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Channel for Charity Diary (first entry)

30 April, 2006

I’m back from Oxford spring break and that means it’s time to start training. For everyone who missed Dave’s first post on what I’m training for, I’m getting ready to swim the English Channel. So why am I undertaking such an insane feat? Well to begin, I’m not doing it by myself. In fact, I will only be swimming 1/10 of the English Channel and 9 of my fellow Ephs (well, 8 and a professor) will be helping me finish the rest; we’re doing the swim as a relay. By swimming the English Channel we’re trying to raise $18,000 for the Mothers Programmes and Williams in Africa. In one sentence: money given to sponsor our swim will go to help prevent the transmission of AIDs from mothers with AIDs to their children, as well as helping to sponsor a student fellowship to work with the Mothers Programmes in Africa (read more about the Mothers Programmes at

So as of this week, we’re now within two months of the actual swim, and we still have a lot of work left to do. We have a rough website up, which allows donations through paypal, but it’s not finished yet. Having just begun training, it’s a little overwhelming to think about the amount we still have left to do. However, people have been incredibly supportive and encouraging, and despite the series of enormous tasks still ahead of us, things have gone fantastically so far and we’re all very optimistic.

If you’re interested in learning more about this or donating, you can visit our still-under-development website


Modesty’s Opposite?

Wendy Shalit ’97 is blogging at the Modesty Zone. Wendy wrote on Friday:

We’ve talked about how modesty is prudery’s true opposite, right? Reserving sexuality for the sake of protecting its power, and so forth and so on. Well, lately I’ve been thinking that maybe promiscuity could really be related to asexuality–since without integrating the emotions, sex tends to be “no big deal.” We’ve certainly all seen examples of exhibitionism being perfectly consistent with a low sex drive.

Compare this to Liv Osthus’s ’96 comments from last Sunday.

After the initial meet-and-greet, we are asked what issues we’d like to discuss in therapy. My guy says innocently enough that he’d like to have more sex.

I almost blurt out that he should go find himself another chick, but instead I hear myself saying, “I love sex!” Or at least, I explain, I did love sex, once upon a time, before I was writing a book and fronting a band and stripping almost every night and paying a mortgage and managing a household and trying occasionally to sleep.

I would love nothing more than to have my libido back, I tell them, and I’d welcome their guidance. But if my guy really wants sex, maybe he should come back when I’m 45 and not trying to juggle three all-consuming careers, hoping desperately to get one of them off the ground before the plug gets pulled on my biological clock.

“And what if I don’t want to? It’s not like it’s that enjoyable. I understand I’m supposed to want sex for the sake of our relationship, but the truth is I just don’t. And having sex when you don’t want to isn’t like other things, like massaging someone’s feet or cooking someone dinner just out of love for them. It feels violating to have sex when you don’t want to. Why should I want to have sex anyway? I’d rather fit in an hour’s worth of guitar or maybe a long walk.”

There are no easy answers here. But, at EphBlog at least, we are pleased and proud to offer commentary from Ephs like already-author Shalit and soon-to-be-author Osthus. The value here is in the conversation, not the conclusion.


Tuition Increases

Why does tuition keep going up? There are many reasons. But stupid government mandates certainly don’t help.

On November 4, 2005, Governor Mitt Romney signed new legislation called “Nicole’s Law” to protect the public from the dangers of carbon monoxide, a potentially lethal odorless gas. This law and the resulting regulation require Williams College to install detectors in all of our residences with potential sources of carbon monoxide.

Although every death is a tragedy, there is no reasonable cost/benefit calculation which would mandate such devices at a place like Williams. Who pushes these laws through the legislator? Nanny-staters, attention-seeking politicians and the makers/installers of these devices. Full announcement below.

Read more


The End of the Central Fund

Cluster housing now has another reason to be disliked. As reported in the Record here the central fund is no more. For those who don’t know how the central fund works, it was where all the money from bracelet sales went to pay for alcohol so that the school funds would not be involved. THe central fund existed under the old social chairs comittee, but grew much larger when we decided to send out direct mail to students over the summer in 2003 when ACE began.

Now with the start of cluster housing, ACE’s role in collecting funds and planning social events is being phased out. The plan is to replace the central fund with house dues, but from my experience, the amount of people who pay house dues is very low. I don’t see anyway that house dues could replace the central fund. Also clusters are supposed to plan their own events which is supposed to replace ACE’s central planning.

Another concern the school has is keeping alcohol purchases separate from the school for liability purposes, but won’t having dues collected by a student paid by the college like a house coordinator be even more of a liability problem? The question I have, does this mean that the entire social scene will end up being phased out? Or could cluster housing actually revive the scene? My sources at school have told me that the social scene has gotten worse and worse over the last few years so I’m not going to write off a new idea, but I have serious concerns of the ability of cluster housing to properly raise the necessary funds.


Chalking Pictures

The annual campus chalkings met with positive reviews. But where are the pictures of the chalkings that the rest of us can look at?


Happy Birthday, DDF


To the Blogmeister from the Cake Bakers Brendon & Judy, plus the Cake
Eaters Ompi and the older reader.


Course Advice

Diana Davis ’07 is looking for course advice, or at least comments on her course plans. Alas, unlike the spam-magnet that is EphBlog, she requires commenters to register, which is too much of a bother for me. So, here’s my comment:

Why not take Morty’s tutorial? (By the way, is this being taught by Gordon Winston next year?)

I had lunch with a student who took the tutorial a few years ago. She sang its praises. For someone like Diana who is very knowledgeable about college affairs, the topic is perfect. Diana is also likely to get in since, I think, she is the sort of student that Morty chooses.


Gender Expression

Is it true that?

Gender identity and gender expression has now been added to the anti-discrimination policy here at Williams. Hooray to Morty, the Board of Trustees, and everyone else who made it happen!!


1) Where is the official policy and what does it say now? Links are appreciated.

2) What are concrete examples of behavior that were allowed before (note that any sort of harassment has always been forbidden, whether gender related or not) and will not be allowed now? Or is this just a sop?



With each passing year, I not only feel more connected to the larger sense of what Williams represents, I also increasingly appreciate the idea of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. It’s hard to imagine a comparable conference in all of college sports. Geographically (well, ok, Hamilton seems like something of an interloper), in size, scope, mission, philosophy, student body, and place in the academic hierarchy, NESCAC is a unique manifestation of places that, The Game of Life be damned, still try to do it right and succeed a lot more often than they fail.

As a former athlete at Williams, I feel an affinity with Middlebury and Bowdoin and Tufts, hell, even with Wesleyan and Amherst. (OK — I admit, I feel somewhat dirty typing that last bit.) I am apparently not alone in my sentiments about the conference, and not merely Williams’ (dominant) place within it. is, in its own words, “a community connecting NESCAC students, alumni, and fans.” NESCACNation gives a pretty good feel for not only the vibrant goings-on in the conference, but also of the nature of NESCAC. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Williams features prominently on the site.



The latest non-senior campus e-mail (when will these be archived for posterity?) reports:

Reminder — Neighborhood Ambassador application forms are due by Friday, April 28th.

Lost your application? Pick up another in the Office of Campus Life, First Floor, Hopkins Hall.

What are Neighborhood Ambassadors?

Dan Rooney ’06 writes

I think that they are the Republic’s ambassadors to the Trade Federation, but they might be NESCAC’s ambassadors to the People of Zion.

Rooney, who writes under the nom de blog of Buck Dharma, will be sorely missed from the WSO Blogs upon graduation.


School Financing Update

An older reader snarked in a recent thread that we have fallen behind in our coverage of local school financing. Time to fix that! The Eagle reports:

A group of townspeople and officials from Williamstown and Lanesborough have been tapped by the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee to investigate the long-range financial health of the district, and to put together a plan for the future.

Several members are associated with Williams College. They include Williams College Director of Public Affairs James Kolesar, Williams associate provost Keith Finan, and economics professor Stephen Sheppard.

Kolesar and Finan were part of a volunteer group from Williams that last February presented a grim report about the future finances at the school. Their conclusion was that over the next several years, the school’s revenues will probably increase about 2 percent, while costs will grow by 4 percent each year.

“In the final analysis, to project balanced budgets for the school into the medium-range future will require dramatic steps by the school’s policymakers and communities to increase revenues, decrease expenses, or somehow combine the two,” the group wrote in a summary of their findings. “None of the ideas generally floated in public discussions would by itself balance the budget for very long.”

Not true! We floated plenty of ideas here. Basic problem remains that the teachers are overpaid and have ludicrously generous benefits. A majority of Williamstown residents have made it clear that they have no interest in raising taxes. Everyone in Williamstown wishes that the College would just be a nice sugar daddy and distribute money like ACE hands out back-rubs. I will do my best to fight that answer.

If you can’t run a good, even excellent, high school at $12,000 per student, the problem is not the money. The problem is the school administration and the school board which supervises it. A Williamstown resident (and alum) told me last week that the town needs a teacher strike and then to break that strike. Bring it on.


Black Griffins

This looks like an interesting Eph blog.

The mission of this society is to discuss and take active steps for the advancement of the image and representation of Black men at Williams in every branch of college life and work, and to exert itself against anything which it considers detrimental to such advancement.

Good stuff. The more voices and organizations participating in the social and intellectual life of Williams, both within the bubble and on-line, the better. On EphBlog:

Claiming to be “all things Eph,” this blog has been up for quite some time. The interesting part of it though, is that many discussions or debates take place in regards to minority issues or any sort of racial incident that may take place on campus with the lack of input from the minority community. I have been reading this blog from time to time and have been disappointed to see the attitudes that are prevailing throughout the alumni of this college and hope that by bringing exposure to this we could also start sharing our points of views and feedback.

Yes! The more voices in the conversation, the better. Now, we have stressed over and over that we would like more input from everyone on the conversations that we have at EphBlog. Given the anonymous nature of the internet, it is tough to tell just how much input we get from the “minority community,” but whatever the current volume is, I would like to increase it.

Alas, the blog has not been updated for the last 6 weeks. This is the great problem that an organization like the Black Griffins faces. They have things they want to say and an audience they would like to reach, but it is often tough to maintain a blog’s worth of commentary.

But we have a solution. Join EphBlog! You can post anything you want, anytime you want. You can reach hundreds (if not thousands) of Williams students and alumni. Please “start sharing our points of views and feedback” with us, and we with you.

The log has room for all of us. We are better off talking together than sitting apart.


Rorke ’06 in Transcript

Some idiot has an article about Michelle Rorke’s run at the Boston Marathon in the North Adams Transcript today. Pure dreck.

P.S. For anyone who clicked on the “some idiot” link … come on, that shirt’s pretty sharp, right? I could get into that.


Modern Stripper

One of the fun features of Sam Crane’s blog are his thoughts on the Modern Love column from the New York Times. I can hardly wait for his write-up on this one.

I’m a stripper by profession, a Williams College graduate of an especially liberal bent, and he’s a tattooed mortgage broker for the alternative crowd. At heart though, he and I are rock ‘n’ rollers: we each front our own band and have toured extensively. I know we are perfect candidates for the show. After all, couples therapy could use some rock ‘n’ roll, and we could use some couples therapy.

An Eph stripper? Could this be Viva Las Vegas, an EphBlog mystery of many months standing? Yes! [Album links below contain nudity.]

Not only am I a stripper, but I’m a relatively well-known stripper, who makes all of her bread and butter off the bump and grind and writing about the bump and grind. Under the name Viva Las Vegas, I’ve written about the sex industry for Exotic Magazine and The Village Voice. My band has an album called “The ‘I Need Sex’ Sessions.” Our second, “Coco Cobra and the Killers: Want You!” features a picture of me wearing a hat and boots — and only a hat and boots — on the cover. Sex is my stock in trade. Was I ready to admit on television (cable, but so what) that I rarely want to have sex?

Read the whole thing. (Hat tip to Jeff Zeeman for his earlier mention.)

Question: If Liv Osthus’s ’96 book does well, will Williams award her a Bicentennial Medal? Should it?

Google does not know much about Osthus, but the Women’s and Gender Studies Department will appreciate (?) her participation in this debate almost a decade ago.


Disgruntled Soldiers

In formatting reminiscent of Diana Davis’s ’07 orginal Anti-Blog, Assistant Visiting Professor of Statistics David Craft blogs on all sorts of topics. [Side note: I suspect that Craft’s title is actually Visiting Assistant Professor and not Assistant Visiting Professor . . . just so we have that straight.]

We are now doing the things in STATS 101 that I have been looking forward to teaching…confidence intervals and hypothesis testing, etc, but I am not sure how well classes are going. Today I felt like I was staring into a sea of disgruntled soldiers, but I wasn’t sure what anyone was disgruntled about. I think I need more treats to get us all through 65 minutes of stats.

Lots of email action after the stats 101 grades came out. Wouldn’t want to go through that again.

Been there, done that.

Best part is that Craft has a link to R on his homepage. I have been trying to convince professors at Williams, in economics and statistics, that R should be used for every stats class (STAT 101, STAT 201, ECON 253, and so on). Alas, my efforts have been a miserable failure so far.

No worries though. In 5 years or less, nothing but R will be taught at Williams. You read it here first. (Previous R work at EphBlog here and here.)


False Confessions

And then there were three.

Future historians will marvel that, even in March 2006, there were only two Williams professors with blogs. Since academia is ultimately a conversation, not having a regularly updated voice in that conversation will seem strange in a decade or so.

In any event, Marc Lynch and Sam Crane are now joined by Alan Hirsh and his Truth About False Confessions blog.

False confessions are a terrible tragedy that is largely preventable. This blog has four specific goals for combating the tragedy:

1. to educate the public and policymakers and deepen understanding of all aspects of the problem;
2. to promote specific reforms;
3. to highlight cases where public pressure might make a difference; and
4. to assist attorneys.

Welcome to the conversation.



Fun article on Middlebury economist David Colander includes:

He is also a prominent representative of another clan, the enthusiastic and committed teachers of undergraduates.

Members of this clan are not so rare, being fairly freely distributed in colleges and universities around the world, but they are always to be found in the best economics departments among the best American small colleges — such as Swarthmore, Wellesley, Williams, Amherst, Grinnell, Carleton, Pomona and, in his case, Middlebury.

“Research is nice,” says Colander, “but good teaching is priceless.”

So true. And true at Williams for me 20 years ago. But is it still true today? I hope so, but I worry. Consider the recently redone homepage of the economics department. Here is the (appropriate and accurate) bragging that the department provides about its research.

Department members present results of their ongoing research at weekly economics faculty seminars throughout the academic year. The Department has recently been ranked first among economics departments at national liberal arts colleges based on research publications (J. Hartley and M. Robinson, “Economics Research at National Liberal Arts Colleges: School Rankings,” Journal of Economic Education, Fall 1997). In addition to the faculty’s own research, the Department and the Center for Development Economics regularly bring in economists from other institutions to present work in progress. The Department has three working paper series — Research Memoranda on economic development topics, Discussion Papers from the Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education, and Research Papers on all other topics. These papers are distributed to a large number of individuals and institutions in the U.S. and other countries and we receive their working papers in exchange.

The department is part of NEUDC network, a major forum for the field of development economics. The location and sponsorship of the annual NEUDC conference rotates among the organizing institutions: Williams College, Boston University, Cornell University, Harvard University and Yale University.

Here is what it has to say about teaching.

Now, that isn’t totally fair. There is a bit (below the research section) about courses offered and the like. But there is no bragging, nothing about small classes or committed teachers. The word “tutorial” appears nowhere.

If the teaching section of your department homepage is indistinguishable from that of a research university, then you may be (and definitely appear to be) quite a distance away from Mark Hopkins and the log.

No one comes to Williams (or should come to Williams) because the economics department does a lot of research. They come to Williams for the teaching. Does the Economics Department recognize that?

Imagine that you are a high school student interested in economics and trying to choose between, say, Harvard and Williams. The only thing that a comparison of their websites make clear is that the Harvard professors are, unsurprisingly, much more famous and well-published. There is no information about how much more substantive interactions you would have with your professors at Williams. (I would not expect Harvard to advertise the lack of interaction.)

I was having lunch with a Harvard senior a few months ago. I mentioned that, at Williams, virtually all the written comments on papers were made by actual professors. “Really?”, she said. She had no idea how radically different her undergraduate experience would have been at Williams. The homepage of the economics department is one cause of this problem.


Even Cornell Gets It!

According to an article in the NY Times, even Cornell understands that the appearance its website is important, if not crucial.

“Today, a Web site is the face of the university,” Mr. Cohen said. “It’s often the first way that high school students see Cornell. Not all administrators understood that.”

The university redesigned the Web site and the view book more than a year ago, and the students think the new versions are more traditional and more elegant.

So why are we still stuck with the current fugly purple-and-gray faux-Amherst circa 2002 garbage? Obviously, because either (1) our administrators DON’T understand the importance of the appearance of, (2) because they negligently don’t care about how hideously ugly and generic it is as long as it’s functional, or (3) because they’re blind and/or don’t look at what other colleges are doing, so they don’t see it as hideous.

Either of those three reasons is impermissible (except for actual physical blindness, of course). We demand better! This problem is obvious, the need to address it is pretty close to unanimous judging by our comments from the entries on this topic, and pretty damn easy to accomplish compared to all the other things we complain about here on EphBlog.

So why hasn’t it been fixed yet? Will we have to drop to #2 or #3 before this gets changed? Let’s hope not.



Rachel Barenblat ’96 met with Thandeka, her professor at Williams.

Thandeka taught the first religion course I ever took, in the spring of my freshman year of college. It was called “The Mysticism of the Self,” and in it we explored the nature of God, selfhood, and mysticism in the writings of Augustine and Martin Luther. It was tremendously challenging. I loved it so much I majored in religion.

The following year I took her course “Eve and the Snake” — a semester-long exploration of the dual creation narratives in Genesis, seen through a variety of lenses. That was my introduction to feminist Biblical criticism; under her tutelage I read Judith Plaskow for the first time. Thandeka inspired my undergraduate thesis, at least in part. She shaped my college experience, and by extension the years that followed.

Many of my friends studied with her; I suspect most remember her with a mixture of reverence and awe.

Alas, I do not think my students ever thought of me with a “mixture of reverence and awe.” Kudos to Thandeka for being such a fine professor.

Those with long memories will recall that Thandeka was denied tenure in what was, I think, one of the most controversial decisions of the 1990s. (The others were probably Lisa Wright and Mark Reinhardt (who appealed and won).) Someone ought to add a snippet about this story to Willipedia.

I suspect that the cause involved concerns about her (lack of?) research output, but the on-line Record archives do not go back that far. Anyone recall the story? I could easily imagine someone like Mark Taylor not thinking of Thandeka with a “mixture of reverence and awe.” But maybe that’s just me!


And the Winners Are . . .

EphBlog is pleased to annouce that the new Neighborhood names will be the same as . . . wait for it . . . the current neighborhood names! (Thanks to AB ’07 for telling us this information and giving us permission to report it.) Comments:

1) Kudos to CUL for ensuring that the voting was done by slates and that the current names were one of the options.

2) Kudos to the students for voting so wisely. The current neighborhood names won on the first ballot. The lowest vote getter (appropriately) was the Beatles slate. I don’t have data on how the other slates did, but I hope that the mountain names came in second and the Ninja Turtles came in third.

3) Kudos to AB and the other members of the Governance Subcommittee for all the time and effort that they put into the process.

As always, we here at EphBlog criticize the CUL and the Administration frequently, often vociferously and occasionally unfairly. But, now that clusters are here, we hope that they will be as successful as they possibly can be. The efforts of AB and students like him toward this end deserve praise. Let us praise them!


Do it in the dark

The Do it in the dark contest is garnering some nice publicity for Williams. ABC News talks about it in some detail, and Tom Friedman mentions it at the beginning of his editorial “The Greenest Generation” (subscription link, Lexis-Nexis version here).

You can read contest details in this flyer, and even check on weekly meter readings (both links go to PDFs). Congratulations to Bryant, Carter, and Goodrich so far…but I wonder what’s going on in Hubbell and Parsons?

(Hat-tip to Morgan Goodwin ’08, Alan Cordova ’06, and Katherine Craig ’08.)


Someone gets it

Kudos to the Williams web team for making the audio of Tom Friedman’s talk available online. This is a good start. My hope is that, eventually, video of most campus events will be streamed online and made available for later download.


Let me be the first …

to post this article by the Eph alum with the most atypical career path. Based on her age, she was likely a classmate of mine, or close. Yet, I have never heard of her — either a function of my lack of coolness at college, (most likely), or else she grew up on Osthus Lane with a dog named Liv …


The Lobby

Dan Drezner ’90 has more thoughts on the Jewish lobby.

There appears to be a general assessment that Mearsheimer and Walt have gotten two things right:

1) You need to factor in interest group politics when you try to explain U.S. policy towards Israel and/or the wider Middle East — including, most obviously, AIPAC;

2) Mentioning this fact can put one at risk of being called anti-Semitic, which stunts debate on the topic.

Read the whole thing. Like EphBlog, Drezner generally occupies a sensible middle ground in most contentious debates.


Breath of Heaven and Earth

If you read nothing else from Eph Planet, you should read Sam Crane’s reflections on the loss of his son Aidan one month ago.

I must say that losing a child is much harder than an insect shedding its skin. Love makes us feel a certain possession. But the point here is the same as Chuang Tzu’s: there can be no loss. We do not possess our own lives, though we think we do; they are lent to us for a time, a brief time in cosmic terms. Instead of fretting over them as if they were possessions, we should simply live them and find joy in our immediate senses and experiences. We do not possess our children. They, too, are the “breath of heaven and earth.” What matters is that they are in our lives, even when they are physically absent.

Aidan still swirls in the vast movements of the breath of heaven and earth, whether it is one month after his death, or a year, or a century.

Read the whole thing.


Photo ID, #44

This is a rather nice picture, framed with the trees and all. Do you know what place of business I was standing in front of when I took it? If you look closely, you can see the result of a building project from last summer in the bottom left of the picture.



Election Reports?

Those far away would love firsthand reports of the elections. What are the cluster names? How did the voting go? Were the meetings well-attended and well-run? Tell us the story.

UPDATE: In Spencer we have:

President – Chris Upjohn
Treasurer – Toni Kreava
Community Liaison – Ted Wiles
Historian – Amari Richardson

It would still be nice to get some reporting. Were there any common opinions about cluster names?


Election Trouble?

Although everyone hopes that the Neighborhood elections tonight will be well-run, I have my worries. There are a lot of moving parts and no one has done this before. Perhaps it would have been wise to iron out the difficulties with one neighborhood first. Anyway, see below for the full e-mail sent out to Spencer House residents. Note:

Please remember to rank your choices (from 1 for your top choice, 2 as your second choice, and so on) when you vote for president and when you vote for the cluster naming system.

Why is a ranking needed? As far as I can tell, there has been no information to the students about the rules that will be used. It certainly does not sound like we are going to have a series of rounds like Olympic-city-selection. Presumably, there is some already-decided algorithm, but one needs to know the precise algorithm to cast a sensible vote.

AB ’07 passed along a copy of what I think is the actual ballot. It reads:


Wikipedia reports that “instant runoff voting”:

is an electoral system used for single winner elections in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. In an IRV election, if no candidate receives an absolute majority of first preferences, then the candidates with fewest votes are eliminated one by one, and their votes transferred, until one candidate has a majority.

Are there reasons for individual students to vote strategically? That is, should a student really put her second choice second if she is concerned that it might beat out her first choice? My head hurts too much to go through this, but Wikipedia has endless details.

I trust that CUL will publish the raw votes cast, perhaps even telling us which votes came from which cluster. This will be interesting in its own right as well as giving everyone faith in the process.

Read more


Cluster Candidates

Below the fold are the candidates for the different cluster positions. Thanks to AB ’07 of the CUL governance committee for providing them to us. Future historians will thank him! Apologies for the formatting.

Read more


Cluster Names

Oh, Ephraim, save us from CUL! Here are the official cluster name choices:

A) Berkshire (Currier) / Taconic (Dodd) / Hoosac (Spencer) / Stone Hill (Wood)

B) Aristotle (Currier) / Virgil (Dodd) / Aquinas (Spencer) / Dante (Wood)

C) Raphael (Currier) / Michelangelo (Dodd) / Leonardo (Spencer) /Donatello (Wood)

D) Harrison (Currier) / McCartney (Dodd) / Lennon (Spencer) / Starr (Wood)

E) Pyro (Currier) / Terra (Dodd) / Aqua (Spencer) / Aero (Wood)

F) Currier (Currier) / Dodd (Dodd) / Spencer (Spencer) / Wood (Wood)

Please vote for F, or at least A. All the others (with the possible exception of C) are too stupid to merit consideration. Previous discussion here.


0) Kudos to CUL for, it seems, organizing the vote as a series of slates and for including the current names as an option. EphBlog would claim credit for this, except that many observers made the same suggestions.

1) Is this information public? I realize that it has been sent to students, but there are plenty of alumni and faculty who might chime in with useful comments. Again, I realize that the folks on CUL are doing their very bestest, but it would have been better to distribute some sort of draft list sometime prior to the day of the election. (I guess that I should have made this suggestion earlier.) There is certainly no reason now for keeping it secret.

2) What is the rational behind these names? A competent committee would both provide the names and background information on where the names come from and why they make sense. Perhaps there is some good reason why McCartney is Dodd and Lennon is Spencer rather than vice versa, but I doubt it. Naming schemes without rationals are stupid. At least with Hogwarts we made an extensive effort to tie the names to actual Williams history.

3) Speaking of which, why is there not a Hogwarts option? I could understand a generic refusal for having pop culture names and/or names with no Williams connection but, having included the Beatles, there is no reason to exclude Harry Potter. Is there any doubt that, if they were forced to choose between just the Beatles and Harry Potter, most students would choose the latter? Call me paranoid but I do not think that EphBlog’s efforts on behalf of a Hogwarts scheme helped it get a place on the ballot.

4) Choice C) is (vaguely) clever in that most people will just see it as famous artists while pop culture aficionados will recognize the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Julie Esteves originated this scheme in the WSO Discussion.

Who will win? Tough question! What are the rules? If there is just one vote, I expect that choice F will (thankfully) win easily. The vote-for-goofy-names crowd will be split among the several goofy options. If instead the rules involve and Olympic-city-choosing-style of several rounds with the lowest vote getter eliminated each time, there is a chance that the last two might be, say, C and F. All the students who, in previous rounds, preferred B, D and E might then vote for C rather than F.

My money is on F (most students are sensible and will realize that goofiness grows old after a while) or A. It would have been nice to see some reasoning about why certain mountains were chosen for certain clusters. Perhaps location? Is Dodd (Tyler?) closest to the Taconic range? Greylock would have been a better choice than Stone Hill.

Good luck to all!


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