President Bill Clinton provides perspective on U.S. and global challenges
As former President Bill Clinton began speaking to a crowd of 5,000 at Colgate on Oct. 29, he explained that he would be talking about “all these apparently disparate things that are going on in the world” through a framework outlined by three clusters of problems: inequality, instability, and unsustainability.

(photo by Andrew Daddio)

    “One of the things I picked up [on while] traveling around America, is how hard it is for people — especially if they’re having a hard time paying their bills and staying in their homes and holding onto their jobs and educating their children — to make sense of all the things that are happening,” he said. Relating the problems in America to what’s happening on the global stage, Clinton spoke of what he’s gleaned through his international travels in working with his nongovernmental organization. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), whose members have made 1,700 commitments valued at $57 billion, has already affected more than 220 million people in 170 countries. “One thing I’ve learned is that intelligence and effort are evenly distributed, but structure and opportunities are not,” Clinton said.
    From longtime poverty and devastation in Haiti to drug wars in Mexico to the financial crisis in the United States, Clinton explained how each country’s problems affect us all because of our interdependence. “We can’t get away from each other and we can’t escape the consequences of our actions on others, around the corner or around the world.”
    Discussing climate change and CGI’s environmental work, Clinton said improved sustainability efforts are one solution for improving the economic situation. “It’s the number one thing we can do to modernize the economy, to bring back manufacturing, to increase the employment base, to rebuild the middle class in America, and I have some evidence to support that,” he said, greeted by applause.
    Following Clinton’s talk, Colgate President Jeffrey Herbst presented him with questions submitted by students. Kendall Dolbec ’11 asked what career advice Clinton had for Colgate’s graduating class, given the current global economy. “Start by asking yourself, ‘What could I do that would make me happiest and make me feel most fulfilled and make me feel most useful?’” Clinton said. “Then I would say, ‘Can I do that now?’ If the answer is no because of the economic circumstances, then I would find something I could do that was useful and that I’d learn something from for a couple of years.” Adding that students shouldn’t make a long-term decision based on the country’s economic standing, he said, “You’ve got to believe your country’s coming back — I do. You never bet against America.”
    The event in Sanford Field House was part of The Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate, sponsored by the Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund.

Service in memory of Kevin Williams ’10
An emotional service was held Dec. 6 in Memorial Chapel in memory of Kevin Williams ’10, who died October 4 after a yearlong battle with an inoperable brain tumor. The service, filled with moving songs and stories and pictures of the 22-year-old, was open to everyone who had been touched by his short life. Williams’s family was present, as well as his fiancée, Kathlin Ramsdell ’10, and her family.

Kevin Williams ’10
    Williams had been battling the tumor with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, staying in Stanford, Calif., with his family.
    While at Colgate, Williams majored in geology and geography. He was captain of the water polo team, raced on the ski team, and participated as a summer fellow at the Upstate Institute, working on land-use issues in Cazenovia. He also enjoyed knee-board surfing and volleyball.
    Geology professor Amy Leventer described Williams as seeming “to have been born on the sunny side of life,” remarking on his “curiosity, knack for asking the right question, and for encouraging great discussions.”
    Ellen Kraly, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of geography and director of the Upstate Institute, noted his “quiet presence, wicked humor, poise, and professionalism.”
    Six fellow members of the water polo team went up on the Chapel stage to show support for their teammate. Chip Molten ’12 and Mike Schon ’12 both spoke about how Williams was one of the first people to reach out to them before even coming to Colgate. Molten said that Williams was the person who most helped him during a difficult first year at Colgate, and Schon echoed a phrase Williams often repeated: “Enjoy life and live it to the fullest.”
    The Williams family launched a blog at kickingkevinscancer. to keep his friends updated throughout the treatment process, and his friends from home created a Facebook group as an outlet for words of encouragement. Last April, members of the Class of 2010 hosted a Trivia Night at Donovan’s Pub and raised money toward his medical bills.
    During the service, Williams’s father, Rich Williams, shared how one of his son’s last wishes was to come back to Colgate. Since that was not possible, the family has established a memorial fund within the geography and geology departments to keep Williams “here at Colgate forever.”

— Elizabeth Stein ’12

‘Rap troubadour’ drops his take on evolution
Waving peace signs in the air and repeating choruses of “I’m ‘A’ African,” students and professors hardly looked like they were gathered in Love Auditorium to learn anything. Yet they were treated to a unique and original lesson in evolutionary biology — in rap format. Baba Brinkman, a “rap troubadour” from Vancouver, Canada, brought his award-winning performance to campus on Dec. 1.

Rapper Baba Brinkman (photo by Janna Minehart ’13)

    Without a doubt, he proved that it is possible to drop a beat while explaining Darwinism. Brinkman originally composed the rap at the request of a committee honoring Darwin’s bicentennial in 2009, after the chairperson heard his rap of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He researched evolution and then submitted his lyrics to a handful of scientists to ensure their factual correctness — so, as he noted, it’s the first ever peer-reviewed rap. Reworking classics by the Notorious B.I.G. and Dead Prez, among others, Brinkman deftly presented heavy and complicated information in a fun and engaging format. His rhymes explained, for example, how all human life came from Africa — at one point in history, the species was concentrated there. Hence, as he noted, everyone in the audience could proudly shout, “I’m ‘A’ African.”
    Geology professor Constance Soja helped bring Brinkman to campus, having seen his performance while leading the Australia Study Group in spring 2010. “It’s unconventional, and that’s the goal,” she said. “[It’s] science, even though he’s not a scientist … it’s rap, so it’s music, it’s performance, it’s social commentary. I just thought, this is so unique and innovative.”
    Indeed, Brinkman managed to apply the abstract scientific concept of evolution to modern social issues, such as teenage pregnancy in violent inner-city neighborhoods. Because life expectancy is lower there, in theory, the biological need to pass on genes manifests itself earlier — leading to higher levels of pregnant minors. Soja liked that Brinkman made the connection between evolution and our world today, and hoped that students left the performance with a new perspective on Darwin’s theories.
    “Darwin and evolution speak across the ages; evolution relates to everyone,” she said. “It’s got a bad rap — pun intended — but I think he explains that it doesn’t have to be frightening, that it’s something we can embrace in any society.”
— Kate Hicks ’11

Village Green

ArtsPower presented the musical The Rainbow Fish, based on Marcus Pfister’s children’s book, at the Palace Theater. The sold-out performance was part of Act Now — Educate Forever, a program that invites schools and the public to a live theater production that gives teachers and parents teaching material to meet the New York State Learning Standards. The curriculum connections touched on such themes as family relationships, values, history, and communication skills.

(photo by Phil Lanoue)

    Stretching the parameters of acoustic swing, Caravan of Thieves performed their unique brand of gypsy-flavored songs at the Barge Canal Coffee Co. on Dec. 4. Much dancing, stomping, singing, and laughter was reported at the cozy coffee shop. The show ended with an acoustic version of the new Caravan song “Raise the Dead,” with the audience on their feet, clapping to the beat.
    Leslie Yacavone, owner of The Peppermill kitchenware store, led cooking
classes for A Holiday Meal to Remember, held at Bridle Creek Bed & Breakfast in December. The menu, created by Yacavone, included mini Stilton cheesecakes, haricot verts with warm bacon vinaigrette, pork medallions with pomegranate cherry/merlot sauce, and chocolate mint truffle torte.
    The Colgate Bookstore’s Jane Austen Book Club hosted an author event and discussion followed by a full English-style tea at the Colgate Inn. David M. Shapard, editor of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice and The Annotated Persuasion spoke and answered questions about the process of annotating Austen’s works. He then led a group discussion about Persuasion and signed copies of his own books. Afterward, the group assembled for afternoon tea in a private room at the Colgate Inn.
    Families gathered at Heritage Farm for Breakfast with Santa Claus, a holiday pancake feast followed by a photo opportunity with Old Saint Nick in the poinsettia-filled greenhouse.

FOX News contributor offers views on 2010 election
In late October, just before the 2010 voting, FOX News contributor, Washington Examiner columnist, and author Michael Barone shared historical perspective on elections and the current U.S. political climate. The event was sponsored by the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization; Institute for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; College Republicans; and College Democrats.
    Barone, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, cast America’s recent political past in martial terms. Since 1960, he said, the country has alternated between periods of “trench warfare” and “open field” politics, the former characterized by stable electorates and predictable outcomes, the latter by volatile issues and unpredictable voter behavior. After shifts in the early ’80s and ’90s, and again in 2005, he said the country has entered a period of open field conflict over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the environment, the economy, and big government. Questions about government’s function and proportion stretch back to the beginning of the republic, but in the 20th century, “progressives and New Dealers wanted to encourage a culture of dependence,” he said.
    “Progressive rhetoric,” Barone continued, no longer holds its own against the bedrock principles of the nation’s founders. He predicted that proof would come in a wave of Republican victories at all levels of government — federal, state, and local.
    Undergraduates on both ends of the political spectrum had a chance to engage with Barone. Max Weiss ’11 and Andrew Philipson ’14 represented the College Democrats, while Alexandra Nieto ’12 and Kate Hicks ’11 served as the voice of the College Republicans.
    Weiss, Philipson, and Barone sparred briefly over “Obamacare” and the Troubled Asset Relief Program; debated whether Republican enthusiasm around the 2008 presidential elections was underreported or simply nonexistent; and exchanged words over the question of biased reporting at FOX News.
    The College Republicans had Barone looking forward: would a new Republican majority be able to roll back the welfare state? In Barone’s estimation, the public will back reductions in government if that government is perceived to be cumbersome, but Congress will have to find ways around a presidential veto if it wants to take action, he said. When will the nation retreat from the open field and return to a period of trench warfare? “I will tell you the answer to that question about two or three years after it happens,” he quipped.

On Cosmopolitanism
Speaking to a packed house at Memorial Chapel, Kwame Anthony Appiah charged his audience with but one task: see one foreign, subtitled film per month. After all, he pointed out, others around the world must do this any time they wish to see popular American movies. Such was the theme of the philosopher’s October 4 lecture, based on his book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, the summer reading assignment for the incoming Class of 2014.

Kwame Anthony Appiah visited campus to speak about his book Cosmopolitanism, the summer reading assignment for first-years. (photo by Janna Minehart ’13)

    Appiah first discussed the etymology of the term cosmopolitan, explaining that it comes from the word cosmos, or world, and politan, the word used in ancient Greece to refer to a citizen of a city. The concept, he said, is that we are all citizens of the world.
    Appiah spoke of the importance of respecting the right of each individual to live his or her life by his or her chosen ideals.
    “Reading his book and hearing him speak were very different experiences,” said Kara Brounstein ’14. “I thought that he did a good job in eloquently summing up the main tenets of his book while also expanding on his ideas and exploring new topics.”
    Appiah, a Princeton philosophy professor, spoke of the need for increased respect and responsibility for others in light of increased globalization, thanks in large part to the Internet.
    This idea especially resonated with Brounstein. “The cosmopolitan mindset is one that is almost inherent to us,” she said, stressing “the importance of being an individual and having our own ideas, but also being conscious of the influences that shape us, as well as respectful of other individuals in different cultures.”
    Peter McEnaney ’14 thought the lecture was especially relevant for first-years, who are new to Colgate’s broad range of opportunities to enjoy and people to meet. “As human beings — and more specifically, as Colgate students — it is our duty to challenge ourselves through interaction with people different from us,” he said. “We can learn from them; they can learn from us.”
— Kate Hicks ’11

The medicalization of desire
When documentarian Liz Canner came to campus in the fall to screen her new film Orgasm Inc., it was a flashback for Professor Meika Loe, whose Women, Health, Medicine class from six years ago is shown in the movie. Loe’s current students in Gender, Sexuality, and Society got the chance to watch the former students discuss the pharmaceutical industry’s ongoing search for the female Viagra and learn about the medicalization of women’s sexuality.

Colgate students appear in a scene of this new documentary. (Liz Canner)

    Using a humorous slant, Canner gives viewers a look inside the medical industry and the marketing campaigns that she asserts are reshaping our everyday lives around health, illness, and desire. Through the course of filming the documentary, she began to suspect that a cadre of medical companies might be trying to take advantage of women — potentially endangering their health — in pursuit of billion-dollar profits.
    Loe and Canner met through their involvement in the activism around the FDA hearings for female Viagra. Loe had just released her book The Rise of Viagra, and she invited Canner to campus to observe her class. In Orgasm Inc., Colgate students are shown talking about the pharmaceutical industry’s research into women’s sexual problems and the larger issues that might actually contribute to those problems, such as the lack of sex education in America.
    The film served as an eye opener for students — and community members — who attended the screening of Orgasm Inc. in Love Auditorium. “The students experienced a dramatic paradigm shift in watching the film and talking with the filmmaker in thinking about how pharmaceutical marketing not only shapes our needs and desires, but also creates a sense of normal — normal womanhood, normal sexuality,” Loe explained. “This generation has grown up with pharmaceutical advertising and really takes it for granted.”
    “The documentary is a real wake-up call about the role pharmaceutical companies, the medical world, and media play in issues that are supposed to be of a personal nature,” said Brittani DiMare ’12.
    “It’s scary that the sexual identity and body image of so many women are defined by media outlets or the agenda of large corporations,” said Christina Liu ’13.
    After the screening, Canner spent an hour answering questions from the large audience. She was as impressed with Colgate students as they were with her. Following her visit, she sent a letter to the university saying that, of all the campuses she’s visited on her tour, Colgate has “the most vibrant and active women’s studies department and women’s center with the most student engagement.”
    For Loe, that was a huge compliment to the department’s mission. Additionally, the movie’s release gave Loe the chance to reconnect with former students, whom she contacted to tell them that they are on the big screen. “It was fascinating to see where they all are in their lives,” she said.

Talking points

(photo by Janna Minehart ’13)

“One of the saddest things … is to see the forest being cut down… When you see the trucks carrying away the big trunks of trees as though they’re carrying away the souls of people.”
— V.S. Naipaul at his talk during Colgate’s fall 2010 Living Writers series

“By appointing a special negotiator to the Middle East on day two of his administration, [President] Obama manifested an understanding of the problems of this region and laid the groundwork to the significance of the process.”
— Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt, on the U.S. role in the Middle East peace process

“War isn’t over, but it’s changing.”
— Scott Straus, an expert on genocide, human rights, and African politics, discussing the varied landscape of violence in Africa during the second annual Schaehrer Memorial Lecture

“Hazte valer.”
— Patti Solis Doyle, a Latin American political operative who worked on the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, repeated this Spanish phrase that roughly translates to “make yourself valuable” when she came to campus and encouraged students to become agents of change

Go figure
Let’s get physical

With the new Trudy Fitness Center about to open, the Scene got the skinny on the Colgate community’s physical fitness last semester.*

312 students worked out every week day (Mon.–Thurs.)

202 students worked out every weekend day (Fri.–Sun.)

47 faculty/staff worked out each week day; 24 each weekend day

32 community members worked out each week day; 19 each weekend day

14,646.5 lbs of total weights in the Wm. Brian Little Fitness Center

4 murals of athletes lifting weights

16 elliptical machines

14 treadmills

224–320 oz of sanitizer sprayed on the equipment each week

* numbers were averaged and collected at press time