Steve DeLucia
Michael Bechek
Chaz Firestone
Nandini Jayakrishna
Franklin Kanin
Michael Skocpol
Rachel Arndt
Catherine Cullen
Isabel Gottlieb
Scott Lowenstein
Ana Alvarez
Alex Bell
Nicole Boucher
Ellen Cushing
Sydney Ember
Sarah Forman
Brigitta Greene
Kristina Fazzalaro
Sophia Li
Brian Mastroianni
Kelly McKowen
Suzannah Weiss
Marlee Bruning
Jessica Calihan
Gili Kliger
Kim Perley
Leor Shtull-Leber
Katie Wilson
e word con-
jures up B-grade
horror films. It’s a word you’d expect to find in
a work of science fiction from that anxious age
between the invention of the computer and the
day we became comfortable with smartphones
in our pockets and GPS in our cars — when we
realized technology might be OK after all.
In fact, every one of us has become a cyborg,
“a person whose physiological functioning is
aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or elec-
tronic device.” And it was hard for us to think of a
more prototypical cyborg than the average Brown
student: a creature whose productive energies are
spent entirely in the realm of information — first
absorbing, in the classroom and in the library,
then producing, with the attendant flurries of
keystrokes. e college campus has long been a
connected environment, but students now have
access to the outside world more easily than ever
before, summoning information to their screens
with just a click, a tap — wherever we are.
In this issue, you’ll read about the “cyborg
student” — who he is, where he goes and what
he does. What do students do on their laptops
during lecture? Can a cyborg student handle a
week without 21st century technology?
Read on. Resistance is futile.
— e 119th editorial board
Cover photo by Max Monn and Nicholas Sinnott-Armstrong
Commi×cimi×1 io1o | M , | Sivvi×c 1ui commU×i1v u:iiv si×ci 18o1
Schedule of events
Senior orators
Baccalaureate address
Honorary degree recipients
Simmons’ sudden Goldman departure
Cutting back after the financial storm
Application numbers hit new heights
The College Hill reading list
The rise of the cyborg student
In class, online
An addict tries to kick the tech habit
Beyond the skull
A rare mind, taken too soon
Seeing double
A date with destiny
Life in the fast lane
Parting ways
The candidate
A lens on the world
The wounded warrior
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Brown Bear Buffet,
one of Brown’s oldest
traditions. A delicious
meal and entertainment by
Brown acappella groups.
Sharpe Refectory, Main
Dining Room
9 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Campus Dance,
sponsored by the Brown
Alumni Association.
e College Green
Fr i day, May 28
Sat ur day, May 29
Sunday, May 30
9:45 a.m.
Commencement Procession Starts
Faunce Arch, the College Green
10:30 a.m.
Graduate School Convocation
Ceremonial awarding of degrees.
Lincoln Field
11:15 a.m.
e Medical School Convocation
Ceremonial awarding of degrees.
e First Unitarian Church
12:10 p.m.
College Ceremony
Live video broadcast on the College
Green and in Salomon Center, Sayles
Hall and the Pizzitola Center. Live
audiocast into Manning Chapel and
Meehan Auditorium.
e Grounds of the First Baptist Church
in America
12:45 p.m.
University Ceremony. Senior Orations
and awarding of honorary degrees.
e College Green
Diploma Ceremonies immediately
following at assigned locations
as listed in the Commencement
In the event of a severe storm, the storm plan will go
into effect and be announced on the Brown University
homepage. A yellow pennant will be flown on the
College Green flagpole.
9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Forums, a series of
academic colloquia
by faculty, alums and
distinguished guests.
1:30 p.m.
Procession Formation.
Graduating seniors
assemble on Waterman
Street, facing east
toward ayer Street,
with the line beginning
at Faunce Arch wearing
cap and gown. In
case of heavy rain,
graduating seniors
report directly to the
First Baptist Church in
e College Green
2:30 p.m.
Baccalaureate Service.
e multi-faith
ceremony will be video-
broadcast on the College
Green and in Salomon
Center and Sayles Hall.
e First Baptist Church
in America

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Brown Daily Herald
Alumni Reunion
195 Angell St.
Tan Nguyen ’10 is quite the world traveler.
e son of tofu-makers in Vietnam, Nguyen
won a scholarship to attend high school in Sin-
gapore at age 15. Four years later, he was “yanked
out of my comfort zone” after being awarded
another scholarship to attend Brown.
ough his immersion into American cul-
ture and language was “quite intimidating”
for Nguyen, he found his place in the Brown
community, partly with the help of Professor
of Mathematics omas Banchoff, for whom
Nguyen works as a teaching assistant.
Banchoff is not only Nguyen’s adviser and
teacher, but someone he regards as family. Al-
though Nguyen’s parents cannot attend Sunday’s
ceremony, he said he is very happy to have his
“American grandparents,” — Professor and
Banchoff and his wife — with him. Nguyen
says Banchoff encouraged him to write a speech
for Commencement, nominating him to be a
senior orator.
Nguyen’s speech, “Ropewalking”, reminds
graduates to keep their heads up, look straight
and remain confident in all their endeavors.
He was inspired by the “ropewalkers” Brown
students might recognize from watching their
tightroping adventures between trees on the
Main Green. It’s a feat Nguyen said is scary at
first, but doable once you get your bearings.
Nguyen is most proud of his involvement
with the Vietnamese Students Association,
Brown Toastmasters and Buxton International
House. He is receiving both a Bachelor of Sci-
ence in applied math/economics and a mas-
ter’s degree in economics. He will work with
the Breakthrough Collaborative, an academic
achievement program for under-served middle
schoolers, this summer before heading to Bos-
ton in the fall to work at Bain and Company,
a global strategy consulting firm.
Tatiana Gellein ’10 knew she wanted to
work in medicine from an early age. When
it came time to start looking at colleges, the
Seattle native dreamed of attending Stanford
and staying true to her West Coast roots.
en, her college adviser told her about a
certain “very liberal” Ivy League institution
across the country in Rhode Island. Once the
University accepted Gellein into the Program
in Liberal Medical Education, which offers
Brown undergraduates a spot in the Alpert
Medical School, Gellein packed her bags and
headed east.
After Gellein delivers her speech on Sunday,
she will receive a Bachelor of Science in Hu-
man Biology. She will be attending Alpert
Medical School in the fall, and aspires to
later go on to graduate school in public
health. She hopes to go into pediatrics or
family health, with a long-term goal of
creating her own free clinic for low-income
Gellein’s speech, entitled “Jonah Lives in
eory,” discusses the ability Brown students
possess “to embrace their larger-than-life
dreams,” she said, adding that Brown is a place
where those big dreams do not die, even in the
face of insurmountable obstacles.
Gellein has been an active member of
PHASE, instructing Providence high school
students in sex education. She is also a member
of WORD! — a spoken-word poetry group.
— Kristina Fazzalaro
Photos by Kim Perley
David Rohde ’90 is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for
the New York Times whose kidnapping by the Taliban and
subsequent escape made international headlines last year.
Rohde joined the Times in 1996 and was named co-
chief of the South Asia bureau in 2002. His work has
primarily focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He was kidnapped by the Taliban in November
2008 while reporting on the conflicts in those
countries. After seven months in captivity, he
escaped on June 19, 2009. e Times’ report-
ing team, of which he was a member, won a
Pulitzer in 2009 for its coverage on Afghanistan
and Pakistan.
Rohde was earlier awarded a Pulitzer for inter-
national reporting in 1996, for his coverage of the
Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
His work for the Christian Science
Monitor exposed the killing of
7,000 Muslims in the United Nations safe-zone of Srebrenica.
Serbian authorities briefly detained him for his investigation
of the mass graves. Rohde was freed after an international
cohort of reporters campagined for his release. A 1990 gradu-
ate of Brown, Rohde transferred from Bates College at
the beginning of his junior year. He received a
Bachelor of Arts in History. He is married to
fellow Brown alum Kristen Mulvihill ’91.
Rohde’s 1997 book “Endgame: e Be-
trayal and Fall of Srebrenica” discusses his
experience in Bosnia. He authored a five-
part series in 2009 for the Times addressing
his kidnapping, captivity and escape. His
forthcoming book “A Rope and A Prayer: e
Story of a Kidnapping” will recount his
time spent in captivity.
— Kristina Fazzalaro
David Rohde ’90
Former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela will
receive an honorary degree in absentia at Brown’s 242nd
Commencement. A representative of the Embassy of South
Africa will attend to accept the degree on his behalf.
Mandela and former president of South Africa Frederik
Willem de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for
their efforts to dismantle the country’s system of apartheid.
Mandela, who was South Africa’s first black president, led
the country from 1994 to 1999 in a period that sought
truth, reconciliation and justice for the human rights vio-
lations committed during the apartheid period. Mandela
began his political career in the 1940s, with a professed
commitment to non-violent resistance, but came to see
no alternative to violent methods of political struggle. In
the early 1960s, Mandela co-founded the military wing of
the African National Congress and was arrested in 1962,
leading to a 27-year imprisonment on a sabotage charge.
At the age of 91, Mandela remains one of South Africa’s
most iconic figures.
Nelson Mandela
is year Brown will award honorary degrees to eight
individuals prominent in a variety of fields, includ-
ing film, public service and historical scholarship.
e recipients were selected by the Board of Fel-
lows of the Corporation, based on recommenda-
tions from the Advisory Committee on Honorary
Degrees. e committee, which is composed of
faculty, staff and students, solicits nominations
from the campus community each spring.
With five Academy Award
nominations to his name,
Memphis-born actor Morgan
Freeman has had a long and
distinguished film career. His
most memorable big-screen
performances include roles in
“Driving Miss Daisy,” “e
Shawshank Redemption,” “Mil-
lion-Dollar Baby” and, most
recently, a stint as fellow hon-
orary degree recipient Nelson
Mandela in Clint Eastwood’s
Freeman’s acting career began in the 1960s in on- and off-Broadway
productions and soon expanded to the roles in television and mov-
ies. His varied career on the silver screen has included narrating the
2005 documentary “March of the Penguins” and playing Lucius
Fox, Batman’s technology supervisor in “Batman Begins” and “e
Dark Knight.” Nearly 40 years after his movie debut in the children’s
film “Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow?,” Freeman is now the 10th
highest-grossing actor of all time.
Courtesy of South Africa ‘s The Good News
Courtesy of S.C. Webster
Romila apar is a leading scholar of ancient
Indian history. Her research integrates archaeol-
ogy, mythology, philosophy, literature and other
fields to challenge oversimplified portrayals of
Indian history. She received her doctorate in 1958
from London University’s School of Oriental and
African Studies.
A professor emerita of history at Jawaharlal
Nehru University in New Delhi, apar is the
author or co-author of 15 books and has taught
at Cornell, Dartmouth and the University of
Pennsylvania. In 2008, she was a co-recipient
of the $1 million Kluge Prize, awarded by the
Library of Congress for lifetime achievement in
the study of humanity.
Romila Thapar
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In 1968, Barbara Liskov was the first U.S.
woman to earn a doctorate in computer sci-
ence. Last year, Liskov, a professor and the
associate provost for faculty equity at the
Massachusetts Institute for Technology, was
honored with the A.M. Turing Award, the
field’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize.
Liskov’s achievements in computer science
include developing programming languages
that ultimately laid the foundation for soft-
ware programs on personal computers and
the Internet. In her position as associate
provost, Liskov works to increase minority
representation among MIT’s faculty.
“I think there has been a tremendous
amount of progress,” Liskov said of the num-
ber of female students and faculty in math,
the sciences and engineering, though “we’re
still a long way from gender equity.”
Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur who be-
gan writing short stories at the age of 16 has
been imprisoned four times over the course of
her literary career. Parsipur and lives in Cali-
fornia as a political refugee, is the author of
“Touba and the Meaning of the Night” and
“Women Without Men,” two novels exploring
women’s place in Iranian society. e author
was imprisoned twice for “Women Without
Men,” which speaks openly against women’s
sexual oppression.
ough “Touba” was a best-seller in Iran, Par-
sipur’s work is now banned in her native country.
Her writing, which includes numerous novels,
short stories, essays and a memoir that recounts
her experiences in jail, has been translated from
Persian into English, German, Italian, Spanish
and several other languages. Parsipur, who was
the first recipient of Brown’s International Writ-
ers Project Fellowship in 2003, has also received
a Lillian Hellman/Dashiell Hammett Award
from the Fund for Free Expression.
Shahrnush Parsipur
e national president of Planned Parenthood Federation of
America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Cecile Richards
’80 is a long-time advocate for social justice. She has worked as an
organizer for low-wage workers and founded America Votes, a na-
tional coalition of more than 40 organizations that works on voting
rights, voter education and mobilization and the Texas Freedom
Network, a grassroots organization that monitors issues related to
religious freedom and individual liberties in Texas.
Cecile Richards ’80
Distinguished historian Gordon
Wood formally retired in 2008, after
nearly 40 years at Brown and five years
of part-time teaching. But Wood —
who lectured at the White House in
1991 on the presidency of George
Washington — hasn’t been idle since
his retirement. His volume in the Ox-
ford History of the United States,
“Empire of Liberty: A History of the
Early Republic, 1789-1815,” was pub-
lished in fall 2009 and was a finalist
for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for history.
It won the New York Historical Soci-
ety’s annual book prize — an award
whose other candidates included his
daughter Amy’s first book.
Wood’s other books include Pu-
litzer winner “e Radicalism of
the American Revolution” and “e
Creation of the American Republic,
1776-1787.” He is currently compil-
ing a Library of America volume of
John Adams’ writing.
Courtesy of Rwoan
Courtesy of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
David Rohde ’90 will be giving this
year’s baccalaureate address. See page
5 for his profile.
Rohde ’90
— Sophia Li
Simmons’ resignation at
Goldman still a puzzle
For almost 10 years, President Ruth
Simmons’ service on the board of Gold-
man Sachs Group was very much under
the radar.
en, this past winter, as the world was
waiting to see what CEO Lloyd Blankfein
would take home after a tremendous $68
million bonus in 2007, a handful of students
and bloggers began to realize that Brown’s
own president was one of a group of just 10
directors who had the responsibility to set
executive pay, as well as to oversee practices
for which the firm has come under such
scrutiny in recent months.
When I interviewed Simmons for a Her-
ald article in early February, she said her ties
to the Wall Street giant would not harm the
University’s image. She joined Goldman’s
board in 2000 while serving as president
of Smith College, and said her position on
the board had given her a certain economic
savvy that helped her do her full-time job
at Brown better. She also spoke about the
importance of sticking to commitments.
People have an obligation, she said, to “do
the best we can and do it ethically, but not
to be buffeted about.”
A few days after the interview was pub-
lished –– and still a few months before the
SEC suit and the Congressional hearings
— I was surprised to read a Goldman press
release stating that Simmons would not
stand for re-election as a director due to
“increasing time requirements associated
with her position as President of Brown
University” — the same reason she gave
for stepping down from Pfizer in 2007. I
nervously sent off an e-mail to Simmons,
worried I had misrepresented her views.
Less than an hour later, I received a reply in
which she explained that she had made her
decision a few days after our interview. She
stood by what she had told me. She assured
me it had been a complicated decision that
involved factors she was not yet at liberty
to talk about.
A few weeks after the press release an-
nounced the end of Simmons’ tenure at
Goldman, the issue was thrust into the na-
tional spotlight when the New York Times
ran a feature by Graham Bowley on the front
page of the business section about Brown’s
“bogeyman of Wall Street” (whatever image
that was supposed to conjure of Simmons)
that portrayed a campus in uproar. I had met
with Bowley in e Herald’s office about a
week before his story ran, when he spent a
day on campus trying to make sense of the
ordeal, asking the question that was surely
on the minds of many shareholders: What
was spurring Simmons to leave? But ad-
ministrators, and Simmons herself, refused
to speak to Bowley, and the only student
quoted was a Herald columnist who had
railed against Simmons’ Goldman ties in
several of his columns. Despite the article’s
portrayal of Brown, there had not been ral-
lies, petitions or mass movements. Readers
of the Times read about a controversy that
never really existed to such a great degree.
But the article prompted a rash of blog posts
about Simmons’ position on Goldman’s
board nonetheless.
On May 7, Goldman held its annual
shareholder meeting, and Simmons did not
run for re-election, finally washing her hands
of the mess.
As a Goldman director for all but a year
of its life as a public company, Simmons
had a hand in all of its dealings, if nothing
more than her silent consent. e extent to
After fiscal
storm, a slow
return to strength
As Brown’s budget guru and planner ex-
traordinaire, Beppie Huidekoper runs a tight
ship. Her desk is covered with memos and
documents, her schedule a solid block of ap-
pointments. But despite her chronic opti-
mism, the aftermath of the recent financial
crisis has proved a challenge to even this most
seasoned of administrators.
e office of the executive vice president for
finance and administration, in the northwest
corner of University Hall, is a clearinghouse
for everything regarding the University’s re-
sponse to the financial crisis. Brown is “always
adjusting” long-term financial projections,
Huidekoper says, but the last three years have
been turbulent to say the least.
Between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009,
the University’s
lost $740 mil-
lion, falling
nearly 25 per-
cent to about
$2 bi l l i on.
soon reduced
anticipated fu-
ture spending
by around $95
million for the
five-year period ending in 2014. Still strapped
for revenue to meet this year’s budget, they
elected to draw from the endowment at an
unsustainable 6.5 percent.
e $95 million in reductions was divided
roughly into thirds — $35 million was im-
mediately trimmed from the budget for the
2010 fiscal year, and about $30 million was
excised from anticipated spending for the fol-
lowing 12 months. e University will soon
determine the time and depth of cuts for the
remaining $30 million in projected reduc-
tions. Budgets will depend on the endow-
ment’s return, market conditions, fundraising
success and other factors.
Students, faculty and staff participated in a
faculty and staff
in a review of
spending this
year, looking for
areas that could
be streamlined or
continued on page 10 continued on page 10
Herald File Photo
which Simmons played a role in overseeing the practices that
have come under scrutiny from lawmakers is still unknown —
and indeed, her positions may not have been reflected in the
ultimate choices made by a board with 10 directors. We can
hope that in the months and years after she distances herself
from Goldman, she will be more open to discussing her role in
leading the company.
How much we care about her work on Goldman’s board will
depend on the verdict of history regarding Goldman’s role in the
financial crisis. With heightened national attention, much of
left-leaning Brown is turning more strongly against Goldman,
even while others, in turn, deride the Congressional hearings as
a political stunt to bring about more regulation.
Depending on how things plays out, Simmons’ tenure may be
cast either in a light of righteous opposition to corporate greed
or of ordinary service on a corporate board, an activity common
for today’s college presidents. But there is also the potential
— as some on campus have argued — that Simmons’ term at
Brown will someday be seen to represent the corporatization of
higher education, a time when an Ivy League president either
contributed to the corporate malfeasance that led the country
into crisis, or else sat idly by and watched it happen.
comprehensive review of spending this year, looking for areas that
could be streamlined or cut. Many employees — 139 of them —
will take advantage of a new early retirement program, and most
of their positions will remain unfilled. e University also endured
two rounds of layoffs — 30 staff were laid off last spring, and 60
additional positions have been eliminated this year. ere will be
less funding allocated for travel and food. Dining Halls will change
their offerings, shorten their hours.
But administrators — perhaps buoyed by the economy’s strong
performance of late — remain confident that initial doomsday
projections will continue to soften. Market returns, sponsored
government research funding and fundraising have been stronger
than expected, according to Huidekoper. By June 30, after the
University has used up about $130 million in endowment funds as
part of this year’s budget, the endowment is still expected to return
to about $2.1 billion.
Under the guiding hand of President Ruth Simmons, adminis-
trators have attempted to stick to the University’s core values while
responding to fiscal constraints. Financial aid funding, for example,
has actually increased.
“A budget is a budget. An endowment is an endowment,” Sim-
mons said in September. “But there is also something called a
mission of a University.”
Farewell to Goldman
continued from page 9
Balancing the budget
continued from page 9
Want more Brown news?
As applications for Brown’s class of 2014 poured
in, the Admissions Office overflowed with paper
— literally. With a flood of application papers that
exceeded the office’s capacity, Alumnae Hall had
to be temporarily transformed into a holding area
for the huge stacks of prospective talent.
e task facing the admissions office was, for
Brown, unheard of. Once admissions officers
had read through the over 30,000 applications
— 20.6 percent more than the previous year —
acceptance letters were sent to only 9.6 percent
of applicants, making this Brown’s most selective
freshman class to date.
Many of Brown’s peer institutions experienced
similar surges. In the past three years or so, colleges
everywhere have been reporting record-breaking
application numbers. Every Ivy League school
except Yale broke its record for most applica-
tions, though only Princeton approached Brown’s
percentage surge. For the first time, a majority of
Ivies posted single-digit acceptance rates.
According to Dean of Admission Jim Miller
’73, it took Brown 215 years to reach 10,000 ap-
plications. It took nearly a decade to double that
total. And the last 10,000 applications have come
in just the past two years. He partly attributes this
recent rise in applicants to the economy, which
he says has caused many prospective students
and parents to partake in a “flight to quality” in
With job markets as fiercely competitive as
ever, many parents may continue to view the
Brown degree as a worthy investment — albeit
a pricey one.
A notable aspect of the recent surge is not only
the number of students, but where they come
from. anks to recruitment efforts targeting
first-generation and international students, the
class of 2014 will include many more students
from populations underrepresented at Brown,
Miller says. irty-five percent of the accepted
students this year qualify as students of color, the
most ever, he said. Credit is due in large part to
the implementation of a need-blind admissions
process by President Ruth Simmons in 2002,
Miller says.
Whether Brown will be able to convince these
accepted students to actually matriculate is another
story. Along with the steady rise in applications,
the University has experienced a congruent decline
in its yield rate, the measure of how many accepted
students choose Brown over other options. is
trend has not been entirely unique to Brown
— as graduating seniors are applying to a larger
number of schools, yield rates nationwide have
decreased. Miller said he hopes Brown, with its
increased selectivity and efforts toward building
international visibility, can become more com-
petitive with schools such as Harvard, Yale and
An unfortunate by-product of a large pile of
applications is a large pile of rejection letters.
One can only wonder how many members of
the class of 2010 would still stand a chance in
today’s intensely competitive pool. But while
high selectivity always leads to the regrettable
rejection of hundreds of worthy students, Miller
thinks because of the added attention to recruiting
students from underrepresented backgrounds, the
selection process allows the school to choose not
only the most talented, but also the most diverse
class possible.
Miller said he is hesitant to make predictions
about future numbers, but he wouldn’t bet on a
decline in applications. And since all applications
will be processed electronically starting next year,
there should be no need for the Admissions Office
to take over Alumnae Hall again.
Brown at the Beach: A College Hill reading list
Summer reading may not have been
mandatory since high school, but a lack
of requirements has never stopped Brown
students from broadening their minds. So
here it is, e Herald’s very own list of
must-reads for this summer, featuring books
by members of the Brown community.
The Genius in All of Us
David Shenk ’88
For anyone reeling from sticker shock at
Brown’s tuition, this book may be a com-
fort. is science-heavy but accessible work
dissects biologists’ findings that intelligence
and talent are developed rather than pre-
determined. Shenk, a journalist and best-
selling author, told e Herald in April
the book is essentially about “how people
get good at stuff,” a point underscored by
his ambitious subtitle, “Why Everything
You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent
and IQ is Wrong.”
Further Adventures in the Restless Uni-
Dawn Raffel ’79
e title of Raffel’s second collection of
short stories was drawn from a supposedly
“user-friendly” physics guide her father read
to her as a child. Influenced by that memory
and the recent death of her parents, Raffel
composed 21 very short vignettes on family
life, featuring women struggling to balance
various domestic roles and family members
struggling to connect.
Mean Free Path
Ben Lerner ’01 MFA’03
“Last year alone, every American choked
to death on a red balloon,” reads a line
from one of Lerner’s fresh and startling
poems. e award-winning poet’s third
poetry collection blends “celebration and
mourning, ode and elegy — within a mili-
tarized and commercialized language,” the
author explained in an e-mail. In this per-
sonal exploration, Lerner focuses on the
breakdown of language in the pursuit of
exploring politics.
World Cup 2010: The Indispensable
Guide to Soccer and Geopolitics
Harry Stark ’11 and Steven Stark P’11
If you’ve been feeling adrift since the
winter Olympics ended, never fear. is
book from the father-son duo introduces
the history of the soccer (football for the
non-Yanks) World Cup and its influence
on international relations. Score a copy
before the games begin in South Africa
June 11.
numbers soar,
admit rate drops
Herald File Photo
A record number of applications for the
class of 2014 forced admission officers to
move filing operations to Alumnae Hall.
continued on page 13
The Short Bus:
A Journey Beyond Normal
Jonathan Mooney ’00
Diagnosed as dyslexic and learning-dis-
abled as a child, Mooney did not learn to
read until he was 12. He went on to graduate
from Brown with honors in English literature.
Years later, plagued by a sense of inferiority,
he set out on “an epic journey across the
U.S. on a broken-down short bus,” like one
of those reserved for disabled schoolchildren.
His memoir chronicles the trip and his efforts
to redefine normalcy for those who, according
to his website, live “outside the lines.”
Making Rounds with Oscar:
The Extraordinary Gift
of an Ordinary Cat
Assistant Professor of Medicine David
e Grim Reaper takes many forms, and
at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilita-
tion Center he is Oscar the cat. Oscar made
headlines in 2007 after Brown geriatrician
Dosa published an article in a science journal
about the animal’s uncanny ability to identify
dying patients, snuggling up to them and
their loved ones. Dosa, who was skeptical,
has turned his observations into a book, real-
izing along the way that Oscar’s real gift is the
comfort he can provide for the patients.
American Vampire (series)
Stephen King and Scott Snyder ’98
Art and Cover by Rafael Albuquerque
Watch out Edward Cullen, Skinner Sweet
is swaggering into town. Sweet is the any-
thing-but vampire villain of the new comic
book series by Snyder, a fiction and comic
book writer, and horror aficionado King.
“American Vampire” is the creative brainchild
of Snyder, who enlisted King to write the
backstory for the titular fanged character.
Snyder himself fleshes out the narrative of
naive actress Pearl Jones, while Albuquerque
illustrates this newest addition to the vam-
pire fiction genre, a bloody comic leaping
across American history from the Old West
to 1930’s Hollywood.
— Suzannah Weiss
continued from page 11
Summer reading
Thanks for
how the internet has|
how the internet has changed the world
how the internet has changed our lives
how the internet has changed business
how the internet has changed society
how the internet has changed education
how the internet has changed communication
how the internet has changed
how the internet has changed social activities
how the internet has changed the music industry
how the internet has affected society

The University’s website has received its fair
share of criticism since its unveiling in 2006. It
can be counter-intuitive, confusing and difficult to
navigate. A new design is currently in development,
to find what University administrators call a “better
fit” for Brown. All of this is despite sifting through
40 shades of brown and paying hefty professional
design fees only four years ago, when the current
class of 2010 began looking around for the right
“fit” of their own.
The whole exercise seems a bit absurd until one
takes a quick look around campus: Students are
on the Internet constantly, bringing their laptops
and smartphones everywhere. The libraries are
filled with people reading books and articles on
scanned databases while their bound brethren
languish on the shelves. Google has become the
new mom, answering questions about casseroles,
nagging coughs and tipping procedures from pretty
much anywhere.
This coexistence defines the Brown student
today: a sort of cyborg, an amalgamation of person
and hardware that emerges equally in the class-
room and on Facebook. To many, the University’s
website, not the Van Wickle Gates, is the main
gateway into the world of Brown — a hub that is
worth the effort for Brown to get right.
But in this mad rush to situate Brown in digital
discourse, where does the University’s mythology
fit in? What’s happened to the idea that this is a
place where students navigate through seemingly
infinite perspectives in search of their own? How
do the ideals of the New Curriculum stand up to
a radical new way of learning and thinking about
scholarship? And how are long-standing dynam-
ics — between teacher and student, writer and
reader, active and passive — adjusting to this total
reconception of what it means to be part of the
Brown community?
Life in a wired Brown
When Michael Pickett, vice president for com-
puting and information services and chief informa-
tion officer, talks about his job, he beams.
“Sometimes I go home and think, ‘They pay
me to do this?’ ” he said, playing with his newly
purchased Apple iPad, which he is personally test-
ing for potential University use.
Switching easily between folksy idioms and cor-
porate IT lingo, Pickett exists on campus largely to
make technology available, secure and easy to use
for Brown’s faculty and its “born-digital students,”
as he calls them.
“We value the conversations we have with stu-
dents” about technology, he said, pointing to the
University’s conversion from an internal e-mail
and scheduling system to Google’s free education
tools as the result of student input about what is
most useful.
The new Google Apps suite, which includes
e-mail, shareable web documents and calendars,
is “rated for business,” he said, and comes with
a slew of privacy protection and support options.
Pickett states proudly that the institutional version
of Google “was not hacked by the Chinese,” as the
everyday commercial version that anyone can use
reportedly was.
The new system will also allow for an unprec-
edented amount of interconnectivity among depart-
ments, and between students and professors, that
puts Brown ahead of the curve among comparable
schools, Pickett said.
“One of the greatest things about Brown is the
conversations between students and faculty and
students and themselves,” he said. The ability to
facilitate new and better communication with things
like Google Apps is “very Brown.”
Perhaps a more difficult part of the University’s
efforts in technology is identifying which services
and hardware are demanded where. Four years
ago, Computing and Information Services was in
the middle of a push to increase the availability of
a then somewhat novel service: wireless Internet.
In dorm rooms, on the college greens and in class-
rooms, little white boxes with blinking green lights
were being installed, a new selling point for the
University as well as a gamble on its importance
for the future.
Now, Wi-Fi has almost completely usurped
traditional plug-in Internet service. “It’s been a
real game-changer,” said Margaret Klawunn, vice
president for campus life and student services.
Klawunn said even the most mundane issues,
like increasing the number of plugs for comput-
ers in study spaces, often dominate discussions
with students about how to improve their quality
of life.
“We look at where academic work is located,
what it looks like and what (students) need to do
it,” she said.
Shelves, at a threshold
Increasingly, this has meant places other than
the traditional center of study, the library. Or at
least, not the library of yesteryear, where young
scholars poured over tomes with that slightly funky
smell that comes from years in the stacks.
Circulation of hard-copy books has dropped
by about 15 percent in the last 10 years, accord-
ing to University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi,
who oversees all of Brown’s library collections.
Purchases of new books have slowed as well, and
ink and paper now receives a steadily shrinking
share of the library’s resources.
At first glance, it might seem that libraries may
be on their last legs. But amid these trends, library
attendance, measured by the number of card swipes
at entry points, has skyrocketed. Last year, Brown’s
libraries saw more than one million unique entries.
Students and faculty downloaded more than 1.75
million full-text articles from subscription services
in that same period. Hemmasi said the library’s
budget for electronic resources has jumped from
what was once just $20,000 per year to a whopping
$6 million in 2009.
These shifts suggest a changing role for the
library, from a place where students find resources
to a place where they use them.
That’s why Hemmasi emphasizes “access.”
Students don’t need trade books that “every other
school has” — they can access them online, or
through book-sharing services with other, more
conventional libraries, she said.
“What we need to focus on is what researchers
need and can’t get anywhere else, the rare things
other libraries don’t have,” she said. In part, this
means acquiring the ancient maps, constitutional
documents and papers of luminaries the University
likes to tout on its website. But it also means mak-
ing these rare and fragile documents available for
everyday student use.
“Right now, it is like (rare materials) have chains
on them,” Hemmasi said. But, she added, “natural
user interfaces” can improve students’ access to
such documents. These interfaces are, essentially,
touch-screen computers that allow users to mimic
“real-life actions,” like ripping pages out of docu-
ments or hand-rotating precious and exceedingly
fragile scanned materials on the digital screen.
The Microsoft Surface, a product with a multi-
touch interface, is slated to go into use next year.
F\‡ERUJ (n.)
a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.
continued on page 16
Where does the University’s
mythology— as a place
where students navigate
through seemingly infinite
perspectives in search of
their own — fit in? How
do the ideals of the New
Curriculum stand up
to a radical new way to
learning and thinking about
Hemmasi also envisions collaborative computer walls,
where groups of students can work on projects and
presentations together, a sort of “social studying”
— an idea growing more and more important in
Hemmasi’s library system. New areas like the Rock-
efeller Library’s Finn Reading Room and the Sci-
ences Library’s Friedman Study Center and science
resource center also offer new ways for students to
interact around work.
But do all of these futuristic tools and social
study spaces really belong in a library? What about
Increasing the availability of resources in any way
possible does “everything that’s good about books
and so much more,” Hemmasi said.
“What is study about today that it wasn’t about
before?” she said. “Our job is not to dictate how (stu-
dents) use library resources or library space. Our job
is to provide access to what people want.”
Gizmos and peptide bonds
The popular conception of a “classroom of the
future” looks a lot like Assistant Professor of Biology
Arthur Salomon’s lecture course in biochemistry.
Salomon can rattle off a list of about a dozen innova-
tions currently in use in his 245-person lecture course,
from online lecture streaming to an electronic grading
system that allows for students to receive e-mails with
scanned PDF copies of their graded exams within
24 hours of the test.
“Anything we can dream up, we will try it,” Sa-
lomon said, and the collection of self-created pro-
grams catalogued on his website bears witness to
this fact.
But the technological march forward has not
come without snags. He estimated that posting lec-
ture videos online led to a 30 percent decrease in
attendance after he introduced the practice four
years ago. To encourage attendance and “interactiv-
ity” — Salomon’s word for class participation — he
introduced in-class pop quizzes.
Students use wireless clickers to answer a ques-
tion at some point during the lecture. (Think “Ask
the Audience” on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”)
Despite significant attrition in the lecture hall once the
day’s question has been asked, Salomon credits the
clickers with counteracting the drawbacks of putting
lectures up for all to see whenever they want.
Salomon speaks with pride about the streamlin-
ing, anonymity and speed that these improvements
offer. The availability of the online resources has
largely replaced students’ need to actually talk to the
In search of the cyborg student
If you listen closely, you can hear two
sounds wafting through Salomon 001 as As-
sociate Professor of Sociology Leah Vanwey
lectures to the students in her introductory
statistics class.
e first, drifting down from the ceil-
ing, is the whir of the dual overhead projec-
tors, splaying Vanwey’s PowerPoint slides
across screens on either side of the room.
e second, rising up from all corners of
the room, is the lilting clatter of keys — a
persistent soundtrack to the day’s lecture
on regressions.
As students’ eyes flit between the glowing
screens perched in front of them and the
slides projected on the wall, Vanwey waits
for an answer, but none is forthcoming.
She’s chosen to use a hypothetical data set
about people’s computer use to model a
regression line on the board, but no one is
volunteering a value.
“Okay,” she says, “maybe you average
10 hours a week on the computer in the
It is moments like these that I set out to
capture when I ventured into five lectures
over the course of two days to observe stu-
dents’ use of technology — laptops suck-
ing students’ attention toward Facebook
and GMail, the silent crush of wireless data
drowning out the professor’s best attempts
to compete. But, while I found some poster
children for a laptop ban, the reality of the
situation proved more nuanced.
Vanwey’s class, for example, did have its
share of cyborg students, seemingly mind-
melded to their laptops. e back row in
particular was littered with them — one
student glanced up from her computer only
twice during the last 10 minutes of lecture.
But there was another student who spent
her time calling up the current lecture slides
from the course Web page and tapping out
her notes right in the margins, scrolling
forward and backward to refresh or linger
over a point. And a majority of students in
Vanwey’s class, as was true in all five that I
visited, used no computer at all.
ere is no question that 21st-century
technology has already penetrated deeply
into Brown’s classrooms, carried there by lap-
top-toting students and PowerPoint-reliant
professors alike. But its effects are difficult to
generalize. Students have more control now
over what information they can consume at
any given moment in the classroom than
they have ever had before, and they choose
different ways to employ it.
Where we go when we go to class
Classroom distraction is hardly an infor-
mation age invention. Few people would
be surprised if archaeologists announced
tomorrow that ancient cave paintings were
actually the doodles of bored caveman pupils
daydreaming of the buffalo hunt. But armed
with laptops, students often satisfy even the
most fleeting whim or passing urge with an
immediate tap of a finger. Disconnecting
from a lecture lull is as easy as connecting
to just about anything else in the Google
On the same afternoon as Vanwey’s class
met, Professor of Economics Glenn Loury
delivered the semester’s final lecture of “Race
and Inequality in America” to a couple dozen
students in a small classroom on the second
floor of Wilson Hall. As Loury read through
an impassioned summation, touching on
Barack Obama’s presidency and the legacy
of slavery, half a dozen students had laptops
One student, the glowing workspace of
his widescreen MacBook Pro easily visible
to all but the professor from his seat near the
front row, flipped back and forth between his
e-mail, the technology blog Gizmodo and
the Wall Street Journal’s website, searching
for articles about the television site Hulu. In
front of him, another student casually flipped
between Facebook and celebrity blogs. An-
other clicked through field hockey photos.
Facebook and e-mail accounts were
almost universal draws for students with
laptops in the five classes I visited — all
but the most diligent note-takers indulged
themselves a quick e-mail check or newsfeed
perusal. e New York Times, Wikipedia,
Google and — to be fair — Brown’s My-
Courses site were also popular attractions.
Most students (though by no means all)
who had laptops had at least a leaf of typed
lecture notes open, if not the class slides.
Twitter, it should be noted, received only
one brief visit from a single student during
my hours of observation.
Some students rhythmically flitted be-
tween the Internet and their notes at regular
intervals throughout the class, maintaining a
staccato ballet as they deftly shifted among
three, four or five open windows. One stu-
dent returned to Facebook easily a dozen
times in the space of one lecture.
Others were seized by sudden technologi-
cal compulsions, like the student in “Envi-
ronmental Science in a Changing World,”
continued from page 15
continued on page 21
continued on next page
class instructors. To make up for this lack of com-
munication, the class has a live blog for students to
ask questions and an online extra-credit discussion
group for bio chatter.
This all might sound like a little much — like the
proverbial old lady who swallowed a spider because
she swallowed a fly. What about the basics — a
professor speaking to his students?
“Students come to me to learn biochemistry,”
Salomon said. The technology helps with that, so
what if there is less personal interaction?
To Jacob Murray ’12, the “so what” is funda-
“There is something to be gained from interac-
tion” with professors, Murray said. Learning to
communicate and get to know people — profes-
sors and students alike — is part of the unique
Brown experience, he said. “If the University did
not provide space to learn that skill, that would be
concerning,” he said.
Murray seems to share with many current stu-
dents a sense of excitement for a more responsive
and interactive future coupled with reluctance to
give up what feels like the right way to learn.
In terms of technology in the classroom, Mur-
ray said he hasn’t been “blown away” by anything a
professor has thrown at him. Then pressed for what
would send him aloft, he suggested more interactiv-
ity — instant polls, “something dynamic.”
“Professors are more motivated to interact with
the class if they don’t have the tools,” like Power-
Point presentations, that can cheapen the written
word or limit flexibility, he said.
“Some of the best lecturers are professors who
write on the chalkboard and aren’t reliant on exter-
nal things,” he said.
The new New Curriculum?
The role of technology in scholarship reaches
beyond cool clicker gadgets in classrooms, as the
availability of countless journal articles, new data
sources and affordable computers with real process-
ing capabilities change not just how people research,
but what kinds of questions they ask.
It is a bedrock assumption in statistical theory
that as the amount of available information becomes
infinite, the probability of finding a piece of infor-
mation within that huge trove approaches zero. It
is a result as fundamental to the modern study of
the probabilistic universe as it is counterintuitive
— though in the age of 24-hour news and over 75
million unique Twitter accounts, one begins to get a
picture of a future where anything useful is absorbed
into the infinite expanse that is the Internet.
With this seemingly infinite supply of potential
data, scholarship in the Internet Age is about more
than just the sheer volume of information. It requires
an entirely different approach to research, one that
finds the digital diamond in the rough, albeit with
a little help from resources like Google Scholar
and WorldCat.
Or a massive, 14 teraflop, multi-million dollar
supercomputer, which booted up on campus this
spring, providing 50 times more processing power
than anything Brown has had before. The super-
computer is the latest move in a concerted effort
to tap massive stores of data more effectively for
teaching and research.
Jan Hesthaven, professor of applied mathematics
and director of the computational center, said the
new tool is necessary for the growing, multidisci-
plinary demand for computing power.
“There’s no expectation that researchers have
their own library,” he said. Just as there is a shared
library for book resources, there is a “shared com-
puting infrastructure.”
Hesthaven is clearly practiced in talking about
the benefits of the computer, citing potential applica-
tions for research, collaboration and even enrich-
ing high school curricula. He described how new
sources of data beg for both new kinds of analysis
and new questions.
“The data become your experiment,” he said.
The influx of data from websites such as Facebook,
the human genome project, and the U.S. census “in-
spires researchers to ask ‘how can I study this?’”
It is worth noting that the probability theory
described above is taught at Brown mostly in de-
cidedly untechnological classrooms, with students
scribbling hand-written notes in notebooks. The sort
of monumental changes that Hesthaven implies in
his tech talk have implications beyond just using
technology itself.
Professor of American Civilization Susan Smu-
lyan has spent much of her career looking at the
way technology and society interact and shape each
other’s development.
Recently, she has looked toward digital scholar-
ship and social media, asking how such tools change
the dynamic between teacher and student.
“New media break down the boundary between
research and teaching,” she said. Internet technol-
ogy allows for projects and collaborations that are
both instructive and instructing, challenging the
traditionally authoritative divide between presenter
(professor) and learner (student).
But this begs the question of whether that is
necessarily a good thing. Many student research
projects start and finish on the Internet. Do the
infinite resources available on the web give stu-
dents too much freedom to decide what parts of
cyberspace to use without adequate filtering? Are
there any drawbacks to increasingly available web
“What danger could there be?” Smulyan re-
peated, almost hurt by the question. “For me, it’s
that there’s not enough stuff available” — said with
the conviction of a true believer in what she calls
an “information revolution.”
“We have always told students to look at sources
critically, and that hasn’t changed,” she said.
Prognosticating the future
When people — even at left-leaning Brown —
talk about technology, it’s hard not to hear echoes
of the philosopher Friedrich von Hayek, whose
liberal ideas about freedom in society undergird
libertarian political thought.
Smulyan says social networking “will engulf” the
Internet. Hesthaven, the supercomputer guru, de-
scribes the increased availability of studiable things
as a “data explosion” that will leave the weak behind
and leave only the (computationally) powerful and
adaptable left in the scholarly world.
But, at Brown at least, the process of techno-
logical change seems to be less like free-market
competition and more like a curated evolution.
Improvements in infrastructure, software and sup-
port are made in a delicate balance of what people
want and what CIS and Brown administrators think
is good for them.
CIS phases out its support for old programs and
hardware when it thinks it is time for hangers-on —
Eudora users or Windows 95 devotees — to give
up the ghost, Pickett said. There is equal involve-
ment in the other direction, where CIS staffers
test and determine which devices and services
may best serve University needs, and promotes
those products.
“I’m a really geeky guy, and it’s important to
have geeky people try stuff out,” he said, pointing
out his efforts with the iPad and new support for
Google’s Android mobile phone operating system.
“But is it right for other people? ... Is it ripe yet? Is it
time? Does it help more than it hurts?”
The University library hand-picks the services
and devices it believes will best serve the Brown
community, and anticipates students will “grow into”
them, Hemmasi said.
It is an approach that echoes the wink-and-a-
nudge spirit of academics at Brown, where enthu-
siasm for the freedom to take any class is mirrored
by complaints about a lack of advising. Whatever
has been the intertwining course of scholarship
and technology at Brown over the last five to 10
years, the relationship between the two is likely to
continue its circuitous path.
“We get more change than any other area of
the University,” Pickett said, again with his broad
and joyful smile. “We have to stay on our toes. It’s
a lot of fun.”
in the Information Age
During my last week of classes at Brown, I
wrestled the fourth dimension and tried to travel
back in time. For seven days, I vowed to stop
using any technology that did not exist in 1988,
the year the majority of the students in the class
of 2010 were born. is meant no Internet, no
e-mail, no text messaging, no thousands of songs
on my iPod. I failed.
My attempted “week in 1988” was flawed
to begin with, of course. Doing away with e-
mail completely during the last week of the
semester — especially the last week of the last
semester — is ridiculous, if not idiotic. So I
made exceptions: I would check my e-mail a
couple of times a day (never on my phone) to
make sure I wasn’t missing important messages
from professors; I brought my cell phone with
me when I left the house, just in case (pretend-
ing it was a car phone); I listened to music on
my iPod (but restricted my listening to music
recorded in 1988 and before).
I also cheated: I used an online Spanish dic-
tionary to find out if the correct preposition for
“to look” is “for” or “of”; I skimmed the Wikipe-
dia entry on “rhizome”; I e-mailed friends for our
weekly viewing of “Lost”; and, in a temperature-
related outfit crisis before my thesis reading, I
checked the hour-by-hour weather forecast.
I resisted some, too: I did not look up the cola
nut’s role in modern sodas or the process that
makes corned beef “corned”; I did not search
for images of nettles or for their potential edible
uses; I did not read the Wikipedia entry on the
Chicago flag to remind myself of the symbolism
behind its stars; I fought, with all my might,
against the repetitive urge to solidify the differ-
ence between concrete and cement.
When my week without modern technology
surged to a close, I basked in the glow of my
computer screen, its flashing banner ads and
pixelated black text against stark white. I sent
more text messages than normal, as if to make up
for lost time. I cut through pages of Wikipedia,
blogs and Facebook. I played catch-up.
Clicking away
During my week, I did not visit the New York
Times website, but that’s not a big change — I
get the paper delivered every day and, though I
normally check the site a few times during the
day if I see an article I want to read, I look for
it in print first.
ere are two reasons behind my insistence
on paper, and both reveal part of the motivation
behind my experiment, the reason why I would
try to do without the information superhighway,
my favorite invention.
First, I really do care about the fate of print
media, though I will speak without hesitation
about the glories of the Internet and the countless
articles I read as light projected from a computer
screen. But standards for Internet journalism are
not the same as those for print journalism. It’s
much easier to correct an online article — and
much more subtle — than to print a correc-
tion the next day in the paper. e Internet is
about speed; the newspaper is about accuracy
and writing.
e second reason, closely linked to the first,
is that I have a hard time absorbing things I
read on the computer. It’s partly the light and
the hunched-back, unblinking stupor a com-
puter demands. But it’s mostly the urge to click
elsewhere, to follow new links before they have
been contextualized, to find the best possible
version of any song, article, celebrity photo or
well-priced bestseller.
at urge has translated to reading books,
too. ere is the need to be doing as many things
as possible. Read while watching television, or
read while watching the latest pseudo-campy
music video. Never just read.
I thought going a week without technology
would imbue my reading with a pre-Internet
calm, but a week is not long enough to change
the habits that have grown up with me. ese
are the habits that encourage the constant in-
tersection of the digital and the analog, habits
that nearly mirrored my own development and
intellectual tendencies.
Text twist
e Internet was just one strand of my week
unplugged. Having equal weight — in terms
of convenience and social comfort — was text
I less-than-fondly remember the days of my
first year in college, when I was restricted to
a mere 100 messages a month. Such a limit
required a numerically watchful eye. is time,
the limit — the removal of the technology alto-
gether — required stubborn willpower.
I turned off text-message notifications on
my phone and let my friends know I would
only communicate remotely by speaking. I also
asked them to help me avoid temptation. A
few messages rolled in, and in an unthinking,
Sunday-morning moment, I fell back on muscle
memory and almost shot futureward into 2010.
I caught myself.
Not sending text messages cuts off distinct
parts of social communication. When it comes
to communication of low consequence, we are a
generation more comfortable working with short
An addict tries
Beyond skin
and skull
Sit in the back of a physics classroom during
a final exam, and you’ll bear witness to an
odd bit of behavior. As soon as the students
reach a question about electricity and mag-
netism, they drop
their pencils and
stick their right
thumbs in the air,
with their remain-
ing four fingers
curled into their
palms. is goes
on for a few sec-
onds, and then the
hands come down,
pick up the pencils
and scribble down
Students of
physics are cer-
tainly passionate,
but that’s not why they give magnetic fields a
thumbs up. e manual display is simply an
application of a well-known principle called
the “right hand grip rule,” a handy trick to
determine the direction of a magnetic field
produced by electric current in a coil of wire:
If the current is traveling around the wire
in the direction of your curled up fingers,
the magnetic field points in the direction
of your thumb.
We humans are often separated from
other animals by our ability to use tools.
e creative spark in our stone-sharpening
ancestors is the same one that churned out
combustion engines and Kindles, and our
impressive suite of tools is only growing.
Tools make our jobs easier and our lives
better, allowing us to do superior work more
Tools allow us to do more with our hands,
but our hands can be tools in their own
right. A thumb isn’t a prerequisite to study
physics, but it helps to have one. For physics
students, hands serve as cognitive tools: By
applying the right hand grip rule, physicists
let their hands do some of the thinking for
them, “offloading” their cognition onto their
e insight should seem intuitive — we
use cognitive tools all the time. We don’t
bother to remember our friends’ phone num-
bers because they’re stored in our iPhones; we
don’t have to perform difficult calculations in
continued on page 42
Firestone ’10,
from Toronto,
was managing
editor of The
Herald in 2009.
bursts of text rather than dealing with stuttered
telephone conversations. Talking about plans on
the telephone gives them more weight and makes
it more difficult to be flaky. Talking also restricts
whom we’re willing to get in touch with. Periph-
eral friends would stay that way much longer if it
weren’t for the casual, impersonal text message.
And, for me, someone who still sometimes
relies on a scribbled script for a long-put off phone
call, the removal of text messages was the removal
of a well-loved crutch.
e lack of text messages also cuts off trivial
communication. e text is a near-perfect me-
dium for anecdotes and overheard-on-the-
Main-Green snippets. But a phone call
instills in those observations — small,
banal, hilarious — too much expectation.
e phone call is not instant enough. Or
maybe it’s that the phone call is not read; in
reading text messages, the recipients make it
their own in a way speech does not allow. But
this is a digression better suited for the digital
world, where I can stumble around Wikipedia,
and stumble in private.
e cell phone itself is a remarkably useful
object. ere is something so instinctive in idly
checking the phone for missed calls or text mes-
sages, or just idly looking at it. e cell phone is
a game. e cell phone is a social signifier. e
cell phone is not just a cell phone.
During my week off I did not check my phone
in class, did not tap e-mails beneath my desk. I did
not do whatever it is people do when they’re “on
their phones” while waiting for friends to show
up. And though I know there were cell phones
in 1988, I did not talk on mine while walking
around; I pretended it was too heavy a machine
to comfortably cradle against my cheek for blocks
on end. I listened to and left messages. (For some
reason I balk at the term “voicemail”; maybe
it’s because, until its recent demise, a mini-
cassette recorder served my house better
than any digital device).
e trouble with my experiment
has to do with timing and context.
Living without modern technology
for a week is hardly a commitment.
And I was surrounded by people who
still did have modern technology; they
could text each other to set up plans,
stay tuned in to campus goings-on
through Facebook, give me a better
weather forecast than the New York
Times’ “pleasant” and “70s.”
As long as I had an accomplice, I
wasn’t too far from the technology I was
pretending hadn’t been invented yet.

Back to the future
What’s more: I wasn’t actually without tech-
nology. If I had gone the week without checking
my e-mail, I would have missed meetings and
assignments. I wouldn’t have found the prized free
food offerings in Morning Mail (which I claimed
I needed to read “just in case” something
important came up).
I expected
a grand
lesson would reveal itself, but as the experiment
crept to an end, and I could feel the tendrils of
technology stretching forth, there was the anticipa-
tion of downloading music and Facebook-stalking
again. ere wasn’t much else. It wasn’t a return
to communication. It was only a return.
e Internet and text messages are not tele-
phone and mail add-ons. ey are re-
placements; they are what those
technologies have become. And
they are, to a degree, what we
have become. We are not interested
in reading complete articles; the over-
whelming number of links in any online news
article shows that. Songs are mashed together,
iPods shuffle and tabbed Internet browsing
doesn’t just encourage rampant clicking
around — it necessitates it. We monitor
and we quantify, we click “refresh” to en-
courage e-mails to arrive rather than wait
for the daily mail delivery.
My week of 1988 technology came
to a close without so much as a whim-
per. e futuristic-yet-modern devices
I surround myself with had spent the
week inching closer after I had tethered
them to wall plugs. On the seventh day,
the machines asserted their territorial
dominance. And they rested, basking
in their own steady glow.
Marlee Bruning
to kick the tech habit
who took notes in a notebook for most of the
class but, at one point, abruptly pulled out a
laptop for about 20 minutes and typed out a
detailed, multiparagraph e-mail that included
the phrase “I’m too bored right now in ENVS
to give a (f***)” before putting it away again.
Others’ humors were more whimsical, like
the student who took a few seconds to unsub-
scribe from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company’s
“Beargrams” during the same environmental
science lecture, or the student in Vanwey’s class
who spent a good half-hour paging through
Time’s list of the 100 most influential people
of 2010.
Elsewhere, in a planetary geology lecture, a
student couldn’t resist the pull of a dense geo-
chemistry study sheet he kept pulling up and
skimming — he had a final coming up.
Laptops, I noted, are not the only agents of
distraction. One senior in a review session for
“Public Economics” chipped away at a crossword
puzzle on her iPod Touch. Across the room in
Metcalf Auditorium, another student cradled
an iPhone in her lap. She scrolled through it
casually, sometimes holding it up to her face
and sometimes laying it flat on her desktop.
Text messaging was a common, if surreptitious,
Study buddy
Brown students’ electronic devices are not
just tantalizing distractions. ey are, for many,
legitimate aids — and not just for the hearing-
impaired student who relied on a Disability Sup-
port Services laptop to read a running transcript
of a class I sat in on.
Some took a professor’s lecture outline and
filled notes into that. Others took advantage of a
word processor’s flexibility to jump forward and
backward, rounding out sentences and filling in
gaps. In one class, two students, seated side-by-
side, pulled the day’s PowerPoint slides up on
their respective laptops and dutifully followed
along, rarely if ever flipping away.
In “Environmental Science in a Changing
World,” a freshman who had earlier been reading
e-mails and updating his Facebook status elu-
cidated a passing mention of media mogul Ted
Turner’s land holdings in New Mexico by flip-
ping to Turner’s Wikipedia page. (On the other
hand, he lingered there for nearly five minutes,
laughing quietly with a friend after reading the
section on Turner’s undergrad years at Brown.) In
Loury’s class, too, a reference to last year’s Henry
Louis Gates controversy prompted a student to
refresh his memory on Wikipedia.
And those smartphones and iPods? One envi-
ronmental science student used his iPod Touch
to pull up an article mentioned by the professor
and casually skimmed its contents.
In “Public Economics” (after which someone
explained to me that the professor was “reviewing
stuff most people didn’t need to review”) several
students took matters into their own hands.
One student used her Blackberry to scroll
through her calendar with one hand while flip-
ping through her notebook with the other. As
the professor lectured, she jotted down which
lectures from the course she was missing notes
In front of her, a junior who started the af-
ternoon by firing off some short e-mails and
paging through his Google Reader eventually
found his way to the class’ MyCourses page.
ere, he downloaded several readings from the
course to his desktop, pulling them open one by
one and skimming. He took few notes on the
broad overview of the course being outlining on
the board. After his perusal of the readings was
complete, he didn’t stick around much longer,
packing up his things and ducking out up the
aisle several minutes before the professor con-
cluded his lecture, the last of the semester.
e students applauded, and laptop screens
snapped shut.
continued from page 16
Wired in class
Double vision
Vero Testa................................25
A date with destiny
Women’s crew team seniors........26
Life in the fast lane
Early graduates.........................26
Parting ways
Anna McLaskey and
Mariela Quintana.....................27
The wounded warrior.
Jeremy Russell...........................29
The candidate
Teresa Tanzi.............................27
A lens on the world
Emma LeBlanc..........................28
A rare mind, taken too soon
Scott Zager..............................24
1,466 — that’s how many of us
walked through the Van Wickle
Gates on a sunny late summer
Tuesday nearly four years ago.
It was easy to feel a heady sense of
accomplishment that day, the class of
2010’s official arrival on campus.
18,316 — that’s how many people
had applied to be where we were,
and we were the lucky few who made
the cut.
It was also easy to feel like this week-
end was our destiny from the moment
that fat Brown envelope arrived in the
mail — parents circled May 30, 2010
on their calendars while the ink was still
drying on our deposit checks.
So here’s another number to con-
sider: 1,216 — that’s how many of those
1,466 the registrar expects will receive
a diploma this weekend.
We may, at long last, be the class of
2010 not in theory but in fact, but for
at least 250 of our number, the pathway
to a diploma wasn’t so clear-cut.
Some 194 hit a detour, their routes
leading off College Hill for a semester
or more. Another 19 moved into the fast
lane, zooming to an early finish. ere
are 25 of us whose tracks the registrar
can classify only as “other.”
For 12 of us, the road led away from
Brown, permanently. In one case, it led
to a tragic end.
In the pages that follow, e Herald
profiles some members of the “Class of
2010” for whom graduating today didn’t
become a reality. ough new faces
may have filled in our class, obscur-
ing the empty Commencement seats,
we hope you’ll keep those who are not
with us in mind as you read through the
following pages.
A rare mind,
taken too soon
Until he got a whiteboard, Scott Zager wrote
equations on his window in Everett House
with black and blue magic markers. During
his freshman year, he bought old books to
fill his bare bookshelf — he liked the smell
and the look of them. He windsurfed, fished
and kayaked. He loved pizza.
And he was extraordinarily good at
“He was a kid that saw the whole world
in math,” said Erik Duhaime ’10, a friend
of Scott’s. “e extent and breadth of his
intellect was kind of remarkable.”
Just three semesters after he arrived on
College Hill in the fall of 2006, he got news
no one ever wants to hear — a diagnosis
of testicular cancer. He went home to Na-
perville, Ill. to undergo treatment, but the
cancer was too advanced. He died on May
26, 2008 at age 19, almost two years to the
day before he would have graduated with the
class of 2010.
But even during his treatment — through
multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a stem
cell transplant — Scott was always thinking
about math and returning to Brown.
“Scott loved school,” said his father, Dave
Zager. “He always wanted to get back.”
roughout his treatment, Scott didn’t
want to take any pain medications because
they limited his ability to think. “He would
just do as much as he could without it,” his fa-
ther said. “He was trying
to keep his life going.”
For Scott, that meant
finishing his finals from
home and bringing his
textbooks to the hos-
pital so he could work
on math problems. His
mother, Gina Zager, said
he made arrangements
with the Brown Book-
store to get textbooks
for classes he was not
Scott loved good conversation as well as
problem-solving, friends recalled, and in the
hospital, one led to the other. When his doc-
tors saw him studying math in the hospital,
his father said, they frequently struck up long
conversations with him. “ey were kind of
fascinated he was continuing to pursue that,”
his father said.
While he was at Brown, his friends said,
Scott was quiet, using most of his time to
figure out solutions to math and physics
equations even when he was among friends.
He was closest to the other students who
lived on his freshman hall. ey spent many
weekend nights in his room as Scott enjoyed
the conversations surrounding him.
On a particular night, Duhaime recalled,
Scott sat at his desk doing something on his
computer while people congregated. When
everyone left, Duhaime asked Scott what he
had been doing.
Scott “was making matrices of social in-
teractions in the room,” Duhaime said. “Ev-
eryone else was just having this superficial
Friday night.”
It was this “mathematical perception” of
the world that drew people to Scott, Duhaime
said. “He was someone who would have kept
thinking and gotten other people to think in
interesting ways.”
“I’d say he was a bit of a celebrity on
our unit” said Sam Wolfson ’10.5, Scott’s
freshman-year roommate. “He definitely had
a good head about him.”
Scott and his friends won the competi-
tion for first pick in the housing lottery that
year for their video about “a sub-par, misun-
derstood, birthday-suited a capella group”
known as the “Skintones.” ough the group
originally planned to live together, Scott ulti-
mately decided he wanted to live in a single in
Minden, leading many of his friends to joke
that they imagined him solving complicated
equations in secret.
“I really think he had some sort of gift,”
Wolfson said. “I always saw him eventually
as being some sort of quirky professor.”
“I wish Brown had gotten to see more of
him,” said Samantha Scudder ’10, who went
to high school in Illinois with Scott before
they both came to Brown. “It’ll be a real
shame to graduate without him.”
ough it’s hard to say what Scott would
have done after graduation — “At the time,
it was so far off,” Scudder said — his friends
and family agree it probably would have built
on his mathematical talents.
“He had always been someone who en-
joyed school,” his father said. “We kid that
he wanted to be a student for his life.”
— Sydney Ember
Herald File Photo
Scott Zager
Seeing double
Vero Testa likes to defy conventions – especially when those conven-
tions double as Brunonian superstitions.
Testa, who for four years has gone out of his way to step on the
Pembroke seal — supposedly incurring the curse of not graduating
— plans to walk through the Van Wickle gates an extra time this
weekend, risking the same fate. Curses be damned, he expects to walk
through the gates again when he really graduates a year from now.
at’s right – while some of those who passed through those gates
with him in the fall of 2006 are finding they won’t have a chance to
participate in commencement at all, others, like Testa, have decided
to do it twice.
“It’s a symbolic
thing to graduate
with my friends,” said
Testa, an internation-
al student from Italy.
Even though he has
spent eight semesters
as an undergraduate
and lists himself as a
member of the class
of 2010 on his Face-
book profile, he must
wait until next May
to receive both his
Bachelor of Arts de-
gree in International
Relations and his
Bachelor of Science
in Applied Math.
Under Brown’s
five-year combined
A.B./Sc.B. program,
students like Testa
are able to merge aca-
demic “interests that
span the sciences and
the humanities” into
a single undergradu-
ate curriculum that
can have more depth than a double concentration, said Associate
Dean of the College for Science Education David Targan ’78, who
serves as the adviser for combined degree students.
e tradeoff? While their classmates receive their diplomas and
venture out into the world beyond Brown, dual-degree students are
expected to spend an extra year before the University will give them
its imprimatur – albeit twice over. In recent years, an average of about
a dozen students per class have opted for a dual degree.
“You need to know how to do a lot of things” to succeed in the
workforce, said Testa, when asked why he chose to stay on for a fifth
undergraduate year. “You need to have several degrees.”
Even though he is looking forward to writing a thesis and being
“very old and wise” next year, Testa said he is a bit nervous about
returning to College Hill in the fall without all of his classmates.
“e downside of the (dual degree) program is that I’m scared
that all my friends are gone,” he said.
Before students sign up for the combined degree program in
their fifth semester, Targan said he tries to help them decide if they
really want to put in the additional time and cost associated with
an extra year.
“For many things, two A.B.s would be okay,” he said. “From the
outside world’s point of view, a double degree and a double major
kind of have similar connotations.”
e burden of staying a fifth year is no small consideration for
those who enter the program, and for all the Vero Testas who decide
it’s worth the sacrifice, there is also an occasional Kristie Chin. Chin,
who just finished
her sixth semester,
is petitioning Uni-
versity Hall to let
her complete both
an A.B. in Architec-
tural Studies and a
Civil Engineering
Sc.B. in four years,
so she can gradu-
ate alongside her
peers in the class
of 2011.
“To me it is re-
ally important to
graduate with my
class,” she said. “I
came in knowing
that I wanted to do
it in four years.”
Most students,
Targan said, do
not decide to work
toward a com-
bined degree until
they have spent a
few semesters try-
ing to pursue two
completely distinct
areas of study.
Indeed, Testa only received official approval for his fifth year last
fall, during his seventh semester. When Testa first came to Brown he
hoped for an A.B. in economics, but his “interests evolved throughout
the years,” and he eventually decided that the more intensive, multi-
disciplinary study of a combined degree would be more useful.
After all, with two degrees, Testa said, “I’m really qualified for
a lot of things.”
Although Testa said he wished he knew more students in the com-
bined degree program, he is generally quite happy to stick around
Providence for another year.
“It just worked perfectly for me,” he said.
— Sarah Forman
Kim Perley / Herald
Vero Testa
As most seniors march down the aisles to
receive long-awaited diplomas this weekend,
the seniors of the women’s rowing team are
thousands of miles from College Hill, eyeing
a literal finish line. eir aisles? e buoyed
lanes of Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif.,
where they are racing for their third national
championship title in four years.
ough it’s a conflict that might seem a
nightmare to many students and their parents,
the team’s seniors didn’t hesitate when faced
with the choice.
“For us, nationals is what we train for the
whole year, so it was never really a question
about what our goal was,” said Sarah Palomo
’10, one of seven seniors on the team.
“(I’d) be much more upset if I (were) at
graduation, because that would mean we didn’t
get to nationals,” agreed Anna Vresilovic ’10,
who missed her high school graduation for a
rowing competition as well.
“is is par for the course,” she quipped.
“is is how I graduate.”
Brown’s Commencement and the women’s
Division I rowing championship last fell on
the same weekend in 2007, when members of
this year’s class were first-years. e team won
the championship that year while the seniors’
classmates tossed their mortarboards back in
Rhode Island.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Oh my God, I
can’t believe you missed your graduation,’”
said Sarah Brooks ’07, a member of the team
that year. But she has no regrets about missing
the ceremony.
Competing in the national championship
regatta “was really a
dream and something
we were working for
every day,” she said.
inking about “miss-
ing graduation really
didn’t come for me un-
til six months later.”
Most current mem-
bers of the team view
the upcoming race through the same lens — not
as a sacrifice, but as desirable and fitting closure
for their Brown experience as a whole.
“Since rowing has been such a huge part
of my life, it will be nice to have this great
opportunity to go to nationals,” said Sarah
Huebscher ’10. “Having my time here culmi-
nate in an athletic event is just as exciting as
e possibility of such a conflict first emerged
for the team in 1997, when Brown shifted its
Commencement day from Monday to Sunday.
Before 1997, since the competition ended on a
Sunday, “we would be on the first thing moving
to get back,” said Head Coach John Murphy.
But with racing this year lasting through
Sunday morning on the other side of the coun-
try, that is no longer an option.
“It is something we have worked very hard
to fight,” Murphy said, but the students have
taken the conflict in stride.
When such conflicts occur, Brown holds a
special event in University Hall the Monday
before Commencement for those who can-
not attend the official ceremony. Administra-
tors, professors, family and friends attend the
e team is made up of close friends, Vre-
silovic said, which makes having an early cer-
emony that much more special.
“e people I know and care about will
be graduating with me,” Vresilovic said in ad-
vance of the ceremony. “e special ceremony
celebrates what my time at Brown was really
“I’m excited to have a more personal gradu-
ation,” Huebscher agreed. An engineering con-
centrator, she said she preferred graduating in
an intimate setting — with close friends and
family looking on — to a large departmental
And though the seniors cannot be at their
actual graduation, they may at least get a shout-
out. In 2007, President Ruth Simmons an-
nounced the team’s national championship to
the student body before the ceremony began.
“I heard everyone just screamed and was
really excited,” Brooks said. When the team
returned to campus, “every single person said
congratulations,” she said. “at meant a lot.
It made everything worthwhile.”
— Nicole Boucher
A date with destiny
For most of the students who will walk
the stage and accept diplomas this week-
end, graduation comes at the giddy end of
a whirlwind few weeks of final exams and
projects — frenetic all-nighters giving way
to the rush of Senior Week and Commence-
ment weekend.
But for the 18 members of the class of
2010 who graduated early, this weekend rep-
resents something very different. A few may
have stayed in town, even on campus (some
will be here next year as students at the Alp-
ert Medical School), but all of them share a
common bond — they’ve been “graduates”
for months.
e way Ben Abiri — who spent the last
semester doing research in a lab and work-
ing at Kaplan in Providence — tells it, his
decision to graduate in December was “a no-
brainer.” He had completed his concentration,
had the AP credits he needed to finish, and,
as a pre-med student, wanted a chance to take
a bit of a breather before diving into his first
year of medical school. He toyed with the idea
of going abroad, but realized that would mean
paying full tuition at Brown for a semester’s
worth of credits he didn’t need.
“I’m very glad,” he says. “It’s a chance to
work at a lighter pace before going to medical
school. Not to mention you save a semester
of tuition.”
According to Stephen Lassonde, deputy
dean of the College, who is tasked with han-
dling accelerated graduation requests, the
majority of people who graduate early do
so for financial reasons. ough none of the
students e Herald spoke to were motivated
purely by finances, the possibility of saving
on cash is an attractive reason to graduate
Jessica Dai, a student in the Program for
Liberal Medical Education who, like Abiri,
graduated in December, did so partly in order
to start saving money for medical school,
which she’ll begin in the fall. She’s been liv-
ing back home in New York, interning in the
Life in the fast lane
continued on page 30
Seniors of the women crew team
Early graduates
Courtesy of Paco Palomo
Teresa Tanzi may well have been the first-ever member of Brown’s class
of 2010, but she won’t share the stage this weekend with her one-time
classmates. In fact, she never even took a class with them.
When Tanzi first enrolled as a part-time student through Brown’s Re-
sumed Undergraduate Education program seven years ago, the plan called
for her to graduate this weekend. But when the class was finally arriving on
College Hill in 2006, Tanzi was headed the other direction, and she hasn’t
been back in class since.
Her reason for the unplanned leave? She was about to become
a mother.
Tanzi and her husband planned the pregnancy but didn’t account for
its impact on her ability to continue her education. “I was just nauseated
constantly. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t watch TV. I couldn’t drive,” said Tanzi,
who lived in Narragansett at the time and commuted to Brown.
ough Tanzi expected to be “a bored mother,” she found that her
daughter, Delia Tanzi Buchbaum, provided “every ounce of structure
imaginable and then some.”
Tanzi didn’t return to Brown after Delia’s birth — she and her husband
struggled to find high-quality child care that they could afford, and they
couldn’t shoulder her tuition costs on top of the costs of raising a baby.
Now, four years later, instead of graduating this May as she had planned,
the public policy concentrator is learning about the reality of Rhode Island
politics. She is vying against incumbent David Caprio to be the Democratic
candidate for her district’s state representative.
Tanzi, who lives in Wakefield, decided to enter the race last April. And
in the time since, she’s been surprised by the rewards of her new life as a
public figure.
“It’s definitely scary,” Tanzi said. e first time she attended a town
meeting in Narragansett, where she lived at the time, Tanzi wrote down her
comments in full before she went up to speak. It’s “amazing” how much
her public speaking has improved since, she said.
Tanzi acknowledges that taking on Caprio, the brother of General
Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, is a challenge. She
The candidate
Statistically speaking, it is much, much easier to get into Brown than
it is to get out early. Of the 1,466 students who walked through the Van
Wickle Gates as first-years four years ago, only 12 — less than one-tenth
of one percent — have separated from the University for good, many
with the aim of picking up their undergraduate education elsewhere.
One of those 12, Anna McLaskey, who transferred to the University
of Washington after a year at Brown, says her reasons for leaving were
complicated, and her explanation is far from concise. “It’s a tough ques-
tion,” she says over the phone from her apartment in Seattle. “ere
were lots of things.”
A self-described “West-coast girl” born and raised in San Juan, Wash-
ington — a set of islands just south of British Columbia — McLaskey
missed the familiar people and places back home, and she was concerned
about the cost of Brown, nearly seven times the in-state tuition and fees
at UW. “It kind of boiled down for me that where I came from, people
had never heard of Brown,” the marine biology major said. “e name
wasn’t important to me, and the money wasn’t worth it.”
Mariela Quintana, who entered Brown with the class of 2010 but
will be graduating from Columbia next fall, left Brown for reasons that
were less pragmatic and more impressionistic.
Quintana, now an English major, applied early to Brown and was
thrilled when she got in. But, she now admits, “thinking that was very
silly. You realize that school is not going to be perfect, and that was
really hard for me to come to terms with. I had to be okay with things
not being great all the time.”
Coming from a high school — St. Ann’s, in Brooklyn — that sends
a large contingent of students to Brown every year, Quintana felt she
wasn’t being challenged enough socially. “I wasn’t branching out,” she
says. “It felt very insular.”
ere’s something alienating, she thinks, about being discontented
at what is often labelled one of the nation’s happiest schools.
“Brown makes it so easy for students to do what they want and for
students to be happy,” she says. “Not being happy at Brown to me seemed
like something so antithetical to what everyone else was feeling.”
After her freshman year, Quintana went to live at home in Brooklyn
and took classes as a visiting student at Columbia. To her surprise, she
ended up loving the school, despite its pedagogical and cultural differ-
ences from what she had sought at Brown.
“It was wonderful,” she says. She applied to transfer that spring
and was admitted for the fall of what would have been her junior year
at Brown.
As the class of 2010 walks the stage this weekend, McLaskey will be
wrapping up her classes and preparing for her last round of finals at UW.
Quintana will be settling into a summer internship at a literary agency
before returning to Columbia in September for her final semester.
Both have few regrets.
For McLaskey, though she misses individual people and the commu-
nity of the women’s rugby team, her heart is in Seattle. She has enjoyed
her classes, appreciates how integrated UW is with the surrounding city
and will be graduating without debt.
“I think if I had stayed I would be happy, but I’m really happy here,
too,” she says.
And though Quintana occasionally thinks about what her college
experience would have looked like had she stayed at Brown, ultimately,
she says, “I’m really proud of myself for saying that I wasn’t happy and
that things at Brown weren’t working out and I wasn’t meeting my full
potential there.”
She pauses. “at was a big step for me.”
— Ellen Cushing
Parting ways
continued on page 31
Courtesy of Teresa Tanzi
Anna McLaskey
and Mariela Quintana
Teresa Tanzi
At a time of year when many seniors are
getting ready to graduate, Emma LeBlanc is
far away from end-of-the-year parties with
friends and the annual march through Van
Wickle Gates.
LeBlanc, who enrolled with the class of
2010 but now expects to graduate in 2011,
is currently in Syria working on a photo essay
for Makoto Photographic Agency — a photo
agency she co-founded during a year-long leave
of absence from Brown after the first semester
of her sophomore year.
e agency is dedicated to covering stories
that “get cursory treatment or are ignored en-
tirely in the urgency of the 24-hour news cycle”
and features the work of photojournalists who,
its website proclaims, have an “unfailing com-
mitment to people, places and causes.”
at’s a description that fits LeBlanc well.
Many of her pictures are stark portraits of
people staring directly and intensely into
her camera. ere is an intimacy to the pic-
tures, even though they are often positioned
next to articles about large issues facing the
Middle East.
A sociology concentrator, LeBlanc entered
Brown in the fall of 2006, never imagining that
a year later she would have photographs dis-
played in galleries and published in high-profile
magazines while she lived in the Middle East.
e summer after her freshman year, Leblanc
traveled with a friend from Brown to Damascus,
Syria to study Arabic. She returned to Brown
that fall, but she had loved her travels too much
to stay long. After spending another semester
at Brown, she decided to return to the Middle
East — this time for an entire year.
“I just hadn’t had enough of Syria, so I de-
cided to take some time off,” LeBlanc wrote
in an e-mail to e Herald. “I wasn’t even ex-
actly sure what I was going to do there. I just
knew that it wasn’t time for me to go back to
a classroom.”
During her time away from College Hill,
LeBlanc studied Arabic at the University of
Damascus and in Amman, Jordan. LeBlanc also
worked as a volunteer in an asylum in Damas-
cus where she got her first taste of journalism,
recording the oral histories of its residents.
Her interest in photography developed when
she spent a few months in Iraq as a freelance
photojournalist for publications including GQ
and Le Monde. Success led her to found Ma-
koto, and her work has since been exhibited
in galleries in the United States and in the
Middle East.
For LeBlanc, these experiences kept her im-
mersed in a very different world, far removed
from her ties to Brown. “I never really kept in
touch with friends at Brown while I was away,”
she wrote, noting that many of her friends were
also studying or working abroad at the same
time. “ere was an unspoken understanding
between us that these experiences were too
important to e-mail, Facebook or Skype.”
For LeBlanc, the return to Brown was dif-
ficult. It was “strange to come back and realize
that you may have changed, you may have new
ideas and understandings and aspirations, but
Brown hasn’t changed,” she wrote. “It’s the same
parties, the same classes, the same meals at the
Ratty, but it’s no longer very satisfying.”
Still, as she completes her final two papers of
the semester from an ocean away, LeBlanc does
wish she was graduating with her classmates
this spring. “I’m ready to go back into the real
world, off of College Hill, to resume all the
things I began during my leave of absence,”
she wrote.
“Taking time off was the best decision I’ve
made at Brown.”
— Brian Mastroianni
Turning a lens on the world
Emma LeBlanc
When Jeremy Russell changed from the class of 2010 to the class of
2011, he didn’t make the decision with his head or his heart — his leg
made the call for him.
A standout defender and assistant captain for the men’s hockey team,
Russell was a sophomore when he fell and mangled his knee, missing an
entire season on the ice in the process.
“I wasn’t able to skate for five months,” he recalled. “And I basically
couldn’t walk on it for a month.”
Russell has known that he would stay a fifth year ever since, to take
advantage of the full four years of competitive eligibility that the NCAA
affords injured athletes like him.
ough the injury will keep him from graduating with his original class,
Russell sees the opportunity to stay another year at Brown as a blessing in
disguise. e injury gave Russell, a neuroscience and economics concentrator,
a chance to take extra classes in science and add a second concentration.
“It was just a really good opportunity to make the most of Brown,” he said.
“Not many places are like that, and I couldn’t be happier that I did it.”
And with the help of the athletic training staff, Russell rehabilitated his
knee to full strength. Athletic Trainer Brian Daigneault “pushed me to get
back as soon as I could, and as strong as I could,” Russell said.
Russell has not missed a single game for the Bears in two seasons since.
Still, not graduating this weekend is bittersweet for Russell, especially
because he formed a close bond with his teammates from the class of 2010
during their very first days on campus. In the four years since, he said, he
and his 2010 classmates have helped generate new excitement about Brown
hockey that he hopes will continue to grow even after they graduate.
“We struggled together and found our way together,” he said. “It’s going
to be tough to see them go, but it is what it is.”
Although he’ll be sad to see his teammates graduate, the rising senior is
excited to serve as a role model to his younger teammates — next year will
be his second in a row as assistant captain. And as soon as Commencement
activities are finished, Russell and his teammates will start training again.
He and four other players will live together this summer, doing rigorous
offseason workouts under the purview of a strength coach.
Russell aspires to play hockey professionally after graduating from Brown,
and having a stellar campaign in what will now be his senior season would
be a great start.
It’s an opportunity he aims to make the most of. After all, were it not an
unlucky — or lucky — break, his playing days might already be over.
— Fred Milgrim
The wounded warrior
Kim Perley / Herald
Jeremy Russell
regulatory affairs department of
a cosmetics company by day and
tutoring in the evenings.
And while Dai has had a hard
time being away from her friends
in their final semester together,
she appreciates the opportunity
to make money to put toward
next year’s tuition, gain experi-
ence at a company and get off
College Hill. “It’s great to see
what life beyond college is like,”
she says.
Jane Zhang, another PLME
student who graduated in De-
cember, says she relished the op-
portunity to read for pleasure and
spend time with her family. She
even came to miss schoolwork.
“I was just talking to a friend
about how I actually started to
miss problem sets,” she says with
a laugh.
“I think Brown is a really great
school, but I needed a break,”
Zhang continues. Like Abiri,
she has been in Providence for
much of the semester, living in
an apartment and working in a
lab. “I think it was a good deci-
sion for me,” she continues. “It
made me more hungry to go back
to school.”
ough Abiri, Dai and Zhang
all participated in December’s
mid-year graduation ceremony,
they’ll all also be on College Hill
this weekend to walk out of the
Van Wickle gates with their class-
mates. And though their paths
may have meandered more than
most in the intervening time,
all three are happy they got the
chance to take time off and still
graduate with their class.
“Honestly,” Abiri says, “I’m
surprised more people don’t do
— Ellen Cushing
continued from page 26
Early grads
has never held public office before,
and she faces a long-time incumbent
who has held office for over a decade
and ran unopposed in 2000, 2004
and 2006.
But Tanzi, who casts herself as a
David figure facing Goliath, finds
“amazing motivation” in being the
Her husband called her “the in-
surgent,” she said. “I loved that.”
Tanzi wasn’t discouraged by
the long odds when she applied to
Brown, either. “I didn’t think about
Ivy League, about my lack of pedi-
gree,” she said. “Having given it any
thought, I wouldn’t have even ap-
Tanzi attended a local community
college in New Jersey after graduat-
ing from high school in 1989. She
dropped out after two years, never
earning her associate’s degree.
“I didn’t like being told what
classes I had to take,” she said.
After Tanzi moved to Rhode Is-
land in 2000, she started to consider
going back to school. She attended
the University of Rhode Island for
a year, “just to test the waters.” She
liked taking classes, but not URI’s
en she found out about Brown
and its open curriculum.
“I didn’t even know it existed,”
Tanzi said. “It was literally what I
had been waiting for.”
Classes at Brown were a struggle
for Tanzi, who had no computer
skills at the time and didn’t know
how to type. She had to ask a class-
mate to teach her how to make a
PowerPoint presentation. She felt
“very much accepted” but at the
same time knew she lacked the edu-
cational background and study skills
of many of her classmates.
Tanzi plans to return to Brown
in January 2011, no matter the out-
come of the Democratic primary in
the fall — and this time, she said, she
won’t be short on self-confidence.
“I don’t think I’ll have that prob-
lem again,” she said. “I’m going to
be a new person.”
— Sophia Li
continued from page 27
Brown University
at Providence:
In the State of Rhode Island
To all who are about to read this document, everlasting greetings in the Lord.
May it be known to you that the president of the University,
with the authority entrusted to her by the board of fellows,
in public assembly, has decorated
with the degree of Bachelor of Arts/Science
Magna cum laude and honors
in the study of Psychoceramics
And has given to him to enjoy all the privileges, honors,
and symbols pertaining to those elevated to this degree
In testimony whereof we subscribe our names to this diploma, fortified
with the seal of the University
Granted in academic ceremonies held in Providence on the day of May 30,
in the year of our Lord 2010.
Albert Dahlberg, Ruth Simmons,
Secretary President
Sept. 10, 2006
Chipalo Street ’06 GS alleges
police brutality by Brown and
Providence police. The next week,
hundreds of students stage a
protest, marching across campus
in solidarity with Street.
Wo r l d
Br o wn
Sept. 25, 2006
Gender-queer student calls for gender-
neutral bathrooms after claiming to
have been harassed while wearing a
skirt in a men’s bathroom.
Oct. 6, 2006
The Sidney Frank Hall for Life
Sciences is dedicated after a
decade of planning.
Jan. 25, 2007
The Friedman Study Center makes its
grand opening.
Oct. 12, 2006
Then-Sen. Barack Obama,
D-Ill., draws a huge crowd
to Salomon 101, calling
cynicism “the lazy way
Oct. 18, 2006
Brown releases its 106-page slavery
and justice report, which calls
for public acknowledgement of
the University’s ties to slavery, the
construction of a commemorative
“slave trade memorial” and the
creation of a center for research on
slavery and justice.
April 21, 2007
1he líumíng Líps heudííne the írst
outdoor Spring Weekend concert
since the class of 2008’s arrival.
Jan. 29, 2007
The University accepts $100
million from entrepreneur
Warren Alpert and renames the
Med School in his honor.
Nov. 7, 2006
Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse ousts
Lincoln Chafee ’75 to become Rhode
Island’s junior senator with 53 percent of
the vote.
Aug. 26, 2006
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is
elected president of Iran,
allegedly calling for Israel
to be “wiped off the map.”
Dec. 30, 2006
Just before dawn in Iraq, former dictator
Saddam Hussein is executed by the new
Iraqi government.
April 24, 2007
ßrovn's írst-ever onííne
registration through Banner
begins for rising seniors.
April 27, 2007
Brown announces that the Smith
Swim Center will remain closed for
good after rotting wood threatened
its structural integrity. A temporary
aquatic bubble is later erected.
Oct. 18, 2006
Dining Services workers and the University reach a contract
agreement after unionized workers threatened to strike.
Jan. 4, 2007
Nuncv leíosí becomes the írst
female speaker of the House of
April 16, 2007
32 people are killed at Virginia
Tech by a student gunman.
June 29, 2007
Apple’s iPhone is
released in the U.S. to
much media acclaim.
july august september october november december january february march april may june
Oct. 20, 2007
Republican Bobby
Jindal ’91.5 is elected
as governor of Louisi-
ana with 54 percent of
the vote in a four-way
Wo r l d
Dec. 5, 2007
Dean of Medicine Eli Adashi
announces resignation,
surprising colleagues.
April 22,
A pair of students
throw pies at
New York Times
columnist Thomas
Friedman during
a lecture in
Salomon 101.
March 15, 2008
Two Molotov cocktails are thrown at the
off-campus apartment of Brown/RISD Hillel
employee and Israeli emissary Yossi Knafo.
Oct. 13, 2007
Soapbox cars race
down a Col-
lege Hill in Red
December 2007
President Ruth Simmons is
named aGlamour Woman of
the Year.
Oct. 12, 2007
Former Vice President Al Gore shares the 2007
Nobel Peace Prize with the UN’s Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change for “efforts to build up
and disseminate greater knowledge about man-
made climate change.”
Feb. 24, 2008
81-year-old Fidel Castro is replaced by his
brother, Raul, as president of Cuba.
Feb. 3, 2008
The New England Patriots lose Super Bowl
XLII to the New York Giants (with Zak
DeOssie ’07) after starting the season 18-0.
Jan. 2, 2008
Oil prices rise to $100 per barrel in the
wake of a weak U.S. dollar and violence
in oil-producing countries.
March 17, 2008
In a stunning deal, JPMorgan
Chase agrees to buy rival
investment bank Bear Stearns for
$2 a share. Only a year before,
Bear’s shares had sold for $170.
Dec. 27, 2007
In the midst of her campaign to
become the Prime Minister of
Pakistan for a third time, Benazir
Bhutto is killed in a suicide attack at
a political rally.
Weekend of April 12, 2008
Lupe Fiasco, Vampire Weekend, Um-
phrey’s McGee, Girl Talk and M.I.A. play
Spring Weekend shows in Meehan.
Br o wn
Events that shaped life, on campus and beyond
july august september october november december january february march april may june
Wo r l d
Nov. 24, 2008
Brown football ties
Harvard for the Ivy League
March 10,
Former Senator
John Edwards
the nation’s
to end poverty
during a lecture
in Salomon 101.
Jan. 27, 2009
President Ruth Simmons announces
that the University is assuming that
the endowment will lose nearly
30 percent by the end of June.
Administrators later say the loss
occurred by the end of 2008.
Oct. 18, 2008
Members of Students for a Democrat-
ic Society attempt to enter the Corpo-
ration’s meeting in University Hall.
Seven are eventually given probation
after a disciplinary hearing.
Oct. 30, 2008
Former Republican presidential
candidate Mike Huckabee
tells a full Salomon 101 that
the presidential race lacked
substantial policy debate.
Aug. 27, 2008
Then-Sen. Barack Obama,
D-líí., oíícíuíív receíves the
nomination to be the Dem-
ocratic Party’s presidential
candidate at the Demo-
cratic National Convention
in Denver, Colo.
Br o wn
Nov. 4, 2008
Students storm the Main
Green after Barack Obama
is elected president.
Feb. 5, 2009
Cell phone pictures of Michael Phelps
inhaling from a marijuana pipe surface
and the Olympic gold medalist swim-
mer is suspended from the sport for
three months.
Jan. 20, 2009
Barack Obama is inaugurated
as president. Almost two million
people travel to the National Mall
to watch.
Nov. 4, 2008
Over 131 million
Americans go to the polls.
Barack Obama is elected
president in a landslide,
besting John McCain by
10 million votes.
Feb. 17, 2009
President Barack Obama signs the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, com-
monly known as the stimulus package, alloting
$787 billion to states to revive the economy.
Oct. 3, 2008
Amíd vídespreud puníc ín ínuncíuí murkets
and in response to swiftly declining stock
prices, former President Bush enacts a $700
bííííon buííout puckuge íor unstubíe ínuncíuí
April 2009
Mexícun oíícíuís conírm cuses
oí HlNl íníuenzu reíerred to
us svíne íu. Severuí thousund
cuses ure soon conírmed voríd-
wide as the disease spreads.
Weekend of April 18, 2009
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Nas,
Santigold, and Of Montreal play Spring
Weekend concerts on the Main Green.
April 1, 2009
Administrators announce
that two students did not
return to campus from their
spring break trip to Trinidad.
The students are later found
and a parent says no foul
play was involved.
April 7, 2009
The faculty vote to rename
the Columbus Day holiday
to Fall Weekend on the aca-
demic calendar. Providence
mayor David Cicilline ’83
and radio personality Rush
Limbaugh are among those
who decry the change.
july august september october november december january february march april may june
May 30, 2010
Brown University’s 242nd gradu-
ating class marches through the
Van Wickle gates.
Wo r l d
October 2009
After escaping from
the Taliban in June,
New York Times
reporter David Rohde
'90 pubííshes íve
front-page stories in
the Times detailing his
capture and escape.
Br o wn
January 12, 2010
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastates
the Caribbean nation of Haiti. 230,000
lives are lost, and 1,000,000 are left
without homes
February 2010
As the investment banking
und securítíes írm Coíd-
man Sachs faces allegations
oí ínuncíuí vrongdoíng,
President Ruth Simmons opts
not to stand for re-election to
its Board of Directors.
September 10,
The Large Hadron
Collider, the world’s
largest and most
powerful particle
accelerator, success-
fully circulates proton
beums íor the írst
February, 2010
The XXI Winter Olympic Games
are held in Vancouver. Host nation
Canada sets an Olympic record
with 14 gold medals, and American
snowboarder Shaun White unveils the
Double McTwist 1260.
March 23, 2010
By a vote of 220-211, the U.S. House of
Representatives passes the Health Care
and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010,
extending health care coverage to millions
of uninsured Americans
July 28, 2009
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomajor is
conírmed bv the Lníted Stutes Senute bv
a vote of 68 to 31. Sotomayor becomes
the írst Híspuníc íustíce on the court.
Events that shaped life, on campus and beyond
Oct. 12, 2009
1he Lníversítv observes íts írst
Fall Weekend as Providence and
the rest of the country celebrates
Coíumbus Duv. DlS oíícers
arrest one protestor at an anti-Fall
Weekend rally on campus.
October, 2009
After tense negotiations and
protests, Brown Dining Services
employees and the University
sign a new contract, avoiding the
possibility of a strike.
july august september october november december january february march april may june
Donors to the 2009 Annual Appeal
A thank you to our supporters
The Brown Daily Herald Digitization Projecting
Joshua Spector ‘96
Bruce Douglas ‘86
Danielle Cerny ‘06
Lockhart Steele ‘96
Tom Benson ‘98 and
Megan Tracy Benson ‘00
Ronald Offenkrantz ‘58
Michael Blumstein ‘78
Josh Weisbrod ‘97
Sheryl Shapiro ‘03
Ruth Hanno Beck ‘72 and
Roy Beck ‘75
David Morenoff ‘95
The pilot was made possible by a gift from Herald alum Kristie Miller ‘66. The
Brown University Library has provided in-kind technical support for the project.
The following groups and individuals have contributed to fund the digitization of
select years from The Herald’s history:
1929: Ambassador Philip Lader P’08, P’11 and Mrs. Linda LeSourd Lader
P’08, P’11 in honor of Mary-Catherine Lader ‘08 and the 117th editorial board
1963: Mr. John W. Kaufmann ‘63 and Dr. Katherine S. Kaufmann
1972: Dr. Roy W. Beck ‘74 P’00, P’02 MMS’06 MD’06, P’08 and Dr. Ruth M.
Hanno ‘72, P’00, P’02 MMS’06 MD’06, P’08 in honor of Eric Beck ‘08 and the
117th editorial board
1973: Mr. Robert Stewart ‘74
1985: Ms. Catherine Gildor ‘85, Mr. Peter Stein ‘85 and Ms. Nancy Zimmer-
man ‘85 in honor of the Class of 1985
1986: Mr. Robert Wootton P’08.5 and Mrs. Carol Wootton P’08.5, in honor of
Anne Wootton ‘08.5 and the 117th editorial board
1991: Mr. James Kaplan ‘92
Fund the digitization of any full year of The Brown Daily Herald from before
1940 with a gift of $2,500, any year between 1940-1980 with $5,000 or any
year from 1980-present with $7,500. The cost to digitize any year between
2003 and 2008 is $2,500, as some digital records exist for these years.
The Brown Daily Herald, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
Keep in touch and find out more at heraldalumni.org
Scott Lowenstein
‘A’ is for ‘about’
Measuring modern life, more or less
Rachel Arndt
Four years in footnotes
Discovery and David Foster Wallace
Chaz Firestone
Beyond skin and skull
The internet and the ‘extended mind’
Kelly McKowen
Brunonia abroad
Headed a long way from College Hill
Michael Bechek
Principles and the professor
An old textbook shows how teaching
and learning have changed
Michael Skocpol
Getting in with Goldman
What Ruth can teach us about a life
lived ironically
As a generally neurotic person,
I tend to assign significance to all
observations, no matter how insig-
nificant. A stray mark on a graded
paper obviously means it was well
written, and a muffled clearing of a
class member’s throat is an undeniable
sign of disapproval. In a sense, this
absurd noticing of things is what in-
terests me in politics, where the small-
est word choice can make all of the
difference (hence, we hear about the
“Recovery Act” from Democrats and
an “unprecedented bailout” from the
But as I move on to my first real
job, in political polling and strategy,
I hope that what I call “neurotic”
becomes “observant.” Clearly, I’m
already on my way.
ere’s just one little thing that
I often fail to notice: People make
mistakes — in action and observation.
Sometimes a cough is just a cough,
just as a one-point lead in a poll could
be the result of a few poorly timed
trips to the grocery store. is “give”
— a margin of error — is too often
overlooked at Brown, as elsewhere.
But for all the shortcomings, I have
learned at Brown to appreciate little
things for what they are — maybe
significant, maybe not.
Take Brown’s grading policy. My
friends from just about every other
school look at me in disbelief when I
describe the University’s philosophy
about grades. How can grading pos-
sibly be fair when there are so few dis-
tinctions? To which I respond: How
can a grading policy be fair with such
fine gradation? How much difference
is there really between an A-minus
and an A, and why should that dif-
ference matter? An A means I did a
great job in a class; a B a good job; a
C, not so good. (We don’t talk about
No Credit.)
As I finish Brown, I have a much
better idea about what a good versus
a great job means — it is a distinction
that allows for a margin of error. It re-
places the anxiety and competitiveness
with a much healthier attitude about
what grades should be: a general as-
sessment of how I did in a class.
e no-pluses-and-minuses policy
is emblematic of a broader philosophy
at Brown that understands students
can learn best when we are allowed
some wiggle room. It is part of the
ethos here for professors to keep
students in mind when designing
their coursework and undergradu-
ate education. Even in my classes in
economics, a discipline where the pre-
vailing attitude about causation can
be elucidated by the recent financial
crisis, professors have stressed think-
ing critically about what a statistical
result means in a complex world with
At Brown, we are proud of our
adversity through slight misdirec-
tion. We appreciate margin of error.
I hope to take this lesson with me to
the world of politics, and remember
that the other guy’s supporters go to
the grocery store as much as my guy’s
do (unless, of course, my candidate is
winning by a point).
Lowenstein ’10,
from Binghamton,
N.Y., was senior
editor of The Herald
in 2009.
A is for ‘about’
Measuring modern life, more or less
our heads when calculators can do them for us.
Even the symbolic systems we’ve developed can
be considered cognitive tools — when a friend
asks me to write up a column for a magazine,
he can tell me exactly how many words he
wants in just three characters (7-0-0).
Recently, some clever philosophers of mind
have taken this intuitive insight to exciting
new places. If physics students really are letting
their hands do some of the thinking for them,
the argument goes, then maybe our hands are
more than mere tools for the mind — maybe
our hands are parts of our minds, at least when
they’re doing the kinds of things minds do. If
calculators do the kind of work that would be
considered mental if it had gone on inside a
skull, and if iPhones store the kind of informa-
tion that would be considered mental if it had
been stored inside a skull, then maybe those
devices — and all cognitive tools with them
— are themselves stamped with the mark of the
mental, and are literally parts of our minds.
On this view, then, minds are not con-
fined to skulls: ey extend out into the world
around us, along bridges we build when we
dovetail our minds with our tools.
It remains to be seen whether the “extended
mind” thesis, as it is known, turns out to be
true. But I think it is at least on the right track.
We really do “offload” cognition onto all sorts
of tools — call them “cognitive prosthetics.”
And even if the extended mind thesis is only
half-right, the implications are staggering.
I often bring my laptop to class and use
the Internet. Sometimes it distracts me, but I
think it makes me a better student most of the
time. I can look up references mentioned by
the professor, clarify something I missed with a
quick IM to a fellow laptop-user or, if the class
is reviewing something I already know, I can
just pick something new to learn online: the
day’s headlines, an insightful blog post or, if I’m
feeling industrious, next week’s reading.
at song may sound familiar, and it’s been
sung before. But if the extended mind thesis is
true, there may be a new way to spin it: e
Internet is literally a part of our minds.
Our generation bears a unique relationship
to the Internet. An older generation might have
seen the Internet as an exciting new tool, while
for younger generations, the Internet has always
been there, fully formed. But our generation
has grown up alongside the Internet. e In-
ternet was first put to commercial use in my
birth year, 1988, as the ARPANET, what one
might call the fetal stage of the modern Inter-
net. I was a late talker, so as I was beginning to
expand my vocabulary in 1991, the Internet
was finding its voice as well, when it became
known as the World Wide Web project. e
word “Internet” gained popularity when we
entered first grade, and it reached its billionth
user around the time when we came to Brown.
Each step in our development has been paral-
leled by a development online.
It’s not so surprising then, the kinship we
feel with the Internet. It has grown with us,
changing to fit our needs.
But like any good cognitive tool, it gives as
good as it gets, shaping our thinking as well.
Even one day without the Internet makes me
feel a bit uneasy, like I’m missing a part; and
who knows, a week without it could send me
into withdrawal. Maybe that makes me an
addict. But if the Internet really is part of my
mind, is it so strange that I would miss it the
way I would any other part of my mental life?
e Internet is the cognitive prosthetic par
excellence, and that deserves a thumbs up.
Firestone: The internet and the ‘extended mind’
continued from page 18
like being able to look at the steps I’ve taken
after I’ve reached
an answer
. I am selfish in my
. ere is no one way
to do things. To
look at each action as the potential
for human
behavior in its most natural form: to look at
education as something living and growing, as
opposed to simply an end
to reach.
[e sentences from the opening paragraph are
edited versions of sentences that appeared in my
Brown application essay, written October 2005.]
According to contemporary (literary)
wisdom, “I” is not the author of fiction and is,
rather, the narrator, a character, an explicitly
false person. Forward: e “I” of nonfiction is
the writer, but the writer is a character formed
by her own writing. is character is a transla-
tion, continuous yet aggressive in her push for
independence. is is the writer’s tendency to
write herself away, even when that undoing is
irrational, contemptuous.
e professor’s nonfiction class was the start
of everything: I learned about scaffolding, this
marvelous trick used to form writing and then
taken away, stripped piece by piece from the
writing’s façade, until the writer’s truest inten-
tions are what remain. I stopped being able
to write standard academic essays. e neces-
sary response became clear: Literary Arts, not
English. And now, with Midwestern hands, I
continue to write driven by the inspiration (I
do not like that word; there is no other word)
of my thesis adviser, that poetic master whose
words — both written and said — will always
be enough.
I came to college to find the nature of words
and those created by them. e creations
were revealed to be the writers. I was satisfied
with language.
By the time I reached the end of David Foster
Wallace’s “Authority and American Usage,” I
fell into a foreign void but lacked surround-
ings and pointed out that the void, in all its
profound emptiness, must be contained. I set
out in search of boundaries. I set out reading
DFW’s essays, his fiction, his speeches. I was
learning how to write.
But perhaps it is the reason behind the dis-
covery of DFW that made the discovery itself so
astounding, awesome: It was in the third class I
had taken from my favorite professor at Brown,
an English professor who, draped in skirts and
glasses and encouragement, is one the primary
reasons I love to write. And certainly the main
reason I know how to write (though this state-
ment is dripping with too much self-confidence
for any writer (it’s cyclical) to stand behind).
A reader wished publishers would put ex-
tra pages at the end of books so he wouldn’t
know when the ending was about to erupt.
But, I asked, wouldn’t you just look for the
last page of text? Or maybe the book would
end with repeated parts of itself. You’d know
the ending because you’d recognize the story
folding in on itself in repetition. But I’d keep
going, I said: “Infinite Jest” is stories and one
tells of an Entertainment so powerful that the
viewer is left unable to do anything, ensnared
in the Entertainment. And this, I answered
(to a question never asked), is why the greatest
books must end.
My plea to learn grammar — that nitpicker’s
code, that pesky yet lovable creature — was
answered in Spanish. I learned about indirect
object pronouns, the preterite and the indica-
tive, the temporal difference between “has”
and “had” and my favorite mood, the sub-
junctive. If I were to learn grammar again, I’d
choose Spanish.
So I chose Spanish. I returned to Brown
from a semester in Barcelona and found my-
self wary of, and weary from, translating life
into numbers, drawing graphs and plotting
intersections to solve problems of free-market
economics. Economics is valuable. e math-
ematical translations are oddly beautiful. But
when I first noticed myself thinking in Span-
ish, I could no longer force away my love of
language. Or: I could not stop writing myself
into being, a task that relies on language and
words and translation. e necessary response
became clear: Spanish, not economics.
I don’t think I’ve collected or thought enough
thoughts to know nostalgia. But let me go back
to the sweaty summer day when I reached the
end of “Infinite Jest” or the month when I
finished reading “Ulysses” and became a for-
mer editor, and I’ll tell you if I’m humbled
or stubborn.
According to some theories, the stream of
consciousness cannot be translated to the page
because it cannot be fully represented with
language. To capture the rate and rhythm and
multiplicities of possibilities of possibilities of
possibilities &c. of thoughts is the mind’s task
alone — not the writer’s. e mind is too chaotic
for the word. (M. asked me why it mattered
that words are just symbols. She asked why
we can’t just enjoy reading a book because it
is a great book. I had no good answer but to
continue writing.)
Writing all moments is impossible. Knowing
all moments is impossible. I read DFW and
convinced myself otherwise. My writing, already
too-much, took on unnecessary and boring lay-
ers, digressions long severed from their roots.
My nonfiction would swing its pendulum and
declare the arc too mathematical. Eventually
weight ripped the string from its anchor, and my
tales of truth jumped into imagined scenes of
tiny angels practicing postmortem dentistry.
And that is not real but it is real because I
thought it. So here, where I mean to explain the
impossible task of thinking through writing, I
end up mirroring the extension, or spreading
out, or flattening, the pinpoint moment.
Learning to write nonfiction is a poetic ver-
sion of learning to read. Learning to read the
newspaper is not learning to read.
And those who write the newspaper? ey
are in the wilderness of the newsroom. Still, the
nagging paradox: Wilderness requires a lack of
people to fulfill its definition. e map tells
you, “You are here,” which undoes the scene:
You are not in the wilderness.
How, then, can the
newsroom be a wilder-
ness? It is why wilderness
can be called wilderness,
even when you are in
it, pack straps digging
into shoulders. It is
immensely far from
our quotidian wander-
ings and so crucial to a
successful, intelligent
and thoughtful society.
Working at e Herald
was a daily trek in and
out of the wilderness,
a translation from the guts of the newsroom
(the candy drawers and editors’ tendencies)
to the campus and beyond the odd beauty
of straightforward, informative linguistic
e presses rumble less today, thrust fewer
editions into the dim night-morning, the hazy
light that makes perceiving depth a chore.
Four years ago I thought about newspaper
circulation as much as I thought about the
loveliness of the word “disintegration.” I think
about disintegration a lot now: disintegration
by hand, by shredding, by biting, by time, by
washing, by machines. e word tastes decadent.
e word is a process, and, therefore, demands
our attention.
I wrote and edited my work and wrote and
then edited. is was my stint at e Brown
Daily Herald. Putting together the campus’ sole
independent source of news everyday was tiring
and fun and beyond worthwhile. ank you,
119, for teaching me how to write by teaching
me how to edit.
Sometimes we measure in column-inches,
and by quantifying we mechanize. A reflexive
duty, a byproduct of watching.
After all, I go on imitating. As the great
footnoter himself wrote: “It’s funny what you
don’t recall.”
Four years in footnotes
Discovery and David Foster Wallace
Z. Arndt ’10,
from Chicago, was
senior editor of The
Herald in 2009.
After four strenuous years on
College Hill, most Brown students
are ready for something new. Taking
jobs or enrolling in graduate pro-
grams, the majority will relocate to
popular alumni hubs in New York,
Massachusetts and California.
For some students, however, life
after Commencement will take them
not only far beyond Providence, but
also far beyond the United States.
At the end of this summer, I’ll find
myself in Norway, researching the
country’s welfare system.
According to statistics collected
by the University between 1999 and
2009, roughly 7 percent of graduat-
ing seniors chose to move abroad
after receiving their diplomas, mak-
ing it the fourth-most popular op-
tion after New York, Boston and
San Francisco.
Historically, Brown students
have been recognized for being
among the country’s top earners
of fellowships and grants funding
study, research or teaching abroad.
Obviously, we are no strangers to
settling down far from home.
at said, despite the relative
popularity of moving abroad af-
ter leaving Providence, it remains
a daunting prospect for most stu-
dents. One of this year’s Fulbright-
ers, Rachel Katz ’10, will leave the
United States at the end of the com-
ing summer to spend almost a year
in the Chinese interior researching
the country’s trucking industry. As
is true for many of us, it is still dif-
ficult for her to imagine living in a
foreign country.
“Honestly, moving there is still a
pretty abstract idea — I only found
out a few weeks ago that I’d be go-
ing and I don’t think it’s fully hit
me yet,” she says.
Ready or not, students like Katz
will soon have to negotiate a unique
set of issues arising from being for-
eigners. In addition to acquiring
languages and adjusting to new cul-
tural norms, Brown’s expatriates will
find themselves answering questions
they probably never expected to
ask themselves: How do I pay taxes
from Spain? Will my cell phone
work in Nairobi? Is it safe to eat
reindeer? What do I do if there’s a
coup d’état?
For alum Rajiv Jayadevan ’09,
former editor-in-chief of e Her-
ald’s post- Magazine, finding an-
swers to questions like these and
others has been an eye-opening
part of his life abroad after Brown.
A Fulbright recipient, Jayadevan
moved to Indonesia to teach English
and found that the experience not
only taught him about traveling,
but also gave him critical perspec-
tive about university life.
“e world outside of the Brown
bubble — here in Indonesia, at least
— is often slow and illogical, and
it was certainly difficult getting
used to that. It’s also tough being
away from constant intellectual
And perhaps that is what will be
most difficult after leaving College
Hill for those of us moving abroad:
not the adjustment to something
new, but the loss of what has come
before. For every Brown student,
graduation is a time to say good-
bye to friends and the university
that has been home for the last
four years.
For a small group at this year’s
ceremony, it might also be a deeper,
cultural farewell to America, at least
for now.
McKowen ’10,
from Bedford, N.H.,
was editor-in-chief of
The Herald’s weekly
post- Magazine in
How do I pay taxes
from Spain? Will my
cell phone work in
Nairobi? Is it safe to
eat reindeer?
Brunonia abroad
Headed a long way from College Hill
Can’t bear to part from
College Hill?
Don’t miss a thing!
Principles and the professor
Professor Ivory Franklin Frisbee
seems like a know-it-all. He is.
“e Greek alphabet has twenty-
four letters: — ”
So begins, impatiently, the an-
cient book I first checked out of
Rockefeller Library last summer,
Professor Frisbee’s “Beginner’s Greek
Book for Schools,” published in
1898. His imperiousness practically
reeks from its pages — making them
seriously uninviting despite Frisbee’s
insistence that they are “printed in
large type, and in every way made
legible and attractive.”
As I soon discovered, Frisbee
teaches Ancient Greek about as
engagingly as a flight attendant
does seatbelt-buckling. He empha-
sizes rules, classification and rigor
of every kind. It must have been
clear to students of Frisbee’s how
their professor dressed himself in
the morning: “Sweaters are divided
into three categories. ...”
One imagines the late-19th cen-
tury classroom, though, to be a se-
vere sort of place where the rules,
rote memorization and endless rep-
etition that Frisbee demands seemed
almost natural. It must have been,
at any rate, quite a different envi-
ronment from the typical Brown
lecture hall today, where professors
so clearly feel reminded that they
must try to be interesting as well
as informative — animated slides
and streaming video their tools for
Ivory Frisbee is most definitely
not interesting, and his approach
to teaching has nothing to do with
winning him love and admiration
(though he does swear that “all of
the methods have been for years
tested by the author in the class
room, and have been found most
efficient”). It’s clear he never had to
be graded by his students on evalu-
ation forms like the ones I received
this semester, which invited me to
rate the instructor’s “enthusiasm”
and answer questions like, “To what
extent did this course develop your
understanding of the diversity of
people and cultures?”
What seemed so strange to me
about Frisbee is that he treats the
student like you would treat a bro-
ken limb — something to be ad-
justed, set and immobilized without
debate or introduction. You don’t
begin, Frisbee reasons, by persuad-
ing a fire of the merits of water.
Frisbee represents the anti-Brown.
He would never have accepted the
idea that the first day of class should
be spent discussing the benefits of
classical studies, how the profes-
sor can be reached by telephone
on the weekends and why students
should bother to show up to Greek
on Mondays rather than that laid-
back seminar.
There is a popular idea that
higher education should be treated
like any other service provided to
consumers. Considering the price-
tag on a Brown degree, this seems
justified — and indeed, the modern
university accepts it, if only tacitly.
For four years, I have been in com-
plete control.
I enjoy this state of things — a
lot. I have near complete freedom
to choose my courses. I can take
hard classes if I’m feeling motivated,
easy classes if I’m feeling lazy. I can
avoid taking classes with profes-
sors who are tough graders. I can
study at the library, if I so choose,
on a completely nocturnal sched-
ule. Having this freedom is part of
growing up, part of learning how
to make good choices, how to be
a responsible adult. Brown treats
its students, for the most part, as
autonomous human beings.
Frisbee’s book reminded me that
it wasn’t always this way. e stu-
dent did not have so much control.
Sometimes, he was treated like a
fractured tibia by eager profession-
als. Why, I had to wonder?
I really think Frisbee cares about
his students, as much as he talks over
their heads, as though addressing a
concerned guardian. No less than
a good professor today, Frisbee has
a “course objective” and does not
lose sight of it. e stated purpose
of Frisbee’s book is “the preparation
for reading Xenophon’s Anabasis.”
And the text, “if rightly used,” Fris-
bee promises, “will arouse greatly
the pupil’s zeal for future acquisi-
tion.” e simplicity of the Frisbee
textbook is as elegant as it is mad-
dening: “e pupil is led to classify
and assimilate (information) by its
necessary relations. us in all of his
work, he is led to observe, to think
and to form his own conclusions.”
Classify, assimilate, graduate.
Ancient Greek really is hard to
learn if you’re not forced to. My
“zeal for acquisition,” shamefully,
did not far outlast that July after-
noon, and I accept my degree not
in the least prepared to read Xeno-
phon’s Anabasis. I don’t know if I
would be happier now if I had been
forced by Ivory Franklin Frisbee to
read his book beyond the first 15
pages. But I would know Greek.
We are the new consumers. Fris-
bee had his “principles of pedagogy,”
but they’re unappealing. Today’s
professor accepts a more ecumenical
approach to teaching and learning.
In the syllabus for a class I took this
year, one of my professors wrote that
“a teacher must utilize a repertoire of
skills to engage and inform students,
cognizant that varied background,
education and experience contrib-
ute to how individuals learn.” He
described learning as “the acqui-
sition and integration of sensory
“Exercises,” wrote Frisbee, “must
be repeated until the pupil thor-
oughly grasps the form of the Greek
I’ll soon have to return Frisbee’s
book — unfinished — no doubt
feeling a bit guilty, like I’ve dropped
a class. But I do wish, when the next
reader picks up Frisbee’s old book,
that he or she is dedicated enough to
someday read Xenophon’s Anabasis.
I hear great things.
Prof. Frisbee teaches
Ancient Greek about
as engagingly as a
flight attendant does
What an old textbook says about how teaching and learning have changed
Bechek ’10,
from Needham, Mass.,
was managing editor
of The Herald in 2009.
Brown enters the national con-
sciousness in strange ways.
Usually, it comes across as an exotic
place, a bastion of the elite and famous,
its students devoid of common sense
and oblivious to common sensibili-
ties in our rarified bubble. As far as
the world at large is concerned, our
class matriculated alongside Summer
Roberts of “e OC” and will graduate
with Hermione looking on. In the last
four years, we came clean about our
slave-trading roots, washed our hands
of “Columbus Day” and spent most
of the rest of our time having raunchy
naked parties on the College’s dime.
But our most recent blip on the
national radar gave the old narrative
a fresh twist. e news that President
Ruth Simmons was cutting ties with
Goldman Sachs, as an article in the
New York Times portrayed it, sparked
a fit of jilted pique among the student
body. Our leaders, like the nation’s,
had canoodled with Wall Street and
let us down. We still came across as
hopelessly naïve, but even we, the
swaddled liberal elites, were sharing
in Main Street’s betrayal.
While it was nice to be analogized
to the Average Joe for once, the story
missed the mark. On the contrary, I
found that most greeted the news of
her resignation from Goldman’s board
with a shrug. For the most part, we
knew about her corporate board mem-
berships — she continues to serve at
Texas Instruments — and gave them
little thought. I for one wasn’t all that
surprised she wanted to distance herself
from what was rapidly becoming the
most resented company in America.
is semester’s Herald poll found Ruth
as popular as ever.
It makes sense that we’re quite com-
fortable with the idea that President
Simmons could immerse herself for
years in the filthy excesses of Goldman’s
corporate culture and emerge the same
old Ruth, untarnished in our eyes. Af-
ter all, we Brown students relish being
in on something but not necessarily
of it — situating ourselves just a little
above it all, being a bit too cool for
school even as we play along.
We go to frat parties — ironically.
We head to the Providence Place Mall
— and roll our eyes about it later. We
sit in the Ratty and crack jokes about
the food. We’re even a little disdainful
of the whole Ivy League thing. Yeah,
we go to one of those schools, but we’re
not the type of students who would
go to one of those schools.
Similarly, we like to imagine Ruth
in all those Goldman board meet-
ings, rolling her eyes at the fatcats and
the shills.
At worst, we assume, she stayed
away from the ickiness, showed up
and then got away with several million
dollars for her trouble, with plenty of
time left over to take care of the things
she really cares about — like us.
At best, we imagine, she managed
to inject her moral compass into the
proceedings even while masquerading
as a perfect corporate suit, subtly shav-
ing a few zeros off those outrageous
bonuses in the process.
Hell, some of us see ourselves doing
more or less the same thing next year,
if only at the entry level.
So are we in on the joke, or are
we as naïve as advertised? Only the
woman herself knows what she was
thinking, and she’s shown little eager-
ness to publicly navel-gaze about her
time in Goldman’s inner circle.
I do know that we students proj-
ect a lot onto “Ruth,” even before we
know much of anything about her. e
first time we presume the familiarity of
a first-name basis, we draw her close
to us, trustingly. She’s not exactly one
of us, but we assume that she gets it,
that she’s not one of them either —
not a sell-out, not cold-blooded, not
a hired suit.
We glimpse something in her we
like, and we seize on it.
ere’s a history there. Simmons’
predecessor, Gordon Gee, famously
failed to connect with the campus.
With a lawyerly background, a reputa-
tion as more CEO than scholar, and
a decidedly non-ironic signature bow
tie, he was quintessentially not in on
the joke, and he did not stick around
long. Among Gee’s faux pas was an
elaborate and expensive renovation of
55 Power Street, Brown’s presidential
Enter Ruth, whose humble origins
in a sharecropper’s shack in segregated
Texas have always helped her proj-
ect a refreshing sense of perspective,
even as she climbed to pioneering
heights. anks to formative years
spent defying limitations as a poor
black woman, her self-awareness is
unparalleled; her actions always seem
considered, grounded in a confident
understanding of who she is and what
she’s all about. At Brown’s helm, she
can hobnob with wealthy donors
while still winking at pretense, and
it all comes across as pretty much
sincere. After Gee, she was univer-
sally regarded as a welcome change
of pace.
Given her persona, one of the most
fitting rumors I ever heard during my
years as a Herald editor was that Ruth
doesn’t live on Power Street at all, that
she just holds occasional functions
there. She maintains a place off-cam-
pus, the rumor goes — a home in some
quiet neighborhood, unfrilly, where
she can maintain her distance from it
all. She may hold court at the crest of
Power, but she doesn’t live there.
I’ve always wondered if the rumors
were true, and recently I screwed up
the courage to e-mail President Sim-
mons and ask. Her response? She does
live at 55 Power Street, and she moved
in the day she took the job. Which is
not to say it has been an easy fit.
“e struggle to make the presi-
dential dwelling a home is a major
consideration,” she wrote back. “Since
55 had been famously renovated be-
fore I came, I chose to keep the house
intact as Gordon Gee had envisioned
it, leaving it to my photographs and
other portable items to provide that
feeling of home for me.”
She seems comfortable — or at
least comfortable enough — with
that decision.
“A part of my consciousness is al-
ways with the humble houses that I
grew up in, so another dimension of
living at 55 Power is that it remains a
little foreign and somewhat too privi-
leged to me,” she explained. “Neverthe-
less, when I return at the end of the
day or from a trip, it is now familiar
enough that I can say that I feel utterly
relieved to be home.”
I also asked her, more generally,
where she considers to be her home,
and in that she was unequivocal.
“I can comfortably say 55 Power
Street,” she responded — without a
trace of irony.
Skocpol ’10,
from Cambridge,
Mass., was deputy
managing editor of
The Herald in 2009.
Getting in with Goldman
What Ruth can teach us about a life lived ironically
Brown students relish
being in on something
but not necessarily
of it — situating
ourselves just a little
above it all, being a
bit too cool for school
even as we play along.
A diamond to Providence. What a great
little college town, and so appropriately
named. Still, living somewhere with slightly
less rainfall will be, well, divine.
A diamond to Hermione. Now that we
seventh-years are on the way out, I guess that
means you’ll be the new Quaffler or whatever
on the quidditch team. Go Bruno.
Coal to mortarboards. We’re wary of put-
ting something on our heads that sounds like
the latest wheeled contraption conveying
hipsters down Brook Street.
Speaking of which, a congratulatory dia-
mond to our journalistic and kickballing foes
at the College Hill Independent, for four years
of spinning University funding into journal-
istic gold. You got out of the business at the
right time though — with budget cuts, we
hear the University may ask you to ditch the
ironically patterned broadsheet. Hey, Brown
is green!
Coal to the Rhode Island Blood Center.
You keep labeling our donations, but how
many times do we have to tell you we don’t
believe in pluses and minuses?
Coal to President Obama, whose meteoric
rise over the last four years has made him such
a cliché. Whatever, though — we saw him
live before he got big.
A diamond to the ghosts of ayer Street
past — Dunkin’ Donuts, Geoff’s, Spikes, Cold
Stone, Roba!Dolce, Store 24 before it was
Tedeschi’s. Don’t worry, we can never replace
you — and neither can your landlords.
A diamond to Spectrum India, though,
which outlasted all of the above. How you
pay for that space by selling novelty tissue-
box holders, broken sandals and sequins will
remain a mystery to future generations.
A cubic zirconium to campus leftists and
their activism. We wouldn’t know what we’d
do without you, but after four years of your
non-stop teaching in, taking back and dancing
off, it’s a relief to finally be walking out.
Un diamante to College Hill’s greatest
enduring fixture, Bagel Gourmet. Don’t let
anyone tell you there’s such thing as too much
cream cheese.
Coal to the Creative Arts Center. Sure,
construction’s looking nice over there in Wind
Tunnel Alley (er, “e Walk”), but we dislike
things that are eccentric, overpriced and not
yet ready to do their job. (A diamond to the
members of the graduating class, neverthe-
A diamond to both the guest speakers
and rappers performing on the Main Green
this spring. Mr. Rohde, if you need a good
opening line for your address, just paraphrase
a crowd-pleaser like Snoop’s: “Do anybody at
this University smoke journalism?!”
A cubic zirconium to the Slavery and
Justice report, which was released when we
were freshmen. Even if the University has
since come up short on making amends for
slavery, justice will be served as long as the
PDF is available online somewhere, right?
Coal to the First Baptist Church in Amer-
ica. First in history, last in seating capacity.
Finally, a diamond to Brown, the place
we’ve called home for the last four years. If
those credit card offers from the Alumni As-
sociation are a good first indication, we’re
sure you’ll be in touch.
— 119
Steve DeLucia

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