Walk This Way – For Peace

On a pleasant evening in downtown Austin last Saturday, Sept. 19, about 80 Southwestern students and community members gathered to participate in the third annual Walk for Peace. At 5:30 p.m. participants holding signs and chanting encouraging words of peace started the mile long walk from the state capitol building on Congress Avenue, arriving at Austin City Hall on Cesar Chavez Street at 6 p.m. Once at City Hall, several speakers talked to participants about various forms of peace and protested against violence of all kinds. The Hunters and Gatherers, a local Austin band that has played on occasion at the Kappa Sigma House, concluded the event by putting on a show for the walkers.

Though Walk for Peace lasted a little over an hour, members of the Southwestern University Student Peace Alliance, started preparing to host the walk a month in advance.

Sarah Wiggins, senior and co-president of SPA, said, “In the past, the Walk for Peace has been hosted by the Texas State Organizers for the Peace Alliance. The Peace Alliance is the national organization working to establish a U.S. Department of Peace – they’re pretty much the adult movement to our student movement. We were informed about a month ago that they were unfortunately unable to host the event this year, and embraced the project. If we had not, the walk would not have happened. The Walk for Peace has been a milestone for the Student Peace Alliance here at Southwestern and was an event that our founder and late friend Rob Atkinson cherished and wanted to see flourish.”

Student Peace Alliance members who worked hard to make the walk a success include Sarah Wiggins, Shireen Tabrizi, Maryam Fazal, Martin Fergus and Rebecca Eisenberg. They reserved Austin City Hall; called the Austin Police Department for authorization to walk and to provide protection from traffic while walking down Congress; organized co-sponsors, which included several University of Texas clubs as well as Southwestern’s Allies and Students for Environmental Activism & Knowledge; and invited the speakers and the band, among many other necessary tasks. Members also extensively advertised the event across campus with fliers and a Facebook event, and ended up renting a Georgetown ISD bus that transported about 40 students from Southwestern to Austin.

Commenting on the turn-out of students, Wiggins said, “I am extremely impressed at the numbers we were able to gather from SU. We have increased our numbers every year and hopefully next year we can continue the tradition. Southwestern definitely has a strong support base for peace.”

This year’s Walk for Peace had a special cause attached to it: the Youth PROMISE Act. Fergus, National Field Organizer of the Student Peace Alliance and senior at Southwestern, spoke to Walk for Peace attendees about the legislation at City Hall: “The Youth PROMISE Act is in the U.S. House of Representatives right now, authored by Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia. The PROMISE Act allocates funds and resources to gang and youth violence prevention programs across the United States. It doesn’t direct how we should handle youth and gang violence prevention though. Local communities know better than anyone else so they will have the funds to set up whatever preventative programs they deem necessary in relationship to their community. They’re going to set up local PROMISE Councils all across the United States that will involve local teachers, law enforcement, and social workers that will have a local budget and working resources from the federal government to prevent local people from being incarcerated. Youths cost about $20,000 a year to keep in jail, whereas small, but very effective programs keep youth from ever going into the jail system. Essentially it is a stimulus package as well as a moral piece of legislation.”

In addition to promoting the Youth PROMISE Act, Walk for Peace encouraged other peace activists’ voices to be heard. Speakers included vice president of SEAK, Paige Menking, vice president of SU Allies Quentin Greif, and Students for Gun Free Schools Representative, former Virginia Tech Student and UT Student Government Representative, John Woods. Each speaker touched on the ways in which peace related to their causes and called upon Walk for Peace participants to recognize the ways in which they can contribute to a more peaceful society.

Menking, a junior at Southwestern, said, “In my speech, I gave an overview of global environmental justice movements and why it’s important to link social justice to environmentalism.” Greif spoke about violence against the GLBT community and Woods discussed gun violence on college campuses.

At the end of the day, Walk for Peace was a success. Tabrizi, junior and co-president of SPA, said, “We convinced a guy we passed sitting on a bench at the Capitol to walk with us and he ended up sticking around all the way through the band. This makes you realize that ultimately the majority of people would like to live in a more peaceful world. It’s just a matter of motivating them by making them realize that it’s not just an idealistic concept, but that there are actual pieces of legislation, like the Youth Promise Act for instance, that can institutionalize these very ideas.”

Maryam Fazal, sophomore and Walk for Peace organizer, summed up the event. “I think the point of this walk was to turn heads to the specific goal in mind and I think we did just that. As we were walking, I could tell we were getting attention from the people and cars on the street. People stopped to look up at us; they noticed us. They realized that there are people who still care about peace and are willing to make an effort to spread it. This was one small step to make a more peaceful society and I think it was just what we needed.”

A Preview of "Good Night Desdamona, Good Morning Juliet"

What do you get when you combine Shakespeare’s “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet”? According to the theater department, the answer is “Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet.” Opening day is September 30” and the show runs through October 4 in the Jones Theater.

Under the direction of Mark Pickell, this show is bound to be a hit at SU. Consisting of cross-dressing, swordplay, mistaken identities and playful tomfoolery, Ann-Marie MacDonald has written a show that takes a plucky academic back into the times of Desdemona and Juliet. Through an adventure of interaction and discovery, Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet is a good combination of Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Woody Allen.

The Washington Post said that “Goodnight Desdemona” is “delightful, often hilarious . . . MacDonald doesn’t miss a trick, scattering satirical observations on love and sex, scholarship and the Bard like birdseed, while taking full advantage of the slapstick possibilities in Shakespearean cross-dressing.”

Each crew is working hard to make this show come together by opening night. The stage manager, lighting crew, set crew, costume crew and of course, the actors and director are working hard to make “Goodnight Desdemona” a success.

Stage Manager

Cathrin Winsor, the stage manager of “Good Night Desdemona,” has her hands full with tasks to make sure this show is a success. Although this is her first time managing a main stage show at SU, she has had experience with other shows in the past, including being an assistant stage manager for last year’s “This is Not a Pipe Dream.” She was also the stage manager for the Tal Lostraccoo Summer Theatre Camp held at SU this year.

“A stage manager’s job is to facilitate and coordinate both the artistic and practical processes of theater,” Winsor said. “Stage managers run production meetings, record actors’ blocking, aid communication between designers, director, actors, crew, etc., and run the show once it opens.”

Winsor is excited about “Good Night Desdemona” because of the amount of true comedy in the show as opposed to dark comedy or comedy with some type of hidden message.

“The play is perfect for people who love Shakespeare as well as those who hated reading it for class because it pulls directly from the original text of the two famous tragedies and turns them into outrageous comedies,” Winsor said.

Lighting Crew

The lighting crew also has a lot to do during this show because it consists of numerous special effects and several time warps that require the designers to be creative with the illumination.

Crew member Kristi Brawner explained that the primary job is to follow the light plot and hang and focus the lights for the show.

“We work for three hours twice a week to make sure we are on schedule providing a specific and lovely illumination for the actors onstage,” Brawner said.

The challenges of the show allow each member of the team to contribute and problem solve.

“‘Desdemona’ involves numerous special effects that are going to pose a challenge, but not an unconquerable one, to each lighting student,” Brawner said. “The designers have worked out clever patterns and colors, and fun visual treats that I think will be enjoyed by the audience.”
Set Crew

The play is going to take place in the Jones Theater. The shape and arrangement of this theater allow designers to create many interesting and surprising sets.

Junior Tyler King has worked on sets for this theatre in the past.

“The design uses multiple levels of perspective and allows for a lot of movement and at times ‘surprises’,” King said. “I feel the design itself does a good job of capturing both the real world and the theatrical world of Shakespeare as MacDonald writes it.”

Costume Crew

The costume lab students and those on wardrobe crew have a lot of fun costumes and situations to deal with during the show. Students working on the costumes are busy making pleated skirts, puffed sleeve jackets, britches and other unique clothing pieces.

“‘Desdemona’ has a lot of gender switching going on throughout the show,” sophomore Rachel Hoovler said. “Michael Balagia will not only be playing the male role of Othello, but he is also playing the Nurse.”

These role changes call for many different costumes on top of characters needing assistance on costume changes during the show. Assisting during these quick changes is another role of the wardrobe crew.


“Good Night Desdemona” consists of five main characters and several supporting characters played by Michael Balagia, Jessica Hughes, Alexis Armstrong, Jayne Furlong and Zac Carr. There five actors play all 16 roles.

Senior theater major Michael Balagia commented that the three act play, consisting of Shakespearean verse, has been a challenge with only three weeks to memorize lines.

“When I first read the plot overview, the story of an assistant professor of English falling into the world of Shakespeare, it sounded a bit ridiculous,” Balagia said. “After I read the script, though, I absolutely fell in love with the play.”

Balagia said that the show is full of clever Shakespeare references that can relate to the Shakespeare lovers as well as those who are just in it for fun and humor.

Rehearsals have been demanding and have consisted of different training.

“My favorite part of the rehearsal process was definitely the sword fighting,” Balagia said. “We had to come in on Saturdays for fights choreography, but if I have to be in the theater on the weekend, learning to sword fight is definitely not something I mind.”

With all of the effort that has been put into this show it is sure to be another entertaining and exhilarating production.

SU Garden Club Establishes Roots

Covered in dirt and in general good spirits on a Saturday morning at 10, the SU Garden Club is one happy group of gardeners. Far from being asleep in their beds, they sweat, laugh, and shovel in the dirt every week. They watch their year-long efforts come to fruition in the form of peanuts, herbs, squash, watermelons, sweet potatoes, eggplant, Japanese beans, and cantaloupe. You name it; the Garden Club is cultivating it. With approximately thirty members and growing, the club initially branched off from SEAK, Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge. The fledgling club came fully into its own at the start of this year and is now an independent organization.

The now thriving landscape near Mundy where they work used to be a pile of trash. “They had to flatten it all out with a bulldozer,” junior Rachel Baker says, pointing to the area where members were diligently working. “It was all just a bunch of junk.”

This is the second go-around for the Garden Club on Southwestern University’s campus, having failed a few years back before any of the current members had joined. Any sign of that failure is absent now, as the hillside is covered with community gardens that are flourishing with plant life.

When asked what it was that they liked about the Garden Club, a humorous barrage of responses came flying back. “Playing in the dirt!” “Bugs!” “…I like growing things,” one member offers quietly. “And I like eating those things!” one member shouts from the back.

The work of the SU Garden club doesn’t stop at the community gardens here on campus. The club has future plans of working with the Farmer’s Market, selling what they grow in order to help fund their activities. This year the club also intends to work on projects ranging from rain water collection to satellite gardens outside of the first year dorms. They even plan on growing a grass couch – “the ultimate green furniture,” co-chair of the club Kate Peteet says laughing.

“We also intend to have a campus viewing of the movie Fresh,” Peteet adds. “It’s a documentary about the food industry. It explores how people have become unattached to the idea of their food and don’t know what goes into it. We’re missing a lot of stuff that used to keep us healthy,” she says in reference to the picking procedures of the shipping industry, which include gathering food before it has ripened in order to keep it fresh for its arrival in stores. “People just don’t know.”

The garden clubs meets every Saturday at 10am, but members are welcomed to work 8am to noon. “Come get dirty with the Garden Club,” Kate Peteet advises. “And feel free to quote me on that.”

Several Top Schools Join Open Access

The downturn in the economy has affected everyone, including universities and especially students and professors who are trying to complete scholarly investigations and reports. SU subscribes to various scholarly journals, which helps reduce the cost of these scholarly materials, but these materials are not always available online, and sometimes getting a hold of them can turn into a hassle. If anyone has ever participated in the Inter-Library Loan Program, then they know that there are certain restrictions as to what materials they may borrow, when they can borrow them and for how long they can borrow those materials.

Fortunately, some of the nation’s most prestigious universities have decided to share their scholarly investigations and findings with the rest of the world – for free. Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT and U.C. Berkeley have made the Five-Member Compact, which aims to reduce the popularity of process fees that make scholarly publications less affordable. This in turn, is meant to increase equality in the educational materials provided by different universities. Scholars and students will be less limited in the amount and the quality of the resources they are able to use. On an everyday basis, this means that students have more resources to do their research, and they do not have to freak out when they are off campus and do not have access to SU’s database. It also means that students might not have to wait for materials as long as they otherwise would have to when conducting their research.

Senior Erin Fonseca thinks that this development will help improve the research process, making it quicker and more efficient. “I think it’s an excellent idea because sometimes students face difficulties when conducting their research. Sometimes students may find something they find very useful to their studies, but they then have to go through ILL, or they simply do not have access to it, and that just makes the process much more difficult.”

The current members of the Compact are inviting other universities to participate in this new program. This does not mean that scholars and universities must stop providing articles to scholarly journals. Instead, the universities are encouraged to simply make these articles available to everyone, not only the individuals or institutions subscribed to those journals. The universities who signed this Compact were inspired by “Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing”, an article by Stuart M. Shieber, which called for more widespread availability of scholarly works. According to him, scholars who write articles prefer that many individuals read their articles rather than just a few. He argues that scholars should strive to reduce barriers to other scholars, and that the business of Journals should be improved, because it has too many flaws. He believes that having open-access scholarly works will promote educational equality and improve the scholarly journal business.

Senior Ashley Barnard points out the advantage that this Compact brings to S.U. students. She says, “I think it is really great that information from big universities is becoming more accessible for students around the country. I feel like bigger schools have a lot of resources that smaller schools don’t and this makes education and knowledge much more equal.”


Dan Brown Wows With New Literary Masterwork

Dan Brown, the acclaimed author of pseudo-mystery novels, recently released a new book Sept. 15, 2009, dubbed The Lost Symbol. The new novel sold over 1 million copies the first day.

According to an interview with Dan Brown himself, he specifically tailored to a variety of different readers. “I tried to mix in a bunch of different stereotypes in order to increase readership and pay my debt to some Mexican drug lords,” Brown said.

Interviewers were puzzled about this snarky comment and questioned further.

Brown described the book’s stereotypes as a compilation between characters from Star Wars, the Red Sox and Snow White.

“You know, everyone loves a book that includes a Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader plot, or a rivalry like that of the Yankees and the Red Sox, or even something really arbitrary like Snow White versus the Witch.”

The interviewers exchanged puzzled looks and decided to leave, but not before Dan continued his diatribe.

“I owe it to Kanye West. He was a complete asshole to Taylor Swift. That’s the type of plot in The Lost Symbol: consistent, predictable baggery. Thanks Kanye, you’re the best.”

Dan Brown finally realized the stunned faces of the interviewers and decided to recant his statements about why his book is worth reading and why so many people have purchased the Symbol. “It’s my use of italics, honestly. I use italics strategically-it’s a secret art in the literary world. Every now and then I italicize a random word. The readers love it! When all else fails, it’s the ultimate page turner. Reader’s think ‘What does this mean?’ That’s right, reader, you don’t know what’s up.”

This interview was censored and has not been released to the public until now. It had nothing to do with Dan Brown; it was reported some interviewers slit their wrists after the interview. Dan Brown: a literary genius.

Time For Another French Film Festival

It’s that time of year again—time for the third annual Tournées Festival of French films. The festival, put on by Aaron Prevots, assistant professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, consists of five French films, shown every Wednesday night during the month of September. Each film is at 7 p.m. in Olin 105 and is free to Southwestern students, staff and the greater Georgetown public.

The films this year include “The Class,” “Long Songs,” “Two Days in Paris,” “Crossed Tracks,” and “The Beaches of Agnes.” Prevots chose the films from the selection available from the Tournées Film committee, and chose this year’s to fit the theme of diversity, desire, the city and storytelling. Prevots felt that his selections gave the audience a wide variety of films that also nicely complimented the courses being offered this semester at Southwestern.

“The main organizers do such a great job that this is always an enjoyable process with top films from which to choose,” said Prevots.

The next film, “Crossed Tracks,” is a “gripping, complex homage to the twists and turns of French mystery novels,” according to the festival program. It follows multiple characters as their stories weave around each other’s, with suspense building at every moment.

“‘Crossed Tracks’ is easily one of my festival favorites. The plot has great twists and turns, the acting is spot-on, the settings are beautiful and the many moods are a real treat. I have a feeling this is a film students will want to watch again after the festival – it really is that much fun,” said Prevot.

Sophomore Lauren Glass said she enjoys the film festival because “I enjoy seeing French movies that aren’t available in Georgetown. I like going to the festival because it brings a little bit of French culture to SU.” Having already seen “Crossed Tracks,” she commented that “it was a very good movie. It really treads the line between reality and fiction. Not to mention Fanny Ardant is an amazing actress.”

Funding for the festival was provided by the Tournées Festival, a program of the French American Cultural Exchange. It is also made possible with support from the Cultural
Services of the French Embassy, the French Ministry of Culture, the Florence Gould Foundation, the Grand Marnier Foundation, Highbrow Entertainment and the Franco-American
Cultural Fund.

Environmentalism Versus User Friendliness

Last year, some sort of legislature was passed that made Sodexho buy cardboard to-go boxes that were a tad bit out of their regular budget. As a result, to take things to go, we have to not only pay a quarter more, but we are allocated one cup and a measly spork to eat our food with.

When it was time to vote, I didn’t vote for this legislature, mainly because I didn’t think charging a people a quarter to do their part in saving the world was not a good idea, especially since the quarter went towards an inferior product. It became a sort of “To Go Tax”, while at first seems small, builds up. Of course, it depends on how much you use the Commons, and how many times you get take out. For instance, I’ve been there about four times, and gotten to go four times, and have spent a $1.00. I think I would’ve rather spent that $1.00 on a cheap set of pens (or two!) then the right to eat out of a giant take out box.

And yes, I do believe the new to go boxes are inferior than the old styrofoam. First of all, there are no dividers. This is a problem, especially since one of the attractions to the new boxes is that they were reheatable without taking anything in the box.

However, imagine this combination: chicken and a caesar salad. Or, a pork chop with a roll and a desert. Or, for the breakfast crowd, a breakfast taco with some yogurt. Some of these things are not meant to be reheated together. Furthermore, some of these things are not meant to be mixed together either – and because there are no dividers in the box, you will have strawberry yogurt on your breakfast taco. Or even more exciting, syrup in your strawberry yogurt from your french toast.

These boxes are also nearly impossible to close in my experience, especially when you’re in a rush. This is not good, as it doesn’t allow the cardboard to act as a proper insulator, since you have a giant air vent straight in the middle.

Also, because you are allocated one box, one cup and a spork, you cannot, for instance, have a for instance, pudding with your meal if you want a drink, or soup if you want a drink, or any combination of these. The sundae bar becomes pretty much impossible, without requesting an additional cup.

For this brand-spanking new environmentally friendly Commons to work, I’d say we either need to pump more money into Sodexho so that more attractive and more user friendly options are available, or I could just stop getting take out at the Commons. But I can’t be the only person to feel this way about this…am I?

Fluff News: Too Much Coverage over Celebrities Death?

In the last few months, there have been a seemingly disproportionate amount of celebrity deaths. Beginning with Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcet to Walter Cronkite, Ted Kennedy and, more recently, Patrick Swayze it seems as though each new day brought the passing of another beloved public figure. Likewise, these passings have been matched by a disproportionate amount of media coverage. This disproportionate coverage is one of many examples of an alarming trend in contemporary media (particularly journalism): the over-coverage of so-called “fluff news” and, more succinctly, the emphasis of profit over public service.

Let me begin by saying that in no way am I attempting to downplay the tragedy of the deaths of these individuals. The loss of a loved one is always hard, and this can be especially so when the loved one is beloved by many members of the public. Nor am I necessarily criticizing the media for the coverage of the passing of notable public figures. Celebrities are, after all, public figures, and their passing deserves exposure. The problem lies in the amount and degree of exposure. And while there may be a great deal of debate over which celebrities hold more “merit” in terms of influence (for instance, a pop star or a politician), there is no debate that excessive coverage of these deaths draws attention away from other, more pertinent public issues.

The most obvious and extreme example of celebrity death “super coverage” was the June 25th death of pop-star Michael Jackson. The news of his death was certainly shocking,. After all, Jackson was arguably the world’s most famous pop musician and had achieved a great deal of notoriety throughout his career for both his influence on the world of music and the questionable reputation of his personal life. Jackson was a superstar, and his tragic death deserved coverage. However, in the days following Jackson’s death, there was a deluge of Jackson-related news, described by one media commentator as a “media siege.” Arguably, the most prominent news story overshadowed by coverage of Jackson’s death was the increasingly intense Iranian election controversy. Among other neglected news stories was the investigation of the Washington, D.C metro crash (which killed 9 people and injured 75 others), the ousting of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya by a military coup, the approval of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the explosion of tensions between two ethnic groups-Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs-in Urumqi, China, which resulted in the deaths of over 150 people. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, from the time the Jackson story broke Thursday afternoon to the end of the day Friday, 60% of studied news coverage was devoted to his death, his life story and his legacy. Iran coverage dropped to 7% of the newswhole in that same time period.

The media’s reaction to the Michael Jackson story represents a startling trend in contemporary journalism. More and more, news outlets are choosing to focus on celebrity gossip and other “newslite” stories in lieu of more important (if less titillating) public issues. The explanation for this trend can be summed up in one word: profit. News outlets are a business after all, and businesses are meant to make money. And how do news outlets make money? They must attract high ratings, and advertisers who will pay money to reach those large audiences. How do they attract these audiences? By broadcasting and publishing those stories that are the most titillating, intriguing, or violent. As the old adage goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

But journalism was never meant to be business as usual. From our country’s inception, the press has been the primary conduit of information flow from policy makers to the American public. Journalists have long aimed to provide the American public with objective information that is pertinent to the public interest. Certainly global issues such as the genocide in Darfur or growing racial tensions in Europe deserve more coverage than Lindsay Lohan’s alleged cocaine usage, if only based solely on the fact that these global issues directly influence the lives of more people. And while there can be debate as to what is “pertinent to public interest” and whether news can ever really be “objective“, there is no doubt that policy decision and groundbreaking historical events are more pertinent to the everyday lives of Americans than whether or not Jon and Kate are getting divorced.

Bad Behaviour Yields Big Bucks

Mark Cuban described the consumption of sports scandal well in 2003, while commenting on Kobe Bryant’s rape scandal, “from a business perspective, it’s great for the NBA. It’s reality television, people love train-wreck television and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that’s the reality today.”

I must side with Cuban. Let’s be honest, unsportsmanlike conduct is a cash cow. Guilty pleasure? Yes, please. A middle-aged gentleman ahead of me at Barnes & Noble this evening purchased Serena’s hardback title, along with a business networking paperback. Ca-ching!

In addition to recent fame related to foot foul obscenities, Serena’s new biography, ‘On the Line’ was released September 1, and let’s not forget her ‘Delicious’ NIKE clothing, which is currently on store shelves. ‘Delicious’ offers sportswear to women through an advertising campaign of sexy still photos of Serena sweaty in spandex. Despite temper tantrums, Serena is still on Nike’s payroll. Surprising? Hardly. Phelps’ bong rips haven’t scared Speedo away, recently extending his contract through 2013. Controversy is marketable. Nike and Kraft Foods have come out with public statements of support for Serena. Yes, Kraft Foods sponsors Serena through the Oreo Double Stuff Racing League. Hey Serena, want a cookie?

Here is a brilliant taste of Serena’s joint endeavor with Daniel Paisner, On the Line,

“’In my book On the Line, I want everyone to not only enjoy it, but I would like everyone to learn from it- how to stay strong when it seems like everyone is pulling against you. How to stay positive, how to pull through. Because in the end, there is a light that always gets brighter. You just have to keep reaching for it.’


Serena Williams”

How touching. If you would like more information on Serena’s tips for maintaining composure during stressful situations, pick up a copy of On the Line. In a recent interview, Daddy Richard Williams shared his own interest in literature. He claims to have written thirty-five books, and intends to finally publish his first, How I Made It With Venus and Serena, by January 2010. After his daughter’s outburst, he may finally find a publisher.

Updated Honor Code Is More Than Just Guidelines

Changes have been underway at Southwestern to try to maintain the integrity of the university’s long-standing Honor Code. The wording of the Honor Pledge was changed last year to give it broader authority, and now the governing body of the Honor Code has shifted from an all-student Student Judiciary to an Honor Code Council that has an equal number of faculty and student members.

These changes have not been rash. An Honor Code Task Force made up of students and faculty was formed three years ago to examine the effectiveness of the Honor Code. It was this group that made the decision to change the previous Honor Pledge because of its antiquated and narrow language (“I have neither given nor received aid on the examination…”). The change to include faculty in Honor Code affairs was made to try to legitimize the system in the eyes of faculty, according to Mike Leese, who acts as the advisor to the HCC.

“It was apparent at the beginning of last fall that we still [had] too many faculty [that] were not buying into the Honor Code,” Leese said. “There seemed to be this agreement that it was time for a change, and we just simply had too many faculty that didn’t buy into the Honor Code anymore.”

Sarah Gould, the president of the new HCC, agreed that the Honor Code needed to be reworked.

“It did become ineffective. It got to the point where faculty weren’t believing in it, [and] students weren’t following it like they should,” Gould said.

In an effort to ensure the success of these changes, the HCC is vigorously trying to educate the campus about the new Honor Code.

In an effort to reach first-years, Gould was a speaker at matriculation, just one of the events that the HCC used to get its message out. There were hall meetings about the code in dorms, a formal meeting in the Alma Thomas Theater, and even the chance for new students to sign a giant banner inscribed with the Honor Pledge. Gould said that this is just the first step in raising awareness about the changes.

“We are going to start a campus-wide education campaign, [HCC Vice President Jon Appel] and I are, to speak to athletics and fraternities and sororities and student organizations – really just kind of wiping the slate clean as far as Student Judiciary and the previous Honor Code is concerned – and reeducate everyone on not only the Honor Code at Southwestern, but why academic integrity is important to students, to faculty, to the future,” Gould said.

Leese and the HCC said that there were 36 Honor Code violations last year and 37 the year before that. Twenty nine of last year’s cases were settled by a “non-judicial resolution,” the most common solution for Honor Code violations, according to Leese. Non-judicial resolutions are arrangements made between a professor and a student that has allegedly violated the Honor Code where the two will work out an agreement so that the student does not have to have to go before the HCC Hearing Board. These agreements will usually involve revising or rewriting as well as capped grades for the assignment or even the course.

Leese and Gould both described these resolutions as a sort of warning. Students are only allowed to have one of them during their academic careers. If a student is charged with violating the Honor Code past that first instance, he or she is forced to go before the HCC Hearing Board. Even once it has reached the hearing stage, however, rarely does a violation lead to serious action. Gould said that in her two years working on Student Judiciary, she has only seen one instance where an offense had the potential to warrant suspension or expulsion. Leese himself said that “it is very hard to get kicked out of this place.”

The HCC can take this action when needed, however. Upon its formation, the group was given the ability to take stronger disciplinary action against Honor Code offenders.

“We now have the power to suspend or expel,” Gould said. “If we wanted to suspend or expel as Student Judiciary, we had to go through the University Committee on Discipline, but now Honor Code Council solely has the power.”

The HCC is insistent that all Honor Code violations be treated seriously. One of the group’s major focuses is to have faculty report agreements that they make with students regarding Honor Code violations. To the HCC, every single infraction – whether it is accidentally citing a source incorrectly or buying a whole research paper – must involve the process that the group has set up for handling violations.

“Yes, it seems too formal for some certain stances, and it’s really up to the professor’s discretion whether they pursue it with the Honor Code Council or not, but in the effort in making the Honor Code work at Southwestern, we cannot be discriminatory towards different instances, so we will prosecute everything that technically violates it,” Gould said.

Leese said that the numbers are up from earlier in the decade and that he is not concerned by these numbers. He instead claimed that he was happy with them because he views this as reflective not of more Honor Code violations, but of more incidents being reported through the proper channels. Leese said that he makes this distinction based on a “gut feeling.”

Leese said that the Honor Code’s place is not a fixed one. If the efforts of the new Honor Code Council can not sway faculty and students to believe in and support the code, there are provisions to eliminate it all together.

When the decision to make changes to the Honor Code was approved by the faculty in spring of 2008, it was also agreed that the faculty would revisit the issue three years later, the spring of 2011, according to Leese. He said that after these three years have elapsed, the faculty could decide to not have an Honor Code at Southwestern.

Despite the looming threat of its discontinuation, Gould and other supporters of the Honor Code are confident that the changes they are making will persuade not just the professors, but everyone at SU, that an Honor Code that is overseen by a committee of both faculty and students and stresses the principles of “honesty” and “integrity” is something worth having.

“As the faculty and students see the positive changes that come under the Honor Code Council – the greater commitment to education, the broader awareness of academic integrity – the Honor Code’s roots will only grow deeper. Southwestern’s education goes beyond the skills we are building in the classroom,” Gould said. “Who we are today will be part of who we are tomorrow. The Southwestern Honor Code instills integrity into every student for that primary reason.”

SU Continues to Attract Quality Faculty

Despite the distinct endowment decrease of the previous year, the hiring freeze put into place on campus last year did not and does not affect the faculty positions. According to SU’s provost, Jim Hunt, the hiring freeze only applies to staff positions that become vacant during the freeze, at which time the position will remain vacant for a nine month period before it is filled – unless the vacant position is essential to the department, wherein senior staff can then make a case to fill the position.

These staff positions include most everyone that makes our campus run beautifully – from physical plant to the business office, but does not apply to any of the professors.

Although the campus is still adjusting to the tighter belt, the only pull back in faculty has been in full-time professors, which cost the university the most money. Tenure-track positions are being filled at the same rate, and the university will continue to hire enough professors to keep our student-faculty ratio at the ever-boasted 10:1.

While it may come across as if we are sacrificing the livelihoods of the sweet ladies who never bat an eye at the contents of our trash cans or the employees from whom we get our morning high-fives for the sake of our intellectual capital on campus, Hunt ensures that “the goal on campus is to keep the jobs that are currently in place.”

With the economic nose-dive that has been affecting campuses nationally, there has been a general decrease in demand for professors as many universities are pulling their tenure track searches, according to Hunt. In contrast, this year we are hiring on tenure in the communications, sociology, religion and Latin American art history—all of which are replacements with the exception of the last, which is a new position made available by a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Additionally, next year we will be looking for professors to fill tenure positions in the history, anthropology and philosophy departments. Southwestern will also be hiring its first tenured environmental studies professor, thanks to the Mellon Foundations grant.

Molly Jensen, a religion professor newly on tenure track this year, stresses the importance of maintaining a strong presence of tenured professors on campus, as “tenured professors have more time and resources invested in the lives of students and colleagues, which is one of the aspects that draws professors to the university.” Allured by the community-centered education Southwestern focuses on and the warmth of all those interacting on campus, Jensen is seeking to bring her area of expertise in Judaism to the religion department on campus with a unique perspective on integrating religious themes with social and political movements as well as sustainability. Jensen participates in “non-profit work as a real-world application of academic expertise in the social justice field,” which gives her a cosmopolitan and integrated liberal arts perspective she hopes to pass along to students on campus.

Southwestern’s newest visiting professor in the sociology department, Reginald Byron, was drawn to the university because of the impact the professors are able to have on their students through the close relationships, a sentiment many tenured professors echo.

“The beauty of education is in its ability to transform the lives of real people. Educational experiences that empower students to become active participants in our world are far more important than those that only require the rote memorization of material. It seems to me that most Southwestern faculty members share this sentiment,” Byron noted.

As the university struggles to stretch its budget as far as possible, it is a relief to many students to know that we are still bringing in inspired and diverse faculty to enrich our curriculum and expand our cache of socially-oriented intellectual resources.

New Pirate Print System Costs Student

If you’ve been a student here at Southwestern for at least two weeks, then you have most likely discovered the wonderful place that is the 24-hour print lab, a room that you can go to at any hour to print the ridiculously long papers that professors expect you to read or the ten page assignments that they ask you to complete. Best of all, the paper that you print on isn’t bought with your own credit card, but is freely supplied by the school.

But is it really free? Signs in the print lab tell students that print jobs cost .07 cents for single sided and .08 cents for double sided prints (which is a real money saver if you always print double sided). But where does this money come from? It comes from your Pirate Print account, which has been set up for each student with a thirty dollar balance for printing and is renewed each semester. This is a change in the system from last year, and is an effort by the school to reduce waste and be more environmentally friendly.

According to Bob Paver, Associate Vice President of Information Technology Services,

“Before Pirate Print, you could go into the lab and see paper everywhere and around the printer. The recycle bins would be full to the top. Students were printing documents that they never picked up and were printing multiple copies of documents when they didn’t really need them.”

All this waste was adding up to be a huge expense to the university and was definitely not environmentally friendly. Bob Paver and the rest of the ITS staff hope that this new policy will help students to “be more conscious of what they’re printing”.

When and if students run out of their thirty dollars of printing money, they must put their own money onto a Top-Up card. This money allows the student to continue printing, but at their own expense. It will work kind of like an iTunes card- students will buy two dollar or five dollar cards out of vending machines and then be able to redeem them with a serial number on their Pirate Print account website. ITS, though, does not foresee this being a problem. Data analyses of student’s printing last year showed that 90 percent of students use less than thirty dollars of printing money, and ITS fully expects this to be a sufficient amount for students this year.

Another change to Pirate Print is the addition of a color printer. It allows for large prints, can print one or two sided, and is only 35 cents a page (this is quite a bargain). The hope is that students needing to print images or graphs will utilize this new feature, although realistically, ITS doesn’t know how often it will actually get used.

The final change that has been made is that there are no longer print release stations next to the printers. Instead, each student can log on to a print page on his or her own computer and release the print from there. This change makes printing more convenient for students, because they do not have to stand in line at the computer by the printer, sign on and release their prints each time they want to print something. In addition, the area around the printers is less crowded.

Overall, students have a mixed view of the changes that have been made to Pirate Print.

“Honestly, I haven’t had too much experience with the new printing system. I don’t mind the thirty dollar limit so much because I feel that the couple of cents they charge per page is reasonable. Also, using the print website is a bit tedious but it opens the space in front of the printer that was usually congested with people waiting for their work to print,” Junior Mark Leppla said.

Laura Pfeffer, also a junior, says, “I think it’s a good way to limit printing in order to save some trees, but there are some people who have to print out readings for class because their professor doesn’t make a course packet, and I don’t think it’s fair that they have to use their $30 for that.”

The only problem that ITS has seen with the system so far this year is that many of the documents that students are asked to print for class are stored online as image files and therefore take a very long time to print. This holds up the other prints jobs, and you end up with students waiting an unnecessary amount of time for the three page paper that they’re trying to print. And when students are coming in to the print lab five minutes before their class starts and then have to wait, they sometimes leave without picking up their assignment (which wastes paper) or are late to class. ITS is looking for a way to resolve this problem, but Bob Paver advises that “until we do, students need to plan ahead.”