Directives – The Little 5 edition

I probably shouldn’t admit that during my 20 years in Bloomington I have never attended the Little 500. It is no defense but I wonder how many of my colleagues in History and other departments have. So I finally went this past weekend (and didn’t run into any other faculty as far as I could tell). I may never miss another one. It is really a great sporting event. As you doubtless know by now, both the Collins women and men put on valiant efforts, overcoming collisions to achieve entirely respectable results (12th and 23rd respectively). Happily the level of inebriation I encountered in the bleachers was well below what I’d expected. Only once was I concerned that a fellow spectator might fall over me (or worse). Cycling myself to and from the races I did of course see the usual plethora of parties including that curious group that enjoys drinking while perched on porch roofs. Natural selection I call it. Anyway, it was a glorious weekend and two exciting races. Congratulations to all the riders. We also held the first Little 500 alumni brunch Saturday morning in the Coffee House. Alumni turnout was light (5) but I’d like to keep doing this and maybe see it grow.

We are also of course in the midst of the poorly-named dead week. Things lighten up a bit for me at this point but every student I talk to complains about papers to finish and exams to take (that aren’t supposed to be given this week by the way, but don’t tell your instructors I told you so). At Collins the week will end with a bang including a Town Hall Meeting, the Faculty Curriculum Committee Meeting, a Fee Committee Meeting, the Publications Release Party, the Sustainable Food Committee’s Last Supper, and the BOEP dinner.

The Town Hall (Th at 11) meeting is intended to address discontent about the Awards selection procedure. I’ll confess that I’ve always been a bit mystified by it. The staff gets together and attempts collectively to evaluate 500 or so Collinsites without any specific criteria. One major question is whether to award involvement in paid positions in the same way as involvement in non-paid ones. So hopefully we can come up with a better system. I’d be happy to have student involvement in the selection process, though of course that raises the problem (if indeed it is a problem) of awards selection becoming something of a popularity contest.

The FCC (F at noon) will evaluate the BOEP course proposals for next spring; don’t forget if you are going to be there to present a course. Fee Committee (F at 3) will consider the state of the budget and possibly new methods for constructing budgets. The Publications Release Party (F at 5) will of course celebrate the arrival (and hard work behind) the Dancing Star, Lantern, and Pipe and Barrow. The CSFC for its Last Supper (F at 6) is planning a menu that emphasizes several sustainable food categories: local, organic, and non-industrial meat. We’ll have posters and literature as well as food prepared by the collaborating incoming and outgoing co-chairs (and others). BOEP meanwhile is planning a dinner chez moi on Saturday, though we are still working out the details.

Sunday I may do something radical and have a day without Collins.

I don’t know if there will a Columns during finals week. If not, so long. See about half of you again next year and best wishes to all for a wild summer.

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Director, Collins LLC

Directives

For whatever reason I have failed to submit a column for a few weeks now. Hopefully I’ll make the deadline this time around.

The end of the year is upon us, but ends are beginnings. Grads are looking forward (?) to life after IU and Collins. While those of us who stay behind are already planning for next year (Welcome Week is only 18 weeks away). BOEP elected new officers on Sunday (while going through the end of semester ritual of final cuts), and the Sustainable Food Committee should live to see another year as we have a new slate of co-chairs and potential kitchen coordinator. Arts Council too has new officers. BOEP is still working out the details of its year-end dinner (maybe Sat. May 3 at my house), and the CSFC is planning a last supper in the courtyard for May 2.

Next year could bring all sorts of changes. Among other topics to discuss as a community is how to confront the inevitable demolition of Brown and Green, probably sooner rather than later. I’ve started a conversation with the College on possible options and hope to have a Town hall meeting early in the fall semester. Meanwhile it does look as though the Fijis are coming, which is to say that there will be a large fraternity built on Eighth St. between Woodlawn and Park (just the other side of Theta). It may be too late to influence IU’s decision to give them this land, though community opposition has been vocal and the funding is apparently not in place. We can hope. It might make sense in any case to combine our forces with Theta in hopes of influencing some of the choices made regarding design, parking etc. I met with their house mother – I think that’s the term – the other day and will pursue with residents of Theta and Collins creation of a dialog in the fall. At the least we can alert one another of our events and so avoid unfortunate incidents like the Collins call that apparently went to the police complaining about Theta’s recent grilled cheese sandwich fundraiser (for local child advocates in the courts). We should be inviting one another to events, not complaining about them (it ended at 9pm).

Congratulations to Holly and everyone else responsible for Collinsfest. A really successful event. I continued my tradition of neither feeding at the ice cream trough nor submitting to pie-ing – I did make my own contribution for the right not to pie or be pied – but had a great time just the same. I suppose you really can’t take full credit for the perfect weather, but you can for everything else.

As should appear elsewhere in this issue, we’ll have dinner with Hillcrest guest Tiziano Bonazzi on Monday (6pm). An emeritus professor of US history from Bologna, he is in Bloomington working on a biography of Abraham Lincoln. All are welcome.

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Director, Collins LLC

Directives – The Sex Edition

Busy Collins weekend for me. The Sustainable Food Committee met on Friday with John Galuska. John teaches a course for SPEA titled “Farming the City” and leads a summer course in Jamaica: “Roots, Fruits, and Jamaican Ecologies.” He’s also the director of Foster International. We mostly talked about his one-acre farm just south of Bryan Park. Maybe we can arrange a visit in the spring. High point of the culinary offerings, I’d say, was the asparagus risotto. Now that the weather is becoming marginally more spring-like, we’re planning a foray up to the campus garden next Friday. Meet on the veranda at 4 if you’re interested. Finally, the CSFC, like Arts Council, BOEP, Student Govt. etc., will soon be looking for new officers for next year. Let me or one of the current co-chairs know that possibility appeals to you. Co-chairs menu plan, promote, shop and cook. The hoped-for garden coordinator leads groups to the Campus Garden work sessions.

BOEP had a lively discussion on Sunday. I reported on some course issues: my conveyance of the Board’s lack of enthusiasm about a faculty-proposed course and the sad story of a grad student instructor who was pressured by his adviser to give up his Collins course in order to work as a course assistant for that adviser, only to be subsequently denied by the department (after we’d already given away his spot). That really shouldn’t happen, but IU grads don’t have a union or other pressure group to address injustices of this sort. We also discussed the proposed full-color pricetag on The Pipe & Barrow. Apparently this discussion (or lack of discussion) has dragged on long enough now that such it will be. But it is certainly an issue to take into consideration in the upcoming Fee Committee (and BOEP) discussions about the budget.

For whatever reason, the issue of sexual abuse has impinged more than usual on my consciousness of late. A friend of mine, now in her 30s, blogged about her experience of being raped in high school last week (the first time she had spoken publicly about it), and I also came across a HuffPost piece titled “Why Are So Many Boys Leaving High School Thinking Rape Is Funny” (2/10/2014). The article includes the shocking estimate that “between 20-25% of women and 3% of men will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault in college.” That’s one woman in 4 or 5! If we apply that figure to the Collins population it comes to over 50 women. Equally troubling are the many anecdotes related in the article revealing a true rape culture among American male youth (though as we have seen recently, e.g. news from India, the US is far from alone in this). I’d like to think that Collins is a haven immune from these attitudes and behaviors, and while I’m sure that Collins is a safer place than most, I also know we have problems too. So to my fellow men let me just say: read the article and don’t be assholes.

 Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Director, Collins LLC

24 February 2014

Directives – the Fascist music edition

I missed the Columns last week. I also missed the Viennese Ball, the Vagina Monologues and doubtless other things as well. My week to miss things. I gather the Ball was a success and probably didn’t suffer much from the absence of one middle-aged observer. The onset of middle age seems to have gotten later in life to the point now that I think middle age starts at just the point AARP sends you their first solicitation. So we transition straight from youth to retirement? I’m also at best a reluctant dancer. Maybe that will change. My father, who turned 93 on Saturday, has taken up the fox trot again in recent years, after a hiatus of what must have been over five decades. 

The Columns seems to have gotten along without me. Compliments to Rachel and Austin for handling the anonymous censorship attack so graciously. As a student of fascism, I am always dismayed to see that particular sobriquet bandied about thoughtlessly. To describe the failure to recognize a bag of chips as art “neo-fascist” surely renders the term meaningless, even if that failure were intentional (as it apparently was not). Perhaps the accusation was meant to be humorous; I guess the joke was lost on me. Much has been written about fascism; one could do worse than reading the opening section of my Dictating Demography: The Problem of Population in Fascist Italy (Cambridge, 1996). But that would be self-promotion.

In the column that I didn’t write last week I intended to mention the world premier performances of P.Q. Phan’s opera: The Tale of Lady Thi Kinh. Phan is an IU faculty composer. I really enjoyed the performance I saw, but the last chances were this past Friday and Saturday. Still in the future, the annual Dubinsky Memorial Concert takes place next Sunday at 2pm, always a good show and this year featuring faculty performers in chamber music of Mozart and Fauré. I suppose part of the pleasure I get out of these performances (and so being in Bloomington) derives from the fact that I was an aspiring musician myself at 20; now I enjoy musical performance vicariously (as of course most of us do). And since this is the music issue I’ll offer that the two musical figures who meant the most to me as a teenager still occupy that space: Mozart and John Coltrane. Not very original choices I realize. 

Friday has a packed schedule for me. The Collins Sustainable Food Committee will meet at 4:30 (John Galuska plus menu tba) and the BOEP open house is at 6.

And the Dubinsky Concert mentioned above should be over just in time for BOEP’s Sunday 4pm meeting. The Pipe & Barrow had its bachelor(ette) party this past week and has been gathering submissions. BOEP is also planning a caving trip that isn’t on the calendar (as it didn’t require a space request) but hopefully will be. Also our visiting scholar, Kathleen Vongsathorn, will be doing a Fireside Chat on Wednesday at 7pm.

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Directives – The deep freeze edition

After 20 years in Bloomington, you’d think I’d be used to it. But the California boy in me is really unhappy this past couple of months. And I have to stop making weather comparisons – high temp today in Bloomington: 12 and dropping as I type; in the zip code where I grew up: 63 – but I can’t help it. Dreams of winter hikes overlooking the Pacific… OK, I’ll stop. And maybe tonight will be our last sub-zero experience for the winter.

Fee Committee met over the weekend and hammered out the budget for the rest of the year. Unlike the other councils, Fee Committee has a restricted membership (mostly council heads and staff), and I can understand why. That said, I could also imagine a broader Collins discussion of the budget and what our priorities are. Doubtless a can of worms, but sometimes those should be opened.

We also had a BOEP meeting on Sunday and discussed/approved a series of interesting initiatives: T-shirts, caving, a short course on acting methods, Casino night, a trip to the IU coal/power plant, and a possible visit to the Burroughs exhibit at the Grunwald Gallery. If you think that BOEP is just about studying and classes, you are mistaken! We also heard from the Pipe & Barrow  editors who are soliciting submissions (any paper written by a Collinsite from an IU course between last March and next March) and planning a Bachelor(ette) Party, Feb. 11, that sounds like it should be a good time. For info or submissions they have set up an e-mail address: pipeandbarrow@gmail.com.

Working backward, The Sustainable Food Committee met on Friday: Sweet potatoes and lime, Winter veggie minestrone, Apple tart, and special guest Marti Crouch. Marti, a biologist, told us about her work with a group that brings suits against regulatory agencies (USDA, EPA) in order to achieve better regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and other questionable agricultural practices. How much Roundup is in your daily diet? 

On the culture front, I’ve been pretty low key. I did see one excellent movie (The Punk Singer) and one less excellent one (Lenny Cooke) at the IU cinema. And Friday the fabulous Pacifica String Quartet (our resident quartet) will play in Auer Hall at 8pm: Mozart, Shostakovich, and Ravel. It’s free! And I am looking forward to the world premiere of “The Tale of Lady Thi Kinh”, an opera by IU faculty composer P.Q. Phan (weekends of Feb. 7-8 and 14-15).

OK. Bundle up. In a few weeks we (or at least you) will be getting out the shorts and t-shirts.

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Director, Collins LLC

27 January 2014

Directives – The Phoenix Edition

The Columns re-born and with a new look. With luck (and effort) you will all successfully get through finals week and so feel re-born yourselves. So many phoenixes. I am still battling through the end of the semester myself. Rougher than usual for various reasons. But the end is in sight.

 

BOEP did great things last week. Its slate of courses survived the Faculty Curriculum Committee virtually unscathed; we had a good end-of-semester meal at The Irish Lion; and we chose editors for The Pipe and the Barrow: Meredith Waters and Rachel Carpenter, managing editors, and Siarra Bazler, design editor. All Collinsites should consider submitting those fine papers you have written for your classes (any class) and send them to me or any of the above. Term papers from last spring (S13) are also fine and anything you have in hand before the deadline (some time in March).

 

I have just come back from the Office of Sustainability lugging with me  – ok, it’s only about 50 yards – our heavy trophy for winning the Energy Challenge (NW neighborhood). I’m not sure where it will be stored (probably an issue for Wil) but keep an eye out for an unusual metal contraption (pipes, valve handles, a reservoir of some sort) and congratulations!

 

Finals week coincides with the shortest days of the year, a coincidence sure to raise our spirits. But now, or in a few days, comes time to catch up on the rest of our lives and get ready for round II. And after Saturday the days start to get longer. Happy Holidays.

 

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Director, Collins LLC

16 December 2013

Directives – The Dead Week edition

Not a very eventful Collinsweek for me. I came down with a cold and, alas, missed the Dickens Dinner. That combined with the snowstorm, plus the general overwhelmingness of the end of the semester, meant that we also cancelled the Sustainable Food Committee meeting on Friday. We hope to reschedule Marti Crouch for January. So here we are at dead week. That means that about half of Collinsites are facing their first round of finals and so completion of their first semester at IU. See, you can do it. For me instead it is, by one measure, my 39th semester at IU (I missed a few thanks to research leaves). Seems like a lot.

BOEP still has some life left in it for the semester: interviews for The Pipe and the Barrow, the Faculty Curriculum Committee meeting on Friday to review the seminars (for F14), and a dinner next Sunday. And for that matter, a look at the Collins calendar suggests that there is lots more than studying going this week. A healthy state of affairs I guess.

So what is going on in the rest of the world? A revolution in Ukraine it seems. And Nelson Mandela has died, a larger than life figure. I happen to have ties to South Africa. My great grandfather opened a hotel in Johannesburg about the time of the gold rush (1880s when the city was founded by European settlers) and made piles of money (I’m afraid little of it made its way to me). My grandfather – who died before I was born – left and came back and my mother lived there a couple of years before migrating to the US. My father’s family apparently referred to her as ‘the African.’ Anyway, she always claimed she left because she couldn’t tolerate the racial situation, though that was certainly an easy sentiment to express in Berkeley of the 1950s and after. And I got a taste of Apartheid-era South Africa myself when I worked on cruise ship in the early 1980s; Mandela was still in prison. I visited briefly with two uncles in Cape Town. The English in South Africa – from whom I in part descend – always liked to distance themselves from South African racial policy, attributing it to the Afrikaans population. But the English enjoyed the same privilege, even more I’d guess and as they tended to be wealthier. Colonialism is a hard legacy to overcome.

Carl Ipsen

Professor of History

Director, Collins LLC

8 December 2013