You Deserve to be Here Too

By Kate Weiler, Staff Writer

Last week, I read an article that made me feel incredibly small. I felt powerless and hurt and confused, but mostly small. It has been five days, and I still cannot get it out of my mind. I am being brought to tears re-reading the piece and writing a response to it now. “The Admissions Office Doesn’t Care About Your Values,” a contribution to Swarthmore’s Daily Gazette, was an attempted attack on the capitalist tendencies of private institutions of higher education, a prevalent topic in the United States today, but it ultimately took aim at something else, something disturbing: students who receive financial aid to attend such institutions.

In case you have not read the article, the excerpt I take issue with is the following:

“Do I think mixing finances and admissions is fundamentally wrong? Absolutely not. Colleges are, at a basic level, private institutions that need to worry about their long term sustainability. Demonizing wealthy students is not productive because, in the end, they are paying not just for their own education but also for the education of their hyper-liberal classmates who resent the upper class at its core. Is this fair? No. But life isn’t fair. That’s reality. Stop whining and get over it. “Check your privilege” should be replaced with a warm “thank you so, so much for being forced to pay for my opportunity.””

Since its publication, countless members of the Tri-Co (Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr) community have expressed their disappointment and indignation with the content of the article and the fact that it was published by the highly regarded student newspaper. I myself was afraid to add my voice to the chorus of disapproval, and this is why this article is being published at this moment in time, and not sooner. I do not attend Swarthmore. I do not know the person who decided to put her views out there. I do not know her socioeconomic class or experiences. I am merely your average college student who made it to the institution I attend because of several different types of financial aid, who is currently being forced to combat a feeling of not belonging that this piece aggressively thrusts upon me.

The utter contempt that the above portion of the piece points at students who rely on financial aid to receive an education, whether from a state university or from a small liberal arts college like Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, is disheartening. It reinforces a hierarchy based on socioeconomic class and demeans those who have put in the extra effort to apply for and receive financial aid. I was taken aback by the assumptions the author, as entitled to her opinions as we all are, made in her stark and insulting generalizations about me and those I care about.

I will be the first to acknowledge that having the opportunity to attend Bryn Mawr was a gift, one that I have already gotten a peek at my first few weeks here, and I thank my family, friends at home and at BMC, and teachers and professors, past and present, my high school, my home state, and the admissions office who gave the girl with the sub-par GPA from Massachusetts a shot, for getting me here. The list, for now, ends there. I will not thank those who are able to pay for the entirety of their college costs without financial help. I don’t resent these people, as the author of this article insinuates that all non-upper class people such as myself do. I respect these people so, so much. Their families have no doubt worked hard to get them where they are, and hard work is one of the most respectable entity out there, in my personal opinion.

I normally don’t even separate those like me from those who didn’t need to apply for financial aid. I have friends who need financial aid, and I have friends who do not. They’re all equally my friends. By implying that all students who are aid dependent have a beef with those of higher socioeconomic status, the author of this article creates a harsh divide between classes, one I have never recognized myself. She tells me that I secretly hate my friends, my peers, and a good percent of the world. By telling me that I should thank fellow students who have more money than I happen to possess for paying for my opportunity at a good education, she implies that I am not rightfully a student of the Tri-Co. According to her, I shouldn’t be here, in Pennsylvania, writing for this newspaper. That without these students who happen to be wealthier than I am, I would not have been accepted. Like my hard work and struggles mean virtually nothing. I know that this isn’t true.

I decided to speak up about this issue because I know for a fact that articles like “The Admissions Office Doesn’t Care About Your Values” can impact students’ emotional well-being, which is the last thing sleep-deprived, stressed out students need. It sure has affected my own health in the past week. I have already questioned my being here enough, with the rigor of the courses and the extreme intelligence of my peers and friends; three weeks in, I have already felt as though I might not cut it.

With the popularity of this article, I, as well as other students who have received financial aid from their institution, state, and high school, do not need the extra anxiety that comes with being told that we owe everything to those who could pay their way in college. While I respect her as a fellow student journalist, one who is very brave for putting her opinions in the public eye, this author cannot make me ashamed of something that I needed in order to be here today. She does not get to erase the hard work I put in in high school and will continue to put in for the rest of my career at Bryn Mawr. She is not allowed to blame my family, and families like mine, for the steep cost of higher education. She cannot take away my pride in being where I am, and she sure as hell is not going to scare me away from fighting for my right to an education. I deserve to be here. All Tri-Co students, whether he or she has financial aid or not, deserve to be here. We all deserve to study, laugh, have meaningful conversations, and eat as many slices of Haffner’s pizza as we want. We don’t need to apologize for being where we are, and nobody can make us.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

John Coleman: Garbage Collector, Cook, President

By Charlie Lynn, Staff Writer

John R. Coleman, Haverford College’s ninth president and a leader in the effort to make the college co-educational, died on September 6th. He was 95.

Coleman, who was a labor economist and the first non-Quaker to lead the college, served from 1967 to 1977. In an email to the student body, current Haverford President Kim Benston described Coleman as “one of the most beloved, influential, and storied figures in the College’s modern history.”

Born in Cooper Cliff, Ontario, Coleman received his bachelor degree in economics from the University of Toronto. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II and completed his graduate work at the University of Chicago. Prior to arriving at Haverford, he taught in the economics departments of MIT and Carnegie Mellon University.

Coleman’s concern for the separation between academia and the wider world motivated his work throughout his academic career. He created a television course called The American Economy, which was shown nationally, and hosted a program on CBS entitled Money Talks. Perhaps most noteworthy was his sabbatical from presidency at Haverford, during which he worked as a garbage collector, ditch digger, and cook. After returning to Haverford, he published a well-received book, Blue Collar Journal: A College President’s Sabbatical, detailing his experiences.

At Haverford, he presided over an era of significant transformation. Most well-known was his support for making the college co-educational. Coleman advocacy on the issue was inspired by firm belief in equality. At the time, Coleman explained that the “unique opportunities of Haverford should be available to anyone of motivation, ability, and character.” His support ultimately led to his resignation when the Board of Managers decided to only admit women as transfer students in 1977.

It was only after his resignation, and the decision three years later to admit women as freshmen at the college, that Coleman’s significant role in the college’s history was fully acknowledged. He was awarded an honorary degree in 1980.

Coleman’s leadership also had other significant impacts on the college. He disbanded the football team and ended the college’s ban on students with beards or long hair from playing on college teams. Additionally, Coleman’s tenure saw the construction of the Dining Center and the North Dorms.  

Coleman helped lead the college through discussions regarding diversity and the Vietnam War, of which he was an active opponent. In May 1970, he organized for fifteen buses to bring members of the college community to Washington to protest the war.

After his tenure as president, Coleman continued his campaign for equality. He served as the president of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. There, he focused on prison reform and even went undercover again, serving as both a guard and a prisoner on multiple occasions.

Kim Benston recalled in his email to the college community, “I had the privilege of enjoying his warm friendship in recent years. From our correspondence and conversations, I grew to understand well the intensity, curiosity, and generosity that so captivated his generation of Haverfordians.”

Coleman is survived by his children, John, Steve and Nancy and seven grandchildren. The memorial service was held on Sunday, Oct. 2.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Bryn Mawr Student Wages and Employment: Expect Changes

By Emilia Otte, Copy Editor 

Administration, students, and faculty of Bryn Mawr College met on Wednesday, September 14 for the first diversity conversation of the year to discuss changes in the way student employment on campus will be structured, with a particular focus on wages and professional development.

Two major changes are currently in the works. The college is planning to restructure student jobs in order to equalize pay rates across departments. In addition to this, the administration is also exploring ways to provide more opportunities for professional development, so that students are able to acquire skills that will be useful when applying to jobs after graduation.

According to President Cassidy, the question of pay inequity on campus surfaced during last year’s Community Day of Learning. Over the summer, senior staff members of various departments looked into the question and discovered that rates of pay were not consistent across campus. In order to fix this, the college plans to create four distinct “levels” of employment that will be defined within every department in which a student can be employed. Students employed at the same level will be paid the same hourly wage, regardless of what department they are in. For example, a level one worker in dining services will be paid the same rate as a level one worker in the athletics department.

In order to make these “systemic changes,” President Cassidy explained, the college is considering bringing in outside people, possibly inviting student employment leaders from other colleges to offer their input, “just to get more expertise.” The goal is to have this new structure in place by the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

The college also hopes to enhance students’ work experiences by providing them with skills that will give them extra leverage when applying for jobs in the future. Providing training for supervisory positions, offering students a chance to reflect on their own experiences as student-workers, and instituting formal interviews and resumes as part of the job process are a few of the ideas currently being considered.

Another concern which came up during last year’s Community Day of Learning was the treatment of student workers, particularly those in dining services, which is the largest student employer on campus. According to President Cassidy, the reactions of students to their peers working in the dining halls has created a situation in which these workers are “treated in ways that are almost inhuman.” Referencing the experiences that students recounted during the Day of Learning, President Cassidy said, “It was really hard to hear those stories.”

Students are already taking steps to prevent these kinds of situations from occurring in the future. This year for the first time, first-year students took part in an hour-long workshop during customs week that focused on treating dining service workers with respect. Entitled “Humanizing the Hat”, the workshop began with an ice-breaker intended to prompt students to engage in a dialogue and ask questions. Afterwards, the dining hall supervisors facilitating the dialogue finished by sharing and reflecting on their own experiences as workers in dining services. Mercedes Aponte ’17, Co-Student Manager at Erdman, headed the project.  

Bryn Mawr College currently pays wages for 1,719 jobs on campus. Last year, the college averaged 618 students under employment- about half of the student body. Some of these students hold multiple jobs. Wages range from $9.50 to $10.50 per hour, with a few exceptions, such as TAs and graders, who are paid more.

Students on campus are technically permitted to work no more than 17.5 hours per week, but this rule is not necessarily enforced, in part because students sometimes hold multiple jobs, or else work part-time off-campus. The Dean’s Office recommends that students work no more than 10 hours per week. Dean Raima Evans said that she has witnessed first-hand how going outside these guidelines “impacts their [students’] performance here in a very significant way, over time.” Yet sticking to the prescribed number of hours has not enabled students to earn enough money to pay for the necessities of life at Bryn Mawr.

One student suggested that the college might consider providing additional benefits to its employees, such as subsidized housing for Hall Advisors. Another student brought forward the idea of offering a stipend to Customs people who, as of now, are not paid. If the college were to provide these things, it might lessen the pressure on students to work multiple jobs.

Further discussions on these topics will take place at a future date. Additionally, Dean Jennifer Walters will be holding open conversations on Wednesdays at 12 pm in the Dorothy Vernon Room in New Dorm Dining Hall.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Professor Profile: Professor Caroline Van Sickle

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

This year the Bryn Mawr community welcomes Visiting Assistant Professor Caroline Van Sickle, a paleoanthropologist and veteran of the Rising Star Project, into the anthropology and archaeology departments here at Bryn Mawr.

Professor Van Sickle focuses on paleoanthropology, the study of human bones and the kinship lines between humans and their fossil ancestors. While identifying recent bones is relatively easy, older fossils are more difficult. Professor Van Sickle’s focus is on Neanderthals and, more specifically, how to determine sex in the fossil record, as well as the process by which male and female bodies evolved. She wrote her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Michigan on how Neanderthals gave birth, and as a result, she became very well acquainted with pelvic fossils. She then did her post-doc in feminist biology at University of Wisconsin Madison, a new program that investigates how to encourage feminist principles in biological research – for example, to see if sexism and gender biases play a role in biological research.  

In 2013, the public became aware, through a series of tweets, of the Rising Star Project, an excavation in South Africa focused on finding Homo naledi, a small bodied species of humans. Professor Van Sickle, who was working on her Ph.D. at that point, recognized the project’s value immediately. “Here was an example of public paleoanthropology, which you really rarely get, and it’s a way for the public to engage with how an excavation on a paleoanthropological site works.”  The public became even more aware of the rising star project in 2015 after it was featured in both National Geographic and The New York Times.

In February of 2014, the project released an ad on Facebook seeking early career researchers who could contribute to the project by looking at and analyzing the fossils. Professor Van Sickle jumped at the chance to take part in what would become a groundbreaking project and was chosen as one of about 60 scientists whose job it was to figure out if Homo naledi was, in fact, a new species.  

The first few days were strange and hectic. When the researchers arrived at the university campus, they were greeted with a vault with “shelves upon shelve” of fossils. “There’s this law in South Africa where hominin remains have to always be under lock and key. They had this tiny broom closet of a vault before, where they kept all of the fossils that had been found in South Africa, … and it was kind of overflowing. They had just gotten done redoing [the vault], [so that] it was the size of a classroom that would … maybe fit 20 people in it … it was lined with shelves and beautiful wooden cabinets.” Van Sickle recalled, “[They]… thought, ‘Oh, this is great, we can work on filling this up for years to come.’ Rising Star took up a whole wall – it practically filled the vault.”

The researchers spent two weeks organizing the bones, figuring out what bones they had and where exactly they went. By the end of the summer, they learned that the bones represented a total of 15 individuals – from babies to adults of a relatively great age for the species. Here was a large enough sample for paleoanthropologists to be able to ask questions: about age, social discrepancies, growth patterns and biological differences between male and female.  Now that the preliminary description of the fossils has been published, Van Sickle says, they can move on to analyzing the bones in more detail and hypothesizing about how Homo naledi lived. She believes that one of the best things that came out of the project, in addition to the discovery of an entire new hominid species, is the recruitment of new scientists. This inclusiveness helps to reverse the age-old hierarchy in which older, white males are viewed as more legitimate scientists than younger, ethnically diverse and gender-diverse researchers.

She finds Bryn Mawr students to be fantastic and smart and to ask great questions while being exceedingly enthusiastic about the material. As a professor at a liberal arts college, she is drawn to the small class sizes and the opportunity to get to know her students one-on-one. She hopes that she can stay another year before heading off to – hopefully – another teaching job that focuses on anthropology somewhere else in the wide world.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

President Obama Expands and Creates Groundbreaking Marine National Monuments

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

On August 26, 2016, President Obama announced the expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea (pronounced papa-ha-now-moh-koo-ah-kay-ah) Marine National Monument in Hawaii.

Papahanaumokuakea was established under President George W. Bush in 2006.  At 140,000 square miles, it was the largest marine reserve at that time, and is home to more than 7,000 species, as well as the world’s oldest living animal, a black coral estimated to be 4,500 years old.  President Obama more than quadrupled the size of the monument, expanding it by 583,000 square miles.

Rachel Merz, a Professor of Marine Biology at Swarthmore, explains the ecological benefits of expanding the reserve. “Tropical islands are of special conservation importance because of their high proportion of endemic species…, so protecting a whole tropical island chain [which this expansion does] makes it much more likely that a wide diversity of organisms… will be sheltered.”

This expansion is important from a political standpoint as well as environmental standpoint. Professor Don Barber of Bryn Mawr says, “For better or worse, high-level policy statements…  matter, because they express the values, knowledge and understanding of … society. … President Obama’s sweeping expansion of a Pacific National Marine Monument expresses that we [US citizens…] value the ocean and hope to protect it….”

Less than a month later, President Obama   announced the creation of another momentous marine reserve—the first one of its kind in the Atlantic Ocean. This monument, called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, is roughly the size of Connecticut and is located off the coast of Cape Cod. It encompasses four seamounts and three marine canyons and is home to several endangered species, including sperm whales, fin whales, sei whales, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, ancient deep-sea coral and species of fish unique to the region. According to The New York Times, the monument is in an area of the Atlantic where ocean temperatures are projected to warm as much as three times as fast as the global average, making these species even more endangered.

Barber elaborated on the importance of this site. “The move to protect large areas in two very different regions of the ocean underscores that we value and consider it important to protect a diversity of marine habitats. … While the expanded Pacific region holds some coral atolls that we often consider ‘pristine tropical paradise,’ the new site in the Northwest Atlantic is rather different due to its higher latitude.”

The expansions have caused concern among the fishing industries. Fisherman in the Pacific fear that the expansion of Papahanaumokuakea to include territory previously used for fishing will hurt the fishing industry. Atlantic fishing, lobster and red crab industries are not thrilled with the establishment of the new reserve near Cape Cod, predicting that it will likely hurt their economic yield. To mitigate this effect, the lobster and crab industries will be  given a seven-year grace period before they will be required to stop all proceedings in the area.

Both marine reserves were created under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows the president to create national monuments in order to protect natural, cultural or scientific entities. During his administration, Obama has used this act to protect hundreds of millions of acres—more than any other president.

His actions have caused a great deal of contention among Republicans who believe he is abusing his power. This is likely because “both actions weigh long-term values more heavily than short-term economic benefits,” as Professor Carol Hager of Bryn Mawr points out. “It is difficult to do this in normal policy making because of the power that interest groups have in our legislative system … There is always a trade-off between use for immediate, usually economic benefit and preservation value for generalized, not always economically quantifiable benefit. In this case there will be long-term economic benefits in that the oceans will become more resilient against climate change. However, as President Obama pointed out, it’s about more than that. These unique, beautiful seascapes are part of who we are.”

The results of expanding and establishing these marine reserves may not be immediate, but they are valuable enough to grab our attention. “We should care…if we care about having a healthy planet with a diversity of species.” Professor Joshua Moses of Haverford says. Hager says, “You should care because this is your legacy. The long term is where your children will live. What kind of world do you want them to live in?”

Everyone should be expected to do their part to keep these unique ecosystems from being lost. Merz notes, “We all make dozens of small decisions in a day that impact natural systems … Over our lifetimes and over the lifetimes of the people we influence those small decisions add up to big differences … Being conscious of the environmental consequences of those … decisions is a responsibility we share.”

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Dr. John Wai Speaks at BMC About Creating an Anti-HIV Drug

By Emma Nelson, Staff Writer

On Friday, September 30th, Dr. John Wai of WuXi Apptec (formerly Merck & Co.) spoke in the Park Science Building on Bryn Mawr’s campus. He was introduced by Professor Malachowski, who is standing in as chair of the Chemistry department. Malachowski was warm, and explained that he knew Dr. Wai through Wai’s wife, whom he had met many years ago while collaborating on research. Malachowski continued to give the audience of several dozen people a brief background on Dr. Wai.

Wai has studied at the University of Hong Kong and the University of British Columbia, and completed post-doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked at Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company, for many years. During his distinguished career, Dr. Wai and his colleagues have been awarded the Prix Galien and ACS Heroes of Chemistry Awards for their work on Isentress™, an anti-HIV drug.

After the introduction, Dr. Wai himself stepped up and began his presentation, entitled “Discovery of HIV Integrase Inhibitors: From Diketoacid Hit to Raltegravir and Beyond.” He started by talking about the situation in 1997, when he and his team commenced their research. HIV/AIDS was an epidemic, he explained, showcasing World Health Organization global estimates on annual deaths at the time. There were few treatment options available, no vaccines, and incomplete structural information from which to base their research. This, Wai explained, made the first steps along their path to developing Isentress™ very difficult.

Academic papers on HIV-1 integrase (the part of the virus which attaches to host DNA and infects the host for life) concluded that it was “undruggable,” that it would be impossible to stop a person from being infected once exposed. However, Wai and his team persisted with their research. A major help to their efforts was collaboration with other scientists who were also working on the problem of inhibiting HIV integrase. This problem is that HIV is a stoichiometric enzyme. A “stoichiometric enzyme” refers to a particular atypical property of HIV: it can only do its job (infecting the host) once. If it is prevented, the virus becomes useless.

With this additional information, Wai and his team moved along with the early stages of drug development. In fact, they moved into Pre-Clinical Research, an important step on the way toward clinical animal and human trial, with only one “lead,” or prototype, instead of the typical two or more. This quickly transformed into clinical testing on animals: first rats, then eventually dogs and rhesus monkeys.

First results from the testing on rats went so well, Wai explained in good humor, that his team had a party in celebration. However, Wai grew serious as he continued. By the end of the week, no more than five days after the unbelievable news about their lead’s success, Wai was called and told that the dogs, in the second stage of clinical trials, had grown so sick that they had to be put down. Changes had to be made in certain properties of the chemical to make it safer, and with the determination of Wai and his colleagues, the lead was soon improved.

To explain the clinical trials on human patients, Wai presented an anecdote about his friend Skip, a man with HIV. Wai’s lead moved into human testing, but Skip was not able to join the clinical trials, due to his triple-class resistance, a certain state which is characterized by resistance to different types of antiretroviral drugs. Knowing that this was the case for many patients who desperately needed the drugs provided in clinical trials, Merck & Co. took a risk to get unqualified patients the prototype drug. However, this risk paid off for Wai’s friend Skip, whose HIV was undetectable for the first time in 20 years.

“I couldn’t hold back tears … no award is better than this,” Wai remembered thinking the first time he saw the newly-healthy Skip.

Dr. Wai finished his presentation with an overview of research done to prevent mutations of the HIV virus from halting or impairing the potency and efficacy of his new drug. Using three-dimensional computer models of his team’s prototype, Wai showcased one thing he could not understand: a feature of the molecular structure that should not have helped the drug work. If someone had told him to design the prototype like this, he explained, he would have called them wrong. Despite this inexplicable quirk, Isentress™ was approved by the FDA in 2007, as it passed through the human clinical trials and completed FDA review and monitoring successfully. Wai concluded that it took a lot of work- two decade’s worth, on his part- and luck to develop this drug from start to finish.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

“Last Friday Night”

By Vidya Ramaswamy, Layout Editor

Dr. Dana Litt, an Assistant Professor in the University of Washington’s Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, came to Bryn Mawr on Sept. 28 to discuss her research about how social media affects alcohol consumption among young adults.

“What I’m arguing today is that the Internet and social media is a risk conducive environment,” Litt said.

In the US, about 75% of alcohol consumption occurs during heavy episodic drinking. However, that rate jumps to 90% for people from ages 18-29. Litt says that while research might indicate that alcohol consumption is decreasing, when focusing on periods of heavy episodic drinking, especially within this age group, alcohol consumption is actually increasing.

Litt talked about how she was interested in finding the reason for this trend.

“We need to take a step back and ask why young adults engage in something that does have negative consequences,” Litt said.

Litt explained how the majority of theoretical models are based on the idea that when people choose to take a risk, their thoughts are logical and reasoned. Though these models often work, for age groups younger than 20 they begin to crumble. While there are people who give risks a lot of thought, most don’t.

This led Litt to using the Prototype Willingness Model in her research. This model puts forward that some people might make decisions based on social factors and immediate environment rather than what is intentional and planned.

“A recent study showed that of young adults aged 18-29, 85% had on their own Facebook wall said something about alcohol in the last month,” Litt said. “People are suddenly seeing a lot of alcohol online.”

This means that alcohol has a greater presence in young adults’ environments than it did before.

“What I wanted to do was design an experiment where I could look at the direction of this,” Litt said. “When I started thinking about how to theoretically frame things, I thought about the role of norms. Your thoughts about what others are doing turns out to be the strongest predictor of substance use. The reason for this could be that norms are being shifted by what is online.”

Litt conducted an experiment where her test subjects, people of ages from 13-15, saw four Facebooks profiles that either showed alcohol use or did not. In the end of the experiment, those who saw alcohol were significantly more willing to use alcohol in the future than those who did not. How favorably they viewed people who drink also increased. Since each experiment only lasted 40 minutes, it’s clear that adolescents’ norms can be shifted very quickly.

Litt concluded by providing ways to stop this phenomenon. One is simply correcting the norm: if people are made aware that their views on how others behave are skewed, they can adjust their lifestyles accordingly. Another method is reminding people of negative consequences they have had to face due to periods of excessive drinking in the past and letting them think about how they can prevent them. People can also be encouraged to think critically about what they see online by thinking about someone’s motivation for posting a photo or realizing that they cannot see everything that is happening in the photo.

Litt was applauded at the end of the presentation, which was followed-up by a short Q&A.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Hitting the Ground Running in the First Presidential Debate of 2016

By Abby Hoyt, Co-Editor-in-Chief

In this historic election, it is extremely important that voters remain informed of the actions, past and present, of both candidates. There have been a lot of scandals bouncing around the media recently,, so let’s take this opportunity to break those down and look at the facts.

Clinton: The FBI investigation into her personal email account:

Most government employees are encouraged to have two separate devices and accounts: one for official governmental affairs and one for personal correspondence. However, during her tenure as  Secretary of State, Clinton merged the two onto a single device and a single email account on a home server that was left over from her failed 2008 campaign. According to Politico, having a personal email account doesn’t break any rules, but the use of private servers does raise concerns about security. . For this reason, government employees are instead encouraged to forward emails to official accounts so that they can be recorded.

Beginning in 2011, Clinton’s email server started to experience “brute force attacks”, characterized by several unsuccessful attempts at guessing a username and password. The account was hacked several times and links containing viruses were consistently being sent to the email account . In March 2013, the server was hacked by a man named Marcel Lazar Lehel with the intention of distributing the information to the public.

Although the media’s focus on the scandal seems relatively recent , the existence of the private email account first came to light during the investigation into the Benghazi attacks in Libya in February 2013. When the State Department pulled their relevant documents they noticed that they didn’t have on record a lot of Clinton’s emails and asked her to produce them. She complied with their request.  Clinton announced her campaign for the presidency in April 2015, but the emails were not released to the public until February 2016.

The subsequently released FBI investigation summary concluded that although  her actions were “extremely careless”, criminal prosecution was not necessary. Additionally, the Select Committee on Benghazi, which was formed in 2014 to investigate events leading up to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya, found no evidence requiring court action against Clinton.

Trump: Where are your tax returns?

The “that makes me smart,” comment from Trump in response to Clinton’s accusation that he hadn’t paid taxes in two decades certainly confirmed some rumors floating around about Trump’s tax record. Trump’s excuse for failing to release his tax returns is that the IRS is auditing him. He has said on multiple occasions that when the audit is complete, he will release his tax returns.

Presidential candidates release their tax returns in order to to reveal any potential conflicts of interest. Every other presidential nominee since 1976 has released their tax returns to the public during his or her campaign. The problem with Trump’s excuse, however, is that being audited doesn’t prevent one from releasing their tax returns.

The Clinton Foundation:

The Clinton Foundation is a NGO that supports programs around the world that   influence economic development, climate change, health, and women’s issues. As a global charity, they accept donations from any country in the world.

Critics have argued that this donation policy violates the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which explicitly forbid foreigners from giving financial contributions to any election on the federal, state, or local level. Throughout the duration of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, The Clinton Foundation has continued to receive foreign donations, but if Clinton is elected in November, then the foundation will renounce these sources of funding. Until then, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told CNN that the existing donations will continue to go towards this “important, life-saving work.”

The Blind Trust:

Normally when a presidential candidate takes office, they put their assets into a blind trust to avoid any conflicts of interest. A blind trust is a temporary transfer of investments to an independent trustee. The original trustee is not permitted to direct or advise the independent trustee for the duration of the trust’s existence. Donald Trump, however, recently said that he would “probably have [his] children run it with [his] executives,” an arrangement which does not constitute a blind trust. 

The Debate:

The first presidential debate was held at Hofstra University on Monday September 26. According to CNN, over 80 million people tuned in to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off. This is the highest recorded viewing population in the past 60 years.

While the debate was mostly characterized by dialogue between the two candidates, it did address  some central campaign issues, such as the economy, responses to their respective scandals, and fighting terror at home and abroad.

Clinton’s economic proposal includes increasing jobs in technology, infrastructure, clean renewable energy and small business, whereas Trump proposes giving tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations that can use the money they save to open more locations and create more jobs.  The economic approach that Trump recommends,  called “trickle-down economics”,  has been criticized for being a contributing factor in the formation of the Wall Street corruption that caused the housing bubble to burst in 2008.

The candidates also spent a lot of time discussing their plans to increase American job opportunities. Clinton’s priority lies within “helping families balance the responsibilities at home and the responsibilities in business.” She spent most of her allotted two minutes talking about how she was going to fight for equal pay for women, paid family leave, affordable childcare, and raising the minimum wage. Trump instead focused on the international implications of our job market, stating, “Our jobs are fleeing the country.” He  maintained that the actions of the Obama Administration and Janet Yellen, Chairwomen of The Federal Reserve Bank, were forcing companies to leave the United States and move to China and Mexico.

Both candidates were also given the opportunity to address their biggest scandals. Moderator Lester Holt began by referencing  Trump’s inability to release his tax returns to the public, and posed the question “Don’t Americans have the right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?”  Trump repeated the same answer that he has given to reporters in the past; he assured Holt that he would release the tax returns once the audit was complete. However, when Holt tried to inform Trump about the possibility of releasing taxes during an audit, Trump merely  repeated the  same answer.

Clinton responded to questions about the FBI’s investigation into her use of a personal email account to conduct business during her tenure as Secretary of State, saying,. “If I had to do it over again I would obviously do it differently. But I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that.”

Given how tight the race is and just how much is at stake, Holt’s final question pushed each candidate to address how they would respond were they not chosen as the next president of the United States. Clinton took this opportunity to stress the importance of voting in this election, declaring, “this election’s really up to you [the voter].” Trump took a more direct approach. “I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is if she wins I will absolutely support her.”

This debate was only the first of three. The coming two debates will be held on October 9 at Washington University in Saint Louis and October 19 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Debate Topic Highlights:

Debate Topic Trump Clinton
Jobs “Ours jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico they’re going to many other countries.” “First we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs with rising incomes.”
Clean Energy “We invested in a solar company, our country. That was a disaster.” “We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid.”
Taxing the Rich “Under my plan I will be reducing taxes tremendously from thirty-five percent to fifteen percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan.” “And so what I believe is the more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in you, your education, your skills, your future, the better we will be off and the better we will grow. That’s the kind of economy I want to see again.”
Scandals (releasing tax returns and email) “I don’t mind releasing. I’m under a routine audit. And it will be released. And as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.” “And if I had to do it over again I would obviously do it differently. But I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that.”
Race Relations “And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.” “We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they’re well prepared to use force only when necessary.”
Terror “The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe, it’s hardly doable. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester. And certainly cyber is one of them.” “We are not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information. Our private-sector information or our public-sector information. And we’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare, but we will defend the citizens of this country.”
Birther Movement “When I got involved, I didn’t fail, I got him to give the birth certificate. So I’m satisfied with it, and I’ll tell you why I’m satisfied with it.” “He [Trump] has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted. He persisted year after year because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold apparently believed it or wanted to believe it.”
Hillary’s Candidacy “She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country you need tremendous stamina.” “Well as soon as he travels to one hundred and twelve countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release if dissidents, and opening of new opportunities and nations around the world or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”


*all quotes are taken from NPR’s debate transcript. A copy of which can be found at

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Haverford Plenary Hardly “Hella Brief”

By Charlie Lynn, Staff Writer

On Sunday, September 25, the Haverford student gathered for fall plenary. The student body passed two proposed resolutions, the first which created the role of Community Outreach Multicultural Liaisons, and the second which created the role of Coordinator for Haverford Student Innovation Programs, in addition to ratifying the Alcohol Policy.

After a moment of silence, Students’ Council Co-Presidents Tristan Pepin ’18 and Ian Andolsek ’17 offered the rules for plenary and highlighted the agenda items.

The first resolution, presented by Maurice Rippel ’19 and Leah Budson ’19, created the role of Community Outreach Multicultural Liaisons (COM). The COM Liaisons would work with the Honor Council on issues related to identity. The Liaisons, who would be elected in pairs, would serve as liaisons between community members and the Honor Council. The Liaisons would not be full members of Honor Council but rather would serve as advisers and as resources for students uncomfortable with confrontation.

Prior to the beginning of Plenary, Rippel explained that, “power dynamics always exist in confrontation, whether between a Customs Person and a first-year, a black student and white student. People don’t always feel comfortable”.  

Rippel continued that he hoped the resolution would “help address issues of race in the code and start a conversation about how confrontation doesn’t work for everyone”. He stressed that these conversation were not always happening.

When the question-and-answer session began, few students had questions for the presenters. Toward the end of the ten minutes allotted for questions, some students asked how the Liaisons would be trained and whether the requirements for one member of the pair of Liaisons to be a person of color could be extended for other identity groups.

Budson and Rippel explained to the community that the liaisons would be trained, in conjunction with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, in mediation and diversity. Budson also offered that she hoped that the role would eventually be transformed into a committee which would better encompass a greater number of identities. No comments were made in favor or against the resolution during the pro-con debate.

Andolsek said he did not see the lack of pro-con debate comments on the resolution as being indicative of community-wide hesitation to talk about identity issues, a situation which Rippel had alluded to in an interview earlier.

He explained, “I am not sure this reflected a hesitation to talk about identity. This is [by agreeing to the resolution], in the eyes of the student body, something that the student body is consistently interested”. The resolution passed with no visible opposition.

The second resolution of the evening, presented by Andolsek, Pepin, Nathan Sokolic, ’19, Dorian Wirz ’17 and Yue Xiang ’17 created the position of Coordinator of Haverford Innovation Program to work with the college on issues relating to innovation initiatives on campus. Co-Presidents Andolsek and Pepin temporarily gave the responsibility of running Plenary to SC Co-Vice Presidents Julia Blake ’19 and Sergio Diaz ’17 to speak on behalf of their resolution.

The presenters highlighted the administration’s recent focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as the reason for the proposed creation of the appointed position to represent student interests in discussions. The speakers explained that the college was moving in the direction of adding more programs related to innovation and that it was the student body’s decision whether they would like a voice in these discussions.

Pepin and Andolesk – who as SC co-Presidents both have taken a direct interest in the issue – told students that they wanted to ensure that, if future presidents were not as interested in innovation initiatives, that student voices would still be heard.

During the question-and-answer session and pro-con debate, students questioned the necessity of the position.

Daniel Washburn ’17 said, “I don’t see a huge ground swelling of interest [in these programs]” He explained that he believed that the administrator was simply seeking legitimacy for a decision that had already been made. The resolution easily passed, however there were numerous votes in opposition to the resolution.

The debate to ratify the Alcohol Policy led to the most controversial and contentious portion of the evening. After a length of discussion with JSAAPP chairs Michael Bueno ’18 and Brandon Alleyne ’17, two groups of students proposed friendly amendments to the Alcohol Policy. One proposal led by Kevin Medansky ’19 sought to amend the Alcohol Policy to include JSAAPP’s Party Guidelines. A second group of students offered a proposal for JSAAPP to form a committee to conduct regular surveys on alcohol culture at Haverford.

Numerous objections were raised regarding the constitutionality of such a proposal as well as what the proposed survey would look like. After lengthy discussions among students, Andolsek and Pepin announced that they believed a vote on the proposals would not be allowed since making changes to the Alcohol Policy was not on the plenary agenda. They explained changes to the agenda had to have been made before discussing the first resolution.

Many students, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed frustration that the issue was not resolved as soon as the amendments were proposed.  

However, Andolsek was quick to push back on that assessment. He explained, “The way the constitution is written now, it’s not exactly a homogeneous document. If you read it line by line you can see that things don’t always add up. It was not until later when we realized the constitution leans more on the side of this is being something that we can’t do.”

Despite the unconstitutional debate regarding the changes to the Alcohol Policy, which extended the length of plenary, students generally agreed the evening was worthwhile. Elana Kates ’19 summed up her feelings on plenary saying that “the act is hard to sit through. However, even if I get bored, being involved is part of being of this community.”

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Fall 2016 Plenary Reaches Quorum in Record Time

By Sophie Webb, Features Editor

Bryn Mawr students passed one resolution at Fall Plenary on the evening of Sunday, September 25, after reaching quorum in 59 minutes.

Sunday’s plenary was slightly different than plenaries of the past.  According to current SGA President Rhea Manglani, “Starting at 7 p.m. was the biggest [difference]. We reached quorum so fast… in the [SGA] constitution it states that we can wait for quorum for up to 3 hours, but the move to night plenaries looks permanent right now so we’re looking into updating that rule to be significantly shorter.”  

Quorum, the gathering of one-third of the student body, or 460 students, has previously taken close to three hours of waiting for students to trickle in. On this Sunday, quorum was reached in a little under an hour. Jocelyn Martinez ‘18 said, “It was a little surprising, to be honest. As a senior I’ve had the opportunity to experience my fair share of plenaries… I was moved that the Bryn Mawr community finally came through on fulfilling our civic duties.”

Hosted by the Self-Governance Association (SGA), Plenary is one of Bryn Mawr’s oldest traditions. Formed in 1892, Bryn Mawr SGA became the first self-governance association at an institution of higher education in the United States. Since then, SGA and Plenary have provided the opportunity for students to voice their ideas and create change within the college, a defining aspect of the Bryn Mawr experience.

Bryn Mawr’s plenary is operated under the system known as Robert’s Rules of Order.  The rules call for one-third of the student body, quorum, to be present before the proceedings begin, and allow for time-specified discussion and voting. On Sunday, the single resolution, presented by Genesis Perez-Melara’19 and Mariana Garcia ‘19, called for an updated resignation process within SGA itself.

 The resolution, which, after some discussion and amending, passed by a visible margin, stated that, “any member of the assembly who needs to resign their position must send a resignation letter at least four weeks before their official resignation date.” The resolution also stated that if a representative must resign their position immediately, they must find a temporary replacement until a new representative is voted on.

Students in general seem pleased with how plenary went.  Creighton Ward ’19 said, “I was pleased with how quickly we reached quorum and how smoothly the process went.” SGA president Manglani acknowledged that, “It was a little rough at times, but it was our first plenary and with the hours you spend planning, the quorum wait, and the constant anxiety of how plenary will go, things are bound to not run perfectly. But overall, I hope we can keep a similar model for the Spring just with more resolutions and shorter waiting time.” Although Manglani believes things could have gone smoother, she is excited because, “we received a lot of good feedback that we’re going to use to make next semester’s plenary run a lot more smoothly, so stay tuned for that in the spring!”

From the print edition published on Oct 5, 2016