Brown’s Student Body Politic

from Brown’s Daily Herald, “Remembering three decades of protest for unity

by Irene Chen

The Main Green is still a center of small-scale student protest, but 30 years ago a series of student-led demonstrations on campus and a nearly two-day occupation of University Hall compelled Brown to create the Third World Center.

Sparked from these calls for racial and ethnic awareness, the TWC today unites students of all racial backgrounds under its roof in Partridge Hall. The center’s name and role on campus have raised questions and caused controversy since it first began in the Churchill House basement in 1976. But this week, the center celebrates three decades of supporting students of color and promoting understanding through programs, lectures, the Third World Transition Program and the Minority Peer Counselor Progam.

Born out of protest
In 1968, a group of black women from Pembroke College camped out for three days at the Congdon Street Baptist Church to call on the University to raise the number of black students in the incoming class to 11 percent. As a result of this – the first major student protest over race at the University – the number of black students who enrolled at the University the following year increased by 300 percent.

After the first landmark protest, a series of successes followed. In the summer of 1969, the Transitional Summer Program, which became the Third World Transition Program in 1975, began introducing students of color to Brown. Another form of support for minority students came in 1973 when a group of black students founded the Minority Peer Counseling program.

But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the threat of budget cuts led to further racial tensions on campus. A coalition of black, Asian and Latino students occupied University Hall in 1975 to urge Brown’s administration to focus on increasing financial aid for students of color, to honor the promises it made after the 1968 protest and to create a center where students of different ethnic backgrounds could meet.

The 1975 protest dominated the campus for weeks. About 75 percent of the student body boycotted classes for a week. On April 25, 1975, the University committed to increasing the number of black students by 25 percent, launched a committee to review minority affairs at Brown and opened a center for minorities on campus the following year.

The Third World Center was born.

After settling with the University, a student leader of the protest announced to the crowd, “Our voices will not be silenced from now on. … The University has now heard us. … University, we are watching you.”

A legacy of resistance
“I do tend to romanticize the way the students came together in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s,” said Karen McLaurin ’74, associate dean of the College and director of the Third World Center.

These protests shaped the mission of the TWC and influenced the students who utilize the center.

“I think that things have grown and changed since the mid-1970s, and I do think that we currently have a cross-cultural body of students that come together for different causes,” McLaurin said. “But whether that constituency would take it to the streets … anything’s possible.”

Now, McLaurin said, the campus climate is different.

“When I look back at those folks in the ’70s, you have to realize that they were in the basement of the Churchill,” McLaurin said. “Students of color have become a growing population, even today. Last year we thought we had the largest minority class, but it looks like next year, it’s going to be the largest matriculating class of minority students.”

As more minority students enrolled at Brown, students of different racial backgrounds came together to call for equality.

In 1985, the Third World Coalition, made up of 350 black, Asian and Latino students occupied the stairs of the John Carter Brown Library demanding that the University resolve the issues of racial inequalities it had promised to address in the previous protests of 1968 and 1975. Students chose the John Carter Library because it owns the documents of Brown’s slaveholding founders, and they claimed black students on campus also had a history in the University’s founding. In response, the University relocated the TWC to its current location in Partridge Hall in 1987, creating more space for students of color on campus.

But in the wake of these successes, there was a sudden explosion of racial tensions in 1989 – racial slur incidents, hate crimes and even a supposed “chapter” of the KKK at Brown. Posters that read “Keep white supremacy alive!!! Join the Brown chapter of the KKK today,” first appeared in Andrews Hall on April 29, 1989. In an interview with the TWC, one student recalled seeing that someone had scratched out the words “men” and “women” on the Andrews bathroom doors and replaced them instead with “whites” and “niggers.”

McLaurin believes racial issues still appear on campus today, but the administration and campus community are more prepared to handle situations that may occur.

“The minute the word got out that this was taking place over in Andrews, the president (Vartan Gregorian) immediately went over to Andrews and made it clear that this behavior was clearly unacceptable,” McLaurin said. “I think this still does happen today, but less frequently. I think we are better equipped to address those types of behavior today.”

The community today
Today, the TWC seeks to extend its mission beyond support for minority students. McLaurin wants the campus to view the center as for the whole campus, not simply students of color.

“We should be perceived as a resource to this campus, and I hope that that is the perception and the message that has gotten out there,” McLaurin said.

Some of the unease and confusion surrounding the Third World Center is due to its somewhat controversial name. Some students dislike the negative connotation of the phrase “Third World,” but the center’s name is based on the 1961 book “The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon, who called upon his readers to join together against the powers of colonialism by creating a “Third Way” separate from the “first world” of the United States and Europe and the “second world” of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

“Even people in the third-world community, when they first joined, didn’t want to be labeled ‘third world,’ ” said Krishika Acharya ’07, who co-coordinated South Asian Awareness Week. “There is an initial hesitation because of the meaning of ‘third world’ now versus what it actually means.”

Jennifer Soroko, assistant director of the Third World Center, believes there is a misconception about what the TWC does because of its name. “This whole ideology of creating a new world – it’s kind of a utopia of diversity. … I think that is what is trying to be captured here,” she said.

“The original idea of banding together a group of countries that was left out of this dynamic is really powerful. Because that’s what the TWC does, just tries to band together people from different places,” Acharya said.

Liliana Ornelas ’07 has been involved with the TWC and its programs since her sophomore year as an MPC. “I think that the TWC has kind of been my experience at Brown,” she said. “It was the environment that I needed to grow. The work that I’ve done here has definitely been a lot more valuable than anything I could’ve learned in a classroom.”

Acharya has had a similar positive experience with the TWC. “It was only after I became an MPC and became a part of that family that I really felt like I really belonged at Brown,” she said.

When asked if students might someday join together for protests like those that created the center, Ornelas said today there are new ways of effecting change.

“While we fantasize about the walkouts of ’68, we need to take that, learn from it and then see what else we can do that would be a lot better today,” she said. “How can we get together and talk about this and produce something that’s actually going to produce an effect and something that other classes after us will benefit from?”

Ornelas said the TWC needs to reach out to the rest of the University. “I think that a lot of the programming that comes out of the TWC brings up issues that other people wouldn’t talk about,” Ornelas said. “In that way we educate the campus on issues that aren’t really talked about.”

Even if the ways of creating dialogue are different today, the racial issues facing students may not be all that dissimilar from those that faced students in the past.

“There’s never an end point,” Soroko said. “I think it’s always going to be a dialogue. … It’s ever-evolving.”

Ornelas believes Brown’s current challenge is recruiting a more diverse faculty, but that the TWC has made great strides in creating a supportive community for students.

“Brown takes the lead in the kind of resources students of color have, and that’s something that we don’t appreciate that much,” Ornelas said.

Soroko said in the short time she’s worked in Partridge Hall, she’s seen the center’s impact on students’ lives. “They all come together and this is the place where it all happens,” she said.

This Friday, students will convene for the TWC 30th anniversary block party between Angell and Waterman streets and a panel discussion with the TWC directors past and present in Smith-Buonanno 106.

Brown’s Student Body Politic

WW II and and the History of "Comfort Women"

(Unidentified AP Photo)

GIs frequented Japan’s ‘comfort women’

By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer Wed Apr 25

TOKYO – Japan’s abhorrent practice of enslaving women to provide sex for its troops in World War II has a little-known sequel: After its surrender — with tacit approval from the U.S. occupation authorities — Japan set up a similar “comfort women” system for American GIs.

An Associated Press review of historical documents and records shows American authorities permitted the official brothel system to operate despite internal reports that women were being coerced into prostitution. The Americans also had full knowledge by then of Japan’s atrocious treatment of women in countries across Asia that it conquered during the war.

Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U.S. troops until the spring of 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down.

The documents show the brothels were rushed into operation as American forces poured into Japan beginning in August 1945.

“Sadly, we police had to set up sexual comfort stations for the occupation troops,” recounts the official history of the Ibaraki Prefectural Police Department, whose jurisdiction is just northeast of Tokyo. “The strategy was, through the special work of experienced women, to create a breakwater to protect regular women and girls.”

The orders from the Ministry of the Interior came on Aug. 18, 1945, one day before a Japanese delegation flew to the Philippines to negotiate the terms of their country’s surrender and occupation.

The Ibaraki police immediately set to work. The only suitable facility was a dormitory for single police officers, which they quickly converted into a brothel. Bedding from the navy was brought in, along with 20 comfort women. The brothel opened for business Sept. 20.

“As expected, after it opened it was elbow to elbow,” the history says. “The comfort women … had some resistance to selling themselves to men who just yesterday were the enemy, and because of differences in language and race, there were a great deal of apprehensions at first. But they were paid highly, and they gradually came to accept their work peacefully.”

Police officials and Tokyo businessmen established a network of brothels under the auspices of the Recreation and Amusement Association, which operated with government funds. On Aug. 28, 1945, an advance wave of occupation troops arrived in Atsugi, just south of Tokyo. By nightfall, the troops found the RAA’s first brothel.

“I rushed there with two or three RAA executives, and was surprised to see 500 or 600 soldiers standing in line on the street,” Seiichi Kaburagi, the chief of public relations for the RAA, wrote in a 1972 memoir. He said American MPs were barely able to keep the troops under control.

Though arranged and supervised by the police and civilian government, the system mirrored the comfort stations established by the Japanese military abroad during the war.

Kaburagi wrote that occupation GIs paid upfront and were given tickets and condoms. The first RAA brothel, called Komachien — The Babe Garden — had 38 women, but due to high demand that was quickly increased to 100. Each woman serviced from 15 to 60 clients a day.

American historian John Dower, in his book “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII,” says the charge for a short session with a prostitute was 15 yen, or about a dollar, roughly the cost of half a pack of cigarettes.

Kaburagi said the sudden demand forced brothel operators to advertise for women who were not licensed prostitutes.

Natsue Takita, a 19-year-old Komachien worker whose relatives had been killed in the war, responded to an ad seeking an office worker. She was told the only positions available were for comfort women and was persuaded to accept the offer.

According to Kaburagi’s memoirs, Takita jumped in front of a train a few days after the brothel started operations.

“The worst victims … were the women who, with no previous experience, answered the ads calling for `Women of the New Japan,'” he wrote.

By the end of 1945, about 350,000 U.S. troops were occupying Japan. At its peak, Kaburagi wrote, the RAA employed 70,000 prostitutes to serve them. Although there are suspicions, there is not clear evidence non-Japanese comfort women were imported to Japan as part of the program.

Toshiyuki Tanaka, a history professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, cautioned that Kaburagi’s number is hard to document. But he added the RAA was also only part of the picture — the number of private brothels outside the official system was likely even higher.

The U.S. occupation leadership provided the Japanese government with penicillin for comfort women servicing occupation troops, established prophylactic stations near the RAA brothels and, initially, condoned the troops’ use of them, according to documents discovered by Tanaka.

Occupation leaders were not blind to the similarities between the comfort women procured by Japan for its own troops and those it recruited for the GIs.

A Dec. 6, 1945, memorandum from Lt. Col. Hugh McDonald, a senior officer with the Public Health and Welfare Division of the occupation’s General Headquarters, shows U.S. occupation forces were aware the Japanese comfort women were often coerced.

“The girl is impressed into contracting by the desperate financial straits of her parents and their urging, occasionally supplemented by her willingness to make such a sacrifice to help her family,” he wrote. “It is the belief of our informants, however, that in urban districts the practice of enslaving girls, while much less prevalent than in the past, still exists.”

Amid complaints from military chaplains and concerns that disclosure of the brothels would embarrass the occupation forces back in the U.S., on March 25, 1946, MacArthur placed all brothels, comfort stations and other places of prostitution off limits. The RAA soon collapsed.

MacArthur’s primary concern was not only a moral one.

By that time, Tanaka says, more than a quarter of all American GIs in the occupation forces had a sexually transmitted disease.

“The nationwide off-limits policy suddenly put more than 150,000 Japanese women out of a job,” Tanaka wrote in a 2002 book on sexual slavery. Most continued to serve the troops illegally. Many had VD and were destitute, he wrote.

Under intense pressure, Japan’s government apologized in 1993 for its role in running brothels around Asia and coercing women into serving its troops. The issue remains controversial today.

In January, California Rep. Mike Honda offered a resolution in the House condemning Japan’s use of sex slaves, in part to renew pressure on Japan ahead of the closure of the Asian Women’s Fund, a private foundation created two years after the apology to compensate comfort women.

The fund compensated only 285 women in the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan, out of an estimated 50,000-200,000 comfort women enslaved by Japan’s military in those countries during the war. Each received 2 million yen, about $17,800. A handful of Dutch and Indonesian women were also given assistance.

The fund closed, as scheduled, on March 31.

Haruki Wada, the fund’s executive director, said its creation marked an important change in attitude among Japan’s leadership and represented the will of Japan’s “silent majority” to see that justice is done. He also noted that although it was a private organization, the government was its main sponsor, kicking in 4.625 billion yen, about $40 million.

Even so, he admitted it fell short of expectations.

“The vast majority of the women did not come forward,” he said.

As a step toward acknowledging and resolving the exploitation of Japanese women, however, it was a complete failure.

Though they were free to do so, no Japanese women sought compensation.

“Not one Japanese woman has come forward to seek compensation or an apology,” Wada said. “Unless they feel they can say they were completely forced against their will, they feel they cannot come forward.”


Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

WW II and and the History of "Comfort Women"

University of Rhode Island Senate Admonishes College Republicans for "White Heterosexual American Male" Scholarship

Unidentified URI College Republicans and “White Heterosexual American Male” Scholarship Team Members (from URI CR site)

Senate punishes College Republicans for fraudulent WHAM scholarship ad

by Andy Blais

03/15/07 – The University of Rhode Island Student Senate denied the appeal of the College Republicans over a controversial scholarship at last night’s meeting.

The senate, along with College Republican Chairman Ryan Bilodeau, debated whether the “White Heterosexual American Male” scholarship violated the senate bylaws, which prohibit discrimination by any member group. However, the club never granted the scholarship to an applicant.

The Student Organization Advisory and Review Committee, chaired by Matt Yates, handed two punishments to the group. The first required the College Republicans to write a letter of apology to be printed in the Cigar.

The second requires the student group to have all of its activities approved by SOARC until February 2008.

The senate debated whether the scholarship, sponsored by the College Republicans, was protected by free speech or if it was in direct violation of the senate’s bylaws.

“Nowhere at that time was there any mention of it being political satire,” Yates said, referencing the first meeting his committee had with the College Republicans.

The senate also discussed the legality of false advertising and if the College Republicans had violated the law.

“The First Amendment does not in any way protect a group from committing fraud,” senator Jesse Whitsitt-Lynch said.

The senate also questioned the College Republicans if it had known it would never distribute the scholarship. Bilodeau said that the group knew from the beginning that it would not be handing out the scholarship.

Bilodeau agreed with the senate that he and his group were “ambiguous” in their advertisement, but stopped short of calling the advertisements a mistake.

He also didn’t agree with the letter of apology SOARC wanted the College Republicans to write. He claimed it was against the First Amendment, which grants free speech.

“We are sorry we are racist, bigot, homophobes, that’s basically what we’re asked to write forced speech is illegal,” Bilodeau told the senate.

In the end, however, the senate disagreed with Bilodeau. It voted by a two-thirds majority to uphold the punishment prescribed by SOARC.

The issue started in November during the University of Rhode Island College Republicans “Coming out Conservative” Week. During the week, it offered the WHAM scholarship to students willing to apply in the Memorial Union.

The College Republicans said the scholarship was meant to point out its disagreement with affirmative action.

On Nov. 29, the Cigar published a letter to the editor by Nicole Gunderson, who asked the senate to investigate the College Republicans. Gunderson accused the group of not following the student senate’s bylaws.

SOARC began hearings Feb. 5 that were held twice for both the committee and College Republicans to hear both sides and investigate the issue.

After SOARC made a decision on Feb. 19, the College Republicans appealed to the senate moderator, Vice President Rosie Mean, and was heard last night in front of the full senate.

University of Rhode Island Senate Admonishes College Republicans for "White Heterosexual American Male" Scholarship

L.A.’s Academia Semillas del Pueblo School Attacked by Radio Rants

Los Angeles Times, L.A. charter school sues radio station. Academia Semillas del Pueblo claims a talk-show host made slanderous remarks that led to security risks.

By Tami Abdollah and Howard Blume, Times Staff Writers
April 19, 2007

A year-long feud between a talk radio personality and an L.A. charter school is ending up in an unusual court case.

School administrators filed a lawsuit this week against KABC-AM (790) and Doug McIntyre, alleging the host of “McIntyre in the Morning” targeted the school in a slanderous, racially motivated campaign last summer that resulted in a bomb threat to the school and ongoing security risks.

Academia Semillas del Pueblo and Marcos Aguilar, the El Sereno school’s co-director, claim McIntyre “targeted the school for destruction because the children were Latino, the teachers were Latino, the principal director was Latino,” according to the suit.

About 92% of the school’s 327 students are Latino.

The school was founded in 2002 with the mission of “providing urban children of immigrant families an excellent education founded upon native and maternal languages, cultural values and global realities,” with teaching primarily in Spanish.

It became a focus of controversy last year when McIntyre accused the school of pursuing a racist, separatist and dangerously revolutionary agenda. The allegations were looked into by Los Angeles Unified School District officials. They found nothing politically worrisome, but they did have serious concerns about the school’s low test scores, which were a secondary focus for McIntyre.

The conflict between KABC and the school first made headlines last year.

Last June, a man tried to run down a KABC radio reporter who was outside the campus interviewing parents. The suspect was arrested on assault charges. School backers insist the incident had nothing to do with them.

KABC spokesman Steve Sheldon said the station would not comment on the lawsuit.

McIntyre has worked for KABC for about five years. His morning talk show, which is from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., has been on the air for roughly two years and is advertised as offering a “balanced look at the day’s hot topics with a healthy dose of humor that keeps listeners coming back for more.”

Talk radio hosts have long taken advantage of 1st Amendment free speech protections that give them broad latitude. The suit alleges, however, that McIntyre is guilty of civil rights violations for inciting others to harm the school and its students, as well as slander.

According to the court filing, McIntyre made a number of false statements, including: “His [Aguilar’s] job is to keep his school, his madrasa school, open so they can train the next generation of Aztec revolutionaries. Again, I want to make sure that we emphasize this: This school should close.”

The lawsuit also quotes McIntyre as allegedly saying: “Aztecs butchered and ate Spanish invaders. I wonder if they’re teaching that at ASDP.”

KABC would neither confirm nor deny whether McIntyre made those statements.

As a result of McIntyre’s comments, the school has had to hire security guards, adding tens of thousands of dollars to its operating costs, Aguilar said.

The lawsuit follows the firing of radio host Don Imus last week over a racist and sexist remark, which set off a large-scale debate over whether some talk-show hosts go too far.

“Shock jocks” are not new, said Marty Kaplan of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. “The more they could make your jaw drop … the more their ratings went up — it has since become a standard genre.”

L.A.’s Academia Semillas del Pueblo School Attacked by Radio Rants

An Exhausted Gay American

From John at An Exhausted Gay American, “This weekend KETV Omaha has provided live coverage of the ‘Love Won Out,’ Focus on the Family conference intended to ‘curb homosexuality’ and promote ‘the truth that change is possible for those who experience same-sex attractions.’ While this festival of self-loathing and monstrous bigotry plays out, Don Imus is fired for making a horribly tasteless and grossly inappropriate joke about a group of black women. But who cares about a bunch of fags? Obviously not any of our prominent civil rights crusaders” […]

An Exhausted Gay American

Virginia Tech School Shooting Worst in U.S. History

Washington Post, 32 Killed in Virginia Tech Shootings, At Least 24 Injured

[…] “Wayne Neu, a professor of ocean engineering, was in his office across from Norris Hall when he heard shots, including what sounded like a police shotgun. ‘I saw one faculty member who was shot in the arm apparently being led away,’ he said. ‘I’ve been here 25 years I’ve never seen something like this happen.’

Matteo del Ninno, a junior from Alexandria, had overslept and was rushing to his 10:10 a.m. class in Norris 200, when his girlfriend text-messaged him to see if he was OK. He hadn’t heard anything about shootings but noticed the ambulances around; after her warning he went back to his house next to campus and checked all his messages. He’s worried about his friends, engineering students who always meet before class in the hall.” […]

Time-line from College Media/Collegiate Times

Virginia Tech School Shooting Worst in U.S. History

Open Point Letter to the Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights

The dehumanizing legacy of discrimination is rampant and any reasonable individual who heard what was said by Don Imus has to be reminded about how much more we need to do to untangle racism and homophobia from the institutions that perpetuate it and continue to give it a place on the national table. The Scarlet Knights have a unique opportunity today to do just that: to move beyond demagoguery and turn the conversation to the importance of changing entrenched ignorance into positive change born out of reflective thought. But before that can happen, the Scarlet Knights need to be armed with a clear understanding of the importance of their role in moving the conversation forward.

I’ve elsewhere noted how there is a “tiered spectrum” of allies and opponents in the battle against racism and discrimination. The allies don’t need to be convinced about the importance of achieving equality; they already know its foundational importance in democratic systems. The racists will likely never be convinced; their world is small, closing in, and imploding inward. It is only the ignorant, through convenience or stupidity, who can be moved — in all senses of the word — in the direction of reason. So to the Scarlet Knights I proffer this:

First, it is important to recognize all the important voices that have emerged in support of your team, your dignity, and your great accomplishments. These voices know racism and discrimination and they are to be commended for supporting you and letting you know they stand in solidarity.

Second, there are hearts too soiled by ignorance and arrogance to be reasoned with. The arc of the moral universe will prove them wrong and we should all take great comfort in that. But they stand outside of reason, and will never feel your pain as much as revel in it.

Third, there are the truly ignorant (in the most generous sense of term) who either don’t know about racism and discrimination because they’ve been too sheltered or because they love the world they’ve built so much that they keep this most persistent and inconvenient truth out of immediate sight. They may be white, black, Asian, Latino, but what they have in common is a nagging moral compass that inconveniently but incontrovertibly points toward justice.

In the influential political blog, Eschaton, the writer Atrios recently noted that, “Paula Begala [CNNs political analyst and democratic strategist] just told me that the Rutgers basketball team could turn themselves into heroes by forgiving Don Imus.” Though I turn to neither for my opinions, the observation left me wondering about the political future of the Scarlet Knights’ response to Don Imus’ pernicious ignorance. What would the record say if the team “forgave” him? If they did not? In the nationally tiered spectrum of lived reactions to racism and discrimination, who will be better able to see the light of reason?

Open Point Letter to the Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights