See the news release on early admissions for details. There is enough good information here that we need to spend four days reviewing it. This is day 3.

Twenty-two students are first-generation college students (that is, neither parent has a four-year college degree), almost twice last year’s total, and nearly 20 percent of Early Decision admits come from low-income families. “We are especially gratified by the socioeconomic diversity represented in the Early Decision group, a direct result of the success of two expanded fall fly-in programs for high-ability, low-income students,” Nesbitt said.

1) See our Socio-Ec Admissions category for much more background on this topic. Highlights: Defining low socio-economic status is hard, both because opinions vary as to what disadvantages matter and because of a lack of data from applicants. Different colleges do it different ways. At Williams, the traditional definition is, as above, neither parent with a four year college degree and checking the need-financial-aid box. So, even if your parents are (retired) millionaires and you have gone to Milton for 12 years, you add “socioeconomic diversity” to Williams as long as the no-4-year-degree criteria is met.

2) Does the Williams definition still require checking the need-financial-aid box? Is there such a box on the Common Ap? Annoyingly, a PDF version of the Common Ap is no longer available.

3) How does the College know that 20% of students come from “low-income families?” Unless the Common Ap has changed (corrections welcome), there is no income information. I suspect that the College counts anyone who asks for a fee waiver as “low income,” but this seems highly suspect to me. Students, at least smart ones, know that Williams gives advantages to poorer applicants, so why not ask for a fee waiver? Note that the requirements for asking for (and always receiving?) a fee waiver or incredibly loose. They include:

You are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
Your family receives public assistance.
You can provide a supporting statement from a school official, college access counselor, financial aid officer, or community leader.

So, if you grab an apple from the local food bank one time (and therefore receive “public assistance”), you can check this box.

Advice to applicants: Always ask for a fee waiver.

4) As much as Williams likes to preen about the its “socioeconomic diversity,” that diversity has been decreasing dramatically in recent years, even by the College’s own (suspect) metrics. For the class of 2012, 21% of all students were first generation. In recent classes, according President Falk’s public talks, it has been around 1/7. So, there will be around 58 fewer first generation students in the class of 2019 then there were in the class of 2012. Progress, comrades!

(Yes, I see that 20% of the students in ED were first generation, but that percentage will almost certainly come down for the final pool, at least assuming that the class of 2019 is similar to recent classes.)

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See the news release on early admissions for details. There is enough good information here that we need to spend four days reviewing it. This is day 2.

American students of color comprise 30 percent of the Early Decision group, including 27 African Americans, 25 Asian Americans, 20 Latinos, and one Native American. Twenty-two students are first-generation college students (that is, neither parent has a four-year college degree), almost twice last year’s total,and nearly 20 percent of Early Decision admits come from low-income families.

1) How is the College counting racial minorities now-a-days? Here is key section of the Common Application.


The College has many students who consider themselves bi-racial, especially students with one Asian and one white parent. Many of those applicants — well aware that elite colleges discriminate against Asian-Americans (although it us unclear if Williams does so) — will either check only the White box or decline to provide any racial info. Nothing that the College can do about that. But how does the College count students who check two boxes, say White and Asian? Do such students get included in the 25 Asian Americans?

The College Board reports:

The ethnicity question on the Common Application has been updated to meet the Department of Education reporting requirements.

Always fun to watch different parts of the US Government disagree about racial classifications! The choices given above are very different than the choices provided on, say, the US Census. My sense is that the Department of Education did not like the Census approach because that approach makes it harder to keep track — or even minimizes (or maximizes!)? — the percentage of black students. Does anyone understand the politics? In particular, by getting rid of the “More Than One Race” option, it forces (?) black students to check the Black box and/or prevents the Colleges from claiming that the “More Thank One Race” students might be Black when, in fact, they are much more likely to be mixed White/Asian.

Answers to the ethnicity question are not required for submission.

What advice do readers have for applicants to Williams? High school students applying to, say, Harvard, should do everything possible to minimize their Asianess, but I don’t think that being an Asian American hurts when applying to Williams. (Of course, many/most students applying to Williams will also apply to schools that are likely to discriminate against Asians.)

Also, how does Williams count students who decline to answer? See extensive discussion of this topic eight (!) years ago. Back to the Common Ap.

If you choose to answer this question, you may provide whatever answer you feel best applies to you or any groups of which you feel you are a part. You can answer all or none of the questions. If you wish to answer the ethnicity question but feel that the established categories do not fully capture how you identify yourself, you may provide more detail in the Additional Information section of the application.

Bold added. Recall our discussion from several years ago, referencing a New York Times article:

The average combined SAT differential between African-American and Asian-American students at places like Williams is around 150 points. Imagine that you are an ambitious high school senior with mid 600 SATs. Without a “hook,” you are highly unlikely to be admitted to Williams. Check the box marked African-American on the Common Application, and you improve your chances dramatically. How much do you really want to go to Williams?

Given the tests’ speculative nature, it seems unlikely that colleges, governments and other institutions will embrace them. But that has not stopped many test-takers from adopting new DNA-based ethnicities — and a sense of entitlement to the privileges typically reserved for them.

Prospective employees with white skin are using the tests to apply as minority candidates, while some with black skin are citing their European ancestry in claiming inheritance rights.

Note that the Common Application gives you almost complete latitude in what boxes you check. It states, “If you wish to be identified with a particular ethnic group, please check all that apply.” In other words, there is no requirement that you “look” African-American or that other people identify you as African-America or even that you identify yourself as African-American, you just have to “wish to be identified.”

Now, one hopes, that there isn’t too much truth-stretching going on currently. The Admissions Department only wants to give preferences to students who really are African-American, who add to the diversity of Williams because their experiences provide them with a very different outlook than their non-African-American peers. But those experiences can only come from some identification — by society toward you and/or by you to yourself — over the course of, at least, your high school years. How can you bring any meaningful diversity if you never thought of yourself as African-American (or were so thought of by others) until the fall of senior year?

“This is not just somebody’s desire to go find out whether their grandfather is Polish,” said Troy Duster, a sociologist at New York University who has studied the social impact of the tests. “It’s about access to money and power.”

So true. Note that Duster gave a talk at Williams a few months ago. Too bad that no one on campus blogged about it. I’d bet that it was interesting.

Driving the pursuit of genetic bounty are start-up testing companies with names like DNA Tribes and Ethnoancestry. For $99 to $250, they promise to satisfy the human hunger to learn about one’s origins — and sometimes much more. On its Web site, a leader in this cottage industry, DNA Print Genomics, once urged people to use it “whether your goal is to validate your eligibility for race-based college admissions or government entitlements.”

If you care about the traditional notion of diversity at Williams — that it is critical for the College to have enough African-American students, students who identify themselves this way and are so treated by society — than this phrasing must make your blood run cold. What happens when hundreds (thousands?) of students with 600 level SATs take these tests and “discover” that they are African-American?

Some social critics fear that the tests could undermine programs meant to compensate those legitimately disadvantaged because of their race. Others say they highlight an underlying problem with labeling people by race in an increasingly multiracial society.

“If someone appears to be white and then finds out they are not, they haven’t experienced the kinds of things that affirmative action is supposed to remedy,” said Lester Monts, senior vice provost for student affairs at the University of Michigan, which won the right to use race as a factor in admissions in a 2003 Supreme Court decision.

Still, Michigan, like most other universities, relies on how students choose to describe themselves on admissions applications when assigning racial preferences.

Up until now, we have all assumed (hoped) that applicants are mostly honest. The College does not check that you are “really” African-American or Hispanic. They take you at your word — although they certainly like to see club membership, essay/recommendation references and other signs consistent with that check-mark.

Yet what happens when every student at elite high schools gets tested? This will happen. Indeed, how can any social studies teacher resist such a test when it would serve as a great starting point for all sorts of amazing class discussions?

Then, once every junior at Exeter has taken the test, it will be time for some fun discussions in the college councilor’s office.

Uptight Parent: We would really like Johnny to go to Williams.

College Counselor: Well, Johnny is a great kid who will do well at Colby. But, with his grades and test scores, Williams would be quite a reach.

UP: If Johnny were African-American, he would get into Williams.

CC: Well, that might or might not be true, but it hardly seems relevant to this discussion since Johnny is white.

UP: But the project that Johnny did for social studies showed that he was 2% sub-Saharan African.

CC: So . . .

UP: That means that he can check the African-American box on the Common Application.

CC: Well, the traditional usage of that box is for students that have always identified themselves, and been identified by others, as African-American.

UP: But it doesn’t say that on the form, does it?

CC: No.

UP: So, Johnny can check it, right? There is no school policy against it?

CC: Correct.

UP: In fact, since the test demonstrates that, scientifically, Johnny is African-America, I can count on the school to verify that designation in all its application paperwork.

CC: Yes. [Sigh] And I hear that the fall foliage is lovely in the Berkshires . . .

Think that this is just more stupid EphBlog fantasy?

Ashley Klett’s younger sister marked the “Asian” box on her college applications this year, after the elder Ms. Klett, 20, took a DNA test that said she was 2 percent East Asian and 98 percent European.

Whether it mattered they do not know, but she did get into the college of her choice.

“And they gave her a scholarship,” Ashley said.

Of course, being “Asian” does not help you when applying Williams.

Note also that these tests often make mistakes, so many of the box-checkers will actually be mistaken.

The point here is not that the current admissions policy at Williams is bad or good. It is what it is. The point is that there are significant preferences given to those who check certain boxes and that cheap genetic testing will provide many people with a plausible excuse to check boxes that, a few years ago, they did not have. How much will the admissions process change as a result? Time will tell. It will be very interesting to look at the time series of application by ethnic group over this decade. I predict that the raw number (and total pool percentage) of African-American and Hispanic applicants will increase sharply. Time will tell.

Eight years later, what has time told us?

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See the news release on early admissions for details. There is enough good information here that we need to spend four days reviewing it. This is day 1.

Williams College has offered admission to 244 students under its Early Decision plan. The 112 women and 132 men will comprise 44 percent of the incoming Class of 2019, whose ultimate target size is 550.

A better run blog would maintain a time series of this information. How has ED data changes over time? Alas, we have fallen behind on this and many other fronts. My New Year’s Resolution is to spend much more time on EphBlog in 2015. What would readers like to read about?

Do we have any readers from the class of 2019? Let us know in the comments. In fact, tell us about yourselves! One project in 2015 will be to collect as many Twitter accounts, Tumblrs, blogs and other (public) profiles of Williams students. Recall EphBlog’s purpose: To encourage, organize and support the Williams Conversation. If you are an Eph with something to say, we want to share your words and pictures with the broader Williams community.

More to come in January . . .

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Beautifully written post explaining the problems with Mexican-themed costumes.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

A picture of six white Williams students donning taco costumes with mustaches and sombreros were shared last night to the rest of the campus. These pictures were on Instagram for everyone to see, and a few students have shared those pictures with the rest of the student body.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

What is offensive about a taco costume? Nothing, a taco costume is not offensive. But, a taco costume with a fake mustache and a sombrero is. But why is it offensive if they are all Mexican things? Taking three different reductive stereotypes about Mexicans and Mexican culture and putting into one costume simplifies, reduces, and exotizes Mexicans. You perpetuate the one caricature of Mexicans already deeply ingrained in the imagination of the U.S. You become complicit in anti-Mexicanness that I, my family, my neighbors back home, other students, staff, and faculty at Williams, and thousands of others across the U.S. experience daily.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

The six women are posing slightly hunched over, raising their fists, with the caption: “First there was the Jackson Five and then there was the Taco Six. #Ole.” The Jackson Five? Olé? Why do these Williams students feel the need to dress up as people of color for Halloween? Why are they only willing to engage with other cultures on a holiday? If they love our cultures so much, why do I not see them at the events we spend months planning to teach and to share different aspects of our identities and heritage? Why are we only the butt of their Halloween joke?

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

The caricature of Mexicans shows how abstract we are to them. We may share the same dining halls, be in the same classes, have mutual friends, but in the end, it does not register to them that their actions may have different implications for those of us who do not and cannot fit into the dominant culture at Williams and in the U.S. Some of us are not granted the option to not be offended due the history of exploitation, the ongoing attacks of Mexicans in the U.S., and our every day lived experiences.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

I reiterate, their reduction and caricature of Mexicans and Mexican culture aligns with what is already etched in the imagination of the U.S. In the imagination of the U.S., we are sombrero-wearing, taco-eating, dirty mustached, wetback beaners who are here to take up all the jobs and mow your lawns, wash your dishes, be your child’s nanny, pick your fruit and vegetables; we are your employees, we are illegals, we are dirty, we are lazy, we are criminals, we do not belong here. We are Other.

Read the whole thing. I have saved a copy below the break, along with many interesting comments in the thread which followed.

Needless to say, I disagree with much of the substance of this argument, but there is no denying its eloquence and intelligence.

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Every campus controversy needs a name. What shall we call our latest? Given the photo which started the contre-temps, I suggest “The Taco 6.”


Do readers have other suggestions?

By the way, here are the images that Google pulls up for “girls mexican costumes”. I am sure that all PC Williams students would appreciate it Dean Bolton could go through them all and let them know which ones are acceptable at a Williams party and which ones are not. How about these two from Halloween Costumes?



Unless Dean Bolton truly wants to get into the business of Halloween costume selection for 2,000 undergraduates, she would be wise to let this matter drop.

Is she wise?

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Another absurd e-mail from Dean Bolton:

From: Sarah Bolton
Date: Monday, December 8, 2014
Subject: Concern From the Weekend, and Support

Dear Williams Students,

I write to inform you about a concern that has arisen over the weekend. As many of you are already aware, on Saturday night several students reported to me a photograph showing six Williams students who appeared to have dressed in costumes imitating a racial stereotype, including [What Do You Think Goes Here?].

As is the case when any concern is brought to the attention of my office, we are looking into this matter in order to understand fully what took place and how it may relate to the college’s code of student conduct.

This is a very difficult time for many students, and we are setting up a variety of opportunities for gathering or supportive conversation this week. In addition to their regular daytime operations, the Davis Center will be staffed for the next three nights from 7-9 pm and the Chaplain’s office will be open in the evenings as well, from 8-10 pm. There is a workshop for students wondering how to be allies from 7-9 pm at Hardy House. There is a Stress-busters tonight at Paresky. And, the deans are available to work with students who are struggling to move forward their academic work in this difficult context. Please don’t hesitate to come by or contact any of us.

Dean Bolton

Obviously, I have left out the key phrase. Here are some options:

1) gang colors and grillz.

2) false mustaches and sombreros.

3) Irish country hats and shillelaghs.

4) horned helmets and fake braids.

5) Indian headdresses and “war paint.”

The cynics among you will instantly dismiss 3) and 4). No Dean at Williams would complain about dressing up like this or this. Those are white caricatures! Making fun of white people is OK!

Answer is 2! Can you believe it? I would have thought this was a spoof. (And maybe a student is spoofing me! Corrections welcome.)

My thoughts on this are the same as always.

First, we need an Eph Style Guide. That was a good idea ten years ago. It is a good idea now.

Second, does Dean Bolton enjoy these mini-controversies? (Insider comments welcome.) If I were Dean, I would find them boring and annoying. If she does not enjoy them, she could decrease the number of complaints that come to her office by not sending out so many all-campus e-mails. The bigger the deal she makes about these stupidities, the more of them will come to her door.

Third, if I were a trouble-making non-liberal student. I would come to Dean Bolton with a similar complaint (about, say, a student wearing a Che Guevara or hammer-and-sickle t-shirt) and demand that she send out a similar all-campus e-mail about that.

Does anyone have a copy of the photo? Send it in. Future historians will thank you!

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Since war came to the West on September 11, 2001, only a handful of Ephs have read these words. Are you among them?


My Home Is in the Valley Amid the Hills

Each morning I watch the sunlight drifting down through the pines, scattering the clouds from the mountain sides, driving the mists from the glens.

Each night I see the purple lights as they creep up the slopes of the Dome and the shadows as they fall on wood and stream.

My home is among young men — young men who dream dreams and see visions; young men who will carry my banner out into the world and make the world better because they have lived with me in my valley amid the hills.

Among my sons who have left me, some have caught the poet’s fire, and their words have touched men’s hearts and have bought cheer to a weary world.

And some, in answer to the call of country, have gone out to battle for the common rights of men against the enemy. Some of them will not return to me, for they have given all they had, and now they rest at the foot of a simple cross or lie deep below the waves. But even as they passed, the music of the chimes was in their ears and before their eyes were visions of the quiet walks beneath the elms

Whether apart in solitude or pressing along the crowded highways, all these who have breathed my spirit and touched my hand have played their parts for the better, for


This 1926 eulogy, written by Professor of Rhetoric Carroll Lewis Maxey, comes from page 136 of Williams College in the World War, a beautifully arranged remembrance of those Ephs who served in freedom’s cause during the Great War. To Williams students today, World War I is as far away as the War of 1812 was to the generation that Professor Maxey sought to inspire. What will the great-grandchildren of today’s Ephs think of us? What will they remember and what will they forget?

1st Lt Nate Krissoff ’03, USMC died eight years ago today. For the first year after his death, we maintained a link at the upper right to our collection of related posts, as sad and inspiring as anything you will ever read at EphBlog. Yet that link came down. Time leaves behind the bravest of our Williams warriors and Nate’s sacrifice now passes from News to History, joining the roll call of honored heroes back to Colonel Ephraim Williams, who died in battle during the Bloody Morning Scout on September 8, 1755.

More than 250 years have marched by from Ephraim’s death to Nate’s. But the traditions of military brotherhood and sacrifice are the same as they ever were, the same as they will ever be as long as Ephs stand willing to do violence against our enemies so that my daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters might sleep safely in their beds at night. Consider this moving ceremony in Iraq for Nate in the week after his death.

Before there was Taps, there was the final symbolic roll-call, unanswered. “Krissoff,” intoned Sergeant Major Kenneth Pickering.

“Lt. Krissoff.”

“1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff.”

By culture and custom, the Marine Corps is given to ritual and none so important as the farewell to comrades who have fallen in battle. And so the memorial service here for 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff, intelligence officer for the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, was both stylized and achingly intimate.

The author, Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times, captures perfectly the ethos of the Marine Corps. During Officer Candidate School, our Platoon Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant Anderson, sang a haunting song of blood and sacrifice. The chorus went:

Let me tell you how I feel.
Why Marines must fight and die?

I can only remember snatches now, twenty five years later. It was a short song, repeated slowly, with emotion. For years, I have looked for the words to that plaintive melody, the eternal warrior’s lament of pain and suffering. Gunny Anderson only sang it with our platoon a handful of times, only when he felt that we were worthy of inclusion in the brotherhood of arms.

The last of those times was near the end of our training. At OCS, the fun-filled day begins with PT (physical training) at around 0500. Our entire company (200 men) is standing at attention in the humid Virginia morning. Back in July, there had been plenty of light to start exercising that early, but, by August, the later sunrise left us all waiting in darkness.

Gunny Anderson had the “duty” that morning, so he was the only member of the staff present. The others, well aware of the timing of sunrise, would be along shortly. Gunny Andersen, recognizing that graduation day was near and that he had us all to himself, led the entire company in that song, including the other platoons who had never heard it before.

And he did it in a whisper. We all stood there — having survived almost 10 weeks of brutal training, shouting our lungs out day after day — and whispered the song with him, 200 voices joined with the spirits of the Marines who had gone before us. Nate is with those spirits now. When the next Eph Marine is marching on that same parade deck during OCS, Nate will be watching him as well.

I remember the name of my platoon sergeant from 25 years ago. My father still remembers the name of his platoon sergeant from 55 years before. Let none of us forget the sacrifices of Marines like Nate and Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Krissoff, 25, a champion swimmer and kayaker in college, was killed Dec. 9 by a roadside bomb that also injured other Marines. Hundreds of grim-faced Marines who knew Krissoff came to the Chapel of Hope, the converted Iraqi Army auditorium, for the service.

“We have a bond here, we have a family here,” said Staff Sgt. Allan Clemons, his voice breaking as he delivered a eulogy. “Nathan was part of that family.”

There were embraces, but not in the sobbing style one might see at a civilian funeral. The Marines put arms around another and slapped each others’ backs — the sound was like repeated rifle reports in the cavernous hall. Navy Cmdr. Mark Smith, a Presbyterian chaplain, said later he has seen Marines do this at other memorials. “They need to touch each other,” he said. “I’ve heard them talk about ‘hugging it out.’ But they want to do it in a manly way.”

By all accounts, Krissoff was a charismatic leader who had impressed his superiors and earned the trust of his subordinates.

War always takes the best of my Marines.

Civilians may not recognize the meaning of the first person possessive in that last sentence, may attribute its usage to my megalomania. Indeed, to avoid that confusion, my initial instinct was to write “our Marines.”

Yet that is not the way that real Marines think about our Corps. Despite defending an independent, freedom-loving country, the Marines are fundamentally socialist in outlook. Everything belongs to every individual. This is not just my rifle or my uniform, but my tank and my obstacle course. And what is mine is yours. See the bootcamp scenes from Full Metal Jacket for an introduction to an outlook as far away from Williams College as Falluja is from Williamstown.

At OCS, the worst sin is not to be slow or stupid or weak, although all these sins are real enough. The worst sin is to be selfish, to be an “individual,” to care more about what happens to you then what happens to your squad, your platoon, your battalion or your Corps. What happens to you, as an individual, is irrelevant.

When the instructors at OCS are angry with you (and they get angry with everyone), they will scream: “What are you? A freakin’ individual? Is that what you are? A freakin’ individual?”

To get the full effect of this instruction, you need to imagine it being shouted from 5 inches away by the loudest voice you have ever heard.

When they shouted it at me, I was sorely tempted to respond:

Yes! Indeed! I am an individual! Four hundred of years of Enlightenment philosophy have demonstrated that this is true. My degree in philosophy from Williams College has taught me that I, as an individual, have value, that my needs and wants are not subservient to those of the larger society, that I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For once, I kept my mouth shut.

In quieter moments at OCS, I recalled Rousseau’s parable of the Spartan mother from Emile.

A Spartan mother had five sons in the army and awaited news of the battle. A Helot arrived; trembling she asked his news. “Your five sons have been killed.” “Vile slave, was that what I asked you?” “We have won the victory.” She ran to the temple to give thanks to the gods. That was a citizen.

For Rousseau, there are two ways for a man to be free. First, he can live alone, cut off from humankind but self-sufficient. He needs no one. Second, a man can be a citizen and so, like the Spartan mother, unconcerned with his own, and his family’s, well-being. All that matters is the polis.

A Marine is many things, but not a freakin’ individual.

The article continues:

He grew up in Truckee, Nev., graduated from Williams College, majoring in international relations, and hoped someday to work for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Lt. Col. William Seely, the battalion commander, talked of the silence left by death of Krissoff and other Marines. “When we depart these lands, when we deploy home, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the long silence of our friends,” he said. “Nathan…your silence will be deafening.”

If there was mourning, there was also anger that, as the chaplain said, Krissoff “was taken from us by evil men.”

This is true and false. Marines do not sympathize with the insurgents whom they battle but they do empathize with them. “Clifton Chapel” by Sir Henry Newbolt describes this duality in the oath that every warrior takes.

To set the cause above renown,
To love the game beyond the prize,
To honour, while you strike him down,
The foe that comes with fearless eyes;
To count the life of battle good,
And dear the land that gave you birth,
And dearer yet the brotherhood
That binds the brave of all the earth.

Most of those responsible for Krissoff’s death are now themselves dead, killed in battle by Krissoff’s fellow Marines.

Among the readings and quotations was the classic from World War I, “In Flanders Fields.” The poem challenges the living to continue the fight and not break faith with the dead: “Take up our quarrel with the foe/To you from failing hands we throw/The torch: be yours to hold it high….”

I did not know, when I first wrote of Nate’s death, that his fellow Marines would also be using “In Flanders Fields” as a way of memorializing his sacrifice. Who will take up the torch thrown by Nate? Are there any Williams students heading to OCS this coming summer? Are there no warriors left among the Ephs?

Williams College in the World War opens with a call for remembrance.


The text, by Solomon Bulkley Griffin, class of 1872, begins:

The wave of full-hearted devotion that rose in the World War has receded from its crest, as must have been in times more normal. But never will there be forgetfulness of it. Memory of the glory that wave bore aloft is the priceless possession of all the colleges.

The service of Williams men enshrined in this volume is of abiding import. By it the past was made glorious, as the future will be shadowed while it is illumined. Natural it was to go forward when God quickened the souls of men to serve the need of the world, and so they held themselves fortunate.

Indeed. Yet are Griffin’s assurances that we have nothing to fear from “forgetfulness” correct? I worry, and not just because of the contempt with which faculty members like Mark Taylor treat the US military. Consider the College’s official description of the most prestigious prize at Williams, the only award presented on graduation day.

WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER CITIZENSHIP PRIZE. From a fund established in memory of William Bradford Turner, 1914, who was killed in action in France in September, 1918, a cash prize is awarded to the member of the graduating class who, in the judgment of the faculty and of the graduating class, has best fulfilled her or his obligations to the College, to fellow students, and to self. The committee of award, appointed by the President of the College, is composed jointly of faculty members and members of the graduating class.

Was Williams Bradford Turner ’14 just a soldier who was “killed in action in France?” Does this description do justice to Turner or is it an example of the “forgetfulness” that Griffin thought unlikely? Consider:


He led a small group of men to the attack, under terrific artillery and machinegun fire, after they had become separated from the rest of the company in the darkness. Single-handed he rushed an enemy machinegun which had suddenly opened fire on his group and killed the crew with his pistol. He then pressed forward to another machinegun post 25 yards away and had killed 1 gunner himself by the time the remainder of his detachment arrived and put the gun out of action. With the utmost bravery he continued to lead his men over 3 lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one as they advanced, regardless of the fact that he had been wounded 3 times, and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand encounters. After his pistol ammunition was exhausted, this gallant officer seized the rifle of a dead soldier, bayoneted several members of a machinegun crew, and shot the other. Upon reaching the fourth-line trench, which was his objective, 1st Lt. Turner captured it with the 9 men remaining in his group and resisted a hostile counterattack until he was finally surrounded and killed.

The most important prize awarded by Williams College is named in honor of a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and virtually no one at Williams knows it. If Williams today does not remember that 1st Lt William Bradford Turner ’14 won the Congressional Medal of Honor, then who will remember 1st Lt Nathanial Krissoff ’03 one hundred years from now?

Both died for us, for ALMA MATER, for Williams and the West.

Krissoff’s brothers bade him farewell in Anbar just one year ago.

When the roll-call and Taps were finished, the Marines came single-file to the altar to kneel in front of an inverted rifle with a helmet placed on the buttstock. Each was alone in his grief.

As are we all.

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All great stories are tragedies, and the sad tale of Mayo Shattuck ’76, Molly Shattuck (pictured below), and their three children is no different.


Start by reading our coverage from 8 years ago. Then read the news from last month.

Molly Shattuck, the former Ravens cheerleader who was married to onetime Constellation Energy CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III, was arrested Wednesday and charged with third-degree rape and unlawful sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy, Delaware State Police said.

Read the full story for all the sad, sordid details. I don’t expect to write many follow up posts. Life is too short. But I can resist highlighting some of my forecasts from 8 years ago.

In any event, he ended up with someone a decade younger and, probably, much less intelligent. (This might be unfair to wife #2 [Molly] but her educational background does not scream out “Intellectual!”)

Lots of people took issue with this claim. Any doubters now?

Mayo seems to have no regrets.

“Suddenly”, says her 50-year-old husband, “I’m married to an NFL Cheerleader! How good is that?”

Not as good, I think, as being married to the woman you met at Williams, the women you promised to love and to cherish until death do you part.

Does Mayo wish he had stayed with wife #1? I don’t know. With each passing year, I appreciate more and more my marriage to an Eph woman. Most Williams men (with Williams wive) I know feel the same.

Age, alas, catches up with all of us eventually. Fortunately, there are other, younger, cheerleaders, at least some of whom would like to meet a man like Mayo, would like to spend some time in his world. How good is that, indeed? If I were Molly, I would take care that no marketing assistants, much less cheerleaders, “run into” Mayo anytime soon.

If you believe the comment section in People Magazine, Mayo has already moved on.

Shattuck did not make it that far in his first marriage and, I’d wager, is unlikely to make it that far in his second. (Does anyone know the divorce statistics on second marriages? On second marriages in which there is a 10+ year age difference? On such marriages for rich men who are under 50?)

Mayo and Molly divorced last month. Always trust contact from EphBlog.

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I first wrote about Mayo Shattuck ’76 and his wife Molly 8 years ago. Below is a very slightly edited version of that post. See the original comment thread for lots of fun discussion. There has been news about Molly recently, which I will cover on Monday.

Back in 2008, we were getting a lot of Google hits for “Mayo Shattuck wife”. Our (innocuous) page was #3. The reason was this New York Times article on the search for the next NFL commissioner. Shattuck ’76 was one of the five finalists (although the fix seems was in for the internal candidate).

If the owners of National Football League teams agree to hire Mayo A. Shattuck III as the league’s commissioner this week, he would have to resign his current job — and his wife, Molly, might have to quit hers, too.

Mr. Shattuck, 51, is the C.E.O. of the Constellation Energy Group, a Baltimore-based utility that is being acquired by the FPL Group. Mrs. Shattuck, 39, is a cheerleader for her husband’s favorite N.F.L. team, the Baltimore Ravens.

He would forfeit as much as $23 million of cash and stock in postmerger compensation, but could earn as much as $8 million a year as commissioner. She presumably earns a lot less for shaking her pompoms.


More on Shattuck here. The #1 ranked page for “Mayo Shattuck wife” reported:

D’oh! Hot Blonde Cheerleader for Baltimore Ravens is Actually 38-Year-Old Married Mother of Three – Molly Shattuck is not your average NFL cheerleader. Yes, she’s a perky blonde in great shape, but she also happens to be about 15 years older than most of the other woman on the squad, married and the mother of three. Molly Shattuck also happens to be the trophy–I mean second–wife of Mayo Shattuck, 50, the chief executive of Constellation Energy, a Baltimore-based Fortune 500 company. (Mayo reportedly still has strong corporate ties to the Ravens, helped sell the team to its present owners in the late 1990s while serving as the president of the investment bank Alex Brown.) By all accounts Molly earned a spot on the squad fair and square, based on her good looks and athletic ability (she comes from a long line of cheerleaders) not using her last name on the application form to get any kind of special treatment from the judges when she tried out last March. Now, in addition to running after her kids (all under the age of six), does Martha Stewart-style home crafts by the truckload, hosts elaborate fundraisers . . . and dances around is a crop top and short shorts for thousands of drooling Ravens fans each weekend.

“Trophy wife” is interesting terminology. Shattuck’s first wife, an Eph, is about 13 years older than his second. Very rich men, like Shattuck, seem to have a habit of marrying second wives that are much younger than their first. Wonder why? You can bet that our web searchers want to find pictures of wife #2 and not wife #1. Here is what they are looking for.


Creepiest picture ever on EphBlog or just an artifact from a culture with practices different from our own? You be the judge!

I wanted to write a much longer post on this topic for a long time but lack the eloquence and empathy for the task. See Professor Sam Crane on marriage as duty.

Duty is not a popular idea in contemporary America: it tends to be overwhelmed by notions of fun and self-interest and frolic in our youth-oriented, celebrity-driven popular culture. But, beyond the bright lights and front pages, duty is what defines the lives of most Americans. We discover ourselves in our committed actions toward others, most often family members but also neighbors and community groups and ideals larger than ourselves.

Sam has been married for more than 30 years. (Congratulations!) Shattuck did not make it that far in his first marriage and, I’d wager, is unlikely to make it that far in his second. (Does anyone know the divorce statistics on second marriages? On second marriages in which there is a 10+ year age difference? On such marriages for rich men who are under 50?)

Of course, this might not be Shattuck’s fault. Goodness knows that I have female acquaintances who have ended marriages for reasons that seemed (to me) shallow. Perhaps wife #1 insisted on a divorce despite his pleas to try to work things out. Perhaps he wanted to seek marriage counseling and she refused. In any event, he ended up with someone a decade younger and, probably, much less intelligent. (This might be unfair to wife #2 but her educational background does not scream out “Intellectual!”)

Apologies for the cruelty. There is a tendency for Ephs to value the things that got us into Williams, that mattered to our parents and professors: intellectual accomplishment and ambition. Who is to say that brains are more important than beauty, in a person or in a wife? No doubt my feminist friends regularly decry the habit of rich men to discard their wives for younger, better-looking women. Should we lament this example? Could you begrudge Mayo and Molly some happiness after reading this?

The coming football season will be the first in seven years that Shattuck isn’t expecting a baby or nursing one. Motherhood has been a struggle for her since her first pregnancy, when she went into pre-term labor at a Ravens game. Although she has borne three healthy children, she has miscarried five times. After months of bed rest and the birth of her youngest child, 2-year-old Lillian, she decided not to have more.

Shattuck needed something to take her mind off this unfamiliar sense of emptiness. She considered law school, or mountain climbing.

Instead, she found happiness in a 9-inch purple skirt.

We all find happiness in different places. Could any reader of EphBlog deny Molly hers? Perhaps. Consider Linda Hirshman’s observation that the choices some women make affect the options of others. And look what happens in the skybox.

In the Constellation Energy skybox last week, Mayo Shattuck managed to look both forlorn and delighted, switching from camcorder to digital camera to brand-new binoculars as he searched for a figure four stories down and half a football field away. He could just make out her face above a pair of churning pompoms.

“Just watch,” he said. “That smile will never come off.”

He was grinning pretty hard himself, flanked by executive buddies, some casting hopeful glances at their own wives.

Hmmm. And what glances did those wives cast in return? The choices that Molly Shattuck makes affect more than just her own life and those of her family. Her choices affect all of us. The wives of those executives are unlikely to be cheerleader material, just as their husbands would not stand a chance at linebacker. But Molly’s choice changes the framework in which those executives think about the meaning of “wife” or, perhaps more distressingly, “second wife.”

You can be sure that some of the cheerleaders on Molly’s squad would welcome the chance to live her life, to marry a man who might provide for them in the manner in which Mayo provides for her. Those cheerleaders, many of whom did not go to college and almost all of whom went to colleges unlike those attended by Mayo’s “executive buddies,” deserve a chance at the happiness they see in Molly. Perhaps she could introduce them to some of the men in the skybox.

All of which raises the question: Who introduced Molly and Mayo?

Molly Shattuck became her husband’s second wife in 1997, a few years after meeting him at Alex. Brown, where she worked in marketing.

Hmmm. This sentence calls for some deconstruction. Shattuck had been president of Alex Brown since 1991, when his son Mayo ’03 and daughter Kathleen ’05 were 10 and 8. Does a “few years” mean back to 1991, when Shattuck first moved to Baltimore? Consider this tidbit.

But Shattuck also learned that life in the limelight meant his private life would be fodder for the media and water cooler talk. A 1995 Baltimore Sun article reported his divorce from his first wife Jennifer after nearly 20 years of marriage and suggested that his busy schedule hampered his family life. Shattuck remarried in 1997 to Molly George Shattuck, who used to be director of the Pikesville Sylvan Learning Center.

“Busy schedule” huh? Well, something/someone was doing some hampering. Why do I think that the Sun article reported more than this? Note that this Business Journal puff-piece omits the fact that Molly used to work at Alex Brown. Call me suspicious, but I think that this omission tells us something about when Molly and Mayo met. Hint: It was before Mayo’s divorce in 1995. My speculation ends there, but perhaps a reader with access to Nexis could provide the 1995 Sun article.

Perhaps this explains how Molly and Mayo met.

Best Move: When she was still working as a marketing assistant, walking out of an office backwards while talking to a colleague – and almost literally sweeping stranger Mayo of his feet. “I met him by running into him,” she says. “I almost knocked the guy over.”

Marketing assistant meets company president. A classic love story.

Mayo seems to have no regrets.

“Suddenly”, says her 50-year-old husband, “I’m married to an NFL Cheerleader! How good is that?”

Not as good, I think, as being married to the woman you met at Williams, the women you promised to love and to cherish until death do you part. But there is a problem in the land of how-good-is-that.

She’s received national attention for being one of the oldest cheerleaders in the NFL, and now 38-year-old Ravens cheerleader Molly Shattuck is hanging up her pom-poms and saying goodbye to the job she made her professional career.

Looks like Mayo and his executive buddies will no longer be able to oogle Molly from the comfort of the skybox. Age, alas, catches up with all of us eventually. Fortunately, there are other, younger, cheerleaders, at least some of whom would like to meet a man like Mayo, would like to spend some time in his world. How good is that, indeed? If I were Molly, I would take care that no marketing assistants, much less cheerleaders, “run into” Mayo anytime soon.

In any event, I am not up to the task of a good post. Perhaps some of our readers are. What duties do Eph husbands and wives owe to each other? What duties do we all owe to spouse #1? What do you tell friends who are thinking of divorce?

Those were my thoughts 8 years ago. Come back Monday for an update.

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The most prominent Eph on the this-happened side of the Rolling Stone story about a horrific rape at UVA is Jennifer Doleac ’03. See our discussion on Tuesday. The most prominent Eph on the this-may-not-have-happened side is former Williams professor KC Johnson. Johnson covers some of the same ground as other skeptics, but, even more compellingly, he brings his encyclopedic knowledge about the Duke Lacrosse Hoax to bear:

In the end, Rolling Stone’s message is “trust us.” Erdely vouches for Jackie’s credibility, and that’s good enough for the magazine. But that editorial style requires readers to take a hard look at Erdely’s credibility. And in that task, more troubling questions emerge.

But then there’s the person Erdely describes “attorney Wendy Murphy, who has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA.”

While Erdely elects not to inform her readers, Murphy has a past as a commenter on high-profile campus rape cases. In the lacrosse case, she repeatedly misstated (and on some occasions simply made up) “facts” designed to make the lacrosse players look guilty. To take a few examples, Murphy (on national TV) wildly claimed, “I bet one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” She later asserted, “I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way.” Murphy falsely stated, “All the photographs showing how really fine [lacrosse accuser Crystal Mangum] was when she left scene were doctored, where the date stamp was actually fraudulent.” The attorney falsely told a national TV audience that “all” of the lacrosse players took the Fifth Amendment. (None of them had, and three had voluntarily given statements to police without their attorneys present.) Murphy fantasized about non-existent “broomstick DNA” and the “torn genitalia” of the accuser.

What does it say about Erdely’s credibility—upon which, in the end, the story relies—that she is willing to uncritically quote from a charlatan like Murphy, all while not informing readers of her source’s grievous misstatements of facts on a previous high-profile allegation of campus sexual assault?

Nothing good. Either Erdley is foolish for not understanding/researching Murphy’s background or (even worse?) she is purposely misleading her readers but not providing us with this crucial information.

By the way, if there are other Ephs writing about this issue, please leave links in our comments.

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Is this the most ridiculous all-student e-mail by a Williams administrator in a decade or an EphBlog spoof?

From: Sarah Bolton <>
Date: Mon Nov 24 2014 at 9:34:50 PM
Subject: Tonight
To: <>

Dear Students,

Tonight the grand jury announced that there would be no indictment in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. No one will be held legally responsible for his death, and yet he was killed, and terribly so. Tonight communities across the country stand together in solidarity, seeking justice and an end to racism, so that all people can be safe from harm in their communities.

I write tonight in support of all who are thinking of Ferguson and of Michael Brown’s family, whether in gatherings or alone. And, I write in hope that all in the Williams community will continue to work to end racism in all of its forms — with all that we have.

Dean Bolton

1) EphBlog has a long history of parodying administration communication. If we just showed you this e-mail without commentary, would you think it real or fake?

2) It is real! Let’s examine the e-mail that Dean Bolton did not send:

From: Sarah Bolton <>
Date: Dec 1 2014 at 9:34:50 PM
Subject: Tonight
To: <>

Dear Students,

Tonight police charged a third person in connection with the brutal murder of Zemir Begic. Tonight communities across the country stand together in solidarity, seeking justice and an end to racism, so that all people can be safe from harm in their communities.

I write tonight in support of all who are thinking of St. Louis and of Zemir Begic’s family, whether in gatherings or alone. And, I write in hope that all in the Williams community will continue to work to end racism in all of its forms — with all that we have.

Dean Bolton

Background reading from CNN here. Why does Dean Bolton write all students about the death of a black man but not the death of a white man? Because the central rule of public morality at Williams is that black deaths matter but white deaths don’t.

3) Just a service to our readers, here is Michael Brown robbing a convenience store minutes before his encounter with officer Wilson.

Of course, robbery (especially of short, brown, immigrant shop keepers?) does not merit getting shot by police, but Bolton seems blind to the complexities of this case, to the fact that lots of people — probably including a majority of Americans — think that “justice” was, in fact, served by the grand jury’s decision to not indict Wilson.

4) A better Williams Dean would not send out this e-mail in the first place. Instead of worrying about events in far-away Missouri, she would worry about events on campus, events that she is responsible for and might even have some control over.

5) A better college would, instead of e-mailing students vacuous calls “end to racism,” organize a campus conversation, or even debate, about the Brown shooting, would challenge all sides in the dispute to re-examine their assumptions and conclusions. Is Williams that sort of college? I don’t know.

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Jennifer Doleac ’03, an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy University of Virginia, is a long time EphBlog favorite, mainly because of her excellent senior thesis about predicting student achievement at Williams. She is currently involved in issues of campus safety at UVA, now much in the news because of this Rolling Stone story about an horrific gang rape at UVA two years ago. Jennifer tweeted:


The problem is that, more and more, people are questioning the truth of the Rolling Stone story.

Would readers be interested in more coverage of this topic?

In any event, this should be another occasion for Adam Falk, and everyone else in the Williams administration, to thank John Sawyer ’39 for getting rid of fraternities from Williams 50 years ago.

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A 2012 column from the Boston Globe:

His name is Mayo Shattuck III, and when the authoritative book about the absurd income disparities that have come to dominate America in the early 2000s is written, his smiling face will almost certainly be on the cover.

Raised in Cohasset and Hingham, educated at Williams, he is now the chief executive of the Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group, which happens to own four power generating plants around Boston, three in Everett and another in Weymouth.

But enough of the pleasantries, because here’s what Mayo Shattuck III was paid in 2010: $15.7 million. That’s $301,000 a week, or almost exactly twice poor Tom May’s package. So the Constellation Energy Group must be an unbelievably well-run company, right? Well, no. Actually, the company lost $1 billion one recent year, barely avoided bankruptcy, aborted one merger already, and saw its stock plunge from over $100 a share to the low $20s, all with Mayo Shattuck III at the helm.

The Maryland governor has complained about Mayo Shattuck III’s pay, as has the editorial page of the Baltimore Sun, members of the Maryland Legislature, and some of the largest Constellation shareholders, but to no avail. Mayo Shattuck III also chairs the company’s board, the same board that sets his pay, whose members make a minimum of $195,000 a year in cash and stock for nominal work.

Even the company that Constellation is currently merging with, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., has sent hints that it doesn’t want any part of him, but has agreed to make him executive chairman just to get the deal done.

So what is Mayo Shattuck III good at? Golf. And at that, he’s great, sporting a handicap so low that a leading golf magazine ranked him as one of the 10 best golfing CEOs in the nation. For that honor, his board probably gave him another raise.

The Alumni Office will want to invite Mayo out for a round of golf at Taconic as it ramps up planning for the next capital campaign.

Want to do something about executive pay at large (public) companies? Easy! Do this:

The SEC should pass a regulation requiring that all publicly traded companies allow their shareholders to vote on the following (binding) resolution each year.

“The total compensation of both the CEO and the CFO shall not exceed $1 million in the coming fiscal year.”

Those who dislike government meddling in business have little to complain of here since the government isn’t telling any business how to set salaries. The government is just requiring that business owners be allowed to vote on a specific option.

What would happen of such a regulation were in place? Senior executives would complain long and loudly. Many large shareholders — especially pension funds — would gladly vote for lower compensation. Many mutual funds would feel pressured to do so. My guess is that the resolution would pass at many companies.

There would then be significant (downward) pressure on executive salaries across the board. If you’re the CEO/CFO of a big company, there are very few employees who you think should be paid more than you are. Of course, this won’t allow you to pay people (much) less than they could get elsewhere, but the number of people for whose services the “market” is willing to pay more than $1 million per year is small. The very best baseball players, rock stars, entrepreneurs and Wall Street traders would still make millions, but only because any attempt to lower their pay would cause them to go elsewhere with their talents.

Some would say that this plan won’t work since the companies whose shareholders agree to pay more than $1 million per year (whether they be public or private companies) will snap up all the “best” executive talent. Maybe. But, our ability to measure executive talent is so limited that it would be hard for any company to easily identify a CEO candidate who is significantly better than many other candidates for the job.

There is a sense in which such a scheme, if implemented, would amount to implicit collusion among the employers of senior executives. Perhaps. But collusion in the service of class warfare is no vice.

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Purple Valley Capital is run by Don Wieczorek ’08. Is he the next Andreas Halvorsen ’86 or Chase Coleman ’97? Time will tell. Is there an 11 year sunspot-like cycle to Eph investment success? You have to like the firm name he choose . . .

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A moving post from Professor Sam Crane:

It is a perfect Thanksgiving morning here in Northwestern Massachusetts: a light snow, about 2 inches on the ground; a chill air; great conditions to be inside and cooking and eating all day. Aidan and I are here by ourselves, however. Maureen and Maggie are down in New York City, attending the famous parade. So, we will do the whole feast thing tomorrow. Today will be just about pie baking: I have a couple of small pumpkins to bake and make into a pie. If I feel ambitious, perhaps an apple pie will follow. That will make the house warm and comfortable.

We are supposed to be thankful today, and I am. But as I give thanks I can’t help wondering: for what am I giving thanks and to whom? As is my want, I fall back on Taoism to help clarify my thoughts. And, through that exercise, I come to a somewhat startling realization: I give thanks for Aidan and his profound disability. I know that sounds a bit bizarre – how could a parent be thankful for a child’s disability? – but, as I think through it, I am happy to say that I am.

Read the whole thing. Aidan left us eight years ago, but his memory and spirit live on, not just in those who knew him personally but in all those touched my Sam’s writing. Try as hard as I might, I worry that I will never be half the father to my daughters that Sam was to his son.

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Nice article from the Boston Globe about George Bush ’50.

George Bush was partying in the Gillette Stadium parking lot.

No, not that George Bush.

No, not the other George Bush, either.

This would be George F. Bush, a Patriots season-ticket holder for 44 years who was celebrating his 88th birthday with a marble cake before the Patriots and Bears kicked off on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

It wasn’t the first time Bush had seen the Patriots play the Bears. He was in New Orleans when the 1985 Bears throttled the Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX.

On Sunday, Bush proudly sported his hat from that game.

“It’s the only one in the whole stadium, that’s why I wear it,” said Bush, who sits in Section 108, Row 18, behind the Patriots’ bench.

Bush, a Turners Falls native and 1950 graduate of Williams College, proudly carries a flip card in his back pocket.

One on side is the picture he took with George H.W. Bush at a Williams College commencement ceremony.

When the lefthanded George H.W. played first base for Yale (Class of 1948) and faced Williams College, George F., a second baseman, was in the opposing dugout.

“I went up to him, and said I’m George Bush, too, can I have a picture,” George F. recalled asking the country’s 41st president at the commencement ceremony.

“He said sure, and the Secret Service allowed it. I told him I played baseball against him at Yale. He asked, ‘How’d we do?’ I said, ‘You beat us good.’”

When George F. mailed a photocopy of the picture to Houston hoping it would get signed, George H.W. obliged and sent it back.

On the other side of the flip card is a picture Bush took with another prominent George – the late George Steinbrenner, who graduated from Williams in 1952 before becoming owner of the Yankees.

“No, I didn’t hang out with him. If I had known he’d own the Yankees, that’d be a different story,” Bush quipped.

On Sunday, Bush was celebrating his birthday, which was actually Oct. 8., with 10 of his friends, some of whom were his students at Turners Falls High School, where he taught history for 30 years before retiring in 1982.

There was Terry Bernard, who graduated in 1981, and Jean Koldis, who graduated in 1961.

“These were the best students I’ve ever had,” said Bush, who also served in the Navy from 1944-46 and toured in the Pacific during World War II.

Terry’s husband Dave has been driving the two-hour trek from Turners Falls, with George riding shotgun, the last four years, and gets to sit with him during games.

Dave is the fourth driver because George has outlived the other three.

“He said to me, ‘You know what, Dave? All my other drivers have passed away.’ And I said, ‘Thanks a lot,’ ” Dave Bernard joked.

During the long rides, the conversations are extensive.

While Bush said he is starting to feel his age physically, his memory is as sharp as a tack.

“He’s unbelievable,” Bernard said. “We talk about whatever he wants. I just listen.”

Will someone be driving me around when I am 88? Will someone be driving you around, dear reader? Perhaps we should start living our lives the way that George Bush ’50 has led his.

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From the Eagle a few weeks ago:

Saturday afternoon in Williamstown, Williams College dedicated its Weston Field sports complex. The complex includes Farley-Lamb Field, the new home of the Williams football and lacrosse teams.

The Farley part of Farley-Lamb is retired football coach Dick Farley, who is one of two national Hall of Fame coaches I have worked with in my career. The other is Wayne Hardin, who coached Roger Staubach at Navy. It was an honor to cover both.

Farley was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He retired in 2003 after spending 32 years as an assistant and head coach at Williams. He spent 17 years as the head coach, compiling a 114-19-3 record, a mark that included five undefeated seasons.

Here’s a stat for you: Farley lost the first three games of his head coaching career and then went the next 128 games before losing back-to-back contests.

I started covering Williams just as the Ephs had the first of his five undefeated seasons and was there throughout the Farley years.

There are too many great games and wins to chronicle here. But it’s the last tie on Farley’s record that stands out.

It was in November, 1995, when Williams and Amherst played on a Saturday morning in a game televised by ESPN2.

The game was played on a Weston Field turf that looked like a green-painted dark side of the moon.

It was painted over the green sawdust that legendary groundskeeper George Toma came in to try to fix the field.

It was the last tie game in college football history, a 0-0 deadlock that the Lord Jeffs looked at as a win. In essence, so did Farley.

“Everybody played eight games in the league,” he said. “If I’m not mistaken, I think there was one team [Williams] that didn’t lose a game.”

Williams was 7-0-1.

But when I think of Dick Farley, one quote always sticks in my mind.

“If you can’t play here, you can’t play anywhere,” he once said. “There is no Division IV.”


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For the benefit of future historians, here is the current listing of the “Senior Staff” of Williams College.


Note that, ten years ago, the College somehow managed to muddle through without a Chief Investment Officer, a Vice President for Campus Life or a Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer. How did we ever manage! Fortunately, the aggregate salary for these three individuals isn’t too much over a million dollars. So, stop your complaining about the increase in administrative bloat at Williams! It’s a bargain, I tell you, a bargain . . .

Update: In August, the Senior Staff listing included Mike Reed ’75. This was before his recent departure. Reed’s position, Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, was another job that did not exist at the College 10 years ago, presumably because . . . Morty did not like black people? . . . I kid, I kid.

Summary: Just a decade ago, almost have of the current senior staff positions at Williams did not exist. The College’s constantly increasing wealth — and the natural tendencies of all bureaucracies — have led to absurd amounts of administrative bloat. Odds of Adam Falk doing anything to reign in this trend? Close to zero.

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Stacy’s Mom by Eph band Fountains of Wayne was probably the most commercially successful song by Williams alumni during the 2000′s. (If not, what was?)

I don’t think that either Chris Collingwood ’89 and Adam Schlesinger ’89 have been won Bicentennial Medals yet. Consider this EphBlog’s nomination.

Careful readers will note that this post marks the end of our one week experiment in nothing-but-good news. Does this video connect to a less-than-good-news story we might have in store for Monday? Stay tuned!

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Did all our readers spend yesterday exploring Williams history via JSTOR? No? That’s OK. EphBlog dug up this 1956 pdf for you.


Throughout his long and useful life, Karl Ephraim Weston was identified with Williams College, where he served as Amos Lawrence professor of art and director of the Lawrence Art Museum, which he founded.

The article, by Weston’s student and colleague, Professor S. Lane Faison ’29, is a wonderful eulogy. Read the whole thing. How many professors at Williams will be remembered as fondly by their students as Weston (class of 1896) was by Faison?

For the next 15 years he taught the history of art single-handed until mounting enrollment in his courses made necessary the addition of an instructor to assist him, and an addition to Lawrence Hall to contain his students. At a time when the field enjoyed no such nation-wide boom as is now in evidence he attracted on the average of over half of the entire student body to his instruction.

Weston’s role in the rise of Art History at Williams would make for a great senior thesis. Was he the key figure in making Williams the best college in NESCAC (or in the world?) for a student interested in Art History?

Prof. Weston was instrumental in the decision by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sterling Clark to place their extraordinary collection of art in Williamstown, and he served on the board of directors which they founded.

Is “instrumental” a statement of historical fact or a generous compliment by a former student and close friend? Hard to know. Wikipedia reports:

They [Robert and Francine Clark] visited Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1949 and began having conversations with town leader and the administrators of Williams College and the Williams College Museum of Art. Sterling had ties to the college through his grandfather and father, both of whom had been trustees. A charter for the Clark was signed on March 14, 1950 and the Institute opened to the public on May 17, 1955.

Want to write a senior thesis that dozens of people would read? Tell the story of how the Clark came to Williamstown.

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JSTOR (short for Journal STORage) is

a digital library founded in 1995. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now also includes books and primary sources, and current issues of journals. It provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals.

If you are interested in academic issues, JSTOR is an invaluable resource. And — Good News! — several years ago Williams arranged for it to be free to alumni. Just click on this link. (You might have to first login to the Williams alumni site. You can find the direct link to JSTOR under “My Reports.”)

Kudos to the College for making this resource available to alumni. Do readers make much use if it? I do!

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Bethany McLean ’92 has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times: “A House Is Not a Credit Card.”

This fall, federal regulators made a controversial decision to back down from tough new underwriting standards for mortgages. Some affordable-housing advocates, allied with parts of the corporate housing industry, had successfully argued that the proposed standards would make it too hard for people to qualify, thereby reducing homeownership and hurting the housing market. Last summer, that same trump card stopped a bipartisan bill to reform the mortgage market, more than six years after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be taken over by the government.

All of this ignores a crucial fact: Much, and at times most, of what happens in the mortgage market doesn’t have anything to do with homeownership. A sizable percentage of mortgages — including most of the risky ones that were made in the run-up to the financial crisis — are not used to buy a home. They’re used to refinance an existing mortgage. When home prices are rising and mortgage rates are falling, many homeowners choose to replace their mortgage with a bigger one, taking the difference in cash. In other words, mortgages are a way to provide credit.

Read the whole thing. McLean is exactly right on the history and politics of home mortgages.

One of the most abjectly false narratives about the financial crisis is that risky mortgages proliferated so that people who couldn’t afford homes could nonetheless buy them. Modern subprime lending was not about homeownership. Instead, the 1990s crop of subprime mortgage makers allowed people with bad credit to borrow against the equity in their existing homes. According to a joint HUD-Treasury report published in 2000, by 1999, a staggering 82 percent of subprime mortgages were refinancings, and in nearly 60 percent of those cases, the borrower pulled out cash, adding to his debt burden. The report noted that “relatively few subprime mortgages are used to purchase a house.”

I’ll always remember seeing a bank ad blowing in the windy, bleak Chicago winter of 2009. “Let your home take you on vacation,” it read.

Exactly correct.

Putting the financial crisis aside, the logic behind this is completely messed up. If we want homes to be a vehicle for saving and building wealth, as they used to be, why are we instead encouraging people to increase their indebtedness? Even worse, we now know that too much credit results in people who once owned their homes losing them. It creates homelessness, not homeownership.

The problem, of course, is that the conflation of homeownership and consumer credit is so convenient for the powers that be. It allows lenders to cloak themselves in the American-as-apple-pie mantle of homeownership, thereby making it less likely that anyone will crack down on their practices. It allows members of Congress, many of whom depend on the financial industry for campaign contributions, to pretend that something that’s bad for us is actually a good thing for which we should be grateful.


One possible solution would be much tougher standards for cash-out refinancings than for mortgages used for purchases, such as requiring far more equity in a home, or making lenders keep the loan on their own books instead of selling it. Or perhaps Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shouldn’t be allowed to guarantee payment on a mortgage unless it is used to purchase a primary residence.

Or, even better, wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If there were no government guarantees, there would be a lot fewer people with poor credit using refinancings to take vacations.

In Washington, there’s been scarce public discussion of this. But if we’re going to put government resources behind homeownership, and engage in practices that threaten the safety of the financial system in the name of homeownership, shouldn’t we at least talk about the fact that we’re actually encouraging the opposite?

We should.

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David Fehr provides this excellent preview of the recently commenced mens basketball season.

Key losses

Gone to graduation are Michael Mayer, Taylor Epley, and useful reserve John Weinheimer. Gone to (what for the young man’s sake we hope are bigger and better things) transfer is Duncan Robinson.

Mayer was a first-team All American and our leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. Robinson was our second leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, a 4th-team All American, and National D3 Rookie of the Year. Epley was our 3rd leading scorer and was All America in his junior year.


Daniel Wohl, Hayden Rooke-Ley (“Frito Lay”), Mike Greenman (who played wonderfully as a freshman when Rooke-Ley was on DL), Ryan Kilcullen, promising soph Dan Aronowitz.


Three guards but alas, no big men. My (usually reliable) source tells me that Cole Teal, 6-3 from Indiana, is likely to play right away and could eventually be an impact player. “Real Deal Teal.”


We get a break; the schedule is easier than last year. All teams from New England and eastern New York. No holiday trips down south to play the likes of Hampden-Sydney. (The holiday trip this year is to Salem – as in Salem, MA!) No Stevens. No Washington & Lee. 10 games at home, 12 away and two neutral. The two toughest non-league opponents could be Springfield (20-8; made NCAAs) and WPI (22-5; ranked; lost 1st round NCAA). We do have to make two trips to Maine (stupid scheduling by NESCAC which doesn’t seem to get much right), the first to meet Bowdoin and Colby, the other Bates and Tufts; winning all four would be very difficult. The Amherst league game (“the one that counts”) is at home.

NESCAC Opposition

I had been targeting this year as the one when we’d finally turn the tables on the Jeffs, because after tormenting us for nine years, Toomey finally graduated! But they have two very good centers returning, and over the last dozen or so years, the really good Williams teams (26 or more wins; going deep into NCAAs) had one or more excellent big men (Mayer; Whittington; Coffin; DeMuth). This year not so much in the paint (and last year we were an indifferent rebounding team, even with Mayer and Robinson) so that’s a big worry. We’ll score, but will we rebound and play enough D? Anyway, after creaming Amherst by 29 in the national semi-final game last March, the dubious record still stands: Amherst has won 8 of last 9, 19 of last 26 and 29 of last 44.

Amherst should win NESCAC yet again. Tufts (especially their front line) may have the second best talent in the league. Bowdoin’s Swords is not a great center but he is a legit 7-feet, something we don’t see much of around here. Middlebury may finally have run out of stars.

What the players say

Rooke-Ley is in a class I’m auditing and we’ve had two brief discussions about this team. He says the freshmen look good (in the informal, no-coaches-present workouts), and the team will do well: “We lose players every year and we replace them.” Wohl says “we’ll be better than you expect so don’t write us off.” OK, it’s what players should say, but are these two going to combine for 60 points a game? It could take that much.

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During our week of good news, what could be better than the Octet performing a Taylor Swift medley?

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A longtime EphBlogger responded to my request for requests by requesting a week’s worth of good news stories. Done! Let’s start with this impressive video of the new Weston athletic complex.

Give it a view! The production values are ESPN-level quality.

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From the Williams Alternative last May:

It has been a little over two years since the hate-crime in Prospect house, and our student body has not been informed of the results of the investigation or been given a timeline as to when we should expect some answers.

And don’t expect that to change, unless the Record gets more serious. The College prefers to flush these incidents down the porcelain memory hole, regardless of whether or not they are real or hoaxes. If they are real, then the College hardly wants to advertise itself to prospective students (and to alumni) as a hotbed of racism. If they are hoaxes, then the College’s PC immune system starts to attack itself.

In the aftermath of the incident students were ushered into “safe-spaces”, classes were suspended, and the entire community went into shock (the less said about the social-honor code idea the better). The President, the deans, many faculty members, and fellow students rushed to the aid of those who felt themselves to be under threat. While this response was admirable, it is important to push one salient observation: no one inquired into the possibility of the entire thing being a hoax.

I will not delve into the specifics of the crime due to legal concerns, but I will state a fact: there exists a common idea among the student body that the “hate-crime” was perpetrated by a minority student with ulterior motives.

At what point during our campus discussions following the event was such a possibility entertained: that a minority student had perpetrated the act, specifically in order to bring attention to minority-issues on campus and obtain benefits for their identity-group? Given the reactions of sympathy, attention, rev-evaluation and concession we observed it must be obvious that an incentive scheme exists for unscrupulous students to mimic genuine hate-crimes for their own gain, or merely to cause trouble.


1) EphBlog was not providing thorough campus coverage during this period. Sorry! Relevant Record articles here, here and here.

2) I have spoken with several different students over the past few years who believe that it was a hoax, one of whom claimed to know the student responsible. Is this a topic that EphBlog readers want us to pursue further? Recall it was EphBlog who unmasked Professor of Art Aida Laleian a decade ago.

3) Roger Kimball, in a somewhat overwrought column, made similar claims:

And this brings me to the second hypothesis about who was responsible for the offending graffito: namely, that it was the act of a minority student attempting to drum up campus hysteria and to produce a climate in which minority groups could press for more concessions from the College.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard from several campus sources that the culprit is known to students and is in fact a minority student. One source said it was “common knowledge” who the person was. Maybe so. Still, it is not officially recognized common knowledge. The Williamstown police said no arrest had been made. A Williams College administrator told me that he was “100 percent certain” that the culprit had not been discovered, despite the tireless efforts of campus security, the Williamstown police, and the FBI.

“One hundred percent certain” is pretty impressive. It’s nice to know that certitude is alive and well in Williamstown, Mass. It will be interesting to see how long it survives. In the meantime, here are a few questions: why did President Adam Falk and the Williams administration go directly to panic mode over this incident? Didn’t they drastically overreact? Why involve the police, for heaven’s sake, to say nothing of the FBI (who should be off dealing with serious crimes, not an offensive graffito scrawled on a dormitory wall)?

4) Many (most?) of these incidents at elite colleges are, in fact, hoaxes.

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sealEphraim Williams was a career soldier who died in battle. For most of its 200-year history, the College has had a comfortable relationship with the armed forces. Williams graduates and faculty served in times of peace and war. Even the College’s motto, E Liberalitate E. Williams Armigeri, makes reference to the benefit we have all derived “From the generosity of E. Williams, soldier.”

Over the last 50 years, the connection between Williams and military service has atrophied. Virtually no active member of the faculty has served in uniform. Only a handful of graduates enter the military each year. If one admits that the military plays an important role in society and that having an informed opinion concerning the use of force in international relations is a critical part of being an educated citizen, then the failure of Williams to have a substantive connection to military life and culture is troubling.

ar_1991And, unfortunately, unavoidable. Williams-caliber high school seniors are unlikely to consider serving prior to college. Williams-caliber Ph.D. recipients almost never have a military background. There is little that anyone can do about this state of affairs. But I think that we all have an obligation to be cognizant of it.

The estrangement of Williams from things military first struck me during a mini-controversy in the pages of the Alumni Review. The Summer 1991 issue featured a cover photo of a graduating senior, Jonathan Dailey, being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Former Professor Mark Taylor, one of the best, and most opinionated, teachers on campus was so incensed by this affront that he felt compelled to write to the editor. His letter, published in the subsequent issue, is worth quoting in full.

I was deeply disturbed by the photograph of three Marines in uniform standing besides the Declaration of Independence in Chapin Library that was on the cover of the most recent Review. Many of us at Williams have struggled throughout the year to raise the critical awareness of our students about the disturbing implications of the glorification of military power in the Gulf War. In my judgment, this photograph sends precisely the wrong message to our students and alumni. taylor_emeritusIt is little more than another example of the reactionary flag-waving mentality that has run wild in the wake of our supposed “victory” in the Gulf. Such an attitude runs directly counter to the ideals of a liberal arts education. I would have hoped that the editor of the Review would have been more thoughtful and more sensitive to the power of images to communicate cultural values.

Taylor is a great proponent and practitioner of deconstruction, of looking for the meaning behind the simple words of a text. Let us deconstruct his letter.

First, it is unclear what, precisely, has made Taylor “deeply distressed.” Is it the very existence of the Marine Corps? Or does Taylor except the need for some sort of military establishment and simply object to the tradition of clothing members of that establishment “in uniform”? Or is it the juxtaposition of these Marines and the Declaration of Independence, which, after all, contains the first claim by these United States to have “full power to levy war”? Or was Taylor distressed that this scene was chosen as the cover shot for the Review? I suspect that it was the last of these which moved Taylor to write. The military, while perhaps necessary, is a distasteful part of modern life. According to Taylor’s “cultural values,” it is worthy of neither celebration nor respect.

Second, note the reference to “students and alumni” as opposed to the more common trio of “students, faculty and alumni.” Obviously, Taylor is not concerned that faculty members will receive the “wrong message.” Presumably, they are smart enough not to be swayed. He worries, however, that the same may not be said for the rest of us.

Third, consider his concern over the “reactionary flag-waving mentality” which “runs directly counter to the ideals of a liberal arts education.” Did 2nd Lt Dailey USMCR and Williams ’91 missed out on some important lectures? Is Taylor suggesting that individuals like he and Dailey, who aspire to the liberal arts ideal, should not wave flags or that they should not do so in a reactionary manner. Perhaps lessons in progressive flag-waving are called for.

The typical comment which an ex-Marine (like me) should make at this point involves the irony of Taylor’s denigrating the very institution which secures his freedom to denigrate. Or perhaps I should note that Marines like Dailey stand ready to sacrifice themselves for causes, like protecting Bosnian Muslims, which Taylor might find more compelling than combating the aggression of Iraq. But, in this case, the irony is much more delicious.

parishTaylor is the Preston S. Parish ’41 Third Century Professor of Religion. In other words, an alumnus of the College, as his contribution to the Third Century Campaign, endowed a chair which Taylor now holds. And who is Preston S. Parish? Besides being a generous alumnus, he is a former officer in the United States Marine Corps and veteran of World War II. He won a bronze star for leading infantry units from the First Marine Division in combat on Guadalcanal and Peleliu.

For Marines fighting the Japanese in World War II, combat looked like this:

Not much “reactionary flag-waving” going on there . . .

In the beginning of his book Tears, Taylor reminds us of Kierkegaard’s aphorism that it is not the job of an author to make a book easy; on the contrary, it is the job of an author to make a book hard. Reading a good book, like attending a college which aspires to the ideals of the liberal arts, should be difficult. It should challenge us. Taylor was one of the best professors at Williams precisely because of his ability and inclination to challenge his students — question their preconceptions and to encourage them to question his. When my sister-in-law entered Williams in 1994, I told her that the one course that she shouldn’t miss is Religion 101 — or, better yet, 301 — with Mark Taylor. He made things hard.

It is supremely fitting, then, that Williams, via the medium of the Review has challenged — or at least “deeply distressed” — Mark Taylor. It has made him think, however fleetingly, about the worth and purpose of military preparedness in an unfriendly world. A great college, like a great book, should challenge, not just its “students and alumni” but its faculty as well. Ephraim Williams’ generosity, like that of Preston Parish ’41 and Jonathan Dailey ’91, is of money and blood and spirit. They make things hard for all of us.

Originally version published in the Spring 1995 Williams Alumni Review, by David Kane ’88. Modified since then by EphBlog.

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Today marks the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, celebrated around the world at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. On many dimensions, the Marines are the Williams College of military organizations: elite, steeped in history, less well known among the hoi polloi, athletic, cultish and intellectual. Or perhaps Williams College is the Marine Corps of American high education? Either way, there is a special bond among we few, we happy brothers of Williams and the USMC. Traditionally, Marines offer each other birthday greetings this day, and so, to my fellow Ephs Marines: Happy Birthday!

The earliest Eph Marine I have been able to find is Joseph Fairchild Baker, class of 1864, who attended Williams in 1860 — 1861 but never graduated. He was the son of a United States Senator and served as a lieutenant and captain. Does anyone know his story? If we don’t remember his service 150 years ago, then who will remember ours in the decades to come?

Joel Iams ’01 sent us this letter nine years ago.


The roads of Fallujah were eventually cleared, but not until we lost Nate Krissoff ’03. Given the rise of ISIS, they may need clearing again. If the President calls, I am sure my Marines will be willing, with Ephs at the forefront.

Below is a list of Eph Marines. Who am I missing?

Myles Crosby Fox ’40
Preston Parish ’41
Joe Rice ’54
David Kane ’58
TB Jones ’58
Jerry Rizzo ’87
David Kane ’88
Tony Fuller ’89
Jonathan Dailey ’91
Bunge Cooke ’98
Lee Kindlon ’98,
Zack Pace ’98
Ben Kamilewicz ’99
Joel Iams ’01
Rob MacDougall ’01
Jeff Castiglione ’07
Brad Shirley ’07
Hill Hamrick ’13

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More than fifty years ago, Ephs took the field against Amherst.

Tomorrow, they do the same. And ten years from now. And one hundred. Do our Eph football players recognize their history? Do you?

TB Jones ’58 (my father’s roommate) played varsity squash at Williams. I remember seeing his picture in one of the many team photos that used to line the walls of the old gym. Walking by those old photographs each day for practice provided me with a great sense of the history that I was becoming a part of. Years later, those emotions were perfectly captured by Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” when he takes his class to view the pictures of past students at their fictional New England prep school.

From the script:

Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures.

KEATING: “Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.”

The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.

KEATING: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in.”

The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron’s shoulder.

KEATING (whispering in a gruff voice): “Carpe.”

Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.

KEATING: “Hear it?” (whispering again) “Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.

Decades from now there will be another young man at Williams who will walk down those halls on his way to practice. Perhaps he will play squash like TB Jones and I did (although I hope that he plays more like TB than like me). Whatever his future might hold, I hope that he sees our pictures and wonders about us, about where we went from Williams and how prepared we were for the journey. I hope that he realizes how fortunate he is.

Does football coach Aaron Kelton remind his players of the history of those who have gone before? Does he know their names and their stories?

I hope so.

Williams may win or lose tomorrow. Given the fact that the team has struggled the last few years, that the seniors have lost this game every year that they have been at Williams and that Amherst comes into the game undefeated, a victory tomorrow would be one of the sweetest in decades, all the more so because no (?) neutral observer gives Williams any chance at all.

Did Frank Uible ’57 win or lose the games he played against Amherst more than 50 year ago? In the longer sweep of history, one game, one loss, is as dust in the corridors of memory. What matters is the day itself, and the place we each occupy within the traditions of the Williams community.

No one remembers the score of the game these men played 100 years ago. But we look in their faces and see ourselves.

I am Frank Uible ’57. Who are you?

[Thanks to EphBlog regular "nuts" and Williams Sports Information for the photos. Note that the original post in this series did not include a YouTube clip because YouTube did not exist. Old Time is still a-flying.]

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The Record article on College financial aid policy is excellent. Kudos to reporter Lauren Bender ’15! Let’s spend four days discussing it. Many of my comments will appear critical but I am aiming for constructive criticism. This is one of the best Record articles of the last several years. Day 4:

In the experience of Lily An ’15, the Office of Financial Aid has not been very generous.

“When I got in, I got into both Amherst and Williams,” An said. “Amherst gave me more financial aid. Williams gave me less, but also gave me the book grant. I went to previews for both schools. When I was at Williams, my mom came with me and went to the financial aid office and asked them to match Amherst’s offer. They took a look at my numbers and discovered that they had given me ‘too much,’ and took away both the money and the book grant.”

1) This (and the rest of the article) is great reporting by Bender. Kudos!

2) Whoa! I have never heard of the financial aid office decreasing an already-made aid offer. Has anyone else? Is this common? One cynical take would be that the College, like a good used car salesman, “reprices” deals depending on supply and demand. That is, the College was originally X interested in An, and so gave her a deal worth Y. It then figured out that it was really less than X interested in An. So, it changed the deal from Z < Y.

3) Would be good to know some more details. What sort of mistake was made? Future historians would love if Bender/An were to make public the underlying documents.

Because An didn’t like Amherst as much, she decided to attend the College.

EphBlog always recommends that applicants pick Williams over Amherst, especially female applicants who are likely to find the male/female ratio in Amherst/Smith/Holyoke less desirable. But this is all-else-equal advice. If Amherst is giving you a much better deal — $10,000 over four years? $20,000? — then Williams may not be worth it.

“My parents had to take out a second mortgage on their home because they don’t want me to graduate with debt,” she said. “I am really lucky in that sense. But they were getting close to paying off their first mortgage. You don’t want to send your kid to a school they don’t like, but they shouldn’t have to pay that much money.”

Indeed. As always, parents should follow EphBlog’s advice to shelter as much money as possible away from the prying eyes of college financial aid officials. Remember: The College is not your friend. Most important tips: No money in the child’s name, maximize all retirement accounts, pay off the mortgage.

An said she felt that the College was squeezing out the middle class with their financial aid policies.

“I have such a negative impression of them,” she said. “Williams says they want students who are diverse, but I guess I’m not socioeconomically diverse enough for them. But you’re not supposed to complain, because if you’re not on financial aid then it must mean that your family can afford it.”

Indeed. Although I think that An may be misunderstanding why the College does what it does.

The College is a bureaucratic institution first and foremost. (Side note: I need to write a post entitled “See Like a College” that is a riff on James Scott‘s ’58 Seeing Like A State.) It is not that An is not “socioeconomically diverse enough” for Williams. It is that Williams measures socioeconomic diversity in a specific way: Did neither of your parents graduate from a 4 year college? If you answer Yes, you provide socio-economic diversity. If you answer No, you do not.

Ashley Graves ’15 also said that her experience with financial aid had not been a positive one.

“The people who work in financial aid are nice and relatively helpful, but they can’t do anything about the financial obligations the College expects from its students,” she said.

Correct. These policies are set by the Administration. Don’t blame Paul Boyer and his crew.

Graves has had to take out additional loans beyond the College’s maximum $16,000.

“Every year since freshman year, I’ve taken out the maximum amount of loans,” she said. “It will be $26,500 by the time I graduate, plus the computer loan, which is an extra $2000.”

Graves says she has to work three jobs to get by – as well as to help support her family.

“I came into sophomore year working three jobs,” she said. “I constantly felt like I had to be earning money to support myself. The other thing is that I’m an athlete, and sports aren’t cheap. If I need sneakers, competition shoes, doctor’s visits, proper gear and proper things to maintain my health – that’s ridiculously expensive. I felt like I was always working. Everything just broke down. My friendships suffered, my grades suffered, my relationships suffered, but God forbid I miss a day of work. I was always on time for work.”

Kudos to Graves for sharing her story and to Bender for great reporting.

Graves added that the burden on her family has been enormous.

“I’m just trying to figure out where the money is going,” she said. “I feel like as one of two teenagers from a single parent household, I should be getting more aid. It’s a burden on me and it’s a burden on my family.”

This is the end of my commentary, but Bender really ought to write a series of articles on this topic because we need more details. How, exactly, does the process work? How did Williams decide that Graves only gets $X of aid while another students get $Y? Presumably, the College thinks that Graves’s single parent ought to contribute more dollars than she can, in fact, contribute or that Graves thinks she ought to contribute. But we need to understand the exact details by which these determinations are made. Walk us through the various forms, provide copies of forms (perhaps with names redacted) that students submitted, compare the awards received and so on.

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