Is there an Eph connection to debate which will roil the country for the next month? Not that I can find, beyond this Michael Beschloss ’77 tweet.

1) Justice Ginsberg had 100+ clerks during her judicial career. Were any Ephs?

2) There are no Ephs (that I can see) on President Trump’s list of possible nominees. Are there any who are Eph adjacent — Eph parent, Eph child, et cetera?

3) Which Eph will play the biggest role in the debate to come? Maybe Senator Chris Murphy ’96? I doubt that we will descend to fisticuffs on the Senate floor but, if we do, I bet that Murphy will more than hold his own . . .

UDPATE: Commentary from Andy Grewal ’02:

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The leading public intellectual on the Williams faculty, political science Professor Darel Paul, takes on antiracism in First Things. Let’s spend three days on the details. When will Woke Williams come for Paul?

Professor Paul concludes:

Since the 1960s, America’s elite has legitimized its status on the grounds of superior merit demonstrated through success in elite schools, elite universities, elite corporations, and elite professions. Yet the goodness of meritocracy lies not in its members’ SAT scores but in the degree to which the talents of the talented are harnessed for the common good. On this measure, American meritocrats’ track record is poor indeed. They lead, govern, manage, and mold a country that is increasingly rancorous, divided, and decadent. Their policy prescriptions respond little if at all to changing contexts. Twenty years ago, columnist David Brooks observed that America’s “organization kids,” the country’s elites-in-formation, seemed to lack a moral gravity, an interest in virtue, a project of character. This spiritual v­acuum helps explain why a class whose power and prestige are founded on claims to expertise has embraced a faith so threadbare in both logic and evidence. Everything from the popularity of the New York Times’s 1619 Project, to the toleration (and often support) of iconoclastic mobs, to the 1.6 million total sold copies of White Fragility shows the death of elite moral self-confidence. They no longer believe in their history, their institutions, their culture, or themselves.

Antiracists reply that this elite malaise is well-earned. At least here, we can agree. Yet antiracism offers no positive response to this illegitimacy. Rather than solve problems, antiracism proposes to aggravate them by defunding the police, abolishing prisons, and legalizing drugs and prostitution. Rather than bind the country’s wounds, antiracism inflames them through racialism. In place of a common moral project, antiracism proposes the glove of moral relativism over the fist of Ibram Kendi’s federal Department of Antiracism—

comprised of formally trained experts on racism . . . empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.

America not only needs better than antiracist “equity.” It deserves better. It deserves a project of transcendence, of moral and material uplift based on neither racist nor antiracist but non-racialist values, which elevate the human spirit and human society. Beauty, Goodness, and Truth presume a distinction between the higher and the lower. They instruct us to reach for the higher and promise us both individual and collective fulfillment when we do. Rather than destroy norms and standards, we should embrace authoritative values and distribute them widely. All should be able to enjoy beauty in public spaces. All should be able to support a family with dignity and contribute to a community through productive labor. All should have the right to discover what is true through education, an edifying media, and strong religious and fraternal institutions. An elite that brought America such goods would be one worthy of the name.

I would pay big money to watch Paul debate any Woke member of the Williams faculty, but especially an intellectual (?) like Joy James. Call up Pay-Per-View!

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The leading public intellectual on the Williams faculty, political science Professor Darel Paul, takes on antiracism in First Things. Let’s spend three days on the details. When will Woke Williams come for Paul?

Continuing his evisceration of the arguments (?) of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist, Paul writes:

Kendi condemns “any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.” Equal esteem is his true “policy” goal.

Kendi’s embrace of intersectionality extends “antiracist” sentiment to color, ethnicity, class, sex, sexuality, and gender identity. This extension forces him into any number of howlers. To be antiracist requires one to see as sexist “notions of men as more naturally dangerous than women” and to accept that “men can authentically perform femininity as effectively as women can authentically perform masculinity.” On matters of crime, Kendi is particularly militant in his relativism. He laments that

people steer away from and stigmatize Black neighborhoods as crime-ridden streets where you might have your wallet stolen. But they aspire to move into up-scale White neighborhoods, home to white-collar criminals and “banksters” . . . who might steal your life savings.

He marvels that

Black people seemed to be more worried about other Black people killing them in drug wars or robberies by the thousands each year than about the cancers, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases killing them by the hundreds of thousands each year.

To teach standard English in schools, to speak of an academic achievement gap, to promote marriage over single parenthood, and to speak of assimilation is necessarily intertwined with judgment, and thus by Kendi’s lights inherently racist. To suggest that any group makes any independent contribution to its own successes and failures threatens the antiracist edifice and thus is placed under taboo.

What would happen to a junior faculty members at Williams who mentioned the (true!) fact that the average SAT scores for Asian-Americans at Williams is more than 200 points higher than the average SAT for Afican-Americans?

Kendi hopes to comfort the afflicted by afflicting those he deems comfortable. In December 2019, New York Times columnist Bret ­Stephens published a controversial op-ed suggesting that some combination of culture, history, and perhaps even genes accounts for the remarkable track record of “Jewish brilliance.” Kendi offered a vicious response. He condemned, by tweet, “Bret’s bigoted op-ed that places Jews at the top of an intellectual hierarchy” and further suggested that any attempt to measure and rank intelligence was genocidal. But consider the alternative, antiracist explanation of Jewish success in America: If “internal” or “cultural” qualities are forbidden from playing any role because all “racial groups are equals,” then the cause can be nothing other than Jewish political power and economic exploitation through racial capitalism. If Jews as a group are no more intelligent or creative or hardworking than any other group, they must instead be masters of “­racist power.” Ponder that “antiracist” teaching.

Antiracists are racialists. They believe that race is the prime matter of human society, the font of social and political identity, and the origin of political struggle. Their belief in the centrality of race dedicates them to heightening racial identity and urging that every social interaction be viewed first and foremost through the lens of race. Antiracists are particularly concerned to convince whites, far and away the least race-conscious group in ­America, to understand themselves racially. The ubiquity of antiracist terminology and slang today—“whiteness,” “white privilege,” “white supremacy,” “white nationalism,” “white fragility,” “white tears,” even “Karen” as a racial slur—shows that they are succeeding.

Though white Americans in general have not embraced this assigned identity, liberal white Americans and the educational, corporate, governmental, media, social, and cultural institutions they control certainly have. It is ironic to see a group that throughout the Obama years praised itself for its enlightened post-racial attitudes now embracing racialism. It is even more ironic to see liberal white managers and professionals marching under the banner of racial equity, a spectacle of the rich condemning riches and the powerful condemning power. More, it is the spectacle of a social class denouncing its own defining class norms and values, habits and modes of thought, as the oppressive culture of “whiteness.”

Indeed. Any forecasts for what changes this movement will bring to Williams?

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The leading public intellectual on the Williams faculty, political science Professor Darel Paul, takes on antiracism in First Things. Let’s spend three days on the details. When will Woke Williams come for Paul?

Paul starts:

Having fallen away from both Christianity and American civil religion, liberals in the United States are looking for something to believe in. The death of George Floyd on May 25 occasioned a religious awakening. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Americans took to the streets by the tens and hundreds of thousands to demand police reform and more. They painted “Black Lives Matter” on city streets and blanketed neighborhoods with BLM yard signs. Universities issued statements of solidarity with Black Lives Matter and pledged anew to “do the work” of racial justice. The country’s leading newspapers and magazines purged dissenters and even those who tolerated the dissent of others. “Antiracism” became liberal America’s new fighting faith.

Indeed, and no less so at Williams. Or perhaps Williams is less woke than places like Amherst. Opinions? And, if so, do we attribute that more to institutional history — Williams has always been more “conservative” than peer schools — or do the great (wo)man theory of history: Maud is less woke that Biddy Martin? There is a great (and offensive!) blog post to be written on that comparison. Who will write it?

Many have compared antiracism to religion. This is not just an analogy. Antiracism has its own mythology, professions of belief, liturgies of purgation, and promises of redemption. Since it is a political religion, the redemption it promises is this-worldly and accomplished through the state. It entails strict equality of material and social outcomes across racial groups. Yet its instruments are race consciousness, racialized spaces on campus, preferential funding of public schools by race, racial hiring quotas, a Black New Deal, and the elimination of universal norms and standards. Colorblind policies, assimilation to middle-class values, and “not racist” personal beliefs are proscribed. Americans could be forgiven for confusing antiracism with racism itself.

Through its short and turbulent fame, antiracism has already caused considerable harm. Its moral imagination is stunted. Its sense of justice is racialist and divisive. Its policies are recklessly utopian. Americans need better, and deserve better, than antiracism.

Incipient antiracism tried to destroy Storytime at Williams and may be in the process of ruining the JA/entryway system.

The first precept of antiracism is that “racial groups are equals and none needs developing.” This is not a socioeconomic observation. Some racial groups are indeed wealthier, healthier, more educated—in short, more “developed”—than others. One may be tempted to read Kendi here as simply asserting a common humanity. That would be a grave misreading. The heart of antiracism is multiculturalist relativism fused with racialism. Kendi’s real meaning here is that every race is culturally equal, for “to be antiracist is to reject cultural standards and level cultural difference.” Yet if every ­race-culture is equal to every other race-culture, why are the races—which Kendi also calls “racialized cultural groups”—materially and socially unequal? Enter the second precept of antiracism (best stated in Kendi’s earlier volume, Stamped From the Beginning): “Racial discrimination is the sole cause of racial disparities in this country and in the world at large.” Kendi does not even try to prove this claim. Why would he? Though expressed as a sociological observation, it is in fact a dogmatic assertion introduced to save Kendi’s racialized multiculturalism from untoward conclusions. If the Light of Truth (race equity) cannot shine in the world, some Cloud of Darkness (“racist ­power”) must be obscuring it. QED.

Kendi asserts that these six “races” are hierarchically organized in America, with whites on top. He freely uses terms such as “White power,” claims that “the American body is the White body,” and insists that in America “it is a racial crime to be yourself if you are not White.” Yet he never offers a moment of careful sifting and ­weighing of racial hierarchy in America. His evidence, such as it is, consists of simple descriptive data and citations of cherry-­picked studies. Kendi’s reader is never told that Asians as a whole surpass non-Hispanic whites on any number of socio-economic measures. They enjoy the highest incomes, the most educational attainment, the best health, the most stable families, the lowest arrest and incarceration rates. Nor would the reader appreciate the significant internal diversity within each “race,” precisely along lines of inequality. This is true even within Kendi’s own racial group. Today, some one in five black Americans are not the descendants of American slaves, and income inequality among blacks far exceeds that among non-Hispanic whites.

You can be certain that way more than 1/5 Black students at Williams are not the descendants of American slaves. There is an amazing Record article to be written on that topic! I bet that a majority, even the vast majority, of Black students at Williams do not have two parents descended from American slaves.

UPDATE: A reader sends in these links to two excellent New York Times articles on the topic.

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Williams is #1 in the US News ranking, for the 18th year in a row. From Yahoo News: “Princeton, Williams Top 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings.”

Every time that we appear in a headline like this (with Princeton!), the better for our brand. (And if you find that notion of the College’s “brand” to be distasteful, you are a child. Parents will not pay a quarter million dollars $300,000 for something with a less-than-amazing reputation.)

1) We did a detailed dive into the rankings four years ago. Should we revisit? If so, I would need someone to send me the underlying data. See here and here for previous discussions.

2) Kudos to Maud Mandel, and the rest of the Williams administration. Maintaining the #1 ranking is important, especially for recruiting students who are less rich, less well-educated and less American. There is no better way to get a poor (but really smart) kid from Los Angeles (or Singapore) to consider Williams than to highlight that we are the best college in the country.

3) Many schools do a lot of suspect/sleazy things to improve their rank. Does Williams? Morty, infamously, capped discussion class size at 19 to ensure that the maximum number of classes met this (arbitrary!) US News cut-off.

4) There is a great senior thesis to be written about the rankings, similar to this article on the US News law school rankings. If you write such a thesis, hundreds of people around the country will read it. UPDATE: Consider these excellent senior theses on related topics: Nurnberg ’09 and Hamdan ’19 (pdf).

5) Any comments on changes in the rankings below us?

6) There seems to be one change of note:

Ranked test-blind schools. Schools that do not make use of SAT or ACT scores in their admissions process are now included in the rankings, having previously been listed as unranked. While schools still widely accept SAT and ACT scores from applicants, a number of schools have either temporarily or indefinitely discontinued accepting these scores.

We talked about this sleaze in the context of Chicago two years. College drop test requirements for two reasons. First, stupid people think that test scores aren’t helpful in predicting college success. Second, smart people know that they are helpful, but feel excessively restricted in what they want to do by test score criteria. US News held the line for many years and punished schools who went down this road. They have now given up, probably for a mix of reasons, both ideological and monetary.

7) Below the break is a copy of the methodology, saved for the benefit of future historians.

(more…)

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An interesting forum from back in 2010:

If you’ve considered going to graduate school in history, come to a History Graduate School Panel discussion on Tuesday at 7:00 pm in Griffin 7. Professors Dubow, Fishzon, and Kittleson will speak about their own graduate school experiences, and will answer any questions you might have.

Good stuff. Kudos to the professors involved for taking the time to participate. Comments:

1) Relevant discussion here and here. I second Professor Sam Crane’s remarks:

In fact, I tell them the academic job market is horrible, has been bad for a long, long time, and is getting worse. I tell them that getting a job like the one I have is unlikely. I tell them that they should go on for a Ph.D. only if they truly love the learning, because that is something they will be certain to have for a lifetime, regardless of what job they find themselves with. And for some of them, that is what it is about. Love of learning, regardless of whether they get an ideal academic job.

This was true in 2010 and is even more true now. It is true, not just in history and political science but in almost every academic field. If anything, areas like physics and biology are even worse, mainly because of the volume of Ph.Ds which they produce.

My only quibble with Sam’s comments might be to clarify that a love of learning is not enough of a reason to justify graduate school in history. With the internet as your oyster, you can pursue learning as much as your free time allows without going to graduate school.

2) Read Derek Catsam ’93:

[G]raduate students and those looking at entering this competitive world need to be cognizant of the realities. If you are planning to enter a field like, say, US history, it is probably incumbent upon you to know the odds. Further, it seems to me that it is pretty irresponsible of those of us with the ability to advise students if we emphasize the great aspects of intellectual life within the academy and do not point out the reality — your odds of getting the PhD are smaller than you think, your odds of getting a job are slighter still, and your odds of getting tenure at a place yet smaller, and then all of this happening at a place you would otherwise choose to live? Infinitesimal.

Also Swarthmore Professor Tim Burke:

Should I go to graduate school?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: maybe, but only if you have some glimmering of what you are about to do to yourself. Undergraduates coming out of liberal arts institutions are particularly vulnerable to ignorance in this regard. …

Just don’t try graduate school in an academic subject with the same spirit of carefree experimentation. Medical school, sure. Law school, no problem. But a Ph.D in an academic field? Forget it. If you take one step down that path, I promise you, it’ll hurt like blazes to get off, even if you’re sure that you want to quit after only one year.

Two years in, and quitting will be like gnawing your own leg off.

Past that, and you’re talking therapy and life-long bitterness.

Burke is right. I hope that the panelists back then, whether or not they agreed with Burke, made sure that students know what some historians believe. I worry that such an event might too easily have degenerated into a “You are all smart Williams students who should dream big and live large!” Nothing wrong with that advice when a student asks if she should try a difficult upper-level seminar, but Ephs need a more reality-based answer when leaving the Purple Bubble. Large numbers of students in the class of 2021 who are going to graduate school are making a mistake. Professor Sara Dubow is, no doubt, a wonderful, hard-working professor. But there is also a sense in which she won the lottery . . .

3) Key data would be a listing of all the Ephs who went to graduate school in, for example, history from 1990 through 2000. Where are they now? What happened to them along the way? If there were 50, I bet that fewer than 40 made it to Ph.D., fewer than 20 got any tenure-track jobs at all, and fewer than 5 got tenure. How many got tenure at a place that pays as well as Williams? I don’t know. In fact, I have trouble coming up with many Eph historians of that era, other than our own Derek Catsam ’93, Sara Dubow ’91 and Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97. Pointers welcome!

4) There are some fields — like economics, statistics and computer science — in which supply/demand are more in balance. There are still nice academic jobs at places like Williams and plenty of opportunities in industry.

5) Never attend a Ph.D. program which is not fully funded.

6) The 2010 comment thread includes excellent discussion. I miss the old EphBlog!

7) Still want to get a Ph.D. even though you are fully aware of the likely outcomes? Cool! EphBlog fully supports informed decision-making. Our main point here is to encourage you to be fully informed. Graduate school in history can be fun and rewarding! Just be sure to have a back-up plan . . .

UPDATE: First version of this post went up 9 years ago. What is the academic job market like? Consider what happened to the professors who participated in the panel.

Roger Kittleson was already tenured at the time of the panel. Life at Williams is (I hope!) good. What sort of advice does he give to history students today?

Sara Dubow is now a full professor of history at Williams. She is our lottery winner.

Anna Fishzon is listed as a “Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University in the City of New York.” But she still lists her Williams assistant professor position at the top of her profile, so it is not clear how much substance there is to the Columbia position. Even though she did great work in graduate school — which is the only way she got hired by Williams in the first place — there is no (stable) job for her in academia. Is there one for you, Dear Reader? Probably not.

UPDATE 2020: Anna Fishzon is now a licensed psychoanalyst. Honorable work, as are all roles which try to help people. But Fishzon’s time in history graduate school is now seen as, at best, a pleasant interlude before her real career began.

Recall this discussion from 2005 and this one from 2008. Recall former Professor Michael Brown’s claim:

I’d like to challenge DDF’s declaration that most faculty who are denied tenure at Williams “will never be as comfortable and prosperous as the tenured colleagues that they leave behind in Williamstown.” This is an empirical question, and I’m not in possession of the facts (any more than Dave is), but I can say from personal experience that plenty of faculty who left Williams under those unhappy circumstances have landed at good places and gone on to successful academic careers. (I expect that Anna eventually will become part of that cohort.)

What happened to Anna Bean? She is now a drama teacher at Long Trail School. Honorable work! (Indeed, I think I would have led a happier life if I had gotten the high school teaching job I applied for 30 years ago . . .) However, Bean’s salary now is probably 1/3 or lower than it would have been had she won tenure at Williams.

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As long as there is an EphBlog, there will be a remembrance of the three Ephs who died on 9/11: Howard Kestenbaum ’67, Lindsay Morehouse ’00 and Brian Murphy ’80. Previous entries here and here.

morehouse

Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, a stock brokerage and an investment bank, occupied three floors of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. Lindsay S. Morehouse ’00, a new research assistant, was working on the 89th floor when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower at 8:46 AM. As The 9-11 Commission Report describes in chilling detail, there was little consensus about what denizens of the South Tower should do. Howard Kestenbaum ’67 and others started to leave the building. Lindsay Morehouse did not. She and her co-workers did not know — they could not know — that United Airlines Flight 175 was only minutes away from impact. They stayed were they were.

“What should I do?”

Flight 175 struck the South Tower at 9:03, crashing in between floors 78 and 84. Lindsay was just 5 floors above. She, and hundreds of others, survived the impact. They did not know — they could not know — that the South Tower would collapse in less than one hour.

Even five years later, the bits and pieces of a life well-lived and yet unfinished remain..

morehouse01On September 10, a dream came true for Lindsay Morehouse, an investment banker with Keefe, Bruyette and Woods. She was accepted as a volunteer at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York and eagerly awaited the name of her new little sister. A college tennis star who led the Williams College women’s team to the NCAA finals in her junior year, she continually sought challenges and new adventures.

Only 24 years old, she had already visited New Zealand, France, Italy, New Mexico and Greece. She had been bungy-jumping and rock-climbing. She was famous among her huge circle of friends, teammates, colleagues and loved ones for her intensity and deep feelings, for being as demanding of herself as she was of each relationship in her life.

Her passions were varied: gnocchi and Indian food, “Rent” and “Les Miserable,” the Yankees and kittens. It seemed that every time she touched a life, she made a life-long friend, as witnessed by the crowd of more than 800 mourners at her memorial service on September 15.

“What should I do?”

Lindsay had come to Williams from St. Paul’s School. Her love of tennis and academic seriousness were clear even then.

morehouse08Mrs. Maycen also talked about her daughter’s affection for St. Paul’s School and how the scholarship in her name honors Lindsay’s feelings toward the School.

“I remember clearly cleaning out her room on her last day at St. Paul’s. She said, ‘Mom, I’ve just loved this school. I just love St. Paul’s.’ Fast forward and in the last week of her life, she was accepted into the Big Sister program in New York City,” said Mrs. Maycen. “She was coming full circle; wanting to help people less privileged than she was. That’s why this scholarship is just so fitting. Giving a talented student the opportunity to have what she experienced at St. Paul’s is a wonderful way to carry on Lindsay’s desire to help others.”

Lindsay’s mother said that she believes her daughter would be honored to know that a scholarship in her name would provide individuals with leadership potential an opportunity to come to St. Paul’s, and to take full advantage of all the School has to offer; much like Lindsay did herself.

“I just know that, from her perch above, Lindsay is pleased, proud, and humbled to have a scholarship in her name at the school she loved so well,” said Mrs. Maycen.

“What should I do?”

Professor Michael Lewis shared these memories:

morehouse11I have written a great deal about monuments and memorials, particularly those at Ground Zero in New York. And in judging the design proposals, I always found myself thinking about Lindsay Morehouse, and what would be the appropriately dignified and heartfelt way to remember her.

I met Lindsay in 1998 when she took my architecture course. This was a large class, about fifty students, but she was the first one I got to know, and all because of a terrific misunderstanding on my part.

Long ago I realized how important the first day of a class is. This is where you can set the tone, and if you want the students to feel that they can speak, and ask questions, and make comments, this has to happen in the very first class. By the second, it’s difficult; by the third, it’s too late. The invisible wall has come down. And so on that first day, you need to encourage students to make comments – so they can see that they will be listened to with appreciation and thoughtfulness, and not be snubbed. The professor cannot seem to be on a fishing expedition, wanting only to hear only a particular sentence. The instant he shows the slightest hint of disappointment over a student comment – or says those fatal words, “anybody else?” – the game is over. The freeze sets in and the class will never thaw.

Therefore, to make this happen, I deliberately put a couple of images in my first lecture that invite questions – open-ended questions where there is no such thing as a wrong answer. If student don’t automatically raise their hand, I look for someone who seems just on the verge of asking. You can always tell who doesn’t want to be singled out.

On that particular day it was Lindsay Morehouse I noticed, sitting in the second or third row on the right. She had that alert, pleasantly curious expression that tells you that she’s following right along, is engaged and responsive, and seems delighted to participate. What do you think? I asked her, and whatever she said was useful and helpful, because the class moved along happily afterwards, and I left thinking that the first class was a success.

The next day I headed to my office hours, knowing that there would be no one there, because it was only the first week of the semester. But there was Lindsay, outside my office, evidently waiting for me. I could not imagine why, but when she stepped in I could see that her face was red. I asked her if something was wrong, and she began to weep. Then she said a sentence that I can still hear almost twenty years later: why were you picking on me?

It took me a moment to realize exactly what she meant, and then it was my turn to feel terrible. What I thought was relaxed banter in the class, she felt as if she had been cruelly put on the spot, without warning. I handed Lindsay a tissue, and explained just what I wrote above – that I did this on purpose, to create a certain exciting mood in the lecture hall where everyone feels allowed to comment and participate, and no one’s ideas are ever brushed off. I also explained how I looked for engaged and curious faces who seemed they wanted to comment, and that she seemed to be that person. And I told her this was the only time that I had read the signals wrong.

It is a funny law of life that after a misunderstanding or any tense confrontation with someone, you tend to feel closer to the person. This was the case with us. For the rest of the semester Lindsay was a superb presence in the classroom –just as engaged and curious as I had thought at the beginning. I soon discovered she was one of the stars of our tennis team and she often came to class in her tennis whites.

Williams sawyer library

One of the assignments was to make a new facade for Sawyer Library in the style of one of the architects we studied, and she turned in an imaginative and fabulously witty Neo-Palladian design, complete with statues teetering on the parapet. I still have it.

Lindsay_Morehouse

Lindsay showed she had a knack for architectural thinking and we even looked at creating a winter study project where she could do an advanced architectural project, but I was on leave and this didn’t happen. I later found out she had talked to her mother about this project, and her regret that we couldn’t make it work.

On September 11, I had heard that Lindsay had been working in one of the World Trade Center buildings. Two days later, the 13th, I was walking into my American art class, just about to launch into the second lecture of the year. I happened to pass my friend Dave Johnson, our tennis coach, and asked if there was any news about Lindsay. This was that time of confusion when there was still hope that some people might be trapped in the subway beneath the building, and might be rescued. And to my shock, Dave said that the memorial service was going to be Saturday. He explained to me that there was no doubt that she was lost, and that she was on the phone as it happened.

morehouse09This happened seconds before I was to walk to the podium and lecture to my American art class – which happened to be the only one I ever taught that filled the room to its 110-seat capacity. I started to tell them about Lindsay, whom many of them knew, and then I cried like a baby in the room, which immediately fell silent. Although I pulled myself together to give the lecture, I was rather chagrined. As I left the room I bumped into my colleague Sheafe Satterthwaite and I told him of my embarrassment, and that I had never openly cried in front of my students before. Satterthwaite thought about it and said simply, “it will endear you to them.”

And so that is the symmetry of my relationship to Lindsay Morehouse, which began with her tears and ended with mine.

“What should I do?”

News reached Williams slowly.

In a third message on Friday [9/14] afternoon, President Schapiro announced that one recent Williams graduate, Lindsay Morehouse ’00, was known to be missing in the attack on the World Trade Center. Morehouse was an economics major and a captain of the women’s tennis team. Betsy Brainerd, an assistant professor of economics who had Morehouse in two of her classes, remembered her as “a warm and vital young woman with a great outlook on life.”

Other members of the economics department also shared fond memories of Morehouse. Roger Bolton said that he “still [has] many of the e-mails she sent as ‘Linz’ with questions on how she could make her work as good as possible, and always with a ‘thanks’ in advance.”

“I will miss Lindsay,” Kaye Husbands-Fealing, an economics professor, said. “As I watched television this week and I saw survivors that were about her age, I could see her face in theirs. Her indomitable spirit lives on. May God bless her; may God bless her family.”

“What should I do?”

This was the last question that Lindsay’s father was to hear from his daughter, the last time that he would listen to her voice, the last chance that he would have to try to protect her from a too cruel world. Yet there was little he could do.

Morehouse called her father after the first plane hit the other tower to say that she was safe and that she had been instructed to stay in the building. She called a second time after the second plane hit her tower. That call was cut off.

And that was all. Lindsay, like more than 1/3 of the employees of Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, died that day. Neither fathers nor mothers, husbands nor wives, brothers nor sisters could save them. Although the most important tragedy of 9/11 is the deaths of thousands of innocents like Lindsay Morehouse — thousands of people who gave more to life, and had more left to give, than we can ever fully know — the rest of us must shoulder the burden of survival, of wondering what we might have done differently to save them, of worrying about the telephone call which might come to us someday.

“What should I do?”

I do not dread asking this question. I dread trying to answer it. Lindsay Morehouse was not just one man’s daughter. She was a daughter to all of us. May my own daughters be spared her fate.

Condolences to all.

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In July, I asked:

Could someone provide some concrete examples of “systematic racism” against Blacks at Williams College? I want something specific which is being done by a Williams person and which Maud could, presumably, fix.

Yesterday, Quick Search provided this intelligent reply:

“The Town, however, did admit to a 2014 incident in which a WPD dispatcher said the N-word while a Black Williams student was touring the police station. The statement did not deny two allegations – that a photograph of Adolf Hitler was hung in a WPD officer’s station locker, and a 2011 incident of sexual assault allegedly committed by a WPD officer – but it did dispute McGowan’s characterization of the 2011 incident.”

Town denies allegations against WPD chief, admits 2014 racial harassment incident

That’s just one of the Record’s current stories. There are no shortage of similar specific examples that have been shared over the past ~5-10 years, including on Ephblog, nor is there a shortage of students at Williams who have attested more generally to personally experiencing uncomfortable moments at Williams or in the Williamstown area as a result of their race.

I’m glad you brought up the statistics issue, too, because you’re not wrong — but you’re also not right. There have been numerous statistical analyses of these issues by people who really do know what they’re doing (who don’t make what you describe as cause-effect errors), which repeatedly find racial disparities that can’t be explained by other variables. You’re not likely going to find a sophisticated analysis like that at Williams for two reasons: (1) they’re difficult to do; and (2) you need a large study population to account for other variables, and the Williams community isn’t big enough.

If you’re just looking at the evidence with a clear eye, it’s pretty clear that there’s systemic racism — as the term is most commonly defined by the academics who study it — in the U.S. Is there systemic racism at Williams? I don’t know for sure. But a lot of signs point to yes: Williams has a lot of the same sort of macro outcome-level differences that you see in the larger studies, and Black Williams students recount a lot of the same sorts of personal experiences of discrimination that you see in communities in which the more sophisticated studies show systemic racism.

Finally, it’s worth also pointing out that the reason why there is little room for discussion about this in academia — which is unfortunate in a lot of respects — is because so much of the push back to the existence of systemic is rooted in poor and obviously pretextual critiques. There are legitimate criticisms of the research that’s been done on this subject, but most of what you see are bad attacks levied by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. The result has been that academics have become increasingly wary of criticisms to the point that it often appears that criticism is not welcome (an attitude that has trickled down). It’s not actually entirely different from what you see in the context of global climate change, albeit with very different stakes.

1) As usual, much of the best content on EphBlog is in the comments.

2) I certainly agree that there are useful parallels between systematic racism and climate change, but perhaps for different reasons than Quick Search . . .

3) Worthwhile for me to address this point-by-point?

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A reader sent in this image, but I can’t seem to access the page. Can someone provide a link? Is it blocked for those outside campus?

Key question: Does a strike imply that Professor Dorothy Wang will not be bad-mouthing Professor Katie Kent ’88 and the rest of the English Department for two days? Or are the burdens of Woke WOC never-ending?

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This was retweeted by the official Williams account. What could go wrong?

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Fall classes start on Thursday. My advice:

This may be obvious, but courses in person are much better than courses on Zoom.

Your major does not matter! One of the biggest confusions among Williams students is the belief that future employers care about your major, that, for example, studying economics helps you get a job in business. It doesn’t! Major in what you love.

But future employers are often interested in two things. First, can you get the computer to do what you want it to do? Second, can you help them analyze data to make them more successful? Major in Dance (if you love dance) but take 4 or so classes in computer science and statistics. With that as background, you will be competitive with any of your Williams classmates when it comes time to apply for internships/jobs.

Take a tutorial every semester. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be. There are few plausible excuses for not taking a tutorial every semester. Although many tutorials are now filled, others are not.

Too many first years take a big intro class because they think they “should.” They shouldn’t! Even a “bad” tutorial at Williams is better than almost all intro courses. If you are a first year and you don’t take a tutorial, you are doing it wrong. Note that, even if you don’t have the official prerequisites for a class, you should still enroll. The pre-reqs almost never matter and professors will always (?) let you into a tutorial with empty spots.

By the way, where can we find data about how popular tutorials are? For example, do most/all tutorials end up filled? How many students attempted to enroll in each one? More transparency!

Take STAT 201 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with STAT 101). No topic is more helpful in starting your career, no matter your area of interest, than statistics. Students who take several statistics courses are much more likely to get the best summer internships and jobs after Williams. Also, the new Statistics major is amazing.

Skip STAT 201 if you took AP Statistics. Go straight to STAT 202 instead. And don’t worry about the stupid math prerequisites that the department tries to put in your way. You don’t really need multivariate calculus for 201 or matrix algebra for the more advanced classes. Those math tricks come up in a couple of questions on a couple of problem sets. Your friends (and some Khan Academy videos) will get you through it. If challenged, just tell people you took those classes in high school.

Take CSCI 134. Being able to get the computer to do what you want it to do is much more important, to your future career, than most of your other talents, at least to the marginal change in those talents another non-CS class will cause. You might consider skipping 134 and going directly to 136, but 134 seems to be a much better course than it was in the past, although I am sad to see that, apparently, it has dropped its focus on data. True?

If a professor tries to tell you the class is full, just claim to be future major in that topic. Indeed, many students officially enroll as statistics or computer science majors sophomore year to ensure that they get into the classes they want. You can always drop a major later. Mendacity in the pursuit of quality classes is no vice.

See our previous discussions. Here are some thoughts from 13 (?) years ago about course selections for a career in finance.

What courses would you recommend? What was the best class you took at Williams?

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Here is the College’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard.

1) Full points for transparency! The more transparency at Williams, the better.

2) How accurate are these tests, both in terms of false positive and false negatives?

3) Kudos, also, for transparency with regard to campus e-mails, at least about CV-19. Future historians will thank you!

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The Record Editorial Board writes:

In our June 6 statement “In solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” our editorial board expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and called on the College, its students and its alumni to make monetary donations. We made a donation as well, giving to three organizations that support grassroots journalism and journalists of color: the Marshall Project, the National Association of Black Journalists and Unicorn Riot.

But as the board met over Zoom to belatedly discuss these issues, it became clear that we, the Record, along with many predominantly-white journalistic organizations, need to hold ourselves accountable as well. For far too long, the Record has operated under institutional values, cultures and practices that illustrate that the Record benefits from and perpetuates white supremacy.

1) The current students on the Record have done a better job than any group over the last decade at least. Indeed, they may have published more high quality reporting than all those students put together. If Wokeness helps quality, then more Wokery, please!

2) This is nuts. Don’t you think? If I wrote a parody like this a decade ago, I would be laughed off the internet as an absurd slippery-slope fearing conservative maniac. And yet here we are.

Consider a single specific. The Record claims that its institutional values — values promulgated by people like Mike Needham ’04, Bart Clareman ’05, Ainsley O’Connell ’06 and scores of other students — “perpetuates white supremacy.” Give us some details. Which values, specifically, did Ephs like Needham/Clareman/O’Connell promulgate which helped to perpetuate “white supremacy?” The whole thing is insane.

It would be one thing — still unfair but not actually nuts — to claim that Needham/Clareman/O’Connell failed to live up to their own ideals, failed to be as accurate/thorough/objective as reporters ought to be. We are all sinners in this fallen world. But the Record now argues (really???) that these neutral values are part and parcel of white supremacy.

Should I spend a week Fisking this nonsense or is the whole topic too depressing?

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Danny Schwartz ’13 writes for NBC News:

In June, Amherst College participated in a match campaign that raised $183,000 for charities like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and my alma mater Williams College made a suite of promises that included a pledge to donate at least $500,000 to racial justice causes over five years. Around this same time, at the height of the George Floyd protests, Williams — whose endowment nearly doubled from around $1.5 billion to $2.9 billion in the last decade — actively solicited alumni donations, providing the option to give to the school or the pandemic- and racial equity-related causes. Williams President Maud Mandel argued in a statement that “the most effective and long-lasting manner in which Williams can work toward this goal [of fighting inequality and injustice] is by providing students with ways to hone their analytical and argumentative skills, which they can channel toward such ends.” These overtures suggest that the school would rather offload social justice accountability onto students and alumni than let its own wealth do the work.

1) Well, yeah. Williams has enough trouble just trying to be a good college. It should no more work directly on social justice in the wider world than Google should raise cows. Organizations should focus on their core missions and comparative advantages.

2) I like Maud’s rhetoric in this. In fact, this is the same line she used at 2019 reunions, and probably on many other occasions. If you — rich alum with checkbook in hand — care about X (whether X is global warming, inequality, police brutality, malaria or . . .), then the best thing to do is to give money to Williams because we train the people who will change the world by fighting these battles. Of course, this is self-serving — Williams wants your money — but it is coherent, plausible and, perhaps, even true, or at least tru-ish.

How would you like to see Maud address these issues?

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Professor Darel Paul is done with the sugar-coating:

If Paul really believes this, what would you recommend he start doing? First, buy guns. When the mob comes to your door, force is the only language they will understand. Second, prepare for a major breakdown in society. You don’t have to go full-prepper, but the Mormon-practice of having a year of food on hand makes sense if you think there is even a 5% chance of disaster. Third, start thinking seriously about exit options. If another Civil War comes, you want to be somewhere else, ideally English-speaking.

Am I as worried as Paul? No. But he knows history much better than I do . . .

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Who remembers their Adam Smith?

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Keeping that quote in mind, now consider this “news” item — or rather puff piece — from Inside Higher Ed.

Six leading liberal arts colleges are collaborating — for students, parents and counselors — because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The colleges — Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Pomona, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges — will not be collaborating on admissions decisions or on financial aid.

Who among us is so cynical to imagine that they would? Recall the Overlap scandal of a generation (or two!) ago.

They are offering joint programs on the coronavirus, explaining the faculties, undergraduate research, financial aid, campus life and applying to college during the pandemic.

The colleges involved are all highly competitive, and are all expensive but are generous with financial aid. They are spread from Maine to Southern California.

E. Whitney Soule, senior vice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin, said via email that despite the geographic reach of the colleges, “our six institutions have a lot in common related to size, liberal arts, resources, financial aid policies, and approach to the student experience.”

Of course they do! When ADM engages in price fixing and other anti-competitive behavior, they don’t coordinate with Boeing. They work with companies with which they have “a lot in common.”

She added that “we assume that a student looking at one of our schools may benefit from being introduced to all of our schools. The purpose of providing a one-stop sign-up for our mailing lists and hearing from all six schools on topics that are of interest to many students, families and counselors, we hope makes it easier to get to know residential liberal arts colleges as well as our schools specifically.”

Whoa! It would be one thing if the schools got together and split the cost of some CV-19 videos. At first, that was what I thought this was — stupid but harmless. Yet that was my mistake. The people who run Williams are not stupid. They do things for reasons. Mailing lists — like any list of potential customers — are valuable. Does the Justice Department allow Walmart and CostCo to share mailing lists?

Soule said, “Our messaging about liberal arts, affordability, faculty engagement, applying during the pandemic is not exclusive to the six of us, but we’ve started with this smaller group as a way to test out this approach and the logistics involved in coordinating among multiple schools.”

If only all the elite liberal arts colleges could be “coordinating” on various things . . . Think of the possibilities!

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From iBerkshires:

Williams College has removed two students from campus for violating the school’s quarantine order for returning students.

President Maud Mandel made the announcement in an email to the college community on Thursday.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve regretfully had to convert two on-campus students to remote study status after they violated the college’s quarantine,” Mandel wrote in a letter co-signed by Dean Marlene Sandstrom. “Judging from the campus reaction, some people may not understand the reasons for our policies, or may feel we’re enforcing them too strictly.”

Mandel did not specify the nature of the violation.

We need to see that e-mail! Could someone post it in the comments?

Word of the students’ removal comes on a day of otherwise positive news for the college on the COVID-19 front.

The first day of Williams College’s testing of returning students yielded no positive results for COVID-19, according to the college’s public “dashboard” of testing results.

On Wednesday, the college was reporting having conducted just shy of 1,000 tests.

On Thursday, three days after the college started welcoming underclassmen back to campus, the number was 1,331 tests.

A college spokesperson Thursday morning confirmed that the 1,331 number includes Monday’s tests, which include “students, staff and faculty.”

Since the college’s testing program began on Aug. 17, it is yet to have turned up a positive test for COVID-19, according to the dashboard.

Isn’t that somewhat weird? All tests are subject to false positives. Out of 1,000+ tests, shouldn’t at least one indicated that the person had COVID even if they did not?

Note that the College would very much prefer a test with zero false positives. The only way to guarantee that would be for the test to always report uninfected. And that is just the sort of result which Maud wants . . .

The college is employing a phased approach to the return of students, accepting and testing a couple of hundred students per day through Sept. 7.

All students have been ordered to quarantine in their residence until they have received a second negative test for the novel coronavirus. Students have been told to expect their initial quarantine to last “a minimum of five to seven days,” according to an Aug. 6 letter from Sandstrom.

Mandel and Sandstrom’s sternly worded Thursday letter to the community called for continued vigilance and adherance to the school’s COVID-19 regulations.

“If quarantine isn’t fully honored, this system fails,” they wrote. “If a family member enters your dorm to help you move in; if you take a walk around campus before going into quarantine; if you travel out of Williamstown without permission, you’re incrementally increasing risk to everyone. Despite our desire to be forgiving, a ‘no harm, no foul’ philosophy simply isn’t possible given the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading on college campuses.”

Mandel’s letter links to a Wednesday New York Times article reporting that 26,000 cases and 64 deaths attributable to COVID-19 have been linked to colleges and universities since the pandemic began.

“[We] want to take this opportunity to reaffirm that each of you who’s living on campus or off-campus in Williamstown is required to sign and abide by the community health commitment and scrupulously follow our rules,” the Thursday letter reads.

That community health commitment outlines the college’s rules on testing, social distancing and face coverings and concludes, in bold print, “any failure to comply may be subject to sanction or discipline in accordance with college policies.”

There is some data to indicate that Sandstrom’s Aug. 6 letter, which announced more restrictions for returning students during the fall semester, including an initial ban on off-campus travel at least through September, may have deterred some students from returning for in-person classes.

On July 15, college officials at a virtual town hall told the Williamstown community that Williams was anticipating 1,600 students who had decided to return to town for classes.

On Thursday afternoon, college spokesperson Gregory Shook said the school’s current numbers are 1,364 students in college-owned housing with another 81 planning to live locally off-campus with on-campus priviliges; that makes a total of 1,445 students, down 9.6 percent from the figure cited in mid-July.

Hmmm. Has there been a corresponding increase in the numbers enrolled but studying remotely? Or did more students just decide to take a gap semester/year?

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Here is a link to Oren Cass’s (’05) latest piece: The New York Times

Here is one of his main points:

… “material living standards,” measured in dollars of consumption (or inches of flat-screen TV), are not the same thing as “quality of life.” They say little about relationships, dignity, agency, or life satisfaction.

I find myself agreeing with this and some of his other points, like this:

By Senator Toomey’s and Dr. Strain’s standards, the past few months were the greatest in human history to be alive. The pandemic has allowed more time than ever to enjoy air-conditioning and color televisions, computers and phones. One can joy ride for hours streaming podcasts.

However, he veers into partisanship when talking about solutions:

the left-of-center tends to dismiss their frustration as backward or racist. Candidate Barack Obama lamented people who “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.” Hillary Clinton placed such people in her “basket of deplorables.”

and while some of his concepts appeal to me, he does not offer any specific ideas:

America could slow, or partially reverse, elements of globalization that have most disrupted working-class lives, if that were our priority. We could reorient our education system toward serving the majority of young people who still don’t earn even a community-college degree. We could reform our system of organized labor to provide workers a genuine seat at the table and an institution in the community. We could emphasize geography when we talk about diversity, aiming to distribute talent and investment more widely.

Of course, in DDF’s classic theoretical cocktail party, I could ask Oren some questions and maybe come to understand what he means by slowing or partially reversing “elements of globalization.”

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Professor Darel Paul’s twitter feed is getting dark:

Are you more or less optimistic than Paul?

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From iBerkshires:

Williams College on Monday began the phased return of its student population for the fall semester with a mandatory test and quarantine period. Students will be restricted to their dorm rooms for five to seven days, until they have received their second negative test for COVID-19.

The students are coming back to campus on a staggered schedule with several hundred returning each day.

All testing by the college is being reported out on a dashboard on Williams’ website.

As of Monday morning, Williams had administered 925 tests of faculty and staff in the first seven days of testing with zero positive results for the virus.

That tracks with the local numbers reported by the state and the non-profit group covidactnow.org, which Monday reported that Berkshire County had 0.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

After Williams students receive a second negative test, they will be allowed to use the campus freely but will be restricted to an irregularly shaped area bounded roughly by Cole Field to the north, the Taconic Golf Club to the south, Water Street (Route 43) to the west and the Clark Art Institute campus to the east.

The college does not plan to issue the students who have received a second negative test result a card or other documentation to that effect for “logistical reasons,” school officials said on Monday.

“In addition to robust Covid testing, a key part of Williams’ plan is our Community Health Commitment, which was implemented to create an environment that keeps everyone in the community healthy,” Williams spokesperson Gregory Shook said. “It’s our intention for all members of the Williams community to hold themselves and each other accountable to these guidelines, and you’ll see in the health commitment that corrective action will be taken for those who violate the guidelines.

That restriction is scheduled to continue at least through September.

“Students will have access to Spring Street, Taconic Golf Club, and any space within the area defined by the map, and they’ll be able to exercise or hike outdoors in the surrounding area (via walking or biking), with appropriate masking and social distancing,” Shook said. “However, going to Stop & Shop, Walmart and other off-campus destinations are prohibited during this time.”

Meanwhile, non-students and non-staff will not be allowed access to Williams College buildings, including the main library, or athletic facilities, including the tennis courts.

Students will be required to be tested regularly for the novel coronavirus — initially twice per week — according to an email to the student population from Dean of the College Marelene Sandstrom earlier this month.

“Any student who misses more than one test will not be able to remain on campus,” Sandstrom wrote. “Their enrollment status will immediately be changed from in-person to remote, and they will no longer have access to any campus buildings or resources.

“We recognize that this policy is strict and does not provide flexibility; this is the only way to ensure that our testing and contact tracing can work effectively. Thus it will be students’ responsibility to make sure they are tested as scheduled.”

Predictions on what the next few weeks will bring?

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Great article from EphBlog favorite Howard Herman:

Williams College had given its students, including student-athletes, the option of taking the fall semester off and incoming first-years could take a gap year. Winter sports athletes won’t have their first contests until mid-November, and much about the pandemic could change between now and then.

“I personally am coming back in person on the usual schedule. Almost everybody on the team is doing that,” Williams men’s basketball player Spencer Spivy said. Spivy is a rising junior from San Francisco, but a junior who has family members in Berkshire County.

As of today, Williams has not determined whether or not winter sports will be contested and when those seasons could start. The school had posted Oct. 15 as the first day of practice for winter sports teams. That’s a change from the traditional Nov. 1 start date.

Last year, the first winter sports contests were played the weekend of Nov. 15-16. Assuming that winter sports are being played, it is not known if those games would start at a similar time, wait until after Thanksgiving or wait until January 2021.

“It was” a difficult decision at first, Spivy said. “Early on, when we received the news about [college president Maud Mandel’s] email, and that the fall was going to be a hybrid online and in person format, we texted in a basketball group chat the day of. We all sort agreed we’d be there in person together, in whatever capacity that is instead of going our separate ways in the fall. “After the team collectively agreed on that, it became a pretty easy decision for me to come back.”

Read the whole thing.

Williams should start up athletics soon. CV-19 is essentially zero risk to Williams athletes and, of course, they can always decline to participate. Other schools will certainly not be playing, but we should not allow their poor decision-making to hold our students hostage.

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From City Journal:

Conformity to a Lie

Academia’s monolithic belief in systemic racism will further erode American institutions and the principles of our civilization.

Heather Mac Donald

The lethal arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May triggered widespread riots and a torrent of contempt for America from virtually every institution in the country. Businesses large and small, the education establishment, and the press rushed to condemn the country’s purportedly endemic racism, implicitly accusing the majority of Americans of destroying “black lives.” Banks and law firms pledged that hiring and promotions would now be even more race-conscious than before. Hundreds of millions of dollars poured forth from corporate coffers into activist groups; the corporate benefactors hoped to dismantle America’s white supremacy, they announced.

Colleges and universities also promised increased diversity spending, though in amounts dwarfed by those corporate outpourings. Nevertheless, the academic response to Floyd’s death and the ensuing violence will have the greatest impact on the nation’s future. Academia was the ideological seedbed for that violence and for its elite justifications; it will prove just as critical in the accelerated transformation of the country.

Fealty to “diversity” and denunciations of white privilege have been a unifying theme in academia for decades, of course. What’s different this time is the sheer venom of the denunciations. College presidents and deans competed for the most sweeping indictment of the American polity, rooted in the claim that blacks are everywhere and at all times under threat.

“We are again reminded that this country’s 400-year history of racism continues to produce clear and present danger to the bodies and lives of Black people in every part of the United States,” wrote Ted Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania law school. Amherst College president Carolyn “Biddy” Martin announced that the “virulent anti-black racism in this country has never NOT been obvious, and yet there are those who continue to deny it.” Martin was making a plea, she said, “to white people in particular, to acknowledge the reality of anti-black racism, its long history, and its current force; to recognize how embedded it is in our institutional structures, social systems, and cultural norms; and to assume our responsibility for ending it.”

Ted Ruger ’90 is probably the highest ranked Eph at an Ivy League institution. He is also Woke! He will probably be recruited for the Williams presidential search in a few years. Biddy Martin, perhaps the most Woke president among NESCAC schools, needs no introduction. (If readers disagree with these judgements, let us know! Is there a higher ranked Eph in the Ivy League? Is there a more Woke NESCAC president?)

MacDonald continues:

All such institutional self-accusations by college presidents leave out the specifics. Which faculty members do not treat black students fairly? If that unjust treatment is so obvious, why weren’t those professors already removed? What is wrong with an admissions process that lets in thousands of student bigots? In other moments, college presidents brag about the quality of their student body and faculty. Are they lying? Shouldn’t they have disclosed to black applicants that they will face “racist acts” and “systems of inequality” should they attend?

Good questions.

The prevalence of systemic racism in the U.S. is far from an established fact, however. Other credible explanations exist for ongoing racial disparities, including family structure, cultural attitudes, and individual behavior. To declare from the highest reaches of the academy that racism is the defining and all-explaining feature of American society is to adopt a political position, not to state a scientific truth.

MacDonald is a bit of a cuck, so she doesn’t even mention the most likely explanation.

Each diversity initiative, whether in academia or in business, requires pretending that it was not preceded by a long line of identical efforts. Instead, every new diversity campaign starts with penance for the alleged bias that leads schools and corporations to overlook some vast untapped pool of competitively qualified blacks and Hispanics. Now, the pressure to admit and hire on the basis of race will redouble in force, elevating even less skilled candidates to positions of power throughout society. American institutions will pay the price.

Indeed. But would that necessarily be a bad thing? There is a common elite delusion that the best way to organize the world is to centralize excellence as much as possible. The best conservative intellectuals, for example, should all be brought together in a handful of elite institutions, the better to marinate in their collective excellence. Perhaps. But might not decentralization make for a better, healthier society? I hundreds of White/Asian students are rejected from the Ivy League, they don’t just disappear. They go to Iowa State. Why is that so bad from the point of view of American society?

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From CNN:

Barack Obama’s legacy looms awkwardly over Joe Biden. Of course, he cannot disavow, or even really criticize, the administration he helped to lead for eight years. But, by its end, the nation was in such a state that it elected Donald Trump as President — a catastrophe, in Biden’s view. Many on the left as well as on the right now believe that the economic recovery from the Great Recession was botched.

Many on the left as well as on the right disdain the Obamacare-governed healthcare system and demand an overhaul.

The Black Lives Matter movement, we might recall, was born in the Obama years— the number of people shot dead by police each year hasn’t changed significantly since.

Biden’s acceptance speech struggled with the tension. On one hand, he made a point of pausing early to thank Obama. “You were a great president,” he said. But this came just after speaking of “all the young people who have known only an America of rising inequity and shrinking opportunity,” the Obama years presumably included. And it came just after lamenting that “more than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year,” the sort of thing a successful health care overhaul might ideally prevent.

The question for the Biden campaign and a Biden administration is: what will be different? Doing the same thing and expecting a better result is, as the saying goes, the definition of insanity. Yet Biden’s agenda was, almost verbatim, a reiteration of Obama’s: “building on the Affordable Care Act” to deliver those elusive “lower premiums, deductibles, and drug prices”; an education system in which college attendance seems the only concern; vague reference to doubling down on a system of organized labor that has declined toward irrelevance; “equal pay for women”; millions of green jobs; “ending loopholes” in the tax code and making the wealthy pay “their fair share.”

None of this tackles America’s fundamental challenges or changes course from the policy mistakes of the past generation. Biden concluded on the theme that “hope and history rhyme.” The “hope” we remember; we should worry the “history” will repeat.

I doubt that Democrats worry much about addressing the issue of “What will be different?” They have a simple answer: No more Trump.

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My time as a poster on Ephblog is coming to an end. My plan is to end with a three part post about Ephblog: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Though I will be going in reverse order.

THE UGLY

I understand that some people might struggle with this category – there is so much material to consider for inclusion! However, for me it was the easiest category. It has two members: John Drew and Ken T. I am 100% confident in saying that Ephblog is a better place without either one of them. In fact, Ephblog would have been better off if they both had never joined the community.

The one year experiment in Ephblog being a John Drew free zone is coming to an end sometime soon. In the future, I am hopeful his “voluntary banishment” will continue ad infinitum.

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From the New York Times:

The Education Department’s civil rights chief has for 40 years labored to enforce civil rights protections in the nation’s schools and universities, but few in the position have attracted as much attention as Kenneth L. Marcus, who will leave the post this week after two years marked by dissension, disputes — and significant accomplishments.

Mr. Marcus, who came to the job as a fierce champion for Israel and a critic of anti-Zionist movements on college campuses, is credited with overseeing the completion of sexual misconduct rules and expanding civil rights for Jewish students amid rising anti-Semitism. In announcing his departure, he said he had restored the office’s status “as a neutral, impartial civil rights law enforcement agency that faithfully executes the laws as written and in full, no more and no less.”

1) Now that Marcus has left, who is the highest ranking Eph in the Trump Administration?

2) Ken’s successful effort to reform sexual assault investigation procedures will likely have a bigger effect on what happens at Williams, and places like it, then any other Eph effort of the last decade or more.

Should we spend a week going through the details?

Entire article below the break:

(more…)

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Williams insists that we take the concept of white supremacy seriously.

What would it mean for a powerful, predominantly white, alumni community to commit to being anti-racist? How can the oldest alumni organization in the country work to dismantle white supremacy? How can Williams alumni come together to support Black lives?

OK! But, to the extent that White Supremacy is a thing in, for example, US policing, it logically follows that other kinds of supremacy hold sway in other contexts. It would hardly be surprising if, for example, Chinese Supremacy was a causal factor in, say, the domination of certain industries of the Chinese diaspora.

Might Black Supremacy play a role in the NBA? Consider the pay and performance of Duncan Robinson ’17.

Recall how poorly the basketball community judged Robinson. No offers from Division I schools coming out of high school — hence his one year stay in Williamstown. Limited playing time at Michigan, including not even starting his senior year. Undrafted, and banished to the G-League for a year. Would any of that have happened if Duncan were Black? Tough to know! Just like it is tough to know if, when a Black man is arrested by police, he would have been arrested if he had been white.

I don’t believe that either White Supremacy or Black Supremacy play a major role in individual outcomes in US society. What do you think?

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From a basketball nerd:

I doubt that Duncan Robinson ’17 is really the 4th best player in the NBA. (See the thread for more discussion.) But there is no doubt that he is excellent.

Would Robinson have been undrafted if he were Black?

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From Professor Darel Paul:

From iBerkshires:

Two months of input and advice from Mount Greylock’s working groups looking at the reopening of school were undone in four hours of discussion by the School Committee on Thursday night.
On a 6-1 vote, the committee directed interim superintendent Robert Putnam to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a radically different plan for the start of the year that moves more children into the school building more quickly than the administration was recommending.

Subject to approval by DESE and, not insignificantly, collective bargaining with the district’s unions, there will be no two-week period of fully remote learning as Putnam was proposing.

Putnam went into Thursday’s meeting with plans based on input from groups established in the spring and summer by him and his predecessor with the goal of getting the School Committee’s blessing for the plan he has to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Friday.

Putnam laid out a plan largely like the one he presented in a virtual town hall on Tuesday evening and told the School Committee he was looking for guidance.

He got it.

[Williams Professor and School Board member] Steven Miller immediately concurred.

“I agree strongly with Regina,” Miller said. “One possibility is, can we have classrooms take staggered breaks so they’re not sitting in the room all the time. … This is a creative community where we can come up with answers. Can we eat lunch outside the classroom, especially in September on good days.

“There are a lot of families which were really hurt with how things happened [when schools closed in March], and whose family situation is not going to work with two days a week or not going to work with half days. There are a lot of families that need full day. I think at a bare minimum, we should be looking at how to get K through 4, if not K through 6, back to full days Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. And see, from that, what do we need to make it happen. What resources do you need? What are the obstacles that are preventing us from doing this?”

Eventually, Miller made a motion that Putnam submit plans to DESE that call for the district’s K-6 pupils to be in school all day, four days per week and for the students at Mount Greylock to be in school two days a week with half in the building on Mondays and Thursdays and the other half on Tuesdays and Fridays — all starting on Sept. 16, the first day of the school year. And at the middle/high school, the School Committee voted, “the plan will be to go to full four-day instruction for any student who wants it … starting Oct. 1.”

That was the plan the School Committee endorsed, 6-1.

How will the union reply? I don’t know nearly as much about local Williamstown politics as I should.

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Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom sent students an update on the fall semester. Let’s spend a week going through it.

Final highlights:

It is crucial for students to feel comfortable communicating to each other about following health and safety guidelines. Please speak up (respectfully) when you see someone falling short of our expectations. Similarly, please be gracious and understanding if somebody lets you know that they are concerned about your behavior. We will fail even before we have a chance to succeed if students don’t hold each other accountable and treat each other with respect. We expect the majority of monitoring and corrective behavior to happen among students.

This seems a fantasy to me. First, a central message of our social justice friends at Williams for the last decade or more has been the horrible curse of white privilege. Given that history, do you really expect a white student to tell a black student — excuse me, a Black! student — that she is doing something wrong? I don’t! Second, students don’t like to snitch on each other. Third, it is becoming rapidly clear to healthy college age students that the virus poses no meaningful risk to them.

Williams has contracted with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for our testing kits and processing. Williams will staff our testing site. The Broad test is a RT-PCR test that is a high throughput version of the CDC 2019-nCoV Realtime RT-PCR test. This test uses nasal swabs in the lower nasal cavity (anterior nares swabs) and differs from the more uncomfortable test involving a swab placed deeply into the upper nasal cavity (nasopharyngeal swabs).

I think this is a good choice. Broad has an excellent reputation.

We are holding all students accountable to our public health guidelines — this includes students living in our residence halls, as well as students who are enrolled in person and living nearby in off-campus housing. While I fully expect students to respect these rules and show care for each other, it is important to know that students who egregiously violate our health requirements can expect to be immediately transitioned from in-person to remote enrollment, and will be required to leave campus. Such violations might also lead to a formal disciplinary process that could result in probation, suspension, or expulsion. Please know that we will be strictly enforcing our policy in order to protect the campus community.

Good luck.

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Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom sent students an update on the fall semester. Let’s spend a week going through it.

Upon arrival, students will be quarantined in their dorm rooms until they have received TWO negative Covid-19 tests. Initial quarantine is expected to last a minimum of five to seven days. During this time, students will only be allowed to leave their rooms to use the bathroom and to go to the testing site for their second test. All meals will be delivered into a central dorm location for pick up during quarantine.

In addition to the initial in-room quarantine, students will be required to remain on campus at least through September. This means that going to Stop and Shop, Walmart, and other off-campus destinations—even within Berkshire County—will be prohibited during this time, although students may exercise or hike with appropriate social distancing in the surrounding area.

What is the scientific basis for these procedures? Honest question! If the science — excuse me, the Science! — is clear, then why do different schools have such different procedures? Answer: Virus Theatre.

During initial quarantine, students will be restricted to their rooms, and movement will be restricted to bathroom access, picking up meals delivered to the dorm, and going to the testing site. Bathrooms will be stocked with cleaning supplies so that students can sanitize between each use. Students must wear a face covering when they exit their rooms for these purposes.

Perhaps — perhaps! — this might work if students were initially placed in special quarantine dorms and then, after the 5 to 7 days — and that is a pretty big range — moved to their permanent dorm with their friends. But I doubt this is the plan. They are just going to place people in the Carter House room and expect them not to come out of their rooms and chat with their friends for a week? Yeah, right!

Varsity athletes will not be engaged in any team activity (formal or informal) until the week of September 14th. At that point, coaches will work with athletes on approved outdoor training activities.

Why the hate on varsity athletes? The JV soccer team can play games all day long, but the varsity players can’t even look at each other? Club baseball can have practice every afternoon but varsity baseball can’t? What nonsense!

If activity X is a problem, then ban activity X for all students. If X is not a problem, then it does not matter if the people participating in X are varsity athletes or noners.

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