News Briefs 4/24/2013

Anne Pike-Tay to speak at Spring Convocation

This spring’s guest speaker for convocation will be Professor of Anthropology Anne Pike-Tay. Convocation will take place on Wednesday, May 1 at 3:30 PM in the chapel. Acting President Jon Chenette chose Professor Pike-Tay, who will be speaking about the highlights of her journey into her profession. “I hope that by sharing my experiences, that students (especially the class of 2013), will see that less worry and more flexibility can go a long way to finding a fulfilling career,” said Pike-Tay.

This tradition began in 1865 when President John H. Raymond gave a sermon in honor of the college’s opening and continued until 1914, when a convocation ceremony was suggested. The student song “Gaudeamus Igitur” has been a part of the ceremony since the 1920s. Attendance at convocation was mandatory for all students through the 1970s and then it was required for freshmen and seniors until 1995. The spring convocation ceremony is very similar to the fall convocation ceremony, but also features the ritual passing of the gavel to the next president of the Vassar Student Association. After spring convocation, juniors ring the bell at the top of Main Building to symbolize their transition into seniors and ring in the year.

This ceremony will be especially significant to seniors for they only have a couple more weeks left as students at Vassar. For Senior Class President Vincent Marchetta, who has only been to spring convocation once before, this is an important day. He will be presented with the Class of 2013 Banner, which will symbolize the class’ time at Vassar until the class proudly marches with it at their first five year reunion. “To be the one to go on stage, receive the flag, and present it to my class is a great honor, and I am really excited for such a big moment,” said Marchetta.

 

—Emily Hoffman, Guest Reporter

 

Senate Rejects New Gun Control Proposal

Last Wednesday, the Senate rejected both a compromise on gun control to expand background checks on firearm sales and a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons that are modeled after military assault weapons. (CNN Politics, “Senate rejects gun background checks”, 4.18.13)

In the aftermath of the Newton school massacre in December, President Obama has made gun control reform a priority on his domestic agenda. (The Washington Post, “No New Gun Control”, 4.17.13)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and conservative Republicans strongly opposed the new proposals. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania produced a less comprehensive compromise than originally advocated for by Obama, but it still gained his support. The Manchin-Toomey Plan aimed to expand background checks to include private sales, gun shows, and all internet sales, but did not include sales between family and friends. Under current law, background checks are only required when guns are purchased from a federally licensed firearms dealer. (CNN Politics, “Senate rejects gun background checks”, 4.18.13)

The compromise required 60 votes to pass in an 100 member chamber. The final vote was 54 in favor and 46 opposed. Republicans along with a few rural state Democrats opposed this compromise, leaving Democrats six votes short. (CNN Politics, “Senate rejects gun background checks”, 4.18.13))

President Obama, as well as many other Democratic leaders, were extremely disappointed by this outcome. (CNN Politics, “Senate rejects gun background checks”, 4.18.13)

The NRA, which heavily opposed the new compromise, promised political retribution against supporters and called it the first step toward national gun registry and government confiscation of firearms. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a victim of the Tuscon shooting in 2011, said that those who opposed the compromise were doing so “based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the NRA.” (The Washington Post, “No New Gun Control”, 4.17.13)

The broader gun package, which includes tougher laws on gun trafficking and steps to improve school safety, is still under consideration by the Senate. Issues of background checks will considered agau=in in the Senate in the future according to Democratic aids. “I see this as just round one,” said the president. (Huffington Post, “Obama, Gun Control Backers: Defeat Won’t Stop Us”, 4.18.13)

 

-—Emily Hoffman, Guest Reporter

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