Daily Debriefing

Christine Hull Paxson, a Princeton economist and dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, was named Brown University’s 19th president on Friday, the Associated Press reported. The search process began last September when Ruth Simmons announced her imminent resignation, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Paxson will replace Simmons on July 1 and called the opportunity to join the Brown community a “privilege,” according to the AP. Paxson’s hire marks the first time since 1970 that Brown has not chosen someone who previously served as a university president or provost, according to The Chronicle. Her research focuses on the link between health and socioeconomic status in developed and developing nations, according to the AP.

A man who unknowingly bought stolen cards and letters by Robert Frost, said he will return the documents but wants to recover the $25,000 he paid for them, The Boston Globe reported on Saturday. Thomas Cady bought the papers from an employee of Listen Community Services, a non-profit organization based in White River Junction, according to The Boston Globe. Tim Bernaby, the Listen employee who allegedly sold Frost’s two letters and 13 Christmas cards to Cady, said he found them in a desk that the family of 90-year-old Hanover resident Hewlett Joyce donated to the non-profit, The Valley News reported on Friday. Bernaby has plead not guilty to a felony charge of grand larceny, which holds a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Democrats view the impact of colleges and universities on the United States in a more positive way than Republicans, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. While 46 percent of conservative Republicans surveyed indicated that these institutions have a positive impact on the country, 39 percent said they have a negative impact. In contrast, 67 percent of Democrats said institutions of higher education make positive contributions to society, with only 20 percent citing them as negative, the Pew Research Center reported. The majority of American college graduates, regardless of political affiliation, think that higher education is worth its cost, according to the survey. Almost all respondents 99, 96 and 93 percent of Republicans, Democrats and independents, respectively said they expect their children to go to college, according to the study.

Athletic recruiting reflects Ivy norms

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a three-part series about Dartmouth’s athletic programs.

For Dartmouth, the intermixing of athletics and academics to produce a well-rounded education can be traced back to the Ivy League’s founding. While college athletics as a whole have seen tremendous change and competitive growth over the past 50 years, the Ivy League’s strict academic regulations have remained virtually unchanged, forcing its member universities to find alternative recruiting methods, according to athletic director Harry Sheehy.

These methods include strong financial aid programs and increased transparency between athletic and admissions departments to combat a growing athletic disadvantage.

History

The first recorded athletic event between two Ivy League institutions, a crew race between Yale University and Harvard University, occurred on Aug. 3, 1852. For the next century, the eight Ivy League institutions participated in various loose athletic associations and enjoyed considerable success on the national stage.

In the 1936-1937 season, Dartmouth’s football team was invited to attend the Rose Bowl, but then-College President Ernest Hopkins declined the offer in deference to academics, setting a precedent for Dartmouth football teams to forgo postseason games.

The Ivy League was officially founded in 1954, when the Ancient Eight applied pre-existing football regulations to all other intercollegiate sports. The regulations re-emphasized academic, athletic and financial rules, including the prohibition of athletic scholarships and postseason football play. The first season began in 1956.

Today, all of Dartmouth’s 34 varsity athletic teams, along with their Ivy League counterparts, compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Conference, the highest level of collegiate athletics. NCAA athletes are considered amateurs, meaning that they cannot accept outside monetary prizes or endorsements. The Ivy League, with only eight members, remains the smallest athletic conference in Division I.

“The focus of the Ivy League is on intra-league play,” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said.

Admissions Practices and Recruiting

While the NCAA broadly regulates the academic aspects of recruiting, the 346 Divison-I universities vary greatly in terms of individual school and league policies on recruitment and admissions processes for college athletes.

“Recruiting nationally is neither sane nor thoughtful,” Sheehy said. “We’re very thankful that we’ve found some middle ground that enables us to be competitive but isn’t adding to the lunacy.”

Ivy League institutions offer only need-based financial aid and do not grant any athletic scholarships, making it unique among athletic conferences.

Ivy League athletes must also meet certain academic standards in order to be considered for admission.

“The academic nature of the institution is a point of separation,” Buddy Teevens ’79, former Dartmouth quarterback and current football head coach, said.

One way universities identify athletes’ qualifications is a system known as the Academic Index, which helps gauge a recruit’s academic merit.

While the exact formula varies across the Ivy League, the AI combines a prospective applicant’s test scores and high school GPA to generate a number between 60-240, according to Bob Ceplikas ’78, deputy director of athletics and a former admissions employee.

The combined average AI of all athletes at a school must be within one standard deviation of the combined average for the rest of the student body, he said.

After all athletes are admitted, the Dartmouth Admissions Office calculates an AI for the entire admitted pool of athletes and submits the number to the Ivy League Office. The Ivy League Office then helps determine whether the admitted group of athletes is representative of the rest of the student body, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris ’84.

“We don’t change admissions decisions, but we have to report this information to the league after the admissions season has completed,” Laskaris said.

Ceplikas said the average difference between athletes’ AI and the normal student body’s AI is within 10 points at Dartmouth.

“The system is designed so that your requirements for your student-athletes are linked to the student body,” Ceplikas said. “So as Dartmouth’s student body has gotten stronger in terms of academic credentials, the requirements for our student athletes have as well.”

As a result, the necessary average AI that athletes must meet varies among different teams at Dartmouth.

Football player Nick Schwieger ’12 said he was encouraged to score at least 1800 on his SAT. Among the three possible categories recruits are placed into based on their AI score, he was a “low-band” recruit, he said.

Dartmouth usually targets “high-band” recruits, according to Schwieger. Colleges also recruit less-talented athletes with higher AI scores in order to offset recruits who might be more athletically talented but whose test scores would hurt the team average, according to players interviewed.

“[University of Pennsylvania] was recruiting me really hard because I would raise their average up,” Corey Schafer ’13, Dartmouth’s No. 1 ranked women’s squash player, said.

Among the Ivy League institutions in which Schafer expressed interest, including Penn, Cornell University and Dartmouth, Dartmouth’s squash coaches required the highest AI, according to Schafer.

Chris Hanson ’13, Dartmouth’s No. 1 ranked men’s squash player, said he believes the high AI standards at Dartmouth can create an obstacle for potential squash recruits and added that a lack of strong recruits puts teams at a disadvantage.

“I think we could afford to maybe drop how high the point standard is and let in someone a little more talented and a little less smart,” he said.

Ceplikas, however, said he believes Dartmouth has found the right balance.

“We take great pride in that Dartmouth doesn’t compromise on our academic standards,” he said. “We want to win, but we want to win the right way.”

Christian Kader, a freshman rower at the University of California, Berkley, contacted all eight Ivy League schools but was not signed as a recruit because of his relatively low test scores.

Kader said Ivy League coaches told him he needed a combined SAT score of 1850 to be accepted.

While the official AI score is not calculated until October of each year and is not the sole factor in admissions, the academic evaluation and recruitment of athletes begins much earlier, in part a response to the ever-competitive national recruiting process.

The Admissions Office can begin informal evaluation of an athlete on July 1 of the athlete’s senior year of high school as regulated by the Ivy League, according to Laskaris.

Most Dartmouth athletes interviewed said they were asked to send in their academic transcripts in the early stages of recruiting, at which point they were told whether they needed to improve certain aspects of their application in order to increase their likelihood of admission.

“Our desire is not to bring students here who struggle,” Sheehy said. “It just isn’t profitable for anyone.”

Between four and five members of the admissions staff act as liaisons with Dartmouth coaches regarding potential recruits’ admissibility, according to Laskaris.

“The coaches will come to us with a set of credentials and some of the preliminary parts of students’ applications, and we will give them a sense of whether a student is recruitable,” Laskaris said.

The Admissions Office can begin to give formal “likely letters” to athletic recruits starting on Oct. 1 as per Ivy League rules, according to Laskaris.

Potential Ivy League recruits, however, receive offers from non-Ivy League schools as early as their junior year, especially in sports like lacrosse, according to Sheehy.Ivy League schools, unable to offer official decisions that early in the process, have the majority of their athletes apply under the early decision program to help offset their recruiting disadvantages, Laskaris said.

Scholarships

The Ivy League is the only Division-I conference that does not offer athletic scholarships, which has historically been an obstacle, but this is now increasingly offset by strong need-based financial aid programs, according to Laskaris.

Given the competitive financial aid packages awarded in the Ivy League, athletes are able to play for Ivy League teams without affecting their family’s financial stability, she said.

“There’s no doubt that Dartmouth financial aid initiatives have played an important role in our ability to go to head-to-head with scholarship schools,” Ceplikas said.

Ethan Shaw ’12, a cross country runner also recruited by Georgetown University, said that financial aid played a key role in his decision to matriculate at the College.

Teevens, who previously coached at Stanford University, Tulane University and the University of Florida, said introducing athletic scholarships in the Ivy League would change the nature of recruiting.

“At a bigger school, it’s a much more business-like approach,” he said. “A player is more of a commodity than an individual.”

Abbey D’Agostino ’14, a member of the women’s cross country and track teams who placed third at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships, said that introducing athletic scholarships in Ivy League recruiting would alter the sport’s amateur nature.

“What sort of turned me off about Division-I non-Ivies was that it tended to be more competitive because of the scholarship part of it,” she said. “When there’s sort of that inter-team competition for scholarships, there tends to be more tension. It kind of interferes with the team dynamic.”

Athletic scholarships can also create a wider gap between the academic performance of athletes and that of the rest of the student body, according to Teevens. When players’ enrollment is tied to their athletic success, the scholar-athlete has less freedom in shaping his or her college experience, according to Ceplikas.

“Our athletes can pursue all other interests on campus, which they do,” he said. “They don’t have to keep playing their sport if they don’t want to. We end up with student-athletes who are playing their sport because they love it.”

Some athletes interviewed still believe the lack of athletic scholarships truly holds Ivy League schools back from competing at a national level across all sports.

“I hope in a few years the Ivy League will change their rules and allow scholarships,” Shaw said. “Ultimately, it’s impossible to be a legitimate contender without scholarships.”

Tennis player Mike Jacobs ’13 said the team has trouble competing against schools that give athletic scholarships.

“What has to happen is because we’re not necessarily getting the best talent, we just have to work harder than everyone else,” he said.

Ceplikas said he expects the recent increase in financial aid and alumni donations to help close the gap between powerhouse institutions that offer athletic scholarships and Ivy League schools.

“With stronger financial aid programs, it has put us in reach of the more talented students,” Ceplikas said. “When you look at how successful Ivy League teams already are on a national scale and that’s competing as the only Division I conference with no athletic aid if all of Division I had no athletic aid, I think the Ivy League would dominate.”

Graduate students win consulting competition

Graduate students from the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth Medical School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as well as a number of undergraduate students, presented their recommendations to improve the five-year growth of Kiva, a non-profit organization that links lenders and innovators via the Internet, as part of the Oliver Wyman Case Competition on Friday.

The competition organized by the Thayer Consulting Club, the Dartmouth Society of Investment and Economics and the Graduate Consulting Club marks the second case competition hosted by the College, according to Thayer Consulting Club member Rezwan Khan Th ’13, who was involved in the event’s organization.

The competition was comprised of three rounds, with 29 teams and a total of 107 students entered in the initial mini-case round. Teams were tasked with presenting suggestions for Outfittr, a start-up outdoor equipment rental company founded by Daniel Philp ’03 Tu ’12. Following the assignment, 16 teams progressed to the second round, and six final teams were then chosen by Tuck and Thayer faculty members judging the competition.

During the final round, the remaining teams presented their growth strategy recommendations for Kiva to judges Philp, Oliver Wyman consultant John Engstrom Th ’10 and Oliver Wyman senior associate Jeremy Sporn Tu ’08.

While judging was based on a variety of criteria, winning teams were selected for conducting the best strategic planning most closely resembling that of an actual consulting firm, Engstrom said.

The winning team, which included Yang Shen Th ’12, Yicai Bao Th ’12, Vedant Rathi Th ’12 and Boyu Zhang Th ’12, won a $2,000 prize and interviews with Oliver Wyman. Saaid Arshad ’14, Jonathan Pedde ’14 and Haider Syed Th ’13 received the second-place title and a $1,000 prize.

The competition was created to bring students together and provide them with necessary skills in the field of consulting, according to Khan. Student participants ranged from undergraduate economic majors to cell and molecular biology majors working toward their doctorates.

“You need not only be the business type to work in consulting,” Axia representative and judge Mat Ackerman ’05 Th ’06 said. “The lack of an actual business major is a major reason why we recruit here at Dartmouth. It makes it more diverse, and that third party perspective is also the reason why companies would hire consultants.”

The resumes of all final round participants were compiled in a book distributed to the judges, who may choose to extend interviews to any of the individuals, according to Khan.

Oliver Wyman and Axia Limited, two management consulting firms that sponsored the first Dartmouth case competition in 2011, agreed to sponsor this year’s competition, donating $3,000 and $1,000, respectively, Khan said. The student organizations each raised $1,000 to cover the costs of the competition.

“We felt that we needed to create a more prestigious kind of competition here at Dartmouth, and one way to do that was by increasing the prize money from last year, especially since we didn’t have enough money to offer a second place prize,” Khan said. “We presented Oliver Wyman and Axia with proposals on why they should be involved. They could work directly with students and liked the idea that we would be partners for months.”

Representatives from Oliver Wyman and Axia expressed interest in sponsoring the event again next year.

“It was great to see Dartmouth students getting involved like this,” Engstrom said. “It’s good to see how it’s evolved and how the reach has grown.”

The student organizations involved began planning the competition two months prior to the event, Thayer Assistant Dean of Academic and Student Affairs Carrie Fraser said. The kickoff meeting featured a representative from Oliver Wyman and the winners of last year’s competition. Workshops were also implemented to teach participants to interpret data and solve and present cases.

“We saw that last year’s students had a lot of good ideas but struggled because they didn’t know what to focus on within the limited time frame of the competition,” Khan said. “This year, we’ve really seen an improvement in the quality of the presentations.”

The competition experience served as a learning process for the participants, according to Rathi. During the final round, for example, participants had to confront Kiva’s lack of a defined market or profit growth rates due to the organization’s status as a non-profit, he said. The winning team evaluated Kiva’s growth in different regions of the world and focused on specific countries to assess the organization’s short-term and long-term growth, he said.

The second-place team prepared by reading practice cases online and researching the companies and industries of interest, Syed said. The team explored many resources in order to compile usable data for its analyses, but became bogged down by details during the first round, according to its members. “Our data was very well-supported, but we learned that it was okay to make assumptions because we had too much detail,” Arshad said.

The competition also allowed participants to consider the possibility of careers in consulting, according to Bao.

“This was the best way to get hands-on experience in the consulting world in a group setting,” Rathi said. “Everyone on our team had different strong points, and we learned to divide the work and brainstorm ideas efficiently.”

Some participants said they wished the workshops and competition had been more guided and specific, and others cited inconsistency in feedback from the judges as a source of frustration.

Trustees raise no-loan threshold

The cost of attendance for the upcoming academic year and the budget for fiscal year 2013 were the primary topics of discussion at the Board of Trustees’ termly meeting on Friday and Saturday. The Board voted to increase tuition by 4.9 percent to $43,782 and the price of room, board and fees by 4.8 percent, bringing the total cost of attendance to $57,998, according to a College press release. The Board also voted to raise the no-loan threshold for students receiving financial aid from $75,000 to $100,000, altering the cut-off that was put in place for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The rise in cost of attendance represents an increase similar to those of previous years, College President Jim Yong Kim said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

The Board has raised the aggregate cost of attendance by an average of 4.8 percent each year for the past decade, except for the 5.9-percent increase last year, Kim said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

When deciding to increase the cost of attendance, the Board focuses not only on covering the College’s costs but also considers the rate at which peer institutions increase costs, Kim said. Attendance costs usually increase by between 3 to 5 percent in a given year, he said.

The Board attempts to keep increases within that “narrow band” to ensure competitiveness, according to Chairman of the Board Stephen Mandel ’78.

The decision to raise the no-loan threshold marks a “way to further the affordability of Dartmouth,” Mandel said.

The increased no-load threshold of $100,000 is currently “double the median income of the United States,” Kim said.

“That’s the mark that we felt comfortable that we could afford,” he said, noting that, in the Ivy League, Brown University also has a $100,000 no-loan cutoff.

Kim said he hopes the increase will positively affect the College’s yield of accepted students who ultimately matriculate at Dartmouth.

While college students attending colleges and universities in New Hampshire exhibit the highest rate of indebtedness in the U.S., Dartmouth students graduate with about half the indebtedness of the average New Hampshire college student, Kim said.

The Board also addressed the issue of hazing on campus in the wake of recent publicity, focusing on the College’s “very tough stance” on hazing and “strong approach” to student safety, Kim said.

“We’re working on this,” he said. “Our plan is to try to be a leader.”

At the meeting, the Board also approved a $934-million operating budget and a $54-million capital budget for fiscal year 2013, the latter of which funds “key building repairs, renovation, campus-wide master planning and building planning,” among other projects, according to the release.

The capital budget will also fund the design of the new Williamson Translational Research Building, to be constructed at Dartmouth Medical School’s Lebanon campus using a 2007 gift of $20 million from the Williamson family.

The endeavor is part of the College’s 20×20 initiative, which aims to place DMS among the top 20 nationally-ranked medical schools in the country by 2020, according to Kim. DMS is currently ranked 32nd.

Kim said that increasing DMS’ ranking will improve the College’s ranking and recognition as a whole while ensuring continued research funding.

Tuition for DMS and Tuck School of Business will increase by 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively, according to the press release.

As the meeting adjourned, a group of five students wearing shirts printed with the word “Teamster” and identifying themselves as members of the Occupy Dartmouth and Students Stand with Staff movements held a “mic check” and distributed flyers to trustees as they exited the meeting.

Members of the group said they wanted to draw attention to trustee Diana Taylor, who serves as a board member at the auction house Sotheby’s, according to the group.

Sotheby’s is currently locked in a labor dispute with several of its art handlers, members of the group said.

Taylor said she would resign from Southeby’s board if it entered into negotiations with the worker’s union, according to protesters, who called for Taylor’s immediate removal from the College’s Board of Trustees.

College charges SAE for hazing violations

The College is charging Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for hazing violations and is also creating a task force to address hazing on campus.

Correction appended###

The College has charged Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity with allegedly violating hazing regulations, but charges have not yet been finalized, according to Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College. The College is also creating a task force to address hazing and its relationship with binge drinking and sexual assault on campus, College President Jim Yong Kim said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

The task force, which is still being formulated and will likely be finalized “within the next couple of weeks,” will consist of students, faculty and staff, with “no one from the outside,” Anderson said. The committee will, however, consult outside experts, according to Anderson. The group will work to “tap out the issues of hazing, binge drinking and sexual assault together,” Kim said.

SAE leadership has also met with faculty and staff members to consider potential changes to the “pledge process” for 2012, seeking input from both other fraternity members and members of the community, according to Anderson, who said their initial proposals are “promising” and could potentially be applied to other student groups.

The organization’s leaders hope to create a more “transparent” program in cooperation with faculty and staff who study and improve group dynamics, Michael Fancher ’13, who will become the president of SAE in the spring, said in an email to The Dartmouth. Fancher said he has also met with several administrators.

“By tapping into their expertise, we believe that SAE can create a well-structured, safe pledge program with little ambiguity about what does and does not take place,” he said.

The process through which SAE is being charged with hazing violations is the same process through which both Alpha Delta and Theta Delta Chi fraternities were found responsible for hazing infractions during Fall term, Anderson said. The charges against SAE are more severe than those against AD and TDX in the fall, according to Anderson. Both fraternities received probationary sentences, which ended this term. SAE will face a hearing chaired by a member of the Dean of the College office during Spring term. Anderson declined to comment on the specific events and their timing that led to the charges.

“There is a judicial process that is underway that will determine whether or not the organization that is charged will be held responsible based on the evidence,” he said.

Anderson declined to comment on whether individual members of SAE will be facing charges, citing College policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which prevents educational institutions from disclosing information about students’ academic and disciplinary records.

“It’s not our policy to comment on specific charges,” Anderson said. “This is an ongoing investigation related to potential hazing activity.”

In January, former SAE member Andrew Lohse ’12 accused the fraternity of hazing during his pledge term and condemned administrators for what he saw as their inadequate response the his allegations. Before making his allegations public in a Jan. 25 opinion column in The Dartmouth, Lohse brought his complaints to Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life April Thompson and Chief of Staff David Spalding, who said they were unable to thoroughly investigate Lohse’s claims due to a lack of evidence and Lohse’s initial desire for anonymity.

The allegations have garnered attention in other Ivy League newspapers and national news sources, including The Boston Globe, Bloomberg and The Huffington Post. Kim said he is aware of the recent local and national press coverage of hazing at Dartmouth and that the appropriate judicial response is underway.

“It’s really important, and I hope that people know that this administration has taken a very aggressive approach to student safety,” he said. “That is my first and foremost responsibility, so I could not possibly take it more seriously.”

Kim said that the College’s current hazing rules and judicial system are adequately prepared to handle student safety and the issue of hazing.

“I just want to make clear that we have very stringent rules against hazing,” Kim said. “We have a disciplinary system that has filed charges against four organizations in the last couple of years.”

Kim said he is as committed to preventing hazing and sexual assault on campus as he is to addressing binge drinking, an issue on which he has focused since becoming president of the College. Dartmouth has already begun collecting information about best practices regarding handling hazing on college campuses, according to Kim.

“We need to get a lot of information,” he said. “Our intention is to be a leader.”

Kim said his own ability to confront hazing issues within the Greek system is limited by his functional role within the College and the need for coordination between himself, other administrators, members of the Board of Trustees and faculty, which must be combined with input from students and staff.

“This is not a monarchy,” Kim said. “I barely have any power I’m a convener, and I’m a convener of people with very different views of where we should go. But the one thing that I will not compromise on is student safety.”

Kim said hazing must be addressed from the perspectives of both administrators and students.

“Things that are as deep as getting rid of the [Greek] system that’s been here forever that’s not something that I can do by fiat, nor that I would ever think to do by fiat,” Kim said.

Students must join the effort and report any hazing violations they may experience or witness, Kim said. Since the problem is not confined solely to the Greek system but also involves other student organizations and sports teams, the solution requires coordination and commitment among all students and student groups, he said.

“Some people want to talk about changing the Greek system fundamentally,” Kim said. “That’s a discussion that they want to have, and that’s a discussion that we can have, but you have to look at everybody. This is not just the Greek system that does [hazing].”

In the long run, students need to think hard about fundamentally different ways of initiating their peers into organizations, he said.

“Some people are saying, Well, the administration should do more,'” Kim said. “We’re trying to understand what more we can do.”

Kim said Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s legal experience and experience working at Colgate University, which also has a large Greek system, are invaluable, enabling her to “take the lead” on hazing issues at Dartmouth.

“These are legal issues that are complicated, and she’s taken the lead on something that I think is appropriate,” Kim said. “I’ve taken the lead on binge drinking and sexual assault because those are public health problems. Hazing can be thought of as a public health problem, but it’s very much a legal problem.”

Faculty and alumni have also mobilized to express their condemnation of the Greek system’s habitual hazing violations and their frustration with the way the administration has addressed the situation.

On Feb. 2, 105 faculty members signed a formal letter to the administration that referred to hazing as an “open secret for decades … in opposition to the values that the College holds dear.”

A small group of alumni also responded on Feb. 18, pledging to stop donations to the College until administrators increased their efforts to curb hazing at the College.

SAE president Brendan Mahoney ’12 did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Lohse declined to comment for this article, citing an exclusive arrangement with Rolling Stone magazine.

**The original version of this article incorrectly stated that SAE is facing charges similar to those faced by AD and TDX in the fall when in fact the process by which the fraternity is being charged is the same. Additionally, while no outside experts will sit on the College hazing task force, outside experts will be consulted.*

Internet Meme of the Week: Jim Rash Begins “Jolieing” Craze

At the 84th Academy Awards, Angelina Jolie wore a black Versace dress with a split revealing her leg. The dress caused a stir on the red carpet that undoubtedly would have been the talk of the fashion police the next day. The dress may not have strayed too far from entertainment news had Jolie not taken the stage that night. After presenting the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay to “The Descendants,” co-winner Jim Rash (Dean Pelton from “Community”) mocked Jolie by standing with his leg prominently sticking out, thus giving rise to “Jolieing.” The stance went viral immediately with many people imitating Jolie’s pose while doing ordinary activities such as shopping, working and eating. The leg has even found its way into famous pictures such as the Apollo 11 moon landing and the University of California, Davis pepper spray incident last year. If there is one thing to take away from “Jolieing,” however, it is that maybe a traditional dress is not such a bad idea after all.

Now Playing in Hanover: ‘Project X’

Produced by Todd Phillips, the director of “The Hangover” (2009), “Project X” is a comedy about a group of three anonymous high school best friends determined to throw the craziest party ever. Thomas (Thomas Mann) is turning 17, and his friends (Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown) are throwing a birthday party at his house because Thomas’sparents are going away for the weekend. As word spreads, however, the size of the party gets completely out of control. The film documents the entire night from the perspective of an attendant’s digital camera. Anisha Mohin

Directed by: Nima NourizadehWith: Mann, Brown, Cooper, DaxFlame and Brady Hender88 minutesRated R

“Project X” presents yet another portrait of the tried-and-true formula: geeky high school kid + ridiculous party = popularity that would make the Kardashians jealous. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s not entirely unwatchable, either. Nourizadeh puts three newcomers in the lead roles, which aids in the film’s entertainment value and the believability that the whole party was captured on film by one of the hooligans. If you missed out on weekend festivities yourself, perhaps you could live vicariously through “Project X.”
Kate Sullivan

This was the party every teenager might dream of and every parent has a nightmare of. There’s not a whole lot of regret from the geeky teenage boys or emphasis placed on the gravity of the repercussions of their experiment gone wrong. It’s reckless and sleazy in both content and production, but undoubtedly interesting to watch. Jackie Wei

If you made a list of the 10 most ridiculous things you could think of, I guarantee they all happened in the first third of “Project X.” The film’s humor derives from its absurdity, including one memorable scene in which a midget jumps out of an oven and punches numerous people in the crotch. If we needed to select this generation’s “Animal House” (1978), “Project X” would be a good contender. Then again, I’m not sure any other movie could out-ridiculous this one. Varun Bhuchar

Monte Reed places first in this year’s ‘Idol’ competition

Correction appended

On Friday, eager audience members at the finals of “Dartmouth Idol” were handed multicolored ballots listing the six finalists as they entered Spaulding Auditorium to decide who would be this year’s victor. The 2012 competitiors Phoebe Bodurtha ’15, Charli Fool-Bear Vetter ’15, Nick Knezek ’12, Emily Liu ’12, Hayley Lynch ’15 and Monte Reed ’12 each performed multiple songs, culminating in Reed’s victory, which was determined by the audience’s votes.

Liu finished second and Bodurtha finished third in this year’s competition, which was co-hosted by Angela Dunnham ’13, Jonathan Katz ’12 and Ben Ludlow ’12.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I won,” Reed said. “It’s so unreal. It’s pretty mind-blowing to think that all of the hard work and dedication, the long hours and the preparation all paid off and that the audience and the judges actually liked my performances.”

The judges for this year were Chicago-based vocal coach Janet Salter and Dartmouth Glee Club alumna Elizabeth Roberts ’00, who were joined by last year’s “Idol” finalists Michelle Shankar ’12 and Ethan Weinberg ’12. During the first half of the show, each contestant performed one song, after which they received feedback from the judges. Roberts called Reed, who first sang “Mad World” by Tears for Fears, was called a “responsible superhero” for his song choice and powerful vocal abilities.

“You could just blow us away with the power in your voice,” Roberts said. “But instead, you chose to perform a really intimate song, which is powerful in such a different way.”

Reed followed with Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good,” a much higher-energy number. Reed won $500 in cash and received the opportunity to record two songs in a studio.

“I can’t wait to get in the recording studio, especially because this is my last year here and I definitely want to go into the music business after graduating,” he said. “Having the opportunity to record will hopefully be a great way to get a jump start in the industry.”

Reed said that “Idol” does not have a cutthroat, competitive vibe but is a great opportunity for singers from all different areas of campus to come together and put on a show for the entire community.

Bodurtha also said she enjoyed the fun, cooperative atmosphere of Idol.’

“I would definitely recommend that anyone who has an interest in singing try out for Idol’ because it was such an amazing experience,” Bodurtha said. “We all really bonded during rehearsals.”

Salter said she was impressed by Bodurtha, who sang “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and “Love on Top” by Beyonce, and was surprised that such a “big voice could come out of such a small person.”

“You just took this night to a whole new level,” Shankar said of Bodurtha. “Your song filled the room, and it was just beautiful.”

Fool-Bear Vetter, who opened the show, sang “Rumor Has It” by Adele and later “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton.

“After tonight, we’re not going to be saying Charli can sing that song like Adele,” Shankar said. “We’re going to be saying that Adele sounds like Charli.”

Knezek, who first performed the classic song “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, was praised for his ability to “take an iconic song and make it [his] own.”

Liu, the fourth contestant to perform, belted out her rendition of “I’m The Only One” by Melissa Etheridge.

“I absolutely loved that,” Weinberg said. “It was a really believable song, and I loved that you had fun with the band.”

Liu’s next song, “Through the Fire” by Chaka Kahn, had a very different vibe, but Weinberg said it was his favorite performance of the night.

Lynch performed a medley of songs “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer and was praised for her choice of songs “outside of [her] comfort zone.”

After the performances were over, the audience’s ballots were collected. Gospel Choir director and “Idol” Walt Cunningham announced the winners.

“I really think that everyone who auditions for Idol is a winner,” Cunningham said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “It takes a lot of courage to come out for this type of competition, and I really respect that. There’s a lot of talent on this campus.”

**The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the winner was decided by a combination of audience votes and the judges’ choices when in fact the finals were decided entirely by audience vote.*

Ruhl’s play comments on our cell phone dependent society

Sarah Ruhl's play

A tale of estranged love and errant cell phone waves, the student production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” premiered over the weekend at the Bentley Theater in the Hopkins Center. The show was directed by Maria Carolan ’12 and funded by the theater department as this term’s student production.

Written by contemporary playwright and recent MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient Ruhl, the play highlights the banality of daily life in New York City through protagonist Gordon, played by Maximillian Saint-Preux ’15, whose final day of life is realized on stage. This depiction of quotidian life is contrasted with a surreal film-noir dramatization, however, particularly of the events that follow his death.The play humorously follows the ways in which one cell phone can throw together six individuals after Gordon’s cell phone is found by a stranger, while also providing commentary on today’s technology-dependent society.

During the first week of Winter term, students had the opportunity to present proposals for a play that they wanted to produce, according to Carolan. The theater department then reviewed the written proposals and selected Carolan’s, granting her $400 to produce “Dead Man’s Cell Phone.”

“The proposal is your personal argument about why this play is relevant to the Dartmouth community,” Carolan said. “You also need to have your production team ready, including your advisors.”

Carolan said she became familiar with the play after performing a number of scenes from it in her acting class last spring.

“It has a really weird humorous tone it’s very original,” Carolan said. “[Ruhl’s play] does have allusions to film noir, and its bearings are in older stuff, but it’s very much its own thing.”

After her proposal was approved, Carolan held auditions. Although there were a number of other major productions going on this term, including “Hairspray,” “The Vagina Monologues” and “Dartmouth Idol,” Carolan said she was more than able to find actors that were right for each part of the play.

“We had nine full weeks this term and spent eight of them in production,” Carolan said. “I could have worked on this play forever, but I’ve also worked on WiRED,’ and I knew I could pull it together in 24 hours.”

The cast included Chris Gallerani ’15 as Gordon’s underappreciated younger brother, Hannah Coleman ’15 as Gordon’s jealous widow, Saida Makhmudzade ’14 as Gordon’s grieving mother, Lizzy Southwell ’15 as Gordon’s mistress and Svati Narula ’13 as Jean, the woman who finds Gordon’s phone in a cafe after he dies.

The actors had varying amounts of acting experience, both in the classroom and in student productions on campus, though Carolan said this was not an impediment to the production process.

“It is a very professional group,” Carolan said. “The cast learned their lines really quickly, and we’ve been able to change things in terms of blocking and really add layers of emotional depth to the production that usually we wouldn’t get to until dress rehearsals or opening night.”

Narula said that she auditioned for the show because it was something she wanted to try in her time on campus, though she had not participated in a Dartmouth theater production before.

“[Carolan] had us do all these exercises to think about our characters and their background,” Narula said. “In the past, I thought that acting was about reading lines emphatically, so it was a little weird at first.”

Ultimately, the director’s vision is of paramount importance, but Carolan has been mindful to include actors’ feedback on her suggestions, because the actors “live in their roles,” according to Saint-Preux. If the actors do not understand a change, the new movement or gesture will feel false, he said.

Carolan wanted to emphasize the film-noir aspects of the production, according to Southwell. For her own role as the mistress, Southwell discussed with Carolan her character’s awareness of her physical appearance and how others perceive her.

“[Carolan] has been really specific about how she wanted the play to look, but she also really wanted me to build my own character,” she said.

The strength of the play comes primarily from its script Ruhl’s crisp, clean lines allow humor to shine through. At Gordon’s funeral, for instance, Jean, who does not know who Gordon is until he is already dead, kneels down to pray after finding the dead man’s cell phone.

Carolan’s strong directing was also evident in her attention to detail. In one exchange between Makhmudzade and Narula, for example, the power struggle between Gordon’s mom and Jean is visible through Makhmudzade’s blase performance. First, she dips her hand into a bowl of foil-wrapped chocolates on the table between them, swirling the candies around before picking out a good one. A few seconds after popping it into her mouth, she makes a distasteful face, puts the candy back into the bowl and digs around for a new piece.

Some of Ruhl’s overt criticism of contemporary cell phone dependence felt a little stale, but on the whole, her commentary was refreshing and comical.

The play occasionally stumbled when the quirks of the production became too unrealistic. In most cases, the actors handled Ruhl’s eccentricities well, such as when Makhmudzade stroked and murmured to her Bengal tiger floor rug. In the moments, however, where the characters seemed aware of the absurdity of their own actions or broke character and laughed at their lines, the effectiveness of the scenes was lost.

Many scenes required cast members to truly take control of the stage as individual actors, which they did with considerable success. Saint-Preux was particularly strong in both conveying Gordon’s panicked thoughts and his eventual physical breakdown as he experiences a heart attack in a cafe. Makhmudzade was also wonderful, playing Gordon’s mother with both composure and anger at her son’s funeral.

As a whole, the cast was very successful at assembling the many moving parts of the play into a cohesive production. Carolan cited the transitions between scenes as one of the biggest challenges of the production during “tech week” the week before the opening night but the heavily stylized music between scenes and the clever ways in which actors interacted with the moving parts of the set linked disparate scenes together and added an element of humor.

Each student on the production team worked with an individual faculty advisor, and Carolan worked specifically with theater professor Jamie Horton to aid her in directing, she said. There have been about seven faculty advisors total assisting in the production process, as well as help from the costume shop, stage crew and light and sound crew. All included, about 50 people worked on the production.

Although the cast worried about audience attendance because of overlaps with various other performances, Bentley was more than half full on Friday evening, and the show received a rousing applause at its conclusion.