Students, faculty hope for increased LGBTQ+ advocacy after Lavender Graduation

Geneseo held its first Lavender Graduation on Thursday May 11 in the Hunt Room to support seniors who identify as LGBTQ+ students and allies. Many members of the campus community view the graduation as a positive step forward in campus advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals, but some would like to see more improvements.

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College changes Western Humanities requirement, prompts mixed reaction from campus community

President Denise Battles confirmed a College Senate vote to change the curriculum requirement for Western Humanities on Monday May 8. The change to the curriculum was proposed in part to address overcrowded classes. 

The College Senate curriculum change plan has two components. Under the new system, students will only be required to take either HUMN 1 or HUMN 2, instead of both. In order to take the course, students will additionally be required to have fewer than 75 credits. 

The change to Western Humanities originally went through the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee before coming to a preliminary vote at the April 4 Senate meeting. The Senate then passed the proposal after its second reading at the May 2 meeting by a 44 to 17 vote. Following college governing procedure, the passed proposal went to Battles for approval. 

Interest in changing the curriculum came primarily from the English and history departments, which staff most of the classes, according to Interim Provost Paul Schacht. Schacht believes that the departments pushed for the new system partly to expose students to the humanities as sophomores, rather than as juniors or seniors, in order to give students a foundation for other areas of studies. 

Schacht also believes that the Senate made this change because if students take humanities courses earlier, they have more time to change their majors if they would like to major in English, history, philosophy or languages and literatures. Additionally, Schacht felt that some of the interest in curricular reform came from faculty dissatisfaction with the Western Humanities course as a whole. 

“For a significant number of faculty in the two departments that wrote the proposal, the Western Humanities sequence with its exclusive focus on Western works and the relative inflexibility of the syllabus was not appealing,” he said. “Part of what was behind this proposal was an assumption that scaling the requirement back to one course might open up a new opportunity for conversation about the content of the course.” 

The curricular change did face opposition from some faculty members who felt that it would water down the courses. Before the Senate voted on the proposal, the Senate addressed a motion that would postpone the measure until the fall. The motion failed by a vote of 45 to 13. 

Professor of political science and international relations Robert Goeckel expressed his concern that the proposal was too hasty in solving the perceived problems with the current humanities courses.   

“In terms of staffing, we haven’t tapped all of the resources out there who could teach the class and there are some in the political science department who could teach,” he said. “Secondly, many of our alumni … have commented on how much the humanities sequence have helped them in their careers and I don’t think we should underestimate the long-term impacts of the current course. 

One of the major proponents of the change, professor of history and Director of the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development Joseph Cope, instead contended that the proposal wouldn’t diminish the humanities course.

“Nobody was jumping into this enthusiastically, but there are these structural issues that have been simmering beneath the surface for many years,” he said. “The compromise of this proposal is it allows students to continue to take both sections of humanities if they want to and it allows departments to require both sections of humanities as co-requirements for their majors.”

The change to the curriculum will go into effect in fall 2017, according to an email sent to academic students from Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Assessment Savi Iyer. The requirements for students who entered the college before the 2014-15 academic year will not change. 

English major junior Veronica Taglia believes that the proposal was necessary based on student concerns about the course.

“Not only is it a huge scheduling issue for faculty, but it’s also a pretty divisive issue for students,” she said. “A lot of people don’t want to be in the class and aren’t reading the books, so it’s not living up to the canonical Western Humanities experience people make it out to be … I don’t know whether or not they’ll end up making any more changes, but I think they should wait to see how these changes pan out over the next school year.”


Scrumptious snickerdoodle crescent rolls to snack on

As another year at Geneseo dies down, many of us are finding our way back home, either eagerly expecting the year ahead or wondering what a future after Geneseo holds. But why expect and wonder on an empty stomach? Here’s an easy recipe that can be made in bulk and brought in the car with you on your journey home.

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls


1 tube of crescent rolls

4 teaspoons of peanut butter

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon


1)    Preheat oven to 350°F. 

2)    Stir sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Put it to the side.

3)    Unroll the crescent rolls and separate into triangles. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter on the thick end of each triangle. Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon sugar. Roll into crescents.

4)    Bake for eight minutes or until golden brown. While hot, dip the tops in the 

cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat dipping process once they’ve cooled.

5)    Enjoy!

LGBTQ+ inclusive membership policies questioned in Greek life

For many students, Greek life is a focal point of daily life during their time at Geneseo. Members think nothing of wearing their organization’s letters proudly on their sweatshirts, of painting the Greek Tree or of working tirelessly to make their organization shine. After all, their efforts culminate into a unique Greek identity—something to leave behind for future generations.

But underneath the surface of this collective Greek identity lies an uncomfortable truth for some members. What do you do if your identity apart from Greek life clashes with the one you’ve been building with your brothers and sisters? For many members of the LGBTQ+ community who participate in Greek life, this is an ongoing question. 

On the surface, an LGBTQ+ person feeling uncomfortable among a stereotypical “frat-bro” Greek scene seems obvious—but LGBTQ+ members of Greek life at Geneseo feel as if the reality is more complicated. Many find themselves in organizations that are outwardly supportive of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but these organizations are not as socially progressive as they claim. Problems also arise from interacting with other organizations.

“I was lucky enough to find and join a gender and sexuality-inclusive organization on campus, and it has helped in making my Greek experiences a lot better,” communication major junior and Alpha Delta Epsilon member Candace Pedraza said. “However, I very often feel the need to dress more ‘femme’ when going out to avoid discrimination or harassment from fraternities, which leads to some dysphoria and feelings of forced invalidation from time to time.”

Anthropology major sophomore and fellow ADE member Emmett Zand Halstuch agreed with Pedraza. 

“ADE was the first group of people I came out to as trans. I try to dress masculine when going out to frats and I still get misgendered [by them] every single time,” he said. “Even in ADE, there have been moments when I felt like people don’t understand. One of [my] struggles from last semester was being told that I’m correcting people when they mess up my pronouns the ‘wrong way’… even in a sorority that is the most accepting Greek life organization on campus, there is still a lot to learn and change.”

For those whose identities do not conflict with Greek life, the presence of gender and sexuality-inclusive organizations appears to be enough, but this is clearly not the case. Most people want to quantify the discrimination of LGBTQ+ Greeks only when it’s outright. They imagine the “perfect victim” as analogous to a gay man at a party being harassed, or a lesbian couple being hassled as they walk home at night. 

But tiny vestiges of micro-aggression solidified by years of Greek tradition are still just as prevalent and problematic. What if your gender identity means that you’re neither a brother nor a sister? What if your Greek family feels uncomfortable about you talking about your encounter with someone of the same sex last night, even though they freely blab on about their experiences? 

Discrimination is still alive and well in Greek communities, inclusive or not. These problems could be assuaged with increased—or even mandatory—Safe Zone training of groups. So far, few groups are applying for these sessions and individual organizations have their own LGBTQ+ inclusive membership policies, but they are not overarching to all of Greek life. Understanding needs to be promoted within and outside of Greek life communities to see any real change for LGBTQ+ members.

G.R.E.A.T. Day celebrates interdisciplinary successes, highlights academic achievement

Geneseo hosted its 11th annual G.R.E.A.T. Day on Tuesday April 25. Among a full day of events, keynote speaker neurobiologist Dr. Erich Jarvis spoke on his research and career path. Beyond the vast amount of research studies presented,  the Geneseo Insomnia Film Festival and the Great Battle of Artists showcased a multitude of artistic talents. (Keith Walters/Campus Photographer)

Geneseo hosted its 11th annual G.R.E.A.T. Day on Tuesday April 25. Among a full day of events, keynote speaker neurobiologist Dr. Erich Jarvis spoke on his research and career path. Beyond the vast amount of research studies presented,  the Geneseo Insomnia Film Festival and the Great Battle of Artists showcased a multitude of artistic talents. (Keith Walters/Campus Photographer)

Geneseo hosted its 11th annual Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day throughout campus to celebrate student work on Tuesday April 25. With a full day of programming, the symposium highlighted academic, professional and community development.

Neurobiologist Dr. Erich Jarvis delivered the G.R.E.A.T. Day keynote address in Wadsworth Auditorium. Much like the interdisciplinary student presentations, Jarvis’ lecture addressed not only his research, but also his journey to a career in science and his role in recent activism to support scientific endeavors.

Before Jarvis spoke, President Denise Battles established his background, including a previous interest in the performing arts. In addition to delivering an introduction, Battles expressed her thanks to students, faculty, staff and the campus community for their contributions to G.R.E.A.T. Day.

To begin the address, Jarvis explained his research focus: brain mechanisms of vocal learning. Through his work, Jarvis studies how the brain controls complex behaviors, including language. Specifically, Jarvis’ research foregrounds the relationship between evolution of vocal production in birds and language development in humans.

“I argue that if we can discover how the brain controls language, then that trickles down to how the brain controls other things,” Jarvis said. 

Following a discussion of his research, Jarvis reoriented the lecture from a scientific to a humanistic approach. From his paper “Surviving as an Underrepresented Minority Scientist in A Majority Environment,” Jarvis presented four main lessons that have shaped his career. 

Calling on his training as a dancer, Jarvis suggested classifying science as an art, considering that both science and art demand discipline, creativity and arduous work. In his advice, Jarvis also reiterated the crucial contributions of role models in shaping their mentee’s careers.

“One of my role models is my grandfather, who worked his way to postmaster of New York City,” Jarvis said. “But your role model doesn’t even have to be a member of your own family, ethnicity or gender.”

Proposing his formula for success, Jarvis highlighted hard work and talent. He encouraged the audience to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Further expounding on success, Jarvis argued that diversity breeds success.

“Diversity brings different views and different ways of thinking,” Jarvis said. “Bring people of different ethnicities together and you will make more interesting scientific discoveries than otherwise.”

Jarvis concluded his lecture by reading the speech that he delivered during the March for Science at the National Mall on Saturday April 22. The speech emphasized the benefits of scientific research—which largely rely on government funding—and the role of congressionally funded diversity programs in creating opportunities for the scientists of tomorrow. 

Winners of Geneseo’s Insomnia Film Festival were also announced on G.R.E.A.T. Day. First prize was awarded to the film team Valley Motion Pictures, who created the film called Product Release, parodying the announcement of “new” products: the paper bag and cardboard box. Teams Panda Production and Rupkotha took second and third place respectively, and a new Student Life Award given to the team with the most number of students from the same residence hall was awarded to the team Ass Kickers United. 

Additionally, on G.R.E.A.T. Day, GCAB Arts and Exhibits and Nassau Hall joined forces to host The Great Battle of the Artists in the MacVittie College Union Kinetic Gallery throughout the day. In the evening, a panel of faculty, staff and student judges announced a winner of the multi-media art contest. 

Arts and Exhibits GCAB Coordinator sophomore Emma Belson and biology major senior Hannah Fabiny collaborated to organize the event. After a day of deliberations, Belson delivered the awards for students’ choice of first, second and third best submission.

Coming in first place, communication major senior Emmalyn Pure—who submitted three pieces—won with her painting “People Watching.” In the show’s program, Pure emphasized her work’s colorful and celebratory nature. 

History and adolescent education double major senior Timothy Burger placed second for his graphite pencil drawing “A Study of Age.” In third place, psychology major senior Jenny Wong—who also entered three works—won for her piece “Portrait.” 

With her piece “Purity,” musical theatre major freshman Annie Levine won the students’ choice award, for which anyone on campus could vote. 

In addition to the awards, Belson distributed participation certificates to anyone who entered artwork for the display.

“I think the highlight of this event was seeing everyone come out and support their friends who submitted work,” Belson said. “This really proves that the arts are still alive at Geneseo—something that everyone on campus should realize.” 

News editor Annie Renaud contributed reporting to this article.