Archive for January, 2008

Multimedia: Chelsea Clinton at Kayak’s

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 | Photo Staff

On Monday, Jan. 28, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and former President Bill Clinton, hosted a town hall meeting at Kayak’s Coffee shop across the street from Wash. U. in which she answered questions about her mother’s presidential campaign.

To read more about the event, click here.

Recent Top Athletes

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 | Lucy Moore

Kyle Ota, Swimming and Diving

The junior led the men’s team by winning both the 50 and 500 yard freestyle events. Ota blazed a trail in 4:57.57 in the 500, finishing almost ten seconds ahead of his closest competitor. He also quickly cut through the water to take the 50 yard with a time of 22.31.

Meredith Nordbrock, Swimming and Diving

The senior contributed 18 points to the team’s victory on Friday against Principia College, winning the 50 and 500 yard freestyle. Nordbrock took the 50 yard narrowly by nine milliseconds while leaving others swimmers in her wake during the 500 yard with a red hot time of 5:10.45. The closest opponent finished over 20 seconds after Nordbrock had won.

Morgan Leonard-Fleckman, Track and Field

The senior vaulted over her previous school record of 3.51 meters in the pole vault event at the Rose-Hulman Engineer Invitational, with a 3.65 meter jump. Her jump surpassed the NCAA provisional mark.

Nate Koslof, Track and Field

Junior Nate Koslof set a blistering pace with a 2:00.37 win in the 800 meter run. Koslof was also part of the 4X400 meter relay team which defeated multiple teams.

Furry Fandom, plushophilia and sex

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 | Lucy Moore

All of you are familiar with Wikipedia. What about Wiktionary, the free content dictionary? Or TCCWiki, the online encyclopedia for drug information? Finally, what about WikiFur – “the free encyclopedia written for and by the furry community”?
The word “furry” might bring up several associations: hairy animals, something plush and soft, or even Johnny Drama from Entourage having sex in a bunny suit. Above all of this lies the furry community, the group of people who run WikiFur and who could also be involved with several different activities and interests under the phrase “furry fandom.”

While I will be talking about the sexual aspects of this group, I must quickly debunk the myth (brought on by pop culture moments like those in Entourage or Vanity Fair) that furries are simply humans that share a fetish for engaging in animalistic sexual behaviors, or wanting to only have sexual relations in an animal costume (fur suit). On the contrary, to be in the furry fandom is purely to take an interest in anthropomorphized animals: either to study them, to draw them, to go to conventions and/or parties honoring or role-playing them. As defined by, a community forum organized to discuss all things related to furries and maintained by Jordan Greywolf, a furry is “a) An animal-like character known as a ‘furry’ or b) a person who is a ‘furry fan.'” further defines furries and furry fandom (or furrydom, for short) as “In general, the discussion of artwork or fiction (including movies, TV series, game systems, novels, illustrations, etc.) involving ‘furry’ subjects, theorizing about ‘furry creatures.'”

Furries come from everywhere in the world-represented on the Internet by millions of different forums. Some are LiveJournal communities like “Christian Furs” or “West Coast Furs,” offering a common space for furries to discuss their interests, much like those heavily interested in anime or World of Warcraft. However, within these communities, there are many members who are sexually involved in the furr-osity: those who feel so close to their furry animal that they express themselves physically and mentally in the context of their animal.

One Wash U. senior, who preferred to remain anonymous (and will be referred to here as “Liz”), dated a man who turned out to be a furry. He connected himself with a hedgehog similar to Sonic of Sega Genesis fame. While many websites discussing furries make it clear that not all furries are sexually inclined, Liz says that “Sonic” surrounded himself with friends who were all part of the furry community, and they all engaged in furry sexual activity. While first looking at furry porn, predominantly fantasized illustrations of different anthropomorphic animals engaged in sex acts, he then went on to ask her to “call him super Sonic in bed” and explained his angry behavior by saying “his spikes were out.” One woman friend of his, known for her sexual furry side, called herself “Dragonwolf” and, as Liz confides, “treated me like a leper when I wouldn’t believe I was a housecat [her associated animal according to Sonic].”

Sonic, Dragonwolf and their other furry friends believe that to find your personal animal (hedgehog, dragon-wolf hybrid, squirrel, etc.), a sort of soul-searching is involved, including online personality quizzes and a personal (fursonal) inclination towards a particular animal. Once one finds his or her animal, this becomes a second identity, often blended together with the human identity. Some furries find their interest in becoming a baby animal, and these are called diaper furries. These furries wear diapers in addition to a fur suit and many engage in sexual parties where they act like baby animals, including the uncontrolled excretions that go with that identity.

While some of this may seem surprising, or even too out of the ordinary to understand, it is important to remember that an association or love for something more plush or animal-like (plushophilia) is similar to being attracted to a movie character, or even adoring the personality of a cartoon. For example, if you really loved Freddie Prinze Jr.’s character in She’s All That, and you secretly wanted to be with him and put pictures of him in your locker, then maybe you can understand furry love and furry fandom. While some furries take it to the next level and make it a reality, it can be also be a casual interest like any other.

For more information on the vast and well-covered topic of furries, furry fandom, and plushophilia, please visit:

Reporter’s Notebook: Feminisms of an ‘antifeminist’

Thursday, January 31st, 2008 | Min Wang

The title of the lecture on Tuesday night was ‘What is Wrong (and Right) with Feminism.’ The Brian Cave Courtroom of the Anheuser-Busch Law School buzzed as students waited for the speaker to begin. Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and author of Who Stole Feminism? was about to take the floor.

If the audience was expecting a speech about the oppression of women, they would certainly be in for a surprise. An emphatic critic of mainstream feminism and an advocate for gender equality, Dr. Hoff Sommers is what many have called an ‘antifeminist’.

“I am not a backlasher,” she says, “I am not an anti-woman. I am a philosophy professor who has respect for clear thinking and logic.”

Her message is controversial. American women are not oppressed, she claims, but already the most free in the world. She does not bother to hide her contempt for what she calls the vilifying of men by the field of Women’s Studies. While some men are violent and destructive she concedes, most men are not the bullies and oppressors that Feminists paint them out to be. In fact, she argues, confusing the majority of men for Neanderthals is blatant sexism.

Dr. Hoff Sommers expresses her disgust at the misinformation and propaganda that is rampant in Women’s Studies; she calls the belief that American women are oppressed by men “victim feminism”. She herself advocates “equity feminism”, which insists on equality for both men and women.

“Are things perfect [for women]? No, they’re not. But they’re not perfect for men either.”

While passionate and vociferous against the vilifying of men and the over-exaggeration of the plights of women, Dr. Hoff Sommers agrees that some women are horribly treated by men and do deserve justice and protection. However, she maintains, in general-at least here in the United States-things are hardly as bad as that.

Dr. Hoff Sommers suggested that students of Women’s Studies check statistics with regards to various issues, think critically about male-bashing, accept the fact that men and women are different and subscribe to equity feminism.

Men’s hoops regains Number 1 ranking

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | Andrei Berman

With its Sunday afternoon road victory over then-No.2 Brandeis, the Washington University men’s basketball team finds itself in a familiar position: number one in the nation.

The weekly Top 25 poll, released Monday evening, rewarded the Bears for their two road wins last weekend over New York University and Brandeis. Wash. U. received 11 out of a possible 25 first place votes in the Web site’s tenth poll of the 2007-2008 campaign. It is the 14th time in the poll’s nine year history that Wash. U. has held the top spot.

Having returned four starters from a squad which reached last year’s Division III Final Four, Wash. U. earned the nation’s number one ranking in the website’s pre-season poll, but a loss to Calvin College on the first weekend of the regular season dropped the Red and Green from the top spot.

The season-ending injury of All-American point guard Sean Wallis three days later had prognosticators doubting Wash. U.’s post-season chances and a loss to Augustana College on Nov. 24 only helped confirm such suspicions. The Bears fell to eighth in the first regular season poll and later dropped to 12th.

But Wash. U. has yet to lose a game since the Augustana setback, having run off 12 straight wins, including their first five league contests. The Bears are the only UAA team to open the grueling league schedule undefeated, since previously undefeated and national number one Rochester was shocked in overtime by an upset-minded Emory team last Friday in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets slipped two places in this week’s poll to No.3. Brandeis, who, in addition to losing to Wash. U. was stunned at home by the University of Chicago last Friday, fell all the way to ninth in the poll.

The UAA is the only conference in Division III with more than one member school holding a spot in the national top ten.

Ironically, the Bears’ next game is against last week’s No. 1 team and current No. 3, Rochester. Tip off is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time in upstate New York. Regardless of Friday’s result, Wash. U. will get another crack at Rochester the following weekend when the Yellow Jackets come to St. Louis for an early-afternoon affair on Sunday, Feb. 10 at the Field House.

Should Wash. U. be defeated on Friday, Rochester would likely regain its number one ranking and Wash. U. would almost assuredly not fall past third in the poll. The chance of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up in the Field House a week from Sunday looms as a legitimate possibility.

Sad that you can’t go to New York this weekend to watch the basketball teams battle highly ranked UAA foe University of Rochester? Go to where you can link to live stats, a live radio broadcast and a live telecast to stay up to the minute on all the action.

Washington University softball players help Team USA win gold

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | Brittany Bernacchi
Courtesy of Caitlyn Hoffman

While many people vacationed and unwound over winter break, senior Karli Stander and sophomore Caitlyn Hoffman won gold medals playing softball for Team USA in the 11th annual Pan American Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Maccabi World Union dedicates itself to providing a means for Jewish educational, cultural, social and athletic activities.

Stander and Hoffman joined Washington University graduates Jamie Kressel and Monica Hanono on Team USA, along with other college students, college graduates and high school students from around the country.

Although the team beat host country Argentina 6-0 in the final game, the beginning of the tournament was rocky. The team played together for the first time just before the tournament, and the team lost its opener to Israel 6-1.

“It’s hard to bring a group of girls together who have been coached by so many different people and blend them into one in a very short time,” explained Hoffman.

Even though the team’s first game did not fare well, its second game began a turnaround, as Team USA defeated Argentina 6-0.

“Once we realized that we’re here to have fun, not to necessarily win, we started playing much better,” added Hoffman.

Both Stander and Hoffman described the tournament as a very unique experience.

“International play was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Usually, we can talk to the umpires and hear what the other team is saying,” recalled Stander.

In this tournament, however, both the team’s opponents and umpires were speaking different languages. The atmosphere was also very different since softball players could see the Mexico and Brazil teams playing soccer on an adjacent field.

Another unique aspect of the tournament was its atmosphere. Hoffman added that the tournament was, “the most friendly competition I’ve ever been a part of.”

Despite the friendly atmosphere, both girls agreed that the championship game against Argentina was very intense, even though Team USA had beaten Argentina twice in the tournament’s earlier rounds.

Since Argentina was the host country, their team had many more supporters in the final game. However, all of the USA male players came to cheer for the women, leveling the playing field slightly.

Unfortunately, Hoffman injured her hamstring early in the tournament and could not play in the championship game.

“Every time someone would make a play or get a strikeout, the crowd would go crazy. Every play was a huge rush. The way the stands were set up, the fans were right around our dugout, so you weren’t just returning to your team. Fans were very close and loud and intense. They’d all cheer when you’d come back to the dugout,” Stander remembered.

Stander’s most memorable moment of the championship game was when she scored her first run after having been stranded on third two times before.

“Someone hit a dribbler to shortstop, and when she threw it to first base, I ran for home. [There was] a big play at the plate, [and] I made a diving slide, and people were going crazy,” said Stander.

Wash. U. players had many shining moments throughout the tournament, and Stander earned the Offensive Most Valuable Player award while Kressel garnered the Most Valuable Player of the tournament award

Wash. U.’s presence throughout the entire tournament was strong.

“By the end of the tournament, we had [Team USA] yelling, ‘Yeah Bears!'” added Stander.

Alternative spring breaks, alternative fun

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | Lana Goldsmith
Courtesy of Mark Kieffer

Spring break is on its way. This nine-day vacation has always been thought of as a highlight of the collegiate experience. The first thoughts that come to mind are probably beaches, bathing suits and generally bumming around.

But some Wash. U. students have decided to go with alternative spring break plans that are not your typical week of fun in the sun. These students have found ways to make a difference over break and to have a great time doing it.

Junior Tammy Balick is taking her week of vacation and running with it-all the way to Madagascar. This semester, she has been participating in a program called the Madagascar Community Development and Problem Solving Initiative, a community service project to help raise the standard of living of the people in the Mahabo village of Madagascar. Come spring break, she will take two weeks to travel to the village and implement several programs there, with the help of program founders at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Primarily, Balick’s group will be working with the Blessing Basket project, which is designed to give women weaving jobs. While in Madagascar, Balick will be conducting interviews to see if the project she worked on all semester was successful in improving the villagers’ standards of living. She is particularly interested to see if there will be a transfer of power in this traditionally patriarchal society because women in this project are now the ones earning the wages.

For Balick, this alternative spring break promises several benefits.

“It’s basically international consulting, which might be a long-term life goal of mine,” she said.

She added that she has always had a fascination with Africa and a love of travel, so this was the perfect destination for her spring break. A 36-hour plane ride and six inoculations didn’t daunt her at all.

“It’s nice to be cut off and immersed in a different culture,” said Balick.

Many other students have also traveled to participate in service trips for past spring breaks. Two years ago, just after Hurricane Katrina, junior Mark Kieffer decided to spend his break volunteering with Overflow, a religious student group on campus.

The group drove from St. Louis to New Orleans, where they were housed for free in a previously flooded hotel that was open only for volunteers. Kieffer and fellow volunteers were responsible for gutting houses so that they could be rebuilt. The process of gutting houses is expensive, so his team’s work was a sizeable relief for the homeowners-and it also proved to be a stress reliever for Kieffer and other volunteers.

“You’re destroying something to make it better,” he said, adding that taking a sledgehammer to a wall can be very relaxing.

A homeowner showed her gratitude to the volunteers in one of the few ways she could: by cooking a meal for them.

Not only did the trip provide a chance for students to do community service, it was also a means by which they could experience the city and culture of New Orleans during their time off. Kieffer described his search for some good jazz music, one of the city’s claims to fame.

“Downtown [New Orleans] was cool,” said Kieffer. “You got a feeling for how beautiful it was.”

Sophomore Danielle Hayes has been on a number of service trips in the past, including a student-run Campus Y trip last spring break to Belize that was focused on ecotourism. She noticed the tension there between ecological interests and the well-being of the people who lived there.

“There’s a lot of complexities that you don’t see until you’re there,” said Hayes.

For this spring break, Hayes is the program leader for a Campus Y service trip to a Native American reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. There, the group will be teaming up with other volunteers, and their task will be to make bunk beds for children at the reservation.

Hayes finds that these service trips provide a great way to learn about herself and about a new place.

“I’m interested in hearing the real story,” she said with regard to life on a Native American reservation.

Additionally, she feels these trips are a great way to do something productive in her free time and meet great people along the way.

“Those four weeks [of past service trips] were some of the best weeks of my life,” said Hayes.

I once had a discussion with a teaching assistant about whether or not people-and particularly students at Wash. U.-have a social obligation to give back to their communities. Whether or not you believe we should, it’s something worth considering while you still have the luxury of free time. You can’t change the world in a week, but you can do something meaningful and still have a great time.

As Hayes said, “You come back inspired.”

In contrast to 2004, students campaign actively in 2008

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | Emily Wasserman
Scott Bressler

Looking around at the campaign trail in the 2008 election, one cannot help but notice marked differences from previous elections.

Instead of the impassioned doctor Howard Dean challenging the staid Massachusetts senator John Kerry, an African-American senator is competing with a former first lady and fellow senator for the Democratic nomination. And rather than a politically inactive youth demographic, this election students across the country are becoming more involved than ever before, and the 2008 presidential candidates are relying on their energetic support.

“We are brimming with optimism and excitement at the fact that it is us who are choosing the next president of the United States. This year is something unique in that we’re not voting against someone, we’re voting for something: an idea and a platform much bigger than any one person,” said senior Matt Adler, one of the leaders of the Washington University chapter of Students for Barack Obama (SFBO).

From the beginning of 2007 when bids for the candidacy were emerging, students were already being enlisted to help with the various campaigns. As early as March 2007, Republican candidate Mitt Romney offered “Students for Mitt” a 10 percent commission on any fundraising they accomplished over $1,000.

“[This offer is] for the kids that want to get involved in a political campaign and they don’t want to spend their summer painting houses,” said Romney spokesman Kevin Modden in a March 27, 2007 MSNBC article.

Democratic candidates have also made significant efforts toward enlisting youth support, with and without monetary reimbursement. Especially for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the 17 to 24 age bracket is both crucial and sought after. According to a Jan. 23 issue of The Politico, 57 percent of Democratic voters in Iowa between the ages of 17 and 24 support Barack Obama.

At such a close margin, however, the race for the Democratic nomination is what sophomore Annie Rushman refers to as “anyone’s game.”

On the University’s campus, and even in the dorms, one is bombarded with press, paraphernalia and propaganda for the various candidates. Because of the University student body’s overwhelmingly liberal leanings, as the recent Student Life campus political poll indicates, an especially large group has come together to support Barack Obama for the democratic nomination.

Like many other liberals on the University’s campus, Adler said he initially was not sure which candidate he wanted to support.

“I wasn’t sure who I was going to support before [winter break], but when I saw that the race was so close and that Obama really needed my support, I stepped forward and starting making calls for the campaign from my home to college students in Iowa,” said Adler.

Adler and his fellow students have banded together to form a sort of political powerhouse on campus, and his passion for the Obama campaign is similar to that of many other students at the University as well as throughout the nation.

“We’re savvy, smart and sophisticated, and Barack Obama has valued us since day one, not just since other politicos started realizing our generation was voting in numbers unheard of for decades,” said Adler.

Even though the conservative side of the campaign has appeared far more muted on the University campus, President of the College Republicans Charis Fischer said she still sees considerable potential for Republican student involvement.

“I don’t think it’s harder for Republican students to get involved, but for some it may be intimidating. It can be a challenge to put yourself out there in the face of so many students and professors who disagree with your views, but in my opinion it’s always worth it. I think most Republican students are actually excited about the opportunity to challenge the liberal politics that dominate this campus,” said Fischer.

On both sides of the political spectrum, from liberal to conservative, many campaigning activities remain the same. Besides researching a candidate to support on the Internet, canvassing, phone banking and coordinating activities all provide easy outlets into the campaign trail.

Rushman spends many of her extracurricular hours campaigning for Hillary Clinton, and acts as one of the main liaisons between Clinton and the Washington University campus. Even though the students for Barack Obama seem to have more visible campus presence, Rushman said she believes that this has to do with the timing and coordination of the campaigning.

“Hillary’s office in St. Louis just opened over winter break, and field organizers and press directors have come from New Hampshire to increase the student involvement. The race is still open: there’s no right or wrong way to get involved,” said Rushman.

Rushman also said the Hillary campaign on campus will begin tabling the week of Jan. 28, and the end of primaries will provide a bigger presence from the Clinton campaign.

Also, Fischer mentioned ways for conservative students to become more involved in the campaigning. While the College Republicans do not endorse any one candidate at the moment, Fischer said, “Once the nominee is chosen, (the College Republicans) will be very active in doing what we can to help them get elected. At that point we will welcome any volunteers who would like to contribute their time.”

Police Beat

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | Ann Johnson

Wednesday, Jan. 23

10:11 a.m. INFORMATIONAL REPORT-OFF-CAMPUS-Student reports she was threatened by a subject on MetroLink. Student got off without incident. Disposition: Under investigation.

6:39 p.m. LARCENY-MALLINCKRODT-Report of credit cards stolen from the dressing room in the lower level of Mallinckrodt. Items were unsecured from 1800-2000 hours on the 21st. Disposition: Pending.

Thursday, Jan. 24

9:35 a.m. LARCENY-EADS HALL-Teaching Center staff member reported the theft of a black HP laptop computer from a rolling cart in Eads 112. Theft occurred sometime between 12-21-07 and 1-22-08. Total loss value of $2200. Disposition: Pending.

4:14 p.m. PROPERTY DAMAGE-KOENIG DORM-Complainant reported that his bike was on the bike rack located on the northside of Wohl Garage. between 12-17-07 1500 and 1-17-08 1600 hours. On 1/17, he discovered that the lock would not work and looked as if someone had damaged the krypotonite lock. Disposition: Pending.

Saturday, Jan. 26

12:53 a.m. FIREWORKS-SHEPLEY DORM-Several subjects reported as firing fireworks outside of Shepley Dorm. Disposition: Referred to JA.

Tuesday, Jan. 29

1:11 a.m. WARRANT ARREST-OLIN-Security reports several suspicious individuals looking at porn in the library. A check of the individuals revealed two of them to have numerous wants/wanteds. Disposition: Cleared by arrest.

Students connect on religious diversity

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 | Ann Johnson

A recent town hall-style forum in MacMillan Café open to all students explored the topic of religious diversity.

The Jan. 22 event, called “Connect4 Town Hall: A Different Kind Of Conversation about Religious Diversity,” was co-hosted by Connect4, a student group led by sophomore Fernando Cutz and was devoted to giving Washington University students a safe place to talk about their differences, and Interfaith Youth Core, a religious diversity group not affiliated with Washington University.

Connect4 is the newest incarnation of the Student Diversity Initiative, which Cutz started in response to personal experiences with intolerance. The Student Diversity Initiative recently merged with Campus Week of Dialogue to form Connect4.

“[Before SDI] there was nowhere on campus where you could go to express these things,” said Cutz. “People assume Wash. U. is this perfect place, but there was nowhere to go to make it better.”

The Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a nationwide group dedicated to helping young people build “religious diversity and pluralism.” The group defines pluralism as “not diversity, but engaging that diversity.”

Representatives from IFYC structured the evening, which started with a look at how religion is portrayed in the media.

First, attendees were shown the trailer for “God’s Warriors,” a CNN special on Christianity, Judaism and Islam and were asked to analyze critically how religions were being portrayed.

Then, the IFYC showed the trailer for a short film called “Exchange,” which follows a group of young people from the United States and from Jordan exchanging places.

This led to a discussion of the religious environment on campus. Students were given an open floor to address religious issues, “no matter how extreme,” said Hind Makki, a member of the IFYC.

Students from around the room began talking about being tolerated and about feeling sidelined. Freshman Aaron Samuels said that he felt pressure to “be definitive in what [he] believed.” He felt one had pressure to “stake [one’s] claim in a religion or mark [one’s self] as an atheist.”

Senior Michael Morgan, another student, talked about how he had faced misconceptions about his religion many times, even in classes. As a Christian Scientist, he said he often dealt with people who assumed he was a Scientologist or that his religion was not compatible with the theory of evolution. Once, he said a professor taught in a class that Christian Scientists were not allowed to receive blood transfusions, because they considered it to be “eating blood,” which is not true.

“It’s difficult to feel like a one-man army,” said Morgan during the town hall. “It’s really difficult to start discussions with people, but once I do they’re really interested.”

Senior Frank Bergh, an RA for Lee 3, talked about not being sure of how to start a conversation with his residents about religion without offending or alienating them, a topic that interested several others as well.

“Freshman floors are the most diverse communities on our campus by far. These [religious] conversations are what will really propel people to be diverse later in life,” said Bergh.

Frank also said that he’d had difficulty with starting conversations in the past, and shared that he’d received one RA evaluation that had the comment “Too religious for my tastes.”

Cutz stressed the importance of having a place to be open with complaints.

Connect4 has many other ideas for raising student awareness about issues of social justice; the group is planning a socioeconomic diversity event and has tentatively planned a large service project involving all service groups at Wash. U., to take place some time in April.

Cutz counted the town hall on religious diversity a success.

“I thought people were able to express themselves in a supportive environment where we could all learn from each other,” said Cutz. “I look forward to more dialogue on campus.”