Letters to the editor

First, I say this: Student Editorial Board, what’s your deal? Are you guys mad at the world or something? Maybe you should spend your time and energy bashing a different cause that you don’t believe in, because in my reality the lip sync contest doesn’t make or break a day, and especially not an entire year.

You write that the most “obvious and inherent flaw” is the idea of judging people based on their ability to wear women’s attire? I didn’t. I was pimped out in 70s gear wearing a huge afro. I hope that doesn’t make you equally upset. So you’re mad that the Student Housing Advisory Committee (SHAC) links “housing with skill of performance.” Listen, it’s one room group out of all groups on the whole campus. I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s going to drastically change your life after one room is off the market � but that’s just me.

You focus on the contest’s “inequities” such as prohibiting interclass groups, and making people feel “bitter and cheated.” Why should a lip sync contest stop you from signing up to live with whomever you want in any class? Just do it! A contest doesn’t take away that privilege. Have you gotten everything you’ve ever wanted in your life or something-do you just want to have first pick? Is that it? Because I’m really trying to understand where all the frivolous animosity is stemming from. As far as I’ve seen, the lip sync contest seems to be good idea for the Amherst community at large.

When is there ever a time on this campus that people can lose themselves for five minutes and do something fun? When is there a time where students come together and perform for one another? It’s a freakin’ talent show. Room Draw is a stressful ordeal, but the process is soothed by one’s involvement in watching or performing in the contest.

I must say that the people who won really impressed the crowd with their originality. How can you say that eight freshmen dressed as the Von Trapp family singing “So Long, Farewell” isn’t even remotely amusing? Were you even there? Did you see how people were packed outside the doors trying to look in? You must have been, because you did write the article with so many fascinating facts that were just � wrong.

I talked to Boykin-East and various members of SHAC about your other so-called problems with room draw, namely: Room Draw going online and the updating the charts in a more efficient fashion. Just to let you know, Room Draw online was never an idea, but they are going to make the updated status of housing available online anytime. Second, the SHAC members have walkie-talkies so updated messages are sent as soon as rooms are taken. Sorry 30 seconds is too long for you.

You may think I have no right to write this retaliation, considering I won lip sync last year. But my group won because we were tight. (Tight means good.)

Don’t forget that this is Amherst, a place of innovation. We are surrounded by the people who are hopefully going to make society a more pleasant place to be. This lip sync contest is a great concept created to make our school a little more fun with an added incentive. Luckily the board wrote their article as a “group,” so they are safe from any individual ridicule for wasting their time and energy trying to knock down the most harmless of events our school now has to offer. Can we say relax?

James Orraca-Tetteh ’02

Column ignores existing offerings

AmStuds classes include non-white issues
Michelle Oliveros-Larsen’s last column (“Wanted: A true American Studies department,” March 7) condemns the Department of American Studies for its lack of concern for Latin American countries and for its refusal to “consider the experience of non-whites in popular culture as a topic important enough for a class.” It is true that the department’s focus has always been on the United States; it is most definitely not true that the department has failed to consider the experience of non-white Americans. It may be too much to ask that a critic of the department examine the contents of American Studies 11-12 as the course has been taught over the years, but a minimally responsible critic might be expected to look at least at this semester’s syllabus.

This semester’s syllabus for American Studies 12: “The Embodied Self” includes the following: an essay by Frantz Fanon on “The Fact of Blackness”; two essays on the misuse of photography to demean enslaved African-Americans; Kristin Luker’s “Dubious Conceptions,” which deconstructs widespread misperceptions about teenage pregnancy in minority as well as in “mainstream” communities; the film “Hoop Dreams,” which is about the place of basketball in the lives of young male African-Americans; an essay by Donald Siegel on “Higher Education and the Plight of the Black Athlete”; a film entitled “Playing the Field,” which is about black and white, male and female, and straight and gay athletes; and the film “Paris Is Burning,” which is about black and Hispanic transvestites. Throughout the semester, questions of identity are central.

The department has many shortcomings, but misrepresentations will not help us to overcome them.

Allen Guttmann
Professor of English & American Studies

Latino Studies options already exist
I am writing in response to the opinion article entitled “Wanted: A true American Studies Department.” The author argues that there exists no department of Latino Studies, and while this is technically true, it is misleading at best. I assume that what the author terms as “the College’s daunting twists and turns of operations” can only refer to the effort it takes to flip to page 199 of the course catalog to the entry titled “Latin American Studies.” Perhaps the author skipped over this page and missed the fact that the College offers students the opportunity to design their own Latin American Studies major or to participate in the Five-College Latin American and Caribbean Studies Certificate Program in addition to their major(s). As a senior who will graduate with this certificate, having taken all eight required courses at Amherst College, I believe that leaving out this information is in poor journalistic taste and is an insult to those of us who take the initiative in our education.

The author also claims “the burden of making our experience [at Amherst College] fruitful falls, for the most part, on us.” While I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, I am not filled with the same level of outrage at that notion. The mission of the College clearly states that “the ultimate responsibility for a thoughtful program of study rests within the individual student,” and that the curriculum of the College “enables students to arrange programs for their own educational needs within established guidelines.” Wasn’t it an obvious expectation when we got here that formulating a course of study for ourselves was to be a welcome opportunity and responsibility instead of “an undue burden”? One of the trade-offs of coming to a very small liberal arts college is the fact that we don’t have an endless variety of departments that can individually address every viable area of interest, but I argue that Amherst is hardly keeping non-traditional perspectives out of the academic arena. Certainly there is no Latin American Studies department office in any building on campus, but stopping by the office of Assistant Professor of History Brodwyn Fischer, the faculty advisor to the Five College Certificate Program, or noting the 30 courses listed under Latin American Studies in the course catalog, might be enough to find out what the reality of our curriculum really is.

Jessica Mercedes Garcia ’01

Performance space needed
We are writing to voice our frustrations as dancers at Amherst and members of Amherst Dance. Amherst Dance is currently putting together a spring dance concert similar to the one we had this past fall. Sixty-plus dancers are in the midst of rehearsing nine different pieces, ranging from classical ballet to Broadway Fosse to modern to South Indian. Because of the generous support of the Student Finance Committee and College community, together with the enthusiasm of the dancers and talent of the choreographers, this has been a wonderful semester-thus far. However, there has also been a lot to work against. Currently we don’t have a space to perform in, not to mention adequate rehearsal space. Although we are incredibly thankful for the studio in the basement of Marsh House, its size and condition make it far less than ideal. Every time Brian Clowdus ’03 lifts his arm to demonstrate a sexy Fosse move, the pipes running across the ceiling inevitably get in the way. The studio is also much too small for pieces with more than seven dancers. Unfortunately, there are no other suitable spaces available to extracurricular dance groups on campus.

Although we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to perform to a packed house in Kirby Theater last semester, we currently have no performance space for this spring. We began asking about using Kirby, the Experimental Theater and Buckley at the end of last semester, but so far none of these spaces have been granted to us. It is very difficult to work toward a performance without knowing where exactly we will be displaying our work. Without being able to imagine where we are going to perform, it is impossible to set the spacing of the dancers and to develop the emotional tone of the piece. We understand that even departmental performances have been strapped for both rehearsal and performance space, and we don’t want to compete or deprive them of the space that they need as well.

Ideally, there would be enough rehearsal and performance space for all. There are so many people who are consistently committed to creating and performing dances that are enjoyed by the entire College community. As a College we need to acknowledge that this lack of space is neither a new problem nor one that will disappear by being continually ignored. We, as a school, desperately need more dance spaces on this campus. In the meantime we would like as fair a process as possible for sharing the existing rehearsal and performance spaces on campus between groups.

Megan Shields-Stromsness ’02
Sara Hurtado-Rogers ’01
Amherst Dance members

Show trainers some respect
Recently I have had to spend a large amount of time in the training room due to constant injuries from playing different sports. Although I spend more time there than I would like, I have enjoyed my time there due to the wonderful personalities of the trainers. For the most part they are concerned and attentive, and I’ve gotten to know some of them well enough to see that they really do care about helping out us students.

Knowing this, it really bothers me that the attitudes of students towards the trainers who are helping them are less than grateful. Athletes go in there everyday to warm up, ice and get rehab and end up leaving a disaster area behind when they are done. Towels are thrown on the ground, tape is left on the tables, and blatant disrespect is expressed as the trainers are ignored or questioned while attempting to help.

The trainers are not paid to be our maids and clean up after us, nor should we demand that they have to service every one of our needs and injuries. I know that this is not the attitude of every person who makes use of the training room; on the contrary, numerous athletes are responsible and respectful while using the facility. Yet the unjust treatment that does sometimes occur seems so wrong in itself, and I thought it necessary to let people know what was happening and ask them to be a little more conscientious while in the training room.

Students need to realize what a great facility we have and to seek as much help as they can get there. Only, if they do, I hope that they will keep in mind how hard the trainers work to make us feel better and remember that we should help them out as much as they help us.

Paula Yanes ’03

It’s a campus, not a landfill
Last week, my friends and I were playing in the snow on the social dorm quad, when one of them, who happened to be visiting from another school, cut his leg on a piece of broken glass. It was a really big cut-you could see the fat-and we had to call ACEMS. But the next day, even with their wonderful assistance, it hurt when he walked.

We all assumed that the glass was from some beer bottle dropped in the snow long ago. I have been guilty of the same thing-like leaving a bottle on the sidewalk before crossing Route 9-but now I realize what the consequences can be. Those bottles do not disappear on their own, and especially with the snow, they can be very dangerous. There are a lot of trash cans on campus, and though I wish there were more recycling bins around, it doesn’t seem like it would be that inconvenient to find one when you are done with your beverage, especially if it could prevent bloody accidents.

Later that week, I heard about a party in my dorm that had been held the Saturday before for which the invitation instructed people to “bring stuff to break.” Apparently, they had broken lots of bottles and things and thrown them out the window. Needless to say, I am horrified.

I don’t know why I am still surprised when Amherst students live up to the reputation of being spoiled brats, but I am. How can people have so little respect for the well-being of the rest of this campus? When all the snow melts, someone is going to have to pick up all that broken glass; a dangerous job. The rest of us would rather not want to find a piece of glass in in our eye when we go to make a snow angel. What about the kids at the Little Red Schoolhouse? What type of person throws broken glass into a child’s playground?

I am shocked by this premeditated ridiculousness. We all do silly things when we are drunk, but whatever happened to dancing on windowsills and stalking the objects of our desire, which are much less likely to have lasting physical effects? If you plan to be that destructive when you get drunk, why drink? Is there any purpose?

This is indicative of the selfishness that pervades the College. Although this was an extreme case, similar things happen on a smaller scale every weekend. Drunkenness is no excuse. Whether we like it or not, we are adults, and we cannot ignore how our actions will affect others. I hope my friend’s accident will serve as a wake-up call.

Sarah Short ’02