New York City Department of Law counselor Lorna Bade Goodman ’63 spoke about New York City legal cases relating to AIDS. Goodman spoke on the Board of Education’s policies around excluding children with AIDS from attending city public schools, as well as the case of the city’s closure of the St. Marks Bath on East 8th Street as a place where “high-risk sexual activities” took place. Goodman responded to accusations that the city was purposely using the bathhouse closure to target gays. “The Mayor is very sensitive to the concerns of the gay community,” Goodman told those in attendance.    The Miscellany News

A panel discussion in the Chapel on “Sports and the Press: How Newspapers and Other Media Do and Should Cover Baseball” included the former president of the American League, Lee MacPhail; New York Yankee batting coach and former player Roy White; New York Mets announcer and former Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals player Tim McCarver; the executive vice president of the American League, Robert Fishell and sports reporter Mike Lupica of The New York Daily News.

The panel discussed drug testing and media treatment of baseball players. MacPhail voiced the opinion that, because they were in the public eye, players must “voluntarily give up a piece of your individual rights – this is asking very little.” McCarver echoed that opinion, “The game is as close to heaven as you can get. It is an unhealthy atmosphere.”    The Miscellany News

Co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and Queens College Professor of Political Science Michael Harrington, author of The Other America (1962), lectured on “The New American Poverty” in the Villard Room. Said Harrington, “There are now more poor people in America…than when Johnson started his war on poverty.” In response to these problems, Harrington called for a political move to the left, saying “the conservative period in American life is about to end.”     The Miscellany News

Harrington spoke at Vassar in November 1972.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation released a report citing 104 “hazardous waste” locations in the state, among them the “Vassar College laboratory dump.” The report alleged that the college’s biology labs may have dumped hazardous waste on Vassar farm.

Director of Facilities Operations at Vassar Farm Stephen R. Saulis responded, “I’ve checked with everyone and their brother….There is no validity to this [report].”     The Miscellany News

On June 17, 1986, Vassar was removed from the list of the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in New York State.

The Energy Council reported that as a result of an Energy Management Program, Vassar had used 34.4% less energy in 1984-85 than in 1981-82—saving over $1.4 million.
Approximately 400 people lined up each night at the Vassar Observatory to view Halley’s Comet, which had last appeared in 1910 and would not appear again until 2061.
The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated as a national holiday for the first time. Vassar observed the day with a screening of a documentary about King’s life sponsored by the Africana Studies Program, the Students’ Afro-American Society, the Gospel Choir and the advisor to minority students Sheila Thomas. However, some members of the campus community expressed concern and disappointment that the college had not done more in observing the holiday. And added objection was—the first day of the semester having fallen on the newest national holiday—that the day's classes were not cancelled. The Miscellany News, calling it “business as usual” at the college, wrote that “It is vital that our generation, no more than five years old when King was assassinated, be reminded of his work not merely as a facet of history but as a dream which continues to call to the nobler aspect of all people.”

Five members of the Debate Society—Dan Blum ’89, Evan Brenner ’89, Scott Cooper ’87, Anne Louise Gibbins ’89 and Scott Kirkpatrick ’87—argued for 100 hours in a continuous Parliamentary Debate in the Villard Room, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The resolution sponsored by the team of Brenner and Blum, "The government that governs best governs least," was opposed by the team of Cooper and Gibbons, with Kirkpatrick acting as speaker of the house.

Interviewed midway through the marathon, Blum observed, "We have debated abortion, capital punishment, the monetary system...Laura Ashley, garbage disposal and childbirth... All these topics must eventually relate back to teh original question." Gibbons added, "After we heard Kirk [Kirkpatrick] snore, we even raised the issue of respiratory difficulties." The longest speech of the five days was given by Blum, who spoke at one point for over almost four hours. Said Blum, “I have the biggest mouth…and can speak for the longest time without really saying anything.”

In the debate's final hour Vassar President Virginia Smith, the New York State chief of protocol and spokesperson for Governor Mario Cuomo Frederica Goodman and Thomas Aposporos, the mayor of Poughkeepsie, observed its conclusion.     The Miscellany News

The Film Committee held an Erotica Weekend, showing Last Tango in Paris (1972), In the Realm of the Senses (1976) and Café Flesh (1982). Though they enjoyed a very high turnout – filling Blodgett Auditorium nearly to capacity – the screenings elicited varied responses. “I couldn’t find any real redeeming quality in the film,” one student said of Last Tango in Paris, “It was low budget, and Brando’s acting and character turned me off…You can see that kind of movie at any sleazy theater in the city.” Others, however, said they had enjoyed the event, “Last Tango is a classic, and it was really done well…I’m all for weekends of this sort. There is a genre of erotica, and it should have as much legitimacy as any art form,” another student told The Miscellany News.
An exhibition of contemporary work by Hudson Valley artists, curated by John Yau and Thomas Nelson of the Albany Institute of History and Art, opened in the Vassar Art Gallery. The exhibit included work by Phillip Allen, David Coughtry, Alex Martin, Joseph DiGiorgio, Katherine Doyle, Alan Gussow, Donald Nice and Bill Sullivan. “Over the past half decade art has been characterized by great diversity. Much of that diversity is shown in this exhibition,” Emily Tobias ’89 wrote of the show for The Miscellany News, “The works chosen range from clear, crisp landscaped to interpretive collage to abstract forms or shapes creating a landscape.”

In a recital in Skinner Hall, Associate Professor of Music Blanca Uribe, pianist, performed Bach’s Partita in C minor, BWV 826, Beethoven’s Sonata in A flat Major, Op. 110, selections from Isaac Albeniz’s Suite Iberia, and the world première of Fixations, by Professor of Music Richard Wilson. The Bach Partita, reported Linda Leigh Smith '86 in the Miscellany News, "displayed Uribe's versatility as she moved with ease through its contrasting movements," while the applause for her performance of the Beethoven sonata called the pianist back for "a second bow."

Professor Wilson's Fixations, a suite he described as an attempt "to give shape to musical ideas that are amorphous and fleetiing in their incipient state," consisted of of three pieces, "Bird in Space," "Shadowings" and "Flashback." The recital's final section was three pieces from the Iberia suite of Isaac Albeniz.  "The recital," Smith concluded, "allowed for an exciting evening in both its content and the art of its world-reknowned performer."

The Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after lift-off, killing the crew aboard: Francis Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe.

President Smith had served on a panel that aided in the selection of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, for this mission.

The Committee to Locate Alternate Social Space opened a part-time non-alcoholic nightclub in the Aula for a three week trial. “This can only be good and has been sorely needed for years,” said committee member Rick Singer ‘87. “However, if people do not show up for the first few weeks the Administration might get the impression that this is not a popular idea.” The club's first weekend was well-attended; the Aula hosted 635 on Thursday, 945 on Friday and 705 on Saturday.

Despite some difficulties from its location in an academic building, offering a wider range of entertainment and an ambiance, as one student put it, "much more like New York City night club atmosphere," the non-alcoholic club flourished in the Aula until 1994, when funds were secured to develop student entertainment space in the underused second floor of the Students' Building.  The Miscellany News

The African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock performed songs with social messages, commenting on women’s issues, civil rights, apartheid in South Africa and commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. “You can steal my tongue/ But someone else gonna sing my song,” the group sang in Echo, a modern gospel work about the Wilmington 10 and one of the hardest hitting pieces of the evening.    The Miscellany News

In preparation for the concert the Joseph Camp’s video profile of the group, Gotta Make This Journey (1983), was shown the preceding week.

At the recommendation of the faculty, the board of trustees voted to abolish the 60 per cent tenure ceiling. Professor of Political Science Richard Willey, a member of the Faculty Appointments and Salary Committee (FASC) explained that “The tenure ceiling would be terribly demoralizing to younger faculty who came out and worked without any or a slim chanced of being tenured.”     The Miscellany News

Daniel Kunene, professor of African languages at the University of the West Indies; Edgar Tidwell, humanities fellow at Yale University and Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies Constance Berkley participated in a panel discussion on “A Literature Round Table: The Politics of Literature” in the Villard room. Speaking about apartheid in South Africa, Kunene said, “The first function of art [is] to stir society out of complacency…We cannot go from this war to peace. War has moved from the battlefield to an ideological frond on which the heroes and new warriors are intellectuals and educators.”   The Miscellany News

The Student Coalition Against Apartheid staged a sit-in in President Smith's office, claiming that Vassar, instead of divesting, had increased the amount of stock it held in apartheid-supportive companies.

The same day, the Trustee Investor Responsibility Committee approved a divestment timetable by which the college would rid itself of South Africa-related stock.

The trustees approved an increased in the comprehensive fee of  $1,000 (7.46%) for the 1986-87 academic year, bringing the fee to $13,600.

Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Anthony Stellato accounted for the increase in an all-campus letter: “There are a number of reasons why the increases in college costs continue to outpace inflation. As we continually review every phase of the college’s operations for possible efficiencies, we have to keep in mind that maintaining quality in education prevents a college from taking the same steps as a business or a cooperation for improving productivity.”     The Miscellany News

Chair of the Board of Trustees Mary Draper Janney ’42 announced that Bucknell University provost and vice president for academic affairs Frances Daly Fergusson would succeed the retiring Virginia Smith as Vassar’s ninth president, effective July 1, 1986. Fergusson, Janney said, “values the faculty-student relationship as central to the educational enterprise in an undergraduate college….Most importantly, she fits Vassar.”

At a news conference on campus, Fergusson—a graduate of Wellesley with a PhD in art history from Harvard—praised Vassar for resisting current trends towards specialization and career-oriented courses and for adhering to the “strong liberal arts tradition,” adding that this particularly attracted her to the college: “instead of predetermination there is exploration with a desire to see what else a student can learn and can become, to move away from replicating the past.”     The New York Times

Professor Ali Mazrui from the University of Michigan lectured on "Africa and Global Reform: In Search of a New World Order."  The former director of Michigan’s Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, Dr. Mazrui’s presentation of the BBC’s Reith Lectures in 1979 appeared from Cambridge University Press as The African Condition: A Political Diagnosis (1980), and his The Africans: A Triple Heritage was published in 1986. Mazrui discussed his motivations in producing his various oral and written works. He described his move to the United States in 1973 as having “globalized my perspectives. It is as though I had climbed to the top of the world and could suddenly see all over.”

Dr. Mazrui returned to Vassar in November to show and speak about the documentary film series, The Africans: A Triple Heritage (1986).

Writer-in-residence and O. Henry award winner James Salter read from his works, including an upcoming “autobiographical piece,” in Taylor Hall. Salter spoke of his journey from West Point and his position as a fighter pilot to a journalist and author, and responded to his reputation as “a writer’s writer”: “I still have hopes of emerging from that distinguished position,” the author said.

Salter’s memoir, Burning the Days appeared in 1997.

A lecture by Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 until 1980, "Prospects for Third World Self-Reliance in the 1990s," surveyed the history of Jamaica, its dealings with the International Monetary Fund and the economic problems faced by Third World countries. During his speech, Manley proposed an “international conference on debt” to “bring together debtors and lenders.”     The Miscellany News

The stage adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio drama Under Milk Wood, directed by Tim Licata ‘86, was performed at the Powerhouse Theater. “The absurdity of the many lives, and the oddity of the characters all add to the lull by which Under Milk Wood takes the audience in. The play’s characters each have an element of tragedy in them and each of the actors does a fabulous job of creating them.”     The Miscellany News

The Energy Resource Management Company conducted tours of the campus power plant for Vassar students in order to raise awareness about energy conservation and consumption.
Novelist and filmmaker Jerome Badanes, visiting lecturer in religion, American culture and urban studies, gave a reading from his novel in Rocky 300.  Bandanes wrote the script for the 1981 documentary of Jewish life in Poland before World War II, Image Before My Eyes, and his novel, The Final Opus of Leon Solomon, was published in 1989.
Philaletheis presented Shakespeare’s The Tempest, into which director Michael Astor ‘87 infused elements of 1986, including day-glo colored costumes and choreographed dance interludes. Tom Beller ‘87, in his review of the show for The Miscellany News, commented, “While the play flirted with boredom for a few frightening moments here and there, it was, in the end, a fun play to watch… [the cast] preformed with an energy that would carry almost any play to success.”

During the spring trustee meeting on campus, student life meetings, open forums previously held to allow students to speak to trustees, were replaced by informal lunches.

Chair of the Board Mary Draper Janney ’42 explained, “The Trustees discussed this luncheon at some length, and decided it is informal, relaxed and provides a good interchange between Trustees and students.”     The Miscellany News

The college stopped payment to the firm that designed and built the Seeley G. Mudd Chemistry Building due to energy conservation problems in the structure and design of the building. “We have been retaining a portion of the amounts for which we have been billed,” Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Anthony Stellato said, “pending resolution of the problems.”     The Miscellany News

Vassar held a conference on world hunger, “Hunger: The Ethical Challenge of Our Time,” including lectures, films, readings, a canned food drive, a “Hunger Benefit concert” and an Oxfam marathon. M.R.C Greenwood, Biology professor and co-chair of the conference, hoped the conference would examine “the causes and possible solutions” to world hunger, to “both educate and encourage further action.”     The Miscellany News

U.S. Representative Mickey Leland of Texas, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Select Committee on Hunger, spoke in the Villard Room about “the Great Dimensions of Hunger” to open the conference.

Other speakers included Raymond Hopkins, the co-author of Global Food Interdependence: Challenge to United States Policy (1980); the program coordinator at Oxfam America Joel Charney; Adrienne Germain, former director of Ford Foundation programs in Bangladesh and officer of International Women’s Health Coalition and Mal Nesheim, the president of the American Institute of Nutrition.

Associate Professor of English Eamon Grennan and Lecturer in English Nancy Willard read from their works.
President Reagan signed the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Act (COBRA), requiring students to provide more proof when applying for federal educational aid; the new law led to a “practical standstill” in dealing with aid applications said Director of Financial Aid Michael Fraher.
Cartoonist and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, was announced as the 1986 Commencement Speaker.
Local 1120 of the Communications Workers of America—created when Vassar secretaries, nurses, and technicians unionized in December of 1985—began negotiations with the Vassar administration. A tentative accord was reached on August 22, averting a planned August 25th strike.

Metcalf Counselor Cathy Comins and students Alexandra Carter ’88 and Rosalind Olden ’89 announced plans to develop an “acquaintance rape” education program to be implemented during the upcoming fall freshman orientation.

In 1989, Comins was appointed as the new administrator to deal with sexual violence and harassment on campus, responsible for “direct education on issues of rape and violence, to plan crisis prevention efforts, to coordinate recovery services, an, as time permits and circumstances require, to address other issues of harassment.”     The Miscellany News

Author, pacifist and feminist Grace Paley, winner of the 1983 Edith Wharton Award, visited campus for three days, giving a reading, teaching a writers’ workshop and leading a discussion with her husband, poet and novelist Robert Nichols, on “Being an Urban Writer.”

“I think all writers are basically regional,” Paley told the audience, “There’s no getting away from what I am, which is New York and Jewish…Texas writers are Texas writers, but that doesn’t make them less interesting to me.”    The Miscellany News
Vassar College Television (VCTV) presented its first program, consisting of features, news and sports; the broadcast was followed by a celebratory party in the Aula.

As part of the Career Center’s Executive-in-Residence program and in conjunction with the Women’s Studies Program, Denise Davidoff  '53, the founder and director of the advertising, marketing and public relations agency, Automatrix Inc., lectured on "Making Choices, Making Waves, Making a Difference.” The purpose of a career, Davidoff said, was to “Enable us to make money, give us satisfaction along with freedom, and give us the skills to make ourselves known and heard in the world.”     The Miscellany News

The Africana Studies Department organized a march, attended by 40 students and faculty, to protest “the lack of black faculty presence on campus” and the alleged harassment faced by black students.
Vassar’s synchronized swimming club, the Swuppers, presented “Splashing Through The Decades.” The club, which was formed in 1934 by a group of students who would swim together and then eat supper after, was made up of ten women with various levels of synchro expertise. “It’s an appealing sport, exceedingly demanding;” said club advisor Jean Appenzellar. “The athlete must have a tremendous perception of position in space. It’s an opportunity to work out and yet be expessive with a wide range of movement.”

Former Illinois Congressman John B. Anderson, independent presidential candidate in the 1980 election, was the keynote speaker for Sophomore Parents weekend. In his address, Anderson cautioned against too much individualism, saying “The banner of self interest to which we are marching today…is leading us away from the values…that held use together.”     The Miscellany News

Anderson’s wife, Keke, had spoken at Vassar in October of 1980, in support of his presidential campaign.

Women’s Week celebrated the theme “Sisterhood is Global” with lectures, a concert, a reading, a potluck dinner and a discussion.

Robin Morgan, author of Sisterhood is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology (1984) spoke on “The Politics of International Sisterhood.” Morgan dismissed the “myth” that feminism was only a “white woman’s movement;” instead, she contended that it was “indigenous to every country and culture.”     The Miscellany News

The next day, Egyptian feminist Faiza Blashak spoke about feminism in the Middle East.

The mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, answered questions from students on issues ranging from his views on Nicaragua to whether children with AIDS should attend public schools. On the topic of plans to make Staten Island a “home port” for U.S. Navy ships that would be capable of transporting nuclear weapons, a plan that some felt threatened the security of the city, Koch said, cited the many existing threats to the city, “The city of New York, the international capital of the world, must surely be the number one target in the event of war with the Soviet Union. …Are we not part of the United States? We must do our part.”    The Miscellany News

The VSA Council issue a statement opposing the creation of a new post, director of religious and chaplaincy services (DRACS), to take the place of a chaplain. The statement expressed “great displeasure with the Trustees’ solely engaging in dialogue with the faculty and in no way with the student body whom this new program most directly affects.”  Protests about the decision also came from some student religious organizations.     The Miscellany News

The position and its title were subsequently changed, the post become that of director of religious and spiritual life.

Students from Vassar, Marist, and Dutchess Community Colleges protested IBM involvement with the apartheid government of South Africa by picketing, blocking and chaining the doors of the IBM building in Poughkeepsie. The protesters yelled “IBM you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”

Ten Vassar students and three students from Marist and Dutchess Community Colleges were arrested during the demonstration. Charges against them were eventually dropped.

Thirty-nine percent of all students on the meal plan fasted, raising over $1,500 in the Hunger Action fast. The fast, along with a benefit concert, and marathon marked the end of the semester’s All College Program on Hunger. Christine Mokhtarian ’88, coordinator of the event, contributed the high level of participation to “more publicity and…all the events for the hunger conference.” However, she, and other students involved in planning the semester’s events, were disappointed overall by their fellow students’ response. “It doesn’t affect them,” said Elizabeth Corbett ’88, “They don’t want to put the time in.”      The Miscellany News
The Vassar College Choir performed Handel’s oratorio Jephtha in Skinner Hall along with an orchestra of “some of the best freelancing musicians in New York City,” and a solid group of soloists. “Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the afternoon was the Vassar College Choir which fully exploited the choruses of the oratorio, featuring some of Handel’s greatest choral writing. Throughout the performance the choir’s diction was wonderfully clear, and…the energy level was always high.”    The Miscellany News

The Task Force on Racism held a race relations discussion about whether racism was institutionalized at Vassar. Said panel participant Karen Roberts ‘86, “In my opinion, I would say racism does exist at every level [on campus]…At some levels it isn’t overt racism, but it’s covert.”

Another student said, “I have black friends on campus and if I approach them while they are with a group of their black friends I feel as if my friend has to approve me—to let the other friends know I’m alright.”     The Miscellany News

Filmmaker, painter and sculptor Nancy Graves '61 visited the campus as the President’s Distinguished Visitor. During her visit, Graves led a tour of her workspace at the Tallix Foundry in Beacon, NY, and gave a talk entitled "From Bones to Bronze" in Taylor Auditorium. “Graves has taken scupture down from its pedestal and forced us to look down at it,” reported The Miscellany News on her work.

While on campus, Graves participated in a panel discussion about her work with Associate Professor of Anthropology Judith Goldstein, Lecturer in Art Harry Roseman and Professor of Philosophy Jesse Kalin, and she attended the opening of the Vassar Art Gallery exhibit Nancy Graves: Painting, Sculpture and Drawing 1980-1985.  The exhibit was the subject of a panel discussion that included the guest curator of the exhibit, Debra Balken; Linda Nochlin ’51 Distinguished Professor of Art History at the City University of New York Graduate Center; Tallix Foundry owner Robert Polich; Professor of Art History Robert Rosenblum of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and Michael Shapiro, curator of the St. Louis Art Museum.

Graves was the first artist to be selected as President’s Distinguished Visitor.  Curator Debra Bricker Balken published Nancy Graves: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, 1980-85 in 1986.

Former Vassar English professor Harriet Hawkins lectured on "From King Lear to King Kong and Back: Shakespeare and Modern Genres" in New England Building.  Hawkins’s The Devil’s Party: Critical Counter-Interpretations of Shakespearian Drama (1985) was followed by Classics and Trash: Traditions and Taboos in High Literature and Popular Modern Genres (1990).

Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by Clifford Evanson ‘86, was performed in the Aula. Tom Beller ‘87, reviewing the production for The Miscellany News, found “The production excelled when the actors shed some of the noticeable self-consciousness of being involved with such a profound and complicated script and fell back on their natural talent.”

Written in 1944, Brecht’s play was first performed by students at Carleton College in Minnesota.  The first professional production was in Philadelphia in 1948, under the direction of its translator, Eric Bentley.
Mary Draper Janney ’42, chair of the board of trustees, hosted a reception in the Villard Room to honor the retiring President Virginia Smith. The faculty held a party for the same purpose on May 4th.
At Vassar’s 122nd commencement, speaker Garry B. Trudeau, creator of the popular Doonesbury comic strip, encouraged Vassar students to question the Strategic Defense Initiative, called “Star Wars.” “Science,” Trudeau said, “since it leads to knowledge, has all too frequently led its practitioners to believe that it is inherently self-justifying, that there is nothing dangerous about splitting atoms in a vacuum.”  The national lack of informed skepticism, Trudeau suggested, began with President Reagan himself, who, since taking office, had “as far as we know read no books except two Westerns he scanned when recovering from gunshot wounds.”      The New York Times

The inaugural Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) included 26 students and 26 professors. Professor of Biology M.R.C. Greenwood ‘68, the URSI coordinator said, “This is a unique coelopment program for students and faculty....We hope to plan for the future so that Vassar will maintain its top-rate science faculty and its standards as an active research college.”     The Miscellany News

URSI students presented a symposium on their summer work on October 1st.

The Department of the Interior designated Vassar's Main Building—architect James Renwick Jr's third building in the mansarded French Second Empire style—a National Historic Landmark, making it one of only six in the state. in the nomination for historic landmark status, Elizabeth Daniels '41 cited architectural historian Henry Russell Hitchcock's assessment of the building, modelled by Renwick at Matthew Vassar's order on the Tuileries Palace in Paris: "For such things as the Smithsonian and his churches Renwick had plenty of visual documents on which to lean, either archaeological treatises on the buildings of the medieval past or illustrations of contemporary foreign work. But for Vassar College, very evidently, he was dependent for his inspiration on rather generalized lithographic or engraved views of the Tuileries. Nor could he, at this relatively early date, borrow much from published illustrations of contemporary English work in the new international Second Empire mode. The particular plastic vitality of the Americanized Second Empire is already notable in this early example, however, even though the rather crude articulation of the red brick walls is remote from anything French of any period from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth. Later buildings by Renwick in the same mode are richer and closer to Parisian standards, but their architectonic vitality is considerably less."

In recognition of the new honor and of the 125th anniversary of the college’s charter, plans and elevations for Main Building by  James Renwick Jr. were displayed in the Vassar Art Gallery.     Henry Russell Hitchcock, Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, "National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form: Main Building, Vassar College (Vassar Female College)", The Miscellany News

The Vassar College Art Gallery gained full membership in the International Council of Museums. Founded in 1946, the international body developed a working definition for museums and promulgated an overall code of ethics for such institutions.
Freshman orientation was restructured and extended to a full week. Some students complained that the prolonged orientation, combined with the upperclassmen’s later arrival, weakened bonds between freshmen and upperclassmen.
Two fires—one in a terrace apartment and the other in Davison—were started by “clip-on lights close to bedding and clothes.” No students were harmed, although there was some damage.

Male Josselyn residents reserved the television room, posted a sign saying “No broads allowed” and watched pornography; the movie and the sign prompted Maryann Dickar ’88 to organize a discussion on the matter.

Dickar’s meeting was attended by a number of Josselyn residents and by Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Iva E. Deutchman, Associate Professor of Political Science Mary L. Shanley and Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Karen Stolley.

Maryann Dickar said at the end of the meeting, “The discussion made the people who did it realize that they hurt people. The realized that maybe porn doesn’t belong in the TV room.” However, one of the males who had watched the pornography maintained that “The discussion didn’t clear anything up…People came with attitudes. The people who set it up came in with their attitude. The topic kept getting changed. It all came down to wanting to take someone’s rights way. Naturally some will say ‘We’ll watch whatever we want,’ and others will say ‘Well, we’re not going to stand for it.’”     The Miscellany News

Visiting Associate Professor of Religion Mary Caroll Smith was named coordinator of religious and chaplaincy services, a one-year temporary position until a permanent director of religious and chaplaincy services was found.
The college announced that a computer store would open in the College Center for a one-year trial. The store filled the space left by the closing of a student-run record store, and would sell Appel’s MachIntosh line, as well as the AT&T PC 60-300. However, there was some controversy over the use of the space for a commercial venture rather than for another student organization. VSA President Richard Feldman ’87 told The Miscellany News, “The computer store is a fanstastic idea, and we do need it, but I’m not happy about the way it was handled. …students were never officially canvassed.”
The Sexual Expectations Committee held outreach activities, beginning during freshman orientation, to improve communication between romantic partners. SEC often focused on the problems of date rape and “coerced sex.”
The Yeh Yu Chinese Opera Association from New York performed two Peking Operas— “The White Snakes” and “The King’s Favorite.”  A traditional form that originated in China in the 18th century, Peking Operas were forbidden during the Cultural Revolution. Ovita F. Williams, who wrote about the performance for The Miscellany News, described it as “Colorful, dynamic, wondrous, and eye-opening…You didn’t have to understand the Chinese language to enjoy this opera.”

The exhibit All Seasons and Every Light: Nineteenth Century American Landscapes, featuring 19th century works by the Hudson River School, opened in the Vassar Art Gallery as part of Poughkeepsie’s art festival Artscape ’86 and the Vassar 125th anniversary commemoration. The paintings, drawings and sketchbooks by Frederic Church, Jasper F. Crospey, Charles Moore, Sandford R. Gifford, Asher B. Durand, William Trost Richards and Aaron D. Shattuck were from the collection purchased by Matthew Vassar from charter trustee Elias Magoon in 1864.
An exhibit of architect James Renwick Jr.’s plans of Main Building—on display since July—remained on view, as another exhibition associated with the college’s 125th anniversary.

All Seasons and Every Light was first shown at Vassar in 1983.

As part of the celebration of Vassar’s 125th anniversary, Professor of Drama Evert Sprinchorn directed a reading of Hallie Flanagan’s Can You Hear Their Voices (1931) in the Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater.
Conservative journalist Midge Decter spoke on "The Press and Terrorism" in Taylor Auditorium.  Asserted that the press, at times, got in the way of government handling of terrorist issues, she said, “If we are to be able to rid the world of this pestilence [terrorism], then our government must be able to act.”     The Miscellany News
The Lorellen Green ‘86 Dance Company, Vassar’s company in residence, performed Green’s The Mystery of Deidre at the Mid-Hudson Arts and Science Center. Green founded the company after graduating that spring with a degree in philosophy. Of the residency program, she told The Miscellany News, “We are responsible for an artistic product of dances of high quality…We’re not necessarily a Vassar company. We are affiliated with the college and we have a high high responsibility to the image and to the name of Vassar.”
Assistant Professor of Music Carol Wilson sang works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including pieces composed by Professor of Music Richard Wilson in Skinner Hall. Wilson was accompanied by Vassar pianist Irma Vallecillo. A review of the concert in The Miscellany News commended Wilson’s skill at converying different tones depending on what the various pieces called for, “I had always thought of her voice as high, light, and clear, so this darker sound was suprising and I enjoyed it very much,” wrote Lisa Galati.
The Vassar Women’s Tennis team won second place in the New York State Division III Tournament. Coach Kathy Campbell said, “We’ve always been in the top six and when we finished third, we did it by the skin of our teeth, so coming in second as decisively as we did was a top accomplishment.”     The Miscellany News
Joseph Heissan ’87 directed Eugène Ionesco’s The Lesson (1951) and Jean Genet’s The Maids (1948) in the Powerhouse Theater. Heissan’s treatment of the French one-acts “proved in some ways and admirable interpretation of the complexities of absurdist thought.”     The Miscellany News

The Vassar Art Gallery held a symposium on James Renwick Jr., the architect of Main Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Smithsonian Institution Building. Speakers included college historian Elizabeth Daniels ’41, author and photographer Rollie McKenna ‘40 and New York University art historian Bannon McHenry.

McKenna’s A Study of the Architecture of the Main Building and the Landscaping of Vassar College, 1860-1870 (1949), her Vassar Master’s thesis, was the first scholarly study of Renwick’s Main Building.

Former Lecturer in English Brett Singer ’74 read from her recent novel Footstool in Heaven. During her visit, Singer also led a lecture-discussion on her novel and her writing process. “I’m made of words. I can talk and I can write. Thant’s all I can do,” she told the audience.    The Miscellany News

Frances Daly Fergusson was inaugurated as the ninth president of Vassar College in a ceremony held in the Outdoor Theater and attended by faculty, students, alumnae/i, the Board of Trustees, former Presidents Alan Simpson and Virginia Smith, and delegates from eighty universities and colleges. During the inauguration, the bell on Main Building rang nine times to honor Fergusson, and Vassar’s eight preceding presidents.

 Speakers at the inauguration included Mary Draper Janney ’42, chair of the board of trustees, VSA President Richard Feldman ’87 and the Presidents of Wellesley College, Yale University and the University of Rochester. Feldman noted the college’s recent decision to divest itself of stock in companies operating in South Africa, adding that “Vassar, by setting very high standards for itself and its students, has more often than not been ahead of its time…and now that the college has committed itself to divest, it has set an example for the world to follow….”

In her remarks, President Fergusson echoed Feldman’s concerns, saying “Today, in many quarters, truth has become narrowly conceived, rigidly tied to ideologies and unbending in the face of competing truths….  We see the consequences: the Iranian revolution, the intransigence of the South African government and the rise of fundamentalism in America.”     The New York Times

The inaugural ceremony capped off a week’s celebration of Fergusson’s presidency and of the college’s 125th anniversary. The week’s events included a ceremony dedicating Main Building as a National Historic Landmark, a conference on the building’s architecture, an alumnae/i panel discussing the Vassar experience and a concert by the Vassar College Brass Choir.


President Fergusson held an open forum in the Aula in an effort “to improve some of the communication on campus.”  She said she thought students should “understand why decisions are made, even though sometimes those are decisions you cannot or do not fully support.” Among the issues discussed at the forum were the recently raised drinking age, the Mug, the Aula and all-campus parties.

Dean of Studies Colton Johnson, associate professor of English, took a six-month leave to begin preparing a volume for The Collected Works of William Butler Yeats. Advisor to Juniors Garrett Vander Veer, professor of philosophy, served as acting dean of studies in Johnson’s absence.

President Fergusson ruled that on-campus job recruiters were to confine their recruiting to the Center for Career Development. Many students had objected to the presence in the College Center of Marine Corps recruiters because of the Marine Corps’ discrimination against homosexuals.

An exhibition of Vassar postcards belonging to Deborah Goldberg ‘88 was displayed in the Library. Goldberg, an art history major, collected the 200 postcards at antique shows and flea markets. “The older postcards have more charm and a greater variety of perspectives,” she told The Miscellany News.

Thirty-four students attended a discussion in the Villard Room about problems in Vassar’s athletic programs. VSA president Richard Feldman ’87, a student representative on the College Planning Committee, convened the meeting “so that when I walk into a meeting as a student representative I am well-informed.”     The Miscellany News

Selections from the documentary series The Africans: A Triple Heritage, created by Dr. Ali Mazrui, the former director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Afroamerican and African Studies was screened and followed by a discussion.  The Chicago Tribune called the nine-hour series "a curious piece —a provocative, exhaustive, highly selective potpourri that is enlightening and irritating, informative and intriguing, petulant and polemical.”

Philaletheis presented Torch Song Trilogy (1978) by Harvey Fierstein, directed by Joseph DeFilippis ’89. “It’s hectic. It’s all time-consuming. It’s been my entire life for the past month,” DeFilippis told The Miscellany News, “I thought it would be nice to see things that are more contemporary. This play focuses on different characters, but it’s all about basic human emotions whether it’s a drag queen or his mother.” The trilogy consisted of three one-act plays: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery and Widows and Children First!

Vassar held a symposium on “Museums in Academe: Design, Function and Funding,” featuring Jan E. Adlmann, director of the Vassar Art Gallery, President Frances D. Fergusson and Executive Director of Development Judith A. Lewittes ‘63.

Otis Day and the Knights played at Vassar’s Autumn Ball.  Originally a fictional roadhouse band in the 1978 film Animal House, the group, led by DeWayne Jessie, continued to tour and issue recordings for several decades. Their Vassar set got mixed reviews from students: “I really enjoyed Otis Day when he was there,” commented Heather Fowler ’89, “But in the future, they should get a less popular band. I mean, Otis was great, but you couldn’t dance and really enjoy him.”     The Miscellany News

Hindy Borenstein, co-director of the Mid-Hudson chapter of Chabad—an organization designed to promote knowledge about Judaism— and Fruma Rosenberg, instructor at the Jewish Women’s University in Pittsburgh, spoke on "Judaism and Feminism: Do They Share Common Values?" in the Rose Parlor. Both Borenstein and Rosenberg argued that women were not subordinate in Orthodox Judaism.

Caribbean-American novelist, short story writer and journalist Jamaica Kincaid gave a reading in Rockefeller hall.  A writer for The New Yorker, Kincaid published a collection of short stories, At the Bottom of the River, in 1984, and her first novel, Annie John appeared in 1985.

The Kronos String Quartet—David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Joan Jenrenaud— performed twentieth century music in Skinner Hall. Among the pieces presented were Scott Johnson’s Bird in the Domes, Jin Hi Kim’s Linking, Mel Graves’sPangaea, Philip Glass’s Mishima Quartet and Jon Hassel’s Pano Da Costa. Of Bird in the Domes, student reporter Joanna Guinther wrote, “The simultaneous presence of different meters creates an impression of movement under the surface, in an overall context of stillness, as metric chaos contrasts with rhythmic unity.”     The Miscellany News

Philaletheis presented Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit (1944), directed by Cybele Fisher ‘88, in Kenyon Hall. The Miscellany News reviewed the show, commenting, “Robert Schajer portrayed Garcin down to the smallest feature. He did an excellent job of conveying the image of Garcin – an old, decrepit man, who feared Hell, but at the same time held it in contempt.”

Writer, philosopher and objectivist social critic David Kelley lectured on "Capitalism and Equality" in Rockefeller Hall.  Dr. Kelley taught in the philosophy department and the cognitive science program at Vassar between 1977 and 1984.

Eight administrators and faculty members circulated a letter condemning a student magazine Genius with a Penis, which included pornography and stories containing bestiality, racial slurs, pedophilia and juvenile sexual abuse.

 A signatory, Professor of Psychology Anne Constantinople, said, “To me the magazine is offensive; and what is perhaps more offensive to me is that member of the community would feel that their individual rights to disseminate the magazine is in no way in conflict with the community values as a whole. It seemed to me important that somebody stand up and speak for the values of the College community.”

 The magazine’s editor responded, admitting,“the magazine expresses ‘views abhorrent to Vassar,’ but does so not to hurt, which it was never intended to do so, but to provoke thought.”     The Miscellany News

The Vassar Art Gallery presented “Avant-Garde Chinese Art: Beijing/New York,” showing work from young artists—Yang Yiping, Li Shuang, Yan Li, Yin Guanzhong, Zhang Wei, Zhao Gang ’88, Xhu Jinshi, An Wei Wei and Xing Fei— who attempted to fuse traditional Eastern art with 20th century Western art. The majority of artists in the exhibition presented abstract work, and many experienced difficulty getting their works shown in China. “With the progress and interesting art these artists are creating, it seems only fair to suggest that Chinese artists, when given the opportunity, participate as an integral part of the art world,” wrote Emily Tobias ’89 in a review of the show for The Miscellany News, “Many Chinese artists hope that the appointment of novelist Wang Meng as cultural minister will lead to a period of increased artistic freedom in China.”