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Table of Contents

The Academic Bill of Rights: Yea or Nay?

The Academic Bill of Rights - What is It?

It's My Right!...

Thelmo Resolution in Support of Civility, Free Speech and Dialogue

Is Tolerance Enough

If We Agree in Love

The Responsible Use of Freedom

Sticks and Stones...

What's Out There: Researching Academic Freedom

Alumni Accomplishments

The Kenya Connection

Laurentian Reviews

Table of Contents

Laurentian Reviews
Winter 2005

Dream Season: A Professor Joins America 's Oldest Semi-Pro Football Team , by Associate Professor of English Robert Cowser Jr. (Grove/Atlantic, 2004)

“At the age of 30, Bob Cowser, Jr., is leading a happy life as a husband, father, and English professor at St. Lawrence University. But he misses the exhilaration he felt when he took the field for high school football games. In what is every Monday morning quarterback's fantasy, Cowser revisits his days as a football player by joining the Watertown Red and Black, the country's oldest semi-professional football team.” That's how the publishers of Dream Season describe the book by Bob Cowser, who ultimately quit the team to join the nearer-to-home St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers, at the time the country's newest semi-professional football team. “Inviting us onto the line of scrimmage,” the publishers state, "Dream Season also takes us into the locker room of a fabled team. Witty, heartwarming, and written with the power and grace of a Hail Mary toss caught in the end zone, this remarkable story reminds us why we love the games we play.” Cowser’s well-received book (see “St. Lawrence in the News” in the print version of the Winter 2005 St. Lawrence Magazine) is a revealing, self-deprecating memoir that presents occasional glimpses of St. Lawrence University and an intertwined frank commentary on North Country culture. It’s also one participant’s inside look at the world of semi-professional football, where compelling dedication to the sport produces a willingness to endure long trips in cramped vans (on one trip to Montreal for a game, some team members were not allowed across the border because they had criminal records), injuries, and nearly empty bleachers for the retro glory of competing. An Academy of American Poets prizewinner on a team of cynical corrections officers, Fort Drum soldiers and assorted transients, “the professor” has to prove himself more than most, not only to his football teammates, but also to his faculty colleagues, not to mention a skeptical though grudgingly supportive wife. Cowser’s memoir shows how a person manages to operate in more than one world at a time.

Scraping By in the Big Eighties, by Associate Professor of English Natalia Rachel Singer ( University of Nebraska Press, 2004)  

If you're of a certain age, a feeling of déjà vu might come over you as you scan the nightly news. And if some of the themes have a familiar, vaguely-like-the-80's feel to them – and not in a good way – rest assured that it's not just you. In Scraping By in the Big Eighties Natalia Rachel Singer combines memoir with political commentary to make the point that “history is being revisited upon us" in a trickle-down phenomenon she dubs “déjà-voodoo.” The book is part of the American Lives series, edited by Tobias Wolff, and featuring books of literary nonfiction. “My book is dedicated to everyone who lived through the eighties convinced that the whole world had gone crazy,” Singer says, “and who are feeling a very uncomfortable déjà vu now. It's also dedicated to my students, who were born during the Reagan years and have never lived in the America I knew as a child, when, for all its flaws, the commitment to end poverty and injustice was a top-down mandate.” Ironically, the book came out very close to the time of Ronald Reagan’s death. Singer's plan, when she headed for Seattle in 1979, was to get laid off, go on unemployment, and become laid back. Meanwhile she would train herself to become a writer. “Rejecting the avid materialism of her generation and the violence of American culture,” the editors state, “she vowed to surround herself with natural beauty, steer clear of her mentally ill mother, and contribute nothing to the fluorescent-lit, acronym-ridden, anesthetizing military-industrial complex. “Her quest, which she hoped would bring her peace, safety, and creative fulfillment, actually put her increasingly in harm's way. It has, however, paid enormous dividends for readers who here have the perverse yet exquisite pleasure of following Singer's low-budget search for a bohemian haven during the last gasp of the Cold War. [Her] tortuous path, chronicled with self-deprecating wit and disconcerting candor, leads her to a duplex in Seattle, a Buddhist monastery in the Catskills, a ghost town on the Olympic Peninsula, a beach hut in Mexico, graduate school in western Massachusetts, and even a Left Bank convent, but it never frees her from her identity and obligations as an American, either at home or abroad. “Singer blends memoir with cultural history to critique Reaganomics, military buildups in the face of eroding social programs and growing national debt, the hypocrisy of so-called family values, and her own complicity in all of it,” the editors continue. “Scraping By in the Big Eighties is, more than anything, about taking politics personally. Lyrical, meditative, occasionally heartbreaking, and often darkly comic, this book about mistakes blithely made in decades past is still timely today.”

Occupied by Memory, by Assistant Professor of Global Studies John Collins ( New York University Press, 2004)

This timely volume explores the memories of Palestinians in the “intifada generation,” those who were between 10 and 18 years old when the intifada began in 1987. Based on extensive personal interviews, “the book provides a detailed look at the intifada memories of ordinary Palestinians,” according to the publishers. These personal stories are presented as part of a complex and politically charged discursive field through which young Palestinians are invested with meaning by scholars, politicians, journalists and other observers. What emerges from their memories is a sense of a generation caught between a past that is simultaneously traumatic, empowering and exciting and a future that is perpetually uncertain. In this sense, Collins argues that understanding the stories and the struggles of the intifada generation is a key to understanding the ongoing state of emergency for the Palestinian people. The book will be of interest not only to scholars of the Middle East but also to those interested in nationalism, discourse analysis, social movements and oral history.

Overcoming Childhood Obesity, by Colleen Russell Thompson ’84 and Ellen Shanley (Bull Publishing Company, 2004)

“Wherever you go,” Colleen Thompson told a local newspaper reporter in her hometown of Wallingford, Conn., recently, "There's food, food, food.” And it’s not just quantity that’s the problem, she continues; “Our behaviors are trickling down, naturally, to our kids. We're feeding them fast and we're feeding them fast food and not paying enough attention to the types of foods we use.”

To address this problem, and the resulting obesity, Thompson, a biology major at St. Lawrence, and her colleague Ellen Shanley have written a practical guide aimed at helping parents create a healthy environment that prevents childhood obesity and helps already overweight kids slim down. Both authors are registered dietitians and faculty members in the nutritional sciences department at the University of Connecticut. Thompson has a master's degree in nutrition from the UConn; she also has three sons, ages 6 to 13, so she knows firsthand about the challenges of feeding children healthy foods when they are bombarded with advertisements for those that are less healthy.

Perhaps based equally on her professional expertise and her personal experience, the book is divided into separate chapters for young children, school-aged kids and teenagers. The authors provide seven simple (“Not easy, but simple,” Thompson stresses) Slimdown Secrets, among them Insist that Kids Eat Breakfast, Eschew the Sugary Drinks, Bring Back Civilized Family Meals and Practice What You Preach.

Dr. Phil may say as much on TV (Thompson and Shanley would say you should be exercising instead of glued to the screen), but you’ll forget it as soon the kids start clamoring for burgers and fries. This well-presented book will give you a resource that can always be at your fingertips.

The Song of Hellas, by Michael A. Soupios ’71 ( Athens: Klidarithmos, 2004)

“There is more to Greek patrimony than a handful of sculptures and a collection of polytheistic folktales,” says the blurb on the back cover of this book, continuing that the book “attempts to trace the journey of an audacious little people who forever altered the course of world history by daring to unleash the energies of the human spirit.”

Professor Soupios adds to this in the Preface by asking rhetorically, “What possible affinities could exist between a people who prospered 2500 years ago and a civilization that has landed men on the moon and solved the riddle of the double helix?” Soupios, a professor of political philosophy at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, aspires in this volume to assess “the contributions to Western Civilization made by the Greeks in areas such as science, art, politics, and philosophy,” and to suggest that “certain of (the Greeks’) insights and approaches may still illumine the human condition.” He proposes that what the Greeks passed on to us so long ago is vital to our cultural survival today and in the future.

Soupios lives in East Northport, N.Y., with his wife, Linda Wheeler Soupios ’71; they have three children.

Pretty Good for a Girl: The Autobiography of a Snowboarding Pioneer, by Tina Basich, with Kathleen Gasperini ’87 (HarperCollins, 2003)

When Tina Basich grabbed her rented snowboard and headed to the mountains around Lake Tahoe, snowboarding wasn’t yet considered a sport. It was at its start, and like others could easily have become dominated by male-driven competitiveness.

But Tina Basich had other ideas. Comments like “You’re pretty good – for a girl” pushed her to be the best. She became an all-star, started her own signature board and a clothing line, and co-founded Boarding for Breast Cancer.

Her story, told with the writing assistance of Kathleen Gasperini ’87, also a co-founder of Boarding for Breast Cancer, is intended to inspire 13-to-20-year-olds, regardless of gender. Gasperini is co-founder and senior vice president of Label Networks, Inc., a youth culture marketing intelligence company. She has been senior editor of Powder and Snowboarder magazines, editor of Women’s Sports & Fitness and publisher of W.i.g Magazine—for Women in General. She was also the technical writer for the IMAX film Extreme.

--Neal Burdick and Macreena Doyle