Getting touched on the T

The MBTA can be a quick way to get around the city, but for some riders, like Cathy Gorman of Abington, it has also led to an uncomfortable situation.

During a recent visit with her daughter, Kristen Gorman, she said a male passenger reached under her dress as he was standing in front of her.

“I kicked him and called him a filthy pig,” Gorman said. “He just scooted off the train after that. I could just tell this was something he’d done before – this was a practiced move.”

Gorman is not alone, according to recent statistics: 57 indecent crimes, including groping and verbal harassment, were reported to the MBTA in 2005. Twenty crimes were reported on the Green Line, more than on any of the other five transit lines, according to Emanuela DeSouza, an MBTA crime analyst.

“It may be because it’s college students who are targeted. The Green Line sort of has a younger crowd on it. Incidents usually happen en route, not typically at a stop. It starts around Park Street and then westward from there. Also, the green isn’t a six-car line, so people are packed in like sardines,” DeSouza said.

MBTA Transit Police have received 17 complaints so far in 2006, predominantly on the Red Line.

“I can’t explain why. It has the most riders, so it would be consistent,” DeSouza said.

DeSouza added that overall, indecent crimes affected few of the system’s more than one million daily riders.

Jim Ferrier, associate director of public safety, echoed a similar sentiment, remarking that he infrequently receives these kinds of reports from students.

“I only remember a couple of cases over many, many years,” Ferrier said.

Adele DeAngelis, who recently received her master’s degree in physical therapy from Northeastern, said people sometimes make inappropriate comments to her on the subway.

“Anything from like, ‘What, are you too good for me?’ if I don’t answer them or look at them, or ‘What are you doing tonight?'” DeAngelis said.

HollaBackBoston.com, a Web site that features a blog where users document incidents of street harassment and post phone snapshots of harassers, was launched in May.

“When I first moved to Boston, I got harassed in public twice within the first couple days of being here, once on the T and once in a cab late at night,” said the site’s founder, Michelle Riblett. “Both times I felt too scared to yell back at the guy. Walking on and not doing anything leaves me feeling violated. I realized I needed a more effective method to fight street harassment.”

Riblett said taking a harasser’s picture with a cellular phone camera is like “digital pepper spray,” and can be a valuable supplement to police reports.

Although DeSouza said subway harassment is typically a weekday, rush-hour issue, Ferrier said crowded trains and buses are generally safest.

“I stress that if there are things occurring, report it. Don’t walk away from it,” he said. “Say something right then, even scream.”

Lubricant: It’s condom sense

Walk into any drug store and there is an aisle devoted solely to sexual intercourse. Different brands, different styles, different uses – the choices can be overwhelming.

The benefits of some contraceptives, such as condoms, are widely known, but what about something designed to make sex more enjoyable for both partners? Personal lubrication can do just that. Amid the sea of multi-colored boxes and flashy labels, there is some basic information that will help make navigating the rows of lubes an easy one.

Sexual lubricants are “products that give the human machine greater glide during sex, making sex more comfortable and pleasurable,” according to Go Ask Alice! (www.goaskalice.columbia.edu) a health forum run by Columbia University’s Health Promotion Program.

There are four types of lubrication sold on the market today: water, silicone, oil and petroleum-based. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, said Pamela Harris, the coordinator of health promotions and planning at University Health and Counseling Services.

Water-based lubricants are a versatile lube and Harris’ recommendation, she said.

Such lubes, like Astroglide, are safe to use with all types of protections. They will not damage condoms or any other type of latex protection and clean-up is easy, as water-based lubrications do not stain sheets or clothing.

The downside of water-based lubricants is they don’t last as long and often need to be reapplied. Also, women should be aware of water-based lubricants that contain glycerin, an ingredient that will remain smooth and slick for extended periods of time but is also a leading cause of yeast infections, according to Go Ask Alice!

Users should also avoid using water-based lubricants during sex in water, such as in the shower, where it is apt to be washed away.

The other most popular type of lube is silicone-based like Eros, the number one seller at Condom World.

“It’s silicone-based, super-concentrated and it remains really silky [throughout sex],” said Molly Johnson, a manager at Condom World on Newbury Street.

Silicone is proven to last longer than water-based lubes, thus making reapplication usually unnecessary. It can also withstand water, making it the choice for water sex. However, there are a few problems with silicone.

Silicone is difficult to clean up, it stains sheets and creates a hard to remove film on anything silicone, such as sex toys.

While water and silicone-based lubricants are the preferred products for vaginal intercourse, it is not the only capacity where lube can be used.

Petroleum-based lubes, such as Vaseline and baby oil, are not suitable for vaginal intercourse because they interact with latex poorly and can damage the integrity of the condom. This type of lube is best used for male masturbation, according to Go Ask Alice!

Oil-based lubricants are the final type and most closely resemble petroluem products. They come from natural sources, like vegetable oil, however counteract latex and should not be used with a condom.

Regardless of the style, the point of using lube remains the same.

“It’s for increasing the joy of sex,” Harris said. “There is no disadvantage to using it.”

There are many reasons why a lube should be used during intercourse.

During sex, lubrication, whether naturally produced or applied, makes sex smooth and easy. Both men and women naturally produce their own lubrication, however, for many reasons this natural lubrication may not be enough to withstand the duration of sex. A woman may not produce the necessary lubrication, a condition known as vaginal dryness, and at those times a lubrication product is helpful, Harris said.

“Vaginal dryness can happen. Anything can cause it, medication can do it, anything,” Harris said.

Some medications, like antihistimines, have the tendency to contribute to vaginal dryness.

Dryness can also be triggered by emotional factors, Harris said.

“Women get nervous. Maybe they are thinking there’s something wrong if they need lube. Women don’t lubricate themselves if they aren’t ready [to have sex],” Harris said.

Emotions can also play a larger part in the use of lubrication during sex. For some students, lubrication may still spark feelings of uneasiness, said Kevin Vesey, a senior biology major.

“Some people think there’s a stigma to using lube: ‘What, you’re not turned on enough by me?'” Vesey said.

Aside from personal pleasure, the safety benefits of using lubricant make it an essential product, Johnson said.

“The leading cause of a [condom] break is lack of lubrication,” Johnson said.

Many condoms come pre-lubricated, but consumers must be wary of a spermicide ingredient called nonoxynol-9 (N9). Recent studies by the National Institute of Health’s Office of AIDS Research suggests a connection between N9 and HIV, but there has yet to be a proved connection.

Most condom manufacturers are phasing out their use of N9, but there are still some out there on the market and consumers should be aware, Johnson said.

The latest development in the personal lubrication industry, and the most talked about as of late, are the self-warming lubes, Johnson said. Products such as K-Y Warming Liquid warm on contact and the added heat can increase sensation for many users.

“A lot of people enjoy the warming feeling, but I would almost recommend a cool lube, [because] it can only get so hot in there,” Johnson said.

A lack of sex education may contribute to lubricant ignorance, said Vesey.

“If [students] are taught it at the age when they learn [sex education] it would just be stuck in their head as fact,” Vesey said. “Do more lubrication commercials. Not just some random woman, get a spokesperson saying, ‘I use this brand.'”

In the end, using lubricant, not using lubricant or remaining celibate are personal choices. However, information spanning the gamut of sexual topics is readily available. Besides Go Ask Alice!, Web sites such as Good Vibrations (www.goodvibes.com) and My Pleasure (www.mypleasure.com) all have sex education areas. Do not be embarrassed to ask questions, advised both Johnson and Harris.

“[No question] is really weird at this job, it’s like selling shoes at this point,” Johnson said.

Harris says testing out different types of lubrication is the only way to determine what will work best for you.

“I would try different kinds. What feels good between your fingers, what tastes good, whatever feels good. It’s all very, very subjective,” Harris said.

New program allows free legal music downloading

The downloading service which began at Northeastern may soon be making a full circle return back to campus.

Universities around the country have caught on to a new program which allows students to download unlimited songs through Napster, free of charge.

Schools such as Cornell, Tufts, George Washington, Vanderbilt and the University of Rochester have taken advantage of Napster’s program, offering students who live on campus free access to one of the most popular music downloading sites simply by having a university user name and password.

Michael Benson, the Student Government Association’s president-elect, said the program is appealing to colleges because it eliminates the possibility of students being prosecuted for illegally downloading music or movies.

“It would provide students [a way to] download music legally so there would be no potential problems for Record Industry Association of America lawsuits,” Benson said. “I actually think it would be a very good idea.”

Benson added that the program is definitely something SGA will look into during the upcoming year.

Due to the convenience of the program, several students said they think it would become popular on Northeastern’s campus if implemented, despite having to pay to transfer songs to an MP3 player.

“As long as it was free or even if prices were low, if it was easy access I don’t see why it wouldn’t [catch on],” said Vince Rinaldi, a middler finance major.

The program, which began in 2003, works by offering students tethered downloads, or essentially, rented songs. Students may download as many songs as they wish to their computer for free, but if they want to burn the songs or transfer them to an MP3 player or iPod, they must pay $.99 per request. Students have access to the songs on their PC as long as they reside on campus.

For students just looking to listen to music on their computer, this program is cheaper than the $9.95 per month fee they would be required to pay had they signed up for Napster on their own.

Better dorms and gardens

Door beads, lava lamps, flashing lights, Grateful Dead posters …. No, this isn’t a description of a “hippie commune” in Haight-Ashbury, rather it’s become the stereotypical image of a college dorm room. While this may be true for some students when decorating their rooms, others stray from this path and have created quite a different atmosphere to live out their years of college.

With this in mind, there definitely are some common ideas for decorating, some related to style, others related to what’s hot this year in the entertainment business.

Some of this year’s hot items to plaster on your walls are movie posters from the popular flicks “Trainspotting” and “William Shakes-peare’s Romeo + Juliet.” There are also the free posters floating around campus for “Ransom” and “Jerry Maguire.” These popped up in numerous rooms in the dorms, evidence that these are this year’s blockbuster hits, as compared to the plethora of “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” posters on walls last year.

“Star Wars” is also another obvious hit with the recent re-release in the theaters. “Got Milk?” ads are another decorating idea, whether you collect them or not, for their celebrity appeal.

Other decorating ideas have more to do with what’s happening locally in Boston and New England. With the Patriots making it to the Super Bowl, Pats paraphernalia is apparent in many rooms, as fans declared their loyalty to the home team.

With the Herb Ritts exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts on display for the past few months, art buffs took the opportunity to purchase cop-ies of some pieces to place in their rooms.

But not all of the trends have to do specifically with what posters and pictures are plastered on walls and ceilings. Other trends are shown with the kinds of furnishings used in dorms to add a certain atmosphere.

Besides being cooler looking than regular desk lamps, floor lamps are big since the lighting in apartments and dorms is pretty harsh on the eyes. Floor pillows, bean bags and futons are also fairly popular, as an alternative to sitting on hard floors. Although these kinds of things have always been around, they seem more apparent in the college setting, since they are cheap and comfortable — two main characteristics of anything a college student owns.

Continuing on the line of cheap, collages of pictures are a good idea to brighten up a room.

Nicole Boyko and her suite mates in Kennedy Hall went with this idea but altered it slightly to fit their personal interests.

“We wanted to create something that would make the room a little better suited to our interests, so we took a bunch of pictures and came up with the Hottie Hall of Fame,” Boyko said.

In order to do create original ideas, it seems that our generation has a thing for recycling old trends and spicing them up a bit to fit individual style. Mark Guertin, of Loftman Hall, exemplified this with his room.

“We put up some Christmas lights and it all started there,” he said. “We decided to put up some more lights and then we got even more stuff to put up and just went with it.” Besides Christmas lights, their room also contains strobe lights, black lights, a disco ball, black light posters, paintings and a tire (hanging from the ceiling).

What it comes down to is that each individual should do what they want with their room, from transforming it into some sort of place of worship of the Doors, to making it into a greenhouse filled with plants. Whatever your style is, take some of the trends from this year and adapt them to fit it, and enjoy!

Wall of Oppression breaks down diversity

The student-run “Writing on the Wall Project” spearheaded Diversity Week this year, challenging students and faculty to confront issues of intolerance and discrimination in society and their lives.

On Friday, Oct. 17, six months worth of time and effort by a group of diversity-driven students culminated in the destruction of the “Wall of Oppression,” an act meant to symbolize the breaking of barriers in society. From Oct. 6-9, 200 students and faculty members associated with various organizations attended six brick-painting sessions in the African-American Inst-

itute, the Snell Library Quad and Speare Cafeteria, where they decorated bricks to represent instances of intolerance in their lives or the lives of people they know.

Margot Ferencz, a freshman geology major, heard about the project through the Northeastern University Allied Student Coalition (NUASC) and volunteered to supervise the brick painting in Speare Cafeteria.

“When I heard about [the Wall of Oppression], I thought it was an absolutely great idea, so I decided to help,” Ferencz said.

The project took on a more personal meaning for Ferencz, who is also involved in the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and the Asian Student Union (ASU).

“I’m multi-racial and I think it’s important that we learn to accept everybody, especially in the U.S.,” she said.

Following speeches by President Richard Freeland and Donnie Perkins, dean and director of the office of affirmative action and diversity, during the Oct. 14 opening ceremony for the “Wall of Oppression,” the first of 300 bricks were placed into position in the Snell Library Quad. Freeland recalled witnessing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” in Washington, D.C. in 1963.

“We’ve learned a lot in the 40 years since that famous and wonderful March on Washington … and so we gather here today … as a journey on those principles continues,” Freeland said.

Former ambassador speaks on Iraq, CIA leak investigation

Joseph Wilson, former ambassador to several African nations, speaks to students in Blackman Auditorium Nov. 21.
“A fast-talking, terse former negotiator, Joseph Wilson sat straight in his chair, offering no sign of fatigue from months of questioning and what he called “tawdry political tricks.”Asked about the same topic he has entertained for months – the unveiling of his wife’s once-covert spy status by syndicated columnist Robert Novak – he gave a scowl as if to rev his rhetorical engine and spit an answer with lightning pace.”What this is all about is the 16 words in the [2003] State of the Union Address, but the lackeys in the administration have managed to divert the attention from those 16 words and onto my family,” he said, taking no breaths over the course of a minute. “The real issue is the level of threat we faced from Iraq at the time we went to war. I would prefer to be in that debate, seeing as how I have something to offer. Unfortunately, most people want to know what it’s like to be Valerie Plame’s husband – which I’m also happy to talk about.”

In a talk sponsored by the Northeastern College Democrats at Blackman Auditorium Nov. 21, Wilson laid out the story of how he had gone from being a relatively anonymous state department official to “Valerie Plame’s husband,” sparing few from potent verbal attacks along the way.

Over 90 minutes, the rhetorical engine never slowed down. He was able to provide the audience with most of his career history, his position on both Iraq wars, a full account of the trip to Niger he called the reason for his character assassination and, as a “side issue,” his reaction to the outing of his wife’s identity as a spy with the CIA.

Wilson, a former ambassador to several African nations and to Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War, described his position on the current Iraq War as a complete “180” from what he called his “hawkish” position in 1991.

“It was clear to me in 2002 that there was a group of people advocating for war who didn’t understand what would happen if we invaded [Iraq],” he said. “Those of us who had some experience could see that the risks far outweighed the positives.”

He said his experience meeting with Saddam Hussein just before the United Nations attacked Iraqi forces invading Kuwait in 1991 and helping spur democracy in Niger helped him come to the conclusion democracy was too difficult a road to pursue in Iraq.

Forum opened to all after discrimination complaints

After originally advertising for “women of color only,” the Women’s Studies and Graduate Consortium’s first “Breaking Bread: Women of Color Dialogue” was forced to open the doors of the Raytheon Amphitheater to all races last Saturday.

The event was meant to include only women of color during its first session from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the second session from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. open to the public. However, after protest from the Student Government Association (SGA), orders came from Provost Ahmed Abdelal that the event must remain open to all who wished to attend.

“They were in violation of the nondiscrimination policy,” said Michael DeRamo, SGA vice president for academic affairs. “We’re glad that everything turned out well and the people who wanted to go were allowed to attend.”

He said although SGA appreciated what the program was trying to accomplish, SGA could not stand dormant while one of their senators was denied admission based on her race.

Dr. Robin Chandler, director of women’s studies and one of the organizers of the event, said she was disappointed she received orders to open the event to all, even though only one white woman actually attended the first session.

Chandler said the point of the first session was to convene as a group of women of color to address issues before bringing those issues to the second session, which was meant for all to attend.

“I think it’s a shame that one or two white students based on white privilege, a lack of awareness of racial issues and a lack of generosity of spirit complained to the office of the provost and were able, because they were white, to gain admission to the morning session that I was forced to open up,” Chandler said. “Only one white female student showed up and I welcomed her anyway, in addition to telling the audience to conduct themselves with integrity even though the presence of a white woman was unwelcome.”

Attendees said they felt having women of color only attend the first session would help them to come together as people with similar issues, many of which they felt were perpetrated by white people. Therefore, many said white women would not understand these issues. They also said the women of color wanted to express themselves without feeling threatened or on display, which many remarked they would feel if white women were present.

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