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by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“Garrett named Cornell’s 13th president
Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Southern California, will be Cornell’s 13th and first female president, the Cornell Board of Trustees announced Tuesday.
Garrett will succeed David Skorton on July 1, 2015. Skorton, who in March announced plans to relocate to Washington to become secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, will continue serving as president through June.
Garrett received a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Oklahoma in 1985 and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1988. She has held multiple professorial positions in law, including at the University of Chicago, Harvard and UVA, the Ithaca Journal reported, and has held her current position at USC since 2010.
“Cornell is fundamentally shaped by its founders’ lasting vision of a university built on egalitarianism, inclusion and public engagement, as well as the breadth and diversity of ways in which this vision continues to be expressed across the university,” Garrett wrote in a statement to the Cornell community posted on the university’s website.
“I could not be more certain that we have found the most perfect person in Beth Garrett,” said Robert Harrison ’76, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, at Tuesday’s press conference.
A 19-person presidential search committee selected Garrett out of a pool of roughly 200 candidates.
Drug informant policy at UMass criticized after student death report
The campus police department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst came under scrutiny this weekend after the Boston Globe published an article revealing that a student informant for UMass police died of a heroin overdose last October.
The student, a 20-year-old junior at the time whom the Globe referred to by his middle name, Logan, was caught selling LSD and molly by UMass police in 2012. Instead of suspending Logan and notifying his parents, police offered to keep the drug offenses a secret in exchange for Logan’s help apprehending other drug dealers on campus, the Globe reported.
When Logan was caught — close to a year before his death — UMass police found an unused hypodermic needle in the student’s room, a possible indicator of a drug problem.
UMass announced Monday that it will evaluate the university’s confidential drug informant policy and possibly altering it to require informants seek help for drug problems, the Globe reported.
UMass said in a statement that the review would analyze whether the program “that deters distribution of illegal, lethal drugs” could continue effectively with “a mandatory referral to an addiction specialist or notification to a parent” for the informants, the Globe reported.
Man apprehended in UVA student abduction case, linked to other crimes
A man charged with abduction with intent to defile in the case of missing 18-year-old UVA student Hannah Graham may be linked to other crimes near UVA’s Charlottesville campus, Fox News reported Tuesday.
Forensic evidence found in the investigation of Graham’s abduction might connect 32-year-old Jesse Matthew to the 2009 murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who was last seen alive in the same area.
Graham disappeared after attending an off-campus party Sept. 13, Fox News reported. Evidence, including clothing, found during a search of Matthew’s home “provided a significant break in this case with a new forensic link for state police investigators to pursue” in Harrington’s death, Virginia State Police announced in a statement Monday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had previously announced that DNA belonging to Harrington’s attacker matched DNA found in the investigation of a 2005 sexual assault, Fox News reported. This evidence could implicate Matthew in all three crimes. The FBI would not comment on its investigation.
Virginia State Police named Matthew a person of interest in Graham’s abduction Sept. 20, after which Matthew fled to Texas. Police apprehended and returned Matthew to Virginia, where he could potentially face a sentence of life in prison, Sept. 26.”
by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“An artistic endeavor doubles as a civics lesson in “Empowering a Generation,” a photographic essay by Liza Yeager ’17. Yeager created the work as part of Storytellers for Good, a program with the Swearer Center of Public Service that highlights stories of social innovation through multimedia journalism. The exhibit opened Thursday night at the Brown/RISD Hillel and tells the story of the organization Generation Citizen, whichpromotes civic awareness by providing a specially designed curriculum for students in low-income schools across four states, said Scott Warren ’09, Generation Citizen’s co-founder.
“I try to tell the stories my subject thinks is the most important, because the thing that motivates the people in my stories would be the thing that’s most interesting for a broader community to understand,” Yeager said.
The photo series, comprising a slate of pictures with corresponding anecdotes and elaborations, captures the dynamics of Generation Citizen’s classes and outlines the program’s operations through the lens of on-site experiences.
The series opens with a photo of two adjacent whiteboards. One is filled with a list of intentionally doctrinal and dry phrases like “community issues,” “root cause” and “goal.” The other one is scribbled with concrete details and practical courses of action: “We will create a field day. By providing safe and fun activities and positive adult role models, we will reduce gang violence.”
Warren started the organization after observing “a number of emerging democracies” throughout the globe. He learned the “power and fragility of democracy,” he said, adding that American democracy is no exception to this pattern.
Generation Citizen has identified the manifold problems with this, including the lukewarm attitudes of younger generations towards the democracatic process, ineffective civic education and existing inequalities in education and participation, he said.
The organization operates on the model of action civics, in which “young people learn about the critical process for taking actions on issues that they care about,” Warren said. “Just as students learn math by doing math and learn science through science experiments, our students learn politics by doing politics.”
Generation Citizen conceived multiple strategies to rally against the dire situation, such as prioritizing low-income students and students of color and bringing in college-aged volunteers as teaching assistants to better relate to students, he said.
Yeager said she attended several such classes in Providence to capture moments for her essay.
Warren praised the project. “It’s inspiring. It’s helpful,” he said. “We are able to use it to show people, giving them the conception of what we do.”
Yeager connected with Generation Citizen as a fellow of the Storytellers for Good program, whose mission is to “serve the community, nation and world through innovative, thoughtful approaches to social change,” according to the Swearer Center’s website.
Yeager said the program gave her a chance to use her photography and writing skills for a meaningful cause. The on-campus service community fostered by Storytellers for Good provides Yeager and fellow students a platform on which to tell stories of social impact.
Storytellers for Good was established in 2013, said Program Director Alexandra Braunstein. It stems from the idea that “stories can spark meaningful connections and relationships and ideas for social change,” she said, adding that the program is “about students learning from another as much as they are from the support and resources we give them.”
Braunstein and storyteller fellows meet weekly for multimedia training or editorial deliberations. Though the center helps connect fellows with students, faculty and alums, the fellows claim total autonomy over the narrative and fabric of their stories, Braunstein said.
Until now, Storytellers for Good has had nine fellows due to its selective admissions process and limited resources. But Braunstein said the program, which is still in its incipient stages, has promising potential. This year, the center offers technical workshops open to all students on campus, and an increasing number of alums are approaching the center for collaborations.
“I want to find a way to involve more students,” Braunstein said. “This intersection of multimedia and social justice is really complex and rich and there’s many directions we can go.””
by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“Airborne Toxic Event | The Met | Oct. 5
Fun fact: The band’s name is an homage to Don DeLillo’s postmodernist novel, “White Noise.” Pretentious? Sure. But the literary reference fits with the band’s reputation for evocative lyrics, one of the features that garnered critical acclaim for their eponymous 2008 debut album. The anthemic track “Sometime Around Midnight,” which appears on that album, ranked as iTunes’ number one alternative song for that year. Though the band’s atmosphere generally hovers in the realm of the melancholy, its fusion of string instruments, syncopated guitar riffs and tight percussive hooks keeps it stylistically versatile.
Norah Jones | The Met | Oct. 16
She’s best remembered for “Come Away With Me,” the 2002 debut album that won her five Grammy Awards — a record for female artists matched only by Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keyes. But the music the singer-songwriter has put out since this triumph has evolved along an unexpected trajectory. The mellow, jazz-influenced downtempo of her earlier material has transitioned into more experimental territory as of her most recent releases. What remains constant is her rich vocal talent, expressed through a trademark grit-and-velvet croon.
Jimmy Eat World | Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel | Oct. 18
It’s hard to believe that the all-American boy band, who may have been one of the defining soundtracks of our middle school years, is now celebrating its 20th year of high-energy emo-pop. In the spirit of the band’s longevity, its concerts consistently deliver a blend of old favorites and new selections, allowing audiences to revisit youthful rites of passage from which they never really recovered. Recent reviews have praised their punked-out rendition of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra | The VETS | Oct. 18
This year’s eight-part “Classical Series” will bring in world-class guest artists in a celebration of the orchestra’s 70th season. This month’s performance features the widely acclaimed orchestral director Daniel Hege as its guest conductor. Hege, who has served as musical director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, is known for his exhilarating interpretations of classical selections. Among the works included in this month’s concert are Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture,” Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”
The Glitch Mob | Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel | Oct. 28
The three-piece electronic band, which performed at Spring Weekend in 2012, brings its vigorous hooks, layered synthesizers and vacillating tempos back to Providence. Rising from the basslines of the Los Angeles electronic dance music scene, the Glitch Mob established a name for itself with its second album, “Love Death Immortality,” which was released this February and scored the number one spot on Billboard’s “Dance/Electronic Songs” chart.”
by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“Last weekend, the men’s water polo team triumphed over rivals Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology thanks in large part to Nick Deaver ’15. He led the Bears’ offensive onslaught en route to victory by scoring four goals in each game. Due to his spectacular performances in the pool, Deaver has been selected as The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: How long have you been playing water polo and what got you into it?
I started as a swimmer when I was around three. My dad got me really focused into swimming. I didn’t particularly like swimming at all, but I got enough coaching and lessons, and my dad pushed me hard enough so I got pretty good at it. Then, when I was 8 years old, a water polo camp was started in my area and I decided to give it a shot. It was a pretty tough camp, but I liked combining ball sports with hand-eye coordination and swimming. So, I sort of had an advantage because I’d been swimming for so long compared to the other kids playing water polo. Then, there was a club team being started in my neighborhood and I decided to see what it was like. It ended up being one of the more fun sports I had ever played. It was new and exciting and had not been around in our area for long. I also wanted to do something different than what my dad did — he was a pitcher — and I wanted to play a sport he knew nothing about.
Why did you choose to come to Brown?
Originally, I was looking on the West Coast schools for water polo and swimming. I figured I could use water polo or swimming to get into a decent college. Late in the game, I sent an email to my coach (Felix Mercado). He said he would send some guy to watch me play. He came out and watched me play, and I had a spectacular weekend. I thought Brown was a cool school, it has an open curriculum. Also, I really wanted to throw myself out onto the East Coast, do something different and put myself outside my comfort zone.
How is it being one of only a few upperclassmen on the team?
At first, it seemed like a challenging position to be in because we have six freshmen and it is (the seniors’) last chance to win the East Coast title. We have had arguably the best team on the East Coast the last three years. So, it was challenging because I’m one of these main factors, along with the other seniors, who have to bring the team together. We got a new assistant coach this year, and he’s brought a lot of experience as well. I’m just happy to be one of the seniors. It’s a tough job, it’s like a 40-hour week job, but I have had a great time getting to know the freshmen and the team.
How do you think you’ve grown as a player since your freshman year?
I think I’ve learned a lot over the last four years. My patience has grown enormously over the years. I’m talking about my patience dealing with referees, best friends and teammates, coaches and whoever else is involved. I was sort of a hothead coming into the program. My attitude was a little sour in the beginning, but I’ve learned to correct that in the last few years with good coaching and having to play cohesively with my teammates. It’s become a lot less about me, a lot more about the team.
What do you think are your greatest accomplishments in your playing career?
There were moments that I’ve had where I’ve been playing the whole game and I’m totally exhausted and we needed a goal to go ahead. I’m thinking of two games: my freshman year against Bucknell and last year versus Navy, where I’ve had no energy left, dug deep for it and put away a goal in the last second to win those games.
What’s your outlook on the rest of the season, and how far do you think the team can go?
I’m incredibly excited about the potential of the team for the season. We have all kinds of talent and personality on the squad, which makes me excited to go to practice each day. It’s about three things: We’re working our (expletive) off in practice every day so we’re in great shape, we have got talent and skill and we have great people on the team. Practices are only getting harder. The coaches are keeping their feet on the gas pedal and with that kind of shape, we can go all the way.”
by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“For eight years, Cara Marie Duskin — new executive chef of Lola’s Cantina on South Water Street — has been a vegetarian. Since the beginning of her tenure at the restaurant, she has worked to revamp its menu, incorporating recipes within a range of dietary descriptions, from vegan to gluten-free in addition to traditional meat-based Mexican fare. She said she hopes that a half-vegetarian, half-omnivorous table can leave the new Lola’s “feeling satisfied and like they’ve had a healthy meal without having to compromise taste.” In this first installment of a new column, “At the table,” The Herald sat down with Duskin to discuss her food philosophy and her history growing up in the kitchen.
Herald: What’s your earliest memory in the kitchen?
Cara Marie Duskin: Food was huge in my family. I remember growing up with my (grandmother) making all kinds of food from scratch, and since I was tall enough to reach the counter, I would help out. It was such a natural part of my childhood. I always felt at home in the kitchen.
I also remember my dad used to make steak all the time, and he would always burn it. I think that might have something to do with my being vegetarian now.
Herald: What was your go-to college food or meal?
Duskin: I worked at a pizza place in college, so for me, it’s leftover pizza, hot and cold. In college, I lived off pizza, veggies and hummus. Dorm cooking is hard and those mini fridges are tiny — nothing will fit in there. I didn’t spend so much time in the dorm, so for me it was all leftovers.
Herald: What’s your favorite thing to cook and why?
Duskin: Pasta all day. I love to throw a little pasta in the pot with some garlic, oil and fresh veggies. I can get home at 11 p.m. and just put that together and it completely satisfies me. I must eat pasta about four or five times a week.
Sometimes when I want to test new things out at the restaurant, I’ll raid my fridge, bring some stuff in from the farmer’s market and get feedback on it from the staff.
Herald: What’s your spirit food?
Duskin: Garlic, definitely garlic. You can put garlic on anything, and it will instantly make it better. It’s so versatile and has so many different dimensions and applications. If you opened up my veins, I would probably bleed garlic.
Herald: What makes Providence a good food city?
Duskin: In Naples, Florida, where I’m from and where I worked before, the focus of the food there is on hospitality. So it’s a lot about getting the fanciest imported ingredients. I’ve lived in Providence for six years now, and it’s the complete opposite. People here buy from farmer’s markets and grow fresh herbs. It was here that I really got exposure to the local, farm-to-table mindset. There’s so much care that goes into that, and people are so proud of being able to source their ingredients, and so proud of Rhode Island, and it’s my favorite thing about food here.
I have never been so excited to go out and eat. For me, with food, it’s not about how much things cost but the amount of care put into each ingredient. And that’s one thing we do here—I make the queso fresco from scratch and put it into as many dishes that it can work with. Ingredients really make the food.
Herald: How would you describe your food philosophy?
Duskin: I’m a great multi-tasker, and I think part of that comes from being a mom — I have a five year old son. In the kitchen, you have to start one task, go on to the next and go back to whatever’s on the burner. I’m most comfortable with that kind of organized chaos.
My philosophy is to care about every dish, every ingredient individually. With that care and that attention to cooking and seasoning everything just right on its own, when that comes together, that’s when the magic happens. And at the end of the day, if the ingredient is not cared for the way it should be, it won’t be as good.
Herald: How does food fit into a larger conversation about culture?
Duskin: I think food really has such a strong potential to bring people together. That’s what got me into cooking. I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else, and I will probably do this job until the day I can’t.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
About the recipe:
I came up with this recipe when I remembered my grandma’s quiche. She used to make this great, big quiche sometimes, and so much went into it. But my dad had this take on it where he would make coffee mug quiches. He would just put a couple of eggs and some vegetables into a coffee mug, mix it together, microwave it, and it would be delicious.
I wanted to come up with something that would be a real meal. So when you have a few friends over to your room, or a study group, you can put this together and throw it in the microwave. It’s also pretty substantial, which is not the case for a lot of dorm food. And if you have leftovers, you can just recook them in the microwave and they’re still pretty good.
Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie
2 cups canned shredded chicken breast (available in the canned foods aisle)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup of red onions, diced
½ cup of diced jalapeno peppers (available in canned foods aisle)
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 small orange bell pepper, sliced
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided into two one-cup increments
1 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 burrito-sized flour tortillas
You’ll need a nine-inch pie pan to make this — preferably not aluminum disposable. We don’t want to burn down the dorms.
In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, one cup of the cheese, sour cream, cilantro, cumin, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
Cut one of the tortillas into one inch pieces, bite-sized. Combine with chicken mixture.
Place other tortilla in the bottom of the pie pan to serve as the pie crust. Spoon chicken mixture into crust evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the top. Place in microwave and cook about five to six minutes.
Carefully take pan out of microwave, uncover and sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese. Place back in the microwave and cook about a minute and a half until the cheese is melted. Remove and allow to set about 1 minute before serving. You’ll be able to serve about five of your friends and yourself with this.”
by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“Twenty-two years in, the Providence Latin America Film Festival is leading with its typical selection of films that — atypically — directly confronts such permeating societal topics as religion, gender and cultural disparity.
But underneath the art-house sheen, the films serve a dual purpose, celebrating Latin American cinema for the already initiated and opening the eyes of those with a Hollywood-centric worldview.
Responding to its diverse surroundings, the festival — which runs through Sunday and includes up to eight screenings a day spread out between Bryant University, the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus and the Warwick Public Library — adopts the unofficial goal of “exposing anyone who is open-minded about anything, about the art of film, to see the shading of the Latino experience,” said Tony Aguilar, executive director of PLAFF.
The festival begins with “Esclavo de Dios,” or, for those reading the accompanying subtitles, “God’s Slave.” Recently returning from the international festival circuit, and — like all of PLAFF’s offerings — unreleased in American theaters, “Esclavo de Dios” looks at a young Syrian boy who is raised by the same Islamic extremists who killed his family.
Anointed a martyr and sent to Venezuela to blend in and build a life until the opportune moment to fulfill his mission as a suicide bomber, he struggles between the life he has grown to love and the religious call he believes he faces.
The film juxtaposes this outsider South American experience with that of another minority — an Israeli Mossad agent, native of one of South America’s largest Jewish communities in Buenos Aires, who is bent on stopping the terrorist attack.
Another film with contemporary relevance is “Mujeres con Pelotas,” translating to the double-entendre “Women with Balls.” The documentary focuses on the prevailing chauvinistic attitude that attempts to stop young girls and women from pursuing the Argentine national pastime of soccer, Aguilar said.
Rounding out the genres is the romantic comedy “Corazon de Leon” (“Lion’s Heart”), which, following an emotional connection formed via telephone conversation, pits a tall woman against a very short man on a blind date and subsequently examines the preconceived notions of love that human interaction often has to overcome.
No overall theme encompasses the nine films that will be on view, except that they are all produced in Latin American countries. The basic premise results in films running the gamut of themes and visual styles, Aguilar said. In past years, PLAFF has imposed overarching themes, such as films from a specific country or films directed by women, but the submission process has made this unfeasible, he said.
“We don’t want to be constrained by forcing it that way. I want you, whoever you are, wherever you are from, to come out of the theater saying, ‘Wow, that was a good film,’” he said.
PLAFF joins a Latin American film festival in Boston as one of two in New England, providing access to films viewers would otherwise be unable to find locally, Aguilar said.
Aguilar said though the term “festival” implies a celebration of something familiar, PLAFF takes on an advocacy role, becoming more of a “demystifying” process. At least half the audience is from the East Side of Providence, an area with less of a Latin American influence than across the rest of the city. Local colleges and universities also form a large contingent, he said. For such an English-speaking audience, the experience of a Latin American film may be a new one, something PLAFF attempts to capitalize on.
“People perceive Latin American films as these dusty films from the 1950s and ’60s. They don’t somehow think that these are current, vibrant, edge-of-your-seat, Quentin Tarantino-type films that are going to knock your socks off,” he said.
Exposure can challenge preconceived cultural notions, reminding U.S. audiences that “there’s a big world just south of the border,” he said.
The festival concludes with juried selections of the best film, actor, actress, director and cinematography, chosen by a professor of Latin American studies at Bryant University and two film producers, one of whom was featured in last year’s festival.
The jury selection shows that “what we’re doing is not to show a bunch of films and laugh about it. No. There’s rigorous procedures that go with it,” Aguilar said.”
by Brown Daily HeraldOct 04, 2014
“Though still winless, the football team is drawing confidence from its strong showing against Harvard ahead of Saturday’s matchup against the University of Rhode Island.
The Bears (0-2, 0-1 Ivy) looked like a different football team when hosting the Crimson Saturday, making plays on offense and defense that they had failed to against Georgetown in the season’s first game. Four turnovers against the Hoyas became one against Harvard, five penalties became three, and three points scored became 14.
But a loss remained a loss, as the Crimson scored twice in a dominant fourth quarter to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 22-14 win. Bruno gave the defending Ivy League champions all they could handle, and though it doesn’t show in their record, the Bears are feeling better about their season than it might seem.
“We definitely took some big steps in the right direction,” said quarterback Marcus Fuller ’15.
“I think we really demonstrated to Harvard and everyone that we’re a physical team,” said linebacker Xavier Russo ’15. “But we still lost the game.”
Head Coach Phil Estes P’18 emphasized minimizing mistakes after a sloppy loss in the nation’s capital and said the team “did a good job with that” against Harvard. But strong play aside, the coach and players wanted more from the team.
“We’ve got to get a win,” Estes said.
Fuller described the same feeling as wanting to “get the monkey off our back.”
Enter the Bears’ cross-state rivals, the URI Rams (0-4). The two teams battle every year for the Governor’s Cup, a trophy that will be awarded for the 99th time this weekend. Bruno has held it for the past three seasons and has dominated the all-time series. The Bears are 70-26-2 all-time against the Rams, including a 36-1 mark in the competition’s first 37 iterations from 1910 to 1951.
Lopsided history aside, any game with a trophy carries significance. Russo described the Cup as “a big deal in a lot of guys’ minds, kind of like the state championship.”
“There’s something tangible that you get,” Estes said. “That’s the one thing that makes it different from all the other games.”
But it won’t be the 1910 teams suiting up on Saturday, and the Bears are ready for a fight. The winless Rams “have something to prove,” Fuller said. “I expect a hard-fought battle.”
While URI may not be as exciting a rival as Harvard, the Bears are having no trouble motivating themselves for their upcoming game. Beyond obtaining the season’s first win and keeping a trophy, Russo described the importance of getting excited for every single game. “As a football player, what you have to be able to do is get yourself pumped up for any game,” he said. “When it comes Nov. 22, you want to have the best record you can have, and that means you’ve got to play really good games.”
In the end, whether the Bears are able to pull out the win depends on how much they can continue to improve.
“We need to continue to develop,” Fuller said, adding that he wants to see “similar growth” to the improvements the team made between the season’s first two games.
“We’ve got to be a better team together,” Estes said.
“We’ve got to score more than 14 points,” he added, specifically highlighting the offense. “We’ve got to do more with the opportunities that we have.”
“It’s about executing the simple things,” he added. “Do the little things right, and the big things happen.”
Estes and Russo both displayed optimism about the outcome of the game — “My expectation is that we’re going to go in, continue to play physical football, play our responsibilities, and come out with a W,” Estes said.
“I expect us to win this game,” Russo said. “I expect everyone on the team to play like they played versus Harvard, and I know for a fact that if we do that, we’re going to beat URI.”
“It’s a big game for us because we’re 0-2,” he added. “It’s a big game for them because they’re 0-4. Someone’s going to leave with a win.”
Kickoff at Meade Stadium in Kingston is at 1 p.m. Saturday.”
by Brown Daily HeraldSep 27, 2014
“Brown has recently started an initiative called “ Transformative Conversations. ” The program aims to “provide opportunities and spaces to engage respectfully and thoughtfully across our differences.” These conversations, however, will have a minimal effect on campus discourse at Brown, contradict the notion of an education and imply that Brown is not a place where freedom of speech and thought are respected in other venues.
The idea of providing a space for these conversations, which University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson describes as “a big wooden spoon in the pot of (Brown),” implies that there is a fundamental divergence in the ideas between Brown students and faculty members. This divergence at the University is essentially two-fold, though views are between left-wing and even more left-wing. Currently, at Brown and across the United States, there is a problem of intellectual homogeneity, with a near-consensus in thought among academics. Of all the campaign donations made by Ivy League faculty members in the 2012 presidential campaign, 96 percent went to President Obama’s re-election campaign. The problem runs much deeper at Brown, however, and is reflective of a fundamental problem occurring in the classroom.
What is the purpose of the classroom if there cannot be transformational conversations within its walls? The entire goal of seeking an education is to learn, gain exposure to the marketplace of ideas, become a better human and apply that in some way of your own choosing in a free society. The implication of entitling the venue for these conversations as a “safe space” for ideas to be challenged, presented and argued implies that this doesn’t exist elsewhere on campus. In essence, everywhere should be safe for rigorous debate.
Just to be clear, I am not opposed to the notion of having discussions with community involvement, seminars or any other forum of conversation. Part of the reason why Brown is such a great school is that we have phenomenal external guest speakers and seminars. In fact, I have had some of the most fascinating discussions in these type of forums. Yet the fact that the administration feels compelled to host a series of conversations it proclaims are transformational is an admission that the classroom may not be fulfilling its purpose.
Getting an education means examining different ideas, exploring the inner workings of your values and trying to uncover who you are, what you believe and what you ultimately stand for. While it is almost impossible to fulfill this ideal, the classroom is meant to at least achieve the first part of the definition — exploring and questioning your values. Therefore, if class is no longer a place where education serves as one’s entry into the marketplace of ideas, education ceases to serve its primary purpose. Even if this is not entirely true, the creation of these “transformative conversations” means the administration does not think the classes they provide are doing their job in full. In the Herald article, one administrator describes “Transformative Conversations” as a place where “people come from all kinds of backgrounds” and try to “truly understand another’s perspective and learn from that perspective.”
This is a startling admission.
The need to create a space where people can feel safe to “truly understand another’s perspective” means that this wasn’t happening previously. It implies that the administration feels students are incapable of having adult debates in many of the forums that exist on campus for conversation or that the “transformative conversations” require the administration’s definition of a “safe space.”
The creation of “transformative conversations” suggests that there isn’t a safe space where freedom of speech on issues is respected. This is a sentiment felt by many people considered outside of normal political thought at the University. For instance, on Wednesday, I attended a meeting of the Brown Spectator — a small group of individuals who actually proclaim in writing that they are right-wing. One first-year, after only a few weeks at Brown, articulated her frustration that in many arguments she was told to “check her privilege” because she did not share the majoritarian attitude. Though her comment may have conformed to the notion of privilege, to ignore someone’s argument with three words is unacceptable. We owe it to each other to address arguments directly and respectfully. We shouldn’t have to create “safe spaces” as a place where that type of discourse is the only one in existence.
This opportunity for more political discussion on campus should be an eternal quest of the University. Consequently, I believe that the program will be beneficial in some ways vis-a-vis the content that will be disseminated. The implications of the title “Transformative Conversations” and the comments by administrators in the Herald article, however, are scary. They subvert the notion of education, admit a lack of freedom of speech that may exist on campus and underscore the underlying problem of minimal ideological diversity that plagues elite institutions nationwide.
Hopefully, students’ incentives for entering the marketplace of ideas will not require the “transformative conversations” that the administration is selling. Perhaps ensuring that our classrooms and campus are a “safe space” would lead to the “transformative conversations” the administration hopes to create. The education we pay so much for should grant us the will to say what we think without the need for a defined “safe space” and allow us to feel welcome to do so anywhere.
Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me: email@example.com.”
by Brown Daily HeraldSep 27, 2014
“Modern-day reinventions frequently come across as gimmicky in theater and film. Too often, they serve as better marketing than art — or, perhaps more dangerously, they can come from the monomaniacal will of a rogue director, so concerned with his or her creative impulses that the reinvention ends up a gutted version of the original work.
But in the rare circumstances that it does work — and Sock and Buskin’s rendition of “Sweeney Todd” is one of the few — it manages to introduce a dimension ignored in the first reading or an interpretation that becomes relevant only years after the work’s publication. “Sweeney Todd,” directed by Curt Columbus, artistic director at the Trinity Repertory Company, falls into both of these categories. It wittily and eerily recreates the gory melodrama, originally set in Victorian London, in a tale of greed and class division on a gritty, Occupy-Wall-Street-esque set.
With the wonderfully bizarre backdrop of a McDonald’s billboard covered in graffiti, the set is filled with pitched-up tents, cardboard signs and sleeping bags. Lizzy Callas ’15 directs the score with a punk tinge, using a live rock band instead of full orchestration. And the modern costume design establishes the connection between contemporary wealth inequality and the original Victorian setting.
It’s a story that should be familiar. A barber (played by Patrick Madden ’15) returns to London after years of exile, wrongfully sentenced by the corrupt Judge Turpin (Skylar Fox ’15). Arriving home under the name Sweeney Todd, he learns from Mrs. Lovett (Natalie McDonald ’15), his downstairs neighbor and a failing vendor of meat pies, that his wife committed suicide after Turpin raped her and took Todd’s daughter Johanna (Katherine Doherty ’16) as his ward. Planning his revenge on the Judge and his Beadle (Elias Spector-Zabusky ’15), who helped Turpin execute the deed, Todd restarts his barber business at the behest of Mrs. Lovett. But this quickly takes on a morbid twist: Todd murders his customers and delivers them to be baked into Mrs. Lovett’s pies. Dark, twisted humor ensues. A side-story, far less fun than the murder plot, involves Todd’s young sailor friend Anthony Hope (Jesse Weil ’15) falling in love and trying to rescue Johanna from the tyrannical and lascivious Turpin.
Madden does a fine job in the titular role. He has a strong voice and the occasional glimmer of well-practiced malice, but he lacks some of the true madness that the role normally requires. Madden plays Todd as a broken and melancholic man, not one driven to insanity. Frankly, Madden seems all too sane.
Part of this may be a conscious choice: In a recasting of the musical along modern political terms, Sweeney Todd becomes the everyman pushed to brutality by an unjust system, not the madman he traditionally has been. Columbus has transformed Sweeney Todd from a vengeful antihero into a counter-hegemonic revolutionary. It makes sense that Madden’s portrayal would follow suit.
The real glimpses of morbidity come from McDonald as Mrs. Lovett. She plays a far less conflicted role, and she fully embraces her character’s strange mixture of the macabre and the comic, the grotesque and the ribald. It’s a brilliant portrayal that captures a true, gleeful delight in all things illicit. A clever second-act stage adjustment, shifting the McDonald’s logo for that of Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies, furthers her whole-hearted affirmation of her world’s brutal social system, as well as raises some interesting, if heavy-handed, metaphors of corporate cannibalism.
Fox as Judge Turpin and Spector-Zabusky as his Beadle are two other standouts in a superb cast. In a musical about murder and cannibalism, Fox manages to make Turpin seem like the only one who is truly sinister. And Spector-Zabusky is perfectly unctuous in his role and despicably servile throughout his time onstage.
Stephen Sondheim premiered “Sweeney Todd” in 1979 in New York, just four years after the city hovered on the verge of bankruptcy and two years after the massive looting that accompanied a citywide blackout. He carried this spirit of grittiness and poverty to “Sweeney Todd,” which, while caught up in the gothic pageantry of 19th-century London, is ultimately about the cruel paradoxes of living on the margins of a vast and wealthy empire. In bringing the musical to the world of Occupy Wall Street, Columbus reinstates some of that original feeling.
“Sweeney Todd” runs Thursday through Sunday until Oct. 5 in Leeds Theater. Thursday through Saturday performances start at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 3 p.m.”
by Brown Daily HeraldSep 27, 2014
“Les Velda: BEER Party Candidate for President | Courthouse Center for the Arts | Oct. 4
If Providence’s mayoral elections have brought you down, a taste of BEER — Bio-Engineered Experimental Reindeer — might be just what you need. Comedian Les Vilda launched a satirical presidential campaign in the name of the BEER party in 2008. Though he was not elected by the American people, he continues to lampoon political incompetence with his one-man, game show-like debates and his vice presidential candidate, Doug the Monkey Puppet.
The Daily Show Writers Standup Tour | Columbus Theatre | Oct. 11
The brains behind The Daily Show with Jon Stewart will bring the show’s political banter to Providence as part of a nationwide tour. The lineup of writers and producers, including Emmy-nominated actor Travon Free, brings to the stage a comedic background alongside other television fixtures like The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman and Comedy Central. A question and answer session with performers will take place after the show.
Paul D’Angelo | Greenwich Odeum | Oct. 11
Paul D’Angelo built a successful career as a lawyer, but once he started moonlighting at comedy clubs, he gained even larger appeal. Since switching paths, he has placed in the national finals during the 1999 San Francisco International Comedy Competition and was dubbed “Boston’s Best Comedian” by Boston Magazine in 1994 and 1995. He will deliver his signature blend of observational humor and fast-paced improvisation as part of the Odeum Comedy Series.
Laughter is the Best Medicine | Weaver Memorial Library | Oct. 21
Though storyteller and comedian Carolyn Martino is first noticeable for the birthmark that covers nearly half her face, it’s her sharp wit and inspiring narratives that make her memorable. Hailed by the Providence Phoenix as “one of Rhode Island’s most influential artists,” Martino’s creativity and spunk has endeared her to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.”
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