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The Miscellany News reported that former Vassar professor and coach Betty Richey had been named to Lacrosse Magazine’s All-Century team. A member of the Vassar faculty from 1937 until her retirement in 1978, Richey held the record of 21 consecutive years as an All-American lacrosse player and was once cited as the country’s greatest lacrosse player. She was a member of the U. S. Field Hockey Association Reserve and All-America teams for 20 years, and she was a co-founder in 1965 of the Intercollegiate Women’s Squash Championship.

In 1995, when Katherine Allabough ’69 was among the first woman players named to the College Squash Association’s Hall of Fame, Richey, who died in 1988, was among the first woman coaches to be so honored.

The college established the annual Betty Richey Field Hockey Tournament at the time of her retirement.

Dutch-born architect, urbanist and architectural theorist Rem Koolhaas delivered an illustrated lecture, “Another Profession,” before a standing-room only audience in Taylor Hall. The first lecturer in the Agnes Rindge Claflin Lecture Series, Koolhaas was founder of the architectural firm Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and the author of two influential studies of contemporary urban design, Delirious New York: A Retrospective Manifesto of Manhattan (1978) and S.M.L.XL (1998). Wrting in The Miscellany News, Lauren Arana praised the architect’s “liberal use of visual schemes, which were essentially high-tech teaching aids. The combined photography, text, charts, symbols and distorted images to explain in literal terms the point he was making…. The slides became works of art themselves, combining top quality photographs and technology with ingenious symbols and captions. Koolhaas presented his work and his diagrams with an enthusiasm that was both confident and modest…. It required a suspension of disbelief on more than one occasion when he described his sometimes far-fetched urban proposals, but there was that was ultimately convincing and trustworthy about his personality that made the audience obliged to do so.”

The distinguished art historian and director of the Vassar Art Gallery Agnes Rindge Claflin first taught at Vassar 1921. Returning after masters and doctoral studies at Radcliffe, she taught at Vassar from 1923 until her retirement in 1965. Her extensive and influential association with modernist artists and collectors and with the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) was reflected in both the teaching and curriculum of the art department and the gallery’s acquisitions and programming during her time at the college.

Peter Kwong, professor of Asian American studies and urban affairs and planning at Hunter College, spoke in Sanders Auditorium on illegal Chinese immigrants in the United States. Professor Kwong’s research in Forbidden Workers: Illegal Chinese Immigrants and American Labor (1999)—interviews with immigrant workers, their families in China, activists, Chinese-American bosses and human smugglers—was regarded as a most reliable guide to a startling instance of “modern slavery” in America.

Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity at the University of Chicago, lectured in Sanders Auditorium on “Apocalypticism and Mysticism.” A preeminent scholar of mysticism in Western Christian thought, Professor McGinn published Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages in 1979, and he was co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism (1999). His The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism, 1200-1350, the third of a projected five-volume study of Christian mysticism in the West, appeared in 1990.

Promoting Equality and Community Everywhere (P.E.A.C.E) sponsored its annual Equal Rights Awareness Week, offering workshops and events, including an exhibition of children’s art in the College Center—pictures from elementary school student participants in the P.E.A.C.E. mentoring program. The young artists were entertained at a cookies and juice reception by the Barefoot Monkeys, Vassar’s interactive juggling, fire-dancing, free-from acrobatic troupe. Some 175 local high school students also joined in workshops led by such groups as Boston’s United for a Fair Economy, Poughkeepsie’s Children’s Media Project and Battered Women’s Services during the week.

The event’s keynote, on February 24, was an address by social activist and revisionist American historian Howard Zinn, who spoke on “Bringing Democracy Alive” in the Chapel. The concluding event, a dinner in the Aula sponsored by the Black Students Union, the African Students Union and the Caribbean Students Alliance honored Black History Month.

Professor of history James Merrell was one of three American historians to receive the prestigious Bancroft Prize, an annual award established at Columbia University in 1948 by historian Frederic Bancroft. Professor Merrell was awarded the prize for Into the Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (1999), a groundbreaking study of 17th century negotiators in Pennsylvania—diverse colonists and Native Americans—of “the Long Peace” among the several antagonists. The Bancroft Prize for 1990 was awarded to his earlier book, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (1989) along with both the annual Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the annual Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians.

One of only five historians to win two Bancroft Prizes, Professor Merrell told The Miscellany News, “Many better historians than I have not won this prize,” adding, “It was humbling to win the first time. [Winning it] twice makes me even more humble.” Of her colleague’s achievement, Professor of History Miriam Cohen noted, “He teaches American [history], and it is his deep-seated commitment that Native American history be intertwined with the history of colonial America.”

Radio recordist and producer Jim Metzner spoke in Sanders Auditorium on “The Magic of Sound —a Journey to the Mind’s Ear.” The founder, narrator and producer of the popular “Pulse of the Planet” radio series on National Public Radio, Metzner taught for several years in Vassar’s American Culture program. He was also associated with the college’s “Hudson Valley Radio” project, a weekly radio series produced under a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and directed by Professor of Psychology Randy Cornelius. The 16 half-hour program in the series, broadcast between May and September 2003, celebrated “the nature and culture of the Hudson River from it source in the Adirondacks to its mouth in New York City.”

In recognition of Earth Day and sponsored by the Vassar Greens, environmental activist and lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. lectured in the Chapel on “Our Environmental Destiny.” The chief prosecuting attorney since 1984 for Riverkeeper—formerly the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association (HRFA)—Kennedy co-authored The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right (1999) with John Cronin, a former commercial fisherman and since 1983 the HRFA’s first official Riverkeeper. In 1999, Kennedy became head of The National Alliance of River, Sound and Baykeepers, subsequently the Waterkeepers Alliance. He also served as clinical professor and supervising attorney at the Environmental Litigation Clinic at the Pace University School of Law.

“I love my job,” Kennedy told his large audience of students, visitors and (as the event was part of Parents Weekend) Vassar parents. “I love going out on the river with the fishermen, fighting the bad guys, working with the students.” Praising recent protests at the meeting in Seattle of the World Trade Organization, Kennedy rejected the alleged conflict between environmental and commercial concerns. “If you ask people on Capitol Hill why are you doing this,” he said, “they say the time has come to choose between economic prosperity and environmental protection. That is a false choice.”

“Kennedy talked about the role of nature in American idealism, literature, art and religion,” Kate Eickmeyer ‘03 reported in The Miscellany News. “He emphasized the importance of protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.” Greens member Kate Bedient ’01 appreciated the range of Kennedy’s remarks. “What impressed me most about RFK, Jr.,” she said, “was that during his talk he managed to mention a handful of the world’s most famous authors, list off prestigious poets, describe the works of numerous painters and recall the history of the world’s largest religions, while never losing his place or even glancing at a notecard.”

The Miscellany News

Judith K. Major, professor of architectural and landscape history from the University of Kansas, lectured in Taylor Hall on “To Live in the New World: A.J. Downing and American Landscape Gardening.” Professor Major’s book To Live in the New World: A. J. Downing and American Landscape Gardening (1997) traced the evolution of the work and thought of the first American landscape architect, Andrew Jackson Downing, emphasizing his contribution to the definition of a distinctly American cultural landscape.

A native of Newburgh, NY, Downing published A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America in 1841, and the following year he collaborated with Alexander Jackson Davis, the pioneer of American Gothic Revival and Hudson River Bracketed architecture, on Cottage Residences. In 1850, Downing accepted a commission from Matthew Vassar to design the buildings and the setting for his country home “Springside,” the design and construction of which were underway when Downing and his family died in the fire and explosion of the steamer Henry Clay on the Hudson River on July 28, 1852.

John B. Taylor, the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University, gave the annual Martin H. Crego lecture, “What Should We Do With the Big Budget Surplus?” in Sanders Hall. In anticipation of the Clinton administration’s announcement of a budget surplus and asking his audience to choose among four uses for the money—debt reduction, increased government spending, tax reduction and “all of the above”— Professor Taylor told them that the last option was the correct answer. Proposing that the first three options be exercised in a 2-1-1 ratio and forecasting that surpluses would continue into the future “as far as the eye can see,” he allowed that “discretionary spending depends on what Congress does and on who the next president is.” He said however that “based on pretty sound assumptions” the federal surplus over the next ten years would aggregate to $4 trillion.

The Crego lecture, part of the Crego Endowment established in 1956 by Jean Crego ’32 in honor of her father, was an annual lecture in the general field of economics under the auspices of the economics department.

Phil Brown, professor of sociology and environmental studies at Brown University, spoke in Sanders Auditorium on “A Summer Eden: The Jewish Experience in the Catskills.” Professor Brown’s Catskill Culture: A Mountain Rat’s Memories of the Great Jewish Resort Area was published by Temple University Press in 1998, and he edited In the Catskills: A Century of Jewish Experience in “The Mountains,” an anthology of fiction and non-fiction in 2002.

President Fergusson conferred the bachelor’s degree on 528 members of the Class of 2000 at Vassar’s 134th Commencement. The day’s main speaker, Geraldine Laybourne ’69, former president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks and, in 1998, founder of Oxygen Media, presented the graduates with three principles for success: belief that good ideas compensated for lack of experience; recognition that passion for one’s work sustained long effort; conviction that “no” was never an acceptable answer. Matthew Vassar, she said, exemplified this last verity in his determination against all odds to found a genuine college for women. As to the first principle, Laybourne asked, “Do you know who has the best ideas?” Her answer: “Twenty-year-olds.”

The New York Times

The college received the first installment of a five-year $1.3 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The grant, intended to enrich the work of the biology department and to extend the department’s influence into the Poughkeepsie community. Specifically, it funded: student research and fellowships, both in Vassar’s Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) and through travelling grants; four high-quality fluorescent microscopes with computer imaging and faculty training in fluorescent microscopy, computer imaging and laser optics; three community outreach programs—teaching internships for Vassar students in local high schools and summer science programs on campus for both high school science teachers and local community college science students—and a new tenure track in biology to accommodate curricular development in both the biology department and the interdisciplinary program in science, technology and society of bioinformatics—a developing field combining biology, chemistry, computer science and mathematics. Associate Professor Bill Strauss, the principal writer of the grant explained that the new field was “developing computing resources to deal with the massive amount of information that is generated by genomic projects and proteomics, which is the study of protein structure and function and their relation to genetics.”

“We’re all quite excited about the influence that this grant can have on our academic lives and the curriculum,” Professor of Biology Robert Suter said, adding, “I am particularly delighted that the grant will support another of Vassar’s efforts to interact fruitfully with people in our surrounding community.”

The Miscellany News

Chartered in 1953, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute was the realization of the aircraft pioneer’s longstanding interest in philanthropy serving society through biomedical research and science education.

Harvard University Professor of Astronomy Robert Kirschner, head of the Optical and Infrared Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, delivered the keynote address, “Taking the Measure of the Universe: How Big? How Old? How Do We Know?” at the annual Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) Symposium in the Villard Room. Student researchers spoke about their work, and poster sessions on the summer research were presented in the second floor gallery of the College Center.

Professor of medicine, bioethics and the history of medicine and clinical professor of surgery at Yale University School of Medicine Sherwin B. Nuland, MD, lectured in Taylor Hall on “The Mystical Origin of Medicine.” A prolific writer whose work appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and TIME, Nuland published The Mysteries Within: A Surgeon Explores Myth, Medicine and the Human Body in 2000.

Vassar’s newest multidisciplinary program, Environmental Studies, presented its first speaker as David Kline spoke about “An Amish Farmer’s Essays.” The author of Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal (1990) and Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm (1997), Kline crafted “his discussion from moment to moment,” wrote Michael Centore ’02 in The Miscellany News, “allowing his visionary impulse to eclipse all else, letting the instant dictate his subject and cadence. A thought extolling the virtues of butter would be buttressed against homage to family life and the duties of parenthood, without any feeling of disjunction. The unity was in the calm transition from topic to topic.” Centore concluded, “[Kline’s] interactions with questioners was like the course of his life itself: marked out with a special care, candor and piety that few of us have mastered. The college is fortunate he chose to share.”

Five years in development, the environmental studies program was first proposed by a small faculty group in the 1994–95 academic year. With aid from conservationist and philanthropist Priscilla Bullitt Collins ’42, the multidisciplinary curriculum developed and was approved by the college in December 1999. Professor of English Daniel Peck, the new program’s first director called it “the most fully interdisciplinary environmental studies program in the U.S.” Peck’s colleague Associate Professor of Chemistry Stuart Belli agreed, “What we’re doing with environmental studies,” he said, “is bridging the gap between the social sciences, the natural sciences and the humanities.” Meleah Houseknecht ’01, the first Vassar graduate in environmental studies, said the program reflected “the fact that environmental studies, by nature, includes every discipline.”

The Miscellany News

The residential life office released the results of an anonymous survey of 800 residents of the nine residence houses taken at the end of the 1999–2000 academic year. Less than 300 of the students surveyed responded, and “although over 40 percent of the respondents said that they keep their doors unlocked when they are out of their rooms or sleeping and 51 percent stated that they let strangers into their houses, 90 percent claimed that they feel safe in their residence halls.” Director of Residential Life Faith Nichols suggested that this result reflected a false sense of security, and Dean of the College Colton Johnson commented, “personal responsibility is the final piece of any security system.” He suggested that “secure” in this case “means ‘no bodily harm or great loss of property.’ Low level breaches of security occur when people decide that is it not important to take the final step of locking their doors.”

The Miscellany News

Sponsored by the Vassar Democrats and the Dutchess County Democratic party, former Texas governor Ann Richards led a political rally in the Chapel supporting the senatorial candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Reminding her audience that she was “an unrepentant civil rights, feminist, labor union, working people Democrat,” Richards reassured the enthusiastic audience that “Hillary feels very strongly about involving college campuses all over the state of New York and making sure they participate on Election Day.” Speaking of Clinton’s Republican opponent, she said, “I know that Rick Lazio [‘80] is a graduate of Vassar, and I’m happy for him. A good education is a real asset when you’re looking for work in the private sector.”

The Miscellany News

On November 7 Clinton won the senate seat being vacated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan with 55.27 percent of the vote to Lazio’s 43.01 percent.

Beyond Vassar

In the presidential election on November 7, Al Gore won 48.4 percent of the popular vote, George W. Bush gathered 47.9 percent and Ralph Nader drew 2.74 percent. In the Electoral College tally—ended by a controversial decision in The Supreme Court—Bush won 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266.

On November 10, The Miscellany News reported that a pre-election poll of 264 Vassar students—slightly more than 10 percent—showed that 57.6 percent chose Gore, 15.5 percent supported Nader and 3.4 percent favored Bush. The article also stated that 82 percent of the student body voted in this election by absentee ballots, locally in Arlington or by travelling to their home towns.

At Waryas Park on the Hudson River waterfront in Poughkeepsie, the Vassar Greens hosted one of 41 simultaneous vigils urging the removal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from the river. Banned in the United States in 1977, the carcinogenic chemical had been allowed to enter the Hudson since 1947 by General Electric (GE) plants in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, NY, and in 1983 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared some 200 miles of the river between Hudson Falls and New York City eligible for “Superfund” remediation under the 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The vigils were prompted by the imminent release of an EPA report determining the degree of PCB contamination in the site and recommending a remediation process. Vassar Greens co-founder and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater environmental intern Michelle Sargent ’01 told The Miscellany News, “A vigil is a place to contemplate or mourn something, and the fact that we have waited 20 years for the EPA to come out with a report including recommendation for action to clean up the river is a tragedy.”

The EPA report, released on December 7, ordered GE to develop and undertake a cleanup plan for the site. The resulting project—of which Phase One was completed in October 2009—was expected to cost the company nearly $500 million.

Sponsored by the Student Activist Union (SAU) 28 Vassar students joined some 10,000 protestors at Fort Benning in Georgia to protest the School of the Americas (SOA), a training program for soldiers from the armies of several Latin America countries. Founded in 1990 after a Congressional inquiry determined that the massacre in El Salvador in 1989 of six Jesuit priests along with a co-worker and her teenage daughter had been carried out by troops trained at the SOA, an organization called SOA Watch staged annual protests, drawing participants from across the country. “These priests,” protestor Peter Owens ’03 told The Miscellany News, “stood up against military tyranny, as we do, and their martyrdom is what the protest is shaped around.”

“For me,” Owens said, “the most amazing thing about the SOA protest is the diversity and sheer numbers of people who attend…. I felt like is was most important to be there, make my voice heard, and add one more person to the already massive resistance.” “I think everyone who went,” added Evan White ’03, one of the trip’s organizers, “felt that is was a very valuable experience. Although this happens every year it is a really powerful experience…. There were old nuns and younger protesters that came together to say that the SOA can’t be allowed in their names, fund by their tax dollars.”

The Miscellany News

British-American realist painter Rackstraw Downes gave a two-part lecture, “Turning the Head in the Empirical Space,” in Taylor Hall. His first presentation, examining the history of visual theories of perspective and perspectival painting, starting with Dutch 16th-century painters, led to his second, an interactive history and demonstration of his unique perspectival technique. Noting that Downes had turned from abstract art to embrace representational en pleine aire work in the 1970s, Lauren Arana ’01 wrote in The Miscellany News, “Downes describe this realization with giddy enthusiasm, abandoning the podium to demonstrate with his pointer the perspectival ellipsis that he achieved by turning his head from right to left as he painted the landscape before him. This method creates a stretched panorama that includes pictorial space beyond the limits of the canvas or page. Downes showed several drawings and paintings to which he had to attach extra pages or canvases to accommodate the breath of the landscape as he viewed it.” “The distorted effect,” she observed, “of Downes’s 100 to 180 degree elliptical perspective reduced to a two-dimensional canvas affords the viewer a more sweeping expanse than the average landscape painting, giving his work a more [dramatic] effect.”

“Later,” Arana concluded, “when explaining his exaggerated perspective, he stretched his neck and explained that you would have to be in a yoga pose! in order to fully capture his view. His lecture easily could have been translated into a fascinating…NPR or BBC program that I would be happy to stumble upon…any day.”

The college launched a new website through which students could access reading lists and order books for upcoming classes. Separately, the Student Activist Union (SAU) created a separate website containing students’ reading lists. The websites were in response to many students’ interest in supporting local bookstores as well as student concerns that there were not enough price options at the college bookstore. “For me, it’s worth the effort to get books somewhere else, because I know I will be supporting more independent sellers,” said SAU action coordinator Pulin Modi ’02.

The Miscellany News

Nearly 100 Vassar students protested George W. Bush’s inauguration in Washington D.C. Many students traveled with a group organized by the Student Activist’s Union. “I’m here primarily so my voice is heard about how upset I am about the Bush presidency,” said David Rossini ’04. “I came to document history in the making,” said Jacob Blumenfeld ’04, who carried a video camera at the protest.

On campus, students, members of the faculty and community members attended a teach-in to discuss electoral reform and to question the legitimacy of the stopping of the recount of presidential election votes in Florida. “The key questions are, why did this happen, where did it leave us, [and] could this happen again?” declared Nancy Kassop, professor of political science at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz.

“This is such an important day. The events in Florida may have been very disturbing for many of us, but it was very important that they happened, because it brought to light faults in the voting process that have been going on for years in this country,” said Dr. Kristen Jemiolo of the League of Women Voters and Dutchess Unite. The teach-in was co-sponsored by the department of political science, the office of religious and spiritual life, the office of field work, Bard College, the Marist College Praxis Program and the Poughkeepsie Institute.

The Miscellany News

Cushing House and Noyes House encouraged their guests to wear 1950s-style clothing to a Bi-Dormal Formal celebrating “The Fabulous 50’s.”

Victorian men and women crowded the halls and buses carrying bowler-hatted and fancily-coiffed passengers drove from Kenyon Hall to Rockefeller Hall and the New England Building as three scenes from a new production by Dreamworks and Warner Brothers of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895) were filmed at the college. The scenes involved the search by the dean of Columbia University, played by Jeremy Irons, for Professor Alexander Hartdigan, played by Guy Pearce, and the buildings—completed in 1901 and 1898—were chosen for their late Victorian style.

Several students and a few faculty members were chosen to act as extras. “I’m totally thrilled to have been a part of it, completely thrilled,” said James Schenk ’01 who served as an extra and a stand-in for Guy Pearce. “It was a good experience to see how things are done. You don’t realize the amount of work that goes into it” he added. Film major Pat Johnson ’01, another extra, said “It’s going to be fun…. We’re wearing the costumes from Titanic, we can see how a movie set works and it’ll be a really great experience.” Johnson praised the college’s willingness to allow the production to film on campus. “It’s no big deal for the studio,” he said, “they could pay anyone to be in it, but it’s a great opportunity for the students.”

Professor of Economics David Kennett played the non-speaking part of Dr. Thomas Post, “a rather irritable professor who is trying to get away from a pesky demanding student.” He said of the role, “It’s a real stretch for me.” Also appearing in the scenes at Vassar was Will Carlough ’99, a former film major currently pursuing a career in film in New York City, who had a speaking part as “student number two.”

The production limited access to certain paths throughout campus and occasionally interfered with the work of students and professors in New England Building and Rockefeller Hall. The Miscellany News

Dr. Vladimir Papov from the international pharmaceutical firm Boehringer Ingelheim lectured on “Proteomics—The Flip-Side of Genomics” in Mudd Chemistry. Dr. Papov’s research in proteomics—the study of the structure and function of proteins—involved the use of mass spectrometry to sequence particular organisms’ entire repertoire of proteins in order to further understand their structure.

Working with Assitant to the Dean of the College Andrew Meade and Christine White, the director of the card office, seven local businesses agreed to accept charges to the Vassar ID Card, or V-Card, as payment for their goods and services. “Topics we, along with Christine and folks who work with her, will be tackling,” said Meade, “are how to make this program user friendly and as attractive to students and possible as well as how to best get word of this program out to parents.”

Business owners and the college hoped the new system would make their restaurants and stores more accessible to students.

The Miscellany News

Sponsored by the Vassar Student Association (VSA) and Davison House, Robert L.E. Egger lectured on “Hunger Isn’t About Food: Using Food as a Tool to Support Those Moving From Welfare to Work.” Egger was the founder and president of the DC Central Kitchen, where unemployed men and women learned marketable culinary skills, and the founding chairperson of the Washington, DC, Mayor’s Commission on Nutrition.

Along with four students from Barnard College and New York University, the co-chair of Vassar Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) was arrested in New York City at a pro-Tibet protest after, dressed in corporate attire, infiltrating the British Petroleum Amoco offices in New York City. The action was part of an “International Day of Action Against BP Amoco” that involved similar protests in Denver, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Beijing. The protesters’ complaints against BP Amoco centered on the company’s investments in a Chinese oil company that planned to build an oil pipeline through Tibet, against the wishes of the Tibetan people.

Reaching a vice president’s office, said Ashley Spicer ’01, “We took off our suits, revealing our Students for a Free Tibet t-shirts and told the secretary we wanted to speak to the vice president about BP Amoco’s investments in China…. We declared we would not leave willingly until they left Tibet.” After blocking a doorway and chanting for two hours, the women were arrested. “Honestly,” said Spicer, “I’ve never heard five girls chant so loudly.”

Writing about the experience in The Miscellany News, she said that, being alone in a cell “encouaged deeper relflection about what had happened and why I had done what I had done…. Overall, because of our race, our age, our crime and the prestige of the colleges we attended, we were given a relatively cushy experience in jail compared to the majority of people who go to jail in our country, let alone those who are thrown in jail in Tibet and other countries under oppresive régimes…. As we were leaving, a sargeant ask us, ‘so was it worth it, girls?’ We looked him square in the eye and answered resolutely and honestly: ‘yes.’”

The Miscellany News

As part of Equal Rights Awareness Week the Feminist Alliance, the Women’s Center, the Student Activist Union (SAU) and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC) sponsored CUNTFEST. The event was based on the book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence (1998) by Inga Musico and included self-defense workshops, a reading by Musico from her book and performance art by lesbian-feminist Jess Dobkin. The Miscellany News

The college held its first All-College Day, a day of community-related events and discussion for faculty, staff, students, and administrators.

A pioneer in environmental studies, Dr. Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute, lectured on “Natural Systems Agriculture: A Necessarily Radical Paradigm.” Much of Jackson’s work with the institute focused on sustainable agriculture, particularly the use of perennial plants in agriculture, to maintain soil integrity and prevent erosion. Jackson referred to this type of agriculture as using “nature as model.”

The Vassar College Unitarian Universalists held an intercollegiate conference, “Rhythms: Harmonizing the Unique and the Universal,” at the Chapel. The first Unitarian conference hosted by the college, the event was attended by students from Wesleyan, Columbia, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Penn State and Middlebury.

Jane Marcus, professor of English at the City University of New York, lectured in the Villard Room on “A Very Fine Negress: Race in a Room of One’s Own.” Professor Marcus’s work focused on feminist critiques of modernist literature, particularly that of Virginia Wolff. She helped found women’s studies departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Texas. The author of Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy (1987), Professor Marcus published Hearts of Darkness: White Women Write Race in 2004.

The Vassar men’s volleyball team finished fourth in the nation in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III, becoming the college’s first varsity team to reach the NCAA National Championship Tournament.

Sociologist of religion and morality Robert Bellah from the University of California at Berkeley spoke in the Villard Room on “Habits of the Heart Revisited.” The author of Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1985), Professor Bellah reexamined the original tracing of these two elements in American democracy from their discovery by Alexis de Tocqueville in revisions of his work in 1996—when he drew attention to decline of “social capital” and the persistence and growth of “neocapitalism”—and again in 2008—expressing grave concern about the mounting economic and social inequalities in American society.

Under the sponsorship of the Women’s Center, some 65 registered participants joined a conference on practical feminist politics addressing the assertion, “Feminism is Stupid.” Organized by three seniors and sophomore, the conference included workshops, discussions and a keynote address by African-American feminist writer Barbara Smith, author of Writings on Race, Gender and Freedom: The Truth Never Hurts (1998) and editor of Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology (1983).

A panel discussion included Professor of Political Science Mary L. Shanley, Professor of Art Lisa Collins, Professor of Sociology Diane Harriford, Rachel Simmons ’96 and the founder of Brooklyn’s Black Girl Revolution, Brigette M. Moore. Tracing the history of feminism and observing “in 1971, it seemed like things would change quickly, and they didn’t so much,” Professor Shanley underscored a major theme of the conference: the importance of “intersectionality” in addressing discrimination. Professor Harriford agreed, observing that “people talk about feminism as if it is joining a sorority” and that students still asked her “what does racism have to do with feminism?” She asserted that the mainstreaming of feminism weakened the recognition of social inequality as a function of structures of oppression in favor of personalizing feminism as many middle-class feminists had done.

Proceeds from the conference went to the Manuela Ramos Movement, a Peruvian organization funding counseling centers battered women shelters and family planning centers throughout Peru. The group’s funding was recently cut off by President Bush’s reinstatement of the “Mexico City Policy,” a strategy formulated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, effectively banning all international aid to groups providing advice, counsel or information regarding abortion. The Miscellany News

Kadiatou Diallo lectured on “The Legacy of Amadou Diallo” in the Chapel. Her unarmed son Amadou, a 23-year old Guinean immigrant, was shot and killed on February 4, 1999, by four New York City plain-clothes officers who thought him a possible rape suspect. Forty-one shots were fired, of which 19 struck Diallo. The incident was widely denounced as gross police brutality, and, indicted by a grand jury, the police officers were acquitted on February 25, 2000.

Ms. Dialo’s lecture focused on her son’s life, the injustice of his death and her work to bring about racial harmony in New York City through the Amadou Diallo Foundation. The Miscellany News

A $61 million lawsuit brought by the Diallo family for wrongful death, filed on April 18, 2000, was settled in March 2004 for $3 million. Diallo’s family established the Amadou Diallo Foundation in 2001.

New Zealand-born South African Anglican priest and social justice activist Michael Lapsley lectured in the New England Building on “Memory, Healing and Justice: Creating a New South Africa.” Expelled from South Africa in the 1970’s by the apartheid regime for his activist work, Father Lapsley was later seriously injured in a letter bomb explosion, sent by the apartheid government.

In conjunction with Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley and LGBT and Friends from Newburgh, the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC) sponsored a high school prom, “Over the Rainbow.” Held in the Aula, the event welcomed over 60 area students to the dance and after-party. “One of the things that’s really important to understand about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered) youth,” said Matt Kavanagh ’01, one of the event’s organizers, “is that they don’t really have a safe space in the Hudson Valley. They often are in the closet in high school, their schools and communities are often places where they face harassment and abuse…. We wanted to have one night where these kids could be themselves, enjoy each others’ company, have same sex dates, dress in drag is they want to, be whoever they are without being threatened.”

Additional support for the prom came from the Vassar Student Association (VSA), the Gill Foundation in Colorado and several community members. Its organizers hoped that the prom would become an annual event.

The Miscellany News

Harvard University Professor of Psychology Howard Gardner, the American developmental psychologist whose Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) introduced the theory of multiple intelligences, spoke about how recognition of different kinds of intelligence could lead to new methods of teaching and of evaluating learning. Specifically, his remarks explored eight distinct kinds of intellectual ability or forms of intelligence: spatial; mathematical; linguistic; naturalist; kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal and intrapersonal.

During his visit to the college, Gardner, who spoke at a Vassar symposium on cognitive language comprehension in 1980, also conducted several experiments with students and faculty on the Library lawn, illustrating different forms of intelligence. His visit was supported by the new Carolyn Grant ’36 Endowment, which, reflecting Carolyn Grant Fay’s accomplishments in expressive arts therapies, engaged students and faculty members in exploring “pedagogical methodologies that engage the imagination in a hands-on way.”

The Miscellany News

Novelist Stephen King delivered the commencement address to the graduating Class of 2001. Focusing his speech on the fleeting nature of life and the 624 graduates’ mortality, Mr. King acknowledged that he was “casting gloom, even the pall of death, on what should be a joyous and wonderful day.”

“A couple of years ago,” he said, “I found out what ‘you can’t take it with you’ means. I found out while I was lying in a ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans like the branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm. I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in the ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard.”

Then King, whose sons Joe and Owen were Vassar graduates, evoked—according to The New York Times—“a characteristically creepy picture of a happy family eating fried chicken and cake in their backyard as hungry men, women and children watch silently from behind a fence. The backyard, Mr. King said, was America, and the starving people were the rest of the world.” King announced that he was donating $20,000 in the class’s name to a local charity serving the homeless, the hungry and those with H.I.V. “He asked the graduates and their families to remember this vision as they sat down to celebratory luncheons, and to contribute to the same local charity that he was giving to.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, “$20 bills and personal checks for Dutchess Outreach were piling up in a cardboard box.” The New York Times

In an interview with Vassar: The Alumnae/i Quarterly, President Frances Fergusson reflected on her first 15 years at the college. “When I arrived,” she said, “there were three major issues that needed to be addressed. As an architectural historian, I believe that spaces have a very large effect on behavior. The campus felt rather alienating and unfriendly because it was congested and unkempt. The morale of the faculty was quite low. Salaries had slipped, teaching conditions were not as good as they had been; there was a perception that we were in danger of losing the quality of students that they had been used to teaching. We also needed to work on the issue of community. People felt themselves to be individuals with no larger concept or commitment to community. It’s not something that you ever fully achieve, but the conversation’s always there.

“And certainly we’ve been able to improve everything from faculty salaries to the teaching and research facilities, which are now quite phenomenal and getting even better. We are without a doubt a very desirable school right now.”

“I’m proud,” Fergusson continued, “of the fact that if you were to come to Vassar during the course of the year, you wouldn’t feel that any of the old traditions or commitments to liberal education have been lost…. This year we probably had a total of seven different Shakespeare plays performed on campus. We had our annual Beowulf marathon in old English, we had the opera workshop, we had the marathon reading of the Iliad and the Odyssey—one or the other each year—and so on. So you see that our students aren’t just present-minded by any means, but at the same time they’re thinking in very advanced intellectual terms. There’s a wonderful balance between the traditional and the new.”

Vassar: The Alumnae/i Quarterly

As part of the its efforts to revitalize the Arlington area, the college purchased the building at the corner of Raymond and College Avenues housing the Juliet Café for $925,000. Opened as a cinema in 1935, the Juliet, later converted to a multiplex format, closed in September 1990. The building subsequently housed a patisserie and billiards parlor, which closed in 2010.

Beyond Vassar

Commandeered by Islamic terrorists, three American airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, DC.  A fourth plane, presumably targeting either the Capitol or The White House, crashed into a hillside in Pennsylvania.  In all, 2,996 people—including the 19 terrorists—died in the attacks.

Within hours of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a large-screen television was set up in the Villard Room, along with a bank of long distance phones for students to contact their loved ones. Counseling services provided counseling staff until midnight, and the Chapel remained open all night. On September 12 President Fergusson led the college in a service of grief and remembrance under the great tree on the Library lawn, where members of the college community placed flowers and messages.

In the following days and weeks, the College responded with relief efforts and support services. In a letter to President Bush, students, faculty members, administrators and staff urged him “to use the channels of diplomacy and law to bring the terrorist criminals to justice, and counsel all possible restraint in the use of force.” “The war on terrorism,” the letter said, “must be a war on poverty and ignorance at home and abroad as well as a war on those who perpetrated the crimes of September 11. It must not be a war on foreign cultures or foreign populations.” Vassar Student Association President Adrienn Lanczos ’02 said, “Not all students were united in their broader political stance, but it seems as if most Vassar students have expressed a sense of frustration with those who would allow misinformed prejudices and impulsive reactionary politics to guide the domestic response of our wounded nation.”

Two members of the immediate Vassar family, Ruth Ketler ’80 and John Schwartz ’75, died in the destruction of the trade center. The Miscellany News, Vassar; The Alumnae/i Quarterly

After protracted negotiations, the college discontinued its longstanding support of the annual fundraising campaign of United Way of Dutchess County, citing United Way’s continued support of the Boy Scouts of America despite that organization’s discrimination against gays. In 2000, United Way president and CEO James Williamson offered to allow a special opt-out for Vassar participants which would disallow their contributions from supporting the Boy Scouts. “We didn’t want anything,” he said, “to get in the way of people’s honest desire to help people.”

Mixed campus response to this compromise and the philanthropy’s continued support of the Boy Scouts led to the college’s decision. President Fran Fergusson—a past chair of the annual campaign—stated that, “Just as I would not expect us to want to give to any agency that would discriminate on the basis of race or religion, we should not want to give to agencies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. That is a firm principle in my mind, and a simple matter of human dignity.”

Under President Fergusson’s leadership, for 2001 the college established its own philanthropic campaign, Community Works, raising $70,000 from the campus constituencies, 100 percent of which went to support local organizations and agencies chosen by a campus committee of students, administrators, faculty and staff.

In 2004, the total raised for Community Works was $88,500.

The Miscellany News

2001, October 9. A student anti-war group led about 100 Vassar students, faculty and community members on a silent march through Poughkeepsie to protest the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.

Novelist Jane Smiley ‘71, the winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her best-selling novel, A Thousand Acres (1991), spoke about her work in the Villard Room. Smiley was elected in 2001 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The American Culture and International Studies programs announced, in light of the September 11th attacks, a new multidisciplinary class in Middle East foreign policy and terrorism. “We thought a course would be another mode of helping to come to grips with the events of September 11 and their larger context,” said Peter Stillman, professor of political science. The Miscellany News

John Richetti, A. M. Rosenthal Professor of English at Columbia University, spoke in the Library’s new Class of ’51 Reading Room on “The Sex/Gender System and the Woman’s Novel in the English 18th Century.” The editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel (1996), Professor Richetti published The English Novel in History, 1700-1789 in 1999.

More than half of an independent film, titled “The Ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald” was filmed on Vassar’s campus.

2001, November 11. VSA groups put on Multi-Cultural Awareness Week. Identity organizations and performance groups collaborated on programming related to the theme of “woven threads.”

The Vassar Animal Rescue Coalition protested Vassar’s animal use policies outside Main building. Nearly 20 people participated including students from Marist College and SUNY New Paltz.

Felipe Agüero, a professor of political science at the University of Miami, spoke about his torture by the Chilean government under General Augusto Pinochet and his recent identification of his torturer. Shortly after the Pinochet coup in 1973, Agüero, a 21 year-old Chilean student, was arrested, detained and tortured. At an academic conference in 1988, he recognized his torturer—by then a professor at the Catholic University in Santiago— but remained silent, out of shame and lingering fear, until he named the man in February 2001.

Professor Agüero stressed the importance of open discussion of experiences with torture in the larger discussion of military repression. “People’s narratives need to be heard badly, more than anything else,” said Agüero, stressing that people have a “responsibility” to tell their stories.

The Miscellany New

Director, screenwriter and actor Spike Lee and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Budd Schulberg spoke in the Chapel on their respective careers and their collaboration on a film about American boxer Joe Louis and his two championship bouts with German boxer Max Schmeling in 1936 and 1938. Widely credited for creating the modern prototype of the young schemer who schemes, lies and cheats his way to success in the character of Sammy Glick in What Makes Sammy Run (1941), Schulberg won Academy Awards for best story and best screenplay for On the Waterfront (1954). Over 40 years younger than his collaborator, Lee was first acclaimed for his film She’s Gotta Have It (1986) and was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar for Do the Right Thing (1989). His film 4 Little Girls was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1997.

“Spike is a fanatic for accuracy,” Schulberg told his Vassar audience. “He’s not the easiest director I’ve ever worked with, but he really respects the writer in a way I didn’t always find in Hollywood…. I can’t just sit down and write entertainment. That’s one thing that drew Spike and me together.” “To me,” Lee said, “it’s been an honor, and more than an honor, a great learning experience, learning from one of the great screenwriters of all time.”

“The young director and the elderly screenwriter,” wrote Claudia Rowe in The New York Times, “made a tender pair onstage. Mr. Lee took notes as Mr. Schulberg spoke. He fussed with the older man’s microphone, refilled the writer’s water glass before his own, and gently helped him from the stage when their talk was over.”

The project—tentatively called “The War to Come” and later named “Save Us Joe Louis”—was suspended at the time of Schulberg’s death, at the age of 95, on August 5, 2009.

2002, February 1. Justice Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court of South Africa delivered the keynote address of Equal Rights Awareness Week, sponsored by student organization P.E.A.C.E (Promoting Equality and Community Everywhere).

Famed choreographer Twyla Tharp gave a lecture and demonstration titled “Kinetic Energy.” Tharp is lauded for her contributions to classical and modern dance.

Former CFO of the College Anthony C. Stellato died in his home in Poughkeepsie.

During an EPA investigation, crystallized picric acid, a substance with a molecular structure similar to TNT, was found in Olmsted Hall.

On April 11, 2002, two seniors were expelled and one sophomore was suspended after being found responsible for vandalizing around 20 cars parked near the Town Houses.

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center held a month-long exhibition called “Modern Metropolis.”

Throughout the week, the Vassar Greens held a series of events to celebrate Earth Week.

2002, May 24. Professor of History David Schalk retired at the end of the 2001-2002 academic year after 34 years at the college.

After having been represented by Main House, Ferry House was finally given formal representation in the Vassar Student Association.

As part of a national lecture series called, “Human Rights: The Unfinished Agenda for the New Millenium,” Vassar held a lecture presented by Harold Koh on the impact of 9/11 on American civil and political rights. The event was cosponsored and organized by the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Vall-Kill, which aims to continue Roosevelt’s legacy by promoting human rights. As a professor of International Law at Yale University and former assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 1998 to 2001, Koh argued in his lecture that, “Over the course of the past year, we have slowly been compromising our civil liberties in favor of national security.”

Over 100 Vassar students went to Central Park in New York City to protest alongside 250,000 others at a rally held by the organization Not In Our Name (NION).

On November 8, two teams from the Culinary Institute of America came to the ACDC to participate in a cooking competition run and judged by Vassar students. The competition was inspired by “Iron Chef,” a Japanese cooking show.

F. Sherwood Roland, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his research on ozone depletion, gave a speech on campus about the state of the atmosphere. National Medal of Science winner Gene Linkens introduced Roland.

The Roots performed at Vassar in the Walker Field House on November 23, after being booked by ViCE (Vassar College Entertainment). The band was “highly regarded as one of the most groundbreaking hip hop acts of the [1990s].”

Around twenty Vassar students went to Washington, D.C. to attend a conference, rally, and meetings with senators, as a part of the Never Go Back campaign.

Students from Vassar Repertory Dance Theater performed five private shows at the Lincoln Center Institute’s Clark Studio, the first New York City tour the group made.

The Class of ’05 restarted Thursday Pub Nights at the Vassar Pub Nights. The pub nights had been halted after allegations of underage drinking, disruptive behavior, and vandalism were reported.

2003, February 10. Several Vassar organizations, including Feminist Alliance, the Women’s Center, Unbound, and the Office of Health Education, came together to hold Vassar’s fifth annual V-Day.

2003, February 18. Christopher Buckley, author, editor of Forbes FYI, and a previous speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, gave the Alex Krieger ’95 Memorial Lecture in Skinner Hall.

Students joined about 100,000 to 400,000 protestors in New York City at “The World Says No to War” rally, organized by United for Peace and Justice. Protests occurred throughout the U.S., Europe, and at a scientific post in Antarctica.

An impassioned Vassar senior organized a benefit concert,“In Tune for Farmworker Justice,” for the Rural Migrant Ministry, which is a non-profit that advocated for farmworker rights.

A talk was held in the Noyes Jetson Longue to discuss the question of “does campus security racially profile?”

Students gathered outside of the Residential Life and Dean of Students offices in Main to protest a College Regulations panel ruling. s

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life held vigils from March 24 to March 28, in order to inspire discussion and reflection on the ongoing war in Iraq.

The Vassar Students Association chose to take an anti-Iraq war position using an online run-off vote.

A fight broke out in the early morning of April 20 that resulted in a call to police and a hospitalization.

The Vassar Miscellany News reported that $4000 worth of property had been stolen from the Townhouses in three separate robberies that semester. ,

The renovation of Jewett House, which lasted around 15 months and cost about $22 million, was finally completed and students were able to begin moving into their new rooms

The Alumnae House closed for renovations that the college hoped would make the house “fresher and cleaner.”

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a $97,000 fine to Vassar College for violating its hazardous waste disposal regulations.

At a panel set up by the Women’s Center, Iraqi journalist Amal Al-Khedairy and historian Nermin Al-Mufti spoke about their experiences of and opinions on the war in Iraq.

Two members of the Vassar Student Association, the Town Student President and the Josselyn House President, missed their second VSA meeting, thus setting an impeachment proceeding into motion. The

At a VSA council meeting, representatives agreed to request $10,000 from the Great Works fund in order to create a recording facility for student use.

The Women’s Center relocated to the Old Observatory from its location in the Raymond Basement. The center has been providing resources and programming on gender issues on campus since the 1970s.

Students from Vassar’s Democracy Matters org attended the U Matters Summit at the University of Albany and Crest Hill Suites in Albany.

Dr. Beth Jordan ’86 gave a lecture called “The Accidental Activist: From STS Nerd to Feminist Physician,” about how her career path.

Campus Life Resource Group held the fourth annual All College Day, the theme of which was “Race at Vassar.”

The Vassar College Equestrian Team hosted its first annual horse show on Southland Farms, about a thirty minute car ride from Vassar’s Campus. The all-day show featured several other colleges from the northeast.

The college held its tenth annual I Won’t Grow Up Day (IWGUD), a free public event, in the College Center. The event was started in 1994 by student Julie Riess, who was director of the Wimpfheimer Nursery School in 2004.

Soon Ok Lee spoke in Rockefeller Hall on her imprisonment in a North Korean jail for over five years.

The Mathematics Department hosted Gerhade Gade Harvard Professor Barry Mazur to discuss creativity in mathematics

The Vassar Greens brought Joan Dye Gussow, a proponent of organic, local foods, to speak in the Chapel. She lectured on her opinion on food policy, her own experiences growing food, and her book This Organic Life.

137 Vassar students from organizations such as the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Women’s Health Center, and CHOICE took buses to Washington for the March for Women’s Lives.

The ALANA Center invited students to partake in a conversation with Co-Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment Krystal Tribbett about how Vassar recruits students of color.

On the second day of the 2004 Republican National Convention, five Vassar students were arrested in connection with a protest, called Day of Direct Action. This protest was centered on bringing awareness to the deadly consequences of the war in Iraq.

Because of dangerous hazing practices in years prior, new rules were enacted that limited the kinds of activities allowed for the 2004 Serendaing event.

Vassar began its fourth-ever Community Works fundraiser, which collected funds for twelve non-profit agencies located in the Hudson Valley.

Author Linda Nochlin ’51 gave a lecture entitled “Why Contemporary Art is Great: Two Women, One Man,” to a packed room of people from the Vassar College and the wider Poughkeepsie community.

Folk rock band, The Mammals, performed a concert in the Chapel to support the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. The event was also sponsored by the group Hunger Action.

Several Vassar political organizations, including the Students Activist Union and the Forum for Political Philosophy, held a meeting with the student body to discuss the re-election of George W. Bush

Students and Poughkeepsie community members banded together to protest the reelection of George W. Bush by holding a mock funeral procession on the streets of Poughkeepsie.

The Jewish Alumni of Vassar College held an event over the weekend entitled “Jewish Identities: At Vassar and Beyond.” Around 40 graduates from the last half century joined current students for the program, which was intended to link Vassar’s Jewish history to its present. There were graduate speakers and speakers from the Music, Religion, History, English, and Jewish Studies department as well.

The United States Reformation Party and the Forum for Political Philosophy held a discussion called “Religion and the Left” with panelists from the Religion, Political Science, History, Philosophy, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life

Around twenty students from Vassar’s Habitat for Humanity slept outside on the Residential Quad in order to raise awareness of and funds for the homeless populations

The Years