December 21, 2009

Mads Countdown: Biggest Stories '09

As 2009 comes to a close, madsvassarblog.com counts down the top thirteen stories to hit Vassar this year.

13. Vassar alumni head to Washington.
Over the course of the year, Obama nominated several Vassar alumnae and alumni for various positions. First, he nominated Nancy Killefer '75 for Chief Performance Officer, although she ended up withdrawing due to tax issues. Next, Obama added Shelly O'Neill Stoneman' 99 to his legislative affairs team. In August, Obama nominated Jeffrey Goldstein '77 for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance. Finally, in November, the president nominated Laua Kennedy '73 for US Ambassador for the Conference on Disarmament.

12. Controversial mini-course gets cut.
In the Spring, some students organized a mini-course called "The Language of Ladies," which aimed to "take a critical look at dating across lingual/cultural barriers." After only a few sessions, Campus Activities cancelled the course after students complained that the course was sexist and racist. Strong House, Poder Latino and the Asians Students' Alliance all spoke out against the course, and even the blogosphere picked up on the controversy.

11. Campus groper increases number of security alerts, but gets caught.
While Fall 2008 ended with students being robbed at gunpoint, Fall 2009 experienced a rise in campus security advisories. "While unusual, it is a reminder that we are living in a world that isn’t always safe," Don Marsala wrote in an all-campus email. After several instances in which female students were groped, police arrested twenty-two-year-old Andrew Zambrano last week. Zambrano admitted to groping students and has been charged with ten counts of forcible touching.

10. Library extends hours after campus complains.
In September, we broke the story that the library would be closing at midnight on weekdays instead of 1:30am. In an exclusive interview with Dean Kitzinger, she called the hours reduction "an immediate reaction" to a "complex staffing negotiation." After students responded, complained, and petitioned, the library found the necessary staffing and returned to its normal hours of operation.

9. The Misc ditches its backpage.
The Miscellany News lost readers this semester when it decided to cut the beloved "Backpage" feature. After we broke the story, former Misc editors and "Backpage" writers came out with statements, a Facebook protest group, and a letter-writing campaign. One former editor called the paper "a shrouded mouthpiece for student government and the administration." Even Cappy
said she was "sad to see it go."


8. ViCE goes hip-hop.If Spring '09 was the semester of hipster bands (Beirut, Gang Gang Dance, Deerhunter, !!!), this Fall has definitely been all about hip hop acts. ViCE brought the well-known duo Clipse in September to a packed audience on Ballantine Field. Months later, Ninjasonik performed to the sweatiest (and sluttiest) crowd in the Villard Room since Girl Talk.

7. Rowing team, Atrium, and Baldwin hours get cut.
Unfortunately, 2009 was the year of the cutbacks. This semester, Baldwin reduced its operating hours and the Atrium was cut entirely. In November, the athletics department announced that the varsity rowing teams would be cut. Current and former rowers responded with statements on this blog and emails to administration. Rowers then organized an "ergathon" to raise $15,000.

6. Vassar reacts to shooting at Wesleyan.
The shooting of Wesleyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich hit close to home for Vassar students, proving to us that tragedy can happen even within the bubble of a liberal arts school. The Vassar Jewish Union responded to the gunman's threats against Wesleyan's Jewish community. Dean Roellke also responded to the tragedy.

5. Students challenged at polls.
Election day this November caused stress for many students when Republicans had an injunction passed stating that prevented students who changed dorms from being able to vote. The day saw ups and downs as the injunction was overturned, despite the fact that many students had already been turned down. Students also claimed to face intimidation and harassment, one case of which was captured on video.

Vassar had a personal connection to the eleciton, as librarian Gretchen Lieb ran for County Legislature and several students worked on her campaign.

Cappy wrote to the Poughkeepsie Journal about the controversy, stating, "I would ask election officials for the opportunity to work together to resolve the obstacles for future elections that made it difficult for students to vote."

4. Davison reopens with new look.
After being closed for a year, Davison reopened in August with a brand new look. Mads monitored the building's progress as it was completed.

3. Precautions taken to avoid Swine Flu.
As the threat of swine flu became real, ACDC and the Retreat took measures to prevent the spread of illness by temporarily eliminating self-serve options. Although campus dining eventually returned to normal, B&G installed hundreds of hand-sanitizers around campus. In the Fall, Baldwin made ill students isolate themselves and wear surgical masks, while Res Life set up isolation rooms for sick students to temporarily move in to.

2. Beirut reunites at Vassar for performance with students.Beirut returned to the music scene in January with a new album and a performance at Vassar. The group hung out for the whole weekend, went to parties in the SoCos and THs, and gave a transcendent performance in the Vassar Chapel. On top of that, they invited students to perform with them not only at Vassar, but also at BAM and on Late Night with Dave Letterman.

1. Administration cuts employees, prompting community protest.
In the biggest story of 2009, administration announced the firing of thirteen employees. In response, students, employees, and other community members united in protest on multiple occasions. A protest group called the Campus Solidarity Working Group emerged, which marched through campus with banners and megaphones, released videos, and held a sing-in. A second protest group called Uppity held two hunger strikes and faculty members got involved by circulating a petition. Even folk icon Pete Seeger spoke out against the employee firings.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment! And just for fun, click here to relive 2008's top moments.
12.21.09 5:30pm

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