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Flying Off The Bat

Chris Kenney ’06 ’07 played some fine baseball this spring.

By baseball standards, a good hitter is considered to be any player with a .300 batting average or above. Ted Williams is remembered for having the best hitting season in Major League history, batting .406 in 1941. No other major leaguer has reached the .400 mark since — 65 straight years of finishing second-best to the Splendid Splinter.

For these reasons and more, the season put forth by Williams College catcher Chris Kenney this year should amaze the most novice baseball fans. Through 38 games, the Ephs junior is hitting an astounding .507. He leads Williams, a squad which is tops in the NESCAC with .363 average, with 74 hits, 22 doubles, 53 RBI and 113 total bases.

Kenney won NESCAC player of the year. Perhaps the Eph baseball mafia will be able to get him a spot on a minor league team as it did for Jabe Bergeron ’04.

UPDATE: Dick Quinn points out that Kenney is actually a junior and plays center on the football team.

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Advice

Where should members of the class of 2010 turn for advice? EphBlog, of course! We are happy to post any and all questions. Our readers will provide the answers.

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Ephs Who Have Gone Before

Who is this Eph?

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He is Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Myles will not be in Williamstown for reunion weekend, for he has passed away. He leaves behind no wife, no children nor grandchildren. He never attended a Williams reunion.

Fox was, in many ways, an Eph of both his time and ours. He was a Junior Advisor and captain of the soccer team. He served as treasurer in the Student Activities Council, forerunner to today’s College Council. He was a Gargoyle and secretary of his class. He lived in Wood House.

Fox was killed in August 1942, fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. He was a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served in a Marine Raider battalion.

Fox’s citation for the Navy Cross reads:

For extraordinary heroism while attached to a Marine Raider Battalion during the seizure of Tulagi, Solomon Islands, on the night of 7-8 August 1942. When a hostile counter-attack threatened to penetrate the battalion line between two companies, 1st Lt. Fox, although mortally wounded, personally directed the deployment of personnel to cover the gap. As a result of great personal valor and skilled tactics, the enemy suffered heavy losses and their attack repulsed. 1st Lt. Fox, by his devotion to duty, upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.

On Memorial Day, America honors soldiers like Fox who died in the service of their country. I think that it has been more than 30 years since an Eph has given his life as Fox did. With luck, military Ephs like Bungee Cooke ’98, Kathy Sharpe Jones ’79, Dan Ornelas ’98, Zack Pace ’98, JR Rahill ’88, Jerry Rizzo ’87, and Dan Rooney ’95 will survive this war. It would be more than enough to celebrate their service on Veterans’ Day.

Those interested in descriptions of what combat was like for Marines in the South Pacific during World War II might start with Battle Cry by Leon Uris or Goodby, Darkness by William Manchester. The Warriors by J. Glenn Gray provides a fascinating introduction to men and warfare.

A Navy destroyer was named after Fox. As far as I know, he is the only Eph ever to be so honored. The men who manned that destroyer collected a surprising amount of information about him. It all seems both as long ago as Ephraim Williams’s service to the King and as recent as the letters from Felipe Perez ’99 and
Joel Iams ’01.

Note: As long as there is an EphBlog, there will be a Memorial Day entry along these lines. To those who have gone before.

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Potboilers

Dan Drezner ’90, having tired of writing about foreign affairs, is now into literary criticism.

I like potboilers more than I like highbrow fiction. If I was strapped to a polygraph and had to confess which novel moved me the most in the past 25 years, I’d have to cop to Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs.

So….. the hardworking staff here at danieldrezner.com encourages it’s readers to submit their choice for the greatest mass-market novel of the past 25 years!! [How is that defined?–ed. Any novel that was popular enough to eventually be released in a mass-market paperback.] My choice is Silence of the Lambs — let me know yours.

The Face by Dean Koontz is my choice.

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[College] Run Like Day Care

An article in today’s The Boston Globe entitled, “Ex-dean says Harvard run like day care,” starts off by saying, “Harvard University leaders are running the school like ‘a day care center for college students,’ trying to dazzle undergraduates with concerts and a new pub, rather than teaching them to be responsible citizens.” The article summarizes the views of Harry Lewis, the former Dean of Harvard College, that he states in his new book, Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education.

The article goes on to say,

…the book is the result of his attempt to make sense of the forces pushing his beloved university into a “consumerist” mode.

He said that other elite universities suffer many of the same problems.

Parents paying the full cost of Harvard, or $41,675 this year, “expect the university to treat them like customers, not like acolytes in some temple they are privileged to enter,” Lewis writes.

They routinely call professors to complain about their children’s grades, he writes, and they believe that the university should erase any evidence of bad academic performance or personal misconduct, excusing those failings as symptoms of psychiatric problems or disabilities.

Harvard, meanwhile, participates in the coddling, Lewis said. Administrators, he argues, get carried away with their concern about Harvard’s low scores on a student satisfaction survey, compared with peer institutions.

That American colleges are taking a consumerist bent is not a new concept. Professor Fred Rudolph ’42, an expert on the history of American colleges and universities, made that point in a lecture he gave at Williams in 1993. (A transcript of the lecture is in the appendix of the current paperback version of his book, Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872.)

So the question arises, has Williams been equally obsequious to students, or has it done a better job of combining education and consumerism than Harvard?

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On-line Syllabi

In a fun discussion at Easily Distracted, Tim Burke writes:

I do agree, as I noted to Ralph above, that it would be worth having profession-wide standards of information collecting and transparency. Syllabi should all be posted, we should have a way of making teaching practices more transparent, there should be a relatively neutral professional body interested in observing and collecting data about classroom practices.

Agreed. Why aren’t all Williams syllabi posted on-line? Shouldn’t they be? Perhaps the CEP could take a look.

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Photo ID, #48

This isn’t really a Photo ID, because it’s hard to identify a ridge and some clouds (feel free to try). This is merely some pictures of beautiful clouds that I saw one day at Williams. I whipped out my camera when I saw them and took as many pictures as I could before they became less beautiful.

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There are three more in the extended entry. Click for the big versions (which are grainy, because I used a high ISO — sorry). Also, by the way, these pictures are unphotoshopped. I tried photoshopping them, and they became less beautiful.

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Burt K. Todd ’46

Burt K. Todd ’46 died in mid-May. In its opening paragraphs, The New York Times obituary notes,

Son of a wealthy Pittsburgh steel, glass and banking family, Mr. Todd combined the larger-than-life appetites of an F. Scott Fitzgerald hero with the lust for adventure of a 19th-century explorer. His job defied description, although it entailed both the businessman’s art of the deal and the confidence man’s gift of gab.

A dazzling raconteur, Mr. Todd flew airplanes and maintained an impressive collection of vintage cars. He hunted leopards and rhinoceroses and once was treed in Bhutan by a rampaging elephant.

Impulsive, expansive, incurably restless, Mr. Todd might bundle his family into his jet on short notice. His sense of direction was not the best, and they didn’t always wind up where they intended. Wherever Mr. Todd turned up, something exciting was likely: a great story, a new friendship or perhaps a deal involving rum, seaweed or other goods.

Mr. Todd finessed his way into graduate school at Oxford despite having only one year of college; he trekked hundreds of miles through Nepal and was the first American to visit Bhutan, the last of the forbidden kingdoms of the Himalayas.

In short, an 81-year life full of zing.

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Your Number Here

Brent Yorgey ’04 has found your phone number on-line.

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CNBC Eph

After all the back and forth on Athletes and International students, I thought I’d bring up a lighter topic. A friend of mine recently brought to my attention that Erin Burnett ’98 started working as a contributor on multiple shows on CNBC. Her profile can be found here. So congratulations to her.

Also just FYI she was an athlete at Williams. Sorry I had to do it.

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International Student Qualifications and Performance

At the end of our discussion on Barnard’s proposal for an academic index for NESCAC, a current eph provides a thoughtful set of questions about the qualifications and performance of international students at Williams. Let me highlight some of his questions, make some comments and invite comments from others.

1) There is a great senior thesis to be written on this topic, advised by someone like Morty or Gordon Winston. If you’re an economics major interested in writing a thesis (especially someone considering graduate school), I urge you to consider it. As current eph notes:

If we’re trying to measure “performance” at Williams, I believe PBK is a rather poor way of doing it. We should really be looking at the entire grade distribution, and comparing like-students to like-students. In other words, we should be comparing internationals with non-URM, non-tipped, non-legacy USA students…which if I’m not wrong make up less than half of the class. Based on the data we have, we should consequently expect to see International students relatively evenly distributed among the top 40-50% of the class, falling a little more heavily at the extremes (because as previously discussed, d3 majors tend to get grades more towards the extremes). From an International class NOT affected by admissions bias, we should expect to see international students ranging from slightly below average, to PBK, with a slightly higher than average proportion falling under PBK (15-20%, rather than the 12% otherwise expected). I would bet that if you look at a 5-year average of grade distributions at Williams, you’d find results very similar to this.

This is an excellent point. Unfortunately, there is no public information that I am aware of on the topic, although every professor that I have heard from sings the praises of international students in the classroom.

A thorough study would need to be careful of what the fair comparison group is (all US students or, as current eph argues, all non-URM, non-tip US students) and adjust for tendencies to major in different fields, especially when some fields like Division 3 have higher variance in their grade distributions (therefore generating more PBK’s even if the average grades are the same). Note also that major choice depends on qualifications (how many AR 4s and below at Williams become physics majors?) so there is some endogeneity here. I do not think that the legacy issue matters much since legacies receive much smaller advantages than tips and URMs.

2) Although academic performance at Williams has not been studied closes, as far as I know, we have good evidence, I think, on the extent of bias in the admissions process. Recall what Jim Kolesar wrote:

But a college that gave itself over to educating mainly international students, which is eventually what would happen given the numbers, would have a significantly different mission, very different standing with U.S. prospective students, and greatly altered relationship with government, donors, etc.

I read this to mean: “If Williams did not have an international quota today of 6% of the class, an unbiased admission system would produce a Williams class of at least 30% international students.” This is consistent with second-hand reports I have heard about the large numbers and high quality of applicants from, especially, China and Eastern Europe.

Could I be reading this wrong? Sure! Perhaps Jim means that “Given the numbers of international applicants that would come in the future, Williams would become majority international 20 years from now.”

My main claim is that I have never heard anyone with knowledge of the admissions process deny that the current international quota of 6% at Williams is binding, that, in the absence of a rigid quota, Williams wouldn’t be much more international (10%, like Harvard/Yale? 15%? 30%?). But maybe I am wrong. Has anyone heard differently?

3) If it is true, that the international quota is binding, that a blind process would lead to 15% or whatever international, then we can be fairly certain that the admissions department took the best portion of that pool. That is, I would expect international students at Williams to have an average academic rank very close to 1. Since AR is an excellent predictor of academic success at Williams, it stands to reason that any group with AR 1 will do better at Williams than any other group with a lower average AR.

But, again, the comparison group is key, as current eph points out. If you get rid of tips, URMs and legacies, it is not clear that average AR for the remaining students is that far from 1 either. In fact, another way to look at it is that there is a quota for non-tip, non-URM and non-legacy (TUL) students at Williams. Indeed, there are only 250 or so spots open once those groups are taken care of. Is the cut-off for the top 250 US students that different than that for the top 30 international. Probably, but maybe not. Maybe the international quota isn’t really that binding because international applicants don’t compete against TUL applicants at all. International applicants only really complete against non-TUL applicants and, in that competition, the quota doesn’t matter much.

I appreciate current eph taking the time to outline these views. Informed comments are welcome.

4) I’ll leave aside for now the many comments on how one might measure “performance” at Williams. I think that everyone (current eph and Graham especially) has a useful perspective on this. I have argued elsewhere that the College, to the extent that it cares about such things, should do a better job of measuring them and then trying to tilt admissions toward them. I think that this is very hard to do (outside of spots and music), so I am suspicious of moves in that direction. In all of the above, I am just talking about academic performance which is only one aspect of one’s time at Williams.

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Welcome to the Gutter

Professor Sam Crane writes on casinos in Singapore.

There used to be a time, not too long ago, when the Lees of Singapore tried to position themselves as morally superior to decadent, overly liberal American culture. That was the whole “Asian Values” thing of the 1990s, something that does not seem to get talked about anymore in Singapore, or just about anywhere else for that matter. I was always deeply skeptical of these claims, seeing them as a thin excuse for continued autocratic rule. Now, it seems, the Lees themselves have pretty much given up trying to distinguish a morally righteous Singapore from a hopelessly debauched America.

I do not want to be a scold here. Although I have never been to a casino, I imagine it might be fun. And I enjoy a bit of hedonism as much as the next guy. My only question here is: what happened to Lee’s vaunted Confucian righteousness?

Read the whole thing. Some of Sam’s economic analysis is probably, uh, debatable, but no Eph has more interesting things to say about Asia.

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A Posse of Students

There’s an interesting article in The New York Times today entitled, “In Search of Standouts Who May Not Stand Out Enough.” It describes a program run by the Posse Foundation, in which talented urban students are selected and then groomed for attending colleges such as Brandeis, Bryn Mawr, Lafayette College, and Pomona. After going through a selection process which includes interviews and seeing how well they work with others, the chosen students are then grouped by the college they will attend, creating a “posse.” They bond before they get to college, and therefore help each other over the rough spots while they’re at college.

A creative way to help and support solid students who may not have made it to a selective college on their own.

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Severed Ties

Williams Trustee Toby Cosgrove ’62 got a mention in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal two weeks ago.

One of the country’s most prestigious and entrepreneurial medical institutions, the Cleveland Clinic has come under sharp criticism for the web of relationships that have entangled many of its doctors and trustees. One of its most prominent physicians, Dr. Eric J. Topol, was criticized after his role at an investment firm became public.

And the clinic’s chief executive, Dr. Delos Cosgrove, was involved with several medical companies and was active in the clinic’s own venture capital activities. Dr. Cosgrove, a heart surgeon and inventor, has defended the clinic’s emphasis on working with for-profit companies to develop new treatments.

Dr. Topol, who has renounced his ties to industry, including the investment firm, has since left the clinic. Dr. Cosgrove has also severed his ties to outside companies as well as the clinic’s venture activities, which will now be directly overseen by the trustees responsible for the clinic’s investments, said a clinic spokeswoman, Eileen Sheil.

Good for Cosgrove. Did EphBlog’s previous criticism of Cosgrove’s attitude (here and here) play a part? Probably not. But it is still fun to see that we are #3 on a Google search for Toby Cosgrove.

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A NESCAC Academic Index

Baseball Coach Dave Barnard writes on the need for an academic index for NESCAC.

In Support of an NESCAC Academic Index for Athletes
by Dave Barnard, Head Baseball/Ast. Football Coach, Williams College
May 18,2006

It has been 2 years since Williams College was won a NESCAC championship or even a NESCAC playoff game in a men’s American team sport (football, basketball, baseball, hockey and lacrosse).

Since it seems clear that we are not going to put the Jeannie back in the bottle in terms of admitting 7’s as athletic tips (SAT scores of 1150-1250), Williams should be leading the effort to adopt a league-wide academic index (minimum standards based on each school’s median SAT scores) and a NESCAC enforcement mechanism just as Harvard, Yale and Princeton did when Penn rattled off several consecutive Ivy League football championships in the 1980’s with kids who could not get into any other Ivy league school.

It has now gotten to the point where Williams has very little academic overlap with any other school in the league except Amherst in those sports (Amherst will go lower than us for an impact player and has admitted to taking 75 priority listed athletes for 6 fewer sports than Williams). We have no players with less than 1250 SAT’s and all other NESCAC schools except Amherst have no significant starters with SAT’s over 1250. Since the pool of players is much larger at the lower SAT levels (there might also be an inverse correlation between SAT scores and ability to play men’s American team sports) it stands to reason that the schools that take the lower academic kids have the best players and thus the best teams.

I don’t think it’s fair to our male team sport student-athletes to put them into situations where they are at a competitive disadvantage within the league.

When an academic index has been brought up by Williams coaches internally or by Williams athletic administrators at league meetings we immediately hear opposition from the biggest offenders of the two standard deviation rule, schools who not coincidentally don’t require SAT scores. “How can we have an academic index when we don’t require SAT scores?” is the standard retort. Of course, the main reason those schools don’t require SAT scores is so they can admit players who wouldn’t otherwise academically qualify.

Rules without enforcement are meaningless, evidence the 14 slot rule in football and the 66 NESCAC athletic priority admit agreement. Amherst had 28 freshmen football players on their roster last year. At this point I don’t think that the other NESCAC schools even pretend to adhere to 66 athletic priority admits.

Several years ago in a position paper entitled “It’s All About Who Gets In,” I predicted that if Williams unilaterally reduced athletic priority slots while eliminating low band admits it would “simply be a matter of time before our teams are significantly less competitive.” That statement has certainly come to fruition for the men’s American team sports. If we don’t push for league-wide minimum SAT standards and enforcement of those parameters I don’t see how that situation is going to change.

UPDATE: First draft contained a mistake with regard to the number of years since a NESCAC championship. It is 2, not 3. Thanks to Rory for pointing this out and to Barnard for the correction. See comment thread for full details.

My comments below:

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Channel for Charity Diary: Tax Deductible

5/22/06
I was hoping that there is an alumn out there who understands the rules of what is and what is not tax deductible. Right now it’s possible to make US tax deductible donations to sponsor our swim through the Mothers Programmes (by donating to the Mothers Programmes, specifying that the donation was inspired by our swim. Go to www.channelforcharity.org for more info).

However, we’re not sure if it’s possible to make UK tax deductible donations to our cause. We (channel for charity) are based in the UK, but our charities (the Mothers Programmes and the Williams in Africa Program) are based in the US. Can people make donations to us and deduct them from their UK taxes? If they can’t, is there something that we can do to make it possible for people to do this?

Our fundraising is going well so far. We’re still looking for more ways to connect to Williams alumns, so if any of you have any ideas, we’d appreciate help in this area.

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Zeus of the Dakota

Did you know that Edward Clark, class of 1831 was involved with the Dakota, perhaps the most famous aparment building in New York? Me neither. Note that this Clark is the grandfather of the benefactor of the Clark Art Institute.

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Productive

Seth Brown’s blog has been added to our Eph Blogroll, but I don’t see one of those fancy feed thingamajigs, so I don’t know if he’ll ever make it to Eph Planet. In the meantime, who needs Eph Planet when you have me to read every Eph blog and pick out the good parts?

I realize I haven’t blogged much of late, but that’s not always a bad thing. I was saying to another humor writer I recently met that I have a day job, writing work, and a blog, and I can accomplish two out of three. More often than not it’s the day job and the blog, but lately I’m hoping to do the day job and the writing work. Of course, in an ideal world, I don’t need a day job and I just do the writing.

My point is, if I haven’t updated my blog in a long time, sometimes it means I’ve actually been vaguely productive.

And, since I post most every day, that must mean that my day job productivity is . . .

Hmmmm.

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Photo ID, #47

Professor Burger of the math department called this my best picture from my winter study photography class. At the time, I didn’t even realize that the camera was in the picture. I’m sort of sad that it is (so was Professor Burger). However, it allows us to have the webcam of progress on the new student center.

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So, this is an easy one, but what is the building pictured on the left side of this picture?

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Ten Years Ago

Where were you ten years ago today? Readers of The Game of Life will recall the story of the Williams women’s lacrosse team, spending May 18, 1996 in Williamstown taking exams while the Amherst team that they had thrashed during the season took their place in the NCAA tournament. Williams was ranked #2 in the nation at the time. The Record archives don’t go back that far, but I believe that it was the biggest campus dispute of 1996. (Someone should add an entry to Willipedia.)

Start here to read the sad story. I am certain that those Ephs, having gone on to careers and marriage and children, are still more than a bit bitter over the lost opportunity. Indeed, there was a letter in the Alumni Review a few years ago on the topic.

There is little doubt in my mind that it would have been better to let those women play.

And — Good news! — Williams continues to get better with each passing year. The Eph softball team is heading to the NCAA championship this week-end. Finals be damned!

Whether they are prepared or not, these final weeks in college provide a unique dichotomy for the Williams softball Class of 2006. While their school year is winding down, their athletic careers have reached the highest level possible.

“Right now, I’m focusing on getting my thesis done,” Hard said. “And then I’ll focus on softball as soon as we head out of here tomorrow. I’m trying to take it one step at a time.”

Coincidentally or not, since Williams head coach Kris Herman took over the squad three years ago, it has been her goal for the Ephs to improve one year at a time. In her inaugural year, Williams lost in the New England Regional finals. Last season, her squad reached the Championships, but went two and out.

Obviously, the next step would be to improve on that.

Herman sounds like an excellent coach. I hope that she gives a toast to the 1996 women’s lacrosse team the evening before the first game in Raleigh. One of the reasons that her team has an opportunity today is because they fought so hard a decade ago.

Side note: Herman has told softball alumni that she wants to involve them more in the program, connect them to current students. Excellent idea! One way to start would be to have someone on the team write and Eph Diary about the next three weeks here at EphBlog. There is a great story to be told.

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Dr. Seuss on Cluster Housing

The recent Williams Trivia contest featured a request to “”Give us a perspective on cluster housing in the style of Dr. Seuss.” Great question. Where is the archive of answers? Seth Brown ’01 (author of the definitive anchor housing limerick) was kind enough to send us his. If you love anchor housing the way that we love anchor housing, you should read the whole thing.

Once, in the land of the Truffular Trees
Where the leafpeepers came to watch leaves in the breeze
And the students would never get F’s, D’s, or C’s
Lived a hermit named Mortoise, the Tortoise, you see.

Now, old Mortoise was friends with young Yertle the Turtle
And thought that the students had needed a hurdle
To stop them from living wherever they please
In the land of the triffular Truffular trees.

“There are students,” said Mortoise, “who live with their friends
And the sports teams together, and WARPies, and Splends,
And they’re all far too happy, tonight it all ends.”

So then Mortoise, he hatched a craptacular plan
Which would on the free agency put a great ban
So the students could not live with their friends at all
When they came back to college the following fall.

“We’ll have anchors,” he said, “These big metal contraptions,
Which weigh people down, and by doing this action
The students can’t live with whomever they think,
And if they float an alternate plan, it will sink.”

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Head Bumping

Kim Daboo ’88 has notes from the toddler front.

We’ve reached the stage of toddlerhood in which Oliver is starting to look like an abuse victim. He managed to get two big bumps on the head within 10 minutes this morning. And the only thing that upsets Oliver more than a bump on the head is having ice put on the bump. So he’s sporting two large lumps, not quite symmetrical, as the bouncing off the sliding glass door wasn’t nearly as substantial as the whack from landing on the baby gate latch.

He was especially grumpy this morning even before the head bumping, due to waking up at 4:45 and having his parents spend 90 minutes trying to convince him to go back to sleep. He would look and sound like he was back to sleep, complete with snoring, only to pop up to see where I had disappeared to, just as I was nearing the door. Every time. For over an hour. He ended up flopping over in his high chair for a 10 minute catnap during breakfast with Dad.

Catnaps are good.

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Never Know the Dreams I Had

Inspiring article on Linday Payne ’06.

For the longest time Lindsay Payne did not want to talk about her battle with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). It is quite likely that everyone who jumped into the pool to race Lindsay Payne in her four competitive seasons at Williams had no idea that Lindsay had spent very little time in the pool before arriving at Williams due to ALL. Lindsay was diagnosed with ALL the summer she was 12.

Payne not only overcame ALL she went on to win seven individual NCAA titles in Div. 3, broke three NCAA Div. 3 records this year (two of her own and beat the previous record holder for a third), was named Swimmer of the Meet at the NCAA Div. 3 Championships for the second year in a row and has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials for a second time (first being in 2004) in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. In her four years at Williams Payne lowered her time in the 100 breaststroke by 7.72 seconds (from 1:08.26 to 100.54) and by 15.88 seconds in the 200 (from 2:28.71 to 2:12.83).

Lindsay Payne never used her overcoming ALL as a badge of honor or an excuse, but it did change her life and now as the 2005-06 Honda Inspiration Award winner she would like to use this opportunity to inspire other kids with cancer to continue their fight and to encourage others to donate to fund research.

Any parent has to tear up here.

Lindsay knew things were serious and she knew she needed a lot of medical help. “I was a little kid,” she said. “I just did what they told me to do. It was hard, very hard, especially losing my hair and looking like a kid with cancer and all, but I was not going to let it get to me.”

After the first 30 days of intensive therapies with ALL you must receive chemotherapy and radiation for two to three more years, treatments that are designed to knock the cancer out of you, but that also rob you of all of your strength and endurance. With ALL, once remission is achieved after 30 days of intense chemotherapy you are provided a protocol (map of treatments) that cover the next two to three years. Major treatments are done every three weeks. When the Paynes returned to Charlotte, Lindsay received treatments at the Pediatric Oncology Group at Bowman Gray in Winston-Salem.

Early on in the treatment when Mary was holding Lindsay during a particularly difficult day, Lindsay said, “You’ll never know the dreams I had.” Mary gathered herself and said, “I know it looks like this is all bad news right now and I promise you that at the end you will look back and it will all have been worth it.”

Congratulations all around.

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Gracious Parsons ’10

Nice article on future Eph tennis player Ashley Parsons ’10.

Ashley Parsons’ name is written on the tennis lineup sheet and with it comes a cool feeling of confidence and trust for Head Coach Gail Overbeck and her New Canaan Rams. It’s a sense of security which has formed from watching, in the coach’s words, “the best singles player I’ve ever had.”

That’s high praise from someone who’s seen her fair share of great singles players during an 11-year coaching career at New Canaan High School. But in this case, it’s definitely deserved. For the past four years, Parsons has been an almost guaranteed victory for New Canaan, even as she has stared down some of the best opponents the FCIAC has to offer.

“She’s got a huge drive and a fabulous work ethic,” Overbeck said of her ace. “She’s very gracious, she doesn’t have a big ego and she works and works and wants to be the best. She’s toned her body, she’s got no body fat at all, and she’s in the weight room all the time. Her life right now is tennis and her passion right now is tennis.”

Deciding on Williams College was by no means easy for Parsons, who also had her eyes on Bowdoin College. Both schools have successful Division III tennis programs and are great academically.

“My two favorite schools were Williams and Bowdoin and it came down to the night before early decision,” Parsons said. “I talked with my parents about the ups and downs of both and I finally decided on Williams, but it was a very tough decision. I knew both places I would love, so it was hard to choose.”

Parsons will be jumping from one strong program to another. The Ephs were the 2002 NCAA champions, and were the runners-up in New England Div. III last fall.

This spring, they were 8-5 and finished second in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

Williams has a young team, with four freshmen, four sophomores, and just two seniors on its spring roster of 11 players. It also has three strong freshmen coming in next year, including Parsons.

“It’ll be really tough getting a spot next year,” Parsons said. “I’m going to train a lot this summer and try and play in a lot of women’s opens. I’m going to go in as strong as I can be and hope for the best. Williams has some really strong players, but I’m hoping to get in the top of the lineup.”

Good luck to Parsons.

On a personal note, I can’t think about a tennis Eph like Parsons without thinking of two other Ephs. First is my lovely wife, traipsing down to the courts to play JV tennis, coached by Sean Sloane. She has barely picked up a racket since then, but she and her freshmen entrymate still giggle about that time, still marvel at Sloane’s patience and encouragement. Second is Lindsay Morehouse 00′, may she rest in peace.

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Literary Review

The Williams Literary Review is out. Is there a copy available on-line? Not that I can find. The editor ought to send us a pdf version. We would be happy to publish it. There are hundreds of alumni who would like to take a look. Same with Mad Cow.

Note that, if Williams only had an Office of Campus Publications, this wouldn’t be a problem.

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Who is More Macho?

EphBlog author David Rodriguez ’06 graduates next month. What shall we get him for a present? How about a rehash of the Barnard/VISTA controversy of three years ago? Perfect!

You can read my prior commentary (here, here, here, here, here and here). Rodriguez commented here and here, but those discussions did not go on as long as they should have.

Too lazy to read all that? No worries. Allow me to summarize. Barnard said some things about Latinos and baseball on a local radio show that some students found objectionable. The key comments were:

1) “It’s not easy for a Latin player to take 100 walks.”

2) “Saturday Night Live used to do a skit called ¿Quién es más macho? – ‘Who is more macho?’ There is clearly a cultural aspect involved here.”

3) “It’s no secret that Latin American players hate to take pitches so they rarely walk. It’s an ego thing. Machismo. Swing for the fences every time and damn the consequences.”

4) “It’s a cultural thing with Latin players in terms of machismo.”

You can listen to the key portions of Barnard’s interview here. Many thanks to Rodriguez for providing me with this piece of Williams history.

Wait a second! Only two of those quotes are actually from Barnard! The other two are from noted Hispanophobe Sammy Sosa and baseball historian David Marasco.

Now, without looking, which ones of the 4 are most objectionable? If you find them all equal (either all objectionable or all not), then you ought to conclude that, whatever his other faults, Barnard is no less acceptable as a speaker on the topic of the interaction between Latino culture and baseball than, say, Sammy Sosa.

I don’t have anything more to say about this than I already have above. (By the way, Barnard’s quotes are numbers 2 and 4). Read the links if you want more details. The central point is clear:

If it is not acceptable at Williams to discuss the connection between culture and individual behavior, then something is very wrong with the intellectual life of the College.

Who would disagree? In this dispute the claim can be restated as:

If it is not acceptable at Williams to discuss the connection between Latino culture and individual behavior on the baseball field, then something is very wrong with the intellectual life of the College.

Consider a different example. James Webb’s “Born Fighting : How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” argues, among other things, that Scots-Irish culture is more prone to fighting and that some stereotypes, like the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame, are accurate. Can a book like this be read and discussed at Williams? What if some students found it offensive?

The correct response is not to doubt those students. They are, in fact, offended. We should empathize with them. But, in the end, the highest value at Williams must be open-minded intellectual enquiry.

By the way, Barnard himself may be Scots-Irish. This raises a delicious question:

¿Quién es más macho? Barnard o Rodriguez?

;-)

Happy Graduation David! And welcome to the world of finance.

UPDATE: Edited slightly. An earlier draft was presented by mistake.

UPDATE 2: Two links that I included in the prior draft caused offense and consternation. (See comments below for details.) I have removed them. To be honest, I had considered not including them at all since I knew that people would be offended, but, at the same time, I like to think that most of our readers are intelligent and open-minded enough to consider unusual points of view. Indeed, one of my personal missions is to bring a broader set of opinions to the Williams conversation. There is a balance to be struck, however, and when a link causes someone like (d)avid to resign as an author, the link is not worth the candle.

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Mother’s Day

Sam Crane offers thoughts in Mother’s Day.

I think it is safe to assume that most of the early readers of the Tao Te Ching were men; they were the ones who were given education and were able to read. We might go further and suggest that the book was written – and that was a process that came not from the hand of a single author but from a long series of additions and accretions over decades, maybe centuries – for a male audience. If that is the case, then we might understand the book as a cautionary tale for men: don’t rely too much on your “manly” virtues; don’t try to dominate by force or subjugate with reason. Instead, learn from your mother.

Wise advice.

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Tablecloth Colors

“Tom” sent me a link to a Record op-ed on campus life.

I am frustrated by many of the ways in which the campus has changed, most particularly the sudden prominence of the well-intentioned but detrimental Office of Campus Life [OCL], which is locked in a stagnating cycle of its own design. By in effect naming itself “the decider” when it comes to student life, the campus life office has alienated the College’s best leaders. As a result of this rift, the office has become inwardly-focused, self-promotional and deeply resistant to constructive criticism. Student life is student-driven no longer.

No kidding. EphBlog has made this prediction over and over and over again. The more control that Williams students have over life at Williams, the better. The more people (intelligent and well-meaning though they may be) that are hired by the College to “help,” the less active students will be, almost by definition.

The main rational used by CUL in establishing OCL three years ago — All the other schools have one so it must be a good idea! — was stupid then and it is stupid now.

Writer Ainsley O’Connell ’06 tells a depressing tale. Anyone who cares about student life at Williams must read the whole thing.

When I arrived on campus, director of campus life Doug Bazuin and his staff were a distant idea, not a reality. Barb and Gail administered activities on campus, helping students schedule events from their fishbowl office at the heart of Baxter Hall. Linda Brown administered room draw, her maternal warmth and firmness easing the process. Tom McEvoy (who has since departed) and Jean Thorndike provided big-picture support and served as liaisons between students and administrators. When students were moved to champion a new policy or party idea, Tom and Jean were willing to listen, and often to lend moral and financial support. The execution fell to students, but this sense of responsibility fostered greater ownership.

Great stuff. One of the purposes of EphBlog is to capture this sort of testimony, the thanks of current students to the staff members that have done so much.

But those with long memories will note what a mockery this makes of the CUL’s discussion in 2001 of the lack of staff devoted to student life. Indeed, if there is any table which demonstrates the dishonesty/incompetence of CUL over these last 5 years it is this description Staffing at Comparable Institutions. Click on the link. Let’s take a tour. (The line for Williams (all zeroes in bold) is at the bottom.)

First, note how the JA system magically disappears. The “50 junior advisors” for Bates are listed under “Student Staff” but, at Williams, they have vanished. Second, the CUL pretends that Dean Dave Johnson ’71 does not exist. The countless hours that he spent (and spends) working with the JAs and First Years doesn’t matter. Yet you can be sure that one of the “3 Assistant Deans” at Emerson does exactly what Johnson does at Williams, although probably not as well. Third, the CUL erases all the work and commitment of people like Linda Brown and Tom McEvoy, as evoked so nicely by O’Connell.

None of this is surprising, of course. Morty decided in 2000 that there were certain things about Williams that he was going to change. By and large, he has changed them.

O’Connell goes on:

I will not dispute that in 2003 Williams needed a stronger support system for students looking to launch new initiatives and throw events open to the campus. For many, extracurricular activities had become a burden, with unreasonably long hours spent planning and preparing events down to the last detail. Yet today, some of the best and most innovative groups on campus remain far-removed from campus life, driven by highly motivated and talented individuals. Take Williams Students Online, for example, or 91.9, the student radio station: Their success lies in their student leaders, who have been willing to commit their time to making sweeping changes that have transformed WSO and WCFM, respectively.

It may have been reasonable for O’Connell not to see, in 2003, how this would all work out, but she is naive in the extreme not to see now that this evolution was inevitable. How shall we explain it to her? Imagine a different paragraph.

I will not dispute that in 2003 Williams needed a stronger support system for students looking to launch new publications and manage current ones. For many, writing for and editing student publications had become a burden, with unreasonably long hours spent planning and preparing everything down to the last detail. Yet today, some of the best and most innovative groups on campus remain far-removed from the Office of Campus Publications, driven by highly motivated and talented individuals.

In other words, why isn’t it a good idea for Williams to create an Office of Campus Publications [OCP], with a Director of Campus Publications and a staff of Campus Publication Coordinators? After all, as the meltdown of the GUL in 2001 (?) and the Record‘s inability to pick an editor-in-chief this year demonstrate, students sometimes need help. They often make mistakes. Who could deny that having someone to “help” and “support” the Record (and GUL and Mad Cow) wouldn’t make those publications better? No one. Perhaps OCP would even have prevented the demise of Rumor and Scattershot.

But would the experience of the students writing those publications be better with a bunch of (intelligent, well-meaning) paid employees of the College hovering over them? No. That should be obvious to O’Connell. Writing for and editing the Record these last 4 years has probably taught her as much about life its own self as any aspect of her Williams education. If she had had a Doug Bazuin equivalent supervising her all this time, her experience would not have been as rich, her education not as meaningful.

As always, critics will claim that I am advocating that the College provide no help or support, that we abolish the Dean’s Office. No! Some support is good, just as some social engineering is desirable. But, on the margin, the contribution of the OCL is negative.

Vibrant means “long hours spent planning and preparing events down to the last detail.” This is exactly why student institutions like WCFM, WSO and others (Trivia? Rugby? Current students should tell us more) are so vibrant. O’Connell acts as if you can have a vibrant organization or community without time and trouble, sweat and tears. In fact, you can’t.

O’Connell writes as if vibrancy appears from nowhere, that someone just sprinkles magic pixy dust on WSO and WCFM. No. Vibrancy, community, innovation and almost everything else worth having in this imperfect life require “unreasonably long hours” and “preparing everything down to the last detail.” You don’t think that Ephs like Evan Miller at WSO and Matt Piven at WCFM sweat the details? Think again.

Unfortunately, the Office of Campus Life and the Dean’s office, which oversees it, have not fostered this model. Instead, both offices have moved in the opposite direction, at times going so far as to render student involvement wholly superficial, as with the planning of this year’s Senior Week. The senior officers elected by the Class of 2006 do nothing more than choose tablecloth colors; it is assistant director of campus life Jess Gulley who runs the show. Hovering over student shoulders, the campus life staff of today is like a mother or father who wants to be your friend instead of your parent. The office should cast itself as an administrative support service, not the arbiter of cool.

Harsh! True? Current students should tell us. But note that this is not Gulley’s fault! I have no doubt that she is wonderful and hard-working, dedicated to making student life better. Each day, she wakes up and tries to figure out how to make this the best Senior Week ever. That is, after all, what the College is paying her to do. In that very act, of course, she decreases the scope of student control and involvement.

Back in the day, students handled almost all aspects of Senior Week. I still remember dancing the night away, in my dress whites, at Mount Hope Farm, the most beautiful Eph of all in my arms. No doubt this year’s seniors, 18 years younger than I, will have a fine time as well. Because of Gulley’s involvement, it may even be true that the events are better planned and organized. Yet everything that she does used to be done by students, hectically and less professionally, but still done by them.

The more that students do to run Williams, the better that Williams will be.

More commentary later. (Try to contain your excitement.) Lest the 2001 CUL table disappear down the memory hole, I have saved a copy below. (Apologies for the formatting.)

Read more

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Trivia Results

Congratulates to Awesome Sauce for hosting what appears to be a successful Williams Trivia contest(much earlier) today. Kudos also to Suite Suite Lovin’ on their victory. Now they “get to” host Trivia next January!

1) Best question: “Give us a perspective on cluster housing in the style of Dr. Seuss.” I realize that this was an Action Item, but surely there is a script or two about. Fans of CUL would love to read them.

2) No doubt participation was much higher this year than previous years because of Neighborhood Housing!

3) Best team name? Dharma Initiative!

4) It would be fun to read a recap of highlights and a summary of how the scoring went. Did anyone write one this year?

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Williams Progressive

The Williams Progressive looks like a fine addition to the set of campus publications.

The Williams Progressive is a brand new publication written and designed by
students at Williams College. Our purpose is both to educate by discussing
important political issues from a progressive perspective and to serve as
an outlet for progressive students who want to voice their opinions to the
Williams community. Various student groups devote themselves to progressive
causes, and The Williams Progressive aims to provide a forum that brings these
ideas together.

Good stuff. Here is the latest issue. (Thanks to Matt Piven ’07.) With luck, future issues of the Progressive will be available on-line.

Of course, the experienced reader of Eph publications will predict that the Progressive will follow the path laid down, in recent years, by Rumor and Scattershot. Motivated students tend to start up interesting publications but then, when they graduate, the publications perish. I hope that this doesn’t happen to the Progressive, but I predict that it will.

What would it take to create a long-lasting Eph student publication that combined the best elements of Rumor, Scattershot, the Progressive and (dare I mention it), the Free Press? I don’t know. Suggestions are welcome.

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