October 27, 2003

LSP Appoints Brady Director

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Mary Pat Brady was appointed to the position of Director of the Latino Studies Program over the summer.

Brady had previously been an assistant professor of history.

The LSP serves as a resource center for students who are researching Latino-related topics. Currently, there are approximately 40 to 50 students concentrating in Latino studies, with about one half of the students being Latino.

Brady explained that, “by the time the current class of Cornell seniors are ready to think about retirement, at least one in four people in the U.S. will be Latino.” She said that this vast demographic shift will have an impact on all sects of life in the United States.

The Latino population in the United States is now estimated to be more than 35 million people.

“These people, who hope to be leaders in all kinds of professions, from hotel management to information technologies, from investment banking to communications, will absolutely have to understand Latino histories, cultures, philosophies, politics,” Brady said.

The LSP faculty and students work together to explore the social, political and economic aspects of life in the Latino community. The goals of the program include expanding the course curriculum, increasing the size of the faculty and staff and enhancing the academic environment for Latino students.

Brady hopes to increase the knowledge and awareness of the Latino program at Cornell.

As director, she plans to expand the program’s course offerings, create new events for the program as well as collaborate with the library system to increase its assortment of Latino collections.

“This spring we are hosting a special symposium on U.S.-Dominican practices and identities as well as a two-day conference about queer Latina cultures,” she said. Brady said the LSP is currently looking for two new assistant professors as well.

Olin Library, according to Brady, is currently implementing a new Latino Studies Collection. Ida Martinez, the librarian in charge of the collection, has organized the resources and promoted the collection.

“Cornell is incredibly fortunate to have such an energetic and knowledgeable librarian at the helm of one of the most crucial aspects of any intellectual effort,” Brady said.

Brady replaces Maria Christina Garcia who served as the director of the LSP for three years.

“[The LSP] was created in response to the militancy of Latino students in 1990s, but since then, it has become a very exciting program and we are meant to serve not only the Latino students on campus, but all students interested in Latino studies,” Garcia said.

Garica noted, “Like most programs on this campus we are here to educate students on particular topics, especially Latino populations of the United States because it is the fastest growing population.”

Garcia replied that she automatically knew Mary Pat Brady would be the perfect fit for the new position. “Mary was the natural choice to take over for me once I stepped down. She has lots of energy and ideas, and I look forward to seeing what she does in the next year,” Garcia said.

After deciding not to renew her position as director of the LSP, Garcia has resumed to teaching history and Latino studies courses at Cornell.

Brady said that the main focus of the LSP this year is to inform Cornell students about the Latino population as a whole.

“Fortunately for students here, Cornell has the strongest U.S. Latino studies program in the Ivy League,” Brady said.cult at a place like Cornell and what strategies we need to use.”

Koestner began delivering her message against date rape, which she calls the “crime of silence,” after going public with her experience of sexual assault during her first year at the College of William and Mary in 1990. The first part of her address on Wednesday evening was a detailed recollection of the event.

Koestner related the details that led up to the incident, which involved another William and Mary freshman. During the assault, she remembered that she “clenched up — closed up. People always ask me why I didn’t do anything, because they expect you to hate it, and you do, but there are many different ways to hate it. I remember trying to will him off of me — but telepathy doesn’t work that well.”

During the following week, Koestner wrestled with her options before approaching several levels of authority on campus. She had a difficult time getting support for her case but was finally able to have a hearing with a dean concerning rules of conduct that the assailant, Peter, had broken. In that hearing, Koestner recalled Peter testifying, “She told me no more than a dozen times that night, but eventually stopped, so I figured I changed her mind.”

The dean found Peter guilty of several violations and punished him by outlawing him from Koestner’s residence hall.

Dissatisfied with William and Mary’s response, Koestner began getting publicity for her situation by calling local newspapers. Before long, she had signed a release to be named the first victim of date rape, a term that did not exist before Koestner’s experience in 1990. She was on many television programs after that, including Oprah, Good Morning America and Larry King Live. She was also featured on the cover of Time magazine’s date rape issue.

Koestner earned degrees in public policy and women’s studies. Since then, she has been touring continuously with Campus Outreach Services to spread her message.

“I want to work with communities that aren’t addressing this. There are plenty of professors who work with this, but they don’t get into West Point or a small town in Georgia where the football team rules,” Koestner said.

To help spread awareness of sexual assault, Koestner has begun working with people like Braxton, who addressed the group about his work in “stopping oppression.” He has experience working with all-male groups as well as mixed-gender groups and has developed exercises to help men understand what role they have traditionally played in society and how that can lead to aggressiveness and oppression.

“A lot of gut emotions come out of [all-male] discussion groups. They usually challenge each other — they’re never all defensive,” Braxton said.

Braxton began speaking against racial oppression while in high school and then went on to study at the University of Virginia, where he won several awards for his activism. He has since begun to “bridge the gap between the struggles of all oppressed people” and now works mainly in challenging the oppression of women, specifically concerning gender violence.

Koestner has recently formed a foundation called The Katie Koestner Initiative for a World Without Rape. Koestner said she hopes the group will grow to be national in the same way that MADD is a national group against drunk driving.

Koestner and Braxton concluded their presentation by describing the next step in the battle against sexual aggression.

“If ‘no means no,’ when does yes mean yes?” Koestner asked.

She said such a determination will be vital to combat sexual aggression, particularly date rape, in the future.

Another member of SAGE, Wendy Soref ’04, thought Koestner’s presentation was helpful because “she told her whole story and all the obstacles that she faced in getting justice for what had happened and how many people were opposed to even speaking out about it.”

The event was sponsored by Community Development, Balch Hall, Balch Hall Womyn’s Center and the Community Center Councils.

Archived article by Allison Markowitz