Azar Nafisi Speaks to the Megaphone

Written by Chris Elford

On cool and rainy Tuesday November 11th, students and faculty welcomed this year’s Writer’s Voice candidate Azar Nafisi to Southwestern Univerity. Nafisi is perhaps best known for her award winning memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, which spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Nafisi spent the day attending classes and chatting with students over lunch at the San Gabriel house across the street from the University. Later that evening she spoke from her upcoming book The Republic of the Imagination about the transformative impact a sustained engagement with works of the imagination can have on individuals and their perception of other cultures, including, she wanted to emphasize, the other culture that is their own.

Azar Nafisi was born in the Iranian capitol of Tehran in 1955. She was educated abroad and received her PhD. in English and American Literature at the University of Oklahoma before returning to Iran in 1979, near the beginning of what would become the Iranian Revolution. Nafisi took jobs teaching American literature at universities in Tehran during the Revolution, but as the Islamic Republic Party under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini consolidated its power and began enforcing laws governing every aspect of its subject’s lives, her freedom to teach what and how she wanted to was increasingly taken away from her. Nafisi was threatened with expulsion from the university in 1981 after she refused to wear a veil and eventually resigned her position. In 1987 Nafisi returned to the university to teach for another eight years, until 1995 when the intense scrutiny she was under from the authorities became too much for her and she was forced to quit her job. She continued to teach, however, holding secret meetings in her house among former students and acquaintances, all women, to discuss works of literature. These meetings and conversations would form the basis for her book Reading Lolita in Tehran, which she wrote after immigrating to the United States in 1997. Nafisi currently lives in Washington D.C. and serves as a Visiting Professor and the director of the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature. Her book Things I Have Been Silent About is due in December.
Continue reading

RescueTime Might Save Your Time

Written by Kayla Bogs

It’s 2 AM and you’re halfway through your eight page essay. As you begin to start the fifth page you hear the all too familiar chime of popularity: you have a facebook message! As you try to motivate yourself to resist the temptation, your hand mysteriously makes its way to the mouse: two notifications and a chat message. What essay?

Time all too often feels like it is slipping away. A new solution to this problem is to create an account quick and easy with RescueTime.com and see just how your time is being spent.

“I’m on my computer all the time,” first-year Whitney Moore said. “Computers are just a part of life now. It is hard to do anything without one.”
Continue reading

How to Create a Poll

Written Gilbert St. Clair
Professor of Political Science

In this election year, we have all been bombarded with the information gathered in public opinion surveys (a.k.a. polls). The purpose of these polls has varied from those designed to understand human behavior (done by Social Scientists) to the media’s desire to report who is ahead and who is behind in electoral contests to those seeking to manipulate voters’ attitudes or to reveal the mating habits of college students. Often the real intent of these polls was not to inform the public, but either to manipulate or entertain it. Most of what we know about the results of the public opinion surveys comes to us through the filter of the news media.
Journalists who report the findings of public opinion surveys have an obligation to tell us about the technical features of the surveys as well as, present the substantive results and interpretation of the polling data. The description of the survey’s technical features enables the reader/viewer to assess the reliability and validity of the data being reported in a news story. The major polling organizations through their trade associations have adopted the following Principles of Disclosure:
Continue reading

The Benefits of a Trayless Commons

Written by Hannah Richard

After undergoing a trial run for possibly going trayless, Southwestern students have been in daze over what to think. Numerous Facebook groups have been established bashing and championing the trayless trial period, and many groups on campus have been discussing the pros and cons of this new idea.

It seems to me that there are much more supporters than there appear to be opposition to the proposed plan. I have to agree with supporters in that this would make for great change in the Commons.

The reasons for going trayless are so immense, I barely know where to start. First of all, without trays, The Commons has way fewer dishes and dishwashing cycles to do. This means using a lot less water and harmful dishwashing liquids, along with saving energy from fewer times using the dishwasher. This alone can save thousands of gallons of water every day.
Decreasing tray usage can also substantially diminish food waste by encouraging people to only take the amount of food they can carry, rather than what they think looks good.
Continue reading

Sing! A Success!

Written by Mikaela Santini

This past Saturday, 11 student organizations preformed musical skits in SING!, one of the most popular events of homecoming. The audience was entertained for hours by the skits and the commentary of Masters of Ceremonies, sophomore Zac Carr and junior Diana Leon.

“I thought the performance was great,” Daniel Webb, Assistant Director for Alumni Relations, said. “Being the first year back in the Alma Thomas Theater, after four years in the Robertson Center, we had a lot of issues to work out, but I feel like we put on a great show. The content of the program was the best I have seen since I’ve been at Southwestern and you couldn’t ask for a better venue. SING is a great tradition at Southwestern. It gives students, faculty, staff, and alumni an opportunity to come together and experience a great show.”

“Although there were almost a dozen skits for the crowd to enjoy, the judges awarded Tri-Delta’s first place, with ZTA’s and Sigma Phi Lambda-Kappa Chi’s skits finishing second and third, respectively.”
Continue reading

Aster's Ethiopian Cuisine is a Treat

Written by Josh Spencer
Megaphone Food Reviewer

Price: $15-20

Rating: 3.5 Stars
I returned this past Wednesday to the food critic circuit by making my first foray outside of Georgetown. I’ve tried to keep my reviews in the area, since most people are not willing to drive that far for a good meal, however, I think most readers can agree that dining options in G-town are still limited, meaning it’s necessary to branch out after a while.

I did just that, visiting a place in north Austin called Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant (Exit Dean Keeton on the lower part of I-35 S just before the UT football practice bubble). I had been wanting to make it to Aster’s for quite some time, not only because of the rave reviews I had heard from others, but also because I wanted to make an effort to include some vegetarian dishes for those at Southwestern who are not carnivorously inclined.
Continue reading

Twilight Does Not Live Up To Hype

Twilight Courtesy of Google

Written by Claire Booher
This past summer was when I first heard my friends speak about Twilight. A good friend of mine knew I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and knew I would love this book she read because “it is just like Harry Potter, but with vampires.” I took the bait and read Twilight when I returned to school in the fall. I have heard a general consensus from fans on their infatuation with the book. “It’s not necessarily the characters but the plot and the different world [Stephanie Meyer] created, like with Harry Potter, it’s a new world to get involved in,” said junior Kelley Ferguson. To be fair about this review, I have not read the entire series. I did not like the first book and Twilight fans have told me not to bother reading the rest of the series if I didn’t like the first book because it gets worse.
Continue reading

A Realization of Compassion

Written by Meg Susong
Megaphone Columnist

When at home, I often watch the show “Animal Cops,” which is essentially “Cops,” but where the violators commit crimes against animals. The crimes can range from starving an animal to leaving it chained to a fence, for a long enough period of time that the collar has become embedded in the animal’s neck.

I, like many of the viewers (including my mother), are distraught and visibly upset at the visual of inhumane acts. But those are not the only acts of violence committed against animals by far. And many acts committed against animals are not by “bad eggs” either.

Animals are treated inconsiderately, which leaves them open to be manipulated by human beings. We as a race exert power over animals in our lives, whether we realize it or not. We control our pets lives, from when they may use the restroom to when they can eat. We control populations in the wild with human-derived methods. We control what animals are good for.
Continue reading

Students React to Obama Win

By Remy Robertson/Rachel Rigdon

Between the first woman vide-residential and first African American presidential hopefuls, this past year has been arguably the most heated presidential election within the nation’s history.

The aftermath that resonates into the public, despite the turnout of the election, is a constant supply of waves of excitement and confusion.

Active citizens displayed their reactions from across the political spectrum in reaction to the 2008 election.
Continue reading

Pete Sessions Comes to SU

Written by Charlotte Law

Striding past groups of noisy lunch-eaters, this reporter squeezed her way in to the Dan Rather room. Republican Congressman Peter “Pete” Sessions intrigued and excited students at the ‘Careers in Politics’ event last Friday. The forum opened with an introduction from Dr. O’Neill from the Political Science department. Pete Sessions, who graduated from Southwestern University in 1978, began the discussion by expressing admiration for Southwestern’s close-knit community and the subsequent interpersonal skills he learned here. He then opened up the meeting for questions. The audience, which was composed mainly of students from one of Dr. O’Neill’s classes, had typed, prepared questions for Representative Sessions. The topics ranged from the conference committees he has served on to the possible conflicts between representation and re-election. When discussing the nature of working in Congress, Pete Sessions discussed the “outlandish power” held by the Senate, and that if Barack Obama wins the current presidential election, there will be unequal representation and very limited room for conservative issues or discussion. He also mentioned that there are blackmail and bribery techniques employed by the senate to not pass bills. Session claimed, “[It is better to pass] a bad piece of legislation than none at all.”
Continue reading

To the President, From a Concerned Citizen: An Open Letter

Written by Andrew Dornon

I sit, writing this on the verge of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Regardless of the outcome, you, the president-elect will need to accomplish a few general goals in order to retain America’s position as a superpower in our ever-changing world.

First, and most importantly, I implore you to continue the “War On Terror”. Thus far, we have combated this most eminent threat to our security and freedom to an extent that has been acceptable. Now, you must escalate the violence and extend American influence throughout the Middle East. This can be seen as a necessary step to fight Islam, I mean, Islamofascism. Radical Islam should be viewed as the greatest danger to the “Free World”. You must understand that they hate our freedom. There is no other logical reason that would possibly drive a small minority of the Muslim world to hate our entire country. Certainly, our violent, capitalistic intervention/oppression over the past 50 years has had nothing to do with their worldview. We will be greeted as liberators wherever we go and should never apologize for our assistance given to these uncivilized nations.
Continue reading