STEM vs. humanities: a conversational guide

Picture this: you’re sitting in the Blue Room munching on a French toast muffin alone and someone asks to join your booth. You of course say yes, and in an effort to make sharing a table a little less awkward with a complete stranger, you look to the notes they are pulling out to make small talk about their classes. But alas! It’s all chemistry and calculus, and all you know is humanities. Disillusioned, you are forced to return to the uncomfortable silence and weird looks when you accidentally play footsie with your STEM stranger.

We all know and love and stress about Brown’s open curriculum, which gives us the freedom to take (or not take) whatever classes we choose. But the ability to focus on either STEM or humanities creates a gap in understanding our friends on the dark side (the dark side being up to interpretation).  Those awkward pauses in conversation when you have no idea how to comment on some class a friend is complaining about, or straight up don’t know what they are talking, are avoidable. We want to help you navigate those conversations with confidence, so study up.

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CS 15: First of all, I had no idea what CS stood for, and in the interest of saving others from the embarrassment of having to ask, it’s computer science. CS 15 in particular is essentially Intro to Computer Science, and the bane of existence for those students, so be sure to express extreme sympathy for people complaining about it.

Fishbowl: Where dreams go to die. It’s where are aforementioned CS students go to get help during TA hours, but are usually never heard from again. If your friend says they’re going there, send regular text updates assuring them they will some day see the real sun again.

Labs: It’s not your high school lab where things changed color and that was it. Chemistry labs in particular take up entire afternoons, and the pre-lab and lab reports that go with it, so don’t expect to see friends in lab much.

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Why we call this weekend “Fall Weekend”


On April 7, 2009, Brown’s faculty voted to rename the annual holiday on the second Monday in October “Fall Weekend.” The vote was made at one of the faculty’s regular monthly meetings; under the rules of Brown’s governance, all decisions regarding the academic calendar are made by an all-faculty vote. Then-President, Ruth Simmons, and other university administrators were not involved in the decision, while then-chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, James Drier, professor of Philosophy, abstained from the vote.

In their statement released the next day, the Committee noted that, “since fall 2008, faculty, staff and student committees at Brown have discussed proposals to eliminate the formal observance of Columbus Day. Following much discussion, the vote was not unanimous, reflecting the difficulty and complexity of this sensitive and symbolic issue.”

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937 to honor the supposed discoverer of America. His 1492 landing in the Bahamas marked the beginning of European colonization of the Americas, which would result in the death of entire indigenous populations within forty years, due to disease and warfare. Columbus’ history of genocide has in many ways been erased from our societal narrative, marginalizing many communities. Although Brown faced some criticism in the media following the renaming in 2009, many schools and even cities have made similar decisions.

While the faculty ultimately made the decision to rename the holiday, the movement and strong desires that propelled that decision came from within the student body. “A small group of students who wanted the University to stop recognizing Columbus Day” worked on a project not unlike the sort we see on campus today; recognizing that there was a problem with a celebration named after Columbus, they engaged in months of dialogue with university administrators and faculty.

Although the students initially asked that Brown instead give off another Monday of the month, it was decided that Fall Weekend would coincide with the national holiday to better accommodate the faculty and staff with children in local schools. The Herald poll from the time indicated that “the majority of Brown students disapproved of continuing to call the holiday Columbus Day.”

This brief history lesson hopes to provide information on how we as a university and community came to refer to next weekend as “Fall Weekend.” For many, it may be a surprise how recent a change that was, or the work that past students and some current faculty put into making it happen. On Monday, there will be a demonstration on the Main Green hosted by the Native Americans at Brown with the goal of having the holiday renamed “Indigenous Peoples Day.” BlogDailyHerald will be providing coverage of the protest next week.

While everyone on campus may not support the desires of some students on campus to rename Fall Weekend, we as publication think the topic deserves due coverage. The BlogDailyHerald of Wesleyan, Wesleying, published a post earlier this year called “Responsibility and Inclusion in the Argus and on Wesleying.” The article, which is definitely worth a read, makes the point that campus publications have a responsibility to the students they attempt to represent and report to. “Publications are not mere platforms for discussion, they are institutions that make choices.”

BlogDailyHerald is, of course, not immune to making mistakes in neglecting topics that are relevant to underrepresented communities on campus, and in publishing content that does not properly represent the entire student body whom we hope to serve. As a campus life publication, we need to work hard to make sure we are providing content that speaks to all areas of campus life. We want to acknowledge our commitment to this responsibility.

An afternoon in the Annmary Brown Memorial


What are some buildings you’ve never set foot in at Brown? For some, it might be the Annmary Brown Memorial – that tomb-like, windowless building near Keeney and Health Services, a subject of much Brown folklore and ghost stories. Blog spent an afternoon in the famed memorial, and lived to tell the tale.

The Annmary Brown Memorial, located at 21 Brown Street, was built in 1907 by General Rush Christopher Hawkins as a memorial to his wife. During the Civil War, General Hawkins (1831 – 1920) served as Colonel of the “Hawkins Zouaves,” the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry, and was named Brigadier General in 1865. Hawkins was a well-known book collector, fascinated by early print editions, and a collector of early modern representational paintings.

Annmary Brown (1837 – 1903) was the daughter of Nicholas Brown III and granddaughter of Nicholas Brown II, for whom the university was named after. Brown and Hawkins married in 1860. Annmary was close with her sister, Carrie Brown Bajnotti, who is memorialized by the Carrie Tower on the Quiet Green. After her premature death from pneumonia in 1903, Hawkins decided to build a public memorial in her memory, to house belongings from their life together, Annmary Brown’s letters, as well as his Civil War memorabilia and art and book collections. Hawkins donated the memorial and the collection to the City of Providence in 1907. Brown was buried in the crypt in the rear of the building, and was joined by Hawkins, who died at the age of 89. The university acquired the memorial in 1948, which now houses the programs in Medieval Studies and in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

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Blogify: 20th Century Spring Weekend

In two days, the entire campus will transform for the 55th installment of one of Brown’s greatest traditions. Spring Weekend is definitely about tanks, sunshine (hopefully), and music, but it’s also about history. Since 1960, Brown has hosted some of the most significant musicians in the industry. Such formative headliners include Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Ike & Tina Turner, Bob Marley &The Wailers…

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BlogDH presents a playlist of some of the best acts from 1960-2000.

What we’re reading

On Sunday, after months of speculation, Hillary Clinton announced that she will be running as a candidate for the 2016 presidential election. The Atlantic’s “The 2016 Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet” breaks down the candidates who have announced and people likely to do so in the near future. Things keep heating up as the time left until election day winds down.

The New York Times‘ Michael Sokolove followed around the Philadelphia 76ers this season trying to get to the bottom of one of their worst seasons in recent history. In “How Long Can the Philadelphia 76ers Go?“, Sokolove explores the team’s history starting four years ago in 2011. He traces their successes and failures, including this season’s opening 17-game consecutive losing streak, to explain the 76ers’ 2014-2015 season.

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A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief: BlogDailyHerald, 5 years on

Though it might be hard to believe, the school year has come to an end. The libraries are empty, the Main Green is silent, and the Class of 2014 has marched through the Van Wickle Gates. Congrats to the seniors on your graduation! We’ll miss you dearly, but we know you will be all kinds of successful in life outside College Hill.

The end of the 2013-2014 academic year also marks the conclusion of BlogDailyHerald’s 5th year of production (do we even call it that?). It is sometimes hard to believe how young our web site is, especially given how far we have come in such a short time. The brainchild of some Brown Daily Herald editors back in 2009, Blog has become an organization unlike anything we could have dreamed of.

For the 2011 BDH Commencement magazine, former Blog editors David Winer ’13 and Matt Klimerman ’13 painted a pretty extraordinary picture of what the site’s early days were like. There were no Sunday evening meetings. Blog had “day editors” who handled all of the site’s content for a single day of the week. And edit board meetings? Try “run-ins on the street and in the Ratty.”

That year, Blog’s fearless first leaders revolutionized how the organization works. Our weekly writers’ meeting, daily time-wasters, and current managerial structure all came from these early days. Needless to say, we are all in great debt to the site’s earliest editors.

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