you know, and flip the pages and smell,� said Hockett. Cross, who has passion for the art and enough faith in its future to major in it, agrees.

“Books and the economic structure around them are fading out, [but] I don’t believe that you can really beat the feeling of a handmade book,� said Cross. Book arts, however, aren’t limited to words on the page. Students complete assignments that teach them to create sculptures out of books, alter books and even go to Goodwill with five dollars for non-book items they then turn into books. While the rest of us sit in classrooms with desks, boards and books in largely whole and undamaged form, these students have class in a large workshop with destroyed books and magazines, fabric, ink and paint, presses from various eras, plastic glue and countless lead and wooden letters. “You can do anything with [with book art],� said Hockett. “It’s incredibly openended.� Hold no delusions that this is just glorified arts and crafts, though. Bookmaking is still a very precise, detail-oriented and an often, according to Cross, “neu-

LERCHIN Visiting  Assistant  Professor  Mare  Blocker  demonstrates  the  photopolymer  printing  process  to  her  intermediate  book  arts  class.

rotically mathematic� art. That doesn’t dissuade these student artists. “When you finally start binding it and it actually starts to look like a book . . . it’s really rewarding,� said Hockett. Cross believes that the book arts class also reaps intellectual rewards, as it helps

address the chaotic state of modern information exchange. “Book arts, for me, [offer] a kind of reflection on the flow of information and how we proliferate it,� said Cross. Blocker hopes that some of her students help to keep the book as an object

around forever. For Cross, this remains a possibility. “It’s not even having the right materials,� he said. “It’s just having the knowledge of it . . . and how it works. You can pretty much make a book wherever you are.�

PIO PICKS EOXHPRRQZRUNVKRSV :DOOD:DOODSL]]DSODFHV KHOSSURPRWHPDJD]LQH YDU\IURPZHLUGWRœZRZ¡ Each week The Pioneer highlights a few events happening on campus or in Walla Walla during the weekend. Here are this week’s picks:

COFFEEHOUSE FEATURING SARA JACKSON-HOLMAN Twenty-one-year-old Bend, Ore. native and classically-trained pianist Sara Jackson-Holman will grace the Coffeehouse stage, performing songs from her debut album, which was released last summer. Jackson-Holman is often compared to Adele, Feist and Norah Jones. Her song “Into the Blueâ€? was featured in the 2010 season finale of ABC’s hit show “Castle.â€? Friday, Feb. 4, 9-11 p.m. Basement of Reid Campus Center. “A CLASS APARTâ€? Whitman Events Board screens PBSproduced documentary “A Class Apartâ€? (2009), which centers around the historic civil rights case of Hernandez v. Texas. The film follows a team of Mexican-American lawyers who navigate the racially-charged 1950s South in an effort to prove a client’s innocence, and in the process demonstrate before the Supreme Court that all minority groups are entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Thursday, Feb. 3, 7:30-9 p.m. Kimball Auditorium. WRITER’S COLONY: CHILDHOOD AND CUPCAKES The Writing Houses hosts its first Writer’s Colony of the semester by blasting back to the 90s. Writing prompts will evoke themes of childhood, and in addition to cupcakes, the event will feature a piĂąata to rid yourself all of your post-writing energy. Thursday, Feb. 3, 9-10 p.m. Writing House.

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ticipants; of the dozen people there, more than half were blue moon staff members. “It probably would be nice if there were more people who weren’t on staff,� said Haug. “It was just a little bit intimidating.� Despite the low turnout, staff seemed positive about the workshop’s success. For Stolen, even just the process of putting on the workshop fulfilled the goal of raising awareness about the magazine. “Whether or not people actually came, the past four days everyone’s been like, ‘Oh, you’ve got the workshop tonight, huh?’� said Stolen. “People know about the workshop and people know about blue moon just because I’ve been blasting the list serve, and people know we’re out and active on campus.� Haug agreed that the workshop was valuable. Although she was unsure if she would submit to the magazine, she would attend another winter workshop. “I like to write creatively, but I don’t have a lot of mental energy for it during school, so it’s nice to have a time when I feel like I’m allowed to do it, as opposed to having to think about school stuff,� said Haug.

dispel the magazine’s past reputation as elitist. “I don’t want student writers at Whitman to think that the workshops are meant to dictate what we, as prose and poetry staff members, think poems and prose should be,� said Stolen. “Part of what makes language so vital and engaging is its ability to express meaning in extraordinarily diverse and unfamiliar ways.� Workshop participants enjoyed homemade apple cider and cookies while they worked with prompts such as “follow the lives of an acorn, a squirrel and a wolf.� At the end of the hour, the writers shared the ideas they had started. Junior Brynne Haug, who worked on a new prose piece during this event, described the process. “I just started writing; I didn’t really have any ideas so I just started a story and it went ways I didn’t expect it to go,� said Haug. Haug also attended the first workshop, where she broke from her usual prose habits to write poetry. Her only concern with the workshop was the low number of parADVERTISEMENT

by SEAN MCNULTY Staff  Reporter

Cheap, greasy food has always been popular with college students, and pizza fits that bill perfectly. There’s more than one pizza joint around Walla Walla where Whitman College students can go to get their fix. This guide to the major pizza joints downtown will help students decide where they might want to eat. Big Cheese Pizza Big Cheese delivers, so I ordered a medium cheese to my room in Jewett Hall. This pizza was much thicker than the offerings at Olive and Sweet Basil. As advertised, there’s plenty of cheese on the pizza—a big, leathery layer on top. The cheese is so thick that it overpowers both the tomato sauce and the bread. The result? A greasy, rubbery offering that’s a lot like Domino’s. Overall, I found that Big Cheese is an average pizza that’s not worth the price of delivery. Sweet Basil At Sweet Basil, Whitman students can get two slices of pizza for four dollars. That’s one of the best pizza deals available for Whitman students, making Sweet Basil very popular. The pizza is baked New York-style—thin, but not flimsy, and with a well-textured crust. For the adventurous, there’s a range of daily specials, including a Thailand baked potato option.

The variety of individual slice choices is somewhat hurt by the price of a full pizza—who wants to pay 18 dollars? Brasserie Four Tucked away on the intersection of East and West Main, this restaurant is lit with candles and easy to miss from the outside. There’s a chalkboard menu, a wide selection of wines and a clean white aesthetic that’s a bit fancier than most student destinations. Don’t let that deter you; their margarita pizza is thick on crust, cheese and tomato sauce. It’s well-balanced and quite good—the same price as Olive and much more appetizing. Plus, there’s complimentary bread that’s still warm from the oven. Olive Olive strikes an uncomfortable middle ground. Like Sweet Basil, their pizza has New York-style crusts. Like Brasserie Four, they’re a slightly nicer restaurant. Unfortunately, they’re neither as classy as Brasserie Four nor as tasty as Sweet Basil. Their Mediterranean pizza had almost no tomato sauce—and the crust is flat and insubstantial. An excess of toppings made every bite a cascade of goat cheese, olive and eggplant. In my opinion, there are plenty of better pizza choices available.



Theatre superstitions, rituals take center stage at Harper Joy by HANNA KAHL Staff Reporter

As theatre superstitions extend back prior to the Greeks and Romans to the oral tradition of storytelling, it’s no surprise that strange sayings, superstitions, traditions, myths and ghosts are alive and well inside the walls of Harper Joy Theater. Inside Whitman College’s theater are posters of plays and musicals and pictures of actors young and old—all radiating stories just waiting to be told. Here is a look behind the curtains: Many idioms have been inherited from traditions of theater and are intended to bring good luck to actors. It is well known that before a show an actor often says “break a leg”. According to Garrett Professor of Dramatic Art Nancy Simon, in Germany, too, theater professionals say “Halsund Beinbruch,” which literally translates to “neck and leg fracture” but conversationally functions the same way as “break a leg”. The use of this phrase may stem from a superstition that to wish someone good luck is bad luck; conversely, to wish someone bad luck, such as to break a leg, would be good luck. Cynthia Croot, assistant professor of theater, said that they sometimes say “Merde!” in the theater as an exclamation of good luck. This French word translates as “shit”. Simon also noted that in Italy actors say “in the mouth of the wolf,” especially for operas, and “tchin-tchin,” which is a type of toast to good luck. The true sources of theater idioms are often shrouded in mystery, but the art’s affinity for superstition has kept them alive. One of the main rules is to never say “Macbeth” inside a theater. Croot explained that actors choose to say “the Scottish play” instead. To reverse the bad luck if an actor says “Macbeth” in the theater, the actor is supposed to perform a series of actions. “The actor must spit on the ground and turn around five times or perform other rituals to be cleansed from the bad luck,” Croot said. Simon explained the history of this superstition. “In the 19th century, when a theater company was about to perform a play and things weren’t working well or there were technical problems, they would put on ‘Macbeth’ to buy time and cover up the

problems,” she said. The name of “Macbeth” thereby became associated with technical problems, though it was originally a way to cope with dysfunction. Another superstition: it is bad luck to whistle in a theater. Simon explained that this is because in the past, a whistle was the cue for moving the props. Whistling at the wrong time could result in people getting hurt and the show being interrupted. If an actor whistles in the dressing room they are supposed to turn around five times and knock at a door. Stories of ghosts in the theater have also been carried throughout time and have developed into many new ghost stories. Whether or not these stories are true, they add dramatic flare to the theater. “Every theater has its ghosts,” said Kevin Walker, the technical director of Harper Joy Theater. “Theater ghosts are generally good luck and benign. Most of them were involved in theater themselves,” said Simon. There are some spirits that seem more aggressive, however. Simon told a story of how when she was a student at Whitman College there was a girl that was painting something from a bosun’s chair that was hanging from a rope. The rope snapped, the girl fell and was seriously injured. Some theater majors at that time attributed the accident to a ghost. “Superstitions are often personal for each person,” Simon said. When Simon was a student, for instance, she used to cross her fingers on both hands before each show. Senior Devin Petersen, a theater major who mostly works on design, asks the Harper Joy ghosts for good luck and inspiration. And some pre-show traditions are religious: senior Ben Moore says that he used to say the Hail Mary before shows. Other actors pray to the patron saint of the theater, St. Genesius. Although not technically “religious,” these actors perform superstitious traditions with religious regularity. “One of my friends used to religiously take a pre-show shit,” Petersen said. The theater, a place where fiction is made to appear like reality, is the perfect breeding ground for wild superstitions. “Everyone loves superstition,” Simon said. “All these traditions pass around from time to time.”


The Pioneer polled 115 students about their superstitious habits. Here are the four that are most commonly observed.

The Pioneer ISSUE 2 FEB  3,  2011 Page  5


In Pursuit of Untruth As scholars, we consider proofs and rational thought to be our allies and at times our closest friends. But despite our respect for logic, the occasional rumor, pseudoscience or superstition nonetheless manages to capture the campus’ attention. Inspired by the groundhog’s recent spring forecast, Feature explores some of the hearsay and irrational practices that Whitties hold dear.

The duck stops here: Whitman’s duck myths by ELLIE NEWELL Staff Reporter

Few elements of Whitman College culture have garnered as much speculation as the humble Whitman duck. As ubiquitous to campus as jaywalking and flannel, the ducks have attained a mythology of their own. One of the most notorious duck myths is duck rape—is it a naturally occurring phenomenon or a result of unnatural conditions imposed by an urban habitat? According to Assistant Professor of Biology Tim Parker, forced copulation is unusual among birds, but entirely normal for ducks. For many reasons— among them increased vulnerability while nesting—female ducks experience a higher mortality rate than their male counterparts. This causes a fierce competition among drakes for mates, and as a result, males begin attaching themselves to females as early as the fall, waiting until they are ready to mate in spring. “It is not in the male’s interest to have the female mate with another male, and he will defend her against interlopers,” said Parker. Unfortunately, as many as five males may attack a female, an assault that can lead to her drowning and death. The myth that Whitman culls ducklings every spring holds no truth; even if the males successfully inseminate a female, Whitman is not an ideal location to brood, hatch and raise ducklings. “Conditions here are really bad for duck parents,” said Parker. He cited the lip around Lakum Duckum (which is hard for ducklings to climb), the proximity of the water to roads and the lack of good vegetation for cover and nesting sites as contributing elements to the adverse environment. Gary Brown, the campus grounds supervisor, has seen ducks nesting in the shrubs by the science building and “even up in the planters in Sherwood Plaza.” But ducks are not only at risk due to a lack of good nesting sites. “The worst problem is when people bring their dogs. A lot of them are

ILLUSTRATIONS BY  LOOS-­DIALLO bird dogs,” said Brown. He complained that many dog owners ignore the Walla Walla leash laws. Brown also cited crows, cats, skunks and the resident mink that lives near the Baker Faculty Center as predators of the ducks and their young. Brown also estimated that his crew removes about six dead ducks a year from around the Whitman campus, most victims of road traffic. Another great duck mystery is the crossbreeding between the native mallards and domestic ducks abandoned by members of the Walla Walla community. Bred from mallards for traits favorable to their domestication and use for meat and eggs, most domestic ducks are able to interbreed with the mallards. In 1995, faced with a dramatically oversized population of around 200 ducks, the college spent 150,000 dollars caging and then releasing 150 crossbreed ducks into a new habitat, according to Brown. The population has remained at a fairly consistent 50 animals, and the main intrusions into the mallard population are the two Muscovy ducks—native to Mexico and Central America—who call North Hall and Lakum Duckum home. “[They are] one of the only animals domesticated by Native Americans,” said Parker. Brown also mentioned that he has seen several ducks around campus that still carry coloration and traits

that reveal some domestic ancestry. But does this mixing of domestic and mallard species in any way contribute to the ducks’ poor survival rates? “It’s certainly conceivable that this domestic variety—the domestic genes—have in some way compromised their parenting abilities. But I actually suspect that it’s all about the physical condition [of the Whitman campus],” said Parker. And what about the myth that Whitman heats College Creek and Lakum Duckum in the winter, a myth that has gained credence from the clouds of steam seen rising from the water on chilly mornings? Absolutely false. College Creek arises from a spring located behind the Tekisuijuku at about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit naturally, allowing a population of resident ducks to grace Whitman’s campus year-round. Their seemingly permanent residence on campus have made ducks the popular favorite to replace the controversial missionary as the Whitman mascot. Both Brown and Parker were ambivalent about the switch, citing Whitman’s proximity to the University of Oregon as a deterrent. Still, there are many members of the Whitman community who are supportive of such a change. “[Ducks] are the unofficial symbol on our campus. Their image is much more firmly imprinted on our campus culture than the missionaries,” said senior Logan Skirm.

Zodiac stays in orbit despite recent turbulence over ‘new’ astrological sign by MONICA SIMMONS Staff Reporter

Ever heard of Ophiuchus, the 13th astrological symbol? Don’t believe it, because everything the media has told you about recent astrological changes is a lie. The confusion started when a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society noted that due to the precession of the equinoxes, the original location of constellations had changed as well as the astrological symbols.

“Modern Western astrologers understand this perfectly. It’s irrelevant to their work because the information upon which they base their hypotheses does not involve a study of distant stars or constellations,” said noted astrologist Rob Brezsny in Boulder Weekly. In reality, astrological predictions are made from information based on the movements of planets, not stars. However, thousands of years ago when astrologists and astronomists had inaccurate information, the planetary and star constellations did align. Since then there has been a differentiation between the two, kicking Ophiuchus out of the running for newest astrological sign. In other words, absolutely nothing has changed in the world of astrology. Even people born after 1995 still have the same signs. “Astronomy is completely different from astrology. Scientists studying

physics can’t really say anything about the technical aspects of astrology. I, for instance, don’t know anything about astrology,” said first-year astronomy student Geoff Cushman. Just to clarify, you and your significant other are still compatible. But wait, you didn’t care about that gobbly gook anyway. Astrology, who buys that? It turns out one in four Americans do, according to a 2009 Pew Research Poll, and another 39 percent believe it to be scientific (National Science Foundation). No denying it—human beings have a strange fascination with astrological symbols, whether as a harmless curiosity or sound cosmic prediction. To prove my point, what’s your symbol? One reason we are so susceptible to astrology is that it gives us a sense of security towards the future. In these unstable times when fulfilling life’s basic requirements (like working hard and going to a good school) may not guarantee lifelong stability, it’s comforting to have a little slice of guidance. “People had such a huge problem with the signs changing because all of a sudden all the advice they had possibly based their lives on was wrong. That’s

hugely disconcerting,” said first-year Maggie Eismeier. Astrology also offers us a way to better understand ourselves. A sign gives us a group from birth to identify with and a place within the cosmos. An astrological sign presents detailed character descriptions, which can give us an excuse for certain kinds of behavior (“I can’t help being jealous because I’m a Scorpio.”), or can be a source of pride (“Being a Leo, I am naturally confident, ambitious, generous, loyal and encouraging.”)

“It doesn’t really do me any harm to believe that because of the day I was born, I’m more likely to act more compassionate,” said first-year Pisces Julia Stone. Astrology has existed for centuries, withstanding many cynical non-believers and even this most recent assailing on its premise for existence. There’s something interesting in relating to people through their sign, which is why we won’t ever stop asking, “What’s Your Sign, Girl?”



The Pioneer ISSUE  2 FEB  3,  2011 Page  6



Women’s basketball Lewis  &  Clark  1/28   L,  64-­61 ,IN¾ELDÒ 7 Ò 

left: Josh Duckworth ‘14 jumps for a basket during the game against Lewis & Clark last Friday, Jan. 28. After a 95-81 loss to the Pioneers earlier this season, the men came back with renewed energy to beat them 80-70. The win was their first against Lewis & Clark in five years.

Men’s basketball Lewis  &  Clark  1/28 W,  80-­70 ,IN¾ELDÒ W,  86-­71


right: Men’s basketball head coach Eric Bridgeland holds a time-out meeting during their game against Linfield last Saturday, Jan. 29. The men tasted victory for the eleventh time in their last 13 games, after an energetic comeback that had the crowd on their feet for most of the second half.



Injuries put pressure on athletes, teams 6NLHUVEDQGWRJHWKHUĂ€QG success with club program by TYLER HURLBURT 3TAFFĂ’2EPORTER

Injuries are inevitable in athletics; there is no denying this fact. What can be changed is how an athlete deals with an injury to get back to playing at the highest level. In fall 2010, sophomore soccer player Leland Matthaeus injured himself early in the season during tryouts and then tried to come back too soon. This resulted in him re-injuring himself and having to sit out again, longer than he would have if he had taken more time to recover initially. Later in the season, in an unrelated injury, Matthaeus tore both his ACL and LCL, causing him to be out for the season. This time, faced with a far more serious injury, Matthaeus took his time in rehabilitation. “Like anybody, I just wanted to get back,� Matthaeus said. “But I just didn’t want to re-injure myself, so I played it safe.� In sports, athletes can feel an immense pressure to do whatever needs to be done to help their team. This includes putting their bodies on the line day in and day out. Scott Shields, Whitman’s head cross country coach, feels that most of the pressure comes from the athlete’s personal mentality. “There is definitely an intrinsic pressure that athletes put on themselves,� Shields said. “In every sport an athlete wants to go out and perform.� Junior basketball player Jenn Keyes has had experience playing for her team while injured. Last season, with the women’s basketball team already down to only 10 players due to injury, Keyes played for the majority of the season on a bad ankle. In her case, Keyes was told that she would need surgery eventually. Yet if she continued to play, her ankle would hurt, but her injury would not worsen. With the women’s basketball team already los-

ing two critical players due to seasonending injuries at this point, Keyes knew that if she were to undergo surgery, the team would be unable to scrimmage during practice. Keyes opted to postpone the surgery until the season was over because she did not want to feel like she was letting her team down. “When injured, there is a part of you that knows it is your fault everyone else is suffering,� Keyes said. While most of the pressure to play through injuries comes from the injured athlete personally, Matthaeus and Keyes both note that there are some external pressures as well. “If you’re hurt and it doesn’t incapacitate you, you are seen as a bit of a wimp if you don’t play through,� Matthaeus said. “Everybody but the trainers want you to play through it,� said Keyes. It is true that the training staff does not want athletes to continue playing with an injury. While John Eckel, the head athletic trainer, knows that athletes may feel like they would let their team down by sitting out, he stresses that they should not hesitate in visiting the


training room. “People should feel comfortable coming to us early so that we can prevent any complications,� Eckel said. “We don’t want to be viewed as a bad guy.� Athletes can generally tell when a teammate is truly injured or when somebody is just milking a minor injury. When a teammate does start to overplay an injury, some tensions can arise on the team. “It is the little injuries that people make bigger than they are that really bother me,� Keyes said. In order to avoid rifts in teams over the seriousness of injuries, Matthaeus notes the importance of communication between teammates. “We’ve played long enough to be able to tell when somebody can play,� Matthaeus said. “It’s when people don’t explain their injury well enough that they get in trouble.� It is not only the athletes who notice the power that injuries can have on the way a team interacts. Head swim coach Jenn Blomme emphasizes support between teammates in times of injury, with trust and honesty playing a crucial role. “In terms of team dynamics, it is never easy to have injuries on your team,� Blomme said. “I believe that if there is healthy trust and respect established among teammates, then those teammates can actually be incredibly supportive in times of injury or illness.� Eckel strongly promotes prevention as the first and biggest step for athletes’ health and fitness, but if an athlete does get hurt, the training staff is available to help and will make sure the injured person is healthy before giving them clearance to play. “We don’t want to return someone too soon,� Eckel said. “The sooner you get help, the sooner you get healthy.�

more spread out to test skiers’ pure speed. Practicing twice a week for over five hours at a time and traveling to competitions on In the wide world of Whitman College the weekends, Whitman’s alpine skiers are sports, there’s a little something for every- just as committed to improving and winning one—from the serious athletes who com- as if they were still a varsity sport. pete on varsity teams to the students who “Members are spending as much time want an outlet to hang out with friends and practicing and traveling as many other varplay intramural, options always abound. sity sports teams on campus,â€? said first-year One sport in particular, however, brings Mattie Hogg. After the alpine ski team was dropped from varsity to club due to funding, the team was unable to pay for a full-time coach. This season, Whitman is led by Anderson and junior Chris Machesney, both of whom have racing backgrounds and serve as the team leaders. Machesney was recruited to Whitman by Ă’4OREYĂ’!NDERSON Ă’f the ski team when it was a Division I program, and realizes that attracting prospective skiers to Whitman is now more difficult with the change to club. the two together: alpine skiing. The Whit“Due to the nature of the sport, [skiing] man alpine ski team is officially a club sport, is not very popular on campus,â€? said Mabut these athletes practice and compete with chesney. “Unlike virtually every other sport the intensity and focus of a full-fledged var- . . . skiing lacks the ease of viewership. In sity team. After being cut from the varsity order to watch a ski race people would have program two years ago and losing its head to travel a minimum of four hours, which is coach Tom Olson alongside team member hard and rather expensive.â€? Richard O’Brien, the skiers have bonded toEven with the budget constraints, club gether to keep their program alive and suc- sport title and difficulty in establishing a cessful. strong fan base, Whitman’s alpine skiers re“The Whitman students and professors main focused on the task at hand—to reprewere extremely supportive,â€? said junior To- sent Whitman by winning and getting better rey Anderson. “[They] really made the ski each day. That commitment demonstrates team feel like a special part of the Whitman the vitality of the program and encourages community.â€? the skiers that the team is headed in the The skiers practice and compete in the gi- right direction despite everything it has gone ant slalom and slalom disciplines as part of through. the United States Collegiate Ski Association “Everyone has seemed to be very pleased (USCSA). Slalom is the more technically that we have made the club switch work and challenging race with gates placed closer have still found success doing what we love,â€? together, while gates in the giant slalom are said Anderson. ADVERTISEMENT by PAMELA LONDON 3TAFFĂ’2EPORTER

Everyone has seemed to be very pleased that we have made the club switch work.

Men’s lacrosse aims for championship by ANDREW HAWKINS 3TAFFÒ2EPORTER

“We don’t rebuild. We reload,� said David Schmitz, the Robert Allen Skotheim Chair of History and men’s club lacrosse coach. “We play for championships.� At the end of the 2011 season, Schmitz will retire as coach for the club men’s lacross team. Schmitz played lacrosse as a midfielder at Roanoke College and has stated that his 26th year of coaching will be his last. “[Being a coach] has been an absolutely enriching experience,� said Schmitz. “I’m going to miss it terribly.� In the past 25 years, Schmitz has led the men’s lacrosse team to eight championships and nine consecutive final four appearances. The team returns seven of 10 starters. However, the illness of freshman defender Dan Ellis and the graduation of Bidnam Lee and Ben Spencer could prove significant barriers in the team’s hope of adding a ninth trophy to Schmitz’s honors. This season, the team hopes to bring home the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League (PNCLL) Championship to end Schmitz’s career on the highest note. However, to do this, they face tough competition from Western Oregon University. The club team lost by one goal to Western Oregon in the 2010 semi-finals. While the competition remains tight, Whitman has shown itself to be a dominate force in the PNCLL. “My only concern is sending the coach

off without winning first place for the season,� said sophomore defender Ben Skotheim. “Every year [we get] knocked out by the same team, Western Oregon,� said senior captain Stephen Over. “We wanna crush them and send Coach Schmitz off the right way.� In order to end their three-year losing streak to Western Oregon, the men’s lacrosse team will be expecting continued improvements from all players to make up for the loss of two-time All-Conference attackman Lee ‘10. Senior captains Sam Kollar, Ryon Campbell and Over are expected to push Whitman to the next level. While the loss of Lee in attack was a huge blow for the team, Kollar has impressed the team with his speed, precision and passing distribution. Furthermore, the team will look to Jan Start Aeden Weber to improve his form to make the Whitman offense truly formidable. “Our returning attackmen are very good. Aeden is a little delicate but gets the job done,� laughs Skotheim. Perhaps Ellis’s injury is more concerning than Lee’s graduation. Ellis started for Bellevue High School, which won the state championship in 2010. He is currently recovering from an illness, which may leave him out of the pre-season—a pivotal time for team development. Meanwhile, Skotheim and Over return in defense. The absence of passionate leadership from Spencer ‘10 will be sorely missed; however, Schmitz is confident about the progress of sophomore John

Tarzan Mighell. In goal, sophomores Luigi Lollini and Stephen Toyofuku continue to impress. Along with Over and Kollar, the team relies on midfielder Campbell for leadership and athleticism to bolster the club team’s success. “Ryon needs to be a workhouse,� said Schmitz. “We have a capable, talented team. I’m excited to see how the season will go.� “Wildkat Campbell is a model in unbridled ferocity,� said Skotheim. The men’s team starts their season against Montana State University on Feb. 26 on Ankeny Field, and they look to the fans to show their support for both the team and Schmitz as he starts his final season. “Lacrosse is notorious for having rowdy fans,� said Over. With a talented team at their disposal, the captains and Schmitz are expecting success. Schmitz’s loyalty and consistency has become a trademark of Whitman’s team. Because of his efforts as a volunteer coach for the past 25 years, Whitman has become a powerhouse in the PNCLL. Ultimately, the team is and should be confident coming into this season. Continued improvements throughout the field and the return of so many starters suggest that the Whitman team will be a strong contender for the championship. Hopefully, for both the seniors and Schmitz, Whitman can end its three-year losing streak against Western Oregon and add a final trophy to Schmitz’s collection.










The Pioneer ISSUE 2 FEB  3,  2011 Page  7

Video games lack moral realism

While video games currently present players with moral dilemmas, game designers must improve the realism of these moral choice scenarios to realize their potential Spoiler Warning: I’ll be discussing important plot points from “Mass Effect” and “Bioshock”. You have been warned. Humans have always told stories. BLAIR It’s in our nature. FRANK Up until recently, Columnist however, it’s been impossible to truly put yourself into a story. That’s why video games are cool— it’s finally possible to be the protagonist in a fictional universe. To that end, the developers who make games are always trying to make them more representative of the human experience. Over the past several years, developers have begun including systems in their games to simulate making moral choices. Here’s how they generally work: in a given set of dialogue, or perhaps just through a few actions during the game itself, the player is offered opportunities to choose some phrase or action. It could be anything from punching out their conversation partner to saving a morally ambiguous character from a sniper’s round. After that, the player is given feedback through a system that rates them on the spectrum of good and evil. Unfortunately, those systems do a bad job of accurately representing what it’s like to make moral choices. When I’m playing a game, I like to get lost in the world that has been created for me. Unfortunately, most of the systems that developers have come up with to simulate moral choices do the exact opposite. Their unrealistic portrayal of what it’s like to choose things as a human being makes for an unrealistic and less engaging experience. If developers put the time into improving these systems, it would be possible to create more enjoyable games. To that end, I have a few suggestions. Developers need to ditch the system of consistently offering the player sets of easy, low-consequence choices. The original “Mass Effect” is an exemplar of both the problem and the solution. In the early stages of the game, the player encounters a scientist and her assistant, both holed up inside a dwelling. But there’s one problem: the assistant hasn’t taken his medications, and

he’s rambling on and on about how they’re all going to die. If the player fiddles with the dialogue tree a bit, they’re given the chance to silence his fatalistic ramblings by pistol-whipping him. If they choose to do so, everyone around them is shocked at the brutality, and their character earns several “renegade points”. There is never another mention of it, and not a single consequence, aside from the momentary disapproval of the player’s peers. Later in the game, “Mass Effect” includes several choices with real ramifications. The most dramatic of them forces the player to choose to sacrifice one of two non-player characters for the greater good. There is no good choice, only two bad choices, and the character in question stays dead. That’s an important, high-consequence choice that provides the player with a real dilemma and reminds them of what the stakes are. Granted, not every choice needs to be earth-shattering in its gravity, or equally important, but a good game should hold the player accountable for the choices that they make. There also needs to be room for ambiguity. In our daily lives, we aren’t paragons of good or hateful vessels of evil. We’re generally complex, nuanced and ambiguous entities. That’s why I was so frustrated by the rigidity of “Bioshock” when it came to the moral choice system it used. Here’s the basic gist of it: several times during the course of the game, the player encounters “Little Sisters” and is given the opportunity to either kill them (and reap a massive reward)

or “rescue” them (which, while leaving the sisters alive, provides the player with less of a reward). If, over the course of the game, the player only rescues the Little Sisters, they get one “good” ending (everyone lives happily ever after under their benevolent rule). On the other hand, if they kill just one Little Sister, they get a bad ending (their dictatorial tendencies threaten the entire planet). There’s no middle ground, and that’s disappointing. Finally, the choices players are given in a game should present them with a true philosophical challenge. Sometimes doing the right thing means not getting a pat on the back or an acknowledgment from relevant parties. On the flip side, sometimes being less than upstanding is easy and even beneficial. In order to take the next step, games have to be willing and able to tackle the thorny realities that we face every single day. It’s time for game developers to start making good choices when they make players choose. I’ve seen glimmers of hope across the industry, but nobody has gotten it right yet. It’s clear from what I’ve experienced, however, that there’s a lot of potential for good storytelling through allowing and forcing players to make hard choices. It’s now a matter of making those systems better to fulfill their potential.

by A. QUARD Columnist

Fat, naked bodies. Attempted suicide. Two children having sex. The theme of this column is “uncomfortable subjects”. Over the course of this semester, I hope to study the social taboos and stigmas that surround the above (along with a few other) uncomfortable subjects. I don’t think I need to go any further with the above list to make it obvious to readers why I’m writing under a pseudonym. The topics listed above should, by the standards of U.S. cultural norms, make you at least a little uneasy, if not extremely uncomfortable. These topics may invoke feelings of shame, disgust, rejection or confusion. Some of us probably wish these things didn’t exist. We might have already convinced ourselves that they’ve never existed. Children don’t have sex. Right? Or at least, not the normal ones. People don’t ordinarily try to kill themselves. Unless there’s something ‘wrong’ with them. Conversations about these topics become even more taboo when the majority of people fall under the illusion that they are uncommon occurrences. Following this logic, the reason we can’t talk about them is because we don’t talk about them. But what does it say about our culture that we don’t talk about these things, and more, in spite of the fact that they are happening all around us? And what does it say about each of us as individual people, that the mere thought of something (not even its actual existence) makes us uncomfortable? For me, the term “uncomfortable subjects” refers not only to the topics or circumstances that I will discuss here, but also to the people who occupy these circumstances. Feeling discomfort within oneself, rather than simply of the self’s surroundings, is perhaps best described by the term “awkwardness”. But what does “awkward” actually mean? And what does it say about our culture that we experience particular events or conversations as awkward; so awkward that we avoid talking about them whenever possible? Let me begin with basic literary definitions. What do we mean when we say something is “awkward”? The word “awk-

ward” came into use in English during the 14th century, when the root word “awk” meant “back-handed”, giving the term a meaning along the lines of “in the wrong direction”. In the 16th century, the meaning of the word was closer to that of the word “clumsy”. But still, this implies awkwardness as a generally physical sensation, whereas awkwardness in U.S. culture today more often refers to the mental sensation produced by a given situation. Other Germanic and Latin languages from which the English language is derived do not have similar words to describe this feeling. The closest cognate in French translates to “crude” or “not tactful”. In Spanish, you simply say “uncomfortable”. But think for a moment of topics which you regard as not tactful or even uncomfortable. I would argue that awkwardness today has a different meaning than mere discomfort; one that ultimately has much broader political and social significance Awkwardness tells us something about our role as individual beings within a social body. You cannot be awkward by yourself. It stems from the everyday, routine social interactions which society requires us to perform day after day, preferably without questioning their significance or even suggesting that they have any significance at all. True awkwardness, as opposed to difficulty or discomfort, might be defined as the feeling that our “self” seems somehow out of place in the social circumstances in which we locate our “self”. We all know what it’s like to suddenly, sometimes out of nowhere, feel awkward. But where does our social understanding and interpretation of awkwardness come from? I hope to explore this question, as well as the others raised in this piece, by undertaking an ongoing investigation of awkwardness. And even if, in the end, you don’t agree with the answers I come up with, you might nevertheless find that you have some questions for yourself about what makes you feel awkward and why. Visit our website to read Letters to the Editor and additonal columns, as well as to comment or submit a letter of your own.

USPS should be privatized SONG

Senior participation in graduation commencement should be voluntary I was surprised when I recently learned that at Whitman College the last senior graduation requirement is the act of graduation itself. Currently, walking at commencement is not a TRISTAN GRAU choice to celebrate one’s graduation Columnist but a requirement to complete that very graduation. I believe that commencement should be a voluntary activity and then removing this requirement would benefit both the students and the ceremony itself. To be clear, I think Whitman students should participate in commencement, just that this participation should be voluntary. This is not just because commencement should primarily honor student achievement. Commencement is really a postgraduation event and so cannot be justified as a requirement in the same way other students requirements at Whitman are justified. Whitman College has requirements a lot of its students and for good reason. Incoming students experience a bevy of workshops, lectures and group meetings during opening week. The experience is tiring and sometimes feels tedious, but it helps students successfully transition to college life. This sort of oversight diminishes as students age, but students still meet with their adviser every semester. All these programs ensure that we succeed and eventually graduate. The college and the students both benefit from these requirements. Students do better both academically and socially, graduate on time and have more career options after Whitman. The college benefits by advertising the success and four-year graduation

Awkward topics merit discussion

rates of its students. Commencement does not fit this model. Requiring students to walk at commencement cannot make them more successful in college; their undergraduate careers are already over. Instead, requiring all students to graduate seems to primarily benefit the college. Commencement honors the individual achievements of students, but it also advertises the college’s aesthetic and academic achievements. Requiring students to attend shifts the importance from the students’ individual celebrations towards the success of the ceremony as a whole.

Graduating seniors should be able to choose to support their school. Of course, commencement does celebrate the achievements of both the college and its students. But if the ceremony were primarily a celebration of student success, would it be a graduation requirement? The requirement makes commencement seem more like an advertisement for the Whitman brand than it would if participation were optional. Since commencement typically occurs after students have completed their degrees it is really more of an alumni obligation than a graduation requirement. Whitman relies on gifts from its alumni who traditionally give at a very high percentage. Alumni don’t give for their own benefit, they give to support their alma mater both monetarily and symbolically. Walking at commencement should be more like this act of giving. Graduating seniors should be able to choose to support their school and their classmates. Commencement is the first commitment gradu-

ating seniors have to Whitman as alumni and it is one they should accept as a choice, not as a requirement. One important reason for the school to require students to participate in commencement is the preservation of the ceremony itself. If few students attended commencement then the ceremony would certainly be a less memorable spectacle. And requiring students to stay in town until commencement helps maintain a sense of community among the graduating class. These are laudable goals. But I think these goals would be even better served through voluntary student participation in commencement. A voluntary commencement would ensure that graduating seniors really want to participate. If attendance is a problem then the school could make the commencement ceremony more attractive to the students and their parents. As a result, students could have a more involved role in designing and planning the capstone ceremony of their college career. Students who are opposed to commencement could opt-out, which at present is not an option unless they show the Board of Review that they cannot attend. I do not know if many students would choose to skip the ceremony but they should have this option. If commencement was a choice they might also explain why and how their concerns could help improve the ceremony. If commencement were voluntary, the college would also set up a better relationship with its graduating seniors. The relationship between alumni and Whitman is a voluntary one which assumes solidarity both between the alumni of each graduating class and between the alumni and the college. A voluntary commencement ceremony would accurately reflect this postgraduation relationship. Instead, the mandatory commencement ceremony ignores the autonomy of graduating seniors.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) ended the 2010 fiscal year with an 8.5 billion dollar loss according to the USPS fiscal report. Any BRYANT business with this FONG type of loss would Columnist soon go out of business, or at least need restructuring. Yet, the postal service, despite its cry for change, cannot because it operates under Congress. Partially privatizing the postal system, or at least giving it more freedom to operate like a corporation, would allow profitability again. This would still accommodate some federal intervention, but allow it to operate relatively autonomously, such as Fannie Mae. USPS does not receive any taxpayer subsidy and relies solely on postage revenue, but has a universal service obligation to deliver mail six days a week to all households. The postal service currently has a money-losing model. It is outdated with decreasing mail volume, and according to the fiscal report, mail volume dropped 3.5 percent in the last year. People more often use the Internet to pay their bills and keep correspondence via test messages, Facebook and e-mail. The closing of post offices beginning March 2011 identifies measures to cut costs, but many of the closures are rural offices, where the closure accompanies the familiar tragic tale of a town losing a connection to the outside world. Are there other measures to take to cut costs which will not disconnect rural America? Technology has decreased use of mail correspondence, and cut down on circulars from merchants taking profits away from the postal system. Partial privatization will allow USPS to take other cost cutting measures (possibly in retirement packages), flexibility in routes, prices, and general operations. These measures allow USPS to most importantly change and adapt without the hassle of congressional approval. Yes, the operation under Congress prevents runaway first-class mail stamp prices. Still, the United States has some of the low-

est stamp prices in the world: one small price to send a letter anywhere around the nation, no matter how remote, thereby helping to unify the nation. A similar system of partially privatized postal systems works in Germany as well as Japan. It is the transfer of governmental control to a corporation. Possible reform includes price cap regulation (PCR) which encourages operating prices to change relative to economic inflation. This allows the government to set the operator’s prices. USPS can update technology faster than with federal approval, especially in package tracking systems where UPS and FedEx have a large advantage. Operating autonomously can also allow workers to suggest to their supervisors ways to streamline operations similar to corporate models ubiquitous in American business culture. Jobs will be saved because of these and other cost saving measures. Now, in this case, the federal control of the privatization can discourage layoffs—even though 105,000 individuals have already lost their jobs in the past year according to AOL News. The current business model does not allow the postal system to take other cost cutting measures; there is no flexibility except to eliminate jobs. By giving other options to cut costs, USPS will keep more workers. The key here is governmental checks on the postal system to ensure worker accountability. No longer will Congress slow down USPS’s process to adapt. Currently any large change must travel through Congress, which is slow to pass legislation. USPS will be able to change instantly and compete with UPS and FedEx in ways similar to other industries with multiple corporations, as each adapts to the others’ actions. Yet, I still advocate some governmental control, in fear that rural communities will not get mail because they don’t generate enough mail volume to turn a profit, and thus become more disconnected. I still advocate the universal order of equal access to postal services across the nation. I am only afraid that without adapting to the times, we may not see the postal system around for the next generation. Privatizing the postal service may allow it to stay around for a while longer and generate a profit without the closing of branches or the elimination of jobs.

The Pioneer ISSUE 2 FEB  3,  2011


Page 8


Things Jan Starts should know


The Backpage decided to do Whitman a kindness and give the Jan Starts a heads-up. We've compiled our wisdom into a handy little list. 1. If you’re not into white guys, transfer. Transfer now. 2. Don’t be ashamed about drinking in or before Encounters. Drink every time the overeager kid who is “majoring in philosophy” raises his hand and repeats what the professor just said. 3. Whitman actually does not have a uniform. All those people are wearing plaid of their own volition. 4. If you notice a weird silence on your way to dinner at Jewett, don’t be alarmed. That’s just Lyman. 5. Creeping on People Search is basically a minor at Whitman.

Salute the


6. BSU will host a dance with a title that should strike you as perpetuating stereotypes, but you end up deciding it’s probably okay since they came up with it. 7. Despite what your awkward roommate might try to tell you, Magic Cards were never cool. 8. About once a semester, Whitman will bring a band to campus. It’ll be that one band that you pretended to like in order to hit on that hipster girl at the record store. You have to go to a state school for Macklemore.

Inftf_ofon: On¡ L¡ss Lkn¡ls Gfrl This week, The Backpage had our own reporter get down to the nitty gritty of I-week. Here, she interviews an anonymous newly-initiated first-year:

cuts. How does this strengthen the bonds of sisterhood? JBD: It’s really helpful not having hair in my face during the naked candle ceremony! Pio: Wait. What? JBD: Huh? Pio: You just said “naked candle ceremony.” JBD: No, I didn’t. Pio: Pretty sure you did. JBD: Naked Super Smash Bros. tourney. Pio: What? JBD: No further comment. (Subject runs away from interviewer, shiny locks of Bieber hair whipping back and forth)

Pio: So, do you guys undergo any physical changes? I noticed you’re rocking the J-Biebs style hair, yet we haven’t seen you on (awkward pause), so we’re forced to believe these are Greek shenanigans. Is this true? Justin Bieber Doppelganger: I can neither confirm nor deny that we were all forced to get bowl cuts. Although, I do believe Prentiss Dining Hall is missing a large quantity of bowls. Pio: Okay, so let’s just say you had to get bowl

Reasons to study abroad

Are you wondering what your major translates to in the real world? Maybe you are just regretting having switched out of BBMB into theater. In any case, we're offering a sampling of what some popular Whitman majors truly mean.

Asian Studies: You are probably Asian. Biology: You are pre-med and/ or uncreative. Chemistry: You don’t value your afternoons, and you definitely are not getting laid. Economics: Hustlenomic$ English: A degree to lay down sick beats that flow like a river. Environmental Studies _____________: Adding ES to a major means nothing more than the regular major would, you just have to do more (bullshit) work. Gender Studies: Seriously? Math: The square root of 69 is 8 somethin’, right? ‘Cause I’ve been tryna work it out, oh! Philosophy: The only major that really counts. Race and Ethnic Studies: You are a white girl.


kanyewest Kanye  West I  just  threw  some  bassoon  on  this  muthaf**ka.

kanye tweet of the week





ACROSS 1. Flightless bird 4. Muqtada al-_____ 8. Minute or house 12. Ghana capital 14. Sword, to Pierre 15. Rick’s flame in “Casablanca” 16. What the Sustainability Committee took? 18. Deceiver 19. The white of the eye 20. “_____ for one … ” 21. Lois of “Superman”

22. _____ Bizkit 24. A pyramid, for one 26. His Noodley Appendage, abbr. 29. “Shucks!” 31. Liver or brat 34. Hoppy alc. bev. 35. “_____ the Wild” 37. Unprocessed chocolate 39. Noah’s worst fear come true on Ankeny? 43. “Don’t _____ on me” 44. Loveseat or divan, for example 45. For, to Juan 46. Prefix to porosis 48. “_____ Get Together”

50. Sea-Tac stat. 51. Tail-less cat 53. What statistics draw on 55. Johnny Bravo’s parent 58. Collection 60. Cantaloupe or honeydew 64. Actor McGregor 65. Second semester starter for the Greeks? 67. Tear 68. Native dwelling 69. Musa of medieval Mali 70. Brother of Jacob 71. State of comfortability 72. “I like _____”

DOWN 1. New England NCAA grouping 2. One thousand two hundred fifty 3. “Family Matters” character Steve 4. “_____ what I mean?” 5. Sports medicine org. 6. Distributed 7. Till again 8. San Francisco suburb 9. Shawkat of “Arrested Development” 10. Northeastern Thai province 11. Challenge 12. Sit-up muscles

13. Medieval Catholic courtyards 17. Vice president Hannibal 23. Flashes of hunger 25. Excessive 26. Black power symbol 27. Vice president Agnew 28. Like lion fur and some facial hair 30. Bar seat 32. Rune or land 33. A gypsy’s hand? 36. Murdered, to Don Vito 38. Gumbo must 40. Nepal capital

41. “That’s the right ______” 42. Japanese mat 47. At the location itself 49. It might be blown off 52. Ancient Greek etiquette 54. Mongolian range 55. Nothing better than 56. Dread 57. Energy to cast spells, in Magic 59. Paycheck supplements 61. Babe’s utterance? 62. The front end of a jet 63. Airport of the O.C. 66. It’s often worn with a vest

Puzzle Slut








































































Whitman Pioneer - Spring 2011 Issue 2  

The second issue of the spring semester of 2011.

Whitman Pioneer - Spring 2011 Issue 2  

The second issue of the spring semester of 2011.