Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Letters

Good to know

I want to tell you that I read your article on Wheaton’s archives in the spring Quarterly, and I am quite impressed that they exist. This apparently is not something that was available to students in the 1960s or so. I would have known about it, as I am somewhat of a “collector.” I have an admittedly small assemblage of old articles, including one newspaper report about the first landing on the moon, in 1969.

At some point within the next few years, I hope to organize this collection in some way. And then, hoping that there is some (albeit small) value to it, I may pass the collection on to Wheaton. I know that someone may enjoy it.

As you can see, your article definitely resonated.

Sheila Kunian Vernick ’61

Taking a new path

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

The opening stanza of Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” speaks of an intersection and a choice to be made between two paths.

When it comes to alcohol and education, college students and colleges themselves stand at a critical juncture: continuing to address the issue through policies and practices that restrict behavior and punish transgressions or seeking to address the root causes of irresponsible and illegal use of alcohol.

This situation is neither new nor is the position entirely unique to higher education. The issue of alcohol abuse transcends colleges and universities. Irresponsible and illegal drinking begins well before many students matriculate at a college and continues long after graduation day. Nevertheless, the consumption of alcohol and alcohol abuse plays too great a role in the lives of some college students.

National studies offer an alarming picture. The use of alcohol contributes to about 1,700 deaths, nearly 600,000 injuries and 97,000 cases of sexual assault each year. And in recent years, the problem appears to have been growing in severity. The most recent data suggest that students’ binge drinking has been on the rise since the early 1990s.

Wheaton possesses no immunity from these trends, either. Our public safety and campus life staff spend a fair amount of time each week responding to underage or irresponsible alcohol use and the problems that arise from these situations. Often, violations of the college’s honor code and community standards can be traced back to alcohol or drug use. [Read more...]

Helping Haiti

Haiti benefit concert finale

In January, within hours of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Wheaton community began to do one of the things that its members do best—respond to need.

The Student Government Association, under the direction of Gabriel Amo ’10, worked with students to mobilize fundraising efforts that ran the gamut from collecting money in jars at various events to performing a benefit concert that featured a finale that was reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s celebrity-filled “We Are the World” recording.

[Read more...]

Professor wins NEH grant to focus on women’s roles in anti-apartheid fight

Kim MillerIf women are restored to their rightful place in the history of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, Kim Miller’s scholarship may be part of the reason why.

The assistant professor of women’s studies and art history is researching a book that will examine visual representations of women political activists in South Africa during and after the struggle against apartheid.

Miller’s project received a big boost from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which has awarded her an NEH Fellowship for University Teachers to finish researching and writing the book. The $50,000 grant will allow Miller to take a yearlong sabbatical to complete her research in South Africa, as well as finish writing the book.

“I am so excited about the grant,” said Miller. “They are nearly impossible to get, and I never anticipated a positive response. Senator (John) Kerry’s office called me to congratulate me on the award and to wish me luck on my project.”

NEH university teaching fellowships are particularly noteworthy due to the difficulty of winning one. In fact, fewer than one in 10 scholars who applied for the awards this year received a positive response.

Professor Miller’s scholarship focuses on the relationship between visual culture, gender, and power in African arts.

“At its core, my book argues that the memory of women’s actions in the past is changing in favor of a more narrow vision, and that women’s experiences are generally neglected in the context of the new national identity,” Miller said.

In some ways, the current state of affairs reflects the reassertion of apartheid-era patriarchal culture. While women played a prominent and visible role during the antiapartheid movement, their activities were greatly restricted by the government as well as by many of the resistance organizations, she said.

“In fact, women were not formally admitted as members into the African National Congress (ANC) until 1943, and even then they were assigned primarily supportive roles, including cooking and catering for the men. It was even longer before women were welcomed to serve on the executive leadership committee.”

Despite those barriers, women were active in the movement, some quite prominently. At the same time, visual representations of women, specific individuals and iconic images were common.

Today, however, women’s roles and images have been largely removed from the history of the anti-apartheid movement, Miller said. “I argue that the rich visual rhetoric that once helped create political identities and recognition for women has now largely disappeared.”

The fruits of Miller’s scholarship have resulted in a number of articles in scholarly journals in recent years, including the article “Moms with Guns: Women’s Political Agency in Anti-Apartheid Visual Culture” in African Arts. The South African Historical Journal will soon be publishing one of her papers, which will eventually be a section in her book.

She also learned in February that she won the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics, from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.

With support from the NEH fellowship, Miller plans to return to South Africa for archival research as well as interviews, largely in Johannesburg, but also in Durban, Cape Town, and surrounding townships. Q