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Swarthmore in the News April 8, 2011


The Philadelphia Inquirer

Swarthmore campus abuzz over possible gay-bashing

By Kathy Boccella and Mari Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writers

Inquirer Staff Writers

April 7, 2011

Was it gay-bashing or "ville rat" revenge?

A Swarthmore college student and his friend told police that a group of teens had attacked them after they refused to buy the teens alcohol and called them ville rats, a campus insult for local kids who skateboard and try to sneak into parties at the elite liberal-arts college.

But the victims later told school administrators that they may have been attacked because they are gay and were being openly affectionate.

The attack has been the talk of the uber-liberal, peace-loving campus since Sunday morning, when the 21-year-old Swarthmore student and his 22-year-old University of Pennsylvania friend were beaten by five to seven teens after leaving a party.

That the two would be attacked at a school accepting of queer culture - a big event is this Saturday's gender-bending cross-dressing party - has been an eye-opener for some.

"It's unsettling and disturbing," said junior Adam Bortner, 21, of Maryland, who is friends with one of the victims. "A lot of people don't feel comfortable. It calls into question this being a safe place where this never happens and it's OK to hold hands with someone of the same sex and not fear repercussion."

Administration officials say they are stepping up security on campus and at this weekend's party.

"When something like this happens, both the college and Swarthmore Borough is going to take this seriously," dean of students Liz Braun said. (more)

Editor's Note: This story also received coverage in The Associated Press, The Huffington Post, The Delaware County Daily Times, The Daily Pennsylvanian and the local affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.


Targeted News Service

UNH English Professor to Deliver Lindberg Lecture on Work of Donald Graves April 21

April 5, 2011

The University of New Hampshire issued the following news release:

...In keeping with tradition, the Lindberg Award celebration will include the announcement of the 2011 winner, who is Charlotte Witt, professor of philosophy and humanities. Witt holds a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University. She was appointed to the UNH faculty in 1987.

"Professor Witt has demonstrated that she possesses the highest qualities of scholarship and teaching, and is most deserving of the Lindberg Award. She has proved to be a consistently productive scholar with wide-ranging interests and a dedicated teacher praised for her dynamism and command of subject," said Kenneth Fuld, dean of the UNH College of Liberal Arts.

...Students have recognized her excellent teaching, praising her enthusiasm, command of material, ability to explain complex ideas and lead discussions, and stimulating nature of her courses.


National Review

Tocqueville and the Tube - TV makes us dull and fat, and bad citizens too

By Ben Berger

April 18, 2011

Television makes us fat, lazy, inattentive, unsociable, mistrustful, materialistic -- and unhappy about all of that. It cheapens political discourse, weakens family ties, prevents face-to-face socializing, and exposes kids to sex and inures them to violence. Yet Americans can't get enough. In 1950, just 9 percent of U.S. households owned a television; by 1960 it was 90 percent, and by the year 2000 TVs were just about everywhere. Now the average U.S. household has more TVs than people.

...The same goes for public affairs. Because TV deals in images, "you cannot do political philosophy on television," Postman argued. "Its form works against the content." Postman and his fellow media guru Marshall McLuhan both insisted that "the medium is the message," that it matters less what we watch than that we watch -- watch rather than listen, read, or think in silence.

...Tocqueville sought to understand democracy itself as a new technology. Democracy extends citizens' movement beyond their previous boundaries in feudal and aristocratic hierarchies, enabling them to do pretty much what they like. In that sense it constitutes a technology of freedom. But Tocqueville worried that citizens might use the new technology in ways that undermined their prospects for maintaining freedom ....If we move beyond the historical specificity of the examples -- I struggle just to keep my grass mown, let alone plant an orchard -- we see that Tocqueville captures our present dilemma. TV, like democracy, is a technology of freedom. It provides a window onto many worlds and offers vast amounts of information. It also caters ever more perfectly to the very proclivities -- materialism and privatism -- that in Tocqueville's view produce dissatisfaction and disengagement, tending "to isolate men from each other."

...What to do? The legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow insisted that when TV is used responsibly, "this instrument can teach." Neil Postman disagreed, maintaining that whatever TV teaches is not worth learning. Perhaps there is a middle ground: TV may instruct us -- but not, contra Murrow, primarily on the subject of current events. It can provide an object lesson in our shared public philosophy: Though citizens from across the political spectrum find TV-viewing problematic, most of them would agree that the problem can't or shouldn't be solved through state action. As Tocqueville argued, we citizens err about our long-term interests, but the only worse judge would be anyone else. Even when faced with TV's barrage of stimuli, it is up to us to focus on what matters most.

Mr. Berger is an associate professor of political science at Swarthmore College. His book Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civic Engagement is forthcoming this summer from Princeton University Press.


The Delaware County Daily Times (PA)

Workers detail conditions of overseas factory jobs

By Kathleen E. Carey

April 3, 2011

SWARTHMORE - Even as 33-year-old Kalpona Akter faces a potential death sentence in her home country of Bangladesh, she traveled halfway across the globe to talk about the working conditions in her homeland with the hope of creating an atmosphere of respect, dignity and a better life for her fellow citizens.

Aleya Akter, 26, journeyed with Kalpona to tell the tale of working 14 years of 11-hour days sewing jackets with 400 employees at a Dhaka factory for Walmart.

She gets two days off a month and lives with the fear of getting fired for being sick or being beaten for going to the bathroom. Sometimes, she sleeps on the factory floor overnight.

The two women shared their stories as part of a multi-city tour, sponsored by the International Labor Rights Forum and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1776, and spent Friday relating their experiences at Swarthmore College. (more)

The Philadelphia Tribune

Swarthmore Students Promote Education in Ghana

By Chanel Hill, Tribune Correspondent

April 1, 2011

"Education is a very crucial thing to the development of the community; because once people have the skills there are so many opportunities that can open up to them," said David Opoku, Swarthmore College junior and co-founder of African Development on Organized Reading Education (ADOORE). "By just giving people access to information, it will help them accomplish their dreams. They will not only learn how to combine their passion with their skills, but they will also be able to tackle anything on their own."

A ten-member student group at Swarthmore College collected 1,000 books to start a library in Ghana as part of the African Library Project. The African Library Project has mobilized volunteers from across the United States to start 561 libraries in eight countries over the past five years. The literacy program at Swarthmore is spearheaded by the Advisor to International Students and Scholars at Swarthmore Jennifer Marks-Gold and Opoku.

The books were collected by Swarthmore faculty, staff and students. ADOORE's goal is to open a door for people in Ghana by giving them access to the resources that they need. While the government in Ghana encourages education through initiatives like Better Ghana Agenda, schools in the region have few resources. Bad roads and limited Internet access make it hard for students to access information.

"At one point in time I was thinking 'how did I get to Swarthmore?'" said Opoku. "What are some of the things that I was exposed to in Ghana that gave me the opportunity to gain the skills and the privilege of coming here. I realized that it was through books, being able to read and being exposed to different opportunities including scholarships to apply for and having access to a computer.

"These are all things that helped me get to where I am right now. I felt that it is my responsibility and the responsibility of my friends to present these opportunities to the students of Ghana. I hope the library will give them a chance to explore different ideas."

Even though Adoore has already reached its goal for the literacy program, the program plans to continue with book drives every year and hopes to expand to other college campuses in the United States. The program is also working on a website where people in the community can make donations and keep up to date on Adoore news. (more)


PR Newswire

Steve Wolff Named New Internet2 Interim Vice President and Chief Technology Officer;
Noted Internet Visionary Joins Internet2 For Two Year Term To Focus on Research Outreach and Strategic Technical Roadmap

April 1, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Internet2 today announced that Stephen (Steve) Wolff, widely considered as one of the original architects and fathers of the Internet, will join its staff as Interim Vice President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO). In this role, Wolff will be responsible for developing a strategic technical roadmap for the organization to ensure the research and education community is positioned as the focal point for network technology innovation and development. Wolff will also have primary responsibility for building a portfolio of services that significantly enhance Internet2 member institutions leading edge research efforts. In this role, Wolff will serve as the main liaison to multiple research communities as well as to the Internet2 Research Advisory Council (RAC) and important federal science offices including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science.

...Wolff is a member of AAAS and ACM, a Life Member of IEEE, and a Pioneer Member of the Internet Society (ISOC) from which he received the prestigious Jonathan B. Postel Service Award in 2002. Wolff earned a Bachelors of Science with Highest Honors in Electrical Engineering from Swarthmore College in 1957, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University in 1961. In 1962 he continued his studies with post-doctoral work at Imperial College under Colin Cherry and Dennis Gabor.





The Patriot-News (PA)

City Islanders Add Four Players to Roster

By Michael Bullock

April 7, 2011

USL PRO's Harrisburg City Islanders have re-signed veterans Jason Hotchkin and Brian Ombiji to contracts for the rapidly approaching 2011 campaign.

Hotchkin was the City Islanders' top scorer a season ago in league play, posting 12 points (5 goals, 2 assists). Now in his fourth season with the City Islanders, Ombiji struggled through an injury-plagued 2010, collecting two points (1 goal).

Harrisburg also signed two rookies, striker Morgan Langley of Swarthmore and goalkeeper Phil Tuttle of Notre Dame. All four deals await league approval.