Here (pdf) is a rough draft for the official faculty meeting notes for April.

1) Make these public! Given that they are distributed to scores (?) of Ephs, and describe an event that 300+ people were invited to and that is (?) open to the public (or at least to Record reporters?), there is no plausible reason to hide them.

2) By not making them public, Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell just drives more traffic to EphBlog. Thanks! I guess . . .

3) I “worry” that, at some point, there will be a spoof/fake version of these notes which appear to be real but which have been altered for nefarious/pedagogical purposes. Without a public record of the real notes, how can we (or the Record!) know the truth?

4) On admissions:

I don’t like this.

We should accept the best students, those who did well academically in high school and are likely to do well academically at Williams. We reject 100s of AR 1s each year. We should never accept an AR 2 (or 3? or 4?) just because she is a veteran or older or has gone to a community college.

5) On graduate programs:

Meanwhile, President Mandel said that she had been reading the various suggestions she had received with respect to new academic initiatives. A number of those initiatives – twenty-three in all, ranging from the very broad to the quite specific – had come from small groups of faculty working together. Some, she said, would fall into the “teaching and learning bucket,” such as the suggestions both for a formal teaching and learning center and for the more adequate teaching of writing. Other academic initiatives, she said, focused on sustainability, development, and global climate change, with proposals for a graduate program, such as that offered by the Center for Development Economics.

One of the working groups should answer this question: How many graduate programs should Williams offer? This is an important strategic question which smart Ephs should study for 6 months and then report back to us. What is the history of such programs at Williams? How do such programs work at peer schools? What are the precise economics of current programs? And so on. This is an issue which merits the adjective strategic.

It is highly unlikely that the optimal number of graduate programs is two: precisely the number that we currently have!

Odds of this happening? Less than 5%. Williams does not seem equipt to ask, much less answer, such big questions.

My answer: We should drop our two current masters programs: Center for Development Economics and Clark Art. Neither makes any more sense than the old Chemistry Masters which we offered fifty years ago. We should have a laser-like focus on the quality of the undergraduate education we offer. Everything else is a side-show.

What parts of the faculty meeting notes stand out to you?

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Your weekly opportunity to argue about politics . . .

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Will the ABA Reject Due Process?” by former Williams professor KC Johnson.

They left their corporate jobs to write kids’ books in a barn. But a fairy-tale life is hard work” about Ephs Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson.

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I received the email below the break the other day. Basically, it asks alumni to send a note to the current Williams student who uses that alumni’s old SU Box. This is not the first year of the program. I have never participated but I wonder if any EphBlog readers have and what their experience was. I am most interested to hear from an Eph who was on the receiving end of one of these notes.

(more…)

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Last week’s post discussed the readmission process after a medical leave of absence due to mental illness. In the comments, DDF wrote this:

If you were Sandstrom, would you re-admit a student at (medium? high?) risk of suicide?

That brings an equally interesting, yet somehow wholly different question: should Williams admit such a student in the first place?

It’s different, of course, because it’s an admissions committee making the decision vs a smaller, less formal, and less dedicated (it’s not their only job) committee that decides readmission. Last week, we had a whole discussion about what’s in the best interest of the student, and what’s in the best interest of the school, when it comes to readmitting students who have struggled with mental illness. That all comes with the prerequisite, though, that the student told the college about their mental illness (in the form of their application for a medical/psychological leave of absence) and is now relying on the college to make a decision about their readiness to return to Williams.

To get admitted in the first place, however, they had to go through no such process. You don’t have to disclose that you have any sort of disability on your college application (I’m pretty sure that’d be a violation of the ADA). You can choose to, of course, if you want to write an essay about it.

My guess is that students with very impactful physical disabilities or diseases will often choose to do this; if their disability has had a large impact on their lives, the challenges they’ve had to overcome, and the way they see the world, then that is, quite rightly, something they can and should highlight in an essay to set them apart to an admissions committee. The fact that the student is submitting the application means that they believe they will be able to handle college life with their disability; if the admissions committee determines this is the case academically, they will admit the student and will work to provide any accommodations needed for the student’s success.

Mental illnesses theoretically work similarly, in the sense that they don’t have to be disclosed under the ADA, and that once the student is admitted they can get the accommodations they need to succeed.

However, disclosing a mental illness in a college admissions essay is probably a lot rarer–and a lot less “successful,” in the sense that it probably gives college admissions committees more reason to doubt the student’s ability to thrive than convinces them of the student’s tenacity and unique perspective. Should this be the case? If a student comes into the college with a mental illness, should their readiness for college be inherently doubted?

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Williams College Hosts Tour of New Residence Hall

Garfield House One of Two Passive Houses in State

The construction of the new Garfield House, replacing the old one, is complete. This was the rationale for replacing the old Garfield House:

The original Garfield House was built in 1850 and purchased by the college in 1924. In 2016, a nine-person committee convened by the college determined it would be too costly and inefficient to renovate that structure for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the college’s sustainability goals.

This is the nine-person committee’s full report (an interesting read):

https://facilities.williams.edu/files/2016/11/Recommendation-of-the-Committee-MD-edit-1.pdf

The report describes the old Garfield House as being “the least desirable residence hall on campus”.

When it opens, the new Garfield House “will be one of only two residence halls in Massachusetts to meet the energy-efficiency standards of the Passive House Institute US”. Additionally, the new Garfield House “is built to LEED Gold standards and reflects Williams’ commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse emissions”.

 

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From WAMC:

Some residents of Berkshire County plan to argue Tuesday against the installation of an artificial turf.

Tuesday night, the Mt. Greylock School Committee will hold a forum at the public high school to hear comments on a plan to install an artificial turf field.

“The high school after years of an ancient building finally got the town funding and state funding to move forward with the new building project,” said Anne O’Connor. She has been a member of the Williamstown select board for two terms.

“And that building project is essentially complete now but what could not be funded by the state was anything for the outdoor facilities, as well as for housing of the superintendent, the district office,” explained O’Connor.

Williams College stepped in with a $5 million donation to the school to be used however Mt. Greylock sees fit.

I am not a Williamstown resident. I leave it to them to decide how much money to raise in taxes and how to spend it. Williamstown is a richer than average town in a richer than average state. I am sure they will be fine!

But it drives me crazy that Williams College spends millions of dollars on this nonsense. I don’t give money to Williams so that the College can turn around and give money to Williamstown for a turf field, or any other purpose. I give money to Williams to directly improve the quality of the education that the College provides to its students. A new turf field does not do this.

EphBlog Maxim #9: The best way to predict the behavior of Williams is to imagine that the College is run by a cabal of corrupt insiders who seek to use our endowment to better their own lives. Previous discussion here.

Millions of dollars to Mount Greylock does nothing for Williams students. But it might do quite a bit for Maud’s daughter, currently a MGRHS student . . .

The only way to avoid this conflict is to stop shoveling money at local institutions. If the good people of Williamstown want a turf field, then they should tax themselves to pay for it.

How can Maud, or any Williams administrator, possibly be objective when the topic is: How much money should we transfer from the Williams endowment in order to improve the education of our own children? They can’t! The best solution to this dilemma is for Williams, as a matter of policy, not to give dollars to local non-profits. (I have no problem with donations in-kind, like the use of chemistry labs for enrichment classes for local students.)

Recall (from 2003!):

A one-time, $250,000 gift from Williams College given earlier this year is expected to restore 5.2 of the 10.8 teaching positions cut from the fiscal 2004 budget.

There is no such thing as a “one-time” gift from Williams . . .

And to think that I used to complain about 6 figure gifts! How naive I was . . .

Read the whole article, and note the quotes from friend-of-EphBlog Nick Wright ’57.

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EphBlog has been banging the drum for increased international admissions for almost 15 years. (Relevant posts here, here, and here.) Recall EphBlog’s demand/request/prediction a year ago.

Brown is at 11% international. Woo-Hoo! If Mandel moves Williams to 11% (from our current 7%, pdf), she will instantly be a better president than Falk.

Emphasis in the original. And EphBlog gets results! The Williams class of 2023 is 11% international. Comments:

1) Yeah, Maud! This change, along with her affirmation of academic freedom at Williams, make President Mandel a most excellent president, at least according to EphBlog.

2) New Director of Admissions Sulgi Lim ’06 reported this news at the Admissions Open House during alumni week-end. Sadly, Sulgi, unlike her boss, Provost Dukes Love, does not believe in sharing her public presentations with Ephs who are too poor or busy to attend events like this one. Boo!

3) Sulgi described the change as being caused by two factors. Her office was allowed to admit more international applicants than before. And the yield was higher than expected. I do not know the relative importance of the two changes.

4) There are 45 international students (pdf) in class of 2022. (Prior few years were 41, 41, 46, 49 and 37.) Eleven percent of approximately 535 — 550 would be about 58 — 60 students.

5) Key question: Has there been an official change in the Williams quota — oops! I mean “goal” — for international enrollment? I hope so! The best college in the world will be 50% non-US by 2050. The sooner that Williams moves in that direction, the more likely we are to retain our status.

6) Sulgi talked the usual nonsense about the diversity of international admissions, bragging about the 29 (?) countries represented. Nothing wrong with diversity (of course!) but, in general, the applicant from poor country X is not really representative of X. Instead, she is the daughter of country X’s ambassador to England, and has been educated in international schools all her life. (Not that there is anything wrong with country X or ambassadors or England or international schools!) As long as she is academically excellent EphBlog does not care.

7) Unstated by Sulgi, but known to her and to everyone with a clue about international applicants, the central issue is Asia, especially China and the Chinese diaspora. Williams could probably admit 100 English-fluent students with academic credentials — and likely academic performance at Williams — in the top 10% of the class. We should not admit all 100 tomorrow. But we do need a faculty committee to look closely at the issue of international admissions.

UPDATE: For weird technical reasons, I may not be able to post comments at EpHblog for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, I can still update this post. Here are further thoughts on this topic:

> Any reason 50% instead of 70%?

1) I am not overly committed to 50% as a prediction. I am completely committed to increasing the current 11% higher.

2) I still think 50% is a good prediction because a (major?) part of what Williams is selling is a US education. Can you really provide a US education with a 70% international student body? I am not sure. And I expect that Chinese parents would be even less sure . . .

3) I think that 30% is less likely than 50% because I think that a) the morality of having an international quota, like the morality of having a Jewish quota, becomes less tenable over time. It wasn’t just me that has caused the doubling of the international student body at Williams over the last decade or so. Was it? ;-)

4) I think that competitive pressures and a herd mentality come into play. Every time school X becomes more international, it becomes easier/necessary for school Y to become more international. But 50% is still a more reasonable stopping point than 70%, because of 2).

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EphBlog loves it whenever a president tweets about an Eph.

For the second time this summer, Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to label a high-profile woman a “psycho.” Last month it was Bette Midler. On Tuesday, Mika Brzezinski who was targeted, as the president laid into her and her Morning Joe co-host (and new husband), Joe Scarborough.

Trump slammed the real-life couple and MSNBC hosts over their TV ratings, then accused them of spreading “fake news.” He went on to credit the show for helping “get me elected.” He then added a tweet tagging the Fox News show Fox & Friends, which is known for toeing the Trump party line.

Want to argue about politics? This is your weekly chance to do so.

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The “Downside of Diversity” by Anthony Kronman ’68 in the Wall Street Journal.

Former Williams QB takes over as offensive coordinator at Boston College” in the Berkshire Eagle, about Mike Bajakian ’95.

Williamstown Celebrates New Police Station With Ribbon Cutting, Night Out Open House” in iBerkshires.

(more…)

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In last weeks’s post I asked Why give to Williams? This week I wanted to ask the natural follow up question – How much? My answer is, “Not much.” When I was a new graduate, I could not afford to give more than a token amount. And that is exactly what I did for many years. Eventually, my wife finally started to support me in the style in which I deserve, (please forgive this bit of an inside joke – for those who care, I have been a stay-at-home dad for the last 21 years) and I was able to up the amount to $100 annually. My wife now provides my family with a very healthy life style and we try to donate several thousand dollars a year to charities we are involved in or take a special interest in. However, my annual donation to Williams stays at the $100 level (I do up it to $250 during reunion years) because I feel Williams does not need my money. From my perspective, the college’s endowment and big money donors are an adequate source of funds to do anything the school wants to do. It is more rewarding for me to donate to organizations where my gift will have a significant impact on the charities operations over the coming year.

Fendertweed offered a different perspective in a comment on last week’s post “I’ve significantly reduced giving (especially in future plans) because I’ve seen a trend of what I and others think is benign neglect for our chosen area of support at Williams.”

What about you, how much do you give?

Fendertweed – Can you share what specific trends you have seen at the college that has changed your level of giving?
 

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The following letter came to my attention a few days ago, being circulated by current and past students. I think it’s worth examining, not necessarily for the specifics of the letter itself, but because of what it draws attention to–specifically, the complications of taking a mental health leave of absence, and returning. Note that I’m not attaching a link to the letter itself, because it is actually an editable Google Doc that is a petition for this student’s readmission; I’ve also redacted the student’s name, because again, I don’t want this to be about this specific student.

A bit of context, and my thoughts, before the letter after the break:

  1. Leaves of absence, for personal or for medical reasons, can be requested of the Dean’s office by any student. Students must submit a request for readmission to the Dean’s office by certain deadlines in order to be readmitted; for personal leaves, this doesn’t go much beyond approval by the Dean. For medical leaves, it’s a bit trickier; readmission requires submitting proof that whatever medical/psychological condition necessitated the leave of absence was resolved during the leave, including doctors’ letters and an evaluation by someone at the Health Center, and the application is then considered by a committee.
  2. I don’t have much information beyond the letter below, but: Student XXX ostensibly took a medical (psychological) leave of absence. She then applied for readmission to Williams, and was denied by the Deans. She is submitting an appeal, as is her right; in addition to her appeal, two friends drafted the below letter in support of her appeal, and circulated it for students, alumni, and staff to sign.
  3. As someone who took a medical (psychological) leave of absence myself, spending a full year away from Williams, I know just how overwhelming the readmission process can be. Say, for example, a student leaves Williams on a leave of absence because she is having debilitating symptoms of depression and is showing signs of suicidal ideation. She leaves Williams so that she can go home to see a therapist and a psychiatrist regularly, and once she is out of elevated danger, to learn to manage her condition. Obviously, we will want her to display no signs of suicidal ideation in order to be readmitted to Williams. But what does “the condition being resolved or managed successfully” mean? Depression is a lifelong illness that cannot be cured, successful management is tricky, and it’s hard to delineate some brightline that would make knowing when to readmit easy.
  4. I personally sought readmission when I began feeling that staying home was doing me more harm than being at Williams would have, but that’s not exactly a rave review. To the readmission committee, I presented myself as having learned so much about myself during my leave of absence, having stabilized everything on medication, and having no suicidal ideation. In reality, I wasn’t always doing great, and throughout the rest of my time at Williams, there would continue to be moments of crisis, moments where it was difficult to function, and more general periods of despair. But, I reasoned, that’s probably the case for a good third of Williams students at any time; I wasn’t doing so much worse than them, mental health wise, that I didn’t deserve to go back if I decided I was able.
  5. Even if you aren’t a fan of the rhetoric or any other point made in the letter, I would like to call attention to its point number 3: the fact that, during leaves of absence, you cannot stay on the school health insurance. For me, as it seemed to be for XXX, this was a total nightmare; I was already dealing with a debilitating mental health condition, and on top of that I had to figure something totally new out to get health insurance. Given that I was on a medical leave, it seems pretty obvious to me that health insurance is essential to helping students return to Williams, and being uninsured or underinsured is a detriment to that. If I took the medical leave because I knew I couldn’t give Williams my very best and needed time away from the school, then a school that cared about me–cared about me graduating, cared about me being able to do my very best–would ensure that, during that time away I elected to take, I had all the tools I needed to succeed. Instead, I very much felt thrown out and left to fend for myself.

Read more for the letter.

(more…)

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Hello! I’m recent grad. Travel schedules prevented me from posting until now–thank you, David, for covering for me–but from now I’ll be posting on Thursdays. I chose my terribly creative screen name (would you have been able to guess that I just graduated?) because it was the first thing I thought of what seemed relevant when I only planned on making a comment or two. When David said he was going to publish that comment as a post of its own, I was rather pleased, not only because it’s nice to see your own words published publicly, but because mental health, the topic of that comment, is a subject that’s really important to me. I was dismayed, then, when that discussion instead turned to the only off-topic mess that comments here tended to be. I want to have actual, productive discussions about mental health at Williams, and other topics important to me; thus, my joining on in this experiment. That said, if anyone has a username suggestion that’s better than “recent grad,” that’s one off-topic subject I’ll be happy to discuss.

I’m not sure what my “niche” will be here, and suggestions are welcome. That said, one thing I can provide (moreso than other authors, perhaps, except purple and gold–you’re still a student, right?) is some insight into campus culture right now. I’ve graduated, but my Facebook feed and Instagram is still dominated by Williams students, the majority of whom are still students; of course, what I see there is biased by the circles I was in and the things that interested me, but nevertheless, it gives me a glimpse into what’s being talked about that, combined with my own experiences, might be useful. Student perspectives certainly tend to be misrepresented here.

My first real post will be coming tomorrow morning!

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Privacy in the Digital Age

A cool article in the latest issue of the Williams Magazine that discusses how “four alumni are leading efforts to make sure new technologies don’t infringe on our civil and constitutional rights”.

Four Williams alumni are wrestling with these kinds of questions, raising awareness and holding public officials and purveyors of big data accountable. Jameel Jaffer ’94, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, focuses on freedom of speech and of the press in the digital age. Rachel Levinson-Waldman ’95, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, studies issues related to government and law enforcement’s use of surveillance. Andrew Guthrie Ferguson ’94, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, researches predictive policing and whether Fourth Amendment protections include the data on our devices. And Jay Stanley ’89, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), works to uncover emerging technologies that have the potential to prey on personal privacy.

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At the request of an Eph originally identified in a post first published in 2016, I have removed that person’s photograph from the post, and also substituted a redacted version of the document attached to the post so that the name of the person is not included.

EphBlog is generally protective of poster and commenter anonymity.  For what I think are reasonably obvious reasons, EphBlog cannot always allow for anonymity of people mentioned within posts.  However, in this particular case, the original complaint was replaced by an amended complaint which anonymized one of the participants in the events leading to the filing of the complaint.  Accordingly, I thought it was appropriate to remove references to this Eph’s name in the post on EphBlog, as well as their picture.

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The Chronicle of Education reports:

The journal Ethnic and Racial Studies is standing by an article that has proved controversial among sociologists and race scholars. The article, about the Black Lives Matter movement, was peer-reviewed and underwent major revisions before being published, the journal said on Tuesday.

In an open letter (doc) circulating online, Szetela is criticized for ignoring, or misunderstanding, black feminism, among other disciplines.

“We are particularly perturbed by this because of the long history of negation of research by people from marginalized backgrounds as neither rigorous nor empirical research,” says the letter, which was primarily written by Buggs and Rory Kramer, an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Villanova University.

If Rory, a former EphBlog board member, has time to engage in these sorts of intra-progressive wars, he must have received tenure from Villanova. If so, congratulations! I wish I had tenure . . .

Thanks to an anonymous Williams faculty member for the link.

article below the break
(more…)

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Let’s try a new experiment. Each weekend, I will put up a post called “Weekend Links,” including links from All Things Eph, both recent and ancient. Below the break, I will also include long quotations from the links.

The main goal is to provide my co-bloggers with a buffet of topics to choose from, should they wish to do so. Readers may also find the links interesting. And I need to free up some tabs on my browser!

Comments will be turned off so that any discussion about these topics is saved until another blogger chooses to write about them during the week. I don’t want these conversations to start ahead of time.

Here goes!

Oren Cass ’05 on “The Communal Power of a Real Job” in the New York Times.

Anthony Kronman’s ’68 latest book discussed in the New York Times.

(more…)

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This question was inspired by the email from Maud on July 10th informing the community about how the latest capital campaign went. (full email below the break) She cited the stat that nearly 75% of alumni had contributed over the course of the 7 year campaign. I was impressed by this but was curious as to whether or not I should be. I did a quick Google search and found this article. link It has some interesting information, including the fact that Williams ranked 3rd among all schools in the country in terms of percentage of alumni who donate. (The most important fact in the article may be that we beat Amherst!)

In terms of my answer, at first, I thought it was a simple question but as I pondered my response, I realized that it had several important facets. First, Williams had a significant positive impact on me. Not only did the academic environment challenge me and help me grow as a thinker but the people I met shaped my moral and ethical development. Next, I enjoyed my time at Williams immensely! This was true in the classroom, in the dorm room and on the rugby pitch. Also, I like the idea of making some small contribution to the idea of “paying it forward.” Of course, I could point to other issues and memories but most of them could fit into these three broad categories.

What about you? Why do you give to Williams? Or not?

(more…)

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(First off, sorry I didn’t post yesterday! I was traveling. I’m posting today to make up for it.)

Jerry Coyne recently wrote about the “Difference, Power, and Equity” (DPE) course requirement at Williams. Predictably, he used it as an example of excessive “wokeness”. While I still strongly question his motives in continually targeting the College and its students with hyperbolic language, I don’t think there’s much of a point in discussing them. He’s already banned Ephblog on his site and engaged in name-calling, after all. Rather, his blog post on DPE drew the course requirement to my attention and I thought it would be interesting to discuss and debate.

DPE requirements are not unique to Williams. I did some research on schools similar to Williams found that the following institutions all had some variation of the DPE requirement:

– Dartmouth College (Culture and Identity)
– Bowdoin College (Exploring Social Difference)
– Pomona College (Analyzing Difference)
– Colgate University (Communities and Identities)
– Hamilton College (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies)
– Davidson College (Cultural Diversity)

There are probably more, but I was too tired to find them. I was surprised to find that some of the colleges above had such a requirement given that they can lean more conservative, but then again, a college leaning conservative relative to its peers doesn’t mean much. Williams, for example, is more “conservative” than its peer LACs but is liberal as an institution.

I am personally in favor of the DPE requirement. It’s not an extra course that one has to take in addition to others; it can be fulfilled by any course that examines certain themes. This is the list of fall courses that fulfill the requirement. Since we live in an increasingly diverse nation and an increasingly globalized world, it only makes sense that students learn about non-Western cultures, underrepresented voices in academic fields, etc. It’s important to graduate college with an open mind as well as an awareness of the workings and experiences of other communities. What do you think?

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How many children does an average Eph have? My current guess is at least 1.5, and probably more.

Consider a not-so-randomly selected first-year entry from the mid 1980s. Those Ephs are now into their 50s with, presumably, most of their reproduction complete. The entry had 24 students, 12 men and 12 women. It has produced at least 36 children. Three of the women and (I think) three of the men had no offspring. The remaining 18 averaged exactly two children each. Comments:

1) This is a minimum. If I only relied on the Alumni Directory, I would only have found 32 children. One (male) alum, with 4 children, had not recorded any of them in the directory. I may have missed others.

I am especially suspicious of two other male alums with no children listed. I think — opinions welcome! — that male alums are much less likely to be childless than female alums, and that male alums are less likely to have accurate entries in the directory. Or is that an unfair stereotype?

2) Perhaps some (older!) readers could report the data for their own freshmen entries? Although entries are small, they are (very?) random, so just counting all the children from a single entry probably provides a not-unreasonable estimate.

3) Given that I sampled 24 students out of a class of 500, what is the confidence interval for my 1.5 estimate? I probably should have kept track of the 24 individual values and done a bootstrap . . .

4) This is relevant for our discussions about legacy admissions. If 1.5 is accurate then, for the class of 2024, applying this fall, there are 750 or so high school seniors with an Eph parent (and hundreds more with an Eph grandparent). Around 75 of them will become students at Williams. Is is hard to believe that the top 10% of the distribution of Williams children might be academically equivalent to the other 475 members of the class of 2024? Not at all.

5) A rigorous way of exploring this conclusion would be to calculate the expected regression to the mean of children in terms of the academic abilities of their parents. Smart people have smart children, but generally not children as smart as them. So, the average child of an Eph would not be smart enough to get into Williams. But the top 10%? I bet yes. (Readers are welcome to provide their own calculations in the comments.)

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The leadership of Williams was modestly paid back in 1977.

Forty one years later, things are different.

Purpose of this post, updated once a year, is to maintain our history of the Form 990s issued by Williams. (Thanks to John Wilson ’64 for leading the charge on these efforts.)

Form 990 is an IRS requirement filed by all US non-profits. It is a confusing document that has changed significantly over the years. See here for background reading. Williams only provides versions going back to 2009. Future historians will thank us for archiving older versions: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In fact, because Williams occasionally hides things that it once made public, let’s go ahead and save the more recent filings: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The College archives include earlier versions. At some point, we need to scan them. In the meantime, the wonderful Sylvia Brown provided one page (pdf) of the 1977 submission, from which the above screen shot is taken.

Inflation from 1977 to 2018 was a little over 400%. Professor salaries have kept pace. Administrator salaries have exploded.

I will ask the same question I asked Morty Schapiro in 2004.

Grant for the moment that Morty’s $400,000 annual package is fair and appropriate. But, certainly at some point, the President’s salary would be too high. How high is too high? At what point should I, as an alum asked to donate time and money, start to worry that the College is paying its President too much? If I am at this same event five years from now, would there be any problem with the President’s salary being $500k or $800k or $2 million?

If a complete mediocrity like Falk, the worst Williams president since World War II, is being paid $750,000 all-in, where does this trend end?

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  I recently received a brochure outlining some upcoming Williams Alumni trips.  I’ve always been intrigued by these trips, as they always look fun.  The web page lays out the basic contours:

Since 1981, alumni and friends have embarked on outstanding travel-study opportunities led by Williams faculty. Our trips are adventurous, engaging, and most importantly, provide a wonderful way to continue your lifelong learning through the College. We hope you will consider joining us on an upcoming journey.

While I love traveling and have found that many of these trips look pretty interesting, I’ve never pulled the trigger and booked one.  The biggest reason for this is that the trips always seemed pretty expensive, relative to other options.  I don’t know whether that is because the trips are particularly luxurious, or whether the number on non-paying travelers (i.e. hosts and guides) is higher than on other, non-Williams tours, or whether the College makes money off of these trips.  Regardless, they seem very popular, with quite a few of the upcoming trips being sold out.

Has anyone in EphBlog-world been on one of these trips?  Did you like it?  Would you go on another one?

I’ve also wondered how/why the College got into this activity.  Based on the website and the number of trips, it seems to be a pretty big operation.

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How long before a Williams female athlete competes against a transgender athlete? How long before a transgender female competes for Williams? Not too long, I bet.

A transgender woman who competed as a man as recently as last year won an NCAA women’s track national championship on Saturday.

Franklin Pierce University senior Cece Telfer beat the eight-woman field in the Division II women’s 400-meter hurdles by more than a second, with a personal collegiate-best time of 57.53.

Telfer competed against Middlebury runners in 2018. But, back then, she was a man. Does that count or not? Honest question! (Apologies if I am not using pronouns in the appropriate manner.) So, to my knowledge, no transgender female has competed for a NESCAC team and no female NESCAC athlete has competed against a transgender female.

Contrary examples welcome!

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I am one of the authors who volunteered to participate in DDF’s experiment. I was motivated by the idea of making Eph Blog a better place by subtraction. My goal is to post things that are interesting and informative. Also, I enjoy the comment threads when there is a respectful exchange of differing views. Therefore, I will also try to post things that will spark those kind of threads.

A little background on myself: Multiple members of my family also attended Williams and I have already attended my 25th reunion. I loved my time at Williams even though I did not take full advantage of everything it had to offer.

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Nothing more fun than when the President tweets at an Eph:

Tom Friedman is an Eph parent and honorary degree recipient.

This is an opportunity to argue about politics, if you are so inclined . . .

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Got opinions on the new EphBlog format? Let us know in the comments.

1) Basic motivation is that half our readers come to us on mobile phones and the previous format — now more than a decade old — was ill-suited for such viewing. (I had to turn my phone sideways and, with my fingers, expand out the center column. I assume others had similar problems. If not, tell us!)

2) Main thing is to remove all clutter and allow scarce screen space to be filled with text from the most recent posts. This means one column.

3) We are using Twenty Nineteen, a widely used WordPress theme.

4) We hope to fix two things quickly: a) place our traditional cover photo at the top of the page and b) provide a box or menu of some kind on the upper right which would show, perhaps after a click, the most recent comments. For now, you can see all Recent Comments (and other material like Related Posts) by clicking on a post and scrolling to the bottom of it.

5) Suggestions are welcome, both general and technical.

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https://pen.org/press-release/new-well-formulated-campus-free-speech-policy-by-williams-college/

PEN America responded favorably to the committee report at Williams in the press release linked above:

“This is a well-formulated document which offers solid recommendations for future policies and their implementation. We are gratified that our work proved useful to the Committee and hope that these new Williams guidelines provide a solid foundation for the firm defense of free speech and open discourse in the years to come.”

The press release emphasized the importance of prioritizing inclusion along with free speech:

“…we read its report to affirm an unshakeable dedication to precepts of academic freedom and protection for speech, while going beyond that to reflect how these values can be robustly defended in the context of the College’s principled commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion.”

Importantly, PEN America pointed out that it can be beneficial for colleges to form their own policies rather than adopting the policies of other institutions, such as the Chicago Statement:

“We have also recognized the need for institutions to develop their own policies through deliberations that engage students, faculty, administrators, and staff and yield results that enjoy a sense of ownership across the campus community. Williams has modeled such an approach.”

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While cleaning out some old files, I recently came across a copy of my Williams transcript.  Looking at it produced some surprises, and my older son was not very impressed with my grades.  (My arguments about grade inflation did not impress him either.)

One of the items on the transcript was a political science class I took as senior with Prof. Michael MacDonald called Settler Societies. The class was a comparison of the similarities and differences between the conflicts which were then present in Israel, South Africa, and Northern Ireland.  One of my clearest takeaways from the class was how intractable each of the conflicts appeared, and how it seemed as though there was no way for any of them to be “resolved” short of full scale civil war.  Much to my surprise, within 10 years, both the situations in South Africa and Northern Ireland had fundamentally shifted (“solved” is probably not exactly accurate), despite there being no obvious way forward at the time I took the class.  It appears that the class has now morphed into a senior seminar called Identity Politics: Conflicts in Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, & South Africa“.  Here is the course description:

Identities have been either the stakes, or the guise taken by other kinds of conflicts, in Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa for centuries. They have led to, or expressed, political divisions, clashing loyalties, and persistent and sometimes consuming violence. They also have produced attempts by both internal and external actors to resolve the issues. This research seminar will engage the origins of the conflicts and the role of identities in them, the role of disputes about sovereign power in creating and intensifying them, the strategies for reconciling them that are adopted domestically and internationally, the deals that have been struck or have not been struck to bring peace in these societies, and the outcomes of the various efforts in their contemporary politics. The course will begin by reading about both the general theoretical issues raised by conflicts in these “divided societies” and various responses to them. After familiarizing ourselves with what academic and policy literatures have to say about them, we then will read about the histories and contemporary politics in each society. With that as background, students will choose an aspect or aspects of these conflicts as a subject for their individual research.

For some reason, this course has stuck with me through the years, even though it has no professional relevance for me.  Perhaps it was that the subject matter always seemed relevant to current events (and it still does).  Perhaps it was because of Prof. MacDonald’s talents as a teacher.  Probably some combination of both.

What Williams classes still stick out in your mind?

 

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Twitter is blowing up with news that Will Hardy ’10 will be a new assistant coach at the San Antonio Spurs.

The San Antonio Spurs on Monday announced that Will Hardy and Tim Duncan will be added to Gregg Popovich’s bench as assistant coaches.

Hardy first joined the Spurs as a basketball operations intern in 2010 after graduating from Williams College.

“Will Hardy is a talented, young basketball mind who has earned a great deal of respect from everyone in the organization thanks to his knowledge, spirit and personality,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

Oh, yeah. Some other guy also got hired as an assistant coach, but EphBlog doesn’t care about that!

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This (slightly edited) overview by Alastair Roberts (via Steve Sailer) of contrasting modes of discourse gets at some of the problems we have seen at EphBlog over the last 16 years.

In observing the interaction between David Dudley Field ’24 and his critics in the recent debate, I believe that we were witnessing a collision of two radically contrasting modes of discourse. The first mode of discourse, represented by DDF’s critics, is one in which sensitivity, inclusivity, and inoffensiveness are key values, and in which persons and positions are ordinarily closely related. The second mode of discourse, displayed by DDF, is one characterized and enabled by personal detachment from the issues under discussion, involving highly disputational and oppositional forms of rhetoric, scathing satire, and ideological combativeness.

When these two forms of discourse collide they are frequently unable to understand each other and tend to bring out the worst in each other. The first form of discourse seems lacking in rationality and ideological challenge to the second; the second can appear cruel and devoid of sensitivity to the first. To those accustomed to the second mode of discourse, the cries of protest at supposedly offensive statements may appear to be little more than a dirty and underhand ploy intentionally adopted to derail the discussion by those whose ideological position can’t sustain critical challenge. However, these protests are probably less a ploy than the normal functioning of the particular mode of discourse characteristic of that community, often the only mode of discourse that those involved are proficient in.

To those accustomed to the first mode of discourse, the scathing satire and sharp criticism of the second appears to be a vicious and personal attack, driven by a hateful animus, when those who adopt such modes of discourse are typically neither personally hurt nor aiming to cause such hurt. Rather, as this second form of discourse demands personal detachment from issues under discussion, ridicule does not aim to cause hurt, but to up the ante of the debate, exposing the weakness of the response to challenge, pushing opponents to come back with more substantial arguments or betray their lack of convincing support for their position. Within the first form of discourse, if you take offense, you can close down the discourse in your favor; in the second form of discourse, if all you can do is to take offense, you have conceded the argument to your opponent, as offense is not meaningful currency within such discourse.

Read the whole thing. I, obviously, am a second mode Eph.

All Ephs are welcome here, but my basic mode won’t be changing any time soon . . .

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