A recap of last night’s State of Brown address

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Last night, the third annual State of Brown address was co-hosted by UCS and President Christina Paxson, P’19. The event began with UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15 delivering a summary of projects undertaken by UCS this year. Paxson followed with a speech on her own major concerns for the university, noting that she could not give “a comprehensive list of everything that happened this year — it’s a lot, you know that — and the issues we’ve been dealing with aren’t just at Brown, they’re everywhere.” Much of the Q&A section of the event focused on the topics that have been of great concern to the student body and administration this year, including mental health resources, changing the university’s sexual assault and harassment policies, and diversity issues. 

What does UCS do?

Srinivasan began by noting that many students might wonder the above from time to time and she appreciated having State of Brown to clarify their role.

A major goal for UCS this year was to increase support for student advocacy, allowing student activists to either voice concerns to the administration through UCS or push for conversations where they could express themselves directly. To this end, they worked with the Student Labor Alliance regarding the protests for rights of university mailroom workers earlier this year, and they worked with students from the Imagine Rape 0 protests on communicating with the administration.

This year UCS has launched several important online initiatives; wtf*brown (beloved here at Blog) allows students to post and vote on suggestions for the university, and more recently their Textbook Exchange has created an online platform to buy and sell used textbooks, tagged by the class they are for.

UCS has also worked with ResLife to abolish the suite fee for all students; while this year the fee was decreased, they hope to see it gone in the coming years.

The future of Brown academics

President Paxson noted that State of Brown allowed her to answer the question “Where is Brown going?” for the student body, half of which had not matriculated when her Strategic Plan was released two years ago. To that end, she started with a briefing on some of the points of progress on said plan. Her desire is to move Brown’s open curriculum into the 21st century, using technology to embrace the unique cross-departmental education initiatives that Brown offers. An Engaged Scholars Program piloted this year in which students to engage with five departments, and integrate off-campus work into their education. Paxson also expressed desire to “blast away” large lecture classes, envisioning a Brown which uses technology to ensure that the university only offers small, intimate courses.

Diversity in Brown faculty

Paxson stated that the lack of diversity in our faculty posed a major problem for the university. Currently, only about 8.5% of Brown faculty is of unrepresented minorities, which Paxson acknowledged “just doesn’t reflect our student population.” Paxson stated she wanted to double this number in the next ten years; although 16% still sounds low, “it’s going to take a lot of work to do it.” The university has also started a diversity post-doc program, and will be making an effort to focus more on doctoral education in the next few years.

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Meet the (potential) pre-frosh

Armed at Meehan Auditorium with nothing but a dry erase board and a bunch of awesome stickers, BlogDH pestered a bunch of accepted students on what they thought was the best thing about Brown. Some of the answers were sincere and anticipated, while others were strange and exciting. Not everyone we spoke with had decided on which school to attend, and a couple of them thought blogging was dumb and refused to engage with us.

After many hours on the hockey rink, (i.e. 90 minutes), here are a few of our favorites. Check out the complete collection here!

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Does money talk in the Brown admissions office?

A Gawker exposé published Tuesday quoted leaked emails with offers of preferential admissions treatment from Brown administrators, including President Christina Paxson, for the children of potential donors. The story has drawn rapid response from both administrators, who claim the messages were cherry-picked and taken out of context, and student protesters from the #MoneyTalksAtBrown movement, who argue that they further validate the group’s concerns about undue financial influence on university policy.

Brown firmly stated that all admissions decisions are based on merit alone. Last night at the State of Brown, President Christina Paxson denounced the validity of the Gawker article for selectively quoting emails.

“The real purpose of that letter is to let people set their expectations about the level of influence they can have,” she said.

Cass Cliatt, the Vice President of Communications, added, “It’s tempting to seek connections where none exist. At no time is there communication between advancement and admissions.”

In so many words, the university firmly denies that financial donations have ever had any clout in the admissions office–except “maybe 100 years ago,” according to Cliatt.

Cliatt also took the opportunity to address what she called “discrepancies” in the article. The differences arose, Cliatt claims, because the article does not include all the correspondence that is accessible on WikiLeaks. The first problem was that the framing of the emails made it seem as though the donation and the early decision admittance were around the same time, she said. According to Cliatt, the discussion regarding the scholarship fund started in April 2012, and the concluding payment was made in February 2014, 10 months before the student’s Early Decision notification.

Cliatt also addressed an email in the Gawker article that was originally sent from Paxson to the Brown Corporation in September of 2014. According to Cliatt, the part that reads, “Also, please tell us if you learn of a prospective applicant who may need ‘special handling’ for campus visits or communications,” does not imply that the University gives special treatment to visitors of high status.

Instead, it is given to about 800 students per year who are from “any family we think could benefit from additional attention for their tour and/or meeting with a faculty, and the category includes a variety of reasons for this ‘handling': having served in volunteer or leadership positions at Brown, being a family member of an alum, having made extraordinary contributions to Brown, being a celebrity or dignitary, or any reason that might disrupt a public tour,” Cliatt wrote in an email.

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Sextion: What happens when you hook up with your #1 crush at Brown

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Brown students are often ranked the most attractive among the Ivies, so much so that there was once a rumor that the admissions office required headshots with applications.

While that’s up for debate, I can easily say that I see at least one person I am attracted to every day on this campus. Clearly, other Brunonians feel the same way: just look at Brown Admirers or Brown Confessions. Regardless of the overwhelming hotness of our student body, many of us pinpoint that one person who is the epitome of physical attractiveness to you. You stare at them across the Main Green, daydreaming about what they’re like, and what it would be like to finally kiss them and be with them. So, what happens when you actually hook up with them? Does the fantasy come to fruition?

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An interview with Waka Flocka’s Left Rooster, Colin Duffy ’15

If you were at Friday’s Spring Weekend concert, you’d know that Waka Flocka Flame had a PIC (partner-in-crime) up on stage with him for a little bit. This anonymous person was in a full-on, head-to-toe rooster costume. You might have assumed that was one of Waka’s roadies, or a groupie, or his bodyguard, or something like that, but you were so, so wrong.

It turns out that the now infamous Left Rooster was none other than Brown’s own Colin Duffy ’15, who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rage with Waka on the Main Green. We spoke to Duffy to find out just what it was like to be the rooster in Waka’s rari.

Was it planned for you to go onstage?

I was talking to my friends a couple weeks ago about Waka… There was a big group of us hanging around, and he has this song, “Rooster in My Rari,” with a music video, which is him up there with a guy in a rooster costume. We were all thinking about Left Shark and his moment at the Super Bowl, and there was this idea thrown around that it would be funny if someone put on a rooster suit and got called onstage for “Rooster in My Rari.”

So we all chipped in on [a rooster suit] and figured that one of us would have to wear it. Earlier in the week I was talking to a friend of mine who works for BCA, and I told him about our plan as a joke… On Friday, I’m running out of class talking to the security guards about how I would bring a rooster costume through security. An hour later I get a text from [my friend] saying, “Waka thinks it’s unbelievable that you bought that costume, he wants you on stage.”

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The Underground Coffee Shop: A review

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The third cup of coffee ever sold at the Underground.

It’s hardly surprising that a beverage with such a storied intellectual history–something something Enlightenment coffee shops exchange of ideas AP European history–should be so popular at Brown. Coffee, and with the businesses it fosters, is an integral part of College Hill, from the shops that dot Thayer and Wickenden to the syrupy coffee-milk that is a unique staple of the beautifully strange state of we live in.

And yet there’s much to suggest that the coffee scene here isn’t quite as unified as it could be; witness the trek necessary to get to Dave’s Coffee and/or Coffee Exchange, the lackluster options at Starbucks and Blue State, and the plainly mediocre stuff they serve at campus establishments (RIP Bear Buzz).

Most campus establishments, that is. The Underground, which opened Monday, appears to be the coffee shop that College Hill both deserves and needs. It combines the geographic centrality of the Blue Room, the expertise of Dave’s Coffee (which supplies the roasts themselves), and the enthusiasm of the Brown/RISD Coffee Society (who were consulted for proper brewing methods).

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