Reel Talk with Annie: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

By Annie SchwartzScreen Shot 2015-02-21 at 7.22.41 PM

With the always-anticipated Academy Awards coming up on February 22nd, I thought I would review one of my favorite nominees, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Also known for films such as Babel (2006) and Biutiful (2010), Iñárritu can truly do no wrong. In this dark comedy, washed-up actor Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) tries to reinvent his career by directing a stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Chaos ensues as the opening night gets closer, and a chain reaction of horrible events threatens Thomas’ career.

This fantastic storyline is supported with an array of fabulous actors from Naomi Watts to a thin, yet still hilarious Zach Galifinakis. I would not be surprised if a cast-member went away with an Oscar this year. Michael Keaton (Best Actor nominee), Edward Norton (Best Supporting Actor nominee), and Emma Stone (Best Supporting Actress nominee) play equally complex characters, very unique from the other contenders.

Echoing the frenetic environment of the Broadway stage is Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography. Lubezki’s direction of photography is without a doubt the best I’ve seen all year. The twists and turns of the camera mimic the complex construction of the backstage corridors. Quick whips add another dimension to the witty (and sometimes violent) banter between characters. These movements, achieved with calculated precision, will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what could possibly happen next in an already doomed creative venture.

While my bet for Best Picture will forever be on Boyhood, Birdman is still a must see (even if you are not keeping up with your Oscar game). This movie is so exhilarating that it is definitely worth a visit to the movie theater and not to your Netflix homepage. If you are in the mood for something quirky, but with plenty of action and violence, Birdman is definitely the film for you.

Goucher Releases Sexual Misconduct Data

By Samantha Cooper

Several events that occurred during last semester have caused a discussion about sexual assault and misconduct on Goucher’s campus. The first event was a mandatory online training course. The survey asked students questions they found intrusive and inappropriate. Many students also felt as though it ignored certain issues and took issue with survey’s definition of rape. The issue however was dealt with in a way that satisfied many students. The other events included an expert speaker, Dr. David Lisak, and unfortunately, an on-campus assault.

These are the reasons why Goucher’s Title IX Coordinator, Lucia Perfetti-Clark and the Quindecim have worked together to publish a chart detailing the sexual assault and related crimes of the repeated calendar year. The chart does not detail every crime that took place during the year. The crimes that are still open have not been documented. Several cases are still pending but will be available in next year’s report. Previously, these crimes were reported in Goucher’s Police Blotter but have since been removed, as the victims were not aware that crimes would be published and were afraid of being identified. The Quindecim hopes to publish similar charts once or twice year in order to keep the student body better informed.

These crimes are published by Goucher under the Jeanne Clery Act. The act requires all colleges that receive federal funding to keep and disclose information on crime that happens on their campus. The list is available for anyone to view at the Office of Public Safety. The act requires colleges to list crimes like: murder, assault, burglary, arson, hate crimes and sexual offenses.

The definitions listed in the chart are how Goucher College defines them. The most important one to note is that rape falls under the category of Sexual Assault 1, since Goucher does not agree with the definition of rape set by the state of Maryland. Goucher defines sexual assault as “non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature.”

Sexual Assault 1 is “sexual assault that includes intercourse, which is any non-consensual sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal) however slight, with any body part or object, between persons.” This definition allows for both men and women to report their assaults accurately and for both to be accused.  There are two other categories of sexual assault that Goucher also uses to report similar assaults that do not fit into the first category. All three definitions point out the importance of consent in the crimes. According to Perfetti-Clark, Goucher has a very strict definition of consent: “Consent means willingly and knowingly agreeing to engage in mutually understood sexual conduct. Consent must be mutual and on-going, offered freely and knowingly, and cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated by drugs, alcohol or any other physical or mental impairment, or by a person  who is being threatened, intimidated or coerced.” She also emphasized that at Goucher consent must verbal, and explicit which means that anything other than a “Yes” from a person who is not impaired is not considered consent.

Other crimes at Goucher that are included in this chart are stalking, relationship violence, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. The definitions are available in the chart below.

For victims of sexual assault, the time following the attack can be very confusing and very stressful. This is part of the reason why Goucher tries to keep the identities of both parties confidential. This way the victim has less of a risk of being identified, and does not have worried about discrimination.

Students who are victims have the option to report their attack to Goucher authorities, the Baltimore County Police Department or both. They may also choose to deal with their attacker formally or informally. The formal process can be initiated at any time during the informal process, but must begin within four years of the incident. Either party may choose to bring about the formal proceedings.

The rights of both sexual assault victims and those accused of sexual assault are available on Goucher’s website. Some of the more important listed are that victims of sexual offense have the right to a change in housing, class assignment or work order to help them better avoid their attacker, if they are still at school. They also have right to academic relief, meaning that they can be given extra time on exams or for assignments if they are needed. All of the requests however must go through Perfetti-Clark before being approved.Students who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time may be given amnesty, as long as it did not place anyone else at risk. The list also tells other important rights relating to the justice process and victim’s privacy. The accused also have the right to amnesty from drug or alcohol use for the same reasons. They also have the right to be notified of the charges against them and the right to confidential counseling and legal assistance. It should also be noted that students who are accused are considered innocent until proven guilty or if there is enough evidence to prove them guilty. If the victim decides to change housing or classes before evidence is found, the accused might be subjected to move.

If students want more information on Goucher’s sexual assault policies, they can find them on Goucher’s website.  If someone is the victim of sexual assault there are many people they can contact including Goucher’s Public Safety, Lucia Perfetti-Clark, Cynthia Terry, or one of Goucher’s many counselors who can help them decide on the proper course of action, and led them to the proper resources. If they do not wish to contact anyone on campus they can contact  TurnAround, a counseling place in Towson.

On February 5th, an email was sent out explaining the purpose of the chart to the students and a second one was sent to staff and faculty. A meeting was also held on February 6th, where the student body gathered to discuss the issue and other topics surrounding it.

Students of color gather to create change on campus

By Shaina Kanter

 

Goucher College’s diversity statement emphasizes “social justice, diversity, and multiculturalism.” Recently, students of color have been pushing for new initiatives.

They want to make sure that their diverse needs are being met in reality, not just on paper.

Marissa Charlemagne ‘17 is one such student. Although she is currently abroad in Jordan, and has unreliable Wi-Fi, she is staying as involved as she can. Arthur Mutijima ’18 and Dean Bryan Coker worked with more than a dozen other students during J-term in order to put Goucher’s mission statement into action. Dean Coker saw the need for such action since his arrival in early 2013.

“We lack the staffing and structure to coordinate such efforts, especially when compared to our peer and aspirant colleges,” he said. Currently, Goucher does not have a specific institution equipped to handle the diverse needs of any minority group on campus.

Students of color on campus have long been dissatisfied with how they were being treated, and the latest national protests over excessive police brutality sparked vigils of solidarity and protests on Goucher’s campus.

With race on the radar, students of color were given the opportunity to voice their grievances at a meeting in the Geen Room on December 9th. According to Charlegmange, these grievances have long been “pushed under the rug.” During the meeting, students wrote up a list of short-term and long-term goals. These goals included hiring an associate dean of intercultural affairs, having a visible space dedicated to multiculturalism, and ultimately the hiring of a chief diversity officer. These demands were presented to Dean Coker, who signed several copies to signify “Goucher’s commitment to their success.” Dean Coker said that he hopes that the safe space will be chosen within the next week.  He also said, “I have been immensely proud of our students, as they have sought and found their voices, in speaking about their lived experiences at Goucher.”

This movement has largely been a testament to the agency and power of students.

“Passionate students just organized and made things happen,” Mutijima said when asked how the movement came to be.

Although the power of students has been highlighted, faculty participation has so far been underwhelming.

“There are some faculty who have done a lot to help with the movement, and because I have not already, I want to thank them now, they know who they are…However, I do not believe that the faculty as a whole has helped to their fullest potential.” Charlemagne said.

“Faculty is having trouble organizing effectively. Very receptive of student ideas, doesn’t know what to do. Students have to come up with everything,” Mujitina added. He also believes that faculty training is of the “upmost importance.”

Dean Coker sees this ignorance as a lack of education, not a symptom of apathy. “President Bowen and I recognize that our community needs help in working through these difficult issues, and the Diversity Standing Committee is actively looking into outside consultants/facilitators to assist the community in moving forward with these matters,” he said.

As a part of this education, several students of color were involved in creating a video that illustrates the lived experiences of students of color. The group plans to showcase the video in a way that reaches as many community members as possible. Both Coker and Charlemagne assert that these events are only the beginning.

“We are only beginning to gain greater awareness of the challenges our campus community must confront, and there is so much work to do,” Dean Coker said.

Latin American Lecture Series: The search for a new professor

By Madeline St. John

 

The quest for a Latin American history professor is underway.

As of now, there is only one Latin American history course at Goucher. This course, a broad overview of Latin American history, entitled “Latin American History: Pre-Columbian to the Present,” is part of the Latin American Studies department. Latin America remains largely untouched by Goucher’s history department. Due to the breadth and depth of Latin American history, and its increasing relevance, the history department is eager to hire a new professor to teach courses that will more extensively explore this continent.

The process of finding a new professor, one who is the right fit for Goucher, is lengthy and involved. The positions are highly competitive, with over a hundred applicants at times. First, a search committee narrows down the initial pool of applicants to about 20 candidates. From there, the committee works together to select three to four finalists. These finalists then visit the college. They present a lecture, meet with faculty, teach classes, and have lunch with students. These interactions help the search committee to determine if the candidates are a good fit for the college, and also may help the candidates to decide if Goucher is the right place for them.

Students can be involved in the search process in a few ways. They participate in the classes taught by potential professors, may have lunch with the candidates, attend the research lectures, and perhaps give their feedback on the candidates.

The research lectures focused on a variety of topics: mining and the Mexican revolution, Mexican migration in the early 1900s, the history of the Peruvian police, and immigrant and family rights in Buenos Aires. The first lecture was held in Batza Room on Tuesday, January 27th and the last was on Wednesday, February 4th in the Alumni house.

Students and faculty alike attended the lectures, which were open to the Goucher community. Students attended for a variety of reasons: some were history majors or minors, some were members of the history club, some were taking a history class, and some were simply curious. Students, if you missed these lectures, never fear: at some point, you may be able to take a class with the chosen candidate.

This new professor will be part of the history department, but those on the search committee hope that he or she will also be able to contribute to other fields, like Latin American Studies, and perhaps Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, or even Environmental Studies. Goucher is a small school, after all, and so welcomes an interdisciplinary approach.

As well as hoping to find a professor with experience in multiple areas, the search committee looks for a professor who fits with Goucher’s vibe. According to History Professor Matthew Hale, who is leading the search, the committee looks for new employees who are “fantastic” colleagues and community members, as well as researchers and teachers.

Professor Hale said he is excited about the search, the new position, and about having a new member of the Goucher community.

Campus-wide “Die-In” draws attention to racial issues

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 7.06.07 PM

Photo credit: Rob Ferrell, Office of Communications

On December 11th, dozens of Goucher students lay in front of the entrances of the academic buildings in order to bring attention to the recent events that had occurred around the country; particularly the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Both men were killed by police officers, neither of whom were convicted. Both Brown and Garner were black while the police officers were white. The deaths caused conversation across the country about race, police force and police brutality.

The protest followed the final decision of the Eric Garner case. Eric Garner was held in an illegal chokehold by NYPD officers, which killed him.  Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in the altercation, was not indicted. It also followed a similar case where eighteen-year old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, despite the fact that Brown was unarmed at the time.

The protest, called a “die-in,” was organized by Robert Fletcher ’16. Similar protests had taken place across the country. Fletcher said he “felt the need to organize this because tensions amongst the student body had reached a boiling point and the climate of this campus needed to be shifted.” He explained that he and other students of color had experienced racism on Goucher’s campus that needed to be stopped.

Other students who participated in the event shared Fletcher’s feelings. Nakpangi Ali ’17 said that she felt the purpose of the event was to “bring attention to and acknowledge the fact that people in our society have different relationships with the legal and judicial systems.”

Jordan Johnson ’18 said, “We just wanted to stand in solidarity with the rest of the colleges and say that we support eradicating police brutality…So I felt a great need to participate in that.”

During the protest, some students went around drawing chalk outlines around the students, and another passed out slips of paper with statistics written on them. Occasionally they would yell, “I can’t breathe,” or “Can’t you see that he is choking?” in reference to Garner’s death. Students who did not participate in the protest either watched the event take place or attempted to walk through the crowd in order to attend class.

Fletcher said, “We needed to be somewhere that people could not avoid us, day to day racism happens on this campus and students of color are unable to avoid it. This campus needed to be forced to acknowledged what is going on in the world.” Jordan Johnson received “a lot of negative comments.” She also said, “The Goucher community at times can be appreciative of the things we do but I also feel like they put us in boxes in order to say we can’t voice our opinions…So, sometimes I feel that while the Goucher community is liberal…They don’t understand how this can be a struggle for me every single day.”

The protests came as a surprise to the other students on campus, as they were not told that either one would be happening. During the first protest for Michael Brown, many students participating tried to get others to join. During the second one, a group of students received an email informing them of the protest and asking them to join. A school-wide email was sent explaining what was happening, just as the protest begun.

The protest received mixed reactions from the school. While many students, particularly those who were involved, were proud of the number of students who participated, others complained. Some students were upset that the entrances were blocked and they had trouble getting to class.

Fletcher said, “It felt amazing to be apart of something that could cause real change, also I was happy to know that not only were black students feeling like their voices weren’t being heard but all students of color felt the same way.”

President Jose Bowen wrote an email that night that said he was “proud that our students decided to join with many other colleges across the nation to stage a protest yesterday. But I also respect the desire of some not to protest. I recognize that some protests will disturb or even offend other members of our community.” He held a talk that night where students could discuss racial issues on campus.

How the protest will affect Goucher’s campus has yet to be seen but it seems as though it has allowed for more dialogue to take place on campus. During the winter term, around a dozen students discussed diversity related issues that have an effect on the school, due to the tensions on campus. This semester is also Civil Rights themed due to 2015 being 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights act of 1965. The semester includes several Civil Rights courses, speakers and related events.

 

 

Goucher welcomes Martin Sweidel as Senior VP for Strategic Initiatives

Madeline St. John

Staff Writer

The newest position at Goucher was created by President Bowen. The new role is Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, and is held by Martin Sweidel, who used to serve as associate dean at Southern Methodist University, the same school where Bowen was a dean. Sweidel’s role is to help Goucher take on initiatives to make it a better, more transformative institution—a college that truly changes lives.

Typically, a vice president has a focus in a particular area. Sweidel does not. His job is to help other vice presidents, as well as faculty and staff, coordinate projects that cut across several sectors. Someone needs to have the “bandwidth,” as Sweidel puts it, to organize a cross-sectional response to important issues. Sweidel also hopes to help people make transitions. “Everyone deals with change differently. Change can make people nervous,” Sweidel said.

As for the “strategic” part of his title, Sweidel emphasized that part of “strategy” is about prioritizing initiatives—which things should come first and how many can be done at the same time. Currently, the administration is currently focusing on an initiative regarding retention and enrollment. Working with a cross-vocational team, they are examining student data, performing exit surveys, and evaluating the services that Goucher provides. They are trying to answer questions like: What are students’ expectations when they come to Goucher? Why are they leaving? Were their expectations met? The team is in the process of hiring someone to analyze student data to help admissions better predict which students are the right fit for Goucher.

Sweidel listed three reasons for choosing to come to Goucher. The first was the chance to continue working with President Bowen. According to Sweidel, President Bowen is “the real deal” and he made “wonderful transformations” at SMU. “Life’s too short to pass up the opportunity [to continue working with President Bowen],” Sweidel said.

The second reason was that Goucher reminded him of the colleges where he spent his years as an undergrad. “It was a liberal arts college, it was a small school, it was formerly a women’s college, and it was located on a heavily wooded campus…” Sweidel said that his time at that college, more so than his graduate school experience, impacted his life.

Sweidel’s third reason was that he and his wife were already looking to move to the East Coast in order to be closer to their son, who works in Washington D.C

Sweidel has two degrees in music. He explained that since both music composition and “strategic initiatives” involve problem-solving, he can relate his degree to the job he has no . Sweidel believes “artists and creative thinkers, along with everyone else, should be at the problem-solving table.” Now it is Sweidel’s job to make sure that everyone who belongs at that “table” gets there.

Having been on campus just over a month, Sweidel feeling a bit like a freshman. He is beginning get a feel for the campus, make himself at home, and see the commitment the faculty and staff have to make Goucher the place it promises to be.

Networking Night

Megan Meluskey

Sports Editor

On Thursday, November 13, the Goucher College athletic department welcomed back four alumni to the varsity room of the Decker Sports and Recreation Center to talk with Goucher’s senior class athletes. The event is known as Senior Networking Night, where the seniors get the chance to talk with Goucher’s finest athlete alumni.
Senior Networking Night is an annual event and this year’s chosen alumni included, Alice Kennedy, ’97, Lisa Oleson Meagher ’82, Chris Murray ’03 and March Cousins ’95. While attending Goucher, Kennedy was a part of the women’s basketball team and is now the sustainability coordinator for the City of Baltimore. Oleson Megher played for the tennis team and has been a second grade teacher for the past twenty years. Murray was a member of the men’s soccer team who now works in the computer industry, and Cousins, a former member of the men’s lacrosse, basketball, and soccer teams at Goucher, found his way into teaching and coaching.
All alumni had fascinating stories to tell that greatly enlightened the current seniors of Goucher. Greg Permisson, head of Alumni Affairs and Sally Baum, head women’s tennis team, organized the event, believing that it serves to prepare future alumni of Goucher for life after graduation. The alumni on the panel discussed different jobs that led them to where they are now and the alterations in their career path. Kennedy talked about a chance internship with Aramark at Camden Yards that then led her to a job in California, prior to her current job. The alumni on the panel also gave insight on how their athletic experiences prepared them for life in the real world and how marketable the leadership they learned from their careers as college athletes. After the panel, the seniors got the opportunity to talk individually with the panelists and ask specific questions. It was a great night for all those involved.