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Fauci says US might not see 'second wave' of Covid-19 cases
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 13, 2020
“US public health expert said another wave of infections ‘not inevitable ... if you approach it the proper way’Leading US public health expert and White House coronavirus taskforce member Dr Anthony Fauci has said the US may not see a “second wave” of cases of Covid-19.According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the US has recorded more than 2m cases of Covid-19 and nearly 115,000 deaths.Many experts fear attempts to reopen shuttered state economies and mass protests over police brutality and structural racism could contribute to a second surge in cases.But Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has been sidelined by the White House since April, after breaking with Donald Trump’s position on reopening the economy, told CNN on Friday increases in cases in several states were not necessarily indicative of a “second spike” of infections.“When you start to see increases in hospitalisation, that’s a surefire situation that you’ve got to pay close attention to,” Fauci said.“It is not inevitable that you will have a so-called ‘second wave’ in the fall, or even a massive increase if you approach it in the proper way,” he added, advising people to maintain social distancing and to continue to wear masks in public.According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 80% of Americans self-isolated in the last month and 74% wore face coverings in public either always or often. Residents of New York and Los Angeles did so about 90% of the time.In the past week, 19 states including Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Oregon, California, Nevada and Florida have reported seven-day rolling average highs for new Covid-19 infections.In Arkansas on Friday, for example, Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, announced a record number of cases in the previous 24 hours. In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, placed a seven-day hold on lifting on loosening social restrictions.In Maryland, Baltimore announced that it would not be moving into phase two of planned reopening.In a statement, the mayor, Bernard Young, said: “Let me be crystal clear with everyone: I, more than almost anyone, would love to see that Baltimore city is open and safe, but that simply is not what the data is telling us at this time.”The CDC said it could it not confirm reports of striking increases in coronavirus hospitalisations but would monitor the numbers “very closely”.Such developments sent stock markets into a tailspin on Thursday, before a slight recovery on Friday.Some experts, meanwhile, have become more optimistic that a vaccine for Covid-19 can be developed swiftly.“I think the science is on our side,” the former CDC director Julie Gerberding told CNN.But she cautioned: “That doesn’t say anything about the speed, the safety and the durability and all of the other criteria that have to come into play before we have something that we can count on to give us that population immunity.”In New York City, mass protests have sparked fears of a resurgence of the virus in the American pandemic center. But new infections are now at the lowest level in the entire US.“We were the No 1 state in terms of infection … and now we are the last state in terms of rate of transmission,” New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said on Friday. “That is because New Yorkers stepped up. They were smart. They were disciplined. They did what they had to do, and we need to stay there.””
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President Trump will accept the Republican nomination in Jacksonville, Florida, after moving most of the convention out of Charlotte
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Jun 12, 2020
“See CNN's debut Electoral College map for 2020”
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Protector or threat? Across the Washington region, schools weigh police’s role on campus.
by Local Education
Jun 12, 2020
“School resource officer programs are under new scrutiny.”
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Atlanta police officer charged in tasing of college students was named in prior excessive force lawsuit
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Jun 12, 2020
“One of the six Atlanta police officers charged last week after allegedly using excessive force on two college students was named in a lawsuit over a 2016 shooting during a police raid that killed a mentally ill man.”
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Opinion: White people are already experts on racism
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Jun 12, 2020
“When I knew him in the mid-1990s, Nick (as I'll call him here) bore a disconcerting resemblance to Dickie Greenleaf, the character played by Jude Law in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." He came from a wealthy New England family on Boston's North Shore; he'd been expelled from a dozen prep schools and barely graduated from college; he was effortlessly good at all sports and was the center of attention wherever he went.”
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Why the Electoral College may not be able to save Trump's reelection chances
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 12, 2020
“Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis and the police-brutality protests have all but extinguished his Electoral College firewall.”
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Gallaudet University suspends fraternity after anti-Semitic photo resurfaces
by Local Education
Jun 12, 2020
“Kappa Gamma Fraternity has long been accused of racist and anti-Semitic actions.”
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Australian PM draws criticism for 'no slavery in Australia' comment
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 10, 2020
“Australian officials warned Black Lives Matter supporters they could be arrested if they breach coronavirus restrictions to take part in public protests, as debate erupted over the country's own indigenous history. Prime Minister Scott Morrison drew strong criticism on Thursday after he said "there was no slavery in Australia" during a discussion of the early days of British settlement, which he acknowledged was "pretty brutal." "Slavery of indigenous, men, women and children is well documented," said Sharman Stone, a former federal lawmaker and now politics professor at Monash University.”
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Masks required and fewer parties (allegedly): What college will look like this fall
by Local Education
Jun 10, 2020
“Colleges are rewriting the rules of student life. Some students are skeptical.”
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‘They set us up’: US police arrested over 10,000 protesters, many non-violent
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 09, 2020
“Over 10,000 people have been arrested around the US, as police regularly use pepper spray, rubber bullets, teargas and batons * George Floyd killing – latest US updates * See all our George Floyd coverageSince George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 25 May, around 140 cities in all 50 states throughout the US have seen protests and demonstrations in response to the killing. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the US during the protests, as police forces regularly use pepper spray, rubber bullets, teargas and batons on protesters, media and bystanders. Several major US cities have enacted curfews in an attempt to stop demonstrations and curb unrest. Jarah Gibson was arrested while non-violently protesting in Atlanta, Georgia, on 1 June. “The police were there from the jump and literally escorted us the whole march,” said Gibson. She said around 7.30pm, ahead of Atlanta’s 9pm city-wide curfew, police began boxing in protesters. While protesters were attempting to leave, Gibson tried to video record a person on a bicycle who appeared to be hit by a police car and was arrested by police. She was given a citation for “pedestrian in a roadway,” and “refusing to comply when asked to leave”.“The police are instigating everything and they are criminalizing us. Now I have my mugshot taken, my fingerprints taken and my eyes scanned. Now I’m a criminal over an illegal arrest,” added Gibson. “I want to be heard and I want the police to just abide by basic human decency.”Ruby Anderson was arrested while non-violently protesting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 31 May. The police refused to provide a reason for her detention until they were placed in a police van, where they were told the charge was loitering. They were given a wristband that stated “unlawful assembly” and ultimately charged with disorderly conduct. “While I was arrested, I was standing next to two white people who were doing the same thing as me, standing between a group of officers and a group of black teenagers. I was the only one arrested in my group of three, I was the only black person,” Anderson said.Reports of excessive police force throughout the protests have emerged around the US. More than 130 reports of journalists being attacked by police have been recorded since 28 May.On 2 June, six police officers in Atlanta, Georgia, were charged with excessive force during an arrest of two college students on 30 May. A staggering 12,000 complaints against police in Seattle, Washington, were made over the weekend of 30 May in response to excessive force at protests.A Denver, Colorado, police officer was fired for posting on Instagram “let’s start a riot”. In New York City, videos surfaced of NYPD officers pointing a gun at protesters, driving an SUV into a crowd of protesters, swiping a protester with a car door, an officer flashing a white supremacy symbol, and another officer shoving a woman to the ground, which left her hospitalized.Several protesters and bystanders around the US have been left hospitalized from rubber bullet wounds, bean bags, teargas canisters and batons, while police have reportedly torn down medical tents and destroyed water bottles meant for protesters. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dan Rojas was arrested on the morning of May 27. Though there were no protests occurring at the time, Rojas had decided to clean up fragments of rubber bullets, teargas and frag canisters on the public sidewalk in his neighborhood when six police officers confronted him and arrested him. “They put me in handcuffs, took my property off of me, and they shoved a local reporter out of the way. They put me in a squad car and arrested me for rioting at 10.30 in the morning, the day after a peaceful protest,” said Rojas, who wasn’t released until over 48 hours later. “ At the end of it no charges were filed, everything was dropped and I was never told the probable cause they had to arrest me,” Several non-violent protesters arrested during demonstrations requested to remain anonymous for fear of police retaliation as they still face citations and pending charges. The protesters described police tactics of “kettling”, where protesters were surrounded and blocked by police forces from leaving, often until curfews took effect or arrests were made for obstructing a roadway. “The curfews are a way to give police more power, exactly the opposite of what protesters want. These curfews, like most other ‘law and order’ tactics, will disproportionately impact the very same communities that are protesting against state-sponsored violence and brutality,” said Dr LaToya Baldwin Clark, assistant professor of law at UCLA.One protester in Los Angeles, California, told how she was returning to her apartment before the city’s 6pm curfew, while police were blocking protesters and obstructing exits. “I was arrested two streets away from my apartment, it had just turned 6pm,” said the protester. She noted during the arrests, bystanders were protesting the arrests from their apartment balconies, while police were aiming rubber bullets, teargas, and pepper spray at them.“They handcuffed us all with zip tie handcuffs and left us in a police bus for about five hours… I asked for medical assistance and they denied it to me, I was handcuffed for over five hours with a bleeding hand that eventually turned purple until I was finally released.” She was eventually released at 1am on 2 June, with a citation for being out past curfew. “The police set us up to get arrested. They shut off the streets forcing us onto Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Once we were on the bridge, the police blocked both exits in front and behind us,” said a protester in Dallas, Texas, who was arrested on 1 June and later released without charges.She added: “They shot teargas at us and shot a protester with a rubber bullet and it injured her hand. The police made us all get on the ground, proceeded to zip tie our hands together, lined us up on the side of the highway and left us there for hours.”In Cincinnati, Ohio, a resident in a neighborhood where protests were occurring on 31 May saw several protesters were at risk of being caught outside past the city’s curfew at 8pm. “It felt like a trap to me. I felt if I could pick some people up and take them to their cars, I could stop people from getting arrested, so I jumped in my car, drove down the street, saw a group of people hiding, they had their hands up, and they climbed into the car, and shut the doors. We tried to drive, but were stopped,” said the resident. “We were asked to leave the car, zip tied on the side of the road, loaded onto a bus, and they detained us for a few hours doing paperwork.” A protester in Houston, Texas, described police kettling her and other protesters before getting arrested on 31 May for obstructing a roadway. “We weren’t allowed to go home,” she said. “We tried our best to go home and were told ‘no, you’re not leaving.’ From then on, the cops said anyone outside their circle is going to jail and they would push us further from the sidewalk. They had us closed in.””
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Fired Atlanta officers file suit against mayor, police chief
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 09, 2020
“Two Atlanta police officers who were fired after video showed them using stun guns on two college students pulled from a car in traffic during a large protest against police brutality are looking to get their jobs back. Bottoms and Shields have said they reviewed body camera footage from the May 30 incident and decided to immediately fire the officers and place three others on desk duty. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard brought criminal charges on June 2 against Gardner, Streeter and four other officers involved in the incident.”
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Falwell apologizes for tweet that included racist photo
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 08, 2020
“Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. apologized Monday for a tweet that included a racist photo that appeared on Gov. Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page decades ago. “After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor’s racist past I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point," he tweeted Monday. Falwell, a stalwart backer of President Donald Trump and the son of the late evangelist the Rev. Jerry Falwell, said he had deleted the tweet and apologized “for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community.””
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University calls professor's tweets 'vile and inexcusable' following backlash online
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Jun 07, 2020
“A professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington has come under fire for tweets he posted which the school has called "vile and inexcusable," according to a statement the school provided to CNN Saturday.”
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Irene Triplett, last person to collect an American civil war pension, dies at 90
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 07, 2020
“Daughter of private who fought for both sides and had children in his 80s lived for years in a North Carolina nursing homeThe last person to receive a US government pension from the American civil war has died.Irene Triplett was 90 when she died last Sunday in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Her father, Mose Triplett, fought for the Confederacy and the Union in the civil war, which began in 1861 and ended with the defeat of the slave power in 1865. He applied for his Union pension 20 years after the war and in 1930, when his daughter was born, he was 83.The Wall Street Journal, which spoke to Irene Triplett for a story in 2014, reported that she died “from complications following surgery for injuries from a fall, according to the nursing home where she lived”.Dennis St Andrew, a commander of the North Carolina Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, told the Journal Triplett was “a part of history”.“You’re talking to somebody whose father was in the civil war,” he said. “Which is mind-bending.”But to Stephanie McCurry, a historian of the civil war and Reconstruction era at Columbia University in New York, Triplett’s death acquired a deeper resonance by occurring in the midst of national civil unrest over the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, an African American man.“Just like the Confederate monuments issue, which is blowing up right now, I think this is a reminder of the long reach of slavery, secession and the civil war,” she told the Washington Post. “It reminds you of the battle over slavery and its legitimacy in the United States.”Each month, Triplett collected $73.13 from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), a total of $877.56 a year. Her father earned the sum by defecting north in 1863 after missing the battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the war.“Pvt Triplett enlisted in the 53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment in May 1862,” the Journal reported, citing Confederate records which showed he was then 16.And Triplett “transferred to the 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment early the following year”, “fell ill as his regiment marched north” then “ran away from the hospital … while his unit suffered devastating losses at Gettysburg”.A deserter, Triplett “made his way to Tennessee and, in 1864, enlisted in … the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry”, Kirk’s Raiders, which “carried out a campaign of sabotage against Confederate targets”.Mose Triplett was unsurprisingly not popular in post-war North Carolina but eventually, in 1924, still childless, he married a second time. He was nearly 80. His new wife, Elida Hall, was 34. As the Journal put it, “such an age difference wasn’t rare, especially during the Great Depression when civil war veterans found themselves with both a pension and a growing need for care.”Triplett and Hall had five children but only two survived: Irene, who like her mother suffered from mental disabilities, and Everette, a son born when Mose Triplett was 87. As the Journal wrote in 2014, “Irene and Everette Triplett were born in tough country during tough times. The forested hills ran with white lightning from illegal stills. Ms Triplett said she didn’t drink moonshine, but she got hooked on tobacco in first grade.”“I dipped snuff in school, and I chewed tobacco in school,” Triplett said then. “I raised homemade tobacco. I chewed that, too. I chewed it all.”In 1938, aged 92, Mose Triplett attended a reunion at Gettysburg. In his remarks, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt referred to the Gettysburg Address, delivered in November 1863: “Lincoln spoke in solace for all who fought upon this field; and the years have laid their balm upon their wounds. Men who wore the blue and men who wore the gray are here together, a fragment spared by time.”Newsreel footage posted to YouTube by CSPAN tells of “2,500 veterans, north and south”, black and white, marking “the 75th anniversary of America’s Armageddon”.Housed in the Confederate camp, Triplett reportedly kept quiet about the double service that placed him in rarefied company. The Victorian journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley, for example, also fought for both sides.Triplett died shortly afterwards. His gravestone, in Wilkes county, says only: “He was a civil war soldier.”In 1943, Irene and her mother moved to the Wilkes county poor house. In 1960, they moved to a care home. Elida Hall died in 1967. Everette Triplett died in 1996. Irene lived on, her care paid for by Medicaid and the civil war pension.The Journal reported that though Irene “saw little of her relatives … a pair of civil war buffs visited and sent her money to spend on Dr Pepper and chewing tobacco”.Jamie Phillips, the home’s activities director, told the Post Triplett liked gospel music, cream cheese cheeseballs and laughing.“A lot of people were interested in her story,” Phillips said, “but she’d always deflect the conversation to something different going on in the news.””
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Analysis: The Electoral College won't save Trump if this keeps up
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Jun 06, 2020
“We've learned the lesson multiple times in the last few decades: There is no national presidential election. Candidates can get fewer votes and win, if they win enough states containing a majority of electoral votes. That's something President Donald Trump may hope happens again, because the national polls have had him trailing all year.”
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AstraZeneca now has capacity to make 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Jun 06, 2020
“AstraZeneca says it has secured capacity to produce 2 billion doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed in partnership with researchers at Oxford University.”
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Cops Are Finally Being Disciplined—but Is Anybody Buying It?
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 05, 2020
“Nearly two weeks into protests against the killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis police custody, a slew of different cities across the country have been forced to confront the brutal methods used by their own police officers as videos emerged of harrowing incident after harrowing incident. And on Friday, it seemed a reckoning of sorts was in the air: Police officers in multiple cities were suspended, hit with charges, or stripped of their powers after they were caught on camera treating peaceful protesters like combatants. In New York City, where earlier this week authorities had praised the police department’s “restraint” amid protests despite video evidence to the contrary, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced that two officers involved in violent encounters with protesters—including one woman who was violently pushed to the ground and a man who was pepper sprayed after his mask was pulled down—have been suspended without pay.New York Cops Beat Protesters for Crime of Being ThereIn Philadelphia, the District Attorney’s office filed aggravated assault charges against police inspector Joseph Bologna after a video showed him hitting a demonstrator with a metal baton. The demonstrator, a Temple University student who was also arrested and detained for 24 hours, needed ten staples and sutures in his head following Monday's incident in Center City. Several states away, two Chicago police officers caught on video pulling a woman from a car by her hair before placing a knee on her neck have been stripped of their police powers pending an investigation, authorities said in a Friday statement. But before the night was even halfway over, the illusion of change began to unravel. NYPD officers rushed dozens of demonstrators in Manhattan that were out past the 8 p.m. curfew, arresting people in droves and hitting several with batons. At least 10 protesters were arrested after the peaceful protest—several of whom chanted “black lives matter” while they were awaiting transport, according to City & State NY.“This is outrageous. We were engaged in a non-violent protest. Stop arresting New Yorkers for no reason,” NYC Council Member Ben Kallos tweeted.Across the river in Brooklyn, one protester told The Daily Beast he was pushed over by authorities—prompting other residents to shout and swear at officers pushing them to go home past curfew. After a tense stand-off in which cops yelled at reporters and pushed people who had been peacefully protesting onto the sidewalks, at least a dozen were arrested and directed into NYPD vans. And in Buffalo, while there was a sense of accountability after the officers who shoved down 75-year-old Martin Gugino on Thursday night were suspended without pay, there was another sign of the rift between peaceful protesters and police officers as 57 fellow members of the Buffalo Police Department Emergency Response Team resigned in solidarity with the suspended officers.In Minneapolis, where protesters continued to express outrage over the death of Floyd on Friday, demonstrators were skeptical of police being held accountable. Zeque Davies, a 29-year-old whose parents emigrated to Minneapolis from Liberia, said the cities that have disciplined officers in recent days are “trying to prove a point through the media.” “I don’t think they’re actually holding cops accountable,” Davies told The Daily Beast. “A slap on the wrist and a paid vacation is not holding a cop accountable. Trying him, arresting him and giving him a charge, that’s holding a cop accountable.”Demonstrators in other cities weren't convinced that a simple suspension would solve any problems. “I'm sure there are professional police officers. But what we're seeing is that unlike other departments or other services, when a police officer goes rogue, they kill people,” Tara Smith, 30, told The Daily Beast at a vigil held at Union Square in Manhattan. “A city clerk is not going to do the same kind of damage, so you can't tell me that they should not be held to a higher standard than other industries and other departments and services.” Others pointed out that all the recent acts of brutality by police were happening even while people were filming them—raising the question of what happens when the cameras stop rolling. Carolina Martinez, a bartender in Buffalo taking part in a peaceful protest on Friday, said it only took four hours for video of police officers shoving down a peaceful protester to garner worldwide attention a day earlier. “The only thing we can do now is just continue to just broadcast it,” she said. Residents still came out in droves on Friday to protest. In Washington, D.C., the mayor’s office commissioned “Black Lives Matter” to be painted across a street leading to the White House.Cops Reclaim New York in Massive Show of Force In New York, thousands of residents across the five boroughs took to the streets despite the rain. Upstate, in Buffalo, protesters gathered in Niagara Square demanding police reform one day after an elderly activist was shoved to the ground by officers.The nation-wide demonstrations on Friday also focused on Breonna Taylor, the Kentucky EMT worker fatally shot in her home during a botched March police raid. On Friday, Taylor would have been 27-years-old. From New York to Portland to Miami, thousands of protesters sang Happy Birthday in Taylor’s honor. In Kentucky, dozens of demonstrators gathered in Jefferson Square Park in Kentucky to honor her memory, many writing birthday cards that will be sent to Taylor’s family.In Miami, hundreds of residents took to the streets in a Black Lives Matter protest, forcing officials to shut down several highways and the mayor to change the city-wide curfew. The Miami Police Department closed Interstate 95 in both directions to allow space for the continued protesters chanting “say their names” near Wynwood. “I think the protests are finally getting politicians and police departments to finally listen. Everyday it's a step forward,”  Ashlynn Lee, 20, told The Daily Beast. Her friend, Tanisha Brown, 20, added: “They are definitely listening to what these protests are about. We are taking not only over the streets in the 50 states and different countries, but also social media. All you see when you scroll down is black lives matter. People are starting to shout it is definitely happening. Everybody is fighting for black lives.”About an hour later, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giminez moved the curfew to 10 p.m., after it was pushed back to midnight earlier this week. Alan, one protester who attended the Miami protests, called the mayor’s decision to bump up the curfew due to “unrest” a “bullshit move.”“If it wasn't about Black Lives Matter and police reform, the protestors would be treated differently. There was no unrest,” Alan said. In Minneapolis, the intersection where Floyd was killed has turned into a constant block party—complete with a stage that hosts speakers, spoken word artists, and rappers. Robin Jackson, 27-year-who lives down the street, told The Daily Beast things are peaceful in the downtown Minneapolis neighborhood, for now. He added that while some Americans are reeling from Floyd’s tragic death, the black community is simply witnessing what they have known for years.“I feel like this is just the acknowledgment among people other than Black people, where they can say, “Ok, maybe they have a point,” Jackson said. “They’re at least acknowledging that something is happening.”The ongoing protests have already sparked police reform in two states. City officials in Minneapolis have agreed to ban police chokeholds while detaining suspects and require officers to intervene when they see unauthorized force used by a colleague. Every Buffalo Cop in Elite Unit Quits to Back Officers Who Shoved Elderly Man to GroundIn California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday ordered the “carotid hold,” a neck restraint move that blocks blood flow to the brain, be removed from police training. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday announced a ban on the police use of tear gas for 30 days as protests are expected to continue in the city. The ban came just hours after three civilian police watchdog groups urged Seattle leaders to ban the violent tactic that public health officials believe may potentially increase the COVID-19 spread. A federal judge in Denver Friday also ruled that police must limit their use of “chemical weapons or projectiles” and a number of other measures of force against protesters, calling the past actions of law enforcement nation-wide “disgusting.”As demonstrators have continued to take to the streets, one medical worker in New York acknowledged that the health care community is concerned about how the protests will ultimately impact the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Obviously it worries us because we’re afraid of a spike in coronavirus cases. We all work at a hospital and we know what that means when that happens,” Sushmitha Echt, an attending physician at Northwell Health, told The Daily Beast. “At the same time, we’re wearing our masks... there are certain things we just have to take a stand for. This is one of those things.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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New York police take seconds to restore reputation for brutality
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 05, 2020
“Driving vehicles into protesters demanding justice for George Floyd earned the backing of the mayor, but of few others * George Floyd killing – latest US updates * See all our George Floyd coverageIt doesn’t take long to blow up a reputation. In the case of the New York police department, an institution with an already troubled history, the clip lasted all of 27 seconds.It showed an NYPD vehicle in Brooklyn lined up against a metal barricade behind which protesters were chanting during Saturday’s demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd. Projectiles were thrown on to the roof of the car, then suddenly a second police SUV drew up alongside and instead of stopping continued to plough straight into the crowd.Seconds later the first vehicle lurched forward, knocking the barrier over and with it propelling several protesters to the ground amid a harrowing chorus of shrieking.A 27-second video, now viewed more than 30m times, had quickly shredded years of effort to repair the deeply tarnished image of the NYPD. New York’s “finest” were firmly cast in a role normally reserved for the security corps of petty dictators.The shocking video was compounded hours later when the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, spoke about the incident. A politician who won election in 2013 largely on a promise to reform the NYPD and scrap its racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy, astounded even his closest supporters when he defended the police.De Blasio said: “I do believe the NYPD has acted appropriately.”Social media lit up. Was it appropriate to drive those two SUVs into the crowd? Was it appropriate for an NYPD officer forcibly to remove the coronavirus mask of a black protester whose arms were raised in the air, then pepper-spray his face?Was it appropriate for another officer to tell a protester to get off the street, then physically shove her several feet towards the curb where she landed on her head? Or that the police officers involved in the pepper spray incident had covered their badge numbers, presumably to avoid having to answer for their actions. Or to beat a nurse walking home from a shift at a hospital?The clashes between New York’s police and its protesters have reverberated around the city. The largest police force in the US, with its $5.6bn annual budget and 36,000 uniformed officers under the leadership of one of the most progressive mayors in the country, has responded to demonstrations about police brutality with more police brutality.The Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the city council, which makes up more than half of the legislative body, was swift and devastating in its criticism. In a statement, it said that the NYPD had acted “with aggression towards New Yorkers who vigorously and vociferously but nonetheless peacefully advocated for justice”.Adrienne Adams, co-chair of the caucus, told the Guardian the NYPD had tried to suppress legitimate anger felt by African American and other minority communities following years of police abuse. “We cannot allow people who have kept people of color down for decades to say now that we don’t have the right to display our outrage,” she said.Though that sentiment applies nationwide, Adams believes New York stands out as having a “horrible history of police brutality”. It was the NYPD that set the tone, she said, when Daniel Pantaleo, the officer implicated in the 2014 death by chokehold of Eric Garner in Staten Island, avoided prosecution.“When nothing happened to the police officers who were responsible for the death of Eric Garner, New York set the blueprint for what happened to George Floyd,” she said. “There’s no penalty, no consequence, so it’s OK.”Adams’s framing of the Garner killing could equally be applied to a long string of notorious episodes of police misconduct that preceded it. In 1997, Haitian immigrant Abner Louima was handcuffed by an NYPD officer and sexually assaulted with a broken broomstick.Two years later, Amadou Diallo was shot near his home in a hail of 41 bullets after officers mistook his wallet for a gun. In an echo of that event, an unarmed Sean Bell was shot 50 times in Queens on the morning of his wedding in 2006 – it took six years for the NYPD detective who opened the fusillade to be chucked off the force while nobody has ever been convicted of any crime.In the policing of protest, the NYPD also has a contentious track record. In 2004 it rounded up more than 1,800 peaceful protesters rallying outside the Republican National Convention during the re-election bid of George W Bush and herded them into overcrowded pens on Pier 57 in Manhattan. In 2011 it was similarly criticized for heavy-handed tactics during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.Cutting across all this, the force has consistently targeted its efforts on neighborhoods of the city with majority black or Latino populations, straying at times into overt racial profiling. Though stop and frisk has been reined back in recent years, the NYPD continues to heavily and disproportionately police those communities despite a historically low homicide rate.Despite this long legacy of overreach, the force continues to be systemically resistant to public oversight. Under Section 50-A of New York state law, the disciplinary files of police officers are largely held in secret, making the task of holding them accountable almost impossible.Jennvine Wong, a staff attorney at the Cop Accountability Project (CAP) within the Legal Aid Society, told the Guardian that there were currently more than 200 police officers still being employed by the NYPD on full pay who should have been considered for termination following reports of misconduct.Data collected by CAP shows that where cases of misconduct arise they often involve escalation of low-level encounters into aggressive confrontations – something officers are supposed to be trained not to do. The project is currently litigating the case of Tomas Medina who was put in a chokehold and Tasered in 2018 after police were called to a complaint about loud music being played.Eric Garner’s fatal arrest was triggered by him allegedly selling single cigarettes.Although the use of chokeholds has been banned in New York, the project has found that between 2015 and 2018 the city settled 30 lawsuits involving NYPD use of the potentially lethal maneuver.Wong believes such endemic deployment of excessive force has spilled over into the NYPD’s handling of the George Floyd protests. She was present at a peaceful protest in Brooklyn that suddenly turned volatile not because of the behavior of protesters but by a sudden change of tack on the part of the police.“In a split second, the NYPD snapped and engaged in over-aggressive enforcement. They escalated it from 0 to 10 out of nowhere, arresting people and wielding their batons.”If there has been unrestrained use of batons in the city, it would be with the full approval of Ed Mullins, the provocative president of one of the main police unions, the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). He wrote to members urging “each and every one of you to report for duty with your helmet and baton and do not hesitate to utilize that equipment in securing your personal safety”.The sister Police Benevolent Association of New York City has also spoken to its members in inflammatory terms about them being “under attack by violent, organized terrorists while New York City council and other politicians sit at home demanding we ‘de-escalate’”.There is no denying that the NYPD faces difficult challenges in the policing of mass protests, especially late at night when violent outbreaks have erupted as they did on Monday in Manhattan and the Bronx. Fires were started in the street and stores looted.For Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor in Brooklyn and Queens who is now a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Monday night’s spectacle of looting along Fifth Avenue amounted to a collapse of policing in the city.“This weekend, the job of police officer in New York became officially impossible when the police abolitionists won. They have created a model of zero tolerance towards force being used and any injuries being inflicted, and that’s absurd.”O’Donnell said the same pattern is repeating itself across America. “In city after city, the police were abolished this weekend. They stood back and watched as damage was inflicted that was irreversible.””
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George Washington University Law School Faculty Tried To Get Bill Barr’s Honorary Degree Revoked
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 04, 2020
“Faculty members at George Washington University Law School pushed this week for the school to rescind the honorary degree it had bestowed upon alumnus Bill Barr following the Attorney General’s efforts to clamp down on protests in the nation’s capital, sources tell The Daily Beast. The push, which one source described as “serious,” was met by opposition from other members who argued that Barr’s actions—while aggressive and controversial—did not merit such a punishment from the university. For now, it appears Barr will keep his degree, amid warnings that it could send the university down a slippery slope of politically motivated degree-rescinding.Nevertheless, the angst among the law school’s faculty is yet another data point underscoring how much of a pariah Barr has become in establishment circles and how appalled those circles, and others well beyond it, have been with the Trump administration’s handling of the protests. A spokesperson for the law school confirmed the conversations around Barr’s degree. The office of the law school’s interim dean, Christopher A. Bracey, declined to comment. However, in a letter to students, Bracey wrote, “We cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening within our country, its impact upon our community members, or its connection to the multi-generational arc of justice that shaped our nation’s history. We must take this moment to engage–if not in protest, then in solidarity with the notion that we must preserve and protect the right to protest as an essential constitutional right that dates back to the founding of our nation.”Barr took credit for the decision on Monday night to have a variety of law enforcement officials forcibly move protesters who had gathered near the White House to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and systemic racism in the criminal justice system writ large. The result was a chaotic scene, in which chemical irritants and flash-bang grenades were launched into the crowd and police used bicycles and horses to push back protesters. Later in the night, military helicopters were flown low over the remaining protesters as another means of dispersing them. Bill Barr Takes Charge of Trump’s Crackdown as the Military Tries to Back AwayBarr, who stood outside the White House surveying the scene right before police moved in on the crowd, has defended his order. On Thursday, he told reporters that he had wanted to extend the security perimeter one more block around the White House and that the protesters had grown “unruly” and had been asked “three times” to move back. But the preponderance of evidence—from real time video, to on-the-ground-reporting, to contemporaneous recollections from the protesters themselves—shows a peaceful crowd, there before the city-wide curfew began, being subjected to physical harm for the purposes of clearing a path for President Donald Trump to have a photo op at a nearby church. Since that photo op, several prominent political figures and retired military officials have condemned the administration for resorting to a proto-military state posture in order to trample on constitutionally-protected rights to assemble. Among some members of the faculty at George Washington Law School, the anger was particularly acute owing to Barr’s ties to the institution. Barr received his JD from the school in 1977 and was awarded an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws in 1992, during his first stint as Attorney General. Additionally, there is a “William P. Barr Dean’s Suite” at the school that, according to the alumni magazine, “welcomes students and visitors into” one of its buildings on 20th street in Northwest Washington, D.C.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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Share Your 2020 College Application Essays
by NYT > Education
Jun 04, 2020
“Did you apply for undergraduate admission for the fall 2020 semester? Did you write an essay about money, work or social class? We’d like to read it and perhaps publish it.”
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What Will College Be Like in the Fall?
by NYT > Education
Jun 04, 2020
“Administrators, professors, a union representative and students consider the new realities of life on campus in the midst of a pandemic.”
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How to Normalize the College Search Process for Juniors
by NYT > Education
Jun 03, 2020
“The class of 2021 is missing spring grades, ACT and SAT scores and the chance to take campus tours. Here’s expert advice on what to do.”
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Fears grow of US coronavirus surge from George Floyd protests
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 02, 2020
“* Demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks * Trump under fire as violence flares across America * George Floyd protests: live coverageEven as all US states continue further phased reopening of businesses and social movement amid the coronavirus pandemic, governors, mayors and public health officials across the US are raising fears of a surge in cases of Covid-19 arising from escalating protests over the death of George Floyd.Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis a week ago, on Memorial Day, during an arrest by four police officers. The killing focused a fierce light on police brutality towards African Americans, and stoked protest and violence in most major cities.According to figures from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the US has seen nearly 1.8m infections and surpassed 105,000 deaths  in the Covid-19 pandemic. In a country that does not have universal healthcare, the crisis has disproportionately affected minorities, particularly those who live in crowded urban areas.Images of demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks, have therefore alarmed leaders – to the point where some are pleading with those on the streets to protest “the right way”, in order to better protect themselves.On Monday, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, expressed concern about “super spreaders” in the crowds of protesters seen across the state, but especially among throngs in New York City. New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, also urged protesters to maintain social distancing and wear masks.“Obviously we don’t want people in close proximity to each other, we don’t want people out there where they might catch this disease or spread this disease,” he said.Police outside the White House fired teargas at protesters on Monday evening while Donald Trump was holding a press conference inside. Substances such as teargas make people cough, which can spread viruses more easily.“I’m concerned that we had mass gatherings on our streets when we just lifted a stay-at-home order and what that could mean for spikes in coronavirus cases later,” Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, had said on Sunday.“I’m so concerned about it that I’m urging everybody to consider their exposure, if they need to isolate from their family members when they go home and if they need to be tested … because we have worked very hard to blunt the curve.”Bowser said protests in her city, which has seen violence several days in a row at the White House and other areas, were a mixed bag.“While I saw some people with masks last night, others didn’t,” she said. “I saw some people social distancing, other people were right on top of each other. So we don’t want to compound this deadly virus and the impact it’s had on our community.“We’ve been working hard to not have mass gatherings. As a nation, we have to be concerned about rebound.”Bowser’s message was echoed by Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, and by Keisha Lance-Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, who said she was “extremely concerned” about Covid-19 spreading, and that protests had distracted her from dealing with the pandemic.On Saturday, Bottoms said at a press conference: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a Covid test this week.”On Sunday, she told CNN’s State of the Union: “I realised that I hadn’t looked at our coronavirus numbers in two days. And that’s frightening, because it’s a pandemic, and people of color are getting hit harder.“We know what’s already happening in our community with this virus. We’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.”According to the Georgia health department, more African Americans have contracted Covid-19 in the state than any other race.“The question is: how do we do protesting safely?” Dr Ashish Jha, the director of the global health institute at Harvard’s TH Chan school of public health, told CNN. “I think masks are a critical part of it.”In New York, De Blasio said he supported the public’s right to demonstrate peacefully but added that the protests meant an uncertain future.“You have all the frustrations about injustice, combined with the frustrations about the injustice within the pandemic, because the pandemic displayed immense disparity combined with the fact that people spent two months cooped up indoors,” he said.“We don’t know what the summer brings.”Dr Theodore Long, leading the city’s contact tracing strategy, offered advice.“We strongly encourage anybody who is out in the protests to wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene and to the extent possible, socially distance, though we know that’s not always going to be feasible,” he said.”
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Iranian 'spy' scientist flies home after release from US prison, raising hopes of prisoner swap
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 02, 2020
“The families of British dual nationals imprisoned by Iran today criticised the Foreign Office for “complete inaction” in trying to secure their release, as an Iranian scientist previously jailed by the US was allowed to fly home. A plane carrying Sirous Asgari took off early this morning and was on its way back to Tehran to bring him home, Iran’s foreign minister announced, raising hopes of a potential prisoner swap for Western dual nationals in Iran. Mr Asgari was accused by a US court in 2016 of stealing trade secrets while on an academic visit to Ohio, where he visited a university working on projects for the US Navy. However, the 59-year-old scientist from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, was acquitted in November when an American judge dismissed the case against him. Several British, US and other dual nationals remain imprisoned or on temporary release in Iran, typically on controversial charges of espionage. They include British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, jailed in 2016, and retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, 66, who has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since August 2017. Both the US Department of Homeland Security and the Iranian Foreign Ministry today denied reports that Mr Asgari’s release was part of a prisoner swap, but such arrangements have been made in the past, despite the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran.”
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2 Atlanta police officers were fired and 3 were placed on desk duty for their use of force in arresting 2 college students during a Saturday night protest
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter, who were both members of the department's fugitive unit, were terminated from the Atlanta Police Department.”
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UK taxpayers may be funding research for China’s defence project
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“Experts fear British taxpayers could inadvertently be contributing to funding the Chinese defence programme, after millions of pounds of public funds were poured into technology research undertaken in collaboration with controversial Chinese universities known for their military links. The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council distributed more than £6.5 million to British universities including Manchester for technology studies that were undertaken with these controversial Chinese institutions, according to disclosures on academic papers. While the research programmes focused on technologies that could be used for civilian purposes, experts have warned that they also have the potential to be used for military applications, prompting fears that taxpayer-funded research by British universities could be exploited by Beijing. In two cases, researchers even stated on their grant application forms that the technologies they were looking at could have “both civilian and military applications” or be used for “military controlling”. The disclosure comes days after The Telegraph revealed that Huawei has also backed a string of research projects linking British universities with Chinese defence institutions, which focused on these so-called “dual use” technologies. Huawei denies any wrongdoing. Experts have now warned that the studies funded by the EPSRC may be part of a worrying pattern of partnerships between British universities and Chinese universities that are known for their strong military ties – and that they could be used to fuel both China’s controversial surveillance regime and its declared ambition to become the world’s most powerful military force by 2049. On Sunday night, Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith said the collaborations were “tantamount to transfer of technologies to the Chinese government” and accused the EPSRC and British universities of “living in a naïve world”. “You cannot say that there is any [Chinese] institution that is safe from the reach of that government… If they take technology as part of a market position, they can use it for other things.” His warning comes as Beijing faces growing international hostility over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and attempts to crush dissent in Hong Kong. The EPSRC defended the payments. Executive chairwoman Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “These grants were fully consistent with government policy. All UK funding was directed to fund research by UK universities.” A spokesman added that it allocates funding to research projects rather than individual papers “through the lens of the quality of academic research”, and that it is for individual universities to decide who they work with as long as there is no legal breach and the other universities cover their own costs. A Telegraph investigation identified seven papers that were undertaken by British institutions in partnership with Chinese universities, as part of research programmes that accessed EPSRC grants totalling £6,637,875. The funding body is one of nine organisations that make up UK Research and Innovation, which states on its website that it is “principally funded” by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Two of the papers were co-authored by researchers at China's so-called "Seven Sons of National Defence", universities tasked with developing China's defence programme, and six were undertaken with the in-house academy for the People's Liberation Army. Of the money dished out by the EPSRC, £305,891 went to the University of Manchester for research it undertook with Beihang University – an institution sanctioned by America for its work on rockets and drones. The grant application to EPSRC boasted that it would could be used for “environmental monitoring or military controlling". A spokesman for the University of Manchester said: “We carry out due diligence on all research collaborations and we have clear ethical and intellectual property polices and guidelines which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts.” Six of the papers were also funded by Huawei, and the remaining one was worked on by its researchers. The company has insisted that they all focused on “common areas of research for telecoms equipment suppliers”, and that it has strict rules to ensure the research it backs is not used for military purposes. “We do not conduct military research either directly, or indirectly, nor do we work on military or intelligence projects for the Chinese government or any other government,” a spokesman said.”
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Thousands of Complaints Do Little to Change Police Ways
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“In nearly two decades with the Minneapolis Police Department, Derek Chauvin faced at least 17 misconduct complaints, none of which derailed his career.Over the years, civilian review boards came and went, and a federal review recommended that the troubled department improve its system for flagging problematic officers.All the while, Chauvin tussled with a man before firing two shots, critically wounding him. He was admonished for using derogatory language and a demeaning tone with the public. He was named in a brutality lawsuit. But he received no discipline other than two letters of reprimand.It was not until Chauvin, 44, was seen in a video with his left knee pinned to the neck of a black man, prone for nearly nine minutes and pleading for relief, that the officer, who is white, was suspended, fired and then, on Friday, charged with murder.His case is not unusual. Critics say the department, despite its long history of accusations of abuse, never fully put in place federal recommendations to overhaul the way in which it tracks complaints and punishes officers -- with just a handful over the years facing termination or severe punishment.Even as outrage has mounted over deaths at the hands of the police, it remains notoriously difficult in the United States to hold officers accountable, in part because of the political clout of police unions, the reluctance of investigators, prosecutors and juries to second-guess an officer's split-second decision and the wide latitude the law gives police officers to use force.Police departments themselves have often resisted civilian review or dragged their feet when it comes to overhauling officer disciplinary practices. And even change-oriented police chiefs in cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia -- which over the last few years have been the sites of high-profile deaths of black men by white officers -- have struggled to punish or remove bad actors.The challenge has played out against and reinforced racial divisions in America, with largely white police forces accused of bias and brutality in black, Latino and other minority communities. Floyd's death came just weeks after Ahmaud Arbery, a black man in southeast Georgia, was pursued by three white men and killed, and after Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was fatally shot by police in Kentucky.Their deaths have unleashed a wave of tremendous protests across the country, extending far beyond Minneapolis on Friday, with protesters destroying police vehicles in Atlanta and New York, and blocking major streets in San Jose, California, and Detroit -- all cities that have wrestled with accusations of police misconduct.In Minneapolis, authorities took quick action against Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd's death, firing them one day after a graphic video emerged of the encounter. But that does not mean the officers are gone for good. Public employees can appeal their dismissals -- and in scores of cases across the country, the officers often win.The St. Paul Pioneer Press analyzed five years' worth of such appeals and found that between 2014 and 2019, Minnesota arbitrators -- a group that hears a range of public service complaints -- ruled in favor of terminated law enforcement and correction officers 46% of the time, reinstating them.In three terminations involving law enforcement officers that were reviewed this year, two were overturned.Dave Bicking, a board member of Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin Cities advocacy group, said many disciplinary actions are overturned because they are compared to previous cases, making it hard for departments to reverse a history of leniency or respond to changing community expectations."Because the department has never disciplined anybody, for anything, when they try to do it now, it's considered arbitrary and capricious," he said.Bicking described a history of attempts to clean up the Minneapolis police force, which is overwhelmingly white and for decades has faced accusations of excessive force, especially by African American residents.In Minneapolis, a city heralded for its progressive politics, pretty parks and robust employment, the racial divide runs deep. From education to wages, African Americans are at a disadvantage, graduating at much lower rates and earning about one-third less than white residents.And while black residents account for about 20% of the city's population, police department data shows they are more likely to be pulled over, arrested and have force used against them than white residents. And black people accounted for more than 60% of the victims in Minneapolis police shootings from late 2009 through May 2019, data shows.When there was a civilian review board to field the complaints, it would recommend discipline, but the police chief at the time would often refuse to impose it, said Bicking, who served on the board.Across the country, civilian review boards -- generally composed of members of the public -- have been notoriously weak. They gather accounts, but cannot enforce any recommendations.In 2008, the Police Executive Research Forum issued a report on disciplinary procedures in Minneapolis, at the department's behest. It recommended resetting expectations with a new, matrix specifying violations and consequences. But Bicking said the department soon fell back to old ways.In 2012, the civilian board in Minneapolis was replaced by an agency called the Office of Police Conduct Review. Since then, more than 2,600 misconduct complaints have been filed by members of the public, but only 12 have resulted in an officer being disciplined, Bicking said. The most severe censure has been a 40-hour suspension, he said."When we say there's a failure of accountability and discipline in this city, it is extreme," he said, adding that the City Council had promised to review the board, but has yet to do so.Any member of the public may file a complaint, and experts say that the volume of complaints may reflect a host of issues other than actual misconduct, such as the level of trust the community has in its department.Maria Haberfeld, an expert on police training and discipline at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said Chauvin's complaint tally averaged to less than one a year, not unusual for a street officer, and probably not high enough to trigger an early warning system.But the patchwork nature of the city's disciplinary tracking was clear in Chauvin's case. The city released an Internal Affairs summary with 17 complaints. The city's police conduct database listed only 12, some of which did not appear to be included in the summary, and Communities United Against Police Brutality, which also maintains a database, had yet more complaint numbers not included in the first two sources.The nature of the complaints was not disclosed.Chauvin was one of four officers who responded to a call on Memorial Day that a man had tried buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. The other officers, identified by authorities as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, also were fired and remain under investigation. The county attorney said he expected to bring charges, but offered no further details.Neither Lane nor Kueng had misconduct complaints filed against them, according to the department. But Thao faced six in his career and also was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed he and another officer punched, kicked and kneed an African American man, leaving the man with broken teeth and bruises.According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred in early October 2014, when the man, Lamar Ferguson, then 26, was walking home with his girlfriend. A police car approached and Ferguson's girlfriend kept walking.The lawsuit states that Thao asked Ferguson to put his hands on the roof of the car and then handcuffed him. The complaint said that the other officer then "falsely stated there was a warrant out" for Ferguson's arrest regarding an incident involving family members. Ferguson told the officers he had no information to tell them.During the encounter, "Officer Thao then threw" Ferguson, "handcuffed, to the ground and began hitting him."Patrick R. Burns, one of the lawyers who represented Ferguson, said in an interview Friday that the city settled the case for $25,000."What I learned from that case and several others I have handled against the department is that some of the officers think they don't have to abide by their own training and rules when dealing with the public," he said.The head of the police union, Lt. Bob Kroll, is himself the subject of at least 29 complaints. Three resulted in discipline, The Star Tribune reported in 2015. Kroll was accused of using excessive force and racial slurs, in a case that was dismissed, and was named in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought in 2007 by several officers, including the man who is now the police chief.Teresa Nelson, legal director for the ACLU of Minnesota, said attempts by the city's police leaders to reform the department's culture have been undermined by Kroll, who she said downplays complaints and works to reinstate officers who are fired, no matter the reason.She said that in a 2015 meeting after a fatal police shooting, Kroll told her that he views community complaints like fouls in basketball. "He told me, 'If you're not getting any fouls, you're not working hard enough,'" she said.Kroll did not return several messages seeking comment this week.Changing department policies and culture can take years, even when there is a will to do so.In 2009, the Minneapolis department instituted an Early Intervention System to track red flags such as misconduct allegations, vehicle pursuits, use of force and discharge of weapons. Such systems are supposed to identify "potential personnel problems" before they become threats to public trust or generate costly civil rights lawsuits.In a case similar to the death of Floyd, David Cornelius Smith, a black man with mental illness, died in 2010 after two officers trying to subdue him held him prone for nearly four minutes. The chief at the time defended the officers, and they were never disciplined, said Robert Bennett, a lawyer who represented Smith's family.In 2013, the police chief at the time, Janee Harteau, asked the Department of Justice to review the department's warning system. A federal report found that it had "systemic challenges" and questioned its ability to "create sustainable behavior change."Early warning systems are considered a key part of righting troubled departments, criminologists say. Most cities that have been found to have a pattern of civil rights violations and placed under a federal consent decree, or improvement plan, are required to have one.Harteau, who left the top post in the wake of a 2017 fatal police shooting, said she took many steps to reform the department, including training officers on implicit bias and mandating the use of body cameras. But the police union, she said, fought her at every turn.In 2016, the department updated its use of force policy to hold officers accountable for intervening if they see their fellow officers using excessive force, Nelson said.The new policy, made in the wake of previous fatal shootings, was part of an effort to reform police culture in the city."It's why you saw four officers fired," in Floyd's case, she said.It's not clear whether an improved early warning system would have flagged Chauvin, who also had been involved in at least three shootings in his career, or the other officers involved in Floyd's death. Departments choose from a number of bench marks, and from a range of responses when they are exceeded.Haberfeld, the training expert, said police departments will not change until they invest significantly more in recruitment and training, areas where the U.S. lags far behind other democracies.Otherwise, she said, "There is a scandal, there is a call for reform -- committees and commissions and nothing happens. Nothing."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company”
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Double murder suspect arrested after multistate manhunt
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 29, 2020
“The manhunt for the 23-year-old college senior had spanned Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.”
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Falling Into the Gap Year
by NYT > Education
May 29, 2020
“With next semester a question mark, more graduating high school seniors are considering deferring college. But what will they do instead?”
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Home by Thanksgiving: An emerging strategy to reopen college campuses in the fall
by Local Education
May 28, 2020
“Some schools are pushing aggressive plans to bring students back. Others are taking it more slowly.”
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College students count on their schools for mental-health help, but now many can’t get it
by Local Education
May 28, 2020
“Cross-state licensing and other issues make accessing therapy hard for students stuck at home.”
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Cheered by Private Schools, DeVos Demands Public Education Shares Pandemic Aid
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 27, 2020
“WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, defiant amid criticism that she is using the coronavirus pandemic to pursue a long-sought agenda, said she will force public school districts to share a large portion of federal rescue funding with private school students, regardless of income.DeVos announced the measure in a letter to the Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents state education chiefs, defending her position on how education funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, should be spent."The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers and families," DeVos wrote in the letter Friday. "There is nothing in the act suggesting Congress intended to discriminate between children based on public or nonpublic school attendance, as you seem to do. The virus affects everyone."A range of education officials say DeVos' guidance would divert millions of dollars away from disadvantaged students and force districts starved of tax revenues during an economic crisis to support even the wealthiest private schools. The association representing the nation's schools superintendents told districts to ignore the guidance, and at least two states -- Indiana and Maine -- said they would.DeVos accused the state education chiefs of having a "reflex to share as little as possible with students and teachers outside of their control" and said she would draft a rule codifying her position to "resolve any issues in plenty of time for the next school year." The proposed rule would need to go through a public comment process before it could take effect.Private school leaders​​​, who serve about 5.7 million of the nation's children, say they too are in crisis. Enrollment and tuition revenues are plunging along with philanthropic donations and church collections that help some religious schools operate. Many of those schools serve low-income students whose parents have fled failing public schools. Private school groups say 30% of ​the​ families​ they serve have​ annual incomes below $75,000, and those families are most at risk without federal aid. ​"I don't understand why we have to pick winners and losers when everything we're asking for is targeted at helping children and families," said Jennifer Daniels, associate director for public policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.Under federal education law, school districts are required to use funding intended for their poorest students to provide "equitable services," such as tutoring and transportation, for low-income students attending private schools in their districts. But DeVos maintains the coronavirus rescue law does not limit funding to just poor students, and her guidance would award private schools more services than the law would normally require.Last week, leaders from education committees in the House and Senate, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said DeVos' interpretation was flawed.Democratic leaders called on DeVos to revise her guidance, which they said would "repurpose hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for public school students to provide services for private school students, in contravention of both the plain reading of the statute and the intent of Congress."Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said the organization believed the secretary's guidance "could significantly harm the vulnerable students who were intended to benefit the most from the critical federal COVID-19 education relief funds Congress has provided."DeVos has been unabashed in her use of coronavirus funding to further her decadeslong effort to divert public dollars to private and parochial schools. In a radio interview last week, first reported by Chalkbeat, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, asked DeVos if she was "utilizing this particular crisis to ensure that justice is finally done to our kids and the parents who choose to send them to faith-based schools." She responded, "Absolutely."In her letter, DeVos said "a growing list of nonpublic schools have announced they will not be able to reopen, and these school closures are concentrated in low-income and middle-class communities."At least 26 schools, the vast majority of them Catholic, have announced closures caused by or attributed to the pandemic, according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian research organization that is tracking such announcements. The National Catholic Educational Association said that at least 100 of its member schools are at risk of not reopening. More than 40 groups that support private schools wrote to House and Senate leaders this month asking for tuition aid, tax credits for families and other measures to prevent "massive nonpublic school closures."Leaders in some religious communities say they cannot fall back on public education."It is unthinkable for us not to give our children a Jewish education, in the same way it is unthinkable for us not to keep the Sabbath or the kosher dietary laws -- it is fundamental to Jewish life," said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president for federal affairs at Agudath Israel of America, one of the groups that signed the letter.Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, announced it would close 10 schools. ​While the organization said a plan to consolidate had already been underway, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of Newark, ​wrote in a letter to the community that​ "this historical moment presents crucial challenges to the sustainability and ongoing success of our schools."Among the closed schools was Cristo Rey Newark High School, part of a network of 37 Catholic college-preparatory schools across the country that exclusively serves low-income students."My concern is that people are painting this with a very large brush stroke that's based on an assumption that Catholic and private means fancy and expensive, and that is not the case," said Elizabeth Goettl, president of the Cristo Rey Network.Ninety-eight percent of the network's 12,000 students are students of color, and all of them are from financially disadvantaged families, Goettl said. Only 10% of the schools' operational revenue comes from tuition, and every family pays what they can on a sliding scale, on average about $900 a year, though some pay as little as $20 a month.Fifty percent of the school's operational revenue comes from a corporate work-study program that could be affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic. Companies employ students in entry-level jobs, and students assign their wages to their tuition."They're literally earning their education at age 14, which is remarkable in itself," she said. "For the federal government to say we're not going to help your kids sanitize, or do whatever COVID-related things that need to be done, seems reprehensible."A recently passed House bill would limit private schools from accessing any new emergency relief funding, including equitable services. But private school leaders have launched an aggressive campaign to lobby Congress and the White House."When all is said and done, people are going to try to do the right thing and not try to pick which students we're not going to keep safe," said Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Council for American Private Education.Private school groups lobbying Congress say that mass closures would also hurt public schools. If 20% of private school students have to be absorbed into the public school system, it would cost the public system roughly $15 billion, according to estimates from those groups.Public school groups said that the argument proves their point."I think it's more proof that we need to be focused on public education, because if public education is not fully funded, there is no fallback," said Maggie Garrett, co-chairwoman of the National Coalition for Public Education, which represents more than 50 national organizations that oppose private school vouchers.Ruth Arias, an Amazon warehouse worker and single mother of five in New York City, said moving her children back to their neighborhood school would mean taking them "out of a place where they feel their best and putting them into a school system where they fall apart."With the help of an organization called the Children's Scholarship Fund, Arias said she enrolled her children in a private Christian school to "believe in something better."Arias was battling the coronavirus last month when she saw that the city's Department of Education would help students get iPads for remote learning.Having only one computer and a cellphone for her children to share, she was relieved -- until she was told her children's private schooling made them ineligible."I honestly had one thought," she said, "which I had a lot when I was dealing with the public school system: Are you kidding me?"This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company”
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With most campuses closed, Forest School enjoys its moment in the woods
by Local Education
May 27, 2020
““More and more parents are screaming for alternatives,” the school’s director said.”
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Construction at 22nd, I streets intersection to start next month
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 13, 2020
“Renovations at the intersection of 22nd and I streets will move forward early next month, according to an email sent to community members Friday.
Construction at the intersection in front of Whole Foods will begin by late June or early July and will last “approximately” six weeks, according to the email. Boston Properties, a real estate company, will finance the project, which will install additional crosswalks, wheelchair ramps and streetlights to the intersection – upgrades part of the ongoing construction project on the building complex at 2100 Pennsylvania Ave.
“On-site personnel” will shift traffic lanes at the intersection to maintain access to the GW Hospital and other nearby medical facilities during the construction period, according to the email. The email states the D.C. Zoning Commission approved the intersection’s renovation as part of the 2100 Penn project, which began last year after Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz  signed a lease to Boston Properties to construct a new office building at the site.
The email states work at the site of 2100 Penn has progressed despite non-essential business closures and a two-month stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All work continues on site without interruption from COVID-19, but this situation could change if there are government-imposed stop work orders or if construction companies decide to suspend work,” the email states.
The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted last month to extend the after-hours permit of Boston Properties after they paused construction work because D.C. Water, the city’s utility service, stalled site inspections during the pandemic. The permit allows Boston Properties to continue its utility work on I Street from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. through the end of July, allowing workers to complete the 2100 Penn project by the time students would return to campus in late August.
The email states the utility work following D.C. Water’s delay will resume June 15 during the day and will move to the 7 pm. to 3 a.m. “after hours” time slot starting the week of June 22 to avoid traffic congestion. Students living in District House and Lafayette Hall will lose access to water for several late-night hours in mid-July because of the utility work, the email states.
Construction workers will also install a tower crane at the site in mid-July, which could prompt them to close off the 2100 block of I Street, according to the email.”

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Former men’s basketball head coach lands at George Mason
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 12, 2020
“Former head men’s basketball coach Maurice Joseph will return to the Atlantic 10 as an assistant coach for George Mason, according to a tweet from college basketball insider Jon Rothstein.
Joseph served as the head coach of the men’s basketball program for three seasons, starting as an interim head coach in 2016 after former head coach Mike Lonergan was fired . The University relieved Joseph of his duties at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.
After he was let go, Joseph served as an assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson, helping the Knights to a 11-19 record and a .500 conference win percentage.
Joseph joined GW as the assistant director of basketball operations under Lonergan in 2011. After five seasons on the coaching staff, GW tabbed Joseph as Lonergan’s replacement.
Joseph led the Colonials to a 20-15 overall record his first year at the helm, earning the team an invite to the College Basketball Invitational. The squad wrapped its postseason run in the semifinals of the tournament.
The Colonials began trending downward in Joseph’s second season, finishing the year 15-18 – the team’s first losing record in five seasons – and with seven A-10 wins. His GW tenure ended a year later when his team put together its worst season in more than a decade. The squad won just nine games, four of which came in conference play.
George Mason finished the season 17-15 overall but won just five A-10 match ups. The Colonials topped the Patriots in both meetings this season.”

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Judge partially dismisses GW complaint against UHS
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 12, 2020
“A D.C. Superior Court judge partially dismissed a lawsuit Monday the University and Medical Faculty Associates brought against the majority owner of the GW Hospital.
The lawsuit, filed in the D.C. Superior Court Dec. 6, alleged that United Health Services did not uphold its agreement to fund GW’s academic medical programs. The case’s judge has dismissed all but one of the claims in the amended complaint, upholding that UHS has an obligation to support the hospital’s “centers of emphasis,” which include several specific clinical programs like emergency medicine and women’s health.
The amended complaint, which was filed in D.C. Superior Court in February, claimed that UHS was retaining funding from the hospital meant for its academic medical programs. The judge also dismissed the University’s claim that UHS did not uphold its commitment to support an integrated health care network and that UHS did not uphold the good faith agreement outlined in its contract.
The order to dismiss the case states that the University’s argument that UHS was not providing adequate academic support could not be concluded from the contract between the entities.
“The court therefore concludes that the plaintiffs have failed to state a cognizable breach of contract claim as to the parties’ alleged failure to make additional academic support payments,” the order to dismiss states.
Barbara Lee Bass, the dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and vice president for health affairs, sent an email to MFA and medical school faculty and staff to notify them that the lawsuit had been partially dismissed.
“We strongly believe that UHS has failed to uphold its financial obligations on investment in development of centers of emphasis in our current agreement,” Bass said in the email. “We appreciate the court’s ruling in this matter and will update you as litigation progresses.”
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal deferred comment to the email Bass sent.
Bass said GW and UHS are planning to mediate the disagreement about the centers of emphasis and are deciding on a date for mediation.
“We are disappointed in this part of the court’s ruling and are evaluating our options, including whether to appeal this ruling at the appropriate time,” she said.
Gary Orseck, the legal counsel for UHS and GW Hospital, said in a statement that the hospital is “pleased” with the court’s dismissal of allegations.
“GW Hospital has lived up to its financial obligations and will continue to do so,” he said in the statement. “GW Hospital is and remains focused on our mission of providing medical care and treatment to our patients at this most critical time.”
An initial scheduling conference for the case’s next hearing was held Thursday, according to D.C. Superior Court records .”

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Confronting issues of race at The Hatchet
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 12, 2020
“In the weeks since the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, the country has mourned and taken to the streets to demand social justice and change. 
To be clear: Black lives matter. The Hatchet aims to be a newspaper that is inviting to writers, photographers and videographers of all backgrounds, and I strive to make 609 21st St. NW a welcoming place for all. But I would be remiss not to speak out at this time, as I know The Hatchet, a 117-year-old institution, can and must do better to cover, include and represent our Black classmates, faculty and administrators.
I am a White woman, and in the time I have been on Hatchet staff, the majority of my colleagues – be they editors, editorial board members or the Board of Directors – have also looked like me. This is a problem – both intrinsically, and also because diversity makes our stories more thorough, comprehensive and inclusive. 
Administrators, local leaders, students and alumni engage with our coverage to stay in tune with GW and Foggy Bottom. When I’m editing, I consider our audience and the stories we have a responsibility to tell. Where I believe our biggest failure in recent history lies is in the stories we have not reported – but had a responsibility to cover. The Hatchet has not earned the trust of many underrepresented communities on campus because we’ve failed to establish strong relationships with them or covered their stories inaccurately, which hinders relationships and therefore our ability to report. 
As this paper’s leader, I know the buck stops with me in taking actions to address this paper’s longstanding trust issue. I will continue to identify and rectify areas where I believe The Hatchet has fallen short with respect to reporting, recruitment and practices. I am working to educate myself about my own privilege and how it affects the way I edit and guide this newspaper and its coverage. We have held and will continue to hold implicit bias training with current staff and new reporters, writers, videographers and photographers and plan to improve recruitment efforts to reach more nonwhite students interested in journalism come fall. 
But most importantly, I will listen – actively and attentively – to feedback. Comments from our community, more often than one might expect, help us shape our policies and practices. Readers interested in offering feedback on – or learning about – any aspect of The Hatchet can reach Managing Editor Parth Kotak and me at eic@gwhatchet.com . We welcome criticism and believe it is necessary to receive when enacting change.
Finally, The Hatchet will contribute 20 percent of every donation made to the institution from now until the start of the fall semester to Street Sense Media, a D.C. publication that lends a voice to some of the most marginalized members of our community. As an independent student newspaper that does not receive University funding, our finances are perennially tight , but we still believe it is necessary to contribute whatever we can in alignment with our values and priorities.
Meanwhile, I encourage our readers to support Black journalists and Black student journalists, both by donating or joining the following local and national organizations and newspapers. 
National Association of Black Journalists and GW’s chapter
Black Press Freedom Fund
DC Black
The Washington Afro-American
The Washington Informer
The Washington Sun
Street Sense Media”

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Metro announces dates for future station shutdowns
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 12, 2020
“Metro announced its construction shutdowns for about the next two years along the Orange, Blue, Silver and Green lines, WJLA reported Thursday.
Between mid-February and mid-May 2021, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will shut down the Arlington Cemetery and Addison Road stations, WJLA reported. Metro will shut down stations at Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville during summer 2021, according to WJLA.
“Metro also plans to shut down every station east of Stadium Armory on the Orange Line in summer 2022 – Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover, New Carrollton,” WJLA reporter Tom Roussey tweeted Thursday.
Metro officials plan to do work at Reagan National Airport between fall 2022 and spring 2023 but don’t plan to completely close the station, WJLA reported. Officials will instead close parts of the station while at least two tracks remain open, Metro officials told WJLA.
Metro officials told WJLA that the dates are not solidified and are subject to change.”

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Submit an op-ed to The Hatchet
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 11, 2020
“The Hatchet is run by students and aims to serve as a voice for the GW and Foggy Bottom communities. While regular writers submit their opinions to the newspaper every week, there are still perspectives that aren’t included in the ranks.
We want to hear from you. If you have an opinion you’d like to share, please submit an op-ed here or email us with your piece at opinions@gwhatchet.com.
When you’re considering a submission, consider the timeliness of your piece and relevance to GW or Foggy Bottom. For example, several recently published pieces have discussed issues like racism , GW’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and fossil fuel divestment . Op-eds are not tools to promote an organization to which you belong but serve to spark or add to campus discussions.
Once your piece is submitted, it will be reviewed by Contributing Opinions Editor Andrew Sugrue, Editor in Chief Sarah Roach and me. The three of us will decide whether to publish the piece and will respond to you within two to three days.
After that, your piece will undergo up to three rounds of edits, during which we comment on your piece with clarifying questions and stylistic changes, following Associated Press and Hatchet rules. Once the final round of edits are completed by the editor in chief, your piece will be sent back to you for approval. If and when you approve, the piece is ready to be published.
This paper belongs to you as much as it belongs to the people who help run it. The Hatchet strives to share stories about the GW community, and the opinions section is dedicated to sharing views that reflect the vastness and diversity of our community.
If you have any questions about the op-ed process, please email me at hthacker@gwhatchet.com or the editor in chief at sroach@gwhatchet.com.
Hannah Thacker, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.”

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Make the most out of this pandemic-wracked summer
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 11, 2020
“This summer is a far cry from the ordinary environment for internships thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of student internships have been canceled . Many internships have become remote to accommodate public health concerns. But facing irregularities in the job market does not mean your resume should be empty this summer. This is the time to innovate and show potential employers that you can make the best of any situation by seeking an alternative to your original plan.
The shortfalls of this summer’s promised jobs provide a new type of opportunity. Students now have the chance to work on a venture of their own. Companies understand the circumstances this moment in history presents, and you can improve your chances to land a job by means other than tacking an internship onto your resume.
Students may be able to leverage their competence in technology to help businesses adapt during the pandemic. As companies gear up for extended work from home, students can aid businesses in navigating their increased reliance online and video conference companies like Zoom, which has seen a 222 percent increase in total login events from the end of February to the end of March. Even doctors are now meeting patients virtually for appointments. Technologically savvy individuals are needed to train workers in the use of these platforms as well as help to support people, like patients, trying to make use of them.
College students can create new, previously nonexistent jobs now that businesses face new social media demands. Food and clothing stores are transitioning online and have the challenge of reaching their customers. Clothing boutiques now need websites to sell their clothes and need help with website design. This younger generation is more aligned with this type of technology than any other. It is time to put those skills to use by offering to make Instagram accounts for restaurants and cafes to advertise their offerings, for example.
Those without jobs can also capitalize on new demand for goods and services driven by the pandemic. The elderly, at greater risk of mortality from COVID-19, are much less capable of fulfilling their needs at the moment. Anyone who can drive can create a business in which they buy groceries for the elderly. Companies are also unable to meet the demand for health supplies. Creating masks out of fabric and making your own hand sanitizer have become profitable as many products are on backorder for weeks.
Jobs in a student’s field of interest are not a priority – right now, you should show employers that you were productive during the summer despite the chaos. Various companies have experienced a surge in their customer demand and need more employees to keep up. More people are going to local hardware, grocery and big-box stores carrying essentials that have become overwhelmingly popular. These stores require more staff to stock shelves and help customers. Additionally, as people remain isolated in their homes, more delivery personnel are required. Students should seek these essential workplaces with the understanding that a job is a job.
The ideal job or internship may not be available during the pandemic, but students can use this time to polish the skills needed to land a job after. About 70 percent of jobs are found through networking, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Yale University, so consider reaching out to your connections to see if they have suggestions for how best you can offer your skills. Online classes also offer another boost to your resume. Getting closer to your degree and taking advantage of this time to focus on learning more is always an option. GW offers several courses over the summer for their students to take while the job market remains sluggish.
Now is the time to be innovative to fill your resume. You could start your own YouTube channel or continue writing for a school publication over the summer. Useful and fulfilling work can be achieved in many ways, and it is the student’s responsibility to find that opportunity.
Jane Cameron, a rising sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication, is a writer.
Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”

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Former athletic director received $1.3 million in severance last year
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 11, 2020
“Former Athletic Director Patrick Nero received $1.3 million in severance payments during the 2019 fiscal year, according to a financial disclosure.
Nero stepped down from his post in December of 2017 and faced allegations of misconduct less than a year later for acting inappropriately with student-athletes, athletic department staff and recent graduates. Employment law experts said receiving severance after resigning is not unusual, but details about how long he could receive payments depend on his employment contract and agreement with GW, which is not made public.
“Analytically, it appears he may have resigned for good reason, and that’s analogous for a termination without just cause,” said Steven Sholk, a lawyer and director in the corporate department of Gibbons P.C. “That would trigger the severance payments.”
Sholk said resigning for good reason typically happens when an employer does not “live up to the obligations” of their contract. He said a good reason for resignation is similar to termination without cause, which allows employment to be cut because the employer is unhappy with their employee’s efforts.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal declined to say how the University determined Nero’s severance payments and how much money the University agreed to pay Nero in severance.
Nosal confirmed that Nero is no longer employed at the University but declined to say whether he was asked to resign.
Nero did not return multiple requests for comment.
GW’s Form 990, an annual disclosure required for organizations claiming tax-exemption status, also indicated that the University paid Nero more than $200,000 in base compensation during FY19.
At the time of Nero’s resignation, athletic department spokespeople said Nero would make himself available in the spring to ease the athletic department’s transition to Tanya Vogel, the current athletic director.
Sholk, a lawyer and director at Gibbons P.C., said the base compensation may be payment for Nero’s consulting, a common stipulation in many severance agreements.
He added that the University may have privately let Nero go, treating his severance payments as a termination without cause, but officials publicly announced his departure as a resignation. But Sholk added that nothing can be determined definitively without examining his contract or severance agreement.
“We really don’t know how it was treated until we see the severance agreement,” Sholk said. “So unless you see the severance agreement, you really don’t know the underlying reasoning why he got the severance payments.”
Rick Rossein, a law professor at City University of New York School of Law, said the base salary may be given as a result of Nero’s contract with the University. He added that Nero could be receiving payments one to five years after he resigned, depending on his contract and severance negotiations.
“There are all kinds of ways severance can be determined, but generally it’s set out pretty specifically in the employment agreement contract,” Rossein said.
Belle Long contributed reporting.”

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Faculty Senate sets additional summer meetings
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 10, 2020
“The Faculty Senate’s executive committee called three additional meetings for the summer, in light of the “numerous” upcoming operational decisions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
University President Thomas LeBlanc called a special meeting of the senate last month during which the body  passed a resolution that gave the executive committee the power to call regular senate meetings outside of the regular monthly meeting “in urgent circumstances.” The meetings will be held on June 19, July 17 and Aug. 14 via WebEx, according to an email Senate Operations Coordinator Liz Carlson sent Tuesday.
The executive committee will also meet separately during the summer, each meeting roughly one to two weeks before each full senate meeting.
Tracking COVID-19
Stay up to date on GW, D.C. news related to the virus. READ MORE”

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GW to seek District's approval for fall plans by early July
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 10, 2020
“Administrators said they are drafting a proposal to D.C. officials for the University’s fall operations in accordance with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s executive order.
Bowser signed an order late last month that began the first phase of the District’s reopening, which directs the D.C. Office of Planning to implement an approval process for colleges’ reopening by July 1. Provost Brian Blake said they will seek approval for GW’s reopening plan by early July.
“The reason we have left some ambiguity in our responses to date is because the nature in which we open campus will be dictated, in no small part, by restrictions opposed by the District,” he said in an email.
Most students will take classes remotely following Thanksgiving, and officials are currently planning to resume in-person classes as originally scheduled on Aug. 31. Administrators are expected to make an announcement on final plans for the fall semester by Monday but may push the date back one week.
Bowser’s ReOpen D.C. Advisory Group recommended that colleges be allowed to reopen once the city enters Phase II – which Bowser said is slated to begin no earlier than June 19 – assuming District officials approve a specific reopening plan for the institution.”

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Medical students resume clinical rotations
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 09, 2020
“About 80 fourth-year medical students in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences resumed clinical rotations Monday, according to a University release Monday.
GW’s clinical enterprise – which includes the Medical Faculty Associates and the GW Hospital – will transition from emergency and COVID-19 care to an “all-service” operation that includes screenings and preventative care, the release states. MFA CEO and medical school Dean Barbara Lee Bass said GW’s medical education model will also change to include instruction on how to safely deliver health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have changed the landscape in which we provide health care, and we’ve really ramped up our game,” Bass said in the release.
GW Hospital officials suspended elective surgeries and rescheduled “non-essential” appointments in March to allocate more resources to patients infected with the virus. Since March, GW’s medical enterprise moved to provide about half of its care over telehealth, and officials plan to continue this form of care to a “large percentage” of patients moving forward, according to the release.
A larger group of students, including the medical Class of 2022 and physician assistant students, will return to campus in late June, according to the release.
Bass said spaces in Ross Hall and public areas in MFA clinics and the GW Hospital have also been modified to ensure social distancing. Officials initially restricted access to Ross Hall to authorized personnel only in March.
“In many respects the clinical enterprise isn’t ‘reopening,’ because it never really closed,” Bass said. “Our faculty are practicing physicians who have been caring for patients at the MFA and GW Hospital and all across the city. The difference is that after 12 weeks of only emergent care and COVID care, we are now ready to do everything else in person.””

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Officials 'won't be able' to avoid layoffs: LeBlanc
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 08, 2020
“University President Thomas LeBlanc said administrators are unable to avoid layoffs “any longer” after officials floated the idea for weeks.
LeBlanc sent an email Thursday to Faculty Association President Andrew Zimmerman, a professor of history and international affairs, saying the GW’s expected revenue shortfalls this coming academic year, projected to range between roughly $80 million and $320 million, necessitate layoffs. Officials will also use guidelines released by the Board of Trustees last month – which include prioritizing health and safety and “prudent” cash management – to make further financial decisions and will not dip into the University’s endowment, he said.
“These are very difficult days for our country and all of higher education,” LeBlanc said in the email. “I hope we can all pull together to offer the best possible educational experience to our students, maintain our core mission of teaching and research and position GW for greater things in the future once this pandemic has passed.”
LeBlanc and other top officials will take a pay cut starting July 1 and freeze all merit salary increases for faculty in staff. Administrators suspended most capital projects and hirings in late March to reduce fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Faculty Senate passed a resolution late last month requesting that layoffs and furloughs only be used as a “last resort.”
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said more information about forthcoming financial decisions will be shared in the “coming weeks.”
“As President LeBlanc indicated in a message to the GW community on May 11, like other universities, we face difficult decisions as we work to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of our University while continuing to achieve GW’s core mission of academics and research,” Nosal said in an email. “University leaders are in the process of determining the path forward, including personnel decisions.”
Nosal declined to confirm that officials plan to implement layoffs. She declined to say if any employees have been laid off as a result of the pandemic thus far and if so, how many employees will be laid off.
She also declined to say how officials will decide which employees will be laid off.
The Faculty Association’s steering committee forwarded LeBlanc’s message to its members, asking them to take “personal action” to resist layoffs. The group encouraged faculty to share their views on layoffs with their colleagues and refuse to “take up any slack” created by layoffs.
“Each of us has a different level of power within the University: some of us have become deans, many of us are chairs and program directors and we are at every rank of full-time regular faculty,” association leaders said in the email. “Most layoffs will require some kind of faculty participation to carry out, and we ask each of you to challenge your comfort level to refuse and resist these layoffs.””

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Law school faculty push to rescind attorney general's law degree
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 08, 2020
“Updated: June 8, 2020 at 10:04 p.m.
GW Law faculty are pushing officials to rescind Attorney General William Barr’s honorary degree, after Barr ordered protesters in front of the White House to be dispersed, Forbes reported  Friday.
Barr told law enforcement last Monday to break up a protest in Lafayette Square to make way for President Donald Trump’s photo op in front of St. John’s Church. He said at a news conference Thursday that the protests over recent events of police brutality were “becoming increasingly unruly,” even though cell phone videos of the demonstration showed otherwise, according to Forbes.
The Daily Beast first reported the effort to rescind Barr’s degree Thursday.
The attorney general, who earned his Juris Doctor from the law school in 1977, was tapped  to serve in the position for a second time two years ago. He received his honorary degree in 1992 during his first stint in the role under former President George H.W. Bush, according to Forbes.
Law school faculty are debating several considerations including whether Barr abused his authority, Forbes reported. To revoke the degree, a decision would have to “be made at the University-level,” according to Forbes.
Law school spokeswoman Liz Field declined to say whether officials are considering rescinding Barr’s degree. She also declined to say how many professors are pressing to revoke his degree and if the professors are engaging in a formalized effort like a petition to rescind the degree, deferring comment to The Daily Beast’s story.
Officials last stripped comedian Bill Cosby of his honorary degree in 2016 after he was charged with sexual assault and allegedly assaulted several other women.”

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Student halts GoFundMe fundraiser for McReynolds
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 04, 2020
“A student launched, then halted a GoFundMe campaign to help McReynold’s Liquors pay for damages after the store was looted during a demonstration late last month.
Senior Kaycee Beardeaux launched the campaign Sunday, raising more than $1,800 for the liquor store just off campus. But Beardeaux said she decided to cancel the fundraiser two days later to “respect the ongoing protests” that follow recent episodes of police violence against black Americans, according to the fundraiser page. 
Many students responded to the fundraiser on the Facebook page Overheard at GW , saying people should be donating to causes directly supporting protesters rather than businesses affected by the protests. Beardeaux said she did not want to divert donations from other bail funds and fundraisers for black individuals circulating on social media. 
Beardeaux added that the fundraiser was intended to support small businesses in cities like D.C. that are in need of criminal justice reform.
“I think you can’t really blame the people that are rioting, you have to blame the circumstances and police brutality,” she said. “I think even though [the protests] are really violent right now, it’s the only way to create real change in this country right now.”
Beardeaux said she mailed all the money to the store before she left to return home to Hawaii. McReynold’s Liquors did not return requests for comment.
Senior Amber Mirza said in addition to donating to bail funds, she donated to the fundraiser because she wanted to alleviate some financial hardship on small businesses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mirza added that she wanted to donate to multiple causes to support people and organizations affected by protests. 
“I just think it’s more useful to spend money on multiple fundraisers and multiple charities because you never know which charity is actually going to make the difference,” Mirza said. “If you support a bunch of them, you can support a bunch of different causes.””

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Vogel, more than a dozen teams condemn and vow to fight racial injustice
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 04, 2020
“Coaches and athletic department officials have released statements over the past week expressing support for black student-athletes and denouncing recent episodes of police brutality.
Athletic Director Tanya Vogel said Monday that her staff has been reflecting on the police killings of three black Americans – Breonna Taylor , Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd – and urged members of the GW athletics community to speak out against racism and push for social justice. More than a dozen athletic programs also condemned recent events of police violence and called on its team members to cultivate a more inclusive space.
“We will take steps forward, together,” Vogel said in a release. “We owe this to the world. We owe it to our students and staff members of color. We owe it to our teammates and friends.”
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee condemned “all acts of police brutality, racism and other acts of discrimination related to race, gender, sexuality and religion” in an Instagram post Wednesday. Members voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement and pushes from the Black Student Union and Black Men’s Initiative to improve the racial climate on campus and students’ relationship with police.
SAAC encouraged student-athletes to utilize their platforms to share resources and petitions responding to recent events of police brutality. The organization added that student-athletes should recognize their biases and fight against racism.
“Reach out to your community and let them know you stand with your black teammates, family and friends,” SAAC said in the statement. “The battle for equality does not stop once the protests end: we must continue to evolve and fight for our fellow athletes and family. Sawubona.”
The men’s basketball team released a video Monday of the coaching staff and players reciting quotes by prominent civil rights activists like Malcom X, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. Athletes said they will use their voice to unite against racial injustice.
Men’s head basketball coach Jamion Christian released a personal statement Saturday reacting to the footage of Floyd’s death as an African American man. He said the country must act better and called on people to enact change.
“We all have breath, and with each breath, we have hope,” Christian said in his statement. “With that breath, we also have the ability to change. What will you do with your breath?”
Women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti responded to Christian’s statement Saturday, vowing to speak up about the “issues that matter” and encourage her athletes to condemn racial injustice. Rizzotti said in the tweet that she will ensure athletes participate in difficult conversations and listen to one another, and she will “take action” by donating and voting.
The women’s basketball program also released a statement Saturday promising to meet as a team and discuss how to use their voices to help influence change.
“We are all hurting, and silence is as harmful as violence,” the team said in a tweet . “We won’t stand for the injustice and racism in our community and our country. We will use our voices and platform to help support and protect each other. Our team is committed to making a difference #BlackLivesMatter.”
The volleyball program wrote in a tweet Saturday it is “committed in continual work, discussions and action” in support of black student-athletes and all people of color on campus. The team also attached a guide from the BSU on how to effectively support black communities.
Head coach Marci Robles responded to a statement from U.S. Rowing, writing in a tweet Wednesday that rowing operates in an “overwhelmingly white space” and all non-black members need to “acknowledge that we’ve played a large role in perpetuating the lack of diversity in our sport.”
She said the organization needs to ensure safety and support for “black athletes, coaches, referees and staff members” and discuss accountability. She added that coaches should examine how they lead within their communities.
“It starts with awareness of how we speak to and about each other, how we speak about our athletes, and how we speak to and about each other,” Robles said in a statement. “It’s on us to educate ourselves on the impact of microaggressions and learn how to effectively disarm them. It is on us to create safe environments where we can have tough but necessary conversations.”
At least 14 other teams and coaches – including men’s rowing ; women’s and men’s soccer; women’s and men’s tennis; lacrosse ; men’s and women’s swimming and diving ; men’s and women’s cross country and track and field ; softball ;  baseball ; and volleyball – spoke out against police brutality and called on its members to condemn racism and fight for racial justice.”

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Lawsuits against GW during pandemic are unwarranted
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 04, 2020
“GW’s switch to online classes has left many students feeling shortchanged by their education. But during a crisis, families should understand that officials are trying their best to help students.
Two lawsuits have been filed against GW so far alleging that students should not have paid for the full spring semester after the switch to online classes. The most recent requests additional compensation following the move online. Two students who filed the lawsuit claimed they should not have paid full tuition for a college experience cut short by COVID-19. But the University can only do so much to financially assist students before it tanks.
Officials have done more than enough to help students financially hurt by COVID-19, paying for their storage and shipping, refunding students for every night they don’t spend in their residence hall and reserving millions in federal funding for students. The lawsuit is not merited given officials’ extensive response to the pandemic – if anything, GW is setting an example for how colleges should aid struggling students through the pandemic.
GW has shown understanding for the economic hardship families face and acknowledged that parents have paid for more than what they expected to receive. Students were refunded a prorated amount of their housing payment for the time they did not live in their residence hall, and dining dollars will roll into the next semester or were reimbursed upon request.
On top of that, GW is doling out funds to students who demonstrate financial need. Officials are   providing emergency funding for housing assistance, food, transportation, income, technology access, medical expenses and other needs.  The University is also giving all of its more than $9 million federal grant to students in need despite facing its own monetary losses. GW has demonstrated a concerted effort to support students with the extra financial resources at its disposal. 
The University has also worked to create a smooth transition from in person to online learning. Resources and support have been offered to students through University libraries and on Blackboard. GW offered ongoing support in learning how to utilize these resources by providing contact numbers and email for technology support. Access to free digital textbooks was also given to students through the GW bookstore, and Gelman Library remained digitally open. Online classes may have not been perfect, but officials were making a sincere effort to provide students with the best education during a public health crisis.
It’s fair that struggling families want additional financial relief from their universities. Many other universities also have pending lawsuits against them pertaining to COVID-19. But universities are going to continue to be burdened by the crisis and need to spend wisely. No school ever expected to give students a subpar college experience and shouldn’t be punished for circumstances that are out of its control.
In this time of uncertainty, we can’t dwell on the spring semester and all its shortcomings. We have faced unprecedented challenges during the switch to online classes and need to continue looking and planning ahead. GW is doing the best it can during unexpected times, and for now, that is enough.
Jane Cameron, a rising sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication, is an opinions writer
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LeBlanc's compensation nears $1.5 million: financial document
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 04, 2020
“University President Thomas LeBlanc received roughly $1.45 million in compensation during fiscal year 2019, according to a new financial disclosure.
Five employees received more than $1 million in compensation as the University’s annual revenues and expenses remained steady, according to a tax document signed last month, which The Hatchet obtained late last month. Twenty-nine college executives’ compensation surpassed LeBlanc’s pay the year prior, according to data compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The Form 990 – an annual disclosure required of organizations claiming tax-exempt status – will mark the second public disclosure of LeBlanc’s salary once the Internal Revenue Service releases the document.
LeBlanc, then-Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Jeffrey Akman, former Athletics Director Patrick Nero, former Executive Vice President Lou Katz and Shahram Sarkani, the director of online programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, were compensated more than $1 million during the fiscal year from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, according to the disclosure. Four employees made more than $1 million in compensation during the previous two fiscal years.
The Board of Trustees’ executive committee, excluding LeBlanc, determines LeBlanc’s compensation and “reviews and approves” his compensation recommendations for other top officials, according to the document. The committee also utilizes an independent compensation consulting firm to make its compensation decisions, which includes a review of executive pay at “comparable” universities, the document states.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal deferred explanation of how LeBlanc’s compensation is determined to information contained within the Form 990.
“In determining the president’s compensation, the committee considers the consultant’s report and market data in addition to the terms of his employment contract,” the disclosure states. “The committee also takes into consideration accomplishments for the current fiscal year as well as goals for the upcoming fiscal year.”
Nosal said LeBlanc’s compensation included $81,119 in housing value for his on-campus residence, which is treated as a nontaxable benefit, according to the disclosure.
She said Sarkani is compensated based on the gross revenues of the engineering management and systems engineering department’s off-campus educational program.
Nero, who announced his resignation in December 2017 and later came under fire following allegations of misconduct, received a severance payment of $1.32 million, the Form 990 states.
The document also marks the first public disclosure of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz’s compensation, which totaled $650,788 during his first 11 months at GW. Forrest Maltzman, who stepped down as provost last year, received $671,872 in compensation during his final full year in the role, the document states.
Students paid a total of roughly $1.11 billion in tuition and fees during the fiscal year, an increase of roughly $40 million from the prior year, according to the document.
Employee compensation totaled nearly $686 million during the fiscal year, the document states. Officials have warned that they may need to furlough or layoff some employees as GW faces a projected revenue shortfall of between roughly $100 million and $300 million next fiscal year.”

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Best and worst from this week's headlines
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 04, 2020
“As dozens of protests erupt across the country during a global health crisis, it’s safe to say we’re living in uncertain times.
Thousands have rightfully taken to D.C.’s streets to express their frustration and anger with police brutality following the murder of George Floyd. But officials recently released a misleading decision on fall classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines.
Thumbs up:
Demonstrators marched through D.C. and campus over the past few days, drawing attention to police brutality and the number of black Americans who were killed by police in recent months. The protests are a symbol for the country that we will fight for social justice in the nation’s capital for as long as it takes.
Protesters are marching to urge justice for Floyd , who died last Monday after a Minneapolis Police Department officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, Breonna Taylor , shot by a Louisville Metro Police Department officer in her home, and Ahmaud Arbery , killed by two white men in Georgia while jogging in late February.
These protests are giving voice to the voiceless and demonstrating to U.S. leaders that citizens are tired and upset by the countless deaths of black Americans by police. Everybody, regardless of race, is united against police violence and an unfair criminal justice system.
Protesters are marching for the basic human rights of all black Americans in the United States. They are the very best of all of us and represent the spirit of our country.
Thumbs down:
While many are relieved to hear some news from the University regarding the fall semester, the announcement that students will end the semester online after Thanksgiving is not helpful.
The news is misleading given that the University hasn’t decided if we will return in the first place. University President Thomas LeBlanc and other officials are hopeful for our return to campus this fall,  but the truth is that the announcement was premature and not descriptive enough for students to discern what they should anticipate for the fall. 
Students are not concerned with how they will get home at the end of the semester – they are concerned about whether they need to prepare for a return to campus come August. Officials should have waited to release their full plan for the fall instead of giving students a tidbit of information. The announcement ultimately means nothing if officials later announce that students can’t come back for in-person classes.
Hannah Thacker, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.”

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BSU letter demands GWPD reforms
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“The Black Student Union published a letter Tuesday calling on the GW Police Department to adopt a slew of changes aimed at improving the relationship between students and officers.
The letter, addressed to GWPD Chief James Tate and Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Scott Burnotes, demands that the department levy a no-tolerance policy for officers who act on racial bias and decrease the department’s reliance on the Metropolitan Police Department. The letter comes in the wake of protests nationwide over the deaths of Breonna Taylor , George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery , three black Americans who were killed at the hands of police in recent months.
BSU also called on officers to “significantly” decrease officers’ presence at events hosted by black students, regularly meet with student leaders and to involve black leaders and diversity and inclusion officials in GWPD cultural competency and sensitivity training.
“Our community’s goal is to improve our relationship with GWPD, and are appreciative of individual officers who have put forth the effort to do so,” the letter states. “We are now asking for structural change to enforce this goal among all officers, not merely a select few. We deserve to feel like we’re being protected on our own campus – not like the ones others are being protected from.”
Eight student organizations signed onto the letter in addition to BSU, including the African Student Association; GW Black Women’s Forum; GW National Council of Negro Women, Inc.; GW Queer and Trans People of Color Association; GW National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; GW Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association; Students Against Imperialism; and GW Black Men’s Initiative.
A University spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
The letter also rejects a Hatchet editorial board piece last year recommending that GWPD hire armed officers, saying the action would further erode trust between students and officers and endanger students of color.
“We believe there are methods of de-escalation and safety enforcement that do not require the use of weapons,” the letter states.
Peyton Wilson, BSU’s executive vice president, said the organization is “grateful” for Tate’s efforts in supporting the black community and speaking with student leaders of groups like the Black Men’s Initiative. She said fostering long-lasting cultural changes within GWPD is “imperative.”
“While we have meeting after meeting with leadership, there are officers turning around and perpetuating the very culture we’re trying to change,” Wilson said in an email. “Black students, at a University they are paying for, should trust and have a relationship with campus police.”
She added that cultivating a culture of accountability with consequences for officers who engage in intolerant behavior will contribute to building a foundation to “get us to where we need to go.”
“But most importantly, we need the University to implement an enforceable no-tolerance policy for acts of violence and racial bias,” she said. “Too many black students can recall negative encounters they’ve had with GWPD that other students will never experience.”
D.C.-area BSUs also published a letter Friday calling on Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Peter Newsham to implement measures like reducing youth arrests by 90 percent aimed at addressing police brutality.”

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SA leaders respond to protests over police brutality
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“Students Association leaders vowed to hold discussions surrounding recent events of police brutality and racism and push for the University to release a GW police Department climate survey in a statement Sunday.
Following the deaths of four black Americans who were killed at the hands of police officers in recent months, SA leaders wrote that they are working to host a discussion about police brutality and white supremacy and held virtual office hours Monday for those who wished to talk through the past events. SA Executive Vice President Brandon Hill and SA President Howard Brookins wrote that they will personally make donations to the Chicago Community Bond Fund and Minnesota Freedom Fund in the wake of protests responding to police violence.
“As the first all-black Student Association leadership team, in recent memory, we stand at the forefront of ensuring an equitable experience for all students,” Hill and Brookins wrote. “This is why we find it pertinent to assure you that the Student Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We strongly stand in solidarity with the Black Men’s Initiative, the Black Student Union and all of the grieving black students on this campus, as well as support their calls to action and demands fellow students, administrators and D.C. public officials.”
SA leaders said they are a resource for predominately white student organizations that are interested in helping but unsure how, adding that members are planning to create a guide about how student organizations can “create an actively anti-racist environment.”
The SA letter states that organization members involved in the Safety and Security Advisory board will push for a GWPD climate survey once students are able to return to campus, similar to a survey Georgetown University’s student government advocated for. SA leaders involved with the board will also press officials to implement unconscious bias training for all GWPD officers, the letter states.
Hill said the letter aims to educate and “reeducate” white peers on how everyone can support students and restructure oppressed systems in one’s own organization. He said “at the very least” he hopes black students feel valued on campus.
He said the SA aims to continue partnerships with GWPD, the Divisions of Safety and Security and administrators in the fall to provide safety for students on campus.
“I hope that when people look back and wonder how the Student Association felt on certain topics they know without a shadow of a doubt that we believe all black lives matter,” Hill said.”

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Classes to be held remotely for two weeks following Thanksgiving
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“Most students will take their classes remotely for two weeks following Thanksgiving this fall, as officials continue planning to tentatively resume in-person classes in August.
University President Thomas LeBlanc said the decision, a similar move to several universities across the country, will prevent the potential spread of coronavirus that could occur if students travel home for the holiday and return to campus, according to an email sent to the GW community Tuesday. Students will attend in-person classes on Labor Day and Fall Break will be canceled to maximize in-person instruction time and avoid travel, he said.
“In moving expeditiously on our operations and academic planning efforts, it is clear that much is dependent on our anticipated fall calendar and modes of instruction,” he said in the email. “There is also, understandably, a degree of urgency to make decisions on these fronts to allow time for our community, and specifically our faculty, to prepare for classes – especially because we plan to use the changes coming this fall as an opportunity to enhance the GW learning experience for our students.”
LeBlanc said officials are developing “alternative schedules” for programs in the School of Nursing, College of Professional Studies, School of Medicine and Health Sciences and GW Law that meet professional accreditation requirements. Officials are also creating a process for students to request to remain on campus through the end of the semester, LeBlanc said.
He said Provost Brian Blake is encouraging faculty to use the two weeks of remote learning following Thanksgiving for an “innovative online experience” and hold major exams in person before the holiday, based on student feedback about taking spring final exams online.
LeBlanc said Blake will share “additional guidance” to faculty for adjusting syllabi and preparing for online learning with “best-in-class” instructional methods and technology. LeBlanc said officials will offer a process for faculty who cannot teach on campus to request accommodation.
The move will end the semester before the originally scheduled final exam period, creating a more than four-week winter break for students between the fall and spring semesters.
Blake said in an interview last week that administrators’ internal planning suggested they would end classes before Thanksgiving or start in-person classes early.
LeBlanc said officials have “great forward momentum” in planning for students to return to campus in August, but they may need to make further changes as the fall semester approaches. Administrators organized a Back to Campus Initiative last month to spearhead planning efforts for an in-person fall semester.
“While we are cautiously optimistic about our ability to implement these adjustments to the fall calendar, please know that as always this decision is subject to change based on the evolution of the pandemic; the recommendations of our experts and D.C., regional and federal requirements and guidance; and any additional steps we believe are necessary to support the health, safety and care of the University community,” he said.
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Students sue Board of Trustees for tuition refunds
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“Two students are suing the Board of Trustees to refund tuition payments following the University’s switch to online classes, the second lawsuit demanding tuition refunds this spring.
In a 19-page complaint filed in D.C. District Court Thursday, rising second-year graduate student Margaret Mauldin and senior Charafeddine Zaitoun allege the University did not provide the on-campus education and facilities it guaranteed in exchange for tuition payments. Mauldin and Zaitoun are requesting the University partially refund tuition and fees for all students who submitted payments for the spring 2020 semester.
“Despite failing to fulfill its obligations, Defendant is currently unlawfully retaining and refusing to fully or partially refund Plaintiffs’ Spring 2020 semester tuition and fees, despite the dramatically lower quality and less valuable education and services now being provided,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit follows another complaint a parent filed last month,  pressuring the University to refund tuition, fees and room and board payments because of a decline in “academic rigor” and the cancellation of on-campus services during the virtual learning period.
The students’ lawsuit states that the University breached its contract that promises students on-campus education and resources like classroom facilities and dining options, which students can no longer access during campus’s closure. Students like Mauldin and Zaitoun were “deprived of the education experience” they were entitled to receive through their tuition payments, according to the complaint.
“Plaintiffs and the other members of the Class entered into binding contracts with Defendant, which provided that Plaintiff and the other members of the Class would pay tuition and fees, to GW, in exchange for on-campus educational, social and other experiences and access to facilities,” the complaint states.
Mauldin and Zaitoun allege students have withstood an “enormous windfall” under the financial strain that has afflicted working students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic after the University cut access to on-campus buildings, technology and other services guaranteed through tuition payments. The lawsuit states the payments benefited the University, which failed to return the on-campus resources students expected to receive.
“Defendant is thus profiting from COVID-19 while further burdening students and their families – many of whom have been laid off, become ill, lost loved ones or are otherwise already bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit states students received a “second-rate online substitute” for in-person education because faculty did not have enough time to learn how to teach a quality curriculum through the new online format.
The lawsuit references an article from Educause, a nonprofit organization working to improve virtual education, that states it is “impossible” for teachers to completely understand how to conduct online teaching if they shift to a virtual platform within just a few weeks. The article states schools should take six to nine months to prepare for an online course.
GW began online classes less than two weeks after announcing the switch.
“The hasty conversion to ‘virtual learning’ has not and cannot compare to live classes,” the complaint states. “But it doesn’t compare to well-planned and executed online courses either.”
Mauldin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies, decided to attend GW because of the University’s connection to the Smithsonian museums, which offer field trips and “peer-reviewed classes,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states she completed a Smithsonian internship remotely, despite paying “the high cost of graduate tuition” to receive in-person credit at the museum.
“She is not receiving what she bargained for,” the complaint states.
Mauldin declined to comment.
Zaitoun rented an apartment with a $1,650 monthly fee near campus to take classes as part of the University’s summer 2020 session but will pay more than $10,000 for Zoom classes, “with no access to professors, other classmates or campus facilities or resources,” the complaint states.
Zaitoun did not return a request for comment.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said “other University revenues” subsidize students’ tuition to cover the cost of providing curricular and co-curricular programming to students. She said officials understand students did not expect to finish spring semester classes online, but the University followed advice from “public health experts” in deciding to switch to virtual learning.
“Our faculty worked hard to provide our students with a quality academic experience by distance, and our staff too worked hard to provide mechanisms for students to meaningfully engage with each other,” she said.
Nosal said officials have offered students refunds for housing, dining, parking and international program fees after campus closed in March. She said the University is granting students the entirety of GW’s $9.1 million aid package from CARES Act funding and providing additional financial support through the GW Cares Student Assistance Fund .
“We continue to work with students and families who are in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
More than 75 higher education groups, at least three of which list GW as a member institution, signed a letter to Congress last week asking for temporary liability protections for universities facing lawsuits related to the pandemic.
Glen Abramson – the legal counsel for Mauldin, Zaitoun and the University’s student population represented in the class action – said the “online course experience” does not match the on-campus college experience the University markets to prospective students. He said students are not receiving marketed services during the pandemic, even though the University promised these resources as part of the school’s tuition.
“GW is acting as if the emergency online classes they put together are the same as live classes on campus,” he said. “That’s just not the case.”
Abramson said his law firm, Berger Montague, has represented students from Boston University, the University of Southern California and the University of California in similar class action lawsuits demanding tuition repayments. He said “hundreds of students” have contacted the firm, upset about paying for online classes.
“This is something that I think a lot of students have had concerns about, and I think there are going to be cases filed against many colleges and universities around the country,” he said.
Students have filed more than 110 class action lawsuits against universities in the two months since spring instruction transitioned online, according to a National Law Journal report .
He said the firm is working with “experts” to determine the amount of refunded tuition the legal team will request from the University.
Grace Speights, the Board of Trustees chair, announced last month that officials would not change next year’s tuition if classes are held online in the fall.
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Reopening discussions 'suggest' changes to fall calendar: provost
by The GW Hatchet
May 31, 2020
“With a final decision on the fall semester just weeks away, officials say changes to the fall academic calendar are likely to mitigate ongoing health risks.
Provost Brian Blake said administrators are discussing starting the fall semester early or concluding in-person classes by Thanksgiving, a move some institutions across the country have already announced  in anticipation of a potential second wave of the coronavirus late in the semester. Blake said last week that if students return to campus, faculty will provide additional flexibility to infected students or those who are more vulnerable to the virus.
“Although we don’t have a final answer on the fall schedule yet, the ongoing discussions with students, faculty and staff suggest we will have a contiguous fall term that may be shorter while attempting to encourage students to remain local as much as possible to reduce the possibility of contracting the virus away from campus,” Blake said in an email.
He said officials hope to announce specific plans “very shortly.” Administrators have previously said they will make a final decision by June 15 with a possible one-week extension.
“As provost, I absolutely want to see our students back on campus allowing for the special ‘only at GW’ environment to the fullest possible extent possible, within a safe and healthy context,” Blake said.
Officials unveiled three fall scenarios earlier this month – on-campus instruction and residential housing, a hybrid of on-campus and online coursework or a continuation of the instructional continuity period. For students to return to campus, GW’s health experts have said they will need to test students periodically for the presence of the virus and coronavirus antibodies.
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It's time to shut down GW's Confucius Institute
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“Most students would be forgiven for not knowing about GW’s Confucius Institute, a chapter of a worldwide organization promoting the study of Chinese culture and language in universities. At first glance it may seem an innocuous cultural society, but the Institute – like its 72 counterparts in colleges across the nation – is nothing less than a soft-power tool of the Chinese Communist Party.
Confucius Institutes are all operated by Hanban, a government entity funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education, and hire employees largely based on their loyalty to the CCP. Discussion topics the Chinese government disapproves of are strictly forbidden and Institutes regularly sabotage university events about such topics. They have, for example, pressured universities to disinvite the Dalai Lama and covertly removed conference materials listing Taiwan as a country. Confucius Institutes have also allegedly carried out espionage, assisted in the theft of intellectual property and even threatened Chinese students for what they may say in the classroom.
Universities are increasingly aware of these issues. 22 American universities have shuttered their Institutes in the past two years, with closures also happening in Europe and Australia . Of GW’s twelve peer schools, only Tufts University and the University of Pittsburgh still have branches. More telling still, Congress and the FBI reviewed the activities of Confucius Institutes last year and identified them as threats to academic freedom and campus information security . Both have urged U.S. universities to sever ties for these reasons, as have numerous faculty associations , human rights groups and student organizations . The University must heed these significant warnings and end the activities of the GW Confucius Institute as soon as possible.
Confucius Institutes are not like other cultural institutes, such as France’s Alliance Francaise or Germany’s Goethe-Institut , in that they are fully integrated into their host universities. They therefore have a voice in what events or discussions take place on campus, which is particularly concerning given the Chinese government’s track record of speech policing. A senior Chinese official even admitted in 2011 that the Institutes were an “important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” It is unreasonable to assume that GW’s Institute does not censor and surveil in the interests of the Chinese government as other universities’ Institutes have been shown to do . After all, Hu Jinbo, who sits on our Institute’s Board of Directors , is a vice chair of China’s top political advisory body .
Allowing the Chinese government space on campus to communicate its policies is controversial enough. Permitting it to stifle (or unduly influence) the communications of others is intolerable. When one then takes into account the national security concerns, the course of action required by the University becomes all too obvious.
Furthermore, we must consider the financial drain on GW that the Confucius Institute represents. Congress passed a law in 2018 withholding all Department of Defense language funding from universities that host the Institute. We are potentially forfeiting critical language resources – at a time when our language departments have been forced to cut classes – all for the sake of giving an authoritarian government a platform at our University. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused GW a substantial budget shortfall ; and while closing the Institute won’t balance things by any means, it would be a simple and beneficial way to start.
Undoubtedly, the need to learn Chinese or become familiar with Chinese culture is a growing one, especially at a university so renowned for its international affairs program. But there are plenty of ways to do these things without letting the Chinese government manipulate on-campus discourse. Just ask Georgetown, American University or any of the Ivy League schools, which have somehow managed to avoid hosting Confucius Institutes and still have top-notch programs in Chinese language and politics. At the end of the day, all our Confucius Institute really does for students is organize language classes and art events . We already have a Chinese language department, and it’s not worth keeping the Institute for the sake of a few calligraphy lessons or ballet performances.
And even if it were worthwhile, the fact remains that any foreign organization on campus must be held to the same standards as an American one. To operate legitimately, foreign organizations must commit to freedom of speech and to the transparency and integrity of their practices. As China increasingly attempts to control what we say in our own country, we must push back and make it clear that our values of freedom and democracy are not for sale . GW’s insistence on keeping the Institute open not only defies rationality but goes against our very character as an institution.
So it’s time we finally say “zai jian” to our Confucius Institute. Or perhaps another word would be more appropriate, because “zai jian” is the kind of goodbye that implies we will meet again. And we certainly don’t want that.
Filip Vachuda, a rising junior majoring in international affairs and economics, is a writer.
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The solution for fall: a hiring binge
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“Ivy Ken is an associate professor of sociology.
University President Thomas LeBlanc informed the GW community that as we move toward a new academic year, we need to prepare for “pay or benefit reductions, early retirement options, furloughs or layoffs,” among other cost-cutting actions. The announcement has created deep unease among staff and faculty, who are already working overtime to meet the new demands brought on by the pandemic.
As we all work to figure out how to continue the University’s mission of creating and sharing knowledge, the obvious solution so far has been to hold classes online. GW is not unique in this – it is happening all over the world. We live at a time when the technological infrastructure that allows classes to go online – from the internet, itself, to the availability of computers, software and technical support – is as strong as the magnified demand for it during social distancing.
But the rationale for holding classes online is absent. As online learning has ramped up in colleges and universities over the last two decades, education researchers have identified best practices for online learning success. It is an understatement to say that the practices and conditions under which faculty and students are being asked to turn everything over to Webex and Blackboard right now are far from ideal. Faculty largely do not have the training. One of my students in the spring semester told me about a business professor who couldn’t figure out the technology, so he simply lectured his students for an hour at a time over the phone. I feel that my “magic” as an instructor happens in the classroom, where I engage with students face-to-face, read their nonverbal cues, respond to their ideas and help them struggle collectively with the material. I cannot reproduce this online, and my students will suffer.
In the 19 years I have been at GW, class sizes have increasingly gotten bigger. My 35-student theory course got bumped up to 45 and raised again to 50, with no additional support. No student at GW who has been cramped into a tiny classroom will be surprised that these 50 students must still meet in the rooms designed for 35. To the extent that higher class sizes reflect increased demand for sociological theory, this is a great thing. But this is not what it reflects. It is one small example of a university that is trying to do more with less. GW wants a smaller numbers of professors to teach a larger numbers of students.
Again, GW is not unique in this. The trend in higher education has been to employ the techniques developed by profit-seeking corporations to – as the chair of the Board of Trustees recently put it – cut the “ fat ” from University budgets. Professors, apparently, are the unnecessary “fat.”
A much better solution, albeit one that would require enough courage to buck the existing trend, is a hiring binge. Not a hiring freeze.
A hiring binge would allow more professors to handle smaller classes that could possibly meet in person in large rooms. Anthony Fauci, a leader on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recently advised that it would be possible for universities to welcome students back in the fall, if all were tested regularly and modifications were made to residence halls and classrooms. This means all those classrooms at GW that were designed for 35 students, into which dozens more students have been packed, need to become classrooms of 10. My 60-student fall semester class, for instance, could be turned into three different 20-student classes with three different instructors who each meet with 10 students at a time. This would increase the workload of any one instructor, who would need to meet twice as often with smaller numbers of students. But that sort of workload increase would be better than requiring professors to hastily – and probably poorly – conduct robust, meaningful online class sessions.
We need more people, not more technology. Ideally, this need could spark something like a federal works program that would hire masses of underemployed doctoral students into tenure-track jobs so we could handle this crisis in a way that is both humane and pedagogically sound. It should go without saying – but doesn’t – that these positions should absolutely be tenure-track, since these positions are the only ones to guard against the sort of layoffs that GW and other schools have threatened and implemented.
I realize that implementing this at GW would be an enormous task. Perhaps one source of support for an initiative like this would be not the federal government but the D.C. city government. Mayor Muriel Bowser and city council have often devoted serious amounts of money to progressive ideas like healthy meals for K-12 students and the bike lanes. The consortium of D.C. colleges and universities could jointly request the city’s support and make the District a leader on this issue. Some may feel that public tax dollars should not be spent on private university professors, and in general I agree. But this is a solution meant to prioritize students. In exchange for public money, perhaps our universities could commit to enrolling a much higher proportion of D.C. students.
What is important is to fight against the tide of bigger, online classes, which just do not serve our students or our communities well. The current crisis presents an opportunity to move away from the pedagogically bankrupt focus on efficiency and toward solutions that are best for the people and communities we serve.
The Board chair recently said in an email that trustees are “directing the administration to explore and consider all appropriate options. A sense of urgency is warranted and the status quo is not an option.” I share this sense of urgency and hope the Board, administration and city will consider halting the freeze and engaging in a hiring binge to benefit our students.
Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”

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Higher education groups ask for legal protections for colleges
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“More than 75 higher education organizations signed a letter to congressional leaders Thursday asking for temporary liability protections for universities facing lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After universities moved classes online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, GW and other institutions are facing lawsuits demanding tuition refunds for part or all of the spring semester. The groups, at least three of which list GW as a member institution, state universities are facing “huge transactional costs” fighting these lawsuits as they face “unprecedented challenges.”
“To blunt the chilling effect this will have on otherwise reasonable decision-making leading to our nation’s campuses resuming operations in a safe and sensible manner, we ask that Congress quickly enact temporary COVID-19-related liability protections for higher education institutions and systems, affiliated entities, as well as their faculty, staff and volunteers,” the letter states.
A parent filed a class action lawsuit in D.C. District Court against GW earlier this month alleging that the University breached its contract with students by not providing in-person instruction and campus facilities during the pandemic, demanding a partial refund of room and board, tuition and fees. The University has offered refunds for lost housing, dining and parking costs.
The parent who sued GW wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post earlier this month, stating that universities shifting to online classes were “not the schools’ fault,” but remote education is “nowhere near the caliber” of an on-campus college experience.
Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights said last week that the Board does not plan to adjust next year’s tuition rate if classes remain online. Officials are considering three scenarios for fall instruction – in-person, hybrid or online coursework – and plan to make a final decision next month.
The groups said Congress should apply protections conditioned on applicable public health standards and exclude protections for institutions that engage in “egregious misconduct.”
“While Congress has acted to provide some limited COVID-related liability protections for volunteer healthcare providers and some manufacturers of PPE in the CARES Act, much more must be done,” the higher education organizations said in the letter. “While some governors and state legislatures have enacted COVID-19 liability limitations, this is a national problem requiring a national solution.”
The groups said encouraging the safe reopening of colleges is “essential” to preserving future employment and restarting the country’s economy.
“Higher education’s need for temporary and targeted liability protections and relief is clear,” the higher education groups said in the letter. “Now is the time for Congress to act.”
Tracking COVID-19
Stay up to date on GW, D.C. news related to the virus. READ MORE”

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Volleyball bolsters 2020 roster with Greek signee
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“Markella Lanara, a 6-foot-2-inch middle blocker from Athens, Greece, will round out volleyball’s 2020 roster, head coach Sarah Bernson announced in a press release Thursday.
In Greece, Lanara played for The Moraitis School, where she was named the top blocker in the conference and helped claim back-to-back school championships in 2018 and 2019. Lanara called GW her “dream university” in the release.
“It will give me the opportunity to combine academic excellence with competitive athletics while being in one of the most influential locations,” Lanara said in the release. “I believe that joining the GW volleyball family will help me grow as a player and person and take my athletic and academic career to a whole new level.”
Lanara also won a pair of titles for her club team, the Olympiakos volleyball club, and she helped the squad qualify for national competition for the past four years.
Bernson said Lanara will add “experience and depth” to GW’s returning middle blockers, a position that has historically been the team’s strong suit. Last season, the Colonials ranked third in the Atlantic 10 in blocks per set (2.52), and two Colonials finished among the top 10 in average blocks per set.
But last year’s top three blockers – graduate student middle blocker Caroline Sklaver, graduate student opposite Paty Valle and senior setter Jaimeson Lee – graduated, allowing Lanara to help shore up the gaps.
Assistant coach Brianna Barry said Lanara’s calm court demeanor and “fiery competitive spirit” fit well with the team’s dynamic.
“I am thrilled to work with her in the middle position and see how much she can grow,” Barry said in the release.
Lanara will join two other freshman recruits – opposite Liv Womble and outside hitter Elizabeth Drelling – on the court this fall. Two transfers junior setter Lauren LaBeck and graduate student opposite Ashley Waggle complete this year’s recruiting class. The Colonials will return nine members of last year’s squad.”

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Finding truth in silence: An internal reflection on racial injustice
by Student Life
Jun 10, 2020
“I’ve been trying to write this for a while now. For days I’d sit down with my laptop open, sifting through words in my mind, only for day to turn into night while my screen remained blank. Each day I tried to gather my thoughts and each day—for a week—I failed. I didn’t know what to say, or rather, I didn’t know how to say it—I didn’t want to say it.
How could I describe the dissonant complexity of maintaining a Black existence in a country that, at its foundation, never intended on me achieving personhood? How could I compress the entirety of my life’s adversities into a nice, neat, few hundred words?
I cannot explain to a non-Black person what it means to wear this skin each day, this skin that—despite who wears it—will always be marked and measured by the scars placed upon it by American hands, scars that I inherited from a past I did not know.
I realized after days of being taunted by a blank screen, that I can’t. I cannot explain to a non-Black person what it means to wear this skin each day, this skin that—despite who wears it—will always be marked and measured by the scars placed upon it by American hands, scars that I inherited from a past I did not know.
I cannot tell you what it’s like to feel rejected from a room before you ever even enter it, how you must will yourself to laugh off and dismiss ignorance from “friends” because speaking out against it would render you too “serious” or give them the satisfaction of fulfilling the “angry Black woman” trope, to feel the need to minimize your Blackness or shy away from the parts of yourself that you love because you want to feel accepted.
I force myself to write the words because I cannot explain to you the truth of what this life feels like, but I also wasn’t ready to explain it to myself.
Over the past few weeks, I recognized the evolvement of hopelessness and guilt within me. I’ve spent the entirety of my life trying to make my worth known, a shared plight amongst many in the Black community. For years our voices have been raised and our feet have marched for change, yet in 2020, I found myself again mourning the death of a man I didn’t know but kin nonetheless, replaying the video as he cried out to the inhabitants of a world that he would soon depart. I watched and I cried, but what did I do?
My TV glowed orange as the nation went up in flames. D.C. was on fire, Minneapolis in ashes. Police met protestors with barricades and batons. They tear-gassed the masked and the innocent, those who marched to make the value of Black lives known, a physical demonstration of what I’d tried to prove my whole life. And all the while I watched from a screen.
I was angry with myself. Silence was a being I’d never known, but somehow I’d made friends with it. My tears had dried and my optimism turned to despondency, leaving me with no words left to speak. I was exhausted, tired of having watched so many Black faces become another name on a T-shirt, fatigued by the majority rejecting our incessant fight for change.
In this time where vocality is most crucial, I’ve found myself recoiling, my silence and guilt the combined product of hopelessness.
~
When I got accepted into Washington University, I felt like it was something I had earned. I had worked hard in every class from kindergarten to 12th grade, having been a straight-A student for the majority of that time. I came to school early and left late, worked tirelessly to get to where many thought I didn’t belong. I had earned my seat at the table.
To some of the other kids at my predominantly white school, of course I got in. After all, I was Black. To them, that was it. They had diminished all of my efforts, gleaned over my accomplishments with the notion of affirmative action. Because why else would a Black person enter a high-achieving university if not to fill a quota?
It is purely exhausting to constantly try and eradicate this mentality, screaming “I’m worth it” to people who do not care. It hurts to know that no matter what I do, no matter what I accomplish, who I help or what I give, no matter how many words I write or speak, some people will never see me as anything more than a Black woman, a stereotype, a threat.
They’ll see my Blackness before they know my name, and for many, that’s all they need to see. They don’t need to know my name, see my accomplishments, hear my dreams, my fears, my goals. They see my Blackness, and they’ve known me before they’ve met me.
The officers and the racists, they saw the Blackness of Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. They saw their Blackness and decided that they knew them, a falsity that they used to justify murder.
And it is this fact that quelled my words and hindered me from speaking out. When every word you say to advocate for yourself is met with scrutiny and contempt or “I understand, but…”, when you’ve watched your own city burn as the product of injustice, yet the same crime that brought it to the ground was committed multiple times after, justice still far away, you begin to feel like no matter how loud you are, people won’t hear you. And there is some truth to that.
There are some people in this world who don’t see a problem because they don’t want to see a problem. These same people are content and comfortable at being on top, and are complacent in the mounting injustices because their lives aren’t at stake because of it.
But my life is at stake, and so are the lives of every Black person in America. I took a silence that was not mine to take, fell victim to my sorrow, but this is not an option, for if we give in, all the pain we have endured and the blood that has been spilled will be in vain. The system will carry on without us, which only opens a door for America’s past mistakes to become its future.
We’re not playing a game, fighting for a trophy at the end of a tournament. We are fighting for our lives. We take a knee to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives as unintended martyrs at the hands of the system.
We’re not playing a game, fighting for a trophy at the end of a tournament. We are fighting for our lives. We take a knee to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives as unintended martyrs at the hands of the system. We protest to be seen by those who choose to turn away from what is too obvious to ignore. We fight because we must.
I’ve come to understand that everyone’s minds and hearts cannot be changed, as racism and the hatred that accompanies it are companions that some refuse to let go of. But for every person who chooses the path of hate, there is a person who stands beside us in our fight for humanity. The time of oppression has long since been outdated. We cannot and we will not give up until equity and justice wins out against racism and hate. We will march, we will protest and we will not stop until America knows that Black lives matter.”

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Staff Editorial: Dear Chancellor Martin
by Student Life
Jun 08, 2020
“Dear Chancellor Martin,
There is no way we can fully understand, express or summarize the myriad thoughts and emotions the members of the Washington University community were experiencing on Sunday, May 31. But there are some things we do know. Students, faculty and staff were angry—yet another Black man was killed at the hands of a police officer. They were sad as they witnessed police brutality continue to tear apart their communities. They were tired, the continued need to destroy a lasting, insidious system of racial injustice proven over and over again.
Since May 25, students have had to sit with the emotional weight of George Floyd’s murder, along with the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others. And then, nearly a week after the murder, you sent us all an email.
The Student Life Editorial Board was disappointed by your delayed response. A delay would have been acceptable had you provided full recognition of Wash. U.’s privilege or more candid emotion. Your words did not extend past acknowledgement of the situation. It felt as if the emotion portrayed was out of obligation and not real concern. The email felt performative.
The email fails to reckon with the University’s immense monetary and social power—a power that grants Wash. U. the privilege to make transformative change not just on campus but in St. Louis as well, a region frequently defined by a systemically reinforced racial divide.
Yes, there has been some progress on the University’s campus, from documented efforts to increase the acceptance of underrepresented students to the expansion of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and programming like the Day of Dialogue & Action. But that is not nearly enough.
We cannot afford to speak on racial injustices solely when they are too obvious to ignore. Racism against Wash. U.’s Black community is an everyday reality, so Wash. U. needs an everyday plan to help eradicate the problem.
The Student Life Editorial Board also found it particularly concerning that you chose this email to address both racism against the Black community and the Asian American and Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community at the same time. The racism directed at Asian American and APIA students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is inexcusable. But it is an egregious injustice that the University should have addressed earlier, independently of this email. The blatant discrimination and racism against the Black community and the APIA community are separate problems that each deserve to be given their own attention.
You condemn “the acts of hate, aggression or disrespect toward any racial group that may happen anywhere,” but the University community—particularly the Black community—deserves to see more from you. It is crucial that you make marginalized individuals feel heard. You must act on their demands, because a university is not only a place of education for students, it is also a home for us, and a community for employees.
Wash. U. as an institution is an integral part of our lives. Thus, its students and employees deserve a proper response from the administration. We recognize that this email was an effort to show solidarity. This expression, however, was not enough.
While most universities have yet to produce a fully satisfactory response, many institutions have taken steps that we felt were lacking in your statement. The Saint Louis University statement , for example, included an acknowledgment of the broader systemic issues people of color face every single day of their lives. As SLU President Fred Pestello wrote in his statement, “This is about the countless, pervasive ways institutions, policies, programs and systems are structured in a manner that oppresses people of marginalized identities.” This issue is about more than one specific incident; it demonstrates systemic oppression that has been ignored for far too long.
You acknowledged that “there are no words that will be enough” and that initiatives are being planned, but there are still actions that could have been taken to amplify your words. We would have liked to see your email connect us to existing University resources like Habif’s mental health counseling and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. The University of Chicago’s provost, Ka Yee C. Lee, included a list of resources in her email to students. We can’t help but wonder why you didn’t do the same.
That is not to say that all hope is lost, because there are steps that you and the University can take toward progress. Community members are still feeling all of those painful emotions we felt last Sunday night, so the next time you email us, there should be true empathy. There should be plans. There should be real acknowledgment of how the University has failed us in the past and there should be concrete steps that the University is taking to move forward.
Chancellor Martin, the Student Life Editorial Board challenges you to host an open-access town hall this month. There, any member of the Washington University community could pose questions about the University’s responsibility to its Black students, faculty and staff and specific actions the University can take to address the institutionalized racism on campus and in St. Louis.
We realize that one town hall will not solve Wash. U.’s institutionalized racism, but we think it’s a starting point to hold every facet of the University accountable to making sincere change. Moreover, we believe the onus is on you and the University administration to be the catalyst for this change. We hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely,
The Student Life Editorial Board
The Student Life Editorial Board is composed of the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor, Managing Editors, Senior Forum Editor, Senior Scene Editor, Senior Cadenza Editor, Senior Sports Editors, Directors of Engagement and the Copy Chief.
Editor’s note: Please read Student Life’s Letter from the Editor on this subject here .”

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Op-Ed: The troubling Olin name
by Student Life
Jun 07, 2020
“Before the COVID-19 crisis, I walked past a giant portrait of John M. Olin every day on the way to my office as a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis. The business school and a library at Washington University are named after Olin, who was a longtime member of the university’s Board of Trustees and gave millions of dollars to the school, including through the eponymous John M. Olin Foundation .
Because I’m interested in understanding how philanthropic donations affect higher education institutions, I looked into Olin’s history of giving to universities. In light of the current protests in response to the killings of Black people by police across the country, what I learned about Olin’s motivation for donating to universities was disturbing.
As reported by Jane Mayer , Olin’s focus on higher education stemmed from a protest of racial injustice by a group of approximately 80 Black students at Cornell University, Olin’s alma mater, in 1969. In response to the protest, Cornell’s president agreed to expedite the establishment of a Black Studies program at the university and to investigate the burning of a cross outside of a building where Black students lived. The president also granted the protesters amnesty.
Olin was deeply distressed by the protest at Cornell. As described by Mayer, “Almost worse than the behavior of the protestors, from his standpoint, was the behavior of Cornell’s president, James A. Perkins, a committed liberal who had gone out of his way to open the university’s doors to inner-city minority students and now seemed to be bending the curriculum and lowering disciplinary standards to placate them.” To counter what Olin perceived to be happening at Cornell and other universities, the John M. Olin Foundation—which previously focused on donations to hospitals, museums and the like—began to focus its donations on the country’s elite universities. According to Mayer, “He began to fund an ambitious offensive to reorient the political slant of American higher education to the right.”
Olin’s reaction to the Black student protest at Cornell exemplifies the type of attitude that allows social injustices to persist. By having a school and library named after Olin, Washington University implicitly lends credence to his views, sending exactly the wrong message at this critical juncture in the history of St. Louis and the nation. Imagine the powerful message that the University could send by removing the Olin name from campus buildings. It would signal that the University values social justice over large financial gifts. It would provide a tangible sign that the University’s leadership is willing to take the types of steps necessary to address the gross inequities and injustices that plague St. Louis and the nation.”

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Andrew Martin delivers what’s expected, but not deserved
by Student Life
Jun 03, 2020
“On Sunday, Chancellor Martin released a statement to the Washington University community titled “On Racial Equity and Justice.” The statement attempts to acknowledge the pain that students of color have experienced while assuring us that Wash. U. is trying it’s very best to create a supportive environment for “all members of our community.”
The statement, much like the reaction to the Christchurch mosque shooting , is too little, too late. It came nearly a week after the death of George Floyd and after a full weekend of protests. If Martin is wracked with “sadness and grief” as he claims, then what could possibly explain the delay in his response? If we take him at his word and accept that he spent that time reflecting and having conversations with University leaders, then what explains the lack of specifics in his statement?
Besides a cursory mention of Floyd at the very beginning, the statement avoids getting into details of the crisis. The acts of violence Martin musters the courage to tut-tut about are largely ascribed to no perpetrator. The words “privilege” and “white” are nowhere to be found. While there is a brief mention of police violence, Chancellor Martin doesn’t delve into Wash. U.’s role in the maintenance of carceral institutions. There isn’t even a whisper about WUPD’s role in antagonizing students and black community members . While he waxes poetic about racial violence, the institution that he leads remains connected to private prisons that benefit from mass incarceration and the criminalization of Blackness. Also absent from his statement are any specific actions Martin sees the University making in the future. He promises progress, but he only delivers measured tepidity.
This is probably what I should have expected. Chancellor Martin is calculating. He considers the actions of similarly situated institutions judiciously and takes careful steps with that in mind. Wash. U. is never the first to act and often adopts similar measures to institutions it sees as contemporaries. Some would call this cautious—and in the right circumstances, I agree that his strategy is appropriate and produces good policy. But in cases of genuine crises, I see it as indecisive foot-dragging.
Perhaps I am being unfair to Chancellor Martin. We used to get statements like this from former Vice Chancellor Lori White, and I read those somewhat more sympathetically. Dr. White is a Black woman who has spent her entire professional career navigating white institutions. If she told me she acknowledged our pain, I would believe her. I don’t give Martin that same benefit of the doubt. He hasn’t earned it.
The first time I ever saw Chancellor Martin was at the Martin Luther King Day commemoration in January of 2019. At that event, he took time to praise “the restraint” shown by University administration 50 years prior towards protestors. While historical context may show that the Wash. U. administration was slightly more progressive than their contemporaries, in 2019, it rang as tone-deaf to view not sicking the dogs and turning the hoses on Black students as laudatory. Since then, I have read Martin’s statements critically. He has not shown me that he is an ally to Black students, thus he should not expect to be received as one.
I have no doubt that Chancellor Martin meant well. But his statement felt more like a slap in the face than a pat on the back. It has made me rethink the necessity of statements like it from University administration. Was there anything Martin could have said that would have accomplished his goal? Did I need to see administration go through the motions of care—extending a hand only out of obligation, comfort only skin deep—or would I have preferred them cutting the bull**** and let me stay angry at their absence? Is inauthentic hand-wringing better than nothing?
For my money, the answer is no. If the University is going to announce a major action, then I would love to hear from them. But if this is the best they can do, they should save their breath. Before Andrew Martin released his statement, I had no interest in hearing from him. After he released it, I wished he hadn’t.”

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Predicting hundreds of millions in upcoming pandemic expenses, Brown Corporation approves base budget for FY 2021
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 13, 2020
“The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, voted to approve a $1.3 billion base budget for the 2021 fiscal year during its May meeting, but this budget may be revised once the format of the fall semester is decided.
Expenses and potential losses
Because the budget was drafted from September 2019 to April 2020, it “does not incorporate the full impact the pandemic will likely have on Brown’s financial position,” President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a May 26 Today@Brown announcement .
The budget report predicts potential financial losses of $100 million to $200 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Herald previously reported.
The University has already spent over $21 million on COVID-19-related expenses including refunding room and board, facilitating travel, providing technological support to students and maintaining employment for some students and staff who could not work remotely or on site, Provost Richard Locke P’18 told The Herald.
Ramping down research, extending tenure clocks, employment contracts and financial support as well as canceling pre-college programs also increased the financial loss. The University also expects that “there will be a dramatic increase in our financial aid budget” in the upcoming fiscal year, Locke said.
During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the University’s financial aid budget increased by 21 percent, The Herald previously reported . “The current economic crisis we’re now in is much worse … in impacting Brown families,” Locke added. “When you add up all of these lost revenues and extra expenses, that’s just $100 million dollars.”
Additionally, if the University goes fully online next semester, it will lose room-and-board fees, as well as the tuition of students who may decide to take a leave of absence rather than enroll in an online semester.
In a “de-densified residential” scenario, the University will need to rent hotel rooms and implement safety measures. With a possible tri-semester calendar , Locke said the University will likely need to hire more faculty to teach during the extra semester.
All these pandemic-related measures amount to further financial strain. But “because the University has done a great job over the last several years in how it runs itself, we actually have the resources to do what we need to do” to handle the pandemic’s impacts responsibly, Locke added.
Budget priorities: “A picture of … an institution’s values”
The recently approved budget serves as a baseline for developing detailed budgets specific to the three forms the fall semester could take: entirely remote, part of a tri-semester model (with students only attending two of the three terms) or a regular return to campus.
The current base budget, which was designed by the University Resources Committee before being approved by the Corporation, has an operating budget of $1.265 billion of revenues and $1.274 billion of expenses for a deficit of $8.4 million or -0.1 percent, according to the report . This deficit will increase as the budget adjusts to COVID-19-related losses, according to Paxson, and an ad hoc administrative committee will be working with a COVID-19 Finance Committee of Brown Corporation members on financial plans and strategy for the coming months.
The budget also includes $347 million in funding for undergraduate and graduate student financial support — a 9 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. The budget allots $552 million for faculty, staff and student salaries, wages and benefits, including a 30 percent increase in funding for student wages from last year.
A budget is “a picture of … an institution’s values,” Locke said. “If you look at our budget, the vast majority of money that we spend is on people … as opposed to palaces.”
Total endowment distributions are projected to increase by $12 million, despite a 0.05 percent decrease in payout rate — the money distributed annually to the University to support operations — from FY 2020 to FY 2021. This decrease is part of the University’s plan to grow the endowment in order to ultimately increase the percentage of the budget drawn from the endowment, therefore decreasing the University’s reliance on tuition and fees over time, Locke explained.
While tuition and fees still comprise about 49 percent of the University’s operating budget, this year the URC made a conscious decision to commit to decreasing the growth curve of tuition and fees by keeping the percent raise below four percent, Locke said. Undergraduate tuition for the 2020-21 academic year increased by 3.75 percent , The Herald previously reported.
The University was also able to decrease potential budget expenditures by tens of millions of dollars through the implementation of a zero-base budgeting system, Locke said. While the previous incremental budgetary system simply built on the preceding year’s budget — often including unnecessary expenses from years past — the base budget keeps focus on funding each department’s top priorities for the coming year and reallocating resources away from unimportant expenses.
“Notwithstanding very tough times, we’re still investing in some of the major priorities of the University,” Locke said. “Diversity and inclusion, financial aid, economic inclusion and academic excellence.”
During the meeting, the Corporation also formally accepted approximately $88 million in individual gifts of over $1 million made since February 2020 and discussed the status of the BrownTogether campaign, which remains on track to meet its $3 billion fundraising goal by 2022.
Seven new Trustees and one New Alumni Trustee were elected to the Corporation. Two new members were elected to the Board of Fellows and the Corporation approved the appointment of 21 faculty to named chairs.
The Board of Fellows also approved the candidates for 2,657 degrees which were awarded May 24. This past April, the Board had also approved the candidates for 48 doctors of medicine degrees for Alpert Medical School students who graduated early to assist with medical responses to COVID-19.”

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Demoted student-athletes weigh transfer option
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 12, 2020
“This article is part of the series Demoted: A Look at the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative
Two weeks after losing their varsity status, over 100 former student-athletes now face a once-unfathomable choice: stay at Brown or continue their athletic careers at a different institution.
President Christina Paxson P’19 announced June 9 that the men’s track, field and cross country teams would have their varsity status reinstated , eliminating the consideration of transfer for athletes from those teams. But student-athletes from the other eight teams will remain at the club level, and some are considering leaving the University where they’ve made friends and significant progress on their degrees.
The decision, according to four athletes, relies on a number of factors, including the effect of COVID-19 on the upcoming season, how many years of eligibility a student-athlete has left at the University and the landscape of their sport nationwide.
For Lauren Reischer ’21, an incoming co-captain of the equestrian team approaching her senior year, leaving the University with one year to go makes little sense, she said.
“I definitely wouldn’t be transferring because of riding, and it definitely would not have made sense to transfer academically,” she said. “I’ve loved every single day I’ve spent at Brown.”
Schools in the South and West — such as Auburn University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Georgia — dominate the college equestrian world, Reicher said, which adds yet another layer of complexity to the prospect of transferring from Brown.
Only 17 Division I schools maintain varsity equestrian teams, with Cornell maintaining the only other varsity team in the Ivy League, according to the National College Equestrian Association’s website .
“I don’t think anyone on the equestrian team will transfer, personally,” Reischer said. “It would be a very big transition to go from Brown to (the University of) Georgia.”
Andrew Zimbalist P’00 ’20, an economist at Smith College and an expert on NCAA athletics, said he expected a small number of student-athletes to transfer in response to the decision — a “trickle,” but not a “flood.”
“The sports that are being cut are not sports somebody who’s at Brown would expect to play professionally,” he said in an interview with The Herald. “The downgrade from varsity to club isn’t all that dramatic.”
Zimbalist also anticipates that student-athletes may prioritize the value of a Brown degree over the ability to play their sport at the varsity level. “Why would somebody, if they can continue to play their sport on a club level, leave Brown?” he said.
Athletically-motivated transfers, Zimbalist noted, are a rarity in the Ivy League: Typically, such transfers may be prompted by an issue with a coach or personal or familial commitments, he added.
Still, some athletes are weighing their options. As of June 6 —  prior to the reinstatement of men’s track, field and cross country — 18 University student-athletes had entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, allowing other college coaches to contact them, according to the Compliance Office, which oversees transfer eligibility requirements within the Athletic Department. Additionally, because the NCAA does not govern men’s and women’s squash, the department gave both teams a “blanket ‘permission to contact letter’” allowing athletes to correspond with other coaches.
Entering the portal does not guarantee that a student-athlete will transfer. After going through a recruiting process, student-athletes then apply for admission at a new institution and, if accepted, can transfer.
The University offered four Zoom calls with academic deans and eligibility officers from the Athletics Department in the days following the announcement of the varsity cuts: two for incoming students, and two for returning students, the Compliance Office wrote in an email to The Herald.
Students who requested follow-up discussions have also met with the Compliance Office “one-on-one” over Zoom, according to the email.
In an interview with The Herald, Director of Athletics Jack Hayes said he expects to have a clearer picture of transfer numbers in “the next couple weeks.”
“I certainly hope that students remain at Brown,” he added.
“We’re prepared to do a greater volume (of transfers) based on the recent (Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative),” said Deputy Dean of the College Christopher Dennis, who helps students with the academic portion of outbound transfers. “So far it hasn’t materialized — but we’ll be prepared to meet demand.”
Luca Jezzeny ’23 and Pinya Pipatjarasgit ’22, both members of the recently demoted men’s and women’s golf teams, said they were both reluctantly exploring the potential of transferring — so long as their transfer destination could match Brown’s academic rigor.
Shortly after receiving the news about the golf team, Jezzeny said he began to consider the “sad idea” of transferring.
“I knew I wanted to continue to pursue golf at the Division I level,” he said. “I figured I should at least look to see if there were opportunities, based on how much I’ve worked at golf.”
Jezzeny said he had begun working with his coach to look at teams that could be a “good fit academically and athletically.”
“The goal would be to go to another Ivy League (school) with a golf program, because I want to come out with an Ivy League degree,” Pipatjarasgit said. As of early June, she had put her name in the transfer portal to talk to other coaches whom she had encountered in the recruiting process in high school.
But with transfer deadlines passed, along with low acceptance rates and an uncertain season ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pipatjarasgit admitted that the process could be “very hard” as she enters the second half of her college career.
“The worst part of this whole situation is how much I love Brown,” Pipatjarasgit said. “I feel like I found such a home.”
For currently enrolled students, the open curriculum also presents a unique hurdle in transferring and is “one of the number one flags that I put out there for students to look at,” Dennis said. “If you’re considering transferring from Brown, you definitely want to talk to your admissions officer from your target institutions.” Distribution requirements, absent within the open curriculum, “can be a third of your course requirements” at another institution, he noted.”

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Brown Research Seed Fund fuels ongoing research on COVID-19
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 11, 2020
“This article is part of the series A look into Brown's COVID-19 Research Seed Funded projects
The University distributed $350,000 in research funds through the COVID-19 Seed Awards this April to faculty carrying out experiments on the virus and its societal impact. The 15 diverse projects, selected from about 50 applicants, range from the sciences and medicine, to engineering, public health and data analysis, according to Vice President for Research and Professor of Mathematics Jill Pipher and the University website .
As faculty wished to pursue innovative projects to understand and combat COVID-19, the University used its operating budget to establish the fund and “make it possible to do this aspirational work at the most critical time,” Pipher wrote in an email to The Herald. The research chosen for the fund appeared to have a “potential significant, rapid impact on human health” or “would create products of immediate need for the health care system.” 
A cohort of studies are tackling the molecular aspects of the pandemic. These projects include the establishment of a blood sample biorepository, research of the virus through its genome and investigations on hormonal impacts on the virus.
Building a blood biorepository
Blood lies at the heart of numerous translational and biomedical research studies — those related to COVID-19 and not — but accessing clinically-relevant patient samples, especially during a pandemic, has proven challenging. 
A newly-built blood biorepository housed at the Lifespan Clinical Research Center is preserving human blood samples at freezing temperatures to help facilitate COVID-19 investigations, said the project’s principal investigator, Senior Associate Dean for the Program in Biology and Professor of Medical Science Edward Hawrot. He hopes the samples will be readily accessible — and thus, used quickly. 
“‘The goal of this biobank is to go bankrupt,’” Hawrot said, quoting co-principal investigator Bharat Ramratnam, associate professor of medicine, chief science officer of Lifespan, and medical director of the Lifespan Clinical Research Center.
The samples are drawn from patients visiting the Rhode Island and Miriam Hospitals’ emergency rooms. These patients have been informed about the risks and benefits that come with participating in this program and have consented to donate their blood to research studies. They typically do not know whether or not they have COVID-19 at the time the blood samples are obtained, but they will have exhibited symptoms, Hawrot said.
To date, at least 100 people have donated their blood to the biorepository, according to the Advance Clinical Translational Research website . The volume collected from each participant will be shared among many researchers in smaller quantities. 
Researchers interested in using these samples are able to apply through the Advance-CTR website , which opened May 29. They can also obtain pertinent demographic or medical data about the patients whose samples they receive if it is necessary for their research, but this process is “highly regulated” to protect any personal information, Hawrot said. Researchers’ detailed requests must go through an institutional review board.
Investigators from Rhode Island hospitals, Brown and the University of Rhode Island have expressed interest in using the samples, Hawrot added. 
Professor of Medical Science and of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Wafik El-Deiry’s lab, which also received a COVID-19 Seed award, hopes to use these blood serum samples to compare spike and cytokine protein levels in healthy people, those with varying levels of COVID-19 severity and those with COVID-19 and cancer, El-Deiry said.
The biorepository team is also in discussions with the University of Nebraska Medical Center about making these blood samples available at the United States’s other clinical and translational research centers through a virtual COVID-19 biobank, Hawrot said. This way, researchers who may have a shortage of samples in their area could request more from other CTRs. 
The University team also includes co-PIs Professor of Emergency Medicine, Medicine and Engineering Gregory Jay and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Francesca Beaudoin.
Funding from the group’s COVID-19 Seed award is being allocated toward supplies and compensating additional personnel who have been collecting and processing the blood samples.
Gathering information from the genome
The virus responsible for COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, uses RNA as its genetic material and passes these molecules from cell to cell upon infection. Another group of University researchers aims to use their expertise in infectious disease and engineering to assess the virus on a molecular level through its genome and ultimately help address the pandemic on personal and public health levels.
Identifying variations in the virus’s genome across locations and in people over time could illuminate more about the origins and development of the virus, which “could be relevant for the current wave of the pandemic or (a) future wave of the pandemic,” said Professor of Medicine Rami Kantor, a principal investigator of this COVID-19 Seed-funded project. 
Kantor’s lab has previously collaborated with the other principal investigator of the project: Anubhav Tripathi, professor of engineering and medical sciences (courtesy). Kantor and Tripathi have worked on similar studies considering the RNA genome of HIV in efforts to address the development of drug resistance to the virus. 
The project’s other researchers include Vlad Novitsky, MD, PhD; Akarsh Manne, MS and Mark Howison ‘06, MS from Kantor’s lab and Lindsay Schneider GS, Kiara Lee GS and Dulguunnaran Naranbat GS from Tripathi’s lab. 
But to carry out their new experiments, the researchers must first sequence the viral genome. 
This process often requires polymerase chain reaction, which replicates a small quantity of starting RNA — a technique which is costly and time-consuming.
To accommodate the high quantity of virus samples expected for this study, Tripathi and members of his lab are developing devices and technological methods that are “ faster, cheaper, easier and (of) greater use,” he said.
Once the researchers sequence the RNA of viruses from infected patients in Rhode Island, they plan to examine these sequences in the context of other sequences from the region and around the world to learn how mutations in the genomes compare, Kantor said. 
They plan to compare viral genomes based on COVID-19 severity and other health conditions in the patients that the virus infected. The team could also investigate reinfection from the virus, Kantor said.
The experiments “ could help us track the infection, track its origin, track different waves of it and hopefully help prevent people from getting infected currently or in the future,” he said.
Following a hunch about hormones
COVID-19 seems to affect male and female patients differently: Infected males on the whole tend to have more serious symptoms and outcomes than females, said Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Lalit Beura, the principal investigator leading a study in his lab on the possible link between hormone levels and COVID-19 pathogenesis, the progression of the disease.  
Before the pandemic, Beura’s lab was already studying how other diseases disproportionately affect men and women. They turned their attention to coronaviruses once the pandemic was underway. 
“Having this funding opportunity from Brown definitely opens up possibilities … to start a new area of research,” Beura said.
This discrepancy may be due to differences in hormone levels. While estrogen and progesterone hormones are more common in females, testosterone is generally abundant in males. The researchers are using mouse models and a coronavirus that infects mice — related to but different from the COVID-19 virus — to determine whether there is a relationship between hormone levels and illness severity, Beura said. By manipulating testosterone levels in mice, they can watch how COVID-19 manifests in response and how this change impacts immune cell activity, which spurs the disease when excessive. Another possibility is investigating the potentially protective attributes of estrogen, Beura added.
Once the researchers develop an evidence-based idea of the hormones’ either helpful or harmful influence on the disease, this knowledge will have “direct applicability to how we treat this disease (and) how we design our policies to avoid having such disparate outcomes,” Beura said. This research could then lead to clinical applications in the long run whereby drugs related to hormone molecules could help regulate COVID-19 in patients.
Sharing sentiments with the other researchers, Beura said the University funding helped make this unprecedented research possible.
Although the COVID-19 Seed fund has already been exhausted, Pipher wrote that the fund’s intention was to propel COVID-19 research efforts quickly in their early stages. 
For example, the award helped the blood biorepository get off the ground, Hawrot said. “That’s the advantage of these awards. …  You build trust and cooperative spirit.”
For researchers still seeking funding for COVID-19-related work, the University has sustained its commitment to connect faculty with funding from external organizations, Pipher wrote.”

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Men’s Track & Field, Cross Country athletes, alums react to reinstatement
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 10, 2020
“This article is part of the series Demoted: A Look at the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative
On Tuesday evening, President Christina Paxson  P’19 released a statement reversing a May 28 decision to eliminate the Men’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams as part of the University’s Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative, which demoted 11 varsity teams to club status. While many teams and their supporters condemned the decision, the University’s decision to cut the Men’s Track and Field program sparked especially notable outcry. The sport is one of the most racially diverse in the Ivy League , and the team is one of the winningest programs at the University with 12 All-American athletes and the most Olympian alums of any of Brown’s teams in the past decade.
  The reinstatement of the 145-year-old Men’s Track and Field program as well as the Cross Country team had been anticipated by its athletes as early as last Thursday when they received news that President Paxson would be joining a virtual meeting between Director of Athletics Jack Hayes and the current track and field and cross country athletes. This meeting, which was originally scheduled for last Friday, “wasn’t originally about reinstating the team,” according to men’s runner Kevin Boyce ’21, who was present for the announcement. It was moved to Tuesday “so that President Paxson could also be in on the call.”
Minutes after the call, an email was sent to the Brown community announcing the decision. “We had heard inklings at the end of last week that the University was willing to retract bits of their excellence initiative, but we weren’t really sure what it would look like,” said former men’s runner and alum advocate for reinstatement Martin Martinez ’18.  
The current athletes and alums who closely collaborated to restore the team to varsity status agreed that their reinstatement marks a beginning rather than an end. “We’re not done,” Boyce said. “We have a lot of things that we still want to fight for with regards to diversity and inclusion, … making sure that the voices of student-athletes across the department are continuing to be heard when big decisions are made.”
In under 12 days, student-athletes, alums and their outside supporters banded together to collect just under 50,000 signatures on a petition in favor of reinstating Men’s Track and Field, launched a website which included a video series, slide decks of empirical data and athlete testimonials and attracted support of public figures such as author Malcolm Gladwell . “To all the alumni organizing and making sure that our voice was heard, I just cannot thank you enough,” Boyce said. 
Track and field and cross country alums see the reinstatement of the team as a victory that goes beyond the field. “I was a first-generation full Pell grant student. I would have never gotten out of my small town without track. Brown changed the trajectory of my entire life. The same can be said for so many of my teammates,” said former hammer and shot put thrower Brynn Smith ’11. “We were fighting for the continued existence of a pipeline into a university that changes lives.”
Alum organizers rejoiced at the news, but agreed that their work was far from done. “I was overcome with joy and a sense of belonging to a community that worked tirelessly to save what was ‘Ever True’ to us. We all agreed that the movement does not stop here,” said former women’s high jumper Morayo Akande ’16. “We were able to highlight the amazing diversity of our team, including the many people of color and LGBTQ athletes. We hope to keep (up) this activism … for current and future Brunonians.”
Members of both the male and female teams athletes were relieved to learn of the men’s reinstatement. “The men’s and women’s team is so integrated that cutting the men’s team is like cutting the defensive line of a football team,” Akande said. 
“Brown Track and Field is an example of a truly successful coed environment. We train together, we compete together and we share the same coaches,” said men’s high jumper Numan Maloney ’22. “I really can’t stress enough how intertwined we are as a unit.” 
The men’s team acknowledged the critical support of their female counterparts in achieving their reinstatement. “We’ve said it once, we’ll say it until the wheels fall off: The women’s team and the men’s team are one combined team,” Boyce said. “We can’t thank the women’s team enough for standing by us in such a difficult time and helping us reach the finish line together, just like we do in practice every week.”
Other alums were quick to join in the celebration as news of the meeting spread through team group chats and social media. “I couldn’t believe it,” said runner Daniel Meteer ’18. “I was definitely proud of the alumni effort that came together within hours (of the initial decision to cut the team). It was a really happy moment to know that people coming together … can actually accomplish so much so quickly. I’m feeling very proud to be a Brown track alum.”
“When I heard the news, it was a rush of relief,” said alum reinstatement advocate and runner Jordan Mann ’15. “Those of us at the forefront of this have been working from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. most days, … but we’re not done. We talked a lot about things like justice and equality throughout this campaign. We want to make sure that we talk about equality going forward not just in Men’s Track and Field but throughout our entire athletics department,” he said. “We want to make this the beginning of a discussion about diversity and inclusion in sports within the Ivy League and across the nation.”
The alums plan to remain an active part of that discussion. “The track and field networks are going to be a lot more involved going forward,” said former runner Sarah Yoho ’18. “It is clear now that (alum) involvement is important and will have an effect on the team going forward.” 
“It’s just been amazing seeing the excitement on Facebook, the flood of texts from students, those involved in the other essays that we were working on and the different media outlets that we were talking to, reaching out and saying congrats,” Martinez said. “It’s been great.”
“We can’t thank the whole Brown community enough for their support throughout this. We couldn’t have done it without all of those who helped us along the way,” said Boyce. “I think I speak for all of us when I say, thank you.””

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Ten voices on varsity team cuts
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 10, 2020
“Following the University’s decision to cut 11 teams as part of the Excellence in Brown Athletics initiative, The Herald invited 100-word submissions from individuals impacted by the decision. The opinions team selected and lightly edited 10 blurbs from former varsity student-athletes and alums on the cut teams describing their reactions to the decision. Blurbs regarding the Men’s track, field and cross country team were removed as the varsity status of these three teams was reinstated June 9.
Jacob Good ’22 (Men’s Squash):
When I created an extreme training schedule the summer before my freshman year, did it pay to push further? Was it necessary to miss high school classes to play in junior squash tournaments? Was I right to skip numerous family and friends events for my intense training schedule? When I sprained my MCL and fractured my knee in a match this year, was it wise to complete an intense physical therapy process? Was chasing my dream of playing varsity squash at Brown worth it? I guess not.   
Courtesy of Stuart Legassick Jacob Good ’22 (right) was a member of the Brown men’s squash team, which was moved to club status on May 28 alongside the women’s squash team.
Kyle Reyes ’23 (Men’s Fencing): 
We were on the rise. For the first time in five years, my team won against an Ivy League school (UPenn). Just the motivation we needed. With enough grit and more talented recruits coming in, we had every reason to believe that the underdogs would soon become Ivy League champions. But in a five-minute call, that dream was crushed. The most talented and hardworking individuals I know were nothing but statistics to the administration. It felt like we were being punished for our hard work. And to top it all off, there was no warning. No consideration. No transparency.
Anna Susini ’22 (Women’s Fencing): 
I thought Brown listened to its students, yet this decision was made with no communication, no transparency, and no student or coach representation. I’ve been fencing competitively for over eight years. All the 6 am wakeup calls, the cross-country road trips, the frenzied late-night studying under an airplane overhead light, the sore muscles, the endless hours of practice – it was all worth it the day I found out I would be fencing for Brown. It was all demolished in the span of a ten-minute phone call. This decision is not just devastating; it goes against everything Brown stands for.
Courtesy of Anna Susini The Brown women’s foil squad poses for a picture at the Ivy League championships held at Harvard this year.
Lauren Rogoff ’05 (Equestrian):
Brown Equestrian has been one of Brown’s winningest teams: we came in the top 5 at Nationals (top 15 teams in the country, out of approximately 285 schools) 5 times in the last 20 years, Brown has the best athlete in IHSA history (Amanda Forte), and we completely dominate the Ivies: we were the first Ivy League school to go to Nationals, and have more Nationals appearances than the rest of the Ivies combined.  To claim that cutting this sport furthers the stated goal of athletic excellence for Brown is factually false, because this already excellent team cannot thrive, or even exist, without varsity status.
Audrey Kim ’21 (Equestrian):
I never did horseback riding seriously before college – there was too much instability in my childhood to have access to the sport. But in my sophomore year at Brown, I went to Equestrian tryouts on a whim. Turns out, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Our barn was a safe haven for me during waves of stress. Horse shows helped me foster resilience. My amazing teammates have shown me what support truly feels like. Without my team’s varsity status, I would have been unable to afford the opportunity to grow closer to the woman I want to be. 
Daphne Maniatis ’23 (Equestrian): 
I was a member of the Varsity Equestrian team coached by Michaela Scanlon. Michaela has devoted 23 years to coaching the Equestrian team, pouring her heart and soul into it. Demoting Equestrian to club status takes away her job and health insurance during a global pandemic, and deprives us of a fantastic teacher. Michaela was given no opportunity to provide input on this decision or to prove the competitiveness and excellence of the team she has built. This is not how Brown should treat anyone, let alone an effective and beloved coach with a quarter-century commitment to the University. 
Chelsea Hamilton ’03 (Captain) and Kate Segarra ‘02 (Equestrian): 
Brown Equestrian is the winningest Equestrian team in the Ivies. Within five years of transitioning from club to varsity, we won our Region, made it to Nationals, and won All-Ivies. Yet our financial burden to the University is limited: Our total expenses per athlete are second lowest among women’s sports. Moreover, our alumni donors cover more than half our costs; we currently sit at top five in donor participation across Brown sports. Varsity status appeals to top rider-scholars and provides access to less-privileged athletes by guaranteeing them funding. President Paxson, how will removing a successful, low-cost team make other Brown sports more competitive? 
Sophie Ulene ’20 (Captain) (Women’s Fencing): 
I had the privilege of leading Brown Fencing for its final season. On the strip, we won conference meets and produced NCAA qualifiers. In the classroom, Women’s Fencing was Brown’s only women’s team with a perfect APR score for 15 years straight. While this reallocation of funds may someday produce more wins for Brown athletics overall, the Brown that I love and called home did not define “excellence” merely as “winning.” My Brown works to elevate its students rather than giving up on them. Brown Fencing is — by all definitions of the word — excellent, and I refuse to be its last captain. 
Courtesy of Douglas Ulene Sophie Ulene ’20 (left), a former captain of the women’s fencing team, flèches for the touch.
Toby Cohen ’09 (Men’s Fencing): 
It’s really heartbreaking to see such great programs cut and to have that decision be painted as promoting excellence and diversity — particularly in the case of cutting track while promoting sailing. These teams, largely niche, are more competitive (on the field and off) than some of the more mainstream sports. I came to Brown specifically because of the attitudes of individualism and fearlessness espoused by the Open Curriculum. It’s no coincidence that this decision comes two years after ESPN invests more money in Ivy League football and basketball. Brown is being followers, not leaders, and that’s not the Brown I know.
Kate Esselen ’02 (Women’s Squash):
I chose Brown (over other Ivy League and elite schools) for the squash program, along with the academics and the culture of the school. No single class or experience while at Brown was more meaningful than my participation on the squash team. The only mentor from my undergraduate years that I am still in touch with is our coach, Stuart LeGassick. The culture of hard work, sportsmanship, camaraderie, and commitment to excellent academics he instilled in all of us prepared me for my long journey through medical and business school after Brown. To take this experience away from current and future students is devastating and will be a loss to the entire Brown community.”

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Letter: Brown is Better Off for President Paxson’s Athletics Initiative
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 10, 2020
“To the Editor:
It is highly ironic that contributor Peter Mackie ’59 extolled former President Ruth Simmons when it was her abject decade-long failure to support Brown athletics that has led to President Christina Paxson P’19’s necessary and reasoned initiative. Simmons slashed admissions slots for student-athletes, underfunded the smallest athletics’ budget in the League and increased Academic Index standards beyond those established for Brown by the Ivy League Council. Ever the politician, she decided to reject her own committee’s recommended reduction in sports teams despite Brown having a low endowment and budget relative to the League, as well as inferior facilities. Finally, Brown now enjoys a President who is guided by realities and solid rationales in reviewing and acting upon Brown’s abysmal competitive record within its Ivy cohort. There would have never been a good time to reduce its unsustainable sponsorship of the third highest number of teams in college athletics. President Paxson is willing to make the hard/unpopular decisions when the application of contextual rationales warrant them. And Brown is better off for it!
— Kevin A. Seaman ’69”

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Men’s track, field and cross country reinstated as varsity sports
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 09, 2020
“This article is part of the series Demoted: A Look at the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative
The men’s track, field and cross country teams have been reinstated to the varsity roster, a reversal of their recent demotion to the club level, President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a community-wide email Tuesday night. The other eight teams that were demoted as part of the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative will retain their new club status.  
Paxson wrote that the University chose to reinstate men’s track, field and cross country partially in response to feedback about how cutting the three teams would “have real and lasting implications for efforts to build and sustain diverse and inclusive communities for our students at Brown, and particularly our community of Black students and alumni.” The adverse effects the cuts would have had on the women’s track, field and cross country teams also factored into the decision to reinstate the three men’s teams, she added.
In order to comply with Title IX regulations and a 1998 legal settlement unique to Brown, changes to varsity roster sizes will need to be evaluated in the coming year, Paxson wrote. 
“The reinstatement of men’s track, field and cross country will have implications for the squad sizes of Brown’s varsity teams,” Paxson wrote. “However, we have determined that with some modifications, Brown will be able to remain in compliance with the requirements of the legal settlement and with Title IX for the time being.”
After Paxson announced the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative May 28 and the demotion of men’s and women’s fencing, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s squash, women’s skiing, women’s equestrian and men’s track, field and cross country, athletes from each team jumped into action to petition for their varsity status to be reinstated. A petition specific to reinstating men’s track, field and cross country teams garnered almost 50,000 signatures at press time.
As members of a particularly diverse team within Brown athletics, athletes argued the team’s demotion would negatively impact representation of athletes of color across the entire varsity roster, The Herald previously reported . 
“The original revised roster of varsity sports maintained Brown’s overall diversity in varsity athletics, but we now more fully appreciate the consequences of eliminating men’s track, field and cross country for Black students in our community and among our extended community of Black alumni,” Paxson wrote. 
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. ”

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Community organizations at Brown take a stand for George Floyd
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 08, 2020
“As students continue to take to the streets to protest George Floyd’s death two weeks ago at the hands of a white police officer, University community organizations and members have chosen to speak out and urge action in support of the movement against systemic racism and police brutality.
“Statements are statements. There are limits to what the following words can provide for you by way of emotional support or generative solutions,” the Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC) wrote in an email to their members and in a post to their Facebook page. “We are grieving along with you. We are tired. We are devastated.” The BCSC also listed five resources for getting involved: Movement for Black Lives , Black Visions Collective , the People’s Forum in NYC , African American Policy Forum and how to support local community bailout funds .
The Black Student Union (BSU) released a statement in solidarity with the movement and donated to organizations such as the Black Visions Collective , North Star Health Collective and Reclaim the Block in support of racial justice.
In the past, BSU has focused on “joy and Black healing” to provide an uplifting affinity space for Black students and students of African descent, according to co-president Daneva Moncrieffe ’21. But with demonstrations taking place across the country and University students away from campus, co-president Lauren Wilson ’21 said that BSU is trying to support members remotely.
“We’re talking more about how we can assist them, not just how they can assist this movement,” Wilson said. “We just want to provide them with mental health resources and just other ways to just kind of uplift their own Black communities.”
BSU has also asked non-Black peers to “continue to educate themselves on how to be better allies right now and going forward.” Their statement provided a link to letters to send to family members about anti-Blackness , mental health resources for Black people and other resources including petitions, possible places to donate and social media accounts to follow.
“Place yourself in temporary discomfort to call out the racism and anti-Blackness in your social circles that has kept Black folks in discomfort for centuries,” BSU members wrote.
President Christina Paxson P’19 released a statement in a May 30 community-wide email signed by 20 other University administrators “regarding the racist incidents that continue to cut short the lives of Black people every day.”
“This is historical, lasting and persistent. Structures of power, deep-rooted histories of oppression, as well as prejudice, outright bigotry and hate, directly and personally affect the lives of millions of people in this nation every minute and every hour,” she wrote.
The University will “leverage the expertise of our faculty, staff and students to develop programming, courses and research opportunities designed to advance knowledge and promote essential change in policy and practice in the name of equity and justice.” Future updates providing “opportunities to engage” will be available through Today@Brown, according to the email.
On June 5, the graduate students of the Department of Africana Studies wrote a letter addressed to University leaders, including Paxson, and the University community calling on Brown to take four actions to accelerate efforts to “abolish the police and the carceral state.”
The students urged the University to immediately divest from and sever “all formal contracts and relationships with the Providence Police Department.” They additionally called on the University to disarm and reclassify campus security employees, redirect funds from the Department of Public Safety and from specific programs such as Coffee with a Cop toward “community organizing, collective healing, and reparations in the form of a fund for Black Providence residents displaced by the university.”
In their last University-specific demand, they asked Brown to end its relationship with CEO Warren Kanders ’79, whose military supply manufacturing company, Safariland, has reportedly sold tear gas used on migrants crossing the U.S. border, in addition to other incidents , The Herald previously reported . The students concluded the letter by also calling on Rhode Island leadership to take measures to reduce police power.
Other undergraduate-focused student centers and student groups also emphasized ways students can take action and act as allies.
The Undergraduate Council of Students Executive Board emailed all undergraduates acknowledging the University’s own ties with racism and calling students to action. They asked individuals to learn more about their federal, state-wide and local representation and support “anti-racist legislation” nationally, such as the H.R. 40 Bill, called the  “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.” They have also pledged to match the first $300 donated to the Equal Justice Initiative and provided students with nine other suggestions of places to donate as well as an anti-racist reading list and resources.
Additionally, 10 Asian student groups came together to release a joint statement regarding anti-Black violence. “As non-Black people of color, we are given privileges — and choices born of such privileges — that are often weaponized to further cement this ever-present racial hierarchy in America,” they wrote while linking to education and action resources.
Long Do ’22, Vice President of the Brown-RISD Vietnamese Students Association, which was among the signatories of the statement, believes that although their mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of Vietnamese culture and values, it is implicit that they support all minorities and fight “oppression wherever it’s found.”
Along with many other student groups with majority-white memberships, the Brown College Democrats have voiced their solidarity with all who are impacted by “pervasive systemic racism in our country.” President Jasmine Powell ’22, who is Black, said that their statement was written to “make sure our members were self-reflecting on the privilege that they hold.” They provided followers with a list of actions to support the movement, including the reduction of mandatory minimum sentences.
“It’s not enough to not be racist. You have to be actively anti-racist,” Powell said, adding that the group wanted to “take a stand” by writing their own words rather than “passively” reposting another group’s response.
Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE) is also a majority-white organization, and Incoming Co-Director Dhruv Gaur ’21 believes “the housing system actively works against Black and Brown people.” In order to truly help those experiencing homelessness, Gaur said that HOPE must “actively be advocating for and amplifying the voices of the people we serve.”
In their statement , HOPE wrote that “historically racist housing policies, systematic neighborhood disinvestment, the mass displacement of Black communities, and the criminalization of homelessness are unacceptable.” They also shared educational resources to promote anti-racism , bail funds and actions to take in support of Black lives .
HOPE is part of the Swearer Center for Public Service, which released its own statement of solidarity titled, “Community Engagement Cannot Exist Without Anti-Racism at its Core.” Other centers which released statements in addition to the BCSC and Swearer included the Global Brown Center for International Students, which invited students to share resources for understanding and action on instagram. The LGBTQ Center and U-FLi Center are among other student centers to share information campaigns on their Instagram stories.
While student groups may unify University students under the movement, Moncrieffe from BSU emphasized that confronting racism takes active, individual effort. “Have those conversations with friends and family,” she said, “to better understand the ways that (you) may continue certain racist ideals and anti-Blackness.”
– With additional reporting by Henry Dawson
Correction: A previous version of this article identified Dhruv Gaur as finance chair of HOPE. Gaur was finance chair last fall, but is now incoming co-director of HOPE. The Herald regrets the error.”

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After 13 months of bargaining, graduate students, Brown reach tentative agreement
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 07, 2020
“Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees, the University and the American Federation of Teachers — SUGSE’s union affiliate — reached a tentative three-year agreement for a union contract, Provost Richard Locke P’18 and Dean of the Graduate School Andrew Campbell announced in a community-wide email June 4. This tentative agreement is a first among Ivy League graduate schools.
Brown graduate students voted to form a union with SUGSE in November 2018, The Herald previously reported . SUGSE, the AFT and the University then spent 13 months, beginning April 2019, engaged in negotiations over a union contract. Now that the three groups have reached a tentative agreement, it must be ratified by SUGSE members before the contract is officially enacted.
The National Labor Relations Board, a federal body which works “to assure fair labor practices,” has been considering a proposed rule that would excuse the University and other private universities from any obligation to recognize a graduate student union. If the NLRB had implemented this rule before an agreement between the University and SUGSE had been reached, the University would not have been legally required to continue negotiations, The Herald previously reported . But even if the NLRB implements this rule now, the negotiated three-year contract will still be in effect.
In an email to the student body, Locke wrote, “We are pleased to have successfully reached the point of tentative agreement with SUGSE/AFT.”
The AFT, which, in May, helped Georgetown University graduate workers reach a similar agreement with their university , published a news release June 4 that stated, “The tentative (three-year) agreement, covering more than 1,200 workers, will provide graduate employees with peace of mind and financial relief to chart a path through the coronavirus and economic turmoil upending U.S. higher education.”
A post on the SUGSE website denotes several “contract highlights,” including a “two-semester appointment extension in light of COVID-19 for (third-, fourth-, fifth- and many sixth-year PhD) students,” a $400 bonus for graduate students due to COVID-19-induced financial pressure and relief for graduate-worker parents, including greater health care coverage and access to child care.
The tentative agreement also lays out future stipend increases, updated grievance procedures and limits on the length of graduate students’ work weeks, among other provisions.
The tentative agreement must be ratified by a majority of SUGSE members. SUGSE plans to hold a virtual town hall to discuss the contract June 8, with voting occurring on June 9 and June 10, according to Rithika Ramamurthy GS, SUGSE bargaining committee co-chair.
“The work of the union in the future will be to keep holding the University accountable in terms of how it is employing graduates and implicating graduate workers in terms of reopening the University,” Ramamurthy said. This accountability also extends beyond the immediate practices of the University, as going forward “the union also has power to engage anti-racist initiatives on campus, including divestment from the police, stopping the criminalization of (drug and alcohol) use around campus and maybe parting ways from the Providence cops.”
“I think that people will see what we’ve won, especially the COVID-related wins,” she said, and may want to get involved with the union as a result.”

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Paxson addresses criticism of decision to demote 11 varsity sports
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 07, 2020
“President Christina Paxson P’19 addressed circulating concerns regarding the recent demotion of 11 varsity teams to club status in a community-wide email Saturday, offering greater detail about how the decision was made and the motivation behind it. 
The email follows an outpouring of criticism from student athletes after the announcement of the varsity cuts and the new Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative. Through petitions and online campaigns, athletes organized their communities of peers, parents and alums to stand with them in demanding both reinstatement of varsity status and more transparency from the University. 
Paxson acknowledged the timing of the decision, and expressed remorse for the overlap between the announcement and the death of George Floyd in police custody, which prompted nationwide protests and discourse about racism in our country and its institutions. 
“Unfortunately, there would never be a time to make these decisions that would not have an impact on some group of current student-athletes, new recruits and coaches,” Paxson wrote. “But I never could have imagined the release of the initiative would come on the heels of one of the most heart-wrenching moments in our nation’s history — the death of George Floyd and the illumination of the longstanding problem in this country of anti-black racism — and I am truly sorry for the impact the collision of these circumstances have had on so many in our community.”
The motivation behind the decision was “the result of many factors,” Paxson wrote, driven largely by past conversations with the athletics department about resources “stretched too thinly,” acknowledgements from alumni that there would be benefits to cuts and the findings of a confidential external review in the 2018-19 academic year detailing how to increase competitiveness in athletics. 
The Committee on Excellence in Athletics then conducted a “holistic review” starting in January 2020, that assessed competitiveness, squad sizes, diversity, gender equity, facilities, community affinity and available data. Given each team’s unique circumstances and the proportion of high-achieving teams, “the major consideration was to determine where Brown could focus its efforts to make significant gains in competitiveness,” she wrote.
In considering a team’s competitiveness, the committee evaluated its success in the “overall competitive landscape” of the Ivy League and other peers, she wrote. 
Many community members have critiqued the decision, often expressing particular concern with the demotion of the Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams, arguing that the decision to cut the teams is contrary to the University’s stated intent to increase diversity in athletics. 
The committee considered representation of historically underrepresented groups across the varsity roster, but also examined the “recent success of aggressive recruiting efforts in increasing team diversity, and envisioned an increase in diversity-enhanced recruiting over time,” Paxson wrote. “I have set the expectation that plans be developed in the Department of Athletics for broadening its recruiting strategies in (Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan) Phase II.”
Responding directly to concerns about implications for diversity in athletics, she wrote: “We understand there are critical questions to consider about the potential long-term impact on the Black community at Brown. We are committed to further exploring these important issues in the coming weeks with members of our community, specifically as it relates to men’s track, field and cross country.”
In accordance with the results of Cohen v. Brown University (1998), the University is required to maintain a percentage of women athletes closely proportional to the women student population. This requirement, in part, drove the University’s decision to cut larger men’s teams. The Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams comprise the second largest men’s team, following Football. Maintaining a football team is required for membership in the Ivy League, according to the email.
While “community affinity” was not a determining factor, the committee considered the “capacity of a sport to build interest and engagement throughout the Brown community and therefore build affinity, pride and collegiate loyalty,” Paxson wrote. 
A number of athletes have called upon the University to publicly release the data backing the decision as a measure to increase transparency. While much of the data is available for public viewing already — team records and squad sizes, for example — privacy requirements prohibit the release of data about the diversity and socioeconomic breakdown of teams, she wrote. The operating expense of each team was not a consideration. 
The University will offer opportunities for discussion between Paxson, Athletics Director Jack Hayes and athletes in the coming weeks by way of virtual meetings.
“I remain committed to the decision to reduce the number of teams at Brown, and my hope is to build understanding within our community by providing opportunities to address some recurring questions and explore issues of concern,” she wrote.”

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Paxson testifies on reopening college campuses safely before U.S. Senate Committee
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 07, 2020
“In testimony before the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Thursday morning, President Christina Paxson P’19 outlined essential aspects of any plan to safely reopen college campuses in the fall in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
During the full committee hearing, titled “COVID-19: Going Back to College Safely,” Paxson also answered questions from senators on the role of the federal government in supporting colleges through the pandemic. Paxson said the government will need to address health, economic and other disparities; health plan enforcement mechanisms; necessary financial support for students; liability standards for higher education; and other specific strategies included in plans to safely reopen in the fall. 
In a community-wide email sent Thursday afternoon, Paxson wrote that she “was glad to be able to help build understanding among our country’s leaders of the complicated decisions we are confronting” and the role the government can play in supporting reopening. 
“No campus should open if it can’t do so safely — or if they choose not to do so,” she wrote, “But today, Brown was among institutions representing the position that so much is at stake if schools cannot resume operations that the national government should continue to make resources and guidance for higher education a priority.”
Purdue University President Mitchell Daniels, Lane College President Logan Hampton and Executive Director of the American Public Health Association Georges Benjamin served as witnesses alongside Paxson at the hearing.
How to return safely, and why it’s crucial
Paxson, who joined the hearing through video call, opened her statement by acknowledging the continuing protests against police brutality throughout the nation, and “the pain the country is facing over systemic issues of racial injustice.” 
“In times like these, our colleges and universities play a critical role in building collective understanding and calling for action,” she said. 
Still, as the COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue without a widely-disseminated vaccine — which is unlikely to be available in the fall — Paxson emphasized that the University will only reopen campus if it is safe to do so according to public health guidelines and expertise. “We will not compromise safety,” she said, adding that all plans for the fall must be “science-” and “evidence-based.” 
While Brown has not yet issued an official decision on what the start of the 2020-21 academic year will look like, in her testimony, Paxson outlined elements of the University’s plan in the event that there is at least some on-campus learning in the fall.
These elements include testing all students and employees upon their return to campus and testing for all symptomatic students and employees throughout the year. Random testing of asymptomatic community members to track the prevalence of the disease and contact tracing through both “traditional and technology-enabled” means would also take place, according to her written testimony .
In addition, residence halls would be “de-densified” so that students would live in singles with fewer students sharing bathrooms. Classrooms, libraries and dining halls would be “reconfigured to enable social distancing” and large lectures would take place virtually. The University would also implement a “robust public health education campaign” to ensure students are aware of how to keep each other and the wider community safe, Paxson wrote.
This plan would require coordinating with state and local public health authorities in order to protect students and employees, as well as the local communities University members engage with.
“This work is complex, it is all-consuming, it is very expensive,” Paxson said in her testimony. “But if this is what it takes to make a safe opening possible, it is well worth it. Because there is so much at stake.” 
For now, it remains difficult to predict how safe it will be to reopen campuses in the fall. All colleges can do is “plan for the worst and hope for the best by thinking (through) what we know about the science today,” Benjamin told The Herald in a separate interview.
The University is still considering two other options for the 2020-21 academic year: an entirely remote fall semester or a tri-semester model by which students would enroll in two semesters of the year. Paxson has committed to sharing an official decision on the University’s plans for the fall by July 15, The Herald previously reported .
Importance of federal support
Through any plan implemented for the fall, Paxson highlighted the role the federal government must play to support institutions of higher education in these decisions. She testified that the higher education sector cannot reopen without “continued federal support.”
Universities will need assistance in funding increased financial aid and emergency support for research and graduate positions, Paxson said.
The University’s deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 is estimated to be “significantly larger” than previous years and could range from $100 million to $200 million, The Herald previously reported . And while Brown will be able to weather the increased financial costs and losses prompted by the public health and economic crisis, many other institutions will not, Paxson said in her testimony. 
In a May 29 letter to the U.S. Senate , the American Council on Education and 84 other signed associations and entities estimated that “higher education will require $46.6 billion to address near-term financial needs, including need-based aid for students and costs incurred due to campus closures,” Paxson wrote in her testimony. This figure excludes additional costs for reopening in the fall, such as for testing, tracing and isolation. “Additional assistance should go directly to institutions,” she wrote. 
“We know that state and local health departments are underfunded,” Benjamin told The Herald. “In order for them to provide the support to colleges and do the testing and contact tracing, they’re going to need to be adequately supported.”
Questions from senators: government oversight, supporting students, liability
After all four witnesses gave their statements, they took questions from senators on various elements of reopening campuses safely in the fall.
Committee Chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) began the question portion of the hearing by asking each of the witnesses for their thoughts on the amount of oversight the federal government should have in issuing rules for higher education. He asked Paxson about her goal of testing every student, saying that such widespread testing is neither feasible nor recommended. 
In response, Paxson said that she regards the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “minimum guidelines.” 
Next, Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) asked each president how they plan to “address the alarming health disparities impacting our communities of color” as they think about reopening. People of color and lower-income communities are more likely to be at risk in the face of the novel coronavirus, in part because members in these communities often serve as essential workers and typically have reduced access to health care .
Paxson, who is also an economist, referenced her past studies of health and economic disparities, saying that “issues of inequity are one of the main reasons (colleges) should reopen.” On campuses, institutions of higher education can ensure equal access to education and health services, she said. 
In agreement with Hampton, who asked the federal government to double the maximum award of Pell Grants in his testimony, Paxson said that lower-income and first-generation students must be supported through any financial difficulties so that they can return to campus. In his testimony, Hampton also called for a federal investment of $1 billion in emergency funding to historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities and other institutions serving minorities. 
 
Responding to Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who asked about campus protocols and the enforcement mechanisms universities would implement, Paxson said that all campus guidelines must be uniform, “crystal clear” and “grounded in public health rules.” 
She added that at Brown, it would be communicated that breaking such protocols would constitute a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, but that “ideally,” protocols would be supported not through enforcement, but rather through a campus culture in which students recognize the importance of following the rules to ensure each other’s safety and the health of the wider community.
After asking Daniels about his public plans to protect vulnerable campus workers, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pressed Paxson on the issue of “power and accountability.” Warren cited Paxson’s role as vice chair of the Association of American Universities, which signed a letter urging Congress to implement liability protections for higher education institutions in the case of harm caused by COVID-19 on campuses. Stating that the current law imposes liability on institutions only when colleges have “behaved unreasonably,” Warren asked what message Paxson thought it sent when higher education lobbied Congress to change this standard.
“I do not want protection from being careless,” Paxson responded. “That is not what we’re about. If we’re careless, if we don’t follow guidelines, that is not something that should be protected in any way, shape or form.” 
Still, she said that in this unprecedented situation, many institutions are “very nervous that even if they play by the rules scrupulously, that they will still be subject to lawsuits,” which can be costly and “take money away from financial aid and all the support we provide to our students.” In this vein, Paxson said she supports “very carefully created liability protection” that does not protect careless behavior.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked the presidents the extent to which universities were able to reimburse students for the semester and provide direct relief. 
“We really pulled out all the stops trying to support all students,” Paxson said, citing the University’s provision of E-Gap Funds and other assistance for travel, laptops and internet access, in addition to the waiving of summer earnings requirements for students on financial aid, as examples. The University has also worked with the city of Providence to ensure local high schoolers have internet access, she said. 
While Paxson believed those provisions to be “fairly successful,” she noted that “what we found … is that the needs are continuing, and in some ways, growing.” 
As the national unemployment rate has reached a staggering level and many students find themselves and their families without jobs, “it is very hard to meet that full need,” Paxson said. “We’re getting requests for help for food. That’s where we’re at.”
In response to a question from Sen. Maggie Hassan ’80 P’15 (D-NH) on the financial impact students have faced due to the pandemic and further action required by the U.S. Department of Education, Paxson described how after the 2008 Great Recession, the University increased scholarships by 12 percent to meet all undergraduates’ demonstrated need.
But today, when the unemployment rate dwarfs even the peak rate of the financial crisis, Paxson said that the University is hearing from students whose Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms are no longer accurate representations of their families’ economic circumstances. “We’re having to go back and revisit all of those aid awards,” she said. “We’re in an extraordinary time for students and their parents.” 
Paxson also disagreed with the Department of Education’s decision to exclude Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, veterans and students who have not yet completed FAFSA forms from the assistance allocated toward students in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. 
“I firmly believe that if the point is to protect students who are the future of our country,” then that includes protecting DACA recipients, veterans and first-generation, low-income and undocumented students, Paxson said in response to a question from Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). While the University has not received CARES funding, “our intent would be to support all students as equally as we can.”
Overall, Paxson wrote in her testimony, “efforts at providing relief and support should recognize the unique role of higher education institutions to serve and support a broad and complex population of students, faculty and staff, and do so in as safe a manner as possible.”
“I recognize that the needs of students and employees are extraordinary,” she wrote, “but a full post-pandemic recovery requires a response that’s equally unprecedented.””

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Sinai ’21 and Lee ’21: Put me (back) in, Coach: The suddenness of Brown’s sports cuts needlessly destroys athletic careers
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 07, 2020
“As many may now know, on May 28 Brown University ended the athletic careers of 84 men and 65 women on a roughly six-minute Zoom call. The decision was swift, brutal and incontestable. By removing the varsity status of 11 sports teams without warning, Brown University has abandoned 149 students, including 35 new recruits — and with minimal support. 
While many student-athletes have written in anguish about this decision — justifying why their team, in particular, ought to be preserved — we, the captains of eight of the teams cut, write today to clarify why this decision, no matter the team, was inherently unjust. In addition to its utter lack of respect for our athletic and academic achievements, the University’s decision shows a complete disregard for the futures of students whose careers are governed by NCAA guidelines and bound by personal circumstances. 
In a follow-up call on May 29, the athletic department made clear that these student-athletes only had two options: transfer to another institution or continue their careers at the club level. Unfortunately for most athletes, the transfer deadline for comparable institutions, including those in the Ivy League conference, passed two months ago. Athletes can extend the transfer deadline until June 15, just eight days away, by getting recruited by a new coach. Unfortunately, at this point coaches have committed all their spots for the next one or two years to incoming student-athletes to guarantee the strength of the incoming freshman class. Any collegiate athlete unable to be recruited must now wait over a year before they can compete again. During this waiting period, students will not have access to the varsity weight room, the varsity training room or their sports’ own practice and competition spaces, all vital to the continued peak performance of elite athletes. What’s more, because many students have already started their collegiate careers, this wait will result in a wasted year of NCAA eligibility.
This did not need to be the case. Had the University announced its decision a year or two in advance of enacting the cuts, or even as late as December (as other universities have done in similar situations), current athletes would have had the possibility to apply to transfer, while recruited athletes could have withdrawn from the University or accepted offers from other universities.
Asking elite athletes, some of whom have the potential to become Olympians , to practice and compete at a club level demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of the crucial role collegiate athletics plays in their careers. Club athletics do not offer adequate practice or competition opportunities to allow a varsity athlete to remain at the top of their game. Besides a drastic decrease in support a club athlete receives compared to a varsity athlete, club athletes have significantly reduced opportunities for competition. Strong competitions are not simply a chance for athletes to demonstrate prowess – they also offer many athletes a unique opportunity to enact techniques or strategies, improve their mental toughness and most of all, practice the art of competition itself. For the athletes without existing club sports at Brown, this transition is even harder, as they need to form a competitive club without much university support, if any.
By announcing this decision during a pandemic, Brown University has stranded many student-athletes and coaches in difficult financial situations. Many students will not have the means to consider a transfer and incur the costs of delaying their education a year or relocating to another school. Just as many universities have finalized their student body for the coming year, so too have they filled any open coaching positions, leaving the coaches and staff for the 11 teams without jobs, health insurance and other benefits — at a time when this security is needed most.
Cutting these 11 teams in such an abrupt and callous manner displays a startling lack of respect for the careers of their student-athletes, coaches and staff. During this process, the University has continued to show either a complete disregard for the athletic community or an unrivaled level of incompetence. Neither bodes well for the future of athletics at Brown.
Nathan Sinai ’21 is the captain of men’s fencing and can be reached at nathan_sinai@brown.edu. Naomi Lee ’21 is an incoming co-captain of women’s golf and can be reached at naomi_lee1@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.
Signed ,
Nathan Sinai ’21 (Men’s Fencing)
Anna Susini ’22 (Women’s Fencing)
Naomi Lee ’21 (Women’s Golf)
Pinya Pipatjarasgit ‘22 (Women’s Golf)
Winabel McCabe ’21 (Women’s Golf)
Brittany Park ’21 (Women’s Golf)
Chuck Isgar ’21 (Men’s Golf)
Elena Newman ’22 (Women’s Equestrian)
Hannah Woolley ’21 (Women’s Equestrian)
Alexa Jacobs ’21 (Women’s Squash)
William Glaser ’21 (Men’s Squash)
Maddie McCarthy ’23 (Women’s Ski)”

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Mackie ’59 — An Open Letter to the Brown Community: The Price of Winning
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 06, 2020
“The May 28 announcement arrived without warning — a thunderbolt from above, striking the hearts of legions within the University athletic community. The hand-picked Committee on Excellence in Athletics, composed of seven alumni and trustees chosen in part because of their “capacity to make very difficult recommendations in a fair and objective manner,” had done its work quietly. They worked off the recommendations of an external review group of consultants who claimed to have pinpointed the problem: too many varsity teams for the University’s limited resources. The Excellence Committee reached its recommendations through a process that lacked transparency and inclusion, thereby undermining the ethical obligations Brown has to its student-athletes.
The problem of achieving success for Brown athletics is far from new. It dates back to the first intercollegiate competition in 1859: a crew race with Yale and Harvard. Brown has been chasing them ever since, while also attempting to be competitive with the five other Ivy League schools. For myriad reasons, the Bears have served as the perpetual Ivy League underdogs, which, in a perverse way, makes Brown victory all the sweeter when it does come. To be sure, there have been outstanding individuals and teams, but sustained overall success across the spectrum of sports has proven elusive.
In spite of this history, Brown has always managed to field a large array of varsity teams, as well as robust non-varsity programs. It is somewhat of a miracle that Brown has been able to have the third greatest number of varsity sports nationally, given its position as the “poor cousin” in the Ivy League. In a sense, it is a badge of honor, as is the fact that Brown student-athletes consistently have the greatest academic success in the country.
The pressures to win, however, even at the Ivy level, have been dramatically ratcheting up in the last decade, and voices calling to address Brown’s problems have become louder. A decade ago, University President Ruth Simmons tackled the athletic conundrum. Her approach was an extensive and lengthy review of Brown athletics, headed up by a large and diverse Athletic Review Committee. The process was driven by a thorough examination of a wide range of factors, with data being just one of the rubrics. The initial result included the recommendation that four varsity teams ⁠— Wrestling, Women’s Skiing and Men’s and Women’s Fencing ⁠— be eliminated. But when the dust finally settled, all four teams were retained.
What separates the Simmons initiative from the current investigation was its adherence to Brown’s time-honored principles of inclusion, transparency and openness. Throughout the decision-making process in 2011, the flow of information to the Brown Community was extensive and detailed. As Simmons put it in her June 6, 2011 Letter to the Community : “A thorough process of review and decision-making in which the many points of view are weighed, while unusual and occasionally quite cumbersome, reflects well the spirit of this community that we cherish.” Over the summer and fall, Simmons met with representatives of the sports recommended for elimination.
In stark contrast, the Excellence in Athletics Initiative presents only a brief summary and includes no report from the Committee or its predecessor group. The net result is that the entire process seems heavy-handed. In fairness, it must be said that the Simmons Report was widely criticized for its reduction of athletic slots, some of which have been restored by President Paxson. Regardless, the Simmons Report was a case study in thoroughness and inclusion.
The University only added insult to injury with its timing of the report’s release — it could not have been worse. Brown students have endured a traumatic end of their academic year, separated from all semblance of normalcy. The pandemic and now the protests of racial injustice sweeping the country are ongoing major stressors, not to mention the uncertainty surrounding the forthcoming decision regarding the beginning of the academic year. Meanwhile, Brown is asking the impacted undergraduates and their families to make major life decisions such as transferring or staying at Brown (which would mean stay, but no play), while they are dealing with the loss of their Brown athletic identities. These student-athletes have given unstintingly of their time and talent to represent Brown; they deserve better treatment. The established bond of mutual trust with their college has been broken, with no opportunity offered to defend themselves against this decision.
An additional dimension adds further anxiety to the scenario: High school graduates who have been recruited by University coaches and who have committed to Brown are now left dangling, many with no options to continue their sports elsewhere if they decide not to attend Brown sans sports. At a minimum, Brown’s reputation will certainly be tarnished.
Given this unprecedented context, both external and Brown-created, the best course of action is for Brown to immediately suspend the recommendations of the Excellence Initiative. What is at stake here are serious ethical questions centering on integrity, fairness and justice. These are among Brown’s central core values.
In their recent message to the community, University administrators addressed the topic of Racial Injustice, urging everyone to “continue to care for and support each other, especially in this time when we are apart.” That plea surely applies to all in the University community who are impacted by this momentous decision.
Ultimately, Brown needs to achieve Victory with Honor!
Peter Mackie ’59 is a University sports archivist. He can be reached at peter_mackie@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.”

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Collins – We Suffocate: When Will We Finally Breathe?
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 06, 2020
“To the Brown Community:
I’m sure by now many of you are consumed by what’s been happening here in the United States. For those of you who are in a particularly difficult place because of the racial killings, I’m writing to you. Honestly, I’m writing to me too.
I want to start by saying that these comments are from me and do not represent the faculty of the Brown University Education Department. My name is Professor Jonathan Collins. I’m one of the newest professors in the Education Department. I’m an African American male, and to be honest, every time one of these events happens, a little part of me dies right along with the victim. Racism is one of the most insidious diseases in the world. It infects people, leading them to believe – if just for a minute or even a split second – that another person is somehow less than human, disposable and worthless. It causes people to look at one another as threats and sub-consciously – if not consciously – reach the conclusion that: “The world is a safer place without you because of the color of your skin.”
The currency of racism is fear. Non-Black people are trained to fear black skin. Those of us with black skin are trained to fear the consequences of having it. Those consequences are now folded into the pages of the obituaries of people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and a kid I actually knew personally from childhood: John Crawford III. The most devastating part of it of all, though, is that the fear is not inherent; it is learned. So, when I think back to the period of my life when I was watching John Crawford gleefully running around a YMCA basketball court, it is a time when we, as young boys, never even imagined that I would be writing something like this. We had no idea that fear would burglarize our latent sense of hope.
So, if you’re hurting right now, it’s because you can grasp how devastating it is that these people never get to live their full lives all because of senseless hate and fear. You can imagine the inner turmoil of having to look at the same people who swear to protect and serve and see them as violent monsters, who took away someone you deeply love.  You can imagine the confusion that comes with being told that you are free, while facing the reality that – at any given moment – you could be violently taken away. You can picture what it must be like to one day be lost in the promise that you will be here tomorrow only to find a knee pressed down on your neck.
So, what do we do? Where do we go from here? I chose to study education because it gives me hope. I know that the American education system can, itself, offer the proverbial knee on the neck of Black children. I also know that education can save lives. It can offer pathways out of poverty and neglect. It can help us realize that the proverbial knee is why we suffocate, and it can be a tool we use to work toward its removal.
None of this will happen tomorrow. It might not happen in our lifetimes, but to paraphrase James Baldwin, I am an optimist by virtue of being alive. As long as we are still here, we have a debt to folks like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who were unjustly taken from us. So, I hope that as things return to normal and you find yourself frustrated about an assignment, or a test or some post-graduate opportunity, you revisit this moment and remember that we have a mission – a higher purpose. We need to be the best versions of ourselves. We need to learn to love black skin.
We need to pull that knee off of somebody’s neck.
Thank you for reading, and if you need me, I’m here for you.
In solidarity,
Jonathan E. Collins
Jonathan Collins is an assistant professor in the Department of Education. He can be reached at jonathan_collins@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.”

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‘Not Quite Spring Weekend’ broadcasts musical artists, raises money for COVID relief
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 06, 2020
“Not Quite Spring Weekend, a virtual benefit concert organized by a group of University students, rocked the screens of many via BeLive and Facebook on May 30. The festival comprised 12 student performers and 10 professional acts, which altogether provided students and the public with over 10 hours of original music. 
From the steps of the Blue Room, Ben Stewart ’20, known artistically as folk-pop singer Tetrapod, strummed his guitar in a surgical mask; Bree Zhang ’22 performed a mesmerizing and ethereal piece on the guzheng, a Chinese plucked string instrument. In a pink wig, New Zealand artist Theia danced to splashy electronic beats in front of five sparkling images of Britney Spears; Lily Porter-Wright ’20 strummed powerful and folky ballads, as members of the audience cheered “GO OFF” and “I love this song!!!” in the comment section. 
Shubham Makharia ’21, Anwen Lin ’23, Jack Riley ’23, Katie Baumgarten ’23, Joey Urban ’21, Zach Kapner ’21, Alex Park ’23 and James Bove ’23 organized the virtual concert in response to the cancellation of Brown’s beloved Spring Weekend — a University tradition that dates back to 1950. The team is part of Tunes For Change, a student organization that “puts on benefit shows and student busking drives during the year,” Kapner said. 
Although Not Quite Spring Weekend was neither a part of Tunes For Change nor affiliated with Brown, the group of friends organizing the event sought to continue their organizations’ message virtually. “One of the issues we ran into was that since it’s outside of the Brown calendar it’s not allowed to be a Brown event. So even though the (organizers) are all in Tunes for Change, the event itself is not affiliated with Brown” Lin said. But for that reason, the event was not just open to Brown student listeners “but students everywhere.”
The team started planning their virtual concert in early April after students left campus due to the pandemic. “We started talking about planning some kind of virtual thing. We had seen a bunch of videos on Facebook, on YouTube, lots of folks able to stream and share,” Makharia said. “We knew that Spring Weekend was canceled, so it seemed like a good synergy.” 
All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Entry to the online festival consisted of an early-bird $5 donation or a $7 donation from May 28 onward. The organization ultimately collected a total of $2,100 for the Rhode Island Foundation and COVID-19 Response Fund. 
“It’s kind of a win-win, we’re raising all this money to give to a really great fund and we also get to hear some really cool artists,” Lin said before the festival. “Most of them are performing live and we have student performers too. It’s just a cool community event and I’m really excited to be able to interact with some of these artists.” 
About 180 participants were admitted to the private Facebook group that streamed the festival. Twenty-five performers, including students Chance Emerson ’23 and Zoe Butler ’20 alongside professional artists and groups like DAP the Contract, The Greeting Committee and We Three, streamed live or sent in recorded performances, playing and singing from their bedrooms, basements, garages and more.
“It was fun to play music for people again,” Emerson said, acknowledging that “Livestream concerts are different and arguably harder than playing live because you don’t get much immediate feedback from the audience. Sometimes it can feel like you’re playing to a metal box.” 
“I think my favorite part (of the festival) was Tetrapod and Amelia Chalfant. I think that’s also when the stream was in highest attendance,” Makharia said. “Everyone was just really vibing in the comments. People were really positive and loving. It was cool to see the most attended part was when students were performing, not when the other conventionally larger acts were. People were interested in seeing their friends play, which was really cool to see.” ”

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Skahill ’21: One Team, One Family — Women’s Cross Country, Track & Field Weigh in on Excellence Initiative
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 05, 2020
“On May 28, Brown University revealed that it will cut 11 varsity athletics teams and transition them to club status, effective immediately. The decision, which was made without the knowledge of the University’s head coaches and student-athletes, has been dubbed the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative .
The process by which the administration arrived at this decision, and the manner in which they relayed the news to the Brown community, taints this very standard of self-proclaimed “excellence.” Where the University should have engaged key stakeholders in the decision-making process, the administration chose not to. Coaches and student-athletes – the very individuals whose jobs and athletic careers are on the line – were excluded from participating in the more than year-long decision process that resulted in 11 varsity teams being cut. Instead of trusting coaches and athletes to take part in these tough conversations, the University made a unilateral decision about the future of the athletics program that reeks of paternalism. On the heels of student-athletes losing an entire season of competition due to the pandemic, the timing of Brown’s decision displays a callous disregard for the students and coaches at the heart of its athletics program.
Athletes and coaches affected by these cuts were informed about the termination of their teams the same day that a mass email was sent to all members of the Brown community, showing blatant indifference toward their contributions to Brown and their future athletic careers. The email sent to the Brown community announcing these revisions to the University’s athletics program indicated that the Excellence Initiative is meant to promote gender equity and diversity in addition to bolstering the competitiveness of the remaining varsity teams. Most notably, Brown chose to cut its Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams – two key sources of diversity – while replacing them with Co-ed and Women’s Sailing. In doing so, the University may have succeeded in raising the percentage of female varsity athletes to more closely reflect the percentage of women in the undergraduate student body, but its decision cannot be viewed as a “win” for racial and socioeconomic diversity. Moreover, this decision ends a rich, historic legacy of Track & Field at Brown University that began in 1878 – cutting a team that, in the past 10 years, has produced two Olympians, five sub-four minute milers, and dozens of NCAA national qualifiers.
As members of Brown University’s Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams, we can attest that cutting the Men’s teams not only undermines the racial and socioeconomic diversity that Brown purports to value, but also undercuts the excellence and competitiveness of our own team. Unlike other sports, Track & Field and Cross Country are unique in that women can train with men. We are a joint program. We are coached by the same staff, practice at the same trails and run at the same meets. In cutting the Men’s team, Brown University has robbed us of key training partners – people who push us to be our very best athletic selves, and are some of our closest friends. We are profoundly affected by the loss of our brothers in competition.
A running club is nowhere near the same thing as a collegiate track and field team, and to make such a claim is an insult to our sport. This is the opposite of excellence. To say that the entire varsity track and field team can simply join “club running” is testimony to how indifferent and ignorant the committee was in making this decision. A Track & Field team not only includes distance runners, but also sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and weight throwers – athletes who cannot find a semblance of their sport in “club running.”
So what is Brown’s definition of “excellence”? Clearly, it does not appear to involve open and transparent dialogue. For the University, it appears that “excellence” hews closer to winning at all costs with no regard for the coaches and students whose hopes, aspirations and livelihoods are intertwined with the athletics program.
Whatever Brown’s definition of excellence, one thing is clear: If the Excellence Initiative’s commitment to “provide equal opportunities to men and women,” “advance the ideal of the scholar athlete” and “enhance diversity on teams,” held an ounce of truth, Men’s Track & Field would not be losing its varsity status.
Emily Skahill ’21 concentrates in Public Policy and is a member of the Women’s Cross Country, Track & Field teams. She wrote this article on behalf of the Women’s team, with input and commentary from several members of the team. She can be reached at emily_skahill@brown.edu . Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.
Kate Alvarez ’23
Maggie Baker ’23
Hanna Barakat ’21
Isabela Bartczak ’22
Flynn Begor ’23
Mary Bibbey ’22
Hannah Butler ’21
Jae Crawford ’22
Arielle Desir ’22
Katherine Dokholyan ’22
Lily Dumas ’23
Maddie Frey ’22
Ally Hajda ’21
Emily Kompelien ’22
Emma Madgic ’23
Ali Martinez ’22
Erin McMeniman ’22
Emily Moini ’23
Ify Ofulue ’23
Lola Olabode ’21
Bailey Pate ’21
Sarah Reichheld ’23
Felicia Renelus ’21
Sydney Scott ’22
Emily Skahill ’21
Maya Smith ’22
Lauren Stern ’22
Shira Stoller ’22
Margaux Terrasson ’23
Katherine Treanor ’21
Ijeoma Uche ’21
Samantha Valentine ’21
Serena Varner ’22
Kennedy Waite ’23
Gracie Whelan ’21
Amy Willig ’23”

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As Brown students await fall 2020 decision, class pre-registration postponed
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 04, 2020
“The University announced on Wednesday that pre-registration for Fall 2020 for both undergraduates and graduate students has been postponed to early August, allowing students to register after President Christina Paxson P’19 has made a decision about how the next academic year will move forward. The twice postponed registration period had been scheduled for June 15-20. 
The University is still considering three different scenarios for the next academic year, including a completely remote fall, a typical on-campus semester, or a three-semester school year with shorter Fall, Spring and Summer sessions.
The Herald previously reported that Paxson would announce the decision in an email “no later than July 15.”
In all three scenarios for next fall, classes would resume in September either online, in-person or in some combination. Consequently, students will have around a month between pre-registration and the beginning of classes — less time than the usual six months that students have during regular academic years.
This marks the second time that pre-registration has been delayed since the University transitioned to remote learning in March. Pre-registration for the fall semester is usually scheduled to take place in mid-April. 
Offerings for both Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 will be removed from the website on June 16. According to the announcement, items in students’ Primary Cart will also be removed. Prior to June 16, students will receive an email with the contents of their cart and will need to “rebuild the cart” after the system is reset, re-entering any relevant override codes, including those that had already been approved. Courses for next semester will then be posted after the University announces the plan for the coming 2020-2021 academic year.
Dean of the College Rashid Zia ’01 and Dean of the Graduate School Andrew G. Campbell also announced that changes will be made to the current pre-registration system to “improve this process for all students,” in the community-wide email announcing the delay Wednesday.
Zia and Campbell announced that changes will be made to the pre-registration system in order to improve the system and “to accommodate the needs of our expansive global community.” More information will be released leading up to pre-registration in August.
Online pre-registration has long been a woe to University students. In 2008, just two years after Banner’s conception (the precursor to Course@Brown), The Herald reported students attempted to create a computer program to automatically register for classes . Subsequently, administration at the time warned that the action was a violation of University policy.
In a UCS meeting last fall , Zia described possible plans for redesigning pre-registration. At the time, he stated the importance of a new system allowing all students equal access to spots in courses. 
Students will be able to give “advice and feedback” for improving pre-registration through a google form that was linked in the announcement email.”

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COVID-19 reshapes students’ summer plans
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 04, 2020
“Earlier this year, Ryan Silverman ’23 had planned to spend his summer conducting research supported by his Undergraduate and Teaching Research Award. But due to restrictions posed by COVID-19, his research project in a bioelectronic lab quickly became infeasible.
Instead, following the cancellation of his research this summer, Silverman will do manufacturing work in an elastic string factory.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now,” he said. “Everyone just wants certain answers but no one could give them.”
For many students, the end of finals and the start of summer typically means the start of internships or jobs, research projects or other opportunities that may serve as a step toward post-graduate employment or further education. But like many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended summer opportunities — at worst, forcing program cancellations and otherwise necessitating shifts in the programs’ formats — leaving many students uncertain about the shape of their summer plans.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, Zixi Zhu ’20 planned to spend her summer in Providence as a student venture founder participating in the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship’s Breakthrough Lab , an eight-week accelerator program that supports student entrepreneurs developing high-impact ventures. But in April, Zhu learned that B-Lab would be held virtually this summer.
While glad that the program is still happening, Zhu expressed disappointment about losing an in-person experience that would promote collaboration and inspiration. “For me, the frustrating thing is that the co-working space is not happening anymore, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to apply to B-Lab,” she said. “I would want to have a community and have a desk somewhere that’s not in my bedroom.”
Nishanth Kumar ’21 has also had to adjust his travel and internship plans in light of the pandemic. While his internship with Uber Advanced Technologies Group in Toronto has been moved online, Kumar said he feels fortunate that the internship was not canceled and that he will receive the same employment benefits.
But after his internship, Kumar planned to travel home to India to unite with his family, a plan that is no longer possible due to international travel restrictions.
The fallout of the pandemic has also made Kumar think more about his post-graduate plans and consider graduate school as “more of a likely option.”
Artificial intelligence “technologies could have been used much more in this crisis to help people,” he said. “I think that’s been very interesting and am excited to continue with the research in the field to help with things like this in the future.”
Lisa Li ’23 first interviewed for a health consulting agency based in Beijing in January, but she did not definitively find out whether or not she had been hired until May. When the company moved off-site in April, the company told Li, who has returned home to Beijing, that it was still actively considering her, she said.
But as the threat of the novel coronavirus’ spread in China died down in the spring, Li said she finally heard from the company that they had hired two remote interns, but could not take on a third intern to work on-site.
With no official internship position set up for the summer, Li said she plans to develop her skill set by taking online courses, beginning to prepare for standardized testing post-graduate requirements and looking into social science research opportunities. She applied for a faculty research SPRINT award sponsored by CareerLab, and has yet to hear back.
She noted how several of her friends who find themselves in similar situations — with no official plans for the summer — have dedicated themselves to working on collaborative projects that are “interesting” and have “an impact,” such as podcasts discussing international politics and individual activism in support of the ongoing protests against anti-Black police brutality and racism in the United States.
John Wrenn MS’18 PhD’21, who will conduct research in computer science this summer, discussed the potential changes and challenges he may face in facilitating that research in light of the pandemic. Wrenn said that the research will still take place, either in person or remotely, and his team still plans to hire more undergraduate research assistants.
But his concern lies largely in the impact social distancing measures will have on a collaborative work environment. “The (Computing and Information Services building) continues to be pretty empty this summer,” he said. “We might still be able to get the work half … done; it’s just … everything else that makes the work much more pleasant to do.”
Emily Belt ’22 planned to spend her summer in Boston while participating in the Diverse Investors Student Experience program at Fidelity Investments, a 10-week internship designed to help college sophomores develop skills needed to work in the financial service industry. But a few weeks ago, Belt received a notification from the program informing her that it would be held remotely and for one week shorter. Luckily for her, the program maintained that despite moving to a remote format, she will be paid the same rate, work on similar projects and receive the same benefits.
Still, Belt said that she is disappointed that she won’t be able to work with other student participants in an office setting. “I think it’s really nice to be able to work with students your age … because we are learning at the same time,” she said, adding that doing the program remotely means she won’t have the opportunity to explore Boston with her peers after a day at work.
Belt added that the virtual format of the program also limits opportunities to network with other colleagues and senior staffers, and working at home can be a more isolating experience.
Overall, Belt said that the public health and economic crisis has changed her outlook on how she approaches life. Coming out of the pandemic, she said she wants to “just not … take anything for granted and take more chances. You never know when all the things you cherish are going to be taken away. It makes me want to live my life more meaningfully when I’m out of quarantine.”
— Kayla Guo contributed additional reporting”

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From the Brown Women’s Squash Team: President Paxson, Why Aren’t We Excellent?
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 04, 2020
“Who We Are
We are two of five rising juniors on the Brown Women’s Varsity Squash team. We spent upwards of 10 years training with hopes of playing squash at a collegiate level. We have dedicated 20 hours a week for 25 weeks a year to train, travel and compete. At the same time, we are dedicated students deeply engaged in research, volunteering and campus life.
On Thursday, May 28 at 12:05 p.m., all student athletes were notified by email of an imminent Zoom call in which Jack Hayes, Brown’s athletic director, announced the University’s decision to cut 11 varsity teams and transition them to club status. Shortly after, the entire study body received an email from President Christina Paxson P’19, which announced this change as a part of the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative. The day following their initial announcement, affected student athletes were invited to participate in a Zoom “discussion” in which the only topic discussed was how former varsity athletes could transfer. By treating student-athletes as easily transferable, Brown revealed to us that any student can be viewed as dispensable. President Paxson and the athletic department broke the hearts of 150 varsity athletes and their families, and they communicated their decision in a manner void of compassion, respect and decency.
One of the initiative’s goals is “to advance the ideal of scholar-athletes who embrace excellence in academics and in their sports.” The biting words in Paxson’s email insinuated that the 11 cut teams do not embody “excellence.” As members of the Women’s Squash Team, this statement was a slap in the face. We can attest that our team’s athletic and academic achievements do indeed meet the standard of excellence that the initiative claims to pursue.
Why we embody “excellence”
President Paxson listed six principles that guided the committee’s decision to support the “excellence” initiative. By exploring just three of these principles, we can explain how our team already embodies the excellence she purports to pursue.
1. Enhancing the quality of the student experience in athletics
 
 
The Brown women’s squash team is a tight-knit group of 15 women among whom only eight are recruited athletes. As a team, we exceed not only the Brown academic index (the GPA and SAT/ACT standards for the university) but also the average academic standards of the entire university. Our average academic index for the past nine years has approached an estimated 230 (for reference this is a 1530 SAT and a 4.0 unweighted GPA), while Brown University’s average SAT score was 1485 in 2018. Out of 15 women, we had six undergraduate TA’s this past year in Economics, Biology, Computer Science, Engineering and Public Health. All six of our upperclassmen won the College Squash Association scholar athlete award, with Brown receiving more awards than any other Ivy . The members of our team embody the ideals of a student-athlete that Brown should be pursuing. We perform on the court, excel in our classes and are nationally recognized for the integrity of our character.
While our team thrives because of our common academic and extracurricular goals, it is the captain’s practices, hill sprints, lifting regimes, recovery sessions, bus rides, matches and tournaments that bind us together. We are all academically motivated individuals who are passionate about things other than squash. However, the strength of our team lies in the intensity of our shared athletic goal: a varsity athletic goal. We train to play our sport at the highest level and beat some of the best teams in college squash.
The result of an outstanding group of women with a strong common goal is an incredibly high quality of the student experience in athletics. Brown squash recruits have such a positive experience in Brown athletics that they do not quit; no recruits have dropped the team in the last three years. Other teams which were not cut have lost as many as 13 recruits over the same time period, drawing the consistency of this new initiative into question. The Brown Women’s squash team enhances Brown by being leaders in our classes, the clubs that we participate in, the organizations we volunteer for and the research we conduct.
 
2. Sustaining reasonable support for the pursuit of excellence
 
The Brown Women’s squash team is close to being budget-neutral for the Athletic Department between its endowment and successful fundraisers, and the position of our head coach, Stuart LeGassick, is also specifically endowed. Both our men’s and women’s teams are ranked top 15 nationally out of over 50 programs. Our men’s and women’s teams receive four recruiting spots collectively each year while roughly 90 percent of schools in the College Squash Association receive six to 10 spots, but that has not stopped us from having extremely close, 5-4 matches with the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Columbia and Cornell. We have no international players, who tend to play at a professional level, and a fraction of the recruiting spots, yet we outperform most schools in the league and compete at a level comparable to five out of eight Ivies.
Moreover, both the men’s and women’s teams have won sportsmanship awards in the past 5 years, a testament to our team’s integrity. Based on our record of sportsmanship awards, we are nationally recognized as one of the most highly regarded teams in college squash. Overall, despite the fewer resources allotted to us, we embody the pursuit of excellence.
3. Building a stronger University community with a focus on affinity, pride and collegiate loyalty.
 
 
Our team supports the strongest of communities consisting of our tight knit alumni network and our supporters within the Brown student body. Brown squash produces alumni who in the past five years have gone on to work at Microsoft, NASA, Google, Facebook, AliBaba and many other prominent companies. Our recent alumni have studied at Brown graduate schools, Harvard Law School, Dartmouth Medical School, MIT graduate schools and have been named as Schwartzman Scholars. Our alumni have linked a large portion of their success to the lessons they learned playing on the varsity squash team. Isabel Pitaro ’16 and former captain of the Women’s Squash team said herself, “without my experience in Brown squash, I would not have been prepared to serve as Editor-in-Chief of Harvard Law School’s Business Law Review or for a career leading teams advocating for the rights of others.” Squash is a lifelong sport. Our alumni’s love of squash keeps them actively engaged in the Brown alumni network.
Our squash teams — along with other “smaller” sports — bridge the gap between student-athletes and students not associated with a sports team. Because we are such a small team, our friends are primarily non-athletes, and our friendships soften many students’ gut-disapproval of recruited athletes. Brown students know Brown squash players personally, and it only takes one home match, and one posting of standing-room-only bleachers in “Pack the Pizz” on social media, to see the strength and volume of our support. We, as squash team members, recognize and appreciate all parts of the Brown community, and we receive great support in return.
What we hope
The Men’s and Women’s Squash teams demand Brown recognize us as varsity athletes, as each of us is already “the bright and passionate student who embraces excellence both in academics and also in their sport” that President Paxson hopes the “excellence” initiative will cultivate. The decision-making by the Committee on Excellence in Athletic’s hired consultants not only failed to be comprehensive, but also was incredibly shallow — treating Brown Athletics like an economy of machines rather than an organization made of and sustained by student-athletes.
In addition to our call for Brown to recognize us as varsity athletes because of the excellence we embody, we also warn Brown that the ramifications of this decision extend beyond those we have outlined. Brown has sent a message that it does not value its student-athletes, coaches or athletic staff, and an institution that does not value the people in its athletic program will never be able to recruit deep athletic talent. Prospective student athletes will look upon Brown with a lingering suspicion that their sport may be eliminated next. We demand Brown University, in its own interest for the pursuit of excellence, reinstate Brown Squash as a varsity sport.
We encourage members of the other 10 cut varsity teams who were affected by Brown’s “excellence initiative” to also share their stories.
Abby Dichter ’ 22 and Sara Syed ’ 22 are members of the Brown Women’s Squash team. Abby can be reached at abigail_dichter@brown.edu , and Sara can be reached at sara_syed@brown.edu . Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.”

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From the Captains and Supporters of 11 Cut Varsity Teams: Is Brown Ever True?
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 04, 2020
“Last Thursday, Brown University announced its decision to cut 11 varsity teams as part of the “Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative.” This change, guided by the advice of consultants, means former varsity teams will lose all recruiting spots, trainers, athletic department tutors and coaches — effective immediately. Club teams will now swell in size without official tryouts, while having their budgets slashed. As captains of the 11 cut teams, we write to expose the distressing process by which we were informed of these cuts, as well as to describe the consequences for our current and recruited athletes. We therefore call for the University to delay this decision by one year.
The decision was announced in a shocking manner. On May 28, the students of soon-to-be cut varsity teams received an email on behalf of Brown Athletic Director Jack Hayes, asking us to join an important Zoom webinar. We tuned into Zoom to see a message from Mr. Hayes, announcing that Brown had cut 11 varsity sports: men’s track and field and cross country, men’s and women’s squash, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s fencing, women’s equestrian and women’s skiing. We were ambushed. Just 10 minutes later, an email was sent to the entire school, in which President Christina Paxson P’19 stated the University’s vision for “excellence” in varsity athletics. The harsh words in President Paxson’s email insinuated that the 11 cut teams do not embody such “excellence,” yet no concrete definition of excellence was given. No student-athletes or coaches were informed of any decisions prior to this nine-minute webinar with the athletic director.
In the Brown Athletics mission statement, the University claims it is “committed to sustaining one of the most wide-ranging NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for men and women” in concordance with their commitment to deep and broad educational opportunities. Yet the excellence initiative works to reduce the size of the sports program by cutting 11 teams. This mission statement also claims the athletic program teaches students to “conduct themselves with honesty and integrity … while developing a commitment to teamwork and service to the community.” However, Brown used a small, private committee that gathered no input from affected teams, to make a decision that has left the community heartbroken. In addition, Brown delivered this message in a wholly insensitive way. As an institution, Brown has taken many steps to instill in us the fundamental values of integrity, honoring commitment and respecting our community, yet by relaying this information to us in such a way, the administration has gone against their core principles as representatives of such a prestigious school.
The decision not only impacts current student-athletes, but also incoming students, who are eager to contribute to Brown’s athletic community. A total of 35 incoming recruited student-athletes turned down offers from other renowned institutions to attend Brown. As mentioned on the athletics administration’s Zoom call to discuss transfer options, as a result of the timing of this decision, these athletes either have to take a gap year in order to transfer to another school or give up their dream of ever playing a D1 collegiate sport. Current students will similarly have to take a gap year in order to transfer if they want to play four years of varsity sports, preventing them from graduating on time. Coaches will become unemployed immediately, without any chance to plan for their future job search.
We deserve an explanation. In order to prevent these avoidable consequences, we are asking for this decision to be delayed by one year. This will allow incoming athletes the chance to play for Brown as was promised. It would also allow all athletes to compete while seeking options to transfer. Finally, it would offer coaches time to prepare themselves, and their families, for the next step in their careers. Due to the covert decision-making process, we are also asking for a transparent report of how this decision was made.
With the advice of “outside consultants,” our athletic careers were ended in an instant by members of Brown’s appointed committee. Our only severance was advice on how to leave the school. Through this decision-making process, Brown deceived us, used faulty information to judge our teams and showed us we are expendable after stripping us of our passion. These actions do not exemplify the values that make Brown such a special institution. We believe that in the time of a global pandemic and righteous protests, although this decision for college sports is far less important, it is crucial that we as a community take steps to act as one, rather than act disjointedly. Thus, we urge Brown University to uphold our requests to bring this community back together.
Until then, 150 former student-athletes are left feeling unvalued, and the remaining 750 are left wondering who’s next.
Alexa Jacobs ’21 and Catherine Kimmel ’21 are incoming captains for Brown Women’s Squash. Maximo Moyer ’21 is an incoming captain for Brown Men’s Squash. Alexa can be reached at alexa_jacobs@brown.edu , Catherine can be reached at catherine_kimmel@brown.edu and Maximo can be reached at maximo_moyer@brown.edu . Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com .
Your former varsity athletes,
Hughes Benjamin (Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field), Bretram Rogers (Men’s Track and Field), Calvin Perkins (Men’s Track and Field), Joseph Grula (Men’s Track and Field), David Scherrer (Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field)
Maximo Moyer (Men’s Squash), William Glaser (Men’s Squash), JP Champa (Men’s Squash), Andrew Wei (Men’s Squash), Alexa Jacobs (Women’s Squash), Catherine Kimmel (Women’s Squash)
Winnie McCabe (Women’s Golf), Naomi Lee (Women’s Golf), Pinya Pipatjarasgit (Women’s Golf)
Chuck Isgar (Men’s Golf)
Lauren Reischer (Equestrian), Hannah Woolley (Equestrian), Elena Newman (Equestrian), Maya Taylor (Equestrian)
Anna Susini (Women’s Fencing)
Nathan Sinai (Men’s Fencing)
Maggie Beardsley (Skiing), Maddie McCarthy (Skiing)
 
Supporters: 
E.J. Perry (Senior Football)
Cal Flanders (Senior Football)
Tamenang Choh (Captain Men’s Basketball)
Gracie Whelan (Captain Women’s Track and Field)
Samantha Valentine (Captain Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field)
Hannah Butler (Captain Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field)
Felicia Renelus (Captain Women’s Track and Field)
Ijeoma Uche (Captain Women’s Track and Field)
Erin Schafer (Captain Women’s Lacrosse)
Maggie Fowler (Captain Women’s Lacrosse)
Allison Lanzone (Captain Women’s Lacrosse)
Sydney Cummings (Captain Women’s Soccer)
Sara Bermudez (Captain Women’s Soccer)
Cameron Brown (Captain Women’s Soccer)
Karina Wang (Captain Women’s Rugby)
Joe Lomuscio (Captain Baseball)
Collin Garner (Captain Baseball)
Madi Cranford (Senior Softball)
Grace Ladd (Senior Softball)
Kat Clum (Junior Softball)
Lexi King (Women’s Field Hockey)
Kelly Raymond (Women’s Field Hockey)
Anna Kaneb (Women’s Field Hockey)
Abby Nearis (Captain Women’s Hockey)
Maddie Fouts (Senior Women’s Hockey)
Gus Hirschfeld (Captain Men’s Crew)
Thomas Phelps (Captain Men’s Crew)
Riley Pestorious (Captain Men’s Swimming and Diving and Herald Editorial Page Board Member)
Alex Park (Captain Men’s Swimming and Diving)
Reid Arwood (Captain Men’s Swimming and Diving)
Victoria Center (Senior Women’s Swimming and Diving)
Individual Members of Women’s Swimming and Diving
Rose Domonoske (Captain Gymnastics)
Mei Li Costa (Captain Gymnastics)
McKenna Dale (Captain Women’s Basketball)
Dominique Leonidas (Captain Women’s Basketball)
William Mims (Senior Men’s Soccer)
Kaitlyn Cook (Senior Women’s Water Polo)
Adam Fuller (Senior Men’s Water Polo)
Aidan Reilly (Senior Men’s Water Polo)
Serena Irwin (Captain Women’s Crew)
Addie Dahl (Captain Women’s Crew)
Camila Meyer-Bosse (Captain Women’s Crew)
Courtney Kowalsky (Senior Women’s Tennis)
Teddy Van Eck (Senior Men’s Tennis)
Ching Lam (Senior Men’s Tennis)
Gabrielle Moriconi (Captain Volleyball)
Paris Winkler (Captain Volleyball)”

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Perkins ’22, Maloney ’22: A Statement of Sentiment by the Brown Men’s Track and Field Team
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 03, 2020
“Last week, the Brown Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams were completely blindsided and told that, effective immediately, we must “cease training, competition, and related operations at the varsity level” as part of an “Excellence Initiative” — an insulting description for a plan that centered around eliminating 11 varsity sports . We are writing to explain how the Brown Cross Country and Track and Field programs have been affected by this new initiative. We hope to share our thoughts on how callously the implementation of this initiative was handled and the helpless position in which the University has put its dedicated student-athletes and incoming recruited freshmen.
At 12 p.m. on May 28, the Men’s Track team received a vague email titled “IMPORTANT” inviting us to join a webinar with the Athletic Department. At 1 p.m., Director of Athletics Jack Hayes hosted a Zoom webinar lasting roughly five minutes where he apologized for cutting teams as part of a new “excellence” initiative. This webinar had no options for attendees to ask questions or speak. We were told that the University would help us in the transition to club status, which would eliminate virtually every element of a Division I experience that we cherish, including facilities, coaching and high-level competitive opportunities. We were also told the University would assist us in transferring schools if desired. However, that option is off the table for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year as the transfer deadline has already passed.
Initially, we were stunned and could not fully comprehend what was happening due to the vagueness of Hayes’ comments. Not once did he explain why this was being done, or how this decision had been reached. In the hours that followed, we had a team meeting hosted by Coaching Chair Tim Springfield who told us that the Athletic Department had informed the coaching staff just moments before the athletes. Later in the day, the University released a school-wide email and a website detailing the new initiative, both of which still lacked information detailing the rationale behind this decision (other than saying that Brown wants to improve its sports and that removing track and field and cross country would somehow enable them to do so).
While we still do not fully know why Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field were chosen to be eliminated, it seems clear that Men’s Track is the University’s sacrificial lamb to comply with Title IX. We find this to be a disgrace to both the University’s values and the original purpose of the legislation. The true intent of Title IX was to substantially increase diversity and accessibility in athletics. But the Men’s Track and Field team has one of the highest representations of people of color of any sports team at Brown. Track and Field serves as a vehicle that allows many underprivileged, low income and/or first generation students to attend this Ivy League university and further themselves in ways otherwise impossible. By cutting a racially and socioeconomically diverse sports team with few “pay-to-play” barriers to entry, Brown University is removing a critical component of its community that promotes diversity and inclusivity. Having to process this upsetting news during a time of mourning and protest just adds insult to injury. Despite Brown’s alleged commitment to these progressive ideals, it has now become  very apparent that its true motives and priorities don’t align with such public image campaigns.
Though the University suggests the initiative will strengthen the remaining teams, the decision to take the men’s squad out of the equation in the name of “competitiveness” is completely blind to how the women’s and men’s teams’ successes are interconnected.  The Track and Field team here at Brown has a unique culture: Our men and women train together as a cohesive unit under the same coaches, bringing us together as training partners, competitors and friends. The ostensible cost-saving benefits of cutting our team do not outweigh the enormous loss that the Women’s team, in both their training and their culture, is now suffering, as they detail in their own op-ed . Rather than simply eliminating the “men’s team,” Brown is dealing a severe blow to the collective Track and Field team.
What is perhaps most appalling is that Brown has marketed the removal of a program with a 145-year history of success as being in the pursuit of “athletic excellence.” We find this to be incredibly disingenuous. The Men’s XC/T&F program has produced Olympians and NCAA All-Americans across multiple events and shown numerous instances of team success in recent years (5th place team finish at the 2018 North East Cross Country Regional, and 3rd place team finish at the 2018 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships). Less than a month ago, Brown named 20 outstanding senior athletes who have made significant contributions to their sport and university alike, 20 percent of whom were track and field athletes. Alienating our program to foster the creation of winning and “excellence” elucidates how hollow the promises of this plan truly are.
Despite the impact of this decision, it was made by a few individuals behind closed doors without consulting those affected. The initiative was then executed with no forewarning and with no explanation despite reportedly having been in the works for nearly the past two years, according to Hayes. The fact that such a decision was released during a pandemic further harmed the mental health of student-athletes that were already adversely affected by this worldwide crisis. Additionally, by waiting until after the transfer deadline to announce such a decision, the University has conveniently forced members of Brown Men’s XC/T&F to pay full tuition for the upcoming school year without the opportunity to compete in collegiate XC/T&F — something we never signed up for.
The University’s actions have shown the men of Brown XC/T&F that we are worthless in their eyes. Our futures have been pushed aside to pave roads for some nebulous concept of “athletic excellence,” totally undermining and devaluing our identities and efforts as athletes of this University. In addition, the incoming recruits have been robbed of, at the very least, their first year of collegiate athletics. Many of these talented individuals could have chosen to go to nearly any other school they wanted but chose Brown, being assured they would be supported in their academic and athletic endeavors. The University has embarrassed our coaches who must now confront these athletes and explain this absurd news.
It is unfathomable that the University and President Christina Paxson are able to relegate recruited and hard-working varsity athletes to club status. For nearly our entire lives, much of our day-to-day time and focus has been this sport; our identities as XC/T&F athletes have now been wholly undermined due to quick and apathetic decision-making. Brown’s only reconciliation for our team is the “running club” at Brown, highlighting the decision makers’ lack of consideration and knowledge of the sport. Members of our jumps, sprints and throws squad are completely left out, as their events require unique forms of training and practice. Participation in a running club offers neither coaching nor opportunities for these dedicated athletes to compete in the crafts that they have spent years of their lives perfecting.
The men and women of Brown XC and T&F have been devastated by this initiative and are asking for your help in fighting to overturn this decision. We believe that if this decision stands, it will set a dangerous precedent of universities having little to no obligation to their student-athletes’ careers and well-being. We are building broad support and asking for your help in showing President Paxson, Director Hayes and the Board of Trustees that the community stands with us.
Ever True,
The Men of Brown University Cross Country and Track and Field
Calvin Perkins ’22 and Numan Maloney ’22 are members of the Men’s Track and Field Team. Calvin can be reached at calvin_perkins@brown.edu and Numan can be reached at numan_maloney@brown.edu . The Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams request that you send messages of support to savebrownxctf@gmail.com .   Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com .”

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Letter: To the Class of 2020 from President Christina Paxson P’19
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 01, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Dear Class of 2020,
I hope you are embracing your graduation as a moment of tremendous accomplishment and celebration. And my greatest hope for all of you is that the difficult months of this pandemic prove to be a footnote to a life full of meaning and joy. 
I know it may not feel like it today, but I expect that when you look back on your time at Brown, 10, 20, 30 years from now, you will recall much more than the last fews months of your senior spring. You will recall the classes you struggled in and the classes you aced, and the professors who inspired you. You’ll reflect on the calls you missed from your parents or families because you were out living your lives, and of course the calls you wish you had taken from them at difficult times when they would have had precious advice to give. For some, you’ll remember protests and activism, and for others, you’ll remember the difference that you made in the lives of your friends and your communities in other ways. Most of all, you will recall the deep friendships you made, many of which will endure for a lifetime.
What I hope you’ll remember most is that this was your Brown. It was what you made of it. And don’t let the pandemic take that away from you. 
None of us knows what the next several months or the next year will bring, but one thing I know with absolute certainty is that you will make your own marks in this world. And Brown will be here for you. We celebrate you, and we hope to see you back on campus in spring 2020 for Commencement. You are forever a part of the Brown community.   
Ever true.  
Christina H. Paxson”

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Gaur ’21 and Lee ’20: UFB’s pandemic response fails our communities
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 01, 2020
“Following Brown’s closure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 16 Brown student organizations called on the Undergraduate Finance Board to donate unused funds from these organizations’ annual budgets to mutual aid efforts to support members of both the Brown and Rhode Island communities. On May 20, outgoing UFB Chair Julian De Georgia ’20 wrote an op-ed explaining why UFB would not allow student organizations to access their unused funds. De Georgia’s response was incomplete, misconstruing important facets of the student organizations’ requests and ignoring important context regarding UFB’s operations. As student leaders of Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere — one of the University’s largest community-engaged organizations — we believe it necessary for us to respond and set the record straight.
We acknowledge the unique position UFB finds itself in: As an organization whose decision-making is, in normal times, determined by strict adherence to policy and precedent, this pandemic presents new challenges. In addition, we appreciate and celebrate the important efforts made by the current UFB leadership to increase transparency in the body’s dealings. We continue, however, to advocate for change not because we see UFB members as callous and unconcerned individuals, as De Georgia suggests, but because — just like De Georgia and his colleagues — we believe that UFB can and must better serve our community. Improving accountability within the Brown student body means calling one another out when our actions fall short of our intentions, no matter how good those intentions may be. And UFB’s actions, despite great progress, continue to fall short of the responsibility that the Brown student body entrusts in the organization during these unprecedented times.
The burden of COVID-19 has not been shouldered equally; the pandemic has revealed the deep inequities embedded within both the Providence and Brown communities. In requesting that UFB allow our student organizations to donate our unused funds, we requested an exemption to help aid those community members most vulnerable to the virus and its social and economic fallout.
Within the greater Providence community, we sought to donate to community partners who are serving housing-insecure and low-income communities, those most threatened by a virus spread through contact. Many vulnerable communities in Providence and Rhode Island benefit greatly from the services provided by student-run, community-engaged organizations. We have already seen specific gaps left by the lack of Brown students’ involvement in these crucial community-engaged activities. Because of the pandemic, Providence community members experiencing homelessness are no longer served by the nighttime outreach conducted by HOPE. Students at William D’Abate Elementary School cannot receive enriching after-school tutoring from Brown students through Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring. Brown students working through the Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Education Program can no longer provide local high schoolers the opportunity to connect with the outdoors while conducting important environmental science and justice learning.
If Brown students can’t give our time and energy to our neighbors, one of the best ways our student body can support our larger community is through financial contributions. We should continue to think creatively about supporting our community virtually, but we, as privileged members of the greater Providence community, should also embrace a responsibility to support our neighbors financially. The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated — by providing resources like food, water and shelter, this money can literally save lives.
These contributions will, we acknowledge, require an ongoing re-evaluation of the role of UFB. De Georgia cites UFB’s constitution as a barrier to donating funds to non-Brown organizations. But UFB cannot hide behind policies that were created before the full weight of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Brown and Providence communities. In the coming months, UFB must reconsider donating student organization funds to Providence community partners, given the Brown student body’s likely inability to engage with our surrounding neighbors through traditional contributions of time and effort. The current crisis reveals the importance of giving future generations of Brown students the option to contribute financially to the greater community — and UFB should amend its constitution to allow them to do so. We believe that this re-evaluation will be worth it and know it to be the responsibility of the Brown student body to our larger community in an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty.
In addition, De Georgia’s op-ed neglected to engage with another valid option for UFB: Allocate the money to Brown students who need it. In previous correspondence between UFB, HOPE and Student Activities Office administrators reviewed by The Herald, UFB articulated that while it broached that topic with the University, they collectively decided that “there wasn’t a specific unmet need” UFB could fill. This is a startling statement. As Jack Ostrovsky ’23, Jason Carroll ’21 and Samy Amkieh ’21.5 articulated in their April 30 op-ed , the University’s measures to support the community in the context of COVID-19 — including the Emergency Funds, Curricular and Co-Curricular Gap (E-Gap) Funds — are often inaccessible and insufficient. UFB, with immense flexibility and hundreds of thousands of dollars at its disposal, is uniquely suited to fill this gap.
Many of UFB’s parallels at peer institutions have set critical precedents here, as well. Washington University in St. Louis’ Student Union donated $80,000 of its student activities fees to the university’s crisis response fund. The Wesleyan University Student Assembly pledged $100,000 to a fund to support first-generation, low-income students on its campus. The Brown student body should be demanding that our peers, who serve as our elected officials, do the same. UFB must reject University leaders’ absurd assessment that there is no “unmet need” among the Brown student body.
Let’s also not allow ourselves to operate under the ludicrous assumption that UFB is financially constrained. Don’t forget that in the past 10 years, after a decade of not spending enough of its funds, UFB accidentally accrued a budget surplus of $1 million, as reported by The Herald April 9. It should be emphasized that this is not the fault of this year’s board specifically — rather, we have UFB’s push toward greater transparency to thank for this realization. But, we cannot think of a better way to relieve UFB of its unnecessarily-acquired surplus than by either returning that money to Brown students — for whom these funds would make a considerable difference — or to Providence community members who are most threatened by the ongoing pandemic.
De Georgia is right in noting that accommodating our requests today will place the UFB of tomorrow in a challenging position. But the UFB of tomorrow will find itself in uncharted territory whether we like it or not. In the semesters — or, perhaps more likely, the years — to come, UFB will need to re-evaluate how it uses its millions of dollars. Across campus, the activities of student organizations at Brown will be dramatically altered by the persistent threat of the coronavirus. Activities like club meetings, dance performances and even massive gatherings of the student body such as Spring Weekend — all funded, at least in part, by UFB — will be challenging if not impossible to execute in the years ahead. What will UFB do with the millions of dollars it is allocated to serve the Brown student body?
It’s our hope that the Brown student body will push UFB to use these funds to meaningfully address the emerging needs apparent in our community. UFB has a plethora of options at its disposal. It can allocate funds to community partners at the frontlines of the pandemic, supporting organizations financially when we can’t do so in person. Or, it can return money to Brown students dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic. Instead, UFB is trying to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to its already-overblown surplus, at a time when our community needs it most. We hope UFB will make the right decision, and use its unparalleled resources and flexibility to meet the growing needs of Brown students and Rhode Island residents.
Dhruv Gaur ’21 is one of HOPE’s co-directors, and Melissa Lee ’21 is HOPE’s outgoing Fundraising Chair. Dhruv can be reached at dhruv_gaur@brown.edu , and Melissa can be reached at melissa_lee@brown.edu . This op-ed was written with support from outgoing members of HOPE’s leadership team Michael Gold ’20, Will Gomberg ’20 and Nathaniel Pettit ’20. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.”

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Anita Sheih: Thank you, friends
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 01, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Over the past four years, my professors taught me about the history of museums, how to read like a writer and to question who has the right to tell what stories. But after I finished my readings, submitted my essays on Canvas and closed my laptop; when I grabbed a meal at the Ratty or went to the basement of the SciLi, more often to socialize than to study, my friends had lessons to teach me too.  
My friend from chamber music taught me by example how to be both a friend and a leader. She showed such compassion every time she remembered to text me good luck on my exam days or to wish me safe travels when I went home for breaks. I am grateful for the immense care she showered me with through these small gestures.
My friend from one summer when our internships landed us in the same city taught me how to be spontaneous. Simply saying yes to adventures as they presented themselves allowed us to enjoy things outside of my Google calendar, leaving space for unexpected experiences.
My friend from Safewalk taught me about the power and beauty in meandering conversations. Throughout my four years, I could count on him and our weekly walks to offer laughs, insight and advice on all of my hardest decisions and even the occasional silly spat. His patient presence paired with his vibrant personality demonstrated what it means to be an active listener, a trustworthy confidant and a spectacular conversationalist.
My friend from the latter half of college taught me that friendship can blossom quickly and forcefully like a wildfire. She taught me that people are like Hermione’s bag and the TARDIS — bigger on the inside. In fact, her heart is endless on the inside, something she proves time and again through her unrelenting reliability and her willingness to give and help and share with no expectations in return.
My friend from a cultural club taught me how to energize a room full of people. He is always the life of the party, the driver of the group, who encourages others to participate and inspires all with his infectious enthusiasm. At the same time, his fondness for contemplative reflection revealed that I don’t have to pick between extroversion and introspection.
My friend from the same professional field taught me that it is possible to choose collaboration over competition, to want the best for others while still caring for yourself. Her desire to unconditionally support others pursuing similar career paths showed my ever more cynical eyes that pure intentions with no ulterior agenda do exist in this world.
My friend from an abroad experience halfway around the world taught me how to relax. In peak thesis season, he famously said, “I’m not in a rush,” both in terms of finishing his thesis and making his mark on the world. “We have the rest of our lives, so let’s just enjoy today.” 
My friend from day one taught me what it looks like to care so deeply about someone that you stick through thick and thin — through uproarious laughter and stress-induced breakdowns, through moments of pure delight and of sadness and fear — to be so invested in another person that their happiness brings you joy and their pains hurt you too.
My friend from Pembroke Campus taught me not to be afraid of my emotions, to validate what I’m feeling and to carry love and understanding for myself. Her constant encouragement to “live your truth” and her fearlessness in the face of conflict have pushed me and allowed me to face it too.
These are only a fraction of the lessons that I’ve learned from a fraction of the people I am lucky enough to call my friends. Others still have taught me what it means to work selflessly, tirelessly and, at times, thanklessly for a cause that we truly believe in; to pick one another up so we can continue moving forward together; to know when to pause and take a breath so we can remember why we’re here and where we’re going. 
Rather than informing me about any particular fields of study, these friends have imparted invaluable lessons on how to be a better person. Countless students, professors and alums agree that the best part of Brown is the community, and I am endlessly thankful to have been a part of it. I am thankful for having learned these lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, long after I’ve forgotten the names of the human species that preceded the Homo sapiens in the timeline of human evolution, or the exact order of the art historical movements that have led to today. Instead, I’ll remember to care, to adventure, to listen, to give, to excite, to support, to relax and to love others and myself. I’d say those are enough lessons for a lifetime. ”

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Importance
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Elizabeth Tran: Confidence-in-the-making
by Brown Daily Herald
May 31, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Last fall, I attended a workshop hosted by legendary public-speaking professor Barbara Tannenbaum. In the warm comfort of her home that evening, a small group of 30 students sat around her cozy living room. Besides the home-cooked pizza that she had prepared for us, each of us came in search of the answer to one of life’s greatest challenges: how to be confident. With our backs straight and our ears perked, we all eagerly awaited her wisdom. 
After a round of initial introductions, she immediately posed the question: “Does Brown promote or reduce confidence?” 
The question caught me off guard. How can a university be responsible for its students’ confidence? How can a school influence the trust that we have in our own abilities? 
I looked around the room and saw the perplexed looks on my classmates’ faces, as we all mentally shifted gears from what had been assumed to be an introspective activity to an extrospective one. 
Sensing our confusion, Professor Tannenbaum went on to explain that the true source of confidence is failure — that the only way to have confidence is to fail. She explained, “Unless you fail, you will live in constant fear of failure, and that fear will sap from your confidence.” 
So, it turns out, the question that she was really asking us was, “Does Brown promote or reduce our ability to fail?” 
I think it’s safe to say that, for many of us, the last thing we ever hoped to encounter at Brown was failure. Inside the classroom, we were eager to learn from distinguished faculty, well-regarded in their respective fields. We yearned to have our opinions challenged and our ideas questioned by peers at every turn. We looked forward to wrestling with big questions, like “How do we eliminate income inequality?” or “How do we combat climate change?” 
Outside the classroom, we were excited to take part in a host of beloved Brown traditions. Curiosity about how fire could float on top of water, and what about this spectacle consistently attracts so many people, brought us to the river’s edge to witness our first ever WaterFire. All-nighters studying at the SciLi or a late night out with friends brought us to Louis’ colorful tables at 5 in the morning. And the thrill of dancing to live music beneath the stars brought us to Pembroke Field for A Night on College Hill. Whether it was making it out for Whiskey Wednesdays and GCB Thursdays, or scoring a free donut from the Naked Donut Run, there were many experiences that we hoped to share at Brown. 
Failure, on the other hand, was probably not high on any of our to-do lists.
Nonetheless, we all likely found ourselves grappling with failure at some point in our Brown experience. Maybe failure was being rejected from that internship or research opportunity that we really wanted. Perhaps it was not being selected for a student organization or a team that we desperately wanted to join. Or maybe it was constantly missing our 9 A.M. class with no Lecture Capture. 
For me, failure was wasting the valuable opportunity of getting to attend Brown. I approached my first year at Brown with immense gratitude. I was grateful that Brown saw some potential in me that was worth cultivating. I was grateful that, within one generation, the daughter of two Vietnamese refugees could ascend to the Ivory Tower. I was grateful that, one day, I would be able to walk up to my parents in a cap and gown as a college graduate and say, “This is all because of you.” Throughout my first year, this sense of gratitude led me to be terrified of failure. I was scared of making any mistake that would make it seem like I didn’t deserve to be at Brown or that I didn’t belong here. 
This fear of failure silenced my voice in class discussions. I remember walking home every Monday night after my first-year seminar, disappointed in myself for not having spoken up. Every week, I sat and listened for two and a half hours to my classmates’ thought-provoking and scholarly answers to our professor’s discussion questions. Even the simple thought of raising my hand made my heart race. 
For most of that semester, I lived in constant fear of failure. Gradually, that fear drained my confidence and made me question my place at Brown. 
In the last month of that semester, I got the advice from another student to raise my hand at the start of class. I could come into class with one prepared comment to say, and then sit back and listen for the rest of the seminar. It was a baby step. It helped to build my confidence, knowing that, if I said the wrong thing or made a mistake, people would likely forget about it by the end of the class period. Slowly, I gained more confidence in sharing my thoughts in the classroom. 
Professor Tannenbaum was right. It turned out that my fear of failing was the very cause of what I defined as failure — wasting my Brown education. I challenge us all to think about a time when we felt like we failed at Brown. 
In retrospect, whatever we might have experienced and considered as failure at the time may have turned out to be something quite different. Perhaps those examples of perceived failure were instances of confidence-in-the-making. Even if in those moments it seemed like our self-confidence was waning, Brown’s confidence in us never did. Brown never lost its confidence in our ability to chart our own academic pathways, to choose our own grade options, to shop courses and know which ones align with our unique goals, and to decide until reading period if a class maybe just wasn’t for us. The Open Curriculum is Brown’s ultimate show of confidence in our intellectual abilities and decision-making capacity as students. 
Here at Brown, failure is not merely accepted; it’s encouraged. Why? Because Brown’s ethos of self-exploration recognizes that failure is a catalyst for confidence and growth in a way that success alone cannot foster. 
As we prepare for the world beyond the Van Wickle Gates, I urge us to welcome failure with open arms. These past four years have been an experiment in confidence building, by teaching us to trust our instincts and to have faith in our ability to discern a path forward. 
Be confident, Class of 2020. May we stay ever true — to the spirit of Brown, to the good in the world and, above all, to ourselves.”

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Seniors bid farewell to an empty College Hill
by Brown Daily Herald
May 30, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
During the Spring Weekend that never was, Jordana Siegel ’20 found herself drawn to the Main Green.
With a group of friends, Siegel walked the Green and played the music of Spring Weekend artists past. Siegel is one of many seniors who opted to stay in Providence — either by choice or necessity — for the last few months of her final semester, remaining in her house on the corner of Power and Brook Streets as other seniors scattered across the country and the world. 
The music, Siegel said, ended up doing little to alleviate the pain of a senior spring that was very different from what she had imagined.
“I don’t find myself going on campus that much,” Siegel admitted. “It reminds me of all that’s been lost, and all the memories that we were supposed to be making.”
According to six seniors interviewed by The Herald, the spring semester that fell apart has been marked by canceled jazz concerts and festivals, incomplete unit wars traditions and hasty goodbyes — with little to fill the void but time at home with housemates and takeout food from old haunts.
No more than 365 students lived in University dorms after campus shut down, The Herald previously reported , and University Spokesperson Brian Clark said that because the University does not own the seniors’ off-campus properties, the number of students who remained in their off-campus houses and apartments is unknown. 
“Our strong preference was for off-campus students in properties not owned by Brown to return to their homes or other locations if possible,” Clark wrote in an email, citing the University’s “limited” ability to support off-campus students, while noting that it remained a personal choice.
Choosing to Stay
For students like Vishie Betapudi ’20, deciding between going home to family and staying on campus came down to figuring out where he wanted to be “stuck indefinitely.” Ultimately, he chose to move from New Dorm to his girlfriend’s apartment on John Street, opting to live with her roommate, dog and two cats rather than return to his home outside Cleveland, Ohio.
Though he had been planning to move in with his partner after graduating, Betapudi said the transition felt somewhat unexpected. Their cohabitation suddenly involved grocery shopping, cooking and remaining safe, with extra care because his partner is immunocompromised.
“Almost every day, I think about what it would have been like if I would have gone home — if I was at home, I would have much less of a burden with all of that,” he said. “It feels like we’ve really had to grow up a lot faster.”
Siegel remained in Providence with eight other fourth-year women after listening to her parents, who thought it would be best to stay. For some who remained in the city, the chance for a final few months with old and important friends kept them on College Hill, while others found it too difficult to return home amid the personal, medical and financial problems wrought by the pandemic.
“I thought it would be nice to get through this strange time with two people that are so important to me,” said Claire Hathaway ’20. 
For Kielan Donahue ’20, academic needs were on her mind when making the decision to stay. In Providence, Donahue explained, she has a room, a kitchen — and some privacy. She knew she couldn’t do schoolwork while with her family “24/7” — especially a final group project for CSCI 1430: “Computer Vision” that she had planned to do with her roommate who also stayed in Providence.
Life in Providence during COVID-19
The first weeks alone on campus proved eerie for many. Some tried to order food from restaurants only to find they had shut for the foreseeable future, while others mourned the loss of former favorite study spots like libraries and coffee shops.
“The shell of campus is there, but you can’t enter and none of the people you know are there,” Donahue said.
The seniors still on campus found virtual learning to be even more peculiar; many of their professors lectured from their classrooms or homes just miles away, but they could only meet as a class virtually. 
“Everything you do reminds you of the reality of the situation,” Betapudi said. “If I’m sitting in a class a couple blocks away from Brown but I can’t actually be in class at Brown, it’s surreal. It’s jarring.”
At home, keeping busy has proved to be its own challenge. For Naomy Pedroza ’20, one solution was the occasional “socially distant bonfire.” Siegel’s household found solace in getting takeout about once a week, celebrating a roommate’s birthday and enjoying evening activities like a “mall night,” during which her housemates all shopped from clothes that the others had decided they no longer wanted.
But despite the effort to make home more enjoyable, remaining inside has had its mental costs.
“Time seems really meaningless lately,” Hathaway said. “The way in which time goes by seems incredibly distressing and nonexistent.”
Losses and Uncertainty
As graduation approaches and leases end, the usual string of events during senior spring have failed to follow. 
For Donahue, losing the opportunity to relive freshman unit wars stung: One friend of hers had kept their unit’s banner for the last four years, intending to replicate the human pyramid from their first week on campus, down to the last limb.
Siegel had long looked forward to senior week, and to a Spring Weekend with all her friends who had returned from study abroad. 
Betapudi lost his senior year jazz band concert, as well as the ability to go to all of his other music friends’ final concerts.
And then there were the goodbyes: rushed and uncertain, without hugs and often over Facetime for friends who did not live in the same house.
“There was certainly a lot of denial that this might be the last time we see each other for many years, especially international friends who were going home to countries that were closing borders,” Siegel said. 
For many students, graduating brings with it many uncertainties. With unemployment levels at the highest they have been since the Great Depression — 14.7 percent as of April — many students have found themselves scrambling for jobs in an uncertain market. “I’m still furiously applying for jobs; hospitals will still be open. I’m on LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake five times a day,” Betapudi said.
Silver Linings
While their final semester is not what they had in mind, some seniors have tried their best to find silver linings in what has been an extremely difficult couple of months.
For Mika Shevchenko ’20, quarantining has brought with it an opportunity to explore her passion for cooking. “I decided to start a cooking blog on Instagram for my friends,” she said. “That was the big thing that kept me going throughout quarantine.”
Others, like Pedroza, have found value in taking a step back from their busy schedules and enjoying the company of their housemates. 
One “friend said that, if you think about it, we would not have been able to see each other often in senior spring under normal circumstances, because we run on completely different schedules,” Pedroza said. “This spring we were able to just be with each other — that was a nice silver lining.”
Despite the effects of COVID-19 on their final semester, this experience reminded many why the Brown community is so special. COVID-19 “has brought so many people closer together,” said Shevchenko. “You see how resilient the Brown community can be, how encouraging it can be, and how people just responded with kindness.”
“As a graduating senior, I am coming back to why I applied early decision, and that’s the fact that (Brown is) such a wonderful community, and I have never felt like people were anything but supportive,” Hathaway said. “It’s honestly such a wholesome place. I’m thankful — I’m very thankful.”
Correction: A previous version of this article named Kielan Donahue ’20 as a design editor, when she is not. The Herald regrets the error.”

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Brown transitions 11 varsity teams to club status
by Brown Daily Herald
May 29, 2020
“This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The University will transition 11 varsity teams — men and women’s fencing, men and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s track, field and cross country — to club status, effective immediately, according to a community-wide email sent today from President Christina Paxson P’19. Additionally, club coed sailing and club women’s sailing will transition to varsity status, for a net reduction of nine varsity teams, from 38 to 29. 
In spite of the cut, the University will maintain the current operational budget for athletics, and funds will be allocated “strategically” throughout the Department of Athletics. “The smaller number of varsity teams also will support stronger recruiting in the admissions process, allowing for deeper talent on each team,” Paxson wrote. 
Students who have already been recruited to varsity teams no longer on the roster will be invited to “live Zoom sessions with Athletics staff, colleagues in the College and other support staff to have their questions answered and learn more about their options,” including the potential of transferring to another institution, Paxson wrote. “Brown is also committed to supporting our coaches in this transition.”
The large-scale cut comes as part of the new Excellence in Brown Athletics initiative to strengthen both club sports and the competitiveness of varsity sports, as well as maintain the University’s “commitment to provide equal opportunities in athletics for women and men at Brown.” The reduction in varsity teams “is not a measure to reduce budget or an effort to contend with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Paxson specified.
In the email, Paxson outlined four different courses of action which will advance the goals of the initiative: “Revise the University’s roster of varsity sports teams; enhance club sports teams and add several new ones; focus on recruitment of outstanding student-athletes and on maintaining roster sizes that build competitiveness; advance coaching, training and conditioning resources; and continue improvements to athletic facilities,” according to a University press release. Paxson also noted that the change will mean “the percentage of varsity athletic participation opportunities for women will increase” to be more proportionally consistent with the percentage of women among University undergraduates.
The initiative follows an external review of the Athletics Department conducted in the 2018-2019 academic year, which concluded that “the high number of varsity sports at Brown was a barrier to competitiveness,” according to the press release. 
After the review, President Christina Paxson P’19 appointed a Committee on Excellence in Athletics in January 2020 to make recommendations in the best interest of student-athletes and the Athletics Department. The ultimate decision was the result of a “thorough, data-driven review,” she wrote. ”

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Inside the decisions that moved Brown online
by Brown Daily Herald
May 29, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
President Christina Paxson P’19 jolted awake one early morning in March with a grim realization. She would send an email to her students days later, instructing most of them to pack up their lives and leave College Hill.
“I’m usually somebody who has no trouble sleeping as long as I want to, and I woke up at four in the morning and it was just like, we have to move our students out,” Paxson said in a May 21 interview with The Herald, reflecting on the moment she knew that her leadership team would have to cancel on-campus learning and send most students home.
“This whole time period feels a little bit like driving through a thick fog.” 
The University’s senior team would meet in the morning of March 9, an unseasonably warm day in Providence, and officially decide to limit campus operations in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. That meeting marked the end of weeks of back and forth as University leaders struggled to decide how to best proceed with the pandemic quickly unfolding around them. It also marked the beginning of a scramble to figure out how the University could help students and employees upend their lives while simultaneously developing an unprecedented online schooling operation.  
“This whole time period feels a little bit like driving through a thick fog,” Paxson said. “You know that there are obstacles out there and you know that there are things you have to do, but (you are) trying to figure out how to do it.” 
As many undergraduates quickly moved out of their dorms and prepared for a new style of learning, administrators were engaged in an intense decision-making process behind the scenes. University leaders interviewed by The Herald provided new details describing how they made the choices that ended on-campus learning, emphasizing the institution-wide collaboration that developed as they managed evolving circumstances.
Bilal Ismail Ahmed / Herald
Students sit on the steps outside of the Steven Robert ’62 Campus Center on March 12, the day it was announced that classes would be canceled and classes would resume remotely. Two weeks later, campus had emptied.
 
Preparing for ‘the unlikely event of a disruption to normal University operations’ 
Although the University’s crisis response efforts escalated in mid-March, the University’s Core Crisis Committee was thinking about the novel coronavirus by late January.
The Core Crisis Committee, which makes recommendations about decisions such as canceling large events, convenes to coordinate and oversee the University’s response to emergencies . It holds some regular meetings, but its members began to meet specifically about  the coronavirus early in the semester , according to Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy and the committee’s chair. Team members include representatives from the Division of Campus Life, the Department of Public Safety and the Office of the Provost, Carey said, though membership is meant to adjust based on what the situation demands. Ultimate decision-making power formally lies in the Policy Committee, which Paxson chairs.
Carey sent the first community-wide communication about the coronavirus Feb. 1, stating that the Core Crisis Committee was monitoring the situation. At that time, the committee did not anticipate that a near-complete shutdown of campus would occur by mid-March. 
“ I would say it was too early for what I would describe as long-term plans,” Carey said. “Particularly at that stage, it was not thinking about closing or having to go to remote operations or anything like that.”
In February, the Core Crisis Committee and other administrators began to address study abroad programs. They started to call for students’ return from hard-hit areas, formally canceling the Brown in Bologna program Feb. 28 . The University employed existing policies to determine when programs should shut down based on factors including World Health Organization and State Department ratings. 
As the coronavirus spread in Europe, administrators considered its potential to disrupt life on College Hill. By late February, the University’s Policy Committee began to meet more regularly to discuss the coronavirus, recalled Provost Richard Locke P’18. 
“We were already telling faculty, look, you should be prepared, if we have to, to move your classes online or remote because we’re seeing what’s going on in Europe, we’re seeing what’s going on in other parts of the country,” Locke said. 
At that point, the University had not yet halted non-essential domestic travel . Locke recalled “wiping down chairs and washing my hands repeatedly” in the Los Angeles International Airport in late winter, where he was traveling back from a trip for Brown.
The second campus-wide communication about the coronavirus would come on Feb. 29, encouraging heightened vigilance for students planning to leave campus for spring break or any other time in the coming months . The email explained that contingency planning was in place “to prepare for the unlikely event of a disruption to normal University operations.”
Behind closed doors on the final days on campus
In early March, campus leaders focused on instituting a response as the novel coronavirus spread through the United States. The University canceled in-person admitted students days and restricted events with 100 or more attendees . The Ivy League presidents canceled spring athletic practices and competition.
The University communicated regularly with the Rhode Island government, which had created its own committee to address the growing health crisis. University administrators continue to talk with state officials. For instance, Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Executive Director of Health and Wellness Vanessa Britto speaks with representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
“Things were happening asynchronously.” 
University leaders also communicated with members of other colleges and universities. The administration began to pay attention to the responses of the University of Washington and Stanford University early on, Carey said. As the pandemic progressed, the University communicated with other administrators in the Ivy League and Ivy Plus communities and shared information with colleagues at the Rhode Island School of Design and other colleges in the state. 
“At every layer, people were talking to their counterparts just so we could be like-minded and learn from each other and at times collaborate, but we were on different academic calendars,” Britto said. “Things were happening asynchronously.” 
In the afternoon of March 9, just hours after senior leaders at Brown made their decision, Gov. Gina Raimondo declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island . At that point, University leadership knew that on-campus learning would soon cease, but students waited anxiously for an update about whether they would finish the semester on College Hill..
“We were getting a lot of questions from students saying like, ‘we know you’re going to make us leave, why don’t you just tell us?’” Paxson said. “But we didn’t want to make that announcement until we had all the support and resources in place for students.”
Before alerting students that campus would close, University leaders wanted to form a team that could quickly respond to students’ many questions concerning move-out, and make plans to offer financial support and other resources. 
Paxson said that her senior team debated the question of announcing the decision earlier. “I think in the end we kind of hit it right,” she said. 
From early in the crisis response, the Office of University Communications worked to provide information to the community while managing rapidly changing circumstances.
“Sometimes that’s the most certainty that you can have in an uncertain situation,” said Vice President for Communications Cass Cliatt. “The certainty that you will be communicated with, the certainty that information will be provided to you, the certainty that there will be transparency around decisions that are being made.”
To make sure messaging remained consistent, accurate and in line with University values, a group led by Cliatt began to review and align all communications related to the coronavirus. “Any communication that was going to the campus had multiple eyes” from areas including communications, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the General Counsel, Cliatt said.
In addition to sending messages to students, the University also needed to communicate with employees. The University had maintained the employment of full-time and regular staff members as of earlier this month, and seasonal and intermittent workers were terminated in April, The Herald previously reported .
On the night before the student body was informed, William Zhou ’20 and Jason Carroll ’21, then president and vice president of the Undergraduate Council of Students, heard from Campus Life that Brown would be transitioning to remote learning.
“I think in the end we kind of hit it right.” 
“We provided feedback on after that decision was made, what was the best way to communicate it, what was the best way to support students through it,” Zhou said. “It was definitely a really hard and stressful time … but I’m really thankful that overall (the administration) was doing what they could to keep us in the loop and getting our input.” 
With the sudden move out, Paxson acknowledged that “from a student’s perspective, there were probably times where it felt like they needed more support, certainly, but people were really just working 24/7.”
On the morning of March 12 , students received the email first notifying them that dorms would soon close to most students. By March 17, almost everyone living on campus had moved elsewhere. Less than two weeks later, classes resumed online.
Bilal Ismail Ahmed / Herald
Students walk through Wayland Arch on March 12, carrying moving boxes. Weeks later, Wriston quad was quiet.
 
What comes next?
On Saturday, March 14, two days after Paxson informed students that University residences would largely close, the University announced a positive coronavirus case in the community and worried that possible travel restrictions could inhibit students’ ability to leave campus. The deadline to move out changed from March 22 to March 17.
The previous day, Cliatt received flowers as a thank you for some of her work in the previous weeks, and she decided to leave them in the office for the weekend. The next day, the University would also announce that most staff would be required to work remotely .
“I haven’t returned to my office since that Friday,” she said. “Those flowers I’m sure are still there, except wilted.”
The University has yet to announce whether students will return to campus next fall. In an April 26 op-ed in the New York Times , Paxson made the case for reopening college campuses in the fall under certain circumstances. The University is considering proposals for a full return to campus, a division of the year into three semesters or a fully remote fall semester, The Herald previously reported .
Some increased communication across peer institutions has also continued as Brown plans for the fall. Provosts within the Ivy Plus consortium usually convene twice a year for two-day meetings, but lately they’ve been talking on Zoom every week. Topics they discuss include reopening, testing and remote learning. 
“Those flowers I’m sure are still there, except wilted.”
“We shouldn’t be competing on this. We should just be sharing best practices and knowledge,” Locke said. “Having that support group has been really wonderful.”
Locke lost his mother-in-law to the coronavirus in early April, soon after his own mother passed away. While practicing social distancing at the funeral, he was unable to hug his loved ones. 
“It came to me personally how serious this was,” Locke said. “Protecting the health and safety of the members of our community had to be the number one goal.””

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Dispersed across globe, Brown community finds connection through ‘Dank Stash of Memes’
by Brown Daily Herald
May 28, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Richard Bungiro PhD’99, senior lecturer in molecular microbiology and immunology, structures his course BIOL 0530: “Principles of Immunology” around pop culture themes. He challenges students to untangle the hypothetical immunological functions of a Terminator or a dragon. He has an antibody tattooed on his wrist. And he makes memes, which he posts on a Facebook page frequented by hundreds of his current and former students.
“What’s your favorite administrative euphemism for ‘global pandemic?’” Bungiro asked in one of his recent posts. “These trying times. These difficult times. These uncertain times. These challenging times. Protect the endowment at all times.” 
He posted the meme to “Brown Dank Stash of Memes for S/NC Teens,” a Facebook page where over 20,000 members upload and interact with Brown-related meme content. Over the past four years, the page has become a cultural touchstone for students at Brown. Now, with campus closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meme page has helped recreate community for students isolated in their homes. The memes themselves have become a form of communication, of transmitting meaning, that is uniquely suited to the digital existence the Brown community has adopted.
“I think people really want to feel like they’re part of a community,” Bungiro said. “Being on that page and some of the other ones, I think it’s a way for people to retain a little piece of what we’re all missing so much right now.”
Memes emerged as a cultural phenomenon in the early 2000s, taking the internet and college campuses alike by storm. The word “meme” was coined to describe elements of culture that propagate through society, particularly through imitation, and are stuck easily to humorous images created and shared through the internet. 
“Right now this is one of the only public forums that Brown students have as a community,” said Lucy Duda ’20, a senior administrator of the page as well as a moderator of “The Ivy League Meme Consortium,” a similar Facebook page with over 100,000 members focused on Ivy League content. “We’ve really tried to make the meme page a space for public discourse in the community and a way for people to find common ground and bond over how terrible a lot of things have been.”
Duda became a moderator of Brown’s meme page in the fall of 2016, when the page only had a few hundred members. She has seen it grow ever since. In honor of the page hitting 20,000 members, Duda recently made a new cover photo reading “Brown Digital Space Main Green.” 
Throughout the quarantine, memes have poked fun at decisions from the University administration and questioned, often sarcastically, whether students will return to campus this fall. There has also been an influx of more comical content, such as a group of cel-shaded bears dancing to Smash Mouth. Beneath those boogying bears and agitated students lie hundreds of comments of friends tagging each other and reaching out, despite distance and uncertainty, hoping to make each other laugh. 
“The undertone is very much that things suck, but we can do this,” said Elliott Lehrer ’21, who has posted memes since he was accepted to Brown three years ago. 
Hannah Kierszenbaum ’20, who spent her senior spring on College Hill with a few friends, said the meme page has helped keep her connected to the greater Brown community. “I relate to it and look at it more now that we’re in quarantine,” she said. “It is a subpar situation for everybody so it’s cathartic to know that other people are also struggling.”
These memes will endure beyond the pandemic. Researchers at the University are archiving them at the request of the administrative team behind Brown Dank Stash of Memes for S/NC Teens. Nationally, the Library of Congress is doing the same for other meme content. 
John Fenn, contributor to the Library of Congress’ web archive and head of research and programs at the American Folklife Center, emphasized the communal power of this form of communication, which he defines as “narrative, visual communication, contemporary humor that arises out of a collective sense of something, even if it’s not a collective experience.” 
“It’s a fascinating kind of archaeology,” Fenn said. “It’s the archeology of right now.”
Andrew Majcher, head of digital services and records management in the John Hay Library, agreed with Fenn. 
“Especially with the way the COVID crisis has been going, it’s one of the more poignant ways we can gauge how the student body is feeling about what’s going on,” Majcher said. 
Majcher added that the meme page, along with other pages like “Poems from a University Quarantine,” might be included in a future University library project on digital documentation of the pandemic.
The lasting impact of the meme page has come as a surprise for Dylan Garcia ’20, who co-founded the meme group four years ago. 
“At the beginning, I thought it was just going to be general memes,” Garcia said, who thought that around 2,000 members would join, one-tenth of its current following. He didn’t know that the page would end up “putting a voice on some issues.”
The typical end of the year atop College Hill is Spring Weekend, packed libraries, finals and a stately procession through the Van Wickle Gates. Not this year; no crowded moshes, no late nights in the Rock and Commencement was a half-hour online. Bungiro captured that transition and his feelings toward the community in a meme, composed of a photo of the gates above a photo of his orange couch at home. 
“ Not much snark or spicy in this meme, my friends — just sincere gratitude for the students of Brown,” the caption reads. “You matter, and you constantly remind me why it matters.””

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‘We’re just really hurting right now’: Student athletes express disappointment, anger with sudden varsity sports cuts
by Brown Daily Herald
May 28, 2020
“At around 12 p.m. EST Thursday, Jacob Good ’22, a member of the squash team, received an email from the Athletics Department inviting him and all student-athletes to an unanticipated Zoom call later that afternoon. An hour later, Good and his fellow teammates were no longer members of a varsity team. Along with 10 other sports, squash was being transitioned from varsity to club status, effective immediately. 
Good and his teammates — including his coach — had not been told about the transition before the Zoom call. The news came as a shock. “We’re just really hurting right now,” Good said. 
The University announced that 11 varsity sports teams — men and women’s fencing, men and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s track, field and cross country — would be transitioned to the club level as part of the new Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative. Two club sports, coed sailing and women’s sailing, will move to the varsity roster.
Six student athletes interviewed by The Herald expressed confusion and anger at the abrupt termination of varsity athletic careers at Brown, either for themselves or for their peers if their own team was not demoted from varsity. 
Madison McCarthy ’23, a member of the women’s ski team, initially expected that, at worst, the University was cutting funding or canceling the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But by the time she entered the Zoom call, Director of Athletics Jack Hayes had already announced the news and she missed it. McCarthy was left to find out that her team had been cut at the same time as the rest of the Brown community, when an email was sent by Christina Paxson P’19 later in the afternoon. 
Naomi Shammash ’22, a member of the women’s squash team, viewed the decision as disrespectful to the work that she and her teammates have put into their sport — undermining their achievements not only as athletes, but as students. Shammash said that the squash team in particular has been recognized for maintaining high GPAs over the course of their careers as athletes.
“This is not about excellence,” Shammash said. “This is about putting funds and putting effort into underperforming teams,” referring to some teams which have consistently low win percentages but have maintained a slot on the varsity roster. 
Derek Davey ’22, a member of the track and field team, echoed the feelings of shock and confusion expressed by Good and Shammash at the news of the roster change.
Track and field does not require expensive training or equipment — unlike some other sports which remain on the varsity roster — leading to a greater diversity of athletes on the team, Davey said. “It’s wild that such a sport wasn’t seen as one that matches Brown’s diversity efforts moving forward,” he added. 
Davey anticipates that students considering the University for athletics, including for teams not among the 11 demoted to club level, may not attend Brown as a result of this decision. “It’s really hard to want to go to a university where athletics isn’t viewed as something of a priority,” Davey said. 
Announcing the initiative and varsity cuts, Paxson wrote that having such a large varsity roster has prevented Brown from reaching some of the athletic program’s aspirations. She also listed the goals of the initiative as, “ improving the competitiveness of our varsity athletics, enhancing the strength of our club sports, and upholding our commitment to provide equal opportunities in athletics for women and men at Brown.”
Although Davey doesn’t know what his fall semester will look like, or whether or not he will run for club track and field, he said he will value the “camaraderie” of his team nonetheless.
Women’s cross country and track and field Captain Gracie Whelan ’21 was also disappointed at the news. Although her team was not cut from the varsity roster, she noted that losing the men’s cross country and track and field teams is like losing “half of the team,” given how tight-knit the two squads are in training. 
Transferring to other institutions could be an option for some students who’d like to pursue varsity college athletic careers. 
“A major focus of our work this summer will be to provide assistance in counseling students about their options,” Paxson wrote in the email announcing the roster change, whether they choose to stay at Brown or transfer elsewhere.
But it was not immediately clear to some students if that would be possible at this stage, as some sports transfer deadlines have passed. 
Captain of the cross country and track and field team Bretram Rogers ’21 said his teammates had already missed their deadline to transfer elsewhere to play their sport on a varsity level.
Rogers chose Brown because it doesn’t give out sports scholarships and there would be no chance of his finances changing because of a change in sports funding. But with his varsity team now cut from the roster, he said, “I’m heartbroken. I’ve completely lost a sense of my identity.”
While some may choose to leave Brown, Maximo Moyer ’21, a member of the squash team, said that he expected his team — along with the other cut teams — will advocate for maintaining their status as a varsity sport.
Whelan echoed Moyer’s desire to attempt a repeal of the decision.
“We were in shock for a few minutes before every group chat started to explode with ideas about how we can work to reverse this,” she said.
Both the men and women’s track team are “trying to focus on action instead of being really upset,” she added. “But of course we’re still really upset. We were all on a Zoom call today — everyone was in tears.”
McCarthy felt that the decision to cut teams from the varsity roster contradicts the proposed mission of the Excellence in Brown Athletics initiative when many of the teams moved down to the club level had strong records.
At a Zoom news briefing Thursday afternoon on the initiative, Paxson said the decision making process, which was more than a year in the making, was “a little more nuanced” than looking at teams’ winning percentages. Additional considerations included facilities issues, community support and history of success, among other factors.
“It just doesn’t match up with their decision making,” McCarthy said. “Brown values integrity in their athletes. They have not shown any integrity with what they have done this afternoon.”
“I know it’s going to be difficult for students and members of our community who see their favorite teams transition to club status,” Paxson said. “I know it’s very hard. We’re committed to honoring their history, supporting our students as best as we can.””

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Priyanka Podugu: What grief taught me about compassion
by Brown Daily Herald
May 28, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
A couple days before classes started last fall, I learned that my grandmother was dying. She was the oldest member of my family, but we did not expect such a rapid decline in her health. With one phone call, my family suddenly faced the daunting task of transplanting ourselves in under 24 hours from the United States to India, where we would say goodbye. I can barely recall packing for this last minute trip, nor can I really remember the journey I took from Providence to New York to board my flight. But, whenever I reflect on this intense moment in my life — the first time I experienced familial loss in recent memory — I always remember the generosity that people extended to my family and me with sharp clarity. 
My housemates who insisted that I text them once I reached my grandma; my friend who offered to drive me from Providence to New York after she watched me desperately search for affordable train tickets; the personnel who agreed to delay our flight’s takeoff time by 15 minutes as my family struggled to reach the airport; the people who stood aside in the excruciatingly long security line when they saw my family full of pain. These moments might look insignificantly small, or transient even, in the context of an event as heavy as my grandmother’s nearing death. But because my family faced a crisis where literally every second mattered, these acts of compassion and care helped us feel less alone in our grief. 
Right now, a high demand exists for the generosity and compassion that my family and I received during our time of need. The United States continues to move through an unprecedented economic and public health crisis that has forcefully exposed a national failure to safeguard the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable among us. With over 100,000 dead , my home has suffered more casualties from the coronavirus than any other country in the world. Over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the onset of the pandemic, and social distancing measures have disproportionately burdened low-income, non-white communities with the task of exposing themselves to the virus for their “essential work.” In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago and after the beginning of widespread social distancing, nearly two-thirds of Americans reported feeling “nervous, depressed, lonely or hopeless” over the course of just one week. Ideally, every person should be guaranteed to receive the same support and care that my family felt when we needed those two things the most, but reality suggests otherwise. 
College graduates everywhere understand that graduating in a pandemic means facing discouraging and unexpected challenges both in their careers and personal lives. For many members of my class, graduation now marks the assumption of a serious responsibility not just to provide for themselves, but for their families as well. Others must navigate the emotional gymnastics of celebrating a personal accomplishment while still grieving the absence of loved ones and family members. With everything in such free fall, the act of leaving behind the security and stability of college feels especially unfair.
We have been so profoundly lucky to be members of a community like Brown, where compassionate care defines student culture. During my four years on campus, I’ve seen this kind of care emerge in so many different ways. It’s appeared every time my friends pulled and humored me through my feelings of grief or failure. It was there every time students gathered on the Main Green, always in advocacy of their peers and for a better university. After our campus shut down, our commitment to care remained, as we pooled resources across Facebook pages and online groups to ensure that no student felt left behind. We proved that distance could not preclude us from comforting or reassuring each other in the middle of a crisis. 
Even with my new college degree, I feel grossly ill-equipped to predict what will happen over the next few months. We are undeniably leaving Brown at a difficult time. But regardless of the future’s uncertainty, to thrive in the present, historic circumstances, we must find ways to continue supporting ourselves and each other with compassion and generosity.”

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