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New York Times reporter slated for Alumni Writers Series

Posted on Mar 31, 2008

Neil A. Lewis ’68, a correspondent for The New York Times, will speak on campus Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. as part of The English Department’s Writers Return: The Alumni Writer Series.

The event will be held at Emerson Auditorium in the Taylor Music Center. A reception will follow. 

Lewis will also be speaking and taking questions about journalism at a luncheon on Wednesday, April 9, 12:30-2 p.m. in Humanities 115. 

Lewis has been a correspondent at The Times since 1985. He has covered presidential elections, the State Department, judicial nominations and legal affairs, and he broke the story about prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He has reported on a number of major trials, the most recent being that of Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted in a CIA identity leak.

He is co-author, with fellow reporters Tim Weiner and David Johnston, of “Betrayal” (Random House, 1996), a book about Aldrich Ames, a CIA officer-turned-spy. The book has been called “The inside story of the biggest molehunt in the history of American intelligence.”

After graduation from Union, Lewis obtained an M.S.L. degree from Yale Law School. He has worked as a correspondent in England and South Africa for Reuters, the British-based news agency.

Those interested in attending Wednesday's luncheon are encouraged to contact English Prof. April Selley at selleya@union.edu.

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Union College Greeks target better image

Posted on Mar 31, 2008

The fraternities and sororities at Union College want to be known as more than just social clubs.

Timothy Dunn, director of fraternity and sorority affairs for the college, said Greeks at Union are tackling issues such as climate change and social responsibility.

The activities they are involved in include helping to renovate a house on Barrett Street for Habitat for Humanity and raising money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital and others. Dunn wants to expand those efforts.

“There has not been as much of a push for that in recent years before I got here,” he said.

Dunn, a native of Abilene, Texas, has been on board since late October after a short stint as adviser to fraternities at the University of Georgia and was assistant director of residential life at the University of Hartford from 2004 to 2007.

He noted that not many colleges have a separate administrator for Greek activities. A fraternity man himself – Kappa Alpha Psi – Dunn said Union College already has a strong program upon which to build. There are 17 Greek organizations at the college. Only sophomores, juniors and seniors can participate in Greek life at Union and about 47 percent of those eligible do, including about 374 men and almost 300 women.

Dunn's hiring last fall was just the latest step in a series of changes that the college has made to Greek life on campus. In 2001, Union College adopted a new alcohol policy to ban hard liquor at parties and cap at 100 the number of students attending parties where alcohol would be served, and implemented strict rules regarding the serving of alcohol.

The college in 2004 moved three fraternities – Sigma Phi, Psi Upsilon and Chi Psi – from their on-campus houses to convert them into the Minerva houses, which are houses that students and faculty can use for special social events. At the time, college officials said they did not want the Greek system to be the only source of social interaction on campus.

Stephen Leavitt, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said the college a few years back had debated whether to retain a Greek life presence, which dates back more than 200 years as Union started one of the first fraternities. It decided ultimately to continue these clubs. “We really needed to have someone whose full job was to work with these organizations to help them really be something we can be proud of,” he said.

Leavitt said Greek events sometimes involve alcohol and the potential to get involved in fights and other problems. In 2005, the Chi Psi fraternity was suspended for two years after a student became intoxicated and was sent to the hospital.

Incidents like that are why these organizations need to be aware of alcohol issues and act responsibly. He added that Dunn has already helped students run their events in a more responsible way.

Fraternities and sororities receive training about the proper way to serve alcohol at functions, Dunn said. All students age 21 and older are required to have wrist bands to show they can be served alcohol. They also must be served from a bar and there can be no open access to alcohol. Students also receive proper training on keeping noise levels down and being considerate neighbors.

The training appears to have paid off, as there have been fewer items in the news about wild parties.

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“Silk Spaces” on view at Humanities Gallery

Posted on Mar 31, 2008

Works from the “Silk Spaces” series by Schenectady artist Arlene Baker are now on view in the Aesthetic Division exhibition at the Humanities Gallery, running through June 12.

“Silk Spaces”

Baker explores horizons, color and veils with the application of opaque layers of gouache on paper that are then mounted on foam core board. These paintings are literally veiled; the surfaces are layered with diaphanous material, or “painted” with silk using a uniform 8” x 20” format.       

A former artist-in-residence at Union, Baker studied art at City College of New York. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Peter Busa, a founding member of the abstract expressionist movement. She earned master’s of art and master’s of fine art degrees from the University of Iowa.

Baker did post-graduate training in London. She has exhibited widely and regularly returns to London to work with the Barbican Arts Group, an artists’ collective. She began the first Silk Space painting in 1990 while working with the collective.

The Humanities Gallery is located on the second floor of the Humanities Building, opposite the entrance of Memorial Chapel. It is open weekdays 2 to 5 p.m.

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Poems by Jordan Smith published

Posted on Mar 31, 2008

Jordan Smith

Works by Jordan Smith, professor of English, have been published in several poetry journals. Included in Western Humanities Review (Winter 2008) are “The Abstract Expressionist Has a Vision of Graves’ White Goddess, 1954”; “Yes, Wagner, Yes, Again”; “Egypt”; and “Tosca in Mexico.” Smartish Pace includes “How I Failed Him” and “For His Biographer.”

The pieces in Two Review are “Nantucket Reds,” “Class Analysis” and “Listening to Lew Welch Read ‘Twelve Hermit Poems.’” And The Yale Review has published “Herbal.”

Smoth is the author of five collections of poetry and a chapbook, Three Grange Halls, which was a winner of the Swan Scythe Press award. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.Here’s a sampling of his work:

“Egypt,” by Jordan Smith

Western Humanities Review (Winter 2008).

That’s the town’s name, like Ovid, Mycenae,

Sodom, even—that’s what happens when the auto-

Didacts settle the place, sacred texts in hand, and barely

A thought to what’s under foot, these glacial fieldstones,

Say, tumbled like fallen obelisks, glyphs scratched

Down their faces, that he’s gathering in the wheelbarrow

For the garden wall, a folly, pure symbol, but what

Might last as long? The Greek Revival house he bought

In the 60’s, gutted out and replastered, everything done

The old way, or as much as the building code allowed,

After the divorce, after he left teaching to set up

As a craftsman, the lathe and chisels in the old barn

A woodstove warmed, after the classes in meditation

And sacred movement—all these afters, and never

A glimmer of might come next. It’s all hills here,

Not much sun gets through so late in autumn,

Beyond the shop and fallow orchard, although the little

Mansions are rising there now, and the mall traffic,

And there is something dispiriting about the turner’s

Work, all that whittling away, the pile of chips for the fire,

In the service of what?—form, he thinks, the shape

The wood was meant to take, but how often has he sanded,

Patched and painted, finally replaced the fluted porch

Pillars? He has a pair of rough work gloves, a checked

Wool shirt. He looks, he thinks, like any local, before

Local meant nothing lasting, and he has decided

On a monument that hardly anyone will notice, so

Anonymous that when it falls, it will still show the maker’s

Hand, the cold and implacable grinding of stone on stone

The earth sets off by simply turning, turning until

Nothing is left except what’s never enough.

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Colombian filmmaker to discuss his work

Posted on Mar 31, 2008

Victor Gaviria, an award-winning, internationally known film producer and director, comes to campus for a screening of his 2004 film, “Sumas y Restas (Medellín: Additions and Subtractions),” Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 6 p.m. in Reamer Center Auditorium.

Gaviria film

Gaviria, who has been called "a poet of light, movement and sound," is noted for his powerful portrayals of daily existence in the poor neighborhoods and streets of Medellín, Colombia, and of his exploration of the ways in which drug cultures have filtered into the social, political and economic fabric of modern, postindustrial Colombian cities.

“He is admired for his insistent use of non-professional or natural actors and natural settings,” said Daniel Mosquera, associate professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies.

“Sumas y Restas” tells the story of an engineer who gets involved in drug trafficking in Medellín in the 1980s. Gaviria’s other feature films include “Rodrigo D., No Future” (1990) and “La Vendedora de Rosas, (The Rose Seller,” 1998, official selection at the Cannes Film Festival). 

Tuesday’s screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception at Beuth House.

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