Amnesty International and the South Asian Student Alliance hosted Dr. Riffat Hassan who gave a lecture which focused on the abuse women in Pakistan and other countries face. Other organizations who supported the event, included CARES, the Women's Center, the Feminist Alliance, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a dc Aztlan (MeCHA), the Student Activist Union, Students for a Free Tibet, the Vassar Student Association (VSA), the Vassar Catholic Community (VCC), and the Anthropology Department. Dr. Hassan discussed honor killings in particular and how they could be mitigated. Her program, International Network for the Rights of Female Victims of Violence in Pakistan, created a documentary, A Matter of Honor, which documented the systemic abuse of women in Pakistan. Hassan argued that documentaries like hers were part of the solution as they raise awareness of this very serious issue.. 

At a VSA council meeting, representatives agreed to request $10,000 from the Great Works fund in order to create a recording facility for student use. The fund was dedicated to creating new facilities available to Vassar students. The recording facility was set to open in April 2004 for a trial run before being officially opened in the Fall 2004 semester. Students would have to attend a class in order to learn how to use the equipment in the facility first, which included a Mac computer system. 

The Women’s Center relocated to the Old Observatory from its location in the Raymond Basement. The center has been providing resources and programming on gender issues on campus since the 1970s. The 2004 interns, however, felt that they were unable to carry out this mission because the basement location was “cramped, unclean, and ineffective.” It also suggested that because it was in the basement, the women’s center was not important to the school. They felt that this move signalled to the campus the integral role the Women’s Center plays at Vassar and would allow them to better do this work.

Stephen Railon, professor of American Literature at University of Virginia, gave a lecture on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin as part of an Archives and Special Collections Department event. The archives exhibit featured a first edition copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin from 1952, posters of performances from the 1800s, a handwritten page from Stowe’s manuscript, and Danish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, and Spanish translations of the book from the nineteenth century. The items were loaned to the school from the personal collection of Mary C Schlosser ‘51. 

Students from Vassar’s Democracy Matters org attended the U Matters Summit at the University of Albany and Crest Hill Suites in Albany. The conference ran for three days and allowed students from Democracy Matters chapters across the country the chance to meet and discuss campaign finance reform, community outreach, and general election awareness.

Dr. Beth Jordan ‘86 gave a lecture called “The Accidental Activist: From STS Nerd to Feminist Physician,” about how her career path. She began as a Science and Technology Major at Vassar and, after volunteering in clinics in Senegal, West Africa, ended up as medical director at the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) in Washington, D.C. She also discussed her interest in women’s health, her pro-choice stance on abortion, and the work she does in order to protect abortion rights with Planned Parenthood and the FMF. 

Campus Life Resource Group held the fourth annual All College Day, the theme of which was “Race at Vassar.” Students felt this was a necessary topic after a comedy group made “racially insensitive” comments that resulted in them being disbanded by the VSA. Events included readings, a lecture and workshops from Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, and a performance entitled “Race in Your Face: Tell it Like it is.” The performance included murals that members of the Vassar community were invited to add to. 

During Equal Rights Awareness week, Magdalen Hsu-Li was invited to give the keynote performance, playing the drums and piano. Hsu-Li was recognized by the Miscellany News as “one of the first openly bisexual Chinese American singer-songwriters in the United States.” Her event was meant to inspire conversations about diversity and race.  

As part of the Equal Rights Awareness Week, a panel on hunger and homelessness was held featuring representatives from Hudson River Housing, Dutchess Outreach, the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, and the Vassar Community. The representatives gave talks and answered questions on poverty as it relates to the work each organization does, such as housing and agriculture. The panel put forth the idea that hunger and homelessness results from “political will” as opposed to a lack of resources.

The Vassar College Equestrian Team hosted its first annual horse show on Southland Farms, about a thirty minute car ride from Vassar’s Campus. The all-day show featured several other colleges from the northeast. 

The college held its tenth annual I Won’t Grow Up Day (IWGUD), a free public event, in the College Center. The event was started in 1994 by student Julie Riess, who was director of the Wimpfheimer Nursery School in 2004. After being sponsored by the Education Majors Committee for five years, IWGUD eventually became a VSA organization and as such was mostly funded by the VSA. IWGUD featured seed planting with the Vassar Greens, making popsicle stick houses with Habitat for Humanity, and a fire truck exploration held by the Poughkeepsie Fire Department. Turnout was estimated to be over 200.

Soon Ok Lee spoke in Rockefeller Hall on her imprisonment in a North Korean jail for over five years. Amnesty International sponsored the event to show that while “most people think that the kinds of large systemic human rights violations that existed in the last… no longer exist, this isn’t true.” Lee was arrested in 1984 due to a false charge of state property embezzlement. She was subjected to torture and a show-trial before her imprisonment. After coming to the U.S., Lee published a book and began traveling throughout the country to speak on her experiences. 

The Mathematics Department hosted Gerhade Gade Harvard Professor Barry Mazur to discuss creativity in mathematics. His speech, “Imagining Numbers,” explained how imagination can unlock new discoveries in the field of mathematics, as sometimes the answer to a problem requires unusual and different modes of thinking. 

The Vassar Greens brought Joan Dye Gussow, a proponent of organic, local foods, to speak in the Chapel. She lectured on her opinion on food policy, her own experiences growing food, and her book This Organic Life. She argued that eating food that is local and in season is the environmentally-friendly choice. 
137 Vassar students from organizations such as the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Women’s Health Center, and CHOICE took buses to Washington for the March for Women’s Lives. The protest  centered on President Bush’s policies on abortion and women’s rights. Vassar students reported meeting many Vassar alums at the march, with one student remarking, “It made me proud to meet these women and to be able to demonstrate to them that Vassar continues to be a College filled with people who fight for what they believe in.”

The ALANA Center invited students to partake in a conversation with Co-Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment Krystal Tribbett about how Vassar recruits students of color. Tribett reported that around 26.6% of the Class of 2008 were students of color, but the number of students of color attending Vassar was not increasing very much. Students discussed ways in which the school could attract and maintain more students of color, such as by hiring more faculty of color. This discussion kicked off a week of events geared towards prospective students of color, including a bus trip to campus for students who could not afford to make it there themselves and a phone-a-thon where Vassar students called admitted students of color and answer questions they have.

On the second day of the 2004 Republican National Convention, five Vassar students were arrested in connection with a protest, called Day of Direct Action. This protest was centered on bringing awareness to the deadly consequences of the war in Iraq. The students boarded subways dressed in black clothing and white face paints, with signs hanging from their necks that read, “War Dead.” They sought to remind New Yorkers that while they may be able to go about normal lives, there are many around the world who are having their lives disrupted by war. Although the students were traveling with journalists and observers and believed they were not in violation of any laws, they were arrested by six police. After returning back to Vassar’s campus, the students maintained that they did not regret protesting and felt they were exercising their First Amendment Rights. 

Because of dangerous hazing practices in years prior, new rules were enacted that limited the kinds of activities allowed for the 2004 Serendaing event. In years past, seniors threw objects such as meat and water balloons at first-years, resulting in some minor injuries and many complaints about safety. This year, students were limited to throwing water, ketchup, whipped cream, and flour, after the traditional rounds of singing led by the seniors. 

Vassar began its fourth-ever Community Works fundraiser, which collected funds for twelve non-profit agencies located in the Hudson Valley. It also supported an African organization, as part of Vassar’s “commitment to its role in the global community” as well as its local community. 

Author Linda Nochlin ‘51 gave a lecture entitled “Why Contemporary Art is Great: Two Women, One Man,” to a packed room of people from the Vassar College and the wider Poughkeepsie community. She spoke about artists Jenny Saville, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Robert Gober. She was then honored as the twelfth-ever President’s Distinguished Visitor since 1982, a title given to alumni who make extraordinary achievements. 

Folk rock band, The Mammals, performed a concert in the Chapel to support the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. The event was also sponsored by the group Hunger Action. While Vassar students attended the event for free, Poughkeepsie residents paid $15 for adults and $10 for students and kids. The ticket sales helped support the Farm Project’s Community Service Agriculture program, which tackled food insecurity by allowing community members to buy a “share” in a farm and receive some of the produce. 

Several Vassar political organizations, including the Students Activist Union and the Forum for Political Philosophy, held a meeting with the student body to discuss the re-election of George W. Bush and began planning continued student activism at Vassar under his presidency. The invite email stated called on students to “channel [their] frustration, fear and anger at the election and our government’s policies into creative, effective responses.” The moderators of the event did acknowledge though that students would bring a varying range of opinions on the election and future activism and sought to make the space open for a multitude of reactions and ideas. 

To celebrate the Chapel’s one hundredth birthday, Vassar community members gathered to reflect on its place in the college’s history and what it will be in the future. The Barefoot Monkeys began the event by leading a processions from Sunset Lake to the Chapel, complete with drummers and stilt-walkers. The Red Hawk Dance Troupe, a Native American group from NYC, performed inside the chapel, regaling the audience with dances and stories, and celebrating the way the Chapel has grown and changed throughout its years. Using puppets, performers also showed how the Chapel went from a place of religion and spirituality to a more secular auditorium. Several members of the college were then invited to speak, including President Fran Fergusson and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Sam Speers. President Fergusson ended her speech with a call to the community “to wonder, to believe, to imagine boldly” what the Chapel could continue to be in its next 100 years. 

Students and Poughkeepsie community members banded together to protest the reelection of George W. Bush by holding a mock funeral procession on the streets of Poughkeepsie. The procession included a drummer and four coffins: three labeled “Justice,” Liberty," ''Peace,” while the last was simply black. One student reported to the Miscellany News that the reason for this type of protest was meant to convey “feelings of dispossession and disappointment” due to the anticipated “death of democracy.” The protest was not sanctioned by Vassar College and was attended by students of Bard and State University of New York at New Paltz and members of the Dutchess Greens and Dutchess Peace Organization. Attendees hoped that this would be the beginning of a coalition of similarly-minded people in the Hudson Valley. 

The Jewish Alumni of Vassar College held an event over the weekend entitled “Jewish Identities: At Vassar and Beyond.” Around 40 graduates from the last half century joined current students for the program, which was intended to link Vassar’s Jewish history to its present. There were graduate speakers and speakers from the Music, Religion, History, English, and Jewish Studies department as well. 

The United States Reformation Party and the Forum for Political Philosophy held a discussion called “Religion and the Left” with panelists from the Religion, Political Science, History, Philosophy, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Panelists addressed the frustration of left-leaning students after the reelection of George W. Bush. Panelists challenged students to see Bush voters as more than religious and right-wing, and consider that religiosity and left-leaning beliefs can align. Instead of mourning the results, one moderator reflected afterward, “We should use our emotions to propel us forward.” 

Around twenty students from Vassar’s Habitat for Humanity slept outside on the Residential Quad in order to raise awareness of and funds for the homeless populations. The participants were sponsored for the event, allowing the org to raise over $170. Informational signs and a donation box were in the middle of the quad throughout the night for curious or generous students to utilize.