political review 20.4 | May 2014 | wupr.org
Finding your place: the jobs issue C
in Religion and Politics
What are some featur es of a minor in Religion and Politics? o Rigorously inter disciplinary—courses you take for the minor will reflect and refine the methodologies you learn in other humanities disciplines. They complement many majors in Arts & Sciences as well as pre-professional programs o Inter nship or independent st udy—dive deeper into original research under the guidance of Center faculty or experience intersections of religion and politics in contemporary issues by interning with local, regional, or national organizations o Semester in D.C.—Earn up to 6 units towards your minor and 15 units toward graduation by enrolling in Wash U’s Semester in D.C. program o Engaged inst ruction—Every course in Religion and Politics is taught by experienced researchers who are passionate about instruction and committed to classroom dialogue
Quest ions? Come by Umrath 118 and talk with Professor Rachel Lindsey, Associate Director of the Center on Religion and Politics or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the requirements? o
15 units of coursework, including: ⇒ RELPOL 225: Religion and Politics in American History (3 units) ⇒
12 additional units, 9 of which must be taught by Center faculty
Attendance at five events sponsored by the Center on Religion and Politics
FALL 2014 COURSES: o
Religion and Politics in American History
Faith and Politics in America’s Cold War
The Devil in the Details: Religion and the Constitution in the U.S.
Religion and the State: Global Mission, Global Empire
Religion and the Modern Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968
City on a Hill: The Concept and Culture of American Exceptionalism
Editors’ Note Dear Reader, Editors-in-Chief: Moira Moynihan William Dobbs-Allsopp Executive Director: Nicolas Hinsch Staff Editors: Nahuel Fefer Aryeh Mellman Ben Lash Tori 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 Programming Director: Hannah Waldman Finance Director: Alex Bluestone
Just like that, another year has come to a close. It is always an abrupt affair; suddenly after a flurry of exams, papers, and study sessions you’re sitting in the Southwest terminal at Lambert, a few short hours from the familiarity of your parents’ house. For the two us, this year is especially strange. We will (hopefully) be graduating in May, which means that our time at Wash U is just about done. Our peers in the Class of 2014 will be starting new jobs or more school in cities across the country and around the world. While there is a broad spectrum of how well put-together our lives are post-graduation (for example, Moira: very much so; Will: hardly at all), one thing seems to be true for most of our classmates: it’s time to begin figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives. All this is to say that our decision to do a Jobs Issue was a very self-interested one. As usual, our writers approached our theme from a variety of angles, most of which surprised us. But we’re especially excited by some of our non-article content this issue. Keep an eye out for two fascinating interviews: one with Provost Holden Thorp on Wash U’s socioeconomic diversity and the other with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, an alumnus who has been intimately involved with U.S. efforts to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Plus, be sure to check out senior Zach Thomas’s contribution, an excerpt from his communication design thesis on gerrymandering; it is a handsome piece of work. This marks our last issue as WUPR’s editors in chief. It has been an enormous privilege to spend the past few years in the company of such intelligent and good people. Truly, WUPR has been at the core of our Wash U experiences and it will be difficult to leave it behind. Thankfully, our departure is made easier by the fact that we are leaving the organization in such capable hands. We are tremendously excited for incoming editors Sonya Schoenberger and Gabe Rubin, along with Executive Director Nahuel Fefer, to take our place. Though it goes without saying, you three have our best wishes and fullest support—we can’t wait to see what you do! Enjoy the magazine, and to the Class of 2014, congratulations and good luck! Thanks for your support, Moira and Will
Front Cover: Michelle Nahmad Theme Page: Audrey Westcott We accept submissions from any undergraduate: email@example.com
Table of Contents National 4
The Local Beat
interNational 18 Interview: Asst. Secretary
A Sputnik for the 21st Century Nelson Gomes
Rights: Israel’s Dynamic Role in Tumultuous Times
Interview: Provost Holden Thorp
The Refugee Crisis We Prefer to Ignore
22 Sporting Sweatshops: The Wins
and Losses of Being a “StudentAthlete” Henry Kopesky
15 State-Sanctioned 25 Paging Dr. Barbie
Unless otherwise noted all images are from MCT Campus
29 Does The Market Reward
Musical Talent?: Vulfpeck, Spotify, and the Changing Face Of The Music Industry Jared Skoff
or Sullied? Joe Lenoff
The New American Dream Grace Portelance
20 Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Savvy,
Sophie Tarazi 9
19 Borders, Danger, and Human
Nahuel Fefer 8
26 Blood on Their Doorposts
of State Thomas Countryman
Will Dobbs-Allsopp 5
The jobs issue
Cortex Aims High Nick Hinsch
33 Talking Points
Countries with highest life expectancy (2010)
Countries with lowest life expectancy (2010)
Life Expectancy in 2000
Life Expectancy in 2010
Highest and Lowest Average Life Expectancy by Country (2000-2010)
= 10 years
The Local beat Will Dobbs-Allsopp
raditional print journalism may be on the decline, but celebrity journalism is in vogue. In the last few months, electoral augur Nate Silver and Wonkblog guru Ezra Klein have each launched highly anticipated sites. This summer, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist David Leonhardt are rolling out two more non-traditional news operations. Yet the most important media experiment of the year may well be the recent merger between online news site The Beacon and St. Louis NPR affiliate STLPR, two St. Louis news organizations lacking any semblance of a national brand. The Beacon was the progeny of print media’s decline. A group of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters and editors – either laid-off or bought-out as the paper cut costs amid falling circulation numbers and advertising sales – launched the online publication in 2008. All too familiar with the challenges of sustaining traditional revenue streams, The Beacon’s founders decided to operate as a non-profit organization by soliciting contributions from philanthropists in the greater St. Louis area. Throughout its nearly six-year existence the site provided its reporters with a platform to continue their coverage of local stories, even as the city’s storied daily shrank its reporting efforts. In late 2012, however, the site’s leadership began thinking about making a change. The Beacon had recently cooperated on a few projects with St. Louis Public Radio (STLPR), owned by the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Beacon editor Margaret Freivogel and STLPR General Manager Tim Eby quickly realized that their organizations were far more effective as partners than as competitors, largely because The Beacon
and STLPR shared both a business model and a vision: they were non-profit ventures that saw local reporting as a vital public service. Drawing inspiration from a proposed partnership between the University of New Orleans and NPR that never came to pass, Freivogel and Eby started talking about a merger. A short year later on December 10, 2013, having received a favorable report from a media consultant and approval from
Local news relies on a persistent focus on the community, and that is exactly what the revamped STLPR offers. the UM Board of Curators, the two organizations officially became one. The merged organization, operating under the St. Louis Public Radio name, now has a fully integrated newsroom and employs around 60 staffers. Freivogel leads the news section while Eby remains in charge of the overall operation. Naturally, there have been growing pains. Print journalists and editors have had to adapt their craft to a broadcasting format and vice-versa. And everyone is still adjusting to a world where as many articles are read on smart phones as on computers. But it is clear that with the addition of The Beacon’s experienced reporting corps, STLPR will bring a muchneeded boost to the city’s diminished media presence. STLPR’s online presence, however, leaves much to be desired. As was true of The Beacon, the need to avoid the enormous
costs of print, as opposed to any innovative vision for how the Internet can augment news consumption, dictates STLPR’s decision to publish online. As a result, the site offers little more than conventional articles supplemented with the occasional radio clip. One would hope that an exclusively digital publication would make the most of the chance to pioneer creative storytelling platforms but, alas, such is not the case. This is a forgivable banality, however, because STLPR’s true potential lies in the creation of a sustainable business model for local journalism. One of the underappreciated tragedies of print media’s decline is the damage that it has wrought on local newsgathering efforts. Journalism’s migration to the web has promulgated the illusion that geography is now irrelevant, that worldwide accessibility to nytimes.com can compensate for the loss of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. It can’t. Local news relies on a persistent focus on the community, and that is exactly what the revamped STLPR offers. Its non-profit model appears to provide a feasible alternative to the ailing print-advertising scheme. Though both STLPR and The Beacon relied on philanthropic contributions, they drew from largely distinct donor bases: STLPR had a large network of small donors, while The Beacon relied on a tight group of affluent philanthropists. As a result, the merger hasn’t resulted in a significant donor overlap. Indeed, STLPR has already raised $3 million of its target $5 million to cover the cost of integration. If successful, St. Louis’s merger could provide a feasible model that can be applied to other cities with struggling print media. Local NPR affiliates could partner with experienced journalists and begin to rebuild local new networks in cities across the country. More than Vox.com or FiveThirtyEight, the STLPR-Beacon merger has the potential to radically alter the domestic news landscape. Watch closely.
Will Dobbs-Allsopp is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Sputnik for the 21st Century Nelson Gomes
A U.S. government photograph of Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant that experienced a partial nuclear meltdown as a result of weak regulation.
n March 18th, the Chinese government announced its intentions to accelerate production of the world’s first commercially viable liquid fluoride reactor. The project, spearheaded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was originally allocated a budget of $350 million and scheduled for completion by 2039, but it has since seen its funding grow and its deadline shortened to 2024. With 140 full-time Ph.D. students and a staff of roughly 750 people devoted to the project, let’s hope they’re successful. But more importantly, let’s hope we’ll follow their lead. It’s not surprising that China has decided to follow a path towards energy independence with nuclear power. Its current base sources of energy, coal and oil, places it in a precarious position in terms of both national security and public health. Russia, from which China buys most of its oil, has become increasingly antagonistic towards the international community, putting China in an uncomfortable position as it tries to develop stronger economic and intellectual ties to Western nations. In addition, coal, despite being one of the most abundant resources on the Chinese mainland, produces dastardly amounts of CO2 , contributing to climate change and resulting in dangerous levels of smog in major cities. “In the past the government was interested in nuclear power because of the energy shortage. Now they are more interested because of smog,” said Professor Li Zhong, who works with the project. Moreover, with twenty eight “regular” nucle-
ar plants in production, China is boldly letting go of the stigma that has plagued nuclear power for decades and is on pace to challenge the United States for the title of largest producer of nuclear energy. China is not alone in the problems it faces. As the top consumer of energy in the world, the United States’ economic, political, and military hegemony is intrinsically linked to its energy production. While oil will still be a significant geopolitical concern for us in the
As the top consumers of energy in the world, the United States’ economic, political, and military hegemony is intrinsically linked to is energy production. foreseeable future, we are well within our capacity to dictate our domestic electrical production. According to the Electricity Information Agency (EIA), approxi-mately 67 percent of our electricity comes from coal or natural gas, 20 percent from nuclear reactors, and only 11 percent from all renewable sources combined, of which
hydropower alone makes up half. Since the United States has the largest coal reserves in the world and a significant amount of accessible gas reserves, it is tempting to shelf our energy concerns and to continue to rely on our fossil fuels. However, as the Chinese example shows, increasing demand for energy will continue to blow millions of tons of CO2 into our atmosphere, creating debilitating, not to mention expensive, health and climate problems. Moreover, renewable energy sources are incapable of supplying the base power levels demanded from residential and industrial sectors. Often these renewables cost more per kilowatt-hour (kWh) than their fossil fuel and nuclear counterparts do. According to the DOE’s Annual Energy Outlook 2013, wind and solar sources, subject to changing seasons and hours, only deliver power intermittently and can cost anywhere from $.09 to $.22/kWh for wind and $.14/kWh for solar; nuclear costs a consistent $.11/kWh, which is potentially cheaper than coal ($.10-.14/ kWh) and natural gas ($.07-.13/kWh). The United States certainly stands to gain from nuclear energy. While the intellectual property for the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR or “lifter”) will be available to the international community, the United States could and should do more to expand its nuclear output and develop new reactor models and technologies. Today, there are just over 100 nuclear reactors licensed and operating in the United States: roughly 70 percent are Pressure-Water Reactors (PWRs) and 30 percent are Boiling-Water Reactors (BWRs). Both models belong to a general class of reactor called the Light-Water Reactor (LWR), which has been the industry norm both here and abroad since its inception. Many of the drawbacks of nuclear power that environmentalists and pragmatists cite are mostly limitations of only the LWR design. The risk of meltdowns, Fukushima-type explosions, unmanageable waste, and increased nuclear proliferation, are all products of a design standard chosen because of its practicality for military use and bomb creation. However, unlike LWRs, Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs), such as the proposed LFTR reactor, do away with the necessity for water coolants, pressurized operation, long-lived waste, and plutonium byproducts useful for atomic bombs. Safety precautions, such as passively cooled drainage tanks, are inherent in their design, making meltdowns nearly impossible. Additionally, the waste produced from the thorium-uranium cycle would only need to be in storage for about 300 years
rather than the often-touted 26,000 years and only a fraction of the LWR waste would, in absolute terms, be produced. Moreover, MSRs use salt solution coolants with high boiling points meaning that they need not operate at high pressure like Fukushima-type reactors, taking away their explosive potential. Lastly, they produce far less byproducts suitable for bomb production. LFTRs also have the added value of their main fuel, thorium, being four times more abundant than uranium and even more energy dense. Therefore, in almost all respects, these reactors are safer and vastly more efficient than their LWR counterparts. Despite all the advantages and promises that LFTR and other MSR reactors hold, there are other problems intrinsic to the energy industry that can result in devastating consequences due to the nature of radioactivity. France is often touted as being the world leader in nuclear energy. Although they do not produce quite as much electricity, in absolute terms, as the U.S., nearly 80 percent of their electricity comes from nuclear power, and they suffer few if any seri-
of how weak regulations can lead to potentially devastating leaks or accidents. Despite the fact that proper commitment to regulations ensures radioactivity containment and that the unavoidable exposure is well below any harmful levels (sometimes at orders of magnitude less than what is absorbed by natural background radiation), accidents create stigmas and fears of the development and expansion of the industry due to the uncomfortable sense of imminent exposure. Thus, the U.S. still has a long way to go in fostering the culture of responsibility and obligation that can overcome the pull of compromising profits. Of course, a tougher and better funded Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a welcome prospect, as well. The 21st century has proven itself to be an extraordinarily expansive and ever-more demanding era for the human race. Computational capacities grow exponentially, population growth rates are still unsustainably high, and our demand for energy is higher than it’s ever been before and is expected to continue rising indefinitely. If we are to keep up with the demands of a globalized soci-
Despite the fact that proper commitment to regulations ensures radioactivity containment and that the unavoidable exposure is well below any harmful levels, accidents create stigmas and fears of the development and expansion of the industry due to the un-comfortable sense of immanent exposure. ous incidents or leaks. Because they have a nationalized nuclear industry, controls and standards are tightly uniform and regulated. The U.S., by contrast, allows the private sector to construct and manage nuclear plants with limited governmental oversight. Hence the main and most pressing issue for the U.S. with re-gards to nuclear energy: the intersection of money and politics. Nuclear plants can cost upwards of $1 billion dollars to construct, and as such, are massive enterprises, requiring large federal subsidies to supplement private funding. Even so, profits can take years, sometimes decades to pay back the initial investment. As a result, many of the regulation-skipping, moneysaving tactics that are commonplace in natural gas fracking and oil drilling occur at nuclear power plants as well. Three Mile Island and Indian Point are poignant examples
ety we must find a way to power all of our electronic necessities. Nuclear is the clear answer, but we can only develop and refine it when we remove the stigma and have an honest discussion on how, not whether, we exploit the atom.
Nelson Gomes is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at n.gomes@wustl. edu.
interview: Provost holden thorp Staff Editor Nahuel Fefer recently had the chance to sit down with Provost Holden Thorp to talk about Wash U’s efforts to increase its socioeconomic diversity. An excerpt of their conversation is below. Nahuel Fefer: Thanks for talking with me. First, can you talk us through your day to day? What are your responsibilities, briefly? Provost Thorp: Well, I’m in charge of the schools and the administrative areas that are related to academics: the research centers, and admissions, and financial aid, and international, and IT, and student affairs. Fefer: Compared to its peer institutions, of course, Washington University is pretty socio-economically homogeneous. Does the administration consider this a big problem, and if so, what are they doing to tackle it? Thorp: Yes. Well, I am very proud of how far we have been able to move our stance on this since I got here. I came just as the New York Times story that got a lot of attention about our low number of Pell grants came out. Fefer: What do our Pell grant numbers look like compared to those of peer institutions? Thorp: Well I think we are…at the bottom out of 50 of our peer schools that report in the same way. I think we tend to be at the 7 or 8 percent of our students being Pell eligible. To get to the median of our peers, we need that number up to 12 or 13 percent. That is going to take us several years to do. But we have begun increasing that. We are allocating more money to financial aid this year than we did last year. We are going to have more Pell eligible students here in the fall than we had last fall. Nahuel: What are your personal benchmarks for success, one year, five years, ten years, down the line? Provost: I think what’s important is, and I feel like we are already at that point, is for us to be at a stance that says “this isn’t OK, we gotta fix it. It’s a challenging problem. We’re gonna keep doing it.” And to be able to show each and every year that we are moving towards that. Fefer: Hypothetically speaking, if we were to go away from a needaware admissions practice to a need-blind admissions practice, what would happen? Thorp: We would have to make some significant changes in the course offerings and the services that we are providing…It would be a pretty drastic change that you would have to make, and I don’t think it’s feasible to do that overnight. Fefer: I guess the two sides of it are, on the one hand, how would the demographics change, and on the other, what would be the academic tradeoffs? Thorp: Right. Well the demographic part of it, as far as the socioeconomic status is concerned, would be something like 70 to 100 percent more students from the Pell eligible category than we do right now.
Thorp: Yeah. The way we do it is we have a certain amount of money that we can spend on financial aid. This is how every one of our peers does it. Then we admit a class that is academically well-qualified and then we admit as many of the ones that need large amounts of financial aid as we can, based on the budget that we have allocated to that. Fefer: When you say all of our peer institutions do it like this, does this include need-blind institutions? Thorp: Well, it is hard to know for sure, but I think there are a few schools where there is enough financial aid around that they can be truly need-blind in the way that they do their admissions and give full packages that are needed to the students who enroll. That’s a very small number of institutions that are able to do that. And I think the rest, that have limited financial aid resources, make choices between admitting somebody who has need and then not giving them as much aid as they require, or not admitting that person. Fefer: How large is Wash U’s, or I guess the College of Arts & Sciences’ budget, compared to the budget that would be needed to support 14 percent Pell grants or something like that? Thorp: We’re looking at needing $25 million every year, or $20 or $25 million every year in additional financial aid compared to what we have. So that’s a significant amount of money…The Sam Fox school’s budget is under $100 million, and Arts & Sciences is a few hundred million, so, you know, the entire Danforth campus is $600 million. Fefer: What efforts is Wash U making to recruit low-income students in St. Louis? Thorp: Well, we’ve got a lot of different things going. We have a college prep program that we’re launching that Leah Merryfield is running that’ll be a way to bring young kids from St. Louis to Wash U during the summer, to start getting them ready to enroll. We have a great partnership with a group called College Bound…And then we’ve announced that we’re joining the National College Advising Corps, which is a way for recent college graduates to get involved in high need schools as guidance counselors, so starting next school year, we’ll be recruiting a few Wash U recent graduates to spend a couple years in St. Louis after they graduate helping us get kids ready for college.
Fefer: So does that mean that these students are currently academically qualified to attend Wash U, but can’t attend because of their low income? A video and transcript of the full interview can be found at www.wupr.org.
The Refugee Crisis We Prefer to Ignore Sophie Tarazi
hen I first announced that I would be studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, the two questions I was most frequently asked were whether Jordan was safe for Americans and if all the women wore hijabs. Though I wish people wanted to know more about the Bedouin and baklava, I understand why these were the first questions to come to mind; in the U.S., stories about the Middle East are blemished by terrorists, dictators, and political Islam. Americans are aware of the Syrian Civil War, the Egyptian uprisings, and the perennial Palestinian-Israeli struggle, but few have heard of Jordan’s domestic problems, let alone can even place Jordan on the map. That’s because Jordan is a tiny country, and its key crisis doesn’t involve explosives. Among Jordan’s troublesome neighbors are Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. Each of these states was artificially created by Western powers within the last century and has experienced a myriad of problems as a result of both intra- and inter-state conflicts. Jordan has its fair share of domestic issues, but what it suffers from the most is the mass influx of refugees from its neighboring states. Because of the atrocities committed against them by the ever-expanding state of Israel, millions of Palestinians have fled to Jordan. The first big flight of Palestinians was a result of the ethnic cleansing program undertaken to initially create Israel in 1948, but hundreds of thousands more have crossed into Jordan in the proceeding sixtysix years in response to recurring acts of violence against them by the same nationstate. In addition to the massive influx of Palestinians, many Iraqis have fled to Jordan because of the Iraq War, and thousands of Syrians have crossed the Syrian-Jordanian border in the past few years to escape the Syrian Civil War. The result of these mass migrations has been a dramatic change in Jordan’s demographics and a difficult economic situation as it faces the demands of a rapidly increasing population. Over the past seventy years, Jordanians have gotten used to welcoming refugees. Their country serves as a bandage, always stretching its resources to cover the consequences of foreign wars. What we can’t pre-
dict is when this bandage will break. Jordan has remained politically and economically stable compared to other Arab countries, despite being surrounded by crises. However, because nothing is predictable in this part of the world, it is possible that the next major crisis could bring about the end of Jordan’s relative stability.
Syrian refugee children stand in front of their tents at a refugee camp in Arsal, in eastern Lebanon.
Jordan’s refugee crisis is ignored largely because it is an unpleasant reminder of a number of controversial U.S. interventions in the Middle East. As Americans, we tend to dissociate ourselves from Arabs and their problems, perhaps because they aren’t happening in our own backyards. On top of that, American stereotypes of the Arab World are carefully molded by the media, and the press does not always address the long-term problems that the Arab World faces in favor of presenting “breaking news” about the latest suicide bomber. Because of the lack of attention in the media and general apathy regarding the issue, many Americans know very little to nothing about the millions of refugees flooding into Jordan despite the fact
that it is perpetuated by Western intervention (and lack of intervention) in the region. Americans are implicated in Jordan’s refugee crisis in a variety of ways. The U.S.Israel relationship is one of the greatest detriments the Palestinians face and makes a diplomatic and just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis exceedingly difficult. Additionally, the U.S. war in Iraq was the primary force behind the flight of thousands of Iraqis from their homeland, and it can be argued that the lack of U.S. intervention in Syria has perpetuated its civil war. Further aggravating the matter, the change in U.S. foreign policy and rhetoric regarding the Middle East after September 11th caused many Americans to fear Arabs and the Arab World. This has had its most obvious effect in the way of tourism, which has drastically diminished in most—if not all—Arab countries and has deprived them of an important source of income. Jordan’s refugee crisis is ignored largely because it is an unpleasant reminder of a number of controversial U.S. interventions in the Middle East. Unfortunately, many Americans characterize the Middle East as a region plagued by terrorism and poverty, even though more times than not these are the effects of interminable regional conflicts. When we call for peace in the Middle East, we can’t just take away the weapons and expect everything to return to normal. Instead, we need to look for solutions that resolve long-standing economic instability as well, and this means we must address the issue of the people who have been living in “temporary shelters” for decades. The thousands of refugees residing in Jordan may not be our problem right now, but securing their safety and access to basic amenities is the key to maintaining stability in the Middle East in the future.
Sophie Tarazi is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Redistricting Matters. by Zach Thomas
The way the lines are drawn can change who wins an election.
Redistricting is the way in which we adjust the districts in order to determine who represents us. Everyone in the United States lives in different districts. Members of Congress and state legislators are elected from these districts, and at least once per decade, the district lines are redrawn, block by block. In most states, the legislators themselves draw these legislative district lines. The way the lines are drawn can keep a community together or split it apart, leaving it without a representative who feels responsible for its concerns. The way the lines are drawn can ultimately change who wins an election. In the end, the way the lines are drawn can change who controls the legislature, affecting which laws get passed, and shaping the future of the state and country.
“Gerrymandering has made most Congressional districts so secure that only 35 true swing districts remain.”
Imbalance of Power One common complaint about gerrymandering is that prospecting for voters by party tends to interfere with other objectives of redistricting. For example, depending on where a party’s supporters live, drawing lines that follow party preference may lead to districts that are not compact, that cross political lines, or that carve out chunks of social or economic communities of interest. Another complaint about gerrymanders is that they distort representation in the state overall. In a state with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, it is possible for either party to win a disproportionate majority of seats in the legislature depending on where the lines are drawn. Some of this disproportion is the by-product of virtually any district lines, if a single seat is up for grabs by the candidate who wins the most votes. In this kind of “winner take all” system, the preferences of voters who support losing candidates do not translate into legislative seats, no matter how the districts are drawn. At best, losers in one district can hope that their preferred party wins by a comparable margin, in a district somewhere else in the state, to make up for the loss. Because this rarely works out exactly, there is almost always a difference between a party’s statewide support and the percentage of seats that it wins in an election (Fig 1). Some view this difference as a good thing, because it tends to produce legislative majorities that are more robust, and can therefore implement changes more easily. Some view it as a distortion to be avoided. In the past election cycle, this practice heavily favored Republicans (Fig 2). Either way, it is to some extent an inherent part of “winner take all” elections.
strong democrat moderate democrat neutral moderate republican
Fig 1. In the 2012 election, seven states had a severe imbalance between their popular vote and the party makeup of their House delegations; three others had moderate imbalances. On this map, each state is sized in proportion to the number of House districts it has.
strong republican ME NH
MT ND WA ID
WY SD DE
AR AZ NM
Fig 2. In the 10 imbalanced states, a small advantage for the Republicans in vote totals yielded a disproportionately large
% 7 share of House seats.
vote margin over democrats
more seats than democrats (109 to 62)
Packing Partisans: Austin’s Divided Population Austin has long had a reputation for being an anomaly in
In a March 24, 2012, commentary published in the Austin
the state of Texas. Politically, it’s a blue dot in an otherwise
American-Statesman, Austin lawyer Steve Bickerstaff said
red state. However, a redistricting plan put in place by the
the legislatively-initiated splitting of Travis County among
Republican-led state legislature in 2011, and temporarily
several districts was “clearly intended to dilute, not enhance,
upheld by a panel of federal judges, sought to erase as much
the effect of the county’s voters (especially Democrats).
blue from Texas as possible.
These objectives are not surprising for a Republican-lead
Six U.S. House districts take in at least a portion of Austin, Texas and surrounding Travis County under this interim plan and Austinites don’t come close to comprising the majority
Legislature, because Travis County is the only major Texas county in which a majority of non-Hispanic white people continue to vote consistently for Democratic candidates.”
of residents in any of them. In contrast, the nation’s ten
Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett became a central
more populous cities have at least one such “anchor” district.
target of the Republican Legislature during this redistricting process. His house was redrawn into the Republicanfriendly 25th District. Doggert stated that the Legislature’s plan was “to deny a voice for our unique Austin community— where neighbors of all ethnic backgrounds can come together to serve in elective office. It would mean Congress members who are less accessible, less accountable and more beholden to moneyed special interests, as election costs soar in these bizarre districts.”
district number total district pop. austin pop. 800 000
10th district 709 456 200 605
17th district 710 793 58 826
21st district 723 750 182 938
25th district 714 682 162 776
31st district 721 698 38 080
35th district 724 271 199 727
all of austin 842 952 400 000
Fig 3. Far left: Austin’s population broken
Fig 4. Below: The location of Austin in the
down by district. Overall it is the 11th most
state of Texas and the six Congressional
populous in the United States, but also the
districts that include a portion of the city.
largest without its own “anchor” district.
It’s population is more than 100,000 people
over the average of the districts that claim such a small portion of the city.
150 miles Some districts extend more than
from the city center, into neighboring urban areas
of Ft. Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
A more detailed breakdown of redistricting practices as part of Zach’s senior thesis can be found at zachthomasdesign.com/redistricting. For more information on gerrymandering and redistricting in your state, you can visit allaboutredistricting.com.
S T N E D U T S u h Y was D O B A E P T S N I A AG
SIT-IN WS E I V R E INT “When I found out that we had a consortium for clean coal utilization on campus I was really disillusioned by Wash Us involvement in promoting coal. I was even more upset to find out that the CEO of the world’s largest coal company is on our board. I’m really grateful for my education here, but I want Wash U to be a place I can be proud of.”
We’re prepared to be in this space until progress is made. —Patrick Buggy, 2014
“Our university is supposed to be about enhancing the lives and livelihoods of people. And I see Peabody in direct
“I’m here today because I believe that we have a right to be
contradiction with that.”
not okay with what Peabody does. ”
—Caroline Burney, 2014
—Lauren Chase, 2017
“Even if we’re not going to say we’re against coal, I don’t think there is any way that the University could condone the general behavior of Peabody. ”
see him acknowledge
“Its easy, you know? They make it so easy to take a stance. Because on every single issue they have completely transgressed any
Peabody as a company that
sort of ethics. ”
—Lauren Chase, 2017
involved with how the school acts and what the schools does. By allowing Peabody to be so affiliated with our administration, we’re showing that we’re okay with what Peabody does. And I’m
“Personally, I’m not really expecting Chancellor Wrighton to say “Okay, no more Peabody.” But I would like to at least
is unethical and hint towards a future where Wash U
—Megan Odenthal, 2014
would not be so closely tied with Peabody. “ —Chloe Ames, 2017
“It’s the kind of thing I told myself, ‘It’d be nice to have seen more of this while I was
“I think it’d be nice to see
here.’ On the other hand, I
Wash U held accountable for
took a passive role for four
the things it does, for the
years, so it’s not like I can
relationships it has.”
necessarily say that.”
—Gabe Hassler, 2014
David Binstock, 2014
State-Sanctioned Discrimination John Nikitas
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer eventually vetoed SB 1062, a controversial bill that critics claimed sought to legally permit the discrimination of LGBT individuals.
ast February, both chambers of Arizona’s state legislature narrowly passed a bill expanding the scope of Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to cover individuals and corporations as well as religious institutions. Although Arizona’s Republican Governor, Jan Brewer, eventually vetoed SB 1062, exploring the politics surrounding the bill yields some interesting insights regarding the future of the debate over gay rights in more conservative regions of the United States. Supporters of the bill argued that SB 1062 was critical to strengthening the state’s existing laws that protect against religious discrimination. They hoped to prevent lawsuits similar to a recent case in New Mexico in which a photography company was sued for refusing to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony. Opponents of the bill countered that a lawsuit like the one in New Mexico could not occur in Arizona regardless of whether SB 1062 passed or not, since Arizona does not have any laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. They also pointed out that businesses in Arizona can already refuse to serve gay customers without facing any repercussions. Rather than correct this lack of legal protection for gay individuals, this bill would have further eroded civil rights for homosexuals by legally protecting blatant discrimination. By allowing business owners to refuse to serve gay customers as long as they can cite a religious objection, SB 1062 would have allowed an individual’s religious beliefs to supersede civil rights and equal protection. In doing so, it violated the principles set forth by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits businesses from refusing services based on race, gender, or religion, regardless of a business owner’s moral or religious convictions. Unsurprisingly, SB 1062 provoked vocal opposition from an unlikely alliance including not only Democrats, but the NFL, Apple, the Republican establishment, and even a few of the state senators who voted in favor of the bill. The president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council argued that if SB 1062 were to become law, it
would make it “difficult to attract any kind of talent or investment or events” to Arizona. As a result, Governor Brewer gave into pressure and vetoed the bill, ensuring that, at least for now, the push for such bills will stall. Even though Arizona’s bill was ultimately vetoed, the fact that it came so close to becoming law is alarming. It underscores the necessity of a national law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and that makes it easier to sue if such discrimination occurs. Until such a law is passed, the rights of gay couples and individuals are up to the whims of state legislators, who have demonstrated how easily they can be pressured to pass a bill that turns back the clock to a time when businesses could openly refuse to serve marginalized groups of the population without repercussions. Arizona’s bill should serve as a wake-up call to all of us that even though the equal protection clause is enshrined in the Constitution, we need to do more to protect that right for all the marginalized groups in our population. It is particularly surprising that SB 1062 poses such a fundamental threat to our constitution when it does not even mention homosexuality. Instead, the bill is framed purely in terms of freedom of religion, which is one of the factors that garnered it so much support. This is the Republican Party’s latest strategy to enact a socially conservative agenda: disguising discriminatory bills as expansions of freedom of religion. In addition to using freedom of religion to argue for the treatment of homosexuals as second-class citizens, Republicans have also used it to argue that employers should be able to restrict their employees’ access to insured contraception and that federal funding for preventative services at Planned Parenthood should be eliminated altogether. With recent polls from Gallup showing that 59 percent of Americans now believe that same-sex relations are morally acceptable, up from 40 percent back in 2001, and that 91 percent of Americans say that birth control is morally acceptable, conservatives are using the freedom of religion as a last-ditch effort to
This perversion of the First Amendment not only trivializes freedom of religion by using it as a political ploy, but it also sets a dangerous precedent of imposing a single group’s moral and religious beliefs on the rest of the country. impede the gay rights movement and to limit access to birth control. However, this perversion of the First Amendment not only trivializes freedom of religion by using it as a political ploy, but it also sets a dangerous precedent of imposing a single group’s moral and religious beliefs on the rest of the country. John Nikitas is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
wupr alumni Grace Portelance
Steve Perlberg Where do you work/intern now? I am a reporter at The Wall Street Journal covering media and advertising. How did you find your current job/ internship? If you can believe it, on Twitter. How very 2014! Did your experiences at Wash U/ WUPR influence your career decision? Absolutely. WUPR helped instill in me a love of writing, and without WUPR I don’t think I would have decided to become a journalist. Also, WUPR.org gave me the ability to rant with no cap on word count. It was a beautiful thing that I took for granted.
Do you have any advice for those looking to get into the career field that you currently occupy? Write a lot. And try to find an internship where you can do some reporting. A good way to get your name out there, I hear, is to find a niche and try to blog about incessantly. You should also send cold emails to reporters and editors you admire and ask them to chat. If you cast a wide net, people will get back to you and maybe put your clips in the right inbox. Do you have any interesting/funny anecdotes from your job/internship? I couldn’t possibly comment on the record. Best WUPR memory? Watching the 2012 presidential debates in the DUC. Food, friends, and live-blogging. What could be better?
After graduating (escaping) last year from Wash U, I now find myself living in occupied Palestine. I’m coming on ten months living in Ramallah—a bizarre smorgasbord of consumerist frenzy and unyielding military occupation. I have been working as the External Relations and Advocacy Officer at the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. After a truncated three-week internship period and sheer luck (two out of four co-workers unexpectedly left), I found myself suddenly handing everything from writing million dollar grant proposals and translating press releases to photographing, documenting, and publicizing my organization’s projects. Like any job in the NGO work, it demands flexibility—coping with the extreme ups and downs in terms of workload and type of work. It stumbled into it as do most: networking through friends to put in a good word for me, and braving a baptism under fire. WUPR did a lot for me, as I think it did for many in my class. The wonderful people with whom I had the privilege to have many a deep political or moral discussion with taught me one thing above all: to accept that others will inevitably disagree with you, and to see that as an opportunity to both challenge and strengthen your own arguments. This is a skill I find myself using every day. I chose to go abroad right after graduation. Launching myself out of my “comfort zone,” I can’t begin to fathom all that I’ve learned about here: of my humanity and my identity, the compassion and dignity that humans are born with, the brutality and cruelty that the same humans are capable of. Above all, I continue to learn that Palestine is neither an orientalist fantasy nor a warzone, but a place of incredible complexity, social resilience, and cultural wealth. As I write this, people 15 miles away are being shot for peacefully demonstrating against the Separation Wall. Meanwhile, I’m taking a Tango workshop this week, so I’m practicing dance steps with my friend, the best damn Tangera in Palestine.
Anna Applebaum Where do you work/intern now? I am a graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service. As part of that position, I have worked with the East Arkansas Planning and Development District (EAPDD) and will be working with the Rwandan Orphans Project this summer. How did you find your current job/ internship? The director of Admissions for the Clinton School, Alex Thomas, came to WashU to talk about the program. I also heard about the program from the Gephardt Institute for Public Service. Did your experiences at Wash U/ WUPR influence your career decision? Absolutely. Politics isn’t necessarily the same thing as public service, but public service can often include politics. The ability to care deeply about social issues - and then to think critically and write succinctly about them - were all things I learned from WashU and the WUPR community.
Peter Birke Where do you work/intern now? How did you find your current job/ internship? I currently work for the City of New York. I am a 2013-2014 member of the NYC Urban Fellows Program, which is a year-long fellowship for recent graduates interested in urban policy and public service. Fellows are placed in various city agencies. I work in the Parks Department, which aligns my interests in planning and community development. Did your experiences at Wash U/ WUPR influence your career decision? As an undergrad, I became fascinated with St. Louis history and its present civic affairs. The Gephardt Institute’s Civic Scholars Program introduced me to few mentors who were well-connected to the region’s civic and planning realms. I got involved with a few local projects that I tied to my academic work.
Do you have any advice for those looking to get into the career field that you currently occupy? If you’re ever interested in the Clinton School, call me up or email me and I’ll have plenty to say!
Best WUPR memory? Knowing the new and old PMC. My first article. Election parties in the DUC. Late nights writing and editing. Nate Silver. Making so many great friends. Creating a new pre-o. And, of course, the parties
Do you have any interesting/funny anecdotes from your job/internship? I made Bill Clinton scratch his head.
As a freshman, I harbored a mild interest in becoming a journalist. I enjoyed reading and writing for WUPR. While my interest in becoming a journalist waned, WUPR re-enforced my desire to work in public affairs and policy. Do you have any advice for those looking to get into the career field that you currently occupy? For those interested in working in local government or urban policy, my advice would be to walk around the city you live in. Observe how neighborhoods fit together and how people live in them and move through them. Identify a mentor or two who you can learn the ropes. Pursue internship opportunities that allow you to understand cities from academic, aesthetic, activist, governmental, historical, and business points of view.
never forget the electricity in the DUC when the networks projected Obama as the winner. It was a special shared experience. Just as special to me were the late nights in the Print Media Center working on the magazine and talking shop with fellow WUPRites. My WUPR friends are the people I have remained closest with post-graduation.
Best WUPR memory? The 2012 Presidential Debate Watch Parties as well as the Election Night Watch Party were very exciting to organize. I had never seen WU students so excited about a political event and I will
interview: thomas countryman WUPR recently had the opportunity to talk with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, a Wash U alumnus and career diplomat who currently heads the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Non-Proliferation. An excerpt of our conversation is below. WUPR: How intensely have the other branches of the U.S. government been involved in the effort to extract chemical weapons from Syria, particularly the White House? Countryman: I’ve worked in Washington in times in which the Department of State and Department of Defense and White House were almost at war with each other, at least deeply mistrustful of each other. I see today the best working relationship among the different government agencies that I’ve ever seen in Washington…And so we’ve pursued a very strong division of labor, where much of the funding, the technical thinking, the logistics hard work, has come from the Department of Defense, and they’ve done a remarkably good job on this effort. The Department of State, not only my bureau, but very importantly the Arms Control and Verification Bureau, has got the real experts on the chemical weapons convention and how we use that international treaty to accomplish this mission. And the White House has done the job it’s supposed to do of both strategic leadership and coordination.
Assistant Secretary of State and Wash U alumnus Thomas Countryman.
WUPR: What is your department’s primary focus or concern? Assistant Secretary Thomas Countryman: My bureau, the Bureau of International Security and Non-Proliferation, the simplest way to put our mission statement is that we keep the world’s most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world’s most dangerous people. WUPR: We were wondering how your efforts in Syria have at all been complicated by what’s going on in Crimea, since, as you know, the U.S.-Russian relationship is so central to that. Countryman: Now, this has been a joint effort with the Russian Federation, and it is important to note that the U.S. and Russia disagree on everything about Syria: what’s the cause of the conflict and what’s the solution. But they do absolutely agree, the U.S. and Russia, that we can’t tolerate the continued presence of these chemical weapons in Syria, so on one area we are able to work together. It’s our view that there is a higher interest here for both the United States and the Russian Federation, and so we’re hoping that the Russians continue to cooperate on this, and so far the indication is that they will. WUPR: And what does this collaboration look like on the ground? Countryman: We don’t have a presence, an American presence in Syria. So it is primarily the Russians who have kept their elbow in the back of the Syrians, pushing them to take the steps they are required to take and to keep the flow of chemicals moving out. The Syrians have proceeded in kind of stops and starts, for reasons that are not very transparent. But we are getting closer to the completion of the primary task, which is removing all the chemicals that we know about, and then going to the secondary task which is to determine if indeed that is all the chemical weapons that were present in Syria... Nobody in the world has a good reason to take Bashar al-Assad at his word. He may have made a complete declaration to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, last year, but we don’t assume that it was an honest and complete declaration. And that’s why we need to have a process led by the OPCW to verify that.
WUPR: Working off of what you were just talking about, is there a discernable difference between different administrations in regards to how they use the Foreign Service? Countryman: What I do see, yes, that is radically different between this administration and the previous administration is the degree to which they, Defense, work together. I think a lot of the foreign policy disaster that was the invasion of Iraq was caused because the White House, the Vice President, assigned entire responsibility for everything in Iraq to the Department of Defense. Now again, before 2003, the Department of State had real smart experts working on a project called The Future of Iraq, thinking through questions like: how do you rebuild a police force; how do you rebuild a judiciary; how do you hold the first democratic elections; how do you protect museums against plundering etc. We worked very hard and in detail about most questions about what happens in a post-Saddam Iraq, and had good answers for a lot of them. The Bush Administration, at the request of the Secretary of Defense, specifically excluded the Department of State from participating in the planning and the execution of the immediate post-invasion administration of Iraq. It was an example of justifiable confidence in the superiority of our military being transformed from confidence into arrogance…And it led to the spectacularly disastrous results we encountered in Iraq. I ask you to make this comparison, because sometimes I hear people say that the Obama administration is not strong enough on military force. This is my mathematical calculation: in Iraq we spent 1 trillion dollars, we lost 4 and a half thousand American lives, we destroyed 0 tons of weapons of mass destruction. In Syria, we’ve spent a couple of hundred million dollars, 5,000 times less, we’ve lost zero American lives, and we will destroy more than a thousand tons of weapons of mass destruction. Which one of those sounds like a stronger outcome to you?
A transcript of the full interview can be found at www.wupr.org.
Borders, Danger, and Human Rights: Israel’s Dynamic Role in Tumultuous Times Meytal Chernoff
he past few years have seen largescale changes in the Middle East. In particular, escalated violence in Syria has forced the world’s eyes toward the region and raised the issues of alliances, human rights, and the potential for the conflict to spread beyond Syrian borders. The state of Israel sits in the physical center of this conflict and serves as an example for social justice work even as diplomatic relationships shift and border tensions escalate. As the situation progresses, Israel works to provide aid to its neighbors while protecting itself, demonstrating a unique balance between defense and a concern for human rights. Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, the Syrian government has been using deadly and wide-ranging weapons against its own citizens, a trend that can be best exemplified by the use of chemical weapons against the Damascus countryside this past August. The conflict has also seen indiscriminate attacks on civilians and incidents of kidnap, torture, and execution. This has caused millions of people, many of whom are in need of medical attention, to flee Syria for its neighbors, including Israel. Israel sits at a unique position within this conflict. Technically, Israel and Syria have been at war for four decades, and the violence in Syria threatens to spill over the border and into Israel. However, as a nation concerned with human rights, Israel cannot sit quietly as 2.5 million new Syrian refugees suffer. The country must find a balance between humanitarian work and defense, and the results offer a unique glimpse into a country that is both focused on humanity and aware of the harsh realities of war. One example of this balance can be seen in the case of IsraAid, an Israeli nonprofit organization that provided medical, psychological, and food services following the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti. Since the beginning of this year, the organization has provided over $100,000 worth of supplies to the Syrian refugees in Jordan. They have also brought in Israeli medical professionals and social workers to help the dis-
placed cope with the physical and mental scars of the war. Additionally, Israeli field
The country must find a balance between humanitarian work and defense, and the results offer a unique glimpse into a country that is indeed both focused on humanity and aware of the harsh realities of war. hospitals have been treating refugees who come across the border in need of care. These efforts show an incredible dedication to human rights made all the more impres-
sive given the current political tensions between Israel and Syria. As the war in Syria has progressed, Israel’s Syrian border has seen increased violence, and there is no end in sight. Cross-border attacks included a bombing on March 18 that wounded four Israeli soldiers. This latest incident prompted an Israeli airstrike against military targets in Syria. Complicating matters is the fact that the Syrian border is under fractioned control, with 60 percent controlled by the opposition and the remaining parts being controlled by the Syrian governmental regime. This confusion has Israel on high alert and has forced a state of constant preparedness to defend against possible invasion or attacks. “Our policy is very clear,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “we attack those who attack us.” Incredibly, this policy and the threat to the safety of Israeli citizens have not prevented Israel from working to help and protect the lives of Syrian refugees and citizens hurt during the violence. It is incredible to see a country that manages to prioritize human rights for people outside its borders, even while at war. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This statement holds true, but unfortunately few countries take it to heart. As most countries turn a blind eye to the suffering of Syrian refugees and citizens, Israel works to help them, even while at war with their government.
Meytal Chernoff is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at chernoff. email@example.com.
Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Savvy, or Sullied? Joe Lenoff
ver his five years in office, President Obama’s foreign policy has gained a notorious reputation as Woodrow Wilsonesque idealism—a sort of intentional naivety used to shape the world as it should be, rather than grapple with what it is. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is lauded as a foreign policy pragmatist, someone who understands the nuts and bolts of the world, and prefers prose to the president’s poetry. Thus, pundits and academics frequently criticize Obama’s foreign policy without ever mentioning Clinton’s role as Secretary of State. It is an expression of Hillary Clinton’s political acumen that she receives much of the praise for the Obama administration’s first-term foreign policy, while receiving little of the blame. Clinton’s major accomplishment as Secretary of State was the “Pivot to Asia.” It is a hugely important shift of the defensive and diplomatic efforts of the United States, with implications that will last well into the future. For example, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than half of the world’s shipping goes through the South China Sea. The Pivot, however, is not the flashiest of accomplishments. It is a bit “inside-baseball” and most people would struggle to think of another signature accomplishment of Clinton’s tenure at Secretary of State. Yet, Clinton maintains her reputation for foreign policy savvy. While Clinton clearly did more than just the Pivot, and her reputation is not undeserved, it is still remarkable that her reputation is so pervasive that the American people are willing to overlook her lack of hallmark achievements. Even more remarkable than building a reputation out of her lessthan-lustrous tenure as Secretary of State is her ability to avoid blame for soured policies she helped implement. U.S.-Russian relations are a prime example of this. The Obama administration, with Clinton as top diplomat, decided early on to pursue a “reset” in relations with Russia. Unfortunately, recent events—most notably the Crimean invasion—have shown that this policy has not developed to the United States’ liking. However, while Republicans were relishing in the President’s failure, describing him (incorrectly) as “weak” and proclaiming “I told you so!”, Clinton’s role in shaping the reset policy was not widely discussed. Hence, Clinton was able to maintain her reputation for toughness, even though her views were ostensibly a large part of the United States’ “weak” Russia policy. Turning south, Syria provides another example of the strength
of Clinton’s reputation. After President Obama decided not to punish Syria for using chemical weapons in 2013, a theory started to circulate that it was perhaps better that the President decided not to attack Syria. According to this line of thinking, the attack would have been too late anyway. If the United States had put its weight be-hind the rebels in 2011 or 2012, then maybe it could have done something, but because of the President’s (and, seemingly, only his) dawdling and lack of foresight, Syria descended into chaos. Regardless of the validity of this theory, it is amazing that Clinton’s role in the Obama administration’s “dawdling” was never seriously critiqued. Theoretically, it would have also been Clinton’s job to antici-pate and plan for the outcomes of the Syrian crisis, but, again, only the President was accused of incompetency and shortsightedness, not Clinton. The list of Clinton’s politically consequence-free mistakes continues (Libya, Iran, North Korea, etc.), but there is one glaring exception: Benghazi. However, although there were consequences this time, they did not last long for Clinton. Republicans attacked Clinton and the Obama administration mercilessly, yet for all of the punditry and the hearings called to “investigate,” their attacks were nev-er a real challenge to Clinton’s reputation. It quickly became clear that the accusations were solely politically motivated and calculated in a cynical attempt to win votes and tarnish Clinton’s reputation. Clinton rode out the tempest in a teacup, and was even able to showcase her resolve in the very hearings called to denounce her.
It is an expression of Hillary Clinton’s political acumen that she was able to receive much of the laud of the Obama administration’s first-term foreign policy, while receiving little of the blame. The president is head of state, commander in chief, and the most visible person in any administration. He (hopefully one day she) takes most of the blame and most of the credit. That being said, others in the administration are not blameless: Katherine Sebelius is constantly under attack for the Affordable Care Act, Colin Powell would have had a real shot at the presidency were it not for the Second Gulf War, and Hank Paulson is still blamed for precipitating the financial crisis of 2008. But Hillary Clinton, despite the attention generated by her probable 2016 run for president, continues to avoid blame for the fallout of the foreign policy decisions during her term as Secretary of State. With the possible exceptions of President Obama and Chris Christie, no single politician is dis-cussed with the same frequency as Clinton, but popular discourse avoids the single biggest question of her resume: was she a good Secretary of State?
Joe Lenoff is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sporting Sweatshops: The Wins and Losses of Being a “Student-Athlete Henry Kopesky | Illustration by Daniel Raggs
ootball is a game of numbers: 100 yards from end zone to end zone, six points for a touchdown, three timeouts in each half, four quarters of fifteen minutes each. Sometimes, we fans argue over the numbers, over whether a penalty should move a team back five or ten yards, or if a statistic should be erased from the official record book. At the end of the day, though, all these numbers are made up. They only exist in the stadium, on the field where they are the law of the land, the unyielding dicta that govern the world. Once the game is over and the fans have gone back to their tailgates and hangovers, the numbers all disappear. Except for one. $0. Nothing. Zero. That’s how much money is in a college athlete’s pocket at the end of each game. Even though the college sports industry is worth $10 billion, nearly twice the GDP of the entire nation of Liechtenstein, players do not see a dime of that money. In recent months, the first steps toward the legal recognition of players’ right to a salary have been taken by athletes at Northwestern University. It appears that some form of player compensation is on the horizon, if you look far enough ahead. But should it be? At the risk of sounding like a Pinkerton apologist, perhaps it’s not necessary for players to have collective bargaining rights. Barely 10 percent of public Division I athletic departments are self-sustaining, while the rest receive some level of support from their parent institution; at private universities, the numbers are almost certainly lower. In other words, some 90 percent of large, public athletic programs do not generate enough revenue to survive on their own. If athletes were employees in such a foundering “company,” then surely they would be subject to termination or the wholesale elimination of their division of the firm, as is the case for any other employee in the business world. The truth is that most Division I (to say nothing of less-endowed Division II and III) athletic departments cannot sustain themselves, and that’s without having to shell out thousands or millions of dollars to their athletes. If those costs were suddenly added to universities’ ledgers, the effect on college athletics would be catastrophic; nonrevenue sports, traditionally propped up by football and men’s basketball, would disappear or lose funding overnight. Today’s amateur athletic ecosystem is, fittingly enough, built on a foundation of amateurism. If the numbers work against the monetary compensation of players, what do they say about the overall value of a college degree? Beginning in 2011, the North Carolina newspaper The News & Observer began investigating claims that University of North Carolina student-athletes had received improperly high grades in their classes there. One professor in particular, Julius Nyang’oro, was accused of teaching classes that never met and required a single short paper. Dr. Nyang’oro has since been indicted for fraud, though the problem apparently reached far beyond his classroom to dozens of other courses. These recent revelations about the University of North Carolina’s grading standards cast doubt on whether student-athletes are being paid a fair wage in the form of free tuition and housing, and whether those benefits are actually worth the work they dedicate to their sport. After all, if an athlete can succeed in college without attending class and graduate without any marketable skills, what was college but a four-year stint in semi-professional athletics without the mea-
ger pay? If students truly do not benefit at all from attending college, then the NCAA and its member institutions have built $10 billion in revenue on the bedrock of uncompensated labor. Although it is exceedingly difficult to accurately measure the value added to studentathletes’ careers by college, a study published in 2001 by James Shulman examined separate groups of male athletes who had participated in sports at various levels during their college careers. The findings of his study were surprising: in all of Shulman’s measured groups, former college athletes earned significantly higher salaries than their counterparts who had been regular students. For men’s athletics at colleges and universities of many sizes, this difference was notable: by the end of their careers, former participants in men’s sports made an average of $10,000 more than their counterparts who had not participated in athletics. This disparity could be plausibly explained away by arguing that the one or two percent of college athletes who are selected to play professional sports drag the mean salary up throughout their careers, by way of their contracts, endorsements, and other athletics-related income. The proportion of former athletes who remain relevant enough to earn money from their past fame is miniscule, however, and would hardly comprise a difference that amounts to roughly ten percent of a non-athlete’s peak salary. The reality that “going pro in something other than sports,” in the words of the NCAA, is very profitable to student athletes is evident when one examines women’s sports. Very few female athletes make a substantial salary; in fact, top WNBA players make a mere $101,000, while rookies’ salaries are often below $40,000. The average salary in the NWSL, the latest iteration of women’s professional soccer in the United States, is a shocking $15,000. Clearly, then, female athletes do not make the astronomical salaries that their male counterparts are paid. Yet, the same pay disparity between former athletes that existed with men persists with women, to an even greater degree. Though the nominal difference between former athletes’ and non-athletes’ salaries was only $7,000, the difference in pay, adjusted for their chosen professional field, was even more dramatic than that of male former athletes. Of course, there are reasons to believe this difference may no longer be as significant. Could college degrees now be worth even less than those earned 25, 40, or 60 years ago by those who are at the end of their careers today? It is certainly possible. The
commercialization of athletics has considerably heightened the pressure on athletic departments to create a winning program, pressure which has translated into scandal upon academic scandal. Whether that is the case or not, however, the best data we have seem to suggest that the degrees granted to student-athletes are far from worthless. Whether or not athletes receive a meaningful education in college, is there really a point to forbidding them from receiving the fruit of their labor? A recent piece of investigative blogging, published on SBNation.
Whether or not athletes receive a meaningful education in college, is there really a point to forbidding them from receiving the fruit of their labor? com by Steven Godfrey, details the extent to which many major universities already pay their players. During the recruiting process, before an athlete has even played a single snap or scored a single point, goal, basket, or run for a school, they have often received tens of thousands of dollars from multiple schools vying for their talents. Although these payments are not sanctioned by the players’ respective universities, does it really matter? Money, on the order of millions of dollars, has already corrupted major college athletics, and has been polluting the virgin “amateur” system for decades; that money’s source does not matter in the least. Once a player has been paid, he or she is no longer an amateur, and the NCAA’s prohibition on professionalism becomes all the more ridiculous. Still, where does the money to pay players come from? Most athletic departments are already strapped for cash; asking them to pay players would be akin to demanding a subsidy from taxpayers for the athletics industry. This proposition is utterly ridiculous: subsidies are (or should be) reserved for industries vital to the economic health of the United States, not superfluous entertainment industries in which executives (in this case, coaches and athletic directors) are paid millions of dollars each year. Allowing players to accept cash or other benefits in exchange for endorsements, a simple reward for the hard
work and image-maintenance demanded from college athletes, hardly compromises universities’ budgets. When I started the process of writing this article, I wanted to demonize the NCAA and universities around the country. It was my intent to embrace exploited college kids, embrace the basic right of people to be compensated for what they do. This desire was based on my conception of former NCAA athletes that depicted them as under-educated and unprepared for life after college (or, more importantly, life after sports, especially given the miniscule portion of college athletes who go pro). It is difficult, however, to square that viewpoint with the reality that the hard work of athletes in college translates to higher salaries in the future. It seems, then, that colleges and athletes exist in a symbiotic relationship. Perhaps nobody is a true villain in college athletics; perhaps neither players and their proponents nor universities and their apologists are exactly right or wrong. Even if players are not entitled to a weekly paycheck, maybe their right to collective bargaining is not superfluous. It could be, for instance, that collective bargaining may be an effective way to ensure that student-athletes are given all the medical treatment they need and deserve, or that endorsement deals given to individual players would be partitioned between the players and their team. What collective bargaining should not and cannot do, however, is try to squeeze money from the universities. The ultimate goal of college athletics should always be to foster a university’s sense of community and institutional integrity, never to undermine it.
Henry Kopesky is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at hrkopesky@ wustl.edu.
Minimum Wage in the United States Information recorded from the Pew Research Center. Includes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
16.00% 14.00% 12.00% 10.00% 8.00% 6.00%
Workers Below Minimum Wage This graph looks at the percentage of the nationâ€™s hourly-paid workers that are paid below the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Percentages for both 1979* and 2013 are shown. *The Bureau of Labor Statistics began regularly studying minimum-wage workers in 1979.
4.00% 2.00% 0.00%
Support for Minimum Wage Hike
19% 2% 28%
A sample of 1,002 adults were asked how likely they would be to support a U.S. Congress candidate advocating an increased minimum wage. ** More likely
Not much difference
**Results may not total 100% because of rounding.
Minimum Wage (and below) by Occupation Group This graph charts the five occupational groups with the greatest number of minimum wage and below workers. The value given represents the size of the workforce. Daniel Raggs
1,800,000 1,600,000 1,400,000 1,200,000 1,000,000 800,000 600,000 400,000 200,000 0 Food preparation and serving Sales and related jobs Personal care and service
Transportation and material moving Build cleaning and maintenance
Paging Dr. Barbie Moira Moynihan
ne of my most distinct memories from elementary school is president’s day. Each year, Folwell Elementary celebrated by having each of the 5th grade students dress up and give one-minute speeches on the President or First Lady that he or she was assigned to represent. I was Jacquie O. She, however, was not my first choice. Our year was unusually small, so there were not enough students to fill all of the roles. I asked my teacher, Mrs. Mehring, if I could be a president instead, wisely suggesting that I could pin my hair across my face to look like a beard for a more accurate visual portrayal. The answer was a resounding no. Despite the fact that there were not enough boys to play each of the Presidents, girls were not allowed to fill the role; so, I was a Jacquie O with no JFK, and many of my female friends were asked to be obscure First Ladies, even with many presidential vacancies to be filled. Already a self declared feminist, I was outraged, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Everywhere children look, there are signs telling them what future is available to them based on their gender. In our classroom, the boys got to play with dolls who were soldiers, mad scientists, presidents, and doctors, while the girls got Barbies who were nurses, teachers, and brides. As benign as these career distinctions in toys may be, they have an effect. Decades later, we see these separations reflected in the job market, with a dearth of women in politics and stem fields, and the perpetuation of the so called “pink-collar” labor force, with
careers in nursing and teaching being perceived as strictly feminine endeavors. There are several theories as to why women are underrepresented in certain fields, and women repeatedly cite a lack of role models as a primary reason for avoiding certain fields, and there is an implicit structural misogyny that tells women that they don’t belong in fields where they don’t see people who look like them. The same is true of other marginalized populations, and it is incredibly difficult to enter a field where you are the only woman, queer person, differently-abled person, or person of color in the room. Although the careers associated with children’s toys may not be the primary cause of the lack of diversity in certain fields, the effects of these gendered distinctions are not negligible. A 2007 study by Nancy Freeman, published in the Early Childhood Education Journal, found that young children ca “accurately apply common gender stereotypes to toys by the time they are three” and, moreover, are able to predict parental reactions to playing with these toys. From a young age, girls know that playing with soldiers and truck (or for boys with princesses and brides) means earning disapproval from their parents. If children cant imagine themselves into these non-traditional gender roles without fearing their parents’ disapproval, it’s no surprise that they extend this logic to the careers they imagine for themselves as well. To be fair, the lack of diverse careers among gendered toys has improved markedly in the last few decades. Where Barbie
was once only a wife, then teacher or nurse, she now is employed in a whole slew of careers, including one as president. However, looking to archetypal characters in children’s toys, the disparity still exists. You would be hard pressed to find many “mad-scientist” toys that aren’t modeled after men or cartoon presidents who are women. In some ways, this is a self perpetuating problem, as toy companies model their product to reflect the real world, which subsequently shapes children’s’ expectations of what they “should” be when they grow up. Children’s toys may be one small part of a larger system of institutionalized discrimination against people with marginal identities. Even when parents make active efforts to build a just and equitable home, a child who observes only his or her mother taking on domestic tasks after work or only sees her exhibit nurturing traits will associate these behaviors with her gender, regardless of other attempts at providing diverse role models. On a wider scale, though, it is important that we continue to supply less gendered toys to the consumer, an expansion that would combat the implied gender appropriate careers presented in toys presently. Within the home, there is also a lot that parents and guardians can do as well. I was lucky, in that, by having an older brother, I was able to enjoy handme-down toys “meant” for boys without having to justify a disinterest in princesses. Moreover, my mother purposefully bought us more building blocks and stuffed animals than dolls, giving us the opportunity to imagine and to play without being burdened by toys that were explicitly trying to inculcate us with gender roles. While gender-neutral toys are perhaps the best alternative to the current toy-market, it is my sincere hope that more diverse dolls will be the norm soon. Though the battle for gender-diverse careers for toys may seem less fruitlful than a fight for equality among those already in the job market, by providing Dr. Barbie and Nurse Ken to the current generation of children, we will send an early message, that any future is available to them, without the contingency of gender.
Moira Moynihan is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at moira. email@example.com
Blood on their doorposts Gabe Rubin
espite recent investor bullishness and cocky parliamentary speeches from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Spain remains mired in a profound economic crisis that has hurled its citizens into dire straits. While the overall unemployment rate stands at the American Great Depression level of 25 percent, youth unemployment, at over 50 percent, threatens to destroy the hopes and financial stability of an entire generation. The youth haven’t stayed silent and accepted their fate—like other Spaniards, they are frequently striking and organizing, blocking streets and facing down the riot units of the Guardia Civil. They have also taken out cans of spray paint, using ubiquitous graffiti to advertise strikes, deface banks, ridicule advertisements, and encourage boycotts. More than anything, the graffiti marks their continued suffering presence in Spanish society, scrawling a scarlet letter upon its chest for failing to provide for its youth.
This Lost Generation’s graffiti reflects their dismal circumstances, uncertain fate, and impotent desire to change their prospects. In certain areas Madrid can look like Midnight Cowboy bombed-out New York, smelling of urine and bearing the spray-painted scars of disillusionment and despair. Spanish Crisis graffiti has nothing to do with Banksy’s self-righteous stenciled simulacra, lapped up by American teenagers eager to participate in anti-systemic movements while they eat Doritos at their desks. It shows up in alleyways and on churches, outside metro stations and under highway overpasses. Its life is as short as a scream, soon to be drowned out by someone else’s—or worse, by the blanching muzzle of the state.
November 14, General Strike Madrid General strikes are frequent in Spain, with large rallies held in Puerta de Atocha, near where this photo was taken.
Fired worker, hanged employer Madrid
Revolution Madrid Bank branches are a leading target of graffiti artists given the outsize role Spanish banks played in plunging the country in financial ruin.
The following photographs were taken between January and April 2014 in cities throughout Spain:
A fight without leaders Toledo This phrase is a reference to the 15M movement, Spain’s equivalent of Occupy Wall Street. Though largely dormant now, the movement arose on March 15, 2011 to protest austerity-regime cuts to social programs, corruption in government and business, and stifling unemployment.
The rich meet a bad end Barcelona
The State = Weapon of Repression Aranjuez
Vote for the PCA (Communist Party of Andalucía) Albuñuelas As in any time of economic crisis, parties on the margins of the political spectrum find supporters in those disillusioned with the politics of the status quo. This photo shows the regional Communist party’s attempts to recruit supporters in a tiny village in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Squat, attack Capital! Granada Like many Southern European countries, Spain’s economic collapse was the result of a burst real estate bubble. In the outskirts of many cities, entire apartment buildings and thousands of homes remain vacant or half-built, the casualties of rampant financial speculation. This artist suggests that squatting in these vacant homes would serve to attack the interests who built them.
Gabe Rubin is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new american dream Grace Portelance
A college career fair.
n the surface, the unpaid internship is an insane prospect for a college student: why would anyone, particularly someone who is likely garnering large amounts of debt, choose to work unpaid? You don’t need to be an econ major to see that this is a terrible deal for the student. So, why are there so many unpaid internships out there, and why do students continue to accept them? These jobs use the false pretense of eventual promotion to keep these nocost laborers in the market, catering to students’ desperate desire to gain “experience.” Taking on an intern is an undeniable risk for a company—while intelligent, college students are untrained and untested. This uncertainty makes paid employment, particularly in competitive industries like fashion, photography, and journalism, unwise and ultimately unnecessary. There will always be more aspiring journalists than journalism jobs, and this excess encourages organizations to offer unpaid internships. And these jobs aren’t enjoyable. It is most beneficial for a company to work their unpaid employees the longest and hardest— after all, they are far from being in a bargaining position and are likely replaceable. Students take on this uncompensated responsibility in the hope that the unpaid internship will pay off, a misguided and potentially harmful assumption. A recent student survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that paid interns have a significant advantage over unpaid interns once in the real job market. Among seniors graduating with a bachelor’s degree, those with paid internship
experience were more than 50 percent more likely to receive a job offer than those who had only worked an unpaid internship, a group that barely outperformed those who worked no internship. If these internships do not help you get a job, what purpose do they serve? Businesses are looking for capable young people who have meaningful experience, and while that may be found in an unpaid setting, it is certainly not guaranteed. No pay incites low expectations from both the employer and employee. A salary reflects the worth one brings to the company, as well as the opportunity cost of the laborer’s time, what that person’s next best alternative is. If you make no salary, what statement are you making about your own worth? All of this is not to say that unpaid internships are a complete waste; if you are able to go a short period of time without income and wish to gain personal experience in a specific field, or are in a financial situation where this debt can be easily borne, an internship of any kind is definitely more useful than doing nothing at all. However, those who believe that an unpaid internship will pay for itself in the long run must confront the reality that the value of an unpaid internship is usually low, and extremely variable. This is particularly important for those who have already taken on massive amounts of debt in order to finance a college education—they should not be digging their holes deeper and deeper waiting for an internship to turn into a job. If you are capable and willing to volunteer your time, go right ahead. But know you are doing exactly that: volunteering. At a college like Wash U there can be immense pressure to find a meaningful internship, relevant to your major, each summer until you graduate. Unpaid internships, however, are luxuries that not all students can afford. In such cases, richer students are given a clear and unwarranted advantage. The failure to utilize all talented students, not just the wealthy ones, is both anti-meritocratic and inefficient. We have a minimum wage for a reason, and regulations should
Those with paid internship experience were more than 50 percent more likely to receive a job offer than those who had only worked an unpaid internship, a group that barely outperformed those who worked no internship. be tightened to deny businesses the chance to effectively force students to work for free. In essence, we – as driven, educated college students – are worth payment. It is not unrealistic to expect it from internships, and perhaps, in light of this recent study about unpaid vs. paid internships, we should start to demand it. Otherwise, we can go back to the good old summer job.
Grace Portelance is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Does The Market Reward Musical Talent?: Vulfpeck, Spotify, and the Changing Face Of The Music Industry Jared Skoff
t 7:30 every morning this past summer as a counselor at Camp Ramah, I enforced a daily listening of Vulfpeck’s first EP, Mit Peck, in my bunk. “These guys are gonna be big one day,” I would tell my twelve campers as they were waking up, “just wait.” Despite my outward confidence, I was skeptical. There is no doubt in my mind that Vulfpeck is one of the most musically innovative and talented funk rhythm bands out there today. But the reality is that the music industry does not automatically reward strong, or even virtuosic, musicianship. Besides playing Vulfpeck for anyone who would listen and brainwashing sixteen-year-olds into appreciating funk, how can a die-hard fan like me help an independent band succeed? The short answer: it’s a challenge. For a time, bands made their money on record sales. Not anymore. In an interview with BBC News, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones reflected on his personal experience in the industry, explaining, “there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.”
With the rise of digital sales and downloading, selling albums is no longer so lucrative unless a band sells millions of copies. If your favorite band is signed to a record label, then for every 99-cent song you buy from iTunes, the band gets 9 cents of that money. Independent artists get a few cents more than that. The bottom line is that artists have to get creative. And they have. After a hiatus, The Wu-Tang Clan, called “the best rap group ever” by Rolling Stone Magazine, is coming out with a new album. But their anxiety about the record industry and fear of widespread illegal downloading has led to an unprecedented move. Wu-Tang Clan will be releasing only one copy of the new record. ONE COPY. It will be produced in a hand-carved case, made of nickel and silver, and will go on a global tour through various museums and venues. After paying an admission fee and going through a security check for recording devices, visitors will be allowed a single listen to the recording through headphones, so that no one in the world will be able to hear the songs without attending. By the way, after the museum tour the band plans to auction off
the album to the highest bidder. They have already received an offer for $5 million. While they hope to make more money this way than through typical record sales, Wu-Tang Clan claims they are not primarily concerned about the money. The band is upset with the way that musical talent has been devalued in the current climate of the industry. They want to remind people that music is art, and they want their album to be visited in a museum, like a painting or a sculpture. This is a clever scheme, but what about a band like Vulfpeck? Lacking the recognition and fame that the Wu-Tang Clan has, they could never make money off such a stunt. And without a label or a manager it would seem impossible for them to make a living, much less achieve fortune and fame. Yet even if they were signed to a label, it seems the cards are stacked against them. Again, they receive only 9 cents for every song sold on iTunes. And when it comes to legal online streaming sites like Spotify, bands get only HALF of a cent each time that someone listens to one of their songs. So how can an independent band that writes, performs, records, engineers, and produces all their own music get recognition for their musical talent? I’m glad you asked. Vulfpeck released a new album several weeks ago, exclusively on Spotify. It is completely silent. Ten songs, 30 seconds each. The album is called Sleepify, because Vulfpeck suggests you play it while you sleep. And, again, every time you listen to a song on Spotify, the artist makes half of a cent. If you listen to a silent album of 30-second songs on repeat for a 7-hour sleep cycle, Vulfpeck makes almost $6. What is in it for the fans who listen? Vulfpeck plans on using Sleepify revenue to fund its first tour. Admission to the shows will be free, and tour locations will be determined based on the locations where the album is streamed the most (using Spotify’s GPS tracking results). For fans it is a worthy investment; listening to Sleepify takes less money and effort than buying a $20 ticket. Die-hard fans can make a real difference. While they used to make a difference through album sales and following band tours, they need a new medium. Vulfpeck is working within the system as it currently exists. With the help of these die-hard fans, Vulfpeck has started getting noticed. Billboard, The Guardian, and Bloomberg Businessweek covered the story. Though the band hasn’t seen a cent (or even half a cent) of the money yet, after about three weeks and mil-
lions of plays, Vulfpeck stands to make over $21,000 on silent Spotify streams. NPR’s All Things Considered and Rolling Stone Magazine jumped on the bandwagon and interviewed bandleader Jack Stratton. So did I. “There is an artistic mission statement and a financial mission statement, and one informs the other,” Stratton told me on the phone. Rather than trying to compete with commercially popular “funk” songs like “Get Lucky” or “Blurred Lines,” Vulfpeck is aiming to be like Booker T. And The MG’s, the house band for legendary Memphis soul label, Stax Records. Back in the day, classic R&B labels like Stax and Motown had house bands populated by the best musicians on the scene
If Sleepify can be an economic success, perhaps talented musicians in an authentic rhythm band can maintain both an artistic mission and a profit. who would play on every single recording session for that label. Members of these legendary bands claimed they could make any vocalist sound stellar. In the late sixties and early seventies, this system worked. Stax and Motown were able to regularly churn out #1 hits with a variety of vocalists. Today, record labels have no incentive to hire the best backing musicians when it is so much simpler and cheaper to hire lesser musicians and enhance the singer’s voice using computer technology. In the digital age, the Stax method is no longer an ideal business model. Stratton is campaigning for a return to this era. “Artistically, it’s very much a reaction to the way records are made now. It looked a lot more fun back in the day where there were live rhythm sections and full takes and now it’s all about overdubbing and doing 20 takes. We want to make something fast and funky with that feel that you can really only get from a good rhythm section,” he said. In short, Vulfpeck wants to be noticed for being better session musicians than the players who record short snippets that are autotuned, remixed, and looped into the unforgettable sax riff from “Thrift Shop” or the
bassline from “Blurred Lines.” Stratton went on, “Financially, I have this bizarre goal that I want the highest possible percentage of money spent on the band to go directly to the musicians and engineers. Everything we do is in-house. Everyone is listed as a composer in the credits, so everyone has some ownership when we go in to record. There is that extra motivation, rather than the alternative where session musicians are handed an advance or work for hire.” Reclaiming profit for musical talent is a noble goal, but did not seem attainable until now. Instead of competing with today’s Top 40 hits and sacrificing their vision, Stratton and Vulfpeck have attempted to level the playing field. If Sleepify can be an economic success, perhaps talented musicians in an authentic rhythm band can maintain both an artistic mission and a profit. They just need to take advantage of the industry as it currently operates. As I said before, die-hard fans can make a real difference, and in a world where it is easiest to get music through legal and illegal downloading, the secret for artists is enabling this audience to make them money without investing much time and energy. So, does the market reward musical talent? Perhaps not. But fans can. If independent musicians have a dedicated fan base and enough business savvy, there are ways to make the market work in their favor. With the digitization of music revenue, making money is an increasing challenge for talented musicians who are more committed to the craft of producing tight rhythms and solid grooves than they are to conforming to commercially popular music. In response to this challenge, Stratton explains, “I believe humans are smarter than the Internet. If we work together we can beat this thing.”
Jared Skoff is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cortex Aims High Nicolas Hinsch
A map of recent and proposed developments in the Cortex district. Image: Cortex
f all of the neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis, few are changing faster than the area of midtown between the Washington University Medical Center and Saint Louis University. Previously pockmarked by post-industrial ruins, it is rapidly becoming a new hub for the science and technology industries in St. Louis. Its transformation is largely thanks to the efforts of Cortex, a development agency formed by a consortium of institutions including Washington University, Saint Louis University, UMSL, BJC Healthcare, and the Missouri Botanical Garden that is seeking to breathe new life into the neighborhood and contribute to local economic development. After many years of slow progress, the district has begun to develop rapidly over the past year, and more projects are just over the horizon. Most notably, a former telephone factory has just been converted into a new office building known as @4240, which will be anchored by a startup accelerator called the Cambridge Innovation Center. In a coup for St. Louis, this location will be the accelerator’s first outside of its original home in the Boston metropolitan area and is designed to house up to 100 new startup companies. If all goes as planned, this project will soon be joined by TechShop, a co-operative workshop space where members can access professional-grade tools and equipment for prototyping new devices. This project found a champion in Jim McKelvey, a Washington University alumnus, fixture of the St. Louis technology scene, and cofounder of the mobile payment company Square. McKelvey used a TechShop location in California to develop the prototype of his company’s signature credit card reader. Several more projects are in the pipeline for the more distant future, and a new MetroLink station is planned at Boyle Avenue, which would provide a link from the district to other key destinations in the Central Corridor as well as Lambert Airport. While bringing new incubators, office space, and amenities to midtown is welcome news in itself, Cortex’s true ambitions are much greater: to create a more au-
thentic and desirable urban neighborhood that is active at all times of the day. In order to accomplish this goal, Cortex is pursuing retail and residential projects to complement the new offices and laboratories. Perhaps the most well known project planned for the Cortex district – and the one most immediately relevant to Washington University students – is St. Louis’s first IKEA store, which will surely supply future generations of students with an abundance of affordable particle-board Swedish furniture. This store, to be built just west of the Saint Louis University campus, is likely to spur additional retail development nearby when it opens in 2015. The district has also recently issued a request for proposals from developers to build a new mid-rise residential development immediately north of the prominent grain silos in the area, and additional housing projects are expected in the future. While the sudden emergence of all of these projects has been encouraging, there are signs that Cortex’s vision of a walkable, truly mixed-use community may not be fully realized. The new IKEA store is a traditional auto-oriented big box that one might expect to find in Brentwood and will do nothing to make the area friendlier for pedestrians. Similarly, a new BJC office building constructed adjacent to the future MetroLink station is surrounded by a parking lot and green space. If Cortex continues to develop as it has so far, it may fall short of its goal to create an urban neighborhood and instead create what amounts to a glorified office park. Cortex’s redevelopment efforts are to be commended and are clearly bearing fruit. It seems likely that Cortex will meet its goal in bringing new economic vitality to midtown St. Louis. It remains to be seen if its projects will add up to something more than the sum of their parts. Nicolas is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Religion & Politics anonline online journal of the JohnJohn C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics is isan journal project project of the C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Journal interns support Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Journal interns support the production Religion & & Politics (www.religionandpolitics.org) by providing the production of ofReligion Politics (www.religionandpolitics.org) by providing essential organizational and editorial assistance to the editor and managing essential organizational and editorial assistance to the editor and managing editor. This is an excellent opportunity those interested in online publishing, This editor. is an excellent opportunity for forthose interested in online publishing, journalism, religion, and/or politics. Job responsibilities include fact-‐checking journalism, religion, and/or politics. Job responsibilities include fact-‐checking articles, uploading photosand and text thethe website, research and administrative articles, uploading photos text toto website, research and administrative assistance, writing content, and other duties as assigned. Internships for Wash assistance, writing content, and other duties as assigned. Internships for U Wash U students can be for credit or compensation. Submissions are accepted throughout students can be for credit or compensation. Submissions are accepted throughout the year but positions are limited. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and the year but positions are limited. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and two writing samples (can be published or from coursework) to Tiffany Stanley, R&P two writing samples (can be published or from coursework) to Tiffany Stanley, R&P managing editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. managing editor, at email@example.com.
Talking Points “While our Constitution does not guarantee minority groups victory in the political process, it does guarantee them meaningful and equal access to that process. It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently, forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goal—here, educational diversity that cannot reasonably be accomplished through raceneutral measures.” –Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s ban on affirmative action.
Time a 15-year-old boy spent stowed away in a plane’s wheel well on a flight from CA to HI.
The number of Americans hospitalized each year due to prescription drug overdoses.
The combined number of uniformed policemen, undercover officers, and members of bomb squads or tactical units at the 2014 Boston Marathon.
The gap in earnings between 23 – 25-yearolds who hold a bachelor’s degree and those with only a high school diploma.
90% of Sryia’s chemical arms have been removed from the country’s arsenal, according to the OPCW.
113 The number of people confirmed dead (as of Aprill 22) from the capsize of a South Korean ferry on April 16.
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