The thunder of drums and the syncopated chant of voices echoed through Eliot Chapel last month when traditional dancers swept a captivated audience of students and faculty into a culture, a community--even a world--often overlooked by those outside of it: the Native American community.
The dance introduced Reed's fifth annual Vine Deloria lecture, a panel discussion titled "Making the Visible Invisible," referring to the striking fact that Portland has the ninth largest Native American population in the United States, including more than 20,000 residents drawn from 380 different tribes, according to a recent report titled "The Native American Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile," released by the Coalition of Communities of Color and PSU.The panel discussion served as a powerful counterpoint to the energy and brightness of the dance, and presented a sobering portrait of prejudice, racism, and repeated attempts by mainstream culture to define Indians out of existence.
A six pack of beer as payment for a lesson in how to ride a tall bike? This was the confession made by Marshall Allman, the lead actor in Blue Like Jazz, at an advance screening of this independent film at Reed on Wednesday night (the movie opens around the country today). The preview for students, staff, and faculty included a Q&A at which we learned about Allman's preparation for his role as Don Miller, a person of faith who finds his way from being dogmatic to authentic during his time at Reed College. The character of Don was based upon some real-life experiences of author Don Miller, who audited Hum 110 at Reed and then stuck around as adviser to the student group "Oh, for Christ's Sake!" for a couple of years; he went on to include his Reed interlude in his spiritual memoir, Blue Like Jazz (2003), upon which the film is loosely based. Don was present at the Q&A, along with the director, Steve Taylor, and three of the actors (Allman, Tania Raymonde, and Justin Welborn); they were a genial group and even encouraged the Reed crowd to indulge in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 viewing of it.
Reedies for Somalia held a fundraiser to help relieve the destructive famine ravishing the east African nation at Kaul auditorium last weekend, drawing roughly 100 supporters.
"Famine is declared when 2 in 10,000 people die each day," said Hamayoun Jamali, a representative of Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), who just returned from relief work in Africa. "In Somalia up to 15 children out of 10,000 die every day." He also said that even a few dollars could make a huge difference to the ongoing human disaster. For example, it costs $71 to support an average Somali family of seven or eight for an entire month.
With the flowering of the cherry trees on Eliot Circle comes the notice of the spring crop of student awards and fellowships. We salute the following Reed students for their scholarship, dedication and inventiveness.
Davis Projects for Peace
Two seniors in biochemistry and molecular biology, Gabe Butterfield '12 of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, and Michael Gonzales '12 of Round Rock, Texas, have designed a grassroots project in Nicaragua this summer for Davis Projects for Peace.
"Reed jus ah stress mi out…and that means reed is stressing me out," said Shanee Harriot '15 setting off the audience into splits of laughter. Shanee's Jamaican-English creole routine was only one of the performances that delighted the audience at the International Festival, held on April 1. There were no stand up acts but Shanee made sure that everyone at the SU that afternon had a good laugh, "jah know ah weh mi ah go do fi get dis ya work done, mi salt to bauxide!" (Oh my God what am I going to do to get this work done? I'm screwed!)
International Festival, organized by the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) is an annual celebration of Reed's cultural diversity. The center of the festival was the student union, which had vibrant flags of all the countries represented at Reed draped across its rafters. "I didn't know Reed had students from so many countries," remarked one observer who dropped into the SU because he heard music and laughter streaming out. That was exactly one of the reasons why ISAB was eager to promote the presence of the 116 international students from 35 nations at Reed by having everyone share a piece of their culture.
Reed has a long tradition of humanitarian activism. In the 1930s students picketed a Nazi ship docked in Portland harbor. In the 1980s students took over Eliot Hall to protest apartheid in South Africa. Students and alumni are engaged in humanitarian efforts across the globe, such as Namaste Kathmandu, founded by alumni, which provides relief to families devastated by the civil war in Nepal.
An exciting upcoming event promises to follow in these noble footsteps. Last semester Erica Maranowski '15 formed a student group, Reedies for Somalia, to raise funds to fight the famine in Somalia, labeled by the United Nations to be the most acute hunger crisis in the world.
The NCAA has nothing on Reed's March Madness, which showcased fierce players, close games, and an overtime nail-biter that ultimately yielded victory last week for the Older Griffs (OGs), the elder half of the Fighting Griffins. Each spring Reed hosts its own version of March Madness. For one glorious evening, students, faculty, staff, and alumni play in a single-elimination basketball tournament. The teams are a combination of amateurs, serious amateurs, less-serious amateurs, old amateurs, and croquet enthusiasts who mistakenly wandered onto the wrong court.
The tourney got off to a quick start with the first game, between the Leftovers, composed of professors, staff, and alumni, and the Title 9ers, a women's team with two "token males." Bruce Smith, associate dean of student services, had a sweet steal for the Leftovers, and, as he launched into a breakaway, teammate Scott "Travis" Grice '90 yelled, "take it slow, you're old." Though the Leftovers had a few years on the 9ers, they were genuine competitors and it was a hardscrabble match. It was nice to see the friendly faces of former faculty members like Eddie Cushman, Randy Hicks, and Chris Zinn, alongside current staff members like Bruce and Dan Hyde, maintenance specialist, not to mention my colleagues in college relations, Kevin Myers and Jeff Wright. The 9ers team made a great run and banked some impressive shots, yet the power of age and wisdom won out 28 to 14.
Who needs credit cards when you have a junior vagina? read one of the slides in Samhita Mukhopadhyay's talk, arranged by the Multicultural Resource Center on March 21. Mukhopadhyay, who is the executive editor of feministing.com, emphasized in her stirring talk why feminism is still needed in today's world.
She highlighted the case of the panties sold in Walmart's junior section with the phrase "Who needs credit cards . . ." printed on the crotch and "when you have Santa" on the derriere. After spotting the undergarments in the juniors department of a Walmart in Cary, North Carolina, a horrified reader alerted the blog, which broke the story, triggering an uproar from parents that ultimately forced Walmart to pull the offensive underpants from shopping aisles.
"The message broadcast to adolescent girls was that they don't need to worry about finances since they have their very own moneypot between their legs," said Mukhopadhyay.
Love, loss, and lunacy forged a powerful combination in the Eliot Hall chapel this semester with a production of The Balance, directed by Elizabeth Dinkova '13 and written with Jane Doerflinger '13.
The play is adapted from Hans Christen Andersen's fairytale "The Story of a Mother," interwoven with the eerie ramblings of a patient in a lunatic asylum. Although Andersen is most famous for his children's stories such as "The Little Mermaid" and "The Ugly Duckling," many of his characters are dark and complex and seldom enjoy happy endings.
Spring is sprung, the cherry trees in Eliot Circle are blooming, and Reed is gripped—gripped, we say—by March Madness. We refer not, of course, to the obscure proceedings of the NCAA but rather to the world-famous 24th annual Reed Basketball Tournament, held Friday, March 23, at the Watzek Sports Center.
No fewer than eight teams have registered for the prestigious tournament this year. Here's the bracket:
Title IXers vs Leftovers
Amateurs vs Lil Grifs
Right Bank vs Ya B-Ballers
Beserk vs OGs
At Reed's first-ever Working Weekend, it all came together for Gabriel Forsythe-Korzeniewicz '12, an economics senior. The career-focused event, which was held February 3-5, was designed to help students and newer alumni get a jump-start on internships, contacts, and careers. Alumni organized and led panels in 10 different subject areas and participated in a three-day StartUp Lab, where they served as entrepreneurs and led teams of students through the presentation and marketing of their original ideas to investors. On Sunday, the Lab culminated with final pitches to a live panel of Angel, Venture Capital, and Incubator investors.
Gabriel, whose brother has Down syndrome and is a self-advocate in their hometown in Maryland, has always been very active in the disability community. In high school, Gabriel mentored disabled kids and volunteered during his junior summer at Reed with the Northwest Down Syndrome Association in Portland. He also won the prestigious McGill Lawrence Internship award in 2011 and used it to work for the Autism Centre in Accra, Ghana. He has been focusing his academics on disability related themes besides doing other non-profit work related to disability outreach in Portland.
Professor Loury did not mince words in stating his thesis that while President Barack Obama's ascent to the Oval Office is historically significant, it is by no means the fulfillment of Martin Luther King Jr's legacy as a social critic and moral witness. He is skeptical of such claims because he thinks it is foolish and unrealistic for us to expect that Obama is on a "sacred mission of prophetic criticism." Though Obama the candidate rose up from a background of good works and activist sensibilities, Obama the president has little leverage for creating change when sustaining forward progress (e.g., "profits for the shareholders") is his primary charge. The role of commander-in-chief-must be viewed pragmatically; the office has its own imperatives, Loury maintains, one of them being the advancement of "the great imperial project" that is US government. He suggests that Obama is aware of the imperfections of democracy and that taking a stand on issues of racial inequality and poverty, as he did with conviction on the campaign trail, is no longer an option.
Two semesters ago, I was DJ at KRRC. Broadcast on Friday afternoons, "Get Naked Radio"--a showcase of electronic dance music that my friends and I put together every week--was slotted between several hours of dead air. This came as a bit of a surprise to us, as we initially believed Friday afternoons, sandwiched between my last class in Eliot Hall and dinner at Commons--was "prime time" for KRRC. Right.
As the semester unfolded, we began to grasp the hard truth that no one was listening. Even on days when the transmitter was functioning properly, our broadcasting radius barely extended beyond the library. And those who would hypothetically listen to Get Naked Radio--our friends--were usually sitting on the beat-up couches strewn across the radio station.
So I was sad but hardly surprised when KRRC terminated its 100-watt terrestrial broadcast last year. In fact, November 30, 2011 marked the last day that KRRC broadcast on the FM dial. Reed has since donated its FM license to the non-profit grassroots group Common Frequency.The move came at the heels of a year-long saga that ultimately ended in KRRC losing its frequency (97.9) to KRNQ, a commercial alternative rock station owned by Cumulus Media. This was the third time KRRC had been bumped from its frequency by a commercial station. (For context: commercial stations can essentially "overtake" KRRC's frequency because of their high power broadcasting license. KRRC's broadcasting license, a secondary-service license phased out by the FCC in 1978, only allows for a broadcast radius the size of campus, if not smaller.)
Elizabeth Honor Wilder '11 has won a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, recognizing exceptional academic achievement and the capacity for leadership.
The award will allow Elizabeth to spend a year at Cambridge pursuing Victorian ideas about wardship, education, the family, and the individual.
John Pock, emeritus professor of sociology, passed away at the age of 86 on Saturday, February 18. A long-time member of the Reed community, he served as a faculty member of the sociology department from 1955 to 1998.
John came to Reed College from the University of Illinois, where he earned his PhD and taught for several years. Though he had been hired to teach at Reed for only one year, he stayed on, delighted to work with undergraduates who behaved like students in graduate seminars.
Chem major Paul Whittredge '12 (right, black vest) shattered a longstanding Reed track record on Saturday, running two miles in 10:21.7 seconds, and demolishing the previous time, which had stood since 1956, by almost 17 seconds. His training partner, Jack Flowers '15, also beat the old record, finishing just four seconds behind Paul.
With the mercury reading a brisk 45 F, and the sky the texture of a wet towel, the two runners set off at noon on the track at Cleveland High School. (Unfortunately, the old Reed track that used to encircle the tennis courts is no more.) The official timekeeper was professor David Latimer [physics 2010-]; the cheering section included running enthusiast Johnny Powell [physics 1987-] and a representative of the fourth estate. The small turnout was no accident-- Paul did not want a lot of pomp and ceremony for the occasion. "I was feeling really anxious about it over the last several days," he admitted. "But when I woke up this morning I felt awesome."
Given Reed's proud tradition of intellectual fellowship between students and faculty, it seems only fitting that two professors chose to commemorate our centennial by honoring the careers of an amazing group of alumni. To coincide with Reed's big centennial bash, Roger Porter [English 1961-] and Robert Reynolds [physics 1963-2008] have put together Thinking Reed: Centennial Essays by Graduates of Reed College, available from Reed's bookstore for $19.95.
"Our graduates have carried something of the college with them wherever they've gone," write Roger and Robert in their introduction to the collection, "Reed is known to the world largely because of them."
"Today's dissonance in music and painting is merely the consonance of tomorrow," wrote Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky in a 1913 letter to Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. At the dawn of the 20th century, artists like Kandinsky and Schoenberg broke free from the norms of their medium--and subsequently, their era--by creating music and art that was atonal and abstract. But one year later, the entire movement was uprooted, and the daring avant-garde was replaced by the traditionalism of yesteryear.
What explains this artistic retreat? The Great War, according to author and musicologist Olivia Mattis, who visited campus Saturday as part of ROMP (Reediana Omnibus Musica Philosopha), Reed's annual symposium on music and the liberal arts. "The high modernism of the pre-World War I avant-garde was displaced" after the war, said Mattis. "War called for a return to traditional values."
Reed's first students embarked on their college career during a period in Western music as momentous as any, with the crumbling of systems of form and harmony, influences from far beyond Europe, and an impending flood of new genres that would soon push the old ones into side channels and backwaters. It was ever thus, you could argue, but like the political upheavals going on at the time, the transformation put paid to the past in radical fashion and set the course for the last century right up to now.
Good news. The women's rugby team is alive and well and planning its first home game of the season against Lewis & Clark tomorrow.
Although not a league game, the contest against L&C is expected to feature the good clean fun for which the sport is justly famed. (I can't believe I just wrote that.)
The women's team is currently seeking a coach who can lead them back to league play after the previous coach raised safety concerns with the side, which prompted Dean Mike Brody to withdraw the team from league play until he was satisfied the team could safely play competitive rugby.