Rutgers March 2010
Douglass Now Newsletter
About Douglass Now
Douglass Home
DNN Staff
Douglass Residential
College Staff
Upcoming Events
Contact Us
Douglass Speaks
Miss Manners
Activist Majora Carter chats with students following her address on "Greening America" to a packed hall. (photo, A. Saeed)
Message from Dean Harriet Davidson

Grass Roots Green Activism
Carter Speaks at Women in the Era of Globalization Lecture Series

Thought-Provoking Art through the Lens of Gendered Agency
Feminist Women Artist Series

Globetrotting Scholars
The life of International Students at Douglass Residential College
Human Rights House Tackles Children's Rights in Romania Douglass PLEN Springs into Action
Featured Blogger: Genesis Mendoza's Rabbit Ink
 "Hands for Haiti" was just one of many fundraisers by DRC students in Haitian Relief aid. (photo, A. Saeed)
Video News & Analysis
Women's Leadership
Play Button
International Student Experience
Play Button

Students gather at the Women's Center to study and socialize (photo, K. Shivers).
DRC student is ready to bowl in support of earthquake victims in Haiti (photo, A. Saeed).
An elegant table awaits those celebrating women in the sciences (photo, K. Denda).
Relaxed, Resourceful Space for Students at the Women's Center
When you step into Rutgers University Women’s Center, you know that you are safe. Located on the third floor of the Douglass Campus Center, it serves as a sanctuary supporting women’s voices through academics, activism and development in understanding women’s issues.

Tucked away in the corner of the building, the Women’s Center is small, yet bountiful in all that it offers. 
 The shelves are lined with feminist classic textbooks, and the comfortable sofas create a perfect area to lounge. There are also weekly meetings held by social justice students.

Additionally, the Center hosts a collective of student organizations geared towards women, known as the Women’s Center Coalition. Members such as Radigals, RU Choice and The Craftivists use the recently renovated space for activities throughout the year.

First established in the 1970’s, The Women’s Center has undergone a number of renovations throughout its long history that include name and location changes. On multiple occasions the center was threatened with removal for various reasons. One time, the Center was even lost due to a fire in its location in what was the Psychological Services building several years ago.

In spite of efforts to permanently close the Center by administrators, Rutgers student body and faculty banded together and formed the Women’s Defense Coalition.
After endless rallying, the group succeeded in establishing a temporary space for the Women’s Center. That was five years ago and the Center is still going strong.
Because the center’s hours are based on the hours student volunteers can give, Kaitlyn Herthel, president of the Women’s Center Coalition, encourages students to assist as much as possible.  
“We really rely on our volunteers to keep the Women’s Center open.  We have many valuable resources that the Women’s Center would be lost without,” says Herthel.
If you are interested in volunteering hours at the Women‘s Center, contact Volunteer Coordinator Miriam Zander at
If interested in learning more about the Women’s Center Coalition, visit 
—Genesis Mendoza
"Bowling for Haiti" Raises Money and Awareness
On February 17 at the Brunswick Zone bowling alley, gutter balls, splits and strike outs told a story that was beyond a simple game of bowling. It was a narrative that spoke to the ongoing relief aid efforts by students of Douglass Residential College.
The “Bowling for Haiti” fundraiser was an event that merged the ideas of hall directors Omar Simpson and Karina Martinez. Simpson brought forward the proposal of a bowling night, while Martinez planned to sell, “Douglass Heart Haiti” tee shirts.
Using a group of dedicated DRC volunteers, the event brought out over 100 students from all over Rutgers University. “Bowling for Haiti” raised over $500.
The money was used to purchase relief aid supplies. It was donated to the Haitian Community of the City of Camden and Hope Memorial Baptist church, two organizations that are filling a warehouse with important necessities to be transported to Haiti.
“The most vital essentials right now are food, so with the proceeds we will be going food shopping and sending non-perishable items to the warehouse,” explained Simpson.

Tee shirts are still available. If you would like to purchase one, please contact Karina Martinez at
Beauty on the Inside and Out: DRC Student Winner in National Contest
When 19-year-old-sophomore, Misha Bernier, entered the Clinique and Teen Vogue "Fresh Face"challenge, she was among thousands of teens who vied for one of the top three spots. (Click here for video)
The high-performing School of Arts & Sciences student is in a host of activities at Douglass Residential College. Last year she traveled to Washington DC with the PLEN program. Her most recent involvement is helping to raise money for Haiti.
Bernier was flown to New York City with the other two winners for a complete makeover and photo shoot that was featured in Teen Vogue.
We congratulate Misha on her national achievement.
Annual Dinner Spotlights Prominent Women Chemists
From custom-made molecules to designing artificial bones, women have made many important contributions to the fields of chemical sciences.
Some of these women are Douglass graduates that are noted trailblazers in STEM field.

Attendees of Pfizer/Douglass lecture discuss details before dinner (photo, K. Denda).

Douglass Residential College continues to celebrate important women chemist through its annual lecture series, highlighting remarkable research.
Formerly known as the Wyeth/Douglass Lectureship, the Pfizer/Douglass Lectureship assumed co-sponsorship this year by hosting an evening that brought together faculty, staff, and students.
"[We] are thankful to Pfizer for their continued support of this important lectureship," said Regina Riccioni, Assistant Dean for the Douglass Project for Women in STEM.  
Also in attendance were Wyeth/Pfizer employees who have wholeheartedly supported the event since Wyeth co-funded the yearly gathering over a decade ago.
Added Riccioni, "The opportunity . . . to showcase an oustanding woman in Science to our [undergraduate] students provides an invaluable experience.
In addition, the event allows us to collaborate with the Chemistry Department [and grants] faculty and graduate students the opportunity to meet these fascinating, accomplished women scientists."
The annual lectureship has roots that start in 1993; just four years after Douglass College opened the doors of Bunting-Cobb, the first-ever residential hall in the country devoted to supporting women pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors.
At this year’s dinner, Dr. Linda Brzustowicz, a professor in the Department of Genetics presented groundbreaking research that examined how genetic traits may point to the levels of risks for developing schizophrenia.

Creativity • 창조성 명 • Créativité • Creatività • عاإ • Creatividade • Yaratıcılık • Kreativiät • тво́рческий дар
Snow Days: A Douglass Winter
by AMJAD SAEED, Staff Photographer

Douglass Speaks
Discovering Common grounds on Uncommon Terrain
by NATASHA OWEH, Staff Writer

At a school where the student population is an assorted array of race and ethnicity, Rutgers seems to be a place ripe for diversity to flourish; however, this is not always the case.
Although students are aware of the melting pot that exists, it feels natural for some never to leave their comfort zones.

That is why a diversity dinner themed “Common Ground” on Douglass campus, came at a perfect time. It helped  bridge some of those gaps through the simplicity of conversation and food.  
And I, as a British-Nigerian student who is constantly seeking to broaden my horizons within the Rutgers community, looked forward to meeting new people and tasting a variety of culinary selections.

The event started out with a tribute to Haiti. Next, the keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Antoine, Chief Diversity Officer at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, steered away from the traditional speech format and instead decided to engage the audience in cultural activities.

Dr. Antoine asked people to stand up if a statement he said applied to them. Qualities, like being the oldest child and being born in another state or country, may not be seen as being diverse, but the truth is there are people who are never exposed to others with these seemingly mundane attributes.
This exercise was fun but was not anything new to me. The students of Douglass Residential College offer a great example of diversity, as it is the most diverse population at Rutgers-New Brunswick campus and has created many programs engaging students from the various backgrounds.

Being of a unique descent, Douglass has allowed me to share my heritage comfortably with those around me. I have found the opportunity to go to events where I find others like me and feel strong in the skin that I am in.
When I say, “others like me,” it stems from an aspect of Dr. Antoine’s term “cultural confidence,” which signifies when a person is aware of his or her cultural differences or similarities while still developing strong confidence for what diversity entails.  Click to return to top
Miss Manners
A Common Sense Guide to Putting Your Best Foot Forward
by MEHREEN ISMAIL, Staff Columnist

When I hear the word “etiquette,” what comes to mind is an image of a prim and proper girl who is forcibly being groomed to be a “lady.”
She must balance books on her head, and cross her legs at all times. Not only does she have the daunting task of carrying those books without slouching her shoulders, her every move is dictated by rules of appropriate protocol that can be antiquated and patriarchal.

At first glance, etiquette seems reserved for only those with enough time and energy to learn the particularities of “proper social conduct.” Commands of “Sit, cross, and smile” and reminders that “A young lady should never do this” are quite painstakingly carried out on young women who have many more battles to fight than learning how to be nice at all times.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m the first to hunch over my books while studying at two in the morning, not caring to balance them on my head, but in my head. After all, I’m just a normal college student.
Still, I manage to use etiquette, when necessary, even though I’m no expert. The big secret I’ve learned . . . etiquette is not so much about behaving “properly” in public as it is about representing yourself with your best foot forward.

And the best part is, all that’s needed are (insert drum roll please), some simple and practical tips with a bit of effort.
We all have different backgrounds, so what we already know about etiquette varies. Though, no matter where you come from, being able to present yourself well, can level the playing field.
People will see that you’re not some dainty little girl, but a strong, confident, intelligent woman who is ready to lead. It’s understandable, though, that being on a path to get to that place can be a struggle. No need to worry; that's why this column is here.
It'll give you a rude, but needed, awakening (politely, of course) and set you in the right direction. The basic pointers I will give have worked for me, and I know they'll work for those of you who want to be a little bit better, and not mis-mannered. Click to return to top

A Message from Dean Harriet Davidson
In this third issue of the Douglass Now Newsletter several articles highlight the global:  from Douglass students travelling abroad to study human rights in Romania, to international students travelling to Rutgers from around the globe; from students raising money for earthquake victims in Haiti, to students embracing the global necessity of going green. 
Douglass students live in the most diverse community at Rutgers, New Brunswick, and the global emphasis of many Douglass programs allows students to learn about people, places, and issues from around the world.   While not every student can study abroad, Douglass allows many young women the chance at international travel because of generous donations from alumnae.  These trips provoke life-changing encounters with a world far beyond home and inspire students to keep learning and changing.  Many international students speak of taking the leadership skills they learn at Douglass back to their home country.  But that distance between university and home does not have to be far geographically:  Majora Carter spoke at Douglass about how returning home to the Bronx from college at Wesleyan led her to look at the problems of her community with a new eye, and by organizing for sustainable development, she changed her community for ever.   Here at Douglass we see women’s leadership at its best:  making a difference at home and in the world beyond.    Click to return to top

Grass Roots Green Activism: Majora Carter Speaks at 2010's Douglass Residential College Women in Era of Globalization Lecture Series
by KAIA SHIVERS, Staff Editor
Left photo: Student in Q&A is interested in changing her community and asks for suggestions; Center photo: Majora Carter stresses environmental justice; Right photo: Douglass Residential College student is ecstatic over green bag given to all audience members.

Going green is not an option for Majora Carter, it is necessary. An environmental justice advocate and MacArthur genius fellow, she explained the urgency of an ecologically sustainable America to hundreds during a lecture sponsored by Douglass Residential College on February 24.
In spite of the looming snow storm just hours away, Trayes Hall in the Douglass Student Center was packed with students, faculty, and community members. All gathered to hear the self-proclaimed “homegirl” who is also one of the top sustainability strategists in the country.

“No community should have to bear the brunt of environmental waste,” emphasized Carter, an awardee of the largest grant endowed toward greening an urban space and creator of the first green-collar job training program called Sustainable South Bronx. Her philosophy is simple and recyclable—in the pursuit of environmentally friendly spaces, everyone shares common threads interwoven by various strands of interests.

Famous for the slogan, “Green the Ghetto,” her aim is to actually green America. To prove her point, she spoke of the sisterhood formed with longtime activist Judy Bond who spearheads the campaign to end the deforestation of the mountaintops of West Virginia. “If homegirls and hillbillies can unite to save the planet, we all can,” Carter expressed.

Though she consults on major environmental issues around the world, her passion for environment justice started in her backyard. Reared in the South Bronx during the height of urban blight in the United States, Carter’s neighborhood became a dumping ground for numerous factories. Along with receiving 40 percent of New York’s commercial waste, the South Bronx became a site where poverty and an array of social ills devastated its people.

In time, Carter came to despise the conditions of her community and planned never to return once she graduated from Wesleyan University. Fortunately, her plans changed when she had to move back to her parent’s home while in graduate school.  

Eventually, Carter became involved with a local fight to stop the construction of more dump sites in her neighborhood. One morning while running with her frisky dog, Carter’s cherished pet wandered into a vacant lot along the Bronx River. It was on this day, she realized that the blighted area she called home was also teeming with neglected natural beauty.Carter plunged into a restoration effort that developed into a successful, multi-million-dollar community project garnering that led to the creation of Hunt’s Point Riverside Park.
Her personal story of transformation garnered a huge response from the audience, as students asked her questions that ranged from renewing their own neighborhoods, to getting involved with global projects. Many audience members stayed after to talk about how she inspired them to do more locally to forge a needed global green movement. And in the words of Carter, “The time is now.”   Click to return to top

'Gendered Agency' Exhibition Continues the Douglass Spirit of Supporting Feminist Women Artists Creating Thought-Provoking Work
by KARIN OXFORD, Staff Writer

Aliza Augustine is a second and third-generation Holocaust survivor. Both her grandparents and father made it through one of the world’s worst contemporary human tragedies, yet she was reared in a household that regarded any discussion of the event as a taboo subject. As a result, Augustine’s childhood experiences inspired her exhibition, “It is Safe,” an artistic display that confronts the ideals of domesticity in a household of attempted American normalcy.

Augustine is one of two female artists currently featured in “Gendered Agency,” an exhibition that is part of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series found in the Mabel Smith Douglass Library at Rutgers. The gallery is one of the few exhibition spaces featuring female and feminist art.

The second artist, Ashley Watson, compares the limited agency and inferior roles of women and animals in, “A Bird at My Table.” Her work uses black-and-white family photographs along with the shape of a woman’s back and arms, shot from angles to resemble female poultry.
The vivid orange glow of the female’s bird position sharply contrasts with the faded photography in the background of each work. The deliberate technique of fusing human and animal forms shows how visual art challenges the objectification of women’s bodies.

“[The artists’ series] is the oldest and longest continuously run exhibition space dedicated to making visible the work of emerging and established contemporary women artists,” explains Dr. Ferris Olin, co-curator of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series, founder and co-director of The Feminist Art Project, and Project Co-director for WAAND: Women Artist
  Archives National Directory.
Olin continues, “When it was founded in 1971, there were no female faculty members in the visual arts department at Douglass. In addition, women artists had very few opportunities to exhibit their work in galleries and museums.”

Joan Snyder, Douglass alumna of the class of 1962 founded the Women Artists Series. She felt it was important to provide opportunities for women artists to show their work and to provide Douglass students with role models.

“In 2010, with the rise of Feminist Art movement, many more women have taught in the visual arts department, and women exhibit their work in museums and galleries around the world,” says Olin, but she emphasizes, “There still remains a lot of work.”

The Mary H Dana Women Artists Series is an internationally recognized and award winning series. In 2011, the series will celebrate 40 years as the oldest and longest continuously run exhibition space dedicated to making visible the work of emerging and established contemporary women artists.
   Click to return to top

Globetrotting Scholars, the Life of International Students at Douglass Residential College
by KAIA SHIVERS & TANIA CASTEÑADA, Assistant Dean & Director of Recruitment & New Student Programs
The Thanksgiving holiday, the Macy’s Day Parade’s, New Year's Eve in Times Square and rush hour traffic jams are cultural norms most Americans experience without much thought. To an international student, eating cranberry sauce or watching the apple drop in Times Square can be drastically new events to add to the palette of life.
While international students experience the novelties of a different culture, the presence of international students also brings a profoundly dynamic presence to universities such as Rutgers. The vibrancy each international student brings to Douglass Residential College serves as the driving force for recruiting more women from around the globe.
About two percent of Douglass Residential College students are international. Coming from four continents, young women trek to New Brunswick from places such as Ukraine, China, Brazil and Kenya. According to Assistant Dean and Director of Recruitment & New Student Programs, Tania Castañeda, Douglass plans to expand its outreach efforts by generating more visibility through various government international programs to complement Rutgers’ university-wide efforts to enhance its global reach.
“Douglass is an attractive option for international women,” says Castañeda. “We can do a lot to make international students feel supported. It is important that they are provided resources and services, and ways to connect with people from their home country so they know someone else who understands what they are going through.”

As Castañeda points out, an international presence dramatically enhances student populations, and the university is making great strides in creating an environment that is more sensitive to the process of adjusting to a new environment for these students. “There are sayings in other languages that are not translatable to English,” explains Castañeda, “and something as simple as trying to explain your feelings can be very frustrating.”
Kenyan student, Renice Obure recounts the first time she ate in the cafeteria on the Douglass Campus and vividly recalls, “I walked in and saw a student who had all these piercings all over his body, I was like oh!” Later Obure said she was about to go home when the cafeteria kept serving shrimp instead of chicken. “I was so tired of this shrimp, I wanted my home food. Oh, I was ready to go back to Kenya, but I stayed.”

The community of women at Douglass has been significant for the international student body. Douglass’ mission to develop world leaders draws students near and far, but it is also small gestures of kindness between students that forms a collective of empowered women. Offering winter clothes to someone who has lived in warm climates, or sharing a textbook during the first week of school can forge lifelong friendships that travel across oceans.
(Photo caption: During November of 2009, the Office of Recruitment & New Student Programs hosted an international student tea to connect first year international students with current students. The Center for International Faculty & Student Services, Rutgers’ International Student Association, and other prominent organizations were invited to talk to the students. One portion of the event focused on sharing the cultural significance of Thanksgiving for students who would encounter the holiday for the first time).    Click to return to top

Human Rights House TacklesChildren's Rights in Romania
by ANNA ZAILIK, Staff Writer
Four Romanian cities in eleven days over winter break. The eighteen women of the Human Rights House at Douglass Residential College thought they were well-versed in the Eastern European country. After they were greeted by its ice-covered roads, they quickly discovered their textbook learning could not compare to their unforgettable experiences.

Students absorbed Romania's opulent culture, history, and food along with the diverse geographies consisting of breathtaking mountains, snow-covered hills, and vast plains. However, their trip was much more than pleasurable. They were there to understand the devastating effects that political tyranny can have on an entire country and especially on its children.

Exploring children’s rights is the theme for the Human Rights House this year which became the subject matter of their trip. Students worked in a number of ways to explore the issues regarding Romanian children by volunteering on projects created by local NGOs, examining disability centers, and studying the rights of children with graduate students at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca.

“While we are usually tied up in our ‘Facebooked world,’ reading texts half-heartedly, and just trying to make it to class on time, this hands-on learning experience made me realize that there’s more to life than the trivial worries I have at home,” said Michelle Szymanski, a second-year Neuroscience major in the house. "Being there felt like I was in between two worlds: East meets West, modern meets the antiquated, and Douglass meets uncharted territory,” said Szymanski.

There will be an open house featuring various presentations of Romania and a documentary of the trip made by members of the house in the NJC Lounge in the Douglass Campus Center on April 5, 2010.
The house members were accompanied by graduate fellow and instructor, Christina Doonan, faculty member Dr. Rebecca Davis, and Douglass Assistant Dean, Dr. Regina Riccioni. The trip was funded by the Alumnae of Douglass.
   Click to return to top
PLEN Springs into Action With Leadership Forum
by GENESIS MENDOZA, Staff Writer
In Washington D.C., Douglass women are learning how to transforming public policy through their participation in the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).
An institute that fosters leadership through mentorship, internships, and intensive workshops, PLEN is a national organization comprised of a collective of women’s colleges.  Its primary goal is to provide access for women within the fields of government, law and other areas within the public policy arena.

Douglass Residential College, a member of PLEN, uses donations from Douglass alumnae to support approximately forty to fifty students annually in a number of public policy activities taking place in the nation’s capital, Trenton, and on Douglass’ campus.
“PLEN is about engaging young women’s voices and connecting them to high-level policy makers,” says Sara Angevine, the Coordinator of Douglass-PLEN who adds, “Getting your foot in the door is really important in Washington [D.C.] because it is a city where many doors remain closed, especially for women.”
One of the highlights of Douglass' leadership training is its spring forum, a series of round-table discussions open to all university members. The forum consists of three prominent women leaders who will share the details of their professional and personal lives in multiple sessions. Each woman visits Douglass Residential College three times in order to cultivate relationships with students.

This spring the following lecturers will be participating: New Jersey State Senator and the first person to run as a Democratic Candidate for Lieutenant Governor in the state, Loretta Weinberg (March 3, 24 & April 28), political media strategist and former White House Communications Director, Nicolle Wallace (March 10, April 14 & 28), and Essex County administrator Joyce Wilson Harley (March 31, April 7 & 28), a Douglass alumnae.
PLEN started over three decades ago to get more women involved in professional leadership roles in the public policy arena. At that time, Douglass College was part of inaugurating an association that has helped thousands of women develop leadership skills and connect with some high-level policy makers in one of the most powerful places in the world.
Fortunately, some of those women have graduated from Douglass, and others attend Douglass Residential College today. For more information about PLEN contact Sara Angevine, at
   Click to return to top

About Douglass
Douglass Now Newsletter was created to showcase the unique and rich community of Douglass Residential College students by using new media technologies and classical journalism styles. The newsletter highlights the plethora of programs that cater to the wide array of students’ interests, prestigious scholarship, and the encouragement for every Douglass woman to be a leader.  Douglass Residential College has a respected reputation for its wide network that includes the following: community service, strong relationships with Douglass Alumnae, and an unbending mission to ensure that students maximize their potential.  This newsletter is written by students and staff, a collection of voices that capture a community that cultivates greatness.   Click to return to top

DNN Staff
DNN Editor: Kaia N. Shivers, DRC Staff Member
DNN Copy Editor: Barbara Balliet, DRC Staff Member
DNN Layout Design Assistant: Mehreen Ismail
DNN Staff Writers: Justine D'Souza, Natasha Kachikwu-Oweh, Kimpreet Kaur, Kayla McDermott, Indigo McCoy, Genesis Mendoza, Karin Oxford, Anna Zailik
Columnist: Mehreen "Miss Manners" Ismail
Photographer: Amjad Saeed
Video Reporters: Skylar Nwanonyiri and Samantha Smitte.
Video Editing: Kenji Denda
Facebook Mistress: Kim Kaur  Click to return to top
Contact Us
Please send your comments, ideas, events and suggestions to:
Facebook us on: facebook/DouglassNOW
We are looking for contributing writers, featured bloggers, guest videographers and photographers.
Everyone in the Douglass community is invited to submit including students, DRC student organizations, staff, faculty, and alumnae.   Click to return to top