Use These Five Apps to Help You Manage Your Time Better

Keep all your thoughts organized by Julia Schur ‘15 

Keep all your thoughts organized by Julia Schur ‘15 

When nerves get wound up and ideas spur left and right, it becomes challenging to remain focused. Students at Sarah Lawrence are always bursting with content; our biggest challenge is to structure our thoughts. As conference month quickly approaches we gathered five applications that can provide your mind with some immediate relief. 

Inkflow

Inkflow is a visual notebook available for free on iTunes. This application is the best tool to mimic the practicality of pen and paper without creating ecological waste. The visual worker will help you brainstorm and outline your ideas without the fear of losing any scraps of paper. This app will give you access to a black ink fountain pen and allow you to create an unlimited amount of “books,” which can range up to 20 pages long. “This app is so practical!” said Ben Sherak (‘16). “I wish there were more tools, but the pen is surprisingly realistic, and the option to resize and shape sections of the drawings is really interesting.” If you like Inkflow, you can purchase its fancier version for $7.99.

Werdsmith

Werdsmith is a free app that allows you to turn ideas into projects. You can use it to synchronize all of your work across all of your devices. You can also use it to share your projects on social media or export them via email to get feedback from your peers. It features a useful word count tool that monitors how much work you have left. Werdsmith will adapt to your rituals as a writer and send you reminders to help you set aside some time each day to sit down and write. The practicality of the app allows you to work remotely. Whether you forgot your computer in your dorm or you are stuck on the MTA, it will help you make the most of your time.

Skitch Evernote

Whether you are working alone or as a team, Skitch Evernote will allow you to share your notes, photos, reminders, lists and chat freely while studying remotely. “After I take notes in class, I scan them into Skitch or Evernote and come conference week, I can pull them up at a whim and highlight the more important parts” said Ethan Moltz (‘15). This free app will help you turn ideas you quickly jotted down in your notes into reality.

RefMe

Creating bibliographies is incredibly time consuming. You have to follow an APA style that you do not quite understand, you end up accidentally wasting time while trying to spell the author’s name correctly and you often forget a random comma in the title of the book you are referencing. RefMe will change your life by creating your bibliography in one click. Download it for free on your smartphone and create a “project” per assignment you have due. Once you have created a project you can decide the citation style you want to use. You get to chose from 12 styles ranging from APA to Harvard for your reference list. Simply grab the book you want to use as a reference and snap a photograph of the barcode on the back of it. The application will automatically create a citation for you. Once you collected all your references you can smoothly send them to yourself via email and copy and paste them onto your essay. “It was so cool!” said Daniel Conant (‘16), “I didn’t think it would work that well.” This application is a game changer, it will save you a ton of time while guaranteeing accuracy.

Self-Control

Nowadays, the Internet is our largest source of distraction. Self-Control is an application that will block certain websites such as Facebook, Twitter or Reddit for a certain period of time (which you can establish). During that time, your browser will act as if it were offline for those particular websites, while allowing you to use Internet for your research. You can label websites on your “whitelist” and “blacklist” depending on whether you deem them problematic or not. Self-Control “was effective until I forgot all about it after winter break,” said Kelly O’Meara (‘17). Try it during conference month and then give it a rest until next December—we guarantee it will significantly improve your ability to focus. This app is free, but only available for Mac. The PC equivalent is a similar app called Freedom.

by Julia Schur ‘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.

SLC Students Work to Promote Sustainability on Campus

AVI has increased the amount of food made in-house, and sourced locally. Photo by M.K. Michiels-Kibler

AVI has increased the amount of food made in-house, and sourced locally. Photo by M.K. Michiels-Kibler

This winter, California has experienced record low snowfalls and extreme drought while Boston had its snowiest season on record. President Obama called climate change, “one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other.” There is no doubt that climate change is one of the biggest problems of our generation but how is Sarah Lawrence doing its part in creating a sustainable future?

With the amount of plastic containers thrown in the trash every day at the Pub, the countless open windows with blaring heaters below and an endowment invested in fossil fuels, there certainly are many areas the college could improve its environmental impact. However, there are also many movements committed to sustainability on campus.

The Environmental Awareness Organization is an entirely student run club started by Melanie Ersapah (’17) and Sophia Manzi (’17) who started the club because they felt  “that Sarah Lawrence is lacking in many areas of sustainability. This is an issue that is important to many people on campus and obviously for the future of our world.” They have organized a number of events this year, and recently organized a recycled fashion show where various outfits made out of used plastic water bottles, recycled paper and anything else found in a recycling bin were modeled. In an effort to use art to bring awareness to the environmental movement other pieces of artwork that relate to recycling and sustainability were also on display.

“Our aim for all our events is to educate and make people aware of the environmental issues facing our planet and what they can do to help,” said Ersapah. “We want these events to be fun but ultimately we want to effect a change in behavior that is more environmentally friendly.” The Environmental Awareness Organization is also working on creating a community garden on campus as well as making composting more widely available. To contact the SLC Environmental Awareness Organization email eao@gm.slc.edu. 

The Sustainability Committee, comprised of students, staff, and faculty, has recently brought back the Bike Share program. Through the support of Student Senate, six new bikes were purchased allowing students to check out bicycles from the library. The committee has also strengthened the toner recycling program on campus helping offices to recycle their toner cartridges and, at the end of the year, they organize the Salvage Drive which donates items students don’t want, diverting items from landfills to second homes with campus members and non-profits. For students who want to get involved in the efforts of the committee or who want to push forward some of their sustainably minded issues they can contact Jason Beck or email Greening@slc.edu.

Understanding that food production and packaging has a large impact on our planet, AVI has also begun to make eco friendly changes. After hosting the first of what will be an annual event, the Farmers’ Market on campus allows for a partnership between local farmers and the campus. 

 “These are local vendors we hope to partner with in the fall to showcase their products at Hill to Go or maybe the other retail units,” said Lydia Becker, resident director of AVI. 

These partnerships will increase the amount of local food that is purchased for the dining locations which is currently at 30 percent. While the school does primarily purchase its produce and packaging from Sysco, a large national food distributor, they purchase from a branch called Sysco Metro New York which does some local purchasing.  AVI has also increased the amount of food they make in-house with the launch of the “SLC Fresher” line of products which includes trail mixes, granola and dehydrated vegetable and fruit chips sold in vending machines and at the Pub.

Currently the options for to-go containers are all plastic, but AVI is looking to increase the amount of paper containers which are all natural and biodegradable for the made to order foods. As for the pre-made foods, “We focus on you seeing the food because we eat with our eyes,” said Becker. “Some things have to be in plastic such as salads because they won’t hold. But I will try to buy the best plastic with recycled materials or a thinner plastic.” As a way to eliminate waste altogether, AVI will change Bates-to-Go so that, instead of receiving a plastic container, for a five dollar deposit, students will receive a reusable container that can be taken out of Bates and then returned for a clean one at a later time.

As for selling plastic water bottles, AVI would be open to no longer selling them once the students stop buying them. As of now, they cannot keep them on the shelves, selling more than 7,000 in one semester at the Pub alone. However, everyone is welcome to fill up their water bottles for free with the fresh filtered water that comes out of the soda fountains in the Pub and at Bates.

“At the end of the day, I would like people to be able to say that Sarah Lawrence is a green school and that we do a lot to achieve sustainability,” said Ersapah. 

Together we can all continue to make the changes necessary to create a campus that does not exploit and damage the earth. As the Governor of Washington state, Jay Inslee said, “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” As a forward thinking liberal arts college, Sarah Lawrence should be a part of that future. 

By Mary Katherine Michiels-Kibler ’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.

Profile: Dina Peone ‘15 heads to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop

Peone spent her time at SLC developing her writing craft. Photo courtesy D. Peone 

Peone spent her time at SLC developing her writing craft. Photo courtesy D. Peone 

Dina Peone is a true Wunderkind of Writing. Not only is she editor and founder of the Cliffhanger., she also publishes poems, stories, and autobiographical works online and in print. Essentially she writes prose at the same pace as others her age post status updates. 

When I first met Dina, I was simply struck by the humbleness that radiated from her. She seems content, maybe because everything in her life appears to be in place right now. She’s set to graduate this spring and come fall will be embarking on her most exciting adventure yet; to the “land of literary dreams,” also known as Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa.

Dina is one of ten selected from over one thousand applicants to attend the prestigious Nonfiction Writing Program. A scholarly haven set in a landscape of corn stalks. When speaking to Dina, you can tell exactly why she was selected. She tells stories with cleverness, with this sense of narrative maturity, at a level that probably even the most accomplished adults will never manage to reach. At the same time,she bursts with youthful curiosity that makes her find excitement in even the simplest of things. Perhaps that´s also the secret to her writing.

She tells me about her childhood. Her parents used to own a karaoke business. In fact, it was through chanting to classics like “Great Balls of Fire” paired with seeing the words light up on a screen, that taught her to read. She took an interest in poetry in third grade, which led her to journaling and carrying a pocket-sized dictionary.  

Her writing, which is mostly autobiographical; tells her own story, whilst simultaneously having the ability to reflect the mindset of any young person in today’s day and age. Contrary to popular belief, writing about a young person or people for that matter is quite difficult. All too often these types of treatises seem bloodless and measured, reduced to some perceived superficiality of the people being portrayed. A lack of decisiveness on the writer’s behalf, who wants to make some kind of commentary without really having anything to say. But not Dina. She is authentic and doesn’t shy away from the dark places that trace through everyone’s mind.

There´s a line in one of the essays on her blog, that pretty much sums up the reason behind the foolhardiness state in which the young live their lives: “Our fear is reduced with all the perks of cinematic surrealism.” In her writing, Dina looks behind the facade and gives an accurate account of life because she sees it with the vulnerability that is directly affixed to it. She herself has one of the most remarkable life stories on this campus. 

She was 16 when, on April 21, 2005, her house caught fire from a candle. As a result, 68 percent of her body was burned to the third degree. She was in a coma for almost three months and had two fingers amputated from her dominant hand. Later, she was “bedridden for about four months,” one of which she was awake. It took her a year to relearn everything from “walking to talking to feeding herself.” Her mother and sister acted as her hands throughout that year. 

Since then she´s had over twenty reconstructive surgeries in which her range of motion has only been very moderately improved. All of this did not keep her from going back to high school one year after her injury. There she was taunted by her classmates. She realized she was “on a very different mental plane than them, having almost died.” Still she pulled through and got her GED in 2007. 

She had more surgeries, made art, and wrote until 2011 when she started her two-year degree at SUNY Ulster. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and received numerous scholarships including the “President´s Award for the Pursuit of Excellence in Academics.” Then, she came to Sarah Lawrence on merit-based scholarships alone. 

“Although I haven’t had the full experience, being a transfer student,” she says,she believes she has made the most of her time at SLC and feels “privileged to have been part of this spirited community.” When she first arrived she “wrote like a lunatic,” but “gradually” her writing moved from “florid to concise, vague to visceral, sloppy to self-conscious.” It was in Mary Morris`classroom that she came to “understand the limits and habits of her process” and where she “found her voice.” 

If she could assign an image to her feelings about SLC it would be an “overflowing chalice.”
About to graduate, she´s ready to harness her strengths, to “take what has overflowed and drink elsewhere.” Since, “Nothing spills!” she jokes. She is grateful to have come here and is almost reluctant to criticize the school that has given her so much. 

When asked if there is anything she would like to change about the writing program, she says she would like to, “add one writing course that is reserved for serious students only... for writers who plan to publish and live, financially or figuratively, off their words.” 

Currently very involved on campus, Dina is the Publication Space Manager, a nonfiction editor of The Sarah Lawrence Review, contributor of feature articles to the Phoenix and a Right-to-Write workshop facilitator for the Mommy Reads program. She will be reading at the Poetry Festival and featured as the Student Profile in the next issue of Sarah Lawrence Magazine. She recently revived the Undergraduate Student Reading Series and is hosting them solo. And as if that wasn’t impressive enough she was also granted the “Allan and Whitney Blake Manings Scholarship for Creative Writing” by SLC last summer.

When I ask about her role models or writers that inspire her she names “Jillian Weise,” author of "The Amputee's Guide to Sex." Dina met her at the Poetry Festival last year and “expressed her appreciation for her work.” 

Dina recounts that Jillian told her that it was important to have role models “She was right, and it’s indispensable,” Dina adds. Above all others, though, Dina is moved by SLC and Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumna Lucy Grealy, author of the memoir, Autobiography of a Face.

Dina will soon be off to the University of Iowa, with a full scholarship, where she will be teaching Rhetoric to undergraduates and finishing her memoir. Dina will go on to do incredible things. She´s certainly not going to be a person that wakes up ten years from now and finds herself in a mundane job that contributes neither to self-enhancement nor to bettering the world around her. No, Dina will have won a Pulitzer prize, she will be working at more than one college and will be living in a beautiful, old house. Somewhere quiet, where she can write uninterrupted. Somewhere near a body of water. 

by Jennifer Sperber ’18
jsperber@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.

Learn How To Treat Yourself Right: Our Guide To Sex Toys

What if I told you that you did not need to go on Tinder or OkCupid for casual sex? That you could have a lot of fun without ever leaving your bed. Sometimes, sex is about figuring out how two different bodies can come together, providing mutual pleasure and exciting new experiences. Other times, a person just needs to get off.

If you are looking for a sexual partner that knows your body, has a lot of experience handling it, and is ready at a moments notice, look no further than straight down, to your left hand, or your right hand, or whatever you normally use. Now, the only problem with being in charge of your own pleasure is that while hands do a great job getting the job done, sometimes we need some variety. That is when you pull out the big guns – the sex toys. Coming in all shapes, sizes, speeds and textures, the arena has changed a lot since the days of the dauntingly sized dildos and the ever-infamous rabbit vibrator.

In the past, buying a vibrator meant wandering into a male-run, seedy sex shop. Now, purchasing your special assistant is as easy as a click of your mouse or an even more enjoyable visit to your closest feminist sex shop. Below are a few specially selected items, for a handful of different scenarios to get your gears going. This guide by no means unlocks all secrets of the sultry world of solo sex, but it can serve as one hell of a jump-start.

Babeland Buzz Vibe  bullet vibrator, $12 via  babeland.com  

Babeland Buzz Vibe bullet vibrator, $12 via babeland.com 

Bullet Vibrators

For those interested in dipping their toes into the sea of sex toys, bullet vibrators are the way to go. Small enough to slip into a pocket or a bedside table, these beauties are perfect for people on the go. As the name implies, this small oval device is the perfect starter toy for those who are not sure yet of what they want. Priced around $12, these beauties are also one of the cheapest options. If you are wondering where to place this vibrating bullet, the answer is anywhere.  Though it is often used for clitoral stimulation, who does not like to add a little vibration to their routine? I can give you a hint: whatever you place this baby against, it will begin to vibrate. This makes it the ideal shared toy for couples as well.

Babeland Orchid G  G-Spot stimulator, $22 via  babeland.com  

Babeland Orchid G G-Spot stimulator, $22 via babeland.com 

G-Spot Toys

Though the prices for sex toys can range widely, the concept for each is the same. Stimulating that special spot inside the vagina dubbed the G-spot can be a tricky bit of business, considering the easiest way to get the job done is through consistent and repetitive pressure. This is where technology steps in—even though your fingers might get tired, these toys will not. Built slightly curved with a large knob at the end, these toys are angled in a way that lets you hit a home run every time.

Babeland Ocean Mini Vibe  quiet vibrator, $70 via babeland.com 

Babeland Ocean Mini Vibe quiet vibrator, $70 via babeland.com 

Quiet Toys

Let us be real for a second: no, this category does not have to do much with parts of your anatomy, but it has a lot to do with being able to masturbate in peace. In our crazy college lives it can often be a race to find that special quiet time to get the deed done, but even when the opportunity arises, the noises from next door can leave one paranoid. Though these toys, such as the ocean mini vibe or the minna ola can be a little pricier, some say it is worth the peace of mind. On that note, I feel the need to put a disclaimer that sex toys can be expensive. That is ok. Even if it means saving up a long time for a decent toy, it is worth it. The reason these toys can be pricy is because when it comes to sticking things inside or around your most sensitive areas, you need to have high quality materials. Trust me, it is worth it.

Babeland Pop Plugs  butt plugs, $15- $20 via  babeland.com  

Babeland Pop Plugs butt plugs, $15- $20 via babeland.com 

Butt toys

When choosing a special toy to add to their collection, people often forget about the back door. Though many consider it taboo, it would be a shame not to try something just because of its location. Though some might assume they are all created equal, whether or not you have a prostate is the real question. Comparable to the female G-spot, the prostate gland is easily accessible with certain angled toys. While the ideal toy for the ladies should be flared at the base, to get the most out of those exterior nerve endings, male anatomy dictates a thin and curved vibrating toy to reach the ever elusive P-spot.

by Ariela Brody ‘16

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.

Yik Yak is Not the New SLC Anon

Watercolor painting by J. Schur 

Watercolor painting by J. Schur 

The latest in a stream of new apps designed for young people has swept the Sarah Lawrence campus: Yik Yak. Explained by many as “sort of like Twitter, but not really,” Yik Yak was designed by developers in Atlanta specifically for college students. Yik Yak users can post anonymously within a certain geographic radius from where they are standing. Other users within that radius can either comment, “upvote” (“like), or “downvote” (dislike) Yik Yak posts or yak comments. On the home feed, users can select to see yaks based on either how recently they are posted or by the number of upvotes that they have received from the community.

Users are incentivized to post content that garners positive engagement from the community via a system of “yakarma” points: for every upvote that you give another post or upvote/comment that you receive on one of your posts, you receive a yakarma point. At big universities where hundreds of yaks fly through the airwaves an hour, yakkers vie for the highest number of yakarma points. Yakkers from around the world can “peek” into other yik yak communities to see what is trending in other places, but may only interact and post in their own respective Yik Yak communities. Yik Yak even sets up themed topic rooms where the best yaks from around the world under that topic are featured.

Yik Yak is fun because it is totally anonymous. Users can post anything from awkward moments to secret crushes to embarrassing confessions all without having to worry about their peer group judging them for it (or at least judging them personally for it). By that same token, the anonymity that app allows for sometimes shifts the conversation in a nastier direction. Users can write whatever they want, and comment whatever they want, just so long as no specific names are used (Yik Yak users are compelled to protect their own anonymity and the anonymity of others); however, leave it up to college students to figure out a way to be as unambiguous as possible while still maintaining anonymity. Some feel that the Yik Yak developers have not integrated filters that are calibrated well enough to truly screen out all of the rule-breaching content that gets posted to the public feed. 

Director of Student Activities Joshua Luce likes to stay up to date on ‘what the kids are up to’ on social media, and he made a Yik Yak months before the app became even as widely used as it is today on the SLC campus. He was concerned about the app’s anonymity, and detrimental effects that could have on the virtual SLC community.

 “Yik Yak can be a fun and entertaining forum, but anytime you open a venue for anonymous comments, there will always be a handful of people who take the conversation to a negative place.  We've seen this with SLC Anon in the past and I am sure we will see it on Yik Yak,” Luce said. “My hope is that students will encourage their peers to communicate on more transparent social media outlets and keep conversations as civil and respectful as possible.”

Where Yik Yak compensates for potential cyber bullying that may occur is in the upvote/downvote system. Any post or comment on the forum that receives a yak score of -5 is immediately removed from the forum. In this way, users can anonymously band together to remove content that is either inappropriate or offensive in some way. Of course, if content is really bad, users also have the option of reporting it. 

Most Sarah Lawrence students see Yik Yak in much the same way that Luce does. Anna Nemetz ’17 said, “I think [Yik Yak] is so silly. It can be super hostile at times but ultimately I see it as all in good fun, unless the people being hostile are actually serious. Which, in that case, it’s dumb.” Chris Kelly (’17) added, “I think [Yik Yak] is both really fun and a little frightening. It’s funny when people are just using it to joke around and find out about stuff on campus, but when people start sharing sexist and racist things then I think it starts to make people feel unsafe. A couple nights ago I saw a yak that read, ‘this app makes me feel really unsafe on campus,’ or something to that effect, and that sucks.” 

Shy Adelman (’18) acknowledged that the anonymity factor makes it harder to filter out negative content, “I think it can be nice because you can write funny things that you can’t put on Facebook and then later tell your friends you wrote it,” she said, “but it also makes me get this urge to talk shit and it’s unhealthy.”

Something that perhaps not all SLC users take into account is that it is not just members of the SLC community that are in on the conversation; due to the 10 mile radius of the app’s geotag, many inhabitants of Yonkers and Bronxville and lumped in with our campuses feed. Posts can sometimes strike a dissonant chord when communities collide.   Where Yik Yak becomes truly interesting is when different communities come together and find common ground anonymously, in digital space. 

Be warned, Yik Yak is not for the faint of heart. It is unrated, and posts regularly contain triggers. Download at your own risk.

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.

SLC students collaborate on James Joyce inspired film riverrun

The poster for riverrun. Visit and like the official Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/RiverRunMovie  

The poster for riverrun. Visit and like the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RiverRunMovie 

Haunting, beautifully shot, and with a brilliant cast, the student film Riverrun has garnered some attention over the past few months in small circles among the Sarah Lawrence community. Currently in the final stages of production, this film is shaping up to be, both in appearance and content, a very thought-provoking drama.

The film’s protagonist, played by Hannah Cohen-Lawlor (‘17), awakens in a purgatory that resembles her hometown, as she has just passed away. Her guide, played by Alex Carroll (‘16), walks her to her final judgment. On the way, they reminisce about significant events from her past life, mostly from young adulthood and growing up in a heavily Catholic home and school. Riverrun explores the roles of faith and religion in today’s society, as well as the highly relatable pressure that arises from needing to meet expectations.

“We decided that we would focus on a certain incident […] and how that incident affected the rest of her life, even into death,” Carroll says. Screenwriter, co-star, and executive producer, he derived inspiration from several literary sources: “Definitely Dante’s Inferno, and most of James Joyce’s works, as the title would suggest, had some influence on the project in the early stages.” 

The title itself is the first word of Joyce’s novel, Finnegan’s Wake, but corresponds to the plot arc in terms of the protagonist’s journey, and the mistakes and small joys that tossed her through life.

Behind the scenes are Amit Sankaran (‘17) and Richie Warke (‘18), who have been working hard to bring this tragic story to life. “I want this film to be very beautiful, and give new filmmakers ideas on how to make a cheap movie look really good,” director Cameron Martinez (‘16) said. 

Sankaran, the gaffer on set, bases his setups on lessons from past photography jobs, both amateur and professional, the lessons learned in Misael Sanchez’s “Working with Light and Shadows” class and various other projects at SLC. He said, “learning the way different lights look and interact in different environments has helped me develop and execute the vision that we, the crew, have put together for this film.”

 Warke brings his two years of DSLR filmmaking to the table, in an effective collaboration with the others. Along with the importance of creating a pretty scene, Sankaran emphasizes the simplicity he required of the light setups, since “[the] script is very performance-driven, and I didn’t want to get in the way of overcomplicated lighting.” Because most of the shoots take place late at night, yet the scenes are set during the day, recreating nonexistent light is a significant challenge, which Amit and Richie have successfully risen to meet. Warke too believes in creating “a look that is both clean and focused. [For example] throughout the short we used maximum aperture […] the subject would be in focus and the background would be blurred. This way the focus would be directed towards the subjects.”

One of the highlights of Riverrun is the deeply moving score written by Jacob Rozmajzl, a freshman at James Madison University studying opera, composition, and the music industry. A sample of his music can be found in the film’s trailer.

Despite the heaviness of the film’s content, on set the vibe is generally lively and positive; it is clear every crewmember not only wants to create a fantastic final product, but also enjoys the company and collaboration with one another. Even when shooting externals on a frigid night, there will still be ample jokes passed around in between takes. “It’s great because you get really close with the rest of your crew,” Cohen-Lawlor says, “You’re always lucky to get a chance to work with your friends.”

With Martinez at the helm of production and a multitalented crew, this is a film worth seeing. “This film asks questions that aren’t really asked in mainstream cinema,” Martinez says, “Hopefully audiences have an emotional reaction and can connect with it.” Cohen-Lawlor agrees the work “was wonderfully written […] I hope anyone who watches it walks away entertained, but also with new insight into the human condition. Not to mention, the actors and crew did some amazing work that deserves to be seen.”

The release date of Riverrun is yet to be determined but until then check out the trailer.

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.

History of these Halls: Westlands

Westlands 1920s-1930s. Photo courtesy of Sarah Lawrence Archives.

Westlands 1920s-1930s. Photo courtesy of Sarah Lawrence Archives.

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   WESTLANDS 1920S-1930S. PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH LAWRENCE ARCHIVES.

WESTLANDS 1920S-1930S. PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH LAWRENCE ARCHIVES.

“To the east the broad waters of Long Island Sound glistened beneath the bright and beautiful morning sun with here and there a snow white sail tripping across the surface of the waters”. This Gatsby-esque description by William Van Duzer Lawrence paints a panorama that the founder of Sarah Lawrence College came across on one of his first ventures to Bronxville. Formerly known as the Prescott property, what is now Sarah Lawrence College was once a farm located in the countryside.

The Lawrence family moved there in 1917, naming the surrounding acreage Lawrence Park West. Today, their house “Westlands” is home to admissions, dorm rooms and administrative offices. William writes that his friend Arthur Wellington mentioned to him, “there is an old farm out in the country in a place called Bronxville near where I live that has to be sold..” Apparently, not much had succeeded in growing there lately, save some wild blackberry bushes with the presence of occasional pigs and cows. Anna Bisland, daughter of William Lawrence wrote in a biographical sketch of her father that he first saw the Prescott property on a walk. He was in the area to meet his sons who were staying in White Plains for the summer and happened upon it by accident. Despite this discrepancy in the accounts—whether he happened upon it on his own, or his friend informed him of it—he saw a great deal of potential in the property.

The early 20th century Bronxville that William Lawrence first experienced was significantly different before it underwent a number of changes, many of which he was involved in. One such change being Lawrence Hospital. The hospital was expedited after its need became increasingly apparent. [His son Dudley Lawrence was rushed on a midnight train to New York City with appendicitis that nearly killed him.] 

William Lawrence gives a brief description of the town: there was blacksmiths shop, a Village Store, and a railway station he thought dated back to the revolutionary war. At this station, William Lawrence writes, “The man in charge, Lancaster Underhill, was an old white-haired gentleman of ninety years or more, who had lived amid these scenes probably all his life”. He also writes that the road leading to the station was sandy, he describes a thoroughfare where “the carriage descended with a bump and came out with a real shock to the occupant”. He notes, “On the Western side of the grade-crossing was only a vast wilderness”. To describe Bronxville in terms of wilderness is indicative of the relative emptiness of the town back then.

Before Bronxville was on their horizons, however, both William and Sarah lived in a number of different locations. William Van Duzer Lawrence was born in Elmira, New York in 1842. He then moved to Monroe, Michigan. It was here in Monroe that he and Sarah Elizabeth Bates met. Anna Bisland writes, “In the little red schoolhouse he first saw her aged 10”. Sarah Lawrence used to make faces at the boys and from then on intrigued William Lawrence. 

After finishing school, William Lawrence attended Kalamazoo College, but paused during the civil war at which time he moved back to be with his mother and younger brother. His older brother and father were in the Michigan regiments at the time. He then taught school for a short time, and was offered a job in a New York business. 

Here he described his early days in the business world: “I did everything, but one of my first orders was that I must see that the cat did not sleep on the senna leaves which were kept loose in an uncovered barrel under the counter”. At the time his salary was low, and he sent a portion of it home to his mother. Then the war ended and days later came President Lincoln’s death. Lincoln’s remains were brought to New York and laid at City Hall. Anna Bisland writes, “My father stood for hours in line for one last look at him who represented the Union. “

Next, his job brought him to Canada. From there he returned to Michigan where he and Sarah Bates were married in 1876. Sarah Elizabeth Bates was born in Monroe, Michigan. She grew up on a farm until her family moved closer to town so that the children could attend school. In a 1965 article for The Villager, Helen Isherwood writes, “Her parents were of puritan and Quaker stock and firmly believed in the importance of education.” Sarah went to a local high school and then a seminary. She was the president of YWCA during their time in Montreal, an organization that assisted women arriving from the countryside during the rural exodus at the end of the 19th century.

Sarah and William Lawrence had five children, the first of whom died in infancy. Their four surviving kids (Louise, Anna, Arthur and Dudley) grew up in Montreal. After living there twenty years and as the children began to mature, Sarah saw the merits of an American education and they left for New York City. In the city Sarah worked to organize the New York Exchange for Women’s Work, an institution whose goal was to “provide a retail outlet for the handiwork of needy consignors”—and she was involved with them for many years. In later years she also became contributor and member of the Bethune-Cookman College Board of Trustees, Florida. She is described as a “conscientious, industrious, progressive and intelligent woman”. She and William moved into Westlands in 1917.

In the time that the Lawrence family lived in the house, the North side was considered to be the front of the building. Come the early days of the college, the white salon with its many tall windows was a space where students could entertain guests, and listen to radio or play the piano. Directly to the left was the space referred to as the piazza, which now houses offices; it too filled the role of a student gathering space, and contained a fountain in the middle of the room surrounded by ferns.

At the east end of the hall were the kitchen and scullery. The servants’ dining room and sitting room were here. The Bronxville historical society notes, “It was rather unusual that the servants’ rooms were on the main floor instead of below stairs. This situation was not due so much to the Lawrences’ sympathy for their servants’ comfort, as it was to the fact that this end of the house sits on impenetrable bedrock”. In the early days of the college this former kitchen area served as the biology lab and today houses Financial Aid.

On the right, just beyond the entrance hall is a room that was once the Lawrences' picture gallery. Today it contains a large round table. Just beyond the picture gallery is the original dining room. Opposite the dining room was what used to be a covered porch overlooking the North lawn. The porch was soon glassed-in however, and became the breakfast room, which would later be utilized as a space for steel book stacks until the library moved to MacCracken in 1930. At this time it is also noted that the old dining room served as a student reading room.

The second floor housed the bedrooms, including the master suite and balcony on the west wing. When the college first began, part of the master suite became the president’s private apartment. The third floor had 23 rooms as the servant’s quarters, which are now student dorms.
Following the idea to create an artists enclave surrounding the acreage around Westlands, William Lawrence had houses with attached studios built. After the first five were finished, the occupants began to arrive, and more houses erected.

Together, Sarah and William lived in Westlands for nearly ten years before she passed away in May of 1926. Anna Bisland described her father’s reaction to the event: “The death of our mother was a great blow to our father. The following year was a very distressing one for him to endure”. He was 85 years old at the time and felt that there was no longer any time to waste in establishing the college. He reserved a corner of the house for his private quarters, and items too personal for the college were removed. In his last will and testament he stipulates, “I am willing and hereby give my home known as Westlands, together with all the buildings thereon, and estate containing ten acres of land more or less, also the household furniture, library and pictures…” upon the condition that, “Westlands be made the nucleus around which other buildings for college purposes shall be erected”. Marion Coats was appointed in 1926 as the first president of Sarah Lawrence College for Women, and efforts towards its opening commenced at full speed.

Lawrence was very pleased and anticipated that everything was in order to receive the first students. At this time cataracts were causing his eyesight to fail and he moved that the operation to have them removed happen as soon as possible. He hoped to see the inauguration and take an active role in college work. However, in early May 1927 he went to the hospital with a severe chill and did not return. He died one year, week and day after his wife. Sarah Lawrence was opened in 1928.

Also in his final will William Lawrence wrote: “In my opinion the finishing school of the older type has failed because it prepared women to live chiefly as ornaments of a man-ruled society”. He sought to create an institution of a “type” separate from that. Part of the progressivist movement of the late 1800s, he believed in the role of the arts to generate equality of the sexes. A flyer announcing the beginning of the college informed that “The Sarah Lawrence College will open October 1st, 1928. Applications for enrollment received after July 1st, 1927”.

by Svea Conrad ‘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.

Navigating the Sticky World of Sugar Dating

SCREENSHOT FROM SEEKINGARRANGEMENT.COM

SCREENSHOT FROM SEEKINGARRANGEMENT.COM

Let’s face it, courtship is rough. In the age of the iPhone and the growing social ineptitude of many of our peers, it is almost impossible to attract a mate without the aid of some form of internet matchmaker. In recent years, apps and websites such as Tinder and OkCupid have gained mass appeal and a great deal of the “internet dating is for losers” stigma has faded away faster than AOL chatrooms. However, lately, there has been a new trend amongst the interweb for people looking to do more than to just narrow their search results by income level in OkCupid, it’s called “sugar dating.”

Sugar dating is a controversial new internet phenomena promoted by websites such as SeekingArrangement.comsugardaddie.com, and mutualarrangements.com. The most popular of the above mentioned is SeekingArrangement.com which bills itself as “the leading Sugar Daddy dating site where over 3 million members fuel mutually beneficial relationships on their terms." These mutually beneficial relationships are generally between that of older wealthy men (the daddies) and young attractive women (the babies). There are options for people of both male and female (sorry no gender neutral option) to sign up as either a daddy or a baby, however heteronormativity and tired gender roles do ensue. Less than one percent of the site’s members are actually sugar mommies. Two thirds of the sites memberships are babies, one third are daddies. The daddy benefits may come in the form of an allowance, the payment of student loans, shoes, expensive dates, cars, or some even claim, mentorship. The baby benefits can be in the form of mere companionship or a more “intimate relationship” i.e. fucking.

Critics of sugar dating bash it as a “socially acceptable” form of prostitution. Many sugar dating sites attempt to squelch this idea as much as possible. As a staunch third-wave feminist and a supporter of sex worker rights in every form, I felt that even if this was merely a form of legalized prostitution, for the sake of journalistic wealth and social curiosity, I would be alright with it.

THE HUNT

I set up a premium membership (which is free for sugar babies, and $49.94/ month for the daddies). I kept my description short and sweet, partially out a desire to keep myself elusive and mysterious, but mostly out of laziness;  “A 21 year old senior at an all girls school seeking excitement and adventure.” Something about being at an “all-girls school,” made me that much sexier, not sure why. Plus, many of my suitors were probably around when this was true. Under the “What I’m Looking For” section I wrote: “New experiences! I don't care about fancy things. I'm also of course looking for someone who is funny and down-to-Earth and can hold a decent conversation.” I’m not swayed by Prada heels, but I will accept four hundred dollar vegan dinners, just saying. Ya girl needs to eat. 

Not soon after I entered my sentence-long description, I was bombarded from messages from interested daddies. I have a feeling it had more to do with the revealing pre-rave sports bra clad photo from when I was 18 and still cute and little to do with my overwhelming intelligence.  

Many of my suitors were not shy about flat out asking for sex in exchange for money. To which I kindly responded that I was not a prostitute and I hoped they drowned themselves in a steaming vat of shit (Nothing against prostitutes. I respect any woman who works hard for her money – however, that was clearly not the angle I was going for). However lots of them just seemed legitimately lonely, pathetic really, looking for companionship in the form of finance. Many of them stressed that we could share an intimate evening “based on mutual attraction.” As if the “allowances” and “shopping trips” had nothing to do with it. One potential sugar momma contacted me, a 45 year-old gym Barbie, newly divorced and stoked on the kinkier side of life. She had a laundry list of demands and proclaimed NOT TO BE FOR THE FAINT AT HEART. Unfortunately, I don’t think I met the very high bar. 

I had a good thing going with one guy who offered me $200 for our initial meet up and $500 if it turned into “a night of romance based on mutual attraction.” I figured the $200 wouldn’t be so bad to go to a bar and laugh at some Wall Street tool’s bad jokes and disposable income. However, he insisted on only taking me out to “high-end strip clubs.” While the thought of being surrounded by a bunch of rich, drunk, horny, white, middle-aged men might be a once in a lifetime experience, I had to pass. 1 a.m. on Wednesday nights is generally past my bedtime. 

I found my match made in Heaven with Rick*, a balding, portly, middle-aged divorcée, whom renovated celebrity’s homes for a living. According to his profile, his net worth was $4 million and he made $500,000 yearly, I could dig it. He didn’t offer me any money for the initial meet-up and legitimately seemed to be on the site to meet someone who was interested in having a meaningful relationship, in which he would cover all the costs coincidentally. Although, I was hoping to make a quick buck with this little social experiment, the deadline was getting closer, and he seemed a lot more sane than any of the other guys on the site whom had treated me like a vending machine, hoping to put in some spare change and get back a blowjob. We shared an interest in travel and Korean food, so I figured the date would at least be tolerable.

THE DATE

I met Rick at the lobby of the Ace Hotel for drinks. The crowd was young and hip- composed more so of young professionals than sugar daddies, but who am I to judge? I was oddly nervous, and the first thing I said to him was “Are you Hillary?” He laughed it off, shook my hand, then offered to get me a drink. At first I said beer, then quickly realized that this would be my first – and perhaps only – opportunity to order a $20 cocktail. 

“I’ll have the fig sour, two of them,” I said, anxious to grasp every low-hanging fruit of sugar dating that I could. 

The conversation was essentially quite dull, and unsurprisingly centered around him. I heard mostly about his young son, his fears of placing him in a “socio-economically diverse” public school and what a bitch his ex-wife was. I asked him how his experiences with sugar dating had gone thus far. He admitted that I was the youngest girl he had ever met on the site and the fact that I had armpit hair fascinated him. Apparently he dug my “naturalist essence,” whatever that means. I took another shot, I figured I would need it and he picked up the tab as expected.

When we moved on to dinner. He was quick to order a bottle of Korean rice wine with a 20% alcohol content. I made it clear that I had a class in the morning and would have to make it back around 11 PM. He accepted this, but showed a bit of disappointment. I requested that we opt for a tofu stew, rather than the typical Korean barbecue fair because I was a vegan- to which he responded, “So…do vegans eat fish?” This is a man who is making a six figure salary. I repeat, a six figure salary. We continued discussing our previous subjects. He told me mostly about his houses, one in LA, one in Malibu, one in the Hamptons. And then went on to say how Chelsea had become too bourgeois and he was hoping to move to Greenpoint, because “it had more soul.” Rich people literally fascinate me. 

Overall, throughout the night I felt that he was far more awkward than predatory and more in search of deeper companionship than simply a young hot girl to be seen with. He challenged a great deal of my preconceptions regarding sugar daddies, and exceeded a few of the others in a lot of areas. At the end of the night, he bid me goodbye, handed me some cash for transit and put me in a cab. I left feeling tipsy from the rice wine, pleased with my courage, and strangely sad for him. I pictured him trotting back to his empty High Line apartment in his Nikes and button down shirt, getting a call from his ex- wife, arguing about his son, taking another shot of whiskey, passing out alone and waking up at 8 a.m. the next day to do it all again. 

DECOMPRESSION

As my previously mentioned sugar momma insinuated, I feel that sugar dating is certainly not for the faint at heart. At the end of the day, trying to please men whom I would quite honestly rather crush under a bulldozer for a chunk of change is not my talent. I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for romance. I like to believe in a world where relationships are built on a shared understanding of one another and a legitimate attempt to feed each other’s souls and become the best possible version of yourself – not on a number in a bank account or shoes, or credit cards, or expensive lingerie. To the strong women out there who are using sites like these either to pay off their loans or to get a new set of boobs: more power to ya! Hopefully one day we can all get what we’re after, whether it’s love, companionship, riches, or a free cocktail that is worth $20. At the end of the day. the world is just as mixed up as it ever was – the internet is just more explicit proof of that. 

By Hillary Bernhardt ‘15

*Name has been changed in order to ensure privacy. 

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.

Career Corner, for advice on life after college: Dana Williams

A talented musician and songwriter who had the leading role in Apple’s holiday 2014 advertising campaign, alumna Dana Williams is the perfect example of someone who followed their passions to a successful career.

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence in 2011, Williams moved back to Los Angeles, a place where she had spent time during her childhood. “I worked in a café for a little while but was also recording my first EP. At the same time I was also writing songs and I had just started playing shows,” she recalled.

Performing was not exactly what Williams pictured she would be doing while she was a student at SLC. She explained, “I concentrated in creative writing mainly in the poetry department, and also music, but I never really performed because I was more interested in being a writer than a performer.”

Ultimately, it was Williams’ sister who acted as the catalyst to start her performing career. “One day my sister said, ‘you have all this music you’re recording, and if you're going to be a musician you're going to have to start performing,’” Williams said. “I was kind of freaked out at first because I am pretty shy and I used to be really shy. My sister was the one who really started booking me shows around LA.”

Once Williams started performing, opportunities were quick to follow. “People would come to my shows and say, ‘why don’t we write a song together’ or ‘why don’t you open a show for me,’” she explained. It was through one of these interactions that Williams landed her role in the Apple commercial. A woman she met knew that Apple was looking for girls who played the guitar; “it was just one of those word of mouth things,” Williams said. That word of mouth interaction led to her auditioning and snagging the role.

Williams’ biggest growth as a musician came from conquering her fear of putting herself out there for the world to critique. One of the main ways she does this is by maintaining an online presence. “I have a lot of friends who are musicians or writers and they think they’re not good enough or their work isn’t ready. That’s kind of what the internet is for. It’s a platform where anyone can put their music out there. As soon as I started doing that, I started getting tons of feedback,” said Williams. “It’s really important to be able to receive constructive criticism […] one of the main ways you can grow as an artist is to put yourself out there, even though it can be scary.”

Because performing was not her aim during college, Williams now regrets not utilizing all of the resources that were available to her: “I never really took advantage of the performing aspect of Sarah Lawrence, like the music program and even the theater program. I think I only performed once in college because I was so shy that I was like, I can’t even be in front of people. But I think for me, confidence is something that comes with time.”

Williams is proof that you can do it, you can get there. Her advice to the aspiring artist at SLC:  “Don’t give up, it’s really important to believe in yourself, especially in the arts. You have to believe in what you're doing. If you believe in yourself then other people will see your potential.”

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.

Trans Students Speak on Identity

When I first came to Sarah Lawrence as a freshman, all the way back in 2009, I was the only trans woman I knew at this school. The members of Transaction, the school's transgender student group, included me and two other people. Petitioning for gender neutral bathrooms seemed like it was a utopian task and reminding my teachers that I preferred to be referred to as “She” or “Her” felt like I was telling them a dirty secret. 

Now, the trans population has at least quadrupled in size. Transaction has about a dozen regular members, and the gender neutral bathrooms can be found at various junctures throughout the school. In the last four  years, Transaction has helped host more than a few annual events, such as Coming Out Stories and Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Harry Barrick ('17), one of the co-chairs of Transaction, came out as non-binary right after  high school, and prefers the term “non-binary” to “genderqueer.”  They told us, “I'm attached to the label 'non-binary', rather than 'genderqueer'. It feels like I'm queer but in a gender way. It just doesn't feel as assertive. At the same time, I don't want to be a negation.” Barrick  highlighted the tendency of the SLC community to be sensitive to those who are outside of gender norms, stating, “Not everyone knew how to use non-normative pronouns, but when they were scared to mess things up, I appreciated it.” 

When asked what might account for the growth of the trans population at SLC, Barrick responded “More young people are exploring their gender identities at a rate that has never been matched in history. Media representation can sometimes help you figure out who you are and how you feel.” When asked about the main problem facing trans people in our society at large, Barrick told us, “The main problem that society has with regards to trans-folks is really just misogyny. Because if you see femininity as inherently weak, any deviation is seen as a threat. If that was let go of, people could be free to explore their gender identity without violence or whiplash […] ending misogyny is how to improve the lives of everyone and, by extension, the lives of trans folks.” 

The most notable change in the trans community is perhaps the great number of non-binary and genderqueer individuals. Miranda Stewart ('18) identifies as “non-binary” as opposed to “genderqueer”. They told us, “A few people have trouble remembering how to use my pronouns, but I don't think it was always intentional. A lot of people haven't mentioned it that much, because I tend not to unless it comes up. But when I have, people haven't been hostile or anything.” But sometimes it isn't easy expressing oneself as it might seem. Stewart also told us, “Sometimes I think it would be easier if professors asked for people's pronouns, so that I wouldn't have to say my pronoun, because sometimes I just can't do that.”

Deane Silsby ('17) is also co-chair of Transaction. He spoke of coming out at SLC, telling us, “I knew that I wasn't cis so it took a while to come out, but I felt I was in a community to do that in.” He too finds that this school can serve as a safer place than most for trans-folks. Silsby noted, “Here, when people mis-pronoun me, they aren't doing it to be malicious. I have that suspicion outside of school.” Exposure to others who are trans, Silsby tells us, was a crucial point in his awareness of his own identity, as well as the larger trans community: “The first trans person I met, I met here. My perspective changed from 'trans people exist' to 'trans people exist in my life'. It made me feel a comfortablity to explore my gender that I didn't have before.” 

When asked how to improve the world trans people live in, Silsby told us, “Educating cis people, because cis people can be very isolated in their own communities from learning about trans people. There is basically no representation in the media; many [cis people] have not met a trans person. They don't have an avenue to learn through.” 

And indeed, being educated can go a long way in setting the trans-friendly scene here at SLC. Jay Pulitano ('15), told us that, when he first came to SLC, students were more savvy than usual. They assumed he identified as male without him having to explain. The first people he met were those on the swim team, in which he competes regularly. Jay told us that they referred to him as “he” right away. Jay also told us, however, that there are times that he doesn't feel comfortable being seen as “just another guy.” He said he feels a certain level of gender-queerness, and questioned too the dichotomy of “women's teams” and “men's teams” in sports. 

And perhaps the female and feminine contingent of the trans community could be bigger too, despite the fact that it has grown rapidly as well. Furthermore, a queer community does not exactly mean a community automatically accepting of trans people. Jaylen Rainnes ('18), told us that the queer community was “explicitly transphobic” where she is from, as opposed to at SLC. When asked if she has faced discrimination for being trans, Rainnes replied, “When I was younger, yes. When I was older, the school started to become more gay-friendly. People would say explicitly transphobic things, but they didn't usually think I was trans, so I didn't have to deal with that.” 

I pointed out how this school is mostly female and yet there are proportionally fewer trans women than trans men. I mentioned how this had always been a difficult pill to swallow for me, I asked Rainnes if she felt the same as a trans woman. She told me, “There are five of us now. And that's a lot...for me. Because I didn't know any trans women, or I did know them but they weren't out as trans.” When asked if she identified as a woman, Rainnes replied, “At least in practice. Personal identity is not something I'm thinking about right now.” 

For others, personal identity proved something that required a lot of research, as well as internal speculation. Having come out as trans just this summer, Nynaeve Sebastien ('18) told us, “I was on Tumblr, researching. Looking at different identities –  like what fits me best. This was a few weeks before I came out. I just intensely researched everything I could.” When asked how the Internet helped her find ways to come out, she said “I hear about older trans women who didn't have the Internet, they didn't have resources and I think that if I didn't have that it would have been almost impossible. I wouldn't have found out my identity the same way; it would have taken much longer. Without those resources it would have been easier for other people to poke holes in my identity.” 

Sebastien chose SLC before she identified as trans, but what she liked about the school may speak to why SLC is more accepting than other campuses when it comes to non-binary and genderqueer individuals. She liked that “ No one student was the same...everyone was very non-conforming...everything about this school was just non-traditional.” Sebastien also told us that although she initially came out as a trans woman, she currently identifies as trans feminine. When asked what advice she would give young trans people, she said, “ Just read. Go on the Internet and read other people's accounts. Expand and try to talk to other trans folks online.” 

By Aviya Eschenazi '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.

Artist Profile: Sarah Lawrence’s Number One Wizard

Sarah Lawrence tends to create ubiquitous characters that stand out in anyone’s experience at the school. Each year these characters change; they even change depending on who you talk to. Next semester, SLC will lose one of these characters at graduation; there are few as well-known or beloved as Thornton Wheatcroft Blease (‘15), referred to by those who know him as Thor. One of the biggest advocates for SLC, Blease has an unadulterated love for the community that has become his family.

Blease posing with his camera as he shoots one of his films.

Blease posing with his camera as he shoots one of his films.

I came to know Blease, as most come to know him, when he attempted to kill me outside of the Pub. Blease has a tendency—which some find endearing and others find insufferable—to “cast spells” on them. An avid “Harry Potter” fan, Blease’s biggest joke is coming up behind people and surprising them with the killing curse, “Avada Kedavra”, or, if you are lucky, the non-fatal “expelliarmus”. One day, as I sat quietly eating my chicken tenders, Blease grabbed my shoulders and shrieked his classic curse at me. While many find this sense of humor loathsome, in fact it is one of the biggest reasons why Blease can be misunderstood by his classmates, I thought it was absolutely hilarious (despite nearly choking on a piece of fried chicken).

“A friend gave me ‘Harry Potter’ when I was 5, to read when I grew up more, but I didn't wait,” Blease explained of his discovery of the series. That spark grew stronger over time, as Blease started going to every midnight book release and movie opening that he could and took a special Harry Potter class offered at Montclair State University in his home state of New Jersey. Unable to choose just one, his favorite installments of the series are “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” “Two words describe my love for ‘Goblet of Fire,’” Blease started: “Hungarian Horntail.”

There are more than just stories of magic and adventure in the “Harry Potter” series—there are also valuable lessons about character and morality. Luna Lovegood, the quirky, moon-eyed mystery of the second half of the series, was an inspiration to Blease: “My favorite character is Luna Lovegood,” Blease said, “because she doesn't let anyone influence her. She lives her life to meet her goals. I found myself identifying with Luna in my own life.”
His passion for the series led him to attend a fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall, where J.K. Rowling did a reading alongside John Irving and Stephen King. Surprisingly, “John Irving, by far, did the best reading of his material,” Blease said. “His voices inspired me to do voices at readings and Open Mics when I read my own work.” After the reading, Blease sent his stories to Rowling, which was pretty brave considering he was only 11 years old at the time. “She actually sent me a letter encouraging me to keep on writing,” Blease continued. Sadly, Blease has since lost that prized piece of correspondence.

Blease grew up in Stewartsville, N.J.—a small town in a rural area of the state close to the Pennsylvania border near Bethlehem where his father owns a small veterinary practice. It followed that Blease began to develop a relationship with animals. When his nose wasn't deeply buried in a “Harry Potter” book, Blease was at the stable. He was only two years old when he started riding horses, and entered his first show when he was two and a half. One of the first things that Blease talks about when he meets new people is his horse, Sequel, which he stables at Elk Brook Farm near his family’s home. Though living on campus, Blease still gets to spend quality time with Sequel because his internship with Lou Reda Productions brings him home on weekends and gives him enough free time to ride.

Thor stands next to his beloved horse, Sequel. 

Thor stands next to his beloved horse, Sequel. 

Here at SLC, Blease is like most SLC students in that his studies have encompassed a cornucopia of topics: creative writing, screenwriting, filmmaking, ancient medieval history, biology, chemistry, psychology, and literature. He loves to write, which is fitting since Blease was named after Thornton Wilder. But, it is Blease’s drawings, not his writing, that he is known for around campus. Keeping it simple with vellum paper and markers, Blease’s ironic comics of dragons and conference week monsters decorate the doors of buildings across campus, providing encouragement to students struggling to get their work done. “I place my drawings wherever I can,” Blease said. “I hope that people like them, but when they got removed from McCracken, I wondered if that was true.” As it turned out, this removal was not malicious: maintenance removed them to clean.

One of Blease’s other biggest passions is filmmaking. He uses a Panasonic AVCCAM AG-150 to make his movies, many of which feature Sequel. He once showed me a hilarious Star Wars parody featuring himself and Sequel, with funny speech bubbles and over-the-top special effects layered to create a comic book effect similar to his drawing style. This makes sense, because Blease told me that most of his cartoons come from characters that he has dreamed up for children’s stories that he is working on. After graduation next semester, Blease wants to pursue an MFA in children’s writing and screenwriting. “I think that to stay fresh in publishing, you have to be as imaginative in promoting the book as the stories that you write are,” Blease mused about the potential children’s books, graphic novels, and fairytale storybooks that he wants to create.

But, Blease is admittedly a bit more nervous about graduating than he is excited—he really loves SLC, and will be sad to leave the community that has embraced his kooky sense of humor. Blease reminisced: “When I visited, I just knew that Sarah Lawrence was honestly my only real college choice. Once on campus, I felt vibrant and alive. I felt that Sarah Lawrence was a place where I could be myself, and thrive. I was 100% correct.”

With just two more conference weeks to go before he is out of here for good, Blease imparted some final advice on the hellish ordeal that all SLC students are subjected to: “to be honest conference does not frighten me. If you start your conference work from the beginning of semester, and work at  it in small bits and bites, conference work is not impossible. If you pick a subject you love, such as ‘Horses in Ancient Albion,’ you can lose yourself in the pleasantries of research and creativity. So the best advice I have is: Don’t procrastinate now, you can procrastinate later. In other words, the only good procrastination is procrastinating procrastination.”

by Wade Wallerstein ‘17
Editor-in-Chief

wwallerstein@gm.slc.edu 

all images courtesy Thornton Blease

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.

Get outdoors before the cold sets in on the best fall hikes near campus

One of Sarah Lawrence's selling points is its proximity to New York City. Students often hop on the train to take advantage of everything the big city has to offer; however, because the school is also right next door to the Catskill Mountains, the Gunks climbing range, as well as numerous state parks, students also have access to a plethora of hikes and other outdoor activities.

Here is a list of hikes to go on before bundling up for a hopefully-not-too-long winter:

Riverside Walk    Photo by Rachel Eager '17

Riverside Walk

Photo by Rachel Eager '17

Riverside Walk in Bronxville is a path that follows the Bronx river— and is within walking distance from SLC! It begins at the end of Parkway Road, next to the Bronx River Parkway. To get there, walk down Kimball Avenue to Palmer Avenue, then turn right as if walking to the train station. When you reach the traffic circle at Parkway Road, turn right (toward Chantilly Patisserie) and walk all the way down the road. It goes for about a quarter mile through a nice neighborhood, but ends rather abruptly where there are "ROAD CLOSED" signs. A paved footpath will be on your left., which will take you under two bridges, through marshland and plenty of tree cover, and eventually deposit you at Scout Field, where there is a sports field and dog park. The exit road at Scout Field will let you out on a branch of Midland Avenue, right across from where you started on Parkway Road.

Bronx River Parkway Park  Photo by Rachel Eager '17

Bronx River Parkway Park

Photo by Rachel Eager '17

Bronx River Parkway Park has beautiful paths with footbridges that go over the Bronx river. You may even catch a glimpse of a waterfall. It is within walking distance from SLC. To get to it walk down Kimball Avenue to Palmer Avenue, and turn right as if you are walking to the train station. When you get to the bridge that goes over the Bronx River Parkway, cross to the left hand side of the street. There is an obviously marked entry to the first part of the park loop. If you were to walk through (heading northeast), you would end up at Pondfield Road West. If you cross the street there, you enter the second piece of the loop, which amounts to about a mile around in total.

Bronx Zoo   Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Bronx Zoo 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Bronx Zoo is a short bus ride away from the Botanical Garden stop on Metro-North. The views are phenomenal in the fall, and admission to the zoo is completely free on Wednesdays! Driving time from SLC: 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the Metro North from either Bronxville or Fleetwood down to the Fordham stop, and then from there take the Bx9 bus to the park: google maps estimate 48 minutes.

Rockefeller State Preserve   Photo by Max Fletcher '16

Rockefeller State Preserve 

Photo by Max Fletcher '16

Rockefeller State Preserve in Pocantico Hills has beautiful large walking trails with rolling hills that pass by lakes, cows and a few spots that look over the Hudson River. Parking here costs six dollars between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., but there is also additional free parking from Bedford road just past the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Driving time from SLC: 20 minutes.

Hook Mountain State Park   photo via NYNJ Trail Conference

Hook Mountain State Park 

photo via NYNJ Trail Conference

Hook Mountain State Park is located on the other side of the Hudson River along the jagged and quarried face of Hook Mountain. The landmark demarcates the separation between the Tappan Zee and Haverstraw Bay. The park has a number of hiking trails, but most notably has bike path that follows the river through "Dutchtown" in Haverstraw and goes all the way to Nyack Beach State Park.  Driving time from SLC: 25 minutes.

Bear Mountain State Park is also on the other side of the Hudson and has many hiking trails that overlook a lake as well as spectacular views of the Hudson River. This park has some fun features, like a merry-go-round that has cute scenes from the park on it and an outdoor ice skating rink that is open from October through March. Driving time from SLC: 40 minutes.

Hudson Highlands State Park   photo via nysparks.com

Hudson Highlands State Park 

photo via nysparks.com

Hudson Highlands State Park is a little bit further, but has beautiful hikes that you won't want to miss. The park's most popular hike is called Breakneck Ride—it's a 5.5 mile and a 1,200 foot climb that was voted one of the top ten day hikes in America by Newsweek. The park is located between the towns Beacon and Cold Spring, a very cute village that worth a wander since you're already in the area. Driving time from SLC: 60 minutes.
 

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.

Registering for classes is a snap with this how-to guide

Heard about interviewing but not really sure how? Here's a how-to guide to interviewing, registering, and re-interviewing for your Fall 2014 classes.

Heard about interviewing but not really sure how? Here's a how-to guide to interviewing, registering, and re-interviewing for your Fall 2014 classes.

If you have accepted your invitation to attend Sarah Lawrence College, chances are you already have an idea of what things are like around here. We do not do anything traditionally here, and our class registration process is no different. As a first-year (or first-semester transfer student), trying to navigate the confusing academic waters of the interviewing system can be challenging. This guide is meant to help you know exactly what to do and how to do it on your quest to get the perfect class schedule this semester.

In order to sign up for a class, Sarah Lawrence requires that you “interview” for it. Don’t be nervous, it is not you who will be interviewed—instead, you get to interview your professor! This is your chance to ask any and all questions that you might have for the semester to clear up any doubts you might have about the class’s workload and course material. Why get stuck in a class that you hate for a whole semester or even a year? The interview process aims to get you into classes that are right for you and, generally, serves this function. While one-on-one interviews with professors might sound a little bit intimidating, most professors are really easy to talk to and will give you all of the information that you need to make an informed decision come registration day.    

In order to sign up for an interview, you must schedule a time slot with the professor of the class that you want to learn more about. Most professors provide a sign-up sheet on the door of their office where you can write your name down for a specific time slot. Other professors, especially professors who are teaching high-volume lecture classes, will hold group interview sessions where anyone can come, listen to a short talk about the class, and ask any questions that they may have. Signing up for interviews is the hardest part of the interview process since it requires that you roam around the school looking for professor offices, which are sometimes quite hard to find.

So, how exactly do you find your professor’s office? Never fear—on move-in day you will be given a full course catalogue as well as a list of all of this year’s professors and their office door numbers. In order to make this process go smoothly, make a list of all of the classes that you are interested in signing up for. As first-years, you will only be able to choose two classes (since your first-year studies course occupies one, year-long course slot), so there’s no way that you will need to go on more than three to seven interviews. If you chose only semester long classes, you will interview a second time in the beginning of the spring semester. Since your first-year-studies course is year long, you will be in the same boat with the number of interviews you will have.             

Once you have your prospective course list written out, cross reference with the list of professors that you will be given and write down their office number next to the class name. Once that’s done, grab a friend, grab a map, and head out on a scavenger hunt for their offices. Reserve some time to do this—it may take you a few hours as offices are spread out far and wide across campus. Do not be afraid to ask faculty members or upper classmen for help if you cannot find something. Sarah Lawrence is a friendly place and people are usually quite helpful.

Make sure that you sign up for time slots that are not too close together, and that you do not double-book interview times. You will want enough time to get from one interview to another. Advice: do not forget about any of your interviews—it makes a bad impression on the professor who have a say in whether you get into the class or not.

So, now that you have your interviews all scheduled and ready, what actually happens during the interview? You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask your potential professors. You can compile a list of general questions that apply to all interviews, and some course-specific questions as well. Professors get grumpy and bored answering the same questions all day long, so try to make your questions as class specific as possible. Here is a list of some general questions that you can build off of:

    How much reading is assigned per week? Per night?

    Are there quizzes or exams in this course?

    Besides conference work, how much writing will there be per week/per night?

    What have students done for their conference work in the past? What will conference

 

work be like this year?

    What books will we read in the course? How many of those texts are required (aka

how many books will I have to buy)?

    How many students will be in the class?

    Will there be any collaborative work or group projects?

    What is your teaching style? How much hands-on work will we be doing?

    How much of the class is discussion based?

With a proper list of questions to ask your interviewed professor, you should be set to get all of the information that you need in order to make an informed decision about choosing classes.

Once your interviews are done, you have to do a little bit of logistical planning before you can actually fill out your registration paperwork. Check the class’s time slots. You must be available at those times to attend class, and no other class may overlap. Often times, you will be barred from taking a class simply because it overlaps with your year-long FYS. Checking class time slots will help you narrow down how many interviews you will have to conduct.

When you have everything sorted and your registration paperwork all filled out with your first, second, and third choices, it is time to register. Registration occurs in the Esther Raushenbush Library, and, basically, you just have to wait in line until it is your turn to register (do not worry, registration is usually pretty quick). After that, it is just a waiting game to see if you have been accepted into the classes that you want. Usually decisions are posted the next day on MySLC. By logging in online using your student ID number and password and clicking the “My Courses” tab, you can see which classes you were accepted into.

Due to small class sizes and high demand for some courses, you might get bumped from a class. While this is definitely a major bummer, it is not the end of the world. You will be able to tell if you got bumped if only one or two courses appear on the “My Courses” page. The last weekend of orientation week is round two interviews. If you are bumped from one or more classes, this is your time to sign up for more interviews based on the list of remaining open classes. Usually, the selection is much much smaller on second-round interviews, but you can generally find something that will interest you. After repeating the interview process, you will be asked to list three options for each open slot in your schedule. While you are asked to list in order of preference, you are not guaranteed your first or second choice.

And there you have it! All of the tools that you will need for a successful interview week. Remember that faculty and upperclassmen are super helpful, so do not be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. Our system can be quite confusing at times, but is easy to latch on to once you get the hang of it. Good luck interviewing this semester, and welcome to Sarah Lawrence.

by Wade Wallerstein '17
Editor-in-Chief
wwallerstein@gm.slc.edu
twitter: b0yratchet
ig: boyratchet

SLC History Professor Priscilla Murolo looks back on long relationship with the college

Murolo with Emma McCumber ('11) at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Protests. Photo by Benjamin Chitty, Murolo's husband

Murolo with Emma McCumber ('11) at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Protests. Photo by Benjamin Chitty, Murolo's husband

Sarah Lawrence College owes Professor Priscilla Murolo exactly four hubcaps. “I wouldn’t park my car on the campus,” Murolo recalled about being a student here in the 1970s. “I parked on the street, and then I found out I could park on campus. The first day I parked on campus my hubcaps were stolen. Here I lived in the Bronx at the time, and it was the SLC parking lot where they were stolen.”

Murolo was 30 years-old when she earned her BA in history from SLC.  After graduating high school in Connecticut, Murolo attended Barnard College, where she was more invested in campus politics than academics, for a year before dropping out. In the ten years before attending SLC to obtain her degree, she lived in the West Bronx, working a series of jobs and engaging in activism. This experience gave her a different sort of education which informed her later academia.

“There are many, many other people from whom I learned during my nine years in the West Bronx:  tenant activists, members of the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee, my co-workers at a series of clerical jobs in Manhattan, people on strike at the phone company, the post office's bulk mail facility near Jersey City, the Harper and Row publishing company, various hospitals, and a host of factories (I visited lots of picket lines),”  said Murolo. “I also learned from neighborhood women who inducted me into networks where everyone looked out for each others' kids, lent each other money, and cleaned your apartment if you were sick or you had a baby or someone in your family died.  Along the way, I became a mother and a wife – that involved a lot of learning too.”.

When Murolo decided to return to college in 1977, there were a lot fewer paths for adult education than there are now. “I wanted to go to a good school,” said Murolo, “I didn’t want to go to just any school.” When Murolo inquired if she could return to Barnard, she was told there would be a gym requirement. At the time, Murolo had two small children – ages 1 and 3, and ran 40 miles a week regularly – but Barnard wouldn’t budge.

“I remembered SLC at that point. I lived in the Bronx, and I lived three or four miles away. I thought it was 50 miles upstate, so I telephoned and asked if they had a program for adult students. They were really the first in the country—typical of SLC—to have a whole Center for Continuing Education. It had originated to bring back SLC students who had left before finishing their degrees, often to become wives and mothers. I was very, very fortunate to find SLC for a number of reasons. It was welcoming to women returning to school,” Muralo said.

Murolo worked extremely hard to earn her degree at SLC. “I did my homework between loads of laundry, trips to the Pathmark, efforts to keep the apartment at least somewhat clean and do some special things with my sons,” Murolo recalled. “One year into this process, my marriage fell apart, and without my husband's income there seemed no possible way that I could stay in school, not at SLC anyway. But Barbara Kaplan, who was then Dean of Studies, came up with a plan. I'd work full time at the student services office, the college would let me take one course for free each term, and I'd pay for the rest with loans and state and federal grants. That's how I spent my last two years as an undergraduate here.”

Murolo worked as the Coordinator of Student Employment and as the Coordinator of College Events. They were both part-time positions at the time and together they gave Murolo full-time hours. The accommodations SLC made for Murolo helped her graduate on schedule, which made it possible for her to win the Danforth Scholarship the last year it was offered. The scholarship provided the means for her to attend Yale for graduate school.

After getting her doctorate in labor history, Murolo briefly taught at the State University of New York, but found it difficult to adapt to a more traditional academic system. When a position at SLC opened that was in her field, Murolo applied and taught as a guest professor for a few years before becoming a part of its regular faculty.

“My whole relationship with SLC is important,” Murolo explained. “My sons went to school here. I’ve been a parent, an alum, an administrator, a professor, I’ve given to the annual fund – I have a lot of different relationships with the college, so I feel affection for it.”

Murolo has taught for 26 years at SLC and is currently the head of the Women’s History program. She has been able to see the college grow, change, and stay the same. The biggest college changes, she says, have been a more diverse faculty and different buildings. The student body has also slowly come to be more diverse and the course offerings have expanded.

“The downside of growth,” said Murolo, “is that we’re so large now that we have many different communities on the campus. People don’t know each other as well as they did when it was 700 or 800 students. We’ve reached the critical mass where we have the filmmaking community, the dance community, the science community, and the students who gravitate to history or literature courses and so on. The different groups ran into each other more often when the place was smaller.”

Murolo is quick to point out that SLC is in many ways still a very strong community. “Years after you graduate, you will meet students and the first question they will ask is ‘who was your don?’” Through the many years Murolo has been with SLC in many different capacities, SLC’s unique system and the opportunities it makes have remained very much the same.

“Something that students often don’t understand,” explained Murolo, “is that the faculty members are generous people, but it is the educational structure of SLC which makes us teach generously. The things that go on in conference and how we know students – this is not because we’re extraordinary individuals. This is an extraordinary school that gives us room to do that. Whatever your desires are, no matter how generous you are, if you have gigantic classes and a few office hours a week, you just don’t develop the same relationships with students. People looking from the outside at the faculty may think we’re the kinds of individuals who would do this anywhere, but it’s the structure and the culture of the institution that make it possible.”

by Sarah McEachern '17
Print Editor
smceachern@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Summer abroad program in Berlin goes beyond the classroom


Berlin exists as the setting for some of the darkest and most tragic historical events of the 20th century. With Berlin as its capital, Germany saw itself as the aggressor of both World Wars. Then, in the aftermath of World War II, the city became the epicenter for the Cold War, with a wall that physically divided the opposing sides and their respective ideologies.

That was the extent of my knowledge of Berlin prior to the Summer Arts in Berlin program, headed by Jacalyn Carley and SLC’s own German language professor, Roland Dollinger. I learned later that the city’s tragic history, while very much apparent and real, actually acted as a catalyst for incredible movements and developments within the arts. What the program manages to uniquely capture is the study and understanding of these artistic movements, and how they are representative of the historical occurrences that brought them into being.

I came to Berlin with only a very vague idea of what I was going to do there and basic knowledge from world history classes, but I walked away with a thorough understanding of modern German history through the lens of the arts. As a plus, I also developed my drawing skills and produced some of my favorite pieces to date.

The program offers three main tracks: arts and architecture, language, and dance. Within these tracks students take part in "morning practice," a time when they get to develop skills in their chosen medium, and attend art history seminars that vary from course to course. There is also a modern German history seminar component that meets twice a week. Jacalyn warned me prior to coming about how tiring the trip was, but since I had chosen the arts and architecture track, and specifically chosen drawing as my art form, I seriously doubted that a drawing class would involve that much physical activity.

I was wrong.

Photo by Nabila Wirakusumah '17

Photo by Nabila Wirakusumah '17

The days were long and busy to the point of exhausting. The classes spanned two to three hours each, and though there were generally only two a day, I spent most of my class time on my feet learning about the city through exploration. Honestly speaking, I am not even the kind of person that finds that sort of thing exciting. The two weeks before getting to Berlin were spent mostly in the bathtub or in bed, streaming old episodes of Parks & Recreation on Netflix. Learning about how much activity we would be doing during orientation made me very, very nervous for the oncoming six weeks, especially when they mentioned that we were going hiking on our “relaxing” excursion weekend. But, and I cannot stress this enough, it was completely worth it.

I mention the long hours and the tiring walks because they are an important component of the program. But, despite my worries during orientation, I kept an open mind and the trip became one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had. As a student in the arts and architecture track, I found my teachers exceptional in all areas. Through them I found equal parts of support and challenge, and, quite frankly, I believe the work I produced there exceeds the quality of the work I produced during my first year at SLC by far. Particularly with Lara Faroqhi, the drawing teacher, there was never a sense of complacency in her teaching. Simply put, she wanted the best I could produce and nothing less. For that I am immensely grateful.

Aside from my own personal experience, the quality of the trip is perhaps best defined by the final weekend. The program is structured so that there are four weeks of classes and a final week with nothing planned, so that the students can focus on a personal project. It is much like conference week, but instead of being stuck in a depressing library, I was running around Berlin looking for ‘inspiration.’

When the last weekend finally arrived and it came time for us to present our classwork and final pieces, the result was nothing short of amazing. The incredible range of pieces, even within the singular tracks themselves, are proof of how rich Berlin is as a resource for the arts. Each painting, sketch, poem, dance piece, and photo series stood strong and unique, though they all represented a facet of the same wonderful city.

The strength of the final presentations is also more evidence to the success of the program. There are many, many different programs in which you can participate in Berlin. Of course, this one gives you the benefit of SLC credits—but it also stands apart from the rest in that it really takes advantage of all Berlin has to offer. As Dollinger put it, “It uses Berlin not just as a cool location, but as the curriculum...We go to so many sites you could experience only in Berlin. No other program offers this unique combination of ‘doing’ art in Berlin and learning about the history at the same time.”

If you have any interest in the arts, I urge you to go. Whatever level you are at, you will walk away with so much more than you came with. And the extra six credits is just an added bonus.

by Nabila Wirakusumah '17
Web Editor
nwirakusumah@gm.slc.edu

 

'A Culture Built Around Smoking': smokers weigh in on the ban

From an article written by Lauren Gray '16 and published in the Phoenix on April 7, 2014:

On February 10, 2014, President Karen Lawrence sent an email to the entire campus community formally announcing the new Smoke-Free Policy that the college is set to begin implementing in August 2015. The decision was the result of a recommendation made by the Smoking Policy Task Force, an Ad-Hoc Committee chaired by Polly Waldman, after a ten-month long examination process that began in April 2012.  

Student publications outside of the Phoenix have touched upon a number of issues with the ban, including an eloquent editorial by Emily Rogers '15 for SLCSpeaks that illuminates its passage through Student Senate and the implications that will have in the governing of Sarah Lawrence. 

The smoking ban is a complicated issue: there's no singular problem or voice that can sum up smokers' experience at Sarah Lawrence. This series of interviews attempts to combine the narratives of Sarah Lawrence's smokers and illuminate the role they plays in our school's culture. Each smoker at Sarah Lawrence has a different reason for why they reach for a cigarette. It's a personal act, often leading to a moment of reflection or starting a conversation. These portraits capture the students as they smoked and reflected on what smoking meant to them. Each student was asked four questions:

  • What would you say your primary reason for smoking is?
  • How has smoking affected the quality of your social life at Sarah Lawrence?
  • What is your opinion of the smoking ban, either in implementation or the way in which it was passed? How will the smoking ban impact your experience at Sarah Lawrence, either as a smoker or as a student/resident?
  • Do you think smoking is a part of Sarah Lawrence culture?

Agatha Monasterios-Ramirez '17

"I enjoy smoking. It’s the same as when I make a cup of coffee — because I feel like it."

"I think it’s not going to work the way the administration hopes it will, but whatever. People are still gonna smoke."

"I really think it’ll have zero effect. Like, that’s the problem. It’s not going to change anything. No one’s going to care. It’s a part of every culture. I think people will still smoke even if they aren’t allowed to. It’s a big part of a lot of people’s lives. A lot of people come here and start smoking, but a lot of people come here and are already smoking. I just feel like the smoking ban is so minuscule in importance to the students. If nobody smoked [because of the ban] there definitely would be a difference, but that’s not gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen anywhere. Sarah Lawrence attracts a certain type of person, and often it’s the type of person who smokes. That can’t be denied."


Nachi Conde-Farley '14

"[Smoking] is a form of self-medicating because I have a lot of anxiety issues. I like the social aspect of it, of course. There’s a little bit of a gift economy involved - you can just go up to someone and ask for a light and have a conversation with them, or ask for a cigarette. And when you bum out to someone that’s an altruistic action. A lot of the time I meet people by sharing a cigarette at the pub or bumming a cigarette to someone outside the library and talking about my conference work. So it’s almost like a little snapshot type conversation I can have with someone: you smoke a cigarette, say hi, check-in, and connect with people. Overridingly, though, [I smoke] because I’m anxious. And I’m addicted at this point."

"I think that [the ban] speaks to the general climate that the administration puts out. They really don’t care for the democratic input of students... I see that the process that they went through to push this through was very undemocratic, despite the grievances of students and the Student Senate, who spoke out against this. This ban is something that could be feasible at UC Irvine, where Karen Lawrence used to be the chancellor* and where most of the students live off-campus. [At UC Irvine] it’s more like once when you go to school, you’re entering a professional space.

"Here, the campus is our home space, and [that means] a ban really won’t work here. There’s also been concerns from a number of community members about smoking indoors, which is another fire hazard and will create even more tension between smokers and non-smokers. Ultimately, if people are stuffed indoors smoking, it’s just going to create conflict."

Staff Note: Karen Lawrence's official title was Dean of the School of Humanities at University of California, Irvine.


Colleen O'Connor '15

"I think [smoking is] a reasonless activity. I don’t really have a solid reason. It’s not like I smoke for any purpose... I just do. Killing time, measuring breaths."

"All of the taglines [the school] sent us are so horrifying. They have this assumption of what 'health' is. 'Health for All' and 'Be Healthy'? You have to be respectful of everyone’s personal habits, smokers included. You can’t force students to change their lifestyles when they come here. That will make even more people uncomfortable."

"It’s part of the culture just because it’s something that people here do. It’s like anywhere. Anywhere you go, people are smoking outside of building. There are so many professors who have bummed cigarettes from me and it’s led to some great conversations. The conversations that I’ve had with Shahnaz Rouse—casual, outside of class conversation—about class are wonderful. [That type of conversation] levels out the difference between professors and students. It brings us together and allows us to casually interact. I had this shitty conference work last year for my film class, and we were all assigned to make videos in outside groups. I was working with one other girl and my professor, Robin Starbuck, and we did all the projections for the Chekhov play that they were putting on in the PAC. We would all go outside and smoke cigarettes and bitch about how shitty it was that we had to do the work. It was something that we all did together and it really unified us."


Naomi Brenman '17

"I made 80 to 90% of my friends during the first few months of school outside Hill House smoking. Period. I think it was just a way to meet people.

“It seemed like there was a 'conversation,' but I didn’t feel like it was actually a conversation. They were like, 'hey guys, what do you think,' but didn’t listen to what anyone said. People are still gonna smoke. If that means that hordes of kids are gonna have to sit on Kimball, because it’s not technically on campus, then they’ll do that. Or people will smoke in their rooms. If [administration is] saying it’s to be healthier, it’s not going to change the mind of anyone who already smokes, because anyone who’s ever smoked cigs knows it’s bad for them. It’s not a myth. I went to the Health Center the other day, and they were like, ‘oh, are you going to quit?’ and I was like, ‘no, now’s not the right time,’ and they were like, ‘well, you know it’s bad…’ and I was like, ‘yes, I’ve been to health class, it’s not a mystery to me.’


Blair Bird '17

"[My primary reason for smoking is] anxiety. It’s my time to relax and take deep breaths. I smoke by myself, it’s not just when I’m with other people. I’m at that point where I get headaches if I don’t smoke."

"I haven’t heard about the ban at all except through emails. If they talked to us about it and why they think this campus will benefit by being a non-smoking campus, what the pros are, then that would be way more helpful than these e-mails saying ‘on this date you won’t be able to smoke anymore.’ And then I think that it’s just irritating. If it was more personal I think the ban would be something that I could get behind and take more seriously. Now, every time I read the emails, I just think woah, that’s not happening. I’m a smoker, I smoke."

"One of the first things that my RA told me when I got here was that the majority of her friends didn’t smoke freshman year, and now they smoke. It’s not even like they smoke occasionally, they smoke heavily. I smoked before I came here, but I know a lot of people who didn’t smoke before they came here but have since gotten in to the habit."


Andrea Rogers '16

"[I smoke to] take the edge off. Honestly, having a moment of peace and quiet during the day.  You can kind of just walk away and take a five minute break from the bustling world."

"[The smoking ban] flew pretty under the radar, especially from people who are not deeply involved in student associations, which I didn’t appreciate. I also really understand where [the administration] is coming from, because most campuses are moving towards being smoke free - similar to parks and public spaces, especially in the state of New York. I think it’s a totally reasonable move. There must be things put in place around campus to address that a good percentage of the student population does in fact smoke — giving everyone tickets if they’re on campus and smoking is not going to be very efficient for security or for students."


Jomana Abdullah '16

"My parents [are the primary reason I smoke]. They’ve been smoking for 13 years, but they smoke hookah, not cigarettes. They smoke about two or three times a day for about an hour and a half. It’s a cultural thing, at least from my dad’s side, so I just got into it like that. I never used to smoke cigarettes before. It’s a pretty annoying habit."

"If you feel awkward with people, you can say ‘let’s smoke a cigarette,’ and if you’re smoking it’s a distraction tool. Que mas—I feel like also if you’re not smoking it’s a judgment here too. It’s kind of sad. I tried quitting."

"I love [the smoking ban]. Oh yeah. I don’t like to see butts on the tulips, you know?"

"I think [smoking] is this kind of grungy, hipster-ish mode of fashion. People feel very much obliged to accommodate that here. It’s a fashionable thing here."


Draye Wilson '14

“I smoke probably because of stress. It’s kind of a ritual. It’s not as much, ‘oh, I feel stressed, I have to smoke now,’ it’s more of a habit. But like, I can’t really articulate a motivation behind it.”

“People talk about it like it’s this very social thing, like it’s a way to meet people and make friends, but like… I don’t really think it is. I quit smoking for like 6 or 7 months, and the quality of my social life didn’t change at all.”

“I think the smoking ban is kinda silly, just because it doesn’t seem to be a majority rule. Conversationally, I haven’t heard anyone push for it. Like, I would like to hear the argument… I have never heard someone articulate the reason why our system now … I don’t really know who’s suffered from how it is now. I really don’t think people are going to follow it. People will still smoke in their rooms, and it’s like… so people aren’t going to smoke outside? People don’t follow the rules in terms of smoking, so I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference.”


Thomas Batuello '17

“At this point, I really really enjoy smoking. It’s something that gives me immense pleasure. I’m definitely addicted, so if I don’t have it, I stress out. Usually I reach for cigarettes for pleasure, sometimes I want one if I’m anxious, or feeling stressed out, but it’s usually just for the enjoyment of smoking.”

“I definitely have met a lot of people, at the beginning [of the year] especially, outside of Hill House smoking cigarettes. A lot of people I became acquainted with by virtue of we were all outside smoking. It doesn’t get any deeper than meeting people though.”

“I can’t imagine the smoking ban working particularly well. It depends on how tightly they enforce it, and how virulent the security guards are.”

“It seems like there’s definitely a higher percentage of smoker than just an average cross section of young people in the United States. I think there’s definitely a smoking culture here, and part of it is the artsy fartsy liberal arts school vibe. There’s definitely a large community of smokers here, but I think if I didn’t smoke it wouldn’t adversely affect my experience here. I haven’t heard of anyone complaining that not being a smoker is hurting their social life in any way.”


Jordan Martin '16

“I started smoking when I was 17, the summer before my senior year of high school. It was because a friend of mine had started kind of smoking, so I started doing it as well and picked it up. Honestly, in a sad sense, there was like a weird depression, or some sadness that I was going through, and smoking was kind of a way to relieve stress and fill a certain void. And when I started buying my own packs, which at the time I did think was so cool, I was like ‘oh, this is so different, my parents don’t smoke, no one supports this…’ completely trying to rebel and do something that was so uncharacteristic of me, because I don’t think anybody was expecting me to start smoking. I didn’t ever think of it until I started hanging out with a certain friend.”

“There’s such a culture built around smoking, and it’s become such a social thing. I think that there are probably more social smokers here than there are people that are actually truly addicted to cigarettes and will just have them on their own. I’m one of those people, I’ll just go out and have one by myself, I don’t need to be talking to people to go out and have a smoke or whatever. It definitely is such an aspect to the school, people love their cigarettes and have conversations, and that’s a way to approach people. People literally strike up conversations, and it starts with something as simple as like, ‘can I borrow a lighter?’ and that’s how people meet. It’s such a part of the culture here.”

“The smoking ban does make sense, as much as they’re trying to cut back on smoking on this campus and the policy that they’ve had in effect so far has not been working. So I understand that it’s something that affects the entire school, and secondhand smoke causes a lot of issues, obviously. This campus is enveloped in a cloud of smoke constantly, so it’s affecting people that don’t smoke, and don’t want to be around that. I think it’s fair to those people that they shouldn’t have to constantly be walking around clouds of smoke, inhaling it, breathing it, smelling it, and so I’m not fully against [the ban]. It’s going to be a hassle and it’s going to be annoying for me, but I think one of the biggest issues is that people are going to start smoking more inside their rooms. And that’s going to cause a lot of issues as far as having to enforce that rule and to focus more on getting people outside of the campus to smoke. That’s going to be a really huge deal. And speaking as an RA this year, I know a lot of responsibility is going to fall on them. I know a lot of RAs are probably going to have a difficult time with that, dealing with having their advisees smoking inside. But I think that [the ban] makes a lot of sense and it is fair to people who don’t want to be around that, because [secondhand smoke is] something that we shouldn’t be forcing upon our students.”

“Smoking does bring people together, in that you see a group of people smoking a cigarette and go up and strike up a conversation. And people – not necessarily form bonds over it – but there is like, you know, ‘oh, do you want to go out and have a cigarette with me?’ or whatever, and that’s how people interact. And on weekends, running into people on nights out, seeing people you just want to have a cigarette with them, you just want to have a conversation with them, it often happens while you’re sharing a cigarette, or both of you are smoking at the same time. I think it is something that is really so ingrained in the culture here at school."


Alia Shinbrough '14

Alia Shinbrough '14

"I’m addicted."

"I’ve met a lot of people either through bumming cigarettes or bumming them cigarettes. And I’ve had a lot of conversations over cigarettes that have really helped me in my life here.  I’ve made friends who have helped me in my time here through those conversations."

"I think it was a little skeevy that [the administration] passed [the smoking ban] without getting too much student input, but I understand the reasons why they did that. If they had gotten student input I think that the ban would not have passed."

"We have a lot of students here who smoke and I mean that is pretty much a part of the culture. It’s part of the library culture. It’s part of the pub culture. It’s what starts people talking to each other. We’re an awkward bunch of people and without that substitute I think there might be a problem with people getting to know each other."
 

Written and photographed by Ellie Brumbaum '17
ebrumbaum@gm.slc.edu


Students voice thoughts on security

Photo by Ellie Brumbaum '17

Photo by Ellie Brumbaum '17

Security at Sarah Lawrence has always been a topic of debate among SLC students. Sometimes they will break up parties and sometimes they will turn a blind eye. Sometimes the shuttle will come and sometimes it does not show up. When asked for their thoughts on security, student responses also fell on these extremes. Security is neither friend nor foe here at SLC.

Jeremy Lipsin ’15, reported that he had some friendly encounters with Security Guards on campus. As someone who works in Admissions, he has had friendly exchanges with Security. “I work the front desk sometimes as a tour guide,” Lipsin clarified. “Just today the security guard next to me and I had a bonding moment in which we both shared a bag of chips.”

Lipsin also spoke of a time when Security came to address a noise complaint at an apartment in Hill House, where he and his friends were having a karaoke party. “Apparently, one of the neighbors complained and sent security over to shut us up. After he passed on the message, he walked away with a ‘Nice singing, though!’”

 Lipsin concluded with this final thought: “Security can either be ridiculously strict or completely chill. It really depends on who they are or the time of day; not who you are or whatever you might be up to.”

Other students, however, have not had the same set of positive experiences as Lipsin has. One female student I spoke with, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that a driver for the van into Bronxville sexually harassed her. “Last semester I honestly did not feel very safe on campus, especially after the incident with that shuttle driver. He didn't seem to understand boundaries, and what it means when someone says, ‘no thank you.’”

She had taken him up on an offer he has with SLC students where he drives them to the airport, an experience that has made her feel even more unsafe. “It felt weird having to give him my phone number, too. The fact that this guy not only drove the Bronxville shuttle, which I take often, but also had my phone number and could get access into my dorm made me feel uneasy ever since that incident.” The student did not go into detail about the nature of the incident, but she was visibly shaken and uneasy while talking about it.

The anonymous student had other grievances, though, saying, “He is not the only one I am disappointed with though. I have seen a few security guards or maintenance workers (not sure which ones they were) steal food from the pub […] I have also had many negative experiences when being picked up in Bronxville. Too many times have I waited for the shuttle and it doesn't arrive at all, even after calling Westlands.”

She explained that she carries the schedule with her, and knows the times when the shuttle should arrive. “I know when the shuttle should be arriving, yet, a lot of times it never arrives at all. I don't feel like I can rely on them anymore.” Sometimes, she has had to resort to paying for a cab back to campus out of frustration. “Other students who have waited with me feel the same frustration as I do and we were very upset.” She ended our conversation with the question, “Why should I have to pay for a cab when I am given the right by the school to take a shuttle that is free and SHOULD be reliable [sic]?”

To get further clarification regarding Security at Sarah Lawrence, Larry Hoffman- the Head of Security, answered a few questions regarding security on campus.

How does one become a security guard here?

First of all, all candidates interested in a position as SLC Security officer must be certified by NYS.  Then they go through a rigorous selection process here which usually includes a minimum of three interviews.  A complete background check is done on each officer.  During the interview process, candidates are questioned as to how they would react in specific situations.  We often use role-playing to see how they would react in stressful situations.  Once a new officer is hired, they are assigned to be with a supervisor or an experienced officer for several weeks before they can patrol on their own.

Do security guards have a handbook or set guidelines to follow?

Security officers have standard operating procedures they must follow.  They also receive 40 hours of training each summer.  Some of the training includes the following: emergency planning, first Aid, CPR, automatic external defibrillators, college rules, regulations, security procedures, report writing, accident investigations, fire safety, crime prevention, NYS Laws, domestic violence, sexual assault, and customer service.

How do you respond to allegations made against security guards? Is there a formal procedure in place should a student file a complaint?

Students would come to Operations to file an official complaint.  Each and every complaint is thoroughly investigated.  Disciplinary action up to and including termination can occur if the complaint is found to be valid.

How do you think the students feel about security on this campus?

I think most of our students feel safe with the professional and customer service oriented jobs that our officers perform at the college.  Students also feel comfortable in coming to them when they need assistance.  It is my belief that when officers have to take enforcement actions like giving out tickets to students, our students realize they are just doing their jobs and do not take it personally.

Security here at SLC is just like any other function of the administration: it is complicated and many students have varied opinions on Security as a whole. Some students are friends with the guards – and have great experiences with them – while others have had worrisome interactions with the guards that prove that maybe it is more than students’ “taking it personally,” as Hoffman states. 

by Rachel Molland '15
rmolland@gm.slc.edu

Department of Education representatives visit campus to hear concerns over sexual assault

Graphic by Lexie Brown '17

Graphic by Lexie Brown '17

TRIGGER WARNING: This article mentions sexual assault and rape

At 2 PM on April 2, about 15 students attended a meeting with representatives of the Department of Education. The two representatives, John Collins and Anna Moretto Cramer came to Sarah Lawrence to investigate the college’s adherence to Title IX, a clause in the Education Amendment of 1972 that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions.

The representatives plan on having another open meeting at SLC, most likely during the week of April 28. They are considering holding two meetings in the afternoon and evening.

The students present explained their personal perceptions and experiences of Sarah Lawrence’s response to sexual assault. Topics such as Sarah Lawrence’s lack of transparency about procedures that followed a report of sexual assault, the failure of administrators to provide complainants’ with options, security’s poor or slow response to reports and administrators’ negative attitudes and reactions to criticism were discussed.

During the meeting, students also talked about the various ways in which the school had tried to address students concerns such as Karen Lawrence’s announcement to the student body, the optional consent workshop held earlier this semester, and the flyers with phone numbers to call in case of sexual assault which were put up a few days before the DOE arrived.

Collins and Moretto Cramer were particularly interested in the efforts of many members of the student body to push for reform of the sexual assault policy this past fall semester. The representatives took a hard copy of the Demand and Grievances that was compiled when students coalesced for reform and were also sent an electronic copy.

There was also a discussion about Sarah Lawrence’s efforts to notify students about this meeting. Many felt that the administration had failed to adequately inform their students. At the time, many of the students claimed that they had not received a notification from the administration. And while a universal email was sent by Julie Auster on March 18, the email did not detail the reason for the Department of Education’s visit and simply said, “see attached” with the flyer from the representatives.

Among the students there was a sense of frustration with the administration, but also relief that Collins and Moretto Cramer were willing to listen and be receptive of student’s personal experiences with Sarah Lawrence’s response to sexual assault.

The meeting lasted over an hour. While most of the student’s had to leave, the discussion with Collins and Moretto Cramer was able to continue. They were unable to tell who had reported Sarah Lawrence to the DOE, but explained that while most of their investigation would be based off school records, they considered the student body’s experiences to be relevant. Out of concern, it was suggested they look at the records with a critical eye since from past discussions with administrators the numbers seem to be inconsistent with the student body’s experiences. Collins assured me, “every answer creates more questions.” They explained that no matter what the outcome of their investigation that they would continue to track Sarah Lawrence’s compliance with Title IX for several years. Moretto Cramer and Collins said that they were relieved to see a better turn-out at the second meeting, because after the first meeting they were concerned that they were not going to reach many students.

Since Collins and Moretto Cramer had planned to hold individual meetings with students, Izzy Waxman ’14 and myself followed them to the Slonim Library, where the various sections of the document were looked over and any confusion about wording was clarified. No other student came, so we were able to talk with the represenatives for over an hour. During the meeting we explained the circumstances revolving around the writing of the Demand and Grievances stating that over 200 students received and were given the option to give feedback on the document. The organized student March in response to a string of emails about sexual assaults and the meetings students had held afterwards were brought up. Waxman told the representatives that many students were under the impression that the administration did not take these concerns seriously.

By the end of the meeting, Moretto Cramer and Collins took contact information. They requested that as many students as possible could be sent any information whether critical or supportive of Sarah Lawrence’s handling of sexual assault. Specifically they are interested in student’s personal experiences. They state that if any student would like to contact them, the student does not have to provide concrete evidence of their experiences and that all personal information will be removed from the information that they take into consideration. This information was sent to the list of emails that were collected during last semester’s student coalition.

If you would like to contact the Department of Education with your experiences, please consider emailing John Collins at john.collins@ed.gov and Anna Moretto Cramer at anna.moretto.cramer@ed.gov.

If you are concerned about your personal information being attached, consider emailing me at icusack@gm.slc.edu and I will be sure to remove personal information before forwarding it to them.

The representatives of the DOE will notify me when they plan on holding another meeting and I will make an effort to let as many students know about it as possible. Please email me if you would like to be notified. 

by India Cusack '14

icusack@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.

The Newer Normal: graduate student Erin Hagen reflects on the 16th annual Women's History Conference

On March 1st, the Women’s History Graduate Program held its 16th annual conference, The Newer Normal: Global Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality featuring award-winning performer and transgender activist, Scott Turner Schofield, as the keynote speaker. The conference was co-sponsored by The All Out Art’s Fresh Fruit Festival and the Diversity and Action Programming Sub Committee. 

The objective of this conference, as stated in the program, was to explore multiple aspects of gender identity and gender expression globally. The conference organizers assembled workshops, scholarships, and artistic expressions that examined the many ways perceptions of gender and sexuality have shifted throughout history, as well as how this is reflected in media, language, and state law. About half of the conference presenters were Sarah Lawrence students, including two Women’s History students who presented their thesis work: Emilie Egger and Toni-Anne Stewart.       

A feeling shared by many conference attendees was that The Newer Normal opened up a different kind of dialogue than the typical conference. Some students from other Universities commented on its openness and flexibility. One individual admitted that their institution would not have willingly facilitated the discussions that they participated in. It was this open dialogue, coupled with the high-level of intellectual scholarship presented, which were able to meet the goals of this conference. 

In many ways The Newer Normal conference was a live example of how challenging combining activism and academia can be. Schofield began his keynote by addressing a statement made online by trans*action, which called for the Women’s History program to have trans* women represented at the conference. He was able to give space to the conference organizers, students, and audience members, by facilitating a conversation on the responsibility of conference organizing as well as intentional activism.

During this important and tense discussion, one student’s moment of clarity was expressed with this comment: “This is not an either/or situation, this is a both/and situation.” This thoughtful and important addition to the conversation made it clear to all that a more inclusive approach would be necessary to properly examine the issues at hand .

After the conference, one of my fellow women’s history students shared a blog post by Ngọc Loan Trần that advocates for “calling each other in” as a way to simultaneously express our frustrations while confirming our positions as activists. This concept does not exist in opposition to calling each other out (which is sometimes very necessary), and is not meant to discount the deep anger and hurt that many activists feel when let down by other members of that activist community. Instead, it helps guard us against adopting a politic of disposability. It is our job to educate each other and hold each other accountable, but in a way that is grounded in patience and compassion. The reason for this being (and I say this with complete confidence) that we will all, at some point in our activism, fail spectacularly. I for one have done so many times.

At the same time, thoughtful critiques of the Women’s History Program are always welcome. Everyone involved in the program at SLC has the desire to continue to be better activists and scholars. Although there was an effort made at the conference, there can always be more done to address the underrepresentation of trans* women both in academia and as presenters at our conference.

For myself and many others at Sarah Lawrence, the challenge to unite our activism and academic endeavors will be a lifelong process. Having tough conversations in which we call on each other to do more than just claim activist roles and be more than just our academic inquiries is just as important as presenting our well-researched, well-prepared work.

The participatory nature of Schofield’s presentation carried throughout the day, and seemed to affect the liveliness of the panel discussions. While moderating the Gender Identity and the State Panel, I found that, not only were the presenters articulate and well-prepared, but their projects were deeply personal. The packed room held onto every word, was very vocal during the Q and A where they could ask panelists questions. Many attendees commented that other panels and roundtable discussions at the conference had similar energy.

My hope is that we all remember this experience and maintain this energy as we continue to have more open discussions and look forward to The Women’s History Conference next Spring. 

by Erin Hagen 
ehagen@gm.slc.edu

Erin Hagen is a first-year graduate student in the Women's History program. If you have any questions or want to get involved with next year's conference, you can learn more here.

ICYMI: Karen Lawrence announces this year's commencement speaker

On January 27th, President Karen Lawrence announced that Dr. Fareed Zakaria will be the 2014 commencement speaker. Dr. Zakaria is connected to Sarah Lawrence through his wife, Paula Throckmorton Zakaria, who graduated from the 2010 Writing MFA graduate program. Dr. Zakaria will join the impressive and lengthy list of Sarah Lawrence commencement speakers, which includes the likes of Robert Frost, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frank Lloyd Wright, Toni Morrison, Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Rahm Emanuel, Julianna Margulies, and Vera Wang.

Dr. Zakaria was born in India on January 20, 1964. He received his B.A. from Yale College and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has received honorary degrees from Brown, the University of Miami, and Oberlin College.

Fareed Zakaria is currently the host of CNN’s flagship international affairs program, Fareed Zakaria GPS, a New York Times bestselling author, Editor at Large of TIME Magazine, and a Washington Post columnist. Within its first year, GPS garnered an Emmy nomination for an interview with Premier Wen Jaibao. Dr. Zakaria has interviewed countless influential figures, including the Dalai Lama, President Obama, Moammar Gadhafi, and Lula de Silva. At twenty-eight, Dr. Zakaria was appointed the managing editor of Foreign Affairs, a position he retained for eight years until he joined Newsweek in October 2000.

Numerous articles have been written about Dr. Zakaria’s influence on foreign policy since he wrote his famous essay “Why They Hate Us” in 2001 following 9/11. Marion Maneker of New York Magazine described him in her 2012 article “Man of the World” as being “a conservative who is willing to question one of the most cherished principles of the West—democracy—but also a naturalized citizen who believes in America’s world-historical mission.” In 1999, Esquire magazine named Zakaria as “one of the 21 most important people of the 21st Century.”

In 2012, Dr. Zakaria was briefly suspended from his positions as TIME editor, CNN host, and Washington post columnist after a plagiarism scandal. He allegedly lifted a passage from The New Yorker and put it into his own column in TIME. Although there have been similar instances in his other writings, Zakaria’s employers identified the incident as being an isolated one and after a week of suspension, he was allowed to work again. Zakaria’s explanation for the alleged plagiarism was that he got his notes confused and did not decipher his research from his own work. Whether or not this is the case has yet to be proven. As a result of the scandal, Dr. Zakaria was forced to reevaluate his busy schedule and examine his priorities. In an interview with the New York Times he said that “he planned to cut back on work with groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Little Shakespeare Company, and the Yale University governing board.” He also planned to make fewer speeches. Apparently Sarah Lawrence’s commencement speech was an exception.

Dr. Fareed Zakaria is an interesting choice for 2014 commencement speaker. Aside from his wife’s connection to the school, Dr. Zakaria has no ties to the community or the politics of the school. He does, however, live in New York City, and the choice may have been one of convenience. It will be exciting to hear what Dr. Zakaria’s wisdom will be that he imparts on the class of 2014.

While the choice may not have been an expected one, Dr. Zakaria has certainly had a full life thus far and his knowledge of foreign policy and politics is vast. Sarah Lawrence students, especially those in the class of 2014, are hopefully in for an enlightening speech in May. 

 

by Anna Jurek '16
ajurek@gm.slc.edu