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Fears grow of US coronavirus surge from George Floyd protests
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 02, 2020
“* Demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks * Trump under fire as violence flares across America * George Floyd protests: live coverageEven as all US states continue further phased reopening of businesses and social movement amid the coronavirus pandemic, governors, mayors and public health officials across the US are raising fears of a surge in cases of Covid-19 arising from escalating protests over the death of George Floyd.Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis a week ago, on Memorial Day, during an arrest by four police officers. The killing focused a fierce light on police brutality towards African Americans, and stoked protest and violence in most major cities.According to figures from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the US has seen nearly 1.8m infections and surpassed 105,000 deaths  in the Covid-19 pandemic. In a country that does not have universal healthcare, the crisis has disproportionately affected minorities, particularly those who live in crowded urban areas.Images of demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks, have therefore alarmed leaders – to the point where some are pleading with those on the streets to protest “the right way”, in order to better protect themselves.On Monday, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, expressed concern about “super spreaders” in the crowds of protesters seen across the state, but especially among throngs in New York City. New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, also urged protesters to maintain social distancing and wear masks.“Obviously we don’t want people in close proximity to each other, we don’t want people out there where they might catch this disease or spread this disease,” he said.Police outside the White House fired teargas at protesters on Monday evening while Donald Trump was holding a press conference inside. Substances such as teargas make people cough, which can spread viruses more easily.“I’m concerned that we had mass gatherings on our streets when we just lifted a stay-at-home order and what that could mean for spikes in coronavirus cases later,” Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, had said on Sunday.“I’m so concerned about it that I’m urging everybody to consider their exposure, if they need to isolate from their family members when they go home and if they need to be tested … because we have worked very hard to blunt the curve.”Bowser said protests in her city, which has seen violence several days in a row at the White House and other areas, were a mixed bag.“While I saw some people with masks last night, others didn’t,” she said. “I saw some people social distancing, other people were right on top of each other. So we don’t want to compound this deadly virus and the impact it’s had on our community.“We’ve been working hard to not have mass gatherings. As a nation, we have to be concerned about rebound.”Bowser’s message was echoed by Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, and by Keisha Lance-Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, who said she was “extremely concerned” about Covid-19 spreading, and that protests had distracted her from dealing with the pandemic.On Saturday, Bottoms said at a press conference: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a Covid test this week.”On Sunday, she told CNN’s State of the Union: “I realised that I hadn’t looked at our coronavirus numbers in two days. And that’s frightening, because it’s a pandemic, and people of color are getting hit harder.“We know what’s already happening in our community with this virus. We’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.”According to the Georgia health department, more African Americans have contracted Covid-19 in the state than any other race.“The question is: how do we do protesting safely?” Dr Ashish Jha, the director of the global health institute at Harvard’s TH Chan school of public health, told CNN. “I think masks are a critical part of it.”In New York, De Blasio said he supported the public’s right to demonstrate peacefully but added that the protests meant an uncertain future.“You have all the frustrations about injustice, combined with the frustrations about the injustice within the pandemic, because the pandemic displayed immense disparity combined with the fact that people spent two months cooped up indoors,” he said.“We don’t know what the summer brings.”Dr Theodore Long, leading the city’s contact tracing strategy, offered advice.“We strongly encourage anybody who is out in the protests to wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene and to the extent possible, socially distance, though we know that’s not always going to be feasible,” he said.”
2 Atlanta police officers were fired and 3 were placed on desk duty for their use of force in arresting 2 college students during a Saturday night protest
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter, who were both members of the department's fugitive unit, were terminated from the Atlanta Police Department.”
UK taxpayers may be funding research for China’s defence project
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“Experts fear British taxpayers could inadvertently be contributing to funding the Chinese defence programme, after millions of pounds of public funds were poured into technology research undertaken in collaboration with controversial Chinese universities known for their military links. The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council distributed more than £6.5 million to British universities including Manchester for technology studies that were undertaken with these controversial Chinese institutions, according to disclosures on academic papers. While the research programmes focused on technologies that could be used for civilian purposes, experts have warned that they also have the potential to be used for military applications, prompting fears that taxpayer-funded research by British universities could be exploited by Beijing. In two cases, researchers even stated on their grant application forms that the technologies they were looking at could have “both civilian and military applications” or be used for “military controlling”. The disclosure comes days after The Telegraph revealed that Huawei has also backed a string of research projects linking British universities with Chinese defence institutions, which focused on these so-called “dual use” technologies. Huawei denies any wrongdoing. Experts have now warned that the studies funded by the EPSRC may be part of a worrying pattern of partnerships between British universities and Chinese universities that are known for their strong military ties – and that they could be used to fuel both China’s controversial surveillance regime and its declared ambition to become the world’s most powerful military force by 2049. On Sunday night, Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith said the collaborations were “tantamount to transfer of technologies to the Chinese government” and accused the EPSRC and British universities of “living in a naïve world”. “You cannot say that there is any [Chinese] institution that is safe from the reach of that government… If they take technology as part of a market position, they can use it for other things.” His warning comes as Beijing faces growing international hostility over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and attempts to crush dissent in Hong Kong. The EPSRC defended the payments. Executive chairwoman Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “These grants were fully consistent with government policy. All UK funding was directed to fund research by UK universities.” A spokesman added that it allocates funding to research projects rather than individual papers “through the lens of the quality of academic research”, and that it is for individual universities to decide who they work with as long as there is no legal breach and the other universities cover their own costs. A Telegraph investigation identified seven papers that were undertaken by British institutions in partnership with Chinese universities, as part of research programmes that accessed EPSRC grants totalling £6,637,875. The funding body is one of nine organisations that make up UK Research and Innovation, which states on its website that it is “principally funded” by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Two of the papers were co-authored by researchers at China's so-called "Seven Sons of National Defence", universities tasked with developing China's defence programme, and six were undertaken with the in-house academy for the People's Liberation Army. Of the money dished out by the EPSRC, £305,891 went to the University of Manchester for research it undertook with Beihang University – an institution sanctioned by America for its work on rockets and drones. The grant application to EPSRC boasted that it would could be used for “environmental monitoring or military controlling". A spokesman for the University of Manchester said: “We carry out due diligence on all research collaborations and we have clear ethical and intellectual property polices and guidelines which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts.” Six of the papers were also funded by Huawei, and the remaining one was worked on by its researchers. The company has insisted that they all focused on “common areas of research for telecoms equipment suppliers”, and that it has strict rules to ensure the research it backs is not used for military purposes. “We do not conduct military research either directly, or indirectly, nor do we work on military or intelligence projects for the Chinese government or any other government,” a spokesman said.”
Thousands of Complaints Do Little to Change Police Ways
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“In nearly two decades with the Minneapolis Police Department, Derek Chauvin faced at least 17 misconduct complaints, none of which derailed his career.Over the years, civilian review boards came and went, and a federal review recommended that the troubled department improve its system for flagging problematic officers.All the while, Chauvin tussled with a man before firing two shots, critically wounding him. He was admonished for using derogatory language and a demeaning tone with the public. He was named in a brutality lawsuit. But he received no discipline other than two letters of reprimand.It was not until Chauvin, 44, was seen in a video with his left knee pinned to the neck of a black man, prone for nearly nine minutes and pleading for relief, that the officer, who is white, was suspended, fired and then, on Friday, charged with murder.His case is not unusual. Critics say the department, despite its long history of accusations of abuse, never fully put in place federal recommendations to overhaul the way in which it tracks complaints and punishes officers -- with just a handful over the years facing termination or severe punishment.Even as outrage has mounted over deaths at the hands of the police, it remains notoriously difficult in the United States to hold officers accountable, in part because of the political clout of police unions, the reluctance of investigators, prosecutors and juries to second-guess an officer's split-second decision and the wide latitude the law gives police officers to use force.Police departments themselves have often resisted civilian review or dragged their feet when it comes to overhauling officer disciplinary practices. And even change-oriented police chiefs in cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia -- which over the last few years have been the sites of high-profile deaths of black men by white officers -- have struggled to punish or remove bad actors.The challenge has played out against and reinforced racial divisions in America, with largely white police forces accused of bias and brutality in black, Latino and other minority communities. Floyd's death came just weeks after Ahmaud Arbery, a black man in southeast Georgia, was pursued by three white men and killed, and after Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was fatally shot by police in Kentucky.Their deaths have unleashed a wave of tremendous protests across the country, extending far beyond Minneapolis on Friday, with protesters destroying police vehicles in Atlanta and New York, and blocking major streets in San Jose, California, and Detroit -- all cities that have wrestled with accusations of police misconduct.In Minneapolis, authorities took quick action against Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd's death, firing them one day after a graphic video emerged of the encounter. But that does not mean the officers are gone for good. Public employees can appeal their dismissals -- and in scores of cases across the country, the officers often win.The St. Paul Pioneer Press analyzed five years' worth of such appeals and found that between 2014 and 2019, Minnesota arbitrators -- a group that hears a range of public service complaints -- ruled in favor of terminated law enforcement and correction officers 46% of the time, reinstating them.In three terminations involving law enforcement officers that were reviewed this year, two were overturned.Dave Bicking, a board member of Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin Cities advocacy group, said many disciplinary actions are overturned because they are compared to previous cases, making it hard for departments to reverse a history of leniency or respond to changing community expectations."Because the department has never disciplined anybody, for anything, when they try to do it now, it's considered arbitrary and capricious," he said.Bicking described a history of attempts to clean up the Minneapolis police force, which is overwhelmingly white and for decades has faced accusations of excessive force, especially by African American residents.In Minneapolis, a city heralded for its progressive politics, pretty parks and robust employment, the racial divide runs deep. From education to wages, African Americans are at a disadvantage, graduating at much lower rates and earning about one-third less than white residents.And while black residents account for about 20% of the city's population, police department data shows they are more likely to be pulled over, arrested and have force used against them than white residents. And black people accounted for more than 60% of the victims in Minneapolis police shootings from late 2009 through May 2019, data shows.When there was a civilian review board to field the complaints, it would recommend discipline, but the police chief at the time would often refuse to impose it, said Bicking, who served on the board.Across the country, civilian review boards -- generally composed of members of the public -- have been notoriously weak. They gather accounts, but cannot enforce any recommendations.In 2008, the Police Executive Research Forum issued a report on disciplinary procedures in Minneapolis, at the department's behest. It recommended resetting expectations with a new, matrix specifying violations and consequences. But Bicking said the department soon fell back to old ways.In 2012, the civilian board in Minneapolis was replaced by an agency called the Office of Police Conduct Review. Since then, more than 2,600 misconduct complaints have been filed by members of the public, but only 12 have resulted in an officer being disciplined, Bicking said. The most severe censure has been a 40-hour suspension, he said."When we say there's a failure of accountability and discipline in this city, it is extreme," he said, adding that the City Council had promised to review the board, but has yet to do so.Any member of the public may file a complaint, and experts say that the volume of complaints may reflect a host of issues other than actual misconduct, such as the level of trust the community has in its department.Maria Haberfeld, an expert on police training and discipline at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said Chauvin's complaint tally averaged to less than one a year, not unusual for a street officer, and probably not high enough to trigger an early warning system.But the patchwork nature of the city's disciplinary tracking was clear in Chauvin's case. The city released an Internal Affairs summary with 17 complaints. The city's police conduct database listed only 12, some of which did not appear to be included in the summary, and Communities United Against Police Brutality, which also maintains a database, had yet more complaint numbers not included in the first two sources.The nature of the complaints was not disclosed.Chauvin was one of four officers who responded to a call on Memorial Day that a man had tried buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. The other officers, identified by authorities as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, also were fired and remain under investigation. The county attorney said he expected to bring charges, but offered no further details.Neither Lane nor Kueng had misconduct complaints filed against them, according to the department. But Thao faced six in his career and also was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed he and another officer punched, kicked and kneed an African American man, leaving the man with broken teeth and bruises.According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred in early October 2014, when the man, Lamar Ferguson, then 26, was walking home with his girlfriend. A police car approached and Ferguson's girlfriend kept walking.The lawsuit states that Thao asked Ferguson to put his hands on the roof of the car and then handcuffed him. The complaint said that the other officer then "falsely stated there was a warrant out" for Ferguson's arrest regarding an incident involving family members. Ferguson told the officers he had no information to tell them.During the encounter, "Officer Thao then threw" Ferguson, "handcuffed, to the ground and began hitting him."Patrick R. Burns, one of the lawyers who represented Ferguson, said in an interview Friday that the city settled the case for $25,000."What I learned from that case and several others I have handled against the department is that some of the officers think they don't have to abide by their own training and rules when dealing with the public," he said.The head of the police union, Lt. Bob Kroll, is himself the subject of at least 29 complaints. Three resulted in discipline, The Star Tribune reported in 2015. Kroll was accused of using excessive force and racial slurs, in a case that was dismissed, and was named in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought in 2007 by several officers, including the man who is now the police chief.Teresa Nelson, legal director for the ACLU of Minnesota, said attempts by the city's police leaders to reform the department's culture have been undermined by Kroll, who she said downplays complaints and works to reinstate officers who are fired, no matter the reason.She said that in a 2015 meeting after a fatal police shooting, Kroll told her that he views community complaints like fouls in basketball. "He told me, 'If you're not getting any fouls, you're not working hard enough,'" she said.Kroll did not return several messages seeking comment this week.Changing department policies and culture can take years, even when there is a will to do so.In 2009, the Minneapolis department instituted an Early Intervention System to track red flags such as misconduct allegations, vehicle pursuits, use of force and discharge of weapons. Such systems are supposed to identify "potential personnel problems" before they become threats to public trust or generate costly civil rights lawsuits.In a case similar to the death of Floyd, David Cornelius Smith, a black man with mental illness, died in 2010 after two officers trying to subdue him held him prone for nearly four minutes. The chief at the time defended the officers, and they were never disciplined, said Robert Bennett, a lawyer who represented Smith's family.In 2013, the police chief at the time, Janee Harteau, asked the Department of Justice to review the department's warning system. A federal report found that it had "systemic challenges" and questioned its ability to "create sustainable behavior change."Early warning systems are considered a key part of righting troubled departments, criminologists say. Most cities that have been found to have a pattern of civil rights violations and placed under a federal consent decree, or improvement plan, are required to have one.Harteau, who left the top post in the wake of a 2017 fatal police shooting, said she took many steps to reform the department, including training officers on implicit bias and mandating the use of body cameras. But the police union, she said, fought her at every turn.In 2016, the department updated its use of force policy to hold officers accountable for intervening if they see their fellow officers using excessive force, Nelson said.The new policy, made in the wake of previous fatal shootings, was part of an effort to reform police culture in the city."It's why you saw four officers fired," in Floyd's case, she said.It's not clear whether an improved early warning system would have flagged Chauvin, who also had been involved in at least three shootings in his career, or the other officers involved in Floyd's death. Departments choose from a number of bench marks, and from a range of responses when they are exceeded.Haberfeld, the training expert, said police departments will not change until they invest significantly more in recruitment and training, areas where the U.S. lags far behind other democracies.Otherwise, she said, "There is a scandal, there is a call for reform -- committees and commissions and nothing happens. Nothing."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company”
Double murder suspect arrested after multistate manhunt
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 29, 2020
“The manhunt for the 23-year-old college senior had spanned Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.”
Falling Into the Gap Year
by NYT > Education
May 29, 2020
“With next semester a question mark, more graduating high school seniors are considering deferring college. But what will they do instead?”
Cheered by Private Schools, DeVos Demands Public Education Shares Pandemic Aid
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 27, 2020
“WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, defiant amid criticism that she is using the coronavirus pandemic to pursue a long-sought agenda, said she will force public school districts to share a large portion of federal rescue funding with private school students, regardless of income.DeVos announced the measure in a letter to the Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents state education chiefs, defending her position on how education funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, should be spent."The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers and families," DeVos wrote in the letter Friday. "There is nothing in the act suggesting Congress intended to discriminate between children based on public or nonpublic school attendance, as you seem to do. The virus affects everyone."A range of education officials say DeVos' guidance would divert millions of dollars away from disadvantaged students and force districts starved of tax revenues during an economic crisis to support even the wealthiest private schools. The association representing the nation's schools superintendents told districts to ignore the guidance, and at least two states -- Indiana and Maine -- said they would.DeVos accused the state education chiefs of having a "reflex to share as little as possible with students and teachers outside of their control" and said she would draft a rule codifying her position to "resolve any issues in plenty of time for the next school year." The proposed rule would need to go through a public comment process before it could take effect.Private school leaders​​​, who serve about 5.7 million of the nation's children, say they too are in crisis. Enrollment and tuition revenues are plunging along with philanthropic donations and church collections that help some religious schools operate. Many of those schools serve low-income students whose parents have fled failing public schools. Private school groups say 30% of ​the​ families​ they serve have​ annual incomes below $75,000, and those families are most at risk without federal aid. ​"I don't understand why we have to pick winners and losers when everything we're asking for is targeted at helping children and families," said Jennifer Daniels, associate director for public policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.Under federal education law, school districts are required to use funding intended for their poorest students to provide "equitable services," such as tutoring and transportation, for low-income students attending private schools in their districts. But DeVos maintains the coronavirus rescue law does not limit funding to just poor students, and her guidance would award private schools more services than the law would normally require.Last week, leaders from education committees in the House and Senate, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said DeVos' interpretation was flawed.Democratic leaders called on DeVos to revise her guidance, which they said would "repurpose hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for public school students to provide services for private school students, in contravention of both the plain reading of the statute and the intent of Congress."Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said the organization believed the secretary's guidance "could significantly harm the vulnerable students who were intended to benefit the most from the critical federal COVID-19 education relief funds Congress has provided."DeVos has been unabashed in her use of coronavirus funding to further her decadeslong effort to divert public dollars to private and parochial schools. In a radio interview last week, first reported by Chalkbeat, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, asked DeVos if she was "utilizing this particular crisis to ensure that justice is finally done to our kids and the parents who choose to send them to faith-based schools." She responded, "Absolutely."In her letter, DeVos said "a growing list of nonpublic schools have announced they will not be able to reopen, and these school closures are concentrated in low-income and middle-class communities."At least 26 schools, the vast majority of them Catholic, have announced closures caused by or attributed to the pandemic, according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian research organization that is tracking such announcements. The National Catholic Educational Association said that at least 100 of its member schools are at risk of not reopening. More than 40 groups that support private schools wrote to House and Senate leaders this month asking for tuition aid, tax credits for families and other measures to prevent "massive nonpublic school closures."Leaders in some religious communities say they cannot fall back on public education."It is unthinkable for us not to give our children a Jewish education, in the same way it is unthinkable for us not to keep the Sabbath or the kosher dietary laws -- it is fundamental to Jewish life," said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president for federal affairs at Agudath Israel of America, one of the groups that signed the letter.Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, announced it would close 10 schools. ​While the organization said a plan to consolidate had already been underway, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of Newark, ​wrote in a letter to the community that​ "this historical moment presents crucial challenges to the sustainability and ongoing success of our schools."Among the closed schools was Cristo Rey Newark High School, part of a network of 37 Catholic college-preparatory schools across the country that exclusively serves low-income students."My concern is that people are painting this with a very large brush stroke that's based on an assumption that Catholic and private means fancy and expensive, and that is not the case," said Elizabeth Goettl, president of the Cristo Rey Network.Ninety-eight percent of the network's 12,000 students are students of color, and all of them are from financially disadvantaged families, Goettl said. Only 10% of the schools' operational revenue comes from tuition, and every family pays what they can on a sliding scale, on average about $900 a year, though some pay as little as $20 a month.Fifty percent of the school's operational revenue comes from a corporate work-study program that could be affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic. Companies employ students in entry-level jobs, and students assign their wages to their tuition."They're literally earning their education at age 14, which is remarkable in itself," she said. "For the federal government to say we're not going to help your kids sanitize, or do whatever COVID-related things that need to be done, seems reprehensible."A recently passed House bill would limit private schools from accessing any new emergency relief funding, including equitable services. But private school leaders have launched an aggressive campaign to lobby Congress and the White House."When all is said and done, people are going to try to do the right thing and not try to pick which students we're not going to keep safe," said Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Council for American Private Education.Private school groups lobbying Congress say that mass closures would also hurt public schools. If 20% of private school students have to be absorbed into the public school system, it would cost the public system roughly $15 billion, according to estimates from those groups.Public school groups said that the argument proves their point."I think it's more proof that we need to be focused on public education, because if public education is not fully funded, there is no fallback," said Maggie Garrett, co-chairwoman of the National Coalition for Public Education, which represents more than 50 national organizations that oppose private school vouchers.Ruth Arias, an Amazon warehouse worker and single mother of five in New York City, said moving her children back to their neighborhood school would mean taking them "out of a place where they feel their best and putting them into a school system where they fall apart."With the help of an organization called the Children's Scholarship Fund, Arias said she enrolled her children in a private Christian school to "believe in something better."Arias was battling the coronavirus last month when she saw that the city's Department of Education would help students get iPads for remote learning.Having only one computer and a cellphone for her children to share, she was relieved -- until she was told her children's private schooling made them ineligible."I honestly had one thought," she said, "which I had a lot when I was dealing with the public school system: Are you kidding me?"This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company”
Parents of a UConn student suspected in killings plead his surrender
by - RSS Channel - HP Hero
May 26, 2020
“Connecticut State Police had a message Tuesday for a college student suspected of killing two people four days ago before fleeing the state.”
13-year-old boy earns 4 associate's degrees
by - RSS Channel - HP Hero
May 26, 2020
“A 13-year-old boy in California has graduated from college with four associate's degrees.”
Iranian Tankers Arrive in Venezuela Despite the U.S. Navy
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 26, 2020
“The Iranian oil tanker Fortune slipped into Venezuelan waters in the pre-dawn dark of Monday morning, the first of five tankers from the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) bringing vitally needed gasoline to a regime the Trump administration has, for years, tried and failed to bring down. Four days before the Fortune arrived in Venezuelan waters, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that sanctions slapped on Iran’s shipping lines last December will take effect on June 8. The message seemed to get through. The tankers speeded up.While the Fortune was still unloading  280,000 barrels of the precious fuel,  maritime live tracking websites showed three other tankers arrived in Venezuelan waters ahead of schedule.  At approximately 1 am EDT Tuesday morning, the Faxom reached its final destination, three days earlier than its posted ETA.  The Forest and the Petunia were close behind, also ahead of their scheduled arrival date.  The last tanker, the Clavel, was still listed as arriving June 2.According to the petroleum industry news site Argus Media, the Fortune’s cargo was being distributed under “a tightly rationed system, with some of the gasoline transported by pipeline to other points for truck distribution.” It also cited an unnamed Defense Ministry official saying “some of the supply” could be transhipped to Cuba.The total cargo on the ships is an estimated 1.5 million barrels, barely enough to last two to three weeks, to make up for lost production from Venezuela’s largest refinery complex that needs serious repair.Trump Just Inspired the Dumbest Damned Coup Plot in LatAm History, Complete with a QAnon CrazyThe fact that Venezuela is starved for gasoline—even though it has the world’s largest proven reserves of petroleum—is testimony to the corruption and mismanagement that plague the country. In fact, the state-owned oil giant, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has crumbled.  At the same time, an avalanche of U.S. sanctions intended to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro has left the country effectively bankrupt. Much of the world, led by the Trump administration, recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela despited a record that as proved both feckless and reckless. So Maduro has built a byzantine network of allies—notably Iran and Russia, but also shady gold traders and sympathetic shipping tycoons, to come to his rescue.On Venezuela’s Government television channel, Venezolana de Television, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino announced the Iranian tankers would receive a royal welcome, even if they have to play tag with the U.S. Navy on the high seas: “When those ships enter our exclusive economic zone, they will be escorted by FANB [Venezuelan navy] vessels and  planes to welcome them and thank the Iranian people for their solidarity and cooperation amid the difficulties caused by COVID-19.”But for all the fanfare surrounding the tankers’ arrival, the stark reality is that Venezuela had to go half way around the world to get refined fuel, underlining the desperation of the Maduro regime—and a risky count-down has begun. The Trump administration keeps feinting toward military action with an increased naval presence in the Caribbean. It gave covert—but not very secret—aid to a failed coup a year ago, and it recently offered huge rewards for the arrest of Maduro and his top lieutenants, inspiring an operation by disastrously incompetent adventurers organized by a former U.S. Green Beret. Most were killed or captured by Maduro's forces—and by a few Venezuelan fishermen. But it's the sanctions that really continue to bite. Even with today’s very low prices, how can cash-strapped Venezuela afford the $45 million purchase price for Iran's refined product?According to Bloomberg News, Maduro turned to Alex Nain Saab Moran, a Colombian national indicted in the U.S. last July on federal money-laundering charges involving a $900 million shipment of Venezuelan gold to Turkey. Bloomberg reported Saab traveled to Tehran last April with senior executives from PDVSA and negotiated the Iran gasoline deal in exchange for crude oil.  According to Bloomberg,  Venezuelan officials sent about nine tons of gold—equivalent to US$ 500 million—to Iran on jets owned by Mahan Air, a Tehran-based carrier. In addition to the oil deal, Iran was also sending equipment to repair Venezuela’s decaying refineries and broken gas pumps. Since then, Mahan Air has been placed on the growing U.S Treasury sanction list.But Venezuela still has to find ways to to get income from its crude oil, which accounts for about 95 percent of the nation’s export revenues. In January 2019, the U.S. cut off Venezuela’s main client, which was the United States itself. Venezuela lost the market for one third of its oil exports and production dropped to its lowest levels in 75 years.  Russia’s oil giant Rosneft stepped in, lending over US$ 6 billion to PDVSA.  Through it’s Swiss-based affiliate, Rosneft Trading, Rosneft tankers began transporting 80 percent of Venezuela’s crude oil exports in a loan repayment deal.  The U.S. slapped sanctions on Rosneft Trading.  Rosneft itself, the mother company and the crown jewel in Russia’s economy, was not targeted by Treasury. It shut down its operations in Venezuela immediately nonetheless—but only after transferring its Venezuelan crude oil exporting to another Rosneft unit, TNK Trading.  Meanwhile, the image of Iranian tankers arriving in the backyard of the United States  is a far departure from what one of Trump’s short-lived cabinet members had envisioned.  In February 2018, on the eve of his first whirlwind tour of South America, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson invoked the 1823 Monroe Doctrine in his speech at the State University of Texas saying it was “as much alive today as the day when it was written.” The doctrine claimed Washington has the right to intervene militarily at any time and anywhere in the western hemisphere to prevent foreign influences from establishing themselves. In fact, many have done so, from the British to the Soviets, in the nearly two centuries since its proclamation, but the supposed sanctity of the Monroe Doctrine appears to be an article of faint in the confines of the White House and the head of its mercurial occupant. On April 1, President Trump held one of his rambling news conferences pegged to COVID-19 as the nation grappled with daunting statistics and New York emerged as the new epicenter of the pandemic.As if out of nowhere, Trump made the startling announcement that he was sending U.S. Navy warships to the Caribbean to combat drug traffickers, and his administration fingered top Venezuelan officials as some of the worst. “As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there is a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists and malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain,” said Trump. “We must not let that happen.” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien identified Venezuela directly, saying, “We will continue to execute our maximum pressure policy to counter the Maduro regime’s activities, including drug trafficking.” Earlier, the Trump administration had indicted Venezuelan President Maduro and members of his inner circle on charges they run a smuggling operation bringing up to 250 tons of cocaine a year to the U.S. They put a price on Maduro’s head of $15 million and the total bounties on offer came to $55 million, prompting the ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau to launch the fiasco dubbed Operation Gideon. In the midst of all this, a shipping tycoon apparently has been delivering gasoline to his native Venezuela.  Wilmer Ruperti told AP in an exclusive interview in April that his goal was humanitarian and that he had notified the U.S. Treasury Department which, he claimes, did not object. Ruperti also did not disclose where the refined fuel came from. As Iranian tankers continue arriving in Venezuela and Russian tankers head out of the Caribbean, it’s apparent that no doctrine, Monroe’s or otherwise, is stopping them. So there are several questions looming larger by the day: Will the U.S. Navy be ordered to stop those ships if there is a repeat performance? How long can Maduro continue like this? And how far is the Trump administration willing to go to bring him down at last?Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
Legendary college basketball coach dies
by - RSS Channel - HP Hero
May 25, 2020
“Eddie Sutton, the first college basketball coach to lead four different schools to the NCAA tournament, died on Saturday, his family said in a statement. He was 84.”
Coronavirus: Trump aide claims China guilty of cover-up akin to Chernobyl
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 25, 2020
“* Trump spends second day on golf course as toll nears 100,000 * China raises US trade tensions with warning of ‘new cold war’ * Coronavirus US live – rolling report The White House on Sunday accused China of a cover-up that will “go down in history along with Chernobyl”, ramping up efforts to deflect attention from a Covid-19 death toll in the US fast closing on 100,000.Robert O’Brien, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, made the claim on two political talk shows, saying Beijing gave “false information” to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the start of the year and alleging that stonewalling of an investigation into the origins of the pandemic has cost “many, many thousands of lives in America and around the world”.On Saturday Mike Pence, the vice-president, told Breitbart News that China had “let the world down” and insisted the WHO was “their willing partner in withholding from the US and wider world vital information about the coronavirus”.The Trump administration has become increasingly keen to move attention away from its handling of the pandemic, which has seen more deaths in the US than any other nation and a broken economy including soaring unemployment that another senior adviser told CNN would still be “in double digits” by the 3 November presidential election.O’Brien dampened speculation that the administration might seek to delay that election. But as China warned that Washington’s “lies” were “pushing our two countries to the brink of a new cold war”, he went firmly on the attack.> Someday they’re going to do an HBO show like they did with Chernobyl> > Robert O'BrienSpeaking to CBS’s Face the Nation, he claimed Beijing knew of the looming crisis as early as November but chose to keep it quiet.“We don’t know who in the Chinese government did it, but it doesn’t matter if it was the local Chinese government or the Communist party of China,” he said.“Look, this was a virus that was unleashed by China. There was a cover up that someday they’re going to do an HBO show like they did with Chernobyl,” he added, likening the pandemic to the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine which Soviet authorities initially tried to hide.O’Brien repeated the claim on NBC’s Meet the Press, accusing China of a “cover-up that … is going to go down in history along with Chernobyl”.Most scientists say the pathogen that has infected 5.3 million people and killed more than 342,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species probably sold at a wet market in Wuhan, China, last year.But Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior US figures have repeatedly said they suspect the coronavirus was somehow released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a claim China has strenuously denied.O’Brien claimed China’s alleged skulduggery was continuing.“There’s a chance, and it’s been reported, that the Chinese have been engaged in espionage to try and find the research and the technologies that we’re working on both for a vaccine and a therapy,” he told CBS.“So look, they’ve got a many, many year history of stealing American intellectual property and knocking off American technology. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did that with vaccines.”O’Brien also said the US would soon implement restrictions on travelers from Brazil.After spending much of Saturday playing golf at his resort in Virginia, Trump had no public engagements on Sunday. He duly went back to Trump National in Sterling.On Twitter the president, who criticized Barack Obama in 2014 for golfing when a second case of Ebola was confirmed in the US, preferred to concentrate on topics other than the pandemic.Trump feuded with his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions; attacked Joe Biden, his likely opponent in November; retweeted abusive messages about female opponents; repeated unsubstantiated allegations that mail-in ballots lead to rigged elections; and repeated baseless insinuations that an MSNBC host might have murdered an aide.He also tweeted falsely that coronavirus “cases, numbers and deaths are going down all over the Country!”On Saturday, North Carolina reported its highest one-day spike in cases. Official statistics continue to show hotspots in other places including Washington DC – where O’Brien said the administration still hopes to hold an in-person G7 summit in July – and Florida, where the Miami Herald reported that the rate of new cases was not slowing.On Friday Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, encouraged the public to go outdoors over the Memorial Day weekend.“We know being outside does help, we know the sun does help in killing the virus, but that doesn’t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance,” she told Fox News Sunday, when presented with images of packed beaches and people in close proximity, not wearing masks.“I was hoping to convey this very clear message to the American people,” she said, “… across the country there is a virus out there.”Birx also said Trump himself did wear a mask when not able to maintain social distance. Trump was not pictured using a mask on his trips to play golf in Virginia.On ABC’s This Week, Birx was asked if the nation would need an extended or second lockdown.“It’s difficult to tell and I really am data-driven, so I’m collecting data right now about whether governors and whether states and whether communities are able to open safely,” she said.“All of this proactive testing needs to be in place and needs to continue to be in place because that will determine safely remaining open in the fall.”One thing the Trump administration admits will not bounce back fully by fall is the US unemployment rate, which Kevin Hassett, a senior adviser, told CNN would still be in double figures by the time of the election.“Unemployment will be something that moves back slower,” he said. “You’re going to be starting at a number in the 20s [per cent] and working your way down. And so, of course, you could still not be back to full employment by September or October.””
The truth about 'I'm with her'
by - RSS Channel - HP Hero
May 25, 2020
“On Saturday night, the Libertarian Party formally nominated as its 2020 presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen, a psychology lecturer at Clemson University. In celebration, Jorgensen promptly took to Twitter to "repurpose" Hillary's Clinton's 2016 "I'm With Her" slogan as her own. On Sunday, the slogan was trending as Libertarians promoted it and self-described Clinton supporters pushed back.”
University of California Will End Use of SAT and ACT in Admissions
by NYT > Education
May 23, 2020
“The change is expected to accelerate the momentum of American colleges away from the tests, amid concern that they are unfair to poor, black and Hispanic students.”
How the Restaurant Industry Viciously Exploits Its Workers, From Wage Theft to Sexual Abuse
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 23, 2020
“For labor organizers working within the restaurant industry, there’s another NRA: the National Restaurant Association. This NRA “represent[s] and advocate[s] on behalf of more than 500,000 restaurant businesses,” including some of the biggest chains in the country. For decades, this has meant keeping tipped workers earning a minimum of $2.13 an hour in 43 states (in California, where I live, tipped workers must earn at least the state-wide minimum wage of $12.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $13.00 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees). During the COVID-19  pandemic, when many restaurant and cafe workers are realizing that they are much better off financially leaving their jobs and collecting unemployment insurance, there’s a renewed focus on how service work is systemically devalued in the U.S.The so-called logic behind this $2.13 tipped worker minimum wage is that tips will meet or exceed the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and, legally speaking, when they don’t, employers must make up the difference. According to many employees in the industry, in practice, the latter almost never happens—the restaurant industry specifically is notorious for wage and tip theft. Throughout the U.S.—excluding West Coast states, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota, and Alaska—if tips aren’t good or are nonexistent, good luck making rent. In director Abby Ginzberg’s documentary Waging Change, streamable on Women Make Movies from May 22 to May 31, the NRA’s machinations to keep the tipped minimum wage at $2.13 an hour in as many states as possible is exposed for its strategic seediness. In a “Save Our Tips” campaign, the NRA funded an astroturf movement that convinced many restaurant workers that One Fair Wage legislation in Washington, D.C., would compromise their earnings—the idea being that if customers know servers and bartenders are earning the minimum wage or more, they will be less likely to tip or tip well. In fact, studies have shown that in cities where there is one minimum wage across all industries—and when that minimum wage is on the high end of the current spectrum—tipping is much better. White Anti-Quarantine Protesters Have Cruelly Co-opted an Enslaved Black Woman from the 18th CenturyThis Giant Monument to Elon Musk Has Tulsa Residents FuriousThere’s also a prevailing idea that most restaurants cannot afford to pay even the minimum wage, let alone a living wage, and if they did, they would have to lay off many workers. Waging Change goes to small, local restaurants around the country to show that living wage structures and even co-ops (in which the workers own the business) are possible and in fact can improve business. It’s also telling that many of the restaurants with the worst wages and practices are the huge chains, from IHOP to McDonald’s to TGI Friday’s. Even high-end restaurants that charge in the hundreds for a single meal have settled lawsuits for wage theft and other unfair labor practices. In many cases, the problem is at best incompetent management and at worst, greed. The One Fair Wage movement, which has been backed by bartender-turned-congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also aims to address the rampant sexual harassment and abuse that the tipped minimum wage structure doesn’t simply exacerbate, but provides the foundation for. If servers and bartenders have to make tips to make rent, then they’re especially vulnerable to abuse. According to 20 years of government data reported by BuzzFeed in 2017, more sexual harassment claims are filed in the restaurant industry than in any other industry. And according to a survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC), the labor organization prominently featured in Waging Change, 60 percent of women report that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment on the job, and over half say they experience it on a daily basis. This same study also reports that “one-fifth of women working in the restaurant industry live below the poverty line, and nearly one-half (46%) live below twice the poverty line, compared to 40% of men in the restaurant industry and 20% of women in other industries.” One strategy proposed—beyond the organizing that restaurant workers do with ROC and other organizations to spur legislative change—is to vote with your wallet, to only patronize business that pay workers a living wage both in the front and back of house (racism in the restaurant industry is also rampant, with bussers, dishwashers, and prep cooks often being black and brown, and servers, hosts, and bartenders usually being white). But voting with your wallet often means relying on restaurant marketing to “know” who is treating their workers fairly; now that touting fair labor practices—like “sustainability” in the fashion industry—is trendy, it’s hard to know who is just talking the talk. In fact, supporting labor organizations, unions, and campaigns run by restaurant workers themselves is often the most direct way to either vote with your wallet or actions. (You’d also do well to tip in cash, a more reliable way to ensure your server and other workers in the restaurant actually get your tip, and quickly.)Waging Change addresses the curveball thrown by coronavirus on the gains made by the One Fair Wage and $15 minimum wage movements, since many restaurant workers have been furloughed or laid off due to restaurant shutdowns. The documentary points out that are relief funds for those workers ineligible for unemployment insurance (because, cruelly enough, they earn too little to qualify), and as inequity in the U.S. is sharply revealed through this crisis, workers are still protesting for fair wages, including hazard pay and sick leave.But what coronavirus has made clear is how unnecessary worker vulnerability is. In many other countries, robust social safety nets—with free health care, well-appointed public housing, free university, free childcare, and more—mean that even in hard times, workers can still pay the bills and businesses are more incentivized to provide good compensation and working conditions to retain staff (the reality, however, is usually much different for “unskilled” immigrant workers, who are not often provided social benefits no matter where they go). But in the U.S., where business lobbies like the other NRA hold enormous power and regular people are dependent on whatever wages these businesses decide to hand out—anything that might compromise this precarious arrangement, even when it’s as justified as public health protocol, compromises us. As a result, social welfare is looked down upon, and both local and federal governments typically do all they can to make those benefits hard to receive and insufficient for a decent quality of life. To wage change, we’ll also have to look beyond the wage itself. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
This Giant Monument to Elon Musk Has Tulsa Residents Furious
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 22, 2020
“In a dystopian bid to lure Tesla’s Cybertruck Gigafactory to Tulsa, the Oklahoma state monument—a seven-story, 22-ton statue of an oil worker called The Golden Driller—has been redesigned as an effigy of Elon Musk. The likeness of X Æ A-12’s multibillionaire father, now called The Driller ‘Golden Elon,’ is one of the largest free-standing statues in the U.S. “Tulsa is a city that doesn’t stifle entrepreneurs - we revere them!” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum wrote on Facebook, prompting an onslaught of enraged replies. “Golden @elonmusk is now the 6th-tallest statue in the United States. TulsaforTesla @Tesla.” The gargantuan statue, unveiled earlier this week at a community event and on Bynum’s social media, now features a red Tesla logo painted on its chest. The Driller’s 48-foot belt, which once read “TULSA,” was changed to read “TESLA.” If you squint, the statue’s head now looks like a low-budget YouTube cartoon of Musk. “I was told onsite it was an ‘Elon Musk Face Skin,’” one worker wrote on Facebook. “It went on like a fruit roll-up.” “It’s this weird, ghostly, white mask-like thing,” said Lucas Wrench, a 28-year-old Tulsa Artist Fellow, who runs an arts space called OK 1. “It sort of looks like if you FaceSwapped with some creature. I just couldn’t believe it. I’m shocked at how transparent it is—the kind of a symbol they created in putting this enormous billionaire, literally a giant towering billionaire in Tulsa—the lack of self-awareness. They’re groveling.”The redesign was spearheaded by a “community-led group” called Tulsa For Tesla, in coordination with the Tulsa County Fairgrounds, a spokesperson for Bynum told The Daily Beast. The group has no online profile, although there is a Facebook page for a group called “Tulsa 4 Tesla,” which was started May 17 and boasts 104 followers as of Friday. The administrator of that page told The Daily Beast they had not organized the redesign, but simply wanted Musk to move there. “I had no idea [the other Tulsa For Tesla] existed until a few days ago,” the Tulsa 4 Tesla administrator wrote. “I would have thought they would have [a Facebook] page. When I named this one I looked [for others], even using ‘4’ instead of ‘For’ Tulsa.” “The City did not coordinate the Driller Golden Elon,” the mayor’s spokesperson wrote. “Mayor Bynum spoke at the community-led event earlier this week.” Still, Bynum has made similar suggestions to redesign city structures in Musk’s image. Earlier this week, reported by CBS News, Bynum posted an image of a Tesla Cybertruck sporting the Tulsa Police logo on Instagram, suggesting police officers would use the pixelated, sci-fi-looking monstrosities if the factory came to town. “The Golden Driller is something that’s commonly decorated for special events and holidays,” said Sydney Smith, a 22-year-old from Tulsa, who now studies at the Kansas City Art Institute. “Sometimes they paint it to look like wacky stuff, but painting it to paint like the face of Elon Musk is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen. It’s asking a billionaire to come in and just bring his billionaire status to our town.”The Golden Driller has undergone makeovers in the past. The first iteration was constructed in 1952 for the International Petroleum Exposition, an annual trade fair in Tulsa. At the time, the belt buckle read “MID-CONTINENT,” after the company that commissioned it, The Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth. In 1959, after the statue attracted attention, the company built a second for that year’s expo, before donating it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority. In 1966, the Trust had it installed permanently by the Tulsa Expo Center, to commemorate the city as the “Oil Capital of the World.” When the state adopted it as its official monument in 1979, they changed the massive buckle to read “TULSA.”White Anti-Quarantine Protesters Have Cruelly Co-opted an Enslaved Black Woman from the 18th CenturyThe Kentucky Miner Who Scammed Americans by Claiming He Was Hitler and Plotting a ‘Revolt’ With ‘Spaceships’At the base of the statue, which “wears” a size-112 hard hat and size-393DDD shoes, an inscription reads, “The Golden Driller, a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God’s abundance a better life for mankind.”The redesign reorients a city literally nicknamed the “Oil Capital of the World” toward green energy, at least symbolically. Some residents are riled for precisely that reason. “What a fantastic use of tax dollars!! 🙄 ,” a Facebook user named Stacy Spohn Bay wrote. “Tulsa was built on oil, not electric/solar power. How degrading, desperate and embarrassing to see this.” Progressives like Smith aren’t sure how far the gesture goes. “Sure, they’re making efforts to make a sustainable vehicle, but it’s not necessarily something that’s affordable,” she said. “It’s more of a status symbol and a way for a billionaire to make billions of dollars than something that’s going to actually make a positive contribution to the environment, especially in a place like Tusla that’s surrounded by refineries.”“Our mayor, G.T. Bynum, I think he gets a lot of credit for being this sensible Republican,” Wrench added. “Yeah, we’re an oil town, but he’s not afraid of clean energy. I think maybe, that is where this started. But they ignored the fact that Elon is just an insanely hated billionaire and that is by the far the dominant symbol that comes across to most people.” Wrench plans to host a talk next Thursday called The Colossus of Musk, with Art History Professor Bill Anthes and Rome Prize Winner Classics Professor Michelle Berenfeld, both of Pitzer College, about the history of mega sculptures and what the “Golden Elon” means from an art perspective.The race to determine Tesla’s new home came after Musk sued Alameda County in California, demanding to reopen his plant in Fremont, in flagrant violation of the state’s stay-at-home order. On Twitter, Musk announced plans to move Tesla’s “HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.” “While we love the idea of Tesla’s Cybertruck plant moving to Tulsa, which would provide good paying jobs for Oklahoma families, move our state towards clean energy, and transition TPD to green vehicles, we have concerns pertaining to the fair treatment of workers,” Tulsa activist publication The Progressive Report told The Daily Beast. “Led by Musk, Tesla committed several violations to the US National Labour Relations Act in 2017 & 2018\. Knowing Tesla’s history of violating workers’ rights, it’s important we keep a watchful eye on them, especially if they decide to reside in T-Town.”According to Electrek, Tesla plans to announce their new factory’s site as soon as this month, and by July at the latest. “Maybe there’s some benefit by bringing some jobs to Tulsa,” Smith said, “But at the same time—outside of any opinions I have about Telsa or Elon Musk—a lot of times big corporations will propose bringing a headquarters to Tusla, and it will go to another city like Austin. The gentrification that comes to cities that used to have a similar vibe to Tulsa has the impact of raising the rent and raising the property taxes for the people that live there and call that place home.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
Joe Biden accuser Tara Reade let go by lawyer
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 22, 2020
“* Douglas Wigdor says he continues to believe allegation * Reade says then senator Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993The lawyer representing Tara Reade, who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, said on Friday he was dropping her as a client although he continued to believe in the truth of her allegations.“Our decision … is by no means a reflection on whether then Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms Reade,” Douglas Wigdor said in a statement. “On that point, our view – which is the same view held by the majority of Americans, according to a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll – has not changed.”Reade is a former staffer from Biden’s office when he was a senator from Delaware. She alleges that he pushed her against a wall in the Senate buildings and assaulted her. Biden has denied the accusation.Wigdor said his decision was made on Wednesday, a day after CNN published a story raising questions about Reade’s background and her past statements. Though in the statement announcing the split, the lawyer vociferously attacked Reade’s treatment by the press.“To a large extent Ms Reade has been subjected to a double standard in terms of the media coverage she has received. Much of what has been written about Ms Reade is not probative of whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted her, but rather is intended to victim-shame and attack her credibility on unrelated and irrelevant matters,” Wigdor said.Meanwhile, defense lawyers in California have said that they are reviewing criminal cases in which Reade has served as an expert witness on domestic violence, out of concern that she had misrepresented her educational credentials in court.Days after CNN raised questions about Reade’s educational background, a spokesperson for Antioch University confirmed to the New York Times that she had not received a degree from the school.”
Actress Lori Loughlin, husband to plead guilty in college admissions scandal
by - RSS Channel - HP Hero
May 21, 2020
“• Former University of Texas tennis coach sentenced in admissions scam
• Loughlin's daughter returns to YouTube”

Biologist explains how to safely celebrate Memorial Day
by - RSS Channel - HP Hero
May 21, 2020
“University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Biology Professor Erin Bromage shares tips on how to safely celebrate this Memorial Day weekend to reduce coronavirus spread.”
Will the Coronavirus Forever Alter the College Experience?
by NYT > Education
May 19, 2020
“The answer so far appears to be no. But some online education tools are likely to stick around.”
Georgetown University announces budget cuts as it prepares for $50 million shortfall
by Local Education
May 13, 2020
“Schools throughout the country are preparing for a financial crisis.”
California State University, nation’s largest 4-year system, to teach remotely in fall
by Local Education
May 12, 2020
“The announcement contrasts with a growing push to reopen campuses elsewhere.”
College Chatbots, With Names Like Iggy and Pounce, Are Here to Help
by NYT > Education
May 07, 2020
“Schools are elevating the use of virtual assistants whose speed and tone can simulate text conversations.”
College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are.
by NYT > Education
May 05, 2020
“When they were all in the same dorms and eating the same dining hall food, the disparities in students’ backgrounds weren’t as clear as they are over video chat.”
The ‘Public’ in Public College Could Be Endangered
by NYT > Education
Apr 30, 2020
“Since the Great Recession, states have taken drastically different approaches to funding colleges. The pandemic poses an even bigger challenge.”
Iranian 'spy' scientist flies home after release from US prison, raising hopes of prisoner swap
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 02, 2020
“The families of British dual nationals imprisoned by Iran today criticised the Foreign Office for “complete inaction” in trying to secure their release, as an Iranian scientist previously jailed by the US was allowed to fly home. A plane carrying Sirous Asgari took off early this morning and was on its way back to Tehran to bring him home, Iran’s foreign minister announced, raising hopes of a potential prisoner swap for Western dual nationals in Iran. Mr Asgari was accused by a US court in 2016 of stealing trade secrets while on an academic visit to Ohio, where he visited a university working on projects for the US Navy. However, the 59-year-old scientist from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, was acquitted in November when an American judge dismissed the case against him. Several British, US and other dual nationals remain imprisoned or on temporary release in Iran, typically on controversial charges of espionage. They include British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, jailed in 2016, and retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, 66, who has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since August 2017. Both the US Department of Homeland Security and the Iranian Foreign Ministry today denied reports that Mr Asgari’s release was part of a prisoner swap, but such arrangements have been made in the past, despite the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran.”
What Will College Be Like in the Fall?
by NYT > Education
Jun 04, 2020
“Administrators, professors, a union representative and students consider the new realities of life on campus in the midst of a pandemic.”
SA leaders respond to protests over police brutality
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“Students Association leaders vowed to hold discussions surrounding recent events of police brutality and racism and push for the University to release a GW police Department climate survey in a statement Sunday.
Following the deaths of four black Americans who were killed at the hands of police officers in recent months, SA leaders wrote that they are working to host a discussion about police brutality and white supremacy and held virtual office hours Monday for those who wished to talk through the past events. SA Executive Vice President Brandon Hill and SA President Howard Brookins wrote that they will personally make donations to the Chicago Community Bond Fund and Minnesota Freedom Fund in the wake of protests responding to police violence.
“As the first all-black Student Association leadership team, in recent memory, we stand at the forefront of ensuring an equitable experience for all students,” Hill and Brookins wrote. “This is why we find it pertinent to assure you that the Student Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We strongly stand in solidarity with the Black Men’s Initiative, the Black Student Union and all of the grieving black students on this campus, as well as support their calls to action and demands fellow students, administrators and D.C. public officials.”
SA leaders said they are a resource for predominately white student organizations that are interested in helping but unsure how, adding that members are planning to create a guide about how student organizations can “create an actively anti-racist environment.”
The SA letter states that organization members involved in the Safety and Security Advisory board will push for a GWPD climate survey once students are able to return to campus, similar to a survey Georgetown University’s student government advocated for. SA leaders involved with the board will also press officials to implement unconscious bias training for all GWPD officers, the letter states.
Hill said the letter aims to educate and “reeducate” white peers on how everyone can support students and restructure oppressed systems in one’s own organization. He said “at the very least” he hopes black students feel valued on campus.
He said the SA aims to continue partnerships with GWPD, the Divisions of Safety and Security and administrators in the fall to provide safety for students on campus.
“I hope that when people look back and wonder how the Student Association felt on certain topics they know without a shadow of a doubt that we believe all black lives matter,” Hill said.”

Students sue Board of Trustees for tuition refunds
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“Two students are suing the Board of Trustees to refund tuition payments following the University’s switch to online classes, the second lawsuit demanding tuition refunds this spring.
In a 19-page complaint filed in D.C. District Court Thursday, rising second-year graduate student Margaret Mauldin and senior Charafeddine Zaitoun allege the University did not provide the on-campus education and facilities it guaranteed in exchange for tuition payments. Mauldin and Zaitoun are requesting the University partially refund tuition and fees for all students who submitted payments for the spring 2020 semester.
“Despite failing to fulfill its obligations, Defendant is currently unlawfully retaining and refusing to fully or partially refund Plaintiffs’ Spring 2020 semester tuition and fees, despite the dramatically lower quality and less valuable education and services now being provided,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit follows another complaint a parent filed last month,  pressuring the University to refund tuition, fees and room and board payments because of a decline in “academic rigor” and the cancellation of on-campus services during the virtual learning period.
The students’ lawsuit states that the University breached its contract that promises students on-campus education and resources like classroom facilities and dining options, which students can no longer access during campus’s closure. Students like Mauldin and Zaitoun were “deprived of the education experience” they were entitled to receive through their tuition payments, according to the complaint.
“Plaintiffs and the other members of the Class entered into binding contracts with Defendant, which provided that Plaintiff and the other members of the Class would pay tuition and fees, to GW, in exchange for on-campus educational, social and other experiences and access to facilities,” the complaint states.
Mauldin and Zaitoun allege students have withstood an “enormous windfall” under the financial strain that has afflicted working students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic after the University cut access to on-campus buildings, technology and other services guaranteed through tuition payments. The lawsuit states the payments benefited the University, which failed to return the on-campus resources students expected to receive.
“Defendant is thus profiting from COVID-19 while further burdening students and their families – many of whom have been laid off, become ill, lost loved ones or are otherwise already bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit states students received a “second-rate online substitute” for in-person education because faculty did not have enough time to learn how to teach a quality curriculum through the new online format.
The lawsuit references an article from Educause, a nonprofit organization working to improve virtual education, that states it is “impossible” for teachers to completely understand how to conduct online teaching if they shift to a virtual platform within just a few weeks. The article states schools should take six to nine months to prepare for an online course.
GW began online classes less than two weeks after announcing the switch.
“The hasty conversion to ‘virtual learning’ has not and cannot compare to live classes,” the complaint states. “But it doesn’t compare to well-planned and executed online courses either.”
Mauldin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies, decided to attend GW because of the University’s connection to the Smithsonian museums, which offer field trips and “peer-reviewed classes,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states she completed a Smithsonian internship remotely, despite paying “the high cost of graduate tuition” to receive in-person credit at the museum.
“She is not receiving what she bargained for,” the complaint states.
Mauldin declined to comment.
Zaitoun rented an apartment with a $1,650 monthly fee near campus to take classes as part of the University’s summer 2020 session but will pay more than $10,000 for Zoom classes, “with no access to professors, other classmates or campus facilities or resources,” the complaint states.
Zaitoun did not return a request for comment.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said “other University revenues” subsidize students’ tuition to cover the cost of providing curricular and co-curricular programming to students. She said officials understand students did not expect to finish spring semester classes online, but the University followed advice from “public health experts” in deciding to switch to virtual learning.
“Our faculty worked hard to provide our students with a quality academic experience by distance, and our staff too worked hard to provide mechanisms for students to meaningfully engage with each other,” she said.
Nosal said officials have offered students refunds for housing, dining, parking and international program fees after campus closed in March. She said the University is granting students the entirety of GW’s $9.1 million aid package from CARES Act funding and providing additional financial support through the GW Cares Student Assistance Fund .
“We continue to work with students and families who are in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
More than 75 higher education groups, at least three of which list GW as a member institution, signed a letter to Congress last week asking for temporary liability protections for universities facing lawsuits related to the pandemic.
Glen Abramson – the legal counsel for Mauldin, Zaitoun and the University’s student population represented in the class action – said the “online course experience” does not match the on-campus college experience the University markets to prospective students. He said students are not receiving marketed services during the pandemic, even though the University promised these resources as part of the school’s tuition.
“GW is acting as if the emergency online classes they put together are the same as live classes on campus,” he said. “That’s just not the case.”
Abramson said his law firm, Berger Montague, has represented students from Boston University, the University of Southern California and the University of California in similar class action lawsuits demanding tuition repayments. He said “hundreds of students” have contacted the firm, upset about paying for online classes.
“This is something that I think a lot of students have had concerns about, and I think there are going to be cases filed against many colleges and universities around the country,” he said.
Students have filed more than 110 class action lawsuits against universities in the two months since spring instruction transitioned online, according to a National Law Journal report .
He said the firm is working with “experts” to determine the amount of refunded tuition the legal team will request from the University.
Grace Speights, the Board of Trustees chair, announced last month that officials would not change next year’s tuition if classes are held online in the fall.
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It's time to shut down GW's Confucius Institute
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“Most students would be forgiven for not knowing about GW’s Confucius Institute, a chapter of a worldwide organization promoting the study of Chinese culture and language in universities. At first glance it may seem an innocuous cultural society, but the Institute – like its 72 counterparts in colleges across the nation – is nothing less than a soft-power tool of the Chinese Communist Party.
Confucius Institutes are all operated by Hanban, a government entity funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education, and hire employees largely based on their loyalty to the CCP. Discussion topics the Chinese government disapproves of are strictly forbidden and Institutes regularly sabotage university events about such topics. They have, for example, pressured universities to disinvite the Dalai Lama and covertly removed conference materials listing Taiwan as a country. Confucius Institutes have also allegedly carried out espionage, assisted in the theft of intellectual property and even threatened Chinese students for what they may say in the classroom.
Universities are increasingly aware of these issues. 22 American universities have shuttered their Institutes in the past two years, with closures also happening in Europe and Australia . Of GW’s twelve peer schools, only Tufts University and the University of Pittsburgh still have branches. More telling still, Congress and the FBI reviewed the activities of Confucius Institutes last year and identified them as threats to academic freedom and campus information security . Both have urged U.S. universities to sever ties for these reasons, as have numerous faculty associations , human rights groups and student organizations . The University must heed these significant warnings and end the activities of the GW Confucius Institute as soon as possible.
Confucius Institutes are not like other cultural institutes, such as France’s Alliance Francaise or Germany’s Goethe-Institut , in that they are fully integrated into their host universities. They therefore have a voice in what events or discussions take place on campus, which is particularly concerning given the Chinese government’s track record of speech policing. A senior Chinese official even admitted in 2011 that the Institutes were an “important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” It is unreasonable to assume that GW’s Institute does not censor and surveil in the interests of the Chinese government as other universities’ Institutes have been shown to do . After all, Hu Jinbo, who sits on our Institute’s Board of Directors , is a vice chair of China’s top political advisory body .
Allowing the Chinese government space on campus to communicate its policies is controversial enough. Permitting it to stifle (or unduly influence) the communications of others is intolerable. When one then takes into account the national security concerns, the course of action required by the University becomes all too obvious.
Furthermore, we must consider the financial drain on GW that the Confucius Institute represents. Congress passed a law in 2018 withholding all Department of Defense language funding from universities that host the Institute. We are potentially forfeiting critical language resources – at a time when our language departments have been forced to cut classes – all for the sake of giving an authoritarian government a platform at our University. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused GW a substantial budget shortfall ; and while closing the Institute won’t balance things by any means, it would be a simple and beneficial way to start.
Undoubtedly, the need to learn Chinese or become familiar with Chinese culture is a growing one, especially at a university so renowned for its international affairs program. But there are plenty of ways to do these things without letting the Chinese government manipulate on-campus discourse. Just ask Georgetown, American University or any of the Ivy League schools, which have somehow managed to avoid hosting Confucius Institutes and still have top-notch programs in Chinese language and politics. At the end of the day, all our Confucius Institute really does for students is organize language classes and art events . We already have a Chinese language department, and it’s not worth keeping the Institute for the sake of a few calligraphy lessons or ballet performances.
And even if it were worthwhile, the fact remains that any foreign organization on campus must be held to the same standards as an American one. To operate legitimately, foreign organizations must commit to freedom of speech and to the transparency and integrity of their practices. As China increasingly attempts to control what we say in our own country, we must push back and make it clear that our values of freedom and democracy are not for sale . GW’s insistence on keeping the Institute open not only defies rationality but goes against our very character as an institution.
So it’s time we finally say “zai jian” to our Confucius Institute. Or perhaps another word would be more appropriate, because “zai jian” is the kind of goodbye that implies we will meet again. And we certainly don’t want that.
Filip Vachuda, a rising junior majoring in international affairs and economics, is a writer.
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The solution for fall: a hiring binge
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“Ivy Ken is an associate professor of sociology.
University President Thomas LeBlanc informed the GW community that as we move toward a new academic year, we need to prepare for “pay or benefit reductions, early retirement options, furloughs or layoffs,” among other cost-cutting actions. The announcement has created deep unease among staff and faculty, who are already working overtime to meet the new demands brought on by the pandemic.
As we all work to figure out how to continue the University’s mission of creating and sharing knowledge, the obvious solution so far has been to hold classes online. GW is not unique in this – it is happening all over the world. We live at a time when the technological infrastructure that allows classes to go online – from the internet, itself, to the availability of computers, software and technical support – is as strong as the magnified demand for it during social distancing.
But the rationale for holding classes online is absent. As online learning has ramped up in colleges and universities over the last two decades, education researchers have identified best practices for online learning success. It is an understatement to say that the practices and conditions under which faculty and students are being asked to turn everything over to Webex and Blackboard right now are far from ideal. Faculty largely do not have the training. One of my students in the spring semester told me about a business professor who couldn’t figure out the technology, so he simply lectured his students for an hour at a time over the phone. I feel that my “magic” as an instructor happens in the classroom, where I engage with students face-to-face, read their nonverbal cues, respond to their ideas and help them struggle collectively with the material. I cannot reproduce this online, and my students will suffer.
In the 19 years I have been at GW, class sizes have increasingly gotten bigger. My 35-student theory course got bumped up to 45 and raised again to 50, with no additional support. No student at GW who has been cramped into a tiny classroom will be surprised that these 50 students must still meet in the rooms designed for 35. To the extent that higher class sizes reflect increased demand for sociological theory, this is a great thing. But this is not what it reflects. It is one small example of a university that is trying to do more with less. GW wants a smaller numbers of professors to teach a larger numbers of students.
Again, GW is not unique in this. The trend in higher education has been to employ the techniques developed by profit-seeking corporations to – as the chair of the Board of Trustees recently put it – cut the “ fat ” from University budgets. Professors, apparently, are the unnecessary “fat.”
A much better solution, albeit one that would require enough courage to buck the existing trend, is a hiring binge. Not a hiring freeze.
A hiring binge would allow more professors to handle smaller classes that could possibly meet in person in large rooms. Anthony Fauci, a leader on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recently advised that it would be possible for universities to welcome students back in the fall, if all were tested regularly and modifications were made to residence halls and classrooms. This means all those classrooms at GW that were designed for 35 students, into which dozens more students have been packed, need to become classrooms of 10. My 60-student fall semester class, for instance, could be turned into three different 20-student classes with three different instructors who each meet with 10 students at a time. This would increase the workload of any one instructor, who would need to meet twice as often with smaller numbers of students. But that sort of workload increase would be better than requiring professors to hastily – and probably poorly – conduct robust, meaningful online class sessions.
We need more people, not more technology. Ideally, this need could spark something like a federal works program that would hire masses of underemployed doctoral students into tenure-track jobs so we could handle this crisis in a way that is both humane and pedagogically sound. It should go without saying – but doesn’t – that these positions should absolutely be tenure-track, since these positions are the only ones to guard against the sort of layoffs that GW and other schools have threatened and implemented.
I realize that implementing this at GW would be an enormous task. Perhaps one source of support for an initiative like this would be not the federal government but the D.C. city government. Mayor Muriel Bowser and city council have often devoted serious amounts of money to progressive ideas like healthy meals for K-12 students and the bike lanes. The consortium of D.C. colleges and universities could jointly request the city’s support and make the District a leader on this issue. Some may feel that public tax dollars should not be spent on private university professors, and in general I agree. But this is a solution meant to prioritize students. In exchange for public money, perhaps our universities could commit to enrolling a much higher proportion of D.C. students.
What is important is to fight against the tide of bigger, online classes, which just do not serve our students or our communities well. The current crisis presents an opportunity to move away from the pedagogically bankrupt focus on efficiency and toward solutions that are best for the people and communities we serve.
The Board chair recently said in an email that trustees are “directing the administration to explore and consider all appropriate options. A sense of urgency is warranted and the status quo is not an option.” I share this sense of urgency and hope the Board, administration and city will consider halting the freeze and engaging in a hiring binge to benefit our students.
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Higher education groups ask for legal protections for colleges
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“More than 75 higher education organizations signed a letter to congressional leaders Thursday asking for temporary liability protections for universities facing lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After universities moved classes online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, GW and other institutions are facing lawsuits demanding tuition refunds for part or all of the spring semester. The groups, at least three of which list GW as a member institution, state universities are facing “huge transactional costs” fighting these lawsuits as they face “unprecedented challenges.”
“To blunt the chilling effect this will have on otherwise reasonable decision-making leading to our nation’s campuses resuming operations in a safe and sensible manner, we ask that Congress quickly enact temporary COVID-19-related liability protections for higher education institutions and systems, affiliated entities, as well as their faculty, staff and volunteers,” the letter states.
A parent filed a class action lawsuit in D.C. District Court against GW earlier this month alleging that the University breached its contract with students by not providing in-person instruction and campus facilities during the pandemic, demanding a partial refund of room and board, tuition and fees. The University has offered refunds for lost housing, dining and parking costs.
The parent who sued GW wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post earlier this month, stating that universities shifting to online classes were “not the schools’ fault,” but remote education is “nowhere near the caliber” of an on-campus college experience.
Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights said last week that the Board does not plan to adjust next year’s tuition rate if classes remain online. Officials are considering three scenarios for fall instruction – in-person, hybrid or online coursework – and plan to make a final decision next month.
The groups said Congress should apply protections conditioned on applicable public health standards and exclude protections for institutions that engage in “egregious misconduct.”
“While Congress has acted to provide some limited COVID-related liability protections for volunteer healthcare providers and some manufacturers of PPE in the CARES Act, much more must be done,” the higher education organizations said in the letter. “While some governors and state legislatures have enacted COVID-19 liability limitations, this is a national problem requiring a national solution.”
The groups said encouraging the safe reopening of colleges is “essential” to preserving future employment and restarting the country’s economy.
“Higher education’s need for temporary and targeted liability protections and relief is clear,” the higher education groups said in the letter. “Now is the time for Congress to act.”
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Volleyball bolsters 2020 roster with Greek signee
by The GW Hatchet
May 29, 2020
“Markella Lanara, a 6-foot-2-inch middle blocker from Athens, Greece, will round out volleyball’s 2020 roster, head coach Sarah Bernson announced in a press release Thursday.
In Greece, Lanara played for The Moraitis School, where she was named the top blocker in the conference and helped claim back-to-back school championships in 2018 and 2019. Lanara called GW her “dream university” in the release.
“It will give me the opportunity to combine academic excellence with competitive athletics while being in one of the most influential locations,” Lanara said in the release. “I believe that joining the GW volleyball family will help me grow as a player and person and take my athletic and academic career to a whole new level.”
Lanara also won a pair of titles for her club team, the Olympiakos volleyball club, and she helped the squad qualify for national competition for the past four years.
Bernson said Lanara will add “experience and depth” to GW’s returning middle blockers, a position that has historically been the team’s strong suit. Last season, the Colonials ranked third in the Atlantic 10 in blocks per set (2.52), and two Colonials finished among the top 10 in average blocks per set.
But last year’s top three blockers – graduate student middle blocker Caroline Sklaver, graduate student opposite Paty Valle and senior setter Jaimeson Lee – graduated, allowing Lanara to help shore up the gaps.
Assistant coach Brianna Barry said Lanara’s calm court demeanor and “fiery competitive spirit” fit well with the team’s dynamic.
“I am thrilled to work with her in the middle position and see how much she can grow,” Barry said in the release.
Lanara will join two other freshman recruits – opposite Liv Womble and outside hitter Elizabeth Drelling – on the court this fall. Two transfers junior setter Lauren LaBeck and graduate student opposite Ashley Waggle complete this year’s recruiting class. The Colonials will return nine members of last year’s squad.”

Women's basketball welcomes transfer guard
by The GW Hatchet
May 26, 2020
“Gabby Nikitinaite, a 5-foot-11-inch guard from Orpington, United Kingdom, will join the women’s basketball program, according to a release from head coach Jennifer Rizzotti Thursday.
Nikitinaite transferred from Northern Illinois, where she averaged eight points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. She said playing under Rizzotti and the academic opportunities at GW influenced her decision to join the team.
“My decision to choose GW came from Coach Rizzotti and her coaching staff and their heavy assurance about the great opportunities I will be provided on and off the court,” Nikitinaite said in the release. “Coach Rizzotti’s accomplishments, as well as her staff’s, were big motivating factors for me to choose GW and I am grateful for the interest they showed for my game.”
Nikitinaite played three seasons at Northern Illinois, where she appeared in 90 games and recorded 37 career starts. She entered the transfer portal in late March, according to a tweet . Per NCAA transfer rules, she will sit out a year and hit the hardwood for the Colonials during the 2021-22 campaign, the release states.
During her final season with the Huskies, Nikitinaite shot at a 35.1 percent clip and ranked second on the roster with 44 triples over 30 games. She finished third on the squad with 61 helpers on the year.
“We are so excited about welcoming Gabby to our Colonial family,” Rizzotti said in the release. “She is a veteran guard who can impact the game in so many ways. We love that she has a lot of college experience and after scoring over 700 points at NIU, she is a proven scorer at the college level. She has great size for a guard and is an excellent passer, so she will fit in really well with how we want to play.”
The Colonials lost four players from the 2019-20 roster to graduation, and redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke and sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah transferred from the program at the conclusion of the season. The team will be without its top three scorers from a year ago to open the 2020-21 season.
Nikitinaite joins three freshmen – Ali Brigham, Aurea Gingras and Caranda Perea – and midseason transfer junior guard Jasmine Whitney as the squad’s newest additions.”

Board of Trustees task force to recommend divestment
by The GW Hatchet
May 26, 2020
“The Board of Trustees’ Task Force on Environmental, Social and Governance Responsibility released recommendations that encourage trustees to fully divest GW’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry by 2025, according to an email sent to the GW community Tuesday.
The task force’s draft recommendations also include immediately halting all new investments in the fossil fuel industry, speeding up GW’s plans to become carbon neutral and phasing out all single-use plastics, the email states. The Board is expected to vote on the recommendations at its June retreat, which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the task force will hold virtual town halls on May 28 and June 2 to gather feedback from the GW community on the proposal.
“In summary, sustainability needs to be deeply embedded in everything we do, and it will remain in everything we aspire to do in our teaching, service and research missions, as well as our operations and student experience,” members of the group said in a joint email. “We seek not only to be an exemplary global citizen but also to continue to leverage the expertise and passion of our students, faculty, alumni and staff to set an example for others to follow.”
Board Chair Grace Speights commissioned the task force in February, following a week of student protests in support of fossil fuel divestment, to assist the Board in establishing a guiding set of principles to manage GW’s environmental impact.
GW’s holdings in the fossil fuel industry total roughly $53 million, and officials say they have reduced GW’s fossil fuel investments by 89 percent in the last five years.
The draft recommendations also call on the University to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, which would shorten the timeline by 10 years, and to release a plan for “climate resilience” in GW’s operations. Officials have invested more than $20 million to reduce carbon emissions as of October 2018.
“In commemoration of GW’s bicentennial celebration in 2021, we also aspire to going beyond carbon neutral post-2030 in an effort to remove most, if not all, the greenhouse gas emissions the University has produced since its founding in 1821,” the email states.
The task force also plans to recommend that GW become a “role model” for urban sustainability by capturing stormwater, creating more outdoor green spaces, turning all University-operated transportation into zero-emissions vehicles and notching the STARS Platinum sustainability distinction by 2025, according to the email.
“In addition, we commit to encouraging decision makers and societal leaders to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” the task force members said. “We will drive support for interdisciplinary education, research and proactive engagement on climate change and sustainability initiatives, including innovative living lab projects.”
Peter Harrison, the chair of the task force, said at a Board meeting earlier this month that the group has heard an “overview” of the endowment’s holdings and developed the recommendations after examining peer institutions’ policies on divestment and consulting with GW’s sustainability experts.
Sunrise GW wrote in a statement Tuesday that the organization “commends” the recommendations and the task force’s recognition of the “need for proactivity.”
“While these announcements are an undeniable step in the right direction, Sunrise GW plans to continue applying pressure to the Board of Trustees until they vote to approve and commit to the ESG Task Force’s recommendations,” the group said in the statement.”

Faculty Senate requests layoffs and furloughs be "last resort"
by The GW Hatchet
May 25, 2020
“The Faculty Senate called on officials Wednesday to use furloughs and layoffs as a last resort to mitigate the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on GW.
The resolution passed in a special meeting emphasizes the need for transparency and consultation with relevant senate committees as officials decide the status of the fall semester. Senators also passed resolutions to give the body’s executive committee the power to call regular senate meetings outside of the traditional monthly meetings and urge officials to approve new hires for GW Libraries in advance of the upcoming fall semester.
Murli Gupta, the chair of the committee on appointments, salary and promotion policies, said faculty must be consulted as officials make decisions regarding the budget for the fall semester.
“Any salary, personnel or benefit related change including furlough or layoffs, if that is our last resort item, should be based exclusively upon the long-term education and research missions of the University,” he said. “Again we ask for consultation with the Faculty Senate, executive committee, Faculty Senate committees and Benefits Advisory Committee .”
Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights said in an interview prior to the meeting that officials will be looking “across the board” at the University to determine where cost-cutting measures will be employed.
“I can’t say that layoffs will be a last resort,” she said.
The resolution states that if salary or benefit reductions become necessary, they must be used for a “specified limited time” after officials consult with the relevant senate committees.
The senate approved an amendment to the resolution that Mary Jean Schumann, a faculty senator and associate professor of nursing, proposed to emphasize that the deans of each school should provide their perspective on the “unique needs” each school has during the decision-making process for the fall semester.
The senate also approved an amendment that Jamie Cohen-Cole, an associate professor of American studies, proposed to specify that any personnel changes should first be made in areas outside the University’s core missions of research, education and service.
Senators also passed a resolution calling on officials to “immediately” approve “expert” librarian hirings for GW Libraries by a 21 to 6 vote, with one abstention.
Harald Griesshammer, an associate professor of physics and the chair of the committee on libraries, said at the senate’s regular meeting earlier this month that “strategic investments” are needed to ensure that faculty have the resources necessary for any future online instruction.
“We need those people in place pretty much yesterday, because we faculty need to prepare for fall teaching in a hybrid or online mode, pretty much starting now,” he said at the May 8 meeting.
The third resolution enables the senate’s executive committee to call additional senate meetings during the summer given the “urgent circumstances” that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. University President Thomas LeBlanc called  Wednesday’s special meeting in addition to the regularly scheduled meeting earlier this month to discuss future academic and financial planning.
Provost Brian Blake  said  faculty are working to make courses “more flexible” to adapt to potential health restrictions, and officials will likely take at least one residence hall offline to provide beds for quarantined students.
He added that he is meeting with the deans of the schools this week to discuss long-term strategies to reduce expenses in light of the pandemic.
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Officials developing testing strategy, 'flexible' coursework
by The GW Hatchet
May 25, 2020
“Officials said they are still planning to host students on campus this fall, but faculty are working to make courses “more flexible” to adapt to potential health restrictions.
Provost Brian Blake said at a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday that officials will likely take at least one residence hall offline to provide about 100 beds for quarantined students “at the very minimal.” The deans of the schools and colleges are working to develop hybrid options for courses for vulnerable populations or students who need to quarantine for part of the semester, he said.
“A number of the schools are already working very aggressively to make sure that can happen,” Blake said of hybrid course delivery in the fall. “I know it can be harder in some areas than others, so we want to make sure between now and the fall we’re working to make sure the campus is ready.”
Administrators unveiled three fall semester scenarios earlier this month, with a final decision expected by mid-June. Blake said the scenarios project annual losses of between $86 and $320 million based on the latest data.
Blake said he plans to meet with each school’s dean this week to discuss long-term strategies to reduce expenses and said cuts in all areas are on the table. Officials have suspended most capital projects and hirings and  frozen merit pay increases, and top administrators will take a pay cut beginning July 1.
He said he has also looked at other institutions that have announced they will end in-person classes for the fall semester by Thanksgiving.
“I thought it was a great idea in general,” Blake said. “It was definitely a good suggestion.”
He said administrators are closely watching the University’s summer melt – students who commit to attending the University in the fall but do not eventually enroll – as they expect the pandemic to cause changes in enrollment levels. Undergraduate commitment deposits fell about 18 percent this year, partially due to a planned cut in enrollment.
Blake said deposits have grown to 2,411, and officials expect that number to increase to roughly 2,450 total deposits for first-year students entering in the fall. Deposits from international students and domestic students decreased by 38 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, but the gap could decrease in size if the pandemic’s impacts lessen, he said.
“We certainly have to watch it very closely,” he said. “Schools are working for solutions to keep students protected.”
Blake said officials will also accept more transfer students than previously anticipated to enroll a greater number than the original target of 300 transfer students.
Lynn Goldman, the dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, said the University’s testing strategy is “under development,” but officials want to monitor the presence of the virus and antibodies that could provide a level of immunity in people.
“We’re definitely on a track of wanting to get a snapshot of everybody coming in and make sure that we’re not bringing on the campus people who we know could be infected to keep the community safer,” she said.
Goldman said officials plan to “periodically” test the campus population throughout the fall in addition to contact tracing and quarantining. She said administrators are considering testing the entire campus community for the virus weekly and for antibodies twice a month but may also sample a representative population – like testing a quarter of the population weekly.
“We’re actually not thinking about limiting testing to people with symptoms,” Goldman said. “That is the strategy that’s been undertaken by our federal government, and unfortunately, the people with symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg for the pandemic.”
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Elliott School to allow new graduate students to enroll in Flex-Start
by The GW Hatchet
May 22, 2020
“All newly admitted graduate students in the Elliott School of International Affairs will be able to take courses online this fall.
Officials implemented the Flex-Start program for students facing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic or those who would prefer not to move to the District during a time of “uncertain economic and public health conditions,” according to a University release . Students will be able to take up to 9 credits online in each of the 13 graduate programs the Elliott School offers at the same cost as in-person classes, the release states.
Professors will hold class sessions live during the regular weekly course time for students in the program, and the courses will be designed to be “highly interactive,” according to the release.
“We will work with each admitted student on a case-by-case basis to identify the right plan of action and deadlines for moving forward,” the release states.
Students will not need to pursue a separate enrollment process for the program, the release states.
The release states that professors will work with the Elliott School’s instructional design team to create “cutting-edge course content.”
“In addition, faculty are trained in individualized workshops to help identify nuances to be captured in each particular course,” the release states. “Students are not subjected to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; rather, the courses are produced with a view to maintaining the same student experience online as they would have in-person Elliott School classes.”
Officials in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences launched a similar program last month for graduate students facing travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
University President Thomas LeBlanc said in a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month that officials will announce a final decision regarding the status of the fall semester by mid-June. He said officials are considering three scenarios for the fall semester: a return to in-person courses with social distancing measure, a hybrid of online and in-person instruction and fully online classes.
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ANC votes to reform city unemployment insurance system
by The GW Hatchet
May 21, 2020
“A local governing body voted to repair the city’s unemployment insurance system that has left workers empty-handed when applying for financial relief during the pandemic.
The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution Wednesday to improve the Department of Employment Services’ software that processes the growing number of unemployment claims from laid-off and furloughed workers amid widespread business struggles. Commissioners proposed that a new District Digital Service fixes the technological shortfalls of D.C.’s online portals, preventing problems from occurring during widespread unemployment emergencies in the future.
Here’s highlights from the meeting:
Unemployment insurance system
Commissioner Trupti Patel reported that DOES has not responded to all of its more than 100,000 unemployment insurance claims that laid-off and furloughed workers have applied for during the past eight weeks of widespread financial distress amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said DOES only spent $7 million of its $46 million fiscal year 2020 budget allocation, even though there are still local workers waiting up to six weeks to receive their government funding, past the two-week processing turnaround the department pledged.
“I felt that it was appropriate to put in an official resolution to be addressed to the labor committee, the mayor and to the chairman of the council that this is not acceptable,” she said.
Patel said the District could have avoided the issue if the government had improved its online system that processes and distributes funding to local workers and fixed its staffing shortages. The resolution calls for the D.C. Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to arrange an enhanced portal and assemble a new digital service that can fix current shortfalls, like an “overwhelmed hotline” and long wait times that multiple D.C. government agencies are facing.
“There are still people who’ve filed who still have not gotten their unemployment insurance benefits,” she said. “And just to think that a lot of this, like 90 percent of this, could have been prevented if they modernized the portal as they budgeted for.”
Free parking for D.C. primary
The ANC requested the District Department of Transportation to grant one hour of free parking at in-person voting sites for all Ward 2 residents who are unable to vote through an absentee ballot for the D.C. primary  on June 2.
Commissioner Nicole Goldin said the Ward 2 voting centers, located at Hardy Middle School and One Judiciary Square, are inaccessible for pedestrians and public transit commuters, leaving residents who don’t fill out mail-in ballots little choice but to drive to in-person sites.
“We have two centers within Ward 2 that are actually not convenient in terms of walking, walkability to the majority of the residents,” she said.
Rachel Coll, the public information officer on the D.C. Board of Elections, delivered a presentation on voting guidelines, saying the District cut city-wide voting centers from 144 to 20 to discourage in-person voting during the pandemic. Coll and ANC commissioners recommended local voters to apply for mail-in ballots to avoid breaking social distancing and risking infection.
“We are really encouraging voters not to rely on the use of our vote centers but to request their absentee ballot and vote by mail,” she said.
2100 Pennsylvania Avenue construction
The commission approved the extension of an after-hours construction permit for Boston Properties, a real estate investment trust company, to build a new office space at the site of 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue. The resolution allows the company to continue its utility work on I Street from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday until the end of July to complete its work before students return to campus in August, should the University decide to reopen.
Sean Sullivan, the vice president at Boston Properties, said the company paused its unfinished work during its two-month construction permit set in February because D.C. Water, the District’s utility service, discontinued site inspections during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately COVID struck, and D.C. Water stopped doing inspections for our connections, so we tried to do as much as we could,” he said. “Unfortunately without their participation, which is required for every time we make a connection and cover the existing pipes, we were not able to move forward.”
Senior James Harnett, the commission’s vice chair, said the work on I Street should continue in a few weeks when D.C. Water resumes utility inspections. Harnett said he supports accelerating the project’s completion to accommodate the potential arrival of students in nearby residence halls.
“Now that most students aren’t on campus right now, or at least in District House or in Lafayette, I’m happy to see this work getting done before most students return hopefully in the fall,” he said.
The University signed a 75-year contract last July to lease Boston Properties the site at 2100 Penn.”

Ward 2 candidates discuss COVID-19, inequity at online forum
by The GW Hatchet
May 21, 2020
“Candidates vying for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat discussed COVID-19 financial relief and different forms of inequity in the District in an online forum Monday.
Washington Post reporter Fenit Nirappil moderated the forum, featuring each of the race’s eight candidates who touted experience and policy plans to push the District past the public health and economic hardships that have plagued residents, workers and businesses throughout the pandemic. The event comes as voters receive  their mail-in ballots for the D.C. Democratic primary set for June 2.
GW Democrats organized the forum that was broadcasted via Zoom and Facebook alongside the D.C. Democratic Party, the Women’s National Democratic Club, D.C. College Democrats and Georgetown University Democrats.
COVID-19 relief
Nirappil asked the candidates what they would change about the Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal that Mayor Muriel Bowser released Monday, which taps into $500 million of federal reserves and freezes pay increases for all public sector workers to compensate for a revenue drop of more than $800 million caused by the pandemic’s economic effects. Candidates agreed that the city must protect workers and small businesses whose financial stability has collapsed in light of closures and furloughs throughout the District.
Brooke Pinto, who has served as the District’s assistant attorney general for policy and legislative affairs, said the budget should include “more direct” relief for small businesses, residents and renters. She said the budget’s hiring freeze weakens government agencies like the Department of Employment Services that will need to increase staffing to process a surge in unemployment insurance claims.
“Our city cannot provide a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a problem that does not have one size,” she said.
Kishan Putta, a member of the Burelith, Georgetown and Hillendale Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said he has spent 15 years working on public health measures in D.C. and six years supporting the Affordable Care Act in which he improved community enrollment for D.C. Health Link, the District’s health insurance exchange system, according to his website . He said this experience will drive him to pull D.C. residents out of the ongoing public health “crisis.”
He said the District needs to prioritize funding early childhood education that spans from newborns to three-year-olds, whose learning experiences he said have been thrown into question while schools and daycare centers remain shuttered .
“Think of our kids first,” he said. “They are really being hurt. We are at risk of losing a generation of kids if their education gap is not restored.”
Jordan Grossman, a former staffer for Barack Obama, said he issued a joint statement two weeks ago with a Ward 7 ANC commissioner and the former director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute – a public policy think tank – that stated the budget should prioritize workers, families and small businesses that the pandemic has harmed.
“Whether it’s child care or affordable housing, these are the things we need to prioritize now for the long term even though we’re in a tight situation,” he said.
Racial and economic inequality
Nirappil asked the candidates to address in their opening statements how “racial and economic inequity” would impact their term as a council member.
Daniel Hernandez, a Microsoft employee who served as a Marine in Afghanistan, said his upbringing in a single-mother household in a working-class neighborhood has led him to hold issues regarding economic inequity in the forefront of his political priorities. He said he would “champion” undocumented workers’ rights while other candidates may try resolving inequity issues “to build a career.”
“As we talk about equity as a focus of this forum or this forum or some of these questions, the core of my desire to run for office is rooted in that,” he said.
Yilin Zhang, who identified herself as a first-generation Asian-American and health care system executive, said combatting D.C.’s homelessness issue with stable housing and better education will be her top priority upon taking office.
“I think it’s very important that housing is a human right,” she said
Candidates also debated an excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, which critics have said has potentially harmful effects on low-income communities like wards 7 and 8 because of a lack of cheap food and drink alternatives.
Zhang and Patrick Kennedy, the Foggy Bottom and West End ANC chair, said the tax would fail to improve nutritional standards in communities that can’t afford access to healthier food options.
“It would function as a regressive tax,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think that there are sufficient alternatives to sodas that are available especially in the food deserts of this city in wards 7 and 8.”
Pinto and Grossman backed the tax, arguing it would better “health inequities” that plague the District.
New football stadium
The candidates discussed the installment of a new venue for the Washington Redskins at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, which sits at the edge of the northwest side of the Anacostia River. D.C. officials announced plans last year to demolish the stadium by 2021 because of maintenance costs.
Jack Evans, who resigned his Ward 2 seat after an ethics scandal ended his 29-year term, said he supports the stadium’s renovation, stating it would lead to an economic boost for the District. He said the football team, which now plays in Maryland, would pay for the stadium, but taxpayers would have to help fund infrastructure like surrounding roads and utility installment to accommodate the venue.
“I have a very detailed plan on if the football team were to come back to the city, how that would be financed,” he said.
John Fanning, the chair of the Logan Circle ANC, agreed with Evans and said the renewed venue would produce new jobs for D.C. workers.
“What we have to look about is the whole economic prosperity that comes along with the development of a facility like this, from construction jobs to vendors to you name it,” he said.
Putta and Hernandez said the District should focus on other initiatives like affordable housing that would benefit D.C. residents on a wider scale.
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Board chair says tuition will not change if classes remain online
by The GW Hatchet
May 20, 2020
“Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights said the Board does not plan to change next year’s tuition from the previously chosen rate if classes remain online in the fall.
The Board voted in February to set tuition to $58,550 next year – an annual increase of 3 percent – for incoming students as GW phases out its fixed tuition policy. Speights said she expects the approved tuition rate for the next academic year to stand, even if students take classes online or in a hybrid scenario.
“Our aim is to provide a world-class education for students whatever the classes look like once in the fall, whether it’s on campus or whether it’s online, so I don’t anticipate any reduction in the tuition,” she said.
A parent sued the University earlier this month for a partial refund of tuition, fees and room and board payments for the spring semester in light of the transition to online classes in March. Officials have provided refunds of lost housing, dining and parking costs on a prorated basis.
University President Thomas LeBlanc said earlier this month that students returning to in-person instruction as scheduled in the fall is an “optimistic scenario,” and officials are actively developing contingency plans for hybrid or remote instruction.
Speights said the Board delayed the passage of the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, until trustees can discern a “clearer picture” of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID has definitely impacted GW just like every college and university, and it has and it will continue to have a significant impact on GW finances,” she said. “We are still not sure how much of an impact that will be.”
Officials’ scenarios for the next academic year project an annual loss of between $100 million and $300 million, depending on when students return to campus.
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Fall study abroad, non-essential global travel halted
by The GW Hatchet
May 19, 2020
“All fall study abroad programs are canceled and GW-affiliated, non-essential travel is postponed “until further notice,” officials said in an email Tuesday.
GW-related travel “that is believed to be essential” will be considered for approval by the relevant deans or vice presidents, and non-essential international travel like educational conferences could be postponed or managed through other “alternative methods,” the email states. Members of the GW community can contact their vice president or dean to request approval for essential travel, according to the email.
“We know these travel restrictions may have a significant impact on your studies or your work,” Provost Brian Blake and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz said in the joint email. “We appreciate your understanding as we take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of our community members.”
Graduate students intending to receive academic credit for international travel that is necessary to graduate must be approved by their respective dean or vice president, the email states. Research-related travel that cannot be delayed, “managed by alternative methods” and is necessary to sustain a research project is deemed essential, according to the email.
Associate Provost of International Programs Donna Scarboro also announced in an email Tuesday that all students who planned to study abroad this fall are allowed to switch their travel plans to the spring if their schedules permit.
“Please understand that the University did not come to this decision lightly,” Scarboro said. “Our top priority is ensuring your health and safety amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis.”
University President Thomas Leblanc said at a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month that officials will provide an update on plans for the fall semester by around the middle of June.”

Rising senior forward leaves men's basketball program
by The GW Hatchet
May 19, 2020
“Rising senior forward Javier Langarica left the men’s basketball program and has not entered the transfer portal, athletic department spokesman Brian Sereno said Tuesday.
The forward spent three seasons with the Colonials and averaged 4.1 points and four rebounds per game in 16.4 average minutes of action throughout his career. He started 32 of his 56 career appearances, with 25 of those starts taking place in his sophomore campaign.
Langarica, a Spain native and the program’s sole international student-athlete, made just 10 appearances his freshman year. During the 2018-19 season, his minutes soared from 2.7 to 21.9 per game.
He ranked second on the team in rebounding for the 2018-19 season, averaging 5.3 boards per game. Langarica wrestled a team-high 176 rebounds on the year and tacked on 5.6 points per game and 37 blocks to round out his second season.
A hand injury sidelined him for a two-month stretch this season, causing him to miss the bulk of conference competition. He played in 13 games, averaging 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 points and 13 minutes on the court. Langarica netted the game-winning basket against Boston University to give the Colonials their fourth win of the season.
Langarica is the fifth player to leave the squad since the 2019-20 season began. Senior forward Arnaldo Toro , sophomore forward Mezie Offurum , junior guard Justin Mazzulla and freshman guard Shawn Walker Jr. transferred out of the program.
The Colonials added four new commits – graduate student forward Matthew Moyer , graduate student guard Brandon Leftwich , junior guard Ricky Lindo Jr. and sophomore guard James Bishop .
The team is set to return nine players from the 2019-20 season. With Langarica’s departure, rising senior guard Maceo Jack is the only player on the 15-member roster with more than one season of GW basketball under his belt.”

Patient sues GW, alleging failure to properly treat leg infections
by The GW Hatchet
May 19, 2020
“A patient is suing GW for $10 million alleging doctors failed to identify and treat two infected masses on his right leg that corroded tissue down to his bone.
In a nine-page complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court Thursday, Mark Thomas alleges doctors at the GW Hospital passed off two swollen masses on his right leg as hematoma – bleeding around a blood vessel that causes bruising – instead of heeding Thomas’ requests in 2016 and 2017 to inspect the spots more closely. Thomas alleges that after multiple inquiries, a surgeon referred to as “Dr. Abel” found the masses to be interconnected abscesses, swollen pockets of pus, that had been eroding tissue in Thomas’ leg over time.
“The Defendants, and each or any of them, deviated from the standard of care in the medical care and treatment provided to Plaintiff, were negligent, reckless and careless and breached the duties imposed upon them and caused the injuries suffered by the Plaintiff,” the complaint states.
Thomas is suing the University, Medical Faculty Associates, the GW Hospital and Universal Health Services, the hospital’s majority owner.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal, MFA spokeswoman Barbara Porter, GW Hospital spokeswoman Susan Griffiths and UHS did not return requests for comment. Thomas could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit states that Thomas first consulted GW Hospital about the two swollen masses – one on his right thigh and one near his right knee – on May 6, 2016, when doctors performed an ultrasound and told Thomas they thought the formations were hematoma. After increased discomfort and fluid release from the swelling, Thomas asked about the two masses on Jan. 5 and 19, 2017 because of his concern that they were interconnected, the complaint states.
Thomas alleges doctors declined to inspect or treat the swelling on his right thigh despite his request to check if the two masses were connected.
The lawsuit states the masses first appeared after Thomas received screws and a plate, inserts that hold a bone in place, following a right leg fracture prior to his treatment at GW Hospital.
Thomas alleges that GW Hospital doctors performed blood work, X-rays, fluid drainage and an ultrasound on the mass near his right knee on Jan. 5, 2017 without doing the same to the mass on his thigh, even though Thomas was concerned about the swellings’ connection.
The lawsuit states that Thomas’s concerns were not investigated until a CT evaluation on Feb. 21 found “three interconnecting deep abscesses” that required surgical removal. Thomas underwent surgery on April 7, which revealed that the abscess had destroyed tissue in his right leg all the way down to his bone, the complaint states.
Thomas alleges the defendants failed to conduct the treatment needed to diagnose the infected masses and inform him of the complications the treatment’s delay caused.
“Defendants, inter alia, failed to perform necessary studies and scans from April 2016 until Feb. 21, 2017, thus missing the diagnosis of the multiple abscess pockets, inordinately delaying necessary treatment and resulting in permanent injury to Plaintiff,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit states Thomas required additional treatment and hospitalization after two more operations since his April 2017 surgery, which caused physical and financial damage. Doctors later removed Thomas’ screw and plate from his prior leg fracture treatment and installed two wound vacs, used to close a wound, the complaint states.
“Plaintiff, with no negligence on his own part, suffered personal injuries and damages, suffered emotional pain and was caused to incur hospital and extraordinary medical expenses and loss of earnings,” the complaint states.”

The Class of 2020 is an inspiration to the GW community
by The GW Hatchet
May 18, 2020
“The Class of 2020’s final days at GW have been upended by a pandemic, leaving them to watch University President Thomas LeBlanc confer their degrees on a computer instead of in the backdrop of the National Mall.
Graduates did not end their college careers in the way they imagined. They could not surround themselves with friends and family, they could not receive hugs and flowers from their family and they could not take their quintessential #OnlyAtGW picture in front of the Lincoln Memorial. But whether they liked it or not, the class set an example for what it truly means to make the best out of difficult circumstances. Their sacrifices should be commended and remembered as we work to return to normal in the coming months.
It’s not the first challenge the Class of 2020 faced during their time at GW. Graduates have needed to adjust to a new University president and several new administrators, saw changes to their dining plans and participated in historic protests following the presidential election, school shootings and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. With every experience, the class was able to learn about what it means to advocate and ultimately adapt to change. They may have not known it at the time, but with every curveball they were thrown, they grew a bit more.
Now, their Commencement was scrapped because of a public health crisis. And once they head into the world, graduates will face a declining economy, skyrocketing unemployment rates and uncertainty over when the pandemic will subside. They deserved better than a virtual graduation ceremony, but the class should know that they have demonstrated what it means to take everything with a grain of salt and adjust.
It would be easy to fall into a black hole about now: your graduation isn’t going as planned, you need to find a job in the middle of a pandemic and the state and health of our nation is in question. Even with all these negatives, I have still seen countless graduation pictures of people in their cap and gown, surrounded by family, in their childhood home or in their apartment, trying to make the best of this situation.
The Class of 2020 is an inspiration to us all. When we start to complain about the mundane things in life like finals or our potentially annoying roommates, we should all remember what the Class of 2020 endured. They took the time to be upset, then adapted to the change and continued to celebrate with smiles on their faces.
While many of our graduating class have every reason to wallow, many are getting right to work. Those graduating with degrees in medicine and health sciences are preparing to enter a workforce that is on the front lines of fighting the pandemic. Those graduating with degrees in political science or international affairs are aiming to work toward a more just world and democracy. Some who don’t yet have a job are still working as essential personnel in grocery stores and businesses. Their commitment and discipline should inspire us all to work harder and appreciate what we have right now.
The Class of 2020 should know that if they can endure a pandemic as they enter the workforce, they can tackle pretty much anything. This year’s graduates are flexible and dedicated – we shouldn’t forget about them as we continue our time at GW.
Hannah Thacker, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.”

Classes to be held remotely for two weeks following Thanksgiving
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“Most students will take their classes remotely for two weeks following Thanksgiving this fall, as officials continue planning to tentatively resume in-person classes in August.
University President Thomas LeBlanc said the decision, a similar move to several universities across the country, will prevent the potential spread of coronavirus that could occur if students travel home for the holiday and return to campus, according to an email sent to the GW community Tuesday. Students will attend in-person classes on Labor Day and Fall Break will be canceled to maximize in-person instruction time and avoid travel, he said.
“In moving expeditiously on our operations and academic planning efforts, it is clear that much is dependent on our anticipated fall calendar and modes of instruction,” he said in the email. “There is also, understandably, a degree of urgency to make decisions on these fronts to allow time for our community, and specifically our faculty, to prepare for classes – especially because we plan to use the changes coming this fall as an opportunity to enhance the GW learning experience for our students.”
LeBlanc said officials are developing “alternative schedules” for programs in the School of Nursing, College of Professional Studies, School of Medicine and Health Sciences and GW Law that meet professional accreditation requirements. Officials are also creating a process for students to request to remain on campus through the end of the semester, LeBlanc said.
He said Provost Brian Blake is encouraging faculty to use the two weeks of remote learning following Thanksgiving for an “innovative online experience” and hold major exams in person before the holiday, based on student feedback about taking spring final exams online.
LeBlanc said Blake will share “additional guidance” to faculty for adjusting syllabi and preparing for online learning with “best-in-class” instructional methods and technology. LeBlanc said officials will offer a process for faculty who cannot teach on campus to request accommodation.
The move will end the semester before the originally scheduled final exam period, creating a more than four-week winter break for students between the fall and spring semesters.
Blake said in an interview last week that administrators’ internal planning suggested they would end classes before Thanksgiving or start in-person classes early.
LeBlanc said officials have “great forward momentum” in planning for students to return to campus in August, but they may need to make further changes as the fall semester approaches. Administrators organized a Back to Campus Initiative last month to spearhead planning efforts for an in-person fall semester.
“While we are cautiously optimistic about our ability to implement these adjustments to the fall calendar, please know that as always this decision is subject to change based on the evolution of the pandemic; the recommendations of our experts and D.C., regional and federal requirements and guidance; and any additional steps we believe are necessary to support the health, safety and care of the University community,” he said.
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BSU letter demands GWPD reforms
by The GW Hatchet
Jun 02, 2020
“The Black Student Union published a letter Tuesday calling on the GW Police Department to adopt a slew of changes aimed at improving the relationship between students and officers.
The letter, addressed to GWPD Chief James Tate and Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Scott Burnotes, demands that the department levy a no-tolerance policy for officers who act on racial bias and decrease the department’s reliance on the Metropolitan Police Department. The letter comes in the wake of protests nationwide over the deaths of Breonna Taylor , George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery , three black Americans who were killed at the hands of police in recent months.
BSU also called on officers to “significantly” decrease officers’ presence at events hosted by black students, regularly meet with student leaders and to involve black leaders and diversity and inclusion officials in GWPD cultural competency and sensitivity training.
“Our community’s goal is to improve our relationship with GWPD, and are appreciative of individual officers who have put forth the effort to do so,” the letter states. “We are now asking for structural change to enforce this goal among all officers, not merely a select few. We deserve to feel like we’re being protected on our own campus – not like the ones others are being protected from.”
Eight student organizations signed onto the letter in addition to BSU, including the African Student Association; GW Black Women’s Forum; GW National Council of Negro Women, Inc.; GW Queer and Trans People of Color Association; GW National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; GW Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association; Students Against Imperialism; and GW Black Men’s Initiative.
A University spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
The letter also rejects a Hatchet editorial board piece last year recommending that GWPD hire armed officers, saying the action would further erode trust between students and officers and endanger students of color.
“We believe there are methods of de-escalation and safety enforcement that do not require the use of weapons,” the letter states.
Peyton Wilson, BSU’s executive vice president, said the organization is “grateful” for Tate’s efforts in supporting the black community and speaking with student leaders of groups like the Black Men’s Initiative. She said fostering long-lasting cultural changes within GWPD is “imperative.”
“While we have meeting after meeting with leadership, there are officers turning around and perpetuating the very culture we’re trying to change,” Wilson said in an email. “Black students, at a University they are paying for, should trust and have a relationship with campus police.”
She added that cultivating a culture of accountability with consequences for officers who engage in intolerant behavior will contribute to building a foundation to “get us to where we need to go.”
“But most importantly, we need the University to implement an enforceable no-tolerance policy for acts of violence and racial bias,” she said. “Too many black students can recall negative encounters they’ve had with GWPD that other students will never experience.”
D.C.-area BSUs also published a letter Friday calling on Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Peter Newsham to implement measures like reducing youth arrests by 90 percent aimed at addressing police brutality.”

Citing ‘possible regulatory liabilities,’ WU turns down federal CARES funding
by Student Life
May 22, 2020
“Washington University announced Wednesday that it would reject the $6.4 million pandemic relief package it had been allocated by the federal government.
The package was allotted to the University as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in March. $14 billion of the fund was set aside for 4,500 qualifying colleges and universities.
Grace Bruton | Student Life
“After careful consideration of the possible regulatory liabilities associated with the Fund, we have concluded that accepting this funding would not be the correct course of action for our long-term recovery,” the University wrote in a statement. The statement did not clarify what the University meant by “possible regulatory liabilities” and administrators could not be reached for comment.
Several schools with extensive endowments, including Harvard University and Stanford University, have also said they would not accept the federal aid , following criticism from President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for being granted access to aid despite having a high endowment.
However, the University’s choice to deny the money comes nearly a month after those schools had announced that they would not take the relief. Washington University’s endowment is $8.1 billion, significantly lower than Harvard’s $40.9 billion or Stanford’s $26.4 billion.
The University had included the $6.4 million allocation as a possible source of revenue in an April 20 letter to faculty and staff.
In the letter, Chancellor Andrew Martin and two other administrators wrote that the University had “started work on exploring cost recovery” through the CARES Act. “While certainly significant, much of this funding is restricted for conditional use and in no way makes up for our losses,” the administrators wrote.
Like most universities nationwide, the University is experiencing financial hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic. Projecting a revenue loss of $175 million by the end of the fiscal year, the University furloughed 1,300 employees and cut administrator salaries by 15-20%.
The Department of Education mandated that at least 50% of the CARES Act funds must be used to provide emergency grants for students. Many schools that have accepted the relief, such as Vanderbilt University and Cornell University , have put all of the funding into supporting students who receive financial aid.
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley was among the critics of universities accepting federal aid. In April, Hawley introduced a bill that would prevent institutions with endowments larger than $10 billion from receiving CARES Act funds unless they had already spent 10 times the amount allocated to them on emergency grants for students.
The University maintained that it would explore other means of assisting its students. “We remain firmly committed to providing financial support to our most vulnerable students through other means, and will dedicate additional university resources to ensure that we are able to meet demonstrated need,” the statement read. “We have offered funding to students through grants, housing and dining refunds, our Crisis Response Fund and other programs, and will take necessary steps to increase our support as the situation continues to evolve.”
The University’s Crisis Response Fund was meant to address students’ essential needs through May 15, such as unexpected rent and utilities for non-University housing, groceries, medicine and unreimbursed co-pays for physical or mental health services.
“While we will make every effort to offer some emergency funding for stipend requests that meet the criteria laid out above, we know that it will not be possible for us to grant every request. Some students will need to rely upon non-university resources to meet their needs,” Sam Fox Associate Dean of Students Georgia Binnington wrote in an email to students, April 28.
The University issued prorated refunds for housing, parking fees and health and wellness fees, as well as lost wages from work study and meal plan balances on a student-by-student basis.
The University has not yet announced whether it would accept the $16.5 million allocated to the Medical School from a different portion of the CARES Act.”

Breaking: Title IX revisions to shift how colleges investigate sexual assault and misconduct
by Student Life
May 07, 2020
“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally issued new Title IX regulations for schools handling instances of sexual misconduct Wednesday. The updated rules are intended to go into effect Aug. 14.
The guidance, which is over 2,000 pages in length, has been criticized for prioritizing university liability and alleged abusers over the survivors of assault.
Universities will no longer be held responsible for violence that occurs in housing not owned by the school or that takes place during study abroad programs. In addition, schools will not be allowed to investigate allegations, even when proven true, that fail to meet a heightened standard for harassment.
Curran Neenan | Student Life
“While the rule includes important provisions that promote fair process, it falls short in protecting students’ access to education,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement .
Title IX was intended to ensure that no student would be denied or limited educational opportunities on the basis of sex, but the new rule “thwarts that aim by dramatically reducing schools’ obligations to address sexual harassment and assault,” Melling continued.
Schools will now only be held responsible if their actions are “deliberately indifferent,” allowing them to choose to not investigate incidents that they reasonably should have known about, Melling said.
Washington University issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to implementing any new measures required by the law.
“We are determined to maintain our focus on prevention and education, fair processes and providing support to all of our community members as we review and implement the amended regulations,” the statement said.
Among other changes, the new rule has been widely criticized for requiring a live hearing with direct cross-examination.
This could force survivors to go through “an anguish-inducing process that includes requiring them to face direct questioning by respondents’ aggressive counsel in a live hearing courtroom-like setting,” Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson wrote in a statement .
“There are alternative forms of cross-examination that are consistent with public universities’ due process obligations and are far more appropriate than the requirements under the rule,” McPherson added.
Proponents of the Trump administration’s new regulations say that they will ensure fairness and due process for those accused of sexual violence. Alleged perpetrators must now be given written assurance of their presumed innocence and will not receive any disciplinary action until the end of the case.
Regardless of the content of the regulation, its timing — during the middle of a deadly pandemic when most educational institutions are running at a very limited capacity — was termed irresponsible by many.
“Choosing this moment to impose the most complex and challenging regulations the agency has ever issued reflects appallingly poor judgment,” American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell said in a statement .
While schools are usually given at least eight months to implement new rules, Mitchell explained, DeVos’ new regulations are set to take effect in just three months. “[This] is as cruel as it is counter-productive,” he said.”

‘A watershed moment’: Reflecting on the burning of the ROTC Air Force building—50 years later
by Student Life
May 05, 2020
“50 years ago yesterday, Washington University students gathered in protest of the Vietnam War after learning of the shooting at Kent State University. The protest ended in flames.
The ROTC building, previously located southeast of Big Bend Boulevard and Millbrook Boulevard, was burned during the night of Feb. 23, 1970, and the adjacent Air Force building was destroyed at 12:30 a.m. on May 5, 1970, after a day of violent protests.
University Archivist Sonya Rooney at Olin Special Collections shared some of the documents from the time period about students organizing in protest of the war. These documents give students the opportunity to conduct in-depth analysis of the time period 50 years later.
“These primary sources allow us to preserve the history of the event and allow students and researchers to greater understand these events,” Rooney said. “It’s great as an archivist to be able to make them available, especially now that they’re online and the archives are closed.”
Artifacts housed in the Special Collections archive include anti-ROTC posters, pamphlets speaking out against American military action in Vietnam and Cambodia and other organizing materials for causes such as racial justice. One of the flyers reads “ROTC, which trains college students to murder people in Southeast Asia, Latin America and the rest of the world, still exists in St. Louis.” Another simply says “Smash ROTC.”
Courtesy of the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections
Covering the protest
Student Life archives from 1970 show that the paper chronicled the event in a special edition titled “Strike Extra,” including dramatic images of the burning building and mass protests.
“Being able to see how Student Life covered them really gives you a context for the time period, and all the student activism sets the stage for us to look back now when we aren’t able to be in that context,” Rooney said.
Norman Pressman, a former editor of Student Life, noted how the publication changed and grew over the course of the Vietnam War.
“The newspaper office was pretty active at the time,” Pressman said. “There were a lot of people who wrote in…a lot of letters to the editor. There were a few people who didn’t like our attitudes, but not many.”
Pressman noted that Student Life functioned mostly as a “mouthpiece” for the social scene before the war.
“There was the prom queen, and who’s getting pinned to who and stuff like that,” Pressman said. “It started changing to more of a political kind of thing.”
A political campus
During the fall of 1969, the campus climate changed dramatically.
“Things started to get very, very hot on campus,” Pressman said. “Before then, the left-wing people, the activists, people like me…were sort of out on a wing. But then people on the more conservative parts of the campus, the athletes and a lot of the fraternity members started to become anti-war, mainly because a lot of them could be drafted.”
The moment that galvanized the anti-war movement was the Kent State massacre on May 4, 1970, during which four students were killed and nine others wounded by members of the National Guard. The shooting at Kent State took place one day before Wash. U. students burned the ROTC air force building.
“The Kent State… was a watershed moment, both on campus and in the country,” Pressman said. After news of the massacre reached campus, student organizers held a rally on Brookings Quadrangle.
“I think it was the biggest rally I’d ever seen, I think there may have been 2,000 people,” Pressman said. “Everyone marched down to the ROTC building, and I still remember people chanting and yelling and screaming. I remember a window being broken.”
Pressman recalled being awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call about the burning of a building in the ROTC complex.
“Once the building burned down, things really sort of stopped on campus,” Pressman said. “There still was graduation, but in the time between Kent State and graduation, the campus actually came to a close. There were no final exams, no nothing.”
Legal repercussions
Howard Mechanic, the man who was convicted of throwing the cherry bomb and burning the building, fled to Arizona after his conviction and remained in hiding for 28 years. He was later discovered after attempting to run for Scottsdale City Council and was pardoned by then-President Bill Clinton in 2001.
Mechanic has always denied responsibility for burning the building. “I wasn’t into destroying property myself, I didn’t do that,” Mechanic said.
“Frankly, no one knew who burnt it down,” Pressman said. “There are some conspiracy theories, I think they’re wrong, that maybe it was some right-wing people doing it to embarrass people on the left. It just happened.”
Despite his claims that he didn’t burn the building, Mechanic was the first person tried under the Civil Obedience Act of 1968 , a federal act that contained anti-riot measures.
“I felt the full weight of the federal government,” Mechanic said. “There were various people at Washington University being charged with different things based on that night, some including sabotage of the building, but I was the first one of the bunch being charged, so that put a lot of pressure on me.”
Mechanic said that he decided to flee the authorities after serving a six-month sentence for breaking a restraining order that had been issued the morning of the burning.
“The administrators of the prison thought we’d be indoctrinating the predominantly African-American prisoners in some kind of revolutionary tactics or something,” Mechanic said. He described mistreatment from the prison guards, many of whom were ex-military, who threatened and isolated the Wash. U. students.
“They considered us to be traitors, and that’s the way things were back then. It was like black-and-white, as far as people who were against the war were considered traitors, and treated pretty badly,” Mechanic said. “I decided that I wasn’t going to go back into that kind of situation for five years.”
In the aftermath of the building burning, a ‘Smash ROTC’ pamphlet in the University Archives reads, “We believe that a single act of destruction is not sufficient to end ROTC. More importantly, the constellation of corporate interests that make ROTC necessary is still intact. We must move forward to build a mass movement which confronts ROTC as a tool of imperialism.”
A history of activism
The archives at Special Collections reflect a rich history of student activism at Wash. U. There are flyers protesting the police beating of a Black woman in Clayton as well as documents from the late 1960s related to race relations and workers’ pay.
“There was so much student activism on so many different topics in this time,” Rooney said.
Student activism continues today, both at Wash. U. and across the country, with student-led protests being held on a variety of issues from racial justice to fossil fuel divestment.
“The issues are different, but I know a lot of campuses are very active,” Mechanic said. “I know there’s a lot of activity between disinvesting from fossil fuels.”
Looking back, Pressman notes that a common thread among his classmates was the agreement that the Vietnam War was detrimental and immoral.
“Some people may have disagreed with the demonstrations and the oppositions to the war, but every single person I know realizes that the war was a horrendous mistake, a horrendous waste of life, whether they’re left or right,” Pressman said. “Some people wish they had done more to oppose the war. I wish I had done more to oppose it.””

WU places 1,300 employees on furlough pending final decision about fall semester
by Student Life
Apr 29, 2020
“Facing revenue loss and an uncertain fall semester, Washington University began the process of furloughing approximately 1,300 employees this week.
Photo by Grace Bruton
Affected employees will be given up to 90 days of unpaid time off from work. The University will continue to provide health insurance to furloughed staff members. Certain campus administrators, including the chancellor, will also take voluntary pay cuts between 15% and 20% for the 2020-21 fiscal year, faculty and staff were informed in an email, April 20.
“It is our fervent hope that virtually all of these individuals will be back,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Admin Officer Henry Webber said. “The key question about that is how close we are to not being operated in fall. And we fervently hope that we are at full operation.”
Sam Fox Dean Carmon Colangelo also emphasized the University’s intention to bring back all affected staff members, pointing out that their work is greatly valued.
“Understandably, there was sadness and disappointment, and worries about the uncertain future,” Colangelo wrote in a statement to Student Life. “But I am optimistic that we will bring our staff back together to start classes in whatever form this fall semester.”
The University projects a revenue loss of $175 million by the end of the fiscal year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. $25 million has been allocated to the Danforth Campus for refunds of housing and dining fees, shipping costs for student belongings and other miscellaneous costs. The remaining $150 million comes from the School of Medicine, which has suspended all elective procedures and other unnecessary procedures unrelated to COVID-19.
“We must now face painful realities as we continue to navigate this evolving situation. Even for an institution like ours, with a strong financial foundation, this crisis is taking a huge toll,” Chancellor Martin wrote in the email.
Webber agreed, citing that this is an unusual time in history.
“In many ways this is unique,” Webber said. “I don’t believe that we have faced this degree of financial pressure.”
Because of this significant loss in revenue, administrators plan to balance the budget and avoid further furloughs by cutting costs when possible. In his email Chancellor Martin announced plans to create a group to “review opportunities for cost savings” in areas including travel expenses, memberships and sponsorships and the use of outside consultants. Additionally, the University has frozen hiring on the Danforth campus and the central fiscal unit, frozen non-clinical positions on the Medical Campus, delayed or eliminated non-essential capital projects and further reduced spending for the near future.
According to Professor of Economics Gaetano Antinolfi, the departments only get to suggest one or two staff members who are essential to the workings of the department. Everything else is decided by the central administrators.
“I think that all departments can do is, at the margin, suggest how to, if there are activities that would make the life of their department very difficult over the summer,” Antinolifi said. “The size [of the furlough] is decided by the central administration.”
Although unsure which staff members are being furloughed, Washington University School of Medicine Dean David Perlmutter said that he was proud of the multi-pronged approach the University was taking by drawing on the reserves, using the federal aid and implementing cost-cutting measures in addition to the furloughs.
The University has received $16 million for the Medical Campus and $6.4 million for the Danforth Campus from the CARES act . However, according to Martin, this funding will not be enough to offset the losses from COVID-19.
“While certainly significant, much of this funding is restricted for conditional use and in no way makes up for our losses,” Martin wrote.
Despite the size of the University’s eight billion dollar endowment, Martin indicated that restrictions on the usage of the endowment make it difficult to put those funds to use.
“We do have a significant endowment, and we will distribute as much as is deemed prudent from this fund to address the current need,” the email said. “However, the reality is that the endowment is also highly restricted, with guidelines in place to ensure our long-term stability in order to provide a secure future for the university for generations to come.”
Additional reporting by Matthew Friedman and Danielle Drake-Flam”

Marginalized people don’t need SJWs, we need allies
by Student Life
Apr 24, 2020
“By now, most of us are acquainted with the idea of—or know of people who may be—a social justice warrior (SJW). This term can be plainly defined as “A person who advocates for progressive orthodoxy, often on the internet…” In theory, being a social justice warrior should be a good thing. One would think that this person is supposed to be the one who advocates for the well-being of all, specifically those who are typically marginalized in society. They’re supposed to stand with those who face consistent adversity based on their identities. Right? That’s what it should be, but what is it really?
The term social justice warrior has been popularized in recent years. Before my sophomore year in college, I didn’t know this phrase existed. But over time, the term and the actions that accompanied it became more and more apparent. Though it remained nameless to me for years, I had seen the people who fit the description, as most of us have.
Some unleash virtual tirades on the social media posts of the unsuspecting, people who may not have even known they’d done wrong. Others patronize in classroom settings, going on about their extensive knowledge on civil rights and the oppressed. A lot of these people claim to “support” marginalized communities, but their efforts miss the mark. Their words come across as self-aggrandizing and exude a holier-than-thou attitude, as if their supposed care and concern for the marginalized makes them exceptionally better than anyone (everyone) else. These actions are just another—yet more discreet—form of elitism, and at the end of the day, who does it really benefit?
I haven’t seen any change come from a tirade in a Facebook comment. Shaming another student in class for their knowledge which you deem is inferior to your own does nothing. Being “woke” or feigning that you are doesn’t boost anyone’s platform but your own. If the goal is to even the playing field, these efforts are not the answer, but rather a perpetuation of the problem.
Marginalized people do not need to be spoken for. In speaking for us, you inherently assume that this task is one that we ourselves are incapable of, only adding to the problem that you claim to want to end. We possess the capability of speaking for ourselves, sharing our own truths and experiences, speaking on our own hurts and adversity as we deem necessary. We don’t need SJWs to broadcast our hardships and stories to the world in an attempt to make themselves appear like model citizens for forced and disingenuous concern.
What we need are allies, people with genuine intentions, people who really do want to see the betterment and success of those who have historically been forgotten. We need people to walk with us and beside us, not people who want a gold star for doing a “good thing.”
There are a lot of people who are well intentioned in their efforts, and there are a lot of people who aren’t. The difference is noticeable. The moral of intent is important, and sincerity isn’t a hard characteristic to spot, just as lack of authenticity isn’t.
To those who truly care, your actions are seen and your efforts are appreciated. To the rest, know where your intentions lie, because even if you can’t see it, we can.”

Summer school coordinators work to ‘maximize learning’ in transition to online format
by Student Life
Apr 24, 2020
“With the announcement that summer classes at Washington University will be fully online, course offerings and academic resources are being updated to suit the remote learning environment.
Photo by Grace Bruton
Tuition will remain the same, and summer courses are expected to be of the same difficulty as they would be in-person.
“One thing for students to keep in mind is that summer classes are intensive, in any format. They run in increments of three, five, or eight weeks rather than in a more expansive fifteen-week schedule,” Summer School Director Beth Landers wrote in a statement to Student Life.
With many other universities nationwide making the switch to remote summer learning, Washington University will accept online courses for credit from other universities. However, the flexible policies of the spring semester are being reconsidered for the summer courses.
“As of now Arts & Sciences is planning on moving back to more normal policies regarding pass/fail, etc. for summer classes,” College of Arts & Sciences Dean Jennifer Smith wrote in a statement to Student Life.
The early decision to transition to remote learning for summer courses has given University professors more time to incorporate online learning tools. Instructors will be trained to teach online in a three-week program.
“Our hope is that this lead time and pedagogical support will allow instructors to set up their summer courses in ways that maximize learning in a remote environment,” Landers wrote.
Some of the hiccups of the abrupt transition to remote learning for the Spring semester might be minimized by this process.
Different courses are adapting to the new environment in different ways. Organic Chemistry, a popular summer course with rising sophomores, will offer the associated lab course in the Spring semester. Students can reach out to individual instructors to find out more information about their course of interest.
Academic resource centers are creating summer operations, and students will have more information by early May.
“[Students] may have originally had other plans for summer, but we hope that remote classes will be a fruitful plan B for everyone!” Landers wrote.”

WU showcases student talent with virtual showcase
by Student Life
Apr 22, 2020
“Everyone loves an excuse to show off their skills and let the world know what they’ve got. Although we’re all quarantined, that doesn’t mean we have to perform in isolation. At the beginning of the month, Washington University announced its virtual talent competition, WashU’s Got Talent, on the official University Instagram page . The showcase is part of the #WashUtogether campaign. The hashtag is meant to serve as a home for stories, videos and pictures of members of the University community coming together during this tumultuous time to care for and uplift one another.
The rules are simple: Students and alums with a talent they wish to share can send in a video with a small bio to be featured on Instagram. The video can’t be over two minutes, So far, there have been four featured performances—December WU graduate Ben Milan-Polisar, WashU Figure Skating, senior Sami Pathak and Wash. U. a cappella group Sensasians.
While very musician-heavy, the variety of talent is astounding. Milan-Polisar sang a portion of “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys while providing his own accompaniment on the piano, while Pathak can be seen rocking out on his guitar to Van Halen’s electrifying song “Eruption.” The Sensasians performed a stunning mashup of “Rise Up” by Andra Day and “Our Story” by Taiwanese R&B group Tension, with senior member Mackenzie Cappelle as the soloist.
The submission by WashU Figure Skating features three skaters, juniors Naomi Michael and Stephanie Achoa incoming freshman Sophie Paradi. According to the post, Paradi “is excited to begin her studies this fall and hopes to compete” alongside the team.
All of the videos can be seen on Instagram and are a comforting reminder of the immense talent that the Wash.U. community possesses. Although we’re apart and the on-campus experience was cut short for the semester, WashU’s Got Talent pushes us to see the good. We may be miles away from campus and each other, but we are a community that rallies around one another and supports each other no matter what, whether it be volunteering or admiring the many talents of our peers, we are still #WashUtogether.
WashU’s Got Talent is still accepting submissions. They can be emailed to or they can be sent in via direct message on the official University Instagram page.”

Sustainability in the age of social distancing: WU’s Earth Day EcoChallenge
by Student Life
Apr 22, 2020
“Although we may think of April as our first full month of social distancing, there’s something else—that’s much more exciting—happening this month: Earth Day. Today, Wednesday, April 22, is actually the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and to celebrate, the Office of Sustainability has created a team for a virtual 30-day Earth Day EcoChallenge through which members of the Washington University community can commemorate Earth Day and practice sustainable habits from afar.
The EcoChallenge , an online alternative to the previously planned Wash. U. Earth Week, consists of numerous options for participants to decrease their carbon footprint at home. Tasks include cutting down on food waste, managing screen time and decreasing meat consumption. Wash. U.’s team has 86 members so far, and the team is currently ranked no. 12 out of 645 teams.
Clara Steyer, the Office of Sustainability’s Sustainability Coordinator, wrote in a statement to Student Life that the challenge is “a fun, easy, and social” way to stay engaged during Earth Month, and the actions included in it are “specially tailored to the new reality of confinement and social distancing.”
Kate Koenig, a Database Assistant at the Washington University Physician Network, decided to join the challenge to learn more information about climate change and to try small ways to reduce her family’s plastic usage. Koenig said she appreciates the “awareness and the information” she’s been able to gain from the EcoChallenge, and she’s even gotten her family involved in it.
“We’ve kind of turned it into a little bit of a family thing, and my daughter is super excited about Earth Day today. It’s been a nice distraction from everything else that’s been going on,” Koenig said.
Earth Day’s history is rooted in advocacy and activism, but it may feel hard to do those things during quarantine. However, Steyer made it clear that there are plenty of ways to organize from your own home.
“Signing petitions, emailing, writing or calling public officials or companies to advocate for planet-friendly and environmentally just policies are still things we can do from our homes. In addition, the Friday for Future climate strikes have shifted online, and the Sunrise School offers online trainings specifically on the topic of climate organizing during the pandemic,” Steyer wrote.
This is a very turbulent time, but doing our part for the environment can help us feel at least some sense of stability. The impacts of climate change have steadily been increasing, and whether or not you decide to do the EcoChallenge, it’s always good to be conscious of your carbon footprint.
It’s pretty easy to be eco-friendly at Wash. U. because sustainable options are so accessible; there is widespread access to recycling and compost bins, and both Bear’s Den and the Danforth University Center offer vegetarian and vegan options. Still, Steyer noted that many environmentally-friendly practices are also more feasible.
“The good news is a lot of the habits you can take to reduce your footprint are also beneficial for your wallet, and your health,” Steyer wrote. “…Swapping traditional light bulbs for LEDs will ultimately reduce your utility costs. Buying used instead of new is also both more affordable and sustainable. The examples are countless!”
The Earth Day EcoChallenge will be running until the end of the month, and every time you complete an action you’ll add more points to Wash. U.’s team total. And although the first of the month has passed already, you can still backlog actions from up to four days ago, and it’ll be a great way to jumpstart your eco-conscious quarantine.”

Future of the fall semester remains uncertain
by Student Life
Apr 16, 2020
“As students register for fall 2020 courses without knowing whether they will take place on campus or online, Washington University administrators are deciding whether to return to in-person instruction, continue distance learning or find a different solution altogether.
Grace Bruton | Student Life
Chancellor Andrew Martin is leading a Fall Contingency Planning Committee composed of key University leaders to make decisions about the upcoming semester, in conjunction with the recommendations of infectious disease experts at the School of Medicine.
“We’re all hopeful for a return to ‘normal’ operations on campus and in our community, and looking forward to a time when we can be together again,” Martin wrote in a statement to Student Life. “When that might happen is obviously impossible to predict, but we’re taking steps to plan for our path forward.”
Several administrators emphasized the fact that no decision has yet been made.
“We are just beginning the process of thinking through what the fall semester may look like,” Interim Provost Marion Crain wrote in a statement to Student Life.
“As of today, we’re still planning for the fall semester to happen as scheduled, but obviously across the country the situation is fluid and we don’t have a lot of certainty—in fact, in St. Louis County, the stay-at-home order has been extended indefinitely—so we don’t have enough information to make our firm decision today,” Dean of Students Rob Wild said.
The committee’s first task will be to establish a date by which they will make and announce a final decision regarding the fall semester.
“I think there will need to be a decision in the next six to eight weeks, probably,” Dean of Sam Fox Carmon Colangelo said. “People want clarity sooner, but it’s making a quick decision versus making the right decision—I think it’s gonna take a little time and a little more information about how things are going in the country and in the world.”
Several options are being considered in light of public health recommendations and the decisions of peer institutions.
“[The University is] considering continuing online, they’re considering pushing back the start of school just a few months—which would mean school starts in November and the semester runs a bit longer—and a third option that was floated was a postponement even further than that,” Student Union President Ranen Miao said. “Obviously, none of those are ideal… but there are a lot of public health considerations.”
A recent survey of undergraduate institutions indicated that more than half were considering or had already decided to remain fully online for the fall 2020 semester.
Colangelo, who is on the Fall Contingency Planning Committee, said he wanted to hear rationales for each potential scenario, but pointed out that incoming international students may not be able to get visas in time to begin the semester in person.
“Some portion of our classes will stay online, in my view, because we have to consider the international students,” Colangelo said. “I just don’t think we’re all going to be able to come back in August.”
Some students have asked if there will be an online option in the event that campus opens but they do not yet feel safe returning, Colangelo added.
However, other students expressed frustration at the prospect of another semester online.
“After experiencing distance learning for the past several weeks, most students I’ve talked to would not hesitate to take a gap semester if courses were to be online again in the fall,” sophomore Olivia Schotz said. “At no fault of any party, the experience just isn’t the same as in-person classes, and we’d rather graduate slightly later than try to push through this forced system.”
Although the COVID-19 frequently asked questions page for admitted students claims that the University’s ability to offer remote instruction has been proven “by making this transition successfully during the spring semester,” Schotz disagreed.
“My course load has tripled with the projects and assignments that were pushed back by the extra week of spring break, and many of my professors now require us to watch long video lectures in addition to virtually attending class,” Schotz said. “It seems as though professors no longer respect my time because I’m at home. For example, since there’s no more pressure from the ten minute rule, my classes frequently go over time, meaning that I get no break from sitting and staring at my screen. These online courses aren’t sustainable.”
Universities nationwide, already struggling financially, have raised concerns about the economic impact of low enrollment in the fall from both incoming freshmen and returning students.
“Students are free to choose what they would like to do,” Wild said. “We’ve heard from many students who have shared with us that their preference is in-person education, and so is ours, but the reality is we may not be able to do that in the fall depending on how the situation unfolds, so we’re planning for every eventuality. If some students chose not to enroll in online instruction, we would be ready for that.”
Adding to the financial complications, many students have concerns about whether or not an online semester is worth paying the same tuition as an in-person semester. The University is planning to evaluate its tuition model based on the type of instruction being offered, according to Wild.
“To be very clear, there are still costs associated with doing online instruction—paying the faculty, the staff that helps support the faculty, libraries, those kinds of things—but we are very aware that there will be questions about tuition if we are in an online environment in the fall,” Wild said.
Distance learning in the fall would have one major advantage over distance learning in the spring, in that instructors would have a few months to evaluate the structure and content of their digital courses, instead of just a few days.
“It’s one thing to respond the way we did to having to finish out classes online,” Colangelo said. “Now we have to think about what happens if we start new classes—should we be actually changing the content because we have to deliver it differently? Should we have different classes? How quickly can we change that?”
Even in the best case scenario, the upcoming fall semester will likely be quite different from the ones preceding it.
“Everything’s on the table,” Wild said. “Universities are places that traditionally operate with people together sharing space, whether it’s space in a residence hall or at large events or in large lecture classes, so one of our focuses is going to be how we might be flexible as we think through what the fall semester looks like.”
“We’re making sure that expectations don’t just fall into the same old, because it isn’t the same,” Colangelo said. “We just have to try to figure out how to work with the students and accommodate what they’re experiencing. “
Before students can safely be allowed back on campus, COVID-19 testing must be expanded and prioritized, according to Executive Director of the Habif Health and Wellness Center Dr. Cheri LeBlanc. Rapid diagnostic tests should be widely available in order to swiftly identify and isolate newly infected individuals as well as anyone they may have come into contact with.
Alongside this increased testing, there will need to be adequate spaces on or around campus to isolate cases and quarantine contacts.
“We will need close collaboration with our infectious disease experts and colleagues at the medical school to continue to look after new cases that require hospitalization as well as our local public health department to help notify contacts,” LeBlanc wrote in a statement to Student Life. “The number of cases in St. Louis will impact their ability to treat and help manage our patients here at [Wash. U.].”
The number of new COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis metro area appears to be decreasing as of April 21. However, in spite of expert warnings that this trend may reverse if social distancing restrictions are lifted too soon, Missouri Governor Mike Parson has indicated that he is sympathetic to the protesters—including a small group in Clayton—clamoring for the state to be reopened immediately.
“This rapidly evolving situation makes decision making difficult,” LeBlanc wrote. “One wants to be sure to make thoughtful, informed decisions based on the best information available at the time.”
In the face of so much uncertainty, University administrators expressed their sympathy for students struggling to plan for the future.
“None of us have ever been through anything like this before,” Wild said. “We know that this is painful, and so our goal is to make sure we can return Wash. U. to the way that it was in a way that’s safe for our community.”
“We will provide an update as soon as we have information to share,” Martin wrote.”

Gaur ’21 and Lee ’20: UFB’s pandemic response fails our communities
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 01, 2020
“Following Brown’s closure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 16 Brown student organizations called on the Undergraduate Finance Board to donate unused funds from these organizations’ annual budgets to mutual aid efforts to support members of both the Brown and Rhode Island communities. On May 20, outgoing UFB Chair Julian De Georgia ’20 wrote an op-ed explaining why UFB would not allow student organizations to access their unused funds. De Georgia’s response was incomplete, misconstruing important facets of the student organizations’ requests and ignoring important context regarding UFB’s operations. As student leaders of Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere — one of the University’s largest community-engaged organizations — we believe it necessary for us to respond and set the record straight.
We acknowledge the unique position UFB finds itself in: As an organization whose decision-making is, in normal times, determined by strict adherence to policy and precedent, this pandemic presents new challenges. In addition, we appreciate and celebrate the important efforts made by the current UFB leadership to increase transparency in the body’s dealings. We continue, however, to advocate for change not because we see UFB members as callous and unconcerned individuals, as De Georgia suggests, but because — just like De Georgia and his colleagues — we believe that UFB can and must better serve our community. Improving accountability within the Brown student body means calling one another out when our actions fall short of our intentions, no matter how good those intentions may be. And UFB’s actions, despite great progress, continue to fall short of the responsibility that the Brown student body entrusts in the organization during these unprecedented times.
The burden of COVID-19 has not been shouldered equally; the pandemic has revealed the deep inequities embedded within both the Providence and Brown communities. In requesting that UFB allow our student organizations to donate our unused funds, we requested an exemption to help aid those community members most vulnerable to the virus and its social and economic fallout.
Within the greater Providence community, we sought to donate to community partners who are serving housing-insecure and low-income communities, those most threatened by a virus spread through contact. Many vulnerable communities in Providence and Rhode Island benefit greatly from the services provided by student-run, community-engaged organizations. We have already seen specific gaps left by the lack of Brown students’ involvement in these crucial community-engaged activities. Because of the pandemic, Providence community members experiencing homelessness are no longer served by the nighttime outreach conducted by HOPE. Students at William D’Abate Elementary School cannot receive enriching after-school tutoring from Brown students through Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring. Brown students working through the Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Education Program can no longer provide local high schoolers the opportunity to connect with the outdoors while conducting important environmental science and justice learning.
If Brown students can’t give our time and energy to our neighbors, one of the best ways our student body can support our larger community is through financial contributions. We should continue to think creatively about supporting our community virtually, but we, as privileged members of the greater Providence community, should also embrace a responsibility to support our neighbors financially. The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated — by providing resources like food, water and shelter, this money can literally save lives.
These contributions will, we acknowledge, require an ongoing re-evaluation of the role of UFB. De Georgia cites UFB’s constitution as a barrier to donating funds to non-Brown organizations. But UFB cannot hide behind policies that were created before the full weight of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Brown and Providence communities. In the coming months, UFB must reconsider donating student organization funds to Providence community partners, given the Brown student body’s likely inability to engage with our surrounding neighbors through traditional contributions of time and effort. The current crisis reveals the importance of giving future generations of Brown students the option to contribute financially to the greater community — and UFB should amend its constitution to allow them to do so. We believe that this re-evaluation will be worth it and know it to be the responsibility of the Brown student body to our larger community in an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty.
In addition, De Georgia’s op-ed neglected to engage with another valid option for UFB: Allocate the money to Brown students who need it. In previous correspondence between UFB, HOPE and Student Activities Office administrators reviewed by The Herald, UFB articulated that while it broached that topic with the University, they collectively decided that “there wasn’t a specific unmet need” UFB could fill. This is a startling statement. As Jack Ostrovsky ’23, Jason Carroll ’21 and Samy Amkieh ’21.5 articulated in their April 30 op-ed , the University’s measures to support the community in the context of COVID-19 — including the Emergency Funds, Curricular and Co-Curricular Gap (E-Gap) Funds — are often inaccessible and insufficient. UFB, with immense flexibility and hundreds of thousands of dollars at its disposal, is uniquely suited to fill this gap.
Many of UFB’s parallels at peer institutions have set critical precedents here, as well. Washington University in St. Louis’ Student Union donated $80,000 of its student activities fees to the university’s crisis response fund. The Wesleyan University Student Assembly pledged $100,000 to a fund to support first-generation, low-income students on its campus. The Brown student body should be demanding that our peers, who serve as our elected officials, do the same. UFB must reject University leaders’ absurd assessment that there is no “unmet need” among the Brown student body.
Let’s also not allow ourselves to operate under the ludicrous assumption that UFB is financially constrained. Don’t forget that in the past 10 years, after a decade of not spending enough of its funds, UFB accidentally accrued a budget surplus of $1 million, as reported by The Herald April 9. It should be emphasized that this is not the fault of this year’s board specifically — rather, we have UFB’s push toward greater transparency to thank for this realization. But, we cannot think of a better way to relieve UFB of its unnecessarily-acquired surplus than by either returning that money to Brown students — for whom these funds would make a considerable difference — or to Providence community members who are most threatened by the ongoing pandemic.
De Georgia is right in noting that accommodating our requests today will place the UFB of tomorrow in a challenging position. But the UFB of tomorrow will find itself in uncharted territory whether we like it or not. In the semesters — or, perhaps more likely, the years — to come, UFB will need to re-evaluate how it uses its millions of dollars. Across campus, the activities of student organizations at Brown will be dramatically altered by the persistent threat of the coronavirus. Activities like club meetings, dance performances and even massive gatherings of the student body such as Spring Weekend — all funded, at least in part, by UFB — will be challenging if not impossible to execute in the years ahead. What will UFB do with the millions of dollars it is allocated to serve the Brown student body?
It’s our hope that the Brown student body will push UFB to use these funds to meaningfully address the emerging needs apparent in our community. UFB has a plethora of options at its disposal. It can allocate funds to community partners at the frontlines of the pandemic, supporting organizations financially when we can’t do so in person. Or, it can return money to Brown students dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic. Instead, UFB is trying to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to its already-overblown surplus, at a time when our community needs it most. We hope UFB will make the right decision, and use its unparalleled resources and flexibility to meet the growing needs of Brown students and Rhode Island residents.
Dhruv Gaur ’21 is one of HOPE’s co-directors, and Melissa Lee ’21 is HOPE’s outgoing Fundraising Chair. Dhruv can be reached at , and Melissa can be reached at . This op-ed was written with support from outgoing members of HOPE’s leadership team Michael Gold ’20, Will Gomberg ’20 and Nathaniel Pettit ’20. Please send responses to this opinion to and op-eds to”

Anita Sheih: Thank you, friends
by Brown Daily Herald
Jun 01, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Over the past four years, my professors taught me about the history of museums, how to read like a writer and to question who has the right to tell what stories. But after I finished my readings, submitted my essays on Canvas and closed my laptop; when I grabbed a meal at the Ratty or went to the basement of the SciLi, more often to socialize than to study, my friends had lessons to teach me too.  
My friend from chamber music taught me by example how to be both a friend and a leader. She showed such compassion every time she remembered to text me good luck on my exam days or to wish me safe travels when I went home for breaks. I am grateful for the immense care she showered me with through these small gestures.
My friend from one summer when our internships landed us in the same city taught me how to be spontaneous. Simply saying yes to adventures as they presented themselves allowed us to enjoy things outside of my Google calendar, leaving space for unexpected experiences.
My friend from Safewalk taught me about the power and beauty in meandering conversations. Throughout my four years, I could count on him and our weekly walks to offer laughs, insight and advice on all of my hardest decisions and even the occasional silly spat. His patient presence paired with his vibrant personality demonstrated what it means to be an active listener, a trustworthy confidant and a spectacular conversationalist.
My friend from the latter half of college taught me that friendship can blossom quickly and forcefully like a wildfire. She taught me that people are like Hermione’s bag and the TARDIS — bigger on the inside. In fact, her heart is endless on the inside, something she proves time and again through her unrelenting reliability and her willingness to give and help and share with no expectations in return.
My friend from a cultural club taught me how to energize a room full of people. He is always the life of the party, the driver of the group, who encourages others to participate and inspires all with his infectious enthusiasm. At the same time, his fondness for contemplative reflection revealed that I don’t have to pick between extroversion and introspection.
My friend from the same professional field taught me that it is possible to choose collaboration over competition, to want the best for others while still caring for yourself. Her desire to unconditionally support others pursuing similar career paths showed my ever more cynical eyes that pure intentions with no ulterior agenda do exist in this world.
My friend from an abroad experience halfway around the world taught me how to relax. In peak thesis season, he famously said, “I’m not in a rush,” both in terms of finishing his thesis and making his mark on the world. “We have the rest of our lives, so let’s just enjoy today.” 
My friend from day one taught me what it looks like to care so deeply about someone that you stick through thick and thin — through uproarious laughter and stress-induced breakdowns, through moments of pure delight and of sadness and fear — to be so invested in another person that their happiness brings you joy and their pains hurt you too.
My friend from Pembroke Campus taught me not to be afraid of my emotions, to validate what I’m feeling and to carry love and understanding for myself. Her constant encouragement to “live your truth” and her fearlessness in the face of conflict have pushed me and allowed me to face it too.
These are only a fraction of the lessons that I’ve learned from a fraction of the people I am lucky enough to call my friends. Others still have taught me what it means to work selflessly, tirelessly and, at times, thanklessly for a cause that we truly believe in; to pick one another up so we can continue moving forward together; to know when to pause and take a breath so we can remember why we’re here and where we’re going. 
Rather than informing me about any particular fields of study, these friends have imparted invaluable lessons on how to be a better person. Countless students, professors and alums agree that the best part of Brown is the community, and I am endlessly thankful to have been a part of it. I am thankful for having learned these lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, long after I’ve forgotten the names of the human species that preceded the Homo sapiens in the timeline of human evolution, or the exact order of the art historical movements that have led to today. Instead, I’ll remember to care, to adventure, to listen, to give, to excite, to support, to relax and to love others and myself. I’d say those are enough lessons for a lifetime. ”

Elizabeth Tran: Confidence-in-the-making
by Brown Daily Herald
May 31, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Last fall, I attended a workshop hosted by legendary public-speaking professor Barbara Tannenbaum. In the warm comfort of her home that evening, a small group of 30 students sat around her cozy living room. Besides the home-cooked pizza that she had prepared for us, each of us came in search of the answer to one of life’s greatest challenges: how to be confident. With our backs straight and our ears perked, we all eagerly awaited her wisdom. 
After a round of initial introductions, she immediately posed the question: “Does Brown promote or reduce confidence?” 
The question caught me off guard. How can a university be responsible for its students’ confidence? How can a school influence the trust that we have in our own abilities? 
I looked around the room and saw the perplexed looks on my classmates’ faces, as we all mentally shifted gears from what had been assumed to be an introspective activity to an extrospective one. 
Sensing our confusion, Professor Tannenbaum went on to explain that the true source of confidence is failure — that the only way to have confidence is to fail. She explained, “Unless you fail, you will live in constant fear of failure, and that fear will sap from your confidence.” 
So, it turns out, the question that she was really asking us was, “Does Brown promote or reduce our ability to fail?” 
I think it’s safe to say that, for many of us, the last thing we ever hoped to encounter at Brown was failure. Inside the classroom, we were eager to learn from distinguished faculty, well-regarded in their respective fields. We yearned to have our opinions challenged and our ideas questioned by peers at every turn. We looked forward to wrestling with big questions, like “How do we eliminate income inequality?” or “How do we combat climate change?” 
Outside the classroom, we were excited to take part in a host of beloved Brown traditions. Curiosity about how fire could float on top of water, and what about this spectacle consistently attracts so many people, brought us to the river’s edge to witness our first ever WaterFire. All-nighters studying at the SciLi or a late night out with friends brought us to Louis’ colorful tables at 5 in the morning. And the thrill of dancing to live music beneath the stars brought us to Pembroke Field for A Night on College Hill. Whether it was making it out for Whiskey Wednesdays and GCB Thursdays, or scoring a free donut from the Naked Donut Run, there were many experiences that we hoped to share at Brown. 
Failure, on the other hand, was probably not high on any of our to-do lists.
Nonetheless, we all likely found ourselves grappling with failure at some point in our Brown experience. Maybe failure was being rejected from that internship or research opportunity that we really wanted. Perhaps it was not being selected for a student organization or a team that we desperately wanted to join. Or maybe it was constantly missing our 9 A.M. class with no Lecture Capture. 
For me, failure was wasting the valuable opportunity of getting to attend Brown. I approached my first year at Brown with immense gratitude. I was grateful that Brown saw some potential in me that was worth cultivating. I was grateful that, within one generation, the daughter of two Vietnamese refugees could ascend to the Ivory Tower. I was grateful that, one day, I would be able to walk up to my parents in a cap and gown as a college graduate and say, “This is all because of you.” Throughout my first year, this sense of gratitude led me to be terrified of failure. I was scared of making any mistake that would make it seem like I didn’t deserve to be at Brown or that I didn’t belong here. 
This fear of failure silenced my voice in class discussions. I remember walking home every Monday night after my first-year seminar, disappointed in myself for not having spoken up. Every week, I sat and listened for two and a half hours to my classmates’ thought-provoking and scholarly answers to our professor’s discussion questions. Even the simple thought of raising my hand made my heart race. 
For most of that semester, I lived in constant fear of failure. Gradually, that fear drained my confidence and made me question my place at Brown. 
In the last month of that semester, I got the advice from another student to raise my hand at the start of class. I could come into class with one prepared comment to say, and then sit back and listen for the rest of the seminar. It was a baby step. It helped to build my confidence, knowing that, if I said the wrong thing or made a mistake, people would likely forget about it by the end of the class period. Slowly, I gained more confidence in sharing my thoughts in the classroom. 
Professor Tannenbaum was right. It turned out that my fear of failing was the very cause of what I defined as failure — wasting my Brown education. I challenge us all to think about a time when we felt like we failed at Brown. 
In retrospect, whatever we might have experienced and considered as failure at the time may have turned out to be something quite different. Perhaps those examples of perceived failure were instances of confidence-in-the-making. Even if in those moments it seemed like our self-confidence was waning, Brown’s confidence in us never did. Brown never lost its confidence in our ability to chart our own academic pathways, to choose our own grade options, to shop courses and know which ones align with our unique goals, and to decide until reading period if a class maybe just wasn’t for us. The Open Curriculum is Brown’s ultimate show of confidence in our intellectual abilities and decision-making capacity as students. 
Here at Brown, failure is not merely accepted; it’s encouraged. Why? Because Brown’s ethos of self-exploration recognizes that failure is a catalyst for confidence and growth in a way that success alone cannot foster. 
As we prepare for the world beyond the Van Wickle Gates, I urge us to welcome failure with open arms. These past four years have been an experiment in confidence building, by teaching us to trust our instincts and to have faith in our ability to discern a path forward. 
Be confident, Class of 2020. May we stay ever true — to the spirit of Brown, to the good in the world and, above all, to ourselves.”

Brown transitions 11 varsity teams to club status
by Brown Daily Herald
May 29, 2020
“This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The University will transition 11 varsity teams — men and women’s fencing, men and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s track, field and cross country — to club status, effective immediately, according to a community-wide email sent today from President Christina Paxson P’19. Additionally, club coed sailing and club women’s sailing will transition to varsity status, for a net reduction of nine varsity teams, from 38 to 29. 
In spite of the cut, the University will maintain the current operational budget for athletics, and funds will be allocated “strategically” throughout the Department of Athletics. “The smaller number of varsity teams also will support stronger recruiting in the admissions process, allowing for deeper talent on each team,” Paxson wrote. 
Students who have already been recruited to varsity teams no longer on the roster will be invited to “live Zoom sessions with Athletics staff, colleagues in the College and other support staff to have their questions answered and learn more about their options,” including the potential of transferring to another institution, Paxson wrote. “Brown is also committed to supporting our coaches in this transition.”
The large-scale cut comes as part of the new Excellence in Brown Athletics initiative to strengthen both club sports and the competitiveness of varsity sports, as well as maintain the University’s “commitment to provide equal opportunities in athletics for women and men at Brown.” The reduction in varsity teams “is not a measure to reduce budget or an effort to contend with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Paxson specified.
In the email, Paxson outlined four different courses of action which will advance the goals of the initiative: “Revise the University’s roster of varsity sports teams; enhance club sports teams and add several new ones; focus on recruitment of outstanding student-athletes and on maintaining roster sizes that build competitiveness; advance coaching, training and conditioning resources; and continue improvements to athletic facilities,” according to a University press release. Paxson also noted that the change will mean “the percentage of varsity athletic participation opportunities for women will increase” to be more proportionally consistent with the percentage of women among University undergraduates.
The initiative follows an external review of the Athletics Department conducted in the 2018-2019 academic year, which concluded that “the high number of varsity sports at Brown was a barrier to competitiveness,” according to the press release. 
After the review, President Christina Paxson P’19 appointed a Committee on Excellence in Athletics in January 2020 to make recommendations in the best interest of student-athletes and the Athletics Department. The ultimate decision was the result of a “thorough, data-driven review,” she wrote. ”

Inside the decisions that moved Brown online
by Brown Daily Herald
May 29, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
President Christina Paxson P’19 jolted awake one early morning in March with a grim realization. She would send an email to her students days later, instructing most of them to pack up their lives and leave College Hill.
“I’m usually somebody who has no trouble sleeping as long as I want to, and I woke up at four in the morning and it was just like, we have to move our students out,” Paxson said in a May 21 interview with The Herald, reflecting on the moment she knew that her leadership team would have to cancel on-campus learning and send most students home.
“This whole time period feels a little bit like driving through a thick fog.” 
The University’s senior team would meet in the morning of March 9, an unseasonably warm day in Providence, and officially decide to limit campus operations in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. That meeting marked the end of weeks of back and forth as University leaders struggled to decide how to best proceed with the pandemic quickly unfolding around them. It also marked the beginning of a scramble to figure out how the University could help students and employees upend their lives while simultaneously developing an unprecedented online schooling operation.  
“This whole time period feels a little bit like driving through a thick fog,” Paxson said. “You know that there are obstacles out there and you know that there are things you have to do, but (you are) trying to figure out how to do it.” 
As many undergraduates quickly moved out of their dorms and prepared for a new style of learning, administrators were engaged in an intense decision-making process behind the scenes. University leaders interviewed by The Herald provided new details describing how they made the choices that ended on-campus learning, emphasizing the institution-wide collaboration that developed as they managed evolving circumstances.
Bilal Ismail Ahmed / Herald
Students sit on the steps outside of the Steven Robert ’62 Campus Center on March 12, the day it was announced that classes would be canceled and classes would resume remotely. Two weeks later, campus had emptied.
Preparing for ‘the unlikely event of a disruption to normal University operations’ 
Although the University’s crisis response efforts escalated in mid-March, the University’s Core Crisis Committee was thinking about the novel coronavirus by late January.
The Core Crisis Committee, which makes recommendations about decisions such as canceling large events, convenes to coordinate and oversee the University’s response to emergencies . It holds some regular meetings, but its members began to meet specifically about  the coronavirus early in the semester , according to Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy and the committee’s chair. Team members include representatives from the Division of Campus Life, the Department of Public Safety and the Office of the Provost, Carey said, though membership is meant to adjust based on what the situation demands. Ultimate decision-making power formally lies in the Policy Committee, which Paxson chairs.
Carey sent the first community-wide communication about the coronavirus Feb. 1, stating that the Core Crisis Committee was monitoring the situation. At that time, the committee did not anticipate that a near-complete shutdown of campus would occur by mid-March. 
“ I would say it was too early for what I would describe as long-term plans,” Carey said. “Particularly at that stage, it was not thinking about closing or having to go to remote operations or anything like that.”
In February, the Core Crisis Committee and other administrators began to address study abroad programs. They started to call for students’ return from hard-hit areas, formally canceling the Brown in Bologna program Feb. 28 . The University employed existing policies to determine when programs should shut down based on factors including World Health Organization and State Department ratings. 
As the coronavirus spread in Europe, administrators considered its potential to disrupt life on College Hill. By late February, the University’s Policy Committee began to meet more regularly to discuss the coronavirus, recalled Provost Richard Locke P’18. 
“We were already telling faculty, look, you should be prepared, if we have to, to move your classes online or remote because we’re seeing what’s going on in Europe, we’re seeing what’s going on in other parts of the country,” Locke said. 
At that point, the University had not yet halted non-essential domestic travel . Locke recalled “wiping down chairs and washing my hands repeatedly” in the Los Angeles International Airport in late winter, where he was traveling back from a trip for Brown.
The second campus-wide communication about the coronavirus would come on Feb. 29, encouraging heightened vigilance for students planning to leave campus for spring break or any other time in the coming months . The email explained that contingency planning was in place “to prepare for the unlikely event of a disruption to normal University operations.”
Behind closed doors on the final days on campus
In early March, campus leaders focused on instituting a response as the novel coronavirus spread through the United States. The University canceled in-person admitted students days and restricted events with 100 or more attendees . The Ivy League presidents canceled spring athletic practices and competition.
The University communicated regularly with the Rhode Island government, which had created its own committee to address the growing health crisis. University administrators continue to talk with state officials. For instance, Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Executive Director of Health and Wellness Vanessa Britto speaks with representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
“Things were happening asynchronously.” 
University leaders also communicated with members of other colleges and universities. The administration began to pay attention to the responses of the University of Washington and Stanford University early on, Carey said. As the pandemic progressed, the University communicated with other administrators in the Ivy League and Ivy Plus communities and shared information with colleagues at the Rhode Island School of Design and other colleges in the state. 
“At every layer, people were talking to their counterparts just so we could be like-minded and learn from each other and at times collaborate, but we were on different academic calendars,” Britto said. “Things were happening asynchronously.” 
In the afternoon of March 9, just hours after senior leaders at Brown made their decision, Gov. Gina Raimondo declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island . At that point, University leadership knew that on-campus learning would soon cease, but students waited anxiously for an update about whether they would finish the semester on College Hill..
“We were getting a lot of questions from students saying like, ‘we know you’re going to make us leave, why don’t you just tell us?’” Paxson said. “But we didn’t want to make that announcement until we had all the support and resources in place for students.”
Before alerting students that campus would close, University leaders wanted to form a team that could quickly respond to students’ many questions concerning move-out, and make plans to offer financial support and other resources. 
Paxson said that her senior team debated the question of announcing the decision earlier. “I think in the end we kind of hit it right,” she said. 
From early in the crisis response, the Office of University Communications worked to provide information to the community while managing rapidly changing circumstances.
“Sometimes that’s the most certainty that you can have in an uncertain situation,” said Vice President for Communications Cass Cliatt. “The certainty that you will be communicated with, the certainty that information will be provided to you, the certainty that there will be transparency around decisions that are being made.”
To make sure messaging remained consistent, accurate and in line with University values, a group led by Cliatt began to review and align all communications related to the coronavirus. “Any communication that was going to the campus had multiple eyes” from areas including communications, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the General Counsel, Cliatt said.
In addition to sending messages to students, the University also needed to communicate with employees. The University had maintained the employment of full-time and regular staff members as of earlier this month, and seasonal and intermittent workers were terminated in April, The Herald previously reported .
On the night before the student body was informed, William Zhou ’20 and Jason Carroll ’21, then president and vice president of the Undergraduate Council of Students, heard from Campus Life that Brown would be transitioning to remote learning.
“I think in the end we kind of hit it right.” 
“We provided feedback on after that decision was made, what was the best way to communicate it, what was the best way to support students through it,” Zhou said. “It was definitely a really hard and stressful time … but I’m really thankful that overall (the administration) was doing what they could to keep us in the loop and getting our input.” 
With the sudden move out, Paxson acknowledged that “from a student’s perspective, there were probably times where it felt like they needed more support, certainly, but people were really just working 24/7.”
On the morning of March 12 , students received the email first notifying them that dorms would soon close to most students. By March 17, almost everyone living on campus had moved elsewhere. Less than two weeks later, classes resumed online.
Bilal Ismail Ahmed / Herald
Students walk through Wayland Arch on March 12, carrying moving boxes. Weeks later, Wriston quad was quiet.
What comes next?
On Saturday, March 14, two days after Paxson informed students that University residences would largely close, the University announced a positive coronavirus case in the community and worried that possible travel restrictions could inhibit students’ ability to leave campus. The deadline to move out changed from March 22 to March 17.
The previous day, Cliatt received flowers as a thank you for some of her work in the previous weeks, and she decided to leave them in the office for the weekend. The next day, the University would also announce that most staff would be required to work remotely .
“I haven’t returned to my office since that Friday,” she said. “Those flowers I’m sure are still there, except wilted.”
The University has yet to announce whether students will return to campus next fall. In an April 26 op-ed in the New York Times , Paxson made the case for reopening college campuses in the fall under certain circumstances. The University is considering proposals for a full return to campus, a division of the year into three semesters or a fully remote fall semester, The Herald previously reported .
Some increased communication across peer institutions has also continued as Brown plans for the fall. Provosts within the Ivy Plus consortium usually convene twice a year for two-day meetings, but lately they’ve been talking on Zoom every week. Topics they discuss include reopening, testing and remote learning. 
“Those flowers I’m sure are still there, except wilted.”
“We shouldn’t be competing on this. We should just be sharing best practices and knowledge,” Locke said. “Having that support group has been really wonderful.”
Locke lost his mother-in-law to the coronavirus in early April, soon after his own mother passed away. While practicing social distancing at the funeral, he was unable to hug his loved ones. 
“It came to me personally how serious this was,” Locke said. “Protecting the health and safety of the members of our community had to be the number one goal.””

Dispersed across globe, Brown community finds connection through ‘Dank Stash of Memes’
by Brown Daily Herald
May 28, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Richard Bungiro PhD’99, senior lecturer in molecular microbiology and immunology, structures his course BIOL 0530: “Principles of Immunology” around pop culture themes. He challenges students to untangle the hypothetical immunological functions of a Terminator or a dragon. He has an antibody tattooed on his wrist. And he makes memes, which he posts on a Facebook page frequented by hundreds of his current and former students.
“What’s your favorite administrative euphemism for ‘global pandemic?’” Bungiro asked in one of his recent posts. “These trying times. These difficult times. These uncertain times. These challenging times. Protect the endowment at all times.” 
He posted the meme to “Brown Dank Stash of Memes for S/NC Teens,” a Facebook page where over 20,000 members upload and interact with Brown-related meme content. Over the past four years, the page has become a cultural touchstone for students at Brown. Now, with campus closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meme page has helped recreate community for students isolated in their homes. The memes themselves have become a form of communication, of transmitting meaning, that is uniquely suited to the digital existence the Brown community has adopted.
“I think people really want to feel like they’re part of a community,” Bungiro said. “Being on that page and some of the other ones, I think it’s a way for people to retain a little piece of what we’re all missing so much right now.”
Memes emerged as a cultural phenomenon in the early 2000s, taking the internet and college campuses alike by storm. The word “meme” was coined to describe elements of culture that propagate through society, particularly through imitation, and are stuck easily to humorous images created and shared through the internet. 
“Right now this is one of the only public forums that Brown students have as a community,” said Lucy Duda ’20, a senior administrator of the page as well as a moderator of “The Ivy League Meme Consortium,” a similar Facebook page with over 100,000 members focused on Ivy League content. “We’ve really tried to make the meme page a space for public discourse in the community and a way for people to find common ground and bond over how terrible a lot of things have been.”
Duda became a moderator of Brown’s meme page in the fall of 2016, when the page only had a few hundred members. She has seen it grow ever since. In honor of the page hitting 20,000 members, Duda recently made a new cover photo reading “Brown Digital Space Main Green.” 
Throughout the quarantine, memes have poked fun at decisions from the University administration and questioned, often sarcastically, whether students will return to campus this fall. There has also been an influx of more comical content, such as a group of cel-shaded bears dancing to Smash Mouth. Beneath those boogying bears and agitated students lie hundreds of comments of friends tagging each other and reaching out, despite distance and uncertainty, hoping to make each other laugh. 
“The undertone is very much that things suck, but we can do this,” said Elliott Lehrer ’21, who has posted memes since he was accepted to Brown three years ago. 
Hannah Kierszenbaum ’20, who spent her senior spring on College Hill with a few friends, said the meme page has helped keep her connected to the greater Brown community. “I relate to it and look at it more now that we’re in quarantine,” she said. “It is a subpar situation for everybody so it’s cathartic to know that other people are also struggling.”
These memes will endure beyond the pandemic. Researchers at the University are archiving them at the request of the administrative team behind Brown Dank Stash of Memes for S/NC Teens. Nationally, the Library of Congress is doing the same for other meme content. 
John Fenn, contributor to the Library of Congress’ web archive and head of research and programs at the American Folklife Center, emphasized the communal power of this form of communication, which he defines as “narrative, visual communication, contemporary humor that arises out of a collective sense of something, even if it’s not a collective experience.” 
“It’s a fascinating kind of archaeology,” Fenn said. “It’s the archeology of right now.”
Andrew Majcher, head of digital services and records management in the John Hay Library, agreed with Fenn. 
“Especially with the way the COVID crisis has been going, it’s one of the more poignant ways we can gauge how the student body is feeling about what’s going on,” Majcher said. 
Majcher added that the meme page, along with other pages like “Poems from a University Quarantine,” might be included in a future University library project on digital documentation of the pandemic.
The lasting impact of the meme page has come as a surprise for Dylan Garcia ’20, who co-founded the meme group four years ago. 
“At the beginning, I thought it was just going to be general memes,” Garcia said, who thought that around 2,000 members would join, one-tenth of its current following. He didn’t know that the page would end up “putting a voice on some issues.”
The typical end of the year atop College Hill is Spring Weekend, packed libraries, finals and a stately procession through the Van Wickle Gates. Not this year; no crowded moshes, no late nights in the Rock and Commencement was a half-hour online. Bungiro captured that transition and his feelings toward the community in a meme, composed of a photo of the gates above a photo of his orange couch at home. 
“ Not much snark or spicy in this meme, my friends — just sincere gratitude for the students of Brown,” the caption reads. “You matter, and you constantly remind me why it matters.””

‘We’re just really hurting right now’: Student athletes express disappointment, anger with sudden varsity sports cuts
by Brown Daily Herald
May 28, 2020
“At around 12 p.m. EST Thursday, Jacob Good ’22, a member of the squash team, received an email from the Athletics Department inviting him and all student-athletes to an unanticipated Zoom call later that afternoon. An hour later, Good and his fellow teammates were no longer members of a varsity team. Along with 10 other sports, squash was being transitioned from varsity to club status, effective immediately. 
Good and his teammates — including his coach — had not been told about the transition before the Zoom call. The news came as a shock. “We’re just really hurting right now,” Good said. 
The University announced that 11 varsity sports teams — men and women’s fencing, men and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s track, field and cross country — would be transitioned to the club level as part of the new Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative. Two club sports, coed sailing and women’s sailing, will move to the varsity roster.
Six student athletes interviewed by The Herald expressed confusion and anger at the abrupt termination of varsity athletic careers at Brown, either for themselves or for their peers if their own team was not demoted from varsity. 
Madison McCarthy ’23, a member of the women’s ski team, initially expected that, at worst, the University was cutting funding or canceling the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But by the time she entered the Zoom call, Director of Athletics Jack Hayes had already announced the news and she missed it. McCarthy was left to find out that her team had been cut at the same time as the rest of the Brown community, when an email was sent by Christina Paxson P’19 later in the afternoon. 
Naomi Shammash ’22, a member of the women’s squash team, viewed the decision as disrespectful to the work that she and her teammates have put into their sport — undermining their achievements not only as athletes, but as students. Shammash said that the squash team in particular has been recognized for maintaining high GPAs over the course of their careers as athletes.
“This is not about excellence,” Shammash said. “This is about putting funds and putting effort into underperforming teams,” referring to some teams which have consistently low win percentages but have maintained a slot on the varsity roster. 
Derek Davey ’22, a member of the track and field team, echoed the feelings of shock and confusion expressed by Good and Shammash at the news of the roster change.
Track and field does not require expensive training or equipment — unlike some other sports which remain on the varsity roster — leading to a greater diversity of athletes on the team, Davey said. “It’s wild that such a sport wasn’t seen as one that matches Brown’s diversity efforts moving forward,” he added. 
Davey anticipates that students considering the University for athletics, including for teams not among the 11 demoted to club level, may not attend Brown as a result of this decision. “It’s really hard to want to go to a university where athletics isn’t viewed as something of a priority,” Davey said. 
Announcing the initiative and varsity cuts, Paxson wrote that having such a large varsity roster has prevented Brown from reaching some of the athletic program’s aspirations. She also listed the goals of the initiative as, “ improving the competitiveness of our varsity athletics, enhancing the strength of our club sports, and upholding our commitment to provide equal opportunities in athletics for women and men at Brown.”
Although Davey doesn’t know what his fall semester will look like, or whether or not he will run for club track and field, he said he will value the “camaraderie” of his team nonetheless.
Women’s cross country and track and field Captain Gracie Whelan ’21 was also disappointed at the news. Although her team was not cut from the varsity roster, she noted that losing the men’s cross country and track and field teams is like losing “half of the team,” given how tight-knit the two squads are in training. 
Transferring to other institutions could be an option for some students who’d like to pursue varsity college athletic careers. 
“A major focus of our work this summer will be to provide assistance in counseling students about their options,” Paxson wrote in the email announcing the roster change, whether they choose to stay at Brown or transfer elsewhere.
But it was not immediately clear to some students if that would be possible at this stage, as some sports transfer deadlines have passed. 
Captain of the cross country and track and field team Bretram Rogers ’21 said his teammates had already missed their deadline to transfer elsewhere to play their sport on a varsity level.
Rogers chose Brown because it doesn’t give out sports scholarships and there would be no chance of his finances changing because of a change in sports funding. But with his varsity team now cut from the roster, he said, “I’m heartbroken. I’ve completely lost a sense of my identity.”
While some may choose to leave Brown, Maximo Moyer ’21, a member of the squash team, said that he expected his team — along with the other cut teams — will advocate for maintaining their status as a varsity sport.
Whelan echoed Moyer’s desire to attempt a repeal of the decision.
“We were in shock for a few minutes before every group chat started to explode with ideas about how we can work to reverse this,” she said.
Both the men and women’s track team are “trying to focus on action instead of being really upset,” she added. “But of course we’re still really upset. We were all on a Zoom call today — everyone was in tears.”
McCarthy felt that the decision to cut teams from the varsity roster contradicts the proposed mission of the Excellence in Brown Athletics initiative when many of the teams moved down to the club level had strong records.
At a Zoom news briefing Thursday afternoon on the initiative, Paxson said the decision making process, which was more than a year in the making, was “a little more nuanced” than looking at teams’ winning percentages. Additional considerations included facilities issues, community support and history of success, among other factors.
“It just doesn’t match up with their decision making,” McCarthy said. “Brown values integrity in their athletes. They have not shown any integrity with what they have done this afternoon.”
“I know it’s going to be difficult for students and members of our community who see their favorite teams transition to club status,” Paxson said. “I know it’s very hard. We’re committed to honoring their history, supporting our students as best as we can.””

Priyanka Podugu: What grief taught me about compassion
by Brown Daily Herald
May 28, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
A couple days before classes started last fall, I learned that my grandmother was dying. She was the oldest member of my family, but we did not expect such a rapid decline in her health. With one phone call, my family suddenly faced the daunting task of transplanting ourselves in under 24 hours from the United States to India, where we would say goodbye. I can barely recall packing for this last minute trip, nor can I really remember the journey I took from Providence to New York to board my flight. But, whenever I reflect on this intense moment in my life — the first time I experienced familial loss in recent memory — I always remember the generosity that people extended to my family and me with sharp clarity. 
My housemates who insisted that I text them once I reached my grandma; my friend who offered to drive me from Providence to New York after she watched me desperately search for affordable train tickets; the personnel who agreed to delay our flight’s takeoff time by 15 minutes as my family struggled to reach the airport; the people who stood aside in the excruciatingly long security line when they saw my family full of pain. These moments might look insignificantly small, or transient even, in the context of an event as heavy as my grandmother’s nearing death. But because my family faced a crisis where literally every second mattered, these acts of compassion and care helped us feel less alone in our grief. 
Right now, a high demand exists for the generosity and compassion that my family and I received during our time of need. The United States continues to move through an unprecedented economic and public health crisis that has forcefully exposed a national failure to safeguard the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable among us. With over 100,000 dead , my home has suffered more casualties from the coronavirus than any other country in the world. Over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the onset of the pandemic, and social distancing measures have disproportionately burdened low-income, non-white communities with the task of exposing themselves to the virus for their “essential work.” In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago and after the beginning of widespread social distancing, nearly two-thirds of Americans reported feeling “nervous, depressed, lonely or hopeless” over the course of just one week. Ideally, every person should be guaranteed to receive the same support and care that my family felt when we needed those two things the most, but reality suggests otherwise. 
College graduates everywhere understand that graduating in a pandemic means facing discouraging and unexpected challenges both in their careers and personal lives. For many members of my class, graduation now marks the assumption of a serious responsibility not just to provide for themselves, but for their families as well. Others must navigate the emotional gymnastics of celebrating a personal accomplishment while still grieving the absence of loved ones and family members. With everything in such free fall, the act of leaving behind the security and stability of college feels especially unfair.
We have been so profoundly lucky to be members of a community like Brown, where compassionate care defines student culture. During my four years on campus, I’ve seen this kind of care emerge in so many different ways. It’s appeared every time my friends pulled and humored me through my feelings of grief or failure. It was there every time students gathered on the Main Green, always in advocacy of their peers and for a better university. After our campus shut down, our commitment to care remained, as we pooled resources across Facebook pages and online groups to ensure that no student felt left behind. We proved that distance could not preclude us from comforting or reassuring each other in the middle of a crisis. 
Even with my new college degree, I feel grossly ill-equipped to predict what will happen over the next few months. We are undeniably leaving Brown at a difficult time. But regardless of the future’s uncertainty, to thrive in the present, historic circumstances, we must find ways to continue supporting ourselves and each other with compassion and generosity.”

Brown releases fourth annual DIAP progress report
by Brown Daily Herald
May 26, 2020
“The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity released its fourth annual progress report for “Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University” May 19. Through data gathered from the 2018-2019 academic year, the 2020 DIAP report highlighted a steady rise in the recruitment of faculty and graduate students from historically underrepresented groups, while HUG representation among undergraduate students remains stagnant.
The DIAP was created in February 2016 to focus on the recognition, recruitment and retention of HUGs. By focusing on these factors, the DIAP seeks to improve diversity and inclusion efforts at the University, according to the report. HUGs are defined as those who self-identify as “American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.”
“The Annual Report of the DIAP is meant to provide an overview of our progress of the prior academic year,” wrote Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity Shontay Delalue in an email to The Herald.
DIAP advancements fall into six “priority areas”: Investing in People, Academic Excellence, Curriculum, Community, Knowledge and Accountability. The 2020 DIAP includes results from a second campus climate survey, following an original series of campus climate surveys released in 2016, to continue addressing “experiences of bias, perceived progress toward the goals of the DIAP and the climate for students, faculty and staff.”
To further the University’s progress in fostering a more inclusive environment, the OIED will continue to assess the survey’s data in the coming year. “The 2020 DIAP Annual Report, in particular, is abbreviated given we are currently focused on assessing whether and how we met the original goals delineated in the DIAP at the University and departmental levels,” Delalue wrote.
The campus climate survey “serves as a mechanism for the University to measure the long-term impacts of the DIAP on issues related to campus climate as well as the perception of progress toward DIAP goals on campus,” Delalue wrote. “The survey also provides data about the experiences of faculty, students and staff, which allows us to see both positive and negative trends that inform new approaches to meeting the goals of the DIAP.”
The 2020 DIAP also outlined progress for the Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship, a program for PhD graduates from underrepresented groups which has hosted 28 scholars spread across five cohorts since 2015. Now, 79 percent of former fellows hold faculty positions throughout the U.S. and 32 percent hold faculty positions at the University. The report additionally shows an increase in designated DIAP courses, growing from 186 the previous year to 211. Other accomplishments include undergraduate students who receive full financial aid also receiving support for required course materials and 60 University  student-athletes working directly in Providence neighborhoods to develop athletic programs for local youth.
Alongside notable successes reflected in the DIAP report, Delalue noted areas for improvement. Since the original DIAP was released in 2016, the report has demonstrated a need for the increase of female faculty in the physical sciences. Additionally, recent data from the campus climate survey illustrates higher proportions of biased encounters for underrepresented racial and gender identities. In partnership with several departments throughout campus, the OIED plans to use the data to improve in these areas.
“The most significant takeaway (of the DIAP) continues to be the number of people in our campus community who are committed to keeping this work at the front and center,” Delalue wrote.
HUG representation among faculty and staff
According to Delalue, in the academic year before the DIAP’s release, 58 faculty members self-identified as belonging to a HUG. During the 2018-2019 academic year, as reflected in the 2020 DIAP report, this number increased to 86 faculty who are members of HUGs.
Among new faculty hired during the 2018-2019 academic year, 11 out of 31 domestic faculty members whose race is known self-identified as members of HUGs, amounting to 35.5 percent. Across all faculty during the 2018-2019 academic year, 86 out of 772 self-identified as members of HUGs, for a total of 11.1 percent. When the DIAP was released in 2016, only 71 out of 749 (9.5 percent) faculty members self-identified as members of HUGs.
Delalue noted that to double the number of faculty from HUGs in 2016 by 2022 — an established goal of the original DIAP in 2016 — the OIED has partnered with the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, among others. This collaboration aims to recruit faculty from HUGs through cluster hiring, which involves hiring faculty with similar focus areas from various disciplines, and postdoctoral scholar programs. To support HUG faculty retention, the OIED provides several professional development workshops, mentoring programs and networks.
“We expect that ongoing efforts and initiatives across the University to hire and retain HUG faculty will allow us to meet or come close to meeting the goal stated in the DIAP,” Delalue wrote.
During fall 2018, 17.1 percent of staff members self-identified as members of HUGs, an increase from 15.3 percent of staff members when the DIAP was first released.
HUG representation in the undergraduate and graduate student bodies
According to Delalue, in the 2014-2015 academic year before the DIAP’s 2016 release, 1,304 out of 6,264 undergraduate students self-identified as members of HUGs. In the 2020 DIAP report, during the 2018-2019 academic year, 1,424 out of 6,752 undergraduate students self-identified that they were members of HUGs, amounting to 21.1 percent of undergraduates.
While HUG representation has remained stagnant in the undergraduate student body, it has continued to grow in the graduate student body. When the DIAP was released in 2016, 234 out of 2,257 graduate students self-identified as members of HUGs, amounting to 10.4 percent. This year’s DIAP reflected an increase since then of over three percentage points, to 13.7 percent.
“In the years ahead, we can look to the work and strategies the (Admission) Office will be considering in focusing on specific groups within the HUG designation to ensure growth in all areas,” Delalue wrote.
Impact of COVID-19 on the DIAP
“As a result of COVID-19, the primary focus of the University in March 2020 was to transition to remote instruction, arrange telecommuting operations for most employees and reduce density on campus to promote the health and safety of the Brown community,” Delalue wrote. Because the global pandemic is ongoing, it is too early to anticipate specific impacts and disruptions to the DIAP and its progress.
Regardless of the University’s forthcoming plans for fall 2020, Delalue emphasized that the OIED will continue supporting the University community and DIAP progress.
“There are some outstanding examples of departments taking this time to focus their programming and other initiatives on how COVID-19 is having (a) disparate impact on historically underrepresented groups and people in vulnerable economic, medical and geographic circumstances. These efforts get at the heart of the DIAP and we will capture them in the 2021 DIAP report,” Delalue concluded.
Approaching fall 2020, the OIED will move to build on the existing plan as it develops Phase II of the DIAP.”

AJ Davis: Finding meaning in the small moments
by Brown Daily Herald
May 26, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
Anticlimactic. That is the descriptor most used when discussing graduation for the class of 2020. Some of us may be fortunate enough to enjoy a double commencement, while others unable to attend will miss two ceremonies instead of one. We’ve lost the final revels of Spring Weekend, the mornings at Louis and cramming in the Rock or SciLi when Providence gets its first glimmers of the spring sun on the Quiet Green. The moment of collective relief at the edge of our academic careers, met with fear of the impending future as we are handed our diplomas, won’t come to pass until next May.  
As of late, I’ve found myself particularly nostalgic and deprived of the insignificant and unexpectedly profound moments I experienced at Brown. An event as mundane as a friend blurting out something ridiculous and crying as you laugh on the floor. Or when you help someone close to you through a trying time or a breakup by going for a walk downtown. I miss the late nights and the early mornings with the people I’ve collectively matured with these past four years. It’s a small price to pay in the current situation. I’m fortunate that I’m safe. That said, not having those final moments does truly suck. 
 During this crisis, it’s hard not to be consumed by all that has been lost privately and publicly. But I’ve gained something in quarantine, a time to reflect. For once in my life, I have no meetings, assignments, coffees to get with friends, parties (I don’t go to many, but I’m trying to relate to you), study sessions or an uncertain future banging on my conscience. All we can do is wait in isolation. I’m in a room with my computer, some books and the life I’ve lived thus far. In a sense, graduation is a time to reminisce, a time for those who helped you get to college to be proud. It’s a day to remember, but one that inevitably ends in its own anticlimactic way.
I will remember my last day on Brown’s campus as apocalyptic. I was packing up my dorm room and loading my life into a U-Haul to drive home. Two of my closest friends, Bilal and Stefan, accompanied me for the journey. It was a short road trip down the I-95 that perfectly encapsulated all of the joys, laughs and challenging lessons that Brown offered me over four years.   
The day I left college felt the same as the day I arrived. I experienced the sensation of being lighter than air itself, marked by overwhelming fear and a little excitement. Entering Brown was marked by the chaotic exit from high school and entrance into an unknown world. I stepped through the Van Wickle gates six months sober from drugs and alcohol, not knowing if I’d make it through two weeks of classes, much less graduate. I came to college without an identity, wanting to forget my past indiscretions and character flaws and recreate the image of myself for those around me. It was a shallow goal, but a real one for anyone moving to a new place. I wanted to feel as though I belonged somewhere and I had no idea who I actually was yet. The two friends traveling with me within the confines of the dusty U-Haul felt precisely the same way when they began their time at Brown.  
As we merged onto I-95 South, boxes shuffled in the back as Stefan blasted the latest Tame Impala album. Coming into Brown, he had hoped to be part of a team of artists that would challenge him to pursue his intellectual and creative endeavors, a home. Over the year I’ve gotten to know him, we’ve jumped into various adventures headfirst: filmmaking, writing essays and books together, packing and a road trip ending a chapter in my life. Stefan is a person who encouraged me to learn by doing and failing. He wanted his college experience to be shaped by a band of creative weirdos who would push and care for him no matter where his journey led, and he found us. 
Bilal held his phone against the windshield, trying to frame the perfect photo of the velvet and flamingo pink sunset against a row of trees. He dropped his phone in his lap as we passed the trees. Bilal’s only response was to adjust his glasses, smile and laugh like Tommy Wiseau in “The Room.” He’s a poster child for optimism and one of my substance-free compatriots. We navigated our education through a shared sober lens for differing reasons, but supported each other. When I first met Bilal at a SoBear event, he told me his plan during his first year was “to know everyone and bring joy into their lives.” A lofty goal, but with a smile like his you almost believed he could do it. He wanted to build community and care for everyone who intersected with his beliefs and identities as a first-generation, low-income refugee student. His beautiful soul inspired me to be joyful against the odds and to appreciate my own quirks.
These two figures and others like them are the friends we’ve all had at Brown. People who didn’t necessarily have a  background similar to our own. They inspire, support, challenge and teach you about the world as they see it. They say yes every time you suggest an adventure. You are still texting them paragraphs during the pandemic. They’re your weirdos, compatriots and those who can teach you how to learn and live. This ride wasn’t about the 30-minute argument comparing Lead Belly’s song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” to Nirvana’s acoustic cover version, a debate that distracted us from the question on all of our minds: “When will we see each other again?” It was that I met people willing to help me, who wanted to have that conversation for no other reason than to have a final moment together. We did. It was awesome. I will never forget the kindness and selflessness they showed me during our days in Providence.
  At Brown, I learned who I was by living with others and cultivating a community of care. We are each a confluence of our experiences. The spectacular and fantasized moments of success, like a celebration, rarely replicate times of genuine connection and unexpected bliss. Nothing can take those precious moments from us. I loved my Brown experience because of the people who made it so exceptional, whether it was in the classroom, in the creation of SoBear, on film sets or playing board games instead of going to parties. Our college careers shouldn’t be marked by what we lost during the pandemic. I will remember it for what I gained, a community I’m proud to be a part of and a place where I felt safe to learn from failure. Class of 2020, we had the climatic journey itself, instead of the bittersweet ending. It was the little moments on College Hill that fundamentally changed me for the better, not the final ceremony. 
Thank you, faculty, for your wisdom, alums, for your support and Class of 2020, for your consistent inspiration. I love you. Stay safe. See you next May to continue the climb.”

Wrenn MS’18 PhD’21: Fact-Checking the UCS Executive Board’s Herald Letter: A Historical Perspective
by Brown Daily Herald
May 25, 2020
“In their May 15 letter to the editor , the Executive Board of the Undergraduate Council of Students appealed to the Brown community that the Class Coordinating Board is not an official form of student government: 
“As defined by the student body in 1976, any group including CCB which is looking to become officially recognized as a part of student government can do so through the democratic process of amending the Brown student government constitution .”
This assessment is ahistorical. 
A history of plural governance  
Does the constitution of UCS generally regulate the existence of other community governing bodies? No. The word “government” appears in it only once: 
“This Constitution shall supersede all previous Constitutions of the Brown University student government and shall become effective upon receiving a two-thirds (2/3) affirmative vote in an undergraduate student body referendum.” 
Here, the “student government” can refer only to the Student Caucus, the only student government that UCS superseded in 1976. In that year (and throughout many years of Brown’s history), the University enjoyed a plurality of student governments. They continued to exist, unaffected and independent from UCS even after the passage of this constitution. In other words, UCS did not supersede any of these other bodies. 
The Undergraduate Finance Board is a present reminder of this. UFB was created in 1984 to centralize management of the student activities fee fund. Prior to this, two groups split the responsibility of allocating the activities fund to student organizations: UCS and the Student Union. (Per Encyclopedia Brunoniana , the Student Union was a community organization “formed in 1973 to coordinate extracurricular functions and provide student services, (and) had among its responsibilities the Film Society, Lecture Board, Concert Agency, Cultural Activities Board and Big Mother Coffee House.”) Membership on the newly-created UFB included four representatives from the Student Union but only two from UCS. Clearly, UCS did not supersede all other student governments upon its formation — it coexisted with them. 
A process for creating community governments?  
In the absence of definitive constitutional regulations on community governance, is there an informal “democratic process” for establishing student governments with clear historical precedent? No. In fact, UFB — the only other student government acknowledged by the UCS Executive Board in a recent publication to their website — did not undergo a “democratic process” like that proposed by the Executive Board: Its formation required the recommendations of three different community governing bodies (UCS, the Student Union and the Undergraduate Activities Board) and the assent of a fourth (the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body), but not a referendum of the student body. 
“Student governments” or merely governing?  
These organizations — UCS, UAB and the Student Union — independently contributed to Brown’s community governance throughout their coexistence. UCS (like its predecessors, the Cammarian Club and the Student Caucus) coordinated undergraduate membership on Brown’s administrative committees. The Student Union, representing a coalition of student organizations, financially supported and coordinated community events and spaces. The UAC (and its predecessor, the Faunce House Board of Governors) coordinated improvements and space allocations in the Student Center. 
These three independent groups were clearly participants in Brown’s community governance, and, to varying degrees, either were seen in the Brown community as decision-making bodies or outright self-identified as participants in student government. Trent Norris ’86, co-chair of the UAB, UCS representative and chair of the Budget Process Review Committee recollected to me over email that “the UAB and the UCS definitely thought of ourselves as participating in student government.” And in the Brown community, the Student Union was regarded as more than a mere student activity. A 1973 Herald editorial bluntly described the Student Union as “not a student ‘activity,’” but instead a “student service.” Peter LeWitt ’72 MS’75 MD’75, the final president of the Faunce House Board, saw the Student Union as a successor to the Board, commenting that the Student Union was “a bureaucracy that is working. It is just as well the new organization came about; it’s a little more centralized and allows more participation.” A 1974 Herald column also referred to the Student Union and the Corporation as “decision-making bodies of the University.”
Class boards in context  
The class boards are not materially different from the other governance bodies UCS has coexisted with.
Like the Student Union, Brown’s class boards predate UCS as organizations of community governance. At times, the boards have eclipsed other student-run governing bodies in serving the undergraduate student body: A 1949 Herald editorial praised the Junior Class Board and the Brown Key for their cooperative leadership in a period of diminished initiative from the Cammarian Club. 
Like UCS and the Student Union, class boards are empowered by a legacy of administrative collaboration — their current incarnation is the product of a 2003 collaboration between the divisions of Campus Life and Alumni Relations. 
Like UFB, the class boards’ legitimate existence as participants in student government need not be predicated on a UCS referendum. 
The onus is thus not on the class boards to demonstrate that they are a part of community governance, but on the UCS Executive Board to demonstrate that they are not. 
Legitimate governments, legitimate gatekeepers?
Even if there were historical basis for UCS superseding all other student governing bodies (there’s not), and their constitution defined an official process for acknowledging other governing bodies (it doesn’t), or there were an informal process with a history of application (there isn’t), UCS lacks the public mandate to claim that the student body of 1976 “defined” anything beyond the replacement of the Student Caucus. The Herald’s 1976 recap of the creation of the UCS reports as much: 
“Questions of legitimacy — the major factor in the reorganization drive — have plagued the UCS since its inception. Although the Council structure was approved by 90 percent of those voting, the turnout represented only 26 percent of those eligible.” 
These “questions of legitimacy” were not invented for dramatic effect by The Herald — they have plagued UCS for decades. UCS senior leadership commented publicly on their frustrations with questions of legitimacy as late as 1997. 
UCS has decades of first-hand experience with the damaging effect of questioned legitimacy, and the Executive Board should be careful to not wield these claims against others unless it is within their mandate to do so. Yet, the mandate of UCS is not to be an arbiter of government legitimacy — it is to “represent students and the interests of students” and “endeavor to maximize effective student participation in decision-making at the University.” 
The class boards therefore do not need the consent of UCS to claim that they, too, are participants in Brown’s community governance — but they are entitled to its good-faith cooperation. To withhold their cooperation contravenes UCS’s public and constitutional mandate. 
Precedent for cooperation  
Cooperation between CCBs and UCS would not be unprecedented. As recently as two months ago, UCS described itself as “one of three branches of Brown student government, the other branches being CCB and UFB.” And, contrary to the recent op-ed penned by the co-president of CCB for the class of 2020, last fall’s elections were not the first time UCS, UFB and the CCBs represented themselves as a “unified front.” UCS coordinated joint elections for themselves, UFB and the CCBs as recently as 2011 and 2012 . The 2012 results were announced by UCS beneath the headline “Campus Leadership Elections.” 
The prospect of cooperative plural community governance is historically unremarkable. That UCS and CCB now regard cooperation as unprecedented reflects a deterioration in both inter-organizational cooperation and plural governance. In the absence of the Student Union, community event organizers now lack a specific representative body, and UFB (whose oversight is now contributed solely by UCS) no longer serves as a mediator between independent community governments. The undergraduate student body would be well-served by the restoration of community event organizers to UFB. CCB is a worthy successor to the Student Union in this capacity, and (if history is any guide) this return-to-form would precipitate greater cooperation between UCS and CCB. 
John Wrenn MS’18 PhD’21 is a fifth-year doctoral candidate. He can be reached at He thanks Bruce Chanen ’86 and Trent Norris ’86 for their invaluable correspondence on the creation of the UFB, and for clarifying the relationships between various community bodies; and Sonia Sachar ’20 and Jason Carroll ’21 for their insightful review. Their help does not imply an endorsement of this document. Please send responses to this opinion to and op-eds to”

Dhruv Singh: Finding your people
by Brown Daily Herald
May 25, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
I am technically part of the class of 2019.5. But because I graduated a little early, I decided to spend spring semester on campus, remaining engaged in the communities I have come to love at Brown. I know this led to some surprises initially for those who ran into me in the Underground or at the GCB at a frequency that would be otherwise unsustainable with a full course load.
I had an untraditional journey through Brown. Now, I suppose, that is true for us all. We were drawn to College Hill by the freedom offered by the open curriculum, so it is no surprise that, looking back on these past four years, we have all taken drastically different paths to arrive at commencement today. That curriculum, designed by students half a century ago, transformed the academic experience at Brown to one that was student-centered. It offered — no, it insisted — that as students, we, as so many of us quoted in our college applications, were architects of our own education.
That responsibility and privilege created amazing results. Ask any member of the class of 2020 and they will surely recount an anecdote to you full of intellectual curiosity and serendipity. The collaboration, the creativity, the novel experiences will inspire you. But I want to argue today that there was something beyond our famous open curriculum that made Brown, and our time here, so wonderful. 
To explain, I have to retrace my 3.5ish years at Brown. For me, the freedom that was Brown initially made me feel anchorless. I was uninspired both inside and outside the classroom and was not very happy with who I was. Almost instinctively, I fell into insecurity and imposter syndrome, trying to imitate those whose combinations of affability, self-assuredness and generational privilege made them appear to glide through our early days at Brown. If our first year was a Keeney dorm party, they were crowd surfing and I was stuck in the corner trying not to get beer spilled on me.
That feeling was so intense that one chilly March morning, 15 minutes into Professor Friedberg’s Principles of Economics lecture, I did what I’m sure many of us did at some point. I stopped paying attention to price ceilings, closed my notebook and took out my laptop. But, instead of scrolling through Twitter or finding inventive ways to spend my Squad 2020 money, I opened the Common App and began a transfer application. Later that week, I completed my transfer application. Then I submitted it. Then I was accepted. Then I decided I was going to leave Brown and start somewhere new in the fall.
During the whole process, from asking TAs who barely knew me for letters of recommendation, to wandering into University Hall to get transfer forms signed, I was waiting for something that would convince me of my error. Some sudden, beautiful realization that Brown was my home. It never came. Sitting in my Wayland dorm overlooking the Main Green as spring finally arrived on campus, I began looking at dorms, classes, majors and clubs for my new school. 
But, as my presence here at Brown’s 252nd commencement exercises betrays, I did not leave. My dad is to thank for that because he gave me the following advice. He said: “Dhruv, always make your big life decisions one week in advance; then live that decision. By the end of the week, you will know if you’ve made the right choice.”
I did that, and when I woke up on May 26, 2018, the real deadline, I couldn’t go through with it. The hiccup was that I had been accepted into the Brown Outdoor Leadership Training program, which begins with a backpacking trip in the White Mountains before each fall semester. Throughout my first year, the thought of that trip had been one of the few things that felt profoundly right for me. And here I was, about to throw it away. That was the only reason I didn’t leave. 
I kid you not, the only reason I’m a graduate from Brown today rather than from that other school was the thought of five days in the woods with nine strangers. I told my dad it was because I thought opportunities for an International Relations concentrator were better at Brown. So he’s reading this for the first time, along with all of you. My friends tell me that I live my life too much like the hopelessly romantic main character in a rom-com. I will admit that in this instance, they were correct. Against all other signs, I pegged my happiness in college to the hope that these people I would meet in three months would change my life.
And they did. BOLT was the first space at Brown where I felt empowered to be myself. When I became a BOLT leader, I realized why. BOLT is a community built on being intentional, on making space for people to be themselves, on accepting whatever that looks like. I realized that what was missing my first year was not a lack of charisma or ability that made me inherently ill-suited to the freedom offered by Brown. What I was starved of was a community in which I felt supported, valued and loved. My BOLT family gave me a space to share myself with others and showed me what I was looking for in the other communities I would go on to find and build while at Brown. 
As our time at Brown comes to an end, I’ve found myself reminiscing with friends. In these moments, they let slip, that they too, in big ways and in small ways felt adrift at Brown. That they had felt profoundly lonely and alone. That is, until they found their people.
Perhaps that looked like leaving a sports team but stumbling upon a group of friends that felt custom-made for you, that was the key to making you feel at home.
Or it looked like discovering a student organization that felt more like a family, whose work filled you with hope.
Or maybe ResLife’s random processes brought you all together around a shared table.
Brown is a place where you are in charge of your own journey from day one. But I think in the rush of it all, sometimes we forget that does not mean we are ever alone. In fact, I think that only with our people could we accomplish any of the incredible feats made possible by our open curriculum. I think the designers of our open curriculum would agree that no intellectual risk, no novel endeavor, no challenge to the system is quite as scary when there are people beside you cheering you on. At Brown, I’ve learned there are always people to lean on, confide in and laugh with. 
When our semester was abruptly cut short and the University closed, many of you proved just that. You organized and mobilized for your people, sometimes from six feet away. You shared food, shared hand sanitizer, shared love, shared zoom calls, shared your homes with one another. With close friends, sure, but also with complete strangers with whom Brown was all you had in common. Beyond that, even, you thought of those with whom we share Providence as a home. The marginally housed, the food insecure, the under- or uninsured. You proved that “our people” extends far beyond those with an email ending in
Class of 2020, none of the magic happens without the people. That is the most important thing I have learned at Brown. The world after Brown puts us equally in charge of our own journey. Though we will all be far flung from College Hill, don’t think you are on this journey alone, either. Insist on finding your people wherever you are. Insist on being there for those who count you among their people, too. ”

Eduard Muñoz-Suñé: How the pandemic expanded my perception of success after college
by Brown Daily Herald
May 25, 2020
“The coronavirus has radically changed the last three months of my college experience by ending in-person classes, making me leave campus and postponing my graduation. For all of us in the class of 2020, the pandemic has created new obstacles that we could not have foreseen. Many of us will struggle to find jobs right out of college. Many of us will have to make hard choices about spending. And I believe it will take far longer for all of us to achieve our goals.
Though it has definitely disrupted much of my world, the pandemic has also provided me an opportunity to question how I had defined postgraduate success and to think critically about my future. 
Before, it seemed all too easy to get caught up in the frenzy of securing prestigious internships during college and high-powered, high-paying jobs directly after. And though there is nothing wrong with those types of jobs, the coronavirus has really reminded me — and I hope others in the class of 2020 — that there are so many other roles that matter. For example, working for a non-profit, volunteering or even just taking some time to really think about what you want to do with your life all are perfectly reasonable post-college outcomes. While many people might agree with this, it seems important to me to remind everyone in the class of 2020 that less conventionally successful ways of spending the months or years after graduating from Brown are admirable, especially in the wake of the coronavirus.
The virus has urged me to consider that what might seem prestigious now might not mean much later. It has made me think that right now might not be the time to rush without thinking into the job that pays the most or the job that people expect me to take. It may never be that time again. This is not to say that traditionally prestigious jobs are bad or that the coronavirus has changed my perception of those industries. It has rather reminded me that there are so many other possible outcomes that should be considered as successes. 
In addition, the coronavirus has exposed enormous faults in the global system, which I knew existed, but it has made many of its issues impossible for me to ignore. It has shattered the comfortable “Brown Bubble” that I, and many of my classmates, inhabited. And it has reminded me that it’s important to recognize the world that lies outside of Brown and to remember my responsibility to it.
The pandemic has shown that whom we elect as leaders, for example, is not just a topic of spirited intellectual debate but a crucially important decision that all citizens need to make. So even though I don’t particularly engage in or like politics, I have a fundamental responsibility to inform myself and to vote. Similarly, though I don’t expect to work in journalism (though I did work at The Herald during my time at Brown), the truth matters, and it is important that newspapers and other news outlets are equipped to uncover it and share what they find.
I still do not know how the coronavirus will change the course of my life or those of my classmates, but I do know that I will proceed with a new understanding of our responsibilities to each other. This does not necessarily mean working for a nonprofit or public service, but it is reasonable for myself, and hopefully other members of the class of 2020, to bear in mind our responsibility to educate ourselves about the world and to invest in the challenges that it faces.
Even though it has made my last few months radically different from what I expected, the coronavirus has gifted me with one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned during my four years at Brown: It is essential that we care about the world and contribute to improving its future. I hope the pandemic has offered similar realizations to my classmates on College Hill and across the world. ”

Derek Simshauser: Where will we be when things ‘get back to normal’?
by Brown Daily Herald
May 25, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
For many adults, the end of the pandemic will be marked by apparent normalcy. Control over the novel coronavirus (whether in the form of a vaccine, herd immunity, or comprehensive contact tracing) promises the cessation of mass death, yes, but also the return of familiar routines. There is comfort in this certainty. One need only weather this period of social distancing before life as they knew it (largely) resumes, albeit with more surgical masks.
For us graduating seniors, however, this crisis presents a more confounding set of circumstances. We occupy a narrow sliver of life which demands change, when we must begin to transition away from a life of schooling to a life of labor. By the time much of society returns to “normal,” some members of the Class of 2020 will be well into their careers; others will have begun, and perhaps completed, graduate programs. Our lives will look vastly different from our last moment of normalcy, when we were six weeks into the final semester of college.
Graduating amid a pandemic is a profoundly confusing experience. For many, the significance of this personal milestone has been subsumed by the gravity of the present situation. Seniors’ realization of finality, typically compressed into the days of senior week or the hours of a commencement ceremony, has been instead diffused across the months since the University suspended in-person classes. College graduation is surely hard to process even in normal times. The assumption of responsibility for the course of one’s life is invigorating and terrifying. But the Class of 2020 (and maybe 2021, even 2022, etc.) faces uncommon challenges. We have come of the age at which one is endowed with complete agency over their life during a time in which everyone seems to have lost that agency. 
It is difficult to accept that the transition into adulthood is even occurring. The rituals which mark it — Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies, Campus Dance, Senior Week — are gone. Post-graduation plans such as leasing an apartment or moving to the location of one’s job, fellowship or graduate school have been postponed. With little to indicate the passage of time, I have struggled to process the fact that I am graduating. I read articles about the difficulties of reopening colleges for the Fall semester with an interest that must derive from a subconscious feeling that these stories somehow affect me. Surely other seniors share this sense of confusion. The recent scenes from College Hill illustrate this, as many of my classmates attempt to recreate a college experience which in reality was snuffed out months ago. Indeed, one finds comfort amid the uncertainty of a pandemic by imagining that a return to normal is around the corner. It is perhaps impossible to process a major life transition during such a crisis. 
Such a poorly-timed disruption also leads to many anxieties. While other adults seem to await a return to established routines, college graduates must try to chart out an unsettled future. The “stay-at-home” order inadvertently deprives graduates of the chance to move out of their childhood homes, an essential step in the transition to adulthood. Many have had internships or fellowships canceled, while others have had start dates delayed by months. And the overwhelming uncertainty induces a sort of nihilism about one’s future, as any plans seem destined to become canceled, and are therefore not worth making. With my erstwhile plans no longer of any use, I have felt stagnant during a time in which dynamic change is supposed to occur. One is privileged to even have these worries, of course, the preoccupations of someone whose health and economic well-being has been spared. Even for fortunate graduates, this period has become one of heightened anxiety. 
Perhaps us soon-to-be alumni will accept that we must look beyond familiar comforts during this time and embrace this transition’s lack of traditional festivities. (It is not necessarily a punishment to avoid an hours-long commencement ceremony). There remains a fundamental question: How do we replace the lost significance of this period? In his 1947 novel The Plague , Albert Camus offers a suggestion. “It may seem a ridiculous idea,” writes the French Algerian, “but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.” We may lament our lack of an official graduation and grow nervous about an increasingly uncertain transition to adult life. However, service to others may present a salve to these immediate worries. And when things finally return to “normal,” we will be able to look back on our senior spring and graduating summer as a meaningful time, not a lost and anxiety-stricken period. ”

As COVID-19 highlights societal fault lines, student activists press on
by Brown Daily Herald
May 25, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
As an organizer for Sunrise Providence, Emma Bouton ’20 planned to participate in a mass strike on Earth Day to protest the lack of political action taken to combat climate change. But before that could happen, the coronavirus pushed the United States indoors and the movement’s organizing online. 
So instead, Bouton participated in a virtual rally and a calling day to state representatives for Sunrise Providence — one hub of the national youth-led movement fighting for political action on the climate crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced people around the world to reevaluate and adapt normal practices, but student activists like Bouton remain committed to organizing around issues that they believe impede social equality in the United States. Many members of the class of 2020 have dedicated their time as students to public service, and The Herald spoke with four such seniors to understand how the ongoing pandemic has affected their advocacy work. 
In their interviews below, the students discuss how tackling national problems, such as climate change, immigration, affordable housing and disability justice, takes on a new urgency amid a public health and economic crisis that has exacerbated previously existing disparities in the United States. 
“This is just a real wake up moment for a lot of folks, and also just a really clear display of just how deep the inequities in our economy and society are,” Bouton said. “So, yeah, I think it’s just personally strengthening my resolve for why we need to have this fight.”
“Still be disruptive”: Activism in the time of COVID-19
While the pandemic has changed the shape of their advocacy work, students expressed some hope that the crisis could foster an environment rife with opportunities to demand impactful change.
Shivani Nishar ’20, chapter co-coordinator of Project Let’s Erase the Stigma and the Undergraduate Council of Students chair of student wellness, said recent administrative actions demonstrated that institutions of higher education could take broad and progressive measures. 
After the coronavirus outbreak pushed most college students off campus, Nishar led campaigns to ensure equity and accessibility for all students as the University implemented measures in response to the public health crisis.
The pandemic has shown that universities “always had the infrastructure to be able to do remote learning” and enact measures that “the disability community on campuses nationwide have been asking for (but) have always been denied,” she said. 
While serving in her positions for UCS and Project LETS, Nishar sought to advance disability justice at Brown and to improve mental health resources on campus. Among other initiatives, she has worked to increase diversity in Counseling and Psychological Services providers, implement a reporting system for unmet accommodations with Student and Employee Accessibility Services, launch a program that sends care packages to students on leave and develop a faculty training curriculum on accessible teaching practices. 
Nishar “really wanted to approach things transformatively and through a radical framework,” said Vanessa Garcia ’20.5, who worked closely with Nishar in both Project LETS and UCS. They added that Nishar’s work was especially impactful because of its focus on “direct action toward providing resources, changing infrastructures, making networks for specifically disabled and neurodivergent communities” and more.
“The hardest thing that mentally ill and disabled students face on campuses worldwide is that people … don’t believe we know what we need,” Nishar said. “They think that they’re acting on behalf of us and that’s enough.”
Equipped with the knowledge of the University’s capabilities, Nishar said she hopes that communities on campus can demand greater support for students with disabilities to transform higher education once the public health crisis subsides.
In a post-pandemic landscape, Bouton also said that she sees an opportunity to call for more aggressive action from politicians, whose climate policies have historically fallen short of activists’ demands and scientists’ warnings. “This moment has really shown that our government can take pretty drastic actions to restrict what people are doing if it’s for the public good,” she said.
Bouton joined the Sunrise Movement her junior year after taking several courses at the University which made her feel “like there was not a lot that we were actually doing” to address the climate crisis.
Sunrise offered a compelling solution, Bouton said. The organization aims to “draw attention to the inequities inherent in the climate crisis and fight for a better future, specifically by putting pressure on our elected officials to take this crisis as seriously as we do,” she explained.
Before COVID-19, Bouton helped organize a number of demonstrations, including a climate strike last September that drew over 1,000 people. In anticipation of the November elections, she will run a summer field program to elect Sunrise-endorsed candidates to the Rhode Island Statehouse.
The national Sunrise Movement also now offers online training sessions. “My hope is that coming out of this pandemic, we have a lot more people who have received a lot of training and have all these skills that are just feeling more fired up to take action,” she said.
Yet despite this organizing, Bouton said it’s not always clear if the movement’s advocacy will succeed. “It’s really hard to not feel the fear of like, ‘What if we lose? And what if we’re not doing enough?’” she said. “That comes up a lot and is normal with a fight that feels so important, but also so challenging.”
But with the onset of a public health and economic crisis, students told The Herald that policymakers in the United States can no longer ignore the inequities that continue to persist in areas such as immigration and housing. 
Angel Mendez-Flores ’20, founder and president of the Brown University Latinx Political Coalition and member of the Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition, said the spread of the novel coronavirus in United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers underscores how poorly these facilities are run.
“In the ideal world, we are aiming to reform the immigration system in the United States to make it more humane,” he said. In many instances, though, Mendez-Flores pursued advocacy work that could help individuals out of detention facilities. “Even though it’s not a big systemic change,” he said, “it is one life, immediately.”
Following the pandemic, Mendez-Flores said he hopes to see greater calls for immigration reform, given the number of essential agricultural workers who lack citizenship status in the United States. “Farm workers have been in the frontlines picking up the food that then gets distributed to the rest of the country to make sure that America is fed. So I hope that that is going to highlight how important these people are,” he said.
The pandemic has also exacerbated housing inequalities across the country, said Nathaniel Pettit ’20, university relations advocacy director and previous co-director of Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere.
“Homeless communities throughout the nation are some of the hardest hit. Try sheltering in place when you don’t have a shelter,” he said. “That’s very much true here in Rhode Island as it is anywhere.”
In 2015, just over half of Providence renters were “housing cost burdened,” paying over 30 percent of their income on housing. “There’s a lot of human suffering that is happening less than a mile away from University Hall, and I think that’s very easy to forget,” Pettit said.
“It’s a pretty stark reminder of how horrible inequality is in this country,” he added.
As co-director of HOPE, Pettit spearheaded the effort with his co-director Jacqlyn Blatteis ’19 to establish the Housing Assistance Collaborative, which serves as a clinic to aid those seeking affordable housing in Rhode Island. Pettit “doesn’t just want to have that conversation and talk about (how HOPE can improve) — he’s always then ready to take action,” Blatteis said.
To comply with social distancing measures, Pettit worked to shift the group’s operations with current HOPE leaders to continue supporting individuals experiencing housing insecurity. In addition, HOPE continues to remotely help local partners by building on their organizational capacities, he said.
For Nishar, organizing in a fully virtual sphere is not entirely new. She noted that “disability organizers have always had to do their organizing work in remote spaces or online due to the nature of social justice work in general being very inaccessible.” 
Mendez-Flores said his work alongside other immigration advocates has focused on using social media while interfacing with local community organizations. “Trying to spread information has become the most valuable tool right now,” he said.
Sunrise Providence is also relying on technology to continue their organizing while social distancing, Bouton said, forcing members to consider “what are COVID-safe actions (and) what can we be doing to still be disruptive in this time?”
But even though the pandemic has forced them to change the shape of their advocacy work, students say that their ongoing efforts continue to be guided and informed by their years of experience.
Ultimately, when reflecting on his work, Pettit said that students are “very frequently told that we can do something of worth once we graduate, once you have a degree. But I think the whole community really doesn’t believe that.” 
Instead, he said, “young people can contribute to advocacy efforts, in a really helpful way.””

Ugoji Nwanaji-Enwerem: Trailblazing as a brown girl at Brown
by Brown Daily Herald
May 24, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
I remember being wide-eyed and nervous. My stomach was in knots, yet my heart was warm and full of anticipation. My parents and I had decided to take a road trip from my home in North Carolina to Providence, Rhode Island for my college move-in. At the time, I was 17 years old, and I knew that this 785-mile journey was going to be life changing. I can still remember the traditional Nigerian music that my dad played from artists like Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe and the Oriental Brothers International Band. I began to wonder how so many of my norms, such as listening and jamming aloud to Nigerian music and speaking Igbo — my native language — would be viewed as “not so normal” with my transition into college. For this reason, the music we played during that car ride still resonates in my ears today whenever I think about my journey to move into Brown. 
When I arrived on campus, I participated in the pre-orientation program Excellence at Brown. While doing research for one of the program’s writing assignments, I found the following quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Emerson’s words served as a guiding mantra for my next four years as an undergraduate student. As a first-generation Nigerian American concentrator in STEM, I recognized quite early in my journey that my identity at this Ivy League institution, already fulfilled the notion of forging a new path on College Hill. I can recall being in many spaces, such as my organic chemistry lectures or my research assistantships, where I was one of few — if not the only — faces of color in these spaces. 
Despite the loneliness I felt in certain spaces at Brown, I found community through organizations such as the Modern African Dance Club, a collective that curates and performs dance pieces in public spaces to Nigerian music. These groups allowed me to raise awareness of and remain connected to my heritage while I pursued my biology concentration and scientific research. In doing so, I established a trail tailored to my identity at Brown. In addition, I contributed to a collective effort and a historic, ongoing story of students creating spaces for themselves and their culture on campus. By creating this space, we became trailblazers. As I approach my own graduation, I have come to appreciate all of the “not so normal” aspects of my life. The parts of our stories that appear rare at Brown create diversity, texture and beauty to who we are and to the world.
To me, trailblazing is an art form. It is how we discover paths to thrive in new spaces where only wilderness existed before. As we journey forward, we often have to move aside branches, or trim them back. We tramp down and push aside long grasses, we venture across rivers and streams and explore inner and outer landscapes. The uniqueness and diversity of all of our identities create room for us all to be trailblazers, which to me is a defining hallmark and strength of the class of 2020.
Each year I spent at Brown was full of unexpected surprises, but my senior year was particularly unconventional. I always viewed the moment of receiving my degree as a foreseen destination. But no one could have predicted the moment unfolding in such an unexpected climate, like a global pandemic. With the arrival of COVID-19, we cannot take the final steps of walking through the Van Wickle Gates and across the stage, shaking hands and exchanging hugs with our professors and loved ones in the May heat. Instead, our degrees will be mailed to our doorsteps. But this does not take away from the triumphs and progress we’ve accomplished throughout our time on campus, nor does this erase the beauty and completeness of the trails we forged at Brown.”

Brown’s financial deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 could range from $100 million to $200 million
by Brown Daily Herald
May 24, 2020
“The deficit for Fiscal Year 2021 will be “significantly larger” than previous years and could range from $100 million to $200 million, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced at Wednesday’s faculty meeting. 
In order to cover the various costs of the COVID-19 crisis, the University will “spread out the cost over time” by borrowing and issuing bonds from capital markets, she added. Capital markets, including the stock market and the bond market, help match up those who supply capital with those who demand it.
The University has already issued a $300 million taxable bond — a loan between an investor and a borrower —   at “favourable rates” that will not downgrade the University’s credit rating. Half of the money will be used to obtain liquidity and the other half will be used to cover current payroll and bills.
The “realized deficit” was discussed at the May Corporation meeting, Paxson said. The exact value has yet to be defined since “it depends on what the coming academic year will bring.” But given the currently estimated range of its value, this deficit exceeds the previously estimated $50-60 million in COVID-19-related financial losses reported by The Herald in early April.
At the faculty meeting, Paxson addressed major concerns about how the University will deal with these costs, outlining a long-term approach which seeks to minimize drastic, immediate sacrifices.
“The financial costs of the pandemic will not be done in two budget cuts in a single year or even two,” Paxson explained, but will rather be spread so that the University does not undertake “massive lay-offs” or “massive budget cuts.”
The University has already implemented a salary freeze for staff and faculty for the coming fiscal year, The Herald previously reported, but has yet to lay off any full-time or regular staff.
Beyond implementing gradual budget cuts and increasing revenue, Paxson stated that there are two ways of dealing with the financial costs of the pandemic: liquidating a portion of the endowment and accessing capital markets.
Paxson stated that currently, it “makes much more sense to take out debt than to liquidate the endowment.”
The average 10-year return on the endowment is 9.7 percent per year. This means that if the University were to liquidate $100 million from the endowment, it would reduce future income by $9.7 million per year that could not be recovered.
On the other hand, by issuing and borrowing from capital markets, the University would need to pay off a debt of 3 percent per year over a 10 to 30-year time frame. This would only cost the University $2 million per year for a limited time, whereas the endowment cost would not only be much higher annually but would reduce returns “forever.”
Paxson also cited a second reason not to draw from the endowment: Since it consists of specific donations that are directed to specific purposes, the endowment is already subject to certain restrictions on what can be liquidated and for what use. The University would face no such limitations on funding usage by borrowing from capital markets to meet the cost of the pandemic. 
Borrowing will allow the University to avoid “immediate impacts that would be very damaging to our community,” Paxson said.
Paxson reiterated that the University has “a great liquidity model” and that despite these financial challenges, the current liquidity is in “pretty good shape.””

De Georgia ’20: Why UFB doesn’t fund donations to the greater Providence community
by Brown Daily Herald
May 20, 2020
“In early March, after Brown made the call to finish the semester virtually and cancel all events on campus, the Undergraduate Finance Board was faced with making a number of important decisions. One such decision was whether to permit service groups to donate their unused funds to the greater Providence community, which was struggling to combat the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. After extensive deliberations, UFB opted not to permit such donations. Because some students have expressed confusion and frustration regarding this decision, I would like to offer a full explanation of our rationale. 
UFB is a 12-person board elected by the student body to allocate around $2.2 million to student groups every year. The money comes entirely from the “Student Activities Fee,” a $286 fee charged to every undergraduate on top of tuition to support Brown’s many student activities. In determining how funds should be allocated, UFB follows strict University bylaws. One key bylaw, as stated on the Brown bursar page , is that the funds are specifically intended to “support the activities of categorized student organizations.” This is also articulated in UFB’s constitution — that all allocated funds must “directly or indirectly benefit Brown undergraduate students.” Thus, when faced with the question of whether service groups could choose to donate their unused funds to the community last month, UFB concluded that, while those donations would doubtlessly benefit the community, such a diversion of University funds would not be permitted by our bylaws or constitution. 
In response, many students argued that community donations could indeed fall under the umbrella of supporting “the activities of categorized student organizations.” Others argued that, because the current situation is unprecedented, UFB should be willing to deviate from its mission and bylaws. I will address each of these concerns separately. 
First, why did UFB come to the conclusion that donations to the community beyond Brown do not fall under the umbrella of supporting “the activities of categorized student organizations?” This conclusion was actually not reached by UFB alone, but rather with service group members in March, during a conversation hosted by UFB. The purpose of that conversation was to discuss how UFB could better accommodate the needs of service groups within our policies. This meeting, which all 22 service groups were invited to attend, was the direct result of UFB’s efforts to be fully transparent about our allocations, policies, and process (see our fall data release , our open forum and our spring data release for more context). Together, in addition to deciding to amend UFB’s constitution in order to allow increased funding for service groups, the service group members and UFB decided that, “direct monetary donations to non-Brown organizations fall outside of the purpose of UFB and should therefore not be funded.” (This quote is pulled directly from the meeting notes of that discussion.) Shortly after that conversation in early March, UFB communicated this decision to all service groups, asked whether anybody disagreed, and invited further feedback. No concerns were raised at that time. 
The second argument that students have made in favor of community donations is that, because this situation is unprecedented, UFB should be willing to deviate from the stated purpose of the funds. After receiving requests to donate unused funds in early April, UFB continued our deliberations and focused in particular on what implications this decision today would have on future uses of the fund. UFB decided that, although the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly unprecedented, we can imagine future justifications for deviations from our purpose in order to respond to other crises (such as the ongoing homelessness and opioid crises). Therefore, deviating from our purpose today would force the board into one of two situations: 1) We could stay consistent with this decision and allow future community donations to combat other crises, or 2) we could attempt to make value judgments about which crises are worth combating. The first option would only increase our concerns about deviating from our bylaws, and the second option is far outside of UFB’s purpose and not a position that our board members were elected to be in. 
After sharing this decision with the student body mid-April, UFB was criticized by service groups, who claimed that we don’t care about the community, that our decision doesn’t represent Brown’s values and that adhering to the policy that we co-authored with service groups constituted an “abdication of UFB’s responsibilities to the student body.” We consider this characterization of UFB — as not caring about students or the community — to be misleading and hurtful. As a board, our sole purpose is to support the student body, and as students ourselves, we care deeply about the community. Still, after careful thought and consideration, UFB concluded that deviating from our bylaws would have reflected poor stewardship of the student funds that we were entrusted with allocating. 
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives in ways that none of us could have anticipated. In deciding about student funding, UFB felt that now more than ever, we needed to be thoughtful, careful and consistent in our decision-making and follow the guidelines that Brown University has provided. We hope that our efforts to be transparent, encourage feedback and make immediate policy and constitutional changes when possible demonstrate our care for the student body. 
If you have any other questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to . Thank you again for your thoughtful feedback so far. We look forward to further conversations this coming year in order to help UFB better support the student body. Our hope is that, by continuing to push for transparency and feedback, we will ensure that students’ experiences on campus are as vibrant and meaningful as possible. 
Julian De Georgia ‘20 is the outgoing chair of the Undergraduate Finance Board. He can be reached at . Please send responses to this opinion to and op-eds to”

‘I had a chance on something random’: Benjamin Moser’s journey from Brown to Pulitzer Prize
by Brown Daily Herald
May 19, 2020
“Among the thousands of diaries, essays and film scripts in the University of California at Los Angeles’ archive of the late literary giant Susan Sontag, there is a photo of Sontag’s mother and grandmother — Mildred Sontag and Sarah Leah Jacobson —  posing during an early Hollywood production about the Armenian Genocide. Out of the “100 anecdotes you could choose,” Benjamin Moser ’98 picked this photo to begin his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Sontag: Her Life and Work,” a chronicle of her journey and the legacy she left for her readers.
While an undergraduate at Brown, Moser concentrated in History and Portuguese. After first endeavoring to study Chinese, Moser eventually switched to Portuguese, a language that he never thought about learning, but ended up loving. In his third semester, Moser began reading books by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, which he “totally fell in love with.”
Lispector left him “fascinated by this world of great intellectual women in the 20th century.”
Since then, Moser has spent nearly 20 years publishing Lispector’s completed works in English and other languages. In 2009, he published a biography of the Brazilian novelist.
In her story, Moser found some comparisons to Sontag’s, another 20th century woman writer whose notable works include “Notes On ‘Camp’, “Against Interpretation” and “On Photography.”
“I didn’t realize how different their lives have been and how foreign it was like … what a strange world they inhabited even though they seem very contemporary,” he told The Herald.
With Lispector from his years at Brown in mind, Moser began writing Sontag’s biography in 2012. Over the course of seven years, he poured through countless diaries, film scripts, essays and personal notes and conducted 573 interviews — tracing Sontag’s paths across countries, and following her footsteps in New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Sarajevo.
Moser’s final product — an 832-page-long biography of Sontag — is really “a short book,” he said. Ultimately, the author thought it felt superficial, because he “left out so much.”
“I left 90 percent of what I knew about her” out of the book, he said. The research he conducted acted as a “foundation, it’s your basis.”
“But it’s also your challenge. Because when you have so much stuff, it can really overwhelm you.”
Organization became a priority during Moser’s research phase — selecting and omitting certain episodes of Sontag’s life for his book was like a “jigsaw puzzle.”
“Sometimes they’ll have some amazing quote or story and it just doesn’t fit. … You feel it almost physically, like when you’re reading it, your eyes will stop — and you think no, I have to just leave it out.”
Since winning the Pulitzer Prize, which was announced May 4, Moser’s version of Susan Sontag’s life has received mixed reviews from critics. The Los Angeles Review of Books claimed the book was  a “travesty” for arguing that Philip Rieff’s “Freud: The Mind of the Moralist” was actually written by Sontag.
But Moser anticipated the polarizing reception of his biography. “You’re always surrounded by people who are sort of looking over your shoulder and judging you,” he said.
“With a figure like Sontag, there’s no way people will agree with everything I say about her. … I have a point of view about a lot of things that are in the book, so I’m not trying to hide that because I also think it’s a disservice to Sontag,” he said. “She was a figure that was a focus of debate for her whole life.”
In his biography of Sontag, Moser offers a multidimensional portrait of the great American intellectual: her legacy, her radical thoughts and her journey from suburban girl to one of the most emblematic symbols of cosmopolitanism in the 1960s. He said the process of diving into Sontag’s life was like entering a marriage.
His perception of Sontag changed over the course of his research and writing, like “the person that you met on your first date versus the person you’ve been married to for 50 years.”
Sontag’s dynamic nature “moves with culture and history” and keeps her legacy interesting and relevant, Moser said. If a person’s story is “static, they’re just like a statue on a horse, they’re just not that interesting.”
“I hope this Pulitzer Prize means that even more people will get to know her and engage with her and see how current her concerns are,” he said. “I hope she would understand that even when I point out things that I don’t think she got right, I’m doing it to the service of the debates that she was such a central part of for so many years.”
During college, Moser was told that he was “the only person in (his) class at Brown who was in the bottom half” of his high school class. For him, Brown was really a “liberation”: The open curriculum allowed him to choose a path, explore his interests and “strengthen the areas (he) was good at.”
“The reason why I have a Pulitzer Prize is because I had a chance on something random,” he said. “Studying Portuguese, which led to my career.”
Brown was an exploratory environment, he said, where people were “willing to take risks and explore things. And that’s exactly what you need as a writer.””

Tagged for the Americas, Australia, countries in between, students’ study abroad travel bags must stay home another semester
by Brown Daily Herald
May 15, 2020
“As the impact of COVID-19 continues into the summer, the University has canceled its sponsored Fall 2020 study abroad programs for undergraduate students. 
The difficult decision impacts 142 University students who intended to spend next semester scattered across the globe, according to OIP Director Kendall Brostuen .
The Office of International Programs deliberated in conjunction with Brown’s International Travel Risk and Assessment Committee and senior administrators to ultimately cancel the programs. They did so in consideration of academic planning, the pandemic’s unpredictability and “other unanticipated effects from the pandemic,” Brostuen and OIP Deputy Director Lauren Alexander wrote in an email to The Herald. Affected undergraduates now need to alter their academic and housing plans for the coming year.
The University arrived at the decision given “ the collective consequences of COVID-19 across the world,” they added. University policy restricts undergraduate students from traveling internationally to places that could jeopardize their health and safety and specifically to those destinations categorized as United States Department of State Travel Advisory Level 4 or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Warning Level 3 — two conditions that still apply globally.
The OIP notified students who had intended to study abroad next semester through the Brown Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad or other approved partner and petition programs in a March 12 email. A Today@Brown message to undergraduates and a public announcement on the University Coronavirus update webpage followed Wednesday. 
Sara Syed ’22 planned on attending one of the approved programs at the University of Sydney in Australia starting in July. She first found out her program was canceled a few weeks ago from the program’s host institution, Arcadia University. “I was obviously very disappointed, but I very much expected it,” she said. “I think it’s for the best.”
Katie Klein ’22 was also disappointed when she heard about the University’s cancellation of study abroad programming. As a double-concentrator in history and economics, Klein was originally unsure about whether she would ever have the opportunity to study abroad while fulfilling all of her course requirements — until she came across the DIS program in Copenhagen, Denmark, which would allow her to transfer adequate credits.
“It kind of changes my perspective on how I go about my last four semesters at Brown,” Klein said. For example, taking a semester off is “definitely something that I would consider now.”
Some students who had foreseen the cancellation of their programs were upset about the situation but appreciated receiving an official notice.
Tripp Harwell ’22, who intended to spend next fall in Granada, Spain, had considered the likelihood of having to stay on campus for another semester before the University announced the cancellation . “It was kind of expected … however it’s nice to have confirmation that the plans had been for sure canceled.”
Terminated travel, academic aspirations
Harwell loaded up on classes and adjusted his schedule during his sophomore year to ensure that he could complete all his required coursework and go abroad. He said this was “disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world,” and he anticipates having an easier schedule in coming years as a result. 
Uwa Ede-Osifo ’22 planned on exchanging her dorm room for a home in Havana, Cuba next semester as part of a University CASA program. Sharing sentiments with some of her peers, though, Ede-Osifo said she “wasn’t really surprised at all to be honest.”
“This kind of confirms what I already knew was going to happen, and it gave me the opportunity to start planning.”
Ede-Osifo noted the convenience of now being able to take several remaining, introductory-level courses for her concentration a year early: “I can do that now this fall and not have them take up space in my senior (year course) cart.”
But these students had looked forward to immersing themselves in the surrounding culture and taking courses unique to their study abroad programs. Klein was “super excited to take the European history classes actually in Europe. That’s kind of an opportunity that I’m missing out on,” she said. 
“There were certain classes I wanted to take in Australia that I couldn’t take at Brown,” Syed said, including pre-professional courses, like project management, and a class that involved attending sporting events in the country.
Ede-Osifo will also miss the chance to experience the community, culture and political system that she had devoted time to researching, she said. 
The announcement leaves students with about a month before the postponed pre-registration period for the fall, which begins June 15 and lasts through June 20. 
“I was happy that the school told us beforehand because I fully expected Brown to email us like a week or two before the trip was supposed to happen,” Ede-Osifo said. Although “very surprised that they made this decision so early,” she was happy that the University took the initiative to keep students informed.
The decision was made now to provide students who had intended to go abroad with “ ample time to adjust their plans to continue studies at Brown for the fall semester,” according to the email sent Tuesday. Brostuen and Alexander encourage students to discuss these changes with their concentration advisors or academic deans . 
“ I had honestly not even looked at the classes tha t were available on (Course at Brown) for this semester until this week because I spent so much time getting courses approved for abroad,” Syed said.
The early announcement “ ensures that students have time to complete their fall 2020 course registration and possibly (prevents) any losses associated with nonrefundable expenses,” Brostuen and Alexander added.
Facilitating refunds, financial aid
Undergraduates no longer going abroad who choose to continue their studies at the University next semester and who have applied for financial aid will be informed of their packages in June.
In the meantime, University students should reach out to their OIP study abroad advisors and, if applicable, program advisors or their programs’ home institution’s study abroad offices with further questions specific to their circumstances. Those participating in approved and petition programs also need to personally reach out to their host universities and program providers to withdraw or defer applications and request refunds or transfer of prior payments, according to the email sent to students.
“Providers have been very understanding of the need to be flexible and have revised their standard deposit refund policies accordingly,” Brostuen and Alexander wrote, adding that students should consult with the OIP if they come across difficulties in this process.  
Syed also commended the study abroad office for their efforts overall, saying they “were super responsive … so I think that they honestly were trying their best.”
Handling housing, residential changes
With students unable to go abroad in the fall, the University will also have to accommodate on-campus students with housing next semester. The Office of Residential Life will be in touch with students over the summer to discuss fall “housing options and availability,” the OIP’s email stated.
Klein had secured off-campus housing, which “kind of makes my life a little easier,” she said. But she acknowledged that not everyone is in this position. 
“I do have a ton of friends that are now pretty stressed about housing,” Klein said.
Others “in my (housing) group still thought there was a possibility of going abroad because the coronavirus” was not as significant of a concern in their destinations, Harwell said. Since the announcement, he and his friends have adjusted their plans for housing next year.
Ede-Osifo found a perk to her new housing situation. “ I was kind of worried about the uncertainty of (being pulled into a spring housing group) because I just don’t really know much about the … process,” she said. “Now I’m kind of happy that … I could actually live with my friends if the fall does happen on campus.” 
Syed also said she “wasn’t as stressed” because she was able to arrange a housing plan after her program got canceled early. “They’re now letting me go through the housing lottery, and they were honestly very accomodating,” she said.
Predicting spring study abroad program prospects 
Despite the suspension of study abroad during the fall, the OIP “( remains) optimistic about the ability to offer study abroad programs next spring and (encourages) students to continue exploring study abroad options during that semester,” according to the email sent to students. As such, undergraduates can elect to defer their applications to the spring or a later semester and will not need to resubmit new applications to do so. 
Students were told that they would have to decide whether they wanted to keep their application for the spring semester by October 1, according to Ede-Osifo.
Although this may lead to more study abroad applicants in the spring — a semester which already typically sees more applicants than the fall — Brostuen and Alexander wrote that they “ are confident that we can accommodate continued growth, in part because of our many program offerings and our strong partnerships with international partner universities and program providers.” Given the atypical circumstances, “it is too early to predict the size or makeup of our Spring 2021 study abroad cohort,” they added.
But not everyone’s intended programs or schedules may be able to accommodate the shift to the spring semester. 
Although most of the University’s study abroad programs are offered during both semesters, “there are a handful of programs that are only offered as full-year programs or spring only,” Brostuen and Alexander wrote. 
Harwell is now considering programs for summer 2021 because he still needs to take several classes on campus in the spring. But he is also still uncertain whether “study abroad will be a manageable possibility in the future.” 
Athletic commitments pose another barrier to deferring applications to the spring. As a member of the water polo team, a spring sport, Klein “really can’t go abroad at all” now unless she were to take a break from school in the fall and study abroad in the summer, although she fears that this would become a “logistical nightmare.” 
Likewise, Syed remains unsure because she has squash nationals during the spring. “That’s something I don’t want to miss, so I think for me personally, I would probably not defer,” she said. 
Depending on what transpires in the coming months, Ede-Osifo is also questioning whether she will study abroad at a later time. Previously, she had not thought that one semester away would detract from her college experiences, but given the circumstances and the looming possibility of a virtual fall semester, “ it kind of feels weird to go from being just barely a sophomore to coming back on campus as possibly a senior and having only two semesters left,” she said. 
The University will continue to keep an eye on the situation at home and abroad and adjust plans for spring programs if necessary. “ITRAC will continue to monitor CDC and DOS advisories, consult as needed with other education abroad and travel safety colleagues and professional organizations, and make an informed recommendation this fall,” Brostuen and Alexander wrote. 
“We will convey any decisions with as much advance notice as possible,” the IOP wrote. ”

Letter: Student Governance and the Class Coordinating Board
by Brown Daily Herald
May 15, 2020
“To the Editor:
The Undergraduate Council of Students has and will always welcome input and collaboration from all students and student groups on our campus.
UCS greatly appreciates the Class Coordinating Board’s important community-building work and interest in joining student government. All student groups wishing to explore what it means to become student government or the official process for doing so should meet with the Student Activities Office to understand options including:
Remaining a student group categorized by UCS
Becoming a SAO departmental group
Joining student government
As defined by the student body in 1976, any group including CCB which is looking to become officially recognized as a part of student government can do so through the democratic process of amending the Brown student government constitution . As formal changes to the University governance system have long-term impacts on the student body, among other steps, a two-thirds majority of undergraduate support via a campus-wide referendum is required. UCS is happy to meet with, guide and support all groups interested in any of the above.
This fall, UCS was excited to run first-year elections with CCB to streamline voting processes. However, a shorter time span, larger scope and significant accessibility improvements did not give UCS and the Undergraduate Finance Board the capacity to integrate an additional organization during our main spring elections. Regular operations for the 44th annual UCS/UFB elections were followed as outlined in our bylaws and elections code . Neither of these elections represented a formal change to student governance, change in student group status or a value decision about any other organization.
As CCB has not undergone the democratic process for becoming student government, a previous op-ed inaccurately labels CCB’s official categorization, referring to its status on BearSync as “student governance” rather than its historical categorization as a “campus services and events” group. While at the time of writing, CCB is listed as student governance, this change to registration status didn’t go through the formal process from the UCS Student Activities Committee and SAO. SAO is investigating what happened to correct the issue.
We encourage anyone interested in learning more about the history of student government at Brown or UCS/CCB relations to review more information here . As we collectively face this pandemic, UCS’s priority is supporting students through COVID-19 and the school year. We are currently working on initiatives including wellness guides, our Health@Home series and advocating for increased student voice.
— UCS Executive Board: William Zhou ’20, Jason Carroll ’21, Melissa Lee ’20, Shivani Nishar ’20, Summer Dai ’22, Livingstone Harriott ’20, Alex Song ’20, Samuel Caplan ’22, Zanagee Artis ’22, Eamon McKeever ’22, Joon Nam ’23 and Zane Ruzicka ’23”

New Title IX regulations will change how Brown responds to sexual misconduct cases
by Brown Daily Herald
May 13, 2020
“On May 6, the U.S. Department of Education released long-awaited regulations that will change how schools can address complaints of sexual misconduct on college campuses under Title IX. 
Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding.”
The new Title IX guidelines require colleges to hold live hearings during cases of alleged sexual misconduct and narrow the legal definition of sexual misconduct, limiting which incidents academic institutions are required to act upon. The regulations also allow colleges to use a higher standard of proof than was previously required in sexual misconduct cases. During live hearings, the guidelines now permit the cross-examination of all witnesses — including the complainant and the respondent. 
Unlike previous Obama-era Title IX guidelines, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ final regulations carry the full force of the law. Colleges are required to comply with the new ruling by August 14.
The initial draft of the Title IX regulations — which were proposed by the DeVos in November 2018 — elicited over 120,000 public comments from individuals and institutions during a 60-day public comment period. President Christina Paxson P’19 submitted a public comment on behalf of the University in January 2019 and recommended several changes to the proposed Title IX regulations, The Herald previously reported . 
A number of requirements in the final Title IX regulations will result in changes to the University’s current policies and procedures surrounding sexual misconduct complaints, Paxson wrote in a Today@Brown announcement May 7. 
For example, the requirements could impact how the University defines sexual harassment, Paxson said. The new Title IX regulations use the Supreme Court’s definition of sexual harassment, which is unwelcome conduct that is “so severe , pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access.” Under the Obama administration, sexual harassment was more broadly defined as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”
Under the new definition, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking would constitute sexual harassment, said Rene Davis, the University’s Title IX program officer.  Previously, these behaviors were not explicitly included in the DOE’s definition of sexual harassment. 
The new definition “really changes the threshold that (a complainant) would have to establish in order to say that something created a hostile environment,” Davis said. “A lot of people in advocacy groups feel like the standard around sexual harassment has been raised so high so that no one is ever able to meet that standard.” 
The University can “hold people accountable” even if their actions do not reach the level of creating a hostile environment, Davis said. “These regulations are really pushing us to think about bad behavior and discriminatory conduct and how an institution is going to respond to both,” she said, adding that behaviors which do not meet the standard of discriminatory conduct could still be addressed through a “process for problematic and inappropriate behavior.”
The new regulations also require colleges to hold live hearings during which complainants and respondents may be submitted to a live cross-examination by students’ advisors or legal counsel. Institutions must guarantee that both parties may retain an advisor without a monetary cost to either party. 
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the University’s formal Title IX complaint process included a live hearing during which the accused and accuser were placed in separate rooms and remotely connected to the hearing through Zoom. Davis added that the remote format of the live hearing is a “trauma-informed best practice” that ensures equitable access to the hearing while respecting that it may be triggering for either party to be in the same room. 
Following the submission of a written complaint to the University, the Title IX office appoints an impartial investigator to interview witnesses and gather information on the sexual misconduct complaint. Once an investigation report is finalized, a three-member hearing panel convenes to ask questions related to the investigation report and reach a decision, based on majority vote, on whether the respondent has violated University policy. Under the University’s current procedures, a party’s legal counsel is not allowed to participate in the live hearing.
The University currently uses paper-based cross-examinations to allow the complainant and respondent to present additional information before the investigator’s report is finalized. This process directly conflicts with the new regulations, which allow for a student’s attorney to cross-examine parties and witnesses involved during the live hearing. 
These new cross-examination standards could discourage people from reporting cases of sexual misconduct because “many survivors are really traumatized by the idea of having to face their abuser again, especially in a legal setting,” Anchita Dasgupta ’21 told The Herald. 
Another aspect of the new regulations allows educational institutions to select one of two standards of evidence — the “preponderance of evidence” standard or the “clear and convincing evidence” standard — but stipulates that the same standard must be used across all disciplinary proceedings for students, faculty and staff. 
The University currently employs a preponderance of evidence standard — in which more than 50 percent of evidence must point to a conduct violation — when deciding the outcomes of all disciplinary proceedings, including sexual misconduct or other breaches of community standards, Davis said. The “clear and convincing evidence” standard would set a higher burden of proof.
DeVos’ new rule also changes the scope of sexual misconduct incidents upon which colleges are required to act. Institutions must address complaints of misconduct that occur within an educational program, including off-campus housing for recognized Greek life organizations. But colleges may still “address sexual harassment affecting its students or employees that falls outside Title IX’s jurisdiction in any manner the school chooses,” according to the regulation. 
The University will still have discretion in other aspects of its sexual misconduct proceedings, Paxson wrote. For example, the regulations “retain a school’s ability to choose to offer informal resolution options, including restorative justice and other remedy-based approaches to resolving complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence,” she wrote. Paxson added that the University will seek input from the Brown community on key decisions where Brown will have discretion.
Given empirical evidence that sexual misconduct is already underreported on college campuses, DeVos’ ruling could exacerbate the persistence of this problem, Dasgupta said. The Obama administration’s Title IX guidance “was not enough to make people feel secure on campuses and this new law is a step in the wrong direction,” she added, “it’s taking away the agency from survivors.” 
In light of the new regulations, the University will remain “committed to a process that is equitable, responsive to the needs of both parties and inclusive, and it is that commitment that will guide us as we consider the specific implications of the final regulations for our campus,” Paxson wrote to the community. 
Paxson added that the University will “be sensitive to any change that would deter students from reporting incidents of sexual misconduct, an area in which the Brown community has made progress in recent years.” ”

Former football standout James Develin ’10 announces NFL retirement
by Brown Daily Herald
May 11, 2020
“Former Brown football star James Develin ’10 announced his retirement from the National Football League in April after eight years of playing for the New England Patriots. Develin captured three Super Bowl rings and became the first Patriots fullback since Sam Cunningham in 1978 to earn Pro Bowl honors. 
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, winner of six Super Bowls, offered high praise to Develin.
“To some people, James Develin may be ‘unsung’ in terms of publicity and fame, but to his coaches and teammates he is one of the most appreciated and respected players we have ever had,” Belichick wrote in a press release . “Any team would be fortunate to have a James Develin-‘type’ on its roster but the reality is he is a rarity and we are very fortunate he was a Patriot.”
Develin stood out as an elite player from the beginning of his 25-year football career. He was born in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania and began playing football at seven. From the start, Develin planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue football at the collegiate level. He attended Boyertown Area Senior High School where he was named team captain and Most Valuable Player. After receiving interest from top football programs across the country, Develin chose to attend Brown. 
“From the first interaction with the Brown coaches, I knew that they were people I could look up to and that they would teach me not only the game of football, but how to grow as a man,” Develin told The Herald. “And they did that.”
While at Brown, Develin made an immediate impact playing as a defensive end . As a first-year, he earned a spot on the varsity travel roster and recorded his first career sack. The following year, Develin was ranked first in the Ivy League and 34th in the nation in tackles. His junior year, Brown Football captured the Ivy League Championship. 
Develin’s noteworthy career for the Bears culminated in 2009 All-New England All-Star Team honors. 
Head Coach James Perry ’00, who was a quarterbacks coach at Brown while Develin was on the team, said that Develin had a large impact on his coaches and teammates. “He was a tremendous leader, a brilliant kid and the most competitive person,” Perry said. “Every defensive lineman that goes to Brown models himself after James Develin.”
When Develin graduated in 2010 with a degree in mechanical engineering, he had garnered many accomplishments at the collegiate level, but there appeared to be a low probability that Develin could establish a successful NFL career after college.
“There were a few guys on the Brown team that were getting NFL looks, and I was probably the least sought-after guy on the team,” Develin said. “I was not that athletically gifted, I wasn’t fast, I wasn’t that big, and I was kind of a tweener because I played defensive line in college, but I was too small to do that in the NFL.”
Still, Develin dreamed of playing in the NFL, so he put his mechanical engineering career on hold to hone his football skills and seek a professional opportunity. When Develin received a Facebook message to try out for the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, a member of the Arena Football League, he flew across the country in hopes that this would be the first step in a professional football career. 
Develin played defense for the Yard Dawgz before signing with the Florida Tuskers, a member of the United Football League. With the Tuskers, he transitioned to offense, playing fullback. Within months, Develin earned his NFL opportunity when he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a member of their practice squad.
“If it’s up to me to make something happen, and all I have to do is work, then I will always try my absolute hardest to put that sweat equity into a dream to make it happen,” Develin said.  “That’s the one thing I can control.”
Develin’s relentless work ethic in the weight room and on the field translated to another chapter of his NFL career. Despite being cut by the Bengals, Develin signed with the Patriots in 2012. He would go on to play 83 regular-season games with 31 starts over seven seasons with New England. As a Patriot, he captured three Super Bowl championships and in 2017, earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. 
Speaking to the media after his retirement, Develin recalled that his favorite moment of his career was in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams, when he cleared a path for running back Sony Michel to score the winning touchdown in the waning minutes of the game. 
“Those of us at Brown are extremely proud of all that he has accomplished,” Athletic Director Jack Hayes told The Herald. “He continues to be a tremendous representative of Brown University, our athletics department and our football program.”
Develin’s passion for the sport of football, coupled with his perseverance, took him on an unforgettable journey. As he hangs up his cleats and looks toward a future outside of professional competition, Develin is confident that the sport will continue to enrich his life.
“Football was my first love. … I have an innate desire to give back to the game of football because it gave me so much these past 25 years,” he said. “I will always step in and pay my respects to Brown because it is such a special place, it will always be with me.””

Graduating seniors to celebrate commencement in-person next May with class of ’21
by Brown Daily Herald
May 07, 2020
“On Sept. 6, 2016, members of the class of 2020 walked through the Van Wickle gates to cheers from faculty, staff, family members and current Brown students as they processed toward the Main Green, where they took in Brown’s 253rd annual convocation. Now, those students will have to wait until May 2021 before they can pass through those famed iron gates once again. 
While the University will hold a “Virtual Degree Conferral Ceremony” for current seniors May 24, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced yesterday in a community-wide email that their official in-person commencement will take place next May alongside the ceremony originally slated for rising seniors in the class of 2021. 
As part of this ceremony , virtual diplomas will be emailed to the graduating class, and students will receive their paper diplomas and a program with the names of the 2020 class in the mail by mid-June. 
Paxson had said she hoped to hold the ceremony in October when she originally postponed this year’s Commencement and Reunion Weekend. But due to public health experts’ predictions that large gatherings still may be prohibited in the fall due to COVID-19, the University decided to delay the ceremony further. 
“Our graduating seniors will have the opportunity to celebrate their Commencement and their first Reunion at the same time,” Paxson wrote in the email.  
When Rebecca Aman ’20, a former Opinions editor for The Herald, opened Paxson’s email about Commencement, her family’s first thoughts about the combined graduation ceremony jumped to snagging hotel arrangements early. Their worries shifted when Aman realized that her sister, now a junior in the class of 2021 at Cornell, could be graduating on the same day. The current academic calendar for Spring 2021 has Commencement scheduled for May 30. 
It was a logistical dilemma her family would not have otherwise anticipated. With a six-hour drive between the two schools, “if they’re literally the same day, my family can’t be in both places,” Aman said. Aman added that she emailed the University to ask whether the 2021 and 2020 ceremonies would be held on the same day, or if they could be held on different days in the weekend. 
Annie He ’20, a computational biology concentrator who transferred to the University during her sophomore year, said that she was initially disappointed that the graduation ceremony was pushed back even later than the postponed October date. But a spring commencement will make it easier for her to return to campus for the ceremony because she will have just finished her first year at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
“I’m definitely excited to go back even if it’s a year later, to just be able to walk through the gates,” He said. 
When the ceremony was originally postponed to October, students were concerned that work could be a barrier to returning to campus. “ It’s hard to get a day off and there’s going to be a problem with housing,” Nathaniel Nguyen ’20 told The Herald at the time. “It’s just going to be chaotic.”
These challenges, along with financial barriers imposed by travel and accommodations, may still be problems for some members of the Class of 2020 in the spring. 
In Paxson’s March 24 email announcing the potential for an October Commencement, she noted that Brown alumni often recount “walking through the Van Wickle Gates and down the hill, with throngs of alumni, faculty and administrators lining the streets and applauding the new graduates.” 
She emphasized that: “All of our 2020 graduating students deserve to have this tremendous experience.”
While He acknowledged that the double ceremony may pose challenges related to lodging and safety due to the large crowds, she said she has “faith in them being able to plan it well, because the Brown Admin is really trying hard to accommodate everyone in the class of 2020.”
For now, He and Aman both plan to watch the virtual ceremony on May 24. 
Aman’s family will watch it together at home. “My mom has a kind of large computer monitor in her office, so we’re going to take it to the living room and watch it,” Aman said. “I get to pick what’s for dinner.” 
When the fall 2016 semester began, keynote speaker Andrew Campbell, dean of the graduate school, asked students at their convocation to celebrate their newfound “link between Brown’s venerable history and our bright, unwritten future” and their capacity to accomplish “remarkable things,” The Herald reported at the time. 
With unprecedented levels of uncertainty, the future the class of 2020 faces remains uniquely unwritten. As graduating students wrap up their studies, turn in final projects and celebrate finished theses, their time as Brown students will come to a close over the next two weeks. The virtual degree ceremony marking the culmination of their years at Brown will be their first official opportunity to celebrate what they have accomplished.”

Phi Beta Kappa elects 110 seniors
by Brown Daily Herald
May 07, 2020
“On April 19 and 20, 110 seniors were elected to the University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, wrote Chapter Administrator Mary Jo Foley ’75 in an email to The Herald. Phi Beta Kappa is one of the oldest academic honors in the country that recognizes “outstanding academic accomplishment in the course of a broad liberal education,” according to the University’s website .
Seniors who are eligible for election must have completed 28 courses within seven semesters on campus with a minimum of 23 classes in which a student receives an A or “S with distinction” by the end of the seventh semester, according to Phi Beta Kappa election procedures . Additionally, two-fifths of these courses must be in the arts, humanities, social sciences and/or pure mathematics. To accept the invitation, students must pay a $135 one-time initiation fee.
In the junior member election in February, 40 members of the class of 2021 were elected to the University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, The Herald previously reported .
Customarily, the election process is held in a lecture hall, where senior chapter members who were elected as juniors last year participate as electors. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ten electors participated in the process over Zoom. In an email to The Herald, Richard Rambuss, chair of the Department of English and president of the Rhode Island Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, wrote that for this year’s election, “(a) line was added to the usual confidentiality agreement: electors promised not to record the meeting.”
Many students were surprised by the news of their election, and said that they had not been actively working toward the Phi Beta Kappa designation while taking classes at the University. 
Anna Hunt ’20 wrote in an email to The Herald that prior to her election, she had not been very aware of the honor and mainly credits her academic success to self-motivation. “I was not actively working towards or thinking about (Phi Beta Kappa) or other distinctions having to do with GPA during my time at Brown,” Hunt wrote.
Brianna McFadden ’20 was also surprised by the news, and had heard of Phi Beta Kappa only from one mention of it on Dear Blueno, a student-run Facebook page that solicits and posts anonymous submissions. After receiving the email notifying her of her election, she had to research the honor. 
Harry Chalfin ’20 said the news has not yet sunken in because he is still occupied with completing his coursework for the semester. “I’m sure that as I actually wind up completing things two weeks from now and all of my work will be over, then I will be able to step back and appreciate the hard work that I’ve done over the last four years,” Chalfin said.
The Rhode Island Alpha chapter has not yet determined how the formal initiation process for this semester will change in light of COVID-19 and the postponement of Commencement for the class of 2020 to next year, Rambuss wrote. 
“Whatever happens, I am very much looking forward to the day when the entire class of 2020 can come back to Brown’s campus and have a proper commencement ceremony and participate in the activities that we normally do during that week and weekend,” Chalfin said.
Those elected are as follows:
Jacob P. Alabab-Moser ’20 (former Herald Senior Staff Writer)
Alexander Alverson ’20
Suzanne Sophia Antoniou ’20
Zahra F. Asghar ’20
Harini Balakrishnan ’20
Paige Daniela Banks ’20
Aliosha Pittaka Bielenberg ’20
Aubrey Anne Calaway ’20
Harry S. Chalfin ’20
Benjamin Patrick Chiacchia ’20
Bu Geun Cho ’20
William Douglas Colwell ’20
Elana Rae Confino-Pinzon ’20
Nicholas Selfridge Conroy ’20
Rachel Amelia Danner ’20
Julian Benedikt DeGeorgia ’20
Noah C. Duncan ’20
Maria Yuvati Eyzaguirre ’20
James M. Feinberg ’20
Gabrielle Maria Ferra ’20
Jared M. Finn ’20
Morgan Yeager Florsheim ’20
Michael Grant Flynn ’20
Kyra Rose Foose ’20
Leah Rose Goldman ’20
Alec Jacob Goldstone ’20
Jonathan L. Gomez ’20
Liam Rayne Greenwell ’20
Connor Gregory ’20
Xingjian Gu ’20
Galen Popolow Hall ’20 (Herald Staff Columnist)
Alexander Kent Harrison ’20
Anna Kathryn Hunt ’20
Rohan Dev Jha ’20
Xiaoyu Jiang ’20
Olivia Sophia Kan-Sperling ’20
Aaron Robert Keeling ’20
Evan Thomas Kindler ’20
Hugh Klein ’20
Zoe Alexandra Koss ’20
James Calvé Kunhardt ’20
Sophie Rae Kupetz ’20
Daniel Louis Kushner ’20
Sofia Nicole La Porta Drago ’20
Victoria Robinson Lansing ’20
Anna Zane Lehman-Ludwig ’20
Weng Yin Isaac Leong ’20
David Dugery Liu ’20
Nathan Chaim Mainster ’20
Jackson Forcier Markey ’20
John Pierre Mayer ’20
Cameron Michael McCartin ’20
Grace Frances McCleary ’20
Claire A. McEwen ’20
Brianna Rose McFadden ’20
John Leeman Metz ’20
Eric Andrew Mischell ’20
Noah Byck Mlyn ’20
Ethan M. Morelion ’20
Aneeqah H. Naeem ’20
John David O’Donnell ’20
Samuel Brown Oliphant ’20
Samuel William Orenstein ’20
Huayu Lulu Ouyang ’20
Christopher Bishop Packs ’20
Jack Brendan Patterson ’20
Ananya Poddar ’20
Sokret Pond ’20
Alexander Kamran Rafatjoo ’20
Blaise C. Rebman ’20
Christina Monique Reed ’20
Emily Lai Rehmet ’20
Bennett Harry Reisner ’20
Jeremy Chung Hoon Rhee ’20
Chloe Anna Joelle Rosenberg ’20
Ella Scholz ’20
Verda Seneor ’20
Calista Shang ’20
Isabel LeMaster Shaw ’20
Anita X. Sheih ’20 (former Herald Senior Editor)
Jonah David Shrock ’20
Shoshana Gayle Simons ’20
Dhruv Singh ’20
Catherine Callahan Steele ’20
Daniel Joseph Steinfeld ’20
Kelley Reesman Tackett ’20 (former Herald Copy Desk Chief)
James Augustine Tango ’20
Jim A. Thompson ’20
Yuan Tian ’20
Galen Tiong ’20
Harriet Louise Tisch ’20
Jenna Lauren Tishler ’20
Jason Charles Togut ’20
Shayna Tien Hsia Toh ’20
Kelsey Rose Turner ’20
Hayley Alexandra Uno ’20
Theodore Aubrey Vial ’20
Joshua Fine Waldman ’20
Sarah Sue Wang ’20 (former Herald Senior Editor)
David Aaron Wingate ’20
Kelvin Wong ’20
Julian Woo ’20
Murong Xu ’20
Xinyue Xu ’20
Ruitian Yan ’20
Amber Yildizel ’20
Glenn Yu ’20
Carmen Emily Zegura ’20
Hanzhang Zhao ’20
Jie Zhou ’20”

Seniors bid farewell to an empty College Hill
by Brown Daily Herald
May 30, 2020
“This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2020
During the Spring Weekend that never was, Jordana Siegel ’20 found herself drawn to the Main Green.
With a group of friends, Siegel walked the Green and played the music of Spring Weekend artists past. Siegel is one of many seniors who opted to stay in Providence — either by choice or necessity — for the last few months of her final semester, remaining in her house on the corner of Power and Brook Streets as other seniors scattered across the country and the world. 
The music, Siegel said, ended up doing little to alleviate the pain of a senior spring that was very different from what she had imagined.
“I don’t find myself going on campus that much,” Siegel admitted. “It reminds me of all that’s been lost, and all the memories that we were supposed to be making.”
According to six seniors interviewed by The Herald, the spring semester that fell apart has been marked by canceled jazz concerts and festivals, incomplete unit wars traditions and hasty goodbyes — with little to fill the void but time at home with housemates and takeout food from old haunts.
No more than 365 students lived in University dorms after campus shut down, The Herald previously reported , and University Spokesperson Brian Clark said that because the University does not own the seniors’ off-campus properties, the number of students who remained in their off-campus houses and apartments is unknown. 
“Our strong preference was for off-campus students in properties not owned by Brown to return to their homes or other locations if possible,” Clark wrote in an email, citing the University’s “limited” ability to support off-campus students, while noting that it remained a personal choice.
Choosing to Stay
For students like Vishie Betapudi ’20, deciding between going home to family and staying on campus came down to figuring out where he wanted to be “stuck indefinitely.” Ultimately, he chose to move from New Dorm to his girlfriend’s apartment on John Street, opting to live with her roommate, dog and two cats rather than return to his home outside Cleveland, Ohio.
Though he had been planning to move in with his partner after graduating, Betapudi said the transition felt somewhat unexpected. Their cohabitation suddenly involved grocery shopping, cooking and remaining safe, with extra care because his partner is immunocompromised.
“Almost every day, I think about what it would have been like if I would have gone home — if I was at home, I would have much less of a burden with all of that,” he said. “It feels like we’ve really had to grow up a lot faster.”
Siegel remained in Providence with eight other fourth-year women after listening to her parents, who thought it would be best to stay. For some who remained in the city, the chance for a final few months with old and important friends kept them on College Hill, while others found it too difficult to return home amid the personal, medical and financial problems wrought by the pandemic.
“I thought it would be nice to get through this strange time with two people that are so important to me,” said Claire Hathaway ’20. 
For Kielan Donahue ’20, academic needs were on her mind when making the decision to stay. In Providence, Donahue explained, she has a room, a kitchen — and some privacy. She knew she couldn’t do schoolwork while with her family “24/7” — especially a final group project for CSCI 1430: “Computer Vision” that she had planned to do with her roommate who also stayed in Providence.
Life in Providence during COVID-19
The first weeks alone on campus proved eerie for many. Some tried to order food from restaurants only to find they had shut for the foreseeable future, while others mourned the loss of former favorite study spots like libraries and coffee shops.
“The shell of campus is there, but you can’t enter and none of the people you know are there,” Donahue said.
The seniors still on campus found virtual learning to be even more peculiar; many of their professors lectured from their classrooms or homes just miles away, but they could only meet as a class virtually. 
“Everything you do reminds you of the reality of the situation,” Betapudi said. “If I’m sitting in a class a couple blocks away from Brown but I can’t actually be in class at Brown, it’s surreal. It’s jarring.”
At home, keeping busy has proved to be its own challenge. For Naomy Pedroza ’20, one solution was the occasional “socially distant bonfire.” Siegel’s household found solace in getting takeout about once a week, celebrating a roommate’s birthday and enjoying evening activities like a “mall night,” during which her housemates all shopped from clothes that the others had decided they no longer wanted.
But despite the effort to make home more enjoyable, remaining inside has had its mental costs.
“Time seems really meaningless lately,” Hathaway said. “The way in which time goes by seems incredibly distressing and nonexistent.”
Losses and Uncertainty
As graduation approaches and leases end, the usual string of events during senior spring have failed to follow. 
For Donahue, losing the opportunity to relive freshman unit wars stung: One friend of hers had kept their unit’s banner for the last four years, intending to replicate the human pyramid from their first week on campus, down to the last limb.
Siegel had long looked forward to senior week, and to a Spring Weekend with all her friends who had returned from study abroad. 
Betapudi lost his senior year jazz band concert, as well as the ability to go to all of his other music friends’ final concerts.
And then there were the goodbyes: rushed and uncertain, without hugs and often over Facetime for friends who did not live in the same house.
“There was certainly a lot of denial that this might be the last time we see each other for many years, especially international friends who were going home to countries that were closing borders,” Siegel said. 
For many students, graduating brings with it many uncertainties. With unemployment levels at the highest they have been since the Great Depression — 14.7 percent as of April — many students have found themselves scrambling for jobs in an uncertain market. “I’m still furiously applying for jobs; hospitals will still be open. I’m on LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake five times a day,” Betapudi said.
Silver Linings
While their final semester is not what they had in mind, some seniors have tried their best to find silver linings in what has been an extremely difficult couple of months.
For Mika Shevchenko ’20, quarantining has brought with it an opportunity to explore her passion for cooking. “I decided to start a cooking blog on Instagram for my friends,” she said. “That was the big thing that kept me going throughout quarantine.”
Others, like Pedroza, have found value in taking a step back from their busy schedules and enjoying the company of their housemates. 
One “friend said that, if you think about it, we would not have been able to see each other often in senior spring under normal circumstances, because we run on completely different schedules,” Pedroza said. “This spring we were able to just be with each other — that was a nice silver lining.”
Despite the effects of COVID-19 on their final semester, this experience reminded many why the Brown community is so special. COVID-19 “has brought so many people closer together,” said Shevchenko. “You see how resilient the Brown community can be, how encouraging it can be, and how people just responded with kindness.”
“As a graduating senior, I am coming back to why I applied early decision, and that’s the fact that (Brown is) such a wonderful community, and I have never felt like people were anything but supportive,” Hathaway said. “It’s honestly such a wholesome place. I’m thankful — I’m very thankful.”
Correction: A previous version of this article named Kielan Donahue ’20 as a design editor, when she is not. The Herald regrets the error.”

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