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Swarthmore in the NewsDecember 9, 2011

The New York Observer

Yikes! You're In Überclass City, Post-Cab Hike

By Sheelah Kolhatkar

December 7, 2011

Three new Furies have suddenly appeared over Manhattan, inducing faux-shock in the media and nervous laughter at parties. Please welcome the Million-Dollar Apartment, the $200 pair of jeans and the $10 cross-town cab fare-you'll be seeing a lot of them. ...

As a city, New York is no longer upper-middle-class-it's übermiddleclass , and the shifting of the ground under our feet is just beginning to register. ...

Of course, in many ways, the recent spate of price hikes couldn't have hit a more willing metropolis. In the übermiddleclass city, "luxury" is an ever-present enticement-a competitive sport, a reward and a salve.

But just like actual junkies, we're not victims-we're unthinking volunteers. The pisser is that once you step up to spending the extra cash New York life is now demanding of you, once you whiff the chum of the alleged high life, you won't stop, because the withdrawal sucks.

As Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore, explained, "The psychological impact of losing something is about 2.5 times as great as the psychological impact of gaining the same thing." In other words, there's no turning back once you've signed on to the übermiddleclass economy. "Once you're accustomed to particular patterns of consumption, it's really hard to give them up," Mr. Schwartz continued. "You don't get as much of a kick out of trading up to Starbucks as you will get a kick in the ass for going back to whatever the low-priced alternative is." (At $3.86, a grande latte at a Manhattan Starbucks, by the way, costs 17 percent more than the same exact beverage in Princeton. ...


Think Twice Before Growing That Product Line: Retail shoppers, retirement-plan participants, and everyone in between are paralyzed by society's plethora of choices.

By David McCann

December 06, 2011

Growth companies may view the development of a robust product line as the ticket to financial success, but in doing so they may be contributing to a flourishing societal malaise and actually acting to deter potential customers from buying their wares.

People in developed countries have long accepted a syllogism that the more choice they have, the happier they are, says Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory at Swarthmore College. But, he adds, that is true only to a point. Too much choice confuses them and often results in a decision not to buy anything at all. ...



Philadelphia Inquirer

Charles Ives Living Prize Awarded

By Peter Dobrin, classical music critic and culture writer

December 6, 2011

Maybe you've never thought about it before, but, as many composers can tell you, it's hard to make a living at turning out scores for orchestras and chamber musicians.

Which makes the Charles Ives Living award a sweet drop of water on a parched landscape. More than a drop, really. James Matheson is the winner of the Charles Ives Living this time, and will receive $200,000 over the two-year period of the award, beginning in July, announced its giver, the American Academy of Arts and Letters. ...

Some of you may remember Matheson from his time with Swarthmore College and Orchestra 2001. Here is an excerpt from a 2003 concert reviewed by yours truly.

"...The centerpiece of the weekend's program was the first performance of James Matheson 's The Paces: Concerto for Piano and Chamber Ensemble, with pianist Charles Abramovic as its masterly soloist. Matheson, born in 1970, studied with Gerald Levinson at Swarthmore College, and later with Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra. His new piece (commissioned by Swarthmore's Gilmore and Mary Roelofs Stott Fund) is stylistically unusual. For one thing, it isn't afraid to be quiet. For another, it does not fear beauty. Think about how unusual that is among new works today.


We Are Power Shift.Org

Swarthmore Mountain Justice asks "Scrooge" of a Board of Managers for Divestment from Fossil Fuels

By Kate Aronoff, Swarthmore College

December 6, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - On Saturday, December 3 ... crowds gathered as members of Swarthmore Mountain Justice performed their own rendition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. As the College's Board of Managers met in a building just a short walk away, the group asked for full divestment of the college's endowment from fossil fuel industries via creative performance. ...


CNN Wire

My Family and the Tragic Black Man

By Mark Whitaker, managing editor of CNN Worldwide

December 5, 2011

(CNN) -- The Tragic Black Man. From the novels of Richard Wright and the plays of August Wilson to the spin that is still placed on the rise and fall of many African-American males in today's media, it's a stereotype with all too familiar themes: the bitter encounters with racism, the battered personal pride, the syndrome of wounded fathers who abandon their families, boys who grow up without male role models.

In reporting on my family for a memoir that has just been published, I encountered all these strands in the tales of my father and grandfather, and it would have been easy enough to attribute them to the immutable curse of race. Yet in the end, I came away concluding that their fates, and mine, were ultimately shaped more by the different times we each lived in and by our own individual talents and flaws.

Born on a tenant farm in Texas in 1898, the 13th child of a former slave, Cleophaus Sylvester Whitaker confronted more than his share of blatant bigotry as a child and a young man as he made his way north in the Great Black Migration to work in Pittsburgh's steel plants. ...

By the 1940s and '50s, his son, Cleophaus Sylvester Whitaker Jr., was able to attend an integrated high school in Pittsburgh and gain acceptance to virtually all-white Swarthmore College. ...

HEI Workers Rising: Workers and Students Together for Justice

Swarthmore Students Urge President To Refuse To Invest In HEI

By Dani Noble, Swarthmore College student

December 5, 2011

On December 1, approximately 20 students delegated the office of Swarthmore College President Rebecca Chopp to stand in solidarity with workers in HEI hotels across the country. Students marched into the President's office unannounced and asked the administrative assistant to meet with her to discuss investment responsibility and HEI Hotels & Resorts ...

President Chopp met with us for ten minutes, during which we discussed our concerns with labor practices in HEI hotels. ...

The San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley Activist Helped Inspire the Movement; Occupy Wall Street

By Carolyn Said, Chronicle staff writer

December 5, 2011

As a teenager, Micah White faced insults and intimidation when he started an atheists' club at his Michigan high school.

This year, White, now 29 and a Berkeley resident, has found a more receptive climate for his ideas.

In collaboration with a colleague at the anticonsumerist magazine Adbusters, White conceptualized and ignited a worldwide mass movement: Occupy Wall Street.

White, a senior editor at Adbusters, and Kalle Lasn, 69, its editor in chief, came up with the idea of an American version of Egypt's Tahrir Square protests. ...

In mid-July, they sent an e-mail blast to Adbusters subscribers and sympathizers - whom they call "our 90,000-strong 'culture-jammer' global network of activists, artists and rabble-rousers" - and then watched as the idea caught fire.

Adbusters, which Lasn co-founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1989, has long called for citizens to protest corporate dominance. Packed with in-your-face images - Joe Camel reimagined as Joe Chemo - and equally provocative articles, the magazine promotes social activism campaigns, such as Buy Nothing Day as an antidote to the excesses of Black Friday. ...

White, who has a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Swarthmore, contacted Lasn for a job after graduation, according to the New Yorker. ...


Philadelphia Inquirer

Drexel Paid Out More than $4 Million Upon Papadakis' death

By Nancy Phillips, Inquirer staff writer

December 4, 2011

Drexel University paid out more than $4 million upon the death of longtime university president Constantine Papadakis in 2009, a figure that put the school first in the nation in chief-executive pay at private colleges.

With payments totaling $4.9 million, including life insurance and other benefits, the university far outpaced other private schools, according to an annual salary survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education released Sunday.

The survey also showed that the presidents of Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania were paid more than $1 million each in 2009, placing them among the highest-paid college presidents in the country. ...

Alfred H. Bloom, who led Swarthmore for 18 years until retiring in 2009, was paid $1.7 million that year, ranking him eighth among the presidents of private institutions nationwide. College officials said the figure was misleading, however, because it included retirement benefits and payments in lieu of sabbaticals.

The previous year, Bloom was paid $536,844, according to Suzanne Welsh, the college's treasurer and vice president of finance. "That figure is more indicative of his base salary," she said. The larger sum paid in 2009 reflected accrued salary and benefits for which the school had budgeted for years, she said. ...

(Note: This story also ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Philadelphia Business Journal and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

Delaware County Daily Times

Men's Basketball: Gates Hits Milestone in First Game of New Era for Swarthmore

By Times Staff

December 4, 2011

After 25 years, the Lee Wimberly era is over at Swarthmore College.

Citing worsening health conditions, Wimberly tendered his resignation Thursday, according to Swarthmore sports information director Mark Anskis.

Saturday, with the Garnet playing its first game under Glenolden resident Joe Culley, was made special for an entirely different reason.

Junior Will Gates scored 30 points to lead the Garnet to their first win of the season, 69-65 over Ursinus. With his performance, Gates passed the 1,000-point plateau, the 18th player in school history to do so and the fastest to get to that mark.

Gates drained a three-pointer with 17:46 to play in the second half to pass the milestone.

Wimberly went 184-418 during his career at Swarthmore. He was in his 25th season when he stepped down. The 184 wins are the best in program history.

Wimberly took over as head coach in 1986. He came to Swarthmore from Pomona-Pitzer...

Culley, who has been Wimberly's right-hand man for the last 10 years, will coach the Garnet on an interim basis. ...

With the Garnet looking for breathing room later in the second half, it was Gates that they turned to. The junior obliged, sinking a deep three that opened the Swat advantage to 57-52, a margin they would never relinquish. Just for good measure, he added a 6-for-6 free-throw shooting performance down the stretch to ice the win. He also collected six rebounds.

He finished with 30 points on 8-for-19 shooting, including 5-for-12 from beyond the arc and 9-10 from the charity stripe. ....


San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)

They're In College Now column: Paly grad Coleman Stars for College Volleyball team

By Vytas Mazeika, Daily News staff writer

December 2, 2011

Palo Alto seeks its second consecutive girls volleyball state title Saturday, but it's a story that started with the players that came and went without one.

"It was the public school story where we have a lot of talent and can build up a program," said Allie Coleman, a 2009 Paly graduate.

The 20-year-old is a junior at Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia. A 5-foot-10 setter for the Garnet, Coleman just became the first player in the school's history to reach 1,000 assists in a single season and led Swarthmore through a 24-8 campaign. She made the 2011 All-Centennial Conference second team and was named to the Capital One/CoSida Academic All-District IV Volleyball First Team. ...

Coleman wasn't sure she was going to play volleyball at the college level because her priorities were on academics. Luckily for her, Swarthmore provided the best of both worlds.

"I love it," Coleman said. "I am so happy that I did end up playing volleyball because it's one of the favorite activities that I've ever done in my life."

The focus on athletics has also helped relieve some stress from her academic endeavors.

"I don't have a ton of free time during the volleyball season, but I think that definitely being a varsity athlete really does force you to organize your time well and prioritize your time," Coleman said. "And I'm a lot more productive in season than I am off-season." ...


Maine Antique Digest               

Hidden Treasure: Art at Risk on American Campuses

By Robert Edwards

December 2011 issue

There has been much brouhaha in recent years about American museums deaccessioning art-historically significant objects. Brandeis University attempted to get out of the art business by closing its Rose Art Museum and selling its collection, estimated to be worth $300 million. The New York Public Library sold Asher B. Durand's Kindred Spirits for approximately $35 million to Alice Walton for her new Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, which, in association with the National Gallery of Art, made an unsuccessful $68 million bid for The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins, then owned by Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Outcry is often fueled by watchdog organizations such as the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), whose guidelines condemn any sales that do not fund new acquisitions. Its guidelines sanctify art as a public trust and make no allowance for the particular situation of an artwork's owner. ...

Three Pennsylvania colleges-Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore-have extensive art holdings outside their cataloged library collections and art galleries, where AAM guidelines might apply. ...


WHYY–Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

Occupy Philly: Evicted, under pressure, in the media, in history

November 30, 2011

Occupy protesters were evicted in Philadelphia and Los Angeles overnight. We'll get an update on the latest news of the confrontations between protesters and police and we'll take stock of the Occupy movement, what it's done and failed to do, how it fits into U.S. political mainstream and social movement history. ... Joining us in studio is George Lakey, longtime nonviolence activist, founder of Training for Change and research associate at Swarthmore College's Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.  ... We'll hear from Mattathias Schwartz ['01], a writer whose examination of the roots and dynamics of the Occupy movement, "Pre-Occupied," was published in this week's The New Yorker. 

(Below are excerpts from the Radio Times program)

Moss-Coane [MMC]: ...In many ways if one supports the movement it made a lot of sense to me to protest Wall Street and to be at that park right near Wall Street. What I think is a little harder to understand is a protest on Dilworth Plaza, next to Philadelphia City Hall. Apparently it cost the city of Philadelphia about a half a million dollars maybe even more to provide police and sanitation. ...

George Lakey [GL]: Just on Sunday morning I was over at the Occupy site and someone who had been there for weeks and weeks pointed to the tower of City Hall and said, 'That's the problem.' And inwardly I groaned because that's not the one percent, that City Hall represents the hundred percent, actually, in Philadelphia. And so I agree that the symbolism is tough. And this is not unusual in social movements as they begin to get their feet. ... My guess is that the reassessment, as people are already very busy assessing the success of the Occupy Movement, will be that in places like Chicago, L.A., Philadelphia where city halls were chosen that that did not represent the clearest symbol of what the movement really stands for.

MMC: Does it make sense... the idea of occupying a place. Does that have a kind of political resonance or does that lose its focus over time because it's a sort of stationary protest. ...?

GL: At Swarthmore College, the students and I have been creating a database. We have almost 500 cases of non-violent social change movements around the world and campaigns that have been enacted there. And that's actually available. Your listeners can go on the Internet and just look at - nv for non-violent. And what they'll find is that of these almost 500 cases that we've discovered so far 90 of them do use the occupation method. However, for the most part, they don't build their movement around the occupation. It's an occupation of sometimes it's a factory, sometimes it's an agricultural area, sometimes it's a rainforest area, sometimes it can be a city square or as Tahrir Square shows, [it] can be very dramatic there. ...

MMC: ... Joining us now is Mattathias Schwartz [MS]. A freelance journalist who writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books. In fact back in the early 2000s he founded, edited and published a bi-monthly newspaper here in Philadelphia called the Philadelphia Independent. And he has a fascinating piece in the current edition of The New Yorker "Pre-Occupied: The Origins and Future of the Occupy Wall Street."....

MS: ... Can you change the government of the United States within the rules or do you have to step outside the rules? How powerful is money in terms of setting up the rule book that we're all playing by? Why after so much destruction of wealth, in the last two or three years, have only two people, by my account, gone to jail... .  And, you know, I think the lack of any meaningful campaign finance reform is the best argument that the Occupy folks have to support their cases that we can't change things within the system. How do we get meaningful campaign finance reform? That's a question that really serious, well-funded, bright people have been working on for more than 10 years. You know, Jerome Kohlberg ['46], one of the founders of the buyout firm, Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts, ya know, who's another Swarthmore guy, he threw so much money and energy at this idea 10 years ago and the problem's still there. So, I'm sympathetic to people who feel like they're at their wit's end with it in terms of the influence of money and politics.


Zócalo Public Square

Squaring Off

Put the "Party" Back In Political Parties: Ben Berger Has a Cure for Our Civic ADD

October 30, 2011

In Squaring Off, Zócalo invites authors into the public square to answer five questions about the essence of their books. For this round, we pose questions to Ben Berger, author of Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civic Engagement.

(Below is an excerpt from the Zócala Q&A.)

Since the birth of democracy, governments have struggled against the political apathy of their constituents. But Swarthmore political scientist Berger makes the case that it's neither realistic nor helpful to expect citizens to devote more time and energy to politics.

Is it counter-intuitive for you to argue that citizens have a limited attention span for participating in democracy-but that we should foster not just "civic engagement" but three separate forms of engagement: political, moral, and social? Isn't that a lot more time and work?

When I write about "engagement" I simply mean a combination of attention and energy-in other words, focus and follow-through. I suggest axing the term "civic engagement" because it's become so popular that it means something different to everyone; we wind up talking past each other. Replace it with its constituent parts: social, moral, and political engagement. Those categories describe some of the ways in which we already invest our attention and energy: on social dynamics, on moral principles and problems, on political institutions and outcomes. Which kinds of engagement matter most for making democracy work, and how can they be encouraged?

My book focuses on political engagement. I do argue that citizens have a limited attention span for politics, but only because we have a limited attention span for everything. It's difficult to focus ourselves on one subject enduringly unless we love it. That's why most people pay more attention to their hobbies, or their favorite television shows, than to politics. How worried should we be, and how can we do better?
Rather than trying to tax our already overburdened reserves of attention and energy, I suggest ways in which we can make more efficient use of those scarce resources toward the overall goal of improving American democracy. ...


Ben Berger's book Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civic Engagement is included on Zócalo's Top 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2011 list.