News for the Smith College Community //January 25, 2001
President Simmons to Deliver Last Address
The last address by President Ruth Simmons (as Smith's president, anyway) to the entire Smith community will be the main attraction of this year's All-College Meeting. The convocation, which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, January 29, in John M. Greene Hall, is the traditional kickoff event for the spring semester.
Simmons, who (in the unlikely case you haven't heard) has accepted a position as president of Brown University, will complete her tenure at Smith at the end of the spring term. And though she may address selected groups on campus during her final months, the All-College Meeting will be the last opportunity for many members of the Smith community to see her speak publicly.
In addition to Simmons' keynote address, the All-College Meeting will include "welcome-back" addresses by senior class leaders, and a performance by the Smith Chorale with Jeffrey Douma directing.
Ammara Yaqub, Student Government Association president, will speak, as will Katie Winger, class of 2000 president, and Judy Kim, president of the Student Alumnae Association.
Simmons garnered extensive media attention when she took the helm at Smith six years ago, becoming the first African-American woman to occupy the position of president at a Seven Sisters college. Simmons was in the media spotlight again this year, when she accepted the same post at Brown, becoming the first African-American president of an Ivy League university.
During her Smith presidency, Simmons has overseen an ambitious self-study of the college, which has resulted in the establishment of the first engineering program at a women's college, as well as Praxis, a ground-breaking internship program; a streamlining of the college's governance; the establishment of the interdisciplinary Kahn Liberal Arts Institute and the Poetry Center, which has hosted many readings by noted poets since its inception; and numerous other initiatives.
The All-College Meeting,
as it always has, will close with the collective singing of Gaudeamus
Igitur, likely the last time as well that Smith's students, staff
and faculty can join President Simmons in singing the traditional
The History of Rally Day
This year's Rally Day will take place on Wednesday, February 21, at 1:30 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall. Watch future AcaMedias for news about the event. Read on for the event's history.
Rally Day began in February 1876 as a celebration of George Washington's birthday. And though a rally was added to the day's events in 1894, the name "Rally Day" wasn't used until 1906. Even then, the celebration's origins remained evident because each year's printed Rally Day program noted the anniversary of Washington's birth on its cover.
This held true until 1991, when the program read, "Exercises in commemoration of the two hundred and fifty-ninth anniversary of the birth of George Washington." A year later, the program simply read "Celebrating Smith Rally Day."
Since then, each Rally Day has been marked by a theme. In 1993, the theme was "Celebrating 100 Years of Basketball." In 1998 (remember?), it was "Smith Women on the Move" and in 1999, "For Women For the World." This year the theme will be "Smith Women Yesterday and Tomorrow."
The history of this unique Smith holiday is summarized in the back of recent Rally Day programs. The annual Smith celebration of Washington's birth began as social dinners or receptions. A Daily Hampshire Gazette article from 1877 reads: "The social gathering in Smith College hall, Thursday evening, was a fine affair. About 400 invitations were issued, and nearly all thus honored gladly responded. The evening's entertainment was enlivened by music from Miss Gorham and the Amherst Glee Club." In 1881, in addition to the reception, a group of students performed a parody of the George Washington theme titled "Little Cherry Tree."
Over time, the receptions evolved into day-long college events. At the 22nd reception in 1898, "a little dancing was enjoyed," according to archival resources. From 1890 to 1893, dances took place on the morning of February 22 in the gymnasium, but only square dancing was allowed; the waltz was not officially introduced on campus until the first junior prom in May 1894. Games were added to the day's events in 1892, and the junior-senior basketball game soon became a traditional part of the celebration. Other events included debates, dramatic presentations, singing and dancing.
In 1894, Smith decided to adopt a program more befitting the celebration of Washington's birthday. The first commemorative exercises were held that year. A February 1894 editorial in the Smith College Monthly praised the new program, noting that parents wanted their daughters to observe the day with patriotic, rather than social, celebration. That same year, a rally was held on the morning of Washington's birthday. Students gathered with their classes in the four corners of the gymnasium and sang college and class songs simultaneously. As part of the entertainment for the rally, the student council presented a mock debate -- their subject that year: "Does Higher Education Unfit a Man for Domestic Life?"
From the beginning, the commemorative exercises offered a patriotic and reflective aspect to the day. The exercises involved a procession, an invocation, a hymn and the national anthem. The chorus would perform, and there was sometimes a featured soloist, such as in 1911, when a Mrs. May Sleeper Ruggles performed Patria. Beginning in 1897, members of the junior class competed to write a commemorative ode for the exercises.
The heart of the commemorative exercises was an oration on the subject of George Washington, delivered by a guest speaker. In 1912, the Honorable Simeon Eben Baldwin, governor of Connecticut, gave a speech titled "The Government that Washington Helped to Frame." But the next year, President Arthur Hadley of Yale broke the custom of taking George Washington as a subject, and future speakers followed suit. In 1918, John Dewey, a professor at Columbia University, spoke on "America in the World," and in 1926, Major-General John F. Ryan spoke on "The Outstanding Lesson of the War." Along with Dewey, distinguished speakers at the commemoration exercises during the early 20th century included William Howard Taft (1914) and Dwight W. Morrow (1922).
The first woman invited to speak at the commemoration exercises was Madame Denise H. Davey, vice chairman of the Fighting French Relief Committee, who spoke in 1943. In 1949, Ada Comstock Notestein, president emerita of Radcliffe College, was the speaker, but it wouldn't be until 1962 that another woman spoke at the exercises. Cicely Veronica Wedgwood, a member of the British Royal Commission on historical manuscripts, addressed the rally that year and became the first person to receive an honorary degree at the Washington's Birthday exercises. In 1973, the Smith College Medal was first awarded to outstanding alumnae, a tradition that continues today.
The tradition of sponsoring an event to benefit a charity began in 1918 when the Rally Day show was held to raise funds for the Smith College Relief Unit serving in France during World War I. In 1919, the funds went to the Armenian & Syrian Relief Fund under the auspices of the Student War Board. During the early 1920s, the shows raised funds for Smith's $4 Million Fund. While the first show featured only songs, skits were added the next year. In 1926, a faculty stunt was first included in the Rally Day show.
Through the years, each program has reflected students' wit and their ability to find humor in academic life. During the 1944 show, titled "You're Sitting on My Cabbage Patch," the junior class performed "Malice in Wonderland or the Valley of Derision." Scene I was called "Paradise Lost or Junior Year Abroad."
Along the way, the commemorative exercises became a convocation. In 1944, members of the senior class began wearing graduation gowns and caps to the exercises. The day still marks the first time that seniors publicly wear their gowns. But the caps have been replaced by inventive hats in keeping with the spirited, "rallying" nature of the day.
This year's event will be Smith's 125th Rally Day. If alums from those earliest Rally Days could attend the 2001 version, they might briefly wonder where the George Washington theme had gone. And although alums from other years might yearn for square dancing or a few class songs, they'd likely feel right at home. Even in the new millennium, Rally Day's roots remain evident. Still, as ever, and as reflected in this year's theme, Rally Day is a time for the Smith community to gather, remember the past, look to the future, and celebrate student life.
Smith Alum to be Honored by Lecture
"A Womanist Way of Being in the World" is the title of the first Pearl Agas Memorial Lecture, to be delivered on Wednesday, January 31, at 4:30 p.m. in Nielson Browsing Room.
Diana L. Hayes, associate professor of theology at Georgetown University and an adjunct faculty member in the Black Catholic Studies Program at Xavier University, will deliver the lecture. She is the author of five books, including Hagar's Daughters: Womanist Ways of Being in the World, And Still We Rise: An Introduction to Black Liberation Theology, and Taking Down Our Harps: Black Catholics in the United States. She is the winner of the Bunn Award for Faculty Excellence at Georgetown University.
Pearl Agas '96 was a Catholic student who died in 1999. As a first-year student, Agas was instrumental in creating Smith's first diversity panel, in Talbot House, and later helped develop similar panels in other houses on campus, according to Elizabeth Carr, Catholic chaplain. Agas was also active in the campus Newman Association.
Hayes, who is known for her dynamic presentations, specializes in black liberation and womanist theologies. Her work contributes to several fields of inquiry, including Afro-American studies, women's studies and scholarship in American religious experience. Her current research and writing is on African-American perceptions of God, and exploring the possibilities for a contextual American theology.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Hayes
received her undergraduate degree from the State University of
New York, Buffalo, and her doctorate from the Catholic University
of Louvain, Belgium. She was the first African-American woman
to earn the doctor of sacred theology degree.
Hayes' books will be available for purchase and refreshments will be served preceding the lecture.
The Best of A Cappella Here at Smith
The smoothest voices in college a cappella will gather in force on the Smith campus on Sunday, February 4, to participate in the Silver Chord Bowl, an annual showcase of college singing groups, hosted this year by Smith College and its award-winning Smithereens.
The Silver Chord Bowl, which will take place at 2 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall, typically attracts some of the best college a cappella groups in the eastern United States. In addition to a performance by the Smithereens, this year's lineup will include the Tufts University Beelzebubs, whose album last year, on the Infinity label, was named Best Male Collegiate Album; Off the Beat, from the University of Pennsylvania, who boast the best mixed-group (male and female) collegiate soloist in the country for 2000 in singer Jessica Gordon, and who won the best album award in 1999 and were runners up last year; Middlebury College's Dissipated Eight; the Harvard Callbacks; Yale University's New Blue; and the Amherst College Zumbyes, who celebrate their fiftieth anniversary this year.
The a cappella sing-off will be emceed by popular recording artists The Nields, who live in Hatfield.
Tickets for the event ($5 in advance, $7 at the door) are available at the Academy of Music box office, Guild Art Centre and State Street Fruit Store in Northampton; and at Cooper's Corner in Florence. The Silver Chord Bowl, which will be part of the Northampton Arts Council's "Four Sundays in February" series, is sponsored by The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Commonwealth Registry of Nurses and Merrill Lynch.
Interterm Films Add Meaning, Fun
By Eunnie Park '01
During the three snowy weeks of interterm, the days at Smith have been packed with courses that have fostered some unusual skills and unique interests in those who've stuck around. Consider these Interterm 2001 course titles: "Make Anything Out of Tape"; "Billiards for Fun and Profit"; "Improv.com-edy."
But at the end of each day, when the rigor of mastering the punch line is over, the Interterm Film Series has taken over, offering a free film screening followed by a discussion. The series, which began on January 10 and concludes on Friday, January 26, offers an eclectic collection of 13 films from various genres, including the science-fiction classic Bladerunner, a backstage comedy by Kenneth Branagh titled A Midwinter's Tale, and a hilarious Japanese "spaghetti western" titled Tampopo.
The theme of this year's Interterm Film Series is "Faculty and Film." Faculty participants' names were drawn (literally) out of a hat, and those selected were asked to choose a film, says Susan Briggs, assistant to the dean of the college and a member of the Interterm Committee.
Kevin Quashie, assistant professor
of Afro-American studies, chose to show the Spike Lee film Four
Little Girls, about the 1963 bombing in Birmingham, Alabama,
that killed four black girls. "One of the things I love
about historical films, even those that take explicit creative
license, is that they encourage audiences to consider the relevance
of past events in present contexts," says Quashie. "With
Four Little Girls particularly, I think that Spike Lee is calling
attention to the right-now manifestations of racist violence,
which often is considered a thing of the past, and making sure
that the historical record never forgets the lives of these girls
and others like them."
se the film Like Water for Chocolate, an adaptation of the novel by Laura Esquival, about a Mexican woman's tortured life and the sensual power of food and cooking. Candelario explains her selection in the interterm brochure: "The film (like the book) centers on and asks us to reconsider the meaning of those spaces typically considered sites of women's oppression-the kitchen, the bed, the body, the heart. Preparing, savoring and consuming life's feasts, we learn, is very meaningful."
Every year, the Interterm Film Series has a different theme chosen by the students, faculty, and staff who are members of the Interterm Committee. Past themes have included college, the 1980s, eating and cooking, horror and animation. But each year, Briggs says the purpose of the Interterm Film Series remains the same: to have fun.
of Harlem to Jazz Up JMG
The Boys Choir of Harlem, a renowned choral group of fourth- through 12th-grade inner-city singers, will warm up John M. Greene Hall on Thursday, February 8, with its smooth blend of style and showmanship. The concert, part of Smith's celebration of Black History Month, "Black Struggle, Black Triumph: A Celebration of Black History," will take place at 7 p.m.
The Boys Choir of Harlem combines an eclectic mix of classical music, gospel, showtunes, jazz and pop to give a performance that has gained acclaim worldwide. The group, which is more than 30 years old, has won two Grammy Awards and toured in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Admission to the concert is free for
Smith students and children under 12. Tickets ($15 for general
public, $5 for Five College students and seniors) are available
at Northampton Box Office (1-800-THE-TICK) and B-Side Records
in downtown Northampton. Tickets will also be available at the
door. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Track & Field
Malkah Spivak-Birndorf '01, a geology
major, has been awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma
Xi, the scientific research society. Spivak-Birndorf is currently
working with Bosiljka Glumac, assistant professor of geology,
in applying stable isotope geochemistry in the correlation of
poorly fossiliferous Cambrian (about 500 million years old) carbonate
strata. The grant will help fund Spivak-Birndorf's fieldwork
expenses in northwestern Vermont and analysis of specimens at
the University of Michigan. Spivak-Birndorf will present the
results of her research in March at the annual meeting of the
Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America, in
Sources of further information, if any, are indicated in parentheses. Notices should be submitted by mail, by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or by fax (extension 2171).
New Transfer and
Glee Club to Perform
Smith Club Hours
Davis Center Hours
Faculty & Staff
New HR Brochure
SSEP Summer Jobs
Girls and Women
Sources of further information, if any, are shown in parentheses at the end of event descriptions. An asterisk following a listing indicates that the event is open to the public. Admission charges, if any, are listed when known. Items for this section must be submitted on Event Service Request Forms.
Sunday, January 28
Monday, January 29
Yoga class Noncredit, for students. All levels. 4:45-6 p.m., Davis Ballroom
Tuesday, January 30
Sigma Xi luncheon talk "To Help Your Continent Grow, Keep It Warm and Give It Plenty of Water." Mark Brandriss, geology. Open to faculty, emeriti, and staff. Noon, College Club, lower level
SGA Senate meeting Open forum. All students welcome. 7:15 p.m., Seelye 201
Workshop L'Atelier, a theatre workshop conducted in French by Florent Masse. 7:30 p.m., Mendenhall CPA, T-209
Meeting Newman Association.
Basketball vs. Williams College. Don't miss the Smith College Glee Club's performance of the national anthem and a half-time show. 7 p.m., Ainsworth gym*
Wednesday, January 31
Lecture "A Womanist Way of Being in the World." Diana L. Hayes, lawyer and associate professor of theology, Georgetown University, is the author of five books and the first African-American woman to earn a doctor of sacred theology degree. Inaugural Pearl Agas '96 Memorial Lecture. (See story, page 4.) 4:30 p.m., Neilson Browsing Room*
Buddhist service and discussion. 7:15 p.m., Bodman Lounge, chapel
ECC Bible study Bring questions, frustrations and curiosities. 10 p.m., Bodman Lounge, chapel
Yoga class Noncredit, for students. All levels. 4:45-6 p.m., Davis Ballroom
Thursday, February 1
Friday, February 2
Meeting Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society. 4:30 p.m., Seelye 208
Keystone B.I.G. meeting Weekly fellowship meeting of Campus Crusade for Christ. 7 p.m., Bodman Lounge, chapel
Squash Smith/Mount Holyoke Invitational. All day, Ainsworth squash courts*
Saturday, February 3
Track and field Smith Women's Invitational. 10 a.m., athletic fields*
Book Swap sponsored by the SGA Curriculum Committee. Students can bring used books to sell, for an amount they set, directly to other students, and save money that is lost when selling books back to the bookstore. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Davis student center
Swimming and diving vs. Mount Holyoke. 1 p.m., Ainsworth gym*
Basketball vs. Babson. 2 p.m., Ainsworth gym*
Sunday, February 4
Meeting Smith African Students Association. All welcome. 4 p.m., Mwangi basement, Lilly
Meeting Feminists of
Quaker (Friends) meeting for worship. Preceded by informal discussion at 9:30 a.m. All welcome, childcare available. 11:30 a.m., Bass 203, 204, 210, 211*
Roman Catholic Mass Fr. Stephen-Joseph Ross, OCD, celebrant, and Elizabeth Carr, Catholic chaplain. Dinner follows in Bodman lounge. All welcome. 4:30 p.m., chapel
Intervarsity prayer meeting 9-10 p.m., chapel
"The Refugees" Two life-sized sculptures by artist Judith Peck, depicting refugees carrying a child and worldly possessions. Through May 28. For more information, contact the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute, ext. 4292. Neilson Library, third floor*
"Biblical Women" An exhibition of story quilts by Lee Porter '60. Using textiles and appliqué and quilting techniques, Porter depicts several scenes of women from the Bible, engaged in activities such as naming children, celebrating victories and mediating disputes. Through March 30. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., on Friday, February 23. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Alumnae House Gallery*