political review 20.3 | April 2014 | wupr.org
4/17/14 Mr. Wash. U. 2014 BENEFITING CITY FACES
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Editors’ Note Dear Reader, Editors-in-Chief: Moira Moynihan William Dobbs-Allsopp Executive Director: Nicolas Hinsch Staff Editors: Nahuel Fefer Aryeh Mellman Ben Lash Victoria Sgarro Features Editor: Billie Mandelbaum Grace Portelance Director of Design: Michelle Nahmad Asst. Director of Design: Alex Chiu Managing Copy Editor: Stephen Rubino Director of New Media: Raja Krishna
The last time the Political Review printed a Wash U issue, the thenEditors in Chief remarked that former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once famously said, “All politics is local.” Certainly this must be true of our university. We consider the day-to-day workings of our own campus to be political issues as worthy of our consideration as anything going on in Washington. We think that most everything is politics, and that no issues affect us with the same immediacy as those that emerge on our campus. From social media controversies to how few woman or person of color professors we have, politics is all around us. And we wanted to give our writers the chance to talk about it. Reading over this issue’s articles, what strikes us is how personally invested our authors are in their subjects. Maybe it is because the stakes are higher when we’re talking about Wash U, but these articles seem more urgent, more dramatic. We are sure that you will enjoy them as much as we have. Most importantly, if anything within these pages inspires you to write your own article, know that we are always excited to accept submissions with a Wash U focus. Enjoy, Will Dobbs-Allsopp Moira Moynihan
Programming Director: Hannah Waldman Finance Director: Alex Bluestone Front Cover: Alex Chiu Theme Page: Alex Chiu Back Cover: Sofia Kraushaar
We accept submissions from any undergraduate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents National 4
More Than War
THEME: wash u
12 Icarus: Plight of the
20 Do We Really Have the
Ari Moses 5
Michael Sam’s NFL Draft Prospects
14 Interview: The New SU Exec
Charlie Thau 6
Gambling with America’s Energy Security
White Man’s Burden 2.0
Texas, Back-Alley Abortions, and Other Developments in the “War on Women”
Rethinking the Student Activity Fee and the CarryForward Account Scott Haber
16 The Misunderstood SAT
The Anti-Intellectualism of the WashU Bubble
The Raze of Ruby Grace Portelance and Shivani Desai
Gabriel Rubin 9
Ben Gottesdiener 8
27 Wash U Isn’t Really in St. Louis 19
Wash U’s Model Minority
Billie Mandelbaum 10
The New Face of Somalia Aaron Christensen
RETRACTION We have been made aware that the article “Buddha, the Original Postmodernist,” published in our December 2013 Religion issue (19.4), contains several passages plagiarized from Stephen Batchelor’s piece, “Buddhism and Post Modernity.” The original essay appears as part of Batchelor’s contribution to Faith and Praxis in a Postmodern Age. We thus retract this article in its entirety. Though the responsibility for submitting plagiarized work ultimately lies with the author, we nonetheless apologize to both Dr. Batchelor and to our readers. We are in the process of implementing new safeguards in our publication process to minimize the chance of such an incident happening again.
Unless otherwise noted all images are from MCT Campus
Your Ideas Here WUPR is always accepting submissions from Washington University undergraduates. Send your ideas to email@example.com
more than war Aryeh Mellman
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the signing ceremony for a trade pact between Israel and the state of California.
hen Israel appears in American discourse, it is inevitably as a precursor to the words “— Palestine conflict.” The vast majority of Americans have no real reason to care about Israel beyond this discussion, so their knowledge base is restricted to what they see on the news. Inevitably, only wars can make far-off foreign countries salient to the public, so all that makes it into the news, and into people’s minds, is conflict. While the conflict does permeate many segments of Israeli life—mandatory army service, armed guards at public locations, and the separation barrier—thinking about a country only in terms of its conflict does a disservice to the daily lives and future aspirations of its average citizens. Israeli civil society is a symphony of ancient cultures and ingrained traditions, which plays in harmony with its booming economic sector. Considering Israel’s economic situation as a whole, we see a country that is anomalous in at least one respect: it barely experienced a recession in 2008, contrary to most developed economies at the time. This is attributed largely to the banking wizardry of Stanley Fisher, the former World Bank chief economist who headed Israel’s central bank from 2005-2013. Fisher is just one of a large community of Jewish-American olim (immigrants to Israel, literally, those who
went up) who felt the internal pull to move to the Jewish homeland. Under Fisher’s guidance, Israel has experienced relative economic prosperity in recent years, making it an attractive destination for JewishAmericans disenchanted with their own troubled economy. In addition to Fisher’s work at Israel’s central bank, the country’s booming hightech industry, famously documented in the Dan Senor work Start-up Nation, is a primary determinant of Israeli economic success. Israeli companies have developed many commonly used technologies, like the Intel dual core processor and the flash drive, and have stayed au courant by creating apps like Waze (sold to Google for $1.3 billion) and Viber (sold to Rakouten for $900 million). Accordingly, many Israelis have jumped on the high-tech bandwagon, working at high-tech companies
Thinking about a country only in terms of its conflict does a disservice to the daily lives and future aspirations of its average citizens. and looking to make the next big app and cash out. However, economic policy is currently clashing with military policy, in a way that also brings Israel’s Jewish character into the conversation. In the 1940s, Haredi Jews (ultra-orthodox, characterized by their uniform of white shirts and black hats, strict adherence to ritual law, minimal interaction with secular culture, and maximum separation between men and women), negotiated an agreement with the Israeli government to support a small portion of very bright students to study Torah full-time, allowing them to bypass the mandatory military service required of Israeli citizens. This agreement began with just a few hundred students in the 40s, but by 2014, this enterprise has ballooned to a massive 60,000 Haredim studying full-
time, supported almost wholly by taxpayers. As the Haredi population continues to increase, the tax burden falls even more heavily on other segments of Israeli society. Lawmakers have pressured Haredim to join the army and the workforce, introducing legislation that would mandate army service for most Haredim. In response, Haredim— who comprise one of the most loathed categories of Israeli society—have launched massive protests (one consisting of over 300,000 people) and have vowed to be sent to jail rather than serve in the army, which they believe to be morally corrosive and threatening to Jewish values. Typifying the reasons for popular anger at Haredim was the behavior of the past Chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, who was indicted last year for bribery, fraud, and money-laundering. Metzger’s arrest only solidified the perception of the Rabbinate (a government institution) as a vehicle for Haredi theft and patronage. This behavior is especially dissonant as it comes from a sect of Jews that is supposed to be scrupulously observant of Jewish law. Though Jews make up the majority of Israeli society, other religions and cultures, most notably Israeli-Arabs, are part of society as well. Interactions between Jewish Israelis and Israeli Arabs are strained; residential areas are somewhat segregated (de facto, not de jure), and Arab communities tend to get less government funding than Jewish communities, a situation not unlike that of some African-American communities in the United States. Now, political figures, like Finance Minister Yair Lapid, are attempting an overdue solution: purposefully expanding economic opportunities for Israeli-Arabs by increasing investment in education. This is all not to minimize the importance of coming to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. It is vital for the continued prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians that a fair and secure agreement be reached soon. That said, understanding Israeli society in its entirety humanizes some of the actors in the conflict. While conflict is the only color we see in many countries, in the countries themselves, it is just a shade of a much richer portrait. Aryeh Mellman is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at aryeh. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Sam’s NFL Draft Prospects Charlie Thau | Illustration by Alex Chiu
n February 9th, Michael Sam historically revealed that he is gay, making him the first openly gay NFL draft prospect. His announcement, just weeks before the scouting combine, was unquestionably courageous and surely inspirational to many LGBT community members and supporters across the country. In the following days, many speculated that Sam’s sexuality would affect his draft stock, with a minority of “inside sources” questioning whether the NFL, the ultimate macho haven, is ready for the “distraction” of an openly gay player. Eschewing the hypocritical few who view a man’s sexual orientation is a bigger distraction than sexual assault, the vast majority of the football world now seems to solely care about whether Michael Sam can help their team win. With that said, is Sam a viable NFL prospect from a pure football perspective? The answers seem to be mixed. As a defensive end for Missouri, Sam became the SEC Defensive Player of the Year as well as a first team All-American. He led the Tigers to a twelve win season and a Cotton Bowl victory, while recording 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss during his senior campaign. These accolades are impressive to say the least, particularly since being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year allows one to say that he is the best defensive player in the best football conference in America. Having said that, college success does not necessarily translate to the NFL. One need look no further than former SEC star and Heisman trophy winning quarterback, Tim Tebow, to demonstrate this fact. Sam’s biggest detriment coming into the draft is that he is a man without a position to play in the NFL. Almost all football teams construct their defenses around two very general “base” concepts, the 4-3 and the 3-4. The first number, i.e. the “4” in “4-3,” refers to the number of defensive lineman, while the second number, i.e. the “3” in “4-3” refers to the number of linebackers. The two base concepts are not mutually exclusive, yet most teams choose to center
I truly believe that wherever Sam is drafted will be a reflection on his football ability, and not his sexual orientation. their defenses around one or the other. Sam was a defensive end in a 4-3 system at Missouri, which relies on an aggressive defensive line to attack the quarterback. He was extraordinarily successful in this system because he was very quick to get to the quarterback off the snap, and able to get around many college offensive linemen using his speed. However, many scouts believe that he lacks the flexibility, strength, and ability to change directions that will allow him to have similar success against bigger, more athletic offensive linemen at the next level. Further, at 6-foot-2 and 261 pounds, Sam is actually small for a professional defensive end, a stigma that wasn’t helped by his seventeen reps on the bench press at the combine, second lowest among defensive ends. This is practically disqualifying if he wanted to transition to lineman in a 3-4 defensive system, in which
defensive ends are usually much larger in order to stop the run. If a 3-4 based team were to draft him, Sam would be converted to outside linebacker. Unfortunately, many teams view him as too unathletic to convert to linebacker, which was somewhat confirmed at the combine when he ran a lackluster 4.91 40-yard dash. Fortunately for Sam, he was extremely impressive in the “intangibles” portion of the combine. He handled the media with grace and aplomb, despite being swarmed by every member of print, television, and online news covering the event. It’s clear he is personable and a natural born leader, traits that NFL executives value more than most people think during the scouting process. Sam played a full season for an SEC powerhouse after coming out to his teammates in August, and every single player respected his privacy. That should say everything that needs to be said and more regarding whether an NFL team is able to accept an openly gay player. As teammate L’Damian Washington told cbssports.com, “If a 17-year-old freshman can accept the fact that a teammate has a different [sexual] preference, why can’t a 33-year-old [veteran] accept that fact?” Ultimately, Michael Sam will most likely be drafted somewhere in the 3rd-5th rounds. The NFL—as the cliché goes—is a passing league, and players who are adept at rushing the passer will always have a place in the pro game. As of last year, sixteen NFL teams ran a 4-3 based defense, and all 32 have a place for somebody who can disrupt the offense. It’s 2014, and as Jason Collins has proven in the NBA, ability will always remain the paramount criterion when judging an athlete. Consequently, I truly believe that wherever Sam is drafted will be a reflection of his football ability and not his sexual orientation. Charlie Thau is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Gambling With America’s Energy Security Ben Gottesdiener
n October 1973, Egypt and Syria, with the support of other Arab states, launched an attack on Israel, sparking the conflict that would later be known as the Yom Kippur War. The United States provided Israel with both financial aid and military aid throughout the war, but their support had consequences. Specifically, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Producing Countries (OAPEC) retaliated by imposing an export embargo of petroleum on the United States and cutting petroleum production by 25 percent. In the span of a month, oil, the worlds most precious resource, became a political weapon. The 1973 oil embargo squeezed global oil supply and quadrupled the price of oil, nearly crippling the American economy in the process. With the dangers and vulnerability associated with dependence on foreign sources of energy clear, the American government banned exports of American oil outside of North America in 1975. The policy ensured that all oil being produced in the Untied States was used to power the American economy, and was intended to limit the vulnerability associated with the United States’ dependence on foreign energy and mitigate the use of oil as a political weapon. The ban still exists today. America’s dependence on foreign energy was born as domestic consumption began to outpace domestic production in the late 1950’s. Many of the oil fields in Texas and Oklahoma that had been powering the American economy were maturing and production was waning; by 1973, domestic production of oil peaked and began to decline. In turn, the countries in the Middle East with massive reserves began ramping up production to meet global demand—the Middle East became the epicenter of global energy production. Recently, the United States has experienced a boom in energy production. Huge swaths of land rich with natural gas have been discovered, and new technologies have catalyzed growth in domestic oil production. As a result of this boom in domestic production, many believe American energy independence is on the horizon,
The United States is at a crossroads. We can either commit to reducing longterm energy risk, or take advantage of a much needed economic boost. and argue that it is time to lift the ban on American oil exports. A recent article by Blake Clayton of the Council on Foreign Relations, “The Case for Allowing U.S. Crude Oil Exports,” encapsulates the largely economic argument in favor of lifting the ban. The author argues that “Removing all proscriptions on crude oil exports, except in extraordinary circumstances, will strengthen the U.S. economy and promote the efficient development of the country’s energy sector…Exporting energy is good for the economy. Crude oil exports could generate upward of $15 billion a year in revenue by 2017 at today’s prices, according to industry estimates.” Clayton goes on to argue that energy companies will receive a much-needed boost by selling oil at higher world prices and that the increased rewards to production will incentivize further domestic production
growth and benefit domestic refineries. The ban, however, was never intended to produce economic growth – it was meant to protect the energy dependent United States from the vulnerability stemming from its reliance on foreign energy. Clayton’s argument, while valid, is shortsighted and only tells half of the story – it fails to address how lifting this ban will compromise national security. Although many believe American energy independence is on the horizon, the United States, as of 2012, is still only 80 percent energy independent, and produces only 11,000,000 of the 18,500,000 (~60 percent) barrels of oil it consumes domestically every day. The United States still has a ways to go before achieving energy independence and it is too soon to even consider lifting the ban. Even if we assume that American energy independence will come sooner than we think, the call for lifting the export ban is shortsighted, as the near-term economic benefit does not outweigh the long-term security risk of returning to increased reliance on foreign sources of energy. Although lifting the ban would catalyze the American economy and its energy infrastructure, the US oil supply is finite. It is thus inevitable that we will reach a day when the domestic sources of oil mature and domestic consumption, once again, outpaces production. At this point, the United States, and the world will have to turn to renewable energy source. However, the shift to renewables is a long term, expensive project, the ban on oil exports is critical to allowing the United States to maintain its energy security during this transition. The United States is at a crossroads. We can either commit to reducing long-term energy risks or take advantage of a much needed economic boost. Unfortunately, the dangers of energy dependence are too great to be overlooked and small, industry specific economic expansion is not worth the cost in terms of national security. By continuing the ban on oil exports despite the boom in domestic oil production, the United States has the opportunity, at last, to achieve sustained energy independence and limit the dangers of energy dependence.
Ben Gottesdiener is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Much Petroleum Does The US Import And Where Does It Come From? (2012) “’Petroleum’ includes crude oil and refined petroleum products like gasoline, and biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. In 2012, about 80% of gross petroleum imports were crude oil, and about 57% of all crude oil that was processed in U.S. refineries was imported.” All data was taken from the US Energy Information Administration http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=727&t=6
TOP SOURCES OF IMPORTED PETROLEUM OPEC Countries*
TOP FIVE IMPORT SOURCES BY COUNTRY Canada Saudi Arabia
Persian Gulf Countries
The data in the bar graphs show NET IMPORTS and EXPORTS TO IMPORT SOURCES. The entire bar represents GROSS IMPORTS. The pie charts show percent share of NET IMPORTS by Import Source and Individual Countries.
milllions of barrels per day
milllions of barrels per day
PERCENT SHARE OF NET IMPORTS By Import Source
By Individual Countries
Saudi Arabia (13%)
Persian Gulf Countries (29%) OPEC Countries* (55%)
Mexico (10%) Venezuela (9%) Russia (5%)
*OPEC Countries include: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela
Infographic by Simin Lim
White Man’s Burden 2.0 Gabriel Rubin
ebastião Salgado has a bit of a primitivist fetish. In his latest project, an expansive installation at Madrid’s Caixa Forum, the celebrated photojournalist tries to capture the Earth’s most breathtaking landscapes in places like the Sandwich Islands and the Amazon in order to draw attention to their fragility and impending destruction. Given his nearly unrivaled talents as a photographer, the fact that Salgado has chosen to devote his efforts to the cause of environmental activism should be applauded—if only the results weren’t so disturbingly Eurocentric and paternalistic. Salgado calls his project “Genesis”—as in, the images you are about to see are God’s creation in its purest, most unadulterated, undeveloped state. That proposition is easy enough to accept for the first several rooms of the installation, surrounded by images of windswept polar tundra and close-ups of Antarctic mammals, seabirds sunning themselves and seals performing mating rituals. This is the Salgado the viewer came to see, with nary a cliché image, nothing that has ever appeared in a National Geographic spread or “Planet Earth” episode. Somehow, he makes the ubiquitous visage of a penguin seem novel, highlighting both the wonders of evolution and the risks of climate change. The curators have organized the exhibition by continent, starting with Antarctica. It is when the visitor moves north to “Africa” that the exhibit takes a disturbing downturn. It’s a well known but rarelyacknowledged tendency of museum-goers to pay close attention to the first few items of an installation before their eyes glaze over and each item receives progressively less attention. Such is the case in the Africa section of Salgado’s exhibit, when the toll of several (however beautiful) hippopotami begins to set in. Suddenly, the visitor comes across the face of a human being, and is knocked out of his daydream. A human being? The first roughly 100 photographs have been animals or landscapes. But now, he comes face to face with two members of the Mursi tribe based in Ethiopia, which the curators have helpfully identified as a tribe with some of the “last people on Earth” to practice ritual facial mutilation. The visitor moves forward through the exhibit, worried. The “Asia” and “Americas”
galleries only confirm his suspicions: Salgado’s position, and the purpose of the exhibition, is to document the “last primitives” before they become extinct due to the nefarious forces of globalization and global warming. Salgado’s thesis would be less problematic if he had, say, shown the other people endangered by climate change, from Dakar slum residents to natives of Far Rockaway, New York. Instead, he has chosen to showcase indigenous peoples as the sole desperate, voiceless, hopelessly outnumbered future victims of environmental disaster. Unless, of course, the White Man steps in to save them.
Salgado’s position, and the purpose of the exhibition, is to document the “last primitives” before they become extinct due to the nefarious forces of globalization and global warming. For those who find this critique too damning, I’d direct you to Salgado’s words, mounted on a wall at the end of the exhibition: “As well as displaying the beauty of nature, Genesis is a call to arms. We cannot continue polluting our soil, water, and air. We must act now to preserve unspoiled land and seascapes and protect the natural sanctuaries of ancient peoples and animals.” Salgado presents humanity as bifurcated: the modern polluters on the one hand and the “ancient peoples” on the other. And, apparently, those peoples have as much agency as the animals with whom they cohabitate in these “natural sanctuaries” that Salgado has captured on camera. Salgado’s final words recall the same paternalistic language and ideas used throughout history to justify all manners of white action “on behalf” of marginalized groups. As someone who claims to be a card-
Wilson Dias/ABr [CC BY 3.0 BR]
Photojournalist Sebastiao Selgado (left) presents a copy of his book, Trabalhadores, to former Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula de Silva.
carrying member of the international Left, Salgado should know the implications of his thoughtlessly patronizing actions. In his widely debated essay, “The White Savior Industrial Complex,” written in response to the Kony 2012 craze, novelist Teju Cole posited, “The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” Salgado’s exhibition serves that exact purpose. Essentially, by visiting his exhibition, and possibly donating 10 euros to the World Wildlife Fund, you have responded to Salgado’s “call to arms” and assuaged your conscience. Meanwhile, you’ll likely drive home from the exhibition and spend your evening destroying fragile ecosystems via your power-guzzling electronic devices. Salgado’s exhibition proves that he, unfortunately, is simply a slightly refined version of Rudyard Kipling trumpeting the White Man’s Burden through aesthetically pleasing art. According to Salgado and Kupling’s line of thought, modern man has a responsibility to endangered wildlife and human beings (who, for his purposes, are really just wildlife), which he can fulfill by “being aware” and “acting now.” But upon leaving the exhibit, the visitor can’t help but ponder: does Salgado think indigenous people have more in common with the people paying to see his photos or with hippos? Gabriel Rubin is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at grubin@ wustl.edu.
Texas, Back-Alley Abortions, and Other Developments in the “War on Women” Billie Mandelbaum
n 2011, there were 44 facilities in Texas where abortions were performed. Today, only 24 facilities remain. This decline stems from stringent regulations put in place by Texas House Bill 2, which was signed into law last year by Governor Rick Perry. The legislation requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius and mandates that all procedures take place in ambulatory surgical centers. To get admitting privileges, doctors must undergo an extensive application process, and many hospitals, citing religious reasons, refuse to even accept applications. Meanwhile, upgrading a clinic to an ambulatory surgical center poses high costs to abortion providers. Facing these logistical and financial challenges, abortion providers have been forced to shut down their clinics. Whole Women’s Health, a privately-owned women’s health and abortion care organization in Texas, closed two of its clinics in March 2014. In an interview with the New York Times, Amy Hagstorm Miller, the chief executive of Whole Women’s Health, said the closures were due to House Bill 2 provisions. “It’s heartbreaking for us. It’s been a very difficult decision. I tried everything I can. I just can’t keep the doors open,” Miller said. Yet at the time of the bill’s passage, Perry praised its merits. “This is an important day for those who support life and for those who
As abortion clinics shutter, women in Texas are becoming the latest casualties in the Right’s “War on Women.” support the health of Texas women,” Perry said. “In signing House Bill 2, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built.” While Perry, Republicans in the state legislature, and pro-life activists argued that the bill would be in the best interest of women’s health, the effects of the bill’s passage prove otherwise. As abortion clinics shutter, women in Texas are becoming the latest casualties in the Right’s “War on Women.” With limited access to abortion services, women are left with few choices but to resort to dangerous abortion practices. This phenomenon is particularly widespread in southern Texas, in the state’s Rio Grande Valley, a region with 1.3 million residents. With the recent closure of the valley’s only remaining clinic on March 6, there are no longer any abortion providers in the region. This means that female residents of the area seeking an abortion must now make either a 300-mile round trip to Corpus Christi or a 500mile round trip to San Antonio to reach a clinic. However, given travel costs, the price of the procedure itself, and the demographics of the region—one of the poorest in Texas—such a trip is rarely feasible. As a result, women are taking matters into their own hands by illegally purchasing misoprostol, an ulcer drug, to induce miscarriage and self-
Demonstrators outside the Capitol auditorium in Austin, Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 2, July 18, 2013.
abort their pregnancies. By inserting the ulcer drug—which is prescribed in the United States under the brand-name Cyotec—into her vagina, a woman can cause contractions and bleeding, leading to a miscarriage. While medical studies have found that the use of the drug is 90 percent effective in terminating first trimester pregnancies, the drug’s use among women in the Rio Grande Valley has been far less safe. Because misoprostol is a prescription medication, women in the valley can either obtain the drug across the border from pharmacies in Mexico or purchase pills on the black-market from flea markets sprinkled throughout the region. As a result, women have no idea as to whether they are purchasing the drug in its purest form. Moreover, while misoprostol can be used to end a pregnancy, it does not necessarily lead to the evacuation of the uterus, leading to the risk of lifethreatening infection. Dr. Lesto Minto, an OB-GYN who served as an abortion provider for over 30 years in the Rio Grande Valley, was forced to stop performing such services in October 2013 because he was denied hospital admitting privileges. Dr. Minto recently told New Republic magazine that since House Bill 2’s passage, 100 of the 200 patients he has seen have come to him to “resolve” miscarriages. Such an incidence suggests a rise in the use of misoprostol. That women in the United States, a country that constitutionally protects a woman’s right to secure an abortion during the first trimester of her pregnancy, are being forced to take up rogue abortion methods points to an alarming and emerging trend. According to a January report from NARAL Pro-Choice America, 807 laws have been passed since 1995 that limit abortion access in some way. As states continue to pass such legislation, women will be forced to continue adopting dangerous, back-alley abortion arrangements. While Republicans and pro-lifers may veil their legislative efforts as initiatives to protect women’s health, it is women who suffer in the wake of such policies. Billie Mandelbaum is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
the new face of somalia Aaron Christensen | Map by Jeremy Smith
olitical maps do not reflect the world as it really is but rather the cartographer’s idealized world. This is particularly evident when looking at a map of Somalia, nominally an independent state with static borders since 1960. In reality, Somalia does not exist as a singular political entity, and it has topped the failed state index annually since 2008. Violence and chaos in the country began in 1991, when several rebel groups ousted long-standing dictator Siad Barre. Since then, many large militant groups and countless smaller local militias with overlapping claims of power have administered what was once Somalia. Over the years, various militant groups and governments have attempted to restore unity. However, all of these administrations, Islamist and pro-Western alike, have failed. Today, Somalia isn’t a state; it’s a vacuum where a state used to be. But nature abhors a vacuum, and the new face of Somalia is slowly emerging. Generally speaking, the main battle today is between the internationally recognized but weak Somali Federal Government (SFG) and an African Union sponsored intervention force on one hand, and the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab on the other. But the fight is more complex than that. This new Somalia face will be composed of six distinct regions, each one closely intertwined with the actions of the others and of regional powers. The Ethiopian Occupation Ethiopia’s territory is an idea more than a specific set of borders. Because its highlands are too far inland to be easily dominated by coastal powers, Ethiopia has been able to maintain independence for almost a millennium. However, the threat of invasion from the coast still exists. Therefore, Ethiopia’s main strategic imperative is to acquire its own access to the sea and defend itself against any coastal power trying to expand inland towards its borders. Somalia became Ethiopia’s main coastal threat after European decolonization. Therefore, it was perhaps a relief to Ethiopia when Somalia collapsed in 1991. In late 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia immediately after an Islamist government
had come to power and consolidated control of most of southern Somalia. Ethiopia’s intervention was pure realpolitik, designed to break apart its potential challenger. Today, Ethiopian forces remain in Somalia, fighting Al-Shabaab with an army of Ethiopian regulars, various allied tribal militias, and proxy militant groups. These forces occupy and administer large areas along the Somali-Ethiopian border. Ethiopia hopes to use this border territory to retain political leverage in the ruins of Somalia. Ethiopia does not want total chaos in Somalia; it merely wants a weak and disorganized neighbor. To this extent, Ethiopia cooperates with the SFG in fighting AlShabaab while retaining control over most of the southern Somali-Ethiopian border. Ethiopia has maintained very friendly relations with Somaliland since the latter’s independence in the 1990s because Somaliland may provide Ethiopia with a stable and reliable outlet to the Indian Ocean. Somaliland The northwestern province of Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991 following political repression and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Siad Barre. Twenty-three years later, this breakaway province is doing well, holding competitive elections and developing government institutions. The young state has been largely successful in subduing and integrating tribal militias and driving piracy out of its territory. Still, Somaliland’s independence is not formally recognized by a single country. It does, however, have a foreign backer in Ethiopia. Somaliland and Ethiopia have formed a natural alliance from their shared opposition to Somalia. Additionally, sea trade through the growing Port of Berbera in Somaliland is key to this relationship. The two countries have begun massive infrastructure projects to turn Berbera into a major port and to better connect it to Ethiopia. Through Berbera, Somaliland gives Ethiopia access to the sea, while still ensuring a fragmented Somali coastline that will not be able to threaten the Ethiopian interior. Furthermore, Somaliland is an ally positioned between Somalia and Er-
itrea, Ethiopia’s enemies. In turn, Ethiopia has become a stronger protector state to Somaliland and provides Somaliland with major economic opportunities. In the future, Ethiopia will help Somaliland to further assert its independence and to secure international recognition. Puntland The north-central province of Puntland declared its autonomy at a meeting of tribal leaders in 1998. However, the region was semi-anarchic until the late 2000s, when the regional government finally began to stabilize the area. In 2009, a new government passed a new constitution and began to disarm militias and criminal gangs. With the creation of a maritime security military unit, the Puntlander government drove the Somali pirates out of Puntland in 2011. Puntlander Security Forces are currently fighting an Al-Shabaab enclave hiding in mountains in northern Puntland. Puntland is supposedly a loyal, autonomous part of Somalia. In reality, the SFG has very little leverage in Puntland, which functions largely as an independent state. In the future, Puntland will try to further consolidate control over its territory and may work with the SFG, provided that Mogadishu respect Puntland’s autonomy. Although Puntland has a disputed border with Somaliland, Puntland’s new government is capable of defending itself. Jubaland: The Kenyan buffer zone Somalia’s southern neighbor, Kenya, is deeply worried about the violence to its north, especially after Al-Shabaab’s deadly 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. Kenya has been a major contributor to the African Union intervention against AlShabaab since invading Al-Shabaab-controlled southern Somalia in 2011 under Operation Linda Nchi (“Protect the Country,” a telling name). By invading southern Somalia, Kenya hoped to create a buffer zone in order to keep out the chaos to its north. To this end, Kenya has encouraged the autonomy of the southern Jubaland region under the control of warlord Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe” and his militia,
the Raskamboni Movement. Although the exact borders of Jubaland are disputed and Madobe’s control is weak, Kenyan support makes him the strongest of the local warlords. Currently, Ethiopia and Kenya share influence over the region, resulting in some tension between them. But their goals in Jubaland are not mutually exclusive, and both countries will likely agree to a compromise government. Kenya has a worse relationship with the SFG, which has put pressure on Kenyan forces to leave Jubaland for fear that Madobe will become too powerful to control from Mogadishu. Madobe’s administration is acceptable to Kenya for now, but his loyalties are questionable and Kenya may replace him if a more trustworthy alternative appears. Even with international support, Madobe will face an upward struggle to consolidate control over Jubaland. The Islamists’ Emirate On the other side of the conflict lies Al-Shabaab. Not all of its members are radical Islamists; many joined out of tribal loyalties or to simply find a job. The group gets support from weaker clans that dislike the dominant Hawiye clan. Al-Shabaab capitalizes on disillusionment with the Somali Federal Government and presents itself as a legitimate, incorruptible government capable of uniting diverse clans. It is building infrastructure and doing charity work in areas it controls. The group is strongest in south-central Somalia, but it has influence throughout the entire country. Al-Shabaab is currently fighting every other actor in Somalia, and the United States carries out drone strikes on AlShabaab leaders. Therefore, Al-Shabaab is currently on the decline, having lost large parts of its territory in the numerous offensives against it. Al-Shabaab is also hurt by internal leadership disputes. As the group weakens, Al-Shabaab’s enemies will discover that Somalia’s problems are caused by more than one angry militant group. Given the inability of the SFG to satisfy the Somali people, Islamism will likely continue as a political alternative in areas where the government is weak, regardless of how Al-Shabaab itself fares. Greater Mogadishu and the Federal Government Mogadishu itself is a treasure. Besides its symbolic value as the capital of Somalia,
Mogadishu’s population is six times larger than the next largest city in southern Somalia. Intense fighting over the city occurred in the 1990s and later in the 2000s. While the SFG previously controlled only a small part of Mogadishu, now it controls the entire city. The city is dependent on the support of African Union peacekeepers to survive, as the discipline and loyalty of its own army are questionable. The SFG does have some authority, but it is only one of many actors in Somalia. Around half of former Somalia by both land area and by population is part of autonomous or secessionist regions. The federal government governs only a fraction of the remaining half, and its governance is often very weak and corrupt. The SFG in its current form will never have sovereignty over Somalia. The Future of the Borders The official borders of Somalia have
not changed since 1960, despite the dynamic and fragmented situation on the ground. There is, however, some hope for a reunified Somalia in one form or another. Parts of Somalia are still largely anarchic, but the main six regions are expanding to encompass these areas, too. Somalia had a united government in the past, so it is not inconceivable that from the current feuding mini-states a new Somalia will one day emerge. If cartographers embrace their idealized vision of Somalia for long enough, it might one day prove right.
Aaron Christensen is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. .
ICarus: plight of the bitcoin investor Ari Moses | Illustration by Margaret Flatley
ne Saturday afternoon in 2009, a group of tech-savvy friends and colleagues were talking about how they could revolutionize the technology world. After much debate, they finally decided on creating a crypto currency with layered encryption, untraceable e-addresses, and open sources, all the while being unregulated by any monetary regulatory institution. It would become the people’s currency, free from manipulation by bankers and governments. It is the generic story of all of the Silicon Valley firms, a traditional rags to riches story. While this story may be what some people believe about Bitcoin’s origin, it is far from the truth. In 2009, an author operating under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to Peer Electronic Cash System.” To this day, the author of the paper remains unknown; in short, the origins of Bitcoin are as shadowy as its main function in e-commerce today. Bitcoin and its Uses Users generate the encrypted currency by running advanced computer protocols and algorithms to search for blocks that contain 25 bitcoins and surface approximately every 10 minutes. Certain users “mine” bitcoins, by running scripted mining programs that deliver bitcoins to the user over time. In exchange, the program consumes CPU power and electricity to process Bitcoin transactions into the main transaction log. Essentially, the user is performing all of the work for the Bitcoin service. Since obtaining a Bitcoin block is difficult, users form into guilds to find the blocks and then split the reward evenly among all members. Because Bitcoin transactions are anonymous and cannot be tracked, a majority of Bitcoin transactions occur for illicit activities on encrypted websites on the Deep Web. The only services with which to pay with bitcoins remain largely illegal sites for drugs, weapons, hacks, assassinations, and services catering to all other desires. These sites are accessed through the encrypted Tor network that houses no central servers and is open sourced to users. Essentially, the Tor network bounces your IP address through proxy servers across continents so that no company or organization can locate your geographic location. Other services from deep web sites include counterfeiting, including
fake IDs, passports, and money. In October 2013, the FBI arrested the founder of the Silk Road, the largest anonymous marketplace for illegal activities. During criminal processing, the FBI provided evidence that 9.5 million bitcoins, at a valuation of $1.2 billion, passed through the Silk Road’s servers over a two and a half year period, out of the 11.75 million bitcoins in circulation at the time. Historical Value and Regulation The value of a Bitcoin has risen from $0.01 in 2009 to over $1,000 in October of 2013, with periods of high volatility in between. The only way to transfer your bitcoins (BTC) into cash is through a monetary exchange such as BitStamp, Bitfinex, or Mt. Gox, which function in the same way as the NYSE. As of March 3, 2014, the price of a Bitcoin is $570 on most exchanges, but that price can shift from as little as 1 percent to as much as 20 percent in a day. This is the core problem with Bitcoin. It is unregulated, so no commercial or investment bank will accept bitcoins and no government regulatory committee controls the generation or monitoring of transactions. With no monitoring policies, the value of bitcoins are extremely volatile. This volatility
The only services with which to pay with bitcoins remain largely illegal sites for drugs, weapons, hacks, assassinations, and services catering to all other desires. is due mainly to the nature of Bitcoin trading, which is highly speculative. Some investors view Bitcoin as a currency rapidly increasing in value, and do not realize that they are currently purchasing into and fueling a monetary bubble. Since Bitcoin retains no intrinsic value, its value is determined solely by what other investors are willing to pay for the currency. While the U.S. dollar and many other currencies have been taken off the gold standard over the past 50 years, the
governments of those nations still back each monetary unit generated and in circulation. The U.S. dollar provides a utility to the consumer as it is accepted in virtually every nation across the globe, while bitcoins are not accepted as legal tender by any major or minor company, delivering no utility for the consumer. Legal and Investor Relations The recent collapse of Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, has served to illustrate the insolvency of this currency. Hackers, for the first time, manipulated the source code to steal bitcoins. The exchange was unable to combat these cyber-thieves, eventually resulting in its collapse. The CEO of Mt. Gox has recently appeared and stated that the bitcoins on the exchange were lost, the total value of which is close to $500 million . Many of the consumers lost all of their bitcoins on the exchange. Because there is no regulatory body governing Bitcoin, the investors have no legal recourse to reclaim lost monetary investments. The speculation over this currency has reached dangerous levels. It is not a question of if this unregulated crypto currency will fail, but when.
Ari Moses is a Freshman in the Olin Business School. He can be reached at email@example.com.
WUPRegistration It’s that time of year again! Registering for classes is full of difficult decisions, but your friends at WUPR are about to make your life a lot easier! As was famously said by Pericles, “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” We think everyone should try taking at least one poli-sci class while at Wash U. To make it simple, here are some reviews of upcoming classes with a political focus. — Grace Portelance
American Politics is a great intro-level survey course in the poli-sci department. It may be repetitive if you’ve taken AP Government, but it definitely gives you a base knowledge that all U.S. citizens should have on the workings of the government. If textbooks and traditional studying aren’t your thing, bingewatching the “West Wing” is a surefire way to get an A+.
Violence Against Women is by far one of the most important courses taught on this campus. With an estimated one in four women being the victim of completed or attempted rape during her college career, this class critically examines interpersonal violence to provide a frame through which we can consider violence academically. Professor Jami Ake is without a doubt one of the best professors on campus, and her level of knowledge about and passion for the issue will inspire any student who takes her course.
You should consider taking Environment and Energy Issues, if for no other reason than that having Bill Lowry as a professor during your time at Wash U is a must. This course is a mile wide and an inch deep, giving you a broad overview of environmentalism in the US. The course is split into two parts: the first half focuses on American environmental movements
Professor Knapp’s The Cold War, 19451991 class is home-based in the History department and offers a detailed look at the entire history of the Cold War from 1945 through 1991. Professor Knapp is an engaging lecturer who works primary documents and film clips into his lectures, and he is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the era. Course grades are averages of three papers that ask for arguments based on lecture and primary documents, and grading is not too strict. It’s a good course for history buffs as well as people who are interested in general global affairs and current events, as the Cold War is certainly still relevant in today’s public discourse.
and the second discusses current and historical forms of energy. The tests are easy, the paper is fairly graded, and every day with Lowry is a day well spent. Prepare yourself to hear stories of his time as a park ranger, free spirit, and generally cooler guy than you.
If you enjoy learning about complex and arcane political systems, Politics of the European Union provides a great introduction to one of the world’s most important and commonly misunderstood political entities. After a refresher on European geography and the relative strength of the EU member states’ economies, you will learn about how the EU emerged in the aftermath of World War II and the seven major institutions that comprise it today. And while the Eurozone crisis has mostly left the headlines for now, we have likely not heard the last of economic problems plaguing the union’s common currency. Professor Gabel’s lectures are engaging and he assigns informative and interesting readings, making this a standout class in the Political Science department.
In Turning Passion into Policy, students learn how to give testimony on real bills entering the Missouri Senate. Tom Irwin, a veteran political operator, is a different kind of teacher who offers a new perspective on American politics. This is a near impossible class to fail and you will be surprised at how much you learn about the political process by being forced to simulate it yourself.
Tom Irwin’s other class, Just Do It! Running for Political Office, is a one credit pass-fail class that aims to simulate life on a political campaign. Students split up into groups to prepare for a presentation in front of potential donors at Clayton City Hall. Last fall, both the mayor and county executive stopped by for a chat.
the tyler administration WUPR took a moment this month to talk with the recently elected SU Exec. Excerpts from our conversation are below, and we encourage you to check out the full interview at www.wupr.org.
The members of Elevate! Slate, who were recently elected to SU exec and assumed office this month. Back, from left: VP of Public Relations Brian Benton, VP of Finance Nick Palermo, and VP of Administration Vivek Biswas. Front, from left: VP of Programming Laura Roettges and President Emma Tyler.
WUPR: Thanks for sitting down with us. Emma, you’re the first female president in quite some time and looking at the most recent election, there were very few women on the ballot. How do you plan on tackling the problem of gender diversity in SU? Emma Tyler: Great question. I am definitely excited about being one of the first female SU presidents in a while. Even when I was a freshman in SU, there were a lot more females in SU than there are now. Last year only one female was on SU Exec, and by the way WUPR wrote a great editorial on that…It goes along with all kinds of diversity on campus. Treasury, especially, is not representative of campus right now, with one female out of 19 treasury reps...I think SU as a whole just needs to do a better job of recruiting groups that aren’t currently
represented in SU. WUPR: During your campaign, you proposed eliminating slates in future SU elections. What do you hope this will accomplish? Tyler: When we were campaigning we talked a lot about the issue of eliminating slates, because we think the slate system creates this culture where you have to be an SU insider...to run for SU exec. You have to know who’s good at their job, what past SU execs have done, and it really discourages people outside of SU or newly involved in it to run. And that’s not the way it should be. I think by eliminating the slates you’ll get many more individual candidates who are qualified for their individual position. For example, Brian is the first VP PR in a couple years who has real media skills - video,
website, graphics - and by eliminating the slate system we’ll get more people like him, who are not necessarily in SU but have these PR skills, to run for these positions. Brian Benton: I think it is important to realize that in SU elections there obviously are differing opinions, but its kind of more like a primary election than the real presidential election. Everyone kind of agrees on things, it’s just the nitty gritty details where people differ. It’s more important to find out who is actually going to be able to get things done. Obviously there are going to be differing opinions, but the benefits definitely outweigh the fact that it might take a bit of time for everyone to get used to each other’s ideas. Tyler: I think the SU exec positions are struc-
tured in a way so that they are very independent from one another. Once five people got elected, they could come together and make their overall agenda for the year. But the VP Finance agenda is going to be very different from VP PR, VP Administration, so to have people run and really think about their one position will actually create better elected slates overall. WUPR: Let’s shift to budget stuff. There have been complaints about the decision to cut Bauhaus funding, a decision which you [Nick Palermo] were part of. Can you explain your decision? Nick Palermo: So, it’s kind of difficult to know where to start this question, because it has a lot of history. In the general budget, we definitely wanted to prioritize the events, class councilwise, that were consistently the strongest and had the most attendance. So, En Council and Vertigo has consistently been a very well run event...Same thing with Art Prom... The reason why I didn’t specifically commit to money for Bauhaus was at the input of [the previous] SU Exec and some of our advisors in SU. We considered that this was one of the lowest turnouts at Bauhaus yet, [an event] which has pretty large costs. You know I wasn’t aware that the tent itself for that was $8,000, which is pretty much half of what En Council spends on Vertigo. The idea was to give them time to put together an event that is more cohesive and would allow for more people to come to it... Something that I realized, though, in the aftermath of the StudLife article etc. is that the groups I fund in the general budget are groups that I constantly need to be following up with by keeping them in the loop about ongoing funding trends and giving them the chance to respond. That was something I really didn’t do with Architecture School Council. I think it is unfortunate because it’s something that only really came to me after putting together a general budget this last year…[Bauhaus} is definitely something we are committed to doing. WUPR: This is a question for those of you who previously served on the Social Programming Board (SPB). You’ve had so many successful PR campaigns in SPB. How will that translate to SU Exec? Benton: Yeah I mean I think that is probably the goal. If you think about the fact that a year and a half ago, people didn’t know what SPB was, because it was a new group. Just in the one year Emma and I were on SPB, I think it be-
Sid Haskins/WU Photo Services
The previous SU Exec [above] officially left office on Thursday, April 3. From left, VP of Finance Nick Palermo, President Matthew Re, VP of Administration Liz Hay, VP of Public Relations Michael Land, and VP of Programming William Waldron.
came a logo that people recognized and a name people were able to connect to the events SPB organized. I think there is a lot that SU does that people don’t really know about because the SU branding and SU presence just isn’t there...And then things that SPB has done with social media, like our Facebook campaign to announce WILD artists and then announcing Happy Hour. The SPB Facebook page is something people care about checking. WUPR: We thought we heard somewhere that you plan on re-vamping the SU website? Benton: Yeah, that’s been in the talks for years. Yeah, so SPB website I did one summer and I’m going to work with Eric Suiter, our tech advisor, and a few other people to hopefully actually get that moving and get it up and running. WUPR: What is at the top of each of your priority lists? Vivek Biswas: I can take that. As someone who has been involved with SU, and the Senate specifically, for the last 3 years, I think on the exec level that we have a constitutional infrastructure that hasn’t been followed and a lot of the problems we see in SU are a direct result of that. WUPR: Can you give us an example? Biswas: Recruitment and retention. The VP of Administration is supposed to head a committee dedicated to recruitment and reten-
tion, which as far as I know hasn’t happened throughout the entirety of my SU career, which is quite lengthy now. Recruitment and retention is a problem, so it’s baffling that we have this constitutional requirement that hasn’t been acted upon. Another example is the School Presidents Council. Bringing that back will help us spread SU’s message to a more localized school level. En Council has a better understanding of what engineers want and what engineers need than SU. So I think opening up that line of communication with the 5 presidents of the school council will be good. So it’s not really much of a vision, but basically I hope to do what’s required of my position... Tyler: I want to sit down with each individual point of the platform and make a timeline to implement them. I think SU Exec is a really cool experience where a lot of things are the same year after year: Nick will have to conduct Presidents and Treasurers training; Brian will have to send the all-school emails... When I was on SPB, that [was] an organization where something new comes up every day, it’s really hard to implement big changes right off the bat. I could probably name more things we didn’t get the chance to do than things we did. But with SU Exec, we have the opportunity to accomplish the vast majority of these things. VP of Programming Laura Roetgges was unable to attend the interview.
The Misunderstood SAT Nicolas Hinsch
o obstacle along the college admissions gauntlet attracts so much criticism as the SAT. Scores on the SAT or ACT are second in importance only to grades in determining college admissions decisions, and by the time students take the test, there is little they can do to dramatically improve their performance. It is therefore unsurprising that the College Board’s recently announced changes to the exam reawakened discussion about the role that this test plays as a gatekeeper to the nation’s selective colleges. The planned changes correct many of the problems introduced by the poorly
Inequalities in the admissions system are not the fault of the SAT, but rather of those who are unwilling to make considerations for disadvantaged students. conceived 2003 revision of the test and are generally worthy of praise. The essay section, which currently allots only 25 minutes to the task of developing a coherent persuasive argument, will become optional and provide more time. The verbal and math sections will once again carry equal weight; currently, the Math section only counts for 1/3 of the test’s total points. But these changes have not been enough to quiet the army of critics that insists that the SAT perverts the college admissions process, favoring wealthy students who can afford expensive private tutoring. These critics raise valid issues, but should direct their criticism towards the college admissions process in general rather than the SAT specifically. As a private SAT tutor who has helped many students perform better on the test, I have come to understand clearly what the SAT does and does not measure. Among other things, an SAT score accurately reflects students’ abilities to read quickly, to understand what they read, to think logi-
cally, to use a large vocabulary, and to recognize and correct common grammatical errors. All of these skills are critical for success in college and in many professions beyond. Thus, learning to score higher on the SAT is really about becoming a better reader, editor, and logical thinker. While tutoring does include some discussion of test-taking strategy, strategy alone will get SAT-takers nowhere; what matters is skill in the areas that the SAT measures. Tutoring can boost a student’s score, but it cannot overcome fundamental weaknesses in reading and math ability. For example, scores on the vocabulary section are best improved by reading widely over many years. Furthermore, tutoring accomplishes nothing that a motivated student cannot achieve on his or her own. Excellent materials to prepare for the SAT are already freely available online, and the College Board is partnering with Khan Academy to create even more. Tutoring simply enforces a regime of preparation if students are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Is it unfair that students with working parents who cannot afford a tutor must be more disciplined to achieve the same academic results? Of course. However, the same inequity affects every part of a student’s academic career from his or her earliest educational experiences. After all, children who have had a parent stay home to make sure that they do their homework enjoy an enormous and unfair advantage, and tutoring can extend far beyond the SAT to encompass academic subjects as well. This does not mean that the SAT should not inform admissions decisions. High schools vary greatly in academic rigor and level of competition, and SAT scores allow students to prove to colleges that they have the core reading and math skills needed to succeed – even if their grades are inferior to those of students at less demanding high schools. Conversely, a particularly low SAT score can serve as a legitimate red flag that, despite high grades, a student may not be sufficiently prepared. Instead of criticizing the SAT for being an imperfect measure of intelligence, which it never claimed to be in the first
place, champions of improving access to college should focus on encouraging a holistic approach to admissions that recognizes that students from more advantaged backgrounds have had greater support in their academics across the board, not just in learning the skills needed to succeed on the SAT. Inequalities in the admissions system are not the fault of the SAT, but rather of those who are unwilling to make considerations for disadvantaged students.
Nicolas Hinsch is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Anti-Intellectualism of the Wash U Bubble Ola Abiose
ollege admissions season is in full swing, and few things are more surreal than nearing the end of college life and looking upon those eagerly waiting to begin. So, in an overwhelming bout of nostalgia, I decided to sneakily join a campus tour on my way to class, just to take one last walk down memory lane. One set of parents turned out to be far more inquisitive than the prospective student who accompanied them, much to everyone’s delight. Among a barrage of questions, they asked: “We read on College Confidential that there’s a sort of ‘Wash U Bubble.’ How would one go about popping it, if you will? No pun intended.” Beyond a visceral recognition of the fact that puns are profoundly unfunny, I made another realization: I am sick of hearing about the “Wash U Bubble.” Maybe it’s due to the inevitable accompaniment of “unnecessary” quotes with the term or maybe it’s because the phrase lends itself to all sorts of cutesy bubble metaphors that make a mockery of the entire concept. But there’s something
to all of these. And while there’s much lamentation over the existence of a bubble, and a variety of suggestions as to how to “burst” it, there is an implicit understanding that it might be a necessary consequence of our collegiate experience. At the end of the day, we’re here first and foremost as students: we owe it to ourselves to get a good education. After all, during Convocation this year, freshmen were told, “The door has been opened for you to get an education.” And, as we attend one of the nation’s foremost academic institutions, there’s no doubting the truth of that statement. I only wish that the message had been accompanied with Mark Twain’s advice: never let your schooling interfere with your education. Because when outside world experiences are posited as distinct from mental development, when isolation and desensitization are condoned for the sake of academic success, when the Wash U Bubble becomes tolerated as an unavoidable feature of the college experience, then our schooling has become anti-intellectual.
When outside world experiences are posited as distinct from mental development, when isolation and desensitization are condoned for the sake of academic success, when the Wash U Bubble becomes tolerated as an unavoidable feature of the college experience, then our schooling has become anti-intellectual. about our offhand references to the phrase that has rendered it a platitude and has minimized the true perniciousness behind the concept of a college bubble. The Wash U Bubble is widely understood but not singularly defined: it can refer to the self-absorption we as students often fall into while trying to maintain hectic schedules, the social and political unawareness that results from being consumed with work, or the failure of a large portion of students to venture further than a mile or two outside of campus. Most times it’s a reference
I’ll give a personal example. Near the end of my sophomore year, I learned that Angela Davis was going to be speaking at the St. Louis Public Library for free. I was looking forward to it for weeks and could hardly contain my excitement at the thought of hearing from one of the country’s most famous political activists and one of my own personal heroes. But on the day of the event, I realized just how swamped I was for an upcoming test. And less than 45 minutes before Angela Davis was scheduled to speak, I cancelled my plans to attend the lecture. Even today, I
still can’t help but cringe at the absurdity of that situation: I can’t tell you what class I was studying for (I think it was maybe Introduction to Cognitive Science) nor can I tell you what grade I got on that test. But there’s no doubt in my mind that I would have remembered that lecture vividly for years to come. It’s in this way that the Wash U Bubble is antithetical to our educational development here. I’m not advocating altogether ditching one’s academic responsibilities, nor am I trying to minimize the immense opportunity we have at this school. I just don’t understand why we are complacent with a physical and mental isolation from the rest of the world, with a “Wash U Bubble.” There’s a contradiction between claiming to being committed to seeking knowledge and then falling into the trap of believing that the ivory tower holds the monopoly on such. And assuming that intellectual development can operate in a vacuum— when we’re completely desensitized to the greater inequalities and injustices of the outside world, especially in our own backyard—is shortsighted. We may always chuckle at the myriad of puns that can be constructed with the “Wash U Bubble,” but until we realize just how threatening it is to our learning and personal growth, we may never commit to “popping” it for good. Ola Abiose is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
wash u’s model minority Michele Hall | Illustration by Alex Chiu
f you scroll through the names of students involved in the Mosaic Project, there are not likely to be any surprises. The names listed are more than likely names of students who you know are active in administrative projects for diversity inclusion, and in fact have been involved in these projects from an early stage of their time at Washington University. You have seen them sitting on various boards, you have seen them in admissions propaganda, and now you are seeing them again on the Mosaic Project website. And that is the exact problem. The Mosaic Project has arrived as a retroactive (and in some senses political) response to incidents of bias and exclusion on our campus. And in an attempt to create actual inclusion the university includes…Wash U’s Model Minorities. The phrase “model minority” is typically used to discuss a minority population that has seemingly successfully assimilated to the standards of the dominant culture. For example, in America the model minority is seen
to be Eastern and South Eastern Asians, who have achieved success by American standards, yet are still marked as minorities due to their phenotypical markers of foreignness. In coining the phrase “Wash U Model Minority,” I am speaking of minority students or allies of minority students who have become the spokespeople for minorities, and therefore the only minority voices that are credible in discussions of improving diversity and inclusion. This is not to criticize these students; in fact, many of those who I would consider to be Wash U’s Model Minorities are my friends, or some of you reading this may even consider me to be a Wash U Model Minority. I believe that the role that these Wash U Model Minorities serve is important, because without them there would be no one to advocate for marginalized student interests at all. However, I am criticizing the university for establishing these students as the authorities on minorities and minority marginalization within this institution, because these students are palatable. These students are often palatable in their dress, in their speech, and in their approach towards the administration. In some ways, they have successfully assimilated to the standards of the dominant culture. On the outside are still the unassimilated voices, those tell the story of marginalization the way it is without any niceties, those that preach more radical approaches to change at this institution that are quite frankly not easy to listen to. These are the names that are mostly missing when we look at Wash U’s Model Minorities. One of my largest complaints in writing is when an author thoroughly diagnoses a problem, and then sends the reader on their way. It leaves the reader feeling helpless, and frustrated that there is seemingly no solution, or else the author would have laid that out as well. So now I will set out my own solution to Wash U’s model minority issue. It begins with less anonymous and culturally nice surveys that students quite frankly are tired of filling out with very little tangible change. Administrators should focus their time on conversations with minorities that are not immediately palatable to the hegemonic norm. Students who are typically left out of the conversation, either those that have become disenfranchised by the lack of change or those who are strategically ignored. Informal and formal focus groups should be put into place, so that there can be candid conversations about the areas in which our community fails to be inclusive, and the ways in which the university can explicitly aid and facilitate inclusivity. We should be sure to include not just student and faculty voices, but also the voices of the staff, without whom this university would not be able to function. By including voices that are not typically heard, we as a community can more swiftly move towards the inclusion that we tout as a fundamental principle of this university.
Michele Hall is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do We Really Have The Best Food? Jared Turkus | Illustration by Steph Waldo equals one Bear Buck. Stir fry no longer costs $9.08 once people run out of bronze meal points, it only costs $6.05. Bon Appetit soon realized that students were favoring the Bear Bucks system over the closed meal point system and barred freshmen from acquiring the bronze plan. The reason is obvious: Bon Appetit does not want to compete with restaurants on the Loop for business; it wants to use the school’s authority to coerce students into buying more expensive food from Bon Appetit. Bon Appetit is able to maintain such tight control over food because Wash U takes in more revenue by demanding a percentage of the caterer’s higher profits. Apart from Subway and Einstein’s Bagels, Bon Appetit is a monopoly on campus. Meal points are accepted at Subway simply because it was there before Bon Appetit became Wash U’s official caterer. Students cannot use meal points at Einstein’s. Nonetheless, both restaurants are wildly popular with students. They are both also more efficient than BD, DUC, the Village, or Holmes Lounge. Even during peak hours, the staff can generally process more food orders in a shorter amount of time. Lines move very quickly at Subway and Einstein’s because the management understands that it must be competitive to stay in business at Wash U.
ashington University’s food quality impacts all its students, regardless of their backgrounds, tastes, or majors. In the Daily Meal’s 2013 study, Wash U placed second in university food quality, outranked only by Bowdoin College. Bon Appetit, with exclusive catering rights, staffs all primary on-campus eating locations in the Bears Den, the DUC, Holmes Lounge and the Village. To achieve its stellar reputation, Bon Appetit has consistent kosher, halal, gluten-free and vegetarian offerings and diverse cuisine choices made from topquality ingredients. It makes an ongoing effort to promote sustainability and healthy eating. While these investments have given Wash U students access to a good selection of food, there are financial downsides to Bon Appetit’s presence at the university. The current meal point system enables Bon Appetit to hide the true cost of its meal plans. When students register for housing, they select their meal plan for the following year among three options: bronze, silver, and gold. All Bon Appetit food items are priced in meal points, which helps hide the actual cost of Bon Appetit’s monopoly. The cost of the bronze plan is $3802 for 2534 points, representing a 50 percent markup from meal points to dollars. Silver plan membership has a 38.7 percent surcharge, asking $4540 for 3274 points. Finally, the golden ripoff demands $5280 for 4014 points, a modest 31.5 percent premium. Village stir fry, a popular Bon Appetit option, costs 6.05 meal points. $6.05 is not the real price; depending on the plan, students are really paying $9.08, $8.39, or $7.96. The meal point system is Bon Appetit’s clever way to hide costs and collect more profit from gold and silver plan holders. While the markup on these plans is lower, students with the bronze plan will exhaust their higher markups sooner. The bronze plan is the best option for consumers, because once students use their smaller plans, they can start paying with Bear Bucks at any Bon Appetit location. Unlike with meal points, students also have the liberty of using Bear Bucks off-campus at select restaurants and stores. There is no cost shifting with Wash U’s Bear Bucks currency: one dollar
If Wash U wants to maximize its students’ dining opportunities, we should embrace competition, drive down prices and enjoy diverse specializations of great food. That same philosophy does not apply to Bon Appetit dining locations at the Village or BD, simply because they do not have to worry about going out of business. If Wash U truly wants the best experience for its students, it should not renew Bon Appetit’s contract to be the primary food vendor on campus. To lower food prices, the university should allow other caterers to compete on campus. In an effort to attract student business, each company would systematically lower its prices and specialize on a select set of dishes. To avoid a Fast Food Nation style takeover, Wash U could be selective over the brands it allows on campus. Chipotle, St. Louis Bread Co., and Pi Pizzeria are ideal candidates because they promise high quality ingredients and balanced diets. Wash U should endorse these businesses by allowing them to compete on campus. A competing marketplace financed in Bear Bucks empowers students to design their own meal plans by deciding exactly how much they spend on food each semester. While Bon Appetit does have tasty dishes and useful programs that incentivize healthy and sustainable eating, these commitments do not give the caterer a right to monopolize food control and use its exclusive agreement with Wash U to coerce students into buying more expensive plans. Further, it is unrealistic to expect one caterer to be “the best” for every food dish in every cuisine, as the most successful restaurants and chains focus on a specific food genre. If Wash U wants to maximize its students’ dining opportunities, the administration should embrace competition, drive down prices, and enjoy diverse specializations of great food. Jared Turkus is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Rethinking the Student Activity Fee and the Carry-Forward Account Scott Haber | Infographic by Daniel Raggs
In nearly every walk of life, running a surplus is commendable. Spending less than was budgeted demonstrates thrift, excellent planning, and strong leadership. And yet, many at Washington University are deeply frustrated with the more than $300,000 in surplus funds currently held in the carry-forward account of Student Union’s (SU) Treasury. This money, taken from the activity fee that every undergraduate student at the university pays, is currently collecting .15 percent interest and doing little else. These surplus funds actually represent a persistent failure of SU to uphold its own mission statement and a serious disservice to the undergraduate student body. One of SU’s purposes, as defined in its constitution, is “allocating the student activity fee to unique and engaging activities, programs, and initiatives.” By failing to allocate more than $300,000 in 2013, as well as roughly $100,000 each year since 2008, SU has failed to uphold its constitutional obligations. The explicit purpose of the student activity fee is to fund various student groups, events, and activities on campus. Any other use for this money represents a mishandling of student funds by SU. The money in the carry-forward account could be put to better use if it were placed into Treasury’s appeals account or into the General Budget for the following year. An amendment to SU’s constitution to this effect would ensure that any future carryforward funds would not be misused. According to a September 2013 Student Life article, half of the 2013 surplus will be spent on the salary for a business coordinator and other SU offices. This leaves 6 percent of SU’s total budget of roughly $2.5 million in the carry-forward account. These unallocated funds were paid to SU by students who expected to receive benefits in the form of funding to student groups and activities on campus. It seems reasonable that money students have given to SU on a yearly basis be spent on that yearly basis, or that these funds are quickly and fairly spent the following year
on student groups or events. This has not happened. While SU leaders and representatives have stated that much of the money in the carry-forward account is actually from groups that did not spend all of their allocated funds, this position is not a valid defense of the organization’s failure to provide funding to student groups. According to the aforementioned Student Life article, only 6 percent of groups on campus were significantly under-budget during the 2012-2013 school year. Thus, the carry-forward account does not demonstrate an over-budgeting, but a misallocation, of funds. Supporting the idea that SU is misallocating funds, not over-budgeting them, are two key facts: first, that SU has
accepted additional funds offered by SU (and that misallocation of funds is actually the primary contributor to the funds in the carry-forward account.) The history of the carry forward account therefore indicates a repeated and deliberate failure by SU to efficiently utilize student activity fee funds. This situation is also unfair to outgoing seniors. If money is carried forward every year, then outgoing seniors always lose out on some of their activity fund. While they may have benefited from this effect as freshman, because tuition has increased every year they will end up paying more into the system than they will be able to take out. The graduating class of 2010, for example, would have been unable to benefit from more than $300,000 worth of student activity fees that they had paid for and had a reasonable expectation of benefiting from. The actual budgeting and appeals process by SU clearly indicates that student groups would all like more funding than they are currently receiving. Effectively, each group submits a request for funding to SU and then all requests are then reduced by the same flat percentage. While there are a finite amount of funds and every group cannot get everything that it wants, the fact that every single group on campus receives fewer funds than they requested indicates that student groups would use more funds if they were available. Obviously this system skews the incentives for student groups to be honest about how much funding they need, but it still indicates that they want more funding. Even if student groups were intentionally padding their budgets, this indicates that they would otherwise be receiving less money than they felt was necessary to operate their groups. Student groups’ dishonesty about their needs does not excuse SU from failing to uphold its constitutional duty to allocate the student activities fee to student activities. The Treasury appeals process also presents further evidence that student
These surplus funds actually represent a persistent failure of SU to uphold its own mission statement, and a serious disservice to the undergraduate student body. consistently over-budgeted by roughly $100,000 over recent years; and second, that tuition, and the student activities fee, has increased dramatically. To this first point, according to a 2011 Student Life article, every year since 2008 has yielded a budget surplus. In fact, 2011 yielded another $300,000 surplus in the carryforward account, with half of those funds originating from surpluses over the three years prior. Yet, over this same time period tuition increased from $36,200 to $44,100, yielding an increase in the student activities fee from $362 to $441. This indicates that even as the activities fee increased, the budget surplus remained roughly the same each year. In other words, during the same time period that the student activities fee increased by 22 percent, the budget surpluses produced by student groups remained relatively flat. It logically follows that most student groups readily
groups could utilize additional funding if it were available. Treasury representatives reduce any amount a student group appeals for by some percentage or degree for the sake of fairness or cost-per-student, or even refuse to fund an appeal. Members of Treasury may even automatically reduce the amount of funds that many groups have appealed for, before they’ve even heard what the group has to say. These Treasury members argue that this creates a more equitable distribution of student funds in terms of cost-per-student in relation to the activity fund. In reality, reduced funding from Treasury often means that students are unable to host events or have a much more difficult time doing so. For example, when Treasury funded KWUR for $5,000 less than their requested appeal amount for KWUR Week last month, citing a high cost-per-student, KWUR had to take alumni donations they had saved for supporting radio broadcasts and use them to ensure that artists did not have to sleep on students’ couches. This places an undue burden on students and reflects poorly on Washington University. It is ridiculous that groups could have funding requests reduced by $1000 (or even greater amounts, as is often the case) when there is a combined $300,000$400,000 in unallocated appeals and carryforward account funds. While Treasury cannot, and ought not, grant every appeal, available funds should be spent on student groups. Students pay the activity fee with the expectation that they can use those funds for groups, clubs, intramural teams, and professional societies. SU has no grounds to hold a significant percentage of these funds and not spend them for that purpose. If SU wants to uphold its constitutional obligations to students, then they must reform how it handles the carry-forward account. To this end, there are two policy options available: reducing the student activities fee to reduce the budget surplus or reforming where money from the carryforward goes each year. The evidence suggests that student groups want more funds. Therefore, the second policy option seems like the more reasonable course of action. Two possible methods of reforming the carry-forward account would be to have funds from previous years immediately transferred into the next years appeals account, or to have these funds rolled over into the following year’s general budget allocation for student groups. In either
case, an amendment to the SU constitution could easily be enacted to implement the new policy. Placing surplus funds into next year’s appeals account would allow any group to appeal for additional funds for events. The additional funds from the carry-forward account would give Treasury more flexibility in allocating money to student appeals, and would create a better overall allocation of funds; underfunded groups could appeal and be funded at a higher level. However, appealing to Treasury is a rigorous process and there is no guarantee that a student group will receive any money at all. Moreover, Treasury tends to favor certain types of appeals over others (e.g. campus speakers over competition groups), which would mean that certain groups may receive a disproportionate amount of additional funding. Thus, these funds may not be reallocated fairly. A second solution would be to transfer any surplus funds back into the general budget allocation for the following year. This would allow SU to fund the general budgets of student groups at a higher proportion of these groups’ requested
amount than they would have otherwise. While certain groups may continue to be overfunded, it would mean that SU could take misallocated money from previous years and immediately put this money to better use by giving additional funding to student groups that would benefit from more funds. In either case, surplus student activity fees would go to student groups that could use the funds, instead of sitting in a useless carry-forward account and accruing interest. These two solutions present a better allocation of funds than the present one. In both cases, student activity fees are being returned to the students for their benefit in a timely manner. At the very least, these solutions would represent an attempt by SU to uphold its mission statement and more effectively serve the student body.
Scott Haber is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The raze of ruby Grace Portelance and Shivani Desai | Infographic by Daniel Raggs, Illustration by Kate Cohen
ubelmann Hall stands proud and tall, truly the gem of the South 40. Built in 1958, she is the oldest of her kind and has given a warm home and a comfortable bed to many generations of Wash U students. As residents of Ruby, we know her shine may be a little tarnished, her walls may be more run-down, and her amenities might be somewhat limited compared to those of her friends Umrath, Koenig, and Danforth, but her close community and cozy layout are still loved by many. However, as summer quickly approaches, so too does Ruby’s impending demolition. Soon, a sparkly new dorm will rise from the dust of our historic and well-worn building, and Ruby will become Wash U’s most recent fallen soldier in the quest to modernize the 40. Claiming that Ruby should not be torn down is difficult to argue on principle alone; while most people (ok, maybe just us) appreciate the humble charm of this old building, it is simply the prerogative of the school to tear down and rebuild whatever structure they see fit, especially one over fifty years old. However, knocking down and rebuilding a dorm that is still fully functional, capable, and loved has massive implications for the future of underclassman housing at Wash U and speaks to a larger pattern. It is one thing to renovate a dorm in desperate need of repair in order to cater to the same set of students it did previously: those who would rather live in traditional housing for financial or community-building reasons. But it is a completely different story to reconstruct the building in accordance with the new choice look of campus: sleek, modern, and most of all, expensive. When it comes to the price tag on new Wash U residential buildings, one could argue that it is natural for a university to want to continuously improve its housing and amenities. After all, Wash U is well known and well regarded for having some of the nicest housing and food options. The school has repeatedly defended its actions by arguing that it is simply accommodating the requests of its students. Yes, the surveys prove that the dominant voice of the student body is
asking for more modern dorms, individual bathrooms, and palace-sized common rooms, but in doing so, they are drowning out the fainter voices of those who cannot afford to pay for such lavish living. The university is catering to the student body it has now, not the one it professes to be trying to attract. And the options for affordable housing are getting slimmer and slimmer, a fact that marginalizes the small minority of students who fall into lower income brackets and thrusts the absolute lack of socioeconomic diversity present on campus into the spotlight once more. It seems contradictory that the school claims an inviting environment for low-income students, yet only responds to the needs of
housing is not just an option on campus, it is a necessity: it conveys a crucial message of inclusion and adaptation to the needs of a population of varying wealth and class. This problem isn’t just one facing incoming freshman; it affects the entire 40. As incoming sophomores, we are seeing firsthand the struggle of choosing housing set-ups when they are so dramatically allocated by price. For the 2014-2015 school year, the cheapest housing available to second year students is a traditional double, at $9,222 a year. A modern single, a common option for sophomores, is $11,554 annually. This $2,332 difference is considerable and can make a crucial difference. But it is not just a matter of numbers: personal feelings, relationships, and more broadly, a large component of the sophomore experience, can rely on upcoming housing plans and all of the complicated arrangements surrounding them. Consider a scenario of a group of friends deciding where to live for their sophomore year. If one friend cannot afford to live in a modern dorm, she is forced to face the awkward situation of either explaining her financial constraints to the potential roommates, or having to split off and room with others in a similar financial situation: a sort of segregation of the student body based on willingness and ability to pay. And the ramifications stretch further than that: as some traditional residencies such as Myers are being offered only to freshmen next year, traditional options are being taken away from sophomores. With the precarious housing lottery system, a student who genuinely needs traditional housing could end up relying purely on the luck of the draw. As junior and senior years approach, low-cost housing options decrease further as the Village and offcampus apartments become nearly the only choices. In our opinion, it is evident that something needs to be done in order to make affordable housing accessible and common at Wash U. One potential solution is to adopt the system that many schools that support need-blind admission policies use: flat rate
It seems that Wash U has inadvertently created a selfperpetuating pattern, begging us to ask if low income students—with their limited options and need for affordability over style— are actually the ones Wash U blames?
the higher income population. The gradual “modernization” of residential housing also removes the dormlife option that most of our parents fondly associate with their college experience: shared bathrooms, small rooms, thirdfloor walk-ups, and true communal living. It seems that our school is putting a great deal of money towards making such an experience an obsolete remnant of the past. In essence, the message Wash U is sending reflects not only a rejection of the traditional, outdated dorms, but a rejection of the type of students who prefer them. Modernization changes not just the prices of housing, but also the culture of campus and the variety of experiences available to students. Personally, we both felt at home with Ruby’s simplicity. It was comforting to know that attending a school with incredibly high tuition and low socioeconomic diversity didn’t mean there weren’t places to live cheaply and traditionally. Less expensive, traditional
rooming prices. At Pomona College, an academic peer of Wash U, current rooming rates are a flat $8,200 per year. This is similar to the annual rate of a modern triple at Wash U, but housing quality is decided solely by lottery, with no respect to price. Vanderbilt University utilizes a similar flat rate policy to Pomona, and on their Housing and Residential Education website they give the following rationale for charging one fee for all students and all types of housing: •“Ease of budgeting for college expenses” or the notion that housing prices should be predictable for all students. •“Equal opportunity to experience any of our residential communities” which allows students to choose their community in a fair selection process irrespective of wealth. •“Peace of mind and focus on academics,” or the idea that housing prices shouldn’t be a source of anxiety or a distraction from college life. Are these not principles Wash U holds? It seems that our school views embracing and enhancing socioeconomic diversity as a very one-dimensional process; by simply admitting more Pell Grant recipients, the school hopes the percentages on the pie chart will shift and Wash U will suddenly, magically, transform into a place that welcomes those of all backgrounds. By assuming this, our school is ignoring the factors that make attending Wash U not only economically difficult but also culturally misaligned for low-income students. High costs of living and a wealthy student body are fixable problems (if the school would someday, maybe, make a strong effort to fix them), but also of great concern is the culture we are creating. The real question becomes: is the demolition of Ruby perpetuating a destructive pattern, or helping us progress in the direction we hope to move? We will miss Ruby for many reasons, some of which are personal. Our best memories from freshman year took place in those crooked, winding hallways and communal bathrooms.. However, regardless of whether one lived there or not, we should all mourn the impending loss of Ruby as the big, concrete box in the middle of the South 40 that committed the sole crime of not being “trendy” enough for the new, sleek image of the school. I suppose the next question is, are we, the students who
want to maintain an inclusive, welcoming culture, guilty of the same offense? Are we simply behind the times, too naive to understand that “new is always better?” It seems that Wash U has inadvertently created a self-sustaining pattern, begging us to ask if low income students—with their limited options and need for affordability over style—are actually the ones Wash U blames? It may seem like we are making a fuss over a dark, crumbling, and run-down building, but the raze of Ruby is indicative of a much larger battle currently raging on our campus: Wash U’s socioeconomic crisis. In terms of housing, campus polls cited by the administration are being filled out largely by high-income students, who will usually request a certain level of luxury. However, by only listening to those
requests, Wash U is not only drowning out the voices of its minority low-income students, it is also ensuring the fact that future low-income students may feel marginalized as well. When lowerincome prospective students visit Wash U, they may visually sense the culture of “modernization” and luxury present on campus and feel alienated, thereby eliminating Wash U from their future and eliminating a chance for greater diversity on our campus. This cycle will continue until someone or something breaks it. We call upon Wash U to rise to the challenge.
Grace Portelance and Shivani Desai are both freshmen in the College of Arts & Sciences. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wash U Isn’t Really In St. Louis Candice Love
nlike most students at Wash U, I grew up about ten miles away from campus. I spent a lot of time next door in Forest Park, admiring the zoo, art, and architecture. St. Louis has always been my home, and when I would think of the things I was most proud of in my community, I’d think of the Cardinals, the Gateway Arch, and the symphony orchestra. But up until I decided to apply, I was completely unaware of the fact that the students at Wash U were some of the smartest in the nation. I did not realize that Wash U had top-tier programs and faculty, or that it was even prestigious at all. I am not concerned with Wash U having a bad reputation in the St. Louis community; I am concerned that we do not have enough of a good reputation. Sure, as a private school, the university’s network needs to be primarily outside of Missouri, but in reality, a lot of St. Louis area residents view the university as a guarded tower on top of a steep mountain that only the most elite can
“Never go north of Delmar,” is the first terrible piece of advice that I was given as a Wash U student. climb. Which is why telling local friends and family that I attend Washington University doesn’t usually spark an inspiring response. At most I’ll hear, “That’s a good school.” This modest reputation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can you imagine growing up in Cambridge and not knowing much about Harvard, or growing up in South Bend and never hearing about Notre Dame? Sure, Wash U doesn’t have the historical legacy of Harvard or the athletic prowess of Notre Dame, but is the university really doing the best it can to build a connection with local residents? All of the freshmen come together in August to paint the walls of St. Louis elementary schools, but since then, I wonder how many of us have actually ventured off campus, past the Delmar Loop and Central West End, to be more engaged with what is for most of us a new home. I wonder if local residents will ever see the university and its people as a part of their community. This could easily start if students expanded their experience past the Wash U bubble. “Never go north of Delmar,” is the first terrible piece of advice that I was given as a Wash U student. I recognize that the people who told me this were just trying to protect me, and I do acknowledge the potential dangers in this area. But this advice was given at the price of alienating arguably the most important people in the St. Louis community: the suffering, the starving, and the hopeless. The ones who live in areas that the police have stopped caring about. The ones that need the help of people like us who will have the power and resources in the future to do something about the situation north of Delmar. But instead, most students take the misguided advice and avoid most of the city, believing through word of mouth that the circumstances there are bad, but never seeing for themselves just how bad they are. Everyone should certainly be smart and cautious if they decide to go to North St. Louis, but
everyone needs to go. Not all of the residents there are criminals waiting to mug or murder us. Most people are just trying to survive, and trying to look out for everyone else in their neighborhoods who is just barely surviving. We shouldn’t look at the city as trouble, but as potential. We need more Wash U students to help in ending the distance between the university and our surrounding community, because we have the power to ensure improvement in the areas hit hard by crime, failing schools, and suburban flight. It should no longer be an option for us to play it safe in our sheltered piece of the city for four years before moving on to another place, no more aware of this situation than when we first arrived. We should all try to get to know someone who lives in St. Louis with no affiliation to Wash U, to let residents know that we are very much a part of this community. Maybe then will we be connected with this beautiful city more than ever, and we can truly call ourselves a part of St. Louis.
Candice Love is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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Talking Points “I’m actually in support of what Arizona is doing... If the national government doesn’t fix your problem, you’ve got a problem. You’ve got to fix it yourself. That’s just part of the American way.” –2014 Washington University commencement speaker and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on the controversial Arizona immigration law passed in 2010, according to an ESPN.com article.
Total amount of financial aid granted to students by the university in 2013.
Wash U’s total operating budget for fiscal year 2013 that supports teaching, scholarship, and research.
Increase in Wash U tuition for the 2014-2015 academic year.
of Wash U students in 2010-2011 received a Pell Grant, a federal need-based grant usually awarded to students from famliies with incomes of less than $30,000 per year.
Total number of Wash U instructional faculty who are men, according to the 2012-2013 Common Data Set.
Total number of Wash U instructional faculty who are women.
Published on Apr 16, 2014