This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
to consider budget priorities
by sydney ember And niCole FriedmAn neWS editorS
vol. cxlv, no. 21 | Friday, February 26, 2010 | Serving the community daily since 1891
Review Committee’s proposed solutions accounting for $14 million of the total reduction goal — and President Ruth Simmons’ recommendations for next fiscal year’s budget, tuition and other fees, including increased investment in financial aid, said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, senior vice president for Corporation affairs and governance. Discussion of significant capital projects is also on the Corporation’s weekend agenda, he said. The goal of this weekend’s summit is to “balance the budgets and deal with the deficits,” Carey said, adding that the University expects to come away from the weekend with a more solidified plan to further reduce the budget deficit. Part of the Corporation’s decision will involve analysis of the 14 ORC subcommittees’ recommendations for reducing the budget and increasing the University’s efficiency, Carey said. The ORC recommendations were outlined in a report released Feb. 2 and include streamlining University administration and cutting operating costs from various continued on page 3
Faced with the task of further reducing the University’s projected budget deficit by $30 million, the Corporation will convene this weekend to finalize plans to balance next fiscal year’s operating budget and discuss the University’s academic priorities. Brown’s highest governing body will receive the University Resources Committee’s recommendations — which include the Organizational
French film festival starts at Cable Car
by CorinA ChAse Contributing Writer
Nick Sinnott-Armstrong / Herald
Occidental College professor Ron Buckmire participated in a panel on California’s Proposition 8 in Salomon 101 Thursday night.
The 13th annual Providence French Film Festival opened Thursday with a screening of “Flandres (Flanders)”, directed by Bruno Dumont, followed by Andre Techine’s “La fille du RER (The girl on the train).” The festival this year will consist of 18 different films, which are all “a little bit on the edge,” said Senior Lecturer in French Studies Shoggy Waryn.
ArTs & CulTure
The Department of French Studies, along with numerous faculty, graduate and undergraduate
volunteers, organized the festival, which is co-sponsored by the Department of Modern Culture and Media. The festival runs through March 7 at the Cable Car Cinema. Though several films focus on “changing states” and “changing status,” Waryn said, this year’s festival aims to showcase the great variety of films produced in the Francophone world. Youenn Kervennic, a lecturer in French studies, said the organizers wanted to present an “eclectic” mix of films. The Department of French Studies incorporates the films, which are screened in French with English subtitles, into many of its courses, encouraging or requiring French students to attend some of
the screenings. Waryn explained that the festival was designed to complement the activities of the department. Both Waryn and Kervennic said they hope the festival will help to dispel some myths about French cinema — for example, that French films are always serious and usually confusing. The organizers of this year’s festival began working almost immediately after last year’s finished, Waryn said. They looked at films that did well in 2009, returned to films they previously could not show and got ideas from several other film festivals, eventually accumulating a wish list of titles. continued on page 4
Prop. 8 panel discusses race and sexuality
sexuality, religion and same-sex marriage. Roger Williams School of Law Professor Courtney Cahill, Washington Consulting Group advocate Reverend Jamie Washington and Buckmire comprised the panel. The panel discussion centered around California’s Proposition 8, which declared, “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Supcontinued on page 2
by KrisTinA KlArA Contributing Writer
Civil unions give same-sex couples “only half a loaf” because they are still denied many federal rights and the title of marriage, Occidental College professor and LGBT advocate Ron Buckmire told a nearly empty Salomon 101 Thursday night. About 20 people gathered to hear a panel of advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community discuss race,
news in brief
student robbed at gunpoint on Transit street
A Brown student was robbed at gunpoint at approximately 7:41 p.m. on Tuesday, according to an e-mail sent to members of the Brown community Thursday. The victim had gotten out of his car behind his Transit Street residence when the suspect pulled out a handgun and told the victim to hand over his money, according to the police report. The suspect, a black or Hispanic male in his early 20s, escaped on foot with the victim’s BlackBerry and cash after attempting to steal the victim’s car, the police report said. The victim was unharmed. — Claire Peracchio
with itunes apps, students join the gold rush
by sArA luxenberg Staff Writer
iPhone users have hundreds of thousands of choices at their fingertips, and now some Brown developers are getting in on the game. Through the App Store, iPhone and iPod touch owners can download apps — extra features that users can download to their Apple phones — that pertain to every aspect of their lives. The possibilities, however, don’t stop at the users.
Through the app market, Apple has opened up opportunities for independent software developers: a chance to make a profit, a new medium for development and the opportunity to compete with huge companies to make the next hit app. Several games, an automatic volume adjuster and a pregnancy test all got their genesis from Brown students who have already experienced the rewards and challenges of entering this growing market.
Applying themselves Creating an app is not a simple process, as new developers must familiarize themselves with both Apple’s programming language and the compilers that contain the numerous files of code. Developers must work exclusively in Objective-C, a programming language developed by Apple that is “different from what’s taught” in computer science classes at Brown, said developer Eshan Mitra ’12, a Herald cartoonist. Eric Stix ’12, who created his first app just over a year ago, described the language as a “Java-C hybrid.” He added that knowing both Java and C before writing his first app “was a big help” in learning to code in Objective-C. “When I started making apps, the iPhone had only been out for maybe a year or two,” said Ethan Richman ’13. “There were not that many resources online” for using Objective-C and handling error messages and other problems, he said. While today there are many tutorials online, “there’s still a lot of trial and
error” in the coding process, Richman said. Developers are responsible for coding everything that users will see. “You have to program your app and create all the content for it, whether it be images, sounds or textual content,” said Paul Kernfeld ’12. “With the iPhone, it is specifically a challenge to make sure you can fit everything you want in the pretty small amount of screen space,” Kernfeld added. New developers must also register with Apple. This registration has a $100 price tag and gives the developer all of the software needed to create an app, including a way to test applications, Kernfeld said. Critical review Once a developer has created an app, it can’t hit the marketplace just yet. The program must also be approved by the App Store Review Team — a process that can be a serious hurdle. “The approval process is pretty notorious for being opaque,” Kernfeld said. “They often don’t provide
much information about what goes on behind the scenes.” Stix attempted to make an app that recreated the iPod shuffle on the iPhone, but he said it was denied by Apple early in the development process for copying an Apple product, even though it was going to be produced “exclusively for their devices,” he said. “When you sign up to be an apps developer,” the company’s agreement “basically says Apple’s allowed to accept or reject whatever they want,” Stix added. Richman also ran into problems with the review team. After creating an information-based app that included a questionnaire to help determine if the user might be pregnant, Richman also created a humorous, vulgar version of the same questionnaire. “I got a call from Apple when they were reviewing,” he said. “This guy was giving me a hard time for having little stick figures” reflecting varying levels of sexual promiscuity, he said. Richman added that he was forced continued on page 3
News......1-3 Arts........4-5 Editorial.....6 Opinion.....7 Today.........8
The regulATor A RISD senior designed a device to end all devices (on standby) 195 Angell Street, Providence, Rhode Island
Alum’s plAy opening Curtains up on “Dead Man’s Cellphone” by Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA’01
goT AbsoluTism? Emily Breslin ’10 takes on the moral relativists at universities email@example.com
C amPuS n ewS
THE BROWN DAILy HERALD
FRIDAy, FEBRuARy 26, 2010
“Our lives are being converted into electronic appliances.”
— RISD student Conor Klein, inventor of the Outlet Regulator
rISD senior creates energy-conserving gadget
by JonAThAn Chou Contributing Writer
Panelists discuss how religion shades definition of ‘marriage’
continued from page 1 porters of the proposition spent about $40 million on their campaign to galvanize support for the amendment, Buckmire said, and LGBT rights activists spent $43 million to discourage the proposition. It passed with a 57 percent majority in November 2008. About 70 percent of AfricanAmerican voters voted to pass Proposition 8, Buckmire said. “This oppositional framework leaves out people who happen to be members of both groups,” said Buckmire, who called himself a “black gay.” “Black LGBT people were marginalized by both aspects of their identity,” he said. Cahill discussed the media’s presentation of Proposition 8, saying it portrayed the proposition’s success as “some combination of Mormon money and racial homophobia.” From her “YouTube research,” Cahill did not find rhetoric criticizing homosexuals in the media, she said. Instead, the proposition was portrayed as preserving “the right of the people to define marriage as they see fit,” she said. But Cahill said she also questioned whether or not this excuse was just masking “disgust for gays” and presenting a more “constitutionally permissible” excuse for passing the amendment. Washington provided some background on the interplay of racial and religious identity in the gay marriage issue. “We have historically had gays and lesbians be white” and not affiliated with any religion, he said. “That dynamic is still alive and well today.” The moderator’s first question for the panel was, “What do you see as the best way to go forward now?” Buckmire answered, saying that the same-sex marriage issue is not “winnable unless there is majority support for marriage equality.” He said that most states allow for civil unions, which provide many of the rights that a marriage license carries. But still, one class can get married and one can only get a civil union, he said. “We’ve done that before,” he said, “and it’s called separate but not equal.” Cahill added that even though civil unions provide many of the same opportunities as marriage for homosexual couples, several federal rights are missing. “I can’t get to the word ‘marriage,’ ” Washington said of his discussions with people opposing same-sex marriage. “I’m finding that what’s under marriage is God’s approval,” he said, summarizing the sentiments of those against same-sex marriage as, “If I say that I approve your marriage, I’m saying that God is approving your relationship the way he approves my relationship.” “See me as human,” Washington said in response. “See my relationship as human and as valid as yours.” Cahill suggested that the issue of same-sex marriage should be resolved legislatively, not by the courts. Lending a legal perspective, she said, “We have to keep this conversation going ... and it has to be multitextural.” Advocates have “put too much reliance on the courts to solve the issue,” she said, adding that “we’ve given it over to the courts and don’t really have it ourselves.” A student from the audience asked about how to educate children about homosexuality without parents thinking their children will become gay. “Every social change issue has had to have its fires,” Washington said. “If we think we’ll move this along without that, we are sorely mistaken.” Buck said that intolerance — including the assumption that learning about homosexuality will make people gay — is due to a lack of education. “What if everyone was gay? Well, we’d all dress better,” he said. “But it’s not going to happen,” he added, emphasizing that homosexuality is not learned. The panel ended by reminding the audience that the issue will only be solved if it is talked about. People need to get “under the issue” and tr y to understand each other, Washington said.
Bloodsucking leeches have always had a bad reputation, but now there’s a new leech that doesn’t suck. Conor Klein, a senior majoring in furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design, built the Outlet Regulator, a leech-inspired gadget that disconnects appliances when fully charged. Klein said the purpose of the Regulator, which he constructed last semester, was two-fold: to bring attention to energy overconsumption and to revive the physicality of electronic appliances. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, standby devices — appliances that passively remain plugged into a power source — account for 5 to 10 percent of household electricity consumption. By creating an outlet that can disconnect appliances soon after they have reached their full battery capacity, these numbers would drop significantly, Klein said. “Our lives are being converted into electronic appliances,” Klein said. Because the number of appliances that have a standby button is increasing, the need for a device like this is also growing, he added. Klein built the contraption in his class on biomimicry, a design discipline that focuses on using behaviors and structures from nature to inspire practical appliances. Because he is a functional designer, Klein focused on the behavioral characteristics of a leech, instead of on its structural or physical characteristics. The entire idea stemmed from research that Klein read on parasitic leeches and how they draw
Courtesy of Conor Klein
RISD student Conor Klein created the Outlet Regulator, a contraption that automatically ejects appliances when fully charged.
nutrients from hosts, he said. In this case, electronic appliances such as coffee makers with standby buttons are like leeches because they draw electricity from their parent outlets, which are like leeches’ hosts. But unlike leeches, electronic appliances do not know when to “stop sucking energy,” Klein said, which is where the Regulator comes in. The gadget saves energy by simply disconnecting the device when it is left on standby, he said. Charging appliances connect to an outlet via the Regulator. A cord physically detaches from the Regulator’s main component when
a countdown timer runs its course, Klein said, adding that the fact that the cord physically disconnects is just as important as the invention’s function. “Physicality is disappearing,” he said. By having the device’s parts separate, the user can be certain that the appliance is working. Andrew Mau, a 2009 RISD graduate who was Klein’s sophomore studio teaching assistant, noted Klein’s strong work ethic and diligence. “Conor generally knows what he wants to accomplish and accomplishes it,” Mau said. Mau, who was present at the final critique for the Regulator, said the most important aspect of the Regulator was not that it was conserving energy, but instead that it served as a “physical reminder” of energy overconsumption. So far, the Regulator has appeared on over 50 blogs. Klein said he has received corporate inquiries about the Regulator but declined to say which companies have contacted him. “I didn’t realize it’d get this much attention,” Klein said.
editorial phone: 401.351.3372 | business phone: 401.351.3260
George Miller, President Claire Kiely, Vice President Katie Koh, Treasurer Chaz Kelsh, Secretary
The Brown Daily Herald (USPS 067.740) is an independent newspaper serving the Brown University community daily since 1891. It is published Monday through Friday during the academic year, excluding vacations, once during Commencement, once during Orientation and once in July by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Single copy free for each member of the community. POSTMASTER please send corrections to P.O. Box 2538, Providence, RI 02906. Periodicals postage paid at Providence, R.I. Offices are located at 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. World Wide Web: http://www.browndailyherald.com. Subscription prices: $319 one year daily, $139 one semester daily. Copyright 2010 by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.
C amPuS n ewS
Corporation will discuss budget issues
continued from page 1 areas of the University. This weekend’s meeting is the second meeting specifically dedicated to determining the following fiscal year’s budget since Simmons announced a $740 million decline in the University’s endowment in Januar y 2009. During last February’s meeting, the Corporation set a goal to reduce the University’s projected operating budget by $95 million over the next four years. The University set a goal of reducing the projected budget by $35 million during the fiscal year beginning last July. Due to the scope of the proposed reductions for the next fiscal year, the Corporation — which also meets annually in May and October — will spend more time this weekend meeting as a group rather than in individual committees, Carey said. This weekend’s meeting will be a “modified retreat,” Carey said, adding that the February meeting is more focused because it includes only current members of the Corporation. Members of the Corporation will convene collectively on Friday morning and split into committees — including those on advancement, academic affairs and budget and finance — in the afternoon before reconvening at a dinner at night. (Committees charged with discussing facilities and design, Alpert Medical School, investment and auditing met on Thursday.) The committees will then come together on Saturday to finalize next year’s budget, Carey said. The dinner on Friday evening will include student leaders, faculty and staff, as well as members of the Brown community who served on the ORC committees and the URC, he said. Though these dinners sometimes are devoted to feting specific projects or donations, Carey said Friday’s dinner will be “more of a social event” to allow members of the Corporation to “interact with members of the community.” Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98 will also make a presentation on behalf of the Academic Priorities Committee, Carey said. The Corporation committees may also discuss the proposal for a new school of engineering and possible plans for campus improvements, he said. Though the general points of discussion for this weekend’s meeting are set, the governing body’s final decisions relating to the budget and other areas are difficult to anticipate, said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations. “People think the Corporation is more predictable than it is,” she said. “But they’re a really lively, engaged group, and things change.” continued from page 1 to change the rating on his app from all-ages to 17-or-older. The review team does not only reject apps it deems inappropriate. It also makes sure that submitted apps work properly. “If a button’s not working, they’ll call you up and tell you,” Stix said. “When I’ve needed to change something, they’ve been very helpful.” Topping the charts Once the review team accepts a program, they put it in the App Store on iTunes. Which apps users choose, though, depends on advertising, the quality of the app, the prestige of the developer — and pure luck. There are currently more than 130,000 apps in the store. As a result, “a lot of the content immediately sinks to the bottom, which also makes it pretty tough to get a foothold in the market without luck or an advertising budget,” Kernfeld said. “I’ve seen some great games that have never seen the light of day,” Stix said. Large companies such as EA Games are major players in the apps market, and often buy up brand name games such as Scrabble and Tetris to sell in app form, Stix said. “Solo developers are inherently at a disadvantage because they can’t pay for advertising,” he added. Apple will sometimes use the apps of independent developers in their ads, which can greatly boost the app’s popularity, Stix said. Richman’s original pregnancy test app was featured in the iPhone App Directory, which profiles “the 270 most interesting apps,” Richman said. His app, “Dr. Amy’s Am I Pregnant Quiz,” is currently 55th on the store’s top 100 Healthcare and Fit-
FRIDAy, FEBRuARy 26, 2010
THE BROWN DAILy HERALD
“Me, a college kid, I can make an app and sell it to 50 million people.” — Eric Stix ’12
Student-made iPhone apps compete with big names in gaming
ness apps list, but “when it was first released, it climbed pretty quickly” to the top spot on the category list. Richman created the quiz to turn a pregnancy information Web site — askdramy.com — into an app. The competition is stiffest for game creators, as games comprise the greatest portion of the market. “If you get on the top 100 games, you’re fairly golden,” Stix said. “As soon as you get to that point, there’s a snowball effect.” Stix, Kernfeld and Mitra have all created games in the app market, and Richman said he hopes to make a game in the future. Richman said his Dr. Amy’s program, in its peak at the top of the healthcare and fitness list, was downloaded more than 1,000 times per day. Even without the benefit of advertising, an app can be successful just because it creates a buzz. “You need to have a significant viral component in your app,” Richman said. “There needs to be something that makes people talk about it.” dollars and cents Developers can reap huge profits from successful apps, choosing to charge a fee for downloading the program initially or to rake in revenue from advertisements contained within a free app. Richman uses the latter technique, creating free apps and then relying on advertising revenue to profit from app creation. His next project involves another informationbased app for a different company regarding clinical trials. “There are millions and millions of iPhone users, a whole range of demographics,” he said. “It’s a great idea for a lot of companies” to get their information out through the apps market, so there is a large demand for developers, he added. Mitra, Kernfeld and Stix all choose to charge a fee on the app itself as opposed to placing ads within it. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all pay-per-app revenues. Mitra’s app, ConqWord, is a 99cent, two-player word game that involves trying to take over different parts of a board of letters by forming words. Kernfeld’s app, which he created with Evan Wallace ’12, is also a word game. For 99 cents, users can download the fast-paced Wordtastic, which combines elements of Tetris and Boggle. Stix created a successful game called Kitty Kannon — which reached the top five on the games chart — and an app that automatically adjusts song volume to eliminate volume discrepancies between songs. He now seeks to perfect an old classic — Snake. “There are about 30 copies of Snake already for the iPhone,” he said, but users find the apple-eating snakes in these versions too easy or difficult to control. His app will utilize a better control method, Stix said. App culture While profit may be a main motivator for many developers, it is not the sole reason for entering the market. “Essentially it’s a gold rush right now,” Kernfeld said. “Some apps make a whole lot of money, but there’s a lot of competition, so we were mostly doing it for fun and just to get something out there with our name on it.” “They star ted this amazing trend,” Stix said. “Me, a college kid, I can make an app and sell it to 50 million people.” This “app culture” also brings up questions about “to what extent the relationship between producer and consumer is changing,” said Wendy Chun, associate professor of modern culture and media studies. Apple has moved the spotlight to the developers, and while the computing Goliath still calls the shots, Stix said, “it opened up a whole new opportunity for so many people.” “If you’re an independent developer, you can take big risks,” Stix said, which brings the possibility of big profits. “It’s an added element of creativity that maybe didn’t exist before.” The fact that “The Moron Test,” “I Am T-Pain” and “Knife Dancing” are all on the 100 Top Grossing Apps list speaks for itself.
arts & Culture
The Brown Daily Herald
by suzAnnAh Weiss artS & Culture editor
FRIDAy, FEBRuARy 26, 2010 | PAgE 4
alum’s ‘Dead man’s Cell Phone’ opens at trinity rep
In a world that sometimes seems connected only by airwaves between speakers on their cell phones, what would happen if all other communication between family, friends and acquaintances was lost? The opening scene of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” by Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA’01, running at Trinity Repertory Theatre through March 28, addresses this question when a mysterious diner in a surreally vacant cafe spontaneously keels over in front of his lentil soup. Annoyed with the stranger’s persistently ringing cell phone, Jean, the protagonist and the scene’s only witness, answers it on his behalf. Before she knows it, Jean is a surrogate for the man she comes to know as Gordon, filling in the gaps that his sudden death has left in the lives of his callers. Through Jean’s investigations, embellished with neon lights and paper figures hanging by a clothesline in the background, the Trinity Repertory Company explores the impact of an individual’s physical death alongside a culture’s psychological one. The plot thickens as love affairs, family secrets and illegal trade enter the stage, and Jean buries herself deeper and deeper in the lies she tells to comfort Gordon’s family. “I only knew him for a short time, but I think that I loved him in a way,” she reflects in church shortly after the incident. Typical of Ruhl’s writing, the script is economical and evocative, incorporating a mixture of humorous, philosophical, sentimental and outright absurd moments. Though
award-winning French films featured at fest
continued from page 1 This year, the process of booking the films, which began in November and finished in December, went quickly, Waryn said. Waryn said he hopes the lineup will be “exciting, both in terms of filmmaking and script.” Both Waryn and Kervennic said student attendance in past years has been very good. Most of the spectators are students from Brown or the Rhode Island School of Design, Kervennic said. One of this year’s films is “Polytechnique,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, a film that follows six fictional characters through the story of the massacre at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique 20 years ago, when Marc Lepine shot 28 people, killing 14 women. Another, “36 vues du pic de saint-loup (Around a small mountain),” directed by Jacques Rivette, focuses on a small, struggling circus. After the owner of the circus dies, his daughter returns to the show, leaving the rest of the troupe to wonder why she originally left and why she later came back. Several of the films have already won or been nominated for notable awards. “Flandres (Flanders),” the first film to be shown at the festival, received the Grand Prix at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. “Un Prophete (A prophet),” directed by Jacques Audiard, won the same prize in 2009 and is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The festival also includes some lighter fare — “Panique au village (A town called Panic),” an animated family film directed by Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, and “C’est pas moi, je le jure (It’s not me, I swear),” a humorous film directed by Philippe Falardeau that tells the story of the troublesome and overly imaginative Leon Dore. Waryn said he recommended seeing at least two or three films to get a better feeling for the festival and for French filmmaking as a whole. He said he hopes viewers will be “astounded by the variety” of the films in this year’s festival.
Courtesy of Marilyn Busch
A woman in a cafe becomes entangled in lies about a stranger’s life in “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” which is running at Trinity Repertory Theatre through March 28.
the commentary on modern technology’s damage to human relations is occasionally a little heavy-handed, the play’s otherworldly logic breaks up a somewhat pedantic tone. In the second act, for example, Gordon reveals to the living that the dead gather naked to wash their laundry every week and kiss with their hair instead of their mouths. He also informs the audience that death is like the soup he had for his last meal — “not as bad as you think it’s going to be, but not as good, either.” Beth Milles, director of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” and head of the
Brown/Trinity MFA Program in Directing, called the piece “fantastical” yet “very human.” The play, she said, deals with themes of “intimacy and reaching.” “It’s such a wide journey,” she said. “When you start to work on it, many, many layers reveal themselves.” This project has been a challenge for the cast and crew, Milles said, because “it makes us vulnerable ... to dig into our own personal experience to communicate.” Working at Trinity Rep has been “sort of like being part of someone’s family, and because Sarah Ruhl came
of age here as well, (the company members) feel kind of a protective love for her,” Milles added. Milles said she communicated with Ruhl via e-mail to develop a collective vision of specific moments and characters in the show. Ruhl, she said, was “very supportive” of Trinity Rep’s process. Though it can be hard for playwrights to see their works take on “different resonances” in different productions, “she’s open to it,” Milles said. “The goal was to live up to the play,” she added. “I think Sarah Ruhl is a fantastic playwright.”
Today is Friday. Hip hip hooray, for today. Oh. Check out our blog.
a haiku for www.blogdailyherald.com
a rtS &C ulture
by sArA Chimene-Weiss Contributing Writer
FRIDAy, FEBRuARy 26, 2010
THE BROWN DAILy HERALD
“‘I refuse to give up this other part of myself as I enter medicine.’ ” — Christine Montross MD’06
Three alums receive prestigious fellowships for literature
was at Brown, went on to work on Wall Street for five years after graduation. She said she woke up at 4 a.m. many mornings and wrote for a few hours, before eventually deciding to focus on writing. In New York, Lee helped to found an Asian-American writers’ workshop. After living there for 12 years, Lee accepted a Fulbright Scholarship in Korea, where she researched her first novel, “Somebody’s Daughter.” Lee is currently in residence at Brown’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, and is teaching a creative writing class in the Department of Ethnic Studies, which “looks at how ethnicity is expressed through creative writing,” she said. The chance to teach it is “very Brown,” she added. She credits many of the classes she took at Brown with shaping her writing and the way she looks at the world. With her fellowship, she said, she plans to continue working on her second novel, which she’s been writing for seven years. To do more research for her book, Lee hopes to return to her hometown of Hibbing, Minn., and travel to North Korea as she did last year, an experience she wrote about for the New York Times Magazine. With the fellowship, Derby plans
On Feb. 11, three Brown alums were awarded the prestigious MacColl Johnson Fellowship grant — which is one of the largest “no strings attached” grants for artists in the United States, according to the Rhode Island Foundation’s Web site. House Staff Officer in Psychiatry Christine Montross MD’06, Visiting Lecturer in Race and Ethnicity Marie Myung-Ok Lee ’86, and Matthew Derby MFA’99 each received the $25,000 grant, which is awarded annually by the Rhode Island Foundation, a philanthropic community organization based in Providence. The fellowship is named after Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson, who worked with the foundation to design extensive artist fellowships in the fields of music composition, visual art and literature. Fellows are chosen from one of these fields, which rotate yearly. This year, the three fellows were chosen from 41 applicants based on “artistic excellence, literary development, and creative contribution to the literary field,” with a focus on choosing “emerging to mid-career artists,” according to the foundation’s Web site. Lee, an economics concentrator who wrote for The Herald while she
Courtesy of Rhode Island Foundation
Christine Montross MD’06, Matthew Derby MFA’99 and Marie Myung-Ok Lee ’86, recipients of this year’s MacColl Johnson Fellowship grant.
to take time off from his work as a Web developer and designer to go on a reading tour, according to a press release from the Rhode Island Foundation. A collection of his stories, called “Super Flat Times,” was published in 2003. Derby is the only writer of the three award recipients who is not in the local writing group “Writers Who Drink.” The group “would more accurately be called ‘Writers Who Drink One or Two Beers at the Most Because We All Have Little Kids and So Have to Be in Bed By 10:00 p.m.,’ ” Montross wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Montross wrote that when she heard that she had won the award, “I
was sitting in a little hospital cubicle, and I let out a real shriek!” In addition to earning her MD at Brown, Montross earned an MFA in poetr y from the University of Michigan. Her first book is a nonfiction work called “Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab.” She continues to work as a doctor while writing poetry and prose. While she was a medical student at Brown, Montross took an independent study with Professor of Literary Arts Carole Maso. “It was wonderful to have an official connection -— a reconnection -— to creative writers within the university community. I felt that making a commitment to creative coursework in the midst
of my medical studies was akin to saying, ‘I refuse to give up this other part of myself as I enter medicine,’ ” Montross wrote. “Signing up for that independent study was a way of anchoring my writing self as a permanent fixture alongside my doctoring self,” Montross wrote. She added that she still gives a talk to medical students called “Becoming a Doctor without Losing Yourself.” With her fellowship, Montross wrote, she plans “to write a series of poems engaging the questions about madness and sanity that I encounter as a psychiatrist. Madness fragments the mind. ... Poetry offers a flexibility of form and voice that can mirror that kind of a rupture.”
editorial & letters
The Brown Daily Herald
PAgE 6 | FRIDAy, FEBRuARy 26, 2010
blog daily herald .com
Scientifically proven to be The best for: -procrastination (The Timewaster of the Day) -information (Corporation weekend) -style (Brown Is the New Black) -food (Ratty vs. V-Dub) -clubbing (What to do tonight) and... -lulz =) (Can we haz 1000 visitors by March 1st plz? KTHXBAI)
t h e b r o w n d a i ly h e r a l d
ManaGinG editor Chaz Kelsh deputy ManaGinG editors sophia li emmy liss editor-in-chief george miller senior editors ellen Cushing seth motel Joanna Wohlmuth Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor Editor BuSinESS General ManaGers office ManaGer shawn reilly Claire Kiely Katie Koh ManaGers Arjun Vaidya marco deleon Aditi bhatia Jared davis Trenten nelson-rivers Alexander Carrere Kathy bui Julien Ouellet, designer Mrinal Kapoor, Kate-Lyn Scott, Rebecca Specking, copy Editors
e d i to r i a l
restoring the balance
Brown’s student body is known for being politically active and engaged. A quick glance at the list of student organizations classified as “Service, Political and Social Action Groups” shows that students are involved in a wide variety of causes, including everything from the Brown Animal Rights Club to a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. While the level of activism on campus is laudable, one important cause seems to have gone overlooked: fiscal responsibility in government. Currently, no student organization at Brown is dedicated exclusively to this ideal. As such, we’re calling on a few motivated students to found Brown Students for Fiscal Responsibility in Government, a non-partisan group that will promote awareness of major public fiscal challenges and advocate concrete solutions. Several considerations favor the creation of a new non-partisan group. The federal and state governments face fiscal predicaments that are too perilous to be considered through a partisan lens. A 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office projects that the federal government’s debt is on its way to reaching 170 percent of GDP by 2040, far exceeding the previous high of 109 percent set during World War II. By 2080, debt could surpass 600 percent of GDP. Clearly, the present path is unsustainable, and unless our country can change course, the future seems to hold huge tax increases, major cuts in services, or both. Rhode Island’s state government is also struggling — it projects a $427 million deficit in the coming fiscal year. The real long-term issue, though, is the state employee pension plan, which has roughly $4.3 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to a report released last week by the Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States. The report also noted that Rhode Island is one of eight states without funding to cover over one-third of its total pension liabilities. A new student group could do a lot of good by getting involved on the local level. And by showing a willingness to work toward the state’s long-term fiscal health, the group can bolster the already extremely strong case against last year’s proposed taxes on out-of-state students and large non-profits. If created, this new group should be sure to eschew any hint of partisanship. Recently, neither major political party has been able to establish credibility on fiscal issues. President Barack Obama’s plans to freeze some domestic spending for three years and establish a new deficit panel are reasonable first steps, especially with some economists saying that it is still too early in the recovery to halt stimulus efforts. However, he has yet to develop a comprehensive plan to reverse the damage done to the federal accounts by the economic recessions of 2001 and 2009 and the Bush presidency, which inherited an $800 billion projected annual surplus. In trying to establish itself on campus, Brown Students for Fiscal Responsibility in Government will come up against an interesting challenge: how to make an issue traditionally associated with conservatives and libertarians appeal to a liberal-leaning student body. This challenge is perhaps what excites us most about the possibility of a new group of this sort. The current level of partisanship and gridlock in our government is unacceptable if America is going to continue to prosper in the 21st century. By starting a pragmatic, non-partisan conversation on a contentious issue now, our generation can prepare to do a better job when our turn to lead comes.
EditoriAl Arts & Culture Anne speyer suzannah Weiss Arts & Culture Features brian mastroianni Features hannah moser Metro brigitta greene Metro ben schreckinger News sydney ember News nicole Friedman Sports dan Alexander Asst. Sports Andrew braca Asst. Sports han Cui
directors Sales Kelly Wess Finance matthew burrows client relations margaret Watson Alumni relations Christiana stephenson local Sales national Sales university Sales university Sales recruiter Sales Special Projects Staff
Graphics & photos Graphics Editor Stephen Lichenstein Alex Yuly Graphics Editor Nick Sinnott-Armstrong Photo Editor Max Monn Asst. Photo Editor Jonathan Bateman Sports Photo Editor Production copy desk chief Kelly Mallahan Jordan Mainzer Asst. copy desk chief Marlee Bruning design Editor Anna Migliaccio Asst. design Editor Julien Ouellet Asst. design Editor Neal Poole Web Editor PoSt- mAGAzinE Editor-in-chief Marshall Katheder
oPinionS opinions Editor Michael Fitzpatrick opinions Editor Alyssa Ratledge editorial paGe board Matt Aks Editorial Page Editor Debbie Lehmann Board member William Martin Board member Melissa Shube Board member Gaurie Tilak Board member Jonathan Topaz Board member
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to email@example.com.
Alicia Chen, Nicole Friedman, Brian Mastroianni, Claire Peracchio, Anne Speyer, night Editors
senior staff Writers Ana Alvarez, Alexander Bell, Alicia Chen, Max godnick, Talia Kagan, Sarah Mancone, Heeyoung Min, Kate Monks, Claire Peracchio, goda Thangada, Caitlin Trujillo staff Writers Shara Azad, Nicole Boucher, Kristina Fazzalaro, Miriam Furst, Anish gonchigar, Sarah Julian, Matthew Klebanoff, Sara Luxenberg, Anita Mathews, Luisa Robledo, Emily Rosen, Bradley Silverman, Anne Simons, Sara Sunshine, Qian yin senior sales staff Katie galvin, Liana Nisimova, Isha gulati, Alex Neff, Michael Ejike, Samantha Wong design staff Caleigh Forbes, Jessica Kirschner, gili Kliger, Leor Shtull-Leber, Katie Wilson Web staff Andrew Chen, Warren Jin, Claire Kwong, Michael Marttila, Ethan Richman photo staff Qidong Chen, Janine Cheng, Alex DePaoli, Frederic Lu, Quinn Savit Copy editors Nicole Boucher, Priyanka Chatterjee, Zoe Chaves, greg Conyers, Sarah Forman, Claire gianotti, Aida Haile-Mariam, Tiffany Hsu, Christine Joyce, Mrinal Kapoor, Abby Kerson, Clara Kliman-Silver, Matthew Lim, Sara Luxenberg, Alexandra McFarlane, Joe Milner, Lindor Qunaj, Kate-Lyn Scott, Angell Shi, Carmen Shulman, Rebecca Specking, Dan Towne, Carolina Veltri
CORRECTIONS POLICY The Brown Daily Herald is committed to providing the Brown University community with the most accurate information possible. Corrections may be submitted up to seven calendar days after publication. COMMENTAR Y POLICY The editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial page board of The Brown Daily Herald. The editorial viewpoint does not necessarily reflect the views of The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Columns, letters and comics reflect the opinions of their authors only. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR POLICY Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a telephone number with all letters. The Herald reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity and cannot assure the publication of any letter. Please limit letters to 250 words. Under special circumstances writers may request anonymity, but no letter will be printed if the author’s identity is unknown to the editors. Announcements of events will not be printed. ADVER TISING POLICY The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.
The Brown Daily Herald
FRIDAy, FEBRuARy 26, 2010 | PAgE 7
In which I bite the hand that feeds
A few weeks ago, I attended a standard gathering of Herald opinions writers and editors to lay down rules and explain the ways of the Herald world. Given that I seldom keep track of my fellow columnists, I was excited to see who else was writing. As I scanned the room, I couldn’t help but notice a trend. Looking around the circle of columnists, I saw a boy, a boy, another boy, another boy, a girl … boy … boy … boy … girl ... I counted 13 male columnists and five female columnists. All in all, there are only six female columnists out of 22. A couple of questions sprang to my mind upon observing this fact. One is, how did this happen? Columnists apply for positions, and I am not about to make any accusations that the opinions editors deliberately chose more males than females. In fact, the editors deliberately attempted to solicit female applicants, but few chose to apply. What could be the cause of this massive gender imbalance in The Herald’s opinions section? It could be that females willing to state and defend their opinions publicly are harder to find. For any readers rolling their eyes (“This issue is so 1970!”), I ask you to consider the second question that came to my mind in contemplating this imbalance: Why does it matter? Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe female students can go to school in an environment where they are taught mostly by men, where they study books written mostly by men, and where they read opinions mostly voiced by their male peers, and not allow any of it to impact how they see their roles in public and intellectual discourse. Most colleges in this country have student populations dominated by women (see: “On College Campus, Shortage of Men” in Feb. 5th’s New York Times), after all. Brown has a female president and dean of the College — how can I argue that ment after comment from female students unnecessarily employ minimizing prefaces like “I’m sorry if someone else already covered this, but … ” “Maybe I didn’t quite understand what you were saying, but … ” “I’m sorry if this is off topic … ” Compare the above with what I haven’t seen. I have yet to see a female professor fall into any category aside from “incompepublic discourse. Now, to pose a final question: Is there something about the environment at Brown University, or in higher education in general, that keeps women from joining public discourse with the confidence and candor of their male peers? I would beat a dead horse to argue that this condition exists in the “real world” at large; in politics, in business and in the home, women still face challenges in being heard with the respect and credit given to men, if they’re heard at all. But my concern focuses more on our generation of young adults. Perhaps we aren’t as free from issues of gender difference as we want to believe. When we hear fewer women speak up in class, when we see fewer women leading prominent campus organizations and when we read fewer female-authored columns in the paper, we inadvertently promote the idea that women and men are not on equal footing in public discourse. Not only does this highlight that we are not beyond issues of gender inequality, it implies that the remedy rests with female students themselves. I implore female students at Brown to speak up. I ask you to apply for positions of leadership, to raise your hands to contribute in class and to treat each other in the same way you treat your male peers. Please, before you begin your comments with an excusatory preface, remember “Man Law” number 76: “No excuses. Play like a champion.”
Is there something about the environment at Brown university, or in higher education in general, that keeps women from joining public discourse with the confidence and candor of their male peers?
this environment skews against female students? In light of this argument, I retreat to personal experience. I can only rely on what I’ve seen. I’ve seen discussions in seminar after seminar dominated by male students despite equal or larger numbers of females in the class (though I acknowledge that the experience varies depending on the academic field). I’ve seen female students who do speak up adopt a “tough” — or dare I say “ballsy” — persona in order to make themselves heard. Conversely, I’ve heard com-
tent” for those whose curricula are deemed too easy and “cold” for those who challenge their students. (In contrast, male professors who lead less challenging courses are “chill” and those who don’t treat students well are “brilliant, but mean.”) I have yet to see a female president of the Brown Democrats or College Republicans in my time at Brown. I haven’t seen a female speaker at the Janus Political Union in two years, and I’ve been informed that the Brown Debating Union is mostly composed of males as well. My observations lead me to believe that women at Brown have a hard time joining
Andrea Matthews ’11 initially began her final paragraph with the exact kind of preface she never wants to hear again.
The hypocrisy of moral relativism
By EMILy BRESLIN
Conservative activist James O’Keefe laments that college students are “drowned in relativism.” This is a fairly common criticism of academia, but it is not exactly precise. It is fair to say that American universities are generally socially liberal and that many students and professors value tolerance and respect. This does not entail that these people are moral relativists, or that they believe that any behavior is acceptable. As is apparently rarely discussed, it is impossible to be a moral relativist. Consider what this would mean in practice. In the words of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a moral relativist would believe that “the truth or falsity of moral judgments, or their justification, is not absolute or universal, but is relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of a group of persons.” However, a moral relativist would also presumably have her own beliefs regarding the truth of some moral judgments. She must try to combine her own beliefs with the idea that their truth or falsity is not absolute. As philosopher Thomas Nagel notes, she then arrives at a statement like, “It is true that I believe that p; but that is just a psychological fact about me; about the truth of p itself I remain uncommitted.” Presumably if someone makes this statement, we say that she has to make a choice. Either she believes p and is committed to the truth of p, or she does not believe p. People try to have it both ways out of a concern for political correctness or respect, as I discovered in a gender studies classroom at Brandeis University. We had just discussed how it was very important to be respectful of the views of our fellow classmates, and we extended this idea and talked about how we ought to attempt to develop an understanding of cultural practices within with her. Regardless of which side of the circumcision/genital mutilation debate you are on, I hope you can see my predicament. I had a belief. I was being told that it was disrespectful for me to have an opinion and that I ought to subordinate it. Now, I am fairly certain that most of the class disapproved of female genital mutilation when not engaged in a discussion in the classroom. Even in the classroom, they expressed outrage after watchtice female genital mutilation and refrain from violent paternalistic proselytizing, but the fact is, I have a moral belief and I would lack integrity if I tried to pretend otherwise. Instead of delivering this speech, I blushed and mumbled what amounted to an apology for my belief. That was regrettable. My class eschewed intelligible statements about the value of tolerance and respect for a nonsensical objective relativist perspective. Although they attempted ideological self-immolation because of a misunderstanding about how it is possible to go about respecting other people, they could not succeed at drowning themselves in relativism. We all have beliefs, and we do ourselves and others a disservice when we try to deny this. My gender studies professor can present the strengths of different views and let the class weigh the merits of each of them, but she cannot even implicitly claim that she does not subscribe to one particular view. “Tolerance” and “respect” are wonderful words when we interpret them as involving finding common ground where it exists and identifying and understanding the places where it does not. They are useless when we interpret them as requiring an attempt at denying our own beliefs.
We all have beliefs, and we do ourselves and others a disservice when we try to deny this.
their own contexts. No one mentioned that it is impossible to be a completely objective observer because it is impossible to get outside of one’s own culture and beliefs. We started having problems in the class when I referred to the removal of all or part of the female genitals for reasons unrelated to health as “female genital mutilation.” Another student commented that since the practice was acceptable to some people in some areas of the world, I ought to instead refer to it as “female circumcision” to be respectful of those people who practice it. The rest of the class and the professor agreed
ing a video containing first-person accounts of female genital mutilation. Their misguided attempt at respect left them in a conflict that they failed to identify as they stated that they were completely open-minded and accepting of “female circumcision” yet disapproved of the practice. I would like to say that I stood up and delivered an “I Have a Belief” speech: I have the belief that female genital mutilation is wrong, so I am not going to use the neutral term “cutting” or the tacitly approving term “circumcision.” I hope that I can balance my belief with compassion for people who prac-
Emily Breslin ’10 is a philosophy concentrator from Harvard, Mass. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
The Brown Daily Herald
Hasta la vista to energy waste
to M o r r o w
Alums get grants in the arts
39 / 32 39 / 31
FridAy, FebruAry 26, 2010
s p o rt s a ro u n d t h e b e n d
Women’s basketball hosts Harvard at 7 p.m. Friday and Dartmouth at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Bears lost to the teams earlier in the season, 66-51 and 67-63, respectively. Gymnastics hosts the Ivy Classic at 1 p.m. on Sunday, facing off against Yale, Penn and Cornell. Men’s basketball travels to Harvard for a 7 p.m. game Friday and to Dartmouth for a 7 p.m. game Saturday. Harvard has won four out of its last five games, while the Big Green has gone 1-2 since its loss to the Bears two weeks ago. Men’s hockey closes out its season with a pair of away games — Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. Friday and at Princeton at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Bears beat both teams earlier this season at home. Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams travel to Dartmouth to compete in the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship all day Saturday and Sunday.
d i a M o n d s a n d c oa l
Diamond to the two-sport athletes who are having twice the play, twice the fun. After all, it is a Brown tradition to play on both teams. So mount those wins and play the field! Coal to the University for forming advisory councils on China, Asia and East Asia. While we do value internationalization, the different zoom levels might be excessive. Coal to Professor of Africana Studies and Sociology Paget Henry for reminding us that “we need you to forget about Harvard, to forget about Yale.” We DID — we go to Brown. A diamond to the deputy director and research scholar of the Hastings Center, who said, “It’s not anyone’s fault if no one gets hurt.” Well, if no one has gotten hurt yet, at least it’s still funny. A diamond to Students for a Democratic Society. We are impressed with the ingenuity of your cellophane-clad transparency party, though. Just make sure we aren’t seeing anything from 50 years ago. Coal to whoever is sending threats to the moderator of BrownFML. Why are you trying to eff her life? A back-handed congratulatory coal to the Undergraduate Council of Students, who held a vote on how to vote. The votes are in: We don’t get it. Cubic zirconium to whoever developed the pregnancy test iPhone app. We’re happy for your success, but we’re pretty sure it voids the warranty when you piss on your iPhone. Also, The Herald took the test and there’s a “moderate” chance we’re pregnant. Better put a diamond ring on it. Want more D&C? Check out a retro-diamond from 2000 at blogdailyherald.com, and write your own at diamondsandcoal.com.
c a l e n da r
TodAy, FebruAry 26 3:30 p — Being a Woman Scientist .m. and Faculty Member: The Rewards and Challenges, CDC Library 7:00 p — Date-A-Doctor, List 120 .m. 7:00 p — Our Hands Are Sore From .m. Praying, Rites and Reason Theatre TomorroW, FebruAry 27 6:00 p .m. — Applause for a Cause: Haiti Relief Showcase for Carribbean Heritage Week, Salomon upper Lobby
shArpe reFeCTory lunCh — Rosemary Portobello Sub Sandwich, Chicken with Raisins and Olives, BLT Sandwich dinner — Vegetable Stuffed Peppers, Steamed Vegetable Pilaf, Onion Rings, Teriyaki Salmon Verney-Woolley dining hAll lunCh — Chicken Fingers, Baked Vegan Nuggets, Enchilada Bar, S’mores Bars dinner — Fisherman’s Pie in Puff Pastry, grilled Chicken, Cheese Raviolis with Vodka Sauce
Cabernet Voltaire | Abe Pressman
dot Comic | Eshan Mitra and Brendan Hainline
Fruitopia | Andy Kim
island republic | Kevin grubb