Niahlah Hope '16: Stunts and Superheroes

Submitted on Wednesday, 11/7/2018, at 3:41 PM

The Shadow League recently spoke at length with Niahlah Hope ’16 about her trajectory from child gymnast to college athlete to Hollywood stuntwoman, most notably for her work as Black Panther star Lupita N’yongo’s stunt double.

“My gymnastics background gives me a lot of confidence," she said. "There's a lot of choreography in gymnastics and it's about knowing your body and where you are in time and space. Because all of that has been ingrained in me from when I was younger, I know how to ride a wire. I can fall off buildings. I can do anything they need me to do. And I've hit the ground so much from being a gymnast that its second nature."

She spoke about having to sport many many different hairstyles for her roles, which have included stunt work for “Orange is the New Black,” “Night School,” and “What Men Want,” so shaving her head for Black Panther was no big deal. 

“I don't know if you've noticed, but there are a lot more women who are shaving their heads recently,” she said. “I think we started something.”

On Choosing The Chair: Sarat

Submitted on Wednesday, 11/7/2018, at 3:37 PM

On Nov. 2, Tennessee double-murderer Edmund Zagorski was executed by means of the electric chair, which he chose over lethal injection.

The Washington Post turned to Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, for context on why a convict would select an older method.

The prisoner’s decision to revert to an older method of punishment, Sarat said, “signals what we know to be happening — the breakdown of this idea that lethal injection would be any kind of magic bullet."

“Lethal injection was supposed to be the fulfillment of a century-long quest for a method of execution that could be safe, reliable, and humane,” Sarat said. Sarat makes the case in his book, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty, more than seven percent of lethal injections have been botched.

Running With Olivia Polischeck '21

Submitted on Wednesday, 11/7/2018, at 3:36 PM

In preparation for a run in the the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon, Olivia Polischeck ’21 was interviewed by hometown newspaper Palos Verde Peninsula News on how living with Type 1 diabetes does not hold her back from athletics.

"The misconception (about me having Type 1 diabetes) is that I can't do something," Polischeck said. "Every race, I have a pod that gives me insulin and patches on both arms…diabetes is not a setback for me, it's a motivator."

Polischeck, ran alongside twenty members of Beyond Type-1, a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education on diabetes. She is currently a member of the Amherst College cross country team.

Fact-Checking Trump With Javier Corrales

Submitted on Thursday, 11/1/2018, at 12:13 PM

Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science, recently was cited in the New York Times “Fact Check of the Day,” in making the case that President Trump’s frequent claim that single-payer healthcare would send the US into an economic tailspin a la Venezuala, is a false claim.

Venezula’s health care system —which does allow for private medical care— “played a minimal role in Venezuela’s epic crisis,” Corrales told the Times. Rather, he said “the main culprits were the government’s mismanagement of the economy, soaring deficits, declining oil production, debts racked up by the state oil company, and price controls.”

“Venezuela’s system is collapsing mostly because of regime type — corrupt semi-authoritarianism — rather than choice of health system,” Corrales told the Times.

Diversity at the Head of the Classroom: Travis Bristol '03

Submitted on Thursday, 11/1/2018, at 12:11 PM

Travis Bristol ’03 recently spoke with Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers Podcast about the importance of attracting, hiring, and supporting teachers of color.

“[The] research is pretty convincing that children of color benefit and perform better in school when they have a teacher of color,” said Bristol a former public high school English teacher in New York City, currently assistant professor at the University of California Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. 

“Not only do children of color benefit from having a teacher of color, but white children who are going to be global citizens deserve and are missing out on the opportunity to have a teacher of color teach them,” he said. “We are living in a global society, and if we are preparing children to be global citizens, then we have to have people in front of them who do not look like them, who bring different perspectives to the world, who can prepare them to be global competitors.”

Pawan Dhingra Gives "Dear Abby" Some Advice

Submitted on Thursday, 11/1/2018, at 12:08 PM

When “Dear Abby” columnist Jeanne Phillips recently advised a reader against giving their child a “foreign” name, Boston Globe writer Jeneé Osterheldt spoke with Pawan Dhingra, professor of American Studies at Amherst, to call this out.

“Not only can foreign names be difficult to pronounce and spell, but they can also cause a child to be teased unmercifully,” Phillips wrote, responding to a parent who had misgivings about giving their new baby a traditional Indian name. Phillips urged the parent not to, adding, “Sometimes the name can be a problematic word in the English language. And one that sounds beautiful in a foreign language can be grating in English.”

Sikh activist Simran Jeet Singh called out the advice as “whitewashing,” and Pawan Dhingra agreed.

Dear Abby is encouraging a world that denies us our individualism, our differences, and our right for self identity,” he said. “People who cannot name themselves lose who they are. And it’s very sad that America is a place where you are told by some reputable elite, Dear Abby, that America is a place you have to give up who you are to be told you belong.”

“I don’t regret my name,” he said. “In some ways, it is a hassle. In other ways, it is my opportunity to share. That’s how I carry it. Names are a really important part of your culture, and to deny someone their name is oppressive.”

Amherst Week on The Academic Minute

Submitted on Thursday, 10/25/2018, at 3:00 PM

Amherst College was recently the featured institution on WAMC’s The Academic Minute, and included brief talks by some of our faculty:

The Academic Minute features researchers from colleges and universities around the world, keeping listeners abreast of what's new and exciting in the academy.

When Professor Todd Listened to Mars

Submitted on Thursday, 10/25/2018, at 2:58 PM

For an article about the ongoing Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, Venture Beat related the story about the very first modern SETI experiment, carried out in 1924 by astronomer David Peck Todd, Amherst College Class of 1875, and who taught astronomy and served as director of the observatory here from 1881 to 1917.

Todd set about on the endeavor with inventor Charles Jenkins, who had invented a “radio photo message machine … an early version of a television transmitter and receiver, a device that could transmit photos over radio waves,” Venture Beat wrote.

The pair set out to aim the device at Mars, and listen.

“Their search was conducted at too low of a frequency to see through the ionosphere, which they didn’t know at the time. But it speaks to this partnership which continued to develop throughout the 50s and 60s, and continues to this day, between electrical engineering and astronomy in searching for technology beyond the earth,” the article summed up.

Stavans, Suarez Dissect "Fake News" in Podcast Series

Submitted on Thursday, 10/25/2018, at 2:55 PM

Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture, and veteran journalist (and former visiting professor in American Studies at Amherst) Ray Suarez, are tackling “fake news” for a seven-part podcast series that premiered mid-October on the NEPR News Network, NEPR reported.

The series, ”What's Wrong with American Media,” started Oct. 15 as part of a special for Stavans’ podcast In Contrast.

"At a time when the news is said to no longer deliver its message 'objectively,' but in polarized form by outfits defined by partisan loyalty, and as concepts like 'fake news' take hold in the collective consciousness, the role of a responsible media in the United States is today more embittered than ever," said Stavans. "This special is an attempt to assess if the wires and lights in a box still have the capacity to awaken civic responsibility."

Folger's Passion

Submitted on Thursday, 10/18/2018, at 2:28 PM

“Donors often come up with useful ideas that no program officer or foundation president could imagine,” wrote Martin Morse Wooster in a recent article for Philanthropy Daily, citing the particular example of Henry Clay Folger, Amherst Class of 1879, founder of the College’s Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Wooster cites Andrea Mays’ The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio, in showing how “Folger’s passion for Shakespeare led to the creation of one of America’s great libraries.”

“The Folger Shakespeare Library wasn’t created by exquisitely credentialed foundation professionals. It is the result of one donor’s passion,” Wooster wrote.

Considered the premier research library in the world for the study of Shakespeare and the English Renaissance, the Folger holds major collections for research in European arts, culture and history from the early 15th century to the end of the 18th century. Folger left the library to the College upon his death in 1930.