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Brown University

Brown Campus News
Letter: Article misleads on campus consumption
by Brown Daily Herald

Apr 11, 2014
“We write to offer a broader perspective on the University’s work to address alcohol and substance use, in response to the article by Riley Davis and Joseph Zappa . We appreciate the authors’ clear description of Emergency Medical Services and how well they are embraced by students.  However, the article did not articulate the overall context of harm reduction in which the University’s policies and programs are based, nor did it mention other services and programs available on campus.  
Health Education offers many programs, educational materials and an extensive web site, all of which are designed to provide students with accurate information and harm reduction strategies. Residential Life and the Residential Peer Leaders work to create respectful communities in which alcohol and other drug use are not disruptive. Student Activities staff work with student organizations to emphasize broad appeal and safety in event planning and implementation. Dean of Chemical Dependency Kathleen McSharry provides support for students in recovery and educates the campus community about the impact of alcohol and other drugs.  The Office of Student Life and Psychological Services also regularly supports students whose lives are disrupted by substance abuse. And the Student Conduct system addresses incidents in which a student’s alcohol or drug use causes individual or community harm.
Perceptions of use are always higher than what is actually true. For example, Brown students believe that 87 percent of their peers have smoked marijuana in the past 30 days, far more than the 25 percent who have.  It’s unfortunate that the authors of this article relied so heavily on a few anonymous interviews. In doing so, they have contributed to misperception of use on campus. Consider the results of two well-constructed anonymous, web-based surveys of Brown students conducted in 2012 and 2013:
• 1 out of 5 Brown students don’t drink
• 3 out of 4 Brown students haven’t smoked marijuana in the past 30 days
• Less than 10 percent of Brown students have ever used ecstasy or MDMA
We regularly see students who don’t drink or use any drugs. Some students feel isolated and outside the norm, when in fact they are part of the majority that isn’t drinking heavily or using drugs. We also see students who recognize that one or more of their friends is using alcohol and drugs in harmful ways. They don’t like it when friends turn into ‘people I don’t recognize.’ They want support for establishing other options, but they often feel caught up in the false belief that ‘this is what everyone does in college.’ Highlighting the extreme doesn’t help us come up with solutions.
The University is fortunate to have one of the most diverse and most interesting student bodies in the world. We cherish this diversity and work very hard to foster a campus environment that supports all students. We hope that future Herald articles on this topic will present a more complete picture of students’ attitudes and behaviors around drugs and alcohol.
Margaret Klawunn, Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services, Interim Dean of the College
Kathleen McSharry, Bruce Donovan ’59 Dean of Chemical Dependency
MaryLou McMillan ’85, Senior Director for Planning and Student Engagement
Allen Ward, Senior Associate Dean for Student Life
Frances Mantak ’88, Director of Health Education”

Pension settlement breakdown challenges candidate’s campaign strategy
by Brown Daily Herald

Apr 11, 2014
“The proposed settlement to end the battle over Rhode Island’s pension overhaul unveiled in February by Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 P’17 and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo was ultimately voted down Monday. Following the November 2011 legislation overhauling the state’s pension system in an attempt to close the projected pension deficit, state unions filed a lawsuit against Rhode Island.
The proposed pension settlement, described by Chafee and Raimondo as a solution preferible to bringing the case to court, was rejected by 61 percent of police officers in the state’s unions who were eligible to vote on the matter, WPRI reported.
Raimondo first made national headlines in 2011 with this widely contested pension overhaul. This week’s defeat comes in the midst of a new phase of Raimondo’s gubernatorial campaign, after she released a series of four policy proposals on manufacturing, infrastructure, workforce development and tourism as part of her economic plan designed to promote job growth. Raimondo has not yet released the details of the fifth and final policy proposal in her plan.
In the aftermath of the vote, Raimondo clashed with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, one of Raimondo’s opponents in the Sep. 9 primary.
“Had Treasurer Raimondo chosen to sit down with labor in 2011, rather than waiting until a court ordered her to negotiate, we may have saved Rhode Island two and a half years of litigation with no end in sight,” said Taveras’ campaign spokeswoman Dawn Bergantino, according to Rhode Isand Public Radio.
“The mayor missed 80 percent of pension meetings during the first half of his term,” Raimondo’s campaign manager, Eric Hyers, said in response, according to Rhode Island Public Radio. Providence’s “pension fund is $700 million short of what it needs to pay retirees and is funded at a lower percentage than when he took office and after his pension ‘reform.’”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block called the pension settlement “an embarrassing chapter in Rhode Island’s history,” placing partial blame on the mediation between the unions and Democratic politicians, which aimed to “work out an agreement behind closed doors to change the law,” in a March 25 Providence Journal op-ed.
While other Democratic gubernatorial candidates contractor Todd Giroux and political newcomer Clay Pell have not released any extensive policy plans, Taveras has promoted three proposals over the past several months on early childhood education,  pay equity for women in the state and a hike of the state’s minimum wage.”

Srinivasan ’15 wins UCS presidency
by Brown Daily Herald

Apr 11, 2014
“Maahika Srinivasan ’15 was elected the next president of the Undergraduate Council of Students and Sazzy Gourley ’16 was elected vice president, announced Heather Sabel ’17, UCS Elections Board chair, on the Faunce steps at midnight Friday.
Srinivasan defeated Jonathan Vu ’15 and Asia Nelson ’15 with 54 percent of the vote, while Gourley topped Alex Drechsler ’15 with 67 percent of the vote.
Undergraduates cast 2,991 votes in the election — a slight increase from last year’s runoff UCS presidential election, and a roughly 49 percent rise from last year’s initial voting period, when 2,008 votes were cast.
“I’m feeling incredible, so proud of everything that my friends have done, that everyone has done for me,” Srinivasan said after the announcement was made. “I’m feeling really ambitious about everything that we can do. I’m really excited about everything we can, we should and we will do.”
Gourley said he looks forward to bringing to fruition the ideas he heard from students over the course of his campaign. “I’m really excited to continue the conversations with students that I’ve started so far, and continue to move those forward in a way that reflects how students themselves want them to be moved forward,” he said.
“I’m very confident knowing Maahika will do a great job in the coming year as president,” Vu said. “I wish the new administration all the best. As always, I’ll be here to help the Brown community any way I can.”
Though he has not “entirely decided yet” how he will participate in UCS in the coming year, he said, “I really just want to be involved in some way.”
“I had an amazing time running,” Nelson told The Herald. “I really felt like I grew as a person in these last seven days.”
Nelson said she is certain she will continue participating in the Council next year. “Our retention rate is one of the most important aspects” of UCS, she said. “I will work to continue to bridge the gap between the University administration and the student body, no matter what position I have.”
Drechsler expressed his commitment to continue working on the issues that he focused on during his campaign. “Obviously I’m disappointed, but I am very energized by everybody I’ve met, and I’m looking forward to working with them,” he said. Drechsler added that he was happy to see some of his main priorities regarding student representation gain traction in the election.
Ryan Lessing ’17 was elected chair of Admissions and Student Services and Walker Mills ’15 was elected chair of Campus Life, each with 51 percent of the vote. E-Soo Kim ’15 was elected chair of Student Activities with 54 percent of the vote, and Malikah Williams ’16 was elected treasurer with 72 percent of the vote. Elena Saltzman ’16, running uncontested, was elected chair of the Academic and Administrative Affairs Committee.
Alex Sherry ’15 and Dakotah Rice ’16, both unopposed, were elected chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Undergraduate Finance Board.
For the eight UFB at-large representative positions, all eight candidates were elected: Thomas Abebe ’17, Jordan Ferguson ’17, Florene Frenot ’16, Fredrick Rhine ’15, Sameer Sarkar ’16, Carolyn Stichnoth ’16, Matt Wood ’17 and Richard Yue ’16. Frenot is a Herald copy editor, and Sarkar is one of The Herald’s directors of finance. Gaurav Nakhare ’15, running unopposed, was elected Ivy Council head delegate.
No write-in candidates for any positions received over 5 percent of the vote to qualify for consideration in the official elections process, Sabel announced.”

Spring Weekend ‘After Dark’ party announces lineup
by Brown Daily Herald

Apr 04, 2014
““After Dark 2014” released its full lineup March 27, giving Brown and Rhode Island School of Design students another event to look forward to amid the Spring Weekend festivities. The After Dark party commences at the end of Friday’s Spring Weekend concert, running from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.
This year’s lineup includes Vito and Druzzi — DJs for electronic dance group The Rapture — Bixel Boys, the Range (the pseudonym of DJ James Hinton ’10) and Tukker. All the acts are dance music-based, but Olivia Fialkow ’14, one of the event’s coordinators, said this year there will be “different sounds and different (sub)genres.”
A small group of Brown upperclassmen, working under the name “Oberge,” organized the event and brought the acts to Providence. Alex Oberg ’12.5, one of the organizers, described the party as being “by Brown students, for Brown students.” Oberge aims to bring musicians to Providence who may not otherwise have been inclined to perform here. Cheno Pinter ’14, who is a member of Oberge alongside Fialkow and Oberg, explained that these DJs often play venues in nearby New York and Boston, passing right by Providence.
In prior years, Spring Weekend after-parties have been shut down by police, making events complicated and unreliable, Fialkow said. Oberge’s After Dark aims to create a “safe space” where students do not have to “worry about cops” and can “celebrate music and have fun.”
The group hopes to create an event  geared toward Brown and RISD students over 18, Oberg said. Lupo’s stood out as an ideal venue for the party based on its expansive size. Oberg said he and his peers hope to open up the event to as many people as possible. Oberge is not affiliated with the Brown Concert Agency and is not formally recognized by Brown as a student group.
The After Dark party sold out entirely last year. The organizers received a lot of positive feedback from students excited about last year’s performance by LCD Soundsystem DJ James Murphy, and as a result, attendees said they eagerly anticipated more events in the future, Fialkow said.
Pinter said she heard fellow students declare After Dark the “best party at Brown” and the “best event yet.”
The group struggled to find artists this year because coordinators had to compete with bookings for the Coachella music festival and European tours, Fialkow said, adding that this year’s lineup is more diverse than the previous year. She said the group is excited to “support Brown (alums), current Brown students (and) artists from Providence.”
Despite having more difficulty finding artists to perform, Oberg said the group “doubled production from last year” and will now be incorporating “light shows and visuals.”
Pinter also said the group is very conscious about feedback and is working to improve with every new concert.
Oberg said the organizers “don’t want to infringe on Spring Weekend turnout,” so tickets are now available via presale in order to avoid a rush of people coming to After Dark early to obtain tickets.
“They put on a great show last year, and we managed to share audiences with few problems,” said Will Peterson ’14, publicity chair for BCA.
Though some of Oberge’s organizers will graduate this spring, they anticipate another show in the fall and hope underclassmen will pick up where they leave off, Fialkow said.”

For ‘Grito,’ costumes fit actors and atmosphere
by Brown Daily Herald

Apr 04, 2014
“When Jo’Nella Ellerbe ’15 first began practicing the opening scene of “El Grito Del Bronx,” she found it difficult to move as if she was wearing her character’s bridal gown.
The play, which debuted in Leeds Theater Thursday night, follows a young woman on the cusp of marriage and her fraught relationship with her violent, imprisoned brother. Ellerbe considers herself as in a “completely different place” from her character, Lulu, who is at an age where “marriage is a real possibility in the near future,” she said. But this sentiment changed drastically when she was placed in the dress while being fitted in the costume shop.
“For that scene, now it feels more truthful,” Ellerbe said. “When I put on the dress, I just said, ‘Wow.’”
Alison Carrier, costume director for “El Grito” and a freelance costume designer for theater at Brown, plays a central role in creating this visual for the audience. Since the play traverses many different time periods, Carrier works with various artistic directors, in areas from props to staging, to develop a coherent picture. Discussions of this vision usually start before the rehearsal process even begins to make sure that there is an overlap between disparate artistic factions, Carrier said.
“For the most part, ‘El Grito’ called for more modern day clothes. So I would go to different thrift stores, like Savers, and look on,” Carrier said. “But in other cases, you might have to visit speciality websites or make some of the pieces by hand.”
In order to maintain a cohesive aesthetic, the costume and props departments will often check with each other about color and style, wrote Ronald Cesario, the University’s costume shop manager, in an email to The Herald.
Budgetary concerns usually also play a major role in such planning stages, but financing was not an issue for this show. “I honestly never asked (about the budget) because I knew it was going to be a second-hand show and I knew I wasn’t going to be spending a lot of money,” Carrier said. “But usually, the designer has no control over the budget.”
The costume director takes measurements of the actors before the rehearsal process begins in order to collaborate with the performers and get a feel for their appearances. This information allows Carrier to craft practical, functional costumes that provide the actors with freedom of movement throughout the rehearsal process while maintaining the play’s intended atmosphere, she said.
“In this play, costumes function together as a group. So there are gas station attendants that have a particular look, and characters that play mothers have their own look. Yet when you put it together, it all makes one picture,” Carrier said.
Strong costumes often help solidify an actor’s performance. Vincent Tomasino ’14, assistant director for “El Grito,” said he finds great value in the choice of an actor’s shoes.
“In ‘El Grito,’ there are lots of clothes that we even wear today. But once an actor puts on shoes, it changes the way they walk and move,” Tomasino said. “It’s one thing to act like you are wearing something and a completely other thing to actually be in it.”
During tech rehearsals, actors must remain in their costumes in order to become totally immersed in their characters, Tomasino said, adding that this requirement is helpful in discovering the particular limitations that final costumes might pose. For example, in Shakespearean theater, actresses often rehearse in full skirts, helping them to understand how to move in an Elizabethan-style dress. In rehearsals, costumes help actors become aware of what they are doing with their bodies, Tomasino said.
“We think about time differently. We think about steps differently. We put personas forward differently in different time periods,” said Ken Prestininzi, the play’s director. “Costumes are about how we present ourselves knowingly and unknowingly.””

Women’s lacrosse team wins fifth Ocean State Cup in five years
by Brown Daily Herald

Apr 04, 2014
“Bouncing back from its first two losses of the season last week, the women’s lacrosse team defeated Bryant University 15-7 Monday to win the Ocean State Cup. 
Bruno has taken the Cup in each of the five years it has been awarded.
“We haven’t lost yet,” said Janie Gion ’15, who scored a career-high five goals, the most of any player in Monday’s game. “We pride ourselves on being the best team in Rhode Island.”
The memory of recent narrow losses may have spurred the Bears to action on the field.
“We had just lost to Dartmouth by one and the game before that to Denver by one. We were definitely very fired up,” Gion said.
Despite the energy, Bruno (8-2, 2-1 Ivy) struggled in the early minutes against the Bulldogs (6-3). After Gion fired Brown’s first goal a minute into the game, Bryant jumped out to a 4-1 lead with four consecutive goals. Lisa Vendel scored three of the four and accounted for over half of the Bulldogs’ offensive total on the day.
The Bears took a timeout five minutes into play, which helped swing the momentum toward their side, Gion said.
Gion responded with her second goal, jumpstarting Bruno’s response to Bryant’s early lead.
Richael Walsh ’16 followed Gion with a goal of her own to narrow the score to 4-3, and co-captain Bre Hudgins ’14 scored twice to give the Bears the lead. After Bryant scored to tie the game at five, Kerianne Hunt ’17 and co-captain Grace Healy ’14 scored one a piece. Piling on, Gion notched an impressive three more goals to push her total to five by the end the half. Bruno would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
Entering halftime, the Bears led 10-6 and had outshot the Bulldogs by eight. They entered the second stanza with a rock-solid defense that allowed only one more Bryant goal. Though Bruno eased into its offensive domination during the first half, the Bears’ talented defense starred in the second.
“We prepared really well,” Gion said. “All of our defenders scouted well, and they each shut (their opponent) down really well.”
The first 12 minutes of the second period were scoreless, as neither defense budged. Hudgins eventually opened the door for the Bears, taking advantage of a defensive breakdown to fire her third goal of the game into an empty net. Hudgins leads the team and the Ivy League with 30 goals on the season. Healy scored her second goal of the game two minutes later off an assist from Danielle Mastro ’14, one of Mastro’s whopping five total assists on the day.
The Bears continued to hold off the Bulldog offense as Hunt scored her second goal and Mastro her first late in the contest. With the Bears leading 14-6, Bryant netted its only goal of the half with five minutes left. Mollie Lane ’17 notched her first collegiate goal and the last goal of the game with one second remaining, topping off Brown’s 15-7 win over Bryant and its unbroken five-year ownership of the Ocean State Cup. The team often refers to its focus on the “little things” in lacrosse as a main reason for its success.
Bruno remains tied for second place in the Ivy League, though its overall win percentage is the highest in the conference. Kelly Roddy ’15 continues to lead Ancient Eight goalies with a commanding 50 percent save percentage. As Mastro racks up her assists and goals, she joins her teammates in leading the conference, outperforming all of her peers in total points.
The Bears will travel to Cambridge Saturday to take on Ivy rival Harvard (4-4, 2-1 Ivy). The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 as both teams — currently  tied for second in the Ivy League — will try to climb the conference ladder.”

Brown admits record-low 8.6 percent
by Brown Daily Herald

Mar 27, 2014
“The University extended offers of admission to 8.6 percent of applicants to the class of 2018, marking the lowest percentage of admitted students in University history, said Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73.
From a pool of 30,432 applicants, the second-largest in University history, there were 2,619 students admitted to the class of 2018, representing all 50 states and 89 nations, according to data provided by the Office of Admission. The office expects the class to end up with around 1,560 students, Miller said.
Applicants were able to log onto Brown’s website Thursday at 5 p.m. EST to check their admission decision.
These admits will join the 583 students who were admitted to the class in December during the early admission cycle.
One hundred students were admitted to the Program in Liberal Medical Education, and 16 students were admitted to the Brown/Rhode Island School of Design Dual Degree Program, according to the data provided by the Admission Office.
“This was the single most challenging year to be admitted to Brown in our history,” Miller said.
The pool of admitted students reached a record-high level of ethnic diversity, with 46 percent of students identifying as students of color. Twenty percent of admits identify as Asian, 13 percent as black or African-American, 13 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 2 percent as American Indian or Alaska Native and 1 percent as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Miller said.
A record 18 percent of admitted students are first-generation college students. Sixty-seven percent applied for financial aid, Miller said.
Sixty-three percent of admitted students attended public high schools, while 30 percent attended private and 7 percent attended parochial.
The sciences were popular among admits, with 37 percent listing areas in the physical sciences as their top academic interest, according to the Admission Office data. Twenty-five percent noted concentrations in the social sciences, 20 percent in the life and medical sciences and 13 percent in the humanities. Five percent of admitted students said they were undecided.
Engineering was the most popular intended concentration for admits, with 332 students listing it as their top choice. Biology, computer science, biochemistry and molecular biology and undecided rounded out the top five. The popularity of science concentrations “reflects a national trend,” Miller said, adding that “a lot of the top students across the country are focusing on sciences … more than they did certainly a decade or so ago.”
The most common home state for admitted students was California, with 396 admits. New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are home to 298, 205 and 143 admits, respectively. Florida and Texas tied for the fifth spot with 94 students each, according to the Admission Office data.
In total, 394 international students were admitted. China, India, Canada and the United Kingdom were the top four foreign nations for international accepted students with 42, 31, 28 and 28 students admitted, respectively.
Miller did not disclose how many students were offered spots on the waitlist, but he said admission officers “expect maybe 400 or so to stay on the waitlist.” These students will learn if they have been offered a position by “mid-May at the earliest,” he said. No students on the waitlist for the class of 2017 were offered admission, but the number has been as high as 75 within the past five years, he added.
The other Ivy League schools also released their admission decisions Thursday.
Columbia admitted 6.94 percent, Cornell admitted 14 percent, Dartmouth admitted 11.5 percent, Harvard admitted 5.9 percent, Penn admitted 9.9 percent, Princeton admitted 7.28 percent and Yale admitted 6.26 percent.
The Ivies all have fairly consistent admission rates compared to last year, said Michele Hernandez, a college consultant and former assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth.
Many admitted students said they were shocked to learn they had been accepted.
Rachel Steppe of Woodstock, Ga., said she checked her decision online during a track practice. “I still can’t believe it. I just feel super fortunate to be included,” she said.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to get it,” said Hailey Winstead of Southport, N.C. She said she screamed in excitement and started singing “I’m the Man” by Aloe Blacc upon reading her acceptance after several minutes of refreshing the website.
Beatriz Garza of Mission, Texas, said she became interested in Brown after talking with current students. “The open curriculum can give me the chance to explore everything I’m interested in,” she added.
Admitted students are invited to A Day on College Hill, which takes place April 22 to 24. They have until May 1 to make enrollment decisions.”

Upadhyay ’15: Curbing grade inflation
by Brown Daily Herald

Mar 21, 2014
“After The Herald reported recent Office of Institutional Research data regarding the grade distribution at Brown last week, our grading system has come to the forefront of campus conversation. With over half of all students receiving As, our skewed distribution of grades indicates inflationary trends, especially when compared to the proportion of As given out a decade ago.
In a recent column , Sam Hillestad ’15 argues that the very existence of a grading system is ill-suited for Brown and should be done away with. He claims sampling bias is fully responsible for the increase in As — a statement that is simply untrue. While one may argue about the strength of the correlation between grades and intelligence, grades serve as one of two potential signals: an indicator of one’s performance on an absolute basis, in which percentage cutoffs are set, or a measure of one’s success relative to his or her peers. Because Brown uses a mixture of these two systems across concentrations in a combination of curves and cutoffs, it’s fair to say grades accomplish both goals here at Brown.
If one accepts that to be true, then the claim that students are simply smarter than they were a decade ago, as supposedly evidenced in lower acceptance rates, lacks factual support. This statement could only carry weight if Brown had a uniform grading system based on percentage cutoffs across concentrations, acting as a measure of academic achievement independent of how others perform. Insofar as Brown makes use of curves that gauge students on a relative basis, a common system across economics courses, there must be more to the 53.4 percent of As than increasingly intelligent students on a standalone basis.
Given this, the high preponderance of As at Brown diminishes the very purpose of grades as a means of differentiating oneself through success. Unless Brown plans to shift toward the London School of Economics system, where marks are entirely awarded based on numerical scores, something must be done to preserve the integrity of grades.
At present, the lack of pluses and minuses fails to do just that. Scaling the proportion of students who received a letter grade to 100 percent of the proportion of all grades and treating As, Bs and Cs as 4.0, 3.0 and 2.0 gives us an average undergraduate GPA of above 3.6 — an A-minus average across the student body. With so many students attaining high grades, how can one set himself or herself apart through academic performance? It becomes increasingly difficult to do so, and the brightest students often fail to distinguish themselves.
Hillestad believes recommendation letters from professors and a GRE score can subsitute for a GPA and grades for those who want to exhibit their academic success. Yet the very purpose of these instruments is to augment grades to give graduate schools and employers a more holistic sense of our achievements and capability, not to replace them. Asking institutions to use written-word evaluations and a single test score, as opposed to four years of performance, to make hiring and acceptance decisions is impractical.
Hillestad claims there should be a focus on intrinsic value of knowledge, not an “archaic” grading system. But this makes little logical sense. How does one measure the intrinsic value of his or her Brown education if we do away with grades? Should it be the tuition we pay? Should it be how we’re ranked against other universities, which would be even more arbitrary than grading? Grades serve the essential purpose of signaling the efforts made and critical thinking skills utilized by students during their undergraduate educations. They allow us to be compared on a more normalized basis. Graduating with honors or high marks bestows a deserved sense of pride and rightfully positions students well in the search for a job. This should not be done away with just because we don’t go to Princeton.
To remedy grade inflation, which limits differentiation and makes these signals harder for graduate schools to realize, a plus-minus grading system would serve Brown well. At present, professors are incentivized to give students the benefit of the doubt on the margin because the drop from grade to grade affects students’ GPAs significantly. Moreover, we treat students who score perfectly or near perfectly — a sign of mastery of the course material — analogous to those who score in the low 90s.
The same can be said for the rest of the letter grades, and the ultimate result is students of appreciably different skills and coursework quality receiving the same recognition for their classwork. Introducing pluses and minuses would resolve this issue and allow top performers to set themselves apart, perhaps even with an A+ counting as 4.3 like at other peer institutions, while making the drop-offs among letter grades less daunting for professors and students alike.
Like Hillestad, many will argue the issue lies not with Brown’s system, but with the outside world of graduate schools and employers who are GPA-centric. Nevertheless, failing to remedy the current system will do more harm than good in the long run. With the current inflated average GPA and increasing allocation of As, GPA will become less of a differentiating factor and more of a minimum threshold for hiring. Students will then have to compete more intensively on items that aren’t based on merit, such as ability to find internships and build work experience. A plus-minus system, in addition to providing the aforementioned benefits to students and professors, would offer an additional means for successful students to set themselves apart.
While Brown undoubtedly emphasizes learning over grades through the generous satisfactory/no credit system, with no officially computed GPA and the lack of a Dean’s List, a plus-minus system is still necessary to alleviate the pressures placed on professors and to allow top performers to truly set themselves apart. Our current grading system has led to an environment in which the average student is a near-top performer, a paradox in and of itself.
The last time a plus-minus system was proposed in 2006, it was struck down before reaching the faculty. All four students on the College Curriculum Council voted against it, and the proposal fell short by one vote. Students at Brown should undoubtedly have a say in such a proposal, but it should be through direct democracy across the student body rather than four representatives speaking on an issue that necessarily affects every undergraduate. Given the decade-long increase in distribution of As at Brown, the discussion of our conversion to a new system is a conversation worth having.
Jay Upadhyay ’15 is an economics concentrator.”

Women’s History Month yields variety of programming
by Brown Daily Herald

Mar 21, 2014
““It took me a while to even realize (DJ K-Swift) was a woman because her songs were pretty filthy,” said Jackson Morley, a local DJ and the workshop manager for the Avenue Concept, a public art program, at the Ladies DJ Workshop Tuesday night. Morley and Samantha Calamari, professionally known as DJ Sister Squid, co-hosted the workshop in the Underground as part of the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center’s Women’s History Month.
This year’s Women’s History Month focused around the theme “Action, Activism and Advocacy.” Outside of the DJ workshop, the month’s events included movie screenings, readings and discussions on dieting, grieving and social justice.
Juhee Kwon ’14, who led a screening and panel discussion about the role of women of color in activism, noted that this month’s theme captured the center’s efforts to bring together individuals actively involved in social change.
“A lot of what we do on this campus is we sit around in a circle,” she said. “We should somehow transition from this closed-off intellectual conversation in an ivory tower to really bringing about change.”
Herstory of DJing
Students trickled into the Underground Tuesday to listen to the Ladies DJ Workshop discussion and were transported back in time by the fully equipped turntable — records included — dominating the center of the floor. As students glanced uncertainly at the display, Morley told the crowd that one of the biggest barriers DJs face is acquiring equipment, which can cost up to $400.
Morley dove into a brief outline of the history of DJing, highlighting famous female DJs like DJ K-Swift, DJ Sheron, DJ Heather and Miss Kittin.
“With all these women, there’s definitely a presence, but there’s not a majority role,” Calamari said. She went on to describe her own experience as a female DJ, which began spontaneously when she spun at a friend’s birthday party as a child. She ended up joining an all-female artist collective, known as Herstory, in San Francisco in the early 2000s.
“I guess I didn’t realize it was not just about showing up with a bag of records,” Calamari said. She discussed how she had to learn how to curate music and facilitate the party atmosphere. “I was getting a lot of attention just because I was a female and I was playing music.”
As a member of the collective, Calamari hosted monthly speakeasies that promoted visual art, music and spoken word. She said the collective sought to promote music with a positive message, a characteristic not always present in hip-hop. The speakeasies were supposed to be a “nurturing experience,” where food was often provided and artists would paint live interpretations of spoken word pieces as they were presented. Calamari described the events as a  “multi-sensory definition of who women were in an artistic space.”
The collective also discussed the work of other female DJs like Pam the Funktress, who was known for using her breasts to spin records “as a sort of gimmick to show off,” Calamari said. Herstory members debated whether this action presented a positive or negative image, she added.
Calamari described how technology often shaped her career as a female DJ. “It was really about having to prove oneself a little bit in a technical way,” she said. But after the shift to more digital equipment, there was no longer as much of a technology barrier. It “shifted from me being a female DJ to just being a DJ,” she said.
With so few students in the room, the lecture turned into an informal discussion where students contributed their own questions and observations. Later in the evening, participants had the opportunity to work with the turntables, experimenting with beat matching and sound controls.
“It looks like we have a scratch DJ,” Morley joked as one of the audience members worked with the equipment. Scratching is a DJ technique where artists manipulate the playing of records to create a distinctive sound.
Tagged-on identities?
Throughout Women’s History Month, participants and coordinators have grappled with issues of diversity and representation.
Kwon said it is important to ensure the conversations throughout Women’s History Month feature people from many different genders and races, adding that she believes women’s history often focuses on white women. She said she felt marginalized at other female-focused events on campus, citing FemSex, which she alleged fails to represent students with diverse identities.
Comparatively, she said, the center has done a great job of incorporating other identities into its Women’s History Month programming.
“We try to include speakers and workshops from people from all breadths of feminism,” said Elisa Glubok ’14, one of the coordinators of Women’s History Month. She pointed to an event with Cristy Road, a Cuban-American graphic novelist, as an example of these efforts.
Kwon helped coordinate a screening of “Mountains That Take Wing,” which also featured a discussion with activist Yuri Kochiyama and other local female activists. Now that the event has passed, Kwon hopes she and her fellow coordinators will continue to reflect on whether the members of the panel “view their identities as women of color as being really, really relevant to their work,” she said.
“Was (woman of color) just an identity we tagged on? Who composed the panel? Were a lot of people more light-skinned than others?” Kwon said, citing several questions she hopes the coordinators will continue to address.
Glubok noted that these events allowed the Women’s History Month coordinators to see problems students will need to tackle in the future.
She said she especially enjoyed a film screening and discussion with Julia Liu ’06, who as a student co-directed a film looking at various social movements throughout the University’s history. Glubok said the event was small enough to facilitate a productive discussion, which featured diverse perspectives — including those of a few Brown alums.
“It was simultaneously really encouraging to see what progress we have made and discouraging to see a lot of the same battles being fought,” she said, noting that many of the issues surrounding sexual assault have remained the same for the past 20 years.
Overcoming barriers
Certain celebrations, such as Women’s History Month or Black History Month, often give rise to fears about further marginalizing these groups by only allotting them a single month, organizers said.
“Sometimes after we delegate that or allocate that month or that time to a specific identity, we forget what the ultimate goal is,” Kwon said. “The ultimate goal is to get rid of the boundaries and the barriers that allowed for the segregation or the need for that separation to happen in the first place.” One problem in achieving this goal is the narrow audience campus events for Women’s History Month often seem to draw, she said.
But Kwon said she thinks these celebrations are important so long as the community can avoid perpetuating the barriers Women’s History Month is supposed to surmount.
“Historically, the voices of women are grossly underrepresented and the history of women doesn’t get a lot of space in other contexts,” Glubok said. “This is a time to specifically focus on that and celebrate women of the past and the present.”
The center will continue to focus on these issues throughout the year, Glubok said, especially going into April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“The great thing about the themes that we chose is that they never stop being relevant to the campus environment,” she said. “A lot of what we tried to emphasize is that this is an ongoing history.””

Diamonds and Coal: March 21, 2014
by Brown Daily Herald

Mar 21, 2014
“Cubic zirconia to the first-year who said he “should have been reading the Morning Mail.” Yeah, right after he went on the Facebook and watched videos on the Youtube.
A diamond to Carolan Norris, associate director of athletics, who said of the One for Me program, “We just want these student-athletes to open themselves up to something new.” We hear the Poler Bears are hiring …
A diamond  to DJ Pam the Funkstress, who is known for using her breasts to spin records. We hear she keeps a party bouncing.
Coal to Fiery Cushman, assistant professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences, who explained his decision to leave Brown for Harvard by saying, “This is what academics call the two-body problem.” Or as Harry Potter would call it, polyjuice potion.
A diamond to the Alpha Epsilon Pi pledge who said, “Things got rowdy early and stayed that way the whole time” on St. Patrick’s Day. We can’t wait to hear how his Spring Weekend turns out.
Cubic zirconia to David Walton ’01, who said, “I loved it from the first time I ever did it.” We’ll leave it at that.
A diamond to James Allen, professor of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian studies, who said, “It is not easy to opt out of the family.” We haven’t seen the last person who tried.
Coal to Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who said, “All living beings love their babies.” Someone didn’t even read the Sparknotes version of Medea.
A diamond to Will Guzzardi ’09, winner of the Illinois Democratic primary for general assembly, who said “We’re really good at hitting doors and talking to people.” All the years on the taekwondo team are paying off!
Coal to Richard Bova, senior associate dean of residential life and dining services, who said the housing lottery “was the most stressful aspect of many students’ lives in the spring semester.” Clearly he doesn’t know any students taking orgo, dealing with breakups or studying for midterms.
A diamond to Rep. Ray Hull, D-Providence, who said “My years serving the people of District 6 have been incredibly rewarding.” We’re happy you feel that way, but we’re still rooting for Katniss. District 12 for life.”

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