How Columbian student’s Dangerous Space could be truly dangerous


As universities across the U.K. roll out policies instituting safe spaces on campus, which enforce rules against any form of speech that is intolerant and insensitive, students have taken a hostile stance against them. Viewed as shutting down debate, dialogue, and discourse on topics of identity, beliefs, and culture, students have taken to the streets to push back against this institutional development.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic pond, students in the U.S. have adopted a similar attitude towards institutional designs to establish safe zones. This is the story of Columbia University junior Adam Shapiro. In an op-ed piece run by the Columbian Spectator, the flagship publication of the university, Adam said that college is both a space and time intended to nurture critical thought and reflection, not blind faith and dogmatism. He said that what drew him to Columbia was the liberal culture that prized free speech and rational thought above all – a kind of culture that would host Iran’s then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust and questioned the existence of gay citizens in his country. While Shapiro maintains that no one should ever feel physically unsafe or subject to hate speech, a completely frank and open culture better counters bigotry while ensuring that all value systems are tested by all. It is this belief that led him to ignore a flyer that was slipped under his door inviting him to declare his room a safe space and instead put up a notice announcing it to be a ‘dangerous space’.

To begin, I must establish that I am a firm proponent of open dialogue and discourse. I believe that a free marketplace of ideas will serve us well, if it is truly free and fair by all. I acknowledge the power of rationality in changing views. But, like any other creation of the human mind, rational thought and discourse contain their own flaws. Allow me to illustrate why Adam Shapiro’s ‘dangerous space’, though perhaps well intended, is far more dangerous than he may realize.

“We need dangerous spaces where bad ideas can die and good ones can flourish” is what Adam expects of these spaces. The question that begs to be asked is who is to distinguish between bad and good? The history of humanity is a gargantuan textbook of examples demonstrating that we have struggled to understand and adjust to differences. In a society in which the majority outweigh the minority, and the crescendo of the vociferous extremists can prevail upon the silent moderates, violence can reign unchecked. One could argue that universities are structurally and culturally different and do not represent the dynamics of society, but here we run into that age-old predicament of generalizing our mythic expectations of a place of esoteric learning and the nature of an exceptional few to the masses, who tend to remain quiet and unaware. Universities in their natural state do represent society, for modern education does not always translate to social awareness. If one were to analyze any social justice movement, it is evident that stigmatized groups were never handed rights from the ether. Neither were they won through debate and discourse alone. Rather, these groups made their voices heard, and became a thorn in the side of institutions, thereby prompting structural change. Mainstream public opinion was perhaps the last to change. The suffragette movement and the LGBTQ+ movement stand as prime examples. If we were to consider the latter, when the first homophile movement was chartered at (ironically) Columbia University in 1967, the Columbian Spectator was overwhelmed with complaints by students deriding the institution’s decision to acknowledge a gay rights movement. These problems plague us to the present day, from the controversy that gripped all of Dartmouth in 2013 to the homophobia and transphobia that exists in college sports culture.

We must wonder, why do colleges buckle under pressure and institute such policies? Is it not to safeguard the personhood of those who have been victimized for far too long? My concern with dangerous spaces is that, despite the best of intentions, they can be subverted to cause more harm than good. When spaces do not contain any rules or safeguards, then the law of the jungle prevails. How do we break past the barriers that the victimized have erected due to years of oppression, if they know that they are offered no protection? How do we encourage those who live in the margins, the closets, and shadows to step into these circles and be authentic? How do we deal with those stubborn few who refuse to accept differences, who now are given free license to hurt and mar? How do we prevent celebrity status and social influence from granting some voices more power than others? There is a grave danger in these dangerous spaces for the voice of diversity to be stifled and only the mainstream rhetoric to be heard. For the sake of argument, let us disregard all of these concerns and assume a foolproof system that ensures that all are heard, and equally. What if the majority decide, through pure reason, that the minority is wrong? Does this mean that the identities, beliefs, values, and culture of a minority must fall prey to the whims of the collective? Even democracy, the bastion of collective rule, strives to avoid the trap of majoritarianism by instituting minority rights.

What is the alternative, you may ask? Embrace safe spaces is my response. Safe spaces and rational discourse are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we should do all that is in our power to facilitate discussion and debate within safe spaces, on the understanding that certain voices cannot be stifled. And this does not mean that everyone should be or will be well informed and in full agreement. These spaces should be a testing ground where we are unafraid to make mistakes in order to learn, and unafraid to disagree in order to realize that different does not mean danger. While imperfect, these spaces have the most potential to foster a culture of reason in its purest form, impervious to human failings.


#OSCARSSOWHITE : A Matter of Race

As black history month comes to a close, let’s talk about racial representation, particularly in regard to the 87th Academy Awards. This year the Oscars were watched by 34.6 million people worldwide—a considerable chunk of the world’s population!

I think it’s safe to say that if you’re watching the Oscars you must, even in the smallest of ways, care about the Oscars. It might be a life-long aspiration to win one of those pretty golden trophies, or even simply because your girlfriend is into it. Regardless, people who are attentive to the Academy Awards set multitudes of standards. It also doesn’t hurt that filmmaking is among one of the nation’s most lucrative and growing industries.

The “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” (AMPAS) consists of members that are allowed into this super prestigious organization by invitation only. These high-profile invitations are selected and sent with a blessing from the Board of Governors and once you’re in, you’re in for life. (Admittedly, this is really cool).
So let’s get to the problem: with about 6,000 members, a whopping 93% of Oscar voters are white. Of those 6,000, 76% are male, and their average age is 63. So we have this really important organization (consisting of a mostly elderly white males) voting on what motion pictures, actresses, and original songs are ranked “the best” of the cinematic year.

Bearing this in mind, let’s look at the number of Black academy award winners (using the image below from International Business Times):


A little concerning right?

Obviously, I’m not the first one to notice this. AMPAS’ President, Cheryle Boone Isaacs, has already responded to lawyer and blogger April Reign’s #OSCARSSOWHITE viral trend. Boone Isaacs expressed that she was would love see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories and that the Academy “continues to make strides toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization.” Cheryle continued on to declare that that it was Hollywood itself that needed to become more racially diverse “as an economic imperative, if not a moral one.”

Norwegian animator Bard Edlund created a great video comprehensively depicting the racial distribution of past Oscar winners.

Check it out!

<p><a href=”″>Diversity Among Winners at the Oscars</a> from <a href=””>Bard Edlund</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

-Alexander Santos

Images & Related Links:

My Appreciative Rant on Count Volta & Batteries

We have batteries to thank for everything from our cars to our mobile phones, but have you ever wondered where these wonderful contraptions came from?

Technically the first electric battery originated in Italy all thanks to Italian chemist and physicist Count Allesandro Volta. His inspiration towards making the first battery was sparked by Luigi Galvani, and Italian anatomist who had been dissecting a frog when its leg began to twitch. Knowing absolutely nothing about electrical nerve in the 18th century, Volta attempted to solve this mystery, eventually coming to the conclusion that the metal instruments used to hold the frog’s leg had conducted electricity. Volta continued working on this concept for several years until around 1800 when he finally created a continuous flow of electric current via a “wet battery”, now called a “Voltaic Pile.”

A Voltaic Pile consists of discs of copper and zinc separated by discs of paper or cardboard which are soaked in salt water (hence being named a “wet” battery). When Volta closed the circuit, using copper wire, he effectively made electricity flow continuously through the pile. (see images below)

VoltaBattery o-level-physics-notes-the-voltaic-pile-html-m22b4eed2

The battery was of course refined by later scientists so that they can fit in our itty-bitty smart phones and are manufactured all over the world. China, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic and South Korea are currently the world leaders in battery production, and this market is expected to grow considerably as battery consumption increases exponentially. Today there are still really cool advances happening with battery technology. With global warming and carbon emissions becoming an increasingly dire issue, powerful electric car batteries are becoming not only more efficient, but recyclable and more easily producible. Old laptop batteries, which would otherwise be taking up space in landfills, can now be used to light homes in developing countries!

So there’s my rant on batteries. Thank you Count Volta!


-Alexander Santos

Yoni Ki Baat—the South Asian Vagina monologues

On February 7th the Grind was packed with eager Clarkies waiting for Yoni Ki Baat—the South Asian Vagina monologues—to start. Yoni in Sanskrit means the Vagina and Yoni Ki baat, assumed to be quite similar to the Vagina Monologues, are monologues on sex, abuse, assault, discrimination and pleasure experienced by the women in South Asia.

Yoni Ki Baat (YKB), performed annually in San Francisco, was created by a group of diverse strong-headed South Asian women called the South Asian Sisters ( . Monologues performed at Clark’s very own YKB were a combination of those written by the original South Asian Sisters and others written/compiled by Clarkies themselves.

The South Asian Student Association (SASA) is always known to put up a great YKB every year. However, having attended two other YKBs during my time here, I personally felt that this was one of the biggest, most relatable and unique YKBs so far. Many exceptional new pieces were introduced in the show and many very well-written pieces as well. There were first-year Clarkies who showed their utmost enthusiasm by writing and performing their own pieces with grace and confidence. It was absolutely amazing to see so many wonderful individuals put so much work into promoting and educating others about the issues that women face in South Asia.

My favorites from the show were ‘Rape culture’ performed by Bhumika Regmi, ‘Women there are so oppressed’ by Meyru Bhanti and ‘Mum’s the word’ by Lubaina Selani. Bhumika’s piece brought together discriminatory experiences women face, since childhood, and how it’s time to change people’s mentality and break this long chain of discrimination passed on from one generation to the other. Meyru’s piece, on the other hand, was a more light-toned-sarcastic-funny piece (as the title may suggest) that talked about very important perceptions of feminism in the first world and the third world. Last but not the least, Lubaina’s very intimate personal monologue talked about a 20-something women finding it hard to share all her experiences and heartbreak with her own mother—a very common phenomenon in the South Asian culture.

Having performed in this year’s YKB as well, I got a first row view as to how much work actually takes place to put on shows like these. Hours and weeks of rehearsing, memorizing, improving and providing constructive feedback to performers were immensely challenging and time consuming tasks. But it was all worth it when I was up on stage—nervous, excited, unsure and confident… all of it all together! It felt amazing to hear a room full of people cheer and clap after showcasing something you put weeks into making perfect! It was such an amazing experience that I was actually suffering from YKB-withdrawal afterwards!

It’s always great to attend events at Clark that try to give you new outlook and insight to world issues through unique events such as vagina monologues. It truly engages the audiences and makes sure everyone has something to take home with them. As an aware South Asian I wouldn’t say this was the first time I had heard of these issues. However, I still took with me a non-South Asian community that was now aware and quite supportive of a very big part of my culture.

-Brown and Proud! Suaida Firoze

A Poem About Winter


Blistering, bustling sheets of snow
Peircing wind blowing as we go
Sparkling white on the first day
But we live in a city so it never stays
Instead that brown slosh just wont go away​.
Though, its not all so bad, you see.
We are all so lucky just to be
Here at this quirky, liberal university.
Dreaming of spring and warm summer air,
But the cold keeps most inside their cozy lairs.
Once it was said to me before I had my feathers,
“No such thing as bad weather, only the clothes you wear.”

-Annalise Kukor


photos by Demet Senturk

Celebrating Lunar New Year with the Asian Cultural Society


Clark University’s very own Asian Cultural Society hosted their annual Lunar New Year celebration in Tilton Hall this past Saturday, February 7th to celebrate the New Year in Japan, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea and Singapore. The night mostly consisted of performances that highlight traditions in these countries. The student club opened the program with the Lion Dance, which was put on by Worcester youth neighborhood dancers. The Lion Dance is “thought to bring good luck. There are usually two dancers. One acts as the head and the other the body. They dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong. On the head of the lion is mirror so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections”(Top Marks 2015).


Following the resounding performance, Professor Alice Valentine came on stage for opening remarks in which she highlighted that there were 3 ways Clark University is making Asian connections in the past, present and future that will make a difference in our lives today. She began by reviewing 3 Clark alumni who were Chinese who attended Clark 80 to 90 years ago. These 3 alumni have challenged and changed the world.

The first Clark alumnus who was Chinese came to Clark to earn his BA degree in 1913. Once upon gaining his BA at Clark and eventually getting a PhD at Columbia, this alumnus went back to China to teach at a prestigious university. He was best known as one of the original drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served along with Eleanor Roosevelt in the committee that drafted the document.

The second Chinese Clark alumnus, who attended Clark for a couple of years and continued his education at Harvard University, became famous at the turn of the 20th century. This individual returned to his native country to China and became the top archaeologist in his generation. His profession lead him to be an asset for groundbreaking important excavations of the Shang Dynasty from 1500-1050 BC.

The last and final Chinese alumnus, Professor Valentine, was a student who attended Clark and studied History. He went on to study at Columbia and then Cambridge University in England. He fell in love with English poetry and went on to become the most famous Chinese poet of the 20th century.

Even when looking back hundreds of years ago, Clark students were challenging convention and changing our world. Clark University’s Chinese alum Professor Valentine went on to discuss ways in which we can find Asian culture in Worcester. We see Asian culture at Clark University through cultural celebrations held by the Asian Cultural Society and we will see Asian culture at the Worcester Art Museum on April 18th in their exhibit titled “Samurai!, ” which highlights Samarian history and culture. This exhibit will show ways in which Japanese and American artists are collaborating to explore Samurai fascination all over the world.


After Professor Valentine’s discussion, attendees were served traditional Asian cuisines prior to the beginning of the second part of the event, which consisted of more dancing found in countries that celebrate Lunar New Year. The evening concluded with a discussion of ways to continue the celebration of Asian culture and, most importantly, reflecting on the past, present and future heritage of Asia.

-Tarikwa Leveille


Photos by Demet Senturk

Work Cited
“Topmarks – Primary Resources, Interactive Whiteboard Resources, and Maths and Literacy Games.” Chinese New Year Customs. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Homesickness: (not) 101

Many would agree that one of the hardest adjustments of coming to the land of dreams for college is being here without your family. Of course, starting over in a very new culture is the first thing that hits you. For me, all of a sudden my morning rutis (flour tortillas) and alu bhaji (spiced potato frittery-things) were replaced with a bagel and cream cheese. I found myself leaving for the day and walking through rather empty roads than sitting in my car for hours in traffic ogling at crowds of people struggling to get into a bus.

A few months in and there comes the homesickness. I miss my family and friends—collectively of course. I miss fighting with my sister about borrowing (stealing) her top for the night. I miss hating someone nagging me to eat my breakfast. I miss the thrill of hanging out with my friends past curfew. I think about all these restrictions I had living at home and suddenly realize it all made sense.

A year goes by, two even, and I’ve gotten used to it all. I crave for that morning coffee and I wake up just in time to get the fried eggs in the caf. I think about ruti and alu bhaji sometimes, but the struggle of having to wake up and make it on my own makes it a little less appealing. I still call my parents quite often. I realize slowly but surely that I miss them the most. I miss all that nagging and all the advice they had to give me, which a few years ago seemed like a list of jargon. But now they start making sense. I realize how easy it was to take them and their presence for granted… how easy it was to just cuddle up close to my mom while she watched TV and just be careless—annoying her just because it was fun to see how she reacted… having my dad treat me like a baby and even make the baby voice—such a normal part of my daily life. I consulted with them when I made every decision, big or small, and just had them there for it all.

I meet a lot of people who think it’s just quite absurd that I call my mom almost every day. Somehow (and many of my South Asian friends will agree) the culture of ‘moving out’ of your parents nest when you enter adulthood is something that is NOT going to become a thing for me. In most parts of South Asia, you keep relying on your parents until you realize that it’s time they start relying on you. There is never going to be a time where you will be alright imagining a life without them. You’ll think about your career, your hopes, and your future but always imagine them to be a part of it. It’s not absurd, at least not in my world.

It’s when you realize that you are missing so many days of their lives, days that turn into months and years, and you are just not there for it. You are finally ready to be friends with them and have them see who you’ve become, except they are missing out on it too. You start to realize that they are getting pretty old and you just aren’t there for them. And all of this just becomes a part of THIS college experience—a series of mixed feelings of realization, maturity, and helplessness combined with never-ending love and gratitude. You aren’t sad or depressed, you are happy and content with your life. But you know the homesickness is there. You aren’t really over it, but it’s a little better because you’ve accepted it. As an international student your new home is in you—it’s portable. It’s your memories, your long phone calls with family, your experiences (the old and new) and your morning cravings of ruti and alu bhaji. All of this is normal, at least I’d like to believe so.

-A very homesick Clarkie, Suaida Firoze

A Physician Shortage in the US? Yes, It’s True

Did you know that the United States is going through a physician shortage?! Currently, there are about 293 doctors to every 100,000 patients. This would normally be an OK doctor-to-patient ratio, except for the fact that only about 88 out of that 293 are primary care physicians. Primary care physicians are the pediatricians, family doctors, and internal doctors that one would see when you have a cold or some other common ailment. The other 205 in that doctor-to-patient ratio are specialist physicians whom often get a little extra training in order to focus on one area of medicine, such as neonatal specialists or neurologists.

So, why the shortage in primary care physicians? Well, professionals in the health sector have attributed this shortage to the considerable difference in salaries between primary physicians and specialists. Specialists generally make at least double of what primary doctors will make per year; seeing as most medical students pay for tuition through loans, more money is a huge selling point. There also is an unfounded stigma that primary physicians belong at the bottom of the ‘physician totem pole’, and new up-and-coming doctors seldom want to settle after eight years of consecutive schooling.

Okay, now we know some of the reasons why this shortage has come about, so why is it such a big deal? Well, in an article I found on (see link below) Shawn Tully compared primary care to oil in an energy market; if there is no oil the energy market will fail to function, and if there are not enough primary care physicians the health care market will fail to function. Receiving attention from any specialists is almost always preceded by some form of primary care, so consider primary doctors as the first tier in a large, hierarchical (and admittedly chaotic) health care system. Without enough primaries working at the first level, the system becomes stunted, unorganized and muddled!

What are we to do you ask? Since the situation is expected to worsen, there have been a number of initiatives from organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to encourage new medical professionals to enter primary care, and also help those physicians who are already being overwhelmed in the field. The AMA is trying to push the formation of ‘accountable care organizations’ (ACO), which would help bridge the gap between primary and specialty care through expediting the processes involved in primary care (such as compiling electronic medical records, creating specific protocols, and assigning patients particularly suited primary physicians). The AAMC is considering creating institutions specific to primary care in an effort to entice new medical students with new residency positions and state-of-the-art facilities.

According to the AAMC, in 2020 the US will be 900,000 physicians short than what is recommended—the majority of those being primary physicians. If change is to happen, it has got to happen soon!

-Alexander Santos

American Black by Lulu Moyo

Every 28 hours a young black man dies in America
Due to white on black crime.
Every 28 hours a black man loses his time on Earth;
The result of a curse
Some say by Canaan,
Some don’t want to lay name or acknowledgement
To the unchanging accomplishments of racism in America.
That that’s just the way life is.
That that is just the way life is.
Some ask, “Isn’t racism dead?”
I heard a fed in a news broadcast once say that
It is all in the heads of blacks.
That the fact of the matter is we are begging for attention;
Retention of ill feelings for things that happened in “ancient history”.

They say the last recorded lynching happened in 1981,
But one lynching happened every 28 hours.
For 4 hours, the blazing afternoon sun towered
Over Michael Brown’s body.
His blood baked into the asphalt
While people sipped their coffee and went about their day.
He laid there with bullets inside him as passersby came for hour hours,
Craned their necks over their white picket fences,
Just to get a piece of him.

Eric Garner;
The last things he tasted were blood and cement
As his face was smashed against the ground.
He found himself being choked lifeless over cigarettes
John Crawford was murdered for
Picking up a toy gun in a store.
Need more?
Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Timothy Thomas, Amadou Diallo.

Need more?
Does this not sound like the history of America?
Strange fruit hanging with their mouths agape
Eyes bulging out of their skulls
As passersby came to get a look.
Racism in not dead
It took their lives
And instead of strange fruit swinging from trees these thieves
Leave bodies in parking lots, ditches, suburban neighborhoods,
And back yards

The cards of black men in this country have been dealt
And they aren’t looking good.
These deaths continue due to
Slandered images of niggas in the hood
Selling drugs doing what thugs do
These deaths continue to be justified
By claims of self-defense and laws like Stand Your Ground.
How many rounds of violence,
How many slain people will it take for change to come?
Why aren’t more people coming together as one to make something happen?
Hashtags don’t quite cut it for social activism
#justice isn’t doing enough to fight this ‘ism’
That plagues the black community
Instead of using those four lines
Let’s form lines in the DC streets.
Let’s riot until laws are made to meet the needs
Of protecting our young black men and women.
Because at this point black lives are expendable
Black lives are disposable and it’s acceptable
For institutions to protect murderers and to degrade victims
It’s a system, a cycle.
It’s too painful to hear about more inexplicable deaths of unarmed blacks
And still adhere to the claim that human kind is equal.

I fear accepting that in the next 28 hours there’ll be another Michael.

by Lulu Moyo

watch the clarkie-made video that’s getting big recognition

Clark University’s News Hub just released an article on February 3rd stating that Clark’s undergraduate admissions information session video, “Moments: A four-year journey through the eyes of actual Clark University students”, has received a 2015 CASE District I Excellence Award. To read the article, follow this link:

And enjoy the video made by a bunch of wonderful students and alum from Skyscope Creative!

<p><a href=”″>Moments – Clark University</a> from <a href=””>Skyscope</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>