“Course exploration is one of my favorite things!”
In the words of Alexander Hamilton from Hamilton:
“I’m not throwing away my shot … to explore courses!”
In the words of Yoda from Star Wars:
“May course exploration be with you.”
It’s time to be like Dora the Course Explorer!
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The start of the semester is your chance to explore courses and try something new. You have 32 courses at Williams; make the most of all of them! You just might learn the most when you take a course outside of your comfort zone. Take a risk. Try something new.Use the first two days of the semester (Wednesday and Friday of this week) to explore all the curriculum has to offer!Do not limit yourself to the courses you pre-registered for. Go to the first class meetings of courses that look interesting –– this is a great way for you to test out a class and see if you like it. Professors welcome students in the first class meeting of open courses (so long as you contact them ahead of time –– see the email guide sent out a couple of days ago!). During the first two days of the semester, you may want to go to five or six (or more) first class meetings! Exploring courses can be a fun!
If you need some inspiration, check out stories and words of wisdom from some of your fellow Ephs in this video! And, check out the Your 32 series on the Humans of Williams Facebook page to read stories of course exploration!
This advice, we hope, is as true for first-years as it is for seniors. It is never too late to try something new.
These are “Your 32.”
They are “Your Chance to Explore.”
Make the most of them!
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If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please contact Jeffrey Rubel (email@example.com). We love hearing from you!
1) Any tutorial. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be. There are few plausible excuses for not taking a tutorial every semester. Although many tutorials are now filled, others are not. Recommended:
PHIL 340 Spring 2017 Locke and Leibniz with Justin Shaddock. This course is, obviously, designed for students who have taken a philosophy course. But don’t let that stop you! Also, if you haven’t studied philosophy in a Williams tutorial, then you really haven’t studied philosophy.
By the way, where can we find data about how popular tutorials are? For example, do most/all tutorials end up filled? How many students attempted to enroll in each one? More transparency!
2) STAT 201 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with STAT 101). No topic is more helpful in starting your career, no matter your area of interest, than statistics. Students who take several statistics courses are much more likely to get the best summer internships and jobs after Williams. Also, the new Statistics major is amazing. If the professors tell you that the classes are filled, just tell them that you plan on majoring in statistics so you need to get started now.
3) CSCI 135: Diving into the Deluge of Data (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with CSCI 134). Being able to get the computer to do what you want it to do is much more important, to your future career, than most things, including, for example, the ability to write well. Taking CSCI 136 is also highly recommended. Again, if a professor tries to tell you the class is full, just claim to be future computer science major. Mendacity in the pursuit of quality classes is no vice.
From: Karen Swann
Date: Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 8:54 AM
Subject: Williams Opposes Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary
Some Williams faculty have drafted a letter asking President Falk to issue a public statement in opposition to Betsy DeVos’s appointment as US Education Secretary. Apologies if you have already been asked to sign. (There are over 260 signatures so far.) If you would like to sign, please use the link below to do so, and please feel free to send it on to others in the Williams community. The confirmation hearing is this coming Tuesday, so it is important to proceed quickly.
Falk should decline to issue such a statement. The President of Williams is a non-partisan position. He, acting ex-officio, should no more take a stand on a cabinet nominee than he should speak out in favor a specific contestant for Miss America. Predictions in what Falk will do?
We the undersigned members of the Williams community urge you to make a public statement on behalf of Williams College students, faculty, alumni, staff, and Board of Trustees opposing the appointment of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Education Secretary.
Mrs. DeVos refuses to support federal policies regarding educational systems that receive public funding. Especially concerning is Mrs. DeVos’s devaluation of Title IX and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which ensure that all students’ educational experiences are free of discrimination that impedes learning. Mrs. DeVos’s proposed policies, to the extent that she has managed to articulate them, will gut public education at every level, and further widen the preparation gap and achievement disparities we work every day to remedy for our students. Let us be clear: school choice and deregulation are tantamount to resegregation, and will inflict the most harm on students in already underfunded areas with the least resources for mobility. As educators, our highest priority is the well being and intellectual growth of our students. Every one of Mrs. DeVos’s answers in her confirmation hearing flew in the face of these values. She is unqualified to hold any office in connection with education.
The vote on DeVos is currently scheduled to take place this coming Tuesday, January 31 at 10 AM. This is the time to stand up and make our values known. As a private, not-for-profit institution in an imperfect system of higher education, we have a responsibility to defend and protect the right to free, equally funded, high quality K-12 public education for every resident of every county in the nation. Please stand with us in courage and commitment to help block this nomination and galvanize educators throughout the country. If we do not speak now, our students will suffer for years to come.
There are many reasons to oppose DeVos. One could — and I hope that Williams faculty would — make the argument against her soberly. This letter isn’t that. It is so sloppy that I am too bored to fisk it.
However! It would be great if Williams hosted a debate between Professor Swann and supporters of DeVos, someone like Mike Needham ’04 or William Bennett ’65. Or is that the sort of uncomfortable learning that Williams faculty have grown tired of?
UPDATE: Perhaps more importantly, the Williams President (and/or faculty when speaking as a group) should save their fire power for something that truly matters to Williams students, like the travel ban. That’s important! But by yelping about every Republican thing that happens — and DeVos is nothing if not a standard Republican nominee — people like Professor Karen Swann make it less likely that we will take them seriously on a topic (the travel ban) which deeply affects some of their students and colleagues.
On Friday President Trump signed an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It declared numerous changes in American immigration policy, including an immediate 90-day ban on entry into the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It also sharply restricts the admission of refugees and imposes a religious test for refugees from certain countries. The full text of the order can be found many places online, including here.
The news is still fresh, and events are unfolding quickly. But it’s already clear that this action has great potential to harm students, faculty, staff and their families, both at Williams and around the world. We’re doing everything we can to support those in our community who’ve been placed at risk.
Our staff worked quickly to ascertain whether any members of the campus community, including students from the Center for Development Economics, were outside the country when the order went into effect. I’m relieved to report that our students are all accounted for. We’re still working to confirm the same for faculty and staff, and will keep you informed. A special thank you to Assistant Dean Ninah Pretto for advising international students to be cautious about traveling abroad during this time. Even so, the order places great stress on international students, faculty, and staff; those who are immigrants or children of immigrants; many Muslim members of our community, and others. We’ll continue to assess the situation as it develops and take appropriate action to support those affected. If you need or want support we have many resources available: please contact the dean’s office, our chaplains, the Davis Center or Counseling Services for help.
The president’s order is inconsistent with Williams’ essential values. It conflicts with our non-discrimination policy, which forbids discrimination on the basis of national origin, religion, and other identity attributes. On Saturday night a federal judge issued a stay on deportations under the order, and a number of organizations and individuals have announced plans to challenge the order’s constitutionality in the courts.
This is a distressing time, but Williams prepares us for moments when moral courage is required. We can—and must—show the world we’re capable of something greater and nobler than fear.
Attached please find a schedule for third quarter physical education offerings. Registration will begin on People Soft January 30 and run through February 2. (Please note only students who still need credit can register during the first 24 hours)
For more information about PE including details about the PE requirement please visit: http://athletics.williams.edu/physical-education/. Classes begin the week of Monday, February 6, 2017.
As a reminder the college requirement for graduation is 4 credits of physical education. Students who do not complete the requirement by the end of their sophomore year may not be eligible to study abroad as juniors. If you have any questions I am happy to help,
Go to People Soft
Under student self service
Click on PE class registration
Donald Trump’s long-awaited Muslim ban became a reality today. No, you might say, it’s not actually the proposal he outlined during the campaign. True, the ban doesn’t cover every Muslim globally, just a set of Muslims from countries Trump perceives, rather arbitrarily, to be dangerous.
But today’s announcement is anchored in his campaign rhetoric, and the fact that every country on today’s list is a Muslim-majority nation confirms that he meant what he said – that Muslims are dangerous and need to be treated differently than any other set of people.
Is this the primary issue that Chris Murphy wants to fight the 2018 election over? Good luck! I am sure his Republican opponent would love that. The campaign adds write themselves:
Chris Murphy wants to re-settle millions of devout Muslims from countries like Syria and Somalia, foreigners who believe … [insert a bunch of (scary!) true facts about what Muslims in these countries believe about, say, homosexuality, female genital mutilation and the appropriate role of women in society] … Generic Republican Challenger [perhaps female, perhaps a veteran] wants to keep Connecticut safe for the Americans who live here. Who do you want representing you in the Unite States Senate?
There are not a lot of things that could lose Chris Murphy his Senate seat. Becoming the leading voice in favor of more Muslim immigration might just be one of them . . .
We have received many messages from the international student body concerned about the executive order signed late Friday evening that bans the entry of immigrants and non-immigrants (including dual citizens and green card holders) from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Already we have seen individuals being detained by authorities at airports. The current timeline for the ban is 90 days, however it is uncertain what will happen after this period.
Prior to Winter Study, we sent a travel advisory asking all F-1 international students reenter the U.S. prior to 1/20/17, which students followed. I have reached out to F-1 international students directly impacted by the ban and they are currently in the U.S. and safe. I know many of you may be feeling great anxiety not only for yourselves, but for your family and friends. I want you to know that we are here to support each and every one of you and will be available for meetings Monday and throughout the week. We are also in ongoing communication with an immigration attorney.
It deeply saddens me that I must send you this email, especially as the daughter of immigrants, who sacrificed much, so that I could have a better life. It infuriates me that individuals are being targeted and discriminated against because of their religion. I chose to be an International Advisor, because I believe that this country is made greater with immigrants. I believe this country should always be a place where all people can seek refuge and safety.
We encourage you to reach out to the Dean’s Office, the Chaplains, the Davis Center, Counseling Services for any support you may need during this troubling time. If you have questions and concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.
Here (pdf) is a copy of the 1998 letter from President Schapiro to the Senate Finance Committee. Many thanks to the wonderful Mary Detloff for tracking down a copy. We first discussed this document almost nine years ago.
The beginning of the spring semester is a few days away! I hope you are looking forward to a wonderful spring 2017 and all the learning that will come with it!
More than likely, over the next few months of the spring, you’ll be emailing your professors. They love to hear from you!
Sometimes though, emailing a professor can be a bit scary (even though it shouldn’t be!). How formal should I be? What should I say? How should I even begin? You are not the only one asking these questions.
Good news! We have some answers for you.
Last fall, the Committee on Educational Affairs assembled a resource: A Guide to Emailing Professors. And it’s only one (double-sided) page! With two free sample emails! The guide is a collection of email-related tips from professors and students. (You can find it attached to this email.)
Your professors teach at Williams because they care about you! They want to hear from you, and they want to connect with you. Don’t be afraid to send them an email with a question, or to set up a meeting, or to find a time to just chat!
Your professors an important part of the Williams community and your experience at the College, so we hope you connect with them this semester. They love hearing from you! And we hope this guide is useful for all students––from first-years to seniors.
Please be in touch with any questions or comments. We, like your professors, love hearing from you!
Yours in a love of sending emails,
Jeffrey Rubel ’17 Student Chair, Committee on Educational Affairs
Contact the CEA: Feel free to reach out with any questions about your own academic experience or with suggestions/ideas about how to improve the overall Williams curriculum. We love hearing from you! Your idea could shape how we learn and teach at Williams. (Send questions, thoughts, reflections, and ideas to Jeffrey Rubel at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you to the following people for their submissions to the guide: Professor Ralph Bradburd (ECON), Professor Phoebe Cohen (GEOS), Professor Susan Dunn (HIST), Professor Stephen Fix (ENGL), Professor Paul Karabinos (GEOS), Professor Anthony Nicastro (RLIT), Professor Lee Park (CHEM), Professor Greg Phelan (ECON), Professor Leyla Rouhi (RLSP), Professor Tom Smith (CHEM), Professor Janneke van de Stadt (RUSS), Jackie Lane ’16, Luis Urrea ’16, Em Nuckols ’16, Stephanie Caridad ’18, Gary Chen ’18, Jack Greenberg ’18, Alexandra Griffin ’18, and Allegra Simon ’18.
Also, thank you to Stephanie Caridad ’18 (CEA) and to Celeste Pepitone-Nahas ’17 and Chris Lyons ’17, co-chairs of the Mental Health Committee, for editing earlier drafts for the guide.
Supported by the Deans Office and the Committee on Educational Affairs.
At the same time, I don’t quite know what to do with it. Comments:
1) I encourage readers to poke around with the original. The big earners are mostly graduates of pharmacy schools. Is being a pharmacist really that lucrative? Is the median income of someone who graduates from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy really over $120,000 at age 32?
2) I have not figured out exactly how they handle complexities in the data. For example, how do they separate out the incomes from married couples filing jointly? How do they calculate the income for someone who is a stay-at-home mom or dad?
3) Another key attribute to control for is occupation. We don’t care much if Duke graduates earn more than Williams graduates if the cause is that more Ephs become teachers. But if Eph teachers and Eph investment bankers both earn less money than Duke teachers/bankers, we should figure out why.
1) Are you surprised by the variation in marriage rates among NESCAC schools? I am! Why would 61% of Colby students be married but only 48% at Trinity? Should we be pleased or upset that the number at Williams is, at 57%, below average?
2) There is a great senior thesis to be written about changing patterns of marriage among Williams graduates. In the US population, marriages rates over the last 50 years have dropped dramatically. I think that this is true among the graduates of elite colleges, but can’t find the relevant data. Certainly, the percentage of heterosexual male Ephs who were unmarried at age 40 was very low, at least through graduating classes in the 80s. Single digits? My sense (contrary opinions welcome!) is that the marriage rate among female Eph graduates is lower, probably because of hypergamy.
3) Could a determined Williams president affect the marriage rate? I bet he could! Should he? I think so. Few things correlated better with life outcomes than marriage. (Of course, there are huge correlation/causation problems.)
Contrary to what seems to be the general belief here, women at Williams do not actually exist as a selection pool from which to pick your future wife / future child-bearer. Of course, I’m sure that the group of men who spend their time obsessively posting distorted facts about the College at which they spent their peak years and now continue to pathetically long for are among the most attractive personages to have ever graduated the hallowed halls of Williams *sarcasm*.
That seems uncharitable! I was urging Williams male undergraduates to ask out female undergraduates. Does our commentator want more of that or less of it?
Perhaps more importantly, it seems that this Eph has not been given “the talk” by her family. EphBlog is here to help! Nothing, other than religious belief, is more associated with female happiness in the US than marriage. You will never be prettier than you are now. You will never have such a high quality pool of potential husbands to pick from. Choose one now. And invite EphBlog to the wedding!
Dave Paulsen had his George Mason team at attention last Saturday morning and was ready to tell them about embracing the process. There was a basketball element to his talk — about not being obsessively results-driven, about not living and dying on every shot, about accepting coaching and enjoying hard work — but it also tied into the upcoming second semester, and how the Patriots needed to embrace their academics with a certain verve.
The rest of the story is worth reading for a few minutes. A quick perusal of the comments to the post shows lots of love for Dave, who is getting good reviews here at George Mason. I wonder if he ever gave any serious consideration to staying at Williams? I suspect the money available at Division 1 schools was simply too much to pass up, not to mention the professional challenge of succeeding at a higher level of basketball.
The central point about socio-economic diversity that I have been making for more than a decade is that there is no evidence that Williams is more economically diverse now than it was 30 years ago, and probably even 50 or 100 years ago. It is embarrassing how often the Williams administration (names like Payne, Schapiro, Hill, Falk and Dudley come to mind) claim that we are more economically diverse and how quickly naive reporters like David Leonhardt of The New York Times are to believe them. Recall the question that I have suggested for years:
In 1998, the 426th poorest family at Williams had a family income of $63,791. What is the family income of the 426th poorest family at Williams today? How has that number changed over the last two decades?
If the Record were a competent paper, or David Leonhardt were a competent reporter, than this is the question that would be asked. It/he isn’t, and so we have been left with just my rants. But now we have data!
Summary: Williams did not become (meaningfully) more economically diverse between the classes of 2005 and 2013. Eyeballing the chart, it looks like about 19% of the students in the class of 2006 were from families in the bottom 60% of the income distribution. For the class of 2013, it was 20%. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Recall my analysis from 2008:
We can see that there is no evidence that the socio-economic diversity of Williams has increased in the last decade and some circumstantial evidence that it has stayed the same.
The EOP proves that I was right. There was no good evidence that economic diversity had meaningfully increased at Williams between 1998 and 2008. The EOP data, which goes through the class of 2013, shows the same thing.
More importantly, we know that the same trend has continued up through the class of 2021, as we discussed on Monday. In fact, this sure seems similar to the data we know for the class of 1998.
1) The above chart is drawn from this collection, which shows the trends for various cuts of the income distribution. There is no perfect single measure of income inequality. Other charts, like that for the percentage of students from the top 20%, might put Williams in a better light. But even these charts, to the extent that they show changes in the direction of more economic diversity, show incredibly small changes, perhaps even within the appropriate confidence intervals.
2) We are being fast and loose with many of the relevant details. The numbers we studied in 2008 were based on all the students at Williams over the years between 1998 and 2008. In other words, each number was provided for all 2,000 students on campus in a given academic year. The EOP data is, I think, based on birth year, which provides, at best, an imperfect mapping to graduation class.
3) We should try to get our hands on the underlying data for Williams and some other peer schools. Any volunteers? Any readers with connections to Chetty et al?
4) Any predictions as to whether or not US News will use this data in its next set of rankings? Should it?
Click on the image, or check out The Timesdirectly, for more detail. But the basic message is simple: Williams is a rich families school in absolute terms, but less so than its NESCAC peers. Comments:
1) Again, this has little (nothing?) to do with the moral rectitude or policy preferences of the presidents and trustees of these schools. You really think that Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity cares less about economic diversity than Adam Falk? Hah! Trinity is a (much?) poorer school than Williams so it can’t afford as much financial aid.
2) These differences are large and meaningful, even among schools with not-dissimilar endowments and student populations. For example, I would not have predicted that the median Middlebury family was 1/3 richer ($244k versus $186k). I also can’t decide if Wesleyan, one of the poorest schools in NESCAC, has such a lower median income and small percentage from the top 1% because of a serious (and expensive!) commitment to socio-economic diversity or because its reputation as a social justice warrior school makes it less appealing to the wealthy. Comments welcome!
3) One of the main mechanisms, I think, by which schools manage the distribution of median income is via the wait list. The rich schools, like Williams, claim that family income plays no part in who gets off the wait list. (I believe that claim, but sleaziness in the use of the term “low-income” makes me more suspicious than I want to be.) Less rich schools take family income into account, which I bet means that the vast majority of students who get off the wait list require no financial aid.
4) The other mechanism for controlling the income distribution is to squeeze out the upper middle class, especially folks making somewhere between $75,000 and $180,000. These folks aren’t “poor,” and so, according to NESCAC presidents/trustees, don’t really add to socio-economic diversity, but they can be very expensive. Indeed, creating a barbell distribution — lots of super-rich and very poor — is the natural strategy for any school which wants to have the resources needed for a first class education (for which you need families that require no aid) with a commitment to social justice (for which you need poor, and not just “low income,” families). However, I could be wrong about this. Perhaps the entire distributions are shifted?
Williams is, even among elite schools, somewhat extreme in pursuing this barbell approach. We have among the highest percentage of students from both the top 0.1% (2.8%) and from the bottom 20% (5.3%). And, as long as these students have very strong credentials — Academic Rating 1 or, maybe, 2 — I think that this is great thing.
The entire discussion around socio-economic diversity at elite colleges is about to change, all because of this new data set, produced by Stanford Professor Raj Chetty and colleagues. But, if you have been reading EphBlog for the last 10+ years, little of this will be news to you. From The New York Times:
Students at elite colleges are even richer than experts realized, according to a new study based on millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records.
At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown – more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent.
The Times should consult better experts. We have always pointed out that Williams, like all elite schools, is a bastion of privilege, that the student body is, and always has been, dominated by the very wealthy. Recall this discussion from two years ago. I get into trouble when I argue that this is largely inevitable — very smart people are both likely to be rich and blessed with smart children, because of both nature and nuture — and not necessarily a problem. See this ten (!) part series from three years ago for background.
The key data can be summarized in one table:
If you find this surprising, then you haven’t been paying attention. Or you have naively believed some of the drivel from Williams! Recall the news release about early decision for the class of 2021 from December:
[N]early 20 percent of Early Decision admits come from low-income families.
Before reading further, ask yourself, “What is a reasonable definition of the term ‘low-income’ when used in a press release?”
If you are an idiot — or merely one of the “experts” that The Times likes to interview — you probably take this at face value. Why would it be surprising that 20% of Williams students are from low income families? (Yes, I realize that this is just the early decision pool and that the Chetty data does not cover the class of 2021, but those factors don’t matter.) The answer, of course, is that Williams is being about as truthful as Trump’s press secretary when he estimates inauguration attendance. Mary Detloff kindly provided this clarification: at Williams, a “low-income” family is one with less than $85,000 in annual income.
I bet that not a single one of our readers picked a number that high as a fair definition of “low-income.” A much more reasonable definition of low income would be the bottom 20% of the distribution.
By that measure — which is probably what the vast majority of (naively trusting!) applicants and alumni had in mind when they read the College’s news release — only 5.3% of Williams students are low income, not “nearly 20%.”
I have always known (and shown!) that Williams is a place of privilege, a bastion of the economic elite. And that is OK! The elite have to send their children to college somewhere. My great annoyance has always been the College’s tendency to obfuscate this central reality, to pretend otherwise, to twist the meaning of phrases like “low income” in order to mislead. The EOP data makes those sorts of lies much less tenable. Hooray!
Any commentary on the specific values in that table? Richer colleges like Williams/Amherst/Swarthmore/Pomona have higher percentages from below the 60th percentile, not because the people who run those colleges are any more committed to socio-economic diversity than the people who run other schools, but because their endowments are so large that they can afford the extra-spending on financial aid. You really think that Will Dudley ’89 (new president of Washington and Lee) loves non-rich people less than Adam Falk? Hah! But some of the differences might have interesting explanations. Why would, for example, Swarthmore have less than half as many students from the 1% as Williams?
What sports teams should Ephs route for? As always, EphBlog takes the view that, in all areas, you should route for the person/organization most closely associated with Williams. Even Republican Ephs should, for example, vote for Democratic Senator Chris Murphy ’96 to be re-elected.
When it comes to sports, my suggestions would be:
Football: The New England Patriots, largely run by team president Jonathan Kraft ’86, a former Williams trustee and heir apparent in the Kraft Group, which owns the team. That the Patriots are also geographically close to Williamstown is also a plus. Is there another football team with a meaningful Eph connection?
Baseball: The Yankees (in the American league) and Pirates (in the National League) are both owned by Eph families, the Steinbrenners and the Nuttings. What other baseball teams have Eph connections?
US Soccer: Perhaps the New England Revolution, also owned by the Kraft family? Dan Calichman ’89 is an assistant coach at Toronto FC. I think there are some Ephs associated with the expansion franchise Los Angeles FC. Others?
On hockey and more international leagues (La Liga? Premier League?), I have no suggestions. Help us out, readers!
… well, the Swart clan anyway. Family members marched in Seattle, Oakland, Boston, and DC.
Here is a family reporter from DC:
It was a great and important day today in Washington DC and the Women`s March. We wanted to take Metro but when we got to our station, the queue was about a 1/2 mile long coming out of the station (Uber was about $70!). We wound up driving (easy) and parked in a parking garage. Lots of incredibly clever signs so look closely at the pictures in the link, many are funny, scary, poignant, and everything between. The crowd was huge (a few hundred thousand at least I would guess) and things got extremely tight at times in the throngs but everyone was so nice and loving. No signs of anger (except at Trump) and just a good time peacefully demonstrating and exercising our First Amendment rights – very patriotic and very American! Hope all other demonstrating marchers today around the globe had an an equally positive experience standing up for important issues they believe in.
Professor LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant writes in the New York Times:
Attending the “Women’s March on Washington” has not once crossed my mind. I could conjure up a multitude of reasons why, but will raise what I consider to be most significant: In this event black women are merely peripheral interlocutors for what are supposed to be women’s rights and human rights writ large. There is a long history of black women being overlooked by, excluded from and co-opted into events that profess to be for the benefit of all women but that at their core almost exclusively benefit middle class, straight, white women (á la All the Women Are White).
Black women have also faced the repercussions of another egregious omission where they are asked to put their own political, economic and educational needs aside for the benefit of black men. Here, one might take a behind-the-scenes look at the famous 1963 March on Washington (from which this most recent event’s titular appropriation occurs). As Ashley Farmer notes, “despite their critical roles in the infrastructure, logistics and planning … leadership marginalized black women’s voices and subsumed their gendered political priorities under the banner of civil rights” (á la All the Blacks Are Men).
Considering the real-life wage disparities, limited access to health care, heightened state of poverty, et cetera that affect black women disproportionately, I cannot over-emphasize Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “intersectionality,” a term which is never merely semantics. This march alerts my suspicions like a spidey sense. And, that many young black women who are on Facebook (the March’s primary organizing platform) every single day are either ambivalent or utterly unfamiliar with this event confirms my suspicions.
As I have previously written, the sense of betrayal white women have expressed in the post-election season is at best disingenuous, since we cannot say enough about the ways they turned out at the polls. The impetus of this march — Donald Trump’s election to the office of president of the United States — seems too little too late. So do not look for me at the Women’s March on Washington 2017, especially since no one was looking for me anyway.
1) Always good to see a Williams professor writing in the New York Times. The more that our faculty appear in prestige publications, the higher the quality of applicant we will attract and enroll.
2) Any professors/students/alumni going to the march? Tell us about it!
This cartoon from the September 19, 1936 issue of The New Yorker expresses sentiment felt by many at that time.
This cartoon in the property of Conde-Nast. It is doubly interesting that it appear in Ephblog since Raoul Fleischmann, Williams 1906, financed The New Yorker and ran it for many years with the legendary Harold Ross as the editor.
The Translux was a movie theater showing only newsreels … theTV/Phone/Screen of Choice of the day.
1) Always glad to see faculty (and staff!) engage with students about political issues. Kudos to all the participants. I hope that the Record covers this event.
2) We all recall a similar event eight years ago when faculty and staff upset about Obama’s election talked about their views . . . Oh, wait! That didn’t happen? Who could have predicted that? In fact, eight years ago, the College paid for buses to take 100 students to the inauguration. Were similar buses hired this year? I bet not, even though I bet that at least some students would take advantage of such a trip.
3) Any Ephs participating in the ceremonies? Tell us in the comments!
A recurrent debate in academia is: How much should standardize test scores count in admissions? This debate occurs at Williams, but the College, like almost all its elite peers, decided long ago that the answer would be: A lot! Graduate school admissions, on the other hand, are more varied. Some schools/programs prefer not to weight GRE scores that heavily, sometimes justifying this stance by noting that such scores don’t predict success in graduate school that well. Of course, most of the time this lack of success is due to a restriction of range. Math GRE scores don’t predict success in the Harvard Physics PhD program because all the students in the program have 800s.
1) Exactly right! Standardized test scores probably help the student from U Mass in her competition with the student from Williams.
2) Always nice to see Williams used to mean privileged. This is part of our brand!
3) I have heard that Williams professors do an excellent job, on average, in their recommendation letters. True? The Physics Department, for example, has an amazing track record in terms of getting its students into top graduate programs.
A more dispassionate placement of climate change alongside a range of worrying problems does not mean there is nothing to worry about. But it points away from sui generis mitigation at all costs and toward an existing model for addressing problems through research, preparation, and adaptation. It suggests that analytical exercises that would never be applied to other worrying problems, like assigning a “social cost” to each marginal unit of carbon-dioxide emissions, are as inappropriate as estimating a “social cost of computing power” as it brings humanity closer to a possible singularity, or a “social cost of international travel” as it elevates the risk of a global pandemic. Taxes on any of them are closer to political statements than efficient corrections of genuine externalities, and each would be more likely to stall meaningful economic and technological progress than to achieve a meaningful reduction of risk.
Lessons might run in the other direction as well: We are not focusing as much on other challenges as we should. And perhaps, if climate change were consigned to its rightful place in the crowd, some additional attention might be available to concentrate elsewhere. If the level of research support, policy focus, and international coordination targeted toward climate change over the past eight years had gone instead toward preventing and managing pandemics, imagine the progress that could have been made. For a fraction of the cost of de-carbonizing an industrial economy, it could be hardened against cyber attacks; with a fraction of the attention corporations pay to their own purported climate vulnerability, they could make real strides in their own technological security.
A little bit of worry provides healthy motivation. Too much is a recipe for paralysis, distraction, and overreaction.
Read the whole thing. Cass’s perspective — like the perspectives of others skeptical that climate change is a major problem that requires special attention from the federal government (or the College) — is not welcome at Williams. As we discussed last summer, Williams believes that only one side of the debate should be heard on campus. Is anyone else concerned that Williams is morphing from a college into a madrassa?
Gargoyle is interested in Williams history and has passed along some questions about life at Williams is the mid-to-late 1980s. I will be posting (and answering) these questions. If you were around during this era, please chime in!
What were the major issues and topics of conversation that students at Williams were concerned with?
Issues and topics of conversation were, more or less, the same then as now. Consider some front page articles from the issues of the Williams Record from September 2016.
Seniors, Faculty Convocate
Minority Students Preview Science Courses
Student Rental Disturbs Neighbors
College Council Discussed Ways to Recruit Minority Faculty
Baker Like Mass MoCA
Falk Appoints Cook to Head Race Relations Board
Department Chairmen Stress Minority Recruitment Efforts
Tauber Chairs IPECS, New Department for Innovative, Interdisciplinary Courses
Council Reorganizes Freshmen Council
Oh, wait. Did I claim that these were the front page Record articles for September 2016? My mistake! Those were the front page Record articles for September 1987. (I made two switches: replace (then president) “Oakley” with “Falk” and (then governor) “Dukakis” with “Baker.”) Careful readers might have been suspicious about some of these headlines. We now use “chairs” instead of “chairmen.” We now talk about “diversity” instead of “race” or “minority.” Professor Kurt Tauber (bless his Marxist heart!) is long retired and Professor Tim Cook, sadly, passed away several years ago.
But, to me, the amazing thing is the constancy of the issues/topics that concerned the Williams community, then and now. Indeed, with minor word changes, each of these titles could be a Record article today. We were obsessed with race in the 1980s. Williams is obsessed with diversity today. Affirmative action — admitting students and hiring faculty with worse qualifications because of the color of their skin — was controversial then, just as it is today. The general liberalism of Williams students has, if anything, grown over time. There was an active Garfield Republican Club in the 1980s, not so today.
Of course, many other issues/topics are different. The biggest single issue at Williams during this era, as we discussed yesterday, involved apartheid in South Africa and the College’s response to it, especially in terms of divesting the endowment from companies doing business there. There was a “shanty town” on Chapin Lawn, at least for a several months and maybe longer. An impressive display of white crosses in the same location, to illustrate the fatalities associated with apartheid, was a major event one year. Concerns about nuclear winter were common, with movies like The Day After highlighting the dangers of conflict with the Soviet Union.
Yet, looking back, the political disputes then and now are more similar than they are different. The major changes have been technological. For example, how much porn does the typical (male?) Williams student consume each week? Thirty years ago, pornography was vanishingly rare. There must have been (male?) students with copies of Playboy and Penthouse, but I never knew of them. My avante-garde theatre major roommates rented a porn video once and, on at least one occasion, Images showed something along the lines of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but the modal Williams student viewed almost no pornography while at Williams.
Similar changes have come in all sorts of communications technologies. Back then, the typical Greylock suite had a single phone line, shared by 4 or even 6 students. Non-local calls were so expensive that, at the end of each month, roommates would look at the bill and specify (and pay for) the calls they had each made. Finding out a fact as simple as, did the Dodgers win last night, was non-trivial.
Some students had TVs but channels were limited and reception poor. Cable only became available in some dorms, and then only in the common areas, in the later 1980s.
Summary: A transcript of a Williams college class from thirty years ago, especially something in the sciences or humanities, is very similar (98%?) to today’s transcript. A practice session for the soccer team or the Springstreeters is also more-or-less the same. But the entertainments students consume, the communications they employ and the computer devices they use are all radically different.
How would our reader who were at Williams in the 1980s answer this question? What about readers from other eras?
This is another email to encourage all students to come out and participate in this year’s Winter Study Workshops. This week has even more opportunities to participate in, including movie screenings with Men For Consent, military presentations from the Student-Veteran Association and screen printing with Williams Vista. Also newly added to the calendar is the Sustainable Investing Symposium, organized by TL Guest ‘17 and Don Carlson ’83, which will have interesting panels and events all day Thursday and Friday.
If you are interested in joining a class, please email the organization to find out time and location info.
If you have any questions about the program or are still interested in hosting a workshop, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific workshop, feel free to reach out to the club unix.
Vice President for Academic Affairs