The Colgate Scene
Around the college
Students and faculty mingle and enjoy food and music during the ALANA Cultural Center's annual kickoff barbecue. [Photo by Matt Culbreth '09]
Nearly 200 students returned to campus 12 days before classes started to attend Colgate's third annual Leadership Institute.
The program brought together student leaders from the Student Government Association, Office of Residential Life, Greek life, Colgate Activities Board, Office of Admission, Center for Career Services, and Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education.
Over three days, the institute teaches practical skill development with broad theories of leadership, according to Tim Mansfield, the assistant dean of student affairs who heads the program. Activities focus primarily on self-discovery, group development, and responsibility to community.
"Students tell us that one of the greatest benefits is the chance to network and problem-solve with students from all across campus before school begins," said Mansfield.
On the third day, students analyzed four campus issues: alcohol use, school spirit, communication, and diversity. The students developed action plans and presented their efforts at the closing dinner. The strategies will be reviewed by the institute's planning committee, and those that are endorsed will be funded by the university's Wellness Initiative.
Three alumni — Andy Greenfield '74, Karl Stewart '91, and Jennifer Erickson '99 — came to campus to offer keynote addresses.
"Their input was invaluable to the program, and I think it provided a genuine opportunity for open discussion among the students," said Mansfield.
Mike Wenger '09 pals around with children he worked with during his summer volunteer experience in Kenya. [Photo courtesy of Mike Wenger '09]
Before Mike Wenger '09 finished six weeks of volunteer work in Ngong, Kenya, he was already planning his return.
He intends to go back to assess the progress of the nonprofit organization on which he collaborated, Rural Reading Centers-Africa. Through a series of book drives — including a successful drive on campus in September — Wenger has been collecting books for the nonprofit, whose ultimate goal is to build 13 libraries in Kenya.
While in Ngong, a town 30 minutes southwest of Nairobi, Wenger identified the dire need for reading centers in rural areas, where "there is no concept of a library, and with the level of poverty, children can't afford books, although they have an interest," he said.
Further inspiration came to him in the airport on his way home when he stumbled upon the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood. Identifying with Wood's motivation to use his business savvy to cause positive change, Wenger began to map out his plan.
The final piece of the puzzle snapped into place when Wenger met Philip Thiuri, a William Paterson University geography/urban studies professor who had the same vision. Wenger partnered up with Thiuri, who had already set the wheels in motion for the nonprofit.
One of the reading centers will be at the Gethsemane Children's Home, where Wenger lived and volunteered this past summer. While at the orphanage, he taught the 32 children various subjects, prepared meals, did repairs, and helped with the construction of a new orphanage down the road.
Knowing he wanted to contribute more than his time, Wenger sent letters to friends and family asking for donations prior to leaving for Kenya. The $5,000 he raised allowed him to buy a much-needed classroom chalkboard, take the children on a field trip, and install a system to collect and store water in a Maasai village. The remaining funds will help pay for the transportation costs to ship books to Africa.
Wenger said he has always had an interest in Africa. "You hear about so many problems [over there] that people view it as a lost cause. I wanted to go there to get a sense of hope and see how I could contribute to change," he said.
So, while many of his fellow economics majors headed to summer internships on Wall Street, Wenger applied to the Global Volunteer Network. A grant from the university's Arthur Watson Jr. '76 Fund helped his desire become a reality by covering his trip-related expenses.
The hopefulness Wenger was looking for presented itself in the people, who he said may not have many material belongings, but "are happy with what they have, content with life, and optimistic about the future."
To preserve the past and prepare for his next visit, Wenger and the children made a time capsule that included pictures and letters to their future selves, so that they can open it when he returns.
Wenger hopes that the future will bring education to the children of Kenya, through the efforts of the nonprofit — that they will be inspired by books as he has been.
Rural Reading Centers-Africa is furthering its educational initiative by creating a scholarship fund for African girls. For more information, visit www.ruralreadingcenters-africa.org.
Writer, actor, economist, and lawyer Ben Stein kicked off Welcome Back Week with a keynote speech in the chapel. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
Actor, lawyer, author, game-show host, and former White House speechwriter Ben Stein advised students crammed into Memorial Chapel on August 28 how they could "ruin" their lives.
Stein has published 16 books, including How to Ruin Your Financial Life and How to Ruin Your Love Life. Students erupted in laughter as he provided advice dripping with sarcasm:
In a more serious moment, Stein stressed the importance of hard work.
"Work is an incredibly redemptive experience. Work gives you a feeling of self-worth and gives you a feeling that you belong on earth and you've earned your place on earth," he said.
Stein served as a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford. A former lawyer, he has written for the Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and the Washington Post.
He is also a well-known actor; the scene where he played a monotone teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off was recently ranked as one of the 50 most famous scenes in American film. He also hosted the popular quiz show, Win Ben Stein's Money.
Stein's lecture was the first of a series of activities for Colgate's Welcome Back Week, which included an ice cream social, barbecue, open mic night, and concerts. His appearance was primarily sponsored by the College Republicans, Student Lecture Forum, and Pre-Law Society. — Brittany Messenger '10
Dmitry Krymov and members of his acclaimed Russian theater troupe from the School of Dramatic Art meet with students in a drama workshop in Ryan Studio. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
A workshop about unconventional theater — spoken primarily in Russian — took place in a dance studio in the arts building on campus Aug. 29.
Talk about a conversation that blurred boundaries.
The director of an internationally acclaimed Russian theater group and 12 of his students discussed the evolution of their revolutionary form of theater with about 50 Colgate students and faculty members.
Dmitry Krymov and members of his School of Dramatic Art, based in Moscow, also performed the play Donky Khot at Brehmer Theater. The play is loosely based on Cervantes's Don Quixote.
Krymov has been praised as the creator of a new form of theater/performance art that utilizes drawn images that appear to come to life on stage. In fact, many of his performers are not actors, but set designers.
The theater group was on campus for 10 days, meeting Colgate students through workshops and rehearsing for their three performances. Their appearance was supported primarily through the university's Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts and its Cathy MacNeil Hollinger '83 and Mark Hollinger '81 Artist-in-Residence Theater Program.
Adrian Giurgea, director of Colgate's theater program, brought the group to campus. He met Krymov three years ago, performing in one of his productions.
"He brought me to Moscow to act in a play, even though I had never acted before, in a language I couldn't speak, Russian," said Giurgea.
"Having them here [was] such a great opportunity for our students and for members of the community to see theater unlike anything they have seen before," said Giurgea.
Benjamin Busch, son of the late Frederick Busch, longtime English professor, is greeted by his former Sherburne-Earlville Central School District kindergarten teacher at the opening reception for his photography exhibition, The Art in War, in the Clifford Gallery, in September. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
As a child, Benjamin Busch played war in the Dana Arts Center while his father, Frederick Busch, longtime Colgate professor, was at work.
From late August through October, Busch's evocative photographs of war were exhibited in the same campus art galleries where he once played.
While serving as commanding officer of a Marine Corps company during two tours of duty in Iraq, Busch said he used photography to record "Iraq at a pivotal moment between its dissolving past and uncertain future."
In two separate lectures on campus in September, Busch spoke about the letters that he wrote home and the images he captured during his tours of duty in 2003 and 2005.
The photographs come together in two collections: The Art in War and Occupation, which were on display in the Longyear Museum of Anthropology and Clifford Art Gallery.
The images from his first tour were never intended for a show, explained Busch. "I took them out of a need to take them ... to record in some way." An art professor at Vassar College, his alma mater, encouraged him to create a show after seeing the photos, and Busch agreed.
While Busch planned on using photos from the second tour in an exhibition, the concept behind the images remained the same — a minimalist approach and framing his images as rectangles.
"I had only one chance to take a photograph of any moment there. For every one I got, I missed one hundred," he said.
Busch expressed anger over what he described as the betrayal of the news services in covering the war. He said only three reporters visited his Marine company's base during his seven-month tour and only one went "beyond the wire" into the more dangerous combat areas.
He said his photos depict what it means to be at war, without political overtones.
"My photos are not pro-war. They are not anti-war. They don't say that the war is a mistake or that it is the best thing we have ever done. What they do say is, it was war. It was Iraq, and we were there." — Brittany Messenger '10
Carlos Ojeda Jr. gives a motivational speech at the ALANA Cultural Center. [Photo by Kali McMillan '10]
In high school, Carlos Ojeda Jr. was told by teachers that he would never amount to anything. "The guidance counselor told me I could either be a musician or a mechanic," he said, "because that's all that kids like me were good for."
Today, the successful entrepreneur, speaker, and poet travels the country to spread his inspirational message to high school and college students about the importance of education, community service, and activism.
Ojeda launched Hispanic Heritage Month at the ALANA Cultural Center on September 13 when he gave an impassioned account of his journey to overcome hardship as a Latino youth in an aggressively violent community.
His mantra, "Life is not measured by the breaths that you take, but rather by the moments in life that take your breath away," is reflective of the events that have motivated him to excel.
As a first-generation Puerto Rican American, he underwent several difficult life lessons before his parents' struggles and sacrifices smacked him into maturity.
"Every memory I have of my father is him working — getting up at six in the morning to kiss me on the forehead before going to work, coming home for lunch at noon only to go back forty-five minutes later, coming home at four o'clock to have some dinner and leave to work overtime."
A persistent guidance counselor was the first teacher to offer encouragement to Ojeda, who said he spent most of his high school career goofing off and working on his pick-up lines. The counselor's persuasion paid off.
Much to his astonishment, Ojeda aced the SAT — which he had never even heard of until that point — and was accepted into every college to which he applied. With most of his friends "dead, in jail, or worse," Ojeda decided to leave that life behind and was amazed by the support of his community.
"The people in my barrio — people who live paycheck to paycheck — took money out of their pockets so I could pay for books because I was the first person in the neighborhood to go to college," he recalled.
He graduated with honors from Bloomsburg University and later earned his master's in business administration from Kutztown University.
Now Ojeda is paying it forward by empowering youth nationwide to be involved in their communities and to lead by example. "Leave your footprints in the snow so that people can follow them," he said.
S.L.A.M. keynote speaker "Rudy" Ruettiger signs autographs in Memorial Chapel. [Photo by Matt Culbreth '09]
From left to right: William B. Allen, political science professor at Michigan State University; Stanley Brubaker, constitutional law professor at Colgate; and Randall Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor of law at Harvard Law School, raised serious and heated discussions of law and social policy during the debate "Is the Constitution Color Blind or Color Conscious?" [Photo by Matt Culbreth '09]
Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who inspired millions with his against-all-odds determination to play football at Notre Dame, advised students to never lose sight of their dreams.
Ruettiger was the keynote speaker at the S.L.A.M. (students, leaders, artists, and motivators) Conference in September, which was geared mostly toward first-year students participating in LOFT and Gate 101 — two leadership programs that are part of the First-Year Experience.
The daylong event of leadership-strengthening workshops culminated in a screening of the 1993 classic Rudy followed by an address by the legend himself.
"You start visualizing where you want to be and where you want to go. Adversity is there. Overcome adversity; don't look for it," he said. — Brittany Messenger '10
Constitution Day was honored on campus with a debate in Persson Auditorium titled "Racial Equality Under the Constitution: Is the Constitution Color Blind or Color Conscious?"
While introducing the two guest debaters, Professor Stanley Brubaker talked about practicing diversity, noting that the "central art of democracy is disciplined discourse."
Each speaker presented his case for approximately 20 minutes and then had a five-minute opportunity for rebuttal. Professor William B. Allen of Michigan State University presented his case first, which was crafted around the question, "Should the Constitution be color blind?" Allen's argument focused on well-known segregation cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson and passages by Justice John Marshall Harlan. He finished by stating that the "Constitution requires us to see color without seeing a problem," and that "in the eyes of the law, there is no caste here — our Constitution is color blind."
Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy argued "Is the Constitution color blind?" by focusing on three points: text, intention, and precedent. Throughout his presentation, Kennedy asserted that he was "tethering justices to original intent." He stated, "The issue [at hand] is permissibility of the government to draw racial distinctions using friendly legislation."
Posing several questions to the audience about color blindness in the Constitution, he asked, "Should it be permissible for the government to engage in a program of reparative justice [especially after a century of Jim Crow segregation]?"
Ultimately, Kennedy returned to his original question, and with great emphasis, claimed that the constitution is indeed not color blind.
The event — hosted by the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, the Institute for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and the dean of the college — brought together Colgate University professors, faculty, and students.
Both speakers noted the importance of furthering diversity through intellectual discussion and discovering more about others through learned discourse.
A competitive debater himself, Martin Pinnes '08 said, "I chose to attend because I always enjoy watching two debaters who have dedicated their lives to studying the topic of discussion." — Theodora Guliadis '08
Students look closely at Chuck Close: Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000 in the Picker Art Gallery in Dana Arts Center. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
Students, faculty, staff, and local community members gathered at Colgate's Picker Art Gallery in September to celebrate the launch of a new exhibition, Chuck Close: Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000.
They also heard printmaking expert Bill Hall of Pace Editions, New York, describe the process by which Close's visions were transferred from imagination to paper.
"This project represents the most fun I've had during my 35 years in art," he said.
Pieces for the exhibition, initiated under the leadership of former gallery director Elizabeth Barker, came from the collection of Paul J. Schupf '58.
Schupf's passion for art in general and Close's work in particular is being transferred to Colgate students, much like a printer's plate transfers ink to waiting pages.
Between the festivities, undergraduates like Julia Heymans '08 and Patrick Calabro '08 toured the collection, experiencing the groundbreaking pieces on their own terms.
"If you were looking at the picture in a book, you wouldn't see the texture that you can see here," said Calabro. "And it gives me a level of interest I wouldn't normally have had," added Heymans.
Students and art enthusiasts were able to have their own learning experiences simply by walking through the exhibition, which ran through Nov. 4.
One v-shaped alcove featured 12 individual color plate proofs that went into the creation of the show's centerpiece and namesake, Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000.
As the viewer walks the line and peers closely at each subsequent portrait, Close's face takes on new realism, depth, and dimension.
According to Hall, the master printer at Pace, the use of a dozen plates to form a single image represented an immense challenge for him and his colleagues.
"Chuck sets up interesting problems intentionally," said Hall. Then, he draws others in to help him accomplish his goal.
Hall met with art and art history professor Lynn Schwarzer's printmaking class earlier in the day, giving them a sketch of the practical and artistic side of his profession.
"My students were able to talk and learn from someone who is passionate about the medium," Schwarzer said. "We can have a level of conversation now that we couldn't before Bill's visit."
The Class of 2011 is welcomed in the chapel at Founder's Day Convocation. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
"You all are completely capable of having a real impact on the political world around you," environmentalist Bill McKibben said to an audience of Colgate students and professors, community members, and Hamilton College students in September.
"You can do this kind of activism without having any idea what you're up to — because that's certainly been my story," said the writer whose 1989 book, The End of Nature, was the first on global warming for the general public.
Speaking about his grassroots efforts and intellectual work, McKibben's talk was the third fall event for the Center for Ethics and World Societies, whose theme this year is global warming and human society.
He told how his frustration over the fact that even Hurricane Katrina couldn't wake a sleeping country was a catalyst for what became the largest demonstration against climate change in U.S. history.
The five-day, 1,000-person march was dubbed "The Road Less Traveled: Vermonters Walking Toward a Clean Energy Future" — named in part after the poem by Robert Frost, whose cabin was the starting point on Labor Day weekend in 2006.
Next, with minimal means, he started Step It Up 2006 with six students from Middlebury College, where he is a scholar in residence. What began as a website and e-mail blasts to their friends led to 1,400 protests nationwide.
As he explains in his new book, Deep Economy, not only is global expansion leading to the destruction of our planet, America's addiction to economic growth has also led to a "hyperindividualistic" society that is impacting communities as well as the environment.
"Cheap fossil fuel has made us rich, is destroying the fabric of our planet, and has allowed us to become people who no longer need their neighbors," he said.
One of McKibben's proposed solutions involves increased support of economic institutions that pull communities together, such as local businesses and farmer's markets.
In closing, McKibben said: "There are other ways of living that we need to explore sooner rather than later.
"You have the power to do this, to bring about the kind of changes that need to be brought about. Don't just follow blindly the path laid out for you."
Indeed, McKibben urged the audience to take the road less traveled.
Manzi Fellows and guests grab lunch at the COVE before the Doing Well By Doing Good talk about their summer community service experiences at Boston-area nonprofits. [Photo by Kali McMillan '10]
"It opened up a world of knowledge to me, especially in understanding the Pashtuns' tribal loyalties and the Pukhtunwali code of honor," said Colleen Tubridy '10 of the Understanding Afghanistan Through Film event in September.
André Singer, a prominent British anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, spoke in Love Auditorium, followed by a showing of his documentary on Pashtuns, The Pathans, and a question-and-answer session with the audience.
The event was sponsored by Project Afghanistan, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, the Institute for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and the associate dean for academic programs.
The impetus for bringing Singer to campus was to facilitate a new comprehension of Pashtuns and the Taliban for students like Tubridy, who is studying related topics in CORE 183: The Middle East.
"There is an intrinsic value in learning about a culture that is very different from our own," explained Professor "In this interconnected world, that culture has direct relevance to the current U.S. policies and actions."
Singer created the film because he was asked by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to document the massive out-migration of Afghans from Pakistan as a result of the Soviet invasion, according to Nakhimovsky.
However, while teaching at the University of Southern California, Singer realized the greater implications of using the film as an educational vehicle. "I found an astonishing lack of knowledge about how Afghanistan fitted into global politics," he said.
"American and NATO troops are deployed and frequently engaged in action in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan," Nakhimovsky noted. "There are almost daily reports in the press about the events in the tribal areas of Pakistan. For these reasons, Singer's film was important as essential background to understanding current and future events," he continued.
Singer explained: "We see it as a place over there where we're fighting against some kind of tribal group, and I think very few people know about the terrain and what it really is that they're confronting. The actual context of that and the people, I think, remain a mystery to most.
"[I wanted] to give some understanding of people in a society," Singer concluded. — Brittany Messenger '10
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