April 5, 2002
| April 5, 2002
Director Mira Nair uses the garlands of marigold, the vibrantly colored tents, and the pulsating music of Monsoon Wedding as a backdrop to examine the preparations for and the complexities of a traditional Punjabi wedding. Like an intricately decorated wedding cake, the plot is multi-layered, with several well-developed subplots that add substance to the story. While the character portrayals and visual delights of the cinematography emanate with color, the plot reveals some of the family’s darker secrets.
Set in the bride’s home in an affluent suburb of Delhi, the film chronicles the days leading up to Aditi’s wedding and culminates with the exuberant ceremony. As the wedding nears and the extended family arrives from around the world to take part in the festivities, Aditi develops cold feet. Although her parents arranged for her to marry an engineer from Texas, she harbors secret affections for a married man. Her struggle to come to terms with her parents’ wishes and to respect Punjabi tradition continues throughout the preparatory wedding rituals.
While much of the film is devoted to resolving Aditi’s crisis, Mira Nair gives ample attention to portraying the personal dramas of the other principal and secondary characters. Not only are we introduced to Aditi’s large family, but we also come to know many of their quirks and conflicts. The flirtation of distant cousins, the budding romance between the wedding planner and the servant, and Adidit’s parents’ struggles with their effeminate son, all furnish the plot with layers of complexity. There are glimmers of Father of the Bride, in that much of the film focuses on the father’s efforts to finance the wedding and his emotional struggles with marrying off his eldest daughter.
Although most of the scenes take place at Aditi’s house, Nair averts a claustrophobic feel by separating individual scenes with beautifully filmed sequences of life on the Delhi streets. Not only are these lyrical interludes a masterful achievement in lighting, but they also convey a social message by juxtaposing the lifestyles of the upper-middle and lower classes. The use of a handheld camera makes the viewer privy to many intimate family moments. Unfortunately, some of the intimacy is lost in the occasional heavily accented dialogue, which left me longing for subtitles.
Nair’s vision, which highlights the activities of an individual Punjabi family, also offers a commentary on the globalization of contemporary India. However, invading elements of the West do not dilute the tantalizing Indian flavor of the film. Amidst the impending rains and the mounting tensions between the traditional and the modern, Monsoon Wedding triumphs as a celebration of the universal values of life, love, and family.
Archived article by Gillian Klempner
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April 8, 2002
The impact of the North Campus Residential Initiative on Program Houses has been met with mixed opinions. Throughout the planning stages of the North Campus Residential Initiative (NCRI), the implementation, and plans for the future, Program Houses (PH) have been kept in mind. Report In their Final Report (Sept. 29, 1997), the Residential Communities Implementation Plan Steering Committee addressed “the controversial topic of freshmen in program houses.” In this report, the Committee stated that, “while only a small portion of the freshmen class choose this option, many who do indicate that the program houses have a significant impact on their success as new students.” The Committee therefore recommends to “maintain the option of freshmen choice for program houses and extend the preference granted new students to included lifestyle choices [such as sleeping habits and study patterns] thus mitigating the impact of choice of a specific residential complex.” Jean Reese, Residential Initiative (RI) project leader, said that from about 1999 to 2001, “LeNorman Strong chaired a committee focused on the RI and Program Houses. All program houses had staff, students, and faculty representatives on the committee. The committee resulted in recommendations for strengthening the program houses, improving marketing strategies, devising program enhancements and program outreach efforts, etc.” From these committees, as well as the RI North Campus Program Committee and President Hunter R. Rawlings III’s report on Residential Housing, the following recommendations were made in relation to the RI and PH; expand outreach by holding open houses early in the fall semester, include PH as co-sponsors of Orientation (to help increase awareness of the PH option), move PH to North Campus if they wish to have freshmen residents — in which case, all PH on North Campus must have between 25 and 50 percent of its residents be freshmen — and lastly, maintain freshmen choice for PH living. Results One of the results of these recommendations is that some freshmen were placed in PH, without requesting to live there. “There was a strong desire by first-year students to live in the new dorms and therefore [students] didn’t request other [living options, like PH],” said Donald H. King, director of Community Development/associative director for Campus Life. King mentioned that a contributing factor to the unrequested placement of freshmen in a PH is bed count needs for North Campus. King, however, also said that when deciding who should be placed in a PH, “our purpose is to identify students who want to be there, not to place them there.” Unfortunately, not all unrequested freshmen placements were met with smiles. Ian McKinley ’05, was placed in Risley for the 2001-02 school year, and felt he was “thrown in without any thought.” Brian Y. Pan ’05 did apply to live in Risley, but agrees that arbitrary placement is not a good idea. “Each Program House is so specific, if you place someone in it that doesn’t want to be there, they’ll have a terrible time.” On a similar note, Melanie Errico ’04, another Risley resident, said that freshmen placed in Risley tend to be “socially involved, but not program involved.” A repercussion that Adam Savin ’04, a Just About Music (JAM) resident, pointed out is that, “There were a lot of people who wanted to live in JAM but couldn’t because they weren’t freshmen, and [they] were replaced by people, who didn’t want to live in JAM, because they were freshmen.” This was due to the freshmen percentage requirements for PH on North Campus. Victoria R. Lopez, Residence Hall Director for the Latin Living Center, supported this concern. “There are more students than there are spots for …. It’s very hard. Not only for me as an RHD, but also for all the students involved …. What I do see is the freshmen in Program Houses have a better mentorship, like on classes and professors, and I think that’s what they’ve benefited most from,” Lopez stated. The final question is whether or not the North Campus community really involves the PH, and whether or not that is a good thing. According to Errico, “We don’t consider ourselves North [Campus residents]. We’re not really involved in that area of the community, we’re kind of a satellite.” However, both McKinley and Pan felt they were able to be a part of the freshman community, so long as they gave it some effort. Savin said that living on North Campus this year has made him feel like a freshman, which has affected his decision to not live in JAM next year. Both staff and students have expressed different opinions on how the NCRI has affected PH. “The Program Houses (PH) on North are doing well,” said C. Anthony (Tony) McClean, RHD of the Holland International Living Center. King agreed, saying, “The Program Houses are experiencing a positive year on North Campus.” Jessica Gregush ’04, a two-year resident of the Ecology House said, “It’s hard to say everyone usually finds their niche.” Errico expressed disappointment, especially since there are people being placed, for example, in Risley. “I’m paying extra to live with people who are artsy. I wanted to live with people who are artistic and can inspire me, the select few are inspiring the masses who aren’t creative,” Errico said. “I would have rather been placed just with normal freshmen in other dorms. Getting placed in a Program House against your own will is not the best situation,” McKinley said. For the future, King stated there are plans for additional emphasis and publicity about the PH opportunities. He also noted that there is a “strong desire from current students in Program Houses and others in traditional residence halls to live in a Program house during the 2002-03 academic year,” and the caps have been raised for upperclassmen spots in PHs. Hopefully, because of this, there will be fewer instances of unrequested freshmen placement in PH in the future. For the future, Hubbell hopes, “to see [PH] thrive on North Campus …. The idea is to try and find specific things we want to do to improve North Campus Find out what we should do to make it a better community.” Archived article by Rachel Brenner
April 8, 2002
The last two years have witnessed presidential turnover at five of the eight universities that comprise the prestigious association of universities known as the Ivy League. In addition to Cornell, Brown, Columbia, Harvard and Princeton have all lost presidents and have had to embark upon the extensive presidential searches which Cornell will begin this month. “There is quite a turnover in the Ivy League. Many of us [presidents] are pretty good friends, and now we’re seeing a new generation come in,” said President Hunter R. Rawlings III. Rawlings will retire as president having served eight years, a relatively standard tenure for the presidency at large research institutes. “It’s an enormously taxing job. Hunter has raised $1 million a day for the last three years … heavy wear and tear on a human being,” said J. Robert Cooke, dean of the faculty. The presidential turnover within the Ivy League is not abnormal considering the high demands of the presidency and the relatively average tenure. “There are cycles in presidencies. If people are hired at roughly the same time, they will tend to turn at roughly the same time,” said Prof. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, industrial and labor relations and economics, the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. “The tenure of presidents at Ivy Schools is actually longer than the tenure at most other places. After all, these are the best jobs for presidents.” Richard L. Levin is serving his ninth year as Yale’s president and will be the Ivy League’s longest serving current president after George Rupp, Columbia’s president, retires after nine years this June. Lee C. Bollinger will replace Rupp at Columbia. Lawrence H. Summers, former secretary of treasury, replaced Neil L. Rudenstine at Harvard. James Wright entered the presidency at Dartmouth in 1999. Judith Rodin, the first female president of an Ivy League university, began her tenure as the President of the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. Two other Ivies have followed UPenn by installing women in that position. Shirley M. Tilghman replaced Harold T. Shapiro as president of Princeton when Shapiro left the university last June after 12 years. Ruth J. Simmons became president of Brown after E. Gordon Gee also resigned last June after only two years to become president of Vanderbilt University. “Cornell was the one that began with women and minorities…. It does require a conscious effort to change tradition. After a while, I hope it will become less conscious, more natural. We were founded as a co-educational institution. We have a broader constituency than the other Ivies do,” Rawlings said. Cornell currently has several high-ranking female administrators including Provost Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin, vice presidents Mary George Opperman, Polley A. McClure, Susan Murphy ’73, Joanne DeStefano, Carolyn Ainslie, Inge Reichenbach and the dean of the graduate school Alison Powers. Regarding the possibility of Cornell following this trend of hiring female presidents, Cooke said, “I am sure that will be given high consideration and the community will be delighted if that happens [but] I think we will go for the best candidate…. As far as filling a quota, I don’t think there’s a quota to be filled.” “Cornell, thanks to Hunter Rawlings, is very deep in female administrators,” Ehrenberg said. According to Ehrenberg, Cornell is one of two Ivies that has never had a Jewish president. “Diversity has many dimensions including race, ethnicity and religion. While diversity is important, I suspect that the committee will decide what the key issues are that are likely to face the university over the next decade and then find the person that has the best qualifications to help address those issues. If that person proves to be a female, an under represented minority, or a member of a religious group that never has provided a Cornell president, more power to the committee. That will not, however, be their primary objective,” Ehrenberg added. 13.5 years is the average tenure of Cornell presidents, including President Rawlings who will have served the University for eight years when he retires next June. His term ranks the third shortest of the ten presidents since 1865. Jacob Gould Schurman had the longest tenure as president, from 1892 to 1920. James Alfred Perkins served as president for the shortest period of time from 1963 to 1969 before his tenure came to a close immediately following the student takeover of Willard Straight, a relative time of crisis for the University. “Cornell has had a relatively small number of presidents. We were spoiled by Frank Rhodes [Rawlings’ predecessor] who spent almost two decades here. We are lucky to have had Hunter Rawlings for eight years. These are very strenuous and demanding jobs,” Ehrenberg said. Archived article by Laura Rowntree