Category Archives: On Education

Making Maestre

Here is the slide presentation I gave with my partner this week at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. It is based upon our primary research on the Elm City Girls’ Choir of New Haven. Photographs are my own; audio and video is not included here, but recordings of this group can be purchased through the United Choir School office. One hope I have is that the choir will continue to reach a wider audience despite the fact that the organization is unable to dedicate many funds to advertising concerts. The text that goes with the slide presentation will come along shortly.

Stacie Vos

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Buck Gems: The American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

Girl at natural history

I took this photograph because it would record for me of the power of these dioramas, for young and old. I saw the girl stop in her tracks, something that made the educator in me snap to. Then I realized that I paused because seeing her was like watching myself look at these recreated gemsbok, their horns like tree-spears puncturing an artificial sky, their eyes piercing, the feet all planted.

SNV 2013

with thanks to Armand Morgan

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Sexual Equality Means Zero Tolerance: On Yale’s Sex Crimes Report

It’s so, so frustrating to have

reported to the school, been let down

by the school, brought it to the

federal government and then get let

down by the federal government.

Alexandra Brodsky, to Huffington Post

In some cases, rapists receive no more than a “written reprimand” about their behavior. Yale University’s recent report on sexual violence might suggest that petty theft is a greater crime than violence against women.

I recently received a very neutral e-mail from the University Title IX Coordinator, in which she included a link to the fourth semi-annual Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct. Because I have concerned myself with women’s safety and equality since these terms became available to me, I was not entirely surprised by the lack of seriousness evident in the descriptions of the many complaints listed in the “report.”

Both The Huffington Post and The New Haven Register precede me in presenting articles that criticize the diplomatic and ineffective term “nonconsensual sex,” repeated throughout the document. This term symbolizes what appears to be an attempt to make vague and illegitimate the complaints of the few women who have spoken up about sexual violence. Anyone who has ever considered the problem knows that the vast majority of women who experience sexual harassment and assault do not report it. This is often due to a combination of self-blaming and active hostility on the part of the authorities who are responsible for investigating and prosecuting sex crimes (For instance, I once spoke to a Philadelphia police officer who said he liked to “get to the women before the rape advocates did,” suggesting that women fabricated rape complaints, especially after talking with one another).

If we take for granted that most sexual violence goes unreported, we should be even more alarmed by the acts reported below, and the fact that they are met with disciplinary actions so slight as to be laughable to both the respondents and to outside parties like myself.

Here are a few highlights from the report: (And below I list articles detailing the 2011 Title IX complaint)

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It is clear that fines will not deter Yale from sustaining itself despite this utter lack of concern for half of the student body (See Huffington Post link above regarding the fines of $155,000 this year). It should also be clear that a man who rapes and harasses women commits a crime that is neither tolerable nor forgivable. He does not deserve to keep a position at an ivy league university, a position that could instead go to any number of capable, non-violent, respectful individuals. The priority in addressing his behavior must not be (as it often is, even in the recent national harassment cases we have seen involving mayors and potential mayors) “counseling” or “gender sensitivity training.”* This is not a “sensitivity” issue. This is about violent crimes against women that are directly related to both their ability to obtain a quality education and their human rights in general.

In the meantime, I can attest to the fact that concerned female students will feel it is their duty to write articles such as this one, putting aside for at least a period of time their own academic interests and writing (or, perhaps their grocery shopping at the very least). It is unthinkable that women who endure sexual violence must continue to attend classes and frequent the same libraries and dining halls as their assailants. That these women manage to succeed, as they must, is to no credit to the university.

Stacie Vos

*On the issue of seeing the rapist as the victim, I suggest Barbara Johnson’s essay “Muteness Envy.” In it she combines an exploration of the trope of women’s silence throughout the English poetic tradition. Beginning with Keats, Johnson moves into an analysis of Jane Campion’s film The Piano and public reactions to it. She ends with a discussion of “Take Back the Night” ceremonies and our culture’s general ability to conflate women’s pain and pleasure, men’s aggression with their victimhood. The concluding paragraph can give you a sense:

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See also: 

Alexandra Brodsky’s Protests and Efforts After Being Asked by Yale Authorities to Cover Up an Attempted Rape by Another Yale Student

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/06/18/was_yale_really_cleared_on_sexual_harrassment_.html

http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/blog_posts/1517

http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2013/07/17/title-ix-complainant-organizes-protest-outside-doe/

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Teenage Writers on Creativity in Schools

Prompted by Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on this subject, from a group of international students, New Haven 2013

Ken Robinson writing

Guest Post: “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

The following is a brief reflection from a student I recently worked with at the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport. She chose the following poem as her source:

Dreams

 
by Langston Hughes
 
Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16075
 
Dreams
Kalala Mangabu
 
I just want to focus on the part “barren field frozen with snow.” First of all, dreams are like a mirror image of  their dreamer and are symbolic, they contain information about the unconscious mind. so when dreams die, it’s like there is nothing to life. I mean life becomes meaningless just like a barren field. What’s a field? A field is an open area, where you can plant something and expect it to grow. It’s always somewhere productive, and what happens if it becomes barren? It then becomes useless and loses its purpose.
 
Dreams in the author’s opinion, provide us with something to look out for and if one doesn’t hold fast to them, life will never reach its potential of becoming fruitful or turn into a beautiful thing just like a field. Its purpose is to be fruitful and produce something but when it is frozen with snow, it loses its value and purpose. I guess what the author is trying to say is that we are nothing without dreams and that is why he uses metaphors to show how serious his statement is.
 
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On Cows

Lydia Davis has already done this sort of cow observing in her chapbook, The Cows. Perhaps inspired (as usual) by her, I couldn’t help but put down a few words about some of the cows in my own town:

 

From the gate we saw the youngest at the corner of the pasture, hiding against the stone wall. Another licked himself under a tree at the top of the hill. One stood guard in the center of the field. Cow number A24 came close to us, so close that when I read the tag on his ear, he seemed to nod, suggesting that both he and I knew his “name.”

The bulk of the group, however, rotated around the cow with a particular attribute on this rainy day. Attached to the end of his knotted tail was a long stick shaped like a slingshot. Two cows stood on either side of him at first, trying to knock the stick away. This effort was short lived, however. The cows all went back to chewing, and the stick just hung there, swaying back and forth with the slow steps of its host.

2013 S. Vos

How Many Blogs

Here is one blog I used to use, for writing on art:

http://stacievos.tumblr.com