Sullivan ’15: Brown softball’s Katie Flynn — a perspective by Brown Daily HeraldMay 08, 2015 “Few people, myself included, would recognize me as an athlete on campus. Really that is because I am not, or I am not any longer, but I played softball at Brown for one bittersweet year. I anachronistically participated during the competitive season in my second semester and the training season after that before quitting midway through my sophomore year. I had mostly relegated my athletic career to the past as a misstep, a valid but unsuccessful foray into collegiate athletics.
After I quit the team, I rarely got to keep up with my busy teammates and maintain my own schedule, and there was a gradual but expected falling out. It wasn’t until I read a recent Herald article that I even realized that eight more of my esteemed and talented teammates had left the softball program in a similar manner as me. In rethinking the events that led to my departure from the softball team, I have come to a brutal but honest conclusion: Katie Flynn, my coach, played no small role in what was one of my most difficult semesters at Brown. She subtly bullied and belittled many of my teammates and I until we had lost joy and confidence where we once found pride. To illustrate the point, I will convey my experience with the program, which rather explicitly implicates Flynn’s arrival at Brown in my loss of confidence and departure from the team.
I was never recruited to play softball at Brown. During my freshman year I began to miss how it felt to swing a bat and throw a ball. Softball has been a part of my life since I was a child, and I realized I wasn’t ready to give it up. I contacted the then-coach, DeeDee Enabenter-Omidiji, an eccentric and stern-faced woman who allowed me to try out for the team. Even during my try-out I recognized that I wasn’t performing at peak capacity. I was aware I didn’t consistently use the proper technique to block the ball, and I knew my throw-down to second was delayed. Regardless, Enabenter-Omidiji saw a player who was dedicated to her sport and whose skills could be developed and utilized. Because I had missed off-season, she made a deal with me that I would not see game time that season because I hadn’t put in the time and training that the other girls had. It wasn’t ideal, but I’m a team player and I’m willing to earn my keep, so I agreed.
As a catcher with a good attitude who loved her position, I walked onto a team with one very talented starting catcher who hated her post and a back-up catcher who was not a catcher at all. I started to see my use on the team. I spent hours warming up pitchers for practice and game time, helping them improve from behind the plate in the absence of a dedicated pitching coach. Sore but uncomplaining, I enjoyed the company of my new team and the friends I was making. I watched the coaches ignore their pitching staff and lose game after game. No one was overly fond of the head coach, and no one was enjoying the battering the team often took on the field. Under Enabenter-Omidiji we ended the season with a record of 7-13 in the conference, a step down from 8-12 the year before.
When Athletics Director Jack Hayes stepped into office three years ago, his first action was to turn the softball program around by hiring an entirely new coaching staff. The team was excited — softball doesn’t usually get very much attention or support compared to other teams. Hayes even let us participate in the selection process by advocating the kinds of qualities we wanted in a coach. I remember one request specifically; we wanted someone who commanded respect. On the surface, I can see how Flynn fit the bill; she is a strong and demanding woman with a low tolerance for bullshit. But interviewing for a job and successfully coaching a group of talented and eager young women are different tasks.
The outcome speaks for itself; three years later and three-quarters of her original team has willingly and concertedly quit the program. With only three upperclassmen remaining, the younger players seem appeased with their impressive roles in conveniently vacated starting positions. Truthfully, the team I watched play this season has improved moderately from the team I once knew. But the team still ended its season with almost twice as many losses as wins in its conference — a season few would designate as marked progress. In fact, it is exactly the record the team held when the previous coach was fired. Flynn’s two other seasons ended in even worse records of 4-16 and 2-18.
Beyond the hard numbers, the softball team was no longer just being battered on the field. Current and former players have broken down after enduring deprecation and derision from the woman who is supposed to believe in them most. Lying in the wake of the stories of harsh verbal jabs and unflattering subtext are nine talented and impressive young women, whose shared desire to play a sport they love with people they care about was tarnished by a coach who doesn’t understand empathy or respect. The enjoyment of our college softball careers was shattered along with our confidence.
I knew I was never the best player on the team; not everyone can be. I never even expected to get much game time without displaying marked personal improvement. But I did try my hardest; I continually improved and worked tirelessly for a team I really cared about. I played the undervalued role of comforting pitchers, coaches and other players by remaining available to keep the game moving, unwaveringly supporting largely unappreciated pitchers and keeping other players in the positions they needed to be in. I was happy during that season with the old coach; I knew I was never going to play but I also knew I was improving myself, playing my sport and helping my team. Enabenter-Omidiji saw a valued team player; all Flynn saw was a defect.
It may be true that part of learning about teamwork is realizing that you are only as strong as your weakest link. But teamwork also involves bolstering one another and strengthening each of those links to improve the whole, not cutting them out. Flynn made it exceedingly clear to me that as the designated weakest link, not only did I not help our team — her team — I was hurting it. By the time she was done with me, I had lost so much confidence in myself that I had actually lost my ability to hit a target. When a skilled player is suddenly unable to throw accurately and with assurance, this is a problem that any softball player will tell you is entirely mental. Imagine it: a collegiate softball catcher who can’t throw the ball back to the pitcher.
I was humiliated. Practices became a mental zone of persistent anxiety, insecurity and disappointment. I felt so strongly that I did not belong and that I never had. No longer able to perform reliably on the field and burdened with mental distress, I felt compelled to quit right before the start of our season. I never even got to earn an inning of game time. When I explained my dissatisfaction to Flynn with tears in my eyes, I said I could no longer continue to play for the team feeling the way I did and asked if I could address my teammates to express my discontentment to them and to say goodbye. She curtly told me no, that I had to leave and that the team didn’t have any more time for me. Now, seeing her around campus, she rudely refuses to acknowledge me in any manner.
For the first time, I can look back and realize it was not entirely my fault. I was not simply a miserable failure the way Flynn had made me feel. It takes a serious weakening of mental faculties to burrow doubt so far into someone’s psyche that she can no longer perform the same task she has excelled at for 12 years. I will admit to some of the fault personally; I was the first to go, I know my mental and physical fortitude were not of the same caliber as those of the other girls on the team. But when this process of mental degradation to the point of feeling alienated from an integral part of oneself happens nine times over, I think that is something that needs to be looked at. Even worse, this is not Flynn’s first go-around; players from her previous team had warned some of my teammates of similar issues that led to her dismissal before coming to Brown.
As an athlete, I understand that the sports realm can be a harsh world of do-or-die competition. Perhaps this style of coaching might be acceptable at a professional level or even just a higher-performing collegiate program. But I have never had a coach, however feared or effective, actually impede the confidence and efforts of her players so dramatically. Flynn has not turned this team around and she hasn’t led the softball program to a more respectable W-L ratio.
But is a slightly better team, even in the ultra-competitive athletics realm, really worth the demoralization of at least the nine women who felt compelled to forfeit the sport they love? Should the remaining team still be going to bat for a woman who seems to have such little regard for the individuals she mentors? How do we know this process of deflation and alienation won’t continue to affect more classes of eager young softball players? For me, and for many of the women who have found themselves under Flynn’s tutelage, the answers to these questions are clear. In coming to this understanding, I felt that my experience shed light on the unclear aspects of the controversial bullying accusations that were leveled against Flynn, and which were bitterly repudiated in a recent letter signed by seven underclassmen on the team. In response to this letter, I think it should be made clear that these deliberations are not meant as intimidation or threat, but rather as means of expressing frank concern for events that have remained largely unrecognized and ill-considered. The letter calls many of the “allegations” and the credibility of the original article into question. The facts of these personal stories are often easily corroborated, as with my testimony. While I will be the only person signing this piece, having spoken with my previous teammates I feel confident saying that all nine players left for reasons directly relating to Flynn’s comport. Nine women, more than even the underclassmen who felt compelled or able to speak up for Flynn, are still at Brown and estranged from their sport based upon Flynn’s arrival at Brown and subsequent actions. It is unfortunate that this matter affected the end of the team’s season, but it is also important to recognize how this has much longer affected the very lives of women who no longer feel safe or comfortable playing softball at Brown. Now that the season is over, I hope a substantial investigation can be carried out in a reliable and extensive manner. I can only hope that the experiences expressed by my teammates and I are enough to produce a serious and transparent assessment of, and subsequent reaction to, these accusations. Ideally, this would involve a public response from Christina Paxson P’19 or other administrators about the process for divulging and evaluating accusations of mental abuse by University personnel. This is especially salient considering the ramifications of this instance for the current mental health initiatives that Paxson is spearheading. Appropriate administrative reaction would also entail a comment from Hayes on how this issue affects the Department of Athletics as a whole — a realm particularly susceptible to this type of behavior. An indication of what has been and is being done about the serious issues that have been brought to his attention would also be astute. The only measure of which I am currently aware is a discussion with Flynn that resulted in a curt note to one player. These actions do not constitute an acceptably robust response.”
Phi Beta Kappa inducts 105 seniors by Brown Daily HeraldMay 01, 2015 “One hundred and five seniors were inducted this week into the Rhode Island Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, “the oldest and most prestigious academic honors organization in the nation,” Chapter Administrator Mary Jo Foley wrote in an email to The Herald.
Brown is one of 283 higher education institutions in the United States authorized to host a chapter. Founded in 1830, the Brown chapter is the seventh oldest in the nation.
To be eligible, seniors must have completed 28 courses over seven semesters and earned at least 23 grades of A or S with distinction.
Thirty-two juniors were nominated to the chapter in February, and senior recipients who transferred to Brown as juniors will be announced in May.
The inductees from the Class of 2015 are:
Steven Joel Goldberg Adler
Krishan Lawrence Aghi
Kyle Joseph Albert
Dilum Priyanka Aluthge, a former Herald opinions columnist
Jordan Riley Beard
Hannah Mae Begley
Madeline Pia Klaimitz Berg, a former Herald senior editor
Sonia Anne Boor
Kira Anne Bromwich
Julia Ting Bu
Abigail Louise Cain
Eric Liangde Chen
Rong Benedict Chen
Pei Ling Chia
Bryna Peebles Cofrin-Shaw
Lauren Eleanor Colwell
Evan Alexandra Cranston
Alexander James Davies
Michael Zhiyuan Deng
Max Aaron Deutsch
Julia Rachel Donner
Michael Anthony D’Ortenzio Jr.
Alex L. Drechsler, a former Herald opinions columnist
Tess Biggs Druckenmiller
Margaret JoAnna Dushko
Guo Jin Daryl Eng
Cody Rand Fitzgerald
Hallee Carlisle Foster
Edward Samuel Friedman
Michael Aaron Fuchs
Max Jordan Genecov
Kyle Harris Giddon
Grant Baker Gittes
Emily Susan Goldman
Ana Elizabeth Gonzalez
Dana Kathleen Goplerud
Lily Anne Gutterman
Victor Van Ha
Todd Faulkner Harris
Megan McLaughlin Hauptman
Stephanie Erin Hayes, a former Herald contributing writer
Campbell Lucas Hewett
Michael Thomas Gerard Hoffmann
Zachary Ross Ingber, a former Herald opinions columnist
Michaela Evelina Jacobs
Ronak Haresh Jani
William Sandler Janover, a former Blog Daily Herald editor-in-chief
William Samuel Johnson
Alexander G. A. Jusdanis
Max Mattleman Kaplan
Katherine Emma Kartheiser
Carol JiEun Kim, a former Herald contributing writer
Alison Rose Kirsch
Thomas P. Kishkovich
Yao Zhou Liu
Patrick William Madden
Camila M. Mchugh
Steven Siyao Meng
Margaret McCrann Nickerson
Patrick Gaughan O’Callahan
Sarah Elizabeth Parker
Sarah Ellen Perelman, a former Herald science and research editor
Marina Webster Perkins
Danielle Hanna Pietro
Claire Michele Postman, a former Herald copy desk chief
Zachary Isaac Rubin
Adam Michael Scherlis
Thomas Peter Schubert
Judah Ari Schvimer
Erin Garfield Schwartz
Alexander Jordon Sherry
William Joseph Shinevar
Alexander Clayton Sogo
Elias Merwin Spector-Zabusky
Evan William Strouss
Mary Elizabeth Tarantino
Ryan Maxwell Taylor
Jamie Emerson Temko
Keith Robert Thomas
Christopher Michael Thompson
Andrew Alphonse Triedman
William David Underwood Jr.
Jay Upadhyay, a former Herald opinions columnist
Thaya Uthayophas, a former Herald contributing writer
Elena Nicole Venable, a former Herald contributing writer
Catherine Stuart Wallace
Hunter Sung Leong Warwick
Zachary David Whitman
Elizabeth Sarah Emma Woodward, a former Herald contributing writer
Sandra Chun-Shan Yan
Alexander Yanbo Yang
Gregory James Yauney
Julie Hanzhi Yue, a former Herald contributing writer
Anna Elizabeth Zeidman Shayna Rachel Zema ”
Bailhe ’15, Johnson ’15 named commencement speakers by Brown Daily HeraldMay 01, 2015 “Michelle Bailhe ’15 and Lucas Johnson ’15 have been selected as the student speakers for the 2015 commencement ceremony. The two seniors said they hope to use their orations to critically examine the meaning of a Brown education and inspire classmates as they embark on life beyond the Van Wickle Gates.
Bailhe and Johnson were named after a competitive annual selection process that started at the beginning of the spring semester.
Every January, faculty members, deans and seniors nominate potential speakers. Nominated students can choose to write speeches and submit them anonymously to the selection committee, which is composed of seniors, faculty members and the associate dean of the College for upperclass studies — a position currently held by Besenia Rodriguez. After reviewing the speeches, the committee selects finalists to deliver their orations before the committee before making a final decision.
Johnson said he did not expect to be nominated and almost did not submit a speech. He decided to submit a speech just a day before the deadline, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to reflect on his Brown experience. Learning of his selection was “surreal,” he said. “I was just in a state of disbelief.”
Johnson’s speech is titled “School Spirit,” a name that “invokes a strange reaction from any Brown student I tell that to,” he said, adding, “That’s sort of the point. It highlights and explores what my idea of school spirit and my idea of being a Brown student was like as a starry-eyed pre-frosh, and how that transformed” over four years at Brown. The speech “takes a critical approach to the idea of what it means to be a Brown student, though I also feel like it has an encouraging, empowering message to it as well.”An education concentrator in the history and policy track, Johnson has tutored students in several Providence public schools. He has also worked as a tour guide and is a member of the Brown Organization of Multiracial and Biracial Students. Johnson will return to Brown after graduation to pursue a master’s degree in teaching. He plans to teach high school English before eventually transitioning to education policy and reform work.
In a way, delivering a commencement speech brings Bailhe’s Brown experience full circle. In spring 2011, a few months before she arrived on campus, Bailhe said she was struck upon reading that year’s student commencement speeches. “When the 2011 speeches came out, that was the first moment I felt like I had no questions, like this was the place for me,” she said.
But four years later, Bailhe will use her oration, “I Don’t Know,” to prompt students to be full of questions.
“My speech is about questioning yourself and your goals and self-evident truths and dominant narratives, and how a lot of these questions at Brown have been uncomfortable and powerful and challenging and how those moments have been the most growth,” Bailhe said.
The theme of questioning is especially pertinent for seniors as they transition to life after college, she said. “I wanted people to feel excited about those unknowns and feel ready to dive in headfirst.”
Being selected feels “wonderful and odd,” Bailhe said. “It feels weird because I can think of so many amazing people that I wish we could have 200 speeches on graduation day,” though she added that she looks forward to reading more of the speeches posted on the Alternative Commencement website.
Bailhe is a human biology concentrator focusing on health disparities. Her senior thesis examines the effects of incarceration on women’s family planning and health goals. While at Brown, she has done research on Rhode Island’s prison system, served as a teaching assistant for PHP 0320: “Introduction to Public Health” and danced with imPulse Dance Company. After graduating, she will work as a consultant for McKinsey and Company.
Both Bailhe and Johnson said they are nervous but excited to deliver their speeches and have received positive feedback and support from fellow seniors. Bailhe said she has received “good responses” from classmates who have heard the speech. “They felt like it spoke to their experience.” “It’s definitely going to be the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken in front of,” Johnson said, adding that he has felt “humbled” by his peers’ enthusiastic responses to his being selected.”
Letter: Softball players defend Coach Katie Flynn by Brown Daily HeraldApr 28, 2015 “It is with great confusion and frustration that we, members of Brown Softball, respond to the article that appeared in The Herald last week regarding Coach Flynn and the Brown Softball program. As a preliminary matter, it should be understood that we speak for ourselves, not the whole team, and have delayed our reaction to the article because all our attention and energy were spent on our game against Yale and the never-ending study sessions that consume us and every other student at Brown. The lack of an immediate response from the present members of the team was not a result of intimidation by any party or a fear of negative repercussions. We do not modify, mitigate or change our positions or opinions because of fear or intimidation. As with all students of Brown, we seek excellence in all that we do — whether on the field or in the classroom — and do not tolerate any form of oppression or activity that does not rise to Brown’s high standards.
The events described in the article allegedly occurred at a time before most of the current players arrived at Brown. As such, it would be improper and unfair for the new players to comment on what past players may or may not have experienced. But some of the players who were on the team at the time of these alleged events do not share the opinions expressed by those who were the focus of the article. In contrast, some of the current players who were under the guidance of Coach Flynn before this year have experienced a coach who is passionate about the great game of softball and has brought out the best in her players through both her words and her actions. These players will tell you that Coach Flynn pushes them to be the best they can be and expects them to perform not only at a Division 1 level but, more importantly, in harmony with Brown’s principles as well.
The first-year players are in agreement with their older teammates in that they have found Coach Flynn to be passionate about her responsibilities to a Division 1 athletic program while embracing her most important responsibility — educating young women in the Brown tradition. We, as current players, do not recognize the woman identified as Coach Flynn in the article. Moreover, most readers are consumed by the unethical reporting of Flynn’s alleged actions or inactions and by the conclusory tone of the article, which does not fairly present all of the facts. The timing of the article — at the tail end of a season in which the team increased its win total by 200 percent — is also confusing. Sadly, the contents of the article weighed heavily on the team during its final weekend of play. The concerns arising after the article’s release could not be ignored at a time when the team and the Brown community were celebrating Senior Day for the team’s departing players. Instead of enjoying a time of celebration for both a turnaround season and the softball careers of our seniors, the members of Brown Softball and the Brown community in general are left with an unfortunate article consisting of speculation, bias and fragmented facts. It is plausible that the players who left the program departed for reasons other than how they were treated, (i.e. competition from new players, participating in exchange programs, etc.) These additional reasons for leaving the team were never presented in the respective article.
The women of Brown Softball and the members of the Brown community at large deserve better than what was provided by the article. If the high standards that make up Brown Softball were broken, consequences should be swift and justified. Likewise, if parties make untrue allegations, we should also reject those swiftly and justly. It is times like this when our Ivy League intellect and desire for “due process” should guide and control our thought process and conclusions pertaining to this matter.
Go Bruno, Lauren Hanna ’17, Annie McGregor ’18, Grayson Metzger ’18, Leah Nakashima ’17, Katie Orona ’18, Yeram Park ’18, Julia Schoenewald ’17 ”
Brown Bites: April 18–25, 2015 by Brown Daily HeraldApr 25, 2015 “Quote of the week: “I would rather have you (protest) than to not care.” — President Christina Paxson P’19 during the annual State of Brown address Wednesday night.
Students celebrated Spring Weekend April 17–19 with a series of concerts on the Main Green, featuring artists like Modest Mouse and What Cheer? Brigade, above. Check out The Herald’s review .
BULLYING ON THE SOFTBALL TEAM:
Softball Head Coach Katie Flynn has been accused of bullying by five former softball players. Since Flynn started coaching at Brown three years ago, nine of the initial 12 underclassmen on the team have quit. The players allege that the coach created a hostile environment and made targeted, public comments criticizing some of the players’ weights. Though parents and players alike have voiced their complaints about Flynn to the administration, the University has not taken substantive action against her.
CHATTING WITH PAXSON:
President Christina Paxson P’19 gave the annual State of Brown address on Wednesday. Paxson used the talk to address several topics, including her excitement over the Engaged Scholars Program and BrownConnect and her desire to strengthen Brown’s curriculum by using technology to shrink class sizes. Paxson also reiterated her goal of doubling the 8.5 percent of underrepresented minority faculty members in the next 10 years. In an hour-long question-and-answer session, students asked about subjects such as the administration’s sensitivity to issues of inclusion and identity and several recently leaked emails from Paxson and Corporation members that suggest special treatment for the wealthy during the admission process. Paxson also acknowledged student protests this year, saying, “I am always happy that Brown has students that aren’t complacent. I would rather have you (protest) than to not care.”
Around 700 prospective members of the Class of 2019 visited campus this week for A Day On College Hill . The three-day-long event offered the students a taste of what attending Brown would be like, including performances by student groups and the option to shop classes.
A week gone and students are still recovering from Spring Weekend. Though Friday night greeted students with overcast weather and the occasionally chilly gust of wind, Yeasayer, Waka Flocka Flame and Hudson Mohawke brought students out of the library and onto the overly cramped Main Green. As students wearing jorts and bro-tanks huddled together for warmth, Yeasayer and Waka pleased the crowd, while Mohawke failed to meet expectations . Saturday brought sunny skies and high… spirits with the performers What Cheer? Brigade, Kelela, Pusha T and Modest Mouse. As the weekend came to a close with a campus full of happy students, more than one stopped to wonder: Will I remember any of this tomorrow?
THE XX FACTOR:
Women in STEM fields were front and center this week with The Herald’s three-part series “ The XX Factor .” In the first part , Pembroke alums reflected on their challenging experiences as women pursuing STEM fields in the ’60s. Alums cited the difficulty of being in male-dominated classes taught by professors who did not respect them. The second part investigates some of the current issues facing female faculty members and grad students, who said they face microaggressions and issues regarding cultural and social norms. The third part focuses on current female STEM concentrators, who talked about issues relating to a lack of female representation in some fields, especially computer science, engineering and physics. In the physics department, only 11 percent of faculty members are women. IT’S RAINING PULITZERS Professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98 won a Pulitzer Prize Monday for his book “The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe.” The book, which President Paxson called “authoritative and compelling to read,” gives concrete evidence of Pope Pius XI provoking state-sanctioned anti-Semitism around the time of World War II. In case you didn’t think Kertzer was cool enough, his 1997 book “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara,” is in development to become a film, produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner.”
Editorial: Community building and the Corporation by Brown Daily HeraldApr 23, 2015 “Community building has been at the root of many discussions over the past academic year. With continued concerns and difficult conversations surrounding sexual assault and mental health, many students feel a diminution of trust and pride in the University. The Corporation’s upcoming May meeting will serve as a valuable forum to both address and tangibly improve the brittle nature of community at Brown. While it is easy to simply kick the proverbial can down the road and hope this demonstrated tension will dissipate with time, the Corporation holds a unique power to transform the campus itself, which we see as key to fostering stronger, more sustainable bonds tying our community together.
The residential experience at Brown is a significant point of concern within the context of community building. Unlike peer institutions such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton that employ a residential college framework, Brown lacks a discernible structure. While the campus is loosely and increasingly organized in clusters to promote cohesion within particular class years, this effort gradually diminishes as students move into like-minded program houses and self-selecting, off-campus offerings.
Though not always the case, these residential spheres where students spend a great deal of time are often insular and often do not reflect the true diversity of the Brown community. As discussed in a previous editorial (“What does diversity mean?”, Oct. 27), often it seems the diversity that is shown in brochures and first-year dorms is quickly lost as students self-segregate by housing in their sophomore and junior years. This phenomenon creates environments in which other students do not feel entirely comfortable and welcome, despite their underlying bond as Brown students. The housing lottery — which can fray friendships and inject turmoil into students’ social lives — exacerbates the problem.
Residential colleges break up these divisions. They create communities that are more representative of the diversity that Brown rightly celebrates. Living near the same students for four years fosters the casual friendships among hallmates that students make as first-years but let fade away after that first summer.
This sense of community may have a sustained effect that passes beyond graduation into stronger alumni loyalty. Students who feel a deeper bond to a sector of their university — such as athletes and Greek life participants — are perhaps more likely to stay connected to the school after graduating. Alums often give to the communities that contributed to their experiences, and residential colleges could fill a void for those who otherwise lack a more concrete or well-defined connection.
Implementing a residential college system does not have to require substantial renovation. Indeed, the well-dispersed dormitories lend themselves to independent communities. The existing centers — Pembroke campus, Keeney Quadrangle, Wriston Quadrangle and Perkins Hall — are adaptable if additional spaces are added to create autonomous colleges with adequate dining, exercising and study facilities. Revisiting the character of the residential system at Brown would, as then-President Henry Wriston wrote in 1946, “reinforce the tradition which stimulated the foundation of the College” and “perpetuate and strengthen the democratic character of student life.” Wriston Quad was born out of the concern that the housing system at Brown “had never been defined with adequate clarity or administered with sufficient energy.” A reevaluation of the current residential scheme at Brown would similarly help in mending and strengthening the sense of community on campus at a time when we stand at a crossroads. We strongly urge the Corporation to prioritize this goal in its meeting next month. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16, Baxter DiFabrizio ’15, Mathias Heller ’15 and Aranshi Kumar ’17. Send comments to email@example.com.”
LGBTQ students note feelings of inadequacy by Brown Daily HeraldApr 23, 2015 “This article is part of the series Spring 2015 Student Polls A March 2-3 Herald poll revealed that students who identify as LGBTQ experience greater feelings of inadequacy than their counterparts in a variety of categories. Respondents answered the question “Do you feel inadequate relative to other Brown students?”
Among the undergraduates surveyed, 32.6 percent responded that they felt inadequate with regards to their academic abilities, 19.3 percent with regards to their social lives, 20.1 percent with regards to their sex/love lives, 14 percent with regards to their appearances, 16.6 percent with regards to their socioeconomic status and 9.3 percent about a factor not listed in the question.
About 43 percent of students responded that they do not feel inadequate compared to other Brown students.
Across all factors of inadequacy that the poll addressed, non-heterosexual students indicated feeling more inadequate.
“A lot of queer students here intersect with other identities,” causing pressures from each to compound upon one another, said Justice Gaines ’16.
“Brown oftentimes acts like these problems are inevitable, but they’re not,” Gaines said. The University can minimize these issues of inadequacy “not only by changing conversation but by making sure that policy is reflecting what students need,” Gaines added.
Though Adrian Lev Guerra’s ’16 personal experience as a queer student at Brown has been “really magical” on all fronts, he acknowledged that the LGBTQ identity can exacerbate pressures from other spheres of life.
While Lev Guerra said he has not felt inadequate at Brown, he has felt that way in his home nation of Costa Rica, “because the social expectations were different.”
Overall, the largest demographic gap within the results was between women and men regarding their academic self-confidence. About 41 percent of women, compared to about 23 percent of men, indicated they felt inadequate about their academic abilities.
Aly Todich’ii’ni Lawson ’18 said this discrepancy is partially rooted in the makeup of Brown faculty. “The people that you’re learning from … are usually white males. The texts that you’re reading from are usually written from a male’s perspective,” she said, adding that it is more difficult for women to “hold themselves (in) as high” esteem because of these biases in the classroom.
Disparities in perceptions of inadequacy also correlated with ethnicity. About 48 percent of Hispanic students indicated they feel insufficient with regards to their academic ability, while about 31 percent of non-Hispanic students indicated such feelings.
Andrea Cordova ’17, who identifies as Latina, noted the lack of Hispanic faculty as central to this statistical gap. “It might not make (Hispanic) students feel as comfortable as other students who are represented in the faculty,” she said.
Nicolas Montano ’17, who identifies as Latino, said while he acknowledges his socioeconomic privilege, he is conscious that some Hispanic students from working class families have a set of financial stressors that wealthier students are completely ignorant of. Consequently, these more privileged students “have a lack of context” when they interact with students from working class and low-income backgrounds, he said.
Cordova said she does not think of her financial stressors “as linked to her Hispanic identity,” but she noted that this may not be true for all Hispanic students on campus.
Similarly, black students reported higher instances of inadequacy based on socioeconomic class. For Maya Finoh ’17, this is directly related to larger patterns of discrimination in American history, such as the slave trade and Jim Crow laws, she said. “I’m not surprised by the statistics regarding socioeconomic status,” she said. “Historically, black people in this country have suffered from generational poverty because we have been constantly discriminated against.”
In contrast, athletes expressed lower levels of inadequacy with regards to their social lives, appearances and socioeconomic statuses, while international students expressed lower levels of inadequacy with regards to their academics, social lives, sex/love lives, appearance and socioeconomic status.
Augusto Ballón ’18, who is from Peru, said that in his experience international students, especially those who have previously lived away from home, find it easier to be truly independent when they arrive at college.
Jessica Kenny ’17, who is from Brazil, said her identity as an international student has given her the ability to “know how to live among differences.” For Rob Hughes ’17, a member of the football team, confidence among athletes is linked to the inherent support provided by one’s team. Upon arriving at college, athletes find that their team members “love and respect you no matter what your class status or anything like that is. You feel like you have a big network, regardless of where you are,” he said. “In many cases, athletes are forced in their specific sport to gain … confidence,” said Lawrence Kemp ’17, a member of the men’s lacrosse team. “That can leak into other parts of life so that can be why you see those trends.””
Earth Week plants seeds of change by Brown Daily HeraldApr 23, 2015 “As students enjoy the sunny weather, this year’s Earth Week aims to celebrate sustainability efforts at Brown and educate community members about how to contribute. With events such as a solar panel demonstration, trash sorting, composting, bike rides, panel discussions and film screenings, the Earth Week committee hopes to “make sustainability accessible to everyone” through “fun events that people will want to show up to,” said Haily Tran ’16, the committee’s coordinator.
The Earth Week committee, which includes representatives from each of emPOWER’s 10 subgroups, started organizing in December and began meeting in earnest at the beginning of the semester, said Tran, who also served as a coordinator last year.
One of the week’s main events was an eco-friendly dinner Wednesday at the Sharpe Refectory. The event featured a local and seasonal menu, a mozzarella-stretching demonstration by Narragansett Creamery and presentations by food-focused student groups as well as eco-friendly vendors who supply food for Dining Services. Approximately 305 pounds of compost were collected at the event.
The dinner was “a celebration of the things we do year-round,” said Isabelle Aubrun ’16, a Dining Services sustainability intern. Though sustainability was highlighted at the dinner, “it’s a well-kept secret” that Dining Services takes steps to be eco-friendly throughout the year, Aubrun said, adding that she hopes students realize “there’s a very concerted effort to have good-quality food.”
So many students signed up to volunteer at the Earth Day dinner that there were not enough positions for all of them, said Meggie Patton, academic and student engagement coordinator at the Office of Energy and Environment, who served as an adviser and helped with logistics for Earth Week. The situation was “the greatest problem to have,” she added.
Dining Services and the Sustainable Food Initiative also sponsored a dinner special called “Turn Down for Wheatberry” at the Blue Room Monday, Aubrun said. The dish — which included local vegetables, grains and all-natural meat — may become a permanent feature at the Blue Room or the Ratty, she said.
Events focused on food can reach a wide segment of the Brown community, Aubrun said, adding, “Food is a pretty big unifier.”
Though “it’s easy to get bogged down in the negatives” when talking about environmental issues, SuFI tried to “keep things positive,” said Rosie Kissel ’17, a SuFI representative on the committee. “Food is one thing you can get people excited about.”
Earth Week’s other large event is a community fair on the Main Green Sunday. Both student groups and community groups from Providence and Rhode Island will be present. In addition to education, the fair will provide “zero-carbon fun and relaxation” through music performances and the inclusion of other groups such as the Brown University Relaxation Project, Tran said.
By inviting community groups, the committee hopes to “integrate campus sustainability to local sustainability,” Tran said. “There’s a lot of overlapping issues between the Providence community and the Brown community.”
Getting some community organizations to attend the fair posed a challenge since many had other events planned for Earth Week, but the groups that attended last year were happy to return, Tran said.
The week’s kickoff event — a seedling giveaway for faculty and staff — had to be rescheduled for Wednesday due to rain Monday, she said. But the rescheduling did not hurt the week’s momentum, she added.
Coordinators also faced the challenge of scheduling and reserving space amidst the many other events happening on campus this week, including A Day on College Hill, the Social Enterprise Economic Ecosystem Development summit and the Brown Folk Festival, Tran said. But the Earth Week committee established good relationships with those groups and has been able to share space with SEEED and help the Folk Festival with sustainability, she said. ADOCH coordinators also plan to work with the Earth Week committee next year to make their events eco-friendly, she said.
Earth Week helps the University reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 42 percent from 2007 levels by 2020, Patton said. So far, emissions have decreased 26 percent, largely through eco-friendly renovations and other infrastructure improvements, but “a huge part of our energy footprint comes from people occupying the buildings,” she said. Earth Week encourages the “behavior change, engagement component of energy use,” she added.
The committee strove to make the entire planning process environmentally friendly, said Kissel. Most of the promotion for the week’s events was done online to save paper, and the committee decided not to order T-shirts because it could not find a green producer, she said.
“We hear a lot of doom and gloom” about the environment, said Maya Faulstich-Hon ’17, a SCRAP representative and committee member. But Earth Week is “a celebration of this planet that we live on,” she said. The week’s goal is “turning the focus of sustainability away from the problems and more toward the solutions,” she added. The committee also hopes that Earth Week will educate students and prompt them to change their behavior. The events aim to “create those moments that really get people to consider their own personal impact and what they can do,” Patton said. “There’s a lot of things that we do as people on a day-to-day basis that really have huge impacts,” said Bailey McLaughlin ’17, a SCRAP representative and committee member. “Everybody is capable of changing for the better.””
Quinn selected to join Rhode Island Ethics Commission by Brown Daily HeraldApr 23, 2015 “Marisa Quinn, director of communications and outreach at the Watson Institute for International Studies, was appointed by Gov. Gina Raimondo to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission earlier this month.
“Building upon my ongoing commitment to uphold the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct in government, I am pleased to announce my appointment of Marisa Quinn to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission,” Raimondo said in a press release. “Marisa has a proven experience fostering clear communication, accountability and innovation and will be an excellent addition to the Commission.”
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission is a constitutionally mandated body that enforces a code of ethics to which all public officials and employees must abide. Nine members comprise the commission, four of whom are appointed directly by the governor. The other five members are nominated by the House speaker, in conjunction with the House and Senate majority and minority leaders, though they must be confirmed by the governor.
Quinn’s appointment marks the beginning of a five-year term, filling a vacancy left by Sister Deborah Cerullo, who was supposed to remain on the commission until Sept. 1 but left the position to take a six-month sabbatical. “I also want to thank Sr. Deborah Cerullo for her service on this Commission and great work on behalf of our state,” Raimondo said in the press release.
Quinn, former vice president of public affairs and University relations, said she has always been open to taking on this sort of role. “I’ve always been committed to some kind of public service. I’m on the Kids Count board, my background is in public policy and I’ve worked in the government,” she said.
As a member of the commission, Quinn said she hopes to “bring sound judgment to the role” and to “work with fellow commissioners to serve the citizens of our state.” She said she believes it is vital for the state to have “expectations for standards of conduct for all of our elected and appointed officials” included in the constitution. This is an “important concept that is critical to the functioning of government,” she said.
Quinn has held positions at the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She was also the policy advisor to Gov. Jim Florio of New Jersey and a legislative aide to Claiborne Pell, who served as a Rhode Island U.S. Senator from 1961 to 1997.
“There is a bit of a time commitment with this particular appointment,” Quinn said, noting the two-hour meetings with the commission every other Tuesday. Before accepting the position, Quinn sought approval from Richard Locke, director of the Watson Institute, who was equally enthusiastic about her appointment.
Ross Cheit, chair of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission and professor of political science and public policy, praised Quinn’s suitability for the job. “Marisa Quinn has been at Brown and in Rhode Island for a long time,” he said. “Given her position in government and community relations, I think she knows a lot … and cares about the state.”
Cheit added that Quinn will bring “an important combination of knowledge and concern” to her new role.
Recent events that concern the state’s ethics commission include the arrests of former Speaker of the House Gordon Fox for bribery and Rep. Joe Almeida, D-Providence, for misusing campaign funds. These scandals have highlighted the need for the ethics commission to enforce transparency in state affairs. Cheit said the commission remains “responsive” to complaints and requests and will continue to enforce its code “rigorously and impartially.” Since Quinn is serving on the commission as a citizen of Rhode Island and not as a member Brown’s faculty, her appointment is not expected to impact the University. But Cheit said having a faculty member on the commission is favorable, because “nobody at Brown is under the code of ethics.” “The good thing about having people from universities in Rhode Island that are not public on the commission (is that) those people don’t have any kinds of conflicts of interest,” he added. “There’s a kind of independence that comes from being at a place like Brown.””
More infants born with prior exposure to alcohol, drugs by Brown Daily HeraldApr 23, 2015 “The rate of babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in Rhode Island has doubled between 2006 and 2013 according to Rhode Island Kids Count’s 2015 Factbook. Babies are born with NAS when exposed to opioids, such as vicodin, oxycontin and heroin, in the womb.
“For a state our size, the fact that 76 babies were born (in 2013) with opioid exposure is an alarming statistic,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of R.I. Kids Count. “It’s on everyone’s radar screen as a number that we want to turn around and improve.”
Babies with NAS undergo physical withdrawal from opioids where “everything kind of revs up,” said Marcia VanVleet MPH’10, assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the Newborn Nursery at Women and Infants Hospital, adding that these symptoms include high fever, diarrhea, rapid breathing and irritability.
The newborns “miss the opioids they had been exposed to in utero,” VanVleet said, adding that symptoms typically appear between three to five days after birth, depending on the drug type and last dosage taken.
While withdrawal in babies is similar to adults easing off drug use, babies are affected more because of their smaller stature, VanVleet said. Babies can become dehydrated through vomiting and diarrhea and also experience seizures — symptoms adults do not usually exhibit — she added.
This increase may come as a result of the fact that more women of reproductive age are becoming addicted to opioids, said Lynn Hess ’99, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior. The increase in addiction is due to a “historically enormous increase in the number of prescription drugs that are being prescribed by doctors,” she added.
Patients can start using opioids for pain relief, but then their body becomes physically dependent on the substance, Hess said, adding that a patient might find that the opioid “feels good, helps them forget their problems (and) helps them become more productive.”
But pregnant women addicted to opioids are not recommended to stop opioid use while pregnant because the “risk of relapse is very high,” Hess said. When opioid addicts stop using, they develop flu-like symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting and tremors, she added. When pregnant addicts relapse, finding opioids becomes a priority, even over taking care of their babies. Instead of asking pregnant women addicted to opioids to stop using during pregnancy, physicians prescribe either methadone and buprenorphine — one of which is an opioid, and the other acts like an opioid, respectively. Both of these medications also cause NAS in babies.
Treatment is administered early on in a baby’s life to get drugs out of his or her system, Bryant said.
Babies exposed to opioids are treated with morphine, methadone and phenobarbital, VanVleet said.
“These trends are the same that people are seeing nationally, so I’m not surprised,” VanVleet said, adding that the number of babies born to mothers taking prescription medications, morphine and methadone have all increased. A possible solution is ensuring access to high-quality prenatal care, Bryant said, adding that “it is so much wiser to invest in prevention than have to intervene when these bad outcomes happen.” Ultimately better communication between providers and patients is also part of the solution, VanVleet said.”