Students organize Blackout at Brown and teach-in in solidarity with Mizzou

A few hundred students, dressed mostly in black, stood by the Van Wickle Gates at noon today to take a photo to show solidarity and support for Black students at the University of Missouri. Attendees remained huddled, some under umbrellas, to listen as several Black students, one by one, took to a megaphone to share their stories. They spoke about the institutional racism they had personally experienced, about the University’s refusal to value their existence and acknowledge their identities, and called for institutional changes to prevent future traumas and actualize equality on campus.

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Many students spoke about their own experiences with racism in the classroom. A first-year spoke about being in an MCM class in which the professor, after quoting a text, repeatedly used the n-word to refer to Black bodies. “It happened five times before I had to walk out,” he said. After tweeting about the incident, the student has met several times with school administrators, and said his professor sent out an email acknowledging her use of language. “But it wasn’t an apology. It was an excuse.”

Another student expressed frustration with having to continually meet with administrators about the perpetuation of institutional racism by faculty members. “I’m here because I’m tired,” they said. “I haven’t done schoolwork in months, but I’m meeting with administrators.” Others elaborated on the discomfort that many Black students feel in classrooms with professors that have made racially charged comments or have criticized the work of activists on campus. “Ken Miller, David Josephson, Ariella Azoulay, Glenn Loury — these people aren’t being punished, but we are.”

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In reference to the email sent by President Christina Paxson P’19 and Richard Locke, one student asked, “Why did they all of the sudden send out that e-mail after Mizzou and Yale?” The letter, titled “Promoting a Diverse, Inclusive Academic Community,” was sent this Tuesday to the community. “Are they scared [of losing their jobs]?” the student continued. “They should be. I’m very tired of institutional racism. If it doesn’t stop, if free speech isn’t removed from this discussion, she should be afraid.” Another student added, “I just want to say that our humanity is not up for debate.” One speaker pointed out that it took a year for the University to put a “Do not touch” sign in front of the only slavery memorial on campus, although “white children played on it the day after it was put up.”

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Abyssinia is (probably) closed

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BlogDH is sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like Wickenden Street’s staple Ethiopian restaurant is calling it a day. How do we know? Partly because we feel its absence in our hearts, and partly because a) there is a sign that says “We are closed”, b) their phone is disconnected, and c) there is “property for lease” sign outside of the establishment. Every time someone on staff has dropped by during normal open-for-business hours, the lights have been out.

Abyssinia was a love or hate kind of joint– The type of place where you’d either be ecstatic at the prospect of becoming a regular, or dodge in fear of having to request a fork. (The standard utensils were rolls of injera, or Ethiopian sourdough flatbread).

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YURT: Virtual Reality at 180 George

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Behind all of the ugly construction surrounding Barus and Holley, the 180 George building houses an unparalleled virtual reality system. Named for its shape, furbished with 69 projectors, and a pixel resolution equivalent to retinal display (the human eye could not perceive anything more detailed), the Yurt Ultimate Reality Theater opened in the summer of 2015. The field of virtual reality isn’t new to Brown; before we had this machine, there was the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). Technology like the CAVE allowed scientists and artists alike to explore their fields with three dimensional visualizations. MRI scans became interactive for medical students, while poets experimented with words that literally jumped off the projector. In 2009, Brown decided it was time for an upgrade, involving a 360 degree display with interactive floors and ceilings.

In the spirit of educating campus about this exciting new feature, we hung out with Computer Science Professor David Laidlaw to talk about his brainchild, and the functions of high quality virtual reality. Before diving into the interview, you should know that Professor Laidlaw is a busy man. It took over two weeks to set up a time to see YURT, and right before our rendezvous, this texting exchange occurred:

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It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Upon greeting me (after class, of course), his first question was, “what happened to your mustache?” Let it also be noted that I initially forgot to take my shoes off inside the machine and that every time Professor Laidlaw handed me a piece of equipment, static shocks reverberated in both our hands. Basically, the interview was electric. Jokes aside, it was time to get down to serious business. A.K.A. it was time to play 3D Minecraft, or as David affectionately called it, YURTCraft.

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Die-in protest: Native Americans at Brown pre-demonstration

At 2:00 p.m today, October 9th, students dressed in red and black gathered in front of Sayles Hall on the Main Green. They laid down on the concrete for 52 minutes and 30 seconds, with still bodies and resolute intentions. Their actions paid tribute to the 523 years of resistance in the Indigenous Peoples community of the Americas. Their silence resonated as passersby made their way to class, with strong wind being the only audible noise, occasionally disturbing the cardboard signs.

When asked for the statement, Sierra Edd ’18, one of the members of Native Americans at Brown said, “We, collectively as NAB, feel that the BDH had many chances to consider not including Monday and Tuesday’s columns in their paper. In including them, there were powerful and painful implications for many students. Their formal apology is not enough; we ask for structural changes and a preventive action in the future.”

The die-in protest was a pre-demonstration for the event scheduled for Monday, October 12th, which will be a celebration of Indigenous Peoples, in the hopes that Brown renames Fall Weekend. Below is a visual record of the event:

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The Career Fair and the Fountain of Eternal Swag

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a woman with shockingly few marketable skills. I went to the career fair, but I didn’t get any jobs. Instead, I got an absurd array of freebies from various tech companies. I would tell you about it, but I’d rather show you . . .

T-Shirts:

A solid representation of cotton and tri-blend, the tees this year did not disappoint. Asana wins for softest material, while Andreessen Horowitz gets a nod for originality with their Henley. At this point, I am fully convinced that tech start-ups are the only reason that American Apparel is still in business.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft packaged their T-shirts like one of those expanding Disney-themed washcloths from our youth. Maybe this fabric was a Lion King hand towel in a past life?

Accessories:

Faux wooden glasses decimated the competition this year (the competition being a bunch of crummy, colorful, plastic sunglasses). The sock game was also strong, with rubber tracked hospital/SkyZone slippers, athletically minded socks from Trip Advisor, and FitBit bringing the fashion element. The meaning of business socks has just transcended its original derivation.

Utilitarian:

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Breaking: Bill Cosby’s honorary degree revoked

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In the wake of both Marquette and Fordham University revoking Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees, many have been curious as to what Brown will do in regards to the honorary degree that Cosby received from our University in 1985. Just now, President Paxson sent out an email notifying the community that the degree has in fact been revoked, in light of the information that has surfaced on Cosby’s (under oath) admission to using quaaludes to drug women that he wanted to have sex with.

September 25th was the first meeting for the University’s Board of Fellows since the release of this information. Subsequently, they agreed to “revoke and rescind the honorary doctorate conferred upon Bill Cosby by Brown University.”

According to procedure, an honorary degree may be revoked/rescinded if:  “(1)…the conduct of the honorary degree recipient is grossly inconsistent with the values of Brown and (2)…the conduct run[s] counter to or undermine the accomplishments that were cited as the basis for awarding the honorary degree.”

Contrasting that with the original reasoning behind the honorary degree, it is clear that Cosby flagrantly violates both clauses:

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