Daily Debriefing

Students at Vassar College raised over $60,000 in response to a possible anti-gay protest by Westboro Baptist Church, The Huffington Post reported. Only hours after the notorious church announced the protest on its website, Vassar students created a Crowdrise.com account to raise money for the Trevor Project, a suicide and crisis prevention organization that serves LGBT youth. Students have used social media to encourage others to participate in the protest. The Vassar LGBT community said that it hopes to collaborate with other students and staff in order to respond adequately to the church’s message. It is not clear, however, whether the church will actually conduct a protest on the college campus.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators suggested a number of changes to the financial aid system in a white paper released Wednesday, including limiting students’ loan eligibility, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. The suggestion aims to mitigate the problem of universities losing access to all federal student aid when not enough students repay their loans. The association suggested restricting borrowing through a student-loan eligibility index, which would employ grades and test scores to determine students’ loan eligibility upon enrollment. Even if students initially would not qualify for loans, they would still be eligible for Pell Grants and institutional aid and could regain loan eligibility if they improved their grades. A loan-eligibility index would not only benefit taxpayers but also prevent underprivileged students from having to repay loans after dropping out. The policy proposal was offered in response to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s project, Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery.

Over 1,800 Babson College students and alumni have contributed to a social media campaign encouraging the college’s search committee to select Dennis Hanno, dean of the graduate school and vice provost, as Babson’s next president, Inside Higher Ed reported. During his tenure as associate dean for undergraduate matters, Hanno was popular among students because he instituted positive changes and fostered a sense of community at the undergraduate level. Hanno said that although he is honored by the support from alumni and students, he does not consider himself uniquely qualified for the job and that the search committee will seek “the most highly qualified candidate and not the most popular one.” The student-organized campaign demonstrates the increased transparency that social media has brought to administrative decision-making, The Chronicle reported.

Women connect through stories

Students, professors and staff gathered to discuss storytelling at the Proud to Be a Woman dinner.

Emphasizing the power of storytelling to forge connections among women, French and Italian professor Tania Convertini led the female students, faculty and staff gathered in Alumni Hall for the 10th Proud to be a Woman dinner through one story after another.

One moment, Convertini affectionately recalled the many stories that her mother used to share during her childhood.

The next, she spoke to about how her mother gave her three first names.

Convertini encouraged the attendees at the Link Up event to take advantage of the facilitated table discussions to speak openly and empathize with one another about various personal experiences through storytelling.

“Stories really empower us and allow us to create a connection,” she said. “I don’t think that we tell stories enough.”

Stories are “magical” because they enable storytellers to recreate their experiences and share them with others, she said.

Not only do stories give women strength, but they expose people’s weaknesses because of the vulnerability required to tell a story.

While recounting the origins of her three names, Convertini explained that her names caused her pain throughout her life because she did not think her mother took enough time and effort to name her.

Convertini’s mother was first inspired to name her based on a Russian book that featured a character named Tania. During her childhood, however, her mother began calling her Kiki because her mother did not consider Tania an adequate name for a child. Several years later, a mistake on Convertini’s birth certificate transformed Tania Convertini into Tonia Convertini.

Near the end of her story, she said that her mother passed away a year ago and that while going through the things her mother left behind, she found a notebook with numerous names brainstormed on a page that might have become Convertini’s name.

“I had blamed my mother for years for negligence,” she said. “At that point, I realized that she really had given some thoughts about my name.”

Topics that expanded beyond gender abounded at the facilitated table discussions following Convertini’s lecture.

Across tables, students discussed their lack of time to interact with one another or to get to know others better through storytelling.

Margaret Allyn ’15, a member of Link Up, said the women at her table discussed how they seem to grow progressively similar to their mothers as years pass.

The professors at her table mentioned that women seem to have a greater propensity for storytelling than men, she said.

“I think there’s a part about women that is generative and creative,” Convertini said. “Whenever we generate life, there’s a new story coming about.”

She also said that mothers and grandmothers tend to be family storytellers.

Cally Womick ’13, who has attended almost every Proud to be a Woman dinner, said that she enjoyed the event because it gave her the opportunity to meet people whom she otherwise would not have met.

“I always leave with a renewed sense of the right way to meet people,” Womick said. “The most important thing is to invest time, honesty and interest.”

She said that it might be worth looking into inviting men to the dinner, which is held once a term.

Link Up president Thea Stutsman ’13 said the group considers inviting men every term.

“But the usual response we get is that there are certain issues and topics that women would not feel comfortable discussing around men,” she said.

Convertini said she does not object to bringing men into the discussion but that doing so would significantly alter the event’s character. While women interact with men in their everyday lives, the Proud to be a Woman dinner is an opportunity for them to have time to themselves, she said.

Lecture discusses world language preservation

Mark Turin, director of the World Oral Literature project, addressed preserving the world's disappearing languages.

At least half of the world’s nearly 6,000 languages are losing speakers and dominant languages may replace 90 percent of languages by the end of the 21st century, Mark Turin, director of the Digital Himalaya project and the World Oral Literature project, said in a lecture Wednesday night.

Drawing on decades of his fieldwork in Nepal and the Himalayan mountain range, Turin outlined the challenges faced by small-scale communities whose languages are at risk of disappearing and the potential that digital media has to preserve them.

Turin stressed the importance of language diversity in his lecture. The marginalization of smaller languages represents the drama and paradox of globalization.

“The very processes that are eroding diversity are the same forces bringing more people together,” he said.

Turin described his extensive efforts to document and convert a Nepalese oral language, Thangmi, into a written one, complete with a text and a preliminary dictionary. Thangmi, like other local Nepalese languages, has elements that reflect the geography of the Himalayan region.

“There are four different words for come’ and four different words for go,’ all depending on the angle of inclination and elevation,” he said.

Turin stressed the symbolic and political importance that a written language can hold for a community. Without a written language, the impoverished Nepalese community that Turin worked with found life and education more difficult.

“Until that point, books, script and text had been kept away from this language, effectively marginalizing these people,” he said. “There is a powerful association between a language and its script.”

There is a great need for language diversity preservation, Turin said. Approximately 97 percent of the world’s population speak about 4 percent of the world’s languages, while 3 percent of the global community speak 96 percent of the world’s languages.

Through his involvement in the Digital Himalaya and the World Oral Literature projects, which he also directs, Turin attempts to preserve cultural heritage through language.

Digital Himalaya, based out of the University of Cambridge and Yale University, was designed to archive and make available ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region.

Its digitizes anthropological materials, like sound recordings and photographs, and provide them to researchers and Nepalese community members.

The World Oral Literature project is an initiative to document endangered oral literatures before they disappear without record.

Anthropology professor Sienna Craig has collaborated with Turin in the past, and invited him to campus to discuss his interdisciplinary work.

“We don’t have a lot of opportunities to bring our departments together,” she said, referring to the linguistics and anthropology departments.

Students who attended the lecture found it informative and thought-provoking.

Alexandra di Suvero ’16 said she is interested in linguistics and attended because she was curious about the subject.

Brett Teplitz ’15, who is enrolled in a Native American Studies class on oral traditional literature, said he found the lecture enhanced his perspective.

Turin enjoyed speaking at the College and connecting with the audience members.

“There was a level of nuance and understanding to the questions that were asked that goes beyond the normal undergraduate level,” he said.

The event, titled, “Collect, Protect, Connect: Documenting the Voices of Vanishing Worlds,” was co-sponsored the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, the linguistic and cognitive sciences department and the Asian and Middle Eastern studies program.

Barlow talks global water shortages

As floral stores gear up for the Valentine’s Day rush, Lake Naivasha in Kenya is drying up due to a growing global demand for flowers. By 2030, the demand for water will exceed available supply by 40 percent, Canadian water rights activist and bestselling author Maude Barlow said in a lecture Wednesday afternoon.

Barlow, who has been called “the Al Gore of water,” outlined major concerns and conflicts surrounding the global water supply and argued for the public’s right to access the resource. Some areas of the world are already in short supply.

“Is water a commodity to be put on the open for sale, or is water a public trust, a given right and a part of our common heritage?” Barlow said.

Water industry privatization has led to its misuse and destruction. Last year alone, over 250 billion liters of bottled water were produced by the $100 billion industry, resulting in enough bottles to stretch to the moon and back 65 times, Barlow said. In addition to bottling companies, some countries, including Chile, have begun to privatize their water supply, allowing mining companies to bid against local businesses for underground water.

Barlow emphasized that water shortages not only pose a threat to the Global South, but also to the United States and the developed world as well. Water shortages threaten 36 U.S. states, with the Southwest most at risk. The agriculture industry is the largest consumer of water, and current farming techniques are likely to become unsustainable in the near future due to the decreasing supply and growing cost of water, she said.

As chairperson of the board of Food and Water Watch, an organization that promotes access to water, Barlow has worked to implement legislation protecting fair and sustainable use of the resource.

“We need to fight for not just the knowledge, but for certain fundamental principles,” Barlow said. “We need to build policy based on these principles.”

Barlow outlined three guiding principles for combatting the water shortage. First, she argued that the global community must declare water as a part of the world’s common heritage and have it a public trust. Water should be publicly owned and made available for communal use, Barlow said.

“I argue strongly that we cannot allow the private sector to decide who has access to water and who does not, because companies are only looking for profit,” she said.

She said that nature has rights, and consumers should not consider water a resource that exists solely for human use.

Water has intrinsic value and plays a vital role in numerous ecosystems, she said.

Access to water is a fundamental right, and an adequate supply should be guaranteed to all people, Barlow said. Major food and utilities companies, the World Bank, the U.S., Canada, Britain and several other western nations have all argued against this right, she said.

Water cannot continue to be used at its current rate. Considering that the effects of the current water shortage are already apparent and constitute the first phase of the global climate crisis, Barlow said she was dismayed that the candidates did not discuss the water shortage in the November presidential election.

“Someone tough needs to come along and start the water dialogue in this country,” Barlow said. “My hope is that this will happen before you turn on your tap and water doesn’t come out,” Barlow said.

The lecture was well attended by Dartmouth students, faculty and community members.

Felicia Jia ’16 said she thought that the lecture was very informative and was motivated by Barlow’s passion and emotional connection to the issue.

Leehi Yona ’16 said she was inspired to meet someone optimistic about the crisis. There are a number of steps the College could take to reduce its impact on the water shortage.

“Dartmouth should take a more proactive role in its water usage,” Yona said.

The lecture, titled “The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water,” was hosted by the Global Health Initiative at the Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Dartmouth to affiliate with WRC

The College has approved a proposal to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent organization that monitors labor rights practices of factories that make university-related apparel. The College will have a dual affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium and Fair Labor Association, another labor-monitoring organization that Dartmouth joined in 2001.

The Dartmouth’s Worker Rights Consortium Committee a group of students and representatives from the President’s Offic that was formed last fall recommended that the College join the Worker Rights Consortium in a final report on Nov. 7, committee member Allison Puglisi ’15 said. Dartmouth has started its application process and will officially join the Worker Rights Consortium in the next few weeks, said the College’s general counsel Robert Donin, who heads the office responsible for responding to information from the Fair Labor Association and Worker Rights Consortium.

“The committee studied both organizations and compared the membership structure, the governance structure and the types of monitoring activities conducted by the two organizations and felt that the two organizations were sufficiently different in their approaches so that membership in the WRC would provide additional benefit to Dartmouth,” Donin said.

The consortium, founded in 2000 by Scott Nova ’87, is composed of over 175 university affiliates.

While the association’s membership includes manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, colleges and universities, the consortium consists of only higher education institutions.

The two organizations take different approaches to monitoring labor rights.

The association conducts proactive factory audits and walkthroughs, which are sometimes unannounced, while the consortium responds to specific grievances and complaints submitted by workers at the various factories, Donin said.

The association is a corporate collaboration, often funded by the corporations that they are monitoring, said Janet Kim ’13, another committee member.

“We saw that as a conflict of interest, especially if the monitoring is internal,” she said.

In contrast, the consortium serves a watchdog role outside of the industry, receiving funding from foundations, colleges and universities but not from the companies it monitors. The consortium was founded to address what Nova viewed as an incomplete approach to labor rights monitoring by the association.

In its research, the committee found that the organizations’ various approaches to monitoring to different reports and recommendations.

For example, the committee looked at a case study of the sudden closing of Jerzees de Honduras, a factory that produced athletic apparel for Russell Athletic, Puglisi said. Both the association and consortium investigated whether the factory’s closing was connected to workers’ efforts to join a union four days prior.

The organizations diverged in their investigation techniques and recommendations, Kim said.

The association outsourced its monitoring and reported that the factory’s closing was not connected in any way to the workers’ attempt to unionize and was instead due to a decrease in demand for the apparel. After its methodology was protested, the association completed a new report, which found that the factory had actually closed due to worker activity.

“That was after the WRC had already found this evidence, so the WRC played a pivotal role in pushing FLA,” Kim said.

Nariah Broadus, director of outreach and project development in the President’s Office and a committee member, said that the consortium and the association’s different approaches complement each other well.

Every other member of the Ivy League, with the exception of Yale University, is already affiliated with both the association and the consortium.

“We are literally in this bubble, and students have been fighting on other campuses for decades,” Kim said.

The College did not join the consortium before because administrators felt satisfied with the information provided by the association, Donin said.

“We felt that we were well-served by the FLA and I think the FLA has done an excellent job for us,” he said.

Joining the consortium in addition to the association has no drawbacks, he said.

Dartmouth has never ended contracts with any companies due to reports by the assocation.

“In every case where the FLA has taken action against a company, the company has engaged and corrected action,” Donin said.

Dartmouth’s general council controls the College’s response to information provided by labor rights organizations, Pugilisi said.

Kim said she hopes that the new information will influence the College’s decision-making.

The association and the consortium have the same dues formula, with annual membership dues equivalent to 1 percent of the College’s licensing revenues for licensed products.

Kim believes that the College’s decision to join the consortium is a victory that will set a strong precedent for labor rights.

“I hope this continues and fosters student activism on campus with students being invested in how to enact change on campus and how the College is operating,” she said.

Kim hopes Dartmouth will next take part in the designated suppliers program, a procurement standard proposed by the consortium that is already supported by 45 universities.

Higher education institutions’ promotion of labor rights in the apparel industry can serve as a role model for the industry at large,” Kim said.

“I think it’s important that even as we are in the green bubble that we continue to keep our eyes open to the fact that the world is a little bit bigger than Hanover and that our shirts come from somewhere,” Puglisi said.

Obama moves to alter financial aid structure

Changes to federal student aid proposed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address on Tuesday would make universities’ access to federal loans dependent on the educational value of the institution, as determined by student outcomes and cost. If implemented, the plan could potentially impact the College’s access to federal aid.

Obama’s education agenda also included the announcement of an online comparison tool for prospective university students and a call for greater access to preschool.

Although he praised recent federal initiatives to lower the cost of college, Obama emphasized the need for colleges and universities to reduce their expenses.

“Taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education,” Obama said.

Value, affordability and student outcomes should be taken into account when determining which institutions have access to federal student aid, according to documents released by the White House. Federal loans in higher education must be allocated wisely to ensure a return on the investment.

The new initiative would require accrediting agencies to amend their evaluation systems to include measures of cost and institutional value. Alternatively, an entirely new accreditation system could review the performance of higher education models and colleges to determine federal aid allocation.

This overhaul would require reforming the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which established student and institutional federal aid programs in 1965 and was most recently amended in 2008. The federal government provides over $150 billion annually in direct student loans and grants.

Current federal aid to institutions comes in a variety of forms, including research grants, Pell Grants and an assortment of loans.

Past attempts to lower the cost of high education tended to focus on making loans more affordable to students but have ignored the rising university expenses, government professor Joseph Bafumi said.

The type of policy Obama mentioned in his address could force colleges to reexamine their budgets.

“It’s going to be an added challenge for administrators, who it seems will have to deal with more oversight,” he said.

Without specific details it is difficult to predict how the proposal could affect the College, financial aid director Virginia Hazen said.

Dartmouth’s commitment to meeting students’ full financial need could end up costing the College more money in the event that federal loans are reduced. The high price tag of a Dartmouth education could prompt closer federal scrutiny of the College, Bafumi said.

“It sounds like it would affect every college and university, but it might be the most notable ones and most expensive ones that will be looked at most closely,” he said.

Obama also announced the release of a “college scorecard,” an online tool that would allow students and families to compare colleges by cost and quality.

The financial aid office has been preparing a “financial aid shopping sheet” for the information contained on the scorecard, Hazen said.

The tool subtracts the grant aid students would receive from the College’s sticker price to present a more realistic cost assessment.

“The idea behind it is a good one because it requires transparency,” Hazen said.

Falling just below the “high” cost range, Dartmouth undergraduates pay an average net price of $20,814 per year and borrow $13,974 in federal loans over their course of study, earning a median borrowing rating of “Low,” according to the Dartmouth scorecard on the White House’s website.

The scorecard also lists that 95 percent of Dartmouth students graduate within six years and 1 percent of Dartmouth students default on federal loans within three years of beginning repayment, in comparison to a national average of 13.4 percent.

Obama began the education reform section of his address with a call to increase preschool access for low-income children.

This initiative, if successful, may impact the College, Bafumi said.

Although different research studies disagree on whether early schooling causes a measurable difference in student ability past a fourth grade level, improvements to public preschool in the U.S. could have long-term implications for how many students continue education after high school, Bafumi said.

“If education reform has a real positive impact, which is hard to know if it will, it’s possible that there will be more students applying to colleges like Dartmouth,” he said.

In his address, Obama also spoke about strengthening high school programs in technology, science and engineering in order to better prepare graduates for the workplace.

At the watch party on Tuesday, College Democrats president Mason Cole ’13 said he was glad to hear that Obama’s education agenda includes efforts to improve public high schools.

“I think a lot at Dartmouth a lot but not all of us are privileged to come from good high schools, but it’s not the situation for all students and definitely not the situation for America as a whole,” Cole said. “Empowering people to get the skills out of high school they need to get a job is very important, while also making college more affordable.”

Theater department takes on light-hearted fare ‘The Liar’

Most of us have seen the popular slapstick comedy “Liar Liar” (1997), starring Jim Carrey, about a man who never tells the truth. If you see “The Liar” this weekend, you’ll learn that this plot device is nothing new, as the theater department takes on David Ives’ humorous play for its latest stage production.

“The Liar,” adapted by Ives from the classic French comedy by Pierre Corneille, focuses on the exploits of Dorante, a charming and handsome man who has the unfortunate propensity to make outrageous falsehoods. One day, he meets two beautiful women named Clarice and Lucrece and takes a fancy to Clarice. Unfortunately for him, he thinks that Clarice’s name is Lucrece.

Hilarious confusion ensues when he returns home, he finds out that his father plans to have him wed to Clarice, which leads Dorante to fashion a series of outrageous lies in order to avoid marrying who he thinks to be the wrong woman.

While “The Liar” was selected by the theater department, director and theater professor Jamie Horton said he knew he wanted to put on a piece that would counter the fall’s production of “Angels in America,” known for its darker themes of life, love, death and identity.

“It was a very weighty, very marvelous play,” Horton said of “Angels.” “I knew it would be wonderful to find a comedy to do and when I found [The Liar,’] which was written a few years ago, I knew that this is what we were going to be doing.”

In addition to being a light-hearted farce, “The Liar” boasts an unusual structure; the dialogue is written and performed entirely in rhyming couplets. Horton, who is also an actor, understands that such an unusual condition presents a difficult test when being performed on stage.

“It’s a heightened language and you have to understand and have a very deft touch in how to use the rhyme while at the same time not letting the rhyme get in the way of your natural thought process while you are performing,” Horton said.

Although the production is an adaptation of an older French play, Ives did a magnificent job of making the dialogue sound contemporary, which is helpful for both actors and audience members alike, Horton said.

Max Samuels ’15, who plays Dorante’s butler, Cliton, said that the rhyming verses allowed him to memorize his lines better, but are still difficult to deliver naturally.

“My first lines in the play are Ladies and gentlemen, madames and monsieurs, all cell phones off, all cellophanes secure’ and I could always link monsieurs’ with secure’ and that is continuous throughout the play,” Samuels said. “But it’s also a real challenge to sound like we’re just talking and this stuff just happens to rhyme which is hard because it doesn’t sound natural.”

“The Liar” allowed Josh Feder ’08 to return to Dartmouth in to do what he loves most: choreograph.

After he graduated from the College, Feder, who serves as the play’s assistant director, moved to New York for several years and worked in various theater companies in the city.

For the last few summers, Feder has been working at the New London Barn Playhouse, where theater professor Carol Dunne leads as artistic director. The playhouse employs many Dartmouth alumni and it was there that Feder started making connections that would eventually bring him back to Dartmouth.

“For this winter, I was looking at a few different projects that had come onto my radar,” Feder said. I saw that [The Liar’] was going to be produced and I was also in negotiations to choreograph Anything Goes’ for the North County Community Theater in Lebanon. So the thought of coming back up to Hanover was very exciting for me.”

In addition to helping direct the play, Feder also choreographed the a capella scene transitions. Coming back to the College gave Feder the chance to work with Horton, one of his former professors.

The working relationship between the two exhibits itself well in the play, Horton said.

“It’s been really a fortuitous thing because the decisions we made in regard to what went into the play and its scenic transitions plays directly to Josh’s strengths,” Horton said. “His contributions have been really significant.”

“The Liar” premieres Friday at 8 p.m. at the Moore Theater in the Hopkins Center.

Glee Club branches out in ‘Candide’ comic operetta

This Friday and Saturday, the Dartmouth Glee Club will take the stage not only as singers, but complete opera performers. The Glee Club will be presenting a production of Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta “Candide,” complete with a full orchestra and choreography.

“Candide,” conducted by Glee Club director Louis Burkot and stage-directed by actor, musician and Broadway veteran David Beach ’86, is a fast-paced, ruckus of a comedy musical that uncovers the journey of its unwaveringly idealistic title character as he seeks ultimate satisfaction with the world. The performance is the Glee Club’s first production of such scale in recent memory.

Part of the challenge of the piece comes from Glee Club members stepping outside their usual roles. The Glee Club usually stands in place while singing; “Candide” offers a theatrical component that challenges the performers to move, act and express on stage. The difficulty of putting on “Candide” also comes from the music, known for its emotional highs and lows, interpreted by smart lyrics and inspiring scores.

“As a chorus, the bulk of what we do usually rests on the group as a whole, with the occasional sprinkling of soloist material,” said Glee Club co-president Evan Ross ’13, who plays the title role of the good-hearted but hopelessly oblivious young man. “But this time we really have to step up our game.”

Some students are also faced with taking on several roles at once during the performance.

“It would be easier if we were just focusing on our songs,” Nathaniel Graves ’13, who plays Candide’s rival Maximilian, said. “I’m switching in and out my principal role and some ensemble parts; we still have to produce in the ensemble, we have to know both.” In the role of Maximilian, Graves embodies the appealing yet stubborn man who tests Candide’s do-good nature.

Glee Club member Margaret Flanagan ’13 will wear many hats during the show, acting as the narrow-minded Baroness and helping backstage as the costume coordinator, bringing in her experience as a work-study milliner to the fore.

Fans of a capella groups might be surprised that this boisterous satire features an array of a capella parts perhaps some of the most beautiful songs in the show are performed without musical accompaniment, students involved said.

Fans of the Sing Dynasty will recognize Amber Dewey ’12, who plays Candide’s love interest Cunegonde, a beautiful young woman plagued by her devious ways. Her role includes “Glitter and Be Gay,” a vocally engaging aria early in the show.

Student artists said that “Candide” will be a culminating experience.

Dewey said she learned of the Glee Club soon after being accepted to the College.

“I was able to sit in on a Glee Club rehearsal and I went to all their events for Dimensions,” Dewey said. “It was a really great thing to have because Dartmouth is such a huge place when you don’t know anybody.”

The Glee Club is made up of about 60 high-level choral singers and has been led by Burkot since 1981. It’s known on campus for its diverse repertoire, spanning from a capella choral works to traditional College tunes.

Zana Thaqi ’13 said she first met the Glee Club at a performance in New York after she had submitted her Dartmouth application with an arts supplement. Thaqi said it was Burkot himself who had revealed that she had been accepted.

Though Thaqi began at Dartmouth as a soprano, she now sings as a mezzo-soprano, “which fits a lot better. It’s like learning a whole new instrument, like learning how to sing in a whole new way,” she said.

In addition to its student members, the Glee Club also includes a loyal band of alumni performers who will also participate in “Candide.”

“It’s awesome that Louis puts on shows with the Glee Club it’s not just a choral group,” Tyler Putnam ’09, a classical vocalist, said. “My most important job in the show is to connect scene A to scene B, because we jump around the world, we go from place to place, scene to scene, people die, people come back to life. I try to make that journey as quick and clear as possible. It’s a fun role.”

Stage director David Beach comes to the production with experience from studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and appearances in Broadway’s “Mamma Mia” and shows such as “The Sopranos” and “Rescue Me.”

Beach’s former instructor, Burkot, has always hit the ground running.

“From the day I came, in 1982, I was astonished with the type of student I would be working with,” Burkot said. “I immediately found myself wanting to take them to the highest levels I could.”

The Glee Club will perform “Candide” on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.

Coffey: Dear Reader

Too many students use the Dartmouth bubble as an excuse to fuel their own willful ignorance of politics and current events, both national and global.

On occasion we all let the gorgeous wilderness surrounding our campus lull us into a false sense of importance. Some of us succumb to the cocoon more than others, but we would all be doing ourselves a favor by looking over our immediate horizons and seeing what is occurring in the rest of the country and in the world. This is not an article lamenting the Dartmouth bubble; instead, it is an examination of why our campus culture lets the bubble harden into, as a friend of mine put it, a steel vault.

Many students consider the splendid isolation of Dartmouth’s campus a great boon to our community. While there are certainly advantages to a location as remote as ours, there are also disadvantages, namely the bubble that surrounds campus. While it is important to acknowledge that the Dartmouth bubble exists, it is equally important to acknowledge that too many students use the bubble as an excuse to fuel their own willful ignorance of politics and current events, both national and global. It is easier to blame cluelessness on isolation than on laziness.

I have experienced firsthand a general lack of attention to current events. In classes whose subject involves dynamic events, I have been surprised when students are unaware of relevant developments in the news. Following the news not only increases the caliber of classes, it is also a prerequisite of being a good citizen. I know I am preaching to the choir readers of The Dartmouth are generally well-informed, but this is a call for our entire community to be more informed about the state of the world.

Following the news does not have to be everyone’s top priority, but it is hardly too much to ask of people to get their news more often than whenever they walk into King Arthur Cafe and glance up at the two opposing television monitors. If the writers of The Mirror’s “Overheards” section spent more time hovering in line at KAF, they might get the impression that more than a few students did not know that France has sent troops into Mali or that North Korea recently conducted its third nuclear test.

It is not difficult to access the news in today’s day and age. There are stacks of The New York Times conscientiously placed around campus at the most convenient locations. And if paper is too clumsy, there is always the online version, not to mention the iPhone application. With everything from the free subscriptions in the Periodicals Room to National Public Radio’s live-streaming website, there is no excuse to be uninformed.

While the splendid isolation of old-time Hanover found in black and white photographs has been preserved, accessing the wide world has never been easier. Dartmouth students are in a position to have their cake and eat it too the 1950s when you want it and the Internet when you do not. So why does there seem to be such apathy toward current events? The only requirements of following the news are initiative and interest. If ignorance prevails, it does so at the cost of one of those requirements.

The fact is that remaining willfully ignorant is easier than accepting responsibility. Who can blame students? Life at Dartmouth goes on and there are plenty of interesting distractions to fill free time. Like it or not, our insulated environment provides a debilitating comfort. But our community must make the effort to stay informed.

Michael Moore makes a similar point in his documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11″ (2004). He concludes the film with a clip of former President George W. Bush fumbling over the expression, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” rhetorically asking the audience how many scandals, cover-ups and conspiracies will it take before people wake up? Evidently the problem goes deeper than just Dartmouth. The Dartmouth community is not necessarily letting the wool be pulled over its eyes, but our campus is home to some of the most sophisticated, well-educated and well-informed members of society, yet ignorance still pervades.

We need a larger wake-up call. There is no excuse for the lack of awareness of current events that many students bemoan. We can no longer blame it on the bubble; it is time to take responsibility.

Miller: The Online Scourge

Many Dartmouth courses post homework, reading, general coursework and other material online. However, Dartmouth, which is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as first in the country for undergraduate teaching, should not be drawn into the trap of thinking that anything but a professor can be a professor. While online class sites do have the virtue of convenience, the myriad of drawbacks to online work outweighs this virtue.

Many Dartmouth students who have taken a math course may be familiar with the program Webwork, an online homework submission site. But who really benefits from a program like Webwork? The students or faculty? In middle school and early high school, before homework started to shift to an online format, I turned in a physical copy of written work, had my teacher look over my answers and was given personal, written feedback. That written feedback, along with dialogue between student and teacher, is something a computerized program will never be able to replace.

Proponents of online programs such as Webwork often laud that the feedback is instant. Perhaps it is here that the divergence of opinions is most acute. If by feedback you mean “Your answer is incorrect” or some nebulous notational jargon such as “X is not accepted in this context,” then yes, online programs give us “instant feedback.” But to the frustrated student, sitting at a computer at 11 p.m., who has tried a problem seven or eight times, having a computer say “your answer is incorrect” is neither instructive nor helpful feedback.

Perhaps the greatest transgressor in this online homework sham comes not in the form of math Webwork, but online language programs such as McGraw-Hill’s Connect, another web-based assignment platform. Often I have found that the majority of time spent using Connect is in trying to get the computer to accept answers which are “wrong” in the most minute way. I believe in a high standard and in doing things right, but when you spend 45 minutes trying to answer a question, only to find that a word was not capitalized or a period was missing, I fail to see the educational benefit in such a time-consuming and frustrating experience. Have I learned more about Spanish or have I just squandered all of my study time dealing with computer program minutia? After having the privilege of paying the princely sum of $225 for my soft cover, binding-so-shoddy-it-fell-apart-after-three-weeks-of-use McGraw-Hill textbook, I not only had to deal with the overly-persnickety computer program, but also other endless glitches of the online program. My personal account on Connect has numerous glitches that often prevent me from seeing and answering an entire question. I have never had this kind of experience with paper copies of worksheets. I have contacted McGraw-Hill’s customer service several times since November and I am still waiting to hear back. If their timing is just right, perhaps they will get back to me just as I need to buy more books from them in the fall.

I felt somewhat amused when I recently took a survey in my Spanish class that asked my opinion on using solely an online textbook in the future. I could not help but ask myself, if I were to have online textbooks, would the cost of my books be reduced? A perusal of online textbooks and services reveals that this is not the case. I think it is obvious that using an online book liberates the publisher from actually printing and distributing material, a significant benefit in terms of production costs. But are these benefits passed onto students? No, the students pay the same price (or very nearly the same price) simply for the right to download a file. While I respect intellectual copyright laws and believe that students should pay for their downloads, a PDF file and a physical textbook are two very different products, which should have very different prices.

So whether it is for textbooks or assignments, I would challenge students to question the proliferation of online programs. Am I really benefitting from these programs or is my professor benefitting by no longer having to do his or her job of providing me with real, personal and constructive feedback?