In an attempt to provide both basic information about scholarly attribution and a guide to appropriate practices in specific disciplines the student-faculty academic panel published a booklet entitled Originality and Attribution: A Guide for Student Writers at Vassar College, under the general editorship of Assistant Professor of English Robert DeMaria. Dean of Studies Colton Johnson explained that conversations in the residences halls on the topic revealed to the academic panel "a good deal of honest confusion, much ignorance and, sometimes, no evidence of any previous thinking about the reasons for and means of proper attribution of sources in the writing of essays." The Dean explained, said Laurie Wimmer '80 in The Miscellany News, "that 'knowledge has becom so codified that many think that only poetry is original,' and that seemingly everything else 'can be found in 17 places,' precluding the possibility for originaity."
The booklet discussed basic considerations of originality and attribution, and faculty members of the panel contributed guides for proper scholarly attribution in the English, political science, anthropology, biology and history departments. "Dean Johnson said that it is his hope that in future editions...more departments will contribute to this section.... Johnson assured this reporter that 'all of the (guide) is original or with proper attribution.'" The Miscellany News
Four students formed the Vassar Draft Opposition (VDO) in opposition to a possible restoration of the draft, to which President Carter alluded in his State of the Union address. Co-founder of VDO Matthew Miller ‘83 said, “There has never been a registration without a draft and there has never been a draft without a war.” The group and other members of the Hudson Valley Draft Oposition (HVDO) picketed the Army Recruiting Center on Main Street and laid a wreath at the Soldiers' Memorial Fountain in downtown Poughkeepsie a month later, on February 29th.
Speaking to Congress on January 23 about the recent Soviet invasion of Afganistan, Carter said, “I believe that our volunteer forces are adequate for current defense needs, and I hope that it will not become necessary to impose a draft. However, we must be prepared for that possibility. For this reason, I have determined that the Selective Service System must now be revitalized. I will send legislation and budget proposals to the Congress next month so that we can begin registration and then meet future mobilization needs rapidly if they arise.” New York Times, The Miscellany News
Three Vassar students calling themselves the “Disc Hoverers”—Tom Krajna ‘80, Billy Bloom ‘80 and Judy Horowitz ’82— performed Frisbee freestyle before some 12,000 spectators during half-time of a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden. "I get more pleasure out of competitive events," Horowitz told The Miscellany News, "but it's a different type of pleasure when you're in front of a crowd and they react to your freestyle."
The team performed again in the Garden on October 21, 1980, and Horowitz won the World Frisbee Disc championship in 1981 and 1985.
Historian and social critic Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, lectured in Skinner Hall on the evolution of the American Presidency into what he called an imperial presidency.
Schlesinger served in the Kennedy administration and his book about those years, A Thousand Days (1965) won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1977. His The Imperial Presidency (1973), a historical study of the accretion of power by American presidents, declared of President Nixon: “Seizing the possibilities created by forty years of international crisis, the 37th president became the first to profess the monarchical doctrine that the sovereign can do no wrong…. ‘When the President does it, that means that is it not illegal.'” Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Imperial Presidency
The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) held a forum titled “The Decade of Silence is Over” in the Green and Grey Room. Speakers included activist Howard Johnson, professor of black studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz; Harold Jacobs, editor of The Weatherman (1970), an anthology of foundational essays by leaders of the radical activist group; Hudson Valley NYPIRG activist Michael Klein and Carol Hanisch, one of four women responsible for the revival in 1973 of the New York City radical feminist group, the Redstockings, and the author of a formative essay of the movement, “The Personal is Political” (1969).
Also among the speakers was Robin Boyle '80, who called for unity in the "fight against the beast (capitalisim) and not against ourselves." Discussing the recent demonstrations against the Marriott Corporation's plans to build a 400-room resort hotel and 300 condominiums in the Catskills at Lake Minnewaska, Boyle urged, "let us continue to defend Mother Earth against rape as we defend ourselves." The Miscellany News
The Vassar Jewish Students’ Union started a letter writing campaign protesting the arrest and “internal exile” in the Soviet Union of dissident Dr. Andrei Sakharov, Soviet nuclear physicist and winner in 1975 of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The signed letters of protes were sent to United Sates and Soviet leaders, said VJSU President Erica Landsman '81, "because we realized that if the Soviet Union can take actions against Sakharov, a man who is known throughout the world, then theyu can proceed to take any and all unjust poitical actions, whether they be for religious, political or other reasons, against other dissidents.
Sakharov was released and returned to Moscow in December 1986 at the outset of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika policies.
President Smith joined a capacity crowd in the Main Lounge of the College Center to hear a forum sponsored by Vassar Draft Opposition featuring Professor of Political Science M. Glen Johnson, Professor of History Donald Gillen and three student VDO members: Anne LeVeque ‘82, Danny Levine ‘83, and Matt Miller ‘83. Professor Johnson spoke of both the internal pressures within the Carter administration that had elevated the Soviet invasion of Afganistan to "crisis" level and the threats to the Soviets posed by the "Islamic revivalist movement."
The student speakers "spoke about morality and the draft, conscientious objector status and the legal implications of conscription." LeVeque said, “the draft is immoral, unconstitutional and useless.” The Miscellany News
In observance of of National Black History Month, the Dinizulu Dance Company presented a program of traditional African dances. "The lights dimmed and the drumming started," wrote Carly Kline '81 and Nikoi Kote-Nikoi '82. "The dancers filed into the Green and Grey Room dancing, all color and exuberance. The dances, done by men and women both, depicted battle victories, celebrated a harvest or pressed the invincible nature of the South African miners.... The show rose in intensity as it progressed and the audience wanted to participate.... By the end of the show the audience was on its feet, clapping the rhythm as the dancers danced their farewell and raised three fingers about their heads in a gesture of peace."
The company, founded by American Nana Yao Opore Dinizulu and his wife Alice in 1953, replicated the dancing, singing and drumming traditions of the Ashanti people of Ghana. The Miscellany News
In the wake of a year's coverage on the issue by the alternative campus newspaper, Unscrewed, he college bought a fire truck for $10,000 from the Arlington Fire Department to replace its old engine, a 1954 Ford that had difficulty starting, pumping and carrying water. "The old truck," reported The Miscellany News, "served mainly to give the volunteer force a ride to the scene of a fire."
Vassar's fire chief, John J. Phillips, and Robert Kluge, director of plant operations, credited Unscrewed for drawing attention to the need for a new truck, but they discouraged the notion that students or a student organization might purchase the old truck. "Kluge was skeptical," said The Misc., "of the feasibility and legality of auctioning it on campus. He also said that for safety reasons the truck would not by installed as a monument on campus. Since the truck is a veritable antique, many people feel that the college and students could benefit from an imaginative and creative use for the old truck."
As part of the "Rocks of Ages" exhibition, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Lucy Johnson and engineer Are Tsirk, a graduate student at New York University, demonstrated the making stone tools and flint knapping in the College Center. The exhibition, organized by Johnson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Michael Herzfeld and their students in Anthropology 298, combined archeological and experimental artifacts. "Students get practical experience," Herzfeld said, "in handling artifacts. It gives them a sense of historical context, and having a demonstration like this makes it come alive." The Miscellany News
Speaking on “Soviet and American Sports and Journalism” in the Davison lounge, Soviet sports writer and defector Aleksey Orlov said, "I don't understand how anyone could think of holding the Olympics in Moscow." A former baseball writer for the largest Soviet sports newspaper in Leningrad and speaking through an interpretor, Orlov told The Miscellany News, "Every defector has his own personal reasons for Russia, although there are reasons common to all.... Just like anyone else, I wanted to read what I wanted and see the films I wanted."
Because of universally known prior restraints, lack of information and layers of censorship, Russian journalist, he said, "could not tell the truth... Before the embargo on U.S. grain, nobody even knew that the Soviet Union bought our grain, and then they only found out by radio."
Supporting the proposed U.S. boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics, Orlov said, "The Olympics is for amateurs to compete, not professionals. In Russia every sportsman is a professional.... Your hair would stand on end if you read what the Soviet newspapers said about the situation in Afghanistan." When the United Nations General Assembly voted 114-18 that the Soviet's should withdraw from the country, he said, the Soviet press printed only the 18 speeches in favor of the invasion. "In the light of what happened in Afghanistan, I don't understand how anyone could think of holding the Olympics in Moscow." The Miscellany News
Innovative jazz violinist Noel Pointer and his bright blue electric violin "gave a rousing performance" before an audience of 400 in the Chapel. Pointer's music, said Matt Fenton '83 in The Miscellany News, "is a new and interesting form of jazz that contrasts with traditional jazz because of his use of all electronic instruments. The most inventive instrument used, and thus the one that defines the musical breakthroughs of his music, is the electric violin, which was bright blue. Pointer described his music, best, 'You see me freaking off sometimes at the violin.'"Record World magazine named Pointer the #1 New Male Jazz Act for his first album, Phantazia (1977) on Blue Note, and Hold On, Feel It and Calling appeared from the same label in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
Patricia Derian, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, lectured in Taylor Hall, sponsored by the Barbara Bailey Brown Lecture Endowment. An advocate for international human rights and an opponent of United States support of authoritarian anticommunist régimes and the concomitant assumption that it led to democratic change, she published Human Rights: A World Perspective in 1978 and, with Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Four Treaties on Human Rights in 1979.
The Barbara Bailey Brown lectures were funded by the Barbara Bailey Brown Memorial Fund, established in 1966 by the Class of 1932 to commemorate the dedication to international understanding of Barbara Bailey Brown '32.
Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 (1961), Something Happened (1974) and Good as Gold (1979), lectured and read from his books in Skinner Hall. "All my novels," he said, "are the story of a single individual who has difficulty relating to his environment." The hero of his most recent book, Bruce Gold, he told The Miscellany News, based "on my own perceptions of myself," was a college professor who "had no office hours, kept no appointments and favored those students who dropped his courses before the start of the semester.... The only difference between me and Gold is that I'm successful and he's not."
The uncredited writer of the screenplay of the James Bond spoof Casino Royal (1969), Heller adapted Catch 22 for the stage in 1973.
Buckley’s conservative positions on nuclear weapons, homosexuality, apartheid, the Equal Rights Amendment, poverty and civil rights drew student immediate opposition—301 out of 506 seniors signed a petition protesting his selection. On May 19, a few days before Commencement, Buckley withdrew, telling President Smith that "the majority of the senior class of Vassar does not desire my company and I must confess, having read specimens of their thought and sentiments, that I do not desire the company of the majority of the senior class at Vassar." The Miscellany News
Professor of Art Robert F. Thompson from Yale University lectured on “The Transatlantic Tradition; African and Afro-American Art” in Taylor Hall. The master of Timothy Dwight College at Yale, in 1974 Thompson organized the revolutionary African Art in Motion exhibition for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, demonstrating the existence of an African esthetic vocabulary and its importance in the interpretation of African Art. His subsequent exhibit, “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” at which he was at work when speaking at Vassar, introduced in 1981 a large and almost unknown body of works from the former Kingdom of Kongo and demonstrated their influence on the visual culture of the United States.
Professor Thompson's Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy (1983) identified the sources of contemporary Black Atlantic aesthetics in the cultures of Africa, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. He appeared at Vassar under the auspices of the Helen Forster Novy '28 Visiting Scholar Fund.
Sponsored by the Feminist Union, Women’s Weekend 1980 focused—with readings, theatre, music, film and dance—on "Women and Creativity," raising the question “Where are the female Beethovens?”
Highlights of the weekend included feminist folk singer Meg Christian; Toni Morrison, author of The Bluest Eye (1970) and Song of Solomon (1977) and Music by Women, performed by Concerted Effort Inc, an upstate New York non-profit devoted to arts in education. Andrea Weiss, of the national non-profit feminist media arts organization, Women Make Movies, lectured on feminist filmmakers and screened a number of movies. With her colleague Somebody Schiller, Weiss made International Sweethearts of Rhythm (1986) and Tiny and Ruby: Hell Divin’ Women (1989).
The weekend closed with a production of Missing Persons: An Event in Theater, Dance and Music, directed by Rebecca Holderness ’79, Maxine Leeds ’79, Kim Arnn ’79, Carla Jablonski ’78, and Josette Bailey.
Their testimonials were paired with the screening of the film “Survival…Or Suicide (1960). The Miscellany News
A specialist on Viking literature, Gwyn Jones, professor at the University College of South Wales, lectured on “Here Be Dragons: Some Thoughts on Heroic Poetry” in Taylor Hall as part of the “Medieval Weekend in Honor of Julia H. McGrew.” During his talk Jones remarked, “Inside every Swede and Norwegian, there is a Viking trying to get out.”
As part of the weekend honoring Professor McGrew, a medievalist and specialist in Icelandic literature, Professor of German Ingeborg Glier from Yale spoke about her research and Mary Ellen Hubbard ’72 read a paper on the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf at a round-table discussion. Professor Glier spoke at Vassar in 1973 on “Courtly Love Reconsidered.” The Miscellany News
"The more they talked, the more they wanted to talk; a dependency was created," New Yorker correspondent Jane Kramer '59 said in Josselyn House about the "outsiders in Europe" who were the subjects of her forthcoming book, Unsettling Europe (1980). Appearing under the auspices of the Vassar Journalism Forum and the multidisciplinary American Culture Program, Kramer described the four essays in her book: “The Pied Noir,” about a family of North Africans of French origin who returned to live in France; “The Uganda Asians,” a study of an Asian family, the Hassans, living in London after their expulsion by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin; “The Invandrare,” the story of the Predags, friendless Yugoslavs who had lived and worked in Sweden for eleven months a year for eight years while attempting to build a home in their Serbian village; and “The San Vincenzo Cell,” about the elderly Italians Mario and Anna Cecchi, who, after sharing a stone farmstead with sheep and goats for 30 years, were attempting to retire nearby into a small new cement-block house.
Kramer also spoke to some English classes about her book The Last Cowboy (1977), the story of Henry Blanton, a 40-year old Texas cowboy whose lifelong adherance to the storied ways of his work was providing only grim satisfaction. Telling the students that she tended to write about people who were in "disequalibrium with their environments," she said that, in writing about Blanton, "I tried to analyze the malaise people of my generation felt in the 70s. I felt a sense of failed promise, and this attracted me to the cowboy. I think that's what he began to symbolize for me." The Miscellany News
"You've seen it before—but you've never seen it done like this," wrote Meg Inglima '83 about the studio production in Avery Hall of Francis Beaumont's comic "play within a play," The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607), directed by Elizabeth St. John Villard '67. "Under Elizabeth Villard's direction," Inglima said, the play "takes on a marvelous quality of playful innocence."
The second Vassar production of the satiric parody, Villard's mounting was preceded by that in 1938, directed by John Housman—on leave from Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre—and starring President MacCracken and Philip and Hallie Flanagan Davis and their children.
Writing in the The New York Times Book Review, the influential Irish-American critic and teacher Denis Donoghue said of Pinsky’s collection of essays The Situation of Poetry: Contemporary Poetry and Its Traditions (1978), “The mind at work…is lively, fresh, and critical without being obsessed by the rigor of criticism. [Pinsky's] comments are brief, vivid, distinct… and his taste is excellent.”
The drama department performed Christopher Durang’s riotous play A History of the American Film (1978) in the Powerhouse Theater. "Starting with black and white films," said Amy Applebaum '81 in The Miscellany News, "we watch American cinema mature through the immature talkies of the twenties, the adolescent screwball comedies and gangster films of the thirties, the coming [of] age in the forties war films, the prime reached in the probing, psychological movies of the fifties and sixties, and finally into senility with the setting in of disaster films.... There's a rather heavy-handed, though convincing, moral to this story: Americans use the cinema for escape and for answers. It just can't work. Loretta, the orpheline who gets all the tough breaks in life...keeps praying that her scene will fade out, 'The End' will flash before her eyes and she can 'remain frozen behind it forever, and then nothing else can happen.' But the play keeps going on, the scenes switch and the characters must adjust to the social and political changes created by history."
The main characters in the work, Loretta, Jimmy, Bette, Hank, and Eve, mirror archetypes in American films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and are supported by eight “contract players” who play some 60 characters, from Ma and Pa Joad to God, “Victor Henreid,” Salad Chef and Silent Movie Mother. Nominated for a Tony after its Broadway opening in 1978, the play, its author said, was “about how the archetypes in movies express the inner dreams of Americans, and how those dreams started to go sour in the mid-60s and 70s.”
The computer science program held a symposium on cognitive science, focusing on the idea of “context” and the role of symbol in language comprehension. Speakers included: the director of the Artificial Intelligence Project at Yale University, Roger C. Schank; Professor of Philosophy Daniel C. Dennett from Tufts University; Jerre Levy, professor of biopsychology at the University of Chicago; Professor of Psychology Howard Gardner from Harvard and James D. McCawley, professor of linguistics of the University of Chicago.
The Cognitive Science Society was incorporated in 1979, and Vassar's multidisciplinary program in Cognitive Science, inaugurated in 1982, was the first program in the world to offer the bachelor's degree in the field.
Professor Middleton taught at Vassar from 1953-1985. His opera Command Performance, commissioned by Vassar’s centennial committee, premièred in November 1961.
On May 19th, responding to campus protests over his selection as commencement speaker, conservative editor and commentator William F. Buckley Jr. withdrew his acceptance. In a letter to President Smith, a copy of which he sent to The New York Times, Buckley said, “The majority of the senior class of Vassar does not desire my company and I must confess, having read specimens of their thought and sentiments, that I do not desire the company of the majority of the senior class at Vassar.” Calling Vassar students “a fearfully ill-instructed body,” Buckley noted that “I have spoken, I suppose, at 500 colleges and universities in the past 30 years and nowhere have I encountered that blend of ferocious illiteracy.”
Retiring Professor of Biology Francis V. Ranzoni and senior class President Alan Phillips ‘80 spoke at the May 25th Commencement, to which, under their commencement robes, a number of seniors wore T-shirts proclaiming themselves as “ferocious illiterates.”
"It's not that the place wasn't attractive, it just wasn't a Shakespeare Garden," campus horticulturist David Stoller told The Miscellany News, explaining his restoration of the Shakespeare Garden, planted by classes in Shakespeare and botany in 1916. Concerned about the condition of the campus grounds and plantings since his hiring in the fall of 1978, Stoller had pointed out not only the overgrowth of campus landmarks such as Noyes Circle and the Shakespeare Garde and the general lack of proper plant nourishment and drainage but also to damage done by people—and automobiles—taking shortcuts across the lawns, killing the grass and compacting the soil. "Laziness," he had said, "can be highly destructive.... Trees and grass should not be killed and people should be expected to walk a few feet more."
Resigning his post in frustration in the spring of 1980, Stoller reversed his decision in the fall, bouyed by support from strudents, faculty, adminitrators and trustees. While starting a general program of restoration, he focused also on the Shakespeare Garden, removing its overgrown yews—they had, he said, literally outgrown their usefulness—and replacing them with smaller, boxwood hedges. Levelling the garden's lower beds, which had gradually become steeply sloped from erosion, Stoller added a terrace and a stone wall to the south, separating the garden from the adjacent Fonteyn Kill as a "termination point" for the garden. As to the garden's original contents, Stoller noted, "A typical Shakespeare Garden would have at least 100 to 150 varieties of plants mentioned in Shakespeare's works or known during his ear. At the stage I arrived only about a dozen of the plant varieties in the garden actually belonged there."
Davis Stoller's Shakespeare Garden project was scheduled for completion in the fall of 1981.
Lan Hua, a graduate of Dong Normal University in the People's Republic of China (PRC), came to Vassar as the first foreign language intern from the PRC. Although language interns were usually recent college graduates, Lin Hua was 35. "He is probably the youngest intern the PRC could send," said Associate Professor of Chinese Yin-Lien Chin. "In the PRC today there are no 'recent' college graduates. From 1966 to 1976 during the period of the Gang of Four most of the universities in the PRC were closed down." The Miscellany News
In October, 14 students admitted “complicity in the so-called election frauds” said Vice President for Student Affairs Natalie Marshall ‘51 and Vice President for Administration James Ritterskamp. All were placed on probation. The Miscellany News
Shown originally for only one night at some 600 theaters nationwide, the three-hour film, at five dollars a ticket, raised some $3 million for The Martin Luther King, Jr., Special Fund. Nominated for an Academy Award, the film appeared occasionally on television after 1974.
Claiming that "Woody Allen is never done here; the drama department tends to do classics," a new student troupe, Stageblood Productions, presented two of his short works "Death Knocks" and "Mr. Big," as dinner theatre in Matthew's Mug. In the first offering, "Death Knocks," Death, clad in a black robe and Nike running shoes, visits Nat Ackerman, a Brooklyn dress manufactuer. Death loses a gin rummy game while answering or not answering Nat's questions: "What's it like?" "What's what like?" "Death." "What should it be like? You fall down."
In "Mr. Big," adapted by Alan Katz '81 from a short story and, said Pam Keogh '83, writing in The Miscellany News, a "decidedly more abitiious piece," Claire Rosensweig—perhaps a Vassar student—and Kaiser Lupowitz, "a Humphrey Bogart-Sam Spade character" she hires for $100 a day and expenses "plus a dinner date," search New York City for God, in order to add authenticity to a paper on Him for her philosophy class—and because "My dad's promised me a Mercedes if I get straight A's." "The dialogue," Keogh wrote, "is witty and, to the occasionally untutored philosopher, a little hard to follow. But majors and non-majors alike should enjoy this one."
Stageblood Productions continued offering theater presentations in Matthew's Mug of works by, among others, Neil Simon and David Mamet throughout the year.
Stoessinger’s The Might of Nations: World Politics in Our Time (1962) won the prestigious Bancroft Prize in history in 1963.
Florine Stettheimer: Still Lifes, Portraits and Pageants 1910-1942 opened at the Vassar Art Gallery. Organized by the Boston Museum of Contemporary Art, the comprehensive collection of the American artist's work, was, according to Alan Mintermute '81, writing in The Miscellany News, "an elegant, witty and sophisticated celebration of curling line and candy colors of her world of wealth, culture and taste in the New York of the 1920s and 30s." In "Florine Stettheimer: Rococo Subversive" which appeared in Art in America concurrently with the exhibit, art historian Linda Nochlin ’51 called Stettheimer's "camp" outlook "a kind of permanent revolution of self-mocking sensibiltiy against the strictures of a patriarchal tradition and the solemn, formalist teleology of vanguardism."
The opening was attended by Joan Mondale, wife of Vice President Walter Mondale, who was seeking, along with President Jimmy Carter, reelection.
Claiming that Republican candidate Ronald Reagan was "lulling people into apathy," Keke Anderson, speaking at Vassar in support of the independent presidential candidacy of her husband, John Anderson, said, "This country is in trouble!"Telling students that she would be campaigning six days a week in support of her husband, a former ten-term Illinois congressman and political reformer, and his running mate, Patrick Lucey, a former Wisconsin governor and ambassador to Mexico.
Ms. Anderson reported that her husband's "acceptability rating" stood at 62 percent and—according to Daniel O'Brasky '83, writing in The Miscellany News—that "Mr. Anderson is drawing equally from both [President Jimmy] Carter and Reagan in response to Carter's 'A vote for Anderson is a vote for Reagan'...tactics." The Anderson/Lucey ticket lost in a Reagan landslide, garnering only 7 percent of the popular vote.
The newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, Ling Qing, spoke to a capacity crowd in the Rose Parlor about Chinese-US relations, and SUNY New Paltz student Hung Huang, a former announcer for Radio Peking, spoke on the role of students in creating good relations between China and the United States. The ambassador, wrote Elenita Ravicz '84 in The Miscellany News, said that turmoil in Afghanistan and border clashes with Russia made close US-China relations increasingly important, and Hung Huang, concurring, said that many more Chinese students were in America than when she first came to the country seven years ago, at the age of 12. "This is very good," she said, "because the time has come for societies to learn about and accept each other."
Hung Huang graduated from Vassar in 1984.
Vassar pianist and faculty member Todd Crow offered the first musical event in Skinner Hall since the completion of renovations and acoustical refinements costing some $150,000 during the summer and early fall. His program included Beethoven's Andante favori in F Major, Schumann's Sonata No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor, op. 11, Ravel's Miroirs and Bartok's Four Dirges, op. 9a. and Allegro barbaro.
WVKR presented the first in a series of 13 half-hour programs produced by WGBH-Boston and distributed by the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), called Shadows of the Nuclear Age: American Culture and the Bomb. In episodes with such titles as "Seven Hours to Midnight," Hiroshima and Megatons," "Economy of the Arms Race" and "Ethics and Options for a Threatened Planet," the series was broadcast by some 500 stations nationwide.
Writing in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1981, the publication's film editor, Professor of Physics John Dowling, said, "This series is valuable because it brings together many diverse views and opinions on what was and should be done.... I gave all the tapes a serious 'listen,' but the second time through I graded papers, sawed wood and played them in the car—and picked up points I missed the first time. Use them as background in any course on arms control and let the students play them wherever they will. They are very, very good."
"Jersey Jukes Rock Chapel," proclaimed The Miscellany News, when Southside Johnny (John Lyon) and the Asbury Jukes, a musical group from the New Jersey Shore who often performed with Bruce Springsteen, played a sold-out concert in the Chapel. "The group," said The Misc, "played quite a few of its older tunes instead of dwelling on its latest album, 'Why is Love Such a Sacrifice?' Johnny and the band played for well over an hour, and "'We're Having a Party' seemed, of all his songs, to bring the most response from the crowd."
The alumnae/i voted by a large margin not to undertake the poll. AAVC president Kathleen Langan ’46 explained, “the $50,000 necessary for a statistically valid poll is the equivalent to eight full scholarships…. We don’t want to take a poll unless it is statistically valid… [and] we feel the college has better things to do with its money.” The Miscellany News
In his senior thesis production Allen Newman ‘81 revived Bury the Dead (1936), an anti-war play written in his youth by novelist Irwin Shaw. Shaw’s expressionist drama was reviewed by The Miscellany News in May 1936, during it's first New York production. Bury the Dead, wrote "A.K." and "M.B.," "is the work of a 23-year-old Brooklyn boy, Irwin Shaw, who in this, his first play, tells the story of six dead soldiers of 'the war that is to begin tomorrow,' who refuse to be buried. In spite of the united efforts of Washington officials, their women and the Army, to make them lie down in their graves, the six corpses, desirous of the life of which they have been ruthlessly cheated in battle, climb from their trench to cry to an embroiled world the futility of conflict."
Discussing in an interview in The Miscellany News his two reasons for choosing the obscure drama by the celebrated author of such novels as The Young Lions (1948), Lucy Crown (1956) and Rich Man, Poor Man (1969), Newman said, "It's an excellent opportunity for Vassar actors to get a glimpse of what Method Acting theater was. Acting is Doing. The other reason is the theme of the play is 'now.' It's a play about 20-year-olds dying for a cause not their own."
Exposing the plight of black South Africans under apartheid, exiled South African politician and union leader Thozamile Botha told a Vassar audience, "We are fighting for our rights, for the return of our land, which was taken from us by force." "One can see," said The Miscellany News, "the anger in his eyes, and feel the frustration in his voice. When he speaks, his words sting sharply."A leader of the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (PEBCO), and affiliate of the banned United Democratic Front, Botha broke his ban in May 1980 and escaped to Lesotho. With the lifting on the ban on the African National Congress in 1990, Botha returned to South Africa, where he was elected to head the ANC’s Department of Local and Regional Government.
College Chaplain George Williamson, in his 11th year in the office, wrote an open letter to the board of trustees in which he removed himself as a candidate in the chaplaincy search. Williamson wrote, “The recent decisions regarding the Chaplaincy seem to me so to compromise the nature of that office that I cannot in good conscience become a candidate for your open search.” Williamson cited the trustees' rejection of standards for chaplaincy searches and evaluation recommended by both a multiconstituent Chaplaincy Review Committee and the National Association of College and University Chaplains (NACUC). Specifically, he noted that, while neither the review committee nor NUCAC supported the existing mandatory ten-year "rotation" of chaplains, neither did either body support the new five-year automatic open search.
Also, Williamson noted, the new search policy abandoned the NUCAC standards for a diverse search committee that included students, trustees, administrators and faculty members, particularly the chairman of the religion department. "By contrast,' he wrote, "the majority members on the present committee are Trustees. At Vassar, only presidential searches have received so much attention from so many Trustees. To make the chaplain so directly vulnerable to the governing body seriously compromises the calling of the ministry." The Miscellany News
"Everybody has the right to be a schmuck," civil libertarian, jazz critic and columnist Nat Hentoff told a large audience in Taylor Hall when addressing the question: “Is Any Exercise of Free Speech So Dangerous That It Must Be Suppressed?” Applying the notion specifically to the protests at Vassar the previous spring that caused conservative author, editor and television commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., to withdraw, days before the event, as commencement speaker, the author of The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America (1980) applied it to several other examples, such as the American Civil Liberties Union's loss of support after defending the rights of the American Nazi Party. "There is no honest way," Kathy Dieckmann '83 reported Hentoff as saying, "to get around refusing a man the right to speak....One cannot let personal concerns interfere with free speech. Furthermore, he noted, one can't be a liberal just when it's convenient." The Miscellany News.
The Miscellany News for November 14 drew the attention of "lovers , madmen, poets (that includes just about everybody" to the upcoming annual play-reading by the English department—this year Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. "Come," said the notice, "and see what fools these mortals be."
The play, featuring a memorable performance by Professor of English Lynn C. Bartlett as Bottom, was presented on November 20 in the Green and Grey Room.
The Vassar Jewish Students Union and the departments of history and religion presented the documentary film Image Before My Eyes (1981), depicting the lives of Polish Jews before the Holocaust. Intereviewed in October by Karen L. Roach '81 for The Miscellany News, Visiting Professor of English Jerome Badanes, scriptwriter for the film, said, "the subject was part of my background. My parents were Jews from Poland and Russia. Also, I enjoy talking to people for the film—the hardest part was getting them to see their lives with non-Holocaust eyes."
Commisioned by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the film, directed by Josh Waletzky, was shown nationally on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the spring of 1981.
Blegen Distinguished Visiting Professor of Classics W.Bedell Stanford spoke about “The Emotional Power of Greek Tragedy” in Taylor Hall. The pro-chancellor of Trinity College Dublin, Stanford, who argued in Enemies of Poetry (1980) that "creative literature is being used more and more as material for history or archaeology or psychology," was Regius Professor of Greek at Trinity College Dublin for 40 years and a member of the Oireachtas—the Irish parliament— from 1948 until 1969. His Greek Tragedy and the Emotions: An Introductory Study, appeared in 1983.
The Blegen visiting professorship was established in 1975 in memory of Elizabeth Pierce Blegen ’10 and her husband, classicist and archeologist Carl W. Blegen.
Psychologist Dr. Lee Salk spoke about children’s mental health and rights in Taylor Hall. Salk told an audience of students, faculty and psychoanalysts, according to Mary Green '82 writing in The Miscellany News, that the American family "frequently forgets about the rights of children.... early experiences have an impact on later life and may create effects in the child that are irreversible, such as a state of frustration or an alteration of perceptive sensibility.”
Salk extended this psychological concept into the realm of parenting, saying, “What is needed is structure. What is needed is a more ordered life for the child rather than having him work through his problem.... If you push a child younger than three years of age into a child-care institution, you’re pushing him into an atmosphere that will create hostility within the child because he is not equipped with the social abilities needed to cooperate with others.”
The Powerhouse Theatre presented drama instructor Elizabeth St. John Villard ’67’s production of Félix Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna (1619). Based on an historical incident in the late 15th century, the play's action centers of the cruelty of a feudal commander to a rural village, Fuenteovejuna—particularly it's women. When he is murdered by the villagers, under pain of torture they uniformly claim "Fuenteovejuna did it." When no single guilty party is identified, King Ferdinand pardons the village. “There is neither hero nor heroine,” The New York Time wrote of Vassar's 1936 English language première of the play. “Characters merge into a common mass and their actions are strangely prophetic of the twentieth century.”
Villard said that her production pushed the innovative potential of the college's recently opened Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater "to it's limits." "Inherent in Lope de Vega's work," wrote Joan Moynagh '81 in The Miscellany News, "are two basic dichotomies—one which exists on a psychological level (that of the townspeople and the rulers) and one on a physical level (that created by the separate worlds in which they exist.) The conflicting forces in Villard's production are clearly articulated in the set, lighting and costume designs." Set designer Thaddeus Gesek told Moynagh, "we've divided the stage and audience equally, and have raised the nobility up on platforms while keeping the peasants on the ground level."
"During the scenes in which the aristocrats communicate with the townsfolk," Moynagh wrote, "the use of the two levels provides a striking, almost haunting contrast. Because the seating and acting areas are interspersed, the audience actually becomes a physical participant in the drama which makes for what Villard calls an 'environmental theater' situation." The Miscellany News