Episode 52: The Future of Our Brains
This week, UConn philosopher Susan Schneider tells us about some of the possible benefits (and some of the potentially terrifying downsides) to artificial intelligence; Daniel Burkey, associate dean in the School of Engineering, explains how the school became a nationally-lauded model of student diversity; and we learn about two incidents in 1960 that involved flags it’s best not to wave, especially not when the governor is on campus.
Tom Breen: Hello everyone and welcome to episode 52 of UConn 360 that’s the only podcast ever created in human history that covers the University of Connecticut from every conceivable angle. 52! We’re coming up on our second anniversary.
[00:00:25] Julie Bartucca: I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for that long.
[00:00:27] Tom Breen: I know. Two years.
[00:00:28] Julie Bartucca: Time flies when you’re having fun.
[00:00:30]Tom Breen: Â It’s true,
[00:00:30] Julie Bartucca: and it sounds like you’re exaggerating when you say things like the only podcast in the known universe, and it’s so true. It’s hilarious.
[00:00:36] Tom Breen: Everything is accurate. I never say anything inaccurate.
[00:00:39] Julie Bartucca: That’s false, but okay.
[00:00:40] Tom Breen: On this show.
[00:00:41] Ken Best: But, we’ll hear about other universes, possibly later.
[00:00:44] Tom Breen: Conceivably. Joining me, as always. You’ve already heard some of their voices. My colleagues, Maxine Philavong
[00:00:49] Maxine Philavong: Hello! I’ve been having existential crises about other universes lately, so this is not helping.
[00:00:55] Tom Breen: Oh, wow. Okay.
[00:00:55] Julie Bartucca: We talk about this a lot. I don’t know why, I don’t like it.
[00:00:58] Tom Breen: Well, here in this universe, uh, also joined by Julie Bartucca.
[00:01:02] Julie Bartucca: Scared of universes. Hello.
[00:01:04] Tom Breen: Ken Best.
[00:01:04] Ken Best: Comfortable in the universe.
[00:01:06] Tom Breen: Good, all right. Yeah. There’s some multi-verse verse. Yeah. Okay.
[00:01:09] Julie Bartucca: Spider-man, spider-verse.
[00:01:10] Tom Breen: The UConn 360-verse. There’s all different versions of the podcast.
[00:01:14] Julie Bartucca: I hope none of them are better than this one.
[00:01:16] Tom Breen: That’s impossible. I’m sure our physics department would confirm that.
[00:01:20] Ken Best: I have to talk to Professor Ron Mallett l and see if he’s got his time machine ready for us.
[00:01:23] Tom Breen: Yeah. All right. Why don’t we jump right into the news?
[00:01:26] Julie Bartucca: God. Let’s.
[00:01:27] Tom Breen: Get off the subject of the multiverse. Julie, you’ve got some exciting news about a new major.
[00:01:32]Julie Bartucca: Â I do. UConn has become the first and only college or university in Connecticut to offer a four year bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language.
[00:01:41] The major is made up of courses in language, literature, linguistics, and culture. And all of the ASL language courses are taught by deaf faculty in the department of linguistics. There’s a lot of events already set up and a close relationship with the American school for the deaf in West Hartford because UConn has had an ASL club for a few years now, and those will provide enrichment opportunities for students in the major.
[00:02:04] Assistant professor in residence of linguistics, Linda Pelletier, says the major set students up with the tools they’ll need for careers in speech pathology, social work, or education, and a concentration in interpreting offers, introductory courses for those who wish to continue their training to become certified interpreters.
[00:02:20] Students can begin declaring the ASL major on May 1st.
[00:02:23] Tom Breen: Very nice. Ken, what do you got going on?
[00:02:25]Ken Best: Â Well, there’s a couple of exhibits that have opened as recently as this week, on campus, and that we’ll be continuing till the end of this month and beginning of next month that I think you’ll be interested in our friend Graham Stinnett at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center has gone through the materials and archives and special collections there. Dealing with the railroads, alternative press and blues to create There and Back Again: A Hobo’s Tale, which examines the nature of hobo culture in the United States. You may recall that the development of railroad systems in the United States helped grow the economy and the westward expansion in the 19th century, which also resulted in itinerant travelers, including civil war veterans who jumped on freight trains as they saw work and traveled around the country.
[00:03:09] One of the possible origins of the term hobo is the fact that when these travelers were asked their destination, they would reply, Homeward bound or hobo. Exhibit includes copies of hobo times a form for news, poetry, and photos, and other information for these travelers. A chart of hobo symbols, which is really neat.
[00:03:25] That provides key information for communication that’s understood by the travelers in rail yards, warning of hazards, safe areas, and other information, and several additions of books by A #1, the famous tramp, who claims to have traveled 500,000 miles for $7 and 61 cents.
[00:03:43] Julie Bartucca: That sounds really cool.
[00:03:44] Ken Best: There’s a 2005 documentary film Who is Bozo Texino by Bill Daniel, which traces a search for the world’s greatest boxcar graffiti artists. That will be shown on February 6th at a reception. For information go to the library’s website: lib L I B dot UConn dot edu. lib.uconn.edu. The other exhibit is in the contemporary art galleries returns us to the underground comics of the sixties and seventies through the art of Robert Crumb who created Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and the iconic “keep on trucking” posters. The exhibit was curated by contemporary art galleries, director Barry Rosenberg from items in the collection of retired UConn drama professor, Dale AJ Rose, who started collecting Crumbs’ artwork more than 50 years ago. The exhibit runs through March 6th. You can get more information at the contemporary art gallery’s website, which is contemporary art galleries, all one word, dot UConn dot edu contemporaryartgalleries.uconn.edu
[00:04:36] Tom Breen: All right.
[00:04:37] Julie Bartucca: Got to get out to those.
[00:04:39] Tom Breen: Yeah, absolutely. Those, those sound great. And of course, Graham Stinnett, friend of the podcast in this universe or any other, uh, and in fact, since we’re talking about like universes and very heady subjects, why don’t we get into your story, Ken, because this is a, this is some intense intellectual stuff.
[00:04:53] Ken Best: Five years ago I spoke with philosophy professor Susan Schneider when she started the gained national attention for her writings about talks on artificial intelligence, and she was invited by NASA and the library of Congress to speak about astrobiology and preparing for the discovery of life beyond their earth.
[00:05:10] Her basic premise is that most advanced alien civilizations that we would encounter would be forms of artificial intelligence, otherwise known as AI. So today, Professor Schneider is director of the Artificial Intelligence Minds and Society Group right here at UConn and the NASA Baruch Blumberg chair at the Library of Congress ,where her responsibilities include meeting with members of Congress to discuss artificial intelligence policy.
[00:05:35] She recently published a new book titled” Artificial You: AI, and the Future ofÂ Your Mind.” Before she left Storrs for a book tour, we talked about the issues surrounding artificial intelligence.
[00:05:54] Susan Schneider: I’m a philosopher of mind and a metaphysician as well as a cognitive scientist, and for years I’ve been fascinated by developments in artificial intelligence. The book is about whether we would really find that consciousness would be an inevitable outgrowth of intelligent synthetic systems. So in other words, would we really find that the artificial intelligences that are in our world in say, 40 years, that are impressively intelligent, would they be conscious?
[00:06:30] And how would we detect consciousness and what would it mean to be human? And what would it mean about sentience? So that’s half the book. The other half of the book is dealing with the nature of the self. I was pointing out that AI isn’t just going to change the world around us. It’s going to change the human mind.
[00:06:51] So what I’m concerned about is the use of invasive AI components inside of our heads. I talk a lot about our need to understand deep questions about what we are before we start playing with fire and say, replacing parts of our brains with artificial components.
[00:07:13] Ken Best: Well, that in fact, in terms of experimentation is actually in process now, as you report a little bit in the book and exploring alzheimer’s disease and other issues that might be rectified by neural implants and other technology to improve someone’s situation. But you still always come back to the fact of if there’s an artificial intelligence, at what point does it become aware of itself if it’s just an artificial intelligence?
[00:07:44] Susan Schneider: There are all kinds of impressive medical technologys underway, and I’m very supportive of the use of invasive brain chips to help individuals with radical memory loss or locked in syndrome where they can’t move. I think this is all really exciting. What I get worried about though is the idea that humans should engage in widespread enhancement of their brains.
[00:08:09] So for instance, Elon Musk has recently declared that we need to keep up with super intelligence. That is intelligence that is synthetic and vastly out smart us. And we need to do that by enhancing our brains. And the brain enhancements are also necessary so that we could keep up with pending technological unemployment.
[00:08:32] So in other words, we need to keep up with the AI, so we better become AIS ourselves. So he talks about merging with AI, and I take him to task because I think that the idea that we could truly merge with artificial intelligence in the ways that a lot of tech gurus and transhumanist advocate is actually philosophically not well-founded.
[00:08:53] Ken Best: For a little bit background, he’s most known for Space X. So he’s out there trying to do a lot of different things, but you always come back to the examples that you try, that you hold up, one of which, is a great example. Commander Data from Star Trek. He’s stuck on a planet and he’s being attacked and he uploads is a neuro link to the computer.
[00:09:13] And you question was that mean it’s really him? Can you bring that back and still be the data that he was before he might’ve been destroyed? And these are the issues that you get to in the book.
[00:09:23] Susan Schneider: Yeah because I think people assume that AI’s will have the capacity to be immortal, so they’ll somehow be different than us.
[00:09:31] I see a lot, a sort of glorified sense about our AI mind children, and there’s always the assumption that A, there’ll be sentient, so it’ll feel like something to be them, and B, they’ll be more durable and they’ll even have a seat at the heat death of the universe. They’ll live so long. Again, I think all of that’s not true.
[00:09:51] And I use the data example to illustrate that. If Commander Data found out that he was on a planet that was about to be destroyed, he would face the same issues conceptually with the idea that he could upload and genuinely survive. I think the idea that you could transfer your thoughts to a different format, like still survive impending death is conceptually flawed.
[00:10:17] Ken Best: Well, the work that you’re doing with Congress now and trying to look forward a bit. Uh, what kinds of questions should be, are you being asked by people in Congress and those that you’re working with to try and get a handle on what we should be thinking about going forward with all this technology and the question of what’s going to happen when things move further than they already are and the way of technology in the mind?
[00:10:43] Susan Schneider: There’s been a lot of concern over the last few years about deep fake videos. For example, if you’re a politician, you don’t like that. Nobody likes it. But I mean, your career could be ruined by a deep fake video that has you saying something really rotten that you never said. But there is so many other things as well.
[00:11:00] So algorithmic discrimination is a big issue. The fact that algorithms that are deep learning based will be data-driven. And so if the data itself has hidden biases in it, it can actually lead to a bad result that discriminates against certain groups. And there have been many members of Congress who’ve been concerned about that.
[00:11:22] There’s now something called the AI bill. There is an AI caucus. I mean, things have been moving a little slow, I will say. But I think there’s a real concern also with China and the perception is that. Quite highly technologically driven, authoritarian dictatorship, and how are we going to maintain a safe planet?
[00:11:42] And then there’s a new thing that I see, which is a sort of distrust of tech companies, especially after the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica mess. And there’s talk of breaking up tech monopolies because 30 years in the future, I think people are really wondering, well, what will be the most powerful entity?
[00:11:59] Will it even be a government or will it be, say Google?
[00:12:02] Ken Best: What is the question that you’re not being asked that you think should be asked about all of this?
[00:12:07] Susan Schneider: Oh, well, the usual thing that happens, we’re all too busy to read. And so everybody’s looking at the first couple chapters. I probably should have made the first few chapters more accessible.
[00:12:20] I mean the ones on machine consciousness or I think I’m noticing that reviewers aren’t really following the main arguments of the book, sadly, but, but Hey, it’s being reviewed, so I’m grateful. So at the end of the book, I think the last substantial chapter, the book asks whether the mind is a program and damn, everybody holds that nowadays, right?
[00:12:38] I mean, so many people, I mean, I’m a cognitive scientist, so you know, I grew up on that idea. Nowadays, when I teach cognitive science classes, you’re doing background on the nature of the mind. I often assign papers that are suggesting that, and I argue against it even though I am a proponent of the idea that the brain is computational.
[00:12:58] I just think the idea though requires a lot more subtlety and the idea that we’re a program. It’s sort of a bad parse on what’s really going on in cognitive science. And it leads us to all sorts of silly views, like the idea, for instance, that we could upload our minds. You see, if the mind is a program, you can upload and download your program and you could survive the death of your brain.
[00:13:20] But sadly, I think survival is tied to our substrate. And even though there’s a sense in which the brain is computational, I think. It’s a very fruitful research paradigm and cognitive science does not by any stretch mean that your own life is what we might call substrate independent or multiply realizable so that you could survive if you say added all sorts of chips to your brain and deleted your biological material.
[00:13:50] Ken Best: These are scary things for people to think about.
[00:13:53] Susan Schneider: Fun, though.
[00:13:54] Ken Best: Just occurred to me cause I talked to Mitch Green. Oh, last year about his book, Know Thyself and the class. I don’t know if you have talked about this together, but he’s probably getting two of you in the same room to discuss these issues because you know, self awareness and knowing yourself. This all comes together at some point.
[00:14:12] Susan Schneider: Oh, that’s so cool. Mitch and I co-taught a class. Of course, I’d be keen on talking to Mitch about all this. You bet. He’s deep.
[00:14:21]Ken Best: Â Well, you know there’s Socrates and then there’s Mitch.
[00:14:24] Susan Schneider: That’s awesome.
[00:14:29] Julie Bartucca: That was another freaky thing that freaks me out. AI, talking about brains, you know, connected to the main frame or whatever.
[00:14:37] Ken Best: Well, we just don’t know where any of this is going, which is why she’s around to look at the philosophical and ethical questions that need to be considered when we’re, we’re talking about this stuff.
[00:14:49] Tom Breen: Julie.
[00:14:49] Julie Bartucca: Yeah.
[00:14:50]Tom Breen: Â What do you have for us?
[00:14:51] Julie Bartucca: A little different. Little more down to earth, if we will. Right here in this universe. For sure. UConn School of Engineering has been recognized in recent years as being a national leader among engineering schools for fostering diversity, particularly when it comes to increasing the number of women.
[00:15:06] Students and faculty as women have been historically underrepresented in the field. Few years ago, a Washington Post survey said that UConn was the number one public institution in the country in terms of growing female undergraduate engineering students in the years between 2010 and 2015 and then back in November, women engineer magazine named UConn School of Engineering to its top 20 universities list.
[00:15:28] Based on the diversity of students and faculty as well as the curriculum and the school’s ability to foster a diverse and inclusive learning environment. I spoke with Dan Burkey, who has been associate Dean for undergraduate education, outreach and diversity in the school since 2013. He’s also a chemical and biomolecular engineering faculty member and told me about how the school has evolved its curriculum and has increased diversity during his tenure.
[00:15:59] Dan Burkey: One of the things that I think we’ve done is really work on the pipeline process. A lot of people think. That it’s just as simple potentially as snapping your fingers and admitting more women into the school of engineering. Like why can’t we just be a gender parity immediately? And part of that is, is that people look at engineering sort of monolithically sometimes.
[00:16:18] Oh, be an engineer. It’s like we have 11 or 12 different majors. And so there’s a lot of diversity and you know, mechanical engineers do things very different from chemical engineers, do very different things from manufacturing engineers, very different from environmental engineers. There’s a broad range of interest, and so you’ve got to think about what students are interested in when you consider engineering.
[00:16:36] The other part of that is then you have to start thinking about, well, how do I keep younger students in grade school and high school interested in those things so that they decide they want to apply to engineering school and come and study engineering at the collegiate level. So, you know, one of the things that I think we’ve been very strong at is really building that pipeline and touching students all along that pathway from grade school all the way through high school, all the way into applying to college.
[00:17:01] Julie Bartucca: What are some of the concrete ways we do that? I know you have the engineering diversity and outreach center that runs a lot of different programs.
[00:17:07]Dan Burkey: Â I’m very, very blessed in that we have a really great team working for us. Kevin McLaughlin and Velda Alfred-Abney are my two folks who work in the engineering diversity and outreach office.
[00:17:17] And we also rely on a tremendous number of student volunteers. So one of the big things that we do is the engineering ambassadors program. Where we have all of our students that are trained to go out and interact with young students in grade schools and high schools throughout the state, and they do hundreds of visits a year to touch thousands of students’ lives and really show them what it’s like to be an engineer.
[00:17:39] They talk about what the practice of engineering is about. They get them excited with hands on demos. They show them, Oh yes. People, people who look like me and have my background go on and study engineering and become engineers. So a lot of it is just being present. And so that’s one of the things that we, we really work on with regards to that pipeline building is getting our students in front of younger students and showing them, this is something that you can do.
[00:18:01] Another thing that we do a lot of is we do some specific programs really aimed at young women. One of the biggest ones we do is multiply your options, which is for a young grade school girls, it’s hundreds of girls now that come to the university and interact with our alumni and professional female engineers.
[00:18:17] And really get to see what it’s like to be an engineer in the state of Connecticut or in the practice of engineering here in the state. That mentorship and that role modeling is a huge component of getting young women interested in engineering. Not that they’re not interested in engineering already, but showing them what the pathways for them actually are.
[00:18:35] Julie Bartucca: And this is a very obvious, the answer seat should seem obvious, but I want to hear from you. Why is it important to increase diversity in engineering?
[00:18:45]Dan Burkey: Â One of the main reasons I think it’s important is that. You don’t want monolithic ideas, right? People don’t think of engineering sometimes as creative.
[00:18:53] They think of it as, Oh, it’s just math and science, and you follow the rules and you plug the things into the equation and out pops the answer. Engineering is actually incredibly creative. It’s incredibly a necessary for people to think outside the box and bring different experiences and different ideas and different plans to the table.
[00:19:09] And if you’ve only got one kind of person or one kind of thinking at the table, your solutions are not really going to be very, very strong, very diverse, very interesting. You miss out on solutions and important solutions and potentially lifesaving solutions when you ignore big swaths of the contributors.
[00:19:24] Julie Bartucca: Absolutely. How has the number of women faculty changed over the past several years? .
[00:19:31] Dan Burkey: So you know, that’s obviously something that the school continues to work on it. And that’s also a pipeline issue because one of the things that they talk about is, well, why can’t we just hire more women faculty? And that’s again, because if you don’t have women undergraduates, you don’t have women that continue on to graduate school who then are interested in becoming faculty.
[00:19:47] And there’s also, I’m sure my female colleagues would would tell you there’s a lot of structural barriers and a lot of implicit bias in faculty hiring nationwide. I think we’ve done a really tremendous job improving that over the last seven or eight years that I’ve been in an administrative role. When I started in chemical engineering in 2010 we had one female faculty member in the department, and now we have I think five or six.
[00:20:09] Julie Bartucca: Okay, and at least one department head. Right?
[00:20:11] Dan Burkey: And at least one department head, Marissa over in civil environmental engineering who were super excited about and has been extraordinarily successful in her first year on the job.
[00:20:18] We’ve made that a priority and had faculty searches and hiring with that diversity in mind. And the Dean, you know, Kazem Kazerounian, has been a fantastic advocate for that. Having increased women faculty really also helps our current students, right? Because again, so much of that is role modeling and saying, these are successful women that have gone on to be, you know, engineers and be faculty members.
[00:20:41] And if that’s something that I want to do, then that’s totally possible. There’s a lot else that goes into it in terms of support networks and providing, you know, both academic and nonacademic support. But the power of just having that visibility is such an important part of that success.
[00:20:54] Julie Bartucca: And you were telling me a little bit, via email about some of the new initiatives, I think you have diversity in a different way that make freshman engineering curriculum a little bit more interdisciplinary and are bringing in some different kind of viewpoints. Tell me more about that.
[00:21:06] Dan Burkey: We redesigned our freshmen engineering curriculum a couple of years ago. Because it was very siloed. So mechanical engineers sort of do what they want. The environmental engineers do what they want, the chemical engineers do what they want, and that’s not how things work in the real world.
[00:21:19] So we wanted to get students working together and we wanted to make it more project based. We want it to get it more hands on. Engineering students are often tinkerers. They get into engineering because they want to build things or design things where they had that innate curiosity. And so we wanted to feed that in that freshman year.
[00:21:33] Engineering is a lot of math and science and foundational work, and there’s been articles in the New York Times and all these places about why is there this brain drain in STEMs because we drowned them in just technical classes and don’t let them do anything creative or interesting for the first couple of years.
[00:21:48] And so this was really in response to that. We really want it to say, all right, here’s this freshman. You walk in and here’s a problem, here’s an ill defined problem. Here’s a real world kind of design problem. We’re not going to give you a whole lot of information other than what the goal is. We want you to use that creativity and your passion and your interest and your fresh eyes to try and solve those problems.
[00:22:06] We’ve tied them a lot to the national Academy of engineering grand challenges, so things about how do we provide power for a growing population? How do we provide portable water in developing areas? How do we provide infrastructure and so big picture problems that they may work on as some part in their career.
[00:22:22] And getting them to talk and brainstorm and think about that and work together in teams has been a real big part of doing that. The other part that I think is really interesting with that is that we’ve, I’ve really tried to make it multidisciplinary at the school level, so I’ve been working really closely with a colleague of mine.
[00:22:39] In the school of education, Mike Young, to bring in best practices from education, and then also do some really interesting pedagogical things with the class. And actually we have this new Krenicki Institute with the school of fine arts that’s all about bridging the gap between what engineers do and what happens in fine arts.
[00:22:56] And we’ve actually brought in a faculty member from the school of fine arts to talk about design and the process of design for this spring’s class. So we’ve got education involved, we’ve got fine arts involved, we’ve got engineering involved. Really trying to show students that engineering is a creative endeavor and that they can really feed that part of their imagination.
[00:23:23] Tom Breen: That was great. Thank you for that. Changing gears again, I’d like to go back to the past to a time…
[00:23:29] Julie Bartucca: Is this something we do?
[00:23:30] Tom Breen: We’re going to visit Tom’s history corner circa the spring of 1960.
[00:23:36] Julie Bartucca: Good time.
[00:23:36] Tom Breen: And we’re going to talk about flags.
[00:23:38] Julie Bartucca: Oh,
[00:23:39] Tom Breen: so in March, 1960, as you’re probably aware, there was a burgeoning student civil rights movement happening.
[00:23:45] The student nonviolent coordinating committee had been founded at Shaw university that winter, which would play a major role in the civil rights movement. Also in North Carolina. The, students in Greensboro were the first to have stage lunch counter sit-ins that winter and UConn group of students got together, formed a civil rights committee to raise money for the legal defense of students in North Carolina.
[00:24:05] And also to march through campus to, I guess raise awareness about the civil rights struggle in America as they were marching through campus in late March of 1960, they passed a, a fraternity residence where the members had hung out a Nazi flag.
[00:24:21]Julie Bartucca: Â In 1960?
[00:24:22] Tom Breen: In 1960.
[00:24:23] Julie Bartucca: Well, it happens today. So.
[00:24:25]Tom Breen: Â This was picked up by a national wire services,
[00:24:27]Julie Bartucca: Â As it should have been.
[00:24:28] Tom Breen: Uh, and, uh, caused a bit of a stir. The president of the fraternity, wrote a letter to the daily campus saying, it’s all in good fun. And they also hung out the Nazi flag when the ROTC cadets would march by.
[00:24:38]Julie Bartucca: Â Hey kids, just to, just to tip. Never fun to hang a Nazi flag anywhere for any reason,
[00:24:45] Tom Breen: but this was not the only instance of a totalitarian flag pouring float on campus in the spring of 1960 May, 1960.
[00:24:53] About six weeks later, there’s going to be a major civil defense event held at UConn. UConn played a key role in the state’s civil defense plan, which I’ll get into probably in another history corner, but governor Abraham Ribicoff was going to be here. Lots of other big wigs were going to be here, and there’s going to be big drill where sirens would sound and students and faculty would have to like duck and cover, like as if that would make any difference in the event of a nuclear war.
[00:25:16] And, uh, each dorm had an air raid warden assigned. I mean, it was just. They were sort of preparing for world war II. And you know, the face of world war three wasn’t a good idea. But anyway, they did it. They loved it. Civil defense, the day that Abraham Ribicoff arrived on campus, a different fraternity greeted him by hanging out a Soviet flag
[00:25:34]Julie Bartucca: Â Name names.Â Who are these fraternities?
[00:25:36] Tom Breen: Well, the Soviet flag fraternity is, uh, let’s see. That’s a, they were known as a shakes. That’s theta Sigma Chi, and so it’s a big, it looks homemade to me. I’ll post a picture of it online and asked for comment on the flag hanging. The governor shook his head negatively and looked away.
[00:25:52] This is from the daily campus. A state trooper who drove daily campus photo editor,Les Archenbolt during the activity said, “I’ve heard about this sort of thing. It isn’t good.”
[00:26:02]Ken Best: Â Um, yeah. You think?
[00:26:04] Tom Breen: However, unlike with the Nazi flag, somebody got expelled for the Soviet flag. Paul Bardell, a member of theta Sigma Chi was expelled, uh, after the, uh, Soviet flag prank.
[00:26:15] He appealed personally to governor Ribicoff who said, “my hope is that the university would not expel him, but it’s up to them.” He wrote a letter of apology. Uh, however, uh, Dr. Arwood Nortbee, director of the division of student personnel, said, uh, he was, uh, not interested in, in, in Bardell’s apology also declined to comment on why no one had been punished for the Nazi flag affair.
[00:26:36] So, uh, I actually didn’t find out if a Paul Bardell was ever instated. I couldn’t find a news story saying one way or the other. I’ll keep looking because I’m curious if he was back. Yeah. If the expulsion was lifted.
[00:26:47] Julie Bartucca: Wow. Paul Bardell, if you’re out there,
[00:26:50] Tom Breen: this was also, by the way, the same, the same month that the daily’s scampus was published that got the editor expelled.
[00:26:56] Julie Bartucca: Oh, talked about in a previous episode.
[00:26:59] What was the reasoning for that? I don’t remember. What did he do?
[00:27:02] Tom Breen: Well, so the reasoning was at the, uh, the daily scampus that your was pornographic, but he, apparently he had been sort of a thorn in the side of the administration.
[00:27:08] Julie Bartucca: I remember that. Why, I know the major fear of the Russians and Soviets and all that, but why would that be considered worse than a Nazi flag?
[00:27:18]Tom Breen: Â My guess is because the governor was there.
[00:27:20] Julie Bartucca: Gotcha.
[00:27:21] Tom Breen: Yeah. That’s how it,
[00:27:22] Julie Bartucca: That’s a bad look.
[00:27:23] Tom Breen: That is a bad look. Bad look.
[00:27:26] Julie Bartucca: We only care if important people are watching.
[00:27:28] Tom Breen: Yeah, if it’s just studentsÂ in the civil rights march, who cares?
[00:27:31] Ken Best: You also need to recall that it was around the time of the presidential election. Yeah. And, uh, Governor Ribicoff was a huge supporter of John F. Kennedy back then. And, uh, there was, I believe there was talk that he might be part of the administration trying to get elected, all of that kind of stuff. All of these political factors came into effect back then.
[00:27:50] Tom Breen: Famously, also Ribkoff in 1968, the democratic national convention in Chicago from the floor of the convention criticized what he called the Gestapo tactics of the Chicago police department and beating up demonstrators.
[00:28:00] And the mayor responded, uh, with words that I will not repeat, but you can look up and what certainly got him. Expelled from UConn here in 2020
[00:28:10] Julie Bartucca: Maxine?
[00:28:11] Maxine Philavong: Yes.
[00:28:12] Julie Bartucca: Any anything to add to this discussion to add? So I’m curious as you’re are, uh, what are you, are you, are you a gen Z?
[00:28:19] Maxine Philavong: Resident young person?
[00:28:20]Tom Breen: Â Yes. Resident young person.
[00:28:21] Maxine Philavong: I think I’m on the cusp of being a millennial and gen Z cause I was born in 97.
[00:28:26] That makes
[00:28:26] Julie Bartucca: me feel 125.Â So I think your gen Z, you’re close to it. What do you, gen Z is known as being very activist and say, what do you see on campus? Do you think? Anything like that? Those things,
[00:28:39] Maxine Philavong: There wouldn’t be a Nazi flag being flown.
[00:28:42] Julie Bartucca: Obviously.
[00:28:44] Maxine Philavong: There’s a lot of demonstrations for sure. I don’t think anyone’s gotten arrested.
[00:28:47] Julie Bartucca: Which is a good way to be a bad luck for the university.
[00:28:50] Maxine Philavong: Sure.
[00:28:50] Tom Breen: Yeah.
[00:28:51] Julie Bartucca: Hey, Jane Fonda gets arrested all the time. Sometimes it’s, sometimes it helps your cause.
[00:28:55] Maxine Philavong: Sometimes you gotta get arrested.
[00:28:57] Tom Breen: Off campus. Get arrested off campus also. Please don’t hang any Nazi flags.
[00:29:02] Julie Bartucca: Oh my God. No, I don’t think anyone would gather that. That’s what we were saying.
[00:29:06] Maxine Philavong: This is a public service announcement.
[00:29:09] Tom Breen: If you’re out there, if you think you know, it’d be funny.
[00:29:11] Julie Bartucca: Not funny guys,
[00:29:12] Tom Breen: Not funny. Not funny.
[00:29:14] Ken Best: Yeah. Even a sneak peek of the next episode, that’s coming up. We’ll be talking about anti fascism movements in the United States with professor Christopher Vials of the American studies department because he just co-edited a book about that.
[00:29:27] Tom Breen: Maybe by that point, I will have found out if Paul Burdell got reinstated as a student. All right. That’s it for Tom’s history corner. Think we’ve learned a lot. Yeah, we always do. If you want to learn even more, you can follow us on twitter.com at UConn podcast or @Main_Old where I will post a picture of the Soviet flag.
[00:29:46] Apparently there is no picture of the Nazi flag, which is probably for best.
[00:29:48] We don’t need to be posting that.
[00:29:50] Maxine, what do you want folks to know?
[00:29:52] Maxine Philavong: You can follow me on Twitter @MaxinePhilavong.
[00:29:54] Julie Bartucca: You have a new cat.
[00:29:55] I did get a new cat. He’s 21 pounds. He’s bigger than my friend’s four month old niece.
[00:30:06] His name is Senator Jonathan Salami.
[00:30:08] Julie Bartucca:Â Did you rescue him?
[00:30:11] Maxine Philavong: Yeah, we rescued him. He’s five years old. He’s very big. We love him.
[00:30:15] Tom Breen:That’s awesome. Congrats.
[00:30:16] Where did the name come from?
[00:30:18] We made that up. Salami is a good name.
[00:30:20] Julie Bartucca: Senator Salami is a very good name.
[00:30:23]Tom Breen: Â Julie, do you have a new cat?
[00:30:24] Julie Bartucca: I don’t. I’m @JulieBartucca. Nothing exciting is happening over there, but if you feel like following me, go for it.
[00:30:30] Tom Breen: That w wow. What? You’re really, selling it.
[00:30:32] Julie Bartucca: I deleted the Twitter app on my phone the other day.
[00:30:34]Tom Breen: Â Oh, it was probably smart.
[00:30:36] Julie Bartucca: A lot of stress.
[00:30:36] Tom Breen: Probably smart. Yeah. Ken, we know you’re on Twitter 24/7 under, under a variety of alts, but, uh, what else should people know about you?
[00:30:43] Ken Best: But more importantly, the return of good music Saturdays at 3PM onÂ wWHUS 91.7 on your FM dial. Streaming online at WHUS.org. UConn’s Sound Alternative.
[00:30:54] Julie Bartucca: If you like grind core. That’s where to go.
[00:30:58] Ken Best: Well,
[00:30:58] Tom Breen: Do you take requests?
[00:31:00] Ken Best: Tom is always welcome to drop by the studio with the grind core because we follow the philosophy of the late great Duke Ellington.
[00:31:09] There’s two kinds of music. There’s good music. And the other kind.
[00:31:13] Tom Breen: Wise words. I would only bring the good grind core.
[00:31:16] Ken Best: Um, I would expect nothing less.
[00:31:18] Tom Breen: All right, everyone, thanks for listening this week and
[00:31:21] Julie Bartucca: Please come back.
[00:31:22] Tom Breen: Please come back, in a fortnight.
[00:31:28] Julie Bartucca: Ken, don’t hit any buttons today.