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Memories of Garcia Major

(Crossposted from dcat.)

Last night Nate Robinson of the New York Knickerbockers attempted what would have been the dunk of the decade in a game. On a fast break, at full run, he bounced the ball off the free throw line and tried to follow his bounce with a monster dunk. Unfortunately he missed.

This is not the first time that dcat has seen such an effort. In the second round of the 1990 ECAC college basketball playoffs, in a game in which Williams was blowing out (I believe) Babson College, Williams senior (and at the time the newly crowned all-time points scorer for the Ephs) Garcia Major, who makes my all-time all name team, attempted the exact same dunk. Unfortunately, the nefarious Babson defender practically tackled Major before he could complete what was still one of the great athletic feats I have almost seen accomplished. By the way — Majors’ coach, Williams legend Harry Sheehy, was not thrilled with such self aggrandizement and benched Major after the failed dunk attempt, though it was pretty clear that Coach Sheehy could not remain angry for long. (It was Harry Sheehy, maybe the greatest basketball player in Williams history, whose record Major broke, and that record has subsequently fallen in the midst of Williams’ incredible late 90s-early 00s run.) You can see some of the stars of Williams basketball, including Major and Sheehy, here.


Apply for the 2007 Willipedia Board

You saw David Kane’s application. Now, David is a very dedicated alum who is willing to devote many hours to writing things about Williams, but as you know, sometimes people disagree with him. Are you one of them? Then apply to be on the 2007 Willipedia board.

We want current students, and we want alums. We want a diversity of opinion, dedicated writers, and people who know things about Williams. The 2006 board has students from the classes of 2004 through 2007, and it’s been a great year, but there are some historical gaps that we just can’t fill in. For that, we need alums, from any period, really.

Guy Creese? HWC? Perhaps. One of the many people who read EphBlog and almost never, if ever, comment? Yes, probably one of you is just the person we’re looking for. So please, apply to be on the Willipedia board. You’ll be glad you did.

(And if you agree with David Kane, that’s okay, too.)

The full announcement, with all the details, is below (click the following link):

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Caucasian Achievement

This story reminded me of the sorts of trouble we Eph rightwingers made on campus 20 years ago.

The College Republicans at Boston University are protesting minority scholarships by offering the $250 Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship, CBS4 reported. The scholarship, being criticized by some on campus as insensitive, is restricted to those who are at least one-fourth white and who write two essays — one on their background and one on “what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today.”

Question: Is there an active Republican/conservative/libertarian student organization at Williams today? The website for the Garfield Republican Club seems untouched in 3 years, although it’s blog has an entry from 2004 and Amanda Boote ’07 (former GRC President?) was active on WSO back then.

If there are no active rightwingers on campus, I hope that the Admissions Office accepts at least a few, or else political discussion among students will become as narrow as that among faculty! ;-)


Religion 228T

A question:

Hey, I’m enrolled in this class.. I’ve come upon some conflicting things about the prof while reading factrak. Does anybody who’s taken this specific class have a review or some advice?

The student is wise to look for advice. Can anyone help? The course looks fascinating.

Apocalyptic thought pervades much of contemporary American culture, whether among Protestant evangelicals, new religions, novelists and filmmakers, or even scientists and environmentalists who warn of ecological catastrophe and the deadly consequences of nuclear proliferation. No, not exactly. This course will introduce, using historical, sociological, and philosophical accounts, how North Americans have thought about and continue to think about questions of the End, both in a cultural and in a personal sense.


1) Fascinating stuff. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be.

2) What’s with the “No, not exactly.”? Is that a joke, an ironic comment, a typo? I am confused.

3) The professor, Glenn Shuck, is one of three visiting assistant professors in the department. Questions: Why isn’t Mark Taylor listed as a member of the department? Why is half the department visiting? At a place like Williams, it is much better to have a large majority of the faculty be either tenured or tenure-track.

4) I wonder what “conflicting” things came up on Factrak? If they are truly scurrilous, there is no need to reprint them here, but if this is just a matter of one student who didn’t like Shuck’s style, then I would still recommend the class.

All of this raises the larger point of how well Williams as an institution does in providing information to the students about classes. In one sense, it does well. There is a lot of information out there, and Factrak helps as well. But, relative to what could be done, the information provided is pathetic. I can’t even find a syllabus for the class!

One of my ideas for revitalizing Willipedia is a focus on classes (and, possibly, professors). Students need better information about classes before they take them and are, in general, eager to provide feedback and commentary on those classes after the semester is over. Willipedia would serve as the perfect platform for fixing this market failure.

UPDATE: Thanks to Professor Shuck for providing us with a copy of his sylabus. Great stuff! Comments:

1) My advice to the original student, Eben Joondeph-Hoffer, is to meet with Shuck. Odds are that he is an engaging enthusiastic teacher, like the rest of the professors who choose to teach tutorials. Any bad chemistry would be evident in a brief chat. Assuming none is found, take the course.

2) How can you pass on a class that features Neuromancer? Cool. I am not smart enough to know how this (overrated?) book connects to “Apocalyptic thought.” Perhaps our readers can suggest a different book. The Stand?

3) I am still not sure what the “No, not exactly.” comment refers to.


Recipes from home

On what must be a slow news day, the AP covers the trend of college dining halls serving meals based on parents’ recipes:

At Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., barbecued salmon and Thai eggplant dishes had their start in students’ homes, as did the Ukrainian apple nut squares and whole-wheat cheddar buns.

Every semester or so for the last few years, Dining Services has been soliciting recipes from students – the best ones are selected for a special “recipes from home” meal, and some of the items (presumably) stay on in the regular menu cycle.

The idea sounds great in principle, but past experience of these meals has been underwhelming. I suspect that a lot gets lost in translation – while I’m sure the recipes are great in their original context, Dining Services usually only manages to serve up a not-very-appetizing facsimile.


Other Half

Jeff Delaney of Postgraduate Musings sent in this article on Clarence Otis ’77.

Clarence Otis Jr., CEO of Darden Restaurants (DRI), will never forget the Sunday drives his family took through Beverly Hills when he was a boy.

Each began and ended in Watts. In 1965, the South Los Angeles area was the scene of riots that killed 34 and injured more than 1,000, but to Otis, who was 9 at the time, it simply was home.

Otis’ father, a janitor, took his family to Beverly Hills not to gawk in envy. It was his way to show the kids another world was out there, and let them know it wasn’t out of their reach.

“Those drives showed me how the other half lived,” Otis recalls. “They made me believe another life was possible.”

Was it ever.

Two years ago this month, at age 48, Otis was named CEO of the largest casual-dining restaurant company, overseeing such mega-brands as Olive Garden and Red Lobster. He’s one of only a handful of African-American CEOs running Fortune 500 companies. At home in Orlando, he and his wife, Jacqui, are amassing one of the finest collections of African-American art in the nation.

Read the whole things. Prior EphBlog coverage of Otis here and here.

The challenges of being raised in Watts were real. There was gang activity at the time, though it was not drug-infested, Clarence Jr. notes. Growing up there, he says, he learned to interact with everyone.

He had friends who were scholars and others who became gang leaders. A few friends were killed in gang violence.

During the Watts riots, his parents wouldn’t let him and his siblings outside. After that, he had to learn how to make do on his own.

“You kind of have an urban street map in your head,” he says. “You just try to avoid the places where gangs hang out.”

Almost every black, male teen in Watts knew one drill only too well: being regularly stopped by cops and questioned. Otis recalls being stopped “several” times a year. He certainly didn’t like it, but he had little choice but to put up with it.

The whole neighborhood put up with a lot. There were few public services in Watts then, including no public transportation. “You either drove, or you didn’t get around,” he says.

But Otis had options. That’s mostly because his parents demanded good grades. And a caring guidance counselor steered Otis toward a scholarship at Williams College, a liberal arts college in Williamstown, Mass.

“A lot of people reached out to help me,” Otis says. “Positive discrimination happens, too.”

Indeed. I think that Buster Grossman ’56 had a part in this story, but I can’t find that story on-line. Note that Otis graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams. I knew lots of smart people who didn’t get PBK, but not a single dumb one who did. So, study hard young Ephs. You too can become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.


The Black-White IQ Gap

What is the most non-PC event involving an Eph this week? Probably a debate on Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute on “The Black-White IQ Gap: Is It Closing? Will It Ever Go Away?” Readers interested in an overview should go here. (PC-hardliners should avert their eyes.) The Eph connection? Jen Doleac ’03 gets thanks for her research assistance on the paper (pdf) which is the focus of the debate.


Co-ed Bathrooms

Is there a topic more fun than co-ed bathrooms? Not at EphBlog. Consider this recent thread at College Confidential.

I visited a few week ago, and I noticed that there are co-ed bathrooms. Can you request not to have a co-ed bathroom??? Not to be a prude or anything, but they’re totally horrif! I mean, am I being totally unreasonable in expecting same-sex bathrooms? I was too embarassed to ask my hostess about it… so if you know anything about that, let me know! Thanks.

That said, coed bathrooms are no big deal and I don’t think there are any complaints about it on campus. It might be weird the first few days, but eventually it doesn’t really matter if it’s a guy or a girl brushing their teeth next to you, you know? There’s a door on the toilet stall and a curtain on the shower, obviously.

I agree with gardenstategirl that coed bathrooms are a concern. Sorry but don’t want to use a bathroom with a guy next to me.

Recall that Wendy Shalit ’97 became famous for an article in Commentary on this topic.

I first became interested in the subject of modesty for a rather mundane reason — because I didn’t like the bathrooms at Williams College. Like many enlightened colleges and universities these days, Williams houses boys next to girls in its dormitories and then has the students vote by floor on whether their common bathrooms should be coed. It’s all very democratic, but the votes always seem to go in the coed direction because no one wants to be thought a prude. When I objected, I was told by my fellow students that I “must not be comfortable with [my] body.” Frankly, I didn’t get that, because I was fine with my body; it was their bodies in such close proximity to mine that I wasn’t thrilled about.


0) Can we get the basic facts straight? What percentage of first year bathrooms are single sex? I had thought that the living arrangements in Mission made single sex bathrooms the default option. Is that wrong?

1) Since there are clearly plenty of first year female Ephs who would prefer a single sex bathroom, why does the College refuse to accommodate them? Why won’t it at least ask for people’s preferences on the housing form?

2) I think that it is because the ruling mindset at Williams allows people to have different preferences for food (I am a vegan!) but not for personal modesty. Don’t want a Charlotte Simmons experience in the bathroom? Tough! If this isn’t the explanation, what is?

3) By the way, is there still a housing form for first years which asks about your noise tolerance, neatness and the like? What questions are on this form?

4) Back in the day, the College asked first years if they would prefer to live in a single sex entry. Can you imagine? Turns out that many female first years wanted this. When was this option removed and who removed it?


Nescac Football Recruits

Interesting article on two NESCAC football recruits, one of whom is headed to Williams.

This article helps answer questions raised in a recent Ephblog discussion concerning another future Class of 2011 athlete. Apparently it is kosher for tipped athletes to essentially be assured that they will be admitted to a NESCAC school via early decision (“support” of the application appears to be the operative term) prior to the December 15 notification date. Otherwise, these kids would not sound so confident about their future destinations.

If Kiely was recruited by Brown and Harvard, he must have strong credentials both on and off the field, considering the, on average, superior talent level of Ivy league football as well as the numerical limitations imposed on Harvard’s recruiting pool by the Ivy academic index system (which is toughest on the schools with the highest overall admissions standards).


Future of Willipedia

Does Willipedia have a future? Good question. Below the break are excerpts from the call for applications to the Willipedia board along with my answers. Comments:

1) Willipedia seems to be dying. The main page still wishes us all a Happy Father’s Day. Nothing wrong with that sentiment, of course, yet it indicates a lack of involvement by whoever can edit that page. Why would any first year get involved with a project so out of date? The rate of edits seems to be much lower this year than last.

2) The members of the current board that I know are excellent Ephs, just the sort of people you would want involved in this project. If anyone can make a go of Willipedia, they can.

3) I applied for the board last time but was rejected. I have had my run-ins with the board about policies concerning campus controversies. It was amusing to read some of their discussion about me in the (now closed) archives of the mailing list. I will apply again. If they are smart, they will take me and pretty much any warm body with a serious interest in Willipedia. Without more involvement, the project is doomed.

4) I am proudest of the history of the elimination of fraternities. Yet it is endlessly annoying that I can’t edit it. (AWC logins still don’t work, I think, for older alumni.) I am about to move the entire page over to Wikipedia. Indeed, anyone wanting to ensure that his contributions to history have a permanent home would be well-advised to do the same.

My answers to the application below.

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Low Bidder

Wick Sloane ’76 is a tounge-in-cheek applicant for the presidency of the University of Iowa.

I’ll take the Iowa job for the lower of $250,000 and a house or half whatever compensation package is now on the table. No raises, no bonuses, no country club memberships. I do want the difference, though, for staff development, for faculty travel and research, and for scholarships. Check out the rules for service contracting for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services. Shouldn’t these low-cost principles apply for the U.I. presidency? Of course executive recruiters say high pay is the answer. Recruiters’ pay is a percentage of total compensation. As U.I. president, I’ll also propose eliminating federal tax benefits for any university or college paying a president more than $250,000 plus a house. The job is public service, a privilege, not a hedge fund. The cheers from families every graduation are the incentive pay.

Interesting stuff. Wick and I disagree about most things political, but we agree that college administrators are ludicrously overpaid. (Perhaps a subscriber to the Chronicle of Higher Education could provide us with the latest on Morty and his peer group’s salary.) Previous EphBlog commentary/discussion on presidential pay here, here and here (one of my all-time favorite posts). The question that I asked two years ago was:

If the growth rate of 9% per year continues, then Morty (or his successor) will break the $1 million mark in 2013. As always, my question to defenders of the current system is not: Is Morty paid too much? My question is: At what point should I — as a concerned alum from whom the College is always asking for more money — become concerned that the President of Williams is being paid too much? Is it $600,000, $800,000, $1 million, $4 million or what? How much is too much? Tell me now so that I can know when to start worrying.

No one has given me a good answer.

UPDATE: I am e-mailed Wick to see if he has anything to add to the conversation. I hope that he will chime in.


Socially Awkward Networking

Major Wall Street Journal article about Mark Gerson ’94.

At some point, we need to create a collection of all the WSJ “dot” portraits of Ephs. The article opens with:

Marlin Kilgore’s day job is purchasing parts for Penske Truck Leasing Co. in Memphis, Tenn. His second job, which pays $100 an hour, is to answer questions from hedge funds and other big investors about the truck-parts makers he buys from.

The investors interrogate the 36-year-old maintenance manager about the pricing and availability of parts, about how long they last, about how the warranties work and how often they are used. What they are after is intelligence about publicly traded parts makers such as Federal-Mogul Corp., ArvinMeritor Inc. and Exide Technologies.

Mr. Kilgore’s moonlighting job is the creation of Mark Gerson, a New York networking wizard who has done for professional investors something akin to what has done for the nation’s singles. He hooks up current and former middle managers from hundreds of companies with professional investors desperate for an investing edge. Mr. Gerson has assembled an army of 180,000 “consultants” from companies ranging from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to New York Times Co., and he sells their time for top dollar.

Two things have made Mr. Gerson’s network both successful and controversial: Some of his consultants dish to investors without the knowledge of their bosses, sometimes in violation of their employers’ policies. And they are doing so at a time when federal regulators have made executives at public companies gun-shy about talking shop privately with big investors

Whole article is a fun read. See here for my take on Gerson’s company, Gerson Lehrman Group. I claim that GLG serves an important function.

Investors want information. They are willing to pay for it. Doctors (and other technical experts) have information. They are willing to sell it. GLG and other firms bring the two together. Now, obviously, if a doctor has signed a contract promising not to reveal information about X, then she had better uphold the contract. Otherwise, she could be in a world of trouble. But doctors (and nurses and even the patients themselves) who have not signed such contracts have useful information.

The markets appetite for such information is insatiable. Kudos to Gerson and others for providing such an important service. The more information available, the more efficiently our capital markets will operate. The more efficiently our capital markets operate, the more quickly we will all grow rich.

I liked this part of the article.

Mr. Gerson, who has never married, seems unsuited to the business of matchmaking. His friends describe him as socially awkward. “He’s intensely serious,” says Roger Hertog, vice chairman of AllianceBernstein Corp., who has served with Mr. Gerson on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Newark’s Democratic mayor, Cory Booker, became a fast friend of Mr. Gerson at Yale Law School. While praising Mr. Gerson’s philanthropic and professional accomplishments, he says: “He’s a little peculiar, but I relish his strangeness.”

Mr. Gerson approaches the activity of meeting people and introducing them to one another methodically and indefatigably. “Mark is the most successful networker I’ve ever met in my life,” says Ed Nicoll, the chief executive of broker Instinet and an early Gerson investor.

“The Internet has changed connectedness,” Mr. Gerson observes, enabling “people like me to become connected at young ages.”

Indeed. I just got an e-mail from a member of the class of 2011 (deferred from 2009) looking for information about summer internships. All Ephs should follow Gerson’s lead. The more networking you do, the better off you will be. Heading to Cambridge anytime soon? Drop by. Lunch is on me. We socially awkward types make for fun mealtime conversation. Really!


EphBoat: Second installment

David Kane requests more EphBoat posts. Here, I deliver. If you don’t like it, use EphBlinders.1

Today I’ll talk about the beginning of making the boat, i.e., making the hull. I think I made it out of a two-by-four; I don’t really remember, because we have a lot of random pieces of wood lying around from building our house, and it could have been a two-by-three or something unconventional like that.

I actually didn’t start out with a two-by-four from the beginning. I thought that, to make a boat, it made more sense to start out with a cylinder than with a rectangular board, so I used a leftover railing-post from building our deck. I made the ends pointy and carved out the inside in the same way as described below, but it ended up being much too short, about the proportions of a boat for two or three rowers with a coxswain (which does not exist in the rowing world). I painted that boat white and green and gave it to my dad for a birthday present, and then started over. Crew boats are actually quite long and thin, as you can see.

finished boat from above

To make the eight-with-coxswain, I took the two-by-four and cut it into something like a half-cylinder, cut the long way. To do this, my dad and I used a table saw, which is a round blade that spins, mounted on a flat surface. First we cut it so that it was about 2.5 inches wide, which was easy. Then we passed it through at various angles so that one side was approximately round. (And by “we,” I mean “my dad,” because I am quite terrified of the table saw. I rather like my fingers right where they are.) If you put the rounded side down, the crew boat is right-side up.

Once I had the (slightly-less-than-) half-cylinder, I needed to make the ends pointy. To do this, I used a jigsaw, which is a tiny saw blade that goes up and down, and is used to make wooden jigsaw puzzles or curvy cuts. I essentially just held the proto-boat up to the saw and cut off pieces at various angles until it was tapered and pointy at both ends. I cut off a little bit too much in one place, so I had to round it out with a lot of wood putty later.

boat in 2004 boat in 2006
This is the boat as of August 2004 and August 2006, respectively.

Now I had the right shape for the boat, but there was nowhere to sit inside. We took the boat and put it through the table saw sideways so that the top half-inch or so of boat was cut off parallel to the water. Now my boat was in two pieces: The top part, with two parallel faces, and the bottom part, with one flat face and the other part curved for the bottom of the hull.

The idea was to cut out most of the inside of the top part of the boat, so that it would actually be a “hull.” I drilled holes in it and then used the jigsaw to cut out the inside. I put the jigsaw table at a 15° angle so that the inside was sloped about as much as the outside, again so that it would be like a hull, or “shell.”

However, the arm of the jigsaw was not long enough to cut out the middle part; I was only able to cut out the inside of both ends. After a while of pondering this problem, I cut the boat in half (bow four and stern four are in separate parts), cut out the interior of each part individually, and then glued the two halves and the bottom of the boat back together. Then I filled in any mistakes with wood putty and sanded everything up so that it was nice and smooth, and then drilled holes for the steering mechanism and the stern deck cap (below left). (Any boat of mine has to have a deck cap — the deck cap was a large part of my novice crew experience; see my humorous WSO blog post on the subject.) Finally, I painted the outside and edges white, and (two years later) added purple and yellow trim and the rest of the details, such as the bow deck cap (below right).

Also see the original post and the Diana’s Crew Boat web page.

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Eating Your Wheaties

This Washington Post op-ed from September by Fay Vincent ’60 starts nicely.

It was a long time ago, but the memories of those first days of football practice linger with me the way the taste of sweet little cakes did with Proust. For me, the smell of freshly cut grass does it. I am immediately drawn back to a time some 50 years ago when I would stretch out on the field at my little New England college doing what we called “grass drills.”

Next to us was a river, and beyond, a display of autumn foliage so stunning that it became a major distraction for young players trying to focus on the guttural directions of their coaches.

I remember looking at that scene and having a distinctly religious experience. I knew God was somewhere in those hills. And then I was back on the grass pushing my 18-year-old frame against a classmate and trying to learn how to block and tackle.

Is there an Eph athlete alive who can not relate to these remembrances of practices past? I still remember our JV soccer coach interrupting an exhausting drill so that we could admire the sunset and give a round of applause to the beauty of the Purple Mountains.

But why doesn’t Vincent, a regular booster of Williams and proud graduate, mention the name of his “little New England college?” Is something amiss?

For a lineman, there was only so much to the skill part of football. The bulk of it was a function of size, which I had, and strength, which I had in some lesser measure. For I was a 6-foot-2 tackle weighing 230 pounds, which in those days meant I was considered a big guy.

Not anymore. The other day I went down to my old college field to watch the current generation begin to get ready for their season, and the size of the kids was astonishing. Not only were they enormous, they were also exceptionally muscular. As they stood there with shirts off, I could see the effects of all their weight training — even on the smaller backs and receivers. Some of the linemen were obviously pushing 300 pounds — and it wasn’t fat.

The increasing size of football players, not just at Williams but across the country, started decades ago and shows no signs of stopping. Michael Lewis provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of football recruiting. One way to understand the increase is that the “system” — the world of high schools, recruiters, colleges and the NFL — has realized that size is an advantage and now searches throughout the country to find it. In Vincent’s day, 300 pound boys, especially boys from poor neighborhoods, boys where football was not played, might never get a chance to try. Now, they do. The system finds them, recruits them, trains them and sends them to places like Williams.

Yet that is not how Vincent sees things.

My immediate thought was how fortunate I was to have played when I did. For while I may envy today’s players their youth, I have to wonder about their size. Is it all diet, exercise, training? Or is some of it attributable to chemicals?

Another former player at my college, who went on to a distinguished career in medicine, marvels at the size of even Division III players. (That’s the NCAA division where they don’t give athletic scholarships.) He told me he was certain some of these kids were taking supplements to reach the sizes they did at such young ages. “You cannot get that big eating your Wheaties” is how he put it.

Hmmm. Calling all Record editors! There is, perhaps, an important story here. Comments:

0) Who is this unnamed Eph doctor and does he really have any expertise in this area?

1) This is why Vincent never mentions Williams College by name. He does not want to hurt Williams by accusing, in the pages of the Washinton Post, our football players of using steroids. This isn’t about Williams specifically; it is about a “little New England college.”

2) Would this explain why Williams did so well in the 1990’s and continues to do so well today? Perhaps. The counterargument would be that steroid use is widespread, so unless one has reason to suspect that it is more prevalent at Williams than, say, Amherst, there is no reason to think that such usage would give Williams an advantage. The counter-counterargument would be that steroid use, like other illegal/destructive activity, tends to cluster. If you know that 10% of football players in NESCAC use steroids, you can be fairly certain that those 10% are not spread evenly across teams. Some teams will probably be completely clean while others have major problems. This was true in baseball, where Jose Conseco was thought to spread steroid use from team to team.

3) Most importantly, is Vincent correct? Did a large number of Eph football players use steroids in high school? Do any/some/many use steroids now?

Vincent concludes with:

Let us shift forward several decades. Now the players are returning to their old fields, as I did to mine, to sit in the shadows of advancing age and watch others sweat in the grass. I wonder whether they’ll feel as warm and fuzzy about their colleges and their experiences on the field as I do. Or will some be coping with serious medical ailments and disabilities — problems they now attribute to the failure of others to have warned them against using chemicals that inflated their bodies but also injured them and distorted their genes?

Will our universities and colleges be like the tobacco companies, forced to argue in court that these kids knew, or should have known, that the substances they were using weren’t good for their health? I wonder whether the schools will be faced with lawsuits based on the mounting numbers of former athletes who might allege that they were victims of neglectful abuse by their onetime educational mentors.

And I wonder whether those former athletes taking their alma maters to court might not have a pretty good case.

Do the Trustees of Williams worry about this? I doubt it.

We have several readers with inside knowledge about NESCAC football in general and Williams football in particular. Perhaps they could comment on the extent of steroid use, or lack thereof.


Bound by Nature

Sam Crane on controlling the course of our lives.

A sad yet beautiful column today by Wendy Paris. It is sad because it chronicles her two miscarriages. She had waited to try to have children, waited for her career to take shape, for her relationships to sort out, for her life to take the form that she wanted. It is a classic tale of believing in our ability to control the course of our lives, the course of nature, only to learn the hard way that we cannot

Read the whole thing. Although many Eph women, including our own Kim Daboo ’88, have children late(r) in life, there are real risks to delay.

We do not want to believe there are natural limits on our lives and we can dazzle ourselves with technology and money into thinking that we can always overcome such limits. But we can’t. Sometimes you just have to find a way within the limitations that surround you.

Indeed. I have never met an Eph women who regrets having children too early in life. Sarah Hart-Unger ’02 is wrestling with these issues right now. It is easy, and wrong, to believe at 26 that life will be less hectic at 30 or 33. It won’t be. The source of the pressures will change, the character of the demands will shift, but there will never be enough hours in the day to get done all that “needs” to be done.

Married and planning on having a baby someday? Start now. You’ll be glad you did.


Here and There

Morgan Goodwin ’08 has an interesting blog devoted, I think, to environmental issues at Williams. Here, for example, are lots of good details about a recent panel on green architecture.

Morgan should dive into an analysis of the huge energy increase (waste?) caused by the Sawyer/Stetson project. There is little doubt, to my mind, that the new Stetson will use much more energy than the old, no matter how “green” it may appear to be. For example, the old Stetson had no air-conditioning. The new Stetson will be nice and cool (and mostly empty) all summer long.

The College pays lip service to environmental concerns. Yet, if the faculty want big, new air conditioned offices with panoramic views of the mountains, they will get those offices. And the offices will be private ones, even if they are rarely used for 40 hours a week. Office sharing is for greens like Goodwin and poor alums like me.


Bajakian ’96 the Bear

Ephs watching the Bears play the Patriots today might want to know that “Bears offensive quality control coach Mike Bajakian played quarterback at Williams College from 1992-1995.” Why isn’t there an EphCOI for Williams students and graduates interested in professional football? The more that Williams alumni and students are put in contact with one another, the better for all concerned. John Noble has had time to settle in as the new head of OCC. Perhaps someone could mention this idea to him . . .


Road to Hell

Kim Daboo ’88 is driving the road to hell in a minivan. Wish her luck.


Self Made Author

Norah Vincent 1990’s book “Self Made Man” was listed as one of the NYTimes’ 100 Notable Books of the Year.


Photo ID, #58


Where is this door in the sky with its adjacent puffy tree?

Update: Here is the solution picture, to give context of the answer.



Miracle Worker

Good Thanksgiving reading on the retirement of Williams College athletic trainer Ron Stant.

Stant, 64, will announce his retirement later today at the college. The retirement will become effective on June 30, he said. He has spent 39 years as a head athletic trainer for Williams College.

His creativity extended to the playing field as well. As a trainer for Williams’ football, hockey, and lacrosse teams, Stant has developed a clever sense of “make-do” over the years.

During a football game, Stant once fashioned a protective pad for a player’s hand from disposable paper cups, he said.

His assessment of his career and family life is described in very humble terms.

“I just came, I went to work, and things happened,” Stant said. “I came home, loved my family, that’s what I did.”

Sound advice for all of us this Thanksgiving Day.

Stant was hired at about the same time as former football Coach Renzi Lamb. Lamb and Stant spent much time together, Stant said.

“Coach Lamb was one of the true beauties of the field with the freshmen,” Stant said with a chuckle as he recalled Lamb’s strategies.

“I remember coming to the field and he’s got these kids lined up two by two, and I said ‘what are you doing with them?,” Stant said.

“He was making them sing ‘The Mountains, The Mountains,'[school song]. He said if they were playing for the school, they needed to know the song. So there they were, all lined up and me trying to figure out what the was doing.”

Great stuff. I hope that other Eph coaches follow Lamb’s example.

Football Coach Michael Whalen delivered praise for Stant’s dedication.

“He has the utmost respect from all of us at the athletic department at Williams College,” Whalen said. “Ron has always been very dedicated. He’s always worked to benefit our student athletes. Over the years, the names and faces changed but Ron’s approach stayed the same. He has the best interest of the student athletes at heart.”

Although my memory of 20 years ago is hazy, I think that Stant was also a friendly face to the squash team of that era. Perhaps other readers can share some memories of Stant’s good work.

Dick Farley, former football coach at Williams, said that to him, Stant will be forever linked with the “helmeted sports.”

“These sports are a bit more physical, which means that there are more injuries and more kids to rehab after injuries,” he said. “From a football point of view, he would always give me a worst-case scenario, and then look like a miracle worker if the kid was ready to play the next game.”

To under-promise and over-deliver is a good guide for success in any field.

Thanks to Stant for all the twisted ankles and pulled hamstrings that he has taken care of over the years. He will be missed.



Here is the latest issue of the Williams Progressive. Although I am not sure what the deal is with publishing an article (ghost?) written by Nancy Pelosi on the front page (requested by the money people?), the rest of this issue has some interesting material. I especially liked Matt Piven’s ’07 reporting on Election Day in Williamstown. (Page 2 has an article by some kooky left-wing alum on curbing excessive executive pay. Someone tell Chris Murphy!)


To Blog or Not to Blog, That Is the Question

According to The New York Times, some college presidents have taken to blogging.

Some command-and-control types are horrified — “Veterans of campus public relations disasters warn that presidents blog at their peril; ‘an insane thing to do’ is how Raymond Cotton, a lawyer who advises universities and their presidents in contract negotiations, describes it.” — while others think it’s a great idea: “Bob Johnson, a consultant to many universities on marketing, said he was mystified that university officials had not generally embraced blogs. Mr. Johnson said student blogs, for example, could be a ‘hugely effective’ recruitment tool, even if they carried the implicit promise — or threat — of uncensored truth, however unflattering.”

Which brings us to Williams. While President Morty Schapiro would be a terrific blogger, I hope Williams doesn’t do the imperial blog thing — assuming, of course, that Williams ever has an official blog.

Read more


New OCC Website?

Is the webpage for the Office of Career Counseling new? Seems new to me. Perhaps the experienced web designers among our readers could provide some commentary and suggestions.

My initial comment: How are current students supposed to find alumni like, well, me, alumni who are experienced in their industry, have extensive networks and are eager to help current seniors? I am providing a great deal of help to one senior, who worked for me this past summer, but others interested in investment/finance would probably(?) benefit from talking with me. I have heard from no one.

My solution: EphCOI.

And this isn’t just about me. I have told this senior to use the alumni database to find other, ideally more powerful, alumni to network with. He is having trouble and I do not think that the fault is his.


CSI: Update

Did anyone see the CSI episode with the Williams reference? It was entitle “Happenstance.” Key scene:

In the morgue, Warrick is taken aback when he sees the two women on gurneys, side by side. They wore the same toe nail polish, had the same watch on their wrists. Their causes of death are obvious, but Doc Robbins says Amanda died a few hours ahead of her sister. At least they didn’t share everything.

In his office, Grissom peruses a letter sent to him by a university, requesting his presence to teach a graduate seminar. Would he consider a sabbatical? Maybe… His reverie is broken by Catherine, who arrives to inform him, “Our two cases have become one.” Catherine is thinking Jill killed Amanda, then herself. It’s a simple murder-suicide. There were no visual connections between the twins; no photos of Amanda in Jill’s house, no phone numbers in each other’s phone books. So are the cases really connected?

The entire episode is available on the web. If I were technologically sophisticated, I would pull out the Williams scene and post the video at YouTube or at least a screen shot at Flickr. Can someone cool help us out? Note also a reference in the episode to a topic discussed here at EphBlog.

UPDATE: [by Eric]
Here is the inlined image as referenced below in the comments.


One Act

Good stuff from Cap & Bells.

Back by popular demand, it’s Cap and Bells’ Winter Study One Acts! This year, we’re going back to basics – the January One Act festival will be “Two Chairs and a Box.” And what does that mean, you ask? It means you – yes, you! – get the chance to cast and direct a short play over Winter Study using minimal set and tech. It’s a great way to break into directing for Cap and Bells or to just get your theatre fix when you’re free from the pesky distraction of classes and homework. If you know of, or have written, a great one act play (10-45 minutes), this is your chance to see it performed!

My suggestion: A one act play about Nigaleian. Three actors: Aida Laleian, Layla Ali and one other professor, or perhaps a single actor playing several of the other professors present. (In a pinch, you could drop the last professor.) Setting is the meeting room in which the fateful phrase was spoken. Plot is to show several (3?) versions of the same event, presenting (virtually) the same dialog, or having Laleian say exactly the same words, or, at minimum, each version concludes with the same phrase about how she did not want her field to be “used as a nigger.”

If I were a playwright, I would write this myself. Alas, no talent means no script. The goal would be to show how, even if the words are the same, changes in the surrounding context can transform Laleian from socially awkward (the Rooney Defense) to profoundly evil.


An EphBoat

Some spend their free time providing constructive criticism on Op-Ed submissions; others spend it painstakingly cutting and painting small pieces of wood and wiring them together into intricate functionless models. I fall into the latter category, and since the end product qualifies as “All Things Eph,” I thought I’d share it with you.


Over the course of the three summers between my four years at Williams, I made this boat. It’s about five feet long, and the boat is about three inches wide (about two feet wide with the oars out). I started with a two-by-four, which I made into a hull, figured out a way to engineer it so that the seats would move like in a real crew boat, and then made detailed and unreasonably accurate rowers that can go through the whole motion of rowing, and a coxswain who can actually steer the boat. I painted everything purple and yellow in the appropriate places, and it really does look rather accurate and sharp.


Because this whole process was very thought-intensive and the end product was basically the most awesome object I’ve ever made, I made a whole web site to explain every step of the process in excruciating detail, including many pictures of the final product as well as photographic documentation of every step of the creation process.

I don’t know how large the intersection between Williams rowers and EphBlog readers is, but I expect that some alums might find it interesting.


Alumni Blog

Jessica Howard, former College Council co-President writes:

On a side note, David Kane is no longer a student here at Williams. He enjoys many outlets of self-expression and really does not need to be included or preferred in one of the most important forums for campus communication over the participation of current students. As I have witnessed in his tirades on alumni blogs, he is actually quite out of touch with current campus life. [For example, his perception of CC’s work on the cluster housing proposal was not at all what occurred. And I am trying to be diplomatic here.]

1) Again, it is an interesting question whether or not the Record should publish pieces by alumni or faculty or staff. Who does and does not belong in the Williams community which the Record seeks to serve? I think that student articles — if well-written and about Williams specifically — should be published first. But, fortunately for alums like me, the problem that the Record often confronts is a lack of such submissions from students.

2) “[Q]uite out of touch with current campus life,” eh? Now, I have been called out of touch by serious Ephs, people like Mike Needham, Aidan and Drew Newman. Getting tagged by a relative lightweight like Howard is thin gruel indeed. My response today is the same that it was two years ago.

3) Howard is trying to be “diplomatic.” Isn’t that special? Perhaps she is referring to these comments. Or maybe something here or there. (My, but that is a fun memory trip down cluster housing lane!) Describing Howard as “serious, organized, [and] competent” may have been my mistake.

In any event, if Howard thought, at the time, that my reporting/opining about CC’s role in anchor housing was not accurate then Howard should have, you know, clarified things. You should have told the readers of EphBlog what was actually happening. Now, Howard may have been too busy to do this. She may have preferred to play an “inside game” in which all her comments were directed privately at the administration. Fine. But don’t complain about descriptions of CC if you are not willing to correct the record. Moreover, as far as I know, Jonathan Landsman felt that our coverage was fairly spot on. Why should we believe Howard over him?

In any event, EphBlog has hundreds of alumni readers, some of them quite powerful. If Howard would like to provide a more complete description of CC’s actions during this time, we would love to read it and record it for history. Future College Councils will confront the administration over similar issues. They will benefit from knowing the history.


Lecture on James Garfield

For any of you who might be in the general vicinity of Long Branch, New Jersey, on Wednesday, November 29, you might want to go to the city hall at 7:30 pm. A historian by the name of Jim Foley will be presenting a public lecture on “the Presidential drama that kept the worlds eyes on Long Branch during the summer of 1881.”


The Plan Now

How are things working with the House Governance structure? Recall our discussion last spring. For those not inclined to read every word, my main concern involved the mixture of paid and unpaid students on the House Boards.

But consider two positions on the board: Community Liaison and the HLC. Both are students. Although both have defined positions in the document, it is fairly clear to anyone who has served in a small organization, that precise roles are pretty fluid.

There is going to be a weekly board meeting, everyone will go, everyone will provide input. Plans will be made and carried out. There may be some tendency to for Community Liaisons to do more liaisoning and for House Life Coordinators to be doing more coordinating.

Side note: Under no circumstances should the Community Liaisons do any coordinating or the House Life Coordinators do any liaisoning. That would just be wrong.

Anyway, there will be a meeting about upcoming events, a plan will be decided on, and tasks will be listed. But then who does what? In particular, who does all the crap work that no one wants to do?

Back in the day, if you were a member of the Carter House government, you all pitched in and no one got paid. But will everything work as well in the brave new world? What will prevent Community Liaisons from saying, “Sorry, but I need to work at my TA job tomorrow. Why doesn’t the HLC (and the rest of the RLCs) set up and/or clean up for the party? Isn’t that what they get paid for?”

Now, in the best of all possible worlds, this won’t happen. All the non-paid board members will be kind souls with no other responsibilities and lots of free time. In fact, they’ll be so generous that they’ll insist on doing all the after-party-mop-up themselves! Perhaps.

Call me a cynic, but I think that any government structure in which some members are paid and some are not is a recipe for disaster, or at least for all the work being done by RLCs (which might not be a bad outcome).

That was my theory. How are things working out in practice? Also, recall HWC’s comment.

No faculty member with an ounce of legal advice is going to go anywhere near a meeting where students decide how much alcohol to serve at parties with underage students.

Are the Faculty Associates igoring this advice?


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