Archive for November, 2007

Men’s basketball perseveres

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Andrei Berman
Scott Bressler

Last year’s run to the Division III Final Four in Salem, Virginia was truly special for the Washington University men’s basketball team and its fan base, which seemed to grow with each thrilling victory.

At the heart of the young team’s success was its stalwart point guard and fan favorite, current junior Sean Wallis.

His 219 assists nearly quadrupled the total dished out by the team’s next best passer. He led the team in minutes played, putting in a gritty 35 minutes a night. Wallis’ 13.5 points per game made him the team’s third leading scorer and his 86.3 percent foul shooting made him opponents’ worst nightmare down the stretch.

Sean’s even temperament and collectedness on the court allowed his teammates peace of mind in the face of heavy defensive pressure and ensured that offensive sets would flow seamlessly.

Off the court, Wallis, who was named a second team pre-season All American by D3hoops.com, was the team’s biggest promoter and one of the first to openly state that last year’s team had the potential to get to the Final Four.

When Sean said that just over a year ago, I tried to hold back laughter. Unranked entering the season and without much in the way of senior talent, I believed the Bears were a year away from getting to Salem.

When they surprised everyone but themselves to get to D3’s biggest stage last March and finish third in the country, Sean got the last laugh and from then on, I anxiously anticipated the start of the 2007-2008 campaign.

In the first lap of what Wash. U. basketball fans hoped would be a marathon run back to Salem, however, Wallis went down with a season-ending injury. Wallis suffered a displaced tibial plateau fracture and partially tore his medial collateral ligament (MCL) early on in the November 20th game against Maryville.

The legions of students who eagerly looked forward to the resumption of last year’s newfound passion for a Wash. U. sports team have spent their return from Thanksgiving break showering Sean with their condolences.

Seeing a consummate team guy and absolute basketball junky in such pain elicits the deepest of sympathies.

Privately, some who follow the team have commented on the fact that Wallis’ absence may very well spell the end to the team’s chances of making a return trip to Salem. Indeed, how do you replace an All-American and team captain?

My hope now, though, is that Sean’s injury does not turn away fans from filling the Field House this weekend and throughout the rest of what still promises to be an exciting season.

The team returns first team All American and reigning conference player of the year, Troy Ruths. Back too is Tyler Nading, Sean’s classmate and best friend who scored more than 15 points a game last year and who contributed a herculean 31 point effort last Sunday. UAA Rookie of the Year Aaron Thompson returns, and senior sharpshooter Danny O’Boyle appears back at full strength after sitting out last season with an injury.

The student body played a key role in helping the squad to a perfect 14-0 record at home last season. Without Sean, they’ll have to play an even bigger one. Crowd noise can play a huge role in Division III basketball. Just ask any UAA squad that entered the Field House on a Friday night last winter.

Phi Delta Theta’s state school-esque cheering section known as the “Bomb Squad” will be back on hand Saturday (Friday they have semi-formal), heckling the opposition and doing their part to make sure the Field House is an even tougher place to play than it was a year ago. So too will the throng of 100 or so die-hards who make it to virtually all home games. Red Alert is also promoting the contest.

And despite being confined to a highly restrictive leg brace, Sean Wallis is expecting to attend.

“There is no better escape from the pain and the injury than just watching my buddies be successful on the court,” said Wallis.

And there should be no better place for students to be this weekend than rooting along alongside Sean for his buddies, the 2007-2008 Wash. U. basketball team.

Stepping Out

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Peter Davis and Opti Lundberg
Peter Davis

Chimichanga Mexican Restaurant
5425 S Grand Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63111
(314) 352-0202

Chimichanga is a fun neighborhood hangout that is worth going to if you want better than average Mexican food at a reasonable price. The staff showed a clear concern for its patrons and their food, which was a nice surprise on a night where the restaurant was very crowded.

In an attempt to branch out from our Italian choices of the past, we had set our sights on a restaurant different enough that visiting it would truly be considered “stepping out.” Unfortunately, Subway closed early, so we had to default to our back-up restaurant. Having made our selection, we rounded up our usual gang of eaters.

The restaurant is closer to SLU than our own campus, so the drive took a long time. The restaurant appeared rather crummy-looking from the outside, and when we entered we found that the dining area was cramped and rather loud. There was also an hour-long wait for an inside table. Luckily we were able to get a seat in the outdoor section, and we decided to give mid-November outdoor dining a try. After all, anything was better than sitting around for an hour-and we were also dying to see what kind of food would inspire people to suffer hours of waiting.

Our gamble paid off. The waiters brought out two large space heaters, which worked remarkably well to keep us warm while we perused the large, diverse menu. What worked even better was the bountiful amount of chips and salsa that were supplied to us soon after sitting down. The chips and their friend, Mr. Salsa, were fresh, salty, spicy and, most importantly, free.

After gorging ourselves on these processed bundles of joy, we decided that we should order an appetizer that better served a healthy diet. After putting our nutrition hats on, we looked through the menu and found nachos supreme. which had lettuce on it. The appetizer arrived about thirty seconds before our entrees, which initially angered us a bit. The lettuce was accompanied by chicken, cheese and sour cream, all on top of more chips. The toppings were put in sections of the chips, not layered and spread out as we would’ve liked. Everything was soggy as well. We wanted to be able to scoop the toppings with the chips, but when we tried, the chips wilted under the pressure of the toppings and our expectations.

Thankfully the rest of our meal was already there. The steak fajitas had the best presentation: a beautiful background created by red tomatoes, green peppers and onions enhanced a centerpiece of meat that looked to be perfectly cooked. The vegetables on this plate were as good as they looked. Though well cooked, they kept their form wonderfully. The texture of the tomatoes, the crunch of the peppers and the faint sweetness of the onions made these items the best part of the meal.

The steak, however, was a different story. Surprisingly tough and flavorless, the steak was like the actor Paul Walker: great until he says his first line. The meal was served with tortillas, rice, beans and guacamole, which were all solid but not spectacular.

The chicken tacos were basic, but very tasty. We feared that the chicken would be stringy, but instead we found it to be tender and juicy. The tacos were served in hard shells with cheese and lettuce on top. They weren’t that filling, but perhaps that was for the best, considering all of the other food we ordered.

The chicken taquitos, containing chicken meat and what tasted like cheese, were good but not great, and they were arranged around the more substantial part of the dish: salad. For men who prefer eating animals, this was disappointing. This dish was also not quite as filling as we would’ve hoped.

The beef burrito, for its part, was a simple success. Filled with meat, cheese, lettuce and refried beans, topped with a cheese sauce, this item provided both a lot to eat and great bang for the buck.

The saying at Chimichanga is that you can’t eat there without ordering their famous chimichangas. Wikipedia defines a chimichanga as a deep-fried burrito, created in Tucson, Arizona. One of our companions decided that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be told what to do and gave the specialty a try. Our chimichanga had chicken in it, and we have to hand it to the restaurant; it was truly excellent. The crisp texture of the exterior was fantastic, and the meat inside was moist and flavorful. We enjoyed the regular burrito, but the wonderful crunchy, fried nature of the chimichanga simply was in a league of its own.

Chimichanga was clearly a popular place for people of all ages. The quality and quantity of the food wasn’t excellent, but it was good enough that we were all content upon leaving. If we were ever in the neighborhood we would definitely stop by again.

Romance 101

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Ben Sales

Ask a group of upperclassmen where they made their first close friends at college and you might get a variety of responses (“My intramural team!” “Student Life!” “The WUPD Interrogation room!”), but most won’t hesitate to respond that their first and often best friends at Wash. U. came from their freshman floors.

It makes sense. When you’re in a new environment with new responsibilities and opportunities, you’ll naturally grow close to people who are feeling the same excitement and nervousness. It also doesn’t hurt that you spend your entire first week on campus with those people and see them approximately seventy two times a day every day after that. Soon enough you’ll bond with some of your floor, and from there the friendships grow.

But what about dating? At first it seems natural that you would find a partner amongst the people you’ve befriended. And why not? Part of a fulfilling relationship is the ability to share the same experiences, to be able to go to the same parties, events or group meetings and to be able to relate to one another. Who better to do that with than the lucky guy who lives three doors down and across the hall?

The only problem is that he lives three doors down and across the hall. There’s a reason why they call it “floorcest,” and that’s because these guys are like your family during your freshman year: they know where you are all the time, they’re there for you when you’re down and odds are they understand you better than most people on campus. That experience is unique at college and should be appreciated, but it does pose some issues regarding your eternal search for true love.

First there’s the proximity. Even though you’ve been told for years to “love your neighbor,” everyone needs some space from their significant other at times, even the most serious of couples. The point is even starker for two eighteen year-olds who are just starting out. It’s hard to stay casual when you see each other on your way to class in the morning, when you come back in the afternoon, during your floor dinner a few hours later and when you’re all chilling in the hallway at night.

Some couples enjoy that frequency and get to know each other better than they would in another setting. On the other hand, it gets to be tough when you want to play a video game with your buddy down the hall and there’s your girlfriend talking to his roommate. Do you go to her, or do you limit yourself to a casual hello and park in front of the Wii?

The privacy problem is even more complicated. It’s a given that once you hook up, or even beforehand, the rumors will start flying from one RA’s room to the other and everywhere in between. Sometimes it may seem like people know more about your relationship than you do and the questions, though they may be restrained, may not stop for a while.

And that can get annoying. Relationships are uber-personal and not something you’d be jumping to divulge to that guy that you haven’t seen since orientation weekend. But then again, some of these people are your closest friends, the ones you’d be telling about the relationship anyway, so it can’t hurt for them to have some background info when you come to them for advice.

Physical privacy is a different ballgame. Odds are that some of those many times you see your partner during the day are going to be spent in a bed, preferably one of yours. This makes sexile a near daily activity, and one that neither your roommate nor your partner’s is going to enjoy. If it’s frequent enough and done without tact, this has friendship-ruining potential. However, it’s going to happen any time you date a freshman, so at least if you’re friends with the sexiled roommate there’s more of a chance he’ll understand than the sexiled roommate of a boyfriend from a different dorm.

Last but not least is the breakup. I could devote a whole series of columns to this alone, but in short it’s obvious that you’re going to have to see this girl almost every day for the rest of the year, no matter how badly it ends. This is essentially a repeat of the “proximity” problem, except for that there’s no longer a silver lining to the constant play-dates. Things could get tense, she could date one of your friends or you may date one of hers. It’s something to consider before you start things up, but these are also problems that will exist in any breakup, unless you stop going to all the places your ex frequents.

There’s no clear yes or no to whether you should date people on your floor. For every floorcest couple I know that is going strong into senior year there’s another I see that isn’t talking anymore. Yet anyone who meets in a group setting faces these issues and should stop a while to consider the positives and the negatives before going in.

Unless they met in the WUPD office. Then I’d wait.

Health Beat

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Brooke Genkin

Every year during the Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society encourages current smokers to give up smoking entirely, to quit “cold turkey.” Events range from cigarette exchange programs to awareness efforts, all planned to help convince smokers to drop their harmful habit. It occurred to me a few weekends ago, however, that perhaps it isn’t that smokers don’t realize the merit in quitting-perhaps there just isn’t enough being done to let them know how best to quit.

We all know that smoking is addictive, but what I realized this weekend was that so many habits we engage in every day are addictive too. Yes, nicotine has physiological addictive properties, but perhaps it is the psychological effects of smoking that makes it so hard to stop.

I ran my first half marathon a few weekends ago and as I scanned the crowds of runners around me I started to notice that runners and smokers had more in common than I had previously thought: we couldn’t stop. Running is addictive too, and yes, after Sunday, I can officially say I am an addict. I love every bit of it-the way my heart beat quickens, the smell of the outdoors, the pounding sensation as my feet hit the pavement, and on a nice day, the sunshine-all of it makes me feel great. Not to mention, at the end of a run I experience an incredible high due to the endorphins that are pumping through my body. As I paced through the first few miles, I realized that an addiction to running is no different from the rest. Who was I to judge?

Addicts of all kinds-drinkers, gamblers and smokers alike-have difficulty quitting because we are inclined to continue doing something that “feels good.” In fact, our brains have been specifically engineered to respond to pleasurable stimuli in such a way that we repeat behaviors that result in feelings of happiness. Thus, my vice of running that promotes good health and someone else’s habit of smoking, which is often linked to emphysema, lung and mouth cancers and increased risk of heart attack and/or stroke, actually operate under similar psychological principles.

While there are several physiological components to addiction, it seems far more interesting to examine the issue from a psychological perspective: Why would someone stop a behavior that produces feelings of happiness? Not only is that illogical, it also goes against several years of evolution that have designed our neural pathways to respond positively to pleasurable activities. Thus, it would be unfair to judge a smoker without fully considering just how difficult it is to give up something that has such pleasurable side effects.

To address the psychological components of smoking it is best that behavioral therapy be used in conjunction with medications. Often times it is not enough to target the habit itself because there are underlying needs and issues that encourage the smokers to keep engaging in the activity. For one thing it feels good, and if there is anything history has taught us, it’s that humans continually seek things that encourage feelings of well-being. Counseling can be helpful because trained therapists will be able to provide healthy ways to deal with stress or to fill the emotional voids that smoking currently accomplishes for smokers. For students looking to quit, I would recommend contacting Besty Foy MHS, CHES at 935-7386. Foy is a smoking cessation expert and a coordinator of alcohol and drug programs at the Habif Health and Wellness Center.

In addition to counseling sessions, Foy recommends several over-the-counter medications that quell the physiological side effects of nicotine. Nicotine, the active substance in tobacco products, acts on both the peripheral and central nervous systems, increasing heart rate and blood pressure while simultaneously improving mood. The central nervous system contains several neurotransmitters, which are all activated upon the ingestion of nicotine. Nicotine stimulates the release of several “feel good” hormones (not too different from those I experience after running) including norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. In fact, many people have likened the effects of nicotine to those of antidepressant medications.

After habitual use, the body becomes dependent on nicotine, craving it uncontrollably. If smoking is stopped altogether, as is encouraged during the Great American Smokeout, a smoker will most definitely experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms include, but are not limited to drowsiness, lightheadedness, headache, muscle tremors, nausea, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, mood swings and difficulty concentrating.

To combat these physiological side effects, Foy recommends trying different drugs and finding the best combination for your body. Options include Chantix (which stops cravings in about three months), Zyban and nicotine replacement therapies.

“Different people find different things work better for them in their attempts to quit,” said Foy. “There is no one thing that is best for everyone”

I hope that if you are a smoker interested in quitting this article was helpful and I wish you the best of luck on that path (now if only I could quit running.).

Information for this Article was provided by Thomas F. Oltmanns and Robert E. Emery’s Abnormal Psychology text as well as Betsy Foy, MHS, CHES assistant director at Student Health Services and coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drug Programs for the Habif Health and Wellness Center.

Independence 101

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Meredith Plumley
Courtesy of Felix Hu

For most of us, college brings about some big changes. The majority of the campus consists of legal adults, and there are no parents watching over our shoulders.

Whether change involves letting our hair grow a couple of inches longer before trims or staying out later, college opens up lots of new opportunities to make our own decisions.

Some students use their newfound independence to join groups and try out a broad range of activities. Freshman Meghan Lewis did just that when she joined the Outing Club and helped plan a skydiving trip for the spring.

“It never worked out [for me] to do it in high school,” said Lewis. “You couldn’t really just drive off for the weekend and go skydiving. Here I can go with a group of people who have done it before.”

With all the different clubs and activities going on campus, there are bound to be chances to pursue exciting new experiences, and it’s tempting to take advantage of pre-planned excursions that don’t require parental permission.

“I’ll only tell my parents about it after I do it, otherwise they would flip out,” said Lewis. Indeed, for many students, the freedom from parental control allows them to sample pastimes that they would not have dared at home.

This freedom also allows kids to express their individuality without the necessity of obtaining a parent’s signature. Sophomore Felix Hu chose not to tell his parents about the tattoo he got after spring break his freshman year.

“I’m old enough to make my own decisions,” said Hu. “I don’t think they would care. They would probably be more mad that I don’t go to class and [mess] around all day.”

The tattoo, which Hu designed himself, reads “Life” on his left shoulder and “Death” on his right shoulder.

“I was bored at school. and I got creative” said Hu.

He later followed up his first tattoo with some more art on the right side of his chest, this time opting for the phrase “To those I love,” inked in Latin.

Freshman Jenni Klauder had a similar experience in getting her nose pierced. While she wanted to get her nose pierced in high school, her first chance occurred away form her parents’ eyes at college.

“I talked to them about it senior year and they said no,” said Klauder. “But this year I called them and told them I was going to do it.”

While initially upset, her parents realized that they were not completely in charge anymore.

“They told me they guessed I was an adult now,” said Klauder.

For many, freedom from parents is an important step in growing up.

For many people, a big change is the new availability of nightlife and alcohol. Whereas in high school parents could mandate a curfew and try to manage our time, at college we have the freedom to decide when to eat, study, workout and sleep.

However, with this freedom comes some big responsibilities. For many students, learning to navigate new opportunities and risks can end up seeming like an additional class.

Whether for good or bad, these moments where we explore the freedom of life as adults and try out our boundaries are the moments we will remember after college.

It is these exciting adventures that will help shape who we are and who we become later in life.

Pulse

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Josh Hantz

Friday, November 30

Battle of the Bands
The Gargoyle will be presenting the second annual Battle of the Bands with Victoria, winners of last year’s battle, headlining. Come out to hear the student bands play and compete for the chance to open for a national touring band. The doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:00 p.m.; the show is free for those with a University ID and there will be free beer for anyone over 21.

Taiwanese Student Association Eating Contest
Love to eat? TSO will be presenting a secret menu of traditional Taiwanese dishes. Indulge in all your gluttonous desires and compete for 1st and 2nd prizes of $35 and $15 Best Buy gift cards! There will be food available for those not competing as well. The event will take place from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Mudd Multi-purpose room.

Saturday, December 1

Wash. U. Dance Theatre 2007: rEvolutions
Washington University Dance Theatre 2007 presents rEvolutions. From historic works to that of the faculty’s own ongoing research and exploration, WUDT provides a unique spectrum of contemporary expression choreographed by professional resident and guest choreographers. There will be shows on Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office.

Heisei Sushi Workshop and Movie Night
Come learn how to make sushi from Japanese experts at an event hosted by the Japan Club. Following the food preparation, the club will be screening the movie “Train Man,” the film inspired by the phenomenal bestseller by Hitori Nakano that has taken Japan by storm. The sushi workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. and the screening at 7:00 p.m.; both will be held in Wheeler Lounge.

Sunday, December 2

Hillary Clinton in St. Louis
Presidential candidate and Senator Hillary Clinton will be in St. Louis for a campaign visit. She will be speaking at the Pageant (6161 Delmar) at 5:00pm. This will be Clinton’s last trip to St. Louis before the Iowa primaries, so if you want to hear her speak, now is the time! Student tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.hillaryclinton.com/stlouis.

Millennial generation more involved than ever before

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Ann Johnson

The “Millennial Generation,” which includes current college undergraduates, shows more inclination to participate in social and political activities.

A recent study which advanced this idea also posited that members of the Millennial Generation-people born between 1985 and 2005-are also neither highly individualistic nor highly cynical.

The study was recently published by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and followed 47 small focus groups of students from 12 universities around the nation, not including Washington University.

These groups were observed to ascertain how the student opinion toward politics. The results mirrored those of a 1993 study that found most members of Generation X-individuals born between 1964 and 1980-to be politically apathetic.

“[The focus groups] revealed a generation of college students who have a great deal of experience with volunteering and who believe in their obligation to work together with others on social issues,” read the CIRCLE study.

The study also found that students have complex attitudes towards politics. They crave authentic discussions about issues, but often feel they are overloaded with too much information and opinions to filter out reliable information by themselves.

According to CIRCLE’s findings, students dislike media bias, heavily confrontational debate styles and partisanship, due fear of being manipulated.

Do these qualities describe Washington University students?

Most of the assertions are too abstract to be tested, but one is quantifiable├é┬¬-the degree of the Millennial Generation’s involvement in political and social causes.

According to other CIRCLE research, 24.4% of youth with college experience aged 19-25 were actively volunteering in 2006. The information that they studied was from the Census Bureau, which covers the entire nation. At Washington University, volunteer rates are considerably higher. 57% of students participate in community service during college, and 24% of students participate during all four years.

Stephanie Kurtzman, director of the Community Service Office, agreed that surprisingly large numbers of students at the University wish to volunteer their time.

“[Student involvement] is through the roof,” said Kurtzman. “[They’re] doing it because they’re passionate about it, not because it’s a resume builder.”

She also noted that students care about making personal contact with those they help.

“There is that sense of hope and effectiveness that keeps people involved and keeps them going.”

Some socially oriented organizations are taking noticeable action. This year’s Dance Marathon broke attendance records and raised $40,000 more than last year. Green Action has also been active this semester, collecting more than 1,000 signatures for a petition calling for University-wide carbon neutrality and greater sustainability efforts on campus.

Student Union President Neil Patel foresaw a surge in student involvement in political groups as a result of hosting the Vice Presidential debates, along with 2008 being an election year.

“Next year will be a pinnacle,” predicted Patel. “It’s a trend that’s very dependent on the election cycle.”

Students are able and eager to volunteer their time. Freshman Jordan Aibel is no exception; Aibel is collaborating with a faculty member to form an environmental newsletter on campus.

“Coming here is a brand new opportunity to get involved. It’s a fresh start for everybody, so I figured I would take advantage of it,” said Aibel.

Along with his newsletter, Aibel is also helping one of his friends raise awareness about the Rowan University muggings.

A 19-year old sophomore was fatally attacked at Rowan University in New Jersey in late October; the apparently random attacks have stirred discussion about campus safety and brought the small university to the national stage.

“I feel like I’ve been very privileged in the way I’ve been brought up, and that I’m in a position to help a lot of people,” he said. “The onus is on me to do that.”

Donation campaign increases evaluation participation

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Aaron Weidman

Washington University has provided a major incentive for students to fill out their course evaluations. This semester, a donor will provide a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of greater St. Louis and Eastern Missouri for each student’s completed evaluation.

The campaign will donate one dollar for each evaluation filled out and that amount will increase to two dollars after 70 percent of the evaluations have been completed and five dollars after 80 percent of the evaluations have been completed.

As of November 29 at 1 p.m., $11,850 had been raised. Dean Henry Biggs, who organized the campaign, said that as of post-Thanksgiving break, evaluation participation was close to eighty percent. The figure is ten percentage points higher than that of the same time in the previous year.

“[The campaign] is about what Wash. U. is willing to do for people outside of the Wash. U. community and my sense is that students are really responding to that,” said Biggs.

Tying the course evaluations to a community service fundraiser has indeed caught students’ attention.

The School of Law has the highest completion percentage, followed by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Medical School and the University College in what Biggs termed “a very tight race.”

“I’m always the person who fills out my course evaluations at the very end of the semester,” said sophomore Ashley Johnson, who had already filled out her course evaluations. “Usually they have to send me a million e-mails to keep reminding me, but because the evaluations were tied to Big Brothers Big Sisters, I felt more inclined to do it sooner to help out.”

Likewise, junior Brandon Buyers said that, although he typically fills out his course evaluations regardlessly, the campaign captured his attention.

In past semesters, students had been offered extra credit as an incentive to fill out their evaluations. For example, students taking Introduction to Psychology this semester receive one extra point on their final exam for completing their course evaluation. However, the BBBS campaign seems to have had better results.

“The increased participation is amazing, truly,” said Biggs. “If the numbers continue to pick up, things could get even more expensive for the donor.”

The benefactor for the campaign has asked to remain anonymous so that the campaign focus remained on the community impact. Biggs said that the decision was made to donate the money to BBBS of Greater St. Louis and Eastern Missouri, rather than the on-campus BBBS program run through the Campus Y, so that the proceeds could extend beyond the University.

“The idea of [this campaign] is how you make an impact outside of the Washington University bubble, not just how we impact ourselves,” said Biggs, who added that the University chapter of BBBS will also benefit from proceeds that go towards the greater St. Louis chapter. “[The donations] are not really rippling, frankly, if the ripple doesn’t go beyond our property.”

Biggs hopes to have a BBBS check ceremony in January after the final course evaluation results are tabulated.

Middle East peace talks bring dialogue to campus

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Jeremy Rogoff
MCT

As Israeli and Palestinian leaders convened Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland to resume peace talks that had lain dormant for seven years, students on campus prepared to engage in their own dialogue about the prospect of solutions in the Middle East.

Members from Washington University’s Students for a Peaceful Palestinian Israeli Future (SPPIF), working with a national progressive Zionist group, initiated a “Day of Action” Wednesday to shed light on the Annapolis peace conference and to advocate for peaceful resolution in the region.

The group distributed informational flyers to passersby in Mallinckrodt Center, hoping to at least keep the Middle East conflict in the conscience of the University community, and at most to encourage students to speak out at a weekly meeting on the issue.

Some members wore Palestinian and Israeli flags on their backpacks as displays of solidarity.

“At the very least, 100 people glanced over the flyers,” said sophomore Robert Fares, president of SPPIF. “At least the next time those people read about [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] in the news, they’ll be able to say, ‘I know what that is.'”

Written on the flyers were topics typically considered “taboo” in reference to Israel, like the Palestinian refugee issue, Jerusalem, and the West Bank settlements.

“Nothing should be taboo in this debate,” said Fares, “and nothing is taboo for us.”

SPPIF, launched two years ago by students who wanted a forum for constructive and diverse-both ideologically and ethically-dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now has more than 20 loyal members and an executive board that teamed up with four other major universities-Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Maryland-to sponsor the “day of action.”

The day’s main purpose, according to Fares, was to raise awareness and show the community that optimism about the situation is not a feeling of the past.

“People are going to know that everyone’s not hopeless, and there’s a group that’s out there that believes in peace,” said Fares.

“Our goal for the day was simply to promote the peace conference and to challenge or combat the apathy,” said senior Aviva Joffe.

At the Annapolis conference, representatives from 46 countries-including 16 from the Middle East-began what peacemakers hope will be the first step towards sustainable solutions in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas committed to devise a peace treaty by the end of 2008, marking the first time in the Bush administration that the two sides formally sought an agreement.

As with every major decision regarding the Middle East, the conference itself was mired in controversy. Some criticized the Bush administration for hosting the talks after seven years of relative detachment from the issue, expressing skepticism over Bush’s genuine degree of interest.

Both the Israeli and Palestinian governments have called the meeting a significant step, but insist more pressure be applied to radical fundamentalists opposed to peace.

“The conference provided a mechanism for negotiation, and from that perspective Annapolis was a success,” said Andy David, a representative from the Israeli Consulate in Chicago. “It’s part of the responsibility of the international community to marginalize the radicals, like Hezbollah and Hamas. Both sides need to feel confident that their decisions will be supported.”

On campus, the prevailing view of SPPIF remained that any dialogue between the clashing countries was worthwhile.

“Something is better than nothing,” said Joffe. “After seven years of no action, you can’t expect anything huge or revolutionary. But you have to embrace the first step. The first step is crucial.”

Joffe, who, along with other concerned students, began SPPIF two years ago, has seen the organization evolve from a small discussion group into a major voice on campus.

“In two years, we’ve really established ourselves. Every semester we’ve had a big event that has attracted over 100 people,” said Joffe.

That event in the spring will feature Ari Sandel, writer and producer of the Oscar award-winning musical comedy “West Bank Story,” who will speak as a part of the Assembly Series in April.

SPPIF will host its weekly meeting this Monday in Danforth Seminar Room A at 8 p.m., and the Annapolis conference will be the topic of discussion.

Groups finding home for sexual assault coordinator

Friday, November 30th, 2007 | Andrea Winter
Scott Bressler

Students groups have not given up their fight for a coordinator of sexual assault and relationship violence prevention and support. Student Union welcomed the Committee on Sexual Assault (COSA) on Wednesday to update senators on their progress.

The COSA presenters included representatives from the Sexual Assault and Rape Anonymous Hotline (SARAH), the Committee Organized for Rape Education (CORE), and the all-male sexual assault education group One in Four.

“Within the last month, we’ve been getting down to the nitty-gritty,” said Lauren Keefer, co-president of CORE. “We’ve been working really closely with several people to get this done. It’s been really positive.”

COSA announced that it is currently compiling a binder that will include a copy of Student Union’s (SU) resolution in support of the position, a list of the University’s specific needs, information about how comparable universities have responded to this issue and personal letters from community members who are dealing with sexual assault or relationship violence.

Copies of the binder will be distributed to administrators at the beginning of next semester.

“We want to make sure that administrators are the first ones who are seeing this material,” said senior Lauren Bernstein, president of SARAH.

SU senator Grant Barbosa, a sophomore, compared the prospect of a sexual assault coordinator to the LGBT coordinator who was recently hired.

“Even in the first semester of transition, having a full time staff is almost immeasurable. Honestly, it’s completely different,” said Barbosa.

Following COSA’s presentation, many SU senators asked questions clarifying how exactly the position would change the University’s current response to sexual assault and relationship violence.

COSA stressed that even though the University already has a variety of resources such as the Washington University Police Department (WUPD), Student Health Services and several student groups, there is currently a lack of coordination among the groups.

Senior Dan Tilden, co-president of One in Four, said that because so much of sexual assault support and prevention is left to student groups, there tends to be a lack of continuity.

The Date, which constitutes the University’s greatest attempt to educate undergraduates on these issues, is currently completely student run.

“The problem with that is that from year to year we basically have to reinvent everything. People recycle every four years, the turnover just kills you [because you] are trying to look forward and create something new,” said Tilden.

SU President Neil Patel, a senior, agreed with Tilden.

He mentioned that unlike other universities, the University’s Women’s Resource Center was completely student-run.

The Women’s Resource Center is no longer extant, but Patel said that in his freshman year, he remembered that it was difficult to even locate on campus.

“When such critical issues are put completely on the backs of students you find a scene like that,” said Patel.

Senior Jeff Segal, a member of SARAH, raised the issue that the process of reporting a sexual assault to WUPD or to a Judicial Administrator can be intimidating-especially if survivors do not have a clear sense of what will be done with the information after it is reported.

“A survivor going through the judicial process has no advocate,” said Segal.

Toward the end of the discussion, Jill Carnaghi, assistant vice chancellor of students and director of campus life, made a comment prompting a discussion on the monetary component of the proposal.

“The resolution made a commitment to put money where your mouth is and to financially fund some part of this,” said Carnaghi. “Just so that everyone who is new understands, that was part of the resolution, and I think it’s an important and compelling piece.”

CORE members reported that they have had positive interactions with administrations and that they consider Alan Glass, director of health services, Karen Coburn, assistant vice chancellor for students, and James McLeod, vice chancellor of students, their allies.

“The issue now, we hope, is finding the position a home,” said Bernstein. “It’s trying to find the best place for the position, and having a complete job description. The position is a big deal. We want to make sure it’s done correctly.”