Story by Kimia Nikseresht

Just a few months ago, three young people were shot in the head in their home near the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina. Their shooter was a neighbor who claimed that his act of violence was due to frustrations over an on-going parking dispute. All three of the victims were students. All three were Muslims. Two were women, who chose to wear the Hijab.

While not all incidents of hate escalate to murder, anti-Hijab sentiments are quite common in the post-9/11 United States.

In an interview with U.Va. Today, Farzaneh Milani, renowned author and professor in the Women and Gender Studies and Middle Eastern Studies departments at U.Va., recalls walking into a classroom wearing the veil, in order to make a point to her students – as a society, we have developed an unhealthy obsession with the veil that prohibits us to see beyond it. Her students’ response was eye-opening: she was greeted with pure silence.

When she asked her class why they were so quiet, she finally got her answer. One student blurted out, “we are scared… You might be carrying a gun under your veil”. Milani explains, “I had ceased to be the teacher [my students] knew so well. I had become an image – a gun-toting, menacing woman. I have to admit, never before had I experienced firsthand the boundless power of stereotypes”.

While violent, headline-worthy incidents are rare, encounters with painfully explicit expressions of prejudice are dishearteningly common in the United States today. In fact, a study published in Making Connections: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cultural Diversity, titled “Gender Identity and the Religious Practices of First-Generation Muslim Women Immigrants in the U.S.” shows that 85% of those interviewed could recount one or more blatant incidents of public humiliation, shaming, and threats. These can be physical, or mental and psychological.

Attiya Latif, a second year at the University of Virginia, has a story to tell that is unique to her own experience, but consistent in its implications. She recalls opening a surprise note in her 10th grade locker, where she found written, “Go back to where you came from. Kill yourself. Terrorist. Love, Jesus” by an anonymous classmate.


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Story by Kimia Nikseresht

Yeki bood, yeki nabood. There was one, there wasn’t one. These famous words have served as the gateway into millions of stories, told and retold by thousands of Persian storytellers for centuries. Four simple words- with massive significance. As Farzaneh Milani explained, “at the threshold of every story there is a warning that truth is elusive, that there is always another story, another side to the story. More important, it is a reminder that behind every storyteller stand several unacknowledged storytellers”.

On October 22, students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Small Collections Library at the University of Virginia to celebrate Farzaneh Milani’s scholarly work and contributions, as the 2015 recipient of the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award. A writer and journalist, Elizabeth Zintl held various positions at the University of Virginia, including her service as the Chief of Staff in the President’s Office. Zintl passed away in 1997, but her memory is honored and celebrated annually through the presentation of this award.

Sponsored by the Maxine Platzer Women’s Center, the award is presented annually to a female at the University of Virginia, honoring their professionalism, creativity, and commitment to their research, students, and their overall impact on the community. Previous recipients include senior associate director of athletics Jane Miller (2014), and dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Meredith Jung-En Woo (2013), Vice Provost for Administration and Chief of Staff And a Webb (2012), and others whose leadership has inspired women and men at the University and beyond.

The evening included a thoughtful introduction by Jahan Ramazani, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University, who expressed his admiration for Milani’s “sheer passion and devotion” to her students. He went on to applaud Milani’s character and “innovative, ground-breaking, and sometimes provocative” scholarship.


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All photos taken by Jack Looney.

Story by Allyson Cartwright

On October 26 indie-rock band Modest Mouse performed their new album, “Strangers to Ourselves” at the Charlottesville nTelos Wireless Pavilion for a sold-out show. After an eight-year hiatus, Modest Mouse is back to making the music that is familiar to their fans. Their sixth and latest album is 15-tracks of heavy rock-driven tracks that are characteristic of the bands previous work.

While this latest album is a welcomed return for the band, there seems to not have been much growth in their time off. The album is composed of more contemplative songs about the same existential crisis in the band’s previous albums like, “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” (2004) and “The Moon & Antarctica” (2007). Their song “Sugar Boats” was even an uncharacteristic pop style equivalent to the band’s massively popular 2004 hit “Float On”.

Just like previous Modest Mouse albums, the songs are basically about human existence having no purpose and life being a monotonous drought. Tracks like “Be Brave” and the title track, “Strangers to Ourselves” really depict this message in old-school Modest Mouse fashion. Repetitive phrasing like “From day, to day, to day, to day to today/We carry, we carry, we carry our own weight” in “Be Brave” resembles the line about being “stuck in traffic” in “Strangers to Ourselves”. Most all songs depict this purposelessness of life, but that theme is nothing new for Modest Mouse. The songs that varied from this are “Coyotes” and “The Best Room”, which are more about degrading human behavior and intentional ignorance. Overall, it was comforting to hear that Modest Mouse has stayed true to their original kind of music even after such a long break, but it was unexciting. I wanted to hear about new experiences and new ideas. After taking a break from music that should have provided inspiration for unexplored themes, but they reintroduced the same stale messages about life that could be heard on literally any other Modest Mouse album.


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Story by Kendall Siewert

Disclaimer: Minor Friday Night Lights spoilers ahead

1. Alarm clock goes off. Noooo, just five more minutes.
2. Alarm goes off again. I NEED SLEEP, PEOPLE.
3. Third time. Sh*t, now I don’t have time to get ready.
4. Whatever, f**k the patriarchy.
5. What does that even mean, anyway?
6. Wait, but my dark circles under my eyes are horrible.
7. Okay, I’ll just put on a little concealer.
8. And maybe mascara.
9. Ugh, I just poked myself in the eyeball with this mascara wand.
10. Why do women subject themselves to this sh*t? Society, AMIRITE, ladies?
11. But I do look a lot less tired. Makeup can hang.
12. Time for breakfast. I am seriously craving a bagel.
13. I’m not sure I should eat that many carbs this early.
14. Who cares? It’s my body and I think I look great.
15. Except for my thighs. Oh well.


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Story by Carly Gorelick

It is no secret that our university struggles with a lack of diversity. Statistics released by the University continually demonstrate homogeneity of both the student body and faculty. While the issue of diversity at U.Va. can produce enough commentary for multiple articles, this piece seeks to address the lack of faculty gender diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) departments. To accomplish this, I interviewed two female faculty at the university to inquire about their experiences and the specific ways that prejudice has affected them in their fields and at U.Va.

 

nursing-+-engineering

Guess which 2014 faculty population graph represents the gender ratio of U.Va.’s engineering program and which depicts the nursing program.

The ease in which one can distinguish between the gender ratio of the two graphs above is disturbing. Gendered assumptions of academic abilities and tendencies continue to damage gender relations and uphold restrictive roles, even if we are not actively considering these biases. For instance, as long as we continue to internalize that men are not nurses, we begin to believe all men have some qualities inherent to masculinity that make them incompetent nurses. When we believe this, men may forgo nursing dreams. While we may never vocalize this directly, these stereotypes effectively work to undermine which academic tracks different genders choose to pursue at U.Va.

Both Kristin Courtney, a U.Va. graduate student currently pursuing a P.hd. in Mathematics and a female full-time professor in the Physics Department, who wished to remain anonymous, recognize the problems faced by women in STEM programs. Though they both speak from different backgrounds, one as a student and the other as a teacher at U.Va., they describe many similar experiences and thoughts about the diversity of their programs.


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