I’m a Cis, White Girl and I Was Almost the Victim of A Hate Crime

 By Ruby Samuels

Two weeks ago, a bearded man with a long robe and a koran threatened me and my girlfriend with a switchblade. We were on a train coming home from an art house in Brooklyn and I had my arm around her. I guess my arm must have been pretty offensive because the man screamed, knife in hand, “I fucking hate lesbians and faggots! Hate them! One of these days, I’m gonna do something about it.”

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Why Every Barnard Student Should Be Watching Veep

by Laura K. Garrison

Where are my Veeple people?

Tonight, girls around campus will share HBO GO passwords and crowd around lounge televisions to watch the continuing saga that is the fourth season of Game of Thrones and the season seven premiere of Mad Men. Afterwards, they will return to their last-minute homework, plan for L-course signup, and eventually try to get some sleep for the busy week ahead. Unfortunately, these students will be missing out on one of the funniest, and most underrated, television shows currently on air: HBO’s Veep, starring Seinfeld‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, My Girl‘s Anna Chlumsky, and Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale. Veep has been well-received by critics, garnering numerous awards including two Emmys for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and one for Tony Hale.

Season three of Veep premiered last Sunday, as Vice President Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) stopped in Iowa during her book tour for Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey. Her bumbling staff is back in DC for the wedding of her Director of Communications, Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh), and the President (unknown, but referred to as POTUS) is forced to make a major announcement after a social media-related mishap by Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), the annoying White House liaison to the Vice President. Though off to a bit of a slow start, season three promises a bright future for the Veep’s political career, including a possible presidential campaign, new staff members, and continued rivalries with some of Washington’s most influential men.

Every Barnard student should watch Veep, a true lesson in women’s strength and leadership.

Selina Meyer is the Vice President of the United States, the closest a woman has ever come to the office of the president.

While Selina perhaps isn’t the greatest example of women in elected positions, she is fiery and determined and doesn’t take crap from anyone. After serving as a senator in Congress, she ran for president but was instead chosen as a candidate for VP. Despite this setback, she still has her eyes on the White House and is an inspiration to women running for office everywhere.

She has spent years fighting the patriarchy, so nothing can stop her.

During season two, Selina heads to Finland for a diplomatic trip in which she is fondled by the husband of the Finnish Prime Minister. Unable to report his behavior for political reasons, she vehemently decries the “axis of dick.” While there seems to be less emphasis on Selina’s gender than one might expect, in all her dealings with the powerful men of Washington she holds her own despite often being the only woman in the room.

She has a creative comeback for every situation, and I suggest you keep those tucked away for your own use.

As an HBO show, all of the characters on Veep use language not always appropriate in polite society. Selina in particular drops some of the best one liners against her political enemies. She often uses very colorful language and overt sexual innuendos to describe whatever difficult situation she and her staff find themselves in, and she sometimes borders on being verbally abusive when dealing with members of the DC establishment. She speaks her mind and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

She hires other strong women in important positions, who equally can hold their own in male-dominated Washington politics.

Amy Brookheimer (Chlumsky) serves as Selina’s Chief of Staff. Amy is by far the most competent person in the Vice President’s inner circle, and she is often tasked with fixing whatever disaster threatens the Veep’s political future (including claiming she was pregnant and miscarried when rumors swirl about a pregnancy test in the VP’s office). Most importantly, she is Selina’s friend and confidant and remains loyal to the Vice President during her most trying moments. Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw), who refers to herself as the “third most important person in the world” after the President and VP, is Selina’s personal assistant. She is abrasively sarcastic with callers on the phone and is dismissive of anyone she deems unworthy of her time. Like Amy, she is one of the few competent people in the Vice President’s office, which during last season almost fell apart during her absence due to testimony at a congressional hearing. In a running joke, Selina asks whether the President has called, to which Sue usually curtly replies, “No.”

Veep airs Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO and can be watched online at HBO GO.

Laura K. Garrison is a junior at Barnard and Editor in Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of HBO AsiaVulture, Tumblr, and Thought Catalog.

Summary of President Obama’s State of the Union Address 2014

by Laura K. Garrison

For those who weren’t playing along last night.

Last night, President Obama delivered the State of the Union address to a crowded House Chambers. A year into his second term, and a difficult year at that (troubled roll-out of Obamacare, government shutdown, failed legislation in gun control, immigration reform, etc.), the President delivered a typically optimistic speech, heavy with the American exceptionalism and can-do spirit one expects from a State of the Union address. While there were several fun quips in the middle, the speech got off to a serious start and ended on a heartfelt, emotional note. You can read and watch the address here, and check out our notes below.

Opening Remarks
President Obama began his address by remarking on what people around the country did today – a teacher, an entrepreneur, an autoworker, a farmer, a rural doctor – wholesome images of Americans hard at work. It wasn’t the most engaging opening, but it’s of note that he started off with the teacher who “spent extra time with a student who needed it and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.” Education would be a recurring theme in the President’s speech, and I think it speaks volumes that he chose this, rather than something related to the economy, as his leading image.

Next came the good news: “the lowest unemployment rate in over five years, a rebounding housing market, a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, more oil produced…at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years, our deficits cut by more than half; and for the first time…in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.” All in all, 2013 was our “breakthrough year.” This year, the President says, will be our “year of action.”

Creating Jobs
Though he promised to work with Congress, the President also made clear that he would search for ways to go around them “whenever and wherever I can” if they do not cooperate. The President mentioned the College Opportunity Summit, which DSpar attended, to work on making college education a reality for all students. The President then received a thumbs up from Speaker Boehner after a reference to his humble beginnings as a barkeep’s son. Boehner sat stone-faced the rest of the night.

Obama went on to support tax code reform to benefit companies that insource jobs back to the United States. Money saved from this reform would go towards improving infrastructure and creating more jobs. He announced his unwavering support for small businesses and technological innovation and encouraged Congress to undo cuts to research.

“Listen, China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines; and neither, neither should we. We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender.”

Energy and the Environment
While Obama proudly declared that his “all of the above” energy plan is working to make energy independence a reality, he focused primarily on natural gas. While a step-up from foreign oil, natural gas is not always “extracted safely,” i.e.fracking. He mentioned solar power and asserted that tax reform must prevent Big Oil from receiving $4 billion a year, so that this money can be invested in alternative fuel sources. And, to restate what we already know, the President made clear that climate change is indeed real.

“But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

Immigration, Job Training, and Unemployment
The President encouraged the House to pass immigration reform and touted the benefits of doing so, including economic growth and reduced deficits. He assigned Vice President Joe Biden to the task of creating job training programs, and he admonished Congress for allowing 1.6 million people to lose their unemployment insurance.

“When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let’s get immigration reform done this year. Let’s get it done. It’s time.”
Education
President Obama named student loan reform, the highest number of college degrees ever awarded, and Race to the Top among America’s achievements in education. For the second year in a row, however, Obama asked that Congress work with states to provide universal pre-K programs for all children. Students across the country are well on their way to receiving high-speed internet, partnerships between high schools, colleges, and employers, and continued reforms of student loan debt, including allowing monthly payments capped at ten percent of income.
“Now, some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it is worth it — and it is working.”
Women
Another cause near and dear to Barnard, the President listed equal pay for equal work and flexible workplace policies for parents as among his top priorities for women. This was naturally met with a standing ovation from many members of Congress, especially women.
“You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.” 
Minimum Wage
Obama congratulated the five states that raised minimum wage and asked Congress to do the same.

He gave a shout-out to Costco, the wholesale retailer known for its higher wages and good employment policies. President Obama announced that he would be putting forth an executive order so that federal contractors pay federally-funded employees at least $10.10 an hour. He acknowledged that the country’s minimum wage is almost twenty percent less than when Ronald Reagan took office. He mentioned Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller whose bill will raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

“It’s easy to remember: 10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It does not involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise. Give ‘em a raise.”
Healthcare
Despite the early woes of Obamacare, the President stood by his landmark legislation. Obama victoriously proclaimed that 3 million young adults now have coverage with their parents’ plan, 9 million have enrolled in some form of health insurance, and no one will ever lose or be denied healthcare due to a pre-existing condition or simply being a woman. He addressed Republicans in the House directly, reminding them that attempting to repeal Obamacare over forty times is not a productive use of session. President Obama then asked that each American encourage a friend to get insured before March 31st.
“Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans…The first 40 were plenty. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.”
Voting and Gun Rights
Though the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act last summer, the President announced that a bipartisan commission was working to ensure that all Americans can vote without more than a half-hour wait. Sadly, Obama only mentioned gun control in passing, vowing to keep working to prevent “tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters and our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.” He made no concrete statement as to how he plans to do this.
“It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.”

Foreign Policy and the Military
President Obama reminded the country that all troops are out of Iraq, and those in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave by the end of the year, effectively ending America’s longest war. He warned against the threat of al Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali and proclaimed American support for the Syrian opposition that “rejects…terrorist networks.” Obama stated his wishes to move away from “permanent war footing,” acknowledging needed limits to drone warfare and government surveillance. Returning to one of his early campaign promises, the President announced his intent to push for the closing of Guantanamo Bay. The highlight of foreign policy was Iran: he spoke of the negotiations to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and asserted that any attempt by Congress to create new sanctions would be vetoed.

The President’s goals for veterans include healthcare (and mental healthcare) and job training. Here, Obama told the story of Army Ranger Cory Remsburg who, on his tenth deployment, was severely injured by a roadside bomb. As he told Cory’s inspirational story of pain and recovery, tears welled in my eyes. This is where the President truly hit his stride, and I can’t think of a better person to honor at the State of the Union.

“My fellow Americans — my fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.”
Laura K. Garrison is a junior at Barnard and Editor in Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of the AAUW.

Renaissance Women Unite: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Comes to Barnard

by Soyini Driskell

Christine Quinn is running for New York Mayor
in September 2013.

Last Thursday, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is beginning her official bid for Mayor, had a conversation with President Spar on a range of topics. The speaker’s campaign is closely tied to Barnard. As she opened her remarks she gave some shoutouts to a few alums and current students who have worked or are still on her campaign: Maura Kearney ’96, Sarah Scheinman ’12, and current senior, Eva Schneider ’13, who will be working for the campaign full-time after her graduation.

Quinn is an engaging speaker: anecdotal and charming, with many ad-libs that drew on the warmth from the audience. She related a story about her grandmother who survived the crash of the Titanic and was one of the few women from third class (steerage) to do so. When asked how she made it off the ship when most of the poorer passengers did not, Quinn said her grandmother told her: “When the rest of the girls dropped down to pray, I made a run for it.” That break-from-the-pack mentality was an underlying theme in the Speaker’s remarks to the audience in the Event Oval of the Diana Center.

Barnard’s own president, Debora Spar,
frequently speaks on a lot of the same issues
Quinn addressed last Thursday

Among other topics, Quinn broached the subject of the ‘renaissance woman’—an archetypal, unattainable standard of perfection that puts pressure on today’s young women. The topic is an especially poignant one for President Spar, what with her Washington Post article “Why Our Brightest Female Students Are Still at a Disadvantage,” as well as a string of her other articles addressing many of the same topics. She framed this within a larger and more personal narrative of being a woman who has had to push many of these fears and voices aside in order to get things done. She touted the strength of getting out of one’s own way.

Speaker Quinn briefly answered questions on the stop-and-frisk tactic of the NYPD (she compared it to a tool in an officer’s ‘toolbox’ but agreed that the way was approached needs to be drastically changed, as it doesn’t yield the results it should).

When asked by President Spar what she would, in a hypothetical, fix with the wave of a wand, Quinn quickly mentioned affordable housing. Housing was a crucial part of her State of the City address on February 11th, where she mentioned both an “affordability crisis” and a “middle class squeeze.” Unfortunately, she was unable to go into greater detail on some of the ideas she broached in that earlier speech, which included a 30-year cap on real estate taxes for landlords who continue to be a part of the housing program that sets aside 20% of apartments in new buildings to be offered below-market rents, among other ideas.

As a New Yorker, and someone who hopes to (possibly? Maybe? In my dreams?) afford real estate in this city, I would have loved to hear Speaker Quinn speak more tangibly on her ideas for affordable housing, child literacy, and after-school programs, as well as the city’s continued efforts to rebuild large portions of the outer boroughs damaged by Hurricane Sandy five months ago.

Most importantly, as Quinn included in her talk, the democratic primary in New York is September 10th, 2013, so to everyone who cares about Ms. Quinn’s fate in this election, or just the mayor’s race in general, save the date and vote!

Soyini Driskell is a student at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of CNN and International House New York.

We Won the War on Women

by Samantha Plotner

This election was a historic one for women. When the new session of Congress convenes in January, both chambers will have record numbers of women (20 in the Senate, and at least 77 in the House). The House will have a record number of women of color (28!). New Hampshire, who also elected a female governor, will be represented by an entirely female delegation in Washington, a national first. Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wisconsin elected their first female Senators. Here are some of the awesome women who will be heading to Washington this winter.

Tammy Baldwin is a Democrat from Wisconsin who will not only be her state’s first female Senator, but also the first openly gay Senator. However this is not her first time going to Washington. Baldwin has served in the House since 1999 representing Wisconsin’s 2nd District. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Her main issues of focus in the House have been civil rights, green energy and healthcare.

Mazie Hirono is a Democrat from Hawaii who will be the first Asian-American woman in the Senate as well as her state’s first female senator. She has been representing Hawaii’s 2nd District in the House since 2006. A naturalized citizen who was born in Japan , she was the first female Asian immigrant in the House. Education is one of her main areas of focus.

Tulsi Gabbard, another Democrat from Hawaii, is heading to the House. When she is sworn in she will be first Hindu-American elected to Congress. She also served two tours in the Middle East with the National Guard, making her one of the first two female combat veterans to serve in the House. Before deploying, she was the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaii State Legislature. She has written editorials for the Huffington Post on Wall Street regulations, nuclear non-proliferation, women’s rights, and banks foreclosing on deployed troops.

In 2004, Tammy Duckworth became one of the first women to fly Black Hawk helicopter combat missions in Iraq. Her helicopter was shot down and she lost both legs and use of her right arm. After losing her first run for Congress she became the Director of Illinois’ Department of Veteran Affairs. President Obama appointed her Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2009. She led efforts to decrease veteran homelessness and for female veterans. She will be the first disabled woman in the House and one of the first two female combat veterans.

Elizabeth Warren‘s race against Senator Scott Brown was perhaps the most followed race behind the Presidency. She’s been a professor at Harvard Law School for nearly two decades, and was named One of the Most Influential Lawyers of the Decade by the National Law Journal. Frequently called the “Sheriff of Wall Street,” she championed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When she couldn’t become head of the Bureau, she was recruited to run for Senate.

Samantha Plotner is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Reuters, Twitter, Momocrats, Wikipedia, and Washington Post.