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US Coinage …

Someone has got to go so Trump can truly represent change!

Any thoughts?

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Bring on the Brits!

For the first time this Winter Study (to my knowledge, let me know if I am wrong), 6 Exeter students will come to Williams to “study”. They will be here for two weeks of Winter Study. This means that they will likely spend a lot of time involved in “extracurriculars”, since they will not even be here for the duration of a winter study course, most of which allow for plenty of “extracurricular” time on their own.

 

Sounds like an exciting way to spend your January, as an Exeter student. Think they will take applications from WEPO students?

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Happy Birthday Eph Marines

Today marks the 241st birthday of the United States Marine Corps, celebrated around the world at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. On many dimensions, the Marines are the Williams College of military organizations: elite, steeped in history, less well-known among the hoi polloi, athletic, cultish and intellectual. Or perhaps Williams College is the Marine Corps of American high education? Either way, there is a special bond among we few, we happy brothers of Williams and the USMC. Traditionally, Marines offer each other birthday greetings this day, and so, to my fellow Ephs Marines: Happy Birthday!

The earliest Eph Marine I have been able to find is Joseph Fairchild Baker, class of 1864, who attended Williams in 1860 — 1861 but never graduated. He was the son of a United States Senator and served as a lieutenant and captain. Does anyone know his story? If we don’t remember his service 150 years ago, then who will remember ours in the decades to come?

Joel Iams ’01 sent us this letter 11 years ago.

Iams_01.jpg

The roads of Fallujah were eventually cleared, but not until we lost Nate Krissoff ’03. Will those roads need clearing again? If the President calls, I am sure my Marines will be willing, with Ephs at the forefront.

Below is a list of Eph Marines. Who am I missing?

Myles Crosby Fox ’40
Preston Parish ’41
Joe Rice ’54
TB Jones ’58
David Kane ’58
Jack Platt ’58
Carl Vogt ’58
John McGonagle ’84
Jerry Rizzo ’87
David Kane ’88
Tony Fuller ’89
Jonathan Dailey ’91
Bunge Cooke ’98
Brian Gugliatta ’95
John Bozeman ’98
Lee Kindlon ’98,
Zack Pace ’98
Ben Kamilewicz ’99
Joel Iams ’01
Rob MacDougall ’01
John Silvestro ’06
Jeff Castiglione ’07
Brad Shirley ’07
Jeff Lyon ’08
Hill Hamrick ’13

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Baxter Hall Sit-in

There was an event — sit-in? rally? protest? — in Baxter today. Quote from a private Facebook page:

Today is a day filled with emotions beyond articulation. For those of us–immigrants, LGBTQQIA/trans*/queer, femme or female-identifying, undocumented, low-income, disabled, people of color–for whom Donald Trump’s victory means violence, means fear, means physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual dislocation: this is for us. For those of us who recognize that proximity is but a matter of perception, that we are not safe, not here in New England, not here in Massachusets, and certainly not here in the Berkshires or Williamstown; for those of us who must grapple with the truth that we have not and will not be safe for a very long time: this is for us.

Join us to talk, to heal, to organize. We will be making posters, hosting an open mic, and demonstrating with our bodies and our minds, claiming the space as a space of love and resistance, for our existance is resistance.

Were any readers there? The report I heard was that a) It was well-attended and b) Some/many speakers complained that the Williams Administration was not taking student reactions to the election seriously enough. In particular, one/some/many protestors wanted the Administration to cancel classes. True?

This event may explain why Falk and Sandstrom felt obligated to send out this morning’s e-mails . . .

A politically more diverse faculty would have helped in a) preparing students for the possibility of a Trump win and b) calming students as they prepare for a Trump administration. Alas, Williams has only a handful of Republican/conservative/libertarian faculty and not a single public (or private?!) Trump supporter.

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A Path Forward, Together

To the Williams Community,

Election night brought to a conclusion the most divisive American presidential campaign in recent memory. Many members of the Williams community, including—but not limited to—women; immigrants, both documented and not; people of color; Muslims, Jews, and other religious minorities; and LGBTQ people have felt directly and deeply the rhetoric of this campaign. The rhetoric was threatening and destructive both to the individuals at whom it was aimed and to our society’s most essential values.

Even before Election Day, there had been a deep worry—which I share—that the vitriol would continue beyond the campaign season. It is essential that we recommit ourselves today, as American society at large and as a Williams family here, to the fundamental respect and care for each other that underlie all healthy communities.

On the national, state, and local levels, this means engaging in politics, each of us working as hard as we can to ensure that the laws, policies, and practices of our government reflect concern for everyone in our world.

Here at Williams, it means renewing our commitment, as we should do every single day, to a fully inclusive, equitable community in which everyone can thrive. It means treating each other with deep respect, as we attend particularly to those who feel most vulnerable in this, or any, moment.

I’m inspired by the ways I see our community already seeking to unite this morning, and I’m reminded once more of the fundamental relevance of a Williams education. Our work—to educate global citizens who are informed and empowered to lead and who feel a responsibility to help create the community we all most fervently desire to live in—today seems more important than ever.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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In support of one another and our community

Dear Students, This election season has been one of the most fraught, divisive, and difficult in history, and has been challenging for all of us.  Many students (as well as faculty and staff) are feeling acutely upset, overwhelmed, and frightened this morning. Please take this opportunity to reach out to your classmates, to offer support, to be open to discussion, to be ready to listen, and to remind everyone you see on campus that our community stands ready to support all of us. In times of stress, one of the most helpful things we can do is come together and exchange our ideas, beliefs, fears, and plans for strategic action.  Please take the opportunity to do this, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Find ways to engage with each other, with faculty and staff, with your families and friends at home.  Above all, take good care of yourselves. In addition, there are many additional resources available to you, and I encourage you to use them.  Please come see us in the Dean’s Office, in the Davis Center, in the Chaplains Office, and in the Health Center.  We are here to talk, to problem solve, and to listen.  You don’t need to have a specific question or concern…..just a desire to connect and find support.  And if you are aware that a friend or classmate is struggling, please help them find their way to us.   All best wishes, Dean Sandstrom

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All Day Today: Reflection and Conversation at The Davis Center

Good morning,

 

The Davis Center will be open throughout the day and evening to provide a space and place for reflecting, connecting and caring.  Members of the community should feel free to stop by at any time.  There will be food available.

Best,

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes, Ph.D.

Vice President

Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity

Williams College | Williamstown, MA

(P) 413.597.4376

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Reduce the Power of the Presidency

There was an election last night. Interesting stuff! Alas, Ephs are concerned about the results. But is there a political topic that all good Ephs can agree on? I nominate this February essay by Oren Cass ’05.

Our system of government does little to prevent a strongman or a crank from winning the presidency. As long as Electoral College members adhere faithfully to the election results in their states, voters may choose whomever they want, on whatever basis. Recognizing this, the Constitution’s framers tightly circumscribed the president’s role, checking it horizontally with coequal branches that resist sudden change and vertically with the many powers reserved to the states.

The dangerous and novel phenomenon of 2016 is not irresponsible politicians or an inflamed electorate, but rather the unprecedented concentration of power awaiting the election’s ultimate winner. Ironically, many of the now-panicking elites are the very ones who made the presidency so powerful. If they can learn the right lesson from the recent chaos, the specter — even fleeting — of a President Trump or a President Sanders could provide the needed spur to restore balance to our constitutional system. Both parties have done their best to expand the power of the presidency in recent decades — whenever the presidency was theirs. Presidents Reagan and then Clinton established unprecedented White House control over the sprawl of federal agencies. The second President Bush asserted nearly exclusive authority to manage national security and foreign affairs. President Obama, after campaigning against the Bush administration’s excesses, doubled down on most and then applied the same attitude to matters of domestic policy.

Obama described in 2014 his “pen and phone” strategy for governing alone in his second term. At the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the president informed the audience that he had “something that rhymes with ‘bucket list.’ Take executive action on immigration. Bucket. New climate regulations. Bucket, it’s the right thing to do.”

Read the whole thing.

Cass argues that we ought to dramatically decrease the power of the president. I am a Trump voter, and I agree. Will my fellow Ephs who voted for Clinton join us in this effort? If so, where should Obama start?

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Concerning

roberts

Betting markets are at 50/50. Stay tuned!

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Call for Nominations for an Olmsted Prize

To the Class of 2017,

Did you have a teacher in high school who made a big difference in your life? Someone whose teaching inspired you and whose dedication helped you on your path? 

Now’s your chance to say thank you—with our help. Every year during Commencement Weekend, the college honors several teachers with the Olmsted Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching. We bring the recipients to Williamstown and present them with the award and a $3,000 prize, and an additional $5,000 goes to each teacher’s school. They’re celebrated at a special dinner and during Ivy Exercises that weekend.

I can tell you that the teachers who receive these prizes are incredibly honored by the tributes from the students who’ve nominated them, and the weekend during which they’re celebrated stands out as one of the most memorable experiences of their lives. It’s also enormously meaningful for all of us on campus to meet and thank a few of the many devoted teachers whose work helped bring you to Williams. And as we do so, it’s a chance for Williams to honor teachers—and teaching—broadly and very publicly, on an occasion when the world is watching.

I write now to invite you to nominate a teacher who’s had a profound impact on your life. There’s more information—including guidelines and a nomination form—online. The deadline for submitting a nomination is Tuesday, January 3.

I hope you’ll take this opportunity to participate in one of Williams’ most wonderful traditions. 

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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Election Thread

There is a US election today. Have you heard? The most prominent Eph supporter of Republican (?) nominee Donald Trump is William Bennett ’65.

It’s time to put aside our differences, elect Trump, and defeat a candidate under an FBI investigation. In America’s government of strong presidentialism, it’s the candidate at the top who matters, and a vote for Trump is the only feasible method of defending the principles of freedom, justice and prosperity Republicans hold in common against the most serious threat we have ever faced, a threat that begins to look like the final defeat of republican government, and permanent decline for the country we love.

The only other Eph I know who has publicly supported Trump is former faculty member John Drew. Are there any others?

The most prominent Eph supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is probably Senator Chris Murphy ’96.

“She has spent time in the highest echelons of government, but she understands that families in America today are struggling to pay all their bills and save for college and retirement while wages seem stuck in neutral,” Murphy said. He also said he’s confident “she understands better than any other candidate, how a balanced approach between hard and soft power is the best way to protect America from developing threats overseas.”

The are scores of other Ephs who support Clinton. Feel free to provide links to their views (and share your own) in the comments. Also, share with us your predictions! Whatever reader gets closest (and first) to the actual electoral vote totals wins epic bragging rights.

I predict Clinton 275, Trump 263. You?

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November Lyceum on 11/15/2016

Dear fellow Ephs,

Hope your midterms season is winding down because…it’s time for the second Lyceum dinner of the year!

The Nutting Family cordially invites you to ask a professor or staff member (administration, chaplains, health services, Davis Center, campus life, CSS, facilities, dining services, etc.) to a partially subsidized, three-course meal at the Faculty Club for this special dinner. This Lyceum Dinner will be held at the Faculty House at 6:45 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 15th, 2016

Due to popular demand and to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules, this dinner will be flexible in terms of how many people can be in each party. 1, 2, 3… up to 7 students may invite any ONE member of the faculty or staff to dinner. (We are trying this out still so things may revert in the future.)

Another important clarification: if selected to attend Lyceum, it WILL take away your meal swipe for dinner on 11/15/2016. That’s why we ask for your student ID’s on the registration form. Sorry for the confusion in the past and we hope this won’t deter you from signing up! The meal swipes help pay for a portion of dinner. The Nutting Fund pays for all of the faculty/staff guests’ Lyceum meals and for 1/2 of each Lyceum meal for students with meal plans. If you are a senior and not on a meal plan, don’t worry you can still attend! Just clarify on the form that you don’t have a meal plan and the Nutting Fund will also cover your meal!

Spaces are given on a first-come, first-served basis, with preferences given to:

1) those with parties of 4 (3 students and 1 faculty/staff)

2) those who have not yet attended a Lyceum dinner (still best chance for the class of 2020 out there yayy).

The entrée options for this dinner are:

-Salmon with maple-dijon glaze

-Chicken with sundried tomatoes and basil cream sauce

-Vegetable Strata

To register, please fill out the online form at:

https://goo.gl/forms/VlTNC86ONJ6IW3d43

As always, forward a confirmation email from your guest; your registration will not be considered until we receive the guest’s confirmation email.

The online registration form will close as soon as all spaces have been filled. If you have any questions, please email WilliamsLyceum@gmail.com

Cordially,

Minwei

Lyceum Coordinator

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Hate Hoax at Williams in 2012

Before it drops down the memory hole, let’s remember the hate hoax of 2012:

On Saturday afternoon, President Falk informed the College via an all-campus e-mail that a resident of Mission found the words “All beaners must die” written on the whiteboard outside of her room.

Cancel classes! Organize a march! Claim Williams! We must stop at nothing to root out white racism from the College!

Or, we could just remember that many/most of the “hate crimes” at elite colleges like Williams are actually “hate hoaxes,” staged events designed to create controversy and not evidence of actual animus.

On Sunday afternoon, the student who wrote the statement admitted to his actions; as such, while the incident was originally classified as a hate crime, that classification may ultimately change as the investigation revealed that the statement was not a targeted threat.

Huh? As a matter of law, is it really true that hate crimes are not hate crimes if there is not a “targeted threat?” Not according to the FBI:

A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Vandalism is a crime, so writing “Go Amherst!” on a Williams door (without their permission) is a crime. Writing “All Beaners Must Die” is vandalism with bias, so it is a hate crime. Whether or not the vandalism is “targeted” has nothing to do with it. I think that the Administration cynically spun a naive Record reporter.

But I welcome comments from Eph lawyers! Does the hate crime classification require looking into intent? That is, does someone need to have a heart filled with anti-Mexican sentiments to be prosecuted for a hate crime in this scenario? Just writing the words is not enough, if the person really loves Mexicans? Back to the article:

On Sunday afternoon, students received another all-campus e-mail from Falk. According to the e-mail, the student wrote the phrase on the victim’s door after entry snacks on Nov. 4 following a conversation about the hate crime committed on Nov. 12, 2011. According to Bolton, the student and the people with whom he was conversing were attempting to figure out how someone could think that writing “All n****rs must die” was acceptable.

Ask Jess Torres ’12! Her legacy of pot-stirring lives on.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bolton sent the campus an e-mail with an apology from the perpetrator. The e-mail expressed the student’s sincerest apology, clarified the events that led to the writing and affirmed that there was no malicious intent behind the writing. In particular, the student, who self-identified as being “of Mexican descent,” confessed that he chose to write the word “beaner” because it was a racial slur that had been used against him in the past. “Because the word is used to describe the Mexican culture, I was more comfortable writing that word than any other possible identity group,” the student wrote.

I suspect that a white student would not have received such sympathetic treatment from Bolton.

The senior administration and Security determined that the writing posed an immediate threat to campus and chose to notify the campus via e-mail as quickly as possible. “When the wording contains an explicit threat, then we treat it as an immediate threat; we don’t try to judge differently from the outset,” Klass said. “Part of the protocol is not questioning that aspect of the evidence. If something contains an explicit threat, we deal with it as an explicit threat and then see where our investigation takes us.”

That is a good way to encourage more such nonsense! If every troublemaker can cause Klass and the rest of the Administration to dance the protocol dance, then he is just asking for more dancing. Whatever happened to common sense?

As a result of the incident, Security also increased its patrols and presence on campus. “We assigned an officer at the scene and in Mission Park until 8 a.m. the next morning,” Boyer said. “We significantly increased our campus coverage by calling off-duty dispatchers and officers. At the same time, we extended shifts beyond the normal eight hours and moved officers from athletic events and parties to campus coverage. By doing this, we were able to double and triple our normal campus coverage at times.”

What an absurd waste of money! Although none of us like unwanted graffiti, there is no evidence that any Williams student has ever been at risk of physical harm because of racial animus, much less anonymous scribbling. By the way, what sort of incentives is Williams creating for security officers looking for some more overtime?

After the initial investigation was begun, the senior administration also contacted the FBI officer who investigated last November’s hate crime to share details of the incident.

Isn’t anyone else embarrassed by this sort of wolf-crying? There might be a day when Williams really needs the help of the local (?) FBI. Bothering them with this tripe makes that help less likely.

“We shared the evidence [with the FBI officer] in case he had an immediate insight,” Bolton said. “He hasn’t physically come to campus. They’ve been in conversation with him about the evidence that appeared on Saturday, and of course, they’ve also let him know what happened on Sunday.”

Ha! So, you called up the FBI on Saturday, crying about the racists over-running the Williams campus, and he tells you to stop being such a baby. Then you have to call him up on Sunday and admit that it was another stupid hate hoax.

Prior to the perpetrator coming forward on Sunday, the senior staff held a gathering for members of the community on Saturday at 6 p.m. The gathering was originally intended to be held in Hardy House, but was moved to the Jewish Religious Center (JRC) to accommodate more students. Over 200 students and faculty attended the gathering.

Two hundred people gathered to worry themselves about a hoax! Should we laugh or cry about the state of Williams?

The rest of the article is so hilarious that I ought to spend a week making fun of everyone involved. But not this week! Kudos to reporter Nicole Smith for an excellent job.

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“I believe a man lost in the mazes of his own mind may imagine that he’s anything.”

main_1200

 

Quote from The Wolfman   1941

Genre:  Drama, Horror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  The Atlantic, Win McNamee / Getty

 

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Yard By Yard

More than fifty years ago, Ephs took the field against Wesleyan.

Tomorrow, they do the same. And ten years from now. And one hundred. Do our Eph football players recognize their history? Do you?

TB Jones ’58 (my father’s roommate) played varsity squash at Williams. I remember seeing his picture in one of the many team photos that used to line the walls of the old gym. Walking by those old photographs each day for practice provided me with a great sense of the history that I was becoming a part of. Years later, those emotions were perfectly captured by Robin Williams in “The Dead Poet’s Society” when he takes his class to view the pictures of past students at their fictional New England prep school.

From the script:

Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures.

KEATING: “Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.”

The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.

KEATING: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in.”

The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron’s shoulder.

KEATING (whispering in a gruff voice): “Carpe.”

Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.

KEATING: “Hear it?” (whispering again) “Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.

Decades from now there will be another young man at Williams who will walk down those halls on his way to practice. Perhaps he will play squash like TB Jones and I did (although I hope that he plays more like TB than like me). Whatever his future might hold, I hope that he sees our pictures and wonders about us, about where we went from Williams and how prepared we were for the journey. I hope that he realizes how fortunate he is.

Does new football coach Mark Raymond remind his players of the history of those who have gone before? Does he know their names and their stories?

I hope so.

Williams may win or lose tomorrow. Given the fact that the team has struggled all season, that the seniors have lost at Homecoming every year that they have been at Williams and that Wesleyan comes into the game as one of the top teams in NESCAC, a victory tomorrow would be one of the sweetest in years, all the more so because no (?) neutral observer gives Williams any chance at all.

Did Frank Uible ’57 win or lose the games he played against Wesleyan more than 50 year ago? In the longer sweep of history, one game, one loss, is as dust in the corridors of memory. What matters is the day itself, and the place we each occupy within the traditions of the Williams community.

No one remembers the score of the game these men played 100 years ago. But we look in their faces and see ourselves.

I am Frank Uible ’57. Who are you?

[Thanks to EphBlog regular “nuts” and Williams Sports Information for the photos. Note that the original post in this series did not include a YouTube clip because YouTube did not exist. Old Time is still a-flying.]

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On SCS Forms and Teaching Evaluations

Much of the best content at EphBlog is almost a decade old. Consider this comment from Professor James McAlister about Student Course Survey forms:

Ronit’s argument that SCS forms should not be the primary determinant of teaching quality is dead wrong. What are the alternatives? You could have professors determine teaching quality, but in this case I suspect many professors would be tenured or denied tenure simply because of how their colleagues view them in the classroom. What professors view as good teaching is likely to be substantialy different than what students view as effective teaching. In fact, the entire incentive structure would lead professors to teach in a manner designed to impress fellow profs than it would be designed to impress students. I can understand why professors might prefer this system, but why students should advocate such a system is beyond me. There is a reason why places such as Harvard have some brilliant researchers who are terrible teachers–their fate does not depend at all on students. Why would we want Williams to adopt a system in which professors would not have any interest in how students assess their teaching?

As Morty likes to say, anecdotes are not evidence. Even the worst professors at Williams have their defenders and the best their detractors. Without the SCS forms, tenure would become a process in which such anecdotes become all important. What the SCS system does is to quantify individual assessments into meaningful numbers that can be used for real comparisons.

The last point I would like to make is that many people seem to feel that profs can game the system by awarding high grades and giving students little work. As anyone who has ever seen SCS data would verify, Williams students generally punish professors who are not demanding in their expectations. The other thing to note is that the SCS forms capture such efforts. A prof who has great teaching scores, but is getting them on the basis of inflating grades and not assigning work (that does happen)is not fooling anyone. If a professor was unable to get good teaching scores without high grades and substantial requirements that would be duly noted in any review. It is also true that it would be noted if a professor received somewhat lower teaching scores but was a tough grader and had high standards.

No one would deny that there are problems in all forms of teacher assessments, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy, it is the best system of all for both students, profs, and administrators.

Indeed. The entire thread is worth reading. There is a great senior thesis to be written evaluating some of the factual claims that McAllister makes above. Any chance that the Administration would allow a student to access this data? I doubt it.

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NCAA Settlement and Concussion Study

From Williams:

I am writing to make you aware of a legal notice that you are likely to receive in connection with a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit currently pending against the NCAA. The lawsuit involves claims on behalf of all former and current student athletes at all NCAA member institutions, including Williams. The proposed settlement, which will be described in detail in the legal notice that you will receive, would require the NCAA to establish and fund a medical monitoring program for the benefit of student athletes who might have continuing issues arising from concussions suffered while participating in NCAA-sanctioned sports.

As part of the settlement process, the court overseeing the lawsuit has ordered that notice of the proposed settlement be given to all potential members of the plaintiff class. To comply with that order, the NCAA has asked all of its member institutions, including Williams, to provide contact information for all alumni (and current students) who participated in an NCAA-sanctioned sport as an undergraduate. Williams has complied with that request, and we thought it appropriate to make you aware of this and to provide context for the legal notice that you will receive. You should also know that Williams is not permitted to answer questions about the lawsuit or the proposed settlement, and we therefore encourage you to avail yourself of the resources provided in the notice for further information.

Please note that this process is unrelated to previous outreach to you from Williams regarding concussion history. A subset of alumni was asked to respond to a survey that was part of a study about long-term impact of concussions, research that was overseen by a fellow alum, Dr. Rebekah Mannix ’90. Psychology Professor Noah Sandstrom partnered in the effort; results of their study were published and can be found at this link:

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/neu.2015.3930

With best wishes from Williamstown,

Brooks Foehl ’88
Director of Alumni Relations

1) Was this e-mail sent to all alums or just those who participated in athletics and/or in the survey?

2) It would be better if Williams made a copy of the study available to any alum who participated. The hidden status of much/most publicly-funded research is an embarrassment to all concerned. But it is also highly profitable for Mary Ann Liebert Publishers! Any idea how much sleaze we might find with a little digging into them?

3) Given that a Williams professor, and accomplished alum, were both authors of the study, can we safely assume that they will uphold the highest standards of academic transparency and data/code sharing?

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Highland Woods

Adam Shanks’ Eagle article on Highland Woods is notable more for its naivete than for its news.

When Tropical Storm Irene dumped as much as 9 inches of rain on the Northern Berkshires in late August 2011, flooding at the Spruces Mobile Home Park left the town’s most vulnerable residents homeless.

Just over five years later, state and local leaders gathered on Thursday to dedicate a building that stands as a testament to the town’s unified response to the storm’s devastation: Highland Woods.

Built with the help of multiple agencies and funding from sources local, state and national, the 40-unit affordable senior housing facility is now fully occupied. Several were residents of the Spruces.

A better reporter would have wanted to know the details of how the new residents were chosen. I bet it wasn’t a lottery! Although it is sweet to note that several (meaning 3?) are former Sprucites, the more interesting question is where the vast majority came from.

“This is a prime example of what a group of people and organizations can do when they get together behind a common purpose that they really believe in,” said Elton Ogden, president of project developer Berkshire Housing Development Corp.

Or, this is a prime example of what happens when local powerbrokers get their hands on a pile of someone else’s money. The people behind Berkshire Housing certainly benefit from a storm like Irene.

Highland Woods was built on a 4-acre parcel on Church Street was donated by Williams College in 2013.

Why should any alum donate to Williams if the College is just going to turn around and give their money to some random non-profit? If I wanted my charity to go to affordable housing, then I would just give it directly to that cause. I don’t need/want to launder my gifts through Williams.

“It was clear that we at Williams were going to want to find some way to participate in making this situation better,” said Williams College President Adam Falk. “I’m deeply grateful that were given the opportunity to do something that was relatively simple compared to all of the other extraordinary work.”

Falk is so generous in giving away alumni money. He is the very model of of modern major virtue signaller.

Funding for the project came from a number of sources, including a $2.67 million grant from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development and $5.4 million in federal housing tax credits.

If the total cost was $8.5 million, then who ponied up the other $500,000?

He stressed that “no corners were cut on the design and construction of this building.”

A ruptured pipe caused water damage in the 40-unit building and caused delays in February — on the very day residents were set to begin moving in — but the project has since recovered.

Alrightty then! How much damage/delay would there have to have been before Shanks asked some harder questions?

A sprinkler line in the attic was inadvertently filled with water and, when it thawed after the winter’s freeze, the two-inch pipe bursted open. The damage from the incident only impacted the eastern half of the facility, which had to be stripped to the studs and almost entirely rebuilt, Ogden said.

Who paid for that rebuilding? But don’t worry! No corners were cut! A better reporter would have gotten an estimate from local builders about the true cost of the building. Not that government contractors ever pad their bills . . .

Higher Ground, a nonprofit that formed locally in the wake of Irene, also donated $125,000 that contributed to the facility’s furniture and landscaping.

Has anyone heard of Higher Ground?

Higher Ground grew out of our community’s effort to serve the survivors of Tropical Storm Irene and is working to keep our community involved in the recovery process.

The classic line about non-profits is that they begin as a cause, turn into a business and then end up as a racket. I certainly believe that the people who started Higher Ground were doing God’s work in finding shelter for those displaced by Irene. Are they still? A better reporter would find out. Best case would be that Higher Ground is now closing, they had $125,000 left in the bank, so they donated the remaining money. But didn’t the donors of that money expect it to go to former residents of the Spruces? Back to the article:

“The completion of Highland Woods is truly a community success,” said Susan Puddester, president of Higher Ground’s board of directors.

Susan Puddester is, presumably, the wife of Frederick Puddester, one of the most powerful officials at Williams. Did her husband play a role in deciding whether or not Williams would donate the land? Do people with a Williams association have an edge in getting a spot at Highland Woods? Investigating those questions would make for a much more interesting news article.

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