Currently browsing the archives for November 2004

Older Posts »

Doran, Doran

Those interested in reading more about Marissa Doran ’05, the latest Eph Rhodes Scholar, can check the College’s news release (also published in the Transcript), an article in the Record and this Q&A with Doran (the daughter of Francis ’74 and the sister of Elizabeth ’06).

Although it is always hard to tell from a distance, Doran seems like a good kid and her winning seems well-deserved. But, as with last year’s Eph winners, I think that some College officials have gone a bit overboard.

“This young woman is a leader, plain and simple, and she’ll demonstrate that leadership in major institutional arenas in our society within the next two decades,” Jackall said. “She’s already shown great leadership abilities in myriad ways at Williams in her quiet but forceful advocacy for careful environmental planning in the college’s extensive building efforts; for her encouragement of milieux that will further strengthen already strong intellectual ties between students and faculty at Williams; and, before and during her college career, in her work for the American Field Service.”

Ah, yes, AFS. I remember it well.

Read more


Box Checking

The Record has an interesting article on early decision applications.

This year’s Early Decision class is comprised of 258 women and 232 men. It includes 34 Asian-Americans, 13 Hispanics, 10 African-Americans and two Native Americans. Nesbitt said the numbers for African-Americans and Hispanics decreased by one or two applicants, and the number for Asian-Americans applicants was “healthy.” The pool of 490 also includes 50 international students.

These statistics come, presumably, from the Common Application that Williams is now using. But there is a much richer set of information available therein. The Common App provides sub-categories like “Puerto Rican” as well as allowing applicants to choose “Other”. It also encourages students to check all the boxes that apply.

So, speaking as a reader of and contributor to the Record, I’d like to see a lot more detail here. How many applicants picked “Other”? How many checked more than one box? What is the ethnic breakdown of the international applicants (or are they included in the numbers above)?

Read more


Eph Marriage

Eric Smith ’99, EphBlog’s genius site maintainer and creator of the indispensible EphPlanet, was married last month. Our young Eph readers are always curious about what married life is really like.

Hmm. Since getting married, Eric has spent a lot of time working on programming up all the possible board configurations for a game of Scrabble.
If fact, he is still working on it.

Ah, yes. The first year of Eph marriage. I remember it well.



Dan Drezner ’90 has much to be thankful for.



A cheerleading article on CNN highlights the orientation program for minority students at Trinity. The article notes that:

Two years ago, Williams College in Massachusetts stopped bringing minorities and athletes to campus early. There are still some orientation events for minorities, but all students go through much the same program, designed to introduce them to neighbors and to the broader class.

It seems that there has always been a First/Freshmen Days program at Williams, but, back in the day, it was a much simpler affair. I have yet to see commentary arguing that the old program was better than the current extensive one.

Of course, not everyone will be in favor of such a radical change. Presumably there are some First Years who might have made the varsity soccer team if they had more time at varsity practice. But the most interesting category of (potential) complainers is the diversity lobby.

At 2,188-student Trinity, Spurlock-Evans [dean of multicultural affairs] says a program like PRIDE does not prevent that kind of campus-wide bonding later in the week. But she says it is essential to show minorities the support they have.

“If you don’t grab them in the first five weeks, they’re gone,” she says. “There would be no one to integrate if we didn’t support them.”

Mega creepy! In other words, if we diversity pimps don’t radicalize incoming minorities first, we lose them. Of course, Spurlock-Evans and her ilk across the country don’t read this sentence the way that I do.

The new First Year program, either by accident or design, makes the point that we are all purple first. Kudos again to Morty, either for originating this idea himself and/or for overseeing such a great change to life at Williams.


Thanksgiving at Morty’s

Kudos to President Schapiro for hosting more than 50 Williams students at his home for Thanksgiving dinner.

In addition to a piece of pumpkin pie, international students at Williams College will be treated to a slice of Americana as they celebrate Thanksgiving today at President Morton O. Schapiro’s house.

It’s the second year Schapiro and his family have opened their home to students who, for whatever reason, do not travel home for Thanksgiving. For some two dozen international students, it likely will be their first experience with the holiday.

“I want them to see what it’s like, and I want them to see it’s a great family event,” said Schapiro. “I want them to see it’s a wonderful celebration and giving thanks, and I take that seriously. … I want to expose people to the best of Williams and the best of the country, too.”

In this, as in so many other ways, Morty represents the very best that Williams has to offer.

The rest of the article is below. It makes for nice holiday reading. Were any EphBlog readers present for the festivities? If so, we would love to hear how things went.

Read more


Missed Homecoming?

Pictures are available (via the cool WSO PhotoShare).


Letter from Iraq Part XII

Happy Thanksgiving from Mosul!

Friday, 26 November 2004

Subject: Thanks

A little late, but I wanted to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.

The Army managed to sneak some turkey, sweet potatoes, and cornbread into Mosul, and I spent a safe and happy holiday here, surrounded by respected colleagues and trusted friends, and thankful beyond words for the love and support of family, friends, and the woman I love, Erica.

Happy Holidays. I’ll write more soon.

With Love and Thanks-



Hoops Mafia (Jones Edition)

Although there are four Chris Jones’s listed in the alumni directory (including my roommate ’88), I am pretty sure that this article is about Chris Jones ’94.

Following a self-proclaimed disappointing season for the Columbus Academy boys basketball team, coach Chris Jones talked to his college coach.

“I asked my college coach at Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.), and he said it takes about three to four years to have your philosophy firmly entrenched,” said Jones, whose team opens Friday at Marion River Valley. “But after two years, these kids here at Academy are smart enough and are picking up on stuff. The older kids are self-policing allowing the coaches to do more coaching.”

Harry Sheahy ’75 (almost certainly the unnamed coach above) knows that he is doing a good job since his students still reach out to him for advice a decade after leaving Williams. How many members of the “academic” faculty can make the same claim?


Perrin ’49, RIP

Ned Perrin, ’49 passed away last Sunday. The New York Times reports:

Well known as a book critic and as a contributor to The New Yorker, Mr. Perrin wrote more than a dozen books. He was best known for his collections of autobiographical essays about the pleasures and occasional perils of life on a Vermont farm, beginning, in 1978, with “First Person Rural.” As the series progressed, his work became the benchmark against which other aspirants to the rural-writing genre were measured.

Perrin was an Army veteran (winner of the Bronze Star in the Korean War) and was married 4 times (but divorced only twice). He taught at Dartmouth for more than 40 years. Highlights from the obituary included:

Read more


Eph Webring

This site seems completely defunct. Fortunately, we have EphPlanet.


Thanks for the Math

Another reason to be thankful for the Math/Statistics Department at Williams, as if more were needed, is the emphasis that it places on excellence in teaching.

We are seeking a highly qualified candidate who has demonstrated excellence in teaching and research, and who will have a Ph.D. by the time of appointment.

Perhaps I am reading too much into word order here, but placing “teaching” ahead of “research” is a nice signal about the priorities of Williams in general and the Math Department in particular.

To be fair, the Economics Department is also “interested in talented teachers and researchers,” so perhaps we need give thanks all around. Virtually every elite college outside of the circle of small liberal arts schools like Williams would place much more emphasis on research and often none at all on teaching.


Author Amanda Ward ’94

In our continuing series on Eph authors, here is the home page for Amanda Ward-Meckel ’94. Ward’s new book, Sleep Toward Heaven, was just published last month. The film rights for her previous book, How To Be Lost, have been puchased by Sandra Bullock and Warner Brothers.

Ward may be coming to a book store new you. If so, you might want to drop by for a reading. I would hope that the English Department at Williams is planning to invite her up for a visit as well.



Who knew that famous Hollywood director John Sayles ’72 (and his companion Maggie Renzi ’73) are Ephs? Not me.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

“It’s gonna be a tough four years for a lot of people,” predicts filmmaker John Sayles, who is not happy about the re-election of George W. Bush.

His latest effort, Silver City, was specifically intended to help defeat the president.

The film, which opened in other places last month and finally arrived here Friday, is crafted in the noirish spirit of Chinatown. It tells the story of a private eye who uncovers political chicanery and media malfeasance. A major character, played by Oscar-winner Chris Cooper, is modeled on Bush.

Readers are invited to submit their comments on the movie.

Sayles attended Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he majored in psychology and, during his last couple of years, took a swing at acting and directing plays. He appeared in one with Maggie Renzi, Silver City’s producer and Sayles’ partner in film and life for 31 years, although they didn’t officially connect until after he graduated.

If I had a dime for every Eph couple I know who didn’t “officially connect” until after graduation, I would be much higher on Morty’s speed dialer . . .

Sayles and Renzi are a couple but have no plans to marry.

Sayles is also a MacArthur “genius” award winner. Even more impressive is the number of movie scripts he has written. The Howling certainly scared the bejesus out of me 20 years ago.

Although it might be more appropriate to wait for a reunion year, I would argue that either Sayles or Renzi (or both together) would make excellent Commencement speakers.


How is Ari Doing?

Alas, I missed the first installment of the Jeopardy finals tonight. How is Ari doing? The Jeopardy web page has a weath of information on the tournament (including Ari on video), but nothing on tonight’s results.



Eric hinted at this tale a few months ago, but I can’t resist reprinting this e-mail that we received (edited for anonymity):

While I respect the rights for Ephblog to post comments on whatever you choose, this blog and its content is absolutely unacceptable. The fact that my name and legal troubles is included in your publication is illegal for a number of reasons.

I am asking you to remove this blog from your website immediately. I graduated from Williams in June and I am currently seeking employment; if any potential employers searches my name they will find this blog and it will drastically hurt my chances of gaining employment. I cannot allow this to happen. I am asking you to remove this blog in a timely manner, within the next week. If I find that this blog is still up after September 17, 2004, I will not hesitate in taking legal action. Thank you for its prompt removal.


1) Despite the rudeness and stupidity of this request, we did remove the offending post. Our standard policy is to remove most any post that the subject of said post objects to. In fact, we have removed everything that anyone has ever asked us to, and a few things that no one even complained about. That said, it is easy to imagine complaints that we won’t act on. Although EphBlog is all about inclusiveness, it is also about hard questions and painful truths. We’ll continue to strive for balance between these competing goals as best we can.

2) We’re not sure how things turned out for our wayward Eph, but here’s some advice for other readers: Don’t take illegal drugs. Or at least don’t deal illegal drugs. Or, if you can’t resist the temptation and/or want to make a political statement, don’t get caught doing either. Once your name has entered the world of official judicial proceedings, mentions on EphBlog are the least of your worries.


Eph Confidential

Resources like this can’t help but to affect the college admissions game.

Special points for anyone who can point out Dick Nesbitt’s postings . . .



Another Eph Rhodes

Congrats to Williams Senior Marissa Doran, who becomes the third Eph Rhodes scholar in the last two years, further solifidying Williams’ substantial lead in terms of liberal arts colleges with the most scholarship winners. Does anyone have the total figure? If I recall, even before the last two years, Williams was first, Reed second, and the rest pretty far behind, but I haven’t seen the actual numbers in some time.

More on Marissa:

Marissa C. M. Doran, Duxbury, is a senior at Williams College and a history major. Marissa is a Truman Scholar, won an award for community service, is active in theater, music, and politics, and was the first U.S. citizen to participate in a government-sponsored program in the Belgian Parliament. She is also the first Williams undergraduate to co-develop a Williams course. Marissa will do the B.A. in Modern History at Oxford


Want To Be Famous?

Those interested in fame in the Eph political scene could do worse than posting on EphBlog. Note how regular posters Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07 and Kevin Koernig ’06 have made the jump to broadcasting.

I’m hosting my weekly political talk show on WCFM with guests Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07, Roy Garcia ’07, and Kevin Koernig ’06 from 9-10 PM on Sunday (11/21). Listen in over the internet through or the WCFM ticker on WSO. Call-ins appreciated (X2197)! We’ll cover this week’s top stories, Democratic Party strategy, and the blogging mayhem on WSO.

Matt Piven’s ’07 show looks interesting although, as always, our advice is to focus as much as possible on Williams-specific issues. Isn’t there enough to talk about? I would be especially curious about what the panelists think about Morty and Roseman’s double-dipping . . .

I am not sure what “blogging mayhem on WSO” refers to.


Skin Game

Laura McMillian’s ’02 permalinks don’t work that well for me, but her post from October 4th quotes this paragraph from the book Skin Game.

The liason with the best friend from home unfolded in the dead heart of January. It was our Winter Study term, one month dedicated to focused study of a single, nontraditional course. Leaving large swathes of unoccupied time for remaining holed up in your dormitory, out of the cold, dispirited weather, drinking Bloody Marys with your suitemates while the dirty sky surrendered to darkness at four o’clock.

The First Years — oblivious amidst the nicest fall weather in 15 years — don’t know it yet, but they will see that “dirty sky” soon enough. Indeed, this weekend has not been a bad introduction. Laura points out that, as you might have guessed, author Caroline Kettlewell is an Eph, class of

Read more


Guns, uteri and open source

John Phillips ’02 praises guns. Sarah Hart ’02 tells us about her uterus. Stephen O’Grady ’97 talks open source.

We’re all about diversity of content, here at EphBlog.


Getting Old

Luis Taboada ’02 has the funniest homecoming thoughts:

What happened to the days when you got blitzed out of your mind at homecoming for free? I guess times change. To make up for the lack of liquor, the college gave out free hot apple cider, hot chocolate, donuts, and pretzels…thanks guys, I appreciate the gesture. I’ll keep that in mind next time you ask me for money. Oh wait, I’m a class agent…doh!

But as much as we would like to pretend that we are back in college, a big lesson learned this weekend is that we are in fact getting old. Like old guys, we told the same stories over and over again. But somehow, those stories never get old.

And they never will.

Read the whole thing. And, if you are not already addicted to EphPlanet, you should take a hit. Try it. You’ll like it . . .


JA Selection Committee

A WSO all-campus e-mail on the JA Selection Committee application deadline just came out. Are these archives anywhere? If not, they should be. You can see more or less the same message here.

As we note most every year, the JA Selection Committee is an amazing opportunity to have a real impact on campus. It is a ton of work but an intense experience. You certainly have no business complaining about the sort of people who become JAs if you decline the chance to participate in their selection. Here is more on the process and on the start of the use of interviews.

Cynics often claim that Williams exists in a purple bubble, quite unlike the outside world that students eventually have no choice but to enter. This is somewhat true. But there are many opportunities on campus to participate in activities that are real slices of the world outside. The JA Selection Committee is one of those activities. Another would be the Finance Committee (if that is still the terminology) of College Council.

In both cases, the students involved have real responsibility and are confronted with difficult choices about which reasonable people strongly disagree. Much of life in the professional world beyond the purple bubble is like that. So, for those who are curious about the many meetings that they will attend post-graduation or who want to start training themselves in the art and science of group decision-making, the JA Selection Committee is the place to be.

My one suggestion: Expand the size of the committee to include just about all applicants. Last year, the committee had around 20 members but 35 or so applicants. (Correct me if those numbers are wrong.) Although a larger group would make for a more unwieldy process, the benefits of inclusions outweigh the costs of size.


Ari Represents

Just watched college Jeopardy and Ari, the kid from Williams, made the finals! Definitely representing Williams well — maybe a few more people will have heard of the school aftter this week’s Jeopardy competition. Ari got a $1000 Nabokov question correct in the literature category — so whoever said taking “Nabokov and Pynchon” (if that’s still offered) would never be of any worth in the real world has been proven dead wrong. The Williams English Department, which, at least when I was undergrad, had an unabashed love affair with those two authors, must be beaming with pride. I’m especially pleased that Ari beat the kid who had been a contestant in male beauty pageants — substance over style, a true Eph virtue.

Speaking of talented undergrads, I second Kane’s directive to read the punked column by Williams’ very own Ashton Kutcher. Hilarious stuff, in particular because it comes at Amherst’s expense. Though I do have to wonder if it was inspired by a similar stunt pulled by Al Franken and his protege at Bob Jones University (minus, of course, the beer, poker, enticing women, and non-whites all present at Amherst). This article, as well as the airplane fly-over at the football game, are in my view outstanding manifestations of the Williams spirit — far more clever, and more flattering to the creativity of Williams students, than the “Amherst Sucks” or “What Do Amherst and Sh*t Have In Common?” T-shirts that have proven inexplicably popular among undergrads. Keep up the good work. Williams fans should take a cue from Stanford students regarding how to heckle with class and creativity.

Finally, to end my random musings, I am dismayed to report that my first cousin, despite years of Williams propoganda from me, has decided to apply ED to Amherst. If anyone has any cure for the downward emotional spiral inspired by two devastating blows in one month (first being Mr. Strategery), feel free to pass your thoughts along.


Campus Free Speech: For Whom?

(Note: First posted on Rebunk 11-17-04).

Not surprisingly, free speech is one of the main issues that fuels the blogs of academics. Even most of us whose weblogs do not focus on the minutia of academic life occasionally deal with this issue, and others write about it rather extensively. KC Johnson of Brooklyn College is to my mind by far the best of these (see his latest Cliopatria post on this topic here) and Ralph Luker often addresses the issue as well (His most recent Cliopatria free speech entry is here.)

Daniel Drezner, one of the sharpest bloggers on the web (and not just because he went to Williams) goes all meta on us by discussing academic freedom and blogging. In the case he explores, a professor who says some pretty loathsome things about homosexuals (and the post has apparently been erased, so I cannot link to it, bit Drezner gives the gist), but he also shows how Indiana is now experiencing a crisis over whether or not to sponsor blogs. My view is that universities ought not to be doing anything to encroach upon free speech and that using the petty power games of proprietary claims over bandwidth seems pretty thin reed upon which to hang an argument. Lots of crap, offensive and not, ends up on university servers. Unless the university is really willing to limit usage substantially, it seems to me that they will be making political choices. What if conservative students chose to take a professor’s webpage on queer studies as being offensive? That student would to my mind be wrong, but if universities are going to be limiting professor’s web content they really have to police it all unless they are going to be making these content-oriented decisions. I have seen cases where universities have tried to restrict blogging by graduate students when the blog was not even on the university server. These are cases of misguided academic power run amok, little more.

It is not all that surprising that most of these professors are most concerned with academic freedom for the professoriat. This is a vital issue and one that is of rights at the forefront of our concerns. Usually taking a backseat are the interests of students, such as the graduate students I mentioned, who are far more vulnerable than even the most junior professor and for whom the consequences, because of the draconian nature of university administrators with no concern for even a modicum of due process (universities tend to be pretty selective about which Constitutional rights ought to be universal), tend to be much more severe. The University of Indiana professor might lose his IU webspace for the idiocies he prattles. Most students are not so lucky.

Take, for example, this incident at the University of New Hampshire (the flagship institution of my home state). To give the truncated version: in response to frustrations over slow elevators in his dorm, a male student posted (poorly written – odd that this is not the more significant concern of the university) posters that read: “9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10-15 pounds. But there is something you can do about it. If u live below the 6th floor takes the stairs. Not only will u feel better about yourself but you will also be saving us time and wont be sore on the eyes.” Not clever, but, apparently for the guardians of free speech, offensive to the point of university administrators imposing charges that he was guilty of affirmative action violations, harassment, and disorderly conduct. Read the article. This sort of idiocy would not fly in most of the Granite State, I assure you. Fortunately the student got pretty good representation from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE – their website also has information on the UNH case), a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting freedom of speech on American college campuses. The student had all charges removed, save for one related to academic dishonesty for initially lying about having printed the posters – a question he arguably should not have been asked in the first place.

As professors we have to recognize that our students have rights that are every bit as important to a free society as our own. We need to advocate for them, irrespective of our views on the content of the speech they exercise. Too much of the campus free speech debate seems only to want to protect a certain kind of speech. This is intellectually, morally, and ethically unjustifiable. But until professors show a concern for all speech, and not just that which they hold sacred, everyone’s rights will be in jeopardy.



Mark Rothman goes undercover as an Amherst pre-frosh in this week’s Record, an article I have been dying to read for years.

While out at all these parties, I was asked where I was applying. I continually said I was choosing between Amherst and Williams. Most students had the following to say about Williams: “Do not go there,” “the kids suck,” “it’s in the middle of nowhere” and “they have a terrible Features writer who thinks he is funny.” I translated most of this into: “I did not get into Williams and they continually dominate the NESCAC and the U.S. News and World Report rankings.”

All of the students said I should definitely attend Amherst and that I was the funniest pre-frosh they had ever had. To sum up, I won $30, got a ton of free beer, was hanging out with first-year girls and was told that I was funny. Maybe I should transfer?

If I were an alum with money to spend, I would donate to the Record right now.


Tough Week for Football

Longtime reader George Tolley ’88 accuses us of censorship for not blogging about Eph football’s loss to Amherst this week-end. Although there is no censorship at EphBlog, it must be admitted that we are much more excited (like some students) about the success of women’s volleyball, now in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament and hosting NYU this week-end.

In my area, the football game was televised on Fox Sports New England and seemed to be broadcast by an ECAC network of some type. The broadcast was remarkably high in quality, with good camera work and lots of interesting interviews, including a brief segment with three (senior?) players from the women’s volleyball team. Any Eph interested in the world of media should consider getting involved with these sorts of micro-broadcasts.

In other football news, Scott Farley ’03 has been cut from the Patriots’ practice squad.



A recent campus mailing notes that:

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18-20, Cap and Bells will present “Art”
by Yasmina Reza. Art is a show about Serge (Stuart Jones ’08), a dermatoligist
who buys a white painting, and the effect his purchase has on his friends Marc
(Jim Prevas ’06) and Yvan (Will Curtiss ’07).


1) I would be curious to know how the “dermatoligist” is portrayed here. Is his speciality central to the show or could he just as easily been another kind of doctor? As noted here often before, dermatology is a marvelous field. I recommend that all Eph doctors in training, especially Sarah Hart ’02 Luis Taboada ’02, consider it.

2) Where is the show about the Nigaleian controversy? I am no theatre major, but it sure seems like the setting of the infamous department meeting would make for a great one act play. The obvious hook would be to run the scene several times, Rashomon-like. In one version, Laleian is merely using the (obscure) dictionary definition, a la the Rooney defense. In another, she is a vicious racist. For extra credit, this could be a one-woman play . . .



In another sign of the desparate measures that ever-rising truition drives students to, the Transcript reports that

Last month, the Emmy-award winning quiz show taped its 2004 Jeopardy! College Championship at Petersen Events Center on the campus of University of Pittsburgh. Featuring 15 students from campuses across America, including Ari Schoenholtz from Williams College, the two-week competition will culminate with a $100,000 grand prize for the tournament champion. The episodes will air beginning this week.

Good luck, Ari!


Letter from Iraq Part XI

In response to all the violence in Mosul, Felipe quickly reports that he is safe.

Date: Friday, 12 November 2004

Subject: Safe

As many of you may have read, seen, or heard lately, the situation in Mosul has been deteriorating of late.

I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know that my team and I are safely within our compound, having postponed all reconstruction activities until security improves, and are taking all necessary precautions to stay safe.

Thanks again for your love and concern, and I’ll write more soon.

With love,


Older Posts »