Page 1

The Yale Herald Volume LV, Number 6 New Haven, Conn. Friday, March 1, 2013


From the staff

The Yale Herald Volume LV, Number 6

If you’re reading this today—by which I mean the day that this issue of the Herald comes out—then I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate you. “Why?” you might ask, while carefully reading every word of this issue. Because it’s March, silly! Personally, I could not be happier that it is now March, and specifically, that it is no longer February. This past month, as you’ll read in this week’s Credit/D/Fail section, was in every, sense of the word, an abomination: a great, harrowing, gaping void of a month, governed by the laws of evil, cursed since time immemorial, full of stinky shit. Valentine’s Day was a bust (though the Herald special issue was pretty neat), snow literally pulverized New Haven, and to be honest I don’t really remember my birthday and it’s not because I went out. Thankfully, the raging gods of death have retreated to their crimson caves. (Get it? Because Harvard sucks?) Now it is March, and here at the Herald, we’re all

New Haven, Conn. Friday, Mar. 1, 2013

EDITORIALSTAFF: Editor-in-chief: Emma Schindler Managing Editors: Colin Groundwater, Eli Mandel, Maude Tisch Executive Editor: Emily Rappaport Assistant Executive Editor: Olivia Rosenthal Online Editors: Marcus Moretti, John Stillman Assistant Online Editor: Micah Rodman Senior Editors: Sam Bendinelli, Ariel Doctoroff, Carlos Gomez, Lucas Iberico Lozada, Nicolás Medina Mora, Clare Sestanovich Culture Editor: Micah Rodman Features Editors: Margaret Neil, Katy Osborn, Olivia Rosenthal Opinion Editor: Andrew Wagner Reviews Editor: Elliah Heifetz Voices Editor: Sophie Grais Design Editors: Julia Kittle-Kamp, Lian Fumerton-Liu, Christine Mi, Zachary Schiller Assistant Design Editor: Madeline Butler Photo Editor: Rebecca Wolenski

about it. Features editor extraordinaire Olivia Rosenthal, SM ’15, makes this issue sparkle with the sheen of a brand new piece of technology (and the promise of a brand new month) in her cover story on Yale’s initiative to make an industry out of biotechnology. In the Opinion section, Leland Whitehouse, SM ’14, reminds us why it’s important to hang out—apt, after the cabin fever of the past month. In Culture, Devon Geyelin, TC ’15, tells us what going on with Sex Week(end)—and let’s be honest, what better cure to the awful of February than lots of sex in March? (That’s not really what Sex Week is about, I’m guessing, but it’s not necessarily untrue.) Of course, February wasn’t 100% dreary. As William Theiss, BK ’16, will tell you, the TEDxYale conference was super cool. And while you’re reading Features, check out what Ariel Katz, MC ’15, has to tell us about Yale’s new summer program for first generation college students. But otherwise it sucked. Anyway. I’ll stop complaining. Have a great March—and, given how fucking awful February was, may the odds be ever in your favor.

All the best, Elliah Heifetz Reviews editor

BUSINESS STAFF: Publishers: William Coggins, Evan Walker-Wells Director of Advertising: Shreya Ghei Director of Finance: Stephanie Kan Director of Development: Joe Giammittorio ONLINE STAFF: Webmaster: Navy Encinias Bullblog Editor-in-chief: John Stillman Bullblog Associate Editors: David Gore, Alisha Jarwala, Grace Lindsey, Cindy Ok, Micah Rodman, Jack Schlossberg, Maude Tisch The Yale Herald is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, incorporated student publication registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office. If you wish to subscribe to the Herald, please send a check payable to The Yale Herald to the address below. Receive the Herald for one semester for 40 dollars, or for the 2012-2013 academic year for 65 dollars. Please address correspondence to The Yale Herald P.O. Box 201653 Yale Station New Haven, CT 06520-1653 Email: Emma.Schindler@yale.edu Web: www.yaleherald.com The Yale Herald is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Yale Herald, Inc. or Yale University. Copyright 2011, The Yale Herald, Inc. Have a nice day. Cover by Christine Mi YH Staff

2

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)


IN THIS ISSUE

COVER 12 Olivia

Rosenthal, SM ‘15, explores New Haven’s fledgling biotech industry and Yale’s role in promoting this new vision of New Haven’s economy, and questions the implications of this town-gown relationship.

VOICES 6

Leyla Levi, DC ‘16, explores the ins and outs of travel and travel writing with Rolf Potts— including his kidnapping in Istanbul.

7

Hannah Sassoon, CC ‘15, recalls the days when her father had magic powers, and when it came time for him to give them up.

8

FEATURES 10

William Theiss, BK ‘16, spends a day at TEDx Yale and talks logistics and goals with the conference’s curators.

16

Ariel Katz, MC ‘15, delves into Yale’s new summer bridge program for first-generation college students.

OPINION: Leland Whitehouse, SM ‘14, wants you to hang out, and Erin Vanderhoof, ES ‘13, takes a look at the Violence Against Women Act.

REVIEWS

CULTURE 18

Lucas Iberico Lozada, MC ‘13, questions Yale’s culture of exclusive spaces. Devon Geyelin, TC ’16, profiles the new student-run Sexual Literacy Forum (SeLF).

20

Wesley Yiin, PC ’16, on The Laramie Project. Also: Reading List, Atoms for Peace, Doldrums, and the Herald’s new Staff List.

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

3


THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY The Herald’s week in review: what rocked, what sucked, and who took the lead in IM bowling.

CREDIT/D/FAIL Cr:

Quvenzhané Wallis’ dog purse at the Oscars I find the Oscars rather dull. Maybe its because I have always seen only one of the movies nominated. Regardless, I always claim that it’s the best movie nominated. I don’t inform people that I’m not qualified to make that decision. I don’t need to, I’m American, our decision-making abilities aren’t hampered by trivial things like adequate information and facts. But this year the Oscars were special. They weren’t special because I had seen more than one film. I hadn’t. Or because I enjoyed the Boob Song. I didn’t. They were special because of Quvenzhané Wallis’ dog purse. I have always wanted a dog purse. I asked for one when I was seven. Instead of a dog purse I was given a bunny backpack. Mainly because, as Santa condescendingly informed me in a letter written in my aunt’s handwriting, he thought the bunny backpack suited better a girl who referred to herself in the third-person as Isabunny. I wanted one when I was 18. Everyone thought I was being ironic. I pretended I was, but secretly I wanted that damn dog purse. My love of that dog purse was revived last Sunday and lucky for me Amazon stocks them.

D:

The snow melting I thought I would be ecstatic, or, as I am not much for strong emotions, at least pleased, when the snow finally melted. But, lo and behold, I’m a little sad, not overwhelmingly sad, just moderately so. I’m not sad because I liked the snow. I’m sad because I liked talking about how much I didn’t like the snow. “Isabella, how are you doing?” “Terrible, there’s snow. Have I told you how much I don’t like the snow?” “Yes, you have.” “Well let me tell you about it some more.” “I really must go.” And talking about how much you don’t like snow that’s already melted seems a little far removed like gossiping about your second cousin’s boyfriend’s brother who showers in a wet-suit. But on the plus side, since I’m what you might call a cynoptimist— a cynical optimist, yes, I just made that up—now that the snow has melted I am free to wear all my hole-infested shoes. Or at least the ones my mother hasn’t tossed out.

4

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

F:

February There are a lot of truly terrible months in the calendar. I would say out of the 12, about four are good, three are passable, and five are utterly useless. But that’s just a rough estimate. There’s January, which has the great misfortune to come after December. January’s like December’s annoying sister. Whenever people see January they just tell her how epic December was. There’s also September, which has the great misfortune to be the start of school year. September’s like a rodeothemed high school party where you drink Gatorade spiked with Snapple. But February’s the absolute worst. February looks like Rush Limbaugh, acts like Kim Kardashian, and is about as interesting as a geometry class in German. February is like crying in a shower that has run out of hot water. February is like eating cereal with chopsticks. February is like your aunt accidently killing your bunny and then buying you a new one and you not noticing even though they looked completely different. “But Isabella, February has Valentine’s Day.” No, Valentine’s Day cannot redeem February. That would be like saying Kim-Jong-il had good taste in movies and therefore was a stand-up guy —Isabella Huffington YH Staff —graphics by Zachary Schiller YH Staff


BY THE

BOOM/BUST

NUMBERS

TYNG CUP STANDINGS

OUTGOING: The longest month of the year

1. Jonathan Edwards 2. Trumbull 3. Pierson 4. Saybrook 5. Ezra Stiles 6. Timothy Dwight 7. Davenport 8. Branford 9. Morse 10. Silliman 11. Berkeley 12. Calhoun

No matter what they try to tell you, February is not the shortest month. It’s not even a leap year, but the calendar lies. With 20 scheduled class days, February is longer than any other month in the academic year. That means it’s got by far the highest atio of class days to weekend days. And there are no holidays. Seasonal affectedness disorder is real, but at least it’s coming to an end now. —Joseph Tisch

INDEX

INCOMING: The shortest month of the year This year, March has only 11 days of classes, and—in all likelihood—at least one of them is complete by the time you’re reading this. So go ahead and count down the rest on your hands, ‘cause there are only as many days left as you have fingers. Better yet, we’ve got two long weeks of spring break right in the middle. I think I can handle this one. See you in April… It’ll be here quick!

# 597.5 533 504.5 487.5 459.5 456 418 405.5 399 381.5 348.5 101.5

256 Colleges with current movements for fossil fuel divestment.

TOP FIVE

Summer internships we might not mind

$19.3 billion Total size of the Yale endowment, second largest of any American university after Harvard.

6.7%

5 4 3 2 1

Fresh Yoga

Segment of the endowment the divestment movements are targeting, since fossil fuel associated companies are likely in Yale’s portfolio.

Lisa Frank

946

Saint A.’s

Signatures submitted online for the Fossil Free Yale petition as of Feb. 22 (not including signatures collected in person or on paper).

Elm Campus

40,000

Out of Order Mag

Estimated attendees of the Forward on Climate rally on Feb. 17 on the National Mall, including a group of Yalies. —YH Staff

Sources: 1) gofossilfree.org 2) Yale Investments Office 3) fossilfreeyale.org 4) Max Weinrich, BR ‘16, Fossil Free Yale 5) huffingtonpost.com — Joseph Tisch The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

5


SITTING DOWN WITH ROLF POTTS by Leyla Levi Courtesy of Rolf Potts Rolf Potts is a travel writer, journalist, and non-fiction writer. He is the author numerous magazine and website articles, as well as two books: Vagabonding, an “uncommon guide to long-term world travel” that has earned him a reputation as a guru to ambitious adventurers; and Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, a collection of essays. He is currently a lecturer in English at Yale, where he teaches a section of “Reading and Writing the Modern Essay.” The Herald sat down with him to talk about becoming a writer, travelling, and getting jumped by Moroccan criminals in Turkey. YH: How did you get into travel writing? RP: Through an accident of writing a lot and traveling a lot, eventually the two passions came together. I grew up in an isolated part of the U.S., in Kansas, and I didn’t know anybody who travelled that much internationally. So in college I thought, “As soon as I’m done I’m going to travel around the United States and get travel out of my system, I’m going to scratch my itch so that I won’t have to worry about not having travelled.” I was under the common American conception that you’re a virtuous person who works really hard, and when you’re old, then you can travel. When I traveled I realized that it was a lot cheaper, safer and easier than I thought, and I haven’t really stopped traveling since. I actually tried to write a book about that first journey. YH: What about this idea of ‘vagabonding’? When did that start to materialize? RP: In retrospect, it was happening since I was 17 and wanting to do something more than just work my whole life, but it didn’t crystalize as a word until I started writing for Salon. com in 1999—it was the name of my column. I got a lot of emails asking how I could afford to do this and I decided to answer by making a list of philosophical reasons for travel. That 11-point list eventually became the 11 chapters of this book. Instead of saying, this is how you pack a backpack, I said, time is what you really own. Basically, if you want to travel you should, and you shouldn’t wait because time is more important than money and things and it doesn’t take that much money to actualize your time. YH: How did your first book, Vagabonding, come about? RP: An editor at Random House asked me if the eleven point list could become a book and I thought, I guess so.

6

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

You can’t really say no to that. It’s funny how the most rewarding writing experiences can be the most unexpected ones. But my heart was, and still is, in the more essayistic kind of travel writing. About four years later, an editor approached me about collecting those essays [in Marco Polo Didn’t Go There]. Taking the inspiration from David Foster Wallace but also DVD commentary tracks, in each chapter I told about how I wrote the story. I gave the story as it appeared originally, and in the endnotes, I talked about the complications that go into the story. It’s almost like a counter-intuitive travel writing textbook that says, “Here’s the story that appeared in the magazine, but here’s what really happened, and this is why I couldn’t tell everything that happened.

it. Sometimes you can find a perfectly good story through planning. I was saying that there are different kinds of travel writing. One of them is more of a consumer travel writing, which is about helping people have better vacations. That lends itself better to a lot of preparation and knowing the story going in. You are having an experience on behalf of the reader, and it’s as much a consumer experience as it is a life experience. If you have an epiphany in India, National Geographic Traveler doesn’t really care unless it can also resonate for the reader. It’s easy to disparage consumer travel writing, but it’s important and I have done it. But I think it’s more interesting to have an epiphany on behalf of yourself in a way that’s specific enough to resonate with the reader.

YH: Tell me about your Istanbul incident. RP: It involves me being in Istanbul and having been on the road for nine months at this point. I was in the Sultanahmet area and I was befriended by these Moroccan guys. I had been traveling for a long time, I didn’t really suspect them, and they ended up drugging and robbing me. I ended up writing this story in the manner of a who-done-it mystery because looking back, I realized that these guys were maybe the fifth-sketchiest guys I had met. And that’s a reason why I didn’t go on a tangent about these Christians who later approached me, yet those Christians were there, and it was this funny story where they didn’t give me any help, they didn’t lend me any money, they just randomly tried to save my soul. That’s the kind of thing I put in the endnotes to remind the reader that life is like that.

YH: You actually live in Kansas when you’re not traveling, but what is your take on the idea of home? Can you pinpoint a place as home or do you prefer to leave it ambiguous? RP: I left it ambiguous for a long time. Since I renovated my home in Kansas, where my family lives, that is my querencia place, that’s the place where my heart is. I wouldn’t have expected that but it’s turned out to be a good arrangement. And I know a lot of travel writers wrestle with this because home is a malleable idea. Regardless of whether you travel to the other side of the world or if you just move next door to your family, home is always redefined someway. One thing that I learned in my travels is how important family is to everybody. It never occurs to some people to live ten thousand miles away from their mother or whatever. I’m still sharpening my idea of home but it really came into focus when, in my mid-30s, I made that decision.

YH: When you’re planning a trip, how much research do you do before you hit the road? RP: I would say I do about 30 percent frontload for my travel. I do enough research to look for possibilities. There’s such a thing as too much information. So I read enough to give myself ideas but not so much that I give myself answers necessarily. And these days it’s different from when I started writing because with social media you can not only research the history of a place but you can have ten friends waiting for you in a place. You send out a Tweet or a Facebook post and somebody’s friend will say, “Oh yeah, I have a cousin in Budapest” and pretty soon that is dictating your trip, whereas in the past, serendipity used to dictate

YH: What is your advice to students who go abroad? RP: One is, don’t come back. Or don’t come back just because you think you’re supposed to. If something snags on your heart about a foreign place, then stay another year there—what happens there is important. Also, go slow and allow yourself to immerse yourself. You won’t even know, going in, what the benefits will be yet. Some of the most professionally satisfied people I know are people who were committed to overseas experiences when they were young because they have so many more tools, and they have lived outside the set of assumptions that they were raised with for long enough that they are more nimble global citizens. —This interview was condensed by the author


HOLDING UP THE RAIN by Hannah Sassoon

’Tis time I should inform thee farther. Lend thy hand, And pluck my magic garment from me. – Prospero, The Tempest, I.ii

n first grade, I wrote my first line of iambic pentameter. I like my dad to take me to the pool. It was a Sunday ritual to go to the Eastern Athletic Club for open swim. We practiced frog kicks. We played catch. We forced our kickboards underwater and then let them pop up like bread from a toaster. One Sunday during the long phase in which I’d do anything my father suggested, I snuck up to an old man sleeping in a vinyl chair beside the pool and tickled his feet. He jumped up, swim trunks clinging to his skinny thighs. “What are you, crazy or something?!” In terror, I took off across the wet tiles, slipped, and landed flat on my belly. That was the day I learned the word curmudgeon. True, it was a bad idea, but how could I have said no? Dad said it’d be funny. Dad knew everything. Not only that—by the time I was born, he’d survived the Titanic: Leonardo DiCaprio was actually playing him in the 1997 film version. He’d traveled across Egypt in the company of a gnome: Tomtenkhamun, unrelated to Tutankhamun. And he’d discovered a village of dwarves in Brooklyn: he brought home a bunch of miniature bananas to prove it. When I saw the same bananas on sale at the Korean market down the street, my first thought wasn’t, “Aha! You didn’t get those from dwarves at all—you got them at Peas ’n’ Pickles!” but rather, “The dwarves must make deliveries here. Do they drive trucks or bring the bananas by bicycle?” The same year I composed that line of iambic pentameter, we saw a Shakespeare play—my first. It was The Tempest. My father wrote a synopsis on a few pages of notebook paper. Under each scene, he transcribed the most famous lines so I could follow along. We sat in a pub before the show, and he told me the whole

I

story, reading aloud his favorite passages. I couldn’t have explained it at the time, but something about the play—about Prospero—made sense. During the performance, I held the notes in my lap and noted how frequently the actors spat while speaking—little sprays in the spotlight. If Prospero could create a tempest, my father could stop one. Stormy days, driving on the FDR, he’d summon all his power. And, for a few tremendous seconds, he’d hold up the rain. It would go quiet inside the car, a bit dark—and then he’d release the spell and the rain would start again, pelting. “Again! Again!” I pleaded from the backseat. But it required too much strength. We’d have to wait a while. He had other tricks up his sleeve, too. He could pull a coin out of my ear. He could slide his thumb off and on. He could close his eyes, peer through his flared nostrils, and say how many fingers I was holding up. Sometimes we’d just stare at each other, and then, quietly, I’d say, I see me in your eyes. A perennial favorite was hide and seek. When my friends came over, we’d spend what seemed like hours looking for him: behind the shower curtain, in closets, under the table, in the cat litter box. We give up! we’d call at last. Come out! And he’d appear. Where were you? our many voices begged, Tell us! Finally, he did: “Alright, alright—I was hiding on the ceiling.” To the skeptical among us he said, “You didn’t look there, did you?” I was never skeptical. I took what he said as an article of faith. Part of this staunch believing was that I had yet to learn otherwise. The other part was rooted in a conversation he and I had early on—kindergarten or so. At the time, my best friend, Ella, was starting to tell lies. I thought highly of Ella, who knew all the words to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and could

roller skate around her apartment while singing them, so I tried lying a few times. She taught me how to keep a straight face, and that if you crossed your fingers, it didn’t count. What about toes? I wondered. But that felt like cheating. One evening, while making a grudging deal with my father (something trivial: brushing teeth in exchange for a story, perhaps), I crossed my fingers behind my back. Only one hand—two would cancel it out. He’d picked up on the trend. “Show me your hands,” he said. I held up my left, fingers spread, but kept the right still crossed behind my back. He was patient. “Both of them.” My right hand came out of hiding. He saw what he’d been seeking. “In this family,” he said, more solemn than I’d ever seen him, “we don’t lie.” My sense of victory vanished. I’d betrayed him. I’d betrayed a whole long line of ancestors. Did this mean I was no longer in the family? I straightened all my fingers, and I cried. One Sunday morning, not long after we stopped going to the pool, we sat at the table for a special breakfast: toast, OJ, bacon. I eyed the last two greasy strips on the plate, wanting both. “Close your eyes,” my father said. I feared he’d finish the bacon while I wasn’t looking, but I closed them anyway. Then I felt something tickling the side of my head. When I opened my eyes, I saw he’d pulled a piece of bacon out of my ear. Hallelujah, there’s more! But on the plate there was only one piece left. I don’t remember if I cried—a thousand thousand rains—you lied to me ! Or if I laughed: So that’s how you do it! Or maybe I just looked at him. That’s OK, Dad. I forgive you. I forgive you.

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

7


OPINION HANG WITH ME

TALKING VIOLENCE

by Leland Whitehouse YH Staff

by Erin Vanderhoof

Damnit all, Yale, I wanna talk about farts. I want to hear about the time your shorts fell off in the pool and the goodlooking lifeguard laughed at the mole on your butt cheek. I want to smoke a joint in your bedroom on a Tuesday afternoon and fall asleep listening to Bon Iver, grinning and covered in Oreo crumbs. I want to know all your best jokes. I want to skip class and then a meeting and then section because it’s Shark Week and you bought a 30 rack. I want to hang. There are some things we Yale folks do that I’d like to disqualify as hanging. We like to do homework in the same room, looking up from the screens of our laptops every few minutes to fire off a sentence or two. It’s nice to breathe the same air as a couple of friends while you read Wittgenstein, but it ain’t hanging. It’s just sweetening the bitter horse pill that is German philosophy. We like to sit across a table in a dining hall and compare notes on summer internships, midterms, hookups. We call this “catching up.” Important in its own way, but still not hanging. A few nights a week, many of us crank music and pound booze, then go out in search of the night’s best available action. Sometimes there’s dancing, sometimes it’s the same conversations that happen in dining halls except you’re standing up in a crowded room and trying harder not to slur your words. This is called “going out,” and on the right evening it can be terrific. Here again: close but no cigar in the hanging department. Every once in a long while, we sit cross-legged on a futon once our homework’s done and start touching the void. “Am I living up to my potential? Where do I fit in here? What am I missing? Do I have the right friends?” We guzzle tea or wine depending on the night and give answering these questions an earnest shot. This is called “having a talk,” but it’s still different from hanging. Each of those has got its place and purpose. Blowing off steam, untangling an emotional knot, coming up with a plan of action for the summer—we need to go out and have talks and catch up. But the troublesome bit, the pothole that blows out a whole lot of our tires, is that we’ve coached ourselves out of ever doing anything that isn’t goal-oriented. We’re in love with the Means to an End and Time Well Spent. We’ve got friendships that are slaves to the clock: 45 minutes for dinner with Emily, 35 minutes for coffee with Jim, got to make sure we don’t forget to talk about his ex.

8

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

The skills and neuroses that got us in the door here—time management, impatience, efficiency—don’t always jive when it comes to human connection or personal sanity. Be productive with your errands, when you’re working on an essay, when you’re trying to milk a couple of extra dollars out of the Yale Corporation’s ample teat. Then forget about productivity for a little while. First off, it’s wasted energy. We’ve got M.C. Escher to-do lists at this place— we’re never getting to the bottom of those sumbitches. But we don’t have to. We’re all fighting a losing battle in a war we’ve already won. Because you will be fine. You’ll graduate from one of the best colleges on the planet with a sharp brain full of good ideas and a phone full of the names of fantastically interesting people and Honey, now, just listen… you’re gonna be FINE! Second, it’s destructive. If we can’t cool it on the Creed of Productivity and Potential, we’re going to wind up with minds and souls that look like downtown Shanghai—all cranes and smog. And then the bottom’s gonna drop out and it’ll look like Camden, New Jersey—burned out and lonesome. Ditch the productivity. Here’s what we’ve got to do: we’ve got to talk about farts. We’ve got to leave some of our goddamn emails unanswered for a while. We’ve got to get the asses of our friends onto the couches of our homes, and we’ve got to breathe deep and we’ve got to drink deep and we’ve got to spend long hours getting nothing but laughing done. No getting smarter, no getting further ahead. No summer plans allowed. On a Saturday afternoon or a Wednesday evening or any time at all. Just smiling at people we dig and letting the music play, because that’s good stuff. —graphic by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff

Intimate partner violence straddles the personal and political in a way that proves those two spheres cannot be separated cleanly. However, being a survivor of domestic violence isn’t necessarily a politically galvanizing experience. Indeed, for me, witnessing domestic abuse clouded the political aspect of the issue. I’m now a little more afraid of the world than a lot of my friends, both of the harm that we can inflict on people we love the most, and of being alone in it. Leaving an abusive situation is important, but the feeling that the world is scary isn’t something that necessarily goes away when you’re out of the situation. Political activism is so necessary precisely because it pulls us all out of the specific, individual understanding that we have, and helps us focus instead on the gendered and socially constituted dynamics of abuse and the tools we need to stop tacitly condoning the practice. For that reason, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has always occupied a special place in my feminist consciousness. Originally passed in 1994 and co-sponsored by then-Senator Joseph Biden, the Act aimed to address violent crime against women— like partner abuse and sexual assault—by reforming certain outdated or stigmatizing laws, and providing funding for enforcement of those reformed laws. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women to administer funding for programs aimed at reducing partner violence, sexual assault and stalking. The law expired in 2011, and advocates have been trying to get a vote on reauthorization ever since. Though this is certainly polemic, I think most good people were relieved to hear that on Thurs., Feb. 28, the House finally voted to reauthorize VAWA. That’s not to say it’s a perfect bill, or even a sufficient solution to intimate partner abuse in the U.S., but its an important and galvanizing start. The version of the bill that passed has expanded protections for LGBT people and expands the ability of tribal jurisdictions to prosecute crimes such as sexual assault and spousal abuse that occur on their grounds, regardless of the race of the defendants—much needed provisions which will help to combat sexual assault. It continues funding for programs that have altered community response to domestic violence in real ways nationwide. That doesn’t mean our job is done, and I’m not an unqualified fan of VAWA. As a person who is deeply troubled by the prison-industrial complex, I’ve learned to be wary of legislative solutions when their mechanisms involve incarceration that

impact disadvantaged people to a grossly disproportionate degree. Some of the bill’s provisions, such as mandatory sentencing minimums, go a long way in further impoverishing a family facing problems with violence, and don’t do anything to break the cycle of abuse. In turn, the Act further strengthens a system that is one key cause of partner abuse and many other forms of violence against women. Though domestic violence happens in families of all socioeconomic statuses and demographic make-ups, solutions that rely on increased prosecutions, at the expense of community solutions, tend to further penalize already struggling families. This is due to the fact that low-income communities and communities of color face significantly more police surveillance, and thus, in these communities, instances of violence are more likely to end with criminalization rather than community support. All the while, structures that allow the abuse of some victims—men, LGBT people, immigrants, or upper-middle class women, for example—are kept in place and go unnoticed. However, despite the imperfect nature of this version of VAWA, and the entire premise of the bill in some ways, it’s still important to recognize that individual instances of domestic violence must be continually ameliorated by social action. The Act further provides important support for programs like shelters, community violence prevention programs, counseling, and transition funding for people trying to leave abusive relationships. While researching for this article, I was looking into the resources available in my home state of New Mexico, and realized just how much the programs and places my family depended on for support during tough times were shaped by VAWA. So now that we’ve passed the bill again, what’s next? Well, first, we need to find some way to ensure that vital social programs, like the ones implemented in the VAWA, receive funding even despite the slashing of federal programs bound to result from the sequester. We’ve got to find methods that don’t require federal funding or even the involvement of the state at all. And finally, we need to make sure our consciousness of partner abuse remains firmly rooted in our own world, understanding that there are people around us who are survivors and may even be in abusive situations now. To me, that’s the most important part of realizing that the personal and the political are inseparable: your politics can and should be able to change your own world for the better.


Bridging the gap Yale announces new summer program for incoming first-generation college students by Ariel Katz YH Staff

lejandro Gutierrez, CC ’13, first began thinking about the experiences of first-generation college students in 2009, when he arrived at Yale for his freshman year. “There’s a culture of silence around the issue of class,” Gutierrez said, looking back. Hung Pham, PC ’15, spent the first two weeks of his freshman year crying every day and fantasizing about transferring. “I felt like an alien,” Pham said. “I literally felt like I was the poorest kid in my freshman class.” That same year, a program was set to be launched that would help first-generation college students transition to Yale life, according to William Whobrey, assistant dean of Yale College and Director of Summer Sessions. But when the recession hit, Yale was among a number of universities that had to put their plans of summer “bridge programs” on hold. In Feb., 2013, with Gutierrez’s senior spring underway, he decided to write an opinion piece for the Yale Daily News to raise awareness about challenges faced by lowincome and first-generation students transitioning to Yale and to point to bridge programs hosted at other universities. “When will Yale follow suit?” he asked. The Yale College Dean’s Office answered Gutierrez’s question speedily and quietly; they released an inconspicuous announcement on Yale’s website. The College is finally launching a five-week summer program that will give 30 incoming the opportunity to take English 114 for credit, live in dorms, and become familiar with Yale’s resources. The program will be modeled after successful Yale summer programs like STARS, a program for a select group of science and math student. For this year, the program will focus in on three key objectives. First, it will allow students to get an academic writing credit under their belts. “Concentrating for this year on writing skills and providing lots of help through the writing center will provide

A

10

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

students with certain academic skills that they can take with them into their freshman fall,” Whobrey said. The program will also seek to lower the anxiety level of coming to Yale. As Dean Whobrey explains, “This means getting students familiar with the campus—but more importantly, familiar with all the resources that are available, and how to engage with those resources.” Students will meet with writing tutors, deans, UCS representatives, and other advisors to learn how different advising systems on campus work. The third and final component of this program falls into what Dean Whobrey calls “skills areas.” This education can be particularly helpful with students whose high school educations may not have incorporated the kind of training necessary

slightly different: At Stanford and University of Chicago, students meet throughout the year as well as during the summer; Princeton has operated a summer-only bridge program for 15 years. Other schools have opted for slightly different models of support. Kevin Jennings, a Harvard alumn who served as the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2011, recently founded a Shared Interest Group (SIG) at Harvard. The group pairs first-generation students with alumni mentors in the hopes that these mentors can provide guidance about college that students might have lacked at home or in their high schools. According to Jennings, who was a first-generation college student himself, the program is mentee-driven: mentors talk to students about everything

lenges],” he claimed, “stem from not having somebody to show you the ropes.” While mentoring programs can be immensely valuable to students, Jennings points out that they are no substitute for what he calls “an intensive summer program.” That being said, he expressed hope that Yale alums might form something similar to Harvard’s SIG. A full-scale mentoring program of this sort may not be in the cards for Yale, according to Whobrey. While he recognizes that there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of programs, he also notes a delicate balance between guiding students who will be selected for the program—those who “have not had all the advantages of preparation for coming to Yale”—and allowing those students to be independent and to carve out their own place at the university.

“It’s a big first step, but once the summer program is over, students are going to get to campus and still face problems.” —Alejandro Gutierrez, CC ‘13 to thrive in Yale’s atmosphere of academic independence. YALE’S NEW SUMMER BRIDGE ARRIVES relatively late in the game. In the past few years, similar programs have sprung up at Yale’s peer institutions in attempts to ease the transition and foster community among students who might otherwise find their situations to be isolating. After also losing funding in 2009, Stanford implemented a summer bridge program in 2012. Princeton and University of Chicago also have summer programs. Dean Whobrey notes that each is

from how to navigate Harvard academically to what a life after college might look like. A big goal of the group, he says, is to build relationships in which students are unafraid to ask what they might consider “stupid or embarrassing questions.” Jennings considers embarrassment and isolation from peers to be some of the biggest challenges that first-generation students face. When Jennings started the program this year, he was struck by how similar the issues faced by first generation students were to those he had faced 30 years earlier as an undergraduate. “Many of [these chal-

“The goal certainly is to integrate students into the Yale experience as fully as possible,” Whobrey said. “This is the launching pad for [students] to go out there and get all of Yale for [themselves], to make new friends, to feel comfortable here, [and] have a sense of how things work,” he said. In his view, the program should enable students to deal with their classes and still maintain a social life without creating a social life that revolves exclusively around this group. “We don’t want to create another splinter group,” he said.


Luis Juárez is the current president of the First Generation Project at MIT, a student-run group that pairs freshmen with upperclassmen mentors. Juárez acknowledged the merits of a summer program, but noted that it is during the academic year that students “actually start experiencing the difficulties of life.” While Gutierrez said he was excited about the new program, he shared similar concerns. He believes that Yale’s recently announced program will act not just as the “launching pad” for first-generation students coming to Yale, but as the beginning of a shift in the administration’s entire approach to low-income and first-generation students. He hopes the new program will spur student interest in issues faced by a high percentage of the Yale population, and encourage a culture of openness around issues of socioeconomic class. “[The program] is one small part of a multifaceted approach to making Yale a positive experience for low-income students,” Gutierrez said. “Definitely the summer program is not the be-all-end-all of this problem, I think it’s a big first step, but once the summer program is over, students are going get to campus and still face problems.” Gutierrez points out that the program will only serve 30 students: there will be students who cannot come to the summer program for a variety of reasons. “For that group of students, they need something on campus. Right now, we have nothing.” Guti-

errez, who believes it should be Yale’s responsibility to create such programming, offers a number of suggestions for additional resources. “I personally believe there should be a peer liaison program for low income students...There should be a center, there should be a dean: Yale has to create the community, here.” THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SUMMER bridge program rides on the heels of a string of recent on-campus articles and opinion pieces that have sought to bring to light issues faced by low-income and first generation Yalies. With the recognition that the academic transition to Yale may be more difficult, there comes the recognition of another challenge: the persistence of money-dependent tropes and traditions. Patricia Melton, PC ’82, came to Yale as a first-generation undergraduate and currently directs New Haven Promise, a program that funds and supports New Haven high school students in higher education. “We’ve had quite a bit of discussion about income in the public sphere, in our political arena,” she said. “There are a lot of signals that are sent in society around income.” At Yale, these tropes manifest themselves in the simplest of ways. For example, Pham said, when friends go out to dinner, they assume everyone in the group is comfortable spending time and money at a restaurant. “Adjusting to Yale isn’t just about academic preparedness,” Yvette Borja, SY ’14,

a first-generation college student and Peer Liaison at La Casa, said. “There’s also a culture that Yale has that’s pretty centered around money, whether students want to admit that or not.” While Borja sees the bridge program as a necessary, positive step, and emphasizes the importance of frank conversation about students’ differing backgrounds, she hopes the rhetoric of the new program will be crafted to make sure the experiences of first-generation students aren’t lumped together and that the budding conversations don’t introduce a culture of pity. Borja came to Yale from a private all-girls’ Catholic school. “[It was] not the archetypal narrative of the first generation student from a failing public school,” she said. Despite being academically prepared, Borja still felt self-doubt as a result of conversations around affirmative action and found herself very aware of her status as a firstgeneration student. Borja emphasizes that first-generation students who don’t associate with a cultural house, the Chaplain’s office, or the LGBTQ center don’t have access to Peer Liaisons, and thus sometimes fall through the cracks and lack sufficient advising. “I think there’s a population being left out.” Borja said. Still, Borja is careful to point out the pitfalls of such a statement. “It’s really important that when we talk about these things, it’s not like ‘Aw, these poor first generation students, we have to pity them,’” she said. “There are a lot of students who are re-

ally proud of where they came from. That shouldn’t be masked by this conversation about them also needing extra support.” Jennings also stressed that there is not one type of first-generation student: a firstgeneration student can be anyone from a prep school graduate to an international student whose parents were educated abroad to a low-income student from a large public high school. For him, the important thing is that a program stays tailored to the needs of students and open to suggestions. Indeed, many aspects of Yale’s program remain undecided, and Whobrey says the program will be assessed over the course of the three-year pilot period using feedback from graduates of the program and from the student body in general. Already, the conversation is opening up: Gutierrez plans to hold an informal forum this Sunday with the goal of gathering students interested in advocating for more resources on campus. According to Melton, this program may be a valuable step toward achieving broader national goals for education by raising retention rates. “This isn’t just an issue around low income students,” Melton said. “[But] some of the areas where we can improve [as an educational system] are going to be a little bit more glaring perhaps in these vulnerable populations, [and from this] we can learn a lot. This pilot program around first-generation students—see it as a sort of canary in the mine.” —graphics by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

11


12

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)


Bio haven Olivia Rosenthal, SM ‘15, examines the burgeoning biotech hub in New Haven and Yale’s role in promoting a new vision for the New Haven economy

rom the outside, 300 George Street looks like just another derelict New Haven office building. But inside, the brightly lit corridors buzz with energy. 28 employees at Kolltan Pharmaceuticals are busy at work on developing the next generation of cancer drugs. Down the hall, test tubes of hepatitis C treatments in Achillion Pharmaceutical’s lab are vials of possible miracles. Over at the nearby headquarters of Rib-X, antibiotic research may save patients from the highly resistant infections that are rampant in today’s hospitals. The Yale-supported redevelopment of 300 George St. into a biotechnology universe was only completed in 2007. The building’s 500,000 square feet are now 100 percent occupied. The sea of lab coats swarming into the lobby makes it hard to imagine that this nine-story building built in 1960 was once crammed with Southern New England Telephone (SNET) Company workers steadfastly eking out a living. But by the 1990s, AT&T had bought out SNET, the oldest telephone company in the world, and scattered its employees. 300 George St. was now vacant. What had represented the Elm City’s spirit of innovation and modernity (Alexander Graham Bell’s first demonstration of the telephone was in New Haven) had become an eyesore of neglect. The homeless, the jobless, and the drug-addled wandered and squatted on its abandoned lot. Two miles away from 300 George St., light reflects from the expensive windows of Karos Pharmaceutical laboratory onto the chipped

F

brick walls and broken windows that housed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, once the largest manufacturing employer in New Haven. Karos Pharmaceutical is part of the Science Park complex, one of Yale’s keystone projects of recent years. Both it and 300 George stand as ghosts of failed industries’ past and apparitions of a possible successful future. Extensive research endeavors at 333 Cedar St., where the Yale School of Medicine is

“CAN THE GENOME SAVE NEW HAVEN?” a U.S. News and Report headline asked on Apr. 8, 2001. “That’s where the future is,” remarks Dr. Joseph Schlessinger, chairman of the department of pharmacology at the Yale School of Medicine and co-founder of Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, as he looks out his corner office window onto 300 George St. He is talking about genomics, the backbone of all biotech research, but he might as well be referring to the grim New Haven city block where his re-

American cities, proclaims, “Everybody and their brother is going after [the biotech] industry.” New Haven is joining the crowd. When businesses have fled from the Elm City and unemployment rates have been abysmal, the word “biotech” has held mythical promise. Biotech is a catchall term for the manipulation of biological processes to create useful products. Though it sounds like something from a science-fiction novel, biotech is everywhere in our daily lives. The saccharifi-

“We’re a small market right now. But it’s a competitive, distinct, authentic, growing small market. It’s not going to shrink. It’s going to grow. It’s at the center of the University’s presence in the regional economy .” —Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. housed, are hardly surprising. But over the last 20 years, that research has permeated far beyond its sealed doors and into the private sector of New Haven. Its lab discoveries lay the foundations for new companies like the ones revitalizing these once vacant buildings. A manufacturing-based economy has become knowledge-based, and the new raw material is research. The struggling city was looking for a way to stimulate a broken economy and create jobs. Yale rescued New Haven by wrapping those hopes into one package: “biotech.”

search has evolved into a business. “Look at Silicon Valley,” he adds. “There was nothing there, too.” “Kendall Square [in Cambridge, Mass.] 30 years ago was pretty seedy, with abandoned factories. San Francisco, too. We had the same here,” explains Jon Soderstrom, the managing director of the Office of Cooperative Research at Yale, an office charged with the responsibility of commercializing inventions from Yale’s scientific research. Aaron Renn, a blogger more commonly known as the Urbanophile and one of the forefront analysts of

cation of starch and the fermentation of the resulting sugar is brought to you by biotech. Some might call it magic. To the common man, it’s beer. That same magic is also responsible for penicillin and lifesaving cancer therapies, and now it’s charged with the responsibility of reinventing a broken manufacturing economy. In 2001, when developers backed out of the proposed Long Wharf Mall, a project that many hoped would attract money and people back into New Haven, Mayor John Destefano, Jr. is said to have shrugged his shoulders and

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

13


remarked that biotech would “easily make up for any loss.” More than a decade later, DeStefano remains optimistic. “We’re a small market right now,” DeStefano said about the biotech industry in an interview with the Herald. “But it’s a competitive, distinct, authentic, growing small market. It’s not going to shrink. It’s going to grow. It’s at the center of the University’s presence in the regional economy.” For University President Richard Levin, GRD ‘74, the hopes that biotech brings are real, but the difficulties along the way are hard to shrug off. “There is a long road ahead,” he said. “We’re not San Francisco. We’re not Boston. But we are becoming a notable biotech center. There have been several billion dollars worth of capitalization by companies started by Yale.”

ander. “We don’t wake up thinking we can manufacture airplanes or space ships.” But change did not come easily. The 1980 Bayh-Dole law allowed for universities to claim ownership of any federally funded research made in their labs, instead of leaving ownership to the U.S. government. Scientists were encouraged to become entrepreneurs. Universities were encouraged to become pioneers of industry. Two years later, Yale founded its Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) to identify marketable ideas at the University and help develop them into companies. But whereas by 1993, MIT, relying on the same set of site and legal catalysts, had spun out 30 biotech companies, Yale had spun out three, only one of which elected to stay in New Haven. It seemed like the pieces were all there. But one was still missing.

CREATING A BIOTECH HUB, A DISTRICT where scientific ideas flow freely and where money seamlessly flies from pocket of investor to lab of inventor, looks as simple on paper as the pieces for an easy puzzle: a city with intellectual capital, a good location near other urban centers, an abundance of large industrial space, and a pleasant standard of living. It seems like a basic schema, used by Cambridge, Palo Alto, and Baltimore alike to

ENTER LEVIN. A CALIF. NATIVE AND GRADuate of Stanford, he had witnessed Stanford’s transformation into Silicon Valley firsthand. In his eyes, the solution was simple. As reported in a 2000 Herald article, “New Haven fosters biotech and reaps rewards.” Levin reasoned: “It’s not rocket science. It’s just Stanford’s formula except in the biosciences and not electrical engineering and physics.” To Levin, Stanford was to tech as Yale could

vention—a portfolio of drugs for treating HIV—into Achillion Pharmaceuticals. The new vision of Levin’s administration paid off: during this time, the University’s licensing revenues grew 821 percent, from 5,007,485 dollars in 1996 to 46,121,239 dollars in 2000. Issued patents grew over tenfold, from 13 to 143. But for Yale, transforming the Elm City into a city of innovation was still dependent on a change in the University’s unique institutional culture. Yale has historically viewed business ventures as tainting the ivory tower; professors shied away from commercializing discoveries, viewing them as violations of the liberal arts pedagogy. Gardiner was quoted in La Revue d’économie industrielle as saying that when he first came into office, “I was asked many times by junior faculty, ‘If I get involved with new ventures through the OCR, will I still get tenure?’ I told [the Educational Policy Committee of the Yale Corporation] that we have to get Yale faculty to understand it is okay. At MIT, history says that this is okay, but at Yale we need a change of culture.” MIT, argues Soderstrom, had economic development written in its charter. Yale’s unofficial charter was a dedication to the humanities. Leonard Bell, an adjunct assistant professor at Yale Medical School whose research

“Every city in America says we are going to expand our life science sector and our university sector. But in America as a whole we are spending too much money on health care, we have a trillion dollars in student loans, the federal government is broke. We can’t afford it.” —Aaron Renn, urban affairs analyst and blogger transform struggling post-industrial cities into booming valleys of ideas—potentially life-saving ones at that. As the manufacturing industry that once employed 16,000 factory workers in the late 1960s became an industry supplying jobs to only 186 employees by 2006, New Haven found solace in this simple formula. It had the makings of a small biotecnological hub: a strong biological science department, a location centered between Boston and New York, and agreeable suburban neighborhoods for families. And it didn’t have much else. Unlike MIT or Stanford, located in areas with similar advantages, Yale is the largest private employer in its home city. If Yale was not going to become the source of ideas spurring technological growth, what institution would? “What else is there?”, Dr. Schlessinger asks, referring to Yale. Though Schlessinger may be overly definitive in his assessment, for Bruce Alexander, BK ‘65, vice president and director of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, the options were also limited: “We don’t wake up in the morning thinking there are 25 things that can happen in New Haven,” says Alex-

14

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

be to biotech. Commercializing Yale research would attract faculty, bring in revenue from successful business spinoffs, and rebrand Yale as a forerunner in innovation. The promotion of biotech was almost always billed as a way of improving town-gown relations. Instead of allowing research done in the lab to be “picked up by a start-up company in Boston or somewhere else,” Levin reflects, 13 years later. “We wanted to begin to give support as we could to the possibility of locating that activity in New Haven, as a way of strengthening the economy.” Appointed president of the University in 1993, Levin got right to work. He recruited a senior technology executive from a major pharmaceutical company, Greg Gardiner, to head up OCR, tripling its budget along the way. Soderstrom, the current managing director of OCR, joined the staff as the mission of the office shifted from licensing intellectual property out to existing companies creating a start-up culture. YungChi Cheng, the Henry Bronson Professor of Pharmacology, recalls Soderstrom “coming into the labs of professors and [connecting] industry with our inventions.” Yale and Cheng together would work to spin his in-

became the basis of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, notes that throughout 1990s, Yale was still struggling to figure out how to best capitalize on its discoveries. “The challenge was determining how to commercialize intellectual property without commercializing its faculty,” recalls Bell. For Cheng this balance has yet to be fully realized. He says that Yale’s conservative policies disincentivize its professors from pursuing commercial research even today: “For instance, the conflict of interest policy discourages you from continuing to be involved in your discovery once the company based on your research is created,” he said. “That is not a good idea.” As scientists tend to want to see their inventions fully realized, unless Yale liberalizes its policies, he fears that the biotech industry in New Haven could reach a plateau. THE DEFINITION OF A BUDDHIST MANTRA is a repeated word or phrase that allows you to envision yourself where you want to be. New Haven CEOs, doctors, researchers, and chemists are not the most talkative bunch, but for them “critical mass” has become an oft-repeated mantra. The idea behind the mantra is simple: biotech

companies want to set up shop in a city with other companies like their own. “It’s a Catch-22 in a sense,” says Dr. Michael Brennan, the ex-CEO of Gene Logic, a fivebillion-dollar company that started from research in Science Park before moving to an area with a critical mass, Columbia, Maryland. “You don’t want to set up shop in a city without a critical mass,” Brennan said. “But you have to start somewhere.” “We’re almost at a critical mass,” says Ben Boese, GRD ‘07, product manager for 454 Life Sciences and ex-president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, as he glances around at the 30 or so people barely filling up the hallway of Yale’s Anlyan Center for Medical Research & Education on the evening of Tues., Feb. 26. The event was part of the Yale BioHaven Entrepreneurship series, seminars designed to highlight regional biological discoveries that have successfully commercialized. At a recent session, the third in the last month, an hour for networking followed a moderated talk on student healthcare startups. The crowd, clustered around the spring rolls and the unaccompanied bowl of salsa, seemed to know each other—or, more accurately, were awkwardly considering saying hello to each other. The representatives from industry giant Pfizer Pharmaceuticals were dressed conspicuously casually, their messenger bags and tan suede jackets perhaps an intentional attempt to fit in with the prevailing topic of conversation: start-ups. A Yale medical student passed the two gentlemen by the buffet busy bemoaning the lack of empanadas, as she exclaimed to her friend that she hoped to work in a biology start-up this summer. “You get a lot of the same people from event to event,” John Jasper, chief scientific officer of Molecular Isotope Technology, remarked as he handed a description of his latest isotope technology to a woman he recognized from earlier in the month. DeStefano said that the scientific research done at Yale had engendered a cluster: “This has created its own positive dynamic where the whole gets to be more than sum of its parts,” he said. As the medical students mingled with the researchers, CEOs, and pharmaceutical representatives, that sense of community was apparent. The hallway—not empty but nowhere near full— speaks to the state of biotech in New Haven today: not booming, but burgeoning. THE CONSTRUCTION BEGAN JUST DAYS ago. The tools have been laid out, the tarp set aside. In 2015, a glimmering glass building will be erected on 100 College St. Its first tenant: Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a company valued at 18 billion dollars and operating in over 50 countries. But this is not Alexion’s first attempt at setting up shop in New Haven. Starting as a joint partnership between Bell and Yale, Alexion was founded in 1992 as a small start-up in Science Park. Nine years after its inception, the company moved out of Science Park and into Cheshire, Conn. “Largely we weren’t able to get the support in New Haven that we needed,” Bell said. Alexion’s homecoming to the new 250,000 square foot complex reaffirms the strides New Haven has made in the last 10 years to become a hub for biotech. “Our city can play host to


a Forbes 500, multi-national company,” Bell said. “It shows how far the school and our city environment has come. But it’s also an indication of how long it took to get here.” Alexion’s return will bring the number of biotech firms in New Haven to over 40. Yale has helped launch nearly 30 since 2003 alone. For some the building is proof that Levin and the city’s long-term vision has become a reality: companies are choosing New Haven. The city has proved it can host industry, but now industry has to show whether it can lift New Haven into an economic renaissance—for everyone. A 2001 CONNECTICUT CENTER FOR A NEW Economy (CCNE) report, “Incubating Biotech Yale Prospers, New Haven Waits,” stated that 88 percent of Connecticut’s biotech workforce held at least a bachelor’s degree. One third of the employees at Science Park’s Genaissance Pharmaceuticals held PhDs or MDs, according to the same report. “Biotech isn’t like a digital start-up,” says Aaron Renn, “it’s not just a couple of kids in a basement. Ask yourself how many biotech PhDs or postdocs are there going to be in your community.” According to Renn, 32.6 percent of New Haven citizens over the age of 25 have college degrees—there’s no denial that the biotech industry is one that requires at least some degree of higher education. The necessity of connecting the industry hailed as the future with the present labor force is the challenge at hand. “Uneducated people across the country will have more trouble finding a job, besides mowing the lawn or getting rid of snow,” says Schlessinger, “the bar of education is being raised.” Yale officials do not deny that biotech sets a high bar for employment. “In many jobs in biotech companies, the high intensity of a PhD is needed,” remarks Levin, “but when we started on this effort, we went to Gateway College to encourage them to start a two-year degree in biotech preparation.” A push for biotech necessitated a push for education reform. The justification for the simultaneous emergence of these two industries—education and biotech—has its

basis in inspiring New Haven students outside of Yale. For Soderstrom, Gateway’s move into downtown New Haven will allow students to see and aspire to higher paying jobs, by simply being surrounded by possibilities. But for many, aspiration is not enough. Education reform alone will not provide a group of adults and older school-aged children a way of entering a more demanding industry today. “People are hurting now,” Ward 24 Alderwoman Yvette Hamilton said. “People are unemployed now. For the time it takes to build 100 College St., what does a resident do?” For the CCNE, the logic is clear: every development project that receives public subsidies, tax breaks, or other taxpayer-funded benefits, should benefit its community hosts. “There’s no inherent reason why New Haven residents can’t work in Biotech,” states CCNE Executive Director Renae Reese. But the gap between the available jobs and skills of the labor force has to be bridged for residents to see the rewards of new companies setting up shop on their neighborhood streets. In their 2011 report “A Renaissance for All of Us: Building an Inclusive Prosperity in New Haven,” CCNE advocates for a jobs pipeline program, a program to “unify existing workforce programs that recruit educate, train, and employ local residents in the city’s growth industries.” While biotech companies may come into New Haven with official policies mandating that all applicants have BA—or maybe even MA—degrees, Reese adds that employers need to reconsider the job descriptions, seeing which specific skills are required and abandoning arbitrary sorting tools. Gateway College is working to develop programs to this end, to establish partnerships with the future tenants of 100 College Street and then create corresponding training opportunities. “We’re going to be exploring what their employment needs are and tailor non-credit or professional education programs to meet immediate needs,” Michael Buccilli, director of Career Services for Gateway Community College, said. But even if New Haven citizens can become educated in the skills of this fledging industry, the question still remains for many: can biotech become a large-scale engine of employment?

“I think we’re overselling this big-time,” wrote Douglas Rae, Richard S. Ely Professor of Management at the School of Management, in a 2001 Yale Alumni Magazine feature. “I give biotech two cheers,” he wrote. “It may be wonderful for PhDs, but I don’t see it as a replacement for Winchester,” referring to the defunct arms factory. Rae winces at biotech being labeled a transformative force for the city’s economy. For one thing, biotech is a small-scale employer, with even the largest firms employing a couple of hundred people at most. But though the companies may be small in employment, the jobs are high in pay: the select employees will use their purchasing power to demand good restaurants, good schools, and good neighborhoods. Large numbers of jobs can also be supplied directly by the biotech firm if the company starts manufacturing its own products in the Elm City. Both of these solutions are contingent on the firms’ decisions to stay in the city for a long period of time. Though anchoring these companies in New Haven was always a central tenet of the Yale administration’s pitch to take discoveries out of the laboratory and into the city, it was never a requirement. And in many ways, anchoring firms permanently in New Haven inevitably became secondary to profit. A new industry brings with it new challenges for the workforce, but the real problem lies in the industry’s motivations—not the workforce’s and not the academy’s. New Haven citizens can be eligible for these jobs if they are provided with the proper education or skills training. Biotech firms can employ masses of people either directly by manufacturing its products or indirectly by spurring neighborhood growth. The problem is that the power to make these changes lies not in Yale’s or the city’s hands but in the hands of businesses whose primary goal is success, not community development. As Bell, reflecting on the reopening of his company in New Haven, said, “The extent to which we can hire people from New Haven would be a preference, but we’re driven by talent.” Yale may have been able to catalyze the start of the biotech boom, but where the industry will go lie just beyond the city or Yale’s control. Perhaps

Alderman Hamilton puts it best, “I am hopeful. With a question mark.” FORTY-NINE OUT OF 50 STATES HAVE PROgrams designed to spur the biotech industry. New Haven faces competition from almost every other city in the country. To be a winner in this crowded field requires having a skill to set you apart. “Every city in America says we are going to expand our life science sector and our university sector,” Renn said, “but in America as a whole we are spending too much money on health care, we have a trillion dollars in student loans, the federal government is broke. We can’t afford it.” Applying a one-size-fits-all fix-it to New Haven’s—or any city’s—problems will never work. “You need to take advantage of what you got,” Renn said. “Think about the programs or specialties that you are world-class in, and build around your specialties.” Maybe in biotech lies the key to transforming New Haven’s economy. But that won’t happen unless the industry is tailored to our city’s unique strengths and problems. But Yale has devised a scheme to deal with the city’s unique strengths and problems: repurposing. And this scheme has itself acted like a one-size-fits-all. The old factories have been repurposed, the existing space transformed to be useful in the present. The city economy too has been gentrified, tailored around existing resources—in this case Yale—and reshaped to become more valuable. The product of the University too has been reimagined. It raises the question of who is benefiting from this redefined relationship of town and gown. From an abandoned factory to a bustling hub of expensive machinery and cutting edge research, the once blighted warehouse at 300 George St. is now an emblem of a vision for the future of New haven’s economy. Is Yale recreating the city in its image? “We always said Yale students come from everywhere and will be successful somewhere,” Soderstrom said. “We want to make New Haven a place you say, ‘Why not here?’” —inside cover by Christine Mi YH Staff —graphic by Julia Kittle Kamp YH Staff

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

15


TEDx take two Second-annual TEDxYale Conference seeks to “solve for ‘y’” by William Theiss

n Sat., Feb. 23, the New Haven Shubert Theater hosted TEDxYale’s second annual conference, presenting 22 speakers and performances throughout the day. Those acts were split into four sessions and included Yale professors, political leaders, students, and performing arts groups. The larger TEDx movement, started two years ago, is an attempt to bring the classic TED talks down to the local level. TED talks are given in annual conferences in California and in Scotland, but have become popular online; the TEDx program is a way to let people all over the world experience TED more directly than through their internet. Paul Fletcher-Hill, PC ‘15, one of the two curators of the conference, said that the greatest challenge in preparing the event was to find the right lineup of speakers. “The most difficult thing is to convince them that it’s worthwhile,” he said. He and his co-curator, Grier Barnes, SM ‘14, also tried to balance the more famous speakers with local and unknown voices. The event featured Ronan Farrow, LAW ’09, whose claims to fame are many and varied—he is the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, was admitted to Yale Law School at age 15, graduated at 21, and got a job at the State Department only a year later. A number of Yale undergraduates spoke alongside figures of this stature. The bigger names sell tickets, said Fletcher-Hill, but “most often, the best talks are from the people you haven’t heard of.” The event created other challenges for the organizers. TEDxYale is among only a few university TEDx programs. Fletcher-Hill accredits this limited number to the enormous effort required for each event. The all-day commitment of a TED conference is also an unusual thing for college undergraduates to have time for—while 300 Yale College students bought tickets, only 200 actually attended the event. Despite the lower-than-expected turnout of undergraduates, Saturday’s event was well attended by Yale graduate students, as well as students

O

16

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

from Connecticut College, the University of Connecticut, and even Columbia. Fletcher-Hill said the event itself went smoothly: “On Friday and Saturday we really stepped back, and enjoyed it as audience members.” The theme of the conference, “solve for ‘y,’” emerged as a result of Barnes and Fletcher-Hill’s desire to come up with something universally relatable. The ‘y,’ Barnes said, is the “key ingredient” of the speakers’ work. “They all have a passion: we want them to explain what that is. We’re looking for the extraordinary purpose behind these extraordinary people.” This is the way in which the diversity of topics—from ornithology to particle physics—was made accessible and relevant

close relationship with the renowned, late mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, to personal reflections on death and the legacy of one’s work. In the end he suggested that the best comfort against the fact of mortality is to know that your work has helped others. Like McKinsey and Frame, every speaker made an effort to use his or her personal story as a basis for talking about larger, more important, more relatable ideas. Ocean rower and environmentalist Roz Savage urged audience members to redefine and internalize success, in order to save the planet. Survivor of the Rwandan genocide Clemantine Wamariya, TD ‘14, reflected on the importance of stories and the imagination. Artificial intelligence expert and Jeopardy alum

conferences, because most TED talks are viewed individually and on the computer. “Attending a normal TED conference can cost $4,000,” they said, but going to TEDxYale was far cheaper, especially for students. Once they were admitted in the conference, each audience member was given a printed nametag, and attendees were encouraged to meet with those whose nametags with the same color, to engage with someone new and find out what they had in common. During the break for lunch between sessions, Barnes and Fletcher-Hill urged people to have lunch with a stranger—all in the spirit of creating an experience and fostering a dialogue beyond the talks themselves. The TEDx Yale model promoted by Barnes

According to Grier Barnes, SM ‘14, and Paul Fletcher-Hill, PC ‘15, co-curators of this year’s TEDxYale conference, TED’s challenge is to convey not just “cocktail knowledge” but a more personal connection. to the audience. “That’s the TED challenge,” they said: not to convey “cocktail knowledge,” but a more personal connection. Each speaker encouraged the audience to ‘consider their y,’ even if some were more explicit about doing so than others. Associate professor of physics Dan McKinsey’s talk about the LUX dark matter experiment, for example, was more simply a description of the experiment and what it could reveal about dark matter; he said he had not considered the ‘solve for y’ theme itself while preparing. But asking these “big questions,” he said—questions about what the universe is made of—“are part of what it takes to be an educated person.” Adjunct professor of mathematics Michael Frame’s talk, on the other hand, more obviously addressed the audience; his speech moved from talking about principles of fractal geometry, to his

Sam Spaulding, JE ‘13, posed questions about the nature of human intelligence, and about what makes humanity unique. Graphic designer Eddie Opara underscored the happiness and value that comes with “taking the off-road approach to whatever you’re doing— it doesn’t have to be design.” It wouldn’t be a complete Yale event without a healthy dose of a capella, here in the form of Shades and the Duke’s Men. Four slam poets from Yale’s Teeth also performed, in addition to the Yale Dancers. Interspersed among the standard TED talks were several video presentations. Such diversity of medium was valuable because, according to Hannah Carrese, PC ’16, who attended the conference,“we get to our ‘y’ in different ways.” Barnes and Fletcher-Hill were committed to making the conference relatable and engaging. Such a goal is unique to the TEDx

and Fletcher-Hill presents something new for undergraduates. Carrese said that her strategy of “picking and choosing” speakers she wanted to listen to throughout the day was misguided. “Next year I’ll definitely stay for the whole time, to get the holistic experience they’re trying to provide,” she said. For her, she says, TEDxYale has a valuable role on campus not only because of the accessibility of the speakers, but also because the conference presents a unique opportunity to see a range of speakers she wouldn’t normally get to see. The TED talks actively inspire her to think of her own ideas, much different from attending a normal lecture or campus speaker. The TED conference is therefore meant to engage the individual and the Yale community to solve for ‘y,’ first for the individual and then, Carrese said, “as a species on this planet.”


(Courtesy of Andrew Leu)

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

17


CULTURE Let’s talk about it by Devon Geyelin YH Staff

here won’t be “Babeland’s Lip Tricks: Blow Jobs and Going Down”—a favorite from Sex Weeks past—at this year’s Sex Week(end), but there’s plenty else to spike your interest. Spanning from Thurs., Feb. 28 to Sun., Mar. 3, Sex Week(end) is hosting a series of events meant to foster safe, open dialogues about sex on campus. “We want to create a space for people to engage with stuff they wouldn’t have been able to investigate in high school or haven’t been able to investigate in college,” said Co-director Hannah Mogul-Adlin, TC ’13, EPH ‘14. The events will include a speech by Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, an OB-GYN and Cosmopolitan’s go-to sex doctor; “Demystifying Kink,” a presentation by Babeland, a feminist sex-toy company, on BDSM; and “Sex: Am I Normal?” with Dr. Jill McDevitt, an interactive presentation involving survey questions answerable by audience members with remotes. “The whole point is [to express that] everyone’s normal,” said Mogul-Adlin. “There are all kinds of ways to experience sex and enjoy sex. Yale generally has a very open and liberal attitude towards sex...but I don’t necessarily think there’s enough engagement with the problematic issues that still remain.” Sex Week(end) closes on Sunday with three discussion sections led by SeLF, Yale’s recently established Sexual Literacy Forum. The topics include “Like a Virgin: DISCUSS (for the very first time),” “They did WHAT?! (Slut Shaming at Yale),” and “Getting Naked: Body Image & Sex.” The seminars, representative of SeLF’s new semester-long classes, offer an intimate discussion setting that Sex Week(end)’s larger presentations can’t deliver. Founded last spring by Hannah Slater, BK ’13, and Paulina Haduong, BK ’13, SeLF began conducting seminars this fall in a format inspired by female sexuality programs at other universities. SeLF classes are semester-long weekly discussion sections led by two student facilitators, with a weekly-themed curriculum including “Culture, Body Image, and Desire,” “Masturbation, Pleasure, and Orgasm,” and “Violation of Boundaries.” “We were spending a lot of time talking to each other about issues that came up in our lives and those of our friends, like dangerous ignorance about birth control, racial fetishization, and sexual assault,” said Slater on her decision to found the group with Haduong. “It felt at times like we were the only ones

T

18

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

thinking about these issues, but we realized that these types of conversations happen privately and separately all over campus,” she said. When the two founders heard about the Female Sexuality workshop (FemSex), a hugely popular student-led program at UC Berkeley that has spread to other schools like Brown and Columbia, they were inspired by the programs’ success in fostering the discussions they wanted to have at Yale. “We decided to start SeLF using their model of small, student-facilitated groups that meet consistently over a semester, but we adapted the curriculum to deal with human sexuality in general, rather than female sexuality alone,” Slater said. Currently, there are four SeLF seminar sections. By the end of the year, over 50 students will have gone through the program (applications for next semester are currently up at yaleself.tumblr.com), and its leaders hope to continue expanding its size in the coming years. “It’s a unique forum,” Cindy Ok, PC ‘14, a founding member of SeLF and current seminar facilitator. “At Yale, people are constantly studying the history of sex and the theory of sex. This is a safe space for people to talk about sex and sexuality while learning basic facts and rules.” Ok explained that, so far, the group has fostered fruitful discussions. “There are a lot of interesting interactions between different social groups, asking questions about everything from intellectual standing to personal preferences,” she said. “Everyone’s so on board, willing to give both cerebrally and emotionally.” Though the groups contain members of both genders, representing a wide array of sexual orientations, they do tend towards being politically liberal. “We’re happy to have conservative and diverging opinions, but not a lot of conservatives have been drawn to the group,” Ok said. “Hopefully we’ll have more diversity moving forward.” According to Brown’s FemSex webpage, FemSex first started at UC Berkeley in 1993, as a studenttaught workshop for which participants received credit. In the years since, it’s inspired similar workshops at Carleton College, Columbia/Barnard, Cornell, Miami University, University of Buffalo, University of Nevada, and now at Yale. SeLF modeled its curriculum after Columbia’s chapter. “FemSex at Columbia and Barnard is not yet a class that participants can get credit for,” said Adair Klein-

peter-Ross, who served as a facilitator in Columbia’s FemSex program. Despite its early difficulty in gaining official recognition as an undergraduate organization, Kleinpeter-Ross said, “FemSex has a significant following on campus, and our number of applicants grows each year, and is usually over 150 students.” She said that its growing popularity seems to have stemmed from how seriously the program is taken. “We expect our participants to treat FemSex like a class. We meet twice a week for two hours at a time, assign homework every session, and keep track of attendance,” Kleinpeter-Ross said. In the past few years, there’s been a focus, at least by some on campus, on opening up a dialogue to discuss some of the same issues SeLF hopes to explore. “Title IX had an upside,” Ok said, referring to the complaints brought against Yale in March 2011. “It created a basic constant conversation about stuff that was happening on campus or wasn’t happening…I think people opened up to their friends more after these stories came up. I think that set us up for this forum.” “I think we’re trying to address the same issues, just in different way. I think both are really important,” said Mogul-Adlin on the different opportunities offered by Sex Week(end) and SeLF, and the decision to combine the two for Sunday’s events. “SeLF creates a space for people to engage at a much deeper level. I’ve been to a few SeLF meetings and there were people in the group who had never had the chance to discuss these issues with people who had different experiences.” In that vein, Haduong said, “I believe that a lot of issues around sexual culture on any campus stem from issues in communication. SeLF is really a place to start conversations, for us to explore our desires and communicate them more effectively to others, without fear of shame or judgment.” This seminar dynamic is inherantly different from the pyrotechnics of Sex Week(end). Ok shared a similar sentiment: “Here’s a forum for learning directly from and with these 10 other people who not just come from different places than you, but from a whole set of different experiences, and opinions, and fears, none of which, somehow, act as barriers in between,” she said. “It’s a self-selecting group; these are people who are profoundly willing to share themselves intimately and thoughtfully hear out everybody else.” —graphic by Zachary Schiller YH Staff


Divide and be conquered By Lucas Iberico Lozada YH Staff

here are any number of reasons for Yale students to feel disenfranchised. From utter failures in the (mis)handling of cases of sexual violence to a criminalizing stance towards mental illness; from a hostile relationship with workers’ unions to the bullying of its graduate student employees; from secretive investments in ruinous extractive industries and the laughably opaque establishment of a University colony in an autocratic regime (conveniently also the beneficiary of further secretive investments); from the appointment of war criminals as professors to the utter farce that was the presidential selection process—in each of these incidents (and surely in many more) Yale students were reminded of their lowly position within the University. Of course, to speak of student enfranchisement at all would be to entirely misrepresent the student-administration relationship—the president of Yale is as much an elected position as was Holy Roman Emperor. And yet—much as Rick Levin, GRD ’74, may bear a certain physical resemblance to Joseph II—suggesting that Yale students are somehow analogous to feudal German peasants shades into the absurd. In many ways, our position is more fraught: instead of being born into oppressive circumstances, we fought tooth and nail— non-graphing calculator and no. 2 pencil—in order to choose them. Further, we pay a truly staggering amount of money—just above the median yearly income for a family of four in the United States—to revel in them. (For the many of us on financial aid there is the added the heavy burden of an emotional debt to those footing the bill.) Of course, such a hefty price tag cuts both ways: while tuition payments do not completely cover operating costs, imagine the catastrophe that even a few dozen pissed-off parents and benefactors could wreak if they decided to collectively withhold payment, or even to sue. Beyond financial arrangements, however, there is the cultural cachet of a place like Yale. Despite a fair number of well-publicized public relations disasters in recent years (George W. Bush, Annie Le, DKE, Title IX, Patrick Witt), Yale has remained above it all, aided in no small part by saccharine YouTube clips, phrases like “the Gay Ivy,” and drooling tabloid-blogs like The Daily Beast and the Huffington Post. It is directly in the administration’s interest to play a delicate balance with us, its students, and de facto PR flacks. Piss us

T

off too much, and say goodbye to the decline in admission rates, rosy press coverage, and—in Levin’s worst nightmares—future donations. But it would be misrepresentative to claim that the administration, eyes warily trained on our potential unrest, is doing its best to keep us happy. Instead, paying homage to Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Machiavelli, and James Madison, the University’s faceless, emailing lords rule through division. Or, perhaps more appropriate for these ennui-filled times, they control through alienation. IT’S SIGNIFICANT THAT THE LEAST EXCLUSIVE SPACE on campus is underground. Though its association with language tutoring, desperate attempts at group studying, cheap coffee, the near-constant smell of toilet water, rubbery sushi, and the occasional YCC farce-event makes Bass Cafe an only-if-I-have-to kind of place for many, there is no denying that it is the only indoor place on campus explicitly designed to be a public space. “Public” is, of course, a word whose meaning is inscribed within a complex of power arrangements. As a place policed by Yale’s private security forces, Bass Cafe’s “publicness” doesn’t extend to a large, rowdy group of non-Yale-affiliates in the same way that it would to a gaggle of sleep-deprived DSers chugging sugar-free Red Bull and chanting Platonic verses. But still: it is the only indoor space on campus where a Yale ID is not required (tacitly or otherwise) for access. Consider, furthermore, that in many—if not most— spaces on campus, a Yale ID alone isn’t enough. Particular academic and extracurricular affiliations grant access to particular spaces; some places, like the clubs—or “societies”—which fuel the dark fantasies of Yale underclasspeople and conspiracy theorists everywhere, are explicitly organized around their exclusivity (and, crucially, that non-members remain ever aware of their exclusivity). Exclusivity, it could be said, breeds exclusivity. Most egregiously of all, physical division of the undergraduate population into 12 (and soon to be 14) residential colleges ensures structural inequalities among otherwise-equivalent members of Yale. Entrance gates to the colleges—designed to keep out “undesirables” from the surrounding environment—prove to be the easiest hurdle to overcome. It is what is inside and underground, be it a letterpress, library, basketball court, or recording studio, that remains forever out of reach

to a non-member. As for the graduate and professional schools, the matter amplifies, finding its highest form in the posted sign just inside the law school: “Be prepared to show ID.” Here, one must always be ready to prove one’s membership. As Nietzsche might have put it, it isn’t what you study—it’s where you can swipe in that matters. This division and excision, against which slouches only Bass Cafe—windowless, transient, low-ceilinged Bass Cafe—makes the task of those committed to authentic expressions of student power immensely difficult. How can we expect to make ourselves heard if we cannot make ourselves felt? For the question is not “How do we raise the issue?” but rather “How do we force the issue?” IT WOULD BE UNREASONABLE TO ASK WHETHER A student center of some kind—built, perhaps, on top of Bass on Cross Campus—would make an amenable solution to all parties involved. But one shudders to think of what such a place would look like, given the tastes and tendencies of the administrators and donors who plan and design Yale buildings. (The refrain “combination Gourmet Heaven and Barnes and Noble” comes to mind.) More to the point, such a structure would only ever be ours in name only. What we need, rather, is a space in which the University recognizes our ability to gather, speak freely, and act—by getting out of our way. To ask whether such a space is feasible misses the point entirely. We would do well to recall Arendt’s statement in The Human Condition that “power, like action, is boundless: it has no physical limitation in human nature, in the bodily existence of man [sic], like strength.” While the University derives much strength from the men and women in Woodbridge and on Whitney and Hillhouse—strength that is used to keep us divided and powerless—such strength is necessarily limited to its material foundations. Leave feasibility to the vice-presidents and “investment officers.” We must use our power, the power that “springs up,” Arendt writes, when we “act together” to determine for ourselves a physical space that will be both the catalyst of and the preserver of our power. The hard part, of course, won’t be getting such a space built: the hard part will be getting together in the first place. —graphic by Madeline Butler YH Staff The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

19


REVIEWS Laramie at Yale by Wesley Yiin YH Staff

(Courtesy of the Yale Dramat)

ne night in late 1998, Matthew Shepard, an openly gay college student at the University of Wyoming, was kidnapped, driven to a remote area just outside of Laramie, Wyo., tied to a fence, battered beyond recognition, and left for dead. By the time he was found, it was too late; he was in critical condition and died within a few days. News of the incident spread rapidly through the state of Wyoming and subsequently throughout the country. This year, the Yale Dramat chose The Laramie Project for its annual freshman show. Written by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project of New York City, the play focuses mostly on the turmoil that the town of Laramie experienced in the aftermath of Shepard’s murder. Interestingly, despite the play’s alternative form, it seemed as if the Dramat had made the obvious choice with its pick: the unique structure would impress audiences and demonstrate the deciding panel’s willingness to embrace alternative theatre, while at the same time, the fact that the show has been produced regularly across the nation for over a decade, its discussion of its subject matter is tested and true. The Dramat’s production manages to bring to light new themes in this oftproduced show. In his depiction of Laramie’s small-town environment, Kaufman does a fantastic job explicating the social and political climates of Laramie while comparing and contrasting its tight-knit community with environments that cityfolk and suburban townies would consider normal. Many Yalies grew up in the latter categories, making it even more crucial for them to comprehend one of the play’s fundamental themes: that Laramie is made up of people no different from you and me, and the play tries to illustrate that situational factors may have contributed to Matthew’s death. It offers no hard answers; after all, the play is more about making an effort to understand rather than solve the mystery of why Shepard was murdered. Then, there is the question of the structure of the “play” (a word that doesn’t fully or accurately define the piece). In her program notes, director Nailah Harper-Malveux, PC ’16, astutely likens both the incident and the production to a storm. The play does not follow any sort of conventional narrative structure. Instead, Kaufman collected over 200 interviews that the Tectonic Theater Project conducted with people involved in or affected by the murder into one sprawling theater piece. In other words, the play is an explicit depiction of the interviews rather than a dramatization of them. As a result, the piece is sometimes over-

O

20

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

whelming and seemingly without direction. Each actor plays multiple roles, and interviews, or “scenes,” start and end abruptly without any sort of flow or relevance between one and the next. On the other hand, this method is creative and fast-paced; thus, it can be useful in capturing the audience’s attention, assuming that they don’t get lost in the transitions. The production staff uses the play’s strange format phenomenally and to its advantage. Costume changes are simple and quick, with actors only having to don or remove a single piece of clothing—something as simple as gloves or a tie—to change characters. In addition, the minimal amount of stage fixtures allows for the space to be pragmatically used: when one scene finishes, another begins on a different part of stage while quick transitions occur back on the first side. The focus then switches to a scene on a third part of the stage, then back to the first, and so on. Similarly, the cast excels. Each actor seamlessly disappears and transforms into his or her character, with visible tears and anger that radiates into the audience. Some actors even plays roles of the opposite gender—and convincingly so. Thanks to the cast and crew’s innovation and hard work, the production avoids messiness, instead carefully and artistically conveying the chaos that the “storm” of Shepard’s death left in its wake. Unfortunately, the play is overly didactic at some points, though to no fault of the production staff. Plays of this sort with such heavy and controversial subjects depend heavily on the beliefs and biases of their creators, and in this case, it becomes clear quickly that Kaufman wants his audiences to experience sadness (and perhaps, in some way, guilt) about the death of Matthew Shepard. Nonetheless, the narrative also questions our commonly held beliefs about places like Laramie and their residents. There are many interviews, for instance, with individuals who “disagree” with the “homosexual lifestyle,” yet speak completely rationally and often sympathize most with Matthew and his family. It’s moments like these that give Laramie its magic, reminding us again that the point of the play isn’t to identify differences, but to find common ground. All in all, The Laramie Project exceeds expectations and refutes potential concerns largely thanks to its production staff’s nearly flawless execution and its unbelievably versatile cast. The freshman show’s production of The Laramie Project succeeds in underscoring the importance of understanding and honesty at Yale, and really anywhere in the world.


Food: The Reading List Imagine this: you wake up one morning and find only creases on the pillow beside you. You wrinkle your nose and realize that your significant other has woken up early to make you breakfast. Almost-artisan pancakes, cantaloupe, and eggs. That’s what the Reading List, Yale’s new student-run, student-cooked delivery brunch service, offers (minus the significant other): a cozy meal crafted and delivered to your entryway with a great deal of thought and care—all for eight dollars. Delivered in a neat brown box, the breakfast in bed evokes a care package from mom. Inside, the girls at the Reading List (Cora Ormseth, MC ‘14, Nicole Ivery, DC ‘14, Mona Cao, CC ‘14, and Yohanna Pepa, BK ‘14) have whipped up and packed three pancakes, sliced fruit, glaze, and of course, an endearing quote from Alice in Wonderland on the top. In anticipation of a potential breakfast date, the set comes with utensils for two. The Reading List, so it seems, aims to deliver not just a viable dining hall alternative, but a wholesome stay-athome start to your day. There are difficulties delivering a fresh breakfast across campus—as well as serving ganache for breakfast—but the pancakes are a delectable start to the day. Their fluffy texture is complemented by classic flavor pairs like banana-chocolate, cinnamon-cream, and carrot-honey-lemon, which certainly do not disappoint. Imagine the delight of a cupcake without the sugar rush afterwards. As midterms come up, ‘tis the season when we all need a little love—and luckily, the Reading List delivers. —Lucas Sin YH Staff

Music: Atoms for Peace It’s easy to wonder if the recent meteor blast over Russia was secretly part of Atoms for Peace’s press kit: the artwork for their debut album, AMOK, depicts similarly immense fireballs hurtling towards jagged terrain. Where a biting chill swept through the group’s singer Thom Yorke’s solo debut, The Eraser, the warmer atmosphere of his songwriting on AMOK is much more lava-like—viscous and fluid. While The Eraser is the product of Yorke and producer extraordinaire Nigel Godrich collaborating over laptops and studio gizmos, AMOK was created by five musical minds who value live performance (namely Yorke, Godrich, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and percussionists whose touring credits include R.E.M. and David Byrne). Playing live is in their genetic coding—after all, Atoms for Peace first came together in order to take The Eraser out on tour. Though the band needed to strengthen the rhythmic backbone of The Eraser’s nine songs for the live setting, most songs on AMOK rush out of the gates with commanding grooves. The beats are undeniably thrilling; one can easily imagine Yorke bopping his ponytail to the bass-bumping shaker samba of “Stuck Together Pieces” or the manic hi-hat breakdown in “Unless.” At the same time, the record also demonstrates the band’s mastery of what can only be done in a studio: “Judge Jury and Executioner,” which made the rounds on the group’s 2010 set lists as a full-band guitar number, has here transformed into a haunting, ethereal track full of negative space. In this sense, the album’s sonic layers envelop and ensnare when heard through headphones, but it is not difficult to imagine tracks like “Default” evolving into concert hall behemoths. Listening to AMOK can be an intimate experience or a dance blowout, a schism whose resolution is entirely dependent on the listener’s mood. The heart of the record is its concluding title track. Over a sweeping crescendo of airy electro-arpeggios and piano chords, we hear Yorke’s falsetto cut through the chaos: “I’m sending out choirs of angels / Tying round pieces of string / To run amok.” AMOK is undoubtedly marked by Yorke’s distinctive musical fingerprint, but the album flows with a cohesion that only additional personnel could provide. Literal running amok may be too much to expect after Yorke’s ghostly closing call to arms, but the previous 45 minutes would certainly justify such a response. —Chloe Lizotte

Music: Doldrums Doldrums’ debut LP Lesser Evil is an aural acid trip. With the exception of a few pieces that could loosely be labeled dance electronica, it would seem imprecise to consider the album part of any one musical genre. Rather, on Lesser Evil, Doldrums (Airick Woodhead’s alias) has made a kind of sound art by layering different noises on top of one another to draw the listener into one of Woodhead’s hallucinations. Sometimes, this approach risks going overboard with disorienting the listener: the third track on the album, “She Is the Wave,” consists of screeching and clanging noises reminiscent of a dentist’s office, and the sound becomes almost intolerably abrasive. For the most part though, on Lesser Evil’s more aggressive first half, Woodhead finds a balance. “Egypt,” arguably the album’s best track, features a slow, floating melody line over driving percussion that, unlike on many of the other tracks, adheres to a more or less consistent beat, adding a necessary element of familiarity to the noise. The melody is interrupted by bursts of militaristic blaring tones, making the track just unsettling enough. The latter half of Lesser Evil is more mellow, coming across as fantastical. Only just over a minute long, “Singularly Acid Face” is perfectly weird. The track starts with a yawn and a voice saying, “I wonder were I am,” followed by polyrhythmic, electronic melodic loops, which all eventually become grounded in a two-note bass loop and the brushing sound of wind blowing into a microphone. Elsewhere, the swirling sustained tones and watery plunking sounds in “Lost in Everyone” conjure the sensation of falling. For an instant, Woodhead suspends the listener with the buoyant pop hook “sometimes I get lost in everyone”—and then drops the listener back into free fall, immediately transposing the hook into some incongruous key. Lesser Evil is a euphoric, warehouse party kind of experience. Amidst a movement of electronic artists striving to be weird, off-kilter, and provocative, Doldrums more or less gets it right. —Helen Rouner

Staff list Welcome to a new Herald Reviews feature: the staff list. We assume that since you are a human being, you want to know what we are doing all the time—and, in particular, how we are choosing to participate culturally every week. Wonder no longer! We’ll let you know what’s up and what’s down in five easy steps. This week is all about bridging the gap between February (that’s that shit we don’t like) and March (that’s that shit we like). What we’re listening to: More Adventurous by Rilo Kiley. Remember that other gap you crossed on a bridge called middle school—also known as casual hell on earth? From crushes to kisses, from sports bras to first periods, this was the change in tide we will never forget (because we are simply too scarred), and Jenny Lewis is the lady we will always remember (because we are truly too in love). What we’re reading: Sticks and Stones by Emily Bazelon, PC ‘93, LAW ‘00. Every midterm season we somehow forget that books can be important and enjoyable at the same time. Yale’s own Bazelon looks at a bullying culture that’s rapidly taking to the Internet; the product of her many years researching and writing on the topic is both beautiful and brave. What we’re watching: Clueless. That’s gonna be us so soon, you guys. The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and any minute now we are going to be chilling by some waterfalls in skimpy swimsuits. Even if it’s metaphorical waterfall chilling, people will probably go, “is this a Noxzema commercial or what?” But seriously, we will have way normal springtime lives for college kids. What we’re looking at: the Joseph Albers prints in the YUAG. These colors! They’re like that pretty girl at your high school who wasn’t loud about being pretty, and so every boy thought she was the most underrated, which by definition makes her no longer underrated. Sometimes you just need something pretty to get you out of a February funk, and the heaven-pointing shapes on these prints are sure to get you on that up and up. —Cindy Ok YH Staff The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

21


BULLBLOG BLACKLIST And not the turkey kind. The kind that gives you puddle foot. Rest assured, there’s nothing I want less than to make nothing and learn little while working for your organization this summer, but life’s a bitch and then you die.

SOMESOM

The Great New Haven Melt

Do you even know the song?

Please get your “hot girl neuroses” out of our face. Emmanuelle Riva, get at us.

TA

Cover letters Jennifer Lawrence winning the Oscar

People who sing in the rain

Feb Club Paper proposals

Professors who begin class by saying, “Wow, I’m surprised you all came today.”

FellFe

People who don’t wear deodorant

For constantly moving around. For being only nominally related to February. For not being a club. But mainly for always disappointing us.

Enjoy my artistic rephrasing of Wikipedia. At least I removed the hyperlinks.

Also, professors who are emotionally needy, deeply egotistical, etc. You need to see a different doctor.

No blow job workshop at Sex Week(end)

People who make their own deodorant.

Because there’s always room for improvement—even for us.

The Yale Herald (Mar. 1, 2013)

23


write for the yale herald email emma.schindler@yale.edu

...and that’s how I beat Shaq


TYH LV 6  

The Yale Herald, Vol. LV, Issue 6

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you