Barbara Walters teaches class on the art of interviews

Do your homework! Walters stressed the importance of being prepared. Credit: Dana Maxson

Do your homework! Walters stressed the importance of being prepared. Credit: Dana Maxson

On Wed., May 6, celebrity alumna and seasoned journalist Barbara Walters (‘53) taught an hour-long Master Class in the Canon Theater at Sarah Lawrence College. The Master Class, entitled “The Art of the Interview”, was attended by an intimate group of about 40 students concentrating in writing, journalism, and digital media. The small bunch of students were hand-selected by faculty to participate in this one-of-a-kind event. 

The Master Class was conceived to honor Mrs. Walters’ generous $15 million donation for the future Barbara Walters Campus Center made earlier this year. Additionally, the event honored the legacy of Walters. She was the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program and single-handedly broke the glass ceiling for women in broadcast journalism. 

Dean of the College Jerrilynn Dodds expanded upon how the Master Class came together: “The Master Class is an idea that Karen Lawrence and Barbara Walters have discussed for some time [...] We [the community] wanted for her to come so we could express our thanks for her extraordinary gift to the college—the largest gift the college has received,” she explained, “and we knew that [Walters] also wanted to connect with the students to whom she is so committed, and who are part of her legacy. That is the reason the Master Class was a natural event for this day.”

As the title would suggest, the Master Class focused on Walters’ famed interviewing style, and afforded those in attendance the opportunity to ask Walters questions about how she developed her craft as a journalist and receive advice on how to improve their own interviewing skills. Prior to the class, those invited were asked to submit their questions for Walters for review and compilation. Walters cleverly played off of this methodology of the class’s proceedings to impart her first lesson: “never give [the subject] your questions in advance!” 

Despite breaking one of Walters’ interview rules before the Master Class even began, the event continued smoothly as starstruck students nervously approached the SLC legend to ask their questions. The first round of questions specifically dealt with interview techniques, and breaking the barrier between interviewer and subject. Walters advised students to start slow, easing the subject into a sense of comfort before going for the jugular. “Ask the benign questions first,” Walters instructed. “I always save the toughest questions for last.” More importantly, Walters stressed the importance of being prepared: “Homework, homework, homework is key,” she said.


For those just starting out in the journalism/media world, Walters gave encouragement to start at the bottom and work up from there. “I’ve always said get your foot in the door, that may be old-fashioned advice now. Get there before everybody, and stay there after everybody has left,” she said emphasizing the role of hard work and dedication in shaping a journalism career. “Everybody wants the glamour of being on camera, but you have to pay your dues first.” 

Walters certainly did pay her own dues. Before she became an evening news anchor for ABC in 1976, Walters worked as a secretary and then as an assistant to the publicity director of WRCA-TV Tex McCary before landing a writing gig on The Today Show in 1961. From there, Walters lunged at every opportunity she could get. At first stuck covering women’s interest assignments only, Walters eventually proved herself and landed the responsibility of accompanying First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to India and Pakistan, earning her increased respect at the network.


The last of the prepared questions asked Walters about what she wants her impact on future journalists to be: “I want you to never be afraid,” she answered. Walters cited her experience at SLC as being fundamental in her development as a journalist. “The ability to learn how to think [...] and how to frame a question as well as not being afraid to ask it is what I learned from Sarah Lawrence,” she explained. Then, in a candid moment, Walters got up out of her chair and sang the classic SLC chant about her old dormitory in Titsworth: “My girl’s from Titsworth, she’s really down to earth, you get your money’s worth from progressive education!”

After the impromptu musical number, the floor was opened up for spontaneous questions from the audience and the conversation shifted to more contemporary issues facing the journalism field today. In the social media age, it is harder than ever to keep a reader, listener, or viewer’s attention and relate complicated news stories in a way that is simple and makes sense. “You have to give people some idea of what the situation is first, then ask the hard questions,” Walters advised the audience about reporting on tough issues. “You’re not telling the whole story. You can’t tell the whole story. You’re capturing the essence of it.”

Walters noted a recent shift away from hard-hitting news on broadcast programs to more fluffy, lighthearted, “fun” news. In one of the most poignant moments of the class, one audience member asked Walters about how she thinks women should navigate a journalism world where women are expected to be pleasant and mellow, to which Walters responded: “I just think women should do their job. Don’t be pleasant. Don’t be fun. Be a journalist.”

Following the Master Class, there was a reception at the Marshall Field music building. Guests walked through the doors and under a banner announcing a new tradition at SLC: from now on, May 6 will be Barbara Walters Day in honor of the school’s most famous alumna and her $15 million gift. In an extra show of gratitude, Anna Nemetz (‘17), Carrigan O’Brien (‘17), and Amaris Smith (‘17) sang for the crowd, followed by a short thank you video put together by SLC alumni featuring SLC students. Finally, Karen Lawrence took the podium to personally thank Walters and unveil the new plaque that will adorn the future Barbara Walters Campus Center. It was smiles all around as the room leapt to roarous applause in honor of SLC’s most distinguished and honored community member of all time.

by Wade Wallerstein '17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Students Hold Vigil For Freddie Gray

SLC Students stood in a circle on the North Lawn in silence to honor the death of Baltimore citizen Freddie Gray. Photo courtesy Rachel Eager ’17

SLC Students stood in a circle on the North Lawn in silence to honor the death of Baltimore citizen Freddie Gray. Photo courtesy Rachel Eager ’17

On Mon., May 4, about fifty students, faculty and staff came together on the North Lawn for a moment of silence for Freddie Gray. They stood in a large circle, facing inward, with several people in attendance holding photographs of the current situation in Baltimore. Participants stood in silence, in an act of solidarity, until three readers—Sydney Pope ('18), the organizer of the vigil, fellow student Ayanna Harrison ('17), and Director of Diversity and Campus Engagement Natalie Gross—went through a timeline of the events surrounding Gray's death.

Freddie Gray died on April 19, one week after his violent arrest by the Baltimore Police Department, and, on May 1, a medical report sent to state prosecutors ruled that the death was a homicide. Protests in response to this have been ongoing in downtown Baltimore since the middle of last month, calling for consequences to those responsible for Gray's death and an end to police brutality.

Pope, who is from Baltimore, decided to plan the SLC initiative the Friday before the vigil took place. She got in touch with Natalie Gross and Common Ground space managers Imani West-Abdallah ('16) and Brendan O'Connell ('17), and held a brief planning session on the prior Sunday. "This really hit home," she said of the events that have been occurring in her home city. "I felt like I had to do something." 

Gross agreed that she thinks of SLC-focused initiatives to fight racism and create a more inclusive community, which include RealTalk events and Race Matters discussions, in a larger context. "I think if I think about them so globally, it overwhelms me a little bit," she said. But she continued on the importance of thinking about the root of the issue, and thinking about "how many black and brown individuals, how many lives have been taken at the hands of people who are supposed to be in authority, who are supposed to protect and serve our respective communities."

"To me," she said, "it goes back to that lack of understanding, and seeing these black and brown bodies as othered, as not belonging, and therefore, not being worthy of respect." She continued, "If we can plant enough different kinds of seeds of awareness, of understanding...[we can] work to have a different perspective where it is not 'us' and 'them', or 'me' and 'them', but it is just us."

Pope commented that she is looking forward to returning to Baltimore after the semester ends. "I want to be a part of that healing process as much as possible."

by Janaki Chadha '17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Sarah Lawrence Soon to Adopt New Affirmative Consent Policy

To help keep students safe, these sexual assault awareness posters have been placed all over campus. Photo by Ellie Brumbaum ’17 

To help keep students safe, these sexual assault awareness posters have been placed all over campus. Photo by Ellie Brumbaum ’17 

Like dozens of colleges across the country, Sarah Lawrence will soon be adopting an affirmative consent standard as part of its sexual assault policy. This change, which the college's sexual assault task force has been working towards for some time, will redefine the consent requirement as active agreement rather than simply the absence of a “no.” It will go into effect in the fall, and the college community will be officially notified in the coming weeks.

Dean of Studies Al Green, who also holds the position of Title IX coordinator, said that this addition is part of a larger initiative to improve the way the school deals with the issue of sexual violence and harassment on campus. Last spring, the college was one of about fifty institutions for higher education to be put under investigation for alleged mishandling of these cases by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. According to the Dean, since then, the school has been working to better respond to concerns from students about college policies and procedures and do a more thorough job of educating the campus around issues of sexual assault.

Early this year, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo stated his intention to push forward legislation that would require colleges to incorporate affirmative consent into their sexual assault policies, going off of similar law passed in California in September 2014.

While similar policies have already been adopted by the SUNY system and the standard is on the road to becoming a state mandate, Dean Green commented on how he thinks the school has done "a lot of good work in terms of moving the affirmative consent forward before it was actually hoisted on us by the governor."

He pointed out that the issue is much more complicated than simply incorporating a state law into the college's regulations. "What we try to do is make sure that when we're developing policy and procedure, we can't just adopt something from another campus and [apply it] to Sarah Lawrence. Our students have certain kinds of sensitivities and we wanted to make sure that when we did look at this, we were able to tweak it a little bit to make it more consistent with how we think about these issues on our campus". He continued, "I think the real work will be doing more education among students and ways in which we help them understand what this is."

Along with planning to start an educational campaign to for the student body about the new policy specifically, the college has also been working to strengthen campus alerts when there has been an allegation of sexual assault and has established a threat assessment team “that we bring together when an allegation has been made to make sure that the alleged perpetrator is not a danger to the campus," Dean Green said. The school has also been in conversations with Lawrence Hospital about the needs of the student body and the task force, in hopes of  "finding ways to reach out to students to further the conversation,” is thinking about how to create a program for the larger student community than complements the consent and respect workshops that first-year students are required to complete.

Kelly Gilbert ('15), who is a student member of the task force, said that she thinks the, "new definition, when coupled with the education stuff we're doing, which is all focused on verbal affirmative consent, will be really helpful, and I think give people a clearer understanding of what consent is." She added, however, on a more general note, "I still think that society has a long way to go.”.

In recent months, the issue of campus sexual assault has taken center stage in national discussions on the state of higher education, with countless voices advocating for colleges to take cases more seriously and many accusing institutions of sweeping incidents under the rug to save face. Various news outlets and other media such as the recent documentary, The Hunting Ground, have captured the negative experiences of victims, such as being ignored by college administrators in efforts to keep rape statistics low.

This has largely resulted in calls for stronger campus policies, but other commentators, such as Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times and Emily Yoffe in Slate, have argued for more integration between campus proceedings and local law enforcement as well as greater protection for the rights of the accused. In the same vein, in October of last year, 28 Harvard Law School professors came out in protest of the university's new sexual misconduct policy, claiming that the new rules violated the rights of accused students.

Dean Green responded to this debate, saying that while the college has a responsibility towards the safety of its students, being “mindful of the impact” of the decisions that are made is also important. He still acknowledged that the standard of evidence that campus hearings are operating on is very different than that of a legal proceeding. “It's not 'beyond a reasonable doubt', it's 'more likely than not',” he explained. He continued that for the college, the issue comes down to “trying to balance the safety of the campus with a student's ability to also continue with their education program, but we think that we want to err on the side of making sure the campus is safe”.

He added, however, on the subject of a zero tolerance policy, that oftentimes it can be difficult to find clarity in these cases, explaining that, "for some, [zero tolerance] means that if there is an allegation, that student should be expelled immediately. And I think that we [in the task force] wanted to take some time to think about that and think about how if it's an allegation, nothing has been proven, so is that a prudent way to proceed, where you're basically saying, you're guilty until proven innocent.”

Gilbert maintained that the the process of going through sexual assault cases should be made easier for victims, arguing that when the legal system consistently fails them, schools should take up this responsibility. She acknowledged that this brings up great challenges. “The problem that the task force faces is patriarchy,” she said. “We're trying to figure out how to make a model society about this while also adjusting to the fact that most people have grown up with rape culture and haven't been able to question it.”

On the campus climate in general, she commented, “I think it's maybe better than some parts of America, but I mean, we are definitely not immune.” She still gave the administration credit for taking this issue seriously, and added, “I think that people are galvanized and they want to do something about it, which is a lot better than being complacent and just accepting that sexual assault is a thing that happens, because it definitely doesn't have to.”

by Janaki Chadha ‘17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Labor negotiations drag on at SLC

Operations workers talk about their unionization efforts at recent teach-in. Photo courtesy SLC A/V Department

Operations workers talk about their unionization efforts at recent teach-in. Photo courtesy SLC A/V Department

On Nov. 21, 2014, Sarah Lawrence history was made when the college’s workers voted to unionize by a margin of 11-1. Since then there has been a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not the college was shifting its values as a progressive institution.

One of the most compelling reasons for the above argument is because of a law firm the college hired to negotiate with the workers: Bond, Schoeneck, and King (BSK). In a letter to the student body, President Karen Lawrence explained that the firm was hired because it is “experienced in negotiations involving higher education institutions and recommended by three-quarters of the peer colleges we consulted.” What has been troubling to the majority of the student body is that BSK’s labor division allegedly has an 80-year anti-union history. Of additional concern, according to BSK’s 2009 annual report, was their litigation in “New York's highest court...to eradicate sexual harassment through the promotion of effective workplace procedures…rather than a system which promotes costly individual lawsuits.”

On Jan. 30, 2015, a teach-in was organized by students and faculty in Reisinger Auditorium, perhaps most notably attended by filmmaker Michael Moore whose daughter attended SLC over a decade ago.

"It would be the last place I would expect to see this kind of rotten behavior," he said towards the end of his speech.

What has been taking place over the last several weeks are negotiations between the union to which the workers belong, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30, which has formed a bargaining committee, an attorney from BSK representing SLC, and an outside consulting attorney, Jane Jacobs of Klein Zelman Rothermel Jacobs & Schess. The negotiations have been ongoing since Jan. 8, 2015.

Priscilla Murolo, SLC faculty member and Director of the Graduate Program in Women’s History, who attends the weekly meetings, has said that the negotiations seem to be moving rather slowly, noting a lack of addressing economic issues by spokespeople of the administration. “[...]They have balked at some provisions that are pro forma in union contracts--for example, identifying the administration as "the employer" and agreeing to notify the union when new vacancies occur in the department whose workers the union represents,” she said.

Because of the slow pace of the labor negotiations, what is to come from the next meeting on April 20 is a five hour meeting as opposed to the typical one hour sessions.

Murolo also said that she does not seem to notice a change from the administration besides the attorney from the law firm seeming to be more comfortable speaking on behalf of the administration. “At the last session he spoke about what "we" will do or won't do in such a self-assured manner that one would think he were running the college,” she explained. “I must say that gave me a creepy feeling.”    

Murolo has noted that the administration seems to be lacking transparency and one way by which to improve that is for students and faculty s to be allowed to attend the bargaining sessions.

“I don't think the  insistence on closed-door meetings reflect evil intent on the part of our administrators,” she said. “I think that bargaining frightens them, and that "union-avoidance" law firms like BSK take advantage of such fear, promising to protect administrators from unions in return for a hefty fee. I'd like to see our administration take its cues from an entirely different direction--say, Smith College, whose employees belong to several different unions, all of which have cordial relations with the school's administrators.”   

One of the most vocal supporters on behalf of the workers throughout the negotiations has been Sarah Lawrence Worker’s Justice, a student based organization that works to advocate for and protect the rights of workers on campus and in the larger community. Co-chair Kelly Gilbert (’15) attends the weekly meetings to take notes and share updates with the SLC community.

Gilbert has also noticed the lack of transparency within the administration and, while she thinks the school is on the right track to improving this situation, there is still a long ways to go. “We also still have unanswered questions: how much is the school spending on BSK's consulting services? Because BSK is trying to get into the higher ed market, how can we ensure that they will never be present on our campus again?” she said.

The campaign picked up a lot of steam when the workers were first negotiating for rights and Gilbert wants to keep the momentum going. “I want students to know that these negotiations could affect all workers on campus in some capacity […] Unionization helps non-union workers by raising standards!”

Spencer Goldrich (’16), a Worker’s Justice member, also added that in terms of getting involved, perhaps one of the most important ways to do so is to directly speak to the workers.. “If a maintenance worker is in your dorm fixing something, please take the time to say hi and/or ask them about negotiations,” he suggested. “It's important for them to know they are seen and heard by the beneficiaries of their labor (us students) and that we care about them, and for what they are so courageously fighting.”

For more information please visit priscillamurolo.net or the Sarah Lawrence Worker’s Justice pages on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Sarah Lawrence Worker’s Justice meetings are in the North Room of the Pub at 7 p.m.

by Mary Kekatos '15

mkekatos@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Lampoon keeps SLC laughing

Photo credit: Nahome Diribssa ‘17

Photo credit: Nahome Diribssa ‘17

Photo credit: Nahome Diribssa ‘17

Photo credit: Nahome Diribssa ‘17

If you enjoy laughing and have a love for comedy, there is no doubt that you are familiar with Sarah Lawrence's Lampoon troupe. The group specializes in sketch writing and improvisation, and has been making quite a name for itself both on and off campus. 

Lampoon meets once a week as a class taught by active comedian Keisha Zoller. "It's structured like a UCB class, with a warm-up, with a 10-minute break in the middle [of class], and then if there is a show coming up, we rehearse for that show," said Isabella 'Izzy' Roland (‘16). "Otherwise, we practice new [comedic] forms, or new improv skills, even sketch lab!" Many 'Pooners have noted that the class is highly resourceful as well. According to Maxwell Hegley (‘15), "Once a semester, we have 'Industry Day', where everyone sits in a circle, and we ask Keisha for 3 hours about comedy, acting, living in New York, etc." 

When the group was asked about Zoller herself, they all gushed with praise. "She's just awesome," says Charlotte Cwikolski (‘15). "You want to impress [her]," echoed Maddie Fischer (‘15). Zoller is the head of the UCB Training Center Diversity Program, where many 'Pooners have taken classes and worked as interns. She has given talks and participated in panels concerning race in the comedy industry, and works actively to ensure that scholarship money is given to up-and-coming comedians from minority backgrounds. 

SLC Lampoon is a group that has been on the rise for the past few years, going from a rarely-advertised club to a very cohesive, highly-entertaining, award-winning campus organization. Speaking about his freshman year on the troupe, Patrick Vermillion (‘15) said, "It was pretty shitty.” He continued to elaborate on how they would have a maximum of about 30 people show up to the shows. He also admitted that, in the past, tensions were present. Sam Henneberry (‘15) explained, "There was less comedy and more drama". 

However, things changed as the group began to take things more seriously. And as they took charge, they began putting together better sketches and increasing the number of shows that they did per semester (sometimes at the behest of the Theatre Department's ever-ambitious Christine Ferrell). The comedic experience of the group members also changed. When doing these interviews, there was a sense that many of them have spent half their lives constantly fine-tuning their craft. Along with UCB classes, some of them of have taken acting classes, performed high school comedy, joined other comedy troupes, and more. 

When asked about her experience, Roland says that she attended art school to get an idea about the level of experience some of the members have had. However, the Lampoon troupe wants to ensure that it invites people from all backgrounds to audition, and that they more focus on who can contribute to the group as a whole. 

One of the things that makes the troupe so entertaining is the bond that members of the group have with one another, which came as a surprise to the troupe, considering that they were just looking for talent and funny personality. However, they have bonded really well, which has come in large part from the touring they have done. The troupe just started touring this year, and they have already gone to places like Amherst College, Suffolk University and Harvard University. They will also be going to Chicago during spring break to participate in the College Improv Tournament National Championships. 

Despite their many off-campus trips, the group is grateful for their fans at home. "Our school rocks!" said newcomer Kathleen Yates (‘17).The troupe really appreciates getting to perform on home territory after they’ve been away.  Hegley said that the SLC student body is “the heart and soul of this team.”

The Lampoon troupe will be performing here at SLC on Friday, March 6 with Trike, an incredibly hot comedy troupe who have made NYC their stomping ground with their own unique brand of seamless improv. That will be their last performance before going to Nationals in Chicago over spring break on March 14.

by Nahome Diribssa ’17
ndiribssa@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

SLC Students Attend Black Solidarity Conference at Yale

SLC Students pose during a special dinner held for attendees of the Black Solidarity Conference at Yale  Photo by Lindsey Guion ‘17 

SLC Students pose during a special dinner held for attendees of the Black Solidarity Conference at Yale
Photo by Lindsey Guion ‘17 

On the weekend of Sat., Feb. 21, students from all over the country converged in New Haven, Conn. to attend the 20th Annual Black Solidarity Conference at Yale University. Sarah Lawrence students were also in attendance, in a group organized by Najah Diop (’17), Ayanna Harrison (’170, and faculty advisor Natalie Gross from the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement. 14 SLC students convened at Westlands Gate on the morning of Feb. 19 to start their journey off to Connecticut. 

The conference lasted two days. The first day started off strong with a commencement speech in the morning. The song “On and On” by Erykah Badu filled the air in Sheffield Hall as students were welcomed in by alumni speaker Al Lucas. He told stories about what it was like being at Yale in the late 80’s protesting apartheid. “Me and the brothers set up huts outside of the presidents house and lived in them. We wanted to show people what kind of living conditions blacks were forced into during apartheid.”

Suddenly, he asked all conference attendees move into different groups based off of their birth year. Strangers squeezed into uncomfortable spaces together awkwardly. “This is how it was, when they took us from our home, put us on a boat and brought us here. We have to think about what solidarity really means!” He encouraged attendees to branch out and network with people, reminding them to find common ground and to stay “solid” in the cause they had all come together to support. He ended by reminding students, “We are unique in our blackness and one in our struggle!”

Following this speech was a panel discussion featuring Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. As a graduate of Yale and U.S. Representative of Texas’s 18th congressional district, she offered perspective pertaining to the recent climate of police shootings and race relations. She repeatedly stated that young people needed to start utilizing social media more to speak out about what they want. “We’re over there in Washington and Twitter is silent! We need to hear more from all of you so that we can approve changes! That’s how you make things happen.” One student, Delaysha Lockharte from Wells College, appreciated where Congresswoman Lee was coming from, saying, “She was clearly a part of the system, but fighting against it from within.” Following this panel there were two others. One panel led by Dr. David Riviera was geared to educate students about microaggressions within the context of mental health. Chris Rabb, the final panelist of the day, spoke about the ways that privilege plays into entrepreneurism and innovation.

On the second day of the conference, students started their mornings off with an intense discussion about the U.S. prison system. The panel featured four speakers: George Chochos, Barbara Fair, Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, and Rakim Brooks. Chochos is an ex-convict who spent 11 years in prison while completing a master’s degree. Fair is an opponent of the war on drugs, calling it “Jim Crow by another name.” Radix oversees the New York State Supreme Court and New York City Civil Court. Brooks is an alumnus of Yale who served as a policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Treasury. 

Chochos gave reason as to why there may be so many conflicts between police and communities, saying, “Community policing should not be done by officers that have no connection to the communities they police.” Fair offered the opinion that “the criminal justice system is rigged to charge blacks with crime… many people plea bargain when they’re innocent because they don’t trust the justice system.” Brooks solidified these sentiments with his thought-provoking question: “I have to take an oath in this system… how do I take an oath in a system that I don’t believe in?” Judge Radix took a somewhat different stance, saying, “I believe we have one of the best legal systems in the world…we have potential and you have to educate yourselves to help change what is wrong.” Caleb Palmer from Howard University offered her opinion of Judge Radix’s statement saying, “The judge was clearly assimilated into the system, pushing back against people.” 

Every day at lunchtime, students were all split into what were called “Ujima groups,” where they shared and discussed race-related issues at their own schools. Delaysha Lockharte spoke about how, at Wells, they helped educate people and raise awareness about the recent police shootings. “At our school we showed students a compilation of news clips, the Colbert show and Jon Stewart in order to raise awareness of the protests and their purpose.” Carolyn Martinez-Class (’17) chimed in with criticism of how SLC has handled diversity issues in the past, stating, “The Dean of Multicultural Affairs left the school and then, they just made the only black guy in administration in charge of those affairs even though he has all of these other responsibilities, like being the Dean of Studies.”

Later that evening, the keynote reception was held at a nearby hotel. Students adorned in all black filled the venue and enjoyed a three-course meal. Former president of the NAACP Benjamin Jealous spoke about his early experiences with activism, trying to keep a historically black college from being turned into a prison. “We wanted to show that turning a college into a prison was not just anti-civil rights, but anti-American,” he said. At the end of his speech, Jealous challenged everyone find a cause to fight for in their lives.

Following the reception, Troi Valles (‘17) offered her opinion of the conference: “I see the conference as a way to empower and motivate black youth from across the country to be better activists, challenging us to be more radical. The facilitators encouraged us to network; they wanted us to succeed and take our black brothers and sisters with us.”

by Anthony Magana ‘17 
amagana@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

New Residence Life Director McPhee Replaces McLaughlin

Myra mcphee, who joined the sarah lawrence community this semester, replaces previous residence life director Carolyn O'laughlin. photo courtesy myra mcphee.

Myra mcphee, who joined the sarah lawrence community this semester, replaces previous residence life director Carolyn O'laughlin. photo courtesy myra mcphee.

This semester, Sarah Lawrence said goodbye to Residence Life Director Carolyn O’Laughlin and said hello to SLC’s newest staff member and the woman who will be filling her shoes, Myra McPhee.

McPhee comes to SLC from a position at the United States Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, where she worked to promote the U.S. Department of State’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative pushed by President Obama,which claims to expand study abroad opportunities for international students. “Technically, my boss was John Kerry,” McPhee quipped. Before that, McPhee worked in the residence life departments at Michigan State University and Loyola University in Baltimore.

At the time of the interview and the writing of this article, McPhee had only officially worked on campus for three days. Adjusting well to her new position, McPhee discussed her role, and the positive changes that she wishes to see in the Residence Life program here at SLC.

In essence, it is the Residence Life Director’s job to ensure positive relationships between individuals in the college community—specifically, smooth transitions for freshmen into campus life as well as training and managing the Resident Advisors. Traditionally, there has been low turnout to residence life programming and a general sense of isolation felt by students towards the community. McPhee wants to change all of that by working closely with RA’s to develop more meaningful programming that appeals to students’ specific needs.

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission and Education Specialist Myra McPhee with COB officials. Photo State Dept.

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission and Education Specialist Myra McPhee with COB officials. Photo State Dept.

The RA program is an important one; not only does it help students connect and engage with the community, but it also helps RA’s to develop personal and professional skills. Aislinn Garner (’15) has high hopes for positive change to the program under McPhee: “With the new director, I'd like to see them look into giving raises or more appreciation to the staff, potentially,” she began. “RAs work really hard, sometimes to the detriment of our own social lives or academics. Often students don't realize how little we are paid compared to other institutions, and especially considering the amount of work involved with the position. I also hope the school works on being more open with what an RA can and cannot do at Sarah Lawrence, because people seem a bit confused sometimes, even after an RA has explained their role.”

There has been a lot of talk among the student body that there will be a crackdown on RA’s, and that RA’s will be required to write tickets to students who violate SLC’s code of conduct. Some RA’s even expressed concern that writing tickets will impede their ability to advise, because advisees will see them as disciplinarians instead of resources for help. McPhee dispelled those rumors, explaining that this will not be the case. She said, "The RA role will expand to support the RAs documenting incidents that disrupt the SLC community.  RAs will be empowered to ensure their communities are healthy, positive and flourishing.  There are no plans for RAs to write tickets."

RA’s will never be required to write tickets. Instead, they will be expected to adopt an expanded role in dealing with community conflict when it arises. This could be as simple as an in-depth conversation with a student who is having a negative impact on the community, and then reporting that that conversation occurred to their supervising Graduate Hall Director. While this will mean more responsibility and accountability for RA’s, it is certainly far off from the police state that the rumor mill spread around campus.

Though nothing has been set in stone, and all of these proposed alterations to the roles of RA’s are just talk at this point, many of the RA’s support the idea of an expanded role in enforcing policies to keep campus safe. David Tierney (’17), for example, is excited about the changes: “We're not going to be like security, we're not going to be doing rounds, we're not going to be actively seeking out offenses,” he explained. “If we stumble across some sort of offense, it means that it's affecting the community, or that it is disruptive enough to be noticeable. Being able to document will gives us a tool to make sure that everyone is being respectful of others in the community. I think in a lot of ways, it will ultimately make it easier for us to do our jobs, to facilitate community development.”

McPhee worked at big schools in the past, and completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of South Carolina, which culturally is a very sports-centric school. She knew coming in to her new job as Resident Life Director at SLC that the needs of students here are very different than the needs of students that she was accustomed to previously.

One of McPhee’s biggest focuses has always been on the success of RA’s. She wants to make sure that RA’s are more than adequately equipped to tackle life after college. RA’s not only have to manage their own time and deal with their own personal issues that crop up as they navigate social and academic life at SLC, but also deal with the issues of the students under their supervision. McPhee wants to make sure that they have all the tools that they need to thrive while at SLC, and afterwards as well.

For now, McPhee is still getting used to life at SLC—she will not be able to develop effective programming until she figures out exactly what makes the community tick. Stop by her office in Student Affairs to introduce yourself and give her a warm welcome to SLC.

by Wade Wallerstein ‘17
wwallerstein@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

SLC Model U.N. Gains Recognition at Harvard Conference

Jericho Apollo ‘17 caught mid-thought at the Model UN conference photo Courtesy Harvard National Model United Nations 

Jericho Apollo ‘17 caught mid-thought at the Model UN conference
photo Courtesy Harvard National Model United Nations 

It is known that the United Nations seeks to promote peace, but it can, at times, feel rather exclusive to the outside world. How can students gain debate experience and argue for peace and solutions to international issues?

So exists Model United Nations (MUN). Across high schools and universities throughout the world, Model United Nations clubs have been set up for students to understand how the UN functions. Participants, known as delegate, try their hand at tackling global issues while developing public speaking and debating skills. Misha Sumar (‘16), co-chair of the SLC Model UN,  believes confidence is one of the biggest things gained from participating in Model UN. "Regardless of your profession, it’s so important to be able to stand in front of a crowd and articulate yourself," she explained.

Sumar said she has truly seen her fellow delegates gain these skills and grow from the beginning of the year, when many were afraid to speak, to fearlessly raising placards at the attended conventions.

Fellow co-chair Harsha Raghunandhan (‘17) thinks that gaining a global perspective also comes with participation. "Since students are made to represent countries they may not be from, or countries whose policies they may not agree with, they develop unique insights into a country’s point of view," he said. "An American student, for example, may not have anything in common with the stated ideology of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but having to represent that country means a fundamental understanding of why the country behaves the way it does, and so on. There’s no better way to understand international diplomacy."

Founded in 2008 by Zeynep Goksel and Serena Wuennenberg, SLC's MUN chapter has represented a multitude of countries from Pakistan to Thailand at a number of regional conferences.

Most recently, from Feb. 12-15, the delegates traveled to Cambridge, Mass. to take on the Harvard National Model United Nations, one of the largest conferences in the Northeast, hosting over 5,000 delegates from over 70 countries.  At their first and only conference of the year, the majority of the team represented Lithuania, while the co-chairs opted for specialized agencies, debating as people or institutions. Raghunandhan represented the Education Minister in the Iranian Cabinet while Sumar represented an NGO, Freedom House, in her committee.

The team faced many challenges.The club was rather dormant last year until being resurrected this year, meaning the team was building their strategy from the ground up. For many of the delegates, this was their first times participating in a MUN conference.

Sumar, however, said that any nerves held by first timers were short-lived. “Once we got there everyone jumped right into it and adapted really quickly, and we all supported each other, which helped a lot,” she said.

For the first time in SLC's history, the MUN team came back with awards. Raghunandhan received a verbal commendation for speaking skills and Sumar received the Outstanding Delegate award in each of their respective committees. However, the co-chairs are not excited for the wins just for the prestige.

"This win is so exciting, because it’s brought Sarah Lawrence into the international Model UN circuit," said Sumar.

So what does the future hold for the club? The club is looking forward to not just attending more conferences (such hopes include NMUN DC and Philadelphia MUN) but to also recruiting and expanding. Sumar and Raghunandhan are hoping their most recent win will give the club some validity.

"Now that we have a proven track record, we want to bring in serious debaters into the fold...with a conference and awards under our belt, we have a lot going for us," said Raghunandhan. "We also plan to work harder to get Senate funding for our proposed trips in the fall. We’re in a much better position now than we were in a year ago, when we barely had a club. Things look bright.”

by Mary Kekatos ‘15

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Students Against the Rebrand Call For More Input Post Protest

Some cardboard picket signs used to protest at the board of trustees meeting    Photo credit: Jomana Abdallah 

Some cardboard picket signs used to protest at the board of trustees meeting 
Photo credit: Jomana Abdallah 

More cardboard picket signs used to protest at the board of trustees meeting    Photo credit: Jomana Abdallah 

More cardboard picket signs used to protest at the board of trustees meeting 
Photo credit: Jomana Abdallah 

In early February, a group called Students Against the Rebrand stormed into a Board of Trustees meeting in Heimbold with a document outlining their various concerns with the current state of the College. The list of demands drafted by the small group of students leading the protest covered the alleged “neoliberalization of SLC [and] shift in institutional values and priorities,” as written in a letter posted by the group on their website and directed at the student body. Through this document, which is split into topics that include admissions policies, athletics, the gender ratio, labor relations, sexual assault and diversity, these students aim to reverse the trend they say has been developing at the College over the last few years.

According to member and Senior Class President Emily Rogers (‘15), the group largely came out of concerns about the College's response to workers unionizing on campus and its subsequent relationship with the law firm, Bond, Schoeneck & King (BSK), which has been seen as problematic by both students and faculty who say the firm has been part of "anti-union" activities in the past. “There had been a lot of pushback against BSK, but we really saw a very lacking response from the administration. So I think that is what convinced a lot of people, definitely myself, that the old methods have failed,” said Rogers. “We had to try something different, and that's what we did.”

While the response from the Board was “largely positive” and steps have been taken to create a student affairs committee within the Board of Trustees, Rogers added that the group as a whole “has been unable to secure a meeting with [College President Lawrence], or any of the trustees, and no one from senior staff has responded to any of us.”

On the protest itself, President Lawrence said that while it was obviously a surprise at the time, she was aware of many pre-existing student opinions regarding the issues brought up. Dean Al Green said he thinks the group used too broad a brush in painting the school, adding, "The issues are of concern. But I also think that some of the issues are actually being addressed," mainly pointing to the work that has been done on the prevention of sexual violence.

President Lawrence explained that while she takes the points brought up seriously, her main concern is, “how we [can] do better in hearing voices, helping students feel like they have a voice, and in doing something with the structures so we're improving how that works, both with the board and with us on senior staff.” She continued, “The larger reaction is that it's clear that at least some students, and we weren't totally sure who this group was, feel that, despite the mechanisms set up in senate, on the Board, where there are four student representatives, that somehow other students don't feel like their voices are heard.”

Many of the students who are part of the group are and have been involved in channels for student engagement and input, whether it be through senate, committees, or campus activism groups. Despite this level of involvement, many of these members still do not feel like they have enough information, and one of the main issues the group has been advocating for is increased transparency within the administration.

On this subject, President Lawrence responded, “I don't know exactly what that means because we feel that on senior staff, we go to the Senate a lot of the time to go into detail about what's happening in Finance, what's happening in the President's office, what's happening in Admissions, what's happening in Athletics. So I don't know what more transparency means.” Still, she said she is open to expanding student access to the administration.

Another major point brought up in the document, which goes along with the call for increased transparency, is a demand to reveal how much the college is spending on contracted firms (one of which is the law firm, BSK) which is not information currently available to the college community. When speaking about this, Rogers pointed to periods in the history of the college when financial data that is now confidential had been open to the entire student body, particularly during efforts to grow the college under President Charles DeCarlo in 1976.

President Lawrence emphasized that SLC does not have a large staff and maintained that this makes reaching out to contracted firms necessary. However, on the subject of BSK, President Lawrence said the College had no intention to be perceived as anti-union. “We hired a law firm with a lot of experience in this area because the College doesn't have that experience. We have not had unions before on campus,” she said. "But there's absolutely no intention of intimidating the workers and, in fact, we're going to do what we can to have and plan to have negotiations.” When asked if she thought the document was at all limited in its understanding of the financial realities of the school, the president answered with a straightforward, “Yeah.”

But the group does not buy the excuse of tough financial times. “Show us the data,” Rogers said. Fellow member Faith McGlothlin ('15) added, “There are certain financial realities that this school has to face all the time...but part of what came up in a lot of our discussions is considering the money that we do have, and then thinking, what are we focusing on? What are we privileging more than other issues?” Member Kelly Gilbert ('15) continued on this note, saying, “If you can't afford to give people a raise, but you can afford to retain a law firm that's notorious for union-busting, and they cost at least tens of thousands of dollars if not hundreds of thousands of dollars...you would rather do that than just treat people fairly? That doesn't make sense to me, and if you're argument is about economic competitiveness, you're doing it wrong.”

In terms of other parts of the document, Dean Green pointed out aspects of it he felt were inaccurate: for example, demands that call for balancing spending on men's and women's sports, which, if not done, would be an NCAA violation. “These are requirements,” he said, “It's one of those things that students just assumed that we were not [doing], but by law, we have to.” Dean of Enrollment Kevin McKenna said he feels this points less to the document itself and more to the issue of “what's wrong with our manner of communication, and the way that we communicate to students that led to that misperception.”

All three administrators still maintain that there has not been a “rebrand”, or a shift in institutional values. “What makes a good student experience doesn't stand still completely, but that's different from changing the values of the college,” said President Lawrence. But Students Against the Rebrand do not seem to be backing down from their assertion that, in recent years, a broad set of changes have indeed taken place.

The initiative has gained support from the student body since the protest. Despite this, there have been various criticisms from fellow students, mostly on the subject of diversity. While race-related issues were included in the list of demands, some felt that they were not adequately explored or taken seriously. Rogers agreed that this part of the document should be expanded upon, but added that, while asked, “a lot of people who are currently working on [issues regarding race on campus] did not want to be a part of this group." She said it became an issue of, “How do you both signify that you agree with their efforts, without stealing words from them.” Rogers also pointed out blatant false information about the protest immediately following it, particularly the rumor that there were no students of color involved.

The present focus of the group is receiving input from a wider range of students, since the current document is limited to the contributions of the relatively small group who initially formed the list of demands and organized the protest. On both the criticism and the direction the initiative will take from here, Gilbert said, "I do think we could have done better [in terms of the action]...and I really want to make it a more inclusive movement.” McGlothlin continued, “While the scope [of the list of demands] is rather broad, it is not meant to be all-encompassing at all.” The group acknowledges that it is not a complete representation of the community and welcomes any feedback from interested students, emphasizing that its list of demands is a living document.  

by Janaki Chadha ‘17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

AVI Revamps Menus to Include Increased Sustainable Eating Options

This cold cade at the Pub offers ready-made vegan food. W. Wallerstein

This cold cade at the Pub offers ready-made vegan food. W. Wallerstein

Over the past few years, sustainable eating lifestyles have become increasingly popular across the nation. On the forefront of this trend stand Sarah Lawrence students, who represent a sizeable sub-community of vegan and gluten-free eaters on campus. These lifestyles are celebrated and institutionalized, the prime example being the sustainable living cooperative Warren Green house. 

In the past there has been a conception generated by vegan and gluten-free students that meal plans do not provide adequate options for complete nutrition. Vegan Hannah Rothpearl (’17) is just one dissatisfied customer: “I chose to go off meal plan mainly because I was afraid of not finding enough vegan options.” AVI Foodsystems has responded to increasing requests for more sustainable, vegan, and gluten-free options by implementing strategic menu changes and by planning larger structural changes to SLC Fresh for the future.

SLC Fresh Resident Director Lydia Becker has been working closely with Executive Chef Dan Tokarek to meet a rising demand for diverse eating choices based on personal dietary restrictions among students. Both were new to SLC this year and have spent the last semester familiarizing themselves with the community in order to properly meet its dietary needs. “It took Dan and I some weeks to get a really good feel for what students are really asking for. Sometimes, what students [are] asking for is not what we are hearing right away,” Becker said. 

The biggest way that they are tackling these issues is through simplification of dishes to appeal to the widest group of dining hall visitors. Tokarek explained, “When I say simplify, I mean no more than ten ingredients per dish. By doing that, we’re minimizing cross contamination with wheat and animal products.” 

Visitors to the Bates Dining Hall will notice that at each station there is always at least one vegetarian, if not vegan, option and also at least one gluten-free option. Many students have gleefully taken advantage of the gluten-free and vegan baked goods which now occupy the pastry cabinet at each meal. At the pub, there is an entire cooler dedicated to vegan and vegetarian options, in addition to the newly added Pho Bar which is entirely vegetarian and can be vegan depending on what ingredients are chosen. Hill 2 Go has an entire room with retail products that include vegan and gluten-free options.

Still, Becker and Tokarek admitted that the program has ways to go. Many of the changes that the AVI staff want to see are barred by mechanical restrictions—for example, there can be no vegan fried items at the pub because there is only one fryer. Installing a second fryer for vegan items would requires the addition of a second gas line and coordination with maintenance as well as the fire department and the City of Bronxville. Vegan dishes consist heavily of produce, which is hard to come by in the winter on the East Coast. Availability and distribution of fresh food that is up to AVI standards represents one of the dining team’s biggest challenges. Training food service staff to adequately prepare vegan and gluten-free options is another roadblock to progress.

Though happening slowly, these changes are coming and Becker insists that eventually students will see their options increase: “The set up is not great to be completely gluten-free or vegan, but we’re finding unique ways to do that.” One of the ways that they plan to do this is by working with more local vendors to have fresh products delivered to campus. SLC Fresh works with New York bake shops to get any vegan or gluten-free products that cannot be made in-house in the pastry cabinet.

Tokarek offered a broad vision for what sustainable dining options could look like down the road at SLC. These include expanded retail locations, such as Hill 2 Go, on campus, and perhaps even an entirely vegetarian deli. ”I want to see entire rooms of only vegan and vegetarian options,” Tokarek said. On the short term, students can expect to see fresh produce options increase as the weather grows warmer and the availability of those products increases. A proposed all-vegetarian dinner (tentatively titled ‘VegFest’) is in the works for later in the semester.

For now, vegan and gluten-free eaters will have the best chance of finding the widest diversity of options at Bates dining hall, which has the best mechanical set-up for providing it. “My favorite vegan item is our hummus,” Becker added. “We fry all of our chips in a specially dedicated vegan fryer. We have great guacamole right now too which is 100% vegan.” Tokarek has an affinity for tofu and seitan, and he takes great care in preparing flavorful dishes using those protein-rich ingredients.

The community has responded positively to menu changes by not responding at all. “No news is good news,” Tokarek said. “Students are much more likely to give feedback when they don’t like something than when they’re satisfied.” The best way that SLC students on meal plan with dietary restrictions can see changes made is by providing feedback to AVI, be it via e-mail, comment cards, or surveys. According to Becker, feedback thus far has included almost no complaints, just requests for additions. Food service staff has been able to make over half of all of the requested additions to dining options happen.

You can follow @SLCFresh on Instagram for daily updates on new dishes and dining hall events, and submit your own feedback to AVI via their online feedback form here http://www.aviserves.com/slc/share-your-experience.html 

By Wade Wallerstein ’17
wwallerstein@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

How Will New Cuba Ties Change Study Abroad?

Juna Drougas ’16 and Xara Tan ’16 relaxing in Cuba Photo courtesy J. Drougas

Juna Drougas ’16 and Xara Tan ’16 relaxing in Cuba
Photo courtesy J. Drougas

For a brief period in Dec. 2013, national media engaged in a speculative frenzy over President Obama’s spontaneous handshake with Cuban president Raúl Castro at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. None anticipated that just a year later, on Dec. 17, 2014, the two leaders would announce that a prolonged deliberative process of which that handshake was a small part had restored diplomatic ties between their countries. The implications of this new relationship are already being felt by cultural exchange agencies, ordinary travelers, Cubans living in both countries, and, perhaps soon, students on the Sarah Lawrence-Havana program. 

Although the new rules for travel between the US and Cuba announced on Jan. 16 do not allow for regular tourism, anyone traveling to the island for one of twelve approved reasons (among them education, research, journalism, business, religious activities) may do so on U.S. airlines without applying for a license from the Treasury department. In addition, travelers are no longer restricted in the amount of money they can spend while visiting; they can bring back up to $400 in goods and $100 in alcohol and tobacco, and people with relatives in Cuba can wire them up to $2,000 per quarter, more than double the previous level.

It comes as no surprise that the first phase of diplomatic reform should occur through tourism, as there has long existed an infrastructure in Cuba for tourists separate from that for its citizens. In 1991, Cuba entered a prolonged economic crisis as a result of losing its Eastern European markets. Half of the population at the time was born after 1959, and therefore experienced little of the Revolution that had saved much of the previous generation from the third world poverty that has befallen much of Latin America. The lack of economic opportunity stirred consistent unrest among this large youth population, causing the government to respond with repression while at the same time creating cultural exchanges and tourist attractions as a means of compensating for the loss of economic activity. On any given night in Havana, the only restaurants open late at night were those tailor-made for tourists and Salsa was essentially the only music one could see live. (Che Guevara’s grandson Canek Sanchez, who died on Tuesday, Jan. 20, provides an eloquent description of this state of affairs in Marc Cooper’s article “Roll Over, Che Guevara”).

Juna Drougas overlooks a scenic vista in Havana Photo courtesy X. Tan

Juna Drougas overlooks a scenic vista in Havana
Photo courtesy X. Tan

This cultural-exchange infrastructure allowed for a greater openness that SLC utilized to establish its program in 2001. Much of the program’s extensive arts and social science curriculum has been made possible through partnership’s with the island’s social, as well as educational, institutions - from the Centro de Estudios Demográficos, which specially designed a seminar for SLC students, to the ministry of culture-run Instituto Superior de Artes to the Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños, which provides student housing. Indeed, the Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, founded in 1985 by Gabriel García Márquez, maintains various programs exclusively for U.S. students. Several other colleges -- among them Tulane, Hampshire, Harvard and Lewis & Clark -- have established a presence in Cuba by building on SLC’s foundation. Princeton and the University of Delaware are slated to initiate programs this year. Whether or not a surge of new programs arises from the U.S. and Cuba’s normalized relations, SLC seems to deserve some credit for forging a basis for such programs on the island.

What matters now for future study-abroad students is how the new relations will affect their experience. The Obama administration is already encouraging U.S. telecom and Internet companies to set up a Cuban internet infrastructure. Other policy changes – beyond greater ease of travel – that have already begun include: greater remittances for microbusiness, U.S.-funded projects for entrepreneurial training, and access for U.S. companies to Cuban trade. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already announced his intention to lead a trade mission to the country. The ability to witness these new structures taking shape and their impact on Cuban society makes for a truly exciting prospect for study abroad students, but it may also be disconcerting. After all, one of Cuba’s main draws as an educational destination is the experience of a different societal framework from that of any western country. While these developments may be Cuba’s best chance to end its reliance on tourism and recover from the lost opportunity of the last twenty years, they may also diminish what makes Cuba a special place for international study.

At this point, however, one can only speculate. Negotiations that will map out the practical consequences of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations have only just begun. The only certainty so far is that there will be many more student suitcases packed with bottles of Havana Club flowing into the U.S.

By Sam Harwood ’15
sharwood@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Sarah Lawrence activists attend NYC Millions March, speak on campus climate

Carolyn Martinez-Class ’17, Aminta Dawson ’15, Lina Abushouk ’16, Amina Smith ’16, and other students. Photo by M. Blondet

Carolyn Martinez-Class ’17, Aminta Dawson ’15, Lina Abushouk ’16, Amina Smith ’16, and other students.
Photo by M. Blondet

Before winter break, several Sarah Lawrence students took a break from their busy conference week schedules to march alongside 50,000 New Yorkers angered by the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury verdicts. The “Millions March” was by far the largest of the series of nationwide protests that took place over the past few months. 

Demonstrations began in July, when footage surfaced of the death of African-American Staten Island resident, Eric Garner, at the hands of white NYC police officer, Daniel Pantaleo. Garner's desperate last words, as heard in the footage of the incident, were adopted by protesters as a chant: “I can't breathe.” The video was shared widely through social media. 

Tensions heightened in August when the police shooting of 18-year old African-American, Michael Brown, sparked large protests in Ferguson, Missouri. On Nov. 29,  a grand jury announced that Darren Wilson, the officer implicated in Brown's death, would not be indicted. Less than a week later, a Staten Island grand jury announced Daniel Pantaleo would also not be indicted. 

This tragic series of events has spawned a massive movement demanding justice for Brown and Garner. Rallies and marches, largely organized via Facebook and Twitter, have been occurring consistently and are intensifying throughout the country. Somewhere in the midst of the immense crowd at the Million’s March, a small but lively group of SLC students added their voices to the roaring chants. 

On the day before the Millions March, students gathered at Common Ground to paint banners and hold an informal discussion about race politics. Student organizers worked with the Diversity and Activism Programming Subcommittee (DAPS) to fund and provide transportation for the contingent, securing four vans and several MetroCards for the occasion. 

“The school was really responsive and positive,” commented Maria Snellings ('15), who helped coordinate the joint effort with DAPS. “They said they wanted to be behind this, to support the students, and give them the money to go do this.” Snellings found out about the event through a friend in the city who helped plan the march. Though she was pleased with the administration's support, she sees room for improvement in terms of the broader student body's involvement – “We organized the banner-making session so that we could get a sense of community among the students that were interested by discussing the meaning of the march and our rights...We want the students to ride together, to get to know each other, because a lot of times our campus lacks in that.”

Some students who intended to participate in the march made the commute by their own means. Lilah Dougherty ('17) and Arlen Levy ('17) took an early Metro-North train into the city soon after finding out about the event through an Instagram post. Both expressed a belief that the Brown and Garner cases reflect broader social and political issues. Dougherty said, “The issue goes deeper than just the cops shooting people, its about a racist society.” Levy commented on the Garner case and the social media effort that has helped the movement grow: “This stuff happens every day, its just finally coming to light because there's a platform for it. We couldn't have this kind of mobilization without it.”

Harry Barrick ('17), who rode the van to the Millions March, has strong thoughts on the role of social media in political movements and 'network-based' activism. “Nowadays we're seeing more of a kind of coalition politics, in which people revolve around moments, projects or people. So you'll have a bunch of smaller organizations that work together around certain issues, and social media has helped with that...there's more of a chance to build broader coalitions,” they said. 

Aminta Dawson ('15), also present at the march, expressed some ambivalence when discussing social media-based activism: “In some ways it’s a new platform that the Millennial generation is using to their advantage; but at the same time it does distance people. What I've been seeing a lot on Facebook is that people will post an article or 'black lives matter', but then that's it...There's a lot of distancing and theorizing and not realizing that there's people on this campus that are actually affected by these issues.” 

Common Ground space-manager Imani West ('16) was also skeptical about the effectiveness of new media in coalition building, saying, “I feel these social media platforms are just a way to get the information out there. They don't in any way guarantee commitment (…) In that way I feel its not that beneficial, because there's a detachment.” Dissatisfied with the amount of SLC students who attended the march, she draws a link between social media-based activism and what she sees as a lack of commitment from the student body:  “So many people are afraid of making mistakes and having to own those mistakes. The internet gives you some anonymity, it lets you distance yourself from them. But when you actually have to do that in real life and actually interact with people, you can get your feelings hurt, you can hurt other people. You can't be afraid to be uncomfortable, because as people of color we have to deal with being uncomfortable all the time.” 

Months later, the Black Lives Matter movement persists, though we have yet to see mobilization of the same scale as the Millions March back in December. As the semester drew to a close, the general consensus among the SLC activist community seemed to be a mix of frustration and hopefulness. Dedicated organizers are still planning actions throughout the country, and SLC’s activists are continuing their efforts as well. The cold winter winds will test not only the SLC campus’ commitment to racial justice during a time of crisis, but the entire nation's. 

Maria Snellings offered some final words of encouragement to her fellow students, hoping to see more students contribute to the cause: “Even though I helped and contributed to organizing and making this possible for us to physically be there for the march, its not about 'who did this' and 'who did that.' All the students that participated this saturday– they're all leaders. Because they stepped out of their dorms, because they made the decision for themselves to come out (…) All of us can be leaders.” 

By Martin Blondet ‘16
mblondet@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Operations Workers’ Continuing Struggle to Unionize Discussed At Teach-In

Emily Rogers ‘15 and Kelly Gilbert ‘15 sat in on the panel at the Right to Organize teach-in Courtesy SLC AV Department

Emily Rogers ‘15 and Kelly Gilbert ‘15 sat in on the panel at the Right to Organize teach-in
Courtesy SLC AV Department

The Right to Organize Teach-In brought students, faculty, and staff, even filmmaker Michael Moore, together to discuss the Sarah Lawrence Operations workers’ right to unionize and receive fair wages.

Facilitated by long-time history professor Priscilla Murolo in Reisinger Auditorium, the panel and audience deliberated the administration's refusal to meet directly with the Operations staff and compromise on fair wages and benefits.

Operations worker Patsy Moranu spoke of the administration's reaction to their decision to vote on unionization: “We got threatened that we would get laid off if we went union, they wouldn’t be able to afford us.”

Despite these threats, the twelve Operations workers that maintain the fifty-five buildings that make up SLC’s campus voted in late November, eleven-to-one, in favor of union representation. Despite this vote, however, Sarah Lawrence College has continued to work with Bond, Shoeneck & King, a law firm whose labor division specializes in destroying unions, to represent the college in negotiations with the Operations workers.

Operations staff member Salim Haddad stated the reasons unionization and higher wages are so important for the quality of the workers’ lives. “Every year it becomes increasingly tough to keep up with the demands to live a better lifestyle. We all want to live the American dream, we all want to own our own house, we want to get married, we want to be able to have kids and be able to provide for them.” What seem like obvious rights for hard working individuals become difficult without a supportive employer. Haddad continued, “They will look for every way to try to talk us out of going to the union and to say no to giving us a higher salary. We need the union, they have a bigger voice than we ever will. We know that if we work together we will make things right. We would like a fair agreement that will satisfy everyone.”

How could SLC, a place that prides itself on accepting and appreciating everyone have such a seemingly lack of appreciation for invaluable members of the community?

Moore exemplified how essential the Operations workers are, “When your toilet blows in the dorm, I’m guessing most people don’t go ‘Hey, step aside, I’ll take care of this.’ No, you freak out and pray that you can find one of these guys as soon as possible.” He added that the workers, “are not asking for a lot. They want some really simple things.”

As the conversation continued the students voiced their frustrations at the lack of transparency within the administration. For example, it is still not clear how much the college is paying the law firm and whether those costs would equal what the workers are asking. Further, students felt confusion about who to turn to for help. Murolo brought up the importance of students’ and faculty’s abilities to voice their opinions. “I think that it’s something that I didn’t understand when I was your age and I was in school that I understand now. A lot of the things I was afraid of speaking up for, and thought they will do this or that to me, they’re not going to do that and if they do we will be right behind you.”

“This is sad as a parent of a child who graduated from here,” Moore said, reflecting on his daughter’s experience at SLC. “We were really proud of the values that this school had and we would see students and how they processed things, how they would treat each other. There    were not a lot of places back then that you could go and be yourself.” He asked that, “this administration do the right thing to honor the values of this college and the people who work here.”

“We are committed to providing a safe, functioning environment on a daily basis. We all hope that Sarah Lawrence College will understand our needs to partner with the union,” Haddad said. A thumbs up has become a symbol of this movement, and students can show their support of the Operations workers by giving a thumbs up when they see them on campus.

The committee for Workers Justice, which is Chaired by Kelly Gilbert (’15), meets at 7 p.m. on Sundays in the North Room of the Pub and is gearing up for a long battle. What the organization does not know is whether the college is prepared for that long battle and the publicity that is bound to come from a liberal arts college doing its best to undermine its employees' efforts to unionize. As Senior Class Co-President Emily Rogers ('15) said during the panel, “With enough people I think we can change things, I think we are changing things.”

by MaryKatherine Michiels-Kibler
mmichiels@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Sarah Lawrence Mourns Film Professor Gilberto Perez

Beloved Film Professor Gilberto Perez (1943-2015), died at age 71.  Courtesy Sarah Lawrence College

Beloved Film Professor Gilberto Perez (1943-2015), died at age 71. 
Courtesy Sarah Lawrence College

Gilberto Perez, beloved Sarah Lawrence professor and scholar, whose knowledge of and passion for film was unrivaled, and whose office door was always open to his students, died of a heart attack on January 5, 2015. He was 71 years-old. He is survived by his wife, Diane Stevenson, his brother, Jorge Guillermo, two nephews, Bernardo and Nicolas Guillermo, a niece, Juliana Guillermo, and his students. We called him Gil.

Gil dedicated most of his adult life to teaching and writing about film, and his work in the field was eloquent and illuminative. It was, however, for theoretical physics that he left his home in Havana, Cuba to attend college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While there, he quickly established himself as the resident cinephile on campus. He founded and presided over a film society on campus and he began to write critical film reviews for the campus newspaper. Around this time, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution brought an end to the Batista administration’s authoritative rule of the Cuban government. In part because of the political upheaval and its consequences, and also, of course, because he would be busy at MIT, Princeton, Harvard, the University of Missouri, and finally here with us, it would be decades before Gil returned home. 

Perez was always up for a conversation. Here, he is pictured talking with designer and donnee David Netto ‘92. Courtesy Sarah Lawrence College

Perez was always up for a conversation. Here, he is pictured talking with designer and donnee David Netto ‘92.
Courtesy Sarah Lawrence College

It was not until he had graduated from MIT and had begun to pursue a degree in Princeton’s graduate program in theoretical physics that Gil’s academic career took an unexpected turn. The theoretical physics program into which he was accepted was, in those days, the most prestigious in the country. Yet, as he had at MIT, Gil somehow found the time to further express his passion for the cinema while working towards meeting the rigorous demands of a master’s degree in physics from an Ivy League institution. This caught the attention of Princeton’s then-head of the English Department, and, in 1966, the first year Princeton introduced film history into its curriculum, Gil, the aspiring theoretical physicist, was hired to teach. Nearly twenty years later, still teaching film, Gil found himself here at SLC. “You don’t know what life has in store for you,”  Gil once said to me, beaming from his office in Heimbold. He looked happy to be here. 

Although Gil spent most of his life in the United States, he remained, until his death, a Cuban at heart. The love he had for his country and its culture was profound and never left him. He loved to show Agnes Varda’s great photodocumentary Salut Les Cubains! in class and, when he did, his face would light up at the sound of Benny More’s tenor voice on the soundtrack. In Havana, Gil had been employed from the age of thirteen as a cartoonist for a local newspaper, and he never lost the guileful, subtly mischievous sense of humor that landed him that job. He loved to smoke those narrow Cuban cigarillos, the ones that came in a pack and smelled sticky and sweet. Gil also loved to speak Spanish; when he encountered students who were fluent in the language, he often conducted his conferences with them in his native tongue. I am told that during those sessions, all traces of his stutter, which in English was pronounced, left his voice.

And what a voice it was. Gil did speak with a stutter, but his rich, resonant voice, and what he said with it, was never anything less than captivating. And the stutter was never really a speech impediment, anyway. Rather, it was the verbal manifestation of the careful way he went about articulating himself. Gil was a man who always said exactly what he meant to. 
We have that to thank for Gil’s magnum opus, The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium. Widely considered to be one of the most important texts in film academia ever written, the work is a strikingly lucid, unpretentious testament to its author’s lifelong fascination with movies and their ability to move us. He was also working on a follow-up, entitled The Rhetoric of Film, with which my class with Gil shared its name. For all that he achieved in his remarkable life, Gil was a man who still had much more to give. 

Perez poses for a picture among a group of his admiring students. Courtesy Isabella Pinheiro ‘16

Perez poses for a picture among a group of his admiring students.
Courtesy Isabella Pinheiro ‘16

His untimely and unexpected death has left the Sarah Lawrence community in a state of shock. For those of us who knew Gil, his passing is a tremendous loss. Much will be written about his contributions to film theory and his prodigious intelligence, and rightfully so. He possessed an uncommonly versatile intellect that he used to build as sterling an academic career as there ever was or will be. But to the Sarah Lawrence community, Gil’s irreplaceable value was of an even rarer kind. He was, perhaps, the most cherished of all dons, and in many ways, represented everything a good don should be. He took a genuine interest in each and every one of his students. He set an example simply by showing up and bringing his searching, insatiable curiosity with him every time our class met. He made us all, in his gentle, unfussy way, want to work a little harder, and dream a little bigger. 

Gil was someone whose company I enjoyed immensely. He was someone I wanted to impress. My friends and I used to joke around about inviting Gil out to dinner or to the movies, but we were only half kidding. The night he gave me permission to skip a class to go see a film premiere at the New York Film Festival, and then ended up sitting right behind me, remains one of my most special memories. Just as the lights started to dim, I felt a nudge and turned around to see Gil, looking as at home as I’d ever seen him, directing a warm smile my way.

He was the kind of guy with whom I could imagine discussing not just movies, but more intimate matters of the heart, like what made us happiest, or what it felt like the first time we fell in love. I wish we had. I am sure he would have listened, just as I am sure he would have had stories of his own to share. In the last year of his life, in class, in conversation, or at the cinema, he was as eager as ever to learn, and of course, to teach. For Gil, teaching was less about arriving at the answers and more about searching for the right questions. Blessed with passionate humility and a quiet tenderness, he touched the lives of countless friends, faculty, and students since arriving at Sarah Lawrence in 1983. 

Farewell, Gil. If only we had more time, we’d tell you how much you meant to us. Better yet, we’d show you. “Don’t worry,” I imagine you’d say. “That you can still do.”

by Anthony Verone ’17
acohen1@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

SLCeeds Creates Entrepreneurship Program to Foster Creative Innovation

SLCeeds kick-off event “Dream Big. Make It Happen.” on Oct. 22 with guest speaker Charlie O’Donnell from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Photo by h. Thornhill.

SLCeeds kick-off event “Dream Big. Make It Happen.” on Oct. 22 with guest speaker Charlie O’Donnell from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Photo by h. Thornhill.

 "Liberal arts" and "business" are two terms that are not generally associated with one another. However, liberal arts students are known for their creative, inventive ways of thinking and Sarah Lawrence's relatively new program has found a way to foster this creative path for students looking to step outside the traditional work model and shape their own future.

Thus was born the SLCeeds Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, geared towards students looking to learn how to start ideas from scratch, navigating a start-up economy and networking within the world of entrepreneurs. Officially launched in 2012 as a pilot program by the Office of Career Services, SLCeeds initially attracted 135 students and has since become one of the most popular programs at SLC.

There are three parts to the year-long program. The first part is the Innovator Series. SLCeeds hosts guest lectures and site visits throughout the year with people who have begun their own start-ups in hopes of encouraging students to be fearless in developing their entrepreneurial idea. The second part is the Skills Workshops. Holding three sessions for 90 minutes each, these workshops focus on how to develop skills such as how to build a website or a design an app. The third part is the Spring Break Intensive. Open to 25 students via an application process, and lasting 5 days, this series is meant to get students from an idea to a plan of action. 

The participants also present at the Annual SLCeeds PitchFest. Advertised as SLC's version of the popular ABC show "Shark Tank," a panel of guest judges listen to each student present a 4-minute pitch and, based on a set of criteria, select the winning teams. The teams then get to refine their ideas for FinalPitch! in the spring. This year's prize is an all expenses-paid trip to Kauffman Foundation Startup Weekend, where one can learn how to launch a startup in 54 hours.

At the conclusion of the program, each student receives a certificate of participation. Miriam Bekkouche, SLCeeds's Program Manager, explained, "The goal of following the program is for students to become comfortable participating in public pitch presentations." The events have proven to attract a wide variety of students, from those interesting in pursuing an entrepreneurial career to those just interested in expanding their skill set.

Adam Treitler ('15), who attended the "How to Launch a Kickstarter" event, was impressed by the set-up of the event. “It was…helpful and seemed like a neat series for potential self-starters and aspiring philanthropists," Treitler said. Fellow student Zack Martin ('15), who has attended several of the events SLCeeds has hosted over the past two years, is interested in expanding into the field of business as part of his future career. "I am happy that SLC hosts these events," he said. "[It] allows for the expansion of our Career Services department and the activities surrounding it, whilst boosting morale for future employment fields and opportunities," said Martin.

For more information on dates of events or how to sign up for the Spring Break Intensive, visit my.slc.edu/slceeds

by Mary Kekatos '15
Copy Editor

mkekatos@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Larry Hoffman Discusses the Role of Public Safety Officers in regards to Emergency Procedures

Yonkers police have been working with SLC to keep the campus safe from harassers.  J. McFarland '16.

Yonkers police have been working with SLC to keep the campus safe from harassers. J. McFarland '16.

To keep SLC community members safe, the Yonkers police department  has placed two empty police cars on Kimball road. Some doubt the effectiveness of these cars, saying that they put SLC students in danger by giving them a false sense of security. Students may, in an emergency, look to these cars for help when, in fact, no help is there. 

Sarah Lawrence students are in contact with Public Safety every day. Whether in the back of a shuttle, in the Hill House lobby late at night, or at the scene of a party, the security team is there to both help students out when in trouble and uphold the rules of the school—even if that means delivering a ticket. At a school where students live where they work, Public Safety makes sure that the boundary between personal and professional is never crossed in an unsafe or illegal way. Not all situations, however, are manageable by Public Safety, so local emergency medical responders or law enforcement (depending on the type of situation) must step in.

The line between security’s duty and the police department’s jurisdiction can be blurry at times. “I feel like I would use 911 only if I were in immediate danger or something,” said Betsy Applebaum (’17). “For most other situations, I would call them first, and if security thought a problem was serious enough then I would call 911.” 

Sam Oshins (’17) shared a similar view, saying, “If there is an event on campus in which the student is in immediate and extreme danger, then calling the police is always the correct response.”  

To answer tricky questions of jurisdiction, it is helpful to understand what rights and abilities police officers and emergency medical respondents have that Campus Security does not. “SLC security officers do not have police or peace officer powers,” answered SLC’s Director of Public Safety and Security Larry Hoffman, “They therefore do not possess any ‘arrest or detaining powers’ beyond that of an ordinary citizen.” 

In New York, private security personnel have the right to make a citizen’s arrest. SLC’s security officers share that right: “Once a citizen’s arrest is made, the local police would need to be called as soon as possible,” Hoffman said. 

Some situations can be too dangerous for students or security officers to handle alone. A recent event in the Campbell Sports Center sparked conversation regarding potentially dangerous persons on campus.

Hoffman confirmed that, in the case of an immediate threat to student safety, “Security officers must take action if an individual is an immediate threat/danger to others or themselves. This usually involves calling the authorities via 911. They would keep the individual and others safe until emergency personnel arrive. ” 

The answer to whether students should call Public Safety or 911 for help is both: “In an emergency situation we encourage all members of the college community to call 911 and public safety (914-395-2222). As soon as public safety is notified of an emergency on campus, we will station a patrol vehicle at Kimball Avenue and Glen Washington Road to meet responding emergency personnel in order to bring them directly to the site of the emergency,” Hoffman explained. “In situations in which [security is] not notified, emergency personnel waste precious time looking for the on campus location. In addition, since security personnel have AED’s and medical kits in their vehicles, it is critical that our specially trained officers get to the scene of a medical emergency as soon as possible.” 

Though campus security aims to keep us safe, Wyatt Rocheleau (’16) feels safe for different reasons: “Compared to where I live I definitely feel safer on campus than back home, but I wouldn’t say I feel safer here because of campus security,” he admitted, “more I feel safer because of the intermediate community surrounding our school. Being in Bronxville, I can’t see myself running into anything crazy other than maybe a car driving by on Kimball yelling something at me.”

Though the community surrounding SLC is relatively safe, Public Safety prepares for any emergency situation. Despite any misconceptions that SLC students may have, campus security can do a lot, and, especially in the case of a medical emergency, can be the first responders: “Security officers have saved lives by administering CPR and shocking people back to live,” Hoffman said.

Sophomore class president Bennett Dougherty (‘17) is a big supporter of campus security, and supported this partnership with law enforcement.

“I love campus security,” Dougherty said. “I know that the two empty cop cars have raised concern among certain students, but honestly I think they’re good because they’re speeding traps that make drivers reduce their speed.” In the presence of these security precautions, there has been concern as to whether SLC community members are prepared to handle true emergencies. 

In fact, “Students are trained for emergencies by various means,” Hoffman countered. “They receive both public safety and fire safety training during orientation. Regular fire drills are conducted throughout the year. The college emails students emergency protocols at the beginning of each academic year. RA’s also speak about emergency procedures with their advisees.”

The relationship between campus security and students, either as a whole or individuals, can seem tense at times; however, officers have been encouraged to approach students this year in a more friendly manner. 

Each August, all security officers receive training on Public safety procedures. Though training on smooth interactions with students has always been included in the curriculum, recent student feedback stressing the importance of Security’s approach brought about new changes. Security personnel now use sentences like, “How are you doing today?” before advancing to, “Is that a beer?” 

Potentially antagonistic relationships between Public Safety personnel and students exists, though their goal remains, “to serve and protect the members of the college community in the best way possible.”

by Wade Wallerstein '17 and Julia Schur '15
Editor-in Chief and Managing Editor
wwallerstein@gm.slc.edu and jschur@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Former SLC Professor Makes Mathematical Knitted Crafts

These are samples of Dr. Belcastro's mathematical knitting. Möbius bands, which act as both teaching tools and fashion accessories.  Photo courtesy Dr. Sarah-Marie Belcastro

These are samples of Dr. Belcastro's mathematical knitting. Möbius bands, which act as both teaching tools and fashion accessories. Photo courtesy Dr. Sarah-Marie Belcastro

Former professor of Mathematics, Dr. Sarah-Marie Belcastro, recently had an article selected by the Princeton University Press for their annual series “The Best Writing on Mathematics” for this year. The article, “Adventures in Mathematical Knitting,” was originally published by the bimonthly science and technology magazine, American Scientist. In her article, Dr. Belcastro explains how she has used her knitting techniques to create mathematical surfaces and shapes such as Möbius bands and Klein bottles.

Mathematical objects like Klein bottles can be hard to visualize due to the fact they are four-dimensional objects.

“Conceptually it’s simple, you just have four axes instead of three” said Dr. Belcastro as she was explaining the concept of four-dimensional objects. “Trying to visualize it is another thing entirely.”

Klein bottles and Möbius bands are non-orientable surfaces, meaning that the two sides of the objects “flow into each other,” as Dr. Belcastro put it. “You have to make it so that the objects have neither a front nor back,”she added.

The finished objects make good teaching aids due to their flexibility, and they can be physically manipulated unlike their computer-generated counterparts. Some knitted objects can even be worn as scarves, bracelets, and other types of fashion accessories.

The idea of knitting such complex shapes came to Dr. Belcastro quite naturally while she was in graduate school. She took two things that she was passionate about, knitting and mathematics, and was able to use her craft to bring such shapes into reality.

“I was sitting in a math class and thinking ‘I wish I could feel one of these things,’” said Dr. Belcastro recounting how she first thought of the concept. “I happened to be knitting, and maybe I can knit one and I thought about how to do it.”

Dr. Belcastro admitted in her article that she was not the first person to come up with the idea of using knitting as a tool to make mathematical objects. She cited the earliest example of knitted mathematical surfaces made by Scottish chemistry professor Alexander Crum Brown in her article.

When asked if she was excited about her article being selected for the publication, she admitted that she was not particularly excited about it because in fact this was not the first time her work was selected for “The Best Writing on Mathematics.” Another article she wrote, “Dancing Mathematics and the Mathematics of Dancing,” was featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton publication as well.

Dr. Belcastro collaborated with Dr. Karl Schaffer, a math professor and dance choreographer at De Anza College, on the article, which was published by the magazine, Math Horizons, in February 2011. The article examines the relationship between mathematics and dance by exploring how mathematical principles like symmetry, geometry and topology play a role in dance choreography.

Dr. Belcastro dances and choreographs herself. In fact, almost every year she and Dr. Schaffer meet at the annual mathematics conference, Joint Mathematics Meetings, and discuss putting math in their choreography. They decided to put together a demonstration for the entire conference about the mathematics of dance. They also incorporated demonstrations about how dance can be used to demonstrate mathematical theorems and principles.

“We did so much work to create this, and we had made a script for ourselves and we thought maybe we should turn this into an article,” said Dr. Belcastro.

These days, Dr. Belcastro is still keeping herself busy. She is currently a Research Associate at Smith College, the Director of MathILY (a residential summer program for high school students who excel at math) and an instructor at the Art of Problem Solving school. She does hope to have another opportunity to teach at SLC again if given the chance. 

by Hugh Thornhill '15
Staff Writer and Contributing Layout Editor
hthornhill@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Smoking ban update: policy will be implemented gradually

Reminders have been distributed to remind smokers that the smoking ban will go into effect August of next year. These stickers are on all smoking poles around campus. Photo by Hugh Thornhill '14.

Reminders have been distributed to remind smokers that the smoking ban will go into effect August of next year. These stickers are on all smoking poles around campus. Photo by Hugh Thornhill '14.

It was back in February when President of the College Karen Lawrence sent the student body an email about the College’s decision to go smoke-free. It came as a shock to many, who were expecting a major revision of the current policy but not a complete ban of smoking on campus.

Most students who were around in 2012 remember the Smoke Policy Taskforce who began in April 2012, a ten month-long process consisting of reviewing the current policies and New York State regulations regarding smoking on college campuses, Town Hall Meetings, a survey sent out to the community asking for their input, and reviewed reports from Security and Student Affairs on the problems regarding the current smoking policy on campus. Comprised of administrators, students, and faculty, many of whom were current or former smokers, they hoped to address these concerns.

Many students at the time assumed that the school was possibly going to go with the option of setting up designated smoking areas around campus. By the end of the investigation in February 2013, the taskforce voted on one of two options to recommend to Karen Lawrence and the rest of the school administration: either to create designated smoking areas or ban smoking from the campus completely. The majority voted for the ban, and President Lawrence formally accepted the ban at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

The main reasons for this ban, according to the final recommendation from the taskforce, was to eliminate second-hand smoke and reduce the amount of cigarette butts scattered throughout campus. Director of Health Services and a member of the taskforce, Mary Hartnett, said that although smoking is banned, being in possession of tobacco products and using tobacco products that don’t require smoking, such as chewing tobacco, are not prohibited under the new policy. She did, however, mention that the use of electronic cigarettes (E-cigarettes) are banned under the new policy, stating that there is some evidence that the vapor given off of by E-cigarettes is harmful.

Upon the final decision to go smoke-free, the school began to set up a Smoke Free Policy Implementation Committee to educate and gradually prepare the community for the change, which could be jarring to the community otherwise. Hartnett is heading the committee and has been hard at work since March of this year managing it. The committee has since been divided into four smaller subcommittees, which include Policy Writing, Smoking Cessation, Campus Education, and Communication and Marketing. Each subcommittee has its own responsibility to make the transition to a smoke-free campus as smooth as possible.

One of the ways the Implementation Committee has been educating the campus about the new policy is by hosting focus group meetings for students, faculty and staff. A focus group for the students was held on Oct.15, in which students were given the opportunity to voice their opinions on how to better educate the community. A similar focus group was offered for faculty earlier this month. Besides education, the Policy Writing subcommittee is currently looking into refining the policy so that it is fair to everyone on campus.

“What we’re looking at is a potential graduated fine for first-time, second-time, and third-time offenders,” said Dean of Student Affairs, Paige Crandall. “And this would apply for everyone, including students, faculty, and staff.”

Though the school has been claiming that the new policy will be beneficial for the entire community, there have been students in opposition. One concern brought up by Senior Class President Emily Rogers (’15) was that there was a lack of communication between the taskforce and the student body concerning whether or not a ban was even being seriously considered.

“While I do not believe in some kind of ‘tyranny of the majority’, what I will say is that it is rather disconcerting that it was not communicated to the students that a ban was even in the picture. [I am] saying this as someone who was on Senate the year this was discussed,” Rogers said.

Another concern was whether the policy was too excessive. Many students still believe that the designated smoking areas are a better alternative than an outright ban. “We’re going after an acorn with a sledgehammer,” said Will Duffield (’15) in regards to smoking-related litter being one of the justifications for the ban. “It’s a supremely disproportionate response to ban smoking across campus.”

In addition, there is a concern of how effective the policy will be and whether students will adhere to it. According to the survey sent out to the SLC community by the taskforce, while 40 percent of students who responded said that they would abide by the policy, 49 percent said that they would find a way to use tobacco anyway.

Some students have reacted to the new policy with protest. Several students coordinated a “Smoke-In” on Oct. 13 at the Yoko Ono structure. Organized by students Adriana Lucci (’15) and Catherine Readick (’15), the event was meant to highlight the students’ disapproval of the new policy. On the Smoke-In Facebook event page, it was stated: “Of course smoking is an unhealthy activity. But to ban it all together, completely opposing compromise is not right. I believe that the ban that is going to be passed was not properly shared with the community of Sarah Lawrence.” The organizers added that people who participated did not have to be smokers, and would be very welcome to stand with the protest. Lucci stated that they intend to hold more protests of this nature in the near future.

Though there are a number of students on campus who are still opposed to this new policy, Hartnett emphasized that it was in fact a number of students and the Committee on Student Life who originally brought up the issue. She believes that there are a number of students, particularly those who were not on campus when the task force was conducting its investigation, who are unaware of the history of the decision. “This was driven by students and the Committee of Student Life; this was not just decided by the President,” said Hartnett.

According to Crandall, this issue has come up again and again in the past, but it wasn’t until recently that the school went to such lengths to address the concerns. “Since I’ve been here, which has been since 2010, I was told that there were going to be two things that will come on the agenda every year. And that was the ban on the blood drive and smoking issues,” said Crandall.

There has been some discussion in the Student Senate about the new policy as well. Duffield, a senator, suggested a referendum to find an accurate opinion from the students, faculty, and staff about whether they believe the policy will work.

However, regardless of the opposition, members of the Implementation Committee emphasize that the policy has been decided and is not going to change. They are now focusing on getting feedback on how to best educate the community and ease implementation.

“When Karen sent out the email, my name was on it for people who could work with us on the policy. I have opened up my subcommittee meetings for anyone who wants to join,” said Hartnett. “I am reaching out to the community for their input as we go through the transition to the new policy, so that we may hear everybody’s ideas about education, about implementation, about sanctions, and about compliance.”

by Hugh Thornhill '14
Staff Writer and Contributing Layout Editor
hthornhill@gm.slc.edu

Health services can do more for you than you think

photo by Samuel Yang '18

photo by Samuel Yang '18

Have you utilized all that Health & Wellness Services has to offer? Their vision is to support students in the development of healthy lifestyles and proactive choices that strengthen mind-body health and support our academic pursuits. With a wide range of programs and treatments (most of which are free), Health & Wellness Services is a resource that should not go untapped.

Health & Wellness Services is comprised of on-campus Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Clinical Social Workers, Clinical Psychologists and a Psychiatrist, all of whom are available to provide immediate and short-term care. There is no charge for office visits (Medical or Counseling & Psychological Services) and services are available for all students regardless of the student’s health insurance plan.

Health & Wellness Services also maintains an extensive network of medical and psychological professionals in the Westchester County and Manhattan areas, who are available to meet the needs of students requiring longer-term or more specialized care.

Besides offering treatments for short-term ailments, they also offer a range of counseling options. If you want individual therapy appointments you will be offered a consultation appointment, an intake appointment, and up to six one-on-one sessions free of charge per year.

New Self-Care Coaching sessions are also offered through Counseling & Psychological Services. Self-care coaching sessions are brief 30-minute appointments that allow students to receive support and develop an ongoing relationship with a Health and Wellness provider. The provider aids students in identifying personal strengths as well as effective tools for stress management by attending to the student’s physiological needs, such as sleep, nutrition and exercise (something from which we could all benefit). Appropriate referrals to the Health & Wellness medical treatment team may be made to address these issues.

Health & Wellness Services also offers group counseling. Groups currently running include anxiety management, mindfulness, eating disorder support, process therapy, life skills, and transitions groups.

Medical Services offers support to help students achieve Smoke Free SLC 8/1/15 with Smoking Cessation Groups and Individual Smoking Cessation sessions. They also offer Nicotine Replacement Therapy (Patch and/or Gum) at no charge, when a student is working with a Smoking Cessation Facilitator.

Birth Control prescriptions are provided for hormonal (pills, patches, ring and injectables) and non-hormonal (diaphragms and cervical caps) methods.  Students meet with a Nurse Practitioner to decide which method is best.

Do the long dark winters drag you down? Health & Wellness Services now has a Light Therapy Room and sessions are beneficial in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Full spectrum light therapy mimics the natural sunlight that is less available during the winter months. Otherwise known as phototherapy, full spectrum light therapy is a recognized modality for depression and is also the primary treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

Mindfulness Recordings (http://my.slc.edu/mindfulness) are a series of 12 guided mindfulness meditation recordings on MySLC. Practiced regularly (as little as 10 minutes a day), mindfulness can result in decreased stress and anxiety, increased concentration and awareness, improved sleep, and enhanced performance. They are of varying lengths that can be listened to or downloaded as a study break, to help settle the mind before bed, or any time you can find a moment to recharge.

If you have health questions that you want to ask a professional about, Health & Wellness Services offers Ask A Nurse Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Bates Dining Hall. A member of the Health Services Medical Staff provides information on relevant health topics and is available for questions. This affords students an opportunity to ask questions to a clinician without having to make an appointment. They provide information on nutrition, sleep, responsible self-care, illness prevention, stress management, travel vaccines, smoking cessation, and skin care.

Don’t miss out on free Flu Shots during the month of October. Flu Clinics are offered weekly in the Bates Faculty Dining Room. Each year over 400 flu shots are administered by Medical Services to the SLC community. Flu shots are offered at no charge to students and at $10 for Faculty and Staff.

While many services are free, students can accrue charges for some services. Examples of services that incur a charge to a student’s account include: strep test, pregnancy test, prescription medication dispensed during a visit, Plan B, HIV tests, and vaccines. However, these charges appear on your bill as “Health Services” and the specific nature of the charge is not identified.

Now that you know all that Health & Wellness Services can do for you, here is how to make an appointment. The Online Student Health (OSH) system is the method most widely used by students.  OSH may be accessed through MySLC: my.slc.edu/health (click on the link at the top right), and it allows students to select an appointment type and day and time that best meets their needs. If a student is not able to find a suitable appointment through OSH, they are directed to contact SLC Health & Wellness by phone at 914-395-2350.  If a student calls for an appointment, s/he is either provided with a same day appointment or is triaged by a Health & Wellness clinician over the phone. In response to student feedback, the afternoon block of Walk-in Hours which SLC Health & Wellness once offered has been redesigned.  SLC Health & Wellness Services now blocks Same-Day appointments in all clinicians’ calendars, which become available the evening before.

by Mary-Katherine Michiels-Kibler
Features Editor
mmichiels@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Handicap friendly changes coming to SLC

The handicap friendly courtyard in the Esther Raushenbush library.   Photo by Julia Schur '15

The handicap friendly courtyard in the Esther Raushenbush library. 

Photo by Julia Schur '15

Many buildings at Sarah Lawrence were built before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) passed, and the evidence can be seen in door widths, faculty office locations, and bathroom sink heights.

President Karen Lawrence said, "One of the things about Sarah Lawrence is that we have beautiful old buildings that were never constructed with this in mind, and that makes it hard for us to retrofit every building. We do have a five-year plan to make buildings ADA accessible and that does not depend on donor funding. As a college, we want to do that and we need to do that.”

Until last year, Associate Dean of Studies & Disability Services Polly Waldman had an office on the second floor of Westlands that was not wheelchair accessible. When she got the job in 2006, the position was a new one at SLC. "It was created and I was hired. I had directed disability services at another college," said Waldman.

She now works closely with students of any disability, as early in the school-year as possible. Her office is also now much more accessible. "I set up a confidential file here. It's not part of a student's permanent record. No information gets shared to their faculty without written permission, and so I sit and work with each student individually once they have their classes, and we determine what accommodations they may need, what they're entitled to and what they benefit from, so then we write a letter together," she said.

While many of Sarah Lawrence's buildings remain fairly old, disability awareness has spread significantly throughout campus over the last decade. Around 2005, an SLC student group called Beyond Compliance formed. It was, "dedicated to raising disability consciousness on our campus." Today, a group on campus called Disability Alliance advocates for accessibility and respect for people with disabilities.

Rebecca Gross ('17) is the current head of Disability Alliance. She attended the group last year and eventually the group asked her to coach. "I actually went to a high school that specialized in learning disabilities,” said Ross, “so I've always been a very loud and proud advocate and I'm not ashamed of any disabilities that I have," she said. The group discussions and activities vary from week to week, and helps bring them together.

"We're sort of 50% activism and 50% community, so we want to create events to raise awareness about disability issues and disability rights issues, as well as just creating a comfortable environment where people don't feel like they have anything that they are supposed to hide or they're going to be judged for, which sadly often elsewhere can happen," said Gross.

Disability awareness also plays an important role in our curriculum. Sarah Wilcox, a sociology professor at Sarah Lawrence, has taught a few classes on disability. "Because one of my main areas is medical sociology and questions of health and illness disabilities come up in my classes in a lot of different ways," Wilcox explained.

Wilcox has spoken with many of the members of Disability Alliance, and said she has had a growing connection over the years to disability services and advocacy on campus. "There has been a number of trends that were independent but that have come together in a very synergistic way," she said.

More subtle changes have also shown up on campus over the last few years. For example, at the library underneath the walkway there is a garden, and until recently there was not a paved path; the garden is now wheelchair accessible. There are also two new handicap parking spaces outside the PAC this year.

The renovations around campus are part of a five-year strategic plan to bring SLC up to ADA standards. Kyle Wilkie, Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations and Planning wrote, “Every renovation that the college plans has persons with disabilities in mind. Aside from the less obvious architectural elements, we also consider which materials, furniture, fixtures, and equipment would be best for persons with disabilities.” Many people believe that ADA has a clause stating that something "grandfathered in," meaning something built before ADA existed, does not need to have improvements made. In reality, it has been required for facility executives since Jan. 26, 1992 to begin renovations.

According to Adata.org, the ADA has a provision called Safe Harbor which states that modifications don’t need to be made for a building that complies with 1991 standards. Renovations, however, always need to be brought up to 2010 standards.

Cait Chamberlin (‘16) has a temporarily broken foot. To get to classes, she has to call Public Safety to drive her. She claimed it is not a perfect system, however, since Public Safety is not exclusively for accessibility services. "Sometimes they have to stop an alarm from going off. Often times they'll be transporting me, but they also have their other duties," she said.

As the college continues on its five-year strategic plan, students and prospective students will hopefully see more accessibility and acceptance for any form of diversity on campus.


by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.