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Reedies jazz it up

piano.jpgFor more than 100 years, Reed students have written papers, conducted physics experiments, and even occasionally danced to the sound of jazz. Now a new generation is clamoring for its turn in the spotlight at a storied music club next week.

The Reed College Jazz Ensemble will perform at Jimmy Mak's on Tuesday, May 8, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The legendary Mel Brown Septet, with Gordon Lee (Reed's jazz coach) on piano, follows the Reed bands. There will be a $3 cover for the Reed bands and a $6 cover for Mel Brown Septet.

Lee had this to say about how the Reed jazz ensembles have grown exponentially (from two to four) over the last three years: "There is a hunger for these young people to express themselves musically through the American discipline of jazz. There is hope for the future!"

Workin' It with Richard Simmons

Fashion isn't the only 1980s cultural iconography recently spotted on the Reed campus: on Wednesday, Richard Simmons made a Gray Fund-sponsored appearance to motivate and inspire the Reed community during reading week.

IMG_9385.jpgSimmons spent the first part of the day roaming around campus in his short-shorts and sequined top, dishing out hugs, kisses, and compliments to students, faculty, and staff. (Sadly, I hear that President Diver was out of the office when Richard dropped by.) By shortly before 3 p.m., Simmons was outside the sports center greeting people who were dresseed in their workout best and and ready to hit the gym for a straight-out-of-the-late-twentieth century aerobics routine.

Witty and self-effacing, Simmons worked the crowd a bit before heading up on stage to get the aerobicizing started. Simmons's love of people, life, and exercise shone through everything he said and did; he was euphoric in the presence of hundreds of participants and buoyed by the tunes blaring out of the sound system. He ribbed the folks who chose to watch rather than dance, worked in a centennial joke, and scoffed at those who couldn't touch their toes during the stretching exercises. Participants waved their arms, grapevined, kicked, and strutted. Simmons invited a wide-ranging selection of people up on stage to dance with him, encouraging men to doff their shirts and everyone to be proud of their participation. So strong was the positive vibe in the room that I don't think it was possible to walk through the door without cracking a smile and breaking out the jazz hands.

Gray Fund Turns 20 (gasp!)

John Gray.jpgDeafening drums, sky-towering stilt-walkers and heart-rending Broadway numbers exhilarated the Reed community on April 20 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on the 20th anniversary of the Gray Fund.

Since its establishment in 1992, the Gray Fund has brought together students, faculty, and staff in a range of activities—from hot air balloon rides, to sailing down the Columbia River, to attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Events are free of charge and substance-free, allowing all members of the Reed community to participate. It has been 20 years since Betty Gray gave $2,000,000 to Reed so that the students, in her husband's words, "could have some fun." Her generosity was celebrated in style at the Schnitz as part of Reed's ongoing Centennial.

The revelries started off with a bang—literally—when MarchFourth, the boisterous Portland marching band, started playing in the commons quad. They led students in a parade across campus to Eliot Circle, where students boarded yellow school buses to go downtown to the Schnitz and to get first pick of the seats in the auditorium.

The Pelting of the Freshmen

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Eliot Circle erupted in a flurry of snowballs this morning as upperclassmen enacted a relatively new tradition, the Pelting of the Freshmen, after the final Hum 110 lecture of the academic year.

Unidentified upperclassmen (rumored to include Seth Douglas '13 and Jeremy Lawrence '12) drove a pickup truck to Mount Hood, loaded the bed with snow, and lay in wait for the unwary freshlings to emerge from Vollum. Cheers rent the air as the youngsters streamed down the steps and the icy fusillade commenced.

Kroger Named Prez

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Reed has just announced that Oregon Attorney General John Kroger will be the college's 15th president.

"John impressed us with his brilliance and clarity, advocacy for the primacy of the liberal arts education, and his commitment to the mission and vision of Reed College," said board chair Roger Perlmutter '73. "We are very excited about his arrival on campus this summer."

Freshlings Trounce Seniors in Soccer Tourney

soccertourney_ii.jpg Emotions rose and fell faster then a rubber ball on a hardwood floor during Reed's annual indoor soccer tournament.

For five hours on Friday, April 13, Reed's strongest soccer players battled for the championship and its rewards: plastic medals bestowed by soccer coach and event organizer Larry Beutler.

The soccer tournament follows on the heels of the March Madness basketball tournament, and takes a similar form; eight teams of six players each square off with round-robin-style elimination.

Reedies Descend on Portland

Almost 200 Reed students, alumni, professors, and staff volunteered their time for the Centennial Day of Service on Saturday, restoring native habitat in Oaks Bottom, building a toolshed for a day-labor community center, and repairing books for low-income children.

The event, organized by SEEDS (Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service), celebrated Reed's tradition of community service with a battery of projects throughout Portland that left a positive mark on the city—and on the participants.

SEEDS earned glowing reviews from students. Jennifer Caamano '12, who has volunteered with SEEDS all four of her years at Reed and now works as an intern with the Lane After-School Education with Reed (LASER) program, enthused that "it's super easy to just hop in a van and do service projects... It makes it really accessible." Shelly Skolfield '14, who reported having worked with SEEDS for "seven minutes," was no less enthusiastic. "It seems like it's going to be awesome," she said.

"Invisible" Indians Converge on Campus

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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.

Blue Like Jazz unleashes dogma

 

BLJ_blue_bridge.jpgA 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.

 

Fighting for Somalia

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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.

Our Brilliant Students

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 Conquers the Globe

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"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.

Feeding the Famine

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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.

OGs triumph in March Madness

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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.

Fiercely Feministing

Samhita.pngWho 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.

Through Hell and Lunacy

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.

Reed Gripped by March Madness

basketball20dribble.jpgSpring 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

Bridging the Disability Divide

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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.

Obama is no King

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Brown University economist
Glenn C. Loury

Brown University economist Glenn C. Loury delivered a rousing talk at Reed on Monday titled "Obama is No King: Reflections on Presidential Politics and the Black Prophet Tradition." (audio recording)

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.

KRRC Forsakes Terrestrial Broadcast

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.)

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