Tuesday, April 22, 2003

20 mins read

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Daily Gazette
Swarthmore College
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Volume 7, Number 127


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NEWS IN BRIEF

1) Katha Pollitt speaks on experiences as feminist writer

2) Ernesto Cortés, Jr. lectures on community empowerment and
organizing

3) Housing Roundup: Day One

4) World news roundup

5) Campus events

SPORTS IN BRIEF

1) Golf team triumphs over USP

2) Upcoming contests

WEATHER FORECAST

Today: Partly cloudy with 30% chance of rain. High of 71.
You know, it’s times like these that make me think standardized testing gets
a bad rap.

Tonight: A few clouds. Low of 45.
Sitting here writing my thesis and studying frantically for Honors exams,
I’ve got to say:

Tomorrow: Windy and partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s.
Can’t I just fill out a multiple-choice test and get my degree?  Please!!!

TODAY’S SHARPLES MENU

Lunch: Open face turkey-ham sandwich, curly fries, vegetarian chili, open
face vegetable sandwich, French-cut green beans, mixed vegetables, Asian
chicken salad bar, marble cake

Dinner: Catfish with Creole tartar sauce, corn pudding, broccoli-mushroom
stir-fry, tomatoes Provencal, brussel sprouts, cheesesteak bar, cheesecake

NEWS REPORT

1) Katha Pollitt speaks on experiences as feminist writer

by Pei Pei Liu
Co-Managing Editor

Katha Pollitt spoke to a large crowd in LPAC Cinema yesterday evening on her
experiences as a feminist writer, her perspectives on women in opinion
journalism, and her writing process in general. Following the talk was a
reception and the unveiling of “Alchemy,” the Writing Associate Program’s
new publication of academic writing. The event was sponsored by the Writing
Associates Program and the Women’s Resource Center.

A columnist for The Nation and a frequent guest on NPR and other discussion
panels, Pollitt is the author of “Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on
Women, Politics and Culture,” and “Antarctic Traveller,” a collection of
poems for which she won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Pollitt maintained a good dynamic with the audience as she began her talk by
describing reader responses to her writing. Frequently whipping out
printouts of extreme-reaction emails (such as one from a pro-life man who
wanted to “kill women” who chose abortion) and reading them complete with
the sender’s name and contact information, Pollitt talked about the
expectations and assumptions that surround feminist writers.

“People think that feminist writers must hate men, hate children, and think
that ‘we are soooo special,'” Pollitt said. “They also blame things on you.
Men who haven’t dated in 20 years blame it on the feminists. Women whose
lives haven’t turned out right blame it on the feminists.

“People act sometimes like there are just two ages in human history: 1950,
and feminism.”

Another major thread in Pollitt’s talk was her criticism of the lack of
female voices, and particularly female feminist voices, in opinion
journalism. “Female voices are grossly underrepresented in opinion
journalism,” she said. “The attitude is that ‘one [female writer] is enough’
in most journals; the ratio of women’s bylines to men’s is one to five.”

Pollitt added that when women’s voices are heard, they are frequently
relegated to low-profile sections such as “Style,” and are generally limited
to women’s issues. “Identity politics let women get a crack at women’s
topics,” Pollitt said, “but it also boxes women in. The philosophy is to use
women only for the things that men can’t get. You rarely hear women’s voices
in public affairs.”

However, Pollitt spoke highly of her experience writing at The Nation. “My
own situation is ideal,” she said. “The column is completely mine, I’m
completely in control. Other places take all the humor, all the joy out of
writing, everything that makes it you. I’m totally spoiled at The Nation;
I’m never told to dumb something down.”

In the Q&A session following the talk, Pollitt also spoke against the image
of Iraqi women as exclusively victims of war, rather than political agents
in the rebuilding process. She also pointed to the huge differences between
American and international press coverage of the war, and answered general
questions on her writing process and thoughts on writing in general.

Citing a friend’s email signature, she said, “Writing is thinking, not
thinking written down. I try to write truth as I see it – that’s what makes
[it] worthwhile to me.”

*****

2) Ernesto Cortés, Jr. lectures on community empowerment and
organizing

by Greg Leiserson – Gazette News Reporter
with additional reporting by Jeremy Schifeling

“Never, ever do for someone else what he or she could do for himself,”
renowned community organizer Ernesto Cortés, Jr. exhorted students and
faculty gathered in LPAC Cinema last night. This “Iron Rule” of organizing
formed the centerpiece of Cortés’ talk which focused on the ideas behind
community empowerment and ways in which people can effectively organize
citizens on the local level in order to obtain their desired goals.

Cortés is the Southwest Regional Director of the Industrial Areas
Foundation, a non-profit founded in Chicago by Saul Alinsky. Cortés has also
worked with Cesar Chavez organizing farm workers, worked for the US
Commission on Civil Rights, and served as a deputy director of economic
development and housing for the Mexican American Unity Council in San
Antonio, Texas. His appearance at Swat was sponsored by the Swarthmore
Democracy Project, ENLACE and ACT UP!

“All organizing is about power, for power,” began Cortés. However, he soon
clarified this statement by noting that power has gotten a bad name,
becoming associated with unaccountable authority instead of the power of
groups of people working together – the very idea on which democracy in the
US is based.

To illustrate his point about the danger of unaccountable power, Cortés
relayed the story of the Grand Inquisitor from Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers
Karamazov.”  In this famous scene, Jesus returns to the world in 16th
Century Spain only to have the Grand Inquisitor criticize Christ’s Biblical
choice to resist temptation in favor of saving human free will.  Free will
is too great a burden for humanity, says the Inquisitor, and most people
would prefer just to live comfortably in ignorance.

Power, as wielded by the likes of the Grand Inquisitor, can lead to the
abuse of those it is supposed to protect, Cortés told the crowd, but power
in the hands of the people is the method by which great things can be
accomplished.

“And,” Cortés continued, “the Grand Inquisitor is alive and well in many
institutions [in the US] which treat adults as second-class citizens.”
Cortés made two further comments about US institutions, saying “Public
education is the only legal form of child abuse in America,” and “Organizing
is about challenging those institutions which humiliate adults.”

Cortés then cited Moses as the greatest organizer of all time, pointing to
how he worked through all kinds of obstacles to organize the “Hebrews” – a
word Cortés feels best translates into English as the wretched or
marginalized members of society,  and one that is thus still applicable in
modern society.

Cortés, labeling himself a “liberal Roman Catholic”, works extensively in
his organizing with religious groups and finds his religion central to his
efforts as an organizer.

In closing, Cortés clarified his guiding maxim: “The Iron Rule does not
rationalize Social Darwinism [or the work of] Reagan, Bush, Gingrich, and
Clinton. Real politics is about the creation of a collective collaborative
identity which is pluralistic.”

And finally, after answering a series of questions on his experience as an
organizer, Cortés explained the social change paradigm out of which he
operates.  “On one side, you have the world as it is, and on the other side,
you have the world as it should be…  And moderating between the two worlds
are love and power.”

*****

3) Housing Roundup: Day One

After the Rising Senior housing lottery last night, the following trends
stood out to Dean of Housing Myrt Westphal:

* Upperclassman-only housing was hot, with Wharton C/D closed out and all
but one two-room triple in Worth selected.

* All the Woolman singles and Parrish female singles were taken.

* Several Strath Haven apartments were picked.

* No Hallowell or Willets rooms were chosen.

* Mertz South was less desirable than North, possibly due to the
construction of the new dorm that is likely to begin on that side next year.

* Roberts is now closed to women, due mostly to the fact that so many women
have already blocked into the dorm.

*****

4) World news roundup

* Scott Peterson, the California man charged with killing his wife and
unborn son in December, pleaded not guilty in court on Monday. Laci Peterson
disappeared December 24th, and her whereabouts were unknown until the fetus
was found washed ashore on April 13th and her body was found the next day.
DNA tests completed last Friday confirmed the identities of the bodies.
Because Scott Peterson has been charged with a double homicide, prosecutors
could seek a death sentence if he is convicted, but Stanislaus County
District Attorney Jim Brazelton has not yet said whether they will do so.
Scott Peterson is also being separated from other inmates in the Stanislaus
County Jail due to threats they have made towards him.

* Defense Secretary Rumsfeld criticized a story that appeared in the New
York Times last weekend, saying that there had been no discussions among
senior administration officials regarding the possibility of keeping a
long-term military presence at four airbases in Iraq. Said Rumsfeld, “The
impression that’s left around the world is that we plan to occupy the
country, we plan to use their bases over the long period of time, and it’s
flat false.” Though Rumsfeld did not explicitly state the US would not
engage in such a military relationship, he characterized it as extremely
unlikely.

* Administration officials outlined a number of ways in which the Bush tax
plan might be adjusted to reduce the impact of the cuts in the next fiscal
year on Monday, including the possibility of cutting taxes on dividends in
half initially and then phasing them out completely over the next few years,
phasing in reductions of the top personal income tax rate rather than
reducing it by one amount now, and separating proposals about the marriage
penalty and child tax credit into separate legislation.

*****

5) Campus events

Career Services: UPenn Presentation
Kohlberg 334, 3:30 p.m.

Lecture: “An Unexpected Application of a Swarthmore Education: Making the
Math in ‘A Beautiful Mind'”
by David Bayer ’77, Columbia University
Kohlberg 115, 4:30 p.m.

Faculty Lecture: “Coming of Age in a World Economy: Charles Dickens’ Great
Expectations”
by Carolyn Lesjak, Associate Prof. of English
Scheuer Room – Kohlberg, 4:30 p.m.

Passover Dinner
Bond Memorial Hall, 5:00 p.m.

German Film Series
Kohlberg 328, 7:00 p.m.

Fall Housing Lottery: Rising Juniors
Field House, 7:30 p.m.

Tango Dance Lessons
Upper Tarble, 9:00 p.m.

Peace Initiatives: Action-planning with Iraqi artists
Parrish Parlors – East, 9:00 p.m.

Good Schools PA Meeting
Parrish Parlors – West, 10:00 p.m.

Student Council Meeting
CRC – Parrish 2nd, 10:30 p.m.

——

MATH AND “A BEAUTIFUL MIND”

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics is sponsoring the 2003 Arnold
Dresden Lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 22 and 23. This year’s
speaker is David Bayer ’77, Professor of Mathematics at Barnard College and
Columbia University.

On April 22, Professor Bayer will speak on “An Unexpected Application of a
Swarthmore Education: Making the Math in ‘A Beautiful Mind’.” He will
discuss his participation in making the film “A Beautiful Mind” from his
various perspectives: as the mathematics consultant for the film; as a hand
double; as an actor with one line; and as a Swarthmore graduate.  This talk
is suitable for general audiences.

Then on April 23, Professor Bayer will speak on “Syzygies and Graph
Colorings,”  in which he will explain his work on how algebraic methods may
be applied to the problem of coloring graphs or maps.  This talk will be
accessible at the level of undergraduate math students.

Both talks will be in Kohlberg 115 at 4:30 pm with refreshments available in
Kohlberg 116 beginning at 4:00 pm.

*****

SPORTS UPDATE

1) Golf team triumphs over USP

The golf team defeated the University of the Sciences yesterday, 356-367, at
Rolling Green Golf Club.  Mike Cullinan ’06 paced the Garnet with a
season-best 82 on the par-71 course.  Teammates Matt Draper ’05 and Geoff
Hollinger ’05 shot an 88 and 89, respectively, while Mike Weiner ’04 and
David Gentry ’05 each recorded scores of 97 in the Swat victory.

*****

2) Upcoming contests

Today:
Softball hosts Haverford (DH), 3:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Washington, 3:30 p.m.
Men’s tennis at Haverford, 3:30 p.m.
Women’s lacrosse hosts McDaniel, 6:00 p.m.

Tomorrow:
There are no contests scheduled for tomorrow.

*****

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on.”
–Robert Byrne

*****
.
Interested in reporting or writing for the Gazette?
Got a news or sports tip for us?
Just want to tell us what you think?

Contact the staff at gazette@swarthmore.edu

Managing Editors: Pei Pei Liu
Jeremy Schifeling
News Editor: Alexis Reedy
Living & Arts Editor: Evelyn Khoo
Compilation Editors Charlie Buffie
Greg Leiserson
Megan Mills
News Reporters: Charlie Buffie
Jennifer Canton
Wendy Cheung
Mary Harrison
Sanggee Kim
Greg Leiserson
Megan Mills
Ken Patton
Aude Scheuer
Siyuan Xie
Roxanne Yaghoubi
Sports Writers: Jenna Adelberg
Saurav Dhital
Sarah Hilding
Holice Kil
Photographers: David Bing
Liz Bada
Yue Li
Miriam Perez
Casey Reed
Christine Shin
Webmaster: Jeremy Schifeling
World News: Greg Leiserson
Campus Sports: Jeremy Schifeling

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This concludes today’s report.

The Phoenix