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Long-time Brown University employee Armando Carvalho dies
by Brown Daily Herald

May 29, 2015
“Armando Carvalho, a member of the Department of Facilities Management for 18 years, died Thursday. He was 51. President Christina Paxson P’19 notified the Brown community of his death in a campus-wide email Friday morning.
An immigrant from the Azores in Portugal, Carvalho is survived in Rhode Island by his wife, Fatima; his two sons, Leo and Justin; his granddaughter, Nazalya and his three siblings, Paxson wrote.
Carvalho began working at the University as a temporary custodian in 1997, quickly moving to a full-time position by February 1998 and transitioning to another shift at the end of that year, Paxson wrote. He was “recognized by his supervisor as someone who was always willing to help out and who worked at a high level,” she wrote, adding that co-workers singled out Carvalho for his optimism and kindness toward others.
Representatives from Facilities Management could not be immediately reached for comment.”

Corporation discusses STEM education, strategic planning
by Brown Daily Herald

May 24, 2015
“Corporation members held informal discussions with undergraduates about socioeconomic issues and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses at their meeting this week, President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a community-wide email Friday.
The Corporation also accepted $25 million in gifts and reviewed progress on strategic planning and campus development at its annual May meeting.
Corporation members, administrators and students informally addressed the topics “STEM education at Brown” and “socioeconomic barriers to success at Brown,” Paxson wrote. The Undergraduate Council of Students selected 12 students to participate in each discussion on a first-come, first-serve basis, giving preference to upperclassmen and looking for a balance in campus involvement, said UCS President Sazzy Gourley ’16. The goal of the discussions was to “elevate student voices and issues not normally heard at the institutional level,” Gourley said.
In the discussion on STEM education, students touched upon the environments of introductory classes, the role of teaching assistants and the support offered within the classroom and from the Office of the Dean of the College, Gourley said.
Diversity in STEM fields surfaced as a key concern, with many students criticizing the “ways they feel Brown is lacking in supporting students from underrepresented minorities in science,” he said. Students stressed “the importance of bringing in dialogue of current events and race into the classroom,” he added.
Students also addressed STEM advising and the burden placed on peer mentoring groups, such as the Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Women in Computer Science, Women in Science and Engineering and Departmental Undergraduate Groups, which need to receive more support, Gourley said.
Mental health support also fostered some discussion, with students telling Corporation members about the impact of teaching styles on their emotional well-being, he said.
In the discussion on socioeconomic issues, Gourley said students criticized the lack of clarity regarding which University resources are available to support first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds.
The difference between actual and perceived need in financial aid awards also dominated the discussion, Gourley said. The student contribution figure places “a huge burden on students to sometimes work multiple on-campus jobs” and affects how involved students can become in social and extracurricular activities, he said. Many students noted that the summer earnings expectation has “major impacts” on summer opportunities, especially unpaid internships, he said. Brown-funded summer awards are “only slightly more than the actual summer earnings expectation,” he added, citing the $400 difference between the $3,100 expectation for upperclassmen and $3,500 stipend from the iProv Summer Internship Program.
“Assumptions about what students can provide for themselves once on campus” also emerged as a key topic of conversation, Gourley said. Many upperclassmen spoke of the difficulty of helping underclassmen navigate grocery shopping and finding meals, especially during Thanksgiving, spring and winter breaks when Dining Services maintains a different schedule, he said.
In the academic realm, students told Corporation members and administrators they sometimes “feel unable to take courses because they can’t afford the books to enroll,” Gourley said. 
“To some degree, some of the administrators present were aware of some of these issues. But for many of the Corporation members, these discussions were the first time they were hearing about these experiences and issues that students are facing — especially with regard to socioeconomic barriers,” Gourley said. While Brown has built a more diverse student body over the years, “a lot of the support resources for a more diverse student body are not in place at the level they need to be for these students,” he said. The discussions brought light to what resources are and are not available to students, he added.
Moving forward, Gourley said UCS will follow up with individual administrators and Corporation members to identify solutions to the issues raised in the discussions.
The Corporation appointed 11 new parents and alums to the Board of Trustees, Paxson wrote, most of whom come from consulting and banking backgrounds. Sixteen faculty members were appointed to named chairs, including Provost Vicki Colvin, who will assume the role of professor of chemistry and engineering July 1.
In committee meetings and as a whole, Corporation members discussed “emerging areas of academic interest and priority” including data sciences, master’s programs, and “online and engaged learning in both the School of Professional Studies and the College,” Paxson wrote.
The Corporation also reviewed p lans for the new building to house the School of Engineering , the progress of the Applied Math building  and “planning to address facility needs in the performing arts,” Paxson wrote. Construction for the new engineering building is “anticipated to begin at the end of this year,” while construction for the Applied Math building will finish in the fall, she wrote.
The Corporation accepted more than $25 million in gifts, including donations slated for creative writing, financial aid, professorships, BrownConnect awards, the President’s Flexible Fund, the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Brown Annual Fund, Paxson wrote.
In keeping with tradition for the annual May meeting, members of the Board of Fellows approved more than 2,400 degrees to be awarded at Sunday’s Commencement.”

Culinary capital
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015
James Mark is no stranger to the best kitchens in the world. He’s cooked in North Wales and Southeast Asia. He helped open _ Michelin-starred restaurant Momofuku Ko in New York City and its spinoff bakery, Momofuku Milk Bar. But since returning to Providence to open North in 2012, the Johnson and Wales University graduate said, “I would rather cook here than anywhere else in the world.”
Providence may be relatively small and less wealthy, but it is home to a thriving restaurant community unlike any other on the East Coast — and perhaps in the country. It’s all here: an influx of talented chefs from culinary hubs like Boston and New York looking to get closer to both their ingredients and their customers; a legacy of Italian cuisine entrenched in Federal Hill; the fresh faces coming out of JWU’s culinary institute. And residents and visitors alike have taken note, coming to count on the city’s restaurants for world-class quality with local flair.
Old school
Providence has established itself as a hotbed of Italian cooking. Classic trattorias populated Federal Hill for the better part of the past century, while nearby gourmet pizza-griller Al Forno has garnered national attention ever since its 1980 debut for its unique blend of old-world traditions and its own culinary twist.
“Importing parmesan into the state was hard. Importing real mozzarella into the state was hard,” said Al Forno’s chef and co-owner George Germon. He recalls having to drive to Boston with his wife and co-owner Johanne Killeen in the restaurant’s early days to buy imported pasta in their quest for high-caliber ingredients.
“It was nearby, it just wasn’t in the state,” he added.
Outside of the red-sauce sphere, Deborah Norman opened Rue de L’Espoir in 1976 as a quiche-and-crepe dinner restaurant. Since then, it has evolved into an American bistro with a focus on high-quality ingredients in standard preparations — think a peppercorn-encrusted steak accompanied by classic, thin frites or a duck confit risotto, the crispy skin standing in contrast against the creamy risotto and the edamame providing an innovative twist.
“I have customers who have been coming in for so long that I did their wedding and now I’m doing weddings for their kids or rehearsal dinners or baby showers,” Norman said. “This place really is a neighborhood restaurant.”
Rhode Island-raised
But Mark’s restaurant does not follow this traditional model. Instead, North is one of many that typify a new trend in the Providence food scene. These establishments are best described as serving New American cuisine, incorporating different influences and rotating ingredients to create a unique style.
Though dishes like its enticing chicken ramen could pigeonhole North as yet another Asian-fusion restaurant, chefs also whip up options like charred pork with cauliflower soaked in a tangy apple-butter sauce.
Restaurants of this style are alike in their use of locally sourced ingredients — instead of shipping vegetables in from California or meats in from the Midwest, many work with local farms to meet their needs. The result: a meal you couldn’t get anywhere else.
Founded in 1990, New Rivers was one of the first restaurants to fit this archetype. Owner and head chef Beau Vestal was hired in 2000 — on the day of Brown’s commencement ceremony — and was made executive chef in 2003. He ranks among the pioneers of the farm-to-table movement in Providence, though he initially followed that model not because it was trendy, but because it made the most sense.
“We didn’t really source stuff locally because it was a fad. It just worked out because our friends were all farmers and the food quality was way better,” Vestal said. “We just organically began sourcing locally out of ease and convenience and quality, not really knowing in those days that — fast forward to 2008 or so — this whole farm-fresh-restaurant thing turned into a trend.”
Now, New Rivers’ constantly rotating menu continues to embrace the farm-to-table ethic with a seasonal spin. A recent visit yielded a plate of seared sea scallops dusted with a salty sourdough crunch and sparsely garnished with asparagus and baby beets in yellow and deep plum red, while the sirloin burger arrived topped with additions such as lightly sauteed mushrooms and tart aioli.
“Farm-to-table was a trendy thing to say, but I think that in Rhode Island, we’re really able to achieve that because we’re such a small state that the farmers can actually get to us,” said Ellen Slattery, proprietor of Gracie’s. “We’re so fortunate here that if we need to actually go to the farm, we can do that.”
An important part of this style of cooking’s success is access to resources, and as the smallest state, Rhode Island fits the bill. “Rhode Island is one of the only states that has so much land that is still allocated to just farmland,” said Jake Rojas, owner of Tallulah’s on Thames in Newport and Tallulah’s Taqueria, a hole-in-the-wall Mexican eatery in Providence and Jamestown that dishes out decadent twists on classics like a quesadilla topped with cotija cheese, radishes and tangy guacamole and authentic carnitas tacos finished with salsa verde and still more radishes.
Salted Slate’s Head Chef Benjamin Lloyd charts the growth of the local food movement from California in the mid-nineties, sweeping eastward and evolving as it moved. By the 2000s, to make New American food came to mean that “you were drawing from what was around you, but you were also influenced by what was going on in the rest of the world,” Lloyd said.
Many of these new restaurants are “not really setting new trends but getting back to old ways of doing things, meaning whole animal butchery and sourcing local seafood, sourcing local agriculture,” Rojas added.
Even with a palate operating within mostly local parameters, the opportunities for creativity are endless. “Our restaurant uses the same vegetables as Chez Pascal or Gracie’s or Birch, but they’re all made in a different style,” Vestal said. “So our guests now have an opportunity to enjoy asparagus, but they can see, ‘What’s Beau doing with it? What’s Ben (Sukle, head chef) at Birch doing with it? What’s James at North doing with it?’ There’s an ingredient out there that you can see eight different ways at eight different restaurants. It’s fun.”
Providence and proud
Local ingredients aside, chefs attest that the culture and camaraderie of the city of Providence make it a great place to live and work.
“Rhode Islanders are very fiercely not Bostonians and not New Yorkers, and that appeals to me because this city was founded on shunning stuff from Boston, shunning New York and doing our own thing,” Vestal said.
Providence’s restaurant scene is different from that of even nearby Boston, which is much more competitive, said Matthew Gennuso, chef and co-owner of Chez Pascal. He added that Providence restaurants exist at the intersection of great food and great service.
A father of two, Lloyd believes that what makes Providence so attractive to chefs and their customers alike is its affordability and sense of community. In larger cities, he said, “to be able to raise kids and not be in an apartment, you’ve got to make a million bucks a year,” citing Chicago as an example. “People come here to be here.”
“People will go to those places first and then settle … where you can lay roots, be a part of a community, raise kids, have a meaningful interaction with everyone around you and have it not be the rat race of a large city,” he added.
From classroom to kitchen
Brown plays an essential role in the restaurant community — a core element of the clientele comprises students and faculty, and for many restaurants, Commencement Weekend is the busiest weekend of the year. Restaurants cater to the adventurous and enthusiastic captive audience that is Brown’s student body, according to many of the restaurateurs.
“The Brown community is probably the most viable resource that we have to continue keeping that fire lit, keeping young people excited about the cool things that are happening food-wise in the city,” Rojas said.
The city also benefits from the presence of JWU, one of the country’s foremost culinary schools — Mark, Vestal, Slattery and Birch’s Benjamin Sukle are all graduates. Students spend time as interns in local restaurants, and alums often stay in the city after graduation.
But as much as the school gives to the broader culinary scene, the restaurateurs give back. “I’ll go into the schools and we’ll give talks to people,” Sukle said. “We’re very much up to date on the trends happening in restaurants, what’s happening in new restaurants, what are big up-and-coming names.”
The close ties between the restaurants and JWU help keep graduates in Providence where “they can flourish” and ensure the city’s next stage of culinary development, he added.
“We have five colleges here … which generally keeps our clientele and guest count a little bit younger,” Sukle said. “Food has become cool. Eating out has become cool in the way that music has become cool. It’s another hobby of people — they want to try new things, they want to listen to new music, they want to see new art, they want to eat new foods.”
As for what’s next for the Providence culinary scene, “It’s constantly changing,” Mark said.
Restaurateurs today are “very into the options that we have out there of sourcing ingredients. … It doesn’t have to be a traditional sit-down, white-tablecloth restaurant anymore,” Rojas said.
“I think those days are kind of done,” he added. “Chefs are super excited about not only the product but about this new renaissance, the changing of the guard.””

In memoriam: Mark St. Louis
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 A s the class of 2015 looks ahead beyond graduation, we also look back and commemorate those who died before Commencement. Friends and peers of Mark St. Louis ’15, who died July 18, 2014, honor the lasting impact he had during his time at Brown.
You don’t have short conversations with Mark St. Louis.
I fondly remember one summer listening to Mark talk over and over again about a chicken dish he was planning to make using the sous-vide technique. Mark described it as typical southern style cooking in concept, but efficient, easy and effective in practice. “Everyone knows slow cooking is the best way to perfectly prepare a piece of meat,” he would say, “but it often lacks a certain style and finesse.”
“Inspired by French and American engineers and adapted in Virginia, sous-vide slow cooking ensures the juiciest possible chicken, every time,” he continued.
Mark explained the chicken, temperature gradients and ideal thermo-conductive mediums. While I appreciated his theoretical understanding of this niche area of cooking, I never thought that he would actually sous-vide anything, much less a chicken. But one day, Mark grabbed a giant Ziploc bag of chicken and sous-vide it in a red and white cooler for an entire day, a process that frankly grossed me out a little.
But when he decided it was ready around midnight that night, I had to try it. I was shocked to discover that it was perhaps the juiciest chicken I have ever eaten. After all the buildup, there really wasn’t another option but for that chicken to have come out perfectly. I came to realize that Mark’s sous-vide chicken was the result of a love and willpower that drove interest into passion. Mark dedicated himself completely to all pursuits, academic and athletic, and there was an intensity to his work ethic that both excited and intimidated. But good or bad, Mark was someone you wanted by your side. A savage competitor and fierce friend, Mark gave himself completely to what he believed, even a task as small and tedious as slow cooking a piece of chicken to perfection.
-Ryan Brown
For better or for worse, Mark always left an impression. Sometimes it was 9 a.m. in the Ratty, and I would be barely awake enough to comprehend the idea of cereal, while Mark would be talking to (or at) me about existentialism. Other times it would be in class, where he was either bored and researching science articles, or so heatedly involved in the discussion that you would wonder if he ever considered being a politician. He was like light reflected on moving water — brilliant, dynamic and so rapidly moving from one thought to the next that you could barely keep up.
As much as his intensity could be amusing, it was nevertheless admirable and astonishing to witness. He could talk about any topic with passion and zest, leaving you with the feeling that the gears of his mind were always in motion. Mark never settled, and he constantly aspired to something great. A man of extremes, he didn’t want to simply pursue neuroscience — he wanted to change the field forever, and he believed that he was capable of achieving such feats.
I think that quality is what I envied most about Mark, despite all of his other talents and accomplishments. He knew that he wasn’t perfect, yet he had a stubborn, undaunted confidence in his intelligence and tireless work ethic (he had been known to outcompete me in caffeine consumption, which is no minor achievement). More importantly, he was generous and humble enough to be able to place that confidence in those he knew. Mark’s conviction and support got me through low points during my time at Brown, and I have no doubt that his memory will continue to encourage and motivate me for the rest of my life. 
-Emily Toomey
Mark and I lived together two summers ago. I remember he would often take off when we were hanging out at 10 or 11 at night, departing for lab to check on his experiments. He was so excited about and driven by his research that he actually looked forward to midnight trips to the lab, something that was unimaginable to me.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, though; I had seen him bring the same boundless energy to the ultimate Frisbee team for three years. At tournaments, he cheered on his teammates with such volume and force that it was, honestly, a little scary, though always welcome and invigorating. (Mark’s fervor in cheering earned him the nickname “Cage” as a reference to the intensity that Nicolas Cage displays in all his films. Of course, Mark embraced the nickname wholeheartedly.)
Mark incredibly brought this same passion to his personal life as he did to his work and to his team. One evening during the summer we lived together, it suddenly started pouring while he was biking home from lab. He walked up to the kitchen where, warm and dry, I was preparing dinner. Standing in the doorway with a mischievous grin on his face, dripping a puddle on the floor, he said, “Do you want a hug?” After chasing me around the table for 10 full minutes, he eventually caught me, and I ended up drenched as well.
I saw that same fire in his eyes whenever I spoke with Mark. Whether it was a debate about which professional tennis players would excel at ultimate or just him vehemently expounding the virtues of prosecco and powdered MSG, he was fully committed to the conversation. This is the aspect of Mark’s life that will always stay with and inspire me: the true energy and investment he brought to anything and everything I ever saw him do.
-Ezra Lichtman
Mark St. Louis and I got to know each other at the United World College of the Adriatic, where we spent the last two years of high school together. Upon our first encounter at the beginning of our first year, I was not his biggest fan. He was a loud, cocky, intense know-it-all — not to mention the good-looking, “all-American” athlete who everyone swooned over. He always had a story to tell for any situation — even if it was the same story again, and again … and again. Yet he was always willing to share his knowledge with others, and to try to engage you with your own interests. I was loath to admit it at first, but we had quite a lot in common that way. I just needed to see through the performance he put on. Once I did, I found Mark to be one of the most sincere people I’ve ever known.
At UWC, co-years become like siblings, and in many ways, Mark was my brother. Because we were both from the South, Mark and I bonded over talking too fast and trying to explain typical Southern cuisine like grits and chicken biscuits to the other students. We teased each other, we laughed, we argued and we pushed each other’s buttons — something I’m sure he took great pleasure in. Mark reveled in the fact that I was always calling him out on his foolishness; I think our friendship grew because of it. 
That relationship continued here at Brown. Every once in a while, the UWC Adriatic folks would get together somewhere to eat, laugh and relive fond memories. Even when bogged down with work, Mark would always stop by to join in. Because he was always busy working hard in one science building or another, I rarely saw Mark unless we spontaneously bumped into one another in the dining halls. Sometimes I’d find him sitting with his Frisbee bros playing apple fork, a game where the goal is to literally catch an apple on a fork as it’s being tossed around a circle. But whenever I saw him studiously working alone at a table, I’d join him and we’d catch up or just sit in companionable silence. In the moments that I spent with Mark, we were always real with each other. UWC brought us together, but it wasn’t what kept us together — love (and a lot of teasing) did that. This all made it that much harder to speak at his memorial service in the fall and to think upon the fact that he will not graduating with us this year.
Today, I watched a YouTube video of the class of 2015 walking through the Van Wickle Gates. Today, I saw all of our young, hopeful faces beaming back at me from 2011 as we walked through those gates and into the next four years of our lives at this institution. Today, I heard the bell tolling over and over again, telling us to keep marching on. Today, exactly five minutes and 57 seconds into that video, I saw the face of my friend Mark St. Louis coming toward me on the computer screen.
Mark passed away on July 18, 2014, but today, for 10 whole seconds, I was able to see my friend again. This time, I wasn’t imagining him coming through the Sciences Library’s revolving doors. This time, he wasn’t some guy running down Brook Street. This time, he was actually there. I could pause the video and prove to myself that Mark was still here with me, just how I remembered him. Like the rest of us in the class of 2015, in this video Mark can be seen smiling, looking around and chatting away. He can be seen marching on to his future at this institution, a future that unfortunately was not able to reach its full potential. So, for a while, I stopped marching. But somehow, that bell keeps tolling. Somehow, I started marching again. And somehow, Mark won’t be marching with us when we go back through those gates.
-Maris Jones”

Editors’ note
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 Here we are: Commencement. The capitalization seems unnecessary. We are always ending and starting anew, every day of the week — we know this already.
But Commencements and commencements are not events we take for granted. For many of us, graduating from a school like Brown was at some point in our lives inconceivable. All of us have gotten here through some combination of good luck, hard work and a thicket of people standing beside us.
“Hasn’t the time just flown by?” everybody asks these days. Perhaps it has in some ways, but the past four years at Brown also feel heavy in our memory. We’ve had a myriad of controversies, tragedies and changes — more than our share, it seems, though who can really tell? Each of us has only four years here. (Or 4.5, or five. It’s Brown, after all.) In this magazine, our last product as Herald editors, we did not shy away from some of the debates still swirling around campus, like preventing sexual assault, creating safe spaces and blurring the boundaries of a traditional college education.
Yet amid all the collective rumbles and rancor, roughly 1,600 of us have also been molding and remolding individual lives in about as many different directions. That’s reflected in these pages, too: 13 seniors look back and tell stories in the Voices of 2015 section. And the Senior Survey offers some unscientific insight into what we’ve smoked, who we’ve slept with, where we come from and where we’re headed next.
Anyway, it’s night before it’s afternoon, and December is here before it’s June. But before we scatter to all corners of the globe (read: a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn), before we set out on paths away from Brown and each other, we have this weekend to celebrate. Congrats, 2015.”

In memoriam: Dana Dourdeville
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 As the class of 2015 looks ahead beyond graduation, we also look back and commemorate those who died before Commencement. Friends and peers of Dana Dourdeville ’15, who died Dec. 31, 2013, honor the lasting impact he had during his time at Brown.
Dana and I met on the first day of freshman year, and we started dating the following summer. We became friends by telling dirty jokes, cooking with our friends, and doing yoga — watching a cross-country runner try to touch his toes was hysterical. He asked me to be his fishing buddy that summer, though we never caught any fish. 
Our relationship turned out to be one adventure after another, with countless more planned for the future. He both challenged and supported me. Every day, with the exception of his summer in Peru, when Internet was scarce, he would tell me that I was beautiful and that he loved me. Even when we fought, he would take his time and explain his position clearly. 
Every gift he gave me was either homemade or straight from the woods. He was patient, hard-working and relentlessly loyal. Dana understood me better than anyone, and I feel lucky to have spent the few years that I could with him.
-Sarah Schade
My friend Dana liked David Hasselhoff music videos — the campier the better. He spent an inordinate amount of time successfully convincing me that chocolate mousse was made from actual moose meat. When we met at the beginning of freshman year, he was completely comfortable with himself and utterly un-self-conscious at a time when the rest of us were all trying to reinvent ourselves. He was always there for me, and countless others, when we needed a friend — he checked up on me and brought me a homemade card when a hand injury landed me in the hospital, and as busy as we got with our engineering classes, he always made it to my birthday parties. People who knew him would tell you that Dana was not just a good person, but an exceptionally good person, incredibly intelligent and humble at once. He was a silly, wonderful, giving friend, and he really made me laugh.
-Alexia Stylianou”

Senior Orators: Lucas Johnson
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 On a sunny afternoon this spring, Lucas Johnson ’15 recalled a similar day three years before, when he returned from tutoring three students at Fox Point Elementary School as part of a first-year seminar. His students were working on math problems when one of them, who had been struggling with some of the newer concepts, made a particularly astute observation.
“He essentially jumped three steps ahead of where I was going,” Johnson said. “Seeing that concept click for him” was unlike anything Johnson had experienced in any other professional setting, he said. “I just remember that being the best walk home ever … just basking in the rare Providence spring weather and feeling like I had helped someone learn something.”
Johnson, an education concentrator and aspiring high school teacher from Brooklyn, has been interested in the field since before coming to Brown. He will return in just over a month to pursue an MAT. He credits Brown’s Department of Education with broadening and challenging his perspectives on public education and better familiarizing him with the craft of teaching.
Johnson’s talk — entitled “School Spirit” — will focus on how his experiences at Brown have shaped his outlook on education’s value.
In addition to involving himself in extracurricular programs in teaching, including Breakthrough Providence, Johnson said he got hands-on teaching experience through his coursework. This semester, he and another student taught a poetry course at Hope High School through a class taught by Rhode Island Poet Laureate Rick Benjamin, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies and public humanities. Johnson noted that it was the second class he had taken under the instruction of a poet laureate as an education concentrator. “Where else could you do something like that?” he said with a laugh.
In preparation for the end of the course, “my partner and I were up until three in the morning the night before getting their poetry anthologies together … finding a poem for each of them that we thought they’d like,” he said. “It was almost hard to leave that day just because the energy was so warm and positive and collaborative.”
“I get very embarrassingly emotional about that stuff,” he said.
Johnson, who said he has never been a valedictorian or thought of himself as much of a public speaker, said he was honored by his selection as a Commencement orator, especially given his interest in a teaching career.
“It de-centers some traditional notions of what success means after college,” he said. “As a future … teacher in a public high school, I question whether my career aspirations would ever put me in the position to be invited to speak at a commencement at most schools,” he added, though he noted that at his sister’s graduation from Penn, the speaker was Geoffrey Canada, an internationally recognized figure in education.
“To show that the University endorses career choices beyond the highly profitable and the high-profile … means a lot to maintaining the narrative that Brown prides itself on,” he said.”

Breaking down classroom walls
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 The brick-and-mortar classroom has long been and remains the cornerstone of a Brown education, but future — and some current — undergraduates will experience the University in a broader context, venturing down College Hill and across the globe on the coattails of new pedagogical practices.
Over the past few years, student interest in engaged scholarship, faculty members’ drive to digitize courses and institutional directives aimed at sending Brunonians abroad have materialized into programs such as Engaged Scholars, the Teaching, Research and Innovation Lab, Global Experiential Learning and Teaching courses and flipped classrooms, all of which incorporate out-of-classroom experiences into undergraduate education.
President Christina Paxson’s P’19 administration has supported these programs, providing funding for faculty members to adapt courses to digital formats and take students on class trips to foreign countries as well as hiring additional personnel to assist students in finding internships and community engagement opportunities.
It is incumbent upon the administration to ensure “the University is on top of the freshest and most interesting pedagogical and curricular innovations that are available to us,” said Dean of the College Maud Mandel.
Administrators said these initiatives both keep Brown’s education current with widespread trends in higher education and, in certain instances, embody what has always been distinctive about the University, allowing an innovative spirit to shape the institution in new ways.
Partnering with Providence
Beginning this semester, students in certain undergraduate programs have been able to declare concentrations as Engaged Scholars, a track that requires 250 hours of real-world experience related to a concentration.
Several administrators underscored the program’s distinctiveness. While many universities encourage students to explore opportunities beyond institutional walls, very few have incorporated those experiences into major or concentration requirements, said Provost Vicki Colvin.
“There’s a very powerful back-and-forth that goes on between the academic learning in the classroom and the work in the field or in the nonprofit or the government or for-profit entity out in the world,” said Allen Hance, director of Engaged Scholarship. “It’s a reciprocal process of learning, and one of the major goals of the Engaged Scholars program is to bring that process more into focus for each student.”
Ximena Carranza Risco ’17, a 2015 Tri-Lab participant and Engaged Scholar, said her experiences have embodied that “reciprocal process.”
“One of the main things that I’ve learned has been contextualizing the work that I do and understanding how the mostly theoretical knowledge that is created can be connected to the practical sphere — connecting the dots between those two,” she said.
Working on the Tri-Lab project — the two-semester class, ENVS 1500: “Environmental Justice and Climate Change in Rhode Island” — Carranza Risco, an environmental science concentrator, has become more familiar with Providence and the dynamics involved in explaining climate change to various constituencies, including local residents, business people and government employees, she said.
Building on Brown’s relationship with Providence is a major benefit of ramping up engaged scholarship, several administrators said.
“Engagement with our local community … is driven by student and faculty interest in social change,” Colvin said.
Many students endeavor to better the world, she added. “Your backyard is a great place to start.”
The origins of the Engaged Scholars program lay in student engagement with the city, said Kate Trimble, interim director of the Swearer Center for Public Service.
Trimble traced the idea for the program back to a focus group three years ago in which students active in the Swearer Center requested “institutional support” for tying local service to their studies.
In addition to illuminating the way classroom concepts can be applied to real-world work, engaged scholarship supplies students with connections that can help them pursue that work after college.
Kai Salem ’18, another Tri-Lab participant and Engaged Scholar, said her work on growing green infrastructure in Providence’s West End has provided her significant connections with climate organizations in Rhode Island. Recently, she witnessed several speakers she knows personally discuss climate change at the Statehouse, she said.
Outside the States
These opportunities for engagement are not limited to Providence. Recently, students have, with passports in hand, taken their education abroad in new ways.
The GELT program marks one way students have integrated international experience into coursework. GELT grants allocate advanced undergraduate or graduate courses $35,000 each for international travel, according to the program’s webpage.
This spring, Stephen Kinzer, visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies, taught INTL 1802: “International Journalism: Foreign Reporting in Practice,” which centered on a foreign reporting experience in Leon, Nicaragua.
Before embarking on the spring-break trip to Leon, students amassed knowledge about Nicaragua and tried their hand at reporting in Providence. Kinzer said students tackled two stories prior to the trip, both of which incorporated their Spanish-language skills.
For the first assignment, which tasked students with reporting on a specific place in Rhode Island, Mariela Mannion ’16 focused on a Colombian bakery in Central Falls.
“The story turned into me not only describing the bakery but also learning about the community,” she said, calling increased engagement with the Providence area one salient takeaway from the course.
In Nicaragua, students explored topics they had chosen and researched beforehand, Kinzer said. They spent days traveling “to hospitals and visiting remote towns and interviewing people,” he said, adding that nights were consumed by writing and editing.
The friendliness of the Nicaraguans Mannion interviewed facilitated revealing conversations, she said. “I went into the market the first day to get myself acclimated, and I just sat with this woman and talked to her for two hours about her traditions.”
Another foray into the field landed her in a source’s home, where she cooked and ate iguana soup.
HIAA 1850H: “Berlin: Architecture, Politics and Memory” also required a plane ticket — in this case to Berlin, where the group explored the capital’s many memorials.
Before arriving in Berlin, each student thoroughly researched a specific memorial and learned about the city’s history and culture, said Professor of Urban Studies and History of Art and Architecture Dietrich Neumann. This coursework was reinforced by guest lecture throughout the semester from architects who have designed memorials in the city, Neumann added.
For Renata Robles ’15, the trip took her understanding of the memorials discussed in class to another level.
Photos don’t do justice to every building, she said, recalling a visit to the Neues Museum, which was destroyed during World War II. Germany “redid it in such a way that it was preserved as a ruin but is still a building,” Robles said. “They left all the bullet holes in the exterior facade.”
Neumann’s class may not mark the last time a cohort of students explores Berlin. Vice Provost for the Arts Michael Steinberg is spearheading efforts to establish a global observatory in the city.
“Berlin has become a real hub for the arts,” Steinberg said. “We’re making good headway on institutional partnerships that would allow students to do a semester or year there.”
Steinberg would like to see humanities and arts opportunities outside Brown proliferate for students in other ways, too. This could include more partnerships with artists, who could both teach at Brown and take students under their wing off campus.
Such relationships have already started to emerge, Steinberg said.
Olafur Eliasson, a prominent Scandinavian sculptor who owns a studio in Berlin, emailed Steinberg several months ago to ask if a Brown student would be interested in spending time there with him, Steinberg said. That same day, a student interested in sculpture who had heard of plans in the works for a Berlin program coincidentally asked Steinberg if he could set something up with Eliasson.
She’ll now intern at his studio this summer.
A digital direction
As the boundaries of the traditional classroom begin to blur, the University is also taking education into a less physical realm: online.
Cultural interactions can be one of the many benefits of digital education, said Professor of Comparative Literature Arnold Weinstein, who taught a blended version of his famous course COLT 1420: “The Fiction of Relationship” last fall.
Weinstein offered the course on Coursera while simultaneously teaching it at Brown, asking his students to participate in the Coursera version’s discussion forums.
Weinstein praised the variety of points of view the online discussions offer, noting that commenters came from all over the world and varied widely in age. “If I’m teaching literature where we’re talking about value or social issues,” he said, “then it’s absolutely crucial that you get as many perspectives as possible.”
Bruna Lee ’17, who took the course this fall, said she visited Coursera forums weekly but only commented once or twice. While the comments were not as deep as those in a typical Brown discussion section, they did represent a greater range of perspectives, she said.
J.M. Coetzee’s “Disgrace” — a novel involving non-consensual sex between a professor and student — proved particularly interesting in this regard, Lee said, as people from all over the world explained how their cultures grapple with that issue.
Weinstein said the massive open online course format has its limits, as it is currently impossible to offer all students a grade in humanities courses, which generally require papers.
Still, MOOCs are not the administration’s focus as it moves in a digital direction, Colvin said.
Instead, the University would like 20 percent of faculty members to incorporate digital technology into their courses within three years, she said.
Colvin said technological advancements provide an opportunity to maximize faculty-student interactions, particularly in large lecture courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In flipped classrooms, for example, students can watch online lectures at home and spend class time on hands-on, collaborative work with peers and professors.
To reach its goal, the University offers summer stipends and single semesters of leave to faculty members aiming to redesign their courses in digital formats, Colvin said. The University also provides seminars, workshops and classes that educate faculty members about “the kind of options that are out there.”
A financial analysis conducted last fall indicated the University needs to increase the Office of the Dean of the College’s budget by about 7 percent for undergraduate digital purposes, Colvin said. “To be leading the curve, we have to invest and help our faculty master” digital tools, she added.
Professor of Public Policy and Education John Tyler has taken advantage of technology to widen the appeal of his economics of education courses, conveying basic information through video lectures and teaching more complicated concepts in class. Because the change allowed him to focus on more advanced material, one of his courses attracted many more economics concentrators, doubling its enrollment from about 35 to 70.
At the same time, “students who have not (studied) economics like learning material this way because they can do it at their own speed,” Tyler said.
But whether future students learn in flipped classrooms, entirely online or in some setting in between, it is clear they will encounter a number of innovative learning environments that Brown did not offer when the class of 2015 arrived on College Hill.
For new students, the Brown experience may mean something very different than it did for those graduating this year. Long an ivory tower, Brown is becoming more integrated with the globe.”

Fighting for safe spaces
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 Within the next few years, most of the students who protested former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly’s scheduled lecture will graduate. The students who fought for the creation of a “safe space” in response to blogger Wendy McElroy’s participation in a debate over rape culture will also walk out the Van Wickle Gates. And many of their peers who pushed back against these demonstrations will process through those gates alongside them.
If Brown has succeeded in carrying out its mission statement, all of them will “discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation” ready to serve “the community, the nation and the world.”
But many students believe the University is falling short of this mission. Some criticized administrators for creating a hostile environment that allows for the marginalization of certain identities, while others expressed disappointment in the University’s failure to reaffirm its commitment to free inquiry.
People outside the University, like New York Times columnist Judith Shulevitz, have faulted Brown students for “hiding from scary ideas.”
Still, many students and faculty members agreed that Shulevitz’s assertion — that undergraduates who have fought for the creation of “safe spaces” will be unprepared “for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled” — is unfounded.
“In becoming politically active, students find themselves not in an isolated, specialized environment but taking on questions in the academic community that are very much part of what everyone else is confronted with,” said Professor of English William Keach.
But it’s not entirely clear how Brown — as a particular academic community but also as an integrated part of the “real world” with power dynamics that reflect those of the rest of the country and, perhaps, the world — should best prepare all students to “discharge the offices of life.”
Thrust into the middle of this debate are the students who have organized the protests and “safe spaces” on campus over the past few years — students who are now preparing for life after Brown and alums who are already living it. Students and alums who have thought about not only how Brown can best prepare them and their classmates to serve the world but also what the world they are serving should look like and how to strive toward that vision.
Learning at a cost
Recent alums and graduating seniors said their involvement in campus activism, including the Kelly protest, has informed their perspectives, but often at a high emotional and physical cost.
Katie Byron ’15 helped organize a “safe space” in response to a debate the Janus Forum hosted this fall, in which McElroy was invited to debate blogger Jessica Valenti at an event entitled, “How Should Colleges Handle Sexual Assault?” The inclusion of McElroy, who has said that sexual assault does not arise due to cultural influences but rather is the result of a few individuals, prompted campus debate. Some students, including Byron, mobilized to both protest the event and create a “safe space” in a classroom outside the lecture hall where students could go to talk to sexual assault peer educators, women’s peer counselors and BWell staff if they heard something triggering.
“Experiencing this controversy allows us to become better at articulating our own ideas and our own values and what we think our community values can be,” Byron said.
Cynthia Fong ’14 helped to organize the protest against the lecture by Kelly, who implemented controversial stop-and-frisk policing, hosted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions in fall 2013. She said that she learned from the Providence community members with whom she worked to plan the demonstration. “They have been organizing their entire lives,” she said. “I learned a lot about what it means to care for other people, be angry with other folks and really be in a community that cares about a lot of things.”
Still, she added, “I remember when I was organizing for Ray Kelly, I couldn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t walk to class without fearing that people would throw things at me.”
JuHee Kwon ’14, who also helped to organize the Kelly protest, echoed many of Fong’s sentiments. “I connected with people in a way that I didn’t think was possible. I saw a glimpse of what the world could be and should be,” Kwon said.
Both Kwon and Fong currently live in the San Francisco Bay area and are involved with the organization “#Asians4BlackLives.”
The Kelly protest was “a really important moment for me to think about what Asian people should do in support of black lives,” Kwon said.
Still, “I think people underestimate how taxing student organizing is because they come into it with specific experiences, specific reasons for doing it. A lot of their passions come from family and personal experiences,” Kwon added. “To ask them to constantly pour themselves out like that is fulfilling but also really, really hard and traumatic.”
Daniel Echevarria ’16, one of the organizers of the Kelly protest, said that his experience organizing will inform his later work. “But at the same time, I still have to live here. … This is my home.”
A ‘dual burden’
Several students interviewed also articulated what Fong called a “dual burden” — many who already feel marginalized on campus also feel disproportionately tasked with vocalizing silenced perspectives. Students who have personal experience with police brutality or sexual assault and might already struggle to feel comfortable on campus may also feel the most burdened to protest University policy or speak out against certain invited speakers. Those who enter Brown with the fewest resources at their disposal feel the strongest need to fight for more resources.
Echevarria noted that, as a person of color, he originally did not want to be involved in the Kelly protest. “You’re lucky to be here. You don’t start stuff,” he said. “The actual courage it takes to have your voice heard is obviously going to be easier for someone who is privileged.”
But some indicated that this unequal burden, while a challenge, is also inevitable.
Walker Mills ’15, a former Herald opinions columnist, said though he believes the University should do all it can to ensure that students have an “equal playing field, … some students are going to have a tougher time because of the nature of the experience here.” He added, “If you face challenges and struggle deeply, I think that’s a really valuable thing. I think that if you insulate people, you’re not preparing them to do that.”
“I’m sympathetic to peoples’ feeling of exhaustion and of stress at having to debate these things out,” Keach said. “I just don’t think ultimately there’s a way around this.” He added that though the power structures of Brown are not identical to those that operate around the United States, “they are different versions of the same underlying fabric of socioeconomic forces that define and determine all our lives.”
But the fact that Brown may provide student activists with a forum with which to stand up to power structures similar to those that exist in other communities — whether different cities or even the United States as a whole — is not a good reason for the University to not actively become more responsive to the needs and voices of students from different backgrounds, multiple students said.
“That’s like saying, ‘I will chase you just so you learn how to run,’” Fong said. “Why don’t you just not chase me in the first place?”
“We are not grateful that structures of oppression exist just so we can learn how to do this,” she added.
Debating debate
The University needs to “create a playing field and an environment where folks are able to come to the table equally,” said Will Furuyama ’15, who participated in the Kelly protest outside List Art Center. It needs to “recognize the power imbalances and actively work to correct them,” he added.
“We need to be able to have conversations in ways that aren’t putting the humanity of people up for debate,” Byron said. “College is a liminal space that is separate from the real world. … Our norms can differ because we can say, ‘we don’t appreciate all the norms of the real world.”
“We’re holding each other to a higher standard,’” she said.
But part of the way that the University can move closer to this ideal is by ensuring that people have the opportunity to hear “competing narratives,” Echevarria said, noting that he found the Kelly event problematic because it failed to present any sort of counternarrative to Kelly’s views.
It was hypocritical that administrators punished the Kelly protesters for preventing the occurrence of a lecture presenting a singular perspective, but then organized a competing lecture during the Janus Forum’s scheduled debate on sexual assault policy, Echevarria added.
Dana Schwartz ’15, who was the Janus Forum’s fellows director last semester, also noted her disappointment with the University for scheduling a concurrent event at the time of their debate. “The best way to demolish bad beliefs is to address them face on,” Schwartz said. “The privilege of Brown students and our education is that we are intelligent, rational, well-educated human beings. When faced with a wrong or misinterpreted analysis of information, we can ask intelligent questions.”
She called student protest a “valuable tool.” 
“Challenge is what grows students, citizens who can be engaged critically and in an intellectually rigorous way,” she said, but added that it might be easier for her to hold this perspective given her inherent privilege as a white, cisgender, straight person.
The debate over how the University should respond to these events and accusations has divided the faculty as well.
In February, faculty members voted to indefinitely table a resolution to reaffirm “Brown’s commitment to the principles of academic freedom.”
After a heated back-and-forth discussion detailed in the faculty meeting minutes, President Christina Paxson P’19 suggested postponing the motion indefinitely, rather than bringing it back up at the April meeting. Raising the issue again in April would only “extend the pain,” said Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, at the February meeting, noting that another conversation would likely not yield a productive solution to the divide between the polarized opinions of faculty members.
Moving forward
The conversations that played out at that faculty meeting echo the types of conversations that have occurred across campus forms over the past few years — debates that students and faculty members interviewed said are too complex to be boiled down to “safety” versus “free speech.”
Many of the students interviewed said that moving forward, the University should not narrowly focus on procedures for vetting potential invited speakers or debating the finer points of what terms like “academic freedom” really mean. Instead, Brown administrators, faculty members and students should work together to alleviate the discrepancy in the experiences between students who have the type of privileges Schwartz described — as well as greater financial resources — and those who do not.
Part of those efforts may involve pushing students to be more critical, Echevarria said. “I don’t know if that’s an administrative objective. Is Ethnic Studies its own department yet? How many Africana classes are there?”
Brown should also ramp up the support it offers to first-generation students, shift its policies and expand the resources it devotes to making survivors of sexual assault feel safe and ensure that “low-income students have enough money to get by and not feel ostracized by their peers,” Fong said.
“If I learned what it meant to feel supported at Brown, I would have more to tackle the world with,” she said. “I should learn what it means to have safe spaces and then I should translate  that.””

How to change a culture
by Brown Daily Herald

May 22, 2015
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015 It’s Amanda Walsh’s fourth day on the job, and her schedule is already filled to the brim: meetings, plans, deadlines for new policies looming just a couple months away. From her temporary office in University Hall, she has a view of the Quiet Green, blanketed in early May sunshine.
On that same green, two months earlier, hundreds of students stood around mounds of snow in silent protest of the University’s handling of sexual assault. Most had dollar bills over their mouths, marked with “IX” in bright red tape.
Sexual assault, and the question of what Brown should do about it, has roiled campus recently. The administration penalized two fraternities for alleged incidents tied to sexual assault or harassment. Activists protested the University’s actions in a case involving alleged drugging and assault. The hashtag #moneytalksatBrown became a rallying cry in person and online, garnering national media attention. And that was all just this semester.
Walsh is, in a sense, the embodiment of Brown’s drive for reform. Hired as the first full-time Title IX program officer, she is charged with steering the school’s efforts to handle and combat sexual violence, and she’s excited about the opportunities for change.
“Absolutely Brown is positioning itself to be a leader and, I think, has the resources and the support to do that,” she says. “I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think that was the case.”
Those resources and support are linked to the work of the Sexual Assault Task Force, which President Christina Paxson P’19 convened this year to create a master plan for Brown. In a 63-page report of its final recommendations released last month, the group called for many concrete changes, including the centralization and expansion of resources, a unified policy and a better adjudication process.
The task force also issued a call to arms on something less tangible. In its December interim report, the words are underlined: “The current norms and culture of the Brown University campus are not acceptable, and as a community we must seek in word and deed to fundamentally change that culture.”
How does a university change campus culture? This question is being asked at colleges — and beyond them — across the country. Brown now finds itself as one of the schools trying to come up with answers.
Campus culture
Justice Gaines ’16, a task force member, has seen several manifestations of a campus culture that needs changing — comments, for instance, like “PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is for soldiers, not for survivors of sexual assault” or a focus on questioning proven rates of sexual assault instead of working to reduce them.
“We’re still challenging things that aren’t really at this point challengeable,” Gaines says.
Still, Gaines and other students say they have already seen changes at Brown in the past few years, largely motivated by the heightened visibility of conversation around sexual assault.
Lauren Stewart ’15, another task force member, says she has experienced firsthand a desire for change — since being on the task force, she has sometimes been approached by people she doesn’t know at parties or in eateries to talk about her work. “People really want to make this place better and want to engage,” she says.
Kevin Carty ’15, a sexual assault peer educator, says he noticed a shift among the first-years in the Alpha Epsilon Pi pledge class he led this spring: When the group discussed consent, each pledge made comments showing that he had already thought about the topic on his own. Carty says this is notable because education about consent is so lacking in high schools. “That is all Brown culture right there.”
But heightened awareness has come at some personal cost to sexual assault survivors, like Lena Sclove, who sparked campus dialogue by sharing their stories, says Will Furuyama ’15, a sexual assault peer educator and a coordinator of the Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse. “While it’d be nice if all these conversations were just sort of happening spontaneously, I don’t think that they’d happen outside of that context,” he says.
The task force report noted that groups proven to be high-risk for sexual misconduct, like fraternities and sports teams, should have specific training strengthened and tailored to them. Carty says he thinks many of those groups will be responsive — and some have already started taking on the work of discussing and raising awareness among themselves.
But it has been a bumpy road at times. When the University announced stiff sanctions against Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi in January, as well as tougher enforcement of rules against on-campus drinking, some worried that the move could have negative repercussions by pushing risky behavior off campus, where it’s harder to monitor.
Improving education
As the University considers how to foster the campus climate it desires, one of its main tools for changing culture is education. Training can help ensure that students from a wide variety of backgrounds gain awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault and an understanding of appropriate behavior. It can also ensure that faculty and staff members are cognizant of the particular challenges of sexual assault in the university context.
But this is an area in which many say Brown has been severely lacking.
A traditional model at many colleges is to have one event focused on sexual violence at the start of students’ first year — often a survivor telling a story of assault to a large group in a gym or auditorium, as Brown has done in years past.
“We don’t really have education right now,” Stewart says. “We have the one event during orientation (and) by that point, you realize nothing is mandatory at Brown.”
Research into effective practices has pointed to better ways to educate and train students. Inspired by a model at Colby College, the administration is working on developing a program combining online modules with in-person, small-group sessions.
These trainings would cover a variety of topics and take place throughout the year, aiming to stimulate consistent thought and discussion about issues like consent, bystander intervention, gender roles and sexual power dynamics.
There’s another component, too: making it required. The task force recommended that the University find ways to ensure participation, like making training a prerequisite for students registering for classes or faculty members receiving salary increases.
Liza Cariaga-Lo, vice president for academic development, diversity and inclusion, is leading many of the immediate efforts to improve education, including plans for next semester. The report set a July 1 deadline for creating these, and she says they are already underway.
Effective this fall, orientation for new graduate students will include an hour-long panel focused on sexual assault resources and policies. A similar program for new medical students will also be implemented, Cariaga-Lo says. And the University is working with an outside company to adapt an online training module for faculty and staff that will roll out this fall.
The task force report emphasized that education for everybody needs to include considerations of how sexual violence intersects with different identities and communities. Gaines says that means not glossing over the fact that sexual assault disproportionately affects queer people and people of color, for example.
In 2011, the orientation event Stewart attended featured a white woman talking about her experience of being assaulted by a man, which she says confined sexual assault to a very specific narrative.
“How can we build compassion to be more a part of our culture? How can we build understanding and knowledge and empathy into what we are expecting from people on campus and how we are expecting people to treat each other?” Gaines says. “Part of that is education.”
Taking the lead?
Though research at Brown and elsewhere has offered some insights into the best ways to educate and train people about sexual assault, colleges everywhere are grappling with the same overarching concern: Nobody has fully figured it out yet.
And perhaps nobody will. Each university exists within society at large, so there are limits to how much it can shape its own community. The task force report made clear that it does not expect Brown to be able to drive rates of violence to zero. But, members say, the school and the community have every obligation to try nonetheless.
As campus sexual assault has been elevated in the national consciousness over the past couple of years, many schools have started devoting more institutional resources to figuring out a better path forward. But the body of research remains relatively small in some areas — in the context of graduate education, for instance. 
“If anybody had really figured it out, we’d all be doing that,” says Gail Cohee, director of the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and assistant dean of the College. “What everybody’s doing at this point is borrowing from what’s working at other institutions. The nice thing about this getting such national attention is that universities are sharing information in ways I think they hadn’t necessarily done before.”
Hence the references in the task force’s report to efforts at places like Colby and Wheaton College. Cohee says a few schools, like Yale and Tufts University, were legally forced to devote more attention to sexual assault a few years before the national momentum kicked in with a renewed push from the Obama administration in 2011.
But Brown’s administration has focused on sexual assault for at least a couple decades, says Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, the task force’s co-chair. Brown was one of the first colleges to designate sexual misconduct as an official offense when it did so in the early ’90s, he says.
Some experts say a greater institutional commitment to change across the country is the most salient transformation in recent years. “We already know a huge amount, as far as I’m concerned. What’s been missing is the political will on the part of college administrations,” says Jackson Katz, creator of the national Mentors in Violence Prevention education program. “People are listening more because now there’s political leverage. There’s momentum.”
Still, no school has really emerged as a national leader on comprehensively creating better policies. “I don’t know if there’s really an ‘ahead of the pack’ in terms of sexual violence policy,” Furuyama says.
A range of efforts
Beyond implementing educational and training programs, Brown’s administration is looking to use a variety of tools to achieve the cultural shifts it wants to see.
Part of this attempted culture shift involves the reforms to the reporting and adjudication processes themselves. The task force wrote in its report that centralizing a system and processes that are clear, fair and supportive to survivors would change the nature of students’ experiences on campus.
Many at Brown actually hope and expect to see a rise, temporarily, in reported incidents of sexual assault: Since current reporting data is significantly lower than what studies indicate is the rate of actual violence, a rise in reports would indicate that survivors feel more comfortable coming forward.
“It reflects a sense that the culture is one that will support a reporter,” Walsh says. “We can’t possibly address the sexual assault, dating violence, stalking that is occurring on the campus unless we know about it.”
A campus climate survey conducted this spring by the Association of American Universities will also shed light on the nature of sexual violence at Brown. The survey’s results are expected in the fall.
Brown additionally intends to leverage its capabilities in another way: promoting and stimulating more scholarly research on sexual violence.
Across all the initiatives the University is undertaking, sources say, a continual process of evaluating and assessing what works and what doesn’t work is crucial.
That includes comprehensive data collection and reporting, Carey says, as well as seeking a shift to an environment where sexual violence is unacceptable. “That’s much harder to put a number to,” he says. “It’s more of a feel than a data point. But for me that would be a sign of great success.”
For Stewart, work to prevent sexual assault must be paired with a more supportive climate for survivors, from both the administration and students.
“My dream is: If you’re sexually assaulted, then you have a good support system because we have educated people to know how to respond,” she says.
“I hope that our environment becomes more survivor-friendly and sexual assault isn’t like this dirty secret — that we admit that we have this problem and we’re trying to work towards fixing it.””

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