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Brown Campus News

Noah Arnold ’20 dies
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 11, 2017
“Updated Jan. 10, 2016 at 3:41 p.m. 
This story is breaking and will be updated with further details as we receive them.
Noah Arnold ’20 has died unexpectedly, wrote Dean of the College Maud Mandel and Vice President of Campus Life and Student Services Eric Estes in a community-wide email Tuesday.
As the University reopened last week, it received notification from Arnold’s parents that Arnold passed away while at home for break in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. There was no indication of foul play.
Arnold relayed his love of Brown to his family as he began his studies in philosophy. On campus, he also discovered an interest in fine arts, Mandel and Estes wrote.
Arnold was “a beloved son, brother and friend,” Mandel and Estes wrote. “Noah will be missed by both his family and the Brown community,” they added.
Details about a campus gathering in Arnold’s memory will be shared with the community once the semester begins, but plans have not yet been finalized.
Staff at Counseling and Psychological Services as well as deans from Student Support Services are available on campus or by phone to support students in the wake of Arnold’s passing. University Chaplains are similarly accessible to the community.”

Philanthropist, business leader Herb Kaplan dies at 81
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 08, 2017
“Herbert Kaplan, president of The Warren Alpert Foundation and former CEO of Warren Equities, died in his sleep Jan. 2, wrote Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Jack Elias in a community-wide email.
Kaplan, a philanthropist and business leader, is remembered by the University community for his contributions to the Alpert Medical School and his commitment to healthcare, Elias wrote.
In 2007, Kaplan helped direct $100 million from The Warren Alpert Foundation to support the medical school. The donation, a gift from his uncle, Warren Alpert, is tied for the largest in the school’s history and was used to fund the construction of a new building, research, financial aid and curriculum development within the medical school. The school was renamed The Warren Alpert Medical School to honor the foundation.
In November, the foundation gifted the medical school another $27 million to support the Brown Institute for Translational Science and establish the Warren Alpert Physician-Scientist MD/PhD Advanced Training Program.
For his service to healthcare and research, Kaplan received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2011 during a ceremony that formally opened the medical school’s new building. At the ceremony, Kaplan was also awarded a key to the city by former Mayor Angel Taveras, who declared Oct. 21 “Herbert Kaplan Day,” according to Kaplan’s obituary in The Boston Globe .
Kaplan was also a member of the Brown Medical School Corporation Committee from 2007 until his passing.
In his email, Elias described Kaplan as “brilliant, loyal and compassionate while being incredibly humble” and noted his “tireless dedication to leaving the world in a better state.”
With Alpert’s assistance, Kaplan also worked to grow Warren Equities, a petroleum retailer and operator of the Xtra Mart convenience store chain, according to the obituary. The business reached over $1 billion in annual sales by 2007.
Outside of Brown, Kaplan’s philanthropic ventures included serving as a founding member of the Noble Deeds Society of the Mount Sinai Hospital and a member of the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School.
“Generations of students, clinicians and patients will benefit from the vision and generosity with which Herb Kaplan led The Warren Alpert Foundation,” President Christina Paxson P’19 said in a statement. “Without question, Herb’s passion for improving the quality of health care was boundless, and his loss is deeply felt at Brown.”
Members of the community are invited to attend Kaplan’s funeral services, which will be held Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Chapel Sharon Memorial Park.”

Papendorp ’17: TAs are underpaid
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“When I accepted a position as an undergraduate teaching assistant this fall, I assumed that I would be paid in accordance with the hours I worked, like any other job. So imagine my surprise when I received an email from an administrator in the department of neuroscience, informing me that I would be paid for a maximum of 84 hours over the semester, or six hours a week.   Between attending class, meeting with other TAs, preparing for section, leading section, holding office hours, answering questions on Piazza and grading exams, I can easily spend 12 or more hours a week — double what I’m paid for — on TA duties. I am sure that in some other classes the gap between the hours for which TAs are paid and the hours that TAs are expected to work is even greater.
In 2010, The Herald reported that the department of computer science had moved from a stipend system to hourly pay for TAs. At the time, there was an uproar: A group of head TAs objected that “TAs have historically willingly accepted a flat stipend throughout the semester for their work, viewing the rewards of shaping course development and impacting students’ learning processes as more important than monetary compensation.” Similarly, faculty members in the department worried that the move toward hourly pay constituted “social engineering” that would destroy the special role of TAs in computer science classes. But paying undergraduate TAs fairly for the work they do isn’t “social engineering” — it’s just the way wages are supposed to work. TAs are certainly privileged to work closely with students and professors. But at the end of the day, being a TA is a job, not some sort of magical experience that transcends monetary compensation.
The unrealistic cap on hours was particularly surprising to me because I had worked as a TA at Brown over the summer, and I was encouraged to log and be paid for 15 to 25 hours a week. Of course, summer courses are more condensed than typical fall and spring classes. But because summer TAs are funded by the School of Professional Studies rather than the departments themselves, the policies about wages are completely different. Over the summer, having the freedom to spend up to 25 hours a week motivated me to be a better TA. Knowing that I would be compensated for my time, I held more office hours, created original practice exams and study guides and spent extra time reviewing the material with struggling students. In contrast, with the six-hour cap, I’m forced to make tough decisions about balancing my TA responsibilities with classes and my other jobs.
The 2010 statement from CS TAs claimed that “a policy that requires TAs to be paid hourly directly impacts the amount, and quality, of work that TAs can do and will have an adverse effect on the way students learn in computer science classes at Brown.” Actually, I would argue that the opposite is true, both from my personal experience and drawing on basic economics. With a flat (and inadequate) stipend, undergraduate TAs have no financial incentive to do a good job. If you’ve ever felt like your TA was doing the bare minimum, maybe it was because he was being paid the bare minimum.
Ironically, despite all the uproar in 2010, effectively nothing has changed. After all, hourly pay with a cap on hours is mathematically no different from a flat stipend. This problem with wages also stems from a larger lack of organization and accountability surrounding undergraduate TAs. For example, though undergraduate TAs are sometimes included on course evaluations, this feedback is too little, too late. Without regular evaluations, undergraduate TAs operate with very little oversight, and the value that they add to the course can vary drastically. Furthermore, Brown should evaluate not only individual TAs themselves but also the effectiveness of an undergraduate TA program. Maybe if the system were under central administration (like it is during the summer), rather than left to individual departments, there would be more consistency and accountability. At the very least, there should be common guidelines, pay structures and evaluation systems across all departments.
Until the undergraduate TA program is more organized, other departments could take a cue from the department of computer science. For example, the department has established an endowment to fund undergraduate TA positions and gives undergraduate TAs the option of taking a half-credit course to offset the time commitment of serving as a TA. CS TAs are also trained extensively before the semester, unlike TAs in many other departments. These exact policies may not make sense or be financially feasible for every department, but it is crucial that each department take a realistic look at the role of TAs in its courses and pay them accordingly.
I urge Brown to review its policies on paying undergraduate TAs and make sure they are consistent and fair. At the very least, Brown should be more transparent about the fact that TAs in many departments are still effectively receiving a flat stipend rather than pay that accurately reflects the time they spend supporting professors and students. The University must decide whether undergraduate TAs are a vital part of the “University-College” learning experience; if so, we need to pay them fairly.
Carin Papendorp ’17 can be reached at .
Please send responses to this opinion to and other op-eds to .”

Crosstown rival Friars blow out men’s basketball in annual matchup
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“Looking overmatched and undersized, the men’s basketball team was run out of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday, falling to Providence College 95-57.
Brown (5-5) came into the contest as the winner of four straight games but fell victim to a hot Friars (7-2) team coming off a win over No. 21 University of Rhode Island Saturday. Providence handled Bruno on both ends of the court, shooting 61 percent from the field while keeping Brown’s top scorers in check on defense.
“A lot of credit to them, but I don’t think they saw our best effort or our best performance,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “We’ve seen some progress defensively, but obviously tonight we didn’t show the progress that I’ve felt like we’ve been making.”
Brown led in the contest just once, grabbing a 3-0 lead on a trey from Brandon Anderson ’20 on the Bears’ first possession. Providence subsequently rattled off a 20-0 run over the next seven minutes.
“We’ve been susceptible to runs, and it’s because we’re not where we need to be defensively right now,” Martin said. “So when our offense doesn’t produce or turns it over, it leads to transition. Even in the half court, we’re not where we need to be.”
Providence scored from all over the court, shooting 52 percent from three and outscoring Brown 42-26 in the paint. Emmitt Holt was 7-for-7 shooting in the first half, helping the Friars to cruise to a 50-18 lead after 20 minutes. Holt led all scorers in the contest with 20 points.
While Brown more than doubled its scoring output in the second half, the 57 points were the lowest for the Bears since an 84-55 season-opening loss to Cincinnati. Coming into the game, forwards Steven Spieth ’17 and Joshua Howard ’20 — Bruno’s leading scorers —   averaged 18 and 12 points, respectively. The pair combined for just nine points Tuesday.
“We were very, very nervous in preparing for Brown with respect to Spieth — he’s a great player,” said Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley. “I thought we were really dialed in defensively. Defensively is where we’re going to hang our hat because you’re not always going to throw it in the basket the way we did today.”
Obi Okolie ’19 was the lone bright spot for Bruno offensively, scoring 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. In total, Brown shot just 37 percent overall and 3-for-17 from three. Travis Fuller ’19 added 10 points off the bench.
“For whatever reason we weren’t moving, cutting and screening the way we’d like to,” Martin said. “I didn’t think we shared the ball the way we have been.”
The Friars used a considerable size advantage inside to out-rebound the Bears 37-27, including a 12-6 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Brown will have a chance to bounce back before the winter break, hosting Emerson and Johnson and Wales, both Division III teams, this week.
“We have to do more good things at both ends of the court for 40 minutes,” Martin said. “It can’t be flashes at one end of the court for five minutes. It has to be both ends of the court for 40 minutes.””

Incoming Trump administration provokes unease from R.I. lawmakers
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“With the proposed policies and staff of President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration becoming clearer by the day, the nature of the new leadership is appearing more and more at odds with the progressive tint usually attributed to Providence politics. From the office of Mayor Jorge Elorza, there has already been robust action to counteract Trump’s anticipated policies.
“I am more convinced than ever that the work we do at the local level is essential to safeguarding the values that define us as a community,” Elorza said in a press release Nov. 14. “We cannot stand idly as members of our community are bullied, targeted and scapegoated on the national stage.”
That declaration accompanied the announcement of Elorza’s new One Providence Initiative. As part of the program, the Mayor’s office will announce a new policy or event every week up until Inauguration Day to “give reassurance to the city’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents that the city will continue to support them,” he added in the release.
Nov. 22, the office announced the creation of a Muslim-American Advisory Board to represent the concerns of Muslims from the Providence community. A press release states that the five-seat board will “help guide Mayor Elorza’s policy decisions that affect Muslim-Americans in Providence,” as well as “enhance the understanding of the religion of Islam.” The release also cited a recent rise in hate crimes against Muslim-Americans nationwide as urgent reason for the board’s creation.
At the inaugural Nov. 12 meeting for political community organizing group Resist Hate RI, Elorza was even more adamant in his promises to the community. Before a packed crowd at Hope High School, Elorza promised action on municipal IDs, welcome centers for new immigrants and paid paternal leave for all city workers.
Elorza also promised to pass the Providence Community Safety Act, an ordinance that seeks to limit instances of police brutality. “Between now and Inauguration Day, I will be introducing the CSA to the Providence City Council and will be working to make sure it gets passed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Providence City Council has intensified efforts to pass the act in the weeks following Trump’s election, according to Micaela Antunes, press secretary for the Providence City Council.
Most notably, Elorza vowed during the Resist Hate RI meeting to essentially transform the city of Providence into a sanctuary city. “While I am mayor, the Providence Police Department will never enforce immigration policies,” he said.
“While there is no commonly used definition of ‘sanctuary city,’ Providence is committed to being an inclusive and welcoming community to all,” wrote Emily Crowell, director of communications for the Mayor’s Office, in an email to The Herald.
Such a forceful declaration from Elorza could put city finances in jeopardy, as opposing the policies of the federal government can sometimes result in a loss of federal funding. Trump has given these fears weight, pledging in a Sept. 1 speech to “cancel unconstitutional executive orders and enforce all immigration laws.” He added that “cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities (on immigration) will not receive taxpayer dollars.”
“Currently, the Providence Police Department cooperates with federal immigration authorities by holding anyone with a detainer who is charged with a crime and will continue to do so,” Crowell wrote.
Representatives from the Providence Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Even though city-level action could provoke a reduction in funding from the national government, it might be the only level of resistance to be found in the Ocean State. “Even before the election, significant numbers of my Democratic colleagues in the (state) House and Senate were opposed to driver’s licenses for immigrants and funding for Planned Parenthood,” said Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence. “And on top of that, Trump won a lot of districts in the state.”
Ajello said she was doubtful as to whether or not Democrats in the state’s General Assembly would be willing or even capable of countering Trump in the way Elorza plans. For her part, Ajello said she’s focused on securing the future of reproductive rights in Rhode Island, one that has become unclear in the wake of Trump’s election.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-GA, Trump’s pick for secretary of health and human services, has received a 0 percent rating from Planned Parenthood for his opposition to federal funding for the organization as well as to the practice of abortion itself. In an interview with the Blaze July 21, Trump himself said Planned Parenthood “absolutely should be defunded.”
“If Planned Parenthood was defunded by the federal government, I would hope (Gov. Gina) Raimondo would try to find state funds to earmark,” Ajello said. “I have talked with my colleagues and advocates about introducing legislation around abortion rights.”
Convincing Democrats in the statehouse to fund the organization independently at the state level would be an uphill battle, she added. “But it’s an easier road than it would’ve been 10 years ago.”
Codifying the Roe v. Wade decision remains the most critical task for Ajello, who is currently sponsoring a bill in the Statehouse looking to do just that. If a Supreme Court staffed by conservative Trump appointees ultimately reverses the landmark decision, Rhode Island could be subject to a number of legislative changes. Several Rhode Island laws still on the books but deemed unconstitutional by virtue of Roe, could potentially be reinstituted.
Rhode Island’s spousal notification law, for instance, requires that a woman inform her spouse if she plans to receive an abortion. While that piece of legislation is currently unenforceable, future Supreme Court decisions could render it valid once more.
“I’m inclined to be a little cautious about saying we’re going to do this or that because it’s potentially setting up an adversarial situation,” Ajello said of professed state and local efforts against the policies of a Trump presidency. But she added that community members and elected officials should still voice concern over policy changes when warranted. “Whether you’re a woman or a minority or an immigrant, we’re all in this together,” she added.”

Kumar ’17: American messiah
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“The Brown University Chorus will perform the first part of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” Friday evening in Sayles Hall. I plan on attending. Even though I’m not religious, the music of the two-and-a-half hour oratorio moves me every time I have the pleasure of hearing it. As I look ahead to tomorrow’s concert and the spiritual sentiment of the holidays overall, I feel inspired to reflect upon the various messiahs of modern society — secular messiahs, that is. During this time of global transition — with jolting elections from the United States to the United Kingdom, France and Italy — I, along with many others, am searching for answers about the present and the future. To whom can we turn to assuage our fears and steady the rocking ship on which we find ourselves?
Outgoing Vice President Joe Biden revealed Monday that he may run for president in 2020, though like any good politician, he’s not making any promises he can’t keep. Upon hearing this piece of “news” I immediately rolled my eyes in exasperation. It seems that the media, caught in a desperate clickbait race for viewers and subscribers, has already transitioned to the next presidential election — even as recounts for the latest contest are still underway. Biden can be forgiven for contemplating his future during this period of personal and public upheaval. But it’s ridiculous to think that disappointed voters who did not support President-Elect Donald Trump might take comfort in the fact that Biden will swoop in to save the country. Biden is not the American messiah.
Trump is not the messiah either. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and even U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT, too, could not have filled that role. During the election, people on both sides pinned their hopes and dreams, fears and prejudices on their chosen candidate. If our candidate could win, we thought, all would be right with the world. Perhaps this is an exaggeration — voters were well aware of the flaws of both candidates and the obstacles they would face in implementing their respective platforms. But the fever pitch of the campaign and the urgency felt by both Trump and Clinton supporters reflect the enormous weight American society places on the symbolic value of the presidency. Regardless of the real power wielded by the president, the mythology of the highest office in the land has transformed the leader of the executive branch into the supposed savior of the country.
This phenomenon didn’t appear out of thin air in 2016. President Barack Obama ran for office in 2008 with the slogan “change we can believe in.” If ever there were a messianic message for a candidate, that was it. But the zealotry displayed by supporters of Trump and Clinton during this cycle seemed to exceed anything with which I, at least, am familiar. Christian news sites have written that Trump was elected “ by divine intervention .” Conversely, Clinton supporters devastated by the election results are still struggling to remain optimistic about the future, as if the destruction of their candidate’s political aspirations meant the destruction of everything they believe in.
To some extent, Americans are right to invest so much energy and faith in the presidency. It is, after all, a position of incredible power, combining in one head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military and economic power. The president’s actions affect, to a greater or lesser degree, people of all backgrounds in all aspects of their lives in all countries of the world.
But that power derives from the office of the presidency and not the supposedly messianic characteristics of the person who inhabits it. All presidents who have preceded Trump have been humbled by that office and, in turn, by the voters who placed them there. Regardless of Trump’s inclination to ignore democratic values — namely, the freedom of the press and freedom of expression — he, too, will ultimately be humbled by the grave responsibility that he must bear for the next four years. In the end, a president is limited by his own flaws and desires. He is not a king by divine right, nor the savior of his people. He — or she, hopefully, one day — is an elected official to whom we have entrusted some of the most challenging decisions for our country.
Whether you’re rejoicing or despairing over the outcome of this election, bear in mind that power is all around. It lies with our senators and representatives, our governors, our state legislators, our mayors and our city councils. But it also lies with all of us, who have the capacity to shape in big and small ways the present and the future we experience together. At this pivotal moment in time, let’s seize every opportunity we have to define our own world and to empower those around us to do the same. In doing so, perhaps we can cure some of the social ills that have only worsened as we have fallen ever deeper into the trap of presidential worship. We cannot hide behind a figurehead to avoid owning up to the power that we wield over ourselves and our neighbors.
If you’re looking for a savior, look no further than the mirror. This holiday season and beyond, be your own secular messiah.
Nikhil Kumar ’17 can be reached at . Please send responses to this opinion to and other op-eds to .”

Decaul GS brings veterans into theater
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“The men and women who flock to the South Providence Library each Wednesday evening for Maurice Decaul’s GS class have fought in wars spanning the past half-century. They have been Army nurses in Vietnam, Navy sailors in the first Gulf War and Marine soldiers during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
But Wednesday evenings, they are all Decaul’s students, learning the intricacies of playwriting through the Theatre Communications Group’s new Veterans and Theatre Institute Program.
The program is the latest in Decaul’s long, winding list of creative endeavors, which began with a bachelor’s in creative writing at Columbia in 2012 and has culminated with his pursuing a master’s in fine arts in playwriting at Brown.
It is the resume of a writing aficionado, peppered with pieces in the New York Times and Newsweek. But during his five years as a Marine, writing occupied a different domain, far removed from the world of combat. Brought up in a family of pragmatists, he deemed prose impractical, a contradiction to his upbringing in a family that only read “things that are factual.”
“My father, he bought the encyclopedia, so we read that,” he said. Writing for writing’s sake felt fruitless.
But in his first year out of the military, writing became a lifeline. After returning to the United States from Iraq, Decaul’s military unit split. “The community really broke down,” he said. Isolated from his fellow soldiers, Decaul’s war experience was left unprocessed and unverbalized.
Despite fearing it was a poor use of time, Decaul enrolled in a creative writing workshop for veterans hosted at New York University. Surrounded by veterans from the Afghanistan, Iraq and Korean wars, Decaul found the words for his wartime experience.
“I had never thought about the war,” Decaul said. But suddenly, “it was all about the war.”
Sensing the power prose could have over veterans, Decaul created a similar workshop at Columbia. Now, as the Theatre Communications Group’s first artist-in-residence, the essays are becoming plays, as he brings a new adaptation of the workshop to Providence, focused exclusively on theater.
Playwriting in Providence
The goal of VTI is simple: create demand for theater in a community that often feels estranged from it. For Decaul, this means getting veterans’ fingerprints on all aspects of the playhouse.
For students interested in playwriting, Decaul assigns readings, which students then reinterpret through pieces of their own. Though the veterans are free to write about anything, many feel the military experience is “the story that feels most urgent to tell,” said Anne Flammang, a Coast Guard retiree who has been with the class since its inception. With modern combat at the forefront of the playwrights’ minds, the classics are revamped, and ancient Greece becomes Afghanistan, Ajax morphs into the commanding officer, and the chorus gets filled with junior marines.
For veterans less interested in reinterpreting the canon, VTI hopes to teach the technical aspects of play production. “I’m of the mind that if the Marine Corps has taught you how to build a bridge, …   we can teach you how to build a set,” Decaul said. Down the road, he sees gunnery sergeants molded into stage managers, parsing their motivational skills onto a new target. “That’s the mission: getting the play staged and getting to opening night,” Decaul said. “We’ll teach them not to yell at the actors.”
Decaul’s course is the first in what he hopes will be series of veteran theater initiatives, each taking root in a city densely populated with veteran and active military personnel. In three months, VTI’s North Carolina program will begin in Fayetteville, North Carolina, directly to the east of Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the world by population. Around the same time, VTI will branch into the La Jolla Playhouse on the University of California’s campus in San Diego — a city where veterans constitute one-tenth of the residents.
Compared to cities like Fayetteville and San Diego, Providence’s military population is minuscule. According to the latest census, the entire state of Rhode Island holds a little over 70,000 veterans, only slightly more than the military personnel on Fort Bragg alone. But Decaul said he doesn’t need hundreds of thousands of veterans. He needs 10.
“It’s about social support,” Decaul said. “We’re actually building something in the size of a squad again.”
VTI is not intended to be therapeutic. “I’m not a therapist,” Decaul said, and creating a healing space for veterans “wasn’t the idea or the intent” of the initiative. Yet after monitoring the group for four months, he now believes the program has the potential to address issues involving post-traumatic stress disorder.
When a community of men and women who have seen combat come together week after week, “there’s trust in the room,” he said. 
This intimate military community appealed to Jonathan Hagedorn ’19, the program’s only Brown undergraduate. After spending three and a half years in Afghanistan as a Marine, Hagedorn enrolled at Brown and quickly found himself immersed in the arts, performing in productions by Brown Motion Pictures and the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. But despite feeling welcomed by Brown’s theater community, Hagedorn said he still found himself monitoring his work when writing for an audience that hadn’t seen combat. Decaul’s course was an opportunity to continue pursuing creative writing sans censorship.
“There’s definitely an aggressive Marine version of myself that I kind of try and reign in when I’m around people that weren’t in the military,” he said. In the room of veterans provided by Decaul, his “Marine voice” finds an audience.
Veterans and thespians
It’s easy to reduce veterans and theater to two different domains, one rigid and regulated, the other free-flowing and expressive. But some veterans see this divide slowly crumbling.
“There’s definitely a movement nationwide for artistic events for veterans,” said Katherine McNeil, the program director for the Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs.
With theater performances popping up at military bases through actor Adam Driver’s Arts in the Armed Forces initiative and the VTI’s new pilot programs, Hagedorn, too, sees the buildup of a “huge form of expression that (veterans) just never had before.”
But at Brown, home to only 12 undergraduate veterans, Hagedorn fears effectively meshing the theater and veteran communities may take longer. They’re “two completely different worlds,” Hagedorn said. “I feel like I’m part of a very large community just in the theater community, … and I’m the only veteran they know here on campus.” Meanwhile, among Brown’s small veteran population, he’s noticed less interest in the arts and more of an emphasis on politics and international relations.
But as Brown’s body of student veterans expands past a dozen members, the collision between the worlds of veterans and the arts should happen naturally, he said.
Until then, Hagedorn is pleased to have the VTI program bridge the gap. “The experience is incredible,” he said. “There’s no other real outlet for this.””

U. scientists express concern with Trump administration
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“Throughout his campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump made many misleading and false statements about science. “It’s almost a political strategy to ignore the facts, make up his own facts and then backtrack on them when it’s expedient,” said Barry Connors, chair and professor of neuroscience, adding that Trump seems to exhibit a “general lack of respect for information, data (and) expertise.”
Trump’s 2012 tweet denouncing climate change as a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese has attracted attention and frustration among scientists. Most people Trump has appointed thus far are climate change deniers, Connors added. But his stances on such issues have also varied.
In 2009, he and other business leaders took out an advertisement in the New York Times asking President Barack Obama to negotiate a strong climate treaty in Copenhagen and to push Congress for binding laws to limit climate change, said Stephen Porder, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and of environment and society. “My personal take is that the President-Elect hasn’t really thought about it and doesn’t really care,” he said. “I hope that I’m wrong.”
As president, Trump will hold sway over science in the United States, affecting issues from funding to public belief in scientific consensus. Though his course in political action regarding science remains to be charted, widespread concerns exist as to his effects on research.
Since he has never served in government before, the public lacks a political record of Trump’s decisions on which expectations can be based, said James Head, professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences. “We’re entering an era of uncertainty.”
To fund or not to fund
“What we saw during the Bush administration — which I would say is looking very moderate compared to the incoming administration — was a systematic defunding of any sort of climate change research,” Porder said. “While I would hope that would not be the case moving forward, I certainly think that earth and environmental sciences are likely to take the biggest hit.”
If funding decreases, the overhead collected by the University will decrease, and it may have to make up for a budget shortage, Porder said.
Much of the funding for environmental studies comes from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said Baylor Fox-Kemper, associate professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences. “Changes of administration have changed the priorities of those agencies pretty substantially in the past,” he said. “Environmental sciences are not in the safest position.”
But Trump’s focus on supporting innovation may include science and research, Fox-Kemper said, adding that if the new administration wants “to spark innovation, funding may go up across the board.”
Connors noted the recent passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in the Congress, which will significantly bolster certain areas of the National Institutes of Health. But its budget would need to be renewed each year, he added.
Head emphasized that the path from electing Trump to his effects on funding is far from linear.
“There’s no way to predict. But most people worry that things are more likely to get tougher than better, at least in terms of research and dollars,” Connors said.
Cabinet choices
Many of the president-elect’s appointments have generated widespread concern.
“History has shown that the best administrations and cabinet-level officials are those that have a significant level of knowledge, understanding (and) experience in the field,” Head said. “Administrations appointed for political or ideological reasons have typically done more damage than good.”
Trump picked U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-GA, as secretary of health and human services, a role that oversees the NIH, Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control. He opposes embryonic stem cell research, as well as federal funding for anything related to birth control, Connors said.
“Given the appointments — or at least the people chosen to lead the transition so far — there is no representation of the science community as far as I can tell,” Porder said.
Trump also has the right to select a new director of the NIH, which controls a significant portion of funding for biomedical scientific research, Connors said.
Endangered science
“One of the things that really worries me is the availability of student and professional visas for students to come to the (United States),” Fox-Kemper said. Foreign students contribute significantly to U.S. academic activity, and many move permanently to the United States, bringing their talents with them.
“I’m very concerned that it will become more difficult to get those visas,” he said. Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, such immigrants have been scrutinized much more closely, which has had a clear impact on research, he added.
Many research labs rely heavily on “the free flow of scientific talent,” Connors said.
Those in the scientific community who lack U.S. citizenship are particularly vulnerable to Trump’s choices, but they are not the only ones. Science will be damaged most at schools that lack Brown’s wealth, Porder said.
“My biggest concern is actually not for Brown — (though) we will certainly feel effects — but for people who are less affluent and less privileged than the general community at Brown, who are going to feel the effects of decreased funding and decreased support much more painfully than we are.”
Political discourse
Trump’s disdain for evidence and expertise has created a new standard for presidential candidates, which has already altered the course of political discussion, Connors said. “The fallout is already clear,” he added. “It can’t be good for the general degree of trust and respect that science and scientists get.”
“If an individual looks at major scientific issues from an ideological or political basis, this often tends to discredit or demonize science,” Head said. “This can’t be good for the future of the country, so I hope this doesn’t happen.”
Fox-Kemper expressed concern about Trump’s lack of scientific expertise and dismissal of scientific consensus. “On the other hand, scientists are often seen as one of the most trustworthy groups in society — certainly more trustworthy than politicians.””

Class differences shape journeys home
by Brown Daily Herald
Jan 01, 2017
“This article is part of the series Class on Campus This story is the third in a three-part series about socioeconomic status at Brown. The series, through interviews with five students, examines the way socioeconomic status shapes students’ relationships to Brown in three stages: the application process, adjusting to life on campus and going back home after living and studying here.
This story chronicles how being at Brown has affected life at home, specifically in the way students are perceived in and perceive their hometowns, their relationships with their parents and their plans for life post-graduation.
Seeing home in a new light
“College as a whole just changes you, and then you go back, and then your parents slowly start realizing that you’re not the same person that you were when you left the house and were living in the house 24/7,” said Chinenye Uduji ’19, a sophomore from Philadelphia.
During Molly Sandstrom’s ’17 freshman year, Fox News journalist Jesse Watters asked her if her parents knew that she was participating in Nudity in the Upspace. She looked into the camera and said, “I guess they know now!”
In truth, Sandstrom told her parents about her decision to participate in Nudity Week. But she wasn’t fully prepared for how shocked her community back home in Lindstrom, Minnesota would be when watching the broadcast.
“Of course I wanted to be interviewed,” she said, explaining that she was keen on presenting herself as a liberal Brown student who questioned stereotypes about body image. “As soon as I finished the interview, I was so proud. But I felt a sinking feeling afterwards.”
While Sandstrom entered college eager to experience an environment more diverse and progressive than the small town in which she grew up, Kimberly Davila ’20 was shocked to see just how different Brown is from her community back home in Montebello, California.
“Back in my community, there’s gangs, and there’s drug dealing on the street. When people die, they put flowers on the side of the street and candles. That has become very normal to me,” she said.
Hearing about other Brown students’ pre-college experiences led Davila to see these elements of her childhood environment in a new light. “Why is that I’ve come to see this as normal, and kids in my community have come to see this as normal when it really shouldn’t be normalized that way?” she said. “Why do people in my community have to take that path?”
These reflections illuminated for Davila the disparities between the resources with which she grew up and those some families of Brown students command, she said.
Ahmed Ashour ’19 often edits his accounts of his experiences at Brown when talking to his parents in Bahrain. Ashour has not told his parents that he has started drinking, has woman friends or friends who do not identify with the gender binary at all.
His sexuality is also a secret from his parents; while at Brown, Ashour began to explore his sexuality in the supportive environments of his a cappella group and his theater troupe.
Sandstrom, too, grappled with defining her sexuality in college but felt empowered to “come out” as queer in a long Facebook post while in college. She also texted her parents, but it felt very “low stakes,” she said. “I had a good sense my family wouldn’t disown me and that my social circles wouldn’t change. I wonder if it would have (been) more high stakes if I had stayed back home and was still connected to my social network,” she added.
“It sort of sucks that I’m not forward about it or confronting this not-accepting culture I’m from,” Ashour said. “But for the very short time I’m back home, for me, I just want to avoid being asked like five million questions about one thing and it spiraling into a huge conflict. I just want to enjoy the three weeks, four weeks I’m there.”
Being openly gay in Bahrain is not a possibility, Ashour said, but the realities of being a gay man in his country do not necessarily rule out his return, he added. While he always thought he would like to work in the United States after graduation, his future here feels uncertain under a Donald Trump presidency. “It was a moment of reflection for me, just thinking about my future in this country as a Middle Easterner and if I can ever feel truly, truly welcomed in this society.”
Parents, politics and the election
Before the election, Charlotte May ’17 met Trump at a TIME Magazine gala to which her mother had been invited. May’s mother, a TIME Magazine editor, does not vote in elections in order to remain nonpartisan.
May has been judged by her mother in the past for some of her political views, which would be considered politically incorrect by Brown standards, she said. May laments the pressure she feels at Brown to espouse positions that adhere to predominating campus views.
“I hit all the marks of privilege, so anything I say will come out as racist or any of the ‘isms’ or ‘ists’ because my opinions will not necessarily line up completely” with the apparent consensus at Brown about what constitutes an acceptable opinion. “As the oppressor, I therefore have no right to an opinion,” she said.
On the other hand, she feels much more comfortable sharing her opinions with family back home, where she feels that her racial and socioeconomic privileges do not impede her ability to participate in conversation. “In my family, everyone grew up together, but everyone has a different point of view. And we’re all able to engage and discuss on the same playing field. No one can claim, ‘Oh, your opinion is invalid because I’ve experienced this and that.’”
For Sandstrom, discussing politics with her family can be a challenge after being steeped in Brown’s rhetoric of social change. “My parents joke that they cancel each other out. My dad leans conservatively, and my mother leans liberally,” Sandstrom said. “Two years ago, I got into a big fight with my parents because I was being too academic and not willing to listen to them. But we’ve had some good conversations since.”
Talking to her mother about offensive statements she has made is particularly difficult because she is so well-intentioned, Sandstrom said. “Sure, my parents aren’t overt racists, but the way they talk about race is probably not so great. It’s hard to know how to name that and talk about it in a way that is productive,” she said.
“Through the work I do, I don’t necessarily believe in creating space for those who don’t know or hold beliefs that are racist or sexist,” she said. But she recognizes the need to “meet people where they’re at.”
The problematic political stances of her family and how Sandstrom addresses them can be difficult to discuss on campus as well. She sometimes feels torn between condemning her parents’ political views in stark terms and being lenient. These issues are “tough to talk about at home, tough to talk about here,” she said.
While watching the second presidential debate, Sandstrom became increasingly uncomfortable with the way some of the Brown students around her reduced Trump and his supporters to a joke, she said. In part, she traced her discomfort to the fact that she was not sure if her father planned to vote for Trump.
“I wouldn’t deny that Trump embodies many things I’m concerned about, like racism and sexism and all that. But making supporters into a joke writes off the South, the Midwest, poor rural communities,” she said. “Especially from a bastion of privilege like the Ivy League, to turn people into a joke furthers class divides. It makes people like my father a joke, and it fails to recognize some of the concerns that someone like my father might have.”
Fitting in with friends
After beginning college, some of the students felt distant from their friends back home.
When Ashour goes back to Bahrain, he is unable to openly discuss some topics, such as social justice issues, like he does on campus. Additionally, he left Bahrain in the middle of his high school career and has lost touch with his friends back home because he left so long ago, he added.
Uduji feels he has personally changed more than some of his high school friends who stayed in Philadelphia for college, he said. He has not communicated much with his friends from home since he came to campus, he added.
Davila also noted differences with some friends who attend college closer to home. The class privilege and number of students from prep schools at Brown are greater than what her friends encounter at some of the University of California schools, she said.
Davila was one of the very few students who left the state from her high school. Before she had even come to campus this fall for her first semester, one of her friends asked: “Do you think you’re better than us now because you go to Brown?” She predicts she will not talk about campus much to her friends over winter break.
Post-graduation plans
As students think about their professional plans for life after Brown, class continues to shape the career paths they are interested in pursuing and the urgency they feel about finding work.
May has already secured a job in New York City at Goldman Sachs. She will be working at Goldman Sachs’ office of corporate engagement, rather than the investment banking branch of the bank. She was never “worried” about finding a job, acknowledging that her family is “well-connected.”
Some feel pressure to secure work immediately after graduation.
While some of Sandstrom’s friends have suggested taking a gap year between graduation and entering the workforce, that is not a financial possibility for her, she said.
For a financial cushion between graduation and her first paycheck, Sandstrom is diverting money from the five jobs she currently works to save for a couple months’ rent, she said.
As a first-year, Davila already has a vision for her plans in 2020.
She intends to attend law school and possibly run for office to address some of the difficulties in her community that she has come to understand differently since arriving at Brown, she said. With a Brown degree and access to the University’s resources, she will have the power to increase opportunities for people back home, she added.
Though her experience at Brown has illuminated just how great the disparity is between the resources in her hometown and those in particularly wealthy circles, Davila has become “very optimistic about things.””

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