grad_inflation

Imagine that Professor Kornell wants to do something about this. What advice do you have for him?

Start with transparency. What is the distribution of grades at Williams today? How has it changed over time? How does it vary by department? There is no good reason to keep this a secret, other than shame. Here is the data from 2008–2009. Here is recent data for Middlebury.

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From The Boston Globe:

Several top New England colleges have joined a growing number of schools nationally that no longer require applicants to submit scores from SAT subject tests, saying the specialized exams lend little insight into students’ readiness and can work against low-income and minority students.

In the past year, Amherst College, Dartmouth College, and Williams College all have dropped the subject test requirement, taking a lead from Columbia University, which announced the new policy this spring. Duke University and Vassar College also no longer require the tests, often called SAT II.

Did the College announce this change? Was there campus discussion? Not that I saw. I am indifferent. What do readers think?

“We want to make the application process as fair to all students as possible,” said Mary Dettloff, a spokeswoman for Williams College. “We felt like we weren’t getting any valuable data from the SAT II scores to help us.”

Current Williams requirements here. The easiest way to make the application “fair” would, obviously, to not require any information — no SAT subject tests, no AP scores, no high school grades, no nothing. Just choose applicants randomly! As the mirror on the wall reports, that would be the “fairest application process of them all!”

A handful of elite schools, including Harvard and MIT, still require SAT subject tests. …

Meanwhile, dropping standardized test requirements can help colleges in several other ways. Schools tend to receive more applications, which can drive down their percentage of accepted students, making them seem more selective. Colleges also profit from the additional application fees.

Although many experts believe the tests will eventually disappear, schools like MIT find them useful and have no plans to drop the requirement.

MIT officials see the exams as an equalizer, a way to consistently measure students from different high schools. Harvard officials said the same thing.

The tests are undoubtedly useful, especially in looking at students from out-of-the-way high schools. At Williams, they were probably most used to distinguish among Academic Rating 1s and 2s. (Background here and here.) Key definitions:

      verbal   math   composite SAT II   ACT    AP
AR 1: 770-800 750-800 1520-1600 750-800 35-36 mostly 5s
AR 2: 730-770 720-750 1450-1520 720-770 33-34 4s and 5s
AR 3: 700-730 690-720 1390-1450 690-730 32-33 4s

Recall that most American AR 1s are accepted (and, allegedly, all legacy AR 1s) and many (half?) AR 2s. AR 3s are rejected unless they have a hook. So, this change hurts the student with high SAT II scores relative to her SAT I and AP scores and helps students with the opposite profile. How big is the magnitude of the change? I would be surprised if it changed the students in the class of 2021 by fewer than five students or more than 50.

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Four Williams physics professors signed this absurd letter to the Supreme Court.

Dear Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States,

We are writing to you today as professional physicists and astrophysicists to respond to comments made by Justices in the course of oral arguments of Fisher vs. University of Texas which occurred on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. First, we strongly repudiate the line of questioning from Justice Antonin Scalia based on the discredited Mismatch Theory [1]. Secondly, we are particularly called to address the question from Chief Justice John Roberts about the value of promoting equity and inclusion in our own field, physics.

As always, EphBlog is curious about the backstory. How did Professors Strait, Wooters, Majumder and Doret ’02 end up signing this letter? Why didn’t the other members of the department sign?

More importantly, these professors are in a position to provide data about the mismatch hypothesis, a recurring topic at EphBlog. Consider the students in the class of 2016. Many of them, in the Common Ap, expressed an interest in studying STEM at Williams. Some of them did and some of them did not. Of those students:

1) What percentage of students with math/reading SAT scores above 1500 kept with their plan of studying STEM?

2) What percentage of students with math/reading SAT scores below 1350 kept with their plan of studying STEM?

The Mismatch Hypothesis would suggest that more students in group 1 stayed with STEM than students in group 2. You could examine the same topic by race.

If Professors Strait, Wooters, Majumder and Doret ’02 were interested in increasing our knowledge, they would gather this data for Williams and publish the results. Why won’t they?

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Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.19.40 PM

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/news/2016/aug/20/no-trump-what-greg-walden-should-say/

Keep in mind there is a major difference in politics between Eastern Oregon and Western Oregon. Hood River is in the Cascade Mountains buffer zone between the green and population of Western Oregon and the high desert and ranches of Eastern Oregon. Twenty miles west is Cascade Locks in a temperate rain forest, twenty miles to the east is The Dalles and the start of cowboy boots.

I am amazed and delighted this 2x/week, advertising-dependent print medium took such a stand. What is going on with your local paper?

 

I am reserving the right to edit a post I have made as I see fit. My intent was to point out this newspaper occurrence and to ask if anyone had seen something similar. My intent was not to provide a springboard for the usual suspects to spew forth their usual dismal prose.

There are enough springboards for this type of speech present on the blog. I simply want my observation to stand alone.

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indig

At its monthly meeting Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, the faculty of Brown University amended the Faculty Rules and Regulations to change the designation of the second Monday of October from Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day.

In April 2009, the faculty voted to change the name of Columbus Day to the Fall Weekend holiday after several months of discussion. On Oct. 27, 2015, members of the Native Americans at Brown (NAB) student organization presented a resolution to the Brown University Community Council (BUCC) calling for the name change of the Fall Weekend holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. The BUCC, a University-wide body for discussion and advisory recommendations on issues, passed the resolution urging the Faculty Executive Committee to put the item on its agenda for consideration.

Renaming the holiday, according to the rationale for the motion presented to the faculty, “would recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community.”

1) Is Professor Roberts in favor of this change or making fun of it? (On Twitter, those are the two most common options!)

2) What is Williams policy? Good question! The College still considers Columbus Day an official holiday, at least for staff. Duane Bailey maintains (?) this screen shot from a decade (?) ago which reported that “The College does not have a tradition of celebrating Columbus day.”

3) Should Williams remove any reference to “Columbus Day” for the same reasons that Brown has?

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49049852.cached

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/17/alt-right-rejoices-at-trump-s-steve-bannon-hire.html

… now if Steve Bannon could be convinced to wear a small mustache …

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fashion

The only acceptable prejudices at Williams are against rich people and white people.

What would have been the Administration’s reaction to a tweet by a student which replaced “white” with “black?”

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Sonia Nazario ’82 writes in The New York Times:

Three years ago, Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world. The city of San Pedro Sula had the highest homicide rate in the country. And the Rivera Hernández neighborhood, where 194 people were killed or hacked to death in 2013, had the highest homicide rate in the city. Tens of thousands of young Hondurans traveled to the United States to plead for asylum from the drug gangs’ violence.

Nazario is most famous for arguing that the US ought to have, more or less, open borders. We should provide asylum to anyone fleeing violence. Since almost all poor countries are much more violent than the West, this position amounts to giving everyone from places like Honduras the right to live in the US.

Call me crazy, but I have no interest in allowing millions of people from places like Rivera Hernández to come to my country.

This summer I returned to Rivera Hernández to find a remarkable reduction in violence, much of it thanks to programs funded by the United States that have helped community leaders tackle crime. By treating violence as if it were a communicable disease and changing the environment in which it propagates, the United States has not only helped to make these places safer, but has also reduced the strain on our own country.

First, it is hardly surprising that, if you return three years later to the place that was (then) the most violent spot in the world, you will find a reduction in violence. This is almost a textbook example of regression toward the mean.

Second, all (?) Nazario’s sources have a vested interest in her thesis being true. It’s like writing a report from Iraq in the fall of 2003 and only talking to Neocons! A proper reporter would have talked to more (any?) critics, would have discussed the argument that US dollars are no more likely to make Honduras better off in the long run than similar efforts have worked elsewhere.

But, like all of Nazario’s work, especially Enrique’s Journey, the story-telling sparkles. Read the whole thing.

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From The Economist:

For the first time in decades, America and Europe are now releasing more prisoners than they are locking up. One way to ensure those ex-cons do not wind up back behind bars is to help them find work. But a body of new research suggests one increasingly popular way to promote this has worrying unintended consequences.

Forcing job applicants to declare they have a criminal record—whether or not it is relevant to the post—allows employers to filter out ex-convicts, it is argued, and prevents them finding the sort of work that would help them stay out of prison. So activists across the world have called for “ban-the-box” laws, which prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal histories prior to job interviews or offers.


A paper by Jennifer Doleac [’03] of the University of Virginia and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon, published on August 1st, looked at the impact of introducing ban-the-box policies on labour-market data from America’s population census. It found that withholding criminal-record data from employers encouraged them to treat certain minority groups as if they were more likely to have criminal pasts.

Read the whole thing. Doleac is EphBlog’s favorite (non-Williams-employed) economist. Recall our discussion of her thesis more than 10 years ago.

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sultanFrom The Wall Street Journal:

Here’s an obvious but overlooked truth about athletes at the Olympics: Before anything else, they’re athletes. There are astonishing stories of individual perseverance, and obstacles overcome both personal and political, but at each athlete’s core is an undeniable drive to…well, only a lucky few will win, or medal, but every last one of them wants to do something indelible and memorable that makes the experience worth it. They want to do their absolute best. We like to wrap the Olympics up in all kinds of nationalistic and existential meaning, but for an athlete, doing his or her absolute best is pretty much the point of the whole deal.

A couple weeks ago in New York City, I went to go see Faye Sultan, a Kuwaiti swimmer who was training at Asphalt Green, a nonprofit aquatics center on the Upper East Side. It was early morning, and in the pool with Sultan were a scattering of everyday city residents doing casual laps. Sultan was not doing casual laps. Sultan, who is 21 years old, swims the 50 meter freestyle, which is swimming’s equivalent of the 100 meter dash. It’s into the pool, full gas, done.

Four years ago, Sultan had gone to the London Olympics as smiling teenager representing Kuwait—and a true pioneer, the country’s first female swimmer at the games. Now she was going to Rio, and again she would “represent Kuwaiti girls,” as she put it, but she would not get to represent her country. The International Olympic Committee had banned Kuwait for what it considered the government’s interference in the country’s sports federation. Sultan was given clearance to compete—but she would have to do so under the Olympic flag.

“At the end of the day, my identity doesn’t change,” Sultan said that morning. “I’m still a Kuwaiti swimmer. It’s disheartening to not be able to wear gear that has my country’s flag. In a way, it also strips a little bit of my identity.

Read the whole thing. Congrats to Sultan ’16.

Trivia question: Who was the last Eph to compete in the Summer Olympics?

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Dear Students,

I hope this note finds you well.  Many of you woke up this morning to hear the very sad news of Professor Leslie Brown’s passing.  Although this point in the summer is often a quiet time on campus, I wanted to assure you that there are resources in place for any students who would like some support in processing this loss to our community.  As you know, Rick Spalding has organized a gathering for students who would like to join together for support, reflection and solidarity; this will happen tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at 7 pm in Rice House.
In addition, students are also welcome, as always, to contact any member of the staff of the Dean’s Office, the Davis Center or the Chaplains’ Office for support.  We are all happy to be helpful in any way that we can.
Sincerely,
Dean Sandstrom
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In our on-going efforts to make Williams more transparent, here (pdf) is a 2012 presentation on faculty diversity. A representative chart:

fac_diversity

Comments:

1) Graphs in Excel give me a headache! Please use R, like all the cool kids in the Williams statistics major.

2) I think that “US Minority” includes Asian Americans who are, of course, significantly over-represented among Ph.D. recipients and, I think, on the Williams faculty.

3) What is the latest count of Hispanic professors at Williams? Recall our detective work 11 (!) years ago on the magnificent 14. At that time, we though that these were the only Hispanic faculty at Williams:

Gene Bell-Villada (Romance Languages)
Maria Elena Cepeda (Latino Studies)
Ondine Chavoya (Studio Art)
Joe Cruz (Philosophy and Cognitive Science)
Antonia Foias (Anthropology)
Soledad Fox (Romance Languages)
Berta Jottar (Theater)
Manuel Morales (Biology)
Enrique Peacocke-Lopez (Chemistry)
Ileana Perez Vasquez (Music)
Merida Rua (American Studies and Latino Studies)
Cesar Silva (Math)
Armando Vargas (Comparative Literature)
Carmen Whalen (Latino Studies)

Some of those folks have left. Others have joined. What is the current count?

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In The Economist in June:

Next consider the swelling range of opinion deemed to fall outside civilised discourse. To be sure, some opinions do, and the boundary shifts with time. The trouble now, says Zach Wood, a student at Williams College in Massachusetts, is that many people want to banish views that remain widely held among their compatriots, believing that, on neuralgic topics such as homosexuality, “It’s all said and done.” He runs a campus group that hosts challenging speakers. “Silence does nothing,” he reasons. Two of its invitations—to Suzanne Venker, author of “The War on Men”, and John Derbyshire, a racist provocateur—have recently been rescinded: Ms Venker was disinvited under pressure from other students, Mr Derbyshire by the college’s leadership. Mr Wood has been insulted, ostracised and (he is black) told he has “sold out his race”. Other prominent figures deterred or blocked from addressing university audiences include Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim, and Jason Riley, an African-American journalist who wrote a book called “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks To Succeed”.

Activists are entitled to their protests. But when, as at Williams, they decry counter-arguments as tantamount to violence, they stray into censorship.

I think that censorship is what they want . . .

By the way, calling Derbyshire “a racist provocateur” is sleazy. Most of his opinions (at least the ones Falk found objectionable) are held by a majority of people in, say, China. If most Chinese are “racist” — by the definition that The Economist is currently using — then it ought to start using a more useful definition.

Also, when was the last time that The Economist — easily the most important English language news magazine in the world — mentioned Williams? I can’t recall. But any article that talks so much about us and Yale is probably a net positive for admissions. So, well done Zack!

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Instructions_to_japanese

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 2.55.57 PM

 

At the Hood River, OR railroad station, 9:40 AM. May 13, 1942.

All with Japanese ancestry board for travel to internment camps.

One particular story:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoru_Yasui

On November 16, 2015, President Barack Obama announced that Minoru Yasui would receive a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.[2] The Medal was presented to Lori Yasui in a White House ceremony November 24, 2015.

See also my comment #8 under ‘Hillary’s web of Promises. A touch of harsh reality seems necessary sometimes in these prolonged intellectualized discussions of issues.

 

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Kudos to the Williams library for putting so many senior theses on-line! There is a lot of great stuff here. Start with “Do H-1B Visas Affect Natives’ Wages?” by Michael Navarrete ’16. Highly relevant in the age of Trump.

I am embarrassed to note that some theses are not available. One example is “An analysis of the water quality and its effect on the Williams College Class of ʹ66 Environmental Center” by Stephen Mayfield ’16. Any Williams thesis which is not publicly available causes knowledgeable observers to think that its quality is low and/or that the advisers (Professors Dethier and Thoman) are foolish. Perhaps this is connected to the backward nature of chemistry as an academic field and the debate we had a decade ago but which I can not find a link to?

Should we spend a week browsing through the archive? Recall our previous discussions about excellent senior theses like Doleac ’03, Taylor ’05 and Nurnberg ’09.

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Oren Cass ’05 is not impressed with the Clinton campaign:

When I visited it in early June, Hillary Clinton’s campaign website featured about 30 issue-specific pages focused not on a nation with problems to be solved but on discrete victim groups with wounds to be salved. The site illustrates the Left’s descent into crass identity politics. The federal government is the heaviest of policy equipment, best used sparingly for big jobs; but for Democrats, it has become a courtesy car, always on call to drive chosen constituencies from one point to another. Put me behind the wheel, Clinton seems to promise, and I’ll put you on my route.

Based on an examination of Clinton’s website, “racial justice” is her campaign’s organizing principle. Not only is her racial-justice page the most expansive on the site—longer by half than the entry for the economy—but it also links to nine other sections, including those devoted to criminal-justice reform, LGBT equality, higher education, climate change, and energy. (“African Americans hold only 1.1 percent of energy jobs and receive only 0.01 percent of energy sector profits,” in case you were wondering.)

Wherever racial linkages weaken, gender stands ready to pick up the slack.

Not that there is anything wrong with that!

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Sam Sommers ’97 and Michael Norton ’97 write in the Washington Post:

We asked 417 black and white respondents to assess how big a problem anti-black bias was in America in each decade from the 1950s to the present. We then asked them the same questions about anti-white bias — the extent to which they felt that racism against whites has changed since the 1950s.

Black and white Americans both thought anti-black bias had decreased over the decades. Whites saw that decline as steeper and more dramatic than blacks did, but the general impressions of the trend were similar for both races.

When asked about anti-white bias, though, black and white respondents differed significantly in their views. Black respondents identified virtually no anti-white bias in any decade. White respondents agreed that anti-white bias was not a problem in the 1950s, but reported that bias against whites started climbing in the 1960s and 1970s before rising sharply in the past 30 years.

When asked about the present-day United States, a striking difference emerged. Our average white respondent believed that at the time of our survey in 2011, anti-white bias was an even bigger problem than anti-black bias.

Lots of Trump voters agree.

This perception is fascinating, as it stands in stark contrast to data on almost any outcome that has been assessed.

What a perfectly clueless statement! The outcomes for different groups will be different, even in a world of zero bias, if those groups have genetic and/or cultural differences.

From life expectancy to school discipline to mortgage rejection to police use of force, outcomes for white Americans tend to be — in the aggregate — better than outcomes for black Americans, often substantially so.

And, in all those areas, the outcomes for Asian-Americans are much better than those for white Americans. Would Sommers/Norton argue that this is evidence for a bias against whites? If not, why not? If so, then maybe those white respondents are on to something!

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Sad news (via Yik Yak) that Professor Leslie Brown passed away on Friday.

Condolences to all.

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From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Dear Mr. Wood,

While I am not interested in an extended dialogue with the National Association of Scholars regarding matters at Williams College, I am prepared to give a brief response to your question about John Derbyshire’s canceled appearance here. To that end, please see his opinion piece “The Talk: Non-Black Version.” This article was considered so racist by the National Review (no bastion of left-wing orthodoxy, I assure you) that upon its publication the editors severed their association with Derbyshire and refused him further access to their pages. Typical of its content is the following excerpt, in the form of advice to “nonblack” children:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

As for Derbyshire’s views on white supremacy, I would point you to the following passage that appeared on the website VDare:

“Leaving aside the intended malice, I actually think ‘White Supremacist’ is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group.”

Frankly, this is the kind of material I would expect to see distributed by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Derbyshire’s rhetoric, as typified in these passages, isn’t the explication of provocative, challenging or contrary ideas. To speak to what I’m sure is a particular concern of the National Association of Scholars, his work on race isn’t remotely scholarly. Derbyshire simply provokes. His racist bile would have added nothing to the complicated and challenging conversations occurring every day on our campus, across a wide range of ideologies and experiences. No educational purpose of any kind would have been served by his appearance at Williams.

I hope this clarifies matters.

Yours,

Adam Falk

Related article and discussion here.

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A central service of EphBlog is to provide guidance on who/what to root for in various disputes. Our rule: Favor the Eph! Consider the issue of The Justice League (DC Comics) versus The Avengers (Marvel). The closest Williams connections we can find is Zack Snyder (son of Ed Snyder ’58), director of Batman versus Superman.

Yet the director has long had roots in Berkshire County.

His mother, Marsha, was originally from Pittsfield, while his father, Ed, was a Williams College graduate. While the family moved around for years from areas ranging from New Jersey to Texas to Connecticut, the Snyders eventually settled back down in Pittsfield, where Zack would visit as an adult.

Throughout it all, Ed Snyder said, his son was always interested in film. Even as early as the sixth grade, Zack would buy “Star Wars” and army action figures as stop-motion test subjects for his 8 millimeter camera.

“[Zack] would paint sets in the background of the garage, and he would take a shot by setting up all of these figures. It would be one frame, and take another frame, and move it a little bit,” Ed recalled. “At the end of 2 1/2 months, it would probably watch a 10- to 15-minute movie.”

Are they any other Eph connections to these movies?

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The College can not be trusted to maintain public copies of the reports it has made public in the past. So, the responsibility falls to EphBlog. You are welcome, future historians! Below are the most important reports regarding the failed implementation of Neighborhood Housing. There were two interim reports (part I and II) and two final reports (part I and II). The reports were written by the Neighborhood Review Committee in 2009-2010. We provided extensive discussion back in the day. Perhaps the part that is most relevant is the discussion of sophomore housing.

The best part of the Final Report (pdf) from the Neighborhood Review Committee (NRC) is its praise of sophomore housing.

It is striking to note that just over 70% of the first-year respondents believe that the College should offer sophomores the option of living in designated sophomore housing. … The committee concluded that the sophomore housing option is worthy of further study.

Read the whole thing. As best I can tell, the Committee was pro-sophomore housing but with a non-trivial minority against. Yet the central flaw of the Report in this regard was its complete failure to describe and analyze the history of sophomore housing at Williams, at least since 1990. (Useful references here and here.) Short version: Sophomores decided, on their own, that they wanted to live together in Mission. A large majority of sophomores preferred living in housing that was 90% sophomores. They achieved this goal in the early 1990s by trading their picks. Free agency arrived in 1994 and made the process more simple/fair/transparent.

Recommendation: Allow the sophomores to live together in the Berkshire Quad. The Kane Housing Plan (pdf) provides all the necessary details.

As true today as it was five years ago. The College only took a decade to realize that we were right about neighborhood housing. We knew it would be a failure and it was. How long until they come to see the benefits of sophomore housing and other changes?

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mellon

Background info:

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) and the Allison Davis Research Fellowship (ADRF) work to increase racial and socio-economic diversity in higher education by preparing students from underrepresented groups for academic careers.

Both the MMUF and the ADRF fellowships provide opportunities for faculty-mentored research, preparation for graduate school, and individualized support from the Office of Special Academic Programs.

The more summer research opportunities that the College provides for its students, the better. Summer in Williamstown is magical! Here is a picture of (last summer’s?) fellows:

fellows

Is this program one of those no-Asians-nor-whites need apply?

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From The New York Times:

Trump’s acceptance of the nomination tonight reflects the capitulation of the venerable Republican Party, which has proved unable to protect either its traditions or its principles.

“There has never been a major-party nominee quite like Trump; no party has gone over the edge in the way the Republicans are about to,” Mason Williams, a professor of history at Williams College, wrote by email:

Constraints that would have prevented the nomination of a candidate like Trump have been removed — by party and ideological polarization; by the weakening of the political parties as organizations; and by the fact that primary voters, rather than party bosses or even more ideologically oriented party activists, now have the power to choose the Republican nominee. In the past, party organizations were strong enough to filter out contenders as aberrant as Trump. Evidently, no longer.”

Hmmm. I am not sure what Williams means here by “over the edge.” Trump’s chances at this stage of the race are about as good as McCain’s and Romney’s at the same stage as their failed campaigns.

odds

I would gladly wager that Trump does better than they did, whether or not he actually wins.

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crushing

EphBlog veteran Rory Kramer ’03 argues that Ghazala Khan is crushing Trump. Maybe! Do our readers agree?

The contrary case is that Trump wants to be President and he knows that the best way to win the election is to keep the issue of Muslim immigration front and center. Mr. and Mrs. Khan believe that Muslim immigration makes American stronger and that we should allow millions of immigrants (like them) to come to America from countries like Pakistan. Hillary Clinton agrees, I assume.

Trump thinks that, if the election is fought over the question “What is the optimal amount of immigration from countries like Pakistan?” he wins in a landslide. Is he wrong?

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Let’s spend five days reviewing Professor Michael Lewis’s surprisingly sharp attack on President Falk concerning the banning of John Derbyshire from Williams. Today is Day 5.

Here’s where Uncomfortable Learning comes in. Having recognized that there is a growing uniformity of thought here (and elsewhere), its leaders invested a great deal of effort in bringing to the College points of view that typically go unheard. Twice their events have been canceled events. Perhaps Hopkins Hall can save them the trouble by showing them the blacklist of speakers who are persona non grata. And, while they’re at it, they might explain why it was a dreadful thing to have a blacklist in 1952 but it is morally correct in 2016.

Of course it isn’t called a blacklist. It is a symptom of the fundamental dishonesty of this day that we hesitate to call things by their right names. Back in the 1930s, that age of international fascism, the Louisiana populist Huey Long was asked if he thought fascism could ever succeed in the United States. “Sure,” he replied, “just so long as they call it anti-fascism.”

1) “events have been canceled events” Don’t the Record editors even read these articles?

2) The blacklist of 1952 was horrible because it targeted people on the left. Those are the good guys, as every Williams student is taught. The blacklistees of today — people like Venker and Derbyshire — are of the right. They are evil and should not be heard. At least, that is how Adam Falk sees it.

Again, I can’t recall a Williams faculty member even being so publicly critical of a Williams president. The question now, however, is: Will Professor Lewis and other faculty fight for free speech and open debate on the Williams campus?

I have my doubts. Lewis is a busy guy with many interests. Does he even live in Williamstown? Is he really willing to engage in the local faculty/student politics that taking Falk would require? I hope so! And EphBlog has some suggestions for when the fight begins . . .

Uncomfortable Learning is now in a stronger position than ever because now the College must decide, ahead of time, which speakers it is going to ban.

Imagine that UL leaders want to make life tough for Adam Falk. All they need to do is ask him (or the “Assistant Director for Student Organizations & Involvement in the Office of Student Life”) if they may invite person X to Williams. That is what the policy requires of them. They don’t have to — in fact, they are not allowed to! — invite person X before getting this permission. But this procedure (permission first, invitation second) means that they can endlessly torture Adam Falk by asking for permission for speakers that span the continuum from John Derbyshire on leftward.

The College is then trapped. Either they allow Uncomfortable Learning to develop a long list of all the speakers that Williams has banned (imagine the Washington Post article that would come out of the leaking of this list!) or they have to draw the line at Derbyshire and allow just about everyone else in. With luck, they will be smart enough to choose Door #2.

Does Uncomfortable Learning have the necessary student leadership to take advantage of this opportunity?

Professor Michael Lewis could do this as well. He could, easily, send an e-mail to Falk asking if it is OK for him to invite Jared Taylor or Richard Spencer or Milo Yiannopoulos or Ann Coulter or Charles Johnson or . . .

Either Falk says “No” and we crucify him on a cross of open debate or he says “Yes” and the problem is solved.

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Let’s spend five days reviewing Professor Michael Lewis’s surprisingly sharp attack on President Falk concerning the banning of John Derbyshire from Williams. Today is Day 4.

Homogenous intellectual environments are not good at responding to new factors or conditions, as I learned from my own college experience. I went to Haverford, a Quaker college known for its extraordinary moral probity (with the country’s most rigorous honor code). I was there during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, throughout which time, in all my courses in political science, history and economics, I never heard the slightest suggestion that mighty shifts in American public opinion were underway that would lead to the Ronald Reagan landslide of 1980. My professors probably were unaware of their omission. But by being unable to give students a fair and well-informed summary of the basic tenets of the Reagan platform, other than a mocking caricature of it, Haverford failed in its duty to prepare its students for American life.

Something similar seems to be happening today with Donald Trump. We may write him off as a laughable neo-Napoleonic carbuncle, but if a sizable portion of the American population thinks otherwise, then our students need to hear the most articulate case for Trump – and hear it here, without having to drive to Renee’s Diner in North Adams. And if they cannot hear it from their professors, then they ought to be able to hear it regularly from outside speakers.

“[L]aughable neo-Napoleonic carbuncle” is great writing!

Recall that Lewis was writing in February. The case for Williams students being exposed to “the most articulate case for Trump” is even stronger now, obviously.

Is Lewis suggesting that his Williams colleagues in political science — like EphBlog favorites Sam Crane, James McAllister, Justin Crowe ’03 and Cheryl Shanks — can’t (or won’t) give the best case for Trump in their classes? If so, he should come right out and say it. That has never been EphBlog’s position. The problem is not that Williams faculty can’t teach or that their classroom teaching is biased. The problem is that the collection of speakers that Williams has invited to campus over the last few years includes exactly zero conservatives/libertarians/Republicans/Trumpians.

John Derbyshire, by the way, was one of the first Trump supporters among the chattering classes, back in July 2015. If Williams had more speakers like him than students/faculty/Falk would have been less surprised by the rise of Trump.

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Let’s spend five days reviewing Professor Michael Lewis’s surprisingly sharp attack on President Falk concerning the banning of John Derbyshire from Williams. Today is Day 3.

All this takes place against the background of a college that proclaims, ceaselessly and fervently, its commitment to diversity. But, as defined at the College, diversity seems to mean embracing the full variety of individual human differences – except for ideas and opinions. Here is why the Derbyshire and Venker incidents are so alarming. The College is fast approaching a state where the genuine exchange of serious ideas – in open public debate, with good will and mutual respect – is made impossible because a growing number of opinions are considered out of bounds. As Mary Detloff, the College’s director of media relations told The Berkshire Eagle, Derbyshire’s views on race, women’s rights, gay rights and sexual harassment render him “unsuited to discussions at Williams College.” Of course, once everyone’s views are homogenous, it’s hard to imagine what would be left to discuss.

Indeed. Lewis is exactly right about the danger and about the direction in which the College might go, might even be going right now. Recall the student who reported that although he supported Trump, he didn’t want to tell people that for (reasonable!) fear as to what that would do to his “social standing.” That seems like a problem to me! If the Williams student community chooses to ostracize someone merely because he will be voting for Trump, then honest discussion and debate becomes impossible.

But Michael Lewis, tenured member of the Williams faculty, is in a good position to do something about this! He could invite a series of speakers that agree with Trump (if not Derbyshire) on a variety of issues, thereby expanding the range of acceptable opinion on the Williams campus. If several Trump-supporters were to speak this fall, students who also support Trump would be less likely to be ostracized and more likely to speak out.

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Let’s spend five days reviewing Professor Michael Lewis’s surprisingly sharp attack on President Falk concerning the banning of John Derbyshire from Williams. Today is Day 2.

The excuse is the familiar platitude that “there’s a line somewhere” that divides free speech from hate speech. And speech that crosses this line must be squelched, even at the point of covering the ears of the listeners. But the notion that there is a line between free speech and hate speech is a curious one. Free speech is a principle that you can define in absolute terms. Hate speech is an accusation – frequently a moving one – which doesn’t lend itself to the drawing of neat lines. The only stable definition for hate speech is speech that makes someone hate you.

Isn’t that exactly backward? At Williams, and places like it, hate speech is not “speech that makes someone hate you.” Hate speech is speech that you hate. Perhaps I am confused by what a “stable” definition is? Perhaps I am defining hate speech descriptively — meaning a definition that an outsider could apply to Williams and use to predict what speech the community would define as “hate” — while Lewis is being more prescriptive, trying to come up with a new definition which we might all agree on and then use going forward.

You don’t have to agree with Derbyshire to believe that the College did something wrong in forbidding him from speaking here. Administrators can make blunders, but this isn’t a blunder; rather, it’s part of a larger and ominous pattern. Last October, the same students who invited Derbyshire were pressured into rescinding their invitation to Suzanne Venker. This itch to censor is not even limited to the present. Right now, a committee is tracking down “potentially problematic” historical art on campus. Its mission is encapsulated in a remarkable leading question (a question so artfully constructed as to yield but one answer): “What should be done about historical images that portray the College as less welcoming than we are or aspire to be?” Framed that way, it’s hardly a surprise that the mural in the Log depicting Chief Hendrick – the Mohawk ally of Ephraim Williams – has been found objectionable and whisked behind plywood.

Lewis was much too pessimistic with regard to the mural. Williams (and Falk, to his credit) has decided to keep the mural at The Log. Is Lewis also wrong about the “larger and ominous pattern?” I hope so! Certainly, across higher education, there is a move to greater censorship, especially of “conservative” views. But Williams has always been more mainstream than other elite liberal arts colleges and so, one hopes, less likely to slide down the censorship slope. Remove the Venker rescission (which was truly the decision/fault of the students who invited her) and the mural controversy, and the pattern becomes the single instance involving Derbyshire. Perhaps things are less dire than Lewis makes them out to be?

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Let’s spend five days reviewing Professor Michael Lewis’s surprisingly sharp attack on President Falk concerning the banning of John Derbyshire from Williams. Today is Day 1.

The title (chosen by Lewis?) of this Record op-ed is “A new blacklist: How the disinvitation of John Derbyshire reveals a troubling pattern of censorship on campus.” I can not recall a harsher public criticism of a Williams president by a Williams faculty member. Can anyone?

No one who really believes in free speech ever says, “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard,” as our College’s president did last Thursday in a campus-wide email. If you believe in free speech, you simply practice it, which means going through your life listening to a good deal of cant, nonsense and occasional sheer vileness. One can always walk away; this is what it means to be an adult. But when someone sings a song of praise for free speech, you can reckon with mathematical certainty that there is a but circling in a holding pattern overhead, waiting to drop. It didn’t take long. President Falk’s paean to free speech ended with the inevitable: but John Derbyshire is not free to speak here.

I could not agree more. However, this being EphBlog, let’s engage in some small-minded editing suggestions. First, the “but” in “but circling” definitely needed quotation marks. Otherwise it reads too similar to “butt circling.” Second, planes don’t “drop” from a holding pattern, they “land” from one. Bombs drop but, when they do, they come from planes, not from holding patterns. Third, it is interesting to look at the Google search for Falk’s phrase. Turns out that no one has ever said this exact phrase before, which is not a critique of Lewis since he was obviously referring to sentiments like this in general.

But the uniqueness of the phrase makes it easier for us to find all the other critiques of Falk, like this one from Ken White at Popehat and this from Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy. Lots of excellent material to get us through the dog days of August!

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natemergency

Most (70%? 90%?) Ephs would probably agree with Jon Lovett ’04 that Trump would make a very bad president. But who is the most pro-Trump Eph (other than your humble author, of course)?

Andy Grewal ’02, a law school professor, liked Trump’s speech.

gewal

By the way, if you don’t follow Grewal’s twitter feed, you should.grewal

Hah!

But I have not see Grewal endorse Trump. (Yet?) Oren Cass is a proud member of #NeverTrump but he at least recommends that conservatives not destroy themselves over the issue.

Can you ever again support Ayotte or Jindal, given that they are Trump supporters? If not, how about someone who does support them—how far does toxicity spread? And if you declare support for Trump not just incorrect but wrong, then aren’t the protestors shutting down his rallies on the side of justice? If supporting Clinton is wrong, are you prepared to go to bat for The Donald no matter what he says about her?

Disagreement is healthy. It sharpens and strengthens and teaches. Condemnation we should use only with extreme care. By all means, condemn the candidates; they are accountable for themselves. But spare those forced to grapple with the same terrible choice as you. For some, the balance tilts another way.

Mike Needham ’04 has said many kind and insightful things about Trump and, to an even greater extent, Trump’s supporters, but I don’t think he has formally endorsed anyone. I still hope for him to be the Chief of Staff in a Trump Administration.

What other Ephs are (publicly) pro-Trump?

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