Thursday, February 5, 2004

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
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Volume 8, Number 79


Write to us! daily@swarthmore.edu
Photo of the day: http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/daily/photo.html
Today’s issue: http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/daily/

NEWS IN BRIEF

1) Increase in accidents spurs changes in van
certification

2) Student Council hosts fireside chat on college
finance issues

3) World news roundup

4) Campus events

SPORTS IN BRIEF

1) Men’s basketball tops Johns Hopkins

2) Upcoming contests

WEATHER FORECAST

Today: Mostly sunny. High of 37.
Totally devoid of any ideas about what to say today and living in the
dull, joyless “real world,” I cruised over to the Swarthmore web site –
typically a fount of inspiration and zany academic hijinks… err…
faculty research.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Low of 23.
To my utter surprise, I discovered a picture of Orville Redenbacher
under the heading of “Featured Event.”

Tomorrow: Partly cloudy. High of 38.
Who knew Mr. Popcorn was also a renowned historian and social critic,
and that best of all, he’s been brought back to life to speak at Swat
next week? Check it out for yourself: www.swarthmore.edu.

TODAY’S SHARPLES MENU

Lunch: Tortellini with rose sauce, foccacia, indian style chick
peas, crinkle cut carrots, zucchini italiano, hoagie bar, lemon bars

Dinner: Salsa chicken, spanish rice, vegetarian dumplings, eggplant
parmesan, tex mex cauliflower, potato bar, ice cream bar

NEWS REPORT

1) Increase in accidents spurs changes in van
certification

by Greg Leiserson
News Editor

Last semester, accidents involving college vans occurred at roughly
twice the rate they did a few years ago, leading Van Coordinator Joe
Alberti ’06 to develop a new process for granting van licenses.
Accidents cost students about $4000 in payments from the Student
Activities Fund in fall of 2003 and, according to Alberti, mainly
resulted from failures to properly executive “basic maneuvers” such as
backing up in a straight line or making sharp turns. All students van
certified students must complete the new training and examination
process in order to retain certification.

Since most incidents could have been prevented with more experience
or more care when driving, Alberti sought to create a more rigorous
training process for students seeking a van license, characterizing the
tests under the old system as “pretty much a joke”. The new system
replaces what typically was a ten minute test with an hour long period
for both practice and a 30 point evaluation.

Students begin the process in the same manner as before, submitting
a form to Public Safety declaring their intent to become van certified.
Public Safety then runs a background check on the student’s driving
record. After the background check is completed, however, the new
process diverges from the old. Students arrange an hour long block of
time with Alberti during which they will practice parking, three point
turns, backing up, and other skills for 45 minutes and then undergo the
evaluation.

During the evaluation, students will be docked points for poor
driving based on preestablished criteria, and will fail the exam if
they lose too many points. The exam shares many features with the exam
used by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for granting
driver’s licenses. Students will be given a copy of the evaluation
form, and students who fail the exam will be free to arrange another
hour long block for both practice and an exam as time permits.

While Alberti noted that the test “is not designed to fail
students”, it is “more comprehensive and much tougher” than the old
exam. In addition, he hopes that the new longer exam will ensure that
students who apply for van licenses are serious in their intent. Under
the old system where obtaining a license required very little time, he
worries that uninterested students might have been pressured into
applying for a license, thus increasing the number of possibly
dangerous drivers.

Alberti developed the new procedures over winter break in
consultation with Public Safety and other staff members. Public Safety
accepted the proposal at the beginning of the spring semester. As to
why the changes were sprung upon students on such short notice, he said
that he did not expect to be able to design and implement a workable
solution in such a short period of time when he began the process.

Since the limiting factor in shuttle services provided by the
college typically is the number of students willing to work the shift,
not the number of students who are van certified, any decrease in the
number of licensed drivers is not expected to result in a decrase in
services.

*****

2) Student Council hosts fireside chat on college
finance issues

by Jonathan Ference
Living and Arts Editor

Despite limited notice, a Student Council-sponsored Fireside Chat
was held with College Vice-President for Finance and Treasurer Suzanne
Welsh on Wednesday night in Kohlberg Coffee bar. Though students only
were made aware of the event via reserved-students email the same day
at 11:05 a.m., an audience of about twenty – consisting of a healthy
portion of the Student Council – showed up to hear Welsh present, in
student-friendly terms, a tour de force summary of the College’s
finances. Assisting her in the presentation was Mark Amstutz, appointed
Director of Investments in March 2003.

The pair was introduced by College Budget Committee (CBC) student
member Charlie Sussman ’05, and each attendee was provided with copies
of both the official Swarthmore College Financial Report and a printed
version of a PowerPoint presentation specifically prepared for use at
the chat.

Welsh started by explaining how the $85 million required to operate
the College each year breaks down into approximately $60,000 being
spent on each of its 1396 students on campus—a number that is just
slightly above the target of 1375. She then explained that the College
is in a bit of an abnormal position at the moment because of the
extremely high portion of revenue coming directly from the endowment.
The other major contributor to revenue is, of course, student charges.
Welsh went on to explain how the money flows back out: over 60% of
costs are compensation for faculty and staff, with about equal parts
being split between the faculty (200 of them) and the staff (800 of
them).

In positioning this situation relative to other schools, data on the
other 30 schools in the Consortium on Financing Higher Education
(COFHE) was provided; interestingly, Swarthmore ranks as the 15th most
expensive school overall—cheaper than the likes of Columbia, Cornell,
MIT, Wesleyan, and Johns Hopkins, but more expensive than Stanford,
Duke, Yale, Princeton, and Rice. Welsh stressed Swarthmore’s commitment
to its need-blind admissions policy and its promise to meet all
demonstrated financial need as being “very important”, noting that many
schools, even in COFHE, were moving away from such promises.

Next, the chat’s subject switched to the demystification of the
endowment. Welsh explained how it is comprised of gifts, funds the
school puts in each year, and its own growth in the form of “interest,
dividends, and capital appreciation.” Explaining the benefits of having
an endowment, Welsh said that it: “really gives [the College] a high
degree of independence”, because it can be independent of outside
forces, support the College’s budget and, in theory, match its growth.
Under guidelines the school sets for itself, a certain amount can be
taken from the endowment for use in the budget each year—a number equal
to the amount taken the previous year, plus inflation, plus 1.5%–while
still allowing the endowment itself to grow over time.

The endowment is invested in both stocks and other forms—including
hedge funds and real estate and timber—with the goal of returning 5.75%
once inflation is taken into account. Welsh recalled finding records of
the endowment’s size from before the stock market crash of 1929, and
went on to say that “Swarthmore was a leader in investing”, citing a
decision by a certain Mr. McCabe (yes, the same one) in the 1930’s to
break the mold of college investing and, along with a colleague at
Princeton, invest funds into common stocks instead of bonds. Welsh
explained that this is one of the major reasons for Swarthmore’s
incredible endowment size per student, ranked 9th in the country.

In assessing the current financial environment, Welsh said: “Through
it all, Swarthmore has been able to maintain what we do. We haven’t had
to cut back.” The tough environment mainly stems from a rough investing
climate; this is the first year of the last three to see positive
investment returns. Yet, optimism does not yet seem appropriate; with
continuing pressures including the almost-concluded Capital Campaign, a
commitment to adequately provide compensation for faculty and staff,
major construction projects, and a potential wildcard in the Living
Wage Report, huge investment returns may not arrive in the near future.
According to Welsh, as the budget goes to the Board of Managers for
approval in February, the future will still be a time of “looking hard
for efficiencies and cost savings.”

Students were then allowed to ask questions, which included queries
seeking to better understand need-blind admissions, how the College
accepts gifts, and why the College didn’t build both halves of the new
dorm at once (answer: the plans are done, but the money wasn’t
present). For those who might have their eye on having a building named
after them: you’ll have to shell out a third of the cost to build it.
Want a room named after you? $500,000. The very ambitious might want to
get that money together quick, though: the new residence hall and the
science center would happily take your name if you provide the money.

As far as a tuition increase for next year, Welsh was only able to
say that it would be “in the ballpark with last year’s”, which was a
4.5% raise.

*****

3) World news roundup

* Gays have full marriage (not just civil union) rights starting in
Mid-May in Massachusetts. Massachusetts’ highest court issued this
ruling in response to a Senate question that was trying to clear the
ambiguities of the court’s ruling last November. “Asked if
Vermont-style civil unions would be sufficient, the opinion stated,
‘The answer is, “No”‘.” The opinion went on to state, “The
dissimilitude between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’ is
not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a
demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to
second-class status. For no rational reason the marriage laws of the
Commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of
tinkering with language will eradicate that stain. ” The decision
cannot be overturned by the legislature, however, “Democrats and
Republican lawmakers will hold a constitutional meeting next Wednesday
to consider an amendment that would legally define marriag
e as a union between one man and one woman.”

* Urging the release of 40 political prisoners and the lifting of a
state of emergency that has been in place for 40 years, 1,000 Syrian
intellectuals have signed a petition to President Assad, urging him to
implement reforms. The organizers of this campaign (a group called the
Committee for the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in
Syria) hope to have at least a million signatures by next month, when
they plan to present the document to the Syrian government. While the
president has ignored similar petitions in the past, the current
organizers are helpful in light of the increased pressure from
Washington and the fact that the president “released more than 100
political prisoners and he freed more than 600 prisoners in 2000.”

* Russian industrialist, Victor Vekselberg, bought the entire
Faberge Egg collection two months before it was supposed to go on sale
at Sotheby’s. The collection includes nine imperial Faberge eggs and
180 assorted Faberge items. Although neither side would disclose the
amount he paid for the collection, Sotheby’s predicted it would bring
at least $90 million dollars to the auction and experts say that
Vekselberg probably paid about $100 million. A spokesman for Vekselberg
says that he is planning to “make them available to the Russian
people.” Christopher Forbes, vice chairman of Forbes, and his brothers
and sisters were the previous owners of the collection, which had been
handed down to them by their father, Malcolm Forbes.

*****

4) Campus events

Summer of Service Internship Sessions
Kohlberg 236, 11:30 a.m., and Lang Center (train station), 5:30 p.m.

Scott Arboretum Lunchtime Lecture
Scheuer Room, 12:00 p.m.

“Asians, Aliens, and Space”: Lecture by John Cheng
Trotter 203, 4:00 p.m.

“Appropriated Identities and Hybrid Desires: A Century of Playing
Indian in the Campfire Girls”: A Lecture
Scheuer Room, 4:30 p.m.

Annual Charles Gilbert Political Science Lecture
Science Center 101, 8:00 p.m.

*****

SPORTS UPDATE

1) Men’s basketball tops Johns Hopkins

by Cara Tigue
Gazette Reporter

The Garnet started out strong and never looked back, defeating the
visiting Johns Hopkins Blue Jays 64-51 last night at Tarble Pavilion.
Swarthmore built an 11-4 lead early in the game, forcing Hopkins to
take a timeout with 16:31 remaining in the first half. This didn’t
phase the Garnet who continued to play excellent defense, holding the
Blue Jays to only 8 points with 11:54 remaining the half. Matt
Gustafson ’05 hit a big three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put
Swarthmore up 24-8 at the 10:40 mark. But Hopkins battled back, putting
together an 8-4 run to close the half with Swat leading 28-16.

The Blue Jays came out on fire to start the second half on a 7-0
run. Senior guard Jacob Letendre finally got the Garnet back in the
flow by hitting a 15 foot jumper with 17:17 remaining. Dillon McGrew
’07 added a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Swarthmore a
37-29 lead. But the scrappy Blue Jays wouldn’t go away. With senior
forward Chris Loeffler on the bench with 4 fouls, TJ Valerio sunk a
3-pointer to bring JHU within 5 points with 9:18 left in the game. This
was as close as Hopkins would get however, as the Garnet pulled away in
the final minutes. Letendre hit a long baseline jumper, and Jeff Maxim
’07 knocked down a 12-footer to put the Garnet up 47-38 with 5:07 left.

Swarthmore stayed composed in spite of Hopkins’ excessive fouling as
time ran out. The Garnet shot 92% from the line on the game, including
21 of 23 in the second half. All 5 Swarthmore starters reached double
figures. Gustafson lead the team with 20 points and Maxim was huge on
the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds to go along with 10 points. With this
win, the Garnet improve to 9-10 overall and 6-6 in the Centennial
Conference. The team will look to improve their conference record
Saturday when they visit Dickinson at 1:00 p.m.

*****

2) Upcoming contests

Today:
Badminton hosts Bryn Mawr, 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow:
There are no contests scheduled for tomorrow.

*****

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It usually takes a long time to find a shorter way.”
–Anonymous

*****

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 daily@swarthmore.edu

Communications Editor: Megan Mills
Features Editor Alexis Reedy
Living & Arts Editor: Jonathan Ference
News Editor: Greg Leiserson
Sports Editor: Alex Glick
Photo/Graphics Editor: Charlie Buffie
News Reporters: Scott Blaha
Anya Carrasco
Lauren Janowitz
Sanggee Kim
Ken Patton
Maki Sato
Angelina Seah
Christine Shin
Siyuan Xie
Sports Writers: Sarah Hilding
Holice Kil
Cara Tigue
Photographers: Kyle Khellaf
Robbie Hart
Max Li
Anthony Orazio
Casey Reed
Webmasters: Charlie Buffie
Greg Leiserson
Weathercaster: Josh Hausman

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