Author Archives: Angela M. Webber

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Reading list lacks in diversity

by Angela Webber

Hanako Conrad (’10) and other students are working to include a requirement of one book by a person of color to the Exploration & Discovery core curriculum. The current first semester curriculum contains a list of shared books with an overwhelming predominance of majority males.

Conrad and other students have formed a group to address this issue. “After the poster incident, it became clear that students at LC don’t know how to talk about diversity,” said Conrad. Conrad also attended a forum for students of color put on by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, in which she heard concerns from students about the E&D curriculum. “They want to read a book by a person like them,” said Conrad. “Some of the students said that they even felt alienated. In a course that everyone has to take, this is unacceptable.”

Conrad believes that adding a book by a person of color to the E&D curriculum would be a “small step in a good direction” for creating a more culturally competent campus. “If we have these ‘practice’ discussions in E&D, it might be easier to have them later,” said Conrad.

Students and staff alike are seeking a place for this conversation. Dean of the College Julio De Paula and Associate Dean Jane Hunter sent an e-mail to the CAS faculty and staff, challenging LC employees to come up with ideas that will help the College develop a “vocabulary that would allow us to speak openly about race and ethnicity in our community.” De Paula also mentioned in Wednesday’s faculty meeting the idea of establishing E&D classes as a forum to have difficult discussions on these issues.

The curriculum for each individual E&D class is decided by the particular faculty member teaching that class, but there are at least three “common works” for all fall E&D classes.

These common works are determined by a meeting of the faculty members who are teaching E&D in a particular fall semester. This year’s E&D faculty selected seven common works for last semester’s class. The “common works” for next year will be decided in a meeting in mid to late April.

Conrad and her group, which includes five core members and a 25-member e-mail list, want to have two students on the committee to choose the common works, and to add a requirement that faculty choose one book by a person of color for the fall class. Conrad said that she did not want just one book to be chosen and mandated for all E&D classes. She would like to reduce tokenism and to allow faculty to choose a book that fits their idea of the E&D course.

“We realize that what we’re asking is complicated,” said Conrad. Since these initiatives would require revising the E&D charter, they are long-term goals. In the immediate future, Conrad has been working with Director of the E&D program Becko Copenhaver to solve the problem for Fall 2010 E&D classes.

Only 75 percent of the needed faculty for next year’s E&D program has been staffed thus far. Becko Copenhaver gave Conrad a list of the faculty members who are lined up to teach E&D next year. Conrad plans to lobby these faculty members to add a book to the curriculum for 2010. “We are asking them to agree on a book by a person of color for the common works, or if not, to include a book in their individual courses,” said Conrad, who is working with faculty to compile a list of suggested books.

E&D will have 27 sections in the fall, and is a general education requirement most first-years and some transfers complete during their first year at LC. Teaching E&D is not required of faculty, and getting teachers for the program is not easy, said Copenhaver. “Putting lots of additional constraints, even if they are good and justified, makes it even more difficult to staff,” said Copenhaver.

Conrad recognizes that some faculty might be uncomfortable teaching a book or having a discussion about issues of diversity. “We hope to create some sort of training for them,” said Conrad. She suggested that E&D faculty select a book they might read over the summer and discuss, in order to equip them for the discussions they will be having with their students in the fall.

Conrad’s group is also working on revising the way tenure-track faculty members are selected, seeking to change the way “service” is defined from the number of boards on which a professor sits to a criterion that reflects more visibility with students. They also want to see a policy for changing visiting professors to tenure-track faculty.

Editor’s Note: Putting our school in perspective

by Nichole Carnell

Thanks to generous funding from the ASLC Finance Committee, six journalists from the Pioneer Log attended a national college journalism convention in Phoenix last weekend and gained an abundance of media knowledge. As we mingled with our colleagues, not only did we learn how to improve the PioLog, but we also found that Lewis & Clark is not half bad.

Regardless of how many problems you might think this institution is plagued with, LC is incredible compared to some of the other places of higher education we learned about this weekend. From ignorant administrators to reporters failing to grasp even the simplest political knowledge, other colleges have bigger problems than we ever dreamed of. The following may sound like a little ass kissing, but praise must be given to this place after I’ve seen what exists “out there.”

First of all, the LC administrators legitimately care about granting students access to information. As the leaders of student media on campus, we have yet to encounter an unfair or malicious administrator who refused to share information we deserved. Dean of Students Celestino Limas has show us many times that he is committed to sharing information, and his willingness to accommodate our needs is a privilege other college media seem to lack.

I heard horror stories, such as an administration covering up a hazing and then claiming the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act as an excuse for not releasing information. While transparency may be a reoccurring complaint amongst community members, it is nice to be able to speak in person to our Dean rather than his secretary’s secretary.

But I wouldn’t give all the credit to our administration; LC students are also an exceptional collection. For example, I would wager the contents of my piggy bank that every person on this campus can tell me what the far right is. At a convention keynote, editorial cartoonist David Benson put up a cartoon displaying the picture of a large, sloppy looking blob in a suit with the words “far right” displayed above him. The majority of the audience laughed, but one student-reporter turned to their neighbor and asked,  “What does ‘far right’ mean?”

Let that sink in.

Yes, esteemed co-eds, not everyone is as sharp as the knives in the LC kitchen. While we may think that our tuition is high and the range of courses too small, it was a relief this past weekend to know that we didn’t shop generic on our education and it is paying off splendidly.

Not only is this one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, it’s also just a solid choice all around. Be thankful we don’t deal with much hazing or violence but instead are surrounded by smarties, and those who hold the power don’t wield it unfairly. This proverbial, liberal arts utopia is one we should be proud of. If our biggest problems rest in the misunderstandings of a poster of protest, we are happy to stay right here.

‘Know LC’ explains how students can create change

by Joshua Kaplan

Administrators and student representatives presented on their roles and the organization of Lewis & Clark at “Know LC” on March 1 in Stamm. During the hour and a half event, seven speakers discussed the role of their respective groups.

ASLC President Brad Elkins (’10) spoke about student government. He emphasized the need for students to give ASLC feedback.

“Oftentimes we work on things students don’t like us to,” Elkins said, as a joke. He recommended that students contact anyone on the flowchart posted outside of the ASLC offices with questions or concerns. Alternately, students can email ASLC@lclark.edu.

More seriously, Elkins said, “We don’t know what to change unless you tell us.”

ASLC Treasurer Dith Pamp (’11) and SAAB Representative Zeb Larson (’10) spoke about the differences between the ASLC Finance Committee and the Student Academic Affairs Board. SAAB provides one-time grants for research, visiting scholars and arts and humanities efforts, Larson said.

Pamp explained that the ASLC Finance Committee is more for recurring funding such as for student groups. Technically, though, SAAB is a part of ASLC Finance Committee. Pamp encouraged students to use up the funds, saying that SAAB starts with 30,000 dollars at the beginning of the semester and wants to end with nothing

“If you have a good idea, we have money to throw at you,” Pamp said.

Associate Dean of Students Jeffrey Feld-Gore explained the role of deans and associate deans. Deans, he said, constantly track how the College functions. Associate deans help them.

Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer Celestino Limas explained what the Executive Council does. The Executive Council is at the level above deans. Limas emphasized the need to communicate with students more, demonstrating his point by asking how many people know who is on the Executive Council. Of the students who answered, Limas was the only member they got right.

Still, Limas touted the increased communication between the student governments of the Graduate School of Education, Law School and the College of Arts and Sciences, particularly on shared issues like financial transparency and transportation.

Interim President Jane Atkinson explained the role of the Board of Trustees. They have the ultimate responsibility of the College, she said. There is no higher group than the 501(c) body which controls the College, yet it delegates much of its power to the aforementioned groups.

The group of 18 to 40 people, 70 percent of whom are LC alumni and are primarily lawyers and bankers, forms the Board of Trustees, along with a few non-voting students of each of the three schools.

Lastly, Associate Vice President for Campus Life Michael Ford delivered a forty-year history of student and faculty-led efforts and activism at the school. His examples included students taking over the Manor House in 1972 to protest America’s secret bombing of Cambodia and the Sawdust Festival of Arts and Crafts in 1973, which later became downtown Portland’s Saturday Market.

Afterwards, students from Students Engaged in Eco-Defense (SEED) and Students United for Real Food (SURF) and other groups asked questions concerning the College’s budget. A SURF member wanted to know how to obtain the financial records of Bón Appetít to ascertain exactly how environmentally conscious the school’s food provider is.

Student Ant-Genocide Coalition (STAND) Co-President, Resident Advisor Nicola Warmuth (’12) organized the event along with Resident Advisors Ian Feis (’12), Zeb Larson (’10), Dith Pamp (’11) and Angela Webber (’10).

As a student leader who is not involved with student government, Warmuth said that she wanted to change LC, but didn’t always know how to.

“Knowing how things work is the first step to changing them,” Warmuth said.

Concerning another great resource for students, Warmuth said that she realized too late who else she should have invited to speak: faculty.

SEED member Lucien Childs-Mitchell (’12) said he attended “Know LC” because he “wanted to become more proficient at organizing things.”

Similarly, RA Alison Dubchansky (’12) said that “when organizing events, it’s good to know who to contact.”

Letters to the Editor 3/5/10

Senate article paints an unfairly pessimistic picture

After reading Danny Garcia’s article, “Student senate needs to shape up,” we couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. Garcia and we are in fact members of the same Senate. The picture he paints of the ASLC Student Senate does not do it justice. The Senate is not perfect: It is a fledgling democracy, still in the first year of its life. Even so, when you look at how far we’ve come over the past six months, the track record of the Senate is actually quite impressive.

The Senate has accumulated a laudable list of accomplishments. We’ve passed resolutions on weighty issues like student alcohol use, investment transparency, and greener campus energy. We’ve resolved to look into issues with print balances and weekend academic building access. We have been factored into crucial discussions about the chapel addition, smoking policy, hate speech and the College’s master plan.

Most importantly, the Senate has afforded students a voice in the affairs of the College. The Senate is a formidable force, and the legislation it passes is read, regarded and respected by administrators. Those “important people” who make decisions for the College are genuinely concerned when students are unhappy about something, notably when that unhappiness is expressed formally in legislation adopted by the Senate.

Though we agree with Garcia that the lack of rules of procedure and bylaws has made our sessions seem disorderly at times, it is certainly neither a “chaotic farce” nor a “joke” (also, as a point of clarification, the Senate is currently reviewing a draft of new bylaws that should come into effect within the next two weeks). The Senate listens, and it is listened to. It is representative, formalized, open and forceful. It is an outlet for students to formally express their views and have those views heard and respected. If you have your doubts, come to a Senate session. We promise we’ll prove you wrong.

The ASLC Executive Cabinet

ASLC Student Senate sessions take place every Thursday at 7 p.m. in J.R.Howard Hall Room 102, and all students are welcome to attend. Information about the Senate and legislation that has been passed can be found at http://go.lclark.edu/aslc.

Student government doing just fine

ASLC has made significant progress in representing the student body’s voice—Senate’s existence is a huge part of this, replacing a system that was run by a board, corporate-style. While the PioLog offers a solid critique of remaining issues, it leaves a key question unasked: is a system that channels representation through interest groups and factions best? Such a system is certainly familiar, and perhaps that familiarity breeds comfort: it mirrors the USA, where legislators (read: ASLC Senators) represent districts/states/etc. (read: Junior class/ISLC/etc.). While this system makes governing a nation of over 300 million manageable, this does not necessarily make it ideal for a residential college of a less than 2 thousand. There are two key issues with this system:
(1) One Size Does Not Fit All. Connecting representation to class standing, ISLC membership, or choice to be an athlete (the three non-executive groups that get votes) assumes that those are the only (or at least the most important) ways that LCers group themselves. Woe betide the First-Year who mostly hangs out with Sophomores, or others who do not identify first and foremost with the ‘right’ group.

(2) Stifles Student Leadership. To have a Senator’s direct voice in ASLC, you need to start the year knowing that you want to do it until May, have at least 25 supporters lined up, and be in good academic/conduct standing. Didn’t figure out that you wanted to make a change until October? Needed extra time to clear up that conduct thing from last semester? Fresh transfer student? Too bad—no Senate for you. At a school where study abroad is integral, we require Senators to serve for a full year. In a community that encourages its members to reflect on what causes matter to them, and how they can most effectively and responsibly fight for their beliefs, we close opportunities to those who do not reflect quickly enough.

There is a different way—and the difference, while small, has huge potential. Senate would begin its year with a few core members—the VP and class reps, for example—who would each have one vote. In addition, any student who attended a certain number of consecutive Senate meetings (say 2 or 3) would also become a voting member. Just as under the current rules, any senator who misses too many meetings may lose their position. Variants upon this system are used at other liberal arts colleges where student governments wield considerable power, and would allow LC students to make their voices heard individually and collectively, being flexible enough to meet LC’s unique circumstances, while also requiring those who want to be involved in student governance to focus beyond their personal interests.

David Rosengard

Forest Area Director

College of Arts and Sciences

Budget cuts preserve academics, affect most other areas

by Angela Webber

The Lewis & Clark budget for 2010-11 was approved by the Board of Trustees during their meeting last Thursday and Friday. This budget increased CAS tuition by four percent, eliminated one position, froze salaries, and reduced the College’s contribution to most employee’s retirement plans from 10 to nine percent of salaries. The budget was all passed except for a new short-term investment policy which was tabled to be reexamined at the Board’s May meeting.

Dean of the College Julio De Paula said that those creating the new budget wanted to assure that the academic core of the College was maintained, and looked elsewhere to make necessary cuts.

The biggest change in structuring came from the change to a College-run bookstore. The bookstore will also be absorbing the retail computer sales function of the Computer Purchasing Program (CPP) in IT. The IT department had to reduce its budget by $127,000 according to Chief Technology Officer Dan Terrio. Terrio saw this budget reduction as a “puzzle” to make cuts without reducing services to students and staff, and realized that some personnel cuts would need to be made. Terrio eliminated the Administrative Coordinator position in IT, meaning that 10-year employee and alumna Nancy Magnus (’71) lost her job.

The two staff positions in the CPP will remain, and these two employees will take some of the Administrative Coordinator functions once the bookstore takes over computer retail sales this summer. Terrio expects this transition to take several months. IT will continue to handle the purchasing departmental computers.

The layoff of Magnus caused concern, especially in the IT department. These concerns were exacerbated by the announcement on The Source about the budget that said that positions were maintained and emphasized the net gain of 3.5 positions. The Source revised the story on Wednesday in response to these concerns.

“Anytime that you are in a situation where there are cuts it’s concerning,” said Associate Director of Human Resources Kris Codron. “Whether it’s budget cuts, or personnel cuts, or program cuts, or even classes – whatever it is, it’s concerning to the people involved. And the best thing you can do is be as honest and caring as you can, and try to provide whatever resources you can.” Codron also confirmed that Magnus was the only layoff that occurred on Friday.

The rest of the College’s budget focused on maintaining the College’s academic mission, according to Dean de Paula. “The main concern is, whatever happens financially, the core academic mission of the College needs to be preserved, and if possible, strengthened,” said De Paula, who added that the maintaining of the core is intended to give LC a “better competitive edge against schools that did not maintain their academic core,” once the financial crisis has passed.

The short-term investment policy was created by Carl Vance in response to the College’s cash reserves being at a high. Vance revised the policy, which currently allows investment of $1 million at a time, in order to allow the College to invest more of the money. The new policy would expect a gain of $400,000 in investment income. This policy was not passed by the Board. Interim President Jane Atkinson said that there were worries and the Board “wanted to make certain LC doesn’t take risks.” The Board will be seeking “greater understanding and confidence” with the investment committee before passing the policy, which will be discussed in May.

The Board of Trustees made other decisions at their summit, including the approval of honorary degrees for commencement speakers at the schools as well as a decision to offer an honorary degree to Supreme Court Justice Sonja Sotomayor if she visits LC within the next year.

Pioneer Log’s Nerdwatch: Jonathan Coulton complete interview

by Angela Webber

Jonathan Coulton, Internet Superstar, is the nerd and geek community’s troubadour. He rose to internet fame in 2005 when he quit his computer-programming job and started his “Thing a Week” podcast, in which he, as the name implies, published a musical piece every week for a year.

His songs, which include themes of evil geniuses, robot overlords and the Swedish furniture store Ikea, have been described as continuing the tradition of comedic musicians Tom Lehrer and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Coulton releases his music on a Creative Commons license, which means that they can be reused to share or remix for non-commercial purposes. This leads to much release of fan-made videos and art inspired by his music. Coulton interacts with his fans both online and on stage, and even has invited fans who cover his songs on YouTube to tour with him.
The Pioneer Log spoke with Jonathan Coulton about his upcoming Portland show, his fan base of nerds, and his next steps.

The Pioneer Log: Your songs deal with topics like robots in space and computer programming. Would you consider yourself a musician or a nerd first?
JC: First? I have to say a nerd first. That’s just a deeper layer… For me, being a nerd or a geek is about the way you look at and perceive the world. Really, it’s sort of out of your control. The fact that I am a visual thinker, and the way I approach solving life’s problems is very nerdy, and that’s just who I am and how my brain words. And the music is just gravy; I happen to have a talent for some of that. That sort of sits on top of the nerddom.

PL: Where did you first start working with music? Did this start when you were a kid?
JC: Oh yeah, all my life. My parents were musical; they sang and played instruments. It’s just something we did for fun when I was a kid. When I got a little older and had the focus and patience to do it, I learned to play guitar, and drums, and a little bit of piano. It’s always been something that I’ve messed around with, and I’m very fortunate to have that actually be my job now.

PL: The songs you did for Thing-a-week are more produced and have a more electric sound than when you perform live with just you and your guitar. How do you think about these two different sounds?
JC: I’m a fan of them both. It’s a struggle sometimes to translate what I did in the recording process to a live performance, particularly in some of the faster numbers. A slow song you can always play on the acoustic guitar, that’s fine. But if it’s a toe-tapping rock’n’roll number, it’s a little harder to fake, or to translate. It’s been a process figuring that out, but I think it works out pretty well. I think there’s something magical about 1 person and one instrument on a stage.
I haven’t done all the thing-a-week songs live, because there’s some of them I haven’t figured out how to do, and I may never figure out how to do.
And there are some that are just more fun for audiences. If it were up to me, I’d just be singing sad songs about giant squids all the time. But not everybody wants to hear 10 sad songs in a row. In fact, I don’t think anybody wants to hear 10 sad songs in a row, except me.

PL: What’s it like working with Paul and Storm? (Paul and Storm are the comedy duo who open for Coulton and provide back-up vocals and instrumentation for his set.)
JC: They’re great. They’re good friends. We’ve been working together for many years now. I’m always amazed at how they are able to whip an audience into a frenzy. I mean really, they can start from nothing, with the audience not knowing anything about them, and by the end of it, they have completely transformed the crowd and the energy. They really are very talented.
On top of that, we happen to get along very well, and when you’re out on the road, it’s nice to have people there who you share a common history with. You develop a shorthand for talking about stuff and reacting to stuff, it’s a lot of fun touring with them.

PL: Something unique about you as an artist that is visible in the online community and at your shows is the interactive relationship you have with the audience. What’s it like having this relationship with your audience of nerds?
JC: It’s really great! I’ve always enjoyed going to concerts where the performer is very flexible. There’s some live shows you go to see and it’s like they’re putting on a show that they’ve put on a million times before, and they’re bored with it, and it’s kinda boring for the audience too. And then there’s other shows you go to where the artist actually talks to the audience, and things happen.
I remember when I was younger I saw a concert by a woman named Shawn Colvin. It was just her and an acoustic guitar. Somebody shouted out something in between songs and that got her talking about something. She told this story, and then she was like “where was I? how did we get on this?” It was very cool. That’s what I like, when a show becomes a real moment.
Geeks are always willing to put themselves in the middle of things, so having them in the audience always insures that the show is going to be interesting and different.

PL: After you play in Portland you will be heading to the South to open for They Might be Giants. How did that come about, and how are you feeling about it?
JC: I’m really excited about it. I’ve been a fan of theirs since college, since Flood [TMBG’s first album] came out. I’ve met them a few times because we have some mutual friends. The first few times I met them I don’t think I made much of an impression because I was so star-struck that I could barely speak. The next couple of times I think I made a slightly better impression.
Paul and Storm and I discovered that we were competing directly with a They Might be Giants “Flood” show when we were playing in Chicago a while back. And so we did the only thing we could think to do–which was to do our own Flood show. So we covered Flood ourselves, and I’d been in touch with them about that to make sure that was ok with them. It’s one of those things; It seems like there’s a lot of overlap between their audience and my audience. They just asked me, “Do you want to open up for us for a little run?” and I said “Sure, yes please!”
I’m totally excited about it.

PL: Who have you been listening to recently?
JC: I just bought the new OK GO album and I think it’s really great. Not new, but something that became a big part of my collection a while ago is this band called “Tally Hall.” They only have one record out right now, and it’s called “Tally Hall.” It’s really fantastic. It’s like my favorite kind of pop. They have a new album coming out very soon.
I don’t have a great deal of time to consume media, you would think so, but somehow it never works out that way.

PL: Why is there no theremin in your shows?
JC: A theremin is very hard to play, I cannot play the theremin very will. I do love it, and it’s one of those things that I wish I could play well. It’s one of those instruments that you need to spend a long time learning before it even sounds not awful, and I frankly don’t have that kind of time.

PL: There has been talk on your blog of a “Jonathan Coulton Cruise.” Where did this idea come from, and what’s the latest?
JC: This idea is blatantly stolen from other people. The first time I heard of it was when Barenaked Ladies was doing a fan cruise and I thought that was a very cool idea… and the idea would be to do a “Jonathan Coulton Con on a boat”. So I would have other friends and fellow entertainers with me, and there would be a number of different performances and events and things. I’m a big fan of cruise ships. They’re fun. They’re like giant, floating hotels. I think it would be kind of cool do a concert on a boat like that. We’re still working out the details, originally we had been talking about a Seattle departure, and a cruise that went to Alaska, but I don’t think that’s going to work out; it’s just a little too expensive for everyone. So we’re going to probably do something that leaves out of Florida, and it may be close to the end of this year if we can figure out how to make it work.

PL: Best Concert Ever was a new distribution scheme for you. How has that gone and how was making a live concert DVD?
JC: It was a lot of work! There was a team of people and a bunch of cameras, and I had to hire all of these outside people, professional audio people and video people and color-correcting people – I had to hire people to do things I didn’t even know existed. As everyone knows, making high-quality entertainment in the old-fashioned manner is usually pretty expensive and time-consuming. It was definitely an experiment. I was like, “well let’s see what it’s like to do a full-blown concert DVD. – because I’ve spent all of my career doing the home recording method of everything, it’s all home-brew stuff, so it was really me wanting to try something on the “professional” level. It was fun, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was a fun show, and the audience was great, and I think we got some really interesting things that were not just the concert and the music; it sort of tells a story and there are some other themes going on in there, and there’s a lot of extras that make it really fun and interesting. It’s a nice complete picture of the Jonathan Coulton Universe, I think.

PL: If you had a reality show what would it be called?
JC: It would be called America’s Next Top Jonathan Coulton.

PL: You recently posted on your Twitter a picture of you in a history textbook called “United States Government: Democracy in Action” [in a section about Copyright law.] How does it feel to be in a book that is packaged with the Great Gatsby on Amazon.com?
JC: (laughs) I didn’t know that. It feels very strange. Like all of the rest of this it feels pretty weird. A fan sent that picture to me, and I was like, what?

PL: Well, congratulations, and I hope you get to be in many more history books in the future.
JC: Me too, that was always my goal.

Jonathan Coulton plays at the Aladdin Theater in Southeast Portland this Saturday, February 27 at 8:00 p.m. Buy tickets here.