The Colgate Scene
Around the college
Summit adds momentum to green movement
Nearly 100 participants met for the sixth annual Green Summit to enact environmental change at Colgate and the surrounding community. Discussion groups were formed around individual initiatives, and participants generated short-term goals — Green Strides — to be carried out this semester. This year's 13 initiatives ranged from reducing the use of bottled water, to cutting back on computer printing and paper waste, to staging an Energy Olympics. Brainstorming brought about ideas including "I Drink Tap" (anti—bottled water) stickers and planting trees on the ski hill to offset study group carbon emissions. Participants also spent time celebrating the successes seen over the past year, such as Focus the Nation. [Photo by Kali McMillan '10]
Instead of having to pay an accountant, low-income families in Madison and Chenango counties benefited from the know-how of Colgate students this tax season. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, 30 student volunteers helped about 500 local families file their taxes for free. The VITA program at Colgate, the first student-staffed initiative of its kind in New York, is funded by the university's Upstate Institute. Students are trained, and they must pass an IRS certification test before working on returns.
This year, Colgate students are expected to return more than a million dollars to local filers, money that many families could have missed out on if it weren't for VITA volunteers.
"We help taxpayers realize how much they're entitled to under the Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC. They're often surprised at the amount," said Assistant Professor of Economics Nicole Simpson, who supervises Colgate's VITA program. The EITC is a federal tax break for low-income families. According to Simpson, approximately 20 percent of families who qualify for the credit fail to claim it because they can't afford to pay a professional tax preparer to complete the forms. That's where Colgate students' budding expertise comes into play by educating families for free, and, in the process, putting money back in the pockets of those who need it the most.
"I never would've been able to figure out the tax laws on my own; it really made me feel good that students were helping me," said Jennifer Alsheimer, who will receive more than $8,500 in tax refunds thanks to the help of a student. "I have three children, so this money is going to make a huge difference in my life," she said.
In March, Colgate became one of several universities swept up in media coverage of a controversy over a website called JuicyCampus.com, in which users, promised anonymity, can post unfiltered, unmoderated gossip about people on their campuses.
On March 10, Colgate's Office of Campus Safety was informed of an anonymous post to the website that made reference to shutting down the school by threatening a campus shooting. The university's crisis management team immediately responded out of concern for the community's safety by arranging for significant law enforcement presence on campus and coordinating an investigation with local, state, and federal authorities.
An e-mail message was immediately sent to inform the Colgate community of the issue and the university's actions. By the next morning, the New York State Police had identified and arrested the individual, a Colgate student, who took responsibility for the note. According to published reports, no weapons were found during the course of the investigation, police interviews confirmed that the post was meant as a prank, and the student was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and released on $1,000 bail. At press time no further information was available.
"A message of this nature will never be taken lightly, particularly in light of recent events on college campuses across the nation," Scott C. Brown, associate vice president and dean of students, wrote in a message to Colgate parents informing them of the incident. In February, six students were shot to death at Northern Illinois University, and in April 2007 a student at Virginia Tech killed 32 students before committing suicide in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
University, local, and state authorities were commended for the swift response in a Utica Observer-Dispatch editorial. And the Colgate incident became one of several examples in widespread coverage — in student newspapers as well as national and international news outlets — of how the JuicyCampus site has come under fire for malicious content, prompting attempts to ban and boycott the site at schools around the country, as well as debate and discussion about free speech and consumer protections in cyberspace.
At press time, the Colgate and central New York communities were eagerly awaiting a three-day visit by the
Dalai Lama on April 22 as part of the Global Leaders Lecture Series. Sponsored by the Society of Families, the visit has been made possible thanks to the efforts of Robert H.N. Ho '56, who has had a longstanding relationship with His Holiness. In addition to his talk, highlights of the Dalai Lama's schedule on campus include a tour of the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center with Ho and small group discussions with professors and students. The approximately 1,000 of the 4,900 free tickets available to the general public for the much-anticipated lecture — to be held at Sanford Fieldhouse — were snatched up just three hours after becoming available.
To encourage innovative solutions to environmental crises, the arts and activism were paired up on campus through a series of events titled Environmental Art and New Media Technologies: Imagining Sustainable Futures.
"The old models and ways of doing things are not going to sustain us anymore," said Cary Peppermint, assistant professor of art and art history. "It's the perfect time to consider new ways of working."
Artists working across the boundaries of environmental science, computer science, design, engineering, and eco-criticism participated in this symposium, exploring global warming and sustainability across digital and networked art and research.
The events began with an artists' reception in Little Hall for Nature Version 2.0: Ecological Modernities and Digital Environmentalism, a collection of works from various artists who approach environmentalism in different ways by re-imagining the relationship between nature and technology.
"They are thinking about what environmentalism might be on the Internet or what it might be in the city versus the rural areas," explained Peppermint. "They're bridging these worlds and having dialogues that challenge and redefine our ideas of environmentalism."
Following the reception, Natalie Jeremijenko, a 1999 Rockefeller Fellow whose work is included in the Nature Version 2.0 display, gave the keynote address. Jeremijenko's mission is "to reclaim technology from the idealized, abstract concept of `cyberspace' and apply it to the messy complexities of the real world."
Events continued with 90 Degrees South, a multimedia sound performance by Andrea Polli. The series of sonifications was meant to portray the changes occurring within New York City, especially Central Park, because of global warming. — Brittany Messenger '10
Michael Eric Dyson signs copies of his books after his lecture, "From Sit-ins to Hip Hop." [Photo by Kali McMillan '10]
Michael Eric Dyson left students both moved intellectually and shaking with laughter after his lecture, "From Sit-ins to Hip Hop: Social Consciousness in a Post-King America."
Named by Ebony as one of the 100 most influential black Americans, Dyson is a university professor at Georgetown and author of 14 books. In his lecture, he addressed the importance of thinking critically about the social contributions of young people, the racial progress made in the past 40 years, and the necessity of "going forth into another world and trying to make a difference."
Brothers, a campus organization focused on promoting excellence within and awareness about the multicultural male population, brought Dyson to Love Auditorium in February as a speaker for Black History Month.
"Dr. Dyson is one of the most renowned scholars of religion and African American studies," said Wil Redmond '08, second lieutenant of Brothers. "Offering both props and critiques, he has become the ideological bridge between the civil rights generation and what Bakari Kitwana classifies as the `hip-hop generation.'"
Using his wealth of knowledge, wit, and well-timed pop culture references, Dyson captivated the audience with his dialogue.
In the question and answer session, the audience asked Dyson about the paradoxical portrayal of women in hip-hop, the relationship between coming from a lower-class background and going to an institution like Colgate, and also simply, "What is the next step?"
"I think it's very important for us to engage one another in dialogue," said Dyson. "As college students, you think more sharply about the issues that are important. You're able to have the kind of enthusiasm that is contagious because learning is a lifelong process — not just here at Colgate but beyond. When we have an intervention like this, when we engage one another, we extend that trajectory of learning into the broader realms of our life." — Brittany Messenger '10
Paul Muldoon reads selections of his poetry and answers questions from audience members at Golden Auditorium. [Photo by Luke Connolly '09]
Golden Auditorium was hear-a-pin-drop quiet as Pulitzer Prize—winning poet Paul Muldoon read selections of his work for audience members weighing his every word and inflection.
The following night was rattle-the-walls loud at Donovan's Pub in James C. Colgate Hall when Muldoon and fellow band members played guitar-driven rock songs infused with literate lyrics penned by the poet himself. The performance by Muldoon's band, Rackett, capped a two-day visit to Colgate in which members of the campus and local communities were treated to a versatile testament of the power of the written word through Muldoon's poetry and lyrics.
The 56-year-old native of northern Ireland is a professor at Princeton, chair of the university's Lewis Center for the Arts, and poetry editor for the New Yorker magazine. He won the Pulitzer in 2003 for Moy Sand and Gravel.
For Jacey Heldrich, a senior taking a course on James Joyce, the opportunity to speak with Muldoon about the tradition of Irish literature was an important addition to her class work. "One of the things getting us into the Joyce readings, which are difficult, is learning about the huge conversation and the business of criticism that surround them. So getting to talk to an eminent Irish writer about that kind of legacy is really interesting." Heldrich attended a special dinner with Muldoon.
Carolyn Guile, visiting assistant professor of art and art history, organized Muldoon's visit, which was sponsored by the Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Department of English Living Writers Series. "It's a reality check, in a way, because students see that he's a person with a body, a voice, and not someone they are only reading about in class. Having a chance to see him in action shows them what the possibilities are for poetry and lyric — not to mention the kind of work that goes into the process of poetry and music making," said Guile.
Muldoon spoke about being on campus years ago after receiving an invitation from John McGahern, a widely acclaimed Irish writer who had been associated with Colgate for 37 years before his death in 2006.
"It was very moving to hear Paul talk about John because he was such an important member of our faculty," said Jane Pinchin, Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and Professor of English. She noted another connection to a prominent Irish writer, Seamus Heaney, who often has visited Colgate and who received an honorary degree when he spoke at commencement in 1994. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995. "This connection to such significant writers is a big part of our tradition here," said Pinchin.
Colgate Conversations: Writers and their craft is a new podcast series produced on campus that will feature authors discussing their unique writing styles and their latest works. Faculty members, alumni, and visiting authors are among those to be interviewed by Matt Leone, organizer of the annual Colgate Writer's Conference. The podcast series is a new way to share the passion for writing that is such an important part of the Colgate tradition. Professor Peter Balakian, whose New York Times bestseller The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response, was the first guest of the series. Also listen to a conversation with Kim Edwards '81, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Upcoming guests will include Justin Cronin, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for Mary and O'Neil, and poet Tim Suermondt.
Students gathered in the O'Connor Campus Center on Feb. 28 to engage in formal political discussion as part of a mock Democratic caucus. With tensions running high between the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, students hoped the caucus process would help them better understand the candidates and their platforms.
The event was hosted by College Democrats of Colgate, whose members researched the process for hosting an actual caucus. Sophomore Ashley Lazevnick said the group wanted to adhere to the strict rules in order to fully absorb the experience.
Before the caucus began, a group member gave a brief history of the process and explained how it functions in contemporary campaigns. Students split into three different groups, or "camps," which included Clinton supporters, Obama supporters, and undecided voters. Members of each camp had the opportunity to pose a question and then rebut the opposing side's argument. Undecided voters were encouraged to ask questions to clarify illogical arguments and vague comments.
The discussion grew throughout the evening and centered on the war in Iraq, the integrity of Clinton, and health care plans. Lydia Gottesfeld '08 said the passionate discussion showed that "people were not afraid to voice their opinions."
"The caucus was small enough to engage in some great debate and big enough to have sufficient movement between the different groups," said Gottesfeld. Some students were swayed from one camp to another, proving that the exercise was valuable for all those who attended, she added. — Theodora Guliadis '08
Gospel Fest was hosted by Grammy Award—winning Kirk Franklin, who was backed by 120 students from six local choir groups. [Photo by Kali McMillan '10]
The ALANA Cultural Center's Alumni Weekend and Gospel Fest marked a celebration of the past with an eye toward the future. Colgate graduates from 1968 up through the present were excited to spend the late February weekend with students and faculty members, particularly those who are involved in ALANA cultural activities.
"It's very important to connect the students with graduates of Colgate, so that they hear our experiences and we can hear theirs," said Alonzo McCollum '72. McCollum was one of several alumni present who were members of the Association of Black Collegians who took part in the 1969 sit-in at Merrill House that led to the founding of the cultural center.
A networking social in ALANA and a dinner in the Ho Science Center provided plenty of opportunities for alumni, students, and faculty members to share past experiences and future goals.
"It's a really rewarding experience as far as having people who we have seen in pictures and we have come to idolize," said junior Jamil Jude. "It's really a great opportunity to meet people who have done these things before and are encouraging us to do more and better things than they have done."
After dinner, everyone made their way to Memorial Chapel for Gospel Fest, hosted by Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin and sponsored by the Colgate Sojourners Gospel Choir, which worked with the Office of the Chaplains, ALANA,caand other organizations to bring him to campus.
More than 800 people clapped and sang along as the Sojourners performed, followed by groups from Syracuse, Cortland, Cornell, Ithaca, and Hamilton. "There were so many people in the audience singing and dancing together — black people, white people, brown people, Christian people, Jewish people," said Sojourners president Clarissa Polk '10. "It was a learning experience, something different."
After the individual choral pieces, Franklin took the stage, backed by the 120 students from the six different groups.
Alumni and students were happy to see students having their voices heard on campus — both on the stage and off. "Forty years from now, I hope there is a strong group of alumni that is eager and always willing to come back to Colgate, and that the students who are graduating are looking forward to coming back and contributing," said Thomas Cruz-Soto, director of the cultural center. — Brittany Messenger '10
Artist-activist Tim Rollins facilitated a workshop for regional teachers, arts program administrators, and Colgate students interested in art education and art as activism. [Photo by Bill Bullen]
The act of creating something is both a tangible enterprise and an empowering exercise.
Knowing this full well, artist Tim Rollins, who recently visited Colgate, has given inner-city youths a concrete reason to pursue literacy and a path to achievement for more than 20 years. He and his Kids of Survival (KOS) read and discuss works of literature and music and then explore ways to find visual counterpoints to them. Their finished works of art, rooted in both the classic canon and urban street culture, have been shown in museums around the world.
Their exhibition "Let there be Light: After the Creation" was created in collaboration with metropolitan Washington, D.C.—area elementary, middle, high school, and George Mason University students along with several professional artists.
Inspired by Franz Josef Haydn's oratorio The Creation (which is based upon the account of the first seven days in Genesis and Milton's Paradise Lost), the exhibition features artworks including a folio of seven screen prints. Rollins encouraged the group to investigate ideas of creation, including research into the big-bang theory and images collected by the Hubbell telescope.
Mounted in Little Hall's Clifford Gallery from Feb. 25—April 6, "Let there be Light" became the focal point for several campus and community events, including an outreach workshop for area arts administrators, middle and high school teachers, and Colgate students.
Another exhibition, in the Picker Art Gallery, featured Rollins's and KOS's work in progress on a National Science Foundation commission to create a work that responds to Darwin's The Origin of Species for the 150th anniversary of its publication. That exhibition became the subject of a faculty development lunch and talk aimed at the Western Traditions and Challenge of Modernity core courses.
The programs were sponsored by Colgate's Institute for Creative and Performing Arts, art and art history department, Picker Art Gallery, University Studies, and the Faculty Development Council.
Conservative columnist George Will speaks about the presidential campaign at Memorial Chapel. [Photo by Barrett Brassfield]
George Will, a Pulitzer Prize—winning conservative journalist and author, used an impressive array of facts, his sharp wit, and several well-timed baseball references to illustrate the state of politics today. In his lecture, "American Politics: The Political Argument Today," Will discussed the limits of government — criticizing what he called the ever-growing welfare state that he said encourages a sense of entitlement. He spoke in defense of free market capitalism and said the American people need to be more self-reliant.
The dry humor behind Will's sardonic tone engaged the audience as he laid out his case for a more limited government in terms of foreign and economic policies.
The Center for Freedom and Western Civilization organized Will's visit to Memorial Chapel. Professor Robert Kraynak established the center in 2004 to promote intellectual diversity by presenting a conservative voice on campus.
Will's lecture succeeded in encouraging a true political conversation when the floor opened up for a question-and-answer session following his talk. Audience members asked Will his opinions on immigration, term limits, and the effect of "the golden age of information" on today's society.
Students were excited to have the opportunity to hear such a vibrant intellectual. "Will speaks his mind and he'll get after liberals and conservatives alike," said Andrew Spano '10, president of the College Republicans, which worked with the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization to bring Will to campus. "You don't have to agree with everything he says, but as long as he gets you to think, that's important." — Brittany Messenger '10
"I was so nervous and I called my mom and asked her what to do. There was a sweet little old lady who helped me, knowing that it was my first time. I had her take a picture of me. It may not be a big moment for a lot of people, but it was special for me."
Adonal Foyle '98 in the Palm Beach Post, about his first time voting in the presidential primary after becoming a U.S. citizen last spring. The center for the Orlando Magic and founder of the grassroots program Democracy Matters hails from the Caribbean island of Canouan.
Joanne Race Borfitz joined Colgate as associate vice president of community relations and auxiliary services on April 7. She fills a new position created to manage Colgate's relationship with and investments in local and regional communities. She also oversees the primary auxiliary operations of the university, such as the university bookstore, the department of document and mail services, and Colgate Camp in the Adirondacks. Borfitz plays an active role in community organizations, serving as the advisory board chairperson for Catholic Charities of Chenango County and as a former board and committee member of the United Way of Chenango County.
Since 2001, Borfitz has served as the executive director of the Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) in Cortland, a health workforce development organization serving 14 area counties. Before joining CNYAHEC, Borfitz held several senior-level positions at Chenango Memorial Hospital. She also has worked at Tompkins Cortland Community College and the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce.
On July 1, the Dean's Advisory Council will welcome Scott Kraly, Charles A. Dana Professor of psychology, as director of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for a three-year term.caKraly's teaching specialties include physiological psychology, neuroscience, psychopharmacology, and experimental psychology, while his research interests include neuroendocrine control of drinking and eating.caHe has published several articles that have appeared in professional journals as well as a recent book, Brain Science and Psychological Disorders.caKraly has also contributed to the core program through his teaching and has extensive institutional service that includes election to the Committee on Promotion and Tenure and multiple terms on the Committee on Budget and Financial Planning, appointment as faculty representative to the NCAA for a number of years, directorship of the neuroscience program, and two terms as department chair.
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