September 14, 2023 Issue

Vassar College's student newspaper of record since 1866

Volume 160 | Issue 3 | September 14, 2023 |

Welcome to the Miscellany News' weekly email newsletter! Each week's articles will be delivered right to your inbox. If you know of anyone who would be interested in receiving this service, please share it with them at this link.
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  
Click here for a PDF copy (complete with crossword!) of this week's Miscellany News.

Dining workers express concerns over changes

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

JYOTSNA NAIDU | In January 2023, Vassar College’s dining service, Bon Appétit Management Company, received an engineer’s report detailing kitchen safety concerns, according to one dining worker who asked to remain anonymous. While staff had submitted reports of the Retreat kitchen's unsafe ventilation system for two years, operations continued throughout. Over the summer, another report detailed a missing firewall that made the kitchen unsafe in which to cook. According to worker testimonials, the kitchen repairs are yet to begin, reflecting a pattern of cost-cutting.

“I’m not surprised that the kitchen went under, we were overworking it,” a second anonymous longtime dining worker said. They added that the Retreat was built for a capacity of 400 but averaged 1200 customers a day. The overuse of the fryer to meet excess demand led to heat buildup and parts of the fryer melting, the first worker said.

Students struggle with extreme weather

EMMA ADAMS | As students returned to campus in late August, the traditional first-week heat wave smothered Vassar. But as August melted into September, the high temperatures did not cease. 

The National Weather Service issued an official heat advisory for Dutchess County beginning last Friday, Sept. 8. With highs over the weekend reaching 98 degrees, the advisory included information regarding the Heat Index. The Heat Index factors air temperature with humidity to calculate how uncomfortable a person might feel with these two forces, producing a value in degrees Fahrenheit. The Town of Wappinger reported that the Heat Index peaked on Saturday, reaching a whopping 111 degrees. Heat waves continued through Sunday and finally broke down by Monday.

Image courtesy of Freddie von Siemens '25.


White noise, candy, and Truisms: Discussing 'Body Matters'

Julia Pippenger/The Miscellany News.

JULIA PIPPENGER | Professions go in and out of vogue as quickly as skirt lengths. These days, being a curator is all the rage. Step into Taylor Hall and one will surely find an art history major dreaming of a degree in Curatorial Studies or a fellowship at the Guggenheim. Curation is a necessary function of any artistic space, a tool to contextualize and historicize works of art. The artistically minded practice curation each day, whether constructing a sandwich or choosing between loafers and boots. Everyone can curate; anyone who wishes to should be afforded the opportunity.

Last semester, the Art Department and the Loeb offered an independent study that brought curation within reach for a small group of students. The course was part of the Loeb’s show, What Now? (Or Not Yet), an exhibition that juxtaposed older, renowned pieces with new works, primarily from artists of marginalized identities. Under the leadership of John Murphy, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Loeb, students collaborated on a total “re-curation” of the show, titling it “Body Matters.”

Analyzing Summer of Barbenheimer

Sophia Kim/The Miscellany News.

CATHERINE BORTHWICK | This summer, blockbuster films “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” took the world by storm by sharing a release date, and thus participating in a dual marketing campaign that consumers took it upon themselves to create. The term “Barbenheimer,” which emerged on the internet when the films were first announced, refers not only to the shared release of the films, but also to the phenomenon in which moviegoers would attend a double feature of the films.

While Barbenheimer inevitably invited a feuding comparison between the two movies, their mutual hype also invoked a cultural phenomenon that has been nearly rendered obsolete in the last decade: shared media literacy. Among the boundless landscape of streaming services and thousands upon thousands of movies and TV shows, it has become increasingly more difficult for consumers to relate to each other in regards to digital media over the dinner table. (Herein lies the genius of the Netflix Original, one piece of high value media marketed over all others in order to create a shared experience among viewers – think the release of Stranger Things IV last summer).

Stevie Nicks' solo concert was from my 'Dreams'

EMMA LAWRENCE | As the lights dimmed on a humid May evening in Orlando, Florida, thousands of eager fans gathered in anticipation. Stevie Nicks was about to take the stage. The former Fleetwood Mac singer started performing solo in 1981 with her “White Winged Dove Tour,” boasting the lyrics from the beloved song “Edge of Seventeen.” “Bella Donna,” her debut album after leaving the band, topped the Billboard 200 that same year, and her music career has never been the same since.

Emma Lawrence/The Miscellany News.

'Bottoms' tops other teen comedies

CIARA MCINTYRE | On Aug. 5, my friend and I found ourselves at the AMC Boston Common once again; we had Barbenheimered at that very place just two weeks prior. But on this particular Saturday evening, we were Bottoming.

“Bottoms” follows best friends PJ and Josie as they begin a self-defense club under the guise of promoting female empowerment and solidarity. The reality is: they are both lesbians in their senior year of high school, stereotypically obsessed with losing their virginities to their respective cheerleader crushes for whom the club is targeted. In “Bottoms,” Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott co-star for the first time outside of the low budget sketch-comedies they wrote together in the past. The high-energy, teen movie status of “Bottoms” makes the action film the perfect territory for a necessary feature-length comedy to exhibit the incredible chemistry of the pair to more audiences.


On my first weeks at Vassar

HANNAH FORD | From the sweltering summer morning I dragged my whole life into that tiny dorm room until today, two weeks later, I have experienced the best and worst days of my life. My newfound freedom has become a blessing and a curse. I get to do nothing all day without worrying about my parents coming up over my shoulder to complain. I spend my weekends alone in the library, unsure of how to spend my time. I walk into the Deece, find a quiet corner, and once again put my headphones on to eat alone. I go from class to class, smiling and giggling when my professor lets me look at a rare moth. I sit on a bench and sob while it pours, unsure of what I am doing and why I am here. I sit with my student fellow group and watch “Jennifer’s Body.” I curl up under the covers of my far-too-tall bed and cry while ignoring the stranger on the other side of my room. I have no friends and far too many textbooks. I drink more coffee than is safe and ignore the pit in my chest when I think about how lonely I am. I sweat through my clothes and then shiver in the library. 

How New York brought out the Texan in me

Image courtesy of Presha Kandel '27.

PRESHA KANDEL | I’m currently listening to country music. Growing up in a Texas town probably should have made me a long-time country music fan, but the surprising thing is, I began listening the first week of college. I have always been a mainstream pop fan––I would detest when country music was played in grocery stores, on the radio or at the doctor’s office. Any music was better than country music.

But after the first day of classes, I found myself looking for songs that described the knot of emotions I was feeling. I felt like talking to someone but I was not yet close to anyone. My hometown friends were not answering my texts fast enough. I was left to feel my emotions alone, so I decided to play Alex Roe’s “Finally Home” from the movie Forever My Girl. The upbeat guitar, banjo and drums fool you into thinking it is the perfect song to dance to with a cowgirl hat and boots. You almost miss the lyrics “But now I'm turning back the tide/ I didn't realize how far I'd gone.” Because I in fact did not— the immense greenery on Vassar’s campus deceives me into thinking I am still in my small Texas town. I think about going home at times and realize that home is 1,700 miles away.

Professor Pearlman speaks on the gender wage gap

Image courtesy of Vassar College.

YAKSHA GUMMADAPU | On Aug. 30, five female Vassar professors filed a lawsuit against Vassar College, claiming wage discrimination based on gender over the course of many years. Once I navigated all the Deece-booth rumors and Fizz discourse, as well as the actual articles that broke the news, I was immediately thrown back into problem-set mode. I was trying to look for data and metrics that could help me make sense of the gender wage gap on campus the same way we had for different occupations when I took ECON 206: “Gender Issues in Economics” with Professor Sarah Pearlman, the Chair of the Economics Department, last semester.

The Anthropology Department welcomes Professor Sajadian

Image courtesy of China Sajadian.

ALLISON LOWE | Vassar recently hired over a dozen new tenure-track professors in various departments. One of these new professors is China Sajadian in the Anthropology Department, whose research broadly focuses on displacement, economic anthropology and conflicts over land in the Middle East. I had the pleasure of meeting with Professor Sajadian and getting to learn more about her work and career. 

This is Sajadian’s first semester at Vassar, following a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in Anthropology at Smith College. Sajadian is currently teaching ANTH 240: “Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa” and ANTH 360: “Anthropology of Displacement, Migration, and Transnationalism.” She is excited to be working at a liberal arts college, where she is able to enjoy the close-knit atmosphere and the opportunity to mentor students closely.

Cognitive Science Department welcomes Professor Flusberg

Image courtesy of Vassar College.

CAROLINE ROBINSON | Meet Stephen Flusberg, Vassar’s newest tenure-track cognitive science professor. Flusberg grew up in a suburb of Boston and went to public high school, where, in his own words, “[He] acted (poorly) in a couple of school plays and played on the ultimate frisbee team (we lost in the national finals my senior year).” His high school’s claim to fame is that Matt LeBlanc went there and Matt Damon's father coached the baseball team. Flusberg attended Northwestern University for undergrad where, after entering college having no idea what he wanted to study or do after graduation, he took an introductory psychology class, fell in love with the subject and ended up double-majoring in Psychology and Religion.


Bathroom crimes reach 36-year high

Nicholas Tillinghast/The Miscellany News.

OLIVER STEWART | As the 2023-24 school year kicks into gear, authorities have expressed concern over an unprecedented rise in bathroom-related criminal activity at Vassar College, including cubby thefts, failure to flush and leaving large amounts of hair in the shower. Although the Office of Safety and Security declined to share specific bathroom crime-related statistics, they did confirm that they have been receiving record numbers of reports, and several students spoke anonymously to The Miscellany News to share their stories.

Charles Darwin perplexed by Vassar laundry

Image courtesy of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy / HMS Beagle.

CHARLES DARWIN | Upon reports of a secretive band of humans interacting with highly-advanced underground industrial machinery beneath Vassar, my crew members began to investigate. 

We dug for hours through an uninhabited stretch of land beneath the main corridor, facing scorching heat, foul smells, limited access to sunlight and pestering sounds from a pipe that dripped what we could only presume was water from the ceiling. After the 45th hour of our dig, our geologist stumbled upon the hallowed site of popular legend and, in awe, presented to us a half a dozen state-of-the-art, sleek mechanical formations that glistened like rubies in an otherwise dismal location.

Lost phone, where is it at?

JOSIE WENNER | Last weekend, my roommate Maria lost her phone. One moment, it was in her back pocket, and the next, gone. This was her origin story. Her spider bite. Haven’t you ever wondered what led Sherlock Holmes to be the man in the deerstalker hat?

I’ll spare you the harrowing details—the fruitless googling, the questioning of the meaning of the iOS alerts she was emailed, the hours spent searching in the grass. She was unable to log into her Moodle account because she couldn’t do two-factor verification with Duo Mobile. I would take a break from scrolling on my phone at night to look across the room and see her, scrolling on her computer and looking sad. She used my phone to call her parents and do her Snapchat streaks. People talk about the thousand-yard stare of soldiers after combat, but they never bring up the fourteen-foot stare of a girl without a phone.

Ramen expert DESTROYS Express ramen

JUSTYN COOKE | Instant ramen, cup-a-noodles or just “a cup noodle”—whatever name it’s given, the simple packet or cup of instant ramen is an absolute staple food for college students and anyone who values cheap, quick-to-prepare and moderately tasty stuff. These are undeniable truths. It is thus quite ironic that ramen in its traditional, non-instant form as found in restaurants can be rather pricey, but being such a robust meal there, it makes sense. A “proper” ramen dish is filling, tasty and nutritionally diverse: not just noodles and broth, but rather topped with meat—pork, steak, chicken, fish, eggs (eggs are a bit like proto-meat)—and loads of vegetables—carrot, mushrooms, peas, bok choy, cabbage, maybe spinach, peppers, chives, onion and green/spring onion, seaweed—and whatever added sauces one might desire. This is why some instant ramen brands include bits of carrot or peas and flecks of herbs, the addition echoing the instant version’s bountiful ancestor.

Nicholas Tillinghast/The Miscellany News.

Allen's guide to campus walkin' for dumbasses

Nicholas Tillinghast/The Miscellany News.

ALLEN HALE | Getting from point A to point B smoothly is one of life’s simplest joys. However, the chaos of being a campus walker can make navigating Vassar feel like a small-liberal-arts-college gladiator pit. As your tour guide, I can offer the necessary wisdom to ease your walking problems, even if it won’t make Skinner Hall feel any closer.

Our journey starts with (Un)Central Receiving. The misleading name of this decentralized location only scratches the surface of its faults. Students receiving packages that could have gone to the Mailroom find this non-centralized institute to be of great importance, yet it is in the furthest armpit of campus; I dare not mention the depraved isolation of New Hackensack (whatever the hell that is). At peak hours, students wait cluelessly in lines that branch out chaotically like the head of a hydra, resulting in a hectic cramble. It's best to just cower in the corner until you see your package carried out. Although the seclusion of this center for anti-centralization seems rough, our descent through the circles of Vassar Walking Hell has only just begun. Eat your heart out, Dante.

Don't forget to read your weekly Horoscope!

Letter to the Editor: President Bradly responds to community concerns on lawsuit

ELIZABETH BRADLEYI want to thank The Misc for their coverage of the lawsuit recently filed against Vassar and address the community about this concern.

The faculty members who made these claims are highly valued members of our community and integral to the quality of education at Vassar. I am grateful for their ongoing commitment and dedication to the students and to their education and research activities.

The matters raised by the lawsuit are important. Vassar has always been committed to gender equality and seeks to promote equity in all that it does. Given our shared values, I imagine that these claims can be unsettling and leave many people in the community feeling confused, angry or hurt.

Letter to the Editor: Professors speak on President's response

WOMEN PROFESSORS OF VASSAR COLLEGE | First, we want to thank The Miscellany News for the thoughtful, careful report of the class action gender discrimination lawsuit brought against Vassar by five of our colleagues on their own behalf and on behalf of a class of female full professors. The article was factual, balanced and extremely clear.

We also write to respond to President Bradley’s recent “Letter to the Editor,” which appears to misstate the role of faculty-led committees in setting faculty salaries. The role of the Faculty Appointments and Salary Committee, to which President Bradley refers, is set forth in our governing documents (FASC, see The Governance, pp. 50-51 online version). Quite plainly, FASC does not set starting salaries and has no knowledge of individual faculty salaries at all. Even with respect to merit reviews, FASC merely makes descriptive (not monetary) recommendations (Faculty Handbook beginning on p. 105, online version), such as “distinction” and “high merit,” but the Dean of Faculty and the President have the power to override merit recommendations and have done so in the past.

Letter to the Editor: Reflections of a (former) student leader

LEONARD VERSOLA | ​​The transition from high school to college is fraught with challenges and culture shocks as one navigates new environments, new people and newfound independence while simultaneously developing and negotiating with one’s sense of cultural awareness and morality. This transition is markedly different for students who come from marginalized backgrounds and communities. One of the largest culture shocks I experienced was navigating a primarily white and wealthy institution, especially coming from a low-income immigrant household and a culturally diverse high school. Vassar was not a place people like me often found themselves in, despite the institution’s many diversity and inclusion initiatives to recruit students from backgrounds similar to mine. 

Vassar lawsuit calls campus community to action

BRITT ANDRADE | ​​Vassar College is being sued for gender-based wage inequality. Yes, you read that correctly. This historically women’s college, an institution that prides itself on diversity, equity and inclusion, is being sued for not paying its women professors at a comparable rate to their masculine-inclined counterparts. There are several things I would like to say about this topic, which I will cover more in depth later in my article, but here is the summary. First, I am not surprised. Women across almost every industry have been saying for decades that they are underpaid, so while upsetting, this is just further evidence that women’s voices are not heard without a litigation megaphone. Second, I love this school and its community, so I am hopeful that the Board of Trustees will get its act together and correct this problem. If they do not, I certainly hope that the students, faculty, staff and alumnae/i community will make their opinions heard. Third, if our professors are facing wage discrimination and being underpaid, what does that mean for everyone else who works on this campus? How does pay compare in every other aspect of the campus? Fourth and finally, this is not only a Vassar College issue. This is a product of a society that undervalues women and penalizes us for being mothers and workers while simultaneously demanding every inch of our labor with a smile, including in higher education. This is a systemic problem that is on the Vassar news cycle now but could move anywhere in the country next. To prevent this from continuing, it is going to take more than Vassar fixing its pay scales. But Vassar is as good a place to start as any.


NFL season begins with high drama

HENRY FRANCE | From the moment the confetti fell at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona and the Kansas City Chiefs emerged victorious over the Philadelphia Eagles, winning their second Super Bowl in five years, the interim was anything but uneventful. From record-breaking contracts to blockbuster signings, this past offseason teed up the 103rd NFL season to be unlike any other. Now, this season boasts both new powerhouses excited to show what they can do and established organizations anxious to finally take home the Lombardi trophy, ongoing contract negotiation dramatics, and rookies ready to make a splash. 

When Week One finally arrived, it did not disappoint. On Thursday night, the Detroit Lions spoiled the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl celebration at Arrowhead Stadium. While Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell said he expected his team to win, not many outside of the Lions organization did. The first game of the season was evidence that as great as Patrick Mahomes is, he cannot do it all for the Chiefs, who were without tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones—two of the best players in the league at their respective positions. Still, the Chiefs had a chance to win, but they let it slip away, primarily through the hands of wide receiver Kadarius Toney, who failed to make numerous important catches that should be routine for an NFL wideout. With no clear favorite, the Lions could make some noise in the available NFC North.

Nebraska women’s volleyball breaks world record

NICK VILLAMIL | Last week, the scene at the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium seemed rather familiar. As “Sirius”—the Alan Parsons Project hit popularized by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls—played, all attention was on the large stadium display screens where the Nebraska Cornhuskers could be seen exiting their locker room and walking toward the field. A closed door with a large red Nebraska logo that the team would soon emerge from and faux subtle smoke circulating around it seemed to taunt anticipating fans who understood just how close their summer-long wait was to ending.

To many, the end of summer means the return of college football, which is traditionally one of the greatest sources of school and state pride in the United States. In Nebraska, one of 13 states with no major professional sports franchises, the arrival of their collegiate team means all the more. Every fall, they flock to the stadium and electrify it with palpable excitement as they await the grand entrance of their favorite team.


Posts les plus consultés de ce blog

Chris Ramsey can take the heat, but what would relegation for QPR mean for black managers in the Premier League?

'Game of Thrones' gave fans of Missandei and Grey Worm something to love tonight