As we bid adieu to 2015, we can’t help but reflect on what has happened this year on campus. We have said goodbye to Abyssinia, examined the history of Thayer street, and we have even provided some solid recommendations for how Brown can thrive in the 21st century. We helped you write a resume and gave you a crash-course on female anatomy.
Our video team dramatically read Spring Weekend lyrics, interviewed our favorite Uncle Teddy, gave your Ratty life-hacks, and continued to produce our Brunonia series.
But perhaps most importantly, over the past year, important conversations transpired regarding systemic issues impacting our campus and beyond. We’ve seen students participate in #MoneyTalksatBrown protests. We’ve seen massive student support for the University to change Fall Weekened to Indigenous People’s Day. We’ve seen Brown students gather to stand in solidarity with the larger #BlackLivesMatter movement and attended a teach-in organized by Brown graduate students of color, who later proposed a list of demands to the University. And after a student reported assault by a DPS officer at the Latinx Ivy League Conference at Brown, we saw an overwhelming community response.
We certainly expect the upcoming year to have just as much in store as 2015 and we’re honored to continue serving up your campus news and happenings in 2016. Here’s to a full month of messing up the date and writing 2015 instead of 2016!
Without further ado, here are our top 10 posts from 2015:
10. Does money talk @ Brown?
“A Gawker exposé published Tuesday [April 21st] 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.”
9. Vote for your next Lecture Board speaker
We had the honor of working with Brown Lecture Board to announce the potential Lecture Board speaker candidates and administer the Lecture Board poll to the student body. Lecture Board will announce the Spring speaker next semester!
From left to right: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi
In July 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted from the charge of second-degree murder of 17 year-old Treyvon Martin. In response, Alicia Garza, an organizer and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, took to her Facebook page to write a “love letter” to the black community, and a plea for all to recognize that “black lives matter.” Her friend, Patrisse Cullors, head of an advocacy organization for incarcerated people, repeated the phrase from her own social media accounts, adding a hashtag.
Opal Tometi, executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, remembers reading Garza’s post after leaving a screening of Fruitvale Station and hearing that Zimmerman had been acquitted: “ Within this formation Alicia basically said, ‘Hey, we need to come together to understand this moment and provide some shared guidance, a reading, as well as a call to action for our people.’ Black Lives Matter is how she’d been talking about it. That really resonated with me.”
Together, the three women made #BlackLivesMatter a national mantra, dubbed by many the start of a second civil-rights movement. While the hashtag began as a way to promote demonstrations and rallies around the country in response to police brutality against black individuals, today Black Lives Matter is an organization with 26 national chapters. “Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society” reads the organization’s website.
Although the movement began in response to the issues of police brutality, today Black Lives Matter is fighting for a greater cause, that “goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.” Garza describes the organization and phrase as, “an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
If you’re ready to laugh, then vote for Fred Armisen for Brown Lecture Board’s spring speaker.
Armisen was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and moved to New York as a baby. Armisen dropped out of the School of Visual Arts to begin his career as a professional rock drummer. He started drumming with the hip 80’s band Trenchmouth (we just started listening and they’re awesome), but his interests soon switched to acting. In 2002, he became a featured player on Saturday Night Live, and in 2004, he was promoted to repertory cast member. His famous impersonations include Steve Jobs and the Californian Stuart.
In 2003, Armisen met his platonic soulmate Carrie Brownstein. In 2005, the two began producing the hilarious web series ThunderAnt. ThunderAnt became the basis of their hit show Portlandia (*inspiration for blog’s own Brunonia*). As its name suggests, the show is set in Portland. It is based around a variety of paired characters played by Fred and Carrie, including femininst bookstore owners Candace and Toni and “Fred” and “Carrie” themselves (genius). In 2011, Portlandia won a Peabody award, which is a prestigious award recognizing public service in radio and television. (Note: Armisen also won one in 2008 as part of the Saturday Night Live political satire cast. Could he be any cooler??)
In addition to Portlandia (sixth season premieres January 21, 2016), Armisen keeps himself busy as the current bandleader of the 8G Band, the house band on Late Night with Seth Meyers. He has a number of new projects coming down the pike, including “Blue Jean Committee,” a fake California-based band with buddy Bill Hader.
Now that we’ve described his career in mere words, we’re going to let his varied and hilarious work speak for itself.
A former CIA agent and NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden remains a figure who – over two years since his deliberate leaking of classified NSA and GCHQ documents – requires little introduction.
One of the most controversial figures in the world, Snowden rose to prominence in 2013 when journalist Glenn Greenwald and others published thousands of US government documents acknowledging the existence of widespread telecommunications surveillance programs extending not merely across the US, but in European countries and elsewhere. Greenwald later admitted that it had been an NSA contractor, working at the organization’s regional operations center in Hawaii, who had provided him with the documents.
Born into a family with a long history of service in the federal government (his grandfather was a rear admiral in the Navy), Edward Snowden is currently wanted by US authorities for theft of US government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act.
Despite his ongoing process of seeking asylum in a number of Latin American countries, Snowden’s current inability to travel beyond the borders of his current haven of Russia will necessitate a Skype conversation in lieu of a physical presence if he is chosen as the speaker for next semester. Regardless of the measures necessary, however, Snowden should prove an extremely interesting and relevant candidate in today’s era of global surveillance and privacy concerns.
Don’t forget to vote for Snowden or for the other Lecture Board speaker candidates here!
A quick bio:
Toni Morrison is an American novelist best known for writing The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. Her novels, centering around vivid characters, questions of identity, and the legacy of slavery, are considered among the best fiction ever written. In 1988, she won a Pulitzer prize and was nominated for the American Book Award for Beloved, and in 1993 she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her latest work, God Help the Child, was released in early 2015.
What we want to know more about:
- Her life before she was an acclaimed author. Before Morrison published her first book at age 39, she worked as a senior trade-book editor at Random House publishing and played a critical role in bringing Black literature into the mainstream during the 60s and 70s. During this time, she met Henry Dumas, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl Jones and edited Mohammed Ali’s autobiography.
- Her relationships with feminism and intersectionality. Although her novels often surround Black female characters, Morrison doesn’t consider them to be feminist. When asked “Why distance oneself from feminism?” in 1998, she replied: “In order to be as free as I possibly can, in my own imagination, I can’t take positions that are closed. Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book – leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.”
- Her thoughts on recent nation-wide movements on college campuses. Morrison was a university professor during the Civil Rights era. She has met many leaders who fought and continue to fight for equality, and has devoted her whole life to speaking about the Black experience in America. In a 1976 New York Times essay, she expressed concerns over a waning Civil Rights struggle: “Having been eliminated from the lists of urgent national priorities, from TV documentaries and the platitudes of editorials, black people have chosen, or been forced to seek, safety from the white man’s promise.” Later in the same piece, she says: “In the shambles of closing admissions, falling quotas, widening salary gaps and merging black-studies departments, builders and healers are quietly working among us.” Given these thoughts and experiences, it would be valuable to hear what she has to say about campus movements today.
Why you should vote for Toni Morrison:
Even if you don’t know much about Morrison, there are many reasons to want to hear her speak. We have the benefit of being alive at the same time as one of the most influential novelists in recent history; she is, after all, the only living American winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. It’s likely that Toni Morrison’s epics could be as fundamental to the American literary canon as Melville’s Moby Dick. To close, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah of the New York Times sums up what makes Morrison, Morrison:
“Often, in black literature, it seems as though the author is performing two roles: that of the explorer and the explainer. Morrison does not do this. Morrison writes stories that are more aesthetic than overtly political, better expressed in accurate Tolstoyan detail than in generalizing sentiments blunted with anger. Most important, she is an author who writes to tease and complicate her world, not to convince others it is valid.”
In short, Morrison is the one of the world’s most badass authors. She is wise, says what’s on her mind, and—considering events on our campus and across the country—is extremely relevant. Don’t forget to cast your vote here by November 29th!