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2007 Commencement speakers

The speakers for this year will be:

Class Speaker: Auyon Mukharji (elected by the Class of 2007)
Phi Beta Kappa Speaker: Alan Rodrigues (elected by the 2007 PBK members)
Valedictorian: Priyanka Bangard (highest GPA)

Of course Katie Couric will also give an address.

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#1 Comment By David Kane On May 30, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

Damn WASPs! Dominating Williams as always . . .

Thanks for posting this. What about the Class Day speakers and officers? All of Diana’s many fans hope that she was chosen as class poet . . .

#2 Comment By LSU On May 30, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

Great to see that “A-Rod” will be speaking.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On May 31, 2007 @ 1:10 am

Williams went need blind for internationals 4 years ago (meaning, although they have an international quota, they don’d discriminate within the quota against those who cannot pay).

So for the last 3 out of 4 years is the valedictorian has been an international student (China ’04, Bulgaria ’05, India ’07). Remember, internationals are only 6% of the graduating class.

But, to no awail. Within 10 minutes I expect someone to write that there is no discrimination against internationals in admissions.

#4 Comment By rory On May 31, 2007 @ 9:35 am

anonymous–that’s not a good piece of evidence at all for proof about international students in admissions. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing about whether or not there is discrimination, but having valedictorians proves very little about the group as a whole, only about individuals (plus, if williams went need blind 4 years ago, then only THIS years valedictorian is from a need blind admissions pool).

#5 Comment By Anonymous On May 31, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

“plus, if williams went need blind 4 years ago, then only THIS years valedictorian is from a need blind admissions pool).”
— Well, DUH! Williams College did not awoke one fine morning and said — “would not it be good to have a need blind admission policy for the internationals. ” The policy was phased in in the the couple of years preceeding 2003 and made official in that year. It was made possible by the Bronfman family gift (GO SEAGRAM! GO TIME WARNER! YAY!).

“but having valedictorians proves very little about the group as a whole”

Actually, it the context of of these numbers, it tells a whole lot. I do not have time to give you the hypothesis test implied by the 4 i.i.d. bernuolli trials with the population subgroups of (570, 30), but a back-of-the envelope calculation shows that a random international student is (3/4)/.06= 12.5 times more likely to be a valedictorian than his/her randomly chosen american counterpart. If you consider the subgroup of international students from Eastern Europe/South Asias/ East Asia (which is the group selected mostly on the academic merits and SATs), you would get a more compelling result.

#6 Comment By rory On May 31, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

still disagreeing.

1. That’s an interesting claim. now we know that need blindness helped *before* need blindness became public/official. ok. and who’s to say that these valedictorians are on the need-blind side of international admissions? go back more than 4 years and if you discover that the overrepresentation of international students as valedictorians continues before that, then what does it have to do with need-blindness and quotas? and be careful with your terms..the term “so” is a signifier of a clear causal claim. one that you didn’t want to make so clear without making your extended case.

2. this is still pointing at the wrong statistic…the important one is not the top international student, but the ones who aren’t gettin 4.0+ in the sciences (and, if you believe that science students–who can get A+s more than humanities and social science students–have an advantage in getting the valedictorian slot, it changes your population numbers. I’d expect that it makes the 12.5 X number smaller). how are the “bottom” 10 doing? do they compare well to the average domestic student who doesn’t have a legacy/development/athletic tip? that’d be convincing to me that international admissions are perhaps overly difficult. this does not.

the 4 i.i.d. bernoulli trial is a nice idea and very pretty, but it doesn’t address the inequality of the two populations. I expect a foreign valedictorian for a bunch of reasons that aren’t random (proclivity to study the sciences, opportunity cost of going to school, academics as the main similarity of the culture left vs. the culture entered, etc.), just as I expect that the admissions pool of foreign applicants to have a distribution different from that of domestic applications (relative lack of legacy students applying, etc.). I don’t think the hypothesis test of valedictorians leads cleanly enough to claims about admissions.

this is not to say that I think that there are too many or even enough foreign students at williams. i say bring as many as williams can, and i’d bet that’s more than 30 a class.

anyway–this is a topic ephblog has talked about a number of times, discussing back and forth the statistics issue. I think, in a more roundabout way, i’m making david’s point 2 (following current eph’s point in an older comment thread) from the archives:

#7 Comment By Jonathan Landsman ’05 On May 31, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

As I am sure she’d tell you herself if she weren’t so busy seeing friends and having fun, I hope, Diana was not chosen as Class Poet. I do not know who was and I mean no offense to that person, but I have to deeply doubt that Diana was not the best candidate. She wrote her first Williams poem shortly after she matriculated; if it does not belong in 2007’s Class Day I don’t know what does. Members of many classes above and below Diana’s know her Ode.

About the speakers . . . of them, I know only Priyanka. I first met her when I was a writing tutor and she brought a paper to me during finals time. Many international students (I believe she is one) have troubles with points of English usage that are hard to teach (when a noun requires an article, for example) and I expected this might be an issue. Instead, I got a paper that was not only free of such mistakes, but phenomenally written. It was probably the best I “tutored” in the two years; I put tutor in quotes because I think I had vurtually no suggestions for her.

That was just over three years ago, but I still remember the quality, if not the content, of that paper. I’ll be there at graduation this year, and I look forward to hearing what she has to say.

#8 Comment By Diana On May 31, 2007 @ 9:21 pm

Thank you, Jonathan. Shane Bobrycki is the Class Poet; I am sure he will do a great job. The other elected positions are:

Class Toaster: Walden Maurissaint
Class Musician: Joe Shippee
Male Marshal: Myron Minn-Thu-Aye
Female Marshal: I Forget
Class Artist: Sarah MacWright

Here is the poem I wrote for the Ivy Exercises, in case you are interested: Ode to the Class of 2007 at Graduation. Alas, even creating Facebook groups and events, e-mailing my friends, and making an announcement on WSO (after another candidate did, I thought I better) could not get me more than, I think, 15 votes. So it goes. Shane will be brilliant as always.

#9 Comment By David On June 1, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

More than you could ever want to know about the quota for international students here. I am still surprised that more current students don’t protest against this injustice. Ephs Against International Quotas anyone?

#10 Comment By current eph On June 1, 2007 @ 10:54 pm

International students present a fairly small group at Williams so it’s hard to make statistics about them mean much. Consequently, limiting the group further (to only 1st in class) won’t yield accurate results, nor, I suspect, will limiting it to PBK (top 12.5% of class). Try looking at those graduating with Latin Honors, perhaps, and spread it over several years.

However, even if you find a disparity there, that only tells you that Intl students tend to be more academically successful at Williams. That is only one aspect of success at Williams, though! Look at campus leadership positions, participation (and success) in extracurriculars (are there lots of Intl all-American athletes? What about concerto competition winners? What about leads in NBC, acapella groups, and Cap & Bells plays? If, after looking at the full picture you still find Intl students over-performing, I’ll buy the quota argument.

Until then, narrowing your focus to #1 in the class or even PBK will tell you very little about any quotas.

#11 Comment By current eph On June 1, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

Also, and this isn’t to take anything away from Diana, Shane is an absolutely phenomenal poet. He was part of last year’s Oxford group, and was the group poet…just about every student who was in that group gushes about Shane’s poetic brilliance.

#12 Comment By Anonymous On June 1, 2007 @ 11:19 pm

Errr, the point of this is not WHETHER is a quota. We know for a FACT that there IS a quota because Jim Kolesar, acting as an official spokesman of the college, said that there is one:

#13 Comment By Anonymous On June 1, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

Viva the affirmative action for American students!

#14 Comment By Anonymous On June 1, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

“(are there lots of Intl all-American athletes? What about concerto competition winners? What about leads in NBC, acapella groups, and Cap & Bells plays? If, after looking at the full picture you still find Intl students over-performing,”

–Admissions process to US colleges is daunting. Imagine if you had to go through the similarly daunting admission process, in a different country and a different language.

Ceteres paribus, I would rather offer a job to someone who at the tender age of 16 manages to navigate through such a process, and has guts to venture across the ocean to study in a different country and in a different language, than to someone who did not.

#15 Comment By Anonymous On June 1, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

the three comments above are all by the same person, i.e. me.

#16 Comment By Katie Couric Payment? On June 4, 2007 @ 1:09 am

The Guardian, a way-left but still respected British newspaper, suggests that Williams paid over $100,000 for Katie Couric to speak earlier today: http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/columnist/story/0,,2090605,00.html

Is there any truth to this rumor? What is the Williams honorarium?

#17 Comment By ’10 On June 4, 2007 @ 1:30 am

If they did, it was way too much. I have a hard time imagining that Katie Couric is the best speaker you can buy for $100k (how much did Midd spend on Clinton?). Her speech was, frankly, boring and cliched. I would much rather have heard from some of the other honorary degree recipients, or anyone, really, with a bit more substance. Katie Couric may be a amazing person, but her job for many years was to be fluffy and unoffensive as possible, and it makes her a terrible speaker.

#18 Comment By Noons On June 4, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

To continue my epic bout of procrastination on a 40-page research paper, in Spanish, that’s due on Wednesday, I have a question:

Which historical figure would you most want to have as a commencement speaker? Assume that they can be brought back from the dead and taught English. (That’s what the endowment’s for, right?)

It’s kinda cliched, but I think that Ghenghis Khan would give a really inspiring commencement address. Failing that, I’d like to see a Viking explorer up on stage. (Investment bankers seem sort of like Vikings… at least, they do when you live in Argentina.)

I also think that Aaron Burr, who killed Alex Hamilton in cold blood, got away with it, led a seccession attempt in the Louisiana Territory, got away with it again, and died as a prosperous lawyer in Boston, would be an excellent choice. His story contains lessons for us all.

#19 Comment By Brandi On June 4, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

The 100,000 figure probably comes from the fact that the U of OK paid 115K for her last year. I think I wrote a post about it somewhere but don’t have the energy to find that post.

#20 Comment By route7N On June 4, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

Clinton spoke for no fee at Middlebury.

#21 Comment By G. Khan On June 4, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

Commencement Speech Rough Draft:

Anyone can have a kid; it takes a man to be a father.

#22 Comment By David On June 5, 2007 @ 8:43 am

Williams does not pay its Commencement speaker, beyond travel/hotel expense. This came up in our discussion of Halberstam three years ago.

#23 Comment By ’08 On June 5, 2007 @ 8:59 am

south asians are finally getting recognized– all three student speakers were south asian! way to go SASA members!