Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Find Me a Roomate

Submitted on Thursday, 8/30/2012, at 12:19 PM

Amherst College has lately been getting attention from numerous media outlets for its low-tech, old-school and winning method of matching student roommates.

“The experience of being in a small residential college in New England is about negotiating what it means to live with another person,” Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life Torin Moore told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “For many, it's their first year away from their families, and it's important for us to get it right. This is someone you're living with day by day, someone you can grow and learn with.”

“Students at this age are often going to look for somebody they're going to feel comfortable with because they're just like them...We're going to look to really mix it up,” said Pamela Stawasz, assistant housing director, in an interview with USA Today.

“It’s cool to be introduced to new types of people,” Tom Sommers ‘16 told The Boston Globe, in a piece picked up by United Press International.

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Stavans Knows Spanglish

Submitted on Thursday, 8/30/2012, at 11:34 AM

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered spoke with Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, about Spanglish being acknowledged in the 2014 edition of the Royal Spanish Academy’s dictionary (under the entry “Espanglish”). He noted that Latinos have held onto their native language --or at least a version of it-- much more effectively than other immigrant groups retained their native tongues, partly because they can easily keep in touch with where they came from.

"Latinos are not losing the Spanish language, but they are not keeping it in a pure form. And this impure form is a language that has been around for over 150 years,” he said. "For someone who is Latino and lives in San Antonio or in New York City for that matter or in Chicago, it's very easy [to keep in touch with the home country]. It's very cheap as well. And so we are a very movable population. We never really cut the umbilical cord."

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Joseph Meyer '13: Future Space Lawyer?

Submitted on Thursday, 8/30/2012, at 11:30 AM

Joseph Meyer '13 spent this summer at NASA's History Program Office. He and fellow intern Jessica Brodsky, who attends Brown University, created a 12-minute video introducing key moments in the history of the American space program, using historical footage, photographs and audio files. The pair narrated the video while wearing mock-up spacesuits. Over the summer internship they also created an interactive Web page about artifacts on the moon as well as an iTunesU site. Meyer told NASA’s Public Affairs Office he would like to work in space law or policy.

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Corrales on Gay Rights in Colombia

Submitted on Thursday, 8/30/2012, at 11:13 AM

Javier Corrales, professor of political science, was among the experts commenting in a recent Washington Post story about a lesbian couple in Colombia seeking legal recognition of their rights as a couple and parents. The Post wrote that Corrales, “who has closely studied the gay rights movement across several countries, said the region may be on the cusp of a revolution. But he described fierce pockets of resistance across the Americas, places where homophobia and violence are common.”

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Cullen Murphy Elected Chairman of Trustees

Submitted on Wednesday, 10/3/2012, at 9:48 AM

The Associated Press reported the news that writer and journalist Cullen Murphy has been elected chairman of the Amherst College Board of Trustees. The story was picked up by media outlets from Boston to San Francisco.

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Stavans: Reclaiming Travel

Submitted on Monday, 7/16/2012, at 12:13 PM

Why do we travel? And do we do it well anymore? Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture Ilan Stavans and his co-author Joshua Ellison, editor of the literary journal Habitus, recently took up those questions in an opinion piece for the New York Times. They lamented, “We have turned travel into something ordinary, deprived it of allegorical grandeur. We have made it a business: the business of being on the move. Whatever impels us to travel, it is no longer the oracle, the pilgrimage or the gods. It is the compulsion to be elsewhere, anywhere but here... travel is a search for meaning, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. The humility required for genuine travel is exactly what is missing from its opposite extreme, tourism.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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