Daily Debriefing

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama proposed ideas and issued warnings to national colleges and universities regarding the affordability of higher education, Inside Higher Education reported on Wednesday. Obama, who described higher education as an “economic imperative” that should be accessible to all families, said lowering student debt and increasing work study opportunities should be prioritized in state budgets, according to Inside Higher Ed. He subsequently praised community colleges for their low tuition rates and professional training. Obama’s proposals were aimed to pique the attention of middle-income families who are likely to vote in the 2012 election, FinAid.org publisher Mark Kantrowitz told Inside Higher Ed.

Driven by economic difficulties and growing student populations, more public universities are partnering with private companies to build on-campus student housing, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. Institutions such as the University of California, Irvine, Arizona State University, the University of Kentucky and Montclair State University have pursued relationships with private firms, which can often finish residence hall building projects more quickly and cheaply than the universities themselves, according to The Times. While this strategy may reduce costs for the institutions, the savings are not always relayed to students, The Times reported. The cost of a room in The Heights, Montclaire State’s recently-opened residence hall, for example, is approximately $1,000 more than a room in other campus residence halls due to its superior amenities, The Times reported. Private universities, with smaller student bodies and endowments that finance housing projects, are less likely to use private developers, according to The Times.

A team of physicists led by Dartmouth physics professor Ryan Hickox found that large galaxies observed today were active starburst galaxies in the early universe, Space.com reported on Wednesday. The team found that galaxies that began by showing high levels of star formation now constitute the largest galaxies. Their report provides the most accurate clustering measurements made to date for these types of galaxies and found that galaxies that are particularly close to one another exhibit great haloes of dark matter, according to the site. Starbursts in these galaxies only lasted for approximately 100 million years, a relatively short time, and came to an abrupt end, which Hickox and his team attributed to supermassive black holes, according to Space.com. The findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Harvard prof. discusses the nature of friendship

“The Republic,” Plato’s major philosophical work, can offer insight into the puzzles of friendship, Harvard University philosophy professor Rusty Jones suggested to attendees of the latest installment of the Sapientia Lecture Series. The discussion, rooted in a tradition of seminar-style meetings among philosophy professors that was started in 1993, featured a presentation of Jones’ paper on friendship in Plato’s work and a colloquium in Thornton Hall.

Plato’s primary argument in the “Lysis” a dialogue concerned with the nature of friendship proposes that since friends must fulfill a need and good people are self-sufficient, good people do not have friends, according to Jones.

However, this suggestion contradicts an earlier proposition by Plato that good people are friends with other good people, Jones said.

Plato himself acknowledges the flaws in his argument in “The Republic,” which include the ambiguous definition of self-sufficiency, the notion that humans are “imperfectly good” and the subsequent conclusion that friends must not necessarily fulfill a need.

“There is no compelling reason to think that friendship is incompatible with the self-sufficiency of the good,” Jones said.

In order to test his argument that being a good person does not preclude one from having friends, Jones employed the gods of classical literature.

If these gods can be characterized as both morally good and self-sufficient, their ability to pursue and achieve friendship with human beings proves Plato’s commitment to disproving his argument in the “Lysis,” Jones said.

“The gods are already in the best possible state themselves but are nevertheless concerned to increase goodness in the world,” Jones said.

The promotion of goodness among human beings is the major consequence of the gods’ friendship with mortals in the classical tradition, he said.

“If the gods can enter into friendships, there is reason to think good human beings could be similarly motivated to enter into friendships,” Jones said.

Jones concluded by discussing the problems with the motivation for friendship.

According to a motivational principle that is widely accepted in the field of philosophy, people should avoid doing things that threaten their happiness, he said.

Consequently, if friendship entails caring about another person’s welfare, it is difficult to “see how to make one human’s well-being part of our own happiness without their unhappiness detracting from ours,” he said.

Philosophy professor Susan Brison moderated the discussion and presentation, which was attended mainly by professors in the philosophy department.

Brison said she was pleased to see several students also in attendance.

“Students benefit from it in terms of seeing philosophy in action,” Meredith Morley, the philosophy department administrator, said.

The group discussion that followed Jones’ lecture enabled faculty to engage in dialogue and propose criticism.

“It’s a means for the faculty to meet and discuss current philosophical curriculum,” Morley said. “It’s their peer group.”

There are five Sapientia lectures scheduled for the remainder of the term, including presentations by professors from Georgetown University and Franklin & Marshall College, according to the website.

“We invite speakers from around the country and the world and even some Dartmouth professors,” said Brison.

Lectures belonging to the series are often used as supplementary material for philosophy classes, making sometimes obscure material more accessible to students, she said.

The series is sponsored by the Mark J. Byrne 1985 Fund in Philosophy, which has also been used to support various extracurricular offerings in the philosophy department, including a student philosophy club and journal, Morley said.

Student group prioritizes eloquence

Madison Rezaei ’12 was met with three rounds of applause by the end of her four-minute speech at the Wednesday night VoxMasters meeting. Prompted to speak about a time when she felt particularly engaged or bored, Rezaei discussed President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and asked her peers to applaud just as the audience did Tuesday evening at the Capitol.

Rezaei is one of two co-leaders of VoxMasters, a group run through the Rockefeller Center that meets weekly to help students improve their public speaking skills.

As the meeting opened, Rezaei and co-leader Joe Styer ’14 introduced the week’s tip “engage your audience” and announced the topic for speeches.

Those in attendance were given approximately two minutes to outline their ideas. Then, one by one, participants spent two to four minutes at the head of the long table in Morrison Commons.

“There’s not really an opportunity to be a fly on the wall,” Danielle Thompson, assistant director for co-curricular programs at the Rockefeller Center, said. “To get better at public speaking, you need practice.”

Following each delivered speech, audience members offered feedback, with Wednesday’s criticism focusing on promoting effective audience engagement.

Participation Wednesday night had increased from the previous week, when only four students attended, according to Styer.

Typically, the number of attendees ranges from four to 30, with the great variety in the participants’ public speaking experience levels.

“You have speakers that are coming that have clearly done this a lot,” he said. “Then you have students that come in that clearly are coming because they want to work on this because they’re not particularly good. They’re nervous. They’re adorable, and they get better over the term.”

Sadhana Hall, deputy director of the Rockefeller Center, said she created the group in 2007 after she heard numerous alumni and Career Services officials comment that Dartmouth students were less articulate than students at comparable schools and do not “spend enough time understanding how their experiences can be translated to a potential employer.”

The hallmark of VoxMasters is an environment that engenders trust, Hall said.

“Can you imagine a place where you can actually go practice and not worry about the consequences of what you say and improve?” Hall said. “Dartmouth students are smart. Can you imagine getting smart feedback to improve? I love that.”

Previous prompts have required participants to defend their current or prospective majors and describe their worst speaking experiences.

Only two of the students in attendance last night had attended previous VoxMasters meetings, which tend to attract a fluctuating group of students.

Physics student Xi Yan GR ’15 said she decided to attend the meeting as a platform to practice her English. A Beijing native, Yan said she was initially nervous about the experience of public speaking but hopes to return to the group next week.

Katie Bonner ’15, a regular at VoxMasters meetings, said she does not consider herself a good public speaker but recognizes the importance of speaking eloquently, which will likely remain an important part of her life regardless of her plans after graduation.

“[Giving speeches] makes me a little bit uncomfortable, which is probably a good thing,” Bonner said. “Hopefully when I have to give speeches one day, it’ll make me feel more comfortable.”

Participants who return to meetings usually improve over time, Rezaei said.

“I think it’s really cool to see the progression week to week and how people improve and become more comfortable in front of an audience,” she said. “My own speaking’s improved. I think I’m more comfortable in front of an audience. Even though I did take the public speaking class and have done a lot of things like this before, I’ve gotten to explore a lot more different types of speaking here.”

Thompson said she hopes that students of all majors not just government and public policy realize how much they can benefit from VoxMasters.

“Students should be thinking about the different applications of finding their voice,” Thompson said. “Not everyone is going to be able to win an oratory award, but it is something that can help you get a job or share your passion with others, and I wish that more students would think of VoxMasters as a way to realize their dreams and achieve their goals.”

Cabin and Trail plans for ‘Winter Weekend’

Members of Cabin and Trail meet weekly to present planned trips and resources to encourage outdoor activity.

As Winter term enters full swing, Cabin and Trail a Dartmouth Outing Club sub-group that boasts the highest membership rate of any DOC program is gearing up for a variety of outdoor activities, including the annual DOC winter weekend, according to co-leader Charlie Governali ’12.

“There’s more to Cabin and Trail than cabins and trails,” member Krystyna Oszkinis ’14 said at the group’s meeting on Monday night.

Aside from hiking and camping trips, Cabin and Trail offers its members a variety of outlets through which to engage with the outdoors, including “hiking trips, eating trips, basically any sort of trip,” co-leader Billy Zou ’12 said.

At their most recent weekly meeting, members presented various events that they would be leading throughout the week. Among those presenting was Athena Aicher ’11, who returned to the College to host an upcoming trip to the Grant, 20,000 acres of New Hampshire forest that are owned by the College.

As part of DOC Winter Weekend, scheduled to take place Saturday and Sunday, members will participate in events that include sledding, cross-country skiing, hiking and showshoeing, member Will Bishop ’12 said.

During the excursion, members are encouraged to stay the night in the “really cozy” Harris Cabin, he said.

“We maintain a network of 12 DOC cabins, which are open to student use, and 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail,” Zou said.

While membership mostly includes individuals who regularly participate in DOC trips, the trips also draw students not usually involved in DOC activities, Governali said.

As a result, members sometimes lead trips with students they have never met, he said.

Cabin and Trail differs from other College outdoor clubs in that it is entirely student-run and covers a broad variety of activities, according to Governali.

“We’re not as focused on one specific activity, and our membership is less skill-based,” he said. “We do a lot of education about backcountry navigation, group leadership and what it means to be an effective outdoors leader.”

Following Fall term, the group participated in a series of winter hiking trips called “Cabin-Hopping,” in which a total of 46 individuals some of whom had never been backpacking before participated in any of four week-long backpacking trips, Zou said.

During the term, other students participated in organized apple picking, diner touring, sunrise hiking or “sunriking” and other outdoor activities.

This term, the club is continuing one of its members’ favorite activities, “FEED,” in which members gather for weekly home-cooked meals at “The Rock,” an off-campus house occupied by members of Cabin and Trail, according to Governali.

Cabin and Trail will also host other indoor and outdoor events to attract students to exploration of the area. A planned star hike, or “strike,” for example, will begin on the last night of January and continue into the early hours of Feb. 1.

“We’re hiking away into February,” hike leader Reed Wommack ’14 said. “Occupy was so January, strikes are February.” Other Ivy League schools and liberal arts colleges have outing clubs devoted to getting students and faculty members outside.

“In the fall, we did a weekend camping trip, and people have led trips to the White Mountains,” Amherst College Outing Club president Abigail Gray said. “I led a spelunking trip in December and that’s one of the most popular things we do here.”

The Harvard Outing Club at Harvard University makes equipment including canoes, fuel, ice axes and tents available to participating students, according to the organization’s website. Members also organize trips year-round to both New England areas and “exotic locales,” according to the site.

$300 House Project targets Haiti

Participants in the $300 House workshop will address infrastructure and business models for Haitian communities.

College President Jim Yong Kim delivered the keynote address for the $300 House workshop, pressing participants to develop specific goals and deadlines.

Facing a packed lecture hall in the Tuck School of Business, international business professor Vijay Govindarajan, the pioneer of the $300 House Project, welcomed the 40 participants of the four-day design workshop, as well as Dartmouth students and members of the public. The workshop which aims to address homelessness by developing affordable housing brings together students and faculty from Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, College undergraduates, as well as architects, engineers and designers from around the world. Among those invited were the six winners of the $300 House design competition, selected from over 300 different submissions. College President Jim Yong Kim served as the keynote speaker at the event.

During the four-day $300 House workshop, which will take place at the Tuck School of Business, participants will split into four teams to design a prototype. Two groups will focus on developing the structural prototypes one for a rural and one for an urban environment while the third group considers issues of infrastructure and community development, including water, waste management and job creation. The final group will create a business model and discuss issues of flexibility.

Following the close of the workshop, a prototype house will be built in Haiti, followed eventually by a model village, according to Govindarajan.

During Spring term 2011, two teams of students from Tuck began working with Govindarajan, studio art professor Jack Wilson and students in his architecture course to investigate the viability of the $300 House Project, focused specifically on solving housing issues in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake left many homeless.

Wilson, engineering professor Vicki May and global health program officer Molly Bode ’09 took two trips to Haiti in the fall to evaluate the housing needs of the poor in both rural and urban settings. On the first trip in September, they were accompanied by MD-MBA students Avni Patel Tu ’12 DMS ’12 and Tom Finn Tu ’12 DMS’12, as well as ecology student Tyler Pavlowich Adv ’15. Students Nitin Sharma Tu ’12 and Ryan Birjoo ’11 Th ’12 traveled with the team on the second trip in December to survey housing conditions.

“There’s underlying issues in health that can be improved by adequate housing,” Bode said. “Housing is one of the social determinates of health.”

Until now, development of low-cost housing has been focused on disaster relief and has been viewed as a temporary solution to the problem, according to Wilson. Results from the team’s in-country investigations, however, showed that communities want “well-built, durable houses that will last,” he said.

Wilson said the team has tried to involve local communities as much as possible in order to “develop a process that can be taken over” by these communities after it is formulated.

The project has become popular among Tuck and Thayer students, according to individuals interviewed by The Dartmouth.

Funding has only been approved for one first-year group from Tuck to work on the project this year, according to Sharma. Three Thayer students Birjoo, Emily Kyker-Snowman ’11 Th ’12 and Michael Johnson ’13 have also received funding to work on a human waste management project.

“They looked at all the different options and landed on a composting latrine,” May said.

The students are currently developing a prototype, which is due to be completed by the end of this week.

Govindarajan prefaced the project’s keynote address by drawing the audience’s attention to the 75 million people who are homeless worldwide. Housing constitutes a basic human right, he said.

“Even insects have homes,” he said.

Govindarajan said he decided on a figure of $300 partly in order to “galvanize” people into action. The specific number is less important than its symbolic value, he said.

“I know nothing about homes,” Govindarajan said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “My naivete about housing could be my biggest advantage because I say, Why not?'”

Govindarajan described the “cycle of poverty” that he saw growing up in India, where he walked through a slum every day on his way to the bus stop. The question of how to break the cycle has interested him ever since, and he believes that the most basic factor is housing, he said.

“The key for us is that $300 House is not about low cost,” he said. “We are not saying, Let’s build a cheap house for the poor.'”

Instead, Govindarajan emphasized the importance of high-quality products and value.

“Poor people have such hard-earned money, they don’t want to spend it on shoddy products,” he said.

Govindarajan emphasized that “health is not delivered just in hospitals health is delivered at home.” As a result, designing a house intelligently can improve health, education and job prospects, he said.

He said corporations will take the prospect of the $300 House very seriously if it is a legitimate business, which he believes it is.

For Govindarajan, the key is breakthrough innovation. When innovation is involved, the project is a question of commerce rather than charity, he said.

“The poor should not be viewed as a passive beneficiary,” he said. “Converting the poor into consumers is a huge opportunity for corporations.”

Govidarajan then offered the floor to Kim, whose extensive work in Haiti made him the choice speaker for the event, according to organizers.

“He’s seen the complexity of factors which affect health,” Bode said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “He’s passionate about global health, has had experience in Haiti and really believes in the concept of reverse innovation.”

Speaking about aid initiatives, Kim said it is no longer sufficient “just to want to do good in the world.” Productivity and outcome should be prioritized, he said.

“The poor are asking you to use your connections to wealth and power to actually try to make their lives better,” Kim said.

Achieving this level of improvement requires developing and maintaining high standards, he said.

In his address, Kim highlighted health issues and initiatives, drawing on his work with the World Health Organization on the “3 by 5” initiative, which aimed to increase the number of HIV/AIDS sufferers in Africa taking anti-retroviral drugs to three million by 2005.

Although the WHO did not achieve the goal until 2007, Kim said the case illustrates the importance of concrete deadlines.

He encouraged the participants of the $300 House Project to remain positive throughout their endeavor despite negative comments or claims of impossibility, reminding them that, in the words of President Barack Obama, “there’s no such thing as false hope.”

“You’re going to hear a gazillion people making the most cynical comments about how they know it’s not possible,” he said.

Wu Man to bring unique sound of Chinese pipa to Hop

On Friday evening, the Spaulding Auditorium stage in the Hopkins Center will host Wu Man, a Grammy Award-nominated virtuosic musician who plays the pipa, a traditional Chinese string instrument. Her concert, “Ancient Dances,” promises to be an artistic melange of both traditional and cross-cultural music. In accordance with Wu’s performance style, “Ancient Dances” will demonstrate how a cultural instrument can showcase its original country’s history and cultural heritage while simultaneously collaborating beautifully with instruments from other continents.

The pipa is a four-stringed plucked instrument that originated in Central Asia and is often referred to as the “Chinese lute.” Migrating to China around 2,000 years ago, the pipa steadily gained popularity for the next several centuries, especially as an instrument of the imperial court. Its musical style has continued to evolve in the modern day with help from musicians like Wu. The Boston Globe once wrote, “Wu Man is one of the rare musicians who has changed the history of the instrument she plays.”

Wu has worked with musicians from a stunningly diverse array of cultures and countries, including composer Philip Glass, jazz innovator Henry Threadgill and English folk guitarist Martin Simpson. However, in no way does Wu ignore the traditional history of the pipa in her music.

“It is important to be respectful to tradition,” Wu said in an interview with The Dartmouth, demonstrating in person as much grace and poise as the instrument she plays. “If you want to understand a country, you need to learn its history. It’s the same with an instrument. Traditional music is part of this instrument. It helps explain why the pipa sounds like that, why it sounds bendy.”

These “bendy” sounds are caused by the multiple tones that can be produced by a single note or chord. Wu describes this phenomenon as analogous to and the result of the structure of the traditional Chinese language. Many non-native Chinese speakers express frustration with mastering Chinese tonality, which makes for a steep learning curve, and even with the pipa, complex tonality can cause unwanted twangs if the instrument is in the hands of a less skilled player. Wu, however, who has played the pipa since the age of 12, no longer experiences such amateur problems.

“There are two styles of playing the pipa,” Wu said. “The lyrical, or civil, and the martial. The civil is more poetic and elegant lots of left-hand movements while the martial usually tells a story, like a battle. To understand the pipa, you need to be able to play both.”

After becoming the first person to receive a master’s degree in the pipa from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Wu moved to the United States in 1990. Since then, her career has taken her all over the globe. This week, Wu found herself in Hanover as part of the Dartmouth music department’s residency program. Dartmouth music professor and ethnomusicologist Ted Levin worked with Wu in Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and it was upon Levin’s suggestion that Wu was invited to the College. Wu attended two of Levin’s classes Global Sounds and Ethnomusicology on Tuesday to discuss music with the students, and in the evening, she was the guest of honor at a dinner discussion at the Chinese Language House.

On Wednesday, she also screened a film she produced, titled “Discovering a Musical Heartland Wu Man’s Return to China,” in a classroom in the Haldeman Center. The film was beautifully shot, aided by gorgeous natural landscapes of rural China, and it showcased traditional music of Chinese villages admirably. With its focus on three main groups of musicians in small villages across the country, the film put forth a poignant, but still slightly distressing, mood. The film’s musician subjects agreed that their genre of music is fading in popularity the traditional music of Chinese villages will one day disappear, and most of the world will never have known it had even existed.

“I’m nervous,” Wu said before the film was screened. “I’m a musician, not a filmmaker, but this is a passion.”

However, through the production of this film, Wu proves herself to be not only a musician, but also an artist, expressing interests in multimedia, arts and theatre. This summer, Wu plans to work in Singapore as part of a group of Asian artists putting on an eclectic production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”

Friday’s concert can be seen as a culmination of Wu’s artistic abilities while also highlighting the pipa’s musical potential. The first half of the program is dominated by martial, civil and traditional pieces from history for example, a likely highlight of the first half of the show is “Ambush from 10 Sides,” a martial composition about a battle in 202 B.C. that is so difficult, it is typically only performed by pipa virtuosos. However, with assistance from Robert Schultz on percussion instruments including the marimba, Spencer Topel on the violin and Yang Yi on the zheng another Chinese string instrument the concert will incorporate elements of modern world music, exemplified by the Western chords present in 1960’s “Dance of the Yi People.”

“Collaboration with modern artists is always interesting,” Wu said.

However, perhaps most exciting is the second half of the show consisting solely of “Ancient Dances,” a piece in three parts that premiered in 2005 and serves as the namesake for the concert. Composed by Chen Yi and Wu, “Ancient Dances” adds the visual of Chinese calligraphy to the music, another of Wu’s multimedia ventures.

When asked if she had any favorite pieces, Wu smiled before responding.

“Friday night[‘s concert] is good,” Wu said. “It has a lot of my favorites.”

Wu’s audience can expect to be taken on an artistic journey from the battlefield to the pastoral green in a virtuosic display of musicality, as tremolos, rolls, pizzicatos, sliding notes and harmonics abound. During the show at 8 p.m. in Spaulding on Friday, perhaps even the age-long classic standoff between East and West will be softened, with boundaries melted by the sway of music.

Kerr twins propel resurgent women’s swimming squad

While they deny having any special twin powers, swimmers Christine Kerr ’14 and Danielle Kerr ’14 have been making powerful waves in the pool throughout their first two seasons with the Big Green.

“The Class of 2014, and these two swimmers in particular, started the beginning of our resurgence as a better team,” head coach Jim Wilson said. “And, as sophomores, they have really become team leaders.”

Hailing from Gainesville, Fla., the Kerrs started swimming competitively when they were seven years old. Since then, their love for the pool has grown, with college swimming changing their perspective on the sport.

“To me, college swimming makes the sport of swimming make sense,” Christine Kerr said. “Swimming on a club team [in high school] is very individual. Now I really have a team to swim for, and that motivates me to do well.”

Both women hold Dartmouth records. Danielle Kerr owns the 200-yard butterfly record with a time of 1:59.88 and the 400-yard individual medley record with a time of 4:25.33, while Christine Kerr is the 200-yard freestyle record holder with a time of 1:48.96.

Recently, Danielle Kerr has been dominating the competition in the distance events, with her performance in the 1,000-yard free and 1,650-yard free earning her the distinction of DartmouthSports.com Athlete of the Week last week.

Even with their tremendous individual successes, one of the defining characteristics of the Kerrs is their sisterly love and support.

“We’re not competitive at all,” Christine Kerr said. “I’ve never met a set of twins as close as we are.”

And, while the two excel in different events Christine Kerr is a sprinter, while Danielle Kerr specializes in distance events “they live and breathe each other’s competitions,” Wilson said.

While the two rarely compete in the same races, the Kerrs wouldn’t mind if they were matched up against one another.

“I don’t care if she beats me,” Danielle Kerr said. “We feed off each other’s successes. If she does well, I feel like I do well. It’s a friendly competitiveness.”

In Dartmouth’s recent meet against University of New Hampshire, the Kerrs, along with teammates Sasha Alcon ’15 and Elizabeth Kamai ’12, set a new 200-yard freestyle relay pool record at UNH’s Forbush Natatorium with a time of 1:41.35. For the twins, breaking the pool record was particularly sweet because the two now get to share the record with each other.

The years of swimming experience that the Kerrs have shared have led them to become each other’s biggest motivators.

“They push each other,” Wilson said. “They have a unique situation in that they can share each other’s experiences and grow off that unlike any other teammates.”

This ability to share experiences was something that the Kerrs knew they wanted when looking at colleges.

“We always knew we wanted to go to the same school,” Danielle Kerr said. “We got interested in Dartmouth when we were juniors, and then we came and visited, and it just felt right.”

Swimming has become the defining characteristic of their Dartmouth experience, mostly because of how much they love their team.

“I love going to morning practice at 6 a.m.,” Christine Kerr said. “People think I’m crazy, but I get to see all my best friends.”

The twins take this positive, focused attitude into every aspect of their athletic performance.

“Their greatest strengths are definitely their work ethics,” Wilson said. “They work extremely hard, and that’s what has gotten them to this point. And, through it all, they always have a smile on their faces.”

As roommates this year, the two swimmers are almost inseparable.

“We think alike,” Christine Kerr said. “If I was to say something really obscure to describe something, Danielle would know exactly what I mean.”

These skills also come in handy outside of the pool.

“We’re really good at random board games, like Pictionary,” Danielle Kerr said. “It’s like we have the same brain but in two different bodies.”

After a year and a half, their coach still occasionally has trouble telling them apart.

“I still miss once in awhile they can mess me up big time,” Wilson said. “I can tell them apart about 90 percent of the time though, especially when they are standing side by side.”

If it isn’t hard enough for spectators to distinguish individual swimmers when they don their team suits, swim caps and goggles, this dynamic duo really provides a challenge.

After working hard in practices, pushing themselves and their teammates to improve and performing well in meets, the Kerrs have high hopes for the rest of the swim season. The Big Green will host the University of Massachusetts and Bryant University this weekend, Jan. 27-28, at the Dartmouth Invitational in White River Junction, Vt., and the Kerrs are looking forward to the meet as another chance for the team to improve, with only four weeks remaining before Ivy League Championships.

“We want to win the [Dartmouth] Invitational like we did last year,” Christine Kerr said. “And we have two more out of conference meets which we want to win as well, and we want to get fifth or better at Ivy [Championships in March].”

Women’s tennis falls to Boston College in 2012 opener

The women's tennis team will travel to Chicago for the ITA National Indoor Kickoff Weekend Jan. 28-29.

The Dartmouth women’s tennis team faced regional rival Boston College in its opening match of the season on Saturday at the Weymouth Club in Weymouth, Mass. The Big Green, currently ranked No. 56 nationally, fell to the No. 45 Eagles, 6-1. Co-captain Shelley Carpeni ’12 described the matches as “hard fought,” and said the level of competition was high.

Despite losing two of the three doubles matches, Rachel Decker-Sadowski ’14 and Sabrina Stewart ’14 won 8-6 at the No. 3 slot. The Eagles’ top doubles team, ranked No. 11 in the nation, defeated Jeri Reichel ’13 and Melissa Matsouka ’14, 8-3.

Co-captain Sarah Leonard ’13 said that while doubles are not necessarily more important than singles, they can often decide matches.

Doubles teams are selected by head coach Robert Dallis, but usually reflect a mix of comparable skills and personalities that mesh well. Both Leonard and Carpeni mentioned that the team is reenergized coming back in the winter after a fall season dominated by individual competitions.

“We are really excited to finally be in the winter season, since the fall is very individually based,” said Carpeni. “[This past weekend] showed us why we love to play on the Dartmouth tennis team.”

This season Carpeni said the team has been particularly focused on their fitness, and said she feels she is in the shape of her life.

“Each year the fitness gets progressively a little harder,” said Carpeni. “It’s a new goal, getting to a [fitness] level and then implementing it.”

Although Akiko Okudo ’15 was the only freshman able to play in the first match, Carpeni said that the freshmen have been impressive to watch so far and are on their way to “making a big impact on the team this year.”

Leonard echoed Carpeni’s sentiment and said that the freshmen’s passion for the game and personalities fit with the culture of the team.

“[It’s] really cool every year to get a new set of personalities to play against and different game styles,” Leonard said.

Coming off a 2011 season in which the Big Green split the Ivy League title with Yale University, Leonard said her attitude is to focus on a clean slate for the season. The team graduated three seniors last year.

“Nothing that happened last year carries over it is the hard work and all that good stuff that will get us to another Ivy Championship this year,” Leonard said.

The Big Green’s next match will feature more intense, high-level competition as the squad travels to Chicago for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Kickoff Weekend, featuring the top 60 teams in the country.

After returning from Chicago, the Big Green’s next big competition will come at the ECAC Indoor Tennis Championships, held at Yale on Feb. 17.

“Everything culminates in [Ivy League play], and this year we will be defending the title,” Shelley said. “The ECACs are a great opportunity in the winter because it’s basically only Ivies there, so we get a chance to see them before the spring.”