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1988 Yearbook: Page 66

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Tips Revisited

This Chronicle of Education article from 6 years ago allows us to review the history of “tips” — significant admissions preferences for athletic excellence — and speculate on the future. Previous discussion here.

To Morton O. Schapiro, the president of Williams College, it’s simple: “If you’re a really smart kid, and you’re serious about athletics, you’d be nuts not to think about Williams.”

As he speaks on a winter afternoon, 10 inches of snow blanket his postcard-cute campus tucked into the northwestern corner of Massachusetts. Students are trooping off to hockey, basketball, swimming, track, and wrestling practices.

Williams is one of the best liberal-arts colleges in the country, and is famous for its world-class art museums and summer theater programs. But athletics is at least as important to the ethos of this place.

The Ephs — as in Ephraim, the first name of Williams’s eponymous founder — dominate Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. More than a third of Williams students compete on at least one of the 31 varsity teams, and many more play on the college’s numerous junior-varsity and club teams.

On a relatively isolated campus without fraternities or sororities, sports teams are central to the social life of the college. They also have a crucial role in Williams’s admissions process, in which barely 20 percent of those who apply are accepted. Each team gets “tips,” or places in the incoming class, for athletes who would not be admitted on the basis of their academic credentials alone.

So far, so good. The 66 tips would not be at Williams if it were not for their athletic skills. This is not true for the students in almost all other activities. The College does not give meaningful preferences to singers or musicians or WOOLF-leaders because it knows that there will be plenty of Ephs with these talents among the academic rank 1’s and 2’s whom it admits on the basis of academics alone.

Students, coaches, faculty members, and others at Williams have been debating the role of sports on campus for much of the past year, however. And now Williams is one of at least four colleges in the New England Small College Athletic Conference that has decided to cut back on the number of “athletic admits” it allows each year, starting this fall.

The conversation has been bitter at times. Nobody has accused the college’s admissions office of letting in a bunch of dumb jocks, but many coaches say their athletes are being blamed unfairly for getting into Williams when other students with better academic credentials did not.

And looming over the discussion is The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values (Princeton University Press, 2001), which has focused renewed attention on whether elite colleges make the same compromises larger universities do when it comes to sports.

Again, a fair description except that many (most?) professors did complain that “the college’s admissions office of letting in a bunch of dumb jocks.” Now, for some professors, anyone from a rich white family with SATs below 1200 is “dumb.” The point is that there was a real dispute about what the policy should be and that those in favor of change, like Morty, wanted to replace about 50 Ephs each year with smarter Ephs. They wanted to change the College. And they succeeded. Williams is a different place than it used to be. Is it better? Should the College move even further in this direction? My opinion is that the changes Morty et al have made were good ones and, if anything, further small steps in the same direction should be taken.

The small liberal-arts colleges in the Northeast have made a point of claiming the moral high ground in college sports for a long time now. Williams is a charter member of the New England conference, which was founded in 1971 under the philosophy that “intercollegiate athletic programs should operate in harmony with the educational mission of each institution.”

Athletes are supposed to be representative of the student body as a whole, coaches aren’t allowed to recruit off their campuses, and for most of the league’s history, NESCAC teams have not been allowed to participate in NCAA championship tournaments.

Spare a thought for the women of the 1996 lacrosse team (including Erin Burnett ’98?), denied a shot at immortality in the NCAA tournament because President Hank Payne tried to uphold NESCAC rules. Those days are long gone.

Despite restrictions like those, however, athletics has long been ingrained in Williams’s campus culture. S. Lane Faison Jr., Whitney Stoddard, and the other art historians who made Williamstown a launch pad for many of the top curators in the profession were athletes themselves. Mr. Stoddard, for example, had been a hockey goalie during his own college days. Their students, like Kirk Varnedoe, remember them and other faculty members as avid sports fans.

“It’s a work-hard, play-hard kind of place,” recalls Mr. Varnedoe, a member of the class of 1967 who is a former senior curator of the Museum of Modern Art and a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J. “It wasn’t a place where categories were hard and firm — you didn’t have to be an athlete or a student, and it was not considered unusual or weird to have a Phi Bet physics major playing football.”

Both Faison and Varnedoe have passed on to the great purple mountains in the sky. Are faculty members today as ardent as faculty of Faison’s generation? Do faculty come to watch your sports events? Tell us.

And from a numerical standpoint, sports were actually a much bigger deal then, when Williams was an all-male college, than they are now, Mr. Varnedoe says. “I think 60 or 70 percent of the students then played varsity sports at one time or another while they were in school.”

With the formation of the NESCAC — whose other members are Am-herst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut, Hamilton, Middlebury, and Trinity Colleges, and Tufts and Wesleyan Universities — and the segmentation of the NCAA into three divisions in 1978, most Williams teams were confined to playing conference rivals and other small private colleges in New England.

In 1994, the rest of the NCAA discovered just how good the Ephs were. That year, the NESCAC’s presidents decided to experiment with allowing teams in sports other than football to compete in NCAA and Eastern College Athletic Conference postseason events.

Two years later, a national athletics directors’ association began awarding the Sears Directors’ Cup as a sort of all-sports trophy in Division III. Williams won the inaugural trophy. And the next one, in 1997. And in the 1999, 2000, and 2001 academic years. In 2001, 17 of Williams’s 31 varsity teams finished in the top 20 in the country, with the experiment in postseason play having been extended three times. Only four teams had losing records on the year.

And has that changed much? Admissions are different now then they were 10 years ago. Has the performance of Eph teams suffered? Note that (former) baseball Coach Dave Barnard cried wolf on this topic three years ago, worrying that mens teams in sports like baseball and basketball could not compete in NESCAC under the new regime. Yet, both baseball and basketball were NESCAC champions in 2007.

A strange part of these discussions has always been the assumption among current Ephs that Williams has always been an athletic powerhouse. Untrue! Read the Report on Varsity Athletics. Williams has always been an active place, a college where most people go off and do something sporty in the afternoon, but sports teams were very average, at least through the mid-80s. The winning percentage for all teams was 54% for 81-86.

Although the football team does not compete in postseason championships, its head coach, Dick Farley, has run up a 101-16-3 record over the past 15 seasons, including an eight-game undefeated streak last fall.

“We compare ourselves to being the Stanford of Division III,” says Mr. Farley, who was an assistant coach for 15 years before taking over the football program, and also coaches outdoor track. “We’ve got kind of a watered-down version here.”

Some watered-down version: The Ephs had 93 players in 2000-1, nearly 10 percent of the male student body. Mr. Farley’s teams have not had a losing record since that 1987 season, and have cultivated an uncanny skill in breaking the hearts of the Amherst team.

The two squads play the last game of their seasons against each other every year, in front of relatively huge crowds (12,000 last fall) and on a cable network that beams the game by satellite to scores of Amherst-Williams alumni events around the country. The Ephs have beaten the Lord Jeffs in 13 of the past 15 games.

“God only knows how we’ve won some of those games,” admits Mr. Farley. “It’s gotten to the point where I feel bad for them.”

You have to love Farley because he tells it straight. I wish that I could say the same for all other senior folks at Williams. Note that the football team only has 75 members now. That hardly seems like a good idea. If someone wants to play football, then Williams ought to find a way to let him play. Why not have a freshmen team that would play local high schools? Why not more (any?) games for the JV? There is nothing wrong with rules limiting the number of players allowed to suit up for varsity games. (If anything, it always seems sort of ludicrous to see so many extra guys standing around.) But, just as Williams tries to find places for women who want to play JV lacrosse, even if they aren’t very good at it, we ought to find places for all our would-be football players.

Selective academic institutions with strong sports programs admit some athletes whose academic credentials would not necessarily get them in otherwise. Usually, admissions directors say they do this on the theory that athletic accomplishments indicate leadership ability, a sense of discipline, and other praiseworthy qualities. It just happens to be a nice coincidence when those athletes win games and championships.

At Williams in the early 1980s, Mr. Farley remembers, admissions officers said they didn’t want to be the ones making decisions about how to measure athletic accomplishments in the admissions process. Coaches were frustrated at spending months recruiting a prospect, only to have him or her come up short in April. Mr. Farley says.

Williams’s athletics director at the time, Bob Peck, came up with a new way of doing things: Each coach got a certain number of athletes they could designate as being worth admitting, even if they don’t quite measure up academically.

“Until they put in the tip system, it was tough sledding in football and ice hockey,” says Mr. Farley. “The alums at the time were kind of upset about it, and we in the athletics department were told, ‘We’re going to have a competitive situation here, and why should the admissions guy be in the position of having to evaluate goaltenders?'”

There is a great senior thesis to be written about the origins of the tips system. Was this really due to Bob Peck? Was Williams really the first school to do this in an organized fashion? Good stuff. The tip system clearly makes the system more efficient. We anti-tips folks are not against allowing coaches a big say, we are against having standards that are too low. If a kid has 1400 SATs and is in the top 5% of his high school class, then I am happy to let Farley have him.

Yet the whole notion that alumni were “kind of upset” is just gibberish. Maybe the dozen or so former football players that Farley was in touch with were upset, but the vast majority of alumni do not care. The alums of the 50’s loved the Williams of the 80’s just as much as the alums of the 80’s love the Williams of today, even though our sports teams are much better now than they were then.

This way, coaches know which players they need, and which to give some help to in the admissions process. If a linebacker shows up 15th on his list of prospects and has scored only 1200 on his SAT, Mr. Farley says he wishes him luck in getting into another college. “We would get information back from the kid about academics and look at the numbers, and say, Let’s skip this one, or, Let’s really go after him.”

The football team gets 14 tips, while most other squads get two or three. Of course, this means that the majority of Williams athletes don’t get any special help in the admissions process: In the 2001 academic year, there were 669 athletes on Ephs teams, but only 72 players were tipped.

“If we are going to give any admissions advantage because of athletics, it’s going to have to be for someone who would really have an impact,” says Richard L. Nesbitt, Williams’s admissions director. “Men’s lacrosse gets two tips a year. That’s eight kids [in college at one time], where you need 30.”

Williams coaches say this gives them a very good idea of a particular athlete’s chances in the admissions process, and they can make better decisions about which ones to recruit. Every college has some kind of system for letting in athletes, they point out; Williams’s is just a little more transparent.

30? I am no lacrosse expert, but since when do you “need 30” players for your lacrosse team? There are only 10 starters and another 5-10 substitutes who see regular playing time. This is the sort of inaccurate talk that makes faculty not trust the admissions office to give them the straight scoop.

And just how “transparent” is Williams really? Morty showed up, decided he wanted to change the admissions policy with respect to athletics and made sure that all sorts of data was made available to various people. It was transparency for a purpose. But is Williams “transparent” as a matter of principal? Not really. Try to find the same data for URMs or international students that Morty made available for tips. You can’t find it because those admissions policies are ones that Morty likes.

The Game of Life, by James L. Shulman and William G. Bowen of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, touched off a debate at Williams and other prestigious colleges because, it said, smaller-college athletes tend to cluster in certain majors, to do worse in their classes, and to end up in a narrower range of professions than nonathletes. The authors performed a similar study last summer specifically for the NESCAC, which yielded similar results.

The implication is that having too many athletes on a campus can create a less-academic atmosphere, with too many individuals with a particularly goal-oriented outlook. Students at Williams, athletes and nonathletes alike, say they don’t believe their classes are being dumbed down, but the large proportion of athletes definitely has an effect on campus life.

“A lot of people compare it to a fraternity and sorority system,” says Mark Robertson, a senior who edits the student newspaper, The Williams Record.

Yeah, maybe. But the football players hung out together a lot in the 80s and the 50s as well. Perhaps former football captain Frank Uible ’57 could tell us some stories. The real problem with this sort of talk is that no one describes what Williams should look like. Should football players be no more likely to be friends with other football players than they are with non-football players? Should they be just as likely to live with an athlete than a non-athlete?

Someone smart like Robertson could probably describe a reasonable vision for Williams, a vision in which sports matter but not too much. Once we have that, we could start to collect data to see where we are and where we are going.

But none of that (really) happened 6 years ago, nor has it happened since. And that’s because no one in power really cares enough to do anything about that. Morty wanted two things: less stupid athletes and less student self-segregation (all the helmet-head in Tyler, all the blacks in Brooks). He accomplished both.

“For a lot of people, that’s their prime affiliation, and it seems like it’s stronger than other kinds of student groups. Theater might be an exception.

“It certainly controls the social schedule. Thursday night always has a lot of stuff going on, but Friday night, with games the next day, there’s not so much to do.”

Mr. Robertson and others say they know plenty of people who have a wonderful time at Williams without ever going near a gym, and they all count both athletes and nonathletes among their friends.

But many teams become cultures unto themselves: “If you get a critical number of football players in a house, nobody else is going to want to live there,” says Joe Masters, co-president of the College Council.

I think that I would rather live with a bunch of football players than with Joe Masters.

In the classroom, Williams’s hockey captain says some of his teammates are defensive about playing a “helmet sport” — male hockey, football, and lacrosse players are often singled out in this debate.

“Some guys don’t want to wear hockey jackets in class,” says Andrew Beasley, a senior. “But I’ve always felt like I can walk in, work hard, and I’ve never had an issue. I’ve never shied away from that, but some guys are looking for an excuse — it’s like, ‘he hates me because I’m a hockey player.'”

Some use it as an excuse but some of right: more than one faculty member believes — correctly! — that elite athletes, especially on high profile mens teams, are less smart than non-athletes. Does that color their grading? Tough to know. The simple solution is for all faculty to grade students in the blind, as Joe Cruz does. (If you don’t do this, you are a bad person.)

Julie Greenwood, the women’s tennis and squash coach, says the debate has turned poisonous by causing athletes to question their own academic abilities, compared with their peers.

“My feeling is that we’re going about this as if we’re doing something wrong,” says Ms. Greenwood, a 1996 graduate of Williams.

“By exposing tips, it’s undermining the daily reality of what you see as a wonderful experience for talented and passionate kids, to feel like the job you’re doing isn’t understood. … I can’t help thinking that when people write opinion [pieces] about dumb jocks, it can’t help but inform their opinions of themselves.”

Williams officials insist that the tip system doesn’t allow them to recruit athletes who would really compromise the college’s standards, though for privacy reasons they would not disclose the standardized-test scores or the college grade-point averages of athletes and nonathletes, or of athletes admitted through the tip system and other students.

Wonder why Morty picked Julie Greenwood to be on the Althletics Committee instead of say Dick Farley or Dave Barnard? Now you know. A wise president picks the members of his committee on the basis of what he wants the committee to conclude.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the middle 50 percent of Williams’s students had SAT scores that ranged from 1300 to 1510 last year, with 84 percent of freshmen placing in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes.

“We’re doing it with exactly who we should be,” says Harry C. Sheehy, Williams’s athletics director and formerly the men’s basketball coach. “What does ‘representative of the student body’ mean? If the SAT is the gold standard, that’s one thing, but if it’s the total package, that’s another.”

Williams officials make no apologies for the way they attract and retain athletes. However, they’ve been part of a NESCAC-wide effort this year to reexamine the emphasis that member colleges place on athletics, partly as a result of the Bowen and Shulman study.

“Total package” is just coach talk for, “Yeah, the kid has bad scores, poor grades and did not take very challenging courses in high school, but he sure can shoot from outside the arc!”

Williams, Amherst, and Wesleyan all agreed to cut their tips to 66 per year. For Williams, this decreased the number of recruits by six, from 72. Bowdoin also has announced plans to reduce athlete admissions, without being so specific.

That’s an appropriate move, according to Mr. Schapiro. It reduces the importance given to sports slightly, but doesn’t change anything about how Williams views athletics in the admissions process. And Mr. Nesbitt says that taking 24 tipped athletes out of the college over four years will make a noticeable difference in the student body.

Note it is not mainly the decrease in tips that matters. The issue is how smart tips have to be and how other categories (URMs and legacies) are handled within the system. See Barnard for details.

The simplest way to think about these changes is to estimate how many students in the class of 2011 would not be here if the policies from the late 1990’s were still in place. I think that the answer is at least 50.

The debate over athletics admissions has spread beyond the small colleges of New England. Athletics directors in the Ivy League are studying their own admissions practices, and may well recommend reducing squad sizes in several sports.

“We’ve been asked by the presidents to explore the possibility of a reduction in recruiting numbers,” said Robert L. Scalise, Harvard University’s athletics director. “The AD’s are doing just that, and will have a series of meetings this spring to explore the feasibility and unintended consequences of any reduction, and we’ll present our recommendations to the presidents later in the spring.”

At Williams, meanwhile, the Ephs are winning the race for the 2002 Sears Directors’ Cup in Division III already. Many more athletes and nonathletes alike will visit the secluded campus this year and fall in love with it. And Mr. Schapiro, the president, will continue taking his young daughters to basketball games and tennis lessons, and most likely will remain just as committed to sports here. As long as the sports are kept in perspective.

“I don’t think there’s any question about our priorities,” he says. “We don’t have alumni confusing excellence on the playing field with excellence in the classroom.”

True enough.


1988 Yearbook: Page 65

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1988 Yearbook: Page 64

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Exploratory Committee for Community Ethics

First off, I hope that you alumni had a chance to read what your executive committee placed as a full page ad in the Record this week. Credit also to Neil for catching the titles error in the 17th comment.

The Stand With Us Social Honor Code group is proposing:

A committee called the “Exploratory Committee on Community Ethics” (ECCE) of 15 voting members: 9 students, one of whom is Chair, three faculty representatives, determined informally in consultation with Wendy Raymond, and 3 staff: the Chaplain to the College, the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, and a representative from the Dean’s Office, to be named by the Dean of the College.

Current slate of goals in the link.
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EphsChoose Again

Some kooky alum has an op-ed in the Record on EphsChoose. Other discussion here. Even though I think that this is a great idea, my prediction is that nothing meaningful will come of it because Williams administrators will be able to cajole/trick the interested students into dropping the project. The College is happy to have students fund-raise for projects that the College already approves of. It will do everything it can to prevent students from contacting alumni about projects it would not otherwise fund.

With luck, students will prove me wrong.


Necessary Disciplinary Actions

The student who started the WSO thread (mentioned here) now wants the University of Colorado to punish the offensive student.

From: []
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:52 PM
To: G.P. “Bud” Peterson
Subject: Response to Racist Article

Dear Chancellor Peterson,

My name is Sarah Lee and I am currently a sophomore at Williams College in Williamstown, MA. On February 21, a friend sent me an email with the article “If it’s war the Asians want… It’s war they’ll get” by Max Karson. Although I believe that free speech is a vital foundation of our country, I was appalled that a school publication would publish an article so racist, offensive, and disgusting.

As a Korean American, I have always been the victim of stereotypes and I felt that this article presumed many harmful stereotypes that I am working to fight against. I am the co-chair of the Korean students organization on campus, and sent the article to the Korean club and Asian American students organization. I received many hurt responses, confused why this article would be printed and asking for some type of explanation. I also initiated a discussion on the Williams College student website, and received a varied response: DiscussionID=1324&page=1#Item_0.

I urge you, as chancellor, to take necessary disciplinary actions so that students all over the country will understand that with free speech comes a lot of responsibility.

Thank you so much for your time.

Sarah Lee

Nice. This is the most Orwellian formulation that I have seen from a Williams student this year. If you really believe that Karson is engaged in “free speech,” then, by definition there must be no official punishment by the state. That’s what free speech means. CU is a public university so there is no way that it can punish students for speech. Does Lee not understand this? She might as well demand that CU send Karson on a trip to Mars.

The chancellor’s statement makes that fairly clear, while kowtowing [Another racial slur! — ed.] to prevailing sensibilities a bit too much for my taste.

All this matters because Lee is, I assume, a member with Stand With Us. Certainly, there will be many Ephs who think that the proposed Social Honor Code would ban speech like Karson’s. It can’t and it won’t. And the sooner someone takes the time to explain all this to Lee, the better. Again, the best way to make progress on this topic is to look at specific cases, both real and hypothetical.

There is a segment of the community of Ephs, including students, faculty and staff, which thinks that restricting free spech is possible and desirable. Censorship is neither. The sooner we settle on that, the more likely we are to accomplish something useful.


1988 Yearbook: Page 63

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Boy, how did we miss this?

Has it been almost 6 weeks since the last update about Ephblog’s favorite CNBC anchor and the Keely Smith to Jim Cramer’s Louis Prima (how does that grab you, jazz lovers?), Erin Burnett? I only mention this because Dealbreaker had linked to a video of EB98 riding around on a hobby horse during a CNBC segment, only to have that video taken down by the no fun editors there. I hoped to find said clip on YouTube, but found this instead. Before watching this, just remember that most Ephwomen are more like our awesome CRASH-B champ, Diana Davis ’07 (most Ephs know this, but there could some impressionable high school seniors reading this blog, so better safe than sorry). Sing to us, O muse, about recessions.



1988 Yearbook: Page 62

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Representing Williams at CRASH-B

This past weekend, I went to BU for the CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championships. To the best of my knowledge, I was the only Williams alum there — at least, the only person who listed Williams as their affiliation.* And I represented Williams well, because I won (results):

I had gone to CRASH-B with the Williams crew team four years ago, and did not get in the top three, and these four years I have always wanted to go back and see if I could win the hammer — the prize for first place (in addition to a gold medal). And I did! I won the women’s coxswain division, which is basically a 120-pound weight class where you must be primarily a coxswain (not a rower). So I got the hammer. And the great Williams rowing tradition lives on.

* Current Williams athletes can’t put Williams as their affiliation because then it uses up a race, or messes up eligibility, or something. A few current Williams students from the men’s crew team went this year,  and listed their affiliation as the “Green Team” (search in open men and LW men); four years ago, we called ourselves “Team Fuego.”


This Is My Gift

The mens basketball team was embarrassed in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, losing to Middlebury by 37 (!) points. Even worse, star guard Chris Shalvoy ’08 is graduating. Recall Dave Fehr’s fears about the future of Eph hoops and the “Nesbitt Net.”

The Ephs, meanwhile, started 12-0 but are finding it difficult to win in their league and have dropped a total of five games at this writing, including two to Amherst.

So, of course, I’m convinced the sky is falling and I’ll never again see these two teams competitive, much less Williams competitive on a national level. The only flaw in this analysis is that I felt the same way a decade ago and was happily proved wrong. When the Mike Nogelo Final Four teams of ‘97 and ‘98 graduated, I figured that was it for Williams and any further NCAA hoops glory. A short five years later, the Ephs were national champs, and they almost repeated in 2004.

One thing has changed, however, as back then there was no Nesbitt Net, which is director of Admissions Dick Nesbitt’s and President Morty Schapiro’s increasingly fine-meshed screen that weeds out applicants, including star athletes, with “low” board scores.

What should Coach Dave Paulsen do? Come up with better plays? Presumably, he is as good a coach as he was five years ago when he guided the Ephs to a national championship. Paulsen knows that “players win games, not plays.” Sounds like he needs some better players . . .

Time call the Admissions Office! We need a star guard. And, good news! Help is on the way.

Lick-Wilmerding boys basketball coach Eliot Smith is trying to enjoy every moment. At some point in the next few weeks, four-year varsity point guard Marcus Wells will play his last game for the San Francisco school.

“My wife told me, ‘You only have a few more weeks and then it goes back to normal,’ ” Smith said after a recent game.

Playing in the anonymity of the Bay Counties League West, Wells is the best player you don’t know about – and he’s fine with that.

“He was the best player on the team when he was a freshman, but I didn’t start him because the other kids would have hated him,” said Smith, whose team is 21-7 and will host St. Bernard’s-Eureka on Wednesday. “Once I saw how he handled it, I knew I had someone special.”

Wells drew attention from some Division I programs, but opted for a similar environment to his high school – albeit across the country.

He will attend Williams College in Massachusetts, a 2,000-student school that won the Division III national championship in 2003 and is regarded as the No. 1 liberal-arts college in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“I really knew I needed to get a good education,” said Wells, whose father, Marcus Wells Sr., was an All-City defensive back on Lincoln’s 1979 Turkey Day championship team.

As much as Smith gushes about Wells’ physical ability, calling him one of the best he has had in 33 years, the coach continually talks about Wells’ character and the way he treats his teammates.

“We’ve been really lucky,” Smith said.

“I think it goes back to his parents. I think they taught him to believe, ‘This is my gift and the players around me have their gifts.’ “

Good stuff. Williams has a long tradition of excellent point guards going back from Shalvoy ’08 to Crotty ’04 to Nogelo ’98 to Harry Sheehy ’75. Wasn’t Peter Willmott ‘59, former chair of the executive committee of trustees, a guard and captain of the basketball team back in the day? Surely some of our older readers can tell some Al Shaw stories . . .

Anyway, Wells knows how to play.

For my money, Marcus wells is the most talented point guard in the city. He has more of an all around game than any other and would have been a clear d-1 choice if he’d gone to a school where sports is more of a focus than the academics (e.g., the WCAL). Avg 20 pts, 6 assts, and 7 rbs per game is impressive by any calculation. He may be going d-3 but he’s going to one of the best colleges in the country, that’s equally impressive since he had to qualify with his game and his grades both.

Indeed. Welcome to Williams.


1988 Yearbook: Page 61

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1988 Yearbook: Page 60

Click below for full image. Note how Jim Duquette ’88 started out his career in sports management by working with the women’s basketball team. There is a lesson there for younger Ephs who want to become professional general managers some day . . . Read more


Ask The Trustees

Wick Sloane ’76 writes:

Having trouble finding out who decides what percentage of the student body at any given university should be on scholarship? Or how many students will have Pell Grants? Or that tuition will rise, again? Who decides, as Williams College just did, to tear down a sound student center and to build another, with tax-deducted dollars, while raising tuition? Well, how about asking the trustees who decides?

Good stuff. I rarely bother the trustees or Morty because they are busy people with better things to do than consider my opinions. But, Record reporters have a right and obligation to bother them all the time. Although the Trustees delegate most decisions to the Administration, they are involved in all the large issues. A good example was the move to a no loans financial aid policy while simultaneously refusing to meet the generosity of competitor schools like Harvard and Princeton. Consider some comments on WSO:

Wait, so a Harvard family making $120k/yr only has to to pay $12k? That’s incredibly generous. I know a lot of kids here at Williams whose families make substantially less than that and yet still pay the full $45k or very close to it.

my brother went to dartmouth & they offered him a significantly better aid package than i receive.

i think i get a real shitty deal here compared to what harvard aid offers – – who else feels the same? this is a serious matter – if we want boyer and morty to offer a better deal to middle class families, we have to demand it!

Indeed. The Record ought to do a multiple article story on financial aid at Williams. Who gets how much and why? Do most applicants admitted to Williams get better deals from places like Harvard? And, once the Record has the facts, it ought to ask the Trustees why the policy is what it is.


1988 Yearbook: Page 59

Click below for full image. It shows the 1987-1988 mens basketball team. Comments:

1) Note Dave Clawson ’89, now football offensive coordinator for the Tennessee after a series of head coaching jobs. Baring a major screw up, you can be sure that Clawson will get a shot at leading a Division I program in the next few years.

2) Former mens coach Harry Sheehy ’75 somehow made do with just one assistant coach. Current mens coach Dave Paulsen ’87 needs two. No wonder tuition keeps going up!
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Some readers are quick to claim that my relish in anticipating PC Buffoonery in the context of Stand With Us is unseemly. Perhaps! But PC Buffoonery there will certainly be. Consider Anna Weber’s story:

So there’s this cartoon/letter-sized printout that’s posted in the computer lab of Clark Hall, along with a bunch of other geology jokes. The cartoon features a nerdy-looking guy flanked by some swankily dressed women, and they’re walking down the sidewalk. A policeman/bodyguard type is pushing a passerby off the sidewalk and saying “Get out of the way, you swine! A geologist is coming!” In the background, a nicely dressed lady with big hair is looking at the geologist and little hearts are all around her.

Not the funniest or even the most tasteful cartoon in the world, but, hey, we kinda like it. It’s been in Clarklab practically since the Mesozoic. But sometime between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning someone took a marker and wrote in big letters on the cartoon: “exploitative! Are women with boobs status symbols? Accessories? EFF THIS!” They circled said boobs and also wrote “BUTT” on a second, totally unrelated poster.

No way is this an extreme case of vandalism, by any stretch of the imagination. But, still. Come on, people. First of all, if you don’t like our jokes, don’t come to our lab. There are plenty of other places to hang out on a Saturday night. And Clarklab may be a public space, but I would argue that the bulletin boards belong to the department. (So does the food–for example, the loaf of sandwich bread that was stolen from my shelf a few weeks ago–but that’s a different story!) Second of all, this isn’t one of those Danish cartoons. I mean, the department is full of high-achieving female students and professors (and I’m pretty sure we’ve all got boobs) and we’re not accessories and no one has ever said anything about it before.

Anyway. Of course this isn’t really about our geology cartoon.

The student body is apparently making big strides against “discrimination of every kind”–so bully for us. But I feel like there is no reason to go into someone else’s space and seek out “discrimination.” Even if you do, there’s really no reason to deface something that belongs to someone else and that could maybe, out of context, be construed as inflammatory. Or is that [insert sarcasm here] just a couple of really un-PC assumptions on my part?

1) Why the sarcasm? This is how PC works. Someone — perhaps a prankster, more likely a supporter of Stand With Us — finds your cartoon offensive. For starters, they deface it. They expect you to understand their displeasure. They expect you to respect their feelings. They want you to remove it and, better yet, apologize. Don’t believe me? Ask professors like Wendy Raymond and Dorothy Wang. Professor Wang says:

“The rally was great, but we need to move beyond the symbolic to concrete institutional changes to make a permanently better situation for minorities at Williams,” she said. “Students graduate after four years, but these things have been happening for Williams for decades.”

Think that Professor Wang believes that individual students and professors in Geology should be able to hang up whatever sorts of cartoons they like? Even cartoons that someone else finds offensive? Ask her. After all, cartoons that some people find offensive (and others find funny) have been hung up around Williams “for decades.”

2) See Wikipedia for an explanation of Weber’s reference to “Danish cartoons.” One of those cartoons is pictured to the right. The artist responsible has been in the news recently.

On February 12, 2008, Danish police arrested three men (two Tunisians and one Danish national originally from Morocco) suspected of planning to assassinate Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew the Bomb in the Turban cartoon. Westergaard has since been under police protection. He said he is angry that a “perfectly normal everyday activity [drawing political cartoons] which I used to do by the thousand was abused to set off such madness.”

It is not clear why Weber thinks that Westergaard’s cartoon is more offensive than the one she describes. Isn’t offensiveness in the eye of the beholder? Recall what William Bennett ’65 wrote two years ago about the US media’s refusal to reprint the cartoons.

But for the past month, the Islamist street has been on an intifada over cartoons depicting Muhammad that were first published months ago in a Danish newspaper. Protests in London — never mind Jordan, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Iran and other countries not noted for their commitment to democratic principles — included signs that read, “Behead those who insult Islam.” The mainstream U.S. media have covered this worldwide uprising; it is, after all, a glimpse into the sentiments of our enemy and its allies. And yet it has refused, with but a few exceptions, to show the cartoons that purportedly caused all the outrage.

What has happened? To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists — their threats more than their sensibilities.

The SATs no longer have an analogy section, but perhaps our older readers will recognize:

Danish Cartoons:Radical Islamists as Geology Cartoons: ?

My mocking is more in disrespectful fun than actual sadness, much less fear, but censors come in all shapes and sizes. Yet they always start out small and harmless. Does Stand With Us believe that student/professors have the right to put whatever cartoons they like on their walls/doors? Someone ought to ask.

3) Think that an analogy between these two situations is crazy? Consider the behavior of some Stand With Us members during last week’s march.

Katie Stack ’08 was studying in Schow on Wednesday night, and, among other things, had a student aggressively call, “Stand with us,” in her face. “The way it was carried out, I wasn’t given an option,” Stack said. “If I didn’t stand up, to them it said I didn’t care about decreasing discrimination, which I thought it was unfair and polarizing.” She added that it was the most uncomfortable peer pressure she had felt at the College.

Nice. Think Stack is nuts? Consider:

Three first-years from Sage Hall were doing homework in their common room when the Stand With Us march passed through the Frosh Quad. They joined the march briefly, then attempted to return to their entry but were stopped by other marchers. “A few people were yelling at us – not in a malicious way, but making us feel guilty for going back in, like we were disrespecting them,” said Jack Killea ’11.

Well, as long as the yelling wasn’t “malicious,” no worries right? “Disrespecting” any member of Stand With Us will, one hopes, be against the forthcoming Social Honor Code.

The Record editorial board reports that:

In several instances those in the library that didn’t join in were yelled at and made to feel uncomfortable. Some who did not immediately stand with the rest of the group were intimidated into doing so.

The whole point about a “Pact Against Indifference” is that you are either with Stand With Us — yelling at students quietly studying, forcing first years to keep marching, defacing Geology Department cartoons — or you are not.

First they came for the geologists who love cartoons, but I was not a geologist, so I said nothing.


Stamp, Stamp, Stamp, the Boy’s are Marching!

Welcome, Eph Stamp-lovers to the exciting world of Philately! Yes “lickin’ and stickin” grows in popularity every year. So let’s just jumpr right in!

The metric system has evolved from the French (“metre”)units of 1790 to be officially recognized by the Eleventh General Conference on Weights and

Measures as the International System of Units (SI) in 1960. This note brings together brief biographical notes of the scientists for whom many SI units are named, along with reproductions of postage stamps from around the world that

have been issued to honor these men.


This old gentrified House!

Yes. this is a place for all Ephs to talk over those pesky problems that come up all to oftern as one is gentrifying that great inner-city buy!

Lets start with those pesky drains:

Plumbing problems normally become self-evident pretty quickly: drains clog up, faucets drip, broken pipes spray, and so forth. Most minor plumbing problems are relatively easy to fix if you understand the basics of how the systems work. Considering the fact that plumbers now cost over $80 per hour in many areas, you can save significantly by making your own repairs when possible.

Of course, some repairs are easier to do than others are. Many just take time; some are a major hassle–particularly those that involve working on pipes that are hidden behind walls or under floors, or are otherwise difficult to access.


It’s All about Cooking!

Welcome to the world of Eph-proven recipes. Your opportunity to exchange those treasured recipes handed down from generation to generation of food-loving families!

And here to start us out:


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)

2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)

3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

a pinch fine-grain sea salt

2/3 cups sugar

zest of one large lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar

a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan

Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it’s brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.

Bake the madeleines for 12 – 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines.


1988 Yearbook: Page 58

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Eph Ambassador

The man on the right is an Eph ambassador. Can you name him?


1988 Yearbook: Page 57

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1988 Yearbook: Page 56

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Social Pressures

On our way to Dartmouth, the gender mix of the Williams trustees came up. Five of the 25 current trustees are women. (By the way, kudos to Williams for making public the terms of trustees. EphBlog gets results! But it would be even better if they listed which trustees were elected directly by the alumni. My recollection is that these are: Alvarez, Bowen, Christian, Lawrence, and Rogers. That only one of these is a white male is not, one presumes, a coincidence. Related posts here.)

Anyway, “current eph” wrote:

What percentage of ephs who could potentially be trustees are women? Trustees are–for the most part–above a certain age and have achieved a certain level of financial and social success. While women started attending Williams in the 70s, it took a number of years before Williams got even close to 50-50. Just looking at the total number of woman at “trustee age” compared to men at “trustee age,” it should be clear that there would be more male trustees. Furthermore, because of social pressures on women to give up their careers or partially give up their careers to become mothers, a significant percentage of “trustee aged” women will not be as far along on their careers as similarly aged men. Finally, sexism in the elite workplace is still in strong force, and for better or worse, this is the primary workplace from which trustees are drawn.

The first part of this comment is correct. Age matters. In a gender neutral world, there would be more male trustees than female trustees because Williams did not go co-ed until the late 60’s.

But I have real doubts about that “social pressures” stuff, perhaps because I know more Eph women with children than current eph does. The vast majority of Eph women do not choose children over career because of “social pressures.” They choose them because they love their children more than they love their careers. Call them crazy!

Now, if you’re a Marxists believer in false consciousness, then perhaps it is “social pressures” that make Eph women make those choices. Perhaps it is “social pressures” that made me put in blue jeans and blog today. But, as a first approximation, the best way to understand the choices people make is to ask them about those choices. Perhaps this attitude makes me more a sociologist than an economist, but I will leave that to Rory.

current eph is free to argue that these women are making bad choices, that, for example, my wife is an idiot to work part-time so that she can be class mom to our daughters, that it is nasty “society” which forces her to not work 60 hours a week like many of her (male) peers in dermatology, that she, and her female classmates from the glorious class of 1989 are only making the choices that they make because of social pressures. But Current Eph would be wise not to make this argument in their presence lest they mock him mercilessly.

Also, “sexism in the elite workplace” is 95% fantasy. I have been in elite workplaces for a decade and seen virtually none. First-hand counter-examples are welcome! More rant below.
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1988 Yearbook: Page 55

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1988 Yearbook: Page 54

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Windmill History

Do any readers know the history of the College’s forays into renewable energy? Leave your thoughts in the comments. This article provides some background.

After trying for a couple of years to test a site in Petersburgh, Williams College in August 2004 canceled plans to erect electric-generating windmills near the scenic Petersburgh Pass four months after the town was critical of the proposal.

Alternative energy enthusiasts first aired their idea in the fall of 2002 for a wind farm on land the college owns on the elevated and windy pass on the Taconic Ridge. The towns of Berlin and Petersburgh at first mostly welcomed the idea and the college filed an application with the town Zoning Board to erect a test tower, a 168-foot-tall thin metal monopole with an anemometer — a wind speed and direction measuring device — near the top.

After that application was received, protests against the plan arose at town board meetings. Residents said the windmills, which could stand 330 feet tall to the tip of a vertical propeller blade, would be noisy and mar the scenery.

See also this amazing (pdf) on “Report on the Feasibility of a Wind Power Project on the Berlin Pass” by Collins Canada, Lindi von Mutius, Sarah Wu and Vivian Schoung. The report is undated, but seems to have been written in 2002. The more that students focus their energies on local projects, the more important that work will prove to be.

Report abstract below. (Pictured to the right is Zephyr, the windmill on Brodie Mountain.) Read more


1988 Yearbook: Page 53

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1988 Yearbook: Page 52

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