Sarat on Diminishing Clemency in Massachusetts

Submitted on Monday, 7/16/2012, at 12:11 PM

The Associated Press recently spoke with Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, for a story about the Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s record on issuing pardons or commuting sentences of convicted criminals. Sarat noted that Patrick is not alone in being leery of practicing clemency: "If you grant a commutation or pardon, you may please the person who's the recipient or their family, but there is no political gain to run on the idea that you are interested in using the clemency process," he said.


Constance Congdon and the Ko Fest

Submitted on Monday, 7/16/2012, at 12:08 PM

The Daily Hampshire Gazette ran a feature story about this year’s Ko Festival of Performance, which runs through Aug. 5 at the Holden Theater and other locations on campus. The festival's title this year is "An Irreverent and Intergenerational Look at Age and Aging." The Gazette spoke with playwright-in-residence Constance Congdon, whose one woman piece “Is Sex Possible?” opened the festival. The piece, which examines sex and dating after 50 in a frank and humorous fashion, is based on her own experiences, she told the Gazette: "I think that's the best material. ... A lot of playwriting is listening and then writing down, which also includes listening to yourself.”


Stavans Reviews Traveler of the Century

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2012, at 11:44 AM

Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, recently reviewed Traveler of the Century, a new translation of El viajero del siglo (2009), by Argentine writer Andrés Neuman. In the article, published in the Jewish Daily Forward, Stavans praised the book, which tells of a traveller’s wanderings through Europe in the 1820s, “is large and philosophical and deliciously slow — an old-fashioned kind of narrative, less interested in pleasing the tyrannical literary market with fast, easy satisfactions than in bamboozling it through sustained ruminations on politics, God and the nature of things.”


Shane Zhao, back from Rio

Submitted on Thursday, 7/5/2012, at 11:49 AM

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently spoke with Shane Zhao ‘14E, one of three Amherst students who participanted in the recent Rio+20 U.N. environmental conference. He spoke about how, as one of the founders of China's largest youth environmental activism group, he ended up at the Rio de Janeiro conference.

Concluding, as other commentators have, that the conference was not a success for environmentalists, he said, “The result doesn't surprise me. I was at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009 and I learned how difficult it was for more than 100 countries to reach a legally binding agreement.”


Amherst: Ahead of the Curve in Latino Enrollment

Submitted on Friday, 6/15/2012, at 9:31 AM

In a recent piece touting Massachusetts as a leader in attracting Latino college students, Boston Globe higher education writer Mary Carmichael spotlighted Amherst as setting the gold standard. She spoke with Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, about the college’s doubling its Latino enrollment in the past decade, and with Tom Parker, director of admissions, about Amherst’s generous financial aid package.

“Amherst’s healthy endowment means it can afford to give students plenty of financial aid - the average award is $41,150 and includes no loans,” Carmichael wrote. “During recruitment season, the school flies almost 200 kids from around the country to campus for ‘diversity open houses.’ Once students are enrolled, it buys them two round-trip plane tickets apiece every year. That can make a big difference to Latino students from the Southwest, [said Parker], because ‘these may be kids who have never been to Massachusetts - maybe kids who have never even been in an airport.’”

The piece drew the attention of a blogger at NBC Latino, who followed up with a piece also featuring Tom Parker. “The last three classes at Amherst have been 42 percent American students of color, including Latinos, and 10 percent non-US citizens … We are just trying to reflect what the U.S. looks like,” he said.


Tiersky asks Chen Guangcheng

Submitted on Tuesday, 6/19/2012, at 9:28 AM

Ronald F. Tiersky, Joseph B. Eastman '04 Professor of Political Science, had a chance to put a question to Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at a May 31 forum hosted by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Tiersky asked Chen about struggles going on within the top leadership between old-style communists and those with a perspective more like Chen’s.

Chen responded, “Everything is in a state of historic transition…the development of civil society in China and how to have it function well after it's established -- that's going to depend on the Chinese people…many people want to move the mountain in one week. That's not realistic. We have to move it bit by bit and start with ourselves. If everybody would do that, then maybe the effect would be very good. But you can't expect it to happen overnight.”


Little White Houses in the News

Submitted on Friday, 6/15/2012, at 9:22 AM

The Boston Globe recently wrote about "The Little White House Project: ‘Dwell in Possibility’," an art installation on the grounds of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The houses, designed by Deerfield Academy student Peter Krasznekewicz, are emblazoned with lines of the poet’s work, painted large. When the exhibit is dismantled at the end of June, materials used in the construction of the houses will be recycled by Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity for a new, actual home.


Stavans on the passing of Carlos Fuentes

Submitted on Thursday, 6/14/2012, at 12:17 PM

After Mexican novelist and essayist Carlos Fuentes died May 15 at the age of 83, National Public Radio and PBS turned to Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, for perspective. He told NPR’s Robert Siegel, “He liked to see Mexico in epic tones and with a very broad brush and scope of things. He used history as the main engine that drove Mexico…The issue of identity for him was crucial. He was forthcoming in the idea that Mexicans were always looking for a collective identity, and he could help them dig in and shape that identity in a clearer fashion.”


Bethune on a Brighter Economy

Submitted on Thursday, 6/14/2012, at 12:15 PM

Brian A. Bethune, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, recently weighed in on hiring surges and unemployment drops reported by the U.S. Labor Department. Noting reports that the United States added 243,000 jobs in January, Bethune told the Associated Press, “This is a very positive employment report from almost any angle.”