Open Forum

By
December 3, 2007

We began this semester on a solemn note, reflecting on the life and grieving the loss of a fellow Mills woman whose life was abruptly shortened by domestic violence. In retrospect, it left me wondering if as an institution and community of her peers, there was anything more we could have done to intervene or support her. The campus responded with support for her family and a desire to create domestic violence awareness and support services.

Ironically, we are ending the semester with a fellow Mills sister who finds herself not in too different of a situation as Tumi had been in. According to the student, the College has been actively involved in trying to protect her and the Mills community from the abusive party, and supporting her up to a point. The current outcome of the abusive party repeatedly harassing the student and her housemates has resulted in the student being expelled from her campus living community – potentially cutting her off from her support system and College officials’ ability to monitor her safety.

In less than a week’s notice before the Thanksgiving break, she was forced to relocate with little reason given for the severity of the sanction. The student has asked for a judicial hearing as is guaranteed her in the student handbook and has been denied. The student has sought out ASMC representation that have spoken on her behalf and they have also been denied explanation of the sanction or process in which the student may appeal the decision.

I am most concerned whether this is a situation where the school feels that the proper way of dealing with the problem is by removing it from their sight, while leaving the student in a more vulnerable situation than before. In a domestic violence situation, one of the most important things is for the individual to not be isolated and to have continuous support from those who are aware of their situation. Given the personal knowledge we as a college all now have of the potential outcomes of this kind of violence, we know better. We have no excuses for looking the other way. What if something we could have potentially prevented happened to this student? We have been given an opportunity to step up and step in to support a fellow Mills sister in crisis.

We shouldn’t have to wait to lose another Mills sister to realize we are all invested in ensuring the safety of everyone at Mills. We need to not be silenced by this kind of violence. Our Mills sister, as well as the campus community, deserve sufficient answers for her removal, and our Mills sister needs our continuous support regardless of the outcomes of her living situation.

-Tracy Peerson-Faye, senior and ASMC Women’s Resource Chair

The author would like to credit Steffi Zarifis and Misrak Kassa for their help in writing this piece.


Open Forum was published on December 3, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

Open Forum

By
December 3, 2007

Bonne Marie Bautista

I have recently returned to my “exile base” in Wales from Quebec City where I was invited to attend the American Musicological Society’s annual conference and received an invitation from the editors at The Campanil to make a statement to the Mills community.

It has been nearly 16 months since, without explanation, I was denied entry to the U.S. and separated from my job, hom, and fiancÚ. The pain of separation at San Francisco airport and the trauma of my detention there will be with me always. I had hoped that my ordeal would be resolved quickly and with the minimum of attention. But from the moment I was detained, I, and others who have worked to sort this out, have often been treated with disdain by officials, and the process has been marred by obfuscation and untruths. The official report of my detention states that I “claimed to be a professor of music at Mills College” and describes me as “Hispanic.” My interrogators refused to understand that I was trained at UC Berkeley in ethnomusicology and western music history and seemed to believe I’d obtained my valid visa from a “shady source.” In August 2006, my Member of Parliament in the U.K. was told that a review process would take “six to seven weeks!”

I had left Oakland for a month in the summer of 2006 with just a small suitcase of summer clothes and research materials, and with that I was forced to return to the U.K. – it has been like being a refugee in one’s country of citizenship. As the days became weeks, the weeks months, and the months stretched to over a year, my fiancÚ, Dr. Paul Flight, and I have suffered painful, sometimes irrevocable, losses – both professional and personal. Peace of mind is only one of the most difficult things to lose; my good health has collapsed. I have missed international conferences and festivals in L.A. and N.Y. where I was scheduled to present my work; countless Bay Area concerts in which I was to play or sing have passed; and, of course, I missed out on the Music Department’s move to Lisser Hall where my fine new office waits patiently for my return – Paul took our webcam up to show me around last May!

There does seem to be glimmer of light now. I was interviewed by the Head of the non-immigrant visa unit at the U.S. Embassy in London upon my return from Quebec. This is the first time there has been any human contact and a genuine interest in resolving this tragic situation. It is bizarre and difficult to defend oneself against an unspecified charge. Hence my reference in the media to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” which I read for my German Advanced level examinations, but never fully understood until recently. While I am overcome with disappointment that I was not given the opportunity to talk with a U.S. official over a year ago, I am optimistic that now, after someone has actually taken the time to look at my case and find out who I am, there has to be an end in sight. The irony that I have just been welcomed by Canada and can travel freely anywhere, except to the country where I have studied, lived and worked without incident for 10 years, was perhaps not lost on the Embassy.

At the interview, the Visa Chief acknowledged the impressive stacks of petitioning letters that have been received from individuals and organizations all over the world, and I would like to thank all those who have written on my behalf following The Campanil’s article. Finally, I have become aware that my tragedy is part of a larger story. I have become a repository of stories of harassment, detention, and denial of entry at U.S. ports of entry/exit from ordinary citizens and distinguished people all over the world – many of whom have never received any explanation. Many of those excluded have not lost everything though, as they were travelling to the U.S., maybe to start a job or to address a conference, with their homes, lives, loved ones, and possessions not in the USA.

The support, sympathy and solidarity I have received from Mills leadership, faculty, students (and their parents), staff, and alumnae is testimony to the College’s humanist approach to education, and its commitment to issues of social responsibility. I am tremendously grateful to be part of such a caring community. It would be impossible to thank all those at Mills who have helped and supported Paul and me through this ordeal, but I would like to express my most heartfelt thanks to Provost Mary-Ann Milford for her unending kindness and support; thanks also to President Janet Holmgren, Professor David Bernstein, and my colleagues in the Music Department, the Faculty of Color Coalition, Renee Jadushlever, and to Bonne Marie Bautista, Sarah Bayless, and all at The Campanil.

The kindness of so many people has enabled me to keep going – former students sending beautifully made birthday packages, the local music shop lending me a piano to enable me to continue my work and playing, colleagues and distinguished professors expressing sympathy and support, prestigious organizations and concerned readers enabling me to attend conferences, and pre-eminent composers and performers inviting me to their concerts in London.

I look forward to returning to Mills in the near future and to resuming my teaching of classic and romantic music, chamber music, and opera, as well as to inaugurate my newly proposed course on Indian music. In the meantime, I would be delighted to hear from any of you across the miles!

-Professor Nalini Ghuman, PhD (Berkeley), MMus (London), MA (Oxford)


Open Forum was published on December 3, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

Open Forum

By
December 3, 2007

Mills used to have a lot of quirky traditions.

I only use the past tense to illustrate how far we’ve come from our isolated, quirk-city roots. Think about it: Mills used to be an island in a rural sea, a little cluster of young ladies and social mores. Boring, right? Hence the need for quirky traditions, importing men from the University of California, Berkeley, and the now long gone, yet ubiquitious Mills Brown Bread.

So you think Mills is still quirky? Think again. Spreading paint on designated areas once a year does not a quirk make! And what quirk does this humble reporter miss the most?

The Mills Cap Hunt.

That’s right – cap hunt! A hat was not merely a warmth device or a bad-hair-day cover up, oh no. Each class at Mills had it’s very own cap: be it a sailor cap or a boater, each Mills woman could finely display their class year and color by their sassy head topper. But these caps were not handed out like party favors! The caps must be hunted. And oh, how the caps were hunted.

According to past issues of The Weekly, freshwomen would pick a day when they would sport their freshly manufactured hats. The day before that glorious hat-debut, however, sophomores were sent scurrying through our wooded campus to find the hats, which were hidden by clever freshwomen all over campus.

If a sophomore found the hats, the freshwoman responsible for their hiding was locked in the clock tower for a few hours. but of course, released unharmed, and all the more ready for hat day.

What I ask you, Mills, is if there is room in our glorious Politically Correct East Oakland Mecca for Cap Hunt Day. Can you imagine taking up the hunt? Does your head often feel undecorated, and even lonely? Mine does, and I am not ashamed to admit that Cap Day’s absence is sorely missed!

Perhaps if we dedicated a bit of our Grey’s Anatomy time to class traditions, Mills could be a quirky, tradition-saturated place once again. Perhaps cap hunts could even be shifted so that juniors and seniors played cat and mouse, so transfers like myself wouldn’t miss out on a day of hunting.

While the adminstration forces us to pay for our “classic” Pearl M’s, wouldn’t it be money well spent to invest in a felt hat? You know, come that chilly May night when you are a senior due to smear your class’s color on, well, whatever the adminstration lets you, your poor noggin will need a cover up. And what better cover up than a hat that says “2009 and proud of it, baby!”

Bring back the Cap Hunt, Mills, and bring back the quirk!

-Amanda Berkson-Brand, junior


Open Forum was published on December 3, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

OpenForum

By
November 12, 2007

Imagine this:

You’re sitting in your local theater.

Someone has split Coke on the floor, but you don’t care. You’ve been waiting for this movie ever since you saw the trailer a month ago.

Nothing can tear your eyes away from the screen, or so you think.

The plot thickens. And right when the get-away van leaves the protagonist behind, right when the hero is about to reveal his undying love in a bedroom montage, right when the killer is inches away from the heroine and there’s no way she can survive.

It happens.

“Whaaaaaaaah!” “Mommy, I’m hungry.” “I’m bored.”

Yes. Even the quietest of kids can turn into noise machines during a movie. Such additions to the screening are unavoidable during a Disney or other kid friendly film. But if a viewer is like me and wants to see a mature film, crying in the background can be a deal breaker.

Some people may say that the solution is easy: theaters should bar kids from anything rated above PG-13, especially at night when most people want to see a movie. But cutting off parents who need to bring their kids inside for whatever reason steps all over their rights as movie-goers-their right to see what flick they want when they want.

Can we reach a compromise?

The Parkway Theater in Oakland has come up with a solution.

Every week, they hold Toddler Mondays where parents with kids under two can see a popular movie without others complaining about Junior’s tantrum.

I think this is a good starting point, but the idea needs to expand.

Theaters should provide two days, one on a weekday and one on a weekend, and designate them Kid Screening Days. On these days, all tickets for children under ten should be discounted. Even removing two dollars from the price would be incentive enough for parents to only attend screenings on these times.

Having Kid Screenings for all movies keeps everyone’s happiness in mind.

Parents can still watch the movie they want to see and get a discount while they’re at it. Anyone else who attends the film during the Kid Screenings only has himself to blame when the noise level is high. And people who attend all other screenings have one less distraction to worry about.

That is, until someone in the audience pulls out their cell phone.


OpenForum was published on November 12, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

OpenForum

By
October 29, 2007

I’m not going to argue that Dumbledore isn’t gay. Dumbledore is J.K. Rowling’s character, and I have no problem with her deciding the circumstances surrounding his life, orientation, funny passwords, etc. It would be silly to argue against her power to create characters, as it is a matter of completely obvious observation. What can be argued at this point is her sanity.

There are not enough pages in even the largest newspaper for me to express my discontent with the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows. I could cover everything from the dreaded Epilogue to the death of one of my most favorite professors in earnest. Since I do not have the space to express my discontent, I will simply say that the last book is proof enough to question the logic of Rowling’s mind.

Nearly the entire book reads much like fan fiction-bad fan fiction written by a twelve-year-old who thought it would not only be wise but terribly original to think that Draco Malfoy would ever even think to name his own flesh and blood, the heir to the Malfoy fortune, Scorpius. If Ronald Weasley thought “Draco” was a funny name, he must have split his sides the day Scorpius Malfoy was born.

From the book to this new interview, it is much like reading and continuing the angst-y fanfic we laugh at because it keeps getting worse as it goes along. Of course we get the corny names. It comes with the territory. Of course a character is gay. Again, territory. At the next interview, she’ll probably reveal that Sirius still lives and Molly Weasley’s creative language stems from her swashbuckling childhood aboard the Black Pearl.

In addition, I don’t need to point out the coincidental timing of such a media frenzy causing revelation just after the release of the final book a.k.a. Harry Potter’s last hoorah. Just as it would be silly to argue that Rowling doesn’t know her own character, it would also be silly to argue that Rowling, no matter her sanity, did not know that the media would take Dumbledore’s orientation run with it until the wheels fell off. And if she didn’t know that queer Dumbledore would cause such a ruckus, she certainly had the entourage to inform her.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the books-enough to have a million icons on my Photobucket account, enough to be a part of Harry Potter communities, enough to read Harry Potter fan fiction on a regular basis and even enough to consider getting not one but two, Harry Potter-themed tattoos. That’s right, I’m a geek. However, as a patriot must question their country for the sake of the country, I must question Rowling’s sanity for the sake of her career. Outing a character does not everlasting fame make. But writing a new and even more awesome series will.

-Lola Olson, junior


OpenForum was published on October 29, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

OpenForum

By
October 29, 2007

In case you haven’t heard, here’s the big news of pop culture: Dumbledore’s gay. Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling made the announcement at Carnegie Hall on Fri., Oct. 21, part of her book tour for students around the United States.

An audience member asked if Albus Dumbledore, one of the most powerful wizards in the H.P. universe and Harry’s mentor, ever found love and Rowling answered, “I’ve always thought of Dumbledore as gay, actually.” The audience reacted with applause. When I read this via the Associated Press wire, I reacted with helpless giggles.

My overwhelming feeling is delight. I’m proud of her for making such an important character in the series gay. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they wish she’d put it explicitly in the text and I agree that it would have made more of an impact, but I think it was important to the books that it’s never described.

One of the great conflicts of the seventh and final book is Harry mourning that he learned so little about Dumbledore before he died. If anything, this adds to that tragedy. Sexuality is one of the last things kids learn to accept about the influential adults in their lives, and in much this same way, there would have been no appropriate time for Harry to learn this about his teacher.

Rowling also explained at Carnegie Hall that Dumbledore was in love with Gellert Grindelwald, his childhood friend and eventual enemy, one of the darkest wizards of all time. I can’t wait to see the scenes between young Dumbledore and Grindelwald in the seventh movie.

I think that’s when the real impact is going to come; in the movie. What can now only be thought of as the tragic love story of Dumbledore and Grindelwald will have to be acted out complete with longing looks and over-long touches. I can’t wait.


OpenForum was published on October 29, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

Open Forum

By
September 4, 2007

The tragically brief and shining life of Tumi McCallum reflected the best of what a young woman can be. When she was killed this past month, the victim of deplorable violence, our shocked and deeply saddened community began the process of mourning all that Tumi was and could have been if she had continued her life of exceptional achievement as an impassioned human rights advocate.

Tumi died at only 20 years of age, having planned to begin her junior year with us this fall, yet she already accomplished what some people hope to create over an entire lifetime: the love of family and community, and progress on behalf of the disenfranchised.

Treasured by family, friends, and colleagues, Tumi has been described as a lifeline for women in prison, a passionate fighter for racial justice, a sweet and gentle spirit who cared deeply about making the world a better place. As a result of her work as an intern, Justice Now, an Oakland-based organization dedicated to ending violence against women, continues to work for the release of an imprisoned woman for whom Tumi valiantly advocated.

Before Tumi came to Mills, I met her mother, Teboho Moja, a South African leader, as part of a delegation of international women educational leaders at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

I was so pleased when Tumi chose to become a member of the Mills student body. A political, legal, and economic analysis major, Tumi was following in her mother’s footsteps with great promise in working to abate violence against women.

Tragically, she became a victim of violence herself-the kind of unspeakable acts that take the lives of four women every day in this country. According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, one in three women worldwide is abused in her lifetime.

We believe that despite her short life, Tumi has left a lasting legacy to humankind and our thoughts are with her family.

Let us always remember and be inspired by an outstanding young woman who brought the spirit of her South African roots to her exemplary, humanitarian life at Mills.

Janet L. Holmgren

President


Open Forum was published on September 4, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

Open Forum

By
September 4, 2007

The tragic death of Tumi McCallum is a terrible shock to us all. I knew Tumi as a sweet, gentle young woman, and a passionate fighter for justice who had committed her life to building a better world.

Tumi’s early experiences as a young girl growing up in South Africa during apartheid and the transition to multiracial democracy greatly shaped her life and her commitment to racial justice. She was inspired by her mother’s courageous stance in the face of police repression and became as passionate as her mother about ending state violence everywhere. Most recently, she had begun working with Justice Now, where she acted as a lifeline for women in prison and advocated for women’s human rights. Tumi also believed in the power of education and was always eager to create empowering dialogues with other young people.

Tumi was greatly loved by students and faculty in the Ethnic Studies department, in the Mills community and in the wider social justice community. We hold her parents, siblings and friends in our prayers as we join in remembering and honoring her life.

Julia Sudbury
Mary S. Metz Professor of Ethnic Studies


Open Forum was published on September 4, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

Open Forum

By
April 2, 2007

To The Weekly staff,

Thank you for your thoughtful coverage of the events surrounding the unexpected departure of Joanna Iwata. As a student, I found it validating that the newspaper found this issue pressing enough to create a special edition of The Weekly. Your coverage has brought more attention to the activism of many students in response to Joanna’s departure. The powerful visual images you selected for this issue, particularly the panoramic photo on the inside, are rich with the emotional energy of the student protest.

The layout of your special edition was amazing. Besides the images, I was pleased you included the chain of events, such as the e-mails sent out regarding changes in the Division of Student Life. This information is vital in understanding the situation. Many students have told me how amazed they have been by your work on the special edition, especially on short notice. Some staff and faculty members have also expressed that it was a powerful piece of journalism.

I have certainly had days where I’ve felt disheartened because of what is happening; it is clear from the reactions of many Mills members that I am not the only one that has felt this way.

I think that part of healing for many people is often about being open and honest about what has happened. In telling our stories, not only are you documenting the history of the Mills College community, but you are also providing ways for people to start having conversations about what is right and what needs to change at Mills. While we continue to advocate for what we believe in as students, it is heartening to see that our voices will be heard and reflected by you.

Also, I understand that you must balance your journalistic integrity with your role as students. I was impressed with your ability to support the students by highlighting the activism that followed Dean Iwata’s departure while maintaining your balance by interviewing President Holmgren. It was important to offer her space to respond to the protest and to the student demands. It will be equally as important in the coming weeks to listen to the responses from the students to what the administration says and does going forward.

I appreciate the dedication of your staff in coming in to create this issue of The Weekly over Spring Break. Your commitment to journalism, social justice, and the Mills community are invaluable. I know that as students we are all extremely busy, so I am grateful for the extra time you all take to keep everyone informed. Thank you.

In solidarity,
Lijia Lumsden
Senior


Open Forum was published on April 2, 2007 in Opinions

Print this page Print this page

Open Forum

By
February 9, 2006

Coretta Scott King will be sorely missed. For the 51 years since the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she has shown amazing endurance, strength and resilience. She walked with her husband during the bus boycott. Their home was bombed. She endured the threats and the slanders. When Dr. Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis, I called her to inform her that he had been shot. She organized his funeral. And she came to Memphis to lead the march he was to lead. She shared his sense of commitment.

President Bush has announced that he will attend her funeral to honor her. He will do so after releasing a budget that calls for spending nearly $600 billion on the military next year alone – including $120 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While military spending is going up, spending on education, on cancer and heart disease, on cleaning up the environment, on worker training is going down. Bush is pushing to cut Medicare even as he demands that his top-end tax cuts be made permanent. Student loans will be more expensive; the military's weapons will be more exotic.

Those were not the priorities of Dr. Martin Luther King or of Coretta Scott King. Dr. King warned us at the height of the Cold War of the terrible moral costs of devoting more of our resources to war and weapons than to moral uplift. It was Dr. King who understood that the war on poverty at home was lost in the jungles of Vietnam.

Bush will pay tribute to Mrs. King, no doubt, but she'd much prefer he pay tribute in his budget than in his words. And for African- Americans, the announcement of his visit might well be greeted with apprehension. Two years ago, the president laid a wreath on Dr. King's grave, then announced he would ask the Supreme Court to outlaw affirmative action. Then he celebrated Dr. King's birthday and announced a recess appointment of Judge Charles Pickering – a right-wing judge opposed to equal protection – to the federal bench. This year, the wolf in sheep's clothing will praise Mrs. King, but his budget eliminates the Office of Minority Health, and he's leaving tens of thousands of Katrina's poorest survivors scattered across the country, with no plan to bring them back. His HUD secretary says New Orleans will not regain its population or its black majority.

When Dr. King was shot, he was in Memphis marching with sanitation workers for a decent wage. He was planning a poor people's march on Washington, uniting the poor across lines of race, region and color, to call on this country to open the doors of opportunity. Mrs. King carried on that mission.

But under Bush, America is becoming more unequal. Poverty is spreading and growing deeper. Homelessness is up. Hunger is up. Poor workers are up. Bush has not supported an increase in the minimum wage since he's been in office. His administration has evinced a relentless enmity to workers trying to organize unions. He has walked away from funding his own reforms in education. He has failed to extend health care and adequate nutrition to young children. America suffers the worst infant-mortality rates in the industrial world. A record 2 million people are in jail, with minorities more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched, more likely to be charged, more likely to receive harsh sentences.


Open Forum was published on February 9, 2006 in Editorial

Print this page Print this page