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Importance
1
Overtime | Farewell Isaiah and good riddance
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Apr 10, 2008
“Kyle Nelson Columnist
The shame that is the New York Knicks cannot easily be described. Better times may come, though, after the hiring of Donnie Walsh as the team’s General Manager. That at least is something to look forward to.
Beginning in 2000, owner James Dolan’s tenure has been an exercise in incompetence and mismanagement. This is the James Dolan whose father is Charles Dolan, founder of the Cablevision empire, and the same James Dolan that almost killed himself with a combination of a wild lifestyle, binge drinking and drug abuse in the mid-’90s. This is the James Dolan who is emotionally unstable and abusive in the way he runs his job and blamed his mistreatment of Madison Square Garden staff members as a result of quitting smoking.
But, perhaps more importantly to Knicks fans, this is the James Dolan who sunk one of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) premier franchises, exacerbated a sexual harassment scandal in which Madison Square Garden was one of the defendants and turned “The World’s Most Famous Arena” into the world’s most heinous arena.
Before Dolan took over, the Knicks were one of the most legendary teams in the NBA, with eight conference titles, eight division titles and two championships to their name. In fact, during the 1999-2000 season, which was shortened because of a lockout, the Knicks made a Cinderella run to the playoffs as an eighth seed, becoming the first team ever to do so in NBA history. Then, Dolan arrived, and despite a run to the conference finals during his first season in charge, as Knicks fans will surely tell you, it all went downhill.
Their record since? 214-350. That is just under 38 percent. Dolan’s tenure signaled an end to
14 consecutive playoff appearances, and the team is currently in the franchise’s worst playoff drought in over 20 years.
Accusations of mismanagement are not just confined to winning percentage. In 2000, Dolan organized the trade of franchise icon Patrick Ewing, and in the following year, coach Jeff Van Gundy, who had led the Knicks to the NBA Finals only two years before, resigned and the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons. In 2003, hope seemed to return with the hiring of General Manager Isiah Thomas, Head Coach Lenny Wilkins and the homecoming of local hero Stephon Marbury. But after two first-round playoff exits and a combined 2-7 postseason record, Wilkins resigned, and the Knicks entered one of the worst stretches in franchise history.
The franchise racked up a $130 million dollar payroll (a figure higher than both São
Tomé and Príncipe’s and Kiribati’s respective gross domestic products), which includes paying players’ salaries long after they have retired, giving a guy$ 5 million annually to sit on the bench and paying a $18.5 million settlement to a coach that led the team to a 23-59 record! The Knicks’ payroll has resulted in four consecutive seasons of abysmal performances and a lot of boos from the cheap seats at Madison Square Garden.
The most significant black eye in the Dolan years, however, resulted when the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Operations Anucha Browne Sanders filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against General Manager and Coach Isaiah Thomas, as well as Madison Square Garden. Not only were Dolan and Thomas arrogant enough to take the case to trial, but, after Thomas was found guilty, Dolan maintained his innocence and allowed him to remain as both head coach and general manager. The Knicks proved that they were wildly incompetent on and off the court, and the organization proved itself sexist and misogynistic, creating an atmosphere that was uninviting and demeaning to women.
Then, Marbury took his surprise visit away from the team and further fractured the fragile roster, setting the Knicks up for one of the worst seasons in franchise history, one that can be best summed up by the chants of “Fire Isaiah” that rang down from the cheap seats. Good news, however, came when Dolan finally claimed to have had enough and signed Pacers godsend Donnie Walsh as his new general manager. Walsh has proven to be deaf to the whims of incompetent and out-of-touch owners and brought respectability back to a Pacers franchise that had been all but written off. Most importantly, however, Walsh’s signing signifies the end of a Knicks team that was just as embarrassing on the court as it was off and was a team that mirrored perfectly its owner’s self destructive and disturbed mind-set.
It is a new morning at Madison Square Garden. Citizens of New York, the NBA, and basketball fans around the world are breathing a collective sigh of relief.
—Kyle Nelson ’09 is an English and Africana Studies double-major. This semester he is editorializing on issues in national athletics.”

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Importance
2
Social justice meets criminal justice
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Apr 10, 2008
“Vassar-Greenhaven/Otisville program alumnae/i reunited for reflection and discussion during a week of lectures and prison-related activism.
P. Whinn/ The Miscellany News
Stephanie Damon-Moore Assistant Life Editor
“We’re concerned with changing public policy,” said Professor of Sociology Lawrence “Larry” Mamiya of the recent Prison Focus Week. The week’s events brought together faculty members, students, alumnae/i and formerly incarcerated people in an effort to raise awareness of the problems with America’s penal system and reinforce understanding and commitment to a diverse population. On Saturday, April 5, the week culminated with the ninth annual Green Haven-Vassar Reunion, which united people with past or present involvement in the Vassar prison program.
Through the program, students spend Friday afternoons in either Green Haven maximum-security prison or Otisville medium-security prison, earning academic credit to do so.
Caitlin Schattman ’10, one of the students involved in the program during the Spring 2007 semester, explained, “I [was] learning about a part of society that I’ve never really considered. These people live such a different life than I do or any of my Vassar friends do. I realized how extremely privileged our life is and I felt motivated to make a change.”
Though students underwent an extensive security clearance before visiting the inmates, Schattman said that it was “worth it. You only hear about the victims of a lot of crimes, which is normal, but you rarely get to hear the inmates’ voices, especially after they’ve been imprisoned for 10 or 20 years.”
“It’s a wonderful program,” said corrections officer Dennis DeRose. “The students are fantastic; they give 110 percent. I love Fridays.”
Students have also had overwhelmingly positive, life-changing experiences, and formerly incarcerated reunion attendants expressed a great regard for the program. George Prendes, for example, a formerly incarcerated real estate agent, described Green Haven as “a desolate island,” and the visitors from Vassar as “a ship coming over the horizon.” “They gave us hope,” he said. “They gave us tools we would need when we left the island.”
Mamiya first brought a class to the Green Haven facility for weekly conversations 29 years ago. He was strongly encouraged to return by Ernest Morton, Director of the Pre-Release Center at Green Haven, who was present at the reunion. Morton described his work modestly, saying, “All I did was make sure Mamiya would bring Vassar College in.” When Morton was transferred to Otisville, he made sure that Vassar came too.
Although many speakers expressed appreciation for the Vassar prison program, there was overwhelming discontent with the penal system in the United States. “America has 2.2 million people behind bars,” said Mary Beth Pfeiffer, investigative journalist for the Poughkeepsie Journal. “It has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized society.”
Pfeiffer’s work with the Poughkeepsie Journal led her to investigate suicides in prisons, which exposed a serious flaw within the system: the treatment of the mentally ill. In the lecture that she delivered at Vassar on Tuesday, April 2, she told the stories of several mentally ill people who were incarcerated, and illustrated what a widespread issue it is.
“In New York, there are 8,400 mentally ill people in state prisons,” she said. “In the United States there are at least 330,000.” Pfeiffer stressed that rather than providing adequate treatment, housing and support, our society “labels and punishes.” Pfeiffer compiled the stories and facts that she unearthed in a book entitled Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill.
She said that she doesn’t like the use of the word “crazy” to refer to people, but used it in her title to illustrate that “what is ‘crazy’” in America is how we treat—and how we fail to treat—people with mental illness.”
Pfeiffer also explained, “We imprisoned the mentally ill. They are women and children, they are the drug addicted, they are men who became a problem for the criminal justice system because there was no other system to intervene. When they violate the social order, there are few resources to help them and treat them, but there are plenty of jail and prison beds.”
Another speaker, Eddie Ellis, described the prison system as “insane,” pointing out that “one of the basic traits of insanity is to repeat the same mistakes over and over again and expect a different outcome.” Ellis is a formerly incarcerated man who works in the New York Public Policy Group and the Community Justice Center. He views the criminal justice system as “more criminal than just.”
Across the board, participants in the Prison Focus Week objected to the penal system in America on the grounds that it doesn’t prepare people in prison to re-enter society and mistreats people while they’re there. The recidivism rate is around 68 percent, which clearly demonstrates that the system isn’t effective.
“The current U.S. penal system is miserably failing us all,” said Kaia Stern ’94, Director of Pathways Home Project of the Harvard Law School’s Institute for Race and Justice and a former participant in Vassar’s prison program. She denounced the movement to “Get tough on crime,” which has put millions of people behind bars for non-violent offences. “The prison population has increased 500 percent over the last 30 years,” she said. “Two-thirds of the people there are sentenced for non-violent crimes.”
The prevailing belief at the reunion was that the key to lowering the recidivism rate in America is to educate people while they’re incarcerated. “Most people coming out of prison have less than a fifth-grade reading level,” said Sharon White, a formerly incarcerated woman who spoke about her experience re-entering society. “Through education, most doors can be opened,” she said. Ellis said that the effectiveness of providing educational opportunities to people in prison has been proven, saying, “People who leave prison with a college degree have the lowest rate of recidivism of any group.”
Right now, Vassar’s program provides incarcerated people a glimpse of the outside world. It is a valuable learning experience for both students and people in prison, but it doesn’t give the incarcerated people any college credit. Although there has been some effort to teach courses in prison to both Vassar students and incarcerated people, the New York Department of Corrections has denied requests to do so. Classes may be taught by faculty without Vassar students present, but Vassar faculty and administration would prefer to see Vassar students present in the classes and would be better able to maintain a range of classes if the classes weren’t added on top of a standard workload. “For us as a faculty, one of the impediments is that people have limited time,” said Professor Molly Shanley, who has taught in prisons and originally proposed teaching an introductory sociology course in prison with Vassar students. “If it could count as part of your normal workload, there would be an enormous amount of support to staff those teaching positions.”
The New York Department of Corrections has been a major obstacle, preventing people in prison from obtaining the education that will help people who get out of prison stay out. But it is hard to believe that the enthusiasm and commitment among the Vassar community and the formerly incarcerated activists won’t result in policy changes and expanding opportunities for incarcerated people.
Victor Monterrosa ’07, who is involved with re-entry programs in New Jersey, echoed a sentiment that had been pulsing through the room all day: “I believe that through links of social solidarity, changes can be made.””

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Importance
1
Emergency alert system to be tested
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Mar 26, 2008
“Julianne Herts Assistant News Editor
The Office of Computing and Information Services (CIS) will perform a campus-wide test of its new Crisis Communication System on April 2. The system will be used to send an automatic message to members of the College community in case students and faculty need to take shelter, evacuate an area or go to a secure location.
Vice President of CIS Bret Ingerman and Vice President of College Relations Susan DeKrey have worked throughout the year with their respective staffs and other College officials to prepare the new e-mail and text-messaging system.
“The campus Emergency Response Group, a broad-based group representative of many areas of the campus, felt that especially after the tragedies at Virginia Tech and other campuses, Vassar needed a multi-faceted strategy for communicating with the campus should there ever be a crisis here,” said DeKrey. “We saw that in some instances a high-tech system that could quickly be used to e-mail, text and phone people on campus was important.”
After researching a variety of alert systems, CIS chose a host system called Alert Find, produced by the company Message One. A number of schools, including Middlebury College, rely on Message One for crisis communication, while other institutions employ similar alternatives. Dutchess Community College, for example, uses e2Campus, a text messaging alert system, while the University of California at Berkeley continues to alert the campus community by sounding a loud siren when emergencies arise.
In order to be able to send alerts to the Vassar community, CIS worked with Alert Find’s technical support team to copy contact information from Banner Online onto the new host program and add information from a Web-based form, which requested contact information from students and faculty in Fall 2007. To keep information up-to-date, the CIS team uploads new information onto the server each week.
Vassar’s system will be tested twice in April and then once during every subsequent semester. It has already successfully been tested via various messages sent to the College President, Senior Officers and members of the Emergency Response Team. The tests in April will assess the system’s ability to send out text message alerts to all student and faculty, and will test whether students and faculty information has been correctly put into the system. The tests will also familiarize students and faculty with crisis messages.
Though the system can transmit voice messages, text messages will be used because students and faculty members are usually more likely to have access to their cell phones to receive a text message than to their dorm phones to receive a call. Text messages are also faster to transmit, according to Ingerman.
“While it is not technologically possible to guarantee delivery of every text message—the cell phone companies cannot guarantee this—it is our goal to deliver text messages to a critical mass of people,” he said.
The number of people who sign up for text message alerts is, at many universities, a small proportion of the community. The low sign-up rate, combined with the brevity of text messages, has motivated school officials at Vassar and across the nation to use other means of communication as well.
“No one method alone was going to be adequate,” explained DeKrey. “With that kind of plan in mind, we took stock of the existing means of communication—campus-wide e-mailing, for example, and personal communication within the residence halls—and added a new system that allows us to communicate in a broadcast fashion, through text messages, phone calls and voice mail, to everyone on campus for whom we have contact information.”
After the test, students who did supply their contact information but did not receive the message will be able to contact the Registrar; employees will be able to contact the Human Resources office. By checking the information of those who do not receive the message, CIS will determine whether or not the contact information on file is accurate.
The Office of College Relations and CIS will also note the number of text messages received. This information, in addition to feedback from students and faculty, will allow them to gauge the effectiveness of the alert system.
CIS encourages all students and faculty to update their contact information so that the test will be successful and the campus will be prepared in the case of a real emergency.
“We have prepared in advance a number of basic messages that could be sent immediately in the case of, for example, a violent incident on campus, extreme weather or a hazardous environmental condition,” said DeKrey. “Those would be followed up with more details through a variety of channels as details became known.”
It is, however, important to note that having such a system in place does not necessarily mean that students and faculty will be informed promptly of violent incidents on campus. Dolores Stafford, former president of the International Association of Campus Law, noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education that “The complete focus now is on how fast can you communicate with your campus community. And the trouble is, sometimes you don’t have anything to say,” she said.
A lack of information has indeed prevented college officials from using their security systems in the past. The University of Chicago uses cAlert, which can send text, e-mail, and voice messages, as well as a Safety Awareness Alert System that reports via e-mail on high-profile or violent crimes. Yet on Nov. 19, 2007, when University of Chicago graduate student Amadou Cisse was killed half a block away from the campus at 1:26 a.m., university officials did not send out an emergency alert until 10:40 a.m. According to the school’s Web site, administrators did not want to alert the campus until they had more information about the crime.
Less than a month later the University of Northern Illinois used their security alert system promptly. On Feb. 14, 2008 at about 3 p.m., a gunman entered a lecture hall and killed six students before committing suicide. A campus alert went out at 3:20 p.m. advising students and faculty to stay indoors and avoid the area where the shootings had taken place.
Security systems may also help schools to avoid violent attacks altogether. According to a Sep. 28, 2007 article in The New York Times, “The Day After, Warning System Draws Wide Praise at St. John’s,” officials at St. John’s Univerisy in Queens sent out a text message alert when they discovered that a gunman was on campus. The gunman, a 22-year-old student, was arrested before anyone was harmed. Students and faculty remained in lock-down for the entire duration of the incident.
Vassar’s emergency response system is similar to those used at the University of Queens and the University of Chicago. The success of a text messaging system can vary greatly by school and situation.
Yet Vassar officials hope that, at the very least, the new emergency response system will increase the odds that a critical information will go out to students promptly.”

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Importance
1
Love, racism and stereotypes mark choreo-poem
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Feb 21, 2008
“The seven characters of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” are named after rainbow colors
A. Neuhause/ The Miscellany News
Laura McCoy Guest Writer
Ntozake Shange’s 1974 play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” explores experiences of women of color: love, relationships, stereotypes, racism, rape and abortion. The award-winning play is a choreo-poem—a compilation of 20 poems choreographed to music—that lyrically explores the search for black female identity.
Directed by Torrie Williams ’08, President of the Council of Black Seniors, Shange’s production will be presented in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater from Feb. 21-23. The Council of Black Seniors, in collaboration with the Black Students Union and Philaletheis, is hosting the show.
In the play, RaMina Mirmortazavi ’08 plays Lady in Red—each of the seven characters is named according to the colors of the rainbow. “[William’s] strong vision is very unique to the show,” Mirmortazavi said. “She doesn’t just view it as a poem. She really sees the story inside of it. She’s really helped make this into a journey, and not just a poem recitation.”
“This play touches on a lot of issues that are not exclusive to women of color or even to women,” Mirmortazavi continued. “I think everyone can connect to parts of the play differently.”
Indeed, the moving personal odysseys taken by its characters sit at the heart of the production.
“Here at Vassar, people tend to get wrapped up in classes and work and all kinds of things, and they can lose themselves in the process. It’s important to remain connected to yourself,” Mirmortazavi said.
Shange’s play brings about this self-awareness through the personal history she infuses into her work. As a child living in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, she was bused to a predominantly white school where she faced racism from her fellow students.
Having lived through a period in American history rife with struggles for civil rights and personal freedoms, Shange brings a unique perspective to situations and experiences that, for some, previously existed only in history textbooks.
It is appropriate that this production comes to Vassar during Black History Month, a celebration of the achievements of American black communities in the face of socio-economic oppression. February marks important dates in American history for African Americans, including: Frederick Douglass’s chosen birth date of Feb. 14; Abraham Lincoln’s approval of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery on Feb. 1, 1865; and the 1870 ratification of the 15th Amendment’s provision that U.S. governments cannot prevent citizens from voting on the basis of race.
Shange’s play celebrates the ability of seven black women to rise above the struggles in their lives and become strong, proud and inspirational women.
“Work by women of color is produced too rarely at Vassar, both in the drama department and in student theater,” Rachel Lee ’08, President of Philaletheis said. “The result is that the stories we are telling on stage do not reflect the diversity of our student body. Hopefully this production will inspire future student directors to look beyond the traditional canon,” she said.
Mirmortazavi agreed. “What’s touched me the most about this production is how it has allowed me to voice something I’ve never had a chance to before,” she said. “I hope people take away a greater sense of themselves, whatever that may mean.””

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Importance
1
Weekly Spotlight: The Black Student Union
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Feb 08, 2008
“Alexandra Matthews Life Editor
When Angelic Sosa ’08 stepped onto the Vassar campus for her first semester in August 2004 she felt, like all freshmen, a bit overwhelmed.
“Coming here was totally different than my high school demographics…It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable being here, but it was that I needed something familiar,” said Sosa. How did she overcome these first emotions? By joining the Black Students Union (BSU), of which she is now president for the second consecutive term.
“BSU is a social, cultural and political group for students here. We aim to make those things available for black students and other students on campus who are sympathetic to our goals,” said Sosa.
BSU Historian Bonnie Velez ’10 also sought comfort in BSU as a freshman. “When I first came to Vassar I was feeling a lot of culture shock...it was nice to be in a familiar setting…it reminded me of home [since people understood] the things I would talk about or things I'd gone through growing up,” she said.
BSU has existed at Vassar for more than 20 years, but became a more visible presence on campus when students of color took over Main Building in 1991 to demand what we now know as the African American, Black, Latino/a, Asian American, Native American (ALANA) Center.
Velez feels that ““[BSU is] a place for open dialogue that deals with contemporary issues that the black as well as minority communities are facing today. So while we’re talking about any contemporary issue we kind of take a step back and see what were the socio-economic influences that got us here today.”
Who can join BSU?
“It’s open to the entire Vassar campus. Anyone who is sympathetic to the goals of BSU and understands what we want to do or if you just want to find out, then come on. Everyone is welcome in the ALANA Center, and we’re not exclusionary at all,” said Sosa.
February is Black History Month, and BSU, along with the Counsel of Black Seniors and other student organizations, have many activities planned to pay tribute to those who have fought for racial equality in the past and those who continue to fight today.
But although most people are conscious that it is Black History Month, Sosa said that it takes more than a shallow awareness to truly comprehend its purpose.
“I hate to say it, but I think that a lot of people expect BSU to carry the weight of Black History Month, or [expect] the Department of Africana Studies [to] carry the weight of that, which I wish wasn’t the truth,” said Sosa. She continued that it is important to “pay tribute to past people who have triumphed over the tribulations that they’ve gone through, dealing with black struggles. And it’s our duty to make sure that the idea of equality is held true.”
On Feb. 6 at 8 p.m., there was a reading entitled “The Fire Next Time: Writings and Speeches in Black Intellectual History.” Students read excerpts from the writings of Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X, Amiie Baraca, Frederick Douglas, and many more.
From Feb. 21-23 in the Shiva Center, BSU, in collaboration with Counsel of Black Seniors and Philaletheis, is putting on a performance of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 choreopoem “For Color Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” The choreopoem, which is a poem or series of poems choreographed to music, is composed of 20 poems spoken by nameless women solely referred to as colors, six representing the colors of the rainbow and the seventh as the color brown. The play depicts the struggles of the modern black female in the United States.
On Feb. 27, Peniel E. Joseph, a scholar in African American History as well as an author and activist will be giving a lecture on “The Black Movement and American History: Rethinking Black Freedom Struggles and Democracy.” It will be held in Taylor Auditorium at 7 p.m. and is hosted in collaboration with the Africana Studies, History, Sociology, American Culture, Political Science and Women’s Studies Departments, as well as the Dean’s Office.
If you’re interested in attending a BSU meeting but are a bit hesitant, Velez encourages you to give it a try. “People should come check out BSU...There tends to be this whole mystification about the ALANA Center and affiliated organizations [that] white students aren’t allowed...but it’s not true. I’d love to see more of the Vassar community come to our meetings,” said Velez.
BSU general body meetings are held every Wed. at 8 p.m. in the ALANA Center.”

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Importance
1
The College Court | Playing through the pain of sports: Are student-athletes masochists?
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Dec 19, 2007
“Emma Carmichael Columnist
Somewhere just outside of Hoboken, N.J. on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 27, I reached an astonishing conclusion, one that nearly made me choke on my Wendy’s chicken sandwich and one that will surely break psychological ground in just a matter of weeks. I, Emma Carmichael, am what I hereafter classify an “athletic masochist.”
Let me explain my reasoning and the specifics of this landmark term. That Tuesday, I found myself on a stuffy Coach bus at about 12:30 in the morning. Three hours earlier I had played 35 minutes in a basketball game against Stevens Institute of Technology, during which I had been thrown to the floor more times than I could count by players that could probably bench my body weight. I had dalmatian-like bruises dotting my upper arms, and a suspicious pain crawling up my left foot and into my calf. I was eating a barely-cooked piece of meat from Wendy’s (definitely not free-range chicken), and a large glob of the mysterious orange-tinted sauce had just dripped onto my urban theory reading. I had Intro to Psychology in eight-and-a-half hours and I had yet to crack open my textbook that week. And to top it all off, we had lost by 32 points. It was, needless to say, a low point.
There seems to be only one explanation for my resigned acceptance of this kind of lifestyle: athletic masochism. I am a masochistic athlete. I derive pleasure and satisfaction from pain and humiliation. Surely this is the reason that I surrender my October break to play basketball for five hours a day during double sessions, take only 48 hours off for Thanksgiving and during Winter Break move my belongings into Noyes for two weeks, where I live off of PB&Js and canned soup. Obviously this is the explanation for why I consent to run “Sweet 16s” in practice every week—16 sprints from sideline to sideline in one minute and five seconds.
There’s no other way to rationalize it when I’m bent over in pain, nearly spewing my ACDC wrap onto the hardwood after running a suicide, or when I got up at 4:30 a.m. for early morning practices last year. I, and all college athletes, must get some sick satisfaction out of this torture. We are masochists.
Once I arrived back on campus, I set out to test my hypothesis. I approached my fellow student-athletes and asked them about the lowest point of their collegiate career. I didn’t have to look too far.
Senior Elise Okusami is my teammate on the women’s basketball team; she averages 9.6 points per game and is leading the team in steals this season. She is also the starting fly on the women’s rugby team, which is headed to the USA Rugby Sweet 16 national tournament this spring, and led the team with 13 tries this fall. She told me about the injury she suffered on Oct. 20 of this year, when playing rugby against Radcliffe (Harvard) in Cambridge.
“I bruised my ribs in that game, and the athletic trainers said the only way to heal them was to rest,” said Okusami. “But it was during playoff time, so I had to play. We had two games in one day and in one of them I ended up getting stuck under the bottom of this pile of people and someone was lying right on that spot. So I was killed for a few days.”
Nevertheless, Okusami played through the pain that afternoon in a loss to Army and a win over University of Massachusetts. “I went home that night and laid down and couldn’t get back up or turn over in bed or anything,” she said. “But rugby’s really not that bad.”
I also talked to Shannon Fuhr, a junior on my team who has dealt with back problems since high school. This season she has been forced to watch from the sidelines as she gets MRI after MRI and travels to consultations with various chiropractors.
“This all really hit me when I would have to ice my back all night all season long, just to be able to sit for the hours I needed to set aside to get my work done every night,” said Fuhr.
Despite her injuries, Fuhr started and scored 4.5 points per game last season and, along with Okusami, was named to the Liberty League All-Academic Team.
In order to prove this was not a women’s basketball-specific masochism, I talked with junior Tyler Bellstrom, who plays infield and pitches for the baseball team.
“Last spring, I pulled an all-nighter for a take-home midterm. I didn’t sleep at all. Then I
boarded a bus at 6 a.m. that morning for a six-hour bus ride to St. Lawrence. But I had to write another paper on the bus,” Bellstrom said.
“We played a double-header at St. Lawrence that day and lost both,” he added. “We had the tying run on second and we hit into a disputed double-play where a guy made a questionable diving catch. I got doubled off the base. Then we drove six hours back to Vassar and I had class the next day.”
Clearly, this psychological condition is ubiquitous amongst college athletes. We sacrifice countless hours of sleep, our vacations, sometimes our grades, usually our social lives and definitely our bodies just to play our respective sports. We put ourselves through immense physical pain and agony to finish a sprint or a lap or to get back on defense. And yet, we still play.
I asked Okusami to list the injuries she’s endured in four years as a two-sport collegiate athlete. She paused for a long while and then rattled them off.
“Chronic tendonitis—but that’s treatable, it’s fine—a sprained shoulder, a stinger, a sprained sternoclavicular joint, a broken pinkie, my bruised ribs, peroneal tendonitis, a few hyper-extended elbows I think, probably a few concussions. And one time I got poked in the eye and it bled—that was kind of gross. And besides that there were more minor things like calcified bruises and a couple black eyes. But none of those were a big deal.”
Maybe it’s not a “big deal” because we still love to play. It’s possible, I suppose, that we aren’t really masochistic. That we don’t get some kind of perverse satisfaction out of our injuries and our sacrifices and our exhaustion. Maybe it’s more that we love to compete, we love being on teams and we love representing Vassar. But sometimes, as on that Tuesday night in Hoboken, we just need little reminders of solidarity in this twisted rationale.
Emma Carmichael ’10 is an urban studies major and a member of the Vassar women’s basketball team. This semester she is editorializing on issues in all divisions of collegiate-level athletics.”

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Importance
1
Peanuts gang experiences rocky teenage years
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Nov 27, 2007
“Schroeder and Charlie Brown are reimagined as Beethoven (played by Ben Davis '10, left) and CB (Dan Gilberg '10) in the Philalletheis play, "Dog Sees God."
J. Reeves/ The Miscellany News
Marcella Veneziale Staff Writer
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters has hit adolescence with unexpected results in “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” a new play presented by Philaletheis. With good-natured humor, the original comic strip chronicled everyday childhood life through the eyes of Charlie Brown, Linus, Sally, Lucy and Schroeder. But in “Dog Sees God,” the cute kids have grown up into teenagers with a whole spectrum of issues such as eating disorders, psychiatric and drug problems, and suicide.
Director Caitlin Crisp ’09 proposed this production to the Philaletheis board after missing a chance to see the play performed Off Broadway. It has been staged several times between 2004 and 2005, starring actors such as Michelle Trachtenberg, Anna Paquin and John Gallagher Jr. of the musical “Spring Awakening.” Different productions have picked up awards, including Best Overall Production at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival.
Crisp explained why many audiences have found the play so engaging. “It’s interesting to see such an iconic figure [as Charlie Brown], who was never really perfect…grown up, about 16 years old, trying to get by as best as [he] can,” she said. The production magnifies the common problems one encounters during the teenage years that are universal to almost all audiences.
In the play, Schulz’s characters have changed drastically from their perennial youthfulness in his comic strip. Despite such changes, Crisp maintains that the original character traits are still discernible. “A lot of aspects of the original characters are recognizable, but they all have at least one huge transformation,” she said.
Lucy, who once doled out psychiatric advice for a nickel, is herself a patient in a psychiatric hospital in the play. In the meantime, Charlie’s sister Sally has gone goth. Pigpen, now known as Matt, is an uptight germaphobe and homophobe. Marcy and Tricia, formerly Marcie and Peppermint Patty, have evolved into alcoholic Barbies, while Charlie’s best friend Linus, now Van, is a stereotypical pothead.
According to Crisp, it is precisely the play’s comedic tone that makes it bearable to watch the seemingly insurmountable problems. “Because of the comedy, it will be more digestible,” said Crisp. “It makes it more relatable, that the audience isn’t being preached to.” Ultimately, the play lends a sense of hope to the group’s struggles. “As teenagers grappling with issues, the message is that you will get through it,” said Crisp.”

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Campus responds to noose in Jewett
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Nov 27, 2007
“Courtesy of A. Dempsey
Students, administrators and faculty are discussing this noose, fashioned out of a window shade cord. It has supposedly been hanging for at least two years on the sixth floor of Jewett, but was addressed only last week. At a table in College Center students were invited to inscribe their feelings on a mural. D. Gordon/ The Miscellany News
Chloe McConnell Guest Writer
On Thursday, Oct. 25, a Residential Operations Center attendant found the drawstring cord of a window shade on the sixth floor of Jewett House fashioned as a noose. The Campus Response team and Security removed the noose and investigated the situation. So far, the investigation has been inconclusive and no allegations have been made.
Jewett House President Alexandria Dempsey ’09 helped with her dorm’s response. “From what I understand, the noose has been there for at least two years, and no one had said anything until now,”said Dempsey. “We do not know if someone made the noose as an act of racism, as a sign of suicide or self harm or if it was simply someone fiddling with the window string. Although intent has a large influence on how we interpret what happened, we have to understand that the impact it has had on students has been quite large.”
The hangman’s noose has long been one of the most evocative representations of racism in America, a reminder that thousands of African Americans died at the hands of lynch mobs from the end of the Civil War well into the 20th century.
On Friday, Oct. 26, President Catharine Bond Hill sent an e-mail to the student body that read, “Let me take this opportunity to urge everyone, especially in the midst of Halloween, to be aware and considerate of how our use of images and the meanings of our words, expressions and actions can affect our individual and collective sense of community.”
Nooses have recently been used as symbols of racial attacks at other educational institutions around the country. At Jena High School in Louisiana, three white students hung nooses on the “white tree,” informally designated as a gathering place for white students, after an African American student asked to sit underneath it. Six African American teenagers were accused of beating a white teenager soon after the event. The charges brought against the teenagers sparked protests across the country, as supporters believed the arrests to be racially discriminatory. On the Vassar campus, Hip Hop 101 raised awareness of the Jena 6 through an open-mic event.
At Columbia University’s Teachers College, a noose was placed on the doorknob of an African American professor’s office, and student protests ensued. At Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, the school’s principal received a noose accompanied by a racially charged letter.
“Several students have communicated discomfort in the dorm due to any possible racist intentions, and because of this, we wanted to act immediately,” said Dempsey. “This is our home, and we want to make it a safe place. No one should feel unsafe in their home: It is simply not right.”
In response to the incident in Jewett, the Office of Residential Life and the Jewett house team planned a mandatory all-house meeting on Sunday. Faculty members such as Jewett House Fellow and Assistant Professor of English Eve Dunbar and Dean of the College Judy Jackson also attended. The meeting included an open forum for discussion and education regarding the unacceptability of prejudice and the importance of addressing issues as a community. The topics of the discussion included student and faculty perspectives on racism and suicide.
“The conversation became quite emotional for several students, as the topics discussed are sensitive issues,” said Dempsey. “We wanted to get people talking about this situation, and we accomplished that.”
Jewett Resident Rachel Pick ’10 said she felt everyone at the meeting was wary of fully discussing the most pressing issues. “I was very disappointed by how carefully the contributing students avoided broaching the subject of race,” she said.
Following the meeting, Jewett hosted an informal “Unity Jam” open to the entire campus—the overriding theme of the event was, “Not In Our House…Not On Our Campus!”—during which students expressed their reactions to the noose by writing their thoughts on poster boards. These included: “I feel confused and afraid,” “I’m frustrated that this happened” and “I’m angry when people avoid discussion of race for any reason.”
On Monday, the Jewett house team tabled in the College Center to distribute stickers. “This is not just a dorm issue, but a campus issue,” said Dempsey, while relating it to previous incidents on the Vassar campus concerning racially intimidating symbols. These include three incidents of swastikas being drawn on the walls of dorms: in Lathrop House in 2005, in Raymond House in 2006 and in Main Building last year. Each incident sparked animated responses from students who organized events to discuss the hate graffiti.
Associate Director for Campus Life and the African American/Black, Latino, Asian/Asian American, Native American (ALANA) Center Greta Franklin was pleased that the entire community was being included in discussions. “The key to addressing the emotions, thoughts, perceptions and symbolic messages that a noose invokes is to address them as an institution,” she said.
“The ALANA Center, which is a part of the Campus Life Office, will work in conjunction with other offices and departments to develop dialogues and programs that will continue to support, assist and educate the Vassar campus community about this difficult issue.”
“Images of hate have no place on our campus,” said Hill. “This incident is confusing in part because of what we don’t know. Understanding intent would clearly make a response easier, but Vassar must work against even the ignorance of, or insensitivity to, the significance of such an image to members of our community.””

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Popular blog has people spilling their secrets
by The Miscellany News | Since 1866
Nov 27, 2007
“One of many secrets Frank Warren has received.
PostSecret.blogspot.com
Sarah Siegel Life Editor
With more than 1,000 postcards flooding his mailbox every week, Frank Warren probably gets more mail than Santa Claus. Warren is neither a rock star nor a senator; he runs the meteorically popular Web site PostSecret, a community art project in which strangers send him secrets, which he posts each Sunday.
“I think it’s kind of like that old story—you can tell a stranger on a train things you can’t tell your mom or your best friend,” said Warren. From the fearful (“I’m afraid there are no surprises left.”) to the inspirational (“If you were waiting for a sign...This is it.”), the secrets focus on both the traumatic and the mundane. Asked whether it matters to him if they are true, Warren explained that “all the postcards are works of art,” and even “if they aren’t true for the person who sends them in, they might be true for the people that come to the Web site.”
Warren frequently posts readers’ e-mailed responses to the postcards, giving the site the feel of an anonymous dialogue. Some readers share the cards’ sentiments, others offer resources and counseling for those secrets that betray thoughts of suicide or other psychological distress. In 2006, the National Mental Health Association presented Warren with a special award for havin “moved the cause of mental health forward.”
Erica Burkland ’07, now working towards a Masters in social work at the University of Pennsylvania, may use PostSecret-style projects in her clinical group work. “It’s a good converging point for hundreds of thousands of people to realize that others share their feelings,” said Burkland.
Burkland has sent in three secrets of her own. “After sending the second secret I did talk about it with other people,” said Burkland, “but that first step of sending it off is important. It’s cathartic.”
Since beginning the project with a museum show in 2004, the Web site has received more than 100 million hits. With dozens of the obligatory Facebook fan clubs, a new community Web site where users can post video secrets, and hundreds of spin-off projects (which Warren encourages), PostSecret has also just released its fourth book, A Lifetime of Secrets . The new book focuses on the lifecycle of secrets—“the ways we change and the surprising ways we stay the same.”
To see the PostSecret project, go to postsecret.blogspot.com .”

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